Friday, October 22, 2021

A New Kitchen Table

The saying is true: Once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler.  We taught our sons at home and it has never ended.  Whenever they return for a visit, the schooling continues.  

My style of teaching was that I considered everything but sci-fi books and video games educational. They were given a set of assignments to complete (subjects they needed but would never study voluntarily like grammar) and the rest of the time was spent exploring anything they found interesting.  At the end of the day, each one would teach their brothers and me what they had learned.

They worked all day long every day because the other choice was to join me doing housework. Their love of learning has persevered; however, a desire to clean never emerged. The world is their classroom and my worn-out kitchen table has been their workbench.

On their latest visit, Reese wanted to upgrade his computer by replacing the CPU and graphics card.

This is a CPU which is the heart of the computer.  It performs most of the calculations and he wanted more horsepower. 

He wore an Electrostatic Sensitive Device (ESD) wrist strap. The wire connected to it is grounded and conducts built-up static electricity from the wearer to ground. This protects the sensitive electronics inside the computer case from being zapped by static electricity.

Big brother Joshua offered IT assistance. 

He used the flashlight on his phone to light up the dark inside and the camera to enlarge the tiny print

Alas, it wasn't compatible and the part had to be exchanged by mail.

Over the years, my table gained scratches, scuffs, and scorches from the many science experiments and construction projects. It was time for a new central fixture in my kitchen since only two chairs were safe to sit in. Whilst they were schooling, I shopped online for something new.  I bought this one from an estate sale for only $75!  There were no fingerprints, smudges, dust, or even breadcrumbs between the leaves.  Its life will be different in my house. 

The auctioneer thought we were crazy posing for a picture with a table.

Taking it apart, loading it into our four vehicles, getting it home required teamwork; but, they were cheaper than a moving van.

I let them do all the work while testing the chairs for comfort.  

I also bought a porch swing. No yard can have too many shade trees or too many swings. Joshua and I tried it out to make sure it worked.

It too had to be disassembled and loaded. My guys were becoming a bit hot and tired. He tried to ignore me as I was weaseling him into taking the swing down.

If I can't see you Mom so you aren't there.

Joshua is the tallest, the hook in the porch ceiling was high so this chore was delegated to him.  We didn't think to bring a ladder and no way was I going to let him stand in one of my new chairs.  He improvised.

Don't worry, he's insured.

We (they) managed to bring everything home in one trip.  

It fits!

The next morning Reese initiated our new table by cooking breakfast.

Then the food was cleared, dishes were washed and my fancy new kitchen table became a workbench. The exchanged computer components were installed, Reese obtained his massive horsepower, and so far, the table is surviving well.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

September's Garden (2021)

This month we began clearing out the finished summer vegetables and planting seeds for the winter garden. Fall arrived early. The heat normally breaks around the middle of September but instead, it broke the first of this month. It has been cooler than in the past. October 15th is our first average frost date which means the peppers, beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and squash will probably die soon.

In the potato then squash patch, the Tahitian Butternut Squash has produced its crop and is winding down.

Since the squash was planted late in the season after the potatoes were mostly dug they will not be harvested until the day after the first killing frost to give them a chance to fully develop their sweet flavor. The many undug missed potatoes are now sprouting beside the squash.

No one has touched this bed since Reese and I were covered in fire ants while digging the potatoes.  Brave Bill retrieved the abandoned shovel left in the middle because I wouldn't step back inside. There are two fire ant colonies and they keep getting bigger. After the squash dies, I will deal with them somehow.

The sweet potatoes planted in horse manure inside the big blue tubs beside the potato/squash bed will be dug up (or dumped out) this month. I am looking forward to discovering if growing them in big buckets will make digging easier. 

The peppers are loaded and ready to harvest. That will be a major chore right before the first frost since I want as many to ripen as possible.

This was the tomato rows one week ago before Bill pulled the fences up.  I had given up on them producing anything before frost. Twelve inches of rain in one day was more than they could handle.

Their area will become two hoop houses. The carrots that had been planted under the left row are still growing and winter vegetable seeds have been slipped in between them.

To the left of the tomato rows were the two rows of corn. The first fence will stay up to be used again next year. It held the Black Futsu squash that had twined between the stalks.

I cut the corn stalks, left the roots in the ground since they would be hard to dig, and untwined the Black Futsu Squash. We have eaten them and they taste like a mild pumpkin. There is only one left on the spindly vine but every squash bug hiding in the garden has managed to find it. It is covered.

Radishes won't make it through the winters here, even under a hoop house so assorted saved seeds from last year's crop were scattered between the corn stalk stumps. They will be eaten before the bitter cold of winter arrives.

The fence for the second corn row has been removed and it was planted with saved seeds from the bag of assorted unknowns. It will be another winter hoop house.

The next row over was the Swiss Chard and melon patch.  All that remains is the celery plants. The Conquistador Celery is bitter during hot weather but the flavor improves during cold weather. This too will become a winter hoop house. Collard seeds are just now sprouting.

The beans in the back of the garden are a disappointment. They are growing great, have plenty of blooms but haven't had time to produce more than a handful. I doubt if the pods will swell enough before frost. I keep telling myself, it was the best I could do in the spring so get over it. It was a gamble - sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  At least the ground was covered so it didn't erode.

The green beans on the corral fence are finally producing. I'm harvesting every day and should have enough canned for winter.

Putting sweet potatoes below the beans worked wonderfully. The beans went up the fence and the potatoes spread below keeping the weeds down. 

The second corral fence located in the back of the garden toward the woods held the late-planted tomatoes. They came from rooted suckers and a few clearance rack plants. They were small when the big rainstorm hit and fared a bit better.

At least there are a few tomatoes left for us to enjoy. We are really missing the summer abundance. (I want to say we are suffering but that would be melodramatic.)

This is the back of the garden one week ago before we pulled up the Yuxi Jiang Bing Gua Squash monster plant. There were two positives. First, they tasted absolutely delicious, mild, juicy, and unique. Secondly, the dreaded squash vine borers did not bother it.  I let it grow as long as possible hoping it would eventually produce a bumper crop since it had swallowed up the back of the garden.  It didn't.

This was all it produced! No more prime real estate for this slacker! It will be planted again next year since only one seed from the package was used but it will be stuck somewhere else where it can run wild without wasting valuable garden space.

After removing the vines, this is how much garden space it had occupied. 

The Calico Lima Beans look lush but they have been a big disappointment. They are just now blooming so there is no way they will produce before frost. 

I finally worked up the courage to try a bitter melon after three of them ripened, then rotted and fell to the ground.  I expected them to be so bitter they would burn my mouth like a hot pepper but they didn't.  It was a surprise. They aren't bad but aren't good either - they are edible.  I am experimenting with recipes and will share my findings in another post after this garden season ends.

The same will be true for the Chinese Python Snake Bean.  I have learned too much to share here.  Next year it will receive a prime spot in the garden along with a taller trellis. More than one seed will be planted.

The squash harvest is curing on the front porch beside the growing winter garden seedlings.  It never seems to stop or even slow down.