This is going to be…scattered.  I’ve been putting off posting because I didn’t feel any of these entries were worthy of a post to themselves, but I think altogether they’ll be overwhelming. Oh well. I do want to record this, and the longer I procrastinate because I don’t have a perfectly-sized entry, the worse the problem will get.

I counted down how many weeks I have left at work today, and the absolute, medical-world-won’t-let-me-wait-any-longer-even-if-the-baby-will, upper limit is seven. Things have been accelerating. We took our hospital class.* My shower is this weekend.** My next midwife appointment in two weeks we go over the birth plan. The week after that the kid is officially considered full term.

Huh.

While I’ve finally fully internalized the reality of being pregnant, I’m having trouble groking the concept that in under two months I will be done with this, and will have, in fact, produced a Real Person from (as my brother in law says) Inside of ME. Instead, I feel that that I will continue being pregnant rather indefinitely longer, and while a baby will definitely come about at some point, that point is still somewhere in the distant and foggy future – certainly not in seven weeks.

Some of this might be that all this prep is scheduled on the possibility that the kid comes at 37 weeks, maybe earlier. OTOH, M & I were both decidedly late. Him, ridiculously late. While I understand the reality that sometimes babies are early, if I deliver earlier than 41.5 weeks with my induction already scheduled, I will hardly believe the child is mine.

It helps, too, that I’m still relatively asymptomatic. Apart from not being able to reach my work badge with my opposite hand, and general non-bendy-ness, I feel fine. Sleeping has actually gotten easier recently. My midwife talked at my most recent appointment*** about how she would try to talk me out of an induction if I was 39 weeks and miserable. And (pride of the naive) I have a hard time picturing that from here. Everything has gone SO smoothly, it’s hard for me to imagine being miserable enough to want to risk**** that.

Similarly, my doula asked whether there was anything I wanted to be reminded of if I asked for drugs. I guess there’s a truism that every woman eventually asks for drugs, but (again, from my high horse of inexperience) I question whether I would. I don’t mean that I think I’m particularly iron-willed. I can EASILY see myself saying things like ‘I can’t do this’ ‘this isn’t working’ ‘just make it stop’ (or, like nessa, ‘NOTHING makes it feel better, you FUCK HEAD’) but, I’m not sure that ‘I would like narcotics’ would come to mind. There’s such a build up of not having people offer you drugs as well. Honestly, I feel that my reasons for not wanting interventions are solid and immediate and concrete enough that I would still be able to make a reasoned decision about them while in pain. I don’t think any of my caregivers are pill-pushers, and if one of them, in all their experiences, does think that some sort of drug would be helpful to me, I’d like to have that information.

This, I take it, is unusual.

 

 

*Not entirely worth it for people like me who did a lot of reading beforehand. Often the instructor would make a point, and I would think ‘yup, know that, also, you left out this or that nuance’. The instructor herself was really awesome though, and probably the easiest to talk to of anyone I’ve worked with in this pregnancy. That is saying a lot, too, as I’ve been super pleased with both my midwives and my doula. There was one other girl from my midwife practice in the class (strangely, they are also remodeling their house) and the two of us were the most involved participants with questions and the like. It’s scary to think that people are going into childbirth not even knowing the very basic information covered by that class. The tour and discussion of hospital policy were useful though, and it was good to have a day with M pulled away from other obligations to talk about babies. We had some useful conversations sparked by just thinking about that stuff in close proximity to each other for an extended period.

**though M’s grandmother made a comment to me recently that ‘we have to have a party for you after the baby – once we know how big it is and what you need’ Ummm…how about no? How about that’s what showers are for: so you own some things before you bring the kid home and don’t have to attend a party with an infant? I like M’s family, and they mean well, but they don’t seem to be in-sync with the sorts of etiquette that seem specifically designed to avoid awkwardness like this, i.e. RSVPs, or giving gifts before the baby comes instead of after. I imagine M’s & my parents and siblings will be quite enough socialization for me in the post-partum range without inviting the rest of the thanksgiving guest list.

***where I brought the cup into the bathroom and forgot to pee in it. Brilliant. That’s me.

****risk, in the sense of a higher chance of unpleasant interventions, like ivs and monitoring and caesarians with their associated unpleasant recovery.

 

I realized I’d posted about the possibility of finding things in the eaves, but never actually listed what we found there after we opened them up.

Well, here goes (the highlights)

  • A victrola horn.
  • A pair of black leather mens shoes
  • A magenta/rose colored plastic umbrella
  • Wire springs from a twin size mattress
  • A mission style twin sized bed, the slats have come loose and the siderails are cracked, but it looks reparable. We plan on using it
  • the back and a few spindles from a broken pressback chair
  • A heavily rusted kerosine stove (a full size kitchen stove, not a portable camping stove. To precise, a New Perfection #33 stove), missing the burners
  • Some miscellaneous empty bottles and cans, mostly broken.
  • Random scrap wood
  • A book titled ‘the complete guide to universal knowledge’
  • Beginner violin music
  • A school grammar work book (do you know the proper usage of ‘will’ versus ‘shall’?)
  • Some advertisements and scrap papers which look like they were used by a young boy for passing notes in class
  • A sunday school pamphlet
  • A bayonet from a rifle probably used in the time around the mexican-american war.
  • An empty tin of ‘Chi-chesters diamond brand pills’

The bayonet is M’s favorite, and probably the most valuable, though still only worth $200 or so.

The last is my favorite (though the bed and the complete guide to universal knowledge are close seconds) The tin is complete with an extensive instruction booklet which at no point mentions what the pills are supposed to do, only how wonderful they are, and how to use them. Some internet spelunking revealed that they are, in fact, abortion pills, which were not legal to sell, and thus they do not mention their intended use. Actually, they were sugar pills. The name has recently been changed from ‘chi-chesters pennyroyal pills’. Because, while pennyroyal is at least somewhat effective for the intended purpose (at least insofar as they were poisonous, and if someone gets the precisely right amount of almost dead, they will sometimes miscarry without completely dying themselves). However, the recently instituted FDA (or it’s predecessor) had forced the name to be changed since the pills didn’t actually contain any pennyroyal. Fascinating. And a really neat looking little tin to boot.

The most inexplicable item is the stove. It was Up Stairs. It was completely inaccessible behind a wall. I guess they were just using the space as an alternative to paying to take the thing to the dump, but I can’t get the scene out of my head:

woman: “honey, could you haul the old stove upstairs? I think behind the wall in the bedroom is the perfect place for it”

We didn’t keep the stove. I felt a bit bad about it, as it was an interesting item, but it was in very bad condition, and too large too keep around indefinitely while looking for someone with a use for it. We do have most of the rest, depending on how damaged it was. I really want to find a good use for the Victrola horn.

So there we go. Our mini-haul from the upstairs.

Remember when I used to post about working on our old house?

We actually did start on this again sometime around August, when we realized that we had a finite date at which point we would need those additional bedrooms to be operational.* M has been great about it, spending a ton of time working for the past six months. I…have been less involved. Initially, when I was still small and mobile, the work was mostly demolition, and not knowing what, precisely, was in the walls we were tearing out we decided to play things safe and not expose me to them. What wasn’t demolition was heavy lifting of drywall and OSB that I have never been particularly useful for. Now that we are on to less strenuous and toxic part of the process (i.e. mudding an entire story’s worth of drywall) it’s much more difficult for me to do simple things like, ah, pick anything up off the floor. Plus, energy-wise I’ve been pretty much tapped having sole responsibility for cooking, laundry and basic maintenance. Also? I have no work clothes that fit. I did pitch in a bit in the middle pulling electric wire and installing windows, which made me way more proud than it should. The hardest part of the windows was grabbing tools and shims off the floor.

Anyway, what we’ve accomplished:

  • Tore out plaster walls deemed unrepairable
  • Tore out additional walls to extend rooms under the roof slope and add floorspace to the smallest room
  • Patched flooring where it was previously exposed joists in the eaves
  • Installed a pull-down attic access door more than a foot and a half square
  • Installed doorframes and OSB sub flooring in new closets in the eaves
  • Reframed the walls where the existing framing was incompatible with hanging drywall.
  • Run electric to appropriate number of boxes in all the rooms
  • Hung new drywall on ceiling, in new closets, and on demo’d walls
  • Replaced all 7 upstairs windows (more on this later)
  • Removed strange hump of cracked boards in one room and patched with OSB in preparation for new flooring
  • Laid new shims/joists to level the floor in another bedroom (I need to take a picture of this, both because it clearly illustrates how crazy-uneven that floor was, and because it’s hard to describe)
  • Patched and repaired the repairable plaster walls
  • two coats of drywall mud on every single wall up there

What we have to do yet:

  • Have floors refinished, or replaced where applicable.
  • final coat of mud
  • install light fixtures and outlets in the electric boxes
  • replace balustrade along top of stairs
  • paint
  • trim on everything
  • flooring and clothes rods in the closets (probably prefinished wood, or vinyl or something inexpensive)

For the first time, I feel like this is doable. Particularly since everything after ‘paint’ isn’t strictly necessary for habitation and thus can be done post-baby. Even a lot of the painting could be done post-baby.

The floor guy is supposed to be starting as I type, which is a huge relief. Polyurethane fumes are a a big no-no for the gestating set, so I’ll be staying at my parents’ house when he gets to that stage. One of my worst-case scenarios was going into labor while not able to access my own house, and that seems like it will be highly unlikely at this point.

Anyway. Windows. Windows are probably the most interesting part of all this. We ended up replacing everything with vinyl. I feel somewhat bad about this, but the upstairs windows were in terrible, terrible condition, and were never as nice a quality as the downstairs ones to begin with. So they had to be replaced, and it was just not in the budget to buy seven high quality windows at this point. Tearing them out revealed some of the most interesting framing (or lack thereof) we’ve found in the house so far. It’s lucky M has experience installing windows, as he had to completely rebuild the frames for almost all of them. Once that was done, I was amazed at how easy installing the actual window was. I don’t know what I thought would be complicated, but you just set them in the frame, push them until they are flush with the wall, shim the corners if there are gaps or they aren’t quite square, and put in four measly screws. You do need someone on the outside so you don’t push it all the way out the hole, but it’s really easy work. All the bother is in the framing and trimming. As I said, hardest part was picking up the tape measure and shims from the floor.

Another interesting bit to the windows I found today when looking at the trash bin of old trim/framing bits. This is the stuff that was either on the exterior and painted, or entirely inside the wall. It was almost all walnut. WTH? I guess this somewhat explains the door, because apparently they were just using walnut for anything that was wider than 6″ or so. The upstairs is new enough that I don’t think it was that they were literally milling trees from the property anymore. It also seems unlikely that they would have kept the original lumber from building the house that long. Really, I’m stumped. Why would they use it for framing upstairs and not for the rest of the downstairs trim where it clearly matched?

Anyway, we saved it. I don’t know what for, but it is gorgeous and irreplaceable, so we kept it. Honestly, I’m such a wood junky that I’ve had a very hard time throwing away the dimensional oak 2x4s they used for framing, but we have limited storage space for scrap lumber that doesn’t have a purpose. I couldn’t bear to part with the walnut though.

Strangely, M can’t tell the difference. I don’t know if this is a ‘women see color better than men’ issue or what, because he’s clearly been in more contact with the wood upstairs than I have, but he was convinced it was all oak. Well, no, it’s purpley instead of orangey, and the grain is different. How? I don’t know, it looks different. Indescribable, but pretty clear to me even on the fairly degraded pieces. Maybe it’s just that he’s grown numb to looking at wood after all the work he’s been doing.

*The Original plan was to finish said bedrooms before starting to make people for them, but a hard deadling proved much more motivational.

 

There’s been a lot of coverage recently about the new USDA Hardiness Map. According to the map, I now live in zone 6, while I was previously classed as zone 5.

In some ways, this is really great news for what I can grown here. In other ways, it’s no big honkin deal.

A lot of the sites I’m reading a really overstating the significance of this. The map is based on retrospective data. It might be saying that your land is warmer now than it was 20 years ago when the map was last released. It’s also possible that it’s saying it’s been the same temperature all along, but they did a bad job collecting data 20 years ago, and got the numbers a little wrong for you. What it is absolutely not saying that it is warmer now than it was last year, because last year is when they were collecting the darn data.

So, for instance, if your rosemary died and your peaches didn’t set last year, they won’t do better this year, just because now a chart has a different number on it. (well, they probably will do better THIS year, because we’ve had crazy weather, but not long term)

If, however, you tried to push something that was on the borderline in the past, and have been getting lucky so far, there’s a good chance your luck will hold. a.k.a: maybe you didn’t do as good of a job finding a microclimate as you thought – it’s just warmer than you realized everywhere.

Some people are saying that this data even has repercussions for first and last frost dates. Which is tangentially maybe a little bit true, in that if the climate did change, it is likely both the minimum winter temperature and the dates at which it starts getting cold changed. However, the zone map only measures one of these things, and trying to interpolate the other off of it is just a bad idea. Zone is a terrible way to estimate first and last frost dates.

An awesome way to estimate first and last frost dates is http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/freezefrost/freezefrost.pdf It has data on first and last observed frost dates for specific towns over a 30 year interval, with great stuff like which date has a 95%, 50% and 5% probability or reaching a certain temperature by. Mmmmm, delicious data. There are a lot of towns used for measuring points, so you are very likely to find somewhere quite close to you to get dates from. It is data from the 80s, but I still think it’s a more reliable source than what zone you are, particularly since with something like a frost date you can watch the weather when you get within a few days and  judge for yourself whether it’s currently snowing. These dates were never a contract, and will vary more year to year than they have changed on average over a few decades.

Pluuuus, at least in my part of central ohio, I think winter survival has more to do with wetness from the poorly drained clay and damage from freeze thaw cycles without good snow cover than it does with absolute low temperatures.

Not that I’m not excited to officially be classified as zone 6, (for one thing, it gives me extra hope for my Magnolia Sieboldii). I just have to keep reminding myself that this doesn’t mean that the temperature fairy has made any changes to my actual garden (recently, at least). I resolve to be more adventurous in choosing trees and shrubs rated for warmer climates than I was before, but I also resolve to not expect anything already in my garden to start behaving any differently.

So, apparently six months is the threshold at which people become confident enough that you are actually pregnant and not just packing on the donuts to comment on it. I’ve been getting comments from strangers at work all month long after not really having anyone say anything before the holidays.

The funniest thing about growing an enormous gut in three months (if I was showing in my first trimester, it wasn’t enough to matter) is that you don’t really notice it. You know that sense of where your own body is that lets you touch your finger to your nose? That sense totally still thinks I’m skinny. Therefore, I run into things.

Also, I grunt and sigh when I stand up, not because it’s actually All That Difficult, but because I didn’t expect it to be difficult at all. I’m all ‘oh, hey, that took effort’. It’s like someone handing you a grocery sack that you thought was full of bread and it’s actually full of canned tomatoes. You can totally lift either, but the tomatoes are a real surprise. I keep getting surprised by my own mass.

On the other hand, bending over to pick things up is difficult enough that I’d Rather Not, Thank You. I was super excited I was able to help Mike install new windows, but the hardest part was picking the shims up off the floor. Later when he was back inside the window, he asked if I could hand him the tape measure or pencil or some such thing he needed from a few feet away on the floor and by the third item I was all ‘how about you get it yourself’. Then I felt like a jerk and he felt guilty, so that didn’t work out so well and I went back downstairs to my couch.

The other thing I’m not really noticing is energy. I’m not falling asleep at work, or wanting to go to bed super early, or any other signs of being tired in my normal schedule, so I assume my energy level is fine. But if I try to *do* something it’s just BAM, done for the day. So I have the option of trying to accomplish things and feeling exhausted, or feeling absolutely fine but laying around all day. Titrating to something in the middle has proved problematic. Laying around all day when you don’t actually feel tired is kind of a bummer.

And yeah, I’ve already gained at least 30 lbs, depending on how exact you are about my starting weight. Yes, I was pretty darn skinny before, but strangely, I still feel relatively skinny now (and not just in the ‘my brain is messing with me’ way) my face and my feet and my arms and all areas not directly related to my stomach (unfortunately, this does not include my butt) all seem pretty much unchanged. I’m a bit concerned about how much larger I’m still going to get.

Oh, yeah, and when I got home and read my form about the glucose testing, it didn’t say a darn thing about eating restrictions before hand, so my overthinking was confirmed. I managed to find something for breakfast without going completely nuts, and the drink really wasn’t that bad – like flat orange soda, nothing terrible. The worst problem was freezing the back of my throat from drinking it so fast. They give you up to 10 minutes, but I downed it in one because I’m a rock star like that. Anyway, they haven’t called me back yet, so I’m taking that as good news.

The only downside of the appointment was that the blood-drawing-nurse, who I love and adore because she does not make me cry, and hasn’t had to stick me twice yet confirmed that I pretty much don’t have anywhere to put an iv other than in my hand. Even the one very best elbow vein she draws from isn’t big enough to use for an iv, much less anything conveniently located away from a joint. Not excited about this. Strangely, I’m sort of hoping that I have more blood draws scheduled so that I can ask her to take some from my hand. It sounds masochistic, but I’d rather practice with her, who is talented and has a teensy needle, before I have to deal with some stranger of questionable skills with a great big needle while I’m in labor. Having her draw from my arm has done a ton to get me over my fear of blood draws. Unfortunately ( o.O ???) I think I’m done with blood draws at this point unless something unexpected comes up.

So, tomorrow is my glucose tolerance test.

The way my office does it is I took a little bottle home and I’m supposed to drink it about a half-hour before my appointment. I don’t have to fast before hand, but she did tell me to have a low-sugar/carb breakfast. We went over a couple examples in the office, but I wasn’t fully prepared with possible breakfast menus at the time, so of course I feel completely lost now.

What I remember:

  • Eggs and sausage are great. Of course. But I really don’t like eating that heavy of a breakfast unless it’s actually brunch. Ooof.
  • White bread & OJ are no good. Seems reasonable, I don’t really like white bread that much anyway, and while I sometimes drink OJ, it’s hardly a requirement.
  • Raisin bran would be ok except for the raisins. I’ve no objection to this, but I would need to go buy a new box of cereal. What exactly am I looking for on that box? I’ve noticed a lot of the high fiber ‘healthy’ cereals we’ve tried are actually quite sweet when you taste them, (presumably to trick people into eating them when they’re really rather be munching on count chocula). I’m guessing that’s to be avoided. I’m not terribly looking forward to reading the labels of the entire cereal aisle to find out which ones have stowaway sugar. Also, I sometimes like to eat my cereal with yogurt rather than milk. Is that ok? Better? Worse? Anyway, cereal isn’t my favorite breakfast in the winter, so let’s keep going.
  • Wheat toast & peanut butter are fine. Ooook. That’s getting close. Unfortunately, I don’t *like* peanut butter on toast. Ironically, I think it’s too sweet. I much prefer cream cheese. That should be an OK substitution, right? But who eats cream cheese on toast? I’m guessing a whole wheat bagel isn’t the same thing as wheat toast. Speaking of which, what exactly do they mean by ‘whole wheat’? That label gets smacked on anything nowadays. How whole is whole enough?

So my current brilliant plan is that we have some super-dense dark brown european-style rye bread stuff* in the freezer that I think would taste OK with cream cheese, and I’m pretty sure it’s as whole-grain as you can get.  So that should be safe. And a glass of milk? Because they said milk was ok on cereal. But maybe that’s because they’re assuming you’re using a half cup or so to get your cereal damp, not a giant tumbler because you are a milk-addict eating dry european bread and want to be hydrated for your blood draws.

So I start googling about glycemic indexes, because that’s the goal of this, right? And let me tell you *that’s* a bad idea. Apart from crazy diet sites and lists with stuff like ‘fried eggs’, ‘whole puffed amaranth’, ‘spelt flour’ and ‘mcDiety brand health-o-nutrient bars’, the most reputable science-y sounding stuff I found was a uk site essentially saying the whole thing is bunk, white bread is barely different from wheat bread, there are 3 different scales and nobody ever tells you which one they’re using, and none of them take into account that a grain of sugar and a cup of sugar are not the same thing.

But that doesn’t help me decide what to have for breakfast.

The crazy(est) thing about this is that I probably have nothing to get worked up over. Diabetes doesn’t run in my family at all (we’re more heart attacks at 40 type people). It’s more out of some twisted desire to follow the rules. Gyarrrh.

*Sort of like ruis maybe? But it’s a square loaf with slices. It’s from aldi, and I think it’s one of their odd imported German items rather than their super-budget items. Actually, I really like the stuff. It’s in the freezer because we stocked up on it, not because we hate it. My immigrant grandmother & I are alike in our passion for bread you can use to construct buildings with in a pinch.

I am currently wearing jeggings.

Worse, they are terrible, high-waisted, mom-butt jeggings.

*Hangs head in shame*

It was a fraught and treacherous path I took to this place.

When I first outgrew my normal pants, I went and found some low rise pants a few sizes bigger. Still, normal person pants. One of them worked great, and the others slid down a bit. Now, the ones that fit great are starting to get tight, and the ones that slid down a bit…well, they still slide down. I think the problem lies in my butt-geometry, not in my absolute size. I imagine they will always slide down. Anyway, around Christmas I went out and found a pair of honest-to-gosh maternity jeans with the giant stretchy belly and everything, that, surprisingly: ▸ Were long enough. ▸ Were a dark color without ridiculous distressing marks or glitter on the pockets or other things making them inappropriate for my work, and ▸ Were a reasonable price. So I bought them. And when I wore them the day after Christmas, I realized that while they fit nicely enough as I wandered around the dressing room, something as strenuous as walking from my living room to my kitchen made them slide down too*. Why does this happen? Why is walking in dressing rooms different?**

Anyway, having a grand total of three pairs of pants to my name (two of which slide down, one which is getting tight, and all of which need to be washed on the same settings) I end up traipsing about in my pjs when I do the laundry, which is less than ideal.

But for Christmas, my grandmother got me a pair of jeggings. Because, well, she’s my grandmother and apparently the lady in the store told her they were a good idea? And as I was doing my laundry in my pajamas, I decided to try them on before I returned them just for the heck of it.

And they fit. So I continued to wear them in preference to pajamas.

And they did not slide down.

So I have succumbed to the temptation of not having to hike up my pants 50 times a day and wore them to work.

On the upside, many of my maternity tops are long enough that they cover the terrible mom-pockets and it just looks like no pockets at all. Maybe? Is this ok? I suspect it may not be.

But I really hate hiking up my pants.

*I’ve since found that if I wear a tight-ish shirt over them, it helps keep them out of trouble. So they aren’t useless, just with limitations.

**I suspect some of the problem may lie in that while they are long enough in the legs I think they are too short in the torso. That stretchy stuff is supposed to come all the way up to your bra, yes? These come, eh, an inch short, and I’m still about two weeks short of my third trimester. It’s hard enough to find tall enough clothes for normal life, I despair of finding maternity clothes with enough height. I’m not even officially in the ‘tall’ range, but most clothes are still too short. I feel sorry for models and legitimate tall people.

Normally I’m all about the latin names for plants, but in this case, I think it actually makes it less specific.

Blackberry Lilies *used* to be Belamcanda chinensis, and Candy Lilies are sometimes referred to as Pardancanda norrisii, or Pardancanda chinensis, but really, Candy lilies are a hybrid between Blackberry Lilies and Iris dichotoma, so despite the fact that they will grow essentially true from seed, they aren’t really a species, and so don’t deserve their own latin name. PLUS, Blackberry lilies were recently reclassified as Iris domestica, making Candy lilies officially Iris x norrisii, but most places haven’t made these update yet, so if you go searching for them you’ll come up empty except for a few taxonomy nerds. Therefore common names it is.

Anyway, they’re interesting plants. Leaves like iris, spotted blooms shaped a bit like a daylily, though you can see the iris relationship there too. The ‘blackberry’ in the name comes from the seeds, which are big and round and glossy and look rather like blackberries.They bloom around the same time dayliles do as well, but to my eye are rather more exotic looking – I particularly like how the spent flowers twist up into spirals.

I heard about them a few years ago, but they were hard to find, particularly in my price range, so I took a gamble growing them from seed. There wasn’t a lot of guidance on how this process was supposed to go at the time, so I thought it would be useful to make what I’ve learned available.

Growing outdoors:

I normally have poor luck direct seeding things, but these have worked pretty well. The flowering stems fall down in late fall, so at that point they can be cut off and scattered wherever you want to establish more plants. You don’t seem to need to cover them, despite the relatively large size, and I’ve never seen anything eating them. The seeds will sprout sporadically through the spring and summer, and will be big enough to flower the following year. The leaves look like tiny iris leaves and are quite substantial, so they are easy to see and you don’t have to worry too much about weeding them out accidentally despite the prolonged germination period.

Growing indoors:

One of the sources I got my original seeds from noted that the seeds did not last well and should be kept in the refrigerator until planted. I don’t know how true that is, but I did follow that advice. If you’re growing from your own seeds, you could also just leave them out on the plant until you’re ready. In any case, this isn’t the same as needing stratification. They should germinate fine without a chilling period, it’s just that they will theoretically dry out quickly if kept in warmer conditions.

The seeds themselves have a shiny outer coating which gives them the name ‘blackberry’. That coating is actually like a  brittle balloon containing the real seed, which is coated in dirty mossy looking stuff. You don’t need to remove the shiny coating, but don’t worry if it cracks either, it doesn’t indicate your seed has gone bad. I got similar germination from cracked and uncracked seeds.

The initial steps in growing from seed are very familiar and simple. Place the seeds in seed starting mix and water well. They don’t seem to care if they are buried or exposed on the surface, though I prefer the later as you can see germination that much sooner. They also don’t seem to have a temperature preference, though a warm location can be helpful as I’ll explain.

The big trick I’ve learned is to let the planting medium dry out again immediately. Don’t re-water until it is seriously completely dried out to an extent that would kill any other seedling. THEN soak them and let the cycle begin again. It seems the seeds germinate in response to these wet-dry cycles. Weird, but in my experience true. The reason bottom heat is useful is that it helps the soil dry out faster, so you can get more cycles in quickly.

My germination rates haven’t been bad (around 30%), but they take a long time, and are very irregular. I imagine I could have coaxed a few more seeds into sprouting, but by then it was springtime and I had enough and just planted what I had outside and dumped the rest rather than sit and fuss over flats of unsprouted seeds while spring was going on. I’m not kidding about slow and irregular. I would say one seed every week or so starting about a month after sowing. You want to start these three months or so before your last expected frost. Be Patient. They will sprout.

The seedlings themselves are slow growing, but pretty robust. I normally pull out the sprouted ones to a different tray to keep them more consistently moist, but they won’t die even if they do dry out completely along with the unsprouted seeds. They also aren’t particularly susceptible to mold or damping off or getting leggy or any of the other common seedling ailments. I don’t think I’ve lost a single seedling of these once it’s sprouted, which is pretty impressive given how attentive to these things I usually am (how do you think I figured out they needed to dry out in order to sprout? It wasn’t careful research and controlled trials, I’ll tell you that). Anyway, it takes at least a month to get from the first leaf to a size that you could conceivably plant outside. They grow slowly and hold well in pots, so err on the side of earlier when deciding when to sow. Assuming they aren’t too tiny and late when you transplant them, there’s a good chance of blooms the first year, though fewer and later than on older plants.

So, this is all terribly unscientific, but that’s what I’ve learned. They sprout on wet – dry cycles, and try your patience like nothing else, but ultimately are pretty simple and hard to kill assuming you can wait for them to do things at their own pace.

As in, literally. I know it’s a common pregnancy symptom, but I am a frigid, frigid person. Sometimes I wear my winter hat most of the morning. I’ve been known to leave my coat on most of the day, because it just feels right. This is at a sedentary office job, yes, but other people I work with are wearing short sleeves to the meetings I show up to with my coat on.

So, yeah, warmer. Huh. Not a bad thing, though it’s really throwing me off. I keep thinking the previous days must have been a fluke and not dressing cooler (also, most of the maternity wear I’ve acquired thus far is sweaters, because, duh, cold person in December)

My belly button is getting increasingly weird. First, it pulls the flesh in the general vicinity inward like a dimple. While this isn’t overly noticeable from most angles, when I myself look down on my stomach it has a cleft in the middle, making it look rather like a very large second butt on my front side. Unfortunate. Also, while it hasn’t popped, it has flattened, revealing all the normally hidden interior belly-button skin. Which is weird. It feels different than normal skin. It also feels differently* than normal skin, as in, it can feel pressure, but it’s slightly numb to light touch. Nothing uncomfortable, but I find it inappropriately fascinating, probably because I thankfully have nothing more pressing to worry about.

Other random things. (or shall I say: notes from the world’s most boring pregnancy)

  • The Friday after thanksgiving (that would be end of week 20) I started to feel kicks on the outside. Which is a significantly different sensation from previous movement. Harder to describe, but pretty much what you would expect it to feel like if something was trying to poke out of you from the inside – bringing to mind disturbing alien imagery. It was quite weird for a while.
  • I started having trouble getting comfortable to sleep this weekend. Apparently, I’ve gained enough weight that if I lie on my side my arm falls asleep, to which M replied ‘welcome to my world’, but, uh, it hadn’t been a problem for me before. Additionally, if I try to tilt forward to put less pressure on my arm, my belly gets in the way, which isn’t uncomfortable per-se, but it prevents my middle from turning as far as my hips and shoulders, making my back displeased. I remembered my mother having one of those big body pillows (not a pregnancy specific one, just a big pillow) and picked that up after two unsatisfactory nights. Despite taking up a ridiculous amount of bed space, it seems to have done the trick for now.
  • I realized that my prenatal vitamins don’t actually have any potassium in them. I’d been getting stomach cramps (pretty much identical to what you get if you try to run after eating) and just passed them off as par for the ever-expanding course, because, hey, I’m taking these giant pills, shouldn’t they have all that stuff taken care of? But no. Things have greatly improved after adding bananas to my meal plan. Surprisingly tasty bananas.
  • I started making milk a few weeks ago. Not enough to feed, well, anything, and thankfully not spontaneously leaking, but it amuses me, because I’m easily amused. I suppose it’s also a good portent for successful breastfeeding?
  • We’ve signed on officially with a doula. I initially called four, heard back from two, and decided not to keep calling the other two because I liked the first one so much. It honestly felt a little silly even doing the second interview because we were pretty sure we had our decision already, but it just seemed dumb to go with the first person we met without even talking with anyone else (also, the second lady was super-highly recommended, not that the first one wasn’t, but pretty much everyone I asked had a good impression of #2). So, there go our worries on not being able to find someone nerdy and analytical enough in the sea of hippy baby people.
  • We’re also signed up for our birth class at the hospital, it wasn’t what I thought I’d end up with, but I don’t know that M has the time to do Bradley and still finish the upstairs, I am absolutely not the target audience for hypnobirthing**, and both the doulas we talked with recommended our particular hospital’s classes and one of the instructors specifically. Unfortunately, the only session of hers we could make was a one-day class, which, again, wasn’t my plan, but there we are. There was a two-day class with her that I think was too close to my date, but the only four-day classes were on days we couldn’t do or with one of the less-recommended instructors. I think I’ll do better with less time and a good instructor than lots of time being cranky with a bad one.
  • We’re at 24 weeks, which is the cusp of survivability*** not at all a good time to be born, but not an automatic dead baby card either. Which is nice to know, particularly since everything seems to be going well at this point. Dang, have I jinxed myself enough yet? I’ll stop.

*I think this is the correct use of adverbs and grammar? Maybe?

**you know those ‘are you a good candidate for hypnosis’ checklists? I pretty much meet none of the criteria.

***this is the sorts of strange things I learn by reading infertility blogs****

****No, I’m not at all infertile. I just apparently have strange taste. I guess the sort of person who chooses to write about that sort of thing in public just tends to have a point of view and way of thinking that appeals to me? I started reading them well before I was married or even remotely considering children, just because I thought some of the authors were good writers.

I love how recipes for white meat so often translate to different options. Piccata is traditionally veal, I think, but this works great with chicken or pork, or even whitefish. Heck, it might work with tuna. Just make sure whatever you have is very thin slices. Chicken or pork you may want to pound if it’s on the thick side.

Anyway, this is a recipe that I like a lot more than M does (especially with the capers), but I’m constantly amazed at how swanky it is for how little work.

Required ingredients:

  • two thin pieces of the white meat of your choice
  • flour enough to coat meat
  • 2 tsp, or a large hunk of butter (don’t skimp and use cooking oil instead, this goes into the sauce)
  • white wine

Some pointers for the wine. You will want a generous serving’s worth. Those single-serve bottles are a great size if you don’t want to try to finish the rest of a full bottle between the two of you. Otherwise, use what you’ll have with dinner. Ideally, you want something that isn’t too tart or too sweet. I had savingon blanc on hand, which is on the tart side, and it worked ok, but really needed cream to not be overpowering. Chardonnay should be fine, as would dry Riesling, and that all the kinds of white wine I know other than moscato, which would be way too sweet.

Directions:

Coat the meat in flour

Melt the butter in a pan until sizzling, (medium, medium high-ish heat)

Add the meat and cook until browned on both sides. Add more butter if the level gets low by the second side. (If your heat is too high, it will start to burn before the meat cooks through, but it needs to be high enough to get a good sizzle or you won’t get the browning right. Err on too high, as you’ll see on the next step)

Put a paper towel (or regular towel you eco-friendly person you) on a plate and the meat on the towel and the towel in an oven on as low as it goes. If you oven only has high settings, turn it on for a bit then kill the heat without opening the door. If you are worried the meat might not have gotten done, turn it up to 250 or so to cook it a little more (no, you won’t set a towel on fire at that temperature for as long as it will be in there).

Deglaze the pan with the wine. If you don’t know what that means, check the entry on kale for a deeper explanation.

Turn the heat to medium/low and simmer until there is about half the wine there used to be… 10 minutes or so since you don’t have that much liquid. Somewhere in that simmering, consider adding some or all of the following ingredients.

Optional ingredients:

  • Thin slices of lemon
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • heaping spoonful of capers (drained)
  • chicken broth
  • cream or milk

Lemon slices should be added right at the beginning (possibly before you even deglaze) so they soften up. Juice or capers can be added at any point. Broth or cream should be added near the end. You’ll want to taste the reduced sauce, and if it’s overpoweringly strong or tart, add additional liquid until it’s tasty. Something like a half a cup give or take a few sloshes usually does the trick. Personally, I like the cream better than broth. You can also add some of the pasta water if you need to make it less strong and don’t have other things on hand.

I like to serve this over angel hair pasta. Angel hair cooks ridiculously quickly, so if you start the water boiling first, and put the pasta in right after you deglaze the pan, it’ll be done in plenty of time.

RSS myfolia garden journal

  • milkweed blooming Sunday, July 27, 2014
    I couldn’t remember if I planted this or it grew on it’s own…I guess #1? Anyway this is the first year I remember it blooming. Dunno if that is because it has been a wet summer or because we mowed that area in the spring and it reduced competition – though it didn’t do the hibiscus any favors. There seems to be quite a lot of milkweed now. Certainly more tha […]
  • divided Wednesday, June 18, 2014
    Shield fern 3 clumps. Doing nicely in june Painted many clumps also happy Trycirtis happy Maidenhair very mad at me, but also had many clumps. Seemed like a good idea at the time, and hey, it isn’t dead so maybe it was.
  • showing variegation Tuesday, May 14, 2013
    It’s expected that this cultivar won’t show variegation for the first few years. Now it is. I’m glad I have the right plant
  • move me Sunday, May 5, 2013
    This actually is fragrant, but it blooms simultaneously with the also fragrant lilac – pretty, but a waste of scent. Should move to back by tree peony’s where it will scent that porch and where nothing much is going on this time of year.
  • asparagus Wednesday, May 1, 2013
    thick despite a lot of weeds. We should be able to eat it this year
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