Monday, September 15, 2014

Machias

Fog rolling up the Machias River...the place I used to vacation. A small cabin with a yard full of lupines and the river just below.
EPrata photo

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Zombie Apocalypse

click to enlarge

The sheep zombie apocalypse has begun.

Bad kitty, good kitty; northern lights, and cooking

Yay, it's the weekend!

There are lots of reasons to be celebrating. My friends had a baby, and mom & baby are coming home from the hospital today. Their baby is a girl, healthy and all fingers and toes. The pregnancy was difficult and touch and go sometimes, so we are all thanking the Lord for a new soul added to a loving family this morning.

In Mid-September the heat breaks and fall here in Georgia is spectacular. Though today is supposed to be hot and humid, the rest of the week is supposed to reach only the upper 70s and low 80s for high temps. I truly love having the windows open all day and night, feeling the fresh breeze, enjoying my cats at the window smelling and chirping at bugs and birds going by.

There was a moderately severe solar storm this weekend. An X-class (the biggest) coronal mass ejection launched off the sun and hit earth. Though sometimes CMEs can put out radios or interfere with electronics, it usually just sparks auroras. The harder hitting the CME the brighter the northern lights. Get a look at this. It was taken at Casco Maine last night, a town only a few miles from where I lived for many years. I used to know the photographer. The photo was featured on Spaceweather.com

"I took the picture from Casco, Maine, facing north
towards the Presidential Range in New Hampshire,"
says photographer John Stetson. "Red, purple, green, blue--all the colors were there!"
The storm sparked Auroras as far south as Arizona! See the red glow?!

Aurora viewed in Payson, Arizona (Chris Schur/SpaceWeather.com)

My kitty Murray is coming along. His personality is developing. He is becoming more loving and demonstrative. He still won't let me pick him up from the floor. He runs away like smoke, it's like trying to cuddle a wisp. But when he wants cuddling he jumps on the table next to my laptop and lets me hold him against my shoulder. He throws a paw over my upper arm and nestles his little head in.

Last night he got yelled at three times in three hours. At 3:00 am he started trying to bang the pictures off the wall. There is a very heavy one hanging over the couch, and if I forget to build a pillow barrier, he sits on top of the back of the couch and gets a paw under the picture and whacks it. He actually did knock a picture down once, it broke the frame. It was a first edition, original Fred Thompson hand tinted photograph. Aside from being valuable, I love it. I would be crushed and upset if it had broken. I bought it when I was 8 years old at a church flea market, and my mom had it framed for me.


So I sat up in bed and hollered "No, Murray!"

At 4:00 am I heard him banging something around on the floor. I mumbled "nooo, murray..." and then remembered it was the empty stationery box I'd left on the bureau. That was the sound. I fell back asleep.

At 5:00 am I heard a tinkling like a bell or keys. But they weren't keys, it sounded more like change jingling. I could not figure out what that sound was, so I sat up in bed and hollered "NO MURRAY!"

At 7:00 am I was sitting at the table with my coffee, typing. Murray hopped up and looked at me. When I looked at him, his head bowed a little. If it was possible for a kitten to look abashed this was it. I folded him in my arms, and he threw his head and body into a full hug, tight. Awww.

It reminded me of the children's book, "No David!" by David Shannon, where on every page, David is getting into trouble. His mom is hollering "No, David!" until the last page where there is a big hug, and the mom says "I love you David."

I love my kitty. He really is a good boy.

Ahhh, weekends. I have a lot to do today and I'm happy about it. I already wrote a blog essay at The End Time. I will answer several substantive emails, people asking for help with research. I'll do the dishes, laundry, change the sheets, and vacuum. I want to get my chores done today so tomorrow I have time to read. I've got a lot of good books and somehow days and days go by with no time for me to read them.

The cooking for this week's meals will be: salmon patties, tomato-mushroom soup, banana-oatmeal bars, and quinoa salad. Of course the usual bible reading and prayers are added in, and hopefully a nap.

Oh my, that's a lot. I better get going!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blue water thoughts

I was given a new computer at school. Yay! My old, old one froze up, was installed with Microsoft Word 2003, lol, and wouldn't play DVDs. Primitive.

My turn in line came up and a spiffy new computer, complete with MS 8 :( was ready to go. Now for the hard work- finding a desktop theme. You know, the big photo or the slide show in the background. Hey, if I'm going to be looking at the screen during the day, even briefly as I do at school, the scene is all-important.

I was saddened to see that my long-beloved blue Bahamian tiny island with the palm tree was no longer available. Nor was a suitable photo like the one on my laptop at home available- a rocky shore, with just the right proportion of rock-to-beach.

After some searching, failing and then going online to download a theme, I found a blue water photo with a Bahamian boat, a palm tree in the foreground. I got to thinking about beaches, and ocean ... dwelling serenely in my daydream all day, a hammock strung between two palm trees, a white sand beach, and blue water with a pod of porpoises lazing in the shallow waves.

When I got home the beach theme was still on my mind. So of course I queued up The Endless Summer, (1963) THE seminal surfing movie. It is a great documentary- charming, informative, casual, picturesque, and by now, historic.

The Endless Summer
They call it The Endless Summer the ultimate surfing adventure, crossing the globe in search of the perfect wave. From the uncharted waters of West Africa, to the shark-filled seas of Australia, to the tropical paradise of Tahiti and beyond, these California surfers accomplish in a few months what most people never do in a lifetime...They live their dream. Director Bruce Brown creates a film so powerful it has become a timeless masterpiece that continues to capture the imagination of every new generation. When it first played in theaters, audiences lined up to see it again and again, spellbound by its thrilling excitement and awesome photography. But in fact, what's most compelling about the film is the sport of surfing itself, and once you've seen it, you'll never forget why.
The Endless Summer is a great film. Another enjoyable surf movie is Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story (2010).
Young female surfers have been nicknamed 'Gidget' for almost 50 years and yet the true story of Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the real 'Gidget,' and how her account of surfing Malibu in the mid-1950s became the basis for a best-selling novel and spurred a national cultural phenomenon has never been explored until now. This touching look at a unique father/daughter relationship and the connection to so many lives and pop culture stories is as original as it is fun. Capturing both a love for our beaches and a love for surfing Accidental Icon is a real California story that could only come to life at the movies.
You could always watch the ORIGINAL Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon surf/beach party movie, in a stroke of originality, called, Beach Party. (1963) And then pair that with their 1987 movie starring both Annette and Frankie, as a spoof of themselves 24 years later. It's called Back to the Beach.

I recently saw Splinters, an interesting 2011 documentary about surfing in Papua New Guinea. Another very good movie.
Splinters is the first feature-length documentary film about the evolution of indigenous surfing in the developing nation of Papua New Guinea. In the 1980s an intrepid Australian pilot left behind a surfboard in the seaside village of Vanimo. Twenty years on, surfing is not only a pillar of village life but also a means to prestige. With no access to economic or educational advancement, let alone running water and power, village life is hermetic. A spot on the Papua New Guinea national surfing team is the way to see the wider world; the only way.
If you don't mind Susan Casey's ethics, then her surfer book "The Wave" would be interesting reading.

And though it has nothing to do with surfing, but everything to do with beautiful blue water settings and starring a young Denzel Washington ;), The Mighty Quinn is a good movie to hunker down and watch.

So those are my blue water thoughts of the day.


Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Graphics Fairy, good movie, weekend

I took a half personal day Friday, and after a very quick grocery shopping, I was home by about 12:30. I ate a fabulous turkey and avocado sandwich, with a piece of lemon cake and chilled herb tea, got caught up on the episode of Project Runway from the night before. (It was a very good episode, some of the clothes I actually liked, this time).

By 2:30 I was ZONKED. I took a three hour nap!

So when I found this on Twitter I copied it immediately:

Sometimes it's necessary to go outside my comfort zone. And by "comfort zone" I mean bed.

Yahoo! I know whatcha mean.

For you ladies who do crafts, here is a great site I found, it's called The Graphics Fairy and there are thousands of downloadable free graphic and vintage art pieces. Here are a few of my faves.

From category Botanicals:








From category Architecture:




From category Advertising:
Thousands more! They are in high resolution for good printing.



When I write a blog it often takes me as long or longer to find the right images. So with the Graphic Fairy delivering all these 'public domain,' not copyrighted images, this is definitely worth a bookmark.

I watched a very good movie last night. It is called Monsieur Lazhar. It is a French movie of an Algerian man who fled to Montreal, becoming a substitute teacher when the 6th grade teacher hangs herself in the classroom, with the children never knowing his own grief. It is a touching story of love, caught in the administrative nightmare of over-protective schools and rigid curricula, where hugging a child is a rebellious act of defiance. It is in French with subtitles. I truly enjoyed this movie.


The heat is hanging on here. By mid September the heat usually breaks, and I sure am looking forward to that. Overall it has been a good summer, with only the last two weeks really heating up relentlessly. I've had the AC on for a week straight, and I cannot WAIT to turn it off. I love the birds and the clean air and the quiet. I get none of those with the window AC unit on. Though I do get the cool. So I should stop complaining now

Have a nice rest of the weekend everyone :)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Long weekend and mason jars

It was a gorgeous morning driving to school today. In the pre-dawn gloaming, there was white mist rising above wooden post fences and green pastures with grazing cows and sheep. Lovely.

I think if you live where there are no large animals you're missing out. I love the cows, sheep, deer, horses, emus, buffalo, donkeys, and goats where I live. They animate the landscape, make it dynamic. Their lively lives on the pastures remind me I'm not the only living thing on this patch of earth. I share it with other beasts.

And the animals are cool. I enjoyed all the cows running to the freshly delivered hay yesterday, they are ungainly but also run with a gait that is almost rhythmic. The donkey foals leaping around on ungainly legs are so cute. The buffalo staring. OK, that last one scares me a bit. But large animals are great and I'm blessed to have them around.

Of the smaller variety, there are plenty of those! Rabbits (a warren next door on the pasture), loads of chipmunks (seem to be getting overrun) skunks (a family lives in the culvert in front of the house), coyotes (occasionally) and foxes, armadilloes (yes, they're in GA), possum, and snakes ('nuff said) all make for a very alive place to live in.

In the USE WHAT YOU HAVE category, I was making poached eggs recently. I never got over the loss of my microwave poacher. I've looked and looked at the Dollar Store and on Amazon for a new one but either they are to fancy or too expensive or too cheaply made (tend to explode the eggs). In using water to poach, I have to remember to put a drop of vinegar in the water so the egg white doesn't pull apart. But what I really want is a ring to put them in while they poach in the water so they stay contained and come out in a nice circle. I looked around and thought and thought- "What do I have for a sturdy metal ring the size of an egg that can withstand heat and be the right height for the pan?" Aha! The mason jar rings that close the mason jar. Voila, it works perfectly. It is just the size of an English muffin. Use what you have! Chances are, you already own or have access to something that will work well or at least approximate the task you need the thing for.

There is no better feeling than coming home with fresh groceries (thank you, payday) and knowing there's fresh produce in the fridge to gorge on for the weekend. Pineapple! Cantaloupe! Peaches! Bananas! I see smoothies in my future!

Unless it is emptying the lunch box and stowing it away for three days! No work...Ahhh, a long weekend. I'm looking forward to it. Are you?


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mushrooms!

I like mushrooms. I am searching for mushroom soup recipes right now and I got to thinking about the mushrooms I like.

Once in the fall on the foggy mountains of Umbria, I saw an old Italian man and his dog searching for the elusive and potently tasty black truffles. It was truffle season and soon the entire mountain would be covered with aged Italians with wisdom gathering this bounty from the ground.

Once, my husband and his friend and I went searching for tree mushrooms. They are known as oyster mushrooms and they are edible. Though they can be tough, if you cook them in broth and butter for a while, plus garlic of course, they were supposed to be tasty. Our friend had learned about which mushrooms were poisonous but he wasn't typically a pay-attention type, so this was a big adventure for us, both gathering food direct from the earth and also relying on our scatterbrained friend to tell us which shrooms were safe to eat.

Once in Maine outside my office, a humongous mushroom grew on a tree. It was not an oyster mushroom. We called our friend the mycologist Sam Ristich and he came over and told us about the mushroom. It was a polyporus squamosus, also edible. We didn't eat it. We just admired it. Until it grew so large it fell off the tree and then the snow came and covered it up.

Last fall we had days and days of rain. A mushroom patch sprung up under the tree. They were pretty mushrooms, unlike the oyster or dryad's saddle. They were perfect delicate little white mushrooms. I wanted to eat them in the worst way but I think they are poisonous. I believe they are from the amanita family and this genus has names like Destroying Angel and Death Cap. In my imagination I thought that the elves and fairies would live there and I called it Mushroom Town.

Here are the mushrooms I have known. Two photos are from Maine and the rest are from my yard in Georgia!















Saturday, August 23, 2014

Biphasic sleep or sleeping in segments sounds pretty good!

We completed our first full week of school yesterday at 3:00 and it was a success. The kids did very well and the teachers got into the swing of things very quickly.

The weather did not cooperate as usual, being August. Though I have to say that August 2014 has been relatively cool compared to previous years. Temps went above 100 for the first time this week so mostly we have been spared the searing high heat and soul-crushing humidity. And the temps usually break in mid September so even if we have a mini heat wave at this point, it will all be over soon.

Because of the heat we stayed inside for recess the last two days, but mostly the school week went well.

I enjoyed the kids, their little clean hair bows and new sneakers and shiny backpacks and light-up-the-world smiles when they figure out how to do something that's new correctly.

I was working with some kindergarteners, drawing. One boy drew a circle within a circle. Normally I just ask them to "tell me about that" because at that age, any line or squiggle could be anything from King Kong to an apple.

But the circle within a circle was drawn so perfectly that I felt it was safe to ask:

Is that a tire or a donut?
It's a potato!

Doh!

I'm pretty tired actually. It was a busy week and my legs and feet are killing me. Today I awoke at 5:30 as I do every day and did nearly every day during summer. I got up and worked for about three hours, writing, reading the bible, and making oatmeal granola bars before it got too hot. Tired, I went back to bed until 10:00.

I've been working again, and I'll go to bed again after this session, probably by 11:30, for another nap.

I've been looking into biphasic sleep, or sleep segments. What I'm doing isn't sleeping in phasic, controlled segments, of course, it's just the sleeps and naps of the middle aged, sedentary, overweight, exhausted person. But, did you know, in middle ages, people didn't sleep for 8 solid hours and then get up for a day of work? That this sleep pattern is a new phenomenon?

Here is an article about biphasic sleep
For our ancestors as recently as a couple hundred years ago, this kind of nighttime darkness lasted up to fourteen hours (well, it does today, too, but we mask it with all that lighting and housing). Artificial lighting meant candles and firewood, and those cost (money or time) and don’t really replace daylight (anyone who’s stifled yawns around a campfire knows that) like today’s artificial lighting replaces daylight. People got to bed earlier – because, unless you’re rich enough to burn candles all night, what else are you going to do when it’s dark everywhere but, as Thomas Middleton said, “sleepe, feed, and fart?” – and their sleep was biphasic, or broken up into two four hour segments, with the first beginning about two hours after nightfall.

The first segment of biphasic sleep was called “first sleep” or “deep sleep,” while the second was called “second sleep” or “morning sleep.” Numerous records of these terms persist throughout preindustrial European archival writings, while the concept of two sleeps is common in traditional cultures across the globe. Separating “first sleep” from “second sleep” was an “hour or more” of gentle activity and wakefulness. People generally didn’t spend this time online gaming or surfing the web or trolling the fridge for snacks; instead, they used it to pray, meditate, chat, or to simply just lie there and ruminate on life, the universe, and everything. It was still dark out so they tended to keep it pretty mellow. Sounds nice, huh?
Polyphasic sleep is not the two segments of 4 hours each with at least one hour of waking in between. Polyphasic sleep is "the practice of sleeping multiple times in a 24-hour period—usually more than two, in contrast to biphasic sleep (twice per day) or monophasic sleep (once per day)" according to Wikipedia, which also quotes historians as saying segmented sleep used to be the norm.

This can be seen even today in the European and Latin American siesta.

I'm for the polyphasic sleep. Yes, that's the one I pick! Actually during the summer when I allow my sleep patterns to emerge naturally, I tend to go to bed between 10pm and midnight, sleep till about 3 am, wake for a while, sleep again until 6:00 am, get up, return to bed around 3:00 pm for a nap for hour or even two, and then repeat.

I'm going to agitate for a polyphasic sleep fan club picket line. I'd start it now but I'm too tired. Time for a nap.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

I love it when I do things early in the day

On Saturday I received my Bountiful Basket. I washed and dried and out away the produce. I thought about what to do with it so I would be ready to cook it on Sunday morning before church. I do this before the heat gets hot outside. Today is was 93 degrees. I roast, boil, and bake. Usually.

When I don't prepare ahead, I pay for it. You know how behind you get when you don't do the things that you know you have to in order to make the week go more smoothly.

I hate that.

So this Sunday morning I woke up at 5:30, and I got up and chopped, roasted and processed. I made roasted potatoes, roasted onions and peppers, and roasted cauliflower. I cubed many mangoes and froze them. I cut up the cantaloupe. I boiled some eggs for my protein at lunch. I was happy!

For Sunday supper I boiled some pasta shells and sauteed a tomato, and threw in the roasted peppers and onions. A little shaker cheese on top and we were good to go. The half portion I didn't eat, I put in the lunchbox for tomorrow.

I'm SO GOOD!

Now all I have to do is repeat that 35 more times and I'll really be good...