Friday, January 30, 2009

Grammar me this

We have recently acquired a new puppy. I was thinking of naming him Thurber, but his ears are not long enough.

I have always been a big fan of James Thurber; we have so much in common. I am mystified by my fellow man, the more I learn about them, the less I want to know & I almost never realize how ridiculous I sound until the words have already been spoken (or typed). & by then, I don't care.

I enjoy his fables, his unsolicited interpretations of other people's poetry (Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight for those of you who relied on school for your education) & of course his cartoons of dogs & men & women alike. As a child I even enjoyed the tv-show (which I cannot find on Netflix or anywhere else, ditto the movie War Between Men and Women with Jack Lemmon).

But my favorite will always be the self-help book Let Your Mind Alone!. This pretty much sums up my opinion of self helps books. If you are thinking about thinking you are thinking too much. There are so many gems in this book with nothing to do with self-help. Unless surrender is a way of helping yourself, which I suppose it is. & I am pleased that this book is classified as fiction while The Secret is not. I feel certain James Thurber would have enjoyed this too.

While I am confident that some of what Thurber claims happened to him only happened in his head, how is that different from, say any Kitty Kelley biography? Some of what she claims happened to the people she is writing about only happened in her head, after all & at least Thurber is sticking to his own head.

I think Nine Needles should be taught right along with Greek classics, after all it happens in real time (as does Greek theatre) & things snowball out of control very quickly until you are left with a complete breach; I think it is a perfect fit.

For Statistics & Geometry, we could read Pythagoras and The Ladder. For your convenience it is the first chapter of this book. For American History: Something About Polk. For Literature: My Memories of D.H. Lawrence. That one could be History, too, sort of. Even Theater is covered in No Standing Room Only.

Closest to my heart will always be Grammar. I love books on grammar. I truly do. If you have never tried to enjoy a book of grammar, let me recommend Karen Elizabeth Gordon's series, beginning with The Deluxe Transitive Vampire. No, really. I have lost track of how many of these books I have purchased, sometimes with my own money even (I am cheap I admit it). I used to travel with my own copies & often the clients asked me to leave them behind & I did (I charged for this, naturally).

I fell in love with Thurber's writing reading Here Lies Miss Groby. I had the same excitement he did identifying a nuance of a metonymy all on my own. In true Thurberian tradition however I have gotten a bit confused & this particular chapter is not in the book I am recommending. Oh well, I am sure you can find it if you try.

Before I forget, here is the puppy. While he does look hammered, you can see his ears are NOT long enough for him to be named Thurber.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Early buds

After several days of below freezing nights & not-warm days, the more halcyon winter returned & I have been out playing with my new (in December) camera.

Happy Spring Preview!

I used the zoom to get this close-up of our redbud tree (guess how it got its name). Last Friday, it was still something out of an Ansel Adams, all monochrome & stark but by Saturday mid-day these were visible.

Other redbuds in the area have sprung & are covered with blooms, but our tree is only three or so years old & buds only appear on older growth.

Redbuds, black walnut & another tree I cannot remember just now have the reputation for restoring nitrogen. I have no idea if this is true or not.

One of my favorite volunteers is the spiderwort. It grows in clumps throughout the yard. A lot of people dig them or poison them as weeds, but I move mine to other parts of the garden & leave them to thrive.

You can see the grass around this one is quite brown, but the spiderwort is green everywhere. Now that we have had some rain, I will dig up the dozen or so plants through out the front yard & move them under the cedar trees.

They will form large clumps of shade tolerant/sun tolerant, drought tolerant/flood tolerant flowers with variegated leaves.

Can you see the bees? This is just one of the things I love about the chickasaw plum. It will produce small delicious fruit that I confess will mostly be harvested by the local wildlife & we like it that way.

This tree was among the first I planted when we moved to this house. I never had any plans to gather the plums, I just like the small white flowers, the small purple fruit & the bees.

I had thought I would plant more, after seeing how this one did but the local nurseries either do not carry it or cannot keep it in stock. A funny sort of business, but there it is.

It is not a fluke that these early buds are all plants native to this area (yes the plum tree is actually native to east Texas & was brought here by people who migrated east long before Europeans migrated west, but it is native enough for me).

As with all successes in my garden, they thrive on neglect. Or rather, my neglect; Mother Nature gives them what they need.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Whatever happened to Elsa Klensch?

Back when I had a real job, that is a job that required me to be somewhere accountable during ordinary business hours & usually well past them, my only reason for getting out of bed on a Saturday was Style with Else Klensch. Then one Saturday she just was not there anymore. I weakly searched for her but being able to sleep in on Saturdays eventually won out & I have not thought of her from that day to this.

It turns out, Else Klensch has been writing a mystery series. What are the books about? I have no earthly clue. Mysteries I suppose. With style. I am sure there was more to it than that. Sex & the City was barely a twinkle in the eye when Elsa went off CNN but I can picture the scene: A dim blue light is cast across the junior associate producers desk. Elsa Klensch enters stage right. The junior associate producer does not have the decency to make eye contact.

JAP: It's like this, Elsie...
EK: Miss Klensch, if you please.
JAP: Right. It's like this. We don't need to get people out of bed early on Saturdays to see fashion-type's nipples anymore,. There's this new HBO program gonna do it in prime time.

Then Elsa Klensch stabs him repeatedly with her shoe blade (you KNOW she has one), the junior associate producer slumps over his desk & the lights dim. I think this murder is probably what inspired her to start writing them.

Ms. Klensch is not the first person to retire to a mystery-series. I am told the books by Harley Jane Kozak are actually quite good. Also, if you have not seen The Favor, undiced by commercials on Comedy Central, it really is funny. Then Marion Chesney had not-quite retired from Regency Romances & began writing Hamish MacBeth & Agatha Raisin. Even Anne Perry had a short career as a murderer herself before she started writing mysteries.

I am thinking of writing my own mystery series. An unemployed fixed asset consultant solves crimes that are not really there... I think I may need to work on my noir, just a bit.

But back to Style with Else Klensch. I find that I miss it. Red carpet shows are just not nearly crazy enough (no, really, they are NOT). Ms. Klensch used to give us this season's leather & knitwear from Milan in the same episode as the influence of Japanese water gardening on the pop music scene & how this filtered into the latest wedding gowns. Seriously. I mean seriously that is what she did & I also mean she took herself very seriously.

I can see why she & CNN stopped being a good fit. No matter what she covered, Ms. Klensch made sure we knew that it was very important & never trivialized even the silliest of trends (she faithfully reported on the annual return of chaps; they have not appeared on any red carpets since the Red Hot Chili Peppers &/or David Lee Roth attended an award show & maybe even longer).

Now all news programs seem to flatten even the major news stories. Like it or not, some pieces information are more important than others & playing them all together in the same endless loop minimizes the value of everything.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Making small change OR you can nickel & dime your way to better karma

I confess I did not watch the inauguration; I was too afraid I would be watching the man get gunned down. I have had trouble with live television news broadcasts since I turned on CNN one September morning to catch up while I ate my oatmeal & well you probably know where this is going. I spent the rest of that day taking messages for other consultants & helping the Village of Northbrook, IL get their fixed asset tracking system up & running. It was not an emergency exactly, but it made their day better & sure as hell beat watching the tv.

After the inauguration was over I called my mom (about something else entirely) & she said how much she missed Molly Ivins & wished she could read one more column. A agreed he would have loved to read that column, too. Other than that (& the red-carpetifying of the festivities) I have not thought much about Inauguration Day. I take that back, I did watch the piece about reswearing in of Obama on the BBC. Apparently, Edwards screwed up the oath & the White House was jumpy enough not to want take any chances.

Now is the return to normal life & thinking about making small changes. I do already volunteer a day or so a week. By volunteer I mean doing something that does not benefit either me or people just like me OR does make a tangible change for the better: spending 40+ hours chairing the workshop committee for a local quilt guild does not constitute volunteer work in my book, working one shift in a homeless shelter does. I have done both & the first just does not cut it in the karma department, at least not for me.

Still, I also know that it is not just about the hours. I am certain I am healthier when I am not just working eating, working, sleeping, eating working, eating, sleeping etc. There is something too much like the hamster on a wheel if I do not stop & take time to give someone else a boost.

So I have begun collecting the ways people have been trying to honor MLK Day & the new president & I am pleased that some of what began as niche one-shot thngs, have grown:

Knitters for Obama, looks will continue to grow; the group on Ravelry was founded in November 2007 & I am optimistic that this is not going to go away anytime soon.

Another has been around a long, long, long time: Project Linus. I have lost count of how many quilts I have made for charity. Even here, in our small corner of the world we have an active chapter.

Both of these & many other would be happy to accept your one-time project or your continued support or anything in between.

A big change would be to give all my earthly goods to the poor & go live with the homeless. I know this idea gets a lot of press (both of the positive & negative variety), but I prefer small change, myself. You can nickel & dime yourself to better karma. Get past your differences & check it out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

All G*d's chillun got shoes

I admit I have had a morbid fascination with the fate of the Iraqi journalist/shoe thrower. I lurk on the BBC readers to get the latest info (US news seems to have dropped the story entirely).

I also spend way too much time thinking about the US Postal Service. I am a big, big fan of mail that arrives by human being, at my door (well the end of my driveway, anyhow). One of the perks, & there are MANY, of living on a rural route is that our mail-people know us. That's right, we have different carriers, different days & they have learned the routines of our home (it is OKay if you pull into the front yard & turn around, the doorbell does not work, the dog wearing the t-shirt that says "AMY" was actually named Amy so if you looked at her & say "Why is that dog wearing a shirt that says Amy?" she would think you are calling her & try to get into your vehicle). These are the kinds of things only locals can know. & people who read this blog.

& I know that the Post Office needs help. Mail-to-the-door has gone out of fashion & it is not coming back. Even when we need something tangible, overnight delivery has spoiled us all. But still, for less than $.50 you can send an envelope anywhere in the US (continental or otherwise). I remember once my brother mailed me a piece of pizza & it got delivered. Let me be clear, he did not put it in a box, he did not put it in an envelope, he wrote my address on the bottom crust & dropped it in the mail. & I got it, petrified pepperoni & all.

They will not do this anymore. I am not criticizing; I am not sure they ever should have. What they do do though is employ lots & lots of people in every community around this country. The Post Office has not outsourced. They provide pretty good health coverage & if the work is boring as hell, well have you ever tried useless ranching? For 50+ days I have been watching an emu not move. I was excited when he blinked & I don't get paid at all. My health coverage is pretty good, though, but I digress.

Thirdly (there is a point, I swear) I have a lot of shoes that do not fit anymore. Actually, I have a lot of left shoes that do not fit anymore. They all got stretched out from that brace I had to wear winter '07 thru spring '08 & now the right shoes fit, but the left ones keep flopping off. Unless I wear an extra pair of socks on my left foot. Which looks very very odd. Especially with shorts.

So, I am thinking of mailing my shoes to Crawford, Texas. Or maybe the Bush Legacy Project, if only I could find an address (OKay I admit I did not look too hard). I would pay $9 for a t-shirt that said I wish I could throw my shoes at GWBush, so why not pay the postage & help the post office? Also, what else can I do with those shoes? Except I cannot find a mailing address for the western white house either, only Crawford, Texas.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Anthony of Egypt

When reading (& blogging) about the saints I often find myself thinking it takes all kinds. But in the words of Bill Murray, Anthony of Egypt takes the taco. He inherited some money, gave it all away, went to live as a hermit. So far so good; nothing here out of the ordinary-saintly-way.

Then he decided to form a loose knit community of hermits. You read that right. He organized a group of people who then collectively avoided contact with all other people including each other. & he did this before e-mail.

Getting on in years, 60+ depending on the source (& for the 4th century, that was a good run), he thought the best use of his time & reputation would be to get martyred. So, he picked a fight. With the Romans. & lived.

Then around 80+, he decided to go minister to prisoners of Maximus. That's right, prisoners in Roman prisons. The same Romans he was looking to martyr him 20 years before. & lived. In the end it was Maximus who had the troubles.

I think my first favorite thing about Anthony of Egypt is that he became a close friend of Saint Paul the Hermit. I try to picture their long interludes of ignoring each other from opposite mountain tops. Cozy. Why do these weird celebrity clusters happen? Remember when all the best music seemed to be coming out of Athens, Georgia? Or the most innovative cars from Detroit? OKay, I have no memory of truly great cars out of Detroit, either, but it happened. It gets weirder: Anthony's biography was written by his other friend, Saint Athanasius of Alexandria.

My second favorite is this quote from one of the catholics-on-lines sites: "his relationship with pigs and patronage of swineherds is a little complicated". Now I know patronage does not mean quite the same thing to the people who maintain the saint-sites as it does to the Mayflower Madam but someone needs to rethink this line. All I can picture is his FaceBook page with 'it's complicated' with porcine-types listed under relationship.

According to most sources, he lived into his 100s. As did Paul the Hermit. This business of avoiding everyone around you seems to be good for your longevity; that is why I have adopted it. (I am sure both of their doorbells were broken, too). What impresses me is the decision to go ahead & die in a good (to him) cause & still living. As far as I can tell, he died of old age. Of course, he could have died in his 50s & died of old age so I do not know what to make of it.

Anthony of Egypt is very big with cemeteries & cemetery workers of all kinds, but especially gravediggers (I do not know why), swine & swineherds (ditto), the usual afflicted of the skin (every third saint is invoked against afflictions of the skin. No sunblock & not washing must have been very hard on the skin & that was before you started picking up leprosy & the black plague at the local farmers market) & slews of others (brushmakers, basket weavers & on & on).

Then I came to the last on the list: amputees. Anthony of Egypt shares this last patronage with Anthony of Padua, who is more widely invoked in order to find lost objects. Don't tell me the church has no sense of humor.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Think globally, eat locally

Every few years, my mother will recommend a Barbara Kingsolver book to me. I never manage to finish them. They are just too much. Then I learned she (Barbara Kingsolver, not my mother) had made the list of 100 people who are ruining this country. Naturally, I found the first Kingsolver book I could & read it. I have since wondered if Goldberg's publisher steered authors from their own catalog to this list. Kingsolver's publisher is Harper Perrenial; Goldberg's HarperCollins, but I digress.

I have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle & would recommend it. You can even take it out of the library (like I did) & not support this silly marketing loop. I rather get the feeling Kingsolver would not mind. I am tempted to try the eating locally thing (the local community college is actually offering a workshop on 'how to' called Locavore 101), but we all know I would lose interest in about a month & refuse to admit it until A was fed up with having the exact same vegetable for dinner for however long that took (he is more patient than you would think).

I have instead decided to grow something we can eat sometimes. This is harder than you think. Chickens get into everything. They completely molested my sunflowers last year & I know I am going to have sunflowers popping up in all the worst places come spring. Still, I have been cruising the seed catalogs (I do not have to buy the seeds locally, too, do I? Oh d*mn, that just occurred to me) & I have settled on the radiator charlie tomato, but I think I want a melon to go with it. Yes, I DO plan to serve them at the same meal.

Maybe I should think about that class. Oh & happy birthday Mom!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Knitting comes kicking

I put down my needles when we moved to Houston & have only made maybe a project every year or so since then. Suddenly, I want that feeling again. Last Monday, I went with C****** to the older of the two yarn shops in town (I love the new shop, but they only seem to have teaser skeins; one maybe two but never enough for a project) & bought the merino I have had my eyes on for a while. I still do not know what I want to make but the price is 40% of what it was & so I figured now or never.

C****** also got a skein of a gently variegated blue/green merino & plans to make herself a scarf in the feathers & fan pattern, or old shale or olde shael or whatever you wish to call it. This will be her first foray into lace, but I am confident she can do it. I looked for a link to this very old, very well known pattern but could only find people trying to sell it. So here it is:

row 1: knit
row 2: knit
row 3: knit
row 4: knit 1 /k2together x3, knit 1+yarn over 1 x6, k2together x3/ knit 1
row 5: knit
row 6: same as row 2
row 7: same as row 3
row 8: same as row 4
row 9: same as row 5
repeat until
4th from last row: same as row 4
3rd from last row: knit
2nd from last row: knit
last row: knit

You repeat the bit between the // however many times you want the pattern repeated. I recommend an odd number, say three or five or seven, but it is your call. You can see it is a toughie.

I am afraid I do not have a picture of my own but you could go here. Those of you who are very interested will notice some variation in her instructions & mine; I did not get the pattern here, but it is more or less what it will look like.

This October, Stitches (do not worry if you have never heard of it) will be in several places around the country, including Hartford. I am kinda-thinking I might kinda-wanna go. I mentioned this to A & he said "sure, whatever" so I am fairly certain he was not listening. Me & Mom went to the first one ever in King of Prussia, PA back when I lived in Joisey & she lived...where she does now.

Even today I am not sure I would have enjoyed it so much if it had not been for Nancy Bush. Mom wanted to take a Shetland Lace class & I went along for the ride. Nancy Bush was then better known as a writer/teacher in the more practical sock-world, but she was our instructor. She talked about being stuck in Unst (although she did not seem to see it as stuck) because of some confusion about the ferry & it was the most entertaining lecture I have been to since Jello Biafra spoke at UCONN & explained that the Reagan administration was really building StarWars so they could launch nuclear waste into outer space thereby polluting the galaxy & we should stop worrying about world peace & start worrying about littering.

So, knitting....I should probably see if the needles re-take & I am actually still knitting in say August before I make up my mind about Hartford in October. & if I am getting on a plane anyway, maybe I should skip CT & just go straight to Tunbridge.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Maybe baby not

Today is the 56th day CleoPatton has been sitting on those eggs. This morning I got a whiff of something 'not fresh' for the first time; last night there was no smell at all. We know he still had at least five intact eggs on Wednesday but have not been able to see anything since.

Unlike yesterday, today is warm (in the 70F range) & so he could get up for more than just a moment, but I admit that hanging out in W*****'s driveway (the only place with a clear view of the nest) for the day has limited appeal.

Still I think it is entirely possible there will be no babies at all. We hoped for, at most, a small percentage of hatchlings & I do not really mind none at all. Instead, we can have another easy season of hand-tamed prehistoric birds wandering the yard & not have to worry what happens if one of B***'s dogs, or worse one of our own, is mistaken for a baby-eater.

No news is good news & I am happy whichever way it goes. I think I should probably try to make this my whole approach to 2009.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stringing along

For a while, I have volunteered regularly at a local shelter that gives mothers with young children (or child or pending child) a place to live while they finish their schooling/get their act together/etc. Do not panic, I am not on the counseling end of things. I have long felt that most people should 1)grow the f*ck up & 2)get off their lazy slacker asses. This is almost the only potentially life changing advice I ever give. Apparently, this is considered 'thin' in the guidance area & outright hostile by anyone on the receiving end...

But the shelter has an arm that provides for in-house employment. Specifically, making grocery-type totes, holiday cards & other small items. The original mission was to prepare the residents for 'real' jobs: how to show up on time, accepting that you cannot always do what you want when you want to, etc. This has changed dramatically over the past year. Because I am not the biggest fan of where it is heading, I have changed what I do to a more behind the scenes, fund raising role. & so this past fall we ran our first (& possibly last) class for the general public. It was the absurdly simple quilt top we use to teach new residents how to use their sewing machines.

To make the blocks, you take leftover strings (old jelly rolls, unused pieces of binding, anything else that may have been cut into strips) & sew them along the long edge. This creates large solid pieces of striped fabric. It does not matter if the seams are not exactly straight or the depths vary; in the end it will all lay flat.

Once you have a piece 'of size', you use the 45degree angle on your ruler & cut them into squares. I find that the best size to cut is the width of my ruler (I have a 6.5" ruler if you are curious). You should use the width of your ruler. It really is just easier to remember.

The only tricky bit about this quilt is storing these blocks while you make as many as you need. The edges are on the bias & will stretch easily. I keep mine in an unused pizza box, but any box that lets them lay flay without too much wiggle room will do.

How many blocks you will need depends on what you do with them. In the beginner class, we assemble them into 4-squares, that is two-blocks x two-blocks. Using my 6.5" ruler as a width-guide, I made three rows of three of these two-by-two blocks (that is 4 x 3 x 3 or 36 original blocks)

The sashing is what I call "reconciling the disparate' from Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe sagas, if you are curios (start with Ordinary Jack & work your way through). I use it whenever I have blocks that are slightly irregular but need to go together. Take a strip (I like to use old bindings) & sew it to one edge. Take a strip of the same fabric, sew it to one of the adjacent sides. You have just done one half of a log cabin block. Stop now, you are done.

Put the sashed blocks together, alternating the sashing (i.e. the first block has sashing to the left & the top, the next to the left & the bottom, repeat, etc.). In this way you will never need to match seams until you assemble the actual rows. & even then, a screw-up will not show. Much.

If you would like the actual class handouts, leave a comment & I will send them on. I swear I have made 10-15 of these, but I cannot seem to find any pictures except these!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rip Van Emu

Yesterday was day 50 for the emu eggs (gestation is 48 - 52 OR 50 - 55 days, depending on which authority you go with). We are quite certain that at least one of the eggs he is sitting on has gone "bad", but the others are unknown. They are the Schrodinger's cats of emu eggs, if you will. Except that I am not planning on gassing them.

The day he sat on the eggs he stopped drinking. He ate pieces of apple for a day or two after that, but I can safely say he has had no water or food for 40+ days. We never see him stand, but he is often in a different position (facing a different direction) when we check on him.

We have also seen signs of scuffling around him, but we are fairly certain that is Antonelle patrolling & keeping him safe. Certainly, whenever we check on him, even if the emu yard gate is open (she loves to sit in the driveway & watch the road), she comes hurrying to check what is up. This is especially telling as we stopped giving him food the day after he started ignoring it so as not to attract any predators. She walks by a bin full of food to come watch us watch him.

Then today when we checked him around 11am he was alert. This is new. He ate every bit of apple put in front of him. He took several drinks of water & moved the grain around with his beak. Mother Nature is prepping him to wake up again. When the eggs hatch, if the eggs hatch, it will be him that keeps the babies safe & teaches them how to find food (in that little black tub right there).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The other reason I keep chickens

To behave 'like a chicken with its head cut off' means to act like a madman, in an unthinking unyielding way. A chicken that still has its head is not all that much calmer. The smallest thing sets them into squawking, blundering balls of feather & claw.

Captain was stoic; I later had reason to learn you could perform a full, uncomfortable (for ALL of us) exam on him untethered & he would not budge (the tether fell off, no one noticed). RedBud was a different story. Her history was murky, but she had likely been 'on the track' which means all manner of things were done to make her go fast; wild, frenzied fear is the favored motivator. She had a second, brief career as a brood mare, but anyone could tell she had never had a live birth. & so this people-fearing, high strung, 1500+ pound animal came to live at our house. Temporarily. Until she died here, years later.

RedBud was afraid of EVERYTHING, but especially people. & the people she feared most were people with ropes. & so I sent her out with the others, thinking that their calm would teach her to be calm (& it did, eventually). She wore a loose rope halter most of her days; the thinking was we could clip a lead rope to her when we needed to bring her in. Once the lead rope was on her though, she would not budge. She shook, she pulled back, her eyes rolled around in her head & there was no moving her.

So instead of a lead rope, I would cup my hand under her chin & just walk in the direction I wanted her to go. Most of the time, she walked along. Nervously, but the idea that she could turn & leave at any time seemed to be enough to make her not panic. She quickly learned that if she allowed herself to be lead this way there would be carrots or apples or whatever when we got where we were going. The learning curve was even faster when she realized that if she did mosey off, everyone else would get apples & carrots & she would not. It took less than two weeks to get her to just follow wherever we needed her to go. In fact, it was hard to get her not to follow even when I did not want her.

& that lead to our biggest problem, because EVERYTHING startled her. The sound of the gate opening could make her break into a gallop. A branch creaking over-head & she jumped around like a loon. Worst of all was the hourly pine cone cone or magnolia bomb falling from a tree & hitting the barn's tin roof, rattling as it rolled all the way down. This fear was not a problem when she was afraid of people, afraid to come to the barn, but when she was not afraid & had her panic-attack next to the barn or next to me, it was a real danger.

Enter the chickens:

When I fed Redbud (in a bucket on a fence in a different pasture than the others), the chickens perched on the fence, waiting for this favorite treat; RedBud was a very messy eater (this business of being hard to rope meant her teeth had not been floated in a long long long time).

Their presence was very hard on Redbud. The chickens did not care if she was having a nervous breakdown overhead; their world begins & ends with the next bit of food they want to cram in their beaks. They made no effort to elude her or even acknowledge her. They ran & flapped & fought along the fence line & next to her head. In the end, though it was not long before she accepted them . She really had no choice as they roosted on the fence next to her, watching for what fell out of her mouth. Being chickens, each was worried her sister would get there first & so, they descended, en masse. & squabbled under Redbud's bucket. She was old, her reflexes were not good so even if she kicked, any contact she made was random luck. I swear, no chickens were injured in this process.

Within a month, she would willingly stick her head into a bucket deep enough to cover her eyes while all manner of chaos (chickens, tractors, barking dogs, etc) took place around her. & so we were finally ready to float her teeth, trim her hooves & treat the abscess behind her ear.

Remember at the beginning of this when I said any pressure with a lead rope made her crazy? Turns out she was not just 'being bad', but had a massive abscess behind her ear. When I could finally get close enough to watch her eat, it was clear as day. Every few weeks I learn again that people who jump to 'bad' as the reason for misbehavior in animals (or even children, frankly) should probably be tied out back & forgotten during a thunderstorm, or left to sit strapped in a highchair wearing only a dirty diaper while the rest of the family makes 'we are having fun' noises in the other room. I have seen both of these stunts in the last 30 days & expect I will see them again soon.

RedBud spent the rest of her life here & was happy even the day she died. I lead her out of the pasture with apples & carrots & she stood peacefully while the vet gave her an injection & then we both sat with her, cupping her eyes & telling her how pretty she was while she died. She was unknown years old but the estimate was 25. Before she came to us she had foundered & recovered, but was never very healthy. In the last weeks she was here, she wasted to half her weight, although her appetite never faltered. The likely culprit was cancer.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Shy camellia

You know how dogs look a lot like their people? Well plant-club members look a lot like their plants. The Rose Society are all a bit top heavy & ruddy; the Bonsai 's have a number of Iraq vets (part un & part deux), missing limbs, on oxygen etc. looking as tortured as their trees, I could go one for pages. When I was responsible for getting the meeting rooms ready for the plant societies, though one of my favorites was the camellias. They never asked for anything. I once forgot about them entirely & never put out chairs. They conducted their meeting leaning against the walls.

The camellias in my yard are just as perfect. I ignore them entirely, except when one of the chickens or dogs somehow get into their little fenced area & then I abuse them, chasing whatever it is out. They always reward me with lovely flowers this time of year. Today was no different. Welcome 2009.