bells and whistles and a vuvuzela chorus

July 13, 2010|Posted in: birds, chickens, food, frugal, garden, green, summer, sustainable living

You know about the vuvuzela, don’tcha? Well, get out yer vuvuzela, because we had an egg! A little one, and they pecked it to death before I could get out of bed and feed them breakfast — but our chickens (one of them) gave us a practice run. It’s nice to know that someone’s equipment works. Alas, don’t know which hen to cosset and persuade. I’m waiting for more…stay tuned.

The garden continues apace. Here’s what I had for breakfast: a handful of berries on my cereal (note the one lonesome blackberry at top of the photo, above). Sometimes there are a couple of raspberries, mostly a handful of strawberries, occasionally a couple of blackberries. I freeze about a handful of these every day as well. By the end of summer I will have a gallon bag full, ready for jam or cereal-eating until they’re gone. By the way, Grapenuts are the food of the gods. I think I could live on them. It’s my A-Number 1 comfort food.

We continue with the freezing or eating of green beans, tomatoes and zucchini. Added two more quarts of beans to the freezer and have been perusing the various canning books for interesting relish, chutney and chow-chow recipes. I’m still nervous about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — my pressure cooker — that I haven’t tried her yet. When I become inundated with tomatoes, in 3-4 weeks, that’s when my panic will overwhelm my anxiety, and we’ll start chugging out canned salsas and sauces. So far, no good.

Did a little frugal reuse last night and finished two orphan cans of frosting (one chocolate, one vanilla) by spreading it on graham crackers and dipping the edges in sprinkles (assorted leftover Halloween, Christmas and birthday nonpariels). You’d think I brought home a pirate’s treasure chest, Black Beauty and the goose that laid the golden egg — that’s how excited the kids were for leftover frosting on graham crackers. Hint: If you call it “a special dessert,” they will eat it. No questions asked.

I’ve noticed that the garden is creating its own environment — attracting creatures who normally don’t visit. The tall sunflowers are so large that small birds perch on the leaves long enough to scratch and preen.

And this is who I saw the other day — another first-time visitor. A female hooded oriole. That’s two different orioles within 2 weeks — where before, there were none. She was hopping around the tops of the sunflowers with her delicate curved beak and soft yellow feathers. Nothing flashy about her. Just very busy eating bugs. I like that in a garden visitor — eat the bugs, leave the plants, thanks.

Today is my shopping-errands-foraging day. A visit to the bread-sharing site, the farmers’ market, pick up the Boy after baseball camp, fetch his bike from across town, and then I’ll spend a little time at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, where I recently joined the board of directors. But in the kitchen as we speak, however, there are 10 pounds of gleaned windfall apples (little goldens), and these desperately want to be made into dried apples and apple pie. So I’m off to the market, and later, back to the kitchen sink. Sounds a-peeling, doesn’t it?

Oh, stop. You love my puns.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.



    July 13, 2010

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    Yes!! Grapenuts!! Love them 🙂

    I have an idea. Let’s barter when your tomatoes take over the backyard: some massage for a bushel of tomatoes. Wait, how much is in a bushel? Anyway, loved it, especially the pun-ishment. 😉


    July 14, 2010

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    Are your graham crackers green? I mean the color.


    July 14, 2010

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    I know grapenuts are good for me, but it is like eating rocks…just cannot get past that. Those graham crackers looked green until I tilted the laptop screen! I am so glad they are not. My hens pecked their first few eggs because I did not know they were laying. I still suffer from guilt. I just hope it was the hens and not rats! A nest located high will keep everyone, other girls from wandering in to peck eggs….egg envy? Look at the legs. Whoever has yellow legs is NOT laying. Legs turn an awful white/silvery-grey, almost green color when they are laying.


    July 14, 2010

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    Indeed we do (love your puns)

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