Friday, November 17, 2006

The Good, The Bad And What The Hell Is Going On?

Fleur-dis-monster is finished! Woohoo! Happy dance. Ha ha, I win.

Humans - 1
Mouse - o

The watercress in the pond has gone berserk. In November. Figures. It's loving the chill.
I'm not sure what perennials are going to end up making it through the winter between the odd warmth and all this water.

The koi are completely confused.

We definitely have a new leak in the roof.

We had 3 inches of rain in an hour last night, along with 60 mph winds. A lot of people that lost their homes to the flooding in June are getting hit again. This is the third time for some of them this year. I feel so bad for them.

What the hell is going on with this weather? It was a balmy 68 degrees yesterday. I'm not complaining! It was wonderful, but in November? This weather has been absolutley nutsy this year. Thank God, although it's the same storm system, that we aren't getting what they got in North Carolina.

It makes me wonder just how wacked our winter will be this year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blast From The Past

I've been stuck on watching two shows lately; Take Home Chef and If Walls Could Talk. Can you imagine Take Home Gardener? Ha ha! Accosting an unsuspecting customer at a garden center, buying plants and then rushing home to their yard to redo it. I think the host should be able to ask only one question: "How much yard ya got?"

As for 'If Walls Could Talk', well, I like that one just because I have something really cool in common with it-the surprising things you find hiding inside really old houses. We found some! Really cool old things, that is.

The house we bought is over 200 years old and used to be an apple orchard way back when. We found a piece of old newspaper in the wall of a new addition. New as in an addition bedroom built onto the existing house in 1818!! The paper was really cool, and you just had to laugh when reading it; 'So-and-so visited so-and-so for tea at 2:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, June 8th.' My, my, my-gossip in the local paper. It also mentioned that ladies should stay away from a certain area of town since there would be prisoners working on the railroad on such-and-such days. And an 1818 advertisement for pantaloons! I would have assumed that to be a bit risque back then, what with having a picture and all. How very scandalous!

Anyway, since the scanner has decided to cooperate lately, I thought I'd save some of the other interesting things we've found in the walls through 20 years of DIY remodeling. (Don't try it yourself folks, not fun!)
Grocery bill for Henry Kitchen (previous owner of house and apple orchard) from 1891. Wow, notice how Pillsbury was on the advertising bandwagon even way back then?
The top of a box of harness snaps from Oneida Community Limited in Niagara Falls. (I have a sneaking suspicion that the 'Oneida Community' started in Niagara Falls and then moved to Oneida to make silverware, not directly from Vermont, though none of their history documents this)
In 1892 Henry hired a Harvesting company from Chicago for $123.00 (adjusted a few times to $124.29 on November 19th, then to $129.00 (no date noted). Interest sucked even back then! Wow, for 1892, that was a lot of money!)
In 1892, coal meant heat for the winter. I wish we had the price. The original furnace that burned this coal is still in our cellar!
Finally, this is what checks used to look like in the 1800's. Cool or what?! The bank is still there, well, sorta. I need to research it some more.

There was another store receipt found in a wall, but it was so fragile that even with us being as careful as humanly possible, it pretty much turned into confetti. But, it was either leave it there to be destroyed or take a chance, so we chose the latter.

Now that I've documented them, it's back to the fireproof box for our 'wall treasures.'

Ain't history cool?! I have a customer bill for apples too, so I'll have to check into the orchard a bit more. A few trees still exist on the neighbors property. Think I should snatch some seeds?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No Middle Ground

After a long thought process (If you only knew what screwy brain-maze my thoughts run in!) I've come to the conclusion that there really isn't one. A middle ground in the gardening and hunger conquest, that is. It makes me nuts.

There's the Plant A Row For The Hungry campaign from the Garden Writers Association. Ed Hume even sends free seeds for it. Many garden centers give free seeds, tools and soil at certain times of the year for it. Lots and lots of gardeners give their extras to the food banks. (Major kudos to those of you that do!)

But what about all those, like me, who are stuck in the middle? We have space, are willing to work at it (some of us have done it all our lives for pete sake!) and do it simply out of the necessity to have the produce to put in our freezers - or go hungry.

If I have enough change in my pocket to either buy vegetable seeds or milk, well, guess which will be the priority? We don't not buy seeds because we don't want to, we don't buy seeds because they are expensive.

Imagine all those seeds that get tossed from the stores and garden centers each year right into the garbage because they weren't sold. What a waste! A few of those seeds could result in feeding a family at least a couple of good meals. Maybe not instantly, but in the long run there's nothing better than opening a freezer and finding vegetables you never would have been able to afford to buy at the store.

I really wanted to grow some sweet corn last year, but the only seeds I could find around here were at Agway for 5 bucks a pop. 5 bucks? You know how many loaves of bread that will buy?

So, the thought process eventually got around to: Why aren't there places for all those stores, garden centers and gardeners that have all that leftover seed to send them to, instead of tossing them in the trash? They'd be a lot more work than ready produce, but just because people aren't well off doesn't mean they're slackers, or aren't willing to work hard for their food if they already have somewhere to grow it. A small plot of land can produce a large amount of food.

You know the old adage; Teach a man to fish...

Oh, and I think changing to blogger beta might not have been a good thing-I can't post comments to non beta blogs now. Figures there would be a catch.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Last-Ditch Effort

Dear Mother Nature,

Sorry to disturb you on your vacation, but I need a quick word. (Must be your vacation time, right? Because, otherwise, I'd rudely assume you were slacking off).

We've seen the sun a total of three days in the last month. What's with that? I personally find it a bit absurd.

If I wanted to live in Seattle with tons of rain and gray, why, I'd pick up my impatiens and move there. And I may be getting ahead of myself a bit, but come January, could you not assume I'd just absolutely adore a stint Alaska?

Honestly, you seem to be a little off-kilter these days, Sweety. You might want to get in line early for your flu shot this fall. (Oh, right, what fall? You seemed to have forgotten exactly what you used to make it). Don't you agree that almost nine inches of rain over what you provide in a normal year is a bit much? You can turn off the faucet now. Really. Should I find you a plumber? How about a cup of nice green tea to lift your mood?

Yes, Dear, the grass is green, but it has stopped growing, you know. In case you haven't noticed, everything is floating. Puddles are nice but ponds are an annoyance, as is my flooded cellar. Moss is lovely, but I honestly don't need it growing on my siding.

I apologize that I didn't get every single weed yanked from the flower beds this year. Really, I do. I promise to be more vigilant next year. My elderly neighbor just wasn't able to keep up with her's this year, but I helped her out a bit and shared some divisions with her, so it didn't look all that bad.

I do hope it wasn't the sunflowers that grumbled about my lack of care, but I know how fickle they can sometimes be. And, yes, the clematis (Those little back-stabbers!) might have had a little too much shade this summer, but I've already explained to them that it will be taken care of promptly come spring. (Oh, I do so hope that season is penciled in on your 2007 calendar, Sweety).

So, when your beach, daiquiri, red umbrella and cabana boy time in Aruba has expired, could you please see fit to put some sun on the schedule for the Northeast? I'd be eternally greatful!

Looking forward to your reply,

A pleading, mossy-thumbed gardener.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Crockett Rocked It

Anyone remember James Crockett? No? Alright young 'uns, how about Crockett's Victory Garden?

Ah, yes, drop the Crockett and voila - Victory Garden. Just isn't the same anymore, is it?

I found a bit of interesting history while mulling over my nostalgia for the show:

"The show debuted on April 16, 1975 was originally produced by James Underwood Crockett and was entitled Crockett's Victory Garden. The garden was located at WGBH's studios in Allston, Massachusetts. Crockett died July 11, 1979 soon after the show became successful. Bob Thompson hosted from Crockett's death until 1991 when failing eyesight prompted him to step down as host. He died on October 2, 2003, following a battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Roger Swain began appearing on the show in the mid 1980s, and hosted it from 1991 until 2001. In that year, longtime producer Russell Morash decided to end his tenure, leading to a complete turnover in the cast and crew. Swain has differentiated between the show he was on and the current Victory Garden show: "If you get rid of Ernie and Cookie Monster and Big Bird, you don't have Sesame Street anymore," he said. "So let's call the new show something else, because whatever it is, it ain't The Victory Garden." "

He wasn't kidding!

I so miss that show. Victory Garden has got to be one of the better gardening shows still on TV, though Michael Weishan doesn't really rock my socks. I wonder what it is about him that turns me off?

I like Erica Glasner, she's not afraid to admit she doesn't know a plant, but she's just so...boring.

Paul James, well, he gets points just for the fact my kids and D will sit still long enough to watch a gardening show. I take silent glee in the fact they are learning something and don't even realize it.

Garden Police, eh. I can take 'em or leave 'em. I don't like the fact they never mention exactly how much all those 'perfectly suited' plants are costing. Hope that show has a large budget.

Rebecca's Garden I consider my so-so gardening show. I'll watch if I'm in the mood. Rebecca Kolls does have personality, but I've finally faced the fact that some of her stuff is plain ole dumb. I gave up on her after the pond build. NOT nishikigoi friendly, Honey! In any way, shape or form!

There's one I can't quite remember the name of - it's on the tip of my tongue, but I've probably mentally blocked it because of my distaste for the host. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of good plant info and they do tell you how much all those plants cost, but the host is so dang condescending to the guests! I cringe every time he makes a rude remark or gives plant info as if they were five. Who does that to their friends, much less people they hardly know?

All right, rant over for the day. There's only whining left now and I'm feeling much like Veruca Salt. "I want Crockett's Victory Garden back. I want it nooooowwww!"