Friday, April 20, 2012

The Pirate/Sniper/Spy Amusement for the Day

El Jefe and I went for a walk down to the river a bit after dawn this morning.  We did this yesterday, too.  Yesterday, we were trailed by a small pirate, who was quickly spotted when El Jefe turned around to drag a tree off the path that had been knocked down by the high winds we've had lately.  Small Pirate was disappointed to be discovered so quickly.  I mentioned to Small Pirate that perhaps she would blend in better if she were wearing camo.  I did not expect this information to be retained, much less acted upon.  However, halfway through this morning's walk, I noted some movement on the other side of the field.  I pointed it out to El Jefe, who quickly identified the Small Pirate, and then stated we should pretend we had NOT seen her... probably because if she knew she had been seen, she would be vociferous in her disappointment at the failure of her "sneak" - and we really wanted some peace and quiet and "just us" time.  But it was quite amusing to watch her attempt to tiptoe across the field, and drop behind the bits of scrub growth whenever we looked her way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Leeks and Onions

This past weekend, while the internet was down, I did get the leeks and onions in the ground... about 200 onions split fairly evenly between red, white, and sweet yellow, and about 60 leeks.  Of course, then I looked a bit more closely at what was coming up in the yard around the trough (future asparagus bed) and realized that... there were leeks everywhere.  There are leeks coming up in the old garden area that is now my compost pile, too.  There are leeks coming up all over.  I have maybe 6 good leek recipes, but will obviously be trying every leek recipe I can find in the near future.  I like leeks, fortunately.  El Jefe, though, looked at me when I told him about the "wild" ones, and said, "Do I like leeks?"  You do now, honey.  You may not later, but you do now.

I was also pleased to see the rhubarb coming up where I cut the overgrown grass back.  That means I'll actually get rhubarb this year instead of having to wait two more years til my newly planted rhubarb is grown enough to cut.

Of the starts in the house, the lemongrass all died.  The amaranth is spindly.  But the malabar spinach looks great, and every seed germinated.  There are 6 good chile peppers and 8 white wonder cukes.  There  was an ant nest in one of the trays, so everything that germinated was moved to the other tray and the antful one was put outside (and drowned in the rain).  I have another tray and I bought some refill peat pellets, so we'll start other stuff this Sunday.  And I'll repot the cukes and peppers to something larger tomorrow, I hope.

And I have finished 2/3 of double digging the trough for the asparagus, which arrived Monday.  I need to finish the other third and get over to Suzanne's for more manure, now that I've figured out how to attach my little wagon to the back of the little tractor.  And I have to mow, too.  All that rain - nice not to have to water my new trees, but does make the grass grow faster.

One of those days

Did you ever have one of these?  Where at the end of the day the only thing you can say is that at least no one died?  That was my Monday.  It really started Sunday when the internet died just before I went to file the taxes.  So El Jefe spent an hour on the phone with the provider trying to fix it long distance.  No joy.  Then he was crabby.  Same thing Monday morning.  Then he had to leave for work (cranky) and I got on the phone.  Another hour.  Still no joy.  AND they couldn't schedule a service call til Wednesday - AFTER the taxes are due.  (Now I, too, am highly irritated).  So now I have to find the original Turbotax disk, and we'll have to load it on El Jefe's computer when he gets home from work, and transfer our return from my computer to his, too.  And then go to McDonalds or somewhere with WiFI, and file there.  Homeschool got cancelled, because of the ninety-three other things that needed to be done/went wrong, including that stupid dog rolling in the nasty, for the forty-second time.  I threw dinner in the crockpot.  Thank goodness for crockpots.  We had a dentist appt. at 2PM.  I wanted to stop at a friend's house on the way, to borrow next year's Tapestry of Grace to see if we want to do that next year (I need to order it soon, if we do).  But we didn't get started early enough to make that stop.  We've been trying to make that stop for a month.  We left on time for the dental appt, but without my phone.  We got there, and their power was out (it is a 45 minute drive to the dentist).  They had called my husband to tell him, about 15 minutes after I'd left the house, but I didn't have a phone for him to call me.  He was annoyed because they had called him anyway - they always call the wrong number about our appts.  I thought I'd just take both kids to the library that only one usually get to go to, while the other is at Sylvan.  But the Princess had forgotten to bring the movies that needed to be returned to that library.  Steam is coming out my ears.  I decided to just waste the gas and drive home (another 45 minutes ONE WAY),  get the movies and my phone and stop at the friend's house on the way BACK to town for the Pirate's appt at Sylvan.  We did this.  Then we dropped the Pirate at Sylvan and went to the library to discover the Pirate has an unreturned book she owes $20.60 to replace, Or $8.00 in late fees if she can find it, which will never happen because her room is a pigsty again.  We went back to Sylvan, picked up the Pirate and drove to TKD where I dropped both kids and went off to the allergist for my shots.  I got the shots.  I got back for my own TKD class, where I kept screwing up the same two points in my form - the form I am supposed to do at the tournament on Saturday.  El Jefe drove the kids home.  I went to Wally World for the fabric tape I need to edge El Jefe's uniform before Saturday's tournament.  On the way home, I ran over a raccoon.  Then I got home and El Jefe was really grouchy because we'd had 58 mph winds during the day and they had torn the hoop house to shreds  The new door is broken and the plastic is torn down the length of the house and up across the top.  In multiple places.  It is now useless.  so we go out in the dark and throw an old painter's plastic over the plants because we are supposed to get frost.  The plastic isn't quite long enough, but I don't think the rhubarb will care.  The carrots might, though.  Re-reading this, individually none of those things should have caused me to do any more than sigh.  Collectively, that should just be a lot of sighs.  Unfortunately, collectively it made me mad.  I might laugh at this later, but only if my plants survive.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gardening notes

I got the leeks and the onions in the ground in the hoop house today - that was four hundred or so little holes.  The kids helped by weeding other beds there, without even being asked to do so.  It made for a pleasant afternoon.  Of the seeds I started indoors, half of the cukes and chile peppers are up.  So is the lemon grass, but it looks REALLY thin.  I've never grown lemon grass so I don't know if that is normal or not.  A lot of the malabar spinach is up, and the amaranth.  Unfortunately, there was apparently an ants' nest under the carrier tray so I had to take that outside and remove and inspect all the plants and transfer them to another tray (leaving the infested peat and ants behind, I hope).  A minor irritation. At least it was warm enough to take the trays outside for some real sun.

 The potatoes arrived, but I have no idea where I am putting them yet, so they are still in the box in my bedroom (since it is far and away the coldest room in the house).  The asparagus will probably arrive next week, so I need to finish double digging the trough and adding the manure.  El Jefe might do it if it doesn't thunderstorm tomorrow (like it is supposed to), and he finishes leveling the base for the chicken coop... Unless removing the last trash tree next to the trough holds more appeal.  Ha.  Tomorrow I am Appleseeding, so I won't be doing any gardening, and Sunday I am singing the special at church, so my spare time is going to practicing with the background tracks anyway.  I hate singing with tracks.  They don't let me take the song where it wants to go.  Probably how an espaliered tree feels.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pirate Birthday

The Pirate has NOT given me a list for her birthday.  Usually she has a list several pages long for every birthday and holiday for which she might remotely expect a gift.  This is somewhat weird.  But she had mentioned that she wanted more puppets for putting on shows (and really for playing with like the stuffed animals I refuse to buy any more of), so when the Princess and I were in the bookstore today, we checked out the Folkmanis puppets, and found the perfect puppet for the Pirate.  A Flying Squirrel.  Seeing as how her favorite superhero is The Red Panda, that's perfect  (It's a Canadian radio drama, for those who have not yet heard of him).   The Red Panda's sidekick is the Flying Squirrel.  The Pirate wants to be her.  But since she has to be herself, she has decided to be The Flying Cheetah, because she has leopard print clothes already, and that's clothes enough.  (It's late, I'll stop that, right now, really...) 

Homeschooling Bits

We have finished the Botany text for the year, except for the "Final" (which we are doing orally tomorrow, since it is 50 questions long, and the questions require more than one word answers, and the Pirate would be apoplectic at the idea).  So, I need to order next year's text, which will be Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day (I'd call it an ornithology book, but it includes bats and butterflies in addition to birds, so that won't quite fly.  ha.)  Anyway, we're just going to take a week off science while we wait for the new books to get here, and then we'll start next school year 5 months early.  I see no reason not to do so, and I'll never feel like we're behind in Science if I do it.  I'll also have a chance to proof the book, because I had a few issues with this year's text.  Field bees are not male, and I'm not a Young Earther, and so on.  I dislike sloppy thinking, grammar, and editing.  In case you are wondering, the quality of the experiments and activities made up for my issues, so we are sticking with the series.

The Princess finished her math text for the year last week (The LONG year of LONG division), and I ordered Life of Fred (Fractions) to play with until the credit card re-sets and we can order Teaching Textbooks 5 for her.  No, we are nowhere near our credit limit - we just pay it off every month, and when we reach the point where I am unhappy about paying it, we stop buying anything 'til the next month.  Yes, it is weird, but we have no credit card debt that way, so it works and you can laugh all you want, I won't care.  Anyway, Life of Fred is only $20/textbook.  Teaching Textbooks is going to run me over $100.  I like Life of Fred.  It's FUNNY.  And the author packs an incredible amount of information into each little chapter.   And it isn't drill and kill - the examples and questions are all "real life" so you know why you are learning what you are learning.  I ordered the very first book in the elementary series for the Pirate (Apples), and she did half the book in one day, and has begged for multiple chapters every other day we've done it.  This from the child who usually whinges and whines for an hour over a worksheet she actually completes in ten minutes once she finally shuts up and starts it.  She has 7 more chapters of Multiplication, which is about ten more weeks of work, so she won't be done until June.  That isn't stopping us from doing Life of Fred at the same time, though, because Fred is Fun.

We have nine more weeks of Tapestry of Grace - the Etruscans, then the Romans. I'm sure it will take til mid-June, though.  We're not starting Year Two until August, when the girls get back from Camp.

I've decided to finish up a few things we've let slide, like the geography workbooks.  The Princess likes them, and the Pirate is generally happy about anything we can do orally.  I won't stop with the maps that relate to Tapestry of Grace topics, but the workbooks provide more map-reading experience than simply coloring the extent of Alexander the Great's Empire by copying a completed example.  The Princess also started her Spelling program again.  I still find it REALLY HARD TO TEACH SPELLING, since I find spelling the easiest subject of all, and have never had to think about it.  Words just look right, or wrong.  Try teaching that.  When she finishes this workbook (June), we'll try Sequential Spelling with both the girls, because I don't think what we're doing now is working in terms of long-term retention, or application of previously learned material to new problems.  Of course, English doesn't help, with screwball issues like weight/wait and eight/ate, which we discovered today.

I'm done with phonics.  It is now time to convince everyone to read aloud to me (instead of me always reading to them).

We are still doing poetry, which I love hearing them recite.  Especially stuff like The Whole Duty Of Children.  We'll keep that up, but possibly not all from the book we've been using, because I got a new list from IEW, and it looked like more fun.  Suggestions are always welcome in the poetry department.

Garden Diary

One quarter of the hoop house beds are double dug and amended with our generous neighbor's horse manure.  Kohlrabi, carrots, radishes and peas are planted (all seeds because I was too short of time and too disorganized from moving to manage to start anything early).  I did manage to start amaranth, malabar spinach, lemongrass, and chile peppers in Jiffy peat pots yesterday.  They are on a heat mat in the living room, which is usually 65 degrees during the day and 55 at night... I didn't think they'd do well without the extra heat for germinating.  (All the seed info said they could liked to germinate in soil at least 70F.  Tomorrow, assuming the weather allows it, I'm going to clear the old 5'x10' cement trough of the trash tree in it, the trash shrub next to it, and the remaining layer of weeds.  I will probably NOT do anything about the pile of rocks next to it at this point, because I have other, more time sensitive, jobs to do... like emptying the green shack so it can be torn down on Saturday.  In fact, if I can find the RoundUp, I may just hack out the tree and the shrub, and simply spray the remaining weeds.  Then I can go work on the shack tomorrow, and deal with turning the bed Sunday after church, assuming the weeds are dead.  But that does put off getting the manure in the bed.  At least we have established that my little wagon DOES actually attach to the tractor, and I will not have to haul anymore manure uphill by hand (which experience taught me to appreciate cart ponies far more than I did).  El Jefe has apparently stayed late for Hapkido class after the usual TaeKwonDo, seeing as how he isn't home yet, so I think I will go find some bowls and start nicking and soaking morning glory and snake gourd seeds to start in the remaining peat pots tomorrow.  Then I will have to go buy more peat pots, because I will have more plants to start at the end of the month when the first sets are moved to the hoop house.

My week-by-week garden planner arrived in the mail yesterday - It looks to be very helpful, and allows me at least three years of space for weekly notes.  The One Line A Day Five Year Memory Book turned out to be far too small - one line per day that is only three inches long is simply not enough for my verbosity... I'm glad I ordered the other book at the same time.