Food and football…in Portland

This has nothing to do with the building project, but I’m putting this here because I don’t know a more efficient way to share these. Then again-who doesn’t like a good recipe or two (or three, in this case).

Recently prepared the food for an event at the Portland Museum. It was a very cool neighborhood tour led by former Green Bay Packers player and Portland native-Paul Hornung. If you’re interested in Portland and aren’t familiar with Mr. Hornung-here’s his lengthy wiki entry. The Portland Museum also has a nice exhibit about his Portland childhood. It is a real tribute to his mother’s strength and very touching. Might even cheer for the Packers this year (as long as they’re not playing the Saints).

At any rate, a very nice lady requested some of the recipes from the “tailgating menu” from the event. Here they are:

Beer Cheese

There are a ton of beer cheese recipes out there. I like the ones that use dry mustard and horseradish. Don’t recall where this one came from, but it’s my favorite. It’s rather spicy, but you can adjust the cayenne. I use very little cayenne because I prefer the heat from the mustard and horseradish.

  • 1 lb sharp cheddar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 yellow onion (or any onion really-but not a red/purple one)
  • 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 12-oz beer, flat – I used an Against the Grain beer, but Guinness works well or any beer that has some body but isn’t too dark

Drop onion and garlic into a food processor. Pulse to mince. Add all remaining ingredients except beer. Pulse till well-mixed, scraping down the sides. Pour beer in a stream while running food processor until cheese reaches desired consistency.

This is best if it sits for a day or two. And, it keeps, refrigerated for a long time.
Cole Slaw w/Dried Cranberries and Smoked Almonds

This is better if served a few hours after dressing, but not too long because it can get soggy. It still tastes good, but looks a little “tired” if it sits too long and you want the almonds to stay crunchy. This is a Southern Living magazine recipe.

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 (10-oz.) packages shredded coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup chopped, smoked almonds
  • 3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced

Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until blended. Stir together coleslaw mix and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add vinegar mixture, tossing to coat.
Cream Puffs w/Whipped Cream Filling

I used the cream puff dough for a Coffee Eclair recipe from my absolute favorite cookbook – Paris Sweets. In my next life, I will have a shop that makes and sells only items from this book. It’s an assemblage of some of the very best French desserts. I haven’t made everything in there yet, but will in this lifetime.

Cream Puff Dough

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature (this is important)

Position the racks of the oven to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat to 375 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and keep them nearby.

Fit a large pastry bag with a large star tip. Keep this nearby as well.

Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium low, and quickly stir – energetically- with a wooden spoon. Th  dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring – with vigor – for another two minutes to dry the dough. The dough should now be very smooth.

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or, continue by hand. (Note:  I always do this by hand and always end up with a blister-but it is do-able. You don’t have to have a stand mixer.) Add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is shiny and and thick. Don’t worry if the dough falls apart-by the time the last egg goes in, it will come together again. once all eggs are incorporated-the still warm dough must be used immediately.

At this point, you can spoon the doughy into the pastry bag and plop out some pretty round cream puffs. Or, you can spoon out the dough for the size cream puff you want onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave about two inches between each one.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 8 minutes before slipping the handle of a wooden spoon into the oven door to keep it slightly ajar. When the puffs have baked for another 12 minutes, rotate the pans front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking approximately 8 more minutes until they’re golden and firm. (Note:  I poke a tiny hole in each puff after about the first 8 minutes, I read somewhere it helps them rise a bit-that may or may not be true-but I do it anyway).

Remove thepuffs to a rack and let them cool.

Whipped Cream

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Chill a metal bowl and the mixer beaters. Place sugar in bowl. Add heavy cream. Beat until stiff peaks form.

To fill the Cream Puffs

Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag. Poke a small hole in the bottom or side of a puff, insert pastry tip and fill puff. You can also just cut the puff in half and spoon a generous amount of whipped cream into the middle. (The spoon technique is especially good when you run out of time preparing these for an event and realize you’ve forgotten to bring a pastry bag and tip).

Filled puffs can be refrigerated for a few hours. Upon serving they can be drizzled with a chocolate ganache or coated with a bit of confectioner’s sugar. (If you choose the sugar route, don’t do this in advance as the puff will absorb the sugar).


How can it be June already?

Been a little remiss in documenting on here. Doesn’t mean there’s no progress-just need to pick up the pace.

Have been moving the soil away from the east side of the building. Never really had a drainage issue there, but it was sloping toward the foundation and needed to be changed. Due to budget, we thought it would be a project a couple years down the road, but thanks to Turner Tree Service and the generous use of their Bobcat, it’s almost complete-thank you Turner Tree Service!

In the process-we found some cool things. Like…two old brick cisterns. So excited about these. Even though there are a million other things I should do-really going to try to dig around in them to see what we find even if it just means recovering some of the old brick. Another clue to the history!

You can’t really tell from the photo, but here’s one nonetheless:

  Hope to have some time to explore it.

Ambitious goals for the side. Have to get the doors in, finish the tuckpointing, get the windows in on the upstairs and finish the side yard (including the horseshoe pit) this summer. Progress needs to be made before fall.

Planted a late garden again-some standards-cucumbers, corn, beans. Most excited about the pumpkins and watermelons-fun things to share. The pumpkins must love the dirt, they’re already large.

Also planted artichokes. Never grown them before, but thistles do well in the worst of conditions so thought they were worth trying. They take two years to produce though. Patience.

Still have sidewalk trees to plant down the street in front of Kathy’s house. We promised so need to get on that.

Here’s the coolest thing we found while moving dirt.

This might be the most interesting thing we’ve found. Though I also loved the lead WWI soldier.

This is a taxi license from 1960! Have to research it. More later!

And…we’re back

Well, one of us has been working all along…and one of us hasn’t. At least not at 1651Portland.

Finally got the phone back to taking pics-yay! So this will be a long post. Really don’t see how people who blog regularly (unless it is for a living) keep up with it. But-have an iPad now so that helps.

First of all, the bunch of trees we bought last year at Grant Line Nursery made it through the winter! we planted a catalpa, birch, and elm last fall in front of the building and to the corner of 17th! And now…three more are in the ground. A black gum at the corner of the building and two serviceberries in front of Lots of Food! Still have some more to plant – but they’re promised to neighbors.

Planting was a group effort-lots of sledge-hammering. Thank you to all the neighbors who helped. Here are some pics before the third tree went in…this sidewalk is looking better! We will have a tree-lined street!


The black gum tree or sourgum is very interesting.  It is also called beetle bung and pepperidge-depending on the region. From Wikipedia:  Nyssa sylvatica’genus name (Nyssa) refers to a Greek water nymph;[1] the species epithetsylvatica refers to its woodland habitat.[1]. On Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, this species is called “beetlebung”, perhaps for its use in making the mallet known as a beetle, used for hammering bungs (stoppers) into barrels.[3]
We’d never seen one in a nursery (thank you-Grant Line). If it lives it will be a beautiful tree. It has fruit and flowers and is great for the birds and the bees. But, dang it, evidently some trees (not all) require a male and female tree.

The two trees in front of Lots of Food are serviceberries. They are also called Amelanchier-pretty word. Another interesting tree. Indians used the berries to flavor pemmican and the wood for arrow shafts and body armor(?)!  It is also a member of the rose family.

The remaining trees are hardy rubber trees, a beech (maybe two), and a linden tree. Can’t wait to plant them.

In the process of breaking out the tree wells, this little guy showed up. Not my favorite but they’re actually pretty small. Funny what things live under our sidewalks.  

Other projects-new siding on the exterior stairwell. We call it the ski jump-eventually we’ll remove it because it creates a problem with the flat roof. For now, we’ll keep it. Thank you to Ray for working with us (and by us-I mean Michael). Check out the sliding window from Habitat Restore. We’ll lime wash the brick this summer.   

The view. ūüôā


In the process of doing some yard clean-up we found the old stone curb on Nelligan Ave behind us. It is pretty degraded but we’re going to keep revealing it-makes the road wider.

Micheal just completed Metro’s Neighborhood Institute. For a few years now we’ve been pondering the absence of bus shelters or even benches in the neighborhood. It’s hard for people to stand around with no place to set their groceries or to wait for the bus holding a kid in the sun or rain with no shelters. There are a lot of TARC riders in Portland, so his group is working on a couple of bus shelters as their project. In researching Michael took this pic of a makeshift bus stop in the neighborhood-kind of love this photo.  A garbage can and a chair. 

Finally apropos of nothing but to give my brother some props-a pic of the most fabulous ribs ever from the pig my brother got for me for my birthday last year. Thanks, E! Best brother ever!  

Missing the sun

Missing the long days when it’s still light after business hours. The days are already getting longer and lighter though, so we’ll spend these darker days planning. I hate winter. Weather like this, I miss NOLA. Actually – lots of days make me miss NOLA. Cold makes me whiny – apologies.

Good things happening though. Business plans are coming together for the front and the back. We thought the front concrete block section would be the first to be productive, but now it may be the back. Hope to have a usable phone (and thus camera) by the weekend. Hate not being able to take photos.

Hope to get our quote for the front upstairs windows this week. Fred from Caldwell Sash came and measured last week. He does nice work. M and I argue all the time on what we have to compromise on – he won this one. Anxious to have these done. Nothing moves fast enough. And – at the same time – everything moves too fast.

Finally mulched the planting bed in the back. Moving old straw from our chicken house (now empty thanks to the predator that picked off our chickens at the rate of one a day) onto the garden bed this weekend, then will work it into the soil probably in March. It would be nice to have chickens at the building, but the soil is contaminated in many areas (lead) so probably not the best idea. They are relaxing to watch. Like a poultry aquarium.

Over the levee

This has nothing to do with the work on our building. But, it is about the neighborhood Р interesting to us nonetheless.

We’re a little late to the game in reading about things going on in Portland. But, picked up the August Louisville magazine the other day and read the article “The Portland Puzzle”. The last paragraph said, “‘You don’t go over the floodwall.'” ¬†I don’t doubt that’s good¬†advice, but it made me laugh a little. Twice last summer we were near that spot¬†(32nd and Rudd). The first time we were on the right side of the floodwall. The second time – we went over.¬†Both times were memorable.

The first time, ¬†we were looking at a building at 32nd and Rudd – where the cobblestone street ends at the levee and Rudd dead-ends. (Very cool building – it used to be a saloon). The beams supporting the floor (or maybe they’re called joists) are huge and spaced a little more closely than typical. We were wondering if that’s because the place housed kegs/barrels. Anyway – very cool.

It is¬†afternoon, warm, and late spring. We’re standing there counting the number of boarded up windows – there are kids walking on the bike path and riding a dirt-bike up and down that stretch of path. The bike path is closed there, but it’s green space and car-free so it attracts kids. School was still in session. The girls are¬†walking together and skinny, shirtless¬†boys are¬†on bikes and dirt bikes. They are all¬†chatting, etc.

We aren’t paying attention¬†to them until we hear yelling. We look up. We think¬†maybe there is¬†a fight so we watch for a second. But, the kids are all gathered in a circle looking down at something and it soon is apparent there’s a kid on the ground. So we run¬†up the levee to see if everyone is¬†okay.

One¬†of the boys on a dirt bike collided head-on with one of the girls walking. She is¬†flat on her back and kind of quietly moaning on the grass next to the bike path. The kids are all looking at¬†her, but not touching her. Just looking at her. She is¬†there with her brother who is¬†a little older and obviously feels responsible for her because he is¬†pacing back and forth wailing, “It’s all my fault.” The older boy, probably 13 or 14¬†on the dirt bike just keeps¬†saying, “I’m sorry. I told her to move. I’m sorry.” We question him to see how they collided and it seems neither could decide on a lane. They each feinted in different directions. And¬†he drove¬†straight over her.¬†They’re scared and have¬†no idea what to do. We don’t either, really.

Her side and forearms are¬†completely scraped and covered in black from the asphalt. She isn’t¬†speaking words or answering questions. Just moaning. We don’t know if she might have internal injuries or a head wound. She’s not talking or opening her eyes so we can’t tell how seriously she is injured.¬†We elevate her feet and cover her (all we can¬†remember from ancient first-aid classes). We debate a split-second because calling 911 would mean the parents will¬†be billed for the services.

The police arrive first, then her dad. Her brother has run home to get him. He’s kind of a big guy, he climbs the hill fast. He starts yelling at the boys on the dirt bikes, “I told you all not to be riding those things up here”. The boys look a little terrified and keep mumbling apologies. Then the fire department arrives, then the¬†mom. It seems like maybe she lives in a different place from the dad. When she arrives, he tries¬†to keep her from being hysterical and out of¬†the way of the EMTs. He’s obviously worried. He seems worried, but not¬†too thrilled with all the police, fire and medical personnel. It starts to feel a little dramatic. We¬†slip back down the levee as¬†they are¬†putting her on a stretcher.

The second time – we’re thinking someone was running from the cops. It felt¬†a little like something from a television crime show. I’ll have to finish this later.

Hap-py New Year!

2015 is going to be great. I just know.

Months ago our neighbor down the street came over in the middle of the night and made a rustic bench from the stumps we had in front of the window. He used to make rustic furniture and sell it in front of his house – the one on the corner with the antlers over the door. He’s a hoot and a good neighbor. I promised I’d post a picture of it….here it is festooned with greenery (also provided by another good neighbor).

A couple of these would be great at the 22nd & Portland bus stop. Anything would be an improvement over nothing Рreally. There is always someone waiting for a bus there and nowhere to sit, or place grocery bags, or kids.


Geno's Bench


With the really cold weather, we’ll be focusing on the inside for a bit. Planning a bigger garden and flower bed for the back. Hoping to put in a couple of fig trees. Our neighbor behind us has a tree service and gives me free mulch – very convenient. Thank you, Turner Tree Service.¬†Still have some trees to plant,¬†but need to rent a gas saw on a nice day. We’ll get to that when it warms up a bit.

At any rate – really psyched for a good year. Anxious to get the Italianate windows in the front – that’s a next step and coming soon.

So – happy new year – here’s to it!

Better late than never….

Don’t really believe that, but September and October are “lost months”. Too busy to feel they were productive even though they were.

Lots of tuckpointing – nearly to the bottom of the windows on the….side. East side? Yes. The sunrise side. Got some of the roofing tar and asphalt off using the heat gun. Have to get all of it off before tuck pointing underneath.¬†Tough to find a day to do that with all the rain. Electrocution wouldn’t be my first choice.

Also took out the messed up brick that closed up the original height of the doors – well, not just the doors – that brickwork probably closed up a transom window area. We’ll put transoms back in. Still can’t quite figure out the original architecture of this building. There’s an interior window that looks like it was originally an exterior, but the brickwork looks a little seamless – so it’s tough to tell. Seems like that would be easy to figure out, but it’s not. Very strange.

New gutterboards are up – finally. No pics of that either. Temperamental iphone camera is messing with my photography. Bought gutters – galvanized, yay – from Corken. 6-inch, half-round. So cool. Probably will use PVC downspouts. Metal would just be too tempting. Love the fluted galvanized downspouts though. House jewelry – ha.

corrugated downspout

Should have the gutters up by Wednesday this week. Have to drain the water tanks in the back also before they freeze.

Now that it’s cold, work will move inside for a bit. Still have some trees to plant. Hope they’re still alive. It took forever to get the “call before you dig” to respond and then the window of opportunity for free time for planting disappeared.

Going into the cellar today. Hoping the cold has killed off some spiders and slowed down any snakes that might be down there. Have only been in it once. Creepy. It’s pretty¬†neat – you can stand up in it – it’s full height. Can’t wait to clean it out and lime wash it. But, not looking forward to this at all.

Here’s some stuff we found. A broken pottery jug. Teeth – I think horse teeth? What else has teeth this big besides cattle?

little brown jug horse teeth

And this dog. Who sat in the truck for about three hours one day while we worked, because she likes to ride. Bless her. She’s such a joy and a wild thing.

Sally in Truck


Tucking and Pointing

Tuck. Point. Tuck. Point. Sounds like ballet. Here it is – progress!

middle wall left side

Maybe three more days and we’ll be finished with this side! Then we may – or may not – limeewash it.

pavers 2 bricks

And free brick pavers from a friend! Nearly 1,200 – perfect for….we’re not sure yet – but we’ll use them. No way we won’t after loading them and unloading them. Sore for days. A common brick weighs about 4 lbs – so I’m guessing these weighed about 4,800 lbs. Moved twice, that is 9,600 lbs. That’s over 4 tons. Good exercise! (The pic is just the first load)

front tuckpointing

We also tuckpointed the separating area in the front. Still need to paint it.


We’ve removed the bricks that were stuck in the original doorways. There were transom windows over the top – with an arch. The doorways were originally 8 ft tall – and were bricked up to accommodate standard doors. It just so happens we purchased some really great, heavy solid doors at the Restore several months ago for something else – something we decided not to do. And, they fit! As soon as the tuckpointing around the doorways is finished, M will build the frames and we will have doors! Big, tall doors! (I know. Excessive use of exclamation points.)


Moving upstairs. This is our new view looking northwest from the stairwell. Not loving it, but guess it will be better when it’s finished. We had purchased a very large window to replace the “door to nowhere” that’s there now – but we’ll have to do something different.

wood floors

And – also upstairs. Pulled up the plywood flooring in the front room. And, behold! Not terrible floors – there are a few soft spots that need replacing, but not that many. This makes me happy.

This does too – a monarch butterfly flitting around the Mexican sunflowers. I will plant these the rest of my life. I love them.


3 Trees

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. But, when is it not?

Those logs we had out front are now a bench – a rustic bench. Built by our talented neighbor down the street. He snuck over in the middle of the night and made them into a bench. Very cool. And, very kind. I will have to post a picture later – or give the bench its own post. It’s been too dark when I leave to get a good photo. You won’t find it on the internet, but several years ago his rustic furniture was written up¬†in the C-J.¬†I hope he makes more.

My favorite thing this week is the fact that we got three trees in the ground. That doesn’t sound like that much, but considering the the city paved over the tree wells a couple of years ago so we had to sledgehammer them out makes me pretty proud of planting three. It was incredibly hot. I think the two of us went through 24 bottles of water.

Now we have the little old crabapple. It has been the only tree on the block for a really long time. It has been so badly trimmed over the years, it looks like a bonsai. We planted an elm, a birch, and a catalpa. We evened out the soil and put in a brick edging. So far, so good!

tree wells in progress 2 finished tree wells

Also got our lime putty mixed and cured. Ready for more tuckpointing – if the rain and weird lightening storms will hold off for a while. Yesterday a friend offered up 1000 free bricks! Picked up and unloaded the first truckload today. Excited to have them! We bought some previously from the guy who has been demolishing the old tobacco warehouse for years. Bill is his name – I can’t remember his last name. He tore down the building several years ago and sells the materials. It was a huge project and he’s been working on it for years. Sadly, I saw that the property is being sold at the next commissioner’s sale. All that work and time he invested. It was just such a huge project.

Lime putty looks like a big blob of mashed potatoes.

lime putty

And, how about this cool thing – a repair station for bikes. Saw this over in Jeffersonville. We don’t get out much, so maybe these are everywhere – but I had never seen one before. I want one in front of our building. There were tons of cyclists going by on Saturday.

repair station

Found some critters the other day. These caterpillars are creepy looking. The eye spots are actually not on the end where there heads are….


I think it’s a sphinx moth caterpillar. We kept seeing something fluttering around at night at the Mexican sunflowers. It looked like a hummingbird the way it flew – but now I think it is this thing. It’s a night pollinator.

And then there’s this….the discarded skin of one of my least favorites. Snakes. Yeah – it’s small. But, the fact that this exists means it grew¬†or is growing. I saw¬†a little one when I was moving bricks the other day. There is a little kind of snake that is specific to vacant, urban areas. But, I don’t know what it is called and they are only about five inches long and live underground most of the year. I don’t think this skin belongs to one of those.

I still haven’t gone in the cellar. Can’t put it off much longer. We have to hook up water.

snake peeling

Growing season is just about over in our little weedy garden patch. We have a ton of Delicata squash. They are awesome.  Was so thrilled that the brussel (one L or two?) were doing well. These pics were taken about two days apart. I should have dusted them with diatomaceous earth. Now we have brussell sprout lace.

brussell sproutsbrussel sprout lace

The tomatillos are doing well, but still not ready for picking. And, the cantaloupes….

Learned something very important this weekend. Apparently, cantaloupes are way more fun to play with than the Kong dog toy. Sally loves them and picked three off the plants. She played with them like they were toys and then ate them. Guess¬†we won’t be having any cantaloupes.

cantaloupe thief

Hike, Bike and Paddle is tomorrow. Sounds like fun. But, all the streets will be closed. Last year the police yelled at us when we tried to get to the building through the Niemco parking lot and Nelligan¬†even though Nelligan wasn’t closed. I can’t remember how we finally got there. They’ll probably yell at us again tomorrow. We’ll see.

That is all.

Growing and planting

Very busy couple of weeks. Doing what exactly? I’m not sure. Some weeks are just like that. Although we did fill the dumpster – sadly (but secretly slightly relieved because I am procrastinating due to the unpleasantness) we didn’t get to the cellar – or at least not finished. There was a ton of garbage still to remove and it took up more space than I anticipated. But! With the exception of all the old drywall and refuse in the cellar – we have now removed all the garbage.

The gardening is coming along in spite of neglect and a massive amount of grass, weeds, beetles and some other insect that likes to eat leaves into lace.

Pretty thrilled about¬†a few things. Grant Line Nursery was running a 75% off sale on trees. We bought 10 and will be planting them everywhere on our block. Really excited about this. Can’t wait to put some in and share with the neighbors.

Speaking of neighbors – so very grateful to have good ones. This week alone we’ve received pie, building supplies someone had left over, an offer to help with installing our windows from our neighbor with a bucket truck – and other generous gifts of assistance, support and encouragement. Just really grateful. And touched.

Thank goodness for the rain. Take a look at these – full water cubes! That’s a beautiful sight. These are Amanda’s for watering her garden next door.


We¬†haven’t watered anything. But, here’s how everything is growing. Never grown any of these things before. The soil was poor so selected seeds based on that. Thought cantaloupes might grow because when I was a kid, a Mennonite community bought property nearby that was considered terrible and not very productive. They farmed cantaloupes very successfully and sold them to all the groceries in the region. Here’s the first of ours – hoping for about 8 from the few we planted.


Then there’s the Delicata squash. I read these are easy to grow. And, they are. They don’t store or ship well, apparently, so they’re not a familiar squash. They’re very tasty – with a texture similar to but less grainy than a sweet potato (and not sweet). I hate sweet potatoes – but love this squash!

delicata squash

The vine is HUGE! These photos (of the right and left sides of the plant) don’t convey the amount of space the vines travel. There are lots of small squash on it right now. They are supposed to be cared for by placing something under them to help discourage rot – need to get that done.

Left side of the vine.delicata 2

Also growing green beans. Made the mistake of planting the beans behind the Mexican¬†sunflower thinking the beans would¬†outpace the flower, but they didn’t.¬†Now they have too much shade and aren’t really producing. Maybe next year.

green beans

And, tomatillos – also a new one.


They are full of blooms, but am a little concerned they’re not being pollinated because there aren’t as many tomatillo starts as might be expected. Meeting tomorrow with Amanda from Lots of Food and a beekeeper. Would like to keep a hive on one of our roofs

Tomatillos look like what we used to call a jimson weed – which I’d always thought was poisonous. So, I looked it up. Seems they’re related (and jimson weed is poisonous). Here’s the scoop on jimson weed:¬† “Traditionally used as a folk cancer remedy, also for asthma, rheumatism, Parkinson’s disease, as well as an antispasmodic, hypnotic, and narcotic. A powerful drug that should never be used without supervision. Overdoses are easy and always fatal. Handling seeds may cause eyelids to swell.”

And, there’s this funny entry from Wikipedia:

In the United States the plant is called jimson weed, or more rarely Jamestown weed; it got this name from the town of Jamestown, Virginia, where British soldiers consumed it while attempting to suppress Bacon’s Rebellion. They spent eleven days in altered mental states:

The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the plant so call’d) is supposed to be one of the greatest coolers in the world. This being an early plant, was gather’d very young for a boil’d salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon (1676); and some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows [grimaces] at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves ‚ÄĒ though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed.

‚Äď The History and Present State of Virginia, 1705[32]

Love that, “they turned natural fools”…wonder who ever decided tomatillos – which do look similar – would be a good thing to eat!

Finally – over the last week or so – we broke out one of the many areas of concrete that were causing drainage issues. Haven’t really found anything interesting in the dirt underneath – except the front end of this LTD Hot Wheel. Pretty cool. In 1976 my dad bought a new LTD – yellow with a brown top (sounds pretty ugly – but in ’76 it was probably pretty great). I think it’s a sign, ha. Except shortly after purchasing, that car sustained serious damage in a tornado!


The concrete pad we broke out went right up to the exterior brick walls of the building. So, it was a real surprise this weekend when I went back there and noticed there was a marigold blooming there. Don’t know how the seed got there.


Michael called it the flor de muerto because of how they’re used in Day of the Dead¬†traditions. I googled it and found this really interesting site called¬†Their gallery is very good – especially the photos of ants carrying flowers. But then, I really like ants.

That is all.