Thursday, August 30, 2007


Exactly one month before my husband and I got married, which by the way was 21 years ago today, I called Mr. W and asked, "Can you pick me up from work, today? I have something to show you." I did indeed have something to show him - the person with whom I would soon be sharing a life and home, the person with whom I needed to be most honest, the person who I knew didn't like inside cats and was a tad bit allergic.

When he arrived, I took him through the waiting room of the animal hospital in which I worked, through the exam rooms, past the surgery, and into the hospital. I opened the door to a cage, picked up a tiny kitten, put it on his chest at which point the kitten attached himself, then said, "Dr. S is going to kill this kitten if I don't take it home today." He took the kitten home.

The kitten apparently mewled loudly once the lights were turned off for the evening until it found its way into the bedroom and climbed into bed with Mr. W, who doesn't like inside cats and is somewhat allergic. After finding a comfortable place on his pillow the kitten fell asleep for a few hours, after which time he got sick with an upset stomach in the bed of the man who doesn't particularly like cats.

After a tenuous beginning, Gridley, named for the circular stripes on his sides that made him look as if he had just jumped from the barbecue, quickly scratched out a place in our lives. He slept in our bed, entertained our friends with card tricks, and amused us with his peculiar ways. He was patient when the children picked him up by the head. He was patient when we were late with the victuals. He was patient when life made his position in the home sink to levels to which he was unaccustomed. He was patient when his litter box was a little dirtier than he liked. He was patient when someone was sitting in his favorite sun spot.

A few years ago, Gridley died of complications of old age, but every anniversary I think of him and also think about how lucky I was to find a man who is patient in a lot of the ways Gridley was.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Yep, Mississippi is ranked number one. The state desperately wanted to be number one at something. Yet, I doubt this is what they had in mind. We also rank way up the charts for infant mortality. The other day, I was reading the blog Kit Burns was Framed. He had that blonde Miss Teen USA contestant video posted. When I watched, all I could think was "Thank goodness she's not from Mississippi." You see we have this reputation to overcome. The reputation of being slow, backwards, prejudice, poorly educated, and stuck in the past.

While there are slow, backwards, prejudice, poorly educated, and stuck in the past people here, looking only at those people without seeing the rest of the population leaves a less than truthful picture of us. Yet, when media is in the area, those are the people who get in front of the camera or quoted. Then, we have the problem of movies reminding us of our past and teaching others who normally wouldn't have a clue. It took months after Mississippi Burning was released for me to be able to talk freely when living in Chicago. People accosted us in restaurants and theaters when they heard our accents just dying for us to confirm the movie. "Is it like that?" or "Do you know anyone in the Klan?", they asked. The idea that the movie was based on events in the 60s and focused on a limited population of people seemed evasive. We deserved some of the finger pointing since justice was not fully served in that case until recently, but I always looked around Chicago and felt the neighborhoods were more segregated than anything we produced here.

There were and are problems in Mississippi. I and most Mississippians will be the first to admit them. Yet, given a chance we will step up, take responsibility, and find ways to solve them. Add fat to that list.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No, You May Not Borrow My Pen

After seeing an article about the waste of half used plastic pens cluttering the environment and our homes, I, of course, looked around my home to see if we fell within the norm. I was horrified to find hundreds of the offending disposable pens purchased by some office supply fiend (me), donated by politicians and salesmen, and stolen borrowed from desks when I go to the office. I immediately issued an edict,
“No more pens will enter this house until every drop of ink is used from the pens we have.”
As usual, I spoke without really thinking about the difficulty of achieving the goal, but we did slow the flow. True, our little household doesn’t effect the demand for throw-away pens, but making an effort to rid our house felt good. The first thing I did was cull pens – ridding my life of frustration producing skip writers and ink gloppers. Then, we started using pens, determined to use one until no ink remained. Most of the pens were so poorly manufactured (counting on our inability to keep up with them or our preference for new) we never had the satisfaction of watching the ink sink to the end of the tube. Even though I did succumb to temptation and purchase the children some markers for their timeline and map work (I can’t punish my children for every hair brained idea I get), I haven’t purchased a pen in a year which is an amazing feat for someone who drools over/on/into the office supply catalog.

Until last week.

When I was getting ready to sign payroll checks, I couldn’t find a working pen other than a uni-ball vision elite with orange ink. The bank had already warned me against using orange, pink, and green ink (though I think it adds a happy touch) on the checks since it adds extra work because their scanners don’t capture nonstandard banking colors. I used one of the children’s markers, which is also probably non-bankish, and then purchased a delicious lapis blue fountain pen, hopefully made in the USA, and a bottle of luscious cocoa brown ink.

Now that I have this pen, I wonder why we have moved away from these wonderful, more permanent instruments; why anyone would sacrifice the feel of a nicely made pen and the flow of the perfect shade of cocoa ink flowing from the perfectly fine tipped nib. This may be my last blog entry. I'll do all my journaling on my 100% post consumer waste paper with my non-disposable fountain pen feeling good about my contribution to the environment while enjoying a luxury. Seriously, after a couple of days, I'm hooked.

It really only took one day to become hooked, but I did have to make a few minor adjustments to my desk habits. Learning to fill the reservoir with ink left me with a finger and thumb stained brown. I will also have to train myself to be more careful with my ice cold Tab unsweetened iced tea that has a tendency to perspire and leave unsightly brown blotches on my work. Other than those small annoyances that should be easily trained away, the conversion was easy. If I was a lefty, I might have to mirror write like Leonardo da Vinci did in his journals even though the ink appears to dry almost instantly, but since I'm not, I won't worry about it.

I'm done with disposable pens. Like line drying clothes, baking bread, and keeping bees and chickens, turning my back on this environmentally unfriendly habit is painless, even enjoyable. So, no. You may not borrow my pen because I only have one, not one hundred.


My view of the Lunar Eclipse was blocked by clouds. Funny. I go outside to not see the moon and I don't see the moon, and I am disappointed. I wanted a scarlet, sunset moon as promised. I'm not seriously complaining about the clouds. We need rain. And, more importantly, when the sun rises the clouds will block a bit of the heat. The clouds are only over the moon. I could see most of the stars. Doesn't seem quite fair.

My husband who told me not to wake him because of the cloud cover will get to say, "I told you so." Unfortunately, I let the screen door pop a few times during my reconnaissance missions. I wasn't being mean, it was really an accident. I think I'll go out one more time. You know, to let the chickens out.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bye-Bye Nice Blogger Award

Angela will rethink all those nice things she said about me after I say this, but I can't resist.

There is this ballet mom who talks constantly, and to make it worse she speaks in public address mode. She speaks to the room, across the room, to the adjoining studios. Her only volume is ear drum piercing loud. She has a better way to do everything. She has done everything more often and better. Even if you are talking privately to another mother or father she will listen in and start broadcasting her experience. Yesterday, I was taking advantage of the unpredictable audition wait time reading a book. A couple of mothers started talking quietly on the other side of me and BOOM!, the PA system was put into operation right across my head. I assumed that since I was obviously reading she would walk around the couch and move closer to the mothers to whom she was speaking. Not a chance, and I should have known since I have had the pleasure of listening to her squawk for a few years.

After giving up on common courtesy, I left my place on the couch, walked outside, and sat on the floor. I could still hear her. Then in spite of my best intentions, I got tickled thinking about those mothers left inside, who had no chance of politely escaping her recitation of her excellence, or her rage at whatever was inconveniencing that day.

Then, I felt terrible. She is obviously terribly lonely, wanting to be a part of a group, and feeling left out. I have been lonely and left out. I feel her pain. I have polished a few stories so that they show me in my best light. I should be embarrassed. Yet, I think I have always thought about others. Now I have a choice for the Nutcracker season, I can avoid her like the plague because her voice and demeanor are the equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard to my uninterested ears, or I can try to be nice and listen patiently nodding at all the appropriate moments in feigned agreement while she squawks so perhaps she will feel better about herself.

What tack would you take?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Different Look

Princess, my 8 year old girl, has had a big week of changes. She moved up to a new more challenging ballet class with the "scary, yapping"(her description) ballet director as her teacher, auditioned for The Nutcracker, and had 10 inches of her hair cut for donation to Locks of Love (her idea, not mine).

I'm proud of my baby for wanting to give to less fortunate children, but I liked her hair long. Sure, it is more trouble long, but she handles her hair grooming now except for ballet buns. I was afraid she would look older with short hair and I knew that producing that regulation, slicked bun for ballet would be more difficult with shoulder length hair. I didn't push her to keep it long, though. I only reminded her and her stylist of the ballet company's hair rules. Princess said, "Mom, I can just slick it and get some of that fake hair." I asked, "Why should you cut your hair and then run out to buy someone else's?" She said, "Those little girls need hair to feel pretty." Hair cut. L, the hair stylist, kept the front a little longer for me and suggested starting the bun with duel pony tails.

I was right, though. She does look older which is a little sad. Also, this morning's audition bun left much to be desired. Yet, there was a bun, and "scary, yapping" artistic director didn't mention hair failure. Turns out that the artistic director is not as scary and yappy as she thought based only on his pre-performance version of himself.

I will get used to it. Her hair grows fast.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Staring into the Face of an Emergency

I've lived a life free of dangers that were not manufactured by myself or in my own mind. True, I've done some dangerous, scary things but I walked into all but a few of those situations with my eyes wide open. True, Katrina passed over our community, but we were waiting and planning, and it was only a Cat 1 by the time it got here. Yesterday, I got the chance to find out how I would react in an emergency situation without the benefit of prior knowledge. When visiting a museum yesterday, alarms started blaring, emergency lights flashing.

I calmly took my children to the exit while looking for answers to what might be happening. Alright, I dropped my purse spilling the contents, but I rarely carry a purse so forgot I had it. At the exit, we were met by security who pointed us to the door through which we could join the other visitors and the staff who were not seeing to the animals, where we waited outside in the 105° temperatures with the sun quickly making leather of our dehydrating bodies. Once the museum was checked, we were allowed back inside. Supposedly, dust from the construction of a new exhibit caused the alarms to sound, the fire trucks and police to arrive, and the building to be evacuated.

We were safe, though hot, and I got to see how I, and my children, face emergencies. When we got back inside and continued our tour, I noticed that we were 50 feet from an exit and yet walked almost the entire length of the museum to evacuate. When I pointed out the exit to the children and told them we should have gone out that way, my son said, "Mom, I tried to tell you." I guess I was too busy picking up the contents of my purse to notice or listen. I realized that though I remained calm and my pulse never elevated, I could have gotten us killed anyway (if there had been a real emergency) by wasting time taking the long way out of the bowels of the museum.

Have you ever been evacuated from a public building? Would you have stopped to pick up the contents of your purse?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eau de Pepe le Pew

On a nightly basis Eau de Pepe le Pew waifs through every crack and pore of our old house. We have humanely trapped and relocated scads of odoriferous creatures from under the house, in the barn, and at the cat food bowls right out the back door. There appears to be a never ending supply of Pepe le Pew look-a-likes. The problem, as I see it, is a lack of natural predators. Country people are scared to death of predators.

In Mississippi, hunters, scared farmers, and rednecks have extinguished the black bear, the wolf, and are trying their durnest to extinct all snakes, bobcats, coyotes, and anything else that scares the pants off them. The result of diminished bobcat populations is an increase of perfumed air and smashed Pepes in the highway. We have a problem, a big problem here. If you remember our nearest neighbor has earned the nickname, The Shoot Family. I know you are dying for the real story, so I will quit pontificating and explaining.

The other night everyone in our family forgot to close the door behind the chickens. At bedtime I shouted, "Did anyone shut the chicken door?" I was the only one standing so I went out to take care of the neglected chore. I quickly came back inside because I couldn't see a thing and I was scared I would fall through the cattle gap. The only available lighting utensil was a wind up flashlight - you know the ones you turn franticly for a few minutes for a few seconds of non-turning light. This was fine since I really only needed it to cross the gap.

I crossed the gap without incident, but as the last fading beams of the wind-up were turned toward the door of the coop, I saw that scoundrel, Pepe le Pew, entering the hen house. Of course, I wound furiously hoping better light would show that what entered the coop was just one of our puffy, black, skunk-looking cats. The extra light failed me. It proved that instead of a cat it was indeed the cute, but foul smelling creature that invokes dread in the heart of all stench fearing Southerners.

Big deal, you say. It wouldn't be except that skunks eat eggs and baby chicks. Though I don't mind if that cute little Pepe gets one or two eggs, I don't want to encourage him so that he will go fetch his Odorable Kitty family, including cousins, nephews, nieces, grandparents, and step-uncles once removed. Action had to be taken.

With my wind-up flashlight as my only weapon, I try to maneuver a very uncooperative Pepe out the door. I made noise, shined the light (while furiously winding so it would be on high beam), and poked him with a stick. He was scared to scent, but thankfully held his glands. He instead tried to dig his way out. Impossible. We trenched a four foot ditch to submerge the wire for this very reason, only we were counting on the intruders being outside the coop rather than inside. I needed more of me, so I went for reinforcements.

Everyone poured out of the house full of excitement and in various states of undress. We banged, shook, shined lights, poked, and prodded to no avail. The cats came to investigate, which helped a lot. NOT! The Yellow Dog came to protect us, barking like a maniac but never getting close enough for Pepe to see him. The skunk seemed unable to find the entrance, seemed unable to reason in his assaulted state, seemed unable to do anything but dig and hold his tail in that scary, threatening, "I'll spray, I'll spray!!!" position. His posturing separated the brave from the fearful, the animal lovers from the natural shooters, and the patient from the quick fix crowd.

"How?; What happened?," you say. The children started squealing and running the first time the tail was raised. Though we were all cautious, quickly stepping back anytime Pepe approached our stations, the real fraidy cats were shown. After 20 minutes of patience, Mr. W. suggested going to get a rifle. I couldn't stand the thought of it, so we waited. I suggested we fully open the door and prop it that way, turn off the lights and sound, then wait. We waited, occasionally flitting the wind-up beam inside to see if Pepe was going inside the hut to eat anything important. We waited, sweat dripping in pools. We waited, losing Mr. W. to his cool bed, because of lack of tangible progress. We waited, until the children took the wind up flashlight and found their way back to their beds. I waited. Finally, sensing abandonment, Pepe casually moseyed out and away. Defeated. I sort of felt bad, until. . . .

Later that night Pepe came back to the house. I think he is courting one of the puffy, black cats. Unfortunately, they are no more receptive than Penelope Pussycat and attack the intruder who is seeking to share a romantic meal. The ferocious protector of cats, The Yellow Dog, comes to the rescue. And we are treated to a whiff of Eau de Pepe le Pew for the seventh night in a row.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Top Ten Reasons Why I Haven't Been Posting

10. We started school last Monday. I was in shock. Literally. I changed gears so fast I gave myself whiplash.

9. One of my work clients procrastinates more than I do, finishing 3 new products the day before leaving for a show. I had to do emergency photography, apply Photoshop magic, write copy, and create, then print brochures. Being the never say never personality that I am, I worked like a maniac and finished the project.

8. Another one of my work clients had complete network failure. They really should schedule these things with me. The first week of school is not the time for computer, software, or network failure. Please.

7. My garden has passed its prime so there is little to show that would inspire others to garden. In fact, I try not to go out there. It's just too depressing and it's too hot to do the work that needs to be done.

6. The chickens are hot, walking around with their wings splayed and their mouths open. They are not cute this way.

5. The cats are sprawled on the concrete of the patio trying to leech any relief from the normally cool, damp, mossy area. They are not regal in this position.

4. The Yellow Dog has excavated a huge trench next to the house to find comfort. Neither the droopy, panting dog nor the landscaping is amusing.

3. The pastures are browning, except for the weeds (actually some of them are giving up, too). They are not appealing and I refuse to touch-up my blog pictures. Wouldn't that be cheating?

2. Since the garden is finished, there is nothing to can, freeze, or dry, so there is nothing to inspire anyone.

1. I'm jealous because I can't write with flitting ease like ZBTZahBTzoo. Thanks, by the way, for checking on me.

Having said all this you would think I was battling depression or at least the doldrums. I'm not, just silent. If the temperatures and/or heat index drops below 100° during the day maybe my brain will begin to see words. Cape Jasmine, will this suffice?

Oh, there is one funny, whole family, skunk story. I'll try to write it after supper.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cooking Ahead

Even though it was as hot as a "cat on a hot tin roof" yesterday, my mother and I had a cook ahead session. I had a mound of flat leaf parsley and carrots that had to be harvested because of the heat, so we got together to make meatloaf. We each walked away from the project with six meatloaves in the the freezer and had a great time doing it.

I don't like the idea of make ahead meals, except "The Sauce," but the realities of life make having something in the freezer that just needs to be reheated comforting. Princess wants to audition for The Nutcracker again this year which means that I will spend many hours driving her back and forth to Jackson for rehearsals between now and the beginning of December. Add that driving and waiting to my work and homeschool schedule and there is little time for cooking. So, I have the six meatloaves to which I can add a jar of green beans or a salad, 5 bags of pesto (without the cheese and some of the oil) which can quickly become something fantastic, 3 quarts of ratatouille which I can serve on pasta or with some meat or by itself, and several quarts of "The Sauce" that when poured on anything will make it taste as if you spent the entire day in the kitchen (I did, just not the day I served it). If the weather breaks, and maybe if it doesn't, I will make eggplant lasagna or a tasty eggplant, zucchini, pasta dish to round out my options.

Cooking while everything is fresh makes the food, though frozen, still retain a certain quality that makes it not a terrible option. Having a kitchen afternoon with your mother (or some other friend) is a great way to be productive and socialize.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Trapped in Literature

I've found that I can't get the opening line from Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! out of my mind.
From a little after two oclock until almost sundown of the long still hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that-a dim hot airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three summers because when she was a girl someone had believed that light and moving air carried heat and that dark was always cooler, and which (as the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became latticed with yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin thought of as being flecks of the dead old dried paint itself blown inward from the scaling blinds as wind might have blown them.
Late yesterday afternoon the children and I were sitting quietly in the living room with the curtains drawn and the lights off barely moving a muscle and I thought about Absalom, Absalom! and how that sentence captured a moment, even for us. We had better sense than to sit where the sun was shining, but keeping the lights off and windows and shades closed did make it seem cooler whether it was just a feeling or truly was. When I first read this book, I felt as I suspect Faulkner intended us to feel, that this scene captured Miss Colfield unquestioningly trapped in the confines of the past and all the traditions it held (and perhaps I, too, am trapped), but the longer I live in this old house, the more I see the wisdom of some of those old ways.

We have air conditioning in other parts of the house. Why everyone was sitting in the living room I just can't tell you, but the natural rhythms of the day and house made it warm, but not completely unpleasant, even with the dangerous heat and humidity. We open the house at night, allowing the cooler night air to enter, then we close the doors and windows as the day warms. When I cook or use the computer, we need the air conditioning late in the day, but in the parts of the house where heating apparatuses are not used the conditions are hot but bearable, though they may be responsible for diversions of literary reverie.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

We had a Scare This Morning

Early this morning, my husband needed to load the lawn mower because he had a small accident with it last night and broke an important piece completely off the mower. This is not one of those plastic mowers, either. Anyway, I thought I would lend him moral support, so walked out onto the front porch. I saw something black in the highway - something that looked so much like one of my cats that I teared up even before we took a closer look. Since Mr. W. was leaving with the mower, he said he would go down to the road and take a look.
He drove past the cat to take the mower and again when he returned with our gate that had been welded back together. He told me it appeared to be our oldest fluffy black cat. I had seen the cat when I let the chickens out of their hut, but it only takes a second. He knew I wouldn't want to bury the cat, so he said he would do it. And guess what? It was a skunk pretending to be a cat. I suppose he/she had been hit a few times so that no white was visible. To celebrate the extended life of our Angel, I'll share a few cat pictures.

The cat in the first picture is Tux. She is a three year old neutered female. I claim her and she claims me, though the children think she is theirs. I cannot sit on the porch swing without Tux climbing on top of me. I've tried to sneak out of the house for a few minutes alone, but to no avail. This one is truly cat-like in her ability to hear, see, and sense. She is a hunter. In fact, we have had to take special precautions during bluebird nesting season. She is scarily efficient.

The next picture shows two of Out of Focus' babies, Rocko and Rubber Dinghy. Can you guess who names these cats? Out of Focus is the surrogate mother of Sport, the spare chick. She earned her name because even to this day we have never taken a picture in which you could tell a single thing about her. She, also, is a little out of focus in other ways. We think she may be a few bricks shy, if you know what I mean. Out of Focus came to us as a small orphaned kitten. We misjudged her age because she was so so small. She will be neutered as soon as she finishes nursing - hopefully next week. Her kittens are doing great.

Next is Rocky. He is one of the feral kittens we stole from under the log pile. He had a tough go of life as a baby. He just wasn't as robust as his brothers and sister - pitiful really. He fought back and earned the name of Rocky. He is full of mischief, now. He once rode under the car all the way to Philadelphia. When we got there, he jumped out like it wasn't a miracle that he survived.

McSqueezy is next. He is one of the feral babies found in the woodpile. He has no relation at all to Tux, but looks so similar. His personality is much more vivacious. Actually, he doesn't act as dignified as a cat should. Have some pride would you, McSqueezy.

Finally, you see Tar Baby who may get his name changed to Bagheera because as he ages his coat is beginning to shine. He will definitely be a short haired cat.

Our two black adult females, Angel and Out of Focus have long hair. Angel is so big and puffy that finding the cat underneath is difficult. When her belly was shaved for spaying, the hair came back gray so she has a gray streak on her belly - strange really. I don't have her picture because she is hiding in the shade. With that much hair and these hot temperatures, I'm sure she won't move a muscle until night.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Peace Tomato

This was supposed to be my Green Zebra Tomato. It turned out to be an angry looking thing with the yellow and green fighting for surface. All those old tomatoes combined with all my bees, I honestly doubt I have had more than one or two tomatoes a year that turn out like the picture in the seed catalog. I don't mind. They all taste great and retain many of their evolved properties. Besides that, I like the surprise.

Surprise is what I got when sliced the end from this tomato - a peace sign. I know I'm aging myself since the peace sign is not as popular as it once was, and most children are more familiar with the similar, but not the same, Mercedes Benz logo. But look!! The yellow and green rage of the surface found peace in an almost neon citrus green center.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Who Knew?

Yesterday, I washed sheets. I had all the sheets on the line by 8:00 a.m. Did I mention that I love the smell of line dried sheets. Anyway, late yesterday afternoon (around 5:30) I went to retrieve the sheets. Guess what? They weren't dry. The sun was shining and it was 98°. Who knew that if the humidity is over 70% the sheets won't properly dry, especially if there is no breeze. Though it makes perfect sense, I didn't think of it.

Seriously, it was so steamy yesterday you could have gotten a drink of water from the air. We'll have the same today. The warnings are already up for today.
The Combination Of Hot Temperatures And High Humidity Will Create A Situation In Which Heat Stress Illnesses Are Possible. Drink Plenty Of Fluids...Stay In An Air-Conditioned Room...Stay Out Of The Sun During The Hottest Part Of The Day...And Check Up On Relatives And Neighbors.

There Are Indications That This Building Heat Episode Could Persist Into Next Week.
I wonder if this means I don't have to do anything other than sip iced tea.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Oh, lovely

Just as I begin shoveling out my house, I see that a heat advisory has been issued. The temperature and humidity will combine to make temperatures an unbearable 105° to 110° Fahrenheit. I'm sure not much will be done with those temperatures.

It's August. What did I expect?!

The shade. I can make the shade. Shade is cooling.

The Mad Dash

When summer started, I had a list of things I wanted to do when our life was not so scheduled. Things like truly scrubbing the floors, organizing my books, making shades for a couple of rooms, reducing clutter, and . . .

We will start school one week from today and activities will begin the week of the 20th. I have not done even one thing on that list. Okay, maybe I've done one thing, but I haven't even completely deschooled the kitchen from last year's session. I've mentioned on more than one occasion that procrastinating is one of my bad habits, but this is ridiculous.

So, this week I make "the list" my priority - that is priority after putting up vegetables, which are almost finished, and providing food for the family. I think the deadline will help push me forward.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


K found this Luna moth the other day, protected it from the chickens all day, and released it at night. I think a bat ate it as soon as the moth rose above the house. I saw a bat whisk by at just the moment the moth left my vision range. I want to believe the moth escaped, but we didn't see it again. The true nature of the food cycle seems cruel sometimes.

Though, I like bats. They eat mosquitoes and now that it has rained, we have our share of mosquitoes and I'm sure that bat ate thousands of mosquitoes in that one night. But did he have to eat my son's moth right at the moment of release?

Speaking of luna, lunar, night. The Perseids will make their appearance Sunday, August 12th and there will be a lunar eclipse on August 28.

Of course, if you live in the Central Time Zone like I do, you will have to get up with me to let the chickens out. The eclipse begins at 4:52 a.m.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sweet Pickles

How much is too much? I ask myself that very question all the time. I know that there is no way my family can eat 3 gallons of sweet pickles in a year. I have 1 gallon of Kosher Dills, too. When I was jarring these sweet pickles, I ran short of sterilized jars. I was going to toss a quart of pickles in the compost, but my husband caught me. He then went out to the shed and produced two disgustingly dirty jars and said he would wash them. He did and I put pickles in them and put them in the refrigerator. I didn't want those two jars to get mixed up with the sterilized jars of pickles. Why did we need that last quart?

The pickles are Grandmother Florence's (my husband's grandmother) recipe. They take time, lots of time. I've spent years trying to create authentic pickles from her vague recipe, but I have it now. The cucumbers are brined, then sliced, then soaked with the pickling spices, sugar, and vinegar. So yummy, but unfortunately different every year. The recipe uses the words "to taste" more than is comfortable. In fact, everything is "to taste" once the cucumbers are brined. How's that for a recipe?

They are finished, to taste.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Homeschool Caddy

I've been wanting a separate place for my homeschool entries. This way, those who come for homeschooling inspiration or chuckles don't have to wade through all the canning and farm mayhem of this site. I don't believe you can truly separate life from education, but I'll put more formal learning stuff here and if you want to see what life is teaching us you can read both.

I've got something new over there, so go take a look.

Mom, There Aren't Enough Candles!

Of course there aren't. Did she really think I would buy 45 candles to put on my cake so that it would appear to be afire. I didn't want any candles on my cake, but we compromised with a tall candle for each decade and short candles for each additional year.

She was lucky to have any candles to use. I don't always remember those details. One year we got ready for a birthday celebration and realized there were no birthday candles on hand. Living here has its limitations. You can't just run out to the store because they close by 5 p.m., except for the grocery store which closes at 7. Until just recently, all stores were closed on Sunday. Now the quick stop, grocery store, and the new Dollar General stay open on Sunday but with shorter hours (I doubt you needed all that information). Anyway, I used emergency candles on one of my children's cakes.

I shouldn't tell things like that. Y'all will think I don't have my act together. Though once stylized with some additional decorations, the candles didn't look out of place at all. I still feel a smidgen of guilt. Okay, a good bit of guilt. Mothers really should think to buy candles and decorations. Last night we had real birthday candles left over from Princess's birthday.

Does it look like someone put their finger on my frosting. I see a telltale indentation to the right that I didn't notice until I saw the picture. I think I'll have that defective piece of cake for breakfast. I wouldn't want bacteria from a child's finger to contaminate the rest of the cake.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Happy Birthday

Sing with me!

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday to me.

Thanks. Off to make my cake.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Update: This just in from J.

Here are the preliminary results for the Kemp's nest (A16). Intact eggs were collected and will be sent to a lab for research so we won't have the
# of infertile and dead embryos until later. Data for all nests will be finalized at the end of the season.

Alive and released--9
Dead pipped--6

Baby Sea Turtles, specifically the endangered Kemp's Ridley, hatched in my mom and dad's beach neighbor's yard this weekend. My parents were lucky to witness the birth. The proud human parents, J and R, and their good dog Fritz, have been protecting this nest for a couple of months after R saw a turtle come ashore to nest. Their efforts to keep people and animals away from the nesting area were rewarded with this special hatch.

The babies are only about two inches long so it is amazing to me that any of them are capable of making that long march to the water especially with predators chasing them. These turtles had help. Volunteers cleared the way and protected the hatchlings until they got to the gulf. With any luck a few of these endangered Kemp's Ridley will make it back to J. and R's yard to nest in about ten years.