Tag Archives: butternut squash

Popsicles and pastimes of summer.

“Grandma, look at that wasp!” This colorful insect was resting near us on a geranium leaf.

“I’m impressed that you know that is a wasp, Ivy. Lots of people call all bees and wasps ‘bees.'”

“Bees have hair,” she informed me, “and wasps don’t.” The supposed wasp had floated away to a lamb’s ear flower, but not before I’d snapped its picture, wondering why it was so lazy and unthreatening, unlike our ubiquitous yellow jackets who seem only to rest when they perch on the rim of my fountain for a drink. We zoomed in on my picture to see that indeed, it was pretty bald — but maybe not entirely. After looking at more pictures of wasps online, I’ve decided this is very likely not a wasp after all, but a syrphid or hover fly. It’s more like a fly in its shape and wings, and pictures of syrphid flies came up as “yellow jacket look-alikes.” On the other hand, this insect approaching the salvia has more the look of a wasp, with its legs dangling down:

But as an example of hairy bees, I showed Ivy a picture of my favorite bee of all, which you might have seen here recently in a slightly different pose. She definitely has the darling fuzzy hairs:

It’s always fun for me if the grandchildren are visiting during hot weather. Popsicles and water play and the play house keep them happy outdoors, where I can play also, doing little garden tasks and walking back and forth to the clothesline with the towels and swimsuits. And many pairs of shorts, because Jamie was too tidy a boy to endure having popsicle drips drying, as I thought harmlessly, on his clothes. Eventually I gave him a bib, a largish bowl for his lap, and a spoon, so he could enjoy the treat to the fullest.

When the sun is baking all the air and sucking up moisture, I think it the most fun ever to wash a little shirt or whatever in the kitchen sink and hang it on the line. One shirt didn’t get that far, but dried in no time draped over a pomegranate bush.

I clipped my fast-growing butternut vines to the trellis, and swept the patio while the children sat in the old galvanized trough we call the Duck Pond, named for its use in another time and place, keeping three ducks happy in what was mainly a chicken pen.

Ivy played in the “pond” by herself one afternoon while Jamie napped, and I sat nearby rereading passages in Middlemarch. She found the tiniest spider floating in the water and held it on her finger, wondering if it were dead. “Why don’t you put it on a hydrangea leaf, and maybe it will revive,” I suggested. Of course, I took a picture of it on the leaf, because neither of us could see the minute creature very well with our eyes only.

When I zoomed in on my photo, it revealed a flower with eight petals. 🙂

At the patio table a few feet away I trimmed my six Indigo Spires salvia starts that I had propagated from a branch I accidentally broke off several months ago; I’m reluctant to transplant them to 4″ pots during this hot month, but that’s probably what they need…

Having gained confidence about African violets from a Martha Stewart video that I watched a few weeks ago, I tackled my plant that had grown two baby plants, one of which was already blooming. The babies I managed to cut off with roots attached, and potted them up snugly.

 

We thought to walk to the library, but the tires on the Bob stroller were too flat and I didn’t feel like pumping them up, so we drove. It happened to be a craft day there, and Ivy wanted to do all the things — but first, to design a Loch Ness monster from clay, because she said she had recently watched a video about that creature. Jamie patiently held the monster and observed, while she went on to make a jeweled crown and a flag.

 

The children actually looked up unprompted into the dome of the kids’ room at the library, and we talked about the stories pictured. I picked out some books to borrow but wasn’t thrilled with the three we read later at home. What I did love was a book someone gave me recently — was it one of you? — titled Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback. I read it twice to the children, because they liked it, too.

Joseph seems to be a Jewish man, and his overcoat gets tattered, so he cuts it down to a jacket, and when that gets overpatched, into a scarf, and so on. When he ends up with nothing at the end, it seems he doesn’t exactly have nothing after all. Good-natured resourcefulness and humor make for a charming story. I loved the ending, and the proverbs and sayings, and the many unique outfits and beard styles and colorful details. Joseph looks like this every time he realizes that his garment needs altering>>

Some of the artwork includes photographs in collage. I think if I were Jewish I might enjoy the book even more because I suspect that the photographs might be of famous people pertinent to Jewish history and culture.

A typical proverb quoted in a frame on the wall of Joseph’s house,
showing barely over an inch square on the page:

Over four days I read lots more books, like In Grandma’s Attic, The Ugly Duckling, Finn Family Moomintroll, a Thomas the Tank Engine collection (not my favorite, but a chance for Jamie to share with me his vast knowledge about that series), and one that I’ve read more than once to them via FaceTime, How Pizza Came to Queens. I got out my collection of costume jewelry, much of which used to be my grandma’s, and which I keep in her broken down jewelry box; and my small group of Moomin figures, and puzzles that are many decades old, but The Best and treasured.

One morning we cleaned in and around the playhouse
before eating a breakfast of sourdough pancakes in the garden:

With more washing up afterward…

As I was showing Ivy some rosemary and oregano she might pick for pretend cooking in the playhouse, I glanced up and gasped so that she started. “My milkweed bloomed!” She looked on admiringly and I told her that I had seen the same species of milkweed growing wild near her house up north.

Ivy and Jamie departed with their mama this morning, and I’ve been transitioning back into my quieter life. They all were the best company for kicking off summer.

Things I’ve used up.

butternut squash whole 2016-04 6-pounder

 

 

I’ve eaten the last of the 37# of butternut squash that I grew last summer.

 

 

 

I saved the biggest fruit for last, over 6 pounds. [correction: I looked back to October’s squash report and see that there was a fruit that weighed 7 1/2 #.]

butternut squash pieces 2016-04

butternut squash 6-pounder Apr 2016

 

It was delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

After that Kate arrived, and in my Subaru we have been on our road trip to visit various family groups and have adventures, which I will tell about eventually. Soon I will have to take a break from my alphabetical posts, and enter into Holy Week, but I am so sleep deprived I lack the smarts to think of a pertinent “s” word for that topic.

Thank God, Pascha will come to us in spite of all I lack. Hosanna in the highest!

bees, butternuts, and ribes

GL 10 IMG_0791I just came in from working in the yard where if one is digging, toting and harvesting under the sun, it is hot.  My last sweaty session of gardening was in the mid-afternoon, this week when the temperature has been in the 90’s; that workout made me resolve to take the first morning available and head outdoors early to get my seedlings into the ground.

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baby collards

 

 

Of the seven packages of old seeds I tested, three have sprouted up thickly: collards, kale and parsley.

 

 

GLY bee on mum 10-15

I’ve been intending to plant them for over a week, but every time I get started I enGL 10 P1020110 sunflowersd up doing something else, only occasionally preparatory. This morning I spent a while trying to take pictures of the bees drinking from the mums. Last week I accidentally included a bee on a sunflower.

A gardener friend gave me sunflower seeds in the spring, and I bought some plants at the same time. The varieties planted from seed were mostly eaten by birds when they were little, but I do like the few that survived, better than the tall plants that bloomed earlier in the summer.

Lacking a back yard to garden in this summer, I had tucked the sunflowers and some vegetables into the borders of the dead lawn, where the irrigation emitters oversprayed anyway. In the middle of the lawn where this doesn’t happen,  big cracks have opened up in several places. I poked a yardstick into one and it went down 30″ easily. That’s a crevasse measuring 36″L x 4″W x 30″D.

I didn’t figure out the volume, but I started filling it with whatever organic material I could find, including flour left over from Y2K, old coffee beans, and a pile of dirt that had been sent over by my Landscape Lady from another installation. I topped it off with some old planting mix, and am thinking of planting some Rainbow Chard seeds in a jagged row.

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Rainbow Chard bed in foreground.

Another task I’ve worked on out front is harvesting my butternut squashes. These are the ones I picked last week, on the patio table where I had been transplanting things into and among pots. The total weight on those was 15#.P1020149

(In the blue bowl is a sunflower head from which I will save the seeds.)

Today I picked the remainder of thGLYP1020148e fruits, and brought them in when I was too hot to work any longer. That’s never happened to me before noon before! I set them on the counter and then pushed them aside to make a smoothie with frozen blueberries to help me cool down.

This second picking yielded 22#. The prize-winner weighed 7 1/2 pounds. This was my best butternut crop ever.

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Last week I found a fountain for the back yard, and yesterday when she came with the installer to talk about organizing the upcoming transformation, my Landscape Lady brought along a few plants that she had bought, with apologies for me having to babysit them; they are California natives that she had to get a little early before they sell out. I don’t mind babysitting at all — I am jazzed to have these promises of good things to come, right here on site.

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Ribes and Festuca

 

We discussed the most efficient sequence of the various steps, preparing beds, laying paths and irrigation, planting; who will build the vegetable boxes and how to prepare the greenhouse floor — Did you even know that I am planning for a greenhouse??

The two months during which I have been staring out at a sea of dirt seem like two years, but luckily I have had plenty of other work and fun to occupy my mind while I’m waiting. Now things are starting to happen.

 

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This Yerba Buena grows in the wild in our area, and will like the soil and shade under my pine tree where it can trail around. It’s edible and minty and good for making tea if I want. Lots of things in my new back yard will be edible, including the ribes, also known as Pink Flowering Currant. The Native Americans used to harvest the berries to eat, but I read that they are not that tasty to modern humans, so I plan to enjoy watching the birds feast on them while I relax on the bench nearby. As soon as it is sittable, I hope you will come and watch with me.

IMG_0364 s.f. a.m.

 

Feasting in Time and Timelessness

Seeing as how I was determined to bask restfully in the light of Christmas for another week or so, attending the local monastery for a midweek communion service seemed the perfect sort of activity. The Body and Blood of the Savior is the best food, one of the limitless Holy Mysteries God has given for our life and salvation.

At the monastery they are on the Old Calendar, so the Nativity Feast is still more than a week in the future. But our parish church, to which they are attached, is New Calendar, and we are all used to the differing dates for these feasts and commemorations. The nuns are happy to greet us general parish folk with “Christ is born!” even though they are waiting a bit longer to say it among themselves. And we are happy to step back thirteen days and be with them in the Lord who is timeless.

My godmother sent me an online Advent calendar, which I opened on December 24th or so. She said the Nativity is timeless. And I got that feeling during my visit among the mixed calendarists. As Father Stephen says here, “He is the Feast of Feasts,” and the substance of our faith, no matter what age we live in. I’m glad I happened to see Fr. Stephen’s blog before publishing my little report on the monastery visit, because he says so many things clearly that I barely grasp with my mind, but am experiencing in the Church.

Like this:

To speak of ourselves as living “in-between” [the Resurrection and the Second Coming] is to place history in the primary position, relegating the Kingdom of God to a lower status. It is the essence of secularism. The Kingdom of God is not denied – it is simply placed beyond our reach (as we are placed beyond its reach). The Kingdom, like God Himself, is reduced to an idea.

Living “in-between” is part of the loneliness and alienation of the modern Christian. Things are merely things, time is inexorable and impenetrable. There is an anxiety that accompanies all of this that is marked by doubt, argument and opinion. Faith is directed towards things past or things that have not yet happened.

….

In earlier postings on faith, I have noted that faith is more than an intellectual or volitional exercise. It is an actual participation (koinonia) with the object (or subject) of faith.

In the Eucharist we all were partaking of Him Who is our Faith, and were experiencing in Him the Nativity, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Second Coming — our whole salvation history — even as we know that at the level of earthly time, the Second Coming is still ahead. That is definitely a Mystery.

After the service many of us pilgrims stayed for a lenten lunch. I remarked about some bright orange squash on the sideboard and the nuns told me how it volunteered itself in service to them last summer. Ordinarily they like to have a big garden, but not many young women live there and it is increasingly hard for the community to do the physical work; this year they didn’t get much planted, though they have plenty of space.

Behold, a squash plant sprouted and spread its vines vast and wide, bearing several giant fruits, which we agreed look like a cross between a Hubbard and a Butternut. For the meal they cooked part of one, and then split another open to send pieces home with several of us. I started this blog post mostly to tell about the amazing squash, but I got carried away as is common.

Last week Kate made a wonderful Curried Butternut Squash Bisque the day after she flew in for the holidays. I might cook it again with this blessed squash — it was very tasty served plain — and if I do, I’ll post the recipe.

Christ is born!