Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hot Chickens

When chickens are hot, they breathe through their mouths.

I started playing with the effects on the photo program.

Hot waxed chicken.

Solarized hot wax chicken.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Our dog the celebrity

Jasmine is rarely nippy... so when we tried to check her injured foot and she objected, we took her to the vet.

Despite planning to do so, we never got around to taking her on any "going someplace fun" rides. So now she sees them all (rightfully) as "going to the vet" rides, which she was quick to figure out that she dislikes.

The vets' office was overstuffed with people worried that they'd better get something looked at before the long holiday weekend. Other than the horse and a nervous German Shepherd, none of them looked like the two-person job that getting Jasmine to the vet has become.

In a room full of cats and lap dogs, a Great Pyrenees is a celebrity. I think she knew it, too.

When it was finally our turn to muscle her onto the scale, people oohed and ahhed at her 100 pounds. A young boy was properly impressed: "Wow! What kind of dog is that?!"

I was tempted to say, "The kind that likes to run through mud and tall grass and get things stuck in her foot."

It was a long grass seed that had gotten embedded and then a little infected. She got a "take a nap" shot (that she bore quite bravely thank you). The foot was clipped and prodded and balmed, and I was able to brush some mats out of her coat while she was in no position to object.

She woke up slowly, a little scared and unsure. Then she played me like a fiddle, lying on the cool floor pretending that her back legs still wouldn't function. My "poor baby" was apparently just enjoying the air conditioning. Hmmph.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Stop shouting those animoles

Mira and Turtleheart I owe you one.

1. Total number of films I own on DVD/video:
Free, free, set them free

2. The last film I bought:
hook line and sinker

3. The last film I watched:

4. Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me:
eye candy
meaningful story
heartwrenching allegory
understated avant-garde comedy

Deja vu, all over again, only with music.

1. Total volume of music files on my computer:
area times depth

2. Last CD I bought was:
indy Canadian

3. Song playing right now:
soundtrack from the movie of my life

4. Five Songs I Listen to a lot, or That Mean a lot to Me:
by nice southern boys
by Canadian alt-country group
by US-based Dylan-influenced British pop-folky
by UK-based Dylan-influenced british pop-folky
by various people named John

same end for both:

5. Tag 5 people and have them put this in their journal/blog:
A dermatologist has removed the tags, for now. I am converting this one to a true meme, which means that you only copy it if you want to.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Chicken chronicles

The hens have decided to shun their handmade nesting boxes. The only place to lay an egg is in the kitty litter box. It's where all the best chickens go, you know.

I've decided to publish some overly grainy (a.k.a. Enquirer-quality) photographs, since the public deserves to know the full story.

Your reporter arrived late to the scene.
A Leghorn was already in the box, when interlopers appeared.

Ms. Lakenvelder scoops Ms. Dominique.
A recycling flash prevented blow by blow photographic evidence, but proof is visible in the tell-tale tail.

Room for one more?

Why not.
Ms. Lakenvelder's twin sister also arrives on the scene,

and is joined by Ms. Americauna.

No room at the enclosed kitty litter box.
Forced to wait in line.
Nothing to prevent a chorus of vociferous sqawking the whole time though.

The chicken version of "how many people can you cram in a phone booth"?
This week's answer: three.

You're kind of in my way.

Me me meme

Trix at Whippoorwill has tagged me for a meme.

When I first started reading blogs, it took me forever to figure out what a meme was. It's kind of like a blog virus, only a voluntary one. Someone has an idea and then other people copy it for their blogs. The most famous is the "100 things about me" lists that you see on lots of blogs. (I haven't done one, mainly because I would find it difficult to stop at 100. I'm thinking of starting a "100 things about me before the age of 5" meme for egotistical blabbermouths like myself. Feel free to run away screaming at any time.)

Anyway, recently someone decided that people weren't paying enough attention to their memes I guess, and memes became more like chain letters. You get "tagged" or "handed a stick" or something similar. I generally defy chain letters on general principle. But if chain letters were about books...?

Smartypants version:

1. Total # of Books I’ve Owned:
They have owned me instead

2. Last Book I Bought:
on a whim

3. Last Book I Read:
in bed

4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
a b c d e

At heart I am truly a smartypants.

My more conventional (boring) answers:

1. Total # of Books I’ve Owned:
Before we moved, we ran out of room for bookcases at 11 and started piling books on the floor. We've since downsized and used the library more.

2. Last Book I Bought:
Two from Lee May, after hearing him speak. In the interest of space-saving I'm trying to use the library. Unless I have a chance to buy directly from the author. Or it's something I really want. I will probably buy John Wesley Harding's book Misfortune too.

3. Last Book I Read:
Still haven't finished both of May's, because it has taken me so long to get an eye exam appt and then to order new glasses. My eyes had reached the limit of my arm's reach, it was hard to find someone to turn pages for me in the next room, and I'm a terrible procrastinator when it comes to doctor's visits.

4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
Too hard. Field guides and poetry and art and literature and language and neurology and everything else. I listed some of my favorite authors and a few books in the blogger profile if you're really interested. It has everything except my favorite color (blue).

Since I ducked out of this question I will quote my favorite book passage for you though. It's from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Chapter 3 to be precise, "The Night Shadows".

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!

That is my favorite part. I think about it all the time, especially while driving at night. The rest of the paragraph is good too:

Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read it all. No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page. It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore. My friend is dead, my neighbour is dead, my love, the darling of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality, and which I shall carry in mine to my life's end. In any of the burial-places of this city through which I pass, is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to me, or than I am to them?

5. Tag Five People with this list.
Charles, because he needs something to write about, and I stole the smartypants style from him anyway.
Jenni, because she sent me a book meme before
Rhodent, because she has proven her willingness to go along with memes
Jenny, because we've talked about books before, and
Maikopunk, because her blog has "book" in the title, and if that's not asking for it I don't know what is.

Anyone on the list, please feel free to ignore it, you won't hurt my feelings. I'll assume that you're fed up with memes. (Jenny peut avoir ras-le-bol avec ces memes.) Anyone not on the list, no you are not chopped liver. I almost put you on it, really. Please go ahead and participate anyway if the spirit moves you.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I'll second that

This is not awesome.

First Ken Jennings comes in second in the Jeopardy "Ultimate Tournament of Champions," then local boy Bo Bice comes in second on American Idol.

The winners were good, but...

I was prepared to be crowing today about Alabama's second AI winner (both Bo and Ruben Studdard are from the Birmingham area).

Still proud of him of course. People I know, who know people who know him, say he's very nice.

But boo hoo. Bo hoo. Dagnabbit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Damsels & Dragons

Basically, dragonflies rest with their wings open, and damselflies rest with their wings closed. (Unless they're spread-winged damselflies, in which case the wings are partially open.)

Male Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata).

Immature male White-tailed Skimmer (Plathemis lydia).

His close-up.

Thanks BugGuide.net and Gloria Mundi Press for the ID help.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


My husband had an appointment yesterday to record a testamonial for WBHM, Birmingham's NPR station.

I tagged along because, you know, blog fodder.

If you're a local public radio listener you may soon be treated to the dulcet tones that are the basso profundo of my dear husband.

He mostly talked about NPR's news shows (Morning Edition and All Things Considered), WBHM's excellent local arts and culture show Tapestry, and the Ivory Billed Woodpecker Radio Expeditions story that I wrote about earlier.

With luck they'll find something useful between the parts with the chair squeaking, him leaning away from the microphone, or me butting in to tell him what to say. (Sorry, dear.)

My husband (left) with Michael Krall, WBHM's Program Director. Both are infinitely more handsome than they appear in this poor photo.

For the record, I am addicted to all the shows mentioned above plus:
To the Best of Our Knowledge
This American Life
Fresh Air

It's hard to say which is my favorite - I like them all. Click the above links to listen to them on the internet, or here to see WBHM's program schedule. (NPR's full list of programs is here.)

You can E-pledge to WBHM right now. We always do.

Dang, I forgot to ask where Steve Chiotakis sits.

In the interest of full disclosure: I have photoshopped two annoying glares out of the second picture above. Wish I could fix the harsh shadows too. I don't take many indoor shots and here you can see why. The built-in flash on my camera is somewhat lacking. Also, I tend to use "photoshop" as a verb even though I use a different editing program. And, since my husband won't sing to me, I don't really know that he's a basso profundo, but his voice is rather low. Finally, he may or may not actually have dulcet tones. I'm a little biased.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Primrose path

Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

Some are white, and apparently tasty. I just wonder what has a mouth shaped like that.

Edited to add:
Thanks to Ron from Toad in the Hole, who let me know that this was the work of leafcutter bees! A.k.a. Leafcutting bees.

I love the latin name: Megachile sp (don't know which one). Family Megachilidae.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Too many roosters, part 2




1. Buff Orpingtons. We had three roosters, which was two too many for our hens.

2. This is why. The roosters fought, injuring each other and the hens as well. Many of the girls had all the feathers plucked out of their heads and backs. We tried to give away the extra roosters, but could find no takers. So...

3. Chicken and dumplings.

My mother-in-law gave us a recipe: Simmer about 1/3 of the chicken for 2 hours. Take the chicken out to cool and add onion, celery, salt, and pepper to the water. Roll biscuits out flat, cut into strips, and add to the water. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes then add the deboned chicken back in and heat through. (We also added some sage and summer savory.)

Friday, May 20, 2005


Remember the ugly ditch? We needed it cleared so the driveway wouldn't flood, but I hated removing the trees since there were always so many birds there.

Well the birds seem pretty happy about the ditch. In fact they love it.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina).

WHY didn't I have my camera when I saw the Scarlet Tanager?! A male was splashing around as a female watched from a nearby branch. In the past week I've also seen a Bluebird, an Indigo Bunting, a Blue Grosbeak, and a Goldfinch bathing there.

I can't believe I managed to get two bird pictures in one week.

This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) stayed put nicely while I ran inside to get the camera, but his/her mate got tired of waiting. I think they might be nesting somewhere nearby. They love this dead tree.

Edited to add:
Ever since one of the Dharma Bums told me about the Friday Ark, I've been hooked! Click over there to see links to many more animals. Thanks to that site for adding our links too.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rooster antics

Well do you love me (I can really move)
Well do you love me (I'm in the groove)
Ah do you love me (do you love me)
Now that I can dance

With the way you look I understand you were not impressed...

Don't you love me anymore?

(lyrics by Berry Gordy Jr., Elvis Costello, and Albert Hammond & Diane Warren, respectively)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Su Doku

Sorry if it seems a bit like "Rurality Lite" lately. This is the week of 5 million appointments and projects.

Too much going on today so I'm just leaving this link for an addictive puzzle.

It's called Su Doku, which in Japanese means "number place". (Don't worry, you won't have to perform mathmatics.)

The newspaper (The Times from the UK) posts a new puzzle each day, increasing in difficulty as the week progresses.

We got hooked in a hurry. We downloaded the Su Doku program so we could play on the computer too.

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Crouching spider,

Hidden grasshopper.

A female spider with her spiffy egg sac.

Sorry, don't have time to ID the bugs this morning! If anyone knows, please leave a comment or email and I'll add the info. I'm thinking that the last one may be a wolf spider.

Edited to add:
Thanks so much to Thingfish23 who has identified the first "spider" above as, well, not a spider but a Harvestman. (I really should have known that. His body didn't look quite right for a spider.)
Order Opiliones.

The second one's a Northern Green-Striped Grasshopper (Chortophaga viridifasciata), according to this site and this one. (Thanks again Thingfish23.)

Thingfish23 also says that the third image above is of a "nursery web spider" (Pisaurina mira).

Edited again:
Sisu says the third one is a wolf spider.

Get ready for the Battle of the arachnophiles!

If anyone else has an opinion on the identity of the spider in question, please email or leave a comment.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Church people

At a fast food restaurant. A group of churchgoers in their Sunday finest were given their food and ours as well. They realized it but said nothing.

"Think that's what they just learned in church?" my husband asked.

"What's that?"

"Just eat it and shut up."


At the grocery store - the one where, annoyingly, there are no cart corrals. You must walk your cart back to the store (me) or leave it sitting in the middle of the lot so it can damage other people's cars (almost everyone else).

A parking lot evangelist. Quizzing shoppers on their salvation. Wanting to know what church I attend.

How much more highly would I have thought of his church, if he'd offered to return my cart for me instead of scurrying off to the next possible convert?

Friday, May 13, 2005


An agent for Michael Leunig emailed me with new information, so I decided to update this entry. Justin Combs says, "www.leunig.com.au is a tribute site that should in time become Michael’s official site." He also notes that you can see Leunig's artwork at artloft.

Below is the original post, with broken links fixed.


The worst thing about egg-eating snakes is that they are kind of difficult to top.

So today I'm just going to point at some other sites. They all have to do with Michael Leunig, an Australian cartoonist.

I have no idea how I found him originally... just one of those internet things.

His cartoons appear sporadically in the Melbourne newspaper The Age. (Click over to BugMeNot if any of the newspaper links below require registration and you don't have or want your own.)

At this point I would have liked to show you this picture of one of his cartoons, saying "reproduced with the kind permission of...", but I can't. To a huge Australian newspaper I'm an insignificant flea. An insignificant American flea. Oh well. Just click it. It's not titled but I call it Mysterious or Unusual.

Here are some other recent cartoons from The Age:
What has happened to your life?
Banana mules of suburbia

Leunig draws a lot of political cartoons, which you may or may not agree with. I have political views but have decided that Rurality the blog is apolitical so I'm not going to discuss them here.

His "everyday life" cartoons speak to everyone, regardless of politics. Many good ones, including The Guru (a personal favorite), are here on a site that reviews his book The Travelling Leunig. (Edited to remove broken link. You can find The Guru here and others here.)

More cartoons, including my other favorite, The Plodder.

Curly Flat has background info.

The list of his books, at amazon.com.

His artwork. Sadly, Rurality can't invite you up to see its Leunig etchings at this time, since they start at around US$500 and Rurality still has many unmet fencing needs.

Another place that sells his art.

Hope you like Leunig as much as I do.

Edited to add:
One more. This one has lots of Leunig's prayers.

You might guess that I enjoy the one that begins, "We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms, bees, ladybirds and broody hens"!

And also this, if it's not too mushy for a Friday:

God help us to live slowly:
To move simply:
To look softly:
To allow emptiness:
To let the heart create for us.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

You again!

Yesterday morning Jasmine sounded her "Snake! It's a snake!" bark again. This time at least she had the sense to be angry with the non-biting end of the gray rat snake. His mouth was otherwise occupied anyway.

Wayne from Niches asked in previous comments if rat snakes ate eggs. Yes they do.

The blue one he's swallowing is a Mallard egg, which is a bit larger and heavier than a chicken egg.

Pretty amazing.

Tell-tale lump:

While his business end was busy, I sneaked a peek at his belly.

And got a closer look at his scales. I hadn't noticed the slight ridges the other day.

Not too hard to get into the duck pen.

Obviously I need to start removing the duck eggs first thing in the morning. We feed them to the dog so it's not a big loss, I just don't want the snake getting into the habit. If he keeps it up I'm afraid he's going to find the chicken coop.

Of course I'm not really sure if this is the same individual from earlier in the week - not sure how territorial they are. (I tried Googling it but kept coming up with herpetophile Fred from Fragments from Floyd instead.)

We saw another large gray rat snake close to the creek last night. They must be doing well this year.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More wildflowery

Yesterday I spent time with other wildflower nuts in the woods. We plucked a few where there were many, and rescued some from kudzu, Japanese honeysuckle, and men with bulldozers.

I came across this plant that I was not familiar with. I believe it may be a spider lily, Hymenocallis caroliniana.

Saw this guy. Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina.

Saw a couple of groundhog dens in the kudzu but didn't photograph them, as I was in danger of being left behind and it was too sunny anyway.

When we were done we appreciated Dan's beautiful garden.

OK we were just nosy.

Inside a foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) there are secret messages to bumblebees.

An unusual dogwood.

Sweet Williams (Dianthus).


Another Clematis. Most people around here seem to say it with the accent on the first syllable, but to me it sounds better on the second.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Jasmine is the first dog I've had since I was a kid, but it didn't take long to learn that there is a definite difference in her barks. When I first heard her yesterday I thought, "meter reader at the gate". But no, it was more like a "you're new to me but I know you really don't belong here" kind of bark. And not in a cow sort of way.

So I grabbed the camera on the way out.

I saw this guy coiled up on the shop porch and striking at Jasmine, who was acting as if she didn't have the good sense to realize that a snakebite to the nose was really going to hurt.

After I tied her up, the snake relaxed a little, but he still kept a wary eye on me (and vice versa). I think that he's a gray rat snake, Pantherophis obsoleta spiloides. (The old name, Elaphe obsoleta spiloides, was apparently updated just a few years ago. It is more difficult than I would have imagined to ID snakes via the internet, so please correct me if I'm wrong about this.)

At the time I thought he must have just had a meal of several mice, but after examining more of the pictures I'm thinking it may just be his bunched up muscles that give that effect.

I tried to snap a shot when he was scoping me out with his tongue, but none of them turned out too well, and after a while he quit doing it.

His scales were fascinating - here you can see the orange skin underneath them.

I tried to prod him into leaving, but by that time he'd become too relaxed and didn't want to leave. So I picked him up on a long long stick to transport him to the bramble where the rats hang out. He was pretty heavy. About 6 feet long I think. There were a few attempts to wriggle off the stick, but he seemed fairly happy to slither off into the brush once I got him there.