Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yo Ho Ho - and What the Hell Have I Done??

Okay... I've been a Bad Blogger again! Over two weeks since my last blog post :::GASP!:::

But the truth is, I've been a bit pre-occupied...

For those of you who've wandered over to my Home Page, you may have already determined that I've got a bit of Crazy Boater in me. There's a lot of "background story" there - from my very first boat, Aesop the Snark sailing dinghy; Through assorted other small boats (inflatables and sailing dinks from 9-16 feet); "Graduating" to Solitaire, my 32-foot Custom Sedan Cruiser/Floating Home (I lived on my boat for six years); Fully succumbing to Boating Sickness when I added Tartan, a Luhrs 32-foot sportfisher, to my fleet; Then *thinking* I was going to offload a couple of boats and upgrade to SeaTease, a 36' aft-cabin trawler up in Seattle (That's a story that never got told, but I alluded to it on my New-Millenium Romance page)...

Well, when I got married, I gave up the boats and became a Landlubber. That lasted for several years. The Harleys kinda distracted me for awhile, but Boating Sickness is terminal, I'm afraid! Once you've got it, you're doomed for life!

Albatross was my last "Project Boat" and I had a total blast with her. I kinda/sorta attempted to blog my way through that project (so it's a big ol' honkin' long page!).

Anyway, it's not my intention to re-hash my boating history. Suffice it to say that I do know my way around boats!

So Rog and I had been going to boat-shows and talking about buying a sailboat for the past several years, right? We pretty much had our sights set on a MacGregor 26M, all along. They aren't the BEST boats in the world (not by a long-shot!), but MacGregor does make a reasonably-priced boat with a LOT packed into a relatively small, trailerable package. "It is what it is" as they say. And it should suit our needs, for now.

So anyway, we kept going to boat shows, and climbing around on the display boats. And every year we'd say "Next year..."

Year-after-year we said this until finally Roger decided "Enough already!"

I mean, the economy's down so it is definitely a Buyer's Market. And where, in years past, we couldn't find any 26M's on the "Used" market, now all of a sudden we were seeing plenty!

Rog found a 2006 listed on Yachtworld.com for $14,900.00 which - I'll be honest - was suspiciously cheap...

To Be Continued.............

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Letter to HGTV

I just thought I'd share the letter I wrote to the Scripps Execs today (Parent Company over HGTV and DIY Network). I also sent off several emails to their Garden-related Advertisers. Sears, surprisingly actually seems to have "read" my email and sent a response that they would fwd my letter to their Advertising Dept. The only other replies I've gotten are "Auto-Responders."

I do remain "guardedly optimistic" however. Maybe, just maybe, our letter-writing campaign will work!

I have been a long-time fan of HGTV/DIY/Scripp's Networks. Seriously - to the point where HGTV was tuned in almost the entire time that my TV was on.

But, over time, I'm finding myself watching HGTV/DIY less-and-less. The main reason? Lack of Garden Programming.

I'd always thoroughly enjoyed your weekend-morning line-up with all of the Gardening and Landscaping Shows. It was my Weekly Ritual: I'd pour myself a cup of coffee, settle into the recliner with my remote-control, and watch a good hour (or more) of Garden and Landscaping programs. It always got me "motivated" to get outside and "Get it done!"

My All-Time Favorite? Paul James' "Gardening By the Yard."

But over the past several years, you've shuffled the weekend line-up around and virtually eliminated Paul James (Sorry, I don't consider 4:00am, Pacific, to be a viable time-slot). I don't even know what you ARE airing on weekend mornings anymore - I don't bother turning the TV on (or when I do - it's NOT tuned to HGTV).

Now, I've also heard that Paul's contract has NOT been renewed. Yes, you are now airing the "final season" now (2008 episodes), But when I heard that GBTY is no longer going to be featured on your network, I was devastated. I still am! That was THE most informative, most enjoyable Garden Show I have ever seen! I think cancelling it is a HUGE mistake (And no, airing re-runs does NOT count!).

I had written to HGTV, in the past, about the slow-death of the "G" in HGTV - and only gotten a "canned" response telling me, essentially, that "HGTV values viewer feedback" (or words to that effect). Yet there was no change in the weekend line-up.

I wonder - Do you really value Viewer Feedback? Are you truly listening?

The Latest Trend right now is to go "Back to Basics." The popularity of Vegetable Gardening is at an all-time high. Even Michelle Obama is "in on the action" (and, in fact, "Leading the Way" for the Next Generation of Gardeners), by planting the first Vegetable Garden on the White House Grounds in generations! The economy is "in the tank" right now, and people are looking for ways to cut back on spending. And "Organic" (Read: "Green!") is all the rage. What better way to bring healthful food to your dinner table than to grow it yourself?

Let me say that again, for emphasis: The popularity of Vegetable Gardening is at an All-Time High - and HGTV/DIY's response is to cancel the last Quality Garden Show...

It just doesn't make any sense!

Oh, and I do want to make one point for clarification: There is a difference between "Gardening" and "Landscaping" Shows. This is an important distinction.

  • "Gardening" is all about the ongoing care and maintenance of plants. That can mean flowers and trees; fruits and vegetables; composting; mulching; pest- and disease-control; and everything in-between. It can be a very economical Hobby (for many, it's a Passion!). And it certainly can be very "Green" (both figuratively and literally). Paul James focuses on "Gardening."
  • Whereas "Landscaping" is bringing in backhoes, and truckloads of dirt, gravel and rocks. Oh, and plants, too. It's the "Instant Gratification/Backyard Makeover" that costs thousands of dollars and may (or in most cases, may NOT) last a Season or two. Ahmed Hassan is more "Landscaping." (Love "Yard Crashers" - just the same!).

We definitely need more of the former. If not Paul James (although he is, by far, The Best!), then someone "Younger and Perkier" - but it must be REALISTIC and PRACTICAL, too. *That's* what I love about Paul James - he gets down, gets dirty, and shows us how it's done in an entertaining, amusing, educational and realistic way!

* * * * *

There seems to be a belief that Gardeners are "too old" and that Garden Shows don't cater to your "Under-35 Target Demographic." I beg to differ. I have been gardening for more years than I care to recall (BTW, I am in the "35-45 Demographic"). I know I started well before I turned 35.

I'm also fairly active in our local Gardening Community and attend numerous events throughout the year. I observed that at least half of the attendees at a recent (City-sponsored) Composting Workshop were in their mid-30's and younger.

Here's another interesting detail: Even though I'm not in your Target Demographic, I've been known to spend a surprising amount of money on my Gardening Habit. Not only at local "Family-run" Nurseries (Love to support "The Local Guy!"), but also Home Depot; Lowe's; Sears (our Rototiller = Craftsman); Troy-Bilt (Lawnmower); And that's just to name a few. Along those lines, I will be contacting many of your Advertisers and letting them know how much I miss the "G" in HGTV. If simple letter-writing won't work, then perhaps my spending habits can help drive the point home...

Please reconsider your decision to cancel Paul James' contract. And please, please, please bring back more Quality Garden Programming (in a viewable time-slot!)

Thank you.

HGTV Protest Campaign: Today's the Day!

Okay, I got my cuppa coffee... I got my laptop...

I'm doing MY part and sending off emails to HGTV/Scripp's Networks execs and advertisers...

Are you?

Check it out here.

I figure, it's worth a shot!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ready for Spring to be Sprung Already!

And "Join the Urban Garden Project"

So we're having a bit of a warm spell - during the daytime anyway. But nighttime temps are *still* ridiculously low (Whine-Whine-Whine!). I mean, it's April already, and we're still dipping into the mid-30's?! ("Waaahhhhh!")

But, ya see, I got all these Baby Seedlings that are quickly outgrowing my bathroom windowsill! And I'd prefer not to transplant, then transplant AGAIN (Yeah, I know - call the "Waaaaahhhhmbulance!").

Oh, and to top it off, the Santa Clara Master Gardeners had their Annual Spring Sale yesterday. I hooked up w/P, a fellow Garden-Geek, and I made her PROMISE not to let me buy ANY MORE TOMATOES!

So anyway... ever since I've gotten into this Gardening Thing - to the point where I'm going to Community-Sponsored events (like the Composting Workshop and this Master Gardener's Sale) - I'm discovering that our Fair City has all kinds of cool, secret gems!

Unfortunately, whenever I'm on these jaunts, it never occurs to me to bring a camera along! But anyway...

The Composting Workshop was held at Emma Prusch Farm Park which is actually in a pretty "marginal" part of town. But it's WAY COOL. It's totally like an Old-Time Farm, but they've built a park around it. And they've got "Community Gardens" where folks who may not have growing space can plot out their own individual veggie gardens. And they've got chickens roaming around and stuff. And they've even got a livestock barn where City Kids can raise their 4H/FFA animals. Yeah! Pretty cool! (And quite Appropo - considering that before the whole Computer Age hit, ALL of Santa Clara Valley was farmlands and orchards - I actually remember that!)

Yesterday's Plant Sale was held at San Jose History Park . This is kind of a "Back to the Future" place where it's all "Old Style Downtown." It was kinda hard to get a feel for the place yesterday, because of the THOUSANDS of ppl who showed up with Garden Carts, Little-Red-Wagons and whatnot to load up on TONS of plants. We were sadly unprepared and had to scramble to find boxes to carry our acquisitions! (Note to self: Next year, bring a rolling cart!).

I think I showed amazing restraint (No thanks to P!). I only added ONE tomato plant to my (already excessive) collection! I did pick up a 6-pack of climbing beans, a 6-pack of corn, a couple-three pepper plants (including Ancho-Poblano - a mild chili pepper ideal for making chiles relleno - Mmmmm!), a couple of squashes, and Good-Gawd - Not MORE seeds?!!! P is another Plant Addict so we weren't very good about restraining each other! (I think we're what'cha'd call Co-Dependents!)

Oh, and I picked up some more succulents. There was a lady doing a demo on planting succulents in sphagnum-moss "forms." I bought a little 10" Donut-shaped form and a bunch of succulent cuttings (succulents are insanely easy to grow from cuttings). I figured that'd make a really cool, low-maintenance centerpiece for our Umbrella Table!

When I got home, I decided to tackle the "Donut Garden" first (seemed easiest!). I dampened the sphagnum moss with a spritzy bottle and divvied up the cuttings. Used the pointy-end of a chopstick to poke holes in the moss and added the cuttings, using the fat-end of the chopstick to stuff 'em in.

I gazed at my handiwork and decided it looked a little "sparse." So I glanced over at my "Undersea Garden" and saw that it needed some serious cleaning up (Funny how one seemingly simple Garden-Project can grow into a BIG one!). The "Undersea Garden" was inspired by an episode of Gardening By the Yard. Link to that episode here. I've got this one recorded to DVD and I swear - I drool every time I watch it!

Undersea Garden

Sooooo... I cleaned up the Undersea Garden and scored a whole bunch of fresh cuttings for the Donut Garden (I even have "extras" for P)! I think it came out pretty nice - and it should look even better as the plants start to grow!

Donut Garden on Umbrella Table

Now I just need to remember to go out and spritz it daily until the cuttings take root. Thankfully, succulents are *very* forgiving. They love heat and don't require much water - so I think they actually stand a chance of surviving a summer on our patio! Hell, the Undersea Garden has been totally neglected - and sitting ON the [broilingly hot!] patio - for at least one solid year and *it* was overgrown!

My last project for the day was finishing up one of my Self-Contained, Self-Watering, Not-An-EarthBox® Planters. I posted about that earlier (along with links to an instructional page on how to make 'em). I'm going to plant-up some corn in this one - super-duper-dense planting (so they can pollinate each other easily). I've never had ANY success with growing corn, so my fingers are crossed that maybe this method will work! I thought I had clear plastic - but it got sizzled in the sun - so I'm just gonna use red plastic mulch and see what happens...

Self-Contained-Planter "Under Construction"

Self-Contained-Planter "Complete, but Empty!"


But temps are still too cold at night to plant any summer crops outside. So everything is sitting in the greenhouse for now.......

In Other News: I'm helping to "Spread The Word" about the The Urban Garden Project™.

Quoting from their site: Our goal is to encourage and catalog the creation of 100,000 urban gardens by 2020. For the purposes of our project urban gardening will be defined as anyone growing food and possibly even other resources i.e. backyard chickens, rabbits,etc. within city limits and yes, we do mean vegetable gardens! This can be a container garden on a fire escape all the way up to a full back yard of raised beds and animal cages. Producing a large percentage of the produce that you consume or starting out on the journey to get you there qualifies you for this project! No garden is too small for this project so sign up today.

I don't feel particularly "Urban" since we're definitely on the suburban fringes of San Jose - but, technically, we *are* in City Limits - so I joined 'em!

Anyway, if this is something that might interest you, go on over and check 'em out. They're posting all kinds of interesting ideas. I especially like their compact chicken-coop - but I don't think I'll be able to convince Rog that "fresh eggs" are worth it! Hey - Hens *are* legal in residential San Jose!

So that's the Latest 'n Greatest from my backyard.............


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