Saturday, May 21, 2011

Late but is IN

Early morning sun (yes, sun!) lights up recently planted peppers and tomatoes on the right, and perks up onions and potatoes. Garlic in the forefront, planted in October, will be ready to harvest in June. We've started filling up the trenches with straw, grass clippings, manure, and compost for next year's crops. This is late May Spring has been cold and wet and we're late planting, as are most area gardeners. By "area" I mean the Pacific Northwest. Compared with more northerly locales, we've had it easy. However, temps have been cool and the ground is still wet and we've yet to see beans sprout. Heat-loving zukes and cukes are also reluctant to come out.

We fill in the trenches to keep down weeds and preserve moisture,  then the next season, dig the trenchs and pile the composted material atop the rows. Yes, it's a lot of work.
PK planting one of about 20 pepper plants. In the buckets are organic fertilizer and mycorrhizae, the magic soil enhancement.
The difference between compost and "regular" garden dirt.
In the meantime, fall and winter crops are going nuts. What to do with all that chard and kale? I traded a bunch for rabbit manure, reportedly the best of the manures, gave some to a friend undergoing chemotherapy who is juicing organic veggies and fruits, and we're eating copious amounts in salads and stir fries. A half dozen chard/kale meals are the freezer and form the beginning of the 2011/2012 food stash.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sharing space with bluebirds

This photo is blurry, but it was hard won. I have a point-and-shoot camera and bluebirds are skittish. But despite its reluctance to be photographed,  I have come to love this bluebird and it's kin throughout the years. We have a bluebird house in our garden, and every spring a bluebird couple appears and, soon after,  their progeny. As I write, baby bluebirds may be chirruping/begging in the bluebird house. They make such a marvelous racket when I pass, and the bluebird parents fidget all the while on fence posts and tomato cages, worm or insect in beak, awaiting the right moment to deliver. When they do, the little birdhouse goes berserk. CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!! and on and on. Then I continue to cut chard, kale, and asparagus for my family, and plant seeds, and the bluebird parents continue to pluck worms and bugs for theirs, and plant memories of where this nest lies. It is good to share space with birds.

Back to the real world - finch society

Here's what happens when you garden. Birds come. So do butterflies and slugs, good things, bad things. But birds! We've added more bird feeders this spring, and a society of winged ones has alighted. An aviary has developed, and heading into the garden to harvest or plant becomes, well, a distraction. On a greens harvesting mission today, I skirted an island of finches perched on a tomato cage and had to run back to fetch my camera. It seems that feminism is at work with our finches.
Here the female is in a subservient position,

She's moved up in the world, but several males have left. 

Here three more males have joined the group, and it appears the female is giving a lecture!
You go, girl!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stay away from New Orleans if.....

........ you're concerned that you will:
  • Wreck your eardrums. NOLA means great music. Jazz, ragtime, rock, blues, folks, rap, gospel, Cajun, zydeco. It's everywhere—but it can be ear-splitting. Bring ear protection.
This is the famed Trombone Shorty, second from left,  at the legendary downtown Tipitina's.  He's  great, but to escape eardrum rupture,  I embraced my status as an elder and claimed territory in the sound booth, which was heavenly. Voices and trombones of angels! And one Shorty.

Shrimp salad at Mother's in New Orleans. $11! With the BEST homemade blue cheese dressing ever.

    PK and I devouring hot beignets, steaming chunks of deep-fried dough dredged in powdered sugar. If you recall that I recently denounced sugar in any form, forget I  said it. This was vacation! 
  • Trash your shoes and your feet. You gotta walk a lot for maximum enjoyment, especially at the Jazz and Heritage Festival at the dusty roiling historic fairgrounds. It gets messy. 
  • Not pretty feet after a day at the Jazz Fest. .Especially the foot on the right with a bone spur that has nothing to do with being tired and dirty.

    • Be shot, mugged, or molested. During a late-night walk to our hotel, we strayed unknowingly into nearby"Projects." The street was deserted until a car drove by slowly, then backed up. A young white couple urgently advised us to, Run! Don't Walk! This is a kill zone! And they meant it. NOLA still seethes with violent crime. But we never saw it, and even with warnings, I couldn't get worked up. I am admittedly naive and optimistic and stupid and lucky enough to have never been a crime victim. I  think if you put out confidence and friendliness and the "I love NOLA vibe," you'll be OK. As far as I know, tourists are not usually targets but can be collateral damage.   
    The Projects as seen from our hotel room. 
  • Strain your credit card. NOLA ain't cheap. However, to save $$, you could stay up all night and nap on benches during the day. Instead, we choose a hotel near the Projects. I could include a photo of our Visa bill, but it's too depressing. 
  • Be overstimulated. Constant music, art, museums, quirky shops, brilliant and not-so-brilliant street performances, tantalizing aromas, invitations to cheap and strong drink—all are ever present. Why resist?
Here we are at the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the Treme neighborhood, enjoying a private tour by the museum founder's son, who is also a Mardi Gras Indian and creator of costumes, which take a whole year to make and can be worn only five times. It was a delightful surprise. This tiny museum was founded and is curated by people deeply involved in the Mardi Gas tribal culture that includes Social Aide and Pleasure Clubs and other culturally rich aspects at the heart of New Orleans. It's pure and authentic and a treasure not to be missed. 
  • Capsize your ship of time. If you stay long enough, you'll be carried onto the ocean of music til 3 a.m. in no time. PK and I ended up in a hard-driving show featuring drummer Stanton Moore and singer/songwriter/guitarist Anders Osborne that began after 1 a.m.. We were the oldest people in the room by a couple decades. We have many tales from that night, but the most noteworthy: A lush thirtyish woman sidled up to PK and inquired about our relationship. PK said we've been married for 35 years. She wanted to make sure he was still using condoms. 
  • Have too much fun. When's the last time you monitored your fun meter and declared it close to maxing out? Is there such a thing as too much?
  • Cause your ordinary life at home to seem, well, far too ordinary. Visiting NOLA is a menace to routine and contentment.  I'm  not quite over it. I suffered a stinging re entry into the humdrum. My most important advice about NOLA is to go there. The City can fire up the synapses and bump you a little off course, at least temporarily, which is always good. And NOLA needs you as it continues to rebound with exuberance from Katrina and the BP oil spill. More NOLA photos here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The New Orleans experience—in photos!

Feasting on crawfish at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Steve Lambros, photo.

our blog and NOLA photos had quite an effect on us, although not the one

you'd probably expect. We discussed it and decided we must each take a
camera with us so that not a single purely NOLA moment goes undocumented!

                  Long-time friends Laurie and Steve, AKA as "Seamheads."

Theirs was one of several comments regarding a recent post entitled Too Many Photos! written before PK and I joined Seamheads for a week of festing, feasting, and testing our endurance in New Orleans. While one reader kinda agreed with me about the absurdity of taking too many photos, most of which are worthless, everybody else staunchly defended picture snapping for reasons that included: preserving memories; sharing moments with friends and family; artistic expression, and on and on. Ok, ok. I agree. But still, I ended up with way too many photos once again and became mired in editing and sorting. I'll include some photos and observations in my next post about New Orleans. Seamheads, true to their word, each carried a camera in NOLA and snapped happily throughout the city, day and night. 

See the results of their quest to capture "only in New Orleans"  by clicking the link.
My photos compare unfavorably, and I'm not finished deleting the worst, so I'll leave them 'til next time.