Friday, April 30, 2010

A Magic 8 Ball Movie?

According to this site, it is so. A Magic 8 Ball movie? Will it be as filled with madcap mayhem as, say, Brendan Fraser's newly opened movie Furry Vengeance? (better not be, says Sheila the Movie Snob) Will it be scary, perhaps, like The Mummy, one of Brendan Fraser's other movies? (oooh, that sounds good, I like movies about mummies, says Sheila the Movie Snob) Or perhaps more in the line of Spy Kids, where flying Magic 8 Balls, animated by two Clever & Apparently Parentless Kids, rule the day? Wacky criminals chasing them encounter Hilarious Flying Retribution? Oh, the possibilities! (Sheila the Movie Snob looks the other way, slightly pained) Or, and this is the best scenario of all, will it involve a Tardis and a Doctor? Maybe the Magic 8 Ball could BE the Doctor, complete with alien antennae (see accompanying sketch, all rights reserved).

So, to that end, we here at Greenridge Chronicles took an informal poll. The question was:

Will There Really Be A Magic 8 Ball Movie? Or Will It Be Derailed By Dimwitted Hollywood Executives?

We polled FDPG, who put on her Thinking Cap and predicted that yes, there would be a Magic 8 Ball movie. And that it would be filled with witty witty hilarity. She chortled at the very idea of such a thing.

We polled the Teenager, who also put on his Thinking Cap. His response was more along the lines of "How are they going to make a movie about a Magic 8 Ball?"

(and there might have been a little bit of "You aren't going to use this picture for your blog are you let me see if my face is in that picture it better not make me look stupid" in there too but for purely marketing purposes we won't include those remarks)

We polled a mini Magic 8 Ball. As you can see its answer was No Doubt. We were not clear if it was referring to the pop group and how it would like the soundtrack of the movie to include the music of No Doubt, and it wouldn't give us a different answer when we posed that question, so we will leave this as a Definite Maybe.

We asked a Build A Bear cat, who was initially far too involved in his Doctor Who Creatures & Demons journal to listen carefully, even when we put a Magic 8 Ball on the journal. The Pilotfish Santas were gripping his rather overactive cat imagination, we think. So we asked him if he'd like to see a Pilotfish Santa in the Magic 8 Ball movie. "Only if I get a ride in the Tardis," was his response. "But it's a movie about Magic 8 Balls," we protested, "there won't be any Tardises in the movie!"(or should that be Tardii?)

"Then no, there won't be a Magic 8 Ball movie," he snorted. "Who would want to see a movie about Magic 8 Balls when they could see a movie about the Doctor? And Pilotfish Santas?"

We could see this informal poll was getting a bit bogged down, so we moved on...

We polled a Genuine Magic 8 Ball, but his answer was veiled in pessimism (and weird white bubbles) and all we got from this ball was the words Very Doubtful.

Never ask an old ball to play new tricks...

We even polled a Magic 8 Ball pen (at this point you might be wondering why we have so many Magic 8 Ball items, mightn't you? good question but we have no good answers at this time. try again later).

Its answer was also veiled in mystery. As in: we couldn't get the stupid white cube thing to settle on anything. We kept getting a 5 pointed star. We took that to mean "YES! And it'll be a 5 star marvel!"

Finally, we asked some penguins, because, as you might remember, some penguins recently featured in a major hit movie franchise and several sequels, not to mention getting their own Christmas special on DVD, and who would have thought penguins could have been so hilarious? The penguins said "Yes, as long as the Magic 8 Ball doesn't upstage us, or take away from our residuals. Can we get a cameo?"

So there you go: There will definitely maybe be a Magic 8 Ball movie. And it may or may not have a sequel or two. Or three. Never underestimate the hunger of the Hollywood Executive.

Over and out, from here at Greenridge Poll Factory. Back to you, Sheila the Movie Snob!

Sheila the Movie Snob: Hmm, okay, well, I'll reserve judgement on this thing till I see the finished product. But if they ruin a perfectly good Magic 8 Ball, or use trite Hollywood actors like Tom Cruise, Justin Timberlake, J-Lo, Miley Cyrus, or anyone from High School Musical in this film, I will scream. I really will. And set those damn penguins on them (Rico, get some explosives ready...we might need them).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Garden Thursday

In Which I Try To Remember All The Funny Stories I Know About Flowers

Just as I revealed myself to be a Clutterer, I also have to out my coordination abilities in the garden. As in: I have none. Each year things start to bloom in masses of pink and purple and blue and white and yellow and red, and I am reminded anew how jumbled it all is. I planted it all so hopefully, too.

But, at certain angles, it looks quite wonderful, so I stick to seeing the garden from those angles. My camera sticks to seeing the garden from those angles.

A long long time ago I worked for a group that built gardens in Bad Parts of Town, and helped people down on their luck build community gardens in which to grow food. Because of the areas we were in and some of the people we had to work with, it was never an easy job, and I will never forget getting a lecture from one of the more, err, opinionated women in one of the community garden groups — about pansies. My organization had been given a truck load of annuals to take over to the community garden and hand out to anyone who wanted them. There happened to be several trays of pansies on this truck: velvety nodding heads of purple and yellow and white and blue. This woman was livid about the pansies - they were too "bourgeois" according to her. She even used the word "insolent." This might have made me laugh out loud, and my laughing out loud might have estranged me from this woman for ever more, thus making my time at that particular community garden rather awkward, but that little moment with the pansies has stuck merrily in my memory all this time. I plant pansies every year because of that woman, insolent little buggers that they are. And because I love them, of course. Oh callow youth.

This plant is a giant pyrethrum daisy. They came to me via a neighbour. She'd called a towtruck to jump her car, but the fellow they sent was having anger management issues (to put it charitably) and instead of pulling up neatly into her driveway, he careened down ours and almost took out the carport and the twins in one fell swoop. Then he drove all over my Sea of Squill. In less than a minute my Sea of Squill became naught but a damp, squishy memory. After shouting and swearing at Richard (who is the calmest person you will ever meet so this in itself is rather astonishing), who had gone out to ensure the continued existence of both his offspring and the carport, the tow truck driver then screeched off into the night, but not before telling Richard that he would never come to his aid EVER in the guise as a tow truck driver. It was all rather surreal and I was most peeved when I came home and found that I'd missed everything. My only contribution was phoning BCAA and complaining about a) the tow truck driver's near collision with my children, b) my former Sea of Squill, and c) the fact that the tow truck driver had had the gall to yell at everyone. My neighbour was quite mortified, and the next day she came over with a box of seeds. A peace offering. Which seemed rather unnecessary as we'd all highly enjoyed the experience, well, up until the twins had almost exited the picture, of course. But even they could appreciate the, well, the sheer breathlessness of it. Anyhow, this magenta pyrethrum daisy is one of the I'm Terribly Sorry seeds from my neighbour. It's a Terribly Sorry Daisy.

I've written before about Lewisias. I love them. They are such an amazing combination of pink and orange and even though they tend to be overpriced in the fancy garden centres I think they are worth it. I don't really have a funny story about them today, but I am including them because they were some of the first plants I bought for this house and today is the anniversary of our Move In Day, which happened three years ago.

Here's the post I wrote on our one year anniversary in this house. That's a funny story, so think of it as the Funny Reno With Lewisias Story for this picture...

Now this isn't funny at all. I just think it's funny how clematis always have such banal names. Okay, okay, if my name were Mrs N Thompson I'd love to be remembered as a beautiful purpley-blue Pruning Optional Group B clematis. Or if I were known around town as Nelly Moser, too. Which this one is, although FDPG calls it Candy Puff. I call it Pink Many-Legged Starfish. Fish for short.

Now tell me truthfully: if someone were to say to you, when giving you some seeds:

Seeds are dormant and do not germinate readily. Also they need light to germinate. In autumn, sow in pots containing a lightweight sterilized soil mix. Do not cover, press firmly and water. Place containers in garden digging them part way into soil. Cover with loose mulch. In early spring inspect them monthly. Remove mulch when germination begins. When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings. Dormant seeds often fail to germinate in the first year, needing a second winter to overcome dormancy. INDOORS: Place seeded flat in fridge for 1-12 months until germination begins.

Would you do it? Would you follow those instructions faithfully? One to twelve MONTHS IN THE FRIDGE? Well, I didn't. I looked at those instructions and thought "Huh? Are they KIDDING? #@*$ that!"
And looky here - Houston, we have take-off!

These plants asked me to send their little telegram to a friend:


This isn't funny either, unless you consider blood-stained lettuce leaves funny...

Oh, I'm just kidding.

Am I?

Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha (cue spooky music)

Oh, and the word of the day around here is:


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pink Moon Ramblings

I was sitting around today, as we mothers are wont to do, contemplating how no one but me ever changes the toilet paper on the toilet paper holder, when my gaze was arrested. Arrested, I tell you. More than it usually is. By this very photo.

I too have one of the items in this little tableau. I won't tell you which one it is, but I am willing to bet that the next photo will give you a very large clue.

Warning, one of these photos shows this item in a less, err, flattering light.

Can you guess which item it is?


My name is Sheila and I am a Clutterer. I take perfectly good household items and turn them into objets d'ubious utility.

(Not to mention having a weird penchant for Dangerous Use of Equipment stickers in foreign languages)

Monday, April 26, 2010

In Which We Hold A Nettle Stinging Competition

(The warning on this blender says: "Never block your intended recipient from placing a sock in their mouth")

Today I made something to clothe our lettuce leaves - and it was so good I took photographs to mark the event. I'm usually more of a vinaigrette kind of person, myself. You know: oil, vinegar, little mustard and honey, maybe some curry powder. Dump it into a canning jar and store it in the fridge. But today, I was inspired by the plethora of cucumbers in the fridge. Here they are in the blender with some parsley.
And here are some lemons before I squeezed their little hearts out. And some ginger. The parsley was just to add a frisson of excitement to the tableau. Nothing like a good frisson, eh?

Then I slowly added some olive oil, as you might to make a mayonnaise. A little yogurt. Your typical Green Goddess. I like to call this one a Green Dress, though. No goddesses in this house. Well, unless you count FDPG. I'm sure she'd like to be treated as a goddess.

But the real excitement came when we were gathering nettles. It seems that everyone I know is a huge nettle fan, and you know me and bandwagons: I jump on anything going by (if it's fun enough). Besides, my herb guru Susun Weed thinks all women should be drinking nettles. And who am I to argue with Susun Weed? It's not everyone who can get away with having two U's in their name when only one would do.

As a result, we've been actively seeking nettle patches this week. It's kind of weird how many people know about nettle patches. I put a post out on our local homeschool listserv asking for Recent Nettle Sightings and the replies came thick and fast. Today we were digging around in a massive patch in a rather posh neighbourhood behind the university, which had me slightly worried that some posh old lady might come huffing out of her house to chastize me and my giant plastic bag (and my clippers and my grubby sandals). This was the kind of place where all non-resident parking was Actively Discouraged. I had the only rogue car parked on the street. Then there were the twins, who were chortling most indelicately while hurling their Webkinz into the air (trying to land them in the nettle patch to see if Webkinz sustain nettle injuries or not). Max, being the Dignified Teen that he is (although I am not supposed to talk about him unless it makes him look smart and amazing), was sitting in the car pretending he had nothing at all to do with us. He had his sunglasses on and was examining a map intently. He obviously had no concern for the Webkinz and their potential nettle trauma.

It was when I was just finishing up that we started the Nettle Stinging Competition. A couple of weeks ago I was gathering nettles in a friend's yard and inadvertently stung myself. Well, okay, fine, I admit it - I did it deliberately. I wanted to know just how bad a nettle sting could be. It all started a long time ago when I worked for a university professor - a medievalist - who had me doing some research that led me past a weird little note in an old herbal: apparently nettle stings were considered an excellent cure for rheumatism. So I tried it on a hand I have that once got mashed by a Kitchen Aid. It's never been the same since. And the sting? It wasn't that bad. It was actually, dare I admit this, kind of interesting. Tingly. Pleasant even. Nothing painful or raw or nasty at all. And, being the irresponsible mother I obviously am, I must have mentioned this within hearing of the twins because they were all over the nettles.

"Can we get stung?"

"I want to get stung too."

I first made them promise not to blame me if they did suffer ill effects. There might have been a waiver involved...

Oh, honestly, I'm just kidding. (It was a verbal agreement only)

So we all dabbed our fingers onto the stinging bits of the nettles. Waved. Waited. Waved some more. And some of us even waved quite a few more times.

And after our highly empirical experiment our results were thus:

Nettles do not affect Dominic.
Nettles affect FDPG only mildly.
Nettle affect me only mildly unless I really rub my hand in a sea of them. Even then, there is no rash. Only a tingly feeling.

My bum hand is still bum. Nice and tingly, but still pretty much the same as before.
And look! Here, in our basement. Hanging nettles. Drying in the dark, greenly.

The Nettle Stinging Competition is over until another day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Garden Sunday

We had such a busy week that my Garden Thursday post came and went, and all I have to show for it is a few uploaded photos (some gorgeous new pansies, the compost I spread around the base of a sickly apple tree, my new lower area hard pipe watering system courtesy of my dad, and a large bale of hay with a couple of very giddy children lying on it). No words. But that's what I did this week.

We have come to the sad but unavoidable conclusion that we have too many strawberry plants. Sob. It's hard to believe that this gargantuan assortment came from 10 scrawny Totem plants I bought in Vancouver 8 years ago. We all love strawberries - it's the one plant the twins care for regularly in their gardens. Some plants get cursory love, but the strawberries? Oh, baby, they get adoring watering, patting, and even the odd love note.

But if we keep them as they are they will be far too crowded and unlikely to do well. Last year we had a mammoth crop of big fat berries and if I leave them the size differential will be significant. So I'm digging them up and splitting them. This is pretty easy: use a fork, ease them up, lift them as gently as possible, remove any grass or weeds clinging to them, replant. If you do it quickly enough and the sun isn't beating down on them you don't even need to worry about keeping the dirt on the root ball. If it's warm give them a good soak afterwards. I like to surround them with straw. Keeps the berries off the dirt, where the Dreaded Slugs can get them.

I am conducting an experiment on my transplants: usually I mix up a container of bone meal and kelp meal and toss a handful of this mixture into each hole as I replant. This time I have split the transplants into two groups - the ones that get this mixture when I transplant them and another group that get a mycorrhizal inoculant instead. I finally got us a large tub of the stuff (labelled, rather intriguingly: MYKE). The theory with this stuff is that it helps to create the right environment for the micro-flora and fauna around the rhizosphere (the biosystem around the plant's roots). It's a more complicated version of that legume inoculant you might have used on your peas and beans. What first piqued my interest in this kind of thing was watching my dad's strawberries get wiped out by a fungal infection two years ago. It swept through the whole patch. And according to the authors of Teaming With Microbes, the way to keep this from happening in an organic home garden is to keep the rhizosphere healthy. And they seem very fond of this mycorrhizal inoculant to spur growth. So I'm trying it. I notice from the label that it does not work on the brassica family.

Today was a day for cleaning up around the house, too. It's been so busy lately, and the garden has taken most of what little free time I have left, that the household chores have been wildly neglected. Wildly. As we discussed our intentions for the day this morning, Richard asked me if I saw the vacuum as more than just another item in the downstairs closet. He asked me if I knew how it worked. That it was an electrical appliance. Luckily I saw through his sarcasm and replied that OF COURSE I knew it was a working electrical appliance. Then he asked why I never use it. (it's true - I think I've only ever vacuumed once in the last 3 years) I told him that he does a much better job than I ever could. And then, for the first time ever we both sighed at the exact same time! We were made for each other, Mr Clean and I.

Another long neglected task was to bag up the cleavers and nettles I've been collecting and chop them up into little tiny pieces. Using another amazing electrical appliance, fortunately. After that I was on such a high from using electrical appliances that I even whizzed up all the eggshells from the winter. If you suffer from Spring Slug Disease like I tend to, you might find this handy.

You get a container like this green bucket (mine was a gift from my friend here). Everytime you use an egg you leave the shell to dry a bit so that they don't stink (I leave mine on top of the stove for 24 hours) then toss it in the bucket. I use any eggshell except hard boiled eggs, because they sometimes have bits of egg on them. Over the winter this bucket fills up.

This time round the container was full to the very top, and that was even with me mashing them down several times. A potato masher comes in very handy for this. After you've filled your container and you're starting to see the signs of Spring Slug Disease (chewed peas stems, and - gasp - raggedy broccoli leaves), you get out your handy dandy food processor and start pulverizing the shells into chunky crumbs.
Like this. I now have a full quart container of egg crumbs. Oddly enough if you have mostly brown eggs this mixture will be vaguely pink. But it's your Super Secret Weapon in the battle against the dreaded Spring Slug Disease.

Simply sprinkle it around the plants and the slugs will go somewhere else (like your strawberries). You might need to reapply it once or twice if it dissolves into the ground or if you get some intense rains, but by the time the summer comes the slugs will be packing up and moving on to wetter areas of your garden. And your peas and beans will be all grown up and far less likely to attract the attention of those pesky slugs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Make Us Go Wow

It started with this book, I think. This book was an Impulse Purchase (or perhaps even a - gasp - Desperation Purchase) along with a large, spiral-bound sketch book, for Max. At the time it looked kind of cool, but the reaction of the clerks at the till put paid to any angst I had at the time.

"Cool book."

"I wish someone had bought me this."

Or something to that effect. They were so excited that some kid was getting this book. Even if I had picked up the wrong book and instead wanted to be holding, say, Toilets In The 18th Century or Arachnids I Have Known, I would have still bought this book, just because of those wildly enthusiastic reactions. Call me biased, but geeky guys working at book stores are usually excellent judges of this sort of stuff.

So Max started sketching a bit. We bought some nice drawing pens at Michaels. I think they were Martha Stewart ink pens. Don't laugh - she makes a truly fine ink pen. He did a lot of sketching, then he started making stop-go movies, inspired by a very long obsession with Wallace and Gromit.

Fast forward a year or two. During that time we read through a number of quirky read alouds featuring strange quirky universes that had been made into movies (Howl's Moving Castle), featuring strange entangled plots woven by strange and complex writers (Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, heck even Doctor Dolittle is a little on the odd side). They were all so very— um, how do I put it?— visual.

Max started sketching a lot more. The other two started sketching. We bought more spiral bound sketchbooks. More ink pens. More coloured pencils. Then I started reading this blog, simply because it featured so many amazing (but mostly unknown to me) illustrators. I think it was when I read this post that I thought "Wow." That was all I thought. I didn't think "I want to be that good at painting" or "Wish I could draw like that" or "She is utterly amazing!"

Nope, I just thought "Wow."

Inspiration comes in the most unlikely places sometimes: check out this post here. Forgotten railway lines? Miyazaki? Instead of clustering around a book we were clustering around the computer terminal. Going "Wow!"

Then just recently we found this book. I've written about it before. It was another Impulse Purchase. And inside we found another world of colour and sound and wonder. Even FDPG got into the act of making comics, albeit briefly. Who could resist all that colour and excitement?

But it was when we looked in the back of this book, written by the same author, that the spark burst into flame. He has a mini tutorial, and even gives specifics: Prismacolour Col-Erase Blue pencil; 0.3 Staedtler pigment ink liner; Crow Quill dip pen; Photoshop; scanner. Words that none of us could resist.

Where will all this lead? Somewhere fun, no doubt.

Morning Ramble

I woke up this morning, went about my usual routine, and thought (only because some of the usuals of my routine weren't quite so usual) "I do pretty much the same thing every morning!" I felt I could photograph it and present it here and you could all know, Gentle Readers, what I am doing at any given minute. Well, for the first hour, anyhow. After that it's anyone's guess. Whether you actually want to or not is another matter altogether.

Here we go. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin.

First, I get out of bed. For some reason I always stare at this particular branch on this particular plant. It's a lemon verbena, banished to my bedroom to overwinter. I generally kill all my lemon verbenas, round about this time, even after successfully nursing them through the coldest of the winter months. Judging from the state of this branch, I won't be breaking my record any time soon.

Then I look out the window. Oh look, I think, there's the yard. Still there. Today it is raining. I briefly contemplate how I had to water yesterday because everything was so dry, and wonder if the universe can be intentionally ironic. I decide it can.

I plod into the family room, where my computer is. I check my email. I check my usual sites: regular blogs, the Daily Mail (call me shallow but there's no trash like British trash), online newspapers, art blogs, book blogs, etc. I listen for the sounds of the espresso machine steaming the milk. When it stops, I plod into the kitchen for my latté. I forgot to take a picture of that. It comes in a tall angled mug with a picture of asparagus and carrots on it. It is green. Periodically I wish for the yellow flowered mug but Richard my Charming Barista is even more of a Habit Freak than I am.

After coffee, I plod back into the kitchen, usually when the Barista has finished whirling around making his lunch and breakfast and listening to the local CBC news feed. While he is getting ready for work in another room I change the radio channel to the Seattle NPR feed, because the local CBC people annoy me with their silly musings. NPR has thankfully finished with their fund drive. I feel glad. I make tea, which is actually the province of the Teenager but he is, as per usual, not up yet. I thump my foot on the kitchen floor (which doubles as his bedroom ceiling) just to remind him that I am doing the tea. He sometimes thumps back, to let me know that he has heard me and is glad I am not sitting around on the computer doing nothing. If he is up and making the tea already we usually argue over if we should stir the tea before the milk is poured or after the milk is poured. Since there is sugar (for the kids) involved I think it should be before. He thinks otherwise. We wrangle pleasantly until Hunter Richard leaves for his day's slog out in the wilderness.

Sometime during these pleasantries I glance at the tea cosy and think "OMG, that is so raggedy! I need to replace it!"

I usually think this at least 4 times a week. And I have had this tea cosy for about, oooh, say, 15 years. I figure I have another 10 years before I actually do have to replace it.

While the kids are drinking their tea I gaze out the window at the empty bird feeders and think "Those stupid starlings" or "Those pesky red-winged blackbirds" or "Oops, there was another wind in the night and I forgot to take down the bird feeders and all the seed blew away again."

Sometimes I contemplate what a mess the deck is.

Then I turn my gaze to the kitchen table, and wonder why I am not the sort of mother who sets charming little tableaux for their sleepy-eyed children to wake up to. With that in mind I give everyone a banana, as a sort of appeasement to everyone's idea of the Perfect Mother and the Perfect Breakfast Table. And wonder if I had any new email.

Oh, and here is another thing that occurs on a regular basis, although today the Teenager was watching me and my camera uneasily and managed to move so stealthily that I almost didn't get a shot of him: cleaning up the spilled tea. Or the spilled jam. Or the spilled banana.

He must like to spill things. That is the only conclusion I can come to, really.

While the kids eat their banana and drink their spilled tea and whatever breakfast I've managed to come up with, I read to them. We just finished Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and are now reading Diana Wynne Jones' The Merlin Conspiracy. We like reading at breakfast, or rather, I like reading at breakfast. It's a wonderful way to start the day.

After breakfast we all have our chores. Max does dishes. One twin sweeps the floor in the dining room while the other clears the table. They usually argue over who does which. I try to be out of the room then because they don't care who did what yesterday or who is SUPPOSED to be doing it. They just want to sweep the floor. Capricious creatures, twins.

Today we argue over this LEGO construction. I say the top bit there, that white and black section at the top of the photo, looks like a Clone Helmet. Dominic thinks otherwise, but I suspect this is because I sided with FDPG over who got to sweep under the floor. So I show the photo to FDPG and the Teenager, and we all agree that it does look like a Clone Helmet. As I leave the room I hear Dominic whisper to FDPG: "Will you let me sweep the floor?" Sigh.

Then I strain my nettle tea. And make some more.

And think about making comics first thing. There is an excellent tutorial at the end of this book.

And that's my day, up until about 9am.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garden Thursday

Hmm. Does anyone else have this happen to them: you sign into Blogger Dashboard and see that you have zillions of comments that "need" to be moderated, then, when you click on that link gosh-darn-it-all if there aren't any comments to be found! I do not like being led down garden paths like this. Do not. Like.

Speaking of garden paths....

Aren't you glad I brought up the subject?

It's Garden Thursday! Hurray! Or, as everyone else seems to write: Huzzah. What's with that? Do you actually pronounce it Huh-zaaah? If you do, why? I am desperate for elucidation, truly.

Look! It's fennel! Not Florence Fennel, but Frond Fennel (ie: the kind without the big fat crunchy-juicy white bulb at the bottom). Isn't that the greenest green you've seen today? Fennel fronds always remind me of our Former Pig From Guinea because he loved this stuff. Well, he loved it until we fed it to him so much he got kind of bored of it. But until then he really loved it. (gosh, writing that makes me wonder now if he was just humouring me about loving it)

Okay, let's get on with the garden. Right now I am going to show you a few Befores and Afters. The time elapse is 4 days. Some things were in a cold frame and others were in a greenhouse. Oh, and one example was doctored through our explorations with those people from the Soil Food Web. The results, as they say, have to be seen to be believed.
First, some carrots. Now, if you grow carrots all the time and have no troubles with them, I don't want to hear about it. In fact, I am kind of gritting my teeth right now imagining everyone but me growing successful carrots. Because, as you may have intuited, I am an Unsuccessful Carrot Grower. Carrots are my bête-noire (or should that be my bête-orange?). They either grow in really perverted ways that I can't show my children, or they don't grow past one inch and look pathetic.

Why am I growing them again, you ask? Um, because I am an idiot. Well, that and the fact that I am FDPG's stooge, and she wants to grow carrots.

Anyhow, here are those very same carrots 4 days later! Now if that isn't an eager carrot I don't know what is (again, refrain from tormenting me with your own success stories or I might cry). Ignore that new pot in the mix. It isn't something that magically grew in the intervening 4 days - it's a plant I rescued from my Bishops Weed Frenzy and can't seem to keep watered properly, so I put it with my bête-oranges and figure they will either boss it into submission or convince it to play Survivor with them (outwit us, outlast us, outplay us, they taunt, and the little plant meekly obeys).

Next up: lettuce. You can see from the red tape on the greenhouse wall and the little popsicle stick with FDPG's neat little printing saying buttercrunch IN EACH PICTURE that it is indeed the very same six-pack, too (just in case you are so bowled over with shock and awe you start to distrust me).

Picture number two. Four days later. The difference a little heat in a greenhouse can make. And no, I am not shilling for a company that sells big double glazed hard-sided 14' by 18' greenhouses with gables and pop up roof windows. But if you know of any that need a Truly Madly Deeply Shiller in exchange for a greenhouse (with the aforementioned virtues), give them my number, would you?

This isn't a true Before and After, more an Imagine These Turning Into....

This. After which you will eat the resulting vegetables with lots of grated romano cheese and hot pesto.

If you like artichokes, that is. And please, let's all just ignore Richard the Wit and his incessant gleeful fartichokes whispers while we gaze lovingly at these pictures, okay? I happen to adore farti- artichokes.

Here is our last Before and After, except these are more a With and Without, I suppose.

This is a packet of peas planted in the ground. In good ground, with some kelp meal and a little sprinkling of compost tea.

Psst! Samantha - these are your peas! They're waving their little fronds at you!

This is another packet of peas planted in the ground. In good ground, with some kelp meal and a little sprinkling of compost tea and an overnight soak in some mycorrhizal inoculant. I think the results (Sheila twirls her moustaches smugly) speak for themselves, don't you?

Psst! Samantha - these are your peas too! Waving their little fronds as well - a little more heartily, methinks.

Finally, to round out that little Show and Tell, some random photos from the garden.
Strawberry blossoms. I was going to sell my zillions of strawberry babies on Craig's list but the kids are horrified by the idea that I am WILLINGLY getting rid of potential strawberries. Willingly! I might have to set up a Strawberry Stand and sell them in the middle of the night. Secretly.

This is Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Sprouting little purple broccolis. (truth in advertising - who would have thought?)

The leaves are amazing fried then steamed in garlic and chicken stock. We all love them, well, except for FDPG, who hates everything that doesn't contain either chocolate or macaroni.

Guess what these are.

Oh give up, you know you'll never guess.


I do not lie.

I am following the advice of Tim and Joe from Gardening With Tim and Joe on the BBC (Radio Leeds), although strictly speaking it was Joe who gave this advice...

"Place some well rotted compust on yer tatties, chook them in a coople uv six packs and poot thum in yer greenhouse er cold frem fer a wee whiley until they've sprouted a wee bit, then plant thim, and yull have tatties in time fer Easter dinner."

Yeah, yeah, I'm a little late on this Easter dinner business and I'm not using well rotted compust and they aren't sprouted or in the ground as yet nor are they even in six packs but I seem to be getting vaguely similar results. These are Yukon Gold potatoes. I wonder what Joe thinks of Yukon Gold potatoes?
And finally, if you have read any of my gardening columns you'll know of my travails with that thing known as Pear Rust and how it caused me Intense Jane Austen Heroine Anguish last summer when my little pear tree (upon which I have every intention of placing a partridge come Christmas time) came out all spotted. Well, cast your eyes upon that fat red bud on that branch there! My eyes might be deceiving me but I think I see the beginnings of a Louisebonne pear. This has never ever happened before. Does this mean that my travails with rust might, just might, be a thing of the past?

(Sheila faints dead away like the woman in the Edward Gorey Masterpiece Theatre montage).

There you go. Happy gardening. From Sheila here at Radio Greenridge.