I have declared war on crepe myrtles. I know they probably don't deserve it, but I have this thing about plants that everybody has. And down here, everybody has crepe myrtles. It's like monoculture landscaping, and it can't be good for the bees. Anyway, the thing about crepe myrtles is that if they are sufficiently ignored for long enough, they will create many, many volunteer trees, most of them in places they have no business growing. And the other thing about crepe myrtles is that many people regard them as bushes and plant them accordingly, smack up next to the house in the front flower bed. But the crepe myrtle is a tree, and if you ignore it (sufficiently), it will turn into a tree, and there goes your gutter. Our neighbor has a gorgeous, huge crepe myrtle in her front yard, but most crepe myrtles are never given that amount of space or time. Instead, they're planted in the wrong places and then cruelly topped. All of which is to say that I spent a beautiful late summer day wielding a pair of giant pruning shears against dozens of juvenile crepe myrtles growing in every single landscaped bed we have. I even bravely made a start on the two trees in the front of the house that make eerie, creaky noises against the gutters when the wind blows. Those, I'm afraid, will require a hacksaw.
I'm working on crepe myrtles because my garden is defunct. When we came home from visiting my parents Labor Day weekend, one of my bean towers was blown over and the other was leaning drunkenly. It's not like I got a lot of beans out of them anyway. Time now to get another load of dirt for the raised beds and plant some fall crops, like lettuce and kale.
The blackberry bushes are bearing nicely, especially considering that this is their first year. I love blackberries. I often wonder about our big blackberry bush in the garden in New York. Hurricane Irene devestated Schoharie County, but our old house was not in the way of the worst floodwaters. Still, I wonder, did all the water coming down that hill demolish the orchard? What about the blackberry bush?
This is the risk of planting things. A piece of you stays in the ground, too.
Which is to say, we have been horrified by the news coming out of upstate New York. Some of Andy's coworkers lost their homes. The towns that formed the place we called home for 5 years are some of them completely obliterated. It's all very surreal when you're this far away and friends send you photos and videos. You just thank God that there was no loss of human life.
Because I am a worrier, I wondered what Tropical Storm Lee would do if it dumped 10 inches of rain on my parents' house. If the power went out, would we have enough food to feed our big family? Was there enough Chunky Soup in the pantry?
These are the things that will keep you up at 3 AM when you're trying to sleep in the 6 inches of space left on the bed beside the baby.
Fortunately for us, the rain and wind weren't that bad, although it was cold for the second week in September -- unheard of cold! 60 degrees and raining! -- and a dead tree did fall across the sidewalk. Of course they had to evacuate again in upstate New York.
On our way home, we drove out of the rain into sunshine. The rain gauge in our front flower bed held less than a half inch of rain. The azaelas in back look wilty and parched in spite of the cooler weather.
And the wildfires in Texas... good night. My dad says this is how they make averages: floods and droughts cancel each other out.
Well, this didn't start out as the natural disaster Seven Quick Takes, but I guess it's been on my mind. I went to Costco the day after we got back and stocked up on some things we were out of, or almost out of: canned salmon, olive oil, paprika. (I guess sometimes I use a lot of paprika.) They had tortellini, which I should have bought more of in case they don't have any when I go back, and I also saw organic strawberry spread, which I haven't seen in a year. So I bought 3 jars. If we were to have to eat out of the pantry now, our meals would consist of nut and seed butters, salmon, canned beans, tomatoes, pineapple, Goldfish crackers, and strawberry jam.
In case you're wondering, I am still eating grain-free as much as possible. In a little over a year, I've lost about 50 pounds. 20 pounds was cheating because it was baby weight, but 30 pounds was baby weight x the 6 previous babies. I am getting to the point where I have been forced to buy new clothes. I miss bread and my corn allergy annoys the heck out of me because I can't eat corn on the cob or Chinese food at a restaurant because there's cornstarch in the sauces, but otherwise, I'm ok eating this way. My kids, however, are not. Having enough meat on hand to fill them up with a grain-free dinner is a real problem, especially considering that my 14 month old has begun eating the same amount as the 4 year old or the 5 year olds. That said, I saw a lot of benefits to the kids with grain-reduced eating, and I want to reduce the grains they're eating again, but I can't seem to stop feeding them toast for breakfast.