The Fairies are Back!

Have you wondered what happened to the Fabled Fairies of Thanksgiving? They made an appearance several years ago, along with a Butterball turkey. Covid19 put a stop to family gatherings for a while, but now it’s time for the Fabled Fairies of Thanksgiving to come out of hiding and help us again!

 Thanksgiving Dinner? No problem! I’ll call in the fairies. They’ll do everything.

The laundry fairy washes, dries, and presses the table linens, including the cloth napkins. If she’s feeling generous, the sheets and towels might get folded, too.
The turkey fairy will practice her specialty and make sure the bird is cooked and carved just in time for dinner. White meat and dark, it’ll all be juicy and savory and leave just enough leftovers for sandwiches and a turkey noodle soup.
The baker fairy will take care of pies, pumpkin and otherwise. He’s an expert on flaky crust, selected spices, and the perfect portion of whipped cream. Don’t let that Simple Simon guy get in the way; the kitchen’s too small for anyone who begs to taste the wares.
The brownie — the cunning little house elf — will clean the home thoroughly, put the leaf in the big table, and get the extra chairs out of the basement.
I wouldn’t dream of neglecting the wine fairy: the sommelier so tiny she only recommends, never lifts, a bottle. Her taste is impeccable. Now if we could stop her before she over-imbibes and falls asleep on top of the piano…
Did I mention the decorator fairy? She’ll fix the fireplace mantel with something tasteful and seasonal before she makes sure the couch and rocker are properly arranged for the annual holiday gladiator contests known as NFL football.
The ambiance fairy keeps the wood fire crackling in the fireplace, the aromas wafting deliciously through the home, and the family discussions neutral and apolitical.
The kitchen fairies: really, there must be a whole crew of these talented sprites. One to do the shopping early and avoid the crowds, another to make sure the cranberries are perfect (and local, of course), and a magical maestro with the potato masher. Then we’ll need a feisty fairy, one with attitude — yes, you, Tinkerbell, you can make the coffees.

Mom, you can send the fairies over to my house now that we’re hosting the annual family Thanksgiving dinner. Let them know that I’ll have their room ready and their favorite cookies baked. If they arrive on Sunday there should be enough time to get everything done.

Wait. What do you mean…they’re…not….real?

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Distraction and Harmony

I arrived at the clinic a wee bit nervous for my third ultrasound guided knee injection. Don’t look it up; you’ll shudder. The first was fine, the second a week later more painful, and I imagined the third injection would increase the pain factor.

Well, Expert Doctor asked me how my weekend had been. I told the doc and nurse all about our weekend in the Minnie Apple for barbershop chorus competition. Amigo’s chorus gets better every year. Two of the quartets associated with our chorus came away with trophies, too. Add to that the simple pleasure of being surrounded by vocal music at a high competitive level all weekend long and–

The shot was finished before I knew it started.

On the medical side: I’m walking much better than I was six weeks ago when I could barely cross a room without tears. The set of three injections made a major impact.

On the musical side, the weekend was wonderful. Next up: Veteran’s Day program and Christmas concerts.

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Guerrilla Gardening, Chipmunk Style

 

Rogue Sunflowers

I planted cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and banana peppers in pots on the deck this gardening season. The chipmunks, however, had other ideas.

Indeed, that’s a sunflower – three sunflowers, actually, in with the cherry tomatoes. I didn’t pull them out because, well, sunflowers! I have no idea where the seeds came from. The closest sunflowers I know of are about half a block away. Those chippies sure get around.

Readers, did you get any interesting volunteer plants this year? Any rogue anything?

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Eating the Opponent – The Tradition Continues

The New Orleans Saints were beating the Packers 17-0 when Chuck’s cousin in Texas posted “Did y’all forget to eat the opponent? What happened to the Packers?”

No, we didn’t forget. We had rice and beans with Andouille sausage (yum!) for supper, and we’d ordered Cajun specialties at a nearby pub for lunch on Friday. The Packers just weren’t showing up – yet.

Those of you who follow the NFL know the rest. Jordan Love led the Packers in a dramatic comeback win, 18-17.

This week, we’re working on Detroit. The Lions look good this year (wow), so I hope the Packers show up for all four quarters. We did our part with pasties (good Yooper main dish from the Upper Peninsula) followed by Coney Dogs the next day, with Vernor’s Ginger Ale (first served in Detroit) to drink.

Milwaukee Brewers are playoff bound. It’s early in the season for the Packers, but it’s never too early to start winning. Go! Pack! Go!

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Problem Solving – It’s What I Do.

I ordered a number of books for my Kindle – nothing unusual here. When I’d finished reading one and went to download the next, I discovered something unfortunate: my Kindle did not play nice with the house wifi. Everything else in the house worked just fine with our network, so I knew I didn’t need to reboot the router, yada yada yada, or anything like that. I went for my backup: establish a mobile hotspot with my phone.

Nope. We made some adjustments in our plan recently to save a few bucks, and one of those changes meant that I needed to pay to set up a mobile hot spot. Damn. This would not work.

Last time I had this problem, I stuck my Kindle in my purse when I went to Petunia’s apartment. Her wifi and my Kindle were fast friends. Success! But I can’t impose on Petunia every time I need to download a book. Think. Think. Think. Where can I find free wifi for a few minutes to update my Kindle library?  Coffeehouse, maybe. Local fast food joint. Doc’s office? Convenience store?

We ended up in the parking lot at our credit union. Logged in easily, and then watched the downloads commence. Chatted a little, planned our evening, and when all the books I needed (five – don’t judge me, I read a lot) had finished, we headed home.

Thanks, credit union. If you notice me in the parking lot and I don’t come in, I’ll be downloading Kindle books. Nothing to see here, folks, just a reader who needed a creative solution.

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Football Season Begins! Again!

The NFL season begins as usual at the O.K. Chorale. We get together on Thursday nights to do our picks for the week. The menu for Eating the Opponent comes up for discussion, and we’re set for the weekend. Mostly.

With the routines in place, we gathered the ingredients to Eat Chicago with a home made deep dish pizza. Thick crust from my breadmaker, Italian sausage, peppers, onions, olives, pepperoni, home grown oregano, fresh tomato sauce from garden tomatoes – are you hungry yet? It was delicious and filling. We’ll have leftovers for lunch for a few days, too.

I’m drafting this post midday Sunday (That’s 3:35 in the NFL world), and Amigo is in the lead so far with picks. He has 7, I have 4, and Chuck and the visiting bunny are tied with 3 each. I keep repeating my script “it’s a good thing I don’t do this for money!”

Meanwhile, our Milwaukee Brewers are in the 11th inning of a cliffhanger with a score on 1-0 over the New York Yankees. Any minute now we’ll hear an update on whether they held the Bronx Bombers to a shutout and swept the series  – or not.

Now it’s time to put the computer down and enjoy the Packers competing with their arch-nemesis, Da Bears. Go! Pack! Go!

 

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Memorial Day and the backyard

Ah, Memorial Day. Ceremonies, parades, and somber reminiscence.

And maple seeds. The helicopters have arrived! Chuck saw me picking up a handful and announced, “The Next Season of the Compostermom: Maple Seeds!” and well, he isn’t wrong.

I love the idea that there’s free food in the backyard. I cooked burdock roots a few weeks ago, just to say I did it. The smaller roots were more tender and tasty, so I’ll remember that in the future.

Now that the seeds are falling, I’ll pick up as much as my knees can handle, and I’ll roast them. These roasted seeds can go in anything that might call for sunflower kernels or pepitas or similar yummies. Trail mix, bread, cookies, you name it.

They don’t last forever. Maple seeds are seasonal, at best. I’ll roast as much as I can handle during the next few weeks, and we’ll be set for most of summer.

The Next Season of Compostermom? Probably weeding season. If I want tomatoes (and more!), I need to weed.

Say, readers, do you have a backyard in which to forage? What do you find there?

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Rhubarb galore!

Rhubarb thrives in a cool spring. A snowstorm on the first of May qualifies as cool, if not cold, right? My rhubarb sure thinks so. It’s sending out shoots right and left and center, and going to seed, too. I keep pulling the stalks that are flowering, and the next day I ask myself, “Self, did I miss that one yesterday?” Truth is, the plant wants to reproduce, and it keeps trying.

Yesterday I spent much of the day picking, cleaning, and chopping  rhubarb. I filled the sink with stalks, topped the compost heap with those huge leaves, and ran two batches through the food processor. Eventually, I dumped all the chopped rhubarb into a big bowl and covered it up for the night.

Today I tried three new recipes: Rhubarb Slush, Rhubarb-Ginger Jam, and Rhubarb Pie Filling. The slush was pretty easy. It’s in the freezer now, and I take it out and stir it about once an hour to prevent it turning into a block of rhubarb-flavored ice.

The Jam and the Pie Filling should have been easy. After all, I’ve made jams and jellies for years, and pie filling is just like a chunky applesauce, right? Right – sort of. I managed to print both recipes with metric measurements. Our stubborn United States insists on using the old fashioned “customary” measurement system, so I had to work to interpret the amounts on these two British style recipes. Fortunately, I have a scale that can measure in grams, and my glass measuring cups have metric measures on the side opposite the customary.

The end results were excellent. I’ll definitely make these again. In fact, I may need to do it again in a few weeks if the weather continues and the rhubarb continues to grow like a bush. The metric recipes, in fact, were for small batches. I will probably double them – or more, if the rhubarb plants keep thriving.

Readers, I wouldn’t mind hearing your rhubarb stories. The plant (a vegetable, not a fruit, I’m told) can be legendary.

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The Garden Begins!

My knees hurt.

Why do my knees hurt? We had a couple of really nice days – warm, dry, sunny days – and I knew there would be rain and cold on the weekend. I pushed myself to work outside as much as possible, and now I’m really achy and sore. It’s a good kind of achy, though. It’s the kind that makes me say to myself, “Hey, self, you’ve really accomplished a lot. You’ve earned a rest.” A rest, and a little ibuprofen, and coffee, and peanut m&ms. Right? Right.

During those two nice days I got outside and dumped compost on several sections of garden. I pulled up a lot of creeping ivy (Jenny or Charlie? Don’t know, don’t care), and spread the compost where the ivy had been.

The barrel near the garden edge is planted with spinach now. This barrel, scavenged from my old office before it could hit the dumpster, has grown kale, parsley, and more. This year it’s spinach. Lettuce is ready to grow in a long and thin planter that hangs off the deck railing. That’s an easy location; we can step outside and gather a little for a salad or sandwich any time we want it. Fresh lettuce: yum!

I have some larger pots ready to host peppers (jalapeno, mainly) and cherry tomatoes. The weather isn’t consistent enough to put them out yet, but when it warms up mid-May, I’ll be ready.

Meanwhile, I’ve left Earth Month recommendations behind, but I’m practicing what I preach by preparing to be a little more sustainable every day. Hey, readers, have you started playing in the dirt yet? What are you doing outside?

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Earth Month Continues – catching up

From Earth Month Challenge: 30 Easy Actions:  

Spring Show weekend wore me out, and I didn’t even perform. Let’s catch up on Earth Month actions.

Day 15: Try cold water for laundry. I wash in warm and rinse in cold; I could make the switch for a weekend and see how it goes.

Day 16: Buy an item locally instead at a big box realtor. Sometimes a franchise is locally owned. Hardware stores are good examples. The Ace Hardware on the north side of our fair city is a small but fabulous source when we need to shop there. Their garden center is my favorite place to buy seedlings in May and June, and they always sell out. Nothing from that greenhouse goes to waste.

Day 17: Save or analyze all your garbage for the day. We take pride in the fact that our city garbage bin is the smallest size available. It saves us a few bucks and reminds us to divert whatever we can to recycling, reusing, and composting. I’ve noticed that our wastebaskets fill up mainly with tissues (it is spring allergy season), and the kitchen garbage is scraps that can’t be recycled or composted. If we switched to handkerchiefs or bandannas, we wouldn’t waste all that tissue. Think. Think. Think.

Day 18: Check the thermostat on your water heater. Like washing laundry in cold water, this saves energy.

Day 19: Consider the tea towel. This reminds me of the Swedish dish cloths mentioned earlier this month. I saw a feature on the Today Show with the specialty dish cloths, and I’m almost ready to try them. I could buy a pack for myself and one for La Petite and her fabulous green-freak husband – that is, if they’re not already using them.

Day 20: What to do with old CDs? I’ll be honest, we don’t have many anymore. Remember the olden days when the AOL CDs would arrive constantly in the mail to invite people to join? Not today. But if I find a few CDs past their usefulness in the house, I might attempt a scarecrow and hope it will deter the deer.

Stay tuned for more eco-friendly actions throughout April – or go to Treehugger yourself!

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