Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gardening recap

It's mid-October. I just moved all the herbs from underneath the mulberry tree to up against the house, in the hopes that more direct sunlight and some extra warmth will keep them going a little longer. Something Alaskan in my brain still hurts at that statement, but it's true.

I would bring them inside, but... two cats. That does not end well, or cleanly. In fact, it's dirt and roots and leaves everywhere...

As things go, I know now not to try to grow cherry tomatoes in a planter, because when the gigantic tangle of tomato vines gets higher than 6 feet tall, the sheer wind resistance will start pulling the planter out and knocking the whole thing ever in every bad blow. I currently have it braced with dowels. Next year, I think I'll try planting tomatoes in the actual ground, by the fence, where the tomato cages will be more anchored.

I'll also try a different varietal. This one didn't say it'd turn into a 6 foot tall tangle reminiscent of briar hedges, either, but... the search shall continue. (And my brain is now imagining a riff on the fairy tale cottage overtaken by roses, only this one with cherry tomatoes... actually, this particular varietal would do that in a heartbeat, if it lived long enough!)

Also, next year, no more thai chili peppers. Too hot to eat regularly, and this plant is putting them out by the handful. No, more than that... the stems are starting to bow under the weight of peppers. Apparently I must have some ideal growing conditions, but I don't like them that much!

Maybe some sweet peppers next year?

The rosemary, because I didn't use it enough, has crowded the oregano out of the pot. Next year, I'll have to start a new pot with just oregano - and the same for parsley, as the thyme has decided it is small but mighty, and taking over the world!

On the bright and shiny, I kept everything but the dill and the cilantro alive this year, which is a vast improvement over my first year of gardening in Texas. Next year will be better yet!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A perfect storm of fluttering wings

Last weekend, I found myself inadvertently in the middle of one of Nature's near-inexplicable little miracles. Namely, I was on the high plains in Colorado, standing outside a farmhouse looking at a line of storms, when the air was suddenly filled with butterflies.

Now, I'd noticed a higher-than-normal number of butterflies around for October, but FarmMom said it's been a very wet year, and I wondered if they'd just survived the summer. But when every direction I looked, including up, the air was filled with hundreds of butterflies - I had found, by sheer accident, a butterfly migration path. Monarchs, painted ladies, sulphurs, and one or two cabbage whites, all swirled, danced, and tumbled on the wind in a generally southward cloud.

It was like being inside a swirling windstorm that shook all the leaves off the trees - except there weren't any trees shedding leaves nearby, and these were all flying, flapping, tumbling around each other, alighting on cars and grass and barn and people, even on the rifles. (One poor sulphur was most disappointed to find a taillight, while red, is not a hummingbird feeder full of sugar.)

I've gotten up at 4am and napped while my husband drove to a remote Tennessee corn field to see ultralights leading whooping cranes on their first migration, but I'd never put two and two together and realized I even had a chance to see the butterfly migration.

That was amazing!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fall cleaning!

It was 67 degrees and raining today (third day in a row of rain), which made it a perfect day to wash the airplane!

Although, I did hit culture shock when I asked a pilot on the airport "Where's the non-potable tap?"
"The what?"
"The non-potable tap? You know, for washing the airplane?"
I got a very funny look back. So I asked another pilot, who looked confused and aimed me at a third.

He grinned, and said "We don't have non-potable on the airport. It's all purified, off the city water." As my eyebrows started climbing to my hairline at the idea of wasting potable water on washing, his eyes were crinkling up in suppressed laughter. Fortunately, he continued on to outline where the airport had not one, but something like 6 taps around the hangars. "You're welcome to taxi over and use the hose outside my hangar - just wash the plane on the taxiway, so you keep the greasy belly dirt off my white apron!"

How do you wash an airplane with a hose? I'm not sure what to do with an abundance of water.  So I did it the way I know best. First, I rolled the airplane out into the rain to get wet. Then, I found the nearest tap, and filled the bucket three-quarters full, lugged it back, and added a good amount of aluminum-safe soap. Taking the nifty mop-like scrubber, dunk, and start at the top of the airplane, working my way down to the dirty belly.

Although, North Texas has such an abundance of dirt in the air, and I haven't flown the plane enough, so for the first time in my life the top of the wings were dirtier than the belly. That just ain't right.

When finished with the first pass, I emptied the very dirty water where we don't want plants growing anyway, then rinsed out the bucket, refilled it, and added just a little soap. Then I washed a second time, really cleaning now that most of the dirt had been removed and bird poop had time to soak.

I could have done a third pass with just water, but my arms were killing me. (The gym this morning was squats and overhead presses. Next time I wash the plane, maybe I'll do squats and deadlifts instead? Or be brilliant and wash her on a day I'm not already tired from the gym!)  So instead I called my father, and chatted with him about sacrificial anodes in water heaters and the newest high-tech paints which have ammonia that flashes off when applied, leaving behind an acid-based polymerization to create a film on the wall instead of ground pigment particles suspended in a drying medium, like... the entire history of paint before now.You know, standard daddy-daughter conversations.

After fourty minutes or so, we rang off, and I judged the airplane rinsed enough by mother nature, and pushed my dripping bird back in the hangar.

I guess there must be another way to use a lot of potable water and clean planes quickly. Maybe someday I'll acclimatize to the Lower 48 and think it's normal?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Poor prior planning makes for playgrounds

Yesterday was laundry day. It was also group dinner day, though thankfully by the time for friends to come over I looked almost presentable, and the house was close enough to clean for confirmed bachelors to be at home. (Even if Old NFO did have to dodge me passing him with two milk crates of freshly dried laundry before he even got something to drink.)

I left washing the mattress pad until after dinner, not wanting it spread out to dry over the chairs or couch while guests might want to sit there. This meant that I spread it to dry over the living room chairs shortly before bed.

...which means there was a fresh damp white mattress pad for the bored black kitten to amuse himself all night. And this morning, it looked every inch of it. *sigh*

In fact, as I write this, the kitten dashed up at tapped Kili on the hindquarters. She snarled, and disappeared under the chairs, behind the mattress pad, covering her retreat with fierce hiss and lightning paw. He's now sprawled on the floor on the other side of the hanging curtain of cloth, upside down and back legs splayed, batting under the edge of the formerly white pad at her.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A good day

Yesterday, I deadlifted 100 pounds.

On the other hand, when I tried to do a set of three overhead presses with 57 pounds, the third one inspired a spate of unladylike words as my right shoulder chose the moment the bar was almost - almost! - to the top of the rep to go extremely unstable. It hurt like blazes, too, on the way down. It didn't actually feel injured, just unstable and aggravated. Right pissed off, as a matter of fact. 

So I gave it five minutes to recover, and tried again. I got two rep, and one the third, the bar got to about ear height and I just ran out of gas. Picture a car halfway up an icy hill, wheels spinning madly as it slowly slides backward... that was my third rep.

Friday, I'll try again - but we'll back off to 50 pounds and concentrate on form, making sure it's perfect before we add weight back.

But you know what? I deadlifted 100 pounds. It was an awesome day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bad Timing

Note to self: No matter what execrable pun or rotten limerick your Darling Husband says, do NOT laugh while you're trying to bench press more weight than you've ever done before. Because if you blow out your breath with a laugh, your chest collapses, lower back and shoulders destabilize, and the barbell will suddenly and very painfully go sideways on you. And then everything goes pear-shaped in a hurry.

In other notes, thank God for a good trainer who is spotting.

And my husband owes me SO MUCH chocolate. Ow.

...going to ban him from opening his mouth when I'm under a barbell...