Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Late Bloomers - Deck Garden Update

It was a wet summer, and as we enter the next season, it's still very rainy.  My potted plants did not do as well as they have in previous years.  Even at the Farmer's Market, where, in early to mid-July we usually get corn-on-the-cob, this year the vendors said, "Nothing yet.  Check back in August."

Like other years, I planted fennel, mustard and garlic.


The mint and borage usually hold their own:

I had two tomato plants that didn't do very well.  So far I've had maybe three tomatoes from the Celebrity plant and a bunch of yellow cherries from the other. 

I planted okra again, and it grew like a weed.  I like the blooms.  I picked three pods and roasted them for dinner, but that was a disaster.  They were too large and too tough to be edible.  I guess I need to pick them sooner!

My September basil is looking good.  This one is a reboot.  I planted the first pot in June and it grew well enough that I made a batch of pesto.  Then I decided it needed a bigger pot so I moved it, and it fizzled. Around the early part of August I started over from seed, and now, a month later, it's doing very well.


Sweet peppers are slowly coming along:


 I also found some catnip along the road.  I presented it to the friendly neighborhood cats, two small fire-point white females, and they weren't all that interested.  I took it home and Skitters, my Maine Coon tabby mix, almost tore it out of my hand! 

I give him a treat every so often, and so far he hasn't found the mother load.  (Fingers crossed.)

Early August

I usually leave one pot of dirt empty to see what happens, and I'm often surprised by what comes up that I never planted.  One year I got red petunias, another year, nasty nightshade.  This year I got these purple flowers that could be related to chives.  I saw a patch of them growing about a block away near the bus stop. 


One of the best features of my deck garden this year are the flowers.  Back in May, I went to my nephew's wedding (May the 4th - a Star Wars themed wedding).  One of the gifts that the couple gave to each guest was a bee bomb - a clay ball rolled with flower seeds that attract bees and butterflies.  The bee bombs are created by Plantables, a company in Hudson, WI that employs special needs personnel.  (They also make bookmarks and seed cards.)  I ended up with three of these bombs and put them in pots of dirt on my deck.  It didn't take very long before they "exploded" with sunflowers, yellow cone flowers and some very attractive daisies.  I took new pictures often because they changed almost every day. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Skinned Knees

Skinned knees.  Wouldn't this be a great title for a new dance piece?  Or how about a poetic expression for an adventurous publishing endeavor gone awry?  Or a great image for an inspirational story or an intellectually stimulating commentary on the current political climate.  (As if!)

But no.  Skinned knees is about skinned knees.  The easy explanation is that I fell off my bike, but that would put a clumsy spin on the whole experience and showcase me as a dorky protagonist in this story.  What really happened:  Two friends had decided to go bike riding and they rode by my house to pick me up.  They were in the middle leg of their 25-mile bike ride and I was able to show them some of my favorite bike paths in my neighborhood.  It was warm and cloudy with a nice breeze - great for biking and I was fresh and still glowing from my Friday class.  After a time I had to head back, so I went homeward on my own.  Doing pretty well until I encountered the road construction.  As I maneuvered around the vehicles and closed sidewalks, the last 2 inches of my handlebars struck one of the yellow signs.  The bike twisted and I dove off before it could fall on me.  Of course, no matter how carefully you try to fall on cement, it's still cement--hard and unforgiving.  I was wearing gloves, but there aren't too many ways to avoid the knees, so they got scraped up pretty good.  It was starting rain so I rode home the last half mile, legs streaked with blood, socks turning pink. I looked I'd been attacked by some angry animal's claws!

As a kid I used to get skinned knees all the time.  You slap a bandage on it, and go back outside to play, unless, of course, you were on the school playground with that green cement that would tear up your red tights or plaid uniform pants and then you had to go to the nurse's office.  Even then, the wounds seemed to heal quickly.

Supplies for the "process"
As an adult, it seems like a much longer ordeal.  (Bigger knees mean larger injury targets that take more time to patch, more time to heal.)  The process:  Cleaning the wound with hydrogen peroxide or soap and water, applying the ointment and/or petroleum jelly, finding the right bandage from all the new options available (waterproof? flexible? small, medium, large? square, round, rectangular?), taping if needed, and hoping they don't come off while you sleep or do pliĆ©s.  The key here is to find tape that sticks and bandages that don't.  I can't believe I found an old roll of first aid tape that I've probably had since the 90s.  And how did we survive those old rolls of gauze?

It all takes time.  Time that could be spent bike riding, swimming with friends, going to dance class, writing or going to a show.  (We were almost late getting to a play that night because I had to patch myself up.)

The wounds are healing quite nicely, but even almost a week later I'm still doin' the "process."  Not looking for sympathy, just wanted to share.  Thanks for listening and Happy Summer!  See you out and about in the Minneapple!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Mugs of Memories - Collections Pt 3

Rounding out the Collection Series, we continue with mugs as part of "the stuff that surrounds us."  

Here, I present my extensive collection of mugs.  This begs the question: Why do people collect mugs in the first place?  Is it to remember something significant (person or place) as they drink their morning coffee or tea?  Is it to enjoy a gift from a friend or a favorite company?  Does it create a story opportunity?

Three things I realized when I assessed all the mugs that I've collected over the years.

1.  I have enough to fill an oversized coffee table and
2.  Most of my mugs represent either travel, cows or cats.  
3.  And all have their stories or memories that they evoke.

First, the travel mugs.

From L to R:  New York, Yellowstone, Trinidad, China
New York:  For some reason, buying a mug during my writing residency in Paris did not accurately represent my experience there.  Every vessel I drank from was either an espresso cup, a pristine white cup for cafe creme or a wine glass.  Decorated mugs are a touristy American thing and the act of eating and drinking in Europe felt more like a visceral experience rather than a necessity.  However, when I returned to the States, I spent two days traipsing around Manhattan, and for that time, which you can read about here, a mug was a great keepsake.

Yellowstone:  This was an amazing experience - one park with many colorful surprises.

I think the best parts of visiting new places are the unexpected tips from strangers.  I greeted a man in passing and he mentioned the North end of Yellowstone with Boiling River.  "Take your swimsuit," he said.  And so we went, and found a mineral-rich hot springs and the key to enjoyment was to find the sweet spot where the ice cold river intersects with the hot water flowing down from the molten rock formations.

Trinidad:  Of course I have favorite memories of Trinidad and Tobago.  Two weeks of worship and dance, meeting wonderful people, sharing our faith together.

China:  And a few years later, the trip to China for twelve whirlwind days of music and dance.  The special mug that we received was given by the pastor of an underground church hidden in the back of a store.  They were awaiting approval from the government for their church registration.  I don't remember what the verse is on the back of the mug.  If anyone can read Mandarin, or maybe one of my teammates could speak up -- please let me know what this says.

Next up are the cow mugs, new and old.  Most of these were gifts.  

Back in 7th grade, I had a friend who was very much into cows, and though I've sadly lost track of her over the years, there were many years where we wrote letters to each other, and hers would usually be written on cow stationary.  
So, when the black-and-white cow paraphernalia became popular in the late 80s/early 90s, I decided to indulge in the trend, not because of the country cow theme, but because of the black-and-white colors.  I decorated my kitchen with black, white and red; the bridesmaids' dresses of my wedding were white and black with red roses.  I received plenty of cow kitchen items and one of my bridesmaids also created bride and groom cows for the cake table.
I was very sad when the cow tail handle broke on the small mug (with udders!) that I received at one of my bridal showers (far right of trio).  It took years, but I finally found a replacement on Etsy.com (middle) which also came with the creamer on the left.  

Next, we have the cat mugs, all with special features.

A close up of this yowling choir of cats reveals a message in their tails.

The reverse of the "Macky" mug, named after my late cat Macabee.

And this one.  If you fill it with hot water, the black cat turns into a calico cat.

The rest of the mugs I put into the miscellaneous category.

Cozy pottery mug
(gift from a friend)
extreme mugs
(great for soup)
Friendship mug
(from another friend)
Leadership Impact
(from a corporate program)

Churches - old and new

And last but not least, this mug represents all three - travel, cows and cats.  I saw this in San Francisco gift shop and didn't buy it right away.  The more I thought about it, the more I had to go back and get it.  This is sooooo typical of Baby, my genius tabby. Orange cat impersonating a cow--it's something he would have done, absolutely!

Back to you, my readers:  Do you have a favorite mug?  What special significance do mugs present to you?  What stories do your mugs tell about your preferences, where you've been, what you've done?

Mugs of Memories is part 3 of the Slices Collections Series.  You can find parts 1 and 2 here: