Monday, October 29, 2007


Here's how it looks outside this morning. The thermometer on the tree at the left says 30 degrees.

Here's how it looks in the kitchen. The porch plants came in. The cats are confused. Murphy and Jake can't see each other well enough to fight through the glass door.

It's a good thing I won't need to use the kitchen much this week. I imagine it will be a while before the plants each find their way to their places around the house. They all need pruning and fertilizing. Many of them need repotting. Sigh.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Remember my baby chicks? Here they are as grown ups. I bought pullet (female) chicks. But I'm always happy when it turns out that one is male. I wonder why they don't sell a package like that. Some of us would be willing to pay extra for it.

This rooster is substantially larger than the wicked old rooster. I'm seriously hoping he throws his weight around. I let my guard down for a second yesterday and the wicked old rooster BIT me! Actually broke the skin!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Planet in Peril

I was surprised last night by the quality of CNN's special Planet in Peril. The segment I watched focused on species loss. It went beyond the usual statement that we're losing species at an alarming rate and explained why it matters. Using wolves in Yellowstone as an example, the narrative and excellent photography showed the effects of the absence of wolves in that ecosystem, the resulting overpopulation of elk, the effect of the elk overgrazing, the loss of habitat for birds and small mammals at so on. Wolves have been successfully reintroduced into Yellowstone park and there is strong evidence of the area's return to balance.

I'm looking forward to seeing the three issues Planet in Peril addresses in addition to species loss: global warming, deforestation and overpopulation. Species loss is deeply affected by global warming and deforestation, both of which are affected by overpopulation. We've seen what happens to other species when overpopulation peaks. The death rate in the overpopulated species rises as a result of food shortage and disease (or increased predator population.) Usually the population declines until balance is restored. But sometimes, the habitat is so damaged by the overpopulation that the species does not recover in that area. Which scenario do we think will apply to human overpopulation? Are we prepared to deal with either one?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


In response to my wordcoud, Leendalu asked me what hobbies I enjoy. I realized I don't talk about hobbies enough and readers may have gotten the impression that it's all cats all the time.

My gardens claim most of my hobby time in the summer. Growing flowers is good for my soul and growing vegetables is moving me closer and closer to self-sufficiency. I save seeds and come the apocalypse I fully expect to be able to feed myself. And just myself, so don't ya'all come lookin' for help. Unless you have a cow to share.

Did I mention that I collect coins? I like the look and feel of cold hard cash. I've managed to remain debt free all my life (except for a year after college when I owed my mother $2,000 for my new car. Yep. In those days you could buy a cute little Ford Pinto right off the showroom floor for $2,000. And gas was 29 cents a gallon. Can you believe how old I must be?) Anyway, I'm sure you know that in the event of an economic collapse credit cards, bank accounts, even paper money will be of little value. Those penny jars will be more important than you realize.

I don't have sheep these days, but I have quite a store of wool from the days when I did. I spin yarn on a lovely fairy tale spinning wheel. And weave beautiful blankets and clothing on my handloom. We'll be well-clothed as well as well-fed. We may produce a surplus and I'll consider bartering. Especially if you have sheep... or silkworms... or maybe rayon.

I don't really count handling firewood as a hobby, but as exercise I've got to say, it beats running or weight lifting. Oh, wait. It is weight lifting of a sort. The point is that as oil prices climb, we'll be okay. I have oil lamps and beeswax and plans to build an ice-house so when the powergrid fails we'll be looking for someone to trade with for tallow candles. Or perhaps solar rechargeable batteries will be improved by then.

Lest you think all my hobbies reflect a fear of the future, let me hasten to say I have no fear - just caution. Chance favors the prepared mind. And I replenish my inner strength with artistic hobbies. I paint, embroider and read and sometimes recite poetry for the sheer beauty. I have a book of poetry for two voices that I'd love to share.

I have to say, over-all, it's a good life.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pop Culture

The Barnes and Noble website has a whole new look including a search term cloud. It's a good reflection of pop culture and I'm happy to see that I have some connection to many of the terms. It's nice to see Al Gore, Alan Greenspan, Bruce Springsteen, Doris Lessing. Seeing Bible, Bob Dylan and Britney Spears on the same line is a bit of a jolt.

I love wordclouds. When I discovered them last year I wrote that they're like brain screenshots.

I'm not surprised at this depiction of Five Wells. This is a personal blog, so what's conspicuously absent is Campaign, Campaign, Campaign, Campaign, Campaign. Did I mention I'm running for Town Supervisor? And it's spilling over into my personal world.

But this blog reflects all the other things that loom large in my life: garden, honey, Maggy, time, zucchini, tomatoes, Charlie, bees. It's harvest time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

And I know it's Friday 'cause every morning Murphy makes me clear the top of my desk for him. Yep. There he is, sleeping on my desk calendar. You just know when he wakes up he's gonna stretch and push that little pile behind him off the desk onto the floor.

And Tang... You know how Tang likes boxes and bags. Last week I bought a pair of pants and left them in the shopping bag 'cause they need to be shortened. I left the bag on the counter in the studio next to the sewing machine. Good thing the pants are wrapped in tissue paper.

If this were hide and seek, Murphy would be winning.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sorrow for the dead...

October 4, 1996 was a beautiful fall Friday, much like yesterday. At the high school, concern grew as administrators, coaches and teammates were unable to contact two cheerleaders who had not arrived on time for school. It sounds trivial in retrospect, but if you don't go to school, you're not eligible to cheer at that night's game. The Dryden community waited in horror as police investigation over the next few days revealed the the grisly attack and murder of these two beautiful girls.

At that time, my daughter was a cheerleader and my son was captain of the football team. Those days had a profound effect on our lives as they did on the entire community. Maggy's in New York now. So she asked me to honor the memory of her friends this year.

It's impossible to describe how vivid the memory of those days is.

I walked up the hill a bit to my parents graves and recalled this essay by Washington Irving.
"The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal- every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open- this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude...

...Ay, go to the grave of buried love, and meditate! Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender, yet futile tributes of regret; but
take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties
to the living."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Animal Meme

Like Dan, I often ignore memes. But I found myself clicking to page two of his story about his cat Nicky. Good thing I did 'cause at the end of his story I found I was one of the ten people he tagged. This one sounds like enough fun to take a shot at. The idea is to answer the following questions.
  1. An interesting animal I had
  2. An interesting animal I ate
  3. An interesting animal in the Museum
  4. An interesting thing I did with or to an animal
  5. An interesting animal in its natural habitat

1. They're all interesting. But first place is a toss-up between the Coturnix japonica who always made me laugh with his sneeze-like crow and the painted turtle who had lost a leg in some earlier tragedy. He thumped around the house and always showed up in the kitchen at suppertime, usually with a dust bunny on his nose, to stare at me like a puppy 'til he got fed.

2. Well, I didn't eat the whole thing, but at the best Chinese restaurant in town I once ordered Duck Webs. Apparently you can put enough sauce and MSG on anything and make it edible. Oh, wait! I just remembered the platter of delicacies my Greek friend ordered on my birthday. After we'd eaten about half of it I asked what it was. She said, "The head of a cow." I thought that might be some sort of mistranslated idiom. But, no. It was every soft part of the head of the cow: tongue, cheek, brains and, my personal favorite, eyeballs.

3. It's been a while since I've been to a museum. But at the Paleontological Research Institute, there's a painting of a Mastodon overlooking Cayuga Lake. My friend Bill painted it when he was a student in the 1950s. He went up to where Ithaca College now stands for a view of the lake. For the painting he raised the water level considerably to reflect how it looked when there were Mastodons here.

4. You know how people ask you to water their plants while they're away? My best friend in grad school asked me to feed her spiders over Christmas vacation. Yeah. Jumping spiders - her lab animals. Dozens, maybe hundreds of Phidipus audax each in its own test tube. The big ones had to get a house fly and the little ones four fruit flies - all alive, of course. I could slow the flies down with a little CO2. But it was tricky to get the test tube opened and drop in the flies before the spider jumped out.

5. Again, they're all interesting. But when I find them on the dill in the garden, I can never resist bringing Swallowtail butterfly larva into the house to watch. All lime green and lemon yellow with black stripes. They're really beautiful.

Now the hard part: to tag other people who will have stories to tell about interesting animals.

  1. Wit's End
  2. Ellis Hollow
  3. Maggy
  4. Natural History Artworks