Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Been A While....

It's been a while since I've posted anything!  Ever since I got the coins rolled and the school supplies ordered, things got busy.

Quite a bit has happened, and the best way to illustrate that is to see it...  So, here are some of my favorite pics from the last two weeks or so....

This Palo Verde sets off the storm behind it beautifully.  August has been a good month for monsoon-type storms.  This one was the afternoon of the 16th.

This magnificent scene was on the other side of our mountain (our side) the same evening as the Palo Verde storm above.  A little change in locale, a little change in light, and a little change in cloud formations and voila, a whole new experience!

This was the very next evening!

About a week later, I had a chance to snap some shots of lightning!

Another one....!

Talk about lucky!  Another one!

This was a very active storm on the 27th, so it made getting some lightning shots a smidgen easier.  The patience it took to get these was worth it!  I love lightning and thunder!

Here are some changes in the garden in only two weeks...

This pumpkin pic was taken on August 15th.

The same two on August 30th!

August 14th...

And August 30th!

Besides the pumpkins being the most exciting to me, the cabbages are a source of eager anticipation.  They're beautiful.  I've never grown cabbage before, so I am holding great hopes for them.

Look at these colors!!!!!  Did I mention how beautiful they are!  Even better when they have something to contrast with.  Icy cool blue-greens with fiery-hot red oranges!  Nature is full of fine art.

I had to throw up some chicken wire, no not for you Miss Hen, but to protect my cabbage from the dogs!  I came out to the garden a couple of weeks ago to find a great big chomp mark in the middle of a newly forming head of cabbage!  OOOHHH!  I was mad!!!!

Other more welcome visitors to the garden included butterflies!

Doesn't he look like a King?  He's the biggest and most majestic to visit the garden!

Several lizards are welcome residents of the garden.

The Black Eyed Peas were yielding beautifully since around August 15th and started petering out just within the last week....

This is what they looked like yesterday.  The Zinnias are starting to flop in on top of the bare peas.

August 13th, near the end of the sunflower's glory...

...to setting seed, here on August 30th.

Now, for a sore subject, my tomatoes.  Since my last post on the eeevil beetles, I was gone for a couple of days, and couldn't tend the garden.  In those two days, the beetles ate up almost every tomato leaf there was.  Most tomato plants died.  Others are still hanging on for dear life.  I have, however, been able to harvest quite a bit of tomatoes rescued from struggling vines.

This basket you see here was filled with about six very full loads of tomatoes, so I guess I can't complain too much!

Since a tomato vacated this space, I plan on sowing lettuce seeds.  I'll try my luck and see what I get.

Until then, we are now into our second week of home school!

Despite working out some kinks, it looks like a promising year!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lazy Summer Days

Well, not that lazy.  The garden is producing, but not at any spectacular rates.  It feels like a waiting game.  I see the possible upcoming harvest with great anticipation.  Then something happened a little over a week ago.

I don't know what they really are, I just call them evil.  Actually, I think they are beetles.  They look very similar to stink bugs.  And they came into my garden ravenous.  They seem to prefer the tomato plants.  They will chew up all the tomato leaves then reluctantly move on to other plants.  Last year was a nightmare.  They were innumerable, hungry and unstoppable.  All my tomato plants were covered in them!  I called my neighbor in desperation and asked her what to do.  She said to try water and vinegar, or water and dish soap, and if that doesn't work, I'd have to resort to chemical warfare.  Ralph and I found the water and dish soap suffocated them.  We sprayed and stomped them.  They came again.  We sprayed and stomped.  They kept coming!  I refused to use any chemical controls.  I figured if I was growing food for healthier meals, I wasn't going to feed my kids food I grew with chemicals.  So, last year, I harvested only a handful of tomatoes before the beetles killed them all.  This year however, they haven't come in the hordes of last year's invasion.  Mostly I pick them off by hand and stomp them.  I sprayed a little water and dish soap, but hand picking them has been easier.  In the last few days, I've only found a few each evening.  Hopefully this is a good sign and they won't come back with a vengeance!

Meanwhile, the garlic and cabbage are doing great!

The sunflowers continue to bloom magnificently.

The two largest pumpkins are ripening quickly!

And this same single plant is setting at least three more little pumpkins!

It's a big plant!

The tomatoes survived the mini invasion of beetles, and are rewarding us with beautiful, ripe, tasty tomatoes!  Nothing like fresh home grown tomatoes!

The Black Eyed Peas are putting out bean pods now.  I can't wait to cook 'em!  There are so few of them at this point that I have to save them up.  They dry up quickly and store so easily.

The bag on the left contains the dry beans, and the one on the right are being stored in the fridge awaiting more fresh beans to make a nice little pot-o-beans!  These beans are at their best when you fry up some bacon and mix it in with the cooked beans.  Oh so good!  Perfect companions.

The tomatoes above represent the few which have survived a day or two, but they'll be eaten real soon!

This is a chick pea salad which is well complemented with home grown tomtoes.  This recipe is quick, easy and delicious!  I found it in a recent Woman's Day Magazine. 

  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice, fresh
  • 1/2 tsp salt, I use sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 can (16 oz.) chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
The recipe calls for toasting the cumin in a pan for a minute, but I don't bother.

In a small bowl, wisk lime juice, salt, pepper and cumin until well combined.  Slowly add the olive oil, wisking until blended.

Place onion in a large bowl and pour in dressing.  Place celery, tomato and chickpeas on top of onion without mixing.

Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Add feta to bowl, toss to combine.

Serve and enjoy peacefully as you slowly savor the bright clean flavors!

I had no feta on hand, but it didn't stop me from enjoying it for lunch today anyway!

The kids had their favorite lunch, open faced PB&J sandwiches on homemade wheat bread.  And I enjoyed a lunch fit for a queen!

Life is good!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rollin', rollin', rollin',

...keep them wheels rollin'!  Actually, besides not finding time to unwind since I wrapped up school, I've been rollin' coins!  I had no idea we had so much!  And we haven't even put a dent in the pennies.  Those pesky pennies.

This is what I took to the bank.  Doesn't look like much does it?  Well, try putting it all into a plastic tote and then try to pick it up!  Ha! 

What I'm curious about now that I've done this, is what's the most in coins anyone of you have ever rolled before?  So curious!  Because not only was I surprised when I had only rolled half of these, but my hubby was shocked when I told him how much there was!  We even rediscovered a little more in a small box we had tucked out of the way, which we haven't rolled yet. 

So, can you guess how much is pictured above?  What's the most you ever rolled in your own loose change?  What did you get to do with your 'extra' cash?  Or, what do you do with your loose change instead?  I'm sure there will be some interesting stories just waiting to be told!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Heroism in Everyday Life

Boy, has it been overcast!  The sun has barely shined.  We've had clouds and rain as if it were the Pacific Northwest!  With all this rain, you'd think the Big Sandy would flood, but I guess since it's been a more regular drizzle, it soaks in better.  So all we got in the Sandy was this...

It wasn't even all that soft.  We aren't complaining, we really need the rain.  And it's been beautiful. 

The coldest night was 57 degrees!

In contrast, there were only thin clouds yesterday as we went for an unplanned trip to Fort Mohave.  Ralph got a call to check a generator, so we took a detour.  Nothing unusual, since very little is predictable.  Inspired by the clouds and the stark rock formations, I couldn't pass up the chance to take pictures.

There is nothing quite like the beauty of the Southwest.

I wish I could have seen it all as it was forming into what we see today.

On our way home, Ralph asks me if I want to go home via the normal route or the long way home.  Well of course I think the long way home is the most exciting choice.  What other new things can we discover?

Well, it didn't take long, here's one right here!  There is nothing, and I mean nothing more fascinating and romantic than a stark lonely desert and a long train!  Where is it going?  What's around the bend?  Where would I end up if I jumped on?  Something to find and discover...

This photo represents a painting I've wanted to do for years now.  There is something here I cannot express with words.  Which is why I'm a painter...  The loneliness comes from the emptiness.  But the emptiness represents minimalism and simplicity.  It also represents a tough resiliency I admire deeply.  The signs along the way comfort me, that I am not completely lost and that hope is my driving force.  If you are a creative person, you also know how philosophical we can be!

And what a great painting this would inspire!  I've lived another unique and special day, I give thanks, and barrel forward into yet another exciting mystery, what I lovingly refer to as tomorrow!  Paintings are just philosophy, but with pictures.  "A picture is worth a thousand words."

In another part of the sky you see this.  The desert has softened into pastels.  A desert may be tough and resilient, but it can also be gentle and relaxed.

As the sun sinks further below the horizon, the colors intensify.  One last Hurrah!  In other words, the desert can be flamboyant too!

Inspired by the sunset, Ralph winds us through the dirt roads he is so familiar with and we arrive at this windmill.  Another symbol of the Southwest, set against a fading sunset.  Yes, a desert has water too, which means life, and lots of it!

The desert is a sort of heroic archetype.  I see it as a symbol of what really matters in our character.  Not only do we survive, but we celebrate, not letting the hardships get us down, but letting them strengthen us.