Saturday, January 28, 2006

Garden Plan

A garden of delightsOK, this is what happens when the winter weather is rainy & icky & you just wish you could go out & start digging but it's still two months too early. You plot, chart, revise, count, graph, revise, doodle, map, and revise. You make a garden plan. Your final garden may not look like this, but that's OK too. You're getting started.

Here's my plan for the 10x10 (approx.) plot that we let lie fallow last year -- we probably would have had time to get a garden in if we had jumped right on it in April, but we had too much other stuff going on right after the move, and by the time June rolled around it seemed too late to start. This year, my plan is to eschew rows and plant in four wide raised beds, with a path running down the middle on each side. Numbering the quadrants from the upper left and going clockwise, the plan is thus:

1) A trellis on the north side (next to the shed) will hold cukes and zukes, which I'm going to try to grow vertically on netting this year. Not only are the fruits supposed to grow straighter, but they tend not to get overlooked and grow to the size of Ah-nold's thigh before they're spotted. (Zucchini, in particular, stops producing once you allow it to mature a fruit like that... it's as if the plant says to itself, "OK, I'm done for the year!" and just quits.) In the middle of this bed will be tomatoes, which were my pride & joy in my California garden -- about the only thing I could grow reliably there -- surrounded by basil, sage, and thyme. Sounds like an Italian feast right there.

2) Another trellis will support peas (o those fragrant blossoms! reminds me of my grandma) at the north side, while an obelisk in the middle will amount to a hill o' beans, I suppose. I wonder if that's the origin of that expression? Pole beans grown on an obelisk-type support really do end up looking like a big green hill. I put all the agressive herbs in here -- parsley, cilantro, dill, and rosemary -- since they won't let the beans bully them too much. Some lettuce at the bottom will benefit from the bean-hill shade.

3) The root cellar. Carrots, onions and radish will be interspersed in short rows with some more varieties of lettuce. Peppers will be planted in cages here, probably about half sweet & half hot, but I haven't decided exactly which varieties yet. For salsas, I am inclined to Anaheims, but Mike wants it hot-hot-hot with serranos or jalopenos. One of each, perhaps. I threw in some oregano & chives next to the peppers because they are supposed to help ward off pests. When the carrots and radishes are played out here, I'll plant some late-fall garlic in their place.

4) The last quadrant will be given over entirely to strawberries. One can never have too many strawberries, especially when one has a) kids who love strawberries, b) neighbors who love strawberries, and c) plans to make jam. :-)

Friday, January 27, 2006


Well, this is certainly a dull time of year, isn't it? The holidays are past, everyone is back to school or work, and nothing much is going on out of the ordinary. Everyone seems to be fighting a cold, and the trees and lawns are all bare and brown. Help, I'm mired in a winter rut & I need to get out of it!

Since I now live in a place that requires me to pay attention to the concept of "last frost date", I actually got around to looking it up the other day (it's April 26, if you're curious) and sat down with a calendar & worked out when all the different seeds need to started -- the slowpokes like parsley need an 8-10 week headstart on the sow-after-frost vines like peas -- but even the earliest ones don't need to be started till the first week of March. So nothing is happening in the garden yet.

I need a fun, vibrant new project...

Friday, January 20, 2006

El Mexicano

After my swipe at the local Latin cuisine a few posts ago, I was informed that while the Mexican joint on the north side of town was so-so, the Mexican joint on the south side was pretty good & I oughta try it. So three of us (Ali was at a sleepover) tried it last weekend. Meh. The food wasn't awful, but it was pretty boring; taco, burrito, enchilada combo, nothing very imaginative. Jarred salsa with the chips. Bland rice-and-beans on the side. Oh how I missed California just then! There's no hope here of finding Baja-style fish tacos, or a spicy salsa fresca, or a good chili relleno... Santa Fe torte... mesquite-grilled anything...

Just to make the evening more surreal, I had taken the kids to see Glory Road earlier in the day, and Hunter thought it would be funny to recreate the cafeteria scene... the urban black kids, newly landed in El Paso and confronted with Tex-Mex food for the first time, are stymied by the choices the hair-netted vato barks at them rapid-fire: ¿Taco, burrito, nacho? One of the kids blurts out "I'd like a hot-doggo!" So, Hunter ordered a hot-doggo. The server, apparently having missed the movie, was not amused.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

B is for Boots

Made for walkingI love my boots. They're a pair of Salomon hikers for which I splurged & paid about $90 a couple years back, and I barely wore them in California, but they have turned into my three-season staple out here in MO -- seeing me through muddy spring, blustery autumn, and icy winter. (It helps that I don't have to dress up for work; school-logo polo & chinos is about all I ever wear these days.)

I love the squeak-crunch of new snow under my boots.
I love warm hand-knit wool socks inside my boots. (You can see a glimpse of my Mock Cable Eyelet socks here.)
I love lacing up my boots and being ready for anything -- rain, mud, snow.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Wavy, masc.

Baby, it's cold outsideMy four millionth scarf (approximately) was made at the request of my darling huz; it is Knitty's Wavy pattern made up in a heathered-brown worsted wool. I made a lightweight Wavy last year out of a sport-weight kelly-green microfiber, which was very lovely & feminine (I am wearing it in my profile pic to the right.) Would the brown Wavy look too pretty for a manly guy like Mike? Not a bit; the worsted wool and the neutral color make it plenty masculine. I love adaptable patterns.

I am SICK SICK SICK of small projects like scarves and socks -- I have a couple more on the needles which I am pushing to finish, but I'm doing so to clear the decks for a big project. I am so overdue for a sweater or something I can really get into.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A is for Ali

The hot blog meme for 2006 is the ABC-Along, where you post a showcase picture every couple weeks according to the alphabet. Here's my foray into that world...

Miss Ali, with earringA is for Ali...
My lovely daughter, who thirteen-some years ago was wrapped up in a stripey blanket and put into my arms, is now tall enough to look me square in the eye. Even with the storms & cloudbursts of adolescence upon us, she has an amazing sunny smile that can light up a room & melt her mom's heart.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


It's perilously easy to ignore housecleaning for the week or so before you leave on vacation -- you're not gonna be there, right? Then when one is gone for a week or so, the dust doesn't go on vacation, it continues to collect in your empty house. Then for a week or so after you get back, you're newly home & haven't got around to it yet. I'm a haphazard housekeeper at best, but even I can get embarrassed when the dust-bunnies start mutating into dust-St. Bernards. We gave the bathroom & kitchen (the most critical areas) a good once-over this morning before sitting down to watch some football & run the nine thousand loads of laundry that got backed up.

We've been living in this house as a sort of temporary waystation, a step up from a hotel room but just a place to park it until the dome is finished. Well, that's not going to be happening anytime soon, so we have resolved to get this house knocked into a little bit more homey shape. A new couch, some pictures on the walls, we'll see how the place looks.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Popcorn Book

Third grade science project stuffHunter's class did a fun little project about popcorn -- one of those interdisciplinary things that includes some geography (where was it first grown?), history (which cultures ate popcorn?), science (how does the hull pop?) and so forth. Hunter did a nice job on his project book, earning full marks & a star. But what really sets it apart was the section that he wrote at the start of the project:

Before you read, write a list of all the things you already know about popcorn.
it's yellow
it's good
it's buttery
it's delishus [sic]
it's salty
it's fun to throw at cats

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Our Holiday Vacation

As promised, a few pictures from our trip. We were travelling for the nine days between Yule & New Year's. I am notorious for forgetting to take pictures while vacationing, so I don't have any from Carson City -- I think I forgot to take the camera out of its bag for the whole interval that we were there. Sorry :-{

PiggybackHere is Ali's friend T. clowning around with Hunter. Good gods, he's going to break her back. We had lunch at El Torito with T.'s family -- decent Mexican food is something that's not easy to find in the Midwest, so I was quick to suggest it -- and enjoyed a nice long gab with T.'s mom & her guy.

Besides good Mexican food, the other two things you just can't get in MO are good sushi & In-n-Out burgers. Yup, we had a wonderful Japanese lunch with Boo on New Year's Eve. Yup, we made a run for double-doubles animal style. Trifecta!

Skyscraper & the Three AmigosHad dinner & another nice long gab with our old neighbors, who amused us with stories about the kitchy decor the new owners have used to ruin our old house. They apparently have done the house in a Tommy-Bahama-cabana-club style, all canvas & beach colors. They replaced our (admittedly boring) brass chandelier in the dining room with a fixture that looks like a giant pineapple. Uff da.

The neighbor's eldest boy is almost exactly the same age as Ali, but as the picture demonstrates, they've reached that stage where the girls start to shoot up in height and the boys lag behind. Makes for a funny photo :-) No, I haven't the slightest idea why Hunter has only one shoe on.

All you need is loveOpening presents with the grandparents was a low-key affair. Hunter is modeling his snazzy (only slightly too large) pullover from Boo.

Auld lang syneOne of Boo's clever gifts was a party pack with silly hats & glittery masks & party horns & all that stuff. We broke into it on New Year's Eve & ran around the house making noise & being silly, but didn't stay up very late at all since we has an extremely early flight to catch on the first. Behold the wild partying.

We flew home on January 1st, which oddly had no bowl games, due to it being on a Sunday. I had completely forgotten, though, that we would be in the air during the bulk of the Kansas City Chiefs game -- oh, no! Playoff hopes were shattered when we landed & learned that despite KC trouncing Cincinatti, they missed out on the last wildcard slot when Pittsburg didn't oblige us with a loss. Nutty, your Lions let me down bigtime. :-P

Monday, January 02, 2006

We're back!

No, I haven't forgotten the blog; we were on vacation in Nevada & California, visiting family & friends. Look for pix later. I hate posting that I'll be gone, it just seems like an invitation to rob our house or something; so I am apologizing after the fact for disappearing for a couple of weeks.

It's good to be back.