To help you better prepare your finances, I will now disclose that the Dow will continue to fall until it reaches the 7200 mark, will then level out, and will slowly climb back up again. The NASDAQ will do the same, levelling out at the 1200 mark. I’m not certain how long it will take to reach the low-water mark, but I expect it will be late next winter.
Here’s an interesting weblog portal. I’m on there twice: an edge-on spiral galaxy near the lower right (the one with a bright red star just above it), and again as a single white point (either a star or a distant galaxy) just above and to the right of my other link. Unless your memorization skills are grand, this would be a good randon-weblog selector.
Call Me Trimtab. I adore R. Buckminster Fuller. He’s most famous (to the average person) for inventing the geodesic dome, but he was exactly the kind of person I try to be. His tombstone is inscribed with his guiding phrase, “Call me tribtab.” The trimtab is a small moving extention of a ship’s rudder. By moving the trimtab just a litlle bit, expending very little energy, the rudder is compelled to follow. And after the rudder, the ship. So changing something very small can change the course of something very large, like an aircraft carrier. Or society. Call me trimtab. A fellow has written a one man show about R. Buckminster Fuller, and it’s gotten rave reviews in California. I’d love to do it here sometime. I’ve finally gotten the contact information for the author, now I need to follow through.
Livestock are burning across Great Britain and Europe. British poet David Anthony has written a villanelle, a formal poetic structure, about the events. I post it here, unapproved and copied from a mailing list I’m on:
The guns are loud across the land tonight.
Grim beacon flames flash out from shire to shire
and horror groans without an end in sight.
Best not to look as marksmen expedite
such slaughter! Hired to empty every byre,
the guns are loud. Across the land tonight
Spring flinches at the foulness of the blight
that lurks within the pall above each pyre,
and horror groans without an end in sight
of pallid flames where all is darkly bright.
So draw the drapes and turn the music higher–
the guns are loud across the land tonight!
Take up the children; tuck their blankets tight:
try not to let them see that life’s a liar
and horror groans. Without an end in sight
there seems no point, why carry on, why fight?
–not only cattle perish in the fire.
The guns are loud across the land tonight,
and horror groans without an end in sight.
— David Anthony, 2001
I had one of those enjoyable weekends I like so much, filled with cooking and gardening and entertaining friends. The same couple that I had over for my birthday (see the sidebar) (the same couple, in fact, that I will be marrying in May) came over to relax for Friday night and Saturday. Preparing to get marrying is very taxing, you see, especially when you’re the jet-setting type like they are. And besides, it was the soon-to-be-Missus’ birthday, so Chris and I invited them over. I made four tea smoked Cornish Game hens for the occasion, accompanied by a morel mushroom & asparagus pasta, and proceeded by a wonderful mushroom soup they brought. It was all wonderful, and the smoked hens came out fantastic. So much so, in fact, that I think I’ll give up western mesquite & hickory smoking for this. When the hens were done, I threw in a chunk of salmon, saving it for smoked salmon and cream cheese omelettes the next day. I made a surprise rum pound cake with rum cream cheese icing for dessert, and we drifted off to sleep with bellies full.
Saturday was as perfect a spring day as one could ask for. We brought the chickens out and put them in their coop for the first time (pictures were taken and will go up here later), much to the amusement of the cats. We took the stray dog we’re desperately trying to find a home for a walk. We worked in the garden. We had the aforementioned omelettes. Later, Steve showed off his impressive French culinary skills with a Cassoulet (not actual recipe used) and some homemade duck confit, something I’ve not had before. That man can cook!
Tragedy struck while the confit was frying, though. Right before me, too quick for me to do anything about it, the stray dog burst through the screen on the coop and killed one of the chickens. It was our only Rhode Island Red, and we’re down to twelve. I’ll need to reinforce the bottom couple feet with metal screening — the plastic keeps the chickens in, but not the large predators out.
Yesterday game me more garden work, preparing beds for the true planting season in a few weeks. I harvested the last of the collard greens, bringing in nearly a bushel. For you northerners, collards are nothing more than a heat-tolerant kale. It can be used anywhere you’d use kale or cabbage or the other leafy brassicas. I shredded all the leaves, blanched them, and froze them in meal-sized portions. By the time the blacking was done, the bushel had reduced to a gallon — still plenty of future food.
So that’s the lengthy diary-like entry. I’ll supplement it with pictures at some point, and eventually I’ll be able to do a bit of web surfing and provide links like I used to.
With Springtime comes yard renovations. And what better resource for yard planning is there than The Third Annual Tacky Yard Art Contest entries?
We got a lot of rain and a lot of wind during the last couple days. A large section of the UGA campus is peppered with giant oak trees, between 100 and 200 years old. Two fell yesterday.
It’s as wonderful that they may have found the Martian Polar Lander as it is scary that they can apparently resolve the spindly legs of the lander (legs thinner than mine) from a camera in Martian orbit. The article states, “the lander appears intact on the surface, sitting atop its trio of landing legs.” Knowing the announced capabilities of the orbiting camera, I’ll bet that the article’s source doesn’t know of which he speaks. The story I saw elsewhere this morning stated more believeably that the team had found three light pixels against a dark background, which could be a rubble pile left from the lander dead-dropping the last 180 feet. (Link from Lake Effect)
Spring officially arrived today, but for the cats Spring came a few weeks ago. That’s when the weather turned warm enough for the field rodents (both mice and rats) to become active. It’s a fact of country living that there will be mice and rats about, but they’re never seen by us. They live their rodent lives out in the fields, happy as can be until the lions come to hunt. We’ve three black cats, two accomplished hunters and one seeing her first spring. She’s learning by chasing bugs, but I expect she’ll get her first mammal this season. We’ve also got an elderly cat who stays inside, content to eat kibbles and drink from the tap. The pastures are across the road from the front yard, and the two hunters run out there any time they can. The youngest has ventured to the edge of the field to watch, learning what she can. This picture shows the same cat that was sleeping over the chickens yesterday, returning from the foray for a solid nap on the couch.
When Christmas came, I wrapped the front porch in non-twinkly white lights. When Christmas left, the lights stayed. Chris convinced me that the beauty of the lights was well worth yokels thinking we’re just lazy. The view from the road is very nice too. From one direction, you crest a hill and see the house down about a half mile away. From the other, you round a sharp curve and am greeted by the lights up close. I’ve roboticized them, in my quest to have a robotic farmhouse. The computer turns them on at sunset each day (based on our lat/long coordinates) and turns them off at 12:30 each night.
We’ve all been told that our over-reliance on cars is choking our cities and causing all sorts of problems, but rarely is the point made as clearly as it is with this series of photographs from the Tampa (Florida) Tribune.
The weather was nice on Saturday, so we let the baby chickens out to enjoy the sun. Their home for the last four weeks (since they were hatched) has been a wooden box under our kitchen table, with a shaved wood floor and a plastic chicken wire ceiling, with an infrared light bulb for a sun. They seemed to enjoy their time outdoors, and I’d guess they’d look forward to the roomy confines of their future home, the coop we built, if they knew about it. At four weeks, some are as big as jays, and all are larger than the average robin. In two weeks, they’ll live outdoors permanently. In this picture, they’re crowded in the corner because they’re camera shy.
My digital camera is full of pictures I’ve wanted to share with you but couldn’t. When I upgraded my laptop’s OS to Windows 2000, the camera stopped responding to its software. Polaroid told me they don’t support W2K with their older cameras, but did helpfully suggest I buy a new camera. Chris’ computer at home has Windows 98, but at some point I lost my original software CD-ROM, and couldn’t install. So, I’ve been taking pictures of sunsets and gardens and chickens and flowers and have just had to leave them on the camera.
Then last night I found the CD-ROM, so you can expect pictures again. I’ll try to spread them out so as not to overwhelm you.
Meanwhile, the weather over the weekend was finally nice enough to do some garding. I put in a bed and a half of broccoli, a bed of cabbage, a bed of cauliflower, half a bed of brussels sprouts, and a bed of lettuces. Each bed is 16 square feet, so that’s a fine start. Hopefully it won’t turn hot too fast and give these fellows a chance to grow big and strong. And, the 25 feet of peas I planted a while back are doing splendidly. Last year I had about 210 square feet of garden space. This year I’m putting 475. I plant using the intensive square-foot gardening method, so that’s a lot of plants. A lot. Probably enough to sell enough to pay for everything, feed Chris and I all year, and stuff the freezer. All grown completely organically. It’s practice for some day when I’ve got a working small-scale organic farm.
Confessions of a Gymnopilus Spectabilis Eater. Speaking of mushrooms, I’ve not found any morels yet this spring. They’re supposed to be mighty uncommon around these parts, but I’m holding out hope just the same. Because they’re mighty tasty.
My college (sometimes literal) partner in crime, Jason Stiffler. We really need to get together for some Fritos and bean dip.
The mainstream Athens newspaper has what looks to be a nearly complete listing of Athens-related websites, including those for local businesses and organizations. They’ve put me in there, too, under “People And Society — Personal Web Pages”. Neat-o!
Yesterday the US government banned the import of most European meat and animal products on the heels of Foot and Mouth being confirmed in France. The radio news last night (it must have been NPR) mentioned cheeses and hams being banned as well, but that’s not what CNN is reporting. They claim that soft unpasturized cheeses are banned, but most had been already (sniff… so sad). Hard cheeses, presumably including unpasturized parmesian and similar cheeses, and cured meats such as prosciutto are still allowed. I hope it stays that way, too. I’ve gotten passable at making my own hard cheeses, but I’m still a ways off from making my own prosciutto.