This Week In Lemon Trees

Lots of action this week around the little lemon tree.

First the bad news: the tree has black spot! Or something. Not sure if this is a bug or a fungus but whatever, I got some neem oil and sprayed the heck out of it this morning. Neem oil, I am given to understand by the thousands of words I have consumed on various Meyer Lemon Tree discussion forums, is an insecticide, miticide, and fungicide so that should take care of whatever it is.

Thanks goodness I became aware of this before I brought the tree inside for the winter. I doubt I would have been spraying an insecticide, miticide, and fungicide around in the kitchen. I have time to spray it two or three times out on the deck before the cold weather sets in. I would have sprayed it sooner but USPS made a lie and said the package was undeliverable on Sept 21 at 1:15 pm because no one was home. Which #1 was Sunday and #2 we were sitting very near the front door. I am not going to get worked up over this but really, online arrangements that don’t quite come off are exhausting me.

Secondly, little flower buds are busting out all over. Isn’t it wonderful?

buds and black spots

buds and black spots

Third, I have returned (truth: Sami has returned) all of the pots I brought home for the little lemon tree because I found the perfect pot of my dreams in Home Depot and here it is:



This pot suited my needs. The #1 criteria was that it should be lightweight so I don’t have to add the weight of a heavy pot when I wrestle it in and out of the house – only the weight of the dirt and tree itself and citrus potting mix is quite lightweight. This pot is some kind of composite material but  sturdy and not as heavy as real stone by far. #2 was it should be somewhat classy and non-offensive in design and #3 was that it should not cost a fortune. This one looks the appropriate type to have a tree growing out of it.

I was so happy to find this and to see that Home Depot can tell you not only that it was in stock at the nearest store, but also that is it located in the Outdoor Gardening department and then gives you the exact shelf location. But of course they are liars and there wasn’t single one of these pots anywhere in that store or in the next one that I went to because of the same deception. At the third store where the website says “quantities are limited”, I found 14 of them.

I must tell you that it is absolutely wearisome to be a consumer of goods in this day and age.


Compelling Update to My Weekend Activities

First I went to Christmas Tree Shops to feed my spring fever. Came out with:

  • A green and blue swirly 10″ gazing ball to replace the one that I failed to take inside for the winter and which subsequently exploded from the  deep freeze situation out there.
  • An outdoor flag of spring flowers and a watering can, complete with dangling fabric strips meant to simulate streams of water. I am a sucker for watering cans on a garden flag.
  • A little flower pot shaped like an owl because obviously.
  • A  red-handled mini-pruner that is graceful, delicate and so utterly tres petite to the extent that I will have to get a floppy hat and some floral-patterned clogs in order to feel right about using it.

ssgaResisted the urge to buy:

  • $10 deodorizing pet wipes. Eve though I have one of those grind upside down in the stink kind of dogs and was highly motivated to purchase these,  their worth is suspect to me. The ingredients list had only fibrous tissue, water, cleanser listed.  Sounds like I get the same benefit by squirting diluted dog shampoo onto a damp rag.
  • Solar spying garden animals. Actually they had a ton of solar spying gnomes of various sizes. I want to like gnomes but I just don’t.

In the category of non-shopping, my other weekend accomplishments were:

  • filling 3 boxes with clothes, books and random items like handbags, jewelry boxes etc for a charity pickup
  • napping

In other news, I find my self seriously fretting about those plastic covers for baby strollers. I mentioned before how use of this product might lead to a generation of neurotic claustrophobes, but I realize that there might be another danger here. The weather was clear and sunny but still chilly and windy so in the most downtown-ish of my travels, there were plenty of parents pushing plastic encased strollers. The sun was beating down on the plastic making little rolling greenhouses out of the baby passenger area. Wasn’t overheating determined to be implicated in SIDS deaths? Here was have a population of helpless beings in coats, gloves, hats and plastic covers under the sun. Something bad is going to happen. In fact, I bet it already has. I am going to write to Kathleen Sebelius and suggest that this is an emerging hazardous trend and that HHS should start tracking this and issuing public alerts. Because I don’t have enough of my own business to mind.

Process Evolution

Here’s where I’m at: I just bought a new food processor. It’s a discontinued model.

If it was 50 years ago, I’d probably be writing letters to the newspaper editor or getting dressed up as a lemon to picket a used car dealership*but since I am thoroughly modern, I take to the internet to spread my opinion,  look for agreement and influence others because I am definitely in dang this new fangled gadgetry mode. We do still have a letters to the editor feature in the free newspaper that gets thrown in our driveway once a week, although most of the letters are about things like volunteer litter pick-up brigades or from aging Springsteen fans complimenting his performances.


I decided on a Cuisinart DLC – 8S**. And the thing that decided me was the simple big ass buttons. The DLC-*C has been replaced by the FP-12. It’s been replaced by a something with those slippery electronic contact pads and you know what? I do not have faith in their long-term viability nor in their repairability.***


When we got married, we received a GE food processor/blender combo like the one in the picture above. It lasted a good long while and I don’t really remember why or how it went bad but we replaced it with the same model from my mother’s house only hers was years older. This is what we’re still using today, except for the loss of the blender part that cracked. Tomorrow we’ll be using the 2003 Cuisinart.

I don’t know. Maybe we didn’t even really need a new processor. The old one is still grinding away, although with a tiny bit of leaking from the bottom of the bowl and a considerable amount of …um,  let’s call it “evidence of use” between the little ass buttons which will probably never be able to removed at this point even with a chisel. eBay is full of these old GEs and there are even individual parts that you can buy so I guess there’s a fairly significant vintage food processor market going on. I told Sami about the eBay thing and he got all excited and said “Maybe I should some parts there!” so I’m thinking that portends he is not actually planning to get rid of the old beige beast.

*True story. Best friend’s mother. She won her case.

**Not sure when this went into production but it came with a manual printed in 2003.

*** The touch pads are not the only reason I didn’t buy this one – the bowls reverted back from BPA-free**** plastic on the model I have to BPA-laden on this new one. Stealth reversion. V sneaky, Cuisinart.

**** I am not really the type to worry about this kind of thing but now all these damn VEGANS are in my head and this is the kind of stuff that they are always going on about.

Work ~ Intermission ~ Back To Work

Just a quick update in between workplace crises:

Product endorsement: Prepara Gourmet Cruet Set with Chrome Carrier.  I suppose this is technically a gadget endorsement.

61O92nb9-QL._SL1160_We keep a small oil cruet on the counter for quick dashes into saute pans or salads or to dribble into things like pesto and  hummus. It has not been a smooth relationship with our current cruet to say the least.  No amount of careful use or preventive measure could stop the dribbling down the side of the container. The most livable solution we came up with is frequent emptying of the vessel, using a pin to remove the caked-in oil from between the ridges and using an inverted pickle jar lid lined with napkins to contain the mess. Never was there an encounter that wasn’t icky, save the first sad use after a trip through the dishwasher, knowing that as soon as the oil starts flowing the problem returns.

But this pair of cruets sent that problem right down the memory hole. The crazy little two-layer spout design makes these 100% drip proof. The set seems pricey at first glance, especially compared to our previous dollar store bottle,  but this is a clear case of you get what you pay for. Amazon had the best price I found plus free shipping with Amazon Prime .

81JAo5Rii2L._SL1500_Very highly recommended! Don’t know who Prepara is, where they came from or how long they’ve been around but if all of their products give this much satisfaction I might have to order their ice balls,  too.

VB6 update: going very well! Just got done tucking into a salad as big as Jethro Bodine’s cereal bowl for lunch. I just hope that next year there’s no federal report issued that says chick peas are bad for you. I’ve become quite dependent on them.

Love Affair Then And Now

THEN When I was still doing direct patient care, one particularly grateful person gifted me with a basic  OXO peeler. It might seem a strange choice – most patient gifts to nurses are a box of Russel Stovers or maybe a crystal vase or candy dish at Xmas time – but this woman was all about home and family and we’d had some casual kitchen-oriented discussions during our time together.

This peeler is one of the best things I’ve ever owned. She gave it to me somewhere around 1999 or 2000. We’ve given it quite a workout between then and now. It’s remarkably comfortable and well worth the ~$7 it cost at the time when basic metal peelers cost less than $2. I just used it yesterday to peel some carrots and cucumbers and it is as sharp as it was the first time I used it.

The same peeler, design unchanged, is still being sold for $9. It’s the leader in a collection of specialty peelers that OXO makes now. I can’t vouch for the durability or longevity of the modern peelers – it doesn’t make business sense to create an item that never needs replacing – but I fully expect to go to my grave with my original OXO swivel peeler still in use.

NOW We’re very much into hard boiled eggs in this house. For most of our years as a family, we’ve depended on the basic white plastic egg slicer that you’d find hanging in a blister pack at the end of a supermarket aisle. We’d use them until and long after a wire would break or go wobbly, making for some interesting and annoying sliced eggs. We’d replace as needed with another of the same.

This last one served us until it had 3 missing wires. At about the same time, I became aware that OXO made and egg slicer but it was big and unweildly and cost $15.00. (You’d think  I would have learned something from The Lesson OF The Peeler, wouldn’t you?) In the meantime, Sami was thinking along the same upgrade lines and one day came home with a red KitchenAid egg slicer. He used it once and declared that Kitchenaid should get out of the egg slicer business. I never used it. We devolved into using paring knife to hand slice eggs because he could not bring himself to use the bad slicer and I could not bring myself to spend $15.00 on a new one.

Lo and behold, Father’s Day rolled around this year and Sami received an OXO egg slicer and I tell you it changed our lives. The egg slicing part of our lives, anyway. This thing is a machine:



This thing is a true marvel. Check out the video here.  Still big, still $15.00 but a master’s tool.

Between the earliest and the latest OXO gadget, I’ve accumulated many more – a jar opener, tongs, a whisk, meat ball scoops – and they never disappoint.  Sam Farber died over the weekend. His NYT obituary features a picture of the basic peeler. He died without knowing how much pleasure I’ve gotten from that little peeler, to say nothing of the years of service.

“It’s hard to think of a vegetable peeler as radical,” Mr. Farber told The Los Angeles Times in 2000. “But I guess it was.”



So blah blah rain / stupid creek project / flooded basement and my son went downstairs to clear out junk to prepare for another yet ill-conceived solution from the creek project “engineer”. This one involves involves cutting the concrete basement floor. But this is not another kvetch – this is a moment of great excitement.

Great breathless excitement.

I’m not one to talk about the internet search terms that bring people to my blog but I’ll tell you now that from the moment I started blogging about them in early 2010, “Dixon- Ticonderoga Executive Mechanical Pencil” is the #1 search term. I’ve gotten visits every single day because of it.

I can’t tell you how many mechanical pencils I’ve tried since discovering this one. None suit! I did recently buy a 2-pack of 0.9 mm Office Depot pencils and while they are unlovely, I am appreciating the 0.9 lead size. So back to the basement clean-up – put on your cartoon eyes so that you can bulge them in and out while saying gnong gnong gnong as you gaze upon this:


Can you even breathe? I can’t ! I cannot even breathe.

I don’t even know what I want to say next about this. Are you seeing that from the sky basement dropped not just one but two Dixon-Ticonderoga Executive Mechanical Pencils? And that one of them has a 0.9mm lead? I didn’t even know they made that.

I am going to make a concerted effort to locate my 2013 Daily Planner -which I abandoned in March, as is my usual behavior – and use one of these to write in it. Every day. I swear this time.

Shopping Tip Of The Day

I’ve been carrying around an Urban Expressions “Sandra” wallet in Kelly Green for about three years. I say wallet because that’s what they call it but it’s really a self-contained universe all on its own. It’s got two open-wide kisslock sections, a deep zippered pocket and some easy access card slots – that’s a lot of storage for the average purse, let alone wallet.  I do put it in a big purse or a laptop bag as the situation calls for, but I most often carry it alone into stores or out to dinner. It makes a quite a sensation when you slap it down on the bar at Martini Night.

I love this thing so much that I’m sharing my Shopping Tip Of The Day with you. It regularly retails for $35 – 40 but Shoemall has it now in gold metallic and black patent finishes for $14.00 plus 20% off and free shipping.  That’s $11.99 for a $40 item. And when you consider that this is a knock off of a combination of Hobo’s Lauren and dear departed Laurette  wallets which go for $110 – 160+, just think of the savings.


Here is my own (I should say “old” because I just bought the gold one from Shoemall) rather lumpy but überfunctional wallet, shown both packed and unpacked:


On one side, I keep my money, my phone and my earbuds. On the other – and this is what makes this wallet so fabulous – I carry:

  • a baggie full of antibacterial handwipes, bandaids, safety pins and a Tide Pen
  • my rarely worn but sometimes necessary  clip-on name badge
  • whatever jewelry I take off while I’m on the road
  • a random key to something
  • an ink pen
  • a comb
  • a folding mirror
  • a pill box
  • an emery board
  • 2 lipsticks
  • my good luck hope the plane doesn’t crash Padre Pio keychain
  • a magnifier
  • a small note pad

When the wallet lies open, there are the usual credit and insurance cards and driver’s lisence. I keep receipts and some extra folding money in the zippered part. Really, it’s miracle of function and design.