Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ah, Humidity

The current humidity is at 84%. I think when I took this photo it was at 87%. Fabulous cloud and fog effects occur, but my hair is a frizzled mess. Also, standing in one place and not moving will make one sweat.

We've had thunderstorms everyday for the last several days. Between the downpours the sky is a brilliant blue filled with towering white masses of clouds. Today I was driving on the Parkway and was astounded by the beauty of giant shining clouds coming over the dark green mountains.

We had a mile stone today. Little Monkey made it all day in one pair of underpants. A miracle. I'm trying to figure out how the dog can be housebroken in one week and the child takes something like a year. Maybe I should have stuck to dogs...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Garden of Delights

The garden is coming along quite well. I picked one little super sweet cherry tomato today. The rest are starting to set fruit. We harvested carrots and beets. Big Daddy has been busy using the new pressure canner. He's done peas and carrots and is on to beets. The whole house smells like dirt right now from cooking beets. I've got another row free to plant black-eyed peas.

Everything is finally starting to take off. Now if I can just keep the bugs and such under control. The chickens have been feasting on Japanese Beetles. I've dumped the beetle trap twice for their dining pleasure, but I think I'm hardly making a dent in beetle destruction. The beetles are devouring my Japanese Maple. It must be sort of like American tourists coming across a McDonalds in Paris and getting all excited - "Ja voodray lay Big Mac, seel voo play!" Damn tourists, go home!


Jimmy, used to be Deg

Ignore the over-exposed head of Marlon (another "I'm supposed to be a girl, but I'm a boy") in the corner. I think Jimmy is one of the most bizzarre birds I've ever seen. Dig that doo on my drag queen chicken. It's very Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, don't you think? All he needs is a little pair of pink glitter chicken stilletoes.

I changed his name. Jimmy suits him better than Deg. He'll be going to the swinging bachelor pad with Mooney. Marlon may get to go to, if he's nice. Are you listening, Marlon?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Down on the Farm


I actually grew potatoes. I dug them up and made them for dinner. I was kind of skeptical as I couldn't actually see them growing. But here they are - my first batch of new potatoes. The red ones are klondike rose and the others are yukon gold.

We worked around the house and garden today. I managed to get some flowers planted, weeds pulled and the pond fixed. The waterfall's hose was clogged. All I can say is, "Ick". Pond scum is gross. Since the fish disappeared, the frogs have been thriving. There are now a bunch of little tadpoles. I can't wait until they get big and eat bugs. Big Daddy cleaned up a bunch of areas today. He started building the fire ring. He changed my original idea, but he is the expert. So I'll trust him for now. He built two new beds for me to fill with dirt and herbs, so I'm happy.

I also managed to get rid of 9 of my chickens yesterday and today. They went to new homes and will hopefully have a good life. Today after our friend, Susan, left with five of them, the others seemed a little traumatized. They hid in the coop and wouldn't come out. I had to bribe them with fresh peas. I can just see their little chicken brains whirring, "Oh no! Here she comes. She'll put us in a box and send us away. Quick! Hide! Run around like your head is cut off!!!" It was sad to see them go. I've kept my favorites of each breed. I gave Susan one of the Golden Polish. I had planned on giving her two, but I think one is a rooster. So now I have Deg (thanks to Ken), the rooster and his two girls Angela (thanks to Jamie) and Val(thanks to one of our friends who noticed the similarity - was it Mel?). Now I'll have to get around to naming them all.

Man, those taters were good! Now I think it's time to go sit on the porch and have a beer. Life is good on the farm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Oh Thank God

Yesterday I was feeling a little nervous. I was close to a couple of weeks late and have gained a few unexplained pounds. So off I went to the drug store and came home with a home pregnancy test. It was negative. I was relieved. And, in a true example of how my life goes, if I had waited a few more hours, my body would have told me so and I could have saved the 15 bucks.

Contrary to friends', familys' and complete strangers' thoughts, I am meant to be the mother of an only child. If I had two how would I be able to afford a pony and summer camp and all those cute little girl clothes? And I'm way too distracted to keep track of two. I'd lose the second one somewhere - in the woods, at the park, leave it on top of the car as I drive away from the grocery store. One is a good number. Zero population growth and all that. I've had to turn down gay friends' offers that we could have theirs... Thank you, but no.

So, while another child would not be the end of the world, I'm glad it's just the Monkey. Right now she's calling my name and I better go make sure she's not baking another cake or climbing the fridge in search of Big Daddy's candy stash. One is such a good number.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Normal Life

Now that everyone is gone and I'm done with my travels, life can get back to normal for awhile.
This weekend Big Daddy and I worked in the yard. We spent Saturday morning running errands. We loaded up on lumber at Lowe's and stocked the shelves with groceries. Big Daddy finished putting up the roosts in the chicken coop. He built them a cute little ladder so they climb up. So far I've only seen the silver spangled rooster actually roosting, although one brave black hen tried out the ladder.

Sunday Big Daddy built a new dog-proof compost bin complete with a gate for me. My life has changed so much that I get excited by a compost bin.

I worked in the garden both days. I pulled all the lettuce, which was beginning to bolt. In it's place there is a row of French filet beans. I strung twine to support my black-eyed peas as they are beginning to grow. The tomatoes are now staked and are starting to set fruit. I weeded and planted more marigolds and sunflowers. Both afternoons we had big thunderstorms, so I still haven't mowed the yard. Saturday's storm included a bunch of hail which beat the crap out of my squash plants. They'll survive although they are kind of ragged right now.

If it doesn't rain this afternoon, I'll pull the broccoli and put in a couple of rows of corn. Now I need to get to the gym and work off all the food I ate last week with the family.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Week of the Family Is Over

They've all gone home. All twelve of them. What a wonderful feeling it was to wake up this morning and realize I wouldn't have to drive across town to spend the day with my family. Don't get me wrong. I like my family. I was just a little tired of playing Julie the Cruise Director. I would say that most of my predictions came true. Fortunately there seemed to be no territorial feuds around the hot tub. There were heated discussions about baseball - "The American League is for girls!" There were clashes between the vegetarian and the carnivores -"Vegetarians just put all those vegetarian things in salads!" - mainly because Cousin #2 seems to thrive on conflict and my mother's buttons are so easy to push... (However, if Cousin #2 is going to devour a chicken breast like a starving lion downing a billy goat, then he has no room to criticize those of us who like to gnaw on flesh regularly.) I think there was a political discussion one night at dinner, but I was blissfully sitting at another table.

Things actually went pretty well this last week. Everybody enjoyed the Asheville Tourists baseball game on Tuesday night. Cousin #1 and I got in a nice hike one morning. Monkey got to play with her cousins and spend time with her grandparents. We took a train ride to the Nantahala Gorge. The men folk got in their annual game of golf, which in reality is only a contest between my brother and Cousin #3. The others mainly lose golf balls and come home injured.

My choices of restaurants were limited by the diverse tastes and requirements of the mob. There had to be vegetarian dishes. There had to be simple dishes as not to confuse the less adventuresome palates (difficult for me to do). There had to be beer. One choice initially seemed as if it would fail - there were no Anheuser-Busch products - but, my father came around and enjoyed his food and foreign beer. My father said, "I've never been anywhere in the United States where you couldn't get a Budweiser!" My thought, "You need to get out more often."

And so, it's over until next year. By the time it's time to plan the next family get-together, we will have forgotten how much spending a week with those you love can get on your nerves. Sometime around December or January someone will start asking where we should all go. We'll head off to a new destination. We'll ask the same questions. We'll tell the same stories. We'll have the same arguments. And then we'll give each other big hugs and return to our homes for another year.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Cocktail Hour

5:21 p.m.

I have cleaned the house - some rooms twice. I have fed the chickens, pulled some carrots, spread some grass seed and watered the nasturtiums.

I have spent the day fighting the entity known as Monkey the Destroyer of Worlds AKA Spawn of Big Daddy. She managed to paint the screened porch with her little kiddie paint brush and a forgotten yogurt tub of latex paint while I mopped the kitchen floor. Her evil genius knows no bounds. Please feel free to apply for the nanny position.

Big Daddy is still at his television gig. It's after 5:00. I think it's time to pop open a bottle of Highland Gaelic Ale, kick back and enjoy the view. Maybe if I drink enough of them I won't notice the nuclear bomb Monkey is constructing with her garden tools, a roll of duct tape and a couple of bungee cords in the garage.

Nanny Wanted

Experience with three year-olds a must. Non-Smoker. I would say non-drinker, but with this charge, you will probably need a stiff drink every now and again. Must be trained in anti-terrorist activities. Constant vigilance required.

Must be able to start job immediately. I mean right now. Today.

Besides keeping The Spawn of Big Daddy under constant surveillance, you must be able to clean out the garage because I just can't seem to get around to it.

Oh, and I really can't pay you anything, but we'll feed you and let you live in the garage (once you clean it out).

The Week of The Family Approaches

Tomorrow my family will be descending upon us for an entire week. My family and my mother's brother's (that would be my uncle) family have a week long get together every year. Last year was my uncle's beach place in Delaware. This year they chose Asheville. My brother and I were hoping for a Florida beach, but the cousins outnumber us and they won out. So here's the tally - my parents, my brother, his wife, two nieces, my aunt and uncle, my cousin, middle cousin and youngest cousin and his wife. That's 12 people. Add us to the mix and the total is 15. They are not staying at my house. I located a rental that sleeps 10 or 12 and they rented it. It will be an event.

My family will most likely give me great fodder for descriptive writing. We should avoid politics, but rarely do. It is entirely possible that there will be disputes about professional sports. The vegetarians may clash with the carnivores and there is likely to be some territorial issues involving the hot tub. Here's to family gatherings! Let's hope I find time for some entries next week.

Big Daddy is taping a show for Turner South today. It's called Bushwhacked. Other than the name, I don't know much about it except supposibly they take the worst house on the block and give it curb appeal. Stay tuned for details.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Home Sweet Home

8:10 a.m.

I came home from camp on Sunday night. Yesterday was a flurry of errand running, grocery shopping and catching up on things left unfinished before I left. Today will be more of the same. It's time to balance that checkbook and pay a few bills.

Everything became really green while I was gone. My garden is going wild and so are the weeds. I think I'll procrastinate on the bill paying for an hour or two and work outside. I decided to include the nasty boomerang shaped bed that is in the middle of our front yard in this photo. We've been using it as a fire pit for the last year to burn all the debris and bad trees we've been clearing from the woods. Soon it will be transformed into a stone fire pit lined with flagstone where we can relax and enjoy the evening. One of Big Daddy's crews is supposed to stop by today and move the flagstone from the driveway to the boomerang. All remnants of the boomerang will be removed. I can't wait! I've decided to leave the plot of daisies to the one side and add some other wild flowers to the mix. That's less mowing for me.

We are slowly transforming the edge of the lawn into controlled nature. We are also plotting out trails through the woods and around the edge of the property to accent specific plants. Our last yard and gardens were artfully contrived and controlled. It was beautiful and was and oasis in the middle of an urban setting. This time we're going with organized chaos.

I better get outside and get to work before we get more rain. The garden needs some managing and harvesting. Tonight we will dine on fresh peas. I need to see if there are any new potatoes yet. I love summer.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Letter From Camp

It is my fourth day at camp. It is raining. It is the fourth day it has rained. It is 60 degrees. This is Georgia. It is not right. I want a care package of chocolate chip cookies to arrive. Please.

Between the rain showers I've been able to ride. The horses are fat and generally happy. Tonight we have a cookout. In the rain. Joy. Luckily the outdoor kitchen is covered. The campfire tonight has been cancelled.

In two days Monkey and Big Daddy are coming to join me for the weekend. Hooray! I hope the rain stops.