BYSFI: Swimming with snappers

Several visitors to Life in the Bogs have been searching for the answer to this question:

Is it safe to swim in a pond with snapping turtles?

(This is not a snapper, but the only photo of a turtle hanging out by our pond that I have handy. Photo by Robin. 2006)

I daresay the turtles might ask a similar question: Is it safe to swim in a pond with humans? After all, the turtles are the ones who end up in soup.

M swims in the pond quite frequently during the summer months. I’m less of a pond swimmer, but that has more to do with aesthetics than a fear of what’s in the pond (snakes, turtles, etc.). The bottom of the pond, even by our “beach” area, is mushy and a little slimy. Even though I wear water shoes, I still don’t like the way I sink down in the muck. Once past the muck, I usually enjoy being in the pond.

Although we’ve seen a good-sized snapper hanging around the pond, neither of us has ever been bitten by one.

(M swimming in the pond. No snapping turtles are attacking. Photo by Robin. 2006)

Snapping turtles are powerful creatures. They have sharp claws, and adults are capable of biting off a finger or a toe. My advice: Don’t mess with a snapping turtle. Don’t try to pick one up. Just leave them be.

Everything I’ve read about snapping turtles suggests that they are vicious only when disturbed (for instance, if you were to step on one). They tend to avoid confrontation while in the water, but will go on the attack quickly if cornered or disturbed on land.

To learn more about snapping turtles, visit enature’s field guide.

Because you searched for it: Spicy shrimp with udon noodles

There are a lot of people out there searching the internet for a spicy shrimp with udon noodles recipe. I thought I’d posted this here before, but if I did, I can’t find it.

So, here it is, either again or for the first time. The recipe is from The Complete CookingLight Cookbook.

  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups (2 x 1/4-inch) julienne-cut red bell pepper (about 2 peppers)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green pepper
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts (about 3 ounces)
  • 6 cups cooked udon noodles or spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked)
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons chopped lightly salted, dry-roasted peanuts

Combine first 6 ingredients. Combine 1/3 cup lime juice mixture and shrimp in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal bag, and marinate shrimp in refrigerator 30 minutes.

Combine remaining lime juice mixture, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, bean sprouts, and noodles in a large bowl, tossing to coat.

Remove shrimp from lime juice mixture; discard marinade. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add shrimp; saute 5 minutes or until done. Combine shrimp and pasta mixture, and toss gently. Sprinkle each serving with peanuts. Serve warm or chilled.

Note: I made this for dinner once, and it was really yummy. That said, somebody made a big mistake when they listed 3 TABLESPOONS of red curry paste. Being a lover of curries, especially red curry, I’m familiar with red curry paste. I used half the amount called for and let me tell ya, that stuff was so spicy that M and I got a good case of the sniffles, runny eyes, and that cough you get from having the heat of spiciness hit the back of your throat. I don’t mind things so spicy that they make my eyes water, but others might. Taste test the red curry paste. I’ve found that some brands are hotter than others and even within the same brand the heat isn’t always consistent. The best thing about red curry paste is that the heat, no matter how hot, doesn’t overwhelm the dish. I did end up with numb lips, though.

Because you searched for it: Amish laundry day photos

I know I said I’d be back today with more photos from the Tyler Arboretum. Promises, promises. Or threats, as the case may be. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll be more in the mood for it.

I’m having an off day. I have succumbed to the heat and have spent the day languishing in a melodramatic way.

Heat brings out the melodrama in me. It also makes me ill. But I’m certain my readers don’t wish to hear about that. The details are not terribly exciting anyhow.

One of the popular searches lately here at Life in the Bogs is for Amish laundry day photos. Regular readers might have seen these photos before and be disappointed in the repeats. In my defense, I’m having an off day (mentioned above) and languishing ladies behaving melodramatically should not have to explain themselves.

Besides, it’s my blog and I like doing this kind of entry.

(Photo by Robin. 2006)

(Photo by Robin. 2006)

(Photo by Robin. 2006)

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Because you searched for it: The Century Plant

(Quail Hollow signage. Photo by Robin. 2006)

One of the things I enjoy about WordPress is the stats page. On the stats page, in addition to the stats, there’s a neat little feature which shows me the search engine terms that brought people to my blog.

So, I was thinking, on the days I have nothing other than cleaning and weather to write about, I might attempt to answer the question which brought someone to visit me here at Life in the Bogs. My top post is, in fact, just that. I now provide the Wal-Mart associate number for calling off from work and boy, does it draw in the crowds. Not really crowds, but a goodly number of people are out there searching for that phone number.

This will also give me the opportunity to learn a little about various subjects, increasing my knowledge of trivia for that day I work up the guts to try out for Jeopardy (like Alto2 who is currently studying for her appearance on Jeopardy sometime this month).

The past few days have drawn people who are searching for how to care for a century plant. My mention of the century plant (as well as the before and after photos) from Longwood Gardens is why they ended up here.

Having no earthly idea how to care for one, I had to look it up. Here’s what I found:

  • The century plant is a cactus/succulent (an agave) native to the desert. It likes full sun (but will do okay in light shade), dry soil, and warm temperatures. It wouldn’t do well outdoors in the Bogs, that’s for sure, as it doesn’t like extremely cold temperatures.
  • It’s a very tall plant (6-12 feet), needing even more head space when the bloom spike shoots out and up (12-25 feet). It’s also wide and the sharp pointed spines on the leaf tip can be a hazard to humans and pets so you want to keep it away from foot traffic. Unless you have plenty of room for this plant, it’s advised not to plant it. That said, it does very well in a large pot so it seems to me that’s the way to go if you must have one and don’t have the room for it.
  • It’s moderately deer resistant. I think any deer that attempted to munch on a century plant would have to be a very hungry deer indeed. I suspect it’s mostly deer resistant and you aren’t likely to see many deer chowing down on this plant.
  • Hummingbirds like it, as do nectar-eating/drinking insects.
  • The century plant blooms in June or July.
  • Maintenance of the plant (removing dead or dying bottom leaves, etc.) sounds difficult due to the sharp spines.
  • Generally, the plant lives about 8-10 years. The mature plants dies after it blooms but it does provide off-shoots or “pups” that can be planted to start a new one. (A bit of trivia: Plants that die after flowering and fruiting once are monocarpic.)
  • The century plant is drought tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping.
  • If you cut the stem of the plant before it flowers, the nectar, called agua miel (“honey water”), gathers in the heart of the plant. This can be fermented and distilled to produce mezcal. Tequila is a form of mezcal that is made from the blue agave plant.
  • HOWEVER, you should be very careful not to get the sap/juice from the plant on your skin. It can be quite toxic, causing a painful, itchy rash that blisters and can take up to 4 weeks to go away completely.
  • Gardener’s notes on various websites are somewhat negative. The plant is aggressive, taking over the garden pretty quickly. It’s hard to contain although containment is possible by planting it in the ground in a clay pot. The spines and edges of the leaves are sharp and one description mentioned that getting impaled by the spines is extremely painful. But for those who live in desert conditions who know something about the plant, it did get good, sometimes rave, reviews as it is a stunning plant.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website has good information about the plant. Check it out if you want to learn more (especially the section at the bottom of the page “Mr. Smarty Plants Says”).

(Flower of the century plant at Longwood Gardens. Photo by Robin. June 2006)

A lot of people apparently want to know how to remove a century plant from their garden. I was unable to find any useful information on the subject. Perhaps someone else out there will know and leave a comment about it.