Sunday, May 25, 2014

I know...It's been, like, forever...

Where the H. E. double hockey sticks have I been?

Actually, right here for the past YEAR AND A HALF...almost. Staring at the screen. My Much more significant other would poke me from time to time to make sure I was still alive.

Writers block? Mental block? Rock around the clock?

The 2 cent tour is: bad back, bee stings...many many many bee stings, and a monumental amount of really lame excuses as to why I couldn't blog.

Call it Blog fright. Something like stage fright but without the stage, people, lights and me. I took lots of pictures and they have been sitting on my little SD card for months.

So many things I have been wanting to write but I. just. couldn't. do. it. I know, weird, right?

Okay, to recap. My garden last year was less then good. Frankly, it was meh. I stressed the soil and the yield was kind of awful. I was down right bummed out. (who the heck uses that expression anymore?)  Then on top of that, my bees were like freaking crazy bees from hell.

I have a total bee sting count of 26. Most of which were from last year.

The worst one was the sting on my shin. Because the swelling really hasn't any place to go in that very thin skinned area, it goes everywhere else. It wound up looking like this...

 photo elephantleg_zps62bd9d3e.jpg

(word of advise: if you ever google "elephant leg" be prepared to see things you can't unsee)

My calf blended in very nicely with my foot, skipping my ankle entirely.

So while I sat at home on my couch with my leg up, hoping my toes would return to their normal state instead of pork rolls, I found myself two days later with a killer back ache.

As a result my already less than spectacular garden suffered from neglect until my back healed.

Oh and how did I sting my leg in first place? I was inspecting a swarm of bees on the roof of my building where I work. I didn't have my "bee boots (sneakers)" and a freakin' bee crawled up my leg!!!

Okay, so that sucked.

Then there was this...

 photo Stungface_zps0a388b68.jpg

Now if you didn't know me or what I look like, you would think, yeah, the eyes are a little shut but nothing bad. But the observant of you out there have noticed that this is a mirror image, with both sides swollen.

Now this is what I really a looked like...

As an old friend out in California once remarked when he saw me after a bicycle accident...

 photo face_zps7149bcf7.jpg


That was just one sting. And what gets me, what really pee's me off is that the little bugger stung me right under the arm of my glasses! How the EFF????!!!

Then finally, there is this one. Now, this is a few days after the swelling has gone down but if you think of a normal ear, then look at mine, then you will see just how bloated it really is. Okay, and yes, I have earlobes like Jon Bernthal...

 photo MV5BMTcwNzA5MDg0OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTU2NjE0Nw_V1_SY317_CR90214317_AL__zpse39ee8dd.jpg

Well maybe not. You could put hammocks on those things.

Anyway, a little background, when I was a kid, I got stung by squadron of mosquitos on the very same ear. And as a result, since then, my brother loves to regale those willing to listen of the tale about the massive kamikaze attack on my hearing apparatus. Well, this blows that out of the water...

 photo photo-1_zps81190c28.jpg

See that little brown dot on the outer rim of my ear? That's where the little yellow and black striped demon stung me!!!

Now, most rational people would think, "That's it, I'm done, no more bees!" Considering that the sting on my face and on my ear happened when I was gardening, I wasn't even inspecting the hives!! I'm not even going into the 6, yes 6, stings I got on my hand and wrist! This happened because my sweat-soaked bee gloves pasted to my arms!  This then allowed the bees unfettered access to my skin through the very thin material - to sting me!!! (I've gotten new gloves since)

(I'm going for my own personal record for the amount of exclamation points used)

Why am I still keeping them? (get it, keeping them...bee keeping...heh...heh...ah yeah...)

Because of the tasty, tasty honey--which is basically bee vomit.

So that's why!

Upon reflection, I should retitle this blog the "woe is me" blog for the giant pity party I'm throwing myself.

You just try to deal with multiple bee stings and see how you react!...WHAT...ever! ...(sulk sulk)

Okay, now that was weird.

On to the Garden!!!


That's why y'all read my rantings anyway, right? RIGHT?


Because of my back, stings and other ailments, I have had to put all the other projects on hold for a while, however, that didn't prevent me from turning over the soil and putting in some fresh compost.

I had to do it in stages because if I did it in one shot, my back would have blown out completely and I wouldn't be, well,  writing this right now. So there! Naaaa! (sticks out tongue).

It's still early but I have some very interesting things to show you (well, interesting to me, and heck, this is my blog and if you don't like it, well just write your own! Please don't. I'm sorry. I need the viewers. Don't beat me)

(Taken with my fancy new picture taker)

First Zucs...

 photo photo-2_zpse86be96d.jpg

First, but not ripe, tomatoes...

 photo IMG_1856_zps9d93f047.jpg

Acorn Squash...

 photo IMG_1868_zps57b25969.jpg

Spaghetti Squash...

 photo IMG_1869_zps58e66479.jpg


 photo IMG_1852_zpsb770b5fe.jpg

And now the mystery question for this post.

What the heck are these???

 photo IMG_1863_zps390fc67d.jpg


 photo IMG_1861_zps59bd3387.jpg

They popped out of my compost.

Any ideas?

Okay, I will do my best to actually write more instead of sitting and staring at the screen.

And as always, Green is Good even if it stings now and then.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Here comes the sun...doo doo do doo...

All right all right, calm down. I know, where they heck have I been?

Well, a couple of things. I was hoping to post the following amazing information last November but things got delayed and I got lazy. So there.

Anywho, the new season is upon us and I will be blogging more after my long winters slumber.

That aside, this will be just a quick blog and frankly, who doesn't like a quickie? Wait, what?

Rather than try and beat around the bush and keep you guessing, the big news is I got these...



NOOOOO! Not clouds! Ugh.

Solar Panels! Yayyyyyy!!!

Now I can't be spit upon by todays youth as being part of the problem! Hey! Get off my lawn!

(And no my house isn't sliding off it's foundation to the right)

The other reason why I delayed is because I wanted to show you what we paid for our first months Solar powered electricity.



Yup. 50 cents, 4 bits, half a buck. (technically it was 49 cents)

So after the governments rebate, the income tax credit we paid roughly $5000 for the array.

Calculating our historic monthly bill, we have figured they will be paid off in just over 5 years. The money we save goes right back into the bank.

But wait SuburbanDweller, didn't you have to wade through all sorts of red tape and crazy "gobmint" bureaucracy?  For a long time I really wanted to do this and I knew there were rebates available but I had no idea where to begin and which installation company to trust.

One day last year, I had a very enlightening conversation with I wonderful woman I work with by the name of Katie. She and her husband John had just had panels installed. She told me about a great company out of San Antonio called Circular Energy. I contacted a gentleman by the name of Gary Royal and we started the process.

First we needed an energy audit to find out if our house was energy efficient. You see, the Feds are funny that way, if they are going to give you a rebate they want to make sure they are investing their money wisely. So we had to make sure our insulation and ductwork was up to snuff. And to make matters easier, both the state of Texas and the Feds offer rebates on the Audit. That was 1500 out of pocket but with the rebates it came down to 700.

Now our humble little abode was ready for Solar.

The best part about Circular is they take care of the paper work and contracting. We just had to read everything and sign our names.

Instillation took only a day and inspection by the city took place about 2 weeks later.

As I stated earlier, I wanted to write about this in November, but I couldn't because our instillation date was pushed back because, apparently, a lot of people are taking advantage of the savings from Solar!

So After they were installed, which was just after the first of the year, the savings began. Why then am I only seeing a 50 cent bill now and not last month? Because we had monthly averaging and had to pay that off.  Once done, we were ready for our first bill and there it was...


50 freakin' cents!

So as I say, Green is Good! But most of all, this goes toward my life long mission of trying to leave this earth a little better than when I entered it.

My carbon footprint just got that much smaller.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hey Guys! Wait up!!!

The title of this blog was my mantra in the early part of my life. I'm sure my Bro remembers it well. Up until I guess I was about 12 or 13, I wanted to hang around with my brother all the time. He was cool and I wanted to be cool, but cool doesn't work by osmosis. I hadn't figured that out yet. :)

So wherever he went, I wanted to tag along. They were always being bigger and taller and so would move a lot faster. So I would whine, "Hey Guys! Wait up!!"

Why am I relating this? Because it's catch-up time!

Yeah, I have been bad about blogging.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous internet denizens...

Sorry to get all Billy Shakespeare on you.


What have I been up to? Well, me being of the Texas variety and our summers being of the insane heat variety as well, I took the summer off from planting. "Say it ain't so!!!!" Yes, yes, (humbly bows head) I have thrown in the towel of trying to grow anything resembling something fresh and eatable during the insane summer months.

My water tanks thank me.

My aching back thanks me.

And something else which I can't thing of right now, thanks me.

However, all did not come to a screeching halt.

The bees still buzzed.

"Oh no, not another bee blog, ugh!" No. Thank you very much, but it was the only thing that kept me busy gardening-wise.

There was other stuff, OTHER STUFF, OKAY!!!


Where was I, oh yeah, stuff.

Frankly, there wasn't much, but I do have some pretty pretty pictures to show you of leftover stuff.

Fine. WHAT-ever.

Remember my cutting up of my side walk, then I tempted you with this...


Well, then this happened...


As much as I would reeeeeally like to show you a pict of me in action with everything jiggling, it ain't happening. The Very Significate Other was at work and wasn't able to take any unflattering photos of me this time. That's a good thing.

Here's a close up...

(Guest appearance by the construction ghosts sneakers)

Once upon a time, in SuburbanGuy's primordial Texas days as a Filmmaker, I wasn't able to get a whole lot of film work, so I worked construction to make ends meet. The one thing that I remember was, "When Jackhammering, make sure the pieces are the size of your fist". That was said to me by my very tiny fisted Supervisor.

So if you think hauling around a concrete cutter is fun, a Jackhammer is a load of laughs. Here's the final results.


Then came the really fun part. The "fun part" is open, way open to debate...

Making somewhat square rocks into, well, squarer rocks. Wait, what?

Take these rocks...


With a hammer and chisel and chop of this stuff...


And make it into this...


Now remember that pile?


Do it to all of them.


Well, after about 20 or so blocks, my elbow whispered into my ear. More like yelled, "You ain't 25 no more!!!" Or 30 or 35 or 40 or...let's just stop there, okay?

Tennis anyone? Not me.

So I will get back to it, just have to let ice work it's magic. :)

In the mean time, I was still able to put what I chiseled and what I didn't to work for the moment. This is only temp...

(Ghostly laundry)

We had gotten some really pretty Esperanzas  and needed to plant them, but since I was going to put in a raised bed in this spot, I had to think of something quick to work as a hold over. Here's a better shot...


So that's were that is at and I'm hoping it won't stay at that stage much longer. Especially now that the weather is at the "Safe-For-Humans" level again.

Okay, now for the bees. I know, I know, you are all on the edge of your seats.

Cut me some slack. The bees are the only thing standing between me and going postal. Well, not really but it sounded good, didn't it?

One Sunday morning, SO and I were having breakfast. SO says to me, "Look at the bees".

First a little quick background. Usually around 9-10am each day, the bees are getting ready for their daily rounds, so they "swarm" per say. Not really swarm, but there is a lot of activity. This morning, there was A LOT of activity. Deep in the lizard part of my brain, a little voice spoke up, "Bees swarm. Not good. They go away. You be sad".

Aside from it being a truly awe inspiring site, I was indeed sad. :(

They went bananas and swarmed into my neighbors tree.

There is no "Unswarming". Once they swarm, they are on a mission.

Here's a tip, bees are are at their most docile when they swarm. They are loaded down with honey and pollen for their new digs. Wherever that might be. Not that I'm suggesting you go play with swarming bees, but they aren't apt to try and sting much.

So anyway, SO says to me, "You are taking this pretty well". All I can say is, I had a feeling they were going to swarm. Me being the novice beekeeper, sometimes it's like trying to find the light switch in a pitch black room. I had noticed some "Queen" cells in the hive. That's when the hive wants a new queen for one reason or another. And again, my lizard brain kicked in and said, "Queen cells bad. Bees no like hive. Bees probably hate you". Since when did my lizard brain have an opinion about the bees attitude towards me? I hate my lizard brain so much! It's always right! Stupid lizard brain!!!

Okay, huh, maybe I should think about dealing with my id sometime?


One week later, again at breakfast, SO says to me, "Oh look..." She didn't need to finish the sentence, I was already looking. They were swarming again. I sat there, drinking my tea, philosophically reflecting on my hive swarming twice in one week. First I said, "Shut up, Lizard brain!" Then I thought, I need to "requeen" the hive. I had to do it quick. A "queen-less" gets very aggressive and all sorts of other problems can happen. It was a miracle I had any bees left at all!

I had to make sure there weren't any queens at all in the hive first. After a very close and very tedious inspection I found a Queen that wasn't laying eggs. There is a term for that type of Queen but I don't remember it. Let's just call her "A pain in the @ss" ;) I plucked here out...

I was ready for a new Queen. It was just a matter of finding one. Through a series of panicked emails to my bee group and a couple of calls later. I was able to get a new queen and introduce her two days later!

A very long story, short, I have a new Queen and she's laying eggs!

If you want the gory details email me. (Well, they're not really all that gory, just frustrating)

I'm happy to report the hive is healthy once again.

Now finally onto the garden.

I just put in my fall crop...



(The Garden Ghost makes an appearance)

I know, pictures of dirt.

Here's what I have planted...

Kale, chard, broccoli, beets, turnips, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage and onions.

The potatoes and garlic go in, in December.

In the side yard, I'm trying something out with my Blackberry bushes. It's called propagating.

Yeah, duh, that sounds obvious, but it's a little different...


The long stems on the bush can be planted directly into the ground.

Dig a hole and put a healthy stem about 6 inches into the ground...


In a couple of months the stems will root and I just have to cut the stem up from the ground about foot.

This is part of a "fence" line of blackberry bushes I have been wanting to have. If everything works out, I will have gone from my current 4 bushes to 9 in the spring! Pretty cool. :)

Well that's it! Whew! That was a lot. And as always, here are some quick photos from this past summer...

Backyard archeology...










And Paulie...

And a friendly warning next time you need a caffeine fix from your local gas station...

On that note and an end to this very long installment of my blog,
Green is Good!! Frustrating, crazy, philosophical, but always good.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ton O'tomato...

See what I did there?

This week I'm interrupting regular programming to bring you our little tomato-fest.

And to be upfront, my new insane project isn't going to be finished anytime soon, so let's stop fooling ourselves okay? I know I try to fool myself into thinking it's already done.

So let's talk "matoes". No, better yet, let's talk TON O'TOMATO! Okay, I'll stop now.


Sure, you see the red ones, but if you look a little closer, you will a whole butt load of tomatoes that have yet to ripen. I see 6 almost ready to go, but if you look really closely, you will see at least another 10, if not more. However, there is probably another 10-15 that are hidden by the leaves. And this is only two freaked plants!!

I have already harvested, roughly, 30 tomatoes. Well, what do we do with 30 tomatoes? Eat'em, what else?

This is just my regular "Better Boy" tomatoes, we have a whole bunch of "Sun Sugars"on deck...


I'm picking anywhere between 3 and 8 of these a day.

So besides sitting on our sill ripening and rotting, what do we do with them?

Well, we likes that to-mate-a sauce on our 'sketti.

But in order to use said tomAHtos, we must get them ready. And to do that you must blanche them.

Scene: Late night at a seedy after hours club. The bar tender was finished cleaning up and needed to use the john. When he opened the door, his face blanched at the sight!

Yeah, something like that only mine involves boiling water, an ice bath and a blender. Huh, maybe that's what the bartender saw.

First, get some of these.


Grow'em or buy'em.

Boil some water...


(was this photo really necessary?)

Some ice water...


(sorry, I know this is getting painful)

And a blender. I'll skip that photo and save you all 2 seconds of your life you will never get back.

Oh and one of these...


So you don't scald yourself, unless you are into that sort of thing.

Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanche for 60 seconds. Fish them out then drop them into the ice bath.


(I'm really sorry. I took a lot of photos)

Then after a few seconds, they are cool enough to handle.

The skin will come right off...

(guest appearance by Mr. Hand)

Then core them (yes, I have a photo of that as well)


Finally, drop them into the blender. (I really am sorry, yet another photo)


When full, let it rip!

And here is what you get...


A frozen jar of puree'd tomatoes. I took all these freak'in pictures and forgot to get a photo when I was all done. I quite literally ran out to our freezer and snapped a quick photo of it. Yeah, I'm so smart.

This is just one jar of 3. We aren't even close to being done. I suspect we will have another 10 of these jars (at least) when all the tomatoes are picked.

While we loves ourselves some tomato sauce, we also like...

Sun dried tomatoes (actually dehydrated. Honestly who has time to watch tomatoes dry in the sun for 3 days? Well, I guess I could catch up on a little reading while I got eaten alive by mosquitos)



Pico De Gallo. Yummmmm, this was sooooooo good!

So needless to say, we have tomatoes a plenty for a while.

Don't worry, I will be back next week with more misery regarding my insane project of death. :)

In the mean time, here are some photos from my garden!


Zinnia's? (not sure, I'll have to ask the SO)

Morning Glories..


And a teeny tiny Lantana (this little flower is smaller than a dime)

That's all for this week.

Remember, as always, Green is Good!