Sunday, July 24, 2011


There are many reasons for me to be thankful about living where I am; I am pondering a top ten list with photos some time.  But for now, I just want to mention how happy I am to be gardening this year.

When we owned our little house, I had a garden.  I didn't take good care of it.  I got tomatoes with black spots on them, and weird little curled up cucumbers.  I was told the latter was from not watering evenly, which is exactly what I did.  We had sandy soil and I would get bored with the garden by mid summer, go on vacation, and forget all about it.  Lame, I know.  It would just get away from me.  I didn't weed it enough.

One fall, I raked all the leaves from our one-acre plot onto the garden.  This is really saying something; only raked the front half of the yard, but we had a lot of leafy trees and dragged tarp-load after tarp-load onto the tarp-sized garden.  Then, on a poorly chosen day, I got bored and dropped a match on it.  Since the leaves were too many to be tilled under, I thought I'd hasten their decay with fire.  Did I mention we lived in a no-open burning Town?  Or that it was a very windy day?
I didn't burn the house down, cause a wildfire or get a ticket.  But I'd get a driveway from the fire department, after the wind picked up the think smoke of damp leaves and carried it across the road at the front of our house.  Hi,guys.  Thanks for swinging by.  Nothing to see here.  I've got my garden hose and it's all under control.  

The last four years we've been in such a state of flux that planting a garden was out of the question.  We weren't staying anywhere long enough to see it through, or weren't in the same place in the spring that we would be in the summer.  There are garden spaces on the campus where we stayed last summer, but we weren't there in spring and didn't know how long we'd stay.  I thought about it several times and would have liked to have a plot, but it just wasn't an option.

So this year I've got the space that was my father-in-law's garden.  Since, you know, we're living in their house, and they are not here.  So I get to have a garden again.  I'm still not very good at it, but I'm doing two things differently.  One, I caved and used the black plastic layer over the dirt, so there'a whole lot less weeding to think about.  This always struck me as a lazy way to garden, but this year I've come to terms with the fact that I am lazy!  At least on hot, sunny summer days.  So, black plastic garden it is!  Caution:  hot on bare feet, but so is the sand under it so that's no difference.  The second thing that's different is that I can see the garden from the house!  Makes a huge difference, no kidding!  From my spot at this desk I can see whether the garden is wilting in the heat, and needs the sprinkler turned on.  From upstairs, I can look out in the morning and see all the blossoms opened up to the sun.  Some of them are huge!  And it's just a nice feeling to see that there, it makes we want to keep it happy.

When I planted the garden, I didn't keep a good track of what I put in.  Yup, still lazy.  Also, it poured buckets the next day and I think some of the seeds just plain got washed away.   So the spinach, lettuce and pepper plants from seed didn't turn up.  Peas that my husband insisted on having did.  But, they came up a bit close to the zucchini & squash, so now they're all tangled up.  Still getting some peas, though.  I see no sign of the green beans.  And the onions got overwhelmed (covered up) by the loose plastic, so I don't think they are doing anything either.
So, what've I got in that garden?  Cucumbers.  And they were even growing straight up until a couple of says ago.  We've got mounds of them!  I have long ones that are from plants I got from a nursery down the road, and in the spots where I planted from seed I've got stubby, fat and prickly ones that look like they want to be huge pickles.  I didn't think the plants were big enough to have fruit yet but I went out one day and there were 5 huge cucumbers!  They must be loving the very rainy month of June and early July we had.  I'm still deciding whether to try pickling, as the stove here is glass top and you're not supposed to use a canning contraption on it.  I have zucchini, and as much as I swore I was only growing a few because I didn't want to be inundated with them, here we are buried under gigantic zukes that become gargantuan overnight when you didn't even know they were there!  Zucchini bread, anyone? 

I also have a variety of peppers that we got from down the road- they were payment for some work hubby did - Bulgarian carrot chiles, purple jalapenos,banana peppers.  No regular green or red peppers.  Not sure what to do with these yet besides make chili- but I will probably make poppers at some point.  We've also got medium sized tomatoes that don't want to get red, and totmatillos- had to google to find out how to know when they are ripe.  Right now they are just big green empty skins.  We may get to make salsa. I have pumpkins that were supposed to be pie pumpkins but appear way too big to be pie pumpkins already, something that might be a watermelon, and a huge vine that's a member of the squash family and it going right over the outside edge of the garden and up the fence, but has no fruit on it yet.  As I said, I don't remember what I put where, so the jury is out on what that is.  Oh, and I am pretty sure I have an acorn squash, too. 

The Mayor wanted corn so there's a couple short rows of that, and in between them I planted garlic.  (I planted the corn twice because the first batch didn't do anything.) I know you're supposed to plant garlic in the fall, but they come in huge quantities, so I saved some for later but I tried some for now, too.  I hope to replant with spinach and lettuce crops for the fall weather, so I'll do more garlic then.  If there's one food item you go through a lot of cooking vegetarian cuisine, it's onions and garlic.  And really, the garden should be a kitchen garden, stuff that I will use, shouldn't it?

I enjoyed making pie from fresh pumpkins last fall, so it looks like I'll be doing a bunch more of that. Sign up now for your thanksgiving dessert!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lost and Found

A few months ago, it came to my attention that The Girl was storing quite a lot of stuff in my purse.  I have always resisted the "mom is a pack mule" mindset- not that I don't carry a large bag, but I don't need everyone trying to hand me their bulletins after church, or their various and sundry articles.  No.  What I've got in there is MINE, unless you're an infant in diapers.

So I told The Girl I thought it was about time she got her own purse.  "Really!"  SQueeee!  Who knew that this observation would cause so much glee!  She didn't just pull out a kid's purse from under the bed.  We went shopping.  Carefully.  At great length, we found the purse at Penney's on sale for only $12.00!  It was a nice size, tan corduroy, with a couple nice pockets for Ipods and such.  She  took it to Nana who personalized it with some nicely placed butterflies.

So imagine our dismay when she came to me and confessed that the purse was lost.  It had sat forlornly in the upstairs hallway for quite a while, but she couldn't say just when it had gone missing.  To compound the problem, we'd been to Philly for a long weekend.  And to the 30-hour famine overnight at a strange church.  And about a million other possible places.  And the box that it sat next to in the hall had been taken to the Clothing Closet at church.

As time passed, I found out about a half dozen other items that were IN the purse and therefore, also lost.  The Pandora-type bracelet she got for her birthday.  My earbud headphones that stay in while I am jogging (not really).  The peace-sign wallet the "tooth fairy" brought when she got her molar pulled in Feb.  We were both becoming terribly sad about it.  I emailed people in Philly.  I called churches and libraries, pestered grandparents and aunts.   She cried.  I went to bed one night and prayed about it.  I know some people are programmed to do this for lost items all the time, but I'm not really.  I let the tempter convince me that God doesn't care about this, even though I have had the experience before of seeing in my mind's eye where I should look.

But I woke up the next morning convinced that the purse was in this house.  Moreover, I thought that it was in the little kids' room and that The Princess has stashed it with her toys.  We gave the room a half-hearted once over, mostly looking in toy boxes, and didn't find it.  I still thought it was in the house somewhere, but we had no place else to look.

Yesterday, I dragged The Mayor's suitcase out of the closet to pack him for camp.  This morning, I started digging through the closet to clean it out now that the big obstacle was gone.  (There are about 10 clothing items hanging in this closet.  We're pretty minimalist around here since our last home was a 30' travel trailer and we have one foot on an airplane most of the time.)  In the bottom of the closet there is some old blue luggage and a bag of clothes that don't quite fit The Princess yet.  And under that, voila!  The purse!!  The Girl wasn't here this morning, and I couldn't wait to show it to her when I went to pick her up.  We have been ever so happy since then.  Thanks for sharing in our joy!  Next time, I will listen to God and look a little harder when I have a revelation.  Now, if we could find the keyring The Giant lost...