Meet Charlotte

We’ve noticed over the past few months that Sam has been very….clingy…..at night…. Maybe it’s old age, maybe he misses Edie…who knows… But it got to the point where Brooke was wondering whether Sam needed a new friend. He’s also over 15 years old now, so while he could easily be with us for another 10 years (which is crazy to think about), Brooke thought that getting another cat now would give them enough time for Sam to “rub off” a bit on a new arrival.

She poked around the Humane Society’s website to look at what our options were. Since the pandemic took hold (or maybe before?), they have had cats in host homes where the foster “parent” can post about the cat’s personality quirks, how they deal with other animals and children, etc. It’s a much better system than having them locked in a cage where you really don’t get a good sense of what they’re actually like.

We drove to Columbia last Saturday to meet “Caramel Corn.” Granted, it’s been a long time since we had a young cat in the house, but dang she’s tiny compared to Sam! She seemed friendly enough and let Brooke and Calvin hold her, so that was a good start. We chatted a bit with the foster parent and then we were on our way!

“Caramel Corn” yowled in the car for most of the ride home. After awhile, she would close her eyes and pretend she wasn’t in the car…then she’d open her eyes again and start yowling again… So yeah, not a car rider.

Once we got her inside, Sam was sleeping on the couch, so we set the carrier down in view of him. At first, he didn’t really know what to think until he realized what was in the box….

There was quite a bit of hissing initially. For that first day, they avoided each other as best they could. Sam mostly stayed on the main floor, while “Caramel Corn” stayed downstairs in the basement. It was a struggle to get her upstairs! The litter box is down there, so it was fine, but with all the stuff down there, it’s tough to find her when she doesn’t want to be found! There was one point where we wondered if she escaped through some small hole to the outside of the house, but eventually we found her.

The next day, she wandered around a little bit more than before. Ate some of her food (Sam keeps going after it….we haven’t solved that problem just yet….). Used the litter box as she’s supposed to. But she still hung out down in the basement quite a bit! She liked playing with the cave crickets that are plaguing the basement at present.

Early that evening though, she came upstairs for some water, so I shut the door behind her so she had to stay upstairs and “socialize” a bit with her new family. She opened up quite a bit! She was still hesitant to hop up on the couch with us while we were watching TV, but she would walk past frequently and slow down enough for us to give her ear a scratch.

That second day, we still had much discussion about a name. We were looking for “old lady names,” as Edie was short for “Edith Anne,” and we think giving human names to our pets has been fun. One idea was “Max,” short for “Maxine.” Calvin wanted to keep calling her “Carmel,” but the rest of us weren’t down with that idea….

Eventually, Brooke came up with “Charlotte.” We don’t have a good short version of it yet, but perhaps we’ll settle on something after she gets used to the name.

The week has largely progressed with social improvements between the cats. Charlotte has been sleeping on the velvet bench at night, and sleeping on the couch when she doesn’t mind the kids petting her. She also uses the cat scratching stand!!! Sam never uses that thing!!

Speaking of which, Sam and Charlotte still aren’t quite “friendly” yet, but it’s to the point where Sam can walk past Charlotte on the couch while she’s sleeping, and she doesn’t swipe at him or wake up startled. There are other times, though, when Sam is on the table while we’re eating dinner and his tail dangles down below….down to a waiting Charlotte who is happy to start pawing at it. That usually doesn’t go as well….

Charlotte is fitting right in! We’re going to declaw her, which is something we didn’t do for Sam. To be fair, 15 years ago, we didn’t have “real furniture” that we wanted to protect from claws. If we’re going to have another cat for another 20 years…..we’d like to keep our nice couch looking that way….

She’s a sweetie! Looking forward to watching her grow!

Garden Update: 08.27.20

It’s been just over a month since the last update, and relative to where we were in July, things have definitely slowed down. Brooke planted beans and zucchini where we had the radishes and kale and those things are doing wonderfully. The soup bean pods just showed up this week, and the black beans are drying out quite a bit, so they’re going to be ready to pick soon. The zucchini have been doing well, way more than we actually want let alone need

As far as zucchini go, we’ve picked two or three like this every other day or so. It’s been pretty silly. It’s great to grow stuff and have them work really well…….but we only have so many things we want to use zucchini with (e.g. fried, bread, cookies…..muffins?)

Speaking of beans, our rattlesnake beans came back voluntarily! You can see some of them there at the top of this pic. We probably won’t end up with more than a handful of beans from the pods, but hey….we did almost literally zero work for these, so whatever.

Our peppers have been hit-or-miss. The “lunchbox peppers” Brooke planted are starting to come on pretty well now, so we’re getting a few of those every day or two. The bigger Margaret peppers have also come on better than last year, but still not tons of them. Obviously the green beans are way done, but there are still some pods growing on some of the plants. The sunflowers, though, look beautiful!

You can see some of the lunchbox peppers in orange , as well as a few tomatoes (more on that in a second). We also picked our granny smith apples! They were starting to brown at the top, so we didn’t want to let them go any longer. I picked 7 and sent them to Mom and Dad’s last weekend, so these represent the rest of the litter from the tree. We ended up with way more than we expected, and they seem to taste pretty good! Not as good as a gala apple or something, but hey….these were free(ish)!

Speaking of the tomatoes, we’ve been pretty disappointed this year. We got some really, really nice “slicer” tomatoes a few weeks ago, but since then, they’ve almost literally dried up. The cherry tomatoes are coming on very nicely, which has been good since Meg’s been home over summer, but other than that, the paste tomatoes Brooke planted have barely done anything, and the others have been one- or two-at-a-time, so never enough to process sauce or anything.

This gigantic plant is a volunteer. I’ve thought it was a watermelon for the past few weeks.

Things like this are what we’ve seen. Maybe 11 or 12 of them coming off that one plant.

Welp….we don’t think they’re watermelon anymore…

We found this out there, yellowing and, incidentally, rotting. Apparently, we’ve got a whole bunch of pumpkins growing!

That’s enough for now! Maybe one or two more posts as we finish out this year’s growing season. One last thing I should probably mention so we remember when these were planted…

Brooke ordered more strawberries! They’re June-bearing berries from Jung Seeds, this time. Since we got such a good yield this year from the existing plants, we want to keep things rolling by refreshing the plants from time to time. Hopefully we’ll end up with more than we did this year!

“Staycation” 2020

We had this grand plan in mind for our vacation this year. Reservations were made, days were claimed to be taken off, and tents were being bought in preparation for the journey. The plan was that we would drive out to Yellowstone National Park and camp at one of their campgrounds, then stay at an Airbnb closer to Grand Teton National Park for another few days, then circle down through Colorado and see Brooke’s cousin.

Well, we all know how that turned out, right?

The kids and I still needed to get out of the house though, and Brooke has an innate need to go on a road trip every year, so we decided to knock a few more state parks off our list and head out to Pilot Knob, MO, where we could stay in a motel (with a swimming pool), and hit up 3 state parks while we were in one central area. Pilot Knob is pretty close to Elephant Rocks State Park, Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, and Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, so we’d be able to spend part of the day at each one while we went for an extended weekend. We actually drove through Onandoga Cave State Park, but because they weren’t doing cave tours, we figured we should just go back there when all of this is finally over…

So yeah, because we’ve got a whole other thread of posts for state park visits, I’m going to make separate posts about those. Here, I’m going to speak more broadly about the trip.

Pilot Knob is about 4.5 hrs from Marshall, and luckily for us, St. James, MO is on the way, so we stopped off at our favorite winery in the state, Heinrichshaus, to pick up some bottles. While we were there, we had a picnic lunch and enjoyed being out of the car for a bit. It was a pretty short stop, but it had been a few years since we were last there (Meg and I stopped in last Spring on the return trip from an excursion with my Biology students,, but we didn’t exactly “stock up”).

That afternoon, we stopped off at the Huzzah Conservation Area to play in the water for a bit. Really, it was just an excuse for Brooke and I to relax with our feet in the water and let the kids mess around in a fast-moving float trip river.

We only stayed for an hour or so, but the kids could have done that all afternoon. They’d float their bodies while their hands kinda shuffled them along with the current, and then they’d do it again, and again, and again. It was like sledding.

There weren’t many options for where to stay in Pilot Knob or Ironton (which is practically attached…), and we weren’t thrilled with the prospect of camping in late-July humidity, so Brooke booked us a room at the Fort Davidson Hotel. It has an attached restaurant with a nice patio, it had exterior access to the room, and it had an outdoor pool, so we figured it was a relatively safe bet. The place turned out to be pretty nice, all things considered! We had an issue with the toilet constantly running, but the owner of the hotel came right over and took care of it for us. That night, I went out to Casey’s to get pizza, so the kids were more than satisfied.

The next morning, we went to Elephant Rocks (more on that in another post), and thankfully, it wasn’t all that crowded. More folks kept showing up and, as we were being responsible human beings, we tried avoiding others to the best of our ability, so it was good that we went relatively early so we could leave before the crowds got really bad.

That afternoon was mostly spent out by the pool! The kids were pretty proud of themselves swimming in the 11 ft deep end of the pool for much of the time. Meg was able to get diving sticks from the very bottom, though it took her some practice to get there. Calvin touched the bottom a few times, but again, he hadn’t really done that before, so diving from the surface was tough!

That night, we ate at the attached restaurant. We had the option of eating inside or outside, but the patio was nice enough and the weather wasn’t too bad, so we were comfortable. The kids got some Fitz’s soft drinks and their beer selection was surprisingly decent, considering how far Pilot Knob is from….er….anywhere… And my fried catfish was spectacular.

Across the street from the restaurant sits the namesake of the hotel: Fort Davidson. It was my first “earthen fort” that I’d ever visited, so there wasn’t really all that much to see aside from a hill with grass on it in the shape of a square. Apparently, the Union were holding the fort and then lost a battle with the Confederacy, who then subsequently took over.

So yeah, it was a nice evening stroll after eating way too much. An excuse to walk around a bit like normal people for a change. 🙂

The next morning, we went to Taum Sauk Mountain, and that afternoon, we went to Johnson’s Shut-Ins. Again, I’ll have separate posts about those, but here, I’ll point out that Taum Sauk was a nice little hike where we got to sit and enjoy some small waterfalls, but Johnson’s Shut-Ins was a madhouse. We figured on a Sunday afternoon, the “St. Louis Crowd” would have waned a bit as they were all heading back home, but nope…totally wrong on that one… We had to park almost a mile away from the main area of the park, and it was very difficult to maintain any form of social distancing, let alone 6 ft. We only stayed for an hour or so, and while the kids would have liked to have stayed a little more (and seen more of the park), we just didn’t feel comfortable.

So we went back to the hotel and swam there again! 🙂

That evening, we went to a Mexican restaurant in Ironton called Checo’s that was pretty good. Not a lot of good mask-wearing in that building either, but we were seated relatively far from anyone else, so we felt at least okay about it.

In the evenings, we played some games that we brought alone. The first night, we played Skip-Bo, which is a family favorite. The second night, we played a family edition of Trivial Pursuit that actually worked shockingly well. The kids get their own set of cards separate from the adult-level cards, and we think they did a good job of getting that mix right.

Monday morning, we decided to hit up Meremec Caverns on our return trip home, as Onandoga Cave was closed and we had played up how cool caves can be (literally and figuratively).

The kids definitely enjoyed it! I’m not sure I’ve ever been there, though I’ve been to others in the state like Mark Twain Cave, Bridal Cave, and Jacob’s Cave. Like those, this one is definitely a tourist trap, but again, it provided a bit of “spectacle” for the kids to experience. Hopefully they’ll remember it!

We were wearing masks, but very few others in our tour group was. Our tour guide did, but most of the folks with us weren’t doing their part. When we passed other tour groups, it looked like there were others there wearing them, but the majority of the visitors didn’t have them on. Definitely disconcerting.

Again, I think the kids enjoyed it quite a bit, and they did a great job of following directions and listening to the tour guide as he pointed out various aspects of the cave. They also very much enjoyed when they turned all the lights out, just how dark it gets in there. Of course, as we were vacationing in southern Missouri in late-July, we didn’t have jackets with us…..so next time, we should try to remember to bring long sleeves. Calving got a little chilly after being in there for an hour, but overall, they did a good job!

After we finished at Meremec Caverns, we continued home via Highway 50! Mostly, it’s because that was a different route than we took to get home (it also rained quite a bit on our return trip, so that was lovely…..), but the real reason was that we would pass through Jefferson City a little after lunch time:

For the record, Brooke did not eat that entire banana split. Meg did eat the mint chocolate chip sundae in its entirety, though. And she didn’t throw up, for the record.

That’s it! We had a ton of laundry to do after this, but for an extended weekend trip, it was “good enough” to tide us over until next year. We’ll have to double back and get to Yellowstone eventually, but assuming things get better in time, next year’s plan is a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway ending at Disneyland!

Crazy Day Yesterday

So, we went to Hannibal last weekend to extract honey for the first time this year. Brooke pulled 28 frames from her hives here in Marshall and ended up with 8-10 gallons of honey. Her Dad had more like 70 frames, so it was a looooooooong day of extracting for them. The kids and I mostly hung out in the pool, so that was nice. 😉

Anyway, with so much honey, including some we and Brooke’s Dad had left from last Fall, the conversation moved toward “how do we offload it?” The kids sounded amenable to putting a table outside our house, so we figured we’d give that a try. Frankly, I didn’t expect more than a few people to stop, if that. We also figured the kids would get bored and want to come inside. The temperature was actually quite pleasant for August 1st, so it wasn’t nearly as hot as it could have been.

They stayed out there for 6 hours. 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. They sold through $212 of various products, including candles, last Fall’s honey, and the more recent batch from this Spring.

They also got $10 in tips. People just dropped by and gave them $2.

I went out for a 20 mile bike ride as they were getting started, and as they were set up relatively far from the house, Brooke wanted to be in earshot of them, so she did some stuff in the garden, and also started picking peaches. We ended up with 10 gallons of those, too!! They actually taste much better than they did last year, and they were good enough to just bite through the skin and eat right off the tree.

They’re getting toward the end of their cycle though, so there were quite a few on the ground already, and as we picked some of them from the tree, peaches typically fell. For some reason, the japanese beetles have been much more mild this year, so we didn’t have to fight off many of those, though we did spot a few as we were doing some picking.

Brooke even put 10 at a time into paper bags to have the kids sell for $2 a bag. We think they sold 8-10 bags of peaches, too!

By the end of the day, we were ready to actually eat some of them, so Brooke put them into a crisp and we enjoyed them that way. Deeeeeelicious. 🙂

All in all, we were very impressed with the kids. They were polite, they took turns coming in if they needed something like water or a snack, they didn’t complain about it… They seemed to have a lot of fun!

So much so, they earned a $55 table-top air hockey set. It should get here tomorrow. 🙂

Garden Update: 7.26.20

I’m catching up after a few weeks, so bear with me a bit…. The bean crop kinda got the best of us when it ramped up in earnest after we returned from July 4th in Hannibal. We picked…and picked….and picked….multiple rounds like this, to the point where Brooke was quite done with canning… We ended up with around 30 pints of beans, plus the ones we’ve been eating on here and there. We didn’t end up giving many away because our beans came on late and everyone we’d usually give them away to was also inundated, so they didn’t need more. We should be set in the veggie department for, oh, a few years….

Around the same time we were dealing with the beans, the zucchini plants had grown pretty full, but we hadn’t seen many zucchini on the plants…until we found this gigantic one just chillin’, waiting to be picked. Brooke ended up shredding and dehydrating it, so we haven’t actually used it yet, but we’ve got another one or two on, so she’ll get creative with them momentarily.

We’ve also got other bean plants surrounding the zucchini plants, so as those start to slow down, the beans are going to take their place. The soup beans are vining well, so I’m sure we’ll get our usually ridiculous crop of those by the time we pick them in October/November…

The foreground still isn’t doing a lot, but there are some kale plants, spinach, and a random giant thing that’s either going to make a watermelon or pumpkin. Who can say? Certainly not me.

The tomatoes in the background are starting to produce quite a bit, mostly in the cherry tomato department, but just today, Brooke picked some beefy ones that we look forward to turning into BLTs later this week.

So yeah, not a ton yet, but certainly enough to start enjoying! That one in the upper right is one I’m particularly excited to chomp on…….

The green bean plants are in the middle there, and they’ve slowed down quite a bit. There are still some beans on there, but we’ll probably just keep an eye on them and grab a handful here and there. Brooke also planted sunflowers on the north side for the fun of it, and they’ve been blooming for a week or so.

The pepper plants still don’t look great, and in fact, a storm knocked a few of them over to the point they may not make it, but we’ve gotten some margaret peppers comin’ on that will hopefully be tasty.

In other news, the peach tree is….truckin’ along…to the point that it’s so weighed down with peaches, that branches are breaking…

I mean, on one level, I’m pretty pleased that there are so many fruit on there! But they aren’t ripe enough yet, and the japanese beetles have found them, so even with a billion peaches on there, we still may not get many… I’ve been using neem oil on them once a week, but we’re expecting rain this week, so I may need to wait until the rain subsides a bit.

Our apple trees and pear tree are also producing. The granny smith apple tree, especially, has a solid number on there, but Brooke says it isn’t time yet, so she isn’t letting me test any out… Hopefully I get to before the squirrels get them……ug…..

And last, but not least, so much honey! Brooke collected around 28 frames last Thursday, and we took them to Hannibal this weekend. We ended up with around 8-10 gallons of honey, which is a mostly ridiculous amount to get from two hives, one of which was just established a few months ago. Mark pulled 70 frames himself, so altogether, we ended up with around 30 gallons (and hundreds of pounds….) of honey this weekend between Hannibal and Marshall. I think the kids are going to try and set up a table and sell honey along the street, so we’ll see how that goes. Brooke’s going to try and contact “the powers that be” at our Farmer’s Market to see if she can set up there, in which case, we should be able to offload it relatively quickly. Plenty to get rid of!

Garden Update: 07.02.20

It’s been a minute since I updated about the garden. We’ve got some tomatoes on the vines now, including some pretty beefy big ones that’ll help make some great BLTs in a few weeks. The cherry tomatoes are moving along, but we haven’t seen any red ones yet. Also, some of Brooke’s paste tomatoes are looking to be a good size, but again, I think we’re a few weeks away.

The green beans and peppers can be seen in the lower left of the above image. No beans yet, but plenty of flowers on the plants, so in a week or so, we’ll probably be picking. It’s been pretty hot this week and last, so once that happened, the plants really started perking up.

I happened upon these margaret peppers yesterday when I was seeing why one of the plants was mostly on its side. It was apparently weighed down by huge peppers! We’ll wait until these are red, so it’ll be a bit before we can pick them, but what a pleasant surprise! We don’t usually have peppers on at this point in July, let alone peppers this size. Excellent!

Here’s a better view of the pepper plants and green beans. You can see all the flowers on there, so yeah…tons of beans coming on… At the back of this plot, Brooke planted some sunflowers, so those are slowly rising above the green bean plants.

In the background, we’ve got raspberries on the plant, so Calvin’s been going out and stealing them. The strawberries have been done for a few weeks, but we were soooooo pleased with how many we got. We were getting bowl-fulls daily for awhile there, so plenty to fill ourselves with and plenty to share! Brooke ordered some new plants, so we’ll add some more to the plot and expand it for next year. We didn’t get enough strawberries for a pie (well, total, we probably did, but not enough to split and use for other things, too…..), so gotta put more plants in.

Lastly, Brooke never planted any “pole beans” (just didn’t get around to it), but we do have a volunteer growing from last year, so we’ll probably end up with a few, regardless!

Brooke replanted the spinach and kale plot with zucchini, black beans, and soup beans. Those plants are all doing really well, but are a bit behind the green beans in total size (aside from the zucchini, of course). I need to do some weeding around that plot, and with the kids being gone next week, maybe I’ll find the motivation….(hah!).

The lettuce is looking good still, too! Probably getting done with it in the next two weeks, but we’ve had a good run of lettuce this year! Brooke dehydrated the kale and put it through the food processor, so we’ve got a few pint jars of powdered kale sitting in the freezer. What will we do with it? Who knows! Expect Christmas presents of powdered kale. 🙂

Last, but not least, so many peaches! Like, I said this last year too, but this year is so many more. Unfortunately, the japanese beetles have reared their ugly little heads, so Brooke’s already doing battle with them while I spray neem oil every week. Not sure it’s actually doing any good, but it makes me feel like I’m trying, at least…..

That’ll do for now! Another post coming once we start getting ‘maters!!

Milestone!

I mostly just wanted to post this for posterity, but Calvin is riding a bike! Yay!

I suggested it to him a few weeks ago, that we could go up to Meg’s old elementary school asphalt and he could ride around in circles, getting some practice in. We tried doing something similar last year at his old school, and while he was able to do some light biking, he didn’t have much control, confidence, and couldn’t really start the bike by himself.

What a difference a year makes! This time, I think I held the bike once to get him started. After that, he listened to my instructions (“Start with your right foot down, and put your left foot on the pedal so you can push down with it and get yourself started”…stuff like that…) and just kinda did it! To be fair, he also had his knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist pads on this time, so maybe he just felt invincible?

After a few times around the black top, he took off the pads to get a bit more flexibility and, again, he just kinda did it! He really didn’t struggle at all, except for the occasional pause when he’s trying to get his feet in the right position to get started.

That first day, he wasn’t great at using his brakes, but he asked to go again later that week (“Well, of course we can go biking again!!!” said the very proud father), so that time, he focused on gradually pushing backwards on the pedals to slow down a bit, rather than coming to a complete stop.

That day, he also went down the hill on the road a bit, so that’s probably the fastest he’s gone. We went again yesterday and he did the hill one more time. We also brought Brooke along so she could see him in action.

We’re talking about getting another bike now, as this one is a little on the small side for Calvin, and it most definitely won’t fit him next Summer. We’re still working on convincing Meg to actually put forth an effort on riding a bike (she’s pretty stubborn about it….wonder where she gets that from?), but I think seeing Calvin doing it so easily and having fun makes her think that she could probably do it without falling and hurting herself.

Regardless, I’m not officially not a failure as a parent. I’ve got at least one kid riding a bike, and enjoying it. 🙂

Kayaking Adventures

Since our vacation plans were derailed this year (we were supposed to have been in Yellowstone last week……ug…..), we’ve tried coming up with some fun alternatives that will still be memorable for the kids. A few weeks ago, Brooke and I took our inflatable kayak that we got last summer down a stretch of the nearby Lamine River. It’s a little less than 6 miles and took us about 3 hours to do it, but three weeks ago, the river had more water in it and was moving a bit faster.

Brooke looked into getting a youth-size kayak for Meg to use, so Calvin and I could just use our inflatable, and Meg and Brooke could use traditional fiberglass versions. They checked around, thought there were some at Walmart in Sedalia, drove down….didn’t find any at the store….and essentially, it sounds like most places are out of kayaks. It sounds like everyone else is thinking the same thing we are: fewer vacation options, so find stuff to do closer to home, and kayaks are a relatively cheap option for that.

Well, once we figured that out, Brooke tried ordering another one of our inflatable kayaks from Amazon, but those were back-ordered (again, the aforementioned “everyone is buying them all the sudden,” but also “harder to get things shipped in from China). Thankfully, they over-estimated the back-order and a second kayak arrived on Friday. Yesterday’s weather was less pleasant, so we ended up going today.

Overall, the kids did pretty well! We tried to warn them that this was a pretty “lazy river,” so it wasn’t a particularly fast float. The novelty of kayaking wore off pretty quick, so Brooke and I ended up doing most of the paddling, though Meg and Calvin would have their moments where they wanted to actually help out a bit. We brought along some snacks and drinks, so we could slowly release those here and there to keep them occupied.

By the time we were done, it took about 3.5 hrs of paddling, and all things considered, the kids did alright in that period of time sans screens and other entertainment. Brooke and I were both pretty tired by the time we got to the end, so it’ll probably be an early bedtime tonight.

In the end, it was very tiring, but we’re still glad we did it! We may want to hold off on doing a “camp and float” trip, but now that the kids have a better understanding for just how long this can take, maybe they’ll have realistic expectations when we propose: ‘hey, wanna go on a float trip?’

Garden Update 06.08.20

As I’ve made pretty clear with the last few points, we’ve been friggin’ busy these last few weeks, but while we’ve been busy inside the house, the garden has been doing its thing with some minimal intervention from us (aside from a little weeding here and there).

Brooke planted green beans a few weeks ago, and only in the past few days, they’ve finally started looking pretty good. We had a bout of cooler, rainy weather that wasn’t all that conducive to our hot-weather plants, so now that we’ve had weather in the upper-80s and lower-90s for the past 5 days, the beans are finally making headway.

The green pepper plants south of the beans are also finally looking better. It just took some sun showing up for them to finally take off. I wouldn’t say we’re out of the woods yet on them, though, as they’re pretty small. Brooke also added some sunflower seeds to the north part of the plot, so they’re up and moving around. We’ll see how they turn out…

The tomatoes are also finally taking off. I pulled the milk jugs off of them a few weeks ago because the plants were getting too big, but even then, they slowed down their growth due to the aforementioned cooler weather. The four varieties we’re running are all moving at around 3 plants apiece. We’ll have to see. Got another month or so to go on them…but we’re optimistic…

Today, I tilled up the last bit of the garden that wasn’t planted yet. Brooke put in more kale and spinach, as that part of the garden is relatively shady and will hopefully give us some leafy greens later on in the summer. I think this is the first time we’ve tried planting those things in mid-June, so we’ll see how that goes.

Speaking of spinach and kale, the former is mostly done (though they’re still in the garden), and the latter is ready for harvest. The kale is still looking pretty good though, so Brooke will probably pull it sometime later this week.

In the plot that previously hosted the radishes, Brooke planted zucchini. We’ve planted it before, but I don’t recall much coming of it. Instead of a mound, Brooke put them in a row. Again, this is a “we’ll see” kinda deal.

The garlic is still doing its thing, too. Waiting for them to be done!

Speaking of radishes, we got a lot! Only a few of them, thus far, are what I’d qualify as “good.” A few of the ones I’ve tried are pretty tough and fibrous, but I’m not ready to toss them all out yet.

The real story of the summer thus far is the strawberries, though. We’re getting at least a bowl like this every day, but we’ve been fighting against the slugs for them… These tiny little things keep getting the strawberries right at the “ripe” point, so we’re picking them just a day early to make sure we get some. We’ve given some to the neighbors and to my parents so far, and even with that, we’ve ended up with enough to put on ice cream and put in a breakfast cake, so we’re very satisfied with the crop!

In other news, Brooke planted some sage and bee balm in the raised bed to go with the other herbs. They’re not doing much yet, but the lettuce is finally looking good. We’ll probably have more salads next week, or at least some sandwiches. Too bad we don’t have tomatoes to go with a BLT just yet…

Today, Brooke started picking cherries! Infamously, we got a single, solitary, sad little cherry last year. This year, we’ve got quite a few more than that! Brooke said this was maybe 10% of what’s on the tree right now, so we’ve got a bit to go. We’ll probably pick every other day or so, but we’ve heard that rain can make them split, and as it’s supposed to rain the next few days, we may have to pick a few early again. Still, better than last year!

Speaking of “better than last year,” peaches. So many peaches. All the peaches.

And last but not least, the bees are doing their thing! Again, it’s been hot these last few days, so they’ve been bearding frequently. The existing hive is the one with the ridiculous numbers, but the new hive is still doing fine. I’ve noticed some bearding, but there simply just aren’t as many bees in that southern hive as in the northern one. Brooke needs to hop into the hive and see how much honey they’re putting away, but I would bet we’ve got enough to harvest by July 4th.

Onward, Summer!

The New Bedroom, Part VII

Home stretch!

As I mentioned in the previous post about this, Brooke caulked the corners and the gaps that were created along the top and bottom of the walls. We went with a second coat of primer, and a third in the spots that seemed like it really needed it. And after all that……..

…finally….PAINT!

AND MOAR PAINT!!!

Once the paint went on, we made significant headway, with me painting large swaths during the day and Brooke “cutting in” along the edges at the points where I’m just not all that patient.

Then, when Brooke was at work, I took care of the carpet. And it took me the whole day. And I had a bed frame to work around… Honestly, the carpet removal didn’t take all that long: I had it all off the wood by the time Brooke was home for lunch. It’s the tedious removal of all the staples that takes forever, but I still had that taken care of by the time Brooke got home after work.

At that point, we were so close that we just finished it all off. I’d vacuumed the floor a few times, but Brooke came back through and wiped it all down, vacuumed again, and put the finishing touches on the floor. We brought the new rug in from downstairs, Brooke put in the new Roman shades, she put in the new light fixtures, and….voila!

After we’ve got everything done, I’ll post additional pictures of it. Meg’s room and our room still need some things on the walls, and we’ve got new furniture picked out….just waiting on Ikea to open up to the point where I can actually go get it in KC… So yeah, we’ll have one last post with how everything gets reset.

Hopefully sooner rather than later, but for now, we’re all back where we belong and things are looking good!