Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How To Aviod The Sixty-Four Dollar Tomato

In the early years of my youth, I always looked forward to the arrival of spring and the Burpbee's seed catalog. I would read the catalog from cover to cover and dream of growing all the latest varieties of fruits and vegetables. My gardening routine was always the same; late June the soil was prepared, the seeds were planted at the proper depth, followed by periodic applications of life sustaining water.

If you have ever grown a garden, then you know that seldom does the crop you harvest look anything like the pictures you saw in the seed catalog. Even the produce I purchase in my mega-monster grocery store fails to compare. The producers of seed catalogs must employ some sort of trick photography.
Today's photo shows what my garden looked like the third week in June. I obviously will not be feeding a starving planet with my extra produce! As of today, the corn plant are about six inches in height; far short of the Iowa standard of "knee high by the forth of July". This year, I planted a high yield variety of sweet corn that matures in sixty days. It won't have to yield much to beat last year's crop of six stubby-malformed ears. When I cut the corn from the ears, it hardly filled a cup!
So why do I continue to garden year after year? I suppose partly because it's a fun activity and maybe because I believe that this year will be better than the last. Who knows, maybe it will!
If you want learn how gardening went from a hobby, to a passion and then ended as an obsession, check out William Alexander's The $64 Tomato. Trust me, you laugh until you cry.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home Improvement?

If only home improvement project were as fun or easy as they appear to be in the near endless array of home and garden shows available on any cable network. One way or another, all of my projects go through the following stages:
  1. The early excitement of planning
  2. Joy and exuberance as the project begins
  3. Set backs early on day number one
  4. The arrival of reality on day two; what was I thinking!
  5. Acceptance on day three; now you started it, you have to finish it!

And so it goes with my plan to wall paper and paint the bedroom, living room, and the dining room before summer's end.

Actually, the wall paper peeled from the wall without too much difficulty. The paper's backing and the glue's residue were another story. I spent about ten hours scrapping off the old glue; as you might have guessed, I nicked the wall in several places. The next step will be patching and sanding each of the nicks and gouges before even opening a can of paint.

Oh how the joys of home ownership are never ending!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It is often said that gratitude is an attitude, but I wonder if we actually live our lives believing that it's true. A few weeks ago while visiting the east coast, I had the opportunity to spend the evening with an old high school friend . The past eighteen months have been difficult for he and his wife; she has waged an ongoing battle with cancer. As I write, it appears that the battle has been successful, but the unintended consequences of chemotherapy and radiation linger.

During dinner, I asked Cheryl how she was doing and she responded as follows: "Today is a good day, but you know, every day is a good day." What an attitude!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

School’s Out

Today is the last official day for the school year here in Astoria; it will likely be a noisy ride on the school bus this afternoon! I still remember fondly the summers of my youth; I always had a near endless list of activities to carry me through the months of June, July and August. If memory serves me, the list included lots of the following:
  • Early morning swimming lessons in the ice cold waters of the town pool
  • Afternoons spent in the same icy waters swimming
  • Bike rides into town to buy popsicles
  • Pitching a tent and camping out in the back yard while the mosquitoes feasted on us
  • Waiting until the last minute to begin the summer reading
  • Attending Boy Scout camp in August on Cape Cod

So what’s on tap for me this summer? At the moment, much of the summer will be absorbed painting the bed room, living room, and the dining room. Boy, how I miss the summers of old!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

You Can Never Go Home

I have no idea where this adage originated but without question, it is true! I recently returned from a trip to Massachusetts, the land of my childhood. Every trip home reminds me of how much my life has changed since high school graduation in 1972. It also causes me to wonder where I might be if I had not moved west to attend Washington State University and study forestry. I never have to ponder the question too long to know that I made a good move in 1972!

The reason for my visit home was for the celebration of my mother’s eighty-fifth birthday. As the longevity gene dominates her side of the family, it will not be too long before we gather for her ninetieth! I did however note that as life’s milestones become larger, the corresponding celebrations become smaller. The unfortunate part of longevity is that each year, your list of contemporaries decreases.

During this trip east, I also had a chance to visit the site where I fought my first forest fire in the spring of 1971. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I remembered how unprepared we were to be working on a fire line. I also recalled that for supper that evening, the fire department treated us to bologna on white bread. Thankfully, the food served on the fire lines has improved greatly in the past thirty plus years.

After seven days of clear skies and comfortable temperatures, I boarded the plane and headed to south Florida for a quick visit with my aunt. When I planned this trip about eight weeks ago, my hope was that I might arrive early enough to avoid “the season of heat and humidity”. Alas, my hopes were quickly washed away as the flight approached West Palm Beach during a violent thunder storm. After circling the airport for twenty-five minutes, the captain announced that we needed to divert to Fort Lauderdale for fuel. After maybe another fifteen minutes of flight, the captain announced that the weather in Fort Lauderdale was adverse for landing so our next stop would be Miami. As I looked out the window, I saw a nearly endless wall of towering storm clouds. I couldn’t help but wonder what plan D would be if a decent into Miami failed. A quick check of the map confirmed that there were no airports south of Miami, unless you consider Havana, Cuba to be a viable option. Fortunately, the storm abated for a time and we quickly descended into Miami International for fuel and a safe haven to wait out the storm. After ninety minutes, we once again headed north and arrived in West Palm Beach, three hours late, but in one piece!

I spent a couple of days reminiscing with my aunt before once again boarding a plane for Oregon. Over the years I have made several visits to Florida but my visits were during the months of November or March, definitely at times when the heat and humidity is more tolerable!