Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Echoes Of Gardeners Past....

I could have sworn last week that I heard my grandfather's voice coming out of my own mouth.  We were getting ready to grill some hamburgers and I grabbed a tomato from the garden and began to slice it.  Now, if you've ever seen or enjoyed a home-grown tomato, you will know exactly where I'm coming from.  But the sight of the insides of it just about brought tears to my eyes.  Red all the way through, not too hard or chalky, not too soft or mushy.  It was perfect.  It was kind of a tiny affirmation to me that I am living my life right.  Yes, I am doing my part to tend the earth, and to be a good steward (it sounds melodramatic and silly when I write it out, but I think things like this sometimes.  I'm a little absurd this way.)  
And then, as my son watched on, I uttered a phrase that I distinctly remember my grandfather saying time and time again, and that I suspect is said perhaps more than any other during the summer.  I pointed to the plate and said, "Now, THAT"S a tomato!!"  Jason, of course, rolled his eyes.  He and Grace have way more important things to do than listen to me gush about tomatoes, or peppers, or pumpkins, or plums.  Oh well.
For all of you gardeners, I have a hilarious book to recommend.  It's by William Alexander and it's called (and here it's frustrating because I don't know how to make it underline, so I'll just put the title in quotes - I know it's not grammatically correct), "The $64 Tomato".  My favorite chapter was the one on deer and other garden enemies.  As Jamey and I battle moles in our yard, I can definitely relate.  A great read at the end of the summer.  Now I'm off to go check on the tomatoes.....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Corona as Currency In Garden Farms...

A few years ago, we cut down about 15 trees in our backyard.  Yes, 15.  These trees are called "trees of heaven" by arborists, but we consider that to be a huge irony since they basically spring up quickly and then, when they reach about 10 feet in height, simply die and stand there looking hideous in the yard.  They are more like giant weeds on steroids.  So "Charlie The Tree Guy" (it's his real name) came and cut them down, but because 1) I am a cheap miser, and 2) Jamey loves his tools, we thought we would do the rest by ourselves.  It saved us money and Jamey got to wield the chain saw, so it was all good, until it came time to actually move all of the debris off the property.  Too much stuff to move one truckload at a time!  Enter our neighbor, "Mike The Dump Truck Guy" (yep, that's his real name too, and yes, my neighbor has a dump truck.  Full-sized and everything) who agreed to come down and take away the offending branches to the dump.  His price?  A case of Corona.  No kidding!  We thought at the time that this was rather an anomaly, a one-time occurrence, but apparently Corona is worth more than I would have thought, because it was the price of another service this summer.  This one involved Jamey's beach-wagon, Sandy, and a part that he needed to have something done to (I can't even begin to explain it.  I just know 'she' had to go up on the racks for a couple of days.)  I guess a case of Corona will buy you some car parts and service or a dump truck.  You might try it on your own mechanic the next time you need some work done!  
Besides Corona, which I would prefer never to drink or buy, there are other items that are frequently bartered in the neighborhood.  One of the favorites is eggs, which can be traded for homemade bread, jars of jam, or pretty much anything from the farmers' market.  Of course surplus produce is always handy to trade - tomatoes for walnuts, persimmons for apples, etc.  Except the dreaded zucchini, which is like old pennies in the neighborhood currency.  Everyone has too much of it (the annual zucchini game is on - see June 18, 2008 blog entry).
Note - Sandy the beach wagon was having work done to prepare her for her debut in the famous 'El Camino Cruise Night' next Friday.  This is an annual Atascadero event where some people with really nice cars, some people with really old cars, some people with really unique cars, and some people who probably have spent way too much real money on Corona, drive their vehicles up and down El Camino Real, while other people sit and watch, ooh and aah, occasionally snicker, and smell lots of carburetor fumes.  I will be in a chair along the route, hopefully with camera in hand, ready to snap some pictures of the big event.  And in my other hand, probably an icy cold coke zero.  Or perhaps an A & W root beer float.  But definitely not a Corona.