Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Underwater Photo Tour!

All images taken by my buddy Philippe. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Under the sea, under the sea...

...darling it's better, down where it's wetter, take it from me!
That's right, I was under the sea last weekend. I went to West Palm Beach, Florida to do some 4th of July diving, and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, blogger doesn't want to let me upload any of Philippe's beautiful underwater pictures right now, but I will try again later. Here are some pictures of me taken on the surface.
In this one, the boat is leaving for our first dive of the day. I am a little bit excited.

Fast forward! Here I am, coming up from my second dive, floating in the ocean, waiting for the boat to come get me.

From the look on my face, it was a good dive!
And here's the crew. This is my Saturday dive team at the Aquarium.
From left to right: John, Greg (my dive instructor), me, Philippe, Kat, Lonnie, and Chris in front. I love this group of people, there's always fun to be had with them, and they are all so generous.

Well, unfortunately, that's it for now. There are some really REALLY cool underwater pics coming, I promise!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

And now... the end is near...

Well, here are some updates on the state of the garden and the yard. See for yourself how we're drowning!

Ok, so it's not QUITE that bad. But it's bad.

First I take you on a tour of the swamp that I call a backyard. Listen closely, you can hear my footsteps squishing through the yard as I walk. It's so depressing! I wish we could just have a week of no rain so we can dry out a little!

So that's the backyard, and now on to the garden. It definitely doesn't look as nice as it once did. I haven't gotten out there to weed - first because it never stopped raining, and now because of the mosquitoes and fire ants. Ugh! I am thinking I will do my best to harvest what is left, and either start over or wait until the Fall to do a Fall/Winter garden with lettuce, broccoli and cabbage, etc. I am definitely going for raised beds, either way, and I need materials to make those, and materials = money, so we'll see where we're headed with that.

In all this sogginess, there are two plants that are loving all the water. The banana tree and the cypress tree are growing like crazy! Leave it to me to find the bright side...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where have I been?

Well, I've been busy, just not in the garden! I've been having all kinds of adventures, and you're about to hear about all of them!

Unfortunately, it's been raining every afternoon, evening and night, and by rain I mean torrential downpours! The garden is drowning, and I am REALLY regretting not putting in raised beds this year. But who knew? The last few years we've been in a drought, and this year I finally get a rain barrel - and now this! The worst part is that the squash and zucchini have died and I had to pull them out of the ground. Everything was rotted. The corn is following suit it seems, and something is eating the tomatoes before they can ripen. I have yet to harvest any of my roma tomatoes! Boo!
Sooooo, on a funny note, what happens when you don't get out into the garden as often and don't look around as closely as usual? Things sneak by you, and the next thing you know you have an obscenely large (17 inch!) cucumber peeking out from the leaves. Pretty hilarious!

The first weekend in June, Dan and I were in Hugh and Meredith's wedding, so there's my excuse for not having a blog update THAT weekend. We had a lot of fun - in my case, maybe a little too much fun. I learned that I can't just have a few glasses of wine anymore without feeling it the next day... could this be the first signs of being a (gasp!) real adult? I hope not!

Another fun adventure Dan and I partook in (with our friend Keith) was going to a Riverdogs game. At the top of the fifth, this monstrosity loomed overhead, and the grounds crew pulled the tarp over the field for a rain delay. They turned the stadium lights off, cranked up the music and let the lightening do its thing. I can't say I've ever had that much fun at a game OR in a thunderstorm! After the storm most people had left, but the game continued on, so we went and sat in the "expensive" seats - front row, first base line. Good stuff!

Here's a clip of some of the lightening. You can't really hear how loud the music was, but trust me, it was looouuud! Keith (at the end of the video) is making fun of the announcer ooohing and aaahing over the lightening.

Very exciting: I finally got to go offshore fishing this past weekend thanks to our friend Rick, who is awesome for taking us out on his boat! (and that's my excuse for not getting the blog updated THIS weekend!) It was everything I hoped and dreaded all at the same time. I love being out in the ocean, the feeling of vastness is just amazing. I was so upset that I forgot my scuba mask, I really wanted to get in and see what was swimming around below. On the down side, I also discovered that my sea-sickness is so severe that 4 Dramamine pills can't take care of it. To add insult to injury, we ended up having to go through a thunderstorm in the harbor and we got drenched. Long story short, I think I will stay inshore and continue to fish for tasty flounder, whitings, etc. You live, you learn.
Oh, no photos of this because I was too sick, and the one picture I DID take, Rick complained that I took a shirtless picture of him, so I won't post it here. :)

Yesterday was another fun adventure. My friend Megan and I went to Cordray's farm to get our sides of grass-fed beef for the second year in a row, and Brandon, Amy and their little boy Leighton met us out there. You haven't tasted beef until you've had this meat, it is the most delicious thing EVER. It is the reason I will forever be a carnivore. The fun part though is getting to walk around and see all the animals. The Cordrays have cows, horses, (fainting!) goats, chickens and dogs, and all are entertaining. I got to feed a calf, which was really neat. I'll post a picture as soon as Amy sends it. If you want more info about Cordray's beef, click on the link in my blog list or go here: and click on the beef link. I highly recommend it!
I will try to get out to the garden and take some updated pictures of the carnage soon. Send anti-thunderstorm vibes in the meantime. We could use a break and dry out just a little.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

5 more!

I went on the war path today. After my usual check-in with the garden after church, I found 5 more cutworms (I am calling them this because I think that's what they are) in my cherry tomato. They have eaten a bunch more of the green tomatoes. I clubbed them to death with a wooden stake and left them on a wooden board for the birds. That felt good.

I DARE you, cutworms. I DARE you...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's a jungle out there!

Dan and I spent all day outside today. I already had a bit of a sinus headache, and ended up having to lay down with a wet towel on my face and neck because I overheated a bit after all the work I did - that didn't help the headache. Dan fixed the springs on the boat trailer and I did some yard work. I transplanted the creeping phlox into pots and put it on the front porch. I weeded and remulched the palm tree, and then I edged the entire front yard. Here's a photo of the day's work:

Dan working hard!

Our garden has turned into a jungle!

After the infestation, the beans are coming back strong. I pulled off all the infested leaves and as you can see the plants are recovering.

The eggplant is already as big as it was at the end of the season last year. We've eaten a bunch off this plant. You can see the ginormous zucchini in the foreground. It just keeps on growing! It has powdery mildew right now, and in my search of organic remedies, I came across an article that recommended using a milk and water mixture on the leaves. You dilute the (skim) milk 9:1 (9 parts water to 1 part milk), put it in a spray bottle and spray away! I am excited to check tomorrow and see if there is an improvement. The cucumber isn't looking too great, but it's still putting out fruit, so I'm going with it until it gives up. I haven't seen any cucumber beetles this week, and I haven't been able to find any larvae, either. I am going to have to think of a way to plant this differently next year.

Yes, I really am this dorky. I am sweaty, red-faced and gross in the pictures from today, but it was the end of the day, and I really wanted to get into the photo to give you a reference of size. These tomatoes are pretty big! This is the husky cherry tomato.

Check out how big it was when I planted it!

I actually got my first red tomato off of this plant! Doesn't it look scrumptious? Well, before you get too jealous, see the next photo...

That's right! Someone got to it before I did! I can't express how MAD I was. This meant WAR. I immediately started hunting down the culprit. It only took me a little while to find holes in several leaves of the plant, and a trail of poop! But it took me much longer to find the perpetrator, who was snoozing in a rolled-up leaf. That little bastard.

And here he is. I am pretty sure he's a cutworm of some sort. I am really thankful though that he left the plant standing and just took a tomato. Right after this photo I squished him. I felt bad, but I can't be sharing tomatoes with bugs.

Me again, this time with the peppers. In front of me are the bell pepper and jalapeno. Next to me, the pimientos, and next to them the cayennes. I can't believe these runts have gotten so tall.

The bell pepper (in front here) has about 10 peppers on it. Wow, can you say stir-fry?

Here I am modeling with the roma tomato plant. If you look at the lower middle part of the plant you can see the green tomatoes!

A few more views of the jungle - bring your safari hat!

Can you believe it looked like this two months ago? Looks like there is plenty of room for everything, but now I'm thinking I need to expand even more!

And speaking of things that grow fast, the muscadine is finally growing over the top of the arbor! AND I found another volunteer seedling in the front yard - thanks birds who poop off the roof! The seedling is currently sitting in a vase of water, I am thinking about where I want to plant it.

We have been having garden veggies almost every night. Here's just a sample of what we're having: eggplant, squash, zucchini, beans, jalapeno, cilantro and basil. Tonight I made zucchini/chicken casserole from a recipe that I made up on my own. It was delicious!

My goal for next week: EAT A HOME-GROWN TOMATO! If I fail at accomplishing this goal, there will probably be some more cutworms swimming with the fishes. That's right pests, be warned!