Friday, March 24, 2006

Potatoes, tabby, and a disappointing biophysicist

First thing this morning Boss B handed me some printouts on growing potatoes. It became my job today to get all the potatoes ready to go in the ground. I had no idea that unlike planting where you stick a seed in the ground, with potatoes you actually stick the potato in the ground and it grows new potatoes. What I learned from the printouts was this: When preparing tubers (new word for me--it means potatoes) for planting, cut ones that are smaller than a hen's egg (approx. 1-3 ounces) into sections with two or more eyes. To prevent bacteria and scabbing, toss the slices in a bag with a tablespoon of sulphur.

So Boss B sent me to the farm supply store and I got a bag of garden sulphur. FYI, garden sulphur doesn't smell like rotten eggs--it doesn't have any repulsive smell actually. Then I spent the next hour sitting on the back patio with in my authentic Gray Lawn Care sweatshirt, jeans, and sunglasses, with my iPod on, cutting potatoes in little pieces and tossing them in sulphur. We had to grind the pellets of garden sulphur up--and when Boss B couldn't find her mortar and pestle, and slamming a hammer into a Ziploc full of the pellets didn't work, she decided the best solution would be to grind them in a coffee grinder. It worked. (Photo: Helper B planting the potatoes)

Then I get the news I hoped I'd never hear...

I had to go to DC, and worse still, to The Parking Lot From Hell (TPLFH).

It got even worse, if that can be imagined. I had to go to Fairfax to get some paint stripper from Virginia Chemical, and somehow I got off on the wrong exit at Fairfax and all my directions suddenly became worthless and both Boss B and the man at Virginia Chemical kept telling me directions and everybody was wrong and I was about to drive the Suburban into a telephone pole. Finally I found it, with no thanks to the useless directions. If I found it I give myself all the credit for very geniously and intuitively finding my way and stumbling upon it.

The trip's saving grace: once I got into DC, I pulled into TPLFH but just as a teaser--(Foiled again, foul lot!)--I simply called Bill at EEOB and drove around the block while he came to meet me with a cart. Then I sped off, starving and within about 50 feet of 15 about different restaurants, but not willing to spend one more moment in DC than absolutely necessary.

When I got back it was time to burn oyster shells and make our tabby. (Tabby is an ancient form of mortar with big chunks of oyster shell in it, and Boss A was asked to make a replica of a tabby from a plantation in Sapelo Island in Georgia so that accurate historical repairs can be made.) Boss A said that burning oyster shells for lime was stopped about 100 years ago so I'm probably one of only a handfull of people alive who have seen this done. It didn't make a very good lime putty unfortunately, so Helper A thought he was a failure since he had done all the work authentically, down to chopping the wood for the fire. I told him the value was educational, not tangible.

I should add that Helper A is from a very small town in North Carolina. Today when we were at the oyster shell fire, he said it reminded him of when they used to burn chickens. I said, "WHAT?" and he explained that on his farm they had a big incinerator (he later referred to it simply as the "chicken burner"). they'd toss the chicken carcasses in, and when it was done all that was left was a big pile of really white bones.

To completely shift gears, tonight I went to Baltimore to see some bands: The M's and Dr. Dog, the latter of which was completely awesome although one of the singers had a condition that I like to call EBS (Ex Boyfriend Syndrome). A person has EBS if something about them--be it physical looks, guitar-playing style, etc--overwhelmingly reminds me of an Ex-Boyfriend and the effect is that I probably will have some trouble being impartial in respect to them. It is a rather unfortunate thing for a person to have EBS, but sadly it can't be avoided and there's nothing you can do about it.

Anyway at the show I had a somewhat lengthy and gratifying conversation with a really nice biophysics grad student at Johns Hopkins, but either he had a girlfriend or he had a common form of too-much-science-induced-nerdism and didn't know how to seal the deal with me. Anyway I told him I was gonna take off, we shook hands and said the nice-to-meet-yous, and that was it. Some things aren't meant to be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

two things:
1. sapelo island has a special place in my heart--it was the birth of HONS 2070 camaraderie at UGA
2.the M's were just on WOXY!


2 weeks till visit

8:28 AM  

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