Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Journey

The Wild Thanksgiving Turkey

This bird was harvested in the wild this yearby a friend whose proudly holding it. Wild turkey's are abundant in many areas this year. This one was taken near the PA – NY border in the western regions of both states. They are pretty good smoked, pan fried or oven baked for a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Myself, I'm glad Ben Franklin didn't get his way and have the turkey proclaimed the national symbol. The Bald Eagle works fine as a symbol and the turkey is just good eating.


Hard to believe it is almost Thanksgiving 2009. Turkey, parades, football, good foods, family, friends, snow- for a lot of us, deer season – for many. It is a time to share, laugh and remember.
There's a lot of quaint stories about the holiday, like the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, with plates of goodwill and friendship, which really wasn't the first thanksgiving, nor was it all goodwill and peaceful.
The 1621 feast marked the beginning of a lot of treachery and bloodshed. Within a few short months, after the native Wampanoag people fed the starving immigrants, whose food crops failed, the Native People were called “heathens”. Soon, bloody skirmishes, murders and attacks were common place. The mislabeled 1621 first thanksgiving opened a not so pretty chapter in American history.

People long before the arrival of the colonists celebrated thanksgiving. There was no set date; thanksgiving depended on the harvest. There were centuries of dances and songs, periods of fasting and prayer, and great communal meals.
A new twist in the meaning of Thanksgiving happened during another bloody uprising in 1863, the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a day of national Thanksgiving to be held every year, the fourth Thursday of every November. It was to be a day of prayer, reflection and feasting.
Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, also thanked the same Almighty and proclaimed a similar day of Thanksgiving. There wasn't much celebration though as the Confederacy was collapsing; the evil institution of human slavery in the New World, thankfully, was soon to be squashed.
In 1910, the Turkey Trot was the rage; the dance was controversial for many religious groups who attempted to ban it. The ban didn't work., many were thankful. The Macy's Day Parade marched for the first time in 1924 and the first NFL football radio broadcast was on the airwaves in 1934. The Chicago Bears won 19 – 16 defeating the Detroit Lions. Television followed in 1956.
Thanksgiving 1963 was somber as Americans grappled with the assassination of JFK on November 22.
Thanksgiving is a holiday on a long and varied journey, much, much more than a woodland feast in 1621. A hundred or so years from now, how will someone reflect on what we do for the holiday?
What are your thoughts - comments?

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Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes or Yams

I like both but probably prefer the sweet potato. Real sweet potato pie is one of the world's best delicacies, Thanksgiving or not.
Sweet potatoes and yams are two completely separate vegetables from completely different families. Often what is called a “yam” is actually a sweet potato, both terms are often intermingled.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, a three and ½ ounce serving provides twice the recommended daily intake for adults while containing only 141 calories. It is what we add to the dish that drives up the calorie count. The are a health food for more meals than just a Thanksgiving feast.
I grew sweet potatoes one year and the harvest was respectful. They are on the list for spring 2010 experiments. Sweet potatoes do require a growing season of 100 to 150 days, sort of long for a Zone 5, but it can be done. I am thinking of using an old bathtub or making a raised bed which can be easily covered during the famous “cold spells” around here during the summer growing season.
Plants can be purchased from online sources, while some garden centers will also have them available. It is also possible to start you own by taking cuttings from supermarket varieties. If peanuts grow in my garden, certainly tropical sweet potatoes should be able to make it. Peanuts are back on my spring list. Both are attractive and can be used as ornamental plants plants. Both can easily be grown in containers and are distinctive in hanging baskets.

Flu Information Stay informed by clicking the ad below and read Linda Nickerson's article on how to recover if you are suffering from the virus.

Thanksgiving Stuffing from the Backyard

Stuffing is one of the best reasons to grow sage, a perennial evergreen herb. Fresh sage is a world apart for the dried seasonings in cardboard boxes currently on sale in many supermarket chain stores. For some more information on how to grow the herb sage, click here.

Thyme is another good Thanksgiving herb. It is easy to grow, hardy and a good choice, like sage, for container gardening.

And Thanks for the Photo from Nepal

Sadeep posted and sent this photo of a Sahar fish taken from this scenic lake in Pokhar, Nepal recently. He says it is a colorful predator fish, well known in his home country. The fish is used in many popular dishes in the kingdom of Nepal. Thanks for sharing, Sadeep.


Happy Thanksgiving to all, followers, readers, new friends. Thanks for all the support, encouragement and insights. I'm thankful, very thankful for you all, it has been a good journey and more to come.

Blogs Thankfully Recommended.

Urban Veggie Blog – Dan is getting awards and seed saving cucumbers.

On Your Way to the Top - Kathleen has some good thoughts in this blog after a short break from writing and a great article on Christmas presents, here. Guys, this is a good one to read.

Simply Snickers - A great poetry blog with links to a mouth watering pumpkin bread recipe and some hints for cooking the turkey.

Vincent di Fondi– Vincent is living in Costa Rica and has recently published his first novel, Blessed Abuduction. Vincent will be featured in the December issue of International Living Magazine; more on this next post if available. Read Vincent's insights into Coast Rica and click the ad below to purchase his book.
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New York's Southern Tier - Kathleen has a great blog on New York's Southern Tier. So, if you are traveling that region for the holidays, be sure to check out what to see and do.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Veterans Day

Veteran's Day

Tragically, the events at Fort Hood last week, are a bloody reminder of the dangers and sacrifices faced by our military. The gruesome carnage unfolded a few weeks before one of America's most important days of remembrance. Veterans Day is Wednesday, November 11th.

Originally, the day was known as Armistice Day to mark the ending of World War 1. In 1954, under President Dwight Eisenhower and following action by the US Congress, the day was re-named Veterans Day to remember all of our veterans who fought to preserve our freedoms and liberty.

In many communities, it is a special day with memorial services, communal dinners, even parades. In some, it is the day when in a solemn ceremony the flags placed on graves during Memorial Day are burned.

In many communities, veterans organizations such as the American legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are named after the first person from that region who was killed in action. In Union City, a small community in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, the American Legion Post, #237, is named after Lynn LeBarron, a 19 year old private, who was killed in France during World War 1.

The LeBarron Post is one of the largest and most active in a five county area. Hung on the interior walls are many photos of local service men and women, including a picture and a letter written by Lynn LeBarron. It's a likely scenario in towns and cities everywhere.

And there are many forgotten and nameless who sacrificed their lives or lived out their lives crippled and maimed. Older cemeteries with faded graves still decorated with planted heirloom flowers from another era are full of stories and sacrifice.

Wednesday is an important day to stop and reflect and then, do something.

Holiday Mailings to Our Troops

Nov. 13 -Parcel Post to military APO/FPO addresses.
Dec. 4 -First-Class cards and letters or Priority Mail to military APO AE ZIP 093 addresses.
Dec. 11 -First-Class cards and letters or Priority Mail to all other military APO/FPO addresses.
Dec. 18-Express Mail Military Service to all military APO/FPO addresses except APO ZIP 093.
Dec. 4 -Priority Mail and First-Class Mail to Africa and Central or South America International Mail locations.
Dec. 11 -Priority Mail and First-Class Mail to all other International Mail locations.
Dec. 12-Express Mail International to Africa and Central and South America.
Dec. 17 -Express Mail International to all other countries (except Canada, Dec. 18).
Dec. 19-Global Express Guaranteed to all countries (except Canada, Dec. 20

H1N1 Stay Up to Date:

Plant an Oak Tree

Oaks are majestic trees which symbolize strength. This year, the acorn crop is very heavy in some areas. It's easy to take a couple and plant them and grow your own oak tree. Why pay expensive prices at nurseries and big box stores?
Take the acorn and simply push it into the ground, just under the surface, where you want it to grow. Be sure to mark the spot. The acorn should sprout at the onset of warm spring weather.
The acorn can also be placed in a container with drainage holes and placed outside to endure the winter. It helps to cover the pot with screening or mesh to prevent a hungry critter from enjoying a mid-winter meal.
The growing seedling should be transplanted soon after it begins to grow in the pot. They develop are rather long tap root quickly. Once transplanted for the first year or two, I use tomato cages to protect the seedling from rabbits and deer. An oak seedling is a delicacy for some critters.
There are many different species of oak which can be identified either from the bark or the leaves. For wildlife, many chose to plant the valuable white oak, but a red oak is also a valuable wildlife food source and a majestic tree. For more information on how to grow an oak tree for free, click here.

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Send a Card attend a worthy benefit
This has been checked through Snopes and has been posted on Facebook by a number of different people. Noah Biorkman, five years old, has stage IV neuroblastoma. His family is planning on an early Christmas sometime in mid November. Noah wants Christmas cards. Cards would be appreciated: Noah Biorkman, 1141 Fountain View Circle, South Lyon, MI 48178
Locally there are two individual benefits at Mound Grove; onefor Dan “Mrytle” Merski, who is suffering from Crohn's disease; and another for JonPaul Sandusky, who was killed in a tragic automobile accident last week. Merski's benefit is November 21st at Mound Grove; Sandusky's benefit will be November 22.

Blogs I enjoy and Recommend

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

Simply Snickers

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4th Full Moon: Thoughts to Ponder

How to Deal with the Late Tomato Blight in November

Just about everyone can agree, the back yard vegetable gardens did not do so well this past season. The late blight came early and ruined many tomato and potato crops. Infected plants from a large grower were shipped to many states and sold in big box stores.
The weather was also a major factor in the widespread outbreak. Cool, rainy conditions persisted through much of the summer, perfect conditions for a backyard disaster. While weather conditions are far beyond our control, there are some steps that can be taken to prevent a repeat performance.
If the tomatoes were blighted do not place them in the compost pile. The compost pile might be warm enough that the spores will live. It is best to pull the dead plants and burn them or bag them and throw away in the garbage after the bags have sat in the sun for a dew days. The late blight will not survive a northern winter in the soil.
The problem is with potatoes. If the potatoes were blighted, double check to see that they were all dug. Any volunteer sprouts that appear in the spring should be immediately dug and destroyed.
Another hiding spot for the blight spores can be in some weeds in and near the garden. It is best to yank them, burn or dspose.
Carefully select where you will purchase tomato plants next year or grow your own. Many farms and nurseries sell tomato plants in the spring and it is better to buy locally.
There are other blights which can harm tomatoes besides the always fatal late blight. Some of these blights can survive the winter. Prevent those problems by rotating crops every year.
There have been some reports that there will be tomatoes available next year which were bred to be resistant to the late blight. But the time honored favorite varieties will should be okay if the proper steps are taken now. More information on what to do now can be found here from Penn State.

November Thoughts for the Plan

Herbs can play an important role in vegetable gardens and even in flowers gardens. Herbs can attract many beneficial insects and are useful in cooking. Winter is a time to plan for next spring and what herbs to include.
Many herbs can be grown in containers like sage, parsley, thyme, oregano and even rosemary. One herb which probably won't work very well in a container is lovage; it can almost reach six feet tall and three feet wide. With an herb plant that large one or two will be enough.

Lovage can be used as a substitute for celery; it has a taste almost identical; the leaves even look similar to celery leaves and the seeds very similar to celery seeds. Even the roots of this herb can be used, generally in soups and stews.
Lovage, a perennial is winter hardy and isn't bothered by insects, rabbits or deer. While doing a little research on the herb, I discovered that it was a very popular herb in another century and it was often used for a cordial drink.
Another worthwhile plant is salsify. It isn't really an herb but a root crop which has a really mild oyster like flavor. Sometimes it is also called the oyster plant. This vegetable needs about 120 days to mature, but it can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. It's a good veggie for anyone who wants to get a jump start on the season as soon as the snows melt.
Salsify, like lovage, are plants which were grown generations ago. They have sort of fallen by the wayside. Yet both are flavorful, healthy and easy to grow.

Learn and Keep Updated on H1N1

Click the ad for updates, click here about swine and the virus discovered in Minnesota and what it means.

November Turkey

Turkey season in Pennsylvania opened on Halloween. The bird pictured had an 11 ¼ inch beard and was taken at 9:50 am Halloween morning. Turkey are plentiful in the woods this year and the populations seem to be increasing every year. The wild birds taste a lot better than most of the factory farmed birds sold in supermarkets. The stuffing can be made from herbs grown in the garden; sage, lovage and parsley are good to use and the flavor will be nothing like the store boughten mix.
Thanksgiving is the 26th this year.
Seems everyone likes to mention something about Ben Franklin. Here's one of Ben's thoughts. Franklin was so impressed with the turkey that he suggested we use it as a national symbol instead of the eagle. Thomas Jefferson told Ben to go fly a kite on that one.
Wild turkeys can run fast - up too 25 miles per hour. They can fly even faster reaching a top speed of 55 miles per hour.
Today, November 4th is the Full Moon, called the Beaver Moon since in the early days it was a good time to set traps in the swamps. Beaver pelts were important for warm winter clothing. Many animals are more active during the Full Moon phases, including deer. Buck rubs are becoming more common in the woods indicating hunting hot spots. To read more, click here. Be careful driving during the full moon phases, deer can run pretty fast across the roads unexpectedly and cause a lot of damage, possible injuries or worse.

Support Your Local Bookstore

Buy a book, click the ad and support your local bookstore. Maybe a good book on useful herbs in the backyard? Or a book on how to grow tomatoes? Or Vincent di Fondi's latest novel Blessed Abduction?
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For the Heck of it:

November 10, 1951 -This is amazing. On this day, the first coast to coast direct dialing system was available.
became available.
November 10, 1975 - The Edmund Fitzgerald sank.

November 11 is Veterans Day, an important and solemn day.

November 13 – Not so solemn and important but a fun day for some, Sadie Hawkins Day.

November 22 – John Kennedy, the youngest person ever elected US president was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963.

Blogs Worth the Read

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

Simply Snickers

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