A Week Away

I spent the last week in Montana for a vacation and a family reunion. It was a relaxing week filled with canoes, deer, wine, spiders, air conditioning, and lots and lots of sweets. The highlights:

  • We didn’t break down this year.
  • I discovered why you should always balance a picnic table by sitting across from each other.
  • An eagle dropped a half eaten fish 10 feet from my head.
  • I found a turtle in a parking lot in Whitefish.
  • Canoeing on Flathead Lake.
  • Visiting with good friends in Missoula.
  • Meeting new family members at the reunion.
  • Pinochle!
  • Canoeing on Canyon Ferry Lake.
  • Surviving a week in the sunshine and not getting a sunburn…. until the last day (see canoeing on Canyon Ferry Lake).
  • Driving over Lolo Pass and seeing places that I’ve written about for work.
  • Actually enjoying time spent in Pullman.*

    I had a great time, but after visiting Dad’s garden on the drive back, all I could do was think about my garden.  It was over 100F where we were driving through and even though I knew that my friend was diligently watering my tender plants, I was worried. It was hot, so was I going to miss out on the last of my peas? Would the slugs have demolished all my kale? Would the neighbor kids have picked all of the daisies that were starting to bloom when I left? Had the lettuce bolted? Would my first tomato ripen and be eaten by squirrels before I could take a picture to brag to Dad?

    All of that worry was for naught.  The peas are still going strong and I will have a bucketful to pick.  My kale is still growing, and while the slugs are thriving, there are still some leaves for me.  I don’t think a single daisy has been picked, only about a quarter of one plot of lettuce is bolting, and my tomatoes are just changing.

    There was one hazard I hadn’t considered, though, that did indeed hit the yard.  The Maintenance Man (dun dun DUN!). I immediately noticed the new sign posted in our yard advertising lawn service when we pulled in, but didn’t think much of it.  After we unloaded the car and I went walkabout, I got mad. Then I went past mad to pissed.  We had an informal agreement with the old maintenance guy that we would take care of the planting strip where we did our gardening and he would leave it alone.  I still got a bee in my bonnet when he would mow over something on accident, but for the most part we got on peacefully.  But this sign was advertising a new company.  A “real” company, not just a guy who came to mow the lawn on Saturday mornings and did the occasional pruning.  This company took it upon themselves to spray some sort of killer on the “weeds” in some of the beds.

      (peppers are in the pot against the wall, strawberries in the two in front. The big pot in back is a blueberry)

     Now, let me take a break to tell you that I have an ongoing battle with weeds in two of my beds.  In most of them there is just a few dandelions and grass that try to come up, and I pull them on my daily walkabouts.  But there are two beds that the weeds want desperately.  I pull them when I can, but the “grass” grows tall and the weeds grow big and I can’t keep up.  I have now just moved my pots over that area in an attempt to smother them and block out sunlight.  The hose resides over the other half, and along the fence I pull the weeds weekly to allow space for the black-eyed-susan vines I planted.

    The new maintenance guy weed-wacked that whole area, then sprayed it with some sort of herbicide.  The entire area by the gate smells like vinegar.  My blackeyed susans are gone. The poppies I planted over the tulips are gone.  This is when I got mad. I had a helluva time getting those susans to sprout and was really looking forward to the blossoms this summer.  Now I’m not going to get anything out of all that work.

    Then I continued walkabout outside the fence.  And I got pissed.  The company left my nasturtiums.  They left the zucchini plants.  But then in one “open” area, which had seeds waiting to sprout, they sprayed that damn weed killer.  You know what else they got? Half of my pole beans. HALF. I don’t know how you could mistake them for weeds, they are obviously planted in a straight line.  And they look exactly like the other beans that DIDN’T get sprayed.  So what’s the story? I feel like a cartoon character with steam coming out of my ears.

    So I wrote a letter.  Reading it now, I did a good job of bottling up my anger, because my letter was to the property management company asking about the maintenance company.  They don’t deserve my anger (this time).  Now I just have to wait to see what they say about the toxicity of what they sprayed.  Hopefully it was an organic whatever and that area can someday be planted again with something edible.  This year is probably a loss.

    I’m tired of having to deal with all this house crap caused by other people.  Time to start searching the housing market.

    *I know that last one is hard to believe, but it’s true.  I stayed one night with a friend and didn’t punch any Cougars.

    Hotter than….

    It’s never hot enough for this to be OK in public.

    The back view was worse.


    Summer must be coming.  I picked two ripe strawberries yesterday.  I ate them before I could get a photo. But trust me, they were delicious looking.

    Indian Food

    We were planning to make full Indian dinner for 12 and it didn’t happen, so we have a ton of food sitting around the house.  Most of it will keep because it’s either dried, packaged, or frozen, but we have a Costco-sized bag of broccoli and a bin of spinach to eat.  Not bad thing to have around, but I decided I needed to try our one of the recipes.

    They were super delicious.  I wish I could eat them for every meal.  Luckily, with the amount of all of the ingredients I have on hand, I could.  Unfortunately, they are fried in a ton of oil, so they are NOT healthy.  But tasty. Yum.

    They may not look like much, but when you sprinkle them with salt and dip them in mint chutney… so good!


    1 cup besan/gram flour/chickpea flour/dhokla
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp turmeric
    1 tsp coriander powder
    1/2 tsp chili powder

    Whisk together besan, baking powder, turmeric, coriander, chili and salt into a bowl.  Gradually add water and beat to a thick batter.

    To make pakoras, coat favorite vegetables in batter and dropped in teaspoonfuls into hot oil.  Deep fry until crisp.  Remove to a  cooling rack or paper towel to drain.  Salt, if desired. Onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes (in thin slices), eggplant, zucchini, and spinach may all be fried as above. 

    Robyn’s Garden

    The pole beans have sprouted.

    The strawberries are going gonzo.

    Even the three I bought for $0.60 each at Freddies are doing their thing.

    The cosmos I started inside and transplanted out are budding…

    … and the ones from seed are just spouting.

    I think I “inherited” a California Poppy in the pot with the transplanted mum.  That or a carrot.

    The Shasta Daisies are starting to bud out.

    The nasturtiums are rock stars… at least the ones along the west side of the fence.  The south side ones are inching along.

    The second batch of mums from the MG are in the ground and looking much better, after only half an hour (the roots were pretty pot-bound, MG – if you have more they should be planted asap).

    Broccoli keeps getting more leaves.  I’m anxiously awaiting some actual floret spouts.

    Remember last year when I couldn’t get a carrot to save my life?  This year they’re conquering the same bed.

    This late May weather has been perfect for peas.

    The new seeds from Territorial are getting unruly.  This might be the only time I’ve actually appreciated a holly tree.

    I even have my first two pods. See one in the middle?

    All of my tomatoes have survived.  One or two are a bit stunted, but….

    Two of the ones I planted a month ago have flowers!

    I just harvested a ton of lettuce, and the bed still looks full.  My second lettuce patch is filling in nicely as well.

    And, just to prove you can teach an ORG new tricks…

    The MG went snowshoeing!

    It’s salad time at my house.  More and more radishes say “eat me” every day, and I have been able to do some thinning of the lettuce mix.  Between the thinnings and a couple leaves off of the romaine heads I had enough for a salad.  It’s amazing how good fresh garden lettuce is.  Yum!

    Inside the rest of my salad makings are getting bigger and better – the heirloom tomatoes are about right to start hardening off.

    Much more appropriate sized tomatoes! However, one of the giant Sungold cherry tomatoes outside just developed some flowers.  Since it’s a cherry, and surrounded by a wall o water, I think I’ll leave it.  Fresh tomatoes in June!!! Woohoo!!

    The peppers have been doing their thing as well and slowly putting on the millimeters.

    I also have several (I think four? maybe five?) basil plants to round out the tomato sauce.  The thyme I started indoors is an inch or so tall, and I was pleased to see that the thyme outdoors is coming back from an attempted drowning over the winter.

    It might be a little late, but I have flowers growing from seed as well.  The snapdragons from Fishback Farms are doing waaaaayyyyy better than expected, and should be hardened off and planted outside soon.

    The flower seeds from ORG are struggling a bit – of the zinnia, poppy, and cosmo seeds planted in the flower strip, only the poppies appear to be coming up.  They’re pretty thick, so I can hopefully move some around.  Not sure what went wrong with the other guys… too cold? Not enough water? The cosmos I started inside and transplanted appear to be doing alright, so I started more and they’re already coming up.

    Planted zinnias inside at the same time, so maybe I’ll get lucky and get something out of them yet.

    Last, but most certainly not least, the only flower seed I bought from the store is FINALLY doing something.

    I bought Burpee Black eyed susan (Thunbergia) seeds at Flower World a few months ago.  I love them, but haven’t grown them before.  They seemed fairly expensive, $2.30 for a packet of only 25 seeds, so when I did the germination test on the sweet peas from Fishback Farms (which are all growing along the fence, very very slowly), I tested the Thunbergia, too. None of them germinated.  Zero.  I planted several outside as well to see if that would do it, and still, none of them did anything.  Now that these three (out of four) sprouted, I’m guessing it was too cold for them.  Who knows, maybe when it gets warmer the ones outside will sprout… but I’m not holding my breath. 

    Luckily, they say Thunbergia can be propagated by cuttings, so if any of these guys amount to anything, I can work on spreading the love around. 

    Yummy yarns

    I’d like to say that I decided to treat myself because I’ve been so good at knitting from stash and have finished a handful of projects using only “old” yarn.  That’s not actually what happened. 

    The man-friend declared he wanted octopus mittens.  In purple and gold.  They had to be warm, but not get “fuzzy” (like the alpaca hat I knit him).  Very demanding, eh?  So I took him to a yarn store where he bumbled around trying to find true husky colors in a bulky yarn that wouldn’t get a ‘fro after wearing them. Not a small task.  Finding the right shade of purple was difficult, then finding the right gold in the same kind of yarn was even harder.  But we ended up with something that I think will work.  Reynolds Lopi, 100% wool, in deep purple and gold.

    And I made him buy it.  So while it’s in my stash, I didn’t use any money.  That doesn’t count, right?

    What does certainly count is the sweaters worth of yarn I just bought for myself.  But oh how wonderful the yarn is.  

    I’m making this.  I want it.  From the first time I saw it, I thought “mine”.  So I will try my hand again at knitting a sweater. This time with teeny tiny yarn and teeny tiny needles, and a pattern that doesn’t really have any interest to it.   How very unlike the sweater that is sitting in my knitting basket that only has one sleeve left to go.  Wonder which one I’ll finish first….

    I’m going to use Canopy Fingering in Aloe and River Dolphin. What tasty yarn.  50% baby alpaca, 30% merino wool, and 20% bamboo.  So squishy!

    With any luck (and lots of time sitting in my car doing creel surveys this summer) I’ll be able to wear it before the temp plummets back to the frigid 35 degree F of Seattle in winter.


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