Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back At It

It’s been ten days since I started the giant pink antibiotic pills my doctor prescribed to me for my “major” sinus infection.  After two days, my symptoms started abating…slowly.  But it wasn’t until this past Sunday evening that I started feeling myself again.

What that meant—along with the continuing deluge—was that outside the house, the garden was being overrun.  Even when I wasn’t feeling well, I’d at least wander out for some desultory bean or berry picking, but any feelings of contentment were generally spoiled by all the greenery that wasn’t supposed to be there.  My illness extended neatly over two weekends which, as I’m sure you understand, is normally prime garden maintenance time.  So as the work week wore on, I still wasn’t very motivated to go play in the dirt.

Today, finally, my inner gardener rose up and took control.  I wandered out to pick some beans, and next thing I knew, the weeds were quite literally flying in every direction.  It’s very satisfying to feel the riiiiip of the roots coming out, and once again I mentally thanked Michele, my favorite goat farmer, for her gift of composted manure last fall.  Between that lovely loose dirt and the previous evening’s rain, most of the weeds came out easily.

Here’s a bit of before and after, from bottom to top!

garden 07 (12)

I’ll address that squash plant in a minute.  And no, I didn’t finish pulling out those weeds.  I don’t want to frighten off my inner gardener with a seemingly unending chore.  I’ve found that if I don’t try to get the whole thing done in one go, I’m less likely to put it off.  One step at a time.

So, let’s take a few steps back and see what the whole bed is looking like these days.

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Whoa, that’s pretty lush, isn’t it?  You can’t even see my rocks anymore!  But, truth be told, what you’re seeing is mostly marigolds and parsnips.  Here’s what the “productive” part of the bed looks like.

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That’s one bean plant in the middle left, and another peeking out center bottom.  All the rest is flowers!  The beans have been pretty lackadaisical about growing and producing, but I have managed to gather about a quart’s worth in the past week or so (which I should be blanching and freezing right now, instead of writing about them!)

Did you notice what’s missing?  Squash plants!  You may remember a previous post, when one of my plants was flat on the ground, and the other was still healthy.  As the second plant began to succumb, I finally figured out what the problem was, and it wasn’t pretty.

garden 07 (6b)

Squash vine borers.  This is the main stem.  The larvae get into the stem and suck it dry, causing the entire plant to collapse.  From the little I’d heard, there’s no hope once a plant’s infected.  All I could do was cross my fingers that the third plant—which I hadn’t really wanted in the first place—was far enough away on the other side of the carrots to elude the pests.

Sadly, the answer to those dreams turns out to be “nope.”  But after pulling the second plant out, I had googled the problem and found two possible solutions.  One is to cut into the stem and remove the bugs manually, but this seldom succeeds because there are usually more than can be found.  Besides, it’s not the easiest thing to get under the wide leaves and twisting stems of a squash plant without breaking half of them off, and still have enough flexibility to wield a blade delicately.  Believe me, I tried.

So I’m sticking to the second approach, which is to mound dirt up on the stems as a way to encourage rooting, thereby attempting to keep ahead of the pests by creating new primary stems.

garden 07 (9) 

I don’t hold out much hope, but as you can see, there are four or five little squashlets growing.  It would be nice if I could at least get another week to let them get to size.

Speaking of size…(this is a segue, people, stick with me)

McKenna Kitten is slowly but surely on her way to becoming McKenna Cat.  Here’s a before-and-after with one of Rosie’s toys (just because I happened to get a picture of her next to it the first week we had her).

     McKenna 07 (3)          IMG_20130725_175136_969-1

Oh, she’s still a kitten all right, but her legs and body are both lengthening.  (There was a treat involved in the second picture, not a hairball.)  You’ll notice she’s also finally grown into the collar Miss Chef bought her.  How’s this for a modeling pose?

McKenna 07 (22)

It’s all in the eyes.

She and Rosie have come to whatever agreements were necessary, and we now leave them alone together.  I took this picture exactly two weeks after McKenna came home.

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Rosie gets most of the credit for this one.  McKenna is fascinated by our whole feeding-time routine, mostly because Rosie gets canned food, which I’m sure smells most intriguing to the cat.  If McKenna gets too close to her bowl, Rosie will growl at her—unlike Smoky, McKenna’s never pushed her to the point of actually snapping at her.  Anyway, McKenna has no qualms about drinking from Rosie’s water bowl, so she simply positioned herself there while I dispensed the food—“Just getting a nice little drink”—to be as close as she could without pushing Rosie’s buttons.  And it worked.  I’m not sure who’s the more clever one, but I’m thinking it’s a win-win.

And now, because who doesn’t like cat pictures on the internet, here are a couple more I’m just throwing in here because I like them.

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McKenna 07 (25)

Isn’t that a hilarious pose?  She was fast asleep when I took this--but don’t be fooled, because within half an hour, she was tearing around the house like she had rockets on.  And yes, she still tries to play with Rosie’s tail/face/paws, and Rosie still doesn’t get the concept.  I keep telling her to play with the cat, but she just wags her tail at me and says “Walk?”

Oh, and remember the post entitled “Miss Chef’s Projects?”  Both the animals were intrigued when she started in earnest on this one.



Rosie’s earlier leakages as she lay by the front door had destroyed a good portion of the flooring, which wasn’t all that nice to start with.  Miss Chef has far more confidence than I do when it comes to DIY projects, and she decided she could tear up and install some flooring herself.  It took a while, a bit of cursing, and perhaps some cooling-off periods, but once the bulk of the work was done, it looked amazing.

McKenna 07 (20)


It feels nice underfoot, too, even if Rosie’s still figuring out how to maneuver this new slippery surface.  We’re still waiting on a last bit of molding to come in before Miss Chef will finish all the trim, but it’s much less embarrassing to open the door these days.

One of these days I might do something worth sharing, besides playing with the cat and digging in the garden.  In the meantime, I’m just happy to be feeling like myself again.


  1. Glad to hear you're feeling somewhat better. That was indeed a "major" infection from the sound of things.

    May I make a pitch for canned food for McKenna also? Recommended as a way to boost fluid intake in hot weather, and potentially avoid Feline Urologic Syndrome at all times. Doesn't need to be a totally wet food diet - some of each is fine. Isn't unsolicited advice wonderful?! Worth every cent of the cost :)

    Your photos are so full of cute I almost want a fifth cat. Almost. :)

  2. Love the stretched-out-tip-to-toe pose! I remember when Frankie used to sleep like that but I don't think I've ever seen it in a cat before. She's a charmer, that one!

    Love the new floor! Isn't it nice when a project ends up looking so great? Although this seems to be the post for unsolicited advice, I almost never ever give any, but I am someone who has had awful problems with her knees this year. So would you please tell Miss Chef that I lovingly and respectfully ask her to use a kneeling pad next time to protect her knees? That's the sad voice of experience talking...

    And mostly I love that you are starting to feel better. Sinus infections suck.

  3. AnonymousJuly 30, 2013

    Check this out for squash vine borers. They're a guaranteed problem here in Atlanta but this may work. good luck.
    Laurie B

  4. AnonymousJuly 30, 2013

    Oops, forgot the addy

  5. LOVE the kitty photos. Ummmm, your trash can still has a sticker on it.... Take care of that please. Before and after photos please.

  6. Have enjoyed catching up as usual. Your garden n road trips always inspire me. Like the new floor too. McKenna n Rosie are so funny together! I especially appreciated your squash tips as I lost my prize pumpkins and had vowed never to try again. I also shared your prolonged struggle with sinus (& chest) infection this year. It's not really 100% gone but I'm a newly converted allergy pill taker. :-(


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