Saturday, August 30, 2008

If I were a decent gardener, I'd have figured this out earlier

My garden consists of a mix of self-propagating "gifts" from Dorothy, a lone row of mesclun lettuce which came up from seed, and several rows of purchased starter plants which are doing reasonably well, thanks to the Emergency Garden Rescue Attempt coordinated by my Mother. And weeds. That goes without saying.

With my lack of foresight and planning, not to mention my inclination to just pick whatever starter plants were available at the Home Despot, my vegetable section doesn't have the variety and choice that one would hope for in a garden.

Which leads to the inevitable question.

What, exactly, does one do with Kale?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ballardia Barbecue Index

Two Atmospheric Sciences professors at the UW, Cliff Mass and Mark Albright, have created a new metric to track our dismal weather, called the "Barbecue Index". Komo News has the full story, but in a nutshell, this index tracks the number of times since mid-March when the temperature hits 60 degrees or warmer, which appears to the floor for Barbecue weather here in Seattle. We do set our standards low here in the Emerald City of Continual Gloom.

The scientists looked through past temperature records and discovered that 2008 is the worst year of the "Barbecue Index" since 1917. And this was back in June.

Which brings to mind the Ballardia Barbecue Index.

I think we'll define the BBI as the number of days we Actually barbecued here in Ballardia. And if we want to get fancy, we might track that against the "regular" Barbecue Index to see whether our problem is weather related.
Last year, our Ballard Barbecue Season was hindered by the rotted back steps, which, both for Function and Safety, we had blocked off by our 36" GE refrigerator.
This year, with the Fisher Wood Stove out of the way and fridge relocated, we had a small problem with the Case of The Missing Back Steps.
Carpenter Jim removed the rotted back steps back in March, but replacement progress halted pending decent weather. Perhaps the Barbecue Index was directly correlated to the Carpenter Jim outdoor Construction Project Index?
Goodness resumed in July, when I returned from a Portland work-a-thon to discover a rebuilt set of back steps, sans railing. But Railing is not essential for Barbecue Access.

Leaving only the weather as our excuse.

Looking at today's forecast, you might just think there's not much reason NOT to use the grill for tonight's dinner....a little chilly for August, yes, but it meets the Barbecue Index threshold defined by our UW scientists.....Or does it?
Let's do a quick reality check, shall we?

Our forlorn, very wet outdoor dining realm:

Our very wet, rebuilt steps:

I didn't think "Partly Sunny" meant the rest of the fraction was meant to be "Partly Pouring with Thunder".

And our outdoor thermostat says 55. FIFTY FIVE at FIVE PM IN AUGUST.

Our Ballard Barbecue Index? 5 times. Maybe 6. With quality predictions like these, why not plan on a barbecue?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The 4-letter "D" word

The last two remaining items in the bathroom - now that I've hung the Restoration Hardware towel bars - are to remove the old towel bars, do the requisite wall repair & paint touch-up, and paint the trim.

I found a little time to do everything but the trim paint last weekend.

Thanks for the action photo sweetie! I particularly like how it makes me look like Quasimoto!

But perhaps none of us are looking our best when doing home improvement tasks. I give you Martin in the Bunny Suit as an example.

Since everything's complete except the trim paint, I've declared the bathroom Done. I don't have that all-important fisheye lens that could capture the entire room in one shot, so I will present the finished product from multiple angles:

Berried Alive

The entire back fence of Ballardia's back yard is a wall of raspberries.

Fortunately they make for a low maintenance crop, requiring only a small cut-back-and-tie operation each winter to keep the raspberry plants producing. And not for the first time am I wondering WHY I do this maintenance activity, as for the two summers we have been here, the raspberry crop has been a bit more than i can handle. Not to mention that sad fact that I prefer blueberries.

What have I been doing with the crop, apart from foisting it off on friends & family?

Raspberry Tarts:

Raspberry Vinegar and Raspberry Cordials:

Berries sprinkled with Granola - adapted from a recipe posted on the Floured Apron - using ground flax seed instead of the wheat germ.

And let's not forget the 5, count 'em, FIVE stuffed gallon bags of raspberries in the ginormous freezer.

Luckily the berry season is almost over. I might even miss it when it's gone.