Thursday, December 29, 2011

Garden Catalogs!

I've been receiving garden catalogs since Thanksgiving. It seems they come earlier every year. Didn't they usually wait to send them until mid-January? I don't think trying to be the first to get your garden catalog in the hands of potential customers is really a very good strategy. From Thanksgiving time through Christmas, I for one don't have time to sit down and do any serious armchair gardening. Besides, I'm really not even feeling rested up from the last gardening season. Give me a break! For now, all the new catalogs are being tossed into a stack. Probably by the middle of next month I'll be ready to start making plans for my next round of container gardening, but for now, the garden and I would really like to rest.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Wave

Having lived most of my life in small towns or the rural countryside, I'm familiar with The Wave. I'm not sure that people who come from larger towns or cities always understand The Wave, or its importance. I'm not talking about The Wave that we do as fans at football games, but The Wave that is as common as corn and soybeans out in the country; or used to be. The wave is something you just naturally share with those you pass as you drive down our little country roads. Men, especially those that wear caps and drive pick-up trucks, can almost always be counted on to offer the wave. For some reason, women tend to be a bit more reserved with the wave, especially if they don't know you. Usually, the wave isn't full of motion, but is just a raise of the hand.

This simple gesture, however, can be packed full of meaning. Most often, it just means "Hello, neighbor." And you don't even have to be a true neighbor to warrant a wave. The simple fact you are sharing a country road with a waver often earns you temporary good neighbor status. Sometimes, the wave means "Thank you." You should always offer a wave when any oncoming traffic pulls over to allow you to cross that one-lane bridge first. The thank you wave was once very common, but these days I sometimes find myself feeling a little bit slighted when yielding to oncoming cars who come on across as though it's their right to go first without offering so much as a polite nod, yet alone a wave.

The wave can also mean "I'm sorry." The "I'm sorry" wave is usually offered when a driver makes a mistake, such as accidentally pulling out in front of you a bit too close, or something like that. I received an I'm Sorry Wave today. While crossing our little, gravel, windy, narrow, country road after retrieving our mail from the mailbox, I was somewhat startled by a very large trash truck suddenly coming into sight and heading toward me at what seemed a very high rate of speed. Our little road will get you where you are going, but it's not built for speed! Upon spotting me, however, the driver quickly slowed down and no doubt caught my disapproving gaze. He then did the only thing he could really do, short of stopping and offering a formal apology. . . he waved. And yes, I waved back. Somehow, that simple gesture told me that he realized he was driving his big old truck too fast, and that he was truly sorry for that. All that, in a simple raise of the hand. And when only a moment prior I was a bit scared and a bit angry, The Wave somehow smoothed things over between us. Best of all, I have a feeling that if our paths cross again on this little road in the future, the driver won't be going quite so fast. But if he is, I may offer up a "Modified Wave," but that's a topic for another day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chicken and Noodles

Chicken and noodles. That should make me feel better. I'm in what I like to call a frump. Some people get in funks, but I get in frumps. I'm grumpy, tired, and simply not my old self. While I don't normally subscribe to emotional eating, I truly believe a dose of chicken and noodles will help. When I have this dish, my thoughts go back to my mother and her mother and the wonderful food produced in their kitchens. My mother is still an excellent cook, and the women in her family could turn out the best homemade noodles you could ever hope to eat. I seldom have time to make my own noodles, which is probably another reason for my frump. I have so little time to do the things I enjoy and wish to do. Tonight I will settle for some nice looking egg noodles bought at the store.

Fortunately, the season is right for me to work in the yard and gardens, the best therapy there is for dealing with my gloomy mood. I manage to carve out at least a few minutes to get out among my plants every day. However, I could literally spend hours pruning, staking, pinching, transplanting, and fertilizing my plants, and yes, even pulling weeds. These activities calm and soothe me and allow my mind to relax and thoughts to wander. Peace.

I know I worry too much about things over which I have no control, but I don't know how to stop. I feel my life going by quickly, with so much left undone and the realization that there are things I'll probably never be able to do. Is this perhaps depression? No, I think it is just reality combined with frustration.

I do know that I can't figure this all out today. For now, I'll just settle for a nice dish of chicken and noodles. With any luck, my dish of comfort will be followed by a good night's sleep which will help everything look better in the morning.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I do believe spring is on its way at last

I can't believe I've become one of those writers who've abandoned their blogs for outrageous amounts of time. I'll do better -- I promise! Computer challenges are my primary excuse, but it is also a fact that this very long, cold, and snowy winter did much to wipe out my optimism and my joy of writing. At long last, however, the sun is again shining, green sprouts are tentatively peeking out of the earth, and the snow is melting. It seems spring will come again this year after all. It simply must, because this weekend I started my first seeds of the season.

Several seeds of savoy cabbage have been sown. Also in the mix are some heirloom tomatoes 'Rose' and 'Dutchman.' Last year was such a poor year for tomatoes in general that I felt these varieties deserved a second chance in the garden this season. I also planted two peat pots of 'Marglobe' and one of 'Homestead.' Once everything was put away I discovered a pack of heirloom tomato seeds that must have fallen out of the storage box, 'Fireworks.' As soon as I get a spare second I'll sow some of these as well.

I fell victim to a gardening trend that I labeled "silly" last year -- upside down hanging tomato planters. Our local hardware store had them on sale at a ridiculously cheap price, and I couldn't resist the temptation to give them a try. I think it will be fun to hang a couple of these on a shepherd's crook among my other gardening containers. I've decided to plant cherry or grape tomatoes in these. It will be fun to snack on them while working in the garden. If at the end of the season they prove to be only a silly fad, at least I won't be out a lot of money.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thinking About Thanksgiving

This year will be the first Thanksgiving that the four of us in our immediate family won't be spending the holiday together. We knew this would happen sooner or later, but I guess we've always hoped it would be a lot later.

Our youngest is spending the semester studying abroad in Italy. For the first few weeks it was novel and exciting, but now I find myself really missing her as well as our oldest daughter who lives closer, but still a couple of hours away.

Thanksgiving has always been a fairly simple affair in our family, as members of our extended family have other plans or live far away, and so it is generally just us four. Some years we have invited students from the department where I work to join us, and that has made the day really special. One year, when my husband was unemployed and I was working two jobs, I actually had to work on Thanksgiving Day. My husband and girls made his day extra special by taking on all the tasks of building the feast themselves, and treating me to a wonderful meal when I returned home.

As I think about it, I realize that the only tradition that follows us from year to year is to gather and enjoy the day. We have spent it in different ways. This year, my husband and I will travel to Florida and spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving with my parents. I have wanted to do this for the past four or five years but we've never felt like we could afford the trip or else had trouble getting enough time off work. This year, somehow, it all worked out. After visiting my folks and doing some touristy things we'll return home on Thanksgiving Day. Our oldest will pick us up at the airport and we will celebrate the day by enjoying dinner at a restaurant and then perhaps taking in a movie. I'm hoping we can use Skype to talk with our youngest daughter and feel a bit like we are really all together. Maybe it won't be a traditional Thanksgiving , but then again, maybe it will. After all, we'll be keeping up our tradition of making the most of the day with the circumstances we've been given, and we will be grateful. It's hard to ask for more than that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Walk around Campus

It was such a beautiful fall day that I hurried through my lunch so I could head outside for a walk on campus. First of all, I wanted to get a closer look at a new bronze statue of a horse that was installed near our building. Here's a picture. I'm not sure what I think of it. Actually, that's not true. I really just don't care for it at's sort of creepy. A skeleton horse might be okay this time of year for Halloween, but it is a permanent installation that will be around for years.

On down the street at the vet school are sculptures I can understand and enjoy.

After critiquing the sculptures, I decided to walk through the horticulture garden to see what is still blooming this time of year and that I might want to consider adding to my own gardens. There were some very pleasant surprises. I especially liked the grapeleaf anenome, the bright yellow strawflowers, and the heliotrope which was still attracting butterflies.

The rain is supposed to return tomorrow, so I'm glad I got the chance to enjoy some outside time today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Winding Down

As is to be expected in mid-September, the garden is really winding down. Fortunately, the tomatoes, which were late this year, are putting forth a valiant effort at producing a modest harvest which is quite welcome. My late planting of green beans is also doing very well. The insects don't even seem to have noticed that there is a new crop and so far have left them completely alone. I have one last bright orange Thai melon yet to harvest. Other than that, the garden is pretty much finished.

Even though we really enjoy fresh vegetables all summer, I am not really all that sad to see the garden come to an end for fall. It really is true that to every thing there is a season, and now I am looking forward to the season to rest a bit, then start planning for next year. Truly, I don't think gardening would be as fun if I had to do it all year long.
This was my second season to garden in garden boxes, and once again I have learned a lot that I will apply to next year. The use of trellises with some of my boxes worked very well. My cucumbers and melons grew healthier and were easier to find and harvest by being trained on the trellis. My experiment growing corn turned our very well, too. However, next year I will put two boxes side by side, long ways, so they can support each other and I can grow a bit more corn with extra spacing. This year, the box would tip over once the corn grew tall whenever the water reservoir went dry. This happened several days in a row in late July when the weather was very hot and the corn was very thirsty.
I am still trying to find ways to be able to leave the boxes for more than a day at a time. If the boxes aren't watered daily when the plants are at their peak, the plants really suffer. This means that going away for a weekend is a problem unless someone can be lined up to water the boxes once a day. I am going to have to do some brainstorming this winter to come up with some solutions to this problem.
For now, I am just focusing on enjoying the last of my harvest, and cleaning up the garden boxes as the plants are finished producing. I enjoy garden clean up chores, because I can then look forward to having the boxes ready when I am this spring. To every thing there is a season.