Monday, August 24, 2009

Black cherry heaven

Last week, I noticed a couple huge cherry trees on the edge of a park that on my route to work. The fruit hung down in racemes like chokecherries, and the ripe ones were very black. I had never seen a chokecherry tree that big (25 feet or so), plus the tree had rough and shaggy bark (chokecherry usually has smooth silvery bark), so there was a little room for doubt. I picked one and squished it and, indeed, there was a big pit in the middle. Then I tasted it, and it tasted right -- like a cherry, but a bit better and astringent. But I decided not to eat anymore until I could confirm the identity. I pulled a leaf off and got to a computer, where the beloved internet revealed to me that the tree fit the description of black cherry.

So Dekalb and I went back to pick some yesterday. We decided to go before church, since the tree is near church, and he could drop me off when we were done.

But I didn't look at my watch and we hit a really juicy patch and when I finally thought to ask the time ... well, church had started 45 minutes before. Given that we was borrowing the ladders of people I know from church, this might have been a tad embarrassing, if it weren't for the fact that one of the parents is an atheist and never goes to church, either.

People would walk by and ask what we were picking, and we told them, and they asked if they tasted good, and I would answer, "Well, some people like them." From my chokecherry experience, I added, "The are a bit bitter and astringent, but that goes away when you cook them." One woman who tasted them was convinced, because of the bitterness and astringency, that we had misidentified them and that they were indeed chokecherries, but I stand by my research.

I steam-juiced them last night and discovered I had been lying about the bitterness going away with cooking. The beautiful, deep purple gallon of juice I got was so bitter I wondered if any amount of sugar would rescue it for normal human consumption. It was a bit like cherry juice with 40 bags of oversteeped black tea in it. But then I threw in 2 loosely packed cups of brown sugar and about half a cup of honey and that raised it to the level of grapefruit juice - and I love grapefruit. I'll probably mix in some sweet yellow cherry juice that I canned last year so their flavors can balance each other out. The yellow cherry juice has a sweet and slightly musky flavor. I think they will be perfect together.

Dekalb and I left the low-hanging cherries in place so I can go back and pick more on my lunch breaks. What a good week this will be!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hedgehogs!

Dekalb sent me this article about orphaned wild hedgehogs who have taken to a cleaning brush as a surrogate mother. I don't know if I should weep because they are so cute or because it is a bit sad. Well, at least they found something that's comforting.

I had a roommate who bought an African hedgehog as a pet. The hedgehog was very cute, but the whole seem just seemed an exercise in cruelty. It clearly would have preferred not to be around humans and to stay in a nice nest in whatever part of Africa it hailed from.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just to update

My mom says I have been a slacker with blog updating. She is right. So here is a gift to her. I am not the producer. A friend posted it to Facebook.*

I think they should have included Peanut Butter JoJos in the "favorite products they don't have anymore" video medley, but the producer probably was as blindsided as all of us were by its removal and never thought to save his last box, because he didn't know it would be his last.

*By the way, if you are reading this on Facebook, you need to click on the note title to get to my blog so you can see the video embedded herein. Always a good idea to click on the note title when the note doesn't make sense; it probably means it's a blog entry with embedded links and/or photos that Facebook strips out.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Beware of Delta Post Haste rack

So this is what happened to my bike rack when I went over a train track on the way to work Tuesday. No, the end is not supposed to look like an automobile exhaust pipe. That's just where the bulk of the rack broke off from the mechanism that attaches the rack to the seat post. You can see a before picture (not of my particular rack, but of a doppelganger for what it looked like pre-disaster) here.

I've had this rack for less than three years and would like to note that the track I went over yesterday is not a particularly heinous one. The engineers did a good job of keeping it at grade with the surrounding asphalt, so I go over it twice in a typical day, usually not even noticing it is there. I have been on paved roads that are much bumpier.

Aluminum is weaker than steel and more prone to cracking, but this is ridiculous.

Couldn't find any evidence that this model had been recalled. I e-mailed Delta about the problem, but have yet to hear back. I guess I could also contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Had there been a cyclist or ped behind me at the time that this thing flew off my bike, or had this thing come off in the middle of the road, the consequences could have been more complicated. I doubt I would have been hurt, but I can't say as much for the person standing in the wrong place.

As it was, the immediate consequence was having to unclip my bag from the rack, strap said bag over my shoulder, and attach the rack to the bag with the bungee cord that I had coincidentally brought along that morning.

Still, one feels a bit of a fool carrying a bike rack on one's back while riding a bike.

I didn't even bother to explain to my boss why I was ten minutes late to work. I thought too much would be lost in the translation. But I did walk around the office for a while waving the rack at my bike-riding coworkers. They understood.