Warm Moments

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Luke and I have a favorite spot. It’s probably the ugliest spot on our property. In fact, before Luke was born I just pretended that it wasn’t there because it faced a fairly busy street and was in sorry shape. But when I’m sitting out on our front steps with Luke (sometimes others join us), on the crappy old concrete steps with tiny patches of green carpet that must have been there before we bought the house, it becomes the best seat in the house.

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We watch the cars, calm down if one of us is getting cranky (Luke), and wave to passers by. The steady stream of cars provides audible and visual meditation. It’s a nice place to just enjoy being.

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I’d say on average we spend about 30 minutes each day sitting on the steps. Sometimes it’s early the morning as we watch the traffic pick up, late morning when people are out walking, early afternoon when Luke’s somewhere between awake and ready for a nap (there are days when the nap starts on the steps), and evening as we watch the sun fall behind the trees. Never mid-late afternoon though, the sun is just too intense on the steps during those hours.

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This morning Luke and I were on the porch bright and early. It was a little bit crisp outside in the mid-50s so we wrapped a blanket around us. Luke drank his bottle while I observed a tree that had been taken down yesterday several houses away (we saw them sawing off the branches as we sat on the steps yesterday early afternoon). The cars were just starting to appear, the whole scene was perfection. I started to feel a warm sensation when I knowingly looked down and noticed that Luke had just peed through his diaper onto us. Ah well (insert a knowing grin here), I took that as a signal that it was time to go wake up Mike.

An Evening In the Yard

Wednesday morning I was out cutting some arugula for my friend Steve when I noticed some flower buds starting to form. Those buds + the impending string of hot days in the forecast meant one thing: my arugula was about to bolt. Cue a joke from Mike about not knowing that arugula had legs… Bolting actually means that the plant is going to flower, and the leaves will shortly thereafter dry up. The first year that I grew arugula, back in the Wilson house, I thought you could just leave it in the ground until you were ready to consume it – and it was there that I learned about bolting when I went out into the yard one day to a dried up patch of arugula.

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I believe that little piece of white fluff is where the flower is going to form

Learning from the past, I decided to harvest the rest of the arugula when I got home from work last night. I brought three bags to work for some arugula-loving co-workers and dropped a bag off at my parent’s house. So. Much. Arugula.

Thanks to all of the rain that we’ve been having and some new water-management equipment that I purchased prior to planting this year’s garden everything in the raised bed seems to be thriving (the tomatoes and blueberries are located in pots near the backdoor, and the vote is out on how well they’re doing since I have no experience with them – time will tell).

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In order bottom to top: miniature pumpkins, arugula, kale, mirco greens

About half of my pumpkin seeds sprouted – next step is to get them to flower. After that, we’ll have to see – that’s about as far as my pumpkins made it last summer before dying.

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Pumpkin plants

The arugula is a small forest, and as usual, is doing the best.

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Forest of arugula

I think the kale is almost large enough to start cutting. I’m excited to see how it tastes in comparison to the stuff in our refrigerator.

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Kale

And lastly, the not-so-micro, micro greens. With the week+ of daily rain these took off before I could cut them while they were 2 inches tall. I might plant another batch to actually cut in time, but I’m curious what would happen if I let this batch continue to grow. Micro greens are a mix of other types of vegetables that are intended to be cut in their earliest stages and added to salads and such for concentrated flavor.

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Micro greens

Having a water timer has been one part my lifeline in adequate watering. This way I can just set it (I usually set it for 30-60 minutes) and walk away to go something else and know that my plants are getting plenty of water. The one that I bought (pictured below) is pretty basic – but there are others on the market with more bells and whistles. As of right now, I have no gripes with mine – it’s done what I needed it to do, and for that I’ve got no complaints.

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Water timer – bought on Amazon.com, click to visit the product page

The other part of my watering system is the ‘weeping hose’ otherwise known as a soaker hose. The beauty in how these hoses work is that they just connect to your regular hose, you weave them throughout your garden, and they ‘weep’ water out of loose seams that drips right onto the roots of your plants – making it harder to lose water to evaporation and keeping the leaves from rotting. The soaker hose that I got works great, the only thing I wish I’d thought to do would be to have purchased a longer soaker hose. I bought a 25 foot soaker hose and think that with a 50 foot soaker hose more of my plants could get water from it (the plants along the soaker hose are thriving).

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The soaker hose in action. You can see it delivers the water where you need it and no where else. Click on the photo to get to the product link.

While I was busy in the garden, Mike was at the grill making dinner. I assumed he was grilling the usual brats and hamburgers, and was surprised when he lifted the grill lid to show me a beautifully golden Beer Can Chicken. It was fantastic and between the 2.33 of us, we consumed all of the meat off of the bird.

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For those of you not familiar with beer can chicken, you get a beer can chicken stand (usually about $10, you can find them on Amazon and probably in cooking stores). In the most basic sense, you put a half full can of beer in the stand and stick the chicken on top. Then it sits on the grill and you end up with a juicy, flavorful chicken. I’d recommend looking at instructions or a recipe for best results, Mike referenced a Beer Can Chicken cookbook for cooking temperatures and such, but overall found the process remarkably simple and straightforward.

All in all it was a wonderful evening spent on our back porch: great food, flowing conversation, beautiful weather and each other’s company 🙂

Side note: Steve has challenged Mike and I to plus-up the next Beer Can Chicken with the following modifications:

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Illustration courtesy of Steve Wilson