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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 7/12/09 - 7/19/09

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trust Me, Its the Barenaked Ladies


Thursday, July 16, 2009

...And We Have PUMPKINAGE!

I consider this a success:


From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

If the pollination hadn't "taken", the bulb behind the flower would have yellowed and fallen off the vine by now. This was about 52 hours after the pollination, and the bulb has at least doubled in size.

I'll keep you updated on the progress on our pumpkin!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match....

I have this incredibly HUGE pumpkin plant taking over my backyard...

From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

And that's just the part of the one plant that's come through the fence and is actually bleeding into the front yard!

Anyway, I've grown pumpkins in the past and the best I traditionally do is most 2...pumpkins! This time around, I'm going to try my hand at (drumroll please!) hand-pollination!

I'd read that those enormous pumpkins you see winning blue ribbons at county fairs are typically hand-pollinated. And those who are super-serious will even use plastic bags to ensure the male and female flowers keep as much of their pollen on hand as possible!

How does this work? Well, for those who didn't realize, plants in the squash family -- to include cucumbers and pumpkins -- have both "male" and "female" flowers on the same plant. Male flowers are typically bigger and are on a longer stem, while female flowers will have a bulbous piece just behind the flower...which is what eventually becomes the squash itself when pollinated. On a pumpkin, the first you'd see male flowers -- LOTS of male flowers -- and then after several weeks (at least 4 weeks in my case), you will see female flowers appear. I've had less than 6 so far.

Here's a male flower. Note the thinner stem and the stamen in the center:
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

And the female flower. The bulb behind the flower and the multiple "stigma"...with an opening in the center for? You guessed it -- the male flower's pollen!
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

So here's the deal. You have to do this early enough in the morning that the flowers are all still open. Most pumpkin flowers will shrivel up by mid-day, especially on warm days. You pick a male flower off its stem, and pluck off the petals, exposing its "manliness":
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

Then you rub the male and female innards together...this is rated NC-17, sorry!
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

Now...some folks who have tried that have reported that you'll see evidence of success in as few as 12 hours -- the bulb will begin growing. In an unsuccessful pollination, the flower would fall off and the bulb will turn yellow and shrivel off the flower.

I'll check tomorrow morning for evidence of success/failure of today's pollination. There should be another flower ready to attempt tomorrow.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

And the Search is ON!

We're looking to replace our time-tested, wonderfully reliable 2003 Honda Odyssey. It's a great van, we love it still, it took us from here to the east coast and back last month without incident, which was great! But it's starting to get a bit old, and every trip to the dealership for an oil change ends up uncovering numerous other problems.

Here's a shot of Old Faithful when she was just a pup, still in the lot at Space Coast Honda, Rockledge, FL, on March 17, 2003:

From HondaOdyssey

I love the Odyssey for its smooth ride, spacious bucket seating for the boys in the middle row, and the option for a 3rd row of seats when you want to carry EVERYBODY, such as my boys and my 3 nephews on a road trip with my sister to Florida in 2007:
From 2007 08 03 VollmerBabaTriptoOrmondBeachFL

Dave loved that when the 2nd and 3rd rows of seats were removed, he could transport his train layout:
From HondaOdyssey

Cool, huh?

We also like having the flexibility to tow stuff, if need be. We've used the van to tow trailers, including this nifty camper last September:
From HondaOdyssey

(Mind you, it was horrible not being able to see behind us for the 4-hours-each-direction drive between Omaha and North Platte.)

But I have to admit, I'm getting a bit sick of driving a minivan. It was fun for a bit, but I'm not sure I want to continue. Those newer vans are pretty nice, though -- perhaps I can stick it out for one more vehicle cycle? Bottom line, the minivans can hold Dave's layout for a train show, and that's a very convenient thing for our family. Not to mention transporting the boys' friends around if need be.

What if I didn't have to get a minivan again? What do I want? THIS! The Hybrid version. I had a chance to ride in one earlier this year -- thanks Louise -- and it was so so so so nice!

Pros of a Highlander Hybrid:
1.) It's a sexy SUV. I don't have to feel quite so -- um -- matronly driving around town.
2.) It's a hybrid -- what can I say? We absolutely love our Prius and might be willing to invest in another Toyota hybrid.
3.) It has an option for a 3rd row of seats, many SUVs don't have that...
4.) We can still tow stuff with this particular hybrid, up to 3500 lbs. on a Class II hitch...not all hybrids can!

Cons of a Highlander Hybrid:
1.) Price -- the version I'm interested has 3 rows of seats, and it's the "Limited" version. Of course it's the most'll hover right around $40K. We haven't had a car payment in quite a while, so we need to make sure we can sustain the payment with our budget.
2.) Having a hybrid, as great as it is for the environment and gas budget...takes a certain amount of faith. Thanks to years of watching my Dad with tinker with his '70-something Honda Civic, I know minimal amount about automobiles. (Don't look now, but that's my 1989 MULLET!)
From HondaOdyssey
But with a hybrid, so much of it is computerized, you can't merely open the hood and see/smell/hear a problem. Instead, you have to take the vehicle to the local Toyota dealer and pay for a "diagnostic" test. Where the maintenance guys merely plug in the vehicle to a computer and the computer tells him/her what the problem is. With our Prius, we would get this red exclamation point that indicates a host of problems...only this "diagnostic computer" will tell us the real problem. That type of troubleshooting isn't necessarily for everyone.
3.) We'd get the 3rd row of seats and a towing capability with the Highlander, but we'd lose the immense cargo space. That's something Dave and I have discussed quite a bit -- how many more times does Dave intend to show his layout? He's in the midst of expanding the layout, meaning his ability to transport the layout in the back of the van might have some problems soon...who knows?

Running a close 2nd behind the Highlander Hybrid (in my opinion) is a 2009 Odyssey. Yep. Another minivan. I think Dave is leaning more towards the Odyssey -- after all, we love the one we have, why change, right?