Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Force is With Me

 

[caption id="attachment_394" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="My nephew Silas. He's a Star Wars nut. Here he is at the beach. We went boogie boarding with Yoda and Chewie."][/caption]

 

My nearly-seven-year-old nephew Silas has come down with the same thing I and every kid of my generation had at the same age - Star Warsitis. He's obsessed and I think I may have helped start it. Last Christmas I gave him my copy of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga for Wii and it immediately took hold of his brain. Every bedtime story you tell him involves Master Yoda or Chewie or Storm Troopers. He can rattle off the plots to all six movies without hesitation. And, worst of all, he thinks Episodes I, II and III were good. But he's a child. He's seven. He hasn't had the time to learn that the new trilogy is far inferior to the originals.

I digress.

He's going into first grade this year and that's a big deal. Lauren and I wanted to get him something but couldn't come up with any good ideas. Until we were in Williams-Sonoma last night.

 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garden-Schmarden

At the beginning of the gardening season, Lauren and I were excited. We built a new garden bed; mixed our soil, compost and fertilizers; poured over seed catalogs and made our selections. We planted our seeds in Dixie cups, moved them in and out of the house and watched as they finally sprouted. We stepped up the seedlings and had dreams of wheelbarrows full of zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and herbs.

Last year we picked up a couple of tomatoes and a couple of peppers and a bunch of herbs and planted them. We didn’t tend them that well. A little water and a lot of luck later and we had TONS of produce. We gave away pounds of tomatoes and zucchini, dried herbs for our friends and generally enjoyed a fantastic and easy harvest.

Now, this year’s garden. We worked, watched, watered, weeded and worried over our plants. I pulled suckers off the tomatoes, picked off slugs, snails and caterpillars, sprayed for bugs and disease with soap and oil and an assortment of organic products. Everything was going well: the bugs ate a few of our early zucchini but we were winning the battle; our Hungarian Heart tomato was thriving and bearing dozens of little tomatoes and even one the size of a softball; cucumbers were vining; peas were shooting and all was right with the world.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Hungarian Heart in its death throes."][/caption]

Until one evening when I went out to water. Our Hungarian Heart was wilted and leathery and was drooping like it hadn’t been watered for a week. It was dry, but not that dry, so I watered. By morning it had slumped against the trellis, dead. We cut off the one big tomato, pulled up the plant and threw it away. But what happened? Why did this plant die while the rest of the bed looked healthy? We added more soil and lime and tried another tomato. It thrived, growing quickly and heartily and looking promising. Then another tomato in another bed died just like the Hungarian Heart. Then another. Then the new one we planted where the Hungarian Heart used to be.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Geocaching on Bald Head Island

[caption id="attachment_371" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Head over to Bald Head Island for some geocaching or another adventure. I do. And I'm a Doctor (an MFA actually, but it's a terminal degree)."][/caption]

I've been geocaching for a while. If you're unfamiliar, geocaching is a GPS based treasure hunting game. People hide boxes and clues and you find them by using a set of latitude and longitude coordinates entered into your GPS. I suppose if your orienteering was good enough you could do it with maps. I think that's going a little far, and that's coming from an Eagle Scout.

So, I went geocaching on Bald Head Island. Actually I found a few and hid two of my own. And I wrote about it for The Island Times, the Bald Head Island blog. Check it out, dust off your GPS or that old Silva compass and go have an adventure.