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Category Archives: Gardening

Hooray! It’s spring again!  The lovely flowering trees dot the landscape, brightening the days as much as the additional sunshine does.  We bask in the glorious new colors, budding leaves, and the vibrancy of renewed life bursting onto the scene.  Everyday a new surprise as urgent new life unfolds overnight.  Sure, there are the inevitable pollen issues, as our eyes water, and our noses run, but heck, all those beautiful flowers are more than worth it.  When we can see through our swollen eyelids, they’re gorgeous. Plus, let’s not forget, those flowers on those fruit trees mean fruit! Right?

Oh.  Maybe not.  After all, most of those fruit trees in everyone’s front yards are all about the flowers, and don’t actually produce fruit. How sad is that? We get the watery eyes, and runny noses, but no satisfaction of the fruit itself.

I have a proposition for you.  What if everyone who has a flowering fruit tree that doesn’t produce fruit chop it down right after the flowering is over, and cut it up for barbecue smoking wood.  Fruitwood smoked barbecue is delicious! Then, replace the non-fruiting tree with two fruiting trees.  A pair of your favorite type of fruit, or your second favorite type, depending on your yard conditions.  After all, you shouldn’t put cherry trees into places that are mostly wet, because they don’t like getting their feet wet (apple trees love wet yards).  Most fruit trees need a pollinator to give you the fruit you like (plums, pears, apples); unless it’s a self-pollinator.  You can check with a nursery about what types they have in stock, and whether the one’s you want need a partner or not.

I purchased a self-pollinating apricot tree, and a purple fig tree this year.  I have some confidence that both of them can survive this Ohio valley climate, because I saw a full grown fig tree surviving in the mountains of West Virginia a couple of years ago. I just want to plant them somewhere that is a little protected with good southern sun exposure.

I need to find a partner tree for my apple tree that I planted last year.  I bought a scraggly looking apple tree on clearance last year, because I felt sorry for it.  Half of it’s root ball was completely exposed and it was suffering.  I planted it last fall and it survived the winter. It’s putting out new leaves this spring. Yeah!  Now I need to go find it a partner.  It would be joyous to see it producing fruit.

There are a lot of what look like fruit trees in the neighborhood.  They produce lots of flowers in the spring, but I’ve been here for a couple of years now, and they don’t produce any fruit.  I’m going to cut down the non-fruiting trees that are in my property area, and replace them with real fruit trees.  Even if I don’t do the whole farming-pruning-fumigation thing to keep the worms out of the developing fruit, at least they’ll produce fruit for the birds and squirrels, and the bees.

Did you know that bees can use the rotting fruit on the ground to feed on?  Those overripe fruits are producing sugars that the bees can use to make more honey.  Since our yards have so frequently stopped producing fruit, the bees have lost a source of late season sustenance.  Putting real fruit trees back into our yards would add valuable resources to help save our bees. And taking the non-fruiting wood to use for barbecue…  delicious!  I’m going to enjoy that fruit wood smoked flavor this fall.

deceptivelyhot

The title of this post is a bit tongue in cheek.  This  post is really about the weather, or the effects the weather is having on my brain, or both.  You remember that commercial about drugs, and what your brain looks like on drugs?  Well, it turns out that the weather can have the same effect on your brain as a harsh chemical.  There are definitely days when my brain feels like it is frying. Of course, that may be owing to my part-time job.

I currently work as a seasonal employee at Lowe’s, in their outdoor lawn and garden section.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the work; I love this job.  In fact, I love working with the plants so much, that I went back three times to apply for the position, until I finally got hired on.  The fact that I love the job, does not negate the fact that, on hot, sunny days, my brain sometimes feels like it’s frying. It helps some, that there are hats to wear, and I usually have a watering hose in my hands, that frequently leaks, and keeps me cooled off some on the outside.

Even so, I get so involved in watering and cleaning up the plants and flowers, that I sometimes forget to take a break.  Even with all the water in the air, and on my cloths, I still get dehydrated when I forget to take a break.  It’s this sneaky dehydration, from sweating out the liquids and minerals, even though there is a cooling flow of leaky water, that puts my brain in jeopardy, and makes me feel like my head is on fire. But I have experience in the military, and am good at monitoring my own vital signs.  I do remember to take a break, when dehydration symptoms start showing up.  Perhaps it is this which keeps me from a visit to the emergency room, as so many others this summer have found themselves doing.

For instance, my youngest daughter came down with a summer cold, and somehow, it turned into bronchial spasms, just prior to becoming bronchitis.  My youngest daughter is 21 years old, and has never had bronchial spasms before, in her life.  None of my daughters, to my knowledge, have ever had bronchial spasms before. This health malady was a new experience for both of us.  Because the health card was not currently working (that’s another story), we ended up being sent to the hospital emergency room.

On the way to the emergency room, we ended up on a crowded bridge where the traffic wasn’t moving very fast.  My car, this summer, is without air-conditioning.  The lack of speedy forward motion prevented us from getting a good flow of air through the car windows, and it got pretty warm. The warmth and humidity in the air was exacerbating my daughters condition.  She told me she felt like she had a tight collar around her throat, and she couldn’t get it off.  We finally made it to the hospital and got checked in at the desk, and were directed to the waiting area. While waiting, several gurneys came in from the ambulance services, with additional patients. Once checked in at the desk, some of these were also directed to take a seat in the waiting room.  There were several people with heat related maladies. They, as we, waited for hours before being admitted to the emergency services personnel.

Some of us chatted with each other, sympathizing with the situation, and encouraging each other to hang in there. I don’t know if their brains felt fried, but one, who worked at a car wash, had stomach cramps and vomiting so severe that he couldn’t keep anything down, including the water he was trying to drink, and another one, who had been working outside for the previous two days, had muscle cramps in his arms and hands, which caused his fingers and wrists to turn inward and lock up. So many suffering with fried muscles, fried stomachs, and fried lungs,  from excessive exposure to heat, and profuse sweating, (with and without external applications of water)  without enough internal hydration, or replacement of vital minerals and salts.

Whatever is causing this years weather, ozone holes (which they say is healing, now) pre-volcanic earth crust heating, extra moons, or wobbly, eccentric planetary orbits,  it’s hot and humid this summer.  Watch out for yourselves, and each other. Stay hydrated. Add more salt to your diet, to help your body hang on to your water, and eat or drink more foods with high mineral contents, (milk, bananas, potatoes, melons, etc.)  to replace what sneakily gets sweated out, even when you don’t notice it.    Try not to let your brain fry, like eggs on a hot summer sidewalk.

 

Other links you may like:

https://lukeatkins.wordpress.com/about/comment-page-3/#comment-602

https://themusicofpoetry.wordpress.com/category/poetry-2/stanzas/

© Ellen M Lattz and emariaenterprises, llc 2016.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Ellen M. Lattz, and/or blog owner, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M. Lattz, and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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Economy

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I was listening to my daughter and her friend as they talked about their homework.  They had been given a list of movies to watch about wars.  We had just watched Pearl Harbor.  It was a well made movie that neither promoted nor ridiculed war, but simply told a story that gave a decent impression of some of the real human suffering that occurred here in the states, and told some of the reasons for what happened. The fact that Japan had Imperial ambitions in China and needed the oil that was being embargoed was the main reason for their attack on Pearl Harbor.

A world war is never started by just one thing, though there is often enough a catalyst for it.  We have many of the factors in place now for another one to blossom; we are just waiting for the catalyst now.  So let’s look at some of the factors that make for a road to world wide ruin and destruction.  Some of you are probably thinking that the bad economies all over are it, but that’s not enough by itself; in fact, that won’t do it at all, if people are sensible and pull together, but we have a Much more solid reason than that hanging over us now, and it has been for at least a decade.

We have become a bloodthirsty people.  We are all looking for a fight.  We are all ready to pick a fight over the stupidest things.  The rhetoric for it has been in place for a while.  You can see it in the comments after news articles, and entertainment pieces, and sports stories.  We Want to Hurt each other. People all over the world want to hurt each other.  We want to do it here in our own country, and when you throw a reason to hurt someone in another country at us, we have all kinds of people ready to jump on that as well.  It doesn’t have to be a good reason, just any reason.

Then you add a bad economy into it.  Not enough jobs, and those that are available are too low paying to make the rent, let alone the other bills.  Two paycheck households are becoming a necessity, and three or more is becoming more popular, as families move in with each other.  Tensions run high under these circumstances.  Rats in a cage… lobsters in a pot ready to boil.

Now we get to throw in radical weather patterns that squeeze people in all kinds of new ways (and I’m not talking about global warming).  Too cold or too hot requires larger and larger amounts of energy to power an electric grid or a heating oil demand that shoves the price up for lack of ability to meet it fast enough.

Because oil prices go up, food prices go up with them.  Prices that we Have to meet, because we have to have this to survive.

Now we get to add in a nuclear fear.  One emanating from a country that has had at it’s core for many years, the ideal of wiping off the map another country.  One that it restates almost daily, like a mantra, to pacify it’s people, so they won’t blame their own poor government for the mess they are in.  Now the world, that is, most of the European neighbors, Israel, and the United States, and maybe a few others as well, want to impose economic sanctions against this country, because they think that if they choke it enough, it’ll cry uncle and give up it’s nuclear ambitions.

I’d like to point out,that Europe tried that with Germany after World War I.  They were choked good and solid.  As it happens, squeezing a country until the economic life is nearly choked out of it, does Not prevent a country from being able to develop a military, nor prevent it from creating weapons, nor stop it from wanting to get back at it’s neighbors who are choking the economic life out of it.

As it happens, this country is in an ideal location to put a hurt on not only it’s neighbors, but the rest of the world as well, should we think of opposing it in it’s mad rush to get strong enough to actually follow through on it’s rhetoric of wiping out another country; never mind that in doing so, it would also wipe out people it claims to support (Palestinians).   Iran is situated in such a way that with only  a little effort on it’s part, it can close a small shipping passage that happens to carry a large amount of crude oil traffic through it out to the broad, broad world.

Now the brilliant minds out there are thinking, the price of oil will go up, and we have oil here, and I could just buy shares in oil stock and get rich off this dastardly result (heh, heh, heh…).; But this isn’t all folks, yes, just like the famous Ginshu knives, there’s yet another sharp blade in this package.  If you look at a picture of the map where the Straight of Hormuz is, you might notice that on the other side of that large land mass that is the Arabian Peninsula, there is a little country called Yemen.

I don’t know how many of you have noticed any of the news out of there lately, but I have, and it’s not pretty either.  They are a poor country, and as a result, they have a serious problem with terrorists.  The government of Yemen is working closely with other governments to keep the problem in check, but as we have seen more than a few times before, the more we try to stifle a problem, the more it struggles to rise up and bite us.  If this one rises up and bites, it could put another whole lot of hurt on us all, and wouldn’t you know it, but they might get some help for their struggle from someone else we are trying to stifle.

Yemen also sits on an oil shipping  choke point.  At the point where the Gulf of Aden buts up to the Red Sea is another narrow passage of water.  Now Yemen isn’t by itself perhaps such a threat, but what if it gets help from a bigger, more well equipped neighbor?  How long would a stand-off at those two choke points take to bring the rest of the world to the overheated boil that always signals war?  I’m betting it wouldn’t be as long as anyone would like to think.  Probably not as long as any of the government think tanks would give us either.

The repercussions of a sudden choking off of regularly delivered and expected flows of oil into countries that had ordered it, and were waiting for it would be devastating in a very short amount of time.  It wouldn’t Just be gas rationing. Not Just long lines at the gas pumps.  It would be shortages of such magnitude that it would imperil the shipping of food supplies, vital repair parts, needed and necessary supplies to finish projects already underway, and would utterly prevent any new projects from being started.

Public transportation would be affected.  Labor difficulties and job layoffs would be exacerbated by it, housing difficulties would expand, and riots would occur as food became more difficult to obtain because no one has the gas to get where they need to go; not consumers, not retail suppliers, not wholesalers, and not even the farmers could get their product to the market.

Sure, you could make a killing in the oil shares, but what good would that do you when the food riots will destroy the city you live in?  Better make sure you have what you need to eat first, then make a killing in oil and natural gas futures.

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Spaghettis

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I know, I know…. good spaghetti is supposed to take forever to cook.  All the herbs have to simmer the flavor into the sauce, yada, yada, yada.  Well, be that as it may, sometimes you just don’t have time for all of that, and this recipe works Really well in a fifteen minute pinch.  For those of you who already know how to cook this stuff, don’t mind all the little details.  I will write it for those who may not have had a lot of experience in the kitchen, just in case this gets read by someone new to cooking spaghetti.

Things you need:

One large skillet

One two or three quart pan for boiling the noodles in (or you can use that upright  noodle cooker thing)

Two or three quarts of water (depending on how many people you are serving – this recipe can stretch a little)

If serving three people, enough spaghetti to fit inside a ring made by your thumb and middle finger (if you have small hands like mine)

If serving four add a little more spaghetti.

(and a tiny bit of oil for the cooking noodles to keep them from sticking to each other while they cook)

1 pound ground beef  * (can be frozen – but then you have to keep cutting it off as it cooks in the pan)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or one crushed garlic clove

Half an onion, chopped fine, or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder (onion powder is fairly potent)

1 teaspoon iodized salt (where else are you going to get your necessary trace iodine?)

1 tablespoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon powdered summer savory

1/4 teaspoon powdered thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

(Or you can use two tablespoons of your favorite Italian Seasoning mix)

1 small can of tomato paste

1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce (you need both of these)

Start the noodles cooking first.

Put the water on to boil, add a little salt here if you want, and the little tiny bit of oil (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon added into the water)

While you are waiting for the water to boil put the ground beef into the skillet and start it frying (turn the temp between 6 and 7 on an electric stove)  If the meat is frozen, you can also add a little water to help keep it from browning too much while all the parts cook, but then you need to cover it some to keep all the heat in (add a little iodized salt onto the cooking meat, it smells better) (You really do need your trace iodine to make your thyroid function properly).

When the water is almost to a boil, add the noodles.  It can stick out of the pot initially.  As the noodles cook, keep poking them down.  They will sort of bend/melt into the pot of water as they start cooking.  Stir them up as they bend into the water to get the little bit of oil to coat them all evenly.  The noodles are done when they turn almost white.  They Won’t look translucent (sort of see through) anymore.

When the ground beef is all browned, pour some of the grease off of it.  How much depends on how much there was in it before you started cooking (some ground beef doesn’t have much to begin with).  You don’t have to get All of it off,  just most of it.  Don’t pour this in your kitchen drain, it has a tendency to harden down in the pipes and make everything stick to it, and then you’ve got yourself one heck of a clogged drain.  If you have rose bushes, save the grease for them.  They love the fat from your cooking  (don’t pour it over them hot). Pour the cooled grease around the base of the roses.

When the grease is off the meat, add the tomato sauce into the skillet with the browned meat (I did say a large skillet), then the tomato paste.  Then add the salt, onion, garlic and herbs.  Let this simmer together for a bit.  If you are serving four people, add a  1/2 cup of water to it. If it is going to be a little while (maybe someone is late), add a little more water and let it simmer down.  When finished, the sauce should be just a little thinner than a good ketchup.

While this is simmering together check on the noodles.  They should be getting about done by the time you have added all the ingredients together.  Drain and rinse the fully cooked noodles in a colander under cold water.  The cold water stops the cooking process so your noodles don’t get all gooey ( If your spaghetti has to sit for awhile, leave the noodles in some cold water to keep them moist).

If you have some ready salad fixings this goes well with spaghetti.  Red leaf lettuce, baby spinach,  and a chopped tomato,  some halved radishes, and thinly sliced cucumbers, with a little salt and a little Italian dressing…  Yummmm…

If you still have some time, butter some bread on one side, sprinkle lightly with salt and garlic powder, and slip this on a cookie sheet under the broiler for a little bit (watch it like a hawk, so it won’t get burnt).

Place a portion of the cooked noodles on a plate and ladle the finished spaghetti sauce over them.  Serve hot, with the salad on the side and garlic toast.  This meal goes well with milk, dark grape juice,  mulled cider, or a dry red wine if you like it.

Note*  If you are working on disaster preparedness, this recipe can be used with a 16 oz can of beef chunks substituted for the ground beef.  All the rest of the ingredients can be part of your food storage.

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I love a beautiful, lush garden in the front yard of any home.  Some neighborhoods aren’t allowed to have vegetables in the front yards, but did you know that there are a lot of edible flowers?  Some of them used to be grown for food, but people have forgotten that they were good for that too, and just grow them for their beauty instead.  The salad garden used to be full of edible flowers.  Roses were used for salads, including the rose hips, which are known for their vitamin C content.

Lilies.  All the true lilies are edible, root, stem, leaf and flower.  And they are delicious. I especially love the short  little yellow lilies that are grown so often in clumps as a favorite of landscapers.  They bloom all summer long, and their flower petals are  slightly sweet, and ever so slightly spicy.  You can grow several different kinds of Lilies and have different colors blooming all summer long.

Don’t include in that group the Lilies of the Valley which are not actual members of the same family.  They are more a cousin of Foxglove and both provide forms of digitalis.  The little flowers have a smaller amount than the larger flowers.  They are good for people with heart problems, but not for people who have a healthy heart beat.

Chrysanthemums are used in a variety of ways in China, including as a form of tea.  Sometimes they are used as a fancy garnish on food plates.  Their flowers are edible.

Speaking of fancy teas, Jasmine flowers make a wonderful, relaxing  tea.  I just love the smell of Jasmine tea.

Hibiscus flowers also make a great drink.  Take the flowers and dry them. Crush the dried flowers into water and let steep.  Serve hot or cold with as much sweetener as suits your taste buds.

Grow peppermint in your garden. You can harvest it about three times a year.  My peppermint started from one sprig that got chopped up by a weed-eater.  Since it rained a lot right after that, all the pieces took root.  I soon had a garden full of peppermint. It has lovely little purple flower stalks on it in the late summer. The bees love it .  My daughter uses it for her digestion.  She puts a little sugar in it for sweetening.   She also likes it with lemon juice added to make a Peppermint Lemonade.  It’s especially refreshing on a hot summer day, and you can’t beat it served hot for helping ease your breathing when you have a cold in the winter.

Of course there are some fruits that are also good for growing in your gardens.  Strawberries make a great ground cover, and they are one of the earliest  fruiting  plants.  Raspberries are early bearers too.  Their canes are tall and have thorns so be sure to grow them in the very back, and they grow well in shade.  If you grow them under your windows, they are a natural deterrent for thieves.  If you want a later bearing fruit, blackberries also grow on thorny canes, and they don’t mind shade or boggy ground, but don’t cut them during the growing season.  They will spread out along runner roots all over your garden.

Tomatoes are a fruit too, and used to be grown only for their decorative effect, back in the days when it was thought that their red fruits were poisonous.  They are worthy of being grown in the front yards in the sunny corners.  And I just love the beauty of a watermelon vine. the leaves on them are so gorgeous, who wouldn’t want to see them twining their way through a patch of other assorted flowers, like nasturtium, which has a spicy flower and leaves, or around the base of your rose bushes.

I know some of you are thinking, “Why is this silly woman writing about this now?”  “This is the wrong time of year for planting!”

That’s true, but it’s the right time of year for planning what you want to grow next year.  This is a great time to buy gardening books as presents,  and don’t forget to order the seed catalogs. Happy garden planning everyone!

 

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A report on the Fox news channel in Michigan highlights the progress we’ve made as a nation, or lack of it, in the last 60 years.  It  has never been made more evident than by the threat from a city in Michigan to a woman growing a vegetable garden in her front yard how much freedom we’ve lost to the never ending cycle of create legislation to appease the complainers.  Imagine the effrontery.  How dare she attempt to feed her family with home grown vegetables, and then flaunt it by planting the garden in her front yard.

Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan used her front yard to showcase a very orderly vegetable garden.  Someone in her neighborhood complained that she shouldn’t have it in the front yard.   The city of Oak Park decided to interpret a city ordinance that stated that a front yard should have suitable live plant material in it, to mean it should only have grass, trees, and flowers.  No vegetable garden allowed.  At least, it’s willing to spend a lot of taxpayer money to go to trial over that.  I guess they didn’t get the memo from the First Lady.  Vegetable gardening is good.

In my opinion, the woman should be given an award for community service.  Her garden will help those around her who may not have as much knowledge of gardening, to understand more about where our food comes from; not only that, but growing her own food may be helping her stay off of food stamps.  If she can help teach others how to grow food, maybe some of them could avoid food stamps too; or at least, not need as much help from the state.

I’ll go a step further and say that we should require that people who live in government housing grow vegetable gardens in their front yards, and give them the seeds and the assistance from the county agricultural extension agent to succeed at it.  In a time where every state and city and community is stretched to it’s max for tax dollars, we should be encouraging people to grow their own food where ever a garden can be grown.  Front yard, back yard, side yard, or roof-top garden.  It’s all good.  It’s all food that helps people live better.

We should support her efforts.  Create your own community protest and spread the gardening.  If your front yard gets good sunshine plant some vegetables in it.   A little border of lettuce, some radishes, a cucumber growing up the trellis.  Tomatoes in pots on the doorstep (they used to be grown for their decorative quality).  Put onions in the planters with Marigolds, and potatoes up against the porch.  Grow a pumpkin around a corn stalk, or a patch of Sunflowers with squash in between.

Do you like flowers better?  Look up the plants for an edible flower garden.  All lilies are edible except Lilies of the Valley.  Hibiscus flowers dried and powdered and added to water make a great drink. Hardy Kiwis are beautiful green and pink vines (you need a male and a female) to grow over an arbor. Plant some real fruit trees, dwarf or full size,  instead of the flowering only decorative kind (coordinate with a neighbor if you need both a male and a female tree and you don’t have the room for both).

Use this coming winter to plan and prepare your protest garden.

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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