Entries Tagged as 'Gardening'

“Summer” 2009

Well, I figure the blog ain’t gonna update itself, so I guess I’ll get off my duff since I’ve got a couple of hours to kill as we drive to Grapevine for a weekend full of Grammy & G-Dad, and lots & lots of water!
Let’s see - our last update was in May. Quite a bit has happened since then. Celeste graduated kindergarten and had her 6th birthday. I helped her engineer an egg-protector for an egg-drop contest. Please don’t come to me to engineer stuff like this… you’ll be disappointed. The egg… “died” in the event.
Celeste and Jackson have also been in swim lessons at Montessori this summer. They have both learned a lot in the month that they have taken the lessons: Celeste “can” swim indefinitely, but prefers short breath-holding spurts. Jackson… well, he thinks he can swim indefinitely, but only because he doesn’t realize that “breath-holding spurts” are actually dependent on “breathing” - which he can’t quite manage yet. To illustrate: We went to the lake last weekend and let the kids play with their (effective) cousins Katie & Kameron. While throwing the kids around the pool, there were several instances where a body floated into me… it was my son Jackson assuming I knew he was en-route from the steps of the pool. Fortunately, his aim was true and he never realized the danger he posed to himself. (Don’t be calling CPS - he was being watched - sort of. I would have definitely figured out he was drowning within 60 seconds, so it would have all been good.)
Trlica and I also celebrated our 13th anniversary in June at a place in the Florida keys called Little Palm Island. For anyone looking to truly pamper themselves, we highly recommend it. It’s the kind of place where you tell ‘em your name once, and they never ask again. No tickets to sign - just order, eat, and leave. The SCUBA was excellent - 2nd best dive site I’ve been to (better than the Great Barrier Reef site I went to, but not quite as good as one of the remote islands out of Belize). Sharks, schools and schools of beautiful fish, eagle rays, turtles, and even little baby squid about 2 inches long… I got some good video of the stuff too - it should be on the website before long (currently under production).
We spent the 4th of July helping out the new church being launched by FUMC Pearland - One Church. Trlica worked - I wrangled kids. After the sun went down, we sat back and watched a great fireworks display (say this: Fi-Er-Works… kids favorite instructions to one another for the following 2 weeks). Jackson’s thought regarding the fireworks: “Say Yee-Ha Daddy! Louder!” Celeste: “This is the best day of my life.” We thought that might be stretching it a little, but she really did have a good time.
Redid the flowerbed with the blackberry bushes in the backyard - took out all the weeds and dirt and laid down a pond liner and covered it with gravel / bordered it with rock. We’re doing a potted garden for a while and see how that goes… so far: less maintenance! Woo hoo! I now have to do the “big” bed… not looking forward to that.
Our property is doing pretty good - we have bananas growing fine, and a couple of papaya trees have popped up (planted in March - took ‘em long enough). Killed the pomegranate tree and probably have killed the avocado tree. You gotta be tough to hang with me as a gardener. On the upside - we may be getting electricity out there soon, so that I don’t have to run a generator to water the plants. We solved our “road” problem relating to “formal subdivision” of our property by buying the lot in question off our neighbors (they found a different lot they were happy with). So - now we own 4 acres! This year’s hay ride promises to be ’spooky’. Muhahaha!
Electric car: nothing to report. They’re still working on battery stuff. Touchy subject with me these days, but God willing, it will be in the next few weeks. Will definitely keep you posted on that front.

What’s going on

Howdy. It’s been awhile since we’ve updated the blog. Bad us. So, what’s been up? I’ll tell you now….
First, Jackson had his 3 year old birthday party in early April. It was a Thomas the Train theme at Jumpin’ Jungle. Small turnout because we were a little late giving people notice of the party, but we had a good time all the same. Jackson didn’t seem to mind that it was a relatively small group of us that were there. It being a “boy” birthday party, there was the obligatory “trauma” that happened to just about every attendee - nothing hospital worthy though - they’ll all heal before they marry. It did give me some insight into a great idea: get dual certification in orthopedics and neurosurgery and then open up a “free” Jumpin’ Jungle right next to your office… you’d get rich off the referral business. (If you use this, I want some kickback eh.)
We took delivery of our electric car (in an unfinished state) in late March as well. We drove it for a couple of weeks, but experienced some problems with the batteries (due to it being in an unfinished state). The team in Austin that is building it came and took the batteries back and have been working on the controller system that will monitor charging / discharging. They think they are close, but we’re still waiting on a firm delivery date…. We’re (and by we’re, I mean I’m) pretty frustrated about the timing of everything. We’re 16 months into this project and have yet to run it in a “final” fashion. I’m seriously ready for this project to be over so that I can use the damn thing. Right now, I’ve got a pricey brick sitting in my garage holding the concrete down. It’s giving me dyspepsia….Anyway, I’ll let y’all know when it’s all done. Hopefully that will be sometime this summer.
On an up-note, the plants on the property are doing quite well. Fertilizer is cool stuff - makes plants grow! I’ve never been much of a big “fertilizer-er” - trusting that God & rain will do the job. It works that way, but fertilizer makes it work even better. We did plant some new stuff this spring that I’m very excited about. The edibles we planted are some kiwi vines (that I got to make a really nice trellis for - and of course, said trellis needed some new power tools so that I could cut metal… ooh ooh aah aah) and three species of banana plants. When we first transplated them, I was pretty sure I killed ‘em all by not watering frequently enough. They were kind to me and have come back though (although I’m not totally convinced the female kiwi vines are gonna make it through the long haul). The garden also has three new “big” additions that were graciously donated by one of my colleagues - Fernando Stein. Fernando asked me if I would be so kind as to provide foster care for an orchid tree and two jacaranda trees. The trees are beautiful additions to the garden area. Of course, the Jabitacoba tree that “was” the pride and joy of the garden area lost its position in the center of the garden because I thought it was dead. As I got ready to uproot it and plant the orchid tree in its place, it decided to sprout new growth, telling me “I’m not dead yet! I’m getting better! I don’t want to go on the cart!” I’ve put it in a newly designated “time out” part of the garden to see what it can do this year. We’ll see.
Back on a down note - I had to tear down the shed that housed our water well and tank. Seems the pump died and in order to replace it, they needed access from above. The roof wasn’t removable, so I had to tear the whole thing down… with my tractor… in dress slacks, dress shirt, and a tie. That’s something my dad would do as well, so I come by it honest. Of course, now I have to have a new shed built. Yeah! By the way - if any of you are on the market for a generator, I have a second one that I don’t need now that I figured out it was the pump and not the generator. It’s uh-very-niiiice & almost free today!
Finally, we’re enjoying the spring weather. We’ve been out in the back yard quite a bit these past few weeks, and we’re going to have a cover put over the patio so that we can enjoy it even more as the summer gets hotter and hotter. It’s fun watching the kids monkey around and make themselves busy with nothing in particular. Ahhh - to have their imagination! We’re also planning on re-doing the gardening beds that we put in shortly after we moved in. The borders are decaying and becoming hazardous, and weeds have been a problem from day one. We’re planning on putting in a lined bed with rocks on the bottom (above an impermeable mat) and having all our plants in pots of varying sizes. We’re hoping to make it more of a visual attraction that way, but mostly we’re tired of pulling weeds. Yeah - we’re lazy - you got a problem with that?
That’s probably more than you cared to read. (I’m probably writing this to myself for 20 years from now when the kids are out of the house.) Tune in next time (hopefully not 6 weeks from now), when we will discuss The Electric Car!!!! (God willing, of course.)

Cars, Remote Con”Trolls”, Peter Pan & Rainbows

Celeste 2009
Lots going on lately. We’ll start with the electric car. We took delivery of it on March 7th, but it is in an unfinished state. The battery management system (aka “BMS”: controls charging, tracking current, etc) was taken out before delivery because A) one of the chips used in the 6 boards that report to the BMS blew 6 weeks ago and the part is “on backorder”… whatever that means, and B) the software part of the system has an as of yet undetermined flaw, where it looks like it works fine, but in fact, does not. This is an important part of the car, so we’re a little anxious about this issue. There was also a problem with the DC-DC voltage converter that allows the 160V system to run the 12V equipment “blowing” right before they brought it to Houston. So, we can drive the car, but only a short distance, since the power steering is being run off of a pretty small battery. Still, in all, it has been pretty cool to drive and get to know.

Next, we have Jackson. He has developed a love for the “Troll” song on the kids CD in my car. He has a general concept that the story deals with a monster that lives under a bridge, but whenever he asks for the song (or wants to “play” the game), he asks for the “Remote Con-Troll.” Kids… cute. Speaking of trolls & monsters & the sort, he’s still feels compelled to “tell us about Christmas” before bedtime, but now, there is a mandatory “purging of the monsters” - which includes: trolls, spiders, bears, ghosts, monsters, crabs, and Peter Pan. We’re not sure why Peter Pan is on the list, but for some reason… Peter Pan is Jackson’s nemesis.

Celeste… she’s so sweet. It’s all hearts and rainbows with her. We’re posting the picture so you can see for yourself.

Gardening - going OK. The trellis for the kiwis is in the ground. I was going to plant the kiwis and bananas this weekend, but the dirt store was closed. I’ll have to do it in the middle of the week next week. Will also be breaking into the several hundred pounds of fertilizer I bought for the summer. Yeah, boy!

A good weekend

We just finished up the 3 day weekend with MLK day. Mom & Dad came down to help with the kids while we took care of some business that’s been needing to be taken care of. Our accomplishments:

1) Tra and I went to the Urban Harvest Festival to get more trees for the property. We got a Joey advocado tree, two pear trees: Southern Queen and Southern Bartlett, a replacement peach tree (Tropic Beauty), a mexican thornless key lime, a replacement starfruit tree, and we picked up some muscadines and blackberries to round out the purchase. We got everything in the ground that we needed to - we’re saving some of it in buckets until after the last frost. We also planted 7 mounds with papaya seeds, hoping that they’ll grow fast and bear fruit… we’re not holding our breath though. AND today we purchased 3 varieties of banana (two commercial varieties, and an ice cream banana that came highly recommended) and 2 fruiting vines of kiwi bush. Things are coming along great so far, and hopefully this year and next we will start to see some of the “fruits” of our labor. Ha. So witty.

2) We cleaned out our unsightly garage. I can park in it now. Yeah! (Hey - it was bad enough to mention.)

3) Dad and I got started on installing another 240V outlet so that we can charge the electric car when it arrives. The good news: I discovered that the dryer outlet actually had a short in it and had been burning the insulating box… there were black burn marks on several areas - looked pretty bad. The bad news: I discovered that the dryer exhaust duct was directly behind the 2×4 that I was drilling through in order to get a wire over to the dryer outlet. It got a nice dime-sized hole drilled through it and had to be repaired. More bad news: 10 gauge wire is VERY hard to bend - avoid messing with this stuff at all cost. Lesson learned: leave electricity work to electricians… but it’s done now - outlet installed. Woohoo! (Now, if we could just get that car delivered….)

All in all, a good weekend. Hope yours was too.


Summer Fun

Despite the multitude of changes that are happening in the work world, the family life side of things is going well. We took an end of summer trip to lake LBJ this past weekend to let the kids hang out with their cousins and play in the water. They had a blast… well, except that Jackson ate so much fruit that he had blisters on his butt from all the acidity of his poop. That wasn’t part of the fun-train. Did a little swimming, a little arts & crafts, “drove” the boat, AND…

1. Got pulled in an innertube behind the boat
2. Swam in the actual lake
3. Rode the Ski-Doo (Celeste by choice, Jackson by brute force)

In our world, these three events are a frog’s hair short of bona-fide miracles. We’re extremely pleased about this development. Hopefully next year we can progress to water skiing and actually preferring to swim in the lake rather than the pool. (Yeah, it’s dirty, but so what - it’s more fun!)

Other items of note:
1. We are having some irrigation put in on the property (or “Prop-E-Da” per Jackson-speak) so that I don’t have to manually hose the trees and bushes down for an hour a couple of times a week. Hopefully, this will allow for more time to “care” for the crop, which should translate into healthier plants and more food. Yeah food!

2. Celeste is starting kindergarten in 5 days. It’s too fast and/or not fair - she’s growing up too quick. She’s very excited about it though. I hope she stays that way.

Spring garden status

The garden is currently full of grass (again) and needs to have a good working over before we plant our spring crop. We’ll be doing this in the next couple of weeks. The blackberries in our back yard aren’t quite as “full” as they’ve been in the past :(

On the property, all the citrus trees are looking good. We lost a peach tree, but have another left, plus the plums. Our persimmon and fig trees look great, and we planted a pomegranate tree this year. Blackberries on the property aren’t so hot: one plant survived the weeklong delay to planting :( Plus, the blueberries are confusing me: the leaves that are on them look healthy, and they have a lot of fruit growing. However, the total number of leaves are pretty small - maybe 30 to 50 leaves total on each bush, making for about a 1:1 leaf to berry ratio. Doesn’t sound healthy for the plant, but we’ll see how it evolves. If they die, it won’t be from lack of attention… or maybe it will - I just can’t provide “as much” as they need.

We’ll keep you posted. Hehe - get it? “posted”… dorky humor. My favorite.