Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012


This fascinating book by Charles C. Mann book uses new evidence and recent scholarship to paint a vivid picture of the Americas -- pre-1492.

There is so much  information ( you can read a good summary HERE)  that is new and startling ( to me, at least) that I'll just note three of the points that surprised me.

One: When European settlers arrived, they found a sparsely populated land -- not realizing that  diseases brought by explorers many years before had wiped out at many as 10 million natives in North America and many more than that in Central and South America.

Two: What seemed to those settlers like virgin land had, in fact, been shaped by thousands of years of occupation and manipulation -- fires to open up areas for grazing animals being one example.

Three: I know, of course, about the cities of the Aztec and Maya in Mexico and Central America, as well as those of the Inca in Peru. But I didn't know that, in what is now Illinois, in the 1100s there was a city of fifteen thousand people that covered five square miles -- larger than London at the same time.  Check out Cahokia
There's so much more -- and so much to think about. When I remember what the textbooks of my youth had to say about the original inhabitants, I am once more reminded that what we're  taught in school isn't necessarily true.

And talk about illegal immigration. . .
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Friday, April 27, 2012

New Ways of Seeing...

Exploring Picasa's potential . . .  infrared curly hazelnut. . .

The front porch, a la pencil sketch and vignette... 

Rhubard with the neon treatment...

A posterized amaryllis and a vignetted iris.
Infinite possibilities. . .
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

At Random

Everywhere I turn, I see a picture -- opulent trusses of rhododendron ...

Jaunty male goldfinches in courting plumage . . .

A complacent little garter snake digesting a meal. . .
(See the bulge on the left in the picture above!) 

Normally he would have slid away on seeing me but he was too full of field mouse to move.

And then there was this -- our quiet little road suddenly has not one but TWO stop lights! One on either side of the little bridge that's being repaired.
Oh, we feel so sophisticated!  
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012


On my way to  do some shopping,  I was kind of stunned by what I saw in the sky . . .

Or possibly lenticular clouds ...

On the way back home, the spaceships were gone, but I had to stop and get a picture of what I think is the shiny roof of our house in the distance 

And more clouds. . . and more. . .
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blackberry Winter

The hillsides are white with blackberry blooms . . . and the temperatures have dropped into the thirties. Sleet fell -- snow in the higher elevations.  

This sort of late cold snap happens often enough that there's a name for it -- Blackberry Winter. Kind of like Indian Summer, but in reverse.

So we light a fire; I make soup for lunch and contemplate baking a comforting pound cake. . .
But first I bring in the tender potted plants that were on the porch . . .

Hoping that the rhododendrons and other pretty bloomers make it through the low temperatures predicted for tonight . . .
We'll see. . .
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Farm Update

 Justin and Claui have acquired a small flock of Banty-cross chickens.  We were all enjoying watching them running free but, alas, then a fox showed up.  Bold as brass and in the daytime. 

There were no casualties but some close calls (Clover, the Jersey calf) chased the fox off once when it came into the pasture in pursuit of a bird) and now the biddies are confined in  a chicken tractor while Justin constructs a secure chicken yard.

The chicks we brought home last month have feathered out and are venturing into their electric fence protected run. We're pretty sure that the white ones are layers of some sort, not the Cornish Rock broilers we had feared they might be.
The white ones are supposedly all pullets (females) but the brown ones are straight run -- which means a mix . . .

It's hard to tell just yet -- the roosters tend to stand a little taller and look gawkier. But pretty soon their combs will develop and it'll become obvious. At which point, kind-hearted readers, most, if not all will go into the freezer.  

We already have a rooster with our laying flock and sad experience has shown that two roosters in an enclosed run will fight. Daily. Till one is dead. 
The three bottle-fed calfies --Dexter, Xena, and Clover -- are all weaned now but they still like to hang out in the barn with Ruby, our tenant's mare. 
Clover's ready for her close-up.
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