Catching Up

I haven’t posted since the 8th!?

Well, that is no indication that things aren’t happening, of course. Besides for the normal – work, reading, and the like, I have begun putting in a trellis for my new muscadines and have been regularly watering the vegetables and fruit. I’ve been mulching, in an foolhardy attempt to stem the tide of weeds. I took apart a trampoline with the help of my wife, no small feat. And I’ve been searching for Windows RT apps for some of my regular tasks. Then there’s the bottling of mead, and starting a pineapple wine. Oh, and the completion of my mint liqueur. Where to begin?

Vegetables and Fruit: The Garden

The squash is doing very well, with grand leaves covering numerous squash and even more squash-blossoms. The ones in more shade are of course smaller, but overall there is little to complain of here. Last year, the placement of the squash yielded the saddest of plants – it was hardly worth having planted them. This year, their cousins, the zucchini squash, took their place. And it is their turn to do poorly in the far, shaded corner of the garden. Between our fig tree and the neighbors trees, our garden could use some better placement. But you work with what you have.

A friend provided us a number of different tomato varieties. As we had planted last year’s tomatoes very near the poor location the squash had occupied, we were not prepared for the growth these plants would see in the sunny garden center. Almost all have completely outgrown their cages, and one completely leveled it. It looks like we will have a wide range of tomatoes – some for stewing, some for eating, etc. Although all are still quite green, I can see some that are the classic round shape and some that are oblong, almost boxy.

The cabbage found a friend, we think a slug. That and the shade is making for poor results. The slug, if indeed it is the slug, prefers the purple cabbage to the green.

The watermelon plants are doing very well, as well. Situated between the squash and the tomatoes, there are a vast number of blossoms, and a half dozen or more mini-watermelons already on the vine. I’m sure my kids will be thrilled. Not sure what to do with watermelon other than eat it. Both jam/jelly and wine sound…iffy. Fermented/pickled watermelon rind? Sounds like something doable.

We’ve watched as the blueberries have developed, and we’ve finally gotten some to mature. Not enough to really do anything major with; just enough to eat while perusing the rest of the garden. It is really only one of the bushes that has produced eatable blueberries so far, the one planted last year. This year’s dwarf blueberry has some blue-on-one-side-green-on-the-other berries, but nothing I would call “done”. ‘The blueberry bush that came with the house is still just teasing us, no blue in sight, though plenty of mid-sized green berries. And the three blueberry bushes that stayed in pots over the winter rather than getting planted are still doing very little, though they have nice green foliage. I’m not expecting much this year. But that’s what The Happy Berry is for!

The fig tree is doing superbly, with huge leaves that just beg to be made into fig liqueur, and too many figs to count. The figs are green  – far from ready. But they are sign of good things down the line.

The muscadines are crying out for a trellis to support them, and I did get the first 3 of five poles cemented into the ground with Kim’s help. But I haven’t put up the cross bar or run the wire yet. At this point, it probably won’t happen till end of July or beginning of August, as we are going to be doing some summer travelling during the weekends.

Some pictures from mid-June:

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And more recently:

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New Toy

For my anniversary/Father’s Day, I got a Dell XPS10, with Windows RT. The tablet is pretty awesome, and came with a docking keyword with an extended battery. Very cool. But the newness of the device and its OS has meant a limited number of apps. Still quite a large number, but some noticeable “missing” tools. Probably the one I was most stunned by was the lack of a Pandora app. But TuneIn has found a warm spot in my heart, especially with AnimeNfo out of Japan.

One tool I was interested in was an alternative to using Project Professional. Making wine, I love setting up the timeline and its ability to auto-adjust as thing are completed. I don’t like trying to figure out when the next thing is ready or “due”. Now there are numerous task applications in the Windows app store. I still haven’t found one that combines more “project”-style functionality. But I remain hopeful that over time something will come up. Of course, a pre-built app for recording recipes and managing brewing task schedule, etc. would be perfect. But I have not found anything remotely like that.

The other app I have been looking for is something that manages a home budget. I wanted two major features: an ability to mark items as reconciled with the bank, and the ability to manage “envelopes”, with best case being some way to rollup the totals of all the envelopes as a bank account total. That seems like a tall task. I’ve found some web apps, even free ones, with the enveloping concept. None really aggregate the way I would like. And many allow validation, but few allow easy reporting or aggregates based on the data. I could just keep with Excel, but was hoping not to. Anyway, I’ve found something, and am testing it out.

All that to say that looking for and testing out apps has been taking quite a bit of me evening time – probably one of the major reasons I haven’t been as active writing. That, and Tetris.

Well, it is getting late, and I have another busy day ahead, so I’m calling it quits here. Hopefully tomorrow I can follow up with progress on the mead, braggot, pineapple wine, and such.

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