Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh Dear! Neigh!

You just know she thought these shoes made her look like a prima ballerina on point.

Somehow, however, hooves come to mind.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Closet Conservative

I am listening to a replay of the Rush Limbaugh radio show and something he said, concerning "independents" or "moderates" being the swing 20% of voters, those who really determine every election.


Rather than just being who they are and trying to use genuine passion and core beliefs, they're advised on language, approach, attitude, all kinds of things to go get the independents because there's something unsaid that accompanies this, that the independents are special people, because they're undecided. They are not closed-minded. See, ideologues, particularly on the right, conservative ideologies are said to be closed-minded, and along with that goes bigoted and racist and all of that. The independents, now, these are people, they can't be fooled. These people, they decide issue by issue. And I've always resented this whole construct because I've always thought, I've always known that moderate, slash, independent is simply another word for liberal, particularly moderate. Definitely moderate, another word for liberal. But now what's happened, these self-described independents -- and I know what some of you are saying, "Rush, shut up! Why do you want to offend the independents? Now they're on our side." I'm not trying to offend anybody. I'm just telling you what I think about this. Don't you understand, folks, I understand about winning elections, but nobody can ever make me believe that elections are only about 20% of this population. I'm never going to believe that. I don't care what kind of seasoned professional who has made it his life's work to win elections tells me this. I'm not going to believe it, because more than 20% vote.

The whole segment can be read here but I wanted to throw this thought out: and I can say this because I had long-considered myself an "Independent". Now and for the past 7 years, I have called myself a Conservative and let me tell you, it ain't easy!

I don't align myself with the Republican party because I don't trust them to align themselves with US. They almost to a man align themselves with Democrats when the vote really counts, throughout these past 20 years. They have helped cause the mess we find ourselves when they turned their backs on the 1994 mid-term election mandate: Live within our means and balance the budget. Cut out all the pork and put America back to work.
They gradually saw the benefit of giving money to their constituents as a way to gain a vote. They sold out. They were BOTH angling to secure the growing Latino vote (that huge & growing voter base) and bet the farm they would be the one to win out but in the end, the Democrats got their vote. Why?

I believe that although the Latin community is family-based, hard-working and to a large degree religious, they did not want to associated with the Party that promotes this lifestyle. Who would want to?

The Mainstream Media, pundits and journalists, politicians and professors and Hollywood have successfully indoctrinated generations of Americans and Mixed Americans and would-be Americans that "Conservatives" are all Republicans and Republicans are all redneck, racist, God-fearing, gun-clinging, hate-mongers who live to build up their bank accounts and eat off the carcasses of the little guy and start wars for oil and snatch food out of the mouths of school-children while they beat them with Bibles and sleep with their secretaries! Oh yeah, and they destroy the environment and killed Bambi!

Everything else that is counter-culture to what used to be thought of as "Western Culture" needs to be tolerated. Husband-wife, 2.4 kids in the suburbs and the white picket fence? OUT! Live with 5 friends in an urban setting, hanging around and whining about your money-, boyfriend-, ex-wife-, job-seeking woes? IN! Father Knows Best. The hell he does; he's an idiot that can't open the fridge without rolling eyes and instructions from a long-suffering live-in gay room-mate with a monkey.

Today, the face of a pastor isn't Rev. Bill Graham, a man who has stood strong and solid for years while preaching the word of God...... no, no, no, the face that stands out from the crowd today is Fred Phelps, that lunatic who pickets funerals and jabs hate-filled signs in the air, screaming at the top of his lungs that the dead man is hated by the God he promotes. Or the other nutjob from Gainesville who thinks burning a Koran is somehow a good idea. This, while our military is trying and dying to change the hearts and minds of our ideological enemies.

I grew up thinking of Catholic fathers being something like Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley. He loved the fatherless boys and helped shape them into young stand-up men. Oh NO. We can't have that image today...... not only do we have to tear down Bing Crosby as a man and a father, you just KNOW what the Fathers were really doing at Boys Town, ALL of them. The ENTIRE Catholic Church are a vast pedophile playground. And the Boy Scouts, too!! But nothing of the sort can be considered to be occurring in OTHER all-men cloistered communities. Oh no. Don't go there; it wouldn't be politically correct to besmirch ___________s. You fill in that blank at your own peril.

The reason, I think, people would prefer to be thought of as "independent" is they don't want to be perceived as anything that the elites label "conservative". That all-inclusive word that paints a negative picture. Conservatives want peace, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, compassion for those who truly can't survive without assistance and mutual respect. We ARE NOT a caricature that THEY get to define. But they have successfully painted this onto the fabric of our lives.

No amount of denial from us has been accepted and we are standing here wondering what went wrong. We did the right thing. We grew up, got jobs, paid taxes, raised kids, paid more taxes, saved money, bought houses, took care of the houses, gave to charity, volunteered with the PTA, sat on the bleachers cheering the team on and we're the bad guy! Why?

Because we can't ever be seen as right, or right-ish. We are not thought of as moderate. If we are Conservative, we are Evil. If we are Conservative, we are predators. If we are Conservatives, we are the cause of all the problems in this country and this entire world.

Now, if you are not a Liberal Democrat but don't want to be thought of negatively, why would you EVER call yourself anything BUT an Independent. You might THINK like a Conservative, but you would never want to wear that heavy cloak.

You Are the Closet Conservative. And the last person still in hiding.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ring Yer Bells

Wholesome Entertainment from Northern Bitter-Clingers



See, you don't need MTV or Simon Cowell to find good music!

This reminds of a practical joke someone played on me, but good!

When we lived in Valdez, Alaska, I joined a bell choir one Christmas. I am NOT musical but aspired to be. Can't sing. Don't play an instrument but not from lack of trying, so when I was asked if I'd like to do this, I JUMPED at it.

Now, I KNEW we were going to be performing on stage in front of an audience, but a bell choir is large and I figured with all these people around me, no one would be focusing me specifically, so I was marginally okay with the notion of being on display.

We practiced several times a week for over a month and all I had to do was read the notes and know when to chime one or the other of the two bells I held. One in each hand. I can do this! I can read music, no problem. I was punctual, and persistent. I showed up, in dress for the final rehearsal and even threw on make-up for the show.

We were introduced to the audience, marched out to our places, picked up our bells and stood ready. The conductor raised her wand, the music started (it was a very familiar Christmas carol) and when we got to the part where one of my bells was needed, I let out the chime, all smug and happy, and promptly hit a sour note.

You know that feel you get when you trip over something so nondescript as a sidewalk that is only slightly uneven? You stumble and look behind you as though to confirm it was unnoticeable and you really are more graceful than that? It all happens in a heartbeat and you hope no-one noticed? Someone always does. You never do these sorts of humanly things unobserved.

I rang that bell and out came a clonker of a note and I knew immediately something was wrong but to be absolutely certain, the note came again just a few measures over and I rang it once more before I realized; my bells had been switched. The person who laid them out had them reversed. And everyone noticed.

And that was my first and last time on stage.


Tomato Pie..... Oh My....

We were invited to an Easter dinner and enjoyed several hours of delight with a fun group of people who shall remain anonymous unless you happen to be able to pick them out.

First, Pim's cups.... if you have never tried one, you might ought to check them out. They are totally unusual for our area yet perfect. Lighter than a Mint Julip and more delicate than a wine cooler, but as deceptive as a Long Island Ice Tea.

So that set the stage for sitting around and visiting as the rest of the guests arrived. We were "fashionably late" (read: She's late again!) because I didn't time my dish correctly.

I wanted to make something from the leeks that are rapidly readying for consumption and knew it was to be an appetizer because everything was decided upon for the meal. I browsed the innertubes and found several interesting compositions using pears and leeks which sounded just the right idea but, being me, I switched things around a bit and learned something in the process.

Puff pastry is, in a word, complicated. If you have a Joy of Cooking laying around, I am pretty sure that is where I got the recipe for the first time I tried making Puff Pastry.

This was when we lived overseas and in an ex-pat community and I was introduced to it as something that didn't have to come from a bakery or restaurant but something you use at home. The Britons can buy this at any grocery and I think it is fairly commonly used in Europe but around where we live in the Southern States, it is available, frozen, and rather expensive. It should be, what with all the butter that is supposed to be in it.

So one day I wanted to see if I could make it. Now, we lived in the tropics (think hot as blazes) and this is not conducive to making puff pastry. The flour and butter need to stay cold.

You start with a basic dough and roll in out to a flat rectangle and cut slab of butter over this shape, fold into thirds and roll it out. Repeat this endlessly. Now, your body is warm and your hands are warm, and you melt the butter but shouldn't. Where the temperatures are cold, like the northern climes, you can do this a number of times before it needs to be chilled.

But in the Middle Eat, the Far East and the Gulf State region, every time you make a fold, you need to plonk it back in the fridge to cool up again or all the butter melts and you don't get the true classic flakiness of Puff pastry.

Now, while searching for a recipe I learned about this thing called Rough Puff pastry and this is what I made to make this tart.

2 1/2 cups white flour, sifted by YOU.
3 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of ice cold water.

I had a bag of flour I keep in the freezer and used this to help keep this as cold as possible, poured the measured, sifted amount into a food processor and added the cut up sticks of butter. Whirr this in pulses and add the water from the downspout slowly as you pulse to incorporate the 3 ingredients without pureeing it. You want chunky, not smooth.

Dump on a floored board, fold into a manageable mass, roll out, dust with flour, fold into thirds and roll again. Work quickly and repeat several times until you get it blended. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate at least 1 hour. More is better. Take out and do that fold n roll two more time and divide this now into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap separately and chill.

Now, chop and clean 4 leeks and make sure there is no sand or dirt in those crevasses. Sweat them in a little olive oil for 15 minutes, work in 2 tablespoons of butter and a scant 1/4 cup flour and add 3/4 cup of milk to make a bechamel sauce right in with those soft leeks. This should end up being creamy and smooth and somewhat thick. It should cook for 10 minutes to remove any floury taste. Add a little salt to enhance the oniony flavor. Allow to cool.

I canned brandied pears last fall and used this but you can use any fresh pear, like a bosc. (If you have red pears, I'd consider leaving the red peal on and washing it well. That color would look amazing in this dish) You'll need at least two pears, and slice them thinly.

Chunk up a 4.5 ounce round of brie. You can leave the rind on if it soft but trim some of it away if it is aged brie.

Now, with all your ingredients at the ready, heat the oven to 425 and and place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Roll out the larger piece of pastry dough on a floured board and transfer to the paper. Trim to a clean rectangle, approximately 9 x 13. This is the bottom of the tart.

Roll out the second piece and trim to 2 strips measuring the length and the width and 3/4" wide. Dip a little water along the outer edges of the bottom piece of dough and lay these long piece on top to create a frame.

Trim 4 more slices like this but make them 1.5" wide and fold them lengthwise in half. This is the upper edge of the tart and if you look at the photo closely, you will see this nice smooth soft edge that looks so pretty. Daub a little water again on the outer edge and lay these on top. Press lightly along in inner edge to firmly adhere these edges.

Smooth the creamy leeks onto the bottom and dot the top with the chunks of brie. Lay the pear slices in rows on top, brush the dough frame with a beaten egg wash and bake in that hot oven approx 25 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You'll see the pastry puff up and if you lift the tart with a spatula, you see when the bottom has browned light underneath.

Allow to cool and slice with a sharp knife or pizza cutters work exceedingly well.

So we had this and hummus to nibble on and a Pims cup to wash it down. Life is Good.

Once everyone had gathered, it was time to eat and the time was right to enjoy an afternoon in a lovely garden, set with a table that sat everyone comfortably. It was a picture out of a magazine; How to Dine in Style and Comfort in Your Own BackYard.



We filled our plates with corn pudding, outrageous salad, tomato pie (oh man! Paula Deen!) and out came the crown jewel:

Leg of Lamb


video


Now, I don't know how I got so lucky to be in this number, but lucky doesn't really begin to describe how it felt.

Blessed. That's better.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Other Shoe Drops- Uo-Date

AH, the joys of home ownership.

We live on well water and have a pretty good system. The water tastes nice, lots of it in the ground. True, it is acidic and caused our pipes to corrode last year and flood half the house. But at least we had a great well pump! IT kept pumping that water through the system and out the broken end all over the place. It worked great!

True, we had to rip out plumbing in the wall throughout and replace the corroded pieces. And sheetrock the holes. Repaint. But at least we don't have to deal with Chinese Drywall, right?!

Yes, all the wood floors were ruined. And the carpet. and the baseboards.

But that was last year!

Yesterday, that great pump went out. Now we have no water.

Which is worse?

Up-Date: Oh yea!!!! It was not the pump, after all..... only the switch. It had corroded. (What is UP with that?) Easily fixed and much cheaper than hauling the pump out of the ground.

Still, it makes you think. What would we do without water? How well would a windmill work out there? How much would it cost to dig another well?

Long Time Coming

If you have read prior postings, you are aware of my attempts to grow artichokes and leeks. This is an up-date on the progress.

If I could offer any advise on vegetable gardening to a beginner, it would be this:

1. Plant only what you will eat.
2. Plant enough of those to share.
3. If it costs more to grow than buy, reconsider.
4. Take a few chances.

1. Why on earth would you take the space and time to grow broccoli if you don't eat it? It is interesting to watch, I'll give you that, but you're going to be out there, watering, fertilizing, weeding & stalking insects. Your time is valuable. Waste it wisely.

2. This is twofold. Part A: Hedging the bet. Now, I am growing 90% of our plants from seeds. I have a window opportunity to get the seedlings in the ground at the most opportune time for growth and production. I also have losses to consider. So, I planted 6 minipots of each variety of veg. I always sowed more than 1 seed and in many cases, when it came time to transplant into larger pots, was able to divide and save the multiples. Even the rare 3fer.

(This is not always the case. For example, with carrots I sow directly in the beds thinly and pull and discard the crowders. I have tried transplanting them and it really does not work for me. Those carrots always grow out deformed and forked. Beets..... sort of the same. I can get them to transplant but they don't seem hardy. The leaves are good in salad however, so it something worthwhile.)

Now as they grow, I will have plenty to get in the ground at that opportune time and enough left over to fill in when something unexpected happens to those plants. We lost 3 tomatoes this year in rapid order to cutworms. I didn't see that coming but had extra plants to pop in. They may not be of the same variety and that's a shame. In some of these instances, I had already given the young plants to friends for their gardens.

Which brings me to Part B: Sharing. Always plant a little more than you need, because it is a blessing to be able to share what you grow with your friends and neighbors and yes, strangers. Sharing is very important.

3. It seems self-explanatory but even I will succumb to growing things like onions. Now onions take a looonggggg time to grow and are relatively cheap to buy, so why am I wasting that time and space? I wanted to see what it takes to grow an onion and I have to confess; mine ain't worth it. I can buy a better yellow onion than I can grow. Same goes for the purple ones and garlic BUT

I grow shallots well and can sub-divide them continually so that makes it worth-while.
The leeks are another story I have been detailing over the months and now we are eating the rewards of the painstaking process. Leeks are also expensive and (once you know how) relatively easy to grow. They require water and vigilance in our raised beds and are superb.


Also they are divine. I love leeks.

I love green things that grow and I love garden surprises. Not surprises with legs that chew holes in the leaves.... I don't care for those surprises. I kill those surprises....

NO no no, these surprises.....

That thing on the right is fennel and I planted a store-bought pot last year. It did alright and I harvested the seeds for limpa at Christmas. I was surprised to see it winter over and grow out new smaller plants! I have never bought fennel or eaten it to my knowledge, but here I had something I wasn't expecting. An opportunity to learn something new!

So I cut two bulbs away last week and braised them. The flavor was terrific but the bulb was very woody so I learned, surprise!!!! eat the smaller ones. Leave the big one for seeds. (you learn, right?)

The things on the left are shallots, French shallots and they, too, are expensive but growing them in Louisiana is easy. So I do.

4. Take a chance now and then. The rewards are worth the heart-ache. If someone says to me, "Oh that won't grow here", my reaction is usually, "Really? Why?" and then I want to try.

We tried asparagus and have been very pleased with the results. The artichoke has been a Long Time Coming and we ate our first one Thursday night,

along with a green salad

and venison sausage. We truly are in high-cotton.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Here's to You, Joe

We moved in to this little slice of heaven 2 years ago. We took quite a long while to shift stuff from the old one and I was in no particular rush. It was a dream that had been weaving in my head for many years and perhaps this was my unconscious way of processing the reality. There was also this weird feeling that, as a dream, the rightful owners were just off on vacation and when they got back, there was gonna be hell to pay! I'm only a squatter, living on someone else's stuff!

So, moving in means setting up and organizing and unpacking and decision-making. Don't ask how long it took to hang pictures. There are some still in back closets, waiting for their time.

After a few weeks passed by and as we were unloading another truckful of bric-a-brac, we watched a car slow at the driveway, hesitate and then turn in. The house is set back on an acre, with a slightly winding gravel driveway. The car was in no hurry to wheel it's way down the path and this gave us a few moments to ask each other if we recognized the driver.

Was it a Buick? Or an Olds? It was brown..ish and definitely a land yacht. Finally, it reached the footprint of the carport slab and came to a full-stop. The engine cut off, the door winged open and this long slender sheathed leg eased out and placed the attached foot firmly on the ground. A man hauled his lanky frame out of the car and pointed to this Japanese Plum tree standing tall at the end of the concrete and said, clearly and with purpose, "Steve said all those loquats on that tree are mine!"


This was our introduction to a neighbor from across the street at the other end of the block. Joe. He and his wife Lee (not her real name) had raised a family of girls in St. Bernard and lost just about everything but their dignity in Katrina. How do you start over in your 70s?

If he had anything to say as an answer, I think it would be, "With a sense of humor". Every time I bumped into Joe at the market, or wandered over to drop off tomatoes, he was in the best of moods. It really is a gift to be an optimist.

Neighbors are and have been a blessing for me. I have always had the best. I don't know why that is, but it is. My next-door neighbor from the old house bought their home the same time we did back in 1997 and we've been fast friends throughout these years. (She's even forgiven me for jumping ship like a rat and moving to the country).

When she moved over to this side way back then, she brought with her a couple of these trees from her house in Lakeview and while I watched them mature, I really didn't pay their due attention. I wish I had! I've lost a lot of years in my ignorance.

The loquat is large evergreen and we have them littered around St. Tammany. They set their fruit in late fall/early winter and slowly mature as spring approaches. This might serve them well across the lake but they take their chances on the Northshore. We get the freezing temperatures they don't and the hours enough to kill off the more tender fruitlets.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened in the winter of 2009/10. It was uncommonly icy and stayed that way long enough to knock off every tiny fruit of a well-pollinated tree and it didn't make me feel so happy or optimistic when I had to report to Joe that he wasn't going to have his crop that year. He takes everything in stride. "Oh well, next year!"

This year, however, has been entirely different. The bees were buzzing in December and Mother Nature spared us the harshest of weather. Our enormous tree is full of soft orange loquats and they are fantastic to watch as they grow!

But, all things pass and so did Joe. Just a few months ago we got a call from our next-door neighbor telling us Joe died the night before. I didn't even know he'd been admitted to the hospital. He lived just across the way.

So, now I stand out there, nibbling on his ripening loquats and thinking of Joe.

Here's to you!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Well, Life On The Farm Is Kinda Laid-Back!

Ah, I miss John Denver's voice. When I am out wandering around the vegetables and chickens, I have that song playing in the recesses of my head.

We have had some great weather these past two days. It might be only one day but it feels like more. This is because I got all sorts of things accomplished yesterday.

Let's begin with...... THIS!

I have been wanting to paint a block on the coop and I knew it would be this one. It's called Chicks and Hens. HAhahahah love it. Subtle. An inside joke for us quilters.....

The chickens hung around and watched me do it as well. They are SO much fun to hang around with.

Stu talks all the time. He is out there clucking and muttering and crowing all day long. There were a few times when a hen was laying and he'd walk into the coop and chortle at her. If one of them made that buk-buk-buk-BAWKKK sound upon laying, he'd be in there in a flash to see what was happening.
See that? It's the beginning of our first artichoke........ so tiny, so delish! Well, okay, I don't know what they taste like, yet.

Now, yesterday on Facebook, Home Grown Edible Landscapes had a link to a recipe for Leek, Potato and Zucchini Potatoes. If you have been keeping up with the cats and quilts, you will know that leeks are something of a passion with me. They are so delectable and expensive in the stores and I have been trying to grow them for several years now. The timing has to be right to get a decent size. I have more than 40 out there growing and two of them were good-sized. We also have frozen zuccs and lots of baby greens out there and even the parsley in the herb garden so I made it exactly by the recipe and only needed to use bought potatoes. I added walnuts and some blackberries I found out by the mailbox.

Also, remember UberGeek? The best computer and cute dude who has straightened me and my issues with viruses now twice? His mother and my friend brought us a whole buncha rhubarb last year and I have a little bit left in the freezer so, after adding some Ponchatoula strawberries to the rhubarb, I have this for dessert. Rhubarb Crumb

So that you can see the progress on the green stuff, here is a shot of the herb garden. So mature compared to last year. The cilantro is still going strong and the fennel is ready to be braised. I can't believe how huge the oregano has grown and I have to really get a handle on the mint because it is getting out of control.
Here you see the beginning of the lower garden. Last year we laid it out a little differently but this year I have divided it up in quarters.

Imagine if you will, in the lower left, you have 4 rows; 3 of tomatoes and one of assorted winter squash. To the right with the supports are 4 rows: Cucumber, summer squash, green beans and ornamental gourds. Behind this in the 4 uncovered rows are the potatoes and to the far left back are 4 rows of bi-colored corn.

Now there is a disappointment growing. Or not growing , to be precise. Last week, we planted 2 kernels in every spot and 24 spots per row. As of now, there is less than half coming up and to be even less successful, although 2 kernels were planted, only one of them have bothered to show up.

So I think I will go out today and plant 3 in the empty places. They are supposed to germinate in 4 days and if I wait much longer to replant, they be so far behind the others as to perhaps not be fertilized later.

When the days are filled and sun's setting low, I pull out the fiddle and I rosin up the bow,
The kids're all asleep so I keep it kinda low........

THANK GOD I'M A COUNTRY BOY!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Travels

Our exchange student from 1998, Inka Pitkanen, is wwoofing her way through New Zealand and posted some photos recently.

I snagged one and used a caption she added on her page to make this


Monday, April 11, 2011

Slow

Applique is the sewing equivalent to cooking with a crock pot as opposed to a microwave.

I have been making quilts now for quite some time and although I don't race my way to the finished border, I can knock one out in a matter of hours. Okay, not hours at one long stretch, but still....

This is not the case with applique. It takes me hours and hours and hours to make one block! And I am working my way through several techniques, not of needle-turning, but of pattern marking.

So this is my 2nd block and instead of drawing the design on the top of the background fabric, I used a piece of carbon to trace it on the back of the fabric and basted every piece to the front.


After each piece was basted down on the line, I used those lines to draw the final shape and trimmed within 1/4" for seam allowance. Slow and redundant but effective.

As I sewed and needle-turned, I pulled out the basting threads and voila! I liked this technique and I really liked not having pencil lines on the fabric. However....

.....Mona taught her class in needle-turned applique last week and showed this technique:

Here you draw the design on a piece of light-weight RED DOT fabric and baste that to the top of the background fabric. After you trace the pieces on freezer paper, yo cut them out and use as templates for the fabric pieces. Then using the traced RED DOT as a placement guide, each piece is basted down and stitched.

Here you can see my attempts at lining up the pieces underneath that RED DOT fabric.


FAIL


And here you can see that I have succumbed to using reading glasses to applique with. I will be calling them applique glasses because I don't need for sewing on the machine or reading at all. BUT I SURE DO NEED them to do this tiny needle, skinny thread hand work!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pimento Cheese

Nobody makes pimento cheese like my in-laws....... the other day I had an overwhelming hankering for it, too.

That was because I was out watering the young plants in the raised beds. We had a nice rain a week ago but sunny skies ever since and this means I spend quality time with the veg. This is a good thing. I get to see incrementally how things grow.

We seeded several new (to us) varieties of tomatoes this year and are eager to see how they do and I remember from last year mistakes I don't wish to repeat again.

The new ones include Eva Purples, Margaret Romas, Convolusta Genovese and Money Makers. We are going again with the Razzleberries (awesome!) and Cherokees but they are in the raised beds where I can really keep them under control (right right right) I planted all but 2 or 3 of each of the seedlings and gave some away. I kept a few as back-up. Always hedging a bet, me.

>So I stand there and water and observe when things get chewed to pieces by what has been diagnosed as probably cutworms. Those devious characters! Twice now I have replanted tomatoes and am running out rapidly. If this doesn't stop, I'll resort to buying Bonnie Plants to fill the gaps in the lower garden.

Last year we used stakes and I find them less effective than cages. They support the tomato plant right up to the day the fruit starts to fill out. At this point in time, they droop to the ground and havoc takes over. Another mistake I shall not be repeating.

Friday, I hauled home 20 cages to add to our collection. I need even more. I use them to support squash as well. I am taking advantage of vertical growth and keeping the fruit off the ground where opportunistic marauders take their chance at a handy snack.

So after I plunked them in the ground in the lower garden, I walked over to see the progress with the corn and potatoes. Corn is just starting to peek out and we have 27 potato plants out there.... got a late start planting them but that's cool..... we stuck with Yukons and Reds this year. The beans are up and the cucumbers made an appearance finally. Still waiting on the flying saucers and crook-necks.

The zucs are flowering and as I noticed for the past few years, the first several blooms are all female. Then they will only flower male for a while. I guess this is nature's way of allowing the plant to get a little size on them before the fruit shows up.

SPEAKING of which...... John picked off more than 75 peaches from the 3 larger trees last night. "How many did you leave?????" "Plenty." "Twenty?! That's ALL???" "PLENTY! Don't worry!"

Last year we had great success with the Carmen pepper and so, I planted them again and tossed in Mucho Nacho jalapenos. I found a "creole" pepper and a 3-pak of pimentos plants and gave them a new home. Pimento, huh........ cheese..........

I have the recipe.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Idiot






No 1. WHERE does his Awesomeness think ELECTRICITY comes from to power these cars he keeps PUSHING, from Govt/ Motors? hhhm?

No 2. If the guy can't afford $3.00 gas, HOW CAN HE AFFORD A PRIUS? HMMMMM????? THE GM Volt STARTS at $32,780.

No 3. THE GM Volt STARTS at $32,780. because this bears REPEATING!!!!!!!!

Idiot. ASS

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Panama Day 6

We woke to another grey day. Remember now, this is the dry season, right?

This is NOT a black n white photo, and no, I have not photoshopped it. I am also not complaining because, like vampires, I avoid the sun when possible.


We began the day fairly early with a breakfast and hopped in a boat to go out to a far island to do a little snorkling. This boat moved at a fair clip and we had the great good fortune to be always under a clearing in the weather. But as we moved farther into the open waters, the choppy seas began to pound us and these fiberglass benches were hard on the tush.... and we weren't even half way to the far island waaayyyy ovverrrr there!

After about the 5th jarring slam, I said, "Look, I don't want to sound like I'm against the idea of going all the way out there, but, can I just ask, 'Why are we.....What are we doing all that way over there again?'" It was quickly decided that as the skies were decidedly worsening, we'd make a u-turn and head over to this cute spot, where the snorkling was okay, not great due to the weather..... no promises. I thought "okay, now we're talkin'!"

Cute, huh? They had a restaurant and some cabins on piers for rent.

Now the bar was littered with liquor bottles of all sorts but they had no ice. no ice..... the beer was cold....ish.

Nevermind. The snorkling was fine and as we were the first boat to arrive, we were quickly joined by several others with tourists. We along with everyone else placed lunch orders and stood around, snorkled, took photos.




And then this happened:



video


This happened for about 90 minutes with NO let-up. I was genuinely frightened at one point. As it intensified, I moved behind the bar along with 4 fellow tourists. I watched the men in the kitchen through the pass-through and wondered it I could fit through the opening. There was a door but you had to go around back of the building and this meant getting soaked and in danger to stay dry and safe.

We stayed as pleasant as you could hope to under the circumstances No one was wigging out. What could you do? Better question was "How much more was headed our way?"

The men in the kitchen laughed when John jokingly asked, "Where's the lunch?" Right, except no one had ordered soup and there was no dry place to even stand and eat.

It did eventually let up enough to serve the meals and we watched all the others pile into their respective boats and peel off. Our driver got into his and raced around in large circles bilging the rain water out the stern.

Then we gathered up our stuff and climbed in. On the way back to Bocas, we found, finally, sloths. They just hang around in the high canopy of the trees on Sloth Island. If someone had told me that, I would not have been straining my eyes all this time.


Tornadic Activity

yech.. I hate that term. I don't know if I even spelled it correctly or if Oxford recognizes it the first word.

In any case, we had a day of tornado watches on Monday and as the sun set in the west, (unless you're already IN the west. Then it sets in the east.... See, you're past where the sun set....... look I can't explain it to you here.... trust me and go here; *) (HAHAHAHHAHA..... classic Lovitz)

Okay the sun was setting but you'd never know it by looking at the sky. It was crazy dark with cloudcover. And just when all light left the sky, all heck broke out above us. The wind whipped like mad and a cold front ripped by.

Now, I'm thinking..."well, at least the corn isn't up to get damaged." I feared for all the young seedlings out there and the peaches on the trees. Not the artichokes! Pleeeeeeze, not the chokes... We've come so far........ Nothing I could do about it. I had taken the time earlier to protect with the heavy hay mulch as much as possible. Thank God John mulches as thickly as he does or that would've been found across the highway somewhere.

When I let the chickens out in the morning yesterday, I was so surprised to see that not only was everything peachy (bah!) but actually al the better for it.

I water everyday when we don't get rain, but in truth no amount of watering does what a good soaking downpour can. I think the tomatoes were standing a little straighter. The beets looked taller. The peas definitely grew an inch overnight, and that is weird. The strawberries plumped up.

Oh, and I found another potato. So we have 27 plants up now. If you're counting. Like me. Every day. One whole row only as 3 plants. Not too good.

But the pear trees are loaded! I will have to cull some of them because once they get big, the limbs cannot support that kind of weight.





*
From City Slickers II
Glen: All right, now the sun sets in the East, right?
Mitch: No! The sun sets in the West.
Glen: That's if your *in* the East, but we are way out West now, so we are past where the sun sets.


Why I Don't Iron

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Spring Garden

This is a Tropic Snow peach tree, developed in Florida for southern climes and fewer chill hours.What is remarkable, aside from the number of peaches we have removed as it is a young tree, was we never saw it bloom! Bloom it did because it was littered with tiny fruit! Culling is my least favorite thing to do, be it little pre-peaches or carrot seedlings, it doesn't matter. I feels wicked somehow. Yet I know it is the right thing to do.

So to compensate for this murder, I asked to plant new blueberry shrubs. Here is the arch

I love looking at the sweep and yes, although the original five looked pretty bad last autumn, they filled out and are bearing lots of fruit this year. After we harvest, I will be more diligent in fertilizing for new growth.

What is this? Artichoke and my shadow. I planted 8 seeds in the fall and three came up. Those three were coddled until I planted them here in their new home and one died immediately. One struggled (that would be the tiny thing in the foreground) and the middle one thrived.
So I planted 14 more seeds. The packet doesn't contain many seeds! One exactly germinated. One. It is now planted to the left of the big one and is half the size of the one at the bottom of the shot. No wonder why artichoke is expensive at the store.