Monday, August 15, 2011

The girl's first knife and the garden tour

Today we went to the Biltmore estate.  It's the largest single family home in the country with 250 rooms.  The family has the house and grounds open for tourism.  They also have an inn with rooms that start at two hundred dollars per night for the worst room with most rooms in the $400 range.  We got a free pass to the grounds although this didn't include going inside the house.  Brother and his new wife honeymooned at the Inn and they put the entire family down as their "guests" so we all got to have free entrance to the grounds and attractions. 

This included a trip to the kitchen garden, the animal petting area, the winery for wine tasting, gift shops, and the viewing of a collection of Tiffany lamps.  My favorite was the kitchen garden although the wine tasting came in a close second!  The kids had a great time in the gift shop figuring out how much money we saved by canning our own food.  You see, they had really cool canned goods like a quart jar of pitted cherries in a light syrup for twenty two dollars!  They also had little jars of jam for five dollars.  The kids figured that we made over one hundred dollars worth of blackberry jam.  Boy kept saying how people like to waste their money buying things when they could just make them!  He's learning. 
The kids each earned five dollars yesterday.  While some of the other kids at the wedding were running around, boy and girl were so well behaved that people commented to me how good they were. They get three dollars per day for spending money while we are on the trip but if they are perfectly behaved then they get five.  So this morning they got five.   Boy has decided that he's saving his money for something big.  One of the first days he bought a little airplane toy but otherwise hasn't really spent much money.  Girl likes to spend more but she also shares some of what she buys.  Both kids have done a good job with sharing.

I told the kids they can't buy candy or anything that's normal for everywhere.  They need to use the money to buy something special.  Today girl was in one of the gift shops and she came out very proudly showing off her brand new pocketknife.  It has about ten different implements, some she doesn't know what they are for.  I told her that she has to make sure it's in the checked luggage on our way home or the inspectors will take it and throw it away.  She is so excited that she has this knife and pulled it out of her pocket to cut a tag off something. 

The garden tour was great because they had banana plants.  Why does this make the tour great?  It gets cold in Asheville during the winter.  Much colder than where I live.  If banana plants can grow here then they can grow where I live.  This was almost like the revelation I had a couple years ago when I was in New York and I got a container of blueberries which came from a farm about 30 miles from my house.  I never knew I could grow blueberries where I lived either.  I now own a dozen blueberry plants.  I will go to the nursery and get a banana plant when I return.

Bananas are interesting plants.  One stalk grows on the plant and will have a banana bunch on it.  That bunch may contain fifty pounds of bananas.  When that bunch gets picked that stem will die off.  New stems will grow from the plant and the plant will live a long time.  I have no idea what their actual needs are.  I've always been under the impression that you needed a climate that was frost free.  Perhaps there's a type that grows well in colder climates.  I'll find out. 

I'll get them planted at my house and also at the bug-out place.  If each pound of bananas has two or three bananas and each banana is 100 calories then each bunch will have around 10,000 calories. Bananas are easy to dry or jam.  They are a great food if you have a sweet tooth. They are definitely worth having in the garden.

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