Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carrots for Mental Health

Recently, my son had a bout with depression and anxiety. While we spent many hours with professionals, I thought of something we could do at home to take his mind off of things. I had him plant a mental health plant.

To do this, I showed him our collection of vegetable seeds and let him pick one. He picked carrots.

Taking a red solo cup and poking holes in the bottom, we filled it up with mix and he put the seeds in. He's been taking very good care and watering it every three days. Now it's time to transplant.

The picture above shows the plants ready to go, with a beer-bottle filled with a B1 mix to prevent transplant shock.

Now in the whiskey barrel, we'll see how these carrots do.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 25, 2015

Nothing but Net

It's getting to the time where the grapes are getting too tempting to the local wildlife. We found a squirrel trying to get the the fruit just this morning.

If you follow this blog, you know that this is an ongoing problem each year.  We tried netting the entire plant but this just constricted the plant too much and we didn't get any grapes. Last year, we tried using holographic tape and was able to get about half a crop, the other was devoured by critters, so I guess it worked somewhat.

It also gave my wife something to take a picture of.

There's still some tape on the plant but this year, I'm taking the extra step of netting individual bunches.  We've been saving the nets that the fruits and vegetables come in from the store.

My plan is to put a net around each bunch, letting then breathe and get sunshine but providing a barrier for the animals.

I was able to net up eight bunches, about a third, before I ran out.  We'll see soon how well this works.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Battling at the Barricades

This is our plumeria. It's a beauty. In fact, we've caught strangers coming up and plucking bunches off for their bouquets. It has nothing to do with this post, just thought I post something nice to mitigate the ugliness that's below.

After 20 years, gophers have finally found my lawn. Strange, because it's surrounded by pavement and concrete, which should have kept them out. I'm guessing they got desperate since my nextdoor neighbor stopped watering her lawn and they must have struck out from there. Since the first hole showed up at the edge of the lawn closest to hers, that's my working theory.

Not too long after I first noticed the mounds, a dead gopher showed up on our driveway. I figured the local cats got it and left it as a trophy. Our lizards and other scavengers took care of the body before I got a chance to dispose of it.

I'd hoped this took care of the problem but more mounds appeared a few days later. It was obvious that they were headed across the lawn and to my garden. I had to take action before they decimated it.

There comes a time in every serious gardener's life where deadly action is necessary. It's either our garden or them. You can try as hard as you can to dissuade them but not all of those pests will take the hint.

So, finding the freshest mound, I put a garden hose in and turned on the water. About two minutes later, the soaked rodent popped out.

I dispatched him with a hoe.  I'll spare you the gory details and photo.

In other lawn news, I've planted feverfew in the deer buffet rose garden to deter pests of an insect nature.  They do seem to keep the aphids, mealybugs, and the like away (the deer are immune, though) but they tend to get out of hand once in awhile.

Before mowing, I rip off the longest bunches and throw on the lawn to be sucked up by the mower.

Once mowed, I've got the gopher holes flattened...

...and the deer buffet rose garden has it's feverfew back under control.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

From the Land of Free Flowing Water least for this weekend.  We've got a late season storm to help ease our parched land. In fact, so far May is the wettest month of the season. An inch and a half of rain means we can turn off the timers for a few days and enjoy nature's complimentary wetness.

This tomato likes it. It's overflowed its cage but still no flowers. But wait, what is that?

That's right, there are some buds hidden below. Fruit is on its way.

Same with this hanging basket of cherry tomatoes.

This heirloom tomato is not growing as fast but is still looking good.

Zucchini is blooming, too. It should be the first producer.

Our hot red chili plant is also showing flowers.

So far, it's looking good.

The grape vine has many bunches of grapes like this.

Every now and then, though, I see a weakling like this one on the left.

Pluck...and it's gone. We want to channel the plant's strength to the best clusters.

It is just about time to put my little net bags on this fruit to protect it until harvest.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tucson, Arizona - Recap

If our previous reports on Tucson, Arizona were too much for you, Tim provides a Cliff Notes version for you today in this 5 minute video.

Watch the Video!

Filmed at the Radisson Suites Happy Hour and Military Party in Tucson.

For the complete reports, click the links below:

Tucson, Arizona 2011 - Part 1

Tucson, Arizona 2011 - Part 2

Copyright 2011
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Resting Easy in the U.S.

There's nobody better in digging out the details of accessible travel than Candy Harrington. Along with husband Charles Pannell, She turns out books on accessible travel at a furious pace (she writes, he takes the pictures).

Her latest, Resting Easy In The U.S. looks into a facet of accessible lodging that has always fascinated me...unique, non-cookie cutter accommodations that are wheelchair accessible.

Candy excels in the nuts and bolts of travel, uncovering useful details most people would never think of but are essential to mobility challenged tourists.  Beyond details like roll-in showers, we get things like how high the edge of the bed is; will there be room for your Hoyer lift and what piece of furniture you might need to move out of the way; can you roll under the kitchen counter; how many (and how high) steps there are that you might need to navigate...this book is a detailer's masterpiece.

The them of this tome, of course, is uniqueness. We can go to the Hiltons, Marriotts, and Sheratons all day long and find decent accessible rooms but they're pretty much all the same (I defy anyone to be able to tell one Springhill Suites from another on their travels).

Peabody Hotel Duckmaster and his Charges

Here, each of the 90 plus properties has a spin on it that you won't find anywhere else. Want to go to an early 20th century, summer camp-like lodge on the edge of the Monterey Peninsula? Asilomar will fit that bill. A cushy and luxe hotel where you can walk to Beale Street and get an up-close-and-personal parade of ducks each day? The Peabody in Memphis is the ticket for you. How about a spectacular view room where you can watch the sun play over the beauty of Monument Valley from your room? The View Hotel in Utah is for you.

There is an extensive variety of lodgings described here. Quaint bed and breakfasts, national park lodges, housekeeping cabins, yurt tents, and boutique hotels are among those listed here. If you're really adventurous, you can even sleep in an accessible lean-to in an accessible wilderness park in upstate New York.

Candy Harrington

In addition, Candy's attention to details gives you little tips along the way. You might need a roll-in shower, she will tell you if you might want to skip a particular property because it only has tubs or the property in Cambria has a couple of steps into the office but she'll let you know that the owner will come out to your vehicle to check you in so you won't have to negotiate them. Even to the point of letting you know how far you'll need to go and that you'll need to pay for the shower in certain campgrounds.

There's a wealth of information here and it covers a good deal of the United States. You'll be sure to find something here to make a great trip. I know I'll be referring to it often.

Resting Easy In The US is available at and at

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

To Lawn or Not to Lawn...That is Today's Question

Before reading this, you may want to check out the posts leading up to this finale of our Earth Week series...

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

It's been portrayed as our patriotic duty. Much like Liberty Gardens or food rationing in World War II, we Californians are being told lawns are passe and we need to let them die to be good water users.

Funny thing is, we've been conserving water for years and still use a lot less than people around us. Now, partly because they couldn't be bothered to cut back, we have to cut even deeper and all eyes are on that semi-green patch in front of the house.

Part of me says, fine. Let it go.  You won't have to mow it anymore.  The other part of me says it'll be dusty, ugly, and the grass has other benefits besides looking nice and creating a soft place to step.

So what are the benefits of a lawn?  It creates habitat for bugs which feed the birds. It filters water going back to the aquifer. It keeps the dust down. It creates oxygen. It has a cooling effect on the air. It improves the value of a property.

What are the drawbacks? It takes water. In our case, about 10% of our monthly water. You have to mow it regularly. You have to do other maintenance such as feeding and de-thatching.

Now, looking at the pros and cons, what do I do?  

When a lawn goes dormant, such as in the cold of winter back east or the scorching heat of summer out here in the west, it doesn't really die and will sprout readily when fall rains come again.

I've cut back to where I still comfortably land in the water use guidelines and regulations to our state so I think I will continue until the lawn browns on its own when the summer heat gets too much for it. At that point, I will cut it off and wait for a wetter winter and fall to see how it comes back.

Sure beat mowing it every weekend this summer.

I hope you've enjoyed our Earth Week series and that it's helped you to be water-wise in your own gardening. Next time, it's back to our little patch of urban garden, our follies, and triumphs.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 1, 2015

Yuma, Arizona

We're working our way through the American Southwest. This week, it's Yuma as we work our way over into Arizona. Yuma is at the convergence of California, Arizona, and Mexico...

Watch the Video!

In the old days, cowboys would come here looking for a good saloon, a bath, and maybe someone to spend the night with.  Today, we’re looking for a full breakfast, a big room with a comfortable bed, and a good wifi connection.

Near the western end of town, reminders of the old days sit across the freeway from each other. The Territorial Prison on a bluff looking over the Colorado River held the area's ne'er do wells within its thick, rock walls.  Those who were more upstanding…or maybe just lucky at not being caught…would have a cold beer while playing cards across the way at Lute's Casino.

For this trip, our hotel would be the Springhill Suites, just off of Interstate 8 at the 16th Street exit.  Our room would be a large, semi-suite with a living room and a separate bedroom area with a king-size bed.  There is also a full-size sofabed in the living room.  The bathroom is large.  You have your choice of a tub and bath chair, or a roll-in shower.

We don't need a roll-in so we opt for the tub.

The  $81 rate includes a full, hot breakfast.  No one would mistake it for gourmet, but the eggs, sausage, toast, and waffles are good and wholesome.

Nearby is another alternative, the La Fuente Inn and Suites where the price is nearly the same, the suites are really big rooms, it's not quite as accessible (no roll-in showers), but they do offer a great hot breakfast, have a really fun happy hour each night, and a beautiful pool area.

Seven miles to the west, back in California, we start the trip by walking over the border to Mexico in Los Algodones.  A medical tourism hotspot catering to snowbirds, today we're just making a fast shopping trip to get some great, cheap premium tequila and some medicines to stock up our medicine cabinet with.  Letty also gets some big bottles of vanilla for cooking.

Back in Yuma, a trip to the old territorial prison is in order.  At a cost of $8, it's not cheap, but what a step back in time.  Walking through the sally port, you see the massive, iron reinforced adobe walls.  Other parts of the prison use solid rock walls five feet thick.

Small cells with chamber pots line the corridors.  Some have rings embedded into the ground to chain the prisoners in place.  The dark cell, used for punishment, is indeed a scary place.  An iron grid on the floor outlines the spot where the former cage was.  It is imperative to watch your step in this dark room.

The entire complex, save for one cell, is accessible to wheelchairs but some parts may be bumpy.

For dinner, we go over the freeway to Lute's where we sit among the memorabilia hanging throughout the room.  Dinner tonight is the Lute's special, which is a cheeseburger topped with a sliced hot dog.  It's good, cheap, and kind of a gutbuster.

The sun comes up late here in the winter…Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time.  At 7:15 in the morning, the first rays pop up over the eastern mountains.  We have a final breakfast at the hotel before packing it up and heading back on the road.

Editor's note:  You may also want to view our previous reports for this destination.  We took another, more extensive, trip here in October.  The links are below:
Medical Tourism - Los Algodones, Mexico
Medical Tourism - Yuma, Arizona

Copyright 2011 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved