Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Incredible Edible Dandelion

I don't know how often you go out to the lawn to pick dinner, but you could.

I have been reading "The Wild Food Trailguide" by Allen Hall and have found that we are surrounded by edible plants. We could, if you so chose, probably live off of the wild plants and 'weeds' in our yard.

While many people have their yard sprayed to kill these 'unsightly' weeds, having learned more about them I feel pretty good about having them around.

Every part of the dandelion can be used for food. In early spring the leaves can be eaten liked cooked spinach (though once they flower they're said to be way too bitter for most palates). The flowers are used to make dandelion wine and the roots? You can make coffee from them.

The book says Indians (and settlers I assume) would roast the white root until brown, grind up, make a coffee like drink. The roots can also be sliced and cooked like a turnip.

So I hope, like me, the next time you see pesky weeds in your garden you'll rethink their presence.

Weed Free Garden

Last year friends and neighbors raved about our beautiful garden. The biggest difference between our garden and theirs was not what we grew, or how we grew it, but that our garden was virtually free of weeds, offering a beautiful, as well as a bountiful, garden.

It's not that I work harder than those other gardeners, in fact I tend to be on the lazy side. The secret to a weed free garden is in the preparation. A little work in the spring saves hours and hours of weeding on your hands and knees, and eliminates the need for toxic chemicals and sprays.

In the top photo, our tomato plant is
started and planted, but after several days of record heat, then rain, then sunshine, you can see the little weeds are starting to sprout alongside the fruit.

This is the time I take that huge stack of newspaper I've been saving and spread it on top of the weeds (I don't pick them, just block precious sunlight from them). Then I top the newspaper off with a few handfulls of dirt to keep it from blowing about. After that I hose down the paper to make it wet, adding weight to it and making it stick together and to the ground.

Once the garden is covered with wet newspaper I cover that with some compost. Straw, wood chips, shredded paper or mulch do the same thing, but since we have compost we get for free, that's what we use.

Once the newspaper is topped off (picture 3) the garden is beautiful and weed free.

We continue to cover the top layer with grass cuttings (from our bagger mower). The newspaper, unlike plastic, will rot on it's own and add to the garden.

A few weeds will poke up here and there, but for the most part, we're weed free for the summer.
Now how easy was that?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kayak in the Rain

Despite the rain, my neighbor and I braved the elements and went kayaking this morning (wild & crazy women that we are).
The ride reminded me of the last time it flooded and with banks swelled, the water was very swift. There was a group of ducks that would float downstream in what appeared to be a high speed duck race. They'd zoom down around the creek bend, then would fly back up stream and race one another again.
If you're reading this, oh dear neighbor, there was a better closeup of you and your reflection on the water, but the scowl on your face from my taking your picture did no justice to your major cuteness! Next time, smile, you're on Pooh Pooh's Candid Camera.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Since they're calling for five straight days of rain, today seems like a perfect day to de-stuff.

Stuff, stuff, stuff. Why do we acquire so much stuff? Then, when when we no longer need it, we save it..."just in case."

I got rid of those piles of jeans that I hoped to one day shrink back into. Being over 40, I have realized the chance of me being a 6 or and 8 again is probably not going to happen. Not without giving up all good food, alcohol and having to work out intensely every single day for the rest of my life. Thus, out with the 6's and 8's and acceptance of the 10s and 12s. Not only is my closet cleaner and roomier, I think my mental body image is much better. Looking at all those skinny clothes gets depressing. Instead, I am trying to be healthy and fit, not just a size (skinny).

Being a coffee lover I get many coffee mugs for gifts. In addition to my 13 collectible Hull mugs (I have the drip ware set), I have 12 fake drip ware mugs (should I really USE the collectible... yeah, I decided I should), then there is the M&M mug from NYC, the frazzled mug from Mothers Day, etc. In the end, I must have more than 50 mugs. How to decide? the fake mugs go, the gifts and collectible mugs stay, yet that still leaves me with more than 20 mugs... one step at a time, I am minus 12 at least. Maybe my daughter, moving into her first home, can use the gift mugs?

Thus it goes, from room to room. Much more stuff than a family of 3 needs.

The picture, by the way, is of the servants staircase at Wheatland, home of James Buchanan, Pennsylvania's only president, and the guy who is most famous for being the countries worst president ever.

Simple Things

One thing I have always enjoyed doing is taking pictures. Now that cameras have gone digital, this is a much cheaper hobby. With no film to buy and develope I feel free to take as many pictures each day as I see fit.

Yesterday, as we do every day, we played stick with Honey, who loves to play fetch over and over and over and over again. While she fetched, Mo took the opportunity to begin his frog hunting expedition in the just emerging lily pads. Our three legged old man, Gus, prefers to sit upon the bank and make nasty growls and nips at the other two dogs while they're having fun. Yeah, he's gotten pretty cranky in his old age. I think it just pisses him off that he is not the toughest and faster fellow on the block anymore.

I love the closeup of Honey, you can see in her intent gaze just what she's thinking, "Throw the stick, throw the stick!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Floating Home

I often take pictures of the water from our house. This picture is fun, as it's of our house from the water (peeking out behind the weeping willow).
And for Mudpuppies (you know who you are)- note that I also have hand painted clogs, and I think mine are the nicer pair. Don't you?

Lily Pads on Penns Creek

The shiny things on the water are lilies just starting to sprout. In due time they will cover a vast area of the water off the bank. Once they are full sized they will offer a floral bouquet as well as shade to tad poles and sunny pads for frogs to rest on.
My dog, Mo, will spend many hours in the lilies on frog hunts. Buried in lilies, nothing but the curl of his thin black tail will assure he is indeed amidst the pads. This is a funny event, as he often catches frogs (sometimes 2 at a time), but has no idea what to do with them once he has them. He holds them gently in his mouth -legs peeking out here and there, then places them upon the shore where he pokes them with his nose, encouraging them to jump, jump, jump away and back into the water so the game can begin anew.
I haven't discourage this hunting, as the frogs seem to come out no worse for wear than before their capture and release, and it makes for some good laughs for watchers of the sport.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Morning Paddle on Penns Creek

While most of the world is bustling off to school and work, I start my day in a kayak.

There is a different beauty in a morning ride than in the afternoon, evening or a weekend. In the morning, I am alone on the water, and –it feels, alone in the world. In the silence of morning I can take the forty minute float from the local dock to my own front door.

With the rising sun in front of me, the view is different from any other time of day. The world, which yesterday afternoon was the lime green one only sees in spring, is black and white in the morning. With the sun behind the world, everything is a silhouette of black and white, everything except the reflections on the water which reveal the colors of nature on the mirrored water.

I brought my little digital camera today. And though in the light, I cannot see what I am shooting through the screen on the back of the camera, I hold it steady, take blind aim, and shoot.

When handled lightly, a kayak makes very little noise as it moves through the water. The paddles make less noise than a jumping fish. Thus, until you are upon them, the creatures don’t scurry. Yet the Canadian Geese, ever guarding of their new goslings, spot me from a distance and begin to make a fuss. I paddle left, trying to offer them some security but they bark and holler and move away quickly.

A lone duck sits in the shallows bobbing for a breakfast of what I assume is water weeds. Or is it a loon? Its shape says duck, yet I have been unable to match his markings in my bird books: black and white with a red head.

While raccoon tracks mark the muddy edge, and trees have been trimmed by the bank beavers, I have yet to see either this spring.

A small fish floats dead upon the water, and though I don’t fish, I wonder if these waters are too polluted to provide food? A sad thought; is the water polluted water everywhere?

When the creek forks I know I am almost home. Though the water doesn’t not separate into different veins, it finds its way around the island that forces it to meander it’s way around it.

I take a left, round the bend, and head toward the bank.

Dragging the kayak on shore, I look forward to the hot coffee I left brewing while I paddled.

Yes, this is how I will start my day until the weather won’t allow it.