Saturday, April 30, 2011

Things I Have Learned This Week

*  The key to successful gardening is to plant the peas at least slightly faster than your cat can dig them up.

*  Even if it's a couple years later, one might still be woken up in the middle of the night by a kitty having nightmares about water torture therapy.

*  Warm-yet-spring-looking would really be a great category of clothing to own.

*  There's a lot to be said for exploring famous children's books that you managed to miss during your own childhood.  The fact that they're typically pretty short and can give a real boost to one's "books read this year" tally is just a perk.

*  When an online service like Facebook or Yahoo email announces a wonderful new "upgrade," you're about to have lots of problems

*  When you coat the entire downstairs with a thin layer of grease, you've probably making something from Julia Childs.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Have Garden!

We had a night dipping into the 20s which took out my poor little cucumber plant, but my zucchini

is fine and the  buttercup squash is surviving.
Sort of.  It has looked better.  Of course, it might not even BE buttercup squash,  The seed came from that packet, but I'm only averaging about 50% on the squash I actually get being the squash I planted, so it could be anything. 

Speaking of unhappy plants, the tomatoes in the Wall-of-Waters are still alive,
but they're pretty droopy in places. 
I'm not sure that these sickly-looking plants will actually start producing tomatoes any sooner than any other tomatoes, so meet the back-up plan:
We have some very happy Early Girl starts in the window in Andy's office.  (I'm still working on that greenhouse zipper, that's why)  I planted two seeds per square, and I think every last one of them is growing--though they have all moved into one or two squares.  I'll try separating and replanting them next week. 

Speaking of seedlings, meet Experiment number 1:
 Celery!  I guess I should have started the seeds in maybe January, as it took a solid month for them to even germinate, so I'm not sure how viable these guys will be in 6 weeks, but they look cute.  And experiment number 2:
Peppers!  These guys need warmth, so they're in a modified mini-greenhouse in one of the windows (plastic bags with heated water added to the tray daily), and just started sprouting this week.  We have a salsa window!!!!

The stuff already in the garden is doing really well--when Theo hasn't dug it up.  He's gotten a lot of the snow peas, but I just keep planting.  I figure I just have to stay one or two plants ahead of him...and maybe plant when he isn't looking.
 In the bottom left corner are 4 mustard green plants, and I've started using some of the leaves.  I'd never had them before, but they've got this wonderful almost horseradishy flavor--well, it's wonderful if you like horseradish, I suppose.  It's still too early for anything else, but check this out:
 Our first potato is sprouting!!!!  Several people told me I planted them too early, but the guy at the nursery said it was fine, so I guess that's one for the nursery guy.  I'm hoping it's one of the blue/purple ones I planted, but after last year, I'll take anything. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What The Feline Residents of Chateau Sutton-Goar Have Learned This Week

*  Don't try to eat bugs that can sting.

*  Yowling as if in pain gets the humans out of the shower much faster

*  Constantly picking fights with each other is an easy form of entertainment on rainy days, but it seems to make humans develop weird eye twitches

*  Humans do not share big outdoor litter willingly, and will occasionally run out of the house screaming about snow peas when one is practicing proper kitty hygiene.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Battlestar Gardenia

Yesterday I baked some of the pumpkins that I didn't plant in last year's garden.
In fact, I've never planted whatever strain of pumpkin this actually IS, and wouldn't choose to do so as it's rather stringier than I would actually want.  Not that my opinion actually matters much in our garden.  I'm trying to adopt more of a zen-type approach to the garden.  Provided it's something edible, I will try not to bitch about what comes up in the garden, even if I didn't plant it.  Or want it.

Speaking of which, I know I have read somewhere about using old milk (or vinegar, in our case) jugs as little seed incubators in the garden, so I have decided to give it a shot.  As they are fairly easy to grow and are definitely things that I would normally not plant until the first of June, I soaked some cucumber, zucchini, and a buttercup squash overnight
then planted them in the garden with a jug (bottom removed) over the top of each of them like so:
We debated about whether or not the caps should be on the jugs, but by the next morning water had condensed on the inside of the jugs, so it's making a difference even without the lid and occasionally we're getting warm enough temperatures to bake the seeds if the caps were actually on, so we'll try it this way.  As it's early and I never use seedlings for squash and cucumber, if it doesn't work it really won't change anything for us.  We will still be pulling rogue cucumber plants out of ever part of the garden, we'll still get mystery squash, and probably something that we never intended to plant.  So, what could we possibly have to lose?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pushing Oneself

Today I have started reading what may be the toughest book I've ever read.  It's Resistance:A Woman's Journey of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France.  It's basically the journal of a highly-intelligent 43-year-old woman starting in the summer of 1940 in Paris.  If the date and the title aren't enough of a giveaway to how horrible this is probably going to be, the book is dedicated to her comrades in the French Resistance movement, 7 of which were executed by firing squad in 1942, one committed suicide after 3 days of torture by the Gestapo, and one who was killed in a Nazi slave labor camp.  It's all true, and the fact that it is her journal makes it even more intense.  I just read an entry where they are evacuating Paris, but they are sure that the Soviet Union will come to their aid.  In 1940.

I have been greatly embarrassed by the bandying of the words "Nazi" and "Hitler" by Americans, especially lately.  My elected state representative continues to equate the healthcare bill with Hitler, and while I know he's not a bright person by any means, I find it appalling that he is either completely delusional about what Hitler did to Germany and the rest of Europe, or somehow in his little twisted mind, the systematic extermination of 6 million people is a healthcare plan.  It's hard to say.  I have even personally been called a Nazi by an internet troll because I didn't like a book that the troll seems to have loved.  The Nazis burned books--they didn't read them, much less review them.  Interestingly, Glenn Beck, the troll who couldn't complete an entire sentence without calling someone Hitler or a Nazi, is the closest thing we've really come to a propaganda master like Hitler in a very long time.  Blaming a faceless group of people, rewriting history, racial superiority--sound familiar to anyone?  We probably haven't had someone that twisted since the days of Huey Long.  We, as a country, just really have no concept of history--ours or anybody else's--and I think that this ignorance and the nonsense that people keep spouting has made me even more determined to explore history.  I've always loved it and have always read a great deal of history, but seeing my country's collective "understanding" of history deteriorate in such a short time into such utter nonsense is quite frightening.  We have so much we could learn from our own history, and could avoid making so many mistakes that we make again and again and again, and instead we're falling for more propaganda all the time.  I wonder if ignorance is actually the most destructive force on the planet?  It feels like it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Let Gardening Season Begin!

 Since it's snowing this morning, it seems like a good time to talk about the garden. The garlic is coming up
 
Our square foot garden beds are off and running:
or growing.  They got a bit of a head start because I bought lettuce, broccoli, and kohlrabi plants, but I am happy to announce that I have radishes, spinach, and two types of lettuce coming up all on their own.  Granted, they're too small to be identifiable in pictures just yet, but they are there.  I swear.

And in case you were wondering why we had to buy plants when we got a free greenhouse last year--we still haven't been able to figure out how to make the door work.  The thing is a cheap piece of plastic sold at Walmart, so we knew not to expect much, but when it became obvious that we were going to have to put more into it to make it work than it was even worth, we opted for
a new greenhouse entirely.  This is what it looked like when we set it up.  Thinking we would move it to a permanent location, we didn't stake it down....so we spent a fun-filled evening chasing it across the yard when high winds sent it sailing.  And breaking one of the zippers for the door flap. 

We are not people to be outdone by such mundane things as a greenhouse, so Andy was in charge of making sure it wouldn't fly off again,
and I am replacing the zipper.  
It's not going to look as nice as the original,
but since it had to be replaced anyway, I ordered "marine tape" in the biggest width possible--complete with nonrusting zipper.  I don't know exactly how zippers are rated, but if there IS a withstands-charging-rhinocerous level of zipperdom, this is the zipper I'm using.  I ordered enough tape to do the second side when and if it fails as well.  I originally tried just special ordering a new cover, but since the clerk at Bi-Mart said she would have the manager call me when he came in over a month ago, either the manager fled the country THAT VERY DAY and left by the garden center exit so he could take a supply of petunias with him, or Bi-Mart has really crappy service and doesn't care if I remain a customer or not.  Either way, ordering zipper tape and replacing it has actually been the faster route, and will be better in the long run. 

In the meantime:
we decided to try "wall of waters" for some of the tomatoes.  It says it takes 7 to 10 days for the water to heat the ground enough to add the tomato plants, so it should be ready tomorrow, or even today, but I don't think tomatoes should be planted in the snow.  I'm old fashioned that way, I guess.  The square-foot gardening theory for tomatoes is to viciously trim them into one single stalk that can be trellised, which we'll try with a later tomato, but I'm not quite certain about that part, so we will also have a standard tomato patch as well.  After the last 2 years, it's hard to be intimidated by the prospect of having too many tomatoes. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

snopes.com: Barack Obama Birth Certificate

President Obama was born in Hawaii, which is part of the United States. Enough with the "birther" garbage. The Snopes.com article even gives a statement from someone who was there when Obama was born. Let's see Donald Trump find a witness to HIS birth.

snopes.com: Barack Obama Birth Certificate

Sunday, April 3, 2011

snopes.com: Should the U.S. Flag Be Banned in Schools?

This is circulating yet again, so I thought I'd share it.  No one is trying to ban the U.S. flag, and the fact that the story is on Fox News should be enough to make people stop and think, "Hm, I bet it's fear-mongering but total crap like everything else on Fox News..."

snopes.com: Should the U.S. Flag Be Banned in Schools?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Headlines That Would Definitely Be April Fool's Jokes

*  Middle East Leaders Announce, "You know, this three thousand years of fighting thing has gotten kind of old.  Maybe we should try something else."

*  Oil Company Executive Says, "We're Devoting All Of Our Efforts To Getting Those Oil Spills Cleaned Up and The Damage Repaired"

*  Fox News Hires Fact-Checkers

*  2012 Superbowl Planned To Be An Understated, Tasteful Event

*  Martha Stewart To Be New Spokesperson for Hamburger Helper

*  Diet Industry Profits Falter As Americans Realize Eating Less And Exercising More Really Works

*  NBC Announces Upcoming Reality Television Series That Features Thoughtful, Intelligent People

*  U.S. Media Outlets Decide To Stop Talking About Charlie Sheen

*  Twitter Activity Dwindles As Americans Realize One Can't Have Thoughtful Communication In 180 Characters Or Less

*  Americans Go One Entire Week Without Referring To Anyone As "Hitler."

The New Additions

Shortly after moving, we had to put our oldest cat down, so we have adopted 2 new kittens to keep Theo company: Mostly Theo is not thr...