Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Veggie Garden 2010: a mixed bag

The spring foods went well. We ate asparagus, rhubarb, and two whole strawberries that the chipmunk didn't get to before us. The lettuce is still going. The herbs are out of control, as usual. I wish I'd known oregano would spread aggressively. Treat it as you would a mint, people! There's an actual Red Rome apple on our new tree. We'll have to split it four ways when it's ripe, I suppose. Peaches looking good. Quince didn't set fruit despite blooming for the first time. Maybe next year.

Almost two months since the last frost date, and things are really getting started now! We ate our first pole beans. I didn't get as many plants established as I wanted, though I started a lot of them. They didn't like all the wet weather either. Every day we have a few peapods, and the plants are six feet tall. The kids like those. The zukes and cukes should be producing by the weekend, since they are all finally setting fruit. The plants themselves are huge. I have high hopes for FRIDGE PICKLES this year, as last year we barely had any cukes. Stupid cold wet summer it was.

This has been the best year for raspberries we've ever had. They were free, too, as they came over the fence from the neighbors. Boo is a fan and will now go out and pick her own. Success!

I'm a big fan of orache (red mountain spinach) now and will no longer bother with normal spinach which bolts much too early. The orache is nearing four feet tall, and I use the leaves in salads.

Managed to get two swiss chard plants going and one cantaloupe.

The traditional Three Sisters of corn, pole beans, and squash has been a total bust. It's just the hubbard squash now. Some animal ate the corn plants. The beans sprouted and then disappeared. Pumpkins are coming up all over the yard, and I'm just letting them go. Maybe some are butternuts. I did plant a few butternuts, but I haven't seen them lately under the massive potato plants. They've been digging all the rain. I expect to get more than the 50 pounds I harvested last year.

The onions are hiding under the asparagus, but seem to be happy. Earwigs are eating the Bok choi again. Radishes went to seed much too early.

Tomatoes are growing well, esp. considering the cool wet weather. Well, I guess we had some heat, too. Along with the regular raised bed tomato plants, I did two containers of one tomato plant with two eggplants. Since they love the heat, I thought the containers might help them, and they seem very happy.

There's five beets, after putting seeds down twice. One carrot. Pathetic. Boo (who doesn't want to be called Boo in real life anymore. That's … impossible. But I'm trying.) thought that the carrot plants would come back next year, and would produce more than one carrot per plant.

The brussel sprouts are coming along slowly, but you don't harvest those until around the frost, so no rush.

My gardening mentor, my aunt, died on my birthday this past April. I miss her advice already. It was the corn seeds she gave me (Royal Red corn) that were destroyed by pests. Sigh. But the orache seeds were from her, and that's going well, so I guess it's win some lose some, right?

Photos to follow soon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What do shingles scars look like one month after they erupt?

So, a little health update on my shingles. The pain is gone, the itching is much better (which means I can sleep again), and my skin is less numb on my forehead. Got the bill from the hospital. In case you were wondering, the full price (pre-insurance) of a 24-hour stay in the isolation ward, where everyone has to wear a fresh face mask and a full paper gown EVERY SINGLE TIME they enter your room, is only $7100. What a deal! Of course, the infectious diseases doctor bills separately.

If you want to know what it looked like when I was in the hospital you can go ahead and Google "shingles on face". I don't recommend it, but knock yourself out. Granted, I didn't look nearly as bad as many of those poor people.

Doctors keep telling me that the scars generally fade entirely, but it could take up to one year. Frankly, the prospect of losing my eyesight in that eye worried me a hell of a lot more than my appearance, and I have confirmation that the shingles affected my tear duct's ability to work.

"Look at that sad lady, Mommy. Why is she crying out of one eye?" Actually, I have this gritty feeling in my eye, whether I'm wearing my contacts or not. It's annoying. I haven't cried lately, so I don't know if it's noticeably different from both eyes. I'll get back to you on that. Maybe I can get a sad movie soon.

Anyway, the ophthalmologist* says that other eye complications are "rare" this late in the game, so I'm starting to think about the scars a bit more. Especially that big divot-like one in the middle of my stupid forehead. Might be time for a new haircut.

Additionally, I seem to have lost much of my sense of smell. I hope that's temporary.

See? See how shingles doesn't cross the midline? It's like magic, except not really so fun.

*Some other words with the "phth" sequence include phthalein, phthisis, Phthirus, and phthisiology. In case you were wondering.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our house, circa quite awhile back

Two years ago we found this photo in our mailbox. Someone was closing up a realty company, and they gave a whole lot of time to the project of returning historical photos to the houses' current owners. I called the local historical museum and whoooo whee. Were they pissed. Anyway, I finally took this photo over there and had them scan it, as I had already researched our house, and the oldest photo in their files was from the 1970s.
We ripped off the so-called second floor (two truly awful bedrooms with low ceilings and no insulation) in January of 2001 when I was pregnant with Boo. We put on a full second floor, with three bedrooms and a bath and lots of closet space. In doing so, we converted two bedrooms downstairs into one long room, where I'm sitting right now. We used part of one of those rooms to put in a real staircase. The old stairs looked like a ship's, and were very much Not Up to Code: Not Even Close.
House, you've come a long way, baby. Looking good for a hundred-year-old broad.

Friday, June 4, 2010


So, never mind about the triathlon. Luckily, I can get a medical rollover to participate in next year's event. Shouldn't be too hard to get a letter from my doctor, seeing as he admitted me to the hospital a week ago when my eye swelled shut. I stayed for about 24 hours on an IV with antiviral medication. I have shingles on my forehead, but they are now healing, and I'm not blind in that eye. Yep, that about covers what's been going on around here. Whee.

A fact you might know. Shingles come from chicken pox virus that sit on your nerves for a few decades and then flare up. You can't catch shingles, but you can catch chicken pox from someone with shingles.

A fact you probably don't know. If they shingles rash spreads to the tip of your nose, it's probably in your optic nerve.