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Blooming wonderful!

So, okay.

Tomorrow, we look at scans of a jacket, and some pics of women in blackworked coifs - by request.  

Today, I itch.  We spent the weekend at the farm, picking up the things we needed for Pennsic.  I also took the opportunity to check on the vulture - he/she is fledged, and gone, leaving nothing but a memory. 

A pungent, eye-watering memory.  Those little beasties really stink, I tell you.

I managed to get a few - as in five pounds or so - blackberries.  They are pretty much the last of the crop, and I am a bit sorry we missed their peak, since they were prolific this year (even though I still have a jar of the 2004 jam.  It's still really good).  The fruit looked like illustrations from a particularly romantic 19th century botany book - lush clusters of fruit entwined in honeysuckle vines, in shades of red and black.  Yummy.  I will make syrup from this lot, I think.

Less yummy (for me, at least) was the plethora of mosquitos - I slathered on insect repellent, but I am apparently too luscious to resist, and I have a dense pattern of red bumps all over my arms (like connect-the-dots for people who really need lots of help).  I even have a couple of bites on my face - and I never get bitten on my face.  They bit me through my clothes, the fuckers.  I don't know how, but they managed it.

Still, I have incredibly nice blackberries in the freezer at the farm, waiting to be boiled and strained.  I can use the syrup as a drink mix, on pancakes, in tarts (add a little pectin, and bake in shortbread cookies), and I can eat it straight with a spoon.

...You know, blackcurrant syrup mixed with a little hot water and a little whiskey is a good cough soother - I have no reason to think blackberry syrup will be any different.  Mind you, I'm not a whiskey drinker, but I'm sure vodka is just as good.  

Especially chilled, over ice.  With a couple of tablespoons of syrup.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

In addition to blackberries, I've been collecting wildflower seeds as they ripen - I have Black-Eyed Susan, Mallow, and Poppy seeds.  I plan to put together a wildflower meadow eventually.  The wildflowers have been taking advantage of the disturbed earth around the house, and are all over the place.  I also have wild Morning Glories everywhere - I need to put up the trellis I have there and train them up it.

And my nasturtiums finally came up properly and bloomed.  I'll be keeping an eye on them for the seeds.  I love nasturtiums in salad.

If you'll excuse me now, I must scratch madly at my arms.  More tomorrow.



( 25 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Jul. 29th, 2008 11:55 am (UTC)
blackberry jam...oh, drooooool.

My mom used to make phenomenal blackberry jam. One year she combined blackberries with pears off a tree in the side yard, and that was perhaps the best jam ever made.
Jul. 29th, 2008 12:11 pm (UTC)
My blackberries are doing well this year too, though I think some birds have discovered them, judging from the partially "squished" look some of them have. I'll being making preserves again this year (people at work are already asking me about it) ala your tips on how to do it from a year or two ago...
Jul. 29th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
Which itch?
Tearlach and I got bitten to death at the Festival of Birds. The bites mostly showed up after we left, so we wondered if whatever bit us did so as we were packing out. We stopped at a drug store on the way home and got several topical remedies and Benedryl (which I recommend, by the way, for the itch).

What seemed to do me the most good was clear nail polish applied directly to the bites.

Catherine, for some reason, escaped the worst of it. I know that some biting insects prefer males for some reason. We really don't know what it was that bit us, (pretty sure they were not mosquitos) but they definitely left their mark. The remnants of those marks are still there
Jul. 29th, 2008 01:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Which itch?
I am allergic (but not as bad as some) to mosquitos, ticks, and biting gnats - I get bites that stay red and angry and itchy for a long time, sometimes months. Benadryl does next to nothing, but BenGay sometimes works (topical analgesic numbs the nerves).

I can get a welt from a tick even if it's just sitting on me, and hasn't bitten. Apparently, they drool.
Jul. 29th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Which itch?
Me too! I refer to insect repellent as "sauce" because it doesn't slow the bugs down a bit for me. I never thought to try the BenGay. I will buy some on the way home! Thanks!
Jul. 29th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Which itch?
Wow, yours is an unenviable situation, especially for one who enjoys the outdoors.

Mosquito bites don't last on me. They itch for half an hour or so, then my body soaks 'em up. That's why I'm pretty sure what got us at Storvik weren't mosquitos. Catherine speculated that they might've been chiggers because most of the bites were on our lower legs, but no evidence of little red critters.
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Which itch?
combined with clear nail polish making a difference in healing, chiggers seems very believable.
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Which itch?
Tiger's Balm also works well for de-itching the bites.
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
A possible aid . . .
There are those who report that Avon's Skin-So-Soft acts as a repellant. Never tried it myself, but at the worst it can do no harm

Tearlach appears to have the body chemistry that negates the effect of repellants. They do him almost no good, and they also irritate his skin. Poor lad.
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:08 pm (UTC)
Re: A possible aid . . .
When I was younger, and living in more mosquito-prone areas, my whole family swore by Skin-So-Soft.

I seem to remember it working well.
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
Re: A possible aid . . .
The smell of it induces migraines for me, like the smell of many Avon products. No go, I'm afraid. I try to use pure Deet, but I was out of it, and used the Burt's Bees natural stuff instead (which sometimes works, but these mosquitos were hungry and undeterred).
Jul. 29th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
Re: A possible aid . . .
yeah, I'm with you on the mosquitoes and bites...though the topical benedryl generic I bought at target seems to help the itch for a few hours...or you can slather on aveeno lotion (calming oatmeal) or take and oatmeal bath. All of which I've done. I got bit up in the shop on sunday through my deep woods off and one on my ankle is still giving me problems.

Hopefully they, the bites, don't annoy you too much at pennsic.
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
Re: A possible aid . . .

Someone mentioned to me that Avon took out the ingedien that made SSO such a good bug repellent, and are marketing thier own bug repellent..

Jul. 29th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
When I was going to camp every summer in the mid '60's, I had a bottle of Avon Insect Repellent. It smelled exactly like their Skin-so-Soft. I've since asked several distributors about it but none of them are old enough to remember it! When the boys were little, I would use SSS on them and myself. It seemed safer than the commercial repellents to use on children.
Jul. 29th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
Avon Skin-so-soft
This worked for me. I used it to keep ants out of my back porch too. I wiped it where their trail had been.
Jul. 29th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Nasturtiums ARE awesome in salad, leaves and flowers. A bit peppery. And supposedly the dried seeds make a respectable mustard replacement.

And now I want to make my ubersalat....
Jul. 29th, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
someone told me they don't like bananas. Apparently the potassium does something evil to their systems.

Of course that means you have to eat the bananas at least a few hours before "sketer time" so prior planning is required. Or daily dosing.
Jul. 29th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
skeeters and potassium!
now, this is really interesting info....

I have always been serious mosquito bait. And it turns out I also have had the symptoms of low potassium and low thyroid all my life (tend to go together, cause yer thyroid needs lots of potassium to function).

I was around some mosquitoes the other night and not a bite. There weren't many, cause they just don't live around here much, but still, if I saw one, I used to have a few bites guaranteed.

I also had been taking extra herbs for my thyroid -- I up them when I have to be social much, cause I get this special flavor of exhaustion with that kind of energy expenditure. Lots of potassium in the herbs -- this is seriously something to look in to!

Thanks so much for mentioning it!
Jul. 30th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
Same with pineapple and blackfly - if you eat a bit each day for about a week before going into an infested area, they leave you alone. :)
Jul. 29th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
Aspercream! That's the stuff I keep in my sack for bug bits of all kinds.


Jul. 29th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
My dad swears by garlic tablets for keeping skeeters away. I use Shaklee Basic H soap concentrate, smeared liberally on my skin, and it works well on the Asian tiger mosquitoes infesting my 'hood.
Jul. 29th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
Your fond account of the blackberries reminded me of all the mulberry trees that were on the old farm. We knew they were ripe when we saw the dark stains on the muzzles of the horses, who couldn't resist them either. Made a wonderful desert wine one year but my mother kept insisting on dehydrating them and putting them in her granola mix. Almost turned me off granola completely because dehydrated mulberries look like rat turds :).

Bitting incescts seem to think I'm a blue plate special too. Skip the Benadryl and go right to the hydrocortisone cream, that's all the really works for me anymore.

Can't wait for coif pics :).
Jul. 29th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
Catnip is an incredible mosquito repellent. ;) Fresh catnip grows like mad if there isn't a cat there to constantly eat it down to a stub (and even then still seems to thrive!) and crumpling up a few leaves and rubbing the result on my neck and arms keeps the black flies and mosquitoes off me while I'm on the tractor (which is generally a moving buffet for biting insects). The down side is that when I get inside I have to shower right away or the cats are ALL OVER ME, but I'm generally gritty enough anyhow that I want one. ;) The smell is fairly faint and smells mostly like... uh, plant.

Mmm, blackberries. I wish they grew out here. We get raspberries and strawberries, but no blackberries.

(And what's wrong with playing connect-the-dots with bug bites or freckles? I mean really...)
Jul. 30th, 2008 12:50 pm (UTC)
Muahahaha! Cat bait!

I love catmint/nip, and plan to grow it (and I'll probably get mountain lions in my yard, rolling in it), so that's extremely useful to know! :)
Aug. 1st, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
I was just checking my garden because I am growing flax to process for linen this fall and the blackberries are still little green nubs but my golden raspberries are ripe. I am in the Pacific Northwest so for us blackberry season is late August. I love fresh blackberry jam but I strain out the seeds before jamming because the seeds are so huge.
( 25 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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