What’s in Season: Connecticut Seasonal Produce Chart

This crop availability chart, created by the CT Department of Agriculture: http://www.ct.gov/doag/lib/doag/marketing_files/crop_calendar_updated_02-22-2013.pdf is handy for seeing what’s locally available.

CT Produce Chart

As much as I would like to, I haven’t yet been able to integrate this into my buying habits. I suppose it would help if I spent more time shopping at Shortt’s Farm and Garden Center instead of Stop & Shop.

So, what’s in season now (September)?

  • Apples
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Greens
  • Herbs
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Onions
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Summer Squash
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Winter Squash

A mighty bountiful time of year!

To get myself in the mood for some season cooking, I’ve decided to make Peach Cobbler for dessert for our Labor Day Picnic. In fact, it was the great price on peaches that got me thinking (again) about making more of an effort to eat locally.

Next, I have to learn about preserving… canning, fermenting, freezing, maybe even jams and jellies.

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Current Moon Phase

Found this great widget that will always show the current phase of the moon:

CURRENT MOON

Yellow Fuzzy Caterpillar: Apatelodes torrefacta

Look at this lovely we found on the deck last night…

Apatelodes torrefactaAfter a bit of research… and I did use Google Image Search to start (that handy little tool that lets you drag and drop an image onto the search page and it returns similar/related results) I found out that this is probably an

Apatelodes torrefacta, or Spotted Apatelodes, is a species of moth in the Bombycidae or Apatelodidae (if this family is considered valid) family. It is found from Maine and southern Ontario to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Wisconsin.

The wingspan is 32–42 mm. Adults are on wing from May to August. There are two generations per year in the south and one in the north.

The larvae feed on FraxinusPrunusAcer and Quercus species.

From: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatelodes_torrefacta

I had never seen one before… and quite frankly I think the adult moth that comes from this caterpillar is rather frightening looking.

Spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta
Spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta by Michael Hodge used under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

However, there is a joy in learning about new creatures in one’s environment, even if they are a little scary looking. The caterpillar is certainly an eye-catcher.

Video Game Playing? Bad or Good?

The other day my husband sent me a link to an article about Autistic boys and “problematic video game playing.” The article states:

Boys with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder were more likely to spend excessive amounts of time playing video games than those with typical development, researchers found.

Problematic video game use is defined as difficulty disengaging from gaming and higher levels of addictive game use.

I have no argument with the conclusions reached. I definitely have seen this myself. However, I know quite a few other “quirky” people (with no “label” like a learning disability or Autism) who also have trouble disengaging from games and, at times, use games a bit addictively.

The advice of the Dr. Max Wiznitzer is to set firm limits for game playing, use games as a reward for other things accomplished (homework, chores, etc.) and to limit access to the games so that kids don’t end up quietly playing games all night long in their bedrooms.

All these things make perfect sense…. but then I also see the “other” side of the story, which I think is best explained by game designer, Jane McGonigal in her excellent TED talks:

Could it possibly be that the tendency for immersion in video games might be the path to problem-solving in the “real world?” Lots of these kids are intensely successful in the virtual-world of gaming, but very challenged in the “real-world.”

How can we turn the natural “obsessiveness” of gamers into something that can solve the problems in the world?

The Power of Courage

This past weekend, my daughter and I went to see the US Gymnastics Championships at the XL Center in Hartford. We saw the Junior and Senior Women’s competitions. The end result of the competition was the forming of the US National Gymnastics teams … this is where the next crop of Olympic competitors come from.

US National Gymnastics Team

What both amazed and inspired me about watching this competition, aside from the stellar gymnastics, was the raw courage that these young women possess.

During the final competitions on Saturday, there were several of the junior women who struggled on bars and on beam… falling, sometimes hard, during their routines. Each time, they got up again and completed their routines. It brought tears to my eyes. At one point, after watching a talented gymnast fall (twice) from the high bar on the uneven bars and get up again to continue, I started to cry in earnest.

Afterward, I spent a lot of time thinking about those women. What an incredibly powerful lesson these young women teach us… about not succumbing to fear or discouragement, about getting up and going on even when you’ve fallen hard, flat on your face.

I think it’s an important lesson for all of us to learn, not only for ourselves, but for our children, our future. The lesson of courage, of persevering in the face of pain, fear or discouragement is something we all need to take to heart. Athletes are taught that lesson more fully than others… but I think it’s something we all need to learn. Giving up is easy, quitting is epidemic. If we want to make the world a better place, we need to start building our courage.

Family can make it Fun

This has been a busy summer for us…. we’ve offered lots of help to family who needed to move house. This past weekend, we moved my mother-in-law from her home of 18 years to a new apartment, quite a job! In the midst of all the hard work of sorting, packing and moving, we were still able to smile, laugh and have a little bit of a “party” atmosphere because… we had help! John’s brothers: Tom and Dan traveled from far flung parts of the US to come help with the move.

Our darling daughter summed it up best when she said “Having Uncle Dan and Uncle Tom here makes this work more fun.”

Moving the SafeWe feel very lucky and blessed to have had their help, their humor and their great attitudes. Sometimes family getting together can make even the simple things in life more difficult… but in our case, adding brothers to the mix only helped the situation. That’s not to say that there weren’t moments of friction over the weekend… with that much work to be done in a short period of time, there are bound to be differences of opinion in how things should be done; like moving the super-heavy home safe, or packing into the truck all the bits and pieces so that nothing would move, shift or break en route.

Most of the work is now complete, there are things left to re-assemble, unpack and sort, but the hard work is done. And, as Dan said last night… “I can’t wait to get back to work, so I can have a rest!”

Dining Room Table

Homeless and Hungry

The other day, while on our way to a day at the beach, we drove through New Haven and at a traffic light, saw a man with a sign saying he was Homeless and Hungry.

July 23 - 31, 2009
“July 23 – 31, 2009” by osseous used under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I said “Oh, dear. This makes me so uncomfortable.”

and my son asked “Why?”

“I don’t know. Seeing him makes me feel sad and upset and helpless.”

“Why?”

“Because I feel that I should give him some money, but I feel frightened.”

“Why?”

I really didn’t have a good answer…  So instead I said “Get my wallet.” And as we passed by, I opened my window and handed the man some money. Which he gratefully accepted with a smile and a blessing.

Where does the fear come from? Why should seeing someone in desperate straits make me feel anything but sadness or compassion? Why would I feel afraid of offering him some of my abundance?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But I do know that my son’s persistent questioning helped me move out of fear into compassion. Out of immobility into action, at least a small action. Afterward I felt so much better than I would have if I had rolled up my window, locked my car door, and pretended that the homeless and hungry man didn’t exist.