Category Archives: Seasons

Hats Off

Husband owns and wears what I consider to be a large number of caps. He usually stores them in a plastic tub in the entry way. He displayed them on the dining room table for me so I could take the photo.

The ones in the back row have team, club, or university affiliations. The middle ones are work caps, since they are older and soiled around the sweat bands. The ones in the front row are his special collection of blue caps. He said he started wearing caps after he got a Pioneer Seed Corn hat from my father when we were in graduate school.

Every time he leaves the house, he has to have just the right cap. It has to coordinate with what shirt he is wearing and what activity he is going to engage in. He rarely leaves the house without one.

I don’t understand the purpose of these caps. I think they would be hot to wear in the summer and insufficiently warm in the winter. He is about to take the cap tub into the basement for the winter and get up his stocking caps. (Oh, he also has a blue wool one with ear flaps that he sometimes wears in the winter.)

They are oddly important to him. He says wearing a cap helps him pass in the world of men who work outdoors.  He also likes them as they protect him from the wind.  I don’t think he needs to justify wearing a cap. I just would be irritated with something like that on my head all the time.

 What fashion trend would you like to see return? What fashion trend did or do you abhor?

 

Artistic Differences

Our church has a large garden space meant for contemplation as well as growing vegetables for the local food pantry.  Yesterday was the Sunday we spend every fall engaging in community improvement projects instead of worshipping.  Husband and I and several other volunteers spent the morning getting the garden ready for winter.

Our pastor’s husband was instrumental in planning the layout of the garden and planting the flowers, shrubs, and trees when the garden was started five years ago. He helped clean up the garden today.  Mike is a  school administrator, but spent the early years of his marriage running a landscaping and tree service to support his wife through seminary.  He told me he is happiest climbing trees.  I realized today that he and I have very different ideas about gardens, as he is most concerned  about aesthetics, while I am far more practical.  He feels a garden should look beautiful even in the winter.  I just want everything trimmed so it looks neat and tidy and there isn’t so much cleanup needed in the spring

Mike  planted everbearing strawberries in garden when it was new. They bear nicely and the children love searching for strawberries after Sunday services.  Husband and his girl scout gardening sidekick gave lots to the domestic violence shelter all summer.  Mike was in a quandary today, as the strawberries are growing all over the place amongst the flowers and shrubs, and don’t look as neat as when they were first planted. He wanted to trim them all up and cut them back. I thought we should leave them so we could continue to have enough for the children and for the shelter.  We compromised by his trimming back the messiest ones and leaving the rest spread free and unfettered.

I am a firm believer in trimming irises and day lilies in the fall. Mike knew they had to be trimmed but lamented that the daylily foliage still looked so nice, and it was a shame to cut it down. I reminded him how disgusting and slimey the foliage was when it froze and rotted.  We both agreed that the Monarda should be left untrimmed.  I like to leave it so the stems catch snow for moisture.  He likes to leave it because the dried flower heads are pretty in a winter garden. Same result, different philosophies.

When we were all done, the garden was cleaned up for winter. We all agreed it looks quite nice.  Many of the shrubs are turning red and the Michaelmas Daisies are blooming  profusely.  Children were finding lots of strawberries to eat. It was a good day.

How do you coexist with those with whom you have artistic or philosophical differences?

Bird Stuff that happens while we sleep

I really don’t know where and when I got interested in birds. I don’t consider myself a “birder” who has a list to check off of birds I’ve seen, though I do sometimes write down if I see a new one. And I try to identify the songs for as many as I can, with the help of the internet, and a book that contains a tiny tape recorder:  The Backyard Birdsong Guide.

I also like reading about birds – What the Robin Knows, H is for Hawk; Suburban Safari; One Wild Bird at a Time… (OK, I haven’t finished them all, but they’re under my roof.)

A friend has alerted me that end of September is an extremely good time to hear migrating birds flying (way) overhead at night:

Migration alert: high intensity migration predicted for the night of 28-29 September 2020

To quote from this 9/28 article by Andrew Farnsworth:

“We estimate that 594 million birds will take flight tonight across the contiguous. And there will be additional, similarly large flights, in the coming nights! This will likely represent one of the largest series of migration nights of the year for this contiguous US.

For those in areas under heavy migration advisories, this will be a great opportunity to experience nocturnal migration by listening at night to vocal birds in flight, or by observing the following morning for new arrival and departures. In the highly urbanized areas, especially cities in the central and southern US, it is also particularly important to turn off lights at night to avoid attracting birds into hazardous conditions in which they can collide with buildings and other structures.”

And here, in 24 seconds, you can see Nocturnal Migration Flows from January – December… it’s quite dramatic:

And from Colorado State University’s Aeroeco Lab, are US maps of migration forecasts for the next several nights:

https://aeroecolab.com/uslights

“Aeroecology is the study of airborne organisms and their utilization of the lower atmosphere (i.e. aerosphere).”

What connection/interest, if any, do you have with birds?

Is there a bird that you would go out of your way to see? … or get out of your bed to hear?

Frostbite

Covid or no covid, YA wants her traditions intact.  So at her urging, we hit the apple orchard over the weekend.  The orchard we go to is taking precautions – one of them is that you are no longer encouraged to have an apple as you pick.  Another is that instead of grabbing a slice from a bowl if you are tasting apple types prior to picking, you have to use a toothpick now to spear your slice.  Like usual there is a big whiteboard of what apples are available for picking and the prices.

At the very to of the board was a listing for “Frostbite”. Not a word you relish seeing mid-September, but I’d never heard of Frostbite apples before so it caught my attention.  Here is what the U of M ag site says about them:

Frostbite™ has been a key apple in the U of M’s breeding program since the 1920’s. It’s extreme cold hardiness and unique flavor make it an excellent apple to cross with other varieties. Frostbite™ is a parent to Keepsake and Sweet 16 apples and a grandparent to Honeycrisp.

I know that they breed apples but I have never thought of any produce being the parent or grandparent of another.  Fascinating.  We definitely sampled them – they were tangy but not as tart as a Granny Smith, maybe a little citrus-y?  When we said we’d like to pick some, the orchard gal said “we only have three trees” and explained where to find them.  The trees were full and the apples are on the small side but a deep red.  We got half a peck.

They are great with peanut butter and I used some of them in my slow cooker apple butter yesterday (along with my favorite, the Connell Red).

Apple Butter Beginnings

Have you tasted anything new lately? 

Power’s Out

I think it’s fair to say, now that it’s officially over, that the summer was unsettling to say the least.  It didn’t help that I tried to blow up the neighborhood.

I was sitting in my bedroom that morning, working on a file, when I heard a bang and saw a flash in the hallway out of the corner of my eye.  And the power immediately went out.  I rushed to the back of the house and although I could smell a little lingering smoke, I couldn’t see anything.  When I went downstairs and out to the backyard, all the other neighbors were out as well, checking to see what had happened; everyone had experienced the same thing, hearing the bang and seeing the flash.  Everything looked ok – no power lines down, no big blackened patches on garage roofs or yards.  And the smoke smell dissipated pretty quickly, so we texted the power company and wandered back inside our respective houses.

The power company showed up about an hour later.  I saw the lineman up at the power box two houses down; the power came on for about 10 seconds and then there was another bang and flash.  And again, the power left us.  Since I was standing in my backroom watching the power guy, I saw exactly where the flash came from – the power lines at the back of my yard.  It gave me a sick feeling, quickly totting up the various worse-case scenarios.  The power guy must have seen it as well; he headed straight for my garage roof, I headed for the backyard.  After about 10 minutes of poking around with a long pole, he headed back to the line to reinstate the power.  This time it stayed on.

I couldn’t resist going to talk to him and was rewarded with a tale of exactly what had happened.  A branch had broken on one of my trees, but instead of falling into the yard, it had tipped over and connected two power lines, one at the top and one at the bottom of the branch.  That caused the first burst.  When the power was restored the first time, the branch was still in place, so it connected and exploded again.  After he poked the branch with the pole, it fell into the yard; with no more connection, no more issue.   It’s hard to see in the photo above, but the branch is all blackened and many of the leaves are dry and burnt.  I was so relieved that it hadn’t been anything horrible and/or expensive to repair, I fessed up to all the neighbors that my tree was the guilty party.

When was the last time you had to have a repair person to your place?

Surviving 2020

Last Friday here on the Trail, right after it was learned that a hero named Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, the comments shifted, from musicals and the fires out West, to her passing:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. That is so difficult to accept.

Now it all gets surreal.

I was so sure she would simply refuse to die with 45 in office.

…I feel just hollowed out by this.

This news comes on the heels of the devastating fires in (mostly) California and Oregon; the crippled economy and school system; continued protests, violence, and looting in some cities following several instances of police brutality and murder, particularly to people of color – all this as we still struggle with the isolation and loss of life from Covid 19.

The next comment pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling as this 2020 election approaches:

…Someone close to me is having such a bad time with political events she is seeking medical help. I’m struggling too, relatively speaking. These are difficult times.

The anniversary of our son’s death was last Sunday, 9/13, and I hardly acknowledged it. Then I felt guilty for not feeling the usual grief, not doing something special to mark the day, and suddenly realized – I’m already feeling so much of a different kind of grief, it didn’t occur to me to pile any more on.

Mostly, I’ve been grieving for the country and culture I thought I knew, and thought I was living in… the place where people can feel strongly about something, but can agree to disagree, and still live and work side by side. The place where we can still respect each other and treat other civilly even when we’re totally at odds.

The level of vitriol and hateful speech that has come out, for example, over whether or not masks are worn leaves me speechless. I’ve found myself shying away from Facebook because of what I might find there. (I’ve refrained from Unfriending a couple of acquaintances from “the other side”, to see if I can figure out how they think.) I frequently run into something so nasty it makes me want to cry, for the person who posted it as much as for those of us liberals or Demon-crats it’s aimed at. I don’t want to totally give up FB because I also, at times, find very beautiful or funny things there.

So I hang out with like-minded people or baboons whenever possible. I’d like to pick your brains a bit – could be in your own words or someone else’s, could be poetry, jokes, stories, music, art … anything: 

Do you have any words of wisdom about how we all hang on till we’re through it, whatever “it” is?

Chez Abattoir

I’m starting to feel like our animals are staging their own production of Sweeney Todd around here.

Guinevere is fast.  Really fast.  No squirrels yet but she’s way into double digits with rabbits and chipmunks.  Last week when I called her in at the end of the night, she wouldn’t come.  I looked out into the yard and saw a large furry lump that Guinevere was clearly guarding.  It looked too big to be a rabbit so I slowly made my way out.  It was a possum.  It didn’t look alive but then I remembered that old phrase “playing possum” and wondered if maybe it was really alive.  YA was out at that point and we managed to catch Guinevere and take her inside.  YA stayed in the yard (taking pictures) and within a minute the possum had raised its head and looked around.  Within 20 minutes it had moved to the very back of the yard.  In the morning, before we let the dog out, we checked and the possum was gone.  We figure that it wasn’t injured, but putting on a good show to throw the dog off.

Nimue is also on the rampage.  It’s that time of year when mice try to find a warmer spot (apparently a mouse can get in a hole that is half the size of a dime) and this year is not exception.  Like most cats, Nimue isn’t even remotely interested in the mice after she’s chased them around and then killed them, but it does mean that I’ve come downstairs in the morning to find the little lifeless bodies – several of them in the last week.  Unfortunately, when the cat gets busy during the night, the dog thinks she needs to go down to see what fun is being had without her.  Then there is barking and some mess making.  The last couple of nights, we’ve put up the gate at the top of the stairs to keep the dog from joining the mayhem.

Usually the mouse situation is a short term issue… in a couple of weeks, the mice will have found a warmer spot and the cat will stop leaving us little gifts. The backyard?  It will remain an abattoir as long as Guinevere on guard!

What’s the last musical you’ve seen?

Jump Start

Back in March and April, when we thought life might be back to “normal” by now and before I got hit by the furlough, I was thinking I would be very very busy at work this fall.  I had my regular programs that normally run in October and November.  Then I had five programs that should have run in the spring and were postponing until autumn as well.  In an effort to not be crazy, I thought maybe I should ramp up my holiday projects, so I wouldn’t have them hanging over me if I was insane at work.

Luckily I had already identified my theme for 2020; this is probably a good idea because at this point I might be choosing toilet paper to represent this bummer of a year!  So I ordered a few supplies that I needed and got down to work.  First I did the Ukrainian eggs (two weeks), then I worked on my Solstice cards (three weeks).

Then I got furloughed and could have put everything else off but decided to forge ahead.  The last big project is my calendar.  I get a download from one of my favorite craft companies and then decorate each page, add pretty papers and eyelets.  The pretty papers turned out to be a problem.  By the time I was ready to work on the calendars, all the craft shops around here had closed their doors .  I tried to find papers online but it was just impossible to search out everything I needed.  I just had to wait until I could get the paper in person.

I’ve been working on the calendar pages for about a month now – been stringing it out and filling in between other projects.  But yesterday, I finished up December and got all the eyelets added!  Woo hoo.  I always like to be ahead of the game with my holiday projects but I’ve definitely set a record this year.  And even if I do get called back to work, all my fall programs appear to be postponing again to next spring.  Maybe I’ll do the holiday baking early too…. I could use cookies about now!

Any projects that you’re ahead of schedule on this year?

Freeze Warning

The earliest 28° frost/freeze where we live can occur any time between late August to late September. Last Friday, the National Weather Service warned us that a killing freeze/frost could occur Monday and Tuesday nights, September 7 and 8. That is pretty early,  and all the signs were indicative of this calamity.

On Sunday, Husband and I harvested all the chard, green and red New Mexico peppers, red sweet peppers, and  any tomato that showed any inclination of ripening indoors. (Tomatoes that have been subjected to a frost when they are still on the vine should not be canned. It produces some enzyme that is contrary to safe canning.) That meant a trip to several  local liquor stores to get boxes for ripening tomatoes, as well as a search for canning jars. (There are no canning jars to be had in our town now, as everyone was scrambling to save their garden produce, too. )

We spent Monday figuring out how to maximize the canning jars and lids we still had, and to cook up  a couple dozen chili peppers for enchilada sauce. We covered bean poles with comforters and blankets, and also covered  pepper plants  and  cantelopes with old table cloths and a large tarp. So much for a restful Labor Day Weekend.

Tuesday morning dawned with frost covered roofs and droopy tomato plants. Similar cold temperatures are predicted for Tuesday evening, so we will leave everything covered until Wednesday. By then, warmer evening temperatures are predicted.

When has the weather changed your plans?

 

Swinging

While walking yesterday, I passed by two boys playing on a tree swing in their front yard – a big yard on a corner.  One boy would sit on the swing, pull it back and then both boys would yell “Three, Two, One”.  Then the first boy would push off in a big arc and the second boy would try to hit him with a large rubber ball.  I guess the countdown was to try to even the odds… hitting the swinging boy looked nigh on impossible.  I pretended to do a doggie clean up so I could watch them a little while longer.  They were about 10 and having a terrific time.

I know that most of us remember playing like this as kids.  One of the games that we neighborhood kids made up when I was in third/fourth grade was called “Dragoons” (yes, spelled the way we pronounced it – no memory of how we came up with this name).  As horrifying as it sounds to my adult ears, we played this after the sun went down in the summer; as soon as we saw a car approaching, we would dart across the street.  If the car lights actually illuminated you, then you had been “dragooned” and had to sit out for a bit.   It wasn’t really a game of chicken, because you were supposed to be well clear of the lights — it probably wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds although I’m pretty sure I never told my mother we were doing this.  I don’t remember any close calls that summer and truth be told, it wasn’t a busy street.

Do you recall a favorite childhood game?  Anything you made up?