Archive | June 2015

The bean thief (no, it isn’t a joke!)

It happened for the first time early on. We had our first flush of the first-planted Jackson Lima beans. The Jacksons were also planted front and center in the front garden. “Tomorrow we’re going to have a main course of lima beans,” I crowed. Yet, when I went out to gather them the next day…there was not a single bean pod of any size or readiness on any of the plants. I really didn’t know what to think.

About a week later, when the Henderson Lima’s were just ready to pick –branches hanging heavy with bean pods just hours away from being ready for picking, abracadabra from evening to next morning and they almost all disappeared, save for a few that were hanging way deep in the branches.

All during the time when harvesting needed to happen in the pouring rain, I collected big bowl fulls of string beans, lima beans, and runner beans.

Yesterday we took a tour of the garden and debated collecting the copious numbers of runner, string, and lima beans that were ready for harvesting but could go another day and decided against taking them then, as dinner was already planned and things taste best when harvested within a few hours of munching down on them. There were so many that I was not only planning to harvest them for dinner but also to do a canning batch today.

I should have harvested and consigned them to the fridge. ALL of the runner beans were gone today. After much rooting about, I managed to find only 9 string beans. The lima beans… meh, only those that won’t be ready for another 3 days and the ones on the ‘seed’ plants that are already in nearly dried state were left.

It is a two-legged critter that we more than suspect.

She is renting out a space in our neighbour’s house and comes over almost daily to borrow everything from garlic to envelopes, lemon, string, ice (a lot of ice, as it seems she has a mini-fridge that doesn’t have a freezer), and about anything else you can imagine. She also has commented extensively on our garden, noting what seems to be ‘just about ready’ (namely the beans) and the progress of our eggplants, peppers and tomatoes –only she (frankly, thankfully) doesn’t realize that the majority of tomatoes we are growing never turn red when ripe, that the aubergines should be harvested at only 4 inches long and skinny, and that the peppers we are growing don’t conform to your standard green bell pepper.

From this time last night to now, we are missing about 300 bean pods containing 3-5 beans per pod…


Nary a glimpse of the sun, more floods on the horizon?

Weather in Austin is usually pretty on par with weather at home: Meaning that by this time of the year it is hot, dry, and seriously parched. We had a second flood on Friday, last. It was just short of the major Memorial Day flood. We’ve had a few hours of gray “not yet raining” interspersed with “yep, it is raining” since then. I had a very wet birthday.

Flora, okra, javascript

A quick update on Flora the Explorer: Her eye is still paralysed in the open state (not able to blink) but she has ceased falling over and is now able to jump up on things and be quite active. Because her eye can’t shut, I’m still needing to put drops in every few hours. It is hard to tell if her increased mobility is due to an actual improvement in her condition or if she has simply acclimated to the ‘new balance’ of being off-balance. She is eating well and that is a good sign. We really have no idea what has caused this. We do know that it generally takes about 6 weeks to recover.

This morning I harvested the first ‘ready’ okra from the garden and by tomorrow it looks like there will be at least 10 more to pluck. The first Astrakom eggplant should also be ready to harvest within the next couple of days –they only get 4 inches long and happily there are several more growing in the ‘wings.’ One of the ‘chocolate’ bell peppers is nearly the right colour for harvesting –it is turning brown but still has an undertone of green to it –it should be ready when it is the colour of dark chocolate: I think another day or two! On the menu tonight is a stir-fry with the single okra, a gypsy pepper, 4 runner beans and Swiss Chard and a side of string (french) beans, with everything except the rice and onions all from the garden 🙂

Tomorrow I am going to be setting up the intensive mentoring in Javascript I’m doing this summer: It will be 8 weeks long and about 35 hours a week. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve decided to drop one of the Python courses I’ve been doing (both are free) and may end up dropping the other, less intensive, one as well. I want to be able to turn full laser-beam focus on Javascript and I’ve found that the syntax differences have been getting in the way –it is simply annoying –and Python is a much easier language and so I should be able to pick it back up quickly after I’ve got the Javascript nailed down.

The garden, she is growing :)

I thought I’d share some pics I took yesterday of the garden –growing your own food is so much fun! It is especially fun when you are getting close to actually being able to harvest significant amounts from the veggie garden. I’ve got lots of spaces in the square foot garden cleared out (and will be harvesting fully another 7 squares tomorrow) and so can plant more string beans, lima beans (Ema’s most favourite food), and okra as well as putting in some herb seeds (dill, summer savory, cilantro, and basil). I’ve still got 3 tomato seedlings to find a spot for somewhere in the yard and 4 albino bell pepper seedlings –and it is almost time to start planting the fall garden (you plant for it in July and August here!). Ok, so here we go:

Some of the Swiss Chard, our work-horse “greens” that are good (baby leaves) in salad and (big leaves) in stir fries and soups, and that is still going strong after being planted back in October from a “microgreens” seed packet and that I transplanted out back in February (?) IMG_0903
Lima beans!! IMG_0901

Two of our 9 different kinds of tomato plants (14 plants if you count the 3 I still haven’t set out yet). Here we’ve got the Sungold Cherry and San Marzano (like a Roma): IMG_0900 IMG_0902

Next up are some of the peppers. In the first pic there is (foreground) our first Albino pepper forming and in the background two chocolate bell peppers growing on the plant. Then we’ve got the sweet cherry bell peppers and the gourmet (and seriously expensive in the store) Gypsy peppers::
IMG_0895 IMG_0894

Finally, our first aubergine (eggplant) is forming! This one is called an Astrokom: IMG_0896

Brief update on me

In addition to the daily dealings with all the cats and our current kitty emergency, I’ve got lots of other things going on. I’m doing two free online courses ( is awesome) in the Python computer language, I’m nearly done with the Code Academy Javascript course (largely a review of the material in the course I took this spring), and, in about a week and a bit, I’ll start the really intensive Javascript mentoring programme in the hopes of getting accepted to MakerSquare in Sept.

In the meantime, I’m working on a javascript-based website I want to launch for gardeners, getting the last piece in place for filing for 501(c) non-profit status for DARA, getting the DARA website fully functional, and doing some gardening myself.

I’ll do a more expansive garden update soon but can report that I am happy with how it is progressing so far: We’ve definitely got tomatoes, peppers, beans and eggplants in our future 🙂 After that major flooding we had, I wasn’t so sure.

One of the next things I need to tackle is figuring out how to establish a non-profit back home in Israel (anyone with any knowledge and help here on this, your input is more than highly valued).

Update on Flora

I am cautiously optimistic. She is improving. She is now eating her wet food on her own and this morning when I put the eye drops into her eye, the eye blinked. It was a real blink and not just the reflexive third eyelid coming down. She does still have the eye paralysis and paralysis on that same side of her mouth but her balance seems better and she is purring a lot and wanting pet. Given that she is improving, we can rule out cancer. We still don’t know if it is an inner ear infection or some sort of viral infection. I got online and read through some of the medical journal articles and other online resources and it seems that about 75% of partial facial paralysis combined with vertigo (essentially what makes her fall over) in cats is idiopathic, meaning of an unknown origin. The good news is that, with the exception of it being cancer, the majority of cats will recover fully or to a large extent within 6 weeks, with supportive nursing.

Flora is installed in the glass shower stall in my bathroom and her sister, Flossie, has the run of the bathroom. Their being in there is causing a bit of a brouhaha with the cats in my bedroom (Batya, Tinoket, and Matan in particular). One or more of them peed all over the floor outside the bathroom door and on the wall next to it to show their displeasure. At least Smokey Eyin Echad is happy as little clam in the kitty condo.

Prayers for Flora the Explorer please

The lab results have come back completely inconclusive. Some of the things, like a higher than normal calcification level, seem to be possibly indicative of cancer but other values that you’d usually (maybe, possibly) see with cancer are not there. Some of the values seem indicative of an inner or middle ear infection but again, a lot of the values you’d expect to see for that are not there. The other possibilities have been ruled out: She doesn’t have Feline Leukemia or Feline Aids (we already knew that but had the tests run anyway just on the off-chance that her previous tests had given a false negative). She hasn’t eaten anything that could contain botulism (she eats exactly what the other cats eat and nothing that could spoil is left after a meal, much less left out).

She is spending the day at the vet clinic again today to get supportive care and further observation. She is getting sub-Q fluids there and they are going to start her on the antibiotics that, if it is an inner ear infection, will cure her. Her balance is, obviously, still non-existent and so she falls over a lot, especially if she tries to put her head down to drink or eat. She simply can’t manage to do either on her own. She still has paralysis that keeps one eye fully open and so needs to have eye drops put in every few hours.

If it is all caused by an ear infection we will know somewhere between 3-7 days from now …because she will begin improving. If the antibiotics don’t give improvement, essentially we will know that it is a brain tumor. And there just is no cure for that in a cat and it would be criminal to even try.

This is just so shocking to experience. One day you have what appears to be a completely healthy, sleek, happy and young cat (she isn’t yet 6 years old!) and the next morning you have a cat that is stumbling and falling over and can’t even blink one eye.