Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Garden in Distress

This year had started out so promising:
lots of rain and just the right amount of sun.

And then the rains stopped.

Just like that.

Never in all of my years of gardening have I ever experienced a spring drought.
This is not good.  Especially since many of our plants are still trying to recover from the severe drought we had two years ago.

 Even the native echinacea are wilted.*

*Disclaimer: I only water plants in pots in normal years and trees in drought years.
A plant has to be tough to survive in my garden.  I don't pamper any of my plants.  They survive or they're out of here.  Given the fact that my main garden lies on a severe southern facing slope that consists of very shallow soil (read a thin dusting of soil over limestone), any rain that does fall, either runs off immediately or doesn't stay around long.  

The best I can do is to build up the soil, but that takes time.
There is no magic bullet in gardening, folks.
Since I do have such adverse growing conditions in my garden, I have made a conscious effort to grow more native plants that are naturally suited to this climate and its quirks.

That certainly doesn't exempt them from feeling the pain in extreme weather, though.

 The dreaded Japanese beetles have hit with a vengeance.

They have practically denuded some of my roses.

 The goose neck loosestrife is severely wilted.

 It's looking sad.

 No, this isn't snow, this is grass.  It's dead grass.

Just a couple of days into summer.


At least we won't need to mow.

Hey, do you know how bad a drought is?

When even the weeds stop growing!

Yep, we're there.

 The butterfly bush out front is very unhappy.

 All right, I admit it.  We've been watering the hydrangea.

But with blooms this pretty, do you blame me?

As I said, we have been watering the pots.

The bush beans have been doing well and we got our first harvest this week.

Haricot verts.  Or young green beans.

Very tasty.

I planted four tomato plants in two large pots this year and we are being overrun with tomatoes.
We have already harvested our first tomatoes of the season.

Oh, and that greenhouse window to the right of the tomato plants?
I bought that off a neighbor at a garage sale for $5.  I plan to use it for a greenhouse for my potted herb plants to extend the growing season.

 But even in these darkest of times, there is life in the garden.

 A tiger swallowtail has been busy feeding on the butterfly bushes.

 As has a bumblebee.

 This guy proved a bit more elusive to photograph.

The Eastern black swallowtail.

Please remember when you water your gardens to also leave out sources of water for the insects and the birds, especially in times of drought. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

My New Desk Chair

I have been sent back to physical therapy once again due to a car accident we had almost 20 years ago.  I have suffered almost constant back and neck pain since then and have found that physical therapy and massage have been my only relief.

This time around, the physical therapist suggested that I get a new desk chair for when I sit at the computer.

Her thought was this new chair would aid in strengthening my core muscles and would hasten the rehabilitation of my back and neck muscles.

Now, this is not just any chair.
Oh no.  It is a chair that is meant to engage one's core muscles at all times.


It's a balance ball!

65 mm to be exact.
Extra strong, just to be on the safe side.

Kind of fun, 
definitely bouncy.

You can get these in the sporting goods sections of any discount stores.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Taste of Bloomington - 2012

The Foodie Husband and I braved the crowds once again this year to see what the best of Bloomington had to offer at the Taste of Bloomington.

Normally, I'd prefer to arrive early in order to avoid the crowds, but my dear husband had looked at the entertainment schedule and he asked that we delay our arrival till later in the day so that we might listen to a certain band that he wanted to hear.
I was more than happy to oblige him.

 We arrived about 6:30 at the entrance along the B-Line trail.

 To the back of the line we go!

 Admission is $6 per adult with children under 12 getting in free.
Most food items are about $3 each.

Adults over 21 who wish to purchase alcoholic beverages must show ID at the gate and get a bracelet.

 While my husband went to the alcohol tent, I went to Smokin' Jack's Rib Shack and picked up two barbecued pork ribs for my husband.  Price: $3.

 Then I stopped by Macri's and bought a pork tenderloin sandwich for me for $3.

 We found a curb to sit down on and ate our food and drink our drinks while listening to the band that was playing at the time.  It sounded like they were a polka band.  

 Then it was time to move on and get more food before the next band took the stage.

I must confess that I "cheated" and got a food that I've had before,
but I just love these fried dill chips from Scotty's Brewhouse.  What can I say?  They really are that good.  I don't remember the cost.

Plus, this late in the day it was often difficult to get into to certain restaurant lines, so sometimes one had to compromise.

 The Short Stop is actually located in a gas station in town, but they are acknowledged as having some of the best barbecue in town.
We had their pulled pork barbecue at a recent Master Gardener picnic.  It was very good.
The Foodie Husband bought an ear of corn from them, but by the time I got to him, he had eaten most of it, so I have no pictures of it.

 The last food item I got was from Chapman's Restaurant.
It was a Smoke House Slider with a special BBQ sauce.
This was a pork slider.

Chapman's is a good restaurant and I really wanted to like this sandwich, but it had a strange burnt taste that I just couldn't get around.  That burnt taste was just off-putting to me.

Sadly, with 53 vendors and with having to pay for each food item, it was impossible to try everything on offer.
As it was, I left feeling satisfied and knowing that there are many more restaurants in B-town that I need to try out.

 Hot air balloons!


 I can't decide if these people have the right idea or if they are missing out on all the fun.

 The north stage.

 We are sitting on the steps in front of the Showers Building while the band tunes up.

 Oops, I've lost my husband.
And then I found him.
Thank goodness for cell phones.

He had wandered to the front of the stage to watch the Hairbangers Ball.
This band is the reason we had delayed our arrival to the Taste of B-town.

 They are from Chicago and play the music of the big hair bands of the 80s and 90s.

 I don't remember the last time the Foodie Husband and I had this much fun together.

 We danced and sang along to songs like "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Living on a Prayer," "Dirty Deeds," and "Sweet Child of Mine."

 And because I find it interesting to watch people around me,
I looked around and saw the other adults singing and dancing...

 and the children standing around and looking at their parents like they were crazy.

Good times.  Good times, I tell ya.

 Finally it was time to leave.
We passed by the Jazz Bloomington players.

 On the way back to the car we walked a couple of blocks along the B-Line.
We found another brain!

 It's brain #4.

 Apparently this brain wants to remind us to eat our veggies.

It was a fun evening.

Thank you, dear Foodie Husband, for suggesting that we go and listen to the Hairbangers Ball.
It was a blast!