Monday, December 15, 2008

Authorized to Test

Well, It happened today. I received my authorization to take the NCLEX-RN exam and have been scheduled to take it on January the 6th! It's kinda important, so l am going to get back to studying my butt off. Everyone have a happy and restful holiday season!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pulled up the Tomatoes

Finally finding enough time to work in the garden this weekend, I decided to pull up the tomatoes. They were really looking bad, and Abbey said the smaller ones were not tasting very good anymore. So now I have a ton of green ones, which will be slowly turning red over the next few weeks (hopefully).

Here is my largest cauliflower, 

Broccoli heads are getting bigger!

And, as always Gideon is helping.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turning the Last Page

I wrote this while I was thinking about the relationship that is formed between a good book and it's reader. You know that feeling you get when you finally finish a good book?

Turning the Last Page

Your pages turn with anticipation,

your characters are colors in my mind,

you're crafted by soul, and linger in heart.

And with such joy I leap from page to page!

Watching them rise and fall like a slow breath.

Soon discovering what we have become, 

as your last page turns and rests silently.

Now closed, you lay in my lap. It's a curse,

to read you for the first time only once.

With innocent ignorance, I wish I 

could slowly read through your pages again!

I wish to be taken by you for the 

first time once more, along your unknown paths, 

without knowing beforehand your beauty.

To read not knowing how much you loved me, 

even before you became the slightest 

thought in my head, innocent though it was.

It is a worse curse though, to not know you. 

And now, looking forward, what a joy it 

truly is, for my heart to have a home!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Photolog 11/24/2008

Gideon helped me make rounds in the garden today!

Well, you can tell the cold nights have been hitting my tomatoes and okra - they look all brown and crunchy. I am waiting for the last of the tomatoes to turn red and I am letting one of the okra pods go to seed for the spring batch. Just from a single pod there will be way more okra seeds than I could plant in one season, so if anyone is interested...

Broccoli is putting out some heads!

Cilantro likes cooler weather, and it's really hard not to pick and eat at it. I'll give it another week!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Healing from Poison Oak and Radiohead

At least for now I'm not itching anymore!

My dermatologist PA hooked me up some oral and topical steroid meds to help me endure the next week. I am already seeing a difference after only a day, and already plan to go climbing again this weekend (at Enchanted Rock, NOT Reimer's Ranch!)

Radiohead performed a show in Japan where they had 12 cameras recording them at all times. follow the link below to create your own personal video of 15 Step. The view is kinda grainy while you make the vid, but when you play it back it's pretty clear. Awesome! I hope they put up some more songs in the future!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Poison Oak at Reimers Ranch


I went climbing last weekend for the first time since May, and I was disappointed with my performance. Back in Colorado Shaun and I were climbing routes that were 5.10-5.11 difficulty every day. Last Saturday I could barely break 5.8, and wore myself out trying to get past the crux move on a 5.9. To add some serious injury to that insult I discovered a rash beginning to form on my left arm Monday morning...

I went rock climbing at Reimers Ranch and all I got was Poison Oak. (For all the climbers who are looking to climb out at Reimers who ended up here because of a search engine: the poison oak I got into is to the right of the bee cave, you can't miss it.)

Of all the plants that I will highlight in this blog, these are the only ones I officially hate with a passion. I know, I know, hating a plant sounds a little ridiculous, so maybe a better way to say it is to say that I would rather they didn't exist at all, or I wouldn't shed a tear at their extinction. The plant belongs to the genus Toxicodendron, and is known to the unfortunate outdoorsman as poison oak. It has an oil (called urushiol) that binds to the surface proteins on your skin cells. Your body then recognizes the cells as foreign invaders and this causes an auto-immune reaction. Over the next two weeks your body goes through a miserable civil war between your epidermis and a T-Cell mediated immune response. The war does not end until your immune response is done completely metabolizing the urushiol along with any cell it ever touched. SUCK.

Up close and personal with my favorite plant in the whole world.

Poison Oak and I have a bit of a history together, so I knew it right when I saw it. I recognized it growing out of the route we were climbing and yet I climbed on. I assumed I would stay out of it for some reason... STUPID. Apparently I mashed my left elbow down into it real good at some point. From there I scratched the urushiol underneath the fingernails of my right hand, and from there I spread it to the rest of my body (save only one special place PRAISE THE LORD!). It's just about everywhere by now, both arms, both legs, my torso, my head and neck, my left foot, and inside my belly button (can't really explain that one). The thing about urushiol is that the places that receive the highest dose get a rash first, and the places that got a lesser dose continue to pop up all over during the course of the first week. This leads one to believe that they are still spreading it, when in reality all the spreading was done before you took your first shower. 

Sounds terrible huh... it gets worse. This crap gets way worse... I'm talking longevity.

The worst part is that the urushiol will stay on objects it came in contact with, like the climbing rope and all my gear for example. So now I must give everything a good scrubbing with a soapy water/ rubbing alcohol mixture and hope that it's gone (there is only one way to find out). Also, I must make the decision to never, ever, use Shaun's rope again as it was practically dragged through the stuff. A new rope is 200 bucks.

So not only did I not climb well, I am absolutely miserable for the time being. I am going to make an appointment on Monday so I can get some high-strength corticosteroid pills/cream. Till then it's a Benadryl every four hours and an Aveeno bath before bed. The itching is so bad, I have to practically put myself in a Benadryl-induced coma just to sleep more than four hours at night.

Still, it could be a whole lot worse... I could be sitting in some ashes scraping myself with a piece of broken pottery. No matter how bad life gets we can always tell ourselves that Job had it worse. Abbey has been really gracious with me and my uncomfortable impatience this week, and that alone has allowed me to keep my sanity.

"Curse God and die" she tells him.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Photolog 10/31/2008: Halloween

Well, the weather has been pretty close to perfect for my fall garden. The days have been warm but not too warm, and the nights have been cold but not too cold. In this turbulent political season my veggies are growing great, my garden quietly existing in peace as Joe The Plumber talks about the impending annihilation of Israel. I am sooo happy to not have a TV, but somehow I still hear about this crap!

More importantly, it was Shady's birthday on Friday and we had all kinds of fun carving out a pumpkin and playing with her new toy.
Happy Birthday Shady!

Shady's new toy is a Dora the Explorer fishing pole, and let's just say that Gideon thinks it's his birthday too.

Here's a pic of Gideon chasing a lure in the backyard.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Early Voting

Yesterday I went to Crossroads Mall and voted early. I wore cowboy boots and a blue shirt.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Photolog 10/24/2008: Snakes

Sorry about the huge pictures this week, blogger is having technical difficulties. You can see them better by clicking on them.

Not much going on in the garden this week, most things are growing and the nights are getting cooler. I am really happy with how big the Broccoli and Cauliflower are getting. The plants are looking really green after the dose of fish emulsion and epsom salt I sprayed this week. My spinach sprouts are just stuck at an inch tall for some reason, and I think what they want is a good rain. I am going to get up early tomorrow and give everything a good soaking. 

My secret weapon for the birds has been a bunch of strategically placed rubber snakes. It's kinda like a little haunted house for birds out there, and it seems to be working. I have to go move them around every few days or the birds get smart, and I don't want to risk any of my nice tomatoes being beaked to death. I am thinking about trying to put out a bird feeder on the other side of the yard to give them something else to eat, and I hope that doesn't just make the problem worse by attracting more birds than there were before. We will see what happens...

On a side note...

I took an NCLEX-RN predictor test this week at school to see my probability of passing the real test the first time through. I scored a 95% probability! Besides the boost in confidence this test also tells me what I need to review to do even better next time. This is pretty much what my next 8 weeks will look like... test, review, test again. Gotta love standardized testing! 

No nurse left behind...

Little Mesclun Lettuce sprouts

Snake guarding my tomatoes

Friday, October 17, 2008

Photolog 10/17.2008

Photolog 10/17/2008

The broccoli and cauliflower have really been growing, and I feel like my part time job is to pluck all the tiny caterpillars off of their leaves before they can do much damage. My first snap peas started to set a couple of days ago, and the Juliet tomatoes have been turning red despite the fact they are slowly being de-foliated by the Fusarium wilt. Stay tuned to find out how I am keeping the mocking birds from eating them!

New in the garden this week:
+ Snap peas set
+ Cilantro sprouted
+Topped the tomatoes to encourage bigger fruit

Juliet Tomatoes

I feel like I haven't been able to spend time doing much of anything besides school lately. All my studying has paid off though... I took my Advanced Concepts cumulative final exam this past wednesday and aced it missing only 2 out of 50 questions! This has been the most challenging semester, and it's good to know that I have taken the toughest tests and it's all easy coasting from here. For the next 8 weeks (my last before graduation) my clinicals will be at Baptist Medical Center downtown in the cardiovascular unit, and in class we will mostly be preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam

You know you have been spending long days at the hospital and long nights at the library when even the cats miss you...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Photolog 10/10/2008, Grand National

Photolog 10/10

Night-time temps are finally dropping! This means leafy-greens!

Here is what's been happening this week:
+ Planted Mesclun Lettuce
+ Planted Cilantro
+ Planted Spinach (again)
+ Composted Black-eyed peas from the side garden

Broccoli and Cauliflower


And a side-note on the Grand National:
I have been listening to Grand National, which is a band I found on Pandora, and they are pretty sweet. You can find a link to them on the right in the Headphones section. They are a British band with a sound reminiscent of Sting and The Police, although much more modern. It deserves a good listen if you are getting bored with whatever you got spinning on your iPod. I think it's shaping up to be my fall soundtrack, and if you know me that says a lot.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What does it all mean? Photolog 10/3/2008

Photolog 10/3

This past week I have experienced a lot, and my garden has gone through some changes. I experienced some fantastic festival performances while in Austin last weekend, I have been officially offered a job working in the ER, and I have given a certain option a good "look-see" (but more on that later). So while I have been busy fighting the crowds and dust at Zilker park, while I have been diligently learning the pathophysiology and treatment algorithms for Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), I have been utterly out of control of some happenings in the garden.

First of all, my first vine-ripe tomato of the fall season was burgled by some ungrateful mocking bird. The nerve! I pulled the buggered and pecked-to death tomato off the vine and threw it over the fence I was so mad. Obviously the red ornament thing is a myth, and it has been officially busted. What's worse is that my Juliet tomatoes are susceptible to Fusarium wilt, and they both have it. The leaves are turning brown and dying off from the bottom of the plant up, and soon I will just have some dead stringy-looking tomato vines. The only good thing is that my Better Boy's and Cherry tomatoes are resistant, but is seems that they have some kind of wilt too. I don't know whether to pull up the Juliets now or let them live as long as possible. 

Soon to be completely leafless and dead Juliet Tomatoes

The peas are just about done, and that is a good thing considering what some of them look like. I did some research and think it's a virus that the peas have had since they were little seeds. It started out as one plant, and then it spread all over the side garden. It's a confounding viral conflagration. 

Soon to be dead peas

Some good things have been happening at the same time. The Okra is my big producer right now. From seven plants I harvest about two pods a day, and it's fairly delicious. One weird thing I have discovered in case you are ever on some obscure game-show: fresh picked okra smells kinda like dog (this smell goes away once you wash and cook it).

Okra plate

For those of you who have actually read this far:

Something special has happened in my backyard. In the grass beside the garden grows a single corn stalk. I noticed him the other day, and I am really wondering how he got there. The fact that he is disease and bug free makes no sense. What does he represent in all of this? Is he an outcast or a pioneer? Surely there is some scientific answer to his existence, I just don't know what to think of him. I'd like to think that he is deserving of the most fertile place in the garden, and that he deserves all my attention (though that hasn't appeared to help the rest of the plants). I think for now I will watch and see what happens with this special corn sprout, though I am pretty sure he will end up in the compost bin.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Photolog: September

Every last Friday of the month will be a retrospective Photolog, this will be a time to lay out the consecutive pictures and compare the growth that has happened all month. It's also an easy blog for me and it satisfies some of my reader's curiosity. Gardening takes an immense amount of patience. This last month the only thing I harvested was the first few okra. Next month, I might find myself giving away tomatoes there are so many. All I know is that this has been one heck of a drawn out and dry summer, and I am ready for the leaves to change. The sun will now be shining more so on the southern hemisphere for the next six months, and I say let them have it. I will celebrate the first cold front by planting leafy greens!

This weekend I will be taking a break from my studies to go and enjoy Austin City Limits. I will tell you all about it on Monday!





Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

We live in an amazing time, and this video makes me smile. Isn't Stevie the greatest?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photolog 9/19/2008

Man I love photolog Fridays! It really helps to see the growth from week to week! Tomorrow morning I am going to attend Bob Webster's fall vegetable gardening seminar at his Shades of Green nursery. I am betting that I will be the youngest person there.

New this week:
+ Composted buggered corn
+ Planted broccoli
+ Planted cauliflower
+ Harvested first okra

Waiting for those black-eyed pea pods to turn brown... maybe this week!

Snap peas are beginning to grab hold of the trellis (as well as each other) 

today's harvest: Okra

This afternoon I picked the first harvest of the fall garden. I sliced them up and sautéed them in vegetable oil and minced garlic. Delicious.

Okra is actually one of the easiest vegetables in the world to grow. It's drought and heat tolerant, it grows in sandy or clay soil, and it is self-pollinating despite the beautiful flowers. It continuously produces, so you will want at least five plants, and as long as you keep picking the young pods, it keeps on making more. It's originally from Ethiopia, so it laughs in the face of what we consider to be "hot" weather here in south Texas.

I am going to plant more of it with the spring garden in April, and it will likely be the only plant I can harvest before, during, and after the July-August heat.

For now I am enjoying the flowers and looking forward to seeing how many pods they will make before it gets too cold. Gumbo anyone?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Buggered Corn

The corn has literally been buggered to death

Okra flower

For the past three weeks, my corn has been steadily consumed by tiny caterpillars, and I have been too busy with school to do anything about it. The little buggers were deep down in the stalk eating the new leaves before they even unravelled! There were certain measures I was prepared to go to in order to protect the delicate stalks. I suppose I could have sprayed them with any combination of my organic pesticides, but most of the corn just wasn't doing well enough to warrant such extremes. This afternoon I pulled it all up and buried it in the compost. The corn roast party has officially been delayed until the spring harvest. Bugger!

I am also worried about the okra. It's doing great for the moment, blooming and making pods, but it will probably be the first to go when the really cool weather comes. It will be interesting to see how much longer I have until I have to pull that up too. I think I will wait until it either completely stops growing or I find something better suited to cold temperatures.

I am not all that disappointed since the garden space where the corn was has now been filled with a more suiting (and more healthy) fall-weather crop. Broccoli and cauliflower have joined the lineup, and in a couple weeks so will mesclun lettuce.

Newly transplanted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Friday, September 12, 2008

Photolog 9/12/2008

Wow look at all the growth! Let's hope we get a nice soaking from Ike!

New this week:
+Black eyed peas have flowered and are making pods
+All the snap peas have sprouted
+First okra fruit has set!

Snap Pea sprouts

Black-eyed pea pods

Okra pod

Friday, September 5, 2008

Photolog: 9/5/08

Photolog, it's a post you will probably see every week that has up to date pics of what's going on in the garden. These blogs are mostly for myself so I can prove that things are indeed growing. I figure I should post them because there might be someone else out there who might be excited by the fact that my tomato plants are growing 4 inches in a week...

New this week:
+Everything is now mulched with Hardwood Mulch (except the tomatoes, which still have plenty of straw)
+Planted Garlic
+Planted Spinach (might be a little early)
+Planted Snow Peas
+Planted Snap Peas
+Hung red Christmas ornaments on the tomatoes to fool the birds

Snap Pea sprout
Juliet grape tomatoes!