Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ok! NOW I'm in the Christmas Mood!

No pictures with this post, because I didn't think to take along the camera last night, but we had such a marvelous time, that I just had to share my thoughts with you. We’re in the Christmas mood after a terrific concert last night. We live out here in the country in northern Indiana, and the closest town to us is across the state line in Michigan. It’s a tiny town, with one stop light, two bars, four churches and one gas station.

Lately it’s been having a changeover from sleepy little farming town to an artsy community. Part of the energy in the change came from one place, the Acorn Theater. Two men from Chicago, with lots of experience in theater, bought an old factory that used to make corset stays out of turkey feathers, and changed part of it into a theater. It’s a good sized stage, a huge Barton pipe organ with pipes hung all around the room, and seating that changes with the shows from some intimate tables and theater seating to all the chairs they can squeeze into the place and it holds about 250. They have all kinds of amazing acts come in to entertain, plus open mike nights, videos and special celebrations that are such fun.

Living nearby are singers with the Chicago Opera Company, and they’ve started doing Opera at the Acorn, a series of Opera based events that bring world class entertainment, out here in the middle of nowhere. Last night was their 5th Annual Christmas show, billed as the Jolliest Christmas Show Ever. They brought along a harpist, classically trained pianist from the Ukraine, a guitarist and a violinist, to accompany the incredible singers.

When we arrived, someone was outdoors roasting chestnuts, grown on their own trees, and handing them out to everyone. It was such fun to see an event like this in a small town, because everyone was there, from the moneyed lady in the full length chinchilla coat, to the teenaged goth girls, in their black hair and lipstick. Hugs everywhere, and everyone visited so that it was tough to move through the theater to our seats. They started with songs from Handel’s Messiah and ended the first part with a sing along of the Halleluiah Chorus, accompanied by the booming organ. They handed out the sheet music, but like most, we can’t follow it, so we just picked a singer we liked, and sang along with that one as best we could. It was a wild musical romp and somehow sounded goosebump-raising great!

After that they took a break, and an older gentleman climbed up onto the seat of the organ wearing a peaked elf hat, and played traditional carols. The second part of the evening was a mix of all the performers favorites, some great, O Holy Night, and I Wonder as I Wander, to the ridiculous, like I Saw Daddy Choking Santa Claus. What fun that was. They ended the night by bringing their three dogs out onto the stage wearing antlers while we all sang along to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We feel so lucky to have this kind of crazy, talented people in the area, and glad we can afford to spring for tickets now and then.

Seems like each year, I need a good strong dose of Christmas music to get me jump-started in the holiday mood. That sure did it. I'm in the mood now, and think I'll probably get those presents wrapped today. Merry Christmas, and God Bless us All!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Lessons From the Greenhouse

We're having such fun trying to extend the growing season in our little unheated greenhouse. Now I know that tomatoes are heat-lovers, but with dreams of savory home-grown tomatoes in winter, I snipped the tips from some growing plants in the garden, and rooted them in soil to bring inside to try.
They rooted well and started to grow, but just couldn't make it. Two of the plants took on the strangest coloring. Their leaf veins started turning purple! We also had aphids and whiteflies on some of the plants, so I thought that there was some kind of infestation going on there too, but finally found that it was just too cold for the poor tomato plants. When the soil gets too cold for them, they can't take up the calcium they need and they turn purple, starting with the large leaf veins, and spreading out into the edges. So the tomatoes have now come inside to the living room bay window.The green beans were a semi-success. They did well for a while, blooming and actually growing a few small beans, but as it's gotten colder, they've now given up and will have to go.
The hot peppers seemed to be aphid magnets, and no amount of soapy water would discourage them, so they had to go too, as did the other plant with whiteflies.

So, with those out of the way, we now just have cold loving plants in the greenhouse and they're doing well. Slowly, but well. The pea pods are doing very well, growing out of their pot and down the wall of water filled heat storage buckets. I'm so looking forward to picking pods off of them for winter salads.We have spinach, collards, onions, three different kinds of lettuces, herbs and some radishes and beets. The radishes seem to be all tops, and the herbs are doing just fine. The greens all seem to be growing well, just in slow motion, which is fine.We have no added heat out there at all, but the double polycarbonate glazing and a stapled up layer of plastic with dead air space on the south side help gather what sunlight we do get and at least insulate. The temperature maintains in the 40's while outside it's been down to 16 and is usually in the 30's during these days of high wind and blizzard. Jim just checked the temps, and it's 6 degrees above zero this morning, and 33 out in the greenhouse. That's the coldest it's gotten so far. Not bad, for no added heat at all.
I took these pictures before the blizzard hit and we only had a few inches of snow. For the past four days it's been snow and high winds and we couldn't get out for 3 days of that time.
Last night I went out and harvested a salad for us for dinner. Just enough for a generous salad for two.

This greenhouse has been such a fun experiment. Even if we can't grow all the good things we want to in there, it's been a nice thing to step into that space on these dreary days and see green things to greet me. We keep three florescent lights going for about 12 hours a day to help the plants along, and that costs us very little. We gain a bit of protection on that side of the house because of the greenhouse there, and that wall, which has always been cold to the touch in the wintertime, is warm now.

We're really looking forward to time to start our seedlings on those shelves in the early spring. That's when we'll really enjoy it. We're already making our list for our first seed order of 2011.