August 19, 2010

In A Pickle

It was harvest time for Claire and me in The Stewart Family Garden today. Unlike last year, I didn't plant six rows of corn and a bunch of jalapeno peppers. I tend to eat the jalapenos as fast as they mature, so it's easier to buy them from the grocer or at the farmer's market. And last season I failed to ask Grandma or Grandpa Thullner - the real farmers in the family - for advice prior to planting the six rows of corn... which explains why we had ears of corn coming out of our ears last year. I also made the mistake of planting all the corn at the same time, as opposed to two weeks apart like Grandma T later suggested. Doing so would have produced two mini-harvests versus one ginormous one. Luckily, Grandma T was here for last year's harvest to help me blanch and freeze what seemed to be hundreds of ears of corn. Of course, by "helping" I mean "doing everything while I sat by sipping on an ice cold beer and taking notes just in case I ever have to do this by myself". Well, we apparently didn't learn from our mistakes last season. Instead of rows of corn, Linda planted a bunch of lettuce... way more lettuce than a family of 2.5 people can possibly consume, especially when one of the 2.5 people rarely eats veggies unless they are capable of setting your mouth ablaze (ask Claire about her Papa's infamous Jalapeno Pizza). But having too much lettuce is was the least of our problems (we actually dug up all the lettuce and threw it away after it started tasting bitter, thereby pissing off every wascally wabbit in the weighborhood). Our current predicament has to do with a bumper crop of cucumbers. Like last year - when we realized we had WAY too many cucumbers - Linda planted EXACTLY the same number of cucumber plants. But unlike last year, Grandma T isn't here to "help" Linda make a pantry full of canned pickles. Gee, I wonder why Grandma isn't planning to visit until AFTER harvest this year? Anyway, we have cucumbers coming out of our ass... Whoa! Since this is sorta a family blog, I'll restate my comment in code: we have an overabundance of Cucumis sativus protruding from our Glenn Becks! Unfortunately, the only two things Linda knows how to make with a cucumber are: 1) cucumber salad and 2) a keep-Stew-in-line projectile. But 17 days in a row of eating cucumber salad (and three trips to the ER for severe concussions) can take its toll on a family, not to mention our health savings account. So if anyone has any G-rated ideas of what to do with these cucumbers, please let me know. I've already contacted a few friends, plus Claire's preschool, to see if anyone wants one, two or 22 cucumbers. This photo is just from today's harvest, and there are a lot more cucumbers on their way. In the meantime, Claire and I are going to see if anything good can happen when we take a food processor and fill it with our freshly picked tomatoes, some cilantro, a red onion and a bunch of funny looking hot peppers we bought at the farmer's market yesterday. The Hmong farmer who sold me the peppers just smiled and nodded when I asked, "Are these peppers hot?" When I asked him "How hot", he just smiled and nodded again. I thought maybe he was playing some Jedi mind trick on me, so I tested him with one more question. I asked, "Do you think my wife is a very lucky woman?" Well he passed my test, but I'm not quite sure why Claire burst into laughter after I asked the last question. Oh well...

In other Carver County news... as alluded to in yesterday's post rant, we recently attended the Carver County Fair in luxurious Downtown Waconia. The day we went was the first day the heat index wasn't 683 degrees (I think it was about an 85 degree day), plus the fairgrounds weren't overcrowded. As far as I know, I'm the only person alive who gets road rage in the middle of a large crowd. I can't even go to Costco without wanting to run down a half dozen different people for driving their cart too slowly... or stopping their cart in the middle of the aisle when grabbing a food sample from the little old sample lady. And don't even get me started on the lazy-asses who can't seem to grasp the concept of a cart bin. You know, it's the place where you push your empty cart after you've put all your groceries into your vehicle. Unless, of course, you choose to simply leave your cart sitting in the middle of an open parking space. Geezus, I'm getting Stewed just thinking about it, so I'd best move on. But where was I? Oh yea - the Carver County Fair.

So besides wanting to ride on the carousel and drive a car all by herself, Claire wanted to see The Extreme Canine Stunt Dog Show... which is essentially a bunch of frisbee dogs, a couple of which are also agility specialists (dogs that run through an obstacle course really, REALLY fast). When we took our seats in the bleachers, the lead dog trainer was selling dog ear visors to help raise money for local dog rescue agencies. Speaking of which - if you'll allow me to go a little off track (as if you have a choice) - I've come up with a brilliant idea for a dog rescue/adoption program. It's modeled after the guns-for-cash program used in many gang-infested neighborhoods around the country. But instead of giving up a gun in exchange for cash, my program involves people turning in a cat to get a dog. It's like killing two birds with one stone... or something like that. It's a win-win for everyone. We get a bunch of miserable cats off the street, plus a lot of cool dogs find happy homes. Our friend, Dee (aka Aunt Dee-Rosemount), has two cats, so I'm going to target her for my very first customer - even though she also already has one really awesome dog. But who knows? Maybe if she keeps collecting cats and exchanging them for dogs she'll have a pretty good dog sled team come wintertime. Anyway, getting back to the stunt dog show...

After we bought Claire a dog ear visor, we learned that anyone who purchased the visor can volunteer to be part of the show. So as soon as the trainer asked for volunteers, Claire's hand popped up. Of course, being someone with low self-esteem and an intense fear of having people watch me, my natural instinct was to push Claire's hand down and say, "Oh no, Claire... you don't want to do this... trust me." But instead, I sat by quietly with my head down while I nervously bounced my knee up and down secretly hoping the trainer wouldn't see Claire's hand. Then I heard the trainer ask, "How about you?" I looked up, relieved to see the trainer pointing to some other little girl. There was some murmuring back and forth between the trainer and the girl's parents, and all I could make out was that the little girl wanted one of her parents to go out on the dog field with her. That's when the trainer said something to the effect that the kid has to be old enough to go alone. And there was my excuse. I could dissuade Claire from volunteering because there's no way she'd go out there all by herself. Not with more than 100 strangers staring at you, waiting for you to do something embarrassing - something to shame the family name!  But before I could warn Claire, the dog trainer pointed at her and asked, "Do you want to come out here and be a stunt dog?" Claire didn't even give it a second thought. She hopped off the bleacher and headed for the gate leading to the field. She was later joined by two six year old kids or, rather, stunt dogs.

Besides having a wonderful time at the county fair - up until the point where Claire started whining incessantly about wanting to go on more rides - I learned a valuable lesson that day. I realized I haven't managed to screw up Claire too badly. Not yet anyway. Our biggest fear is Claire will grow up lacking confidence, something Linda and I both struggle with in our own ways. So we're always mindful to try to give Claire opportunities to make her own decisions and praise her for doing so. I'm not sure what stopped me from stopping Claire that day at the fair, but I'm so happy I didn't... or did? Whatever, you know what I mean.

Below is a video I shot of Claire the Stunt Dog.  Unfortunately, both the sound and image quality are horrible, plus after uploading all my video footage I found out the part showing Claire walking out to greet the dog trainer and telling her her name was missing. So the video picks up with the trainer asking Claire how old she is. Enjoy...


Pete 9:22 AM  

Great job Claire! Naiya is going to be so jealous when she sees this. Thanks for the video, Stew.

Posh Pooch Designs 11:35 AM  

Enjoyed reading your blog.

Edie Mindell 4:43 AM  

Wow!!! The tomatoes in the pictures are very delectable.:-) I love to eat tomatoes.:-) Your daughter is so cute and lovely.:-)

earl 12:01 AM  

I enjoyed this a lot. .so much fun makes me happy lol well great job

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Commentary from a stay-at-home dad on daily happenings and misadventures while helping raise a wonderful little girl. The goal is to employ wit, sarcasm and/or humor to make the blog pseudo-entertaining. Then again, setting goals never really worked for me, but maybe you'll chuckle anyway.

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