A Few More Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery

I’ve posted on this subject before and figured, now that we’re in “post-mortem” mode, I should mention a few thoughts at the completion of season 1.

  • I still think the acting was great.  Especially compared with previous outings like Enterprise and the first few seasons of Voyager, just about every actor in this season was top notch.
  • The writing…faltered a bit as the season went on.  Other posts from the internet illiterati harped on it to a degree that was a bit hyperbolic, in my opinion, but they do have a point in that the writing of this season dealt in a lot of fan service for the sake of fan service.  Case in point in the final shot in the season, pictured above: the USS Enterprise shows up with Captain Pike at the helm.  The series takes place 10 years prior to TOS, so yes, the Enterprise should be flying through the cosmos…but did we really need to see this?  Doesn’t this invite all kinds of other questions (because, you know, Spock is on that Enterprise…and his sister we didn’t know anything about is on Discovery…soooooo…how are they gonna play that off??).  At the same time, the geek in me says “ooooo, oooo, oooo, it’s the Enterprise!!!!!”  I guess I’m cautiously optimistic, but the writers did this all season, from the appearance(s) of Harry Mudd to visiting the Mirror Universe.  Revisiting old characters and environments rather than “braving new worlds, seeking new life and new civilizations”…  It’s a “two steps forward, one step back” sort of problem.
  • I liked the Mirror Universe arc.  Again, it wasn’t entirely new in the annals of Star Trek, but I think Discovery kinda fleshed out an interesting place that really brings our current times (i.e. Trump) into stark perspective of where we humans could go in a few generations if fascism were to take hold.
  • In the end, I think the writers did a decent job of “hanging a lantern” on the fact that this season has been pretty “dark,” as a whole. Burnham’s speech draws attention to this aspect and says “no, we’re better than that.”  If anything, it provides a platform for a “re-set” for season 2 that allows them to move in a more hopeful, “Star Trekky” direction.

Ultimately, I was happy with the season.  Would I prefer it be on network CBS or be on Netflix?  Sure?  But it was worth the extra money to pay for CBS All Access.  Could the writing have been tighter?  Yes, but they were serving quite a few masters this season, just to prove they could bring the audience (and by all accounts, CBS All Access gained viewership solely because of it).

If anything, I’m encouraged by the zeitgeist surrounding Discovery.  Most of the news outlets I follow had a plot synopsis after each episode.  Granted, the internet is a far different place from when Star Trek Enterprise left the air, but I just can’t see plot synopses being an important aspect of the internet just after airing back then.  I feel like the world cared far more about this than any previous property since TNG.  Even though fans wrung their hands at certain aspects of the season, the fact that they watched showed that people still care about Trek on television, rather than relegating it to the movie franchises.

I think that’s a “win,” all by itself.

A Welcome Thaw

They live!

I’ve been meaning to post something for a bit, but with the weather we’ve had these past few weeks, we haven’t done all that much! In the past month, we had a few nights in the -10 F range and at least a week where we didn’t go above freezing. Last Tuesday, school was cancelled for Meg because we weren’t expected to get above 10 F, and apparently waiting for a bus when it’s -3 F in the morning isn’t ideal…

Anyway, this past week, temperatures started getting up into the 40 F range for once, getting rid of the snow we had last week…  Yesterday, we made it into the 50s (though I was on campus working with a Science Olympiad competition we were running, so I didn’t get to really enjoy the weather all that much), and today, we’re in the mid-60s.  Not bad for late-January!

We’ve been keeping an eye on the bees throughout this process, as they don’t survive well when it’s below 0 F for extended periods of time.  Generally, as long as you’ve got enough bees in a hive, they can surround the queen and flap their wings enough to keep everyone warm and survive.  We had some much colder days this winter than last winter, though, so we weren’t sure how they’d handle it.

Based on the picture above, they did just fine!  Brooke got in and put in a solid feeder “cake” sort of thing to get them through the rest of winter (at least, most of the way there) and she pulled off the super to keep them concentrated in the lower portions of the hive.  They’re pretty active on a day like today, so hopefully they don’t burn through the rest of their food supply thinking it’s Spring (hint: it isn’t).

Better late than never, right?

In other news, in keeping with this blog’s need to post everything garden-related possible, here are some popcorn ears Brooke finally picked.  Because, you know…it’s January.

Not that long ago!

Like I said, we had some snow last week on Martin Luther King Day when both kids were off school, so it was the perfect time for Calvin to go sledding for the first time.  Again, it hasn’t gotten than cold the past few years and, incidentally, we haven’t had enough snow for sledding since we first moved here, so Calvin hasn’t been old enough to enjoy it yet.

He took to it like a champ. 🙂

Review: Justice League

Let’s be honest: I really wasn’t planning on seeing Justice League in theaters.  I didn’t particularly care for Man of Steel, I thought Batman v Superman was pretty dumb, and critics largely panned Justice League.  But, Travis thought it’d be fun to see The Last Jedi and Justice League back-to-back (refillable popcorn and soda, right?), so I obliged.

DC did a pretty good job with Wonder Woman, which I rented before seeing Justice League.  Her character is probably the best developed of all of the DC superheros on the big screen, at this rate, as Batman has only appeared in this iteration in one movie, and Superman spent much of his time “becoming Superman” in his first movie that we didn’t really get to see much of the hero himself until Batman v Superman (which was a bad movie).  Of all the characters, the viewer cares about Wonder Woman, whereas most of these rest of these characters are just unlikable.

I shouldn’t go that far: we hadn’t even met Cyborg, Aquaman or Flash before this movie, so we had to “get to know them” for a pretty solid chunk.  All three are…”fine”…but viewers had little reason to be invested in their backstories.  Marvel did a far better job of this in the MCU by breaking out all of the Avengers into their own separate movies before throwing them together against an all-powerful villain.  In Justice League, we spend so much time learning the backstory of Flash, Cyborg and to a lesser degree, Aquaman, that we don’t have much of a reason to care about their presence.

Speaking of “all-powerful villains,” our baddie in this movie was Steppenwolf.  Seriously. Who the heck is Steppenwolf, you may be asking?  Well, besides writing “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride,” he apparently first appeared in the 1970s and shows up literally “from time to time” in DC comics history.  The Wikipedia entry on this guy illustrates how “not really interesting” this villain is.  Certainly no Lex Luthor or Doomsday (who was utterly wasted in Batman v Superman)…  It’s likely DC only went with Steppenwolf to foretell the appearance of Darkseid, but seriously, DC, what were you thinking?!  An entirely CG character that most people have never heard of as your first villain against your “super team” for what should be the biggest movie in your universe??!!

So yeah, the villain, not so good.  The character development, not so good.  Effects?  Well, the last 30-40 minutes were filmed on a green screen.  Just about literally.  And it was very noticeable.

Ultimately, not a fan of this one.  I really didn’t expect to love it, but glad I saw it so I can rail on it more intelligently.  It definitely had a few comedic lines, but it’s no wonder Ben Affleck wants to run from the franchise as soon as he possibly can…

Review: Star Wars – The Last Jedi

I generally liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the film prior to this one in the more modern take on the classic Star Wars franchise.  My main gripe with The Force Awakens was that it was in many was a rehash of the very first Star Wars movie.  It was a very well done “rehash,” but it was basically the same thing with prettier effects and better acting.

The hope was that the next movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, would  build upon that foundation without becoming a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back and, for the most part, it isn’t that.  Instead, it mixes and matches elements of Empire with Return of the Jedi, while also trying to drive the franchise in a somewhat different direction.

Regarding the plot, we pick up just about where we left off after Force Awakens: the First Order is chasing the Resistance, trying to stamp them out after they successfully destroyed the Starkiller Base in the previous movie; and Rey is trying to get Luke Skywalker to return to the fold and take on Kylo Ren.  Again, in many ways, this is how Empire Strikes Back took shape, as Luke was seeking Yoda’s help in exile.  This movie doesn’t involve taking refuge in Cloud City, but instead involves a race against the clock where the First Order capital ships are slowly picking away at Resistance ships as they run out of fuel.  Various characters try to get help in order to ensure that our heroes make it safely to an old Rebel base where they hope to wait out the First Order and survive to fight another day.

Ultimately, this part of the story wasn’t all that impressive to me.  It seemed “small” to me.  Not really “galactic destiny hanging in the balance”-type stuff.  I suppose Empire Strikes Back wasn’t really about that either, but oh well.

The real story in this movie centers on Rey and Luke, and then Rey and Kylo Ren.  Luke Skywalker is resistant to returning because he feels responsible for what happened to Kylo.  At the same time, he recognizes the same power in Rey that Kylo had, so he doesn’t want to screw up with her like he did with him.

There are quite a few spoilery elements that could be avoided, but I’m going to mention one here because it’s been making the rounds among the internet illiterati since the movie came out.  The Force Awakens takes great pains to not tell the viewers who Rey’s parents are, even though she’s trying to find out, herself.  Everyone speculated that she’s somehow related to the Skywalker line just like Kylo Ren is (whose parents are Leia and Han Solo).  In The Last Jedi, we found out that her parents are…nobody!  Just random traders who gave her up for cash, effectively.

Personally, I’m fine with this.  However, it opens up a “can of worms,” so to speak, where just about anyone is now capable of using “force powers” (this is alluded to in a few other scenes near the end of the movie).  Some feel that “the force” is cheapened, where you don’t have to be “special” anymore to wield a lightsaber or control minds.  If Rey is, in fact, a “nobody,” then anyone can do this if they train for it.  It also calls into question why, exactly, the Jedi died out in the first place, if they could have just made more Jedi.

So yeah, again, I’m fine with this revelation about her heritage.  But this seemingly significant change to Star Wars canon (among many others that show up in this movie) make me question where they’re going for Episode IX.  The Last Jedi contains elements of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, so it kinda wraps things up and doesn’t leave much else aside from a final confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren.  While I’m sure that could be interesting, I’m a bit afraid they’re going to keep milking this for longer than they should.  They need to be done with this leg of the franchise after Episode IX and should start an entirely new trilogy in a decade or more with Episode X.

The Last Jedi sets it up for “The Next Generation” to take over better than The Force Awakens did, but I’m afraid they’re only really leaving one movie for that to happen.  Which means Episode IX has a lot to do in order to bring this trilogy to a close effectively.

I hope they can do it.  This movie was solid and entertaining.  It was well made, well acted, and though long at 2.5 hours, it didn’t feel too long. There were too many CGI characters, but most of them were focused in a few scenes that I forgot about it after awhile.

Ultimately, much like The Force Awakens, it’s tough to fully judge The Last Jedi until we’ve got Episode IX available to watch.

Review: Thor – Ragnarok

It’s been a busy few weeks, so it took me a little longer than I preferred to get this written down, but I loved Thor: Ragnarok when I saw it two weekends ago.

First, let me back up a sec: I generally haven’t been a fan of the Thor movies.  The first one was boring, had way too much CG going on, and I really didn’t care for any of the characters.  The second one, Thor: The Dark World, was less boring, but still didn’t seem all that necessary in the grand scheme of things (Note: Technically, they did bring in one of the Infinity Stones, but they didn’t make a big deal about it until after the credits, so did it really matter all that much?  I guess not?  Who knows).

Anyway, the very first trailer for Ragnarok set a different tone from the outset: this movie would be funny and irreverent, and likely a departure from the earlier Thor movies.  It made it look more like a sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy than Thor.  Heck, it used Immigrant Song in a trailer to great effect.

And it didn’t disappoint.

The film kicks off with Thor in a precarious situation that involves more comedic lines than the entirety of the first two movies, so the viewer gets a good idea of what to expect.  Chris Hemsworth‘s comedic chops have been used to great effect in other movies like Ghostbusters, so it’s good to let him “breathe” a bit in his own Marvel movie.  He’s certainly been funny in the Avengers franchise, but never to this level.  After returning home to Asgard, he finds things are not as he left it because his brother, Loki, has surreptitiously been leading in their father’s place.

Cutting a bit forward, due to some pretty important plot bits, their sister, Hela, breaks out of her prison and seeks to take out Asgard.  In the process, Thor is banished to Sakaar, where a series of intergalactic gladiatorial games take place.  Conveniently, Thor finds Hulk there, where he’s been for the past few years since Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The rest of the plot, predictably, involves their return (with the help of a new character, Valkyrie) to Asgard to fight Hela and her minions.

“Predictably” kinda sums up the movie, really.  It’s pretty obvious where things go, especially if you’ve seen any of the trailers, but it’s just so darned fun, you don’t really care.  They finally get into a rhythm in this movie where you have fun while you watch, rather than dealing with Thor’s brooding personality that was established in previous films.  It’s almost as if he’s a completely new character, when in reality, it’s Hemsworth finally getting to just be himself.

Ultimately, though the plot was predictable, I still had a great time with it.  Already pre-ordered it to add to the collection.

 

Edith Ann Linsenbardt: ca. 2000 – 2017

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…

Back in 2013

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.

Iowa, 2010

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.

Marshall, 2014

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).

In 2011

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 Visit to the Kansas City Zoo

We went to the zoo!

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.

Nana went, too!

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).

No screaming goats, sadly…

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.

Jellyfish! No peanut butter, sadly…

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.

We did hit up Trader Joe’s as we left KC though, so that made the trip extra worth it.  Got some Dark Chocolate Stars before the Christmas rush hit!  Mmmmmm…

We Bought A Boat!

Let’s be honest: we only bought it to make the Subaru look cooler…

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.

The rooftop carrier we’ll actually use…

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…

So, About That New ‘Star Trek’ Show…

 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 on its streaming service, All Access, as just watching that first episode does no one any favors…
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Live long and prosper.

Garden Update: Mid-September

Beans!

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.

Tomatoes and soup beans

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.

Bounty!

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.

Pumpkin…sadly, not gonna make it…

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 think this is a watermelon…it kinda looks like 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.

Popcorn!

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…

A closer look…

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!

Raspberries, blackberries and future sweet potatoes.

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!

That peach tree is still growing great! The rest…well…

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…