Ripped Off Twice

I love playing in the dirt. I love planting things and watching them grow. I love harvesting my vegetables, eating them and preserving the surplus. The first year we moved here, we designed a large garden and built raised beds to grow a myriad of vegetables and fruits for the next year. Or rather, I designed the garden and Mitch built the raised beds and installed the fence around the perimeter to protect it from the dogs. We had a truck dump eight yards of garden soil to fill the beds. We over calculated how much we needed and ended up with a surplus of about two yards of dirt.

The first gardening year, I was a bit ambitious and planted zucchini and cucumber from seed. Needless to say, I grew, ate, gave away and preserved close to a ton of fresh zucchini and cucumbers. At least that’s what it felt like. The next year, I paired it back a bit and only planted three zucchini, but I planted cucumber from seed. I still had too many zucchini and ended up trying my hand at pickling cucumbers. I made dill pickles and sweet spicy pickles. They turned out pretty good for a first attempt.

This year I decided to scale the zucchini and cucumber way back. I only bought one zucchini plant that had two little starts in the pot and one cucumber plant with three little starts in the pot. I got adventurous and bought a cantaloupe plant with two little starts. I bought all of the starts from one of the big box home improvement/gardening stores. The plants all looked healthy when I planted them. After a month of growth, all of the plants had blooms and were growing big.

Two weeks ago I was inspecting the cucumbers and noticed some tiny black bugs on the leaves. I turned the leaf over and was horrified that the underside of the leaves were covered in these tiny black bugs, even the blooms had tiny black bugs all over them. Aphids! Oh my god, I have aphids. Now what? I googled how to control aphids, hoping for a natural remedy. Ladybugs are a predator, but looking at the infestation I had I wasn’t sure there were enough ladybugs in the state of Washington to eat their way through my cucumbers and rid me of the aphids. I decided the next option was insecticidal soap and neem oil. Those two didn’t seem as devastating to the rest of the insect population, so I carefully sprayed the cucumbers with the insecticidal soap. I checked the zucchini and cantaloupe too and yep, I had aphids on them too. A week later I sprayed the cucumbers, zucchini and cantaloupe with the neem oil, hoping that if I keep rotating between the two, I might get rid of the aphids before they spread to my tomatoes and peppers.

I returned from a business trip and was going through the garden inspecting my plants saw a cucumber that was ripe and picked it. As soon as I picked it and inspected it I realized that it wasn’t a cucumber, it was a zucchini. The zucchini plants were mislabeled as cucumbers and now I had five zucchini plants instead of two, no cucumbers and the bonus of an aphid infestation. I am really regretting my decision to even have a garden this year. Plus I will never buy another plant from that store again.

I am giving serious consideration to ripping out the zucchini, cantaloupe and the “cucumber” plants and hope that the aphids go to the yard recycling heaven and feasts to their hearts content someplace else.

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And I Thought I Had Seen it all

Well another trip to the Midwest and back home is in the books and there were some interesting incidents. It seems travel dress code keeps getting more and more relaxed. Bathing is also an option it seems. Pajamas are all the rage, along with stocking caps (in the summer???), flip flops or insulated soft boots. Quite the combination. Gone are the days of flying “is an event” and wearing nice clothes. Now it’s grab something off of the floor that doesn’t smell too bad and away we go.

As we landed in KC and as soon as the seatbelt light went off, I stood up and got my backpack out of the overhead bin and was waiting for the door to open so I could face the oppressive heat that was waiting for me. As I was waiting in line I overhead a woman in the row behind me say, “It’s a dry heat unless there is a storm coming.”

I looked at her for a split second then turned around quickly so I wouldn’t laugh out loud. In all of my years growing up and living in the Midwest, we never once used the word “dry” to describe the hot muggy oppressive summer heat. And to prove my silent declaration correct, the screen at baggage claim, read out 89° for the temperature and the “real feel” temperature was 99°, oh yes, a dry heat. I had a week of nineties and up to a hundred with the humidity levels almost as high.

When I travel for work, I try to carefully pack only for what I will need. After four years of flying back and forth halfway across the country monthly, I’ve gotten better at streamlining most of my packing. I still take my electric toothbrush, even though it is bigger than a standard no frills manual toothbrush. I make sure it’s all charged up before I leave so I don’t turn my electric toothbrush to a manual toothbrush. For this trip I was also pulling double duty. I was pet sitting two guinea pigs and a cat. Thursday night, I was sitting down and reading my emails when I heard this weird loud buzzing.

I thought oh no something is going to blow up and burn the house down. Super, how was I going to explain burning down my son’s house to him when they get home? I walked toward the bathroom and the sound got louder. My electric toothbrush just decided to turn itself on and I could not get it to turn off. It ran through the two-minute cycle, then shut off. When I got ready for bed, I tried to turn it on and brush my teeth, but it wouldn’t turn on so I ended up brushing my teeth as a manual toothbrush. I thought the toothbrush had bitten the dust. It was almost ten years old so I wasn’t surprised and planned on throwing it in the trash in the morning before I left for work.

Imagine my shock and surprise when shortly after midnight the toothbrush turned itself back on and wouldn’t turn off until it ran the two-minute cycle. I had just fallen back asleep when it went off again. This went on all night, every fifteen minutes or so, the toothbrush ran its’ two-minute cycle. I considered many solutions, none of which were good ideas. Finally, at three thirty in the morning, the toothbrush ran its’ last two-minute cycle and I had to get up in twenty minutes. Awesome, what a way to start the day.

Now though I had another dilemma. I wasn’t sure it wouldn’t resurrect itself and start running through the cycle off and on. I couldn’t put it in my checked bag, a potential security problem. I couldn’t put it in my carry on, again, a potential security problem and I was afraid of throwing it in the trash. What if it started up and got hot in the trash and started a fire? I don’t think I would be forgiven for burning down the house and killing the cat and guinea pigs. I ended up giving it to one of the guys in the shop at work who said he would put it in the compactor and crush it.

Friday afternoon, I boarded my flight for home looking forward to a movie, glass of wine or maybe two, I wasn’t driving. When the food and beverage cart came around I got my glass of wine and settled back to watch the movie. I glanced across the aisle and was struck speechless. The young woman in the middle seat put on one of those facial sheet masks. I quickly turned away in order to not get caught with my jaw gaping wide open. For a split second I thought maybe she had a skin condition, but no, I remembered when she sat down, and her skin was flawless.

What’s next, depilatory in the exit rows?