summer parties

One great thing about the summer and living at the lake is that we get lots of visitors. Seems like we have company most weekends, if only for a few hours. This past weekend we had Eileen and Andrew first then Tom and Simon joined us. Lindsay and her family join us on Saturday and on Sunday we party with the whole Brueggemann clan- been a while since we’ve done that. We usually don’t have too much warning and never know for sure how many people will show up so we usually have a generous portion of the freezer designated for fast, easy eating; for example big bags of chicken wings, Italian sausage, frozen spaghetti sauce and ciabatta rolls. Big cans of baked beans and pounds of elbow macaroni in dry storage so we can pull together a decent spread on very short notice now and still have plenty of time to recreate with the company down at the lake. Nancy always goes into a 10 minute panic and then pulls it off as smoothly as if it had been planned for 6 months. I walk down to the lake and cut away any brush that has grown over the path, knock down all the newly spun spider webs, sweep off the leaves on the dock and rearrange the chairs – 5 minutes total from start to finish. Then when the time comes, crank up the Holland grill. The great thing about that grill is that I can throw on the chicken, ribs or whatever, close the lid and rejoin the party. An hour later, pop open the grill and take off the goodies, cooked to perfection.

I’ve mentioned that I’m growing eggplants in the garden as I always do. I’ve planted the same variety for 3 years and prior to this year, they have performed well – nice looking plants and good fruit production. But this year is exceptional and I’m not sure why. The plants are 5′ tall and fully bushed out whereas in previous years, maybe they were 3‘ tall. The fruit and blossoms just keep coming. The plants have gotten so large that I’ve had to put in support stakes which I’ve never had to do before. I do rotate crops so they’re never grown in exactly the same place as before so I guess it’s possible that this particular location has the perfect mix of everything a happy eggplant needs but it can’t be more than 10′ from where they grew last year or the year before. I’m hoping it’s just that the general condition of the soil has improved so dramatically as I keep adding more and more compost to the mix. I think the other thing I didn’t appreciate is how well the eggplant tolerate and thrive in the heat and humidity. Other than peppers, everything else has given it up.

On the lasagna garden expansion, it’s now 3+ layers deep. I have a thick layer of newspaper overtopped with a layer of palmetto fronds overtopped with a layer of golden guardian marigold greens and misc bush branches. None of these layers have been chopped so it’s really rough organic material. My plan is to let that cook a week or so until there’s no green left and then to overtop with a 10-12” layer of mulch that’s been cooking for the last 4 months. I won’t do anything much further until a week or so before planting in mid to late September.

Damn, found another wasp nest. I hate it that I find them the hard way and normally get hit once or twice before I realize what’s happening. They hit fairly hard but not like the yellow jackets which feel like being hit with a fast ball. It hurts just as much after the initial hit but it’s a gentler attack and, unlike the yellow jackets, they go back to minding the nest and don’t chase after you to commit murder and mayhem. One of these guys got me on the right hand on the side of the palm over by the little finger. In 5 minutes I couldn’t close my fist. Also got one on the left forearm that swelled up a bit and hurt like hell. I used up my last can of wasp killer a month ago but have a bead on the nest and will launch a counter attack on it after my next trip to Lowes. Sure glad none of our weekend guests stumbled on it. That would have been ugly. This seemed like a two benedryl event so within an hour I was too groggy to care much.

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