May 31, 2010: Remembering Tommy

Thomas Lowell Tucker
1981 - 2006

Thomas Lowell Tucker (May 5, 1981–June 19, 2006) from Madras, Oregon, was a Private First Class of the U.S. Army tortured, killed, and mutilated by Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He was one of two U.S. soldiers seized by the Mujahideen Shura Council during an attack that left a third soldier Spc. David J. Babineau shot to death on a roadside checkpoint on June 16, 2006, in Youssifiyah, Iraq, an area known as the Triangle of Death. PFC Kristian Menchaca also went missing in that incident.

Tucker was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502d Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

On June 20, 2006, military sources reported that the bodies believed to be Tucker and Menchaca were found in Youssifiyah. The bodies of two U.S. soldiers were mutilated and booby-trapped, with IED's on the road leading to them. The director of the Iraqi defense military’s operation room Major General Abdul Aziz Mohammed told Reuters that the men were tortured and killed "in a barbaric way". The Mujahedeen Shura Council, a group linked to al Qaeda, said in their statement: "We announce the good news to our Islamic nation that God's will was executed and the two crusader animals we had in captivity were slaughtered"..."And God has given our Emir, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, the good fortune of carrying out the legitimate court's command in person." Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, when asked about the claim by the Shura Council that it was holding the soldiers, said they have no independent confirmation of that report. Another U.S. soldier was killed and eight were wounded during the search operations.

On July 3, 2006, PFC Tucker was honored in his home of Central Oregon beginning with a funeral service at Deschutes County, Oregon Fairgrounds, officiated by Pastor Lee McCloud of Oregon Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, followed by a funeral procession, eight miles long, to Madras, his hometown, where he was buried at Mount Jefferson Memorial Park Cemetery. Along with hundreds of local mourners of PFC Tucker and military dignitaries, the burial was also attended by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden and others. Even after PFC Tucker's burial, banners, pictures, and other signs of support remained on display around Madras.

On July 10, 2006, a video showing the bodies of Kristian Menchaca and PFC Tucker was posted on an extreme Islamist website, purportedly by al-Qaida in Iraq. Although the video does not show the actual executions, it shows the two corpses laid out on a road and being taunted by the alleged captors, who present the head of Thomas Tucker to the camera like a trophy, and stomp on the head of Menchaca.

On September 23, 2006, a second mutilation video of the two soldiers was broadcast on the Internet. It shows the two soldiers being dragged on the streets and their bodies being set on fire. Tucker's head is kicked by an insurgent.

It was widely reported in July 2006 that a Jordanian man, Diyar Ismail Mahmoud, a.k.a 'Abu al-Afghani', alleged as being behind the killing and mutilation of Tucker and Menchaca, had himself been killed in a firefight with Iraqi security forces.
[edit] Iraqi Judicial Proceedings

In October 2008, an Iraqi judge sentenced Ibrahim Karim Muhammed Salih al-Qaraghuli to death for the abduction, torture, and murder of Tucker and Menchaca. An expert witness stated that al-Qaraghuli's fingerprints matched photographs of bloody prints found on the front panel of the truck from which the two men were dragged. Two other men were acquitted and released due to a lack of evidence.

A town in mourning.

Tommy's Funeral

The burial.

Thomas Tucker Memorial

May 31, 2010: Harvest Monday & GBDD

The Week of May 24-30


5/24 Transplanted 4 parsley seedlings into flower garden

5/24 Transplanted basil seedlings into larger pots

5/25 Made 40 soil blocks and started seedlings: Red Sails, Jericho and Little Gem lettuces (10 each), Forget-me-nots (10)

5/25 Planted Royal Burgundy bush beans (48) and Black Beauty zucchini (2 hills of 3 each) on Pat's side of the fence.

5/25 Planted Trail of Tears pole beans (25) next to patio.

5/25 Planted 2 gray zucchini seeds in hill where seedling died last week.

5/27 Resowed Bachelor Buttons seed to fill in where birds ate the seedlings, covered container with bird netting.

5/28 Planted 10 Four-O'clocks seedlings.

5/28 Planted 3 morning glory seedlings.

5/30 Planted last 4 morning glory seedlings in kennel garden. Probably too shady for them, but had no other place to put them.

5/30 Pulled some beets that were growing poorly and planted a 4' double row of carrots in their place.


5/24 The first strawberries of the season, 2 ounces
5/24 20 oz. lettuce
5/24 13 oz. spinach
5/26 3 oz. lettuce
5/26 7 oz. red leaf lettuce
5/26 4 oz. (1) onion
5/28 4 oz. (1) onion
5/29 12 oz. onions (for Pat)
5/29 7 oz. lettuce
5/30 5 oz. strawberries
5/30 28 oz. lettuce
5/30 14 oz. spinach
5/30 1 raspberry, eaten in garden

7.4375 pounds harvested this week
24.25 pounds total harvest to date for 2010


lettuce (daily)
chili sauce (2009)
ketchup (2009)
sweet pickle relish (2009)
peach jam (2009)


Spinach was picked younger and only one leaf had leaf miner damage.

Buttercrunch lettuce grows large and crisp, but has a tendency toward brown edges on older leaves. I am, however, happy with size, taste and texture.

The onions are sizing up nicely. I pulled one for tonight's dinner, and it weighed 4 ounces.

It has been the coldest, wettest May I've ever experienced. Normal temperatures 80/50, we're lucky to reach 65/45.

The first tomato appeared, on the Minigold.

There was a visitor next door, at Pat's house, Sunday afternoon.

General Gardening:

Mixed up some fish fertilizer and fed a few potted plants, and hid the measuring cup behind some potted tomatoes. When I came beck to it, I found Annie had managed to move the large tomato pot several inches, to reach the cup so she could lick that nasty stuff out of it.

Began pruning one of the shrubs in the front yard that suffered a lot of winter damage. Numerous tiny dead branches have to be pruned out by hand, not an easy job and hard on the back, so it may take me a few days to complete.

Added two bags of potting soil to the potato patch for their final hilling.

Did the first pruning of bottom leaves and suckers, and tying up of the tomatoes.

Thinned out and transplanted a few lettuces. I hope I can find room for the 30 I started in soil blocks this week! I may have to make a salad box and put it on the table in the kennel garden. I do have a large tote that I used for tomato seedlings, it could easily be used for lettuce.

Edged back (patio) flower garden

Removed bird netting from peas and snap peas, as the tendrils were beginning to cling to it. Strung garden twine for the shelling peas and pushed in branches for the snap peas for support.

Cut off new raspberry canes along the edges of the bed to provide better air circulation for the bearing plants.

I left the large new canes near the center of the bed for next years crop.

The berries will be more accessible, and much easier to pick now.

Garden Blogger's Death Day

This first one isn't really my fault. It's the Roma Grape tomato plant I started for my neighbor, Pat. I gave her a nice, healthy seedling just before she ended up having surgery on her knee, and she didn't tell me she hadn't planted it. It was looking pretty bad by the time it finally got put in a pot on her patio, but there was still some chance of survival. Until her puppy ate it.

I just flat out gave up on these beets, and pulled them out. I'll plant more in July, when they aren't bothered by birds and leaf miners. I planted a 4' double row of carrots to take their place in the garden.

This baby is going next. It's been devoured by birds and insects, and Otto stepped on it yesterday. It only grew to a fraction of the size of the other broccoli plants, so tonight it will die.

***Harvest Monday is hosted weekly by Daphne, at Daphne's Dandelions***

***Garden Blogger's Death Day is hosted on the last day of each month by Kate, at Gardening Without Skills***

May 25, 2009: A Little of This, A Little of That

Those who have been reading my blog for a while know my neighbor, Pat. For new readers, I'll fill you in a bit. Pat and I have lived next door to each other for over 20 years. She's nine years my senior, at 80 years of age, but has always led an active life of golfing and fishing. Her husband passed away last year, and Pat continues to live in her big house, with the big yard, all alone. Well, alone except for her new puppy, Bandit. Bandit is half Chihuahua and half Dachshund.......a Chiweenie.

Two weeks ago, Pat had to have arthroscopic knee surgery, and a few days later she ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Now her pneumonia is gone, but she's still having a lot of problems walking.

Pat's never been a vegetable gardener, but she loves the fresh vegetables I share with her, so when I ended up with more tomatoes than I had room for this year, she had her grandson bring in a pickup load of compost, and make a nice fertile strip along our shared fence for a few of my extra plants. She also hinted that she'd kind of like some green beans and zucchini there, too. I planted six of my tomato seedlings there last week, and today I added two rows of Royal Burgundy bush beans and two hills of Black Beauty zucchini.

Pat's new garden, with bush beans in the foreground, determinate tomatoes in the center, and zucchini at the back.

Her six tomatoes are 2 Homestead, 2 Marglobe, 1 Persey and 1 Market Miracle.

My side of the fence is filling in well.

Today I moved the garden bench and a small table to the corner of the garden. Once it gets hot, it will be shaded by the pole beans and cucumbers, a cool place to sit and drink my morning coffee.

The flower garden (along the fence on the left) is finally beginning to show some growth with the past two warmer days. The lilies are almost ready to bloom, one bud is showing color. The pot on the concrete blocks has a Minigold tomato, with a few bush beans at its base. It's on the blocks, as the butternut squash in the bed behind it will soon cover the entire area with its large leaves.

Look, Toni! Here are three of your pink hollyhocks in the back, and two white ones in the front. There is another group planting at the back of my east garden.

The west garden has pots of dwarf varieties of tomatoes on the irrigation water cover, Ottawa cranberry beans against the fence, a Market Miracle tomato in the green bucket, and the ? Dwarf Champion or Husky Red Cherry ? tomato in the white pot. That's the only tomato that I forgot to mark, so I'll have to wait for it to fruit before I can identify it. I haven't yet decided if I'll plant flowers in front of the white pot, or transplant some basil to that spot. I have quite a few Four O'clocks, in soil blocks, that have just sprouted. They might look pretty there, or they may grow too tall. Decisions, decisions! I wish I'd started more marigolds.

The other half of the west garden is devoted to two hills of zucchini. These are Black Beauty, and the other (not shown) hill is Grey zucchini. Only one of the Grey survived transplanting, and it's not looking so good. I put a couple more seeds in its hill today.

Otto and Annie really enjoyed today's warm weather and occasional sunshine.

Leona is growing! She's eight inches tall now, nearly 4" taller than she was when we got her!

Leona on 5/14 and 5/24. She goes out in the garden for her sunshine each day, but still comes in at night. We're still having night temperatures in the 40s, which is absolutely unheard of here in the Columbia Basin!

If you only have one cosmos, is it a cosmo?

It must be spring, the roses are blooming. They smell so sweet, like raspberries.

Oops! I almost forgot to show you my thyme! It's a beauty this year, measuring over a yard in width and 18" high.

May 24, 2010: It Must Be March!

Yes, it must be March. Our weather tells me so. I cannot remember May ever being as cold as it has been this year. By this date in May we usually have days in the 80s or higher, and nights in the high fifties. This year we can't seem to get out of the low 40s/60s. Once in a while the sun blesses us by appearing from behind a cloud, and we get a fleeting glimpse of what spring should be like.

The Week of May 17 - 23


Two 4' strips Ingot carrots (double rows @ 2" apart)

Ottawa Cranberry dry pole beans (24) from Daphne

Seeds in soil blocks: 7 morning glory, 3 marigold, 10 Four O'Clocks

A "block" each of Dragon Tongue beans (11) from Dan and Royal Burgundy beans (12) from saved seed. A "block" is a bit larger than a square.


It's Harvest Monday!
Join in the fun at Daphne's Dandelions. Brag about your harvest, whether it be large or small, and see what others have harvested this past week.


6 oz. lettuce (1 dinner plate sized head of Buttercrunch), 8 oz. Sparkler radishes & 9 oz. green onions (some not shown) that have grown to 36" long

8 oz. lettuce (mostly Red Sails, a few leaves of Red Romaine)

16 oz. mixed lettuces

11 oz. mixed lettuce & 2 oz. onion (one onion that was going to seed)

28 oz. spinach & a sprig of rosemary (not shown)

11 oz. red lettuces, some leaves were a foot long

10 oz. (1 head Buttercrunch) that hides the dinner plate it sits on


Huge wilted lettuce/spinach salad with green onions

Lettuce & sliced green onions on hamburgers, with sweet & dill relishes from last year's garden

Rosemary in the roasted potatoes, cooked spinach. The meal doesn't look very pretty, it needs a bit more color (fresh tomatoes, anyone?) but it was delicious! I cooked the shrimp on the barbecue, and they were well seasoned with pepper and garlic and basted with butter.

Lettuce (lots!) on my tuna sandwich x2

Mixed lettuce & spinach salad x2

Mixed lettuce & spinach salad with radishes x2

Onions in hash and on burgers.

Sweet & dill relishes, ketchup and 2 pints of salsa from last year's garden at family barbecue, along with fresh lettuce for the hamburgers.

100% of Cookie's (the pet rabbit) greens are now from the garden, as well as 100% of ours.


It must be the coldest, windiest May ever.

Sparkler radishes were smaller, but didn't have the wire worm damage that Champion and Cherry Belle had.

Yellow crookneck squash (I think) are volunteering behind the shed, where the old compost pile was situated last year. I picked out three to grow, and will keep the rest pulled. I'm just about positive these are the crooknecks, as I tossed some really big ones last year.

Buttercrunch lettuce heads put on 4 ounces from the beginning of the week to the end of the week, and started forming a tight inner head.

General Gardening:

Bought two new sprinklers, the kind that can be run several in a line, and set them up to cover the north garden. I had three sprinklers on the system, but there wasn't enough pressure for the third one, so I had to crawl behind the dog kennel, move the compost barrel and go on hands and knees under the arborvitae to connect the hose for sprinkler #3 to a different outlet. Then I had to hook up the hose for sprinkler #4 to the other outlet on the same Y fitting as #3 and run that hose down the fence line so it would also water my neighbor's little strip garden as well as my east garden. Now everything gets watered with automatic timers, and Mr. Granny won't have to move hoses to mow the back yard. Only the buckets and containers have to be watered by hand, which takes about ten minutes.

Dug compost into west garden, stapled strips of wire fencing to the cedar fence for the Ottawa Cranberry pole beans to climb, then fenced off the south side of it to keep the dogs out, Trying to decide what kind of flowers I want there.

Put dog protection fencing over the volunteer yellow crookneck squash.

Made plant labels for all the tomatoes and the peppers that are in pots. I ended up with an extra label, so I've misplaced a tomato or counted wrong. The one untagged tomato is one of the last ones I potted up, and I didn't write down what it's either a Husky Red Cherry or a Dwarf Champion (the two leftover labels). I'll have to compare it to those plants once it bears fruit.


Other Stuff:

Saturday I baked 30 big hamburger buns and 10 hot dog buns for Sunday's family barbecue.

On Sunday, the entire family (17 of us over the age of 12, four babies and three dogs) came for hamburgers, hot dogs and brats cooked on our new barbecue.

We bought it last week, and it only took us three days to put together. Who knew a barbecue could have so many parts! It was a nice replacement for our old one, which really served us well for 20 years.

Amy, the youngest daughter, brought the baked beans. Shannon, the oldest daughter, brought fruit salad and pasta salad. Scott, the youngest son, and his SO Kris, brought the chips and dip and the cheese for the burgers. Son John, the oldest boy, and his SO Carol, brought the delicious lemon bars for dessert. I supplied the meat, buns, potato salad and salsa. Amy's husband, Bryan, did the cooking. We had a good card game and lots of food. Too much food!

Great-grandson Carter, granddaughter Alicyn, great-granddaughter Cambri. Great-grandbaby Remington was asleep in the house.

May 19, 2010: From Colander to Clothes Basket

The lettuce and spinach are really coming on strong now. Last night we had a huge wilted lettuce salad with our dinner, tonight we are in spinach overload.

My largest salad bowl, filled to the brim with freshly cut and chilled mixed lettuces and garden onions. We ate so much, I had to serve it in the big soup bowls! These lettuces are so good. Last year I didn't plant nearly enough, so I've spaced out my planting this year to provide us with a steady supply. Most of the varieties grown were given to me by Meredith, from The Enchanted Earth.

Time to pick the spinach again. There was very little leaf miner damage in this crop.

From now on, I'll be using a clothes basket for the greens harvesting, rather than the colander I was using last week. That's nearly two pounds.....not a bad spinach harvest, huh? I went back to that dollar store that's closing out, and bought two of these baskets to use for picking garden produce for only 90-cents each. Granny's always looking for a bargain ;-)

One variety of carrots (front) germinated well this spring, another variety (center) was a bit spotty, and the third variety didn't germinate well at all. They were all planted the same day, using fresh seed, and given the same care. Who knows....maybe a bad package of seed, or a favorite place for the birds to nibble? Anyway, I planted two more strips of the good germinator, two rows on each strip at 2" spacing. I didn't use the boards on the earlier planting, I was careful to do so this time around.

Look! The Gonzales cabbages are beginning to form little heads, and the Fortex pole beans are up and reaching for their string trellis! I guess you could call this my "Daphne's Friendship Garden", as the cabbage and bean seeds were gifts from Daphne's Dandelions.

In closing, here is my very first pea blossom of 2010. Finally!

May 17, 2010: Harvest Monday

The Week of May 10-May 16


Nine oz. lettuce (Buttercrunch & Little Gem)

Four oz. green onions, 9 oz. lettuce (thinnings), 18 oz. spinach

Four oz. radishes

Visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others have harvested this week.


12 Quadrato peppers
4 Calwonder peppers
12 Australian Yellow lettuce
10 Drunken Woman lettuce
1 Cherry Roma tomato
2 Market Miracle tomatoes
2 Persey tomatoes
2 Marglobe tomatoes
2 Homestead tomatoes
1 Husky Red Cherry tomato (container)
2 Sibirskij Stambovyj tomatoes (containers)
1 Gartenperle tomato (container)
1 Minigold tomato (container)
1 Dwarf Champion tomato (container)
1 Green Grape tomato
2 Grey Zucchini (one died, one left)
2 Black Beauty Zucchini
6 white alyssum
18 Sweet Williams
1 pkt. blue bachelor buttons (seeds)
1 Dwarf Meyer lemon tree (container)


Gartenperle tomatoes are in full bloom, Minigold and Sibirskij Stambovyj tomatoes have buds.

Taste tested Tyee Hybrid and Melody spinach, Tyee won hands down. Melody left a lingering bitter taste. My neighbor, Pat, has been in the hospital for knee surgery. She'd only been home one day when she got pneumonia and ended up back in the hospital. She's home now, so I took her half the fresh spinach and some onions for her and her daughter to enjoy for their dinner last night. The daughter made wilted spinach salad, with bacon and balsamic vinegar, and Pat said it was by far the best spinach she had ever eaten!

General Gardening:

Hoed the east garden, which was sprouting lots of tomato and marigold volunteers. These seedlings were from the huge marigolds from last year, that overtook the garden, I definitely don't want them again this year!

Applied fertilizer & alfalfa pellets to the two lettuce beds.

Cleaned out the zucchini bed and dog proofed the hills with these cool "Grow Through Plant Supports" that I got at the dollar store for 90-cents each (they're having a going out of business sale). I ran a bit of wire fencing around the outsides for good measure. That bed has been Annie's favorite digging spot.

Stocked up on composted manure, perlite and vermiculite to mix with the peat I had on hand. Finished filling all planters and got them planted....six more tomatoes (the white pot on the right didn't quite make it into the picture) . Mr. Granny mowed, and I used the clippings to mulch all of the tomatoes. All of the tomatoes are now planted, forty-two plants in all:

Amish Paste 1
Angora Super Sweet 1
Black Cherry 2
Brandywine, Sudduth's Strain 2
Cherokee Purple 3
Cherry Roma 2
Clear Pink Early 1
Dwarf Champion 3
Eva Purple Ball 1
Gartenperle 2
Golden Dwarf Champion 2
Green Grape 1
Homestead 2
Husky Red Cherry 3
Kellogg's Breakfast 1
Kimberly 1
Marglobe 2
Miracle of the Market - AKA Chudo Rynka 2
Mini Gold 2
Nyagous 1
Persey 2
Sibirskij Stambovyj 3
Sungold 1
Unknown (Angora seed, did not have the fuzzy gray-green foliage) 1

Strung twine up the dog kennel side for the pole beans to climb.

Heavily pruned the euonymus and flowering quince. I should have taken "before" photos of these grossly overgrown shrubs. The euonymus was over 8 feet high and had grown half way across the path from the front to the back yard. I took it down to just under six feet. The quince wasn't quite that high, but had grown wide enough to poke its thorns into anyone who dared walk the path.

Cleaned out the fern garden. I love this spot in the yard when it's really hot outside. Many of the ferns are nearly four feet high, and it's always cool and shady to sit by them. They were moved here from my Mother's garden more than twenty years ago.

Gave (next door neighbor to the east) Pat's daughter 9 tomato and three pepper plants, put all the rest of them out front with a "free" sign. The entire box of 21 plants disappeared in less than 30 minutes. Six of the tomatoes went to the neighbor to the west of us, so those won't be far from their birthplace ;-)