The garden

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This entry is all about our garden. Consider this a warning to those who couldn't care – less to skip this post.

I just want to start by saying how much I love our vegetable garden. Early in the Spring, Billy built me 4 raised beds 4 feet by 8 feet, and 12 inches deep. We sunk them in a bit, and each needed just over a cubic yard of soil to fill. Awesome. The advantages to having a raised bed with good soil included the following:

The growing period is extended
Fewer weeds
No compacted walk ways to weed
Higher yield
Less bending
Easy to access

It is the best garden I've ever had. I believe that all gardening is based on trial and error. You learn something every year. My first garden was at the cottage. It was only about 3 feet by 10 feet, and recieved full morning sun. I planted way too many tomato plants. (The seeds were incorrectly labeled, and all the plant except one were cherry tomatoes) Neighbors were encouraged to raid it any time they wanted to, and they did! I also grew green beans, which worked great because I really like green beans, and I was poor, and green beans go with anything. Radishes and carrots were ravished by the wildlife, so it was quite limited. I later realized that it was poorly located, as it was a favorite spot for male partiers to use as a urinal…

Our second garden was in Cottam. It was located at the very back of our 200 feet deep lot. it was huge! (about 12 feet by 45 feet) It had full morning sun, and lovely afternoon shade. At one time, the previous owner thought it a good idea to dump gravel, broken concrete blocks, and screenings in the garden. The garden was also infested with wild garlic chives that sprung up everywhere, and were impossible to control or pull out. The soil was borderline terrible. We needed 150 feet of hose to water it… We grew (again) way too many tomato plants, and failed miserably with shrunken, deformed green peppers. Jalepenos kicked butt, and cucumbers did well. We were never able to enjoy rhubarb or asparagus, as we moved before the two year waiting period.

Last year's garden, before the raised beds, was located at the back corner of our lot (150 feet of hose again came in handy), in a depressed area about 15 feet by 30 feet in size. Combine the low area with clay soil and it was either rock hard with huge, dry cracks, or flooded and swamp like. We planted way too many tomato plants, but canned some, and made salsa, had a few cucumbers, beautiful sunflowers, Black Eyed Susans, (which I successfully transplanted this year into the landscaping), pathetic green and jalepeno peppers, and 1 watermelon the size of a soft ball. It was impossible to keep the garden weeded, the paths were rock hard and riddled with stubborn weeds. The garden's end came when Billy drained the hot tub in August, and all the chemical water sat in the garden. I never quite trusted the tomatoes after that, not have I ever seen tomatoes that colour…

Needless to say, our garden this year is incredible, but I have already learned some lessons, and will improve next year. Here's what we have goin' on:

Bed A
Spinach (all done now…)
Cherry Tomatoes (Holy Hannah tons of the little buggers)
Asparagus (next year we can actually eat it…)
Cherry Bomb hot peppers (never had one…)
Swiss Chard (favorite of bugs the world over)
Beets (just canned)
Brussell Sprouts (not doing that well)
Green peppers (third crop… not doing so well)

Bed B
Green beans (good)
Cucumbers (second crop, take up a ton of room despite trellis)
Jalepenos (awesome, huge yield)
Other peppers (can't remember their name just now…)
Red Chilies (starting to turn red just now)
Watermelons (have two the size of cantelopes… the kids can't wait to eat them)

Bed C
20 roma or plum tomatoes (doing REALLY well)
Peas (all done and yanked out)
radishes (done and done)
Okra (for my mom, not doing great, you'd have to grow a ton to make a meal)
Herbs, all grown from seed except chives and rosemary – basil, parsley, mint, thyme

Bed D
Cucumbers (1st crop, doing really well)
3 varieties of tomato plants (including the 5 1/2 foot high early girl, or as my mom calls it, 'the tomato plant that ate Cincinati)
Green peppers (first time they've grown well for me!)
Spinach, second crop (done)
Random 3rd crop peppers plants (too hot to grow)

Okay, that must have been really boring to read, and I'm sorry, but this garden is important to me. I love seeing things grow from seed. I love eating what I've nurtured and cared for. (that's why no kids, HAHA!) It is a good feeling. I'm already looking forward to next year. Later in the season, I'm going to post some changes for next year, and lessons I've learned… don't worry, I'll warn you to skip it too….

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Some observations

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If you live in Essex County, you know that today was hot. I think it reached about 97* F, and apparently the humidex was a balmy 117* F. (I totally admit that I do not know the Celsius temperature…) That's pretty hot.

I checked out the weather channel this afternoon, and it was warmer in the 'Metro Detroit' area than anywhere on the West Coast, and East Coast with the exception of Washington DC. Today's heat was comparable to places in Arizona and Texas. Funny, it was only 6 short months ago that it was 0* F with a wind chill of -25* F. Crazy.

So anyway, the heat really brought me down today, I felt completely drained, although I was only in the heat while swimming with Myles in the pool, hanging up laundry, and observing the frogs.

Here are some thoughts for today:

Do not can beets when it is 97* F outside. Standing over a steaming pot of beets, and dealing with hot jars straight from the oven is not fun.

It is not only acceptable, but encouraged that males in the town of Essex wear wife beaters and flip flops in public.

Nobody wants to sit at the Grand's outdoor patio on days like today.

Halia likes to lie in the sun, on the burning hot deck during the warmest part of the day.

Mike and Lilly (mom's dogs) both know that the side gate to the pool rarely completely shuts, and a cool, refreshing dip is only steps away.

Dogs don't like having cleaning solution shot into their ears. They should relate this to sneaking into the pool.

It was 90*F at 8pm tonight.

If you buy a kid a new boogie board, they don't know that it is hot outside. They only want to be in the pool.

The cherry tomato plant is out of control. There is probably 120-150 tomatoes on it.

People who have air conditioning in their car tend to drive 5 kms under the speed limit. They do it on purpose, because they know that my A/C is broken.

People leaving the Dairy Freez forget how to drive. Perhaps they think that their soft serve ice cream will protect as they pull out in front of me.

Tim Horton's is packed at all hours despite the heat. People still walk down mainstreet when it's 92* F drinking a cup of nice hot coffee.

Well that's about it. I know I had more observations, but my brain is fried. Did I mention that tomorrow is supposed to be hotter? Still, I'm not looking forward to winter… maybe just to hug a snowman…

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When you speak…

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Everyday I strive to be a little better than the day before. In this personal journey, I look for inspiration in others, as well as faults in others, so that I can improve myself.

Communication is obviously the most important way we interact with friends and family. Are you good at expressing yourself? Are you a good listener? Is your conversation positive and enjoyable, or are you bringing, or putting someone down?

Here are some types of people I've noticed lately:

The Back Patter

These are the people that want to let you know how fabulous others think they are. Often these interjections into conversation come out of the blue, and leave me wondering, 'what is your point?'. Are they trying to convince me that they are a fantastic human being? It results in the opposite. They come off as self absorbed, shallow, and attention piggies.

Mrs. I. Me

These people cannot stop talking about themselves. They often interupt and change the subject back to them. 'Enough about me, more about me'. Do they hear themselves? It doesn't seem to bother them that nobody cares.

The One Upper

These people often interrupt a story with a phrase such as, 'oh that's nothing!' or 'Better than that was the time…' or 'the best was the time…' They have completely disregarded your story because they have a better one.

Waiting to Exhalers

These people have no idea what you're saying because they are thinking of they are going to say next. As soon as there is the smallest break in the conversation, they interject their brillant idea. I'm quite guilty of this, and I've been trying to truly focus on the conversation at hand.

Mother Superior

These people like to slide in little stabs at you in the conversation. If they are called on it, they'll claim that you've misunderstood them. Often the tone they use is important.

The 1/2 of a Couple

These people appear to be totally engrossed in a conversation with you, (with perhaps a slightly vague expression on their faces) but every once in a while, they interupt you to butt into their spouse's conversation at the next table.

The Rambler

These people go on and on and on and on. It takes them 30 minutes to tell as story that could have been related in 4. Often their audience have glazed looks on their faces.

The Gossip

These people, (I'm guilty) talk badly about others, often to make themselves appear better. I feel that the worse of these violators talk about your friends or family, making you wonder a) how do they talk about you when you're not around, b) are they saying this in hopes that I mention it to my friend/family member, c) if they think because I'm listening that I'm agreeing with them.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when talking:

Does this person actually care about what I'm saying?
Am I rambling?
Am I insulting them when talking about friends/family?
Am I looking for validation, or just expressing an opinion?
Is this entire conversation revolving around only me?

I think that the most important aspect of being a good friend is being a good listener and I hope to do better. If I'm not, just give me the glazed look, and hopefully I'll get the hint…

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Queen of the frogs

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In case you didn't know, I am the self-appointed Queen of the Frogs. (I should mention that I don't know the difference between frogs and toads, so I may be the Queen of the toads, but frogs sound better. I will not let my ignorance go unchecked, so after I write this entry, I'll google it.)

Just about everyday I walk over to my mom's pool to dump the filter, and just about everyday, there are frogs floating in it. Some days there are several, (the record is 7), other days there are none.

Occasionally, there is a stiff little froggie corpse at the bottom of the basket. The little guy just couldn't swim against the constant pull of the filter. This is why I wake up at 7 everyday, wondering if I could possibly save a frog life. Imagine my surprise, when, as I was preparing for a frog funeral, the frog in question, moved his leg! Could this rigid amphibian be alive? Vague memories hover on the fringe my consciousness. Words like 're-animation', and 'winter survival' are close to my lips. Yes! Frogs can basically drown, and live again!

So, I realize that I am not the frog savior I deem myself to be. I am a caretaker for the undead. How dark!

Now I need you to understand, that I don't particularity like frogs. They freak me out! They can move really quick, they're jumpy, bumpy and wart like. I don't touch the frogs. They're bodies are ruddy and cold, and I'm concerned that they'd jump at me, and I'd inadvertently smush them. I do like to observe them, but they don't like to be watched or seen. They like to conceal themselves, (part of their sneaky behavior..) and be part of the landscaping. This frustrates me, because as Queen of the frogs, my life duty is to protect them. Why must they hide from me? Do they not love their sovereign? It is a lonely lot for me as their overseer…

I admit that currently I know very little about normal frog behavior. I do hope to learn, so I can speak for my subjects, and rule them well. If I could ask a frog anything, I would like to know what attracts them to the pool after a rainfall. There are considerably more frogs in the filter after a storm. I have developed a theory: I believe that frogs love the rain, it makes them want to party. They gather all their friends together for a poolside soirre. The martinis flow like water. Eventually the frogs get tipsy, and with the encouragement of their drunken mates, they try to walk on two legs. Into the pool they go! That's when they hope and pray for the existence of the mythical frog queen, because, although they can reanimate themselves, it has to be a pain in the ass when they're hungover.

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Appreciation, part one

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Appreciation is something that is very important to me. I’m not saying that I need someone to bury me with praise, but I do occasionally value a well timed thank-you.

Last night, instead of heading to our regular post golf hang out, we ventured over to Jim and Kim’s for some cocktails, chips and dips, and a swim. It was great, and I have every intention of calling Kim later today and again thank her for having us over, and congratulate her on being a great host.

A huge pet peeve of mine is when someone does not acknowledge your efforts. An award, reciprocation, or a monetary payback is usually not required. However, a person can feel quite used when time and again, friends or family are take you for granted.

Here is a great example. When vacationing in Tennessee, I think it is such a generous, kind gesture, when a guest of mine, a friend, offers to buy me lunch, a few drinks or pay for a round of golf. To me, it is their way of saying, “thanks, I acknowledge that this is your home, and I’m grateful to have a little getaway, where we can be together, and not pay for a hotel.”

I would feel uncomfortable if a friend raved about how wonderful I am, bought me an expensive gift, or anything of the sort. I do however, need to know that I’m not being taken for granted. I may even refuse to accept their token offer, but I acknowledge and appreciate their gratitude.

It makes me sick when I see or hear of people being blatantly used. In a recent conversation with Billy, I was angered by the lack of appreciation shown to him. (A few words of thanks, or token gesture would have easily annulled this feeling of being used.) Do these people think he owes them? Is it that they've been friends for so long they just expect his generosity? Is it hard for them to say thanks?

Perhaps this thanks was not articulated or offered because they know, ot think that Billy would have refused any gesture, but by not expressing their recognition of his efforts, my husband feels slighted. Unappreciated. Used.

Shouldn't we make friends feel like friends? Is it hard for some to convey thanks?

If a person deserves a pat on the back, or a simple thanks, honor your friendship by acknowledging it!

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Rants, recants and favorite pants

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This has been a great summer so far, and I've been unusually happy, and not feeling tremendous guilt.

Here are some reasons for my happy mood:

* Cherries, sweet corn and Klassen blueberries
* Hot, steamy summer weather, (I don't feel ripped off this year), and the time to enjoy it
* Recent paychecks make me feel that I'm contributing to the finances
* Husband, family, dog and friends are all healthy and well

Things that are good include:

* Myles and Mackenzee at summer camp for one week
* Mom's pool at 80~F
* New, awesome golf clubs and the prospect of going to Ridgetown to golf this week
* There hasn't been to many useless group pages this week
* New outdoor furniture
* Hell's Kitchen and Big Brother All Stars – this summer's guilty pleasure
* Taking a break from reading 100 classic novels. Currently engrossed with 'In Silence' by Erika Spindler. (never heard of her…)
* Having the time to enjoy above mentioned items
* Lack of weeds in the garden
* Billy home from vacation
* Not having to wear so much make-up due to good tan
* Continual access to fresh basil in the garden
* The money tree and fruitless mulberry tree are growing really well
* Gray Old navy joggies and new Tennessee cozies
* Personalized licence plates in the mail
* The 3 frogs that live in our tiny pond
* Dunkin' Donut commercials
* Halia exhausting herself playing with Lily
* Close to selling a couple of houses

Things that are annoying me lately inlcude the following:

* Lack of A/C in the car
* Chrysler's Dr. Z commercials
* My hair being in constant disarray from excessive swimming
* Having water in my ears
* Feeling hung over for no good reason
* Disappearing friends
* My poor spelling
* Oprah reruns
* Discovering that most of my shorts are getting tighter…

Things I feel guilty about:

* Weeds under the deck and behind the hot tub
* Not selling more houses, (for my clients, not especially for the $)
* Not resolving my orthodics issue
* The messy garage

The balance is really on the good side of things. Life is good, no, it is really great!

As of last night we've decided not to have the weekly August Friday After Work Happy Hour Parties, for the following reasons:

* It is a ton of work, (house cleaning, yard, garden, food preparation, calling, mailing, inviting, stressing, etc.)
* Billy is on call 2 of the 4 Fridays
* It is expensive (food, booze, postage, decorations, etc)
* We have been so busy this summer, it would be great to enjoy August
* We have been lucky enough to see most of our friends this summer

I think we'll have one good sized party in August, perhaps incorporating elements planned for the August parties, (mojito mania, golf – hit the grain bin, poker, etc)

I feel really good about this decision. It is kind of a relief. I hope that out friends and some clients, are able to attend the party. Details are still to be determined! Stay tuned…

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Some very good days

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I really have a great life. Friday was my birthday, and it was fantastic. I was spoiled rotten. I am so grateful to have an awesome husband, and great family and friends. It's not only the bad times in life when you find out who your friends are, it is also the happy times.

Last night was Kim and Jim's annual golf and pool party. It was fantastic!

Life is good!

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