Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The price of milk

We have a new cow.  I know I have hardly talked/blogged/whatever about anything else since she arrived.  I have milkmaid's wrist, milkmaid's forearm & milkmaid's grip.  What tennis is to the elbow, running is to shins, etc. you do the rest.

& mostly it is good.  You cannot imagine how good that milk smells when it hits the pail.  I want to drink it, warm on a warm day, it is so sweet-(& I only ever drink milk, cold milk when I have a stomach ache or cookies...or both).  I have gotten to the point in the process where I am not so exhausted when it is over that I can reflect on how not-exhausted I am, which is its own kind of high.  No really.  Apparently I have not yet gotten to the point where complete sentences out number the other kind, though.  Oh well.

What I do have is just enough energy to kick back & watch one of my favorite movies.  Since I am having trouble with continuity, it helps to watch a movie I have both seen before & is not quite continuous itself.  Which brings me to The Price of Milk.  I love this weird little film.  That it happens to be about a dairyman (& yet not about a dairyman) just helps.  Also, it is on Instant on Netflix, so go for it.

As a side bar, the next time I hear someone complain about how food prices are outlandish & can you believe what they want for a gallon of milk, I plan to show them my milking bruises & cuts, all for not more than a gallon a day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bernard of Menthon

When you think "Saint Bernard" it probably is not an actual saint that pops in to your mind but an actual dog. For me, it is Nana from Peter Pan.  It seems, the dogs were named for the famously impassable Great Saint Bernard Pass & the pass is named for the man himself.

For perhaps the first time ever in my looking into the saints & what they do for us, Bernard is invoked by Alpinists specifically, mountain climbers & skiers more generally & ultimately all travelers in the mountains. No skin ailments, no lost children/innocents or innocence, no diseases, no random occupation associated with the gruesome way he died, nothing. Sweet blessed relief.

The man seems almost normal, as well. During his mortality, he held a clerical/local magistrate-type office near the 10-months-of-winter pass that bears his name. While there he established the patrols & shelters for travelers in this plagued (by weather & thieves) region. I can find no grand show stopping number in his repertoire, just 40+ years of hard work, patrolling, administering & preaching against idolatry, pretty much in that order. His miracles have been described as "numerous" & that is all; the entry has a kind of after thought quality. I marvel that the church made him a saint. It seems to me the man himself might have been more pleased about the naming of the dog breed, but maybe I am projecting.

The final thing that struck me about Bernard of Menthon was not so much that lack of information about him as the extra information about him. I found TWO definitive years of birth (923 & 996), THREE definitive nationalities (Italian & French & Swiss), as well as a number of offices for which he was 'most well known'. I cannot help it, I feel if anyone is 'most well known' for something it ought to be just the one something. There are also legions of other Saint Bernards (not to be confused with other saint bernards) & so I cannot help but think they might be raining on this everyday clergyman's day. Which is a damn shame, because I think I like him best.

//in the course of writing this I double checked to see if Nana was indeed a Saint Bernard, she certainly looked like one. She was, according to stage directions, a Newfoundland. Interestingly enough, many Saint Bernards are also almost Newfies; the avalanches of the 18-teens were particularly hard &, because of the dog-death-toll, the Newfie line was introduced into Saint Bernard breeding stock.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

No, not the rapture

This morning, I took time out of my busy schedule to observe one of my own high holy days.  Not the rapture (like that needed saying).  & no, it is not the library book sale; those are April & October.  Today was the annual Master Gardeners Plant Sale.

I look forward to this sale all year; well for months anyhow.  I start making lists of things to try & find at the sale.  In the past I have hunted lilies of the valley, any white flowering flower, something that will survive deep shade, lemon tree, plum tree, any kind of flowering fruit tree.  This year I went looking for the fruit trees, especially lemon & plum, lavender & catnip.  Last year I got the worlds most gynormous catnip plant for W***** & now I want one for my own cats.

I came home with a catnip plant & nothing else I went for.  There were flowering fruit trees, but nothing that really whet my appetite.  The lavenders sold out before I got there, less than an hour after the sale started (curse you people who can leave home before milking the cow).  Instead I got  lime basil plant, a lemon balm & two cannas.  The taste for cannas was slow in coming to me, but now whenever I see one that even suggests it might be a color I do not already have, I must purchase it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Eliza Doolittle Day

It is just a little thing, but today is kind of a silly-big deal in my world.  It is Eliza Dolittle Day.  For those of you who have never heard of Henry Higgins or maybe think Pygmalion might be the patron saint of swineherds, let me ease yOu in.

Have you ever suspected your boss might be conducting experiments to change your speech pattern (i.e. have you ever been a telemarketer asked to pass for an american)?

Have you been sexually harassed & kind of liked it...until you didn't?

Do you fantasize about a world in which you hold the power of life & death over people who barely acknowledge you as human?

Well, any of these things might mean you need an Eliza Dolittle Day.  We will celebrate by watch My Fair Lady start to finish & jumping up & down on the furniture shouting The Rain In Spain et cetera. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I have so many many not-quite-finished projects, but when it came time to spotlighting a finished quilt for the Blogger's Quilt Festival, I could not believe how many of my finished quilts have already been covered in my blog.  Virtually every one I had here that I could take a picture of or had taken a picture before I shipped it off has already been shown here.  With one exception: Nymphaeaceae.

Quite some time ago (yea, I could look it up or I could just move on), a floristic inventory of the local botanical garden was begun & a while after that it was mostly finished; these things are never finished-finished.  As it was wrapping up, the wife of the inventoryer, the guy collecting & identifying one of everything in the garden, & I took a fraction of the digital images & made a quilt for a show at the museum of natural history (they were having a quilting natural fladidah-themed exhibit) & we made this.  Meanwhile, the manager of the collection was doing everything in his power to make things easier for us.  By everything, I mean everything, including re-prioritizing what specimens got mounted & photographed when so we could get the images we needed ASAP & not taking it to heart when they turned out not to be quite what we wanted & oh, could we have this instead?

In the course of this whole process, it became very, Very, VERY clear which image was his favorite.  He used it for buttons on the website, he used it as his screen saver; everywhere he could squeeze it in, he squeezed.  When we finished our main project & started planning our Thanks For All Your Help project there was no other choice. 

As with all the images for our original quilt, I printed the images on 100% cotton using the Bubblejet product & an HP Photosmart printer.  We used a single close up of the primary image for the center of the front & several others that we cut up to incorporate into the sawtooth border.  As patterns go, it is not complex; we wanted to be careful that the quilt layout not clash with the image we were trying to highlight.  For the back, we printed the whole specimen with label.  While not particularly important in terms of the quilt, it is (almost) the most important part to an herbarium manager. The whole thing is less than 30" x 30"

If you want to see the original specimen (kind of) you can search for accession number 214601 thru 214601 at the collection search page.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Saturday it rained

Saturday it rained:

It rained, I was drenched, we lost power & the sun came out.

It rained again, the sun came out, I loaded old boards into the truck bed until they were level with the sides.

Then it rained again, the new cow arrived, the sun came out.

It rained, the cow-delivering-family left, I was drenched again, the sun came out.

It rained,  C**** arrived to work on the milking stand & the sun came out.

It rained, A & C**** kept working, C****'s phone died, the sun came out.

We made C**** do other not-cow milking-stand related things, A left to go see what the deal was with our power, it rained again.

We moved the milking stand to the pasture, C**** rode sitting on the milking stand sitting on the pile of old boards.

A & C**** unloaded it, A took the truck to the dump, me & C**** got the cow in & she got milked.

Over night it rained again.  On Sunday morning, there were waves in the sand, but the water was all gone.  On Sunday afternoon, the grass seemed to grow before our eyes.  Monday morning, I ran the sprinklers for 30 minutes, it was already that dry. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

& then there was one

Yesterday a tree trimming & removal crew (that we have used before; they are great) was here, doing what they do.  We had the emus (& the other animals) contained but then Antonelle, the female emu did something we never expected.  She became so panicked while branches were being removed by Bobcat she pushed so hard she knocked the center board out of a three boards fence & ran out into the street.  One+ hour for me & two of the tree guys to get her contained, another hour for A & the same two guys to get her back in her yard.  She never recovered from the shock & died around 9:30 last night.

Yes, I am sorry.  I already miss her voice (she made a noise that sounds like the opening chords of These Boots Were Made For Walking...no, really.  The thrum-thrum-thrumming, not the tambourine.  CleoPatton, her mate is calm-ish as I type this.  The tree guys are back today & making as much noise as ever, but he never was as high strung as she was.  He is pacing, but showing no sign of doing himself equal damage.  What happens next is anyone's guess.  Emus are not wired for solitary living, but we really don't want another one. 

Poor Antonelle.  Up until 5:09 yesterday she had a very nice emu life & was happy & well cared for.  In the end, though, there was no reasoning with an 80lb animal with a brain the size of a chihuahua's.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Massachusetts star for June 2011

The April swap blocks are already in the mail back to the swappers; some have already arrived in their new homes.  Sooo, I am a bit late posting the nudge for the June swap block:  the Massachusetts Star.

Mostly I am late because of the changes to the way Facebook handles Groups.  The short version is all Groups are either moving to the new format or being archived.  For reasons I am not clear on (& because Facebook is free, they don't exactly have people standing by to answer questions), our active group was flagged for archival becasue it was not active enough .  After trying unsuccessfully to find out how to get the "upgrade" option for our group, I began the process of creating a new QBS group using the new group tools.  Naturally, once I was almost done our group was changed from to-be-archive to upgradeable.  Oh well, you get what you pay for, right?  Mostly it looks like a good change, certainly more flexible but time will tell.

Which brings us to now.  We are at the third of the first three block swaps for the first half of 2011.  The blocks are due in-house the last Saturday in June.  The directions are in a previous post on this blog as well as other places on-line.

You will need two fabrics for each star.  One fabric should read-as-solid & be either blue OR white OR black.  The other can be red, white or blue OR red, white & blue OR any combination of red &/or white &/or blue.

In addition to the five blocks you send & get five different blocks back, you have the option of sending a 6th block.  Every swap a different person is chosen, sometimes people contact me, sometimes I contact them.  The 6th blocks are gathered together & go to back to that swapper for a quilt for her organization of choice.  For June the blocks are going to the same person who made last years Quilt of Valor quilt.  She is not the first person to make more than one 6th block; all I ask is that the previous 6th block quilt be completed (quilted bound) & a picture posted in the group so everyone can see how their blocks ended up. 

If you would like to join the swap, search in Facebook for the group "Quilt Block Swap- every other month" & ask to join.  If you would like to be part of the Quilt of Valor quilt send an extra block (or two or three) with your five swap blocks.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

April showers, May flowers, Mothers Day & so on

For the first time since I joined Block Lotto, I managed to finish something for the virtual quilt that gets posted for the upcoming lotto (for the record, this was for the first of April & I am just blogging it now).  It is a pretty block, & on point which I love.

I made ten & donated them all.  I just could not see myself making a whole quilt of them & the handful I might want for a bouquet I would be happy to make for myself. It seemed like good karma, but then I learned my mom really wanted to win that one.  So much for good karma & Happy Mother's Day mom.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jewish Studies thru Zoology

It was graduation weekend here last weekend; we are still recovering.  The graduating undergraduate class of the college of liberal arts & sciences is so large that, although the ceremony is held in a largish space, they still have to have to hold two ceremonies.  Physics comes in the second wave which begins with Jewish Studies & ends with Zoology.  This particular college within the university also has the largest number of non-majors taking classes within it (the cutbacks in public education that have been happening over the past several years means that even the cream of the crop don't have some of what used to be basic college-entry-level skills; the smartest person in the world cannot learn to read if he never sees a book).  The average undergraduate here takes five years to get out

In other education news this week, the rule designating the percentage amount to come from an individual teacher's paycheck to a retirement fund over which they have no control, no say & no oversight took effect here in Florida.  In our case, this means the man who is part of a team of three faculty members responsible for a lecture, office hours, online homework etc. for 600+ pre-med students per semester, as well as raising through grants & other funding sources enough cash to cover his research (equipment, graduate student salaries, etc.), his own salary if he expects a check during the summer & let's not forget the 40% allocated to the university for administrative support, space, electric, etc. just took a 3% pay cut.  I know things are tough all over, but the in this country educators make on average exactly the same amount they made in 2005, no cost of living increases, nada.  From 2000 to 2005, teachers were lucky to get cost of living raises which might explain why only one teacher out of every three teaching in 2000 was still teaching in 2005.  I could not find stats on those still teaching in 2010, but it is I doubt that many returned to teaching even with the economic downturn.

OH & it is Teacher Appreciation Week.  Trust me, they are feeling the love...all the way to another profession.  Except for the ones who are taking jobs in other countries.  Right now, the single biggest next-employer for former colleagues we know is South Korea.  If you think your healthcare is expensive when you are being gouged by US companies, wait until you get the bill when another country holds the patents on your diabetes home test kit, cholesterol medication, etc.  As for everything else, most states are already lowering the education requirements for public school teachers.  It turns out you cannot require a person to pay $$$ out of pocket for a job that pays less than $.  Which means that chances are good that the teacher who stays in teaching is making money someplace else.  Maybe it is from a spouse, maybe it is from patent licensing, maybe it is from dealing in crystal meth.