Friday, January 30, 2009

More Garden Planning

Two more seed catalogs have arrived, and my garden plan is getting even more confusing. So many seeds, so little space.

I'd like to add squash to my planned planting. Yellow squash at least since that's the only one my husband really likes. He'll eat zucchini if I put it in front of him, but he won't like it much. I'd like to try some winter squash as well. My favorite is butternut squash. I tried it for the first time about 3 years or so ago and was immediately hooked.

Then there is the sweet potato. I tried it for the first time about two weeks ago, and it was much better than I thought it would be. I would never eat it before. It just never appealed to me. But, since I'm trying to eat better, I decided I needed to give it a try. Those things are pretty good.

Last year also marked the first time I tried turnips and rutabagas. Not bad at all. I like to cut them up and put them in a pan with a nice beef roast instead of the usual potatoes. Yum!

Gosh, I really don't know what all I'm going to plant. I guess I could make my space a bit larger. I sure wish I could use my back yard. It's nice and flat, but the septic tank is also there, so that kind of nips that one in the bud.

I guess I'll just look through my garden "wish books" and figure something out. I'd rather plant too much than not enough.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Planning My Garden

I recently received my first two seed catalogs of the year. As much as I love winter, I'm really looking forward to spring and planting my garden. My biggest problem is narrowing down my plans. I don't have a large space for planting, and truth be known, my garden growing knowledge is a bit limited. (I tend to just plant something and "run with it," basically ignoring most usual gardening rules.)

I do know I want to plant some potatoes this year, just haven't decided on the variety. I think it would be fun to plant one of the blue colored varieties, but the hubby has already said he has no desire to try any of those. (I may just convince him though.) I'm leaning toward Yukon gold right now. Or maybe I'll just plant a few different kinds and see what comes up.

Tomatoes, I will more than likely plant tomatoes again this year. I want a good size tomato, something I can put thick slices of on Chris' sandwiches, or use to make a great sauce. Or, my favorite, saute with a bit of butter and serve with macaroni. YUM!

I do want to plant some radishes, maybe some green peppers and possibly some carrots. I'm also thinking about some green peas (which I have grown before) and some beans (which I haven't). I've been reading up on asparagus (surprised to find out it's a perennial) and am thinking about trying that as well. Of course, that would be a long-term thing since you harvest them the second year, not the year you plant them. I'm even thinking about planting some catnip, both for my cats and myself. (Have always wanted to try catnip tea.) Then there are the various small lettuces that always look so good in the photos.

So much to think about. This gardening thing is more complicated than I thought.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happiness Is...

...a soft bed with the sun warming your belly...

...interesting places to explore...

...a ball to chase...

... and family.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Words in History

I normally wouldn't put up such a long post, but I believe President Obama's inauguration speech deserves the space.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Tomorrow, we will witness the inauguration of our nation's first black president. We are witnesses to history. Can we continue to move forward?

Yes we can!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Return of the Ginsu

(My old Ginsu knife.)

(The broken handle that made me finally get rid of my precious Ginsu.)

Not long ago, I wrote about my old Ginsu knife. After about 20 years, it finally wore out. The handle broke leaving a sharp edge. (See above photos.) I had to quit using it as I would cut my thumb every time I did. I managed to track down the company online and sent out an email asking about the warranty and if I could get a new knife. I was told to send in the old knife with $2 to cover shipping and a new one would be mine. So I did.

I received my new Ginsu knife in the mail yesterday. I was disappointed at first as it is a bit shorter than the old one, but that disappointment ended quickly. Wow is this thing sharp.

I just had to try the bread test. I took a loaf of french bread and sliced it as thin as I could. Check this out. You can see through the slices. I didn't even have to put any pressure on the knife, just pull it across and it sliced right through. (I'm having fun with this.) And it even came with a lifetime warranty that says if it gets damaged, even if the damage is my fault, they will replace it for $2 shipping again.

Of course, I had to write another poem. I threw this one together this morning.

Ode To My New Ginsu

A small, thin box arrived in the mail yesterday.
It’s finally here, the sharp replacement blade.
I ripped open the cardboard that held the treasure.
My smile grew wide, I felt such pleasure.

“It’s here. It’s here.” I wanted to yell.
On the icy sidewalk I almost fell.
I rushed into the house with my marvelous blade.
I grabbed some bread and a test cut I made.

The slices were so thin I could see right through.
The edge flashed bright, shiny and new.
I carefully cleaned it and put it in the drawer.
A knife even better than the one I had before.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And We Think It's Cold Here!

(Lake Como Park, St. Paul, MN)

My dad lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I'm hoping to head up there for a visit in the next month or so. As our own weather forecasters started predicting high temps around 14 degrees tomorrow, I turned an eye to the weather up Dad's way. All I can say is BRRRRR.

Earlier this week, the low temp in the Twin Cities was 18 below zero. Further north in International Falls, it was 40 below and in a town called Embarrass (love the name) they had a low of 44 below zero. read right. BELOW ZERO! Ouch!

I took a look at the Weather Underground site this morning ( and today's high for St. Paul is listed as 4 below zero. But hey, there's a warm-up coming. Highs of 7 degrees tomorrow and even 20 on Saturday are predicted. It'll be a regular heat wave.

The thermometer on my porch is hovering near 30 right now. With the wind blowing like it is, it feels a good bit colder. But even with the idea of a 14 degree high on Friday, I'm still feeling a bit lucky to be living where I do.

And look what I found in my files. A haiku I wrote during a windy day last year. With the weather today, it fits perfectly.

Wind-blown hair
caught up in the cool spring breeze.
Where’s my comb?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Harvest Time?

OK, this week I finally learned how to compress my photos to make it easier for anyone on dial-up to upload my blog. YAY! (Seems like I would have learned that sooner since I'm married to a computer guy. **shrugs sheepishly**)

Here's my garden spot...or the start of it. I'll be laying out more cardboard to make it a bit bigger this afternoon or tomorrow. This year, I'm going to plant potatoes, maybe tomatoes, some lettuce of some kind and maybe some onions. Although, I may not need to plant the onions...

While hanging out in the yard with Muffin, I noticed the abundance of wild onions still growing. You'd think they wouldn't be around this time of year. Well, shows you how much I know. They're everywhere. So, I grabbed some...a January harvest of wild onions. Gonna use them tonight. YUMMY!

One thing I like about mowing the lawn...OK, the only thing I really like about mowing the the smell from all the little onions that get mowed down. It just wafts everywhere.

If I'm getting a decent winter harvest of wild things now, maybe that's a good sign for whatever I do end up planting in the spring. One can always hope.