Working in the sunroom
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. Even when I sit at this computer for 10 hours a day (which has been my life for the last month), I love looking out into the garden and feeling the sun streaming through the windows. Best office ever, next to actually working in the garden.

Limoncello recipe

2. If you haven’t seen Ashley English’s newly released book, Quench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste and Occasion, consider picking it up as a Christmas gift. My limoncello is featured as a guest recipe, among a hundred other delectable drinks. I can’t wait to try a few for Thanksgiving!

Ripening bananas

3. Bananas starting to ripen on the plant. (And did you know that a banana plant is actually an herb?)

Barred Rock feathers

4. My Barred Rock is in full molt and while the process is meant to be a renewal of feathers, I can’t stop collecting her old ones which are still so beautiful.

Candelabra cactus

5. After last month’s Five Things Friday, some of you wanted to see the candelabra cactus (Euphorbia ingens) that grows over two stories tall next to my house. So here it is! (Yes, there’s a branch dangling precariously right now… we’re waiting for it to fall so we can replant it.)

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  • Have you seen a movie, “The Gods Must be Crazy”? And it you liked it, you might have seen the sequel? If so, you may remember, the bad guy hiding under one of those euphorbia trees, while the good guy shooting his gun, while aiming not at the bad guy, but at the Euphorbia plant above him. The venomous latex squirted out of the plant and landed onto the bad guy’s skin. . . The bad guy started to jump and squealed in pain and terror . . . I read that Euphorbia latex feels like a thousand of razor blades on the skin. This latex is not only a skin irritant, a blinding agent, but also a killing poison. Death from Euphorbia is not a peaceful one either, but that of great suffering and distress.

    Euphorbia ingens is one of the most common plants in South America growing on every block of their towns and cities. It was such a common site to see Euphorbia plants everywhere I went in South America. It’s probably common in other southern hemisphere countries as well. Euphorbia itself is one of the most diverse species comprising over 2000 genera. I always think of Euphorbia in plant kingdom as of a shark in animal kingdom, – an evolutionary dead end that made it comfortably in life.

    Cactus, on the other hand, has the most healing and delightful properties. It is used to heal the ill, rehydrate the stranded in the desert, and to nourish the hungry. Cacti have to protect themselves with the spines, otherwise, they will be obliterated by us, who want them so much.

    • I haven’t seen that movie in a verrrry long time, but now I might need to add it to my queue! I wonder if Euphorbia latex is similar to fig latex? My skin gets a little irritated after climbing around my fig tree in the summer, harvesting figs, but I wouldn’t say it’s a terrible feeling and it subsides once I wash up. I imagine it just depends on how sensitive your skin is to the latex – perhaps other people have no reaction at all. And perhaps the potency of latex varies with the type of Euphorbia.

      • I never met anyone who died from a fig. . . But I sure have seen enough mortality from Euphorbia. The potency and the concentration of the irritant in the latex do vary among different species of Euphorbia. It is very disturbing to see people dying from ingestion of Euphorbia latex, while trying to rehydrate in a desert and sipping on Euphorbia latex that they mistakenly take for the beneficial and revitalizing juices of a cactus.

        Skin sensitivity to Euphorbia latex also varies. Some people react more than others. While some people do not react to the sap of blue agave, for example, most get serious irritations from Euphorbia latex. You may prove me wrong, but I’d stay put when that branch falls off, if I were you.

  • gzwrnomnhzgnb4

    Plymouth Rock nitrogen! Yeah compost bin here we come! That has to be one of the largest Candelabras I’ve ever seen. Wonder how old it is.

    • It’s 20-30 years old and seems to keep growing in the 4 years I’ve lived in this house!

  • One of my Barred Rocks started to molt this week, too, and every time I open the door to the coop it looks like a murder scene. The poor thing picked a really bad time to lose her feathers. The highs have been in the 20s all week here in Iowa!

    • Eek, poor thing! My hen is half bald but she’s been enjoying sunny weather in the 60s. On a happy note, if your hen took this long to start molting, it usually means her cycle is quick and she’ll regrow feathers in no time.

  • Shannon

    Hmm…what can we make with the feathers…. 😉

    • I probably have enough to stuff a pillow at this point.

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The value of a self-imposed writing retreat
The Value of a Self-Imposed Writing Retreat

Every year for the last couple of years, I've been sequestering myself for several days at a time, borrowing beautiful...

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