Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guessing Game with No Prizes

I have a list.
A pretty long list.
There's a big gold star for your resume' if you correctly guess what the list is.
It must be in proper "Jeopardy" question form.

Example:
"Alex, I'll take Pastries for $400."

"What confection was first made by Alice Reinert for the Reading, Pennsylvania Fair in 1965?"
Buzzers are slammed
"Alex, What is the donut?"
"No, I'm sorry."

"Alex, what is Red Velvet Cake?"
"No, that is incorrect."

"Alex, what is a Philly Cheesesteak?"
"Did you say Cheesesteak???"
"Yes."

"No, I'm afraid that is incorrect."
"Contestants, it is the Funnel Cake. That silly shaped, deep-fried confection that is often covered in powered sugar or fruit topping. It wouldn't be a fair without them."
"Now we must pause for a commercial break."
******************
Get it?
Here's the list

Patty Pan Squash
Yellow Crookneck Squash
Cucumber (slicing and pickling)
Zucchini
Fennel
Garlic
Onions (white, red and yellow)
Leeks
Green Beans
Beets
Carrots
Broccoli
Basil
Dandelion Greens


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And I Don't Even LIke Purses

A couple days ago, I got sidetracked while doing a chore. Typical.
Yesterday was no exception to that part of me that can't finish one job before beginning another.
We got 8 yards of bark mulch delivered to put in our plant beds. For weeks and weeks we've been raking, pulling and hoeing up the weeds that set up housekeeping in the beds over the winter.
Yesterday, I hit the last of the weeds with the big gun---Round Up.
Squirt a weed here, squirt a weed there. I was hardly paying attention. Then, while squirting some Queen Anne's Lace, I noticed a brightly colored caterpillar.
Dang it! Side tracked again.
The poor thing squirmed and twisted and I felt horrible. I gathered it up and took it to the house to rinse it off. I then wandered to a neighbor's property to let it go. We plan on mowing our pasture this week and I didn't want it to get 'mowed'.
Can you see where this went? I spent the next half hour rescuing Black Swallowtail caterpillars from my beds before I went on spraying the weeds.
I tortured them by making them endure a photo shoot before I took them all to a safe place to finish growing.
Today, I will torture myself by moving the bark mulch, one wheelbarrow at a time.
But what does all this have to do with purses, per the title of this post?
The largest caterpillar in the picture is lime green, yellow, black and white. Those colors would look amazing on a purse!
I have never ever liked purses. Some women have as many purses as they have pairs of shoes. I was given a purse a few years ago as a gift from Lee. We had seen it in Hawaii when we were attending my niece, Sarah's, wedding. I suddenly understood why women love purses. It was a magical purse, which is only fitting because it was designed by the magical folks at Cirque du Soleil.
That was 2 1/2 years ago. The purse that rivals all other purses, has seen some use. The bright colors are beginning to fade. It's time for a new purse.
Lucky for me, I'll be seeing a Cirque show in July. Maybe I'll peruse their purses for a lime green, yellow, black and white purse.
I'll bet it won't be too hard to find.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spiderwoman


You know how when you start one chore, but end up doing something else completely?

That was me this morning. I started out clearing an enormous patch of a pretty flowers that quickly turn to bothersome burrs called by many names. The funnest one is Beggars Lice. The other two names are Showy Trefoil and Stick Tights.

I gathered up an entire 33 gallon trash can full of them and headed toward the burn pile. On my way, I spotted an area of overgrown spearmint (big surprise--not). I stooped over to start pulling mint and came upon a wolf spider. Upon closer inspection, I found that she was carrying a back full of baby spiders. According to my research, there are as many as 200 spiderlings on her back.

The first time I witnessed this was many years ago in Houston. I had gathered up a spider in a cup to take it outside. Within a moment, my cup was crawling with ensy weensy spiders. I was so surprised that I dropped the cup and watched helplessly as the miniature spiders made their way across my kitchen floor.

If you know me at all, you know I felt horrible that I had caused mother and babies to be separated. She scrambled under the table and I just left her there. Within an hour, many if not most, of her babies were back on board. This time, I just opened the sliding glass door and scootched her outside with an envelope.

While Wolf spiders can bite, they'd really rather not. They are fabulous predators to have in the garden. The female carries her egg sac around with her back legs until they hatch. The spiderlings crawl up on her back for a little protective mothering for about a week. After that, they're on their own. The Wolf spider and the Nursery Web Spider (aka Fishing Spider) are the only two of their kind to protect their young once they are hatched. I can't find any evidence that they feed their young in any way. Just a bit of protection until they can fend for themselves.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

It's that time of year. It's when rather nasty, prickly plants provide food and beauty.

Dewberries.
When we get a nice, wet spring, we get lots of berries. I'm in competition with the birds, deer and rabbits to get to them. Gathering enough for a pie requires gloves. Just picking one or two for snacking can be done with a steady hand.
Prickly Poppy.
I'm surprise Disney hasn't come up with an evil queen with this name.
Beautiful and evil, all at the same time.

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom.
Each bloom produces a fruit that is made into jelly. Not by me though, wwwaaaayyyy too much painful work for a not-very-tasty jelly.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Origami Swami

James is a multifaceted person.
He is the youngest in our family, although he would argue that the chickens and dogs are younger than him.
He seems to a blend of his brother and sister, instead of a blend of Lee and me. I wonder how often parents stop to consider that younger siblings aren't only raised by them, but by the older siblings as well. Poor James often has two extra 'parents', plus the typical ribbing that takes place.
On the good side of having older siblings, James has developed many more of his innate gifts because of them. He and Pearl would spend hours working on artistic endeavors when they were littler. Now he works on them all on his own. He makes stop motion movies with Legos. He draws cartoons. He also can get something from a two-dimensional state, to a three-dimensional state. He can look at directions for an origami piece, and in a few minutes he's got it in his hand. I have tried multiple times to make a 'Peace Crane'. I ended up with several pieces of wadded up paper in the trash and wasn't feeling very peaceful. The large star in the picture is 48-sided. Forty-eight. He made several of them for our Christmas tree this year. He took some to school and someone dared him to make one out of
1 x 1 inch paper. No problem. It is exactly to scale by half. It has 24 sides.
The thing is, this sort of art is where he begins to be like Tom. Origami, is in a sense, mechanical. Tom is mechanical. He's math minded. He and Lee have taken apart our computers like fathers and sons used to take apart cars. Tom is who first introduced James to Legos. Legos are art melded with function. Legos have morphed into so much more, and James has followed. They now have a robotics division in Legos. He wants to know how things work, much like Tom. He's also followed Tom's lead when it comes to sports. Thankfully, he followed Tom into soccer instead of bowing to the Texas god of Football.

Some could argue that Tom and Pearl got some of their gifts from Lee and me. I guess they'd be right. Still, for better or for worse, older siblings influence who the younger siblings will grow up to be. Right now James wants to design engines and cars, or play professional soccer when he grows up. Maybe he'll do both.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Love Surprises!

Back in November, I received a coffee cup in the mail. For quite some time, I didn't know who'd sent it. It took a bit of detective work to discover that it was my brother-in-law, JD, that had sent it to me.
I also reported in that post how JD and Lee have a silly side, that not everyone gets to see. Case in point. Back in December, JD sent me a picture and dared me to blog about it. In fact, he double-dog dared me. If you've seen A Christmas Story, then you know that you can't be double-dog dared and not step up. My reputation was at stake!
My prize for blogging about it was to be the perfectly-tacky-in-every-way, lamp from the A Christmas Story. Not expecting him to really pay up, I was delighted beyond description when a box from a toy company showed up yesterday. With MY name on it. It was as though I had received the "Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells the time". I couldn't locate a lightbulb quickly enough. My joy was only amplified to discover that the lamp lights up in 3 different ways. My only sadness was that we do not possess a picture window on the front of our house, so I can share this lamp with everyone that passes by.
(I have no idea why this whole paragraph is underlined??)

Thanks, JD! You made me quite happy yesterday.
I told JD that the lamp would have a spot in my office, since we don't have the picture window. I changed my mind. In the spirit that Mr. Parker displayed, I put it out in the house so at least our guests can enjoy it.
A bit of trivia about the little boy who played Peter Parker in A Christmas Story, Peter Billingsly. He played an elf in my favorite christmas movie of all time, Elf. For some reason, he was 'uncredited' in the part, although he had several lines.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

The first thing I heard was, "What the heck is that!?" Tom had spied a new visitor to the property, just as we were sitting down to dinner.
I've heard turkeys off in the distance before, but never seen one so close. Between the coyotes and the fire ants, turkeys don't have much chance in this area.
This appeared to be a young tom (aka: a jake).
How could I tell it was a jake and not a hen? Well, the posture in the (very) blurry picture below is one signal. He struck this puffed up pose when he caught sight of my chickens. While I don't know if he's ever seen a chicken, I know for certain that my chickens have never seen a turkey.
He also has a 'beard'. If it were me, I'd be more anatomically correct and call it 'chest hair'--seeing as how the clump of hair is on his chest and nowhere near his chin. The hair looks to be the same texture of a horse's tail. Biologists aren't sure what purpose it serves, other than decoration to attract a female. Females do not have this beard--which is good, because they have no access to Walgreens for razors or Nair.
Both sexes do have snoods and caruncles. Funky words for those fleshy parts they have on their heads. If you'd like to know more about the bird that Ben Franklin suggested should be our national bird, you can open this link.
I hope he comes back. Maybe I can get better pictures of him. When he had sufficiently wandered away from the back yard, I went outside with my camera. He was nowhere to be seen.