Category Archives: Nature

A Hill of Beans

Husband and I returned home from Minneapolis last Sunday to find that it was time to harvest our pole beans.  We had covered the four bean towers with a tarp before we left, and hoped we could forestall the effects of a killing freeze until we returned.  The very hot weather we had in July pushed the entire garden behind schedule, and the beans needed as much time as they could get to mature. We grew Good Mother Stallard and  Petaluma Gold beans.

We first encountered shell beans when we lived in southern Indiana.  Shell beans are like dried beans  (think cannellini and pinto beans) before you dry them.  They are fat and sweet and buttery. The pods are long and bulging. Our favorite is Vermont Speckled Cranberry Beans, but there seemed to be a shortage of seed last Spring, so we grew the two other varieties.  Good Mother Stallard is the quintessential New England  heirloom bean.  Petaluma Gold was a good variety that we grew several  years ago.  People sometimes let them dry on the vine and store them in bags, but  we like to harvest them before they dry and store them in the freezer. They are terrific in soups and stews.  They are also so pretty before you cook them. The header photo is some of the Good Mother Stallard we harvested.

It got so cold here while we were gone that the bean vines died despite the huge tarp we covered them with. The pods did not freeze, however, so we spent Monday night shelling the beans and blanching and freezing them.  My thumbs hurt from shelling them.

I realize that our obsession with pole beans is sort of odd, but they are such good beans. Husband gets gout from beans, but he insists we have them in the garden every year.

What are you obsessed with? Who have you known who had obsessions?


Making Predictions

I was happy to wake up on September 24 and find that the world hadn’t ended as David Meade, biblical numerologist, had predicted. I believe he recalculated after he found things were still the same on the 24th as they were on the 23rd, and predicted another date for our demise  on  October 15th.  The rogue planet Nibiru, violating all physics principles, is predicted to collide with earth and set in motion all sorts of rannygazoo.   We shall have to see what happens. I believe that is the date of  Blevin’s book club.  At least you will all be together.

It isn’t easy to make accurate predictions.  Our world is so random that people search for certainty and cling to the idea that we can make sense of the universe. Consider poor Harold Camping,  the evangelist and radio host who made multiple predictions of the Earth’s end in 2011,  and who finally admitted in 2012 that he was sinful for even trying to make such predictions, falling back on Matthew 24:36 “of that day and hour knoweth no man”.

I am often asked as part of my work to make predictions regarding human behavior.  Psychologists have a myriad of tests and ways of making such predictions, but it is never completely 100% accurate. I know that people who score certain ways on tests of cognition and memory probably have dementia.  I know that people who score in certain ways on tests of emotions and personality probably have certain  mental health diagnoses.  I feel pretty certain predicting that parents with drug and alcohol use disorders  who previously neglected and abused their children will probably do the same thing if they continue to abuse substances.   I can  predict, however, with almost 100%  certainty, that if people are allowed to purchase machine guns, those guns will fired off.  That is probably the easiest thing to predict, and you don’t need an advanced graduate degree to do so.

When have you been able to say “I told you so”?

Birthday Boy!

Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!

We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate.  Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.

Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.

You’re honest,
decent, lovable,
and truly are first rate.
You’re charming,
and clearly pretty great…

You’re dignified,
gracious, sweet,
and kind.
You’ve got a lot
of talent
and a wit that’s
hard to find.

You’re cleaver, cool,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and wonderful
and full of good advice.

You’re fun
and entertaining,
not to mention
very smart.
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!

What gift would you give Dale?

What’s Up, Doc?

OK, so I missed International Rabbit Day by a few of Earth’s rotations. I discovered this when opening Saturday’s… Saturday’s  Who knew?

The following paragraph is from Wiki Wiki :  “Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit, cottontail rabbits, and the Amami rabbit. There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.”

I got curious about the long-eared jumpers when I lived on the California coast, next to a vacant bunny-populated lot… loved watching them chase each other and jump in the air. I read half of The Secret Life of Rabbits by R.M. Lockley in the mid-70s (before leaving it on a plane); collected rabbit tchotchkes for a while; and still receive occasional rabbit gifts, most recently some beautiful note cards.

Some of my favorite rabbits are from children’s books – Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, of course, and Dubose Heywood’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. But even adult lit has come up with good rabbit tales – Watership Down lingo Watership Down lingo has stayed with me for decades – silflay, hruduru… and I loved the characters’ names – Bigwig, Fiver, Efrafa, Cowslip…

Take a gander at more of these rabbits in literature

Do you have any rabbit stories?

What’s your favorite literary animal?

My New Love

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

I am smitten. I met my new true love in July at a near by nursery.  Her name is Rosy Jane Indian Feather.

Every few years I find a new plant that entrances and seduces me. I plant it, baby it, admire it, and then buy more of them for years to come.  This year it was Rosy Jane.   It is not just an infatuation.  It is a romance, but so much more. I think it will become a commitment.

Past loves have been Indigo salvia, an annual; another annual–licorice plant, both sage color and mint green; the wave petunia. Several years ago it was the small petunias that I cannot remember the name of.  They all still show up in my pots.

And now I have added Rosy Jane. Tiny pink flowers appear at the end of a long stem that shoots out from a relatively small plant at the base.  The flowers look like they are just floating from the pot.  It is categorized as a perennial, zone 5.  I am going to attempt to winter mine over, even though we are zone 4 because winters are warmer now.  I think if I plant it close to the house it might make it.  And if it does we will live happily ever after in a state of romance, me with stars in my eyes.

What romances you?

Too Darn Hot

I am not a hot-weather fan. Most of you have probably heard me say that after growing up in the heat and humidity of St. Louis, I  announced that I would only go to college in either Wisconsin or Minnesota.  I headed north and never looked back.

You’d think that for such a weather wimp that I would have invested in central air at some point.  Nope.  Or that at the first sign of summer I would install my bedroom window unit to get some cooler air.  Nope.  Normally it takes three or four days of over 90 degrees in a row to get me to deal with the air conditioner and this summer all our 90+ days were spread out.

So it seems particularly unfair to me to have such a hot weekend towards the end of September. Right now it’s getting dark and I’m sitting in my bedroom with three fans going: ceiling fan, oscillating fan on the floor and a box fan pointed right at me.  I will admit that if my window unit were installed, I would have turned it on tonight, but I can’t bring myself to get it out of the closet and install it for one night.

I do realize that there are quite a few spots in the world whose weather has been undeniably worse than ours the last month but thinking of it hasn’t made my mood any better or my room any cooler. Guess I’ll just sit here and pout some more.

What about you? Hot or cold?

Sweet Corn or Bust!

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

My sweet corn finally got ripe. It’s not good. But Dammit, I’m going to eat it!

I get sweet corn from the seed corn dealer. Two small bags slightly bigger than what you’d pick up from Fleet Farm in the spring.

I use the first bag as I test the planter as I start corn in the spring.

I divide the seed into 3 rows of the planter and then plant the sweet corn testing depth and the monitor and just making sure the planter is working properly.

This year, the first 50’ I had the depth wrong so the corn never emerged. And the last 75’ was next to the pasture and woods and the deer ate all that before it even got tassels. But I kinda expected that.

Then I plant all the rest of my regular corn. And then, before switching the planter to soybeans, I plant the second batch of sweet corn. Some years that might only be 3 – 7 days. This year it was about 2 weeks between batches.

I plant the second batch in a different field, close to the house and on the other side of the field from the trees and deer.

This year with the weather being so cool, it took a long time for that second field to get ripe. The bottom of the ear was tough and the top and middle were just OK. I don’t know if was the variety of the sweet corn or just the way it ripened. And there was a lot. 12 rows 100’ long. I knew it was too much but I take a lot to the my siblings and I freeze some and I invite others. This year, I bought corn earlier to freeze as I didn’t know if mine would ever get ripe

But darn it; I look forward to sweet corn all summer and I’ll be darned if I’m going to not eat it just because it doesn’t taste good!


But I think I’ve had enough corn this year…

What do you do even though it’s a dumb idea?