Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cedar waxwings filled the trees this morning

When winter arrives, the birds go away. Here in Georgia, there are a few that stay around, and I love that. There's always a chirp or two in the trees, a swoop or two across the yard. But for the most part, it's quiet.

When spring arrives, the birds come back in droves. They liven the yard.

We have many tall trees and some bushes in the yard, it's great for the birds. We have a tall oak, live oak, a 100 foot magnolia tree, pine trees, and a variety of shrubbery for birds to flit here and there and light upon them. We used to have more cardinals but I don't see them much these days. Same with the mourning doves. We have lots of mockingbirds and jays and crows. I enjoy the warblers. We have lots of songbirds abounding (unless those are the mockingbirds, lol).

Birds are a knitter of air
energizing the sky
Making the air sing,
bringing life to the trees
aeronautical dips and flutterings
done so beautifully with ease

At dawn I like to walk around the yard to see what I would see. The sky lightens with pink almost all the time. it's a rural area so the the stars shine brightly, dark on the ground but starry light above twinkles. The sun had come over the horizon and the day was barely lit. A large flock of cedar waxwings flew over my head and landed in the highest of the trees at the edge of the yard. The rising sun bounced off their their gold chests into and came away as burnished gold. They sat preening, content and singing as they brushed themselves.

Most of them were facing away from me, so even with the zoom lens I could not get a great shot of their faces, but look, just look, aren't they pretty?

There were many more and a smaller flock came after a few minutes and settled in the next door tree, too. It was so fun to watch them.

The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a large head, short neck, and short, wide bill. Waxwings have a crest that often lies flat and droops over the back of the head. The wings are broad and pointed, like a starling’s. The tail is fairly short and square-tipped. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see. Cedar Waxwings are social birds that you’re likely to see in flocks year-round. All About Birds
Here is a highly zoomed and cropped photo showing the red waxy wingtips. The birds were about 200 feet away from me at the time:

Well it was a treat.

I hope you had a nice day, wherever you are. It was nice here in Georgia, but clouded over in the afternoon and it's been sprinkling on and off ever since. You know what they say, March showers bring...oh wait, that's not right. We do have flowers though, and some warming temps and most wonderful of all, birds!

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Spring has sprung in Georgia

I'm waking up with coffee and listening to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Will the Circle Be Unbroken Vol 2 on Youtube. I really enjoy Friday nights and Saturday mornings. It's cool out which is great, and only supposed to get up to the mid 60s today, which is also great. We had a few days of hot weather (78-81 degrees) and I did not like that. I am not ready for it. Let Spring be Spring.

Spring in Georgia is my favorite season. Coming from northern New England, March was a wintry month, and it was turbulent as the seasons prepared to change in April. In Maine, April is the spring month. Spring in Georgia lasts a while, is replete with green pastures, baby animals, and flowers, flowers, flowers.

I took these photos the last week in February. Lovely flowers already-

Today I plan to meet friends at a country restaurant for coffee/breakfast, and then head to the Library Used Book Sale, then perhaps to the Special Store to look for two items that captured my interest. If they are still available and priced accordingly, I will post later and show you :)

Enjoy your rest, your weekend, your moments of leisure, whenever they come and however long they last.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Why would I buy a Field Guide to Mushrooms when it's in German?

On Saturday I wrote about the history behind some of my finds at The Special Store. I'd found some 55 year old church fans, and a 1927 field guide to mushrooms- in German. There were some other finds too, but those were the historical ones.

When I was describing the history behind the church fans, and the old alphabetic number telephone exchanges, the essay got long. I'd decided to write about the German Mushroom field guide later.

Later is now. :)

The German word Fuhrer means 'leader' or 'guide'. Hitler obviously used the word as Leader. The Field Guide uses the word as Guide.

I like old books, and this one is a good old one. The pictures were hand painted and then reproduced in the book. They're gorgeous.

Sydney Living Museums has an entry on botanical illustrations-
Botanical illustration is the art of depicting the form, color, and details of plant species, frequently in watercolor paintings. They must be scientifically accurate but often also have an artistic component and may be printed with a botanical description in book, magazines, and other media or sold as a work of art.

I like botanical illustrations. This is a picture (a bad one with reflection) of a large botanical over my couch. It's the main photo in my living room. As a bonus, it nicely matches the couch.

I have two natural history books, old ones with hand painted plates inside. One is The popular history of the Mollusca; comprising a familiar account of their classification, instincts and habits, and of the growth and distinguishing characters of their shells By Mary Roberts. Printed by London by Reeve and Benham, in 1851. It's 396 pages, with 18 hand painted color plates, like these:

Before photography, artistic drawings were the only way to show people the items they were teaching about. After Darwin's Theory of Species was published, it sparked an interest in the natural world. Explorers, especially from Britain, went out to discover, draw, and bring back samples of flora and fauna of all kinds. Books were written, field guides were published.

Artists were in their heyday, drawing all manner of bugs, animals, plants, trees, birds, and the like. Even today, there is an American Society of Botanical Artists who specialize in detailed drawings and paintings of things that grow.

I also have a Botanicals calendar book from the British Museum I'd bought at a flea market. I use it in crafting.

I have four other field guides. One is for mammals, another is for Atlantic fish, and two are for seashells. I used to have one for birds but I gave it away.  I've also got three encyclopedias of shells:

The field guides are old. Now I have one for mushrooms to add.

I got interested in field guides when my husband and I lived in our camper van and went across country, and when we lived on the sailboat and sailed up and down the eastern seaboard. I wanted to know what I was seeing. When I ceased traveling, I kept the books even though I don't go out much anymore, because they are interesting and pretty books. I love my book collection. It's been added-to over many years, each book carefully selected, and arranged in useful ways on my bookshelves.

So knowing that, now you might understand why I picked up the German Field Guide to Mushrooms. I can use the pages for crafting, I can leaf through and just enjoy the botanicals, and/or I can add it to my collection of field guides. The pages have darkened to brown with age, and are extremely brittle so I have to handle it carefully.

As for the book itself: the title is variably translated as:

Guide for mushroom lovers. The most common edible and poisonous mushrooms; By Michael, Edmund, 1849-1920. Or, Guide for Mushroom Hunters.

This seems to be THE standard for field guides to mushrooms, from what I have researched. His Field Guide was published 4 times according to Mushroom The Journal:

Edmund Michael (1895) Führer für Pilzfreunde: Bd. 1 (Guide for mushroom hunters)
Edmund Michael (1901) Führer für Pilzfreunde: Bd. 2 (Guide for mushroom hunters)
Edmund Michael (1905) Führer für Pilzfreunde: Bd. 3 (Guide for mushroom hunters)
Edmund Michael (1927) Führer für Pilzfreunde, systematische geordnet und gänzlich neu bearbeitet von Roman Schulz (Guide for mushroom hunters, systematically arranged and totally revised by Roman Schulz) 3 vol. 
There are 144 pages of introductory text, and then 386 colored plates with descriptions. 
It's quite a feat when all your most popular books come out after you're dead. Michael studied agriculture in Leipzig, and ended up teaching at the agricultural academy in Auerbach from 1884 on. He wrote a field guide that it became an establishment of its own, bearing his name (sort oflike the contemporary "Webster's" dictionaries) long after he was no longer a contributor.
We learn this from  Wikipedia translated from German.
Edmund Michael was senior teacher at the Agricultural School in Auerbach. In 1895, his guide for mushroom friends first appeared with illustrations by the painter Albin Schmalfuß from Leipzig , who appeared in six editions and three volumes until his death and made him known as a fungal father.

Here is an example of one of the illustrations inside:

So nice!

The book was $1.

Who can resist? Not me.

Here are a few of my favorite mushroom pics I've taken. BTW I had eggs with mushrooms this morning for breakfast. I like mushrooms.

I mean, look at the variety! And this small selection is by far not representative of the ones I have photos of from just my yard.

So I picked up a Field Guide to mushrooms in German for $1. I had fun with researching the author, admiring the paintings inside, adding it to my field guide collection, and researching & writing about botanicals. A nice way to spend a morning!

Have a good day everyone.


PS If you have Netflix you might enjoy the British show Dealers Put Your Money Where Your mouth Is, where British antiques dealers spend a certain amount at a thrift sale, auction, or flea market, explain what the items are and the history behind them, and then compete to try and make the most profit in reselling. I like the show because they explain what the items are and why they're interested in them. Also, the competition is extremely friendly and not a ripoff against the buyers or the antiques sellers. The donate all their profits to charity.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ladies furiously fanning, and other ephemera

We began our school Winter Break last night. After three days of hectic busyness and two half days with the kids so teachers could conference with parents, we were released to go home and enjoy our days off. We return to school Wednesday after a four-day weekend.

LOL it's hard for me to call this winter break, and I keep accidentally saying 'Spring Break'. This is because it's been 70 degrees outside or warmer! It's been that warm all week. This morning I went out to enjoy the pre-dawn and listen to peepers and roosters and faraway dogs in the still darkness. It was 62 degrees.

One thing I enjoy doing at the start of any long weekend or school break is after school on the Friday, heading up to Ila to The Special Store. This is a second hand store stuffed with beautiful things, at rock bottom prices. Everything from tchotchkes, to vintage jewelry, to art, mid-century modern furniture, books, vinyl albums, fine bone china and mostly anything else you can think of. The store rotates its inventory depending on which estate sale they have obtained it from.

For me, it's like going to a museum and looking at beautiful things. I love looking at beautiful things. Even better, given their prices, I can afford to purchase beautiful things. Or funky things, or unexpected things. It's all a delight. Let me share what I found yesterday.

I got a 55 year old church fan, a 100-year-old field guide to mushrooms- in German, a small spiral notebook/journal, a calculator, a craft item I'll give as a gift, two gardening/yard things- one a hand painted mock birdhouse, and a large plant pot holder, a pack of 10 foam bookmarks I'll use with my small reading group, and 3 packs of decorative cocktail napkins.

All for $10.

The collection includes several articles I needed (garden items, calculator), some I will be able to give as gifts (bookmarks, craft beads, journal, napkins) and a couple I just like because I like them (fan, mushrooms). It's all good.

Let me share about while I was there.

I had a nice chat with the nice lady who staffs the place. Then as I put the mushroom field guide on the counter and went about shopping, an amateur mycologist came in and saw the book. He was so excited. Then he noticed it was in German. He found me in the next aisle, saying, lol,

"Fraulein, do you know this book is in German?"
Do you read German?
Then why...
Because I like vintage books and I like mushrooms. Win-win.
He looked at me like people normally do, like I wasn't normal, lol.

But then he went on and showed me thru the book which mushrooms are which and told stories about when he went mushroom hunting. I told him about well-known New England Mycologist Sam Ristich (who used to be my landlord).

I enjoy shopping there not only to look at beautiful things, but the history. The fan was just charming. I liked to imagine ladies furiously fanning in church, before air conditioning came in. It's fun to think of the history you're holding in your hand, where it has been, and what happened to the people who last held it.

Thirdly, the other part about shopping at the Special Store is the fun I have when I get home. I like to learn things. I was holding what I suspected to be an interesting and important book, and a very old church fan.

How did I know the fan was old? The telephone exchange on the back: LIberty 8-4176.  Time to research!

I spent a good hour learning about the old telephone company (which I grew up with) Bell Telephone, nicknamed Ma Bell.
The Bell System was the system of companies, led by the Bell Telephone Company and later by AT&T, which provided telephone services to much of the United States and Canada from 1877 to 1984, at various times as a monopoly.
In the 1950s after WWII, Ma Bell realized that the telephone exchanges were going to have to be expanded. Each central office could only handle 10,000 subscribers, and after the War, the influx of people returning home and the acceptance of the phone as a normal appliance caused a plan to be formulated to expand to all numbers. They proposed moving away from the word-exchanges to an all-number dialing exchange, the one we have now with 7 digits and area codes. Previously, they had chosen exchanges with easy to pronounce words that would not likely be misunderstood, such as BUtterfield (memorialized in the Liz Taylor movie Butterfield-8) or PEnnsylvania such as the one memorialized in the 1945 song Pennsylvania 6-5000.

Wikipedia explains the named Pennsylvania exchange served the area around Penn Station in New York. The two letters, PE, stand for the numbers 7 and 3, making the phone number 736-5000, not including the later area code 212 for Manhattan. The number is best known from the 1940 hit song "Pennsylvania 6-5000", a swing jazz song.

Americans identified themselves in relation to the phone exchange, and also identified each other.

However, the American public so loved their alphabetic word phone exchanges that this proposal to go to all numbers was met with heated hate.

This plan was vehemently opposed by many groups that popped up. There was even a legal injunction for a while. The man who'd proposed the all number dialing, John Karlin, was once called 'the most hated man in America." But in the end of course, all numbers prevailed.

The link above goes to Karlin's obituary in the NYT, revealing an interesting and accomplished man to be sure. America should know about him. Here is just a snippet:
But his research, along with that of his subordinates, quietly yet emphatically defined the experience of using the telephone in the mid-20th century and afterward, from ushering in all-digit dialing to casting the shape of the keypad on touch-tone phones. And that keypad, in turn, would inform the design of a spate of other everyday objects.
It is not so much that Mr. Karlin trained midcentury Americans how to use the telephone. It is, rather, that by studying the psychological capabilities and limitations of ordinary people, he trained the telephone, then a rapidly proliferating but still fairly novel technology, to assume optimal form for use by midcentury Americans.

I learned all that as an internet detective wanting to discover the age of the fan I was holding. Given the exchange on the back, it seems it was made between 1958-1965, no older because all-number dialing came in then.

I also had fun researching the Mary Carter Paint Store, touted on the back of the fan as "World's Largest Operation of its Kind".

This store has an interesting history. It was a successor to a store founded in 1908, and became the Mary Carter Paint store in 1958. Owner James Crosby diversified into land and real estate development, and ten years later dropped the paint store and became Resorts International. Resorts International. Crosby opened the first legal casino in Nevada in 1978, and expanded to Paradise Island Bahamas, Atlantic City and so on. It's funny that a paint store became one of the largest real estate development conglomerates in the world. Even Donald Trump briefly held the company, then Merv Griffin bought it.

The Paint Store was the subject of a FTC lawsuit because of the advertising on the back of the fan. Most fans had some sort of printed advertising on the back. On mine, it states that every second gallon is free. Case Law online explains,
Respondent paint company had a practice of advertising that for every can of paint purchased the buyer would be given a "free" can of equal quality and quantity. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered the paint company to cease and desist from the practice as being deceptive under 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act since the paint company had no history of selling single cans of paint; it had been marketing two cans; and had misrepresented by allocating to one can what was in fact the price of two cans. The Court of Appeals set aside the FTC's order. 
It's so fun to research about American history. The store had three versions, one with Jesus as the Good Shepherd (the one I got) one of The Last Supper, and one with two small children praying.

Portland State university History Portland State University history has a synopsis of the church fan:
The church fan is a familiar icon of the Southern black religious experience.  Cut out of heavy paper and stapled onto a wooden handle, the fans provided some measure of relief during services that could last several hours in a hot and humid climate.  Following the advent of air-conditioning in the 1950s, the fans all but disappeared from white congregations, but remained in many African-American congregations, having become rooted in church culture.  The fans commonly featured an advertisement for a local funeral home on the reverse side, underscoring the role of the church played in the local community beyond a place of worship.
Here is another take on the history of church fans as described through one North Carolina man's historical collection.

Collection of church fans represents Southern hospitality
"Aunt Susie would come down from Raleigh, and my mother would serve her a piece of her pound cake," McNeill said, remembering his 5-year-old self holding a fan printed with an image of Jesus ascending into heaven. "And I fanned Aunt Susie while she nibbled her cake. So Southern hospitality then was a sweet tea and a sweet Jesus."
Since then, the Bladen County and part-time Wilmington resident's fascination with the instrument of church air conditioning and funeral parlor advertising has grown to a 30-year collection of more than 150 church fans from the turn of the century to modern times.
"I see my fans as historical artifacts, vanishing relics of the American South," McNeill said. "Part of the appeal is nostalgia."
McNeill’s oldest fans are woven straw, grass and reed fans, some rainbow-hued, from African-American churches. Many have religious images – Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus as a shepherd holding a lamb, a 1950s child kneeling with her white-gloved hands pressed in prayer. 
"I have many different interpretations of The Last Supper, which seems to be a common theme in fan iconography," he said. "Another thing I’ve noticed in my collecting is that the image of Jesus has evolved from a Renaissance image of him with a long beard to a more modern Jesus with a trimmed, short beard."
One public misconception about church fans is that only funeral homes advertised on the backs of them. But McNeill has fans advertising tobacco houses, tire dealers and auto repair shops. Some list three- and four-digit phone numbers.
See, I'm not the only one...

For mere pennies, I entertained myself for hours. I learned about American culture and history, and I have a small piece of it to hold onto. Way cool.

This has gotten long so I'll stop here and make another essay tomorrow about the mushroom book and botanicals in general. Have a  wonderful Saturday!

Further Info:

Second Hand Stores-

Here’s Why You Should Definitely Be Shopping At A Thrift Store

10 reasons why thrift stores are awesome

Phone exchanges-

Reminiscences of the old letter exchanges

Look Back, Chicago!

Church Fans-

Fannin' the Heat Away

A time when hand fans cooled church-goers

Material History of American Religion Project: Church fans

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sounding off about real estate/renovation shows

I like watching real estate shows. I like them because I like design, and I like the aspect of being able to feast on the design of the interior rooms of people's homes. I like to see why people are looking for one type of home or another, or why they are building it this way and not that way.

There are three real estate shows I've been watching.

Tiny Paradise on HGTV: "Couples build tiny homes in idyllic locations."

Grand Designs on Youtube (British): "People pursue their visions and aspirations of building their own homes."

Escape to the Country on Netflix (British): "Helping prospective buyers find their dream home in the country."

In Tiny Paradise, a couple, sometimes young and starry-eyes exuberant, in other cases middle aged and wearily retiring, buy a plot of land in paradise somewhere and build a tiny house on it. Tiny houses are part of a growing movement where someone designs and dwells in a home that's less expensive to build and maintain, causes a lower impact on the land, and yet affords the person the ability to live in a beautiful area of the world, like seaside in Costa Rica or in the jungle of Mexico or in the Rocky Mountains. A 'tiny home' in America is generally considered to be less than 400 square feet. Sometimes a tiny home is on wheels and transportable, other times it has a foundation.

Then there's Grand Design. First of all, I enjoy British reality television more than American (and Australian and Canadian) because the UK reality shows are always more low key. On reality and UK/OZ/Canadian competition shows there seem to be calmer people who are more respectful, and hosts who seem truly interested in the people and the process.

In Grand Design, we follow a couple who has purchased a plot of land and plans to build a house on it. The hook is that the land and/or the house present challenges. In one episode, a young couple had saved money and bought a postage stamp sized lot in London and planned to build an eco-friendly house of three levels on it. The lot was so small it could barely hold a bucket loader, never mind room for the machine to move around and deposit its goods.

In another episode, a middle aged couple bought a dilapidated Victorian dairy in London and planned to make a home for themselves and their son within it, updating the structure and making it habitable for their modern needs, yet retaining the character and qualities of the history behind the place.

In a third episode, a New Zealand couple with several children bought a plot of land sight unseen in Britain, and planned to build a self-designed home on it. Te issue was that the land was incredibly steep (they knew this going in). They had designed a house specifically to suit the difficult challenge the steep grade that hillside dwelling presented.

In Escape to the Country, a couple who had been living the rat race life in one of Britain's cities decides to leave it all behind and escape to some part of the United Kingdom that is bucolic, rural, slower paced, and gorgeous. I mean, REALLY gorgeous. Even if you don't care for real estate shows, just looking at the beautiful parts of the UK is incredible. They also spend time teaching about the history of the locations and the industries there (tanning, horse raising, lace making. etc). So this show is beautiful and interesting.

The seekers are interested in a higher quality of life and are ready to make a big change in order to get it. The areas are so pretty if I had $300,000 I'd escape to the British countryside, too!

So those are the shows I've been watching lately. Here is my review.

People who build tiny homes are part of a movement called the Tiny House Movement. These are people who deliberately eschew large dwellings for various reasons. They want to make a limited footprint on the land. They want to live a low-impact lifestyle. They are conservatively saving money or entering an alternate lifestyle that includes a lot of barter and such. And so on.

Sadly, in several of the Tiny Paradise episodes, it turned out that the people list the house on a site like AirBnB and rent it out! This, to me, is the opposite of low impact, eco-living. It makes a mockery of all the philosophy the couple has spouted at the beginning of the show. It really ruined it for me to discover that these people claiming all this low impact living and adhering to the tiny house philosophy are just out to grab a buck from this house they had all this free help to build in the first place.

As an aside, I have been an advocate of tiny house living since 1990. I am a grandma in the tiny house movement, which is not new and wasn't started by millennials. I've lived tiny since 1990 and have experimented with small, low impact, non-consumerism lifestyle by living on in a sailboat, a small camper, and now a tiny apartment. Who fought at against zoning officials, experienced bias and prejudice, and called for the necessity of different land use ideas. So it is a personal affront to see the 'movement' taken over by people who in fact are living a high-impact, high-consumerism philosophy and call it tiny living.

The Grand Designs couples...their build is usually pushing the edge of the envelope of financial feasibility or reasonable topography, or doable size, whatever limit they've decided to try and overcome, the overwhelming feeling you get by the end is that the project has sucked all the life out of the couple. If the host asked them 'would you do it all again?' the feeling you get from watching them struggle through so many difficulties and setbacks  is that they'd respond "I'd rather slit my throat first." They've would up with a house they have come to love-hate, or a mountain of debt they owe to Dad or Brother or The Bank, or a job they gave up to be the project manager since the build overtook their whole life, or a strained marriage. Not all episodes arelike that, some feature happypeople doeing exactly whatthey wanted. But the episodes which feature soemone disheartened with DIY building are at the same time interesting and sad. 

Escape To the Country is gorgeous, as I mentioned. And the couples they choose are always low key. I'ts refreshing to see a British couple defer to one another, to discuss things politely, and to move through the house as guests and not a herd of elephants. The US couples on the real estate shows are, ahem, less polite, gentle, and deferential. The homes are absolutely lovely to look at. The host never tries to upsell the couple. In fact, he or she always seems to find a home or two that is under the couple's stated budget. So all that is good. The only thing that is difficult about watching that show is that there is never an ending. Most times, the show concludes with the couple still thinking about which house to buy. Even if there is a conclusion, the show never goes back and films what the interior looks like after the couple has made it their own. So you're sort of left hanging. It's like sticking with watching the 4 hour Academy Awards show to the end, and you get to the Best Picture category and they pull out the envelope and say "And the winner is..." and the screen goes black.

Oh well, lol, that is my take on the recent real estate home shows I've been watching. What shows do you enjoy! Which ones aggravate you? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Geeking out on organizing my bookshelves

My philosophy and commitment is to tiny living with low consumerism. Last month I wrote a piece about re-using what you already have to solve a problem, rather than running out to buy something new. The issue arose because I'd been gifted with a bunch of books, but living in a small apartment which I like to keep uncluttered, I'd run out of room and was unwilling to start making piles of books around. I looked at what I had and decided to use a CD tower I'd put outside for a plant stand, and bring it in and make an additional bookshelf. Problem solved.

That was the issue about the books in my Theology section of my lovely home library- too many for the bookcases. But half my books are secular.

I received a book about the early days of Winston Churchill I'm really looking forward to reading, and I bought this charming book from 1945 at the second hand store the other day. I had no room to put them on the shelves.

All my books are organized by topic or theme, including the secular ones. I have an Education section, Natural History, Reference, Novels, The American West, Medieval & Renaissance, and so on. My bookcases are all pretty well organized except for one, the one in the bedroom that I don't use a lot. This had become the catch-all, sadly. I also had not emptied and dusted it in quite some time. (OK, never). Every time I went into the bedroom I'd see it and my stomach would clench and the passing thought arose, "I really have to get to that."

Today was the day. I decided earlier in the week to make a fun project out of it and use the time not only to clean and organize but re-organize the topical sections that had slowly been split up as I carelessly tossed a book here or there.

Why is this important?

Because when you live tiny, everything has to have its place. Secondly, when you accumulate stuff, you have to know what you have, and you have to be able to put your hands on it when you need it. Those are basic Tenets of Organizing.

I have 5 bookcases in the living room, and two in the bedroom.

Below, Mythology, Poetry & Opera, Renaissance & Medieval. Some random Natural History and American West orphaned from the rest in the bedroom. This is untenable.

Below are theology books that could not fit in the main bookcase. And router and modem so I don't have to look at them. These are about church life, missionary biographies, discernment.

Main bookcase. It dominates the living room. Top shelf: Conchology, Art. The rest are theology: commentaries, devotionals, church history.

Below are a few theology books I can't fit into the other two bookshelves.

The bookcase in the kitchen next to my work table has my Bibles, the printer, pens and other office supplies, books I'm reading now, scanner, binders of notes from online classes, and pads of paper. It's all within reach so it makes for a very efficient work station.

Reference books. Big ones! This was the CD Tower/Plant Stand/Bookcase problem solved issue I mentioned up top.

So this afternoon I started with the top shelf and worked my way down.

I reunited the orphaned books and it feels so good. The basket on the middle shelf holds eye glasses and eyeglass cases, plus some hosiery that tends to get lost in the sock drawer. However, if I need the shelf space later I can always find new homes for those smaller items and put the basket in the garage until I need it again.

The books aren't so packed in that I can't even get one out. I threw away a few and made a pile of cookbooks and two others to take to school and give away or put on the swap shelf. A few things I put in the bin I have in the closet. The closet is for deep storage. When you live tiny, you want the available space maximized for things you need to touch more often. This calls for some decision-making, which is why I 'scheduled' it for this weekend instead of the evening after work.

Best of all:

The house is orderly. I've gone through my books so I've refreshed my mind of what I have. This is good if I need to reference something, or if a friend states a need and I can fill it by giving one away. Like, "I really want to read 'To Sir, With Love' but I can't find a copy." I can say, "Oh! I have one I can give you!" Also, the bookcase has been cleaned from top to bottom.

This blog post might seem unnecessarily detailed and/or mundane, but it's my part in attempting to promote the philosophies of tiny living/respecting and using what you have, and how to keep a home organized.

After I got done cleaning/organizing/re-shelving I took a nap. Of course.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Frugal cooking: When it doesn't work out

I'd mentioned that a friend gave me a huge bowl of veggies for Christmas/Birthday. Mostly they were root vegetables, which keep. I've used all of it except for two turnips. I'll make something out of them tomorrow.

I used the acorn squash last weekend. I'd looked up a recipe to use it in a different way than the usual 'cut in half-scoop out seeds, roast' kind of cooking.

So I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and then sliced it into crescents. THEN I roasted! LOL, kind of the same but different. I thought the slices would make a nice side dish of portions that would be easy to drop in my lunch bag each day.

I followed the recipe, but maybe I sliced the cuttings too thinly, because they came out sort of dry. Hmmm. What to do.

The other day when I was home on a snow day, I peeled the skin edges off and I was left with a mound of dry-ish squash slices. I decided to make a soup. I had some good chicken broth left so I put a sliced onion into the pot and cooked until it was translucent, added an already baked potato, cut up into cubes, and the squash. I simmered that at very low temp with some spices. I put half of it into the blender when it cooled, and left the other half to make a texture of smooth chunks. It was very good! Saved the squash, I'm brilliant!

I then promptly ruined it by adding some milk (as the recipe suggested). It just tasted funny to me, squash and milk. It wasn't good like a bisque or a chowder. It was just funny. So I saved my squash only to ruin it again. I'm an idiot! I should know when to quit while I'm ahead! LOL.

What will I do now that it didn't work out, twice? Why, eat it of course. No waste. I'll live, it only tastes a little bit funny. Maybe I'll add a melted bouillon cube broth to it to think the milkiness of it. Anyway, tomorrow I'm making lentil soup. Back to familiar ground.

I'd bought some tilapia and I baked it a few days ago. I had one slice left yesterday. Without being able to eat bread, I couldn't make a sandwich out of it like I enjoy doing, with cheese and a tomato. (mmm). Just a slab of fish meat doesn't really appeal to me all that much. I decided to use my last two mushrooms and the rest of a tomato and make a little salad with the fish, cut up. I added Italian dressing to it and a bit of salt, and voila, a chilled salad that was easy to prepare, tasty and healthy. I enjoyed it. I'll do that some more. Tilapia is usually low-cost and available at the grocery store.

I still love a fish sandwich though, one of my favorite lunches.

I'll make the lentil soup tomorrow, and I have some green beans and tofu that I'll make into a stir fry with rice noodles. I also have a good bit of fruit which includes fresh pineapple, and with the ripening bananas I'll make two-ingredient banana-oatmeal cookies.

After an unusually frigid period of temps in the low teens and wind chills in the single digits, we have a reprieve of temps in the 60s. It is going to be a nice day. I went outside at sunrise and took a few photos of my yard.

This is my favorite view. I LOVE this birdhouse.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Musing on moonlight

I live in a rural county where there are no street lights to speak of. When I go outside at night in my yard, I can see lots of stars. This is a nightly delight for me. The changing positions of the constellations, the different locations through the seasons of the planets, all combine to make the sky dynamic and ever-changing palette of a portrait of glory.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

(Psalm 19:1-2).

The moon is a special pleasure. It pulls the major weight in making the night and morning sky dynamic. Its phases and nightly rising and setting are also captivating to observe. When there is a supermoon or a blue moon or a strawberry moon and such, I go outside and try to take photos. Well, I DO take photos, but what I try to do is take good photos. I don't have a tripod so the photos invariably turn out just OK or sometimes not very good at all.

Here are a few of my favorite moon photos-

Strawberry moon

Clearest shot I ever got. And I've tried many times over the years! At least
I have one, lol

Pink dawn & moonset behind chicken houses

When I was in my traveling period, one of the most wonderful experiences I'd had was attending the McDonald Observatory Star Party. McDonald Observatory is part of the University of Texas at Austin but 450 miles west of the campus, in West Texas at Fort Davis. Yes, it's remote. All of West Texas felt remote, a feeling helped by the fact that the landscape at times even looked like the moon!

At the Star Party, visitors enjoy night sky constellation tours and views of celestial objects through a number of telescopes, with scientists and astronomers standing by to explain what you're seeing. I was privileged to see Saturn and its rings through the observatory telescope!

There's something about moonlight that just tickles my fancy. As a kid I was entranced by it. Truth be told, as an adult I'm pretty fond of moonlight, still. When the moon shone in my window at night, I'd lay bathing in it and dream of fairies sliding down its beams. I'd bask in the delicate light washing me with exquisite daintiness. I was always amazed at how the moonlight appeared on my bed, washing my coverlets with elegant light so distinct from the glow of the sun. The moonlight was more austerely silver, sliding across my pillow and like quicksilver, drifting away no matter how hard I tried to hold it close to me.

David Bowie's song Let's Dance contained the phrase 'serious moonlight' which, given the ephemeral quality of moonlight is something that would be as far as serious as possible, but that's the joy of poetry - mind-bending juxtapositions.

Van Morrison's Moondance, with its verse

And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush

Seems more in keeping with the qualities of moonlight.

Now, here's a thoroughly drenched atmospheric beginning to a poem, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes,

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

Oh my, 'ghostly galleon' is a turn of phrase I envy his mind to think up! And tossed upon cloudy seas brings to mind the exact photo above of the moon in its clouds. How wonderful are poets and writers!

Here is a classic poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery called Harbor Moonrise. I love its charming evocation of the harbor particularly with the mother-o'-pearl edging of the harbor of all the lights twinkling at night, like a woman with a lustrous necklace. The moon as the pilot ship of unknown seas, similar to Noyes' ghostly galleon upon cloudy seas. Ah, when language is used well, it's a joy.

Here is a page of classic poems about the moon

As the moon rises and sets in its course each night, look up. Remember the men who sailed there in their own rocket ships, not on wings of poetry but in metal tanks of gas and hope. They landed, walked, admired, and came home having truly bathed in the beams of the distant but close companion of earth. Each night we look at the wandering pilot ship of the skies, the eternal dance among stars and planets, celestial bodies which our God has made.

Harbor Moonrise by Lucy Maud Montgomery

There is never a wind to sing o'er the sea
On its dimpled bosom that holdeth in fee
Wealth of silver and magicry;
And the harbor is like to an ebon cup
With mother-o'-pearl to the lips lined up,
And brimmed with the wine of entranced delight,
Purple and rare, from the flagon of night.

Lo, in the east is a glamor and gleam,
Like waves that lap on the shores of dream,
Or voice their lure in a poet's theme!
And behind the curtseying fisher boats
The barge of the rising moon upfloats,
The pilot ship over unknown seas
Of treasure-laden cloud argosies.

Ere ever she drifts from the ocean's rim,
Out from the background of shadows dim,
Stealeth a boat o'er her golden rim;
Noiselessly, swiftly, it swayeth by
Into the bourne of enchanted sky,
Like a fairy shallop that seeks the strand
Of a far and uncharted fairyland.

Now, ere the sleeping winds may stir,
Send, O, my heart, a wish with her,
Like to a venturous mariner;
For who knoweth but that on an elfin sea
She may meet the bark that is sailing to thee,
And, winging thy message across the foam,
May hasten the hour when thy ship comes home?

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Overanalyzing my soup

Oh, happy weekend. What a restorative, wonderful thing a weekend is. Not that I had such a hard week at work. Half of it was at home due to the lengthy Christmas holiday break. Wednesday was a teacher work day, so we didn't even have kids. It was a quiet day working and preparing. Thursday and Friday the kids came back and we resumed our regular schedule, but not totally. We won't have reading groups until Monday and I wasn't doing any interventions my first hour. So, again, a slower day.

Even so, the resumption of work in an elementary school after a two week time off always hits me like a ton of bricks. Regular readers know that I value quiet time (look at the title of my blog, after all). I get easily overwhelmed and overstimulated with all the hubbub at school, so I restrict my sensory input while I'm at home in order to try and maintain a balance and to recover so I'm fit for public the next day.

This morning I arose at 5 am, because I'd gotten 7 hours of sleep and that is when my body wakes me up. I love the regularity with which my body stays on schedule. 7 hours on the dot. So I got up and started the coffee and did a little cooking and then took out the trash. By then the sun was just poking up over the horizon, and the sky was azure laced with pink.

The half moon was blazing brightly and starkly down upon a still earth. No traffic. No people. Peaceful. Just the ever present rooster crowing next door, the whisper of a light breeze stirring in the magnolia tree, and a few sleepy birds chirping hopefully.

Just the way I like it.

I made a black bean chili with onion, corn, and roasted red peppers. I added some rice I'd had left over. It will be topped at serving with sour cream and avocado slices, as the chili will thicken through the week.

I also popped some potatoes in my crockpot, and as mentioned I had cooked roasted red peppers, and roasted carrots, baked tilapia and salmon, and roasted carrots. Those are my meals for the week. I also have yogurt and fruit in the fridge for desserts and snacks.

It ended up being a huge pot of chili, but that's OK, I'll eat it for lunch every day. My style of cooking doesn't suit unless you don't mind eating the same thing every day. I like that. I know what I'll be having and I don't have to put any mental energy into deciding, preparing, or buying something.

Samantha Craft has an autistic son and is an autistic person herself - as she discovered later in her life. She wrote a book called Everyday Aspie, and it's getting good reviews. I read her blog (now retired since she wrote her book) and this checklist for Females with Aspergers is phenomenal. It helped me understand some things. Many, many things on this checklist are true for me. Not all, but many. This one especially resonated:
  1. Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually
I do analyze everything continually. I analyze the most efficient way to organize a schedule of tasks, and then whether to perform them clockwise or counterclockwise in the room. Say, making the bed, putting away the clothes, and so on. I analyze the most efficient way to make the meals for the week, which to do first, next, last, in what order and how big to cut things and so on. I do all this in my mind in two to three minutes. I do the same in the grocery store. If I forget an item I won't backtrack. I leave it. If it's a critical item for cooking I adjust my menu. I analyze where to put things in the car depending on how I plan to park it when I get home. Sometimes I edit a sentence three ways before saying it as I'm saying it. Whatever I do I analyze first. I expend significant amounts of mental energy analyzing, assessing, and deciding everything at every moment. It's not unconscious, but nearly so. My brain whirrs at high speed, all day. If I can suspend one decision by cooking something and sticking with it all week for lunch and not have to decide, all the better.

The 1981 movie The Four Seasons starred Alan Alda and Carol Burnett. I liked it back then. One of my favorite scenes is when the three couples are relaxing on a yacht, psychiatrist Alda breaks the peaceful mood by analyzing something aloud. They all throw shells at him and tell him to shut up, that he overanalyzes everything. Peace is restored, but only momentarily. Alda breaks the silence again, saying "But do you know why I analyze?" That's me.

I'm enjoying the book Run with the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams. The book blurb says Ferrol Sams was a physician, humorist, storyteller, and the bestselling author of eight novels rooted in the oral tradition of southern humor and folklore. He lived in Fayetteville GA. He is a good writer who brings the between-the-wars time period of red clay Georgia to life. One reviewer said Sams was like a modern day Mark Twain. I agree.

Also I'm liking a Philip Graham Ryken book called Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts. Book blurb:
The creation sings to us with the visual beauty of God’s handiwork. But what of man-made art? Much of it is devoid of sacred beauty and is often rejected by Christians. Christian artists struggle to find acceptance within the church.
It's only 64 pages so I expect to finish it today after church. After that I have no idea which book I'll select next. There are so many I have to choose from!

I hope you all have a wonderful week. It is supposed to warm up finally later in the week. No more tens for overnight temps and highs in the mid to upper 60's Georgia comes through for my climate enjoyment again!

Here are a few photos to leave you with-

Winter in the back yard

Hot tea in Aynsley Louis XV bone china tea cup

Murray enjoying the fire

Friday, December 29, 2017

Of Ink Spots, airline road, and china

A trip today on the back roads to Ila, and The Special Store, is a swooping, soaring ride at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It made me think of my favorite ride of all time, The Airline Road, Route 9, in northern Maine.

It is not named for airplanes, as the road was first surveyed in 1797, and began to be used more heavily in the mid 1800s when the stage came through. It is specifically a segment of Route 9 from Bangor to Calais.
The leg from Bangor to Calais is often referred to as "The Airline" commonly thought to be due to its shorter route than the older U.S. 1. (Before the coming of air travel, the term airline often referred to such a shortcut.)  Wikipedia

However, the local legend is that it's called The Airline Road because of the geography. As you drive, the elevation is a little higher, and the vistas are sweeping over the blueberry barrens, glacial fields, pine forests. It feels as though you are flying at low altitude over the tree tops, soaring and swooping with the eagles. It's incredible.

When you handle a good machine, it feels great. I was driving a VW Passat. It's built like a tank, meaning solidly. It traverses the bumps as if they were pillows, and the interior is practically sound proof. I was singing to my music and enjoying the Georgia scenery, as well as liking the handling of the car.

Is there any better feeling, of being free and unencumbered, on vacation, driving and singing, on a sunny day?

My journey took me to The Special Store. I've mentioned this place before. They buy from estate sales and then resell, but seemingly for pennies. The prices are incredible and the quality of the items is astounding. It's a bargain hunter's dream come true. It's like a treasure hunt inside of a museum, but you get to take home the cool stuff you find.

Speaking of taking home, this is the stuff I got today:

Aynsley fine English Bone China is among the best to collect. It's a good name. I thought the gold was elegant. From
The name "Aynsley" has been connected with English bone china tableware, giftware and commemorative items since it was founded in 1775 by John Aynsley dans le Staffordshire.  The company is one of the last remaining manufacturers of bone china in Stoke-on-Trent, the historic centre for the production of English bone china.
Over the last 200 plus years Aynsley grew into a well-respected china company that was commissioned by royalty and that exports china to over 70 countries. Although modernisation changed many working practices in Stoke-on-Trent, Aynsley kept the traditional method of throwing and painting china by hand.

The proprietor told me the book published in 1982, run with the horsemen, was by a local man, by Ferrol Sams, who went to Emory and is now a doctor. It's a coming of age memoir of growing up in Middle Georgia. She's read his works before and recommended them. So I picked it up. It has good reviews on Amazon and from the NY Times also. I got the Hibbert book because I love King Arthur.

Ahrenfeldt is one of the factories that made Limoges fine bone china. Charles Ahrenfeldt was active under this particular mark, from 1890 to 1930.

I haven't researched the history of this pattern, so I don't know why the double handle. Yet. It's so elegant though.

My car has a cassette player and a CD player. I got "30 years of No. 1 Country Hits", the "Ink Spots", and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band "Will the Circle Be Unbroken". Also Gospel/Contemporary music by Phillips, Craig, & Dean, and the Mamas & the Papas. I used to listen to them on the radio when they first came out. Oy I'm old. The teacups and saucers were $3.15 each.

If you don't know of The Ink Spots, here is from
The Ink Spots were a popular African-American vocal group who gained international fame in the 1930s and 1940s. Best known for their recordings of Pop ballads, The Ink Spots were frequent chart toppers totaling over 50 hits in their 17 year recording career. Their best selling record "If I Didn't Care" sold over 19 million copies and is currently the 7th best selling single of all time. Bill Kenny (leader) disbanded The Ink Spots in 1954 however many spin-off or imposter groups have been performing and recording ever since. 
The proprietor and I reminisced about when music was music, the radio station had an actual DJ you could call and ask for some particular piece of music, do dedications, and the people's interest and votes made the songs climb the charts, not a corporate robot DJ with a shove down your throat song list. Oy, I sound like a grouchy old lady. "In my day sonny boy..."

The car I'm driving has a terrific sound system and I played Mamas/Papas all the way home.

The music was 50 cents apiece.

It's a retro 1960s glass vase, hand blown.

Still life, with vase:

So that was my day. I'm now having orange spice tea from the Aynsley cup and about to start the Sams book.

Have a good weekend and Happy New Year everyone.