The Vault & Real Life: Status Report

This will be a quick entry whith not a lot of VDO-related content so hang in there or read something else.

Yes the Vault’s author is alive and well and still collecting. I am doing okay but have had other offline priorities to see to hence the lack of postings here.

The biggest one of which has been following Mother Nature’s schedule and getting a vegetable garden in out here in the Shenandoah Valley (which historians refer to as ‘the breadbasket of the Confederacy). This garden is something of a legacy, recently inherited by me and as passionate as I am about my collecting, I am also driven to make this garden successful this season (in a future post I will go into why a silly little patch of ground and the plants that have been placed in it *really matter* to me).

The gardening has been good for me in a lot of ways. On a totally superficial level, it has allowed me to lose some of the weight a lot of us overfed and pampered Americans are carrying around (close to 30 pounds and yes I could stand to lose some more for appearance’s sake as well as for health’s sake) – I get both excellent exercise and better food for my efforts.

I also have learned a lot attempting to do things differently this year. I ditched conventional row plantings for a combination of raised beds that are laid out according to Mel Bartholomew’s square foot method. Once the ground was tilled by a neighboring farmer, I built everyone of my beds myself by hand. I spent hours paying attention to its layout, being careful to practice succession planting (ie not planting the same things in the same place to avoid disease and pest problems), companion planting (planting things that get along together near each other), interplanting (planting fast growing things with slow growing things) and I’m even getting ready to start a second batch of seedlings for plants that are capable of producing spring and fall crops. Honestly I think the invasion of Europe on D-Day didn’t require as much deep thought as went into this venture into gardening.

Once the plans were made, the work of seed selection, plant selection, and planting came along. I have always grown some odd things, but this year exotica rules — celery, tomatillos, 3 different kinds of broccoli, plus a plant called ‘broccoli raab’ or ‘rapini’ or ‘turnip broccoli’, shallots, green onions, two different kinds of edible pod peas and even edamame (Japanese edible green soybeans) are but a few additions to the usual varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatos, pimentos, Italian frying peppers, Thai and Hispanic hot peppers, red and gold potatos, bicolor corn, and Romano pole green beans as well as Blue Lake bush beans not to mention legacy crops of asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, a boysenberry bush and 3 dwarf blueberry bushes that this year have seen fit to produce their first fruit. There is much much more than this out in that piece of ground (and much much more will be planted over the season).

Finally once you put all this stuff in place, there is watering and weeding and organic pest control and feeding to be done to give the plants a good healthy head start so I’m sure you can imagine just how busy I’ve been with that. I do a lot of careful hand watering (it helps starve the weeds), I either pull weeds by hand or hack them out with a scuffle hoe (a stirrup shaped hoe so named because you vigorously scrub the weed infested ground to rub out the weeds rather than hacking at the ground with a conventional bladed hoe and despite my description it really is less work to use a scuffle hoe, especially in ground that is full of rocks of all sizes). I pay careful attention to pest treatments that are toxic only to the pests in question (milky spore dust for Japanese beetles, rotenone for Colorado potato beetles and flea beetles, a mix of ordinary cayenne pepper and flour for a lot of other nuisances) while adding folky supplements from days gone by as recommended by Jerry Baker (and yes they really work).

So you get a feel for what I’ve been doing with a lot of my time. But that’s not all I’ve been up to…not hardly.

By getting down in the basement to straighten it up, I have been physically organizing my collection of VDO-related things, separating duplicates and lesser examples from what I want to focus on posting online and what I want to focus on acquiring next. I am in the process of creating computerized inventories of all the various classes of items I have collected and will be better able to add more photos and examples in an organized fashion to the various online sites I maintain. It is far easier to do this once I have gotten myself and the stuff I have on hand organized and I’m 95%+ of the way there finally.

I have also been reading and investigating some areas that interest me and I think may interest VDO fans generally (like who owns the rights to ‘Guy’ anyway and why the heck isn’t it on DVD already?). I have made a few more contacts with people ‘in the business’ and been learning from them directly rather than relying on so many secondary sources like the magazine articles most fans read — their dearth of information is no longer frustrating my efforts to put VDO’s career into a really long term broad perspective.

So I’m still here…not scared off by the likes of ‘fangurls’ or deathly ill or anything worthy of huge gossip. I’m just attending to a very full life of which my collecting is but one part. The collecting is a big part of it but it’s not the only thing I have to keep me going.

So enough said on that point. I’ll post whenever I have something to say, whenever I feel I’ve accomplished or learned something, or whenever I have something I want to show off or share (and you can decide for yourselves what you think of what I put online).

Remember: “my blog, my rules” ;-) I encourage you to go elsewhere if you don’t care for it, to look to other sites if you need a constant stream of news, especially if you’re into keeping up with the latest (The Reel Vincent D’Onofrio is a good choice for this, because I like to be non-linear and historical and a little iconoclastic in my thinking and don’t feel pressured to constantly stay current — I catch up with what he does in fits and starts).

On to other things… :)