Category Archives: animals

Snow and Birds

On the way up to Pippin’s place this week I stopped in to see my friend Myriah. She lives in a low mountain region where the street names are Quail, Pine, and Towhee. Tall conifers fill all the yards in her neighborhood.

But I didn’t spend any time outdoors that afternoon, because of drenching rain. We stayed inside and I got to meet her miniature parrots that I think are called parrotlets.

She gave me bags full of fabric from a gift that an elderly friend had made to her. I don’t know how I will manage to make use of it–yet. But I got ideas, looking at her inspiring quilts.

Driving down to the valley again, I came into sunshine, and the air was warmer. Then at Lake Shasta, fuller than I have ever seen it, buckets of rain made driving hard at any speed. It was awfully cold here at my destination, but it didn’t snow, until this afternoon. Light slushy snow, then what Pippin calls popcorn snow, a sort of cross between hail and snow. This is a view from across the street; it’s only dark because of the clouds.

The snow paused for a spell, and birds came to the feeder! I didn’t see them, of course, until Pippin pointed them out to me, just a few feet on the other side of the window above my sinkful of dishes. We took pictures of the Black-Headed Grosbeak and the Mountain Chickadee. The Grosbeak was a bird she hadn’t seen before this spring.

My daughter and husband haven’t lived here a full year, so every time something comes into bloom or loses its leaves it is an event. Everything was so different at my first two visits especially.

The crabapple trees in front are covered in flowers now.
And one of the birches uprooted in the very rough winter.

I’m wondering if this is a quince brightening up the roadside.

 

 

 

 

I built a fire in the stove this morning, as it was colder than yesterday. And the cats seemed to enjoy it. They slept in nooks and crannies all around the warm room.

 

 

 

 

Pippin made us some kale chips tonight. I’m not sure I’d ever have tried them if she hadn’t demonstrated how easy they are:

Take a bunch of kale, wash it and tear approximately 2″ pieces off the stalk. Dry them in a towel or salad spinner, and put them in a bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake in a 350° oven for about 12 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

She thinks you should try to cook the kale on parchment paper as her original recipe directs, but she hasn’t always done this. The kale comes out looking brownish-green, but it is crispy and light and flavorful. One person could easily eat a whole bunch this way. We don’t know how much of the nutrient value is retained, and I haven’t researched what anyone else says about that.

When I get home again I will be in the midst of the disarray that seeps into my mind and makes me incapable of writing more than one coherent sentence per day. It’s been nice to relax away from the home that is not homey, and play with Little Scout, who’s seven months old now and lots of fun. While he napped I read and wrote, and even laid away a draft for a little blog I can post later if I feel like it.

May Miscellany

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about all the various goings-on in my life lately, but haven’t found a way to write all the loose ends together.

One dumb idea was to use the theme of Lines or Separations, Old and New. Oh, my, that was unwieldy. But a few pictures that I found might have worked with that theme.

In the back yard pool the plumbing got completely blocked with matted spruce needles from the neighbors’ tree. We had to call a repairman, but by the time he arrived and blew out the plug with CO2, B. had mentioned our problem to the neighbors and they cut down the tree! I hope they will finish off the tall stump soon.

Even now this oak hardwood is being turned into floors in our house, but I took the photo when it was sitting in the family room acclimating for two weeks.

I noticed how the lines of iron railing make an X over the stairs, as though to signify that they will not exist in their same form after they get some of that beautiful oak covering them. But in the meantime my elbow complained from pulling staples out.

The most troublesome line of all is this one, below, on the ceiling that flows without a border from the family room into the kitchen. The kitchen has satin paint but the family room has flat paint. I’ve been working hard, on a ladder several times with a brush or a little roller, painstakingly trying to get a straight line between the old textured kitchen surface and the new smooth family room ceiling. I’m not yet finished, but I hope all that’s left is to roll once more some flat paint on the family room side.

It never occurred to me to have a complete hiatus in my doll-making efforts. I wanted some wool for stuffing the dolls. It is a long story, and I can’t decide if it is horrible or hilarious, but in any case it is too painful to tell, how I ended up with ten pounds of raw and dirty sheep’s wool that is so full of foxtails that no one would believe it. Nature Girl says that if one wants foxtail-free wool one probably has to get it somewhere besides California. But I’m not asking for that; I’d just like some 90% cleaner than what I got this time.

My first picture of the wool shows it at its most appealing. If you click on the photo you can see close up the lines of golden lanolin.

I have spent hours pulling out foxtails, and I thought I got them all out before washing it, during the skirting process, but afterward I discovered a million more, and that was just in a pound or two of the wool. The next two pictures show my post-washing sorting project, and a wad of stickers I removed with wool fibers still clinging. Now I have to wash it again to get out the dirt that the hidden foxtails held on to through the first three washings.

Before I leave this topic, I have to say that I love the wool, even though I got a bad batch. Working with it before washing, I couldn’t stop sniffing at my hands with the good-smelling lanolin on them, and they felt so soft, too. Now that the lanolin is out, the wool is white and fluffy where it isn’t still dirty. Makes me think that spinning would be satisfying, too. 

When I had my new stove functioning for two weeks I baked the last of the butternut squash from last summer.

And now that the stove is in the living room while the floors are being laid, I ran over to Wal-Mart and bought a GE electric kettle so I can make tea. That’s it sitting on the new kitchen counter.

Since I didn’t want to be in the way of the floor guys, I spent a long time at church one day, making communion bread, taking inventory in the bookstore, and removing several monster wheelbarrow loads of a pretty plant that had taken over one perennial bed.

When the plant is blooming, you get an impression of purple at the tips, but they droop down a bit, so it’s vague and not eye-catching. When I cleaned up some of the mess I found these flowers that had fallen off, lying on the blacktop like flower candycorn.

May has been mostly cold and wet, with a few sunny and warm hours to encourage seeds to sprout. The gardens have some lush growth of certain plants, and the largest snails I have ever seen. I was able to fit in another trip to see Seventh Grandson, and as I type he is sitting on The Quilt playing with his toys.

Doesn’t the Bible say something about lines falling in pleasant places? I could have used that verse, wherever it is, if I’d made this post all about lines.


Kindly or Beastly

My raccoon friend hasn’t been around lately, that I’ve seen. And most of the wandering cats have been scarce, now that Blackie has marked the back yard and comes several times a day to see if anything is in the bowl. Actually, Blackie is now only his nickname, and his real name is now Jim, after Huckleberry Finn’s fugitive friend.

I’m surprised at myself, calling that ‘coon My Friend. But when I first blogged about him, Janet at Across the Page told me about the book at left, which I promptly ordered and have received.

It tells about a lady who is generous toward a mendicant raccoon, and later is the happy recipient of an inadvertent good deed (is that an oxymoron?) performed by the beast.

I admit it made me think more kindly of the fellow I saw, though he is as big as a bear. Some people have cautioned that raccoons wandering about in daylight might carry rabies. But others have said it is a myth that raccoons are primarily night animals. They are perfectly healthy and happy foraging in the daytime.

Lately I’ve been waiting for Jim to show himself before I put anything in the bowl–mostly to avoid feeding the raccoon. Since I do live in suburbia, I suppose my neighbors would not appreciate it if I were to start encouraging woodland creatures to visit more than they already do. Raccoons are cute, but those opossums that might follow after are hideous.