Monday, November 22, 2010

The Harvest photo

I goofed getting this in the other post. I am still learning this artform...

The Harvest

Thoughts of Harvest

I am happy that my family did not have to rely on my garden’s harvest for Thanksgiving or for any meal for that matter. I will post a picture of what was surely one of the most pitiful returns for what seemed like a ton of labor or at least a ton of Black Cow manure and other bags of “good” garden soil.

I had many false starts with all of my plantings. I had to move my blueberry bushes because I planted them too early and didn’t realize that they would be shrouded by the surrounding trees after their leaves fully exposed themselves. After I moved them, some beasties found the dominant bush and ate all of the leaves off of just that one and not the other. I am not sure if the other bush felt relieved or offended that it was not worthy of the furry one’s meal. I had to shift the cucumbers I planted in pots but at least that was an easy move - even though it was ultimately not successful either. I had visions of them climbing up a trellis I have in the yard. It’s a good thing we have imaginations...

As the last of the frost finally faded into the arms of what had been a very cold winter for us I was eager to dig my bare hands into some soil and grow some delicious food. I bought a fine, untreated lumber, square garden corral. I painted it with linseed oil that I was supposed to be using in my oil painting and I wasn’t using it at all on painting so why not put it to great use preserving the garden’s woody walls? I staulked the sides and back of the house to find where I thought the sun would be the best. The perfect spot would be at the side of the house at the top of the hill next to the OF COURSE I didn’t put the garden there, I put it at the bottom of the hill where it was a bit less Clampety for the neighborhood and unfortunately a good bit more in shade. This and a few other factors would prove to be fatal mistakes.

I when to the garden store (lowe’s!) and hauled by myself three sacks of cow manure (do you know how heavy that stuff is??) and eight bags of soil. I schlepped the whole mess into my lined, linseeded, garden plot that was planted too much in the shade. I planted tomatoes, squash, peppers and carrots. I planted herbs in pots and shuffled them around until I found good spots for them. The purple basil was my best crop of the year. The down side of that is that I am the only one in my family that likes pesto!!

I had a tree trimmer come make a little more sunshine for me by giving one of our giants a long overdue limb cut. I watered. I swatted mosquitos. The sun shone. The earth shifted. I swatted more mosquitos. (I swear I fed the mosquitos heartily on a daily basis...) The squash and peppers and tomatoes bloomed and I was happy. But alas, the peppers did not come from the flowers. No squash came for the squashblossoms (who in the &!## can’t grow a zucchini??). Turns out we had no bees. Ah, that will really screw up a garden. I was not so happy. And the mosquitos kept biting as I kept trying to get something to happen. I guess if I ever do another garden (not blinkin’ likely...) I’ll have to have an apiary nearby or learn how to pollinate.

So, feast your eyes on the bountiless bounty of my labors. I did get a handful of tiny tomatoes that were tasty morsels, but I am not sure that made it all worth it. I guess it got me outside and taught me a few things:

I am more grateful than ever for the veggies in my house that someone else grew and grew so well, for the tired and labored hands that planted all of it and for the even more tired hands that picked it and cleaned it and got to my little or not-so-little grocer.

Plant gardens in really sunny places.

Watch for and encourage bees to come by any means.

Wear long pants and long sleeves even when it is 100 degrees outside so you don’t get 40 bites a day... (20 on each leg..)

Take pictures of the kids when they are excited about pulling even the most disgusting looking carrot out of the soil..

Sometimes gardens are a victim of circumstance (bunnies, drought - we had both!).

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A challenge to write 1000 words about socks: Go!

Is it possible to write a thousand words about these knitted, stretchy little items of clothing? I am going to try to fulfill a writing challenge and see if I can do it.  
What can I say about these helpful, keep-your-toes-warm on a cold morning, beauties? Probably in the caveman days people had hairier feet. I suppose the early days of socks involved some kind of animal skin wrapped with strips of more animal skin.  Someone figured out weaving at some point and decided to make something useful for the feet.  What a great day that was... Although I know some people who don’t like them and don’t own any.  They wear Birkenstocks year round. I know  one person who actually never wears shoes.   I can imagine explaining that to the bride’s family... “Well, he doesn’t actually own ANY shoes...”  So, get married on the beach--what’s the problem?  I wonder if going shoeless makes it easier or more difficult getting through an airport... It’s nice not to have to mess with the on/off business but you might get pulled aside for seeming so weird.
Going sockless
I think from a laundry perspective and as a parent of children with closebutnotexactlythesame sized feet, going sockless would make the laundry process quicker and easier.  I always save the “dregs” or socks for last. With every batch of laundry I do, I have lone soldiers.  How does it happen every single time?  I have an ever growing bag of unmatched socks.  About once a month I dump it all out and see if any matches can be made.  
Ode to the Lost ones
Have fun on your hayride, your waltz to Neverland. Don’t mind me. I am just the putz whose job it is to figure out what to do with what is left of your mate.  You go on your cruise to the tropics on that wave of  laundry rinse cycle water. I didn’t really like you anyway. Okay, I really did.  I hate to see couples separate. It is always a sad story and the children pay for it all with their chilly toes and their crying out in the dark morning “MOM, I can’t find a pair of socks!” Oh whoa is me...  All the ones that are solitary and left behind begin to collect...all piled up with other misfits in the bottom of an old Walmart bag. How humiliating. I may never see you again. Or you may pop out of the corner of a folded sheet or show up in an old unpacked moving box.  If I matched all of you with the extra buttons sitting in envelops inside the drawers and suitcases and bathroom cabinets, I could make enough sock puppets to outfit the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  But they don’t want them.  Nobody really wants or needs a bag full of unmatched socks.  Maybe, if you only had one foot for some reason, but this would be a rare thing to find someone that had such a need, and if I knew of such a person they would deserve NEW SOCKS and not some wretched batch of leftovers from an unorganized laundress from North Carolina.  
So again to the ones that got away...  Are you padding a nest of a nocturnal creature?  I am sure stranger things have been found in a squirrels nest.  In the gutter of some roadway far away as the torrents of rain carried you out of the yard and into the beyond? Shoved between mattresses during a hurried “clean up your room” session? 
Thrown to the very bowels of the back of the closets where no one wants to look or go?
Pulled off while in the grocery store and tossed to the frozen orange juice section? In the car, in someone else’s car? At a friend’s house? Might be time to report you to the Bureau of Missing Socks.  There was supposedly a real outfit in the Civil War that issued socks to soldiers but they needed to save money and made the men turn in an old sock to get a new/repaired one.. I am not sure you can believe everything you read on the Internet.
If you have a dog of any reasonable size, he or she could take a toll on the sock population in a household.  I have been told that some big dogs eat socks, not good Rover...I think this can be fatal.
Once upon a time a fearless knight appeared when my washer started emitting a foul odor and he took the opportunity to completely dissect the machine in front of my innocent but curious eyes.  I just knew that when that wash basin was removed that all of the mysteries of the universe (or at least one) would be resolved and I could reunite the lost ones with their bored and waiting partners back in the Walmart bag..  I waited for what seemed like millennium as the handy person meticulously chose tools and took apart the big white beast that had churned out seventeen years worth of wash loads.  Surely the thing was completely clogged with tons of missing socks and that was causing the problem. It was like being in a operating room but with mechanical parts and implements. As the inside guts were revealed..... deep breath........ NO SOCKS! Not one single, stinking, sour, stupid sock.  Nothing was lodged anywhere, it was free of debris.  Did I feel relief? Sadness? Disappointment. The man told me, after he put all the parts back together and shoved the thing back into place,  ‘You need to get some lemon powdery DISHwashing soap (Sunlight or whatever brand you can find) and run that through the machine a few times.’  It gets some yucky build-up out of somewhere and makes the machine smell better. That glimpse into my machine and the advice cost a dandy $125.00.   He also told me something else I will share with you: if you want to freshen up your dishwasher and clean up the gunk in its innards you need to use TANG drink mix (do they even make the stuff anymore??). So there. Spread this advice around for me. It will make me feel better.  
I thousand words about socks.  My best advice has to do with prevention. If you buy each family member uniquely different socks (brand, color or just mark their initials with permanent ink) and FORCE them to stuff all their dirty socks into their own separate mesh bags that hang on the doorknob of their rooms or bathroom. You might not spend as much time searching for the lost ones, sorting the ones you CAN find and getting them back onto your family’s feet.
I did it! My counter just went over 1100 words! Good night!  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What to do with a little more time...

Now that the goblins have gobbled the best of the candy and the witches have switched back to their good- old-girl selves, we can get on with the fact that it is now NOVEMBER! How did that happen? Time is so strange in that it can seem so long or so short.  Time seems to speed up in my world. The closer it is to "bus time" the faster it goes. I always seem to be scrambling to finish up something.

This coming weekend will provide an extra hour as we change our clocks back.  I think we could come up with some interesting options for what to do with that extra hour.  Probably the most popular option I would guess is sleep.  No one I know gets enough sleep except for my dad who is 89 and well, there just isn't as much to do at that age.  If you have kids this profoundly affects what happens in the night. I know plenty of households where no one wakes up in the same bed as they started. I also know someone who really promoted the family bed idea and it was such a success that their teenaged daughter was still sleeping with them when she was in high school..  I don't sleep well at all with my kids. My radar goes on overdrive with all their sniffing and breathing.  I wake up with a backache because I usually end up with someone mashing on my spine!

Here are some possibilities for my extra hour:
Take a long walk, bake a cake, play a board game with the kids, spend an entire hour just playing whatever the kids want to play, visit a friend, organize the pantry, drive somewhere that takes a half hour then turn around, write a letter, write the blog..., iron (ew, no way), call my mom, or my sisters, get a jump start on Christmas shopping, get nails done, watch a Madmen rerun, go out for breakfast, paint, help with kid projects, fold laundry (gagging sounds, no), rake a pile of leaves and jump in.  When you take the ribbon off and take that extra hour out of the box what will you do with such a gift?