Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That's Venus...That's Mark

Sunset from our back deck of our NC home. August 28, 2010 - the air was crisp and a cool 58F and the crickets were incredibly loud! Too bad you don't get the full effect in this video. It was about 8:30 PM.

Sugar Maples are already beginning to show some color at our Beech Mountain home..
Hazy blue mountains - how the Blue Ridge earned it's name.
Mark and our friend Sig, ahead of me on a Blue Ridge Parkway hike, Cold Prong Pond Loop. The berries that weren't ripe in early July were gone, but a few wild apple trees were loaded!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moo, Whinnie, Cluck

Our next door neighbor Kyle popped over for a visit.  Somehow the conversation moved to raw, unpasteurized milk straight from the cow.  Yep, I can hook you up, girlfriend!  We called Ann, a high school biology teacher and licensed Apopka farm owner.  She has two brown Jersey's for milk, a bunch of chickens, horses, and the friendliest short-legged stocky black cows called Dexters.  They're a pretty sturdy breed that does well in Florida.  I admired the bull's curly bangs and Ann told me that those curls are a sign of virility. She didn't have to tell me...I saw his footballs!  Kyle got a $10 gallon of Jersey Juice and we both learned a lot about cow and horse feeding, chickens, and well, everything farmy.
On our way home, we stopped at Kyle's barn to feed her horses.  She has a beautiful tall Tennessee Walker, whose previous owner named Harley.  Kyle isn't fond of that name, so I changed it to Carly.  She just didn't seem like the motorcycle type, and I have always liked Carly Simon.  This Carly has a beautiful brown coat with a glorious splash of paint on one shoulder, black mane and white polka dot knee socks. Carly holds her head high, far superior to all others in the stable.  Carly's colt Bambi is nearly grown and not yet broken, but Kyle showed me how calm she is with a saddle blanket on, and when Kyle draped herself over Bambi's slick  back, the young horse just enjoyed all that loving and hugging.  Louie is a stately Mule.  He's the biggest, prettiest, long-legged mule I've ever met.  Actually, Louie is the ONLY mule I've ever met.  His alert ears are long, high, and close together and this makes him look ever so smart.  I didn't know that mules are so easy to care for.  They eat less than horses and they don't have a horsey smell, in fact, nose pressed against Louie's side, I could only detect the mild hint of the grass he rolled in earlier in the day.  Who woulda thunk?  Best of all, like the horses, Louie is very sweet.  Kyle invited me to go riding with her, and says her big girl Carly is a smooth horse to ride.
Velvety soft horse noses, friendly curious cows, the sweet smell of hay, and a nice friend to share it with made this a perfect day.  I think I'm ready for a couple of chickens!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

America is Tired and Poor

The American flag is supposed to fly the highest, a sign of respect often ignored or forgotten in word and in deed.  Emma Lazarus' words reached out to those looking for political, economic, and religious freedom.  It was a long and expensive trip on a crowded and unsafe ship, followed by a frightening visit to Ellis Island for a medical exam and intelligence test that would determine their future.  A quarter of a million immigrants never made it past Ellis Island, deported back to their country of origin.  Some were sent home because they were suspected of being unable to support themselves without becoming public charges.  It was a privilege to become an American and those that were allowed to stay were excited to become a part of this great country and live the American Dream.  Let that flag fly high!

Give me your tired, your poor.  We have become the tired and the poor as we are forced to support those who do not belong.  American citizens represent many countries, but  it seems the melting pot simmers a bit slower these days.  We lack patriotism!

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me has become a charity we can no longer afford.   Our taxes are high because we are helping everyone but our own.

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Visa overstays,Visa fraud, and slipping illegally across our borders, the benefits outweigh the risks.  If you are caught, you are sent back home, not even a slap on the wrist. Start a family and you'll never have to return to your home country. If you manage to evade the border patrol, you are home free to receive public assistance, free education, and free medical.  Illelgal aliens have rights and don't pay taxes. You can't get that back at the old casa!

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Our jails are country clubs compared to those back home and our criminal justice system is overwhelmed with wretched refuse.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.  Knock, and wait for an invitation to enter, and pay for your keep.  Who tolerates an unwelcome stranger that barges in, robs the pantry, and then demands more?  When will our government see the light? 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker

This morning I heard, then saw two crow-sized male Pileated Woodpeckers - black feet and black bill and red head, looking all pretty.  It reminded me of the time when our youngest son, David, was about four.  He was playing outside and came running in all breathless and excited and red faced, "Mom, come quick! There's a ptarodactyl in the tree!"  If you've ever seen how gangly they fly, with head jutted out and lifting themselves clumsily on huge black and white wings, each stroke of the wing is loudly accompanied with a chuckle call, similar to a bird in Tarzan movies. (but not the peacock).  Add to this the pointed feather tuft at the back of their head, and why yes, these woodpeckers DO favor the prehistoric bird! 

Come, my little dinosaur.  No need to bang your beak into the trees for a snack...A feast of neon-green hornworms that are wreaking havoc in my tomato plants awaits you!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting Closer to a Beach at the Watson's

Juliet "helps" the boys dig.  David and neighbor-friend Billy both wear size 14 stompers, and you can see how very small our diggin' doggie actually is as she tries her paw at a little hole next to their shoe prints.  Julie doesn't miss a trick, noticing the newly opened screen, and she zipped outside, did a little dance, then came back in through the loosened screen panel.  David's friend Drew will replace the screen tonight.

Finally, a picture of the sand-filled pool garden. I'm ashamed for you to see our slimey pool. Mark will brush it down again tonight and add chlorine and clean the filters. It is really a beautiful pool!

Pool Garden - Our New Sand Box

The Sand Man arrived, drove the giant dump truck through the big double-gates of our side yard and right through the back yard to dump a pile of sand. First, my friend's brother Matt dug dug dug the weeds and plants out of the pool garden.  Next, our son David dug out more dirt.  Now we need to fill  an even foot deep by 70 square feet, which equals just under 3 cubic yards, or 8100 pounds of sand.  David and I both expected to see a much bigger pile of sand and wonder if this is truly 3 cubic yards.  It'll seem like a that pile never ends once David starts filling the wheelbarrow over and over and over again!  Ugh, the pool looks disgusting!  David and his friends left all the floats in yesterday, then it rained and rained, which always starts an algae bloom.  Clean up and chemicals tonight.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dolly Quilt

My niece Robin is going to have her third baby later this year and, after two little darling boys, this is a girl!  I have a quilt for each baby born, and so making one for a girl is extra special!  This is a  picture of the pattern I ordered, and  below is a (very poor quality) picture of the first dolly I made.  Each block will measure 7" once it's sewn into the quilt. I am not sure how many I shall use.  I LOVED making the first block!  It's a new technique (to me) called paper piecing.  You actually sew the material onto a paper pattern, and only after the whole quilt top is assembled, then you remove the paper.  A tighter stitch is required to make the paper tear off easily, but any mistakes results in a much more difficult stitch removal.  I know first hand!!  I'm not fond of the circles mid-quilt (they remind me of bottle tops) and so I might just make an entire quilt of different dollies.  The one I made has dark skin, and I have a variety of skin tones and hair colors, and lots of different scraps to make pretty dresses and aprons and backgrounds.  It's like a photo album!  Will baby like it?  I hope so!
Such a poor quality picture.  The seam allowance is shining through because I took this picture with light behind it.  They won't show when the quilt is complete and sandwiched with a nice cotton batting, then quilted around the dollies.  I haven't decided if I will be able to hand quilt, or if I'll have it machine quilted.