Sunday, June 25, 2006


Lately the thing I've been doing most is scoring my surveys and entering them into my SPSS database. I have about 350 of them, and it's hard to maintain my 10-per-day quota. My best time for completing one is about 17 minutes, but in practice it comes to about 2 per hour. And it's that kind of laborious-for-your-back work that doesn't seem to go really well with pregnancy. I keep trying to get more done per day, but 10's about the limit. It seems to take at least 8 hours overall no matter how I try to arrange my time.

Last weekend, however, I did take the time to put in seedlings and seeds for a small but quite overstocked (considering the size) vegetable garden in our back patio area, which was fun. Seedlings are on sale as the normal planting season is over. I left some volunteer plants from last year (most notably tomatoes and herbs) and transplanted them to new areas. I also left some sunflowers that have sprung up underneath the birdfeeder in the window, as you can see in the photo.

My prize find was a lone, puny pot of leek seedlings. Leeks! They're hard to even find in the produce section, and of course they're TheLimey's favorite vegetable. So now we'll have our own. I also planted a modified Three Sisters Garden area with my seed packets for sweet corn, pumpkins, and beans. (By modified I mean that I didn't do the plantings of the different seeds a week apart as one is really supposed to. Nor in giant mounds.)

Other plants included several varieties of tomato (chosen for different bearing times so we won't have 500 tomatoes one week like last year), sweet and hot peppers, sage (left from last year), onions, three different kinds of basil (standard, Thai, and purple), dill (volunteered from last year's seeds), rosemary, watermelon, cantaloupe, and of course it's all interspersed with lots of marigolds for insect control. I later found some radish seeds to plant among the melons to repel cucumber beetles (which like melons), but haven't yet planted those.

I also got some catnip to plant in a far corner of the lot, since the condo-neighborhood cats have been pestering "my" critters (squirrels and birds). Or maybe I just think it'll be fun to plant catnip. Underneath the honeysuckle along the back fence we have chives and...what, oregano? And mint in a pot. I got a chocolate-mint plant to put in another pot, as well as a little bit of lavender.

We had a brace of baby bluejays among the flagstones for a few days, which I thought to place in a box just a bit higher on a tree branch to keep them out of reach of the cats, which were really excited by their presence. However, it turns out that baby bluejays are extremely loud and squawky when grabbed, however briefly, and that bluejay parents believe that I am as big a threat as any cat. I had to be careful just going outside for the rest of the day! I think that one lived but I'm not sure about the other (smaller) one. It didn't seem able to hop as high and fast (into the trees) as its sibling, so I fear the cats may have gotten it after all.

In other animal news, the nearest squirrel became bolder and started taking bluejay-peanuts from the chair by the sliding back door. Then a couple of days ago I got up from my nap and went to survey my garden as usual, and found that the unripe-but-getting there head of the sunflower was completely gone. !!! Based on the scraps left at the crime scene as well as the leaning quality of the stalk, I deduced that the squirrel had decided to snack on it. Little bugger!

What's even funnier is this: I keep a dish of peanuts next to the back door on a ladder-like shelf, about 4" off the floor. Later that day I found in the dish a number of gnawed and empty shells that looked suspiciously like the traces left after outside peanut feasts. And it looked like a hole in the screen door was newly bigger than it had been before. So unless my husband has changed his snacking habits entirely, the little bandit snuck into the actual kitchen while I was napping on the couch and feasted on peanuts! (Wish I had woken up and seen it.)

So, the peanuts are now going on the other side of the house entirely, before our corn starts to grow, although it may already be too late to change those habits. When I came home the other day and saw the squirrel standing at attention on the sidewalk, I noticed newly-prominent mammary glands. I guess a passel of new babies to nurse would explain her new bold voraciousness. (Not that I identify at all...oh no!)

Now, back to my data-crunching sofa, and the so-far-disappointing England v. Ecuador game that is being exclaimed over downstairs.

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