Of hummus and headaches

I’ve had a miserable headache all day.  It ebbs and flows, and right now it’s flowing and I’m squinting at the screen and holding my breath.  I think I’m going to break down and take a Vicodin before bed.  As a result I’ve been less productive today than I wanted to be.  I had planned to do a lot of stuff, including writing, but it all got away from me.

Hummus topped with whole chickpeas and olive oil.
Much nicer looking than my hummus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did manage to make hummus.  Yesterday when our neighbor, Linda, came over with a bottle of wine and some paper cups (It’s so good having kindred spirits surrounding us.) the talk turned to chickpeas (I want to plant some this year.) and hummus. (Linda says she has her aunt’s recipe for the best hummus ever.)  So last night I put some chickpeas on to soak and this morning I put some in the sprouter and cooked the rest.  Problem was I was sure I had tahini, but I was wrong.  Fortunately I found a jar of sesame seeds which were frankly just a bit older than they ought to have been.  However I was on a mission, and having to make my own tahini with raw, elderly sesame seeds was not going to stop me.  So I processed the seeds with olive oil, then tossed in the chickpeas, more oil, a lot of lemon juice and garlic, salt and some hot sauce.  And you know what?  It was good!  It’s not the best I’ve ever eaten and it’s inelegant and not perfectly smooth, but it was good and I enjoyed it.  I have a jar of it in the fridge along with more cooked chickpeas for salad this week.

Tomato seedling

I also have a terrifying amount of lentil (green, red and beluga), broccoli, cress, and radish sprouts in the fridge, a lot of chickpeas in the sprouter and a mix of kamut, amaranth and wheat berries soaking.  I’m on a sprouting binge and I won’t be happy until I’ve tried to sprout every seed, nut and grain in the house.  I have an avocado pit in the kitchen window that should be popping soon, half a dozen lettuce and two celery bottoms in our raised bed, and a pineapple top in a jar of water in the window.  I also have a tomato plant growing from a seed I would normally just have washed down the drain.  Unfortunately not long after I took the picture of the little proto tomato plant, Peeb tore it out of the pot.  I now have a second one growing, out of her reach.

Why am I doing all this?  Well I get obsessed with things, and right now it’s spring and growing stuff seems like something I really, really want to be doing.  Our garden budget isn’t very big this year, so growing stuff from kitchen scraps is something that makes sense.  And I really believe that if we can we should grow things to help feed our bodies and our souls.  A garden is one of the best anti-depressants I know. (You can read more about the garden and life at the Villa on the blog I share with Glinda, Those 2 Nice Girls Next Door.)

Venus of Willendorf Fertility Goddess cast 240...
Venus of Willendorf Fertility Goddess cast 24000 to 22000 BCE (Photo credit: mharrsch)

This afternoon I got a couple of packages in the mail, one of which is my new talisman.  I think I’ve mentioned that I have this superstition about having a talisman for every novel I write.  So when I started Nine Lives, a novel that has its roots in an old piece I wrote entitled “Cat Tales.” I knew I wanted a proper talisman for it, to help differentiate it from the original in my mind.  I chose a Willendorf Goddess pendant in sodalite, and I’m wearing it now along with my silver pentacle and the golden bear my mother brought me from Bern, Switzerland.  It’s a touchstone for the novel, and along with the other two, makes me feel… safe I guess.  Or just in the right place in the universe, which is probably as good a definition of safe as any other.

So now I have hungry cats who have interesting ways of making their desires known, and I should pay attention.  G’night all.  Pleasant dreams.




I have it on good authority…

That miss Glinda is working on a post.  So I’m just going to share some photos I took today and then split.


The Lady

The rose we call “Mary” after Charles’ wife, who gave it to us.

Pachysandra, an excellent ground cover.  It’s finally taking hold.

Miss Peeb, taking the air.

and Leo, catching some rays

Get out and enjoy the day!  Laters…

As promised

Snaps from the front porch

A white hyacinth and some beautiful blue and white violas.
These are some of my favorite violas; I look for them every spring.
Nemesia, Opal Innocence.  I don’t recall ever having seen this flower
before, but it has a gorgeous scent.
One of the big pots on the steps, filled with stock, nemesia and
something mysterious.  I can’t find a stake for it in the collection
I kept while we were planting, so I have no idea what it is 
No really, does anyone have any idea what this is?
One of the two big, blue pots, planted with pansies and ranunculus.
It’ll fill in eventually.

Ranunculus.  In the shade we have on the porch it’ll last for several months if the weather dosesn’t turn
hideous hot.

Rainy day in Chicago. Again.

After a couple of really nice, sunny days warm enough to go without a jacket, we’re having more rain.  The rivers are still really high, so if this lasts very long, there’s going to be more flooding, I fear. This morning I caught sight of this guy wandering around in the street.

I went out back to take a few pics because the color always seems a bit better when it’s overcast.

Daffs and the (newly transplanted) Rhododendron

Violas always do well with The Lady

Radish sprouts.  Only in the front.  Middle and back are carrots which have yet to show themselves.

When we transplanted this, it only had a few leaves.

Unfortunately I underestimated the force of the rain, and ended up coming in before I went in front.  Yesterday we went up to Gethsemane and bought plants to put in the pots in front.  It was then that we realized how unrealistic our budget has been.  We’re rethinking it now.

And I have to report that the babies have left the building.  Yup, yesterday we discovered that two of the buns had fled the nest.  Today, the raised bed is completely empty.  They leave at Mom’s urging at about four weeks, apparently, which is about how old I thought they were.  I know their eyes have been open for about 10 days, so the youngest they can be is about three weeks.  They’re good-size buns, now pretty much as big as a (not small) orange.  I’m sure they’ll do well, though I doubt they’ll ever call or write.  I just hope they’ll friend us on Facebook.

If the weather improves a bit, I’ll take some pics of the flowers in front and post them later.  Until then you’ll have to be content with this vid of me and Peeb staying warm together.

Comments, I get comments…

spam (Photo credit: Vince_Lamb)

Spammers are becoming more sneaky in their approach.  For example, I got this comment from someone who seems to be selling jewelry: “I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.”

How very kind of you to worry about me and my website.  I can only hope that the host prevents you from getting to it at all in the future.  You’re welcome.

And this, which not only spams, it’s intended to send the site owner on a wild goose chase: “When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!”  To which I say, “How’s it feel, you douchenozzle?  You’re welcome.”  Interestingly enough I got the exact same comment from two entirely different people.  What are the odds?

And this one: “This web page does not show up appropriately on my i phone – you may want to try and repair that”  Dude, if you’re using your iPhone to spam me, you’re working WAY harder than you need to.  You’re welcome.

If they ever actually read this blog they’d know that they’re a constant source of amusement.  Sans the links to whatever they’re selling, of course.

Off to empty the spam.  Have a good one.  You’re welcome.



A beautiful day in the neighborhood…

It was a nice day.  Glinda, bless her, went out early and got some coffee over at Regulus because we were out.  We had Portage Park blend which was tasty if a little thin.  Probably heavy on the Central American beans.  Breakfast was that and some of the cardamom cake I made for her birthday.

We’d agreed to go out and do a little work in the garden, some pruning, a bit of clean-up.  We ended up moving plants (That was all Glinda.) sowing seeds and ogling the baby bunnies.  We have an azalea that’s never done well, it’s never bloomed for us, and it looks vaguely burnt much of the time.  I thought it was getting a bit too much sun, so today we moved it so that it would be in part shade.  When Glinda dug it up, we realized that maybe it wasn’t sun so much as something else.  It looked like we’d pulled it right out of a pot.  She tried teasing the roots free of all that compacted soil, and managed to get them out a bit.  I’m just hoping the work will pay off.

Also moved: Our rhododendron, which blossoms half-heartedly.  Needs more sun, I think.  Two hydrangeas one of which needed more sun and one less, and one of the cypresses.  We were digging it up when we realized it had a very long tap root.  We dug and we pulled and we tugged, and broke some of the root off… and then we realized it couldn’t be from the cypress.  It was from the old lilac in the corner, and it had invaded the cypress root ball.  They’re separated now, and the lilac has received a stern talking-to.

I sowed a lot of seeds today; asparagus, onions, wildflowers, edamame and some moss spores.  I also had hundreds of cleome seeds from my dentist, and I laid them down in two spots and still had a lot left over, so made packets of seeds for our neighbors, the Carloses and the Lindas.  Linda came by to see the baby bunnies — she did a silent squee when she finally saw them — and I also gave her some fern fronds that I’d cut.  I don’t know if they’ll reproduce but what have we lost by putting the spores in/on the ground?  Just a dying frond that we’d normally have just tossed out.

To say thanks she brought us half a loaf of buccellato, an anise-flavored Italian yeast bread with raisins. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that Glinda and I finished the half loaf over more coffee when we came indoors.  It was that good.  Be fair, though, we’d only had coffee and a slice of cake all day and it was five o’clock by that time.  Have I mentioned this week that we have the world’s best neighbors?

While we were inside, Glinda looked down and saw that Mom rabbit had returned to nurse her babies, and we managed to get some pics.

Check the little feet waving in the air.

Rabbit moms only nurse for a short time, apparently.  But after she left, the kids ran around for a bit and yea, we got a video.  Here it is.  You’re welcome.

Please to ignore the goofy women talking in the background.

Bunnilicious Photos

I’m sorry if these are a little vague or out of focus, but it was clear I was scaring them and I wanted to get away from there as fast as possible.

Looking down from above.  That’s garlic growing next to the baby’s nose.

From across the bed.  You can see there are two of them in there.
This is the bold one, and the biggest.  He’s all the way across the bed from his sibs.

They live in a place where lettuce and bananas appear magically, and big, scary things say, “Aren’t you beautiful!” to them.  Life is very strange when you’re so new, I imagine.  No, I haven’t touched them, and I won’t unless something awful happens and they need help.

I think I’d like to name the big one “Bilbo.”  Glinda and I need to discuss that.

We Haz Bunnies!

Display of Lindt chocolate bunnies
Display of Lindt chocolate bunnies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since it’s garbage day, I had to brave the rain to take out a bag of kitchen waste, and as long as I was already wet I figured I’d walk the garden.  I’d noticed that Rita was swimming in water again, which is weird because there are holes in the bottom of her pot.  I tipped the pot to pour off the water and  then went over to look at the nest.  Now understand it’s been pouring out for about 24 hours, and yesterday I saw no movement at all under the cover of fur, so I had no hope that the bunnies were even alive in there.

Boy was I wrong.  Mom moved the top off the nest in the night. We have at least three beautiful baby bunnies.  They look fully furred, but I don’t think they can possibly be four weeks old yet.  Their eyes are open which means they’re at least 10 days to two weeks old.  They’re about the size of small oranges, and just beautiful.  It does explain why she was so bold that day that Glinda and I were in the garden.  She had a nest filled with babies even then.

I’ll take some pics when I can, so long as I’m not disturbing them.  Until then here’s a nice article about baby buns:  Everything You Wanted to Know About Baby Rabbits.

Rain, Rabbits, Reminiscences

I like a good storm, and that’s more or less what we’re having right now.  The sky, which was dark all day, has reached the streetlights-on stage.  It’s pissing down rain, and frankly I’m worried about our baby bunnies.  I recognize that this is what they all go through, more or less, when they’re born in the spring.  Nevertheless, I sprinkled a handful of pine needles on top of the nest in hope of letting them take the brunt of any hail we might have.  The needles are long and sturdy, and come from Flat Top, our big white pine.  I can’t do anything about the water, and I can’t make their mom come back and care for them, though I think she was there last night.  I left a banana out for her and it got gnawed during the night.  Bananas are my Bunny Early Warning System; they like them with the peel left on. As of yesterday afternoon, the babies were moving around in the nest.  No movement today that I could see.  And no, I haven’t touched the nest.  I just observe.

I’m jumpy about hail.  Last year our lights got smashed to shit in our last hailstorm, and a baby bunny got killed. Glinda found him lying on the patio.  He wasn’t more than three or four inches long, and looked absolutely perfect save for a little smear of blood on his temple where he had been hit by a hailstone.

We buried him, and found a perfect little monument  at Home Goods which we call “The Tomb of the Unknown Bun.”  It’s starting to get mossy, after a year outside, but is holding up really well. This year I’ve planted Forget-Me-Not seeds around it.  I hope I won’t have to bury any more bunnies.  He wasn’t my first.  I buried our pet rabbit, Nutmeg, in my mother’s garden.

Why do we do that?  Respect mostly.  Glinda and I believe that it’s right to show respect to living things when you can.  When I found a dead rat in our composter (Put there by the guys who were doing our patio.) I really wanted to bury him, but I didn’t and felt terrible about it for weeks afterwards.  You can laugh if you want to.

So, the worst of the storm seems to be over for the time being.  I don’t know what’s going to happen later tonight.   But I have Peebie here helping me write.  (I’m working on a story; this post is the required procrastination.), and Leo sacked out nearby.  A cup of tea and I’m set.