Saturday, April 26, 2008


Remember the Earth day pictures of my ruddy little determined peonies? Well, the next day was another of those days we dream of all winter: low '70s, gentle breeze, sunshine so warm you can feel the Vitamin D being sucked into your skin. On such a day, early in the morning, the peonies have a conversation. Goes something like this:

Peony One: OK, it's time. We can all see over the dead leaves; the Woman has pulled away all the dead effluvia from last year; our wire frame is in position. Everyone ready?

Other Peonies: YEAH! (mumbling is heard: "how come HE gets to decide?" "I thought it was MY turn this year" "Wait, I didn't hear what he said..." "Shut up back there, he said it's TIME" "Oh")

All together: GROWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

I am not making this up, that's one day's growth. Because of some rearrangement of branches, I think there'll be enough sun on these guys this year that they'll manage more than the usual 2-3 blossoms. I didn't know, when I planted these guys, that peonies need a great deal of sunshine to make flowers. My neighbors all have peonies that bloom so hard it wears them out and they droop over.

The forecast for today is for rain, which is NOT a bad thing. I suspect that everything else will show progress too. The trillium already have buds (I counted seven!) and there are thin spikes all around them which will be lilies-of-the-valley. There's a small area at the back of my yard that is my pride and joy: besides the trillium there's a columbine, a slowly-growing population of jacks-in-the-pulpits (are they not the dearest things?) and all the LOTV. There is a short period of time, and I WILL get pictures, when the myriad violets are in bloom, the "white silver bells upon their slender stalks" are abundant, and those wonderful wild plants are standing proud. I really cherish that little area.

There are also these delicate, beautiful little guys, who grow into ferns. Not a lot of them, just enough to add a real "woodlands" feel to the scene. I have the Overactive Imagination required of historic reenactors, (and, I suspect, writers of children's stories) and that little plot is a perfect habitation for the faeries that I know live in the little toad house back there. I'll try to post pictures of them; sometimes in the dusk when the fireflies are out, the faeries emerge to dance, tend the flowers and do a little gardening of their own.......

I'm counting down. It's still Passover, you see. In keeping with tradition, I made what you see here: a lovely noodle kugel , my mother's recipe. *Dale-Harriet, 'scuse me, but we in the back here don't know what a noodle kugel is.* Why, I'm so very glad you asked! Noodle kugel is a milchig dish, meaning "dairy". It has noodles (I bet you guessed that); it also has cottage cheese, eggs (for binding), raisins, cinnamon and almonds. It's good hot, it's good cold. It's good room temperature. It's good with a little sour cream on. It's good with a glass of milk. If you're having it with tea you can have real cream.

My other "speciality" is Genuine Jewish Mother's Top-o'-the-Line Home-Made Chicken Soup with My Superior Matzoh Balls. Legendary. The very soup Lovely Daughter begs for when she's Coming Down With something. That, of course, is fleishig . I also have a HUGE appreciation for cold boiled chicken, a happy side product of the soup. Of course, with THAT meal, you need to have non-dairy cream, and the only one I've found is Rich's, which does, as a matter of fact, really taste like genuine cream. In spite of separating meat and milk, and having only matzoh, I eat plenty fine during Passover.

By the way, there is a very efficient and complete History of the Jewish People: "They tried to kill us. They failed. Let's eat!"

SHORT RANT: Time was, you could find non-dairy margarine; I think Fleischmann's had one, and there were a couple of other kinds too. Same also with "non-dairy creamer". If you look at "pure vegetable margarine", for example, and you read all that tee-tiny wordage on the back or the bottom, you almost invariably find "WHEY" listed. Remember "whey"? Remember Little Miss Arachnophobe? Guess what, whey is another word for MILK SOLIDS. This year I finally found something; I'm not remembering the name (and it doesn't say on the clever little "individual 8 oz. cups") but it's something heart-healthy. Never saw it before, but to its credit, it does taste all right on matzoh. (Keep in mind, if you run out of matzoh you can cut the box into pieces and eat it with very little notice that it's not the genuine article.) END OF RANT

All of this is fine. Passover ends tomorrow at sundown. Here's another family tradition: after sundown, at the end of Passover, we go out to eat. The family tradition is to try to break every single dietary law...on ONE PLATE! Of course, we're pretty much good at it now. The popular choices usually include pepperoni and sausage pizza or bacon double cheeseburger. You have your meat AND your milk (and pork products) not to mention regular bread. Of course, in order to REALLY break them all there would have to be a shrimp cocktail in there, or an order of mussels or something. But you know, just sayin'.

I'm writing from my son's house - where I'm babysitting for possibly the smartest, cutest most trying , sweetest, most adorable paschkudniks you've ever seen. The smarts they got from Grandma Dale. The rest is direct genetics from their Papa (except a lot of the "cute" and "sweet", which is from their Maman).


Kitty Mommy said...

Lily of the Valley is one of my favorite flowers! They smell so lovely and always remind me of my grandma (who had them behind her house)...

Nora said...

I chuckled my way through this post... I'm trying to think what I'd have on my law-breaking plate... how about pork liver and shrimp wrapped in bacon with a buttered baguette? And a beer? (That selection has the advantage of being alliterative, as well as quite tasty.) You of course also know the "real" origins of the phrase "let my people go," right? It was all about matzoh...