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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Utterly shameless!

Wow, I have no shame.  The following contains promo plugs for various things and I’m doing it to win a contest, so bear with me.

This great balcony gardening blog (which I genuinely do read all the time for container inspirations, even though I do technically have a bit of a yard to garden in…) is offering a free UPS-A-DAISY planter insert to anyone who plugs the product online.

What a great, sneaky way to create buzz!  So here it is, and here’s how it works:

temp_upsadaisy

Pretty simple concept.

I haven’t tried this insert before and, at $4.99 to $12.99 each, it kind of doesn’t tie in with my “frugal” (ie penniless) gardening theme unless unless it worked fantastically well.  If it did, it might save you that much in planter soil year after year, without the hassle of packing peanuts or whatever it is that people usually use. 

Another reason I’m interested is that you could probably also use this in a hole-less container (or plug the holes in a container you like) to make it into a self-watering (aka sub-irrigated) container.  You’d need to thread some type of wick through the drain hole(s) in the Ups-a-Daisy to dangle into the water reservoir beneath… and maybe drill an overflow hole into the container itself.  But it just might work… though for $12.99, maybe not save you much.

So anyway, dear reader(s), if you have read this far, wish me luck in my shameless quest!

One more plug – here:

   temp_upsadaisy2

But do check out her blog.  I don’t get anything extra for plugging it, but it’s fun to read with lots of tips, plant combinations and useful information for anyone who loves digging up the dirt!

Slugproof Foliage: Columbine (bad) vs Astilbe (good)

All the slugs and snails and whatnot – well, I still find them flattering, and I’m happy they love my garden so, but the foliage is definitely suffering this year.

Here is a mottled, leaf-mined, slug-eaten columbine on the left, versus a pristine, proud, almost-ready-to-flower astilbe on the right:

columbine = yucko no damage, yay!

Totally reminds me of why I want more astilbes in the garden.  The foliage is both delicate (ferny) and bulletproof.  I was never sold on columbine to begin with, and I really did not love the flowers this year.  More astilbe it is – for next year!

My earlier theory about slugs avoiding the soft, ruffly foliage of yarrow turns out to be completely wrong.  They don’t damage the foliage, but they can still totally climb up it.  I found a few sitting right at the top, basking on the flat flower heads.

If you want a slug-proof plant, raspberry seems to do the trick so far!  I guess they can’t stand all those prickles…

Moment of Terror

“Jennifer!”

[Have I mentioned I hate my name?  I know that even if you’re given a terrible name at birth, something like Brandi or Teena or whatever (apologies to Brandi, Teena or whoever) you can overcome it through sheer genius IQ and become the next Einstein or a college professor or whatever you want – even if you have a dippy name.  But Jennifer is the queen of all dippy names, in my opinion, and I have never overcome it.  That and the fact that every other woman my age that I meet online is named Jennifer because it was the #2 name in the year I was born.]

So anyway.  I hear my name shouted across Eglinton on my way to shul this morning.  Friends of ours had a baby, that’s why I was going.  And I was expecting lots of people I know there so I didn’t think much about someone calling out my name.

The voice was familiar.

It was coming from a man on a bike in jeans and a helmet with a fabric thingy on the helmet, glasses, non-descript.  Gloves.  Not going to the shul, but heading south across Eglinton, at the same time I was trying to cross going north.

Total blank.

Total, scary, social-situation blank.  I hate social situations.  I am such a klutz, socially, like something out of  a bad comedy where it turns out all she needs is a good hairdo and she’s suddenly got tons of friends (hello, Princess Diaries!).

So who’s this guy?

Friendly.  Familiar. 

I look, I do the casual-wave thing, hoping we’ll wave at each other and be on our way, mutually crossing of Eglinton, he going south and me going north into shul.

But no, he’s waiting for me… and the voice sets something off, a little more familiar.

It must be “Bob”.  A guy we know, a little bit.

Ironically, someone I’ve always kind of mocked for his semi-autistic tendencies to not meet you in the eye, obsess over certain topics and generally just be a little more awkward than me in conversations. 

We don’t know him well, but we’ve chatted a few times; usually I get Ted to talk to him and he does okay, but I can’t handle the awkwardness. 

The only thing Bob & I really have in common, and even that is a bit of a stretch, is that I do kind of know…. let’s call him “Jim”:  Bob’s brother.   Jim is an “extended” but longtime friend/family member of my mother’s, in a vague and unimportant way.  I have met and chatted trivially with Jim many, many times.  Never, really, with Bob.

So there we go:  common ground.

After asking how he is a couple of times (gesture to the bike:  “this is how I get to work!”), still not 100% sure it’s Bob, but he is still not heading on his way, I venture, cheerfully, “so we just had a tour of Jim’s garden a couple of weeks back!”  (yes, I talk like a cowboy when I’m frightened)

Terror.  Brace myself.  Hope, hope, PRAY, I don’t get a blank look – like, “who’s Jim?”

But no.  Worse.

“Um.  I’m Jim.”

OOOOOoooooohkay, then!

“Oh, I’m sorry!   I didn’t recognize you in that hat!  I have to run – they’re having the baby naming now!  I saw the mother go inside!  And the jeans!” I called back over my shoulder.  Because I truly have never seen this person in jeans… in the almost-forty years I have known him.  Yes, just about since birth.

Yes, I’m a total moron.

And the ultimate, embarrassing truth is, Jim has an… issue… a major issue… with one of his hands that makes it impossible NOT to recognize him, when he isn’t wearing gloves.  It’s the first thing I look at when we converse.  Apparently, it’s the only way I ever recognize him.

Who’s semi-autistic now???

There is no hole

This is not a picture of my father.  This summer, there are no pictures of my father.Is that the terrifying part about death?  The sad part about losing someone close?

There is no hole.

The space he once occupied – simply isn’t there anymore.

Like a river, it closes around him, engulfing him, sweeping us along instantly and entirely.

We don’t walk around weeping, we walk around coping.

That’s what is frightening tonight.

Done

With four phone calls, the screech of a taxi’s tires, screaming from Gavriel Zev, who has been restless all night, and from Naomi Rivka, wakened by Gavriel Zev’s screaming, the cat-sitting adventure is at last put to rest.

I was tired six hours ago.

The baby is still coughing.  And now crying.  For Ted, thankfully.  In the middle of the night, there is nothing so wonderful as Abba.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Despite

our smugness over the fact that we're composting in the backyard and therefore our garbage, compost, etc., aren't overflowing even now in the midst of a garbage strike.
 
Pause.
 
Take a breath.
 
Despite all that, the green city compost bins got extremely smelly in the heat on Friday and over Shabbos, so today I decided to smuggle their contents to the apartment where we're cat-sitting.  There has GOT to be a silver lining to the horrible, thankless task, right?
 
Anyway, Ted did the awful deed but I got a full report.  (he went back to stare in the bin a few times)
 
Maggots.
 
Maggoty maggots.  Squirming in the bin.
 
I have seen maggots.  I can imagine maggots.
(once in my youth I left a shabbos chicken carcass sitting for two weeks in the heat of summer and came back to wash the dishes - where had we been eating for two weeks?!? - and it was maggoty in the bones and the jelly-gravy-sauce still left in the pan)
 
Sheer, primal, revulsion.  Gack.  Shudder.
 
Anyway, he bagged them in a yellow garbage bag, washed his hands, bagged the bag in another bag and then we slipped the whole slippery mess into a cloth grocery bag so we could smuggle it undetected into the building.
 
Mission accomplished - the smelly garbage is gone.
 
Ewwwwww....
 
I left the bin open in the rain to rinse it out, and have now left it upended over the compost pile to fully drain and "air."
I'm a big believer in "airing."
 
There is nothing but sun and rain to wash away the stink and maggots.

Sweet, sweet, sweet potato how-to

The further adventures of our rooted sweet potato!

Sweet potato vine is one of the trendiest outdoor “fill” plants for containers at the moment. 

But those are “fancy” varieties with purple or lime-green foliage, and you pay a premium for them… Why bother, when you can get huge quantities of a lovely trailing green-leafed specimen for nothing?  (nothing, that is, if you choose a sweet potato that got too old and would have been composted anyway!)

Sweet potato (ipomea batatas) is closely related to morning glory (ipomea something-or-other), which is also famous for its lovely foliage.  (there’s also the climbing annual White Cypress Vine, ipomea quamoclit, that I tried to grow purely for its bizarre name, but the seed – bought, brand-new, in a home store garden centre! – never sprouted at all.  :-( )

Anyway.  Bitterness aside.  We must carry on, despite occasional gardening disappointment.

I started this in a glass of water about mid-May, so it’s taken a while, but the shoots got to about ten inches high, clambering all over the dining-room windows, so I decided it was time to move them on.

You could always just take the viney sweet potato and stuff the whole thing in a pot of soil… that would be attractive enough.

But from what I’ve read (and never tried!) the leafy, viney bits themselves are actually called “slips” and each have the potential – given the right conditions - to become an individual sweet potato plant.  WELL.  Given the choice between ONE plant and LOTS of plants, I of course chose MORE, more, MORE!!!

sunday in june 008So:  starting with a rooted sweet potato, break off all the promising-looking slips.  Just snap them gently where they meet the potato.  Here, you can see a couple of bare “eyes” where I have taken off the slips.  Apparently, new slips will grow out of the potato almost ad infinitum:  we’ll see.

 

 

 

 

sunday in june 012Now here are all the slips, laid out neatly in a row on the soil.  Most are long, a couple are pretty shrimpy still.

I used regular container soil mixed with homemade compost and a bit of cow manure.  Basically, what I had on hand.  If I had perlite or vermiculite left over, I would have used that.  But I don’t.  Ditto for peat. 

And it’s a weird time in the season:  too late to need a whole big bag of it, but too early to find it super-cheap on sale.  So this is what I used.

 

sunday in june 013Now, stuff the slips into the soil.  You could poke a hole first, but mine were quite firm and sturdy and didn’t need help.

Here they all are, poked in a ring around the container.  I only used the biggest ones, about six or seven of them, so the container is pretty sparse at the moment.

Hoping it will fill in quickly…!  :-)))

Like everything on my blog, this is an experiment.  For experimental purposes only.  Professional driver, closed course, and all that. 

sunday in june 015

Don’t tsunday in june 014ry this in your own home garden unless you are absolutely certain you want a mangy-looking planter with what is essentially a past-its-prime food product (moldy old sweet potato) dangling in your face every time you want to haul your bike out of the garage.

Especially during a garbage strike, this planting your food waste thing can get addictive… Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

Capsicum Annuum “Explosive Ember” Hot Pepper

sunday in june 022

Container Magic

sunday in june 005I love this container!  I planted it up earlier this season with a “whirling butterflies” gaura, encliandra (dwarf) fuchsia – which has yet to show any signs of flowers – and a deep, dark coleus.

The gaura, after taking two months to get huge huge huge like an octopus, is finally starting to open up.  You can see one of the delicate little white butterflies here at the tip of one of the wands.

Hope the fuchsia does something before I have to bring it in for the winter…

Blah

sunday in june 002Don’t love yellow flowers, especially this shade, and all of a sudden what I thought was a coneflower opened today to  reveal:  Evening Primrose.  Gaaah!  Hopefully, someone from Freecycle will want them because I want them GONE.  As soon as possible.

I wintersowed a bunch of these and grew them out back last year.  They got a bit leggy with all the shade, then overran the whole place, flopping and dropping their ugly yellowish bits every which way.

Didn’t know I’d put any in the front – maybe there were seeds in the compost?  Or maybe I just forgot.

Yuckety, yuck, yuck, yuck.

One more day of cat-sitting to go!

Friday, June 26, 2009

p.s.

She is coming back on Monday on the condition that I give her a ride in from the airport.  Really MUST get rid of this "pushover" tattoo on my forehead.
Or become a better person, I guess, the thoughtful kind who doesn't mind helping others whether they're her best friend or not.

Lethargic Summer Shabbos Menu

I cannot do the cats any longer.  Cannot.  Cannot.  Really can not.  It is ruining my life.  Ted got scratched badly twice yesterday, and Elisheva today (that seems to be the extent of my cat-related learning from experience:  get out of the way in time to let the assistant get scratched!)
 
Today, I yelled at the littles because they were poking their faces up close to watch as I tried to shove the pills down the cats' throats.  Gaah.  And now I am just SAD.  I guess the broken faucet doesn't help in that direction, though Ted stopped by in a work van (creepy!) to try to get a new part from Home Depot.
 
Their owner called just now to beg me to let her stay "a few more days."  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.
The official excuse is that the last couple of weeks have been quiet because everyone's off school, but now our family's summer programs are beginning on Monday and we will be busy, busy, busy.
 
Of course, that's not entirely true, because of the strike. 
 
What we won't be doing next week:
~ Naomi's Riverdale Farm daycamp, every afternoon except Canada Day, July 1 - waited an hour to register for this!!!  >:-(((
~ Yerachmiel Meir's computer daycamp, two weeks except Canada Day, July 1
~ Naomi Rivka's swimming lessons (Tuesday?)
~ Naomi Rivka's gymnastics class (Thursday?)
~ Going to Riverdale Farm
 
Potential outings next week with all 4 kids:
~ Science Centre (free pass good 'till June 30)
~ Pioneer Village (free pass good 'till June 30)
~ Reptilia (either 2 for 1 deal or $4 off discount coupon)
Fun!
 
And here's the Shabbos menu:
 
Dinner
~ Challah (already mixed, doing 1st rising now)
~ Soup w/kneidlach (YM did kneidl mix already)
~ Potato Kugel
~ Corn (it's not Shabbos without the corn!)
~ Shake n' Bake Chicken (Ted marinated in garlic mayo overnight)
~ Fudge Bar Cake from Sobey's
~ Brownies made by Elisheva
~ Some type of Frozen Dessert made from scratch by me right now once I get off my blog and start working.
 
Lunch
~ Blintzes (from frozen)
~ Garden lettuce, if I can find any that hasn't bolted
~ Hmm... one more type of veggie thing???  Po salad?  Bean salad?  Corn salad???  I'm stuck!
~ Same desserts as at night
 
And there it is.  Now I just have to go make it all and we're set!!!

What’s this? Of *course* it’s erev Shabbos!

You know it’s erev Shabbos when… the high-quality, name-brand faucet handle simply comes off in your hand.

FAUCET 001 FAUCET 004

Please ignore the filth.  My kitchen isn’t that dirty… it always looks bad in close-up.  The inside of that faucet handle looks like something unearthed from the Titanic.

So.  No running water in the kitchen.  Oh, and no a/c.  This is practically like pioneer times, only with Internet.

I know this isn’t a good reason to call Ted to beg him to come home from work… but whatever.  He isn’t returning my call anyway.  Who knows if he even got the message???

Wishing he had a desk job with a phone nearby right about now…

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jfer’s Field of Dreams

If I grow it, corn will come…

That’s right:  now that the warm weather is here, SFG Bed #1 has become my CORNFIELD.  Apparently, it’s better to grow corn in blocks rather than rows (improves cross-pollination, which is essential for the kernels to develop).  So this is basically four rows of four.

Here’s one baby stalk:

rainycompost 008

In a misguided and amateurish effort to grow a Three Sisters Bed (corn, squash, beans), I have substituted Sugar Baby Watermelon and Minnesota Midget canteloupe, along with various cucumbers, for the traditional squash.  Squashes take up way more space; my hope is that these viny things will grow around the base of the corn while beans of various kinds grow up the stalks.

 SFG #1 diagonal Sugar Baby Watermelon

Ah, what vivid, green garden fantasies romp through my mind late at night.

Anyway, I gave the corn a couple weeks’ head start and last weekend planted out the beans.  I stuck the cuke and melon seedlings in at the same time as the corn seeds because they were so runty and they would have died otherwise.  They still haven’t grown much, but they haven’t died.

In Jfer’s Field of Dreams, that’s what counts.  What doesn’t kill you makes you greener.

SFG Update

Looking more lush, but blighted as usual… leaf miners in the chard (I cut it down in the hope against hope that it will grow back), stunted beets, bolted spinach, bizarre fungi…  leaving me even more doggedly determined to make something work this year!

Planted various beans in both beds (late, late, late, like everything in this year’s garden) and tomatoes in bed #2.  My next post will describe my latest and ultimate flight of fantasy:  Jfer’s Field of Dreams in SFG Bed #1.

Pics below. For an ongoing slideshow of the progress in these SFG beds, just visit this post.

Square Foot Garden Bed #1:

SFG #1 SFG #1 diagonal 

Square Foot Garden Bed #2:

SFG #2 diagonal SFG #2

Yes, I know I never straightened out those humpy-looking blind slats.  Face it, it’s almost July, it’s hot out, and I’m tired.  I honestly don’t think it’s getting done… this year, at least.  :-)

Taking Advantage

May I just say how much I really, really, REALLY dislike when kids assume that stuff is "theirs" for the taking.  Just opened my camera to take out and recharge the batteries only to discover a pair of - ALKALINE!  Drat!  Looked in the charger:  no batteries!  Looked in the case:  only spare alkaline batteries!
 
Drat, drat, drat.  She may have been sneaking them for use in her GP2X or just sticking them in her camera or various other appliances... and now I have to try (and likely fail) to track down all my nice NiCads, including the Nikon ones Mary bought me that I've had forever.  Longer than the stupid Nikon camera they came with.
 
Can't even strangle her - she went out swimming with friends.
 
Double drat:  she Googled Elisheva's graduation and found my blog.
Never thought about that happening.  What do other blogging parents do???
(maybe that's why they use pseudonyms for themselves and their kids?  doh!)

Broken Peony

rainycompost 016

In the end, we only got one blossom this year.  And now, the rain got it and it’s finished.

Something’s Rottin’!

I finally declared Composter #2 to be officially FULL. 

We’ve been piling stuff in since March, and I topped it off the other day with two bags full of Starbucks grounds (they just told me to dig through the dumpster – what a privilege!).

So with YM’s help, I shovelled out all the “finished” compost in Composter #1, leaving just a bit in the bottom, and have declared it the ACTIVE composter:

Composter #1 - new "active" Composter #2 - let it rot! 

I’m hoping three months will be the average turn-around time, meaning (counting in my head:  “July…August…September”) that by this fall, I will have another bin full of compost to spread around the beds before winter.  That plus a carload of fresh horse manure rotting on the beds over the winter ought to do the trick nicely.  (I send Ted to pick it up at a local stable)

Hmm… not sure how we will transport the manure, though, now that I’m growing stuff in just about every available bin and container.  Cross that bridge when we come to it.

Here’s the garbage can of “finished” compost.  I’m using quotes because it is still very coarse.  Hopefully, useable, and most particles at least have become unrecognizable.  Plus, I  need the space in the composter.

"finished" compost "finished" compost 

Speaking of rotting…

From the “every year a new and different freaky fungus” department:  this year’s freaky fungus award goes to this “button cluster” fungus brewing in Square Foot Bed #2:

rainycompost 005 rainycompost 006

When new, they look like clumps of buttons, but then they “break” open, probably releasing a bazillion spores, and then look like dead husks, which they probably are.

These things freak me out but at least it’s not Dog Vomit Fungus again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Garden roundup

Today’s high:  definitely petunias!  The smell of them as I walk through the door in the evenings… mmm… they smell, well, as I keep saying, like CANDY.

garden 018

Since I blew my original stock of seed on this year’s Purim petunias, I’m desperately hoping to save some from the plants this year.  HOWEVER, the exact source of seed continues to elude me.  It seems, from what I’ve read, like this pod thing at the centre will expand, turn brown, and fill with hundreds of tiny seeds.  We’ll see.  I have never seen any of my petunias do anything like that.

Today’s garden low?  Maybe just the heat and wiltiness of everything.  Showers expected tomorrow afternoon – yay!

More of what’s going on around the garden… though in June, it’s really hard to keep up and I’m definitely missing stuff, because there are so many highs!

garden 030Peas a-poppin’!!!  Must remember to mark off one vine of my favourite and let it go to seed… ie dry out and save the peas from the pods when they are past their eatin’ prime.

 

 

 

 

 

garden 022Taters tate-in’!  Once again, potatoes are flowering.  According to potato legend, this means the potatoes are now forming and can even be harvested for small, “new” potatoes.  However, this is NOT according to my bitter personal experience the past two years trying to get something more than a few runty spuds out of my garden.  I personally will wait until the vines die back and see what we have when I dump out the bags…

Bah-lank-et Fah-lah-wer!!!  Last winter, February 24, 2008 to be exact, wanting to see these shocking bright colours in my garden, I sowed these seeds into little peat pots.  Gaillardia is supposed to flower the first year from seed, but whatever… guess I don’t have the touch.  But finally, finally, I do have blanket flowers!  Okay, one.  But there are more coming.  Three on one plant, two on the other.  :-)))

   garden 032 garden 033

Here’s what they looked like as babies, sprouting last March.  I’m so proud!!

So much going on around here, but my laundry awaits and Ted wants the computer…

Even EASIER cheaper than ever Sub-I planter

(self-watering, that is!)

Let’s just see if it works.

garden 009

Ingredients:

~ Large tub (free by the side of the road yesterday)

~ Recycle bin (old model; free from the city)

~ 12 small square pots (free at curb; shown upside-down here but in the end I used them right-side up)

~ Braided garden twine for wick (already had it in the garden)

~ Strips of old t-shirt fabric (not shown) for additional wick-power

~ Strip of capillary matting from Burpee self-watering seed starter for extra wick-power

~ Potting soil ($6 at Fortino’s)

Basically, you thread the wick through the holes in the recycle bin, stand the recycle bin on top of the pots and let ‘er rip.

 garden 010 garden 012 garden 015 garden 017

After I took these pictures, I decided the wick maybe wasn’t wicky enough, so I added a couple of strips of cotton t-shirt fabric in the hope that it will wick more wickily.

I’ve planted it up with a Sugar Baby watermelon seedling (pretty stunted; I hope it takes off now that it’s in a big planter) along with an Ildi tomato.  Grow, babies, grow!  Ironically, now that summer’s here, there’s not much summer left…

garden 024

Happy now because I’ve wanted to do something growy in these two leftover recycle bins for a while… and now I have!  (well, one of them)

Erev Shabbos Homegrown Bouquets

Two this time – we ate at my mother’s house so I brought the one on the left to her.   The salvias were pretty droopy; they’re just about finished for the year now.

garden 005 garden 007

Monday, June 22, 2009

A movie? What's that?

We never go to movies; well, almost never.  But tomorrow night, my sister has agreed to babysit, so now the big question is... WHAT MOVIE?
 
And the other question is, how can I cash in these 4-bazillion "Scene" points I have accumulated using my debit card so the movie is actually free?
 
The problem with NEVER going to movies is that I not only don't know what's playing, but also that I have no clue what each movie is about, even to sort them roughly, by genre?  Okay, I've heard of UP - the kids went to see it last week - but everything else, no clue.  Year One?  What's that about?  It becomes a laborious process of clicking on each moving and reading the review to decide if it's even the kind of movie I might be interested in.  Departures?  Could be some kind of airline comedy, but no, it's some arty Japanese movie that Now Magazine has given 5 stars.  (okay, I can guess about Night at the Museum, having seen the first!)
 
Whatever.  The obvious choice was Star Trek, but all the showtimes are lousy.  Super-late or way too early to get away.
But then there were two movies I really want to see (based on novels I enjoyed, so I recognized the name) are My Sister's Keeper and The Time Traveller's Wife.  Not so much the first, though it's an interesting novel that I've read twice so far, but definitely The Time Traveller's Wife.  I cannot imagine they've done a good job adapting it - the book is so creepy and non-linear.  But it looks intriguing and I loved the book so much I must see the movie either way.
 
So neither of those movies has opened yet.  Of course.
 
And then there's Food, Inc., which is great in theory, but currently playing at only one theatre - which is Cineplex, kind of, but doesn't accept my 4-gazillion "Scene" points, apparently.
Will keep you posted.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Homeschooling Jewish Subjects

In response to a discussion of rabbinic objections to homeschooling in the area of limudei kodesh (Jewish subjects):
"My own fear is that probably many rabbanim would say I'm not qualified in this area.
As a baalas teshuvah, my own awareness of limudei kodesh subjects was VERY limited until my kids started in day school. I have picked up so much over the years: practical things like how to lead kids through the davening, ideas for craft projects, songs for brachos and various yamim tovim, how to read Rashi script... everything I know about Yiddishkeit, I learned from Uncle Moishy. :-)))
At this point, the older kids are far beyond my skills. Sometimes, Elisheva gets frustrated - "why won't you just sit down with me and study Navi!" Okay, maybe if I had some background, I could. She has no concept that an adult would not know elementary-school Navi. These days, I only study with her if she makes up flashcards ahead of time, which actually helps her get her thoughts organized and helps me help her despite my ignorance.
Here's a thing I wrote ten years ago or so about how I began the process of my own Jewish learning as YM started kindergarten (at Yesodei HaTorah - ha ha ha):
http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5760winter/dear%20jennifer.pdf
My fear now, as I embark once again on this elementary school journey (Elisheva graduated from Grade Eight this week, so they're both finished, just as Naomi Rivka is starting), is that I am still so woefully deficient, still so "making it up as I go along" that there is no way I could offer the kind of living Jewish curriculum that a day school run by FFBs could ever do.
Thoughts on how BT/geir parents can make up for a lack of Jewish elementary education...? (perhaps with an eye to countering rabbinic/community opposition)
Good Shabbos, all!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

OMG

We are not even halfway through 2009 and already I have more blog posts in 2009.
 
Maybe I need a shrink, not a blog.

Wow

From the May 2nd, 1930, issue of the Canadian Jewish Review.  This is my grandparents.

GramaPapa_marriage_column

I guess “Lapin fur” is euphemism for BUNNY.

I have never heard of my grandfather’s mother referred to as Jennie!  Her Jewish name was Sheindel.  Did they really call her that???

Here’s the archive site I found it at.

Oh. Well.

Morbidly checked the website of the Jewish funeral home in another city, just in case the person I'm cat-sitting for had lost the relative she went to that city to take care of.  And there it was, right at the top.  Her relative is dead.
 
Don't I just feel terrible, saying the terrible things I said earlier???
On the other hand, I feel immensely relieved that this deal is finite; the awful, AWFUL cat-sitting will end sooner rather than later.
 
It was true, what I wrote.  It is too hard.  I can't do it.
But for a few more days, until she returns, I will have to.

Past-blasting!

paper1Just found this while getting everything off the sinking ship of my old Geocities site (no, I’m not putting a link here; sorry!!!)

It’s a mock “newspaper” Ted and I did for my father’s 60th birthday, in 2001. 

The articles are semi-lame, semi-humourous in the “year of your birth” type of style – I thought it was quite fitting, given his love for Rice Krispies, that their mascot Snap got two new buddies, Crackle and Pop, in the year my father was born.  Hard to imagine him all alone now.

I mostly love it for the cartoon Ted did of my father.  The caption is not entirely meaningful, but the image and facial expression are so, so apt:

paper1clip

Here’s a thing about my father that everybody in his immediate family knows already:  if the cereal box showed a type of fruit, that was the “right” fruit for that cereal.  You weren’t allowed to have it with anything else.

Like this cool vintage Corn Flakes box… strawberries it is!

  temp_cerealbox3

However, it did just occur to me that it’s almost ALWAYS strawberries.  Very few cereal boxes, in North America, at least, show mangoes chopped on top of cereal, or grapes, or even bananas.  If it’s Raisin Bran, there are raisins.  But mostly, the Rice Krispies, Special K, Cheerios… they all show strawberries.

But I guess the other important thing about my father is how seriously he took that “serving suggestion.”  If it didn’t show strawberries on the box, it didn’t need strawberries, or any fruit at all.  No blueberries, or even strawberries.  He would say it, just like that.  “It doesn’t need it.”  Which means it’s absolutely, unequivocally (but gently) forbidden to have it that way in his presence.

temp_cerealbox2And speaking of strawberries:  this one was NOT cereal, ever.  Even if it had the word “cereal” printed on the box, we were NEVER under any circumstances allowed to eat sugar cereals as a breakfast food.  Or with milk.  Ever.  It was to be eaten, dry, as a snack.

My mother probably read it in some kind of parenting magazine, but it never made any sense to me.

Eli and I would sneak it late at night… in a bowl… and then, when nobody was looking, sneak some milk into the bowl.

Sneaky!

The other big cereal “sneak” was waking up 15 minutes before my father so I could go downstairs and put a couple of spoonsful of sugar at the bottom of the bowl, then add cereal and be chomping away happily on my sugary milky cereal by the time he came into the kitchen, none the wiser.

Like I said…sneaky!

Sub-irrigated Planters Update

Three weeks and a bit later, and here’s what we’ve got…

Planter 1:  Children’s Garden Roma tomato, plus store-brought broccoli seedling.

grad pics 2009-06-17 050

Planter 2:  “Early Tiny” cherry tomato, plus Sweet Chocolate Sweet Pepper.

 grad pics 2009-06-17 051

I know those tomatoes look a bit small, still, but pretty astonishing considering how runty (really just wilted little four-leaf sprigs) they were when I put them in.

BUT the broccoli is the hands-down winner of the Jawdropper Veggie Award.  I have tried to grow broccoli before, and never had nice foliage like that, or anything resembling a big conventional broc-head.  No evidence of flowering yet; it’s probably a bit early.  But it is LOVING the non-stop irrigation.

(and, okay, maybe I’m “overwatering” since this planter has yet to run out of water even once since I filled it initially, but I can’t imagine draining it would help the plants grow any better…?)

It’s not just that it’s growing better.  I bought this broccoli in a 4-pack, and distributed the “spare” 3 in ordinary soil in various locations around the garden (another one of my weird, uncontrolled plant experiments). 

Two are doing “okay” but haven’t gained much size since they were planted.  One has been almost completely skeletonized by something – bugs?  slugs?

SO… life in a self-watering planter is definitely good for broccoli.  But it could be because of the nutritious, light soil mixture, or because of the constant moisture, or because it’s away from the majority of in-ground garden pests.  Or some combination – healthy plants are naturally more resistant to attack.  We’ll NEVER know… :-)))

Fruit from seeds

A quick update on the fruits I am growing from seeds.  Well, two plants / trees:

~ A lemon, just a plain old lemon.  I presprouted a bunch of seeds, but only one made it.  At left, on May 26, and at right, yesterday.

Lemon tree from seed lemon tree - four leaves now!

~ And… still not dead… my MANGO!  Even bigger & better than before, with several new leaves about to burst forth.  So pretty, so glossy!

mango - new leaves, not dead yet 

Have I mentioned I hate mammals today?  I will never form attachments with anything mammal ever again.  Ugh.  Cats, rodents of all kinds – I’m surrounded.

Now what’s for supper…?