Wednesday, February 27, 2008


In drought-remediation terms, we're still dry as a bone. But on a day-to-day experiential level, this winter/spring feels exactly as it should: muddy and green and full of life. We are getting rain, and it is wonderful.

After the last storm system moved through, the temperature turned frigid. Then the wind began howling and whistling, as it often does here. How bad is it? Our ill-fitting back door (which we tried to have replaced this winter, but never did thanks to the complete incompetence of a certain expediter at our local Home Depot...we eventually gave up and got our money back) not only let the gusts burst through into our kitchen, but even popped open three times last night. We locked it before bed.

Luckily, I have these:

They're a pair of fingerless mitts made from the hugely popular Fetching pattern by Cheryl Niamath. I lost a lot of stitch definition by making them out of farmspun alpaca* instead of Cashmerino. But they're fantastically springy and snuggly and fuzzy. I also added some bling by trimming them with cuffs of Bellagio copper metallic yarn.

The only thing I would change about them is the picot edging at the finger opening. I can tell it's going to curl and annoy me a little. But after I had the first one done, it was bound off too irrevocably to contemplate undoing it. So I'll live.

Magically, the mitts took less than 100 yards of yarn to make. So I still have more than 200 yards left. I'm thinking skinny scarf, also trimmed with Bellagio.

By the time I get it done, of course, it'll be 90 degrees outside. It's hell being a slow knitter. Good thing I enjoy the process.

* Thanks, mom!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Total eclipse

Did you all watch the lunar eclipse last night? We had one of those perfect cold, clear nights where you can see twice as many stars as usual--like a million party lights spinning across the sky. I walked outside at 10:01 pm (right after Idol, of course; see below), and the moon was already starting to turn doomsday red-orange at its left edge.

I found it so compelling that I bundled myself up and stuck a lawn chair in the middle of the yard. I turned off the back porch and kitchen light, and I got half a glass of red wine in a takeout cup. I sat and watched, with breaks to warm myself up, until the moon disappeared into a tiny silver sliver.

The s.o. agreed that the eclipse was cool, but he wasn't willing to sit outside for as long. He visited a couple of times and watched the sky with me. It was eerie and beautiful. Unfortunately, he was indoors during one of the strangest moments of the evening.

For a little while around 10:30 or 10:45, the entire world went quiet and the only sound I could hear was the blood whooshing inside my head. Then a couple of dogs a few houses down started baying and barking. Suddenly I heard an alien sound from the woods: like the whinny of a horse, only flutelike, with the top of the octave held long and clear. It repeated eight or ten times, and then it was gone.

Afterward I ransacked the internet until I was pretty sure I had found the sound. I think it was this.

And now for something completely different: my opinions of the American Idol top 24's performances.

Favorite guy: Jason Castro. He's one of the guys who has had practically no camera time prior to this week, so he was a complete unknown. We were also biased against him from the start because he has silly white-guy dreadlocks. But I loved every second of his "Daydream." He was vulnerable and tender and showed fantastic control. He seems as sweet as can be, too, and appealingly geeky. I hope everyone else is as taken with him as I am!

Runner-up: David Archuleta, who I think is well on his way to becoming America's sweetheart. The kid is incredible.

Overrated: Michael Johns. It pains me to say it, because he is capable of great things, and he seems like a really nice guy. But I really didn't need to hear an imitation of Eddie Vedder singing "Light My Fire." I'm baffled that the judges seemed to like it. I can only assume it sounded better in the room than it did on TV.

Favorite girl: Brooke White. By a mile, actually. She doesn't have the most amazing pipes of the group (that honor would probably go to Carly Smithson). But she has IT. She has Carly Simon-ness, Carole King-ness. Her folksy, mandolin-tinged version of "So Happy Together" is the one performance of the night that has stuck with me note for note. I'm a little tired of the "good girl" sideshow that Simon's comments seem to have ignited, but if it makes viewers notice her, I'm all for it.

Runner-up: Asia'h Epperson. Do you know how hard it is to sing Janis Joplin and have it sound fresh? And, might I add, more soulful and funky than the original?

Overrated: Syesha Mercado, who has one of the best voices of the group, yet managed to squander it completely on a song that didn't show off any of her capabilities. I am beginning to think I may despise the song "Tobacco Road." No, wait--I know I do.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This means spring is coming, right?

There's a brand-spanking-new American Idol Top 24, and I'm really excited about it. I think they're doing a much, much, much better job of picking 'em and presenting 'em than they did last year. They've assembled quite a pool of talent and personality.

Anyone have early bets? We suspect David (the young one, although actually, all three of them have massive potential), Asia'h, and Michael will be there near the end.

If anyone needs me on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening from now until the finale, sorry! I'm not available!

Just in case the title of this post misled you into thinking I was going to write about gardening, I should note that the radishes and peas are up. The s.o. has tilled the rest of the garden, and then some. I think he is addicted to tilling. The main garden is about 3500 square feet, and he seems to have set his mind on the idea of doubling it. Wow. Just think of all the gorgeous flowers and yummy tomatoes.

The most definite sign of spring's impending arrival, however, is this: Cairo came in with a wood tick on his head the day before yesterday. Eek. But really, I don't mind picking off the occasional parasite, as long as it's not on me.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I'm proud of this

Our town has a minimum monthly water charge of $15. If you use an amount below a certain threshold, you are billed this minimum amount. Beyond that, it starts to go up per gallon of usage.

For the month of January 2008, we used only 720 gallons and were charged the minimum! That hasn't happened to us since before we started gardening and raising poultry.


We might be getting some rain, fellow southerners, but the drought isn't over. Let's all keep conserving as much as possible...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

One goose a-laying

Today I'll be taking three of our roosters on an adventure. One is the Langshan we originally gave to L2's dad. He, er, didn't work out in that situation. He got along with everyone peacefully enough for two months, then got his confidence up and gave their other rooster a bloody thrashing. So he was returned to sender.*

He and two of our four Mille Fleur d'Uccle bantam roosters will be given to a Freecycle guy who has 66 acres. Supposedly they'll be pets, and he and his son will dote on them. I hope that's true, although you never know! These three rooster fellows are too handsome to eat...not to mention awfully old and tough for the American palate.

The Langshan rooster is already in his transport cage. I was sequestering him in the duck house--the better to catch him later--but one of our geese started obsessively trying to get in because she has a nest in there. I was afraid she'd sand her beak all the way off, so I freed up the space. Now she's nesting happily. She looks absolutely adorable sitting in her carefully constructed whorl of straw. I could swear there's a beatific expression on her face.

The goose nest has been in the duck house for about a week. And yes, we have had a goose egg:

Isn't it impressive? And beautiful?

We ate the enormous egg scrambled with spinach and red peppers and mushrooms. It is my sad duty to report that goose eggs are not as delicious as chicken, turkey, duck, and quail eggs. They are a bit watery and insipid...or at least this one was. But it wasn't bad by any means. Just nothing special.

In other news, the chickens are adjusting well to their new situation. All the disagreements seem to have been worked out, and everyone plays nicely together.

They enjoy the long chicken run, too! The only thing that's lacking is fresh vegetation. But the s.o. seeded the second run a few weeks ago, and it is greening up nicely. We should be able to release them into it later this month.

Here's a shot of the February garden:

It doesn't look like much yet, but so far we've planted some peas, fava beans, carrots, and radishes. We plan to do some very extensive tilling in the near future, because we have to get our greens and turnips in as soon as possible.


* On the other hand, the turkey we gave to L2's dad is living the life of Riley. They actually purchased two turkey hens for him, and now he is in "full puff mode" at all times. Most excellent.