Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Confused Tomato: The Legacy

Once upon a time, I planted a tomato upside-down. It was not pleased. There was denial, there was determination; there was even a victory of sorts. But there wasn't a whole lot of actual tomatoes.

Things are a little different now.

I wasn't sure that this side of the bay, with its fog exposure, was going to be any good for growing tomatoes, but I was determined to try.

So were they.

In retrospect, I may not have needed to plant quite so many.

Thanks to the general weirdness of the climate around here (woo! Fogust is over!), the season is only now getting started, and most of my harvest so far has been the hybrid cherry tomatoes (sweet 100s).

See? They're just shy.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed by now that none of these plants are upside-down. That's because, thanks to Confused Tomato, I now know that tomatoes are strict conformists when it comes to gravity-orientation, and to try and force my media-derived notions of technological progress on them is never going to end well.

They don't mind the occasional stake, though, and they're not afraid to get outside of the box.

We all need a little help making our way up sometimes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Brief Tour of My New Office

Since it will never be this clean again.

Needs more bookshelves.

1. Poster to cover oversized mirror on the wall.
2. Oversized mirror.
3. Hat.
4. My grandmother's roll-top desk.
5. Chair the cat is supposed to sit on.
6. Chair the cat actually sits on.
7. Reading couch.
8. Seedling starts for the garden. (Mostly cabbage.)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

I Would Also Accept Shrubbery

I recently was in Santa Fe, where I had a chance to visit the Georgia O'Keefe museum. It's a lovely place and I highly recommend it. They, quite reasonably, have a lot of restrictions on taking pictures of the paintings, but none at all for the quotes posted on the wall.

This is about painting, obviously, but I think it applies equally well to story ideas.

And this one I could just relate to in general.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Had Democracy Once. It Was Awful

Recently we had the occasion to go out of town for an anniversary trip, because it was our anniversary. Which was great for us, but less so for Rumpole, our cat, who had to spend an extended weekend in kitty jail.

It's actually a nice place, with play time and people who like cats very much, and they always send you a picture at some point (or, as Cam calls it "proof of life"). This month, they even had a cute thematic set for it.

Rumpole was not amused.

"A teddy bear? Are you people kidding me?"

I think this needs to be a campaign poster for his run for political office, but I'm having trouble coming up with a slogan. ("Rumpole For Emperor: Kiss the Paw"?)

(Post title reference here for those of you who don't spend your time following memes.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Now, What?

In case anyone is wondering/has noticed my extended absence from this space, I thought I should take a moment to drop in and explain. At the end of last month I was laid off from my job (along with about a third of the other people at our site) (some of whom were then un-fired) (but not me), and thanks to a quirk in the severance process I stand to lose out on a bunch of money if I take another job before September. So I have been spending my surprise vacation working madly on finishing my book, puttering around in the garden and not updating my blog because I'm not sure what I think of all this yet.

One thing I do know, though: You get a lot of figs off a fig tree. So many figs.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Monday, May 06, 2013

Gardening Accessories of the Rich and Stupid

Do you want the satisfaction of tending your own garden plot, but are afraid you might not be able to spend sufficiently ridiculous amounts of money and/or look stupid enough while doing it? Well, fear not! Capitalism has you covered.

For starters, you're going to need some tools.

Shime Garden Tools, $1250
You provide the sticks. (Seriously.) The primary downside of purchasing this set is that, if you do, a farmer from the 1860s will appear on your doorstep and punch you in the face.

Or, if that seems like too much of a commitment, you could always start by just buying a shovel:
Orion long handled spade, $258
Solid copper, so your plants won't get arthritis.

And what if you like the look of old garden tools but would rather sit on them than use them?

Antique garden tool chair, $4100
Free tetanus shot with purchase!

Or maybe you have moved to a "transitional" neighborhood that is still in the part of the transition where people pile industrial scrap in their yards, and you want to fit in, but not too much:
Bozeman furnace, $2100

Once you've settled in, you'll want to invite some friends over, maybe play some bocce:
Bocce ball set, $298
You'll need a tub for drinks:
Vintage grape crate, $398
Somewhere for people to sit:
"Weathered" regency chair, $1800
And some sort of pointless little garden cupboard:
Driftwood Cabinet, $2400
There ain't no party like a pointless little cupboard party.

But really, when you come down to it, the garden is your space, to grow flowers and food and maybe even raise some chickens in a ludicrously expensive coop that looks like the abandoned craft project of a drunk four-year-old:
Chicken coop, $3000
(You know you're doing something wrong when you're making Williams-Sonoma's offerings look sane and reasonable by comparison.)

Friday, April 05, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thurscheese: Truffle Moliterno

All hail the champion!

Truffle Moliterno. Winner: Best Cheese

Granted, like most championships these days, this one was won with the help of an enhancing substance. In this case: A whole heaping bunch of ground up truffle. Not a light coat of truffle oil, not a sprinkling of dried powder, just deep veins of the stuff running through an otherwise pleasant firm sheep's-milk cheese and elevating it to almost obscene decadence. You can smell it through the plastic wrap. You can practically smell it through the refrigerator door. This is not a bad thing.*

So, while the other cheeses write irate op-ed pieces about the need for improved testing standards, I'll just be over here, truffling it up.

*It has been alleged that I emitted some sort of appreciative noises while consuming it, however these claims remain unsubstanciated.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Off Plum

As we move deeper into spring, the plum tree has stopped flowering:

See you next year, flowers.

And started plumming:
The early fruit often comes in out of focus.

It seems to be developing a lot of plums:
Look closely; they're there.

Looks like I'm going to have to come up with things to do with them:
I'll also need to plant some peppers.
The fig tree is also starting to get its act together:
Figging out.

And the greens remain well-defended:
No kale left behind!

Next time, on As the Garden Turns: More boxes, endless weeding (so. . . much. . . weeding), The War On Aphids, the great avocado dream.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

What's That Smell?

After all these years of choosing my scents by how much I like the bottle, or whether it has my name, or how much the department store lady intimidates me, or whether Abigail hates it*, I have gotten actually interested in perfumes. I'm not sure what caused it (best guess-- delayed response to long-ago posts by the former Miss Plumcake), but I'm having fun.

Specifically, I'm having fun ordering small samples of various perfumes (they run about $5 each, which I agree is silly, but not that much in the grand scheme of things), trying them out and deciding what I think of them. At some point I will probably order, but for now I plan to enjoy the exploration. I highly recommend you do the same, if you're so inclined. Here are some of the ones I've tried so far:

What We Do In Paris Is Secret, A Lab On Fire-- I'm going to admit right up front that my selections are still based on names and bottles as much as anything. Because it's the internet and you can't smell them, and I'm no good at guessing whether I'll like something based on its list of "notes." So: Well done with the naming, people.

As far as the perfume itself, it's nice. (That's right; this is the kind of highly technical perfume criticism you can expect here.) Light and appealingly feminine, but not something that really stuck with me, either in how long it seemed to last or the impression that it made.

Tzora, Anat Fritz-- This, on the other hand, is nothing like what I would think I would like, but I find it really appealing. And it lasts forever-- I put on the same small amount I used of all the others, but I found myself going back and repeatedly sniffing my wrist throughout the day. Which I realize is wandering over into "creepy" territory, but at least it smells nice there.

Fun fact: When I went back to look at the ingredient list, I noticed that it had patchouli (or "patchouly" which I guess is also a word?) in it, and I had to come back and delete a line about how that was something I hated, because I obviously don't. Live and learn.

At the Beach 1966, CB I Hate Perfume-- Amazingly evocative of exactly what it says (though I'd say the datedoesn't need to be that precise, because the moment it took me too was a good twenty years later)-- Coppertone sunscreen and the ocean. But maybe it shouldn't be tried on in February, or maybe it's just that the happy times it invokes are so firmly in the past, because wearing it made me more sad than anything. And I couldn't help wondering-- wouldn't you get the same effect by just putting on the sunscreen? Plus, you'd be wearing sunscreen.

Opus III, Amouage-- Made almost no impression at all. It appears to be a perfume, with a scent, but despite having tried it on twice that's about all I could tell you about it.

Le Tabac, L'Antichambre-- For my second round I ordered the assortment from this line, and was pulling them out at random until I came down with this cold, which has prevented me from functioning as a normal human being and/or smelling anything. But I tried this one before the snot-wall descended and it does really smell like tobacco. Really nice tobacco, but still. I just am not that comfortable with smelling like two months worth of cigars, even very expensive ones.

*At some point in the past we discovered that we have diametrically-opposed perfume tastes, and ever since any conversation about them has included something like "Ugh, I hate this. Here."

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Taking It Outside

February, spring-- potato, po-tah-to.

Early blooms on our plum tree
When we last saw the sprouts, they were getting dangerously close to outgrowing their containers. Fortunately, I was able to find them an area with a bit more space.

The back yard, in its natural state.
Unfortunately, said space is next to a house that was built in 1905, which happens to be about 73 years before people realized that putting lead in all your exterior paint might be in some way a bad idea. We had the soil tested and, while it isn't hugely contaminated, we're mostly growing leafy greens at this point, which are the most likely to pick up lead and pass it on, so we invested in a raised bed kit.

Not pictured: 10 bags of soil, roll of chicken wire, weed cloth.
I am not what is traditionally considered "handy" (as Cameron pointed out when I decided, after watching an evening's worth of HGTV, that I wanted a nail gun, "You regularly almost kill yourself drinking tea." Which I had to admit is a compelling argument). So the good news was that the instructions here were 'dig holes in the ground, put the posts in the holes, put the boards in the slots in the posts.' The bad news was that the strata of our yard seem to be as follows:
1. Weeds.
2. Dirt*. (*may contain lead)
3. Various things, including but not limited to chunks of concrete, broken pottery, glass

I'm just hoping our house isn't on an ancient Indian construction site.

At any rate, I did finish it eventually.
Overdramatic lens flare optional, but recommended.
The plants on either side are blueberry bushes, because fruiting plants have very little lead danger and I like blueberries.

It took longer than I expected to get everything in, and by the end I was being eaten by mosquitoes (Yes, in February. No, I don't understand either.), so this picture was taken at a later date. But I think you get the general idea.
Someday we will eat these.
Up next: Beans and lemons! Not a serving suggestion.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just a Little Off the Top

Let's check in on the garden, shall we?

The chard is starting to look like chard:

We got the heirloom "sideways" variety.

The favas have joined the party:

And the edamame came along too:

The lettuces have been particularly enthusiastic:

So much so that I decided to free up some space by clipping some leaves (I cut a bunch, I swear):
(Makes about 1/5th of a salad.)

Up next: The great outdoors!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Ugly Clothes for Rich People XII

Hopping onto the single origin trend, I present to you a selection culled entirely from one store. You get a much better sense of the terroir, don't you think?

Comme des Garcons cape, $1850
Fun prank: At some point during the day, suddenly look down and scream, "My arms! What happened to my arms!"
Ann Demeulemeester pants, $675
Look, if you can't figure out how to make a pair of pants, there's no shame in asking for help.

Junya Watanabe dress, $765
The fashion industry, having now used all of the conventional style icons approximately ten thousand times, has been forced to turn to your grandfather for inspiration.

Comme des Garcons skirt, $655
For only six hundred and fifty-five dollars, they will sell you a $40 skirt and tell you to put it on backwards. Because: Fashion!

Lavin dress, $3,470
Yep, you just paid more than three grand for an item that is basically indistinguishable from the bikini-body t-shirts they sell at the beach. Your mother must be so proud.

Balmain t-shirt
Look at this t-shirt. Eh, it looks fine. It's a t-shirt. What's there to get so excited about?

Okay, now look at it:
Balmain t-shirt, $665