Thursday, April 14, 2011

In the City

We're in the Valley this week - that's short for Valley of the Sun or Phoenix Metropolitan Area for those who don't know the lingo.

It's a busy week of doctor appointments: Tanner's kidney check up; my sister Lynda's thyroid surgery follow up ("So, where's this pill that's gonna make me glow for 3 days?"); her "how-do-I-function-without-a-thyroid?" appointment; a little school on the road; and a bit of recreation.

My sweet husband is home on the farm all alone while we take care of all this business. Before we left, he, Adam and I had an onion planting sprint - I'd say marathon, but the whole point is that it didn't take us all that long. We were on a deadline so we had to hustle. It was an impressive sight, I tell you.

Mike ripped up the onion bed with the as-yet-unnamed tractor. I got my first ride on the tractor. I hadn't been on one since I was a kid. It was awesome. I forgot how great it is to just dangle your legs as you rumble back and forth, back and forth. I already got it that Mike loves his little tractor. Now I really get it. Seeing my little chicken boots hanging off the side of the...whatever part they were hanging off...not thinking of anything, just along for the ride. Bliss.

But back to the sprint.

So, we ripped up the ground, worked in some bags of good potting dirt, wet the soil **guffaw laugh, chuckle, snort, grab side, guffaw laugh more, snort, hiccup, choke**. Oh, sorry, it's just that there's no way that sandy, terra cotta-colored substance is soil. It's not. It's going to take a few years. But we're in the gardening corner and we have to talk the talk, so we'll call it "soil" and I'll just try not to blow snot bubbles while I hold it all in.


We ripped the ground, worked in the dirt, wet the soil, marked a little grid and planted 300 onions, all in a little less than 3 hours flat. I kid you not. I have the sunburn across my lower back and throbbing fingernail beds to prove it. We were flying. We had to get those onions in the ground because there was no way they would have lasted until we get home this Saturday, and I wasn't going to ask Mike to plant them all on his own while we were gone.

Getting the first crop of the season into the ground is always monumental for me. Can you be gleefully serene? Because I was so excited every step of the way - seriously, even walking from the house to the garden was jubilant that morning - but then as I sat back on my heels (for which my thigh muscles and knees still haven't forgiven me) and saw those little green blades poking hopefully up out of the dirt, I was just so darn happy and, well, serene. I can't help it.There's something about the smell of the earth and digging and mounding dirt around young stems and watching the water darken the soil *heheheh, really I can't take it*, that gets my granola on.

So, anyway. Onions are in. I'll let you know how they do. Admittedly, plopping veggies down in "soil" that freshly dug isn't the ideal way to go. I had a little bed all ready for them that I'd filled with lots of good crunchy leaves and grass clippings and manure and bags of soil last year then left to simmer all fall and winter till now, only to realize there was not nearly enough room in that bed for all the onions, hence the big bed we dug the other day. So, I have my toes crossed that most of the 300 will survive. And, I'll find another purpose for that little patch of wonder dirt just aching to nourish...something.

If this were a gardening blog, I'd load you down with the names of all the onions I ordered, but since I don't know what the heck kind of blog this is, I'll just wait till I open a gardening tab on here somewhere to get that detailed. Suffice it to say we have red, sweet, big and good keepers.

Moving on.

Tan's doctor appointment went pretty darn good. His kidneys are doing great these days. Homeschooling during the horrendous cold and flu season seems to have paid big dividends. No general illnesses provoking a kidney response means we're not contemplating chemotherapy, which means Mama's a happy girl.

Now, we did find out that these little fellas aren't producing the way they should, so we're keeping an eye on that for awhile. The immunosuppresant meds Tan is on can cause his white blood cell counts and bone marrow to go awry, so we're testing his blood again in a couple of weeks to see if his numbers go back up. Hopefully, we'll find the dip is an anomaly rather than a trend and we won't have to change anything up. When things are going this good for his kidneys we hate to rock the boat, but we need to avoid causing other threatening issues while we're fighting the good fight for his kidney beans. I don't have that clenched fist in my stomach, so I'm thinking this will either end up being a non-issue or a manageable one, so we're going to enjoy the rest of our visit, by golly.

By the way, have you met Tanner?

Here he is.

And this is Tanner.

Awww...and this is Tanner. And Mike. And our old friend Whitney, who we sure miss.

I suppose meeting Adam, Macy & Karlie is in order, too. We'll do that later.

OK, so now that we've decided that we're not going to borrow trouble about Tan's white blood cells, we're going to get on with our time in the Valley.

After Lyn gets back from the doctor this morning, we're heading here:

To the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix. My kids love this place. We'll be having lunch at this big restaurant where they come rolling up to your table with a dim sum cart, and it's really easy to go crazy ordering all those little side dishes.

The restaurant opens out to this little gazebo and pond. And the waiters and waitresses smile placatingly but are very impatient for you to know what you want right away, be ready to order when they get to your table, and enjoy the nice atmosphere, but don't linger too long after you're done. We have tables to turn after all. Somehow, the impatience adds to the charm of the experience. I'm sure they'd love to hear that condescending little statement.

After lunch, we'll be going to the oh-so-Asian sounding, authentic Chinese grocery store:

Here, my kids buy all manner of weird treats and sweets. Adam goes in for some truly disgusting, exotic stuff all in the name of culture. Blech. I'm all for culture, I love culture, but I'll take good tasting, no-offensive-textured culture, thank you very much. This from the kid who doesn't like fresh tomatoes or mushrooms because of their texture. I don't get it.

I'm looking forward to our Ranch Market trip because if you haven't heard the secret yet, I'm about to give it away right here, right now: Asian markets have seriously fantastic prices. I've been wanting to get down here to stock up on cooking oils and coconut milk and other items that you'll find dirt cheap here and nowhere else. Seriously, you can't beat Asian market prices. And that is a statement that is backed up by strict scientific research. Well, not really, but it is true that a lot of people agree with me that anything you can get an Asian market, you should, because it is less expensive there. Swear.

Well, that's a lengthy rundown of what we're up to. Just think, if I were on Twitter, you could have gotten the bite-size version:

"Onions growing. Kidneys good. Lyn to doc. Off to Chinese market. No beef tongue, Adam, NO!"

Oh, and remember those two seemingly unconnected photos I showed you the other day? Well, here's one more.

But, I don't have time to tell you about it now, so we'll get to that later.

Love from the farm, if the farm were in Scottsdale,

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