Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The final harvest

This gardening year has been a good one around here. I remember thinking, back in April when I planted it, that there was no way that everything would survive. And it didn't. The pumpkin bit the dust. But everything IN the garden survived. It thrived, too, though there are times I'm not entirely sure how. I still maintain I'm not a great gardener. I think I just got a good batch of plants. I'll definitely be back at Riddle next spring.

However, with the forecast yesterday calling for lows last night in the mid 40s, I figured it was time for some things to start going. Okra doesn't like cold and has been significantly slowing down for a few weeks. Sure, there are still a few flowers, but today they didn't even open up. The bell peppers don't like the cold, either, and have been getting bitter. The tomatoes won't turn red unless the temperature gets up to about 80 or 85. The green beans have started to produce smaller and smaller beans. I took the beans and okra that I had harvested and blanched and froze them yesterday; today I canned the last of the tomatoes. The canning process gets mighty simple after a while, though it doesn't make the kitchen any cooler. You know it's a cold day outside when canning tomatoes in your kitchen causes your dining room windows to fog up.

A low temperature in the 40s also is bad for heat-loving herbs. M1 has been particularly proud of his basil this year. I made three pounds of pesto the other day and decided to chop the rest of the plant down yesterday and pile it up on the porch. I only had pine nuts for two more pounds of pesto and had no use for the rest, having already dried enough to fill a gallon-size bag, so it had to go.

We had a little basil. The trash man is going to wonder what on earth he's smelling when he opens up that can on Thursday. I suppose it could be worse.

I also cut down the marjoram...

and the thyme. The only herb left standing is the rosemary, which I hope to repot and bring into the house for the winter. If it doesn't last, at least I can still dry it out. The last of the thyme and marjoram are also being dried.

M2's flowers are also still flourishing. Who knew that impatiens would grow so big and still bloom so beautifully all the way into October? I always see the big corporate gardens replanted at least twice during an Oklahoma summer, so I assumed it was because they had died. Now I wonder why they waste the cash. The butterflies are enjoying these, too.

Here's the garden now, somewhat sad but still proud after the herbs have been chopped back. The weeds have finally taken over parts of it, and I know I'll need to get those out of there. I think this weekend, probably on Sunday, we'll take out the bell peppers and tomatoes and replant the rosemary. I may weed the flowers and strawberries, too. I'm hoping to leave the green beans and okra for another week or so, but we'll see what the weather does and what Oz says.

After I do that, I'll start planning for next year. Let's hope for a bumper strawberry crop!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Feast, my darling...

No photos today, just a random post about random things. Sometimes I have the most fun writing these.

This weekend was fantastic. The kids had a birthday party to attend on Saturday, at a bowling alley, and they do really enjoy bowling. Especially as it gets colder outside, it's one of those family activities that we can still do. The party was for a girl that was in M1's class last year. Last year. Last school year. It seems forever that I've seen these kids, even though it's only been about four months. They've all grown. They were all glad to see M1, too, though the concept of homeschooling was pretty foreign to them. The birthday girl also adores M2. So that was good.

Then we came home and rested and packed, and I took the kids out to my dad's house for the kids to spend the night. They don't often get to spend the night at Granddad T's house, so that's a HUGE treat to them. He had big plans. He got a bonfire going, let them roast hot dogs and marshmallows, then brought them inside and put on a movie. M1 slept in the huge spare room bed and M2 camped on the living room floor in her pink camouflage sleeping bag (this was a swap from the last time they slept over). Today M1 got to practice shooting with a pellet gun - his first time ever but crucial since Granddad T. may have gotten M1 a BB gun for his birthday (with permission from Mom, of course) - and M2 collected acorns. We all came over for a fantastic lunch cooked by Nana M. She goes all out for the family, and even though she's "only" my stepmom, she's wonderful, and I love her. And her cooking.

While the kids were having their campout, I went... Christmas shopping! That's right - Christmas. You are aware it's only three months away, right? Honestly, I don't usually get all my shopping done this early (though it IS always done before Thanksgiving because stores between then and New Year's scare the absolute poo out of me), but homeschooling has thrown a kink in that one. How do you birthday/Christmas shop for a kid who's always home? I never know how often I'll get a whole night or even a few hours without them both, so I had to take advantage of it. All of their shopping is done now except for a few stocking stuffers that I don't usually purchase until mid-November, though I may try to duck into a Hallmark in the next few days and get one of those items. I do need to do the shopping for the family, but that's more easily done since my gifts will be purchased online when the time is right.

Speaking of birthdays, M1's is coming up. He'll be 7. I don't know how I got to be the mom of a 7-year-old who's lost four teeth, has one more loose, can almost ride a bike without training wheels, and who is gaining poise and self-confidence every day. He makes me so very, very proud.

After I got done with the holiday shopping, I came back home. Oz was heading back from working out of town on a Saturday, so I was chatting to him on the phone from the glider on the front porch when I noticed it - the grass - was... moving. It was completely odd, so I had to get up to investigate. I bent down when I got close and saw winged ants.

Winged ants.

Oh, god... I know what looks like winged ants.

Oh, god... TERMITES.

We have a wooden subfloor in our house. TERMITES. We can't HAVE termites. My kitchen cabinets are wooden. My house frame is wooden. Most of my FURNITURE is wooden.

We CAN'T have termites.

But, wait... are those ANTS... actual ants... walking on the same log as these winged things? Why would ants be hanging out with termites?

I heart Google at moments like that, and I heart my cell phone that has the Internet right on it. I especially love it when it assures me that these were, in fact, winged ants and not the dreaded termites. Huzzah for winged ants! Who cares if it means they're about to swarm and create a whole new ant colony? They're not going to eat my house!

And after this wonderful revelation, I did what any good, red-blooded, American mother of a science-loving Asperger's Cub Scout would do...

I scooped up a bunch of those winged ants and fed them to the lizard.

And he had a great weekend, too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Incredible Mutant... Children

Ok, so they're not entirely mutant, though some days their behavior makes me wonder which rock I want to go crawl under.

Anywho, so a couple of weeks ago, it was time for the annual Cleaning of the Drawers, in which we go through every article of clothing the children own and weed out anything that is too small, stained or torn beyond recognition, or otherwise unwearable in the opinion of the Grand Poobah of the Drawer Cleaning

I had known that my spawn had grown over the summer. They do that. I'm starting to think it's something in the soil. M1 hadn't grown much till I took him off his medication; now, since he's had that massive sinus infection and we've been in to see the doctor every two weeks for the last month, I am painfully aware that he's putting on a pound or two... every two weeks.

This means he's outgrown some clothes.

What it really means is that he's outgrown allll these clothes. They do not fit. Not even remotely. I tried to put a pair of 8 slim jeans on him, and they were a bit snug around the waist, and I thought that maybe we could get away with them for a few months. Then he sat down, and I think the hems down up to his mid-calves.

Into the bag they went.

I didn't think the girl's wardrobe would be as bad. I knew she had grown, but she's smaller, she's the girl, and really, she hasn't grown as much as the boy.

Or so I thought.

Clearly, I'm delusional.

The fact that she's gone from a size 10 shoe to a size 13 in the past two months should have been a clue.

This was 'before.' I had an 'after' picture, but it was too blurry to use. Just chop off everything on the left 3/4 of the picture, and you'll have roughly what was left. Two coats, two pairs of brown pants, a pair of pink overalls that she promptly declared she hated and would never wear, and two Christmas-themed shirts. That was IT.

No, seriously. I am occasionally prone to exaggeration, I will admit, but this time I'm actually serious. The girl had no clothes whatsoever for fall and winter.
Thankfully, a few trips to the consignment shop and Penney's has gotten both wardrobes to the place where I think we can function till the word 'frost' becomes part of our vocabulary. My credit card is breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Now I just have to give the clothes to people who will need them. I can't wait till our group swap!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photojournalism on a rainy day

So I haven't posted for a while. It hasn't been because I've forgotten about the blog or even that I haven't had the time (though I probably haven't). Mostly it was because I had forgotten where I put the camera! Shhh... don't tell Oz. Oh. Wait. He reads this. Hello, dear. Don't worry - I found it again! It was in the console of the van, no less! And the minute I found it, I did remembered putting it there and why it was put there, and that'll be another post later this week, I hope.

Moving on... I found the camera. Just in time, too, because I had promised M1 that we could go on a mushroom hunt around the yard. It's been a tad rainy here over the past couple of weeks, which is great so long as you understand that the word "tad" means that it's rained almost every day for the past 14 days and my yard now resembles a miniature rain forest.

The mushrooms, however, are loving it.

This is one patch.

M1 insisted that I also take a photo of the new pinecones growing - he's very excited that fall is almost here. Fall, to him, means a birthday and Halloween!

He really liked that this mushroom curled up on itself.
And this one that has begun to grow out of the railroad ties around the garden. He adores fungus.

And speaking of the garden... meet my mutant plants. That's M1 standing next to the okra. Keep in mind that M1 is NOT short. He's about 4 1/2 feet tall. That white thing on the top of the okra plant just to the right of M1 in the picture is a flower. That plant is still growing, flowering, and producing like mad. So are the green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil. Everything is still growing, flowering, and producing. I made 3 pounds of pesto today. To make this, I needed 12 cups of basil. It didn't make a dent in the plants. Even M2's begonias and impatiens are still blooming and growing like crazy. When I trimmed some of the basil today, I found baby strawberries. I had really thought that my garden would kind of be DONE by now. Boy, was I wrong!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Because I'm pretty much messed up...

... I won myself a little prize on a blog recently. Well, Oz and I did. Specifically, we won the right to share THIS

with you. It's from Homemade Hilarity. Oz and I may possibly have very odd minds to earn this badge. Nothing quite like a Badge of Awesomeness to prove it. :)