August 28, 2009

Garden Bounty

We've begun to harvest our garden vegetables, at least those that the slugs, groundhogs and fungi left behind. Our potatoes succumbed to blight last week and although the stalks had shriveled to a brown snarl, the potatoes came through relatively unscathed. I say relatively because there were a few that got infected with this creamy white goo so raunchy that the thought of it now sends chills up my spine. There is nothing more foul than a rotten potato. Nothing. Our potatoes were harvested during a heat wave and since our root cellar (aka basement) isn't able to remain cooler than the rest of the house when the temperature climbs above 85, we lost more still to basement mold. Still, I think we managed to salvage about 40-50 lbs of potatoes. Not bad for a what has turned out to be a very blightly year for spuds.The tomatoes were also hit with blight. When it first appeared, I looked online to see what we had and discovered that there are about 4 or 5 kinds of tomato blight, all of which seem to be present on our tomato plants to one degree or another. This is really distressing because you watch your beautiful green globes blacken with spores before they even have a chance to ripen. Some varieties (Purple Cherokee, for instance) are more susceptible than others (Sun Gold). I tried to harvest all the healthy tomatoes I could find, even if they weren't quite ripe. There was also a little discussion about the trade-off between leaving them on the vine at the mercy of the blight or picking them green and taking our chances with the hoards of fruit flies in the kitchen. In the end, we opted for the kitchen. I hope the fruit flies take pity on our poor tomatoes.

Most of the ripe tomatoes (above) went into a Gazpacho tonight, which I served on a bed of our very own mesclun greens. (Did you know that the proper spelling is "mesclun"? I made this realization only a few months ago. I've been saying mesculin for years and feel like a complete arse.)
The carrots are looking good, despite a few groundhog attacks.
And of course, the string beans overfloweth. I tried a variety pack this year which included yellow, green and purple beans. The purple variety turns green when cooked, but looks and tastes great raw in salads. Alden loves feeding them to us, but has no interest in eating them at all. Besides feeding beans to adults, he is quite fond of mashing beans into the fibers of the living room carpet and tossing them into the trunk of his tractor.
So far the only vegetable we've been able to get Alden to eat straight from the garden are cherry tomatoes. The rest are utter poison unless they are cooked and pureed or otherwise rendered completely unrecognizable.I received artichoke seedlings from Joaquin (post doc in the lab) who smuggled them into the country from Grenada. Joaquin's dad is an agricultural engineer and insists they'll survive Maine winters, but also claimed that they wouldn't flower until their second year. I've never heard of any one here growing artichokes, but we thought we'd give it a try. So far, we have 6 little flower buds on our little plants, so his dad was wrong on that account. It will be interesting to see if the plants return in the spring. I hope so, I'd love to be able to eat fresh artichokes next year.

August 27, 2009

These are a few of his favorite things

Alden likes to have stand-offs with the Hungry Caterpillar when he is driving his car. I call the caterpillar 'worm' and make the worm approach the car, Alden backs the car up until he hits something and than drives forward to the caterpillar. The caterpillar backs off for several feet until Alden stops, then we repeat. Alden likes to be chased into the bedroom closet by the saber-toothed lion and then have the door closed. He then sits in the dark for (say) fifteen seconds before opening the door. He then expects the lion (me) to surprise him with "roar roar roar" and scare him back into the closet and close the door. Repeat.

The little red monster finger puppet is Alden's favorite thing these days. It's pronounced "mah-tehr", and Alden thinks it's the best thing ever since he discovered it on a tuning peg of my guitar two weeks ago. He carries it around everywhere while at home. He clings to it while eating his meals, running around the house, taking bathes, and sometimes insists on taking it to bed. This one may be the closest thing Alden has to a comfort item.

The fuzzy lizard head and the pink doughnut were his favorite things until the mah-tehr bumped them from the top spot. They are still very dear however.

Favorite reading includes Go Dog Go, Dr Seuss's ABC and I like It When. Runners up include Hurray For Fish, the Boynton ABC book, and Good Night Moon

Past favorite books include The Everything Book, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socks, Museum Shapes and the Little White Duck. While he still enjoys these, he doesn't ask for them as often these days.

August 24, 2009

Better Nights

Alden is finally getting back to his routine. He been pretty happy for most days and sleeping through most nights (as of about four days ago), but still thinks that 5 AM is a perfectly civilized time to start the day, much to our chagrin. Alden was sick for a couple days last week and he gave it to me over the weekend. That probably contributed to some of his trouble sleeping...
Karen and Alden have been beating the recent heat swimming in the inflatable pool and by going to Jimmy Pond and the bookstore.Alden inspecting our pumpkin and squash patch.

Alden is just old enough to wander around our back yard semi-unsupervised! I have dreamed of this day, when I don't have to hold him or be actively playing with him outside. He is curious and cautious and easily distracted by the neighbor's dog.

August 16, 2009

Rough Nights

Alden is still having trouble going to bed and sleeping through the night. We thought we had this licked, but apparently we do not. The trick that worked last time of letting him cry for awhile no longer works. I guess the parental problem (worry) is either having Alden develop trust issues (letting him cry to sleep) or dependency issues (comfort him to sleep). Since we have not been able to find the happy medium, and since comforting him is the only thing that seems to work these days, I guess we'll roll the dice with dependency issues.

During the day however Alden is usually really charming and happy. He is extremely verbal and is developing a since of humor. His biggest joke is with Karen. It started last week when she was over for a BBQ. Alden pointed to the briquettes and said "Poo". Karen thought it was hilarious. Now whenever he sees her he says "Poo", and she laughs. It's kind of an 'in' joke between them because he doesn't try it with us. I think we're better at not laughing at such things since we would have to put up with the Poo Joke every day if it caught on here.

Alden learned that he can blow bubbles in his water a couple days ago. We are very impressed.

Alden with his vodka bottle and my pal Darrell with a beer. Having a drink before going off to the Artwalk Gardiner.

August 15, 2009

Imitative behavior

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Out of all the AWESOME things Alden has seen me do in his lifetime, he picks the oddest things to imitate. Given that he's very particular about dirt/grass/ sand/ etc. touching his hands and feet and the relative squalor in which we live, it does not come as too much of a surprise that he has decided to demonstrate cleaning techniques.

Its rather embarrassing really. I was sitting on the porch having a beer when Alden decided to do the cleaning... I felt some shame, yes.

I particularly like how he picks up the door-stop wedge and tries to put that away, but the shelf is so full of crap it falls to the floor. Shameful.

August 9, 2009

The past 2 weekends

Last weekend we took a trip to New Hampshire to visit the vacationing Golds. Sam and Ellen have a place on Lake Winnipesaukee and were there with their family. Rob and Kay were also there with Sarah. With our small crew it almost turned into another family reunion. We were pretty beat from the Nebraska trip so we only made a day out of it. But it was good fun to see all of the family and catch up. Sarah is off to Edinburgh for school in the fall, so the visit was also a goodbye to her. Bye Sarah! We hope you're having a blast in Scotland.
Sam and Ellen had a bunch of lake-gear. Alden particularly loved this inflatable with a membrane bottom. No sand to touch, no cold water to ruin things, just a fun ride in a warm doughnut thanks to the thermal properties of PVC.
This weekend we took a family hike up Mt. Pisgah where, you may recall, last year at about this time we took Joshua, Cheyenne and Ronin and came home with several bags full of blueberries. A few years before that Joshua, Cheyenne and Kerstin stumbled on a large patch of chanterelles at Mt. Pisgah, so we were hoping that we would be able to come home with something tasty. Alas, it seems that without Joshua and Cheyenne, the forest is reluctant to give up its bounty. The blueberry and huckleberry pickings up the main trail were slim. We managed a scant half a cup of berries after nearly an hour of effort. Either our fellow hikers had denuded the bushes or the weather contributed to severely decreased yield. We had no luck with mushrooms either. The forest was shockingly bereft of all kinds of fungi! This was especially surprising since we've had nearly 3 weeks of straight rain, with the sun returning for only the past 3 or 4 days. We glimpsed a few Indian Pipes (actually not a fungus), but no amanitas, boletes, lepiotas, or psilocybes (we even found the crooked tree where we'd found psilocybes on a rotting log last year. Rotting log was still there, but no mushrooms). We were pretty sad. Alden picked out his hiking outfit below by himself (no really!) and kept us pretty entertained, but in the end, mosquitoes and biting flies forced us to put a shirt on Alden and put him in more comfortable shoes.
Alden at the Mt. Pisgah tower.

August 3, 2009

Nebraska 3

The last day in Nebraska was spent at Ashfall with Kerstin's cousin Kelli and her sons, Alex and Brian. Brian is crazy for fossils and anything prehistoric in general and has been to this park so many times that he's able to give the tour. No really, the graduate student who was supposed to lead tours of the facility actually sat back and let Brian do his shtick. She was thoroughly impressed not only with the depth and breadth of his knowledge, but also his startling accuracy. I think she even would have offered him her job, if it wouldn't break all kinds of labor laws. These fossils are all that's left of a 12 million year old watering hole that was blanketed in ash by an enormous volcano eruption somewhere in Idaho. Brian could give you more details, but all I remember about the animals was that there were bone crushing dogs, bear dogs, barrel-bodied rhinos, and camel giraffes. Them's some crazy mammals in Nebraska. Alden's eying the three-toed horse the pictures above. Yes, we were dorks and dressed Alden in his adorable dinosaur onsie, even though Brian was quick to point out that these animals lived well after all dinosaurs were extinct. Brian and Alden had a great time at the fossil discovery display outside the barn. It was essentially an elevated sand box with a pea gravel and sand mixture covering some animal bones that were bolted to the bottom of the box. Brushes and shovels were supplied to help budding paleontologists unearth these treasures and there were reference bones on the display case that could be used to help determine the bone and the animal it belonged to. Alden was very interested in the brush. He was also delighted to discover that the sandbox continued on the other side of the display and when Brian went to the back side to find new bones, Alden delighted in a makeshift round of peekaboo under the display. It was seriously adorable.

No sleep after Nebraska

Alden has not adjusted to non-vacation time very well. I think being in Nebraska threw off his schedule and that has effected his behavior. He is a little more clingy and his sleep patterns are all off. He no longer goes to sleep easily (fussy and crying) and he is getting up at two in the morning and at 4:30am again, like he was doing six months ago. Hopefully he will get back to his routine soon, both Ilana and I are getting worn down by this retro action. Anyway, here is a video of him being cute and baby-ish after his bath.

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August 1, 2009

New Cousin/ Nephew

Yipe, I've been uncled. Aaron and Liz have finally met Levin James Hobson! We don't know too much more about it at this point, but here is a picture of the lil' fella.

Here is a picture of Alden at about the same age. I had forgotten just how horizontal babies are.