Friday, February 25, 2011

Budding moon

The full moon this month was the 18th, a Friday.  That Thursday, my mom was visiting, but I still went & stood next to the henhouse & watched it rise over the pines at the back of the pasture.  The temperature was ideal, the air was moving just enough, it was perfect.  The next week everything did start to push buds.

As it happens, other cultures (other than the one that calls this the budding moon which by-the-by is not mine) have "budding moons", but they happen in later months.  They are also most often centered in more northerly regions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcoming the Judas Tree

It started a bit more than a week ago; the tree that had been plain gray branches began forming small dense reddish-pinkish clusters.  Exactly a week later, those clusters had swelled & begun to look like beads of wax.  & then yesterday, it really began to bloom.

Cercis canadensis is actually in the legume family (that's right- peas & pulses), but it is a tree.  & what a tree!  Although the top of its habitat is in New Jersey & the western-most point in Texas, I had not seen redbud -or certainly not in enough abundance to remember- until we moved to Florida.  Now I cannot get enough of them.  They can be hard to find, mostly because they are fast-enough growing that the plant sold by nurseries rarely looks like much.

Do not be deceived by descriptions with words like "weedy"; this is a healthy happy tree.  There are not many widespread applications & virtually none are commercially viable (except as an ornamental & then it gets low marks for that because the flowering period is brief).

Apparently a springtime shower of flowers,  a food source for wildlife & shade in the hot summer is just not enough to make a tree worthwhile to the landscaping public.  You can keep your endlessly flowering trees, those deciduous things that really only lose their leaves when the new ones push through, & everything else you can find in every nursery.  I will be napping under the Judas Tree.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Seeing red

Once my block lotto blocks were posted, I went cherching the next month's assignment & it was Oh Dear all in red.  There is no good way to put this:  I am not a big fan of red.  Whenever I have a red white & blue assignment I somehow squeak by with blue & white & the littlest bit of red around the edges.

This is not a new aversion; it has nothing to do with Sarah Palin or even Nancy Reagan before her.  I just do not much care for red. Way back, before there was a Useless Ranch blog, way back in ?2006?, Fons & Porters published a Bingo Block that required five different red fabrics in any of several categories.  Most people went to their scrap bags (they only needed 2.5" squares);  I had to buy four fat quarters.  I owned one novelty fabric that could be fussy cut to mostly red in such a small square & nothing else.  No red.

Since that time I tried to expand my world to include red, but it did not take.  I own some red fabric & I never seem to cut into it.  I pushed myself to deal with red in one of our FB swap blocks this year (another 2.5"square commitment) & I am dragging my feet making more than I needed for the instruction-pictures.  Starting with that small red block (it's a log cabin so you know, red in the center) is a hurdle I cannot seem to get over.

Rereading what I have just typed, I recognize I sound like a crazy person.  I am thinking an all-red block would probably be good for me because this aversion is...uhmmmm...extreme.  Emotionally unwell extreme.  So of course I will make at least one.  After all, if I cannot bear even the remote chance of winning, I can always donate it.

// this particular lotto was inspired by the upcoming exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum.  It is not often I am sorry I no longer leave in that NYC-Boston corridor, but this is one I would have liked to see despite the color.  & my sneak-peak arrived earlier today & I kinda like it, red & all.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mystery, what?

I am a huge Huge HUGE fan of the Modern Scholar Lecture Series.  Our library gets them on the little digital playaways & I do not leave home without them, well not by plane anyhow.  Just last night I finished the most recent (to me):  Detective Fiction.  & I think it just might be my most favorite of all.

As for the playaways...  It is no secret to anyone who has spent anytime with me recently that I am not sleeping.  I think my sleep patterns were disrupted for much longer than I realized while Farley-boy was waking me to let him out.  I am one of those lucky people who can get out of bed, walk through a cold, cluttered house more or less without light, more or less without hurting myself, stand in a open door waiting for an old dog to finish his business, get back into bed & immediately sleep.  A once suggested this was sleepwalking, but I promise it isn't;  I AM awake.  If I have to, or if I am startled, I can be truly fully awake. Or I can just glide thru whatever routine I am in & then slide back into sleep.  While Farley-boy was still self-mobile, I might get up two or more times a night; it is hard for me to be sure really.  Now that there is no Farley-boy at all, I find myself reaching to the floor (he slept next to my side of the bed) & when I cannot find him I am am instantly, completely awake.  The other thing I catch myself doing is waking up to realize I am standing at the back door, resting my head against the glass waiting for....waiting for a dog who is never going to come back in again.  I mostly find myself this way on cold night, so I think I might do it most nights, but only wake up when it gets cold enough to rattle me.

This is where the playaways come in.  I keep one on the bedside table & I can "read" myself back to sleep without turning on the light & waking A, who really does need his sleep what with his having a day-job & all.

This is only the third or so bout of insomnia I have ever experienced.  Yes, of course I have not-so-easy to sleep times in my life, but whatever it is that causes them (deadline, bad clams, etc.) the whole thing ends just on the other side.  Only once have I asked for a scrip for sleeping pills & was given what I late learned was a dose that could be doubled with no ill effects; no matter it did what it was supposed to do.  I almost regret not refilling it, altho those pills would probably be dust by now if I had.  So playaways it is.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Still kutting korners

We are coming out of the back stretch & heading into the home stretch in the first Facebook block swap of 2011 & I am so happy it is so far going swimmingly & believe me when I say I really needed that.  The block is about as easy as it gets, which might be why first-time swappers outnumber the not-first-timers since, well, the first swap.

Blocks are due in-house February 26 (they are always due the last Saturday of an even numbered month, hence the last Saturday in February), so postmarked-by February 22 should get here on time.  I used to say swap on Sunday, mail on Monday but I think I am going to nudge that to swap on Sunday/Monday, mail on Wednesday because my own schedule has changed & our local post office has cut their window hours.

The block, as a reminder, looks something like this:

If you would like more information about this swap you can leave a message here OR (better) on FaceBook search "quilt block swap" & ask to join, where you are welcome to lurk until you are ready to jump in.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring sprung plum

I know it is hard to imagine while the snow is still piled up, but here spring has come early.  The groundhog was right.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Achey breaky

Yup it is Valentine's Day & I am guessing A will come home with flowers & maybe even chocolates (to be fair, he comes home with chocolates often, mostly so he can eat them but hey, it's the thought that counts).  He might even arrive with lemon cake -my most absolute favorite- which he also been known to just do.  Either way or empty handed, it's all fine; I am not one for setting much store by these once-a-year days as a measure of true feeling.  After all, this is the man who, when told by the judge we were husband & wife "before the eyes of G*d & the state of Texas" looked into my eyes & said "There's two institutions I believe in".

What really matters is the other 360-odd days that he comes home (again, often with chocolate) & the house looks just the same (i.e. untidy, or worse) as it did when he left that morning, because I have been quilting.  How was that for a segway?

& so I have managed to get thru this months Block Lotto& Friday Block Party blocks before the middle of the month or the middle of the week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The saints' diet

Right about now is when everyone's New Years resolution to lose weight pretty much tanks.  So I thought how about a saint known for her inedia?  Yeah, I had to look it up the first time too.  Inedia is the ability to subsist without taking nourishment except the holy communion for long periods of time.  Obviously inedia alone is not enough, you need other qualities like visions.  A stigmata doesn't hurt either. & yesterday's saint is the total package.  Yea, I'm a day late with this sue me.

Anne Catherine Emmerich was born in 1774 in the Holy Roman Empire.  That was the country: the Holy Roman Empire.  She already has an anachronistic-seeming thing going, right?  Well, I had to look that one up, too & it turns out that the Holy Roman Empire was an actual place until 1806, although it had been getting steadily smaller for a while by then.  So we have a person who lived much more recently than I usually like to see in my saints, in a country that sounds like something out of the Middle Ages, which it kind of was. 

As she became an adult, she job hopped; probably not her fault.  I am guessing that as the empire broke down long-term opportunities in the serf-line were probably also limited.  Finally she was admitted to a convent, only to see it closed down by the King of Westphalia.  Not sacked, not burned, she was not martyred by being raped/killed/held hostage.  They just closed it down.  She then asked to join the Poor Clares, but not having any money, they couldn't afford to take her.

& so she continues, as a shepherdess, a seamstress, etc., all the while having "a feeling of disgust and repugnance when in the neighbourhood of old pagan cemeteries, whereas she was attracted to the sacred remains of the saints as steel by the magnet".  She also took to sleeping on a cross (well planks on the ground in the form of a cross, which made me laugh out loud because of that oh-so-picturesque Southern expression:  get down off of that cross honey, somebody needs the wood).

The food-weirdness seems to have been there almost from the beginning.  It began with giving away the best of her food to the poor.  Then when there were no poor (no poor?!?), she would leave it as an offering.  It wasn't long before 1) she caught the attention of a poet, who began writing about her & 2)she ruined her digestive system.

That first one there is the next anachronism.  Relying on poets for publicity had gone out of vogue everywhere by the late 18th century, except in the Holy Roman Empire it would seem.  Actually, that isn't true.  Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, et al wrote buckets of political poetry, but it just doesn't seem quite the same. 

As for the second, it began to get hard to hold down a job (starving, uneducated did anyone NOT see that one coming). By the time the stigmata kicked in & the ecstasies began taking up more & more of her time, she finally qualified for care in one of those religious institutions she was too well off for before.  That donut hole has been around for a long time.  For another decade or so she subsisted entirely on communion wine & wafers.  If the visions had not come first, I would think that explained them right there.  She lingered in this state for uhmmmm twelve or so years.  If she had lived two hundred years later, she could have had her own reality show & sponsored the Celebrity Saint Diet.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If it's Wednesday, this must be the Farmer's Market

Alachua County has a farmer's market six days a week, but the crown jewel, in my opinion, is the Union Street Farmers Market on Wednesday 4-7.

I know, the Saturday market has its fans, but this business of closing when the produce runs out means you have to get there no later than 9am on a Saturday & what with dogs & horses & so forth I have trouble getting anywhere by 9am any day of the week.  Therefore I have never made it before half the vendors have packed it in so it just didn't look like much.  The Monday market at Tioga also seems to be growing (& it is closer to me), but my Monday's are already crammed.  As for the markets in High Springs & Alachua township. you can see how I might not have made it to them more than once, more than a few years ago.

The Union Street Farmers Market is not on Union Street, they outgrew that location quite some time ago, & are now at the Bo Diddley Plaza.  About a yer ago there was a campaign to bring people to the downtown area & the idea was floated that the unused Bo Diddley Plaza (unused per the organizer except for the handful of times of year there is an outdoor concert or on Fridays in the summer when they show free movies or the three different annual street festivals...) should perhaps be taken down & sold/rented to something that might make the town some money.  This was shouted down pretty quick by the farmer's market people & it was quickly understood that the people/person suggesting this did not actually spend all that much time downtown.  It probably also helped that they crunched the numbers & it turns out that short-term leases on very small lots (say the size of a metered parking space in time slots of 20-40 minutes) already net the town about as much as they could expect to see in the early years of any proposed development project & probably quite a bit more, once you factored in the kinds of costs other such proposals actually cost (as opposed to proposed cost).  Then the economy tanked & enough other projects stalled/spaces opened up that it has not come up since.  On the other hand, when all the students are gone, when & basketball are out of season on the rainiest coldest Wednesday there ever was in this part of the country, the plaza is always hopping.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

& so he/she sits

The big birds had a clutch of eggs & CleoPatton started sitting on them two-three days before we left last December.  Because V** needed to get thru there every day & because Antonelle's hormones amp her up when he goes into his brooding coma, we took the eggs away.  We knew they were not viable; they were left exposed overnight during several freezes & no matter how diligent the birds: these eggs were never going to hatch.

Then we left, had a happy vacation (pictures to appear here ...whenever I get around to it).  We got back to snow on Christmas Day.  Okay, flurries but still Snow?  in Fladidah?  The birds seemed kind of sluggish, but in that cold we weren't all that surprised.  I started  leaving extra apples for them (they are stoopid-crazy for apples, if you ever need to lead an emu, I recommend a feed scoop full of cut apples), checked them where they chose to hunker down (I assumed they were conserving heat) & did not think much about it.  Until I realized they seemed to stay hunkered in the same general area.

It took a while, but I finally clued in that SHE was sitting on a new, smaller clutch of eggs.  & he was sitting nearby, what we call nest-adjacent. & this has been how it has been.  We thought at first maybe he had moved the eggs & sat on them, or maybe had split away some of them but no...she is definitely sitting on all of the eggs & he is sitting with her.  Sometimes they switch, but most of the time when she gets up, he gets up & follows her where ever she goes.  Yes, he's a dead-beat dad but he is devoted to her.

We decided against removing the eggs this time.  I worry about her going thru the whole lay eggs/lose weight thing for a third time in one season.  & so she sits.  & he sits with her.  & so we wait...until they just don't sit anymore.