Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Swine Flu?


Despite a bit of joking around on the subject, I do not think that I have the flu, and I certainly do not think that I have the Swine Flu. I have a case of--my get up and go has got up and went. This is a semi-permanent condition, probably caused by diet, and I need to change that and some other unpleasant things in my life. But while I am spending more time in bed and don't feel like doing much, I do get up and garden when weather permits, and occasionally I get up and do something else. I am not currently just lay down and die sick. I'm very rarely that sick.

As far as other people having the flu, I'm not sure how seriously I should take this whole thing just yet.

A few days ago one of the towns about an hour away decided to close the schools for a few days while they did some serious cleaning. Apparently one of their students has the Swine Flu, so they decided to close the schools and clean everything just in case.

Then this little kid in Houston died. But the child in Houston caught the flu in Mexico. It's not like everyone in Houston has the Swine Flu. And then I don't know how long the little kid was in Mexico, and if the kid might have lived if taken to a U.S. hospital sooner.

But then last night they decided to shut down all of the Fort Worth public school system until May 11th. Shutting down big schools like that...well...maybe it is starting to sound a little bit scary.

This is one of those days when I wish my dad was still around to talk to.

I don't remember the Swine Flu in the seventies. I don't know if they closed schools and such then. Anyway, the subject of the Swine Flu came up one day, and he talked about it as if it was a cruel joke. And the way he told it, the president ordered everyone to go and get vaccinated. I don't always get a flu shot, just sometimes it seems like a good idea. My parents always got flu shots in the nineties and after that, but in the seventies and the eighties they didn't always get one, just sometimes when they had a feeling about it. Other times they didn't bother with it. Other times they decided that taking three screaming kids to get shots was not a great idea. And despite the medical evidence that you can't get the flu from the flu shot, some people are just very sensitive to the shots and get sick that day or the day after. So if you get a flu shot on Friday your weekend is spoiled, and if you get a flu shot during the week you risk missing work or school (or at least feeling bad enough to want to miss work or school). And then after all of that you might still get the flu, cause maybe you were exposed to it already and you didn't get the shot soon enough to do it's job. Or maybe you were exposed to some other strain that the shot doesn't work against.

Maybe you were even exposed to the flu while you were standing in line to get your flu shot.

So I don't remember the Swine Flu in the seventies, but to hear my dad talk about it everyone was ordered to get a shot, people had to take their screaming kids to get a shot that their parents didn't think that they needed, people were sick that day and the day after, people ended up getting some other form of the flu anyway, and people were all scared for no reason. Nothing happened. Nobody got the Swine Flu.

I don't remember this stuff. I don't know how much of this was exaggeration. I don't know if people were actually ordered to get vaccinated. And I don't know if literally no one got the Swine Flu.

All of this put me in the mood to watch old episodes of Survivors on YouTube. But it seems that most of it has been removed.

Oh, well. Back to Baby Spice the Dinosaur Slayer.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Back to gardening a bit

Well, I so wanted to give this post a more interesting title, but then I noticed some of my fellow bloggers have added this feature to their blogs that advertises what I and others have most recently blogged about. So it was announced to everyone that I was going back to bed, and everyone knew that I was going back to bed, even those people who don't bother to read my blog. I'm not sure if in the future I want it announced that I have stayed in bed or that I finally got out of bed or that I'm doing something in bed, etc....

Anyway, so for the moment, I am out of bed. Maybe it is too soon to count my chickens and say that I am well, but at the moment I do not feel sick. Earlier, I even got out of the house for a little while, and I've spent a couple of hours doing stuff in the garden in between reading emails and watching The Outer Limits.

Of course, having neglected the garden for a few days, it is now supposed to rain either tonight or maybe tomorrow night, and it is almost for certain that it will rain quite a bit on Monday. So I will again be unable to do any gardening, because there will just be all of this mud that I cannot deal with.

I have now bought three pieces of clothing and a yard of fabric that I should be able to turn into a Vulcan costume. That is, I should be able to turn it into a Vulcan costume if I would just sit down and do it. But one has to put aside gardening and being sick and such before one can do that. And then there is the problem of not wanting to go to all the trouble of making a costume if I cannot get the makeup right. And to shave or not to shave, that is the question. I usually do not shave my eyebrows for this, nor do I do much in the way of tweezing, but on the rare occasions that I did it before, I always had these big glasses to hide what I had done until the eyebrows grew back. The wire frame glasses I have now don't hide anything. If I shave my eyebrows to draw on fake Vulcan eyebrows, for weeks after that I will also have to draw on regular human eyebrows.

I'll give that some more thought.

Anyway, I am out of bed for the now, though I could very well be back in it again before this time tomorrow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Going back to bed now

Okay, so as some of you may know, I'm not getting along that well with my mother these days, and I spoke to her yesterday. Not that we said anything particular bad yesterday. In fact, this is probably the nicest conversation that I've had with my mother in more than a year. Not much of a conversation, but no yelling and no actual crying.

Maybe this is progress.

Anyway, usually talking to my mother leads to talking about things that I've already said that I don't want to discuss. And this leads to the yelling and the crying. And then later, I get sick. Literally, I get sick. I don't feel well. I stay in bed. Maybe I take over the counter medications meant for people who eat too stuff that they aren't supposed to. Maybe after all of that I end up getting sick anyway.

Okay, so last night, I got sick again. I haven't been sick in a very long time, and I haven't talked to my mother that much. Coincidence?

Might also have something to do with the fact that we've eaten out a lot recently. I don't want to eat out so much, but I went out with my friends this weekend, and then I've gone out a lot with my husband, who always wants to eat out. I usually only like to eat out once or twice a week.

So, I talked to my mom yesterday and didn't get much useful done yesterday, and then last night I didn't feel well. And I kept waking up, even though I took some pills to go to sleep.

Now I don't feel that sick, but after not getting much sleep, I think that I'd rather just stay in bed. I had all these things that I wanted to get done today, but I don't think that much of that is going to happen. Best to just give up and go back to bed and wait for the day to be over.

Maybe I can do all that other stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What kind of chair is this?

So I was looking at the little bit of my garden that seems to be doing okay, except that two of my herbs have died. And that's weird cause one of them lived outside with another plant in a pot all winter, but then I put it into the ground and give it more space, and it dies. The other one didn't look so good when I bought it, so that wasn't much of a surprise when it died.

So I was thinking that I should go and buy another plant to replace the dead one, but I never remember to get it when I'll already out doing stuff. Today I had planned to work on a costume (after I watched Fringe), but then my mom called. Now, this is the most pleasant conversation I have had with my mother in a very long time, but I guess that I still just don't want to talk to her that much. She said that she didn't want me to be mad at her about something, and that we can talk about plans, but I'm just not ready to do that after what she said the last time. So we didn't talk about it, and we spent a couple of hours talking, mostly about nothing.

Okay, I mostly listened to her talk about nothing.

So then it is like five o'clock, and I don't think I'm going to get any work done on that costume, so I might as well go and get that plant. I just needed to get something done, and that was the shortest thing on my list.

So I am at a nearby plant place that is small and independent. They don't have the best selection, and they don't have the best prices, but I will say that they are nice and mark each individual plant instead of just saying that this tray is this plant, and then you end up with a totally different plant because somebody moved them around.

So I am at the plant place, just to get this one herb plant, and I guess it doesn't matter that I can get less expensive plants somewhere else if I'm only going to buy one then it doesn't make that much difference. But I look around some, just in case there is something else that I need, and I find a pepper plant that I do not have. So that's two plants. So that's two plants that together cost me almost four dollars, but that's okay, cause it isn't worth the trouble of driving somewhere else to save a dollar or so.

And then when I am looking around at the other plants, I see this wooden chair, and it is a little wooden chair more the size for a child than for an adult. And there is a hole cut into the seat of the chair, and there's a planter stuck in the chair.

Well, maybe that looks really cute when there's actually a plant growing in it, but my first thought was that it looked a whole lot like a potty chair.

I would not like a wooden potty chair. I might get splinters.

Anyway, so I paid for my two plants, and on the way out I saw a little table that also had a hole and a planter stuck in it. So maybe a couple of chairs with planters around a table with a planter might not look so bad, especially once the plants are actually growing in them. But just one chair off by itself just makes me think....

That just looks like a potty chair.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A reminder

If you didn't see The Big Bang Theory episode of Penny and Sheldon exchanging Christmas gifts (or if you would just like to see it again), you can watch it tonight at 7pm on CBS.

Monday Morons: Please do not block the shopping carts

A few days back I went to Home Depot and while I was there I bought some of the scrap lumber to do garden stuff with. I had such great luck with that the first day that the next day I went to a different Home Depot to buy some more. It was raining a little bit that day, so I had my head down a little bit to keep my glasses from getting too wet.

So I looked for the thing where you put the shopping carts when you get done with them. I'm not sure what they are called, but I think it is called a shopping cart corral. At Home Depot, the shopping cart corrals are rather large, because in addition to putting regular shopping carts in them you also park larger carts there if you were actually buying lots of building supplies.

Anyway, so I looked for one of these shopping cart corrals just to get a regular shopping cart before I went in the store. And I saw where one was that had shopping a few shopping carts in it, and then I tilted my head down again and walked toward it. And there were only the really large carts on the one side, which I didn't think I needed, but there were regular shopping carts on the other side. So I was going to get one, but then I couldn't because someone had parked their car halfway inside the corral, so that you couldn't get the shopping carts out.

I mean, I realize that they had someone paint the parking lot before they put in the corrals, and that technically the place was stripped as a parking space, but do they really not have enough sense to know not to park in the corral? Can they not handle walking an extra twenty feet or so to park in regular parking space?

What is wrong with people?

Okay, I have a few other things that are not really about morons, I was just wondering about them.

This first thing would fit better in a Freaky Friday, but I haven't done one of those for a while, and I would rather not do one this week either. For the last few days I have been getting hits from China. I see China on the tracker, but I don't see any search words or referrers or anything like that. Just like forty people from China stopped by for no apparent reason. And I haven't written anything particularly interesting these last few days, and I haven't written anything about China, so I totally don't get it.

The other thing was an odd bit of clothing that I noticed about a week ago.

There are these dollar stores around, and they have been around for many years, but in the past few years I haven't gone to those as often as I have the newer stores that are part of large chains like Dollar Tree and Only 99 Cents Store. But I still went to the independent stores once in a while, cause they sometimes have something I want that the other stores don't. Like there is this store near my house that tends to have a lot of stuff like nails and clamps and other tools.

Recently, this particular store decided to drastically change the store. So they moved all of the dollar store stuff to one half of the store, and some of that stuff stayed a dollar and some of it got marked up a little bit. The other half of the store is now thrift store stuff, mostly used clothing. And then there in the middle of the store is some new clothing, mostly cheap bras.

So I am looking at the new clothing, and they have these cheap girdles, and I notice that they are a bit odd looking. And for a moment I thought that maybe they were made for men. I don't know if there are girdles especially made for cross-dressers, but maybe there are, and maybe the items weren't selling well and they ended up in this thrift store. But, no. Closer inspection of the item revealed that the odd looking part of the garment was a pocket.

Okay, I don't think that I have ever seen a girdle with a pocket before.

Are these made for hookers or what?

Maybe I'm just out of the loop. Maybe this is the new thing. Or maybe everybody out there is wearing girdles with pockets, and I'm just the last to know.

So, should I get a girdle with a pocket?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Billy Mummy will NOT be in Dallas this weekend

Okay, he wasn't going to be in Dallas anyway, he was going to be in Richardson. Close enough. Anyway, I just read that he isn't going to be at the Sci Fi Expo this weekend because of some family emergency. So I hope that whatever it is isn't too bad.

As for the fans who wanted to meet him, try again in August.

Me, I had already decided that I wasn't going anyway. I hate Dallas. And I hate going to a lot of near Dallas because it pretty much means driving through Dallas. So after a month or so of thinking about it, I decided not to go, even to meet Billy Mummy. And for me that would have been the main reason to go. Sure meeting all those other people would have been nice, but the main thing for me would have been seeing Billy Mummy.

Hey, look, Tony Todd. How did I miss that the first time?

No, still not going. Not for Billy Mummy and Tony Todd. So definitely not going now that Billy Mummy isn't going to be there.

So, why am I posting this?

For some reason, this was where some people first heard about the whole Fedcon disaster, so I thought that I should post Billy Mummy's cancellation, and the fact that some of the other guests might be late (Michael Hogan's flight was delayed), etc.... But these little things happen, so it's not really like Fedcon at all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A reminder

I probably should have told everyone this morning to watch or record tonight's episode of CSI. It will be set at a sci fi convention.

And Supernatural seems to be a rerun tonight, so that shouldn't be a problem for anyone.

Live long, and be happy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Going to college

I'm not sure if I've posted this before.

I took a few college courses before I was eighteen. First, I wanted to take creative writing. That class didn't go the way I had imagined. I met some nice people, but the teacher wasn't there a third of the time, we were learning next to nothing from him and mostly getting bad grades for our efforts. Out of a class of twenty-five students, only eleven stayed till the middle of the semester we we got back the grades from our first major assignment, and only three people stayed til the end of the semester to get credit for the class. I was one of the eleven, but not one of the three.

Freshman English was better, but still not quite what I needed. And since my mother was under the impression that we would be charged for a minimum of three classes, freshman history was also forced on me. I got an A in English but only a C in history. It was a lot of work for that C in history, so for the second semester I took the TV version. I still only got a C, but it was a lot less work and I only had to go to campus four times a semester to take tests.

I dropped out of two other classes, not because they were hard, but because we were moving and it was not convenient to drive that far to school three times a week.

Okay, so that wasn't all that exciting, and I took a year off from college. And unfortunately I mostly stayed at home that year, so that wasn't very exciting either.

Anyway, I was ordered to go to college full time, and after a year of sitting at home I was pretty much ready to try that. I took really basic stuff. The other half of freshman English, government, algebra, a couple of art classes, and astronomy. I found out that astronomy only counted as an elective instead of a science, so the next year I took geology, more art classes, trigonometry, sophomore English, and world religion. I won some art supply money and tuition for some more art classes.

There did not seem to be any connection between degree plans and getting a good job. Well, sometimes there is. Sometimes there is something really straight forward, like if you want to be a doctor you take pre-med stuff to get into medical school where they teach you to become a doctor. But liberal art degrees are not really like that. You read a lot of books in school and get an English degree, and then probably no one hires you to read books after school. Or you learn photography in college and get a degree in art before you join the military because you get paid more for going to college first, and in the military you end up doing who knows what, but it doesn't have anything to do with photography or art. So there doesn't seem to be many jobs that requires you to have a specific liberal arts degree, except for teaching one of the liberal arts. So be sure to get that teaching certificate just in case you decide to do that.

So I didn't want to become a doctor or join the military, but I was ordered to go to college and get a degree, just some degree, who cares which one. And my dad kept saying how people who go to college usually make more money, even if they don't end up doing whatever it was that they learned at school. So I was leaning towards getting an art degree. Most of my credits were in art, and I won some tuition money for art, etc....

So, when I transferred to a university, I signed up for more art classes and a foreign language. One of the art classes I signed up for was graphics 101. It was all about letters. I really didn't care much about it, but graphics was the only real job that seemed to come from getting an art degree. So I figured that I should take that stuff, just in case the freelance painting didn't make enough money.

Graphics 101 was rather like the creative writing class, except that the teacher was actually there for all of her classes. Still, she didn't seem to be teaching us anything, and then half of the semester went by before we did anything to get graded on. And then she just started handing back bad grades, with no real explanation as to how we might improve. At some point she said that a bunch of us should drop the class before we got an F on our transcripts. When I asked for help she just said that maybe I should have taken some other classes first.

I had taken the other classes first.

Well, I hadn't taken them from her.

I just couldn't do that. I can't just start over and take all the prerequisites again every time I get a new teacher. They are all supposed to be teaching the same thing. And the classes that she mentioned didn't have anything to do with what I was getting bad grades for. Design 101 was about the color wheel and such. We didn't even have any color in graphics 101.

So, I dropped that class. My parents didn't like that, but what else are you supposed to do when your teacher orders you to get out? My parents expected me to take it again the next semester, which I did not, because it the only person teaching it was that same professor. I would have to wait until someone else offered it. I didn't realize at the time how unlikely that was.

The next semester I dropped two other classes. One was an English class that was in the evening, and I just couldn't seem to focus, and they didn't have enough books for us so we were always behind schedule, and I just didn't think I'd ever catch up. The other was an art history class, and that I was supposed to write a paper for, but I just couldn't seem to come up with anything that made the teacher happy.

And then my parents asked me what job I was planning to get with my art degree.

I don't know. I was ordered to go to college, so I'm going to college.

At that point I was told to either switch to a different degree (they didn't know which one, probably English), pay for the rest of the art degree myself, or not go back to college in the fall and get a full time job.

I did not have the option of switching to an English degree in the fall, because I only had one sophomore English class. English majors had to have at least two, and maybe they even told you which two you had to have. But my parents did not want to hear that.

I couldn't pay for the rest of my education, but it took me a few years to figure that out. I kept thinking that I was going to go back after I saved some money.

I got some really dumb jobs. I worked at some fast food places. But those weren't full time, so I ended up working for a year at an amusement park.

Once I figured out that I wasn't going to get that art degree anytime soon, I went back to junior college to get that "transfer degree" which I hadn't bothered with before because it required speech and a couple of other things that I knew that I didn't need for the art degree. I was short a few more classes than I thought, so I ended up going back part-time for three semesters.

So then I had my "transfer degree". I started applying for jobs that wanted people with "some college". No one was impressed that I had this degree. I finally had to go back to work and took a job at a movie theater.

Now, at that point I probably would have just stayed there and then gone on to be the assistant manager of a movie theater, and even though I didn't especially want to be a theater manager I probably would have eventually done that. Except that I got married, and my weird hours didn't mesh well with my husband's weird hours, so I quit before I got that assistant manager job that I wanted.

And then my husband thought that maybe I should just not have a job for a while....

Several years later, I finally did go back to work, but not at anything that paid well enough to take seriously, and not at anything that I particularly liked. But then I got a job at a school, which was part-time and didn't pay much more than minimum wage, but I was really happy there anyway. And while it wasn't really college, I did audit a couple of classes, which made me want to go back to college for real, and with the job I had at the time going to afternoon college classes would have been easy.

Except that my husband got a job that he really liked, and they pretty much demanded that I work with him if he didn't want to be let go. I didn't like the new job, and they didn't like me, but they just wanted me to work for them so that they could save on motel rooms and travel expenses.

So between the travel I did for that job and some other traveling that we did, I didn't go back to school like I wanted for another three years.

By that time I had the idea that I wanted to be a teacher. Bad idea. But at the time I wasn't going to be talked out of going back to school, and I didn't know what else I might want to go back to school for.

I picked just the worst time to go to school to become a teacher. They were changing all the degree plans, and I just couldn't get a straight answer on anything. My degree plan changed three times.

I had a summer job taking care of ten kids. I decided that not only did I not like kids as much as I thought, dealing with parents is sometimes a pain too. I still wasn't quite ready to give up on the idea, since I had waited all this time to go back to school, and I knew that if I didn't get my degree then I probably never would.

My last teaching degree plan was for high school English, and then since I had most of the classes I needed for an English degree, I just switched to that. So then all I had to do was take a few more English classes, British history, and a certain art class to get a minor in art.

So I had this English degree, and as I suspected, no one wanted to hire me to read books. So far having a degree has not lead to a better job. In fact, so far having the degree hasn't lead to any job. Nobody cares that I have this degree. In fact, when I was seriously looking for work, the fact that I took off for several years to go to school seemed to count against me just getting the same boring jobs that I used to get.

So I pretty much gave up on trying to get a job. I still look once in a while, but my last interview was more than two years ago. That one really made me feel bad. Not only did he not care that I had gone back to school to get an English degree, but he seemed to be bothered that my last job was a temp job at a Halloween store. I needed some money and I took a temp job. What's wrong with that?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some thoughts, most of which are not about gardening

After getting about three or four hours sleep and then spending another three or four hours trying to get back to sleep, I finally give up and come in here to finish yesterday's post.

This morning I am craving sweet sticky rice. This is really odd because a.) I have only had sweet sticky rice once, and b.) I don't remember being especially fond of the stuff.

I have had it with my husband a.) not doing what I want, and b.) actually having the nerve to tell me what I do and do not want.

Saturday we went to the drugstore and returned with a twenty dollar bag of assorted pain meds and a tube of muscle rub. Why is it that many of the products especially marketed for body aches are in powdered form? They do not seem to contain significantly different ingredients than the pills marketed for headaches. In any case, I do seem to be mostly well now, though that is temporary, as I will feel bad again soon after the weather will permit serious gardening.

About three weeks ago I was trying to watch what I was eating and watch what I was spending, and I was feeling better, and I may have lost a few pounds. And then that all went out the window. My husband wanted me to go have lunch with some of his co-workers, and we've pretty much been eating out since then. So we have been eating out a lot, often at buffets and places where I eat too much or something that is not good for me, and I haven't been eating my yogurt or much in the way of vegetables. I'm not saying that I'm sick, just that I don't really feel that great either.

The computer just ate a very long email I wrote. I'm wondering if I should rewrite it. I'm wondering if I even can rewrite it.

I really liked blogging for a while, but now sometimes I only do it cause I have to sit here for a few hours in the morning and try to be quiet. I hate trying to be quiet. I would much rather go back to bed and watch reruns of Star Trek. Sometimes when I do that I actually go back to sleep. Not going to go back to sleep by sitting here blogging.

Still wanting that rice dessert.

Yesterday was a nice day, but I hardly got anything done. It will probably rain again on Thursday and Friday.

I hate fire ants. I'm not too fond of other ants either.

I do not like getting old and not being able to sleep all night. By contrast I did not mind so much being a teenager who couldn't fall asleep at a reasonable time, because that just meant I got more reading done.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Delusions of grandeur and the garden part 2

I am not working the garden today. There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that it is too wet outside, and there just isn't that much that I can do outside with all of this mud. And the second reason I am not working in the garden for a while is...

Taz hate pain!

So, you might be wondering why I keep trying to do this garden stuff if I am such a big wimp.

Most of the gardening I like to do requires a lot of work initially, but after that, not so much. You dig a hole, put proper garden soil in it, add a pepper plant, surround the pepper plant with weed block fabric and mulch, and water the plant. After that, all you have to do is water the plant and pick the peppers until the fall frost. There is no more major work to be done until the next spring, and even then it is not that much work (if there is proper garden soil) to dig up the old plant and a few weeds and put in a new pepper plant.

The same is mostly true of tomato plants (though there is a trick to pruning and staking some of them that I haven't quite got the hang of yet) and okra plants and eggplant and squash, though squash takes up a lot more space.

Asparagus is more work to begin with, but even less work after the first year, so that all you have to do is check a few times a year for weeds and once or twice a year clean the area of leaves and such. And then you have asparagus for the next fifteen years or so.

Root plants are easy enough to get started, but they are usually planted too close together to bother with weedblock fabric and mulch, so those areas have to be weeded once a week or so. Still, if you have loose soil, and you remember to do it on a regular basis, it isn't too difficult. But squatting on the ground like that to pull a few weeds is more work than I like to do, so I usually don't grow much of that stuff.

Some of the herbs are easy. Except mint, which is not difficult to grow, just difficult to contain.

Flower bulbs are easy, except that tulips and hyacinths do not come back the next year as good as the first year. It is too warm for them here. And irises can be tricky. But for most flower bulbs that grow around here, you dig a hole, you put bulbs in the hole, you cover the hole, you put mulch over the hole, you add water, and then you get flowers. Easy.

So there is all this hard work to begin with, and then you get vegetables and herbs and flowers. And then you do a little more work that isn't so bad, and you get more vegetables and herbs and flowers.

Or, you can not do that hard work in beginning, and just have grass.

I hate grass.

Mowing the grass is just as much work as maintaining a garden. You push a lawn mower around, and then you get out the weed wacker for the spots that the lawn mower missed, and you get hot and tired and your arms get sore and maybe you have allergies and start sneezing and such.

And what do you get for your efforts of mowing the grass?

More grass, which you have to mow again in a week or so.

I have no use for all this grass. I do not have a cow or a goat that eats it, and I don't play golf on it. And it is just about the most boring plant I can think of. And after all that work, it just doesn't look that good. All the work that I have to do with the grass is just so that I can walk from one spot to another, and so that I don't have to pay fines to the city (and then more fines to the office when they eventually send someone cut the grass for me if I take too long to do it). To actually make the lawn look good, that takes even more work. You have to mow the grass more often and pull up weeds and such.


If I wanted to look out at the lawn and see yard after yard of the same uniform solid green plant, why would I want it to be grass? There are so many other plants that would do something just as good or better. Scotch moss is softer to walk on and shorter and never needs mowing. Clover looks much more interesting and doesn't get very tall, and when it is at it's tallest you also get flowers. Thyme and oregano and mint get a bit tall, so you would have to cut it once in a while, but when you did you'd get nice scent of thyme and oregano and mint.

So I have this idea that if I do enough work to start with that I'll have garden beds instead of grass, and that eventually all the grass in the backyard will be gone, and I'll just have vegetables and maybe a couple of fruit trees and them maybe I'll try some strawberries and a few berry bushes.

And then it would be nice to get rid of the grass in the front yard and just have stepping stones to walk around the flowers and herbs.

It would be so nice to have no grass to mow, ever.

As it is now, I have a three by twelve foot garden bed, another four by five foot garden bed, a four by six foot asparagus bed, about a four by eight foot space of mulched over Jerusalem artichokes, a three by three foot planter and a four by four foot planter, a mound of dirt about four by five foot, and mulched (or soon to be mulched) pathways about two foot wide between all of those things. With all that and another mound of dirt and a cement slab where there used to be a storage shed, right now there's only about half of the backyard that has grass and such to be mowed.

It would be nice to have another asparagus bed and to do something with the rest of the space. I know that if I actually had vegetables growing in all of that space that I would have more vegetables than my whole family could eat if we all suddenly turned vegetarian, which I'm sure that we won't. So that might seem like a waste. But I still have this vision of doing something useful and growing food in all of that space, and maybe having some friends over to help, and then they could have half of the stuff that we grew. And then gardening would be fun again, like it was when I lived in Fort Worth.

Right now it just seems like a chore. But still, it is a more useful chore than mowing grass.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Delusions of grandeur and the garden part 1

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I've been working on my garden on and off now since about the last week of February. And I do a lot of whining about how much work it is, and how tired it makes me, and how much resting I do after moving a spoonful of dirt, and about how long everything takes, and how much pain I am in after I get anything accomplished.

This has caused one of my new readers to tell me how impressed she is that I'm doing all this work.

I wonder if someone reading my blog has an accurate mental picture of what my backyard looks like. You would think that with all of my complaining about how bad I feel that I had done just tons of work, and that by now I have a really impressive garden.

I do not.

I have the new garden bed, which I dug and then put soil back in the hole last month, and I have now put in tomato plants and a few other plants and planted a few seeds, and this week I will put in a few more seeds.

But it still isn't finished.

I have to make some stakes for the tomatoes and the cucumbers and such. I didn't see any plain ones that were as tall as I wanted, and I couldn't afford the tall decorative things, so I bought some lumber. So now I have to cut little points on the ends of them, and I think that should paint the things. I hope that if I paint them it will be a while before they start to rot and I won't have to replace them for a few years. Then I have to attach this green plastic stuff at the top of the stakes (which I hope will encourage more growth of the tomato and cucumber plants), and then I have to put up this little metal fence to keep the rabbits out. I have some of the plastic green stuff left from a previous project (but I may have to go and buy more), I bought some paint Friday, and I bought the rabbit fence last year but never got around to doing anything with it.

So that is the new garden bed that isn't quite finished yet, but looks pretty good so far. It measures about three feet by twelve feet. To one side of it is this really huge mound of dirt that I will have to move. That will be a long-term project, and it will have to wait a while.

To the other side of the new garden bed is the asparagus bed. It is about four feet by six feet. It mostly does what it was supposed to do. I had this idea that it would look really cool to have the asparagus growing through sand, and that would keep out weeds, and that I should put a bunch of seashells in the sand. It didn't quite work out the way I pictured. For one thing, the project required a lot more sand than I had imagined. And while it keeps out some weeds, some do actually sprout in the sand, and if I don't pull the weeds soon enough the roots eventually get down to the regular garden soil, and then they are a real hassle to get rid of after that. Also, I have a pecan tree in my backyard, so a lot of leaves and a few pecans end up in the sand, and I have to clean out that sort of thing once or twice a year. So I have to remove all those shells that I thought would look so cool, and then I remove the leaves and such with a kitty litter scoop. This is best done before the asparagus starts growing, but I haven't gotten around to doing it yet this year.

Now, on the other side of the asparagus bed is the four feet by five feet garden bed that I dug last year, and I didn't do a very good job of it. So for the last two days I have been working on making this one better. I have planted a few things in it and will finish planting stuff in it this week.

On the other side of last year's garden bed is another big mound of dirt, but not as big as the one next to the new bed. I intend to try to do something with this mound of dirt, rather than trying to move it. In fact, I will probably be adding more dirt and trying to grow potatoes or sweet potatoes or something in it. But I have to do something to it so that it more resembles a garden bed instead of just the mound of dirt that it is now. The preferred method of doing this is to surround the dirt with bricks or cinder blocks or something of that sort. But bricks and cinder blocks and such are expensive, and so I probably won't be using those, but I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do. Maybe some rabbit fence and some weed block fabric, but I'm not sure that would work either.

Across from the new garden bed I am trying to start an herb garden. I didn't dig this bed as deep as any of the others, because it was just too close to the tree. And these are all perennial plants, and since I won't be digging around in it every year, I just mostly left the clay that was there. So I may have wasted my time doing that and might have to do it all over again next year, just as I had to do with last year's four by five garden bed.

On the other side of the really huge mound of dirt is a space about three or four feet wide next to the fence, and about eight feet of it has Jerusalem artichokes growing under some mulch. I planted them about three years ago, and then forgot to dig any of them. I also had a few growing in pots last year. This year I ate some of those that were growing in the pots.

I discovered that I don't like Jerusalem artichokes as much as I used to.

I had this idea that I was going to dig up the patch of Jerusalem artichokes and plant something I liked better, like maybe some onions and garlic. But I didn't get around to it, and I guess that I will leave it alone for this year. It is at least an area that is already mulched, and I don't have to worry about weeds. Except that if I'm not going to eat the Jerusalem artichokes, then the Jerusalem artichokes have in fact become weeds themselves.

If you don't understand, here's a previous post about weeds.

On the subject of Jerusalem artichoke weeds, let me tell you a little about the plant, cause you probably don't have a clue what I am talking about. This is a relative of the sunflower, and rather looks like a native sunflower, except that the flowers are even smaller and sometimes there are no flowers at all, even after it has grown over six feet. It is not an artichoke. The part you eat is the root. So you sort of grow them like potatoes, which sprout "eyes". But unlike potatoes, they don't store well. You need to eat them the day or the day after you buy them from the store or you dig them from the ground. They just start to shrivel up as soon as they are dug. And you can't eat them when they are green, so you can only eat them after the first freeze but before it warms up enough for them to start growing again. They are supposed to replace water chestnuts, but when I tried that this year I didn't like the result.

Maybe it's my fault. Maybe I waited too long and they just didn't taste good cause they were getting ready to grow again. But I decided that I didn't like them and pretty much left a bunch of them outside to die.

So I thought that they were all dead, except for the ones under the mulch over by the fence. And I needed some soil, so I used some of what was in those pots that had the Jerusalem artichokes that I dug up. If there is any part of the living root left, it will grow a new plant. So I now have Jerusalem artichoke weeds popping up everywhere, and that is my own fault, I should have known better. I should have put the soil in plastic bags and waited for the summer heat to kill everything so that I could use the soil next year. I didn't do that, so now I have weeds. We will see if this is a permanent problem, or if I will just have a few more weeds to pull this month and then it might be okay after that.

Now I have two more garden projects from years past that are now causing me some problems. I knew that we had these rabbits, and I liked the rabbits, and I really didn't want to do too much to discourage them hanging around. And I knew that they didn't seem interested in eating my pepper plants or tomato plants, but they did once take a bite from an eggplant and then decide it was not to their liking. But they did eat some okra, and I of course knew that if I put anything like lettuce within their reach that they would eat that. And rather than dig a bed and then put rabbit fence around it, I had this idea that I would just put a few thing up out of their reach. So I built two giant containers, one from panels that were two feet by three feet, and another that from panels that were two feet by four feet. Then I filled them with soil, and that put the plants at a level almost two feet from the ground. And this also had the advantage that I did not have to bend all the way to the ground to pick lettuce and radishes and such.

Except that I put in the good soil with the sand that provides proper drainage. Only maybe with the good soil it drains a bit too well. So those containers really use up a lot of water, and the plants still manage to dry out in the summer or whenever we might go out of town for a day or two. The only things that did not seem to dry out and die were a couple of mulberry weeds, which roots have taken over the container, and need to be dug out, only digging out something that is two feet above the ground is a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.

So I am trying to empty the larger of these containers, and put some of the soil in pots and some over in the area that I will attempt potatoes. And then after the container is emptied, I will mostly fill it with clay, and only have the good garden soil near the top, and that should solve the problem of it needing too much water. And I will have to grow something in it that doesn't need to be dug like potatoes and works well with weed block fabric. And then I will just have to keep a watchful eye out for those mulberry weeds.

In addition to the really huge mound of dirt and the mound of dirt that I will try growing potatoes in, there are maybe five or six smaller mounds of dirt here and there. Also, I have been careless about picking up the little plastic containers that the tomatoes and other plants come in, I have often left out the tools, and there are buckets and empty pots here and there. And there are bags of stuff here and there, like a half empty bag of sand, and a half empty bag of peat moss, and two new bags of mulch that I will put around most of the plants after they get to be big enough that I would be able to see them growing above the mulch.

There are also a few things that I left outside when I was cleaning out the back room, and I have to look at them and see what needs to be thrown away and such. And I don't know what to do with my husband's fishing stuff that has been outside for about three years now. On the one hand I would think that anything left out in the elements for three years now would be ruined and just needs to be thrown away. On the other hand, well, it is fishing stuff, and isn't fishing stuff made to be out in the elements? But in either case it is fishing stuff that has been left out in the elements for three years, and so I don't want it back in the house.

So that is the current state of my garden and the rest of my backyard. I have not been evicted or anything like that because a.) it is the backyard and not the front yard, and it takes longer for anyone to complain about the backyard, and I'll probably get some leniency until after such time as the other gardeners have finished up with their spring projects, and b.) we have a new office manager, and he probably has more important things to do for a while.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Saturday by myself

It finally does not smell of smoke outside. Or maybe I am just noticing it less. Outside I smell plants and dirt.

I have spent most of my time fixing up last year's hastily dug garden bed. I am using my new screen to sift out the rocks and weeds and large lumps of clay. Unfortunately, I have sifted out a a lot of earthworms. I have put them back, but I'm afraid that after such rough treatment that they might die anyway. I suppose that a few dead bugs are good for the soil too, but not as good as live earthworms. Anyway, it is a lot of work, and not the most pleasant work either. I quickly tire of it and go inside to rest for about an hour. So while I worked on it most of yesterday, I am still not finished. I feel awful, but I don't have that much left to do and I'm pretty sure that I can finish up today. It is going to rain Sunday, and it is best if I can get it all done before then.

I received another odd email. Same person, but with an altered name. I did not answer it. At this point I am pretty convinced that a.) it is just someone trying to sell me something, and b.) even if it wasn't someone trying to sell me something I probably wouldn't be interested anyway.

I was looking at the first season DVD of Star Trek Voyager, and as usual I had skipped over the special features part. But this time I went back and had a look at it. There were some scenes filmed with the first actress selected to play the captain. It had been so long I'd almost forgotten about that. I had thought she would have made a good captain, but in these scenes she looked a bit stiff.

My mother called again, and I told her that I was very busy with the garden (which is true) and would not be able to have dinner with her yesterday, and probably not lunch or dinner with her today either.

My husband will come home tonight, and after having tomorrow and the next day off will have to work for the next two weeks straight, maybe more. It is unusual that they are scheduled to work on Sundays, but for some reason this account has had them work a lot of Sundays, and they are probably only getting off tomorrow because it is Easter. Anyway, as much as we need the money, and this particular account has had more good days than bad, I still don't think that he's going to be very happy when he sees the two week schedule.

Yesterday we got a note on the door reminding us to conserve electricity and water, or they will have to raise the rent. I pay no attention to such things. I know that they send these things so that we'll remember to turn the lights out, but I didn't forget to turn them off, I did it on purpose. I don't like the total darkness when I'm by myself. And I also leave the hall light on when I'm away because there isn't another light switch at the other end of the hallway. Odd that. All these little annoying things about the place that I didn't notice until long after I moved in. So you either have to leave the hallway light on all the time, or you have to leave on a light at the other end of the hallway, or you are in a completely dark hallway.

As for conserving water, does not washing the dishes count? Probably not.

Not ready to get up and garden just yet, so it's breakfast and one more episode of Voyager.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Now that I have the computer back...

Okay, so my husband has gone out of town again to work the rest of this week's schedule. I won't get as much done in three days as I might have done in six, but we'll see if I get something done.

Today I will not be doing as much gardening stuff as I hoped, because I woke up with a bit of a backache. And it doesn't make any sense. I didn't do anything yesterday that would account for it. And I didn't do anything the day before yesterday that would explain it either. I didn't do that much stuff even Monday. I felt fine yesterday and the day before. We didn't even do that much to get tired. We only went out for two or maybe three hours, just to have lunch and do a little bit of shopping. We did not dig holes or move dirt or cut the grass or lift heavy stuff or buy bags of sand or move furniture. I have no idea what is wrong with me.

My mom called earlier this week and said that she wanted to take me to dinner. I don't want to go. I do not want to have dinner with my mother or talk to my mother or even call her back to tell her that I don't want to go. It will be the same old thing. I'm quite tired of it. At this point the main reason I even return her calls is just to make sure that she isn't calling to say that someone is in the hospital. If we are around other people, she will mostly behave herself, but one on one time with my mom always ends with yelling and crying and such.

She can't be avoided forever, but I am hoping to avoid her at least for the next three days.

Except for one pepper plant that looks almost dead, the rest of the garden plants are starting to look pretty good. A couple of squashes have sprouted, and I'm starting to see tiny little carrot sprouts and beet sprouts and a few radishes here and there. The tomatoes and herbs seem happy.

That doesn't mean that the garden is finished. I have a few things left to plant, and the rest of the backyard is a total mess. There are still big mounds of dirt to deal with. I had planned to get some of that done today, but now it doesn't seem like a good idea.

Now I have gone out to Home Depot and bought a few things. I have replaced the damaged pepper plant. I also got two bags of mulch (which are a bit heavy, but not so much as bags of sand), and had some lumber cut. I used the lumber and some hardware cloth to make a sort of screen to sift out rocks and lumps of clay out of the soil. My back still aches a bit, but maybe it will get better and I can get started on that soil tomorrow.

Now there are several wildfires in the general area, and a really major one in Oklahoma. I don't think that any of them are going cause problems for anyone I know, but they are large enough that there is smoke outside. I heard the one in Oklahoma was twenty-five miles long.

I've found an Outer Limits episode I was looking for on Hulu. They started with ten, but there are thirty-one now.

Two more days to myself.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A change in plans

I was supposed to have the rest of the week to myself.

My husband was going to Texarkana for a couple of days, and we had talked about me going with him. Maybe when he got done with work we could have gone to a quartz mine in Hot Springs. After looking at what was added to the rest of the week's schedule, we decided against it. He should spend his one day off resting, not digging up rocks.

So I decided to stay home, and I went and planted the tomato plants Friday. Then we found out about the freeze warning, and I had to cover up the plants and such, which I wouldn't have been able to do if I were gone for the week. Of course, if I had made definite plans to be gone for the week, I just would have waited and dealt with planting tomatoes and such after the trip.

Anyway, now the second day in Texarkana has been canceled. Nice. So maybe if we had known that we would have made different plans.

And now he's coming home for a couple of days, so we had to cancel motel reservations and try to get refunds etc.... According to the company that we used to make the reservations, after check-in, unused motel stays are non-refundable. Nice. But they will make a request that the motel refund the money for the nights that he did not actually stay there, and if the motel agrees, which it sounded like they would, he should get the credit back in his account in a couple of weeks. We will see.

So he is coming home in a couple of hours, and instead of planning what I should do with my day I'm just sitting around waiting for him to get home so I can find out what his plans are. And he's probably really tired, so it will probably be lunch and then watching tapes of House and Heroes and Medium from last night (most of which I haven't watched yet either), and then he will take over the computer for the rest of the day.

Still, I don't think I will start anything, just in case he has other plans.

Gardening doesn't interest him anymore. I think he did something for one afternoon last year, and that's about it since we moved here. Ten years ago, we had a huge garden, which he did most of the work for, and we even talked about getting chickens and such. Now he doesn't even go out to look at the pepper plants.

Anyway, I'm going to go and check my email and such now, cause I probably won't get much chance to for the rest of the day.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I'm going to give up and just cross my fingers

I live in Texas. For the most part, I like living in this part of Texas. There are a few freaky days here and there when there is ice on the roads and I am afraid to go anywhere, but most of the time it is not too cold. Since I don't have a job now, I haven't bought a coat in several years. Most of the time it isn't cold enough to need more than a sweater, unless you are up early in the morning, and on the those days when I need something really warm I am okay wearing my old and out of style coat.

The early warm and pleasant days are deceptive. In February, there are already tomato plants and such at Walmart and Home Depot. But we know it really isn't time to plant tomato plants in February, unless you are the most serious gardener who builds tents and such to protect the plants. But maybe it is time to get ready to plant in February, cause it might be possible in March.

Since I am not the most serious gardener who builds things to protect the plants, I started getting things ready in February, but didn't plant anything until March. And then there were delays, and I didn't actually get anything planted until later in March than I wanted. But then when I did get a few things planted, like a few pepper plants, there was a freeze warning, so I went out and dug up the few pepper plants that I had just put out. The rest of the plants weren't actually in the ground yet, so they were easy to bring inside.

So, two days after that, I replanted the pepper plants. And I did a bit more digging, and I finally got most of everything in the ground Friday.

Saturday they said we might get some overnight temperatures in the thirties sometime early this week. Then they said that there was a freeze warning for tonight.

So I went and dug up a few things that were easy to get to, but I left the rest in the ground and brought in a few things that were in containers. The rest of it I'm experimenting with various ways of covering the plants. Some of the experiments weren't going well.

I give up. Whatever I've done will have to do. Or maybe it won't do at all, and I'll have to replace a bunch of plants. We will see what things look like tomorrow morning. But it shouldn't freeze again after that, though they did say that the record late freeze date was the thirteenth of April.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

"There is another" brief question about last week's Terminator

I totally forgot to post this earlier.

Okay, so last week we were watching Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles, and there was a quote from an old movie. And I laughed, and he laughed, and on with the rest of the episode. And I kind of wonder how many of us got the joke. It has been a while.

And then I'm talking to my husband later, and apparently we were laughing at different jokes.

John Henry says "There is another." And that's a quote, or part of a quote, from an old movie. And then it's a quote, or part of a quote, from a different movie. And I was thinking of one movie, and he was thinking of another movie.

Okay, so who got the one joke, and who thought it was a different joke, and who has no idea what I'm talking about?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A catch-up post

It has been almost a week since I posted anything. Last Friday I went to lunch with my husband and some people he works with. Some of them couldn't make it, so there was talk of me going out again to have lunch with a slightly different group of people maybe in a week or two. But so far there are no real plans for that.

And I think that I am all done with the medical stuff for a while, except that at some point I have to schedule a mammogram. Those are fun. Not. Anyway, I have yet to go and get lab results or anything, but I doubt that it is anything really bad. The blood pressure was normal, so I have to think that the quack from three years ago was pretty much just that. I'm an average and slightly overweight woman with no real problems that one can fix with pills. I just have to go and get that in writing once a year so that they will give me birth control pills and I can try to go about life as a mostly normal person.

So I was going to do this dollar a day thing for a while, except for going to that lunch on Friday. So I went back to my usual on Saturday, only to have my husband come home that night and not want soup for dinner. So we were off to Whataburger. And then Sunday I pointed out that the paper had coupons for Spaghetti Warehouse, not meaning that we should use them that day, but only that he should put them away for later. But he had to work on Sunday, which is a rare thing, and when he came home he thought that dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse was just a great idea. Okay. So off we went. And then on Monday we went to Fort Worth and places in that direction, where we already had plans to eat at a certain Mexican restaurant. Tuesday we didn't eat out for lunch or dinner, but we did manage to go out for ice cream sundaes. Monday and Tuesday we had cheese and olives and such for dinner, after we must have bought seven different kinds of cheese and stuff to go with cheese while we were in Fort Worth.

Today, after watching TV shows that I had taped last night, we went to a Chinese buffet. He needed consoling after the ending of Life on Mars or something.

So I haven't been doing the dollar a day thing. I've eaten way too much food. Not just too much in the sense that we're spending too much, and not just too much in the sense that I'll never lose weight at this rate. But today I've maybe eaten too much in the sense that I don't feel so good at the moment. I'm just sitting around watching TV and such.

Not that I could go out and garden. Not today anyway. Saturday I got a lot done, knowing that we were going to go to several plant places on Monday. I didn't quite get finished on Sunday, but I thought that I could do most of the rest of a certain area on Tuesday. Monday night there was a thunderstorm, which did damage north of us but did not cause us any problems. Except that everything got wet, and I can't do anything in the mud. So I had to wait for things to dry out a bit, and then I got some work done on Wednesday.

So I would have thought that today would be a good day to do some stuff, and then plant most of what we bought before it rains tonight or tomorrow. Only today it is just to windy to do anything, which means that not only will I not have stuff planted before it rains, but I will have to wait again for stuff to dry before I can do anything else in the garden.

It's a bit annoying, but it just refuses to rain when I would schedule it.

As for the work schedule, it looks like I won't be going out of town soon. I won't be going to Houston, and now I won't be going anywhere else either. The schedule was two days in Texarkana and then a day off and then a day in a small town a bit east of here. There was briefly talk of going to a quartz mine in Hot Springs, but we decided that was too much driving around to do in one day in addition to the actual work of digging up quartz. Still, we were thinking that I might go to either Texarkana or the other place, just to get out for a couple of days. But now three days have been added to the schedule, and I don't think that I should follow him here there and everywhere for a whole week, and having him drive all the way back here on his one day off doesn't seem like a great idea either. It's better if he just drives to the next place and spends the day watching cable or maybe taking photos of a lake or something.

So that's about it. Nothing really exciting going on here, just me going between trying to work in the garden to then sitting around watching TV cause I can't go out in this weather and I'm just not up to facing housework yet.