Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When In Doubt

Be the Golden Retriever.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Shock and Awe

Tomcat looks like he just saw a ghost. But what he is actually reacting to is The Corrections.

He can't believe what a terrible book it is.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summa Summa Summa-time

Porch sitting has commenced in earnest.

Next up for summer 2015:
• Grill-outs and the Mt. Adams pool
• Picnics and scooter rides
• Helmet sundaes and crunch coat
• Nashville and Norris Lake
• Iced-tea and lemonade, together 
Time to sit back and unwind

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Constantly (Angry) Gardener

Ray sowing tomato plants in our enormous garden.

It's easy to buy pricey tomatoes - just go to the Hyde Park Farmer’s Market, where a pound of bruised tomatoes is more expensive than a Jeff Ruby’s dry-aged steak. 

But to grow expensive tomatoes, that takes skill.

Fortunately, Ray and I got ‘em. We have consistently grown the most expensive tomatoes in Hamilton County going on two years. Let us show you how it's done.

First, get some $4.99 tomato plants from Home Depot.

We prefer Home Depot over Lowe’s because the Wendy's is right there, so you can get a spicy chicken sandwich and a large Diet Coke on your way. And you're going to need that sustenance because shopping at Home Depot takes like nine hours, even if you're just going for some tomato plants.

Second, over-buy. Get all of the tomatoes!  

We usually buy 5-7 tomato plants; I have no idea why since our garden is about the size of a dining room table.

So take a guess at how big your garden is and buy triple the tomatoes that will actually fit into it. You want make sure that when they start to get big, they take over the entire plot, then the yard, then the neighbor's yard.

Third, notice that your green tomatoes are being eaten.

Realize too late that the squirrels and chipmunks are gorging themselves on your fruit. Be sure to realize this a) when the plants are gigantic and b) when half of your ripening tomatoes have been eaten or left with hunks out of them on the fence. (Squirrels are really proud of this and will leave your half-eaten tomatoes on the property line fence for you to admire their work.)

Fourth, scour the internet for weird pest control suggestions. Buy all the pest control!

Nothing is too strange or too expensive to try for your new war on squirrels and chipmunks. Buy loads of cinnamon, wolf urine and horrific smelling pest spray to keep the animals out. When that fails (it will), buy some talismans from a shaman and try that. (Specifically, bags and bags of peanuts. Maybe if you leave out gobs of peanuts in the shell for them to eat they will choose that over your tomatoes.) (They won't; they'll eat both.)

Fifth, search for fencing.

Now that the plants are enormous and there is no easy way to install a fence, definitely start looking for fencing. Search the Internet for "easy solutions."

When that fails (it will), go back to Home Depot and buy a bunch of garden/landscape aluminum fencing at $20 a panel. Wrestle with your 12 panels of fencing until they are (relatively) connected together (with zip ties) and fencing in the (dining table-sized) garden.

Stand back and admire your ingenuity in the face of overgrown plants, uneven ground and impossible fencing. Spending an entire Saturday afternoon in the heat of July to protect your tomatoes is going to be so worth it.  

Sixth, realize the fence doesn’t work.

As you are sitting on the deck drinking coffee one morning, notice another half-eaten, ripening tomato on your steps. Take back all those thoughts of you being an ingenious fence engineer as you realize that the squirrels can walk right through your elaborate fencing.

Go back to Home Depot for plastic fencing to line the inside of the aluminum fencing. Get the biggest roll of this stuff they have. Sure, your garden is small, but those squirrels are crafty and THIS IS WAR.

Make sure to get the kind of plastic fencing that cuts your hands when you maneuver it or try to reach for a tomato anywhere near it.

Use the entire roll to line the fence of your tiny garden. Next, use another big sheet of it to create a top. Use zip ties to lock the 'roof' on. When you run out of zip ties, use the spool of wire ties you found in the junk drawer... Because you are not freaking going back to Home Depot.

Seventh, realize you can no longer really access your tomatoes.

Hooray, you see a red ripened tomato that is ready for eating. (!!!!!) Now turn that excitement into disappointment when you realize that you've made it only slightly more difficult for the squirrels but nearly impossible for humans to access the tomatoes. No matter. When your hand gets cut on the plastic fencing and zip tied roof, proudly consider it a hard-fought battle wound.

Eighth, harvest your bounty!

We estimate that our "bounty" was about four tomatoes in 2014, which cost us about $200 a tomato, roughly.

Ninth, become fully aware of your failure.

Slowly realize what a bargain those $5 tomatoes were at the Hyde Park Farmer’s Market.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Vile Weed

The surest way to get poison ivy is to claim you are immune to it. Put that hubris out for the fates to hear and you will be promptly rewarded.

And for my money, it just can't happen at a better time than when you're going to be in a wedding, with a knee-length bridesmaids dress.

About a month ago, Ray and I went to the art open house at Brazee Street studios where we had to park out in a field. I was literally moseying through weeds, bragging that I'd never gotten poison ivy in my entire life because I am one of those special, blessed human beings who are immune to it.

Except, I didn't even realize I had parked in poison ivy. I was just making conversation about how special and immune I am.

So special. So immune. 

I'm also 98 percent certain I closed a few stalks of it in my car door. Ray and I thought it was funny that leaves we're dangling out of the bottom of my door while I was driving around.

Ha ha ha.

So funny. So dangly.

The first signs were innocuous enough - a welt across my ankle that didn't itch or turn red. Until it did.

At first it wasn't that bad.

No big deal. Just a few spots. I can still walk around in public like this.
Then it got severe. 

Turns out, I'm not immune.

The best part was that I'd wake up several times in the night overcome with itching. The second best part was the cankle it gave me.

Have you no mercy, poison ivy?! A cankle?

It was pure misery for weeks. I'm pretty sure poison ivy is an advanced interrogation technique for enemy's of the state.

But here's the thing that really blew my mind: If you get poison ivy and have to have a steroid shot, it will be in the butt. I thought after adolescence shots were upgraded to the arm. Nope. When the nurse told me to "pull your pants down and lean over the table," I thought she was joking.

It's truly the gift that keeps on giving.