Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hail to the lowly cucumber

My garden has produced an embarrassment of cucumbers this year. Friends and family have been inundated with my cucumbers for almost a month now.

One friend, a recipient of my cucumber largesse, said he gained a new appreciation for cukes after reading on the internet about them.

Here, then, are a dozen reasons to appreciate cucumbers:

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day. Just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, folic acid, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon? Put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers can provide that quick pick-me-up that lasts for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive away garden pests.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes. The phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite.

6. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers were used for centuries by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

Have an important meeting and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe. Its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

8. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

Stressed out and don't have time for a massage or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water. The chemicals and nutrients will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress.

10. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath.

11. Looking for a green way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean. Not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks.

12. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the ink. Also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls.

So, no dissing of cucumbers around here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An eye-opening encounter

All forms of wildlife are abundant in Deerfield, but an animal we have not seen much of, thank goodness, is the skunk.

I was walking Willie shortly after daybreak this morning when he pulled at his leash and stood on his back legs. I turned to see a skunk at the base of a tree about eight feet away. With 75-pound Willie trying to attack, the skunk did an amazing thing. He started coming straight at us.

Willie was straining at collar and wanting more, and I was wanting much less. I finally managed to turn Willie around into a retreat. Only then did the skunk amble back into the woods.

A little research on the Internet informed me that Mephitis mephitis will often make a frontal attack against a dog to lure it forward, and then turn tail and spray it. Willie would be a prime candidate for such a bait-and-switch attack. He always jumps first and asks questions later.

My theory is that the strong storms and rain we had during the night pushed our striped-friend into unfamiliar territory. I'm glad Willie didn't get showered. His aroma is strong enough without any outside contributions.

After I got Willie back in the house, I began sawing up the fairly large trees that had fallen across the driveway during the storm. I could tell about the long black snake's tail I saw slithering out of the barn when I opened it to get the chainsaw, but I have a feeling I will be seeing it another day and that's another story.

Monday, July 12, 2010

This is how we do bathroom additions in Deerfield

In last Wednesday's blog, I noted that a crew was coming to start a major construction project involving the built-in gutters along the back of our house. I predicted that the start of the project would end the drought. We've not had a measurable rain in more than a month.

The crew arrived at 7:30 a.m. The deluge started at 7:35 a.m., so everything is right on schedule.

As you can see from the photo, the crew brought their portable potty with them and stationed it next to the garage. The flowers at the side are my decorator's touch. Like the green color palette?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The sunflower also rises

About a week ago I had sunflower stalks measuring almost 10-feet high -- but no sunflowers. I was beginning to think I had planted some type of infertile seed.

Almost over night the sunflower heads began to pop out. The honey bees must have been anxiously awaiting the flowers. The swarm over the flowers all day.

We hope to dry the heads and use the seeds to feed birds this winter.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scorched earth

Deerfield has not had a measurable rain in more than 30 days. The ground is cracking beneath our feet like in some big-budget disaster movie.

I tried to keep the vegetable garden going, but when the first water bill showed a 400% increase over the average, I shut off the spigot. I'll keep the tomatoes watered, but that's it.

I know, however, that it will start raining on Monday morning. That's when the construction crew comes in to fix our built-in gutters on the back porch. They are scheduled to be here all week, so I'm sure that's how long it will rain. I may try to wash my car Monday just to make sure we get the rain.