Monday, June 29, 2015

Grill-Meister

I can cook...Yes, Sir I can.  

Not the fancy schmancy stuff on Food Network but good simple fare that keeps them coming back for more.

Can I bake?  

Sure...Some things better than others.  My Oatmeal Craisins keep the folks in the cheap seats hollaring for more.  I suppose I'd be more interested in baking if I could actually eat the stuff. (Ha! Gluten Free Me).

But it's Summer now and there's NO WAY that I'm encouraged to heat up the house to do either. 

Mama takes a break from June till September so if you like salads or nacho's or a simple rice jambalaya or even microwave popcorn...than I'm your girl.

Eventually though, SM's tummy starts reminding him that most food is served HOT and he wants me to grill some real food up.  

Such was the case yesterday morning  when I picked another plethora of summer squash and SM chimed in "Boy, these would sure taste good grilled."

Now usually I just "stew" them.  (Stew is southern for "steam them" in a veggie steamer.)  I toss in some salt and pepper and a slab of butter and I'm a happy camper.

But I do recognize the fact that one of the big reasons SM and I have a happy marriage is because I keep him well fed.  

Seriously Girls...That old adage is true!

 Image result for the way to a man's heart food

Makes me sad that so many of today's young women don't know how to cook.  Or don't care to.  Restaurant food is so blah anymore.  I can cook WAY better than those fools...But I digress.

So since it's hot and Daddy wants some grilled up chow, so be it!

Now the truth is, I have NOT mastered the art of the grill.  
Yeah, yeah, yeah...Low and slow is what they say.  

BULLSHIT.  That's what I say!

Image result for grill fire

I have wasted more food grilling than I've ever lost to the forgotten, moldy depths of my refrigerator.

Now I always thought that grilling was the Man's domain.  

Ugh.  
Fire.  
Me cook.

Image result for neanderthal fire cooking

The few times SM was desperate enough to proceed without me turned out pretty freaken good. 

Pork chops was his thing and he grilled them beautifully.

I heaped tons of praise upon him in the hopes that he might become Grill-Meister extraordinaire!  

Ha!  No such luck.

And so I made my preparations.



Low heat.


Fresh Veg. Spray oil.  (Do you see the seasonings that you gave me Bob?)


So far so good.


And what do you know?  
Success!
And was it ever GOOD!

Move over Boys...I'm taking on the big dogs now!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June Wrap Up

The 2015 gardening year has surely been an interesting one so far. 



April was colder than normal.  May was dry with no rain and June...Well, June has given us some rain (ie: not much) but has been as hot as August would normally be.


Surprisingly, the garden has hung in there with squash (both winter and summer) being this year's star performer.


We were told that the weather would break with the cold front that moved through yesterday but "ha ha" no such luck unless 5 degrees colder is what you would consider a break.

Supposedly, by the time The 4th of July hits we'll be back in the 100's.



Fingers crossed that I'll be able to get the winter squash to ripen soon and then I'll just cover everything, run back into the air conditioned bliss of my humble abode and wait till September.

You know...That thing called "Fall".

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Hanging In There

First...A bit of history.

SM and I moved to North Carolina in July of 1998.  

SM moved down first in March and lived in an apartment that the company he worked for provided while I stayed up in Ohio working, showing the house and packing things up.

Once I'd completed my notice, I came down in the begining of June to start house hunting and my first thought was "Holy sh*t, we made a mistake."

I had left the mild June weather of Ohio and walked into a Carolina inferno.  Every stinking day of the 2 weeks I was here was over 100 degrees.  I was in shock.  Was this normal?  I was assurred it was not but still...Wow.

I pointed out to SM the other day that this June is very similar to that one.  We've been around 100 degrees everyday for this past week and the long term shows us staying that way through the 4th of July.

The garden is still hanging in there but no longer producing new fruit.  (Except for the squashes for some reason.)  The beans have blooms but few beans.  The same with the tomatos.  The cukes are withering.   

I water everyday (unless by some miracle we get a pop-up) but I feel the plants are kicking into survival mode and it likely won't be too much longer before I start to see them stress. 

I'm curious to see when I'll throw in the towel and in what order I'll stop bothering to water and just let it go.  I've already let one section of beans go since the plants are young and puny.

I find that a certain lethargy is settling in.  These are the days of staying indoors where it's cool (Thank God for the AC) and afternoon naps.  I don't even mind going into work right now.  

At least it's cool there.

 Image result for hot weather funny
 
 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Lure Of The Lake

Every 2 years SM's brother Ronnie and his extended family pool their resources together and rent a huge house somewhere vacationey.  

A lot of times it's at a beach or a mountian retreat.

This time they picked Lake Lure in the mountains of North Carolina, one of SM's favorite places.  

We often go out that way for a day trip in the Fall and loop around the Hendersonville area for apples, cider and donuts.  On the way home SM loves to drive through the switchback curves of Lake Lure.

I've never been there in the summer and it was slightly less hot there than at home.  We enjoyed sitting in the shade and gabbing and got back home late (for me anyways).

I'm always fascintated by these rental homes.  Built specifically for rental income, these homes have 5-6 bedrooms and sometimes just as many bathrooms.  Ron's house for the week sleeps 16!

Whenever I'm at these retreats, I like to envision myself waking up every day to that view.  


Would I take it for granted eventually?


Probably.  And then it occurs to me that the majority of homes along the lake shore are not owner occupied anyway.  

The owner of this one wasn't.  They live in Ashville.  They have a boat house where they keep their boat and use it on weekends.

SM and I had a conversation about that once,  If money was no object and you could go anywhere, do anything...What would you do?

To which we both said travel.  I'd rent a house at the place I wanted to be and live there until I was done seeing everything and then pickup and move on to the next place.

I guess that's why RVing interests us for our retirement years.  

Still, it's always fun to see how the other half lives.  
Or doesn't.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hot, Hot, Cha, Cha, Cha

The garden continues to go gangbusters with daily pickings of zucchini and yellow summer squashes.  

Golden and green beans are being picked every 3rd day.

The Zinnias have reached critical mass.  



Flowers are exploding everywhere.



But all is not unicorns and rainbows in the back forty.  

Oh no...It's crunch time out there my friends.  

The switch has been flipped and we are in full out Summer time mode.  

Everyday for the near future has been forecast to be between 95 and 100 blistering degrees.  

And better gardeners than I have seen promising gardens go up in smoke during lengthy heat waves.

The lettuce is already toast.  The cucumbers are just starting to grow, the carrots are getting close and I actually have a shot at a bumper crop of winter squash and pumpkins this year.  

For some reason last year all I got was male flowers so for me to see so many baby butternuts and dutch longnecks on the vine is thrilling me to no end.


Trouble is I need at least another month to get them to size and if they don't get adequate water or the plant stresses too much from the heat...Well, then I'll be skunked again this year.

I think a lot of folks assume that we have a long growing season here but actually it's not a continuous growing season for vegetables at least.  

Everything but tomatoes is done by July and then you have to hang out and wait till September if you want to try for a fall garden.

So I'll do what I can.  

When Mother Nature fails to supply us with a daily thunderstorm (few and far between) than the garden hose and I will do that age old gardening dance of summer survival.

Hot, hot??  
Squirt, squirt. 
Cha, cha, cha...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Honey...Come On!

This year I've noticed a distinct lack of pollinators.  

Oh, there's a few bees out there.

I see some fat Bumbles on my flowers out front.
And of course the Borer Bees that want to make holes in my back deck.

But Honey Bees?
Nope.

Either someone nearby lost their hive or the bees I usually get have found greener pastures.

I saw some early this Spring on the Henbit weeds that were flowering and I usually have a plethora (love that word) of honey bees on the Holly bushes when they flower but the frost zapped those blooms, so no bees.

The Summer clover in my yard usually guarantees they'll stick around until the veggies start blooming.

But this year I haven't seen any buzzing around my squash or bean flowers.  

Until today.  

SM and I went out and picked our first beans and summer squash and when I stuck my head in between the gi-normous squash leaves, I noticed a distinct hum in the air.



Did you hear my shout and witness my happy dance this morning?

So the honey bees have come and not a moment too soon.  And did you know that we also had rain this week?  Blessed Relief I can tell you that!

When you think about it, it really is a miracle that SM and I are witnessing out in the garden this year. 


We spent the money on good compost for the veggie seeds and tons of mulch for weed control and Mother Nature is supplying the rain and sunshine in just the right amount.

God Bless Us Everyone...!

 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Get Up And Do It Again...Amen

Yesterday morning started off with SM and I on the back porch listening to baby birds chirping (ie: screaming) for their food as their parents zoomed to the nest loaded with bear, I assume.  

First the sparrows on the right, then the robins in the holly bush to the left.  Back and forth we listened to the kids clamoring for breakfast when suddenly SM spied the male robin fly out of the bush and land near our blueberry bushes.

We saw him fly up and attack the bush, grabbing the berry and taking it back.  He did this several times to which SM asked me "They're not ripe yet are they?"

"Not my idea of ripe." I replied and it was game on.  


It was 7:30 am as I wrapped the blueberries with netting and I didn't come back inside the house until it was close to 4.

Yesterday was what I would call a good day of hard work.  A day that satisfies the soul of folks who live for accomplishment through simple manual labor.  

That muscle aching pull that stiffens your step.  

That feeling that your skin is under there somewhere beneath the dust, dirt, sweat and (yes) paint that coats it and makes a hot shower on a hot day a pleasure.

I walked 3 miles before 7am and my Fitbit vibrated my 10,000 step as I hoed the weeds and Bermuda grass one more time before the vining winter squash and pumpkins took over the patch.  Dust flew up and attached itself to me as I hoed and pulled, hoed and pulled.  



Something ate all my sunflowers and I mentally cursed the beast while swearing to plant more as I wiped the sweat from my face.  The dirt is bone dry and fluffy.  We're hoping for rain this coming week.  At least that's what the forecast says.


I then grabbed the paint brush and attacked the house.  Up and down on ladders, in and out of railings, scraping dried paint from window glass, cleaning brushes...That was the rest of my day. 



I painted in the shade of the house with my IPad tuned to classic rock station out of Boston.  

Great station. 
And then The Pretender by Jackson Browne came on.
And I thought about the lyrics.  

There isn't much about that song that I don't like and it got me to thinking about work.  

The work I do for $$ The Legal Tender $$  and what that allows me to buy.

And then there's the work around the house that pays me back with a currency that's priceless.

It's good to have a balance of both I suppose but I know that if I was marching to my own drum, the days would never blur together like they do when I'm on that hamster wheel working for the man.

I guess that's why a day like yesterday felt so good.
I needed a reminder of why I do the work.


Gonna pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I'll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I'll get up and do it again
Amen.
Say it again
Amen.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Toes Up

Yep!  It's officially Summer.  


Finally!

Friday, May 29, 2015

No Thumb Twiddling Allowed...Well, Maybe

Generally speaking, I'm not one for sitting around on my tush doing nothing.  

Except for this past weekend visiting with Mom and Bob.  
I did nothing but the bare minimum and really enjoyed our time together.
I miss you all ready...Come back soon!

Back to work this past Tuesday and I noticed that (with a Dr out) we had a very light day scheduled for Friday (today) so I decided to take the day off.  

Two hours commuting back and forth to a job where I'd be sitting around all day didn't sound like much fun to me.

Can you tell I'm not much for thumb twiddling?

So another long weekend in store puttering around the house.  Yeah me!

My brain must be on overdrive though...
I woke up at 1:30 am and tossed and turned and thought about this and that and then I looked and it was 3:00 am and what the heck am I still doing in bed?

So I got up.
And drank some caffene.
And emptied the dishwasher.
And I ran a load of laundry.
And I perused all ya'lls blogs.
And checked the weather.
Hot and Humid.  
No rain.

Why is it still dark?
I've got things to DO...

Yawn... 

Maybe I'll lay back down for a second...
Maybe...

Freaken Hormones... 
Good thing I've today off so I can sleep in.
 
Image result for can't sleep funny meme

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kaa-Blam

If anyone ever needed proof that good soil provides good results, all they'd ever have to do is look at my raised beds this year.


We tossed yards of mushroom compost in the raised beds and then topped it all off with a couple of bags of composted Moo-Nure.  

Then planted the seeds.
And added the water and Kaa-Blam.


Monster Zucchini plants and Yellow Summer and Winter Squashes.



And Cucumbers.



And Beans.



Even the Zinnia bed is looking better than I've ever seen it.
My raised bed garden is going nuts.  
In comparison, everything that's "in-ground" is stunted.


No doubt due to the fact that the roots are trying to grow through dry soil.

So I'm amazed at the results I'm getting with the raised beds since I'm standing there watering with only the hose.  I know there's no way that I'm providing any deep soaking to the roots so I'm slightly mystified as to why the raised beds look as good as they do.

So I googled Mushroom compost and water retention.  Holy Moley..Lookie Here!

Mushroom Compost stores up to 70% of its own weight in water
Improves transmission of water through the soil
Keeps the soil cooler in warmer weather and increases soil resistance to both wind and water erosion

So that explains it.  
I hit the jackpot on this one, didn't I?

Of course June could turn into a wet soggy mess.  It was a washout last year I recall.  Something like 10 inches of rain if I recall correctly.

 I'll be curious how it goes with really wet weather.  But for now, I'll take it.

Maybe I should spread mushroom compost on the lawn.  
The lack of rain is killing any grass we might have and the weeds have taken over.  

At least I don't have to mow @;)