I’m a Pollinator Killer!

After I poured fish fertilizer on the newly transplanted baby tomatoes and was giving the rest to the ancient brussel sprout plants, I noticed a few caterpillar guys on my carrot tops.  At that moment I also realized that the chickens were infiltrating the baby tomatoes to scratch in the (very undercooked) compost we just put down. I immediately plucked off the caterpillar guys and tossed them to the chickens, trying to distract the birds and eradicate the vegan predators at once.  So ingenious! 

Then I took the last caterpillar in to show my kids (and torture my eldest by putting it on his head) and then have a caterpillar photo shoot. I left the little wormy guy in some weeds with a “Bye, Falicia” and then went in the house. 

So after a little while I googled this guy and realized he’s a baby black swallowtail butterfly, an important pollinator. Damn it! What have I done? I ran out to rescue him from the weeds and put him back in the carrots. Then I looked for his siblings and found only one, half squished in a bootprint. (So I finished that one off.) 

Upon returning into the house I told Gordon what had happened.  I told him that I really need to take a moment to educate myself before I just get scared and then go around immediately killing things.  He chuckled and said, “Yeah, quit acting like a man.”

Ha. 

The Inside Dirt

There’s another kind of dirt I’m touching now. It’s every bit as organic as the dirt of my official quest. I’m digging deep and unearthing a powerful soul. This part was always known to me, but was never really seen for long. She’d get brushed away with cynicism or smothered with guilt or buried under embarassment. And well, she’s not really lovely or good or any other kind of sugary spice.

But – –

She’s a fucking badass and I’m beginning to like her.

Three Frigid Nights Ahead

The veg garden is going to have to endure on its own at least for tonight (they’re crucifers after all) but we’re attempting to save the herbs with a warmed tent. 

Tonight is supposed to drop below 25 for an hour or two, tomorrow we’re expecting a hard freeze, and I’m not certain about Thursday night, except that it too will suck.

I think the basil is already dead and the chives may be too, but we still have baby dill, cilantro, parsley, summer savory and peppermint that are worth saving. Not to mention the new rebirth of the balm, sage and oregano. 

Good night, little troopers!

Spring Left (or Winter is Coming)

(See what I did there?)

It’s pretty. For now. Before the carnage is revealed.

I forgot to tarp the girls and they’re a little pissed off about it.

I did cover the herb garden, as well as the lettuce and newborn carrots. I suppose I shall see what actually happens.

The snow makes Wendell fast.

And then we had snow cones made from real snow!

(Aaannnd super awesome Game of Thrones date night happened this week:)

Winter is Coming

Play Hard Work Hard

We didn’t work on the fence this weekend. Saturday was a pretty lazy day since we partied like rockstars Friday night. (The Wilmington trip reminded us how to have crazy fun, so we have been making a point to do that.) But Sunday we did manage to till up the garden some more and I put down a few radish and cabbage seeds (since they were right about cabbages not wanting to be transplanted) and also a bunch of turnip seeds my dad sent me. 

I also got a lot of my main summer garden seeded. Timing is a bit weird since we are going to Florida for a few days mid-April, but I think (hope) I’ve got it figured out. (Except for how the chickens are supposed to fend for themselves,  so I should probably work om that soon.)

And while I was off wildly dating (and then lazily recovering) some cold weather came and killed the zinnias:

Dead as a door nail
And some basil died too. But I’m not going to replant the basil until later. And the zinnias, eh well they probably wouldn’t have liked that ridiculously thick mulch anyway (gotta figure something out in the beds around the house). 

But the mullein and calendula made it alright:

My Sunday productivity also allowed me to transplant several baby dianthus next to the baby forget-me-not around my mom’s tree. 

The dianthus are supposed to be black with white trim. I’m excited to see them.

Hello Monday Morning (sigh)

Not Asking for Permission Anymore

This post is about my day job.

Nobody is going to give me power. It already exists; I just have to claim it. 

In this case it means developing a system, and communicating with and accepting help from others in order to implement it. And in the meantime, culture shifts will hopefully have occurred to help improve how the organization handles things in the future.  That doesn’t seem so bad, does it? 

Unfortunately, I’ve recently and vehemently expressed the need for such a system and asked my boss for help in developing one. He rejected me with comforting (but truth-slanted) words and a pat on the head. This isn’t some frivolity; this is me being able to be effective at my job. And me doing my job means having a reasonable amount of control over cash. Right now (and for the entire 7 years that I’ve been there) my department has been granted enough power to handle unpaid invoices like housekeeping handles dirty towels: Stack ’em up until we can filter them through the wash. Basically the departments spend (sort of based on their budgets which are always too big because of overestimated revenue) and then We (accounting) figure out a way to pay the bills and then instruct Them (departments) to slow down spending way too late. No control, no security. 

Controlling the cash is my job. I’m the Controller. I haven’t been doing that very integral part of my job at all (except to the extent that I let payables go way into arrears and yell at people about spending) for 7 years.

Have I been given the means to perform my job well? Hell no. Does that matter to me anymore? No it doesn’t. I’m going to do my job, or I’m going to get fired trying. There is risk involved with what I’m doing right now. I may very well get fired. If rumor holds true, the controller before me got fired when he quit rolling over. But you know what?  If I get fired, that’s OK.  I’ll get another stupid job that pisses me off and stresses me out.  I do know this: keeping my head down and being obediently ineffective is the wrong thing to do. For the both the organization and for me. I’m not asking for permission anymore.

The Garden!

As of two days ago, my early season babies are in the ground. Gordon and Eddie tore up a pretty big area of the back yard over the last month or so. Then for three evenings in a row, Silas and I shoveled and hacked and hoed until dark, to get a 13×15 area ready for the cool season transplants. We left the few kale and brussels sprouts that are still thriving from our fall planting. (Brussel sprouts are slow mofos! I seeded these in August and now finally have sprouts that are smaller than gumballs.)

88 new plants: Lettuce mix, mustard, baby bok choy, chard, curly kale, and black magic kale.

My first planting of baby bok choy and chinese cabbage bolted in their plug pots (live and learn, right?) So instead of composting them, I offered them up to the chicken garden for: Immediate Destruction.

The new, bigger area is for the summer stuff. It still needs a lot of love before it’s ready to host plants. The area beyond the planted section is our expansion. 

Mapping it out in my pajamas

It needs a fence to protect it from woodland creatures as well as my three dinosaurs and fast furry dragon. We started on it too.

It’s going to be awesome!

Better than last year’s:

Spring Planting February 2016

This weekend I also transplanted about 25 baby herbs and flowers. Some dill, peppermint, zinnias (that apparently don’t like to ne transplanted so we’ll see), forget-me-nots, mullein, and calendula. My whole body is sore. That’s OK, I’ll waste away at my desk all week, exhausting my mind and resting my body instead.

I also weeded around my little memorial tree in the herb garden area with the help of my girls.

When I was ready for them to leave me so I could plant, I used Eddie’s suggestion of how to deal with a T-Rex: hold still or move very slowly. It worked! If they noticed me enough to start moving toward me, I’d just become a statue and soon enough they’d get distracted by something better and would leave me alone. Pretty cool chicken skills!

Sometimes We all Need a Little Concrete in our Lives

Gordon and I made our escape to Wilmington, NC for the weekend without our children. We’ve been married for nearly 13 years and this is only the 4th time we’ve been away together. I told this to a woman I work with (while explaining how I would in no way be available to deal with anything work-related this weekened) and she looked at me with the most serious face and asked me, “Are you a loser?” LOL. I guess that’s a legitimate question coming from a suburbanite who socializies with other adults and who cares about things like “fashion”. But yeah, even I need to play in the city world now and again. I just never seem to know it without some prodding.

One cool irony is that the first pub we checked out happened to be an old converted seed store.  Felt right at home with a local pint in my hand while staring at a sign about morning glories.

It’s such a cool city.  Lots of history, lots of fun.  Not expensive.  Hip without being pretentious.

Did I mention that we did this without the children? And that it’s been like FOREVER? I had maybe close to no gray hair last time we escaped. So we did it up: a little crazy – but mostly just total silliness. It was great fun.

A Couple of Badasses

Spring!

It crept in early while I was fretting and itching and planning.

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The air warmed and dampened and flowers poked up their heads.

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Then this morning my chores were accompanied by a 52 degree fog. The misty air, full of scent and energy, invited me to the reveal.  It’s here! Early or not, it’s here.

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This festival of life that comes every year, weather we humans choose to celebrate or not. Spring elation, better than Christmas and fleeting, like life itself.

Pickles Experiment 2

Poblanos, Onions, Cabbage, Cukes

Our first batch of pickles are ancient history. We are all out of fermented food so it is time to restock. Here is what I put together and how:

Pickled cucumbers: Pretty much the same as last time, but using a digital scale made it much easier to get a 3.5% salinity for the brine. Used a whole produce pack of dill spread among 3 jars, kept my garlic cloves whole (maybe 3-5 per jar) but crushed them, and used a bunch of peppercorns in each jar. So that’s it: dill, garlic, peppercorns, tightly packed super clean cukes, and brine. Oh and I didn’t cut off any pickle butts this time. 

Sauerkraut: This was actually really fun because of the transformation that happened in my hands. Green cabbage with the core removed, sliced into short thin ribbons. Sprinkled 1.5 tablespoons of salt over the cabbage in a very large bowl. Massaged the cabbage and salt together until cabbage became very limp and watery (several minutes). Pushed into a half gallon jar using a canning funnel. Poured the derived liquid into the jar. Covered with a couple of clean outer leaves to keep shredded stuff submerged. I will keep pressing periodically for first 24 hours to encourage more liquid. Using a large pestle to press with. This will probably need to be moved into the basement because it already smells like the kitchen is farting.

Onion: Just for fun I sliced up a couple of onions and used the same 3.5% pickle brine, with a teaspoon of turmeric added. I love pickled onions!

Poblano peppers: These bad boys ruined my evening because of my own dumbassery. I know, poblanos are famously not really hot. But they were hot enough to set my hands aflame for hours. There was a 1.5 lb pack on sale for 99 cents so I (sliced them all up without gloves) bought them and realized that using whatever sale veg comes my way is such a brilliant and thrify way to have a million different jars of probiotic awesomeness! So anyhoo… They got the leftover tumeric onion brine diluted with more plain brine and then a half cup of raw organic Florida (shout out to my place of origin) cane sugar.

I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!