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DIY Black Walnut Stain Process and Timing - November 2021

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In our backyard, we have a couple of large, mature Black Walnut trees .  Three large ones inside our property line and a massive one just behind our fence in an easement.  They were here when we arrived and they'll be here after we leave.  Each Fall, they drop walnuts.  A.LOT.OF.WALNUTS.  This presents quite a feast to the critters around our yard as they peel them open, scatter the husks and try to get to the nut.  The squirrels - in particular - seem quite fond of these black walnuts.  They're called Black Walnuts, but when they drop they're actually green . Now, if you go read on the Web, you'll find that many people talk about how Walnut trees produce something called juglone , which *could* cause injury to other plants, vegetables and some trees and shrubs. I say COULD because it seems that it is a commonly accepted notion by many, but there's still some dispute about whether the damage is true . One thing *is* clear: the trees, do, indeed produce juglone. 

We Found Some Fossils In Our Northern Illinois Backyard - November 2021

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I was out in the backyard doing what I spend most of my free time doing these days:  dealing with the leaves.  We have a mix of native trees (Kentucky Coffee Trees, Hackberry) and a couple of large Oak trees.  The Oak leaves come down differently than the the rest of the trees.  Rather than dropping them mostly at once, our Oaks drop leaves a little bit at a time.  And the Oaks are HUGE, so there are TONS of leaves. That means, Oak leaf cleanup lasts for weeks.   How I start my cleanup is by blowing the leaves into the lawn where I collect them in big piles then I begin to mulch them in and bag some of them up.  As part of that blowing with the leaf blower (don't worry...I use an electric one from eGo and it isn't loud), I was cleaning up our firepit area.  And, for *some* reason, I looked closely at the stepping stones that take you from our lawn to the gravel bed.  One one of them - clear as day - was what sure looked like a fossil to my naked eye.  I got down on my knees and

Happy Thanksgiving Via The Band and The Beatles - 2021 Version

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After taking a one-year COVID-related break from The Last Waltz here on the blog for Thanksgiving (with an appropriate detour of " Whatever Gets You Through The Night" from Elton John and John Lennon ), it feels right to come back home to The Last Waltz this year.  Sort of.  Will I watch The Last Waltz?  That's my plan.  But, what's the hangup?  The Beatles Get Back is released today - Thanksgiving Day - on Disney+.   So, what lives at the intersection of The Last Waltz by The Band and Get Back by the Beatles?  It seems that it is this rendition of Hey Jude by The Beatles as performed on David Frost's Frost on Sunday.  Why this song?  First, it is a really lovely number.  But, thanks to my good friend Neil, I discovered a neat little nugget:  If you scroll ahead (or listen all the way) to around 6:19ish mark (during the nah-nah-nahs), you can hear Macca belt out some lyrics from The Weight.  "Take a load off, baby.  Take a load off, baby.  Put it back on me&q

Tracking Chellino Scamorza Cheese at Frankie's Deli - November 2021

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I've long held that this Chellino Scamorza cheese - out of Joliet - is the best pizza cheese for home bakers.  I started buying it when we lived in Elmhurst and picked it up at Angelo Caputos up in Addison.  Since we moved to Downers, the sourcing of the cheese has been spotty.  They have it at Angelo's on 55th here (shared in 2018) , but I had a bad experience with flavor and don't love that store.  I've since gone back and have had no problems.  I also tracked the price at Nature's Best Market in Westmont where they were selling it for $2 cheaper than Angelo's at $5.99 .   I haven't settled on a source, but buy it where I can when I need it.  I recently picked up a meal at Frankie's Deli in Oak Brook Terrace (near my folk's place) and noticed they carry the stuff.  Here's the tag below showing their price:  $7.99. I haven't done enough of a close examination of the price of Chellino Scamorza Cheese over the years, but I think $7.99 is abo

Name A Better Looking College Football Game. I'll Wait.

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My Fighting Illini football team have done something that I've appreciated this year uniform-wise:  they've stuck with orange.  Orange helmets every game.  Sounds like it is something that Bret Bielema has pushed .  And I'm here for it.  This past weekend in Iowa City, we had a lovely uniform matchup with the Illini going O-W-O.  And the Hawkeyes doing their traditional home B-B-Y.   But, that clearly wasn't the best-looking college football game of the weekend.  Not by a mile.  That honor is held by the UCLA vs. USC game.  Here's a look at the 2nd half kickoff that was happening as I tuned in (The Illini game had just finished up).  Both teams wear their home colors during this game - both at the Colosseum and at the Rose Bowl.  At least that's what I thought happened.   Turns out, there's a bit more history to the story.  According to the OC Register  there was a period when it wasn't the calvalcade of colors we see today.  Love this little timeout st

Christmas Cactus - November 2021

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In addition to the five Amaryllis bulbs that we bought and planted last week , we also came home with a Christmas Cactus.  This was picked out and planted by the KotBTs - as he has a love of cactus (thanks, Preston Playz ).   We haven't had one of these before, but have come across them just about every holiday season.  But, is it a cactus?  The answer is *kinda*.  At least according to the Farmer's Almanac : Unlike other cacti, the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and its relatives don't live in hot, arid environments such as deserts or plains. In fact, these epiphytic succulents are native to the tropical rainforests of southern Brazil, where they grow on tree branches and soak up the high humidity, dappled sunlight, and warm temperatures. The bottom line: Don't treat a Christmas cactus like it's a run-of-the-mill cactus or succulent. They can't take the same sort of sunny, dry conditions that other cacti can. It's important to water these cacti

2021 Christmas Amaryllis Bulbs Planted - November 2021

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Earlier this week, I posted photos of the three tags of the Amaryllis bulbs that we selected for Christmas 2021 .  We went with a few smaller, more common Red Lions and two larger (more expensive) flowers - one red/white (Sunshine Nymph) and the other one greenish (Lemon Star).  That means that this year we have five total bulbs planted up.  Below, is a look at all of them after a couple of days in the soil. The trio of Red Lions (on the right) are in a low, wide pot.  We topped that one with a little moss and a couple of rocks.  The Lemon Star is in the slightly smaller pot on the back left.  That, one too, has moss.  The largest bulb (Sunshine Nymph) is in the larger pot with no moss. Below is a look at the Lemon Star.  This is the one that The Bird picked out and is the only one of the five that hasn't gotten started just yet.  Still dormant.   Below is a closer look at the trio of Red Lions.  All three of these have small green shoots that have emerged from the bulb. And, final