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Posts Tagged ‘home’

One of our neighbors has a decades-old grape vine that is both enthusiastic and agile, and it has branched out to surround our shared yards, three fences, and at least two trees. It is also a prolific producer of grapes. Wildlife like them, but sometimes too much. Last year we were a hit with wasps, which I could have done without.

This year, hot off the pick-your-own fruit farm, I decided to try a bit of juicing.

Grapes + Instant Pot == juice, and it’s dark purple and dang tasty.

I should have used a higher grape-to-water ratio, but didn’t want to waste the fruit if the recipe was a dud. The juice is just about sweet enough to drink straight and tastes of minerals and a fall afternoon. I suspect these grapes would make fantastic wine.

Have I discovered one of the long-lost vines behind the prized vintages of the Elven Court in Exile?

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Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

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A Silver Lining

Thanks to the dynamics of heat, humidity, and Tropical Storm Fred muscling his way up the East Coast, most of my family members down South were under a tornado warning today. 

My father texted to say that they were in the basement because tornado. Cue a round of frantic texting to make sure my hard-of-hearing mother had, in fact, heard the warning. Half an hour later the danger had passed and thankfully, everyone was ok.

Those of you living in places like Tornado Alley, the Caribbean, tsunami-prone coastal region, anywhere currently under a fire warning or similar hot spot may not be impressed, but this is one of the first times my family has had to head to the basement for safety, hunkering down like Neolithic ancestors in caves. I doubt it will be the last. Extreme weather and other such events are on the rise. That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that unlike our ancestors, we have first responders, health care workers, disaster preparedness centers, and we can see it coming.

Stay safe! I’m off to back up my hard drive. And to celebrate with homemade pizza and ice cream, because who doesn’t appreciate a silver lining?

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Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

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The Joe Pye Weed is in full bloom and buzzing with big bees, small bees and not-bees, and look who stopped by!

I only wish we had the space and sun for a dozen more of these plants, plus scads of milkweed for this monarch and all of its friends. Until then, I’ll do what I can with what I have.

Cliché? Yes, but still a pretty good motto!

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Today in things I like: Here’s an item I did not know existed before I moved to Canada: the electronic mosquito swatter.

The Zapper

You may know that mosquitoes are annoying;) This year has been pretty good* but even one mosquito indoors at night can be disruptive. (If you’re me, anyway. Mr. Man is born and bred Canadian and is mostly unfazed by even the largest of blood suckers. ) 

And I’m trying to be more tolerant outside. Inside? No.

Cue the swatter. Its mesh displaces less air than a standard fly swatter and also sends a current through the wires. Any mosquito or other biting insect caught in the layers is toast. Sometimes literally.

Seriously, don’t activate this thing while touching it.

Zip zap, all done. 

As penance, I put the mosquito corpses outside so that something, somewhere might benefit.

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Photo by Syed Ali on Unsplash

* That’s good and bad. Good, because it means fewer giant, itchy welts, bad because the dry Spring that led to fewer mosquitoes has a lot of follow-on effects, for insects, the birds and other animals who eat them, plants, trees, and of course, us humans.

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Working today, but I’ve also got the back of my mind hard at work designing a fairy* door.

As one does.

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Photo by Justine Meyer on Unsplash

* Don’t tell those uptight little pixie dust factories, but I like garden gnomes better:)

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Itching for Good

We picked up a bunch of native plants from a local eco organization and added them to the garden over the weekend. To go along with existing pollinator plants like butterfly weed, chives, and Joe Pye Weed, I am now the proud owner of flowers like wild bergamot, yellow tickseed, and black-eyed Susan.

Also approximately one million extremely itchy bug bites, and as anyone who knows me knows, I really hate mosquitoes.

But.

Birds and butterflies and pollinators in general need food and shelter. These plants will live outdoors and I had to get them moved into their new homes; the mosquitoes just took advantage of my helpful nature. (Also my delicious blood.)

So both arms are itchier than I’d like, plus I have a row of awkwardly-placed extra bumps on my spine (particularly fun) and what I’m pretty sure is a spider bite on my wrist, which is now extra red, itchy and swollen.

Still worth it!

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Photos by Evan BuchholzJoshua J. CottenAaron BurdenKarl-Heinz MüllerIlana GrosternGaétan Marceau CaronZdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

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Yesterday I took a brief break to check on my butterfly weed (blooming happily!) and noticed an interesting beetle by the door.

“Ooh,” I asked myself, “could that be a firefly?”

It could. It was.

Last night, between brightly-colored expressions of Canadian joy (aka celebratory fireworks), we spotted brightly-colored expressions of firefly joy above the cedar hedge. The lone Lampyridae had a hard time competing, but he gave it his best shot.

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I have great memories of family nights outside in the garden when I was a kid, watching hundreds of fireflies looking for love. It was magic.

We don’t have hundreds now, but I’m working to make our yard as firefly-friendly as I can, particularly around mating season (aka now). Here’s how:

Save The Fireflies

Some of the things you can do:

  • turn off outdoor lights (who can get any action when that giant porch light is acting like the worst wingman ever?)
  • leave logs and leaves on the ground (I’ve totally got this covered)
  • add water (we have birdbaths, so check)
  • say no thanks to pesticides (no problemo, that stuff’s nasty)
  • let your lawn grow (skip mowing this weekend? yes please!)
  • add trees (I’ll see what I can do to keep the ones we have happy)

Time to recapture a bit of that summer magic.

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Warm and Toasted

It’s hot here and everywhere. The critters in the back yard are trying to keep cool.

A local taking advantage of a cool dirt bath. Also my planters.

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Sorry for the mesh and pine sap, it messed up the image clarity but my functionality decreases 50% without a mosquito-proof environment;)

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It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.

— Yogi Berra
Photo by Nerf Portraits on Unsplash

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Chilling

Today is Fridge Day. As previously mentioned, Mr Man and I were unlucky enough to need a new fridge, but ! fortunate in that we were able to find a replacement that would arrive before Fall.* The replacement is being delivered sometime in the next couple of hours, so we’re getting ready.

Step 1: empty the old fridge

Step 2: marvel at the ancient relics to be found therein!

The old fridge has a very deep deli drawer and things could, and did, obviously, get lost in there. Like these Riviera yogurts from 2016 that somehow (incredibly!) still look 100% edible five years later. How?! (Magic, that’s how.) Or the mint vodka I made lo those many years ago (that’s code for I have no idea how old it is).

It’s true that best before dates are food quality guidelines, rather than “you will absolutely, positively die if you eat this even one minute after this date” warnings, but even so, I’ll skip the decade-old fish.

Everything that can be composted/recycled was. The dining room is full of coolers and insulated bags. Drawers were emptied, shelves cleared, and sacrifices to the Appliance Gods were made in the usual fashion.

Now we wait.

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What I wish I were drinking.
Photo by Whitney Wright on Unsplash

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* I’m not kidding about this timeline, as you will know if you have had to purchase a new appliance lately. Supply chain issues from computer chips to shipping bottlenecks are rampant these days, but it will all get sorted out… eventually.

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The sun is out and while it’s not exactly warm, the world is bright and beautiful. I’m working on a number of project ideas and am about to help Mr Man dissect the fridge. 

(brief break for said dissection)

Yep, we need a new fridge. Or rather, the fridge needs a new compressor and it doesn’t make sense to replace that one thing. I shall now spend a not-insignificant amount of time imagining a world in which incentives for engineers are structured in ways that make designing modular, easy-to-repair systems the goal. 

So I’m a little sad today, because having to get rid of a mostly fine appliance is a damn shame.

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That said, I am also reading. I just finished Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. It’s a good book but not, like so many others, an easy one to ingest. I stuck with it and am glad I did. The language is challenging, any name or title under four syllables is rare, and the author does an astonishing job (I realized about 10% of the way in) of putting the reader in the place of the awkward, out-of-his-depth, confused main character. It adds an extra, internal dimension to the act of reading an external book. 

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And here’s to my parents, who raised me with the belief that no day with a book is ever truly wasted.

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Photo by Rob Mulally on Unsplash

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