Mid-May, 2017

This is a busy month.

Mom had surgery on her rheumatoid-arthritis-affected spine, to remove bone spurs (ouch) and have titanium supports placed to protect her spinal cord and eliminate the pain she’s been having from pinched nerves and herniated disks (also ouch). The surgery was successful, but the bone spurs more numerous and intrusive than her doctor had hoped, so she has more recovery to make up than they had both hoped. She’ll be spending some weeks at the rehabilitation center for physical therapy, but already the pain in her leg from the pinched nerve has abated. She is still in some pain, but making progress.

The progress includes feeling better enough to start being concerned about a) the cat, b) the state of the laundry, c) the extent of the dust in her house, and d) my dad’s intake of vegetables, so we know she’s on the upswing!

Yale Commencement 2016. That looks like quite a crush on Old Campus, and I admit I’m not looking forward to the crowd. . .but miss it? No way.

Bookworm has finished all classes and exams and will be graduating on the 22nd. Her summer is set up: residential advisor in the dorms, teaching assistant for organic chemistry labs and classes for the summer session. She’ll be applying for jobs and internships as well. So proud of my girl! Sorry she won’t be coming home until August, but maybe we’ll go visit her. She is spending the week in Florida visiting friends and having a lovely vacation before graduation.

Pic from Virginia Tech News online mag, 2010

Gaze will graduate high school on the 26th. For university, he has chosen to join the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in the fall. VT is one of the few full universities incorporating a cadet body and a military environment within the larger student body. The Corps offers Reserve Officer Training Corps programs for Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as a Civilian Leader track; that is, there is the option to join the Corps and not go military afterward. I’m not sure which Gaze will choose. He may also choose to join the regimental band, but that is optional and he may decide not to pursue it. I’d be sad to see him lay his trombone down permanently, but I know that whatever he does with his spare time (which will be in short supply, given his cadet responsibilities), he’ll do it well. My nephew Curiosity will also be on the Virginia Tech campus this fall, as a student in the Engineering program. That’s pretty exciting, and I hope the cousins can get together for some fun on occasion.

My years as a Band Booster have come to a close, and I will now become a member of the Drama Mamas, supporting the Theatre Arts program at the high school. It will be interesting for Taz, I think, to be (finally) on his own there and to blaze his own path.

The boys ran in the last track meet of the regular season on Saturday; Gaze cut his 1600m personal record by 5 seconds, to 2:51, and Taz cut his 3200m PR by 8 seconds, to 11:05. I’m proud of them!

Perfume?
Well, it’s been a typical spring in terms of weather, if a bit colder than usual, so I’m wearing many of my favorite Greenies: Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, Ralph Lauren Safari. Oddly, though, I haven’t worn Chamade at all this spring, and every time I pick up Deneuve, something strikes me as wrong for the day/occasion and I have to put it down. (Shrug. It’s not like I’m short of fragrances to wear, right?)

I’ve been saying for months and months now that I really must divest of some of my lesser-worn perfumes. Really. Must. So here’s hoping that I’ll be able to get that started this week before we go to Yale graduation…

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November 17, 2016

(Photo from Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl blog)
(Photo from Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl blog, but this looks like late autumn on our farm.)

Sunshine and short sleeves.


Laundry on the clothesline.

baby-eNew baby nephew!!! Born this morning, good healthy size, baby and mommy doing just fine. Welcome, Baby E.

Doggle being snuggly. (I think he might suspect we’re going away. We’ll probably come home to find all the furniture in shreds.)

Packing for Belize.

Mini Diptyque Le Redouté candle and glorious, joyous Teo Cabanel Alahiiine.
Gentle, gracious words of reconciliation from friends on both sides of this ugly, ugly election.

Feeling grateful.
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Her Life Was on Fire, But at Least She Smelled Good

farmhouse_fire_by_fishin_musician
“Farmhouse Fire” by Fishin Musician on DeviantArt (click through for link)

Ever had one of those life-upheaving events happen? Where you’re not sure where you’ll be tomorrow and what you’ll be doing? And you don’t know who will be with you?

Yep.

This has been my life, since April. I’ve managed a couple of posts since then, but it was in the spirit of stiff-upper-lip, steady-the-boat “normality.” That was probably a mistake, but then I’ve made a lot of those at this point.

Things are starting to settle down a bit. Things are looking up a bit, as well. (Counseling, reordered priorities, heavy-duty prayer, stuff like that. The fire is out, for the time being, and rebuilding is going on.)

The constant? You won’t be surprised to hear that I smelled good the whole time. I turned first to sweet, gentle roses, because roses smell like love, and they will heal your heart. Then my greenies came into play — because with me there are always greenies! — for spring, and for delight.

I was a little worried that I might accidentally ruin a favorite by associating it with a time of upheaval. It didn’t happen. I’m not sure why, except that I might have been conscious of wearing perfume for my own comfort, and I tended to choose fragrances I find comforting – nothing “difficult” or odd.

Joseph's Coat climbing roseI even bought something new: a slightly-used bottle of Teo Cabanel Early Roses, on eBay, at a very steep discount. I’d used up two samples, so it wasn’t a blind buy, and it had been on my vague and nebulous To Buy list, but it leapfrogged over a couple of other fragrances because of the bargain. I’m loving it. (FYI, it’s a gentle fresh rose over ambered woods, soft and pretty and uncomplicated.)

I’ve been running around like a no-headed chicken this summer, what with Gaze’s crazy schedule, and then there was a tropical vacation, and then we all got sick, but things are better now. More on The Suitcase Summer later.

Here’s to rebuilding. And smelling good no matter what. Love y’all.

 

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May 2015

The mad end-of-school rush has started (middle-school track pizza party, end-of-year band banquet, end-of-year FFA banquet, et cetera, ad nauseam). There’s more to come, too; school here ends on May 29. There’s still FFA state public-speaking competition and the 8th-grade dance to come, and the conference track meet as well.

Bookworm is home for two weeks, before heading back to New Haven for the summer school sessions, at which she will be serving as a residential advisor in the dorms. She doesn’t get paid, but she gets room and board and tuition for one class, which seemed like a good deal to us! I love having her home.

Hunter-doggie has been scratching himself silly lately; we took him to the vet for checkup and shots and flea meds. The technician took him to the back for examination, and I heard him making his grizzling I-don’t-like-this noise… and then growling. Oh dear. The tech brought him back in to see if I could get the muzzle on him, which I did, but more growling ensued, and when the vet came in, she wanted to know if he was a problem at home. I told her that we’d clipped his nails once – and only once – because despite (or maybe due to) being held securely by both me and The CEO, he bit.

The vet suggested training. Which, yes, we probably ought to do. I just don’t know when we can manage to squeeze it in. I’m planning a small party for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, with my siblings, as well as arranging things for The CEO and myself to go to New Zealand for two weeks immediately after that.

The CEO will be teaching a travel class on international agricultural trade during Virginia Tech’s “Wintermester,” a short optional class session between the end of fall semester and the beginning of spring, this coming January.  He received a grant to go to NZ – where he did his master’s degree on a Fulbright scholarship – this summer to do all the logistics planning, and I’m going with him.

This is such a beautiful time of year. We’ve rolled through the redbuds blooming, the tulips and daffodils and hyacinths, the apple trees, the dogwoods, the wild cherries, and now the black locusts are perfuming the air far and wide. Gorgeous. The CEO will probably start cutting hay next week.

bjrHave been watching Outlander on Starz, the second half of the first season (season 2 is already in production, yay!). It just keeps getting better. The CEO is watching it with me now, and enjoying it as well. The casting in this is just so good… the only time I remember seeing Tobias Menzies before was as [Judi Dench] M’s assistant in “Casino Royale,” but he is tearing up the screen as the truly loathsome and sadistic yet totally magnetic Black Jack Randall. GO WATCH, if at all possible. You’ll thank me.

Photo by The Southwest Times.
Photo by The Southwest Times.

Gaze had a really good track meet where he lowered his mile (1600m) personal record to 5:09. That was followed by a mediocre meet, and then one in which he ran a solid first leg of the 4 x 800m relay, threw up, then ran half of a killer 20-seconds-faster-than-his-PR-pace mile, hit the (metaphorical) wall, and finished with half a mile probably slower than his middle school races. SIGH. Poor baby. The track team’s Facebook account ran some great pics, including one of Gaze during that 800m, looking like Death in a singlet, with his coach looking really alarmed on the sideline.  As his mother, if I hadn’t seen him looking okay and consuming food between the time of the meet and the time the photo was posted, I’d have been very very worried.  But I’ll give you one of him kickin’ it in the relay instead.

We are bottle-feeding two baby calves. They’re both girls, with eyelashes longer than a B-list star with two sets of false lashes on the red carpet. The CEO wants to call them Priscilla and Lydia, but Bookworm objects. I’m not sure why. One got separated from her mother when a group of cows was moved to a new field, and the other was found simply wandering and looking hungry – she may have been a twin. They’re very sweet.

I’ve been wearing all my greenies, same as last month. But it’s already getting hotter, and I’m wanting less greenery in my florals now. Time to haul out the summer things and put some of the chillier fragrances away. (Still loving Le Temps d’une Fete, though. I think that’s perennial.)

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Well, this is embarrassing…

After all that hullabaloo about the blog format and finally going with that girly Parisienne-ish black and pink, and the back-and-forth of “I can’t read it,” from my husband and “I have no problems” from some readers and “the background’s in the way” from others…

It transpires that the black and pink was actually sort of making me feel depressed.  I don’t mean Clinically Depressed, because I have family members and friends who deal with that, and I spent a good 4-5 months being it several years ago. I know what that looks like/feels like, and I don’t mean that. I mean simply that looking at that pretty black and pink made me feel heaviness of spirit.

Frankly it made me want to avoid my own website.

This just in: that’s a bad sign.

It’s funny how much color affects us, isn’t it?  I’m sure there are those of us that it affects more than others, and the marketing gurus absolutely know that. There’s a reason why McDonald’s uses red and yellow, for example. I’d like to think that I’m at least aware of the practice, and I do try to stick to my shopping lists (and coupons) wherever possible. As a matter of fact, I buy a lot of house brands, so unless I’ve found a house brand to be unsatisfactory (i.e., house brand Cheerios always get the texture wrong), I’m usually spending the least amount I can.

My bedroom walls are painted the color of this door. I love this color, though I admit it isn't particularly flattering ON me.
My bedroom walls are painted the color of this door. I love this color, though I admit it isn’t particularly flattering ON me.

But I digress. There are colors I like to live with, and colors that make me feel down, unenergetic, just-plain-wrong. I like the colors in my house. My bedroom is painted a soft buttery yellow, and the wall hangings and bed linens are a gentle silvery blue and cream, with accents of sage green (in summer I switch to a white comforter). I love turquoise and coral and pink and apple green; I love tan and tomato red and Delft blue too.

I don’t want to live with black, and I suppose that furnishing my blog with that much of it was a bad idea for me. So. I’ll be trying this blog theme out to see if I can live with it.

As for fragrance? I’m in that transitional niche, where as the weather is changing to Really Autumn, I’m setting aside my light florals. Ralph Lauren Safari, Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete, and Cuir de Lancome are getting a lot of wear these days. And I need to go dig out my decant of Dior Cuir Cannage, because I think it would be lovely in this cool, rainy weather.

Oh, and I’m behind on Project Perfume Divestiture. The dog has now eaten three perfume boxes (an Ungaro Diva mini box, the box for Rochas Tocadilly, and the one for… oh, a Love, Chloe mini I think it was). He has not yet tried to eat any actual perfume bottles, but GAH it is like living with a toddler, and I’m kind of frightened to get the To-Be-Divested box out of the cabinet again.  I’m WORKING ON IT, I swear.

 

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I hate purple

Um. So.  I hate purple.

WRONG. WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS.
WRONG. WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS.

Which is sort of sad, y’all. Hating a color? It’s weird, and frivolous, and has no earthly point to it.  All the same, I hate purple. Not all purples, mind you, though if you show me a purple garment I will probably duck and run rather than put it on my body. Probably.

lilacMind you, I like some purple flowers.  Lilacs, orchids, grape hyacinths, wisteria, crocuses, irises, pansies, tulips, violets: all good. (Lavender: not.)

grape juice_0   Ihave no objection to purple jam or juice or fruit.

cut youBut if you painted my bedroom purple, or replaced all my blue and green and cream and coral sweaters with purple ones, I would have to cut you. There’s just something about it that makes me feel, okay, depressed and angry and, I dunno, wrong.

As for purple perfumes… hmm. Well. You’ve got perfumes in purple bottles, and then perfumes that smell purple. What smells purple? Lilac. Lavender. Plum or berries. Violets. Heliotrope, maybe, though I tend to think of heliotrope as smelling cotton-candy pink. I have iconoclastic taste when it comes to purple perfume, too…

There aren’t that many that I’d choose to wear. Certain lilac ones, maybe – like DSH White Lilac, or Patou Vacances (though Vacances is at least as green as it is purple, or maybe even more so).  OH! Of course, Guerlain‘s lovely silvery-lilac Apres l’Ondee, I’d wear that.  Dior Poison, in that skeery deep purple bottle, though I admit it doesn’t smell as intensely purple as it used to. Lalique Amethyst wasn’t awful. I like Natori, in that purple bottle, and Thierry Mugler Alien, ditto, but neither one actually smells “purple” to me.  And violets, of course, of which there are a plethora of lovely violet scents: Penhaligon’s Violetta, for choice, but also Annick Goutal La Violette, and the apparently-disappeared Soivohle Violets & Rainwater (sad, it was lovely stuff). I rather like Lolita Lempicka.

But I hated Guerlain Insolence. Hated the stinky-jasmine purple juice of Serge Lutens Sarrasins.  Hated Marc Jacobs Lola. Was not impressed by SL Bois de Violette.

Okay, fine… I like THIS shade of purple:

THIS ONE, I like.
THIS ONE, I like.

How’s your relationship with purple, whether color or smell?

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Lately

I’ve been slacking on Scent Diaries again.

snow homeThere are 14 inches of snow on the ground outside. We still have electricity, thank goodness – this was a fairly dry snow with small flakes, so it didn’t pile up on the utility lines. It’s good sledding snow, though; the boys spent several hours sledding on the hill behind the house yesterday.

Our usual MO for being snowed out of school is to sled some, and then come in for hot chocolate and a marathon viewing of The Lord of the Rings extended box set. However, with Bookworm away at college, nobody seems to want to watch that. Sigh.

(Funny, this guy doesn't look much like Bane, does he?)
(Funny, this guy doesn’t look much like Eames from “Inception,” does he? Still less does he look like Bane. So young. And so skinny.)

We did, however, watch Black Hawk Down (edited for TV) with the boys last night. I’d never seen that all the way through. Good movie. Very very intense.  It left me with several questions, such as 1) Um, why were we in Somalia anyway again? and boy, we got outta there in a hurry.  2) Whatever happened to Josh Hartnett? 3) And why are there so many international actors – including the gorgeous and talented Eric Bana (Aussie), Ioan Gruffudd (Welsh), Ewan MacGregory (Scottish) Orlando Bloom, Jason Isaacs, and my crush Tom Hardy (all British) – in a movie about US military forces? They all manage credible Yank accents, by the way (Bana’s character is perhaps supposed to be Southern, and he overdoes it a bit, but then most non-Southern actors do whether they’re British or not).

Stolen from the internetses, don't remember where.
Stolen from the internetses, don’t remember where.

Currently reading Barbara Herman’s Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume. I’ve been enjoying Barbara’s blog, Vintage Perfume, for some time and was really delighted to see a book focusing on significant and influential perfumes, particularly things that no longer exist.  Loving her mini-reviews of classic scents.

My desktop background has been rotating around several photos of tropical beaches and/or flowers, like this one. I don’t know why.

Sunset005I did my nails, a pretty sunsetty coral color. I have terrible soft, chipping fingernails (have always had them, and so does my mom… so does Bookworm), and they are a strange, almost-square shape. Also, my hands are not particularly attractive, so I usually don’t bother, but I wanted color. This is very lovely – but I did two coats and a top coat, and it’s already chipped.

Perfume? Either my big winter heavy-hitters like Alahine and Tabac Aurea, Parfum Sacre, Centennial, Vanille Tonka, and Dolce Vita (in parfum, mmm, delicious), or BWFs like Tatiana, DK Gold, Carnal Flower, and Memoir Woman.

Okay, it’s stretching the category to call Memoir Woman a Big White Floral, because it’s so freaky-deaky – herbs! aromatics! leather! moss! castoreum! But that’s what it is at heart, beautiful jasmine and tuberose bolstered by all that harem stuff.

Oh – and I’m working on the novel, too. 🙂

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The Intervention Perfumes

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that this is your Scented Life these days: you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, and when you read Coming to My Senses: Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride by Alyssa Harad, you identified with every bit of her journey into perfumista-dom, and you now own enough perfume to scent yourself until you’re 211 years old, should you live that long.

And your friends and family have seen your perfume collection, and their eyes got round and they looked at each other in consternation and started talking about that TV show, “Hoarders.” 

And when people ask you about your “number,” you fudge it.  You come up with reasons not to count the backup bottles of vintage Emeraude, for example, or the old bottle of Victoria’s Secret Pink that you never wear anymore, or the decants, or the miniatures you bought in a lot on eBay, because, c’mon, they don’t matter, they were on deep discount or they were birthday presents or they’re not in the current rotation or you need them for reference.

Let’s just say.  For the sake of argument.

Family Arguments
So then your family members and friends stage an intervention.  They say things like:

“We’ve noticed that you seem to have a lot of perfume.”

“We’ve noticed that you often have difficulty choosing a perfume for the day.  In fact, we’re sometimes late because you couldn’t decide which one you wanted to wear.”

“We’ve noticed that you sometimes get cravings for a particular scent in the middle of the day, so you wash off what  you have on and put on something else.”

“And it’s time to stop.  You need to downsize.”

Nooooooooo! you scream.  No, I need all these perfumes. I need them all, they’re all different and I love them all and I want to be able to complement any mood, any weather, any occasion.  I need them!

“You seem addicted.”

I can stop anytime I want to, you say.  I can.  No problem.  I’m just enjoying myself.  I’m not addicted.

Then they get tough.  “We’re going to go through your cabinet.  You can choose a dozen perfumes to keep, and everything else is going away.  We’ll find good homes for them, don’t worry about that, but you need to decide which ones you want to keep.”

Nooooooo!  I want them all!

“Stop behaving like a child.  We know what’s best for you.”

“You will still have perfume!  You can keep a dozen bottles.”

“Maybe we should make it fifteen.”

Yes!  Or, or twenty!  Or maybe twenty-five.  I need to change with the seasons, don’t forget that.  And some of these things are dressy, and some of them are best worn with jeans, and some —

“Yeah, we get it.  Pick twelve.”

Twenty.  I need twenty.

“No, twelve is enough.”

But what if I fall in love with something new?  I could, you know.  Very easily.  They’re making new and fabulous things all the time.  In fact, Uncle Serge is planning a new gardenia —

“If you want a new bottle, you must either finish one, give one away, or sell one.  We are very serious about this.”

And when you bow to the strictures your loved ones place upon you, you pick twelve.

Seems like most perfume bloggers visit and revisit this topic from time to time: the Desert Island Frags.  As in, Which are the ten perfumes you would prefer not to live without?  Which ten do you love the most?  Which ten would you sell a kidney, or a first-born child, for?  (See this recent post at Olfactoria’s Travels to see readers come out of the woodwork to share their favorites.) I’ve always been a little annoyed with the “desert island” idea – very few of my favorites would do well in tropical heat – but I have a list, of course.  Everybody has a list. 

And of course, somebody always says, “I couldn’t do just ten, I had to bump it to twelve.”  Or fifteen, or twenty, or fifty…  And somebody else says, “Well, that’s my list for THIS week, but it’ll change without warning.”

Mine changes, too.  But this is what it looks like at the moment, in no particular order:

Vintage Coty Emeraude parfum de toilette

Teo Cabanel Alahine

Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete

Mary Greenwell Plum

Serge Lutens La Myrrhe

Guerlain Shalimar Light

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower (of which I only have a decant, of course)

Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea

Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet

Vintage Chanel No. 19 eau de toilette 

Cuir de Lancome

Deneuve

There, that’s twelve.  And I’m annoyed at leaving Jacomo Silences, Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur off the list, but there you go – you cannot have everything.  Give me another thirty seconds and I’ll have got this list to twenty cannot-do-withouts… F Malle Iris Poudre, Tableau de Parfums Miriam, Guerlain Chamade, Chanel No. 5 parfum, Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka. 

There, that’s twenty.  And I could keep going, but you get the idea, don’t you?  And why on earth would I want a “signature scent” now?  It would be like wearing the same clothes day in and day out.  (I know, some people do that.  Some people do fine wearing a uniform and don’t miss picking a sweater by the color and the weather. Whatever floats your boat, I say, but it doesn’t float mine.)

So: which bottles do you keep?  Which do you reluctantly place in the “Goodwill Donations” box or offer to fumehead friends?

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Miss Zola’s Candy Jar: discovering what’s in your sample stash

candy jar

Okay, so the morning I’m writing this, I’m looking for a particular sample I know I have on hand because a friend sent it to me. I know she did. I know I have it in my possession. It’s here. So where is it??

In the plastic craft box with dividers? Nope.

In the tiny stenciled willow basket on the nightstand? No.

In the carved red box made in Poland that Mom gave me for Christmas? Don’t see it.

In the pink depression-glass bowl on the dresser? Nuh-uh.

In the other plastic craft box? Yes, finally. And now I’m going to have to update that review of Ferre scents I posted last summer, because when I wrote it I didn’t have this other sample, and it changes everything. Well, it changes some things, anyway. Looks like I’m going to have to write an addendum. Grr.

And now I am thinking about samples: I have many. Probably too many. It’s quite possible that some of you are reading about my sample collection and thinking, Wow, that’s a lotta samples... and some of you are thinking, Oh, is that all she has? Thing is, I hardly ever completely finish a sample, unless I am convinced that I love it and I need a decant. Or a bottle. I like to keep things around for reference, though I noticed on my recent rampage through the sample storage that some of my “reference” vials are empty. They are the ones I had only left a drop or so in, and it may have been silly for me to keep them. Continue reading Miss Zola’s Candy Jar: discovering what’s in your sample stash

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Busy…

Yesterday, I…

Went to work, where the IT guys had upgraded our software without letting me know they were going to.  I mean, I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know it was coming yesterday.

Tested DSH Perfumes Susinon (1000 Lilies), from her new Secrets of Egypt Collection.  Review soon.

Packed up the boys and took them to my mom’s house, 75 minutes’ drive, to stay for a few days.

Picked up 13 of her old quart jars for canning use, and a bushel of peaches from the local orchard.

Went by the mall to pick up some Lavender Vanilla body mist for my sister’s birthday at Bath and Body Works.  Smelled the new Dark Kiss fragrance there (Angel Berries, if you ask me).

Meandered down to Macy’s for some higher-end sniffery than I usually get.  Drove home. Started an outline for a post on the experience.  It’s coming soon, probably Friday, definitely before the 1000 Lilies review.

Proofread The CEO’s letter to the newspaper editor (he’s annoyed with an AP story with a really-misleading headline).

Cleaned, blanched, packaged and froze 42 ears of corn.

Washed, blanched, peeled, chopped, cooked, and canned another seven quarts of tomatoes.  One jar didn’t seal – one! out of the 34 I’ve done so far… it’s in the fridge, I’ll make salsa out of it or something.

Whew.

Image is “backyard bee” from jennyw47 at Flickr.

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