April 29, 2011

2011 Garden

Think of this as an administrative post and just skip it. But I find it really helpful to look back at previous year's garden plans when I plan the next year.

Last year:

We didn't allow enough room between squash last year and also found that climbing beans don't work well next to okra. As good as the three sisters plan sounds, it makes for a big mess when trying to get to everything.

After the beans were finished, volunteer watermelon came up in that area and we let them go. Another mistake as they tried to take over the garden, and grass grew up among the vines and was impossible to control. So this year, I expanded the garden to the west, covered the area with black plastic and cut holes in the plastic near the soaker hose for the watermelon. Since cucumber is also a sprawling vine, we put it out there too.

This year:

We have had such strange weather that our onions have started bolting but not ready to harvest, and the okra didn't sprout well, and I recently replanted. I thought okra was indestructible but apparently not. I also haven't planted marigolds yet as they grew more quickly than the surrounding plants and kept them from growing well.

April 26, 2011

Sometimes, Genealogy Happens in the Strangest Places

When you have an unusual surname in your family tree, your genealogy antenna go on full alert when you hear that name. At least, if you are like me they do. So last weekend when we were at the airshow, my antenna perked up when I heard the announcer say that one of the pilot's names was Sledge. Sledge isn't the most unusual name in my family tree, but it's not terribly common. And being the curious sort, I had to do a little research when I came home. The website for his flying team said he was from Mississippi. It didn't say Sledge, Mississippi, but it sure narrowed the odds. It did have the name of his college, so I turned to ancestry.com and found his college yearbook picture and description. Then I turned to the Sledge book and found his entry. Everything fit. The neat part is that his air team is based not ten miles from my house.

From the website, I emailed him and waited with anticipation for a return email. Unfortunately, there has been no return email. It could be the email went to their spam folder, or it could be that he is just not interested in making a family connection. That's the sad part of genealogy. How many times have we found a long-lost branch of the family, only to find that the interest is one-sided? More times than I can count I'm afraid.

But since I told mom, she pulled out all her Sledge records in anticipation of filling in some missing information. Sorry mom. But I did get video of his part of the airshow, so copy this to your program if you can.

Should I rub it in that this man is only six years younger than mom? Yeah, I thought so too.


Genealogy, Video

April 23, 2011

The Howling Wind

It's wearing me down. It makes it so hard to do any yard or garden work. Driving against it is also wearing. Please make it end! On another note, Governor Perry asked people to pray for rain. I don't think I've ever heard of a governor asking for prayer before.


April 21, 2011

Resist the Urge

This is my public service post of the year. I wanted to get a celebrity to do it, but none returned my emails; I can't imagine why not.

This may sound like a top ten list, but I didn't put that much thought into it. These are just things that popped into my mind this week, and in no particular order.

1) When driving down the road with a dirty windshield in a light drizzle, DO NOT turn on the windshield wipers if you are not 100% sure you have fluid in the reservoir. You might think the windshield is wet enough to wipe off the dirt, but trust me, you do not, and the resulting dirty smear will be worse than trying to see through a million little droplets on the windshield. The life you save may be mine.

2) If you are wearing a white shirt, DO NOT order a hamburger with mustard at the drive-thru. Those little pieces of mustard-covered lettuce WILL fall on you no matter how hard you try to hold the bun together.

3) Again with the white shirt. If you order tea (or any dark iced beverage) and it does not come with a straw, DO NOT try to drink the last bit. The ice WILL stick to the bottom until you have the glass tilted up, and then it will come crashing down against your face, splashing tea (or the other dark beverage) onto your shirt.

4) DO NOT touch up your hair color yourself the night before a big event, like a wedding, or Easter. There isn't enough time to buy a wig or a hat if you turn your hair green. You can wash your hair ten times and the green still won't come out.

5) Do NOT get a hair cut in a new style before a big event. If you don't like it, there's not much you can do about it. You'll know it's bad if the photographer asks you to stand at the end, and when the pictures are printed, you aren't even in them.

6) If you are standing in front of the mirror wondering if anyone else can tell your pants are too tight, DO NOT wear them. The answer is YES. If you can tell, so can everyone else.

7) DO NOT drink a glass of water before going on a long walk. You don't want to be thirty minutes from home, on foot, and in a desperate situation. Better to walk up and down your block and have your neighbors think you are stalking them.

I hope you can learn from my mistakes my observations. And tips for those who don't listen. Wet wipes will remove tea from a white shirt but you will have a big wet spot on your shirt for awhile, Prell shampoo will eventually strip the green from your hair, and T.J. Maxx has some lovely hats right now.

Happy Easter, y'all! I'll be the one in the big hat.


April 17, 2011

Air Power Expo

The other day Hubby asked if I'd like to go to the air show at Carswell. I haven't intentionally been to an air show since I was a kid; we happened to be in San Francisco one year when we saw an air show going on overhead and we have a neighbor who is a stunt pilot and practices his moves over our neighborhood from time to time. But we hadn't taken a weekend off in months and I thought it would be fun for a couple of hours. I started to get cold feet before we left though. The thought of porta-johns, long lines and crowds made me reconsider. Plus the wind has been horrid lately. But Hubby had already reserved our spots, so I was committed. Just for a few hours, right?

The day started off a bit chilly and with a slight breeze, but it warmed up quickly and the breeze dropped to a near standstill, so it was a really nice day. The wind kicked back up today, so yesterday was the day. The show started off with the salute to the flag, but in true aviation fashion, the flag came through the air.

There were people out there with enormous lenses on their cameras. After trying to get pictures with my little pocket camera, I could see why. Oh well, that was ten pounds I didn't have to carry around.

There were several exhibitions with F-18 Hornets. They are amazing. Lil and her boyfriend both work on the F-18, she from the design side and he from the building side, but they never talk about the plane itself. I had no idea it can do such precision moves. And of course, the Blue Angels fly the F-18, but more on them later.

There were also several exhibitions with smaller planes. This one is Tim Weber in an Extra 300, a German monoplane, zooming down from a loop.

Then he rolled into a loop from the other direction.

The coast guard did a rescue demonstration, but the Blue Angels were parked in front of us so we didn't get to see it. Don't worry, I'm not going to post every picture I took, though the AV8 Harrier was spectacular. Photographs don't do it justice, but it can hover, turn in place, and even back up. It reminded me of the Schwarzenegger movie, True Lies where the jet suddenly appears hovering outside the skyscraper window.

I don't know who this next pilot is, the name isn't on the schedule, but this pilot was a thrill a minute. He began his part of the show with a a twisting spin that couldn't have been more than twenty feet off the ground. I barely got this picture before he took the plane straight up and than down in a spiral, pulling out at the last minute, barrel rolls, and even going straight up until the motor quit, dropping down tail first, and turning end over end, again just pulling out in what seemed to be in the nick of time. What is even more amazing - this pilot is 76 years old! I got a little of his show on video and plan on showing it to my mother-in-law every time she says she is too old to do anything.

With my pocket camera, I videoed some of the more memorable exhibitions, the Harrier, the Blue Angels, and a couple of World War II planes. Most of videos I took, especially of the jets, look like they are videoes of UFOs - kind of fuzzy with a funny glow around them. But this one is slightly better in that you can tell it is a real plane and that it is red. And that's about all you can tell. The pilot is sponsored by Hubby's company and he was fantastic.

The Blue Angels closed the show with style. I thought I had a picture of two of them crossing, but with my camera zoomed all the way, the shutter didn't snap quickly enough. The below picture is the only one I got of them out of all I took. Toward the end of the show, the five F-18 Hornets got into formation and each split off the formation into a fleur de lis pattern.

We got there just before the show started at 10 a.m. and of course, my first stop was the line of porta-johns right inside the gate. Already out of toilet paper. No where to wash hands, but they did have stations with hand sanitizer.

Now here's the good part. Because Hubby's company sponsors one of the pilots, we got a VIP I.D. card and parking. What that means is that we parked a mere sixty feet from the front gate, which was wonderful coming in, but not so much leaving. The VIP I.D. card gave us admission to a big tent canopy set up next to the runway, with seating in the shade or right next to the runway. This was a tent that was also for pilots and their families, so we got to hob knob with these celebrities. I actually didn't get to hob or knob with any of them, but one of their kids did bump into me once, does that count? And when the Blue Angels took flight and everyone crowded to the rail, I got to stand behind them.

Mere commoners had to bring in their own chairs, and carry them at least a quarter mile to the viewing areas. If they didn't bring a chair, they had to sit on the pavement or stand. Those who got there really early got to sit next to the runway, and those who only got there on time had to sit quite a way back. There wasn't a lot going on right at the runway, so there were really no bad seats for viewing. But in the afternoon, shade was nice. Really nice.

This is them:

This is us:

Commoners had to fight the crowds to buy their lunch:

We had a catered lunch:

But the very best part - drum roll please.

They had porta-johns, long lines and no toilet paper:

We had a trailer with real flushing toilets and sinks with soap! See the air-conditioner and no lines?!!!

I'm usually one of the peons standing in line for an hour. I could really get used to this!

The only drawback to parking sixty steps from the front gate was being the last ones out of the parking lot. But Hubby had a deck of cards in the car so we played blackjack while waiting for the line to move. I won.

A very good day.

April 06, 2011

First Lily Bloom

I hate to admit this, but I haven't cleaned out the pond yet this spring. The lilies haven't let that stop them and have been putting up pads like crazy. True to form, Ellisiana is the first to bloom.


April 04, 2011

More Adventures of The Cat

Long time, no blog. Sorry about that. I've been trying to find a life. I've been searching and I just don't know where I left it.

One thing we've been doing around the old homestead is planting the garden, and trying to attract purple martins to our martin house. Hubby has a CD with purple martin sounds and he plays it morning and night. The martins have made a few fly-bys but none have landed as far as I know.

If you have a martin house, you know that there is a constant battle to keep starlings and sparrows from a) roosting in the house, and b) pulling baby martins out of the house. Since we have no nesting martins, our focus is on keeping the sparrows out so the martins will have a place to go. To that end, we have a wire cage trap set up not far from the martin house. It is beside one of the fence posts on our veggie garden, and the fence is chicken wire. The top of the three foot fence has no support as I thought the floppy nature of the wire would prevent the cat or squirrels from climbing into the garden.

The other day I noticed the trap door was down and I could see a bird inside, so I went out to investigate. Of course the cat tagged along, and as soon as he saw the bird fluttering in the trap, he ran to the fence, and instantly climbed to the top. By the time I got there, he was clinging to the top of the fence which was swaying wildly back and forth beneath his weight. His eyes were still glued to the bird in the trap, but when he tried to put a paw toward the trap, the fence jerked the other direction and he had to wrap his foot around the chicken wire instead, until he couldn't climb up, down, or even let go. He was meowing pitifully when I grabbed him around the middle and pried him off the fence, then dropped him to the ground before he could bite me.

With him safely down, I pulled down the trap and let the bird go. It was a female cardinal and glad to get out of there. After I let it go, the cat paced back and forth in front of the trap, meowing pitifully like a kid who just broke his new toy.

There was another cardinal in the trap today, and I took the video camera along with me in case the cat tried to climb the fence again. He didn't. I guess he's smarter than I give him credit. Too bad, it really was funny.