URBAN GARDEN REPORT

Summer is definitely not wanting to leave anytime soon (not that it every REALLY does in So.CA).   The season is giving its last hurrah and blanketing the southland with customary heat and not-so-familiar humidity.  

Over the past few days we’ve had a drastic change from unseasonably cool last weeks in August to 100 plus temps in the valleys. We couldn’t have hoped to escape summer without a couple days of heat topping the century mark.

One positive side of the heat is that the fall tomato plants are happily soaking it all up. There are already a few tomatoes ready to harvest and lots of small green ones covering the bush. We anticipate eating them throughout September.

Other tasty veggies from the garden that are being harvested are peppers (lots!), avocados (yum!) eggplant and a few cucumbers growing here and there…

Sikkim Cucumber

FUNKY CUKES

There’s a  new and “strange” veggie growing in the garden this year called the sikkim cucumber. The seeds were purchased from one of our favorite catalogs:Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

It looks completely different on the outside, but the inside of this cuke is similar to a regular ol’ green one. We can personally testify that it tastes the same too as we made a deliciouscold cucumber soup with them (substituting chicken broth with veggie broth). On a hot day, nothing hits the spot quite like cool cucumber soup.

                   Bananas                               Papaya                       Yellow Guavas

TROPICAL TREATS

The banana that bloomed earlier has a whole stalk of fruit not yet ripe while another banana is just beginning to bloom. The papaya hangs heavy with gray-green fruit and the yellow guava is loaded with small tasty treats which we’ve been harvesting.

Surrounded by all these tropical fruits starting to ripen and with the slight dose of humidity today, we’re beginning to feel as though we’re in a tropical jungle — yeah, mon!

News flash….. while writing this entry the dark clouds that has given us a respite from the brutal sun have also brought with it some rain…. nice the hear that sound once again and smell the musty smell of concrete and dirt.

GARDENLAB EXPERIMENT

On Tuesday it was opening day of the six week longgardenLAb experimentgoing on at the Art Center College of Design, south campus.

Thanks to a dear friendJBB,who helped with setting up our booth and shared her tips and suggestions as well as providing a few props and displays for our exhibit. We appreciate it (and you)!

The curators would like to see the wind tunnel and the experiment become a living,breathing, active, energetic public social gathering space for these 6 weeks.

KINGS OF THE JUNGLE GARDEN

Praying manti can be found everywhere these days in the garden. They’ve found a permanent home here on the urban homestead along with the lady bugs, bees, butterflies and a variety of birds. And it appears as though the good bugs have won the battle over the bad ones in their fight for middle earth…. er, the garden, I mean.

(Sorry! It just slipped in –LOTR: The Two Towers was this week’s movie rental! 🙂 )

CAR TROUBLES…. continue and get worse and worse and worse

Cracked starter mount                  Patched radiator                    Missing screw

Yes, our car has been back home a week now, since late last Thursday night. We were happy to have it back and despite the harsh set-back in our bank account, we expected to move on in our life and to the other ideas, projects, and dreams that we are planning for.

Unfortunately, fate has other ideas.

The car is NOT fixed, it isn’t even normal — it was returned to us in unusable condition. Instead of just a broken piston, we have a broken car.

When Jules and JC rode up to Hanford Thursday to retrieve the suburban after the car repair shop said it was ready, it was late and they were exhausted (after 3 + hours of driving in the heat) and did the best they could to look over the engine to see if there was anything amiss to report. Without actually getting down under the car and inspecting every square inch, they figured everything was fine — other than that there was 190+ more miles on the car than when it was left there. Apparently, someone took it for a test drive (or, more likely, a joyride) for … 160+ miles???   What’s up with that?

On the drive home, the gauges on the car indicated the engine was running hot but we were reassured on the phone that it was just a new engine and needed to be “broken in.”

We found dirty and greasy fingerprints all on the interior of the car, a scratch on the glass front of the CD player, and few new nicks and dents in the paint of the suburban but were just relieved to have the car back.

However, the car continued to run hot on short trips just less than a mile from home (215-220 degrees with no air-conditioning on! — our old 6.2L engine ran 160 around town and 180 on the 500+ mile trip to SolFest) and the engine seemed to rattle.

Upon inspecting under the hood, it was found out that the thermostat gasket leaks as they took out a perfectly good $50 thermostat and replaced it with a cheapo $10 one (we want our old one back!), and there are missing screws/nuts/bolts and so forth. The banks turbo on engine was loose and so was the radiator.

The problems would get progressively worse.

On Monday night, while trying to move the car up the driveway for the night, the engine wouldn’t turn over and sputtered.   Finally, it worked and we got it up the driveway.

On Tuesday, the car wouldn’t start again and we needed a jump start to make it downtown for the gardenLAb opening. Three hours later, when we were ready to leave, the engine wouldn’t start and we were stuck in the parking lot.   Again, it eventually worked and we got home.

We tested the batteries and found them to be okay.

The latest problems we found to the car was that the radiator was badly damaged and they put a welding compound to patch up the holes – no wonder the water temps were hot!

With all that and especially with seeing that screws, brackets and bolts were missing, we can’t help but wonder what else might they have done/not done and that we haven’t seen yet. Wouldn’t you think that if they are putting an engine into a car and they found “leftover” pieces, that they would put them on???

Then, surprise! With even further inspection, a huge crack was found where the starter motor mounts to the car because they forgot the bracket to hold the heavy diesel starter in place!!!!!.

Wonder if they’ll be any more surprises? I guess they knew they weren’t going to ever see us again since we are over 3 hours away one way.

This saga doesn’t and won’t end soon – what recourse do we have now that our car is in worse shape than a just a few weeks ago? This is really unbelievable!

We were on the phone all day and eventually took it to a local Chevy dealer who is, of course, charging more $$$ to fix the mess. Oh, and that particular mechanic’s comments and opinions were, for that matter, a load of horse manure — but save that episode for another post.

We hope/insist that the dealer that worked on the car in Hanford will (has to!!!!!!) compensate us for their crappy job.

We are lividly upset that we brought in a good car (with just a broken piston) and have come out with an absolute piece of junk that doesn’t even start…. what the heck did they do to our car???????

So, we’re having to rent another car again …..

A horse and buggy are looking good right about now.

In the meantime, the seasons are changing and so will our lives ….

Weather Report: Humid

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