Everything’s coming up okra

Here’s what’s happening in the garden today:

1. The beans, a few of which were just barely trying to sprout yesterday, are really taking off, with many new sprouts and several of the initial sprouts putting out leaves.
2. The collards are getting bigger; the seedlings now look like radishes (two tiny heart-shaped leaves) instead of four-leaf clovers.
3. The okra is finally starting to come up. I planted a lot of it, so hopefully we will have a good crop this year.
4. Three or four cucumber seeds are sprouting.
5. Our tomatoes and peppers look good.

No signs of life yet from the asparagus beans, but I imagine they’ll be up soon, too. I think the garden really benefited from ideal growing conditions today: a very warm morning and afternoon, with a rainstorm in the late afternoon and into early evening. The frogs liked the rain; they’re just singing their little hearts out all over the neighborhood. There’s at least one living right next to our pond, because I heard it last night while I was bringing in the laundry.

The storm kept me from jogging after work, so I used the time to make a quick batch of tuna salad, which I ate on Triscuit crackers for dinner, and then I spent part of this evening reading and part of this evening practicing my neon skills, trying to regain some of what I’ve lost in three years away from the torches. I’ll have more to say about that later, but right now, I want to talk about the cool thing I signed up for today.

Our editorial assistant told me about a food co-op here in town that offers bags of organic meat or produce for $29 apiece. You pay a $45 annual membership fee to join the co-op, and then once a week, you can buy a bag of meat, a bag of produce, or a bag of each. It’s rather similar to a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm, in that you’re buying local, and the contents of the produce bag are a surprise every week — whatever is in season is what you get.

We belonged to a CSA back in Illinois, and I highly recommend it. CSAs are a great way to support local farmers, try new things (they always put some weird stuff in the bag, like bok choy or kohlrabi — it’s not all heirloom tomatoes and organic carrots, although you get plenty of that, too), and learn about where your food comes from.

I suppose some people would cringe at the idea of letting a stranger pick out the groceries, but I haven’t met too many vegetables I didn’t like, and I have a pretty good sense of adventure about my meals. After all, I am firmly convinced that barbecued snoot is the reason God gave man dominion over the animals … and our copy editor, who usually goes and picks up lunch for the rest of the staff, can tell you that I’m not above handing him $10 and telling him to surprise me if I can’t decide what I want to eat … so the random-sack-of-produce thing is fine by me.

The other thing I really like about the CSA/co-op concept is the “autopilot” nature of the whole thing: Instead of wasting time figuring out what I want to eat for the next week, making a grocery list, and blowing an hour at the supermarket, I can just go and pick up my bag of goodies, put them away, and spend the next week cooking whatever I’ve got in the refrigerator. Somehow this strikes me as the sort of thing FlyLady would approve of.

I went and signed up for the co-op today. I’ll let you know what I get Friday. Our editorial assistant got a big ol’ fennel bulb last week. I would be excited if we got fennel, because that would mean that Ron would probably make me some of his famous baked fennel. Yum.



Travel my way

“Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept?”
— Mary Baker Eddy

People sometimes ask why I drive Route 66 every summer instead of finding new places to go on vacation. “Why would you want to see the same stuff over and over?” they ask. “Why not see something different?”

My response is always the same: I don’t see the same stuff over and over. I might drive past the same things over and over, but driving past is not the same thing as seeing. Looking over my photos from this morning, I realized that most of them were new additions to my collection — things I’d never once stopped to shoot in all the times I’ve driven down Southwest Boulevard (a.k.a. Route 66) since we moved to Red Fork. It’s all right here in my own neighborhood, yet I never seem to see it.

Some examples:


I think this is an old hardware store. It breaks my heart to think of all the indie hardware stores we’ve lost over the years.


Ford panel truck outside Billy Ray’s BBQ.


Roses in front of an apartment house.


Midway Trailer Court sign. I shot this once before, on a cold, icy afternoon in 2006 … but I think it looks completely different with a dazzling spring sky behind it.


How long do you suppose this old hat shop has been closed? When was the last time you saw a lady wearing a hat?



If I could, I would buy this building and turn it into my own personal office/playhouse/whatever. I just love little teeny buildings. Especially little teeny buildings with better than half a century of history behind them.


A rose bush thrives at the corner of the property where the late Shady Rest Court once stood.


Wildflowers grow along a chain-link fence on an overpass above I-244.


I-244 overpass. The interstate sliced through Red Fork, effectively cutting the neighborhood in half.


Sign of the times: You used to find big, elaborate metal hubcaps lying in gutters next to 66. Now all the hubcaps are plastic, and you just see broken pieces of them here and there.


A used-car lot and auto repair shop occupies this old service station next to Crystal City. Note the neon “USED CARS” sign in the window.


The old Crystal City shopping center sign’s colorful design hints at the property’s former life as a once-popular amusement park. Efforts are afoot to redevelop Crystal City and restore it to its former glory. I wish the next owner would buy the Zingo roller coaster from Bell’s and put it in the parking lot. I’m told the original Zingo was at Crystal City. How cool would it be if it came full circle? I’m terrified of roller coasters, but if Crystal City got Zingo back, I would ride it at least once, just for the sake of history.


Yellow Submarine is long gone, but its sign still remains. The building now houses a very good Bill and Ruth’s with a very friendly owner whose mama helps in the kitchen, making killer falafel and baklava and all kinds of other wonderful treats.

This is 66: beauty and history and a million untold stories, and if you go too fast, you miss all of it.

This is true in all aspects of our lives, isn’t it? How many times do we overlook things because we’re in a hurry, or we’re preoccupied with our problems, or we don’t think they have anything to offer? How many people do we see every day but more or less ignore because we think we have nothing in common with them, no reason to talk to them, nothing to learn from them? How many blessings do we overlook because we just aren’t paying attention? How many times do we get so busy wishing and hoping and dreaming and praying for bigger-better-faster-more that we overlook the beauty and richness that’s all around, just waiting to bless us?

I love the sentiment in this little e-card about the best way to express gratitude. (Music starts as soon as you click “play,” so be sure and turn down the speakers if it’s likely to bother anybody. The music is nice but isn’t really necessary for you to be able to understand the message.)

Go find something or someone to appreciate this weekend.


2.8 miles

Ron didn’t feel like getting up early to drive me to the start line this morning, so I just grabbed his camera and my watch and went for a jog down Route 66 instead. I started at Crystal City and ran for 15 minutes (just shy of a mile and a half) before turning around and heading back. I took a leisurely pace on the return trip, stopping every few minutes to take pictures of things that looked interesting. It was a nice way to ease back into running after a five-month hiatus.

Nicer still is the fact that I didn’t have to spend $20 or so on a race entry fee … which means I can take that money to Li’l Sprouts and buy another hanging basket for the patio. I think maybe I’ll do pink petunias this time. 🙂

I’ll post my pictures later, when I’ve had time to upload them.


Stupidity, part deux

How long can the Red Fork Hippie Chick shuffle around in Birkenstocks while her Brooks Adrenalines languish in the closet?

Exactly five months, one week, and two days.

I have now put 26 races on my calendar between tomorrow this morning and Dec. 31, including two 15Ks, two half-marathons, five full marathons (two of them back-to-back) and a 50K.

Apparently I’m still a runner.

Yes, yes, I know … I’ve got STUPIDITY … but before you accuse me of being a totally masochistic idiot, please keep in mind two important points:

1. I am not as crazy as this woman.
2. Marathoners (particularly those of the not-very-fast-or-serious variety, which obviously describes me) never count carbs. We simply inhale them.

Pass the Twinkies. I’ve got a race in the morning. Five bucks says I set a PR in the wrong direction … but I should still be finished in plenty of time to hit the breakfast buffet at Ollie’s.


Slow day

Songdog climbed up on the couch beside me tonight and attempted to convince me that 50 pounds is not too large to be classified as a lap dog. He’s a sweetheart. I took advantage of the opportunity to brush his coat — something I probably ought to do at least once a week, but somehow only get around to doing a couple of times a year.

A casual observer, seeing the enormous mass of sable-colored hair I cleaned out of the brushes, would have suspected that this male collie-heeler mix had somehow defied the laws of biology and given birth to a full-grown Pomeranian.

It’s nice to have my big projects behind me, for the most part. Maybe now I can get back to work on Jamie’s alphabet book and the neon sign restoration I promised out three years ago.

I also need to repaint the outside of the house and start my labyrinth project while it’s still early enough in the season to do the plantings next to the path, but I think the neon has to be my top priority. Once that’s done, I’ll worry about the rest.

I feel another creative outburst coming on. We’ll see what craziness I come up with this time….




My roses are blooming. Above are Mojave (left) and Blue Girl. I didn’t get any decent blossoms last year because the thrips sucked all the moisture out of them and left them brown and shriveled. These have survived an aphid attack that’s compromised their looks a bit (note the little hole chewed in the Mojave blossom and the brown here and there on the Blue Girl), so I gritted my teeth and hit the bushes with neem oil this morning. With the Country Store closed, I don’t have an instant source of ladybugs and praying mantises to take care of the problem organically.

Oh well. I lopped off all the blossoms first so the bees wouldn’t get into the poison and carry it back to the hive. I don’t want to do anything that will hurt my girls, but when Bill sold me the neem last year, he recommended removing the blossoms first to protect the bees. I harvested three blossoms — the two pictured above and a JFK — but the JFK looked pretty damaged and pathetic and didn’t have much scent, so I threw it out. The Blue Girl is wonderfully fragrant; the Mojave less so.

It rained this afternoon, so I’m not sure how much good the neem treatment did, but hopefully it wiped out enough of the aphids to give the next round of buds a fighting chance. I’m hoping for lots of pretty blossoms so I can share them with my friends.