Archive for August, 2009

Well, the great NaBloPoMo challenge for August is over today, and I have managed to actually post every day this month.   The theme was “Tomorrow,” and I tried to fit some of my posts into the theme.  The problem for me is, I have spent a lot of energy in the past few years trying to learn to live in the present.   The past has had a lot to do with forming what and who I am today, but I’ve learned over the years that trying to predict or control what will happen tomorrow is an activity doomed to frustrate the practitioner.

As soon as I think I know what my schedule will be tomorrow, someone will forget their appointment.   Or they will have an emergency and have to change times.   My parents will show up to visit during the middle of a massage, or worse, three minutes before a client is due to appear.   People will call me and want to talk when I thought I was going to can tomatoes instead.  If I plan to get things planted out into the garden in a timely way, it will rain.  OBE is the name of the game.

The day before yesterday, we were looking at each other and thinking “We’ve been in separate states or hosting house guests for over a week.   Maybe it’s time we Did Something Together.   “Hey, maybe we should Stay Home tomorrow,” Jim said, as he nibbled on my neck just below my ear.   “Ooh,” I cooed (if you can imagine me cooing).   “That might be a plan I could get behind.”

So when we got up, we had certain Plans for the day, and the fact that it was a crystal clear sunny day wasn’t helping me stay focused on them.  The thoughts that kept running through my head,  all on the lines of “I should be floating today,” felt  disloyal and apt to wind up in little or no gratification of the ideas we had been discussing earlier.   Finally, Jim came up with a winner of an idea.   “If we were efficient, we could have our cake and eat it too.  This looks like a perfect floating day.”  He’s so smart. Plus he can read my mind.

So we proceeded to have our cake, and then journeyed off to the River to eat it too.

Jeri and I floated, with one of her high school friend’s husband tagging along.   He did quite well, and no one dumped, which was a good thing because while it was sunny and clear it wasn’t particularly warm.   Having our “cake” took so long the floating trio didn’t hit the water until 1:00 p.m., but we decided we had plenty of daylight to do the long float.   We got put in at the Steelman’s Access near Buffalo, and floated down the Jay and Jeri’s place.   It was spectacular.

Along the way, I was looking for a good clump of cardinal flower to photograph.  This was the best I could do.


I was really looking for a good reflection, but mostly what I was finding was single stalks or a group too far away from the water to do a good reflection.  This clump was amusing to photograph because there was a pair of hummingbirds working it.   Naturally, I was way too far away to get them on the camera, but it was fun to see them buzzing around while I was floating there.

Along the way, there wer perfect piles of stuff from the last good sized flood we had (a couple of months ago).   I got this shot to show you that our lazy river isn’t always lazy, and when it is in flood stage you really do need to be respectful of its power.    Take a good look at the tree that is horizontal in the following shot.    I’d judge that where it is stuck amongst the trees is a good six feet above the water level.  That is the whole tree trunk, by the way.   The canopy is gone, but the major trunk and forks are still there.  Not something you want to tangle with while the river is hurling it along while in full flood.


We’ve floated when the river is that high, but we stay away from the sides when it is, and we don’t try to go near root wads and extract trash either.

Of course, I had to bother the frogs.


We were floating along in a spot where there was a pretty cool bunch of reflections, and while I was trying to get a good shot, a green heron stopped by to explore the fishing possibilities.  It was extremely comfortable with the three of us, which was a pleasant surprise.  As soon as we realized he was going to stick around, we all got very mousy quiet and still and allowed our canoes to float down the pool towards him.   He slew downstream several times, but after he had moved a couple of times he decided we weren’t dangerous and did some great posing for me.     I managed to get a few great shots of this guy.  I really think the way he changes his neck size and shape is impressive.   Also, I’m clueless as to why this is called a green heron when it clearly is dressed in blues and browns and whites.



Towards the end of the float, the sun started going down.   We weren’t too concerned about being benighted, since we were close to home by that time.   Plus we are coming up on the full moon and the waxing quarter was high in the sky, so we knew we’d have plenty of light to negotiate the last few hundred yards should it get dark.  As it was, we got in before it was even close to getting dark.  Meanwhile, I noticed the moon reflecting on the long pool just above the last couple of bends above the take out.


When we got home we discovered that Jim had performed some sort of magic act with the piece of pork we brought along.   It involved a jerk paste and the outdoor grill.   All I can say is, I was going to get a picture of it a la azahar to taunt you all with, but by the time the thought crossed my mind the platter was empty, and we were all enjoying the tingle of habañero peppers on our lips and wishing that there had been more, even though everybody knew nobody actually needed any more caloric intake.

Jim said in passing that he wants to go to Jamaica to make sure his jerk tastes right.  The group treated to this delicacy unanimously agreed that this jerk was not only right, but righteous.   He still wants to make the comparison, and I don’t suppose it would hurt.

Maybe we can start planning something like that tomorrow.

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It ‘s been a busy few days at The Havens.   Jim ran off to Wyoming for a business meeting with his siblings and partners in the rental business, and that meant that I drove to St. Louis twice in 5 days for airport delivery and pick up.   The second he got home the row of Baco noir wine grapes was ready to pick and the Marechal foch was ready to press and put into the secondary fermenters.  His brother from Iowa wanted to be involved in the wine making process, so Jim called him and he ran down from his place and spent a few days here.

The upshot of all this activity is that over in the corner of the dining room there are two primary wine fermenters working away.  They make a very busy bubbling and ticking sound.  The seeds and stems from the Marechal foch pressing had sugar and water added to them and they are making a second run of a dark pink wine in one fermenter.   The Baco noir that got picked and crushed on Friday is right next to it.   Every time you walk into the dining room you get a strong whiff of the yeasty winey gas that is bubbling off these two wines as they work.

That scent replaces the strong smell of tomatoes that you get when you walk in from outside.   While the guys were doing the grape/wine thing I went off to Mennonite country to acquire more tomatoes since ours aren’t producing that well due to the cool night temperatures.   We need a few more pints of tomato puree in the food room for winter use.  I found a good source and bought 50 pounds.   Two thirds of those have been run through the La Victoria strainer and are slowly evaporating down to puree, while the rest of them have been designated for roasting.   One batch of those has already been roasted, and the second batch is going into the oven.

It seems that we are going to float today.   It couldn’t be a more perfect day for it, what with the cloudless blue sky, lack of wind, and nice crisp temperatures.   There is a lot of water in the river too, as it rained a couple of inches last week.   It is pretty amazing to have this much water in the river in late August, but no one is complaining.  We are not that crazy about dragging our canoes over gravel bars.

Thinking about driving out to the access made me remember a conversation my beloved and I had a month ago.  We had already driven past one flattened out ex-animal and not been able to ascertain what it was.    We discussed it in passing.   I thought it might be a possum, but Jim thought it was too dark in color to be one.    Then we passed another one, and this one was obviously a possum, identifiable by the long naked tail.   But it too seemed awfully dark, and we both commented on this fact.

Now, I’m not going to get into what kind of relationship you have when you start having in-depth discussions about road kill.  However, I will just say that I have had conversations on that subject with several of my friends.  In fact, while I was in college I had friends who were very excited to receive any road kill you happened across since they were required to acquire dead animals, dissect them, and recover and identify all the different parasites that were inhabiting them for their parasitology lab.  Incidentally, I have been given to understand that this lab will ruin you for any but extremely well cooked meat, and sushi is right out.   But I digress.

As we drove along that day, we passed a third dead animal — another possum.

“Gee, it hasn’t been a very good week for possums, has it?”   I commented.

“Nope, it hasn’t,”  my Chauffeur Of the Day responded.   After a moment, he continued, “It seems like they are all a lot darker in color than I expect possums to be.”

I thought about that for a while.   “You are right.   I wonder if it is regional mutation.   Maybe they are better off not being quite so blond around here because of the soil type.”

We traveled another half mile before Jim said,   “I wonder if they change color.”

“You mean like the ermine, arctic foxes, snowshoe hares, and willow ptarmigans?”

“Yeah.   Like them.”

“I don’t see why not.  Possums need to be lighter in the winter too.”

Another quarter of a mile passed.   I could see that Jim was thinking deeply.    Finally he said, “How do those guys do it anyway?   I mean, do they change all their fur twice a year?”

I thought about it for a while,  and then I replied.   “No, I’m pretty sure they only shed their fur once a year, mostly in the spring, like dogs.   It comes in dark, and then when fall comes it changes color to the white color.”  I stopped and thought for a while.   “But I don’t really know.”

“What do you suppose makes it change to the light color?”

“Oh, I don’t know.   There’s probably some sort of signal.   Like day length.”

“Or maybe it’s temperature change.  Or nutritional.”

“It could be that the hair slowly bleaches out over the summer, and is showing uv damage.   Or it could be a hormonal signal.”

“Hmm.”    I could see he was thinking deeply some more, so I gazed out the window, watched a hawk circling in the distance.   A few minutes later, he opened the conversation again.   “There should be some sort of product that could take advantage of that.    A hair product.   You know how people like to be able to just take a pill to get things done.”

“You mean, like a pill that would make you blonde.”

“Yeah.   L’Oreal or Clairol should be working on it,  a temporary hair color.   You take the pill, and your hair changes to blonde.    Then after six weeks, it goes back to its original color over night, no roots, no messy dyes.”

“Wow, that’s a great idea!”   We were starting to riff on the advertising possibilities, putting on our best Ad Rep imitation voices.

“A new hair color process!”

“Be blonde for six weeks!  Just take this pill!”

“Side effects may include…” I began.   “What would the side effects be?   Oh yeah, let’s see.  ‘Unfortunately, it does that thing the mammals do.  You’re blonde for six weeks and then your hair all falls out.’  I can see the poor L’Oreal lab technician trying to explain this problem to the marketing department.  “But when it comes back in it is the original color!  There would be no roots problem.'”

“We’re working on it!”  my husband concluded the riff.

What price beauty?  Or at least blondeness.

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Photohunt: surprise

This weeks photohunter theme is “surprise.”

This is Mike, (RIP, Mike, I still miss you.)  hanging out by the pond.   He was surprised I could see him, he was hoping to surprise a bull frog.  As far as I can tell from the way cats eat bull frogs, we humans are missing a bet.   It is not the frog legs that are such a delicacy, it is the frog head.   At least, that is what my cats always eat when they catch a bull frog, they leave me headless frogs as a gift, eschewing the rest of the amphibian once the good part has been eaten.

Surprise!   There are no cats out here, really!


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T Shirt Friday

Nursemyra hosts an end of month tradition:  T-shirt Friday.   Other participants can be found listed on her blog.

This was one of my favorite t-shirts.   Alas, it has gone to the great t-shirt factory in the sky.  I acquired it in celebration of my experience of making an alignment with the fire element.   That’s a long story that I won’t get into here.


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The IT Guy is Back

Well, I retrieved the IT Guy from St. Louis last night.   As I mentioned in the comments section previously, he immediately ascertained that I was in none to good a humor, considering that I met him and said, “Hi dear.   I hate this fucking airport.   The signs are so confusing I always have to go around because I miss the damn  parking turn off.”

We went to dinner and he prescribed a margarita, which worked like a charm.   Then he drove us home.

This morning he got up bright and early, checked the sugar content on the Baco noir grapes and decided they are ready to pick.  Then he came in and talked to the computer for a while and managed to convince it that it could not only see the cameras again, but it could also find the pictures that were already loaded up onto it.    Now that is pretty cool, if  I say so myself, even though in the process we managed to lose the pictures I got early this morning of an immature Cooper’s hawk that was investigating the possibilities of the bird feeder.   She still had a little baby fluff at the back of her head and shoulders.   I was alerted to her presence by all the cursing and shrieking the jays were doing coupled with the worried chatter of the whole finch flock which had decamped to the elms for shelter.

In celebration of the fact that I have iPhoto again, I am prepared to delight you with a few shots I took today while I was out and about.

First off, the there are Monarch butterflies around.   I have caterpillars on my milkweed, and adults sipping nectar.   I liked this combination of the old and worn butterfly sitting on the tattered and worn zinnia.


Right near this zinnia, the sedums are opening, and the bees think that is peachy.



While I was taking pictures of the pollinators at work, I noticed how my thyme walk has progressed.   Just for fun, this is a picture of it taken shortly after I finished establishing the flagstones and planting the thyme.

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This is the same path, almost exactly one year later, taken today.


I was out by the pond and noticed that the big old fishing spider that had taken the pond as her hunting ground has had babies and they are doing quite nicely.


I know the arachnophobes might find that shot scary, but this one is the picture that scares me.


“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I hear you say.  “What is so darned scary about that?”

Look closely at that picture.    In the center there is a plant with purple flower clusters.   That is chocolate mint.  It has climbed about three feet up into the grapevines that dress that fence.   And if that doesn’t scare you, you’ve never had a garden taken over by mint.   I find it terrifying that the chocolate mint doesn’t just sprawl across the ground, it climbs too.

Hey, we’re going to have a thunderstorm.   Just in time, the Petite prairie needs to be watered.


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