Saturday, January 22, 2011

They're here!

Last night, the Boyfriend and I walked to the mailbox together in a drizzling, cold rain that was supposed to manifest itself as a light shower later that evening. The weathermen were wrong--crazy, I know. He opened up the mailbox and amongst the bills, junk mail, and what have come to be weekly rejection of coverage letters from my insurance, there was a small package. A little bubble mailer stuffed full of happiness. Inside was my 2011 seed order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and all the happiness that comes from having thousands of baby plants in your hands all at once. The reality that only a few of those potential babies will grow up to fulfill their destinies doesn't squelch my happiness one iota.

What makes me even more excited is that seed planting time is already upon us. I've read that I can start my onion seeds anytime now. I am straight up looking for redemption this year when it comes to our onions. Did you hear about our onions last year?

We started them early and transplanted them into the cold frames. They did quite well right from the start. We thinned them out by eating green onions, which were fabulous. But we held off on pulling them all for green onions because we wanted some big, beautiful onion bulbs in the fall. We eat a lot of onion--sorry, we try to carry gum with us at all times. In any case, the onions got their spot in the raised bed all year. They occupied valuable real estate, but we knew it would all be worth it in the fall.

They grew and grew and grew. In fact, they kept growing when the tops were supposed to die and fall over. Still, we just thought we had the biggest onions in the valley. The Boyfriend finally pulled them out one day last fall when it was clear we couldn't wait for them much longer. This mysterious harvest process had been hugely gratifying up to this point. Pulling each garlic bulb out of the ground had been like a religious experience to me. When the Boyfriend harvested our fingerling potatoes, I squealed with delight and showed them to anyone who would feign interest. When he pulled the onions out of the ground, our streak was over. They looked like giant green onions or leeks. They didn't have a bulb at all. I had clearly done something horribly wrong with our onions. Thinking they were defective, we took them straight to the compost pile. I didn't even plan on planting them again this year.

Then, a few weeks ago I was flipping through my 2011 seed catalog and some text jumped out at me: "bunching onion . . . non-bulbing white type." Excuse me? There are non-bulbing onions? I ran out to look at my seed packet from last year. Right there on the back of the packet it said: "Does not form bulbs." I read for a living. Holy crap.

So, for 2011 I will plant and pick green onions from last year's seeds and try again to get those large, homegrown onions we were hoping for last year. I ordered "Ailsa Craig" onion seeds, a "well-known globe-shaped heirloom onion that reaches really huge size--5 lbs is rather common." I'm just shooting for globe-shaped.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Memories of other places

Last week I finally said goodbye to some old friends. They said nothing in return.

These friends were the dolls and stuffed animals of my childhood. They were the ones who had survived several previous rounds of donations. They had been stashed away in big Rubbermaid containers or placed lovingly on shelves in a room that has been empty for the better part of a decade. I never would have mustered up the gumption to do anything about them if Mom hadn't so thoughtfully dumped them off in our garage during the Great Purge of 2010.

As I pulled each doll or stuffed animal out of its plastic bin, 9 times out of 10 the toy's name popped into my head out of nowhere. I may not be able to remember where I put my cute brown shoes last week (yes, they're still missing), but I remember all the crazy names of those toys. Us only children have to find companionship in the places we can, you know.

The timing was horrible. The Boyfriend and I had just watched the latest Toy Story movie. As I transferred these beautiful toys, one by one, into large garbage bags for donation, I thought of so many wonderful memories. And of course I heard them screaming for help a la Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

The one that particularly struck me was Margaret--a blonde-haired doll with a blue, flowered dress that looked to have come from the Amish book of fashion. She tagged around with Raggedy Ann and Andy but undoubtedly always felt like the odd-man out. In any case, her leg was still in a cast fashioned from athletic tape from her days as a patient during hospital. It was extra hard to say goodbye to her.

A few got to stay--but only a few. I could too easily be one of those people that looks around them one day and says, "but what if I need that newspaper from 1991?" I'm too sentimental. But what I realized with Margaret is that it's the memories that are important.

The last stuffed animal to face the chopping block was Benji. He looked so cute with his fur all disheveled, either from being well-loved or crammed in a box for a decade or both. I couldn't get rid of him, so in some perverse act of love I gave him to the dogs as a new stuffed animal toy. I knew Kira would love the size of him. His little belly would (and does) fit just perfect in her mouth.

I think Benji wishes he would have been donated.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

The Boyfriend and I rang in the New Year by staying up until 12:30 a.m., and that was reason enough to celebrate! We chugged a glass of champagne and toasted to the fact that it would be another year before we had to stay up that late again.

The New Year has started off just the way I had hoped--lots of relaxing, eating, and spending time with the Boyfriend and my parents. We ate yums yums, potato salad, and marshmallow-mandarin orange-pineapple "salad"--salad is used here in the midwest sense that it's not a main dish, but you'd probably be better off to eat it for dessert. It's kind of a New Years Day traditional meal, which always makes me laugh because everything about it screams middle of summer to me. But I love it all the same and am happy to indulge.

Speaking of the middle of summer, I thought I'd post a few pics of our harvest from the fall. It is currently 12 degrees F, with a "feels like" temperature of 2. Here's to dreams of sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil . . .