Thursday, March 31, 2011

fence post

Yes, that's a pun.

I have fences on my land, or maybe just the remains of fences, because they don't confine anything.

Not even the trees.

This stretch of fence was clearly meant to prevent the cows from falling down the bluff, which is even steeper than it looks here.

This part is on the other side of the ridge, dividing two slopes of what's now woods and was once pasture, although marginal pasture.

The strand running diagonally from lower left to upper right is broken. Not surprising after many decades. Some of these trees were there when the wire was run, but most of them have grown into it without human help.

Looking uphill along the fence.
None of these pieces of fence meet up, and I don't have a clear idea of how the pastures were divided when they were in use.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday morning coffee with mixed precipitation

Saturday afternoon into evening there was freezing rain (although the temperature was slightly above freezing, it froze on the way down without turning into sleet, exactly), sleet, and snow. All at once.

Sunday morning it appeared that the snow had won.

If you look carefully, you can see the pellets of sleet under the snow on the balcony.

It didn't do as thorough a job of covering the grass. I believe I've discovered an angle where I can sneak up on the birds at the feeder.

Let's get on with some spring!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

monster from the vasty deep

It's been raining a lot lately, as I may have mentioned.

Recently, I met this creature on the driveway. I'm glad I stopped and took a few shots with the phone camera, because by the time I got back with the real camera he was gone. They're terrible pictures and they won't enlarge, but here you can see this terrapin-ish fellow in comparison to the jeep wheel.

Here's a closer look.

He didn't even draw in his head when I got right in his face:

But when I came back ten minutes later, he was gone, leaving no tracks to indicate where the water was driving him.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

hail, hail

Yesterday I came home from work, where we had had a slight rain shower in the morning, and then sun, to find my gutters full of white stuff.

Also scattered on the ground:

In heaps:

It's supposed to be melting now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

boiling water

This is how I boil the water without electricity when I grind the beans by hand. (I've actually had to do this only a few times.) I can heat water on the wood stoves, if the electricity goes out in winter, but to get water to the not quite boiling temperature for making coffee on the stoves would take too long first thing in the morning, when I Must Have Coffee NOW.


This is my great-great-aunt's chafing dish. Various parts of it have patent dates of 1899 and 1901, but it may be several years newer than that. My mother, born in 1916, remembered it being used at parties when she was a very small child, so it can't be later than 1920. The shiny pieces are nickel, not silver. So, I believe, are the not shiny pieces. (Matte? Can metal be matte?)

Here's the alcohol burner, closed. I had hoped its name would show but I don't think you will be able to read the lid even enlarging it all the way.

"Perfection. Manning, Bowman, and Co. Feb. 15, 1898-June 18, 1901." I do hope the company lasted longer than that. I don't imagine the dates refer to the design process, either. But they certainly aimed high.

It opens farther than this, and the handle makes it easy to adjust the flame to exactly the right amount of heat.

The burner fits into its place in the stand very solidly, so there is no danger of it tipping when you adjust the flame. The feet of the stand are smoothly finished so there's little chance of it marring whatever surface it is placed on.

Next, the water bath goes on top of the stand, to act as the bottom of a double boiler, for foods you want to keep warm, rather than cooking directly.

Then, the enamel sauce pan, with the long handle for safely serving hot foods around the table. It can be used without the lower water bath if you want to heat water quickly, or fry things, or otherwise cook over direct flame. On one memorable occasion in my childhood, my parents--who didn't entertain very much--used this setup to make Crepes Suzette, which they had enjoyed in restaurants when they lived in New Orleans, but never made themselves before, for friends of theirs. (We are a brave people, my family; we cook flaming foods for guests without practicing beforehand. Fortunately, we usually have brave guests.) The long handle provided protection from the burning brandy, and allowed my father to serve the crepes onto the plates still on fire without burning himself or anyone else.

Should the flames get out of hand (which they didn't on that occasion) the lid fits quite tightly.

So much more fun than a camp stove, if not quite as portable.

Monday, March 21, 2011

more daffodils

When the sun comes out, briefly, I go down and pick more daffodils.

Friday, March 18, 2011

water gardening?

I am not getting ready for spring. I should be digging places in the garden to set out broccoli plants and lettuce seeds in about two weeks, but in the past two weeks it has rained four and a half inches. Digging mud is not a good idea. The forecast for the next week is rain, rain, and more rain.

Gardening is such an exciting pastime.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday morning coffee by hand

When I first changed from buying coffee already ground to grinding my own, I got a coffee grinder that was not electric. Having grown up where the electricity went off an average of ten times a year (from a few hours to a few days) I did not want to depend on it for anything as vital as coffee.

I never quite brought myself to screw it to the wall, even when the last two places I lived were houses that I owned, so I was restricted to positioning it on something it could clamp to.

It's very sturdy.

After about fifteen years of use, I moved into a kitchen where there was simply no place to put it that did not block access to a drawer or a cabinet. I had to get an electric one. However, I still keep the non-electric one where I can find it without hesitation in the dark.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

spring flooding

There was a flash flood watch after I'd measured more than two inches of rain in thirty-six hours, but by the time I got down to the creek with the camera, the water level was merely pleasing, not astonishing.

After the drought it's nice to see water moving again. Below is about where I was standing when I shot the pictures of disconnected puddles back in November.

Water moving too fast for reflections, framed by actual leaf buds.

On the creek bank, unknown green things coming up into the air.

Monday, March 7, 2011

first picking

I picked these at dusk on Sunday.

They weren't all open when I picked them, but by the time I got the camera out today they were.

Spring is traveling north as fast as it can.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

looking for spring

I went out to check on the daffodil growth.

First I spotted these poking their leaves up near the house. My grandmother (I brought these from my parents' house, and those came from my grandmother's garden, where they came from a friend of hers) called them paperwhite narcissus, but they aren't like anything called that in the catalogs I've seen.

Around the corner of the house there are more of them.

Also the daylily I accidentally transplanted with them. I didn't even see the second daylily in the top left until I had the pictures on the computer. Considering that this particular plant was run over by the tractor three times last summer, and string trimmed twice by me, who knew where it was, its reproducing itself is amazing.

When I got down the hill, the daffodils were inches taller, with buds almost ready to open.

And there are plenty more to come.

Showing color, but not open all the way.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011