Now, I’m a farmer – or at least a potential gardener

ImageI am the proud owner/renter of plot #46, a 20×30 area full of possibility at the local community garden.  Yesterday, we went by to look at our plot.  It was fairly warm day, unusual for April in New England, so I went out in flip flops – I got my feet dirty. I hadn’t realized how very soft really well tilled soil can be.  The ground around my house – where it is not actually rock, is nearly as hard as.

Today, we started at Home Depot where we got metal posts and plastic garden fencing and other accoutrement vitally necessary for community gardening. Dressed in better foot-ware we went back to trusty #46 to get started. For a place where traditionally gardeners aren’t putting anything in the ground before May 10th, if not Labor Day, there were quite a few of us out there appreciating the rare 80 degree weather.  We met our plot neighbor Mark and a a near neighbor Paul.  Both of them had great advice – scarily, everyone seems to mention weeds above everything else.Image

Following Mark’s example, I started wheelbarrowing in manure while Kipp worked on driving the metal fence things into the ground. I am still amazed that I can now say that I have personally shoveled aged manure and spread it over dirt where I am planning on growing things I will eventually put into my mouth. It just seems wrong.











Kipp was a great sport making my fence. Poor guy, every time I start something new, it’s just more work for him. Stay tuned for more adventures with Farmer Pam.


Decided to re-invent myself – yet again

I’ve got a new local cable talk show called Medfield Now.  I’m working on the format, but I’m very excited to be doing this.  It will be a weekly show highlighting  the people and activity around Medfield (MA).  It’s starting in September so it’s just about the right time to be panicking about content – right?

Today, I decided to plan out the first couple shows to make sure I’d have enough to talk about for 30 minutes or so. Are any shows planned? Well… no, of course not because I got bogged down completely on finding the perfect iPad app for producing a tv talk show to help me do this.

Guess what, there is no perfect iPad app.

So, nothing accomplished for my show today and I’m one day closer to air date… kill me now.

Grits are good food

I love grits.  I’d never had them until we moved to the south and even then I resisted trying them for several years.  I am very sad about this – grits are good.  Actually, grits are grrrrreat!

When we moved to New England I went with Bug’s second grade class to the Jenney Grist Mill in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  I had always vaguely known that grits is corn, but I didn’t know much else.  We were on the tour of the grist mill and the guide was telling us about the process.  Basically, they start pouring the corn in and the rotating stone is carefully lowered.  It has to be lowered slowly because the dust from the process is highly flammable.  If the stone is lowered too quickly and touches the pestle it can create a spark which will cause an explosion.  The first product is rough pieces of corn, which is cattle feed.  The second product is finer, but still rough, this is GRITS.  The final product is the flour.  Who knew?

Tonight we’re going to friends for a dinner party.  The husband is a great fisher and we’re going to have massive amounts of fabulous, fresh striped bass.  I’m bringing a grits souffle because people up here have never had grits and because I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like this souffle (grits, cheese, butter, what’s not to like).

Preheat the oven to 375. First, make grits per package instructions. While the grits are cooking separate 4 eggs and start whipping the whites until they are like clouds.  After grits are ready stir in 1/2 a stick of butter and about a cup of cheese (I like a mixture of sharp cheddar and parmesan – but any cheese would be great) and some freshly ground pepper. Add about 1/2 of the fluffy egg whites and stir well to really incorporate it.  Then fold in the rest of the eggs and put into an oven safe container.  Sprinkle with paprika on the top and put in the oven.   Bake about 30-45 minutes checking to see if the top looks done and slightly brown.  Serve immediately.

Dinner Conversations

At dinner last night with the family we were each telling something they had learned that day.

I’m amazed at how much has been learned since I was in school.   I’ve been listening to one of my favorite authors read his “A Short History of Nearly Everything” in the car.  I suspect this is the first of multiple listenings because there is just so much to grok there.  But, yesterday he was discussing the multiple cycles of extinctions that have occurred in history. I remember learning about the dinosaurs in school and was taught there were multiple theories as to what happened to them.  Now, it is widely accepted  that an asteroid or comet hit the earth causing widespread devastation – the Washington Post reports this March 9, 2010, so it must be true…

My eyelid is driving me crazy

My left eyelid and sometimes my right lower lid has been constantly twitching.  Actually not constantly, but twitching for 5-15 seconds several times a day.  It’s been doing this for weeks.  I’m saying at least 3 and likely more like 5 weeks.

Potential causes I’ve found from the internet:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of Sleep (although how this is different from Fatigue, I’m not sure)
  • Eye Strain
  • Lack of Potassium
  • Dehydration (due to alcohol and/or coke consumption)
  • too much caffeine
  • Tourettes, dry eyes, or other neurological issue

One eye twitching is called myokmia, on both eyes it’s called blepharospasm.  It is more common in women over 50 (even my body is dissing me – I’m not yet over 50).

In China, left eye twitching is foretells good luck. Hawaii says a stranger is coming. Other places think it’s because you’re going to cry soon. I think I like China’s version better, so I’m adopting that one as my own.

Not sure what to do, I don’t think I’m particularly stressed, but I do feel tired a lot (fatigue-check), and potentially not enough potassium since I hate bananas.  So, I’m prescribing for myself an avocado, an evening with my feet up, an early bedtime, and tea instead of wine.

Bromine anyone?

Lately it seems I spend a bunch of time learning, or in some cases re-learning, science and math. Both kids are in areas where I don’t just know the answers off the top of my head.

Bromine - 35Br

Take Bromine, for example, I’m not actually sure I’d ever heard of this element before Bug brought home the assignment to make a fun fact card and a model of it. We made a fabulous model with puff balls, floral wire and styrofoam.

Fun facts… always an interesting assignment with elements. Bromine means “stench of he-goats”.  It’s reddish brown, it’s liquid at room temperature, it’s located in the yellow column of the periodic table (at least that’s the color scheme on wikipedia – it’s a non-metal halogen), it’s distilled from sea water, evidently it’s used in pool maintenance, and.. oh yeah, it’s highly toxic.

The last fact the only one that I found remotely interesting. As always, I think how about the novel I plan to write “someday” and I am forever looking for ways to kill off the characters. Would Bromine work?

  • Plus – Looks like it’s easy to acquire at any pool supply center, making it hard to trace.
  • Plus – It’s not too terribly expensive – online I saw 50 pounds for about $150
  • Negative – it stinks, everything says it has an odor, described as overpowering
  • Plus – Although it’s very irritating, the blisters don’t form right away.
  • Negative – It’s hard to get too much exposure when you breathe it in because it’s so stinky and because it causes immediate coughing and spasms.  It says overexposure it rare because of this, but if the character was confined…
  • Neutral – Per a fatal dosage is 1000 ppm

Conclusion for me.  Since I don’t know what 1000 ppm actually means in real life, I need more research, but it sounds like a good way to kill of a character if you can restrain them in a confined place that has enough water for the bromine to react with and you’re okay for your character to suffer.

Learning a little bit all the time.

This past weekend, we were invited to a dinner party featuring the food of Peru and I was responsible for dessert.  I searched, but there do not seem to be a bunch of traditional desserts from Peru, but I decided to attempt Leche Asada (turned milk – it’s like a flan) Recipe.  The top of the dessert is caramelized sugar.  I love caramel, so I thought this was a good sign.

The first thing I learned about caramelizing is that I didn’t know how to do it.  I had to throw out the first crystalized sugar concoction.  Luckily, has a great section that teaches you all sorts of things about cooking and saved the day! Class Video.  Basically, you boil the sugar in water until the water evaporates and the mixture is the color you want – trick – do NOT stir after the sugar has evaporated…. Who knew?

The second thing I learned is that when they say don’t touch caramelized sugar because it is hot, really, DON’T touch it.  It’s hot and it stays hot for quite a while.  I have a nice blister on my finger to remind me of this lesson.

The third, and final, lesson was really a reminder.  The Aloe plant is truly amazing with taking away the pain of a burn.  I now have a great one in my kitchen – I’m sure it will come in handy since I rarely learn a recipe without also gaining a scar.

oh… I think the dessert came out correctly – however, I wasn’t a fan…