a fruit problem


We discovered we have a crabapple tree in the front garden. Chaos immediately ensued, resulting in this:


I may have a fruit problem.

Today I washed and chopped and boiled and strained all EIGHT POUNDS of those, and by the time I was done I was too tired to make jelly even if all I had to do was pour it all into a pot and boil it with sugar for fifteen minutes. And actually jar it. That was the part that seemed too hard. But the juice is an amazing shade of red and it’ll be interesting to see what color (and flavour) the resulting jam is. I hope it’s nice, because chopping all those up was a real you-know-what in the ass, as a teenage friend of mine once said to her mother. (“Honey,” her mother replied, “it’s all right to say ‘pain’.” :))

Yesterday I made more wild blackberry jam and apple jelly with cinnamon. The cinnamon apple jelly is a completely different color than the other two batches, and I don’t know if that’s because I boiled the others longer or if the cinnamon had some kind of dramatic effect on its gelling (because it seemed to gel a little faster) and color or if the two or three not-Bramley-apples that are more yellow-skinned than the Bramleys affected it or what, but it’s very pretty:


It’s got a faint pinkish tint I can’t get the phone’s sensor to register, but it’s very pretty, anyway. :)

The other day I found an apple dessert recipe that I thought looked good, and then I made it and it wasn’t so much good as “I think you could probably get out of a prison sentence with this stuff” delicious, so I made a second batch and yep, it’s that good.


I’ll post the recipe in a couple days. I’m too lazy to do it tonight. :)

I’m down to the last half basket of apples to process. I have about 12 pounds of frozen apples, four pounds of frozen apple pulp to turn into jam (because after overhearing me mumbling to myself about whether it was worth saving to make into more apple jam, which is what gave me the napalm-style burns, Ted got a spoon and tried the apple jam that was in the fridge, then left the room eating it straight from the jar, implying to me that it was worth saving…!), currently about 8 cups of crabapple juice and probably four pounds of crabapple pulp to turn into jelly and jam, another batch’s worth of wild blackberries, and half a batch of strawberries that I need to get rhubarb for so I can make one more batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam.

The weather is supposed to remain unseasonably nice for the next few days, so on Friday I’ll probably go out for a last foray into the blackberries because


there are still some ripening out there, and a lot down in the park where I got a couple of other big hauls. And then I’ll be done with the berries, I think, but we’ll have another apple-picking party soon and I’m going to have to figure out what the hell to do with all of them then. Like find out if there’s a local cider-maker or something…

Oh, I also got a new Old Races short story finished for the Patreon patrons, and should get that posted tomorrow. :)

Epic Disciplinary Parent Fail


Epic disciplinary parenting fail:

Note from teacher: Young Indiana had to be spoken to in the yard for licking other children.

Me, already trying not to giggle: Indy, did you lick someone in the yard today?

Indy, full of big blue eyes and guilelessness: Remember the game we were playing where we were dogs?

Me: …yes…

Indy: I saw one of my owners, so I had to lick him!

Me: ‪*completely loses it, bursts out laughing*

I’m still giggling. I eventually managed to look solemn enough to say he shouldn’t do that, but oh dear. The thing is, the dogs game was like two or three weeks ago, and the other kid had NO IDEA why Indy was licking him. *weeps with laughter*

I got words this week.


I got quite a few words this week, actually. Twelve or so thousand, which is a whole lot more than I’ve done in a long time. I even had a 5K day yesterday, which lent some faint hope that I’m actually getting back into the habit, swing of things, and stride. I reached 30K on REDEEMER, which is probably the 25% mark (it could be the 1/3rd mark, but probably not).

It feels like that’s about all I’ve been doing, though. I’m trying to figure out how to store more frozen apples, because I have really stupendous numbers of them to freeze, and although I have at least twice as much freezer space as Irish houses usually have, it’s not…nearly…enough. I’ve got more jam jars incoming and plan to make at least two more batches of apple jelly, although I probably won’t follow it up with apple jam because I’m still healing from the napalmjam burns from the last batch. And also it’s not worth straining without a food mill.

OMG, Rescue Bots is so awesome. They keep having pop culture references. 2001 (“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Cody,” spoken by a virtual reality video game; Skyrim (“…until I took an arrow to the knee…”), and just now, best of all, Back to the Future, spoken by Optimus Prime himself: “Where we’re going, we don’t need boats.” <3 <3 <3 <3 bahahahaha <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 :) Ahem. Where was I. Talking about apples. So many apples. I’m going to go figure out what to do with some apples…

Kitsnaps: Frosty Cross

A rimfrosted Celtic cross glows in the sunrise.

This photo is basically why I’m slow and reluctant to throw out old digital images. When I first looked at this, I didn’t think much of it, and put it away into a folder of things I wasn’t going to do any post-process on. Years and years later I opened it up again for some reason and went “Holy crap, that’s amazing,” and it’s ended up one of my favourite pictures.

It also ended up as the cover for Chaz Brenchley’s wonderful DEAD OF LIGHT, which he reissued a while ago as an e-book. :)

fruits of the garden


There’s been an unexpected benefit to having gone out and chopped my way through the nettles and brambles in search of blackberries, which is that I tromped quite a path out there and unintentionally exposed the plants to quite a lot more sunlight than they’d been getting. That, combined with a couple of weeks of unseasonably sunny, warm weather (which is due to continue for another week!) netted a startling bounty of extra berries! I got about four more cups today!


I need about two more cups and I’ll have enough for a THIRD batch of wild blackberry jam, which I’ll be making in adorable little 4oz jars and using as Christmas gifts. And there are enough unripe berries out there to get those two cups, and if I’m lucky, even more! (Actually I’m really *hoping* for more, in the name of another crumble or something, but I’ll take what I can get. :))

Given that I have two laundry baskets full of apples, I got down to the business of peeling and slicing them for the purpose of freezing. We’ve been reading up on this sort of thing, and one ought to throw the sliced apples into salt (or lemon or sugar) water to keep them from browning and to help preserve them against freezer burn, before freezing them single-layeredly on a cookie sheet (or in my case, ice cube tray) for later bagging. That way you have individual slices instead of huge blobby masses, and can take out as many or few at a time as you wish. :)

I thought perhaps the ice trays’ capacity to hold apples would about equal my enthusiasm for peeling them. I was wrong. They hold about twenty apples, whereas I reckon I’m good for about forty at a go. But I kind of suspected that, and proceeded with caution, so it worked out perfectly, and I now have the first batch of apples freezing. If I’m diligent I can probably easily do two batches a day, but I seriously doubt I’m that diligent. :)

Apple slices, displayed by my helper boy! :)

Oh, hey, I also wrote 2500 words today and got REDEEMER over 20K!

apple picking party!


We have, as I may have mentioned, several apple trees in the garden. The apples aren’t really ripe yet, but a lot of them are cooking apples that aren’t going to be any good to eat straight off the tree anyway, so yesterday we had an apple picking party and the family came out to play in the garden and pick apples and eat apple pie (made, yes, from garden apples. I forgot to take a picture but it was lovely and tasty!).

Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

Indy gets in on the action, with Grandma to make sure he doesn’t fall down.

Deirdre flies her youngest son…

…while the elder is up a tree!

Grandpa holds things steady.

Young Indiana took this one! (I cropped it. :))

The haul, which is about…a third of the apples from one tree. Perhaps. :) a href=”http://mizkit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/appleparty020.jpg”>appleparty020

Deirdre took away about half the apples in the grey laundry basket, citing plans for chutney. I, today, boiled six pounds of apples, acquired 8 cups of juice and 4 cups of pulp, made 6 very pretty, if rather taste-free, jars of apple jelly and four jars of rather ugly, if very tasty, apple jam. I don’t know if the latter would be less ugly with less cinnamon, or if it’s just ugly.

It’s certainly ugly of spirit. It’s like applesauce only with added hate. My arms are covered with spot burns from splashing jam, which sticks painfully.

Pretty, if tasteless, apple jelly :)

Tonight I’ll be peeling, coring, slicing and freezing as many apples as I can fit onto the ice trays in our freezers. Tomorrow I’ll probably be doing the same. Later in the week I may make some more apple jelly and reduce the sugar (although honestly, the apple juice I got from the boil was pretty tasteless too: kind of flat and tart all at once, but not super appley or anything), but first I need more jars! I’m out of jars! It hardly seems possible! Although I’ve probably made fifty or sixty jars of jam in the past few weeks, now that I think about it… :)

Picoreview: NCIS Season 10

I ship it.

Picoreview: NCIS Season 10 (and the first 2 eps of s11): …that was actually really, really good.

I mean, NCIS is a solid show. It’s generally of reasonably high quality and consistency, with very few actively bad episodes and correspondingly few really *good* ones. The actors are all appealing and their interactions are terrific, and the whole thing lends itself to the sense of family that it’s supposed to. The season started out with plenty of AUGH, between the bombing and (much more alarmingly) Ducky’s heart attack, but every season starts with AUGH and most of them don’t hold on to the AUGH through as much of the season as s10 did.

“The Namesake,” guest starring Billy Dee Williams, is one of the exceptional episodes, as are many of the NCIS father/children episodes (“You Better Watch Out,” with Tony’s father, and “Squall,” with McGee’s previously-never-seen-father, are also good this season), but it’s the Ziva storyline that absolutely rocks the season. Literally: it gives the show a massive shake-up mid-season that follows through into the 2nd episode of the 11th season, and…

(spoilers, mostly about Tony and Ziva, behind the cut)
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funny things with houseguests


Woe, our guest has had to return home, but she has left us with many smiles and funny memories. The other night she cleared her plate from the table, then returned to the dining room, where she picked up a napkin and wrung it as she gazed indecisively at our plates.

Ted said, in the driest and most certain tone ever, “You’re procrastinating. Go work on your thesis.”

She said, “I’m NOT! I’m trying to be a good guest!”

Ted said, “I’m married to a writer and you’re procrastinating. Go work.” And she did, although she protested that it wasn’t HER fault if being a good guest and procrastinating both displayed in the same way! :)

The next day she said, for reasons I no longer recall, “But you cook so well! You could feed me much less nice food and I’d still be happy!” Then she paused, reconsidered, and said, “I mean: ‘I require continued excellence in my culinary experiences.'”

So I fed her a tikka masala for dinner and a brownie sundae for dinner. :)

We have a pretty broad overlap of things we both love, which, the night before she left, resulted in Ted being treated to renditions of both “Kokomo” and “Dance Magic Dance,” which bemused him greatly and made us laugh at least that much. :) Eventually she’ll be done with her thesis and when she comes to visit we’re just gonna watch a million movies that we love and giggle a lot. :)

Yesterday after her departure I did a lot of stuff, and reported it thusly to Ted:

Me: I’ve made brownies and applesauce, planted bulbs with Henry, cleaned the kitchen, picked 6 cups of blackberries, done two loads of laundry and changed the sheets in the guest room.

Ted: I’m exhausted just reading about that.

Me: I also have to make jam, bread, and dinner.

Ted: Now you’re just showing off.

(I made jam and dinner but waited until this morning to make the bread, which is currently on its second rise. The 3rd load of laundry for the morning is in the washer, and there are more berries thawing for another batch of jam. I need to take a shower and write, not necessarily in that order.)

Throwback Thursday: Well-Loved Books


A hash tag popped up on Twitter yesterday, #WellLovedBooks, and I immediately went and took pictures of several of mine. I thought they’d make a kind of nice different Throwback Thursday post idea, too, so I present to you a handful of my well-loved books. :)

My 8th birthday prsent: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, which I read to pieces. <3 well loved books

I love these books so very much. It is so mind-bogglingly cool to me that I can now count Lawrence Watt-Evans among my friends.

I want to re-read these, as they’re some of the very few books that I loved well enough as a teen to hold on to for all these years and through all the moves. Apparently she’s re-released them as e-books!

I may be the only person who’s actually read all five of these. A lot of people over on Twitter had read one or two, but it took a really long time for all of them to come out, and I was unusually determined about them. I want to re-read these, too.

My dog-eared, sweat-stained, beloved BLUE SWORD and HERO AND THE CROWN. I have them in hardcover now, but I’ll never let these two go. Someday I hope to get Robin McKinley to sign them.

My equally beloved SECRET COUNTRY trilogy, which I’ve read more times than I can possibly count. I’d replace these in hardback, too, if I could, because I live in fear of the day they fall apart. And I will get them signed somedaay, dammit!

And my pièce de résistance, the copy of DRAGONSONG I inherited from a cousin, read to bits, brought to Ireland from Alaska in 1993, got signed by the Dragonlady, at Dragonhold, and subsequently retired with honors. ♥