- September 2012
- December 2011
- January 2008
- January 2007
- May 2006
- April 2006
- March 2006
- February 2006
- January 2006
- December 2005
- November 2005
- September 2005
- August 2005
- July 2005
- May 2005
- April 2005
- March 2005
- February 2005
- January 2005
- Complete Archives
- Category Archives
Most recent entries
- This Blog Is Closed!
- It Ain’t Just Singing
- Taking Old Friends For A Spin
- Guess I’ll See You At The 9th Hour
- My First Computer
- A Little Perspective
- Here Comes the Judge.. There Goes the Blog
- Remembering Athos One Year Later
- Hello From the Flight Deck
- Its December So It Must Be…
- Oh…Fruitcake..Gee Thanks!
- November 23, 1992
- George Harrison
Now That’s A Pizza!
Every trip back to NY has a food component that often seems as important as making the rounds visiting family and friends. Don’t get me wrong I love to see people but there are certain longstanding if not primal needs that must be satisfied, the main one being my need for good pizza. The area of upstate NY I grew up in is home to many Italians and Slavs. As a kid every few blocks seemed to have an small Italian market. Just two blocks from our house is an Italian deli, Sam’s. I grew up eatening the most wonderful sausages, breads, subs, simple Italian food and of course pizza. After a morning of golfing one day Michael and I walked down the street and got two Italian subs for lunch. Michael loves subs but he has grown up thinking that Subway subs are the real thing. You should have seen his face after he bit into one of Sam’s Italian subs (made be real Italians!).
Many of the local delis make what are called sheet pizzas. About twice to three times the thickness of normal round pizzas they measure about 14x30 and are enough to feed a small family. Every deli has there own style but they share one thing… they are cheap, incredibly cheap $11-$15.00 with tax for plain! And oh… how wonderful they are! Usually my mother has one waiting for us when we arrive at the house. For some reason on this visit she didn’t (should I read anything into that?) but in years past almost always. We’d have some when we got in (which is usually 11 PM) and again in the morning, my personal favorite, for breakfast. I love cold pizza for breakfast, especially sheet pizza. Over the course of our two week stay we probably ate at least 8 pizzas. I could eat them everyday. I have even been known to bring pizza home frozen in the bottom of my suitcase. I would have done so this time if not for the fact that we spent our last day visiting my brother-in-law in Albany before flying out. My daughters were disappointed!
This is not my favorite (they have gotten a bit too greasy… I do have standards) but worth checking out if you are in the area: Nirchis’ Pizza
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the most incredbile Italian sandwich bread I’ve ever had (my dad would get a fresh loaf every morning straight from the bakery): Jim Roma’s Bakery, 202 N Nanticoke Ave, Endicott, NY, 13760-4135, 607-748-7425
Give Me Something Concrete!
I was once again today reminded of why I like to garden. Yesterday I spent hours attempting to build a backup webserver and moving all the files to the new machine. Generally speaking it went well up until I had to configure two more server services MYSQL ( database server) and PHP (a scripting engine). I could not get PHP working with MYSQL even after hours of work. I finally gave up at 2am, tired and very frustrated. As I write I’m downloading all the applications and I am going to try it here on my laptop.
In my line of work it is very easy to feel like a complete imbecile at times. In fact it seems to happen quite often. Systems and technologies are so complex and everchanging that it is impossible to be knowledgeable about everything. I tell folks who ask what I do that I need to know a little about alot of things and occasionally a lot about something. It is when I have to know a lot that things get hairy. I may not be real smart but I’m persistent, I’ll work at it until I figure it out. In this case I seem to have to know a lot! I’ve set this up before so I’m not sure why it is not working this time. What happens frequently with new versions of software is that something that played well with some other service in the past suddenly doesn’t in a new release or it has some component that previously just worked with no further manual input. In this setup the webserver software, MYSQL and PHP are all newer releases than others I’ve worked with.
So what does this all have to do with gardening? There is something about scratching around in the dirt that is innately satisfiying. Earlier in the morning I was cutting lavendar with a group of people for a fundraiser. The field was alive with bees feeding on the intoxicating lavendar nectar. The bees were so happy and dazed that you could bump them and just push them out of your way without getting stung. When I got home I went right to the vegetable garden to tidy things up and begin mulching to hold things while I’m gone for two weeks and Sue, the non-gardener, has to tend to. It was several hours of hard work but how wonderful the feeling gazing over the neat beds with plants finally of some size (my poor basil is struggling with all the cool wet weather).
Gardening is concrete. You pull weeds, reshape the beds and it looks great. You see the fruits of your labors. There is nothing cerebral about it, if I don’t like what I’ve done I can change it and see immediate results.
There were no imbeciles in the garden today only the 51 year old gardener intoxicated on the joys of the tangible… bump me I won’t sting!
The Gardener’s Life
I remember summers foraging in my grandfather Serko’s small backyard vegetable garden. When I was very young the garden and fruit trees took up much of the yard. As the years past and he grew older it shrank in size. Eventually all the trees died (I’m not really sure why) and were cut down, not a one remains today. He didn’t grow a large variety of things but like many backyard gardeners he always had lots of tomatoes. What could be better than a freshly picked sun-warmed ripe tomato, the acknowledged star of the summer garden! Yet, it is the deminuitive carrot that I recall most fondly from those days.
He would encourage me to help thin the carrots by picking a few before they were ready to harvest. Parting the surprisingly fragrant green carrot tops, lightly probing the soil to examine the bright orange root tops, I’d look intently as if searching for some buried treasure in the carrot thicket to find the perfect carrot worthy of eating. When I found a suitable candidate a careful tug so not to disturb its neighbors, a quick rinse with the garden hose and I was soon rewarded with the most marvelous taste treat. Fresh homegrown carrots bore so little resemblance to their store-bought cousins that they made a lasting impression on me, I had to grow some for myself someday.
It was not until my early twenties in Gainesville, FL at the UF that I had a garden of my own in the student garden plot. In central Florida one can grow vegies almost year round. However, with sand for soil and intense heat, twice-a-day waterings were a must. Miss a watering or two and everything would be dead. Everyday I’d hop on my bike and ride the 3 mile trek through campus past gator infested Lake Alice to my little plot. My neighbor Ron, an experienced gardener from Belgium, gave me pointers and in no time I was harvesting melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. It was very rewarding and I felt like this was something I could do for a lifetime.
When we moved to Washington I was able to grow vegetables at various rentals and even had a garden at a friend’s house but it was not until we moved into our current home of almost 20 years that I was able to establish a real garden of some scope. Now you’d think that with such a longstanding interest in gardening that I would buy a house with ample sun, open space, and beautiful rich soil but its quite the opposite. I live in a place best suited for growing moss and ferns, not vegetables ..... the woods. Here on beautiful Vashon Island in the heart of Puget Sound we are nestled under a canopy of 100 ft plus douglas fir and hemlock trees. The native undergrowth is a mix of salal and evergreen hucklberries..beautiful plants in their own right and well mannered garden neighbors! The soil is sand and rocks with little real topsoil that I’d trade for central Forida soil any day! Digging requires a strong back, heavy boots, a stout shovel, and a digging bar. Plant the shovel, stomp hard, go down about three or four inches and you are rudely stopped by rocks intent on having you dig elsewhere. The 15 lb digging bar persaudes them otherwise but it is agonizingly slow and tiring. Oh… did I mention that almost my entire property was heavily wooded requiring us to clear a spot for a garden? What was I thinking?
For about 18 years I’ve managed somehow to coax plants into growing in this less than ideal location. Our climate in the Puget Sound is maritime, Climate Zone 5 which means it is moderate, not too hot or too cold. My spot in the woods is even cooler, I don’t get sun in the garden until about 10:30 in the summer and it only lasts until about 3. The challenge for every gardener is figuring out what grows well in the garden and what doesn’t. For me there is no sense trying to grow hot weather crops like peppers, squash, tomatoes, etc., there isn’t enough heat for them. My niche is ideal for crops like broccoli, califlower, lettuce, beets, garlic and assorted other cool weather crops. String beans seems to do well if planted late and basil always seems to make it but with a lot of TLC. I grow all my stuff from seed. This year has been cool and wet most of the Spring and the first few weeks of Summer are about the same. The garden is about three weeks behind normal yet somehow things are starting to grow and the vegetables are now outgrowing the ever-present weeds… the gardener’s life.