Friday, March 24, 2017

Gourds in the Driveway

It was a ridiculous idea, more of mad scientist-type experiment, really. I was pretty sure it would fail since there wasn't much sun. But I just had to try growing gourds - bushel gourds, the kind that can grow really big ("yuge"even) - in the driveway. The concrete would provide warmth, and weeding wouldn't be a problem at all. So who needs sunshine, right?

Right. As you can see in the photos above, by the end of July, the vine was strong, large and expanding. It had already been "topped" a number of times to help focus the energy on the gourds and not on the leaves. That old Zucchini Goddess had to practice her arts to get the baby gourds started, but she stopped working after four were pollinated. Bigger gourds come with fewer siblings. Think about it.

By the end of August, the gourds had reached their full size, about 9" - 10 " in diameter. But they were also really heavy - still full of water and probably weighing close to 15 lbs. (a "Princess" unit is around 12 lbs., and these were a bit heavier).

And by late September, the vine was looking more like a middle-aged parent - still going strong, but not quite as fresh and vibrant, and carrying a few scars and bruises. The "children" however, were glossy and almost kissable.

It took a loooong time for the gourds to cure and dry down. Looong time, and it's still not over. But by early February, the gourds had pushed forward on their own weight loss program. Now they are very light and, when shaken, the interior mass has shrunken and slides around. They are not yet down to just dried out seeds inside, but that is the path, and with any luck, it won't be too much longer.

Their outsides are marked with mold. But once they are completely cured, I will wash them, lightly sand their surfaces and oil them. And after that?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Rummaging in the World's Attic

The British went everywhere, stayed in most of those places and hauled off all that they could carry. And so far at least, have been quite successful at hanging onto much of the loot that they brought back. So we went to have another look:

Seven museums. Six historic pubs (a few we visited more than once). Four "heart attack on a plate" breakfasts. Three drizzly days. Two transit passes that took us everywhere. One full week in London. And no complaints.

Really. Even the coffee was much improved from our last visit. And we certainly ate well enough, although only one meal could actually be considered "British".

Sky Garden Views
from the 34th Floor
Houses of
The London building boom of the past twenty years or so has relentlessly reshaped the city. Historic buildings which have stood alone for hundreds of years now sit in the shadows of giant architectural statements. Meaning yes, the city was crowded, so just imagine what June must be like...

And if I were to mimic the British and bring just one single treasure back with me? It would be really difficult to choose, but I think that if I could have found a way, this Hellenistic solid gold wreath of oak leaves and acorns, intermixed with a bee and cicadas from around 350 - 300 BC would have followed me home. I'm sure I could have found a way for it to fit within my carry-on allowance.