Monday, November 30, 2015

Oak leaves in November

Yesterday, on my walk around the local nature park, I admired the color of the oak leaves, about the only leaves left on the trees.  After some of the passing clouds cleared out, the afternoon sun lit up the top of this oak, which was very pretty against the blue sky. 

Near the power line where the sun could develop the color, this white oak had some lovely red leaves.  (There is a hickory tree in the foreground--no leaves left on it.)
Of course the evergreens still have leaves as you can see from this view over the lake.  The hollies, which were left for the wildlife, are sporting a heavy crop of berries this year.
I snapped pictures of the turtles, a lovely camellia, and the waterfall.  I only wish I could have captured the beauty of the sunlight shining through the woods on the tan beech leaves.  To me, the effect is magical, but I wasn't able to capture that magic on film.


Sunday, November 29, 2015


Even though I've never shopped one of their stores, I thought REI's idea of closing up shop on Black Friday and getting outside was something I could go along with.  The weather was warmer than normal, perfect for being outside, and I made a few trips over to the local nature preserve this holiday weekend.  I managed to time it well enough to see an airplane from the nearby airport drop some skydivers.  I could actually hear them yelling, "woo hoo" from where I was.  What hotdogs!  Some of them were turning somersaults.  I was content to watch from the ground.

Hope you had a chance to get outside this weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

You can't roller skate in a watermelon patch

I just finished reading a couple of posts by a fellow blogger, and I've got thoughts running in all directions (but intersecting at the most unusual points).  He mentioned trying to photograph the full moon with unsuccessful results.  He also mentioned his empathy for soldiers away from home at Thanksgiving.  Well, I tried to snap a picture of the moon as it rose over the highway ahead of us as we came back from Thanksgiving dinner with my family.  You just can NOT take a low-light picture while you're bouncing along the highway (well, at least not if you expect it to look like what you are seeing).  And you can't roller skate in a watermelon patch!  I thought that was the phrase from a Roger Miller song, a song on a cassette that my husband nearly wore out when he was in Vietnam.  Actually the song says you can't go fishing in a watermelon patch and you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd (or swim in a baseball pool or take a shower in a parakeet cage or drive around with a tiger in your car or change film with a kid on your back--and I guess kids these days don't know what it means to "change film" in a camera).
So, here is the full moon above headlights and tail lights.

But it is possible to take a picture of the sunset while you're at a stop sign (especially if you ask the driver to pause a moment).
Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

An errand to Walmart

I am not a good shopper.  I have a hard time making simple decisions, and there I stand trying to decide if the difference in price is worth a product that doesn't have TBHQ or should I get the larger quantity that's cheaper per unit, but might not be used in a timely manner or will just add up to a bigger bill right now, and on it goes. 
Then I have to notice the other customers.  I'm gratified that there seems to be a push to crackdown on shoplifters in the cosmetic sections.  I could go bananas watching people opening products to sniff the scent or even sampling them.  Speaking of sampling, people eating grapes they haven't paid for is a pet peeve of mine.
Then usually there are children who just haven't been taught to behave or are fretful for one reason or another.  I'm astounded at the number of kids who haven't been instructed not to touch the merchandise.  Today I saw a pudgy little fellow who didn't look like he was much more than 2 1/2 shaking some cake sprinkles for all he was worth.  When his mother finally called, it didn't sound to me as if she were in the habit of making him mind on the first call.  I was on to another aisle, but a few minutes later, I saw him in his grandmother's cart.  He was not a happy camper!  The little red face was in the most unhappy contortion, his mouth was wide open and in the deafening silence that comes just before that blood curdling scream.  I saw the silence lasting longer than I thought.  Maybe he wasn't going to scream after all.  Alas, just about the time our carts met, he let loose.  On and on he went.  I thought I had better wind up my trip; my nerves were way too jangled to make a decision.
I did see a couple of well behaved girls.  One showed the other a dime on the floor, but for whatever reason they chose not to pick it up.  When I came back up the aisle and the dime was still there, I picked it up and gave it to their mother with an explanation.  The mother gave it to the younger girl and thanked me. 
On the way home, I reminisced about my own little fellow (who is now a very big fellow).  My husband and I were fairly strict disciplinarians in the first place, but our little guy made some things easier on us because of his easygoing personality.  Then I thought of the time that he fussed and I just could not properly handle the situation.  We were on a vacation (a rare enough thing for us) and we had stopped at the Mayfield Dairy in Tennessee.  We were just in time for the last tour of the day.  I thought all was going well till we had to put on hairnets.  All of us.  If I had advance notice to prep darling son, he (not being especially active for a boy) could behave in all kinds of situations, but we were totally blindsided with the hairnet thing and he DID NOT want the hairnet!  I'm sure the other people on the tour were not very pleased.  I don't really remember getting any judgmental vibes; I just remember being so flummoxed because it was an unusual situation.
I happened to get home just at the same time as darling son.  Still an easygoing fellow.  He helped me unload the groceries.  As I put away the 4 cans of corn, I realized I had forgotten to use my "$1 off 4" coupon! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The hand-me-down mailbox

Our mailbox finally bit the dust.  The box itself (a plastic one that had been here over 20 years) was punctured by the hail back in April, and the post itself was rotting off at about ground level as posts will do.  My neighbors upgraded mailboxes after the hailstorm, and I took their old one, which still had some use left in it.  I had procrastinated about putting it up, but my hand was forced when I saw my box was completely down Thursday afternoon.  I dug a hole with a transplant spade, which is a lot easier on the elbows, wrists, and forearms than a post hole digger.
I pried my neighbors' house number off the post.  (We have enough mix-ups without adding to the confusion.)  I guess I will need to get new numbers soon.
Darling son took the old mailbox and post to the dump this morning.  I just need to find some time to weed around the clematis that grows by the mailbox.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Parachuting beavers?--not just an urban legend

Occasionally, I will come across a story that sounds too strange to be true, but which actually is true.  Parachuting beavers?  Yep, it happened.  I enjoyed reading the story, the related backstory and watching the imbedded video. 
Can you imagine the little beavers listening to the story about how Grandpa and Grandma flew on an airplane to get here.  Okay, I guess that's taking it a little too far.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A day off for the veteran

My husband had today off, and we enjoyed a change of pace.  I thought the day was starting off successfully when I realized the snap trap that sprang last night had TWO small mice in it.  Two in one blow--never had that to happen before. 
We went grocery shopping together to take advantage of a Veteran's Day discount.  (I actually did the shopping while he poked around looking at this and that.  Occasionally I would spot him in another area looking at the merchandise.)
Then I talked him into taking a walk on another section of the Neuse River Trail.  This is the first sunny day we've had in a long time, so it was especially nice to get out.  This part of the trail is close enough to a major highway that there is the constant noise of traffic, but the scenery was very nice.

Then we ate at a restaurant which had a free entrĂ©e for vets.  He also got a free donut and a free car wash. 
It's been a good day for us.  I hope yours has been, too.

Monday, November 9, 2015

My favorite mandolin player

I just came across some videos of my son, Caleb, playing his mandolin.  I believe this was a bluegrass band competition in Southern Pines last month.  He has moved on from this band, but you can bet he's still picking whenever he gets a chance.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Ways with carrots

I see part of my duty as "household nutritionist" to figure out a way to get my husband to eat his carrots, which he claims "ain't got much flavor."  My most successful strategy is to grate them into slaw with the cabbage.  Probably the next most successful strategy is to grate them and add them to soups.  (I especially like them grated in split pea soup or navy bean soup.)  I have had a little success with a couple of other ways recently.  I sliced them and microwaved them in a little water.  I used two different seasoning groups, and both were eaten.

Group I
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • brown sugar
(I probably should have also used a little cayenne and a little LESS brown sugar.  I cooked the carrots until tender and till all the water was absorbed.  I usually start out with 1 minute on high before adding the butter.  After that I usually do intervals between 30 seconds and 1 minute at 50% power, stirring after each interval.  It takes several minutes to get them to my liking.)

Group II
  • sage
  • butter
  • elephant garlic (just a little; I started to say "a little elephant garlic," but that made it sound like a small elephant rather than a small amount of garlic)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • extra sharp white cheddar cheese
(I added the little chunks of cheese near the end of the cooking time.  I had gotten the sage leaves from Mom.  Twice she has given me a sage plant which did not survive here.  I have no idea why it died.  Hers does swimmingly.)

Do you like carrots?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Time change and less daylight

Switching back and forth to Daylight Saving Time used to bother me in the spring when we would "lose" an hour.  But now, both the spring and the fall change seem to get me a bit off kilter.  The daylight hours are getting shorter anyway, so when I hang clothes on the line, I have to tell myself that even though the clock says 9:00, it's just like last week's 10:00, so they will not have as long to dry.  Not that I've been able to dry any clothes on the line this week.  I hang them on the line only to bring them in wet when they get drizzled on.  It didn't drizzle today, but it was cloudy and the clothes were still damp at sundown.  Some people not far west of here were getting sunshine this afternoon, so hopefully we'll see some here by tomorrow.  At first the forecast was for rain Monday and drizzle Tuesday, and then partly cloudy Wednesday.  It seemed that every time I looked, the drizzle was extended another day.  Hopefully, we're done with that for a few days.
Here's what's been going on in the backyard.
I transplanted some elephant garlic from my Mom's garlic bed.  (I don't know what caused the crater.  It doesn't quite look like a dog track.  It just looks like a miniature sinkhole.)
I added more leaves to the compost pile.
I have a small patch of turnips and collards.

And the one volunteer zinnia which I covered when we had our frost has been rewarding me with lovely pink blooms.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Oriental persimmons

Growing up, I knew persimmons as the fall fruit that was used in one way--persimmon pudding.  Persimmon pudding is a syrupy sweet, dark, dense, baked pudding.  If you think about fluffy puddings such as banana pudding or instant puddings, you are in the wrong category for persimmon pudding. 
Persimmon trees, in my experience, just grew on their own but were guarded as diligently as was a planted tree if they yielded a good quality fruit.  The fruit could vary quite a bit from one tree to another.  Mom happens to have one that has an excellent fruit. 
The fruits are good fresh, provided you let them fully ripen, and a light frost is thought to sweeten them.  That was the other thing about persimmons.  They are renowned for their astringency and everyone knew if you ate them green it would "turn your mouth inside out."  The persimmon I was most familiar with was the small persimmon that is native here (in the eastern US).  However, I knew of one Oriental persimmon, though I didn't really know what the fruit was at the time.  On the route to my school, there was a lovely little house whose brick walls were painted a light green color.  Random bricks were turned to protrude beyond the wall surface, which gave the house a unique look.  Between the little semi-circle drive and the street, there was a bush which held lovely orange fruits.  I thought the whole scene was wonderful.  (Amazingly, all these years later the house is still there and is still a light green, though the little persimmon bush is gone and the property is not as well maintained.  Perhaps the tree that is there now is what started out as the little bush.  I don't think I ever see fruit on it now, though.  Another thoroughly amazing thing is that I can look up the street view on Google Maps and see that little house at any time--technology I wouldn't even have imagined back then.)
I decided I might have room on my property for an Oriental persimmon tree since they are supposed to take up less space than the native persimmons.  I planted one and it has borne fruit, but in my estimation it doesn't hold a patch on the native persimmon.  The mockingbird seems to like it, and one year I let the bird have them.  One blogger I know said he considered it a more "delicate" flavor.  Okay, I tried to think of it as delicate rather than watery or anemic.  I'm still not convinced that it's quite worth the effort I've put in to caring for it, but I did decide to pick the few that I had this year before the birds got them.  I only had a few.  I don't know if the hailstorm affected the number of blooms or whether the blooms dropped for some other reason.  Sometimes they tend to drop off in a dry spell.  I ate one and it had a stringy texture and watery consistency (but a "delicate" flavor!).  Then I came across a blog that had a "Quinoa Pudding with Orange Blossom Water, Persimmon and Pistachios."    That looked interesting.  Maybe I will have to rethink the Oriental persimmon.
Here are the fruits along with a very small green tomato.
I picked those two before the first frost, but left this one till this week.  It had split a little, maybe from the rain we've had recently.
The leaves turn a nice yellow in the fall.  When I took this picture this evening, I noticed a fourth fruit still in the tree.  I started to pick it, but since it was split, too, I decided to leave it for the birds.