In the Zone IX: Aches and Panes

So another three months have passed since my last update. I’m guessing you’re less than surprised. Less surprised than I am anyway.

You’ll probably be more surprised to know we managed to get the sunroom closed up before the snow flew. It’s flying today, by the way, and I’m happy to say not a single flake is getting into that sunroom.

I wouldn’t blame you for thinking there’s a caveat coming. But nope.

We actually had the windows in a couple weeks ago, but well, I’ve been busy. There was, after all, a lot to be done besides that sunroom. And with the Jarhead-of-All-Trades hard at work on said sunroom, it fell to me to do the things that require more brute force and determination than skill with power tools and geometry.

So while he replaced rotten studs and sill plates, and built headers and footers for the new windows, I dug potatoes, debrided the garden, spread manure, and destroyed my shoulder.

As a reward, I got to spend one hour in urgent care, three nights sleeping in a chair, and five days on prednisone.

Ah, middle age.

Was it worth it? You tell me.

All totaled, that garden yielded about 50 pounds of potatoes—about 30 red and 20 yellow. According to a sign for a roadside potato stand on Highway 21, the going rate for 50 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes is $11.99 (up from $10.00 as recently as 2017.)

Meanwhile, my copay for my visit to urgent care was $32.00, and my prednisone and professional pain reliever cost me $1.39 (don’t ask me why; I just work here.)

Even if you don’t count the ibuprofen and acetaminophen which I took for three days before finally dragging my butt into urgent care, I may have been better off buying potatoes at the store. And doing so 5 pounds at a time.

Especially since we don’t eat potatoes even once a week. And since I spent about 6 hours a week hoeing that garden, picking potato bugs (who, oddly, look a bit like Christmas candy) and shooing away cranes all summer. Then factor in the powder the Jarhead had to buy when simply picking the potato bugs by hand wasn’t cutting it. And the spray he had to resort to when powder wasn’t working.

It’s a wonder we got even 50 pounds of potatoes, really. But here they are.

Now, before you go laughing at the penmanship on those boxes, keep in mind I was writing with my left hand because if I so much as THOUGHT about moving any portion of my right arm I nearly died.

True story.

In addition to potatoes, our garden also yielded a decent amount of zucchini. And by decent I mean enough to:

  • bake a zucchini cake or 12 jumbo zucchini muffins every week for 6 weeks
  • bake and freeze 10 loaves of zucchini bread
  • shred and freeze 30 cups of zucchini for use in cakes, breads, muffins and quiche over the next 6 months

Can you really put a value on that?

I can. About $23.00—assuming you count the eggs, flour, sugar, cocoa, and propane.

We also yielded enough cucumbers to make several jars of fire and ice pickles, and to experiment with long term storage. About six pints are now in the freezer to enjoy—or discard in horror—over the next few months. Who knows how that will go. But I do know this: I’d rather take my chances with floppy pickles than botulism.

In addition to all that, I was able to put up 60 jars of rhubarb jam and 8 cups of pesto. So, a pretty good year as far as rhubarb, cucumbers and basil go.

We weren’t so lucky with some of the other crops. The first watermelon we cut open was white inside. The second one we cut open, two weeks later, was pink but still not ripe. The third one we cut open, another two weeks later, had already fermented. The remaining melons got hit by a hard frost and had to be tossed into the woods. Along with a dozen or so once-beautiful acorn squash that got frozen too.

Oh well.

At least we did better this year than last year. And the rabbits and the deer really seemed to enjoy them, if the speed at which they disappeared is any indication. (The speed at which the melons and squash disappeared, that is, not the deer or the rabbits. Just to be clear.)

But hey, the sunroom is secure, insulated, and wired up for lighting.

It still needs exterior siding and paint, interior walls, lighting, flooring, paint, and real stairs (as opposed to repurposed deck boards.) But it’s coming together nicely. And should be finished before Prince William becomes King.

And we already have a nice piece of artwork to hang in that room when it’s done: A time capsule unearthed by the Jarhead as he was tearing out the rotten walls.

How fun and simultaneously offensive to my feminist sensibilities is that?

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on the decor, and other aspects of the project. Hopefully sooner rather than later.