Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Squash Wars

I had a sudden thought today: are my yellow squash, white squash, and cucumbers going to have the same problem my zucchini will? Or is their pollination a little different and not so...discriminating?

So, I researched and this is what I read about the yellow squash in answer to someone's question about why they don't get any fruit on their plant:

There are several possible reasons why you get all vine and no fruit on your squash: too much fertilizer, not enough sunlight, too much heat or too cool weather, rainy weather at bloom time, no pollinating insect activity, improper pollination or pest problems.Pollination needs to be made to all segments of the female flower. This has to be done by 10 a.m. because pollination carried out later than the end of the morning during warm weather has very little chance of success because the pollen will have heated up and fermented and will no longer be viable. You can help pollinate the squash. You should see the squash enlarge the day or two after pollination & the squash should be ready to pick in 3-4 days... unless the squash bug intefers with the process by sucking the juices out of the developing squash... If the plants are watered from overhead early in the day, that may prevent all further pollination for that day. Everything gets washed off of the short-lived male flowers.

There can be other reasons why blossoms don't set fruit & fall off. Sometimes, even if they were pollinated... the blossoms can abort from the stress of high day and night time temperatures. Extreme temperatures during flowering... below 55 degrees or above 85 degrees... can reduce fruit set. Sometimes there are only female flowers & not any male flowers, so the female flower can't get pollinated. Too much shade or not enough light, plant disease, & even too much nitrogen can also cause poor fruit set.

WHAAAAAT?! Juice sucking squash bugs? Fermenting pollen? Abortions from temperature stress? To say nothing of the fact that these little gems of God's creation apparently also require pollination prior to 10 AM. Nothing later will do. And, for heaven's sake, please watch the overhead watering of the male flowers. They are sensitive.

I'm starting to feel a little vendetta-ish about this entire family of plants. However, I am standing by my promise of waiting until June 1 before I take this personally. They are plants, after all. Not newborns.

But, after June 1, it is ON. Unless you see pictures posted here of me enjoying fresh squash casserole. In that case, you can assume that a truce has been declared.

No Playdates Are Currently Being Arranged

I'm just going to throw this out there on the off chance that you agree with me-

If you want your children to exude confidence and command respect and appreciation from their teachers and classmates, then you should NOT send them to school dressed in a T-shirt that says:

I Pass More Gas Than Tests

Friday, April 24, 2009

And He May or May Not Know All the Words to "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"

Two Fish just told me that he knew what "head bagging" was. According to him, it is when rock stars "do their head back and forth like they are putting it in a bag and taking it out again. But REAL fast."

That sort of knowledge only comes from caving and letting Guitar Hero into the house. Against one's better judgement. And under lots of duress. That's all I'm saying...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hot and Dirty Zucchini Love

Well, if that post title doesn't catch your eye, I don't know what will.

This year's garden is planted. I learned a tremendous amount last year, during my maiden gardening voyage that can sort of be boiled down to this: I didn't know dirt about gardening. I thought I did. But, it turns out, I planted the plants too late, didn't orient my rows the right way and didn't fertilize often enough. I also didn't test my soil first and didn't plant enough beans (apparently the nitrogen they give off makes some other plants loooove them).

I mean, really? People planted things for thousands of years before Miracle Grow was even invented and they managed to eat just fine. So, why is this so difficult?

Don't get me wrong. We were swimming in okra and tomatoes last summer. This past winter we ate kale and collards for months. But, for the space I have, I really had higher expectations.
For instance, I remember my grandfather joking during the summer that if we got bored, we could go out and watch the zucchini grow. That's just how fast that stuff is supposed to go. You can actually watch it. So, why did my little garden and I fail to produce a single, solitary squash or zuccinini last summer?!

I have gone to the experts. First, the guy down the street who is a retired farmer and has a completely ADD inducing garden set up in paint buckets all over his yard. It is hidden from the street, thank God. Impressive "garden," but not something you'd want the next potential new neighbors to see before their real estate closing. He is an expert, though, and had some insight. I planted too late and it was too hot for pollination by the time my plants were big enough. Seems a little unfair since I expected some perks to living in one of the most hot and humid places on God's green creation. You should at least be able to grow some food even if it feels like you're living in a sauna. Notsomuch, apparently. At least not after July.

So, this year, I planted earlier. Much earlier. I'm nothing if not teachable. However, because I am a nerd and slightly obsessive about the garden, I felt the need to protect myself further against the disappointment that comes from being the only person I've ever heard of who couldn't grow a dang zucchini. I went to the internet.

What I discovered has disturbed me. It turns out that it is very, very possible that I will have to learn zucchini in-vitro fertilization in order to be successful. That's right, my friends. Zucchini sex. Due to the lack of bees in my garden (and elsewhere, it seems), I might actually have to sentence myself to eternal dork-dome and get out there and help my zucchini get it on.

There are lots of websites that explain how this is done, if you have a need-to-know. Basically, you get your basic paintset paintbrush (think of it as the turkey baster), find a good, open "male" flower, swipe-swipe with your brush, find a compatible looking female flower with a baby squash on the end of it (the websites didn't say "compatible," but I'm guessing if you're going to force procreation here it would pay off to be discriminating), wait until it is open and "ready" and then swipe the precious pollen onto it's little female parts.

You. Must. Be. Kidding.

The websites say that if no pollination takes place, a fruit will develop, but with no seeds inside it, the plant will let the fruit rot before it reaches maturity. Who knew?

I can only assume with the plethora of information out there on this topic, that there must be gardeners the world over heading out to their little plots right now, paintbrushes in hand, labeled flower diagrams in their back pockets. I'm giving my plants until June 1 to figure it out and/or for some bees to show up around here to get the job done the normal way. After that, I'm taking matters (and pollen) into my own hands (and onto my own paintbrush).

If some dirty knees and a few soiled paintbrushes are what it takes to get my gardening pride back, well then, it's a small price to pay.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Thank God for Oprah. She is getting me all straightened out. Twenty Six min. into the show and I'm thinking that Twitter is a mix between FB status updates and blogging. With a character limit. For those of us who are brevity challenged, of course.

Drinking the Kool Aid

It's been a real kool aide drinking week around here. I finally decided to read Twilight. Purchased it for my own Easter basket, actually, which is it's own blog worthy story. Nothing says resurrection like vampire love, you know. I'm through book number two and my recommendation for all those who haven't read them yet is to go ahead and do it, but don't read a page before pg. 300 in either of the first two books. Just skip on over. You won't miss anything except some spectacularly poor writing and you'll save yourself pages of irritation. Start at pg. 301, or even 290, if you're feeling brave. You'll pick right up with the story line. The plot is great, but it could be easily summed up in about 100 pages instead of the 600 she devotes to each book. It's like a soap opera. You can really just jump in anywhere and feel pretty caught up within the first several minutes (or paragraphs, as it were).

Next, my mother of all people has shamed me into signing on to Twitter. Someone is going to have to help me out here. I don't get it.

I also didn't "get" FB at first, which is a sure sign that I'm getting old. Just like my grandmother who cannot be convinced that cell phones actually work. I fought FB like the plague, but finally drank that kool aid too and am not addicted. But, Twitter? I signed on and saw a looooooong list of random sentences from people picked from my yahoo list. Why is this different from FB status updates?

Is it just so we can do something else with our phones? I don't text (which makes me old, I know). I don't even have a camera on my phone and I certainly don't have any internet capabilities. When I get a new cell phone, I actually request the largest phone they have (they don't get lost in pocketbooks) and always ask hopefully if the "Bag Phone" has made a comeback yet. I would love an iphone (mostly because I hear tell that they can find you a Starbucks just about anywhere), but it seems a little hypocritical to ask The Scientist to cut down on his hot water use in the mornings so I can afford a better cell phone plan, don't you think? I also lose my cell phone several times a year, which makes me another candidate for a "budget" phone. I just need it to connect me. Not sing to me, take pictures of me or conduct a corporate merger for me. I am not so popular at the phone store, as you might imagine. The phones I buy aren't even on display. Needless to say, they are not set up to "Twitter" anything.

So, someone tell me why I need Twitter. I am easily influenced.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

There's Some(thing?)one For Everyone

I realize this is an unconventional Easter post. But, really? Could one wait even one more day to air this to the blogging public? I think not.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Super Saturday

Got up this morning, picked a bunch of basil from the garden and made fresh pesto with it (if you beg, I'll give you my Sicilian aunt's recipe). If you like pasta for breakfast, this is the house to live in.

Then I boiled way more eggs than any family need dye for one Easter Sunday. But, I found camoflage egg dye for Two Fish, in addition to the regular dye. So we needed some extra eggs. We'll just be eating egg salad for awhile.

I've decided to take the children to see Monsters Vs. Aliens today. By myself. Because I've lost my mind.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dressers, Bookshelves and Big, Fat Armoires

Dang. I was really hoping that the requirement that something be drastically changed every time The Scientist returns home was going to be satisfied by the puppies being neutered. This is evidently not so. Starting yesterday, I have been overcome with the mad desire to rearrange everything in our home. This leads me to one of two conclusions. Either The Scientist is on his way home, or I am pregnant and a few weeks from delivery. My current figure aside, the second option is not possible. It must be the former.

Dressers have been emptied and moved to the living room. The treadmill has been moved from the garage to the bedroom and back to the garage (don't know what I was thinking on that one). An old-ish armoire that has been living in our garage for the past 5 years has been emptied and ritualistically cleaned with enough cleaning products to give one a spontaneous case of something ending in "-oma." It has been moved to our bedroom. Yes, I did it by myself. I moved it to the garage five years ago by myself too. When I was 8.5 months pregnant. I figured if I could do that, I could definitely get it back in again not pregnant.

Our lone bookshelf has moved rooms (bone of contention between The Scientist and myself- he hates them and thinks they look cluttered. I think bookshelves lined with books are signs of interesting people. I'm right.). It is going to be getting a friend here soon. We have those books double and triple stacked in there and just looking at it is making me jittery.

Random things are now serving as bedside tables and may not stay there. Our garage has a new, sensible (read, CHEAP) storage piece which has not been filled and it's soon-to-be contents are all over the place. You don't even want to know the state of our clothing, what with all the dresser shifting going on around here.

I have about 36 hours to put it all back together. Start the timer...NOW.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Plan B for Madonna

Poor Madonna is having a rough week. Turns out the Malawian (is that a word?) judges don't put quite the stock in celebrities we do and has denied her request to adopt a(nother) child. While I do think this is a crying shame as this child has the opportunity to grow up in privilege instead of poverty, I don't know that there's much any of us can do about it. So, I've come up with a plan B for her.

I think she should strongly consider adopting any or all of The Real Housewives of NYC. In my constant quest to keep abreast of all trashy reality TV, I tried this one on for size a few nights ago and decided that it didn't at all meet the criteria I look for in trash TV. For one, I don't like my reality personalities to be hopeless or devoid of human decency. If Madonna is just looking to adopt someone to whom she could give a better life, these gals are just her ticket. They don't so much need the life of privilege as much as they need some good old fashioned tough love, but that's a part of the parenting game, right? In fact, I'm suggesting them to anyone looking for a mission project. Forget the starving orphans in Malawi. I've never met anyone who needs savin' more than Kelly and Jill. And, the good news is that, should they be picked for anyone's next mission project (or Madonna's next charitable and/or maternal venture), unlike most children, they don't eat. At all. So, they're really, really cheap to keep around.

It's just something to think about.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool!

The Mommy Show is not without its lighter moments.
This was the children's dinner tonight (totally stolen from Family Fun Magazine).
The "homemade chicken tenders" were actually sugar wafers coated in peanut butter and rolled in crushed cereal.
The "cupcakes" were actually meatloaf (a Paula Dean recipe I would highly recommend) with tinted mashed potatoes piped on top. You can think of me as sort of an evil Martha.

You can see One Fish's face when she tasted her "chicken, " but the meatloaf cupcake was the best. She looked down at her plate and was quiet while she chewed. Then politely excused herself for a drink of water. I started to laugh and couldn't stop. She finally looked up and said quietly, "Mom. This tastes like crap." I think it was the first time I've ever heard her use that word! It was hilarious and I couldn't stop laughing!!!

I tried to pass the jelly off as ketchup but Two Fish asked me why there was jelly on his plate. I told him it was a "new organic ketchup." That satisfied him and he didn't ask again, even after he was eating his "chicken" dipped in the new "ketchup." He was highly complimentary of how I'd fixed the "chicken" and said that it tasted like granola bar chicken. If it hadn't actually had a big ol' sugar wafer inside it I would have been making a mental note to make it again.
When I came clean (which was much quicker than planned since I couldn't stop laughing after One Fish made her "crap" pronouncement), they were suitably shocked and impressed. After spending about five lamenting how horrid meatloaf is, Two Fish allowed that this particular dish was actually pretty decent- given that it was not, after all, a fluffy, pink frosting covered baked good.
One Fish never did come around on the meatloaf and continued to mourn her lost cupcake through the rest of the meal. But, even she had to admit that she had not been aware what deceptive skill I had to fool them all day into believing they were having cupcakes for dinner. "How do you lie so well?!" she wanted to know. Oh, someday, little bear...someday...you, too, will learn...
If laughing at your children's expense doesn't say "family fun" I don't know what does.