A Leguminous Update

The Fasolds have long since topped their strings and are now engaged in further sky-reaching endeavors, twining around one-another in an attempt at the Indian rope trick of sorts. They’re all a-flower now — started sometime mid last week — so I should expect to see some wee beanage on them shortly.

The Climbing French, on the other hand, are of markedly different inclination. They’re only half the height of the Fasolds at the moment, but the cunning things put off multiple vines, so it’s not surprising. Fasolds just have the one, central runner from which they leaf, flower and bean-up. The Climbing French are at least bifurcate, if not more — I haven’t rustled about in them to count the number of branchings — so one can imagine that their energy is somewhat divided. No flowers ‘pon them yet.

Ah, and speaking of flowers, the very heavily scented Stargazer lilies began to open on or about July 18th. Man, they have a heady scent. Particularly at night.

One or two of the Italian honey figs (Lattarulla) are looking ripe as well. The recent 100° days can’t have hurt … though come to think of it, I’m not sure if figs care about growing degree days or not. Anyway, figs soon. Hooray.

Garden, Mid-July

As I write this, C. is downstairs plunking away on his new bass and has been for at least an hour now. Since purchasing the amp, he has practiced playing everyday. It’s quite pleasant having live music in the house, I enjoy overhearing his practice sessions. :)

Anyhoo, the real point of this post is simply to note the progress of the garden in the clutch of bullet points listed below:

  • The Paprika Supreme and the Thai Hot peppers are doing quite nicely, despite being potted in containers. Both have put forth a nice batch of peppers — green for now.
  • The Lemon Cucumber has a few small cucumbers on it. The plant seems a bit wee to me, but healthy enough.
  • We have now harvested a couple batches of both Zucchini and Yellow Crookneck Squash. I think that thinning down to one plant per mound was a good idea. We seem to be getting just as many squashes out of each single plant as we have out of double planted mounds in the past. The plants are healthy and green.
  • The Correnta Hybrid Spinach is a bit of a disappointment. There are maybe 8-10 spinach plants surviving out of — oh, gosh — 50 some plantings? I think the summer sun was simply to harsh for the seedlings which came up during our 100 degree heat streak a couple weeks back. I’m thinking about starting some more seedlings in peat pots and keeping them in a sheltered spot until they are strong enough to stand the full sun.
  • Both eggplants, the Black Beauty and Asian Eggplant are blooming but seem a bit small. No eggplants have made an appearance, yet.
  • The Fortex Pole Beans are growing like k-razy. They have topped the trellis and extended into the empty air another 3 feet or so, I think they would climb another six feet if we gave them a taller support. The French Climbing Beans are also showing good progress, though they are overshadowed by their surpassingly dynamic neighbor.
  • Early Cascade Tomatoes are present, but still green.
  • A second batch of lovely orange Tiger Lilies are blooming. It looks like the pink (Stargazer? Sorbonne? I’m not sure) lilies are about to bloom, too. They are more fragrant than the tiger lilies, and I am greatly looking forward to them. They are purty. :)
  • The Yellow Banana Potato plants seem to be experiencing about a 60-75% success rate. I think they didn’t get enough water early on (the drip irrigation to the barrel in which they are planted was turned off, unbeknownst to me, but is now on again). The plants that haven’t withered and disappeared seem to be doing okay, though I’d feel more confident if they were leafier.
  • I picked what I thought was our first ripe Fig today, but it was just on the cusp. Soon, soon.

That’s really all that I’m prepared to report on. If anyone is reading this, I apologize that the “weekly report” has evolved into something more monthly, but them’s the breaks.

D F# A F D…

Bummer of bummers, the bass arrived on Monday with a broken tuning peg. It being of Chinese extraction, replacements were hard to come by, but ultimately Trade Up was able to locate a semi-compatible piece among their collection of scavenged parts, so all was well and I’ve got a shiny brass peg on my D string. A replacement should be in the mail from musiclandcentral sometime soon. Had to make a few additional purchases, but I am close to being kitted:

Jay Turser JTB3 Bass : $299
Roland Cube 30 Bass Amp : $225
Gretsch Guitar Strap : $29
ULTRA Guitar Stand : $20
10′ Cable : $6
Pick : $0.25
——————————————
$579.25

Not too bad. I’d like to restring it with Thomastic-Infeld Jazz Flats, but haven’t found a shop in town that carries them yet. Other than that, and a case, I’m pretty good. Buying the Cube 30 will probably save me a bit of money that I’d have otherwise been tempted to spend on pedals — it has some built in effects, like an an octaver, chorus, flanger, wah, reverb, etc., as well as some nicely modeled tube amps o’ the past. Shouldn’t be mucking with it at this juncture, I know, but it’s fun.

Right now I’m just working on familiarizing myself with the fretboard… a fretted short-scale is a definite change from a 7/8ths upright, but I think I’m getting there. Slowly rebuilding calluses on the fingers of my left hand, and playing a lot of scales. Woo hoo for arpeggios. I’ll worry about technique once I’m not overshooting third position. There seems to be a fair bit of buzz, which might well be down to my own incompetence, or to needing a bit more clearance, but I’m waiting to have it professionally set-up until I receive the replacement tuning machine and locate some Jazz Flats.

Beans Grow Counterclockwise

a backwards clockI was redirecting a few Fasolds that had strayed from their allotted strings the other day and noticed that they were all twining in a counterclockwise fashion (as seen from above). Apparently this is the case for almost all beans, though runners twist clockwise for some reason. Can’t say I’d paid particular attention before. Whaddayaknow.

The Old UPS LogoHooray! The bass is en route to Portland as of June 30th, albeit moving rather slowly. No planes for this axe — it’s being shipped via UPS Ground — so it’s only covered about 250 miles. Just 2,600 to go. Brown estimates arrival to be on Monday, July 10, which is a bummer. Hopefully some trucker will be bucking for a bonus and it’ll arrive a few days early, but I doubt it — these things are probably fairly regimented.

The bass is currently in New Stanton, PA, cooling its heels on a Sunday afternoon. Track its progress, if you care to. I know I am.

Bolting

The lettuce has bolted. All of it. I blame several days of temps around 100°F, but they probably weren’t long for the table anyway. A couple of weeks of salads didn’t begin to put a dent in the rows that I planted (all at once, I might add. Thus the merits of succession planting are made manifest), so there’s a wealth of vegetable matter headed for the compost bin.

The beans are bolting upward as well, in a good way. The Fasolds are much more spry than the French Climbings — the former are climbin’ the twine with a vigor, while the latter are just looking promisingly leafy. Not a lotta vine action from them yet.

Oh, and we have tomatoes. Green, yes, but they’ve all set some early fruit. Strange, given that they’re still relatively wee, height-wise (dwarfed by the 10′ cages they’re planted in), but doing their thing.

And yeah, damn the aphids. Never found anything kind to apply to the Brussels sprouts — not that we looked that hard — and previous experience has been borne out in spades, as they almost vanish beneath a milky-grey layer of insect love. Eh, it was but a lark. I’m not interested in high-maintenance crops anyway. Take that, brassica family!

Yielding to Temptation

Hrm. Still no response from Jay Turser on the email, but I’ve located a Turser dealer who sells via web and eBay — musiclandcentral.com — and who comes highly-rated by those in the harmony-central reviews who have purchased from him. Via e-mail, he tells me that though it’s not listed, he has a JTB-3/N in stock (or maybe he’ll have one drop-shipped… either way, he can get me one). Though I’ve not played one, I have tried out short-scale basses and was comfortable with them, and also enjoyed the feel of the Ibanez (q.v. earlier). That, in conjunction with a couple of fine reviews, and the fact that it just looks like a beautiful creature, has me thinking I’ll order a JTB-3 sight-unseen. What the hell… it’s $300, and I can resell it if it’s not my bag. I don’t have a playing style yet, so it’s unlikely to violate any preconceptions.

I’m waiting to hear back from the musiclandcentral peeps about a few questions I had, but that’s more just so that I know what I’m getting and won’t be surprised, I think. Don’t know yet if there’s a custom case to fit it (that’s one of the questions) — if so, I’ll buy it from him so that it can be shipped in a better-protected container than cardboard boxen. Then all I’ll be lacking will be an amp, some picks, and instructional material.

A Small AmpRe the amp: shall I buy a lil’ 10 or 15 watt practice amp, or ought I size-up (in a small way) to a 30 for better sound, if not louder playing? Buy it beforehand, to be prepared when the axe arrives in the mail, or wait until I can lug it around with me and try ‘em out on? I’m thinking the latter may be excessive — particularly if I don’t have a case or even gig bag — so maybe it doesn’t matter. Time to hit the amp reviews, I guess.

Exhausting the Local Options

Checked out the Ibanez Artcore at Guitar Center last night … I was dreading the corporate megastore experience, but my particular salesguy, Eric, was quite nice and not-pushy. Point to them. Nice bass, the Artcore, though the one in stock had a crack in the top. Oh, and while Ibanez insists that the Artcore line is full-hollow, that’s just the guitars. The basses are, in fact, semi-hollow, with a huge soundblock down the middle. It has just the one pickup, too, though I’m neophyte enough not to know whether I care. I could be OK with the Artcore, though at $399 and in dark walnut, it’s not quite what I had in mind.

Centaur Guitar LogoSo, on to Centaur Guitar, a friendly little shop that’s been open just over a year, whose existence I only learned of yesterday. Jason, one of the owners, was particularly helpful, and noting the absence of archtops in stock, he said he’d order-in an Italia Torino, since Centaur is an official dealer. They’re in the $500 range — really beyond what I want to spend on what may well turn out to be a passing fancy, considering the amp, case, etc. that I’ll be buying as well — but if I haven’t bought something else by the time he gets it, I suppose I could be tempted. Terribly user-unfriendly color chart they have, but Italia Green and Trans Orange are pretty sexxy :). Whatever I do, I think I’ll be making my string, setup and accessory purchases from Centaur, when possible. It struck me as a very good kind of place, and conveniently open ’til 7 every day.

Weekly Garden Report

Success!
The beans emerged last weekend — the Fortex were followed by the Climbing French within a day. All the tomato plants are still small, but they are blooming and growing. The strawberries are still producing, but at a lesser rate than last week. Still, I had enough berries for my cereal this morning. The lettuce is still gorgeous and tasty. In honor of our lettuce crop, C and I dubbed last week The Week of Salads and managed to have dinner size salads last Sunday through Thursday. We’ve eaten two whole heads of the Romaine and now I must find some summer friendly lettuce starts or seeds to take their now empty places.

Concerns
The eggplants have a dusty, sickly look. I wish I had photographed them previously, then I would know for sure whether they have grown since they were planted. I’ll give ‘em a dose of fish emulsion and hope that helps. The brussel sprouts continue to be aphidy — we have yet to try anything to remedy it. We have no good excuse for this.

A Recipe
Inspired by the perfectly ripe local strawberries on the market right now, and the red speckled leaves of our lettuce, I concocted a super tasty salad of my own imagining. I’ve written out the recipe below. Feel free to swap any of the ingredients, but keep in mind that the strawberries must be perfectly ripe for the recipe to achieve super tastiness.

Ms. A_’s Strawberry-Balsamic Salad

  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 – 1 pint fresh strawberries, perfectly ripe, sliced
    Ripeness is important!
  • Balsamic Vinegar
    I used Lucini 10 year Gran Riserva Balsamico
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce
    Forellenschuss is tasty and its maroon speckled green leaves look beautiful with strawberries
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of sunflower seeds, toasted and salted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
    We used Rogue Creamery’s “Smokey Blue
  • Coarse salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Rub the inside of a large salad bowl thoroughly with a halved garlic clove (my recommended first step for almost any green salad). Mince remaining garlic and add directly to the bowl. Using your own discretion regarding the amounts, add balsamic vinegar and olive oil in equal proportions directly to the bowl. I think I used about 2 tablespoons of each, but I just eyeballed it so I can’t say for certain. Add coarse salt, fresh-ground black pepper and sliced strawberries. Mix gently. Some of the strawberries will dissolve a bit, creating a strawberry vinaigrette. Wash and dry lettuce, then tear leaves into slightly larger than bite size pieces — we’re going for rusticity here. Toss ‘em in the bowl. Add sunflower seeds and blue cheese crumbles. Toss until every leaf is well coated. Serve and enjoy!

Still Shopping

Ibanez Artcore AGB140TBRHuh. OK, so Portland Music Co. seems to have nothing in hollowbodied bases. Apple Music Row carries Epiphones, including the viol-bass, starting at $399, but I’m damned uncomfortable in there, being closely scrutinized by the salesdude as though I were gonna walk out with it under my coat. Too self-conscious, perhaps, but still, it harshes my novice shopping mellow. Trade Up Music (on Alberta) has the un-branded sunburst Höfner 500/1 knockoff (sadly, with failing varnish) for $299. Their Division location had no hollowbodies. Old Town Music has a Höfner 500/1 knockoff (a Johnson, I think it was) for $299. I called Guitar Center (both Beaverton and Clackamas) and they only stock the Ibanez Artcore, at $399.

JTB-3I emailed Jay Turser two days ago, to see if they could help me out by identifying a local dealer who has at least ordered a JTB-3 in the past, but haven’t heard back from them. Called them today, but somehow 4.30 EDT == not business hours, and I can but assume they’re closed on weekends. Pity, because their website is so outdated as to be no help at all — in its world, the JTB-3 isn’t even a product.

Aesthetically, I really want to get a fatty archtop like the JTB-3. At least, I think I do, but I’d want to play with it a bit first. The Höfner 500/1 viol-form basses are very comfortably small (shortnecked, yes, but I mean body width and depth)… of course, I’ve only played one sitting down, resting on a knee… might feel different strapped-up. But (and this is terrible) I really don’t want a sunburst paintjob, hate the switches on it, and even though I don’t associate the viol-form with Sir Paul, it seems that everyone else does, and I’d rather not ride that vibe and find myself perfecting the sub-hook to Day Tripper. Then again, I imagine that that’s the first task of every aspiring electric bassist, in the same way that the intro Jaws riff was de rigeur for upright bassists in the 7th grade. Meh.