Getting a Massage in my 40s vs Getting a Massage in my 20s

In my 20s, I was somewhat squeamish about getting naked before a complete stranger. As a mother, I can attest to having long ago lost any sense of modesty upon giving birth, so in my 40s, my naked-ness before a stranger is no big deal.

In my 20s, I felt completely entitled to anything I could do to treat myself. In my 40s, the thought of dropping $80 plus a tip and finding a couple of hours’ free time for the privilege of doing so is laughable. Thank goodness for Groupon!

In my 20s, I would completely relax, to the extent that I actually fell asleep once despite the jack-hammers tearing up the sidewalk just outside the spa’s entrance. In my 40s, all I could think about on a recent appointment was where did the masseuse get an hours’ worth of pan flute music? Was it a cd? Can you stream that on Pandora or Spotify? Would it be rude to ask her to change the station?

In my 20s, I would relinquish my body to the pain/pleasure of working out the various kinks, the short jabs digging in and the smooth strokes releasing the tension, thinking “this hurts so good.” In my 40s, all that poking and pushing and pulling just plain hurts.

In my 20s, a masseuse was most likely to remark on the tightness of my calves due to my running habit. In my 40s, a masseuse is most likely to ask whether or not I’ve had the moles on my back looked at by a dermatologist.

So I have a new business idea: a combo masseuse/dermatologist. Just imagine being able to relax while simultaneously having suspect moles circled for future removal in one easy appointment, enjoying uninterrupted pan flute music while you do so.

Unexpected Childhood Flashback

When my nana was still alive, I would visit her in Wilkes Barre, PA, and we would always take a trip to Boscov’s Department Store. Even in my 20s, if my travels took me anywhere near Pennsylvania, I would tack on a day or two to stay on her awful fold-out sofa and enjoy her lilting Irish brogue (this despite her 40+ years stateside) and intrepid efforts to feed me every 30 minutes or so. To this day, I still tell my husband that I love the way he pronounces “potatoes” because it sounds just the way she did (“poh-DAY-dos”).

When my brothers and I were growing up, she always sent random care packages in shoe boxes carefully wrapped in brown paper (most likely an inside-out grocery sac). There was always candy, in particular, mini Nestle Crunch Bars, which were a rarity back then, Halloween notwithstanding. Around St. Patrick’s Day, we could always count on a loaf of her Irish soda bread, which she would bake in mass quantities for the church festivities (pun intended). Nana died over a decade ago and, although she is never far from my thoughts (I am convinced that every time I break a new tray of ice cubes and one invariably flies out and hits the floor, that it is somehow attributable to her), I haven’t thought about Boscov’s in as many years…until today.

I was doing what I do for my “day job” in corporate communications and sales support, deciphering our VP of Sales’ chicken scratch notes on business cards as I enter them into our database and assign them to a specific sales rep, when I came across a card for Boscov’s. Not only was I immediately taken back to my younger years and the love I had for my nana and our excursions, but I was surprised and delighted to see that Boscov’s had moved into the 21st century with e-commerce sales from their website. Not that they shouldn’t have continued to flourish online like so many other department stores. I guess that “back then” me didn’t realize there were more Boscov’s than the one nana and I went to in Wilkes Barre, PA, and “today me” hopes there are many more grandmothers and their granddaughters carrying on the tradition of shopping there together, whether in person or virtual. After all, a care package is still a care package, whether you take it home in a bag or it arrives in your mailbox.

What Did the Mama Tomato Say to the Baby Tomato?

Ketchup, Baby Tomato!

Just  a quick post to combine the last couple of tales into one, beautiful example of what I like to call “Tybee Randomonium.” Get it? It’s like pandemonium, but random!

So, after the recent Huc-a-Poo’s ‘Stache-fest, Rory gifted me with my very own giant-ass black magic marker. And, in my ongoing battle against the birds for my tomatoes, I picked a tiny one that was ripening up quite nicely. However, something had gotten to it, so what else was there to do but this?

ketchup, baby tomatooh the humanity!

Oh, the humanity!

Reflections on the Simpler Days of My R-Rated Youth

As a parent with free time to kill reading parenting blogs and websites (i.e., I’m at work), I see a lot of articles wistfully harkening back to the unstructured, unscheduled, carefree summer days of my generation’s youth, when our stay-at-home moms turned us out of the house to roam the neighborhood with our pack of neighbor friends, we drank from the hose when thirsty, and entertained ourselves until sundown, when our respective parents would call us home for dinner. While my childhood summers were definitely idyllic by the above standard, it also occurred to me recently that most of my favorite movies, shows, and books from those days were wildly inappropriate for my age. For those of you wanting to do the math at home, I was born in 1970.

Books

I devoured anything by Stephen King: Cujo, 1981; Pet Sematary, 1982; Christine, 1983; In retrospect, when I was reading the Hunger Games trilogy a few years back, it was crazily popular with the middle school girl crowd (much to my embarrassment for having the same taste in books as an 11 year-old girl), so I guess my reading history was not so unusual after all. How about the 1979 bestseller (admittedly, I am guessing here and have done no actual research) Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews? While I’m sure I got my hands on a black market paperback copy at least a year or two after its initial publication, I am pretty sure a majority of the subject matter was over my head, not unlike the 1966 Valley of the Dolls paperback, whose cover I can still clearly picture, whereas many important details of my day-to-day life are generally overlooked, scribbled on a sticky note, or outright forgotten. And where did these books come from, anyway? It’s not like I could check them out from the library at my parochial grade school, or even the public library across the street. I suppose I might have pilfered them from my mom, although I don’t recall her ever reading so much as a cereal box and, let’s face it, with four kids and a drinking problem, she didn’t really have much time for the leisurely pursuit of reading. Alas, the suppliers of the dog-eared paperbacks from my youth remain lost to me.

valley of the dolls

TV Shows

I know my son cannot imagine life without 24/7 Netflix streaming, on-demand shows, You Tube, etc., but when I was his age, we had 3 network channels and UHF. Movies like The Wizard of Oz were aired once a year and the whole family looked forward to it. My older brothers would frequently scream from the downstairs tv room for me in my upstairs bedroom, and I, not unlike Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football, would fall for it time and again…they didn’t actually need me, they just needed someone to change the channel because they were too lazy to get up and do it themselves. But let’s take a closer look at some of my beloved childhood sitcoms, shall we?

WKRP, 1978-1982. I had the biggest crush on “Andy,” with that feathered hair and those super-starched tight jeans! And I knew that Loni Anderson’s character was supposed to be sexy, but I always preferred the girl-next-door looks of “Bailey.” wkrp

Let’s see, what other shows aired in the household of my youth? Oh, how about Three’s Company, circa 1977-1984? With its storyline of a man pretending to be gay in order to respectably live with two hot women, what’s not to love for a 7 to 14 year-old girl (nevermind one who went to Catholic school and didn’t even know what “gay” was)? I especially remember the fondness for pantyhose in the 70s–from those wacky gals Janet and Chrissy wearing them under shorts, to the commercials for how to avoid “elephant ankles,” I am thankful I was a child then and not subjected to the torture of pantyhose.

And who could forget the Friday night double feature of The Love Boat, 1977-1987, and Fantasy Island, 1977-1984, while it lasted? A floating vacation paradise filled with swinging singles followed by a tropical vacation that taught you to be careful what you wish for? Sign me up! How I longed to be a sassy cruise director, planning the activities for the Pacific Princess line’s zany, flamboyent guests, from the sexy lounge singer Charo (the Coochi! Coochi! girl) to the (gasp!) crossover character played by none other than Loni Anderson.

The-Love-Boat-image   fantasy_island

Despite my being somewhat creeped out by Tattoo, I yearned to be a guest disembarking from the plane (de plane!) and gratefully accepting a lei along with Mr. Roarke’s vaguely sinister toast. On nights when I was able to stay awake for this second feature, I felt as if I was getting a sneak peek into the complexities of the adult world.

Dukes of Hazzard, 1979-1985. Another fine example of pantyhose and short shorts. Throw in bootleg moonshine and an affinity for “outsmarting” Johnny Law, and you’ve got yourself some great educational programming!

dukes-of-hazzard-cast (1)

Movies

Even though I saw all of the usual, PG offerings of the era (Bad News Bears, 1976; Star Wars, 1977; Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977; Oh God!, 1977; Grease, 1978; Heaven Can Wait, 1978; Superman, 1978; E.T., 1982; Poltergeist, 1982; The Outsiders, 1983), upon further reflection (and some IMDB.com reference checking), there were far more R-rated movies in a walk down my childhood memory lane. And, not unlike the fog surrounding my recall of how I got my hands on the books noted above, I have no specific memory of who took me to these movies or how I got there. Did one of my older brothers begrudgingly let me tag along? Did my best friend’s older sister vouch for us? Did my parents not read the rating? Did we buy tickets to a PG movie and then sneak into the R-rated one? While I may never know the answers to how I got there, here is a brief overview of some of my favorite movies of yesteryear. Keep in mind that this was waaaay before the VCR (or Beta-Max if you were super wealthy and bet on the wrong emerging technology), so it’s not like I could have seen the movie once legitimately 17 and then just gotten confused about seeing it earlier. Although, let’s face it, my memory is comparable to Swiss cheese, so there’s an outside chance I may have done that in one or two instances, but definitely impossible that I would do so for all of the titles listed. Without further ado, I offer this abridged list of R-rated movies that helped shape who I am today:

  • Blues Brothers, 1980. Car chases! Nazis! A scene filmed at Phil’s Beach, aka Bangs Lake, where we used to go swimming! So many great lines, including one so good a KC tribute band took their name from it, but this is my favorite.
  • Fame, 1980. Like the other great dance sensation to come in 1983, Flashdance, my best friend and I may have convinced her older sister to take us to see this. The ripped-neck shirts exposing one shoulder and leg warmers did nothing to improve our singing or dancing, but you couldn’t tell us that back then.
  • Caddyshack, 1980. Despite it being lost on the 20-something with whom I work, I still quote this movie at least once a week and work in a “caddy day…caddies welcome from 1 to 1:15″ or “pool and a pond” reference whenever possible.
  • Little Darlings, 1980. This may be one that I actually saw later than 1980 and retroactively assigned it to my 10-year old’s memory because it included Tatum O’Neill of Bad News Bears fame, the tomboy who I totally wanted to be.
  • Private Benjamin, 1980. This may have been parentally blessed because it starred Goldie Hawn who we all loved in 1978’s PG-rated Foul Play (and, of course, Laugh-In).
  • The Shining, 1980. Even though I never read this book, based on my heretofore noted love of Stephen King, I presume I bamboozled one of my older brothers to take me to see this.
  • The Blue Lagoon, 1980. After squeezing my chunky 10-year old self into over-priced Calvin Kleins that I somehow convinced my parents to buy me, you bet I was going to find a way to see this film starring Brooke Shields. Sidenote, as a 10-year old girl not yet into boys, I think my main takeaway from the movie was how pretty the water was.
  • Stripes, 1981, and Neighbors, 1981. I am pretty sure one of my older brothers took me to see these. Still recall Dan Akroyd’s character indignantly shouting “he spurned my sauce” from the latter.
  • Sharky’s Machine, 1981. This one is squarely on my best friend’s family, although whether it was her sister, one of her brothers, or her parents that took us, I can’t recall.
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982. I think maybe we snuck into this one, possibly with my almost-Irish twin brother who loved Phoebe Cates. Jeff Spicoli’s stoner/surfer talk endured through high school among my guy friends as a direct result of this movie.
  • Cat People, 1982. This is also one we probably snuck into, based solely on our love of David Bowie and his singing the movie’s theme song. Looking on IMDB to confirm this, it’s downright embarrassing that we chose to see this based on the movie synopsis.
  • Risky Business, 1983. Even at age 13 with my first kiss under my belt, the whole prostitution ring storyline of this movie is overshadowed by the iconic dance scene.
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation and Trading Places, 1983. No idea how we got into either of these, but the same collective consciousness that unites John Hughes movie lovers of our generation applies to SNL-veteran movies as well.
  • Christine, 1983. As an 8th grader at this point, I presume that this, and many of the following movies released in 1983, were ones we snuck into.
  • Valley Girl, 1983. I loved this movie so much, I already blogged about it two years ago.
  • All the Right Moves, 1983. It had Tom Cruise and was about football, so I think my pack of girl/guy friends all snuck in together to see this one.
  • Easy Money, 1983. Of course, I loved Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack (Don’t sell yourself short, Judge, you’re a terrible slouch!), how could I miss out on this role of a lovable gambling addict trying to reform in order to inherit his MIL’s fortune? Several years later, my father took me to see Dangerfield perform over Christmas Break. Despite all of my youthful exposure to R-rated films and sexy sitcom stars, it was primarily of the wink, wink, nudge, nudge variety so I was totally unprepared for, and duly mortified by, Dangerfield’s gratuitous use of the “f” word in person.
  • Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984. I am pretty sure this was snuck into with the aforementioned first kiss in the hopes of some of the old “feign stretch and put arm around date” move, but this movie scared the bejeesus out of me and I spent most of it scrunched way down in my seat and peeking at the screen from between my fingers.
  • Purple Rain, 1984. My brother and I were in NYC visiting our dad for break and we went to see this in a really beautiful, old theater that had two stories and side balconies. I don’t recall sneaking in, per se, but rather that we seemed so cool to be wandering the city parentless, they just assumed we were old enough to get in. I wore the soundtrack record out, BTW.
  • Footloose, 1984. How was this rated R? Who didn’t love this movie/soundtrack/Kevin Bacon? And who couldn’t bear to see the re-make for just those reasons?
  • Repo Man, 1984, I was thinking that I would’ve wanted to see this because of Emilio Estevez, but a quick IMDB search shows that this movie came out before The Breakfast Club, so I’m chalking this one up to an older brother’s “babysitting” choice.
  • Beverly Hills Cop, 1984. We used to listen to Eddie Murphy’s record and recite his routines to one another on the playground of St. Theresa’s, so of course we found a way to see this. We’re not going to fall for a banana in the tailpipe trick again. 
  • Hot Dog, the Movie, 1984. A lot of the guys I grew up with were into skiiing, so I think that was why this ended up in my memory vault.
  • St. Elmo’s Fire, 1985. Much of the adult-y angst was lost on my 15 year-old self, but to a teenager, angst is angst and we all identified in some way with those beautiful people up on the big screen.
  • Vision Quest, 1985, rated R. A subset of the guys I grew up with were really into wrestling, so I’m guessing that’s how this one ended up on this list.
  • Re-Animator, 1985, unrated. By this point, I was dating an older boy and a bunch of us went to see this based solely on the fact that it was unrated. I think it was kind of a Frankenstein-esque tale?
  • To Live and Die in L.A., 1985. Not unlike Cat People, I’m pretty sure I saw this with my brother and we went because Wang Chung was on the soundtrack.

There you have it. Whether you believe it takes a village or are a practicing helicopter parent, I think we all need to take a cue from our parents, and just chill.

Livin’ the Dream

We had a rare weekend where we spent the whole time on the island (well, with the exception of breakfast in town on Sunday). And it was SO. MUCH. FUN!

Friday

We started with the Beach Bum Parade, an annual tradition on our little island where we get wet and wild before the official “start” of tourist season (Memorial Day weekend) and the subsequent onslaught of traffic, visitors, people who don’t know the rules of biking, etc. The first year we lived here, Jack was just a toddler and we, along with another couple and their toddler, thought, “What fun! A water parade!” As we walked toward our usual location from which to watch the parade (Tybee has A LOT of parades), some soaking wet kids who looked to be 5 or 6 started running towards us and I thought to myself, “Surely those kids won’t shoot water at an adult, much less one they don’t know.” I was, of course, wrong on both counts. The parade floats shoot water at the parade watchers and vice versa, and no one is safe. And thus began my love/hate relationship with the Beach Bum Parade.

beach bum 2  beach bum 3

Jack and friends prepare for battle.

beach bum  Not even adults are off-limits, unless you’re a cop.

Before and after the parade, we gathered at a friend’s house down the street. Prior to departing, we fed the kids (ok, grown-ups, too) pizza, pigs in a blanket, and other snacks while they attacked one another, soaking each and every kid to the core, despite our admonishments not to use all of the water supplies and dry towels before we even got to the parade. They were shivering and whiny as we left to join the real fun. This year, our location was perfect–there was a police car stationed to block off the street, so the adults could hang back in a self-imposed dry zone while still keeping an eye on our screaming, water-spraying offspring (first rule of [water] fight club: no shooting water at police!). As an added bonus, when the kids came running up to us, shivering, we told them to hunker down next to the police car’s wheel and warm up with the exhaust heat being put out by it–hooray for awesome parenting!

One mom (who shall remain nameless but whose bosom will appear in a picture further down in this post) stuck her beer in between her boobs so her hands were free to wield her water gun. We decided it was actually a brilliant idea, nicknamed it the Boobzie (get it? boobs + coozie!) and have a plan for a Kickstarter campaign. Feel free to comment on this post if you agree it’s pure genius and want to donate funds.

All in all, the adults that wanted to remain dry were able to do so, the kids had a blast (heh heh), and it was the best Beach Bum yet, IMHO. If you listen to the audio on the video clip, you’ll hear the kids’ rally cry/mantra of “Cheaters!” against their Goliath-like opponents.

Saturday

Jack and I spent the day at the beach with Boobzie and family while Tyler kayaked over to Little Tybee and Jack’s Cut (not named after our Jack, although the last time we kayaked over as a family, our Jack cut his foot on an oyster shell and proclaimed its new name “Jack’s Cut Foot”). The boys ran around catching minnows, digging up olives (the shell kind, not the martini kind), and collecting various specimens for their “touch tank” including a whelk and two of the tiniest starfish I have even seen. Seriously, they were the size of a kid’s fingernail–I don’t even know how they could’ve found them! The tide was super low, exposing a huge swath of marsh mud that the boys loved slopping in (in the interest of full disclosure, so did the other two parents. I tried to go along, but my disgust was pretty evident). They were literally up to their knees in it, making “mud angels” in it, and relishing getting covered in it from head to toe, then squishing their way back to the ocean to clean off and do it all over again. I wish I had some pictures, but I never think to take my phone to the beach.

olive trail  Once you know what to look for, olives are easy to spot!

I thought I spied Tyler kayaking back–it looked like him, his hat, his red kayak, and even though he had left with a friend, it didn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility that he would’ve decided to come back solo. So there I am, jumping up and down and waving, trying to flag him down and show him where we’re camped out, and Jack is screaming “Dad!” at the top of his lungs, but he didn’t seem to see us. He finally pulled up to the shoreline about 15 feet away and I started to approach him, and then realized this guy had no tattoos on his biceps. Um…so, not Tyler. Later on, we did see Tyler and his kayaking mate, and they immediately responded to our crazy waving. After they passed us to go put-in at Alley #3, not-Tyler came back and we all laughed that maybe he was hoping I’d come talk to him since I had expressed such fervent interest.

Tyler finally rejoined us around 4 and we decided to pack in all in and head to Huc-a-Poo’s for an early dinner. Boobzie picked up our hostess from the previous night and her son. Once arranged at our table for 10, I noticed the differences in our approaches to toting the necessities: hostess simply had $40 tucked into her tank top; since I was driving, I had my wallet with ID, etc.; and Boobzie had an entire purse, complete with the biggest black (fake) Sharpie I had ever seen! Naturally, I asked Jack if he would like a mustache and, being my son, he agreed.

jack

What do you mean I’m not 21? Just check out my sweet facial hair!

Next came Tyler, then hostess, then Boozie’s husband, who said he wanted a cat face like the guy from Kiss.

I think I did a pretty good job on the last likeness, no?

Kiss-Dynasty-Frontal   'poo crew

Two funny things to note at this point: the cat face got us all trying to substitute “meow” for “now” like in Super Troopers, and there was an uber hetero dude wearing a super obnoxious shirt that said “Show Me Your Kitties,” so our cat friend went up to him and told him he liked his shirt. The guy started to be all “thanks, man!” and then took one look at the cat face and literally took a step back. Only one of Boobzie and kitty’s sons wanted in on the fun, but he went all in, including a tribute to Uncle Leo’s eyebrows.

evil genius

Since Boobzie was driving, she didn’t want to give the cops a reason to suspect possible DUI by crazily magic-markering-up her face, so she opted for this classier, decolletage decor, for which our waiter immediately complied by donating a beer.

only rory  Boobzie prototype.

shenanigans  The shenanigans continue.

At this point, other people (read: complete strangers) starting noticing our silliness and also wanted in on the fun. There was a table of women behind us who all asked for some facial flair:

cat girl She was not down with accosting the guy in the obnoxious t-shirt for fear she might inadvertently punch him in the throat.

sharing the sharpie love See what I mean about how big the marker is??

contemplative 'stache Pondering life’s existential questions.

There was even an older gentleman at the bar with a full, grey beard who raised his beer to us every time someone else joined the ‘stache club. Since he already had full on facial hair, I asked him if would like me to draw a Frankenstein-esque scar on his cheek so as not to be left out. He delightedly agreed and proceeded to tell me that he once played Frankenstein in a play years ago!

You might ask what our children were doing the whole time we were coloring on people’s faces? Well, they were enjoying playing corn hole, which means basically throwing bean bags at one another in their case. Until Stayin’ Alive by the BeeGees comes on, then all bets were off while they get their groove on.

Perhaps the frosting on the cake to our markers on the face was the traffic jam leaving the island. Since Boozie and her crew couldn’t get off Tybee to head home, we all decided to go back to hostess’ fab pad and continue the fun. Except that her affianced wasn’t expecting company, much less his love with silly drawings all over her face, and he was in no mood for our loud crowd. Nonplussed, we carried on without him.

Sunday

Our final weekend day just happened to be our 13th anniversary. We celebrated by heading in town to Clary’s for breakfast. They were publicized in “the book,” as locals refer to John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but we just like their menu and consistently good service. There is dog-friendly, outdoor seating, so there’s always a chance to pet someone else’s cool pup to boot. After breakfast, we headed back to Tybee to meet hostess and her fiance for an afternoon on their boat. The plan was to spend the day on the beach at Little Tybee, but as Steinbeck said, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (Can you believe I remember that quote from high school English? Shout out to St. Viator and Brother Ruhl!). It wasn’t yet low tide as we made our way out and the creeks and estuaries that make up the route were too low to navigate, so we went out to sea thinking we could hug the coast and go the long way. That didn’t work either. So we worked our way back up past Cockspur Island and around to the Bull River as, by that time, the tide had turned.

boat trip map

Our circuitous route in red: we covered Wassau Sound, Tybee Island, and lots of back- water. It’s breathtakingly beautiful when you are in the creeks and estuaries, surrounded by marsh grass with no buildings in site, and the water spreads before you like a living highway.

ready to go boating      Jack ready to go boating.

boating

This was taken before I lost my hat for good; Tyler’s flew off but we were able to circle back and retrieve it.

Here is a quick video of the boys trying to eat chips on the speeding boat:

When we finally returned to the marina, tired and sunburned, one of the local shrimp boats was docked and sorting through their catch. Most of this gets supplied directly to places like Lazaretto Creek Seafood, where you can buy it by the pound to go, and  Coco’s, where they’ll cook it for you.

shrimpers

We never actually made it to Little Tybee, but we spent the day on a boat in the water, which is just about the best way I can think of to pass the time, take in the beauty of our surroundings, and remember what brought us all to this island paradise, and living the dream, in the first place. After all, it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters, right?

Urban Homesteading, cont’d*

And now for the update on my mad gardening skillz…complete with first harvest/two easy peasy meals made from items lovingly grown by yours truly.

You be (bas)illin’

At planting time (approximately 2 months ago):     basil

Currently, 5 out of 6 4 out of 6 starter plants recommend my gardening talents (that sneaky one on the inner right side is technically an attached offshoot of the second plant in from the end!)

basil

You say toh-may-toes

tomato

I say, “can’t wait to make a tomato sandwich!”

you say to-mah-toI say to-may-to

There are three that are starting to ripen–they’re low and inside the pot, so I am hoping the birds will not have the chance to enjoy them before me. In years’ past, by the time I looked out the kitchen window to see a red ‘mater and the 30 seconds it took me to walk outside, they always managed to swoop in and peck my ‘mater (that sounds dirty, but I assure you, it is not).

I’m a pepper, you’re a pepper…

I don’t have a before shot for the three pepper plants, but they are growing like gangbusters! It was a little rocky after I first planted them and we had a crazy storm that blew them all over and they lost a lot of dirt, but, as you can clearly see from the multitude of peppers below, I triumphed!

pepper family

wouldntcha like to be a pepper toopicka packa peppers

A Sage for the Ages, But Neither Pine, Nor Apple

No before pix of pineapple sage, but it was just an itty bitty thing when I planted it and look at it now!

pineapple sage

I have been steeping it in sun tea and am thinking of creating mojitos this weekend (it worked with the loquats that grow like crazy around us!). It’s even getting ready to flower, and they look like they will be pretty and red.

The Honeymooners Special: Lettuce Alone

lettucelettuce alone

Not quite ready for a salad, but they’re getting there…and 100% of plants planted remain alive!

Gettin’ Figgy With It

One of the fruits of my labor (see what I did there?) that I am most excited about is the figs! Again, no before pic but I assure you this guy is thriving.

gettin' figgy with it   figgy 2

Can you see the tee-tiny baby fig? So far there are three whole fruits, which should be ready to enjoy sometime next month.

Eggs-cellent plants

Speaking of thriving, most of the plants I grew from seeds sown in egg shells started strong but are mostly all failing to thrive (read: dead). Not sure if they don’t get enough sun on the front steps, or maybe using regular eggshells instead of organic ones is the culprit (I am 90% sarcastic here but 10% convince-able that this could be a thing).

The seedlings out front are still hanging in there but don’t seem to have grown hardly at all in two months, especially when compared to the eggplant seedlings growing in the back yard.

eggshell plants

You see the white of eggshell but no green, yes?

eggshell plants2

Three visible egg shells, one visible plant (possibly a tomato? It was pretty obvious when planted what was cilantro, what was sage, etc., but with most everything dead, I have no frame of reference).

failure to thrive  Tee-tiny sprouts, but better than dead!

eggplants, meh  Eggplants

And now, for the stars of first harvest:

1st garden harvest   My precious…

I halved and de-seeded the peppers, laid them over a bed of uncooked rice, covered everything with 2 cans of red enchilada sauce and popped it all in the over. After about 30 minutes of cook time at 350 degrees, I sprinkled shredded cheddar over everything and let it cook for 15 more minutes until all melted and bubbly and gooey. Added chopped tomato as garnish and we chowed down.

I bought Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything about 20 years ago and still consult it on the reg. I used his recipe for pesto, combining fresh basil leaves, garlic, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan (I cheat and use the “green can” parmesan because I know we always have some on hand!), which I tossed with cooked rotini pasta and shredded zucchini that I briefly sauteed in olive oil. Chopped another garden fresh tomato (Brenda 2, birds 0!) for garnish and color. Both recipes were delicious!

Also, I’ve convinced myself to move all of the front porch pots to the back yard. Stay tuned to see if anything changes, I mean grows…

*this title is still entirely ironic.

Urban Homesteading*

After the last several years of “Tyler’s garden,” i.e., a huge portion of our yard dug up and planted with over a dozen rows of “crops” including everything from okra and squash to sunflowers and green beans, and involving renting a tiller from Home Depot, backbreaking additional digging, raking, and weeding (usually with Jack occupying the one “good” shovel to see if he could “dig to China”), combatting an assortment of man-eating mosquitos, fire ants, and gnats, and Tyler’s ultimatum that he would no longer be planting a garden for which Jack and I don’t help, this year I decided to scale back and try my hand at container gardening.

Working in a warehouse, I have access to free wooden pallets, so I began (of course) by plotting (pun intended!) my garden ideas on Pinterest. Jack and Ty got equally excited by free pallets and began making plans to make a tree house, albeit a grounded one as we have no trees big enough to support an actual tree house in our yard. I folded down my seats, laid down a tarp, and loaded in the max number I could fit in one trip, five pallets, in the first week of February (plenty of time to continue building my collection before planting time!).

As luck would have it, Tyler’s brother and sister-in-law came to Tybee for the weekend. The men were adventuring out to harvest oysters, necessitating that I unload the pallets so Jack and us girls could spend the day out and about and pick up libations and snacks to complement the (potential) oyster roast at day’s end. Long story short, we got home after the boys, and my pallets had all been broken down and used for firewood to fuel the outdoor fire pit oyster roast!

Fast forward to actual planting time. We stopped by Savannah Victory Gardens‘ seedling sale and checked out their offerings. Although our zucchini in previous years was always gangbusters (zucchini overabundance cliches exist for a reason!), we never had much luck with melons, so anything on a vine that spreads was out for my container plan. We selected several small 6 flats: lettuce, various peppers, eggplant, and basil; along with 2 heirloom tomato varieties. When I saw the sale mentioned in a friend’s FB post, I was excited b/c it was in an area none of us had ever been to, what  I suspected used to be the old Roberds Dairy Farm that I have heard reference to now and then. The idea that there is farm acreage so close to the Bonaventure Cemetery and waterways of Thunderbolt was difficult for me to wrap my brain around, but beautiful to finally tour. From there, we hopped over to Home Depot for some pots and a few more impulse-buy plants: a fig tree, pineapple sage, and 3 more kinds of peppers, along with a big bag of potting soil.

Somewhere along the line of my Pinterest-inspired garden, I pinned an idea to germinate seeds in used egg shells, so I had been saving the shells as I cooked with eggs, and purchased 4 packs of seeds for $1 at the dollar store: sage, tomato, cilantro, and spinach.

Here are pix of the first stage. Remember the Crystal Gayle 70s tune Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue? I am hoping to cheerfully be singing “Don’t It Make My Brown Thumb Green” if I am able to sustain and harvest anything from our garden this summer! Stay tuned!

Tomatoes

tomato

Lettuce

lettuce

Basil

basil

*This title is entirely ironic.