Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sunday's Full Moon, Skywatch

In the event you missed the Full Moon on Sunday,
this is how she looked from our vantage point.

And for beautiful skies from around the world
be sure to visit SkyWatch Friday .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Limited Internet and Lavender

Imagine that after all these years of using the internet that you no longer have access to it. Are we not dependent upon it? Isn't it a part of our way of life? Ponder this: how would you be affected if the internet were shut down for 3 to 4 months?

Our family uses it for almost everything: checking the weather; current news headlines (especially since we don't listen to the main stream media); research; downloading books; online educational classes; email; directory assistance; maps; travel arrangements; business transactions; retail; communication with family and friends, and of course writing (blogging). It is vital for businesses throughout the world, an energy and time saver; things get accomplished that might otherwise never get done through regular mail. It is especially essential for my husband and his communication.

Curious for me in this technologically advanced time in which we live, and given the fact that our home is located just 2 miles outside the city limits, our options for internet service is limited. The good news is that we were able to find one viable option: Verizon offers broadband and fortunately we are in the middle of that area. The not so good news is that we are limited in our usage as it is quite expensive: $59.99 per month for 5 GB. Each additional 1 GB costs $50!

Both of us have been extremely conservative over the last week; in fact I have barely used the service in order to yield to my husband's requirements. In less than 1 week we were amazed at how quickly 1 GB was used.

Example: one download from HP, an update for my husband's printer, doubled our usage in just a matter of minutes. Think of data files either being uploaded or downloaded to your computer, those continual anti-virus updates, internet sites that constantly refresh, other software updates, large photo files, document downloads... and in no time that limitation is consumed.

We are hoping for a better solution, but until such time, my access will remain somewhat limited. Besides, the scent of lavender fills the air, it's still summer, and our vegetable garden and the processing of those wonderful products require my attention. Not to mention that beneath this lane of lavender our little feathered friends stay concealed as they take their morning stroll around the garden with mama quail.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No Internet, But Quail!

We have had no internet connection for most of the week and are uncertain as to our alternatives. Our provider for over 4 years, Clearwire, has just transitioned to 4G, the powerful and super fast internet service. They are so powerful that we will no longer be covered within their range, so the salesman told me yesterday when I paid them a visit. Figure that one out. Needless to say, we are not very pleased. Our alternative? We're working on that. In the interim, we have some fantastic news.

California and Mountain Quail and Brood

I happened to look out the window early yesterday morning and lo and behold there she was walking slowly uphill along the path below the bank of ground cover, when suddenly a little body appeared behind her, and then another... I ran to get my camera and quietly went out the door.

By then she had turned back down the hill and moved into the lavender which lines a path on the east side of an embankment just below the house. She looked at me, and as the little ones began to venture forth, gently and quietly ushered them back into the cover of lavender. Such a good mom.

I tried staying out of sight and followed from a distance, but she had them scurry along. There are two center left and four center right that I can discern in the photo below. I felt fortunate to get these for they moved so quickly!

Then this morning right outside my studio window and on the west side of the house, there was mama Mountain Quail.

I cannot help but laugh out loud at the little ones lying on the ground. Are they not simply adorable!?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kohlrabi, Saute, and CA Quail

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

I am still in awe that from one tiny seed brings forth this life form and with such abundance.

Due to the amount of rain and cooler temperatures in May and June, our vegetable garden seems far behind that of the previous year, but one cannot complain, only make the observation, for it continues to produce.

June Harvest Total = 53.45 lbs
Year to date = 82.16 lbs

1.79 lbs Asparagus
1.0 lb Beets
1.4 lbs Broccoli Packman
7.3 lbs Cabbage Stonehead
3.15 lbs Cauliflower Graffiti
1.9 lbs Chinese Kale
3.25 lbs Kohlrabi
5.43 Kohlrabi leaves
2.2 lbs Onions
3.6 lbs Potatoes
2.0 lbs Spinach
3.9 lbs Salad Greens
9 lbs Shanghai Bok Choy
.4 lbs Tomatoes
5.11 lbs Wild Kale
3.42 lbs Zucchini

Kohlrabi (German: Kohl, cabbage; Rabi, turnip)

Do you grow
Kohlrabi, one of the offerings of the wonderful Brassica oleracea family? I find it to be a fascinating vegetable with its above ground growth, form, and the rather curious upward thrusting leaves.

It comes in various shades of color, and this particular apple green one, Kongo hybrid, grew to about 4 inches across in our garden. It can be cooked, but I prefer to peel the thin outer skin, slice and eat it as a snack; mild, crisp, moist, it is a bit sweeter tasting than broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage.

Chop the smaller/younger leaves and stems (kale-like flavor) for use in a salad, and saute the larger leaves the same as you might with kale or spinach. Being as frugal as I am, discarding anything green, edible and high in nutrients is not part of any plan.

Since it prefers cooler temperatures I'll be starting some seeds for a fall harvest in another month or so. But for today, as the morning temperature rose from 55 degrees F to a current 86, to be followed by the high 90's the next several days, I'm not sure what to expect. Plant shock?

Sauteed Kohlrabi (Kale or Spinach) Leaves from Diana's kitchen

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
3 sweet spring onions, chopped
1 - 2 lbs Kohlrabi leaves or Kale, tougher ribs removed, and leaves chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tablespoons Red wine vinegar

Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven, add chopped onions, touch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and saute for several minutes over medium heat. Add chopped kohlrabi (or kale) and cook on medium high heat, tossing with two utensils for several minutes until all is coated and bright green.

Reduce the heat to medium and push the leaves aside; add another tablespoon of olive oil to the empty side and add the diced garlic, a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. (Be careful not to burn the garlic.)

Add the vegetable broth and heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until desired tenderness. Add red wine vinegar, stir and taste for any additional salt or pepper. And if you have cooked too much, not to worry for it heats up nicely the next day.

Note: We do not remove the rib with kale since we like the crunch, but do so with kohlrabi since it seems tougher. Also, sauteing spinach only takes a very few minutes, and in that case I saute the garlic with the onions. And on occasion I may chop one slice of bacon and brown it as a base for the greens and reduce the amount of olive oil.

California Quail Update

We decided not to disturb the little mother and her clutch of 15 lovely speckled eggs for several days but only observe from a distance. Finally, last evening I had to take a peak. When did this happen? She must have snuck off in the middle of the night, likely hiding those little babes until they learn the tricks of the trade. That sure was quick!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 234th Birthday, America

Happy 4th of July Celebration! During the course of picnics and hot dogs, parades, fireworks and perhaps even garden parties, I would hope we each consider how we came about this wonderful freedom of ours.

This is a day we should think about our history, America's history, one that must not be forgotten or taken for granted. These brave souls pledged their lives, their fortunes and their honour so that we might be free of tyranny and have a great nation built upon freedom.

These are the words of our Founding Fathers and the words upon which this country is based. I thank God for them.

Artist: John Trumbull
Oil on canvas, 12' x 18'
Commissioned 1817; purchased 1819; placed 1826 in the Rotunda

July 4 Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence in the morning of a bright, sunny, but cool Philadelphia day. John Dunlap prints the Declaration of Independence.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. Please continue to read the document here...

Those who would give up essential Liberty,
to purchase a little temporary Safety,
deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
~ Benjamin Franklin