We love circus-y things in Spy Garden (click here to see us showing off more of our circus tricks). St. Louis has a wonderful circus arts school that offers many classes, including flying trapeze lessons (click here to check them out)! I am a proficient juggler, so naturally, juggling clubs while walking the slackline is coming soon. Ha! But for now, I’m happy to enjoy the tricks of the spring garden…
In Squirrely Garden…
And springing around St. Louis…
Smoochie took the kids on a SIX mile hike last Sunday; SIX miles!
The other day Smoochie saw this sign/a bunch of riders with their horses and pulled over for the kids to get a closer look.
I was born in 1982 which means that probably at no time in the 1980’s was I thoughtfully considering fashion choices. This means I was never fully responsible for wearing neon. So really, I’m more like a child of the 90’s. The glorious 90’s. The renaissance of nail polish. Over-the-knee stockings with pleated skirts from Contempo. Melrose Place. Clueless. Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.
Recently, I noticed something weirdly familiar in my
rare sporadic shopping escapades: The 90’s are back! While not all of it is wearable for a second go-round (i.e. anything I ever owned from Contempo)…
The nails…Vamp? Very Vamp? Totally doable!
Teva’s also had a 90’s moment.
Fashion is generally an extracurricular pursuit in the land of Spy Garden.
I rarely pick out Baby’s outfits as she is quite capable of dressing herself. And at Forest School there’s little room for fashion. They get really, really dirty. And have to stay really, really warm in the winter months.
(and really waterproof, bugproof, etc. in other seasons). They wear a green uniform t-shirt everyday too. So there’s not really much fashion going on there, its mostly all about utility. But they do learn to sew, make costumes for performances and so forth. And they dress up for picture day. And the dress code allows for NO characters of any sort. Which actually is a great victory for fashion when you think about it. So amid the framework of utility there is fashion, right?
But enough about Baby…
I am a nurse and believe nurses should look like this:
What ever happened to those hats? And white pencil skirts, how did those go by the wayside? I mean how on earth did we go from…
To scrubs? Is there anything less fashionable than scrubs? I think not.
I think the scrub infiltration might have actually started in the 90’s now that I think about it. Fortunately I don’t have to wear scrubs in my nursing position. But I digress.
Fashion before function is great in theory. But what is great for feet are Birkenstocks. It is so hard to wear shoes other than Birkenstocks once you know how glorious they are.
In order to fully express my affection for these shoes and the excitement of rediscovering them via my consideration of 90’s fashion I have written a Shakespearean sonnet.
Ode’ to Birkenstocks*
In sumptuous suede or gold burnished leather
At your stamped bronze buckle a few may baulk
But on cloud-like cork I’m light’s a feather
Dearest beloved, easy, Birkenstock
If Choo, Weitzman, Blahnik or Louboutin
Are height, narrow toes; lithe ballet for feet
Chic and hip, happiness to see, to don
But is comfort luxe? Or modest, discreet?
Bunions, blisters, heels stuck in sidewalk cracks
Are sometimes worth the pain. But must one trade
Pretty shoes for pretty feet? With socks*, slacks,
Birkenstocks, in your favor I’ll crusade.
Plush pedal succor; if a bit ugly
Down with fashion; I shall wear them smugly!
So there you have it; Birkenstocks, the Gem of the 90’s ( I do realize they’ve been around a lot longer than that, but that’s when I discovered them). What’s your pick for Gem of the 90’s (fashion or otherwise)? Leave it in the comments!
*Yes, the clogs, with socks. So sue me.
**My Birkenstocks were unable to be visually represented in this post because they are too ugly.
And outside at the Missouri Botanical Garden…
And back in the land of Spy Garden…
And in Squirrely Garden…
By “they” I mean Smoochie and a few other parents and staff. I only have these few photos as I was not in attendance for this fence-install (thankfully; it was freezing!)
Now that you’ve seen how fun it is to share how gardens grow, check out…
Happy March/Happy Spring!
We’ve started peppers and eggplants (three varieties of each), Thai Red Roselle, ground cherries, red celery, blue hyssop, red cabbage and an herb called wild dagga (which we’ve grown before for ornamental value; it’s a great Halloween plant).
(Lupinus mutabilis) The Tarwi Lupine is another one of the “lost”foods of the Incas. Originally cultivated only in the high andes, Tarwi is a plant supremely adapted to the stress of high altitudes-it can take drought, cold and wind and still be very productive. Nowadays agronomists and gardeners are taking a look at Tarwi for growing in other places other than the high mountains. In Denmark and Northern Europe it is being trialed as a new pulse crop. The beautiful white seeds are choc full of fats and proteins. Tarwi has been cultivated/domesticated for probably close to 2000 years. The seeds themselves cannot just be eaten without a little simple preparation. The seeds contain alkaloids that are bitter, fortunately they are quite easy to remove just by soaking and rinsing them over a few days period. In the past this noble crop of the Andes was known only by the poor indigenous peoples, today thanks to modern systems for rinsing large quantities of seeds it is now a “chic” food of the Urban wealthy. Our own friend john Glavis is raising Tarwi with great success on the California coast north of San Francisco. The seeds offered here are from select Peruvian strains tracked down by Joe. They need a long growing season but really like cool weather too, so the Pacific Northwest coast is a great place to try them, everyone else could just give them a shot and save any seeds produced to select them to adapt to new climates. (from the Baker Creek website)
I’m largely showing these pictures to prove how simple it is to start a garden. Dirt in containers of your choosing (that long clear thing is a box that a poster came in!) and a few seed packets is all you need. Then put the cups in a windowsill that gets some sun, keep them moist and in a few days you will have little plants! We’ve advanced a bit from just a windowsill and now have a wooden box that can sit atop a dresser or desk and two grow lights clip onto it.
Our windows are pretty drafty so the extra heat from the grow lights is important when it is still pretty cold out.
For way more details and information about seed starting check out my glogging friend Maria at Sweet Domesticity for some Seed Starting Q & A!
A hike in Greensfelder Park…
It was 11 degrees just this past week, but it’s been in the 60’s all weekend!
January was been Jan-packed with exciting new things. Graduate school (reading…and writing, writing, writing…lots of new things!). Squirrely Garden (the garden at Babyzilla’s school) had a big beginning-of-the-season planning meeting. I gave myself a new title; Honorary CEO. As I just can’t commit to my Squirrely Garden CEO duties of yore. But they are using the Spy Garden deer fence plans as inspiration for a new deer fence and I still plan to photograph the garden as it grows. There will also be an orchard planted at Baby’s school this year; and a whole load of berry-bushes! In other news, Babyzilla has learned the art of photorealist portraiture:
And the Spy has been slaying it in school and reading lots of good books (including the Hardy Boys; I loved Nancy Drew at his age!). Frigid cold in Spy Garden, and dry, not much snow this year (so far!). At this time in winter all the cold has sucked the color from withered vines and only the hardiest of plants show bits of green. The landscape is all blues and greys and tans; very nice and unfettered, methinks.
A year ago I became a registered nurse. On this site, I never shared anything about nursing school while I was attending. The first I mentioned it was the night of my graduation with a bachelor of science in nursing (December 2013). I tend to prefer “afters” to “befores” or “durings! I’ve shared with you all that I’m gainfully employed as a nurse, but never shared what field or anything about my work (other than my lovely commute!). It’s nice to have Spy Garden as a place of leisure; where I don’t think about work, where the focus is purely on art and plants and other things I find interesting.
This month I started graduate school, I am seeking a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP). I sort of freaked out at first; grieving the loss of my leisure pursuits.
Would there be no more drawing, painting, sonnet-writing or gingerbread-Eiffel-tower building? No more socializing? No more contemplative and thoughtful gardening-as-art? So long to documenting the growth of the garden in hundreds of photographs! What about outings? Hiking? Yoga? Ever again? Maybe I can just throw some seeds down and see how things turn out?!
I was being a bit dramatic. There will still be gardening; there will ALWAYS be gardening! It’s just an adjustment. For now, the program is online (the clinical practice hours won’t start for another year or so) and so I can be really flexible with when I complete coursework (i.e. 4-6AM haha!) LOTS of reading, writing, discussions and research. Everything in APA format; no ellipses or sentence fragments or ambiguity. But these academic pursuits are not unimaginative and cold. There is a science AND art to nursing. There’s loads of room for creative and artistic expression in both nursing practice and in graduate nursing education. The expression is just distinct from the Spy Garden Status Quo I’d grown accustomed to. But change is the stuff of progress and growth. And you all know I love growth!
Spy Garden (both the garden and this website) shall still be cultivated. Maybe my post-format will change, maybe it won’t. Spy Garden may be my escape from citations and peer-reviewed journals and evidence-based practice…or it might be a place where I share these things. I’m not really sure! I do know that the frequency of posts will decrease; I’m aiming for a post a week. And so goes the beginning…I’m just a few weeks in…3-4 years to go!
Happy Saturday all!
Happy Friday! Some random images from the week…
Happy weekend all!
My daughter (known in Spy Garden as Babyzilla!) attends a Forest School. Rather than have daily themes or weekly lessons, the kids do semester-long projects on topics of their own choosing. My son (known here as The Spy!) also attended the school when he was younger so I’ve seen a wide variety of really cool projects. At the end of each semester the project comes together with some sort of event or “store” or publication or art installation or field trip. The Ocean Project concluded with a child-written play. The kids made the set, designed and made the costumes (learning to sew with the teachers’ assistance) and performed for the parents.
There’s been a Dog Project which concluded with parents bringing in their dogs and walking them through different stations of a Dog Spa…
There was a City Project, Animal Project, Dirt Project and many more (and many more to come for Babyzilla!) Often when the kids are working on a project they will write letters to various individuals or businesses asking questions or making requests to learn more about the topic. Teaching kids to seek out experts in fields they are interested emphasizes that their inquiries are part of a world outside the classroom walls (or treeline)!
From the school’s website…
Our philosophy is based on the truth that young children are best challenged in the arts and sciences when they are given meaningful work in the dynamic setting of the real world. Here, their experiences have big implications. Content is contextual, not isolated. It is all connected to the world that surrounds.
Sounds impressive. But do preschoolers really feel connected to the world beyond what they see in their immediate surroundings? Do they really feel they have the power to influence their environment? Are these concepts farfetched? The school proves over and over again it is possible!
Recently, the kindergarten class at the school was doing a “Bone Robot Project” (remember the project topics are of the kids choosing!) While this project was underway, one student, in researching his first name (Roa) came across a Belgian street artist, whose pseudonym is ROA. ROA’s art often depicts the bones and other internal aspects of animals.
Excerpts from an email from the school…
When Roa brought examples of ROA’s work for them to see, they were inspired. They still mention his work often, and it has influenced the direction of the project. In fact, they were so inspired, they decided to write to ROA and invite him to paint a mural at [the school]. He’s kind of a big deal in Europe, so we really weren’t expecting a reply.
ROA said yes!!!
We believe in empowering children to change the world. This is not an empty, grandiose statement. When we say “change the world,” we mean the immediate world—the world within reach. We want our students to internalize an “I can” attitude. I can climb that rock. I can build a bone robot. In short, I can imagine a change in my environment and then make it happen. We believe that fostering this attitude can lead to the more grandiose outcome later in life. Writing a letter to a well-known artist and having him accommodate the request definitely serves this purpose.
This spring ROA will be coming to the school to do a mural. So exciting!!!
The animals ROA chooses to paint are those that live in the area surrounding the location of the mural. I wonder what he will choose? A bunny? Racoon? Deer? Ladybug? Groundhog? A turtle, snake or crawfish? He’s got a lot of great options of special creatures that live right in the woods of the school’s eleven acre campus.
What makes even more exciting is that ROA has a secret identity. ROA is a pseudonym. And I just love the concept of a secret identity. Spy Garden is sort of my own pseudonym. (Or is it Mrs. Spy Garden?!) Can’t wait to watch the mural in progress and to share the final masterpiece with you all!
I really enjoy winter. It may even be my favorite season. Which may sound strange coming from someone who lives for dirt and plants (and who was born and raised in southwest Florida!). The gardening possibilities seem endless in winter. Winter shades of taupes and tans are like a blank canvas.
I can expand there. Maybe plant the tomatoes over there? Sunflowers here?
Winter is a time of inspiration. Tomorrow the high will be seven (degrees Farenheit). Seven is my favorite number. (See? There’s always a brighter side!) Blustery, windy frigid weather can be inconvenient. Long hair sticking to the velcro of coats and rising up with static electricity and tickling your face and obscuring your view (I’m thinking of Babyzilla here haha). Gloves, scarves, mittens, hats. Scraping ice off windshields, salting the driveway, shoveling heavy snow. Winter adds elements of adventure and survival to prosaic activities and errands. Watching the sunrise, listening to the radio and wandering thoughts are the commutes of summer. In winter, a commute is often a silent ride of hypervigilance. Eyes wide scanning for black ice, creeping slowly down steep, snowy roads with short and fervent prayers. More darkness, more fear (don’t worry Mom, I drive very slowly and carefully!) Winter is a harder season. Maybe I like the challenge? What I really like is to daydream of garden futures (not whilst driving of course!)
I love spotting covered things in winter. They remind me of the sculptures of Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
Taking time to explore art in winter inspires the spring garden.
What sculptural elements could we add to Spy Garden? How can we add more whimsy and interest? How can we make the garden unique this year?
Per Kristian Nygård, a Norwegian artist, had a recent exhibition in Oslo that is very inspiring…
Walter de Maria’s Earth Room (from 1977) is also rife with possibility…
Wouldn’t it be fun to have a greenhouse like that?! Many people question “That’s art?!” What do you think? Back in Spy Garden, we re-hung a lot of our own art work. I find changing the position of art can do wonders for freshening up the house.
All of the Christmas decorations are packed away, but I like to keep the outdoor lights on for as long as possible (maybe through the whole month of January!?)
Best thing about 2014?
“My first homerun.” (The Spy)
Best thing you ate from the garden?
Smoochie and the Spy say, “Pumpkin Pie!”
Best addition to the garden?
Shaw Nature Reserve every time! Shaw Wildflower Market in May, The Meramec River in Shaw in December, Shaw in July (the wildflowers!!!) Shaw Nature Reserve is the #1 Spy Garden Don’t Miss St. Louis Garden Outing Destination!
Best Plant of 2014?
I’m voting for the Eucalyptus.
Smoochie says, “The blackberries”
Best wildlife photo?
Best Photo of 2014?
Best Media Moment?
Click here to read about Spy Garden in the November/December 2014 issue of St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine!
Favorite Blogs of Spy Garden?
What were your Spy Garden favorites of 2014?
A few more favorites from 2014…
Hope you all had a very merry Christmas!
A few pictures from Christmas last year…
Working on a gingerbread Eiffel Tower for this Christmas!
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas this year; will it snow?!
The skins of each clove of this variety of garlic are purple as well. All of this garlic was started with a small handful of seeds given to us by some friends 5+ years ago. Garlic grown from seed takes three years to make a full head of garlic; if dug up in the first or second year of growing it is still edible; the heads will just only have 5-7 cloves on them. If garlic is grown from an individual clove you can plant it now (winter time) and harvest full heads of garlic by late spring/early summer.
Christmas came early for the garden (“the garden” here as anthropomorphic figure as it is a force larger than myself HAHahhaah)…
The new 2015 seeds have been shipped and delivered! (Though let’s face it, these aren’t the only seeds/plants I’ll procure for the 2015 growing season). Sunflowers…herbs…giant pumpkins…plant cuttings from friends/neighbors/etc. aren’t included on this list below. The list below are the varieties I ordered from http://www.rareseeds.com which is the website for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds located in Missouri. They have a location in historic Wethersfield, CT and a seed bank in Petaluma, CA.
Along with the name of each type I’ve added a note about why I chose that particular variety…
Mammoth Red Mangel Beet: A white fleshed beet with blushes of red. We have hard clay soil and growing large root vegetables really improves the dirt. Plus who doesn’t want a giant beet?
McGregor’s Favorite Beet: Because I used to live off of McGregor Boulevard. hHahaha
Giant Red Re-Selection Celery: Ooooo red celery?
(Kulli) Black Incan Corn: Onyx-black shiny kernels. Perfect for Halloween décor! And my parents recently took a trip to Peru. And we love alpacas and llamas and they’re from Peru.
Dragon Tongue Bush Bean: These were a 2013 favorite of the kids; tasty eaten raw right in the garden or with dips. Pretty purple stripes down flat pale yellow pods; pretty and tasty!
Dragon’s Egg Cucumber: Because of Game of Thrones; isn’t it coming back in 2015?! Winter is here! Spring is coming and there shall be the eggs of dragons in Spy Garden.
Sikkim Cucumber: Also looks like a dragon’s egg.
Tarwi Q’ollo Lupine: The description is very interesting:
(Lupinus mutabilis) The Tarwi Lupine is another one of the “lost”foods of the Incas. Originally cultivated only in the high andes, Tarwi is a plant supremely adapted to the stress of high altitudes-it can take drought, cold and wind and still be very productive. Nowadays agronomists and gardeners are taking a look at Tarwi for growing in other places other than the high mountains. In Denmark and Northern Europe it is being trialed as a new pulse crop. The beautiful white seeds are choc full of fats and proteins. Tarwi has been cultivated/domesticated for probably close to 2000 years. The seeds themselves cannot just be eaten without a little simple preparation. The seeds contain alkaloids that are bitter, fortunately they are quite easy to remove just by soaking and rinsing them over a few days period. In the past this noble crop of the Andes was known only by the poor indigenous peoples, today thanks to modern systems for rinsing large quantities of seeds it is now a “chic” food of the Urban wealthy. Our own friend john Glavis is raising Tarwi with great success on the California coast north of San Francisco. The seeds offered here are from select Peruvian strains tracked down by Joe. They need a long growing season but really like cool weather too, so the Pacific Northwest coast is a great place to try them, everyone else could just give them a shot and save any seeds produced to select them to adapt to new climates. (source)
Mitoyo: A nearly black eggplant; the description said it was one of the most delicious eggplants and can even be eaten raw.
Thai White Ribbed Eggplant: grew this one before from a free seed packet from Baker Creek and the variety did really well. Eggplants always seem to take FOREVER to mature in Spy Garden; so I’m going to start them indoors early this year.
Strawberry Spinach: I’ve tried growing this one before without success. Little red berries (that in the picture look like raspberries) and flat broad leaves that can be eaten like regular spinach.
Dwarf Banana Collection (PRE-ORDER): Mmmmm!
Hardy Kiwi Collection (PRE-ORDER): MMMmmm!
Rare Fig Assortment (PRE-ORDER): MMmmm!
Dishcloth or Luffa Gourd: A gourd you can wash dishes with? Had to see it in person! I’ve had my eye on this variety for years and finally gave in to my curiosity.
Quinoa, Shelly 25 Black: Because our good friend is named Shelly. And she’s a vegetarian and quinoa is an excellent source of protein!
Black Seeded Sesame: Mmmmm!
Flax: Flax fibers for making our own rope?! And seeds for eating! And pretty blue flowers!
Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry: We have grown giant cape gooseberries for the past two years and they took a long time to mature and didn’t produce too many berries. So trying a more classic variety of ground cherries.
Early White Vienna Kohlrabi: Baby picked this one. Kind of looks like a space-ship! We’ve grown the purple ones before. Tastes like cabbage.
Charentais Melon: French varieties always seem to do well in Spy Garden and we’ve grown Delice de la Table the past two years so wanted to try a new melon (like cantaloupe) this season.
Orangeglo Watermelon: Mmmmm! We grew this variety in 2013.
Royal Golden Watermelon: The rind turns a bright yellow/orange when ripe! Have tried unsuccessfully to grow this variety in the past.
Noordhollandse Bloedrode Onion: Like the looooong name haha; and the color is a striking, deep purple. Baby picked these.
Black Hungarian Pepper: We’ve grown these once before. Perfect amount of heat in a smooth, small black pepper. The plants themselves are also deep shades of green/purple and the blooms are purple.
Yellow Monster Pepper: In the pictures these were HUGE yellow peppers with green striations.
Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes Pepper: Love the looooong name of this variety. Hahaha! These were one of Baby’s favorites for eating straight off the plants in the garden. Sweet and crunchy; these peppers turn yellow but we ate them before they ever got to that stage!
Thai Red Roselle: Very pretty plant we grew in 2013. Roselle is the tangy ingredient in the “zinger” varieties of tea.
Monstrueux De Viroflay Spinach: I always buy this variety. Good, tasty spinach!
Red Malabar Spinach: We had a small plant of this type in Squirrely Garden (the garden at Baby’s preschool) and I was intrigued. It looks like a succulent but you can eat the fleshy leaves.
Beleah Rose Lettuce: Baby picked this lettuce. Looks like a tutu!
Iran Squash: I bought this one because it reminded me of the show Homeland. I consider myself a master of diplomacy; having a symposium of seeds from many nations represented and all getting along famously right in my own front/side yard. Hahhaha
Triamble or Shamrock Squash: I have tried unsuccessfully to grow this variety of squash 2009-2013 and am still determined to grow it. It is a blue winter squash that has three lobes (like a shamrock). Maybe 2015 will be its year!
Victor or Red Warty Thing Squash: I don’t know if I’ll try to grow this or not; it was sort of an impulse buy. I want to get some pumpkin seeds from some 700+lb Atlantic Giants (from specialty pumpkin growers like this one) and try for some giant pumpkins. So may not have room for these bumpy round red fruits. I also had great success with Rouge de Vif d’Etampes pumpkins so am tempted to grow those again.
Delicious Tomato: We’ve grown these before. And yes, they’re delicious.
Wagner Blue Green Tomato: Because it looked very colorful in the picture.
Copia (Tigercopia) Tomato: A pretty yellow/red striped tomato.
Hyssop, Blue: I’ve grown this before. Lovely deep royal blue/purple blooms that grow on stalks (similar to lavender). It is supposed to be a natural cough suppressant.
Lion’s Tail or Wild Dagga: I’ve grown this one before. It is a perfect Halloween plant; orange and fuzzy flowers peek out through sharp and spiny seed pods. The time we grew this it was 10+ feet tall.
Dwarf Coral Garden Mix – Cockscomb: Perfect for the “coral reef” (an area of the garden which has ever-bearing strawberries).
Celosia, Pampas Plume Mix: So colorful! Very similar to the magenta amaranth we grow (Hartman’s Giant) but shorter (about 4 feet tall).
Alaska Red Shades Nasturtium: A deep red nasturtium; seemed unique to the usual bright, tropical shades of nasturtiums we normally grow.
Yellow Canary Creeper Nasturtium: A very weird looking flower (on the seed packet drawing); I’ve tried growing this twice before but it never made it. I’ve since found that nasturtiums do best with a fair amount of shade.
Yeti – Nasturtium: Because it’s Christmas! And don’t Yeti’s live near the North Pole?!
A (three hour!) hike through Shaw Nature Reserve today…
Imagine grade school if Ranger Rick were the headmaster…the state’s only Forest School emphasizes the outdoors. Children from ages 2 to 6 play on logs and boulders, rather than slides and monkey bars. They help grow their own food on-site, and prepare it in a teaching kitchen led by a chef. They follow the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, choosing their class projects and gaining essential skills along the way. “Our belief is that if you can learn it inside, you can learn it outside,” says president Ilya Eydelman. “It’s more than just a school with trees around it—although we do have more of that than most.” (from stlmag.com)
In the above photo the frothy yellow plant is asparagus (which we also grow in Spy Garden). I would actually like to dig up our asparagus and relocate it before spring but it has been VERY rainy/snowy/cold and still haven’t even gotten a chance to plant the garlic yet.
And because I am a sucker for the abstract…
After walking through through the Garden Glow we also visited Gardenland Express which is an indoor display of holiday flowers and plants and trains.
Click to learn more about Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show (both running now through January 3/4, 2015).
Click here for a direct link (it will open in a new window) to the article in the November/December issue of the magazine!
Here is an excerpt from the article about the pumpkins pictured earlier in this post…
Bright-red ‘Rouge Vif D’Etampes’ pumpkins dangle from a lattice arbor that also frames a garden vista centered with gray-green eucalyptus and frothy asparagus foliage. The decorative and highly edible squash were the most popular pumpkins in the Central Market in Paris in the 1880s and were used as the model for Cinderella’s coach.
I like to leave some carrots in the ground through winter to dig up for snowman’s noses. You can see in the above picture where the carrot greens have been gnawed off by deer. The deer fence has a large opening that we have not repaired yet, so they are sneaking in and taking what they can get (which at this point is not much!)
He was moving very slowly (cold blood!) so it was easy to catch him and bring him inside for a closer look (and photoshoot of course haha) before releasing him.
Happy Friday friends! Hope you all had a great week. Cold and darkness has enveloped Spy Garden as of late and we’re a bit behind in the raking, garlic planting and other fall garden to-dos…But one highlight of our week was watching Disney’s The Humpback of Notre Dame. Makes me want to read the original by Victor Hugo. As we watched it, the Spy (he’s 9), remarked,
“This is a little dark for Disney.”
Speaking of darkness, here is an excerpt from an interesting article about a new invention called Vantablack…
…the blackest black ever seen, or, actually, not seen….
Vantablack, for Vertically Aligned NanoTube Array, is made by “growing” carbon nanotubes on a metal surface. (A nanotube is a billionth of a meter thick, or about the width of three gold atoms.) Light is trapped between the tubes and bounces around until it’s absorbed, so almost no light gets out.
Vantablack has enthralled not just the tech world but also artists and architects. Ben Jensen, 48, a founder and the chief technology officer of Surrey NanoSystems, spoke by telephone from his laboratory in Newhaven, England, about the material’s applications and why it might not be quite right for your home. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)
Q. Why are people so excited about Vantablack?
A. The coating reflects so little light, three dimensions seem to disappear. When you look at Vantablack on some wrinkled aluminum foil, it looks like a black, flat, featureless void, even with your eyes right up to it. That and the fact that it’s the darkest material ever created.
How did all this start?
Growing carbon nanotubes isn’t new. But typically they’ve been grown at a very high temperature: 750 degrees centigrade. That would destroy most underlying materials, so they grew them on things like silicon, diamond and sapphire, which can stand high temperatures. We’re building on work to grow nanotubes at a lower temperature for microelectronics.
What’s special about carbon nanotubes?
It’s almost like an alien material from “Star Trek.” Imagine a drinking straw, closed at one end, with a wall one-atom thick. This straw is one-ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair, but it is 10 times stronger than steel, and 10 times better at conducting heat than copper. It’s been known to exhibit what is called “ballistic transport”; electrons travel through it with almost no resistance. Vantablack packs billions of these straws together. (to read the full article in the NY Times click here)
Fascinating concept; and imagine the possibilities for artistic application of vantablack! In other color and light news…We are excited to visit Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden next week. Garden Glow is expected to sell out, so get your tickets soon!
I hope I can get some cool shots at Garden Glow; I always struggle trying to take decent photos at night. I’d also like to make a Spy Garden Garden Glow one day!
I’ve also been doing a little crocheting this week. Crocheting is such a great thing to do when it is frigid out!
I made the same shaped hat for myself in black wool. I’m making some leg warmers for Baby out of the same purple (super soft!) yarn. Baby demanded the leg warmers. Then she demanded I unravel them (a request I did not accommodate) Hahah She also demanded this morning…
“I want to listen to Taylor Swift RIGHT NOW!”
And some “new” music for the Spy too…
A few more random shots from the week…
Have a great weekend!
Circus Harmony does weekly circus training classes at Baby’s Forest School. They offer flying trapeze lessons and other fun classes. Here is an excerpt from their website:
RUN AWAY & JOIN THE CIRCUS & STILL BE HOME IN TIME FOR DINNER!
At the Circus Harmony Center on the third floor of City Museum and at numerous outreach locations throughout the St. Louis area, we offer a wide array of circus arts classes for ages 5 through adult. We have Fall and Winter/Spring and Summer sessions. You can also book workshops and private lessons any time of the year at City Museum or to come to you. Click on the link below for our current class schedule.
Our staff is headed by Jessica Hentoff, who has over 39 years of circus teaching and performing experience and includes Honored Artist of Mongolia, Rosa Yagaantsetseg, International Jugglers’ Association Excellence in Education Award Winner…(source)
Sounds fun, right? We have juggling clubs here (and I can juggle six with another person!) and our have some “circus” equipment; but I think I would like to add a Cloud Swing and Slackline and maybe a tightrope…;) haha
Still haven’t planted our garlic yet: maybe this weekend! Each one of the cloves will grow a whole head of garlic by early summer if planted now.
Mmm apple season! Here are some descriptions of locally grown apples…
Jonathan – Thin skin, creamy yellow meat with a great snap and wonderful balance of sweet / tart flavors and natural spiciness. At home raw on a fruit plate or baked into pie.
Fuji – Firm, dense flesh, reliably crispy, juicy and sweet with great shelf life. Excellent chopped in muffins and cakes; one of the best for serving raw. I served thousands of them on cheese plates raw, sliced, dunked in lemon water.
Granny Smith – Very crisp, tart, refreshing apple that combines well with sweeter varieties in baking, clearly preferable for use in salads.
Golden Delicious – Mellow, sweet apple suffered from years of mass-production abuse. Google it today and you see “very good flavor when home grown”.
Arkansas Black – Pretty dark red right now, they are good storage apples and the skin darkens in storage. A very solid apple, the slices will remain crisp in baking. Good acidity and a touch of astringency make a great back drop for fall spices.
Rome Beauty – 19th century heirloom originating in the township of Rome, Ohio. Very crunchy which makes this an outstanding pie apple for holding its shape and not weeping in the crust. Not super-sweet so takes well of apple pie spices and compliments without clashing on the cheese plate.
Winesap – Hard to find heirloom, very juicy, sweet-tart, deep, rich, spicy and, well, winey flavor. Eat raw, bake, excellent with cheese.
Empire – I see the flavor described as “vinous” but I would say melon-like, even elderflower. Great for raw applications or baked in a mix with other varieties.
Cortland – A McIntosh cultivar, red skin blushed with green and white to pale pink flesh. Nearly all US production is in New York State, almost within sight of Cornell University where it was developed at the start of the 20th century. Sweet-tart, all purpose apple good for jelly, pies, apple sauce, cider, fruit leather and all around eating too. Slow to brown when cut.
Crispin – Also known as Mutsu , a green apple with very sweet, honeyed flavors, juicy, crunchy and crispy. Excellent eating out of hand and very good baking.
Braeburn – Great eating apples originated in New Zealand in the 1950’s. Thin, yellow-green skin with a dark scarlet blush, its very juicy and moderately sweet with a remarkable depth of, well, appley flavor that suggests cinnamon before you add any.
Firm Gold – Related to Granny Smith, green skin, juicy flesh with a firm bite of acidity and a caramel-y sweetness.
All Apples mix or match – $2.50 / pound – 20lb case of a single variety – $2 / pound
These descriptions are from Baby’s school: they email out a LOooooong list of locally grown foods each week and you can order things and pick them up at the school. I’ve never ordered before (can’t believe I missed another fall opportunity to sample the elusive pawpaw!) But I do love reading the descriptions…
Missouri Seckel Pears - The Seckel (SEHK-uhl) Pear (aka the Sugar Pear) is superb for salads, sliced on sandwiches, for pickling or spicing. It is a true open-pollinated heirloom variety so there are lots of genetic variations and these, from Berger, Missouri are much larger than the standard Seckel. Like most pears, they are harvested pretty hard and ripen after picking. They are great for poaching right away, soften and sweeten in a paper bag in a few days to make a wonderful tart or pear sauce.
$2.75 / pound – 20lb case – $2.25 / pound
Illinois Asian Pears - I haven’t had local Asian Pears before so I’m looking forward. They arrive Thursday morning and I’m expecting juicy, crunchy, creamy white flesh with a sweet tang and lovely aroma. $2.75 / pound – 20lb case – $2.25 / pound
Fall Rhubarb – There doesn’t seem to be any commercial Rhubarb productions around here, so you have to find fanatics who love the stuff so much that they plant way too much for themselves and have extra to sell. If you are determined to use it with Strawberries, you are in luck. I have beautiful sweet local Strawberries in my freezer from the height of the dearly departed summer season but lots of good Rhubarb preparations do no need the crutch of Strawberries. 6.50 / pound
Frozen Elderberries – Big flavor, deep color, tiny berries, huge anti-oxidants. Associated in European folklore with fairies and elves, here is 100% edible frozen Elderberries packed into zip lock bags like buckshot in a shell. Very good for jam, great in muffins, excellent sauce for game meats. See what you come up with.
Apx. 4.5 lb. bags – $9 / pound
Aren’t they fun descriptions? Maple syrup, milled sorghum flour, flavored vinegars, pickled peppers, brown rice…It goes on, and on and on…for seven more pages! And ALL of these things are grown/prepared right here in Missouri! The descriptions remind me of those in seed catalogs (which we will soon be receiving in the mail)! Reading seed catalogs is a good cold weather activity: and we need lots of those because Baby, it’s cold outside! There were flurries here today. My poor silver dollar eucalyptus; it’s a huge plant in the garden I plan to dig up and bring indoors: hopefully it will survive until I can get out there and brave the cold and dig it up! But not tonight: Brrr! It’s in the 20’s (F) and windy. I prefer swimming laps in a warm pool to gardening while I adjust to the earlier darkness and the weather! Baby and I are also working diligently on our ballet. It’s more like yoga + ballet. So yollet. Yollet TM haha
Yollet. It’s a thing. #arabesqueallday
So inspiring! And check out these three pretty ballerina pictures below. They are from the ballerina project
The majority of ballerinas who have posed for the project are currently or have danced for companies such as American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Dresden Semperopera Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Ballet West, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet… (source)
And one more priceless ballet picture I came across this week…
So yes, Yollet, that is how Baby and I are celebrating the beautiful art of Ballet. More on our arabesques soon. But for now, I would like to define the helfie. That’s hair + selfie.
And a few more random things to share…
Happy Thursday Friends!
Right up the road from Spy Garden, friends of ours have a whole adorable herd of llamas and alpacas! We enjoyed our first (of hopefully many!) visits recently…
The owner of these llamas/alpacas uses the fur and spins thread and wool with it! I look forward to talking with her to learn more about this process (and see some of the things she makes with it!) For now, all I really know about llamas and alpacas is that they are a combination of a cuddly stuffed animal, a camel, and a pony and are SO much fun to play with (and photograph!)
Apparently mastodons used to roam freely in the land of Spy Garden. I didn’t even know what a mastodon was! It is like a wooly mammoth, but a bit smaller and with a less lumpy head.
That, friends, is a giant ground sloth: a Jefferson’s Ground Sloth.
After checking out the museum and watching a short video that taught us all about the history of the site, we hit the…
The “Bone Bed” sounds more exciting than it was; there are no public excavations at this time (so basically it was “the woods” haha) but still a very…
“Mastodon State Historic Site contains an important archaeological and paleontological site – the Kimmswick Bone Bed, where scientists discovered the first solid evidence of the coexistence of humans and the American mastodon in eastern North America.” (source)
Click here to visit the park’s website and learn more about this cool place!
Brrrr! Baby was going to be a pumpkin but opted for this cozy skeleton costume instead. She had long underwear and a full fleece zip up onsie under there; kind of like a Christmas Story Halloween haha.
We went to the Spy’s friend’s house in a nearby neighborhood for trick-or-treating.
And check out that golf-cart in the background; that is what we rode on while out-and-about. It was frigid and windy; but we all dressed warm and stayed toasty!
Back in the garden, Halloween brought with it…
Hope you all had a happy Halloween! I am already dreaming of next year’s pumpkins…
And one more link for you: the digital version of the Spy Garden article in St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine! (The article is on page 54!)
Baby was indeed behaving but showed little interest in the carving until all the pumpkins were lit up in the dark. She was busy breaking in her Halloween costume for tomorrow. What will she be? A pumpkin, of course!
I wanted to carve the name “Rouge Vif d’Etampes” and “Atlantic Giant” into two of the pumpkins, alas, I didn’t have that sort of patience within me aujourd’hui. I tend to employ (and enjoy!) the rough, impulsive and unplanned form of pumpkin carving. But feel free to just imagine it. Lovely, right? HHAhaha Both of these two varieties of pumpkins are “curcurbita maxima” so there is a possibility that they cross pollinated, which would mean the seeds contain a combination of the two varieties’ genetic material. I think I had fully intended to only grow winter squash of different species within the curcurbita genus (there is maxima, pepo, mixta and moschata) so that they wouldn’t cross-pollinate so that I could save the seeds. The seeds look unique to each variety; but what do you think? How likely is it that they two varieties mixed and my seeds will grow Rouge Vif d’Atlantic Giant Etampes pumpkins?!
I got twenty hard copies to send to my nearest and dearest will also share the link to the digital version of the article when it becomes available on November first! The article is so well written and does a wonderful job of capturing the Spy Garden spirit. The magazine will be available locally (at Dierbergs, Schnucks, etc.) in a couple of weeks! In the meantime, please enjoy the usual Spy Garden happenings…
And more shots of strawberry picking,..
…and another night…”Wicked Plants” night…
Beyond Spy Garden…
A Forest School is “an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment” (source). Baby’s school is also inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education…”The child is also viewed as being an active constructor of knowledge. Rather than being seen as the target of instruction, children are seen as having the active role of an apprentice. This role also extends to that of a researcher. Much of the instruction at Reggio Emilia schools takes place in the form of projects where they have opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding. (source)
And at the top of that hill…
Down the other side of the hill…
Hmmmm a Frisbee Golf Injury? (during PE at school)…I was not there when this injury occurred, but I imagine it was something along these lines…
HAHAHah but the Spy is fine and will have the cast off in two weeks.
Since today is Sunday and a new episode of The Walking Dead is on tonight, sharing the Spy’s zombie story he recently wrote seems quite appropriate. Well, it would probably be more appropriate to try and come up with a Sunday devotional. All Saint’s Day is in October, which is sort of about dead people…And zombies are dead…Ok, stop! Am I seriously trying to relate zombies to Christianity? I mean…that is pretty farfetched!
This is not our church. Though I’m not judging. And maybe I should’ve gone to service here this morning just for material! We attend a more conservative (Lutheran) church and the sermons rarely involve zombies. So I will spare you a Spy Garden attempt at Jesus vs. zombies. Though it is sort of tempting.
The Spy’s zombie story is quite long: 1600 words!
The only thing I changed in typing this up were minor spelling errors. And twice I inserted my own comments in bold, for effect.
The Killing of the Zombie Werewolf by the Spy, age eight (written in fall of 2013)
One night I was walking in the woods. Then I heard a crack! I froze. Then I heard a big “grrrrrr!” I was really scared but I wanted to find out what it was. I started to get closer to the sound and when I got really close I saw two big red eyes. Then I got so close it started to walk toward me. I stepped back and it got closer. I could not tell what it was. But I could tell that it was a really big creature. I started to run and then I heard a giant “rarrrrrrr!” I was so scared that I tripped over a rock and started to roll down a hill and then I fell off a cliff and landed on my back.
I woke up about three hours later. I was still wondering what the animal was. I remembered seeing two red eyes. I was thinking so hard about it I could not feel the pain from falling off the cliff. When the sun came up I saw enormous footsteps. I started to walk after the footsteps. When I saw where they ended it was next to a big dead tree. There was a big hole in the tree and red blood came from the inside of it. I jumped down in the hole. I landed on a brick and I passed out.
I woke up six days later. When I woke up I was in a cage at the bottom of the tree. I saw a huge furry animal. I was right under a full moon. Now I knew what it was. It was a werewolf. I was about to yell for help until the werewolf saw me. It ran to the cage and slammed into it. It opened its jaws and bit into the metal. I tried to climb up the tree and then I fell. I saw that the metal was starting to break. The werewolf could almost get in. I started to climb the tree again and when I reached the top I got out and ran. I spotted a rifle and grabbed it and I shot the werewolf. It kept running after me but slower. Then it finally dropped to the ground. I went to the werewolf and shot it again.
I was feeling really good about myself. I went to the road and found a 1971 Dodge Charger. I punched through the glass and it had a giant sound. All you could hear was “Beeeep! Beeeeep! Beeep!” I saw someone coming really slowly. I saw some blood on his shirt and I was pretty scared but not that scared. I hopped in the car and I saw a screwdriver and I made it go into the key hole. The car was on and I stepped on the pedal and I went so fast. I ran over the zombie and he went flying. I stopped the car and backed up and ran him over again. He was dead. His brain was splattered everywhere. Then I smiled and slammed the pedal.
I drove up a hill and at the top there was a million zombies. I turned around and they heard me. They went running slowly after me. I thought that they were so slow that I turned back around. I ran over about 600 zombies. I was laughing so loud that it was louder than the beeping.
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH The car alarm is still going off?!
After that I stopped at a camp site in Atlanta. There was a bunch of people there with guns. There had to be a thousand guns. I got out of the car and they were pointing guns at me. I stepped back to my car and got out my rifle. I pointed it at them and said, “Put down the guns.” They said no and pulled the trigger. They missed me and I shot one of them. They surrendered and said, “Sorry for trying to shoot you. But we’re going to kill you anyways.”
I said, “Apology not accepted.” And I shot every single one of them. I took their guns and put them in the back seat. I drove out of the camp site and ran over some more zombies. It got really boring. I went for a little drive and then I saw another wolf but its arm was gone. I realized what it was. It was a zombie werewolf. I stepped on the pedal and then the werewolf zombie grabbed the car and threw it into the woods. The car landed in the middle of a giant mud puddle. I pushed the pedal and it could not get out. I pushed the pedal really hard and it finally got out of the mud. I drove out into the road again and the werewolf zombie was eating a man. I went the opposite way the zombie werewolf was. The werewolf zombie saw me and ran after me again. I pushed the pedal and it outran the zombie werewolf. It was so fast that I couldn’t even see the zombie werewolf.
I turned on the radio and the news was on. I turned up the radio and put a song on. Then zombies came running after me but they were running slowly. I turned around and ran over them all. I stopped at a gas station and filled up the gas in the car. Then I went in the gas station and saw some food. I realized I was really hungry. I ran to the food and put it in my car. I was eating gummy worms. I was going 200 miles per hour. I had “We will rock you” on.
The front of the car was busted so I fixed it up and then I saw a truck. It had a plow with spikes on it. I took the plow and put it on the front of the Charger. Then I got in the car
And hopefully now that infernal beeping of the car alarm had stopped! HAHhahaha
…and the zombie werewolf was in the road. I ran over the zombie werewolf and it died. Its body was split in half. I drove over and over the zombie werewolf. It was shredded up into a million pieces. I drove back to where I killed the werewolf and I went to where I shot it and it was gone. I knew what happened to the werewolf. It was eaten by a zombie.
I climbed down the tree and I climbed through where the hole in the cage was. There was nothing but dead people. Then I left the tree and went home. The next day the earth was back to normal. There were no werewolves or zombies or zombie werewolves. There were a lot more people then when there was the zombie werewolf apocalypse. I was wondering why there were more people then when it all happened. I asked my neighbor, “Why weren’t there any people in the apocalypse?” They said because the apocalypse was so easy to survive that they all hid from everything that happened. I said “If it was so easy, why did you hide?” They didn’t answer and ran back home. I said, “Wait.” And they went faster. One of them went into a cage and threw meat in. I ran over but they were already gone and there was a zombie.
I went home. I turned on the tv and watched a movie then I heard a “grrgrgrgrgrgr” and I was so scared I ran for my life. I went out the door and got in my car. I stepped on the pedal and ran over a zombie. Then I got out of my car and saw 1,000,000, 000 zombies. I realized how many guns I had and got a mini gun out. I blew up a million zombies and there was still like 50,000,000 zombies left. The zombies were coming like a freight train off the tracks. I saw the giant bullets from the gun were gone. I went to get more ammo but there wasn’t any more left. I got out a bazooka and demolished all of them.
Then I went back to where I shot the zombie. It was gone. I went in the house next to the cage. The house was completely empty. I checked all over the house. There was no sign of a zombie. I went outside and looked in the woods and saw the zombie. It was split in half and burned. I saw that its guts were splattered all over. I wanted to know who the person who did it was. There was a track of car tires. I followed the tracks until they ended. They ended at a jail in the middle of the woods. There were zombies with their jaws off and their arms gone. They were in chairs and they were tied to scare crows. Then I heard a car coming there was a nuclear bomb attached to the top of it. Then I ran behind a bush and watched what he did. A guy got out of the car and he took the nuclear bomb out. He chucked the bomb and set it on fire. Then I ran for my life. I got to my car and pushed the pedal as hard as I could. I was going 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles per hour. I was slowing down the gas was almost empty. The then car stopped. I was next to a big giant pile of gas tanks. I got out of the car and filled up the car. I got back into the car and drove all the way to China. When I got there, there was 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 zombies. I took a machine gun and killed 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 zombies.
We had our yearly parent-teacher conference last week shortly after he wrote this. I met with his teacher and by that point had only skimmed through part of this story (which he wrote at school). I said “Uhhhhh yeah I think his story was pretty gory.” She cheerfully replied “Oh yeah, they were supposed to be scary stories, it’s all good.”
Then he got a glowing report on all fronts. Reading, math, behavior, all stellar.
I didn’t have to explain about why we let our kid watch The Walking Dead or his sense of humor or have any other awkward conversations about guns or gore. When you excel at academics and keep up social graces subversive expression is really quite charming.
It’s a lesson I learned in school and a lesson I’m glad to see the Spy is learning as well.
As the squash vines die back and the tomatoes slow down; the marigolds take over…
Both the leaves and blooms of pineapple sage are edible.
I think I actually chose those pepper seeds because of the ridiculously long name haha. Baby loves to eat these plain. They are crunchy and sweet and do not get bitter as sweet bell peppers often do in our garden. They will turn yellow if allowed to ripen further, but taste great green as well. Here is the description of the…
Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szente Sweet Pepper…
One of the truly great Hungarian peppers. Yellow, flat, ribbed, pumpkin-shaped fruit have the tremendous flavor that peppers from Hungary are famous for. The flesh is very thick, crisp and juicy. This rare variety was collected at a farmers’ market in Matrafured, Hungary, but developed at Szentes, Hungary. A winning variety. (description from rareseeds.com)
Another favorite of mine in the garden right now is the…
This awesome plant (about six feet tall and gloriously fragrant) started off from a little seedling purchased at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s herb show this past spring. That link is for all you southern hemisphere-ers enjoying spring now!
Lots and lots of rain here in St. Louis this past week!
Really looking forward to the next clear fall day to get some proper shots of the garden with good lighting. The marigolds have exploded and the backdrop of the changing leaves will be gorgeous when the sun comes out! For now, just a few soggy shots.
All of our garlic has been hanging in the breezeway by our back door (outside). I pull off heads as I need them for cooking. Leaving them outside hasn’t been a problem until now. They are a bit damp; as soon as it dries out I am going to get planting and save another bunch (indoors!) for use through the winter. Each garlic clove planed now will grow into a whole head of garlic by next spring/early summer. Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow and great for repelling pests in the garden.
First, I suppose I have to explain why we allow our son (he’s nine) to watch The Walking Dead (it’s a zombie television show). Our philosophy is that we can overlook a little (ok I know it’s more than a little) gore and violence. We make him shut his eyes and cover his ears (and sometimes leave the room) during any…um… “kissing” scenes (i.e. Shane and Laurie, Glenn and Maggie)…For the record he doesn’t own or play any video games (violent or otherwise). And doesn’t care too. Which I think is pretty wonderful. So watching The Walking Dead is one of very few (somewhat questionable) guilty pleasures in which he indulges. And in the wise words of Cher Horowitz, “Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there’s no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value.” HAHAHAHahaha
So about The Walking Dead…
The show is story-driven, not character-driven. Most of the characters are very annoying and make the worst decisions and brood around talking about their feelings, when they ought to be focusing on a perpetual water supply or planting a garden. And…
Are there no jokes in a zombie apocalypse?
Humor is vital in distressing times and the show is seriously lacking in punch lines. Despite these shortcomings, we just love to talk about what we would do in a zombie apocalypse and the show inspires these conversations.
There is something exciting about fighting against pure evil. A war against zombies eliminates all the tricky moral questions of real-life war. I think the appeal of killing zombies is that it is symbolic of destroying what is evil in the world, and ONLY the evil. When a zombie is shot, there is no question of, “Could he have been redeemed? Did the zombie leave behind a family? Friends? There is only the living and the (walking) dead. In non-apocalypse world, evil is so much more complex. All people do evil things in some capacity. Gossiping, judging, vanity…no one is innocent. But even the most horrific murderers could be redeemed (perhaps still punished for life, but forgiven in the eyes of God), at least I like to think so. I’d like to destroy all the corruption in the world, but is the expense of taking a life too high a price for the destruction of evil? A war with zombies is infinitely more simple than a war between the living.
The “Spy” (our son) likes the idea of destroying zombies. And I don’t find this disturbing, because the bullets and weapons are directed at something that is unquestionably vile, wicked and bad. The complexity of the human condition is entirely removed when a person “turns”.
If my kid was drawing pictures of tanks running over puppies, I would be concerned. But killing zombies? It’s basically being passionate about protecting what is good (life) through destroying what is bad (evil/death).
Once, after watching a couple of episodes (there’s often a marathon going on with all the old episodes) I was tucking him in and I asked “What is the main thing you’d want to do in a zombie apocalypse?” He replied,
“Find a ’71 Dodge Charger and just drive really fast down an open road.”
Me, “And that’s all?”
Him, “Well, it might be kind of hard to find a ’71 Dodge Charger, so a newer model Dodge Challenger would work. Or a Chevy Camero or a Ford Mustang. If I couldn’t find any older models. And I’d want to shoot zombies. It sounds evil, shooting zombies and stealing cars, but it’s a zombie apocalypse.”
As you can see, the boy driving this “Dodge Charger Zomby Killer” looks perfectly well-adjusted:
So anyways, though I can’t entirely relate to the enthusiasm the boys (my son and husband) feel about using zombies for target practice, I am drawn to other skills you would need in an apocalypse. Sewing, knitting, crocheting. Building a cozy fire. Cooking. Gardening. Though the world in a zombie apocalypse would make obtaining the basic needs for life more complicated, the focus would be entirely on those basic needs, and therefore simpler in some ways. Simple may not be the right word, just that our fundamental needs would get the attention they deserve. I deeply appreciate the simple things in life. Potable water, a fresh lemon, a hot cup of black coffee. It is important not to romanticize the notion of an apocalyptic world, because many people on this earth might as well be living in one. Pillaging and chaos and war and genocide and famines. The evils of such communities are very real and infinitely more complex than a world where zombies simply need to be destroyed. But I digress…
There would be a garden.
There would be weapons and stock piles of ammunition. But the garden…It would be a big garden. Chickens. Maybe some sheep. A cow? A few horses? In many ways, our ideal operation in a zombie apocalypse is pretty much my dream in real life (just sans walkers). Though in zombie-world there would be a bit more pressure for the garden to be productive and not just a pretty subject for me to photograph.
The season premiere of The Walking Dead is tonight on amc.
I’ll be watching to see if they plant anything.*
*This was originally published just before the season four premiere aired in fall 2013; and the first scene of the season WAS OF A GARDEN!!! Man, I really called that one; right?! This post has been republished for your enjoyment; as the season five premiere is tonight! So, once again, I’ll be looking to see what veggies they are growing. But I have a feeling those scary people in “Terminus” are no vegans.
Baby is Hamlet.
Puppy is the First Clown.
And I’ll be playing the part of Horatio.
ACT V, Scene 1. A Churchyard.
A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade,
For and a shrouding sheet:
O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
[Throws up another skull]
There’s another: why may not that be the skull of a
lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets,
his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?
now to knock him about the
sconce with a dirty shovel,
and will not tell him of
his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be
in’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes,
his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,
will his vouchers vouch him
no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than
the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The
very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in
Not a jot more, my lord.
* * *
And truly our earthly life’s worth is nothing more than fine dirt. Perhaps if Hamlet were a gardener, he would not be so conflicted on the worth of a man, ha? For fine dirt is good enough for me!
*this post was originally published in October 2013
October is my favorite month of the year. I just love the brisk cool of fall, how the shadows get deeper and the sunlight and the leaves turn gold. The spooky sound of a blustery breeze blowing through corn stalks thrills me. I love October so much that I’ve become excessively poetic; in only three sentences.
October in Missouri is chock-full of possibilities for fall fun…Pickle some yard-long beans to look like spooky, pickled snakes (or worms)? Or hunt for paw paws and then see what they taste like (I’ve heard a cross between a banana and a mango)? Baby’s school served homemade paw-paw ice cream last week (I missed out on a taste)! I found a paw-paw tree near Wildhorse Creek but haven’t gotten the chance to actually harvest any; maybe next year?! We could prepare something with the pounds (and pounds!) of persimmons falling from trees in our yard? Hunt for edible mushrooms? Visit Owls and Orchids at the Butterfly House or Spirits in the Garden Friday nights at the Missouri Botanical Garden? Apple picking at Eckerts? Celebrate the 100th year of Rombach’s Farm? Cheering on the Cards in the playoffs (WOOooo!!!) is a no-brainer!….How about visit to Hermann’s Oktoberfest? A haunted tour of Lemp Mansion? A walk down zombie road? Or how about…
The xrays weren’t exactly in the name of October fun; Spy Sister got in a car wreck a few weeks ago and broke her nose! OWWWww!! Not to worry, she is fine.
You might think that I like Halloween so much, surely the kids would need new costumes every year? Not so! I love the tradition of using our homemade Halloween costumes more than once. How many uses can we get out of the pumpkin?
The pumpkin is just some orange fabric circles with an old towel sewed in between the layers (toastier and sturdier!) and then black fabric sewed on for the face.
Baby will likely wear this pumpkin one last time this year. And maybe next year she will fit in to…
The skeleton? When it is too small to be worn, I think I will hang it up and use it as decoration! I painted it on a pair of black sweats; using acrylic paint and outlining each bone with white puffy paint. The back is also painted. I used illustrations from an anatomy and physiology textbook as a guide.
For the Spy this year (and the past several years), he opts for my husband’s old Marine Corps gear…
I am a big fan of…
As an art history major (in 2005) I actually wrote a 30, yes THIRTY, page paper on the Picasso painting above. I don’t recall a single point I made in the paper but apparently the still life has been engraved in my mind, as I always recreate a version of it in my Halloween decor! So just remember, you need a skull in case you need to jazz up your still life!
I also love making eyeballs out of radishes and green olives…
These radish eyes are also great to add to veggie trays!
We have almost always followed the rule of; thou shalt only wear homemade Halloween costumes.
There are many wineries in our area. Prior to the Civil War, Missouri produced the most wine of any US state. There are two winery regions in our area: Augusta and Hermann. We have visited Hermann several times…
But I had never visited the Augusta region. So Spy Sister and I checked it out this past weekend and took Baby to a blustery fall lunch at…
We enjoyed our view, the lunch, live music and…
The Augusta region was nationally known for its wine during the 19th century, but Prohibition halted the state’s winemaking for decades. Then, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a few pioneering souls began to refurbish the old vineyards and winery buildings.
One of these pioneers was Clayton Byers, who founded Montelle Vineyards in 1970. The winery was later purchased in 1998 by present owner and wine maker Tony Kooyumjian.
The secret to our success in producing outstanding wines is our vineyards. The Augusta area was chosen as the first viticultural area in the United States because of our unique soils, microclimate, and history, and it is our mission to produce wines that exemplify the uniqueness of this eleven square mile area.
Our philosophy is to farm our vineyards with a respect for the land and the environment. As a result, our wines are fresh, fragrant, focused, and well balanced, but most of all, express the uniqueness of our vineyards. It is this attention to detail that has enabled us to produce wines that are continuously recognized for their uniqueness and superior quality…We also aspire to reveal the pleasures of pairing fine wine and food. Therefore, our Klondike Café offers fresh, high quality cuisine to complement our wines. Choose from a wide selection of gourmet wraps, salads, sandwiches and pizzas to be enjoyed on our vast deck, where it is easy to lose yourself in a magnificent view of the Missouri River Valley.
The next time you have a meeting, event or just a weekend outing to plan, please keep “Missouri’s most scenic winery” in mind. (text and picture below from Montelle’s website)
It is a great time of year to visit Missouri’s many wineries. If you can’t make it, how about just reading the Bible? Might sound like a stretch, but I just had to share these…
Vineyards are mentioned throughout the old and new testament. Matthew chapter 20 (verses 1-16) is a parable (involving laborers in a vineyard) that invites a great discussion of notions of what is “fair” (temporally and spiritually). And in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible…
“Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.” Noah 9:20
And Noah lived to be 950 years old. Just saying! Soil, gardening, vineyards; these are good things. Spy Garden DEFINITELY needs its own little vineyard someday!
The Spy had a great birthday; he pitched at the second to last little league game of the fall ball season,
And he and his friend enjoyed playing in the yard for the afternoon.
This big pumpkin had started to rot. It didn’t look like it would make it to Halloween and so…
We didn’t grow this dragonfruit; I got it at the grocery. The flesh is NEON magenta with little black seeds. It tastes sort of like a bland watermelon. The looks are definitely more exciting than the flavor.
Beyond the garden…