Archive for January, 2013

Growing culinary ginger

January 30th, 2013
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As my six regular readers may know, I like gardening. I don't have a big yard, so a lot of it is in pots, though I've recently done a few things: I've started digging into my once-beautifully designed front "yard" (by "yard" I mean postcard-sized spit of land near the mailbox) which the previous owners had landscaped with low-maintenance, tropical plants; I've started buying big pots to place around the dog's yard in an effort to keep the plants safe from her trampling or pooping on them; and I've started researching what plants work well with the microclimates in order to best maximize my limited yard space.

Fail: I didn't think Inca would dig in the pots. See footprints.

Fail: I didn't think Inca would dig in the pots. See footprints.

This has led me to succulents to plant under the eaves of the house - that thin strip of land that will, in the summer, get blazing sun and little water, and where previous efforts to plant my favorite things (herbs) has failed. So far, I'm not sure. It's rainy now, so two of those succulents have rotted and died.

I've also looked further into shade-loving plants, which has brought me to culinary ginger. I'm Chinese: I like useful things. I have awapuhi, and have intentions of dividing my dad's honeycomb ginger when I have time, but I'm really excited about culinary ginger. Imagine never having to buy it again!

After research online, I bought a hand from an organic grocery store (Down to Earth) and cut it into seven pieces, each piece with a little eye that should eventually grow a sprout. I read that organic ginger lacks growth-retardant, but for experimentation, I also cut a chunk of chain-grocery store ginger to see what happens. Though, I've forgotten which ginger came from which store. Duh!

I planted a few in pots and a few directly into the ground, on the shady side of the house.

I did this on Halloween. Ginger is very slow, because it took months for it to sprout, and not all have sprouted yet. I think they will, because I see their eyes having green growth buds.

I have actually forgotten where I put three of the rhizomes. I remember the general location but I can't find them anymore. Maybe one day they'll be these beautiful leaves that will call out to me where to find them. (There seems to be a lot of memory-loss in this blog!)

Meanwhile, here's a progress update:

In water: Foodland ginger. On right: organic ginger, cut and drying

In water: Foodland ginger. On right: organic ginger, cut and drying

Look for eye buds like this.

Look for eye buds like this.

Dry for a week till the cut scabs over, or rhizome will rot when you plant it.

Dry for a week till the cut scabs over, or rhizome will rot when you plant it.

Slow grow: this is 2 1/2 months later, and a small green shoot.

Slow grow: this is 2 1/2 months later, and a small green shoot.

Lyon Arboretum

January 28th, 2013
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Lyon Arboretum, tucked away at the end of Manoa Valley, is such a gem. I had never really explored the length of this 200 acre garden before, and I also haven't visited it for years.

Recently, a friend and I decided to take the entire self-guided tour, and what a treat that was. We got lost a little bit and started off-roading in the unmanicured rainforest, but overall, it was a well-spent two hours.

If you go, I strongly advise long pants/ long sleeves due to the heavy mosquitoes, a hat, sunglasses, hiking boots, water, and a snack. Treat this like a hike in the mountains; there aren't bathrooms at regular intervals.

Minutes from civilization but it feels like a world away: beautiful!

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Waterfall (without water today)

Waterfall (without water today)

This is haunted, according to the brochure!

This is haunted, according to the brochure!

After we worked up a huge appetite, we ate at Treetops Restaurant in the old Paradise Park. You would never know it's there because there's one really bad sign that just says "Parking for restaurant only" or something.

You'll know you're there because you'll see a bunch of people and cars, and another lot with a guy in a lawn chair sitting out front monitoring payments for parking. I think those people are going hiking at Manoa Falls. Drive the other way and you'll find Treetops. It's good food at at good price!

Hope you have a good half day doing this!

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Things that are funny: scenes from a mommy life

January 25th, 2013
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I came home one day after work to long faces. Without saying a word, Claus handed me a drawing. After studying it for a few seconds, it became clear to me that it was our family: Olivia with a long trail of tears, and Daddy with a mad face. Then he interpreted the artwork further. He pointed to his representation and said, "Mad eyes," and pointed to himself.

Daddy, Mommy, Olivia

Daddy, Mommy, Olivia

I get to be smiling because I was working while this altercation happened. Apparently, he took away her candy after she had disobeyed him.

Mad eyes. That's how she described the photo to him, of himself. Hilarious!

The perfect prescription

January 23rd, 2013
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The doctor was right. Having the house to myself for nearly a week while my husband and child went on vacation was really the perfect prescription for fatigue. I had gone in worried about myself because it seemed like an unusually long stretch of time that I'd been tired. The doctor said I probably just work too much.

By coincidence, Claus wanted to go skiing in December and was intent on going even if I didn't want to. It was fine with me. I didn't want to devote an extra ounce of energy to even packing a suitcase and flying on a plane, even if it meant having - in theory- fun once there. We used to have a fair amount of help but situations change, and now we go it alone with the exception of a babysitter for a couple of jujitsu nights every week.

So they were set to leave, and I was both sad and looking forward to some Me Time. I wasn't filling up my dance card for every available time slot. My goal was just to have some quiet time, and hold down the fort.

Olivia in ski school

Olivia in ski school

To my utter surprise, all my energy came back to me right away, the very next day, which was Saturday. It was like the pre-mommy me.

I did what I wanted all weekend, didn't worry about cooking people's meals, didn't worry about someone getting kidnapped/hurt/hit by a car, wasn't required to think a step or two ahead, took a nap, went out with friends if I wanted, went out with my dog if I wanted, stayed out way later than I normally would, and in general, just really relished the freedom.

Keeping me company

Keeping me company

It was like crack for my calendar. A massage for my brain. Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

I took a trip with Olivia and we left Claus behind, in 2010. He said he remembers having more energy, but not as extreme a reaction as I've had. I think women are usually the primary caregivers to the very young children, but even if it were an equal split, I still think women's brains function differently than men's. Our multi-core processors are constantly engaged, whereas I think men are simpler, more linear thinkers.

I don't know. I could be wrong. Maybe it's because Claus is in better physical shape than me and therefore can withstand the demands of parenting better than I.

I'm shocked at how much parenting takes out of me. I guessed at it, but I didn't know until now!

The work week flew by, maintaining the theme of severely enjoying doing things on my own time. I didn't have to drop someone off at school or daycare. I didn't have to try to leave work by 5 so I could adhere to the family routine, schedule, and obligations. I carried on like the person I was before I was married.

I did not expect this much fun. I think I had more fun than Claus, frankly. He was tired.

Don't get me wrong. I missed them. It wasn't one emotion or the other; it was both. I missed them but I liked visiting with - as my friend Paul puts it - Fun Diane. It's been a long, long time. Five, six years?

Here's the thing. I think there's good and bad in every situation, and the key is to have balance. I wouldn't want to be single again. I wouldn't want to not have Olivia in my life, either.

I like my life. I also liked the week off because I knew it was a short-term deal, and that I'd soon resume my regularly scheduled programming - even if it wears me out. I enjoy raising my child, and I accept that the price of admission is lots of time and energy. I try to be in this moment as fully as I can because nothing lasts forever.

Although... I wouldn't object to another Daddy/Daughter trip in a year from now. Fun Diane wants to come out to play more than once every five years.

Have you experienced this?

Cough syrup for kids

January 21st, 2013
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What do you give your children when they have a sore throat or a cough? I recently had to take Olivia in to the pediatrician for a lingering cough. Because it had developed mid-week and was still around after a long holiday weekend, I had given in to buying her over-the-counter cough medicine.

Her doctor told me to ditch the medicine and just feed Olivia warm water or warm milk with a minimum of one tablespoon of honey, and a maximum of as much honey as my daughter can tolerate (some kids don't like it too sweet). Add some ginger if they'll accept that, too.

She said it's been a trend over the past few years to treat children with this all-natural remedy, because honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties, and you can't overdose on it so it's safe.

The Journal of American Medical Association reports about trials testing the effectiveness of honey versus honey-flavored dextromethorphan (DM) in a 2007 issue: "Results:  Significant differences in symptom improvement were detected between treatment groups, with honey consistently scoring the best and no treatment scoring the worst. In paired comparisons, honey was significantly superior to no treatment for cough frequency and the combined score, but DM was not better than no treatment for any outcome. Comparison of honey with DM revealed no significant differences."

Having shared this piece of organic advice, I'd like to clarify that I'm not a medical professional and you should check with your doctor before starting a course of treatment for your child.