Salty ponds may be under Mars' icy surface, raising prospect of Martian life.
In other news, I've been taking Dan out driving. He hasn't got behind the wheel yet (except to familarise himself with the car) but he's studying his rules of the road, learning important things like how to pop the hood, charge the battery, check the oil, and change a flat. There's no way I'd let him loose on the road without simple maintenance skills even with a AAA membership. We've been taking drives through all the different scenarios he might encounter. We've covered merging in various highway situations, driving through complicated construction zones, one-way city streets, country driving, middle lane turns, and all of the things that no one pays attention to as a passenger. He's been able to observe that no one in Omaha seems to know how to do a four way stop, that seemingly no one will yield to the driver in the rotary (they should!), and waiting a full three seconds at a stop sign just doesn't happen. Half the lessons are what not to do.
We took a drive out to the county where Dan grew up. It was strange, seeing how built up some of the surrounding towns have become in just seven years. We drove past the farm, and the wildlife area. Dan barely remembered it, even though he was nearly nine when we moved. I'd forgotten just how long and tedious the drive was from the city, and was happy enough to get back home. Flashbacks to driving the "Mighty Ford Tempo" through snow and ice to take a sick kid to the doctor an hour away make me appreciate the conveniences of city living-and a new car. I'm glad he had the experience of growing up on a farm, but I wouldn't want to go back. We joke that it gave him a perspective most city kids don't get ("Si habla Redneck!). The drive was a good reminder though that he needs to look out for farm equipment, and deer on the roads. We didn't see any deer, but you know they're there, waiting to total your car.
We didn't get out and walk around town as the county is currently a Corona hotspot. Someone decided to have a party over labour day weekend for 200 guests! Predictably, it has now infected dozens of people and caused an outbreak in a care home an hour away. Sigh, what can you do? The selfishness, and arrogance of people doing what they want to do, and believing what they wish to believe, against all sense and science. It really is a pity because the small rural hospital isn't equipped for an outbreak, and the area is far enough away from the city that they might have got through with minimal impact had people done the right thing. *Sarcastic voice* "But at least we don't have the government telling us what to do like Douglas and Lancaster counties! Mask mandates are for weaklings!" Yeah, alright, whatever you say Hoss.
The winter garden is planted! Spinach, kale, radishes, rocket-all the typical stuff. I might have gone a bit overboard with the garlic, planting close to 100 cloves. I doubt they'll all mature into bulbs, but if 2020 decides to throw vampires at us, we're covered. I harvested the sweet potatoes grown from a supermarket potato that sprouted eyes-they look perfect. Sweet potatoes need to be stored for the starches to sweeten, so it might be a while before we eat them. I'll report back to keep you updated. I was so stupidly proud of those potatoes, grown from something that would have otherwise been thrown away. There's a rumoured frost for Thursday night, so fleeces and waterproof tarps are at the ready, but if experience is a guide, there's plenty of warm days ahead. Good to be prepared for either scenario though because, 2020. I saw a funny meme suggesting if this year were an ice cream flavour it would be toothpaste and orange juice. How accurate.
Since the start of the pandemic, I've been doing the bulk of my shopping at Fresh Thyme market, a small organic supermarket with excellent produce and great prices. They had early shopping hours for the old and sick, and the people working there would go out of their way to be helpful. Well, they're closing. I'm not surprised, as good produce and organic groceries aren't the sort of thing most Nebraskans are shopping for, but I'm going to be sorry to see them go. The employees will find work elsewhere as they were all truly top-of-the-line talent, but I'm going to miss them. Omaha will be left with only an even smaller organic grocer staffed by kids that are stoned out of their minds most days (organic weed, undoubtedly and god only knows what else), and I will now need to endure the larger supermarkets (with no social distancing or special hours) for the bulk of my shopping. I'm seriously sad about it, particularly now as our corona cases are spiking and flu season is getting underway. Winter isn't going to be fun. In fairness to the kids at the health food store, given what they have to look forward to, why wouldn't they want a break from reality?
Speaking of dope...
For the past couple of nights we've had racoons raiding the birdfeeders. A pair, clearly not fearful of humans had the nerve to press their noses against our glass door to see if they could convince us to feed them. We did not. Birds, the occasional squirrel-yes. Racoons? Do I look like Little Edie?! My neighbour sits out on his patio to smoke (not cigarettes) and told me we had "Sloths or something" coming to the birdfeeders. Poor guy must have thought he got laced dope and was tripping balls. Anyway, the birds are on their own for a bit, and the racoons can go eat out of the trash like they're supposed to. Times are tough. To be clear, we do not have sloths in Nebraska (or North America).
Some non-dope related news...
We were able to get some exceptionally nice McIntosh apples recently, which seemed like a good opportunity to make applesauce. I only made a quart, so it wasn't worth canning. Applesauce also freezes well if you have the room. I had a friend years ago that would make enough for everyone each autumn, so I never bothered. After she died, I worked out that her "Famous pink applesauce" was pink because she didn't peel the apples first. If you're going to put it through a food mill anyway, that makes sense, but I use a potato masher for mine, so peeling is worth the effort. You want the recipe, don't you?
Peel (or not) and slice 1 quart of apples. Place in a large pot with 1 cup of water, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. I sweeten mine, but that's entirely optional. A half cup of sugar should be more than adequate, but a quarter cup is also still sweet. Spices? I use a pinch of cinnamon, but if you plan to serve it with meat or savoury dishes leave it out. Ginger, allspice, and nutmeg are also good here.
Bring everything to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves, then reduce to a simmer until apples are soft. Mash or put through a food mill. Don't use a blender or food processor as it will liquify it-applesauce is best slightly chunky. Return sauce to the pan and cook another minute or two until thickened. Chill. World's easiest recipe, and if you have your own apples, practically free.
Who will it be in the High Holidays roulette?
As Rosh Hashanah began, I was a little nervous, but said nothing. In previous years at the holiday's start I've lost family, friends, and a beloved pet that decided to go tits-up during dinner. In the back of my mind, I wondered who it was going to be this year, but I honestly didn't think it would be Justice Ginsburg. I'm sorry to see her gone, and was hoping she'd turn out to be immortal. Of all the people I've been told I resemble, she was the comparison I took as the greatest compliment. Anyway, we were probably already headed into oblivion as a country, but this is going to hasten it. The words, "Failed State" probably say it all, but go ahead and vote anyway even if it is, as the saying goes, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
The first debate is tonight. 200,000 Americans dead from Corona. Millions out of work. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, homelessness, starvation, lack of access to clean water, medicine, healthcare...you'd think there wouldn't be anything to debate because the lack of competence is so glaringly obvious. But yeah, you know how this is going to go. I haven't decided if I have the energy to watch or if I'll just read the transcripts tomorrow.
At this point an alien invasion doesn't sound that bad.