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Today Miss Cactus introduced me to the pawpaw (Asimina triloba), the largest native North American fruit. They are apparently one of the rare temperate members of the Annonaceae, or custard apple, family; most of the related species are tropical. She has a pawpaw tree growing wild in her new backyard, and therefore has more fruit than she really knows what to do with right now. (Pawpaws don't keep or transport terribly well.)

The outside of a pawpaw fruit is sort of leathery yellow-green-brown with lots of brown spots. The inside is creamy yellow with huge black seeds, easily removed. The texture is a bit like avocado crossed with banana, ranging from relatively firm to very mooshy/squishy, and the flavor is... hmm... kind of like banana-pear with a hint of lemon, maybe? Or mango-guava-banana? Hard to describe, anyway. It's very sweet and gets cloying rather quickly; one fruit would probably be most people's limit.

It turns out that I am mildly allergic to raw pawpaws, but not terribly so -- a single Benadryl tablet was enough to mitigate the reaction, and I didn't start getting excessive phlegm/throat-closing issues until I'd eaten nearly a whole palm-sized fruit.

I don't particularly need to eat another pawpaw ever again, but I hear they make pretty good ice cream (which I would readily believe) and they can be subbed into almost any recipe in place of banana. Miss Cactus said she used a bunch in a banana bread recipe this week and it turned out well, so. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
red bell pepper with a human hand for scale



Tiny gardening update! Here is the Lazarus pepper, which I am going to pick later this week and stir-fry with some onions, because reasons. :)

(Regular gardening updates are probably not resuming at this time, sorry. I have been having brain glitch issues.)


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stained-glass butterfly in a purple frame (butterfly)
In happier news:

A) The Lazarus pepper's fruit is starting to turn red. Yay ripe vegetables! Also one of my assumed-dead squash plants has not only survived (...for now), it is growing a new squash. I reiterate: yay ripe vegetables! (I have cleared out the two dead plants, mixed up the dirt to cut through the root mats, and planted new seeds. We shall see what happens.)

B) My church's kitchen is tragically beset by ants... but never fear! A brave spider has set up shop above the sink, and I informed everyone (while I was volunteering for coffee hour cleanup this morning) that it is our new mascot and nobody is allowed to disturb it while it hunts. I like spiders. :)

C) I am slowly getting on top of various chores I've been letting hang undone for the past two weeks. There's a bunch more to go, but it feels more like a large task now instead of an immovable mountain crushing me. The return of semi-functional brain chemistry for the win? *wry*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. I totally forgot today was the eclipse -- I plead lack of sleep and also distraction (volunteering at the final day of my church's annual rummage sale) -- but fortunately I got my two sale rooms closed down by 2pm and was able first to see several pinhole projections other church members were using out on the sidewalk, and later to get a direct look through some glasses that Upstairs Neighbor E lent me while I was out walking Dottie.

It was pretty cool to see the moon take a bite out of the sun. :) It was also vaguely disquieting, because the sky went... not dark, you couldn't remotely call it dark... but noticeably gray. The color desaturated. Also, when Dottie decided that her midafternoon walk should end with a five minute relaxing lie-down in a sunny patch of grass, the direct sunlight was not nearly as warm as it should have been for that time of day and the ambient temperature. So, nothing dramatic, probably nothing I would have noticed if I hadn't been aware of the eclipse and therefore actively paying attention, but still. Pretty cool. :)

2. I called the doctors' office about getting a psychiatric evaluation/anti-depressant prescription, but was unable to make an appointment yet because I'm in a weird limbo where they're not sure if I count as a new or a returning patient, since my last appointment was apparently three years ago. The clerk who answered the phone took some information about my insurance and has sent an inquiry to their billing department. A representative should call me later this week, after which I will be able to schedule an appointment.

3. Three of my squash plants seem pretty definitively dead. The fourth (which was worst hit by the powdery mildew but seems to have escaped the wilting sickness that subsequently struck the other three) might be in the early stages of slow recovery. So I think I'll uproot the dead ones on Wednesday or Thursday and plant new seeds.

4. My church's rummage sale went pretty well, all things considered. I worked 12-4pm on Sunday, and 10-2pm today. The sale runs Saturday-Monday. Saturday is full-price, Sunday is half-price, and Monday is free with a donation box placed prominently at the exit. (We used to have Monday be 10-cent day, but that was immensely aggravating to everyone involved, so we swapped over to "free, but have you seen this donation box???" It turns out we not only save time this way, we actually bring in more money!) Monday is also the day we do preliminary breakdown, starting around noon -- first we start taking down a bunch of the shelving, and then we box everything up and cart it downstairs to the parlor so as to make things less inconvenient for the people hauling the unsold items away Tuesday morning.

(I think the unsold books go to the Friends of the Library book sale, but I wouldn't swear to it. The remaining fabric scraps probably go to one of the local sewing co-ops. I am also unsure what happens to the unsold linens and toys, though I think again there may be arrangements with various local charities. The rest... well, most of it goes to the dump. *sigh* But hey, it was going there anyway, and the sale does save an astonishing amount of stuff from being scrapped.)

5. Cornell classes started today, which meant that last week (and specifically Saturday) were the crush days for students moving back to Ithaca. And also students panicking and realizing they've forgotten to rent parking spaces. *wry* So the rental office was VERY BUSY -- in fact, Mom Boss and Aunt Boss came in to work from ~11am-4pm so we had four people in the office (usually Miss Cactus and I cover Saturdays alone), and that extra staffing was NECESSARY.

We will continue to be busy through... hmm... early October, probably? Here is why: A) people working out the glitches in their new apartments and returning their damage deposit inspection forms; B) the final parking rental rush; C) quarterly rent payments are due; D) people hurrying to pay for internet service after the free trial period ends; D) price listings for the 2018-19 year go up and we start apartment tours; E) current tenants get a couple weeks to renew or switch apartments before open renting starts; and F) open renting starts halfway through September.

But at least we're mostly done with key returns and sign-outs, we have the nice new folders for next year's leases set up, damage deposits and summer photographs are all done, and most of the giant packages in which people ship furnishings to themselves have arrived and been picked up. So that's something!
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Iiiiiiii.... kind of totally forgot to make "stuff done" posts for the past week and a half? Hmm. I am still keeping up my to-do lists (though obviously not getting everything on them done every day), but I think perhaps if I keep stalling out on posting them, that part of the project is now doing more harm than good, so.

To summarize, over the past week and a half, I did some intake/sorting/setup for my church's annual garage sale (which runs this weekend, Saturday-Monday). I also acquired a set of four white wine glasses (which are actually pink -- "white" in this case refers to the shape/style rather than the actual glass color) for my parents and put an IOU into the box since I made off with them before the actual sale. The glasses, btw, are now safely in NJ at my parents' house.

I acquired a temporary dog. :D

I bought a replacement pair of slippers and a new pair of black not-quite-dress shoes for work. (I have had the damndest time finding black shoes that both look good and have enough support that they don't murder my feet if I walk a mile. Apparently nobody in the shoe manufacturing industry thinks women are going to regularly walk a mile in office work shoes? This is very short-sighted, in my opinion.)

I think my squash are dying. I am not sure if it's just the powdery mildew, or that plus some other thing, but they are all in extremely bad shape. I may just cut my losses, uproot them all, and start over with eight new seeds. I mean, I still have a solid two months of reasonable weather. It's worth a shot.

...I'll decide on Monday, I guess.

All nineteen of the peppers are fine, incidentally! Whatever attacked the squash has completely passed them over.

I posted my WIP Big Bang fic, but because of reasons, it is still not as edited as I wanted it to be, so I think I'll hold off on actually doing a link/advertising post here until I get it fixed up a little more. *sigh*

I am starting to think it really might be a good idea to look into getting back on antidepressants, because this general malaise, while not what I think of as "real" depression, has lasted for far too long and has been seriously affecting my quality of life for going on two years now. I find it hard to work up enthusiasm/energy for things I KNOW I like, and I have been letting far too many brickspace life tasks slide because I just can't pull myself together to deal with them.

Of course, figuring out how to get an antidepressant prescription is exactly the kind of brickspace task that currently feels impossible, because depression is evil like that. *deeper sigh*

Mnrgh.

On the brighter side, I have a pretty solid idea for my remix, and some halfway-solid ideas for my NFE fic, so hopefully I will be able to get enough sleep to sort of bootstrap myself into functionality for the next couple weeks and get them written by their respective deadlines. *crosses fingers and lights a candle for good measure*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I am too tired to do the full-on crossposting thing with embedded images tonight. So tonight I will just copypaste the text; you can click the links to see the photos on Tumblr if you want. (And maybe tomorrow I will fix the images. *sigh*)

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Part 1: Squash

So I think my squash have been struck by some kind of disease/parasite? Anyway, the leaves with the white blotches have gone sickly and yellow, even though I sprayed lightly with my three-in-one miticide/pesticide/fungicide gloop. I should probably research squash ailments to see if there's anything I should be doing to help them out.

Despite that, the central cores of the plants are all doing well. Tan began to bloom on Tuesday, August 1, having finally regenerated its central stem from the squirrel depredations a few weeks back. And I think I'll pick Covera's squash Wednesday or Thursday. I'm not sure what to do with it, though; I am kind of out of interesting cooking ideas.

Maybe I should give it to Susan as an additional birthday present this weekend...? ;)

-----

Part 2: Peppers

In summary, they are all doing well, the injured ones continue to recover nicely, most of the non-injured ones have buds, two are flowering, and one has begun to fruit. Yay!

(Click on the photos for more details in the captions.)

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Part 3: the Lazarus pepper

*shakes tiny fist of annoyance at Tumblr’s ten-image limit on posts*

So the Lazarus pepper also exists and also continues to flourish. I think judicious applications of MiracleGro plus weekly applications of eggshells (look, I eat a lot of hardboiled eggs; it would be silly not to do something useful with the shells) have gotten it past the yellow leaves and squashy fruit thing it was doing a few weeks ago. Its leaves are now nicely green and the big pepper is both growing and reassuringly firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, the Lazarus pepper's other branch has sprouted several buds, one of which not only flowered but fell off (rainstorm, what can you do?) leaving behind the tiniest pepper. I mean, it is probably going to shrivel up and detach from the stem because it makes more reproductive sense for the plant to focus on the bigger fruit that's already well-established than to split its resources, but you never know. It might hang on! *crosses fingers, just a little bit*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Three of my squash plants have produced/are producing actualfax squash. This is very exciting! (I suspect I will feel differently later in the summer, since I am already starting to have "oh no, I need to think of something to cook with all of them..." forebodings, but for right now let me revel in the squee, yeah?)

Tan is not fruiting since, as mentioned in my last gardening post, its central stem was destroyed by squirrels before it could set and open more than three or four flowers, and it's currently engaged in regrowing that.


one pale yellow summer squash with a human hand for size reference

1. Sethera - Friday, 21 July 2017


two more images under the cut )


Meanwhile, the Lazarus pepper is not only continuing to grow a very nice bell pepper fruit, its other branch is working up toward flowers. And pepper F1 (of my eighteen grown-new-this-year plants) looks ready to open a bud within the next few days -- a few of the other new peppers are also growing buds, but they're all much smaller and nowhere near ready to open.


one green bell pepper with a human hand for size reference . buds on a pepper plant

4. the Lazarus pepper
5. the Lazarus pepper - new buds!


one more image under the cut )


And now I am going to go mix more eggshells into all the plants' soil, because judging by the growth rate on those squash, they are going to NEED calcium pretty soon. :)

---------------

So today I picked my first two squash. I probably could have let them go another day or two, but whatever. Squash! :D

(I have a plan, but it requires cardamom. I must remember to track some down today or tomorrow...)

two yellow summer squash on a stove with human hand for size reference

7. Sethera and Azer's first squash, ready to cook when I get my act together in a day or two :)


[[original Tumblr post (plants) for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash) for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Basically, aside from the continuing problem of marauding squirrels and their tendency to chomp everything because they forget they hate the taste of peppers, everything is going very well.


six pepper plants in black plastic planters . six pepper plants in planters and pots

1. peppers A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, and B5 - Monday, 17 July 2017
2. peppers C2, C4, C6, D1, D3, and D5


four more images under the cut )


pepper fruit on a pepper plant, with human fingers for scale

7. the Lazarus pepper


The majority of the peppers are now tall enough that I have wrapped the loops at the top of their stakes around their central stems. A few of those plants have even developed visible buds!

I now have three peppers running a few weeks behind the others, though: A2, which just got munched a couple days ago; B5, which got munched a few weeks ago; and E6 which had the fungal problem and might need a repeat dose of fungicide around its roots. C6 and D1 are also running behind, though less drastically. That is because they nearly drowned while I was away on vacation and left their planter a crucial two inches too close to the gutter waterfall, and it's hard to grow properly when your soil has turned into a non-Newtonian fluid. (Don't worry! I dried them out, gave them some replacement soil and a good dose of fertilizer to replace lost nutrients, and they are doing fine now.)

The Lazarus pepper's fruit is growing nicely! It does feel a little bit softer/squishier than I would ideally like, but I plan to give all the plants EVEN MORE EGGSHELLS later this week, which should help. Its leaves are likewise still a bit yellower than I would ideally like, but less so that a few weeks ago. Also -- and I am not sure how evident this is in my photographs -- the Lazarus pepper doesn't really have a central stem; it splits into two 'branches' about six inches up from its roots. And while the other flowers on the branch with the single extant fruit have come to nothing, the OTHER branch is now in the process of developing buds, so! We shall see what happens. :D

-----

In summary: all my squash are blooming!


one squash plant, top view, with wilted flowers

8. Tan - Monday, 17 July 2017


six more images under the cut )


Okay, more details. :) As you can see, Tan got hollowed out a bit -- probably by those continued menaces otherwise known as squirrels. (I am frankly impressed; squash stems and leaves are prickly once they get past the very tiny baby phase.) The utterly shredded leaf, however, fell victim to the gutter waterfall before I noticed the mauling and ran outside to move it about six inches to the left. (I got thoroughly soaked in the process, despite using an umbrella. It rained buckets last Thursday.) Anyway, the plant is attempting to regrow its central stem and leaves, and probably won't attempt to fruit until it gets further on that basic project.

Sethera continues to be stable in its little pen of plastic trellises, and in fact has started to grow an actualfax squash! Yay! So far this one doesn't seem afflicted with the blossom end rot that did in Azer's first attempt at fruiting, but as mentioned in the pepper update post, I am going to be dosing all plants with more eggshells later this week just on general principle.

In fact, Azer and Covera are each ALSO attempting a tiny actualfax squash -- Covera's is by far the smaller, but you can kind of see it in the top view photo, whereas Azer's hid so well I didn't notice it until Tuesday morning and consequently have no good picture of it.

The squash blossoms are HIGHLY attractive to insects -- particularly something that is either a type of solitary bee, or a fly that's wearing a pretty good bee disguise. They also attract spiders, presumably as a secondary consequence of attracting insects. The flowers are quite ephemeral and bloom for one day at most, often only part of a day, before furling back up and starting to wilt.

And that is that for this week. :)


[[original Tumblr post (peppers) for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash) for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Finished arranging transcripts for TC3. (One has not actually been sent yet, because the college in question is operating on an approximately two-week delay, but they have received both the request and the authorization and I should get an email when the thing finally ships.)

2. Photographed my plants and made my weekly post about them. Also added another batch of crushed eggshells to their soil.

3. Made weekly Facebook update.

4. Watered my houseplants.

more items under the cut )

28. TOOK A NAP.

29. Made weekly Facebook update.

30. Finished first mini-ficlet prompt meme fill! \o/

And hopefully I will remember to make these record-keeping posts a little more frequently from now on, because that was kind of ridiculous. *wry*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I am just going to skip last week entirely. Please forgive me.

I am also not going to crosspost the photos tonight, because I am very tired. Please follow the links to view the pictures on Tumblr. (I may edit the photos in tomorrow. Or maybe not. We'll see how I feel.)

ETA, 7/12/17: Pictures are now embedded. :)

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six pepper plants in black plastic planters . six pepper plants in planters and pots

1. peppers A2, A4, A6, B1, B3, and B5 - Monday, 10 July 2017
2. peppers C2, C4, C6, D1, D3, and D5


four more images under the cut )


Anyway, all the peppers are doing fine! B5 continues to recover nicely from its brutal munching, and while E6 remains much smaller than its compatriots, I think the thorough application of fungicide got rid of whatever was stunting its growth. (Hint: I am pretty sure it was fusarium wilt, which is what nearly did in the Lazarus pepper last year.) C6 and D1 are likewise recovering from their near brush with drowning while I was on vacation in the last week of June, and I have added a bunch of extra soil to their planter to help shore them up.

Meanwhile the Lazarus pepper's tiny fruit has become slightly less tiny! As of yesterday, it was about the size of my distal thumb joint rather than just my thumbnail. Progress!

I applied some MiracleGro to all the plants last week, and on Monday I added a new batch of crushed eggshells to their soil, which should hopefully break down and supply calcium over the next couple months.

-----

one squash plant, top view, with orange flowers

7. Tan - Monday, 10 July 2017


six more images under the cut )


Three of my squash have now started blooming -- I guess Tan's general age has trumped its somewhat precarious history, and it has therefore bloomed before Covera even though the latter plant has a much more stable foundation.

And speaking of stable foundations... Sethera became dangerously top-heavy last week and started flopping over, so I have propped it up with three small plastic lattices (plus several handfuls of additional potting soil packed around its base). So far this rather makeshift solution seems to be working, since last night's heavy rains did not tip the plant over again.

On the less bright side, Azer appeared to be developing an actual squash... but as of Tuesday evening (July 11), the tiny growth has started to rot/wilt. I believe this is known as blossom end rot, and the main treatments are to water evenly, to make sure the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5 (I guess I need to acquire a method to check that?), and most importantly to add calcium.

Eggshells will help on the calcium front, but they are a slow-release form of calcium and I think something a bit faster-acting may be called for. So I guess I need to acquire either gypsum or some kind of calcium spray. *sigh*


[[original Tumblr post (peppers) for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash) for when the embedded images inevitably break]]

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Elizabeth Culmer

October 2017

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