Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Enter the crabapples

Sometimes, it's good to lie upside down on the soft, violet-stippled grass of a cemetery and stare up at crabapple blossoms.  We are lucky to have Historic Green-Wood almost on our doorstep.


Spring Walks and Picnics 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How to Help South African Flood Victims

Photo: Rogan Ward, Reuters

To help victims of the unprecedented floods in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, you can donate to Gift of the Givers Foundation

For non-South African donors, my suggestion is a donation of R300, which is a fraction over $20. If you can give more, please do. Fresh water, shelter, and food are desperately needed.

The number of deaths is rising and is at 443 at the time of writing. Most victims were shack dwellers - people living in the informal and flimsy, foundationless shelters that characterize most of South Africa's city-fringes. 

If you use Facebook, you can also donate to Charlize Theron's Africa Outreach Project, which has set up a fund exclusively for the Kwa-Zulu Natal relief efforts.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Empty windows

Nothing much to see here, really (or is there...?) but this view of the street means that spring has been declared.  The citrus trees have moved out to the terrace. 

The blue suitcase is one of several that will stash winter sweaters and mittens and scarves once they have all been washed and cedar-balled. And the boxy thing on the windowsill is a fancy noise machine that we bought at our last place, when unpredictable neighbors threatened our slumber. It makes very good cricket sounds, wave sounds, rain sounds. And other, esoteric sounds. Now, the machine is a helpful option for warmer nights when a souped-up, drive-by car, tweaked to backfire like gunshots cruises the blocks at random. The day of the subway shooting? Not a great day to hear that damn car.

Fat floor pillows will move in, now, the suitcase will move out, and the bay window will be a place for humans to spread out, lie on their backs, and look at the ceiling. It's remarkably therapeutic.

On Gardenista, you can see how our terrace wakes up, as the bedroom empties out.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Street Spring

While I never park our car beneath one (because we love her) I am very grateful to see the callery pears in bloom in the neighborhood.  

Their blossoms are a delightful froth, but the trees topple or drop limbs with little warning. They are described in arborist's terms as being weak-crotched. The trees have also become significantly invasive beyond their cosmopolitan habitats.

Speaking of weak crotches and super-invaders, if you are wondering what else you can do to support Ukraine against the invasion by Putin, look to your wallets: not for donations (assuming you have made those), but for withholding. The New York Times recently published a list of companies doing business with Russia, and it is depressing. In some cases, you can easily boycott their products. I have a guilty soft spot for Hellmann's mayonnaise, for instance, and I am hard-wired to eat Marmite. Both are manufactured by Unilever, one of those conscienceless mega-entities. 

Mayo is easy to make and miso is a good stand-in for Marmite.

It reminds me of the brands I grew up eating and sipping, as a white child in apartheid South Africa. Marmite, again, was one of them. So was Coca Cola (it was an occasional treat, but I loved it). Pepsi, on the other hand, withdrew. 

Capitalism is capitalism, but as a consumer you carry some weight. Throw it around.


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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Artichokes - flowers, or food?


These beautiful, meaty artichokes were grown by Ocean Mist Farms

In my story about artichokes for Gardenista I wonder whether it is more rewarding to grow the giant thistles for food or for flowers. There is also a very delicious recipe for the roasted buds, with hot butter. 

Another good way to eat them is very simple. I stir a vinaigrette together and then divide it between the cleaned, cooked hearts. (Leftover dressing lasts well in the fridge.)

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Larger pinch of sugar
1 Tablespoon finely chopped red onion
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, salt and sugar and stir well. Add the chopped onions and leave to for 30 minutes. Just before serving beat in the olive  oil with a fork. Pour into cooked, cleaned artichoke hearts for dipping.


Sunday, April 3, 2022

Bloodroot in bloom

One of the most fleeting of spring's ephemeral wildflowers is bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, native to the eastern US and Canada. If you catch them early you will find each delicate stalk furled within its leaf. They are exquisite. 

This patch is growing in the woods of Prospect Park, near another that had been stomped by humans or the off-leash dogs that sometimes race through.

(I have become a student of people-with-dogs during the pandemic. The combination tells very interesting stories, most of which the humans are unaware of - the dogs, on the other hand, know. The few folks who let their dogs off-leash in these woods do a lot of ostentatious shouting. And most of the dogs seem frantic. Both human and dog require a very special sort of attention, that neither is getting, apparently. Does one need qualifications to be a dog shrink? Perhaps I can just set up a booth on the sidewalk. But for the migrating birds like woodcock that sometimes rest on this urban forest floor, my brains simmers and steams.) 

Plant bloodroot if you can, and then get on all fours to enjoy the flowers in early spring. They like the shade of deciduous trees, because, like us, they enjoy spring sunlight.


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