Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Squash Bug Boogie"?

This "recipe" for ridding my garden of squash bugs was sent to me by an unnamed person.
I might try it--at midnight when the neighbors are asleep.

1. Stand in the squash/ pumpkin/potato patch.

2. Play your favorate boogie music very loud.

3. Stomp to the music for 15 minutes or until the last bug leaves.

4. Look to make sure that the neighbors haven't called the white suits.

This works, believe it or not. They may return after awhile but just repaeat the application until they get the message...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Aug. 28, 2009 - Fall plantings and squash bugs

The squash bugs invaded the zucchini, pumpkins, and cantaloupe. Thankfully, we already got a lot of zucchini and delicious cantaloupe. The pumpkins will be moldy by October. Live and learn. Next year I doubt I'll use up the room and my energy fighting squash bugs on the pumpkin plants. Little did I know that others have had the same problem. I'll leave the pumpkin growing to the pumpkin farms.
The fall crop of peas are ten inches tall, planted from harvested and dried peas from the spring crop that went into late July.
Planted more lettuce and spinach a few weeks ago, maybe too early, but hopefully it will withstand this late August heat wave of 97 degree days with a nip of all in the late evenings and early mornings here in Central Washington. Today, it's 9:30 a.m. and 80 degrees already. So much for the fall nip.
Today, I planted more turnips and collards, as well as an experimental few brussels sprouts, which I was told will produce until winter?
Also, planted four more Russian Sage in the extended garden for habitat for the friendly bugs and to beautify a very dry cracked piece of earth down our driveway. Will plant more sage and complementary lavender to add to the eight or nine lavender, six grasses, several yarrow, and three other Russian Sage. I hope you bugs are happy now and will keep the vegetable garden relatively bug free next year

Saturday, August 22, 2009

“Genealogy is interesting, but at my great age it gets confusing.” Sybil (Tyler) Sharp, age 100, August 22, 2009.

For years I recorded mom reciting memories of her life and ancestors. I had the recordings that were on tiny fragile cassette tapes copied onto CDs and gave my brother and nephew a copy. I recorded her in her 80s and 90s, and once in her 70s. We've gone through photos and I've written names and dates and relationships on the back of the photos.
I finally stopped recording and just listened to the stories. The dates got blurred, people once married to one person were now married to someone else.
I exaggerate. But I did realize that going back over it all was probably not necessary. So I stopped.
But then it became clear that she was still able to tell a good story. Sometimes she needs a little redirecting, but then will come up with a name, a date, a place--or a story. Lately she gets confused if I ask too many questions.
Today I asked her to think of the name of her great great maternal grandparents. She touched my leg and said, "let me think about it." Tomorrow she'll probably have the answer.
I realized she could be a resource for others with whom we have ancestors in common. How many people have a 100-year-old lucid relative. Not many.
Today I also asked her about her grandmother Iantha Scoville Tyler.
She remembers her grandmother Iantha as a "very very cold person," who never gave her any love.
Then I had a story for her, one that she didn't know. Because of research I had been doing on the genealogy, I learned that her great grandmother Lydia, Iantha's mother, had given birth to eight children. From 1841 to 1853 she lost five sons and one daughter, all between the age of one and two.
Then Iantha was born, and lived. Then another daughter, Theodora. Then Lydia's husband, William Holly Scoville, died when Theodora was three and Iantha was five. How does one bear up under that kind of grief? Apparently, she didn't, because then she died, too.
How this must have affected Iantha and Theodora.
I told mom that most certainly her grandmother, who was left an orphan to be raised by an uncle, had good reason to be a little reserved.
Hopefully I was able to give my mother new insights about a woman who she felt was never there for her in the way she would have liked.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Those that do, and those that don't

Just like when Jared was two and I was tuned into other mothers with a two-year-old, now I'm tuned in to people who are caretaking their parents. I notice the 50 and 60-something women taking their moms to the market. Many of our friends have aging parents. That's the generation we are. It's also what you do. It's how you do it that has changed.
My niece in-law, Nga, asked me recently if I had ever considered moving mom into my house. Yes and no, I said. Mom lived with me for eight months when she was 83, I was 46, and Jared was 9. It didn't work very well. She moved into a retirement home, I moved into my bedroom that she had been using, and we all got on with our lives much more peacefully. Besides that, she didn't need my care. She wanted companionship and involvement in our lives. She still got that, but we all had more space to breathe.
Now it's really not much different. Mom, at 100, still wants her independence as long as she can keep it. She is still able to get herself up to the bathroom in the night after the caregiver leaves. As long as she can do that, she'll stay where she is.
And once she needs full-time care, I wouldn't move her here. It wouldn't work for any of us. My role is to visit, take her to doctor's appointments, make decisions, pay bills, and care for her needs...and then go home.
In Nga's culture, Vietnamese, mom and dad move in. Nga's four brothers took care of her parents when they were old.
Our culture, and my family, are more fragmented. My brother and one nephew are in Southern California. My son is in Seattle. Another nephew is in Australia. None are available to offer more than peripheral support. They love their mom and grandma, but no way would any of them take on the responsibility of having grandma live with them.
By default, one child in a family ends up as caretaker. They are fortunate when siblings participate, as do my brother and his wife. They offer verbal support, call mom, help with hard decisions, and come visit when they can. Is it enough? Not always, but it is what it is, and I carry no resentment toward them.
I don't always like this role as caretaker and its attendant responsibilities...but it's a privilege.
I just hope someone considers it a privilege to take care of me when the time comes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"What am I going to do without this old lady?"

Those were the words of Arabella Hicks, protagonist in "The Fiction Class," a book I was reading in the waiting room at the Yakima Heart Center. Arabella was referring to her mother she visits each week in a nursing home. Arabella has a challenging relationship with her mother, but recognizes the love between them.

I wept.

I was waiting for mom while she had an ultrasound to determine whether or not she had blood clots in her legs. The day before we were there to determine whether or not she was eligible for surgery to open up her arteries to increase blood flow to reduce swelling and pain.

Nothing life-prolonging, just comfort measures.

We discovered she does not need surgery, but should be wearing support hose, which she wore every day until a wound on her leg wouldn't heal. Her primary doctor had decided a vascular scan was important, which led to unnecessary speculation about the pros and cons of surgery for a 100-year-old woman and the advice to not wear her hose because of the vascular disease. We requested a consult with a specialist, thus the visit to the Heart Center to see a cardiologist.

The visit to the center the day before lasted two and a half hours, punctuated by brief visits, first from an intake nurse who mom couldn't hear, then a nurse who did a quick EKG, then a physician's assistant, who was in awe that mom was 100, and finally, the cardiologist who told her first about how Dick Cheney came to Yakima and the Secret Service interviewed him because he was on-call at the hospital at the time of Cheney's visit.

Mom interrupted him and said, "So, what about surgery?"

He first said, "I just want to say, 'it's an honor to meet you.'"

I sometimes feel like mom is a rock star and I'm her manager, orbiting around her little world, making sure everything goes as planned.

After he told us about the encounter with the secret service officer, who by the way, "was built like a fireplug," mom told him that a doctor once told her that she had "one of those hearts that would beat forever."

I thought, "really, I believe it."

The doc told her she didn't need surgery, but she did need to reduce the swelling in her legs and prescribed physical therapy at a lymphedema clinic (been there, done that, but here we go again). He also prescribed a medicine that he cautioned me about.

"If she gets confused, stop it immediately."

After I dropped mom off, I called my brother on my way to the store to buy a six-pack. I told him all about the visit and that the recommendation about surgery was off-course, that her problem was the lymphedema. I told him about the drug and we hung up.

A few minutes later I called back and said, "I forgot to tell you about the drug he prescribed for mom."

My brother said, "You mean the one that causes confusion."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Genealogy tales

My Aunt Marge compiled the Goudey and Porter genealogies (paternal grandparents) some years back and distributed them among the relatives. I have looked at it over the years, marveling at my ancestors longevity in the 1600s, noting where they lived, when they moved from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia, and how closely connected we all really are.
But one thing had me puzzled in the Porter genealogy. James Porter (son of Hezediah II, who was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia), was born in Deerfield, Portage, Ohio in 1789. Suddenly Hezediah got a hankering to head to Ohio? James's 11 children are also born in Deerfield, Portage, Ohio.
According to Marge, my great great grandfather, Ebenezer Corning Porter, was also born in Deerfield, Portage, Ohio. But oops, his son, my great grandfather Titus Hurlburt was born in Deerfield, Yarmouth. This was just strange.
Finally, yesterday, I came upon a Web site constructed by Ken Goudey. He had a page on "other immigrants," including the Porters.
Aha. James was born, as were his children, in Ohio, all right. But not Ohio, the state, but a tiny town named Ohio, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I googled Ohio, Yarmouth, and there it was, including Deerfield just up the road. An addendum on James pedigree says he bought land near Hooper's Lake and Salmon River. Also up the road from Ohio.
Somehow my aunt got it all mixed up. But genealogy is not a one-time, it's-all-done sort of thing. It takes persistence to figure it all out, and then you only have pieces of it, primarily because the female genealogy was rarely recorded.
I emailed my cousin Cheryl, and her son, Tom, who has been working on the family genealogy. She wrote back and said, "You're a good detective. Now find our Mayflower connection." Right.
In the process of solving one mystery, another mystery was also solved. A woman I plan to meet in Foxborough, Mass. is my relative on the Goudey and Porter side. Our great great grandfathers, Ebenezer Porter and Moses Porter, were brothers, traced back to John and Mary Porter, who landed in Hingham, Mass. in 1635 or so. Both our grandmother Porters married Goudeys. Our Goudey line can be traced back to George Goudey, who landed in America in 1735 with wife, Elizabeth Morgan, who is buried at Marblehead, Mass.
Clear as mud, but worth slogging through it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Frozen Tomatos

I have so many tomatoes I'm not sure what to do with them. Ben doesn't seem that interested in them, even if I say, "Hey, why not slice that beautiful tomato and put it on top of your pizza."No, he suggests I make tomato sauce."Not to add to your work," he adds.But I googled how to freeze tomato sauce and found a great recipe. Cook, pulverize, freeze. My kind of recipe.Today was cooler than it's been in weeks.As I sat at my desk a breeze on my back brought the smell of rain. Not much rain, but enough to wash the leaves and remind me fall is coming all too soon.

Time travels

I've been researching my genealogy, preparing for our trip east the end of September, traveling in time to Salem, Hingham, Wenhem, Roxbury, Andover and Marblehead in what was once the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where my paternal and maternal ancestors gathered in the 1600 and 1700s.
I always get a little nervous before I fly so researching the lives of my ancestors gives me a little perspective.
John and Mary Porter arrived in 1635 in Hingham Bay, MA, on the boat the Susan and Ellen, immigrating from England to a far-off shore on a tiny ship to start a new life. Once in Hingham, they settled for awhile, but eventually migrated north to the Salem area, making a life I can barely imagine.
Their grandson, John Porter II, lived a robust life to 95 and had 11 children, whose average age at death was 87. A couple of his children lived to 100. The lineage of his wife, Lydia Herrick, can be traced back to the 1400s in England, unusual for the women in the genealogies.
John and Lydia's son, Nehemiah, moved to Nova Scotia and was 92 when he died. His grandson Hezediah was 96 when he died, leaving 9 children, 61 grandchildren, 108 grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild.
George and Elisabeth Goudey landed in Marblehead, MA in 1735. His son, James, was the first Goudey to head to Yarmouth. His descendants, including my grandparents, were born mostly in Port Maitland, a tiny coastal village near Yarmouth, where my grandfather caught lobster by simply overturning rocks. Not these days.
The Porters met up with the Goudeys and all the other relatives (remember the women were all descended from someone, too.) all of whom had gone seeking a new life in Nova Scotia.
Meanwhile, the Tylers, my maternal ancesters, were making a life in Andover, Woburn, or Roxbury, all in the vicinity of the Porters and the Goudey's before heading to Michigan.
I'd love to know Elizabeth Goudey and Mary Porter, who arrived on these shores in small ships, leaving a life they had known for the unknown in every sense of the word.
Surely, I can invoke their spirit to make a trip east in an airplane without being nervous.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Evangeline's trail

When my mother was in eighth grade she memorized 22 lines from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline. Over the years, she would recite the lines, impressing me always that she could continue, into her 90s, to remember what she had learned at 12.
Today we talked about Evangeline again. Ben and I are traveling to my paternal grandparents' birthplace in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in October. I told her about our reservations at a B&B just off Highway 1, the Evangeline Trail. I asked her if she knew the history and she said, "Oh yes, the...who are they, now?...they were expelled from Nova Scotia."
I went to get her copy of "Evangeline," from the bookshelf. It was published in 1909 the year my mother was born, and given to her for Christmas 1918 by her Uncle Dan. The historical preface says, "in so far as it is inspired by facts, Longfellow's Evangeline is based on the historic event known as the 'expulsion of the Acadians' from Nova Scotia in 1755."
"Oh, that's right, the Acadians," she said.
Once again, at my behest, she recited those lines. Her facility of expression, her near perfect diction, her sparkling eyes reminds me how blessed she is, how blessed I am, that she has her mind and wits about her.
Then she said, "I used to have instant recall."
I laughed and said, "I've never had instant recall."
In spite of all the drama surrounding the daily business of attending to a centenarian, my mother's life is a gift to me.

Tomatoes, To-MA-toes, Potatoes, Po-TA-toes

Yesterday Ben and I went up to visit our friends, Paul and Katie, in Ellensburg, Washington, a 45 minute drive from our home in Selah.
The intended purpose of the trip was to collect a camper they had given us so that when we could follow them into bear country and not get eaten in our tent.
I wasn't particularly gracious about the gift, and for that I apologize, Paul and Katie. But something told me this was a debacle in the making. But Ben was determined. As it turned out, the camper didn't fit the truck and we revised our goal for the afternoon.
They hitched up their trailer to their truck and we took off up a canyon not far from their home, seeking relief from the 96 degree heat. It was 95 when we arrived at a favorite spot of theirs, but a breeze, shade and pine trees, offered an illusion of coolness. We drank beer, barbequed hamburgers, drank wine and then gin and tonics (I abstained from the G&T's) and talked gardening among other things.
Paul is a gardener from way back, helping his mom tend a "survival" garden at their Mossy Rock, Washington, homestead as he was growing up. It was hard work. Gardening always is, but when you seriously depend on it for your daily fare, it takes on a whole different meaning.
But out of that he developed a love of gardening. Katie grew up in Ellensburg and has gardened much of her life as well.
They grow potatoes above ground. They lay the potato eye on the ground and then cover it with mulch: chicken manure, straw, whatever. The potato plants are beautiful and produce an abundant crop. Mine look like someone went through the row with a torch. Brown leaves, skinny stalks. Not sure what crop we'll get, but next year I'll use their method.
We also got to talking about the "little people," who Paul and Katie believe inhabit the forests and seashores--and our gardens, which is one reason they say I have a successful garden. I don't doubt their sightings, but I've never seen little people. However, I've been honoring the natural way of things by refusing to spray, allowing for attrition to the vegetable-hungry bugs and creating habitat for the non-vegetarian bug who eats the vegetarian bugs. What a world.
Paul also recommended pruning the tomato plants. Little did I know, since I've not ever grown a tomato in any of the different gardens I've had. Cut the suckers off, even though it's painful, Paul said. I pruned the equivalent of a large tomato bearing plant today, and you can hardly tell I did anything. I also picked at least 20 ripe tomatoes, and the plants are loaded. We also put it a third stake, creating a triangle with string around the plants.
Today, I harvested two cantaloupe. I asked Paul and Katie yesterday how you tell when they are ripe. "By their smell," they said. Mine fell off the vine today while I was weeding. I thought that was a pretty good indication they were ripe.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beans, Beans, and More Beans

Beans. I don't really like beans all that much. String beans at Thanksgiving are great, with almond slices, just like mom used to make. But the rest of the year? Take them or leave them.
But, Mary, who helped envision this garden, said, "I like beans."
So we planted beans. Several rows of beans.
Then, about time to harvest the beans, Mary went off on a three-week trip to California to work on her masters degree and have fun "refreshing her soul."
She left me to refresh my soul staking, harvesting, washing, cutting, cooking, and freezing beans. Thanks, Mary. :)
But while she educates her mind about organizational dynamics I'm educating myself about gardening.
The main thing I've learned about beans is five-fold.
  • Stake beans early. Ben came out this morning at my behest and made stakes to hold up the bushes. In another row we tied string to stakes and started training the vines. The bushes had already collapsed on each other and I was pulling beans out of tangled stems.
  • Don't rely on the bush beans leaning against each other for support, and don't plant individual bean plants. They like company.
  • Read the package.
  • Don't plant carrots next to beans unless you wanted stunted carrots (that's my major lesson in this garden--three rows per bed next year, rather than four. I was greedy and suffering for it).
  • Make sure you like beans before planting them.
  • Make sure your gardening partner isn't on the beach in California at harvest.
Okay, I can't add, and I didn't do a lot right with the beans. Except for one thing.
This morning I harvested a sink-full of beans. Jacob, Mary's fourth oldest, called from Bellingham. He's there checking out Western University. I told him about the beans.
"Jacob, I don't even like beans."
He said, "Me either. Mom wanted the beans."
I have several choices.
  • Give the beans away
  • Feed them to the Mary's goats.
  • Eat a few and make compost.
  • Or, be a good friend and freeze Mary's beans for Thanksgiving dinner.
Take a guess which one it will be.