Monday, March 28, 2011


Welp, me and my dad are now facebook friends. I friended him. But he seems to hardly every use it- seems mostly he just posts about his gemarah shiur on there. No facebook contact as of yet. Although we have had more contact in general the past few weeks- he called me on Purim to say hi for about 5 minutes, and he's been sending me some emails on stories about sociologists in the news (including one about my old statistics professor, who apparently is now involved in a supreme court case).

I figure, what's the worse that can happen? My dad might actually learn something about my personal life? It's not like I have any secrets at this point, and my facebook is pretty self-censored already, since I'm friends with lots of other family members and colleagues and former students.

In gardening news, my trees have arrived, my baby plants are growing, and my sugar snap pea shoots are sticking out of the ground (and I ate some of them- did you know pea shoots are delicious and taste just like peas, and you can cut them off when they get about 2 inches high, and the shoots will grow back?).

Baby lemon tree (next to a much older money tree)

The small ones are basil plants and the larger ones are bell pepper plants (5 colors- red, yellow, orange, white and purple)

baby Catawba Crape myrtle tree (and you can see some of my hostas poking out of the ground).

This weekend I start some zucchini indoors, and in about 3 weeks when all chance of frost is gone I will start transferring some of these baby basil and pepper plants to pots and eventually outside. The lemon tree doesn't go outside until it's been 50 degrees at night for at least a few weeks.

Bonus picture of me and max!

If I'm at home and posting on the internets, chances are I look just like I do in this picture. This is my interneting spot on the couch. And yes, there is usually some kind of animal involved (sometimes up to 3 at a time! Did I mention we have 3 cats and 2 dogs?)

Friday, March 18, 2011

sweet barking cheese

my father has joined the facebook. I know this because he has friended his cousin, who I am friends with.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I bought some trees

Catawba Crape Myrtle:

The one I got is only going to be like a foot tall though so prolly won't look like that for a few years. They bloom for 100 days of the year. They get to be about 12-15 feet tall

Since i was buying trees I also bought a baby Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree

That one is going to live in a container on the porch in the summer and inside in the sun room during the winter. I'm really hoping I don't manage to kill this one, cause I am already planning out recipes in my head (meyer lemon + romano cheese + red onions also from the garden + pasta, meyer lemon cranberry walnut scones, meyer lemon bars).

Today we finally were able to finish digging out the stump which was where the crape myrtle is going to go. I've been occasionally going back there and digging at various times over the last week and today I spent like an hour digging and sawing random roots until I got the stump loose, at which point B was able to pull it out with his manly manliness.

Also today I planted sugar snap peas outside (after sprouting them indoors) and cleaned up like 8 feet of hardcore weeds in this corner near the shed, one of the last areas in the backyard I need to clean up. I was putting it off till it got warmer, but it will be in the 70s all weekend, so I'm going to go finish the crazy weed patch tomorrow and bag up all the clippings. In addition to the giant tree stump (which is heavy as hell, and I'm not sure what we're going to do with it now, but it looks pretty cool). B also sawed this skinny stump down, since the previous owners had left it sawed off at like 2 feet and it was a total eye sore. Also today I discovered some of my pepper seed planters had grown mold, so after consulting the internet I left the planters in the sun a few hours to try to dry them out, and I'm going to refrain from watering them for a while.

Spring break this week was lovely. I made significant progress on a research project, I lesson planned for next week, me and B went to dinner at the house of the other new assistant prof in my department, I did a TV interview with a reporter from the Polish Media, and I was in touch with my aunt and cousin (who are both awesome) since I had emailed them about my last week's TV appearance. My brother is also planning on coming to visit in May with his girlfriend (who I haven't met before) and we planned out that trip this week. Also did the taxes, organized a guest speaker event at my department for next week and all the gardening I've talked about earlier. Some of the flowers in the backyard have bloomed and turned out to be daffodils, white with orange centers. The hostas are on the brink of blooming, as are some of the trees and the wisteria that is hanging over the front porch.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cowards way out

This is the email I actually sent to my dad:

Hi Abba,

I'm sure this isn't my 15 minutes of fame...I would hope at some point my research gets media attention and THEN I'll get my 15 minutes. But this "local expert" thing is just part of my job, since I'm at the largest university in our metro area (big fish in small pond-ism?). :)

I actually just got a call from someone at *polish tv station*, and they are coming to interview me tomorrow for a tv news story on *issue related to my research*. I'm internationally famous! :) It only broadcasts in polish though, so not sure if I'll be able to get a clip this time.

-Abandoning Eden

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The great vegetable garden experiment of o' eleven

For several years now I've wanted a vegetable garden. When I lived in Philly my next door neighbor set up an awesome veggie garden in the front yard and I used to stare at her veggies with envy every time I left my house. For the last several summer's I've fulfilled my veggie gardening needs with a potted herb garden- I grew basil, parsley, sage and rosemary (no thyme). It is awesome to cook with fresh herbs you grew yourself and just picked out of the ground. Once I had a potted kumquat tree, but I killed that.

But while I was renting/a student it seemed stupid to go to the effort of setting up a raised bed garden, cause that seemed like a lot of effort (it's really not) and I was going to move in a few years anyways.

But now I'm a house owner! A few months ago a giant branch fell off our giant sycamore tree in the backyard when it snowed (one of our the two snows we got this winter, fingers crossed), and this past weekend we finally finished sawing up the branch so we could throw it out. But there were several really nice really thick branches from the base of the branch that seemed a waste just to throw out. So I figured that I could make my new raised bed garden using the branches from the tree as a border. The house actually came with a raised bed garden in the backyard, but the dogs live out there, and I don't want dog-pee flavored vegetables. Plus they would probably eat the veggies that grew above ground.

There's this spot on the side of my house that's probably not a great spot to plant veggies, since it's on the north side of the house (and therefore gets the least sun). But there's room there, and a trellis already built and planting stuff on the north side might actually be good in the south, since it can get so hot it might scorch the veggies, and it'll be a bit cooler on that side. It's an experiment. If my veggies turn our horrible I might go to the effort of getting rid of some bushes on the north side of the house for a proper veggie garden next year, and maybe grow some roses on the trellis where the veggie garden is.

So yesterday I dug up the ugly sharp and prickly small bush that was where my veggie garden is now (good riddance to that stupid bush, it's cut me several times and deserved to die!), put my sycamore branches together in a square, dug up the top layer of soil and then added a bunch more top soil + mushroom compost.

Also yesterday I went and bought a bunch of seeds, includes sugar snap peas, red onions, bell peppers (5 colors- red, orange, yellow, purple and white), zucchini, cilantro (woo! can't grow this in containers cause it just won't work, so glad to finally have some cilantro plants), dill, italian basil, and 3 kinds of sunflowers. Also a rosemary plant which will live inside for the new few weeks. I started the peas, peppers and basil seeds inside- the peppers and basil will grow inside for about 6-8 more weeks, and then some will go in the ground and some will go in pots that will live on the deck (On the north side of the house) and the peas will go in the ground in the raised bed garden as soon as they start sprouting. About half the onions are already planted (you can see them in the picture around the edges). According to the internet research I've done, onions and peas go in the ground about 6 weeks before the last frost, and the average last day of frost in my area is in early april.

I also got SO many onions (the seeds weren't actually seeds- they were transfers, and sold in groups of 50), that I've decided to start an onion experiment. One group of onions went into the new raised bed garden. One group went into the old raised bed garden (Hopefully the dogs will not dig those up, but as I said, it's an experiment). One group went into the ground randomly on the north side of the house, without much tilling- just dug a hole and threw some potting soil in there with the onion plants. I still have like 20 onion seeds left, so I planted those in some planter containers in the house, and those won't go out for another few weeks- possibly in the back garden if the dogs don't dig the other ones out, cause I'm not sure where else to plant them (can you plant onions in a container?). This experiment is also trying to determine when the best time to plant onions is, and I'm keeping careful records of when everything gets planted

My plan for my new raised bed garden is:
(started near the house)
Row of Peas
Row of 3 bell peppers
Row of 2 zucchini mounds, with basil, cilantro and dill in between
Row of 3 bell peppers
Row of onions (also rows of onions up the two sides)

Container garden on deck: Basil, Rosemary, Pepper plants, maybe some onions if those can live in containers?

Backyard old raised garden: Onions, and later in the summer sunflowers. Also also sunflowers in random spots around the house and the backyard, I love sunflowers! :)

Bonus picture: Max, the Winter Jasmine planted in the sinkhole, and the creek behind it (this was right after there was a huge storm so the creek was almost an actual creek instead of just a trickle of water!)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In other news...

It's spring break so I have a minute to think and relax (hence the two blog posts!)! Yesterday I bought a winter jasmine bush at the farmer's market and planted it over the old sink hole.

It's very small now, but it will get as high as 4 feet tall and as much as 7 feet wide, and everywhere the branches touch the ground they will put down roots. All those roots are good for preventing erosion. In early spring it blooms with little yellow flowers. It'll fit right in with all the other bushes along the back fence, which this week I found out are Forsythia. I found that out from all the little yellow flowers blooming all over the place.

There are some sort of flower blooming all over the backyard, where the hostas usually are. I know they're not the hostas, cause those are started to peep out, and look very different. These might be buttercups. They haven't started blooming yet, but they are on the brink.

The little tree in the backyard has been putting forward flowers for the past few weeks as well:

Anyone know what type of tree this is?

Yesterday we finally finished getting rid of all the branches that came down when a giant branch fell off our huge old sycamore tree over Christmas while we were away. The branch brought down a bunch of vines, so we had to cut those off as high as we could reach. We also had to saw the branches down into 5 foot chunks so the garbage collectors will take them away. I still have to go tie those up and bring them out front, but it's raining right now.

We also started digging up this big stump. When we moved in we cut down a dead tree that was outside our window.

The tree was just to the right of the the bush in the foreground. But now I think it looks kinda bare, and the tree was also blocking the view from our bedroom windows to the neighbor's back porch, which we would like blocked again. So we're digging out the old stump, and once it's dug out we are probably going to plant a twilight crape myrtle, which after a few years of careful pruning should look something like this: .

They bloom for around 2 and a half months of the year, and I think it'll be nice to look at from our bedroom (the 6 box shaped windows are the ones to our bedroom).

Only before I order the tree, I'm going to make sure we can get out the stump. We worked on it for a while yesterday but eventually got tired and gave up for the day. Hopefully we will be able to get that out and order the new tree and plant it over spring break or soon after. I'm hoping it'll stop raining and we can also spend a couple of days trimming the weeds and tall grass with our new weed wacker, and cleaning up the yard with our new leaf blower, so that everything is nice and dead-leaf-free for when spring REALLY starts to hit in a few weeks. A few trees around here have started flowering, along with the forsythia, but it's really just beginning, and I'm really excited to see all the flowers on my property for the first time!

Daddy issues part 3

So...I'm a professor. I was interviewed by the local news about a story related to my area of expertise as the "local expert." They also wrote up a news article quoting me extensively. This is something that happens fairly frequently when you're a professor at the largest university in a not-very-large metro area.

But it was my first time being on tv, so I was pretty excited about it (who wouldn't be? I'm the freaking local expert on tv! Woo!). So I sent out the video to some friends and family members. Including my dad, who I have not talked to since he sent an email about his getting a sefer torah a few months ago. At which point I thought of several snarky things to say, but just never wrote back to him.

SO this was his response:

Hi Abandoning Eden,

Wow! I'm impressed. You got your 15 seconds worth of fame. Andy Warhole used to say we get 15 minutes but now everything is reduced to a soundbite it seems.

I'll pass your clip along to the family. Incidentally, I will be sending you the DVD movie of the Sefer Torah dedication party we had in our house last December. I just finished it yesterady. You will see many familiar faces and I added a very cool musical sound track.

Best regards,


Spelling of 'Warhol' aside, this irritates me on SO many levels. First of all, when he's like "you got your 15 minutes of fame!" it seems SO dismissive to me. This is not my 15 minutes of fame. This is part of my job. I hope one day I get my 15 minutes of fame, and I hope it's not from some local evening news piece that interviewed me cause I teach a class related to a specific topic, I hope it's when some of my research gets national attention. And you know what, i do important research, and I bet some of it will eventually get media attention. But to my dad this interview in my first year as an assistant professor is as big as I'm ever going to get?

And second, AGAIN with the sefer torah religion thing. Like I get that this is a big deal to my dad, but can he just for ONCE send me a message that does not have religious content involved?

So last time I just ignored his email and never wrote back to him. B thinks this is the wrong strategy, he thinks I should be honest about how much it irritates me to get these types of emails, because if I don't they will keep sending them. B thinks my dad is trying to wear me down by constantly sending me religious comments.

So I drafted an email back, but I would love for the internet to weigh in...should I just not respond, my regular strategy? Or should I make an attempt at actually trying to communicate that his religious emails irritate the crap out of me. Also the dismissive thing.

Dear Abba,

I doubt this is my 15 minutes of fame..I would hope at least some of my research gets some media attention at some point. :) This is just par for the course when you're a professor at the biggest university in a metro area, and I'm betting this won't be the last time I'm interviewed as a local expert on something. :)

I know you're excited about your new sefer torah, but I don't want to see a video of how you spent the money that would have gone towards my wedding if I had married a Jew on a "family heirloom" that we all know is going to E. I think it would be better for both of us if you didn't mention religious things when you email me. You know I'm not religious. I don't want to talk about religion or your religious ceremonies with you. I don't want you to send me videos of your religious ceremonies, anymore than you wanted to see the video of my wedding, or pictures of my christmas tree. Let's just keep religion out of things entirely, because it just brings up hurt feelings. I'm not sure if you DO want to have a relationship with me, but relationships are usually built on commonalities, and sending me emails with religious content is not the way to go, since that is not something we have in common. Why don't you tell me about something else going on in your life?

-Abandoning Eden

What do you think? I feel like I'm kinda overreacting, but I also feel like I'm tired of my dad giving backhanded compliments like "this is your 15 minutes of fame" and I'm SUPER tired about getting emails about religious things.