What to do with all those Green Tomatoes.

This year was rough on our tomato crop.  The cold and damp conditions made it difficult for them to ripen completely.  This appeared to be the case for everyone around us too.  When we would go to the farmers market we would hear the same story over and over again, “The tomatoes just weren’t doing so well this year.”

So…what to do now that it’s October and I have a bushel full of unripened green tomatoes?  I don’t want to let them go to waste; luckily, there are other options (and I’m not just talking about frying them.)

I want to share a trick my Grandma taught me that can make yer “mater’s” blush, and quite possibly give you tasty tomatoes up till Christmas…  (It’s super, duper simple.)

You’ll need:

A cool, dry place, like the basement.
A stack of newspapers or brown paper bags.
Green Tomatoes
A large flat surface that will be undisturbed.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes on the right ripe after about 1-2 weeks.

So, all you have to do is lay out a few sheets of newspaper, or flattened paper bags and place the tomatoes on top.  Make sure they aren’t touching, give them a little bit of space.

After you have all of your tomatoes placed, cover them with a few more sheets of paper or brown paper bags and check them every few days.

When you see a tomato starting to form a little bit of a blush, remove it from the group and bring it upstairs to finish ripening.

 

If you want to ripen a bunch of them at once, leave the blushing tomatoes there for a while.  The ripening tomatoes produce a natural plant hormone called ethylene, which will help push along the ripening process for the other ones.  If you want to slow down the process, make sure to remove the tomatoes that show signs of ripening right away.

You’ll want to make sure you keep an eye out for any tomatoes that might form mold and remove them right away if you spot any.  If they go unchecked it could spoil the whole batch.  (You know the saying, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch…or tomato in this case.)

That’s all there is to it!  I’ve been doing this with our tomatoes and it works very well.

In my next post I’ll show you what we’re doing with all our ripe tomatoes.   I’ll share our recipe for home-made roasted marinara sauce (It’s soooo good!!!), and how to preserve it using a canner.

 

Stuff the Psychic said.

It’s been a while since I posted about psychic stuff and I feel like sharing this experience with the hopes that itmight help some other people out there as much as it helped me.

A few weeks ago I was out with my Mom and Brother on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin.  We stopped at this little store just off of State called Mimosa, it’s a metaphysical store that sells precious stones, incense, sage, books, instruments and all kinds of other cool stuff.

Mimosa is one of my favorite places to go when I’m in Madison, the vibe is always wonderful and I feel very peaceful when I’m there.  Along with a wide variety of spiritual and metaphysical goodies, they also offer psychic readings.  That day I felt compelled to get a reading and I met with a psychic by the name of Ronna.

I am already a believer in psychic experiences/phenomenon; that said, seeing Ronna really helped solidify and re-affirm those beliefs during a time when I was feeling a bit disconnected and down.

I sat down for the reading and she introduced herself and we began.  Right from the get-go, she seemed to be picking up some important things going on in my life.  The very first thing she said to me was, “You need to quit smoking!”

(I’m working on it by the way…)

This statement was significant for me because my Aunt Patti had died of lung cancer that same week, so it’s a subject that had been weighing on my mind.  If spirits are real (which I think they are) you can bet Patti was there shouting at me to stop being a dumb-ass and put down the smokes.

In fact, Ronna did say Patti was there and she told some things that really put my mind at ease with regard to my Aunt.   Summed up, I was told that Patti still around in her spirit form, and she’s happy and will always be there for me if I need her, and she loves me.  :)  That really helped me to hear it, especially the next day when I went to Patti’s funeral, it was a rough day.

My reading with Ronna didn’t stop there however, she continued with a bunch of other things that seemed strangely, eerily relevant to my life and spot on with my own personality and my personal findings and insights over the years.

I was told I need to get outside more often, that I need to garden more and have my hands in the dirt.  She said I would find more peace out in nature than inside of a church.  She said nature recharges me and I get moody and irritable if I don’t get my charge time out in the forest.

Ronna was spot on with those insights, this is something I’ve already discovered about myself, but it was good to get the reminder.  Her words affirmed the path I am walking with regard to permaculture, sustainable practices and eco-organic farming and made me realize I’ve been neglecting that part of my life recently and getting stuck in a rut, maybe just what I needed was to be stuck in the mud. :P

On the subject of nature, Ronna also had other interesting things to say, that part of the reason I need to be outside frequently and connected with nature is that I am an elemental.  She said I intuitively pick up on things and can speak to nature spirits and animals and that I need to learn how to accept that part of myself and tune in more to that side of life, in doing so I will find much higher levels of peace.

Her statement that I was an elemental struck a level of interest in me.  I have had many strange experiences in my life that have caused me to seek and search in an attempt to understand my own nature, and answer the question of who/what am I.

(Something I think we all do to some degree.)

Whatever label we want to give ourselves  whether it be human, elf, star-seed, fairy, elemental, dragon, vulcan, etc.  I think it’s true that we are all a part of nature, human or not ;).   We have been separating ourselves from nature and denying that connected aspect of ourselves for far too long.

On the subject of my own nature, she had some other striking things to say.  She told compassionately, yet in a very matter of fact fashion, that I need to just accept that I’m psychic. She said that it can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it, but if you accept it for what it is life gets easier.  She continued that she knows how difficult it is being around people sometimes and feeling overloaded with extra “stuff” and sometimes questioning your own reality and sanity and the things you perceive.

With regard to perceptions and maintaining a good level of peace and clarity, she said I would do myself a great favor by actively cleansing myself and my environment with sage (sage smudging) and that I should try wearing fluorite for it’s protective, healing, and clarifying properties.  She said she understands it can be a lonely and misunderstood road at times, but I don’t have to walk it alone, and there are ways to make the road less rocky.

Ronna also suggested that when I feel alone or down I should try calling upon the divine feminine however I am most comfortable with perceiving her.  (Some see her as Quan-Yin, others as  Mother Mary, etc).  She said calling upon that aspect of the divine will help me to feel loved unconditionally when I’m feeling alone, weary and overburdened.  At that point, she said she was receiving a song meant for me and she sang it.  It was very peaceful and inspiring at the same time and gave me a strong feeling of hope.

With regard to all the challenges that have come up in my life right now I was told that I can ask for these “lessons” to be a little softer and easier to process.  The dark night of the soul shall pass, things will get better.  :) Hearing that was a huge relief.   I’m glad I went to see her on a whim, maybe it was my own guides nudging me in that direction, it was just what I needed at the time.

If you ever find yourself in the Madison area, I highly recommend taking a trip to Mimosa and seeing one of the psychics there, I’ve met a few of them now and I have been pleased with the results every time.  Plus, they carry some really cool stuff for a fair price.  :)

Facebook Withdrawal

It’s been a couple of months since I deleted my Facebook account, while I don’t regret the decision, I have found myself sometimes missing the hours of scrolling endlessly through posts of selfies, cats, food, and dirty laundry.   I kid, I don’t miss that shit a bit (well maybe the cats…).

However, I do miss the updates from useful groups that talk about organic food, or clean energy, or self sufficiency.

There is something nice about seeing those kind of uplifting tid-bits every day, and it serves as a reminder that the world isn’t completely screwed.  Then again, the cynicism will usually start to creep back up after seeing some of the other (usually stupid) posts on facebook (drunk duck faces and the like).

I don’t have any plans to go back to that flawed facade of a social network, but I realize it’s time to get my nose to the grindstone so to speak and start looking around for some more positivity fuel.  Any suggestions?

Processing…

My last post was about how my Aunt passed away 3 weeks ago.  This post is a sort of follow up to the previous one.  I’m Sposting this more for myself.  My therapist gave me “homework” and told me to write about everything that has happened.  We made a goal to have 4 posts written…I’ve been procrastinating, a lot of this is difficult to write about and stuff I’m not super fond of sharing.   I should warn you that parts of this are kind of graphic, most of it isn’t very feel good but, it’s my way of releasing some things.

There’s more I would like to say with regard to my My Aunt Patti.  There’s more to the story.  I want to share some of the emotional challenges we’ve dealt with in the years leading up to her death.  I watched as my Aunt morphed into a completely different person and it was very difficult.

I always thought of Patti as a strong, willful,  independent lady.  She was proud of her job, of her organizational skills, of the way she seemed to have it “together” she was proud of the way she had faced life’s challenges and seemed to come out on top, especially given the difficult situations she had been in.

That all seemed to change after she lost her job and got diagnosed with fibromyalgia; it seemed that her life started unraveling.   Her confidence seemed to diminish,  she was put on heavy pain killers like Vicodin and Oxycontin to fight the pain from her fibro.  My Aunt Patti always liked to party.  She would jokingly refer to herself as a functional alcoholic.  She would have a few beers in the evening to unwind, and some mixed drinks on the weekends.   After she lost her job and the Fibromyalgia started to take it’s toll she started drinking more, slowly becoming less and less “functional”.

In 2010 things went from bad to worse.  My Aunt Cathy died on my birthday, my grandpa died on my wedding day, Patti’s best friend Rose died that summer and that fall, things started to get really weird.  Over the next few years she accused every member of the family, even her own son of doing horrible things, like spying on her, stealing from her, and just plain messing with her.  We were all suspects in her eyes at one point or another.

When all this first started, we believed her and it wasn’t uncommon for one of us to get a phone call at 3 in the morning from Patti, asking us if we would come check her house, or call the cops for her, she was sure there was an intruder.  Once I remember coming over to see her prying up the floorboards in the room upstairs because she was convinced someone had placed recording equipment there.  We never saw any of the “big evidence” she claimed to have, though there were some unsettling things that happened over the next few years.

Sometimes I would wonder if she was right and someone was up to something, but I couldn’t figure out who would have the motivation or time to do all these things Patti said were constantly happening.   Aside from that, most of the time it was circumstantial at best, a cup was here, now it was there.  Sometimes it was scary.  I remember being really freaked out when she said someone was cutting off the plugs to her lamps.  I wasn’t freaked out because I thought someone else had cut her cords, I was freaked out because I thought it might have been Patti doing it herself.

We started to worry that her mental health was deteriorating and that she might be blacking out and doing these things and not remembering it.  She drank more than she would ever admit to, we would find huge bottles of Yeager all over the place, she was on lots of narcotic prescription drugs along with Adderall.  We wondered if she was experiencing a bad med interaction, or if the alcohol was finally taking it’s toll on her.  We couldn’t approach her with that though, she wouldn’t hear it, it would always turn into a fight with her screaming at us.

Her behavior started to become really irrational and scary.  She started getting violent, she slapped a couple of people and went to jail.  She would be awake for days and days.  She would wander around talking to herself and muttering things under her breath.  We tried to intervene and she wouldn’t have it.  Eventually it got bad enough where we sent a letter to her therapist asking for help, we had a family meeting with my grandparents, uncles, parents, Patti and Jim;  it soon disintegrated into people screaming and yelling at each other and it reminded me of Thanksgiving.

I hated the holidays  because it always meant there was a fight coming, usually between Patti and her older brothers or my Grandparents, usually it was because people were drinking.  I don’t think any of the holiday throw downs were ever as bad as that appointment though and everyone was sober.   I remember leaving the room and going outside to escape the chaos and fighting, on my way out the door I could still hear them screaming and I could see the shocked faces of the other people in the waiting room as they all stared in the direction of my shrieking family.

The therapist said it was the loudest family meeting he had ever seen in his 15 years of practice; he thought it was the Adderall causing Patti’s problems and she fired him when he told her she should stop taking it.

While it wasn’t anything new for my family to be loud and argumentative, it did seem to reach critical mass over the last 5 years, the common denominator was usually Patti.   No one wanted to be around her or associate with her because it would inevitably turn into a melt-down with accusations and insults being thrown at us. We all withdrew.

It made me sad, because I remembered Patti when she was still fairly normal and I missed being able to talk to her and hang out with her.  Unfortunately the Patti I remembered wasn’t there, she was replaced with a screeching, accusing and often frightening woman.  I kept my distance from her, my husband John and I moved down to Iowa in Fall of 2013, and about a month after we moved, we found out Patti had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and was given less than 2 years to live.

We returned to Wisconsin in June and Patti and I reconciled, she was off the Adderall and appeared to be doing better mentally, she seemed to have mellowed out a little bit.   However, there were still shadows of her former behavior that would come to the surface sometimes, luckily it wasn’t as often or as severe as it had been in the past.  She still smoked and drank, though not as much.  She was a stubborn woman, and she figured if she was on her way out anyway she might as well enjoy herself.    It was quite a sight watching her smoke cigarettes with her oxygen on.   Things weren’t perfect but,  I was glad to spend time with her and not have it turn into a melt-down.

She was admitted into home hospice care and  I lived with her as a caregiver for a short period after moving back to Wisconsin, it didn’t last very long, the small space of her tiny 1 bedroom apartment and clutter of boxes piled floor to ceiling made it difficult for us to co-exist.  She was still pretty independent and we both decided it might be easier if I just visit instead.  I moved back in with my parents who were just a few miles away.

The last time I saw Patti in person was Friday the 12th of September.  I had stayed over at her place on Thursday night; we sat up watching Ancient Aliens and talking about religion and philosophy. When I left her that Friday morning she seemed to be in good spirits.  She had plans to organize her apartment and get some things crossed off her to-do list.  I talked to her on Saturday and made plans to come help out on Sunday.

I woke up Sunday morning to hear my dad talking on the phone, Patti’s husband Jim called us and told us she had passed away.   My parents and I piled into the car and raced over to her apartment.  When we got there, we were met by Jim and the Sheriff.  Patti was still inside the place, but the Sheriff wouldn’t let us in,  he said it was gruesome sight and we wouldn’t want to remember her like that.  I never imagined cancer to be a gruesome sight in the way he talked about it.  He said there was a lot of blood.  He said it was normal for lung cancer patients.

While we were waiting outside Jim told us in between sobbing fits what happened.  He stayed the night with her and he said he heard a loud bang that woke him up.  When he went into the room where Patti was, he found her sitting slumped over on the couch.  He said at first he didn’t see that anything was amiss.  Patti’s cancer made it difficult for her to breath laying down so, she would often sleep sitting up.  He said he went closer just to double check that everything was ok and that’s when he saw that she had coughed up blood and that she was gone.  Something didn’t feel right about his story, my mind was filled with awful images that were difficult to shake of what may have been Patti’s last moments.

While he and my parents were talking,  I stared down at my feet awkwardly, not knowing what to say.    Patti and Jim were separated, and had only recently started to become civil and friendly toward each other.  It was the same for Patti and I, it was the same for all of us with regard to Patti.  The last five years have been really difficult for all of us all.  She would often say how she couldn’t understand how no one wanted to talk to her until they found out she was dying.  It’s like she couldn’t see how her previous actions and words affected us, how badly she stressed us out and hurt our feelings.

I remained lost in my thoughts for a while until my cousin Charlie and his wife TC arrived.  Charlie and I would later talk about her passing, we hoped that she found peace and the answers she was looking for, we hoped that after she passed away she realized that none of us were out to get her and none of us had ulterior motives all we wanted to do was help.

We were all there waiting in the cold for what felt like hours until the coroner finally showed up.   She bothered me immensely.  I don’t know if that kind of job just dehumanizes people or if you have to be naturally detached from emotions and empathy to do the work.

I found it disturbing how she was referring to Patti as if she were some inanimate object.  Saying things in a cheerful voice like, “Well I have a couple more pictures to take before we get her off the floor…”  We all winced when she said that.  It seemed lost on her that this was our family member she was referring to; a flesh and blood person and we were grieving the loss of her.

I also found myself confused-  Jim said he found her sitting slumped over on the couch.  How did she end up on the floor?  What happened in there?  I put those questions to the back of my mind while we waited for her to finish inside.

I remember watching the EMTs carry Patti out on the stretcher, the form under the body bag looked so small and frail… It didn’t look real to me.  I was still in denial about the situation.  I didn’t want to admit to myself that she was really gone.

After the Sheriff, the coroner and the EMTs left, we all filled into the apartment.  I heard the sheriff say it wasn’t a pretty sight but, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I saw in there.  There was blood everywhere.  I couldn’t comprehend it and I can’t get the image of it out of my head.  It was on the couch, the carpet, the pillows, books and binders.   That room looked like something out of a movie…horrifying and unreal.

My mother put on gloves and started dutifully cleaning things up, stuffing pillows and couch cushions into a garbage bag, years of working in an Emergency room had strengthened her stomach.  Not the case for me, I could feel the bile rising and I had to leave the room.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how horrible it must have been for Patti in her last moments.  My mind was flooded with awful images of what might have happened in there.  I had to go outside and get some air.  I was seriously questioning what Jim had said, how there seemed to be strange shifts in the stories I had heard.

Jim said he found her sitting on the couch, slumped over.  The coroner said she was on the floor.  How could he not have noticed the massive amount of blood in the room when he entered it?  Maybe it was dark?  What was the loud boom noise that woke him up?  I couldn’t make sense of it.

We left after mom finished cleaning up the room.  The rest of the day was spent calling family members and telling them what happened.  I spent the day in a fog not sure what to make of my emotions and my questions. That night my parents invited Charlie, TC and Jim over so we could discuss what would happen next with the funeral and we found out more about what happened from Jim.   He hadn’t told us the full story until then, maybe he was trying to shield us from how terrible it really was, maybe he couldn’t bring himself to talk about it at first.

He said when he found her she was still alive but in her final moments, he said she was twitching and convulsing, she had fallen off the couch and onto the floor, trying to breath but choking on her own blood.  She was gone before he could do anything, she was gone by the time the ambulance got there.  Jim said he couldn’t get the image of it out of his head, it was with him every time he closed his eyes.  I sympathized, when I walked into the apartment, that image alone was forever seared into my memory, my imagination filled in the rest in painful detail.  The image that intruded into my mind earlier in her apartment seemed to line up what he told us.  The horrible image of Patti on the floor…

A few hours later everyone cleared out of the house and I went to bed exhausted.

The next day I woke up and went outside for a smoke, chastising myself for continuing the habit after everything I had seen and affirming that I would quit soon.  I sat there with my thoughts and a hummingbird flew in and hovered just a couple of feet in front of my face for the longest time just looking at me.  I figured Patti sent it.

The next couple of days were spent clearing out her apartment, there were swarms of bees the whole time.  I have an app on my phone that gives the spiritual meaning of animals, for bees it was female warrior energy and communication with the dead.  Strange things started to happen, the hummingbird, the bees.  Another day, I sat outside drinking a cup of coffee and bees started swarming my coffee cup.  I figured it was Patti again.  I poured a second cup of coffee and set it on the table in front of the chair next to me and I saw in the chair what looked like heat waves and bright dots.  The bees were now leaving my cup alone.

The day before Patti’s funeral I went to see a psychic.  The very first thing the psychic said to me was that I have to quit smoking.  She said Patti was standing behind me, saying that lung cancer is a horrible way to die, you don’t want to go out choking on your own fluids.  She told me that Patti was happy now, that she could move easily and go wherever she pleased, that she could breathe, that she was surrounded by beautiful flowers.  She said she loved me and would be there whenever I needed her.  I broke down into tears.

 

 

 

 

 

Patti

My Aunt Patti passed away this morning.  I just talked to her yesterday.  Not really sure what to say.  I’m still processing this, it’s not like I didn’t know this was going to happen, she was in hospice and it was only a matter of time.  However, you can prepare all you want but, when this sort of thing happens it will still catch you by surprise.

I think it’s because there’s always that silent wish for a miracle, that sort of belief we cling to that our loved one will get past this and be better.  That wish is strong, no matter how many facts are staring you in the face that say otherwise.  When the inevitable finally happens you are mourning not only the loss of someone you love but, the absence of that miracle which could have saved them…

I love you Patti.  I will miss you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers

%d bloggers like this: