Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Little Progress

A little progress was made today:

1. Feeling Better, Or LESS BAD :)

I'm now back among the living. Many thanks for the well-wishes :) I don't know if it was the flu or just a week-long Yuck that got progressively worse till I was knocked off my feet, but I'm fighting back now. Still have deep ear pain and throat infection, but it's SO much better than yesterday...hooray!

2. Got Rest Without Too Much Guilt

Morning was a Nap of Death after the early taking-of-daughter to school in the wee hours. I kept dreaming the phone was ringing but I couldn't get it. The phone HAD been ringing, but I was so gone all I could do was dream (ahhh :)).

3. Bumped Off Yesterday's To-Dos

Yesterday's big news was that I bleached down everything in the kitchen and got things under control. Including the tile floor. Myself.
This, after having gone with my husband to the attorney's office to AT LAST finalize a will. We've been trying to do that for months now. I just didn't want to postpone again, no matter how rotten I felt. So hubby, my virus, and I went to the office an hour away. Mr. Legal Man regaled us pleasantly with tales of his recent vacation to Iceland while we signed documents. I'd normally have had a lot of questions and curiosity about that, but I was a dullard. Or maybe at $150 an hour I was just wondering about how many miles he could log on his next vacation with what he was making off us. (I'm cranky and jaded when I'm sick...or when I'm well?? lol) I was counting the minutes till I could be back in the truck nursing a Big-Gulp-sized fizzy drink long enough for my stomach and me to be driven BACK HOME.
The sight that greeted me in my kitchen was enough to make me want to go to bed and not get back out. I've been out for the count for a while, and in cleaning denial. To halt the further petrification and putrification, the bleach came out, everything got fume-blasted and scrubbed, and then I medicated and went to bed. I was in an ill humor about it -- I was having nothing of Mrs. Cleaver and The Beave -- and there was a lot of therapeutic clash and clatter as I whittled down the pots-n-pan tower in the sink.

You know you're not a kid anymore when you're actually looking forward to bedtime.

4. Comfort food, on minimal scale, was consumed. By Me.
I was in serious need of some chicken soup and blanket. With their hours, my daughter and husband have hardly been home, and I just couldn't bring myself to do the whole Chicken-Carcass-and-Homemade-Everything-Chicken Soup...just too long, and I don't have any reserves frozen. So I made the only thing that is warm, comfy, and takes less than 2 minutes. Grilled cheese sandwich. Yes, it was the plastic cheese on potato bread sort. My cholesterol might have gone up, but the sandwich went down nicely in the absence of any warm soup. That and many hot mugs of Sleepytime Tea kept me feeling nurtured, even if this time it was self-nurture.

5. Slowly Shuffled Around and Made Good Food for the Fam

Did another of the apple cakes, only I substituted canned and drained blackberries. Good, but not as good as the apple.

Did a saucepan of seared chicken breasts rumbling with some pesto, canned chopped tomatoes, Italian herbs, white wine and broken spaghetti pieces, dusted with grated parmesan. This turned out great.

Homemade pizza dough with individual's choice of thinly sliced cooked (leftover from above) chicken, marinara sauce, garlic, mixed shredded cheeses, basil pesto, thinly sliced raw red onion, torn fresh spinach leaves, grated parmesan.

DELICIOUS and EASY chickpea recipe from Molly at Orangette. Her entry promised that this Chickpea with Lemon and Parmesan meal would take 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to make, and it delivered! (It takes even less time to scarf down before making another batch...) Her recent post, where I found the mention, made me crave Lebanese food, which I've never had before. What an excellent site to visit (have fun, you'll get lost!)

But I digress...

6. Killed Most of the Week's Appointments Even Though I Didn't FEEL Like It

(Whine, whinge, mutter, shuffle...;-))

So much is happening, this week has been fraught with nothing but appointments. Those have been fulfilled now and crossed off, and though I don't have a lot to point to in practical terms having been accomplished, I DON'T have to worry about rescheduling a dozen things that got postponed. I just got them out of the way no matter what. DONE! :) I have one more scholarship to help my daughter pull things together for by the end of tomorrow, and a couple of letters to write for J in his attempts to do a property-trade. Yes, that is also happening. We've never heard back from the guy about the land and house, and have kept looking for other opportunities if that one falls through. J has also been job-hunting since his jobs are by assigment, and he has only been given 25 or fewer hours a week right now. That does not pay the bills. I have two interviews next week, an appointment with the nutritionist tomorrow about blood sugar related stuff, blah blah blah. And we're supposed to be getting ready for Passover....EEK!!! The time always creeps up on me this time of year! :)

7. Planted tomatoes and lettuces!!!!

This is one thing I feel realllyyy good about. I determined that in addition to my afternoon grocery trip, for which I was making an effort though I could have easily have gone right back to bed (just me and my buddy Nyquil), I thought I should stir myself, stock the fridge again, throw together some simple things for our next few meals, and call it a day. But visions of plum tomatoes were dancing in my head, and the empty large clay pots out back along with the beautiful weather were taunting me everytime I looked out the window.

I'll boil it down. I reasoned I could pull it all off in an hour, the trip to the garden center and then to the market, and home. I could do that and if I felt bad, call it a day. Or if it rejuvenated me, I'd throw some food together and then pot up all those bad boy wannabe planters. I kept this vision in my mind.

The suckage of buying plants at a garden center is probably the reality of having to stay on a budget and passing up thousands of little green and flowered things that are calling to you as you walk the aisles. I WILL be going to far away places to garner treasures of compost, wood chips, old leaves, throwaway cardboard boxes, etc, to construct my wee trial garden, but in the meantime, the empty pots I DO have already need some basic good potting soil and some plants to put in them. I've not ordered seed. I've never grown anything FROM seed (yet). I shall. But in the meantime I feel the NEED to be DOING SOMETHING rather than waiting for all those "somedays."

I bought 8 little tomato starts whose labels promised they were heirlooms. HD only had two types of heirlooms, neither of which would have been my first choice if picking from a seed catalogue. But there they were, amidst the hybrids, looking like they needed a home. Welcome, heirloom Beefsteak and Mr. Stripey!

I'm probably going to regret this, but since my pots are so large, I've planted two tomato plants per pot on either side of a stake. I want to construct support towers that stand on the ground outside of the pots as they get larger, or at least that's my present idea. If I try to anchor any sort of support within the pot, it may get topheavy and keel in a good wind. The amateur still fiddles :)

THESE are the visions that are dancing in my head at the moment... (I know, it's nowhere near the list of dozens I have going that I still plan on starting from seed..someday. But these are the first little guys who'll be kicking the bigger things off)

Heirloom Beefsteak vision...I'm thinking full-bodied flavor and heavy vines that need a nice tower and the benefit of daily private tomato-and-moi conversations.

Mr. Stripey vision. Hmmm. Beautiful streaks of red and yellow, like...Tigerella. Tigerella was on my Streaky wish list of tomato seeds. (I have lists for red, yellow, streaky, black...don't prefer pink). The picture looked similar. I was excited! The name Mr. Stripey conjures images (to me) of the loud trousers-pattern of a circus stilt-walker, while Tigerella sounds spunky, with a Grrrr. I looked up Mr. Stripey on the internet when I got home. Some folks interchange the term for Tigerella. I was elated...the same tomato? Other folks swear that Mr. Stripey is a bland beefsteak-sized version that underperforms and tastes like wall paste. Well, the suspense will last about 80 days if it's the larger, or less if it's truly the Tigerella. I'll report back when I know for sure.

I will talk to you, too, Mr. Stripey. If you are good to eat, I will save your seeds. If you are not good to eat, I will not save your seeds, but shall console you with some spectacular moments of airborne freedom as you're organically lobbed at my rascally and prolific raccoon midnight raiders. Or I'll just eat you unripe, because I was raised in the South, and Southern women WILL have their fried green tomatoes. (And you thought the green in that julep was mint??) lol

My 2 Romas that bit the dust in The Two Nights of Barely Freezing are back! And they set a LOT of blooms and came back much thicker. HOO plus RAY! I don't have TV reception where we live. I'm watching my veggie version of Survivor with rapt attention.

8. In doing the planting, experimented with the Milk Crate Planter Idea.

This sounds so lame, but I've been dying to try that experiment! (See some of my past posts, early on). I took an intact (what else?) paper grocery bag that was folded flat, laid it on the bottom and up one side of the mild crate. Perfect fit, the grocery bag top edge came just to the top edge of the crate side and was flat against the bottom. Next grocery bag was laid on the bottom of the crate facing the next side, and folded to be flat against that side, and so on till all sides were covered. This made a four layer bottom and single layer sides. In went the potting soil and amendments. I sowed lettuce for starts in this. If it holds up, I'll be using this for tomatoes or other veggies or herbs. I watered the soil and bags very well, and it contains it perfectly.

I'll be watching to compare how it weathers during the heat compared to the pots and the in-ground plants. I'll also be checking for affordable ways of picking up more of them, since they can easily be grouped together Square-foot-Garden fashion, each crate being its own square...and portable. I'm thinking of doing a bunch of strawberries in 4 or 5 since I could pierce small holes in the sides a' la strawberry pot style and double my harvest.

Maybe :)

It all took only an hour...I was jazzed! Now I have a total of 10 tomato starters, two flats and one milk crate of mesclun mix and frilly mesclun mix lettuces.

FINALLY...something got done!

Now...if I can do this, despite the work schedule, etc, each time I do my weekly grocery shopping, we can actually have a real garden this year! Yippeee!!!

9. Initial Layout of Supplies (sigh) :)

I paid for the soil amendments and already-started plants. I hate to say how much, but I have to have a figure to work with so I can bring it down from there in the future. It wasn't cheap.

It was about $60 all told. That also counts about $20 in seeds that were not planted today.

But that's not the worst part.

I'm ashamed to fess up.

There is the matter of today's "hidden expense" that can only fall under the category Tragedy of Idiocy. I paid a lot more for that NyQuil haze than expected. After loading bags of potting soil as big as a pony into the trunk of the little car, I went "Whew!!" and then slammed the trunk closed. And experienced the sick realization that I'd just locked my purse and keys right in there with them. Daughter could not be reached by cell phone and husband was at work far away...for hours to come. No one local to call. This was not part of my quickie trip to the store and back plan.

I was SO NOT a happy camper. If I ever go to another garden center, I swear I'm going to wear my car keys from a chain around my neck.

Yep. The Pop-A-Lock guy was very friendly, and is a huge fan of tomatoes. The $45 dollars I paid him should get his garden off to a good start.

To view tomato photos, please visit their home sites (Mr. Stripey tomato pic)
and (where you can find Heirloom Beefsteak pic)


farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Boy were you busy! Have you ever noticed how nobody does the dishes when your sick? Out of your whole post---that is what stuck with me since it happens here too. hah! I am always dumbfounded that with a husband, one almost moved out kid and another in high school---that if I am sick in bed---neither do they clean nor do they fix food. For heaven's sake! Enough to make a sick person expire in exasperation!
Good luck on the milk crate idea---I think that would be perfect for strawberries since they can be relegated out of the way when berry days are past instead of the berry plants taking up garden space while not producing.
Hope your "completely" well soon :-)

Willa said...

Robbyn- I'm so sorry you were ill- You probably caught it from me- I was sick all this week, too. But like you, I heaved my sick self out of bed and planted some stuff, and made yogurt.

Your milk crates sound ingenious, especially for the strawberries. I have been trying to think of some ways my son can get some gardening in, between the behemoths and a rock patio, he has very little actual ground space. There was a tip to grow potatoes in cardboard boxes in a Mother Earth News I read recently, so I can tell him about that and about your crate idea.

Hope you are tip-top soon.

Robbyn said...

Monica -- yeah, funny how those dishes DO stack least I know if I wash them myself I won't pull out a skillet that hasn't been washed on the outside (lol-ICK) Wow, isn't it amazing how indispensable we are?? Honestly, I can't complain...I'm just saving up "dishes points" for when I REALLY need them someday (let's hope I won't) My graduating-this-year-daughter does pitch in, in between high school AND a nursing program AND work. Hubby works some nights and some days, so it's all upside down. (But ha! who wanted to be "normal" anyway?)

Thanks for the smiles and well-wishes! I'm just trying to catch up with your ongoing productivity streak. I have a few potted things to show for it (said the snail to the racehorse)...I sat out back tonight and just communed with the upstarts (the plants, not my family) lol

Willa, it's great to hear from you! (pass the yogurt, please :)) I'd fix you some hot tea for your cold if I could-- ever since I saw your square foot garden suggestions, I went to the library and got the book. It just looks so straightforward and easy. The milk crate might work if neighborhood cats don't decide to use it as their personal privy, heh heh. Hope that works for your son. I've heard of the box idea for potatoes. Keep us posted!
Thanks for the well wishes and FEEL BETTER yourself! :)

Shabbat shalom, you two. Thanks for your comments. I enjoy knowing you! (Going now to bed and to spend a relaxing rest of the 24 hours...ahhh :))