Don't miss my NEW Bossypants review (under Memoirs & Autobiographies)
and The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes review (under the Fiction tab).
(Click on "Book Reviews" tabs on right)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Attack of the Killer Tomatoe Plants

Help!  My tomatoes are out of control!  They’re growing out of their cages and over the fence and into the neighboring green beans and peas!  They’re five foot tall and still growing -- truly! Vines and green tomatoes are everywhere.  We’re talking only six plants here:  one miniature tomato plant and a beefy plant both from Urban Growers.  The remaining four are misfit plants found at a veggie stand that were drying up and looking a bit like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.  We took pity on them, paid $1 for all four and threw them in our garden just to save their little lives.  Now they’re all crazy huge!  What’s with that?

What’s a gardener to do?  I found some good advice in the Plain Dealer article “Taking late-season care of tomato plants” (08/11/11).  According to Mr. Lamp’l, I’m supposed to get in there and cut back those wild offshoots and “new suckers…that grow from the crotch”.  I’m also supposed to “watch for disease” and “by now the first generation of caterpillars  will have dropped to the soil, pupated and emerged as sphinx…,” not to mention keeping an eye out for parasitic braconid wasps, hornworms [lovely illustration included] and the “smooth, oval, light-green eggs…on the lower sides of the leaves.”  I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to jump right in and fix my tomatoe issues.  No matter, I’m going to don my rubber floral-patterned garden boots (they’re so cute) and my rubbery green garden gloves (necessary, not so cute) and my sharpened clippers.  Then I'm going to muster up some gumption to tackle those gangly grappling green plants and their associated critters and creatures.  Assuming I don’t kill myself stepping over the fence (for the record, I often clip the fence with my oversized -- but cute -- boots landing full face either in or out of the garden) and that I don't get eaten alive by hornworms or contract some parasitic disease, I’m planning on taking on those monstrous tomato plants today. 

Did you know there was actually a campy B movie back in 1978 called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? See, someone else obviously had issues with tomatoes besides just me.  I’m going to get red tomatoes yet.  I promise.  I know you have to be careful what you wish for.  I envision thousands upon thousands of red tomatoes ripening all at once.  But that’s okay by me.  When it happens, I’ll do what I always do with my excess produce.  I donate it to Geauga Food Bank.  My neighbor and dear dear friend, Doris, volunteers there on Wednesdays.  *She says there are more families than ever in need of food donations.  Being unemployed, I can relate.  It makes me even more cognizant of the need to help others.  Thus, the more tomatoes, the merrier.  All that I can say now to my tomatoes is, “Bring it on!”

*Since I have time on my hands AND if you have excess produce in your garden AND if you want me to pick it up for the food bank, just say the word and I'll come get it.

The Plain Dealer: Inside & Out

Urban Growers:

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Up-side of Unemployment

If you’ve been reading along on my blog, you would know that I’m laid-off work and actively seeking employment.  Now that I’m settling in to this new role, I am realizing that there is an up-side to unemployment.  One is realizing that I have a wealth of beautiful friends.  They have been an absolute saving grace during this transitional period.  I’ve met with some of my closest friends, re-connected with some old friends, and have kept in touch via e-mail with colleagues and new friends.  It’s been a joy having these friends around.  They have passed along job leads, encouraged me to look in new directions, prayed for me, made me laugh when I wanted to cry, and let me cry when I needed it.  They met me for coffee, lunch, drinks, for a walk, wine, martinis (truly, I’m not an alcoholic).   I’m so thankful to have such a great group of friends!  When I’m on the other side of this job hunt, I will certainly pay it forward.  Thanks dear friends!!

I’ve had an opportunity to meet my boyfriend for lunch and dinner more often.  That certainly is a nice treat!  He’s my biggest supporter, my personal cheerleader and a great different perspective when I need it. 

Another up-side of being out of work is having ample time to read.  I punched out The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and Bossypants.  I loved Bossypants!  I always like Tina Fey, but now I adore her.  She’s so real and so funny!  I am working on the reviews.  I should have them on-line shortly. Look for them soon.  Next up is Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson. 

You would think that I might sleep in more often now that I have the time.  But I can’t.  I have too much going on in my head worrying about finances and about finding a job.  I am a bit of a worry-wart and lean towards anxiety at times.  I’m up very early.  I make myself stay in bed until it’s close to sunrise.  Then, to counteract my nervousness, I get right up and go out walking.  My walking has now moved into an occasional jog – walk, jog, walk, jog. I’m not ready to run a 5K yet…but maybe I can progress to that level. No matter, I have greatly increased my exercise quota.  That’s a good thing -- definitely an up-side.

Yet another up-side is that I’ve had a nice summer spending extra time with my kids (once I got past the shock part of the unemployment).  I’ve been able to talk with them for extended periods of time which looks something like this:

Hi Hon.  How was camp?
Was it a lot of running?
What did you do when you weren’t running?
I don’t know.  Stuff.
Like what kind of stuff?
Did you play Ultimate Frisbee?
Did you enjoy it?
Who did you hang out with?
Mom, do we really have to talk now?  I’m tired.  I just want to sleep.

As you can see, my kids and I are really bonding.  While that’s a pretty accurate representation of many conversations, I’m happy to report that we have had a few shining moments because of the extra time.  I’ve had plenty of opportunity to bake cookies, make dinners, and have a lot more sit-down meals with my boys.  I’ve enjoyed that immensely. 

There is a positive to every negative.  There is a heads to every tails.  There is an up-side to every down-side.  If I keep telling myself this, I may just start believing it.