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Archive for June, 2010

Honestly, I like bunnies. They are cute, cuddly, nibbling pellet poopers. They also cover a very important ecological niche and are a fabulous earth-symbol of Summer and Spring fertility.

Several years ago my hand was forced and I had to go and get live traps for the feral cat population in my neighborhood: Seven cats in five weeks. Well… now I know what was keeping the rabbits back. Friday I go to bed with green beans growing up my mesh trellis, beets poking up against all odds, and the last of the spring lettuce still green and perky. Saturday I stepped out to pull up weeds and, except for the squash, EVERYTHING was nibbled to the base stalk. Everything. Poof, gone. I had no idea one rabbit could eat so much in one night.

I admit to being a suburban girl so I even took out a book of animal tracks and checked: Yep, rabbit. Plus the collie dog, our fuzzy princess, has been sniffing around the back yard a whole lot more than normal. She probably wants to play with the bunny and thinks it is a strange smelling cat-buddy; she too is a suburban girl.

The book I used is called Tracks and Trailcraft by Ellsworth Jaeger. It claims to be an expert guide for the forest, field, barnyard, and back yard. The best part is it even has track and trail signs for jaguar, moose, and gorilla. I will definitely let you know when I find gorilla tracks in my chunk of suburbia.

The best part of this book though is that it cost almost nothing as we got it at a book sale from our local county library. I absolutely love finding strange and different books at these sales even though the last day is an absolute crush and often over shadowed by used book vendors telling their kids “it doesn’t matter. Just start putting everything in the box.” Those people that I love are usually hanging out in the true crime and mystery section. A bevy of chatty woman going up and down the isles, offering advise on books and authors and acting as though we were all long lost best friends. Plus the volunteers are always the friendliest of folks. My hats off to all of you die hard book lovers who stand for three hours with me and never fail to be friendly and polite: Thanks and see you again this fall.

The Summer Solstice came on Monday so summer is officially here. Now is time to do my Summer-Rock-Dance and hope that a random road cut showers crystals on me when I stop to look. Nothing is more strange than pulling over to the side of the road, getting out of the car while avoiding traffic, and walking through construction dirt with my skirt hem in my hands because I was on the way to the grocery store. So far I can promise you my local area has lots and lots of sand and really cute field stones.

Most of my fellow rock hounds look funny at me but I have found something nifty. Near my home I have discovered quartz rock that is formed with Iron concretions. Heavy and kinda ugly even for a rock, these are still really cool. What a testament to the early formation of our area. Plus right besides the iron-ish quartz (no I do not mean iron stained ) are stones that are very easily cracked open, rather eroded and crumbly. They are composed mostly of small black needle like mineral pieces. Not rutile or schorl which is a pity, it is mineralized Cypress mulch from a very prehistoric forest and swampy area. Gotta love it when you can knock on someones door at work and in five minutes have an ancient piece of history identified.

For know I must leave you my Faithful Reader for I go to look up plants for next year’s garden. I have decided to take Mother Natures hint and go for flowers and herbs next year.

Be Well.

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Hello, to the one other person who reads this,

I know you’re out there and am glad that my rambling and moody sayings have not sent you running.

The new exhibit is ready to go here in the Triangle at The Raleigh Museum of Natural sciences.  It is Glow: Living Lights.  It talks about the animals that are bioluminescent like fish of the deep dark seas and terrestrial critters that fly in the night sky and crawl in the dark.  So cool and the exhibit is well done.  Frankly, half of what I look for now is how easy was the exhibit to install and how easy is it to clean.

My boss is honestly one of the best people to work for and has put together an educational class room with next to no money.  There is almost a feeling of community as we all search our homes and attics for items that will work in the exhibit.  Attention all people who think the class room belongs to you because you pay taxes:  Most of these items are personally donated by staff or purchased with private money.  No you may not put that toy in your pocket or let your child chew on that book. (Thank you, I had to get that out of my system ’cause yes this does happen.)

For all of you seamstresses, crafters, doll makers, medievalists, embroiderers, and sewing enthusiasts I want to tell you about a FANTASTIC company I ran across by accident, proving serendipity does occur.

http://celtictrims.com/

These folks offer an incredibly creative and well made product.  They are lively and fun at their web site and their e-mails are actually very informative.  I have ended up archiving a lot of the e-mails for future reference. This is one of those home grown companies that cares about their suppliers and makes an effort to be accessible to the common public.

In fact… drum roll:Brrrrr rrr pa,pa pum!  Lets get a projct finished!  Yes, indeedy with Summer about to hit and hit hard for all of us, while we shelter inside with the AC lets get a project finished.  I know they are out there; tucked away in bags and boxes half finished and kinda sad looking waiting to become a necklace, a quilt, a dress, or finished sampler.  My challenge to you is to clean out just one corner of the crafts room (one corner is enough for days in my experiance) and pick a reasonable project to finish.  Yes we all dream of that lovely silk on silk embroidery or another crazy quilt to name and frame but that scarf needs to get done or the doll dress embellished before little Suzy turns fifteen.

And now I’m back down to one.  Cut worms will eat Moonglow Brughmansia and I hope the little bastards choked on every leaf.  I had a well meaning and dear friend suggest waiting at night with a flash light and wating for the bug to crawl up the stem so they can be pulled off.  Yay.  I would like to suggets two other avenues that work and don’t require garden sitting at two in the morning.  A twist tie around the emerging stalk will deter the little worms untill they either change or the plant gets too big; just make sure the twisty tie is down low enough to the soil and is loosened over time or the stem gets choked.  I also recommend Dipell when desperation sets in.

June skies not only bring down the faithful Orion but show up the Dippers, Arcturus, and the Bootes meteor showers.  June 23rd the Bootes meteor showers will be at there best in the Northwest sky.  That means after the sun has set by about an hour the meteors will show up just about above the handle of the Big Dipper.  Arcturus is just to the left of the handle and forms the bottom of The Herdsman Bootes.  Please enjoy some of life’s small pleasures and try to see this phenomena.

Please,

Be assured of a new season to come and

Be Well.

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Hello Gentle Readers,

My Moonglow brughmansia came up two days ago!  What a wonderful testament to the life of Spring and yes even Summer.  I had given up on the two little guys and thought them dead but the sprouts poked up between the rocks in my zero scape.  Once again the little leaves can reach for the sun and and try to thrive in the Southern Heat.  I like to think that this gives me a point over the sandy and rather barren front yard.

Often we come across folk wisdom that is more right than one can say and this is very accurate with the science of air pressure behind it:

For June:  Bats flying late in the evening the weather be fair  but thunder is coming if the bird’s song is not there.

If I were a bat flying in the rain would be scary; I imagine it would be like seeing hundreds of parts of the sky just falling and none of it you can eat.  Birds in general unless your a Junko do not like wet feathers so they quiet down before severe weather,  I remember about two years ago there was a small tornado, more like just a down spout, but it hit about half a mile from my house.  Besides having a Velcro puppy and two cats under couch cushions there was not a bird sound or stray squirrel to be had.

I would like to share a wonderful and older recipe with everyone that is amazingly easy to make and not too sugary.  I tried it sceptically around Winter a while back and found it to be rather tasty.  This cake is a lovely reminder of when sugar and spices were rare and a fine treat.

ELECTION DAY CAKE

Well before our country gained its independence, colonial housewives were making special cakes to celebrate the democratic ideals of their new homeland. This recipe has been adapted for modern kitchens.

Yield: Makes 12 to 16 servings

Cake and Icing

  • 2 packages active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons each)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degreesF)
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups sifted flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup margarine or butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup chopped citron (candied)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of salt

For Cake: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water; stir to dissolve. Add 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 1/2 cups flour and beat well by hand, or for 2 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed. Cover and let rise in a warm place until bubbly, about 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, cream the margarine (or butter) and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Set aside. Sift the remaining 3 cups of flour with the salt, cinnamon, cloves, mace, and nutmeg. When the yeast mixture is bubbly, add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well. Combine with the yeast mixture. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, beating with a spoon after each addition. Beat until smooth. Stir in the raisins, currants, citron, and nuts. Pour into a well-greased and -floured 10-inch tube pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Bake at 375°F for about 1 hour. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a rack to finish cooling. While slightly warm, spread with confectioners’ sugar icing.

For Icing: In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar with enough milk to make a mixture of spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and salt and stir until smooth.

I also want to tell you about fun recipes for birds but woe be to any one who mixes the bird seed and suet with Election Day Cake.  So there are other things for other days.

Soon the night will be alive with the glow of fire flies and soothing us with cooler breezes than the sun drenched day.  Enjoy the stars as they share the darkness with the soft glowing moon.  Try and find a peace with the shadows and remember that those little fire flies are reminding us that the star light wishes it could come out and play.

Be Well

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Any body want some rain? How about just a cloud or two? For almost three weeks now we have been having rain and its accompanying storms. These Summer storms are the quick grumbling type that swoop down on an area, delivering buckets of rain and overcast skies then leaving as quickly. Set out your cisterns and rain barrels because I still feel that they will be needed as Summer comes on.

I was not able to got to Rising Fawn Georgia to collect coal fossils and wasn’t able to make it to the Aurora Fossil Festival either. My life is almost rock less right now and that is a terrible thing to have to bear. I did go to collect some Savannah river agate but only picked up a few buckets. (Four to be exact and for that place four buckets is a drop in very deep hole.) Happily my Dearest Beloved decided to humor me and we went to a place in Durham that is close by. I was honestly expecting to got and poke around a lot of mud, tell my sweety thank you anyways, and then go home. The collecting site had been planned as the back half of a small starter home community and I feel pretty certain that most local rock hounds have given it up as developed and paved over.   Luckily for me the back half was finished besides putting in sewer lines. Within a year the planned roads, marked lots, and drainage burms have become lone eroded paths with tall grass and intermittent weeds. Unwanted construction supplies are in a pile near a token gate but the back half has been abandoned to the deer and occasional fox or coyote. Agatised wood and petrified wood was popping up all over the old paths and lot edges. I of course had a trusty plastic bucket in the car trunk. Rock hound magic occurred. No I didn’t find a petrified tree stump or a small boulder for my front garden but the stones showed up everywhere and the end of a rather bland Memorial Day turned into a loving and fruitful collecting with my sweety.

Most of the agate from Durham is this rather odd mustard and liver color that while lovely and filled with swirls and pips of other brown and murky yellow colors is not really prized by local collectors. While not all of us can find petrified stumps (yes I am still enviously ticked off) I did find some pieces that were semi translucent black and semi opaque red. This material is so mottled and dense with color that turning these into cabs will be an adventure and create one of a kind jewelry from a very small and limited area. (The brown stuff will even be lovely. For aren’t all rocks lovely? Their curves, their colors, the depth and intensity of their lines and shapes?)

Hurricane Season starts today. Normally I shrug my shoulders and go on with my day, hurricane shmuricane but not this time. Several days ago I just had that “feeling” that the weather for hurricanes would not be good this year. They are calling for 13 to 23 storms this year. (I’ll admit that right now our biggest concern is any high winds. The soil in NC is so saturated that trees and river banks could go with little effort on Mother Nature’s part.) What will truly wory me is storm fronts or “movement” coming from the ocean. I do not know when the storms will come or if they will dissipate before making it to the Piedmont but I think they will make it to our coast.

The saddest news right now beyond the dispare created from just being human is the continued oil spill. There was seismic activity before the rupture and activity after that led to darker and muckier goo coming out: What in the world makes them think they can fight seismic pressure with a top fill attempt? My heart goes out to the old, proud, and sinking city of New Orleans. Such a lovely brew of joy and tears being choked by oil and foolishness. Levied and walled as she may be we can only pray that the power of the great Muddy Mother the Mighty Mississippi will prevale.

The whole wetlands along the coast is a vital part of the natural world and now with the petrol floating in not only will the coast suffer but the effects of this will move inland. As the destroyed wetlands are unable to do their job the soil and land quality inland will start to suffer. Of course a hurricane could be very not good but the long term effects are very worrisome. I imagine lots of fish, turtles, and shore birds getting little wings and halos and of course they follow behind the men who died in the initial explosion.

I found a wickedly fun web site on face book: The Gothic Tea Society. It’s a site for Goths and people who are buffs of the culturally bizarre and unusual. They actually mentioned the old Bannerman Castle that sits on an island in the Hudson River. This is a very strange place and the actual creation of the castle and its creator are even stranger. Some how I just know that Miskatonic University takes their field trips their.

With all this rain the cactus in my yard are flowering! Huge palm sized yellow flowers that are so lovely and unexpected in my sandy patch of gravel. I can’t wait for more plants to grow and sprout flowers. Now if we can only keep the teenagers who live behind us from walking over the flower beds and our yard in general. Perhaps they will walk into a cactus, I would have little pity for them as the cactus and succulents are not exactly hidden.

The sun is finally starting to lower itself in to the horizon, it will be dark in a few more hours. The air is quiet and still, heavy with the rains we just had. Even the squirrels are quiet, waiting for the world to dry out and the birds to sing again. The dying light is a creamy, pale. yellow against the lush green leaves and tired blue sky.

Be safe and be well tonight.
Sleep tight.

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