Planting Season?

The Burpee seed catalog came a few days ago.

I decided to try an experiment I saw on Facebook.

These two are unrelated, unless you consider that fact that I am Daisy, the one who approaches new experiences and ideas with, “Hey, could I grow that?”

I haven’t opened the catalog yet, but it won’t be long. I might start with a quick inventory of seeds I already own. I reorganized my seed collection last August to make inventory easier.

The Facebook experiment came in the form of a short video. Lop off the base of a head of leafy lettuce, soak it in water for a week, and then plant it. Easy, right?

I cut off pieces from two kinds of bunny food:- romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce. Each hunk of lettuce got dropped into a wide mouth canning jar with a few inches of water. Then, good gardener that I am, I waited. And I waited. I kept looking for roots to grow or signs of sending out shoots from the bottom. Nothing. I waited the seven days and a few more, and still saw nothing in the way of rooting material.

Chuck commented, “At least they’re not dead,” which prompted me to back off a little. Sure enough, he’d noticed new growth at the top of each lettuce head. I’d been looking at the bottom. I decided to try the next step: planting.

Small, but very green, this has potential.

I also planted a few green onions. The onions have root balls, but they’ve been sitting in the cold garage since late October. I don’t know if they’ll grow or not. With that in mind, I also planted a toothbrush.

A toothbrush?

Yes, people, I planted a toothbrush. While I monitor the scallions in the hopes that they’ll thaw and grow, I’ll also monitor a toothbrush. My sister-in-law passed it on to me, saying it was supposed to be biodegradable and would I please test it? Of course! I left a little bit sticking out so we can observe and evaluate the process. Heck, it works with tongue depressors and craft sticks.

And now, I wait. There’s a catalog to browse while I let the greens grow and the toothbrush decays.

Readers, do you plant indoors? Have you tried any of the lettuce experiments?

 

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Deal? Read the Tags. All the tags.

I’ve been considering putting a few lights in the backyard. I’m not talking about extending power to the garden patch, but just a few stakes with solar-powered lights in them. I would then be able to take out compost after dark without tripping.

I bought an inexpensive wind chime that had such a light in it, and the darn thing never worked. I guess I got what I paid for in that case.

When I saw the tiny (about 6 inches tall) canning jar facsimiles in a specialty store, I thought about getting a few.

Cute. Very cute.

I looked more closely. The adorable little mason jars with solar-powered lights inside were available at a cost of $8 each. Oh, my. That’s a little steep, considering I want several.

111Cuter up close.

Also prominently stamped on the tag: Made in China.

No, thanks. Maybe I can convince my engineer husband to rig something up using mason jars I already own. Chuck, what do you think?

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Potential Violence – Too Close to Home

It can happen anywhere. That’s the scary part.

Earlier in the day, Amigo mentioned he’d heard a news update of a suspicious package at Trump Tower in New York City. The situation cleared up shortly after that announcement. I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t want to live in a Trump property right now.”

In the early evening hours, as I was texting with my sister-in-law, I saw an update come up on Facebook. It was from a teacher friend.

Scare at the mall. Got a call from daughter that everyone was to evacuate and police are there. Anyone know what’s going on?

Over the next hour, we learned that police had been called to the mile-long shopping center we locals call The Mall. Stories varied: evacuation, shelter in place, welfare check, possible suicide attempt. One, two, or even three people with weapons, thought to be guns.

It seemed each and every news outlet had a statement. Limited statements, of course, were released because there wasn’t a lot of official information. I thought to myself, “As teachers, we train for incidents like this, but danger can happen anywhere.”

I’ve trained in Non Violent Crisis Intervention. I’ve intervened in fist fights between kids bigger than I am. I’ve taken what we call “ALICE” Training – Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. In terms of a large place like a mall, with crowds of individuals and strangers, it’s a whole different situation.

A woman who had been in the mall’s food court mentioned two groups of young people arguing and flashing “signs” at each other. She moved her young children away from that area, and soon afterward heard an emergency announcement. Gang fight? I thought to myself, “I know we have gangs in our city. I’ve worked closely enough with our liaison officers to know they’re here.”

Another statement came out – rumor? Maybe? – that two people were in custody, and police were looking for a third. And then we heard that police were seeking a man who might have had a gun and might have been headed for the mall. That individual was not found, or wasn’t at the mall to begin with. I thought to myself, “A crowded public place, seeking an individual who may or may not be dangerous, and in the meantime hundreds of folks are scared to pieces.”

Eventually, my friend posted in large font that her daughter had been evacuated and was on the way home. It’s a relief to her, to her family, and to all of us who fear the growing violence in our world getting all too close to home.

I’m not a mall shopper. I’d rather browse the clearance racks at a local department store that doesn’t anchor a mall. I’d rather support our downtown’s small businesses. I’d rather shop vintage and even thrift stores. And now? I’m even less likely to head to our local mall.

I fear – well, I’m less fearful about the random shooter style violence and more fearful that nervous people will take the law into their own hands. I fear that folks who celebrated the passage of a state concealed carry law will carry weapons with them when they go shopping. I fear that those carrying guns will cause more violence rather than prevent it.

I’ll pick up a newspaper tomorrow morning, but the most important news came over Facebook minutes ago. My friend’s daughter arrived safely at home.

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It’s all in the fortune cookies.

Chuck is a tolerant sort. He knows I have trouble throwing away the fortunes from the cookies that come with Chinese take-out food. When I cleaned out my work desk last spring, I found two (only two!) in my main desk drawer. A few days ago, we ordered Chinese for lunch at work. As we gathered together away from our desks, we shared both the humorous and the thoughtful on the little slips of paper in the cookies.

Mine.

Mine.

I might have more faith in it if there were more than two weeks left in the current year.

2016 has definitely been a roller coaster. The apocalypse of November 8 was a highlight, er, lowlight on the calendar.

Now, to the future. 2017 has the potential to bring to reality all the fears of 2016. The question: how can I resist the negative? Where are the best opportunities for activism, opportunities that will have an impact?

Meanwhile, I’ll settle for a photo of this fortune. I don’t need to keep it any longer. In two weeks, it’ll be history.

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Busy, Busy, Busy!

I haven’t posted lately because we’ve been – yep, you guessed it – very busy. Let’s skim the high points.

Chuck has a new job! He’s no longer making sure the news gets on the air. He is no longer driving and running and repairing live trucks and satellite trucks. He is now installing electrical components in brand new fire trucks. He’s been training for a week now, and it looks like this job is a fabulous fit for him. His official title is Electrician, Fire Truck Division.

Maybe he’ll actually enjoy the NFL playoffs this year instead of huddling in a corner crying out “No, no, don’t send me on the road again!”  

In other news, it’s Christmas concert season for Amigo and the barbershop chorus! He’s already sung in two shows in two weeks, and the third comes up in a few days. He looks very festive in his elf costume, and his sense of humor keeps rehearsals light.

For example, consider the following. Dress rehearsal at the restaurant that will host the Barbershop Bistro. Risers are set up, guys are in place, lights are adjusted. Director scans the chorus and asks, “Is there anyone who can’t see me?” Think on this for a minute.

Amigo, he of the white cane club, gleefully raised his hand. The chorus members were beside themselves with laughter. When I picked him up two hours later, the guys were still chuckling. He livens up a party, all right, my Amigo.

My holiday shopping spreadsheet is in place, and I’m filling in the blanks. Wrappings and trimmings and trappings are organized and ready for use. The Christmas music CD collection is accessible – those albums not on my desk at work, that is.

The O.K. Chorale is settled in for the remainder of December. The blog might even reflect that – when I have time.

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Action

In the words of others, it sounds easy.

It’s time to turn our anger into action.

Take one action each day. Write a letter. Send a postcard. Make a phone call. This friend posts her “One Thing” on Facebook and shares opportunities for others to join her in staying active. One Thing.

Speak up when you can, Show up where you can, and Stand up with whomever shares your values. This activist friend used this, her new motto, as the heading in her email. The email continued with an upcoming event at which she hopes many will show up, stand up, and maybe even speak up.

From The Art of Non Conformity, I found this gem:

We’re not going to change the world, but you can. You are the only life you have ownership of. You are self-governing and can use whatever powers you have for good.

From a leader of our local teachers’ union came a similar thought.

I cannot go back and change history; while Act 10 and recent elections may not have resulted in our favor, I can control my mental well-being. There are plenty of attacks on public education that are trying to derail its progress and undermine its significant importance. I do not need to be one of the complainers. My goal is to initiate positive conversation and look at the glass as half full.

In the words of others, it sounds easy. Correction: when I listen to others, it reminds me that taking action isn’t easy, but it is important. No, not important: essential. I will see the glass as half full, not half empty, and stand up and speak up to keep the contents of that fragile glass in place.

Pour me a cold one, someone, half full if you must. And then fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a very, very bumpy ride.

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To-do, Ta-dah! and Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo

To do tonight: Visit Kwik Trip. Fill minivan’s gas tank, pick up a dozen eggs, and buy a snow brush. Mine disappeared last time Chuck borrowed the minivan for a weekend.

Ta-dah! Chuck starts his new job tomorrow! He’s no longer in the television industry. He’ll be building fire trucks instead. He’s looking forward to the change, and we are, too.

Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo: It’s the most wonderful time of the year to share my holiday music collection at work. My coworkers have been very accepting of my playing Christmas music as performed by brass groups, pop singers, a capella  singers, and just about every genre that plays or sings the songs of the season. Only one puts on his headphones as soon as I arrive. Scrooge. I turn off the speakers and put on my headset as the clock approaches official work time.

I’ve also had fun sharing videos with my virtual students. I use a safe-tube service to eliminate comments and ads (you’d be appalled to know what kind of garbage is out there), and I’m respectful of  my students’ many beliefs. In sharing music, my goals include encouraging my students to log into class on time, quieting the chat before class, and starting class on a positive note.

To-do: I haven’t logged into my school account during the weekend. I like to get some grading done at home whenever I can. I have to balance that, however, with my own need for rest and respite, a.k.a. sanity. This item may or may not become a Ta-dah!

Meanwhile, Amigo is helping Chuck get supper ready. The Packers won, and we’re looking out over the first snow of the season. Life is good.

Readers, what’s a ta-dah! in your life?

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Attitude. And a blind sense of humor.

I almost – almost – feel for the director of Amigo’s barbershop choir. But really, he set himself up for this one.

Director Man had the risers set up, the festive scenery in place, and the lights on the choir. He stepped back, looked over the group, and asked, “Is there anyone who can’t see me?”

Without a pause, Amigo raised his hand, the hand not holding his white cane, and the choir erupted with laughter.

They were still chuckling when I arrived to pick him up two hours later. Spark plug, indeed. They’ll have a hard time picking a new recipient for that award!

Amigo in his Elf costume

Amigo in his Elf costume

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Depression Cake – another variation

Here’s the original recipe.

Depression Cake
(Named for a historical time period, not the illness)

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups strong coffee
2 cups raisins or currants or chopped dates
½ cup applesauce
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)
Powdered sugar for garnish (or serve with whipped topping)

Preheat oven to 350.
In large saucepan, combine granulated sugar, coffee, raisins, and applesauce. Simmer 10 minutes. In large bowl, blend remaining ingredients, except powdered sugar. Stir raisin mixture into flour mixture. Pour batter into well-greased and floured 13 by 9 pan. Bake at least 30-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whipped topping.

Adapted from a recipe in a California Raisin cookbook put out at least fifteen years ago.

Here’s how I really made it. The apple preserves are more like a homemade and home canned apple pie filling. I’d made cranberry sauce that morning, so the saucepan had some stuck to its sides, leaving a hint of cranberry flavor.

Depression Cake
(Named for a historical time period, in the hopes that our leaders learn from the past so as not to repeat it)

2 cups granulated sugar
Strong coffee and apple preserves, enough to make 2 cups
1 cups raisins
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. each ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.
In large saucepan (still sticky with cranberry sauce), combine granulated sugar, coffee, raisins, and apple preserves. Simmer 10 minutes. In large bowl, blend remaining ingredients. Stir raisin mixture into flour mixture. Pour batter into well-greased and floured 13 by 9 pan. Bake at least 30-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with whipped topping.

Adapted from a recipe I’ve had for years – I never make it the same way twice, but it’s always delicious.

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Jar Variety

The batch of jars from a recent estate auction contained some interesting variations in size and shape. Several were the basic half-pint jelly jar size and design. Some were different.

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Old fashioned lid - slightly odd shape

Old fashioned lid – slightly odd shape

Some had the word “freezer” embossed on them. Most were Ball; a few said Kerr. Two or three lids, the solid gray lids – does anyone know what they’re made of? I’ve seen lamps and hanging lights made from jars with this type of lid, so I’m not quite ready to throw them away.

For now, I’m sorting and storing those that are clean and suitable for food storage. The others might become…well, who knows? It’s all part of the fun of finding and procuring and using old jars.

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