Gardening: Anticipation, Now We Wait

According to the package and everything we’ve read. These radishes should be first out, in about one week.

Carly Simon said it best:

“We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway…
Or just chasin’ after some finer day

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin'”

Well, Carly was talking about some guy she met, but if she were a gardener I’m sure she’d agree that these lyrics ring true while waiting for the fruits of your labor to arrive in the garden.

Most of the set up work is done. All three raised garden beds are as full as we dare fill them. The last frost (last night) is definitely by us…and we will transfer all of the warm weather loving seedlings to portable containers this weekend.

What’s left? Peppers, cabbage, cauliflower and one surviving rosemary plant.

Most of what is left is watering, feeding, weeding and waiting.

Operation Green Thumb should see its first harvest ready crop in one week. Radishes

The Show (Skiing) Must Go On

The largest pyramid performed on home water. Triple 4 Tiers Flanking two 2 tier Human Pyramids

As I type, the Beaverland MustSki water ski show team is on the water kicking off their first water practice of the 2021 season at Tahoe Park in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Tonight’s practice will not look like the picture above. It will look more like the two pictures below; cold, layered and safely smaller.

Wisconsin Month of May Scaled Down Pyramids. Note that everyone is in double layered wet suits.
R Dub trying to squeeze into his wet suit after a long winter’s hibernation…

Show skiing utilizes several disciplines. Ski Jumping, Bare Foot Skiing, Human Pyramids, Slalom and Two ski skills, Doubles and Trios. Multiple boat patterns are used to keep the show flowing which keeps the crowds interested. Any lulls that must take place are filled by a theme and skits known as land acts. Land acts take the focus off of the skiers and boats while they get from place to place or wait for the water to calm down before another ski act can occur.

Ski Jumpers: 1 Front Flip, 1 Gainer (Back Flip), 1 Helicopter Spin
One foot barefoot skier.
21 Girl Ballet Line As The Lines Are About To GO Tight!
21 Girl Ballet Line On The Water. The handles in a fanny hold, no hands.
Firsts Score Well In Competition. This pyramid a 4-2-44-2-4 tier pyramid had never been done in the national tournament before this one!
Rare acts score well in tournaments too. Less than 10 teams have been successful skiing a 5 tier human pyramid in the national tournament. R Dub was fortunate to be involved. I’m the 4th skier from the right on the bottom.
R Dub and Randy acting up while prefabricated pyramids set up on the dock. Yes, I’m The Ronald in this skit. I have better legs than The Donald!

I typed that tonight is the first practice on the water. The team meets in a gymnasium during the winter months to practice pyramids and doubles.

Practicing climbing skills for a four tier pyramid at Tumble Tyme Gym when the lake is still frozen.

Boat drivers are key to a good show team as well. Weekend Wally and his crack Inner Tube pulling skills will not get it done. Learning to start skiers off of a dock whether it is one skier or 24 skiers with 24 girls on their shoulders, speeds that range from 13 mph to 45 mph, and many other unique pulls that only happen in show skiing requires diverse skills.

Show Ski Driver Fun Or The Show After The Show

Show skiing is a unique sport. It not only provides entertainment at some lake communities, it is a competitive adventure for most teams. The Beaverland MustSkis are part of the Wisconsin Water Ski Federation, which is affiliated with USA Water Ski.

USA Water Ski has several divisions. The show skiing division is the National Show Ski Association. The state of Wisconsin alone is home to over 30 competitive show ski teams. The largest water ski tournament in the world is held on the third week of July each year at Lake Wazeecha, WI. Lake Wazeecha is located a few miles south of Plover, WI and a few miles east of Wisconsin Rapids, WI. The nearest town is actually Kellner, WI, but do not blink or you will drive through it without even knowing it.

Last year there were no tournaments thanks to…you guessed it…COVID19. This summer should be different. Shows will be most Sunday evenings at 6:00 pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The exceptions are the third weekend in July while they are at the regional tournament hoping to qualify for the national tournament and the second weekend in August for the national tournament.

As the team likes to say: “Ski Ya At Tahoe Park”

Gardening: Last Frost Date…Maybe

Bed C Hunkered Down Under Cover

We live in Planting Zone 5. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac the last frost of the winter/spring should be around May 5 and the first frost of fall/winter should be around October 1. We have an outdoor growing season of 148 days.

148 days. A little over 40% of the year can be devoted to outdoor gardening where we live. Other sources list slightly more conservative dates. One seed company to remain unnamed recommends planting and transferring frost sensitive plants after May 14.

It just goes to show you. Don’t believe everything…or is it anything that you read on the InterWeb. Frost was predicted to be behind us by Mother’s Day (May 5). It would seem that Mother Nature is not as nice as my mom.

Today is May 10. There is a frost warning out for 1:30 am to 8:00 am Tuesday May 11. A quick glance at my Weather Bug app shows that the temperatures during that time frame should be:

1:00 am 37 degrees

2:00 am to 4:00 36 degrees

5:00 am to 7:00 am 34 degrees

8:00 am 39 degrees

Our only bedded crop at risk are the tomatoes in Bed C. They should not be exposed to temperatures under 32 degrees. We have been pushing that temperature with some frequency the last week, with tonight and tomorrow night to be last (we hope) for the season.

Research was needed. The MIGardner is in Zone 5 too, so his YouTube Channel is my first go to. (Keep in mind that it was with his advice that we chose to plant what is outside now, including tomatoes.) He recommends covering the plants with sheets to protect against frost, but not freeze. Last week there were two nights that got into the 30s over night, we did cover with sheets on those nights.

Over the weekend, however, we were talking to a successful local gardener about a different topic. Beth is a medical professional who gets frequent calls soliciting medical advice. His wife was not feeling well and called for advice. Once I was sure that the medical malady was under control I asked Beth to get advice for our tomatoes in the predicted cold weather. Call it a Payment In Kind.

The answer was to use tarpaulin to retain as much heat as possible from the bed and plants overnight. The cover photo shows our answer to the potential frost issue. We are protecting in layers. We used four each 5 gallon buckets as props. Placed a single bed sized fitted sheet over the buckets and onto the posts of the bed. Covered the sheet with a tarp and secured it to the side of the bed with water ski tow rope.

Prolonged exposure to cold can result in damaged fruit on the tomato. If the plants look like they have become unhealthy we have a plan B. We raised a dozen tomato seedlings indoors. The five plants in Bed C can be easily replaced. In fact there are two seedlings in the house that look far superior to the ones we planted two weekends ago in Bed C.

Peter Sellers played a character named Chance in the movie “Being There”. Chance was a Washington DC gardener. One of my favorite quotes from his character is: “As long as the roots are not severed. All is good in the garden.”

Well, they are not…so…All is good in the garden.

Human Interest: Every Day Is Mother’s Day

Beth and R Dub’s Gift to Mother Jan

My mom has not received as many words in Ron’s Ramblings as dad has over the years. That’s about to change.

The picture above is our gift to mom in lieu of making the 500 mile trek to her home. That is a plant called a Kalanchoe.

What is a Kalanchoe? Great question.

The kalanchoe is a long-flowering perennial succulent that requires warm temperatures, from 60 to 85 degrees, and is very sensitive to cold. Growing well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 11, kalanchoe needs well-draining, light soil.

Mom lives in zone 5, so…this may not have been a well thought out gift. However, we did throw in a dozen chocolate brownie cookies. So, not all will be lost. If the plant stays indoors, it will be a win-win.

Mom was a stay at home mother until I was in Junior High School. That’s 7th grade for those that only now what Middle School is.

During my formative years of development she was always there. I remember her music from a very young age. The Everly Brothers was a regular album on the turntable. There were more artists, but the greatest hits of these two must’ve been my favorite. I can sing along with any Everly Brothers song played.

Mom taught me to read and to write before I entered kindergarten. She taught me how to tie my shoe laces in a bow knot.

My grade school was 4 blocks from our home. She walked me to and from school until she was sure that I could make the trek safely on my own.

Mom and dad both took care of a large garden in our 1 acre backyard. However, harvesting was heavy in mom’s category. I remember being with her to pick peas, radishes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, cabbage, kohlrabi and whatever else they decided to plant in any particular season.

My favorite crops to harvest with mom were sweet peas, kohlrabi and sweet corn. We would take the peas out of the pods. The process always started with me eating as many as I harvested. Fresh raw sweet peas are a wonderful treat. Don’t get me started on sweet corn straight from the field and onto the table. Plus mom would reward my efforts of harvesting by allowing me to sell sweetcorn to the neighbors door to door.

Kolrabi was a crop that would not make it out of the garden if I could help it. Picking them straight off the plant and eating them was the best way to consume them. To this day, I love anything from the Brassicaceae or cabbage family of plants.

Harvesting potatoes in the fall was a family affair. All four family members were needed for that. Dad would plow up the dirt; then mom, Randy and I would pick through the dirt and pick out potatoes. It was like a treasure hunt.

The Wilkie acre included 3 apple trees, 2 peach trees, one cherry tree and a grape vineyard. Harvest time for these crops and several vegetables like beans, and tomatoes meant canning.

Mom had a pressure cooker that she correctly would not let Randy or I touch under any circumstance. Pressure cookers were the Turkey Fryers of the 60s and 70s. If they were not used safely they would blow up. It could ruin a weekend…

Beth believes that the memories from my youth are fueling my passion for our current gardening adventure.

Mom loves soft serve ice cream as do I. We are both night owls.

I love to cook. Most of my youth was spent at home watching her cook and clean. I didn’t acquire a love of cleaning… But, my passion was accelerated in Junior and Senior High School when she began to work full time outside of the house.

The necessity to cook for myself increased in college. I spent zero days in dormitory life. So cooking was the only way to eat. Sure like most other broke college students the staples were ramen noodles, mac n cheese, frozen pizza, and bologna sandwiches. However there were opportunities to make real food. Watching mom prepared me for adulthood plus the art and science of cooking.

Mom’s home was always open to my friends. No one was unwelcome who showed up with me or to visit me. Mom does not have my love of cooking, but she’s a great cook and just try to drag her out of her kitchen when visiting her home.

She is ever the caretaker. Her younger siblings will tell you that she was more mother than sister growing up. She’s the second oldest of 8 children. Her siblings not only love each other, they hang out together frequently. That’s pretty cool.

That’s my mom. Pretty cool, pretty sharp. Just plain pretty.

Happy Mother’s Day mom. Wish we could’ve been there. See you soon!

R Dub Writing This Post

Gardening: Bucket Potato Sprouts

R Dub and Beth were very excited to see sprouts in these buckets on Thursday. Yes we are easily excited…

For those keeping score. There is news to report on the potatoes we planted in 5 gallon buckets.

Our earlier post “What’s In Your Bucket” walked through the process from purchasing seed potatoes, chitting and planting in the buckets.

According to the Cornell University College of Agriculture it should be 2 to 4 weeks before they sprout. Guess what?

It took a mere 10 days for these to pop out. That’s good news for Operation Green Thumb.

We have kept the soil as warm as possible by leaving them in the garage overnight most nights during this cooler than normal spring. That probably helped.

Now that they are growing above the soil level, we will need to add some soil every one or two weeks. Nightshade plants like potatoes grow roots at the soil surface. Potatoes form at the roots. Potatoes that are exposed to direct sunlight turn green and are poisonous.

We will also begin spraying a water and aspirin solution on the potatoes and tomatoes to ward off fungus and blight.

We are hoping that this news means that our potatoes will be ready to harvest before the 110 to 120 days listed on the label.

The next 4 evenings are expected to be near the 32 degree freezing range. Frost warnings will be out. That is not good news for the tomatoes in bed C…but that post is for another day…

Yukon Gold sprouts in the left bucket, and Russian Fingerling sprouts on the right.
A close up look at the early potato sprouts peeking up through the raised bed spoil.

Novel: Disturbance In The Force – Chapter 8 “Circling Back”

Photo by UHGO on Pexels.com

Chapter 8 – Circling Back

Francis has stopped just outside of town to map out a route to her aunt’s home in Wisconsin. It occurs to her that Kay doesn’t know that she’s getting a surprise visitor, but first things first. She finds a yellow and blue highlighter in the center console of the truck and begins to trace a logical path with the yellow highlighter to the north and east and off of US and State highways. If changes need to be made on the fly she will use the blue highlighter, any further changes can be done with both highlighters that will appear green.

Satisfied that the yellow path on county roads will be safer, open and have little traffic Francis sends a text message to her aunt. “Hi Aunt Kay. I’m headed north to your house. I hope that is OK. Let me know. Not sure how long it will take to drive there. The roads are pretty torn up down here. I love you.” She presses the send button, then pushed the call button on her contact card for Kay.

Before Kay can answer, Francis hangs up. Talking to herself, it dawns on her that phone service is now possible. “If I’m getting through to Kay, maybe I can get through to the police.” She begins to dial 911, then hangs up again. Not knowing how far she’s driven away from her home she chooses to not risk connecting with the wrong 911 service.

If she can get through to the police, maybe they will help her to take care of her poor mother and son. Leaving the area with them in that house was more than Francis can bear. She prays that someone, anyone answers the phone at the police station.

Fortunately, the local dispatch number is hyperlinked on their web site. Beyond fortunate, a dispatch officer answers the phone and says, “Granite City Police. Is your call an emergency?”

Francis excitedly and tearfully replied “Yes!” then explains to the dispatcher what happened at her mother’s home as she turns the SUV around and heads back toward Granite City. Dispatch has relayed a patrol unit to the scene. Thankfully she had not traveled too far north and east before connecting with law enforcement.

The address for Rita Long, Francis’ mother, is given. The nearest trooper not currently engaged is sent to the scene of the crime. Dispatch stays on the line with Francis during the drive back to her mother’s home.

Upon arriving back at Rita’s home, Francis sees one cruiser parked in front of the home, plus one ambulance in the driveway. Warning lights flashing on both vehicles.

On any other day that a double homicide occurs there would be as many as ten cruisers at the scene of the crime, and probably a yard full of media. Today, Francis is fortunate to have any response. Law enforcement and emergency medical services are overwhelmed in the entire metro, suburbs, and surrounding communities around St. Louis.

“I’m here now.” Francis call out from the open front door.

Bracing herself for the scene even though she knows what to expect, Francis calls out again to the emergency responders before entering the door. “Hello, I’m Francis Hart. Did dispatch tell you that I’m here? She talked to me on the phone until I got here.”

Officer Jim Booker deadpans a response from the kitchen and approaches Francis. “Yes, she radioed your arrival a few seconds ago. Officer Booker. I’m sorry, but we’re going need you to identify the victims before the paramedics remove them from the home.”

Officer Booker leads Francis into the kitchen where two paramedics are packaging Rita and Franky onto gurneys. One of the paramedics gets up and approaches while taking off his nitrile gloves and N95 respirator. “Captain Sparks Mrs. Hart. Sorry for your loss. We cleaned them up as well as possible. They will be transported to Gateway Regional after we make the identifications. One of the ER docs can make the proclamation there. Again, I’m sorry for your loss.”

Cpt. Sparks turns to his partner. “Can you give Mrs. Hart some space please Mathew?” The junior paramedic gets up and backs away from the gurneys. “Of course,” is the mask muffled reply from Mathew.

Francis identifies her mother as Rita Long and her son as Frank Hart Jr. She gently touches each of her loved ones trying in vain to stifle her grief. “Take your time Mrs. Hart, we know this is difficult.” Comforts Captain Spark.

Francis turns and slowly walks away, holding her mouth as if to trap her grief inside. Giving into her pain she places her left forearm on the kitchen wall, leans her forehead across the arm and burst into a sob.

Officer Booker gives her a few seconds then interrupts. “I’m sorry Mrs. Hart, but I’m going to need to ask you a few questions about what happened here today. Would you like to step out of the house or talk in here?”

She thinks for a moment, looking around. “Um, outside, I guess.” The two step out of the house.

Francis relays all of the same information that she told the dispatch just 30 minutes or so earlier to Officer Booker, knowing that her conversation with dispatch was most likely recorded.

One detail that Francis neglected to tell both dispatch and Officer Booker was discharging her handgun to slow down the gang of looters. Discharging a firearm in city limits is a crime, she was aware enough to know that at best this knowledge would result in more time being questioned, possibly at the police station. At worst it would result in being arrested and losing all of the firearms and ammunition in her Suburban.

Once the interview was over, Officer Booker had a few more questions to ask her, “Are you planning to stay in the area Mrs. Hart? If your home is not safe, there are shelters set up in the civic center and several churches.”

Francis replies, “That will not be necessary. After arrangements have been scheduled for my family, I’m planning to stay with my aunt in Wisconsin”.

“That’s a long way. Do you have enough gasoline for the trip? Gas stations are closed in the entire surround area. Being stranded on the side of the road is not safe, the shelters are safer. My advice is to park your vehicle near the civic center and stay there until order is restored in Granite City”, warns Booker.

“Thank you, officer Booker, I will take that under advisement. I need to talk to hospital staff and the funeral home now”, Francis replies.

Officer Booker is still not done with the inquiry. Booker reminds her of the TV detective Columbo.

“One last question, Mrs. Hart. Do you have a way to keep your mobile phone charged?” Francis nods yes. Booker continues. “We will need to call you if we find out any information about your husband, or if we think of any more question for you. Good luck Mrs. Hart and you have my sincere condolences.” He then escorted Francis to Gateway Regional Hospital. This is where the ambulance delivered her mother and son.

Francis has no intention of staying in Granite City while the looters are still not under control. There are too many things in the Suburban that she and Frank may need to live on for a few days or weeks. Losing it, especially the firearms to any of these animals is not an option that she is willing to risk.

Another attempt to call Frank Sr. is made. No connection. She is not even given the option of leaving voice mail. A feeling of dread for her husband floods into her psyche. A tap of the brakes by office Booker brings her back to the task at hand. There is still more to do for her departed family members before restarting the trip to Aunt Kay’s home.

Emergency room staff directed Francis to the hospital morgue where arrangements were made to contact the funeral home of her choice. She hoped that the facility’s cremation service was still intact after the quake. The logistics of traditional body preparation and the likelihood of funerals in the near future seemed bleak. Besides, Frank Sr. is still unaccounted for and he’s on the wrong side of the river. How will he get home? When will she know if he knows where she’s headed for safety?

Francis returns to her truck and begins the journey north to Wisconsin for a second time today. Shady Acres Funeral Home and Cremation Services is called. There is no one there to take the call and it goes to voice mail. Francis leaves her name and mobile phone number in the message stating that her mother and son are in need of their services.  She explains that cremation is the preferred method of service needed. Hopefully someone will be able to respond to her needs in a timely basis.

The journey begins by heading east, away from the epicenter. However, now the sun has gone down. In fact, it is now almost midnight. She will know the side roads for 20 miles or so, after that the terrain is unknown. She’s made a plan and she will work the plan…until the plan needs to be changed. Then she will work that plan.

Francis stays on county roads that were highlighted in yellow. The mobile phone is plugged into what used to be called a cigarette lighter in her truck. A USB adapter illuminates blue assisting in locating the open plug on the adapter. The battery indicator begins to blink in a sequential motion indicating that the battery is a little over half full and charging.

iHeart radio is tuned into looking for news out of St. Louis.

Why hasn’t Frank called her? Perhaps it was God’s will, but her mind refused to turn to the possibility of a third dead family member. Considering the circumstances Francis is willing the best possible universe to her as she could muster.

The news out of St. Louis was just as bleak as the last time she tuned in. Thousands of missing people, thousands of demolished and damaged properties. All bridges unpassable. Initial units of the National Guard and reserve who had been conscripted to the area are now in place giving aid to the displaced and wounded plus restoring order where anarchy had ensued. More troops will be deployed to help as the victims both living, and dead are discovered.

Francis shuts off the radio and begins to pray. Prayers for her husband, prayers for her poor mother and son. Prayers for anyone and everyone directly and indirectly affected by the quake.

Her mind goes back to the last time the entire family was in Wisconsin together. Aunt Kay invited everyone up for an Independence Day celebration. There was the annual community event called Lake Days at the same time. The celebration included fireworks, live bands, a Door County fish boil, carnival rides, boat tours of the lake, a water ski show, bass fishing tournament, a kid’s fishing tournament and food of all kinds everywhere.

When the family was not at the community event, they were in Aunt Kay’s neighborhood. Kay arranged a block party picnic for the Sunday of Lake Days on her deck and in her backyard. Families for several homes on her street attended.

Franky was 8 years old at the time and loved every minute of it. He spoke for years about catching his first fish there, he marveled at the water ski jumpers and huge human pyramids. Most of all he loved the fireworks. There were three firework shows that weekend. Friday and Saturday night at Lake Days and on the Fourth of July in a nearby town just 10 miles south and west of Aunt Kay’s town.

The reminiscent smile on Fran’s face gives way to concern when she comes up on a T intersection that she can’t find on her map. Did she make a wrong turn somewhere? Thankfully, she still has the option of using the GPS application on her mobile device. At first Francis uses the app as a map which is conveniently illuminated. She zooms the map out just large enough to find the road she wants to be on and sets her GPS to lead her back on course.

By this time, she is over 40 miles north and east of Granite City. The road conditions are improving, and traffic is fairly light. Francis determines that her original plan to travel county roads is still the safest and continues toward south central Wisconsin.

Road signs on the county roads are not always in good condition and some of them were missing. This caused her to go off course a few more times. Each time using her maps application to get back on course. After eight hours of this zig zag path, fatigue set in on Francis. She decides that using the maps application for the remainder of the trip is needed to shorten the route.

The GPS settings are changed to utilize state highways only. Her GPS showed many red sections on the interstate highways indicating slow or stopped traffic. Staying on the roads less traveled was the only way to assure less stoppage.

The estimated time of arrival is still 4 hours away. What should have been a six-hour drive will be completed in no less time than 12 hours.

Before getting on busier roads with higher speed limits, Francis stops to empty the gas cans on top of her Suburban into the tank. The sun has now risen, she can see what she is doing without getting out a lantern. Emptying the cans will be good for the quicker speeds on main highways. They can be laid flat on top of the roof, cutting down wind resistance and the risk of the cans being blown off.

Gas cans are not designed to fill up automobiles, but she remembers seeing an adapter next to the spare tire. The spare tire is located in a compartment at the back of the cab. Several items must be taken out of the truck to access the storge bin. The adapter is exactly where she remembered it to be. Thirty minutes later the tank is full, the cans are back on top of the cab, all items are repacked in the back and she is on good highways.

The remainder of the trip would’ve been easier if not for the fatigue setting in on her. She got up at 6:30 am yesterday, it is now 9:00 am. She’s been awake for twenty-six hours. Twenty-one of those hours have been since the earthquake and not knowing what has happened to her husband Frank. Thirteen hours of them were with the knowledge that her mother and son are dead. A fatigue like she has never felt before. A fatigue that should not be wished upon your greatest enemy.

Francis is desperate to get to Aunt Kay’s home before she stops. Safety is not assured anywhere else. Safety is a commodity that she is in desperate need of. Her solution to fatigue is to roll the driver’s side window completely down. Turn the thermostat down to its coolest setting and turn the fan up full throttle high. She has to find a new radio station occasionally, but it is tuned to oldies. Songs she can sing along with. Songs that most people know by heart. Well, people of a certain age that is.

Meanwhile, back in Wisconsin. Kay Long is sitting on her deck sipping on a Bloody Mary while Kirk is pitching a tent in his back yard. The task would’ve been done several minutes ago, but Gunner keeps stealing tent stakes from the tote that the Gage’s keep the tent in. The dog carries one stake at a time under his favorite tree and then proceeds to chew on it. “Gunner! No! Ugh! Silly dog!” Gunner is enjoying playing a backward game of fetch with Kirk. Kay is quite entertained by the action. “Ha! Hey! I made a pitcher of Bloodies. It looks like you could use one.” Kirk stops, looks up at Kay’s deck and smiles. “I’m glad someone is enjoying this.” Then he strikes his best Russell Crowe stance from “Gladiator” thrusting a tent stake into the air. “Are you not entertained! Is this not why you are here!”

“Such drama.” Replies Kay. “The offer stands. Unless you wait too long. Inventories are limited.”

“Thank you for the offer. Be up there as soon as Gunner lets me finish pitching the tent. It should not be too much longer.” Kirk turns back to Gunner who has pilfered another stake.

Kay continues to laugh. “I’m going in to try calling Francis again.” The couple wave as Kay enters her kitchen on the other side of her patio doors.

Francis is nearing Kay’s town. The cool breeze and songs are no longer working to keep her awake. The truck veers slowly across the center line while she slowly gives into slumber. Then a horn blasts and her mobile phone rings in unison. Her eyes fly wide open in terror as she jerks the steering wheel back to the right in time to miss an oncoming vehicle.

Francis begins to bring the truck to a stop on the side of the road as she grabs her phone, answers it and says hopefully, “Frank?! Is that you?!”

“No sweetheart, its Aunt Kay. I’m so glad to finally get ahold of you. Where are you dear?”

Francis looks at her Maps App. “Less than 10 miles for your home. I should be there soon Aunt Kay. I have so much to tell you.”

Kay is full of questions. “Why did you think I was Frank? Why is he not with you? Where’s Franky and Rita? Is your home okay…?”

Francis cuts her off. “I can’t talk right now Aunty Kay. I will be there soon. We can talk then. I have so much to tell you. I’ve got to concentrate on the road Aunt Kay. See you soon. Goodbye.”

Gardening: First to Bed, First to Rise – Radishes

First in and first to rise. Radishes will be first out too, but not for 2 more weeks.
Bed C in its entirety the ‘morning after’ See the spot in the middle where some mulch washed out. Tomatoes and radishes stood strong during storm #1 for them!

Sunday we put in most all of the seeds and seedlings that will go into beds. Monday the area got its first significant rain in weeks. Rain is usually a good thing, but last night it was a down pour around 6:00 pm. It dropped .4″ in about 30 minutes.

We worried that our new seeds would be washed out. Not to worry, the beds have great drainage. In fact as you can see by the picture. Our radishes have all peeked out above the surface of bed C.

In two weeks we should have several little red edibles and either choose another plant to go in their place or plant more fast growing radishes to harvest 21 days later.

Operation Green Thumb celebrates another small victory. Both over mother nature and thanks to mother nature.

Oh by the way. My grandpa LeGrande would not be proud of my crooked row, but that’s OK. Forgive me gramps!

Gardening: The Beds Are Made

Bed “C” Tomatoes and Radishes Only…For Now
Beds “A” and “B” are ready for both vertical and horizontal growth.

Project Green Thumb was active and in full force Sunday morning and afternoon.

The morning was spent mapping out what seed and seedlings are ready to go in and where would be the best location for each. We have three each 5′ by 3′ beds. Like any good newbie, we have planned for way more veggies than these beds can legitimately hold.

A couple of outdoor planting mistakes that many novice raised bed garden gardeners make are planting too soon and overcrowding the beds. Planting before the last frost can wipe out an entire garden. Overcrowded plants have too much competition for soil nutrients, hydration and sunlight.

The only crop that we are potentially risking frost kill to are the tomatoes in bed C. We have kinda good news there. Due to the risk of overcrowding we were only be able to fit 5 of the dozen tomato plants we raised from seeds into the bed. If frost gets the first five, there are 7 more seedlings ready to take their place. Always have a plan B.

All other crops sewn in the beds to date are seeds that can be planted before the last frost. Carrots and radishes were sewn into the beds last week. Sunday we added onions, beans, peas, zucchini squash, cucumbers and strawberry. The chart we used to map out our beds is pictured below.

Trellising was added to the back of beds A and B for vertical growing. The inside corner of bed A is home to one hill of cucumbers. The back row of bed A is home to two rows of sweet peas. The outside corner of bed B is home to a row of zucchini squash. The back row of bed B is home to 1/2 row of green beans and 1/2 row of yellow wax beans.

The outside corner of bed A had room for one strawberry plant. We are very excited to see how the strawberry turns out!

Bed C is home to 5 tomato seedlings behind the row of radish that was sewn earlier in the week. Three Roma, one cherry and one steak sandwich hybrid.

Mapping prior to planting. Took more time than sewing and transferring BTW!
Zucchini just before making the hill.
Strawberry Corner
Sweet Peas On Each Side of Trellis
Green Beans left, Yellow Wax Beans right just inside of trellis
Bunch Green Onion
Bed C 5 Tomato Seedlings in back of radish row

Best laid plans. In previous posts we pictured about three dozen seedlings from different types of plants. In addition to the three varieties of tomatoes that we transferred to bed C, there are four varieties of pepper, plus cabbage and cauliflower. Where are they? Still seedlings inside the house, under the grow lights.

The beds are full. Now what? Now we find more large containers like the five gallon buckets that our potatoes are planted in…plus a couple of surprise unorthodox containers we got our hands on…but that is for another blog.

R Dub checking out…for now.

Overflow tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and cauliflower that need outdoor homes yet…stay tuned!
Completely planted beds A and B after an evening of rain. We are still working out irrigation.

Cooking: Cincinnati Chili? The Sky Is The Limit!

R Dub’s Version of a Legendary Cincinnati Chili

I know, I know. R Dub has blogged about chili twice already. True, but…

My first chili blog “Chilly Outside, Chili Inside” featured R Dubs award winning chili that is a little left of center compared to what most people would consider traditional chili. But hey! The judges put the blue ribbon on it and that’s good by me.

Chilly Outside, Chili Inside celebrated the type of chili that is filled in a bowl and spooned up. My second chili blog entitle “Dog’s Best Friend” feature chili that is specifically designed to cover a hotdog.

Today’s blog is one that is not made locally and is designed to be either ladled over noodles or filling all of the spaces between and atop a hotdog in its bun. A hybrid chili if you will. This chili is WAY left of center.

In that first chili blog I mentioned three places where I love to sit down and pay to enjoy a nice healthy portion of this comfort food. Chili John’s in good old BD, Real Chili in Milwaukee, and Skyline Chili in Cincinnati.

We can enjoy Chili John’s and Real Chili most anytime we want. But jumping on a plane or driving 12 hours to enjoy a heaping helping of chili is not an immediate plan most any day. The actual recipe for Skyline Chili is a secret, but many of the ingredients are rumored and are fairly easy for the palate to pull out when tasting.

What is meant by palate? Palate can refer to three different things: the roof of your mouth, your sense of taste, or your aesthetic preference. In this case I’m referring to our sense of taste. A fork full of Skyline Chili is chocked full of many tastes not usually thought of when eating chili.

(That’s correct, I typed FORK full, not spoon full. Skyline Chili is thick enough to eat with a fork and have little left on your plate afterward.)

Disclaimer: The following recipe is NOT from that famous Ohio diner, it is my best guess and to be honest, I got pretty darned close. Try it, you will like it.

Ingredients that are rumored to be in this chili are cinnamon, chocolate, sugar.

Recently I watched Sam The Cooking Guy make his version of this Cincinnati classic. As usual, Sam altered the “recipe” to his taste. We did the same with Sam’s recipe.

Let’s go with the ingredients and cooking instructions combined:

Ingredients minus the ham stock.

3/4 diced onion – We sauteed it in avocado or EVOO oil for 3 or 4 minutes

Sauteed onions in avocado oil

Add:

1 clove pressed garlic

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons cinnamon

and 1 teaspoon allspice and mix

Add:

2 cups (Sam used beef broth) we used ham stock

1 oz dark chocolate

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 splashes of Worcestershire sauce, mix and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat

Add 2 pounds of uncooked ground (Sam used beef) we used pork. Bring the mixture to a boil while breaking up the ground meat to small chunks. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 35 – 40 minutes uncovered. Sam used a wider and shorter pan then we did. Mine took 50 minutes to reduce, but the taste was worth the wait! I added a drained can of red beans in mild chili sauce, Sam did not. His is a four way, mine is a five way. Whats’ the difference? I’m glad you asked.

The skyline menu will let you enjoy their chili in a 3 way, 4 way, 5 way or on a coney dog.

3 Way: Noodles topped with chili and cheese.

4 Way: Noodles topped with chili, cheese and either onions or beans.

5 Way: Noodles topped with chili, cheese, onion and beans.

Noodle base
Chili with beans (Skyline would have these in separate serving bins and top one at a time)
Raw diced onion!
Heaped with cheddar cheese! They will put more than this on!

Truly A WORLD Wide Web

Countries Where This Little Blog Has Been Read

For better or worse, the internet sends us to many places and can send people to us from all over the world. It is my opinion that, for the most part, it is better that the web is world wide.

This morning my blog source sent me a message that there were views in a new country overnight. Sometime between the hour of 1:30 am and 7:30 am CDT 43 posts from my blog had been read by 10 different people in China.

That piqued my interest, so I investigated how wide my readership is. The picture above represents which countries have opened at least one post. Obviously the USA is by far where most of my readership comes from. I have a friend in Australia, so that didn’t surprise me. Some of the other countries do.

A reader in Zimbabwe makes me quite happy. I’m happy to have all of them. It is possible that the wide range of topics that are chosen to write about helps to widen the interest zone.

Here’s to a wider and deeper net going forward!