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May 28, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend - Day 2!

 We haven't shirked all responsibility this weekend, we managed to get quite a bit done in the yard today in spite of very hot and humid temps, and knocked off at about 1:00 to get ready to other things that didn't involve sweating buckets!

My new friend - he decided to ride in my tool caddy around the garden while I planted a few annuals.  When I was done, I told him he had to go do some work and he hopped out into the pea bed :)

Ladybug eggs deposited on a pepper plant!

Hubby and Finn creating a place for my pumpkin plants, this area was otherwise a wasteland full of weeds with a perfectly good fence asking for vines.  He rimmed it in a few pieces of scrap lumber for me so my newly amended soil wouldn't wash away in the next big storm, and you know it's coming!

After we all got cleaned up, it was off to a picnic at Gina's house!  You may remember that Gina of Back Bay Botanicals is a fellow blogger that lives nearby.  Her place is fantastic and the kids always have a great time there.  We had a relaxing time just wandering around with some good food, her place is really pretty and perfect for a summer picnic!

Their new farm stand is nearing completion, and looks fantastic!  Those are all cutting type flowers, zinnias, etc growing in front so from the road the farm stand will look very cheery and inviting!

More Cornhole playing... I think the boys are going to want daddy to build a set!

I was pleased to find one of my "native land" brews for sale on base, so I had to grab some, in spite of the fact that we brew our own.  It's a nostalgia thing :)

One of the backwater canals of Back Bay runs right through the property there, very pretty -

No visit to Gina's is complete without the chickens of course!

Gina, Loch noticed you left the keys in it, haha!

The girls relaxing in the breezy shade

Gina made sure to instruct everyone where to bring their watermelon rinds when they were done!  Good times for us, good times for chickens :)

Tomorrow will start with chores no doubt, as we have a long list of things to do, but we are determined to fit some fun in as well.  Not sure what it will be yet, but we have to take advantage of the weather while we can.  It's hot out, but a little breezy and storm clouds are constantly passing by, dimming the sun a bit at least.  We actually had a bit of rain today and dark skies, but it passed quickly without incident.  I feel lucky about that since it seems everywhere is experiencing some very trying weather.  What's next - locusts???!!

May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend, Day 1

Hubby's squadron had a picnic today at the base, so I showed up at school early to pick up the kids, who were overjoyed to get out of there early!  Headed over to the base for some food and fun...

The First Class Petty Officer's were in charge of cooking this afternoon, and that's hubby, so hot dog #1 was cooked by him :)   (and yes, that's me, and no, I didn't purposely cut my head out of the photo LOL)

Temps today in the 90's again, perfect for the water slide...

We had to drag Finn and Loch out of there after awhile to put on some sunblock, I had forgotten to put it on them for the first hour, ooops!

Loch really was here today, I just couldn't seem to keep him in my sights!  Here's daddy showing Finn the cornhole game -

There's Loch!  Finn was now the pro showing him the ropes.

Hot Dog #2

There's hubby on the right...

Hot Dog #3???

The party culminated in a "pie in the face" auction.  Several members of the First Class Association were "nominated" to be bid on for pies thrown at them.  These are basically all the supervisors, so lots of junior personnel were eager to bid, although they didn't quite get the "pool your money together" idea to raise more money... apparently last year one guy got a $300 bid but this year you could just hear 20 here, 40 there... I guess that's the economy for you, but some of them need to get wise and pool their funds together for a big bid, it's a fundraiser after all!  I told hubby to make sure he "schools" all his guys for next time LOL!  Hubby must fly under the radar well enough as he didn't get nominated for a pie, there's always next year to make enemies, haha!

So enjoy some pie in the face moments:

This one I love - not only did he get a pie thrown by his wife, he had to pay for it as she was the high bidder!

I might add that this was "Mandatory Fun".  Before the holiday weekend starts, they have a Safety Stand Down in the a.m., where they are warned about the dangers of fun, you know mixing chainsaws and liquor and the like LOL, and then made to go to a squadron picnic before they are let loose for the holiday.  "Mandatory Fun" is quite painful for the younger sailors, but for those of us old, "been there, done that" boring families who have accepted the fact that the Navy is our family actually enjoy it and noticed the families were the only ones remaining after the pie contest, all the young single sailors took off pretty quickly LOL.  There was also a reenlistment ceremony this afternoon, I never get tired of attending reenlistments, I know the oath by heart still after all these years of being out of the military and I still get teary :)

Tonight?  Mandatory Fun for the kids - we are taking them to a hoedown at the Farmer's Market.  We love it, them - not so much.  That's their penance for us letting them do the water slide all day.  Our Farmer's Market has a hoedown every Friday night in the summer, live bands and an outdoor dance floor set up, and some of the vendors stay open late for it, like the Creamery, yum!  It's free and fun, what's not to like? 

Did I mention I'm sooooo tired already?! 

May 26, 2011

Fully operational again!

We are back up, and ahead of schedule too, thank you Dominion VA Power!   There have been non stop power trucks driving by for days, but we are always one of the last to get back online, since our area serves very few customers compared to the rest of Virginia Beach, the area around the air station is relatively unpopulated with homes.

Here are the photos/video I have - I thought I had more video of me trying to get the kids, but apparently I stopped filming in favor of running high speed for Finnegan.  The speck in the orange shirt is Finn in the video.  Not 3 minutes after I got him, a large tree fell in his friend's front yard where Finn was with his bike in the video.  Loch had already ditched his bike and his brother in favor of hightailing it back to the house... not sure how I feel about that??!  What you don't see in the video is that I'm being pelted with sheets of gravel, dust and random objects from peoples' recycling cans :)

While not as devastating as what some people are going through in other parts of the country, it was terrifying to me that my kids were down the street and not with me.  After getting them set up in the bathroom with the dogs and a few essentials (I want a basement!), I filmed a bit of the yard from the back door.  You can hear me breathless, which is part from running against 80 mph winds to get Finn, and part just leftover adrenaline from what I was seeing fly by in the air and not knowing that the storm was coming until it was here.

Afterwards, there was plenty of destruction in the yard, but other homes had it much worse with trees right through houses and live wires down all over the place.  Here, the destruction was confined to the yard, thanks to the fact that I garden, and don't plant large trees for fear of blocking the sun!  

Below, several fence sections were down, mulch gone and the soil torn up -

Adirondack chairs piled up against the fence, and those aren't light!  All 3 of my Colonnade Apple Trees were uprooted - 

Apple confetti...

Tomato Bed damage...

Lots of these were found in the yard...

Along with these... yes, those are Mama Dove's eggs :(

I am happy to report that baby robin is fine!  I found she/he huddling under some of the flopped over Amish Paste Tomatoes, mama robin was squawking away so I shooed the baby out so mama could see her.

Now what?

First I lugged the generator all the way from the shed up to the house.  We bought this a couple of years ago on clearance after hurricane season and even if we never use it, it sure gives a lot of piece of mind.  We have a well, so no power = no water.  The worst it's ever been here was a loss of power about 10 years ago for almost 2 weeks, and water is a precious commodity when you've been sweating all day in 95 degree temps, not to mention the peace of mind of having my freezer and fridge running.

I had to crawl under the house where the well pump is to fetch the plug, yuck!  Shimmying through a space 1' x 2' is no fun at all, matter of fact I got semi-stuck in that opening one year when hubby was deployed and I was 5 months pregnant with Loch, LOL!

After the storm, all you could hear was sirens everywhere for about 15 minutes, and then I was completely surprised that I heard about 4 generators come alive along with mine - we used to be the only people that had one around here.  We are the only ones on a well though, so I imagine they were using them for refrigeration.  

Certain things become painfully obvious when you think of what is pretty important to me...a manual espresso press and bean grinder is obviously on the preparedness shopping list :)  I bet I was the only one on my street running my Breville off the generator LOL

Other than securing power for keeping food and water, I was content to do without for everything else, and found it quite peaceful.  If you don't have any real hurricane or ship's lanterns yet, do go buy at least one - they give off enough light to actually read or play games by, and it really gives off an feeling that you aren't "doing without".  Bonus... the homebrew kegs don't rely on electricity to dispense their hoppy goodness :)

Sure there were bumps along the way, like dealing with the oppressive heat (sit in the shade), having to spend my time picking up garbage and branches instead of gardening, spending way too much on fuel for the generator, spilling gasoline all over my bare foot, hubby working 24/7 throughout it all, having to eat hot dogs for dinner (kids thought that was fantastic), but we did well in spite, and I'm really proud of the kids for not whining too much. Maybe all that reading of Laura Ingalls out loud has made them appreciate things more.

I must admit though, when I saw these guys headed onto our street I was glad it was over!  

Glad I had:  generator, hurricane lanterns, fuel, candles, grill, water, lawn chair, shady spot to sit, books, patience

Lessons for next time:  canning more and freezing less as a way of garden preservation would save lots of $$ on generator fuel since I would only have to turn it on when I needed water, hand powered espresso pump, building an outdoor enclosure to hang our solar shower... (ice cold water out of the well is not as refreshing as it sounds!), these things plus a HAND PUMP tied to the well would get us off the generator completely... except for the meat in the freezer... I guess we could have a big BBQ and sell it to people LOL...

Here's a link to some photos the local news team got of the approaching storm, according to the meteorologist, I'm not the only one who saw what looked like a funnel cloud here, and hubby said they saw it right over the airfield headed towards our street, he called us right away but our cell service was down already.

Now, I have a whole lot of laundry and blog reading to catch up on!  More storms predicted this weekend, what is going on with the weather this year?  I'm either going to be stripped of a garden, or will have the strongest tomato stems ever this year!

May 25, 2011

We're okay!

Regarding the following:  of course hubby was NOT home for any of this.... girl power!

We had something come through yesterday afternoon, they are stilll trying to determine if it was in fact a tornado or just severe winds.  Either way, we have been without power, phone, internet or cell since 4:30 pm yesterday.  We are all FINE, just living off grid for the forseeable future.  Lots of damage, but not to the house itself, but the garden looks like a warzone.  The kids and I were caught outside in it as it came out of nowhere.  I went outside simply to take a photo of  a plant, noticed the skies turning that really funny color that you recognize instantly if you grew up in tornado land as I did.  I immediately ran to go get the kids who were playing in a friend's front yard when it started.  Since I had the camera, I videotaped it but can't download obviously for awhile. 

The whole area, most of the 7 cities here, are without power with no estimation of when it will come back up.  I noticed last night that we were the only house that looked comfy from outside, I guess that's a good sign of preparedness, LOL.  The whole street was dark except mine, along with candles I invested in real hurricane lanterns about 2 years ago, what a difference!  Those actually give enough light to read or play games by.  We have well water, so I lugged the generator up to the house, crawled under there and hooked it all up so at least I can hook up the well pump and the freezer & fridge.   We are doing the best we can under the circumstances, but yikes it's supposed to be in the 90's today so I'm sure my mood will be different come this evening!

Mom, hope you are reading this, even the cell towers are down so I can't call.  I'm down at the coffeeshop at the Oceanfront since their power lines are buried and their power is usually up first with backup generators to appease the toursits LOL.  We're okay, but you will cringe when you see the video of Finn riding his bike in it, he looks like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, fair warning!

Time to go fill up all my fuel containers for the generator and get  back home before someone steals it!

Love to you all!  I didn't realize the extent of how much I have come to love my blogging family until I wasn't able to just hop on the computer!  And no Facebook?  Don't get me started :)

P.S.  We have a trash can that landed on the car that is from 2 blocks away!

May 24, 2011

for the birds...

As if I didn't have enough to take care of with 2 boys...

"Are you my mommy?"

Now I have to go outside and babysit whenever I let Sprocket out.  We made up our own breed for her, the Outback Jack, since she's an Australian Shepherd/Jack Russell mix - but behavior-wise she's all Jack Russell.  It's hard being a baby bird with one of those running amok!  Marley just barks and barks warning me that Sprocket is up to no good!

I'd do just about anything for the birds that call our little oasis home.  Including asking hubby to put a roof over LadyDove's head so she won't get rained on.  You should have seen his face when I asked him - well, he won't agree to an aviary/pet bird so what am I to do?  It happens every year...

Perhaps I should sew her some gauzy white curtains around her basket to sway in the breeze?

Precious cargo in that flower basket...

Mama Dove is smart, she always picks this spot right outside the back door so she can see when I'm letting the dogs out and I give her a minute to herd the babies to safety under a bush.

So now there's one more living thing for me to talk to around here so I won't seem like the crazy lady who talks to nobody!

May 23, 2011

Bedspace and Daydreaming...

First, here's the shirt!

I didn't finish Finn's shirt (haven't even started it!), but it's okay because when I checked the kids' calendar I found out that it's only Loch's class doing Hawaiian Day and not the whole school.  I had to promise Finn I would still do it soon, though.

Today's harvest was pretty standard for the season, more peas and lettuces.

The snap peas are still coming, but there are no new blossoms on the snow peas, so I ripped them out and sent them to the compost bin today.  I might add the heat index is now in the lower 90's so their time was limited anyways, I'm already more than pleased at the pea harvest this year.

Above, before the snow peas came out, below after... it looks so bare!  The peppers and beans that are also in that bed I'm sure are happier now to have more sun.

This brings me to now... I've been sitting at my desk looking at my seeds and surfing the web and trying to figure out what to grow there.  I am surprised that I seemed to have found myself with a little space to try something new if I want, oh the decisions!  I planted much more intensely this year, and have already planned for a 2nd crop of bush beans in the other pea bed when they come out, so what to do?  I'll probably dwell on this all night until I find I have wasted 12 hours on deciding what to plant in a 1x8 space in a bed, and end up putting some more boring bush beans or something there!

One thing I am not going to plant there:  weird dogs or weird carrots!  I washed this carrot up and threw it on top of hubby's salad he took to work today so he can amaze his friends and co-workers, haha!

So what would YOU plant if you found yourself with a little bit of extra space in your garden and you already had your regular things going?  I thought about chickpeas but then looked them up and saw they have like one per pod... can you imagine the labor involved there LOL?  I'll stick to the health foods store bin for those.

May 22, 2011

other peoples' gardens...

We had a nice time last night, in spite of the dire end of the world predictions.  We headed to "the other side" of the water for a get together with some other gardeners from our meetup.com group.  It's so nice having some face to face social conversation and shared interests in this age where people sometimes only "meet" on Facebook!  The drive was lovely,  couldn't have asked for better weather, it was about 80,no humidity & sunny.

heheehee, the bridge tunnel under the Chesapeake Bay struck me as funny today, since where else would you want to be during a world wide earthquake prediction, LOL....

headed under...

I was trying not to look at the clock reading near 6 pm and start laughing...

Finn getting excited about???

The folks headed the other way, not so lucky, the traffic headed south was at the usual standstill, and I might add had completely cleared up by the time we headed back later in the evening.

Then it was time to relax!  M's house sits right on a nice salt marsh type environment, very peaceful, yet right in the city.  Here's part of our group below:

They had set out supplies to make rain barrels and were ready to provide instruction, they have several already in use, 5 or 6 I think!

The food that shows up is always fresh and yummy from the garden, with the usual random bag of excess produce to pawn off on someone, - wait until zucchini season!

I love, LOVE just seeing and being able to walk through others' gardens.  I think it's the gardener's equivalent of rifling through someone's medicine chest :)  There is always something new to learn, a new way of trellising, new varieties, etc.  It's amazing also to see how certain things grow differently.  We are only about 35-40 mins apart yet she has things flourishing that I don't have success with, and vice versa.

I thought this was really cool... 
I have never seen a carrot flower!  She is planning on saving seed so this was a rare opportunity to see it up close.

M is also the only person I know personally that is actually doing it - gardening in her front yard in the city!  It looks fantastic, and I bet she gets lots of people that slow down to look on their evening walks, I know I would!  Heck, I'd probably knock on the door and introduce myself if I didn't know them already - gardeners are usually a pretty friendly sort and I don't think they would shoo me off :)  !

After good conversation, good weather, good food and a garden tour, I came home refreshed and woke up at 5:45 am today to tackle the peas, over 3 lbs today, but I think it's about over, I didn't notice any new blossoms and temps should hit 90 by midweek.

Then my garden laughed at me and my renewed vigor and said -

 "oh, yeah?"  Well..."just look at this!  Let's see how tough you are now!"

(enlarge for full on aphid action depicting all life stages LOL...)

I'm guessing the below is a whitefly?  That's a new one here.

Time for the kids to mix up some Dr. Bronners soap in their Super Soakers!  Let the games begin...

*note to any local readers I might have:  our group would love to have you join us!  There are plenty of online q&a forums, but if you have a desire to meet up with other gardeners face to face for learning or social time, check us out!  There is a link at the very bottom of my right hand sidebar that will take you to our site.