Monday, December 31, 2007

Change of Seasons

This is what we like to see on the last day of the calendar year. We're twelve days into winter, the most contemplative season of the year. Something about the sensory deprivation of the black and white scene is actually very stimulating to that contemplation. Maggy and I have decorated our holiday tree in black and white the past few years. [You can imagine how hard it is to find black decorations.]

Sounds and Spirit's Sunday program, Cycles, was a beautiful tribute to changing seasons - particularly winter, and including a section honoring crones - wise women over 50. That's me.

Thanks's to Bill and Belinda's advice I'm in the process of downloading it. Yesterday I tolerated the two hour download of an upgrade to my Real Player. Now I'm downloading the show. It seems to be able to download 30 seconds of the show every two minutes. It's an hour long show. Do the math. Maybe I'll go get ready for work.

Yep. I'm going to work in an office today. It's the first day of my new job as Dryden Town Supervisor. And I'm excited.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday in Progress

I'm so happy to have Maggy home for the entire week. There's no better way to celebrate the end of the year and beginning of a new year. Part of our celebration is an extraordinary gift exchange.

Apparently we each buy about six gifts for each other. Nothing extravagant. There's usually potholders or dish towels for Momma, socks for Uncle Bill, paperback books for everyone. But it makes a festive display on Christmas Eve and a delightful mess Christmas morning. In a tiny tribute to environmental awareness, most of our wrapping paper is plain white kraft paper and the ribbons are real fabric ribbons that are reused so often they're acquiring that "remember when" quality.

At the town staff lunch Monday we were talking about the best/worst gift ever received. At the time I couldn't think of anything in the "bad" much less "worst" category. But this one might seriously take the prize. Bill gave me a radio controlled rat. Keep in mind that Bill and I have known each other for about thirty-five years. He always gives me some kind of toy. This one is meant as a new game for the cats. And they do seem intrigued.

We topped off the day with a wonderful dinner including roast beast, potatoes, extravagant out-of-season asparagus, salad and incredible lemon meringue pie and chocolate pecan pie. We're fortunate indeed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deer Damage

More and more often lately, as I run outside in my stocking feet to chase deer away from the Rhododendrons, Holly, fruit trees or even the bird feeders, I think I should try hunting shooting again. I really wouldn't have to hunt. It's more like shooting fish in a barrel around here. But it's been a long time since I shot a gun and I'm not sure I can actually hit anything any more. The sound alone would deter the deer for a few days. But eventually I'd actually have to kill one to convince them I'm serious.

David says he's going to take up hunting in 2008 and quotes the New York Times on the impact of deer overpopulation on landscaping and such. Frustrated as I am by the damage to my shrubs, I'm more concerned about the impact of deer on the forest ecology. Years ago I thought I'd like to have a hemlock in my yard. So, I set out to find one in the woods to transplant. When I couldn't find one taller than a foot but less than five feet, I began to realize the impact the deer were having on forest regeneration.

From Cornell Department of Natural Resources:

Research is showing that white tailed deer populations of more than 14 deer per square mile can have a harmful impact on forest health. Many areas of New York have 16 to 40 deer per square mile. This impact is commonly seen in the lack of diverse seedlings and young trees in many forests. If your forest has an open understory, chances are it is actually in a path of decline, rather than vigorous health.

I don't know how wide their range is, but when I see eight at once in my yard, I'm guessing there are more than 16 per square mile.

Deer damage cannot be repaired easily. All forest owners should prevent and reduce deer damage to maple, ash, hickory, walnut, oak, and other seedlings. Deer have a lower preference for some species, like beech and black cherry. This means that over time, the composition of tree species in forests may shift to just a few different kinds of trees, rather than the natural diversity that existed before deer became overpopulated in New York in the last 30 years.

This confirms my observations. Beech and black cherry saplings abound. Even White Ash is doing fine, except for the "ash dieback" and the threat of the ash borer. But maple, hickory, walnut, oak and hemlock just don't have replacement seedling coming along. I should probably stop trying to protect my ornamental shrubs and devote the time to protecting some saplings in the woods.

The impact of the loss of the understory affects habitat of small mammals and some songbirds. Not to mention that the deer can easily decimate wildflowers such as Trillium and Mayflowers. I don't recall when I developed this non-anthropocentric viewpoint. But the health of the ecosystem is more important to me than the fact that I have to fence my fruit trees for protection and drive 40 mph or less on the way home to avoid hitting deer.

The problem is too many people, not enough wolves. I don't think the neighbors will let me have wolves. In fact, I don't have enough space to induce wolves to stay even if the neighbors cooperate. So, we have to be the wolves.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


This is my new best gadget friend. Bill gets little prizes from a number of organizations he donates to. He usually passes them on to me. And I usually pass them on to the Salvation Army store.

But for some reason I was inspired to try this little flashlight that clips on the bill of my hat. (Yep. That camo hat is my new best wardrobe accessory.) The little flashlight is GREAT! I can go down to the cellar to flip a circuit breaker without groping for the cellar light. I can walk out to the chicken coop before sunrise with a water bucket in one hand and kitchen scraps in the other. I guess I could even use it to read in bed if I were inclined to go to bed with a hat on.

I was using it yesterday as I was repairing a lamp socket. You know, if you've turned off the electricity to the lamp, it's hard to get enough light to see what you're doing and you certainly don't have a free hand for a flashlight. It worked like a charm. I heartily recommend it for anyone whose eyes are as old as mine.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blogs I Like

Blogs I like have ...

...fairly short posts most days. I don't have a lot of time in the morning. If I'm going to visit a dozen or so folks, their posts have to be reasonably concise. Sure, we all need to say something longer once in a while. But on a daily basis I don't have time for sermons.

...and links. This is the truly magical difference between blogs and print media. To make the post short enough to catch my attention, yet maintain the all-important detail, I need links.

But not just links. I have a slow, dial-up connection and I'm not going to invest the time in clicking a link if I don't have a clue that it's leading to something I care about. Give me a sentence or two describing what's interesting about the link.

Considering all that, my new best blog friend is Mental Multivitamin. For one thing, her logo is irresistible.

And I like the "On the Nightstand" feature. Here's mine.

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

Timothy, or Notes of an Abject Reptile, Verlyn Klinkenborg

The Canon, Natalie Angier

Assault on Reason, Al Gore

Like M-MV, I often resolve not to go to the library or buy more books 'til I catch up on the stack on the nightstand. But I never can keep the resolution.

Like me, M-MV is a mother, pianist, birder, photographer, seeker of truth and much, much more.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Leendalu may be right that every blog should have a poet laureate. That sounds like a huge commitment. I can probably only manage "the poet I'm enjoying most at the moment." At this moment it is Joy Harjo, featured last night on The Newshour.

First let me say a word about a news program that features poetry regularly. Cool! I've long since given up TV network news. For spoken information about the outside world, I rely on CSPAN, The Newshour, Public Radio. I also read quite a bit: magazines, books and internet articles. But reading is different. I'm inclined to skip over topics that don't seem appealing at the moment. TV and radio encourage me to listen to things I didn't expect to be interesting but often are - like poetry.

Anyway, in case you're reluctant to click over to Joy Harjo's page, here's one of the poems that caught my attention (pasted here, unabashedly without permission, from the PBS Poetry Series page.)

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you. And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear,
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Maggy sent me a link to the New York Times article The Chicken and Rice Man. As she said, "this story actually brought tears to my eyes - it's so nice to read about people who do good things just because."

Jorge Muñoz, who makes $600 a week as a school bus driver, provides a hot meal every night at 9:30 to dozens of hungry, usually homeless, men. He started three years ago delivering eight brown bag snacks of fruit and cookies three times a week. Word spread among the men who needed meals and Jorge's friends who could donate food. Jorge and his mother began making hot meals from the donated food. And so it goes.

What I like about this story is that Jorge didn't start by thinking about how to pay for it, or how to solicit donations or investing in a commercial kitchen. He just started making meals. What I fear is that the NYT publicity will make the whole thing fall apart.