Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Post About Quilts

It occurs to me that I haven't written about quilting of late.

It's not that I haven't been sewing. It has more to do with the other sides of me taking a front seat in more interesting activities. More interesting to me, I suppose, is a more accurate statement. The house search, the vegetables that do and don't co-operate, here comes JazzFest weekend and I'll be there with out-of-town friends and family.

I have been working on a few quilts and had a couple on the big machine in April. My aunt is coming over from Houston with am armful of quilttops we'll be completing during her stay here. I'll be diligent about photographing and posting the pictures of that adventure as it happens.

So really, if you read this and want to learn more about the fabric side of my world, pop over to Bright Hopes Quilting and see the other blog I write. You'll find lots of fabric to look at there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dream On

Back in the young days of HBO, they produced a show called Dream On with a main character who, while interacting with others in the cast, would be reminded of some tv show he saw as a kid growing up. The makers of this comedy cleverly spliced these various scenes into each show and it made for hilarious results.

I loved the show back then and wish I could get my hands on a DVD of at least the first series. And here's why:

So often, I feel like that character.... someone says something to me or I find myself in a situation that harkens me back to tv in the 60s and I love the reminders. Basically because they were gentler episodes and vignettes of life back then.

This morning, while making my rounds in the garden, I heard Oliver Wendell Douglas in my head.

"Oh for Pete's s...." "Oh for CRYING out lou..." "WHAT in the wor......" "WHO in their right m...." I wish I could call out, "LISA!!!!"

Once again, Mother Nature is having her way with me... A few days ago, it was a void of females.... now I see a few of them popping out and the males have gone into hiding. The fun never ends.

If you want to trip down memory lane, enjoy this:

Ah yes, TV when it was worth the watching.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Few Observations

Last year, I planted cucumbers along with the requisite Cherry 100 tomatoes and both veg burst out of the ground, growing at a rapid pace. I was rubbing my hands with delight at the prospect of both in a salad at the same time.

The tomatoes, the only variety I had up til this point been able to grow with any success, were pollinating well and doing exactly as I prayed they would.

The cucumbers were a whole other matter. For starters, I had planted approx 7 of them. Odd number, yes, but the 6-pack had given me lagnaippe and I stuck that in the ground as well. So, off they grew and quickly appeared lovely lovely flowers. Only..... they looked so odd. I leaned in for a closer peer and my eyes spied something I never noticed before. On many of the "flowers" still unopened were tiny gerkins! Let me clarify: between the stem of the flower and the flower itself was this tiny miniscule cucumber and I thought that was weird....... I looked closer still and found that almost every one was this way. Very strange. I thought the flower came first and then the cuc after pollination. How that happened was anybody (else's) guess but I knew bees had something to do with it. And I let it drop. I did ask a few people I respected if they were familiar with this phenomenon but they all to a man said I was crazy. The flower comes first. I must be hallucinating. (I HATE it when people doubt my veracity or sanity)

As the days passed, I found that many of these tiny wonders were turning brown. They shriveled. They dropped. A few, a precious few and not particularly appetizing at that, grew into proper cucumbers and I was disheartened by the whole event. Thank God the tomatoes grew beautifully or I would possibly given up gardening totally at that point.

So flash-forward to last Thanksgiving and I put this whole episode in front of B-I-L Terry for an explanation. I already believe he thinks I'm only slightly above "useless" and the look he gave me confirmed any doubt on that score.

What I saw was the female flower and apparently lots of them. What I saw so very little of were any male flowers. I need both if I had any hope of a crop. In addition: If bees were not helping matters, I could always be the bee and get a paintbrush and go around spreading the pollen for them.

Oohhh..... okay!

And here I am now, buzzing around the veg beds, wanting to pollinate and keeping a weather eye open on the new budding crops. What did I get this year? Males.

Nothing but males. All from seeds mind you. There are again approx 6 plants going to town on my water and fertilizer and not a female in sight. I did plant another row in another bed a few weeks ago..... thank God again for that because at this rate, Vlazic is going to get rich off us once more this summer.

But having had my eyes opened into this new strange world of vegetable pornography, I have been really focusing on the flowers that come with the squashes and it's amazing! We planted a few crook-necked, zucchini and butternuts and the mini squash is so cool to look at. I have lots of the butternuts and haven't seen any males yet. Some of those minis do look like they have grown somewhat and others have fallen off the vine so I ASSUME there have been insects messing around in there and I wonder where the pollen has come from. It's going to be a heartbreak if I don't get any of those amazing winter squashes out there. The plants are so healthy looking.
The crook-necks are ok...nothing spectacular (yet) and we've lost more of the females because not enough males were open at the same time and the zuccs are still to young to make a prediction of. bzzzzzbbbzzzz C'mon guys! I need a little co-operation here!

A few new tomato volunteers have appeared as well and we having been eating carrots and beets fresh out of the ground. And spinach! The kale is about done in and the beans are just going into flower now. COOL.

One last delight. The fig tree I planted last year and thought had died leafed out last month and today I see about 5 figs..... shhhhh don't spook them!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gonna Get Me Some Chikkens!

I've had a quiet silly dream for some time now. So quiet, I didn't breathe much of a word of it. At least, not very often. It would come out whenever I read a book or magazine about the subject. Or watched a film that reminded me of it. Otherwise, I kept it much to myself.

Back to my brother -in-law: It's his fault. Him and his wife. She's the best sister-in-law I could ever ask for and there isn't anything she and T can't do and to top it all off, they live the life I dreamed. But worse, worse(!) they make it look easy.

They live on acreage and have spent the better part of three years building a home and lifestyle to die for, energy-efficient and lovely. They raise pygmy goats (how cute are they!?) and chickens and, oh yes, he's a bee-keeper! Where does it end?

Now a garden is being developed and they are growing artichokes (!) and asparagus and all the usual suspects. Oh yes and of course, fruiting trees and herbs and other marvelous things.

No, my dream isn't to "off them" and move in. It's to copy them!

We have a found a home and 2 acres and will close on it at the end of May.

I'm gittin' me some chikkens!

Good bye, Citylife! You'll find me on the back 2, scattering chicken feed and watering the veggies.

If I don't answer the phone, leave a message.

Mandeville Tea Party

I don't much like hanging around in crowds of people. It's not that I don't like people, I don't care for crowds. I don't understand them. And I am afraid of not being able to read them or anticipate when things start to get out of hand. So I tend to avoid them, as a rule.

Except for JazzFest and now this: (Jazzfest: It's hard to get riled up when the weather is fine, the music is awesome, the beer is cool and the food in abundant supply. Too bad the entry fee is so steep)

It was a beautiful day, Wednesday, April 15, 1009. It started out lovely, cool weather and ended on a high note as you can see from the photos below.

I heard in the morning on the Castner and Wallensky radio show that there was to be a "Tea Party" at the Mandeville Lakefront in the late afternoon and I decided I go check it out and take a few photos.

I arrived at 5:30 pm and wandered around shooting from different angles and listening to two speakers vent their opinions on matters of taxation and their Representatives' responsibility to the taxpayers. After all, it's US who supply the money the politicians decide to use. I think that's fair. If they can take it away from us before we've actually seen it, why can't they answer for how they choose to spend it?

Now here's the thing that makes me nuts: Some journalists on the opposite end of the spectrum take this stance that they don't get the protest. They posture that instead of it being a grassroots movements, it's all being strummed up by the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy and General All-Round Nutjobs at Fox News.

Think I joke?

Take our former luminous star reporter from New Orleans, Susan Roesgen. She, ace reporter that she is, takes the position that instead of actually reporting, she needs to get into a debate with the person she pretends to interview. I never attended J-School, but I did get the general memo about Who, What, Where, Why and How.

Susan R takes one guy (holding a toddler) out of a huge crowd in Chicago and askes a question. Not the most articulate man in Illinois, but hey, she chose him! But instead of letting him formulate a cohesive response, she takes matters into her own hands and confronts him with HER viewpoint and a list of "Facts" and when the crowd starts in and the guy can't get a word in edgewise, she shuts the whole thing down with a pointless jab at Fox News.

See how nicely that works? Make one guy look like a lunatic, rile up a crowd and walk away making everyone watching think you're being surrounded by an angry mob of crazies. Poor poor Susan. Just doing her job and being attacked for it. Such a victim!

I went there, in Mandeville, not to be a part of the event, but to see for myself if what I suspected was true or if it was what the OTHER side wanted people to believe.

Mandeville was anything but a crowd of crazies. They were polite, quiet (good thing too because for about 20 minutes the microphone was malfunctioning and I found it hard to hear the first speaker. PYC stepped up with a loaned mic for the rest of the time) well-mannered and well-behaved. I stayed through the first speaker, when I had difficulities hearing, a group of Youths reciting statements from the Revolution and the second speaker, a man who read from the Declaration (I think) and then broke it down into various statements that I generally support on how what we see the Federal Goverment doing today, usurping all kinds of rights that the Founders NEVER gave in the Constitution. His point was if they take it and we don't resist, we aren't exactly holding up OUR end of the contract: We the People must throw off the shackles of slavery that Government will always seek to place on our beings. Go read the "Declaration of Independence" if you think I'm kidding.

Crowd Shot

Flags on Bikes

Join or Die Flag

A view from the side:

Crowd as I was heading out:

Wallensky and Castner from WRNO radio:

I never saw anyone get ugly, it wasn't an attack on President Obama and it certainly wasn't poorly attended. I don't know the number but if pressed, I'd say 600-750 people.

And remarkably, I didn't see a single politician. I guess they knew they weren't NEEDED.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fast, Cheap, Good

After Katrina, my neighbor, who had some hard-hit property, said something that has stuck with me ever since and I think it is so true.

She was, like everyone after a hurricane, looking for a contractor to help her put her home and that of her mother back together. This is extremely difficult after a major hurricane because everyone is in need of it and there are only so many to go around and they have this propensity to spread themselves very very thin. Hey, I get it.... make hay when the sun is shining...... etc but the trouble comes when they make all these promises to all these needy people and then cannot possibly deliver on them. So they start to dodge people they promised to show up and work for on a set date because another customer has been given the same same same promise and , well, you get the picture.

So one day after being stood up by a potential contractor I can't remember how many times, she turns to me and says:

"Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick two 'cause you'll never get all three under any circumstance"

(and that was just in trying to FIND one to hire!)

So I thought about that and it's true. If you get fast and cheap, you can't expect it to be very good. If it's fast and good, you're gonna pay thru the nose. And if it's cheap and good, be prepared to wait a very long time.

In our experience, we didn't suffer NEAR the damage as others around here did, but it was significant and we needed repairs done and hired what we thought and believed to be a competent contractor.

Three weeks, tops, is all the time he would need to put us back to rights. That was in Late Sept,. early Oct.

We didn't see the back of him til MAY! "3 weeks." he said.

It took 8 months. It was good. It was not cheap but not break-the-bank expensive. BUT MAN was it ever slow. We'd be told they'd be here without a doubt on some day, you could count on it and that day would come and there would be no one in sight. One day, disgusted with the whole recovery nonsense, I headed over to another friend's house and drove an alternate route.

Who did I find but MY contractor and HIS crew hard at work on another house! I should write, YET another house. That's when I learned that in addition to the 7 houses he had on his list there were at least 8 more with promises made for completion dates.

Moral of the story: Don't live in Hurricane Alley. Or Tornado Alley. Or Earthquake Valley. Heck, just find a cave somewhere and hide from contractors.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tomatoes in Manure

My brother-in-law, Terry, has been planting tomatoes in horse manure in South Texas and has tremendous luck. I am green with envy and I hate him for it! They give away and eat their fill and freeze tomatoes, they grow so much and I have this puny amount of area with sunlight to grow a few Cherry 100 plants! HMPH! (At least I get that much. Who am I to complain?)

Well ok, I have a little more light since Katrina and now that those three trees are down even more so I thought, Hey! why not try to grow some Celebrities in manure in containers!

A friend has a friend who has a horse and we got a few bags and pails worth of the gold and I planted four plants in four separate sized containers, just what I had laying around the house. And man alive, the results speak for themselves. Only drawback (there's ALWAYS one, funny that) You have to water EVERY day. The manure is rather porous and does not linger for very long. So I tank it up, move to the next plant and return for another top up.

It's only early April and we have tomatoes! Yea, baby! (yeah yeah they're green BUT they're tomatoes!)

I Heart Compost

We biked to the Mandeville Trailhead to hear a talk about composting from No.2 daughter's former roommate, an ag student at LSU. Now, just when you think you know something.....

I learned so much in less than an hour. I learned I want one of these:

And also lots of these:Red Wigglers!
These little critters tear apart kitchen waste in no time.
AND THEY REPRODUCE at an alarming pace!

I have a composter in the back that I add to every ding-dang day and usually turn regularly but it's a pain because it looks like a garbage bin turned upside down and the opening is not as large as it could be to make the job easier. However, John found a handy "weasel" that I use to mix it up now. The good thing about it is that it is directly on the earth and the earthworms make their own way into and I see lots of them in there. (I also have a couple of potato plants growing OUT of it as well. That's not helpful. Oh and I have three volunteer tomatoes growing where I used old compost in the raised beds. Luckily two of them grew in good spots and I intend to leave them alone. The third one grew in the lawn. It's gonna be history)
Additionally, one really ought to not keep adding to a pile but rather have several and allow them time to be left in peace to break down. So now that one is doing it's thing and I have started another simple pile back by one of the gardens.

But this guy is a whole 'nother story : Apparently these little dudes break down your kitchen waste in a week. I wait MONTHS, (because I'm doing it all wrong!) The Can - O - Worms is raised off the ground and you have to manually add the wigglers. But once they're in, they're good to go.

So my wishlist has a can o worms on it!

My Brother is So Funny

He asked if I was planning to post any "after" photos of the tree removal. I asked him why I should bother? There's nothing to see any longer.

Well, now there are brightly colored spraypaint marks on the grass. Oh yes and on the garden hose because who should bother themselves to nudge it with a foot or just avoid it altogether, right?

Honestly. So the spraypaint, what's up with that? Before you do any digging 'round these parts, you place a phone call to Louisiana One Call so get any utility lines marked. That way you don't go cutting something useful.

Now I have an easter egg grass garden and snakish looking hose.