knits & plants

aah, the simple life. almost.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

the things people come up with

These are wicked cool. Glow-in-the-dark knitting needles. Equally at home in a darkened movie theatre or at a rave. Get 'em here. Oh, no, wait. You can't order them yet. I hate it when they launch products that you can't actually get. Yet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

chernobyl photo essay

Still think nuclear power is a good idea?

Welcome back. Next, it's time for our favorite segment, "Never a dull moment."

In today's feature, we join the Ferriot family as they deal with the aftermath of an encounter between the logger's dog, Lennox, and favorite family feline, Lola.

(sound of pre-recorded audience gasp) Yup. There she is. That, my friends, is a fifty-foot ladder and a dead, eighty-foot poplar tree.

Glenn did his best to coax her down. No joy.

Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, once you've witnessed your husband clinging to a dead tree, dodging hysteria-induced poop bombs from your high-strung Abyssinian, you've seen it all.

So, we didn't get her out. As night fell, it began to rain and the temperature was around 40 degrees. Oscar, the other cat, refused to leave the bottom of Lola's tree. It was touching, really. Mom stared out the window until dark, watching for owls, and caculating how cold a seven pound cat can get before she gets hyperthermia and falls out of the tree.

At 11pm, Mom succumbs to the urge to go back outside. She grabs a raincoat and a flashlight. At the bottom of the tree, she finds two shivering, soaked cats. She scoops them up, brings them inside, towels them off, feeds Lola the Voracious, and the whole family goes to bed.

The End.

Monday, April 24, 2006

weekend wrapup

I am very sleepy today. Was up until 2am transplanting tomato babies out of their flats and into peat pots. It didn't all need to get done, but it's kind of hypnotic once you get on a roll.

Transplanting tomatoes can sometimes seems like plant cruelty. If you bury them right up to their little necks, then all the buried stem area will put out roots, making the plants stronger and stockier. They look so helpless in their new pots.

Sunday was so awfully cold and rainy that Carmelita and I consoled ourselves with a trip to Mecca, otherwise known as Arcana. Those people know how to grow some damn fine plants. It's too early yet for their superb tomato and peppers, but they have boatloads of awesome perennials, which I know nothing about. Here's what I came home with:

I'm very excited about the eucalyptus. And this very viney, trumpet-like thing that had bright orange blooms. I'll try to keep it all alive. Carmelita bought a tea tree. I wish her luck. The lady at the greenhouse said they're very, very difficult.

We rounded out the day with dim sum in Burlington. Not a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Daily Veggie (1.06)

Green Arrow Shell Pea

Arrow is right on the mark for commercial growers who prefer it to all others. We sell more than 1,000 lb. every year. This heavy yielder sets the standard for midseason varieties. Long pods with up to 10 peas per pod (average 7-8) on vines up to 3'. Easy to pick because pods tend to set in pairs at the top. Tolerant to F, DM, CTV, W. -FED

2 oz packet sows 30 ft, 1 lb. sows 240 ft. All peas are open-pollinated. Peas were among the earliest crops to be domesticated, perhaps as long as 10,000 years ago. Very old seeds have been found near the Burmese border of Thailand, in the Languedoc region of southern France, and in Switzerland. When it comes to picking peas, Tom Stock says he’s “learned to slow down and approach the problem from different points of view.” Young plants very hardy but frost stops production at the blossom or pod stage.

Like cool moist weather; dislike heat. Sow as early as ground can be worked for best yields. All peas produce more when staked; varieties (except AFILA types) over 2 1/2' must be supported. Plant 8-10 seeds/ft. in rows 3' apart (5' if very tall varieties). Early morning picking retards spread of powdery mildew disease and ensures best flavor.

The August 2003 edition of the Avant Gardener suggests milk diluted with water sprayed twice weekly kills the fungus and stimulates the plants’ protective systems. If you love peas as much as we do, you may want to try for a fall crop. Timing is crucial, as peas ripen slowly in the cool of September, and frost will halt production.

We recommend 1st week July planting for fall crop in central Maine. Warmer areas try mid-July. Smooth-seeded peas germinate better in colder soils than wrinkle-seeded peas, but are not as sweet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

encounters of the greatest kind

I've always felt a little ashamed for the people who broadcast their opinions, turn-ons, and turn-offs on the back of their cars. These are the people who never get asked, "So, how are you really?" But with a bumper sticker, you can just bypass that whole area of tact and good manners. People are going to know how you feel, like it or not. Kind of like the drunken uncle who holds court at family occasions by talking louder and more incessantly than anyone else cares to.

Then my dad left his job at Verizon to go work for a company called Efficiency Vermont. It's exactly like you'd expect. He gets paid to go around the state and convince people to switch out appliances and energy-consuming stuff for better, more efficient stuff. He gets to wear jeans. The company kitchen has a composting system. I love it.

Then he bought a Prius. It is the coolest. I don't know how Prius drivers aren't continually driving off the road because they're paying tooo much attention to the computer screen thingee.

Then we, as a family, decided that we had had enough of the state of the nation. We were always Bush dissidents, but things had gone far enough. We got, heh heh, a little more vocal. And a little more aware. Dad visits the Peace & Justice Center. We all podcast Amy Goodman's War & Peace Report every day on Never heard it? Go listen today. Independent, liberal media at it's best. And some damn interesting guests. We saw Michael Franti's film on a musician's journey to the Middle East. I have a copy, and foist it on as many people as want to see it.

My dad got a couple of anti-Bush stickers and put them on his car. Bush's last day, no to war, that kind of stuff. I'm so proud of him. My dad isn't, you know, political. Or, he wasn't. But he says that he just can't bear to silently witness this anymore. In thirty years I've never seen this side of him. You go Dad.

So he starts driving around, and the funniest things start happening. People start driving really aggressively, like tailgating on the Interstate. Or cutting him off and giving him the finger. A lot. I just find this all hilarious. This is Vermont, people, the liberal capital of the nation. And I just love that there are enough people out there who are upset enough about my dad's bumper stickers to respond. In traffic. This is democracy. This. is. so. excellent.

I began to see bumper stickers in a whole different light. I never thought they had such a high entertainment value. I wanted in. I did my research and came up with the Unemployed Democrats Company. heehee. I got myself and my dad the same one. See there, on the right, first link under "good stuff?" That's the one. I also got Glenn one that says, "Bush made me a Democrat" which is fun, and also true.

I put my sticker on my little Accord and off I went. Nada. Not one response in a month. Until this morning. I stop at my local Citgo for gas this morning. There are actually a lot of Citgo stations around here. Neat. There's already a large, red, older model pickup at the pump, with a gun rack and deer lights. A Nascar air freshener. And a bumper sticker. It reads:
Yikes. So I'm standing there, and the owner comes out of the store. He's about my age, and wearing a cammo baseball cap. As I watch him, he stops, reads my bumper sticker, and slowly looks up at me. Now nothing happens, really. Like the adults we are, used to living in a civil society, we smile at each other and shake our heads as if to say, "Oh you silly person. I'm not even going to spare the time to get upset at you or try to convince you to change your mind, because you and all your kind are so definitely going to be taken care of by natural selection." He fires up his truck and leaves the gas station.

I finish filling up and spend the remainder of my drive to work engrossed in speculating as to where a person like that comes from. And where he's going. A logger, I think, or a bike mechanic. There's a lot of people here who live a pretty rough life. People who don't have steady employment, and like it that way. At any rate, I think, I'm glad to be going to work in a place where everyone thinks more like me. Where they're hardworking, skilled laborers and white collar people who work very hard at running this place. Where 90% of the cars are tuned into National Public Radio when you start the engine. As I pull into the employee parking lot in the back, I think with satisfaction about how very cool my job is, and how neat it is that I get to work with such kindred spirits every day. It's a good thought, and I'm still thinking about it as I pull into a spot right next to the pickup that I just saw at the gas station.

true love

How much do I love this guy? The human one, I mean. We've bought a house together while spending every free minute at the animal hospital trying to convince our doped up, pinned-together dog to eat something. And if two people can get through that, I'm pretty confident we can get through anything. He's happy, crazy funny and totally unafraid to act spastic in front of strangers. And the boy can dance. It must be love.

But the fact that yesterday I came home to freshly swept and scrubbed floors, a clean bathroom and a sinkful of clean dishes? That's why I adore him. Even when he's running around the house doing turkey calls. Even when he goes to bed at 7:30. And yes, even when I'm woken at 5am by a marathon Murphy-Glenn makeout session. In my bed. With both participants talking at the top of their lungs. In their private canine-human hybrid language. Eskimos have thirty different words for snow. Glenn and Murphy have thirty different words for kisses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Daily Veggie (1.05)

Bulgarian Carrot Chile
Vibrant orange, 2-3 in. carrot-shaped fruit satisfies the chile aficionado with consistent heat and fine flavor. Extremely productive variety with dense foliage to protect the fruit from sun scald. -SOC

Monday, April 17, 2006

monday monday

Reader, I bought the dress. I loooove it. It's green and all swishy, and it fits, it hides all the things it need to, and accentuates all the stuff it should. Glenn says he not sure he wants me to wear it out of the house. Silly.

The garden is tilled, and the peas are all snug in their beds. I cannot wait for peas. And arugula. My back is letting me know just how much it resents my breaking in a new bed with the tiller on Saturday. Tough cookies though, because today Mark & I ride. Day 1 of the 2006 cycling season is upon us. I've been training at the gym, but being on the road is a lot, lot different. Pass the Advil.

So. About Friday's post. I've been thinking about St. Mary's recently. Why? Well, not entirely sure but it most likely has to do with the following:

1.) Vacation. Apart from the honeymoon, I haven't had one since college. And they 're going to share a lot of features. It's a beach vacation. We're driving an impossibly long way to get there. We're taking two cars down, caravan-like. When we get there, we're going to live on Corona and fish. Ring a bell to anyone? I'm awful glad to be sleeping in a bed this time.

2.) Music. I'm an addict. I come from the Bob Murphy School of Musicology and Appreciation. Am slowly replacing my completely destroyed CD collection with digital. So much of it is evocative of those days. You know how sometimes you smell something and get a totally visceral memory--like you're reliving something for a split second? That's music for me.

3.) People. I like those people. Saying hi to Megan again was terrific. Looking up Porter was hard, but I'm so glad I did. I'm always going to love Lizzie to death. 'Nuff said.

I've always steered clear on the angst-driven journalling world, and have NO intention of becoming that sort of blogger. There's too much good stuff to write about. That being said, I totally agree with Lizzzie's feeling concerning the SMC years. So, so many mistakes. So many lost opprotunities of doing things right. It took so long to heal, to look inside, to change, and to never be that person again. So why do I want to open it all back up? Because I do. We lived that life, loved, fought, and we should take as much good from it as we possibly can. There was a lot of good, a lot of love too. It's seems such a shame to relinquish all that along with all the stuff we'd rather forget. A slippery slope indeed.

We all have about a gazillion things going on at once, I know. So how to go about this? I've got an idea...

Friday, April 14, 2006


In the evenings, we would walk to Historic, taking only cigarettes, and maybe an extra shirt. We never brought a flashlight. Four, or seven, or ten of us, always together. Sometimes there was a destination, sometimes we just roved. Walking among the skeleton timber buildings, sentinels of another time, we didn't always talk. Our crunching footsteps took us, inevitably, towards the river. Scrambling down a bank, I felt like someone much younger. A kid who had found a private place behind a housing development, where trees hid a culvert where the air was cool and the trees blocked out the sounds of traffic. Down at the river, there was no need for sound barriers. There were no sounds to hide. The insect night swelled loud in our ears. Phosphorescent algae glowed red and green at the shore line. Someone might throw a handful of sand to make the lights flare up. If the moon was behind clouds, all we could see of one another would be a half dozen glowing tips of ash from cigarettes that kept the mosquitoes at bay. We almost never went swimming. The jellyfish would cover you with gossamer filaments of microscopic poisonous barbs. They hurt like hell. We'd light a joint and talk and talk and talk. I have no idea about what. We were happy and young and full of opinions. We had the best intellectual quarrels, our ideas limber and nineteen-year-old brains popping with energy. We'd sit out there, at the end of the earth, and let the salty air and heavy vegetable air do it's magic. It was a good thing to be part of. I'm afraid of forgetting it. Everything becomes hazy over time. I'm thinking I (we) should not let all those nights get away so easily. Wouldn't it be good to remember, and to remind? Last night, I heard Jeff calling me Red. Hadn't thought about that in years and years. I wonder what our collective memories could dredge up? Would it hurt? Would it work? What do they think about, Lizzie, Calley, Megan, Tim, Josh, Elisha, Cheeky, Duncan, Jeff, Martha...and are they remembering stuff I've already forgotten? People I've forgotten? Where is Ali Beheler? Places we went and all the crazy, hilarious things we did? Just how many times we sang that Padrino song? Sparke? Dylan ad infinitum? It's too much. Too much to forget. Too much to remember. Who needs a drink?

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Daily Veggie (1.04)

Supermane Sunflower

Helianthus annuus
Seeds of Change Original
6-8 ft. Tender Annual/Reseeding
The largest, thickest polypetalled sunflower we've ever encountered. A spectacular selection from an old Turkish variety. forms a large central head 10-12 inches across and 2-3 inches thick. 10-40 side branches are covered with smaller blooms that make great cut flowers.

bug bugs

Lizzie sent me incredibly adorable pictures of miss Bella yesterday. le sigh

I got some pictures of our baby this weekend too. He's just a little hairier:

Reading: Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop
Sweet, but repetitive. Definitely lacking the social commentary that makes later Dickens so compelling.

Listening to: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
I almost never make a mistake with my audiobooks. But this was a mistake. NOT genius. NOT funny. Not even close to Sedaris family distopia, which IS genius. On the other hand...nope can't find even one nice thing to say about it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Daily Veggie (1.03)

Peacevine Cherry Tomato
Lycopersicon esculentum
Seeds of Change Original
1 oz. Tender Annual

Seeds of Change Original Highest Vitamin C cherry tomato we've found. Uniquely high in gamma-amino butyric acid, a body sedative that calms jitters. Tresses continuously grow many delicious red (occasionally yellow) fruits. Sow seed in flats indoors and plant out in garden in 6-8 weeks when all danger of frost has passed. Plant in rows 24-36 inches apart. Needs trellising. Harvesting tips. Pick individual fruits as they ripen. When frost threatens, entire plant can be lifted, including roots, and hung upside down indoors to ripen remaining fruits.

gotta have it

I just can't explain how much I want this dress.

I have nothing to wear on vacation.
It's green.
It's a halter top dress.
I get a little shiver every time I look at it...kind of like kissing someone for the first time.

I have to mail order trying on.
It's $150.
I don't have $150.

Do the pros have it??

Damn you, anthropologie, damn you!!!!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Daily Veggie (1.02)

Haricot Vert "Maxibel"
Phaseolus vulgaris
20-24 in.

Long, pencil-thin stringless beans with exquisite, delicate flavor. Direct plant 6 seeds/ft in rows 18-36 in. apart when danger of frost has passed. Beans do better when inoculated with rhizobial bacteria (available at garden centers) prior to planting. Enrich soil with mature compost. During germination, keep evenly moist and warm. Keep well watered through maturity, allowing surface to dry between waterings. For fresh eating, pick when pods are at peak color. -SOC

Heavy producer of uniform dark green fancy 6-8" pods of exceptional length, ramrod straightness and superb taste. “Heavenly, over-the-top, stupendous,” coos Sandy Jennings of Cincinnati, OH. For maximum tenderness and most succulent flavor pick early and often. A gourmet market specialty. Speckled brown seed. -FED

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Daily Veggie (1.01)

Corno Di Toro Sweet Pepper
Capiscum annuum
24-30" Tender Annual
The largest of the sweet stuffing peppers, it is first-rate, fresh or roasted. Fruits turn a stunning red or brilliant yellow when ripe and have a long, curved, tapering, non-bell shape. Fruits are 6-10 inches long x 1 1/2 inches wide at shoulder.

The traditional favorite in Italy. Long 8" tapered, bull-horn shaped golden yellow peppers are sweet & spicy. They are great fresh or roasted. Large plants yield well. Among the best peppers you can grow and so delicious. Pure Italian seed.

of seeds I sing...

Dear knitters,

Sorry to say, but the time has come. If you're here for knitting news, you're not going to get a whole heck of a lot in relation to how much gardening news I have. You can plan on this trend until, oh say, next October. Sorry about that. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The weekend was great. I put on my misanthrope's hat and stayed off the radar. Am considering more days of solitude. Seems to be good for my constitution. Notable achievements include: giving Murphy a haircut, cleaning out the greenhouse, planting arugula & spinach, buying lumber for two new cold frames, working on the garden plan, and starting seeds for peppers, eggplant, leeks, and parsley.

I love the potential of vegetable seeds. And am a sucker for good catalog copy. I keep a scrapbook of all the seeds I buy, and their lovely descriptions. Pictures, too. Seems like a good thing to share on a blog, dontcha think?