Bit One: The sauerkraut was finished as of January 6th. I waited a few more days beyond that artificial deadline and then proclaimed it ready to be canned. I have one of those modern gas ranges (along with the Pioneer Maid cookstove) that is stainless steel and open across the top. By the end of the canning season it is a wreck. But after many experiences of spending a couple of hours during canning season, cleaning it, and having it a complete mess within three days, I finally decided to wait until canning was finished. By that time, there is no telling what had collected both on top and in the oven It was beyond Heloise, believe me. Definitely time to attack with elbow grease and baking soda. I do not use those horrible chemical cleaners any more. They leave a residue that smells awful for months afterward. So, I've gone back to baking soda and a little ammonia on top. And yes, it is a self-cleaning oven, but I've never used that facility on it either. Seems borderline in terms of safety...like a confined nuclear blast. Not that the oven couldn't use something along those lines, but I'd rather not risk a conflagration. So, as I said, elbow grease and simple cleaners. After an hour and a half it is gleaming.
Bit Two: About two years ago, MM bought a small banana tree. I believe we're shortly going to be turning over one area of the house to the lovely specimen. It likes us. As you can see, it's grown. We water it with the leftover bathwater. Talk about fertility! You can see (by the banana tree how dirty we must be! ) I'll admit during the summer when we're working in the garden, the garden tends to follow us inside and the just-emptied tub could host a pretty healthy crop of potatoes!
Pieces: One last thought before I leave you, today...have you noticed? It's lighter, later. Our milking time has been moved to 5:15 p.m. of an evening and we still get in before dark. Translated: spring's not far away!! And...we've ordered the garden seeds! So, don't give up hope!