Jabberwocky for 2005 April

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[Comments] (2) Dear Grandpa Call:: Are you watching me, Grandpa? I hope so. I'm working really hard in my garden and trying to make it nice like yours always was. Today I pulled two garbage cans full of weeds and spent poppies. I wish I had the time and energy to do more. I will try to go outside for two spells tomorrow.

My zucchini have died. I don't know why. I think I'll buy a plant at the nursery instead of trying to start my own from seed. There are some places in my yard that I think are just poisoned, and maybe I planted zucchini in one of them. I'm trying very hard to build up the soil.

At the auto repair place this afternoon, I read an article in Better Homes and Gardens about a lady who has her front yard like I want mine to be--so closely planted that not a blade of grass can come up. I think she's been at it a lot more years than I have, however.

[Comments] (1) Big Trouble: Gretel and I went to White Forest Nursery today. I got in bad trouble. The flowers were all so pretty that I had to have them all! I bought some fall-blooming crocus to put in. It's the one that saffron comes from, and I figure that with saffron at ten bucks a pinch, I'd try growing some.

I bought a lot of huchera to go under the redwood trees because it's been very successful there, and a lot of flowers to replace dead gazania and soon to die California poppies. I did really a lot of work today. Also I harvested the radiccio and thinned the beets and made a lovely salad with greens and goat cheese for me and Rachel for dinner. (I threw it up.)

I had read in some book that a taro plant can live in places where water sits on the soil, so Gretel and I went to the Asian Market to get a taro. I had no idea what it was, and to my surprise, it's a huge thing, much bigger than a large butternut squash. The book said just plant the root on its side. So I dug a big hole and planted it, right by the front sidewalk. THEN I looked it up in the Sunset book, and found it grows 6 feet tall. Oops.

[Comments] (1) Observation: I have spent much time recently pulling Bermuda grass from under the redwood trees, which means my face is in the redwood tree. There is no smell like that, so refreshing and cleansing. I think that the world would be a better place if everyone would bury their nose in the branches of a redwood tree once a day.

Redwood trees, good. Bermuda grass, bad.

[Comments] (5) What the Pope Meant to the Rest of Us: I am not a Catholic, and I disagree with many of that church's teachings, but I admired John Paul II. He stood by his convictions even when they were unpopular. He opposed both wars in Iraq, and he always spoke up for the poor, the underprivileged, and the oppressed. He traveled the world greeting the people and made life better in that one moment for many of them.

Those will be big shoes for someone else to fill.

[Comments] (3) Territories: Gretel doesn't like me to be in the kitchen unless I am cooking. She doesn't like me to be in the living room. She paces around and misbehaves. She wants me in the computer room (or at certain times in bed.) Anything else just will not do. When I'm in the computer room or the bedroom she settles down on the rug and is happily companionable.

Today Rachel helped me clean off the desk so I can sit there and grade papers instead of doing it at the kitchen table. It's been peacable doggy time ever since.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood: I finished planting all the six-packs of flowers I bought. Now, just two flats remain, one of wooly thyme and one of awwwwww, I forget just what, but it's a ground cover. Let's hope it chokes out weeds. The Stewarts came over to get the tomato plants I started for them and were very complimentary about my garden. By the end of the week I should have the flats planted.

I finally got my bay leaf tree and my hellebore from Parks. And the backordered peat moss seed starter thingies. I called them and told them to cancel the tomato plants. I ordered tomatoes in January by mail order hoping to get a jump on the nursery, and now the website says they will be shipped May 1. A lot of good that does. It will be blazing summer here by then.

I don't know if the hellebore is going to live, but if it succeeds I will get some more for wintertime flowers. The bay leaf tree I'm going to clip into a cone shaped topiary. Inshalla.

[Comments] (1) Flavors: I went to buy some smoked almonds, and do you know, they have a whole bunch of flavors out there. Soy and wasabi, jalapeno, all kinds of tasty coatings. Trouble is, I'm not willing to shell out $3.69 to try something new.

[Comments] (4) Harebrain: Yesterday afternoon I wasn't feeling so well. I finally dragged myself through grading my papers and crawled into bed, very early. It's a problem though--it seems as I'm vomiting out the contents of my stomach my brain also empties out. I'd been curled up in my jammies (Clark for President T-shirt, old baggy leggings) for about half an hour, cuddled with a warm Xochitl, when I realized that it was the Pinewood Derby and I needed to be at the church taking pictures. I could have kicked myself, but I didn't go. Now I don't know what I will do for Pinewood Derby pictures. That was pretty dumb. I even had it written in my planner, and probably they would have had refreshments afterward. NEVER miss the refreshments!

Floral Heaven: Gretel and I went to White Forest Nursery to get a couple more blueberry bushes, and I succumbed to more six packs of flowers. They are all so pretty this time of year! My front yard is a sight to behold right now. I got several kinds of carnations and pinks, and a phlox that is pink and white striped.

I worked very hard in the garden and fed all the vegetables and the blueberries with fish emulsion. Radishes are ready to pick so Rachel and I had them on our salad today. A red one, a white one, and a purple one. The blueberries I bought today have green berries all over them. The ones in the ground are still just blooming. This year we are going to have a spread out blueberry season.

For dinner, I made one of the chicken scaloppine recipes from the March Sunset--the orange-olive-pine nut one, and it was really good. I think I'm finding that the secret to cooking chicken breast is to cook it on medium heat. It doesn't get tough that way. I'm a heat-blaster kind of cook, so this is a change in paradigm for me.

[Comments] (2) On Top of Spaghetti: Today I made Italian meatballs using a recipe I got from a guy in the Scrabble club. I used fresh oregano and Italian parsley from the garden. They turned out soooooo yummy! I froze a lot of them to have later.

The recipe calls for 1/2 pound ground pork. I've never seen ground pork in a store except for pork sausage, which I'm sure is not what is meant. I solved the dillema by buying boneless pork shoulder strips and grinding them with the attachment to the Kitchen Aid. Not my favorite thing to do. I ended up with 1-1/2 pounds of ground pork (I cut off a lot of fat), so by the time I put three pounds of hamburger to be porportionate, I had quite a large batch. I put rice into some of it to make filling for stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage rolls.

I didn't do any yard work today because it's cold outside and I wasn't up to it. I wish I could go to bed, but I have to do the church newsletter.

[Comments] (2) Monday: Not a lot to report. I have a new home health nurse because Linda apparently quit. I had to do a bit of training to get her to see how I do things. I taught classes, worked in the yard, and am about half finished with paper grading.

Ann Stewart brought over some orphan Swiss chard plants, and while she was here, she did a poem on the refrigerator. It's a kind of sad one. "Sleep lazy friend, eternity never over, sweet are rose bed, and pink sky, and love." Meanwhile, I was looking at the refrigerator. I had an ambition to have NOTHING on the refrigerator but the poetry magnets, and it's positively bristling with recipe clippings and photos and coupons and cartoons and stuff. Someday I'll clean it off.

[Comments] (1) Spring Day: The house next door is sold. The sign only went up on Saturday. I would dearly love to know what it sold for. Today as I was working in the garden the Cutlers cruised by. They are looking for houses in this neighborhood to buy for their daughter. They had a flier from one on Chester Lane for $239,000. I think it's the house that used to have the big Halloween display.

The Cutlers were very complimentary about my garden. I did get a lot done today. Tomorrow I finish weeding the stepping stones and plant that flat of wooly thyme.

This evening I went to the Stake Center to watch our Elders Quorum play basketball. (We won.) I took a lot of pictures so that hopefully one will be good enough to put in the ward newsletter. My poor little digital camera isn't fast enough for basketball. I should have brought my real camera. Gretel was very upset that I was leaving and didn't want to be put out. I wish she would learn that I always come back eventually.

[Comments] (7) Wishing: Okay, here is the wish list for my birthday: new garden clogs, a wooden meat pounding mallet, White Forest or Park's gift certificate, a calculator, help in the garden, flip flops.

Today I finished weeding the stepping stones. The end where I started is growing little weeds again! I didn't get the thyme planted; that will be for tomorrow. I had to spend the time fixing the sprinkler system instead. Tomorrow I am going back to Home Depot because as I was leaving yesterday, I noted that they were selling curry plants. I think that would be a good addition to the herb garden.

[Comments] (2) Lemon Tree, Very Pretty, and the Lemon Flower is Sweet: Bees are sipping at the nectar of the flowers on the lemon tree, and Gretel likes to snap at them. It will be an interesting day when she catches one.

[Comments] (5) Alert!: Anne says don't buy me garden clogs for my birthday because she will get them. We will also meet for my birthday lunch at 11:30 at the Macaroni Grill at the Riverwhatever.

Today the stomach doctor increased the dosage of one of my meds. After my appointment I went on a Target haul, with side trips to check the herb racks at the Rosedale Home Depot and Lowe's. I got a bunch of different flavors of mint and another catnip. Target had columbines on sale, and I couldn't resist. Also at Target I got a new kitchen rug to use for Gretel's placemat; they didn't have any blue ones, so I got a red one. One of these days I will take her old blue rug to the SPCA. (They put old rugs in kennels for the animals to sleep on.) I also got a new electric shaver and a Thermos so that I can bring hot soup on my trip.

I checked out getting new cushions for the patio chairs. They cost $30 each! Ouch!

[Comments] (3) Poor Little Birdie: I worked most of the day in the yard--three hours in the morning and an hour this evening. While I was planting the columbines I found a d-e-a-d-b-i-r-d under one of the redwood trees. I hurried and shoveled him into the compost bin to be taken away to the green waste dump on Monday. He didn't look like he'd been caught by a cat, but I didn't want to leave his corpse anywhere to be found by a cat and brought in as a lovely present. He was a Brewer's blackbird.

The ladies from our former Primary presidency took me to lunch for my birthday. At Country Rose Tea Room, the usual. When I got there, who should be sitting at lunch with his wife and sister-in-law but Chuck Fosdick, who used to teach with me at Chipman Junior High. We had old home week catching each other up about where all the people are now. Chuck is at Compton now and he loves it there. By the way, Marianne, he says you are one of his favorite people.

At Chipman, everyone sat and ate lunch in the faculty dining room in a big happy crowd. (Because administrators usually didn't eat with us.) Except on Wednesdays. On Wednesdays they had a prayer/Bible study elsewhere. They never invited me to it. Or Neil. Or Marianne. Or Art. So every Wednesday we had lunch group with three Mormons and an atheist. It was kind of interesting because even the teacher who was Greek Orthodox went to prayer group with the Christians, but not me. I suppose I could snit about it, but in spite of that, all the teachers there were wonderful people. There's going to be nobody left there after this year. Times change, people move on.

[Comments] (1) Protective Custody: We've been through four catnip plants in the last couple of weeks. The last one I planted, I inverted a laundry basket over it, but Jellybean dragged the laundry basket away and destroyed the plant anyhow.

I looked in the Sunset book, and it said to plant the catnip under a wire basket, and the branches will grow out of the wire while the crown of the plant is protedted. So this time I tried that. I took down one of the wire baskets hanging above the spa; they are not an asset to the aesthetics of the yard anyhow. I anchored the basket over the catnip plant with the long staples meant for landscape fabric.

When I looked this morning, every leaf that could possibly be reached through the wire had been nipped, but the plant itself is surviving. A new record for catnip survival.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a huge patch of catnip in her garden. I wonder how she got it that way with cats around?

[Comments] (2) Soggy: Somebody posted to the Whitney Research Group that all her genealogy has been lost. They live on a lake, which rose beyond its historical limits, and their house flooded, and with it all the genealogy. Four boxes were soaked and turned into papier mache.

I'm feeling really sorry for this lady. Luckily she has the Whitney Research Group to help her, and we have almost everything on our website, but what about all her other lines? So sad.

I am slowly getting all my genealogy onto CD-Rom so if this happens (fat chance here in Bako!) it won't be damaged. Of course, with my luck, it would be the scrapbooks that got soaked.

[Comments] (6) Sheesh.: I paid bills tonight, and spent over a thousand bucks on medical bills. More than my whole paycheck. Bleah. So don't wonder why I can't afford to get the house painted.

Wanda Lewis's Birthday: Wanda Lewis is someone I went to elementary school with. Today is her birthday. She is five days older than I am. I hope she is having a happy birthday, and I pray she has had a good life.

Today was also the first day for registration for summer term and fall semester. I already have one student! (Nobody I know.)

[Comments] (6) Hitting the Road: I am packing to leave to go to Utah for graduation. I hope I don't forget anything. It will be a quickie trip, but a fun break, and I'll get to see lots of family. I am so proud of John, and Joe, and Aaron, and Louise. They've hung in there and done it! I actually don't feel so wonderful so I hope I'll be able to go to bed earlyish tonigh. Lots of papers to grade though. See everyone tomorrow!

[Comments] (1) Jet Lag or Car Lag?: I've been just exhausted since coming home from Utah. It was a wonderful trip, with a chance to be very, very proud of John and a marvelous birthday lunch at Macaroni Grill with beaucoup family members. It's always great to see family.

This is a hard time of the semester to be gone. We are busy busy busy. We start departmental writing proficiency exams for the remedial students tomorrow, and the English department's is May 7. Everyone is turning in their late work, so I have lots of papers to grade, and we have a huge number of placement essays to read. That is for Friday. I would dearly love to have Friday off after the harry-hurry of last weekend, but it is not to be.

I need to make a pasta salad to take to a potluck tomorrow.

Wowsers!: Every Lego piece in , literally, the WORLD is on bricklink.com. All conveniently arranged by country. Andean Bricks from Bolivia, anyone?

Is it Blue? Is it Green?: Yesterday I made chicken breast in a lemon/garlic/black pepper sauce. It was absolutely delicious, and cooking it made the whole house smell heavenly. However, it looked less than appetizing. The little chunks of garlic turned jade green! They looked poisonous, but I'm sure they weren't, as I dimly remember a lab when I took food science in college where we turned some things jade green. (I think it was red cabbage.) But yuck. I was certainly grateful I wasn't cooking it for company, and I noticed Rachel didn't eat much.

I went into the foodies' chat room in the Scrabble club, and someone knew it was a reaction to the acid. But it didn't do it the first time I made it! I sort of feel cheated, unreasonably, I know.

Today, I couldn't even face the leftovers, so Gretel had them. She didn't seem to care about the moldy look in the rice.

I was going to resume work in the garden today, but it's cold and windy and might rain and I was exhausted from helping with the potluck at work. I took a long nap and read a trashy novel. Papers were all graded at work.

Today we began writing proficiency testing and of course one of the students didn't show up. He's getting an F anyhow. Often there are good reasons why students are remedial, and it often has absolutely nothing to do with their intelligence. It's about the choices they make. This kid has chosen to deal drugs and to fail his English class. OK, so he makes more money than his teacher, so what?

Grrrr.: I got another nastygram from the Franchise Tax Board. Last nastygram they sent me, I mailed them a polite letter pointing out that I had already paid them, enclosing a copy of my cancelled check, and noting that they had not credited my account.

Now I not only got another threatening letter from them, but when I checked my account, they had credited my payment TWICE. What a mess.

[Comments] (2) Mr. Dudley: I received Mr. Dudley for Christmas, from John and Susie, I think. He came full of peppercorns and (I thought) salt. He grindes pepper exceedingly well, leaving some bits less "ground" and more "cracked", which adds zip to the cuisine. Rachel and I, however, could never get salt to come of of Mr. Dudley's head.

Upon closer investigation, I discovered that Mr. Dudley's head is indeed not filled with salt. There was a white paper wrapped around the stem of the mechanism inside which made it look like salt, but did not deliver any saline morsels.

I filled Mr. Dudley's head with salt, but in the meantime we have become hooked on sea salt, so we have a separate grinder for that.

Aside: When Leonard and I drove back from Utah, we ate breakfast at a restaurant in Beaver that was selling a brand of sea salt that looked like it had dirt in it. (The label called it "minerals." ) I didn't buy a shaker of the stuff at the time, only to regret it later. So on the way home this trip, Ruth Davis and I pulled off in Beaver to buy dirt salt. The restaurant in question is gone, and it's Chinese now. I seriously regret this, as it was a very good restaurant, and who knows if one can trust the Chinese food served in Beaver, Utah.

I used Mr. Dudley today to grind a whole bunch of black pepper for salad dressing. I made a whole quart, with pepper, garlic, white wine vinegar, oregano, olive oil, and emulsified with bleu cheese. Later on the quart jar jiggled and jumped out of the refrigerator and smashed onto the floor. What a mess. I was bummed because bleu cheese is pretty expensive.

Things do a lot of bailing out of our refrigerator because the top shelf is full of TPN, which makes items put on top teetery.

[Comments] (1) A Rose is Arroz is Arrows: I've been meaning to write about roses. Last year for my birthday, Hillary gave me a little bitty white miniature rose--the kind you buy at the grocery store in a four-inch pot. I planted it out in the front yard, and it has just taken off. Now, a year later, it's about 24 inches high and has blooms all over.

The Mr. Lincoln hybrid tea rose in the back yard is also doing very well, and so fragrant! At one point it was higher than the house, which is being very much of an overachiever for a hybrid tea rose. I had Juan prune it back down, and it's rewarding us with even more flowers.

On a sad note, I was working very hard in the yard, hot and sweaty, and a LaRosa guy came by, so I ran in to get my dollar. Imagine my chagrin to find he was not a real LaRosa guy. He sold me a paleta that was labled "Tropical Fruit Flavored Bar." Not a bit of real fruit in sight. Bah. I can do better at the grocery store with Dole. So the next time he pranced down the streeet, suggestively ringing his bell, I made sure it was him and not a real LaRosa guy, and then I ignored him.

This puts a kink in my whole summer.

Jabberwocky for 2005 April

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