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State of the garden- Sometimes I have to remind myself that it's okay that so much of gardening is experimentation, and failure. Sure, I understand all the basic things, but living in an area with such a high amount of animal traffic always presents problems. One little thing changes, and then suddenly you get destroyed crops. There was the year my old neighbors added crayfish to their pond, which then in turn attracted racoons which ate all my raspberries and and pineapple guavas. Then I moved, and didn't realize racoons were still around, and they waited till the plums were ripe and climbed up the short old tree and ate about two thirds of them. The climbed the bottom of the fig tree and pulled those off as well. Then there was the time a nearby orchard put fences up, and suddenly deer were hungry enough to jump over the dimpled part of the fence where a tree had fallen many years ago. Months of work can get wiped out over night.

This place has no fences and ever present deer, I see them near daily in the yard and they've worn trail like paths between this property and the neighbors, unconnected by fences. They use the creek that's at the bottom of the property as a home base and travel conduit, I think. They present their own problem, but then so does the peacock. I thought I'd learned from last year what he liked to eat, but I was wrong and he ended up eating some of my beans. Then I thought I could beat him by covering my seedlings with plastic lids like a green house- very typically sold with seedling trays. But a single day of blasting heat after a week of cloudy days cooked all my lettuce, mustard and herb starts. Only the uncovered trays survived. I ended up having to put all my trays inside old wire rabbit cages that I had under the house, and flipping over those open plastic lattice-like trays you can use to carry small pots around in. Put over a tray they seem to shield them a little from birds. The jay family that nested in the apple tree last year has taken to pulling squash seeds out of the pots where I had planted them. They were watching me work, so they knew the seeds were in there. Still, things progress. I replanted what I lost, as annoying as it was.

Still though, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to garden in an area where I didn't have to protect every single thing from gophers, deer, racoons, wild rabbits and birds of all types. A lot of times I read things in books or watch something on TV that would never work at all in my area. Like putting anything directly into the ground without wire basket protection. I tried lasagna gardening- which ends up NEVER composting here because there isn't enough heat, plus gets dug into by animals so they can eat your fresh vegetable/fruit scrap compost. At the end of the season, the newspaper was so perfectly preserved it was readable and everything inside had simply dried out. Prefabricated composting bins also similarly don't work, again because of the heat. They end up as compost preserving units, drying out each individual piece until you have a giant pile of perfectly preserved dried food scraps filling the whole thing, possibly riddled with black widows. Adding things with nitrogen just doesn't help, even animal manure just dries out. I've tried two different systems, and it's the same result. Only the giant pile/tarp method or the flattened black plastic bag seem to work. Then there are all pinterest pins of great garden ideas that I know from experience have problems with them- tires that attract and harbor black widows, potato towers with straw that attract black widows and mice, great pest prevention that isn't great, etc etc. I sometimes wish information on the down sides of any given method were more readily given out, and what to do in specific situations so you don't have to find out this way. I don't know why I find it frustrating, but I do.

My seedling area currently looks like the equivalent of a lawn with busted cars all over it. I've never seen anyone else putting their trays inside a wire cage, but nothing else is working right now, and I don't have an actual greenhouse, so.....yes. It will just look super redneck. Gardening on the cheap isn't always super attractive, I guess. But I'm learning to make food, dammit! I'm determined to grow so many things this year.

The Garden

I've gotten rather behind on it again, or at least so it feels. It rained so late this year, I got things off to a very slow start because I don't have a green house. What I do have started though, is:

Herbs- Fernleaf Dill, Long Island Mammoth Dill, Anise, Genovese Basil, Summer Savory, Broad Leaf Sage, Chives, Flat Leaf Italian Giant Parsley

Greens- Green de Bellevue Sorrel, Loose Leaf Lettuce blend, Rocky Top lettuce blend, Ruby Lettuce, Forellenschluss, Flashy Butter Oak, Red Romaine, Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach, Georgia Southern Collards, Red Russian Kale, Lacinato Kale, Savoy Cabbage, Big Stem Mustard, Red Giant Mustard, Southern Giant Curled Mustard, Florida Broadleaf Mustard, Tendergreen Mustard

Beans- Golden Wax, Tenderbush, Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean, Trail of Tears, Haricot Tarbais, Fin de Bagnols, Calima Bush, Good Mother Stollard, California Black Eyed Cowpea (honorary bean)

Summer Squash -Grey Zucchini, Green Bush Zucchini, Green Bush Marrow Zucchini, Lebanese White Bush Marrow, Yellow Crookneck, Rugosa Fruilana, Ronde de Nice, Tondo Scruro di Piacenza, Early Summer Golden Crookneck Ellie’s Round (1 seed gathered from one of my sister's round squash, which was extra prolific and slightly flattened like a pumpkin for some reason) as well as some zuc and crookneck seeds I gathered which were open pollinated, meaning what I actually get will be a surprise. But I like those.

Winter Squash- Marina Di Chioggia, Galeux D’Eysines, Sugar Pie Pumpkin, Knife River Squash, Sweet Meat Squash, Seminole Pumpkin, Rouge Vif d'Etampes, Buttercup, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, Chiriman 5 gathered squash seeds

Used as both - Kamo Kamo

Cucumbers -Straight Eight, Marketmore, Armenian (honorary cucumber, secretly a melon)

Other- Ronde de Valence Eggplant, Purple Artichokes

Hopefully, those links will all work for the curious. And that is about as close to a gardening journal as I'll get. For the squash, I mostly planted one of each except for the crooknecks and sugar pies. It's kind of overwhelming, but there's still more stuff to start, herbs, lettuce, onions, beans and lemon cucumbers, and more stuff to be direct sown like beets and carrots and radishes. The way I try to keep it reasonable to get all the seeds is to use each packet for as long as I can, so I use each over several years. Then my sister and I trade seeds and I keep an eye out for the cheapest seeds. While many 'serious' gardeners look down on them, I will try out the 20 cent seed packets I see. They haven't actually been bad. Some of the herbs don't have as good germination rates, but I just start more of them. For the price difference, it doesn't really matter. I use so little seed that I can still use them for a couple years anyway. So, I start making lists of what I want over the winter, and what I already have, then as soon as the seed packets start to appear in stores I buy the cheap stuff first and then fill in the harder to find stuff from local specialty places and the internet. It works out okay. But somehow I always end behind whatever schedule I think I'm going to have!

Apr. 17th, 2014

Hey! I'm not dead, and I'm trying to get back into the habit of posting again, even though I never really have much news except what is going on in the garden/yard. Today I spent most of my outdoors time today trying to prune apple trees, removing large dead limbs. It's really late for that, but thanks to our very late rains everyone had to prune late this year. I think my handsaw needs sharpening though, it was tough work. I tried a new kind of sealant, stuff you spray out of a can. I thought this had to work better than painting it on out of the bucket, but it's still a work in progress. The first time I got some on my hand, which required quite a lot of soap and washing to get off. The second time I said, very well slightly drippy can, I'll just put a plastic bag over my hand when I spray you. Take that! But then I was spraying it on a cut just above my head, and the wind picked that moment to shift. I put my hand up in time but it still blew through my fingers and managed to get my face! So both my hand and face were speckled black until scrubbed thoroughly.

Sadly these trees seem to have been neglected for many years, so many of them are turning out to be hollow in parts of the trunk and in some of the large branches! I'm not quite sure what series of events in this orchard's past has caused this, but the trees need serious rehabilitation, and I think at least three need to go bye-bye and get replaced with new trees. The drought was a little too hard on them, one is all the way dead-dead and the other two appear on their way out. One of the almost dead ones was the Golden Delicious, which worked as a pollinator for the Gravensteins, so hopefully bees will fly in from other nearby pollinator trees and I'll still get some apples off those. I still can't tell what some of the varieties are. Some of the apples are eating quality but some are so old that the tiny apples taste mostly like sugared tannin, and I can't really tell by looking at them what they're supposed to be.

I know I don't post much any more

But I saw this doll painting link and immediately thought of lenine2. So, lenine, if you haven't seen it, here are some dolls that someone has repainted. I'm especially impressed with the Hermione, Arwen and Aragorn ones. 

Ancient Meme

I was going to post something else, but then lj asked me if I wanted to restore draft and what should I find but an ancient meme, most all of the way finished. So, ancient meme, here you go.  

NPR's top 100 SF/Fantasy books. Bold if you've read, italicise ones you fully intend to read, underline if it's a book/series you've read part but not all of.

And so...Collapse )

tail of the rat

It's been a long time since I've posted on lj regularly. Things have been crazy, and I've also been on plurk, which seems to sap the desire to post on lj for everyone who uses it, even though the formats are so different. That and I've been sick a lot, which I am, well, getting mightily sick of. I feel rather like I've been hit by a soft rubber hammer made entirely of tired. A really big one. 

But what I meant to post: A small thing. Tonight it is raining torrentially, and I put on a hoodie and rubber boots and went close in the pigeons. There is a rat that has taken to hanging around the cote. She eats the seeds, and when I go in to close up I usually chase her out. I don't know why, really, I've been meaning to trap her in a have a heart trap and move her elsewhere for months. Really, it seems kinda dumb to draw the line there, 'oh, I'm not REALLY letting a rat live in the cote, I kick her out at night when I close up!' But hey, cuts down on the rat poop at least.

Tonight though, she really didn't want to leave. She kept making a chittering noise at me, not aggressive, just very nervous, and held her ground. I stroked the tip of her tail and she moved a little bit but didn't run. So I closed her in with the birds. I know I really shouldn't, but I felt bad because of the weather. She's so cute. I wish I could just take her to vet, have her spayed and given shots. But I can't, so I'll have to somehow suck it up and trap miss very, very cute little rat and find her a new home in a field somewhere near cows. 

edited to add: the set up is weird, but because of predators, the birds are closed up even in a separate part behind sturdy wire. So Miss Rat can only get near the birds, they can't really touch each other unless one of the birds was right up against the side of the wire. 

meme, and I'm not dead!

Okay- I know I haven't posted in a long time. But I'm not dead- and to prove it, here's the accent meme.

Your name and/or username
Where you're from
The following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Orange, Coffee, direction, naturally, aluminium and herbs
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

240K 1:24
“Hi Cren(?) this is Amber. I'm going to ___ now and I will do some of the weird save according to him but ok My name is Amber, we know that, my user name is Primor(?) College. We hopefully also now and the words I'm gonna read are ant, roof, root, wash, oil, theater, ant, salmon, thermos, fire, water, swords, Peter, ruin, criman(?), toilet. You wanna arrange the time post again probably stay image Alvin and my lawyer, coupon, nanny, ___ pajamas, clothe, orange, cosy(?) dress and actually aluminum which a excellent ___ how was that and ok. Why don't you call who used toilet paper in the house. Can you call that chicken(?) bubbly carbonated(?) junk food soda. Jump suit official with shoes and what I see. You could be keep on messing cos I hate people. Ok. What you called me an Kennas(?) ford that open I will shot body on my mind I think it's better disgusting so I don't tangled my fruit that's we're it's done. What do you call your grand parents, are we only have 1 grand parents. I call grandma and then will comprastions(?) that I care groups with you is the groups of heart. When the rain fall and sunny shining that's a sun shy and I changed the TV with remote. Tata”

Auto-Transcribed Voice Post - spoken through SpinVox
 I couldn't sleep so I decided to make myself ramen. I went outside in the dark to pick myself a piece of squash to put in it. Yes, my ramen habits horrify many, but back when I was a kid, my mom always used to put a ton of vegetables into our ramen. Not that we were bad about eating them, but she really believed in stuffing vegetables into kids whenever possible, and my sister and I loved ramen, so in went the vegetables. She thought it wasn't nutritious enough for a meal unless there were enough vegetables. Now I eat it that way habitually.

Anyway, out of the corner of my eyes I saw a shadow move under the apple tree and my brain went....hey wait a second...was that shadow....striped?? Skunks do come in the yard sometimes, but I hadn't seen any around lately. The way the flashlight moves in my hand as I walk means the shadows jump a little bit anyway. But I came around the tree and swept the light around to see what was going on, and what should the circle of light land on, but a skunk, all hyped up and starting to do the skunk dance with its tail up in the air about 20 feet away from me. Instead of running away back into the rosemary it had come closer to me. I quickly swung the light off it since this was apparently a spooky skunk and decided to start moving back away from it....and while this did stop the skunk dance, it made the skunk go running back the direction I came in, towards the door! I was getting visions in my head of being trapped outside my house in the middle of the night by a jumpy skunk. Fortunately though, it slunk under the porch and was either well away or content in hiding by the time I returned, so I didn't get blitzed, which was nice. 

It was funny though how my brain went straight to cheerful nature channel narration mode when I got startled. 'Don't panic, skunks are not aggressive and unlikely to spray despite posturing! Remain calm and move back slowly!' Fortunately, it is true. 

Oh, and not only that, but when I actually got to the squash I interrupted a gopher in the process of carrying off one of my round zucchinis. It had chewed it off the vine and was getting ready to parse it up and take it down the hole when I caught it. I picked it up expecting it to be missing chunks, but I got it just in time. At the time I was happy, but now I feel strangely bad. There's about a million of them out this year. Rufus the cat has discovered that despite getting fed by people he can still catch gophers and eat them- and since this discovery he's blimped up like a cat manatee. So much for restricting his kibble. At this point I think I'd have to stop feeding him altogether to get him slimmed back down. 

book meme

 1. Grab a book near you.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

I said I’d be there with her, and it would be quick, and then we could both go out somewhere and have a couple of dozen extremely potent drinks, and pretend the past was smoother and kinder than flawless recall permitted us to misremember it.
     And the last of the limousines was waiting, and we let the chauffer hold the door for us, and we got in and went off to Jimmy’s baronial mansion to hear the reading of the will.
      And Kerch, left behind in the rain, went with us.

See? I'm not dead. I just posted a meme. Not that there isn't other stuff to talk about, but. Later. I'll post something substantial later! Also, how is it I don't have book icons? 


An observation

 Okay, sure there's plenty of stuff I could be posting about, but for now, I just want to drop off an observation that's been kicking around my head lately. So, for the past...well, more than a year now I've been on a restricted diet to try to help my arthritis/weirdo immune issues. Nothing in the belladonna family, no tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, chayote, and various other new world fruits like ground cherry that don't bear listing as they aren't common in my area.

Anyway! For the vast most part, people's reaction to my diet is something along the lines of 'man, that sucks to be you, I could never do that, if it were me I'd just live with it and let my joints go. It's not worth it.'  And jokingly (about the really strict ones with no gluten) 'If I had to have one of those diets? I'd just go ahead and die.' AND YET, this being said, again, for the vast most part, people have a really negative perception of morbidly obese people. Those same people will say 'I could never let myself get that big. If it were me, I'd stop at X weight and then I'd get serious about losing. How can they stand looking like that?'  But even more than that, people are very frequently supportive of not just medical weight loss, but weight loss for cosmetic reasons. If the person is totally healthy, BMI is okay, but they want to look thinner so they look more attractive, as long as they're not getting down into stick and bones territory, most people are okay with that. If the person just looks a little thick. So basically, cosmetic fat is actually considered worse than a medical problem that causes physical discomfort. People are more okay with someone losing weight to alter their appearance than they are for a medical issue. And frankly, I think a calorie restricted diet is much worse than an item restricted one. I can still eat deserts. I don't have to go to sleep hungry. But people look at it and they think they couldn't do it. They're also generally less supportive, like at restaurants they'll be like, 'oh right, you can't have that, sucks to be you!'. I've never heard anyone say that to a fat person on a diet. Everyone falls all over themselves to congratulate them. Nobody is at a restaurant and says  to a 350 lb woman ordering soup, 'man, I couldn't live without pizza, if it were me, I'd just eat 4 slices at a time and be fat'. 

Finally, the other thing I've decided, is that when most people look at some really fat 400 lb person on a scooter cart, and tell themselves they could never be fat, they are lying liar pantses. Most people actually have piss poor self control. I think they want to think they would never do that, but when they're confronted with someone like me or some other non-hugely obese person with a medical issue, they can actually identify with us. They could see themselves having a medical issue. And when they picture that being them, they think, oh, I couldn't actually do that. And, most people don't. For their heart, their cholesterol, for the 25 extra lbs, most people just don't. Yeah, there's definitely some people who are fat cause they're compulsive over-eaters, you see them loading up the cart with piles of chips and candy and soda, they can eat a whole pizza at one go. But there's a lot more for whom heaviness is just genetic, and looking at the crap a lot of thin people eat, I'm pretty sure if they lost that genetic lottery they'd be the ones getting fat instead. However, it still seems like society still attaches these positive characteristic labels to thin people. Like they're more self-disciplined than fat people. And after more than a year on a diet I think I say, no, no they're not. Like how people will say 'I'm a man trapped in a woman's body!' I think a lot of thin people are fat people on the inside, their body just isn't displaying it yet. And they're not understanding of my diet, dammit. 

/tired, disjointed nonsensical rant over