Saturday, May 23, 2009

And the Planting Goes On

Another big day of planting things in the garden yesterday. Two more rows of tomatoes are in (under their kick-ass bamboo support systems, but of course) for a grand total of 26 tomato plants. That's actually one MORE than I planted last year and last year the Tomato Crazy almost destroyed me, so this year should be even more fun! I don't expect any sympathy though, because I do it to myself. Not that that will stop me from whining in the midst of canning season.


Also planted were seven basil plants, six bell pepper plants, six jalapeno plants, and two lonely eggplant . . . plants (that sounds lame and repetitive, but it's CONSISTENT, dammit). There are only two eggplant plants because I, um, killed the rest of them dead when I left the cold frame cover closed and the sun fried them like eggs. (HAAA, get it? Eggs? Eggplant? Okay, sorry.) I could really use some more eggplant plants.*

Still waiting to go in are six purple cabbage seedlings. And the green beans. Oh, and we haven't planted any cucumbers or squash yet. And the surviving onions need to be planted, too. And . . . yeah, why does it feel like I haven't made any headway, despite grubbing in the dirt for five hours yesterday?

This gardening thing, man. Sisyphus ain't got nothin' on me.

*Mark, are you reading this? I really hope y'all have some extras, like you said you might. NO PRESSURE, THOUGH.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thanks Again, Jules

There was just something about Julia Child. She was weird; she was crazed for butter and liquor; she was AWESOME. If you don't own any of her cookbooks, go get one. Seriously. We have Mastering the Art of French Cooking; The French Chef cookbooks, which have all the recipes from the t.v. show; and Jacques and Julia at Home, with Jacques Pepin. We also have the first season of The French Chef t.v. show and it is some of the most entertaining television EVER. The Food Network WISHES they had something this good in their line-up. My favorite one might be the chicken one, where she dances the (dead, plucked) chicken around the counter. Or possibly the show about tripe, when she grabs an ENTIRE COW STOMACH and twirls it around her hands like some kind of nasty pizza dough.

The woman was nuts. But she knew her cooking.

Her recipes never, ever fail. Some are long and annoyingly detailed, with five million steps that dirty four thousand pots and take six hours, but they work. And they are delicious. And not all of them are complicated. Take this potato salad.

I think Julia would also approve of the Wild Turkey 101 bourbon that snuck into the photo.

Except I won't let you, because I want to eat it all myself. I made this last night for dinner. It's from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and it's just boiled potatoes, dressed with a shallot vinaigrette. (I also added some unauthorized bacon, because, well, because it's BACON. Why wouldn't I add it?) It's very easy to make, and it's so good I had to restrain myself, lest I eat it all before anyone else got home. I did manage to save enough for dinner, but it was a close thing.

You should make it. Go to your library and get the cookbook. Then make this and see if you can keep yourself from eating the whole bowl before anyone else gets a crack at it.

But if you can't, I won't judge you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Perils of Line Drying

Boy, do I have a FUNNY STORY for you! It involves a wasp down my pants. How can that NOT be funny, right? Unless you're me, and you're the one who HAD a wasp down your pants. Then, not so much funny as OWWWWW.


So yesterday after mowing all the lawns I took a nice shower and pulled out some clean clothes to put on. I took some jeans straight from the laundry basket of clothes I had dried on the clothesline the day before and not yet put away. I pulled them on, and just as I was buttoning them, I noticed a kind of pricking on my back thigh. It felt like there was some kind of thorn or weed seed that had gotten stuck in there, a not uncommon occurrence. So I stuck my hand in to pull whatever it was out, and just as I was registering that whatever I had grabbed was a wee bit larger than your average weed seed, I got a look at what was between my fingers.

Yes, it was a wasp. Yes, it was still alive. And yes, it had indeed stung me, on my upper back thigh.

So I threw it on the ground and stomped on it (revenge is sweet), and then became aware of the pain in my leg. Luckily, I was already upstairs by the computer, so I looked to see what I should put on the sting. Baking soda and vinegar, said the Internet. Alrighty then. Downstairs I went to make a paste of baking soda and vinegar to slap on my leg. And then I stood there for a second in the kitchen, pants around my knees, goopy paste on my leg, considering a logistical problem. That is, if I pulled my pants up, the goop would get rubbed away. But I didn't want to take my pants off, because it was pretty cold in the house.

So, with a mental shrug, I pulled them up as far as I could without smearing the paste and waddled back upstairs with my pants around my knees. No one was home but the dogs, and they aren't shocked by much.

Just in case you were wondering, the baking soda and vinegar paste worked. And I sat at the computer with my pants half on and half off until the paste dried. Because I am just that classy.

Okay, I think I've left you with enough disturbing mental images for the day. Over and out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No Rage Here

Dylan Thomas entreats us to rage against the dying of the light. My apologies to Mr. Thomas, but I really wish the light would just die, already.

You would probably like an explanation of that, yes?

I have mentioned before that I sleep a lot. A LOT a lot. Specifically, from 9 p.m.-6:30 a.m. However, I am not a heavy sleeper. I can't sleep through everything. Or anything, for that matter. I certainly can't sleep when it's light. At this time of year, there aren't enough dark hours for me to sleep as much as I want to. When we go to bed at 9 p.m., the birds are still singing and the light seeps in around our bamboo window shade. So I lie there until it gets dark enough for me to fall asleep. Then, around 5:30 a.m., again with the birds and the light and the lying there, not quite awake, not really asleep. It's very irritating. The lack of sleep gets worse when it gets hot because I ALSO can't sleep if it's too hot. So basically, I spend all summer sleep-deprived and irritable.

I'm really fun to live with. Just ask A.

The summer solstice is on June 21 this year, which means I have another full month before the daylight even starts to lessen. Then another couple of months before it's dark at bedtime again. Welcome to my own personal hell.

What keeps you awake, duckies?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Okay, actually today we're talking about cold frames, but the name always makes me think of that 80s song "Freeze Frame," of which I know only the shouting of "freeze frame" at the beginning. But I looked it up and found it was performed by the J. Geils Band, and the video is, but of course, on YouTube. Awesome.


Onto the cold frame.

So here is the cold frame that I totally wrecked last fall by placing it underneath one of the black walnut trees to get smashed all to shit by falling walnuts. Because I am way smart. I finally got some new panes of glass cut and A. put them in on Sunday.

All better.

See, the sun comes in through the glass and warms up the box, like a mini-greenhouse. The most important thing to remember about cold frames is that they can quickly get way too warm for your seedlings. Like, even when it's 55 degrees with a cold breeze. That sun can heat them up so fast that by 2 p.m., two eggplant seedlings and all the red cabbage seedlings will have just wilted and fallen over, possibly never to rise again.


Except I totally did. Dammit. I swear it was NOT warm yesterday, but apparently, it was too warm in the cold frame. By the time I noticed and propped the top open with a brick to cool it down a little, I had already cooked some of the seedlings. I don't know if they'll recover.

Oh well. I'll just have to be more vigilant in the future. Anyway, the POINT is that I can now leave the seedlings out at night to harden off more. Although I did bring them in last night, because we had a frost. On May 19. We also had the woodstove going last night and this morning. Winter is being a stubborn bastard this year.

No matter! He has to give up eventually! And when he does, those seedlings are vacating the cold frame and going into the ground. Where I will hopefully manage to not kill anymore off. Amen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Since You Asked . . .

Jean asked yesterday how the other animals are doing. I figured I should address that, because they all deserve some time on this site, don't they? They deserve some recognition! They deserve some respect!

Also, I didn't really have anything particular to write about this morning, so, you know, animals work as well as anything.

The Sheep: We spent yesterday morning fixing some fence so the sheep could go into a pasture where the Bamboo Forest is beginning to take over. The sheep love bamboo shoots. This makes me love the sheep. But only a little bit. The lambs are growing quickly, especially one of the boy lambs, who is enormous already. He obviously understands HIS purpose in life.

The Chickens: The Three Musketeers are still doing their chicken thing. The remaining rooster is a benevolent dictator and the hens seem much calmer. They're still laying eggs. One is very regular and lays her egg every day in the nesting box we provided. The other is incredibly stupid, even for a chicken, and can't seem to figure out where to lay her egg. Sometimes it's on the floor, sometimes in the nesting box. Once I even found it on top of the nesting box. She also sometimes will go a few days without laying an egg, which cuts into my supply. A clearly deficient chicken.

The Big Dogs: They're happy it's spring. They spend a lot of time dozing in the sun and hunting rabbits and chipmunks in the flower gardens. It's a good life. They're also all blowing their coats (meaning shedding large chunks of the underlayer they grow for winter), which makes it kind of gross to pet them.

The Puppies: The three remaining puppies no longer look anything like guinea pigs. Instead, they look like miniature and adorable dogs. They're still incarcerated in The Puppy Penitentiary, except for their daily walks with the MiL. All three of them have buyers, and will probably all be gone by the end of the month. I promise pictures before they go.

The Cats: Both cats are going outside more now that it's warm. Belle brought a vole to the doorstep the other day and ate it on the doormat while I sat in the chair nearby. Tasty. We were informed by my sister the veterinarian that Pitty Pet has ear mites, so he's been getting goo squirted into his ears every couple of days. He is surprisingly calm about this.

The Fish: Alfie and Buttercup are still in their tank upstairs. The feeder fish have been moved to the rain barrels to eat the mosquito larvae. That's pretty much all I can say about the fish.

I guess that's everything. All animals present and accounted for, and all glad it's spring.

Update--The Birds: Whoopsy--totally forgot about the lovebirds. Indicative of how I feel about them, I suppose. They are still in the MiL's bathroom, but will soon be moved to their summer home on the front porch when it's warm enough.