Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Yard Walk In the First Week of April

Happy Spring!

It's April now and I took a few minutes to tour the lawn around my house looking for growing things I can identify and create a kind of seasonal record for myself to look over in future years, anticipate the next coming season.

Garlic mustard greens- They're green, but not actually garlic. The youngest spring greens are the most delicious! It adds a spicy green to salads (similar spicy greens farmed are expensive!) and some people blend it and freeze it for pesto all year! I'm curious if it would make a good powdered green. I'll have to try.

Wild Garlic- These are actually in the garlic family (Alliums, right along with onions and leeks. I think you've met them before. They're a good family). The bulbs are multitudinous and difficult to peal and wash, but the tops are easy to trim and grow back. Can be used just like green onions, only they're more slender.

Dead Nettle- Sound dangerous, but the name actually indicates safety. A similar plant, nettles, has stinging hairs (although dried or cooked, the leaves of nettle are super good for you!) so the name dead nettle denotes a lack of sting. This plant has a couple look a likes, Henbit and Ground Ivy, but those are also edible, making them a pretty easy forage.

Cress- It's an edible in the mustard greens family.

Sheep's sorrel- tiny leaves with a strong, bright coppery flavor. I love to nibble these.

??? - This is something like dandelion. Might be chicory or wild lettuce. It's edible, but the saw tooth leaf is much deeper. I'm not really certain about this one. It's easier to identify when they flower, but by then, the leaves are not as tasty and tender and get more bitter.

Day lily shoots- Edible! All the parts of this plant are edible and it reproduces like crazy and makes a lovely landscaping plant. Not a true lily (never ever eat lilies!) but much better in my opinion.

Plantain- There are several varieties of this one- it's good for food when tender and medicine all the time. abundant and easy to recognize- grows under even tough conditions where nothing else will.

 A slightly broader leaf plantain

Potentilla or Ciniquefoil- Pretends to be like the cultivated or wild strawberries, having similarly shaped flowers, but it will flower yellow while the cultivated ones flower white. These leaves are supposedly okay in small amounts, like a little mixed into a tea blend, but not really a food source. High in tannins which are supposed to be good for you but are strong (in a tea, will make your mouth pucker with the sour flavor). (notice the plantain leaves around it!)

Violet- young violet leaves popping up in there little groupings! Leaves are good for tea and soup, and the flowers are edible. NOT THE ROOTS.

Cleavers, aka Lady's Bedstraw- edible but 'grippy' hairy texture in the mouth. not sure the best way to consume this. Cleaver is named for the circle of separated leaves, but they have a velcro texture that clings to you, making me wonder if this plant is the reason cleave can mean both to cling to and to divide! I don't know if it has had any effect on that confusing etymology, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.

Mint! We used to garden this, now we weed wack it when it escapes the perimeters. Really resilient and sends out runners everywhere. Makes the best weed ever! We use a lot of mint.

??? I don't know what this is or if it's edible, but it has tiny hairy leaves and is tightly packed and close to the ground.

Clover. Edible! A common look alike is Oxalis or wood sorrel, which are also tri-leaved shapes, but the look-a-likes are more heart shaped. Wood Sorrel is also edible. I've been nibbling it since I was a kid. It may be the first edible weed I've known.  Notice the unknown weed with the hairy tiny leaves is popping up in the clover too.

??? This is NOT edible. I looked it up once but I've forgotten what it's called. It has an orange resinous root. The chickens go nuts eating this stuff, but it's NOT for people, as far as I can tell. It has some medicinal uses, like removing warts with it's toxic resin.

Moss. I liked how it looked.

Another mossy close up!

 Intentional Garlic- Hardneck variety. Planted this last fall and it's coming up nicely!

green onions. I saved the white ends with the roots from our groceries and planted them out. They stayed green all winter, even through the snow! Never completely died off. Amazing stuff.

How are your weeds growing?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Let's Play (February 27th- March 1st)

This last purging was mostly conducted in the basement and under cover of night (purged toys and crafts) I wasn't counting or creating any photo evidence. I didn't consider these as personal possessions of others because they were in the general toy muddle or have been abandoned for extended periods of time, left to become someone else's problem. Types of things that went were broken dolls and action figures, stained or mismatched aged doll clothes, shredded outfits from the costume box, odd mini totes and pouches, old paint (house paint, tempera paint) cheap brushes, lesser loved, outgrown, or damaged clothing, board books, stuffed animals, baby toys, games, craft items. Serving trays, a rusty mini dolly,  a tall stack of ceramic plate and saucers, old cleaning supplies, old nail polish and make up. I have a few pictures below, but they are just representative. There are no pictures of the toy thinning.

That's 30 days. Or 60, since I did two The Game challenges concurrently and I'm a little tired of it in terms of keeping track. I think It helped me sort of wrap up the heavy purge I dove into last year. I'm ready to enter into "maintenance mode" with occasional focused purges that are more aimed at achieving a particular transformation of a part of a room or a part of a storage space. I've presently been mending my old wedding quilt and trying to figure out how to repair all of the shredded center that the kids damaged. I decided It didn't feel right eliminating it, even if I do mostly end up using it as a "fill" and retopping it.

My next major project will be organizing our decade+ of family photos with the aim being to have them 1. Backed up digitally in 2 places 2. displayed and/ or within reach and 3. actively working in such an organized way that new photos (and video) will be easily backed up and queued for prints plus 4. stretch goal for family sharing and accessing extended family archives too

I have also resolved to list the kiln for free this month.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Let's Play (Feb 21st -26th)

Played The Game. Only a few more days to go. I want to try to get the last four days done this week so I can make a donations run all at once this weekend. I think I know where to look around my house for the rest. 


21: Old school work thinned and filed to store.

22: Poured all the oldest seeds from my seed storage into one bag to toss out into some corner patch of the yard and see what happens later
22: sorted more old seeds
22: More old seeds

23: 12 books to donate
24: 35 things from the kitchen (11 extra- applying to the 23rd)

25: 25 lesser liked art prints recycled

26: 6 things

26: 20 things to hand down

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Little Guide to Your Well Read Life (book review)

If you're interested you might chance upon my used copy re-released into the wilds of secondhand books, or you can check out the author's site for it with sample material at http://yourwellreadlife.com/

The good news? It is indeed little.

I felt like I had come to the place he was at in terms of how to set up a personal resources list of ideas for reading and in keeping books I'm meaning to read and books to treasure. Only he placed a lot more value on having around a great deal of volumes in the home and I don't think that advice is great for everyone all of the time. My natural inclination is to insulate my walls 5 rows deep with books. but I've been working hard for years to unbury myself. I think I've moved more material to the recorded book lists in order to let go. I have the trust that I can look it up again somewhere.

 Also, he's really intent on releasing you from the desire to finish books you're not the most crazy about, but I can think of two instances in my recent experience where I was so glad I had stuck through to the end, and it was worth even those times I'd read through and still been disappointed in other works to find those two works satisfying. In fact, one of them is a book he names: Crime and Punishment. He says he found the book more crime than punishment. Well, I had been reading that book and it depressed me almost the entire time as the murderer becomes more and more blatant in his crime as he realizes no one suspects him, but oh! Oh, how the last few leaves of the book are good and redeeming and worth every bit of  all the rest. I am sad for this author for not having finished it!

The other case for me came in my sci-fi library. One of my favorite novellas, Cascade Point, where I discovered how much I love Timothy Zahn came as a double book, where the paperback flipped over to another author. In this case Greg Bear's Hardfought. I had the book for almost two decades. Every few years I would reread cascade point and enjoy it all over again, and then I'd give Bear's book another shot and my eyes would glaze over. It was too alien, too oddly formed. I couldn't digest it. Eventually I stopped trying until I mentioned it to a friend. He surprised me by suggesting I keep trying. Then last year something happened and I was able to enter the story through its difficult to open airlock and all of a sudden I got it. It wasn't the best story I ever read but it was good meat for the mind, about wars of innumerable ages fought far from any soils by persons who were engineered to live in space in many iterations of themselves and seemingly repeat their fates without end to the iterations, sent into battles that were their reason for existence which took their whole lives or generations longer to even arrive on the scene of fought against beings that didn't have any easily comparable physiology to their enemies, and who could not conceive of communicating.

Once I finally accessed the story and digested it, I realized that I was able to part with the copy. I had other copies containing Cascade Point, but all these years I had been holding on to that one because when the student was ready, the book would be there.

Few people I know are holding on to a sci-fi novella they find difficult to read though, and that's another bit of advice that Well Read Life metes out from the beginning. Your to-read list is yours alone. Don't let other tastes or heavy handed best books lists persuade you away from what you want to gnaw on in literature and non-fiction. Don't even be hemmed in by your own lists- let them change and grow and lose lines. Create multiple topics or styles to read from, read narrowly and broadly, read at your own pace, give audio books a chance, but the best advice of all, read purposefully, not just waiting for it to happen.

Dematerializing: Taming the Power of Posessions (book review)

I loved the opening of this book! She connects our obsession with things to primal desires and draws links to fairy tales and legends. She puts commercial advertisements in light of the promises made for spells and elixirs in stories far flung and ancient, only with the dire moral warnings excised. It draws some interesting connections about who we are with and without our stuff and how the things we give purchase to in our lives always come at a cost.

Then the rest of the book became somehow belabored for me. I'm not sure why but it was like maybe an online advice column that went on for a hefty volume. The introduction had held so much promise though! It was enough to spark some thought trains of my own about meaning and value and the intentions or desires behind the things themselves.

Well, I'm likely to declutter the book, but if I ever want to read the entrancing opening again, I'll borrow it or buy it as an e-book.

Let's Play (Feb 14th-20th)

Here's a few more days worth of photo evidence of that which will be no more in my home.

14: 1 extra pencil sharpener

14: 2 things Libby doesn't want

14: and the other 11 things that can find new homes

15: 10 things. I decided to count the additional 5 from the extra stuff on the 12th and call this day done.

16: 16 baby toy things (I'm keeping the cat)

17: 8 toys

17: and 9 more toys and craft goods

18: Event Table clothes I couldn't resell- donating

19: Thread things

20: 10 things from our electronics stuff (well, 2 are bread mixer paddles with the coating worn off)

20: and 10 more things from the kitchen