Me Too, Brave

If you spend any time on social media you’ve most certainly heard of Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment, and the hashtag #metoo. Some of you may feel like you’ve heard enough. Many of us have HAD ENOUGH.

My own #metoo.

I’ve experienced multiple instances. I think most women have to varying degrees. Some we may forget. Some we don’t. I have a pretty good memory. So here’s the first instance that I can clearly remember.

I was about six years old. A strange man tried to get me in his car. As I’m pretty sure he wasn’t enticing me to a game of hopscotch, I’ll venture to guess what might have happened if I actually got in the car.

Teachers and parents warned us kids many times — don’t take candy from strangers and don’t take rides from strangers. We’d seen filmstrips even! This man did not offer me any candy. I was confused. If there was no candy did that mean he was okay? He didn’t fit the mold of child abductor or even seem strange, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to do … except to not get in the car.

Thinking back, what he said to me was clear manipulation. And harassers manipulate. He told me that he knew my dad and that my dad had asked him to give me a ride home that day. (I think he even knew his name.) He told me that my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. Fucker.

I stood staring at the man. I didn’t want to make my dad mad at me. This man looked like any upstanding man or dad in our neighborhood. He was dressed in a suit and drove a nice, four-door sedan.

I didn’t always walk home alone, but I’d stayed at school a little later that day. Having a ride home would be nice. Did my dad know that I was walking alone and send a ride for me?

I froze — neither getting in the car nor running. That small bit of doubt in my head was holding me in place. If the man was telling the truth, then my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. I was always told to tell the truth. I assumed most people told the truth. But I was also faced with all those warnings, “Don’t take a ride from a stranger.” I didn’t know this man.

I stood on the sidewalk several feet away from the car. The man had the passenger-side door open, and he sat in the driver seat. To get me in the car he would have had to have gotten out and grabbed me.

He finally gave up and left saying, “your parents told you not to take rides from strangers, didn’t they?” And I nodded. He told me I was a good girl for listening. (Did that make me bad if I had gotten in the car?)

I walked home as quickly as possible. It stuck with me that being alone made me an easy target.

I wasn’t sure if I should bring it up with my parents. But I actually doubted myself for not getting in the car. Would my dad be mad? I quietly, nonchalantly asked my mom if Dad had sent somebody to give me a ride. She said, “no.”

Afterward, I kept trying to forget. I mean, really, actively trying to get it out of my head because while nothing bad actually happened, the event made me feel creepy and bad. So I’d forget for a while. And then I’d remember again. And sometimes, I was mad at myself for not running away — right away.

And no, that wouldn’t be the last time some man made me feel like that — made me feel bad — not because of something I did but because of something bad they did or tried to do.

Ronan Farrow broke the story about Harvey Weinstein in an article in The New Yorker. Brave job, Ronan Farrow!

When all those women that Harvey Weinstein harassed or raped had a hard time coming forward. I could relate. At six years old, I promise I was not wearing sexy or provocative clothes. So when women are asked what they did to provoke an attack, I have no reason to believe that the women did anything other than be female. Yet when so many of them doubted themselves … wondered if they had done anything wrong to bring it on themselves … I can relate. Those women are brave!

How is it that society has allowed these actions to continue?  How can the Harvey Weinsteins of the world not realize that what they are doing, what they have done, is so wrong? Just because a man is sexually attracted to a women, does not mean that she wants to attract him or have anything sexual to do with him. And manipulating women into those actions through candy, power, or threats is wrong.

Woody Allen called the situation “sad.” He spoke even more words to say, “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”

How can the Woody Allens of the world worry about a “witch hunt” over the physical safety of women and children?

Witch hunt. Let those words sink in. Instead of saying, “Mr. Weinstein did bad things.” And that maybe people shouldn’t do bad things. Allen brings up images of … of … witches. When many people think of witches, they think of women who practice evil. Nice to know what’s on your mind, Mr. Allen.

The Salem Witch Trials — where women were falsely accused of evil that resulted in trials that lead to the deaths of innocent women, men, and children … and Woody Allen worries that winking might get men into trouble because of the Harvey Weinstein situation —  Harvey Weinstein, a man who is not innocent, has admitted guilt, and is guilty of some pretty nasty things. Maybe Mr. Allen should blame Harvey Weinstein for any negative fallout from Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Instead Mr. Allen seems mad about the publicity and article.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t nice, good men out there. Thank god! There are nice men! Men who know boundaries. Men who can find a woman attractive, but who don’t assume that their own attraction automatically gives them license to touch or force women into actions. 

Trust me. Most of us women know when a wink is just a wink. (And really, maybe, winks are best left out of the workplace anyway.)

If you aren’t sure how to act in a way that will ensure that you don’t get accused of sexual harassment, then you might be interested in The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Don’t Want To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment. Feel free to share it. The Rock himself even endorsed it on Twitter. (Makes me kind of love the 3D, 7-11, souvenir Slurpee cup featuring The Rock that I’ve been using to water some of my plants.)

Women don’t want the nice stuff to go away! We even like sexy stuff too (under the right circumstances). But if a person must be coerced into something sexual that they don’t want to do, then that person is being sexually harassed or worse. We will usually be happy to tell you if we do or don’t like something. Amazingly, we have brains, and we’re interactive too.

Unfortunately, sexual predators are a lot like terrorists. Most people are not terrorists. Most people don’t want to hurt others. But it only takes that one terrorist to cause a lot of damage to many people. One of the biggest problems with sexual predators is that people don’t seem to like to bring the instances to light. Women who do are often more punished than the man who commented the act. 

Brave women and men who come forward to clear away the terror and stop predators are heroes.

 #metoo

Aside from sharing actual experiences and opinions, this was also written as a response to the WordPress: Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, Brave.

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May the 4th be with you!

Somewhere … sometime … a long time ago … in a galaxy we’re in right now, somebody noticed that, “May the 4th,” sounded a lot like, “May the force,” and thus Star Wars day was born. So may the 4th be with you … always!

I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog. We’ve been busy. Sometimes super busy! And it meant that I had to lighten up on something or I’d just fall down exhausted and become a blob. Actually, I did become a blob and exhausted, so I guess I should say that I would have been a worse blob. So the blog got lightly set aside. Sorry, blog. Sorry, WordPress.

I’ll do some catch up in the coming days and weeks … things we’ve been doing … are doing now … and stuff that may be yet to come. Subjects covered with include Science, Robotics, Apatite, Salad Surprise, Dance, Balcony Gardening (Herbs and Plants that Survived the Winter), and more!

I hope you enjoyed the rainbow I posted on May 2. The photo was actually taken on May 1. Rainbows may be a little cliché in some ways, but they are still so amazing when they show up in all their spectacular glory. It was a really impressive start to May.

May the 4th be with you, and may it be a good one!

Oh Look, 2017!

It is 2017. I’m going to have to get used to that. 2016 is gone.

For part of my job, I work with text that will be sent out a month or two in the future. (Sometimes more than that.) As a result I’ve been using the numbers “2017” for a few months now. But having the actual year here is something else. It’s supposed to be 2017 in the future, not now. But it is now.

Since it’s the future, are we supposed to have flying cars and hover boards? We have “hover boards,” but they don’t actually hover. And cars may fly down the highway, but we sure don’t have flying cars. In fact, car technology hasn’t changed much in decades. Look at computers and phones. Big changes. Cars not so much. There are better computers in cars now, though, so I guess that’s something.

The holidays were busy here, and then just in time for Christmas I got sick. I’m not sure if it was a cold or the flu, but I had a fever one of the days so, maybe flu? I felt completely yucky.

I planned to blog and do many other things, but then all of a sudden I felt like doing absolutely nothing but sleeping and occasionally groaning about how terrible I felt. I felt bad for my family as plans got changed, and I became less fun and more blobby and possibly smelly too.

I’m feeling better now which is a good thing for all of us, I’m just a little bummed because it’s already 2017 and there were things I wanted to get done in 2016 that are still undone. 2016 is gone. I kind of want a do-over, but no not really. New year. New goals.

But a recap of the last bits of 2016:

We got a cute, fresh-cut tree. No artificial tree for us this year. But I nearly threw our beautiful little tree off the balcony as I tried to saw a bit off the trunk to keep it fresher. It was a challenge. I don’t think I used the right tool for the job. I tried to use a tiny saw that’s supposed to be used for PVC plumbing pipes. I should have asked for help, but at that point I was determined. I would not let that tree defeat me. I would do it myself. I finally got the job done, then asked Dave and Sara to help me get the tree into the tree stand. (I was short on patience at that point, and our metal tree stand is kind of a pain.) We got it all done, and we love our tree.

Tree trunk

Tree

I caught our squash-eating, balcony-visiting squirrel actually on our balcony. He’s a chubby little (not so little) critter. His girth is no surprise after all the pumpkin he ate.

After spotting me, Mr. Squirrel fled to the nearby tree which allowed me to see how exactly he’d been getting on the balcony in the first place. He was using one of the thin branches as a sort of bridge from the larger tree branches to our balcony railing.

So I trimmed that skinny little branch off the tree. (The saw was handy from the Christmas tree.)

Chubby Mr. Squirrel post-escape.

Now, I feel a little bad about sawing off Mr. Squirrel’s bridge. I hope he doesn’t run across it like it’s still in tact and then meet with an unfortunate accident when the former bridge ends before it gets to our balcony. I didn’t want to hurt him, just discourage his marauding… I’m going to assume he’s okay. Squirrels are smart, right?

For the first year since she was two years old, my daughter did not sit with Santa at the mall and get her photo taken. I’m a little sad about this. That little girl is gone. She’s a teenager now, so I can understand it’s probably not cool to do the Santa thing these days (especially since it ended up on TV last year).

Plus, I swear they gouge us more for photos every year. This year there’s a single package deal, and it costs $40 dollars. This seems excessive especially when I’d practically have to force my daughter to sit on a strange man’s lap to get the photos taken.  (Oh. That sounds bad. And, yes, she could have sat on the chair next to him. We did that one or two of the years.)

Anyway, it is still tradition and Santa. So in order to make myself feel better about the end of this chapter of our life for now, I took us to the mall to look at Santa. (That way my daughter could still change her mind too.)

When we got there Santa was on dinner break. So we shopped a little (or tried to) and then stood around waiting for Santa to get back. We were like Santa groupies waiting by the entrance. (Maybe not so much “we” as me.)

I wanted to see Santa and say “hi.” After 12 years of pictures with him he should know us, right? He should know us from all the other zillions of people who visit him, right? (Okay, no.) But he’s Santa. He knows when we are sleeping. He knows when we’re awake. He knows when we are at the mall, for goodness sake?

My daughter was much more logical about it. We saw Santa. She was done.

Deep down inside I really wanted one last photo of my daughter with Santa at the mall, but I didn’t want to wait in a line or take up any of Santa’s time or pay the $40 for a small pack of photos.

So while Santa was on the first floor, I guided us to the second floor where there was a nice view of Santa. (The second floor was also handy because then Santa’s security team was much less likely to see us.) I wasn’t really sure if we were allowed to take our own photos of Santa, but that’s just what I wanted. It seemed to solve a couple of problems, so I went for it.

I was able to take a photo of each of us with Santa in the background. Santa didn’t know I was taking a photo of him with us. (Or did he?). Does this seal my fate as a Santa groupie or worse yet, a Santa stalker?

To be fair, Santa is so far away in the photos that we can barely get away with saying it’s a photo of us with Santa. He’s tiny. He’s like the size of an earring. Here I am with my earring-sized Santa in the background. I will not further embarrass my daughter by posting the photo of her. She’s sweet for putting up with me.

Me and tiny Santa.

So next year, maybe we’ll just cut to the chase and take photos of ourselves wearing actual Santa earrings. That’s probably a better idea. I’m sure security won’t mind. I’m pretty sure my daughter will like this plan a lot better too.

Also at the mall, we spotted this lovely ensemble. I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to be. Are real women supposed to wear this? Women who have cold hands? Women who want to hatch ostrich eggs in their pockets? The greens behind her head just add to the strangeness. Hopefully, this is one of the things that will be left behind as we move forward into 2017.

Mystery outfit with small child hovering in the background (top right). Huh, maybe we do have hover boards now.

Just before the new year, we went to see Rogue One, the new Star Wars movie. In the past, I’ve often been one of those midnight/opening night moviegoers for Star Wars movies, so waiting was foreign to me.

Since we already waited to see the movie, we aimed for the early showing, so we could get a discount rate. We showed up on time and everything.

Then we waited and waited for the movie to start. Finally, about a half hour after the movie should have started, a theater employee told us that they wouldn’t be able to show our movie that morning. So then we had to wait at the service desk to get refunds or tickets to another showing that same day. It could have been sucky, but …

We really wanted to see the movie that morning if at all possible. We’d already purchased popcorn and the overpriced-oversized beverage to match.

It ended up working out well because we got tickets to the very next showing which happened to be 3D. And on top of it, we got free passes to an additional movie for our trouble. I can’t complain about how that worked out.

We even liked the movie! There are some fun nods to other Star Wars movies (blue milk, Obi-Wan, and more). It shed a new light on Star Wars: A New Hope. It was a tiny bit long, but overall moved along well, and all three of us enjoyed it.

I’m hoping for more experiences like this in 2017 — movies, time with family, blogging, writing, and so much more. (Maybe less Santa.)

Have a happy 2017!

 

I’ll also add that this can be for WordPress, Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Gone.

 

And copyright 2017 Deb L Kapke.

So Long, 2016, And All that You Took

You were here and then you weren’t. I could say that about the year and a lot of other things — quite a few celebrities died plus our Mojo kitty and our hamster, Prarrie Dog, who passed several months ago too.

We miss our kitty dearly. He had the best character arc ever (especially for a cat). I think about his cuddle-bug personality daily.

David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, Ron Glass, Florence Henderson, Alan Thicke, John Glenn, George Micheal, and more. All gone. Perhaps this year seemed so harsh because I knew who all of these people were, and I was used to having them around. They were popular for my generation. Plus so many of them weren’t even old. It seems unfair.

Carrie Fisher is the celebrity death that hit me the hardest. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passing the next day only upped the sadness. What heartbreak for the family and all their friends.

I first loved Carrie Fisher in Star Wars, a movie that came out when I was nine years old and blew me away. It made me a different person. I could probably date my life “b.SW” and “a.SW”. Or maybe BS and AS. Anyway, it sparked my love of science fiction (though some may debate calling it science fiction) and my love of (most) things Star Wars that would follow. 

I had seen Star Trek before Star Wars, but Star Wars prompted me to watch Star Trek again. I was hungry for adventure and outer space. Star Wars ignited the hunger.

Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia was a strong woman, a leader, who could save the guys as much as they saved her. (Somebody had to get them into that garbage chute. You can’t just shoot all the stormtroopers.) She was the original self-rescuing Princess. If there were others before her, I don’t remember them. She’s the one that mattered to me. 

Carrie Fisher kept up that theme throughout her life. She became so much more than just Princess Leia. From her honesty about mental illnesses to her insanely funny interviews to her witty and amazing writing… 

And I really mean amazing. She wasn’t just some celebrity who decided to write a book and isn’t that cute. Her writing was awesome — funny and compelling. And it was more than just books. Carrie Fisher was a script doctor, a person the studios could call in to rescue lackluster scripts for movies and such. She knew her craft. 

She kept at it and excelled. 

She melded with Princess Leia in ways that made her own the character and allowed Princess Leia to become part of who Carrie Fisher was too. She was more than the sum of her parts.

And then she was no more. She will be missed. 

2016, I’m sure I will miss parts of you too. Other parts not so much.

May those of us who made it through, have a rich and wonderful 2017 filled with love and laughter, joy and peace. May we rise to the challenge.

Copyright Deb L. Kapke 

So Long November

It’s rainy this last day of November 2016. We needed it. 

A lot happened in November. Some of which is good, some bad, and some I’m just not sure what to make of. One thing is for sure, Novembers seem to go by more quickly each year. I feel like we should be only halfway through.

I did a pretty good job of writing consistently — some for NaNoWriMo, some for NaBloPoMo which is what this post of part of. I got more than 30 posts for November in wildly variable lengths and quality. But that’s better than this time last year.

And that’s a wrap. Time!

NaBloPoMo November 2016

Size Matters: Notes from the Balcony Garden III

In my balcony garden I’ve established that you’ll have better results if you use larger containers. It’s a good idea to use plants that won’t grow too large too (though you can sometimes break that rule). And full sunlight is best for most edible plants, but a few tolerate some shade.

Tomatoes and peppers especially need lots of soil and sun. 

Greens might be a little forgiving with some filtered sunlight. They’ll perform better — grow larger with larger leaves — in larger pots, but some will survive in less-than-ideal containers. Swiss Chard is nutritious and pretty easy to grow.

I tried some lettuce and arugula this year. I only planted a little because I wasn’t sure how it would grow in a container garden on my balcony.

LettuceLittle Gem. I think I meant to grow more than one lettuce and then didn’t. Little Gem is a small variety of romaine. It had a mild taste that would work well with any kind of lettuce mix. I let it get some shade. It may have thrived better with full sun and with more room too. Even with a little shade it still bolted in the heat of summer though not as quickly as my Japanese Giant Red Mustard plants. I should probably have started the lettuce seeds earlier in the season. 

Arugula – I planted two types of arugula. I love that taste of arugula so I was happy that it grew for so long. It seemed to be okay with a little shade too.

One type was, Arugula Rocket Salad (Roquette) which has nice peppery leaves that look a lot like the arugula I might buy in a grocery store. I love the taste of arugula. These grew larger than the other variety. So I guess that’s good. It resisted bolting for a while. I think it started to bold, but has slowed down now. It’s still growing a few small and tasty leaves. 

The other, Arugula Wild Rocky Organic (at least the seeds started organic and I mostly grew the plants that way). This is a fast growing arugula with a strong flavor that I happen to really enjoy. The leaves grew smaller and finer than the other variety. This made the plant look almost frilly or lacy. It adds pretty texture in a salad with other greens. It grew similarly to the other arugula as far as growth and bolting, but more of this variety bolted. But I’m still getting a few small leaves. 

Overall for container gardening I’m not sure the lettuce was worth the fuss. Space is at a premium. I may try it again though because I love the idea of walking out and picking a salad or a few leaves for sandwiches. If I do, I really need to plant earlier.

I love the taste of arugula, so I enjoyed picking a leaf or two for snacking as I did other gardening. I didn’t grow enough to make whole salads for the family, but it was enough for a few leaves added to mixed salads. Since it grew for longer, it was enjoyable to have in my balcony garden. (And it’s not dead yet.)

Arugula – two varieties Rocket Salad (left) and Wild Rocky (right). Picked this morning.

Next I’ll cover herbs.

(Corrected the caption since I had my right and left backwards. You’d think I’d have mastered that by my age. Oops.)
This post is also for NaBloPoMo.

NaBloPoMo November 2016

Calling Wildfire in Gatlinburg

Firefighters are struggling to put out wildfires in Gatlinburg and Sevier County, Tennessee tonight. High winds may return overnight after a calmer day. Sevier County includes the popular Great Smoky Mountains tourist spots Pidgeon Forge and Dollywood. 

The fires may have started last week. But a mix of dry weather and extreme winds last night spread flames so quickly that many residents and tourists had little to no warning before buildings began to burn.

I spent my teen years near Nashville, Tennessee. Like so many area families, my family spent many long weekends in and around Gatlinberg. It was always a beautiful area. 

In August of this year I drove through to my High School reunion and stopped for a wee bit in Sevierville. 

It’s hard to see videos and pictures that show so much of the beloved vacation spot in flames or blackened. 

My heart hurts for all the families who had to leave their homes with no time to save more than themselves and the clothes on their backs. Many of them had to leave pets and animals behind. 14,000 people were evacuated.

I’ve always told my daughter that if we ever had to evacuate our building due to fire, we may have to leave the kitties behind. Not that I would want to, but I’d want my daughter to get out in an emergency. I hope I could always make the right choice myself, but can’t say for sure what I would do. (I’d want enough time to save our kitty.) So my heart just breaks for all those families who had to make such difficult choices.

And I’m especially sad for those who have lost their life, are injured, or lost a family member. Right now only three fatalities have been reported. I hope that’s it.

I know it might be cliche to say, “thoughts and prayers,” but sometimes thoughts and prayers are all we can do. I’ll send a lot of them to Tennessee. I’m sure there will be more in the coming days.
— update —

Fixed the spelling in my post. Sorry about that. 

Also note that I read reports yesterday of the fire starting last week (November 23) in the Chimney Tops area and then spreading explosively on Monday into Tuesday. Other reports say the fire started on Monday. Certainly addition spot fires started on Monday as the hurricane force winds sent flames and sparks flying into dry brush and trees. Addition fires may also have started from downed power lines. I’m sure investigators will reveal more information in the weeks to come. 

Many prayers to all involved. 

Consider donations to the local Red Cross, rescue and emergency organizations, and area animal shelters. Folks in the general vicinity may make immediate donations of clothing and supplies. 

This post is also for NaBloPoMo.

Genetic Creamer

In other strangeness, I noticed these words on our coffee creamer today, “PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGENIEERING.”

I like pumpkin-spice flavored coffee creamers this time of year, but they are leaving stores in favor of winter holiday flavors like peppermint mocha. 

I saw Limited Edition Amaretto and thought it might be worth a try. I didn’t look closely at the label until this evening. I was curious if the Almond flavor was “natural” or artificial. It is both. And Genetically Engineered too apparently. 

Now I’m curious as to which ingredient or ingredients are genetically engineered. I would not have thought that genetic engineering was necessary in a coffee creamer. Though I’m not sure what I expected. Most flavored coffee creamers never really promised to be all-natural and from the earth (although it’s not exactly from Mars either).

I always think of products (especially fruits and vegetables) as being GMO or not GMO, so maybe this is the label for that? I guess I’m glad they let us know… I don’t think I mind. (But I’m still thinking about it.) So are the almonds genetically engineered?

Maybe I should just pick up a carton of actual cream next time. Or have tea and no cream. Or just enjoy this tasty, genetically-engineered coffee creamer and not worry about it. 

I wonder if actual Amaretto is genetically engineered these days too.

 

Produced with genetic engineering and a really cute coffee-cup shaped barcode.

This post is also for NaBloPoMo.

General Updates

We’re still sad about our kitty. Sadness comes and goes in waves. 

Since Fidel Castro and Ron Glass passed in the same week, it makes me wonder if there isn’t something brewing in the universe. At least I can always remember what year our furry friend passed. 

If our kitties each had a superpower, Fletcher’s would be his friendly, chilled-out attitude towards everything and Mojo’s would have been his love of cuddling and getting petted. He aggressively sought kitty strokes. He’d even meow at us to sit down and pet him. 

Dave reminded me that twelve years ago I never would have claimed that Mojo liked to cuddle. He changed a lot over the years (so did I). We’ll continue to miss his cuddle especially as we get back into our everyday routine after the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Awesome friends sent us an Edible Arrangements bouquet in honor of Mojo. It was a super nice surprise and helped improve the overall mood at home.

Our other cat is taking it all okay. He didn’t mind one bit that Fidel Castro died. I think he’d have liked Ron Glass though. And he seems down about losing his buddy Mojo. 

Normally the kitties go through playful times. There’s lots of pouncing and chasing each other (and imaginary critters) as they tear around the living room. But Fletcher hasn’t done that in a few days, so I think it sunk in that his friend isn’t coming back. 

Fletcher is getting lots of extra kitty strokes and cuddling and treats and hugs. Hopefully, we’re helping him cope as he’s helping us cope. Mojo was our friend and his for over 16 years.

Between vet trips and mini-Thanksgiving trips and unexpected crying, last week was a busy one. I think I accidentally missed a day for NaBloPoMo and didn’t write anything for NaNoWriMo for a few of the days. Just when I’d expected to have some extra time for writing. Poof! I could not keep my eyes open. Gah. But life happens. 

I had a few technical issues with posting from mobile devices. A few posts I thought I’d posted before midnight showed up as after midnight (so had the next day’s date). That may have happened when I made edits. And I think at least once, my mobile device wasn’t connecting so it saved a post locally but didn’t post it live when I though it did.

I’ll try for an extra post or two today and tomorrow.

I have no idea how many total words I have for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been writing on different devices, so I need to consolidate and add it all up (then feed it into the machine to make it official). I definitely won’t be at 50,000 words, but that’s okay. I still wrote lots of days. I know I did better than last year. And I made some progress with the story. So that’s good.

I had a mini-cleaning frenzy in my kitchen. I think that’s a good thing.

Thanksgiving foods were all extra yummy, and it was nice to spend time with family and relax some too. No matter what else, we still had a lot to be thankful for this week. And I’m enjoying the leftovers.

Size Matters: Notes from the Balcony Garden II

In my previous notes on balcony gardening (here), size matters in container gardening which is pretty much the only way to garden if you want to grow stuff and don’t have a yard or land. Container gardening is also helpful if you have a yard but poor soil or no sunny spots where you do have soil. 

Containers allow you to put your plants in the sun on a patio, balcony, deck, or front porch or even move them (within reason). You can extend the growing season by bring cold-sensitive plants indoors for the first couple of hard frosts.

Along with craving large containers full of soil, some plants are hungry for sunlight. Sun is especially important for tomatoes and peppers. Most edible plants need full sun. But there are a few plants that don’t mind a little shade. 

Greens and some herbs can be a little forgiving if they don’t get all-day sunlight. I usually put the tomato and pepper plants where they will get the most sun, then let the other plants fend for themselves with the scraps of sunlight that fall elsewhere.

I tried two kinds of greens this year along with some lettuce and arugula. I didn’t grow tons of any of them. This year was mostly an experiment to see what will grow and what we’ll enjoy.

Greens

Japanese Giant Red Mustard – This is a variety of mustard plant with a reddish tinge on the large green leaves. It’s pretty. One pot looked more like a decorative plant then an edible. The flavor has a spicy mustard kick which I enjoyed. Leaves can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches or cooked like Southern greens (which will mellow out that kick). 

These seemed to want larger pots. While they want good light, they will bolt in heat. So strong, hot sunlight can make them bolt faster. Bolting is when a plant sends out a flowering stem that will go to seed. Too little sun and they won’t flourish. But a bit of shade from a tomato plant, for example, can stretch the growing season. Once Mustard goes to seed the leafy parts stop growing and get bitter. But the seeds can be used for seasoning or grinding into mustard paste or powder. 

I might have liked Japanese Giant Red Mustard more if they grew well for longer. They were fine through most of spring but were done by late spring and early summer. On the upside some of the seeds self-planted and are now growing in one of the nearby tomato pots. I’ll see how they do. They aren’t very big yet, so they may not get big enough by the time cold weather kills them. 

Swiss Chard – Bright Lights Variety – This is a variety of Swiss Chard that comes in different color variations. Red, yellow, white, and purple stems have green leaves some of which can be tinged with red. Swiss Chard is in the same family as beets and generally tastes like spinach. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Once they get really big, the stems are best cooked. Or you can cut the stem out and use the leafy parts raw. 

Swiss Chard was by far the best surprise of my leafy greens experiment.

I planted these from young plants in early spring and they are still alive and didn’t bolt. They’ll grow bigger in larger containers, but I left one in the small plastic container it came in and it’s not dead yet. So these are hearty plants! (Maybe they’ll just never die.) 

I’ve purchased Swiss Chard in the grocery store, but find that it doesn’t last long in the fridge. That makes growing this nutritious plant extra nice, I just snip a few leaves for sandwiches, adding to salads, or chopping into soup or rice dishes. Plus its absolutely beautiful! 

Swiss Chard can be fairly cold tolerant (I think), so I’ll see how long it lasts with winter soon upon us.

Young Swiss Chard and a mustard plant that had already bolted by late spring.


it’s not dead yet. Swiss Chard picked today.


Additional posts will cover herbs, lettuce, and arugula.

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