Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Growing Challenge: Pluck. Cook. Eat.

Have you ever noticed that food you have to wait for tastes so much better than readily available food? Is it the anticipation? Is it the sweet taste of success? Is it all in my head?

I may not know the answer to those questions, but without a doubt the 16 French green beans I harvested and ate on Sunday night were some of the best green beans I've ever had.
Haricot vert!

Boiled for just a few minutes and then basted with butter, minced basil, sea salt and black pepper, my eight (I had to give Eric his fair share.) beans were simply divine. And they squeaked as we chewed them! Now I just have to wait for more to ripen for harvest since Caitlin and the twins might want us to share next time.

Sixteen beans. A short walk into the garden. Careful foot placement to avoid crushing vines that have escaped the beds and are running rampant in the aisles.




I now find myself wondering how much more I can grow in pots on the deck. It's becoming a jungle out there!
Top row from left: Purple Petra basil, French tarragon, holy basil
Bottom row: French thyme, rosemary, stevia

Maybe instead of more ornamental plants in the back border I should consider giving over space to food plants? Decisions...decisions!

I've started thinking about fall crops, which seems bizarre considering that it's late July. Fall seems so very far away and yet if I don't start seeds now for carrots, parsley, peas and lettuce, they won't be ripe before frost comes and kills everything D-E-A-D. Is there room on my deck for yet another pot? There certainly is none left in the raised beds.
Overflowing squash bed.

View back the other way. Note that the aisles have been over run by squash and melon vines.

They're so full they're shading out the potatoes I jammed in between the squashes and melons, poor things! Next year I think I'm going to try them in trash bins or big pots. I want to try out succession planting, too, but I'm afraid my beds aren't big enough. Maybe I won't want as many squash next year and then the beds will be big enough?

Who knows?!

I harvest a zucchini or two every day now and we eat them most every night.
Unfertilized zukes. Note the female flower attached to the future zuke is not open yet.

I almost want them to go insane with the zuke production just so I can try out some recipes I've found, although they have been fabulous just sauteed with butter, homemade Italian seasoning, garlic and sea salt. Then again, isn't everything better with those four ingredients?

I'm enjoying watching the watermelons,
Check this watermelon out just one week ago.
winter squash
Spaghetti squash.
and pumpkins
Pie pumpkin. Mmmm! Pie!

get bigger every day. I like to tiptoe through the garden and peek under the leaves just to see what I can find. I hope I'll be able to find the cucumbers when they're ripe!

I'm still waiting impatiently for the tomato harvest to come in.
Caspian pink.

Volunteer 'Pop-In' tomato growing in a pot on the deck.

Tiny harvest: zucchini and Stupice (red), Snow White (yellow), Sun Gold (orange) tomatoes.

They're so tall now that they're over my head!
Tomatoes looming overhead.

Tying them up is getting harder and harder. I am longing for a caprese salad of my own making. I still haven't made any pesto yet, but that may be something I do tomorrow.
Basil: pre-pesto.

Tiger swallowtail butterfly enjoying the 'Heather Queen' agastache.

"Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I will plant it, pick it, weed it (Add pictures to this post...) tomorrow!"
-- Scarlett O'Hatchet

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Travels with Hatchet: Sleepless in Dublin

Yet another installment from the Way Back Machine, this is an email about my second trip to Dublin.

July 11, 2000.

Sleepless in Dublin

How are you supposed to know the difference between happenstance and the Universe warning you of something? Even though what might be subtle warnings are occurring, at what point do you consider it to be ENOUGH and that you really SHOULDN'T take that flight? Is the Universe into subtleties or blatant warnings, anyway?

Fact: Must go to Dublin, Ireland for 2 weeks for work.
  • Coincidence or Warning? I start feeling sick - nauseous, headaches, backaches, feverish. I go anyway. I've got a job to do.
  • Coincidence or Warning? As we drive to the airport a traffic jam appears out of no where in the middle of the morning. Not rush hour, not lunch hour, and there's no construction. We turn around and go to the airport on an alternate route.
  • Coincidence or Warning? There's a huge line for the first class check in. Normally there's NEVER a huge line for first class. My boarding time creeps nearer...
  • Coincidence or Warning? On the second leg of my flight, from Atlanta to Shannon, Ireland (Why Atlanta? I dunno, it's a Delta thing.) a guy has a heart attack on board and we have to make an emergency landing in Gander, New Foundland, at night, in the rain.


So I'm here, and I'm exhausted - all of that landing and taking off isn't conducive to sleeping. Now I'm late and I have a meeting on-site. Rush rush rush. Shower. Taxi. Drive drive drive. I arrive at the site and can't think of anyone that the guard can find on-line to let me in. Fortunately someone from the help desk arrived that knew my contact's name and was willing to sign me in. I go to the meeting. On three hours sleep I'm not much of a conversationalist. : ) I have a glassy eyed stare and zone every time I lose concentration. The meeting begins. Words are bandied about. Conversation abounds. Arguments occur, heated words that I don't understand are flung about me. The word "pedantic" goes past. I mentally award the speaker $10. I comment every now and then when I mentally surface from my fog. Like a whale I slowly lumber up from the depths of my inertia and make a comment that seems significant at the time.

I look around the room at the people and notice that the women are all striking. I've decided they must be out of work models. Irish, Italian, Spanish and French. The dark hair, blue eyes and pale pale skin of the Irish. These people don't tan, I think, they just burn. The French and Italians have very expressive faces, eyes, hands. Apparently they've put the entire Italian help desk off in a corner of this huge room because they're too noisy to sit near the others. The men are all ordinary looking except for the Italian. He looks kinda...pouty. Very GQ. I listen to the accents and wonder what others think of mine. Does anyone like the American accent? I haven't got a NY accent, or a Colorado accent, I'm sorta flat, all American. Hard to place.

I'm allowed to nap before dinner. Apparently that was a bad idea because I couldn't sleep that night, or any of the nights that follow. It's daylight here until around 10:30 or 11 at night. My brain has decided that I can't possibly be sleepy if the sun just set 2 hours ago... I only really get to sleep right before the alarm goes off. Why is that? It never seems to fail. : )

On the weekend we go to the Botanical Gardens, the Zoo, Malahide Castle...tourist traps abound. Can you imagine having a house (It wasn't a REAL castle - just a family mansion with turrets on it. Enough like a castle for ME - I imagine the heating bills are enormous.) that had been in your family for 800 years? Can you imagine being able to TRACK your family for 800 years? Everything is so OLD here. There's a pub - the oldest pub in Ireland - that was established in 1198. ELEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY EIGHT. Damn! The Americas hadn't even been discovered yet...Buildings are older than the entire culture I come from. It boggles the mind. The weather is rather mind boggling as well - it's summertime and yet it's cold. Overcast. Rainy. Sunny. Overcast. Rainy. Sunny. It's consistent in its inconsistency. No wonder the people are all so pale.

All kinds of plants grow here - palm trees and fuchsias are in the same yards as roses and butterfly bushes. There appears to be only one season here - sort of an eternal spring. The only thing that changes is the amount of light. And yet the women run around in light summer weight clothing - the cool ones, the glam ones - prepared to party. I feel cold watching them run around in cute little sandals and those horrid shoes from the 70's with the massive soles. Stylish and hip. Everyone drinks heavily and smokes heavily and parties long and late. How they make it to work coherent the next morning is a mystery.

It's all a mystery to me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ten Months

The main problem with having kids is the unrelenting monotony of every day chores.

A typical day:
  1. Wake to crying (Logan). Might be 5:30 am. Might be 7:30 am. Hell, just for grins it might be 3:30 am and then again at 5:30 and 7:30. Who knows? The small people with the tiny tummies, that's who!
  2. Nurse crying babies back to sleep. Unless it's 7:30 am. In that case, call sleeping husband in to help change diapers and then trundle downstairs for breakfast.
  3. Chop up food into baby bite-sized pieces.
  4. Throw food at ravening mini-horde. Repeat as angry, goat-like sounds continue (Logan). Until, of course, the tenor of the goat-like mewling sounds changes into "Get me outta dis chair!" sounds. In which case...
  5. Remove from highchairs.
  6. Hose down children.
  7. Change diapers.
  8. Set twins down in protected area for play time. Protected from them and for them. The only thing missing is padding on the walls or perhaps helmets for the Not Too Steady On Their Feet crowd. Tiny drunkards, I'm telling you. Maybe the apple juice is fermented?
  9. Clean up highchairs.
  10. Sweep floor. Are those two actually eating the food or just wearing/sitting in it? Here's where having a rental dog would come in handy.
  11. Tenor of noises in protected area is changing from Enjoying Poking Sibling to Needing To Nap (Logan. Are you sensing a pattern here?). Remove from play area.
  12. Change diapers.
  13. Nurse.
  14. Put down for naps. Ignore crying (Emma. Thought there was a pattern, didn't ya?) until either they're actually both asleep or it becomes obvious that someone needs a little more milk.
  15. Put away previous night's dishes.
  16. Wash dishes.
  17. Discover dishes are multiplying on kitchen table, countertop and assorted other flat surfaces. Where the heck are all of these dirty pots coming from?! Freakin' dish fairies!
  18. Somewhere in there around step 3, manage to make and eat something and get eldest daughter to eat. Or complain about food choices and eat. Or complain about lack of food choices and eat. Just eat already!
Just as you start to think that you can now get to that Oh So Important Project (Paying bills, working, cleaning, laundry, showering?, weeding, reading emails, strolling through your garden lustfully ogling green tomatoes, etc.) the crying starts up again.

Repeat steps 1-18 again, at least 3 more times during the day.

OMG! Where are all of these freakin' dishes coming from?!

Um. Oh! Hello! Twins. You want to know about them, don't you?

Yes. Let's see.

The twins are mostly sleeping through the night. Most some nights we get to sleep from 11 pm until 7 am and that is wonderful. Absolutely incredible! This sleeping thing: I highly recommend it. Then there are the other type of nights that involve waking up at 3 am and nursing again and those are a lot less than wonderful. A. Lot. Less.

The twins are both standing and balancing on their own a lot. They get great glee out of swaying gently back and forth while gripping a sippy cup in one hand and a fistful of my skin/shirt/hair in the other. Tiny drunks. I'm telling you! We've tried having them walk to the other parent or Caitlin or to a random assortment of friends and relatives, but so far they just sort of lunge towards the second person and then fall to their knees and crawl over. So I guess we'll just have to wait a little longer for walking. Soon though...soon.

Pretty soon. Some day. Ayup.

Babbling continues and is cute. We are somewhat convinced that they know who Daaah-deee is and that I'm Mom-mom-mom, but they're keeping any data on additional words very close to their tiny convex chests. No actual solid evidence that they say "Caitlin" or "kitty" or "Fooooood!", but we're always on the lookout for language development. In the meantime, we continue to work on Baby Sign Language and we keep repeating the signs for "more", "all done", "food", and "milk" whenever we have two hands free to do so. Logan responds to the sign for "all done" by reaching his out and up to me to be removed from his highchair (See step 5, above.). Clearly he understands me. The communication breakdown is all on my end. Where's my translator?!

Emma has started shaking her head no. She doesn't do it all of the time, just kind of randomly. I think she's checking to make sure I'm paying attention. I was offering her more (sign) food (sign) the other night and she shook her tiny head. Startled, I checked in by bringing the food closer to her mouth.

"Are you sure? More food?" Head shake with lips pressed tightly together.

Okay then! Pointing and head shaking. Genius?


Emma has also been a lot more confident around other people recently. She went right to Misty and Lee when they were over visiting. Perhaps it was because Misty smells like milk. Perhaps it was because Misty has a Oliver and thus Emma considers her "safe" or "domesticated". Whatever it is, Emma took right to her. She also really likes Aunt Jenni (Who babysat the twins, Caitlin and her two boys last night and let us go see The Dark Knight. Woo!). The feeling appears to be mutual.
"Dis our Aunty Jenni. She let us stay up late and eat Cheerios. Yay!"

Jenni, Cousin A and Emma.

Logan is still a massive flirt and still does the smile and head-duck thing. Meltingly sweet!
Logan practices his heart melting looks on Jenni.
She immediately offers to babysit again. Score!

Both twins eat a wide range of food now, which is very nice, although they did both turn up their noses at my zucchini. Phooey! See if I share!

I can't believe we're only 2 months away from the big One Year mark. It doesn't feel like it's been 10 months, but at the same time, with the serious lack of sleep my time sense has been completely hosed. It seems as if we're either getting into a nice groove or as if the additional sleep has made everything easier to deal with. Perhaps it's some of each?

"Zoom! Zoom! Maybe dey let me drive when I one? I bettah praktiss."

In short: life is good. Now in Ten Month Old Flavor!

Friday, July 25, 2008

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bar...err...Pub

Yet another installment from the Way Back Machine (aka Eric's archived mail), here is an email from my business traveling days. Warning! What you are about to read will tell you that clearly, I'm a goofball. Oh and it's a really long story. Get a cuppa and have a seat!

April 15, 2000.

And then there was Dublin...

After a 14 hour flight - oh wait. There's an anecdote in-between the leaving and the arriving.

So it's almost time for my flight and I am walking through the British Airways lounge (these places are really nice, by the way - open bar, snacks, showers, computer connections...), when a guy stares at me funny and begins to speak in Spanish. Suddenly he switches to English and asks me in a very American accent:

"Excuse me, are you an American?"
Startled at this, I stop walking and laugh. "Yes, actually. Does it show?" Must be a lucky guess, everyone else seems to think I'm Colombian or something.
"Well, no. Is your name Victoria?" he smiles, embarrassed.
"Nope, sorry!"
"Oh, you look just like this woman I met 3 months ago..." Probably my second cousin. I seem to look like everyone's second cousin. Except Eric's.
"Nope, sorry. Not me!"

I smile, and take off to get to my plane. After many minutes I get onto the plane, go to my seat and would you believe? The guy that thought I was Victoria is in my seat!

"We meet again." I say. He looks up startled. "And this time, you're in my seat."

He figures it out, apologizes and winds up in the middle seat. Of course, I get his story. Did I ever tell you that I have an amazing ability to get the life story out of people I come in contact with on very short notice? I don't TRY to, it just works out that way. I'm certain it's a +5 or +10 advantage (gaming geek talk, if you don't get it, never mind). He's very interesting and his name is Allan. We ascertain that I'm really not Victoria. He's been trying to get to London for 36 hours and has been on, and off, 5 planes in that time. Each one broke down in a strange and vague manner. Very Odd. We chat, we eat, we discuss movies, we read/watch movies and sleep. Business class going overseas is very nice.

Twelve hours (with 4 hours of sleep) later, we land in London's Gatwick airport. The absolute worst airport I've even been in for trying to figure out how to get around in! Even though the signs are in English, I don't get it. Finally I make it to the right location, get frisked by a female security guard, even though I didn't set the alarm off and have my computer bag thoroughly checked. I should have this guy come look for spare change in your couches...He'd make a fortune in lost earrings and small change, I'm certain. I get on the plane, I fall into a fitful sleep. Across the aisle, I notice a young blonde woman looking as exhausted as I feel. I smile at her in tired understanding Two hours later - Ireland! Exit the plane, discover that what they consider spring isn't very warm in Dublin and that none of my clothes are up to the task. I determine that I'm an idiot but will have to make do with what I have. We all go to collect our luggage. As we do so, the young lady says hello. We begin to chat.

Her name is Susie and she's from Kalamazoo, Michigan, here on business for a company called Stryker [Ed. Susie! If you're out there reading, say hi in the comments! How crazy would that be, eh?!]. Something about surgical supply, artificial hips and whatnot. Her work is actually in Limerick, but she's come to see Dublin over the weekend. We discuss what I'm doing there and that neither one of us has plans for the evening. She seems incredibly personable. Almost like a somewhat older version of my younger sister. We decide we should hang together. We get a cab together and she decides to see if she can get a room in my hotel, since hers is even farther out from Dublin. There are no rooms available in Dublin. Since she had offered me space on her floor in case I didn't have a hotel room, I felt strangely bound to reciprocate and offer her a bed if there are two in my room and she can't find a room. Her hotel situation sounds far more nebulous than mine. Turns out that they don't have any rooms available and that my room does have a second bed in it. Suddenly, I have a roommate. [Ed. To this day, that was one of the craziest things I'd ever done: hook up with a strange girl in a foreign land to go sightseeing.]

That's right boys. I managed to pick up a cute, young blonde, an hour and a half after arriving in Dublin and took her back to my room. I've still got it! ; >

We hit the showers (separately! it's not that kind of a relationship!). Aahhhh! A shower! Call a cab and then wander around the premises. Very nice. Very grand. When I was asked where I wanted to stay, my contact asked me if I wanted quiet or in the city. I went with quiet. Next time, I'll go with the city...Quiet was nice, but we kept going into the city so it quickly became silly of me to have stayed so far outside of it. By the time we get in, all the shops are closed. It's not tourist season yet, so everything closes early. We have dinner - Italian. Apparently it's all the rage in Ireland now - Italian cooking. Thousands of miles from home and I'm still eating the same food! We talk - a LOT - about all kinds of things. We bond further. We watch people as they go by. Very DRUNK people. Turns out there was a huge game and the Welsh have won? Lost? I'm not clear, but everyone is happy and drunk. We wander around, looking to get into a pub but they're closed. At eleven?!! Old British laws, still on the books, make the pubs close down at 11 at night so as to keep the Irish from becoming corrupt drunkards. In response, they open the pubs early - around lunchtime - so drinking starts early and goes long. And if you make it in before 11, they'll draw the curtains and keep serving for along as an hour or so after closing, but we miss the deadline. We continue our journey.

More walking, more watching. We are now in search of a dance bar. We stand in line for 20 minutes and watch the clubbing girls go past. In summer weight dresses, sandals and no jackets. I'm freezing and think they're insane. Just as I've decided that the music for this club we're waiting to get into is lame, we hear that they are now closed to the public and they're only letting those in with private invitations. Well! Off we go again. More walking, more people watching. Another club is also "closed". They're being choosy we're told, but not being in the mood for it, we move on. We go to a coffee house and talk more. It's getting very late now and we decide it's time to head back to the hotel and get some sleep. It's now 2AM. I'm running on 4 hours of sleep and have been awake since 8AM London time...We go to find a public phone [Ed. In the days before absolutely everyone carried a cell phone.], in order to call our driver - Peter. They aren't accepting money. I try using my calling card, but that doesn't work either. Hmm. This could be bad. Across the street from us is a dance bar with GOOD music coming out of it. Let's go over there and see if they've got a phone! We go. We knock upon the purple door. The bouncer looks at the two of us and asks if we really think they're still open. We attempt to explain the situation and how I've a calling card, can we please use the phone?

"This phone doesn't take calling cards. Sorry."
"Wait!" We explain the situation a little more clearly. We're waiting for our ride....OOPS! Wrong thing to say. Over there that means sex...Susie rephrases while the doorman pauses a bit, stunned. I explain, slowly, using small words, that the public phones are all broken, and that I have money, can I please use the phone to call our cab so we can go back to our hotel? Oh...sure! I place the call. I tell Peter where we are so he can find us.

"Are ya sure you don't want to go have a bit of coffee somewhere?"
"Oh, no. We just had some. We'll just wait outside here and watch the people while we wait for you."
"Are you certain, now?"
"Oh, yes. We'll be fine."
"Alright then. See you in a few."

We disconnect, thank the doorman and then wait outside, in the doorway facing the street and watch the people go by. A couple of things I need to point out to you - the Dubliners that I've run into so far have been INCREDIBLY friendly. Even the non-drunk ones. And the ones that are drunk are SO drunk that I am constantly AMAZED that they are able to continue standing, let alone walking. I've never before seen the like. We decide, as a game, to count the number of people that crash into the pole in front of us until Peter arrives.

So we're standing there and I notice something odd happening in the car waiting in front of us. There are people in the car looking at us and laughing. Well, I haven't a clue what it's about, so I don't fret about it. Soon, we notice a small scene occurring on the corner across the street to our left. A group of young men have come out of the pub and are milling around. Soon, they're not milling. Instead they're fondling one another in different levels of drunkenness and kissing. French kissing. Ab-so-lute-ly looking for tonsils. I am stunned. Susie and I make eye contact and the same thought strikes us - we're standing in front of a gay bar, aren't we?

The George, it turns out, is a hot and happening gay club and we're standing right in front of it.

Oh. So that's why Peter was trying to get us to go elsewhere! Too subtle for me. Very polite. Perhaps he thinks...? Oh dear...! We laugh. We continue to watch until Peter shows up. We tumble into the car and burst into laughter.

"Peter! It's a gay club!"
"Oh, aye. I know it." He laughs, too. We tell him about what we saw and he says, "Welcome to Dublin." Did I mention that Peter reminds me of Pierce Brosnan around the eyes and brows? Hair is too light, though. More of a sandy brown than black. He's great fun and very nice. He took care of us for the weekend. Our driving needs, that is.

By the way, in case you're wondering: Pole - 7, Drunks - 0. And one for Susie.

Back to the hotel to sleep, perchance to sleep. We get aggressive and make plans for the morning. Ask for a wake up call at 8AM. We crash. Mightily. The phone rings far too soon and I answer it. "Susie...Susie wake up." No response. I fall back asleep. An hour or so later I wake up again, I'm supposed to be sightseeing, not sleeping!

"Susie. Susie." Still no response. I try to look at my watch to determine what time it is. I'm SO tired that I'm literally CROSS-EYED trying to look at my watch. The hell with this. I go back to sleep and wake up when I'm ready.

At 2:30PM.

Oh man! We dress and go into town. Racing around, shooting pictures while the light is still good. Nice buildings, cool doors. Incredible churches. Except that it's Sunday and most everything is what? That's right, closed.

However, St. Patrick's Cathedral isn't. It's an incredible building.
St. Patrick is reputed to have baptized converts on this spot, indicating that there has been a church here since around 450 A.D. It's the oldest Christian site in Dublin. Not much is left of the original construction in 1191, a fire in the 1400s destroyed most of it and it was rebuilt.

Any which way you look at it, though - it's of immense age and has an incredible history. I shoot what I can, but I'm running low on film [Ed. Film!], time and daylight. We move on, shoot more pictures, have dinner and then go in search of a pub. The first one we get to is full, so we go to the one on the corner across the street from it. The Oliver St. John Gogarty on Fleet Street. It's jam packed. Everyone is singing. The Scots, you see, have beaten the English at rugby and it's a VERY big deal. The Scots were supposed to lose and everyone is amazed that they won and is celebrating. However, they aren't celebrating the Scots winning. They're celebrating the English LOSING. Old feelings die hard around here. We squeeze our way in to the bar and get a round of drinks. Rum and coke for me, Guinness for her. We tried going to the Guinness factory but it was - yup - closed. We look around for a place to sit in the mad house. Bodies lurch out of the way for a moment, giving me a glimpse of a couple of older gentlemen sitting at a bench and table with their backs to the wall. They smile and gesture us over to come and sit with them. We go over and strike up a conversation. The gents are Welsh, and are wearing tuxes in celebration. They're really quite funny and very nice to us. Somewhere in their 60s, we aren't threatening to them and they aren't to us. I'm glad to have someplace to sit and watch the crowd. The people are singing and laughing. The crush is amazing - very like New Year's in Times Square. You have to press upon other people to get through the crowds. Several young men smile and wave. Some others, amazingly drunk, dance and sing at us. I laugh and enjoy the people. I'm told that I'm an "absolute cracker" and have to ask my Welsh friend for a translation. Stunning, he says. I thank the complimenter and he continues to mutter "Complete cracker!" to himself.

We buy a couple more rounds, sing, talk and laugh. Susie makes the acquaintance of a nice young man named Nigel. I, on the other hand, have a man come up to me, looking very proud of himself. After he sees me finish talking to Nigel, who's just walked off, asks me if Nigel is my boyfriend.

"Oh no. My husband is at home."
"You're married?!"
"Oh yes."
"That's a shame." Sad look.
"Not for me, it isn't!"
"Well, if you hadn't been, I'd've stayed and talked to you." Sigh. "As it is..." His voice trails away and he follows it. I give his departing form a wolfish grin. My Welshman turns to me and comments on my man's audacity. We have a good, wicked laugh at his expense. Chalk another one up for me! [Ed. OMG! I'm full of myself, aren't I? So embarrassing!]

Now it's late and I determine that I have to go back to the hotel because in the morning, I've got to train fourteen people I know nothing about. So I trundle off to bed, reeking of cigarette smoke. They smoke like chimney stacks over there, the Irish and the Europeans. There are so many people from all over that I have a hard time telling who's supposed to be Irish apart from all others. Sometimes, as you walk along and listen to snatches of conversation, it's impossible to tell if it's English, Irish or some other darned language that's being spoken. It's fun to hear all the different accents, though. Irish sounds, to me, like a bizarre combination of almost French, German and Spanish. It's very strange, but very pleasant to hear.

In the morning, I have an adventure just trying to get into the office to work. But I'll leave that story for another day!

Hatchet - the International Training Woman of Mystery

- - - - -

Whew! Did you make it through that whole thing? I've got more stories lined up, if you can handle it. Face it, I was blogging before I knew what blogging was. Unfortunately I don't have the photos in digital. Then again, maybe it's better that way. Imagine how much longer it would be with pictures?!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

First hummingbird sighting!

I saw the first hummingbird of the season in my yard, finally.

I know, I know! You've had them for months now. Where exactly have I been?

Ah well. Such are the ways of hummingbirds. Around here, they stay in the mountains until the wildflowers are gone and since this was a wet, cold spring, the wild flowers are longer lasting than usual.

Immediately after spotting the hummer checking out my trellised morning glories, I spotted a hawk overhead. Interestingly enough, the hawk appeared to be trailing jesses. Someone close by must be hunting their hawk. Not exactly what one expects to see in suburbia, but you never know around here.

Now I have 3 hummingbird feeders set up around the deck. It's just a matter of time, now.

Heeeeere birdie-birdie-birdie!

Growing Challenge: Zucchini!

The first zucchini is a marvelous thing.

The 50th zucchini is less marvelous. Let us currently rejoice in the first zucchini!
Caitlin and the First Zucchini

Please note that shortly after this image was taken (Tuesday), the zuke was chopped, sauteed in garlic and butter, dressed in minced basil and gratefully eaten by all except for the grinning child you see before you. Proud to have the zuke, proud to hold it, reluctant to eat it. What the heck?!

It was gooood.

Also in the garden, squash plants scrambling everywhere!

Squash abounds.

Acorn squash with flower.

Peek-a-boo spaghetti squash.

I'm looking forward to watching these scrambling vines attempt to take over the world. I'm attempting to redirect them into the pathway and wondering why I planted them in this bed instead of in the other bed that has more room to trail.

Next year!

On the tomato front, we have this:
Wall to wall tomato plants!

Giant beast plants. Let me tell you this, so that you won't make the same mistake: tie your tomatoes! This is what happens when you let them get away from you. They go completely nuts, grow into one another and thwart your efforts to tie them up the 8' tall stakes you put in place for just this very reason! I've been out there on assorted occasions, trimming them back here and there, nipping out the new growth in the crotches (Ooh, that sounds bad, doesn't it?), tying them up and reveling in the massive number of tomatoes visible.

You realize that I'll be playing Hunt for Ripe Tomatoes well into the fall, don't you? There are tomatoes growing in between the plants where I probably can't reach. Ack! I have two rows of tomato plants there! Plus the tomatoes are overwhelming the bell pepper plants planted on the aisle side.

Oh it's gonna be fun to harvest in there! Next year...!

By the way, did I tell you that I have two volunteer tomato plants growing in pots on my deck? Yeah. I've no idea what variety they are (Although I'm willing to guess that one of them is possibly a 'Pop-In' from last year.), but I'll be eating them if they survive!

The easy to harvest Caspian Pink on the corner.

Candy's Old Yellow.

Snow White cherry tomato.

Every day I go out and check to see if anything is ripe. So far, no luck. (Actually...I nipped out there Wednesday (Wrote this on Tuesday) and found my first ripe tomato. It was a Snow White cherry tomato and it was gooooooood. I thought about sharing that one small tomato and then decided against it. I deserved the first tomato! Soon we'll be swimming in 'maters, but not right now.)


This may be one of the few bells I get to try. The others are semi-smothered.
California Wonder bell pepper.

Tomatillos have launched their balloons by the hundreds. In each of these puffy sacks is a tiny green (And purple!) tomatillo. I keep thinking longingly of salsa.
Toma verde tomatillo.

The crazy mixed up bed. Where watermelons fight it out with butternut squash, French beans and Italian basil for supremacy. Who will win this epic battle?

Of course, around here we eat the winners. And the losers. It's good to be at the top of the food chain!
Bean, basil, butternut, melon.

You know, I never did thin out the basil. Seems to be OK so far! Come on tomatoes! I want to make a caprese salad!

Maybe I should make pesto while I wait?

I spy, with my little eye, a baby watermelon! Hopefully there's enough time left in the growing season to plump that sucker up and ripen it. Otherwise I think I'll be looking at some season extending gear.
Watermelon. Could be 'Sugar Baby'. It's a madhouse in there!

The potatoes are trying to hold on but they're being over run by everything else. Next year I'm going to put them into trash bins with holes drilles at the bottom and cover them with mulched leaves.

Next year...!

What have you been nibbling on in your garden?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Origin of Woman with a Hatchet

In case you were wondering about the name of my blog, it was based on an email I'd sent long long ago to friends regaling them with stories related to my crazy gardening.

Eric just found that email.

This episode was entitled "The pillaging continues...".

Wednesday, August 19th, 1998.

Still hacking our way through the jungle. Sometimes I think I can see the end of it, but then I realize that it's probably delirium induced by the long hours of hacking, slashing and slogging through the muck. One day I hope to raze this jungle to the ground! until it's just a nice rolling plain. Fit only for growing vegetable crops or becoming a rest area for weary travelers. Instead of the murky vermin infested pit that it is now.

Until then, I can only continue onwards, hoping that we are drawing closer to the end of this back-breaking labor.

I remain -


Yes, I really did garden using a hatchet. My weeds really were six feet tall. That area of the yard that I was working on is now the vegetable garden with raised beds.

Another missive dated March 10th, 1999.

I've been whipped, beaten, burned and deafened. I've also got a bloody nose and broken fingernails. I'm a bit shaken, but I'm OK.

There's nothing like a little yardwork to make you appreciate life.

Those trees aren't laughing that they're MULCH!

Hatchet - Mistress of Woodchippers and Tree Dominatrix

Apparently I've been battling trees forever.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

88 Degrees

Inside. The. House.

Something is Wrong with our air-conditioning.

It was 98 degrees outside today. Gaaaah! (Melting! I'm melting!)

Eric is troubleshooting. Let us hope it is a cheap/simple fix.

Easter Egg Bums

Guess what finally came in the mail?

A box full of bum wraps. (Pa-dum-bum-psssh! I'm here all week folks!)

The long-awaited, seriously back-ordered Bum Genius 3.0 cloth diapers! Thanks Grammy!
Climbing, but still not walking.

They come in far more colors than just white and pink, however they are all pastel shades and while they have cutsey, trippy names like "Twilight", they're really just white, pink, yellow, blue and green. It's like Easter has landed on tiny baby bums.

Pink and yellow tushies!

I'm not a big pastel fan (As a matter of fact, we almost didn't buy the house we live in because it was originally pastel yellow. Bleah!), but I am a fan of a product that works and these work. We've gone cold-disposable-diaper-turkey around here since they arrived on Friday. Yes, we're doing more laundry, but in our house we do laundry just about every day anyway, so an extra load - albeit a stinkier one - is not a big deal.

"Emma, whatchu tink 'bout dese new dihpahs?"
"Dey OK. Mehbee a purple wud be nice. Or poneez."

We're learning that during the last diaper change of the day we need to slide in an extra layer of absorption or face multiple wakings at night, but other than that these diapers rock!

Well, in as much as a diaper can be considered Rockin'.

"I comin' a getcha!"

One of the best parts about them is the fact that they are adjustable so that we only have to buy the one size and expand them as the twins grow. Ca-chiiing!

I'm not going to get into the cloth vs disposable debate here, in case you were wondering (Previously discussed here after starting here.). If you search like I did on "environmental impact disposable cloth diaper" you'll get a ton of hits. I read the top five, just for grins. You'll want to do your own research, search your soul and your pockets and decide for yourself. What I will tell you is this: from my reading, it appears as if many of the studies that have come out have been funded by the diapering industry. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time trusting in a study that is paid for by the industry itself, as opposed to a neutral third party.

I think, like formula, disposables have their place. Not everyone will have the time or the desire to wash cloth diapers. Financially, cloth is a big expense up front, but over the diapering life of the twins it will be much cheaper in the long run. The environmental impact for the plastics involved in disposables is also a long term issue, as opposed to cloth diapers, unless you want to start discussing how heavily managed a crop cotton is and its excessive use of pesticides and herbicides. However, going down that route can also start a discussion about the oil used in creating disposables and the wars fought over access to cheap oil. (The cost of the war exceeds $538 trillion, as of this writing, according to the National Priorities Project.)

However, everything we do has a cost. Everything we purchase has an environmental impact. I'm just trying to keep mine down for the long term by switching to cloth, laundering it myself in my ultra-low water use washing machine with my eco-friendly detergent, hang drying when possible and selling them off when we're done (Cloth diapers maintain their value for quite awhile if they are in good condition when you're done with them. Check eBay for yourself.).

Also, the biggest environmental impact is not whether you choose cloth over disposable. It was whether or not to have a child in the first place. We chose to have these children, assuming that in the long term they would have a positive impact on society that outweighs their environmental impact.

So far, so good!

The cuteness cannot be denied!

"I look good in yeh-yoh, dontchu tink?"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

And They Said, "I Do"

Or was it "I will"? I can't remember.

In the end, though, they are married. Happily.

Now for the Ever After part!

Congratulations to Scott & Sierra on their wedding!

Thanks for having us. However, since we were all in the wedding party (Except for the twins. Nana-Sue came to wrangle the twins during the ceremony and photographs. Thanks, Sue!) I wasn't able to take very many pictures at all.

I have to admit, though, that I spent an inordinate amount of time making goo-goo eyes at Misty during the wedding ceremony since she was on the other side of the aisle from me and Eric wasn't visible from where I was standing. Otherwise, I would have made goo-goo eyes at him.

Probably. [Snicker!]

Chatting with the flower girls.

Sierra and Eric discuss Deep Important Issues while a crowd forms.

Eric and the gang waiting to process.

Scott's family.

Cake, anyone?

So instead of hiding behind the camera shooting madly, I was forced to experienced the wedding and reception directly and had to, you know, interact. With a twin balanced on my hip. Which is why there are no pictures of them in their wedding finest. If you thought the twins were tough to blog around, they're even tougher to photograph around. Someone is always trying to eat the lens or the strap. Or bounces around while you try to focus.

The wedding was lovely, the day was fine, the bride and groom were beautiful, the flowers were fantastic (Great job, Heather!), the food yummy and although there were many cakes, I only had a slice of one. Twin wrangling keeps you from having too much spare time to graze, as it turns out. Which was really rather unfortunate considering the bounty of cake that was there for the plundering!

Quick! Tell me about the best wedding you've been to (Other than your own.) and what made it especially great/fun/wonderful. Distract me from the cake!


Jos Whedon's Dr. Horrible

Have you heard of it? Have you seen it?

If not, go here and watch all three acts. Today is the last day before they pull the site and turn it into a DVD.

It's about superheroes and supervillains. There's singing. And Death Rays!

And it has Doogie Hauser and Mal (From Firefly I think Ali refers to him as Captain Tightpants.) in it! How can you pass that up?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


My baby is teething!

Nooo. Not those babies. This one:

Reluctantly leaving Camp Grammy & Grampy.

Caitlin just had her 7 year Wellness check and they determined that she has some number of molars coming in. Later that same night she started complaining that her teeth hurt.

Considering that all of her friends are losing teeth willy nilly, Caitlin is taking her time. She started off slow: didn't get her first tooth until she was 11.5 months old (BTW, this seems to be holding true for the twins as well - still nary a tooth at 9.5 months.). She has lost a grand total of three so far which brought us into questions about what teeth are worth these days.

What's the going rate for teeth where you are and is there any difference for the two front ones vs all the others or not? We heard from wealthier friends that they were offering $5 a tooth. I remember being excited about a quarter under my pillow. Maybe a half-dollar, but it was always coins, not bills. What about you?

All dressed up with some place to go on Friday!

And what does the Tooth Fairy do with all of those teeth, anyway? Seems kinda creepy to keep them all, but at the same baby isn't a baby any longer. Her teeth are just slow to get with the program.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Twelve inches.

A wee bit shorter.

I'm getting used to it.

So what did you do today?

(It's almost like I'm making a habit of this, isn't it? Scroll down for my 2006 haircut.)
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