Friendly Reminders

Sometimes, I think we all get busy and focused to the point where we tune out some of the magic in the world around us.  I've definitely been a bit guilty of that these past few weeks.  

But thankfully, the universe has sent along a few messengers to remind me to stop and drink in the small wonders in these lingering summer days.

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My dad is visiting from the west coast this week and stopped through Monday night to have dinner with us and, of course, play cars with the Kiddo.  As we were standing outside grilling food, he said, "Gosh, I forget what it's like to hear the cicadas in the evenings."

They're such an ever-present noise--summer's answer to the hum of a winter furnace--that I hadn't paid much attention to them this year.  But when I stop and listen they evoke such strong "sense" memories from my childhood--the smell of sun-warmed grass, getting sweaty in the twilight chasing fireflies with my cousins--that it's hard not to smile.

*****

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Our tomato crop has been piddling along--not decimated, but nothing to discuss or be excited about.  

But I happened to toss one of the more successful orange tomatoes into my lunch sack the other day, and when I pulled it out my co-workers all remarked that it looked like a baby pumpkin.  

It's not just a hardy tomato, it's a hardy tomato that looks like a baby pumpkin.  I understand that this makes me a huge garden nerd, but somehow "baby pumpkin tomatoes" are a much more singular thing, yes?

*****

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Sitting outside in the garden the other night, the Kid discovered the camera.  I would take a picture of him, then show it to him on the camera's back screen.  Then another picture, and another, "There you are!"  I don't think he really understood, but it was a great game.  

We were at it for a good five minutes, with him trying to grab the camera, and me giggling and trying to keep his fingers off the lens.  And when I went back to look at the pictures, I found this one of his beautiful eyes.  It's out of focus and not something I would have purposefully taken, but there's something about it that I love.

*****

Three tiny, silly, everyday things...but what better magic is there towards the end of summer?

Following Up On Some Garden Projects

I often lose track and forget to update you all on some of our little projects.  As is common, some of the garden projects that seem brilliant in May are complete failures by July.  And some that are complete, "what the hell" experiments end up beautifully.

The front yard meadow is, unfortunately, the former.  There are a few flowers poking through, but mostly it looks like we're just too lazy to mow our lawn.  It's almost entirely gone to weeds.  Back to the drawing board for next year!

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On the other hand, our mason bee house is hopping with inhabitants.  Each time I check, it seems there are more little homey-holes filled up.  And it's a rare afternoon that I can't spot a bee or two out having a snack on the cosmos.  While I still want to have a more traditional hive soon, in the meantime, this is a tremendously interesting (and much less expensive) substitute.
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My Garden Waterer

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When I dreamt of the Kid helping in the garden, I imagined a six or seven year old picking tomatoes and pulling weeds.  I never thought that my little guy would be game for "helping" so soon.  

It's a family thing.  We start by greeting the "chi-chins", then we "wader".  Most of the time Dada is home to help supervise--"Keep the hose pointing in the garden bed, bub"--but even on the days he isn't most of the water still gets to the vegetables these days.  (And, hey, a little water on the grass doesn't hurt in this 100+ degree heat.)  And letting the Kid water gives me time to  gather eggs and pick tomatoes and herd chickens.  

It's a novel idea to me--giving him productive tasks to entertain him and keep him busy--but it makes all kinds of sense.  Sure, I could move the hose around myself as I perform my other chores, but then I'd have to entertain him too.  Killing two birds with one stone=awesome.

Plus, he's just so intent on doing it.  I'll admit that it makes my mama heart burst a little to see him so proud of doing his first little chore.

Today's Harvest

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Well yesterday's, if you want to get super-technical.  

Those three pretty eggplants have a little brother that will be ready by the weekend.  I've never had success with eggplants in the past, so I'm happy to see them.  I don't know if it's the hot weather, the fact that I planted them in the shade underneath some pole beans, or a combination of both.  Whatever it is, I would like to repeat it.  

Well, on second thought, I don't think I want to repeat this weather, actually.  It's playing havoc on the rest of the garden.   It's a little scary to me that I caught myself thinking this afternoon, "Gosh, it's not bad out today," and then looked at my car thermometer which said it was 102.  I feel like the proverbial boiling frog.

Starting with the beans, mine are taller than Sweet Husband and gorgeous, but they won't set any pods.  Similarly, my tomatoes are abundant, but all green.  Research reveals the most likely culprit is the heat, or at least, that's what I'm telling myself. 

The ladies are also suffering.  Thankfully, they're all still with us, but the egg laying has tapered off to almost nothing.  We had to go buy a dozen tonight, and the store shelves, where the local eggs typically are, were completely bare.  

They had put up a little note explaining that chickens don't lay when it's ungodly hot.  When I read it, I exclaimed out loud, "Ergh, no local eggs!"  And a lady standing next to me kindly explained, "They don't lay in the heat."  I chuckled and said, "I know.  I have chickens, and that's why I'm here trying to buy eggs."

I ended up being stuck with "Pete's Eggs".  I'm sure Pete is a nice fellow, but his eggs are white and thin-shelled looking--nothing like my speckled, brown beauties.  I haven't cracked one open yet, but I'm already disappointed in them.

To end my whining though, one thing we are rich in is peppers.  The fridge is full of them pickled, and the dehydrator is--right at this moment--humming away on my kitchen counter.

We're also making a point to remember to pick our hops this year.  We've had them growing on our back fence for two or three years now, but, because they're out-of-sight, we seem to always forget they're there.  WIth Sweet Husband getting back into brewing, I like the idea of making a Christmas-gifty-beer out of all Hacienda-grown hops. 

The Tale of the First Tomato

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It's a short story.  I picked it, and ten minutes later it was breakfast.  

Breakfast, if you're interested, was this yogurt on a plate, which may be my new favorite way to eat eggs.  The tomato, the eggs, and the basil were all extremely local--as in, straight from my backyard.  That might make up for the yogurt, which says it's from Washington, and the toast from Colorado.  

[Confidential to my Dad:  Sweet Husband and I both agreed that you would love this recipe!]

I'm hopeful that many of this tomato's green brothers and sisters will be inspired to redden up very shortly.  It would help heal my broken heart from the squash bugs, which are again decimating my squash and--in a new turn of events--my cucumbers.  You'd think I'd learn to just buy my squash at the farmer's market, but apparently I'm stubborn beyond common sense.