Thursday, September 19, 2019

More Garden...

...And A Sad State Of Confusion

The garden this year has been a sort of controlled "Let's see what happend when I do this!" Here are the main contenders:

Somdewhere, there is a picture of two bags of this stuff, gutted open, and planted. I decided that eight openings on the ground was easier.

Interestingly, the lettuce leaves here are darker than the ones that took in the garden bed.

Tomatoes. I had given up on ever growing decent tomatoes; I gather there's something in the soil that races up the vine to see how many fruit it can kill before they are ready to be picked. So, when a  random plant sprouted in the corner of the garden bed, I thought "OK, let's see what happens."

There is a clutch of seven tomatoes hiding in the middle of the bush. Plus six or more green ones of various sizes.  Not to mention the four I have sitting in the kitchen.

They are all roughly the size you see me holding here (pretty close to actual scale!):

One woud think that, in the middle of small garden in a small town in Pennsyltucky (or Pretzelvania, if you prefer), we would be immune from gender self-identification type issues. But, no...

It seems that Basil has decided to identify as a strawberry.

Even more discouraging, one of the Romaine offspring has chosen to identify as a common weed, and go sprout in a crack in the sidewalk.

There's no talking sense to either of them.

I fear that neither will grow to be happy.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Friday Garden...

...Drunk Walk.  (Not really, just shots as they come from the camera, taken in no particular order.)

This late in the season, and there are two blueberry buds! 
Flowering bud!

A clutch(?) of ripening 'maters. Reddest one is about baseball size!

Volunteer Romaine! These were from seeds produced buy a plant I purchased at the store.

        About a week and 1/2 ago, I pulled everything, broke up the plants, and re-planted them.  
        The deadlooking ones mostly have green shoots, so the bed will be bangin' next year!

Peppers.  These are the ones that came (for free!) in my order from a nursery in
            New Mexico.  The ones I intentionally purchased did about as well - I have one 
            immature plant in a pot. It will come in when it gets cold, too.

Potted Basil.

Lower pot, Rosemary, which will be re-potted and brought in for the winter.

More strawberries, in a mini-Mexican pot. Plus Oregano!! 

The heavy rains and the weight of the tomatoes toppled the cage, but didn't uproot the plant.

Still rooted!
Horticultural notes:  The peppers sprouted quite well in a mini-hothouse I use. It consistes of water-saturated planting media in a square aluminun cake pan with a plastic lid ('bake and carry'). Pan with lid sits on a warming pad, and water condenses on the plastic lid.  Tapping the lid a couple of times creates 'rain', and the seeds stay hydrated!

Doc Deb and I discussed the interesting growth process pf these peculiar peppers. They sprout, and in about two weeks, hit about 4 inches tall. Then, they 'stall'.  I don't know if they're concentrating on root development (my hunch), but they stay the same height for about a month. Then, blammo, they get about 18 inches tall, and peppers sprout.

More on the peppers soon! (I'm doing a test quiche using them rather than Green Ortegas!)

Monday, August 5, 2019


Nadia, aka Nadia the Obese, and more lovingly, Nadie-boo, passed away sometime last Sunday (June 28) afternoon/evening/night. I left the house at about three, and she was gone when I got back at eleven.

She had developed some large masses under the skin around her hip and base of her tail. She also developed a runny nose and eyes, The final insult was congested lungs, and patches of skin peeling off. The latter was not ordinary dermatitis, but peeling of skin a couple of layers thick.

I was feeding her and watering her using a syringe. She took the water and chicken broth, and her kidneys seemed to be working fine.

Nadie was a Tortoise shell cat (as if you couldn't tell from her picture). Torties are known for being moody, if not psychotic. She was also a 'hidey' cat, meaning that she would dive for the nearest safe space if something scared her.

On the other hand, she did get the Shibas under enough control to suit her.

Above is a picture of the very first time Nadia deigned to be on the bed with Suzu. (Like me, Baxter is staring in disbelief.) She eventually tolerated Dakota as well. There were a couple of discussions about territory, though. The fierst time, I was awakened by loud cat vocalizations. I was awakened the second time by a heavy paw in the middle of my back as Dakota made his departure from the bed.

There was some blood spatter on the bedspread the first time, and some bloody paw-prints after the second. Both time I checked noses and faces and paws of all involved, but found no sign of damage.

When it was my bedtime, I would have to encourage her to move over with a shove. I figured out that it was easier to use the bed covers to roll her over to the other side. Once I got in and got comfy, she would come back to my side foe some attention. Her method of notifying me was to put her paw on my arm, and flex her claws. which resulted in a whole bunch of skin punctures.

Out of curiosity, a year or so ago, I did the 'weight me, then weigh me holding her' thing to get her weight.  Guesses. anyone? (Answer below the fold.)

I got Nadia as a companion for Baxter, after Shin-wa got run over (and killed. By me. Worst Saturday ever.) She was a normal size cat when I met her. She and Baxter lived in the garage, because the Mistress of Pain was highly allergic to cats. When I went out to the garage, I would see her peeking out from behind some shelves. After a couple of months of that I decided to pull her out and see how she was.

She was obese. And she stayed that way up until the last couple of months.

During the winter here in Pa, it was not unusual for me to see her burrowed under the covers during the day, so she could keep warm. I'd get home and go upstairs to find a large lump in the bed, with her face just peeking out.

I hope she's with all of her friends who preceeded her, and that she's content.

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Well. I took a week off to go out to Montana and see my daughter and the rest of the family. I hired a gentleman to come in twice a day to check on the cats, and walk Thumper. This would be the first time that I would be away for a relatively long period of time (ten days), and Thump would have to adjust to a new alpha human.

Steve, the guy I hired, is retired, and (I believe) does pet sitting to get out of his wife's way. He was a godsend. He did a bunch of extra stuff, like some cleaning up of poo in the house that I hadn't gotten to before I left, and got Thump some new toys to play with. In his written summary, he said:
"Thunper would let me sit on the sofa with him. (He) would let me scratch his back and rub his head with the walking harness on. ... He is learning to trust."
Funny thing was, when I got home and Steve came over to collect his check, Thump pretty much ignored him. I think he was letting us know who he thought the boss was!

A couple of days ago, Thumper and I went for one of our usual walks. As we were coming back in the alley behind the three townhomes, we ran in to our neighbor who lives on the other end unit. He and I started talking about some maintenance issues, while Thumper just stood there. At one point, my neighbor idly bent over and scratched Tumper on his back.

Thumper. Did. Not. React.

We have crossed the Rubicon. I don't know if this extends to the little kids who want to pet him or not, but it signals a major breakthru!   He has become much more comfortable with people than he has ever been since I met him.

He's becoming a real dog.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Friday Garden, Before And After

About a month and a half ago, I started to resurrect the garden from a year's worth of neglect. The oldest part of the oldest bed finally gave out - it has rotted at the joints. I'm salvaging what I can, and re-arranging things a bit.

Remains of the oldest bed. Top half is all the can be re-used as-is.

The new potato bed, with potato sprouts
I'm experimenting with a new potato growing technique. I was told by one of the guys at the auction to keep burying the sprouts as they come up, which causes them to grow more potatoes. I've doubled the height of this bed, and will add one more layer. This makes use of another bed that started to rot.

10 Gallon Potato Bag
I'm also experimenting with the bag o' taters! Same principle, just in a canvas bag. The bag has a door flap that you can use to 'pick' potatoes without pulling up the parent plant.

Romaine lettuce and onions
I pulled up the oregano, replaced it with red and green romaine, and tidied up the onions.

Below, the two blackberry sticks:

Progress below the fold!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Catching Up

OK. This is a photo fueled ramble, pretty much in chronological order.

First, the establishing shot! Last fall, I got the patio cleaned up and the heavier bits of construction wood out of the elements.

Here's a random shot of Thumper campling out in the laundry basket. He has gotten calmer and more pet-like around me. I can approach, reach and scritch him with no downside. (Others can't - an elderly gentelman tested that out for us last week.) He's excited to see me when I come down in the morning/get home from work, and is generally more manageable. He still quivers, but less so than before.

We have become buddies.

Work is progressing on the walk-thru closet: 

Much more below the fold!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Manly Crockpotting (Now With Update)

Update:  I use Twitter in an effort to broaden my readership here. One response, from a friend:
I always thought the header pic on my Twitter profile was a dead giveway.  Huh.

* * * * * * * * * *

Once again, an e-mail to friends turns into a post:

I stumbled upon the Art of Manliness site a while back, and have subscribed to their weekly news letter.  I also have a link to their site in the blogs.  Anyway, they put out some (dare I say it?) good, old-fashioned advice on all sorts of things, from survival tips to tying neckties.

So, today, I found their advice on crockpots.  Since cooking and eating are required by everyone, not just men, I thought I'd pass it along.  Only problem I see (as a single guy) is the copious quantities of stuff it makes, but that can be frozen.

I just finished a batch my white chicken chili, and thought I'd pass it on with the article:

(Notes are in parenthises. I don't generally measure too much, as you will see, so the measurements are approximate where noted. Yes. I open the pot whilst cooking to check on taste and doneness, so I can tweak the flavors to my taste.)

Lee's White Chicken Chili  

2 can of navy beans (I only had one can, so I used a can of black beans)

One of those chicken-turkey hybrid skinless breasts

(I tossed in a thigh w/ skin for the flavor. Thumper approved highly.)

1 small can of diced ortega chiles

1 medium onion, chopped or diced

Teaspoon cummin

Teaspoon dried oregano

1 - 2 cups chicken broth

A splash of Tapatio hot sauce (more or less, to taste)

(Tapatio just adjusts the 'picante' of a dish without extraneous flavor, which is why I recommend it for general purpose cooking. Although I see it in a lot of gerocery stores, I usually buy it a Walmart, because their price is usually about $3.00 for the quart bottle. But use whatever you want.)

Cut the chicken breast into chunks.

Drain the beans.

Toss everything into the pot, add broth till you can see it peeking thru the ingredients.

(Sigh. OK, I was thawing a jar of frozen broth on the stove while prepping, adding it from the jar as I went, so the volume used is a bit hazy. And use the whole can of chiles, juice and all.)

Set it to high. After about 4 hours, it should be close to done. When the chicken chunks fall apart easily, you're there.

(I will try doing an 8 - hour version on low to see how that cooks. Science experiment!!)

(One more note: I added about 1/4 cup of Salsa Lizano, which is a condiment/sauce I discovered in Costa Rica. It gave the chili a bit of a curry flavor, which is what I like it for. I use it when I make Arroz Amirillo con Pollo, too. You can, of course, get it from Amazon.)