Sunday, January 25, 2009

Canadian Backyard

Just received these photos from our friends near Dunham, Quebec. It's 17 degrees fahrenheit, with snow.

Citrus Processing Report

Meyer Lemon/Kumquat Marmalade

I spent all yesterday evening cutting and seeding the small bucket of kumquats. (Also cooked the above pictured batch of marmalade while slicing.) I am making a kumquat-only marmalade, a meyer lemon-kumquat marmalade, and I still have about 2 quarts of cut up kumquats left over. Not to mention the big bowl of them out on the patio. The cut up ones might end up as frozen puree, and the uncut ones outside might end up immersed in rum to make a liqueur. This is not all the kumquats either; there are still some ripening on the tree. I have to be grateful for them because they are the only thing we are rich in. I need to research the prospect of putting my preserve-making on a commercial basis and sell the stuff in the gourmet shops around town.

These are the pickled kumquats from last weekend. They are really spiced kumquats, preserved in a sugar/vinegar syrup with cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, other mulling spices.

The weather changed yesterday; the wind was south till about 12:15 then it shifted to north and got cold. While out on errands, I overheard numerous gasps as short-sleeved and shorts-wearing people stepped outside the store into the 50 degree north wind. We never put away our summer clothes here. We have trouble taking cold weather forecasts seriously so we are always surprised.

Friday, January 23, 2009

January's Great for Yard Work

Isn't this a great spider? I walked into its web last weekend, was VERY glad it stayed there. Its back looks like the shell of a crab, with pointy things sticking out. It's small, only about the size of my thumbnail.

I put the car in the shop today, decided to stay home because the weekend weather's not promising and today's weather is perfect. I have loads of St. Augustine grass choking my flower beds. Got some of it out of the daffodil/daylily bed last weekend, finished today. Started on the Louisiana Iris bed, didn't get too far before I got worn out. My first daffodil bud is about to open. The daffodils look a little thin; I might have delayed my grass-pulling mission too long.

It's about 70 degrees, soft south wind, partly cloudy. Tippy and Jasper supervise me as I pull grass, then go in with me when it's time to rest.

Here's my second kumquat harvest - tomorrow is going to be a citrus-cutting day. I already pickled about a dozen jars of kumquats last weekend, so the patio currently is short one of the shown bowls of kumquats. I plan to make about 3 batches of Meyer lemon marmalade, 18 half-pints. The husband wants more brandied kumquats; we'll see. The good thing about the brandied kumquats is that you don't have to cut and pick all the tiny seeds out like you do for almost any other kumquat preserve.

Here are the carport kitties Blue and Jake with Tip looking on.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This and that

We have had our part of the cold wave that is sweeping the nation. It has been getting close to freezing at night. Threats of cold led us to harvest the last three lemons and the last three million ripe kumquats. So this weekend will be a fantasy of kumquat preserves, lemon marmalade, and maybe pickled kumquats. We may have a mini-harvest of kumquats later, if they don't freeze, because there are many green ones still on the tree.

Here is another picture of the daughter and her girl gang (she's second from right). The official pics from the Christmas Dance 2008 are here - girl gangs rule.

One picture is of the gang on their way to the Christmas dance (daughter third from left), the other is the gang atop the lighthouse at St. Simon's Island, Georgia (daughter on right).

The local university just started classes January 14, but my class is only on Mondays. The first Monday of the semester is Martin Luther King Day, when there are no classes held, so I have to wait an extra week for my first class. I'm taking the second half of Introduction to Geographic Information Systems. We're using ArcMap and other ESRI software. Almost more fun than people should have.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Spring in January

Here's my neighbor's flowering plum. They planted three at the same time but this one always blooms before the other two. This photo was taken January 8. The high temp that day was 74 so the weather was just as nice as it looks.

It's 76 right now, a little after 3 pm. However, in the next hour a cold front's coming through and we'll have to turn off the air conditioner, turn on the heat tonight.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fiber to the Home is Almost Here!

I may run out of exclamation points but I'm so excited about Lafayette's Fiber to the Home Project.

We have seen Fiber Guys running the trunk lines underground lately, and this week they're running the lines on the poles in our neighborhood.

The individual prices for phone, internet, and TV haven't been announced, but the package prices on the web site are less than we're paying now.

Fiber to the Home (FTTH) means that the fiber optic line will run all the way to the outside of the home or business when it will change to coax for TV, maybe Internet. Other locations that have fiber usually have fiber only to the poles, and connect the poles to the homes with copper. Fiber to the Home means the high bandwidth possible with fiber optic cable, which also will have great benefits for business and education.

The project has had lots of bumps, with the local cable TV franchise mobilizing opposition. This project will be run by the city utility company, headed by visionary Terry Huval.

I can't wait to change over. They have even made provision for keeping the phones working during power outages, with a battery backup installed on the house. We only have power outages during hurricanes usually, and have made a policy lately of evacuating during direct hit hurricanes with a policy corollary of not returning till the power is back on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Spring in January

Can you believe this weather? I saw the first Japanese magnolia blossom today. If we don't get cold weather, the whole tree will be in full bloom in a few days.

There's also an ornamental plum tree in full bloom around the block.

Hope to get out with the camera soon to prove it. I need to go out, see what the backyard daffodils are doing. Last time I checked, they were getting choked out by St. Augustine grass. Maybe it's not too late to save them.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

We had a nice time on New Year's Day. It was a contrast from last year, when our friends from Canada were here, and cooked all kinds of delicious Quebec specialties.

It was just the three of us cooking, and we found it MUCH more work than last year when Lucie and Renald cooked and Evelyne helped tidy things up. I know they were thinking of us - Lucie e-mailed New Year's Eve and Renald gave us a call New Year's Day.

We had a great time - it was great to have the friends here. Salome attended for the first time - she is almost 11 months old. She is already walking, and has a love-hate relationship with Tippy. She felt driven to go outside to see him, but she would fuss when she saw him, then move closer to him. She doesn't have stranger anxiety for people but apparently she does for animals. Her mother says cats and hamsters freak her out too. She is lots of fun to play with and watch. Her parents stayed with us for a few days when they first moved here from France.

Some of our friends were sick and couldn't make it - we missed them very much.

Have to take the Christmas tree and decorations down this weekend - we have another warm, humid, and thunderstormy gulf coast weekend ahead of us.

The weather is going to keep me from taking some of the photos of camellias - they are in full bloom in the neighborhood. Soon as the weather dries up a little, I'll post some pictures.