Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baby Robins Arrive

So, seriously, I don't know what is different this year. But I guess God is reminding us that evidence of His creation is all around . . . even all around North Philly. I mean, wow, hedgehogs, robins, little snakelike lizards, slugs, snails, house finch, squirrels (argh!), termites . . . we're just teeming with life over here. It is very comforting.
Also comforting is the evidence of thriving green beans, strawberries, zucchinis, and tomatoes. The green beans are doing well enough that I spaced them out a little and added a row against the fence in our front yard. Grow, babies, grow! Two of the raspberry vines (out of three) turned out to be, well, dead, thus prompting further rebate from the online store.
Moral: Online shopping works better for non-living things.
Mom brought me a healthy raspberry vine to put the mail order survivor to shame. And she brought a rhubarb plant. Now I can really connect with my ancestral roots . . . I mean, does anyone you know still make rhubarb sauce? I may actually have to look into freezing spaghetti sauce if all of my tomato plants thrive. Two are looking pretty peaked. (I must confess I had to look online to find the spelling of that word, meaning sickly. I guess I could have just written sickly, but that would be to deny my rich heritage of Pennsylvania Dutch/Lancaster expressions.) They do not seem to be perking up despite many a worried or angry look I have sent their way.
This tempts me to reclaim some of the healthy plants I put in my neighbor's flower bed, because a) she'd never notice, b) hello, I garden for her for free, and c) I don't know if she'll even eat all of the tomatoes she's going to get.
But I won't because a) I was raised not to do things like that, b) I have a huge guilt complex despite years of learning of how God loves me no matter what (and I mean, I guess it isn't very loving to God to steal back your neighbor's tomato plants), and c) she gets way better light than I do so they'll do better in her flower bed. I'm sure if I really need a tomato later (which is unlikely, I do still have 14 pretty healthy plants), I could ask for one.
Anyway, the cantaloupes are not looking too hot. But let's not talk about them. It's too important to me that they do well.
And that's all this 5th generation farmer has to say about that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spotted: One Hedgehog

According to a nearby neighbor, a hedgehog was recently spotted running past 5419 N 12th St. in Philadelphia, the illustrious Davis residence.
(No photographic evidence was available.)

Burger, anyone?

Hello all! Here's a real pick-me up! (Not really.)

Just doing a little research about the American contribution to global warming and food shortages because of meat consumption, from the Worldwatch Institute and the New York Times, and basically it looks like there are really three big bummers from the huge meat consumption of the Western world (apparently Americans eat about half a pound of meat per day to consume an average of 200 lbs. of meat per year:

1. People are starving and having to compete with cattle for grain.

2. Meat causes global warming from methane gas.

3. Pollution of water supplies from vast quantities of animal waste.

Some random quotes:

"Each kilo of meat represents several kilos of grain, either corn or wheat, that could be consumed directly by humans. If the 670 million tons of the world's grain used for feed were reduced by just 10 percent, this would free up 67 million tons of grain, enough to sustain 225 million people or keep up with world population growth for the next three years. If each American reduced his or her meat consumption by only 5 percent, roughly equivalent to eating one less dish of meat each weak, 7.5 million tons of grain would be saved, enough to feed 25 million people-roughly the number estimated to go hungry in the United States each day."

"To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days."

"The massive quantities of waste produced by livestock and poultry threaten rivers, lakes and other waterways. In the United States, where the waste generated by livestock is 130 times that produced by humans, livestock wastes are implicated in waterway pollution, toxic algal blooms and massive fishkills. And livestock farms are getting larger throughout the world: one 50,000-acre hog farm under construction in Utah will produce more waste than the city of Los Angeles."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Micah's back . . . and everything stinks!

Well, we are thankful to God that the surgery is over and that Micah is healthy. That's him with Turtie the Turtle and his balloon (surgery loot), eating pancakes, and complaining that everything stinks. I guess an unfortunate side effect of surgery is the stinky smell in his sinuses. He feels very oppressed by everything stinking. I explained that it's from the surgery, so now he says his surgery stinks and he doesn't like it. So the adnoid removal was pretty standard. Their exploring with a camera showed that Micah has a slightly floppy epiglotus (sp?), which could account for the croup. Unfortunately, they can't do anything about that but said that 99% of the time kids outgrow it. Micah was very brave at the hospital. He didn't complain at all about not eating or drinking, even when every adult we encountered seem to ask in front of him if he'd had anything to eat or drink since midnight the night before. He just said, "We're not eating breakfast today" and somehow accepted my explanation that we were going to wait until we got home. He asked if they'd give him a shot, but didn't seem to care.

We were actually smooth sailing until he had to get into hospital pajamas. He didn't see the necessity, and he didn't like that he had to wear no undies underneath. He did offer to wear them over his clothes, but I told him I didn't think that would do it. We watched HOURS of kid tv. First in a crowded waiting room, then in a private curtained "room." You know the day is getting long when you get excited that Barney's coming on (believe me, there's a whole slew of worse shows to pick from). So we mostly watched tv for 4 hours (8:10 to noon). Around 10:30 some woman came in to explain that they'd put a mask on him with laughing gas when he went back, put a tube down his throat after he fell asleep but try to get it out before he woke up, and they'd put an iv in his arm. I think she was honestly about to go into the risks of anesthesia and how there was a small chance he could die during surgery. But after having had her ignore all my quick MmmHmm's and eye contact signals (and Micah curling up into a fetal position) I asked if this conversation could take place somewhere not in front of Micah. So Owen went to sign the CYA papers for the surgery, and Mommy was left to try to comfort Micah after he had gotten an earfull.

Mommy was pretty angry. Mommy had to climb up in the tiny bed with Micah to get him in there since he was (after all that) terrified about what was going to happen to him after he fell asleep. After a while they came to give him "silly syrup" which was supposed to take effect in 10 min. and have him zooed out. 45 min. later Micah was wondering why there were 3 puppets on Barney with only 2 children actors. And he wanted to know if we were just going to stay in the hospital (it sure felt like it). He was definitely a little buzzed perhaps, but way too aware. Thankfully, we had to wait a really long time (aka, "a few minutes," hospital time). By the time they wheeled him off he was too drugged to sit up. After a quick lunch and a cry Owen and I went back up to wait. They called me back right away while Owen got some perspective talking to a dad of a 10 year-old who'd been in and out of the hospital since he'd contracted meningitis at 8 days old. HE told us that there's always a kid worse off than yours to keep you from feeling too bad for yourself. Micah was swollen and completely hysterical when he woke up. But a few minutes and two popsicles later he was a little better. Grandma had us pick up Turtie in the gift shop, so that helped. We watched more tv, then left for home. Then we watched more tv at home. Micah was much more interested in food than they had made it seem like he'd be. Smoothies, soup, frozen banana, apple juice, popsicles. He woke up this morning pretty much himself. Except, of course, that everything stinks!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

OK Termites, you started it . . .

We seem to have prepared Micah well for a future occupation in the pest control field. He can spot a termite anytime, anywhere. And at our house lately, that's everywhere. The houses on our block near us have pretty much all been "swarmed." These little flying ant looking guys are so invasive. Micah found them in his bedroom this afternoon after his nap, leading us on our third big counterattack mission. In the past we'd run for the phone to call the exterminators, but now we wait for that until an all-out slap fest. We probably killed 200 of them this afternoon (but who's counting). Micah used to be scared, but now he's primarily wound up every time and has invented a termite marching action that I think will prove highly effective. Wow, more nature in North Philly. It's amazing. It actually does feel exciting and alive to have so much plant and bug and animal activity here after a very cold, dark, dead-feeling winter. I just hope the termites don't eat our wood floor we finally got repaired from their last attack.
Termites . . . we'll be back!
Correction: It was a house finch! Oops, but isn't that even more exciting?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Puddlesplash, anyone?

Recent fun from family spring gettaway in Avalon.

Nature in North Philly

House Wren!!! It was at my window, but I scared it to this location above the power line trying to get a picture of it. Amazing, isn't it? It's not a sparrow or a robin or a cow bird . . . usually the only things we see here. Though I did see and hear a woodpecker the other day when I was out walking. And a neighbor told me there's raccoons across the street behind the abandoned house. And Micah and I saw little salamanders or newts or something across the street in the yard after the neighbor kids picked up a big rock and screamed "SNAKE!" And a robin or some other bird built a nest on our porch. Which is a slight problem because it's right near where we hang our wind chimes in the summer. I put them out today while the mother bird was away from the nest because it's not windy and I figured it would be easier for the mother to get used to when she gets back if it wasn't making any noise. Unfortunately, the only way I could reach the hook was by using a broom and then I couldn't get the broom back down. So I may have created the equivalent of a scarecrow for robins.

Maybe after Owen gets home and takes the broom off the hook the mother and wind chime can coexist peaceably.

Anyway, it just goes to show you, you don't have to live on a farm or in the woods to see all kinds of wildlife.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


So I came across this term, "flexitarian," in Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food (I finished it last night, so I'm sure I'll stop talking about it soon). Anyway, it was an amusing name to describe how I eat, which is vegetarian with a little bit of meat (usually chicken or fish) thrown in. I'm not sure if this or "semi-vegetarian" is the more accurate description. It was unclear on the Wikipedia webpage. But, anyway, it just goes to show that there are others like me out there. Hello, others. Anyway, I think that my chicken ice cube idea is really key for the flexitarians out there who want to cut time off their dinner prep. So, for my readers (or reader, more accurately--aka, my mom, who's already heard this in exhaustive detail) who want to know how to do it:

Boil a whole chicken or package of chicken leg/quarters/breasts (though breasts don't taste so great on their own) and then pick the meat off the bone. Put a little of the meat (1/2 cup?) back in the broth if you're making soup. Otherwise, freeze the broth in cups in your freezer (or in ice cube trays if you'd rather). Put the meat (small pieces, no broth) in the ice cube trays in your freezer. When frozen, pop out broth into gallon freezer bag (can reuse the same one indefinitely for this) and the chicken into another bag. When I make a stir-fry or tacos or whatever . . . I just throw a few chicken ice cubes in at the end. That frees up time to cut up yet more veggies to put in dinner. This was the only way I could think of to cook as many veggies as I thought I should be using and still have time to deal with meat. I also cook large amounts of beans from dry and freeze them in ice cubes to add to things like soup or pasta. It really helps make healthy cooking a little easier. Oh, I do it for kale, too. Steam it, blend it, freeze it in ice cubes. Then it's all ready to sneak into spaghetti sauce or black beans or whatever.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Urban Gardening

So, I'm really into trying to garden all around my house in North Philadelphia. I've got tomatoes tucked between azaleas and in corners and near fences; I've got cantalopes outside my kitchen window; I've got tiny patches of spinach and lettuce and broccoli rabe (that last one's a shot in the dark); I bought 25 strawberry plants online and have them in between flowers, in pots, and all around; I bought 3 blueberry bushes (I was scammed, though, and had to call to get some of my money back--they told me I'd get 15-20 lbs of berries per bush as early as this year, and then these tiny sticks came in the mail; I cleared a big space for them, they look slightly hilarious); I bought 3 raspberry vines (I honestly think they might be dead, I'm giving them 2 weeks more) from the same reputable online plant store; and I am growing green beans along fences. Oh, and a tiny bit of swiss chard from seed (survival looks unlikely) and onions from bulbs. Anyway, trying to go green. I made the unhappy discovery this morning (after reading In Defense of Food) that Produce Junction does not sell local produce. I mean, obviously in Philadelphia in the winter and early spring there's not anything growing (except apparently potatoes, according to a National "What's growing in your area" site I looked at this morning). But I had thought that in the summer their stuff would be local. According to the guy who answered the phone there this morning, only corn and some few other things are local. Too bad. Hope my garden yields a ton!

Welcome to my world . . .

Hello my lovely readers,

I am hostile about blogging, My Space, and Facebook. I just don't get it. However, I had to create a blog account to contact a college friend (I could not figure out any other way to contact them) who had one. Anyway, if there is more than this opening post within 3 weeks, technology wins.