Saturday, June 28, 2008

Any Volunteers?

Why, yes! We have several volunteer plants in the garden. Volunteer means we didn't plant the things or plan on them, they just appeared on their own. The chervil is always volunteer. I think it was planted last century (slight exaggeration, perhaps), and yet it grows like a weed all over the damn garden every year. There are always some brave little potatoes that survived the fall harvest and poke out their shoots in the spring, only to be ruthlessly exterminated because they're in the middle of the beets. You gotta be tough to be a gardener.

But some volunteer plants get to live on. The volunteer lettuce was much appreciated this year, and was spared by the rototiller. As were the chives. And then there's this monster.

This is our compost heap. I know, it's kind of ghetto. It is yet another sterling example of junk farming. But you see that gigantic plant that appears to be right inside the compost heap? It is indeed right inside the compost heap. That's a volunteer squash plant. Of some kind. We're not sure yet whether it's acorn squash or pumpkin. I'm hoping for the acorn squash, because I like those better. And whatever it is, there's going to be a lot of it, because there's already like 50 blossoms on that thing (perhaps another slight exaggeration).

And on another completely random note, it is clear to me that the majority of my readers do all their blog reading at work, because I don't see a whole lot of traffic here on the weekends. What a bunch of slackers you all are. How do you stay employed? But that's why I'm posting about a volunteer squash plant today. I can be as weird and boring as I want on weekends and know that only a handful of people will be witness to my randomness.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Warning: Ranting Ahead

I figured since I already publicly admitted yesterday that I go to bed at 9 p.m., despite being neither 8 nor 80 years old, I should take the opportunity to lecture about sleep. I can sum it up pretty quickly, though.


It seems like half the people I know are always complaining about how tired they are, how they just can't get to bed early. I don't understand this. You go to bed when you want to go to bed. I do. Exceptions might include a baby or some serious insomnia.

I don't do well on too little sleep. And when I say "too little," I'm talking less than at least nine hours a night. Yes, nine. Ideally, ten. If it gets to eight or less, it starts to get ugly. I don't function. I get nauseated. I look like total crap (except my eyes, which for some reason are very green when I'm exhausted--though the effect is marred by the heinous black circles underneath). And I get so, so cranky.

I understand that everyone has different sleep needs, that not everyone has to sleep nine hours a night. And I also understand that some people don't sleep well through the night, even when they do go to bed at a reasonable hour. But what I don't understand is admitting you won't go to bed before 2 a.m. and then constantly bitching about how tired you are. JUST GO TO BED. IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

But speaking of science, have you noticed all the studies recently about how more sleep can help everything from obesity to heart attacks? I would now like to publicly state that I TOLD YOU SO.

Can you tell I get worked up about this? Perhaps it's because I've taken shit my whole life for needing so much sleep. The constant head shaking about my 9 p.m. bedtime, the constant snide comments about how childish sleeping that much is, the constant explanations of how this person only needs 4 hours a night. To which I say . . .


So please, for the love of everything true and holy, just sleep more. You'll be happier, the people around you will be happier, I'll be happier.

Sleep--it makes the world a better place.

I wrote this yesterday when I was a little sleep-deprived. I told you it makes me cranky. And also, it apparently makes me write in all caps. ALL THE TIME.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Big (Garden) Picture

It occurred to me that while I have posted photos of various parts of and plants in my garden, I had not actually shown you the whole garden in its entirety. This proves to be surprisingly difficult to do, but this is my best effort.

See, it's laid out in a kind of backwards "L." On the right you can see part of the sheep barn that A. built with his own little hands (okay, so they're actually kind of large and bulky) out of all recycled materials. Because we're green like that. And cheap.

You can see the red plastic in which the tomatoes are planted. All 24 of them. I have GOT to stop planting tomatoes. I think it's out of hand entirely. But many of them are sporting flowers, which means little tomatoes should be appearing any day now. My babies are growing up. And I can't wait to eat them. Wait, that didn't sound right.

The potato field takes up most of the long part of the "L." That's still a shitload of potatoes, and they have all been hilled. This is possibly my least favorite task in the garden. It's haaaard and it makes me tired and sweaty and very, very sore. But I am nothing if not a trooper, and I soldier on.

The white stuff you see is something called floating row cover. It's a light, sort of gauzy material that rests gently on top of plants, allowing in sunlight and water while protecting the plants from ravenous bunny rabbits. It's light enough that the plants just push it up as they grow. And the stupid employees at the garden center in Home Depot had never even heard of it, so we had to order it from a garden supply catalog. Honestly, I don't even know why I bother with that useless store.

This photo is a couple of weeks old, so everything is much bigger now. Especially the corn, which will shortly be blocking the view to the other side of the garden entirely. We planted the corn in the place where we tore the old turkey pen down, and apparently, corn really likes old turkey shit. How come they don't mention THAT in the seed catalogs?

My leeks never came up. I am very disappointed in them. But the rest of the garden is growing its little leafy heart out, because of all the nice rain we've been getting. I would also like to believe that the tremendous growth has something to do with the HOURS AND HOURS I spend out there weeding with hands and hoe (yes, hahaha, hoe--go back to 5th grade you juvenile delinquents). But it's probably just the rain.

Now if you will excuse me, I must go and rest now. The MiL and I went out to get some Culture last night in the form of a regional production of Les Miserables (guys who played Javert and Marius--LOVE; guy who played Jean Valjean--not so much), so I didn't get to bed until 11:30 p.m. This is shockingly late for me, and I now feel as if I've been up all night.

Hmmm, expounding on my garden at great length and bitching about being up past 9 p.m. Holy shit, I am OLD.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Okay, This WAS Sort of Funny

I had this long post all ready to go detailing my adventures in sheep herding yesterday, featuring the Incredible Escaping Lambs and a whole lot of bad words. But upon reflection, if was kind of long and boring. Plus something else happened that totally trumped the sheep adventure. And what could be more entertaining than runaway sheep? Well may you ask.


Yes, they're back! Or perhaps I should say they never went away. This time it was vastly more amusing to me, however, as I didn't STICK MY HAND WITHIN 4 INCHES OF THEM. The story also involves the Shop Vac. So get comfy and ready your popcorn and Whoppers, because this is a good one.

Yesterday afternoon, the MiL casually mentioned that there had been a bat in her bedroom the night before. Notice she didn't drop this bomb until the AFTERNOON, as if a vampire in disguise flying around the upstairs of the house wasn't notable enough to be announced immediately upon waking in the morning.

Anyway, it flew out of her room on its own, so she opened the bathroom window and went to bed, figuring it would find its way out the open window. But this bat was apparently a Dylan Thomas fan, because it did not go gentle into that good night.

Right before A. got home yesterday, the MiL was walking around outside the house when she spied a suspiciously bat-like shape in the parlor window. Upon further inspection, she determined that it was indeed the bat. It had made its way downstairs and into the parlor, where it decided that the curtain would be an excellent place to rest. She came into the kitchen to tell me this while I was making dinner. Neither one of us volunteered to remove the bat though, so we just left it there.

Then A. got home from work, and I said, "Hey, wanna see something fun?" And I showed him the bat. Now here is where we get a good insight into the workings of the male mind. I had been thinking perhaps someone (NOT ME) could just kind of bundle the bat into the curtain it was hanging on and then take the whole bundle outside. A.'s first thought was to get the Shop Vac and vacuum the little monster up. The MiL and I had our doubts about this operation, but since A. was willing to dispose of the bat, I, for one, was not going to quibble too much about how he did it.

So A. readied the Shop Vac, the MiL stationed herself to turn it on when he gave the command, and I stayed on the other side of the glass French doors to the parlor, because I'm a big sissy. Despite the fact that the nozzle to the Shop Vac was maybe an inch away from the little bat, the first attempt to suck it up was unsuccessful. And the thing didn't even MOVE, it just hung there. Creepy little bastard. So there was a second attempt which was satisfactorily sucky (ha!), and A. carried the whole Shop Vac outside, where he opened it up. He reported that the bat was still alive and "looked a little surprised." I asked him later what kind of expression a surprised bat might have on its nasty little face, but he couldn't give me a satisfactory description.

And here ends another installment of "BAAAATS: a Blackrock Miniseries." Stay tuned--I'm sure there will be another episode soon.


Update: Continuing the Disgusting Wildlife theme, I just went out to the mulberry tree for the daily gathering of the berries that had fallen on the tarp overnight. I started gathering, and then heard a sound and at the same moment realized the tarp was moving. And there, about 2 feet in front of me on the tarp . . . SNAAAAAAKE. It was about a foot long, so not huge. But I'm from Arizona. No matter how many times I am told there are no poisonous snakes here, my immediate reaction to a snake will always be, "AIEEEE!!! POISON!!!" So I stood there and watched it slither very slowly off the tarp, and then it stopped on the grass at the edge of the tarp to watch me pick up the berries. Gross.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back Off, Heloise

There's a new helpful household hints sheriff in town.

While researching ideas on the Internet for the never-ending mulberries (I'm seeing mulberries dancing in front of my eyes when I go to sleep. Should I be concerned?), I came across an article that said mulberry juice cannot be washed out of clothes. Well, pardon ME, Mr. Fancy-Pants Academic, but you are WRONG. While it is true that mulberries are some seriously messy sumbitches (my cuticles are stained black at this very moment--Cuticles of the Undead), the juice is actually quite easy to get out of fabric. So, courtesy of the MiL, from whom I learned this nifty trick, here is the way to remove any berry stain (strawberry, raspberry, whatever) from your clothes:

Pour boiling water over the stain.

That's it. No, really. It just disappears, like magic. It's very cool. Just be careful not to pour the boiling water over any of your fingers that might be holding said clothes. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Ahem.

And here's my other fun domestic magic trick. And also, my only other fun domestic magic trick. This one I got from the All-Knowing Internet. You know how when you wrestle with your Christmas tree, you get pine (or spruce, or whatever tree you have--I KNOW they're not all the same, okay A.?) sap all over the damn place? Take it from me--it doesn't wash out of clothes in the washing machine. But it is easily removed with rubbing alcohol. Once again, it's like magic. It just comes off. I should imagine nail polish remover would work too. Try to remember this come December.

Unless you're Jewish, in which case, I'm sure Heloise has some good hints about removing menorah wax.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Let's Blow Some Shit Up!

I'm finding myself boring lately, so instead of reading more dull minutia of my life, please go to this link, sent to me by Meadowlark (a.k.a. Jarhead). Farming was a lot more fun in 1910.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Playing with Fire

A. has a new toy. As I'm sure you could guess at this point, it is not an iPod or a Blackberry. No, his new toy is a welding and cutting torch. The scrap metal thing is getting out of hand.

I am not so pleased with the new toy, as it tends to spit sparks and molten metal several feet in every direction. I worry about A.'s face, yes, but I also worry that Leda the Fluffball will get too close and a stray spark will immediately ignite her enormous fluff, turning her into Leda the Fireball.

But it does make for some cool pictures.