Author Archives: Cynthia Lenz

An Opossum Primer

The other day I overheard a conversation about ‘possums.   (FYI, I wasn’t eaves-dropping. I was three feet away.  I couldn’t help it!) When a woman remarked that ‘possums are scary, I wanted to run over and exclaim, “they are not!  They are really misunderstood!”  I didn’t, of course, because it wouldn’t have been appropriate.

So, I figured the next best thing would be to write a blog post, just in case any of my dear readers may be laboring under the same misunderstanding about our friend, the opossum.  By the way, opossum is the proper spelling.

I can understand why people may make assumptions about opossums based on their appearance.  They look rather intimidating with their long thick, rat-like, bald tails and a mouth full of impressively sharp, pointy teeth.  However, oppossums rarely attack attack humans or other animals.  When threatened, they are far more like likely to go into a catatonic state, looking like they are dead or sick…thus the expression: “playing ‘possum.”  In fact, they can even secrete a foul-smelling liquid making them smell as if they have passed on.

Now that we know opossums aren’t scary, let’s address another common misconception: ‘possums probably have rabies.  Unlike raccoons, cats, foxes, coyotes and dogs, opossums are unlikely to get rabies because their body temperature is too low.  So, if you see one even during the day, don’t freak out.  It may be a hungry mother with up to 20 babies in her pouch.

That’s right-pouch.  Opossums are North America’s only native marsupial or pouched mammal.  How cool is that?  You don’t have to go Australia to see a marsupial.  Just watch your garbage cans at night.  Here are some other neat facts about opossums:

  • The opossum has opposable thumbs and weak nails, much like primates.
  • They use that rat-like prehensile tail for climbing and gripping things. They can even carry things with their tails, making it similar to a fifth hand.
  • They have a built-in venom antidote.  They can eat rattlesnakes without getting poisoned.  Personally, I am down with any creature who eats snakes.  (I know I am a vegetarian but snakes freak me out!)
  • Opossums actually eat a lot of insects and pests that you don’t want in your garden like slugs and snails.  So, you should be happy if you spot one in your yard.  If you have any blackened fruit, leave it out for their dessert.

I hope opossums will seem a little cuter, or at least, cooler to you now.  And if you see one that is injured, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center to see if they can retrieve the animal or advise you on proper way to capture the opposum and bring it to them.

* Photo by Norman Curtis

2017 Garden Moments

A week ago, it was in the 70s then Fall finally arrived for a few days. Yesterday, it seemed like Winter came early.  Brrrrrr!!!!

Here are some shots from my 2017 Garden to warm things up (Click on the photo to view a larger image.):

Tiny seedlings

Tiny seedlings turn into Great Starts

 

 

 

 

 

Waste not! Eat those thinned out seedlings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miles the Compost Pile is born!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Care and Feeding of Miles…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything in my little pocket farm was grown from seed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotta have some ornamentals too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tillandsia (air plant) Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the tomatoes: Baby Beefsteaks, Baby!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zuke and Cuke Blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Zuke!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reaping and eating the harvest!

Zoodles! (Zuke Noodles)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Cukes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home for the Bees 🐝

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunflowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for viewing.  I hope you enjoyed my little garden tour.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

We Forget We Are All The Same

I was watching Accidental Courtesy last night.  It’s a documentary about Daryl Davis, a black musician who befriends Ku Klux Klan members in his spare time.

I admired Davis for having the courage and open-heartedness to reach out to people who are determined to be his enemy because of his skin color.  Over the years, Davis has won over many white supremacists through his willingness to hear them and extend his hand in friendship.  Dozens of high-ranking former Klan members have even given Davis their robes when they left the KKK.  It was heartening to see someone succeeding at making the world a better place.

Near the end of the film, the mood shifted a bit when this peaceful, generous man was forced to defend himself by Kwame Rose of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Rose accused Davis of wasting his time with white supremacists when he could have been doing more to help his own people.  A heated exchange ensued and Rose stormed off, unwilling to listen Davis’ point of view.  It was painful to watch a young man be so disrespectful to this wonderful pacifist.  It was also difficult to see Davis lose his cool a little with Rose, when he manages to have civil dialogues with people who express deeply disturbing white supremacist views.

It seems to me that there is room for more than one approach when comes to dealing with hate and injustice.  Although, things will always break down when we stop talking to each other, deciding that our way is the only way.

Meet Miles The Compost Pile!

I have been feeling a little guilty ever since I put up this post, Naturally Resourceful: Getting Scrappy with Vegetables! I mentioned in that post that I was too time-crunched to have a compost heap even though it would be great for my plants and the environment.

Nothing has changed schedule-wise for me since then.  However, my passion for gardening is now completely unhinged.  (It gets me through the day, people!)   I found I was spending an enormous amount of money on compost which is so riduculous considering I was, guiltily, throwing away things all the time that can be composted.  So, I decided to save money, myself from guilt and, hopefully a little of the environment by starting a compost bin.

I decided to use this garbage pail because it has a lid and I want to keep creatures out of my bin.  I burned holes in the sides:

And the lid:

With a hot glue gun.  I do not endorse this method because melting plastic never seems like a great idea.  However, my cordless drill wasn’t charged (as usual) and I really wanted to get it done.  I waited until I could no longer smell melted plastic and then gave the can a good swabbing before I started to add compost ingredients.

There are so many good resources for what to put in compost and even more importantly, what not to, like Jeff Yeager’s Rotten Luv, I am not going to go into too much detail.  Basically, you want a 2:1 ratio of brown matter to green matter.  I used newspaper shreds for brown matter.  (I figured The NY Times was appropriate for a compost heap named Miles) and for the green matter, I put in coffee grounds, eggshells (No, I didn’t eat the eggs!), plant stems, veggie and fruit peels.

Yum!

I layered the ingredients and gave it a stir.  And that’s it.  I’ll keep adding the ingredients in that 2:1 ratio, and keep stirring it up.  Mostly,  I can just let nature turn it into Black Gold for me.  There are more significant holes in the bottom of the can.  I placed it directly on dirt in the hopes that some worms will find their way in and take up residence, further enriching Miles with their castings.

Why did I name my compost heap?  Jeff Yeager named his Gomer.  I thought it was funny.  So, I decided mine needed to be named too.  So, Miles the Pile was born yesterday May 27, 2017.  I am looking forward to seeing him and my garden grow!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Eat Your Seedlings!

Is that a vicious title or what?  Actually, I’ve decided eating seedlings is the kindest thing to do.

The hardest part of gardening, in my opinion, has to be thinning seedlings.  You spend a week or more, wishing, hoping and praying that your seeds germinate and grow.  Then they do!  Then you have to wipe out a sizable portion of them because there are always too many or none at all, nothing in between. They need to be spaced properly or they won’t grow but MY GOD, I don’t want to decide which ones have to go.  I want to nurture them but in order to do that I have to ruthlessly pick which ones get to live.  Yeesh!

The other thing that bothered me is that it seemed so wasteful to just toss them.  So, I decided to eat them!  Now, I prefer to think of them as sprouts, instead of my victims and they are delicious!

So, how is your garden growing this year?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Seeds Update

There is some good news and not so good news.

Bad news first,  the indoor herb seedlings didn’t make it.  I suspect I didn’t get the peat pots wet enough to start and the sides needed to be covered better with the plastic.  I’ll direct sow them again outside.  I think they will be fine.  I’ll just need to wait a little longer to harvest them.

Now for the good news!  The tomato plants are doing great.  So great in fact, I needed to find homes for them.  Several people have said they will be happy to adopt the little leafy guys once they are hardened off and can live outside.  They should be ready in about two weeks.

So, tell me how is your garden growing?

Many  blessings,

Cynthia

Planting Seeds of Hope and Happiness

I was at Home Depot last week trying bring a project that was banging around my head to fruition when I spied the organic seed section…  Uh-oh.  It’s amazing how quickly seed packets can stack up in your cart.

Now, I have tried to grow plants from seed several times before. I haven’t tried indoor seeds in many years.  I tend to be more successful when I direct sow outdoors in the Spring but that means I never get to grow certain plants like tomatoes from seed.  So, with a heart full of optimism, here we go again…

Baby Tomato Plants

Baby Basil

Do you grow your own plants from seed?  I would love to hear from you.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

The Day After Soup

Let me apologize for the somewhat dramatic and still somehow vague title of this post. I just couldn’t think of anything else…

I went out to eat last night. The Italian food I had was quite delicious and I didn’t overindulge -I didn’t even have bread or wine- but I am having the same problem I always do the day after I eat out, salt and oil overload! Even vegetarians can’t escape the liberal generous mammoth use of salt at restaurants. I am just not used to it and feel a bit off today.

My first attempt to rebalance was to make a large smoothie:

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An all fruit smoothie has a lot of natural sugar in it but I am not sweating that because it is packed with natural fiber, vitamins, micronutrients and a high water content … which I need right now.

My next order of business was to start up a nourishing vegetable soup:

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Making a veggie soup once a week is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. You don’t even need a recipe. Chop up a few cups of colorful vegetables, throw them in a pot and cover them with broth or water, add spices, add heat and wait. I like to throw mine in my little crockpot. Heat on high and it’s ready in time for lunch, on low for dinner. Add pre-cooked beans and you have a complete meal. (I would suggest waiting until the last 20 minutes before adding any leafy greens to avoid over cooking.)

So, there are two of my picks to stay healthy during the holidays.  How do you stay in balance this time of year?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter. Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

New Dragon Egg

Just a quick post for fun and to remind you to explore your creative interests.  It’s easy to neglect your hobbies this time of year.  If you are a creative person though, you may start to feel cranky and out of sorts.  Sneak in a little time for yourself.

Newest Dragon Egg

I finally finished this Dragon Egg.  I started working on it in August!!!  I am pretty happy with the way it turned out.  The color changes significantly depending on the light.

Dragon Egg on HandIt looks much bluer here.  It’s sort of a silvery periwinkle with pinky-rose glittery accents.  Much girlier than my last dragon egg.

Two Dragon Eggs

Two Dragon Eggs

Here it is, side by side with the first one I made.  I have to make a stand for it.

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Please follow me on Twitter. Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page.

justdragonfly

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