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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Arr, matey!

Well, I thought they were cute kids, until I saw this picture...

Ted had it done, I guess when he took them to the Purim party at the BJCC.
I have blanked out the name of the photo studio who did it and also fixed Naomi Rivka's demon-eyes.

They must have had tons of customers that day, but in addition to the red-eye, they cut out and pasted the kids' bodies really badly.

And what is with that background???
I don't know if Ted had a choice (pirate scene or bordello?) but this isn't the most kid-friendly imagery.

Between the deadly cannon fire in the background ("somebody get those kids out of there!"), the half-nude "lady" pirate, and the creepy Skull Mountain that looks as if it's drooling on Naomi's head, well...

Well.

That's all.
Oh, also, I just noticed there are people, apparently trapped, in the little hut over Gavriel Zev's head.

Cute!
Did you notice the pirate skeleton, foundering in the sand?
Forget it... it's all just too easy a target.

And supper, you ask???

I have no idea! :-o
4 p.m. and I have no idea.
I just had fudge. I'm not hungry.
Maybe I'll just give everybody fudge.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Peeking in, and YES...

The tomatoes are UP!
Well, some tomatoes.
First: the WINNER of First Tomato Up 2009 -

- is a TIE: between Carolina Gold (not visible here) and Children's Garden Roma (second from the back).

Weirdly, only the first three rows have sprouted so far. Perhaps because those were the rows directly under the grow-light?

Anyway, I have moved the entire propagator back a bit so the light is hitting a little more evenly.

In any event, I hope to see progress in the other three rows SOON.

Is this tree doomed?

This was a late-season replacement for the cedar that was stolen...

but it doesn't look through it came through the winter all that well. :-(

Got the thyme?!?

The incredible disappearing thyme.

Last year, you see it:


This year, you don't:


Is it gone?
Could I have pulled it out, thinking it was a defunct coleus?

You can see a million other bits of crud and detritus.
(ignore that pink washcloth - it fell off the porch: gaah)

Kind of amazing, too, that the fairly thick layer of wood mulch is mostly GONE.

But also, where's the ajuga???
Shouldn't it be back by now?
And why's the moss looking so mangy?

Ahh... the garden in March.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Startle

Somebody took Naomi.
Like the Lorax, who was "lifted away," it is passive voice - she was lifted. She was taken.
And we have no idea by whom; just very, very thankful that it was not for long, and we got her back.
הוֹדוּ לַיהוָה כִּי-טוֹב כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

This morning was a pretty big kiddush, and it was held upstairs - ie a lot of people in a pretty small space. So a bunch of the kids were outside (upstairs, on the 3rd-floor fenced-in roof area) zooming around in little play cars belonging to the daycare (amazingly cute! dozens of them, going wild!).

When it was time to leave, Ted took Gavriel Zev, and I took Naomi inside. I'd left some things in the room of kiddush, so I told Naomi to wait (in the small vestibule / elevator waiting area between the door to outside and the stairs heading down) and ducked into the room to grab them (they were right inside the door), and when I turned around and came back, literally seconds later, she was gone.

Faster than the time she wandered off in WalMart and I had to call security. Literally SECONDS. I called down the stairs, but there was no answer. She likes to hide, but I had a feeling she wasn't playing around - that just wasn't the mood she'd been in a second before.

I thought maybe she'd ducked into the elevator in the split second I was gone (not likely, because the vestibule was full of waiters and trays of food and whatnot, but she's a bit sneaky sometimes...), but decided to check a couple of other options.

I sent Ted off to go down the front stairs in case she was there.
I did a quick check outside, but nobody had seen her come out (there was another mama sitting right on the bench there who knows Naomi).

So I went back to the back stairwell and headed down, calling to Naomi. Again, elapsed time was NOT long, maybe a minute?

I peeked out of the stairs on the second floor in case she was there: nope. (thinking again: did I do that, or go straight down? I forget)

Got to the first floor, came out, checked the coat room and front-of-lobby area: nope.

Went back to the back door where the carriage is, where we usually get our stuff together to go out, hoping to meet Ted.
And there he was, coming out of the ladies' section with Naomi.

Elapsed time, still not long: a few minutes?

At first, I was mad at her, but she looked a bit teary, and told me a man carried her down.

!
!

Which man? Well, all the men look alike... tall with a dark suit, right?
Anyway, I figured it was another father trying to be helpful.

I said, "which man was it?" She pointed towards the door and said "him," but then, a second later, she said "he already left."
So we went out and there was only one man on the street in front, a father we know pretty well, playing with his kids.
Still, I figured maybe he was being helpful and didn't know where we were.

I asked him if he'd carried Naomi downstairs and he looked at me (like that was a dumb thing) and said no.
It would be a dumb thing, I realize now, to carry her down: she is 4, pretty independent, and also pretty heavy. If someone was helping her find her parents, he'd probably just walk down, maybe holding her hand if he knew her as well as this father did. (I've helped his daughter on occasion & that's what I do)

Anyway, we went back inside, and I figured that was the end of it. I told her, "if anybody wants to take you somewhere at shul, just say, 'no, I'm waiting for my parents.'"
She agreed, and we said it a few times to practice.

I kind of maybe suspected at the time that she'd snuck down the stairs herself and maybe invented the story about the man to cover. But I realized later that would be a very sophisticated lie. She's smart, but not that smart.

Well.

Ted talked to her a bit more later when they went to the park. Now, I don't know what his approach was, and what kind of questions he asked, but he got a bit of a different story.

Apparently, the man - somebody she didn't know - picked her up and carried her down to the ladies' section, where she started crying, I guess enough that another person came and told the man to put her down. And then the man left.

First thought: yay for my crybaby daughter!

Actually, "cry LOUD" was the advice I gave her after the getting-lost-in-WalMart incident. If we're ever separated, she has my permission to cry a LOT and LOUDLY. Not that I think she'll need much coaching on that - yay!

Second thoughts, in no particular order:

1) he must have taken her awfully fast, because I really was gone literally for two seconds - he didn't look around for us (remember, Ted was also standing in the vestibule waiting, just distracted with the baby)

2) he must have gone down the stairs awfully fast, because I called down right away when I noticed she was gone
3) nobody is in the ladies' section at that time of day: kiddush was two BIG flights up, and almost everybody who wasn't staying for lunch had already left (except slowpokes like us)

Third thought, and this is only paranoid parental guessing:

Somebody wanted to be alone and relatively undisturbed with my 3-year-old daughter.


Though many people were still in the building, there were two events taking place: a lunch two BIG flights up and a lunch one BIG flight down. The ladies' section would probably be one of the most secluded areas in the building, though I suppose if he wanted to do something really creepy, the handicapped washroom on the main floor would be more private.

This is all I remember of what Ted told me. I'm sure some details are missing.
But I do know I am never letting go of her in a crowd ever again.

I do know that lots of people in our shul look out for each other's kids, and people pick up each other's kids all the time. Mostly babies, but still. Mostly they ask permission first. Mostly, they know who the parents are.

I keep thinking this person, if he's a regular there, would have known us, and seen us standing right there. He wouldn't have taken her two floors down to look for us.
We'll never know exactly what did happen, I guess.

But still... even in a place you trust, where you know and trust most of the people: hang onto your kids.
Added on re-reading: I just want to add here, I am not a parent who panics.

I am not a big panicker.
When I hear about something like this, my first reaction is usually, "my kid did something dumb ... again." What else is new? 99% of the potentially-anxiety-provoking things turn out to be something dumb they have done.

I just figured she'd gone off on her own down the stairs without waiting, either because she was bored or silly. Dumb, right? But the big kids do it all the time, so maybe she was emulating them... as 4-year-olds love to do. Dumb.

Doctors have a saying: "if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras." It's probably a cold, not some obscure tropical brain parasite. But every once in a while, you do get a zebra.

As parents, we have to protect our kids from both the horse of their own dumbness and the zebra of the few-but-many bad people in the world.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Changing of the seasons...

Here are the tattered old winter activity schedules...

...Replaced by shiny new spring ones!

The Friday one got a little mucky because my mother accidentally used it for an arts-and-crafts project with Naomi when she babysat yesterday.

It's a secret where I went.
See? Even totally uncool gardening mommies can have secrets!

It had nothing to do with gardening, or mommying.
Oh - and I'm not having a torrid affair. :-)

The yellowing paper in behind the schedules, by the way, are last year's Pesach receipts, which I kept for some sentimental reason. Naomi must get her packrat, receipt-grabbing tendencies from my side...

Here's one receipt, for the "major" shop I do each year with my mother at the Clark/Hilda Sobey's. Last year, it came to $507.14, one $5 gefilte fish loaf at a time...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another monument


Borrowed from The Dead Bird, the children's classic by Margaret Wise Brown (author of Goodnight Moon).

I have been thinking about this illustration all day,
about our primitive need to mark graves and honour them.
That's all.

Click the link, read the book (from your library if not Amazon - that's okay with me!), share it with your kids!

The Monument


My mother is having the monument made and planning an unveiling for May. We are all know how my father would have referred to this little event. Working hard to avoid phrases like "monumental erection." Unveiling it is!

Supper tonight (Thursday):

~ Veggie purée soup - eek, get off bottom, wash dishes, cook soup!
~ Salmon croquettes with lots of veggies mixed in and CREAM CHEESE mixed in - mmm...
~ Quiche - ditto!!! Making the crust from scratch using this recipe because it's so good and so easy - just press it into the pie pan!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Teeny Tiny Sowing

Can't post a picture because I don't want to steal another gardener's photo, but this blog already has the most astounding photo of lobelia seeds, which are easily the tiniest I have ever seen.  I basically rubbed my finger in them so they could fall, like dust, onto the soil.  I found a nice bag of fafard soil in the garage and wetted it with warm chamomile tea.  I hope the coddling pays off!
 
Sowed tonight:
~ Lobelia "Crystal Palace" (a bit late now but hopefully, they'll grow fast)
~ Celosia mix
~ Sweet pea
~ White Cypress Vine, ipomoea quamoclit - just cuz I like the name!!!
~ "Bouquet" Dwarf Dill
~ Chard, 6x fordhook (free swap seeds) 
~ Chard, 6x bright lights (left over from last year)
 
Busy, busy!
 
Bad news tonight:  FUNGUS - THE LEGEND, PART 2
 
When I went down to leave the now-filled-with-seeds propagator under the lights and shut everything down for the night, I noticed that some lettuces had succumbed to... the... first... (shudder)...Damping-Off of the year.
 
Panic, panic.  Must buy No-Damp.  Or stick with the chamomile, which I was so sure was working?
Increase air circulation?  But how; it's just getting more and more crowded down there!!!
 
Anyway, I turned on the dehumidifier, which had been turned down = off.  Hopefully, that will help a bit.
 
The lettuces were right next to my precious astilbe, and just two doors down from the tomato propagator.  Hope, hope, hope for me that nothing has spread.  :-o

Letter to my City Councillor re Orchard

Another spring, another "Dear Joe [Mihevc]" letter!

"----- Original Message -----

Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:01
PM

Subject: Concerns re Orchard in Ben Nobleman
Park



I was the troublemaker tonight who brought up the issue of roadside toxins. I'm emailing just to clarify my views.

First of all, that this a great plan that I'd love to be part of somehow, and that ... has worked incredibly hard. It's not my intention to derail the orchard; as a parent in the neighbourhood, I would love to see it happen SOON.

However, conversations with ... have led me to have a few reservations about toxins found in roadside areas and in emissions.


I should add that I started out skeptical about this pollution issue. My first reaction was, "no big deal - we eat urban produce, like in our backyard, all the time."

But with that specific location and the numbers of vehicles idling there every day (eg buses lining up to enter the station, idling while they're there, plus all the cars and trucks idling to get onto Allen Road), I began to think perhaps there is cause for specific concern with that particular spot - ideal though it may be for many reasons.

The responses I received tonight were not reassuring.

I was told, you'll remember, that, while you wouldn't want to pick the fruit and eat it right away, you could easily wash off every potentially-harmful chemical.

Their evidence? The trees survive in the urban environment (so it can't be that toxic, which botanically speaking, isn't necessarily true) and that everybody eating fruit from urban trees in similar orchards seems perfectly healthy.

I was pretty surprised there wasn't more evidence - like testing the inside of the fruit for residues of
toxins.

I was surprised that there is so much time and energy going into making this project organic without much concern as to chemicals in the air being taken in by the trees and possibly stored in
their fruit.


(One person at the meeting mentioned that I could certainly choose not to eat the fruit - which is exactly my frustration. I don't have enough information right now make a choice, one way or another.)


Let me be clear once again: I really want this project to go ahead; what a great use of a tiny urban
park!
But I'm curious what the best way is to ascertain the safety of the fruit grown in the park.

Thanks once again for your time and hard work for our community!

Yours truly,

{meeeee}"

Gaah re Eco Lawn

Just remembered I emailed the company that makes Eco Lawn back in September about the blog author's complaint, and they told me "In looking at the photo [on her blog, not my photo], it may also be that she experienced a problem with a turf disease as I can see brown and green together."
 
I can see brown and green together on my lawn!!!
Could it be a... disease???
 
:-o

Concerns about our Eco Lawn

So last fall I covered up our existing disaster of a lawn, added topsoil, and seeded the whole thing using Eco-Lawn, a supposedly environmentally-friendly blend of fescues that needs less water and grows longer and thicker than a traditional lawn.

Coverage of the whole project is here, or just type lawn in the search box up above.

Anyway, I was very excited about the whole endeavour, but then read this negative report from a local garden blogger whose eco-lawn never quite recovered from the winter. And then another comment on another site from a user who says "it has been a major ecological disappointment."

Well, when the snow first melted, I was excited to see that the eco-lawn half of our lawn was actually greener and nicer-looking than the other half. In these pictures, taken today, a few weeks now since the snow cover left, you can still see a clear colour distinction between the eco-lawn and the old lawn (though the old-lawn section was half-heartedly over-seeded with eco-lawn seed).

But the patchy parts of the eco-lawn are starting to worry me more and more as I stare at them day after day. I realize temperatures are still cool, and they could, as the eco-lawn web FAQ says, "green up quickly in spring." They say that it is perfectly normal for patches under snow to go dormant and turn brown.

So we'll see.

Suppers:

Last night (Tuesday):
Turkey Chili with cornbread on top - yum, yum, yum. Must start taking pictures again!

Tonight (Wednesday):
Superstore chicken! I just can't get enough of it!!!

Our city councillor is holding a meeting tonight to discuss and plan the city's first urban orchard. Should be fun, but I'm not sure how excited I am about going. Lazy, perhaps, but it's still too cold outside for going out in the evening to be the total pleasure I know it will be soon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

OK, slap me. I am officially a Very Bad Girl.

Yes, I should have been in bed HOURS ago. Plus, I'm freezing.

This is Jeremy, the older kids' dad. Yeshaya Dov ben Avraham. 28 Tamuz, 5731 - 28 Adar, 5765. From the dates, it looks like he was 34 when he died, but he wasn't. He never got to be 34.

We were married for a while, divorced for longer. Just starting to get to know each other again and find some peace in our tumultuous relationship.

I was looking for a good picture of him to put on my facebook profile, and found this, which I didn't remember that his dad had sent to me a few years ago.
Plus, I found a couple he sent me of his (my father-in-law's) visit here, when we all went to Harbourfront for a Toronto Symphony concert.

Here are the two grandpas together - my father and Jerre (my father-in-law).

This was the visit I was having such happy memories about a couple of months ago.

And here's a blurry shot of my father with the kids.
I am shutting down now, I promise!!!

new desktop wallpaper

Borrowed graciously from here, so if you like it, buy the shirt.
 
Did I mention I was going to bed, like now???
 
 

Dinosaur Comics are a THING - who knew?!

Abigail told me Dinosaur Comics, like the one kind of apropos of Pesach/spring cleaning, which I featured here, is a THING on the Internet.
 
Apparently every comic features the same five frames with pictures of dinosaurs... only the dialogue changes.
Anyway, there's a site for all of them here.  Be warned that the content is not always appropriate.  But we're all adults here, right?

Teeny tiny seedlings

Last post for the night - I promise!!!
Just wanted to show off how the astilbe seedlings were coming along, just since Friday. From about 3 seedlings, there are now at least eight, probably more.
Not counting chickens before they hatch, but yay!

I guess these coleus haven't grown much since Friday. They are sure slow to get started... argh. I agree with everybody who says don't both starting them from seed: I don't even know why they sell packets of seed!
Just find one you like, and propagate it from cuttings. It'll come true that way, and quickly.

(you'll be happy to know that I resisted "stealing" cuttings from the new University of Guelph 2009 coleus introductions at Canada Blooms yesterday... but - eek! - I couldn't resist two tiny ones at Allan Gardens last week, so I may have a new "mystery" coleus or two in my garden this year...)

Here's some salad greens, coming along.

And this is an onion DISASTER! I was reaching for it and the whole container flipped over, knocking out all the soil and burying many promising seedlings. I had to rescue whatever seedlings I could and try to pop them back in right side up, with not much success.

I added a few more seeds, but it sure knocked out some of my cockiness at how well everything was going. Those were the seeds that germinated so successfully (and fast!) using the indirect heat from the top of my lighting rig.

We'll see what survives in there... I was sure excited at getting a jump on the onions, though. Like I said, maybe too cocky, a bit.

More growing today - but first, supper

Yes, we still have suppers around here!

Tonight (Monday):

Ted was working late and I went to an animation workshop with Sara at the NFB, so I ordered pizza. I was going to go pick it up, but Ted was having a quiet evening and offered to pick it up and drop by with it - delivery! Kosher pizza - delivered to your door! What a concept!

Also ordered a salad with it, and reheated last week's broccoli soup - NO french fries. Zero.

In addition to the tomatoes, I also planted two of my Canada Blooms seeds - the Cutting Celery, which I am getting more and more excited about after having Googled it a bit, and also the Anaheim Chili.


I'm a bit worried that the chilis won't have time to get big and strong and do their pepper thing this summer, but knowing peppers can overwinter indoors reassures me that even if they don't make peppers this year, they will survive to do it another season.

So what else are we looking at here???

After weeks of "hanging" in suspended animation - the 2-leaf seed-leaf stage that seems to last forever, the parsley is at least producing real leaves.

Some of those basils are getting quite big now, too. There are true leaves on almost all of them, though not quite visible.

And so this is my heliotrope!
I thought I had a seedling yesterday, but I think now that maybe it was a piece of fluff or mold (gaah!) on the surface of the peat.
Anyway, this is a real, actual seedling. For sure.
Why can't you see it?
Because it's dangling off the right side of the peat pellet. Ugh. Leave it to this stupid eBay vendor (I curse her name quite regularly now) to produce seed so rejected that only the one stupid fallen-away sideways seed actually sprouts.

Finally, portulaca. See how thick and succulent-like the leaves have become? Reminding me of why I don't love portulaca, but they are for my mother. She'd better appreciate them. I have come to expect descriptions of them in garden books to include the word "reliable" or "hard-working."

It is nice that they will flower cheerfully anywhere, all summer long, even under her miserable dry-shade front-yard oak tree. The only other thing that thrives there is a weedy lamium that I rejected from my own garden...

The animation workshop was great, by the way. Lovely to get out, though I would probably appreciate it more after a long stretch of not having gone out... not after a day like yesterday where I went out not once (to Canada Blooms), not twice (to the wedding in the afternoon), but three times (to the garden club meeting in the evening).

It was nice to get out with Sara with no kids - as she pointed out, she can't remember the last time I met up with her without those little accessories. And it was free! We are my father's daughters: we'll do anything and go anywhere so long as it's free.

And then out again this morning. We had another yeshiva interview with YM.
As well as the last one went, this one went totally in the opposite direction. It was miserable. YM was grouchy with a cold and as much as came right out and told the rosh yeshiva he didn't want to go there.

And the rosh yeshiva almost as much came right out and said he didn't want a kid with YM's attitude problems and verging-on-rude outspokenness in his yeshiva.

Blah, blah, blah.
This was actually my top pick - of the two we're considering. But the hours would be long - YM complained about that. The other yeshiva has similar hours, but also a dorm where YM would live most of the week, so his commute would be cut down to about 5 minutes. I really think the dorm is the biggest draw - but I don't think it should be the major criterion for choosing a yeshiva. Though living the life 24/7, if he could do it, would really be a Good Thing for him in almost every way.

No way we can afford either yeshiva, so I guess we'll slog through the applications process, let them farheir him after Pesach. I'm convinced he's some kind of ilui, and I think either yeshiva will want him regardless of the money once they see what he's capable off. I can always tell when I have met a real mechanech when he is excited rather than frustrated to meet YM, challenges and all.

(I got the impression that the rosh yeshiva today was not too charmed by YM, which is rare... most adults love him practically on sight, cuz he looks like such an angel)

The big kids have yahrzeit today, 28 Adar. Four years since their father died: how did that happen???

Anyway, if I was hoping to get a chance to rest from this weekend and today, NO. Tomorrow morning I have my Tuesday-morning aerobics for the first time in a month. And I have to shlep the kids there to the childcare program while I'm at it. 9:15 a.m.... why did I ever think that was a good idea???

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tomatoes are IN!

Tomatoes planted 3/23/2009 in the Lee Valley Propagator:

* = my own saved seed
# = SASE seed from Wintersown.org (yeah, I ought to be sowing these outdoors, but I did sow some varieties out there, really I did... I admit, I don't trust the wintersowing thing 100%)

4 x * Early Tiny Yummy Cherry
4 x * Children's Garden Roma
4 x # Carolina Gold
4 x # Husky Red Cherry
2 x Opalka (misc SASE seed)
2 x * Children's Garden Question-Mark
2 x * Children's Garden Peach
2 x * Children's Garden Purple Plum

= 24 tomato plants... if they all hatch.

The stuff that looks like crushed nuts on top (don't these look like Nutty Buddies or some other kind of ice-cream treat, with the sticks and everything???) is vermiculite.

Because I used lousy WalMart potting soil (all I had in the house), I decided to top it with a layer of vermiculite to ward off evil spirits and/or the possibility of damping-off or other fungus. Also, I watered it all in with chamomile tea instead of plain water. Hope I haven't messed anything up too badly.

(as mentioned before, I have been watering all seedlings this year with chamomile, but I've always used plain water to start the seeds)

So here's the complete seed-starting setup now:

I'm world famous

I know it is almost ridiculously self-conscious, but according to my (highly modest numbers, ie I'm kinda unpopular) blog statistics, one of my more recent visitors actually arrived at my blog via Google by typing the following keywords:

MARSHMALLOW NICARAGUA YESHIVA

Believe it or not, when you click on those words, I am ranked number one. Now, there are three keywords, so it can't be an attempt at Googlewhacking (does anybody really do that anymore, anyway?).

Could it be that someone is actually searching for a yeshiva in Nicaragua... that is somehow connected to marshmallows?
In any event, if that's how you yourself arrived here - welcome! We cherish all kinds.

Why "Average" Haredi Families Go to Hotels for Pesach

I didn't write this, which is probably why it's so concise and funny!
 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Canada Blooms Swag (but not much)

Before there was Richard & Leah's wedding, there was... Canada Blooms! I actually did make it! I even made it to Sobey's this morning to buy the "advance" ticket to save $2. The trip cost more than $2, but whatever...

Anyway, here's what I bought and/or picked up along the way. Sure doesn't look like much when you see it all spread out like this. And I am astonished once again this year that there aren't more giveaways.

Honestly, Seedy Saturday was way better for giveaways, even from the commercial tables and booths. I guess that's more the mindset there.

Canada Blooms is more the mindset of paying big-time Landscape Architects (God forbid you hire an unauthorized professional to design your garden... who knows what the heck kind of mess you could end up with back there...?) to design a full outdoor retreat, with individual rooms, water features, hardscaping and whatnot. Like I can even afford a fraction of that.

Give me three beds full o' veggies and I'll try to be a little content, tank you veddy much.

Okay, so here is what I came home with:
~ Bunch of flyers, official show guide, etc. The most interesting being a new mulch product called Nincompoop. Maybe I just like the name. ;-)
~ Mini sago palm which was an impulse purchase for my mother's front window - once I pot it on as it's too confined at the moment. She didn't seem overjoyed; there you are...
~ Two Downsview Park bookmarks with a planty bit that you stick in soil and seeds in the papery bit sprout. Reps at the booth couldn't tell me what kind of seeds they were. "Some kind of herbs?"
~ Three cancer-related gift items: two daffodils for my sisters and one ThingamaBoob keychain for me.
~ Seed packets (details below)
~ Flexi Flowa Planta (details below!)
~ Free sample of worm castings from a company that is just starting out distributing worm castings.

Blah, right? Pretty blah, in terms of swag, anyway. Feeling kind of envious right now of big-time shows like the Chicago Flower and Garden show (covered here by Mr. Brown Thumb, a blogger I enjoy reading...)

But it was nice seeing all the green.

So here are my two most exciting take-homes:

THE FLEXI FLOWA PLANTA!

This thing easily has the potential for being the most kitschy garden thing ever. I couldn't even find a website. Basically, it's like the kind of shoe bag you throw over your door and it has many many pockets for your shoes... only it's green... and instead of shoes, it holds plants.

Oh, outside - not really over your door. You can use it where you might use a windowbox planter or wrap it decoratively around your rain barrel, as illustrated here on the package.

I do not have great hopes for this thing, but they were 3 for $10. I spent $4 and bought one. If it is amazing, I can always buy more next year, right?

OK, and now to the SEEDS...

I tried not to go overboard, because really, I have almost every kind of seed I could possibly need. (Hey, that rhymes). So here's what I bought:
~ Sprouting seeds: broccoli, garlic chives and beet (beet! wow!)... these won't take up room in the garden, so they don't count. Technically, you can sprout regular seeds, but it's not recommended that you eat them because most seeds are treated in some way. Seeds sold specifially for sprouting are fully edible, from what I understand, even the seed part.
~ Pepper: Anaheim Chili. I want a spicy pepper this year for sure, but have been rethinking the jalapeno, because our tolerance for great heat is not that high. I just want something nice that can hopefully end up in a chili; not something that will land us in the E.R. with mouth burns
~ Eggplant (black beauty). Giveaway from Thompson & Morgan. Nobody here likes eggplants, but they might be nice in a container. Or I can give them away.
~ Cutting celery. I have been steering clear of celery in the garden because it's fussy and takes a long time to grow. But this is marked as "cutting celery", meaning, I think, that it is mostly for leaves (the packet shows lots of nice leaves and no stalks), for celery flavour, and not really for stalks. And I'd never really heard of that, but thought it might be pretty in a container. I do love the green bits of celery.
~ Peas - Sugar Snap Pole. I do have lots of pea seeds (okay, they are just plain peas - it feels weird calling them seeds), but they are a few years old. The bush peas never did much of anything, and I figured since peas are our most successful veg crop, I may as well put in a buck-fifty every couple of years to ensure a high germination rate. We LOVE love LOVE our peas around here...

So: Canada Blooms.
Oh, there were lots of interesting gardens and exhibits and it was all great. Certainly nice to get out and have a morning all to myself.

But now I'm exhausted, as I ended up triple-booking and there was a meeting of our local garden group this evening on top of everything else.

Tomorrow is merely double-booked, as we have a yeshiva interview in the morning and then I have an adults-only workshop at the NFB that I'm going to with Sara; Elisheva's supposed to babysit - yikes. Maybe I'll leave pizza for the kiddies and bribe them with a nice movie they can watch...

Ted's working 'till 8, so at the very worst, he will get home and have to put them to bed. No, okay, the very worst-case scenario is that Ted gets delayed at work until 9 or 10, like happens more often than you might expect from a company that bills itself as family-oriented, and I get home first and everybody is overtired and there are smelly diapers everywhere. That would be the absolute worst-case scenario.

Must hie me abed now - or something - to gird myself for the morrow. Or something.

Goin' to the chapel, and we're...

...Goin' to our friends' wedding! Wow - this was truly the Village Shul simcha of the century. Mazel tov, mazel tov to Richard and Leah. I love how Elisheva and I look in this picture. Very happy, very purposeful. And just a little bit similar... hee hee.

Presenting! Naomi's Birthday Present!

Finally got Naomi Rivka to try on the leotard part of the ballet costume present I lovingly, painstakingly handcrafted for her.

I feel so sad because she looks like such a little princess, trapped in the dingy plastered-together horror of our kitchen.

She really does look like she deserves a better world than this laundry-strewn masking-taped place she's growing up in. But at least she has a homemade ballet dress!

I couldn't get her to put on the ballet shoes, by the way. And then I got busy with something else and turned around to see her running around the house in the slippers. Ha! And me without my camera, by that point. Isn't that always the way?


At least there's a word for it now: Ferberizing

Kind of. When I first had babies, the now-well-known child sleep "expert" Dr. (Richard?) Ferber wasn't that well-known yet, so doing what he advocated was just called "crying it out".

But then it turned out that sounded kind of cruel.

Anyway, I like to think we're doing it in a partial way. With our very old baby. This is not a brand new newborn - he's almost 18 months, and 6 a.m. is too early to get up if he's going to skip his morning nap.

With an hour's extra sleep, we (the adults) will be a LOT less grumpy and he will have the vim to get through the entire morning without conking out in the car or wherever we happen to be. And then an early-afternoon nap, around 1 or 2, will get him through the rest of the day without leaving him too wide-awake at bedtime (between 8 and 9).

So there it is - the reason. The strategy? This is a variation of what I've been doing to extend his afternoon naps a bit.

When he wakes up at 6, on the dot, I go in to him, pat him, cover him, sing to him and tell him it's still sleep time and I love him. And go out.

A minute later, or whenever he screams, I go in again, pat him, cover him, tell him it's sleep time, and go out.

Two minutes later, I do it again. This is the tough part - this morning, he screamed almost the whole time.

Five minutes later, I do it again. This part was hard, but this morning, he actually stopped screaming for a few extended periods in the 5 minutes.

Obviously, if he's not crying, I don't go in again. :-)
If he is, I wait ten minutes, and then do it again. By this point this morning, it was 6:30, and we were both exhausted. I told him I loved him, patted him and said it was still sleep time, and went out - back to bed.

I was prepared to listen to 20 minutes of screaming at that point, but there wasn't any - he went back to sleep until just before 7.

I've found, with this baby - they're all different! - that after a few days of this torturous schedule, he actually acclimatizes to the new wake-up time - or at least figures out that there's no point making noise before the right time.

We did it with six.
We did it with the time change.
I've done it with his naps, to some extent (he was sleeping only an hour in the afternoon, which, if you only have one daytime sleep, is NOT ENOUGH).

So we can do it with the seven-a.m. frontier as well... I'm convinced of it.
Meanwhile, wish us luck: I'm exhausted, and heading off to Canada Blooms in a minute!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Forget expensive, power-hungry heat mats!

If you have a lighting rig, you probably already have a great source of warmth for germinating seeds: the top of your fluorescent lights.

Here, in case you're interested, is my entire seed-starting and growing setup in the basement this year.

The top shelf is mostly coleus.
Second shelf is closer to the light, so holds smaller plants, though you can see various helpful orange crates elevating plants of different heights. The tray at the far right is the stuff that is still in peat pucks - mostly portulaca right now, but also some parsley, zinnia, etc.

The huge potting table, I admit guiltily, is my kids' train table. I have promised myself I'll clear it off so they can use it for playing SOON. Really soon.

Anyway - there, on top of the whole thing, are two containers I've planted with some lettuce (to grow indoors for baby salad) and onions. These are reused containers - one from hydroponic lettuce (that's the onions - confusing, right?) and one from cookies. Free planters - yay!

The trick is finding the right warmth. Feel a heating mat if you have one - they're not hot, just slightly warm to the touch. The idea is to warm the soil, not cook the seeds..

Some parts of the lamp will be hotter than others... feel it when it's been on for a while and you should get a good idea of which area will be best for your seeds.

What I also like about this method is that the whole thing is on a timer, so it all goes off at night, saving us a bit on energy. If you have seeds that are picky about not cooling off, however, you might still need a heat mat, because most plants don't love 24 hour sunlight.

So that is the bulk of my seed starting setup at the moment!

Hope someone out there finds this helpful. :-)))

Yes, it's Friday.

Yes, I have way more important things to be doing right now.

Like cooking and cleaning and whatnot.

Off to do all that - right now!!!

Coleus Count: 54!

Not including these guys... growing from a packet of leftover seed from last year.

No idea if anything will come of them - last year, I got a big fat nothing starting coleus from seed. But as with the lottery, there is the one in however-many chance that something interesting will sprout.

OK, lotteries don't sprout. You know what I mean.

Here they all are!!!

My lucky sunglasses!

Worried and worried all morning about my missing sunglasses... $100 to replace and all that... but as usual with my dumbness and losing stuff, they turned up.

Maybe the shamrock helped!

See, I've written my contact info inside in case I am so thoroughly dumb as to leave them somewhere, they can hopefully come home to me...

The astilbe are up!

After several long weeks of waiting, the astilbe I "stratified" on the cool basement windowsill are up at last!

These were the seeds I demonstrated sowing here. So I guess it worked. ;-)

First two pictures were taken on Wednesday... the last one was today - there are a few more seedlings now, so maybe there will be even more eventually!

Yay!

I love these guys! The person who did my garden design last year (yes, I was actually working from a plan - scary stuff) suggested columbines for their season-long foliage, but I think astilbe are even nicer in terms of background foliage. And the leaf miners made the columbine foliage look simply awful, while the astilbe held its own beautifully.

I do wish these were white, that's the only thing. I worry that they'll be clashy in the garden, but I suppose with my hodgepodge garden, clashy is the least of my worries.