Cat-astrophe Avoided, Jan Dreams of a Garden

Whew! Major crisis this morning! My constant companion, Ritz the cat, got his head stuck in an olive jar. Luckily, he was discovered pretty quickly because he was stuck tight and no air was getting in. As my grandson tried to get the jar off, Ritz was becoming more and more limp.

I finally yelled at Grandson to get a hammer and I took a whack. My grandson was yelling that Ritz could get glass in his eyes, but I’d rather have a vision-impaired cat than a dead one. As annoying as Ritz can be, he’s my bud. As I write this, Hubby and Grandson are off to the vet with the victim to get the rest of the jar off and make sure all of the glass crumbs are off him.

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My glucose whacked up 50 points. Good ol’ stress. When I calm down some more, I’ll get the remaining glass crumbs off of my scooter seat. Then I need to have a talk with the menfolk about leaving open jars on the counter with a little bit of something left in the bottom.

And I was going to write about what a boring week it’s been!

Is it spring yet? I want spring to be here. It’s not that I want to skip winter — it’s probably my favorite season (mostly because I work at home and don’t have to go out into that stuff) — but I’m anxious to get some dirt under my nails.

I got really frustrated this year because I couldn’t do anything with the garden except pick vegetables from around the edges. And those were only the vegetables that were high enough for me to reach.

My husband was nice enough to plant the garden for me, but that’s where it ended. There was no weeding and getting anybody to harvest vegetables was next to impossible. Then there was the drought and watering was a problem. I can water the garden, but then I get the yard wet, too, (not to mention me and the scooter) and my scooter gets stuck.

But the man who takes care of the lawn and does “honey do” projects around the house plowed the garden and put in some 4-by-4-foot raised beds last week. They’re two feet high with paths in between wide enough for me to get my scooter through, and filled with layers of topsoil and peat moss.

So they’re ready to go. It just isn’t time to plant anything. Well, except garlic. At least, that’s the only thing I know of that’s planted in the fall. Maybe I should surf around to see if there’s anything else that can be planted in the fall.

Also, right now I need to let the ground around the raised beds settle because it’s pretty soft and the scooter would get stuck. In the spring, we can put a thick layer of mulch down on the paths around the garden beds for me to ride on.

I’m not a very good gardener. I don’t exactly have a green thumb. I just keep longing for the taste of the vegetables of my youth. You know, before the taste was bred out of things like tomatoes and green beans so they could more easily be shipped to grocery stores. Besides, fresh veggies are good for people with diabetes. Also, if you let the children help, they might even eat what they grow.

Stringless beans? Feh! Beans with strings also had actual beans in them and those beans had flavor. I remember many an afternoon spent with my grandmother, stringing beans and talking. Sometimes we strung the strung beans on thread and hung them on nails in the water heater shed behind the house to dry and eat during the winter. That is, those that weren’t canned. The dried beans tasted better. They would get soaked overnight, then cooked up. Yum!

Granny made pickled beans, too. And pickled corn. I have her pickling crock and she told me how to make pickled corn. I don’t have room to grow corn, but may hit the farmer’s market early enough next summer to get some freshly picked corn and give it a try.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather had a huge garden — or maybe it seemed huge because I was little. Maybe four or five years old. He would plant corn and pole beans together so the beans would climb up the cornstalks as they grew. I would “help” with my little toy gardening set.

And the tomatoes! Oh, my! Leaning over the sink with a warm, freshly picked tomato in one hand and a shaker of salt in the other, eating the tomato with juice running down my arm and dripping off my elbow is one of my childhood memories.

I was talking with an old friend a few days ago and we were laughing about the foods we grew up on: The meats were fried, the vegetables were overcooked, the gravy was plentiful, and the fruit was in pies. (In fact, my grandmother combined pies and fried, as in fried apple pies. They were good, too. I wish she’d taught me how to make them.)

But then there were the gardens in our backyards, where we could pick and eat at will. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that here next year. All by myself.

  • Cathy R

    I hope that Ritz comes through his jarring experience with no long term harm.

    I, too remember the gardens of grandparents and parents. Green beans and fresh tomatoes are my favorite! That and the satsumas from our trees down in Louisiana.

  • Joe

    For future reference, the best way to get a cat’s head out of a tight spot is to grasp the loose skin on the neck and pull gently. This seems to compress their ears a bit -they’re usually the part that’s stuck. Been there, done that. More than once.

    We have raised beds and made the mistake of planting tomatillos this year. They grew so high and fast that they crowded out most everything else, except of course, the tomatoes, which they seemed to play nice with. We did, however have a bumper crop of grapes, which are currently becoming wine on the kitchen counter. Had to buy beans to pickle, though.

  • Jan Chait

    “Jarring” experience?

    I’m happy(?) to report that Ritz is back to his former, annoying, self.

    No satsumas in West Virginia, but I recall with fondness a June apple tree in my great aunt’s back yard and sitting on the back porch with my aunt and grandmother peeling (and peeling and peeling) apples. I don’t remember what they did to preserve them — maybe dried. I couldn’t have been 10 yet. I do remember the pies — and eating green apples, again with salt. June apples maybe because that’s when they were ready to eat.

    Jan

  • Cathy A.

    Ah Jan, a person who loves to dig in the dirt. I do that instead of going to a therapist – it IS my therapy! You brought back fond memories for me with your piece. I too remember sitting with Dad or Mom outside, talking & snappng beans, or cleaning strwaberries for jam – or peaches to be canned, or shucking corn. The “many hands make light work” theory is really true, plus it has created memories that last forever. Family time at its best. No “ap” for that!

    Glad Ritz is well after his scare. Had to have old Eddie, my cat of almost 15 years, put down a few weeks ago. Had him since he ws born on my bed. I was the 1st human to touch him as he was born. Then I was there holding him as he passed on. They are truly parts of the family. His mom is sitting on my lap right now.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks for the memories. I needed to remember the smell of warm, fresh picked tomatoes on a cold day in the PNW.

  • Linda M.

    Jan,you do live such an exciting life—hope Ritz appreciates you saving his life and does well. I, too, grew up with a huge garden right behind our house. My mom canned everything! We didn’t have a freezer when I was young. In summer we would make a meal of fried okra or squash, fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh cut-off corn, green onions and corn bread. Yummmm! We might have a blackberry cobbler for dessert. I remember my mom and dad taking a hoe to make a row and showing me how to plant peas, beans, corn, sqash, okra, etc. Or digging a hole for me to place a tomato plant in. They would have a bucket of miracle grow and water made up for me to take a cup and fill the hole before they put the dirt back in the hole and pressed it down around the tomato. Good memories! Now I live in an apartment and buy any fresh veggies at the farmers market in town. Nothing seems to taste as good as it did then but it’s still good. Hope you get to play in the dirt in your raised beds this spring and grow all the veggies you want. You’ll be making memories for your grandchildren and showing them how to grow healthy food.