It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hate To Leave You Hanging

I'm sorry this picture is so fuzzy but in a way it rather fits. This is high up in one of our many many cottonwood trees on the Farm (high up and a small little camera is why it is fuzzy). The "cotton" hangs in great clumps awaiting a breeze to launch itself to swirl and swirl, up and down and up again and in and out and out and in our eyes and mouth and up our noses.

Cottonwoods, a member of the poplar family, love wet soils and is often found in riparian areas and boggy spots. So it is quite plentiful here.

It has little value, unless of course we were to install a paper mill. As firewood goes it would be better to just burn paper. Cottonwood maybe in the hardwoods but it is anything but hard. It takes forever to dry out, rather like that bacteria ridden sponge on your sink back.

Even if you get it to dry out so it will take a match you might as well sit back to enjoy the look of the flame because it is doubtful that you'll feel any heat from it. The heat it renders comes from wrasling with it because it does not split well at all because of the irregular grain, which also along with it sponginess also renders it rather useless for lumber save for pallets and such.

Oh, well suffice it to say they are here because they are here. And we have noticed them more this year than any other simply because we are enjoying the most unusual June for the Pacific Northwest ever. And trust me this is no complaint whatsoever!

What a friend of mine calls the "May-June Gloom" seems to have taken a break from us and gone somewhere else. So instead of a constant shower during the cottonwood bloom we have had nearly clear blue skies and only one or two showers that have only lasted an hour or two.

Consequently the outdoors looks as if it has snowed and it has even gotten into the house, the screen porch is socked in with fuzz nearly making the screen opaque. In the following pictures then don't be surprised if it looks as if it has snowed.

Another thing we found hanging 'round the farm is this lovely nest made by our little bushtits. We here the little bushtit family but they are one of many families of birds that we are only fortunate to hear but not yet see, or only see out of the corner of our eye.
But this nest is out in the open for all to see, well all of the observant at least. We had a good time surveying this nest and checking to see which family it did indeed belong to.
It is always exciting to see bird nests at the farm, it reassures a person that the birds are happily reproducing and the musical mornings will continue.

Someone else who was hanging around the farm is no longer hanging round a farm patrolled by faithful Rat Terriers. I know Dear Reader, how you love my upside down vermin and pests, so I couldn't leave for the day without giving you your weekly dose of yuk. But really you must see this fellows nose.

No wonder he can find our eggs, with a schnoz like that I'm surprised he didn't smell the Rat Terriers coming. The matted wet fur shows that whoever caught this farm marauder delighted in giving him a good chewing up. Good job gang.
Have a great day Dear Reader the girls and I are headed into town, Bet managed to get the first appointment with her doctor this morning so with coffee cup in hand I am off.
And Mildred, we will I am sure be looking for a cloche for Anna and her bird nest while we are in town today. Speaking of birds you'll never guess what the girls have now! Oh wait that is yet another story and I really must leave, so I guess I'll have to leave you hanging after all - Bye!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spring Has Nearly Ended

The end of spring is upon us and today Summer Camp at Vicktory Farm and Gardens begins with Flag Day.

But Today's_Flower selection is the Blue Flag's cousin, Iris Germanica, Bearded Iris.

Iris Germanica is one of my all time favorite flowers. And particularly the incredibly fragrant common purple ones.

I cannot imagine living in a place where irises don't grow. Like the seasonal treat of asparagus, the year would not be complete without iris. Every spring I crave its fascinating appearance and it's memory propelling fragrance and when it's season comes to a close and the last one is just a funny mooky browned mass on the stem, my heart sinks a bit, lifted only because I know he and I will meet back here again next year.

Driveway view of the North Garden and the two beds of iris.
From this view of the North Garden I am reminded that I've been here quite a while and my oldest daughter has been married quite a while. For all these lovely mustard colored (or diaper colored if you want to know my true feelings) are from the house she lived in when she was first married, I believe she inherited them from Rebecca who in turn got them from Grandma Grace.
The have certainly multiplied and much quicker than my preferred old purple ones or purchased white ones, which are not by the way who they were purported to be. And while the color of this "gold" one is not exactly one of my favorites it most certainly has a perfume that I have come to look forward to, vanilla honey with a hint of citrus.

A place for old friends to set a spell within sniffing range.

Fortunately a couple of friends have stopped by to pull my head out of the weeds and soil and caused me to rest a moment as we talked of our favorite irises and other fragrant delights in the garden. Prior to them stopping by I was just enjoying the fragrance as I unhooked and went through the pasture gate to the pumpkin patch or while I was here weeding the North Garden.


One friend came by when I was at the other end of my gardens and by the time I got down to where she was she was stepping into her vehicle with her arms loaded with my gold irises, waving to me and telling me she just came for my flowers that day. I am glad she knows she can come and get whatever she needs that I have, because it is not really mine anyway but His.

Gold standards and falls, with yellow beards and bronze veins,
it has a strong fragrance that perfumes the air with vanilla honey and citrus.
When a friend comes back a few days after sitting in your iris garden while talking over childhood memories, heartbreaks, endearing times and prayers for the day and the future, and takes an arm load of your least favorite colored iris, it makes you stop and take a second look.
Perhaps I do have a good thing here. Perhaps I should change my perspective on the good gifts God sees fit to give me even though I have a disgruntled attitude. Perhaps it is time to have a new attitude.

"Stephie and Kai's Gold" is what I've dubbed this one.
They came to me through her, appropriate then, it should be named for her, and because, she can always see the upside and the "gold" lining to any cloud life hands her. I've added her son, Kai, to the name because of the fragrance of honey, he is becoming a beekeeper like his grandfather Rick, Pop.
I've been lucky that all my additions to my iris garden have been fragrant. Not perhaps as strong as the common purple one that causes me to see my mother's kitchen with the light pressing into through the bamboo shades on the outside and the closed venetian blinds inside, still managing to give a summer glow to the wall and the counter where the pitcher of Kool-Aid, darkly purple, sits dripping with condensation and smelling like the iris I love, no, not as strong as that, but strong enough. And like Stephie and Kai's Gold, each new addition has brought it's own twist to the sweet flavor of late spring, and the fanfare of summer's commencement.
White with yellow beard and shoulders gives off a lovely sweet fragrance,
like cookies out of the oven.
My purchased irises have not grown out to be what they were labeled to be. This white one is supposed to be "Immortality" but a proper "Immortality" does not have yellow shoulders and isn't purported to be fragrant. Hmmm, perhaps the bin at the local garden store is not a reliable place to pick up named varieties.
I've looked and looked for what this white one is supposed to be along with the blue one below and the pink one I failed to get a picture of this year (it must have been deleted). I even spent time looking for Stephie's gold one. Just when I think I have one pegged, on closer evaluation and comparison of the official description and the flower I have, I am left without a name. So I'll just name them myself.
This white one..... "Farmhouse Bride". In honor of my second oldest Michelle, a bearded iris lover like myself, who was the first girl to be married right here at the farm. She looked as lovely as this blossom. She and the fragrances of her wedding that swirled around all of us for weeks is brought to mind by the sweet fragrance of this flower.

Supposedly "Best Bet" but not, so now it is "Better Bet".
This blue one was supposed to be a "Best Bet". I picked it up for it's name, Bet, for that is what we call Elisabet, my third daughter. I know that the privilege of naming a variety usually rest with the person who hybridizes or discovers them. But since I cannot find what their rightful name is I figure I need to name these poor little orphans that have come to live here with me at Vicktory Farm and Gardens.
Oh, I know most flowers and bushes don't need fancy proper names, their beauty in the yard is just as grand and compelling without a name as it is with a proper name. But lately I have been picking up this or that flower and paying attention to its proper name and Bet and I have been having fun discussing them as if they were a real person. So my plants need names now.
And how much fun to rename my irises after my girls and their families, even if it is terribly improper! So the last one, the one I don't have a picture of, I've pegged for my youngest, how appropriate that I don't have a picture of it! Next year I'll show her to you. Her name on the bin when I took her home was "Pink Parasol", I cannot for the life of me find a Pink Parasol iris, lots of other flowers have a Pink Parasol variety but not the bearded iris as far as I can tell.
This girl begins as a purple bud, changes to a muddy mauve when it first unfolds and then becomes a delightful rich dusty corallish pink, with a nearly day-glow orange beard. Mmmm perhaps a nice long name like "What Will You Wear Today Anna".
Have a great day and take a spin around the world and see some other flowers for the day by clicking on Today's Flowers up at the top of this, another Lengthy Lanny Post!
And Dear Reader, if you're an American, have a great flag day!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Quick Note, A Good Gathering

I've got a few things to do to catch up from some neglected work yesterday, my sweet daughter is desiring to go to town to pick up some things and I thought I might head over to Funky_Junk_Sisters' show while we were there.

So no more two-thousand-plus word essays on food today, just a snap shot of the table for one of the best gatherings I have experienced. Rick and Pat came out early and Pat fried chicken on Dirt's three burner propane cook top outside while the rest of us sat on our hineys talkin'. Nothing fancy, but like Kathleen, my cup runneth over indeed with the simple goodness of a life in Him.

Dirt began us off with considering what God would prefer when we have relationships that go a wry. We spoke of Him and how he ought to be our first and last and that we ought to be content even if we are striped of everything, as long as we have Him (the Holy Trinity). It was a very good night.

Since today I have not kidnapped you, sat you down and made you read an hour's worth of my shenanigans, I would ask you instead to go to my side bar and "take the time" to watch Rachel's video.

And a quick aside Dear Reader, I may take on an occasional authoritative and bossy voice (as a youngest still at heart I like to exercise it until I am caught) but I really must admit that I am certainly not an expert on anything and am proven rip roaring wrong often. Most of what I say is truly opinion and has nothing to do with an expert giving you sound facts.

There, now you have it, my legal disclaimer from being held responsible!

Have a great and beautiful day Dear Reader, and may you know that God is there with you, above you, below you, on your left side and on your right, in you and all around you. And He is Good!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clam Chowder No Flour!

I'm laughing hysterically about the idea of a recipe for my clam chowder as requested by Kanani! I rarely use recipes. But here goes:

Oh wait, first some necessary background. My mom, wife of the man who taught me everything I ever needed to know about digging a clam and a zillion other things, made the best clam chowder. It tasted how it ought to taste, clammy (not the cold, damp, stiff kind, the mollusk kind), potatoey, and creamy (not creamy like slimy as in texture wise, creamy as in the thick dairy product, a taste not a texture) with a hint of bacon and other depth creating flavors.

Without a hint of flour, ever. The only flour anywhere near a proper bowl of clam chowder would be the saltines you had with it. Now granted, it won't glop in your bowl like porridge until the third day when all the potato has completely broken down but it will be a thing of beauty with all the intended flavors intact and not attacked by flour.

Ever wonder why you are left unsatisfied after eating most restaurant clam chowders or can of same said notion? Flour.

Great in cakes and bread and a decent gravy that begins its life with a roux, but flour has zero business any where near a soup that has a tater as the starch. It insults the wonderful little tuber and when the tater begins to pout the clam sucks back into its shell (metaphorical at this point hopefully) and waits for everyone to be happy, which will never happen if you invite flour to the party.

Have I made my point? Keep the lid on the flour canister.

So now, let's begin:

In a two eared kettle (that's a stubby stock pot) brown some bacon. (I know I made my soup in the crock pot the other day but it was a first time thing and is now a last time thing. No more crock pot chowder. Crock pot just about everything else but not clam chowder.)

Back to the bacon. Use just a little if you fear bacon, a lot if you love it and don't care what the "experts" say. But be careful, you are making clam chowder not ham chowder; you don't need to use all of Petunia to get the fragrance you need.

If you only use a little then you need to add a glop of butter - not, and I do mean not, margarine, it is a bizarre blend of water and plastic purported to be a food. It will certainly rob your chowder of goodness and spirit. If you don't have butter then throw those other pieces of bacon in. If you can't have dairy, then what are you doing making this chowder? Well maybe maybe rice milk would work. I've actually done halibut in hazelnut "milk" and it was pretty stinkin' good so maybe we can branch out sometime and try it. Oh yeah, back to today's recipe.

Before the bacon finishes browning toss in a chopped onion of your choice, if you use a Walla Walla you can call it PacificNorthWest chowder, yellow if that is what you have on hand or red if you need color in your food.

Also saute two or more ribs of celery, diced up. Again, it all depends on what you like and how many you are serving. Don't skip it though, or like skipping the bacon, your chowder will have no depth and taste fairly similar to the paste you get at most restaurants in spite of leaving the lid on the flour canister. And don't do too many or you will end up with something that taste more like, umm, spring leek soup, green, not brown and sandy like the beach.

Then at the last second of browning (make sure your onion and celery are translucent this is not a crunchy chunky vegetable soup) put in your freshly dug by hand, chopped fine Pacific Razor Clams (or your bag of frozen ones that you dug a while back or if you're desperate or a Midwestener a couple of cans or more of clams, which are mostly nectar and really, you can hardly call it nectar, more like the water collected during processing.)

A super interesting twist that Dirt and I enjoyed during the years we had a good friend that lived on the beach just of the ferry dock at Vashon Island, was to take left over baby steamers, ones that were steamed over water with dill weed and garlic, and chop those into a chowder, it was good, very good indeed.

You could also have added some sweet baby peppers you chopped up to the saute for a little color, but I wouldn't get carried away.

Oh yeah, fish out your bacon and chop it up if you didn't do it before you browned it.

Now peel a russet for each person plus two for the pot, (or if you're one of those bright multi-tasking kitchen people you could have done this while things were browning and sauteing but if you like to spend the night in the kitchen doing one thing at a time just remember to pull the pot off of the burner for now).

The extra potatoes? Well for one you're going to really like this and eat way more than you should considering the amount of time you don't spend in the gym or bucking hay, the clams like to eat potatoes even when they are chopped and trolls are known to sneak in and pull out taters from your pot, so really put in that extra potato or heck toss two or three extra in, you'll be sorry if you don't.

A note on Spuds: It is very important that you use russets, true russets. You must use a potato that is made of dry solids and straight starch chains, that is just the way you need to do it, no fudging with what you have on hand, turn off all the burners and go to the store and get russet potatoes. Otherwise you will fall prey to having to use flour to thicken your soup (most restaurants and canned pseudo chowders have to do this because of the hold time, waxy (branched starch moleculed) taters hold themselves together when they are cooked, they refuse to fall apart, great for when we get to certain tater salads or in vegetable beef soup where a cloudy broth is a turn off.

Not all potatoes are created equal!

An interesting thing if, and I do mean if, you are into that whole glycemic index, "can eat this, can't eat that" thing. The long chain of starch, takes longer to digest that the branched chain where the enzymes can work on several ends at once. So baked taters stick to your ribs (especially when coupled with protein and fat), boiled tates are like Chinese food, leaving you hungry an hour later.

You could get away with using a creamy mid-dry potato if you could find one but unless you grow them and order your seed spuds from a knowledgeable seed potato dealer I doubt you will have luck finding them.

But if you do (grow them, that is), don't figure that you can only use a russet, there are some red, fingerling and/or smooth skinned varieties that are straight chained, but they most likely won't be in the local store and sure as heck not at the country wide super duper chain buy in gynormous lots markets. There is a reason people associate red skin with waxy potatoes, it is what is in the store. Oops, off the potato sack and back to the chowder.

So now you can throw your diced russets into the pot, oh wait I told you to peel them, yeah great, now dice them. It doesn't matter if you have some little pieces, they will disappear into the base and thicken the soup like the outer portion of the nice one inchish cubes will. In fact, I used to make sure that I had some small pieces like the edge end cuts. But no matter, be precise if you want to spend the night in the kitchen or just dice 'em up quick and easy like, in half or thirds length-wise one way, lay flat and in half or thirds lengthwise again, then crosswise through the one half then the other half and you've got it.

If you are using the right potato, by the time the chowder is done they will look a lot more like the smooth rounded stones at the sea shore than the sharp edged cubes they are right now any way, precision in this case, even for presentation purposes, is unnecessary. So now get that pile of dice potatoes in the pot.

Stop! Did you add water to the pot before you put the spuds in? Did I tell you to? Did you want to secretly have to add flour behind my back?

Do not add the water before the potatoes, not, not, not. Unless you are prepared to peel and dice more taters, oops, then you'll have to add more clams and a little more bacon and maybe a half an onion which will require a separate fry pan to do it up in...

So now that you have the taters in the pot, jiggle it all the way to the sink. Don't bounce it, flip it like a pancake on Sunday morning or any thing but jiggle, like you do when you put beans in a jar and jiggle the jar to get the last twenty in and close the lid.
You're taking up the space with taters, onions, and clams, not the water.

Put in just enough water to cover, barely cover, the potatoes. Not one drop more.

Put the pot back on the stove and turn it on to medium. Don't cook it on too low of a heat, (that was the trouble of the crock pot).

Now what are you going to do?

That's right, you are going to clean up your mess, tidy up your spice cupboard, anything it takes to stay right in the kitchen while your chowder comes to a boil, you reduce the heat and stir occasionally to keep it from burning until the spud chunks smash easily with the back of a spoon.

Oh, I forgot and the mention of the spice cupboard reminded me, salt and other stuff you can add. Salt is not an option. You need to add just enough salt to make the water taste like a combo between sea and fresh water.

What are some options at this point? :

Parsley, my momma began to add parsley to her chowder in later years and it was a good addition so go ahead, dump a handful of dried parse in.

Dill, a natural with seafood but like so many things in this chowder don't get carried away or it will taste like something else, your favorite clam dip for instance.

Garlic, use good fresh garlic, not green sprouting garlic. And don't feel like you needed to put it into the saute, garlic often gets too overdone when most folks, even good folks on a bad day, saute it. So put squashed garlic in now.

Carrots. My momma used carrots maybe like three times in her life in her clam chowder, I was never happy with the inclusion. But Dirt loves them in his chowder and it is a concession that I make as a lovely cheerful submissive bride. Cube it; do not make "carrot coins." One, one thin one, no matter the size of the batch. Worse than celery, or its substitute lovage, for overtaking other flavors is a cooked carrot. But far more unnecessary. Here or in life in general. I dislike cooked carrots, dislike intensely. Unless of course they are swimming, backstroking, through a buttery sugar substance or wrapped in cheese blankets, and we will not be putting either in our clam chowder now will we?!

Pepper can be added once it is in the bowl, some folks don't groove on the black flecks floating in their chowder, reminds them of the kelp and bits once associated with the main attraction that they had to clean or some such flimsy complaint.

So I think I've covered everything. I'm not standing in the kitchen at the stove at the moment or actually making the clam chowder right now so it is possible that I forgot something but I don't think so.

Put that can of tomatoes down right now!

I am so sorry Dear Reader but you mayn't put that in here. If you want a tomato base seafood dish we'll whip up a Cioppino some other day but get that tomato right back where it came from today. Instead, now that your spud chunks are as soft as Chelle's heart, (second oldest daughter who cried at the movie Marley and Me before it even started) grab the thick whole cream. I said "thick whole cream" and I meant just that.

Half 'n half is half of what it ought to be, not to mentioned a homogenized product and unless you want me to get back on my spud sack, milk carton or soap box, you will take my word for it that homogenized products are as bad as hydrogenated oils or processed cheese. (Why is it that beautiful cheeses come from all over the world with faraway place names in the name of the delightful sometimes quirky cheese, but the worst cheese and in fact not really a cheese at all is the one that carries the name American? No wonder the world has issues with us. Tell 'em "It not us it is just the cheese!") Okay back to the clam.

Slowly pour in the cream. Get it just like you like it, you're the cook, be brave do it like you want it. But this is a cream chowder so make sure it looks like a cream chowder. But depending on how many and the source of your clams don't freak if your chowder has a drizzly day at a Washington beach color to it. It just means you used real clams not the bleached anemic things from a can, sorry Midwesterner you can laugh at my pathetic corn later on this summer (or now if you want) but for now, right now in the chowder, my clams rule.

Bowl it up. Put it in a wild colored bowl, (it offsets the off white so nicely) a really deep bowl. Set the bowl on a plate and put a fresh biscuit next to it, okay you can use a chunk of your fresh sour-dough if that is what you want. Fine, saltines it is.

A little chunk of butter in the center of your bowl with a sprig of fresh parsley looks really nice and classy. What more butter, more fat? Just for garnish? Yeah why not, you can eat veggy green stuff for the rest of the week.

A friend of ours always put cream sherry in his chowder, so when he would come for Fish Fridays we would play along. But I don't think this bowl needs it. It doesn't add any color and though it is a slight flavor enhancer, that was the minor ingredients job here today and they take pride of the job they have done. Besides, you want to enjoy a lovely glass of wine with this instead (don't want anyone thinkin' you're a lush now do you?).

And I would certainly go with the idea of a sweet pairing, but I would have it in a Moscato.

Followed an hour or so later by a lovely port, some dark chocolate and dates.


Well Timed Chowder

Yesterday before I went across the highway for a study of God's attributes, and the girls stayed behind to put up electric fence to keep Anna'a horse out of my pumpkin patch, I put together clam chowder in the crock pot. I used the crock pot because after the girls joined the last half of the study we headed into town via the feed store. We joined the older girls and their families for a swim and everyone mentioned that it was an odd day to make clam chowder. Well people have been known to eat clam chowder in the summer, but yes some can say it was odd.

But when we headed home (twenty miles south) we noticed thunder clouds building in the sky over where the Farm is located. Sure enough we were bombbarded by gynormous rain drops just before reaching home.

So I guess my chowder wasn't so ill timed after all eh?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rocket Ride: Part One

Jane was about her normal business for the day when a funny old man came up to her and asked her for some spare change. Feeling lighthearted this day, Jane reached into her pocket and pulled out a handful of change: quarters, nickels, dimes, just a couple of pennies and two wadded up dollar bills. She looked at the pile in her hand and thought immediately that her mother would be shaking her head in disapproval at her unladylike treatment of her money and her pockets. One had to wonder what the heck her mother thought a pocket ought to be used for as you were not allowed to put your hands in your pockets lest you spoil them or cram things in them that really belonged in your wallet or purse.
Looking back to the scruffy little old man she broke her thoughts of the training her mother tried to instill in her and that she just couldn’t get and attended the man’s request.

“Here you go,” she said kindly to him. “I’m headed home, instead of having lunch out like I thought I wanted to, but I really need to open my windows soon or my house will be too hot when I finally do get there. But I suppose you didn’t need to know all that about me now did you?”

She held on to the bills with her finger tips made a funnel with her hand and poured the change into his hand. The scruffy little old man closed his hand and shoved it into the pocket of his shabby sport coat or suit jacket, she didn’t know which it was, she was never really clear on how you told one from the other except that one came with pants to match.

“Thank you,” he began to say but was interrupted by a quick giggle from Jane.

“No wait, these are for you too, I just wanted to straighten them out before I gave them to you.” She finished uncrumpling the bills and found that one of the bills was actually two mashed together, a one and a ten.

“So that’s where that ten was after all.” She said mostly to herself as she handed them to the man. “Here take it I would have just blown it today anyway.”

As she spoke she felt even lighter. She mused that it was the first time she ever really attended to what Scripture said about giving to those who ask from you and to take care of the poor you meet on the street, her paraphrasing of course. Before today her generosity was always much more calculated and through what some would consider the proper channels, charity organizations that are trained and understand the poor’s needs better and distribution issues that the common folk did not. But this certainly felt better than those other times, well maybe not better but for sure it was a very different feeling.

“Thank you. And I have something for you.” The scruffy man said to her.

“Oh you don’t need to give me anything.” She began to say but bit off her words and just looked kindly at the man as he fumbled through his various pockets. She thought of his dignity, something that already must have been compromised by his appearance and his asking for spare change, she thought it would behoove her to not completely steal it away by refusing to take what small token he may have to give her to show his gratitude.

“Here it is.” He said proudly as he handed her the small card he had fished out of the breast pocket of his outer most jacket, for he had two on and those on top of a cardigan. He must be very hot under all that; Jane wonders if turtles get hot in their shell.

“Thank you very much.” Jane received the card from his hand and began looking at it and turning it over and back again to get acquainted with it. It was just bigger than a business card with queer little drawings on it and printing that gave you the immediate impression that it was a ticket to something.

Before she had time to decipher what it said or where or to what it was a ticket for, he spoke up. “It is for the amusement park on the river side of town. But it is for a specific ride, you’ll find it in the far west corner; don’t bother asking anyone where it is, all the other ride operators will want you to take their ride instead. They will gladly take any ticket for their ride but this one only takes these particular tickets,” He said tapping the card with his finger.

“Wow, thanks, it has been a while since I went on rides at an amusement park.”

“You have a nice day, young lady. I hope we see each other again.”

“Me too,” she claimed brightly, wondering at her own enthusiasm.

As they waved back to one another walking off in opposite directions, the breeze picked up and the tender spring leaves on the trees waved with them, cherry petals fell all around softening the early spring heat. Jane felt as if she could not feel any lighter than she did at that very moment. A few blocks and a turn brought her home and her front door greeted her as never before, she nearly skipped into the living room to open the windows. As she threw up the window the breeze caught her eyelet curtains and pulled them out the window to flutter amid the azaleas and then the breeze blew them back in again with a roomful of sweet azalea fragrance drenched in spring light. Jane stood a moment swelling with gratitude for the beauty she could hardly take all in.

The old refrigerator kicked up with its familiar groan and broke her reverie. She smiled to herself as she crossed from the old wool rug to the linoleum floor and pulled open her old faithful refrigerator to grab out some lunch fixings.

She pondered what it would be like taking a frivolous trip over to the amusement park in the middle of the day all alone. There would be stares for sure and questions if she ran into someone she knew, which was more than likely. In spite of her slight misgivings of going against her usual way of doing things she felt compelled to go and to go this very afternoon. The old man didn’t say how long the ticket was good for so she decided then. She would go right now; there was no need to delay.

Let me know what you think Dear Reader, but now I am out the door and down the driveway. The girls will be here if you need anything, cup of sugar, a spoon of yeast, some fertilizer for your flowers... I'll be back a little later.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Upsy Downsy Thank You

Tipper, the gracious hostess at Blind Pig & The Acorn, sent me a present for just being me.
Nah, really I think she holds monthly drawings using the names of the people who comment during that month, wow, I find all that extremely admirable. Anywho, I have had the present, an Upsy Downsy tomato pot, and recently got it potted up with tomato plants from my neighbor and tomato plant lady, Laurie Miller.
I told Laurie what I was after and she suggested the variety, Celebrity. She said Celebrity didn't mind being in a rather smallish pot and was a determinate type tomato. So I loaded up with four and some other selections.
I had just come from Lacamas Community's Saturday Market, where along with chatting for a while to Kathy and Jim, I picked up four or so Roma tomatoes, so at Laurie's I went for some fancied up version of a paste tom, a cherry and Bet picked up an impossible to grow gynormous beefsteak tom, (a slight paraphrasing of Laurie's words perhaps).
Ahh Bet, always picking up the hard to train and live with companions, but she has just the personality for it. If left up to the rest of us her dog would have been living permanently in a kennel, her horse shipped to the glue factory, and this tomato would still be at Laurie's waiting for some other person wanting to take on a trial of patience and tender yet stern constant care.
By the way, her dog, Martin, is now a dear and we love to spend time with him, well all of us except Terry, and we all have high hopes for her stubborn willful horse, Ivan, whom everyone can see is really a dear underneath it all but just can't seem to help himself and is always being naughty. But if anyone can get through to him and sweet talk him into doing things right it will be Bet for sure who does it.

Oops, back to the tomatoes. The pot Tipper sent me is the lovely beige one. When I took it out of the package I recognized the bottom as looking a lot like the bottom of my fuchsia pots. And as I love to do different things and only love it better when I can dive in a pool of different I decided to do more than just one Upsy Downsy. That is why I bought four Celebrity tomatoes at Laurie's instead of just one.
I have lots of spare fuchsia pots this year as I am on a fuchsia growing strike right now so I clipped out the center of three of my spare pots.
I noticed that I had four Celebs and an unmarked tomato that looked a lot like the other four, but I was sure that I bought four not five. Not sure why I wanted to do four upside down tomatoes and the experimenter tester in me was squirming around I decided to do a Celeb in a big upright pot, that way it could give Bet's tomato some company on the Laundry House porch.
Her tomato can't experience any rain in August and we always have one week of rain usually right after the third of August, so Bet and I decided to put her Porterhouse in a pot under the protection of the Laundry House porch.
Porter and the control Celebrity (are any celebrities controlled?) have been joined by Jolly Elf, a promising cherry, actually grape, tomato with a brix level of up to 10%, that's a sugar count Dirt will explain in his wine making post during raspberry season. I let him baffle you with mumbo jumbo about brix and all that. But an average tomato has a level of 6% and average watermelon 12% and an average apple 10%, so I'd say that a 10 brix tomato must be pretty sweet and mouth popping!
I still had an extra clipped out fuchsia pot and the whole scene would look much more balanced if there were just one green pot on either side of the beige pot but I tossed the unmarked tomato in the spare pot any way. It seems kind of silly because it could be a Celebrity and therefore could have been a control planted in the ground. But it may not be a Celeb, Laurie was tossing Bet and I some freebies to take home with us, and therefore would be no more of a ground planted control, 'ground control to Major Tom', sorry, just a little music interlude to go with all my other interruptions, than one of the paste toms that will go out to the garden.
And because I'm not sure if it is different or what it is if it is then it isn't really like trying a different variety in the Upsy Downsy (UD) pot to see if a different variety is better suited. And it's not like I couldn't have just nonchalantly tossed the clipped pot in the heap of unused pots, trust me it wouldn't have made much of an impact either way, being there or not being there. But there you have it. And I didn't even mark which was which in the UD pots like I did in the regular pots, oh brother welcome to my brain. Is it any wonder I'm fifty and only have four half raised, uneducated daughters to show for all my random unorganized efforts?
But you gotta check this one out, I'm not the only one that isn't sure which way to grow!

Celebrity tomatoes may not care if they are in a smallish pot but they certainly have a strong sense of geotropism.
Most roots usually are under the positive influence of gravity and grow downward, and stems are usually under the negative influence of gravity and grow upward, all that to say, geotropism.
Makes me wonder if I should not have put the root ball at the top of the pot instead of letting it rest on the bottom as I filled the remainder of the pot with dirt. The roots may not take complete advantage of what little room they do have if they are as strongly influenced as their counterpart the main stem.
I left the top of the pot empty, I even changed my mind from putting some little prettys in the top. The directions and seeds provided indicated that the company that sells these pots thinks that you can plant a beef steak type out the bottom and some cherry types or peppers on the top, three of them! All in about three quarts of soil. That is just about one step away from hydroponics.
If I had my dream of automatic water-ers for all my pots, hanging and otherwise, I would be down, 'upside down', with trying it, although along with constant water I'm sure it would need near constant feeding also.
But because I didn't put anything in the top of the pot I may go out and see if I can lift the root ball farther up into the pot. But then again when I get outside finally today I may find I have a few more pressing items to take care of. Maybe I'll just do one and see if it make a difference.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Request Finally Attended

I certainly didn't mean to have my slug rain up for so long and it certainly is not a good portrayal of our recent weather. But same said weather has made me rather ambitious but not nearly as ambitious as the weeds it may have seemed.

But as I came home late enough from town to not have a reasonable amount of time to put my work clothes back on and make it worth the change I thought I would take care of the first of two requests.

A Dear Reader actually rang me up on the telephone and politely but earnestly requested that I put up a new post so that she would no longer have to see the dangling slug, it was giving her nightmares. I did say that I would attend to it, but quite frankly, I have been terribly tardy in that regard.

So I apologize for any nightmares I have caused you Dear Reader, hopefully this post will remove any dreaded memory of the reality of living in the land of slugs. But I must say, at least they are not really lethal, I do believe I will keep my soggy living arrangement if all I must suffer is slugs and voracious deer.

May I present my Syringa vulgaris 'Krasavitsa Moskvy' for your viewing pleasure today? This is the bloom from one of two Beauty of Moscow Lilacs that I picked up as barely bigger than twigs three years ago from Lawyer's Nursery Stock Sale.
The fragrance is not as strong as my common lilacs but it is strong enough, and the blooms are exquisite.
As I just dozed off and typed about forty "k's" at the end of that last sentence, therefore I will wrap up here with a promise to get to a thank you for the Upsy Downsy tomato planter from Tipper at Blind Pig & The Acorn and a couple of pictures just to show you how it is going so far.
And Dear Reader I have another promise hanging here, I have promised to retell a rocket-ship tale about me and God and his infinitude, so hang in there, I will do my best to be back tomorrow.
Good night, sweet dreams, if you sing a hymn tonight as you fall asleep, you most likely will wake singing it in the morning.