Saturday, October 29, 2016

October's Sigh

Beau walks with me to the field. We visit chickens and the garden. I collect one egg, a handful of tomatoes just beginning to turn, and a deep purple pepper. As I finger them in my coat pocket, the pepper is cool, the tomatoes are sun-warm, and the egg is downright toasty. An egg straight from the chicken is dry and nearly too warm to hold comfortably.

This October afternoon is quite still. Yesterday I hung my hammock between the gum tree and the pine, and there I recline now, gingerly keeping my coat pocket with egg/tomatoes/pepper to the side. The two dogs wrestle, and Beau yips and growls. He is six pounds and Ned is sixty, but Beau is top dog. Sometimes he must resort to chewing on Ned's leg to prove it. Usually Ned lies supinely in the grass and allows Beau to mangle his neck. Today it is the only sound in the field.

The ascending wagon spokes of tree limbs above me dwindle into the periwinkle blue sky. About half the leaves remain, shimmering and wiggling to be free. The ones up high are alight with late afternoon sun, as are the pine needles; they shine like morning spiders' webs. But the lower branches, already in deep shade (as am I) are dark. Each one hides a shadow.

Adam burned a great pile of brush this morning. The crepe myrtle stump from last fall still dominates each burn we do. Today it sits upright among the ashes like an idol. Only a few thick pine limbs surround it, smoldering. Smoke swirls upward into the pecan trees and sideways across the pasture. It is autumn's smell.

Beau sees me in the hammock at last and comes running. I lift him up, and he collapses on my stomach and chest, exhausted from play. He's smiling. He enjoys the view for a while, resting his chin on the hammock edge. He's as tall as Ned at last. Satisfied now that Beau will not wiggle through the fence and drift into the road, I place a hand on his back, lay my head against the hammock, and close my eyes. Peace.

Why is there an instant when one knows one must sit up, return to the house, and do things? The instant came, I sat up, thrust my feet back into my farm boots, and strode to the gate. October is nearly over, my favorite month. But it is never cool enough, long enough, or late enough. I want something closer to winter, a month to make me shiver and wish for gloves. Good-bye, October. I'm glad we had this afternoon together before you left.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Because My Life Is Chaos ...'re lucky to be getting a blog post at all! Haha :)
That was yesterday's lunch. The egg is from our chickens, and the bright orange tomatoes are also from our garden - yep! Tomato season is Not Over Yet. That variety (as you would expect) is called "Mini-Orange." They were the most pathetic, spindly, malnourished-looking seedlings when I finally put them last into the garden. But they are thanking me now.
Asparagus bed (above) and lettuce/collard bed (below)
The following photo I took in Oriental at Buddy's Fish Shack. I have no idea what kackleberries are. Probably, it's just Buddy's funny way of saying that the old geezers who hang around in front of his little fish selling operation tend to laugh a lot.
The worst flooding I saw during Hurricane Matthew was in Oriental, and it was nothing out of the ordinary; Hodges St. flooded as usual, mostly due to strong, ongoing northeast wind. The town harbor is on the right. The street is on the left. Last Saturday you could just barely walk on dry pavement by that railing.
We had the farmers' market anyway, plus a little live music for the 3rd Annual Ol' Front Porch Music Festival.
I have plenty of small green tomatoes in the garden still, and they will be picked -- ripe or otherwise -- before the first frost. We have a while yet. It was in the mid-80s yesterday.
This beauty arrived in the mail recently - at last!! It's a Hobbit Second Breakfast Clock. Isn't it adorable?
We're off to vote and get it over with. See you all later!

Monday, October 17, 2016

About That T-Shirt Video

Recently I viewed a video on facebook about gendered t-shirts for kids. Specifically, a young girl was unhappy that "everyone thinks that girls should just be pretty and boys should just be adventurous." She dislikes that children's clothing is separated into "boys" and "girls" at all, but she's really offended that girls are labeled as "pretty," as if there are not other traits that are important in being a female.

If the video were accurate (they viewed only 6 shirts), I might agree. But it isn't. I know this because I see about 125 kids every day where I work. I see the shirts the girls wear, and their messages are much broader than that! So today I randomly asked all the girls I saw who wore t-shirts with words on them, if I could take photos of their shirts. Here's what I found:

 "Fear Less Sweat More" is more typical of what these girls wear.
Their parents want tough, independent girls who will not be preyed upon.

There's a real push to encourage girls to be themselves,
not to cow to pressure from anyone to deny themselves.


The one on the right says "Ruling" - as in, girls rule.
This shirt shows that girls can feel LOTS of different ways!
Later, I saw two more shirts but had no chance to photograph them. One said "Girls Rule!" and the other said, "I'm the fabulous one in the family," Fabulous was, for some reason, another term in the video that the little girl didn't like. Why? I don't have a clue!
We should all be aware that some folks in the world make videos and memes and write articles for the sole goal of goading people to feel a certain way. They want to make you feel angry, feel victimized, feel marginalized, feel afraid. They may even prompt you to feel offended for another group other than yourself, as in this case. We're supposed to be affronted for all the girls in the world who are being fed a vapid, dangerous message: You're physically beautiful, and all that matters is your looks!

Except that's not what girls are being told, thankfully. They're being told they're strong, athletic, in charge, capable of anything, emotionally complicated, cool just as they are, and lovers of the world. That's pretty good, I think!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hurricane Survival Bread

When Hurricane Matthew was breathing down our necks and Adam and I were preparing for the watery apocalypse, he decided to bake some sturdy bread to help us survive a week without electricity, perched upon our rooftop overlooking a watery world.
This first loaf lacked loft because the sourdough started was very young.
Thankfully, it didn't come to that. We enjoyed the first loaf of Hurricane Survival Bread before Matthew's arrival:
A light pre-hurricane dinner
He began by having some sourdough on hand that he'd started days before. He made his own sourdough starter by catching wild yeast from the air. Do not envision him larking around the house waving a fine net ... no, he simply put rye and white flour and water in a pyrex bowl and left it sitting open in the kitchen for a couple of days. It needs at least a week to become real starter, so these early loaves aren't as good as the later ones will be.
 But how's that for a pretty loaf of bread?! This second loaf is quite high.
This bread is tasty and toothsome. In addition to the flavor of the sourdough, it has cracked, soaked wheat berries, sunflower seeds (only in the first loaf), and steel cut oats. Quite yummy and healthy. Good for surviving the storm.

And we did survive. We lost electricity for Sunday and got our internet back today (Monday). We did not have the rain that was forecast, for which we are so thankful. Winds were quite high, 60-65 mph on Saturday night. We had more trouble preparing for the storm that we did dealing with it. Yesterday  we drove around and checked on some of our parishioners. Today we picked up branches in the yard and had a burn pile. I had a lovely four-day weekend off work. Many people in our county still have no power.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

An Early Christmas Present

Adam loves to spoil me. There -- I've said it. He's not a perfect husband. But if I want something, generally all I have to do is mention it, and he's on it! (I have to be careful what I mention.) For years I've been making muttering sounds about wanting an autoharp.

Well, he bought me one!
 My elementary school music teacher played an instrument like this. She set it on her lap and led us in fun songs. I remember her teaching the boys and girls to sing "There's a Whole in My Bucket, Dear Liza" back and forth.
It came with a lovely case. In fact, the instrument was new, but Adam bought it on Ebay from a relatively new seller for an extremely good price. (He'd bought it for his girlfriend, and they broke up. Sad story.)
 It came with all the good extras: a tuner and clamp, a tuning pin, several finger picks, and even keys to lock the case.
 And the most important pick -- the thumb pick. It's pretty.
 Autoharp playing was brought back to mind recently when a friend mentioned she played one, and she loaned it to me for a week. I fell in love. It's not the most elegant instrument, but I adore it because it's portable! I love my piano very dearly, but that I can neither carry it with me somewhere nor cradle it in my lap are significant down sides.
An autoharp can be played flat in the lap, but then (for some bizarre and poorly engineered reason) you must cross your hands. Hmm. The Carter family way of playing is to hold the autoharp up to one's chest, nestle it near one's ear, crank the left hand around to exert pressure on the chord keys, and strum vigorously with the right hand.
Here's a video of Sheryl Crow playing "Ring of Fire" -- a Carter/Cash family favorite:

Crow simply strums the autoharp and doesn't use any finger picking. Strumming is all I can do now too.
I would be remiss if I failed to share MayBelle Carter playing. Let's hope she doesn't catch those eyelashes in her strings .... Notice how high she holds the instrument! That's some good ole mountain sound. Notice that she picks some on the upper strings to give that melody.

So, thanks to my dear husband for this gift -- it is technically ... I think ... a Christmas gift, but it will be well-used by then :)
If anyone longs to hear more autoharp music, below is a video of the  Mountain Laurel Autoharp Championship. Some pure and beautiful picking on some gorgeous instruments:

If you scoot forward to 26:13 on the video, you'll see Lucille Reilly, the winner. She's fabulous!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Wet Weather

Yesterday Adam and I took a morning jaunt to a favorite spot: Whittaker Creek Marina in Oriental. We used to ride our bikes there often and walk the docks, looking at boats.
Look carefully at the large photo above. See anything strange? Yep -- those are two masts sticking out of the water. A sunken boat!
Here's a closer view. It's an old wooden boat in horrible repair that used to have hoses pumping out water constantly. Well, clearly, they were no match for its rotten hull.
What a sad sight! It belongs to a local man who will (hopefully) get it out of there. I imagine he'll have to get a diver to put big inflatables inside the cabin to bring her to the surface.
At one time, someone bought her new, sailed her proudly, tended her woodwork and packed her sails neatly away. Now her stern juts above the murky water and her wheel cover hangs limp.
This particular marina dock is a somewhat sad, vaguely derelict place, although I do love it.
 Bushes grow through the boardwalk.
The slats are wobbly and a little dangerous.
The dock below is damaged, and being sailors of course they used lots of line to make is more secure.
Across the creek is another boat quite submerged. The companionway hatch is open.
But the very end of the dilapidated dock has a killer view -- look at that!
Out to the Neuse!
If anyone is interested, the Blue Bayou is still afloat although the damage to the side of her hull is worse than ever.
Today we walked down our road (a 2-lane highway) to our nearest water here in Bayboro: the north prong of the Bay River.
 The shrimp boats are strapped in, three deep, for the upcoming stormy weather. We'll be on the tip edge of Hurricane Matthew's "cone."
 Remember the Outlaw, Josey Wales?
 The little lane next to this boatyard is a Very Wet Spot, especially with the rising waters from many days of steady Northeast winds.
 All the old fishery buildings are under water or very close to it.
 The town built a nice (but small) park next to the water.
 I wish they could buy up all the property nearby and expand the park to make a real, big public water access area -- what a boon that would be to the town! But it's all wetlands, and I bet they aren't allowed to lay a finger on it.
 The lovely new bridge that spans the prong of the river took them many months to build.
 But as we walked across it, I noticed some of the cement bases for the lanterns are cracking already. That's not good.
The water is rising, and the rains are coming. We will get between 7" and 15" this weekend. We are already soggy and the rivers, creeks and ditches are full. It'll be a muddy mess before we're done.