Gardens and Photos on Two Circular Needles

This is the first bell pepper on the pepper plant.  It is about three inches long.  Two days ago it was the size of a thimble, but in the perfect pepper shape.  There are also several oblong jalapenos on it’s neighbor.  Chris tasted one and said it’s fiery.  My little rolling cart is in the background. 

These tomatoes are a very deep green at the top, lighter green underneath.  They are Carmels.  Can’t wait to see what the final product looks like.  I have literally dozens of green tomatoes on various plants now.  We’ve begun to eat them.  This is what heaven tastes like:  diced tomatoes and diced avocado with ginger dressing.  Dayna invented that salad.  Thank goodness they taught her to share in preschool.

 The last night of reunion, we had an impromptu talent show.  One niece is a bellydancer who has performed in many productions and she gave a performance full of subtlety and grace.  Some of her movements were the most delicate, flirty hip shakes, not the ferociously vigorous movements that you see in some styles of bellydance.  My dad was imitating her the next morning at breakfast, waving his hands in front of him and shaking his shoulders.  His version looked more like a hula.

This is my foot on the carpet at Cass Spa and Salon today.  Dayna and I went for haircuts and enjoyed our leisurely stay.  For some reason, they let me sit in the special lounge close to where Dayna was, instead of leaving me in the waiting room (which is also quite nice).  I couldn’t resist taking photos.  You can see I was wearing my classy Journeys sneakers.  Of course our haircuts were a success.  We look chic.  Mine is very short with a sassy shape.  Dayna looks like one of those hair models in Shear Genius, long layers and side-swept bangs. 

 Ignore the haircut on the woman  in this photo.  It’s the “before” version.  That’s me with my knitting nephew.  He requested that I teach him to knit a cap, so he was learning the two circulars method.  He had several inches on a cap when we left.  Prior to this, he could only knit scarves and blankets.  He made a nice piece of money from his classmates and friends over the past two years.  My second sister, his grandmother, taught him to knit.  He’s fast. 


The same nephew is also fast at speed Scrabble.  He whipped me badly most games.  Today I taught Chris to play.  I’m having a brief respite from humiliation while he learns the game and gets up to speed.  It’s kind of fun to play at a slower pace, where I can experiment with longer and more effective words and interesting arrangements.  Just as when I was learning, Dayna played as his partner, coaching and helping him get used to the less-structured, ever-changing matrix. 


Tomorrow I am going to be strong and my endurance will improve.  I must stand at the sink and blocking area and work on some completed knitting that just needs the finishing.  I hate being stalled at this spot, because no one else can do it besides me, and I am itching to see the end product.  Meanwhile, I’ve sat still and had my fevers (even at the salon) and knitted on blanket strips. 




…and Poof, the B Cells Disappeared

In front of me I have two chemocaps.  Panda Cotton cap: 

Panda Cotton is 59% bamboo, 25% cotton, 16% elastic nylon.  Knit on size 2 circulars with two sets of ribs at the bottom and a spiral crown.  It is so soft and fluid, beautiful stitch definition.  My in-laws’ friend should be comfortable even if his scalp becomes sensitive. 

Crystal Palace Poof cap:     Knit on size 8 circulars, all garter stitch.  Gorgeous eyes belong to the daughter.  She makes everything look charming.  Poof is nylon microfiber, washable and soft to the scalp. 

I finished the Panda Cotton hat tonight.  Absolutely love it.  I might have to make one for myself.  All my knitting work today went into this hat.  I’m ready to pick up something else now. 


I was hoping to get some photos of tomatoes tonight.    I took the camera out in the dark. This is a cluster of six on the Black Plum plant.  They are approximately two inches long now, but still no hint of red on this bunch.  The ripe ones stay dark green on one end, and the inside is very dark green, almost black.  Very pretty. 


  This photo shows the largest of the tomatoes right now.  It is about three inches in diameter, and continues to grow, despite quite a few dead leaves surrounding it.  This plant is one of two that seem to be dying, but the tomatoes keep on coming.  As photos, these are the pits, but they do illustrate my undying affection for my readership, that I would risk my limbs to voracious mosquitos in order to document the fruit that I’ve been discussing. 


I know that you aren’t hanging on for my photography anyway.  It’s my utter ruthlessness in taking the machine gun to those B cells and calling a funky immune system a funky, malfunctioning immune system!  I’m such a peaceable person otherwise.  When my daughter was little, she would tell me “Mama, you have to tell me that you’ll kill me if I do that again.”  She wanted me to threaten her like her friends’ parents threatened them.  I couldn’t do it with a straight face.  When you hear me say “I’d like to slap him into next week” I am expressing a totally cerebral feeling.  I’ve only had one physical fight in my life.  It was in sixth grade.  I was surprised, attacked in the girls’ bathroom, and I didn’t have a clue how to fight back.  Ouch.


Thanks for the good health wishes.  I am even dreaming about being healthy.  Last night I was at work, knowing that sooner or later I’d be sick again, but determined that I’d do clinical work.  It was fun until an elderly lady pooped on the exam room floor.  Sigh.  Must have been a warning to stay home.  Not that I ever had that experience in my office. 


I have enough to do at home, for goodness sake.  I hope no one is reading through posts, counting the projects that were mentioned and then never showed up again.  For instance, at family reunion I’m going to encounter the niece for whom I started a cotton blanket in January.  The blanket is only half completed.  I’m going to take some of the Cozy Cotton with me and knit like crazy, so she will see that I truly have good intentions.  Dayna has been using her blanket at home, and it makes me feel wonderful to see it loved and used.  I want the niece to have hers before the next school term starts. 


I am rambling.  And yawning.  And, so sorry, one eye is on Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. 


Dude, This is Not a Flare

This is my one hundred and eighty-sixth post.  I think at two hundred there should be a celebration, but I’m not sure what.  The numbers are important to me only as reminders that I have persisted with this task.  I never set out to achieve any particular number of posts, and I can easily foresee writing for years to come, so there isn’t a “goal” number of posts.  But I do want to schedule a little happy dance with my 10 year-old self, so we can sing “we’re doing it, we’re doing it”, a little rejoicing in the pleasure of writing. 


This week I read this:  A Northern Family’s Role in the Slave Trade,, about the DeWolf family of Rhode Island.   I currently live in the south, but the point of this referral is not to gloat that slavery also existed in the north.  Instead, I read this as a courageous exploration by nine family members, descendants of a prominent slave-trading family.  They investigated their family’s history and traced the route of the slave trade from Ghana in West Africa, where the slaves were obtained, to Cuba, where the family had plantations, to New England, where the family became powerful due to their lucrative business.  The family members were even willing to acknowledge and examine their current privileged existence and it’s direct relationship to their roots.  I applaud their honesty and bravery.  Another small piece of the conversation on race that is overdue in the U.S. 


I am not more suspicious than the next person.  In fact, I am a pragmatist.  If I can foretell the future (as sometimes I can, in an odd way), then I accept that I have an uncommon family trait and there’s nothing crazy or evil about it.   On the other hand, when I spend paragraphs describing how well I’m doing one day, and have a recurrence of severe symptoms the next, I have to wonder if I jinxed myself by publicly revelling in my recent good health.  I’m sitting here, enduring the nausea from a pain pill, typing with stiff fingers and moving my legs restlessly to try and find relief from intense knee pain.  Are you kidding me?  Has my B-cell production mechanism suddenly swung into full gear and started pouring a fresh crop of cells back into my marrow?  I don’t want this to be the start of a flare.  I want it to be some fluke produced by the confluence of high temperatures, the Riverbend Festival, and the length of my hair, and further provoked by indulging in three different kinds of hummus in one week. 


While I am letting that inner voice plead with the Big One (“please, God, not the flare”), I am working on a conscious denial:  this is not a flare.  This cannot be a flare.  No lupus flares this week, buddy.  I am not starting into a flare.  No, nein, non, no eyebrow-plucking way can this be a flare.  Un-unh.  Nope.  Not even gonna talk about.  It. 


My dog got into the compost and filched a meal of rotten food.  She’s paid the price.  Nausea (I sympathize, Lu), vomiting, diarrhea…bad doggy stomach symptoms.  I feel guilty.  The compost bin needs repairs-no, it needs rebuilding.  No more old Rubbermaid storage thingie with holes punched in it.  Time for a custom, homemade, wooden pen, accessible only to earthworms. 


But man, that compost is doing the job!  Today, two more plants, both of the Goose Lake tomatoes, have little baby tomatoes growing.  It’s amazing how true these guys are to their genetics.  I have five pairs of tomato plants, of five different origins.  So far, it seems that the members of each pair grow at the same rate and begin to produce at the same time, to the day.  I go out and examine the plants every morning.  I’m fascinated to see this pre-ordained path of development. 


Tomorrow is World Wide Knit in Public Day.  I plan to be there with or without pain and stiffness (which I’m sure won’t be present, because this is not a flare).  10:30 a.m. at Niedlov’s, dude. 



Checking on the Crop and (Gasp!) Beeturia

Chris planted these peppers this week – two red bell peppers and a jalapeno.   He likes to cook spicey.  This week he made an Alfredo sauce that was out of this world, so good that I got extra and dipped bread in it.  I was eating the whole wheat sandwich bread from Niedlov’s.  I think it’s my favorite whole wheat bread ever.  It’s soft and has a tangy flavor.  Their loaves are so beautiful that sometimes I want to buy them as works of art.  I have to remind myself that you don’t choose bread on looks.                                                             These two plants with the tomatoes on them already are the Black Plum tomatoes.  They’re supposed to grow well in pots and produce tons of tomatoes.  I’m so excited about having our own that I’m not buying them in the store.  I use canned organics in the sauces I cook right now.  I can wait for lucious organics from our own crop for everything else, especially since I can see them starting to grow.  All the plants have numerous yellow blossoms, the ones that precede the tiny fruit. 


I do think the compost that Dayna dug out and lugged across the yard has made a difference already.  The plants have grown so fast, and don’t seem to lose their moisture quite as fast as last year.  I’m watering each morning since the temperature is in the 90s daily this week. 


I found an interesting beet recipe in  I had a half-dozen small fresh beets from the Village Market, and I wanted to do something besides boil and slice them.  I don’t like pickled beets much, but I love fresh ones.  This simple recipe called for the boiled, stripped beets to be diced and added to diced hard-boiled eggs with a mayonnaise dressing.  I used half veggie mayo and half Greek yogurt, and it was terrific.  I had two big servings (probably the most beets I’ve ever eaten at one time) and the next day my urine was pink.  You know me, I had to look it up.  I discovered that beets contain betacyanin, which has numerous health benefits and gives the beet its deep red colour.  Most people have the ability to digest betacyanin and absorb it into their system, but there is a recessive gene that prevents that.  In folks who inherit two recessive genes (one from each parent), the substance isn’t broken down, and it is excreted in urine, dying the urine pink or red.  I’m dying to poll my sisters on beets and pink pee.  I don’t recall the topic coming up in the past, but we should all have this trait.  Maybe I should just make a big bowl of beet salad for family reunion, and have everyone report their results.  A big family means a nice large sample size for experimentation. 


Hopefully, some of my crop will be ready for harvest soon.  You know I’ll show you photos.  Meanwhile, I’ll be reading my new Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables, learning more ways to grow the things I love so much.