Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gardening update and a passover miracle

It's been so long since I've updated and so much has grown since then!
Here are the peas and onions at 5 weeks and again at 7 weeks. The second picture was taken today, and there are also dill and cilantro seedlings sticking out of the ground (although they are hard to see). In about a week I'm going to plant some zucchini seedlings out there and the week after that 3 pepper seedlings will go back there too.

I recently repotted all the seedlings into larger containers with real (potting) soil. The seedlings grew pretty well the first few weeks (especially the zucchini seedlings, which I didn't even plant until about 4 weeks ago).

The cotyledons (The first set of leaves) had come up fine, but the first set of true leaves had started to peep out and then the plants kinda...stalled and didn't grow anymore. So last week I replanted the zucchini and a the red bell peppers into plastic cups with some potting soil in them (and holes cut in the bottom for drainage.) The true leaves on those peppers started growing like crazy (as you can see in the picture- the true leaves are the heart shaped leaves) so today I replanted the colored bell peppers in real dirt too (they had been growing in seed starting mix, which doesn't have a lot of nutrients- hence probably why they stalled after a while).
This time I put a bunch of seedlings into the same pots which will make it easier in a couple of weeks when I start to take them outside and inside for a week while I harden them off before planting them outside.

Meanwhile, on south side of the house I cleared out a big weed patch and planted dill, cilantro, 3 mammoth sunflowers (1 to block the view of our neighbor's front porch for each of our 3 windows), and a rosemary and oregano plant. Some peppers and basil will go out there in a few weeks too.

In this picture you can see the rosemary with a sunflower seedling on the top left. There's also dill seedlings growing there above the rosemary but they are pretty hard to see.

In passover news, on erev passover (day before passover) my dad called me while I was teaching a statistics class. So after class I called him back, and my mom picked up the phone. A passover miracle occurred! I talked to her for a whole 3 minutes before she made up an excuse to pass the phone to my dad. But I talked to my dad for a while, and then I talked to my youngest brother E for a while. The 3 of them were at a hotel for the first days of passover.

My brother E wants to be a professor and is going to be applying to Philosophy PhD programs in the Fall. It's funny, when I moved home for an uncomfortable summer between college and moving away to grad school (and out of my parents house for good) my mom said some mean thing about how I shouldn't talk to my youngest brother too much so I wouldn't be a bad influence on him "the way I was on my other brother" (who actually started eating non kosher meat before I did, so I think it was more the other way around- although we did go OTD at the same time and were very close at the time).

Anyways it seems like I did influence my youngest brother- to try to become a professor like me! And I got a text message from him yesterday saying he got an invitation from phi beta kappa and was that a good thing and should be join? (I answered "That's the most prestigious honors society in academia you should definitely join and congrats!"). I'm totally a GOOD influence! (I'm also in PBK).

It did sting a bit when my mom made up an excuse to hand off the phone to my dad after like 3 minutes on the phone. But at least I should be glad she answered my call at all? (she answered my dad's cell phone cause he was talking to someone on her cellphone) That was the first time I talked to her since I called my dad when my grandfather died in October, and she answered his phone then.

Oh and I almost forgot the actual passover miracle! So after I invited my brother to come visit whenever he put my dad back on the phone, and I figured, what the heck, I might as well invite him too. So I was like "hey if you ever are driving to Florida or something [my parents now have a condo in Florida that they inherited from my dead grandparents who lived there for about 20 years after they retired]. you should come visit us on the way. And my dad said that maybe he would drive down to Florida in December and visit us and my cousin's mom who lives in Atlanta on the way down.

So yeah! Possible actual visit to our house by my parents! (or at least my dad? Not clear). And classes are over for the semester, and finals are about to be taken starting tomorrow! And in a week and a half my brother and his new-ish girlfriend (they've been dating like 8 months, and I've never met her) are coming down to visit on his motorcycle. I don't know much about her but we are facebook friends, and she is on a roller derby tea, so from that I infer that she is awesome. Then after after that my inlaws are coming for a few days and I think we will do some of the touristy things around town with them. :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Tova was posting about cleaning out her mother's basement and finding all sorts of old stuff and trying to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of.

After living in dorms for the last two years of college, I spend a couple of tense and uncomfortable months living with my parents over a summer before moving to my new apartment for grad school. When I made that move to my new grad school city, 2 hours away, my mother told me that I should bring whatever I wanted with me cause she was throwing everything else out (which she did- I left behind some artwork I had done in college and a pair of steel toe boots, and she threw them + the artwork away. I really felt the love in that family).

I threw away/donated/gave away 22 years worth of stuff when I moved out of my parents house that last time. I gave away clothes, books, and threw away years worth of letters, including some I had gotten from people over the summer as a child during the two summers I spent in Sternberg sleepaway camp (before I was kicked out, ha), old dolls (including some I had sewn and embroidered myself when I was very young- a skill I have absolutely no use for as an adult- which I wish I had kept), lots of clothes from my goth days, and pretty much all the decorations and posters and trappings of being an adolescent.

I decided I would keep all pictures, all yearbooks, the two glasses filled with stuff from my bat mitzvah and melted over with wax (assembled by some classmates) that was all the rage when I was getting bat mitzvad in 1994, some tickets and playbills, some stuff from ex boyfriends, and my diary from when I was on birthrite. I put these all in a box I labeled "big box o' nostalgic crap." When I was in grad school I left this box in my closet, except a few times when it came out and I looked over the stuff in there- sometimes when old friends were visiting, sometimes to show to new(ish) boyfriends about what my life was like back in the day.

I also kept a box of sefarim (religious books). I actually gave away a whole lot of sefarim when I made that move (most just went to my family's library), but I kept my tanach (old testament), the artscroll chumash (the torah) which I used in high school chumash class, that 5 volume blue version of the chumash, two machzorim which I had gotten as a bat mitzvah present and which had my name engraved on them, a couple of siddurs that I had used frequently as a child/teenager, a couple of books of tehillim and some benchers from my brother's bar mitzvah and from some weddings of friends.

In grad school those sefarim took up the bottom shelf of one of my (4) bookshelves, under a shelf that had lots of books on Buddhism, ancient Greek religion, Quakerism, lots of yoga stuff, and some philosophy of religion books from my "reading lots of stuff about religions" phase in college. When I moved to the South last summer I brought the sefarim with me. When I got here and I was unpacking the books, I decided these books didn't need to be out, they could stay in a box. I had put the big box o' nostalgic crap in one of the closets in one of the spare bedrooms (which we don't really use), so I decided to put the sefarim in there too- on the highest shelf (out of sight, out of mind)

Of course I strained my back, lifting a heavy box like that over my head. It hurt for weeks.

So as I moved into my new house here in the South, my old baggage was still causing me pain, even as I was trying to put it on the shelf.

How symbolic.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


The past week has been crazy. In addition to my normal work load (teaching 3 classes this semester) we had to have our annual review documents in by Friday so I had to write a narrative about what I've been doing this year and update this ancient official computer program with all my yearly activities, I'm giving a guest lecture this week so I prepped an extra lesson last week, I'm getting peer reviewed in 2 of my classes this week so I worked extra hard on those lesson plans and had a meeting about that with the people reviewing me, and I had to edit the page proofs for one of my upcoming articles (and journal editors always give you like a week to finish them at this stage).

But the weekend was great. Yesterday we went to home depot and got lots of gardening supplies, some plants, and paint for the bathroom. A few months ago Max ate the plastic support holding up the wall mirror in our bathroom, and the mirror fell down. The mirror was fine but the wall was damaged. So we spackled the wall and fixed a spot next to that as well. The previous owners had left tons of cans of paint, and we figured we must have that color too. Well, it turns out we had every shade of beige except this one (which we figured out after testing several colors on the area behind the mirror), so for several months our bathroom was in limbo and we just propped the mirror up against the wall.

Yesterday using a box cutter I cut off a little piece of the wall behind the mirror- about 1.5 inches square. I stuck it in an envelope and wrote down the info on all the other paint the previous owners left behind (since they were all the same kind, we figured this had been that kind too). And we headed off to Home Depot, where this old painter guy who seemed kind of scatterbrained mixed us up a can of paint that matched it nearly-exactly.

So we came home, I painted, and then we used a studfinder to find some wooden beams and screwed in new metal mirror supports into those beams (the previous plastic supports were screwed into drywall which wasn't helping) and rehung the mirror. The paint is the tinyest shade darker, but it's so close you can't tell unless you know where to look. Bathroom accomplished!

Also today I put out a bunch of black mulch around some bushes out back where I pulled out a ton of ivy last summer (The mulch looks much nicer than bare dirt). In plant news, I picked up a strawberry plant that is already growing mini strawberries, a second rosemary plant (one is going to be potted and one is going in the ground when it gets warmer) and a baby oregano plant. Yesterday I started some zucchini and eggplant seeds.

Now there is nothing to do but make sure my plants get enough water (but not too much water) and make sure the pea vines climb up the trellis for about the next 3 weeks, until all chance of frost is gone. At that point I'll be hardening off and then planting bell pepper and basil seedlings and cilantro and dill seeds and one of the rosemary plants directly into the ground, and replanting other pepper and basil seedlings into containers for the north facing deck. I'll also be moving the oregano and lemon tree outside. About a month after that the zucchini and eggplant will go outside.

The lemon tree is growing lots of new baby leaves. It's been pretty cold this past week so the Crape myrtle outside hasn't put out any new growth since it's been planted, but it seems to be doing ok as far as I can tell. The peas are slowly growing and the onions seem to be loving this cold weather.

I think this place is going to pretty much be my gardening blog for the next few months.