Monday, February 26, 2007

upside down for dinner

If we all had to do acrobatics to eat, would we all be in better shape, or not?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Garden plans and creeks up!!!

there's a hole in the bucket, dear Henry.
If you know the lyrics to that old song, you know that before you can fix one thing, you have to fix the next, and it carries into a ludicrous cycle of tasks....that is the way for me today in starting my flats of seeds. (it is time, last week of February coming up, after all)
The plastic on last years greenhouse blew away, and even though it was one of my better greenhouse constructions (if I do say so myself) it was plagued with mice eating every seed, and then repeating the process after I replanted and supposedly protected the flats with wire mesh. so I will be dismantling it soon to use the cattle panel that it is constructed from for a temporary chicken corral.
This year,I am scaling down considerable and the flats are going in my sunny, south facing bedroom window. If I hear little digging and munching in the night, I can get up and yell at them, at least.
But before I could do that, I had to move the plants in that window into another window and move the computer (oh my! computers should come with a disclosure-cords entangle themselves hopelessly on their own when left alone for a year or more) and then juggle extension cords, baskets of yarn, clean clothes piled up that have never been put away and then the knitting machine and now the entire place is in upheaval, hours have gone by, its time to eat again and I still haven't even planted the first seed!
Maybe it is time to take a walk, creeks up! rained all night.
I don't have tv, just public tv, and if I did, wouldn't have time for it anyway, but I am always a little surprised at what is on when I hear about it. Nelumbo posted a list and description of current garden shows on her blog, interesting, if I had tv, wonder what I would learn? Just reading the list has taught me something about my view of gardening. It is not a choice or hobby for me, it is genetic.

Friday, February 23, 2007

in the thicket of it

For most folks, the advice to "follow your inner voice" can not be repeated often enough.
For others, it might seem like permission to screw off.
And then there are those who drink a dose of daily magic by most all the time listening to their inner voices. They are usually short cash but rich in art and music and poetry and ideas. God takes care of idiots and musicians (or as the tired Nashville joke goes, what do you call a musician without a girlfriend? ---homeless)
I fall in between, I watch for signs all the time to give me permission to listen to my inner voices, that call and sing and even wail sometimes in conflict as I sit inside making out the utility bills and repeating the buttons pushes on the calculator as if it would make the balance come up differently.
On magic perfect days, at the transition of the seasons, if I have all my work caught up and have hopefully made my customers happy, I listen to the voices. Yesterday, I had a couple of hours of daylight left and was able to crawl into one of my favorite places, a new thicket that I haven't been in yet.
I crawled out with half a honeysuckle and maple-sucker basket and the memories of a close encounter with a wid rabbt and carolina chickadee and the first real "almost hot" sunshine on my face.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

now thats what I call the "regular" weather for late feb. in TN

oh My!!!! how can it go from wind chills in the "aughts" and then smell, sound and then feel like spring in less than 36 hours!?
I have been watching the ground in the woods for the first wildflowers. Back when the winter was still so unseasonably warm, I observed toothwort and dutchmens breeches, little leaves and tight buds peeking out at what seemed to me from experience to be much too early. But then when the frigid cold set in and stayed week after week, I swear they seemed to draw back under the leaves!
Yesterday afternoon, I was stunned to see that you give spring beauties a tiny window in the weather and they make a break for it!

These two photos were taken yesterday afternoon at the same time, less than 15 feet apart.

But then today, oh my! it was the first t-shirt day in tennessee, with the sun beating down and the birds singing to beat the band. It flat out stoned me!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

daughters of beeches

dancing slowly in a winter wind and waiting on spring

Monday, February 19, 2007

cold and lost

lost some disgruntled subscribers from my last post, I say, hey, don't shoot the reporter.
Snow helps really define the deer and other critter trails for you, that otherwise might go unnoticed in the generalized tangle of overgrown pastures.

If you squint your eyes, through the trees you can see the chimney, but the smoke is clear, because it is so incredibly cold that it is litterly sucking the fire into complete combustion. Burn alotta wood that way, and we are most out.
But they are giving alot warmer this week. Time to think about getting the garden beds ready for onions and peas.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hillbilly conversation type #7 - "the truck"

"That yo truck" I asked Mikey as he steadily unloaded slab lumber from the saw mill onto my dwindling fire wood pile.
"Yep" he answered, slowing his toss a little.
"Shore is a nice un" I said, speeding up my tossing a some, giving him a little room, in case he wanted to carry the conversation further.
"Well, it orta be" he replied, " I was a hopin' to have it paid off afore winter, but had a hard time finding work this summer."
"Oh Yea?" I said, making another opening.
"My older brother, he got his paid off a lot quicker, but that was before all the mexicans"
He hurridly added to his statement, "it ain't that I got nothin against mexicans, you know, its just that you can't get no farm jobs, now, like in tobacco or humping hay, cause they only hire mexicans, cause they come in a team, you know. Kindly makes it hard, Daddy said he seen that and tried to get me on up at the trailer factory for the summer, but they up and closed down, moved out and took their factory to mexico.... funny, you know what I mean? our jobs going there and them coming here."
"Yep" I replied, moving around to start tossing off the other side of the truck.
"So mostly I am hauling wood as much as I can, waiting to graduate high school so's I can drive to Nashville or somewheres else far off like everybody else has to do to get work."
He paused slightly and glanced around. I've seen that look before many a time and knew he was taking in the entire farm in a quick glance. He went right back to work after having determined quickly that I didn't have nothin of count to trade on.
In a quieter voice he said, if you call me ahead a time,next time, I can bring you a big ol' truck bed load and a-hauling a big ol' trailer a-hind it and stack it all for you for 35.00, it could be drying then for next winter.
It was his way of sorta apologizing for the slabs he'd brought me being so green and wet.
"Well", I said, "my fault for not having enough put up."
"Well" he said, "you aint the only one caught short, its been a right hard winter, wished I had some real wood to bring you, but its been gone a month now and its been too froze up in the woods to get a chain saw through nothing. Now you,holler back at me end of the summer and I can bring you some real wood."
"Will do" I said, "take care of that truck, least till you get er paid off!"
He grinned at that and said, "Yes m'am, and much obliged for you calling on me for the wood"

Saturday, February 17, 2007

huggable snowflake

a snowflake that looks like warm wool! it is funny how warm 32 degrees feels after 15. (almost twice as warm! ha!) But actually it is part of a "still life" taken on the garbage can lid. This garbage can holds the grain for the chickens and the elderly mule. When you rattle this lid, you stir up mule whinnies (which sound like a cross between a hee haw and a horses neigh) and chicken clucking and "brrruuuuiiiing" (the sound a chicken makes when it is calling for food)
If I were feeling right bored and a tad bit cruel, I could go out and rattle the lid just for fun.

Friday, February 16, 2007


five quiet minutes, in a cold afternoon inside a tangle of grapevines is worth 20 minutes of meditation

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rose in Snow

The mule formerly known as Ruby Rose, then Amelia Rose and now just affectionately "Rose" is a sweet valentines photo. The snow is like frosting on the cake.
Froze my fingers off this morning doing chores and taking this just ain't normal for Tennessee to be like this on valentines day. Many of those I have spent planting sugar snap peas in the dark, cool earth and watching the birds start to feather their nests.
The only thing the birds are doing this morning is fluffing their feathers against the cold and creating a frenzy at the feeder.

Monday, February 12, 2007

owls, fur and rain

found this lovely fur on the way to the old barn ruins out was spread a little here, a little there, like bread crumbs along the trail. I wondered who got the rabbit meat that once was wearing this hair, don't think it was the dogs, because they like to flaunt the remains that they drag in, arranging them in the side yard that gets the most sun and is their afternoon napping area.
Though I do think it was the puppy who scattered it along the trail, I guessed that the predator was more of a legitimate one and I wondered if coyotes had moved in close again. So tracking the sparse trail towards the edge of the woods, gathering up the little tufts along the way to spin , I found the largest pile under a limb in the woods that is a known (well known to me, at least) barred owl hangout.
I like barred owls, I like to know that they are ever diligently swooping down on voles in the night, and their calls are comforting and musical.
So I thought of the owls this afternoon when I was working in the cabin and happened to glance towards the window. The gloom that had been hanging over the sky all day had suddenly gathered up darker and it looked just on the verge of actually dropping a much needed rain. Two things popped into my slow mind and caused me to speed up to put my boots on. One, you better get your firewood in for the evening so you aren't hauling it in a downpour, and two, is there an owl out there somewhere calling because it is about to rain?
As I wheeled the dolly towards the wood shed the first sprinkle hit my face and I heard the owl calling from his outpost tree by the old barn. Yes! should I be keeping score of the weather reporting owl?

Friday, February 9, 2007

yoohoo, fly up fast fast food for birds

tap! tap! tap! on the window and this morning the redbellied woodpecker is beyond requesting more seed for the feeder, he is demanding!
you in there? where's the gosh darn feed! its cold out here! isn't this the drive up window?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

my whirled

Oh the cold! On this gloomy morning with my hands shoved into the fire I offered my kingdom for a sunny afternoon. And low, it came to pass. A sunny afternoon to peirce the chill and my whole kingdom still belonged to me. Not all richness is cut with a deal.
Such blessing I have been bestowed, a day above freezing and two hours to enjoy it! I called around hunting firewood, but there was none to be had. At first that seemed a waste of a day barely above freezing. It sure would have made it easier to load and stack, but oh well.. musta been another purpose for me on this sunny day.
My bones creaked up from the workbench and carried my flesh up on the ridge where I observed some sort of sign.
I was wandering along the ridge top, lost in tracing my eyes along the curvy beech branches overhead against the intense blue of the sky when a movement and rustle caught my eye not far on down the path in front of me.
Almost never without my camera, today I had left it behind as a sort of half-thought-out spiritual discipline, and for an instant I felt regret that this might be the missed bird photo op of a lifetime.
But I didn't see a bird, I watched in rapt stillness as first one leaf and then another lifted animatedly off the ground about a foot, swirled around and flopped back to the earth with a decided rustle. Two leaves dancing became three and then four and then I realized it was a jerkily choreographed and ever so sublte whirlwind. Back to the earth they would fall with a rustle. Then another little square of dancers would rise up a little on farther down the ridge and repeat the display. Each little whirlwind was moving a little closer to me. And I wondered what would happen when their path met mine. I stood at total attention, searching the tree tops for any sign of wind, but it was very still and blue and cold and sunny, except for the tiny advancing whirlwind. Picking up new leaves and dropping the old ones every yard or so, it finally reached me.
It rustled the leaves and swirled them around my feet, up my legs and around my waste. Then it was gone.

burning parts of the house to stay warm

desperate times call for desperate measures. Dry kindling is the key to a good fire, and this old house was certainly dry.

(really, it is not sad, I might have salvaged it, if the mules had not nabbed it out of the shop and tossed it around as a play toy. When mules finish playing with something, its, well, finished.)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Robins and an "A" for the six weeks?

In junior high, our science teacher* promised to give an "A" for the entire 6 weeks to the first student who brought in a photograph of the first Robin of that spring.
I wanted that A, I wanted it bad, but dang, I did not have a camera, and our family lived in the woods.
Robins are birds that don't generally hang out in the woods, they hang out in fields and lawns, where they can pick worms and grubs out of the grassy ground. Turns out, I got an A, anyway, without the photo, but I wanted to "win" something.
Today, a flock of Robins descended upon the lawn, I not only photographed them, but video-ed them, even though they are as common as, well, Robins..but I still was after that old free do I get the A?

*(Oh! I remeber his name now, even though that was way back in the 60's, in Saline, Michigan, it was Mr. O'Leary,and his firm, but enthusiastic teaching is probably partially responsible for my passion for science, thankyou, Mr O'Leary!)

Sunday, February 4, 2007

birds and tripods and camera gear.

so I was thinking their must be some sort of ball and socket head for a tripod..duh, shows I don't know much about photography or hang out in camera stores or have ever even poured over photography equipment catalouges as I am incredibly niave in this area. I think I have avoided these activities as if they were a potential pool of money sucking quicksand.
I just like to take pictures, and have tried to leave it at that, and that makes me less than an amateur, I guess, or I would already have lust in my heart for the array of gadgets available....and yes there are all kinds of ball heads for tripods, in every size and price range imaginable.
Instead of desire being fueled by the object itself, it is interesting to have legitimate need of something first, imagine what would work best to fill that need, and then find out that yes, they make exactly that thing, just as you had imagined it, only better.
so, it can go on my fantasy list. A ball head for a monopod, so that I can better stablize the camera when I am shooting birds.

Friday, February 2, 2007

ground hogs day

is a great holiday and not just because it is my birthday, but because it falls exactly between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, that is auspicious, indeed.
It is also one of those spontaneous universal mythology stories..almost every culture has some sort of critter checking on something for this astronomically important day.
For my birthday, I got snow in the holler!!' not a tracking snow, but a fluffy, bird feather scattering snow.

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