Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cauliflower nubbin

A couple of the cauliflowers that I planted too late did produce nubbins.  If the weather were milder, they would probably grow a little more, but the forecast is calling for 25° this coming Thursday, which will be a little too cold for cauliflower.  I went ahead and picked one nubbin today and ate it raw.  It was a little green at the bottom and had a hotter flavor than ideal, but I can still say I ate a cauliflower that I grew (the first I've ever grown).  It might inspire me to put the effort in to do it right next year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter solstice; mistletoe

Just a couple of things today that are not really related--winter solstice and mistletoe. 
Today is the winter solstice when our part of the world is tilted as far away from the sun as we get.  The daylight hours will begin to increase and the sun will appear higher from the horizon each day.  I usually am really glad to see the days lengthen, but this year the time seems to be whizzing by so fast that I haven't really had time to be affected by the shortness of the daylight.  I picked up a few small fallen branches in the yard today and thought it would have been lovely to have an outdoor fire, but there were too many other things demanding my time.
One thing I did today was to hang a little mistletoe.  Last week, we came across some very lovely mistletoe with wonderful berries.  Darling son used a pole and knocked some out of the tree piƱata-style.  I was delighted.  It has dried considerably over the week, but it was still potent enough to garner me a couple of kisses under it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Last tomato

I got a few green tomatoes off a vine that volunteered in the compost pile.  I let them ripen inside; one or two had a little cold hurt on the shoulders and had to be discarded, but a few gradually ripened and were good to eat.  I sliced the next-to-the-last one today at lunch to put on a roast beef sub sandwich.  We have one more left.  It's a bit of a sport to see if one can still have tomatoes in December here in central NC without a greenhouse.
Here's the last one.  It should be eaten within a day or two.

Monday, December 11, 2017

C9 lights on the topiary

I put a couple of strands of C9 lights on my topiary this afternoon.  Those C9 lights remind me of my grandmother's cedar tree that my dad would string lights on each year for her at Christmas.  Grandma would always be so pleased, and I remember seeing the lights reflected in her wire-rimmed glasses as she looked at the tree.  The tree was a huge cedar that was way too close to the house, but it sure was a delight when it was all lit up.
Here's my topiary cedar.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sights in the sky

Last week, I had the chance to see the International Space Station go over.  I enjoy looking for things like that in the sky.  Last Wednesday, I saw something else in the sky that I had never seen from my house before.  I was out in the yard, and heard a motor in the distance.  It was not from a direction that I usually hear any motorized equipment, and I wondered if it might be an airplane, but it didn't seem to be making swift enough progress to be an airplane, and I dismissed it as a distant tractor.  Later when I realized the sound had indeed come closer, I looked up to see a sky diver with a motorized parachute.  Awesome!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

An arrowhead

On Thanksgiving Day, I was blessed to be able to visit with my parents and all my siblings.  After a tasty meal, I took a walk outside.  Many times I have looked for arrowheads at my parents' property, but it seems my best finds are when I just happen to look down.  That's what happened Thursday, and I found this little arrowhead not far from the back steps.
It's fascinating to me to find something like this and think that someone else made it and used it ages ago.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bonus potatoes

After I harvested my potatoes mid-summer, a few sprouts emerged where I had missed a few.  I let them grow.  Yesterday, I dug them up.  There were some new potatoes that formed on the original missed ones and the missed ones themselves were intact except for one large one that had been gnawed by a rodent.
I thought the largest potato of the ones I dug yesterday was one of the missed ones, but once I washed it, I found the skin was very thin and fragile like a new potato.  It turned out to have a hollow heart, but I salvaged enough to make about 3 half-cup servings for supper from that one potato.  (I cooked it in the microwave.)

It was fun to get the bonus potatoes.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

First freeze

When our first freeze was forecast for Friday night, I gathered the peppers, butterbeans, and Oriental persimmons.  I really didn't know what to do with the persimmons.  They were not ripe yet, and I don't know how cold they can really take it; I also don't know how well they will ripen on the counter.  I left 4 hanging on the tree to see how they would do.  They were lower ones that had a little protection from overhanging branches.
The peppers did well this year and were still producing.  I made a half-hearted attempt to cover the plants with some old row covers, but the plants are a dark mush now.  The French marigolds that got the corners of the row covers seemed to fare considerably better.
The Oriental persimmons produced the most this year they ever have.
I had one last bloom on Lizzie's rose.
I stuck some of the French marigolds in a jug and brought them inside for the 2 coldest nights.  I will leave the bouquet on the porch for a few days.
I was trying to protect this tomato vine that volunteered by the compost pile,
but even with a pile of leaves on the north side and the row cover over it, it is mostly dark mush, as well.  The tomatoes were near the ground and I had covered them additionally with leaves, so I might be able to have some fried green tomatoes.

I also harvested a couple of more mushrooms this past week.
Of course, the collards and kale are thriving in the cooler temperatures.

It's mid-November, so it is time for a freeze.  I spent quite a bit of energy yesterday hauling sycamore and maple leaves to the compost pile.  Most of the leaves are down on the sugar maple and sycamore.  I will probably try to mulch the rest with the mower.  It's time to say good bye to all of summer and parts of fall.  Then it will be time to try to get a handle on some of the weedy vines in the border.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Putting the blues in bluegrass

Last night darling husband and son were at Java House in Bunn, NC.  (I sang a few songs, too.)  They were privileged to have Stan Temple, Jimmy Barrier, and Keith Aiken playing with them as well (on banjo, bass, and dobro).
It was a special treat to have our 87-year-old friend, Matt Nelson, in the audience.  I've been told if he has his pants on, he has a harmonica on him.  He obliged us by singing and playing "Kansas City Blues" and he stole the show.  Here is a snippet of it, posted on the Java House Facebook page.  I think Caleb is playing some pretty mean blues on the mandolin as well.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

End of a mild October

I can hardly believe it's almost the end of October.  The month has zipped by for me.  It has been quite mild, weather wise, and today I pulled off a few of the bell peppers that are still bearing.

I have a small shiitake mushroom on my log.

The pansies are looking colorful.
Hope you've had a good October.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Random thoughts

Darling son just got back from an out-of-town job.  He had some pictures to share, and I was charmed by this adorable covered bridge.

On the home front, I discovered a tasty pairing--cottage cheese and Oriental persimmon.  Perfect.
We're getting some color in the leaves here, finally, a little later because of the warm weather.  This is the sugar maple in the front yard.

October is a pretty month!

Blog comments setting change

I had a couple of people tell me they were not able to comment on my blog, so I have changed the settings.  Hopefully, this will rectify the problem.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Gold panning

Yesterday, darling son and I took a trip and did a little gold panning.  We did not find any gold, but we had a very lovely day.  The weather was perfect, the scenery was nice, and being in the woods was emotionally relaxing.
Here are some pics that Caleb took of our excellent adventure.  (I almost stepped on the box turtle, not even seeing it.  Caleb was walking behind me and spotted it.  I am glad we didn't encounter any rattlesnakes.)

And even when you're in a pine and hardwood forest with laurel thickets along the stream, native yucca on a steep rocky hillside, a box turtle, a black snake, minnows, and fresh water snails, there is no telling what kind of fauna you might see when you get back out onto the highway.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

A light frost--time to cook collards

Wednesday morning we had some frost on elevated surfaces like the car windshields, the roof, and a pile of pine straw.  It was not a "killing frost," but I thought it was a good enough reason to gather a few collard leaves, which are said to be improved by frost, and cook them.  They did not disappoint.
The unusually warm weather that we had which I thought would be a boon to the fall crops ended up being quite the boon to the caterpillars which eat the fall crops, so I have really had to fight them this year.  Hopefully the cooler weather will slow down the pests and we can get more of the greens for ourselves.   

Monday, October 16, 2017

Finally fall

We had a welcomed cold front to move through today.  Finally the air feels like fall.  Here are some touches of fall in pictures.

Goldenrod, aster, coneflower, and azalea...

Some leaves I raked...

Some pine straw I raked and darling husband hauled from the neighbor's yard...

The Oriental persimmon tree...

It's time to adjust our plans to the next season.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Topiary update

I trimmed my topiary recently.  When I glance back at pictures from just a year ago, I can see how much it has filled out.
(October 2017)
(July 2016)
I think I want to put some Christmas lights in it this year.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bluebirds at the water dish

Even though we no longer have a dog, I have maintained the water dish for the benefit of the birds.  Lately I've noticed the bluebirds using the dish for water.  You can see from the picture that one of the birds still has juvenile markings, so it must be from one of the last broods of the season. 
These bluebirds will probably winter here.  I don't know when the migratory birds will leave.  I saw the summer tanager and the cuckoo within the last two weeks.  Maybe they were waiting till the hurricane passed through before they started out to Mexico and South America.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A night at Java House

Last night, darling husband and darling son cobbled together a substitute band for the one that was supposed to be at Java House in Bunn.  It turned out well.  They allowed me to sing a couple of songs too.
The proprietor shot a snippet of video--enough to give you a general flavor.  In the video are Roger Knox and Caleb Knox on guitar and mandolin, John White on guitar, Shelton Smith on dobro, and Tiger Faircloth on bass fiddle.  It was a nice community venue with a generous audience.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Daylily 'Final Touch' delights again

Here is a picture of my daylily 'Final Touch' that I took on September 29.  Each flower is sporting an extra petal.
When I bought the daylily a few years ago, I gave my mom one of the divisions in the pack.  When we talk on the phone, we give each other reports on the latest blooms.  I've had a few blooms this week, and I have 2 more buds yet to open.  It's a great plant.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A bluegrass weekend

This past Saturday, I had the chance to enjoy some of the bluegrass music in downtown Raleigh, part of the International Bluegrass Music Association festival.  It was an enjoyable afternoon.  Sunday, I enjoyed more bluegrass when Carolina Tradition, a band Caleb recently joined, played for a church barbecue in Wake Forest.  It was a very pleasant experience--good preaching, good food, good music, horseshoes, and a hay bale ride behind a Farmall tractor.
What a nice way to bring in the lovely month of October! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Garden update

Saturday, my neighbor and I bought some fall vegetable plants that were on clearance because the planting season is over.  I was a little leery of buying the plants, which were either pot bound or else too tender because they were still in the greenhouse and not hardened off.  I was also leery about planting them so late, but it's been unseasonably warm, so they may have a chance after all.  Of course, I enjoyed getting out and about and looking at the beauty of the nursery with mums and pumpkins and roses and hydrangeas.  My neighbor suggested if I had done a garden update when I planted my collards she would have known when to plant hers.  Perhaps I've been a little remiss in my updates, so let me rectify that.

The Oriental persimmons are ripening.  I'll have to fight the birds for them.
An opossum or the birds pretty much demolished the muscadines.

Here are the 5 collards I planted on August 22.  They don't look that big, but when compared to the one left in the pack that I didn't have room to plant, it's easy to see they have, in fact, grown some.
I'm still getting some peppers, though the plants are looking a bit wilted.
You can see the nice, thick walls of the green pepper I picked last week, part of which went into an omelet Sunday night.  I haven't been getting tomatoes since the fusarium wilt took over, but I did find a small one that is starting to ripen.  I found the potatoes when I planted the cauliflower plants I bought Saturday.  I had missed just a few when I dug them.
I planted the 6 Russian kale plants that I bought Saturday.  You can see 2 potato plants growing where I missed digging up a couple of tubers back in the summer.
I have a few turnips planted.
That's what's happening in the garden.



Monday, September 25, 2017

A lot of cock

After having lunch with a friend the other day, darling son and I took a little detour so we could get a picture of this mega-sized rooster.  (Caleb's pic)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Yellow-billed cuckoo

Usually beginning sometime in August, we have an infestation of sycamore tussock moth caterpillars in our sycamore tree.  We also have fall webworms--some in the sycamore, some in the Oriental persimmon, and quite a lot in the neighbor's birch tree.  Fortunately, nature has a balance, and the caterpillars attract some predators.  I'm pretty sure I saw a wren eating one of the sycamore tussock moth caterpillars, and the yellow-billed cuckoo has been around as well.  According to Cornell's All About Birds website, "Yellow-billed Cuckoos are among the few bird species able to eat hairy caterpillars."
I have seen the cuckoo in the sycamore but had never been able to get a picture until this afternoon.  I was able to take the picture through the window.  The lighting was low and the picture is not good, but it is evidence that the cuckoo was there.
This is the bird some folks call the rain crow.  I did a post about the rain crow last year.