Monday, June 30, 2008

Holy Tomatoes, Batman

The Scientist has many eccentricities. One of them, like many men, I believe, is his obsession with The Yard. Our yard. He can mow it for hours and then go back and do it again and see the second run as just as necessary and productive as the first. Sprinkler placement is a matter of huge importance and can require diagrams and schedules. Having 20 people over in 8 hours? Well, no matter that no square inch of the children's room floor can be seen and we have an unfinished tile project in the playroom. THE YARD MUST BE DONE! And it will take 8 hours. At a minimum. No matter that it was done 2 days before.

I actually have a healthy respect for this. He sees The Yard as his sphere of influence. And there is a great deal to be said for recognizing your job and doing it well (obsessively). It helps (or not) that all the men in our neighborhood seem to feel this way. So, perhaps it is universal. But, they gather outside in the afternoons, comparing what so and so is trying in his yard to what they've got going in theirs. Admiring or criticizing color, thickness, texture, patching, and so on and so on and so on.

So, periodically, I test his dedication to his yard by suggesting that we tear up a bit of it and put a vegetable garden in. I love to vegetable garden. I wish I could get into flower gardening, but our front yard is a testament to the fact that I cannot. I need some gratification and gratification so typically comes from putting something in one's mouth, no? When The Scientist and I met, I was in the process of putting in a veggie garden behind my little apartment. I asked my landlord if he could not landscape the strip behind my unit so I could garden in it. What did he care? He was just glad I wasn't a crack addict. So, I grew corn and eggplant and cabbage and tomatoes and peppers. The Scientist thought this mildly amusing and probably married me because he was a vegan at the time and figured that I was a sure way to prevent starvation in a world that doesn't cater to eating preferences that are quite as strange as his were.

Several years ago, and after an unfortunate incident where everything I'd always said was proven to be correct and it was determined that he was wildly B12 deficient, he gave up the vegan lifestyle. He now eats like a regular ol' normal vegetarian, which is so very, very much easier for me. He even eats seafood (which is so non-vegetarian, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth).

So, he does indeed know how much I love my little plots of productive earth. I think he has just loved his Yard more than to humor another one of my little frivolities. But, as we all know, a healthy and extended grovel will work wonders. You see, we have a patch of yard in the back that is a constant frustration for him. It will not grow. The problem doesn't seem to be the sun. It seems to be the grass or the soil or something. But, no matter how much watering occurs it stays spotty and patchy and just not so lush and healthy looking. The kids don't play in it. We don't walk on it. The only purpose of this section of this yard in our lives is to drive The Scientist crazy. Perfect place to rip up and add good soil to so we can make it into a productive space, right? So, I begin a campaign on Saturday to get My Garden. I petitioned. I begged. I cajoled. I pleaded. I reasoned.

I was succesful.

He even bestowes upon me a trip to the garden center to pick up some plants. I purchase about 15 plants to add to the about 5 I already have. I realize that I will not be able to fit all these plants in the space I have envisioned, but I am so excited I cannot help myself. I buy some big pots to put the leftover plants in. The Garden-Resistant-Scientist's comment when I return? "You didn't get cucumbers? But, I love cucumbers!" A corner has been turned.

So, Sunday morning, groundbreaking begins. A tiller is required. And lots and lots and lots of topsoil bags. I cannot figure out why in the world about 20 bags of topsoil are needed and am sure they are not. I have a few very large bags of veggie and fruit soil in the garage and am sure they will be sufficient for my small plot. But, since The Scientist now has A Project, I would be a fool to intervene.

Several hours later, I check on the project. I walk into the backyard carrying my 3 tomato plants, 2 pepper plants and 3 zuccinin sprouts, eager to begin figuring out which 10 plants I will put in.

I find The Scientist beginning to place a barrier around the largest garden area I have ever seen in a residential backyard.

Corn? Oh, I can grow some corn. Three tomato plants? I need about 10. Sustain life in our neighborhood for a year? Oh, I'm your girl.

The Scientist looks at my face and I think realizes that I am going into shock. No damn wonder he was so resistant to the idea of a vegetable garden. He was envisioning this space that is big enough to accomodate crop circles. I was envisioning a space big enough to accomodate a few tomato plants and maybe a pepper or two if I was lucky. Sweet Jesus, have I got some work to do.

By 8 last night, my garden was open for business. Taking a page from The Scientist's book, I have an elaborate diagram of where my bajillion plants are going to go and a schedule of when my fall seeds should go in. I even got up first thing this morning and put in the tomato plants. I have 7 of them. I put the eggplant at the back near the fence because really, no one likes eggplant that much anyway, do they? So, if it turns out to be too shady back there, no one is going to be heartbroken. The cucumbers will go in today in a prime, sunny spot. So will the beans(two types) , squash, zucchini, okra (the Clemson variety, of course), and peppers (three colors of bell).

In a true shout out to The Scientist, he is almost as excited about this garden as I am. He says that he likes how "uniform" it looks and says that he actually thinks it looked better than the patchy grass. Just wait till I get my 6 zuccini plants growing a mile-a-minute in there and we'll see how neat and tidy it looks. But, for now, he is thrilled that I made another trip to the garden center for more plants (duh) and got several cucumber plants. But, he's mostly happy because...well, not to be too sappy, but that I'm happy.

That man never does anything half-way.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sort of Like HAL

Hmmm. It appears that a partially written post of mine was posted yesterday. My computer ran out of juice on it's own before I finished it and died. Next thing I know (and after I got it plugged back in), I'm getting comments on my unposted post! For anyone having the misfortune to read my disjointed beginnings of a post on the strange eating habits in our house, rest assured that it will (may) be completed and posted in its entirety sometime in the near future! Weird.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some of my favorite things

The Scientist is quite concerned about my last post. Not that he reads this blog, but I did tell him I posted about our latest family activity. His concern is that since these people have made a career out of kickin' ass and we live within walking distance and his wife has now made fun of said ass kickers in a "public" forum, he could be in trouble. I laughed. They'd have to hear about it from someone else and I don't know anyone here who would rat me out. I can't say for sure, but they didn't strike me as big blog readers. Or readers at all, if truth be known.

Speaking of reading, I have been reading up a storm this summer. It's about time, too. It turns out there are some perks to having to spend the whole summer waiting for children to finish various activities and classes. Here are my two favorites so far:

THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE- this one is in all caps since it is so, so, so darned good. I resisted reading it for awhile since it sounded science fictioney. I'd tell you the general plot, but then you, too, would see it as science fictioney and wouldn't read it. You'll just have to trust me. It's good.

The Bean Trees- Barbara Kingsolver- Not as good as The Poisonwood Bible, but darn good.

The California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook- Soups, Salads and Sides. This is #3 even though I was only naming my two favorite books I've read. It can't really be in the lineup since it's a cookbook, but if you like CPK fare, you need to check this out. Don't buy it for heaven's sake. Just check it out from the library, make the Oriental Salad, and swear you'll never buy another salad dressing. I'm making Thai Chicken rolls tonight. I'll let you know.

Now, go read. Go cook.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Does anyone remember that movie? It is actually one of my all-time favorites and it has only gotten funnier the older I've gotten (read- the more kids I've had). As events happen in my everyday life, I imagine them being a perfect scene for that movie. Take, for example, our family outing on Monday.

**First of all, my apologies to anyone who is about to be offended. Someone reading this blog will be, I can almost guarantee it. Not that I have anyone in particular picked out, but I'm about to discuss "permanent badges" (these are tatoos, but Two Fish has called them permanent badges for several months now and I think it fits), martial arts and pass judgement on a variety of other life choices. If you are starting to feel a little sensitive, stop reading now.

This whole shebang actually started months ago. Two Fish takes Kung Fu at a popular "studio" in town. "Studio" is used loosely since it is in an old pizza place and always looks as though it is in some phase of construction. The owner and his wife don't seem to be the best time managers and evidently have a few business management skills yet to learn, but we have found that they do indeed know their kung fu and how to teach it to children. Every class is very serene and positive and extremely non- agressive. Lots of discipline. Sure, there is punching involved ("Everybody was kung-fu FiGHTING!") but only at pads and mats. There is sometimes a drill on self-defense which involves how to get out of a hold or something like that, but never any aggression toward another person. Nevertheless, I have been annoyed at times because of the late start times and casual attitude toward the business. But, dang can they teach some little kids and have them come out as better little people for it. Did I mention that it is twice as expensive as any other 1 hr./week kid activities in town? Did I mention that?

So, now they announce on Sunday that there will be no classes this week as they are moving about 15 miles north of here. Count on a 25 min. drive. Minimum. For a class that begins at the exact same time as One Fish's class ends on Tuesday/Thursdays. 5:30. Not a convenient time to have The Scientist helping to run carpool. What to do, what to do?

We decide to try the two other options available in our area. We live in East Jesus Nowhere and options are limited. But, good news! Turns out that there is a new martial arts studio within walking distance of our house. So, our family activity on Monday night was to check it out. Here are some of my observations:

1) If you and your spouse are the only ones in the crowd of approx. 25 adults with no visible tatoos, it is a bad sign. Now I've got nothing against a well-placed permanent badge. But seriously? Every person in there?

2) If a four year old is called a loser by the owner during his first class, it is a bad sign. (no, the four year old "loser" was not Two Fish. If it had been, I would have instantly become a martial arts master of some sort and kicked some big-time ass on the spot).

3) If three year old children are paired up to practice hand-to-hand combat/wrestling it is a bad sign.

4) If your child is paired up for the activity in #3 with the child of the man standing next to you it is a bad sign because "Lynda" is "permanent badged" on his neck but he is calling his partner Crystal (Kristal? Krystal?).

5) If the adults assisting in the class gather around the ring to watch this little mano-a-mano exercise and then cheer and scream with the enthusiasm of Michael Vick at a dog fight, it is not a good sign.

6) If one of the children in the class is the son of a babysitter we once had to fire immediately because she showed up at our house in only a full slip (like, she was in lingerie) and had a baby alligator buckled into the backseat right beside her baby in his carseat, it is a bad sign. East Jesus Nowhere, I tell you.

7) If the uniforms of the students in the class have pitbulls with bared teeth emblazoned on the back of them, it is a bad sign.

8) If the instructor never uttered a single sentence the whole hour that would have been considered diagrammable by my high school English teacher, it is a bad sign.

9) If there was a lawn chair in the corner because the owner's wife (partner?) has just come in from bikini sunbathing in the parkinglot, it could be a bad sign.

10) If there is a trophy announcing that the owner was the "Fighter of the Night" in the "Ultimate BEAT DOWN III" it is most definitely a bad sign.