Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The First Taste of the Year

We put our watermelon plants, started from seeds in peat pots, into the ground later than most experienced gardeners.  It wasn't intentional. There was just too much going on and the "getting the plants in the garden" kept getting bypassed for more critical checklist items.  Still, on mid June, we finally freed the melons from the confines of their baby pots, placing them in the soil tilled for our first experimental crops.

They started off slowly, not sure of what exactly was expected of them and not convinced any of it was worth the effort.  Our experimental garden is an odd, sort of D shaped thing.  We water regularly, using the gray water diversion system Joe engineered in our first very wet month here.  We diverted the gray water to the garden, so every time we wash our hands, dishes or clothes, and every time we take a shower, our garden is watered.  Waste not, want not....that was our theory.

About three weeks after we put our plants in the ground, I piled some old hay around all of my plants...old hay we'd knocked out of the 18 or so pallets we'd secured from a woman on Freecycle....she'd used the pallets to store hay for her horses, but was selling her farm and didn't need them any longer.  We got so much hay out of those pallets that all the plants in my little garden were nicely mulched.  And within a week those melons started to put out stems and tendrils, grabbing onto the lawn and the fence and never letting go!

Today we cut the first melon from her stem.  It was an exciting moment....these melons had been grown from seeds we'd saved from a very delicious store-bought watermelon we'd had last summer.  We really had no idea if our melon was ready or whether it would taste good at all.  Still, there was only one way to find out. I cut the melon and we headed in to weigh her....
First Melon Cut
Two melons, grown from seeds from the same melon 
but each with such different appearances

A whopping 11.75 lb!
 And then came the moment of truth.... Sweet and tasty?  Or dry and mealy?

Judy takes the plunge
Sure LOOKS tasty!
We each took a quarter of the melon and took a bite.  And we were rewarded with the sweetest, most delightfully textured watermelon we'd tasted in a very long time. It really brought back taste memories from childhood.

Mmmmmm  GOOD!
Yummy...yummy...eating in the garden..
right FROM the garden!
When we'd had our fill, we thought we'd treat the goats to the melon rind.  Do you think they were grateful?  Didn't you always hear that goats will eat ANYTHING?  Well, let me tell you, our two goats have developed quite an attitude when it comes to what they will eat.  Even though they were screaming at us while WE enjoyed our melon, they were NOT interested in eating our leftovers!

OK...I'll take a nibble...
Phuey!  You ate the GOOD part!
No WAY...I am NOT eating YOUR leftovers!
Where did you GO???????
Well, as I write this, I am preparing to leave to drive to DC to take my mother in for her cataract surgery.  It is about a 3 1/2 drive and I need to be at her house at 5AM.  I'll be up there a couple of days, staying long enough to drive her to her follow-up doctor's appointment before returning home.  While I am gone I will be remembering the sweet taste of that melon, our first "graywatermelon" of the season, and be looking forward to cutting into the next one!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Craigslist and Cookouts

I had anticipated a cookout on the new deck this weekend.  No, the deck is not yet finished, but it is certainly complete enough for us to haul a barbecue grill, table and chairs up there and christen it....however......

Earlier in the week I'd seen and answered an ad on Craigslist.  The seller was offering a tractor with backhoe, front loader, post hole digger, and three point hitch.  Yes, he wanted a fair price for it, but it was worth taking a look.  As it turns out, the tractor was about an hour and half's drive from here, and it was a lovely afternoon for a drive.  So, we climbed in the little Amigo and headed over to take a look-see.

Judy ready to go
Our destination was across two rivers, the York and the James rivers.  Just south of the James River, city sprawl suddenly melded with country, and just before "Map Lady," as I refer to my Garmin GPS, commanded our final turn, we came across a neat old building that begged to be remembered.

Yesteryear Today
A quick turn and she was behind us and the tractor in sight.  To the two of us, having spent the better part of 2010 digging, carrying, pouring and such by hand, wheel barrow, shovel and cart, this tractor looked like a dream come true.  We have SO much yet ahead of us, that a tractor, especially one this new and practical, was not something from which we could easily walk away.

Judy Trying it on for size
While I played on the tractor, convinced this is something I can actually use myself, Joe negotiated with the seller.  I stay out of the bartering.  I am not a barterer, and Joe is an avid barterer.  And sure enough, when the deal was struck, it was a good one.  The price they agreed on even included delivery ALL the way back to our little farmhouse.
Joe Negotiated the Deal
Of course, striking the deal was the important part, but the logistics of getting the tractor to her new home, took more negotiating.  Again, these things are better left to others (Joe), so I amused myself exploring the seller's pasture, and visiting with his three "pygmy" goats.

Fruit Trees and Barns
Fat Little Pygmies!

With LONG Horns.... OUCH!
The men had arranged everything...the tractor would be delivered this afternoon/evening.  Before we left, Joe asked if he might be able to take some cuttings from the pear, apple and crab apple trees, so he can try to root them.  The seller was happy to oblige, so, by the time we pulled out of his place, the bed of his pickup truck was loaded with fruit tree cuttings.....

Since the seller had to first rent a trailer with which to haul our tractor, Joe and I decided we might as well stop and enjoy a meal.  Neither of us had yet eaten today, and it was nearing 4PM.  We decided on a little Mexican restaurant and the choice was a good one.  The food was tasty and the price was reasonable.


Back at the old farmhouse, we watered flowers and took photos of their progress as we eagerly awaited the arrival of our new best friend!

Everyone is still showing off!
Such a neat look before the sunflower shows her petals
Melon is testing its "hammock"
This one is just bursting with blossoms
Joe with his sunflower crop

And sure enough, just before dusk, she arrived.  The seller was great and spent an hour out there, battling the mosquitoes, giving us the full demonstration while I videoed and Joe paid attention.

Miss Kubota arrives at her new home
By the time we paid the man and he pulled out to make the hour and half drive home, we were both ready to just come inside and relax....and look at the pictures we'd taken today...and watch the video we'd shot today....and watch the video we hadn't yet watched, but which we'd shot in June when my brother was visiting from FL....and well, nine o'clock turned quickly into one o'clock in the morning..,

So, though there COULD have been a barbecue on our new deck this weekend .... Craigslist superseded!
Unchristened Deck

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What Did You Call Her?

Today was my sister-in-law's birthday.  She's 40-something, and crazy as ever.  As I was mowing the lawn today I was thinking about a time when she and my brother were newlyweds.  We were all in the car together and I think Dan was driving.  At any rate, Dan and Michelle were in the front seat and I was in the back.

It was the typical DC beltway driving I so detest and which has often caused tempers to flare as turns were missed and maps were misread by the "navigator."  But nobody seemed particularly upset or out of sorts, despite the congested traffic.  So I was surprised to hear my brother, not once, but several times, say something to his wife, calling her by a rude name.

"Where are we supposed to turn, B-tch?" he asked in a conversational tone.

Michelle responded as if this were completely normal, and I sat there in the back seat, dumbfounded.  I was perplexed by my brother's choice of names to call his wife, and even more surprised by her perfectly happy responses to being so called.  Now, remember, this was NOT in the day of the popularity of calling each other "cutesy" vulgar names.  This was in the 80's (wow! that just sounds ridiculous when I consider the 80's to be a "long time ago! )

When we finally reached our destination, I could hold my curiosity no longer.

Dan, why do you keep calling Michelle, "B-tch?" (the "-" is pronounced like a short "i" as in "ink")

Dan and Michelle BOTH bust up laughing as Dan explained he was most certainly NOT calling his wife that!  He was calling her "Mitch," which was his nickname for her....... DUH!  Well, at least I asked and didn't go home thinking my brother was some sort of coarse husband!

So today, on her 40-something birthday, I wish Michelle very happy birthday!

Michelle, hamming it up, Thanksgiving 2009
Clowning around, Thanksgiving 2009
Dan and Michelle -- Newlyweds

What a Way to be Remembered!

"Oh, I remember you!"

I had just climbed into the reclining chair and was dutifully opening my mouth to allow the dentist's assistant to get a real good look inside my oral cavity.  I quickly closed my mouth, realizing that there ARE things that come first in dental visit protocol.  Before the mask is pulled down over the assistant's mouth and nose, as she is donning her latex gloves and pulling out her "sterile" instruments of torture, there must FIRST be a short exchange to make the patient comfortable.

It had been at least 20 years since I last I sat in this particular dentist's office.  I really like the dentist, but she did not participate in the dental insurance program my employer selected and in which I had opted to participate, so, after three years of happy dental visits with "Dr. Anne," my family started seeing another dentist.  Since our parting I have seen probably six different dentists, having to change as dental plans and participating providers changed.  And now there I was, having discovered she now IS a participant in my plan, happily going for a checkup and cleaning.  I remembered them, but I did NOT expect them to remember ME twenty years later.

"Yes, I used to see Dr. Anne a long time ago," I confessed to the assistant who had recognized me.

"Sure, I remember you," she said with a grin, "Your son was the first one to christen me by throwing up on me when I hit his gag reflex with the water!"

OMG!   "What a way to be remembered," I thought, as I replied, "Oh, yeah, Stephen always had a crazy gag reflex.  You were not the only to have been so christened."

So we laughed a bit about that and she told the younger dental assistant about my kids and that this was when she started keeping a bucket nearby ...just in case... whenever Stephen had an appointment!

And then we got down to the business of the visit, the cleaning and the exam.  I produced the crown I'd knocked off with the water pick two nights ago, but Dr. Anne shook her head as she reviewed my x-rays and did her close-up exam with those odd little glasses over glasses they wear.  "Bless your heart," she said, "the crown really cannot be replaced...the tooth has broken further and I think the best thing would be just to remove it....there's nothing for the crown to hold onto."  Well, no problem, as far as I was concerned.  It's a far back tooth and won't bother me at all to have it gone from my mouth....getting it gone, on the other hand, I am NOT looking forward to.  Still, that's another day and another doctor...the oral surgeon....

Back at the old farmhouse, the deck has come along nicely.  Day 3 (yesterday) they completed the deck floor and railings, but to get up to the deck still required a ladder.

Day 3 -- Deck but no stairs yet
The view from the deck is GREAT!!!!

Ahhh,,, and the air is lovely up here!
Day 4 Pickets and Stairs in Place
Test Climb up to Deck
Satisfied Customer
And so much closer to the moon!

The deck can be used as is, and I have a feeling there might just be a cookout on it this weekend.  The windows have not yet been replaced with doors, so access to and from the deck will be via the deck stairs, rather than through the door off the second story apartment, but who cares?

I'm looking forward to the weekend when I don't have to spend most of the daylight hours inside working.   And I am certain I will spend a lot of my time outside, in my comfy overalls, working alongside Joe creating this farm in the woods vision of ours.
Path in the woods
So serenely beautiful

As Niels, a new visitor to my blog commented, "have a nice overall weekend!"  Take time to enjoy these last tastes of summer.

Last Tastes of Summer

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pants No More

I worked all day today, tucked away in my six by nine foot "office" space we have defined through creative placement of bookcases and desks in this garage apartment with slanted walls. When I was growing up I shared a room with my sister in a similar room -- we referred to the wall style as a "glorified attic."  It feels comfortable and cozy to me.  I was busy all day.  I did take a break, just before 8 AM to walk down the driveway and open the gate for the guys who would soon be showing up to start day 2 on the deck.  And I took a couple of breaks during my work day to get outside and check on their progress.

And the new melon
And Miah, my sweet (if mouthy) 12 year old
And check out the red sunflowers

Joe was, as usual, busy.  He has been focusing on the repair of the driveway and addition of more driveways for the past few days, but today he turned his focus to restoring a nice (but filthy) door he'd acquired on barter for a large sign we'd recovered from someone's trash.  The door will, once properly restored, replace the window in the garage apartment.  With the door we will have easy access to the new deck, and the full glass of the door will offer a lovely view of the deck and the woods.

Road "patching"

Dirty, but shows promise
The day was threatening rain off and on, but I don't think it ever succeeded in producing any.  Still, the sky offered some views worthy of photographing and so, naturally, Joe snapped a few (hundred).
Workers took an early lunch (10:30 AM)
Sky threatening rain
Pink afternoon clouds
The deck builders worked hard and fast and the deck is coming right along.  Joe snapped a few more photos of the "men at work" just because.

Day 2 Construction
When late afternoon offered me a break from the meetings and the reports, I took a quick trip into town to run errands, returning just after the construction crew had pulled out.  I was satisfied with their progress and look forward to more of the same tomorrow, weather permitting.  Joe had scraped off some of the cement (or whatever it is that is on that door) but there is much to be done, and more "supplies" required to complete that job... tomorrow is another day.
End of Day 2
When we came into the garage to sit and just relax for a while, Joe acknowledged that he must finally give up the pants that have been his "work pants" for the past two years.  I have resurrected these favorite, comfortable pants several times, stitching and patching and such.  In recent months, Joe could always be assured of receiving curious looks when he went to town in his work pants...the crazy stitching I used to patch the pants did look a little odd, but it worked... until today.

Pants in the Morning...still "functional"

So, as a final tribute to this trusty pair of pants, I took a few shots of the two of them...Joe and his "World Wore Too Long" pants.  They will certainly be missed, but there is a new brown pair, already selected to take their place.... I suppose in another two years we will be looking to replace the favorite brown pants, but today it was a fond farewell to the blue/green model cargo pants that have seen him through many adventures! (I think there is probably an entire blog post that could be written about the adventures of those pants!)

Pants in the evening... 

Now "dysfunctional"