We got Edie in early February, 2007 from the Humane Society in St. Louis. We got Sam, our cat, about a year and a half before that and had a good experience with him, but being a cat, he didn’t really go outside much. We had just moved to a neighborhood in St. Louis called Soulard – a place with more sidewalks and yards available than we had in our apartment complex in Affton.
Brooke and I weren’t sure what exactly we were looking for in a dog (though if you want to read my thoughts on the subject on the day we got her, there’s a post for you…). The dog we found was a small beagle, housed in the “puppy” room of the Humane Society, so they tried to charge us extra for a “puppy” they claimed was 5 years old. With all the grey in her coat, I placed her at least a year older than that, but what do I know…
Edie has been a good dog. We went on lots of walks in Soulard, where she found more than a few turkey legs on the ground to carry around after Mardi Gras. She’d carry home rawhide bones from Pets in the City, as passers by would smile at the 13″ beagle carrying a bone far too large for her. She didn’t like many other dogs and would get anxious around them. She did pretty well with dogs bigger than her, but for dogs smaller, she’d try to exert her dominance and fight with them a bit more.
In Soulard, Edie had to be on a leash, though in those early days, she also had a pretty strong case of separation anxiety. There were a few occasions where she tore down screen doors in Hannibal and Columbia trying to get to us. Another time, she tore through a metal dog kennel that used to hold my family’s cocker spaniel, Pepper.
By the time we moved to Iowa in 2010, however, we were in a more rural area where we could leave Edie loose more of the time. Every once and awhile, we wouldn’t be able to find her for an hour or so, but she’d ultimately find her way home. She also enjoyed walking among the chickens, while they mostly ignored her.
Edie was never really “the kids'” dog, as we had her before Meg was born in 2010, but she’s always been gentle to young hands. Even in her old age, Meg and Calvin’s cousin, Rowan, can sit next to her and tug on her ear slightly, barely eliciting a response. Meg and Calvin have loved Edie, too, helping to give her water when she needed it, and eventually would take her outside on a leash (once they were tall enough and strong enough to do it).
Recent years have been less kind to this aging pup. For most of this year, she hasn’t had much control over her urination, causing me to get up once a night just to take her out, let alone me. It’s gotten bad enough now that she doesn’t know where she is in the house, so she just goes wherever she wants to. She’s been blind and deaf for at least a year now, though the problem has gotten progressively worse, as she now walks directly into walls regularly, not just after she wakes up and is still a bit groggy. She still eats and drinks water, but there are many occasions where it’s difficult to get her to stand up, let alone walk outside, causing me to carry her out. She can go up a step or two, but stairs have been a problem for years. I can’t remember the last time she was up on the couch, so jumping remains difficult for her.
We’re sad to see her go, but we gave her as good a life as we could and we hope she’s enjoyed her time with us, in her own way. She was never a particularly “active” dog, but she was always sweet and happy to have a pat on the head.
Rest well, Edie. We love you and will miss you terribly.
A few weekends ago, we finally got to go to the Kansas City Zoo after living in Marshall for over 3 years. We bought some passes as part of a church auction last Fall and had to use them by the end of 2017. As most of the year had gotten away from us, we finally got around to going at the beginning of November!
Ironically, it ended up being a great time to go, as many of the animals were out-and-about, giving us a pretty solid view of a tiger, chimpanzees, a polar bear, and many others.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with what I saw. It’s been since the mid-1990s since I’ve been there, and Brooke had never been there, so our only frame of reference was the (free) St. Louis Zoo at Forest Park. In many ways, the setting was similar to the St. Louis version, but this one would cost us at least $50 for a family of four, plus expensive concessions if we wanted to get any. On the other hand, while the St. Louis Zoo has some specific attractions that cost extra to enter (e.g. the insect house), there are more attractions included in the price of admission at the Kansas City Zoo (with the exception of things like the train and merry-go-round).
Overall, the selection of animals was solid, though I get the sense that the St. Louis Zoo just has more available to see. The snake house is bigger, the monkey house is bigger, the bird enclosure is larger…all of these are simply because the 1904 World’s Fair was held in St. Louis and those structures are still there, used as part of the zoo. I feel like the Australia exhibit in Kansas City is larger than in St. Louis, so there are definitely some animals that KC has that St. L doesn’t have, but they’re kinda the exception to the rule.
Also, the Kansas City Zoo is really spread apart, so you have to take a shuttle to get to half of the animals. The elephants, giraffes, gorillas, and other large animals were in a connected area of the zoo, but far flung from the parking lots and the entry point. After spending our time there, we were tired enough (and rather chilly…), so we didn’t feel the need to trek out that far. I feel like the St. Louis Zoo is a bit more compact, so you can actually see quite a bit in a shorter amount of time.
Overall, we definitely had a good time and are glad we went! It took us 1.5 hours to get there, so it’s a shorter trip for us, but at the same time, we could spend the extra hour and go to St. Louis and spend less than $50 for the visit, using that money instead to visit Joanie’s Pizza or something.
Brooke doesn’t get to exercise all that often. It isn’t for lack of trying: she just doesn’t usually have the time to devote to it. She’s taken her bike down to Sedalia multiple times and she goes hiking at Bothwell with some frequency, but neither of these activities really “speaks” to her. And she totally doesn’t like jogging.
However, she’s been interested in getting into kayaking for the last few years. We see folks with boats on their trucks and we know people like going fishing at various places around here. That, and we know that there are some creeks and lakes within driving distance. And, we have a few Subarus, so they really have to have a kayak on top of one, right?
Really though, for some reason, Brooke’s always enjoyed rowing as an exercise. This goes back to the rec center at Truman State, where she’d use the rowing machine more than anything else. You’d have to ask her why, exactly, that is the one exercise she seems to prefer…maybe it goes back to her days on the Mississippi River or something…
Anyway, I checked out Craigslist and found a decent deal on a single-person, sit-in kayak that came with a cartop mount. It wasn’t the type of mount we wanted, but at least we could get it home. We went to Columbia and met up with the young woman who was selling it (didn’t have room for it, didn’t use it enough, yadda, yadda, yadda) and picked it up for less than she was asking for.
We got it home safe and sound, but with that type of roof mount, it was a hassle to get it up on the top of the car. It took two people, plus it was far easier to get the straps hooked up when you had someone else to toss them to. Thus, if it really takes two people to get on the car, Brooke would never use it.
Therefore, we’re going to try the “J hook”-style mount. We picked them up at Amazon for less than $20 and hopefully they work as advertised. They seem pretty sturdy (though I had to Dremel out the plastic holes to make the screws fit properly), and in theory, the hooks allow ratchet straps to simply cross from the top down to the bottom without requiring one to tie the kayak to the hood or trunk of the vehicle.
Of course, the high this week is barely crossing the 50 F mark, so Brooke probably isn’t actually going to get to test this thing out for a few weeks months. I need to find a way to mount it in our garage, too, as sitting on the garage floor isn’t exactly ideal.
Hopefully it works out! We figure that resale on a kayak is probably high enough that we won’t lose much money on it, if any. Brooke can lift it down off the car, but she’ll probably want to get a little more practice lifting it up above her head. The J-hook mount should make this easy, as she just needs to get underneath it and “roll” it over onto the roof of the car. Practice will speed up that process, I’m sure.
After she actually tries this thing out (March? April?), I’ll have to post a few more pictures. She’s excited! I’m just happy to have my second roof bike mount back…
We’re now three episodes into Star Trek: Discovery, the first new Star Trek TV property since Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air in 2005. I’m really enjoying what I’ve seen so far, but wanted to record a few thoughts about it for posterity’s sake:
The writers/producers were really playing up the whole “increased diversity” angle with regards to the cast and, boy howdy, were they right. It’s uncommon to see any middle-aged white males in any given shot, though they certainly exist. This is a pretty stark leap from previous outings in the series, and a welcome one. Gene Roddenberry was adamant that his crew be constructed of a diverse group of people in the original series, complete with an alien, a Russian, an Asian American man and an African American woman, something unheard of in television of the time. This Star Trek for a new generation has done a good job keeping up with that tradition, but I feel like the characters, overall, just feel more diverse than anything on TV now, even in today’s society where we’re more conscious of such things.
The acting, overall, was really good out of the gate. I’ve gone back to DS9, Voyager and Enterprise over the years and, ooooooooh, that acting in the early seasons was uniformly bad. Honestly, for some characters, the acting never really improved even by the series’ end…especially in Star Trek: Enterprise. All of these actors seem really solid, though.
The writing is really good. I’ve heard people complain about the first two episodes, but as others have also mentioned, it’s hard to sell the character of Michael Burnham and all the baggage that comes with her without that two-episode introduction. Could that information been delivered as exposition or some re-cap? Yes? But would it have been good? Nope. It would have sold her character short, as well as her relationships and the way the rest of the crew of the Discovery is reacting to her presence. So yes, they could have just started with the third episode, but the first two adds stakes to the world and a richness we wouldn’t have had otherwise. CBS did screw up in only showing the first episode on broadcast and the second episode onits streaming service, All Access, as just watching that first episode does no one any favors…
The production values are still really good, despite this show being relegated to a streaming-only service (more on that later). It still looks pretty CGI-ish, though, so I long for the days when Star Trek still used real ship models. Still, that ain’t happening, so this is the best we’ll get. It all looks pretty good, though.
I’m not a fan of having to spend $6/mo on another streaming service just for this show. But. I feel it’s necessary to put my money where my mouth is and support its presence. I could probably expand on this in a completely separate post, but a show like Discovery wouldn’t survive on broadcast CBS. Would it survive on Showtime, where ratings don’t have to be as big of a deal? Maybe? But then I’d have to pay for that, too, because I don’t have cable TV (and Showtime is $9/mo). Would I like it to be on Netflix instead? Absolutely! But CBS owns the TV rights to Star Trek: Netflix doesn’t. So it has to appear on a CBS property. So unless Discovery is going to be shown on the Smithsonian Channel (another thing I wouldn’t have access to…), this is likely the only reasonable option in the streaming age.
The bridge sets are too big. They look bigger than the bridges on TNG, and this show is a prequel to the original series, after supposedly establishing that on Star Trek: Enterprise, the ship should feel like a “submarine” because it’s still early in interstellar travel.
Along those lines, what’s with the hologram-style communications?! Use your viewscreen, dammit. This isn’t Star Wars!
We only get 15 episodes out of this first season and I think it’s off to a pretty compelling start. Let’s hope CBS doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for this property, so it has room to breathe and grow in the streaming-only space!
The garden is certainly on the decline, but we’re still picking a substantial amount of stuff. When all was said and done, we ended up with over 20 pints of green beans canned this year, along with all the rest of them we ate fresh. There are still some beans on the plants, but most of the pods are empty, so we’ve largely given up on them.
The tomatoes and the soup beans, on the other hand, are ridiculous. The tomatoes have certainly slowed, but Brooke has been keeping up with canning sauce, freezing batches until enough are ready. Brooke has canned 32 pints of tomato sauce so far. This time, she hasn’t canned any whole tomatoes like she’s done before.
We also have 5 quarts of soup beans. As in, a full ice cream bucket full of them. And there are plenty more on the vine. This may be our largest haul of those beans yet!
We’ve had some banana peppers here and there. Our pepper haul this year was lower than before, mostly because the volunteer tomatoes encroached and limited their growth. We haven’t eaten many of them yet, but Brooke’s frozen slices of them for later use.
Here’s that really good pumpkin, completely with a grasshopper to add some scale to the picture. We were hopeful this one would make it, but some bugs drilled a hole in the side. It isn’t rotten yet, but we can’t say we’ve got much hope for its survival. There are a few other little baby pumpkins growing that are still yellow, but they surely won’t make it.
We actually had more luck with watermelons this year. This is the biggest one, yet it’s strangely misshapen. There’s another, rounder one, but this late in the season, we aren’t hopeful much will come of them. Still, it’s the most success we’ve had with watermelons! They just took a lot longer to get moving than we expected.
The popcorn also took awhile to get going. There are fewer stalks this year, but what we’ve gotten so far is promising. Obviously, the weeds are taking over…
The corn ears are pretty skinny still, but I seem to remember them looking like that last year. We aren’t expecting to get a lot of popcorn, but last year’s crop worked out better than we expected, so perhaps we’ll be surprised again!
The raspberries came back with a vengeance! I figured they were done a long time ago, but the last two weeks, we’ve been getting handfuls of them. We haven’t really done anything particularly interesting with them, but Meg and Calvin each had 10-15 last Saturday afternoon while they were playing outside and, frankly, that’s a good enough reason to grow them.
The sweet potatoes are still growing and we haven’t done anything with them yet. We assume there are potatoes down there. I guess we’ll find out eventually, when we get around to digging them up!
The fruit trees are still there, with the peach tree leading the growth chart. The rest of the trees got hit hard by Japanese Beetles and, while they’re still growing alright, they’ve got a long road to full recovery. Their trunks have fattened up substantially, so I hope the root system has followed suit, even though the leaves haven’t. We’ll add some fertilizer and mulch to them in the next few weeks and hope that helps them out over the winter months.
That’s about it! Probably the last post on this for the year, but who knows…maybe those tomatoes will keep going through November…
A few months ago, Meg asked to get some fish again. We had some back in St. Louis and moved them here, though at the time, Calvin couldn’t open doors and we could keep Sam away from the fish bowl. This time, however, Calvin’s older and isn’t know for following directions, so if we were going to get a fish tank again, we’d have to be a bit more careful about where it goes and whether it had a lid or not.
Brooke found a starter kit here in town that came with a 10 gallon tank, some peripheral fakery for the inside of the tank, and a nice lid that should keep small paws and hands out of the tank. However, we had to get the fish from Sedalia, as our options were non-existent here in town. Meg decided she wanted to go with tropical fish, which meant we needed to get a small heater for the tank. We also got a filter system, but it didn’t actually come with tubing, so that had to come from Sedalia, too.
Anyway, we ended up with over 10 small fish of varying types and 2 snails for the tank. So far, the fish have survived, and the kids feed them twice a day. We’re hopeful that the filter system and snails will limit the amount of cleaning we need to do, as this system is quite a bit more sophisticated than the small bowl we had for years awhile back. The filters can be picked up here in town and are supposed to be switched out around once a month, and the water should be exchanged at about 1/3 volume at the same time as the filter (or so we read). The tank is in the kid’s bedroom, which is close to a bathroom but not really close to the kitchen at all, so if it really is just a water exchange every once and awhile, along with the filter, we should probably be alright.
The kids seem enamored with it so far! All the fish have names, of course. 🙂
So, we knew last Spring about The Great American Eclipse, which was scheduled to begin here in Marshall on August 21st at 1:10 pm. There had been a lot of build-up around here, with various folks hitting the media circuit to warn locals of the potential for thousands of extra folks to arrive along the line of the path of totality (where the sun would be blocked out for nearly 3 minutes with a neat “halo” effect around the rim).
Despite the preparation, there wasn’t much we could do about the weather. In the days leading up to August 21st, the forecast vacillated from “sunny and clear” to “thunderstorms” to “cloudy.” We proceeded as if we’d get to see it though, so Meg went to school and Brooke kept Calvin home, as the lab school wasn’t going to let a bunch of pre-schoolers outside to stare at the sun.
It was my first day of class, so while I went through syllabi as normal, I abbreviated my 1:00 class to make sure we’d get to stay outside and watch the eclipse.
While we were on vacation in Wisconsin, I ordered a special lens filter so I’d be able to get pictures of the sun. It’s the same material that we had in the eclipse glasses we had, but obviously big enough to cover my 52 mm lens. While our camera is aging rapidly (Nikon D60) and we only had a 200 mm zoom lens for it, I had hoped I’d be able to get something from it.
Sadly, at the time of totality, this was the best I could get. Literally, five more minutes is all we needed for the clouds to part and we would have seen it. Columbia, MO got to see all of it as the clouds pulled out a few minutes before totality was set to begin. Heck, even a few minutes out of town, people could see it just fine. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
In the next few minutes after totality ended, I was able to get use the filter to get all the shots depicted in the composite at the top of the post. I was able to get some pretty good pictures out of that old camera! Just not as many as I wanted…
While I was on campus, Brooke stayed home with Calvin, as she didn’t want to brave traffic down to Sedalia (even though she would have gotten to see totality down there, apparently…). She tried a pinhole experiment using a strainer from the kitchen and actually got a pretty neat effect!
Calvin was at least initially interested in watching the eclipse, though at the time of totality, he was paying more attention to worms on the ground than what was happening in the sky.
Meg had a series of activities out at her elementary school, so she got a good learning experience out of it. They stayed outside through totality and for a few minutes afterward. They came out a few more times after the clouds parted so the kids could put on their glasses again.
Ultimately, we didn’t really notice thousands more people around town, though it did feel a bit more crowded. The skies got darker, the street lights came on a Monday afternoon, and a lot of students from far away got to experience something cool.
Thankfully, there’s another eclipse coming through Missouri on April 8, 2024. We’ll have to head to the Eastern part of the state to see it, and I’ll have to cancel class that Monday, but I hear it’s worth it!
This post follows a previous one that sets up the first part of the journey!
The next day (Tuesday), was beach day on Lake Superior. Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island has a relatively lengthy beach to enjoy, with an expansive shallow(ish) area for kids to wade out in. Meg was tall enough to touch for a solid distance out (30 yards?), but Calvin wasn’t quite big enough. We had both kids’ life jackets along just in case, but Meg probably would have been fine without it. Still, it was fun for her to float out on Lake Superior, especially when a big boat would come by to push her back toward shore.
We spent a good 5 hours or so at the beach that day, and it ended up being the nicest day for weather during the whole week. The water was really cold, but when you’re 3 and 7, that doesn’t much matter.
The first night’s sleep went surprisingly well. It didn’t get all that cold that night (mid-50s, maybe?) and we were all pretty tired, so we all got a lot of rest. We went to bed earlier than intended because of the vast number of mosquitoes swarming around. Brooke didn’t really feel like staying up and battling them and, while I stayed up reading for a little bit, I had to turn in earlier than I intended as well.
The next morning, after breakfast, we prepped for a hike near the lake on the the boardwalk. This is the same hike Brooke and I did 10 years ago but, due to the short legs in tow this time, we went a bit slower. Calvin still fits in the Ergo, so we had him in there for awhile, but he wanted to get down for the last half of the trip out. Overall, the hike is very flat and clean due to said boardwalk, but you get to see some of the local flora and fauna.
During this time, rain was heading into our general area, so we didn’t stay out there much past lunchtime. We headed back to our campsite as clouds continue to get dark, just after noon.
That afternoon was on-and-off rain. It got heavier at points but, at least then, the tent was doing a great job keeping the water out of the clothes, sleeping bags, etc. We had some card games in case something like this happened and, for a time, the kids were pretty well entertained. We enticed them with an ice cream trip to town for later in the afternoon, though that trip was really playing “double duty” for our ulterior motives…
Our internet connection was virtually non-existent at the campsite, nor did we have any phone service, so text messages, phone calls, etc. couldn’t get to us. Going into down, we were able to check and see whether we were going to get to go on the cave tours we had scheduled for Thursday morning. As we couldn’t really check the weather forecast either at the campsite, we also were checking such things while we entertained the kids with ice cream.
At the time, we (and the tour company) were hopeful that things would clear up for Thursday morning, so we proceeded expecting that we’d still get to go. We had a deposit down on the trip and hadn’t paid the rest of the bill yet, so the spots were reserved. After the ice cream, we went back to our campsite for awhile.
Around this time, the rain let up enough to get dinner done. We still had the kids play in the tent while Brooke did the heavy lifting, as the site was quite muddy now and we didn’t want Calvin rolling around everywhere.
I should note that Calvin was actually really good about taking showers on this trip. Up until now, he’d taken a few showers at our house, but any evening I wanted to go (which was every evening…), he wanted to go with me, so he and I stayed pretty clean, all things considered.
Meg and Brooke, on the other hand…
We set up a “living room” in part of the tent after the rain started to pick up. I’d also noticed that a puddle had formed near the side of the tent where the kids were sleeping, so we moved our air mattress over to the other side, so the kids could sleep on the “living room” side, just in case water started to seep in.
Ultimately, we made the right call, but for the wrong reason. That night, it felt like the skies opened and Niagara Falls fell from the sky. We later found out it was only, like, less than an inch that was recorded, but it sure felt like more than that on our tent (perhaps it was more on the island that was recorded in nearby Bayfield?).
Still, as it had been raining nearly all afternoon and into the evening, water began to seep in from the roof of the tent over Brooke and I (so it would have hit the kids, but we had changed places!). It was coming in along a length of the tent, but not specifically along a seam. My only guess is that so much rain fell, it just pooled and seeped in through the tent.
Brooke and I moved down to where the kids were, but as they were sleeping sideways relative to the rest of the tent, we were kinda “scrunched up” while the kids were stretched out. Needless to say, without the air mattress and while in the fetal position, we didn’t sleep all that well. It only rained until 1:00 am or so, but it was enough to make our lives difficult.
The next morning, we went to town, but it was still raining, and more was coming in. We’d already decided that if the tour was canceled, we were just going to head on back toward home, as rain was scheduled to continue and it wasn’t going to dry out before Thursday night (you know, when we’d like to sleep on said air mattress again).
Sadly, the tour was indeed canceled. It was canceled before we even got there, but as we didn’t have phone service, we didn’t know that until we got to town. Still, the company refunded our money in full, so while it was disappointing we didn’t get to go, we at least got our money back.
After returning to the campsite, we left the kids in the car while Brooke and I packed up. It took us a few hours (in the rain…) to pack as much as we could and shove the wet tent into the car-top carrier. We were going to stay in Cedar Rapids that night and Brooke had called ahead to make sure we could just move our reservation date up a night and they said the could do it.
We made the trek to Cedar Rapids, leaving Bayfield a little after noon (after crossing on the ferry, which was more full than usual due to trucks and campers), and finally got to Cedar Rapids at 10:00 pm that night. It shouldn’t have taken 10 hours to make that drive, but spotty rain showers and the lack of highways slowed down our progress.
Regardless, it was nice to sleep in a great bed again and take a shower…
The next morning, we got up and swam in the indoor pool for a bit after breakfast before loading up the car again and heading into Swisher, IA to see the old house (it’s still there!) and visit Kava House for some coffee. Sadly, Jazzy Chestnut wasn’t “on tap” that morning, but we brought 2 lbs back for Mom and Dad while we were there.
A little after 1:00 or so that day, we made it back to Marshall! Though we had to cut the trip short, it ended up being nice to pick up Edie from the “doggie hotel” a bit early, we got to dry out the tent (and everything else…) really well, and we had a full Saturday and Sunday to acclimate to “the real world” before work on Monday.
We had a good time! We’ll have to make another trip up north someday to get those cave tours done. But next year…we have other plans…
A little over a decade ago, Brooke and I went up to a wedding in Minnesota and stopped off in Wisconsin for a brief camping trip on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. We went to Branson earlier this Summer with the Linsenbardt side of the family (that I still haven’t posted about yet, so I need to do that…) and then had two months of school for Brooke and me, so we decided it would be nice to return to Madeline Island, this time with two youngsters in tow.
Rather than making the nearly 12 hour drive in a single trip, this time we Airbnb-ed a place in Duluth, MN, about 2.5 hours from our ultimate destination. We made a similar decision last year on our way to Colorado, and it was still a good call.
The house we stayed in was a two-story, where another couple were staying upstairs and we were staying downstairs (with direct access from the outside). The kids slept on a futon while Brooke and I got a king-size bed. Worked out pretty well! We were pretty tired after hours on the road, but after briefly taking some stuff inside, we went to a local restaurant for dinner, after which, we tried getting some local beer.
FYI: Minnesota is still backwards and doesn’t sell beer (or any alcohol) after 6:00 pm on Sundays. Apparently, they just started selling any alcohol on July 1, 2017. Seriously, people. What are you doing.
After a pretty restful sleep, we hopped back on the road heading toward Bayfield, WI, where the ferry crosses over to Madeline Island. We grabbed some groceries (bread, chips…) and local beer (because Wisconsin isn’t as backward as Minnesota…) at the store and then waited a few minutes for the ferry to take us across. Meg and Calvin, of course, very much liked getting out of the car and walking around on a boat, so despite the necessity of going on this particular ferry, it served as something of an “event” for the kids to enjoy.
The drive from the docks to the campground is around 6 miles, so it didn’t take all that long to get over there. Like the last time Brooke and I went, we reserved a “backwoods”-style campsite that was pretty private, but close enough that the shower houses were a brief jaunt away. The state park was pretty crowded with quite a few pull-behind trailers, as well as tents, so separating ourselves from all the rest of the noisy families was probably a good call.
The pretty significant downside, however, was the mosquitoes. In that backwoods camp, the mosquitoes were pretty intolerable. And resistant to Repel Lemon Eucalyptus. And ignorant of citronella candles. Seriously, they were bad.
New for this trip, Brooke picked up a screened-in shelter from Aldi for $40 (woo!), and while that helped the bug issue, it still wasn’t perfect. Some non-biting insects were always flying around at the top of it, but at least they left us alone for eating. However, she’d always want to leave the doors slightly ajar when cooking for logistical reasons, so more bugs would get in. We’re glad we have the shelter, and it definitely helped, but it wasn’t perfect.
The weather early on was quite pleasant, with highs in the low 80s and lows in the upper 50s. That first night went pretty well and the kids were just fine going to sleep around 9:00, when it was dark enough. Brooke and I were going to stay up with a fire, but the mosquitoes also didn’t really care about smoke from a campfire, so unless we wanted to put on pants, long-sleeves, and Brooke’s bee gear, we were out of luck.
The next morning, Brooke made some pancakes on our new propane grill, which was also a big plus for this trip. I tried cooking steaks on the open fire the previous night and, while they were edible, I couldn’t get the fire consistently hot enough to get them “medium well” as I tend to prefer it. We picked up the steaks at the grocery store in Bayfield and they were just a bit bigger than we probably should have gone with. Ah well. The stove, on the other hand, worked great for the rest of our meals. Brooke’s French Press was also a big help.
It’s a little early to be posting another garden update, but we’re reaping some benefits from our copious greenery, so I figured I should put up a few pics. Above, the pumpkins (big leaves) and watermelon (in front) are growing alright, but we haven’t seen any fruit on the vines yet. There are some flowers there, so we’re hopeful. The green beans have gone crazy, so we’ve been picking quite a few of those in recent days (just about every other day).
Thus far, Brooke has canned 16 pints of green beans and we have another 4 pints (we guess) in an ice cream bucket waiting to be fully processed. There are still flowers on the plants, so we expect more to come, however the temperature has been in the 90s all week, so despite my watering of the garden every few days, we figure the beans are going to slow down pretty soon.
We also picked our first few tomatoes last night, and that seems a bit earlier than last year’s harvest. The plants have also gone kinda nuts…
…and that isn’t helped by the soup beans that surround them. We spent some time last night pulling the soup bean vines off the tomatoes and tied up the ‘mater plants to the trellis, but I suspect the beans will continue to encroach. The soup beans are also doing quite well, so we’ll end up with a great harvest of them. The tomatoes are mostly green at this point, except for the ones we picked last night.
Also, last, but not least, we got some peaches before the Japanese Beetles got them! We ended up with 5, total, though one fell off early and the other was split down the middle, so we didn’t eat it. They were very good! A bit soft by the time we picked them, but the flavor was quite nice. Not too bad for 2 years of having trees!
Speaking of which, the beetles have been really bad this year, mostly targeting the peaches. We put up a beetle trap last night and we’re hoping that mitigates the issue a bit, but we’re wary of how helpful it’ll be…