Saturday, April 30, 2005

Rode hard and put away wet

As I struggled all day yesterday with focus, I thought, "Well I missed sleep last night worrying, but at least I'll sleep good tonight."

Last night I woke up at 2 a.m., worried about beavers.

This is not like me at all.

It turned out to be a good thing I suppose, since I was awake at 3:30 to hear the distant tornado sirens.

(Not an actual picture of the storm.)

We spent half the night in the shop, watching tv reception fade in and out.

I don't think that fitful sleep with your clothes on adds up to much in the world of make-up sleep.

(Beavers are causing what I suspect is going to be a very expensive problem. More on this later.)

Friday, April 29, 2005


I woke up cold at 4 a.m.

The cover was at the foot of the bed, and on my way back down I made the mistake of thinking about chickens.

Last night another hen was missing, this time a Buff Orpington.

I started thinking about the phrase cooped up, and wondered how hot they'd get if I just left them in there all day.

My sinus headache and I kept silent vigil until the alarm went off at 5:20.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I tried to snap a few pictures of our baby chick the other day, but because the mother hen had become so protective I only managed Bigfoot quality:

I thought about posting it and making a joke about Bigfoot, but decided to wait and try for a good photo when I had a spare minute.

But last night when I went to close up the chicken coop, the mama was on the roost instead of on the floor with her baby. Two of the hens were missing as well.

Have I mentioned the coyotes? This time last year they took several of our poultry, but those were the pre-Jasmine days. I thought she was keeping them at bay. Even back then we never lost three in one day.

I guess I am not going to make a very good homesteader woman if I keep crying over missing chickens.

As I was having my coffee this morning and wondering if I might be too sad to even write about this, my husband called and said to turn on the radio. "NPR has a story about the Ivory-billed woodpecker! They've seen one!"

"Oh yeah," I thought, "another Bigfoot story." Over the past few years NPR's Radio Expeditions has aired several stories about the hunt for Ivory bills.

In my heart I figured that hunting for Bigfoot might actually be more productive.

Ivory-billed woodpeckers are the reason that I know what the word extirpated means: used to be here, now it isn't. Gone because the trees are gone. Yeah there are still trees, but not their kind of tree. Not the big trees in the big swamps, because they weren't making anybody any money.

But the Nature Conservancy believes in wild places and buys them up. Can't talk landowners into conserving? Pool money and buy them out. Brilliant. Everybody wins. The discovery of the Ivory Bill was kept secret for over a year, to give time to protect the bird's habitat.

They may have managed to save Bigfoot after all.

Bird nerds, fall to your knees and weep. Published today in the journal Science: In central Arkansas, they found one.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I'm headed over to donate online to the Nature Conservancy right now.

Please consider doing the same.

Here's a New York Times article about it.
(Thanks Charles.)

It shouldn't require a login but if so you can grab one from BugMeNot if you don't have or want one.

Updated again:
Link to Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, which has more info.

Yes I'm a bird nerd, but I have no desire to run out and try to see this bird... I'm just happy to know that it's there!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Magic City Art Connection

What I bought at the art show that I said I wasn't going to attend.

I loved all their large pieces, but this is the one that I could afford. Their website is Studio A Pottery but there's not much there yet.

You might guess that I have a little handmade-mug collection going on.

For the wooden spoons, by the same guy who made the second mug above. The most inexpensive pottery that I've seen in ages. No web site but if you fall in love with this I can send his phone number.

This print is among the things I might have bought if we were not short on discretionary funds (and even shorter on space for more art).

And something from Works of Man. I love this style of jewelry. There was a beautiful necklace with a sun's rays (not on his site unfortunately) that was really speaking to me. I wanted to converse, but the artist had customers, my pockets were empty, and hubby was tired and itchy to head home.

This is a fun show to visit - it's fine art and fine craft so of course no workaday soapmakers like me (sob sob). But for artistes it's good show and (apparently) good dough - they come from near and far. Our pottery above is from Minnesota and North Carolina.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Where I walk

One of the farm roads.

The perfect combination of rain, early warm weather, and no late frosts has made for a wonderful wildflowery spring.

I've never seen crossvine in such profusion.

An explosion of ginger.

An embarrassment of foamflower.

Unfortunately the poison ivy is doing very well also.

Maybe it's time to mow.

Summer is hard on the heels of spring. Wood Thrushes are playing their flutes. We've seen lightning bugs!

Monday, April 25, 2005

The visitor

Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina).

The whole of it.

Jasmine really thought she should be involved.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Chicken and Couscous Salad

One of my resolutions for 2005 is to cook more from Cooking Light magazine.

Earlier this month, Marsha over at Hot Water Bath wrote about her "rigorous aesthetic," which reminded me that I need to be more rigorous with my resolutions.

I was hungry and only took one photo. The picture didn't turn out quite as well as the meal did.

Sometimes I cook like this and sometimes my aesthetic isn't quite so rigorous. And sometimes I manage to trick my husband into cooking.

The Chicken and Couscous Salad is wonderful, and somehow manages to be light and filling at the same time.

The wonderful people at Cooking Light gave me permission to share the recipe. After clicking here, enter the code word "cheesecake" in the newstand buyers' section. You'll be able to read the salad recipe, as well as have access to the whole web site through the first of June.

Thanks Cooking Light! I love it when great products turn out to be made by nice people.

I've never made anything from Cooking Light that I disliked. I should probably qualify that to add "when I follow the directions".

The other salad in the picture is Garden Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Friday, April 22, 2005

Fungi forms

Fungus: any of a major group of saprophytic and parasitic spore-producing organisms usually classified as plants that lack chlorophyll (molds, rusts, mildews, smuts, mushrooms, and yeasts).*

Lichen: any of numerous complex thallophytic plants made up of an alga and a fungus growing in symbiotic association on a solid surface.

*Edited to add:
Dave from Via Negativa writes:
"... I would quarrel with "usually classified as plants" - I think most taxonomists now assign molds and fungi to their own kingdom. Lichens can be partnerships either with green algae (Plant Kingdom) or blue-green algae (Monera)."

Thanks Dave! I borrowed that from ol' Webster, who is clearly as behind on taxonomic updates as I am.

Dave also identifies the first shelf fungus below as Turkey Tail.
*End of edit

A Cup fungus

Witch's butter (Tremella mesenterica, a jelly fungus)

Thus ends my knowledge of fungus names. I love all the different shapes though.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pet projects

"You never show Beaker on your blog," my sister complained.

Yes I do.

And Geckie too.

You can read more about Beaker, including a list of the things he says, here.

I had to give him his own web page since he flirted with so many soap customers on the phone. ("That's not me asking for a kiss, it's the bird. Really. He's on the web site.")

The picture is not exactly tack sharp, sorry. I only had lamp light... the flash would've been too close (not to mention too scary for him).

I probably should never have let him develop the habit of wanting to tear up tissues. Now that it's allergy season he's in budgie heaven. You can't blow your nose in peace.

When trying to name the leopard gecko, we started laughing about the method our young niece uses to name her pets: Hermie the hermit crab, Turtie the turtle, Hammy the hamster, and so forth. And somehow "Geckie" just stuck.

Geckos shed their skin every month or so. They usually eat the entire thing, although from time to time we find an eerie ghost foot in the tank.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Greening up

The happy little creek is greening up.

Walking around the ponds last week I had a possible encounter with a Bay-breasted warbler.

He hid among the crowd of new leaves, and wouldn't stay put long enough to be sure.

I have a strange track record with this species - I usually only see one per year. Hope that wasn't it.

This week the weather systems in the southeast are good for migrating birds, but bad for bird watchers. That's the way it goes.

Nowdays they can track some bird migrations with radar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Proof that chickens are crazy

Chickens can be particular about where they lay their eggs.

The first nest boxes we tried were stackable platic crates with holes in the sides.

The chickens hated them. Wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.

We heard that a cat litter box with a top worked well, and they do love that. But they are neither cheap nor stackable. Well, one is cheap. Six or eight are not.

So my husband installed a 6-holer that he built from scrap wood.

They use it grudgingly. Their two favorite spots are still a) between the 6-holer and the wall on the right, and b) the cat litter box.

The 6-holer has a preferred seating arrangement. Bottom row is best overall, and first choice is always bottom right. (We placed golf balls in all the nest spots, to convince them that it's ok to lay an egg there, but most days they're not buying it.)

1: Lakenvelder arrives to find all the good nest boxes already taken.

2: I like your spot so much better than mine.

3: Lakenvelder leaves? No. Look closely at the bottom right. A Buff Orpington is already in the plum spot, but that does not deter Ms. Lakenvelder. She decides to lay her egg ON TOP OF the other chicken.

4: Oh wait, maybe it's better over there.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bloomin' Festival

I made one too many jokes about being at the right hand of Jesus.

We got moved to a new space. Under a nice magnolia, but not where I'd told everyone we'd be. I thought it was a punishment, but it turned out that lots of other people were in new spaces too.

The weather was perfect. The monks didn't look like they were sweltering as much as usual.

There was a lot of cool stuff, but I managed to not spend more than we made.

It was a show that allowed dogs.

The people selling dog hats were happy about that.

We sold out of several scents, so now I've got to make soap like crazy.

Nice place for a craft show.

I took several pictures of the statue of Jesus. It was a little disconcerting to answer "yes" to the computer's "Are you sure you want to send 'Jesus' to the recycle bin?"

Friday, April 15, 2005

Musical message

A Little Less Conversation (Elvis Presley):
Come on, come on, don’t procrastinate...
Girl it’s getting late

Taxman (George Harrison):
Be thankful I don't take it all

Fly Like An Eagle (The Steve Miller Band):
Time keeps on slipping (slipping slipping) into the future

Whistle While You Work (The Seven Dwarves):
When there's too much to do, don't let it bother you

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Yesterday afternoon the Cedar Waxwings kept calling me, but I had to stay inside because the taxes weren't finished.


Four Tao philosophers as cedar waxwings
chat on a February berry bush
in sun, and I am one.

Such merriment and such sobriety--
the small wild fruit on the tall stalk--
was this not always my true style?

Above an elegance of snow, beneath
a silk-blue sky a brotherhood of four
birds. Can you mistake us?

To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together--for this I have abandoned
all my other lives.

-Robert Francis

The picture is from last year. Thanks to Jenni for telling me about this poem. It says so much about waxwings that is true.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Flower walking again

Dogwood. In the south, a tree traditionally connected with Easter - but since Easter was so early this year, it wasn't blooming then.

You fiddlehead! Fern unfurling.

Spiderwort. I've read that the stamens are very sensitive to radiation - they turn from blue/purple to pink.

Ground Cedar. A type of club moss. I transplanted this onto our property last week. I tried to match its original environment, but chances are not good that it will live - it's notoriously picky. But since it's from a wildflower rescue (dug where a subdivision is going up), it doesn't hurt to try. If you are local and want information about the Blount County (Alabama) wildflower society, email me: blog (at) naturalimpulse (dot) com.

Fire Pink. Speckled with pollen. It's called a "pink" because of the pinked edges of the flowers (as though they were cut with pinking shears).

Wood anemone.

The gall! This reminds me of "The Elephant Man".

I'm in a bit of a hurry today, so will have to come back and edit later with the latin names.