I Used To Be Like That But Now I’m Like This.

…and not dead.

My body is fighting off two different infections, so there won’t be a new Doclopedia post. Instead, here is the post from this date 10 years ago.



Uncle Doc’s Gardening Tips

1: PLANT A VEGGIE GARDEN! In these tough economic times, why the hell are you paying $3.00 for a tomato? All the cool kids are starting Victory Gardens and you should, too! Yes, you do have room! Many veggies grow very well in pots or hanging planters.

2: Herbs will grow in all but the most terrible of soils. You can plant several herbs in a relatively small space.

3: When planting snap beans, plant the purple podded varieties. You can see them much easier among the plants foliage and thus will not miss any come picking time.

4: Cantaloupes, squash and the smaller pumpkins/watermelons will grow just fine on a trellis. This will save you many square yards of ground space.

5: Mulch, mulch, mulch! Yes, even when growing in pots.

6: Heirloom (non-hybrid) veggies generally taste WAY better than hybrid varieties, but may not have as good a resistance to disease. Heirlooms also generally produce less. In the case of heirloom tomatoes, they can look rather ugly, but I promise you, the taste will more than make up for it.

7: You only need 1 (ONE) zucchini plant! Trust me on this.

8: Newspaper makes great mulch. Just make sure you layer it 6-8 sheets deep.

9: Straw makes a good mulch only if there are NO WEED SEEDS in it. If you can get rice straw, get it. No seeds and is lasts a long time.

10: DON’T OVER WATER OR OVER FERTILIZE! Let the soil almost dry out before watering. As for fertilizer, mix some chicken or steer manure (say, 4 cups) with 5 gallons of water and let it sit for a day, stirring a few times. After that, use this manure tea to water your plants once every week.

My garden this year (2009) is a “modified square foot garden” that uses 12 X 12 X 12 inch plastic milk crates lined with a good plastic trash bag (with holes in the bottom for drainage) and filled with potting soil mixed 50/50 with good compost. I’ll be growing…

Tomatoes: 6-8 plants of 5-6 varieties

Spinach: Until the hot weather hits

Zuchinni: 1 plant

Cucumbers: 1 plant

Snap Beans, bush type: 14-18 plants

Italian Snap Beans, bush type: 6-8 plants

Pole Beans: 4 plants (these vines are going to provide green beans just for Winker, who loves ’em)

Cantalopes: 2 vines, 1 variety (Ambrosia)

Watermelons: 2 vines, 1 variety (Moon & Stars)

Chile Peppers: 8-10 plants, 6-8 varieties (Bells, Jalapenos, Anchos, New Mexicos,
Habaneros, Cayennes)

Winter Squash: 4 vines, 2 varieties (Butternut, Acorn)

Herbs (including the ones I have now): Sage, Cilantro/Coriander, Thai Basil, Genovese Basil, Lemon Basil, Chives, Garlic, French Tarragon, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Common Thyme, Dill, Fennel, Summer Savory, Marjoram, Chocolate Mint, Spearmint, Common Oregano, Greek Oregano, Lemon Grass, Lemon Verbena, Stevia, Bay Laurel (a 15 foot tall tree) and Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Potatoes (grown in a mound, not a box): 2-3 plants, 1 variety (Yukon Gold)

Corn: 32 plants, 2 varieties (Gold Queen, Silver Queen) (all 32 plants will grow in 2 square feet)

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but you get the idea.


Liquid Metal Laser Cats

…because regular Laser Cats aren’t strange enough

The Doclopedia #982

 It Came From The Garden!: Garfoon, The Living Bean Vine      Genre: Science Fiction, Humor

For three million years, the tiny meteorite that held the consciousness of Garfoon, Master of Worlds, lay just a few inches under the soil that would one day become Herbie Foble’s vegetable garden. Then, one night in early spring, lightning struck nearby and the jolt freed Garfoon. Quickly entering the nearest living thing, a two foot tall “Kentucky Wonder” green bean vine, Garfoon caused it to grow at a rapid rate. When Herbie checked his garden the next morning, he had just enough time to think “Wow, that bean vine is really growing!” before Garfoon wrapped around him and ate him.

Soon, after eating several dozen other folks and a few stray dogs & cats, Garfoon was 90 feet tall and laying waste to the town. Bullets had no effect on the creature, nor did fire or explosives. Every time he was attacked, he would just laugh and say that soon he would rule our tiny planet. By the time the Air Force started trying to bomb him, he was 400 feet tall and seemingly unstoppable.

Then, Garfoon heard that the military was developing an anti-matter ray out on Catalina Island. Knowing that anti-matter just might kill him, he hurried to California and then started wading into the ocean towards Catalina.

When he was about two miles out Garfoon began to feel strange. The salt water was quickly killing his vegetable form! Soon, roaring in agony, Garfoon died, unaware of the clever ruse that the military had used to lure him to his death.




The Doclopedia #983

It Came From The Garden!: The Haunted Rake      Genre: Fantasy, Humor

The old wizard lay dying. His apprentices made him as comfortable as possible, but at 863 years old, he had finally reached the end of his life. Calling his favorite apprentice to him, he started telling her how much he had enjoyed the twin delights of his life: magic and gardening. Asking if he might hold his favorite rake just one last time, the apprentice had it brought to him and he held it lovingly. Five minutes later, he was gone.

Time passed and the young apprentice became a Wizard in her own right. She, too, enjoyed gardening and often used the old rake, since it always seemed to be nearby when she needed it. After several centuries, she died, too.

Some time after her death, a plague caused the Wizard’s home and most of the nearby countryside to be abandoned, a state that persisted for over 50 years. When people did resettle the area, it was a young noble and his wife who moved into the Wizard’s home.

Unfortunately, both the noble and his wife were brainless twits who only cared about climbing the social ladder, They began “modernizing” the house and turning the admittedly overgrown landscape into a large lawn on which they could hold parties.

They were scarcely a month into renovations when several workmen complained that they had been struck about the head & shoulders by a rake that somebody had thrown at them. The nobleman gave everyone a stern talking to and then went about his business. The next day, he stepped on a rake…in his bed chambers!…and the handle few up and broke his nose! More stern talk were given and then everyone got back to working.

Two days later, at sundown as the workmen were getting ready to go home, the rake appeared again, but this time it was glowing an eerie blue color and howling like a banshee. It flew around whacking and scratching and poking people, including the nobleman, his wife and Count Zankowitz, who was their dinner guest. When the rake started shooting out lightning bolts, fireballs and fear spells, everyone got the hell off the estate at a fast run.

There were 38 attempts to get rid of the haunted rake over the next two years and not a one of them worked. Eventually, the estate was sold to a pair of young wizards who moved in and almost immediately put in a large vegetable garden. The haunted rake was never heard from again.




The Doclopedia #984

It Came From The Garden!: The Tomato Baby     Genre: Modern Fantasy

The Moon family was big, with six children, two dogs, two cats and a Scarlet Macaw named Jimmy. They lived in a nice house with a nice yard and a big vegetable garden out back. Their neighbors liked them and Mr. Moon would often cook up a bunch of Korean food and invite the neighborhood over.

One year, the littlest Moon, 4 year old Hannah, noticed that one tomato in the garden kind of looked like a baby. The rest of the family took a look and allowed as how yes, it did kind of look like a baby. Hannah dubbed it “The Tomato Baby” and went out to check on it every morning.

After about two weeks, the tomato really began to look like a baby! And it was a big tomato, maybe 5 pounds! The family was amazed and Mrs. Moon called the local television station, who came out to do a story on it. The neighbors thought it was pretty cool.

By the time another two weeks had passed, the Tomato Baby was bright red and weighed 20 pounds. When Hanna checked it one day, it had fallen off the vine and was crawling around and making baby noises! She told her family and they decided that, tomato or not, they couldn’t let a baby just crawl around the yard, so they brought it inside.

Once again, the television station ran a story and so did the newspapers. Soon, people where coming from far and wide to see the Tomato Baby. Science could not explain him (for the Tomato Baby was a male) and the church men didn’t know what to make of him, especially after he peed tomato juice down the front of Reverend Morgan. This didn’t bother the Moons, who were becoming very attached to the little guy, whom they named Buddy.

Eventually, things settled down and Buddy was pretty much treated like any baby, although he did pee tomato juice and poop tomato seeds. As the next few years went on, the Moons noticed that the color of Buddy’s skin was getting lighter and he was finally growing hair and before you know it, he was 4 years old and a real human child and Korean, just like the rest of the Moons. They had a big party to celebrate and the television people and the newspaper people and magazine people came to do stories. The science folks couldn’t explain it and the religious men had long since given up and the Moons and their neighbors didn’t care one way or the other. They all loved Buddy Moon, the Tomato Baby.


…relax, it’s just a nonsense word

Doc Update!

1: As announced earlier elsewhere, the doctor took the stitches out of my shoulder and told me I’ll be cleared to go back to work as soon as I feel up to it. Given that my arm is a bit weak from lack of use and still has a tiny bit of pain in the shoulder, I reckon I’ll be off work at least another week or two.

2: I finished reading “I Am Half-Sick Of Shadows”, the fourth Flavia de Luce novel by Alan Bradley. It was, as they all have been, a darned good read and a good mystery.

3: I’ve also finished Doc Savage: The Lost Radio Scripts of Lester Dent. It’s a pretty interesting read and look back at how radio scripts were written. Considering that pretty much each episode was a self contained story presented in 15 minutes, they are pretty good tales. It would be great if somebody could produce them again, probably for internet radio.

4: My Sweet Little Pork Tamale Of Love, Grace, is doing very well in her battle against diabetes. She has lowered her numbers significantly in the last month or so. GO GRACE!

5: Lucy and Sasha, AKA The Girls, are fit as canine fiddles and living the good life. Whoever thought that saying “a dog’s life” or “treated like a dog” was a bad thing?

6: I am still about 10 1/2 months and 364 entries away from my goal of 500 Doclopedia entries, but I’m chipping away at it. I’m more than halfway through my repat tackling of the alphabet and I have an idea of what the next couple of themes will be.

7: On another writing front, also mentioned elsewhere, I’m going along nicely on my rewrites of the previous four DogCon/CatCon fictional convention reports. The first one was rather short, so it’s getting some serious beefing up. The second and fourth are getting a smaller dose of love and the third, massive one, is getting only a minor polishing. Seeing as how those four will make up about 90 entries…AND I need to start the fifth one (which I’m writing in advance) by the end of July…I’ll start reposting them on the fiction blog about the end of March.

8:My veggie garden plans are not firmed up yet, but I’m just waiting for the rainy season to pass and then it’s on, baby!

And now, I have chores to to before writing, or my wife and dogs will beat me about the head and shoulders.

Handsome Joe Catches A Rabbit

…and has no idea what to do with it

Saturday In Review

Aside from starting the diet, today was pretty much a cockup as far as my plans went. First off, the only Home Depot that rents weed whackers rented them all out by the time I got there. That hosed my main gardening plans. I still did some yard work and transplanting, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Didn’t watch movies with Grace due to her being somewhat under the weather. The two filthy bitches are still dirty & stinky, but in a very cute and sweet manner. They will get washed tomorrow for sure.

I did grocery shopping and walked Lucy twice and I finished reading “World War Z”. I highly reccomend it to anybody not put off by the sometimes gory zombie subject matter.

I did no writing, but I do think today was more of a resting day than a writing day. Tomorrow should be more writing friendly.

I may not weed whack the yard until next weekend, since I have to take Grace to the doctor and a couple of other places. I will continue transplanting plants from pots to the driveway garden and I may just dig up a few plants from other garden spots and stick ’em in there for the winter.

Hmmm…I’m getting the urge both eat a snack (yogurt with blueberries) and do some editing/rewriting on older stuff.

I’m outta here. More bloggage soon.

Crazed Ichthyosaurs Terrorized My Sea Hares With Spotted Spurge

…I’ll wait while you google it

Chapter 777: In Which Your Humble Narrator Hits The Wall

Those of you who read my fiction blog will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything there for several days. On Facebook, my comments and posts have slowed to a trickle. It’s been three days since I did any rewriting or editing of anything.

The reasons for all of this are varied. Not sleeping enough or well…not eating properly…worrying about Grace and Winker and their health problems…pissed off that my weight has gone up again…headaches…etc, etc.

I’ve mentioned recently that I’m taking Monday & Tuesday off this coming week to have another little staycation. The way things are shaping up, it should go a long way towards getting me back on the writing path, as well as get me on the diet path. Generally speaking, it’s looking like this will be my schedule…

Saturday: Start strict diet and walking schedule…rent weed whacker and lay waste to my weedy foes all over my property…wash filthy bitches…watch movies with my sweetie

Sunday: Sleep in…walk a mile or two…go shopping with Grace…apply organic herbacides to the remnants of my weedy foes…relax & write…cook & clean…relax some more

Monday: Sleep in…walk…write…clean house…walk…write…cook…relax

Tuesday: Same as Monday, except for a short break for my regular UVB treatment

My goals for this 4 day weekend are: Get the yards ready for some Serious Renovation…Get back in the habit of walking (both on the treadmill and on the road)… Get back to eating right…Catch up on sleep…Resume writing and get at least a week ahead on Doclopedia posts and fiction posts.

We shall see on Wednesday morning how well I did.

The Horticultural Whore Returns From The Dead

…or at least dormancy

It has been a damned long time since I did one of these garden updates, so here goes.

For the last year or two, my garden has been overrun by weeds. This has not changed, but it will next week when I rent a weed whacker and lay waste to my vegetable foes. After that comes various other attacks meant to bitchslap the weeds to death or at least submission.

Anyway, weeds and a bunch of compost from my various compost piles was why I built a garden on the upper half of my driveway. I figured there was already an herb bed on one half of it, so why not plant my veggies…and many dozens of irises and gladiolus…right there in the bigass pile of rich compost. So I did.

And then Northern California had spring, spring, spring, summer, spring, spring, summer as a growing season. Unless you are a vegetable gardener, you have no idea how fucked up that is.

As a result, nothing produced much until September, when we had some hot weather and all of those green tomatoes that had been just sitting there on the vine for months got ripe all at once. Ditto my bell and italian peppers. Green beans only produced in dribs & drabs, so I’d pick 6 or 7 each day and use them as dog treats for the girls.

I got one cantalope, no watermelons, a couple of squash and that was that. A thoroughly disappointing harvest.

In a day or two, I’ll be planting spinach and lettuce for my winter garden. Barring an extended winter heat wave, which has happened a few times recently, we’ll at least have greens to eat between now and next spring.

By next spring, I hope to have permanent raised beds in place all over the property, which should allow for a large and varied garden that will be prety much weed free. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot of yummy food out of it.

If we don’t get screwed by the weather again.

Now, Doclopedia goodness!


The Doclopedia #381

 Showing You The Ropes: The Perfect Climbing Rope

 Welcome to my shop, good sir! If it is rope you need, please allow me to show you my wares. I’m sure we can find you exactly what you need.

 A rope for climbing? I shall assume we are speaking of climbing buildings, not mountains, since you have the look of a man who does not spend much time in the wilderness. What? Oh, yes sir, I am sure that you are the most law abiding person in all of the Empire, but even if you weren’t, it would matter not to me. I am merely a seller of ropes and other cordage. What people do with my products is out of my hands.

Now, why don’t we start off with the best of all my climbing ropes? If it should prove too expensive, we can move on to other choices. This, my most excellent customer, is the Perfect Climbing Rope. Oh yes, a boastful name indeed, but true as any words I’ve ever spoken.

 You see, at no small expense we have had several enchantments placed upon this top quality Arufkan hemp rope. First of all, notice the softness of it, not at all rough as hemp can often be. This not only saves wear and tear on the hands, but it makes the rope far less likely to snag. Go ahead, feel it. Soft as silk, eh?

 Now let us examine these darker markings that are so evenly spaced along the rope. When climbing has started, these areas swell up to the size of a plump orange, making truly excellent hand and footholds. No, no, they do not al swell up at once, only the ones that are needed at the moment. A most clever enchantment that, don’t you agree?

 Why, yes, most learned sir, the rope does possess the ability to tie and untie itself as the user commands. No doubt you have seen other, lesser ropes with the same ability being sold by purveyors of magical items. This, you must see, is a superior product.

 But let us get on to the other amazing properties of the rope. It can, at the bidding of the user, climb up walls or other surfaces to whatever spot is desired. Should a climber lose their grip and fall, it will grab them as the constricting snakes grab their prey, but gently and with only the intent of preventing injury or death. And finally, this amazing rope can reduce itself to a short length that can be worn as a belt or robe tie. Excellent for concealment, don’t you think?

 Best of all, we guarantee the quality and enchantments of this rope for a full ten years! Should it not live up to your expectations in any way during that time, we will replace it or refund your money in full.

 The price? Ah, well, such a wonderful item does not come cheaply. On the other hand, what is a mere 500 pataks when weighed against the potential rewards of many years of successful urban climbing?

The Doclopedia #382

Showing You The Ropes: The Unbreakable Rope

No, Ateena, I do not lie! The monster is vanquished and will never bother the surface world again. Your fears are as pointless as your attempts to antagonize me. But perhaps you would like to go down into the Deepest Dark and verify that I tell the truth? I’m sure my friends would join us for another trip to the lair of the Great Foulness, right girls? See, Ateena, they are up for it, so we could leave within the hour. What? Not necessary? Are you sure? Ah, I thought as much.

 What, Faleris? How did we bind the creature to his lair? Why, by actually binding him! No, I’m not jesting, we actually managed to tie him up with an ancient and very powerful magic rope. It was made 300 years ago for King Urrmok. Woven of giant spider silk and the hairs of a God, it was then enchanted many times over by the fourteen Cloud Mages of Dreerj. Finally, it was soaked in a mixture of many potions and allowed to dry out under the light of the triple moon. After that, it became 300 feet of unbreakable rope.

 No blade, no fire, no spell, no beast can part that rope. The cleverest of inventions will never fray it, nor will age or weather. That rope is wrapped tight around the creature in a configuration that barely allows him to breathe. The knots we tied were then cursed and will remain unbreakable for ten thousand years. I tell you, sisters, that creature is as imprisoned as it is possible for any mortal to bring about.

 And now, let us all down another mug of ale and give our thanks to King Urrmok and his unbreakable rope!

The Doclopedia #383

 Showing You The Ropes: The Smart Rope

 Good morning, 003. Have a seat and I’ll tell you all about the newest creation from Q branch: the Smart Rope. What’s that? “A new line of work”? Amusing, 003. I’m sure you can make it actually funny with some work.

 Now then, as you can see, it looks exactly like any 20 meter length of light cotton rope. But watch this…rope, slipknot! Fast, eh? 3.5 seconds, to be exact. Rope, untie. Ah, even faster!

Here’s another neat little trick: rope, execute move Delta Two! Heh heh, feeling a bit bound up, 003? I’ve often wondered how you’d look tied to a chair and gagged. Rather a pleasing picture, I must say. At any rate, while you were watching one end of the rope do that little knot trick, the rest of the rope was getting ready to strike. A little something I programmed into it earlier. You’ll find the rope quite easy to train, once we give it to you.

 What’s that, 003? I can’t understand you…oh, of course, the gag! Clever, that. You see, the nanites that are found all throughout the rope just swell up one portion of it to fill your moth. Rather a large portion, really, given the size of your mouth. Heh heh heh.

 Is that a frown crossing your manly brow? Oh, it must be because your concealed wrist knife isn’t cutting through the rope! Well, buck up, 003, it wouldn’t matter if you were using a chain saw. The rope repairs itself as fast as you can cut.

 Alright, rope, release him. There now, 003, wasn’t that a valuable learning experience? Now take the rope and head off to see M. I’ll call ahead to let him know your coming and to tell him I showed you the ropes. Heh heh heh. 

Doc Tempest And The Demon On The Radio

…from the December 1930 issue

And the weekend starts off poorly…

Broke a tooth off of my upper dental plate. I won’t be able to see the dentist for about a week, at which time I’ll get a whole new plate made, since I’m way overdue for one.

I’m about to head off for the Sacramento ASPCA Spring Book Sale, which lasts for 9 days and usually nets me some good reading.

Later on, it’s gardening time! I am seriously considering having a plant sale next weekend. I have a ton of extra plants that need new homes.

I’m outta here. More blogging later.