Folk Thursday: Tupac

For Devin, Joey and Tevin. Good luck in St. Louis this weekend, guys. I love you, and I am ridiculously proud of you for taking a stand. The root of the problems you’re trying to solve predates all of us, but I’ve known since the minute I set foot in Room 204 that if anybody can get this world moving in the right direction, my kids can.

Go save the world. ❤

(And the rest of you: Say a prayer, light a candle, or just hold a good thought for my kids this weekend. They're planning to travel 400 miles to participate in a very large protest on a very controversial issue, and things could get … tense.)

Love,
Ms. Priddy

P.S.: I realize Tupac isn't folk, but his lyrics are at least as powerful as anything Bob Dylan or Joan Baez ever had to say. I'm just sorry they're still relevant. I'd hoped they'd be obsolete by this point, but we still have a long way to go.

Fall chore

Ron picks the meat out of a cracked walnut.
Ron picks the meat out of a cracked walnut.

For the first time in about 30 years, I harvested black walnuts this weekend.

We had a tree in our yard when we were a kid. Mom and I used to go outside in old shoes we didn’t care about and stomp the soft outer hulls off of them so we could bring them in, crack them and pick out the meat. Then the tree died, and I didn’t have access to walnuts again until last year, when we moved here. The tree in the yard next door overhangs our driveway and throws sap and nuts all over our cars.

We didn’t get any walnuts last year, because the squirrels stole them. This year, we gathered the nuts as they fell and kept them in a basket in the garage.

Black walnuts with the outer hulls stripped from them. The nuts you see filled the basket before i removed the hulls.
Black walnuts with the outer hulls stripped from them. The nuts you see above filled that basket before I removed the hulls.
Hulls. Never put these in your compost or garden; they contain a natural herbicide that will kill anything you try to grow.
Hulls. Never put these in your compost or garden; they contain a natural herbicide that will kill anything you try to grow.
Here's all the nut meat we removed from the shells.
Here’s all the nut meat we removed from the shells.

Black walnuts are a pain to process — you have to stomp off the outer hulls, let them dry for a week or two, crack them with a hammer, and pick out all the meat, which takes foreeeeeeever — but the payoff is pretty good, as you know if you’ve ever had black walnut beer or chocolate-chip cookies with black walnuts in them, and it was kind of satisfying to do something I haven’t done since I was a kid. I might pay someone else to process them next time, though. We’ve got another 250 I stomped the other day, and I’m sure another 50 to 100 have fallen from the tree since then. There’s a limit to how long I’m willing to spend processing walnuts in one season.

Emily

Random question

Why is it that the macaroni you get in prefabbed boxes of mac and cheese is straight, but the kind you get by itself is curved? Is this a cost-saving maneuver? Like, does it cost extra to curl it? Or will the straight kind only breed in captivity? I’m truly baffled.

Yeah, I have no idea why I thought of that, either, but I bet you can guess what kind of high-quality dinner I made for myself this evening.

Lunch: frozen pizza.
Dinner: mac and cheese out of a box and two leftover pigs in blankets.
Dessert: Franken Berry and a big glass of grape Kool-Aid, prolly.

It’s like I’m not even pretending to be an adult any more.

Speaking of Franken Berry, today’s BlogHer prompt was: “Tell us about your favorite autumnal treat.”

Until last fall, I’d have said caramel apples, but then I found out General Mills waltzes out the monster cereals (Franken Berry, Count Chocula and Boo Berry) for Halloween. I have no idea why anyone would want blueberry-flavored anything, and as much as I love chocolate, I don’t really want it in my cereal, but I have developed an inexplicable fondness for Franken Berry. It’s pretty much the only thing I find tolerable about fall, and it certainly beats the hell out of these pumpkin-spice abominations that have flooded the market lately.

I can’t decide what irritates me more: Ruining perfectly good beer and coffee by lacing them with squash extract, or giving indecisive twentysomething girls who don’t like coffee one more excuse to tie up the line at Starbucks. (If I haven’t had my coffee yet, and you’re the only thing standing between me and it, it’s probably in your best interest to hurry up. Just sayin’.)

Anyway. Franken Berry. Getchu some.

Emily

For Mary and Sharon

Two of our former colleagues are getting married!

I’m still pretty hacked off about the Hobby Lobby decision and its aftermath, but every now and then, the Supremes get one right. They most definitely got it right today.

Constitution, 1; bigotry, 0.

Enjoy your day, ladies. You know we’d be there if we could. As it is, I’ll just sit here in Missouri with Vienna Teng’s voice running through my head and joy in my heart as two fine journalists and dedicated wildlife rehabilitators add “changed the world for the better” to their resumes.

Emily

Munchkins

Ron hadn’t driven my new car yet, and I hadn’t had a chance to see what kind of mpgs I could coax out of it on two-lane highways, so we took it to Mom and Dad’s today and spent the afternoon hanging out with the kids. Here are a few photos:

Grandma helped Ollie fill the hole with water before planting his tree.
Grandma helped Ollie fill the hole with water before planting a tree.
Hazel helped Papa push the dirt up around hers.
Hazel helped Papa push the dirt up around hers. I love this picture. Projects like this are how I turned into a hippie.
Jamie is getting the hang of using the back of the rake to shove dirt around the trunk of the tree.
Jamie is getting the hang of using the back of the rake to shove dirt around the trunk of the tree.
Hazel and her daddy played Frisbee.
Hazel and her daddy played Frisbee.
Frisbee!
Frisbee!
Hazel tie-dyed that T-shirt during my last visit. It turned out really well.
Hazel tie-dyed that T-shirt during my last visit. It turned out really well.
The boys wanted to show off their new bunk bed before we left. Hazel liked climbing up and touching the ceiling.
The boys wanted to show off their new bunk bed before we left. Hazel is now trying to convince her parents to get her one. There appears to be a little monster under the lower bunk. 🙂

For the record, the mileage meter was showing about 18 mpg when we left town. I’d driven about 20 miles on that tank — all of it in town, which is full of hills and stoplights. It’s about 60 miles to Mom and Dad’s house, and it was showing 28.4 mpg when we got home, so I’m guessing on a long road trip, we could get at least 30 mpg if we did a little hypermiling. I’ll probably drive the Dreamcar in town when the roads are clear and reserve the Subaru for weekend lumberyard runs and days when there’s ice in the weather forecast. I really enjoy driving a station wagon, so it will be a nice treat to offset the general crappiness of having to get out of bed on winter mornings.

Emily

Eco-Saturday: Foaming soap

Stretch your soap with water in a foaming dispenser.
Stretch your soap with water in a foaming dispenser.

If you’re concerned about the environment, you’re probably already in the habit of refilling your hand soap dispensers instead of buying new ones. If you’re cheap, you’re probably already in the habit of refilling them with dishwashing liquid, because it costs less than hand soap. But if you want to be really cheap and conserve even more, you need to pay attention to the kind of dispenser you use.

Next time you’re low on hand soap, grab a bottle of the foaming kind. The pump on the bottle is designed to mix air into the soap, turning it into a foam that goes farther, spreads over your hands more readily and rinses off more easily than traditional liquid soap so you end up using less soap, less water and, ultimately, less packaging.

Shake it up to mix the soap and water.
Shake it up to mix the soap and water.

When the bottle is empty, fill it about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up with dishwashing liquid (I’m fond of Seventh Gen’s lavender kind, but plain old Dawn or whatever will work as well), then fill it the rest of the way with water, leaving a couple of inches of headspace to allow room to put the pump back in. Screw the bottle shut, shake it up, and you’re good to go.

I added a bit too much soap to this round, because my bottle wasn't completely empty when I started, but I can water it down as I go.
I added a bit too much soap to this round, because my bottle wasn’t completely empty when I started, but I can water it down as I go.

The fluffier you like your foam, the less soap you should use, so play around with the proportions to get it the way you want it.

Emily

Vegan Friday: Blackeyed peas

I had a picture of the finished product, but my phone ate it. The picture, I mean. Not the food.
I had a picture of the finished product, but my phone ate it. The picture, I mean. Not the food.

This is slightly belated because I actually made my Vegan Friday recipe for dinner on Friday instead of doing it in advance. It’s a good one, though — quick, easy, cheap and very good for you.

Blackeyed Peas
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 hot pepper, sliced (I used cayenne because I had some on hand)
Grapeseed or olive oil
1 can blackeyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes

Fresh cayenne. My peppers are producing like crazy in the garden.
Fresh cayenne. My peppers are producing like crazy in the garden.

Saute the first two ingredients in grapeseed or olive oil until pepper softens. Add hot pepper (if using) and saute gently for a few minutes. Stir vegetable mixture, blackeyed peas and diced tomatoes together in a saucepan and cook until heated through. Makes two dinner-sized servings.

This is particularly nice on a cool fall evening. It’s also good over green chile cornbread.

Emily

NaBloPoMo

November is traditionally National Blog Posting Month, but BlogHer offers the option of jumping on during any month. Two months into my Facebook boycott, I’m still not blogging as much as I’d intended, so I went ahead and signed up. I figured that’d keep me honest, and I might score a few new readers as well. My traffic went straight to hell with my posting habits, and efforts to bring it back have yielded less than stellar results.

The theme for this month, as assigned by BlogHer, is “CRUNCH.” Today’s prompt: “Tell us about your favourite autumnal sound.”

James Earl Jones’ voice has to be my favorite autumnal sound.

Stay with me.

I generally loathe fall. It’s the end of summer, the end of my garden and the end of baseball season. That’s basically the trifecta of suck.

I get through the long, painful slog between the World Series and the first day of spring training by watching baseball movies. I basically spend the entire winter watching baseball movies. And there is not a single baseball movie I love more than Field of Dreams, which I used to watch with my sophomore English students. I will never get tired of hearing James Earl Jones deliver that speech about baseball being the one constant. It sustains me.

When I can’t deal with one more minute of dismal weather, I break out my DVD collection and let Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones pull me through.

Baseball has marked the time.

Emily