13 April 2009


In the garden, I've added another square each of cornsalad and spring onions. The original squares seem to be growing, but VERY slowly.

I had to cover the garden last night--temps here in Crofton were heading down to 31F. Tonight is supposed to stay in the low 40's.

I also have a tray of tomatos and carrot seedlings going great guns.

I've been digging out the stones in the bed along the fence, as I said I was going to...I've pulled about 2 GALLONS of stones out of about 6 cubic feet of soil. That means the bed is about 20% (!) stones.

My friend Debbie picked up some compost and topsoil for me. If I can just FINISH "rocking" the tomato bed (hey, WEEDING is a verb for removing WEEDS... ;-) I'll be able to start building that soil, just in time to put in the tomatoes and peppers.

My Holy Saturday plans were put on hold by rain that didn't stop until about 4PM. So, instead of working on the garden, I was invited to see the movie "Monsters Vs. Aliens". It's a great movie for kids OVER 8--several younger children were distressed by some of the scenes. It's a marvelous pastiche of monster movie cliches, scrambled, diced, and remade into a touching story about being yourself.

So Easter Sunday, in between the two church services and Easter Dinner, I was doing all the stuff I wanted to do on Saturday.

And then I ate too much. My diet chart isn't looking as good as it should--it leveled out because of yesterday, and I expect I'll need some time to get it dropping again.

And now I've added yet ANOTHER draw on my time. Some friends and I, including Yseulte the mad harper, visited Killarney House in Davidsonville for St. Patrick's Day. I checked the website to see what kind of performers they usually have, and found a group called "T.I.P.S.C", the Traditional Irish Pub Singing Club. I suggested to Yseulte that they might want a harper and a whistler to add to their repertoire, and she took off! Now we are practicing with them, and it looks like we're going to be their opening act on 21 April!

Now, if we're going to be an opening act, we really needed a name. Yseulte says that if I'm getting overwhelmed, it's my own fault. I say she didn't need to take me SERIOUSLY--no one ever does!

And so was born "Mutual Blame Society"!

I can shift some time around, for about a month. I'm taking a sabbatical from singing with the choir--I just get so frustrated by the arrangements! The basses are supposed to sing what would be a reasonable tenor line, the tenors are set up on an alto line, the altos are supposed to sing soprano, and the sopranos--well, it hurts. When you show up for rehearsal ANGRY, it's time to take a break. But that means that Wednesdays will be free for awhile.

And we're finally getting close to the last day for frost in my zone. I'll be able to stop worrying about freezing my little veggies.


31 March 2009

What's Happening In The Garden?

Besides the turnips, the peas and spinach from the first sowing are up. I'm going to have to thin the turnips--the seeds are so small that 2 or 3 ended up in every hole, and THEY ALL SPROUTED.

I haven't seen the onions or cornsalad--I'm afraid it was just too cold for them, and I'll need to replant.

From the 2nd sowing, the arugula is up, but nothing else yet.

(UPDATE: April 1, and the kohlrabi is peeking out!)

In the house, I've started a tray with "American Flag" leeks, "Bella" hot peppers, "Mercury" bell peppers, cabbage, and basil.

I'm thinking of trying, just as an experiment, planting potatoes which have sprouted in my cupboard, and trying to sprout some sweet potatoes and carrots the same way. I would need to add 1'x1'x1' frames to get the soil deep enough for these kinds of root vegetables. I'm also thinking of trying to grow another variety of bell pepper, this one from the seeds of the pepper I'm currently eating on my salads. Plus, I have a half-dozen different kinds of beans in my closet for bean soups and such--will they germinate? Will they grow? And what if I planted some of my popcorn? ;-)

I don't have ROOM to try everything I'm thinking of...

I still need to do remediation along the fence--dig out lots of stones, add lots of compost. Time is flying!

March Diet Results

Down at the bottom of the page are the results of my diet to date! The line to watch is the BLUE one, which is an exponentially-smoothed trendline for the fluctuating weight, in PINK. I am losing about 1.75 lbs each week, which is good.

As long as the Weight line stays below the Trend line, I'm losing weight.

25 March 2009

Diet Is Spelled DIE--T

I'm going public.

I'm on a diet, and now all--3?--of you are watching.

My goal is to lose a pound each week for the next year. That will put me back into the "Healthy" range for my Body Mass Index, which is currently hovering near "Incipient Gravitational Collapse".

The book--don't I always have a book?--I'm following is "The Hacker's Diet: How To Lose Weight and Hair Through Stress and Poor Nutrition". The title is snarky, but accurate: losing weight REQUIRES that our bodies receive fewer calories than they burn, and the stress of dealing with the deficit is what burns off the fat.

In short, it's a standard calorie-counting diet, with automated tools to track progress and filter out the random noise--smoothing the curve so you can see your REAL progress, and not get upset because you ate ONE LOUSY PEANUT and gained 2 pounds.

I'll post a chart of my progress on a more-or-less weekly basis. Right now, there's nothing to see, so be patient.

I'm reducing my portions, limiting my desserts, skipping the Chinese buffet (-gulp!-), drinking more water, and eating more veggies. From my garden. Real Soon Now. Did I mention I have turnips?


Well, nothing else has sprouted yet, but by God and all that's holy, I'VE GOT TURNIPS!

Second Crop Goes In...

Last Saturday, I neglected to mention that I've sowed my second batch of seeds. This time, in no particular order:

Chioggia Beets
Early Wonder Beets
Prizehead Lettuce
Romaine Lettuce

Further bulletins as events warrant!

20 March 2009

Keep Your Eyes OPEN!

Have you looked closely at the last picture I posted?

I neglected to mention it--other things on my mind, I guess, like freezing nighttime temperatures. But if you click on the picture, and then look up at the very top, you see...

Green wire, leaning against the fence.

Yeah? So what?

It's a tomato cage.

I found it.

I was walking Sadie through the commons area between two condominium associations, and stepped over this, laying flat on the ground. About 20 feet later, my brain registered what my eyes had seen, so I went back to look at it.

It was half-buried under last autumn's leaves, so it had been there awhile. But I had NEVER noticed it before.

I left it there one more day, thinking that the owner might have deliberately(?) buried it in the leaves? Then I brought it home.

I feel like Calvin: "There's Treasure EVERYWHERE!"

19 March 2009

A Square Foot Garden

I'm taking my inspiration for my garden from two books: "Crockett's Victory Garden", by Jim Crockett, and "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. I picked up both used, one at Goodwill for $1 or so, and the other over the Internet for $9.

Funny thing, both books are companion volumes to classic PBS series.

In the seven squares nearest the bottom of the picture are:

Little Marvel peas
Sugar Snap peas
and Spring Onions.

I'm starting to pay more attention to things like nighttime temperatures. The problem is, Tuesday night was supposed to drop into the low 40s in Crofton--but we had frost on some of the cars. Last night was supposed to be in the mid 30s--but it never got out of the low 40s. I think my garden will be OK--the soil didn't feel too cold after Tuesday night--but I decided I'd better find some way to cover it for the next several nights: 32, 29, 31 degrees are expected lows. So I went up in my attic looking for some tarps I have used camping, and found the leftovers of a torn sun shade I cut up to make a ground cloth. The area I need to cover is just over 3x9; the strip I found was 4x11. It's like it was MADE for this.

Sometimes, it's GOOD to be a packrat.

I have been dropping in on my garden in the morning as I take Sadie out for her walk. I guess I'll have to do it as I head out the door instead, to minimize the exposure to the low temperatures.

And I STILL need some more soil, and some containers, to start seeds inside--and I'm s'posed to be planting more on Saturday! Busy, busy, busy!

I figure you can expect to see some review of "SFG" and "THMP" in the near future. At least THESE books I don't have to return to the library!

UPDATE: OOPS! That's "Square Foot Gardening" (SFG) and "The Have-More Plan" (THMP). I forgot I hadn't mentioned THMP in the post, only in my reading list...

08 March 2009

Gardening in Small Spaces

Last weekend, I pulled up a bunch of the paving blocks in my backyard. Underneath, I found sand, plastic, and clay. I can't grow anything in that! It's been dead and buried for 30 years.

So, I've started building raised beds. Instead of fighting to grow veggies in fill dirt that requires major remediation, I left it alone, and raked a base of fallen leaves into the hole. Then I bought bags of garden soil to go on top.

YES, I know I'm supposed to take the dirt OUT of the bags!

Then it snowed. We got more snow than we've had since 2006.

Now that it has all melted, and it's 70+ degrees out, I have put down the soil in the bed, and I broke up and turned the soil all along the fence. Plus, the bin in the corner (used to hold the dog food, but the latch is broken) has a large square cut out of the bottom and is 1/2 filled with leaves and some dirt. It's the start of my compost.

Baby steps...

19 February 2009

Homegrown Evolution

I've just found a blog that I'm really excited about:


You probably already know it.

The authors are living out urban homesteading in Los Angeles. I've already been reminded that some of the solutions for problems on the homestead are the same solutions used by backpackers for years.

Their "pirate" garden in the parkway, the narrow green strip between the sidewalk and the road, is inspiring!

09 February 2009

Dog Walking Prohibited at Nantucket Elementary?

I was out walking Sadie, and suddenly was confronted with a sign: Dog Walking Prohibited On School Grounds, or something similar. I'm on the warpath!

"To whom it may concern,

I am writing to inquire as to the justification for the complete prohibition of dogs on the public grounds of Nantucket Elementary in Crofton. Before there was a school, I walked my dog through the woods and wetlands the school has eliminated. The construction of the school made some of our favorite walks impossible. And after the school was completed, and even since it has opened, the school provided at least one benefit to me, even though I have no children who will ever attend it: it completed a walking route that I could follow from MD-450 to St. Stephen's Church Road, without ever having to walk ALONG any road with a speed limit that exceeds 25MPH.

I began using this path long before there was a Nantucket Elementary; now, suddenly, I am PROHIBITED. My only walking choices are along MD-3, which I consider extremely dangerous, or along Riedel Rd., where the sidewalk is not separated from the roadway by any barrier. And once I reach an endpoint, my only choice is to go back the way I came, or follow the other hazardous roadway back.

What is the county's justification for this prohibition? Is it to prevent the accumulation of dog waste? I can assure you that will never be a problem with me! I take my responsibilities as a dog owner very seriously--I even clean up after OTHER dogs. Aren't the existing "pooper-scooper" regulations strict enough?

Is it distraction to the students? Then prohibit access during school hours! But aren't there already regulations restricting access to the grounds of a school while school is in session?

Are there concerns about safety? Aren't the leash laws adequate?

If the existing regulations aren't enforceable, how do you expect to enforce THIS one? And if it is NOT enforceable, how do you expect it to help? It will only encourage the general contempt for arbitrary regulations that already clearly exists on the highways of Maryland.

Please enlighten me. Do those of us who own dogs have no rights of passage across _public_ property? I think that the common law which forms the foundation of our system of jurisprudence would argue otherwise!

Further, the prohibition is extended solely to dogs. What if I wished to walk my cat, or my pot-bellied pig, or my minature pony? What if I wished to ride my horse through? (I own none of these animals.) Why is the restriction _solely_ aimed at dogs?

The prohibition of access to the grounds of Nantucket Elementary to those of us, citizens, voters, and taxpayers, who wish to continue walking our dogs in a place we have frequented for many years, is unfair, unjust, and unsafe.

Please explain your reasoning.


I'll post their reply!

UPDATE: I've sent a "letter to the editor" at the Annapolis Capital-Gazette, which also publishes the Crofton News-Crier. If you see it, you'll recognize this entry, with its lyric prose butchered for space requirements ;-)

23 January 2009

It's A New Day...

It has been a HECTIC month+.

If we go back to a day or two before my last post, I went to a local production of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum".

This was followed by my actual birthday, and the annual Christmas Revels production of the Washington Revels: "A French-Canadian Christmas".

There were SCA events in Ponte Alto, Dun Carraig, Stierbach, and Bright Hills.

There was a Messiah sing-along at Goucher College.

There were the THREE Christmas services for my church, on the Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday prior to Christmas.

My sister-in-law released her new cross-cultural CD, "Land of the Midnight Son: Norwegian Christmas in America" with Norwegian Pianist Ola Gjeilo (www.OlaGjeilo.com) and Brian Priebe, Trombone and Alphorn, celebrating Norwegian-American Christmas traditions. I played alto recorder for one number in her release concert! Buy it at lindapriebe.com or arrivimarketing.com.

There were Christmas parties with family. My cousin/housemate had both her daughter and father visiting, from Taiwan and Minnesota respectively.

There were New Year's parties with friends from PAGE.

There was the whole Inauguration thing, which tied KNOTS in traffic all around Washington, DC.

All of this, in addition to the usual business of living, meant that I had NO time to blog.

On the whole, I'm glad it's all over!