Tuesday, May 31, 2011

You Don’t Know Beans!

I decided to try something fun and new this year since I have a little space for a garden this year.
purple pod beans  I am trying out some purple podded green beans.  What could be more fun that purple green beans?  Of course, unfortunately, they do turn green when cooked, but really!  Purple Beans!
Then I am going classy with some French Filet Green Beans.  french filet beans  Believe me I would probably need to plant an acre in order to get any real class, but I thought these would be good for steaming.  For good or bad, I am trying to cook a little differently.  And boiling them to death in water with some bacon drippings I am given to understand is not the way to go.  So I have my bamboo steamer I haven’t really tried yet and will use it on these babies.
I grew up with Kentucky Wonder Bush beans.  Nothing at all wrong with them. They are a real work horse and consistent producer, that’s why they’ve been around for years and years.  I have picked, snapped, cooked, canned and eaten literally bushels of these babies.  In fact, my parents still grown them, much to my mother’s dismay. I just had an email where she was lamenting the amount my dad still insists on planting each year.  But I am familiar with the growth habit of bush beans. 
These beauties are growing a little differently, somewhere between pole and bush.  Hence, my bamboo and string trick I had to do after they got about 18 inches tall.
IMG_0119  And once they got to blooming and setting beans, the leaves on the French Filet started turning yellow at the bottom.  I don’t think the hot humid weather of the past couple of weeks has really been it’s favorite choice.
French Filet Beans Despite everything, there are tons of little, baby beans on the plants.
Pretty in purple The real pod doesn’t look this brown, it is more purple.  But won’t a mess of these look so cute.  Not long now before they are ready to pick.  I have started another little area, about 3 feet by 7 feet with 4 rows of beans.  They are just coming up now, so once these are done, I should have another set of beans ready for the picking.  So right now I am waiting and watching for my first mess of beans.
My goal is in the fall, to set up actual raised beds over the entire front yard and try to start growing year round.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Story of Juliette and the Black Prince

This is a dirty story.  Lots of dirt.  And some bondage.  It’s a love story, one filled with anticipation.

Once upon a time there was Juliette.

Juliette Grape  Juliette lived on the left side of the porch.  She was full of life, fruitful.  She had been there almost her whole life, confined in a large tub with no one for company except for a couple of red petunias and basil.

One the other side of the stairs lived the Black Prince.  Black Prince  He was a lusty lad, full of himself and determined to fill up his corner of the world.  But he too was alone except for the petunia and basil.

Unfortunately, Juliette and the Black Prince were confined solely to their own corner of the world.  Tethered by strings for support, rooted firmly in the soil of their home.

Actually, despite the really weird weather we have had the past couple of months, I am so thrilled with how they are producing.Black Prince Cluster...stripes  This is the first cluster of the Black Prince.  They are about golf ball size or just a tad larger.  You can see how they are going to be a little streaky when they mature and I am already salivating.  I haven’t had Black Prince before and am looking forward to giving them a try.  These plant is a Russian heirloom and according to reviews has a great taste.  I can’t wait to see them start turning the dark garnet/brown and green they are reported to turn.  One review I read said it was an excellent container tomato.  Well…….I do have to say it seems to have topped out at about 4 feet tall (head high for me counting the big bin it’s in.)  But it is so full.   I will have to take a ‘girth’ measurement, but it has to be about 8 feet around.  I am surprised and pleased about the number of clusters it contains right now.  There are probably 25-30 clusters in various stages right now and it’s still growing.  I should be insured an ample supply for several weeks.

Juliette is a girl who is definitely not afraid of a little competition and steps up to the plate.  She is my only hybrid, but I do have a special place in my heart for her.  I have grown Juliette in the past and have been very pleased with what a work horse she is.  To the extent I have to take bags of her tomatoes into work to get rid of them (and it’s such a hardship on my co-workers I know).

Juliette grape cluster 2  This is the first cluster she put on and already getting that white cast before they start turning red.  Of what I could easily see there are 30 clusters in various stages on her.  And with tomatoes it seems half the fruit you can’t see until it ripens and you can see the contrast of the red fruit against the green leaves.  More Juliette  Most of the clusters contain 7 or 8 fruit.  Each cluster makes a great addition to a salad or a nice little handful for a snack.

Juliette is a little forward though.  She is pushing through the railing, trying to get over to her Prince.  They are evenly matched though, she’s about 4 feet tall and about 8 feet around.  I keep them separated and speak to them as I go in and out the door.  I like to think all that ‘good vibes’ helps them grow.  But then it could be a load of fertilizer.

Next….French Filet and the Purple Green Beans.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Camp

In perusing various blogs this weekend, there is a similar theme on several of them…..SUMMER CAMP.  Some of them are planning on joining in with friends and family and exploring their creativity and relaxing in the sun.  While others, and it seems the majority, are using this summer as a time to recharge and reflect.  With the passing of my grandmother and my oldest leaving home in a few days, that seems to be what kind of summer camper I want to be.  I had plans on charging ahead with working on a couple of large writing projects.  However, I think I will take a different tack.


I plan on doing the following for the summer….

1.  I want to work as many hours as possible.  Sounds a little strange, but actually after 32 years work, for the most part, is pretty mindless.  Yes, each call is different, but the mechanics are the same. 

The reason for this?  Well, one, not sure how much Savvy’s schooling is going to run in Arizona and how much her financial aid will pick up.  I want to have the money set aside.  Secondly, I want to replace her camera the zombie blood destroyed.  I want her to take pictures of Arizona and they plan on going to the Grand Canyon, so she needs a camera.  And since I used her camera all the time, I need to get a camera of my own.  However, I want a CAMERA!  One with interchangeable lens.  And if the Texter takes the classes she is interested in, she will probably need an upgrade of camera also.

2.  I am going to come home and walk around in my little garden and ‘zen’ out.  I will talk and touch the plants.  Eat fresh tomatoes off the vine.  Have purple green beans for dinner.  Sniff the basil and mint.

3.  Also, as part of the money I’m setting aside, I want to have funds set aside for the trip to Tennessee this fall my mother wants to do to take my grandparents’ ashes back and scatter them.  We talked briefly and we are thinking of going back to the cemetery that was at the end of their property.  I use to play up there.  It will be a trip down memory lane for Mom and I and I assume my sister will be coming also.  Texter wants to go, so this will be a chance for her to see where I grew up.

4.  I have a couple of family history projects I want to work on.  One is going through the dozen picture albums I have which have not been looked at in years.  Any pictures I want to save (assuming I can pry them off that sticky background) I will scan into the computer.  I have tons of pictures of which were junk at the time I took them, so there will be some decluttering going on at the same time.  Another is organizing my family history ‘stuff’ and getting it into the computer.

5.  I plan on working through my Adobe Photoshop CS5 book a lesson at a time.  A class I will be taking the in fall with be using the same book, but I would like to get a little heads up.


6.  There are several art workshops I would like to attend this summer in the evenings offered by one of the local towns.  They are free and offer an insight into various mediums.  They should be a lot of fun.

7.  Get into a home practice for yoga and tai chi. 

While all of this sounds like a very busy summer, it actually seems very calming to me.  A chance to go onto autopilot for a while and just go day-by-day.






Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Passing of an Era

Edith and tomato

My “Nana” passed away yesterday.  She was 96 years old as of December 25, 2010.  And until the last 2-3 years was in good health.  The last few years without my grandfather weighed on her I believe.  But she left behind a half century of memories for me.

She was the cook for my grandfather’s railroad crew for years.  I have spent time on the railroad that very few people have.  They had quarters in converted box cars.  One was their living quarters, a second one was a cook car and the third was for the crew.   I know how to open the door at the end of one car and step on the coupling and step over into the other car.  I can sleep at night with a train passing inches away from where I’m sleeping on in the camp car on a siding.  I can cook for 20 without batting an eye.  The first pie I can remember cooking was the Lemon Meringue pie using Eagle Brand Milk.  I still have to fix it at least once a year and get my ‘fix’.  Only thing is, when I fixed it I had to make 2-4 of them.  After all, I was spending time during the summer with her on the railroad and I helped fix the three meals a day she cooked for the crew.  Meals, on and off the railroad, would consist of 1-2 meats, 4-5 vegetables, homemade biscuits and/or cornbread and dessert.  And she could fix Tennessee style BBQ in the crockpot which was as good as you could buy anywhere.  After we moved to Texas, she made sure I had my BBQ every time I came to see her because she knew how much I missed it and enjoyed it.

More than that, she started me down the road with yarn and hooks.  She was a crocheter – using it to while away the time between meals while my granddad was working.  They were so often on railroad sidings in the back of beyond in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee.  She crocheted a bedspread for a double bed with fine cotton thread.  There are countless little squares making up the spread.  It’s a soft ivory and you can feel the weight of it when you sleep under it.  I would love to make one for myself, partly because it’s so beautiful and partly in her memory.  But the hours and hours it took to make it……I don’t know that I would ever get it finished like she did.  And when leggings were the big craze years ago….well, let’s say it’s the thought that counts.  Same for the shipment of hats.  But I have some crocheted lace collars to wear tucked away in the back of my drawers.  The edging on a set of sheets she also crocheted for me.

I would get to go to the ‘cabin’ with them when they took a break from the railroad.  It was miles from nowhere in Tennessee near the lake.  And this was my chance to get to eat at the ‘goo-goo’ stand on the way to the cabin.  A ‘goo-goo’ stand was something like a Dairy Queen to her.  This was pre-McDonald’s days, so it was a major treat. 

Nana & Tim Here we are in the early 60’s on the porch of the cabin.  This was a house she and my grandfather built to eventually be their retirement home.  At this time it had one living room/kitchenette, bedroom and a semi-working bathroom.  I learned to pee in a coffee can or find a tree at an early age!

The memories are endless and at this point in time, very bittersweet.  I do regret I never learned how to make biscuits like she could.  But I know she is happier and more comfortable now.  Bye, Nana.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Garden Update

Juliette Grape tomato cluster

Tomatoes are on the vine.  Lettuce has been picked.  Sunflowers are now a good 18 inches high in the raised bed.  Beans are ready to start blooming and setting beans.  My garden is looking great!

I recently read an article on how walking barefoot on the soil grounds you and correct a boatload of problems.  I can’t attest all my aches and pains, physically and mentally, are cured by going barefoot, however, there is something about standing there, toes curling on the cool earth and checking out my garden.  Instantly, a calm feeling comes over me.  I can tell my tenseness level goes down about 20 points immediately.  That is until the dog makes a beeline through the middle of the whole thing.  Luckily, she is staying out of the raised beds.

Currently I am  marveling at my purple bush beans and my French filet beans.  They are up about 18 inches, huge leaves and ready to start flowering. IMG_0119 My fajita bell  pepper is just about lost in their midst and is flowering and setting peppers.  My other bell peppers were transplanted last weekend and are coming along.  I have to say I haven’t had a pepper plant get so big on me before.  Usually they are just about 12 inches high, produce a couple of puny peppers and that’s it.  Being in this raised bed is giving me some high hopes my peppers will actually produce well this year.  And this is my first year of planting some beans.  (I am very familiar with beans from my parents and grandparents gardens, but it has been years since I have had enough room to plant beans. )  This is an experiment to see if I can get a couple of servings of some unusual beans.  My fennel in the corner is doing well.

My mother’s day present to myself was getting things in the ground and in pots.  I still have an area an I want to clear for my watermelon and maybe some more beans.  Hopefully, between things the girls need to get done and work, I will have Sunday to play in the garden.  And some recent rain to loosen the ground so I can get some shrub stumps out.  I need to cut up some bamboo for stakes and ‘fencing’ around my garden area.

IMG_0135  These are my cucumbers and some more mammoth sunflowers.  The “plan” is to have the sunflowers grow up around the bamboo pole and then the cucumbers to go up the string and make sort of a teepee effect.  All the string around the cucumbers is to hopefully keep the dog from making a shortcut across them until they get bigger.  I need to mulch around them however.  Hopefully, this really sandy soil can grow them well.  Need to fertilize them some.

The yarrow I ‘liberated’ from an old house is taking hold nicely.  I need to transplant some more of the zinnias from the planter to the ground.  Although they do look nice and lush where they are now.  And I am surprised at the Gerber daisies.  They are holding up nicely, despite the afternoon sun.  We will see how long they last once the temperatures get out of the 70’s and into the 90’s.IMG_0114

In addition to my tomatoes in pots, I have 4 dwarf tomatoes I am ‘reporting’ on.  I put these in a couple of mail bins which I had on hand.  They are about the same size as the grow bags NCTomatoman is using for his dwarf tomatoes.  So my regular tomatoes are in buckets and my dwarfs in bins.  I am calling this area “tomato row”.  There is a bucket of Mrs. Burn’s Lemon basil and a bin of regular and Red Rubin basil there also.  What is a tomato without some basil?Tomato Row  This picture is from last week.  Already the tomatoes in the buckets are shooting up and the dwarfs are just a little bit bigger.  I want to move some pine straw from the back and put around these buckets and bins…just to make it look a little nicer if nothing else.



Sunday, May 08, 2011


“We’re fools whether we dance or note, so we might as well dance.”

-Japanese Proverb

It took me almost five decades to stop worrying so much about what people think of my actions.  Still not completely there yet.  Five decades of habit is hard to break, but I’m getting there.  Still working on the nail biting.

Savvy Pics (1)

  Recently, I have found some new motivation to help me stay focused on being “me”.  A guy I use to work with now lives in Key West and is my ‘inspiration in rhinestones’.  QMitch is unabashedly a drag queen and lives his life out loud and outrageous and authentically.

So this white, single, heterosexual (assuming I had a sex life) woman is taking life lessons from a drag queen.  Let me pull out the heels and rhinestones and start dancing!


“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”

                                                     - Angela Monet


Saturday, May 07, 2011

I’m in Love and Jealous at the same time….

While I was all psyched to watch “The Borgia's” this spring on Showtime, I didn’t know a thing about “Game of Thrones” which started at the same time on HBO.  And I am sssoooo in love with it.  So much so I am listening to the audio recording of the book while watching the series on TV.

game-of-thrones The job they did of translating the book to screen is magnificent.  In fact, the dialogue is almost word by word from the book.  It holds the integrity of the book up so well.  The detail in the movie sets is tremendous. It’s lush and lavish and yet portrays the cold and starkness of the North. It’s one of those things you have to record so you can watch once for the story and then go back and re-watch for the details.  The only thing changed, I have found, from the book to the screen are the ages of the younger characters.  In the book, some of the main characters are children, and are 14, 15 years old (or a little younger).  In the TV production they are late teens, early 20’s.  Much easy for the mind to take what happens to some of them.

But being a writer myself, I am so jealous and envious and in awe of the job George Martin did on this book (and the 4 others that follow).  The descriptions and the details which go into this world he has created in mind-blowing.  There is such a wealth of detail you find yourself standing there and seeing exactly what Winterfeld and River Run and the Red Keep look like.  Not to mention the Wall.  I would love to see how he keeps all this detail straight.


Which do I prefer?  Both.  You can watch the series and not lose a thing by reading the book at the same time. In fact, if I get ahead in the book I find myself getting more impatient for the next episode of the series.  And which House am I for?  Why House Stark, of course.

thrones books

Thursday, May 05, 2011

While in Film Class…..

Besides watching some films I had never seen before (nor the desire to see before this class), I also doodled.  Doodling helps me to concentrate actually.  Especially while watching a movie in a classroom setting where I can’t get up and move around.  So, when I was emptying out my binders and recycling papers from this past semester, I pulled and saved my artwork I made during the class.  Instead of calling them ‘zentangles’ I am calling them ‘filmtangles’.

filmtangle1 This is my doodling while watching “American Psycho”. 


As you can tell from the paper, this is from “Reservoir Dogs”.

filmtangle3 “Taxi Driver” was responsible for this one.

filmtangle4 Can’t remember what we were discussing for this one.

filmtangle5 “Bonnie and Clyde”….maybe inspired by their car?

filmtangle6 Another doodle from “Taxi Driver”.

filmtangle7 Orange….for “Clockwork Orange” of course.

filmtangle8  Not sure what film we were discussing.  We might have been going over our screenplays and projects.  Of which, I have a good start on the first act of my screenplay.  I will probably convert to novel form.  Writing a screenplay is very different from creative writing.  Not sure it’s my forte.  I ‘m still working on dialogue and that’s what a screenplay is – dialogue.

filmtangle9  “Goodfellas” inspiration.  Between that movie and the “Godfather” trilogy, I am pretty much “family-ed” out.

filmtangle10  And I didn’t just confine myself to notebook paper….handouts got equal treatment.

It was interesting to see how the same patterns came up over and over again.  But didn’t draw any zombies.