Sunday, September 26, 2010

Revisiting Autumn

After a bumpy start to my evening, I finally managed to be calm, even cheerful, for most of the night. I've had a crockpot meal cooking, and several windows open to let in the fresh (and cold!--49 degrees) air. It smells like fall in our house, with the combination of fresh cold air and cooking pork, onions, and green chiles. That's great, the smell of fall, and it makes me happy.

But then I got a headache spike a little after 2 AM. It wasn't terrible, and it resolved after a few minutes, so I attributed it to the weather, as we've got a couple squall lines moving through. But then I felt anxious out of the blue. I was working--editing--and felt anxious, then started thinking about the hospital and going in for my D&C last fall. (It was a warm and rainy night when we went to the hospital with my heavy bleeding, but the next afternoon when they wheeled me down for surgery, they had the doors to the basement open and I talked with one of the doctors about how great the new first cold air of fall is, because it had just arrived that morning.) My feelings of anxiety, like my pain spike, went away fairly quickly and are mostly gone now, but a trace of them lingers, in the way that the feel of a particularly peculiar dream hangs around for a few hours after you wake up.

I wonder if these ups and downs are going to be common for the next few weeks, over the anniversary of...well, anniversaries, I guess...of the hospitalization for the miscarriage, the D&C, the beginning of my vision loss, my weeks of pain, and my eye surgery. It's been nearly a year since I've driven a car. Nearly a year since I've been able to look at my husband's face and see all its details all at once without having to shift my gaze just so.

Normally, I love fall. This year, I'm not sure how it's going to go. The next month promises to be an interesting revisit to an...interesting combination of bad and good.

Normally, I might expound upon the thought that's been chasing around in my head about autumn being the death of things preparing for rest and rebirth, and the cycle of life and healing, but tonight, I think I'll leave that for another time.

*Stringham high: autumn
*Stringham low: not-so-happy anniversaries (see above)
*Stringham super high: happy anniversaries (my parents' 36th year of marriage, my friend B's 1st year of marriage, my and Mike's 7th year of being together)

**Title links to a song that I'd like to "dedicate" in honor of those happy anniversaries and to our child, whom we never got to meet.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This Spud's for You

M and I dug up our 4 rows of potatoes this evening. We were fairly disappointed after our first row--golds. Most of them had been nibbled on by mice and were being further broken down by nature's composting helpers. We managed to save a few for "immediate" use, but we certainly didn't get a return on our investment. Not enough for storage to even register on our scale when we tried to weigh them.

At the end of that first row was a transplant or two we had discovered early in the year as volunteers in other parts of the garden--a couple of reds. They did really well, those two. They produced almost as many potatoes as the entire row of golds.

The second row was our russets. Not a huge number of potatoes, but boy, were those things big! We got a paper grocery bag of russets, 17.5 pounds. They won't go very far, but they'll store. Still, we were wondering if the potatoes were a return on investment, as russets aren't really expensive in the store.

The third row proved to be much more fruitful. This was a row of reds. They went hog wild. Most of them were nibble free and had grown without snarls and damage. (Yay!) We had so many potatoes from this row that when M started to uncover the fourth row, I had to sit down to clean and sort the reds from this row. It was certainly more than just a handful of potatoes to wipe the dirt and bugs off was an entire pile. Now we were thinking we may have gotten our investment back in seed potatoes and straw and fertilizer--not to mention the richness that the potatoes and straw seemed to be adding to our once low-nutrient soil. It was clear where the potatoes were, as the soil was much darker and richer, though still more compact than we'd like.

M dug up the fourth row while I cleaned all the reds. We knew the fourth row wouldn't be too productive, as the plants hadn't gotten very large this year, but M was digging and uncovering almost the entire time I was cleaning that huge pile of reds. This row seemed a mixture of russets and reds for some reason. Again, we had more of these damaged like the first row.

It seems our experiment of simply working up the first inch or two of soil and mixing in some fertilizer worked. We simply laid the seed potatoes on that softer earth and covered with straw, then kept covering the plants with straw as they grew. Yes, that was much better for growing spuds this year than putting them in the heavy, clay-like, waterlogged soil so prevalent on our property.

All told, we brought in a lot of potatoes this year:

21.5 lbs (mixed) for "immediate" use
8.5 lbs small reds
17 lbs medium reds
11 lbs large reds
17.5 lbs russets

Grand total: 75.5 lbs of spuds. With all those tasty reds, we're going to have a lot of garlic mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year!

* Stringham high: gardening
* Stringham low: disappointing gold potatoes
* Stringham super-high: almost half of M's body weight in potatoes for the year!