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June, 2007 | Scuff Productions

Cost of buying your food non-local

Bloged in Political by mark Thursday June 28, 2007

Here’s a quick clear animation video showing the reasons we should ALL be shopping at local Farmer’s Markets when we can:
***Here’s what is really Costs to Not Eat non-local Food***

We have dozens of local farmers markets on weekends. Rodger and I actually are going the step further when we can……..we’re going directly to the growers, but then, luckily, we do live close enough to them we can do that. If you’re in Manhattan, I don’t suppose you can make a trip two times a week to South New Jersey for some fine produce. Hah.

MANY THANKS to Baird for forwarding me this story and link…………………

The BEST Bumper Sticker said:

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday June 28, 2007

Holly saw this coming up Monday night on a car. I’m not a bumper sticker guy much, but howled ot loud………………….. I wish I could remember a few of the classics, but THIS is topical:


Yes, it’s available everywhere…..and in button form:

Cheney – a note on his education

Bloged in Bush,Political by mark Wednesday June 27, 2007

From today’s Oregonian, Here’s a summary of Dick Cheney’s education:
After flunking out of Yale University, he earned a bachelor’s and master’s in political science from the University of Wyoming, then entered the doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin but didn’t finish. During the Vietnam war, he received five draft deferrals.

THIS is the man who is called the “architect” of our current catastrophic situation in the middle east.
I REALIZE he’s spent years in the political ship of corruption and the finishing school of corporate corruption (Halliburton) getting to his current position of power. Where he SHOULD be is in one of his torture prisons paying for his criminal behavior. OH if this morning’s rumors were true…..Republicans themselves getting him to resign! Hah.

Gardens First Harvest (other than lettuce)

Bloged in garden,General Home Life by mark Wednesday June 27, 2007

As I type this, the first OREGANO and English Thyme Harvest is complete, dried, and bottled for 2007! I cut the 2nd round of Rhubarb today. Then I took some dried green onion blossoms, shook out seeds and planted GREEN ONIONS! So in a few weeks, we should have enough fresh green onion for the rest of the summer.

And, by the way, I love this, WHEN I bring in lettuce, I also bring in green onion or chives, fennel leaf, loveage, cilantro and parsley cuttings. SO our salad is all coming out that little garden for the rest of the summer as well and I’m always happy to bring all that in. Have to wait for the fresh tomato a bit longer.

Tomatoes are blooming!

DILL PICKLE RECIPE – Grandma Ray’s Improved Pickle

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Tuesday June 26, 2007

***By Request***
We had been trying to make these pickles “right” for five years, and succeeded just the last two. Since we got it down, I’ve decided my Aunt Merle was right, these ARE fabulous pickles and others are agreeing…………… So here’s the recipe. Remember, that final barely-a-simmer water bath, only halfway up the bottles, and only 5 minutes, are the real KEY to making sure these are finished right. Also, don’t decide to NOT use any peppers. They’re all that will separate these from any commercial product in any store. / mark

GRANDMA RAY’S DILL PICKLES ………. Fabulous, spicy, crispy, and memory making Pickles!

This recipe was given to me by Aunt Merle Ray Workman, Grandma’s youngest daughter in January 2002. Merle had perfected these over many years and couldn’t make enough to keep up with “demand”, i.e., all her kids, grandkids, friends and neighbors. Regretfully, she passed away just this spring, my last surviving Aunt.

Get a big bag-o-cucumbers, small pickling type…………… Of course, have all your equipment and ingredients ready to go because the cucumbers SHOULD BE PROCESSED as soon as possible after picking, hopefully the same morning. Using older cucumbers can result in shriveled product.

1. Soak the Cucumbers overnight in cold water then set in a cool place. In the morning, sterilize the jars, and put in them:
* a Grape Leaf in each jar (if you have it….it helps make pickles “crisp”)
* Two or Three sprigs of Fresh Dill
* Three or Four good sized Garlic Cloves

2. Heat to Boiling:
• 1 Cup Vinegar
• 3 Cups Water
• ¼ Cup Plain Salt.

(This is enough for 2 Quarts of Pickles – canned). This Batch can be Doubled or as needed.

***MARK NOTES HERE: The grape leaves ALSO contribute to a “crisp” pickle and add a good color.

3. Pack Cucumbers into Jars, and add:
• 1/8 tsp powdered alum (do NOT over-measure, too much can have a reverse effect of
“mushing” the pickles)
• 2 small Red Peppers***
** **There is an “optional” addition: 1 Tblsp Mustard Seed & 1 Tblsp Celery Seed Mark has added a few times………

***MARK NOTES HERE: Grandma used the milder small red peppers. Not for us. WE have used either two serranos or one Habanero per jar.…this will depend entirely on your tolerance for how spicy you want your pickle to be. (We haven’t found someone yet who didn’t think the Habanero batch was the favorite.

Pour hot Vinegar Solution over the cucumbers boiling Hot & Screw the lids on tight. They may not make that “tink” sound, but they do seal and keep well. Now………..the all important Water Bath.

This is necessary to get the “seal” done.

The All-Important Water Bath RULES: Place your packed bottles on a rack into a shallow pan of hot simmering (not a hard boil) water for about 10 minutes. IMPORTANT: Only have the water to about halfway to jar top…. Do NOT put them into a boiling water bath and do not simmer longer than 10 minutes. This will cause them to be less crispy!

NOTE: Edit here on August 8, thanks to Sissy’s comment, I should probably have noted a curing time for these gems. Originally my aunt said at least 8 weeks, and I let them sit 12 weeks before dare opening bottle. They gotta CURE ! ! !

SO. There you have it. IF anyone has any questions of any kind before, during or after, send us a note………We’ll send you the troubleshooting document from where else, The University of Michigan. Good luck working your cucumber!

ed mows ’em down

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday June 26, 2007

WHAT a pleasant little viewing last night and this morning. While doing the monday night water aerobics, we spotted a male western tanager through the glass on one of the Smith’s trees. Wonderful. They are ALWAYS fun to see:
beautiful, eh? THEN this morning while watering the vegetable garden, I look up at the noew mostly eaten elderberry bushes and see a Western Tanager eating away! I “think” a female was with him………..that would be fabulous if they nested here again. The last time though, big Ed’s bare field next to us was a forest.

So it’s not always good news in our world, eh? Yeah, Big Ed is out beating down nature again.

Neighbor to the north, big Mr. ED………has slowly but purposefully continued to destroy habitat in the acreage that adjoins us over the last two years. **See old archives

He only mows the weeds out there periodically, so that by the time he does mow, some juncos, etc, have nested in the growth and get wiped out. He is slowly but steadily clearing out brush, native forest plants, low tree branches on the slopes in back making big tractor trails he can drive his new bigger Kubota yard tractor around on. For this man, ALL of it plays into his need to control everything. He has been frustrated that the city didn’t immediately grant him building permits so he could place structures on the field designed and sited exactly the way HE wants them so as not to detract from how his own house sits.

Hist path of destruction slowly edges toward our property line. I have a hard time not being angry about it, after all it is HIS land and he can do whatever he wants. My frustration is mostly that he will NOT complete permits and begin any kind of construction for at LEAST another two years. WHY destroy the habitat, plants, animals, etc NOW? I suppose I should thank him, the mini-burb WILL be built eventually, so maybe getting used to it slowly is better, eh?

I expect by next summer, our resident visiting songbird population will be reduced a bit.

He has recently had the whole place surveyed, so I’m sure the permitt process is progressing. On the slope deemed not buildable he’s requesting a meeting for the neighborhood association hoping someone will “BUY” the land hoping to make $$$ on it. It that doesn’t work, his last gasp will be to donate it to Forest Park. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

A couple weeks ago was a prime example of his cavalier treatment of this beautifully forested area we’re in.

He walked over to where the blackberries are now three feet high with dozens of small birds nesting in there like juncos, nuthatches, towhees, sparrows with chipmunks, etc living on the ground, THEN cut them down using a swath. That wasn’t enough. He then fetched his big-man toy Kubota Tractor and literally mowed the thing down to dirt. He then stepped off the mower, scouted his prize land, and drove off. There won’t be one piece of development on this 20-40 foot area for at least a year or two.

Today he’s again out in his field standing with hands on hips, chain saw running, and trimming here and there. He can hardly stand it seeing a twig growing. He often stops and stares across this “spare” land…..

What’s happened to me? Why am I bothered? Watching this really was heartbreaking. I guess I’ve been feeding little birds too long.

Garden pace goes from 5 mph to 10….slow but steady

Bloged in birding,garden,General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest,Portland by mark Saturday June 23, 2007

In the NW, you don’t see fast growth like you do in areas like Chicago, Mr. Taron!!!! Where you get immediate HEAT after spring. In our rain forest world, we stay in the doldrums of hanger-on kind of cool, a bit gray skies, almost through June. So here it is: end of June with rain forecast Sunday and a high of 63. No wonder our corn’s only a foot high and a bit pale to boot…..NOT enough sun or heat.

However, HERE’S the fun things going in the garden for me this year….they are TINY things so boring to anyone with a real life going on………..but I note these turns:

1. Today’s watering of the gardening reached it’s normal amount of time to hand water/soak plants at their base with a soaker so no leaves are wet. That was 2 hours. In that time, you tend to get to know your garden plants really well in the season and how best to nurse them through to peak performance… in some ways, it’s worth it. On days it 90, maybe not so much, but by then, whatever you’ve invested in the project is already paying off.

2. With the dry season close, and the yearling deer have been kicked out of camp since Bambi’s Mom has a new kid, we’ll be getting poachers soon. They’ve already tried the raspberries. To avoid losing some tomato growth, I put up the ugly temporary deer fence yesterday. I like it temporary, because it’s only up about 3 months before it’s not needed. So, no ugly fenceposts standing out there year-round. Here’s the garden last week:

Here’s the garden today:


3. New ideas with a couple of herbs have come up. Peter & Paula in St Johns let Parsley grow every year from volunteers. I’d never thought of that, so this year, let last years plant continue to grow. It’s now going to seed:
It wouldn’t be worth eating, but we’ll see how the volunteer thing works. And here’s the new parsley…..tender and tasty….I think we’re ready for some fresh Tabouli, don’t you:

4. I always knew Celery survived winter, but the 2nd year growth was woody and usable. BUT. Don’t we all love celery seed as a spice? I’m letting last year’s celery hang around, and it’s just beginning to form flowers:

We’ll see how that goes, but I can’t see how it can go wrong…..I LOVE the Fennel seed we save in the fall. Then there’s having this lovely Bay Laurel bush now in its second year:

4. It’s just beginning to take off, and I have two pints of dried fragrant bay leaves in the spice cabinet from last fall.

And other little things you get to feel as you water this time of year…………..

Hard to imagine, but this little sunflower will require strong support of its stem when it reaches that 8 feet high and mammoth bloom in just 90 days:

Our elderberries are at their peak (thanks, still, Nancy, for starting us on these lovely bushes) and have been getting eaten now by a real variety of birds. I never knew that ROBINS left the ground to feast on these pretty fruits:

On the berm……we put in two barberry plants two years ago. I didn’t have much faith in this one last year, but THIS year, it is SO beautifully full of bloom, fully fragrant, and humming with bee life, I have fallen in love with it. It’s only about two feet tall, but about 3 feet wide and I’m interested to see how it matures:

And lastly. Another thing you begin to see taking shape in a garden yard every summer are the apples. I begin to watch these little guys all way from now to September:

The apple harvest time of summer is truly embedded in me and most people I know because it marks the end of most of the vegetable garden harvest, it is the pre-cursor to seasons change, it is a celebration of the bounty of summer, AND…………. it brings back DEEP memories of tradition. What American family 50 years ago was NOT eating Apple Pie or Crisp in the fall? And who never enjoyed that without having the home run, i.e., Home Made Vanilla Ice Cream? This is a rich time…………….so I watch these little apples and wait…..poor things. Do they KNOW they have a stalker?

Ah! Summer begins………………………..

The Townsend Mole champion is taken out! Finally.

Bloged in garden,General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Tuesday June 19, 2007

But BEFORE I write that tale down, a quick note on squirrels. After 4-5 years of having baffle cones hooked onto our shepherd hooks holding bird feeders, ONE squirrel finally learned to make a LONG leap from the deck to land one inch above the baffle then grab on, climb up and voila! Steal all the food! In this photo, I have placed MAC in the middle between the deck and this feeder for perspective:
Can you BELIEVE a squirrel making a leap this big? They NEVER cease to amaze me. Put an obstacle in front of them, and they’ll sit, stare, cock their head, (I swear they are truly “reasoning” things out)…..and eventually figure out a way around the obstacle. This guy did. This morning, this feeder was moved ONE more foot away from the deck. Can he leap what will now be at least 7-8 feet? We’ll see.

Now on to treachery and victory! Here lies the villain four months after beginning his attacks on our property:
Since sometime early March, that single VERY fat townsend mole has terrorized one spot in the yard that was impossible to manage, but easy to deface for him. We have a light pole right by the sidewalk out from the garage door entrance. For some -4- MONTHS now, this ONE mole has been digging tunnels, pushing up dirt at this spot, then moving under the sidewalk to the flowerbed between the garage and sidewalk. I have done ALL these things MORE than once fighting this ONE invader:

1) Flooding the tunnels. That stops him for about 6-7 days.
2) Gassing the tunnels ….that stops him for about 10-12 days.
3) Trying to set a trap when he’s in the beds. He simply dug around them.
4) Tamping the dirt back with shovels. That slows his progress 1-2 days.
5) Swearing at him and placing curses on him in the name of all things powerful. NO effect.

Just Sunday, he showed back up in the beds, Monday all around the light pole. TODAY, I HAD to do something, he had FOUR active push ups of dirt….so much I was wondering if the lawn would collapse under its weight. And in my attack on him today, FINALLY, Mark – 1. Mole – 0.

How did we manage this mighty victory. Yes, as it ALWAYS is, it was a trap:
But it took MORE than this trap to finally make move between the jaws of victory.

FIRST I set a trap in the tunnel pushed up at the flower bed just across the sidewalk from his light pole digs.

Then, I used my handy new metal rod to locate the actual tunnels where the dirt was pushed up, and easily opened all four. I flooded all FOUR holes and followed by spraying insecticide into them. Now I knew the tunnels that he had JUST been in were toxic and he HAD to move somewhere…..I hoped under sidewalk toward the trap.

I left the battlefield. I watered flower beds………fertilized some things, set up sprinklers on the cutting area and on the berm. I came into the house to have a bite of breakfast, AND……look at the war zone.

Whoopee! The trap was sprung and as you’ve seen, that one FAT FAT Mole was done. This is what we’ve been fighting for four months at the lightpole:
Right under these two holes is concrete for the pole, and the sidewalk. There’s no way to have set a trap here:

Finally, we slowly remediate this little spot and get the lawn back…………until the next mole arrives.

I AM awaiting the first moles to arrive in the vegetable garden. As surrounding yard dries out and we water there, we are guaranteed some invaders. But those are easy to deal with…no metal and concrete in the way.

I’m off to water and see what’s new in the vegetable garden. We’re to have TWO days in the low eighties…………whoopee……..maybe some of our stunted vegetable growth will grab on and leap forward an inch or tow.

Now, once again, I go back and join the peace movement.

OUR Birds on Aububon “watch list”

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday June 19, 2007

I am disheartened. Our two favorite summer bird visitors are in a steep state of decline. The Audubon Site has released it’s 2007 watchlist. On it are: The Evening Grosbeak ……… is reportedly in decline at 78%.
—> a click here **Evening Grosbeak** shows we mention them quite often while they’re here.

and the Rufous Hummingbird……………… is reportedly in decline at 58%.
___> a click here **Rufous Hummingbird**
shows we also mention these little guys often while they’re here.

I don’t think I need to say anymore……………. Unless you believe in the rapture and the insane idea that God is coming to come and restore the planet in a second as He prepares it for the Fundamentalist heaven, then be concerned………….

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