September 2009

We are home from the Ohio Gourd Show with a van stuffed full of gourds, 158 5-6″ scrubbed martin house gourds in cargo bags on the roof racks, and a U-Haul trailer stuffed with bigger gourds that mostly came from a preorder we placed with Bayou Gourds from Louisiana that we picked up at the show. Counting the little spinners that fit about 1,000 in a bushel, we brought home a couple thousand gourds all told.

Vidya scoured the show early the first morning buying all the good deals on giraffeable gourds.

This comes on the heels of  the previous weekend where she had the best single day of sales she has ever had, throwing her and Tulasi into a frenzy of activity during the week to generate some stock for the last weekend of her show season (not counting a November show she does at WVU just to spend some time with Marken who is going there).

Her plans for gourd purchasing had been thrown off by getting the Jackson Jubilee show she wasn’t counting on and doing well there, then doing better than expected at Yankee Peddler so we rented the U Haul and it was buy buy buy.

Although she negotiated discount prices for volume purchasing, it was still trickle down economics on a micro scale. Vidya did well so all the gourd sellers did well too. :-)

I spent some time skating around in my gourd costume, which was an improvement over the years I didn’t even have the energy to go to the show,  but still lacking the stamina to put in the hours being the unofficial show mascot that I used to.  I can push myself to do more but then I am strained and projecting the exuberance and happiness a costume requires becomes problematic. The smiling is harder than the skating at that point, so I have to go take a rest.

Busy today catching up with a lot of irons in the fire, including an appointment with an endocrinologist so I will cut this short.


Vidya has been selling beaucoup gourd giraffes.  For many of them she uses dipper gourds which aren’t that available to buy so I am resurrecting a abandoned project to build a gourd trellis. Dipper gourds grown on the ground get a curved handle. On a trellis they grow straight due to the influence of gravity.

I used to competitively grow long handled dippers and once won a blue ribbon for an 83″  (211 cm).  The trellis project was originally intended for that so when I started declining into End Stage Liver Disease it was abandoned as being lower priority.

A shout out to Bhima Walker who came when I was sick and set some of the posts. The last piece fell into place when Gopish gave me some 15 foot pieces of steel that were left over from a project he was doing. They will span the posts. I have some addition recycled aluminum struts that will be used between the spanning steel.

I have several rolls of recycled cyclone fence that have been waiting on pallets for about 5 years to be used.

Last fall I worked up the ground, spread lime,  and sowed rye on the plot but it was so wet during the early part of the summer I never was able to proceed on getting it prepared for 2009 planting, plus I lacked the energy to do the construction part.

I am feeling better this fall so Tulasi and I spread compost on it and I tilled it up.

tilling the trellis

Now I have to get the spans up and enclose it so I can plant rye on it. I learned last year the deer will eat the rye if not protected.

I threw it up into beds so it will dry out quicker even in a wet spring. I was waiting for a little rain, which has happened, to  germinate weed seeds so when I plant the rye the raking in will destroy them. We are going to the Ohio Gourd Show today so when I return next week the rye will go in as soon as it is dry enough.

Next spring I will till in the rye and plant dipper gourds that will mostly end up being giraffes. They will grow in 2010 and be cured for crafting for the 2011 shows.

Other garden projects go on also, not mentioned herein,and I am starting to plant sections of the veggie garden into rye as they come out of production, like where potatoes were I have already dug.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I had to be in Pittsburgh at UPMC for a liver biopsy at 6 AM.

First they do some prep work of taking a blood sample to check clotting times so they know you won’t bleed out, take blood pressure to make sure the system isn’t under stress, and then insert a tube in your arm so in case you are the 1 in a 1000 that springs a leak (all circulating blood goes through the liver) they are ready to pump in whatever it would be they would need to pump in.

Then one gets the privilege of laying around waiting for the blood work results to come back before being wheeled into the biopsy room.  I was recognized because I had just been there last January for a routine biopsy so it was a lot of the same personnel. Part of my deflection process for getting through procedures is to chat up the doctors et al doing the procedure as it takes my mind off what is going on.   Maybe I am thinking if they make a personal connection they will do a more conscious job, but the point is I get to know them as people also.

This biopsy wasn’t routine but a response to a steady rise in  my liver enzymes which if my bilirubin levels had gone up would have been a clear sign of rejection but as it hadn’t it is ambiguous and could be other causes but the only way to know for sure was another liver biopsy.  Rejection means the liver is being attacked by the immune system and will fail. Failing liver means a whole body transplant.

The biopsy itself isn’t that big a deal. They do an ultrasound to check out for a good spot, then a huge needle to push in some lidocaine to deaden the area, couple of shots of that, then more ultrasound.  They place this gadget next to your skin, have you hold your breath and pull a trigger that activates a needle that goes in and takes a core sample.

They got a good sample so only needed to do it once and I was in and out of the biopsy room in under 15 minutes.

Then back to a room where you have to lay around for 4 hours in case you spring a leak, monitored by blood pressure readings every 30 minutes.

You aren’t allowed to drive for 24 hours so Tulasi came along as my caregiver. Afterwards we went to Penn Mac to buy some olives and various delicious foodstuffs. While we were there they were boarding up the windows in case the protests for the G 20 conference that will be held in Pittsburgh this week get out of hand and turn into rioting.

On our way out of Pittsburgh we saw a few hundred protesters by the Convention Center with signs indicating displeasure with the G 20 leadership for broken promises on AIDS treatment.

Avoiding Pittsburgh this Thursday and Friday is advised. There will be “no vehicle” zones established and some bridges shut down. That might pertain to the weekend also.

Tulasi worked his way through the maze of buildings that constitute UPMC and got me a release form to sign so they will mail me the results of the biopsy, nothing to do  but wait and see now. I will probably get that next week.

I am the taste of water,
the light of the sun and the moon,
the syllable oḿ in the Vedic mantras;
the sound in ether
ability in man
original fragrance of the earth,
the heat in fire.
the life of all that lives,
the penances of all ascetics
the original seed of all existences,
the intelligence of the intelligent,
the prowess of all powerful men
strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire.
sex life which is not contrary to religious principles
the Supersoul seated in the hearts of all living entities.
the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.
of the Ādityas I am Viṣṇu,
of lights I am the radiant sun,
of the Maruts I am Marīci,
among the stars I am the moon.
of the Vedas I am the Sāma Veda
of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven
of the senses I am the mind;
in living beings I am the living force [consciousness].
of all the Rudras I am Lord Śiva,
of the Yakṣas and Rākṣasas I am the Lord of wealth [Kuvera],
of the Vasus I am fire [Agni],
of mountains I am Meru.
of priests, know Me to be the chief, Bṛhaspati.
of generals I am Kārtikeya,
of bodies of water I am the ocean.
of the great sages I am Bhṛgu;
of vibrations I am the transcendental oḿ.
of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa],
of immovable things I am the Himālayas.
of all trees I am the banyan tree
of the sages among the demigods I am Nārada.
of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha,
among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.
of horses know Me to be Uccaiḥśravā,
of lordly elephants I am Airāvata,
among men I am the monarch.
of weapons I am the thunderbolt;
among cows I am the surabhi.
of causes for procreation I am Kandarpa, the god of love,
of serpents I am Vāsuki.
of the many-hooded Nāgas I am Ananta,
among the aquatics I am the demigod Varuṇa.
of departed ancestors I am Aryamā,
among the dispensers of law I am Yama, the lord of death.
among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlāda,
among subduers I am time,
among beasts I am the lion,
among birds I am Garuḍa.
of purifiers I am the wind,
of the wielders of weapons I am Rāma,
of fishes I am the shark,
of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.
of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle,
of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the self,
among logicians I am the conclusive truth.
of letters I am the letter A,
among compound words I am the dual compound.
I am also inexhaustible time,
of creators I am Brahmā.
I am all-devouring death,
I am the generating principle of all that is yet to be.
Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience.
of the hymns in the Sāma Veda I am the Bṛhat-sāma,
of poetry I am the Gāyatrī.
of months I am Mārgaśīrṣa [November-December]
of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.
I am also the gambling of cheats
of the splendid I am the splendor.
I am victory,
I am adventure,
I am the strength of the strong.
of the descendants of Vṛṣṇi I am Vāsudeva,
of the Pāṇḍavas I am Arjuna.
of the sages I am Vyāsa,
among great thinkers I am Uśanā.
Among all means of suppressing lawlessness I am punishment,
of those who seek victory I am morality.
of secret things I am silence
of the wise I am the wisdom.
I am the generating seed of all existences.
There is no being — moving or nonmoving — that can exist without Me


Solazyme Inc. has been selected by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to research, develop, and demonstrate commercial scale production of algae-derived advanced biofuel that meets the United States Navy’s rigorous specifications for military tactical platforms. Solazyme will utilize its innovative large-scale algal oil production process to provide renewable F-76 Naval Distillate fuel for testing and fuel certification to demonstrate it meets all military specifications and functional requirements.

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“The fuels made with our algal technology reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 85% versus standard petroleum based fuels,” said Jonathan Wolfson, Solazyme’s CEO. “We are honored to be working with the U.S. Navy to develop one of the world’s newest and cleanest fuels. The Navy, the Defense Energy Support Center, the Defense Logistics Agency and the entire Department of Defense, have taken a true leadership position in moving forward to utilize clean and renewable oil production technology to address both the national energy security needs of our country and the environmental challenges facing our planet.”

Solazyme has already produced Soladiesel F-76 that has been delivered to the Department of Defense for initial testing and has met the Navy’s F-76 specification. This program will lead to the eventual certification of Soladiesel F-76 Naval distillate for commercial sale to the U.S. Military.

The horror story comes later in this post, first I am doing the lead in.

We used to grow some native tobacco species for their fragrance.  They are tall  gangly plant you put behind other plantings but at night they would open up the floodgates of this really heady fragrance.

They have  naturalized in our garden beds and come up in early summer as a weed. We let some grow here and there and this year I even transplanted some into the end of a bed.

Tobacco is  used as a natural insecticide so I don’t mind having it around, though I have never used it in that way. The species types can’t really be smoked as they have much higher nicotine content then the commercial varieties and would poison the smoker, but I have made tobacco twists in the past and given them as gifts to Native Americans to use in ceremony. They use them in tobacco ties or offerings to the Earth.

A couple days ago I was walking through the garden and noticed about half the leaves had been eaten off the transplanted tobacco. I immediately felt my heart sink as it was eaten off high like a deer would do and I was afraid some macho deer was leaping my should be too high for deer fence.

I didn’t have energy to deal with it so I filed the observation under anomalies and went on with my day. The next day I was in that section of the garden and saw practically all the leaves were gone and hanging on the bare stems were two tomato horn worms.

tomato hornworm

I stuck my finger in there for contextualizing the size. Incidentally, it is really hard to take a steady picture with a digital camera only using one hand. :-)

Now to the horror story which will require clicking this link. I have observed the parasitized tomato horn worms in my garden in the past and let them alone so the beneficial wasps would proliferate but it has been so long ago I imagine the Braconid wasps are no longer in my environment.

Vidya got invited to a show she hadn’t done before at Jackson Mills State Park  near Weston, West Virginia over the Labor Day weekend called the Jackson Jubilee.  She did pretty well there saleswise  so that was good but she also caught the eye of the local media.

I didn’t go but Tulasi did and wore my gourd costume which made the front page above the fold. The photographer  sent us a copy of the paper.

Jackson Jubilee 2009 costume small

Caption: Tulasi Meberg of Moundsville is shown all decked-out in gourd regalia. Tulasi and his mother, Mary Meberg, of Middle Mountain Acres were on hand at the Jackson’s Mill Jubilee to show and sell their gourd craft creations. (Photo by John G. Wolfe)

See online version here.

Here is a picture of Vidya they didn’t use but sent me. She demonstrates at shows  as it attracts buyers and keeps production rolling.

Jackson Jubilee 2009 painting gourds small

She can talk to customers and paint at the same time! Tulasi talks and takes the money.

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