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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

About that Garden

It's been awhile since I posted a garden update, and the change out there is significant.
We had a bumper crop of cucumbers and made what seemed to be bushels of them into pickles. I have pulled those up now. Except for the last batch of cinnamon pickles that will be done in a couple of days, we're pretty much over the pickle-making process. I do have to say, these were tasty cucumbers to slice up for supper, so I'm thinking the pickles will be delicious.
The green beans didn't do much at all. (Thanks, Leslie, for sharing yours!) Neither have the bell peppers.
The lone surviving jalapeno plant is doing well and I'll leave that as long as possible.
Carrots were planted late, so it'll be a few weeks before we harvest those. They look great, though.
We enjoyed lots of lettuce for fresh salads. Until the grasshoppers arrived. What was left has since bolted with the heat wave we had last week.
The herbs did great, and we'll be using most of them for several weeks yet. The dill, however, is done and is going to seed. It's also full of yellow swallowtail caterpillars. :o)
The forward portion of this update photo is the tomato bed. Eleven tomato plants in a 4 x 8 foot raised bed. What was I thinking?
Greg helped me put a light fence along the one side of the bed, and I tied branches onto that so I wouldn't have to dig so much to find the ripe fruit. Unfortunately that big storm we had a few weeks ago flattened the tomato bed - not breaking the stems, just laying everything flat. The tomato plants are so heavy with fruit, I can't pick the fence back up. Hopefully Greg will help me do that this coming weekend, and we can brace it so I can get to all the yummy goodness that is ripening out there. Oh, and next year we'll use a heavy fence with real fenceposts that will withstand the summer storms.
This year was the first with raised beds. There have been pros and cons, and once this year's garden gets cleared out, I'll make a plan for next year. In the meantime, the focus will be on tomatoes. Many, many tomatoes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

He's a Game Player

A couple of weeks ago when Wyatt was here, I started teaching him to play checkers. He caught on fairly quickly and we had a good time. Apparently someone was feeling left out... At first, Tucker tried to lay on the board, and he kept stealing the same red checker. He tucked in under his chest and laid on it and I had to dig it out. I kept nudging him off the board, and we'd continue playing.
Soon, he stayed off the board, but just barely. He watched attentively, easing back when I made my moves. Then Wyatt reached across the board for his "king". With no warning, Tucker began smacking the back of Wyatt's hand with both front paws!
Of course, that move startled us and kind of frightened Wyatt. I laughed, made sure Wyatt was okay, and petted Tuck's head so he'd not feel left out. I made my move, then explained to Wyatt what he could do with his pieces. He reached out to move his checker, and again, Tucker swatted his hand away!
This happened again the next move. Pretty soon, Wyatt didn't want to play anymore - "Tucker keeps smacking me!" - so I moved the cat away from our game so we could finish. We barely cleaned up the checkers and the cat was lying across the entire board, keeping it safe from the little boy. :o)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Baby Love

Like the song says:

my baby love

Been missing ya,

Ooh, miss kissing ya"

We had Miss Reese here last week for several days and she was an angel the entire time. Something about a baby's smile and belly laugh that is good medicine for everyone in the room.

While she was here, she survived her first tornado siren and severe thunderstorm. We had to scoop her out of bed in the dead of night and drive to Greg's parents' house a block away in driving rain. She never flinched - slept through the entire drama.

One afternoon/evening she spent with her cousins, playing and laughing and getting worn out. :o)

There was lots of cuddling, rocking to sleep, nibbling toes, and kissing of her neck that happened, too. We loved having her here, and miss her terribly!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Last Summer Day

Today was the last Tuesday of the summer that I had the kids since they all three start school on Thursday. We had such a fun day!
A good part of the morning was spent working in the garden, emptying pots and baskets of scraggly flowers, sweeping the sidewalk, and gathering piles of weeds I'd left around the back yard. They each earned a dollar for their labor, so they made sure they worked hard enough to get paid. :o)
Break time meant sidewalk chalk - lots of sidewalk chalk. So much so that they all had to strip down before coming inside, and I tossed their clothes in the washing machine.
After getting changed, we threw together some PB&Js and headed out for a picnic. Instead of eating here in the yard, though, we climbed into the car and drove the few miles to Stromsburg's park. My thought was that we'd have lunch, then possibly swim in the baby pool (if there were no babies there). They had other plans. As soon as they saw the big swimming pool, they would not even entertain the idea of just wading in the small one. So I took the plunge (so to speak) and as soon as the pool opened, we were heading to the locker rooms to get a shower "before entering pool area". I didn't have my suit, so just sat on the side of the pool with my feet in the water, and watched the kids turn into fishies before my eyes.
They had so much fun, and it was great to watch them go from timid and cautious to comfortable and confident. They'd not ever been to a big public swimming pool before and loved having the room to play. By the time we left, Wyatt was jumping off the side, and both Wyatt and Grace were putting their face into the water. Garett was pretending to be a shark, chasing the others back and forth across the pool.
Of course, no one wanted to leave when it was time to go, me included. Now I know that next summer we'll make this a regular activity. I look forward to it as much as they do! :o)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Feel "The Force"

One day a couple of weeks ago just Wyatt came for the morning. Leslie dropped him off with me in the parking lot where I work. As he jumped out of the van, I noticed two light sabers hooked on the waistband of his shorts. I asked if he was expecting an Imperial invasion and should I be on the lookout for Stormtroopers?

Later that morning we finished up our third board game. It was time get our bodies moving, but alas, it was raining outside. Wyatt invited me to have a light saber fight. :o) Sorry, I said, we can't play light sabers in the house. That is an outside game.

Please, Aunt Tammy?

No, Honey, it's an outside game.

We can just play right here in the living room... please?

(Sigh - how do I say no to him?)

We popped in the DVD of the very first original Star Wars movie (the best one in Greg's opinion, and the only one he owns) and selected the light saber fight scenes.

Thus began the re-enactment of Luke's light saber training and Obi Wan dueling it out with Darth Vader. We had spins and jumps and chased each other around the room. In the house.
On the furniture.
He kept saying I was Darth and he was Obi Wan. I told him I preferred to be Princess Leia. I mean, she was all over those light sabers in this movie. Okay, she wasn't, but I don't look like Darth Vader. Do I? Okay, I don't look like Princess Leia, either, but this is fantasy play, so go with it.

He was a worthy opponent and our duel ended in a draw. We both lost body parts - you know those light sabers are sharp - but neither of us gave in.

Fortunately there was no one there to take video of this amazing battle, but I do have a couple of "after" photos. We were both winners. :o)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

After the Fury

Yesterday morning, shortly after 3:00, we were hit with an extremely strong thunderstorm. Straight-line winds measured at 78 mph caused major damage to the trees in our little town. This one was directly across the street from our house. It was planted just a couple of years before we moved here, so it was about 30 years old. Lots of the trees that were lost were much older. This is the extent of damage we had in our yard, and it's an easy fix. Greg will just nail the lattice back up. The lawn furniture in the front yard was untouched.
I don't know specifically what woke us up, but we both jumped out of bed at the same moment, 3:23. We lost power about 10 minutes later, then the tornado whistle blew. Fun times.
The power was back on by the time I got home from work about 8:30 a.m., and by 9 or so the tree across the street was gone.
There are drag marks on the streets all over town where tractors and chains were used to drag huge limbs to the dump. Chain saws buzzed all day long. The clean-up will continue as more damaged trees are cut down before they fall down.