Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Old dog tricks

Have you ever owned an older, formerly-awesome vehicle? You know the kind. Back in the day, it was a muscle car, a car that made people look, one that responded with joy to even the lightest pressure on the accelerator, one that did zero to whatever effortlessly?

But today, wellllllllllllllllllllllll…let’s just say…it’s maybe…not quite the vehicle it once was. A bit faded, rusty, a part missing here or there, the engine’s purr more like an asthmatic wheeze, the response to the accelerator first a pause as if to say, You’re joking, right?, followed by a full-body shudder and the asthmatic wheeze turning into a desperate whine and maybe a humongous gagging cough and then it sort of lurches into motion in a pathetic, slow-motion version of its former glory?

I’ve often wondered how that felt, you know, for the car.

Today, I found out.

SEE, today, we had massive delays at BART. First there was an incident where somebody tried to escape the police by running up the tracks.

Then someone (allegedly) tried to commit suicide by throwing themselves under a train. Needless to say, it took a while to get him out from under the train, off to the hospital, and the station opened again.

The trains were packed. So packed that the trains could barely move, nor could the people already in them. Couldn’t get on, couldn’t get off.

Which meant each station took forever to get through.

Which meant that, far from cooling my heels for fifteen minutes waiting for my shuttle to the next train, I saw that bad boy pulling through the tunnel while I was still several people back in the line.

I got through the turnstiles, and thought there might be a chance I could make that bus (now alllllll the way down at the end of the depot), if…

Run! I commanded, stomping down on the accelerator in my mind.

It was at this point that I discovered how that old car feels.

You’re…joking…right? my body replied. Then it shuddered. It coughed. It let out the most bizarre assortment of pops and gasps and cracks. And for the first few strides, it felt like running in a nightmare – where you’re running through molasses, and just can’t seem to get any speed going.

The first passengers were getting on.

I thought about sitting there, at the BART station bus depot, for over an hour…waiting for this same bus to return to take me to the next ACE train. I thought about not getting home until 7:30.

I ran a little faster.

The last of the passengers were getting on. My body was threatening large repair bills. I’m gonna bust a gasket, I just know I am…

I thought about having to be around people an extra hour. People who would undoubtedly want to ask me things, ignoring the iPod earbuds that are clear commuter-speak for “don’t even THINK about talking to me.” “Does this bus go to Livermore?” “How much is the bus fare?” “Can I catch a train to Sacramento here?” “Can you spare a dollar?” “What are you making? What are you typing? Are you a programmer? Is that COBOL? Or what’s the other thing, ASCII? I have a cousin who’s a programmer and he’s totally rich – are you totally rich? Can I have a dollar?”

I stepped it up. go go go go go

The very last passenger turned and waved at me to come on!

I stomped the accelerator one more time. A hideous whine erupted from my engine as I crossed the last few feet and jumped into the bus. Made it!

The driver, normally a really nice and friendly sort of guy, grumbled as he shut the door. Gotta GO we’re LATE…

Then I sat there on the bus as my body let me know precisely what it thought about me and my accelerator-stomping ways. HECK! HECK TO PAY, MADAM, THAT’S WHAT THERE WILL BE…

We jolted and rumbled and skidded our way around Pleasanton the long way, slammed into the designated temporary bus stop and raced across the street. Validated tickets. Began loitering around waiting for the train to arrive in about two minutes…I’d made it. In spite of it all. In spite of delays and crazy and crowds and general insanity. On my way home, on time…

Attention all ACE train passengers at Pleasanton station: ACE train number six is currently running thirty minutes late due to a freight train on the tracks between Pleasanton and Fremont…

Well, I’ll…I’ll be…


Knackered, that’s what I’ll be.

Completely knackered.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Sometimes, it seems as though my whole life is one big old marathon, as if absolutely everything about it comes down to enduring.

Sometimes, it is kind of irritating.

Sometimes, I find myself wondering why something can’t just once arrive in the form of instant gratification.

Why (I ask myself peevishly at such times) does everything have to require a blend of patience, hard work, perseverance, more patience, more hard work, and maybe just another heapin’ helpin’ of freakin’ patience?!

The thing that makes this question particularly irritating is that frequently, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Take today for perfect example.

I’m working from home today. And it is hot. Hot, hot, hot.

It’s a hair over 100 degrees outside today. Inside, well, that depends on where you are. This house has some of the worst air circulation imaginable; the temperature variances can be…crazy.

Downstairs hallway: 78 degrees.
Kitchen: 90 degrees.
Kids’ bathroom: 72 degrees.
Master bathroom: 95 degrees (!!)
Master bedroom a.k.a. my office: 90 degrees.

I guess when it comes to temperature I’m more like lettuce than tomatoes because I’m dying. Seriously. Dy-ING. I am sweating. I am barefoot, in shorts, sucking down lemonade by the gallon, ceiling fan whirring, floor fan buzzing (but I have to turn it off whenever I get on the phone because WHAT?! I CAN’T HEAR YOU, MY FAN IS ON!!!!!) (so naturally, today is “hey, let’s call Tama and ask about that! At great length!” day)

And here’s the corker: I’m stuck in this sweat box because I am a prisoner to network connectivity. This Satan’s Waiting Room is where the speed is, people. Sure, I could unplug, waddle off to one of the cooler spaces, and switch to my wireless card…and every query would then take twenty minutes to return and my email would be all “wait for it…waaaaaait for iiiiiiiiit…” and we shall not even begin to discuss how long it would take to upload a single Excel spreadsheet.

I can feel my hair turning gray just thinking about it.

Oh, do I have an air conditioner? Why yes, yes I do. Did we have the old funky one replaced a couple years ago during the Great Remodeling Adventure with the uber-efficient model of great air movement? Why yes! Yes we did!

So why am I sitting here sweating my arse off (alas, not literally)?

Because! I have a budget, and it requires my PG&E bill to stay under $275 – which requires that I not crank up my air conditioner just because I am (pffft!) a little hot. I would have to set the air conditioner to something like 70 to get this room cooled off to 80-something…which would still feel “too hot” and would also mean that it would just run-run-run-run-run.

Cha-ching-cha-ching-cha-ching. For PG&E, it’s like hitting the jackpot. You can stand there and watch the electric meter spinning, and actually feel all your month being sucked out of your checking account.

This is one of those moments where I find myself feeling pissy about the ‘endurance’ thing.

I’m putting up with the heat because I have a very clear budget. I have the budget because I have goals – and at this stage in my life, they’re ridiculously large. Grandiose, even. The kinds of goals that my younger self would have just stared at with her mouth hanging open before saying, “Yeaaaaaaaah, right. So, uh, good luck with that and if you need me, I’ll be over here chasing something shiny and by the way attainable…


Sometimes, I really rue the day I realized that every action I take causes a ripple, that every choice I make has a consequence.

And that each “small” choice is only small in a vacuum – out in the so-called real world that is my overall life, they add up fast.

In aggregate, all those “just this once” and “only a little” and “I deserve it” choices become dream-deniers.

Used to be I could not see the connection between what I was doing now and that whole not having the rent a week or two later.

Now, I can’t not see it. Before my hand can even leave my side, I’m already thinking about our dreams…no more debts to pay, the ability to shift slowly into a less frantic working situation, stepping gradually into a working retirement as the kids start going off to college and from there into their own lives…making less but loving what we do more…

And I can’t do it. I can’t choose being cooler over all that.

So, I don’t do it. I leave the thermostat alone, and I go back to my office, and I drink more lemonade and try not to cuss when my phone rings and I have to snap off my floor fan.

I can endure temporary discomfort in exchange for getting those other things that much sooner.

…don’t promise I won’t kvetch about it, though…

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Garden Report: June 25, 2010

Ah, summer…when the sweet promise of spring turns into an explosion of activity.

green beans

This is two days worth of green beans. Two. Measly. Days. On Tuesday, after a five day picking hiatus, I hauled in six and a half pounds of beans.

Two days later, I picked all of this – another two and a half pounds. And there were easily this many still on the vine that may be “too small” today, but by Sunday they’ll be ready to pick.

I mean, you know…dang.

These are just…incredible. Tender, stringless, juicy, flavorful, just insanely good. They’re ‘Contender’ bush beans, and they aren’t kidding about the heavy yields on these babies. (Heh…I noticed one of the reviews here complains about the bushes falling over – I’ve noticed that too, although it’s not so much “falling” over as “being pulled over by the insane number of pods dangling off it.”)

Next door, the butternut squash is beginning to set fruit. Lots and lots of it. I had no idea butternut squash did this – last year, the “hard rind” stuff we grew tended to give us one or maybe two squash / melons per vine. Well, SURPRISE! I counted a dozen baby butternuts before I decided I was getting a bit compulsive and quit counting.

Waltham Butternut

This one is a ballerina – see the tutu?

Tutu butternut

The zucchini has started producing teeny-tiny zucchinis. Awwww, isn’t a cute little thing? Ya. Do not be fooled. Not only will this guy grow to mammoth proportions seemingly overnight, he will be joined by thousands of brothers. Fear the coming zucchini invasion! FEAR IT!!!

innocent zucchini

The cherry tomatoes are a-blushing. We’ve eaten four of them so far. Mmm, juicy!


And the beefsteaks are becoming populous.


As, at long last, are the romas.


We finally got the peach / nectarine tree propped up – it’s just so tiny, and the fruit is getting so big!


Aren’t they pretty little peaches, though?


Cute nectarines, too.


The lemon tree is already starting to cover itself with little green lemons, which the kids insist are limes.


The Christmas limas are just hanging out, all cool and stuff, leaning on their fence like they just don’t care…


The corn / beans / pumpkins are a sight to behold.


The corn is getting taller than me (which isn’t all that hard, but still). The pinto beans aren’t doing a lot of climbing yet, but they seem happy – and so do the pumpkins.


After a lot of waffling, we finally decided to put in more corn in the empty spot; the spinach likes it cooler and the corn likes it hotter, and it’s about to get nothing but hotter around here.

And we like corn. A lot. Even with over three hundred plants in the ground, I’m willing to bet supply won’t keep up with demand once they get to harvest. Sigh. Yeah. I think I need five acres just to grow enough corn to shut everybody up around here…

And when I started working this part of the yard, I discovered that it has become a huge litterbox – add an extra hour to make sure I’d gotten all the poop out of there! Gah, stupid cats. I’m trying the coyote pee deterrent, which does indeed stink to high heaven and also made me laugh because I had to wonder how in the world I would know if it were, you know, really coyote pee and not just plain old garden-variety-species-of-animal pee.

I mean, seriously – how would I ever know?!

And then I got to thinking about how just plain sad it was that I’d be worried that the pee granules I was sprinkling around my yard wasn’t authentic coyote.

And then I got to remembering Dave Barry’s brilliant Decaf Poopacino column, and I had to take a long break to let the giggles pass.

Then I thought: What kind of world is this when you worry that people might be ripping you off by selling you coffee that was NOT pooped out by a weasel?


Hee. Ahem. Anyway. Hey look, future corn bordered by hopefully authentic coyote piss sprinkles! (Uh, you can’t actually see that part…you’ll just have to trust me on that…)


Here are their future neighbors, the gift-from-neighbors tomatoes. And if they look a little sad, that would be because I totally forgot they aren’t on the drip system yet and didn’t water them for about five days. Oops.


In the front beds, the pak choi…


…and the lettuce…


…are coming right along.

Soon, some of that lettuce will look like this one. Which I named “dinner,” and which will pair up nicely with some of those cherry tomatoes and perhaps a dash of vinaigrette.


I planted a bunch of beefsteak tomatoes along the fence, in the huge holes left by the cucumbers that refused to grow. After watching me first rebuilding the trenches around the various squashes and tomatoes in the yard and then doing the same around the new tomatoes, Captain Adventure decided to show me how it was done.


New this week: A couple watermelon plants. I finally gave up and bought two “pre-grown” pots to plant – I can’t get watermelon seeds out here right now for love or money! (I had bought some watermelon seeds way back when, but I took them to the Girl Scout garden planting thing and, well…no more watermelon seeds.)


This weekend, I want to figure out what I can do with this big gaping hole.


On the far left is the peach tree, the two cherries are in the background, and that big fuzzy beast is one of the two redwood trees we took out last year. Obviously, it is not actually dead – also, it is going to be a real bear to get out.

Now, eventually, that will be a very shady spot; but for the next couple years it will be almost-full sun.

Really, something could go in there. Hmmmmmmmmm…

Lessee, who am I missing here…Oh! The potatoes are giving me a couple “bonus” flowers!


These are the Kennebecs. A couple of the plants are just a little behind their siblings – a little smaller and only just now going, “Oh yeah, flowering, I was supposed do that flowering thing!”

I can’t wait to start digging up some potatoes for our dinners around here.

The berry bushes are doing the same thing they were last week, which is almost nothing. There has been some growth, but it’s still very slow and they aren’t showing any signs of going into hyperdrive any time soon.

Not, mind you, that anything has…until hyperdrive is already in full swing and it feels like I can just stand there watching the bean pods swell up, the flowers unfurl, the vines creep along the ground, the tree stretching another foot toward the sky.

I’m a bit surprised how much I’m enjoying this. It’s not an inconsiderable amount of work, and I’m sure when the hot weather really gets here I’ll find it a lot less awesome…but I guess some things just never change.

I still love digging my fingers and toes into dirt. I love the smell of freshly dug earth and green growing things. I love the magic trick that is a little old seed turning into something enormous. I love being in the Out, with the sun on my back and fresh air – and in my part of town, I’m working with the sounds of roosters, goats, horses and cows in the background.

It’s a special kind of awesome. There’s a deep contentment in it, a feeling that no matter what else may be going on in my tiny, insignificant little life or out there on the greater stage of Da Whole World, well…I’ve got this dirt, right here. And these seeds. These plants. This sunlight, this clean(ish) air, this…time outside of time.

It just makes me happy. And greedy for more. More time for it, more room for it, more-more-more. I keep taking the long way to and from everywhere I go, driving past all the for sale signs all over our rural area…five acres here, forty there, a hundred-and-sixty or three-hundred-sixty or a crazy-talk-three-thousand.

I don’t know if I’d actually be woman enough to handle more than what I’ve got…but I surely do love to daydream about it. All this, and room for sheep too…

(Whaaaaaat? Oh, c'mon, everything always comes back to wool around here, you know that...)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mangy little why I oughta YOU CATS GET OFFA MAH LAWN!!

Friends…I have been having problems with my artichoke plants. In fact, just a couple days ago I looked at them, sadly, and thought, You guys just aren’t doing that hot, are you?

Because they’re not. There’s the one that I’d thought the snails got into…after a brief rally, it just never seemed to go anywhere…and the other two have alternated between doing pretty well and then I’d go out there and half their leaves would be chewed up. What the HECK?!

Now, I’ve been assuming it was bug damage. I’m not using chemicals much out there, which means every bug in town has invited all their buggy friends over for a party in my yard. (Fortunately, the ladybugs have moved in too…they are on my potato plants by the droves right now, getting fatter and fatter…)

I got an unexpected summons last night to visit Captain Adventure’s proposed new program today, so I was loitering around in my kitchen in the early morning hours this morning, drinking my coffee while Dharma purred madly on my lap.

Then she stiffened. Her eyes flared, then narrowed. She got up, shook herself, and jumped to the top of the sofa, where she crouched with her tail lashing the air.

…what the heck…

Ah. Two of the neighborhood cats were slinking their way along our fence. The Twins. A pair of males the kids have named Lopsy and Brother.

I regarded them with dislike. I say this as a cat lover, people: I am two seconds from catching and skinning those two brats. They are diggers, and clawers. They were the ones who were constantly being busted grubbing around the root balls of my roses – they liked to sharpen their claws on them.

Whenever I came out and found a rose with a newly exposed and deeply scarred base exposed – it was probably one of these two boys, or both of them together.

Well, guess what?

Not only do they like to poop on spinach (and dig it up, and fling it around), they apparently like to nibble on artichoke plants.


Coming on top of having found yesterday that they (or some of their kith) turned my recently-re-planted spinach rows into one big litter box, as well as having pooped in my corn AND apparently been digging around some of the potatoes (why? WHY?! And don’t look all innocent at me fellahs, first of all you left yet more scat over there too AND one of you lost part of your nail right in one of the exposed, clawed-up potatoes!) (I. Could. Just. KILL. Them.), well.

I may have gone a little off my nut. Yeah, just a little, and I’m sure the neighbors are delighted because I ran out there at 6:15 this morning clapping my hands and shrieking, “DON’T you DARE eat those artichokes WHY I oughta GIT! GIT! GIT! A’fore I skin ya and stretch yer mangy hide on mah GAH-RAH-GUH DOOR-AH!” like a demented moonshiner running off his ne’er-do-well cousin.

The neighborhood cats have always been a problem for us. They’ve dug up newly planted roses, clawed holes in canvas sandbox covers, and used new patio furniture as scratching posts.

But it’s never been, you know, war.

Which this kind of is.

I think I’m going to be picking up a canister or two of granulated coyote piss on my way back from my appointment today, for liberal sprinkling here, there and everywhere…

(And is it not ironic that, because I don’t want the cats peeing [OK, and pooping] [AND digging] [AND ALSO nibbling] on my veggies, I’m going to be sprinkling…coyote pee…all over my yard?!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If I start completely over, I won’t be behind…

OK, new theory: Let’s pretend that I just now started this whole “life” thing. That way, I’m not behind, I’m just getting started!

Huh? Huh? Whaddya think?! I know! It’s like, brilliant!


Yeah. I’m so far behind right now I sincerely doubt I can ever catch up. Right now it feels as though all I get for my sixteen hour days is a kind of drowning more slowly sort of survival.

It irks me just a tiny bit because it feels like whenever I just go and have fun for a day or two, the payback is…unfair.

I mean, really. Other people manage to have actual vacations without there seeming to be much in the way of and now, you’ll have to work 23 hour days for the rest of the week to catch up on the flipside…but I take two measly days to mostly-not-work, and it’s like, OK! And NOW, you get to spend the rest of your life working double-time to make up for all the stuff you DIDN’T do those two days!

(I know it’s self-inflicted. I’m enjoying a nice pity party right now. So shut up and eat a stupid cookie. Have some tea. It’s special “energy, concentration and focus” tea all the way from China(town).)

Saturday, I hauled my sorry backside out of bed early, patted everybody on the head, said, “See you later!” in cheerful, I am SO out of here! WITHOUT you!! tones and hied myself to the junior livestock auction at the San Joaquin County Fair.

It was a gas. I’ll tell you all about it later – for now, I’ll just reveal that a 219 pound hog and a 1,112 pound steer were purchased by yours truly from a pair of beautiful children that were not mine, but that I wanted to bundle up and take home with me anyway except that I’m pretty sure their parents wanted to keep them, which is too bad for me but understandable seeing as how they were the kind of bright-eyed, sensible, feet-on-ground, beautiful young ladies every mom prays their own kid will be, when she’s a teenager.

These two purchases mean that in a couple weeks here, I’m going to get a phone call from Fagundes Meats and Catering to please come and pick up my 550(ish) pounds of beef, and 140(ish) pounds of pork, bacon and ham.

By the way, if you live near Manteca, California and want to get in on some excellent meats at decent prices – go and check out their meat packs. They do an excellent job with their cutting and packing, it all comes neatly packaged in freezer-and-recipe friendly sizes, they’ll carry it out to your car for you, and they don’t mind customizing your mix (within reason, of course – I mean, I’m not going to ask them to swap me 10 pounds of ground beef for ten pounds of choice strip steak) if, say, you absolutely are not ever in a million years going to eat the beef ribs and would rather have an extra couple pounds of ground beef or bacon.

(Fagundes isn’t paying me for this, nor did they ask me to endorse them. I was told recently that I need to say such things whenever I mention a business on my blog or else the FCC will come and arrest me or something. Because I’m sure the FCC is a regular reader of my blog, on account of it being all mainstream and edgy and such.)

The husband brought the Denizens (plus two of their friends) a few hours later, when the fair opened. I’d bought everybody the discount tickets for the fair itself and the carnival wristbands the week before, so the kids ran themselves ragged going from ride to ride to ride.

Also, those kids ate, I kid you not, almost a hundred dollars worth of fair “food.”

Not food. “Food.” Deep-fried lard with sugar sprinkles, that’s what it really was. But, you know, hey. It runs once a year for five crummy days. We’re not likely going to be doing another one until the Bean Festival, and that’s a much smaller festival that doesn’t have endless culinary sinning opportunities.

The most fun of all (for me, anyway) was when we went to look at the exhibits, because Eldest had entered some of her art. Her fine art got one red and one white ribbon (because obviously the judges were blind and wouldn’t know Amazing if it walked up and bit them on the shin) (what? I’m not biased, that’s my purely scientific opinion, based on my zero knowledge of what constitutes “art” and spoken from the firm ground of complete ignorance), while both of her earrings got blue!

Proud momma: Check!

Also, I had to do my annual, “Where are all the knitters out here? There’s hardly any knitting at all in this show! I totally should have entered {favorite knitted object of the year}! Ooooh, look how neatly she did the pickup on that border, that’s awfully nice work…cute, cute, hideous, sweet, oh, nice hem, yeah, next year, I’m totally going to make {insane feat of knitting} and enter it…” routine.

It’s tradition, people. (I missed entering Lillehammer by one day this year. ONE. DAY. Due Saturday, remembered that on Sunday. And what makes that particularly ironic is that I had nagged Eldest half to death on Friday to get her stuff in because the deadline was tomorrow, Eldest, don’t you DARE do your space cadet number and not get your stuff in!)

And then Sunday…it was an actual day off. Our babysitter arrived promptly at 11:00, and the husband and I went into San Francisco to see Wicked.

Do you know it was our first “date” in over a year? I mean, obviously we get a lot of time together. We have lunch together just about every single day at work, and we commute together, and work, like, twenty feet from each other – it’s not like we get plenty of “alone-ish” time with each other.

But it’s seldom at all romantic. Commuting? Not romantic. Slamming lunch between meetings? Not romantic. The conversations we’re usually having along the way? So not romantic?

Oh baby, discussing the laundry situation is sooooooo sexy! Kiss me, you fool!!

It felt downright weird to be sitting in a theater with him, watching a musical, no kids around, both of us slightly dressed up (but not all crazy-dressed-up because it was just a matinee)…we got cocktails in the theater, too, because this was one of those no expense barred sort of things for us.

I know. We are wild things. We followed that up by pulling through Carl’s Jr. for dinner. AND WE GOT COMBOS. Lookout, they’re living HIGH tonight!

Usually, when I take a long weekend off work, it’s all about, well, work. Catching up around the house or garden, canning stuff, doing Spring cleaning or special projects that need more than the single weekend day I can generally spare (if and only if I’ve made a super-concerted effort throughout the week to have everything ELSE already done when Saturday morning rolls around). Filling out paperwork for our dormant-but-still-alive business. Shopping, cooking, organizing.

I thought that I’d be able to get everything done with “just” Friday and Monday and part of today, followed by working a half-day from home so that I could mop up whatever I hadn’t actually finished previously (by which I actually mean, “rinsing and washing the dyeing I did this morning”).

I was so wrong. I’m up to my eyebrows in stuff I haven’t finished yet, and frustrated outside of all telling.

And yet, at the same time, so unwilling to give up. Because stubborn? I haz it.

In spades. I’m going to do this self-sufficiency thing to the absolute best of my ability, whether it’s easy or not.

I only wish I had about, oh, 9.85 more acres to work with out here.

I’d be cookin’ with gas then, baby…(or cooking, at least, because guess who still can’t remember she really needs to wear sunscreen if she’s going to get out there in the garden…?)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dark Chocolate Orange Chip Ice Cream

Once Upon A Time, my parents used to take me to a Swensen’s ice cream shop in San Rafael. The Lady My Mother would always get Swiss Orange Chip ice cream – a dark chocolate ice cream, infused with orange flavor and tiny chocolate chips.

Personally, at the time, I liked bubble gum ice cream because I was a callow youth. As I matured, I discovered that mom had it right – that Swiss Orange Chip was awesome ice cream.

Alas, there is no Swensen’s anywhere near me.

Then a while ago, I found a recipe for a dark chocolate orange chip ice cream that sounded like it might be somewhat close to the idea.

It wasn’t. In point of fact, it was rather vile…which perversely made me feel like I had to try it again, only this time with a bit of fiddling.

I have a two-quart ice cream maker, people, and I’m not afraid to fire it up in the name of science.

And so it was that I came up with the following recipe, which makes a bit less than two quarts of something that is very close to the Swiss Orange Chip I remember. Yum!

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half-n-half
3-1/4 cups heavy cream (hey, I didn’t claim this was diet ice cream!)
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips (get the good stuff – trust me on this one)

Dissolve the cocoa powder and sugars in the milk – a whisk works best to get them all mixed in. Add the half-n-half, cream and orange extract, give them a good stir and pour them into your ice cream maker of choice. Mix until it’s almost ready (at the “soft serve” stage), then add your chocolate chips and let it go until it’s ready-ready.

If you want it like the store-bought stuff, move it out of the ice cream maker and into the freezer for a couple hours.

I can’t wait to make a batch of this for The Lady My Mother…

In other news, after a week of extra-crazy-fatigue-laden-working (could you tell by the absolute blog silence?), I’ve got a super-busy weekend coming up. Hopefully, there will be pictures of madness and advanced recreation

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Garden Report: June 13, 2010

Wasn’t I just complaining about how cold it was? Wah wah wah, cold cold cold?

Yeah. Well, hi summer, because it was over 90 degrees all weekend, and the sun was blasting like a bread oven, and good grief, I think I lost fifteen pounds in sweat this weekend! (Alas, that is merely wishful thinking…I’ve gained over five pounds since I started back to work six months ago thanks to a combination of more sitting and too much eating.)

All this heat and the end of the rain means that it is time for this again.

gray water collection

I have the garden on pretty sparse rations, water-wise…I’m counting on the biweekly laundry water to provide the rest.

I’d managed to forget what a pain in the tush (and back, and elbows, and shoulders) it can be, though. I cannot tell a lie: I wasn’t too thrilled this weekend as I was toting the water hither and yon. I should have gotten out my sump pump and hose and blah blah blah, but I guess I was in one of those “no, I’d rather just sit here poking myself in the eye with this sharp stick, thanks all the same” kind of moods.

So it was lug with a bucket and pour by hand, all over the yard. Brightness of Idea: Negative twelve.

But at the end of the day, everything got a good long drink and friends…check it out.

Here is the butternut squash Friday evening.

butternut squash

Saturday morning, it (and its partner, who you’ll meet in a second here) were among the first to get a big drink of tasty laundry water (mmmmm, laundry water!).

This afternoon…


The one on the left there is the one seen above; that vine that is now reaching longingly for its little friend on the other side is actually being trained all the way around from the front (it wanted to fratnerize with the green beans at first). That is about 4” of stretching out it did, in just over 24 hours. Dang.

Everything (other than me) seems to really like our suddenly seasonal weather. The Christmas lima beans are shooting up…

Christmas limas

…and becoming quite the little social climbers…

climbing, climbing

One of the cherry tomatoes has the decency to be embarrassed by their constant demands for water and fertilizer.

blushing cherry tomato

Or perhaps it’s the fact that there’s a peeping Tom in the garden – a sneaky pea, that somehow seeded itself in the yellow-striped heirloom tomato container…

sneaky pea

The pinto beans are already jumping up all around the corn – I now see why it’s important to give the corn a bit of a head start on them!

This one cracked me up (possibly due to heat exhaustion) – doesn’t it look like it’s jumping out of the ground singing? LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!


Tonight after I’ve recovered from the sweatiness a bit, I have to go back out there and get some green beans in…

green beans

And the definitely-ready-to-think-about-bolting spinach.


The romas are still a little sulky, I think; they’ve got a few flowers but not so much as a bump of fruit forming yet.

sulky roma

I’ve got an open spot again where there was lettuce (if only the initial planting of cucumbers had made it…sigh…). There’s almost always a patch like this out there, where something just came out and nothing has gone in yet; little bits of what looks like scorched earth, with growing things all around it.

scorched earth

The berries are starting to stir a little bit – especially the blackberries and raspberries. This one has finally gotten to my knee!


Meanwhile, my little apple tree is shooting up – it’s gained about six inches since March!!

granny smith apples

We’re going to have to be very careful not to get lazy with this tree – once it hits twenty feet, we want to start keeping it “capped” there. If left alone, it could get to forty feet tall and almost as big around!

The Bing cherry tree is also happy, growing and leafing out like it means business.

Bing cherries

The Ranier is coming along a lot more slowly. I was getting too hot and cranky by that time, so you’ll just have to imagine a kind of spindly tree with some new growth on it here. Like the Bing, only having a really bad hair day.

The five-in-one (which appears to have lost two of its grafts, so it’s actually a three-in-one now…unless those two thoroughly dry twigs suddenly go, “Oh yeah, we’re supposed to grow and some junk!” and leaf up…but I’m pretty sure they just didn’t ‘take’…) is responding really well to the deep-root water we finally noticed wasn’t actually turned on. (Sigh.) The peaches have grown from golf balls to about woman-fist sized. Yay! Although now we need to prop up the branch a bit…


I thinned these down, too, taking out about 30% of what was on there. I’d swear the tree responded by making more.

And…my red potatoes.

red potatoes with flash

I took that one with a flash – it was actually getting a little dark when I was stalking around Friday night checking for exposed potatoes. I’ve been doing that almost every day for weeks, but nary a potato have I seen. Which was good, actually; if potatoes sit on top of the soil, they turn green and bitter and are actually a bit toxic. That’s right. A potato can be poisonous. Yes way.

I used the “deep planting” method for my potatoes this year precisely because I didn’t want to be constantly having to hill up around them. I knew I was going to be crazy-busy with the work-thing and the commute-thing, so I’m trying to keep things as low-maintenance as I can. (Ha. Ha ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. *sniff* *sob* yeeeeeah…low…maintenance…)

This is a shot without the flash; it’s a lot truer to the actual color of the potatoes.

red potatoes

I’m in love. These are just so lovely, and so utterly unlike the supermarket potatoes; even unlike what I’ve gotten from the CSA. (Although in all fairness, there isn’t a whole lot that doesn’t benefit from being rushed straight from the garden into the oven, you know?)

I’m going to start pulling a few out of the ground each week, here and there. They’re too good not to just go ahead and eat, and I suspect we’re going to be up to our ears in them soon enough – the white Kennebec and the All Blue (I keep calling them ‘purple,’ but they’re actually a really dark blue).

Now, let’s see, did I get everybody…oh, wait.In the front boxes…baby lettuce.

baby lettuce

And baby pak choi…

baby pak choi


A lot of what I planted in there has a longer germination time; in fact, I think most of what I planted takes a whopping 21 days to poke up its head and say “howdy!”…which is why I also decided to put some lettuce and that delicious pak choi in there – it comes up satisfyingly fast, and quickly looks purty, too.

Which will match the boxes they’re in; the husband finished the pavers this weekend and folks…he does awfully nice work.


He has twelve band-aids on eight of his fingers right now. He was using a special wet saw thingee (you can see how technical I am here, right?) to do all his fancy cuts to make the curves and fill in the funky little angles and such, and it was exactly like spending two days in a swimming pool with rough stone edges.

I’m so impressed with this I could about bust. Is my man clever, or is my man clever?

And that is the garden report for the week. It’s starting to get downright exciting out there, isn’t it?! (Just agree with me. That’s what you’re supposed to do with crazy people, you know…)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pictures later, but…

…I ate a potato last night.

Just one. One measly red backyard potato.

Because after weeks and weeks of anxious checking, they finally said, “Oh, OK, here – have a couple visible potatoes. Now you can go ahead and ‘hill us up’ and feel like an actual gardener, geesh, whatever…”

So naturally I kind of dug around a little bit because I was curious, and that one potato was just so…perfect…so beautifully the right size, so frivolously red, so curvaceous…I just couldn’t resist.

So I picked it and brought it inside and roasted it and then I thought I’d try a bite before I did anything to it, just to see what it tasted like.

I mean, I already know what butter and sour cream and salt and pepper tastes like. Backyard red potatoes, though – new experience.

It really was sublime. Creamy, a little bit sweet, with that indescribable thing TV cooking shows call “good mouth feel.”

The flavor was light like air; the texture and feeling was as if I’d drowned it in butter.

I want more. More, more, more.

(Fortunately, there will be more. Lots and lots and lots more. And there’s also the white Kennebecs [which also started peeking out of the ground yesterday] and the purple ones! We’re going to be up to our eyeballs in spuds in another couple weeks around here…)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thank DOG it’s quittin’ time…

You guys won’t tattle on me, will you? Didn’t think so…oh my stars and garters, did I ever have focus issues at work today. And yesterday. And the day before that. And also the day before that. And…wait, have we gotten to Monday yet? Because it’s been like that all week.

Seriously, if someone were doing a documentary on the most severe cases of adult ADHD ev-ah, they should have been around my place this week. It got to be seriously annoying, because, you know, daydreaming and thinking a zillion things at once and constantly sidetracking down “interesting but rather besides the point” mental alleys and all like that can be groovy…but not when you don’t want to be like that.

Although I did get a groovy “missing account lookup tool” out of it, when one distraction led to another and another and another then suddenly I found myself building this Union Query Of Doom where you can put in your account number and, if it is in any of our whackity-majillion source feeds, it will not only tell you precisely whence it came, but why it did not wither-goeth unto whereunto ye thought it oughta-eth.

Because, uh, that happens rather a lot. “Where’s this account? I can’t find account XJ942YRU774!” And then I end up going through this tedious process of finding out which source feed it is in (and then it’s in there as 000004-XJ942YRU774) followed by the even MORE fun process of trying to weed out exactly which of the 427 constraints was “the” constraint that caused it to get kicked out of the system. (My personal favorite has got to be when I get to say, “Dude, this account was closed on February 22, 2006.” Because really? You’re freaking out over an account that has been dead, Jim, for over four years?!)

But now, see, I have this nifty little screen, and I just copy and paste the account number from the email, and it runs through all the different possibilities including the possibility that I’ve only got a partial account number (I’m rather proud of that…it’s not 100% foolproof, but so far it’s been spot-on) (I so clever, I scares m’self) (no, really, it kind of scares me that I’m so charmed by my account-number-parsing-and-pass-to-join-solution), and then if it finds a hit it runs this sub-query that runs all the account flags through in the same order as the load process until it hits whatever would have first knocked it out of the load.

And then, it tells you in English what happened. “This account was not in scope because it is a child to parent account 000001-XJ942YRU774-07Q, Ixsnay Warehouses DDA.”

Booyeah! Just saved myself I-dunno-how-much time down the road. And eventually maybe I can deploy it out to the reporting site and they can look up their own darned missing accounts and leave me out of it. While I go on to do more important things, like looking up Thai chili chicken recipes.

Because missing accounts => tying up my time => I really like Thai food => ya know, wasn’t there a Thai chili chicken that was like KFC meets Singapore I saw once…?

…three days later, I emerge from my bedroom gimlet-eyed and spouting all kinds of facts about how to grow chili peppers.

Seriously, people. What is going on with my biorhythms this week?! I’m always a bit (a bit?!?!) (shut up, me) prone to this kind of stuff, but this week has been bad even for me!

In unrelated news (you expected something else?), have you noticed a trend lately where real estate listings are using pictures taken years ago, like, as in, from the last time the house was sold?

(See? This is what I’ve been dealing with this week. It’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride inside my skull.)

I hadn’t noticed it either. But then I went online to get the confirmation number on a bill pay, and I was all, Ohmygah, I drove past that house the other day and it does NOT look like that anymore! and then I went all surfy-surfy and checked out the pictures of other pretty run-down places I drive by regularly and found that about three times out of a ten, the real estate agent was using a picture that so did not reflect the way the house looks now…but made me think of what it looked like back in the boom days – you remember, two whole years ago…?

Oh. How did I get there from getting an online bill payment confirmation number? Welllllllllllllllllll…see, it was something like this…

Bill payment confirmation =>
paying off bills =>
paying down mortgage =>
being upside-right on Den again =>
being able to sell the Den if we wanted =>
if I had twenty fertile acres, what would I grow =>
wonder what the going price is for tomatoes, berries, corn, wheat and potatoes right now =>
farm search =>
real estate listings =>
what are places going for out here these days / just how upside down are we now =>
…waitasecond, I know that place, only the weeds are a lot higher now, aren’t they…


I am so glad it’s after quittin’ time on a Friday. Maybe a nice weekend pulling weeds, cheering on my paver-laying hubby and conniving a few more square feet of garden space (oh yes, there has been conniving going on) will get my head back in the game.

Either that, or I’ll spend the whole weekend right here, endlessly distracted by just one more link on the Internet…


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Change of plans…

There I was sitting, happily eating my nice, healthy apricot for breakfast.

apricot – healthy!

And then somebody said, "Hey Tama – there's cheesecake over here!"

not so much healthy!

So I, uh, increased my, erm, calcium intake…yeah, that's it, I needed more calcium…

(I know my Treo's camera couldn't get the full coolness of that little chocolate flower – the detail was exquisite, right down to a beautiful little dab of raspberry "ovary" at the base. So sweet!)

(And I ate the apricot too. Except for the bruised up nasty bits.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Odyssey odyssey

So. As kvetched mentioned yesterday, when we attempted to pour out the door into Homer the Odyssey yesterday, we were confronted by a large, minivan-shaped rock in the driveway.

The lights worked. The remote would unlock the doors.

But the key would not turn in the ignition, no matter what we tried.

So after a quick consultation, the husband took off for work with the Denizens-minus-Eldest crammed into the Civic (yeah, not exactly a good family vehicle for a family of six, y'all) (but an awesome commuting vehicle), while I stayed home to deal with the Odyssey Situation.

A couple hours later, when the shops and dealerships were beginning to open, I grabbed my cell phone and went outside, ready to make a call that was probably going to cost me an awful lot of money. Early research was suggesting a problem with the anti-theft system; each key is coded with a microchip that the interlock system reads before allowing the key to turn.

If it had gotten fried, it was going to be an impressively large repair bill to get it fixed.

So I walked out there and glared at Homer resentfully. Sitting there. All…not-working-y…in the driveway…and gah, right in the middle of the danged sand and rock piles, too. That wasn't going to be fun for the husband, if we couldn't get it handled right away. Or for the tow truck, I'd bet. Because lookit that, he's kind of over that pile on the one side and the front bumper is right up in the gravel…


No. Yes? Nah. But…maybe…suppose it was…is there a…sensor…or…something…under…?...sigh

I got a shovel.

Now friends…shoveling sand is not a lot of fun. Shoveling wet sand is even less fun. And rock is yet more less fun due to the weight-thing.

And all of that is nothing compared to the double-plus-un-fun of attempting to shovel sand and base rock out from under a minivan you'd rather not dent up.

Twenty minutes of hot, sweaty work later, I climbed into the cab, put my key into the ignition, paused to ponder whether I'd be more happy or pissed if this actually worked, and then made the gentle, familiar turn of the wrist…


I said a few words. Never mind what words precisely; suffice to say that they started off with something that rhymes with "oil be clammed" and may have gone a bit downhill from there.

I was more pissed than happy, at the time; among other things, my back muscles were already starting to do this fluttering thing that tends to be the early warning signs of nasty spasms. Shoveling is not an activity I should be doing in the first place, really, and certainly I shouldn't do it two days in a row, and most assuredly I shouldn't be doing awkward and heavy shoveling of the kind you will perforce be doing if you're trying to remove base rock from under a van.

Furthermore, not only did I have to clear what was directly under the van – I had to move almost half the danged pile, because naturally when you try to take stuff from the bottom of a pile, well, the top just slides right on down to replace what you just took out.

It's called gravity, and it is mean that way.

Sooooo, I had to move maybe a quarter yard of sand and rock four inches to the left to get my poor minivan out. And for a fair bit of it, I was shoveling while crouched down all weird so I could get the shovel under the van.


As I was standing there, panting, victorious, pissed off, rubbing my back and trying to fend off the spasms with willpower alone, trying to be pleased that I'd thought to try it before calling a professional , here came my husband – driven home by a sympathetic coworker after the power went out at the office and left him stranded in Pleasanton.

Now friends. This is the man who parked the vehicle in the building materials. This is the guy who created the situation in which I found myself this morning, struggling with a shovel on a work day to free whatever sensor had gotten confused by the presence of Too Much Crap Around The Tires.

It is his fault, people, that I am wondering if I'm going to find myself taking a fistful of muscle relaxants, possibly washing them down with vodka, and lying on a heating pad exactly the way they warn you not to for the next four days.


"Wow, you moved the piles. {pause} But you know they're on the wrong side now, right? Yeah. 'Cause I want them to put the pavers there, so I kind of wanted the piles to be here…"

Ahem. Yes. Well, I have another suggestion for where the blasted pavers can go, and although it is anatomically improbable, I'm willing to give it a try right about now.

Also, Important Safety Tip: Don't smart off to a pissed off, sweaty woman who just spent half an hour fixing your mistake.

Especially not while she's still holding the shovel.

Monday, June 07, 2010

OK, NOW, it’s just getting silly…

I got a call about an hour ago from Captain Adventure’s sitter saying, “Uh…his bus is here…should he, um, get on it? He's not to happy about it...”

And I went, “Whaaaaaaaaat?!?!”

I thought that wasn’t starting until next week. Good grief, what kind of mother AM I, anyway?! How on earth could I be a week off like that?!?! Guilt-guilt-guilt...

I waffled for a moment. He doesn’t have his backpack, we didn’t prepare him for it, etc. etc. etc.

But on the other hand…I don’t want him to miss his first day. That’s when orientation happens, and furthermore it’s never a good idea to let “him” decide he’s not getting on the bus. If he wins once, it’s precedent, you know?

So I said, “Yeah, OK, he’d better go ahead and go.”

…fast forward to a few minutes ago…

“Oh hai, is this Mrs. Captain Adventure’s mom? Ya, uh…the bus sort of brought him today? Uh-huh, yeah, only, his program doesn’t actually start until next week?”

The bus company had him on the wrong list.

I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or scream.

So he’s on his way back to the sitter’s house.

And I’m just sitting here…with my broken-down minivan still pretending to be a very large rock in the driveway, a stranded husband wandering around Pleasanton, a very confused son who will probably be a right twerp for the rest of the day (unless he decides this has been fun and he’s glad he’s not going to school so YIPPEE FOR THE SITTER’S LOVELY HOUSE!), Eldest rattling around the Den because she’s practicing staying home “alone” (she is desperate to be a latchkey kid and I suspect it won’t be long before our sitter sweetly but firmly suggests that we let her), and all my coworkers trying to shuffle themselves back into some semblance of being able to work given the sudden shutdown of the building due to the power outage.


It’s a most…Monday-ish sort of Monday today…

…and then it gets even MORE interesting…

Just got a call from the husband. The power is out at our office and they’re shutting down the building, so he’s stranded until the first ACE train home – in eight hours.

He doesn’t have a power cord with him for his laptop with him, so what’s he going to do for about seven of those hours? No idea.

And can I come get him? No. Because I have a dead minivan in my driveway stubbornly refusing to Just Work. (I keep trying the key. Because I am insane and expect that eventually, doing the exact.same.thing will have a different result than the last 48 times.)

Today just keeps getting better and better

What are you trying to say to us, Universe?!

Wait…wait…I think…yes, I’m getting a Sending here…here it comes…

Commuting is stupid for people like you two, whose work is done entirely on a computer, who end up plugging into an iPod so they can block out the conversations of others around you because PROGRAMMERS NEED A BIT OF SOLITUDE AND QUIET TO WORK EFFECTIVELY and whose meetings are held over the phone and via Live Meeting because the team is scattered throughout the world. It is a pointless expense of carbon. You can work from home just as effectively, without the physical, fiscal, spiritual and ecological expense of traveling 70 miles each way to and from work. MegaBank should totally embrace this, because it would be good for both the planet AND their image.



Me. An Oracle for the Universe.

…I feel so humbled…

All dressed up, nowhere to go…

I put on my nice black jeans and a new(er) dressy shirt. Found matching hand-knit socks. Applied a little buff to my black dress shoes. Miraculously discovered the earrings I wanted to wear actually where they belonged.

Washed my face. Put on makeup .

I. Put. On. Makeup. This. Morning. (Granted, it was actually just tinted moisturizer, but that counts.) (Even if I did only remember because all the yard work in the blowing dust and sun turned my skin into something resembling dehydrated lemon peel, so dry it kind of hurts – and pain is about the only thing that will remind me to take medications or rub salves into my wounds. I’m the moisturizer and sunscreen queen today, people!) (Tomorrow…I promise nothing…)

Anyway. I am ready for my date with greatness, y’all. Looking all business-y and competent and…and…earrings.matching.SHIRT, people.

I am so ready to take over the corporate ladder right now. (OK, not really. I’m afraid I remain not much of a “climber.”) (Besides, people whose jobs are stamped with a big old expiration date [Kick Out By: FEBRUARY 11, 2010] really can’t pretend they’re any sort of corporate mogul, ya know?)

So at 6:15 as we’re loading up to head out (half an hour late leaving, because we had a midnight call about a job failure on one of his systems that had us up for about two hours in the middle of the night, which naturally led to a certain extra enthusiasm with the fist on the snooze button this morning), Himself comes in and says, “My key isn’t working in the van.”

And I said, “Huhn,” and wondered quietly to myself whether he was using the right key. The keys for the Civic and the Odyssey are identical, after all, and it’s pretty darned early in the morning, and we were up until too-late last night and then there was that midnight call so maybe the poor dear is, I dunno, sticking the house key into the door lock and wondering why it isn’t working…

No. He isn’t that sleep-fuddled or brain-dead or anything like that.

Homer the Odyssey is a big old lump of dead steel this morning.


So, I’ll be working from home today, between calls to AAA, the dealer, The Guy We Know Who Knows Cars and probably my mother at least once.


Just another normal day of abnormalities around the Den of Chaos…

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Garden Report: June 6, 2010

You know, once upon a time, my backyard looked like this:

weeds galore

Gorgeous. (I can’t remember when I took this picture…this is what our whole yard does over the winter if we don’t stay on top of it…which we didn’t, except in the beds…) (‘Course, usually the husband gets out there with RoundUp and napalms this stuff, but this year I was all, “Don’t you dare! You’ll hit my poor little peas and broccoli, I just know you will!” so…he didn’t. And then the weeds took over the world and we all died, the end.)

OK, not really gorgeous. Actually, kind of frightening. I mean, even the composter was afraid of these things. Look at the poor thing, cowering against the shed all terrified and pleading for its life…

weeds of doom

Heh. Yeah, but, you know, the thing about this yard was: Zero Maintenance. No weekends spent planting or harvesting, canning or drying, no weeding, no raking, no digging your hands in a mix of compost and clay and vermiculite and peat moss and etcetera up to your elbows on a day that might have been spent doing more important things – like surfing the Internet, watching Deadliest Catch or eating ice cream until you throw up.

me mixing yet more

I had all kinds of tools to use for this. I had the tarp that was supposed to make it easier. I had twisty-thingees and hoe-like-thingees and shovel-thingees…but at the end of all things, it was just easier to jump on in there with my hands and mix-mix-mix.

It ended up being a hair over a cubic yard of mix. (And an extra run to Home Depot because we under-estimated just how much we needed to fill those front boxes.)

This right here is how to avoid ever needing a sleeping pill again. Seriously. I could have fallen straight into bed face-first by the time I finished moving all that stuff from here to there, then mixed it all up and moved it yet again into the boxes.

Once filled up with the mix, I planted three kinds of lettuce in one box, onions and chives in another, and the last one has a bunch of herbs (sage, basil, oregano, and thyme) and these cute little pak choi from Renee’s Garden. They’re quick-growing, tasty, and look adorable while they grow.

Then I took a deep breath and charged into the backyard. A neighbor had donated six tomato plants to us this morning, ready to go into the ground.

free tomatoes

…but he wasn’t sure what kind they were. Chances being good that they’re going to need cages and/or staking, I set them apart from other things where we could easily get at them to apply such if needed. And now we’ll see what happens – if they’re like my Roma tomatoes, they’ll get to less than 2’ high and then, uh, stop…if they’re like the cherries or the Mortgage Lifters, they’ll erupt in all directions until we put them in jail and stop their rampage.

Speaking of rampage, the cherry tomatoes are busting out like crazy, all over the bush.

cherry tomatoes

There are at least sixty of them already. Not that I counted, because that would be compulsive. (OK, I may have counted – but I wasn’t precise about it.)

We also have a few of the beefsteak types going.


And the yellow-striped heirloom is also starting to fruit up.

yellow tomato

(Not that you could tell it is a yellow-striped heirloom, seeing as how they’re still green. But eventually, this is supposed to be a yellow tomato with green stripes.)

The green beans bust out in blossoms this week – they’re being a bit modest and putting them largely under the bushes, but the wind rustles through them like a lover moving aside his sweetheart’s hair and gives us glimpses.

green bean flower

And there are baby green beans erupting all over the place.

baby green bean

I can’t wait to torture the kids with fresh green beans. BWAHAHAHAHAHA...

The carrots are starting to come up, looking an awful lot like grass. Especially in areas where the seed obvious got caught by a little breeze or something as I was planting.

scattered carrots

Afraid they were going to be {gasp!} overlooked, the diva cucumbers have finally decided to start coming up.


Things are definitely starting to pick up speed out here as the unseasonable cold is finally giving way to the seasonable warmth; it flirted with 90 this weekend, and the soil was beautifully warm and lush to work with all over the yard. When I was planting the “bonus” tomatoes I was digging pretty far down, and it was lovely and warm to quite a little depth.

And the plants are showing how much they appreciate it, with blossoms and sudden surges in growth. I didn’t take any picture of it because I got all absent-minded, but I swear I can actually see the corn growing right now; I tucked the beans and pumpkin seeds into their spots all over that little field (which took a ludicrous amount of time and Tylenol, thank you very much) on Saturday, and by this afternoon when I went back there again it was like, holy smokes - they’d grown another inch and a half!

…they’re as bad as the Denizens, I swear…(but at least I don’t hafta buy clothes for the corn)

This is an exciting time out there. Fruits and flowers, all over the yard. Wondering just how much is going to actually come out of each spot; how many potatoes are under those hills? How many of those blossoms are going to become green beans? Good grief, how many more cherry tomatoes is this bush planning to produce?! New spinach already poking up its head, carrots and onions and cucumbers and lima beans, corn and butternut squash, zucchini and pinto beans, sunflowers and cilantro.

It’s like having a supermarket under construction in my backyard. Coming soon…!

We’re insanely tired right now, but get to enjoy that smug glow of righteous self-congratulations. We got a crazy amount of hard work done this weekend.

We kicked butt, yo.

And very, very soon, we’ll start really enjoying the fruits of those labors – literally, and in the most tangible of ways.

Perhaps lightly steamed with a sprinkle of salt, or sautéed with bacon, or served up rinsed and raw with a light vinaigrette.