Autumn 2020

Red and yellow leaves cling to the fence in our front yard.
Red and yellow leaves cling to the fence in our front yard.

2020 has been a difficult year, for reasons I don’t need to rehash because we’ve all been through it.

Abby and I have been lucky; we haven’t been exposed as far as we know, and we haven’t been sick.

The leaves along the driveway are ankle-deep in spots.
The leaves along the driveway are ankle-deep in spots.

Mother nature is somehow responding to 2020. It might be a coincidence, or it may be in response to a reduction in atmospheric, noise, and light pollution because of the pandemic, but this summer was pretty and green, and this fall ranks as among the most beautiful I can remember on our patch of green in southeastern Oklahoma.

This image only partly captures the beauty of this morning scene last week.
This image only partly captures the beauty of this morning scene last week.
The last of a Virginia creeper vine clings to the fence in the back yard.
The last of a Virginia creeper vine clings to the fence in the back yard.
Morning glory vines mix with crepe myrtle branches at sunset.
Morning glory vines mix with crepe myrtle branches at sunset.
Maple leaves are set against a perfect blue sky last week.
Maple leaves are set against a perfect blue sky last week.
I photographed this sunset while I was walking the dogs last week.
I photographed this sunset while I was walking the dogs last week.

Know What? Chicken Butt?

This chicken wasn't at all shy about me being in the pen with her.
This chicken wasn’t at all shy about me being in the pen with her.

Our next door neighbor’s efforts to corner the chicken market seem to be coming along nicely. In addition to his 32 chickens, he recently added five guineas and a puppy that he says will grow up to guard the henhouse. They’re all fun and fun to photograph.

These guineas are sure to amuse us with their noisy chatter and tiny eggs.
These guineas are sure to amuse us with their noisy chatter and tiny eggs.
This chicken's feathers are fun to watch, and make an easy focus target for my cameras.
This chicken’s feathers are fun to watch, and make an easy focus target for my cameras.

Life and Death in the Night

Hawken, our Irish wolfhound, cornered another opossum tonight, or possibly cornered the same opossum he encountered two weeks ago.

Our next door neighbors recently got chickens, and immediately had losses of the animals to wildlife like coyotes, racoons, and opossums.
Our next door neighbors recently got chickens, and immediately had losses of the animals to wildlife like coyotes, racoons, and opossums.

Hawken’s bark is unique to the situation: it is forceful, loud and urgent, and is meant to get the attention of the animal he is addressing as well as us.

I have no desire to kill animals like this, but I can’t have them stubbornly staking out Hawken’s food, and I am quite sure this animal or others like it are responsible for killing our next door neighbor Mike’s chickens recently.

I tried and tried to shoo it away, but it was too determined to dine on Hi-Point “Highly Active” 28/15 dog food, and wound not retreat. I shot it with my M&P 15/22. Once it was down, I gave it one point-blank to the head so it wouldn’t suffer.

Opportunistic animals of the night are part of living in the country.
Opportunistic animals of the night are part of living in the country.

Tomatoes to the Rescue

My garden hose, locked open, waters my new tomato plants last night.
My garden hose, locked open, waters my new tomato plants last night.

After a rather intense couple of days covering the news, I was able to pad my tension with a bit of good news: the garden center at Walmart had mature-ish tomato plants to I could replace some that I lost to cutworms or the weather. I was able to plant three Better Boy plants and two cherry tomato plants.

This is one of the tomato plants I got planted last night.
This is one of the tomato plants I got planted last night.
Flowers in the pasture take on late evening sun.
Flowers in the pasture take on late evening sun.
The sky takes on beautiful amber hues after sunset last night.
The sky takes on beautiful amber hues after sunset last night.

Considering the Facts

I photographed the next door neighbor's iris again last night. They don't stay in bloom very long, so I wanted to photograph them while I could.
I photographed the next door neighbor’s iris again last night. They don’t stay in bloom very long, so I wanted to photograph them while I could.

There was a time in my life, around my college years, when I imagined that total isolation, on a mesa in a home built into the cliffs at the end of the Boys Ranch Road northwest of Amarillo, would be the way I wanted to live.

*** As I wrote this, the phrase “no contact with the public at all” floated by through a television program. ***

But I am not that college kid any more.

Abby had a brief doctor visit last week. We pulled into the parking lot wearing our Rona masks, and the nurse came out and gave her an injection.
Abby had a brief doctor visit last week. We pulled into the parking lot wearing our Rona masks, and the nurse came out and gave her an injection.

There are news reports of people feeling isolated, and a lot of people are creating memes for social media that express isolation.

But for Abby and me, and the next door neighbors, the Nipps, life hasn’t changed all that much. They cook out and cut the grass. The next day, I cook out and cut my grass. I walk the wolfhound and the Chihuahua past them as they put ribs on the grill, and we chat or a few minutes. Mike is building a chicken pen, and plans to get some chickens, which I look forward to naming and photographing.

Summer Time Lane, our Chihuahua, rests on one of Abby's afghans.
Summer Time Lane, our Chihuahua, rests on one of Abby’s afghans.

What has changed dramatically for me is work. I still have a job, but everything about it is different, because of what my newspaper covers. Sports have stopped. There won’t be any graduations this month. There are a lot of parades and gatherings designed to get people together, yet keep them far apart enough to check the possible spread of the coronavirus.

At an evening event I covered Thursday, 15 people called me by name.

There don't seem to be any food shortages, especially if you are like us, and eat from the bottom of the food chain. Today I made red beans and rice.
There don’t seem to be any food shortages, especially if you are like us, and eat from the bottom of the food chain. Today I made red beans and rice.

At Walmart today, in the egg aisle, with both of us wearing Rona masks, “Hey, aren’t you here to take pictures?”

My community knows me, which I love. It’s also something that lets me do my job better.

So, here we are, May 2020. We are trying to “reopen” America bit by bit while the pandemic still rages, and while I hope for the best and prepare for the worst, I expect something in between.

Your humble host holds our young Chihuahua, Summer Time Lane, and Abby's cane "Raisin."
Your humble host holds our young Chihuahua, Summer Time Lane, and Abby’s cane “Raisin.”

In the Ground

I got half of my garden planted today. I went to town and got three kinds of tomato plants, pepper plants, and onion sets, all of which are now in the ground. I also bought seeds for cucumbers, cantaloups, rainbow carrots, and marigolds, which I hope to get in tonight or tomorrow.

The garden is one of the best things in life.

A tomato plant finds its new home in my garden this afternoon.
A tomato plant finds its new home in my garden this afternoon.

Coughing My Fool Head Off

This is the curio cabinet turned into the camera cabinet.
This is the curio cabinet turned into the camera cabinet.

I am presently coughing my fool head off, but don’t worry. I don’t have the covids or the amtrax. I do, however, have a face full of dust after completing a task I’ve been avoiding for a couple of years: moving Abby’s mom’s curio cabinet into my dressing room and making it into a camera cabinet.

I actually accomplished this while Abby was napping, a variant on the saying, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission,” though when she woke up, we were all happy with it.

This started with me seeing a dusty camera, dusting it off, then seeing I couldn’t set it down again without dusting the spot where it sat. There was a lot of dust, then a decision, then action.

I sometimes wish all our actions could come about so organically.

The only remaining task is to find a new piece of glass for the front door, which was broken while moving it here with a bunch of other stuff.

The cameras on display in it are items Abby bought for me at various thrift and antique stores over the years.

These cameras mostly work, though many of them require film that hasn't been made in 50 years.
These cameras mostly work, though many of them require film that hasn’t been made in 50 years.

Then, Springtime

I was feeling pretty grim for much of the day, weirdly motivated by caution and advice to keep my distance from my fellow humans, worried more about the social and economic consequences of our situation.

Hills of fresh-cut grass and weeds sit in the yard near the old walnut tree.
Hills of fresh-cut grass and weeds sit in the yard near the old walnut tree.

When I got home, Abby sneezed, reminding me that we both were aware that the weeds in the yard have grown pretty tall all the sudden.

I fired up my push mower, then my riding mower, then finally the power washer, and they all worked fine.

I mowed and mowed, and even had a chance to power wash a spot on the front of the house.

The smell of cut grass and weeds and dandelions and wild onions was the opposite from the rest of my day, opposite from the smell of disinfectant and surgical masks.

I felt happy.

The redbud tree in our front yard catches last light tonight. I made this image deliberately chaotic, soft, and dreamlike to reflect my feelings about the evening.
The redbud tree in our front yard catches last light tonight. I made this image deliberately chaotic, soft, and dreamlike to reflect my feelings about the evening.

Calm in the Storm

Mom and Dad had orange trees in their back yard in Florida. My sister Nicole and I bought them and planted them as Christmas presents. There were always lots of big, ripe fruit at Christmas, so I guess that’s when they naturally ripened. Mom and Dad did little to them other than picking the fruit.

I thought of this as I found two new-to-me orange varieties at Walmart this week, the Cara Cara with it’s pink meat, and blood oranges, which are dark reddish-purple inside.

Blood oranges are quite striking, and quite delicious. Part of my consumption of fresh fruit right now is that it's ripe, and part of it is that it is something real, and smart, to do in a health crisis.
Blood oranges are quite striking, and quite delicious. Part of my consumption of fresh fruit right now is that it’s ripe, and part of it is that it is something real, and smart, to do in a health crisis.
I got out these magnifiers at my office this week, and made a joke about looking for "covids" with them. I am whistling past the graveyard.
I got out these magnifiers at my office this week, and made a joke about looking for “covids” with them. I am whistling past the graveyard.

At Walmart, I was witness to part of a current panic in the world, people buying hoarding items as they fall prey to fears they will suffer or be deprived in the Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. As a group, humans tend to gravitate toward their fears, believe absurdities, and follow unqualified leaders who often lead them off cliffs. It’s not new. It is the way humans are made: selfish, scared.

If I knew how to calm and comfort them I would, but maybe it’s enough for me to remain confident and rational. I know it’s easy to fear disease; I was seriously ill with influenza last month, and COVID-19 is a more serious illness.

It rained all night last night, and even stormed a little this morning. I wonder how spring, in general, will affect the current pandemic.

Many sports were canceled, including, much to my chagrin, the state basketball tournament. Covering those games is definitely hard work, but some of the funnest I do all year. Games leading up to it were definitely epic, and the teams, fans, coaches, and I were very excited about the games to come this week.

The Vanoss Lady Wolves won the Class 2A area championship last week, and had a great shot at a state championship. I feel for them that they probably won't get the chance to play for it.
The Vanoss Lady Wolves won the Class 2A area championship last week, and had a great shot at a state championship. I feel for them that they probably won’t get the chance to play for it.

The ultimate question, of course, is will we – you, me, the dogs, my wife, my coworkers, my waitress, my nurse, my friends, my town – get sick and die from this disease? The answer seems to be probably not. All we can do is wash our hands, sneeze into our elbows, and stay calm.

My peach, plum and cherry trees have all started to flower. It is comforting to see something real in our current world of fear.
My peach, plum and cherry trees have all started to flower. It is comforting to see something real in our current world of fear.

2020: The Year of Perfect Vision

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is certainly fond of wading into the pond and getting a big sloppy drink of water, winter and summer.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is certainly fond of wading into the pond and getting a big sloppy drink of water, winter and summer.

I don’ t know if any of you ponder New Year’s Day, but I don’t. The year 2020 is only significant because we sort of started counting 2020-ish years ago. The winter solstice was December 21, and the spring equinox isn’t until March, so those two clearly more significant celestial benchmarks have been largely ignored.

So, 2020. Meh. I’m not 2020, Abby’s not 2020, the dogs aren’t 2020.

From the "Special Projects" bin...
I asked a friend, who I think should be writing, to start the new year by writing just one sentence. She texted, “She didn’t believe me, at least not at first.”

When I was young, 2020 sounded like science fiction. “By 2020, we’ll have bases on the moon and Mars.” NASA says right now they expect to be on the moon in five years, and on the way to Mars after that. But who are we going to beat to the moon? Who thinks it’s a good idea to spend 5% of the GPD on NASA? Look up this entry in five years and see if we’re on the moon.

Abby and I watched the Tournament of Roses Parade on The Hallmark Channel this morning. It’s comforting to see how archaic and underproduced the coverage is, and how much this event is just like it was when I was a kid.

Abby and I toasted the new year with sparkling apple cider. "So raise your glass to sorrow, And drink to all the pain, Tie a silver ribbon around, The pieces that remain..." ~Butterflies by Natalie Imbruglia
Abby and I toasted the new year with sparkling apple cider. “So raise your glass to sorrow,
And drink to all the pain,
Tie a silver ribbon around,
The pieces that remain…” ~Butterflies by Natalie Imbruglia

 

Some Monday Fun

Hawken and I walked three miles over some fairly uneven terrain yesterday. He knows the way well now, and I follow him as much as he follows me.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is as smart and affectionate as any creature I've ever known. He relishes our long walks as much as I do.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound is as smart and affectionate as any creature I’ve ever known. He relishes our long walks as much as I do.
During my shooting session, I was ambushed by corn, oysters, and beef stew. My tactics prevailed.
During my shooting session, I was ambushed by corn, oysters, and beef stew. My tactics prevailed.

Later I got out a pistol and a rifle and put about a hundred rounds of .22lr downrange. It was fun and relaxing. I feel like I shot well.

Winter sunshine. Dogs. Hobbies.

I shot my Smith and Wesson M&P/15-22 rifle and my Ruger SR-22 pistol. I also brought my Radio Shack HTX-202, an amateur radio handheld that ranks among the hobby's best.
I shot my Smith and Wesson M&P/15-22 rifle and my Ruger SR-22 pistol. I also brought my Radio Shack HTX-202, an amateur radio handheld that ranks among the hobby’s best.

Disappearing Act

I formulated this lunch in my head as I drove to the store, and it came together perfectly
I formulated this lunch in my head as I drove to the store, and it came together perfectly.
Abby smiles for my new/used 85mm f/1.4 last week. She looks like sunshine itself to me.
Abby smiles for my new/used 85mm f/1.4 last week. She looks like sunshine itself to me.

Readers know that with the arrival of late autumn, I am able to take Hawken the Irish Wolfhound on much longer walks, deep into the woods to the west.

Today I made a quick trip to town, heated up some leftover baked ziti for Abby, made baked sweet potatoes with sautéed green onions and mushrooms and a veggie burger patty for me, then took Hawken on our longest walk of the season.

These walks are so good for us. We never see anyone else back there. We seldom even see traces of anyone else. We disappear. It’s quiet and clean. We both get sun and leg time. We never get bored. Good times.

Hawken sniffs at a tuft as we walk on a two-track road far back behind our property. We walked for nearly an hour.
Hawken sniffs at a tuft as we walk on a two-track road far back behind our property. We walked for nearly an hour.

Limb-Lopping and Knee-Kronking

The Fiskar limb loppers are the key to this whole operation.
The Fiskar limb loppers are the key to this whole operation.Richard R. Barron — richardbarron.net

With a weekend during which I am not teaching last Monday and a period of warmish weather, I decided to prune my fruit trees for the first time in a couple of years. This task became more significant due to last summer’s nearly perfect growing season, which made my trees grow wildly.

You might intuitively imagine that pruning back branches to stumps is harmful to trees, but a fair human analog might be trimming your fingernails.
You might intuitively imagine that pruning back branches to stumps is harmful to trees, but a fair human analog might be trimming your fingernails.

Fruit tree owners know that keeping your trees cut back is a good idea for several reasons.

  1. Shorter, stouter branches can hold fruit better during windy conditions and as fruit weighs branches down.
  2. Fewer fruit on shorter branches mean individual fruit will be bigger.
  3. Trees taller than about eight feet require a ladder or lift to harvest, whereas short trees can be harvested by anyone without any additional equipment.
  4. Pruned trees have space between each other for moving and harvesting.

So for the last few days I’ve been using a Fiskars® brand limb lopper to cut back as many runaway branches as I was able to reach. It’s been pretty effective, and most of the work is done.

However, during an attempt to remedy an extra-high, extra-thick branch tonight, I pushed a little too hard, and mistakenly relied on a branch that immediately collapsed, kronking the sh!t out of my left knee.

Yeah, that’s going to leave a mark.

Hawken says he saw the whole thing, but he's not willing to implicate anyone.
Hawken says he saw the whole thing, but he’s not willing to implicate anyone.

I Feel Like a Lumberjack

(Please, nurds, don’t sing that Monty Python song. Thanks.)

This is my Rio Grande omelette, complete with fried okra and Texas toast given to me by Abby.
This is my Rio Grande omelette, complete with fried okra and Texas toast given to me by Abby.
Summer the Chihuahua wears a new sweater Abby made for her this week.
Summer the Chihuahua wears a new sweater Abby made for her this week.

Abby and I had a few items to tick off in town Monday, including getting her truck serviced. As we often do, we had lunch at what has become our favorite place to eat in Ada, Prairie Kitchen, also known around town as Prairie Chicken. I have one favorite go-to item, their Rio Grande omelette, since it is vegetarian, and they make it well. The last time we were at the Chicken, Abby had liver and onions, but Monday she got a Monterey mushroom steak.

Like a lot of married couples, we have each other comfortably figured out, and that includes dinner. We both know, for example, that when a waitress asks Abby what bread she wants with her meal, I answer, since she doesn’t eat bread. (If you want to know why, ask her.)

Yesterday she ordered fried okra “because I knew you’d like some.”

Abby digs into her Monterrey steak. I look at this picture and think what pretty hands she has.
Abby digs into her Monterrey steak. I look at this picture and think what pretty hands she has.
Abby smiles as we look at a Harley Davidson motorcycle at the Nissan place today while we waited for her truck to be serviced.
Abby smiles as we look at a Harley Davidson motorcycle at the Nissan place today while we waited for her truck to be serviced.
The long-promised cell tower antennas are getting installed this week.
The long-promised cell tower antennas are getting installed this week.

In other news, the antenna crew finally arrived to install the antennas and 5G LTE transceiver equipment that will allow customers like us to use the service. It appears they are installing three pairs of 65º 12-foot panel antennas. The installer told me they are also putting in some kind of repeater for first responders. I walked Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, and they met him and liked him.

Speaking of Hawken, last night he cornered another armadillo, which I shooed away and shot. I don’t like killing them, but I can’t have these animals harassing our dogs.

I capped this big ugly beast at about four this morning, using my Smith and Wesson M&P 15/22 loaded with CCI Mini-Mags. I had a cheap laser on the right rail that worked like a charm, but died during the hunt, so I need to replace it.
I capped this big ugly beast at about four this morning, using my Smith and Wesson M&P 15/22 loaded with CCI Mini-Mags. I had a cheap laser on the right rail that worked like a charm, but died during the hunt, so I need to replace it.

Freezes, Thaws, and Sweaters

I put two camping tent rain flies over my tomatoes Thursday night, and though there was still some frost damage, most of the leaves and fruit are still healthy.
I put two camping tent rain flies over my tomatoes Thursday night, and though there was still some frost damage, most of the leaves and fruit are still healthy.

We had a freeze Friday morning. I tried to cover my tomato plants with two rain flies from two of my camping tents, and it was partially successful.

The changes in the weather make Abby’s bones ache, but she remains in great spirits as we begin our 16th year of marriage together.

Our community now seems to have more medical marijuana dispensaries than Baptist Churches, and a friend of mine with several health problems just received her “card,” permitting legal purchase of medical cannabis. I’d like everyone to feel free to weigh in on this in the comments: is this good, bad, ugly, a trend, a mistake, an answer?

Among other tasks, Abby is crocheting new sweaters for Summer the Chihuahua, including one that is the exact same color as the afghan she just finished…

Between the afghan and the sweater, it's a little hard to make out the dog in this picture.
Between the afghan and the sweater, it’s a little hard to make out the dog in this picture.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound won’t wear sweaters, and didn’t seem to want to wear the bandana I put on him this morning, or maybe he thought it was a funny game of keep-away, but I finally got him to wear it. It was a gift from my sister, and is supposed to be infused with a substance that repels insect and arachnids.

Hawken the Irish Wolfhound wears his green bandana today after a comical chase around the yard to get it on him.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound wears his green bandana today after a comical chase around the yard to get it on him.

Washing in Dirt

John Martin photographed me at my office last week when he visited from Colorado.
John Martin photographed me at my office last week when he visited from Colorado.
Your humble host photographed himself at PEC Day Saturday.
Your humble host photographed himself at PEC Day Saturday.

Our 16-year-old water softener recently died. By the time the entire system was depleted of soft water, I remembered why I like soft water: showering in the City of Ada’s treated Byrd’s Mill Spring water is like showering in dirt.

We got a new softener late last week, and it’s good to lather again.

Some other notes…

  • It appears there is a good chance Donald Trump will be impeached soon. That doesn’t mean his presidency will end. Bill Clinton was impeached. Of note: someone in office can be a complete bastard, and you can hate him or her to tiny pieces, but you can only impeach a president for illegal acts. But Trump supporters continue to assert that accusations against him are liberal efforts to … well, things are less clear in their minds about why liberals want to get rid of him. They hate freedom. Yeah, that’s it.
A couple of things about this bumper sticker I photographed downtown: 1. If she had won, they wouldn't be over it. 2. "Get over it" implies we should stop disagreeing, which is not only absurd, but unpatriotic. 3. If he is impeached, when will they "get over it?"
A couple of things about this bumper sticker I photographed downtown: 1. If she had won, they wouldn’t be over it. 2. “Get over it” implies we should stop disagreeing, which is not only absurd, but unpatriotic. 3. If he is impeached, when will they “get over it?”
  • A Boeing B-17 warbird I photographed in March here in Ada as it toured with the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom tour crashed this week in Connecticut, destroying the aircraft and killing at least seven of the 13 on board.
  • Work continues on the cell tower: this week, a dude is over there with a tiny track hoe, digging something. Hopefully it will soon have antennas and equipment, and we will have a signal in Byng.
  • Abby’s iPhone 6S Plus died slowly over the past few months, so we finally replaced it with an iPhone XR. An Apple aficionado at my office is thoroughly offended when I refer to it as an iPhone SEX, so I do it as often as I can.
Your host photographed himself inside the Boeing B-17 "Nine-O-Nine" during the Wings of Freedom Tour March 20 at Ada Regional Airport. The aircraft was destroyed Wednesday when it crashed in Connecticut.
Your host photographed himself inside the Boeing B-17 “Nine-O-Nine” during the Wings of Freedom Tour March 20 at Ada Regional Airport. The aircraft was destroyed Wednesday when it crashed in Connecticut.

 

So Much Very Many

Last night I gave away some bell peppers, then found something to cook with some of them: this amazing black bean burrito.
Last night I gave away some bell peppers, then found something to cook with some of them: this amazing black bean burrito.

Today is Sunday, and I am bouncing around doing about a dozen things, not finishing any of them, starting another one, getting distracted, going down rabbit holes. This must have been what I was like when I was four. And like a four year old, I expect within an hour I will be sweetly napping.

I saw this note in the street and photographed it some years ago, but never really found a use for it. Here it is for your consideration.
I saw this note in the street and photographed it some years ago, but never really found a use for it. Here it is for your consideration.

So now I will go do a focus stack, learn about Adobe Premiere Pro CC, fold my towels, make the bed, feed my wife, feed myself, help a fellow photographer in the yard while he makes macro photos, cut the grass, help Abby throw out clothes that don’t fit, and … hm. I’ll think of some other stuff.

One thing I am deciding just today is to try a lot harder to post stuff here, then link to social media, rather than posting straight to social media. I think posting to social media sites is a little like doing drugs… we take the hit by posting, then feel the high when we got likes. It feels unhealthy to me somehow.

This isn’t about clicks or metrics. This is about identity. Zuckerberg vs Barron. “And I’ll do it myyyyyyyyy wayyyyyy!!!”

Jeepers, I need to switch to decaf.

This is me working a wildfire ten days ago, smelling very smoky. When I am working or when I am at home, I work hard at a dozen things at once.
This is me working a wildfire ten days ago, smelling very smoky. When I am working or when I am at home, I work hard at a dozen things at once.

How Washable is Your Dog?

Your humble host washes Hawken the Wolfhound last night.
Your humble host washes Hawken the Wolfhound last night.
Photo by Abby S. M. Barron
Photo by Abby S. M. Barron

Every dog falls somewhere on the washability index, from “Okay, this group of four-year-olds is soaping me while I calmly sit in a red wagon” to “I will kill you the next time you lift that garden hose.”

We don’t use groomers. Abby worked for a veterinarian for years and knows how to do all that stuff, so she and I take care of it, including washing our dogs. Chihuahuas Max and Sierra, who have both passed away, were tolerant of baths but not enthusiastic, while Summer the  Chihuahua is still figuring it out. One thing Summer does surprisingly well is get her nails trimmed.

Our front porch ended up resembling a rastafarian barber shop.
Our front porch ended up resembling a rastafarian barber shop.

Hawken doesn’t get along with water. To bath him, I have to leash him to a rung at the bottom of the stairs on the front porch.

If Hawken looks particularly filthy, it’s because he is: to keep cool in the summer, he wallows in holes he’s dug under the back porch. If it has rained recently, he gets even muddier, and after we wash him, it’s difficult to get him dry enough that he won’t get completely filthy as soon as he lies down for the night.

I knew better than to dry Hawken with a good towel, so instead I used this car wash towel, which he enjoyed shredding.
I knew better than to dry Hawken with a good towel, so instead I used this car wash towel, which he enjoyed shredding.

I made an effort to cut some of the mats out of his fur, which are just tangles of hair mashed together when he lays in the grass or dirt.

He’s such a happy dog, though, and while he seems super-annoyed to be getting bathed, he is then instantly glad to play with us. Last night as I was drying him, he decided it was a game, and before the game was done, the towel was torn in half.

Abby and I use a dog shampoo called Plum Silky. It is foamy, smells good, and leaves the dogs' hair soft.
Abby and I use a dog shampoo called Plum Silky. It is foamy, smells good, and leaves the dogs’ hair soft.

Red Hot Poker of Death

Hawken the mighty Wolfhound stands near the back door last night.
Hawken the mighty Wolfhound stands near the back door last night.

One evening earlier this summer, I had just finished walking Hawken the Irish Wolfhound when I came across a nest of red wasps in the gap between the back door and the siding, and I guess I got too close, because they broke the treaty and stung me twice in the left arm.

Within 90 seconds they had been sprayed into oblivion in what could only be described as a mission of destruction. The stings were painful initially, and lasted for more than a week.

I know they're not aggressive and don't attack unless provoked, and only defend their nests, but they build those nests too close to areas I transit every day, and since they did break the cease-fire, I have no other recourse but annihilation.
I know they’re not aggressive and don’t attack unless provoked, and only defend their nests, but they build those nests too close to areas I transit every day, and since they did break the cease-fire, I have no other recourse but annihilation.

This morning I opened that same door to bring Hawken breakfast when I heard the papery whisper of dozens of red wasp wings coming from that same spot. I backed off quickly and avoided getting stung this time, but come on: They reoccupied the position! Again I sprayed them into oblivion, and tonight after walking both dogs I looked around to see dozens of dead wasps on the back porch.

Wasp stings are a nuisance for me, but if Summer the Chihuahua got stung, it could be fatal. She has recently discovered that she loves for me to walk her, so I have doubled my daily dog walking.

Summer the Chihuahua pokes around the driveway on a walk recently.
Summer the Chihuahua pokes around the driveway on a walk recently.
The disk shape on my hand is the projection of the morning sun through the peephole.
The disk shape on my hand is the projection of the morning sun through the peephole.

Finally, a unique feature of our exactly-east-facing house is that as the autumnal equinox approaches, the sun shines through the peephole (mistyped at one point “poophole”), in the front door in the morning, which is  neat.

The lensing of the peephole causes the light to split into spectra. Moving the camera to different colored parts of the light changes the result.
The lensing of the peephole causes the light to split into spectra. Moving the camera to different colored parts of the light changes the result.

My Summer of the Peach is Over

If we are what we eat, at the moment I am about 30% peach.

The last of my peaches hang on tree #1 last night. I picked them, and will eat them today. It has been a great peach season.
The last of my peaches hang on tree #1 last night. I picked them, and will eat them today. It has been a great peach season.
I like to slice peaches to eat eat them. It's a little less messy, and it allows me to cut out any brown spots.
I like to slice peaches to eat eat them. It’s a little less messy, and it allows me to cut out any brown spots.

It’s been the spring and summer of the peach for me. I’ve had peaches on my trees before, but this summer was the bumper crop. I believe this is due to a normal, cold, wet winter, and a wet spring, so my trees had abundant deep moisture, and healthy pollinating insects.

I have picked peaches almost every day since May, and I have been able to eat most of them. Except for some losses to brown rot, my peaches have been big, beautiful and nutritious, and I couldn’t be happier with them.

Harsh, but True...
It aggravates me to no end when people immediately suggest that I make something out of my fruits and vegetables. “Are you going to make peach cobbler?” “Are you going to make peach ice cream?” No, fatty. Peaches are food. I’m going to eat them.

Mike, our next door neighbor, rolled his tractor while brush hogging, his business now that he is retired. He was injured and spent some time in the emergency room, but he’ll be okay. It’s a good reminder that something as simple as mowing merits extra care to be safe.

I hold in my hand the last peach I picked this season. Isn't it beautiful?
I hold in my hand the last peach I picked this season. Isn’t it beautiful?
My old DR All-Terrain Mower sits in the yard today. I fire it up when I need to mow in "beast mode."
My old DR All-Terrain Mower sits in the yard today. I fire it up when I need to mow in “beast mode.”

My DR all-terrain mower started with no effort last night, which is nothing short of Twilight Zone weird because I hadn’t started it in three years, and when I did, it took half a bottle of starter fluid to get it going. “Maybe it just needed the rest,” Abby jokingly suggested.

So, with the pasture partially mowed last night and the last of the peaches picked, I hope to get some more of that done today, and concentrate on my next crop, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.

Large slicing tomatoes ripen on my vines last night. I also have cherry tomatoes.
Large slicing tomatoes ripen on my vines last night. I also have cherry tomatoes.

 

The First Day of Summer

Abby and I look at each other like we hung the moon as Robert photographs us Wednesday evening.
Abby and I look at each other like we hung the moon as Robert photographs us Wednesday evening.
Hawken, our Irish Wolfhound, and I pose for Robert near the pond last night.
Hawken, our Irish Wolfhound, and I pose for Robert near the pond last night.

Today is the first day of summer 2019. Spring brought tremendous rain, gorgeous pastures, peach and plum trees sagging from the weight of fruit, and early yesterday morning, widespread thunderstorm damage in our neck of the southeastern Oklahoma woods.

A fortunate collision of timing allowed our good friend Robert to join me in our coverage of the storm damage from a fast-moving line of severe thunderstorms that rolled through about 3 a.m. Damage was widespread and caused damage to numerous trees, and downed power lines across the region.

We were fortunate at our home in Byng that we only had a few branches blown down, and none of the garden or the peach trees were affected. Some areas had more dramatic damage, and power was out throughout the region for more than 15,000 customers at one point.
We were fortunate at our home in Byng that we only had a few branches blown down, and none of the garden or the peach trees were affected. Some areas had more dramatic damage, and power was out throughout the region for more than 15,000 customers at one point.
Our summer intern, Ashlynd, looks on as I edit storm damage photos Wednesday. It was a huge news day, and Ashlynd, Robert and I all had a blast covering it.
Our summer intern, Ashlynd, looks on as I edit storm damage photos Wednesday. It was a huge news day, and Ashlynd, Robert and I all had a blast covering it.

More than 15,000 residents were without power, including us in Byng. As luck would have it, we did have power at the office, so we got the paper out, but the Pauls Valley paper wasn’t as fortunate, and I don’t know how they eventually got their product together.

Hawken steals peaches from a low-hanging branch while Robert makes images.
Hawken steals peaches from a low-hanging branch while Robert makes images.
Your host holds our spritely indoor dog, Summer the Chihuahua.
Your host holds our spritely indoor dog, Summer the Chihuahua.

Robert lives in the D.C. area, but came to Tulsa to photography his niece Rowan’s wedding, and had some time to come down yesterday, just in time to round up some nice storm cleanup images, which are in today’s Ada News.

After a long day of that, and Abby texting us “Power!!! Power!!!” at 2:04 p.m. (for an outage time of about 12 hours), we went home to shift to phase two of our day of photography, photographing our pets, our patch, and each other.

Readers might recall that Robert photographed Abby and me in November, and those image ended up being some of my all-time favorites of the two of us, and I hoped to recreate the magic, and the session was everything I wanted it to be.

Robert moved us to an even sunnier spot as our portrait session progressed. I feel happy when I look at pictures of us together like this. This is now the lead image on our home page.
Robert moved us to an even sunnier spot as our portrait session progressed. I feel happy when I look at pictures of us together like this. This is now the lead image on our home page.

A Beautiful Little Life

I think this is one of the most beautiful images I've made this year: my wife Abby carrying her Chihuahua Summer as the neighbor dog Elly walks alongside as the sun goes down on our patch of green here in Oklahoma.
I think this is one of the most beautiful images I’ve made this year: my wife Abby carrying her Chihuahua Summer as the neighbor dog Elly walks alongside as the sun goes down on our patch of green here in Oklahoma.

In recent weeks my wife Abby and I have gotten in the habit of me picking up dinner from San Remos Pizzeria hera in Ada, a baked ziti for her and a big veggie pizza for me, and eating on those items for several days, since it’s a lot of food. I always feel happy when I can bring it home to her, and she feels happy when I do.

San Remos Pizzeria in Ada is currently one of our favorite places for take out. This is their veggie pizza.
San Remos Pizzeria in Ada is currently one of our favorite places for take out. This is their veggie pizza.
Abby and Hawken have a cordial chat on our front deck last week.
Abby and Hawken have a cordial chat on our front deck last week.

Abby’s been walking our Chihuahua, Summer, when I walk our Irish Wolfhound Hawken. It’s been unbelievably warm, green and beautiful out the last few weeks.

Keen shoes aren't for everybody, but they are among my favorites. They are waterproof, so they are great for everything from hiking with wet crossings to washing the cars and the Wolfhounds.
Keen shoes aren’t for everybody, but they are among my favorites. They are waterproof, so they are great for everything from hiking with wet crossings to washing the cars and the Wolfhounds.

It’s Father’s Day, and though I am not a father (except maybe to our dogs), I am a step father, and I also have a birthday coming up shortly, so I decided I wanted new shoes. On Amazon, I found a nice pair of casual black shoes to go with dressier clothes, and I got another pair of Keens.

I got my first pair of Keens from my sister as a Christmas gift, and I like them so much I tend to wear them so much I wear them out. I learned years ago that different styles of Keen shoes fit very differently, and if I find a style, I should stick with it. Mine is the H2 Newport. They are rugged, waterproof, and super cool-looking.

Our trees and the pasture and garden are all happy and healthy. “It’s sure pretty out,” Abby commented as I wrote this. Tonight I’ll be out there again, walking dogs and tending tomato plants on our little patch of green in the country.

Epic clouds roll across the eastern sky last weekend as I drove home from a meeting.
Epic clouds roll across the eastern sky last weekend as I drove home from a meeting.

I’ve Never Had Peaches Like This

My picking basket sits on the ground full of cherries and peaches this week. I have probably picked a hundred, and if I can, I'll pick a hundred more.
My picking basket sits on the ground full of cherries and peaches this week. I have probably picked a hundred, and if I can, I’ll pick a hundred more.
The mimosa trees on our property seemed to blossom overnight, and I was very happy to see them.
The mimosa trees on our property seemed to blossom overnight, and I was very happy to see them.

I planted my small orchard in a semicircle around the garden in 2007. It has been an amazing adventure to watch them all grow and thrive, but for the most part, weather and circumstance have limited the amount of fruit I’ve gotten from them. In fact, previously my plum trees have only ever produced one plum. One.

A ripe peach hangs on my early Elberta peach tree two nights ago. Unlike years ago, it was among very many peaches on this tree this spring.
A ripe peach hangs on my early Elberta peach tree two nights ago. Unlike years ago, it was among very many peaches on this tree this spring.

This year, however, has been different. All my trees have numerous fruit on them. My early Elberta peach tree is delivering huge, juicy, flavorful peaches this week like I have never seen. My cherry trees are both loaded with fruit, though they are smaller and not as sweet as grocery store cherries, possibly because the trees are immature. I also have dozens of small, sweet plums that are hard to eat because they are so juicy.

I expect this bounty is a combination of abundant rain and “just right” temperatures.

I have a zillion cherries this year as well. They are sour, but fun to eat, and Hawken the Irish Wolfhound loves them.
I have a zillion cherries this year as well. They are sour, but fun to eat, and Hawken the Irish Wolfhound loves them.

My good friend and fellow photographer Courtney Morehead came out last night to pick a dozen or so peaches and sample a couple of plums and cherries, as well as meet Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. Courtney and I have been working on sidelines and courts for years now; me for newspaper and her as a senior/portrait photographer. It was great to share the fruition with her.

I grabbed my 50mm f/1.4 this week to shoot these wildflowers in the pasture. Forgive me if the selective focus is a little too millennial-y.
I grabbed my 50mm f/1.4 this week to shoot these wildflowers in the pasture. Forgive me if the selective focus is a little too millennial-y.
Wes Edens shows me his pollinator garden during a visit to his home this week. He gave me some flowers to take home and plant in my garden.
Wes Edens shows me his pollinator garden during a visit to his home this week. He gave me some flowers to take home and plant in my garden.

All the fruit on the early Elberta is ripening at once, so it will be gone soon, in me or on the ground. I have six more peach trees what should make fruit on July.

I am also cultivating an excellent selection in the garden that includes regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Cherokee purple tomatoes, two kinds of bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, and cantaloupes. Between them are marigolds and some pollinator flowers my other photographer friend Wes Edens gave me Tuesday when I went out to his place to shoot some of his guns, which is always fun.

I feel happy when I think of being a part of nature.

Eating your home grown fruits and vegetables can be a goal for some, but to me, it's the icing on the cake of being a part of nurturing the land.
Eating your home grown fruits and vegetables can be a goal for some, but to me, it’s the icing on the cake of being a part of nurturing the land.

Some Seasons…

I started the morning by weighing myself, 145 pounds. My wife Abby and I are both thinner now than the day we met, maybe even a couple of pounds too thin.

After I picked some peaches, cherries, and plums, I dumped the basket out in a clover patch to make this image. Even if I were to never eat a single bite of this fruit, growing it is worth it because it is so beautiful.
After I picked some peaches, cherries, and plums, I dumped the basket out in a clover patch to make this image. Even if I were to never eat a single bite of this fruit, growing it is worth it because it is so beautiful.

Yesterday I covered the Artesian Arts Festival, a growing, super-popular Native American street festival in Sulphur, Oklahoma. I usually go early so I can beat the heat, and even though I was there right at the start time, it was packed.

I saw my friend Margaret, who was showing her art in one of the booths.

I got these four giveaway garden plants in the ground last night, two bell pepper plants and two Cherokee purple tomatoes.
I got these four giveaway garden plants in the ground last night, two bell pepper plants and two Cherokee purple tomatoes.

I shot well, and as I was leaving, I got two green bell pepper plants and two Cherokee purple tomato plants from a giveaway program. I got them planted in the garden last night.

On the way home, I brought lunch for us from San Remos, a bake ziti for Abby, and a veggie pizza for me, then ate as I worked my images from the festival and delivered them to my editor.

Later in the evening, I decided to pick some of my huge crop of early Elberta peaches, from the tree I felt certain had doomed itself by blooming too early, just before a hard freeze.

I am also astonished by how well all my other trees are doing. I have plums for the first time ever, and a huge number of cherries. Some seasons I am just happy to see my trees be trees, and some seasons shower me with produce. It’s almost impossible to guess how it will go, since there are so many variables, but in many ways, that’s one of the fun things about it.

Hawken, our 160-pound Irish Wolfhound, slobbers over a peach I gave him a few nights ago. The next time I looked up, he had eaten it.
Hawken, our 160-pound Irish Wolfhound, slobbers over a peach I gave him a few nights ago. The next time I looked up, he had eaten it.

FInally, I had the urge to shoot a few mags of 9mm through my Ruger P95, the same one I dreamed about recently.

In the dream...
I catch some thugs trashing the house, but am too late to confront them. I am able to shoot one round from my 9mm into the back of their car from more than a mile away. Abby and I are then in the first class section of a 747 headed for Houston. For some reason I still have my 9mm. I wear it in an open holster or put it on the table in front of me. No one seems to notice or care, which I find very odd, and am unable to find anywhere to put it out of sight. People complain that my laptop is too loud, but say nothing about the fact that I am armed.

I hadn’t put any combat calibers downrange since January, and felt rusty. It was good to get back in the swing, and I shot competently.

There has been a lot of Oklahoma weather news this month, including tornadoes and flooding, but our little patch of green in the country is doing just fine.

My Ruger P95 leans against my tan range bag on the gun bench down by the pond last night. I put 70 rounds through it, with satisfying results.
My Ruger P95 leans against my tan range bag on the gun bench down by the pond last night. I put 70 rounds through it, with satisfying results.

 

A Sick Day, and the Long-Awaited Eyesore

In this entry…

  • I am home sick, which is very rare.
  • Workers are installing a long-awaited cell tower next door.
  • Why and when I prefer tablets over phones.
This is the view looking southwest toward our house from the site of a new cell tower in our next door neighbor's pasture,
This is the view looking southwest toward our house from the site of a new cell tower in our next door neighbor’s pasture,

Everyone who knows me is aware that I seldom get sick, and even seldomer stay home from work sick, but the past two days have taken me down, with dizziness, vertigo, and malaise. I thought it might be a bad reaction to a medication, but Abby seems to be having it too, so now we think it might be a virus of some type.

Being down for even a day or two is very frustrating for me, as I am very healthy, very active, stay as busy as a bee, and remain super motivated to get things done. I’m feeling better enough today to be up and about, and will probably return to work tomorrow. If nothing else, being sick helps to remind me that many people deal with chronic debilitating illness, and I should always remain grateful for my health.

Although I mostly laid in bed yesterday, I did get up-ish for a while in the evening. Abby and I watched some game show bloopers on YouTube, then went back to bed, but not before I stepped out to photograph a major change to our patch of green: a cell tower is being installed next door.

Workers set blocks in the foundation of a cell tower they are installing in the pasture to our north.
Workers set blocks in the foundation of a cell tower they are installing in the pasture to our north.

My feelings about this event are mixed and complex…

  • It will be an eyesore. I have never liked the look of cell towers.
  • It is damaging to the land, as the crew dug a fairly deep hole for the foundation, and built a short gravel road to it.
  • It isn’t as damaging to the land as it potentially could have been. For example, they only tore down a couple of walnut saplings and a couple of elm saplings, which I had just kind of let grow.
  • All the work is on the other side of the property line, on the land that once belonged to the Milligans (Abby’s first in-laws), but which now belongs to the Nipps, our favorite neighbors.
  • The builders told me the first client will be ATT. We rely on cellular phone and data service, and Byng was a notorious ATT dark zone. We are glad the service will be better, although in the house now we use VoIP, not tower service.
  • The builders, who said they were from Saint Louis, also told me it will be a free-standing 300-foot tower. They said, “it’s not going anywhere. Cell towers like this in the Joplin tornado stayed up.”
  • I’m kind of an antenna guy, so it would hippocritcal for me to come down on antennas just because they are in my back yard.

The equipment has been roaring away for two days now, digging and moving earth. I expect it will be another week before the tower is up, and maybe months before ATT gets the service equipment in place, but it will be nice to have a cell signal on our phones for a change.

The tower installation crew built this short gravel road from the Nipps' driveway to the site.
The tower installation crew built this short gravel road from the Nipps’ driveway to the site.

Finally, a friend of mine recently bought an iPad, nearly identical to the ones Abby and I have, and after using it for a day or two decided it wasn’t the game-changer he thought it would be. I guess he was looking for it to revolutionize his photography in some way, possibly making it easier to shoot and edit with the bigger-screened tablet.

One of the myths of tablets is that they are better than phones, but the truth is they are almost the same as phones, with the only real difference being the size of the screen. To me as a professional photographer, I would almost always carry and use the phone because of its compact size. The times I love a tablet is personal time, when I want to stream a movie or watch YouTube from the couch or the bed.

My iPhone rests on the screen of my iPad, which sits cradled in its Zagg case and keyboard.
My iPhone rests on the screen of my iPad, which sits cradled in its Zagg case and keyboard.

Who Line Is It Anyway?

When Abby and I were first dating in 2003, Friday nights were often occupied watching a show that aired on ABC and ABC Family at the time, Whose Line Is It Anyway? We balled up together on the couch and laughed out loud all night.

In the Netflix era, we watch almost no “aired” television any more, but we own a couple of seasons of Whose Line on DVD, and last night Abby suggested we ball up on the big blue couch and watch. We laughed like hyenas.

It might be fun to pick out a couple of Whose Line games, like “90-second alphabet,” and do them at Open Mic Nyte.

If we look a little crazy here, it's because we are laughing so hard at the amazing Whose Line Is It Anyway?
If we look a little crazy here, it’s because we are laughing so hard at the amazing Whose Line Is It Anyway?

What to Do, What to Do…

In the middle of Lethal Weapon, which my wife never turns down when I offer to watch it, I photographed this amazing sky from the back deck.
In the middle of Lethal Weapon, which my wife never turns down when I offer to watch it, I photographed this amazing sky from the back deck.

Sometimes it feels like I want to do too many things. I want to write, I want to load the dishwasher, I want to mow, I want to play with lights in my studio, I want to take an extra walk with Hawken, I want to clean in the garage, I want to experiment with lenses, I want to shoot my guns, I want to tend my garden, I want, I want, I want…

Summer the Chihuahua lays on Abby's lap this morning. We adopted her last year, and she has become a great member of our family.
Summer the Chihuahua lays on Abby’s lap this morning. We adopted her last year, and she has become a great member of our family.

We all get like this, and sometimes the tendency is to not do anything at all.

I, on the other hand, make myself stop for a second, and remember than I can’t do all these things at once, and I should do just one thing. That’s me today, and my first activity is writing what you are reading.

On another front, two good friends who are my age are having health problems. One of them might be having a heart attack (or may have had one), and is being stubborn about seeking medical care, and the other has a nerve issue combined with hypertension, which you can read about in his blog here (link.)

Yes, it’s disconcerting when my young friends are now old friends with old people problems, but the up side is that Abby and I are both fine at the moment, as are Summer the Chihuahua and Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. To complicate the roller coaster ride is the fact that Max the Chihuahua, who is 15, is still sliding toward the inevitable: he can’t see or hear, and he is unable to move like he once could. He remains a loyal and wonderful dog, even though these are probably his last days or weeks.

Max the Chihuahua is about 15 years old. We adopted him in January 2006 one day before he was slated to be euthanized. He is a terrific dog.
Max the Chihuahua is about 15 years old. We adopted him in January 2006 one day before he was slated to be euthanized. He is a terrific dog.

A Strange Labor of Love

The refrigerator guy is coming Tuesday to repair our 2009 model Whirlpool Gold series fridge. It is a beautiful, spacious machine with great features, and I was sad to find it was making less and less cold as the last couple of weeks progressed, so I expect it needs refrigerant or a part, but it’s such a great machine, it is worth fixing.

Our broken-ish Whirlpool Gold Series fridge sparkles after I cleaned it tonight.
Our broken-ish Whirlpool Gold Series fridge sparkles after I cleaned it tonight.
Our perishables have been exiled to the fridge in the garage.
Our perishables have been exiled to the fridge in the garage.

I moved all the perishables into the much older garage fridge, which we had repaired when we got the new one, for occasions like Thanksgiving, or when I need a cold water while mowing, or like this one now.

In advance of the repair, I decided to unplug it, remove all the removables, and clean it. The design is remarkably friendly to this task, and before I knew it, I had all the shelves and compartments in my bathtub for a hot soap shower, and the inside of the “icebox” (as Abby calls it) and freezer sparkling like the day we bought it. It was a surprisingly fun activity. My sister will tell you that cleaning, when it goes well, is ingrained in us by our mother Sarah Jo.

I will take a moment to carefully editorialize about the state of sales and service in our world (careful since my own profession relies on direct sales): as I was attempting to set up Tuesday’s repair, the specialist on the other end of the phone aggressively, almost insistently, tried to sell me a blanket warranty for all the other appliances in our house. I let her talk, but I didn’t buy anything else but the one repair, and here’s why: if someone is selling you something this aggressively, they are making a fortune off of you, and not doing you any favors. Extended warranties are another example. Stay away.

I bought six button batteries, probably weighing less than an unladen European swallow, and Amazon Prime sent them in a box big enough for a pair of hiking boots. Is this in any way good for the environment? Couldn't they have just as easily put them in an envelope?
I bought six button batteries, probably weighing less than an unladen European swallow, and Amazon Prime sent them in a box big enough for a pair of hiking boots. Is this in any way good for the environment? Couldn’t they have just as easily put them in an envelope?

Digging in the Dirt

This is where it starts. It ends with the first frost of November. My live plants this year included bell peppers, tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes.
This is where it starts. It ends with the first frost of November. My live plants this year included bell peppers, tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes.

Readers might recall that last year I got my garden in the ground a little early, on April 8, and that decision was not without consequence, as just a week later I had to cover all my plants to protect them from freezing.

A wet year has yielded a full pond. I hope it stays full, but it is shallow, so any hot or dry period will reduce it significantly.
A wet year has yielded a full pond. I hope it stays full, but it is shallow, so any hot or dry period will reduce it significantly.
I've had this small tiller for a few years, and it's never been a great machine. A neighbor and I tried all our tricks to fix it, but it either wouldn't start or wouldn't throttle up to till. I might sell it, or I might have a mechanic look at it.
I’ve had this small tiller for a few years, and it’s never been a great machine. A neighbor and I tried all our tricks to fix it, but it either wouldn’t start or wouldn’t throttle up to till. I might sell it, or I might have a mechanic look at it.

Tilly the Tiller won’t run, at least not usefully, so all my planting this year is at the end of my shovel. Yesterday I got all my tomato, cherry tomato, and bell peppers in the ground, and today I hope to get seeds in the ground; squash, cantelope, cucumber, and marigolds.

Last year I also put in radishes, turnips, and lettuce, but we didn’t eat any of them.

The garden overall will be smaller than last year. In 2018, I bought a huge number, 24 as I recall, of tomato and bell pepper plants, from a local high school horticulture program. That number determined the size of my garden in concert with the smooth operation of Tilly the Tiller. This year, I decided that so many plants demanded a lot of time and attention, so I got eight tomato plants (2 cherry), and eight peppers. I am also certain based on last year’s excessive (but fun) yield that this number of plants will provide all the produce I can pick.

Hot is the new Sweet?
When shopping for plants yesterday, I only found a few bell pepper plants, but hundreds of hot pepper plants. It’s possible that most people have gotten their regular peppers in the ground already and the only peppers left are hot, but based on the layout of the garden center, I think it more likely that more people are buying and growing hot pepper plants. Neither Abby nore I care for hot peppers, but I know a lot of people who do.
It looks like I may get peaches and cherries this year. These are cherry blossoms last week. There are no freezing temperatures in the forecast.
It looks like I may get peaches and cherries this year. These are cherry blossoms last week. There are no freezing temperatures in the forecast.

Also I took our toddler bed to Abby’s hair stylist for her child, then went to Walmart for supplies. On the way home I bought lunch, mixed vegetables for both of us from Famous Wok, and felt like a real husband bringing it home to her, and a real husband sharing it with her.

My tomato and bell pepper plants are in the ground.
My tomato and bell pepper plants are in the ground.