Saturday, November 22, 2008

The sky is falling!

No, this isn't a post about the economy. We had a 20-degree night last night, and I woke up to find our pecan trees dropping all their leaves simultaneously. Anyone ever seen anything like that? Because I haven't. This is new to me.

There's an ankle-deep layer of leaf litter on the ground, and when you walk under the trees, entire compound leaves snow down upon you. When I walked the dogs, they got all crazy from the crunching and crackling and floaty things everywhere.

I wish I had a way to post a video, because it's cool. Really cool.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Avian etymology

A lot of strange thoughts cross my mind at 7 in the morning before I've had my coffee. There I am, standing out in the yard with a dog on a leash, watching our birds socializing and getting their morning graze on. My thoughts wander and sometimes become very strange and esoteric.

You can tell that the happy event of the recent election is still on my mind. The other night we reshuffled the birds' night quarters so that two years' worth of geese were housed together, and the ducks had more space to themselves in their safety pen. But when we let them all out again in the morning, the younger set of geese bolted away from the older geese and returned to grazing with the ducks they grew up with. It crossed my mind that the new geese caucused with the ducks... and then I groaned because it was so profoundly stupid.

Recently we've been thinking about the inevitable: the fact that we will have to slaughter the one young male duck and an indeterminate number of young male geese. The reason the number is indeterminate is that most of the time you absolutely cannot tell geese from ganders without grabbing them, turning them upside down, and pulling their tails back to (cough) expose their junk. We recently saw this done on Dirty Jobs, but we scoffed at the usually-heroic Mike Rowe because the geese he was grabbing were about half the size of ours. Big deal, bucko--try to hold an Embden without getting your arm chewed off!

Anyway, this caused me to wonder if I had discovered the origin of "taking a gander". Could the expression really have originated with the act of flipping a goose over and looking at its privates to see if it was a boy? Sadly, no--it apparently has more to do with craning your neck the way geese do when they honk. That's possibly the most disappointing etymology I've ever come across. You can't win 'em all.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My sweet little dinosaur pals

Here's an intriguing local food idea that I hope takes off. Maybe someday we can emulate it in this country.

In related news, our Thanksgiving this year will not be quite as local as usual. All three of our young Blue Slate turkeys have turned out to be hens--friendly, winsome hens that we cannot bear to eat. They follow us around warbling and chirping. They cock their heads when we talk to them, and they eat out of our hands. Gah! So I (cough) ordered an organic turkey from Earthfare. It's embarrassing, sure, but who'll be laughing in the spring when we're eating turkey egg omelettes?

Everybody in the U.S.: GO VOTE NOW!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hooray for the sewing machine repairmen

Last week I blew out a gear in my sewing machine while sewing the straps onto my new handbag. It was particularly irritating because I was only minutes from finishing the project...then all the more so because it cost me $100 to get the machine fixed. But it was well worth it. My sewing machine is a 1960s Singer with all metal parts. It needed a tuneup, or at least some kind of competent attention, so maybe it wasn't the worst thing in the world for me to be forced to haul it in.

Anyway, now I've finished the handbag. I'm a little irritated with the designer. Even though I used stout denim and upholstery fabric, the bag is floppy. I starched the hell out of it, but it only helped a little. She really should have specified a piece of stiff plastic or something similar for the bottom. I'm going to try to find something appropriate.

Still, don't you think it's cute? Note the water bottle pocket on the end and the newspaper holder on the side. The latter of these is made out of the waistband of an old pair of jeans. (Who, me? Spend money on twill tape? Never!)