Monday, March 25, 2013

Favorite Pets Part Two--Fish! By Evelyn Taylor

     To paraphrase a saying:  “what is one man’s pet, is another man’s poison.”  Some would have no other than a dog or cat as a pet. Our family has had our share of those, but goldfish have played a very important part in the “stories” of our family.

     When our two boys were little, each had a goldfish, sharing the same bowl.  Of course, they were duly named and recognized by the owner.  One day Mitch’s fish died!  Soon afterwards, we noticed a long line of black streaming out of the gills of Lance’s fish.  Expecting it to die also, we rushed it out to our large pond in the back of our property, where it was promptly swallowed up by the vastness of the pond. Two years later we were amazed to see this large goldfish swimming out there.  We did not realize that the size of goldfish depended on their environment!

      It was not until as adults, when we were recalling this event that Mitch admitted that he had been very angry that his fish had died and not Lance’s, so he had sprinkled black pepper into the bowl---thus, the gasping fish!

     Later on, at the same house, we made a small goldfish pond close to the house, rimmed with limestone rocks and flowers.  However, we were plagued by the build-up of algae, which turned the water green so that the fish could not be seen.  Bryant bought a box of algae-killer and carefully read the directions.  He decided on his own that if a little of the powder would be good, a little more would be better.  One half hour after the application, he went out to check, and most of the fish were “belly-up.”  He yelled for help, and we all frantically scooped out fish and put them into pails of fresh water.   This was all to no avail. We had to start over from scratch.

     The lesson learned was not only to read directions, but FOLLOW THEM!

     On Exchange Street we also had a small goldfish pool.  We stocked it with Japanese Koi and four special ones that swim near the surface of the water, so they are more visible. When winter approached, it was time to bring in the fish. They were put in a 50-gallon oil drum in the basement near the sump pump hole.  Bryant fed them each morning and noticed one day that the surface-swimming fish were missing.  They were jumpers (a fact we did not know) and had jumped out of the drum, but they were not dead on the floor.  No, they had landed in a narrow trench around the perimeter of the cellar, heading for the sump pump and the “great beyond!”

     In this same pool, the fish bred, and the little ones hid in the vegetation.  When it came time to take them in, the pool had to be drained in order to get them all.  We had a 25-foot-long garden hose siphoning the water out.  As Bryant stood at the end of it, along came a little goldfish.  What a traumatic first trip that must have been for him!

Monday, March 18, 2013

“Reap What You Sow” By Aunt CB Kinsella

Ethel and Lloyd Taylor

This story begins long before I was born. Ethel, having taught in the country school where she grew up and also in a distant town (Oakfield) school, wanted to now travel and “see the world!” Her aunt and uncle lived in Scranton, Pa, and she’d been there. Uncle Frank was a conductor on the railroad and his “turn around” trip was in Newark, N. J. and he would know people she could trust there, so she applied for a job and was accepted. She began work Sept. 3, 1913 in Orange, N.J. ($650 per year--another factor in her choice—her boyfriend, Lloyd Taylor, was to attend telegraphy school in Albany in the fall).

While teaching there she again attended several churches before she chose the Methodist Episcopal church and also joined the Young People’s League on Sunday night, where I think she met her good friend, Adelia Guernsey. “Dede” was a secretary in an insurance office and over the two years she taught in N. J., they became close friends. She often had Sunday dinner with Dede, her sister Lily, and their mother their apartment.

Aunt Dede, 1929

Time moved on, Ethel and Lloyd married, had a family (six children) and when the days I’m going to speak of came about they lived in Geneva, N.Y. It was the height of the depression and while Lloyd had a job, in the late 1920's he had to go into bankruptcy and lost his farm. Now he worked as a seed analyst at the Experimental Station and the children, age 3-15 were all growing!

Harold, Doris, Lucille

We had as much as everyone we knew, and it never occurred to us that we were poor. The girl next door always wore clothing of the latest style and bought lots of magazines but she shared and we got her cast off clothes and we all played together. She was one and we were six, so we understood when she got loads of Christmas gifts. Besides, we were lucky, we had our “Aunt Dede!”

Every year, from mid December on, we waited breathlessly for the UPS man. She always sent a large package with a gift each for all six of us. We didn’t have to know her to love her, nor did we wonder how she knew what to give each of us (we were not privy to their correspondence!) Thus she was our “Santa Claus,” the one who made our Christmas tree worthwhile. So I loved my “Betsy-Wetsy” doll the year she came, and proudly wore my Girl Scout belt with a whistle attached over my cast off uniform from a cousin! It was never a chore to write our “thank you’s.”

Each year we agonized as the days came closer to December 25th with no package. In all the years that I remember, it only once came late--the next day--and that was a sad one, but it was usually a squeaker, arriving in the afternoon of the 24th! But as I said, time moved on and we grew up. When the packages stopped coming I don’t know but I do know that when I was in Nurse’s training and found myself in Poughkeepsie for a 3 month’s psychiatric assignment, I took the three days I had free at the end, hopped on a bus and went to E. Orange N. J. Aunt “Dede” and Lily met me and I stayed with them, enjoying their hospitality. Now their mother was gone but I thanked them, telling them all they had meant to us over the years, acknowledging their work in purchasing, wrapping and mailing those many packages. All this in the days of no scotch tape and tie the boxes well with string! They did admit it was difficult for them to find the time, thus the “late day” packages.

The moral of this story is simple. “You Reap What You Sow”— they looked for our childhood notes, they showed me some they’d saved and knew they’d gained our love. They had no other “grand children” but considered us to be theirs. So watch what you do for others, it can come back to LOVE you!!

Lucille, the Author

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Favorite Pets--Poultry Can Make Nice Pets Too!

So, here begins our first installment of 'Favorite Pets'--

Uncle Jack writes:

Most of the chickens we had when I was growing up were White Leghorns because they were the best egg producers. However, they were wilder than most other breeds. The one exception to this was a chicken I named Jim. One day, Jim walked right up to me and let me pick him up, something the other chickens never let me do. So I made a pet out of him. He would follow me around and when I went for a bike ride he would jump up on the handlebars and ride there as I pedaled around the block.

I made a nice spot for him in the garage and kept him there. Up until the time I met Jim I thought that all chickens were dumb. Jim changed my mind. There was no doubt that Jim realized he was something special because of the way he would lord it over the other chickens—especially on hot summer days.. He would strut back and forth in front of the screen door on the front of the chicken coop where the poor chickens were almost dying from the heat. You could almost hear him saying to them, “You poor clucks. Here you are almost roasting to death and here I am walking around free as a bird.” It was then I learned that chickens have a memory as well as a vengeance streak.

I learned this one day when the chickens got out—AGAIN. We finally caught them all and put them back into their chicken coop. By mistake, we put Jim in with the rest of the chickens. Luckily I missed him and went looking for him. I found him cowering in a corner, his body covered with blood from the numerous pecks he had received from the vengeful chickens. He did survive but he never did make that mistake again; he always stayed clear of the chicken coop. In the end, his friendliness did him in. One day he turned up missing, never to be seen again. We always suspected that our neighbor, Mrs. Patti, had caught him and the Patti family had a nice chicken dinner that night.

Aunt CB writes:

Well, this is a crazy thing! I get a request through the “Pet-Heaven-O-Gram to write a story about my life—seventy-five years ago!!

So, OK, here goes————

“Cock-a-dodle-do!” (I’m a little rusty here)

Make no mistake, I am the master of the barnyard at 30 West St! I have 10 or 12 handmaidens, (well, they are not all “maidens”) all of whom do my bidding! They scratch and poke the ground in our “yard” and when they see a worm, they “cluck-cluck” and I race over and grab it! (I must keep up my strength as they keep me pretty busy!) They also lay eggs and when they do so, I try to let my boss know by crowing. Then he sends out one of the scrubby kids to gather them and they are supposed to remember to feed us! Mostly they do.

On Sunday mornings I get my pampering. They bring me in their big room where they eat and feed me left-over pancakes. These are pretty sweet because they dip sticky stuff over them but I can get them down. I try not to stay too long, though, cause that sticky stuff travels through me fast and they get upset when it leaks out! Why do they use it then?

I am a lucky rooster, because there are few in the area. Even the 1st and 6th grade teachers know that I am special, every so often they send home with one of those scrubby kids, a coffee can full of their special leftovers. Theirs are better than pancakes!

So now I’ll sign off—

Tommy, the Rhode Island Red Rooster, King of the Plymouth Rock hens

Thanks Mom and Dad--Wonderful stories! Anyone else have a favorite pet they want to write about? Please send them my way!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Winter in New England, but Time for Gardening in Florida! By Nancy Taylor Wright

Pat Kinsella Herdeg writes: Just back from a weekend on the coast of Maine. Wintry beach with much sand gone, rocks uncovered, and surf and seaweed obvious on the other side of the road, having gone around or through the first line of beach houses. Very cold and snowy here.
Nancy Taylor Wright

But Nancy Taylor Wright has a different worldview. In Florida, she is gardening! Nance writes: Right now I am tending my garden which has survived all of our cold snaps with my covering everything up, and am eating out of it already with more things growing to full maturity. We're about to have another cold snap down in the 30s-40s again this weekend, but it doesn't last.

She describes each picture:

1st picture: Two large peppers almost ready to be picked in front of the heart, with basket of chives, and two Avocado Trees growing in pots.

The Pepper plant and the chives are last year's crops wintered over and will be good for another year. I have more pepper plants germinated in the Pepper pot to increase my garden. The Avocado Trees need to be transplanted into the ground as soon as I get a new place to live.

2nd picture: Wide view of my garden plants in my Pot Garden; this shows all of my different pots alongside the back porch right outside the kitchen door
3rd picture: Top view of Tomatoes, Basil, & Carrots

The tomatoes came up on their own, the Basil is a transplant from another basil plant and the carrots were size rejects from the Organic Garden I belong to when we harvested several of the pots, and with the warm weather and some rains they are all starting to grow fast now. (However, this coming weekend we are expected to dip into the 30's and 40's again, so will have to cover with sheets and towels to keep them warm)

4th picture:  Garden View looking out from back porch at kitchen door & Red and White Azaleas blooming in the common yard--our Oak and Maple trees are starting to bud new green leaves and the birds are all singing their mating songs now.

5th picture: My worm compost bin where I take all my kitchen veggie trimmings to, with Bok Choy, Sweet Potatoes, White Potatoes, and a Tomato plant

When we harvest the leaf lettuces and bok choy at the Organic Farm, they leave the root ball on it wrapped in slightly wet paper towel and rubber banded, so I just cut the lower part of the plant with roots off and plant that into my garden and voila--I have plants growing anew -- the leaf lettuce bunches are at least 18" across and you can't hardly stuff one bunch into a grocery bag, and gives you a TREMENDOUS amount of lettuce leaves for salads, and the spinach leaves that we harvest are all larger than a giant's hand--one leaf could make a whole spinach salad and is real sweet. With the Bok Choy, I want to try an egg/tuna fish salad Spring Roll (wrap egg/tuna fish into a leaf and roll-up).

6th picture:

 Red Leaf Lettuce, Cilantro, Onion and Mint, with Rosemary bush behind it

The Red Leaf Lettuce and the Cilantro are from the Organic Farm, the onion is just cut from the bottom of a store onion and planted for the green shoots for salads, the Mint was from the Organic Farm herbal collection and I found a piece with roots and potted it and now it's pretty big. The Rosemary bush I had bought at the garden center and want to eventually find a good place to plant it near an entry door in my new place one day--supposed to be good luck to touch the Rosemary bush before you enter your house (my NC friend told me that).

Well, Pat, see if this gives you enough about my Winter Garden, I just planted some marigolds, zinnias, and nasturtiums and they have popped up and getting ready to set their second leaves. This will be mostly for color to my garden, but can use the marigold and nasturtium leaves in my salads also.

Pat answers: Yes, Nancy this is TERRIFIC!! Thank you so much for sharing. I still find it hard to believe that while I am looking at about eight inches of snow in my yard, you are eating vegetables from your garden—so envious!