Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wee Sleekit Mousie

The past couple of days I have been out in the pasture, playing Green Acres with our little mower, mowing weeds. It's a little late in the game, I realize (and probably what the REAL farmers are thinking as they drive past and see me), but better late than never, I say, and besides, the pasture looks really nice and green now, with the remnants of brome still alive and unfrozen.

As I go around on our little mower, I am followed by two horses, two dogs, and two cats. The horses don't follow me as much as they are following the dogs & cats: curiosity killed the cat, I tell the felines. (Curious ponies might just step on a kitty.)

A digression in this story: our farrier came out today to do the horses. The ponies were in fine fettle, finer than the farrier would have liked, in fact. He was exasperated by their antics (who wants a 1500-lb animal dancing while you have a hold of his hoof?) I told him the weather must be changing: there must be a storm coming. Sure enough, tomorrow morning's forecast is for thunderstorms.

Ok, back to the pasture: every once in a while, I would come upon a fast-moving field mouse, scampering for his life. And this poem from my childhood popped in to my head every time:

To A Mouse
On turning her up in her nest with the plough.
by Robert Burns

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Math. Or Not.

I was not a good math student. I have never enjoyed math, never held a curiosity for it, and have generally left math up to others to think about and ponder and enjoy. Kind of like rum, I guess.

But one thing I do enjoy is fractals. I don't want to think too deeply about them, I just like to look at them. Living in a computer age permits a good visual aid to this enjoyment. But even back in my crayola days, I liked them. (I didn't call them my Fractal Color Books, though...)

I am a modest quilter. I'm not a perfectionist, and if you ever receive one of my quilts, I hope you don't scrutinize it too closely. It really doesn't bother me if my points don't line up. Someone should do a study on quilters who ARE perfectionists, whose points DO line up, and the rest of us, and see if there is a correlation between that and how much we enjoy math.

I think there is a correlation between fractal enthusiasts and quilters.

Anyway, here are some fractals that I thought were pretty. You can find more on your own, by Googling fractal images.

Pretty Fractals:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hurricanes and Such

Tropical Storm Patricia barreled down on the Baja Peninsula this weekend with 60 mph winds. Sometimes these storms turn into hurricanes, and wreak even more havoc than their juvenile selves 24 hours prior.

What about those hurricanes? Anyone been in one?

I have: Hurricane Gloria, Long Island, in 1985.

What was it like, you wonder? Well, you're asking a girl from Tornado Alley, Oklahoma. (Who now lives in rural Kansas, I might add.) Hurricane Gloria had hammered on the Bahamas, but then weakened as she continued up the Atlantic Coast to N. Carolina. When she made second landfall on Long Island, NY, I was there, twiddling my thumbs in wait. My parents had told me the night before to evacuate LI, but I opted to wait it out, and by the time their parental opinions came in loud and clear a second time, it was too late anyway: the LI Expressway was packed with evacuees and not moving.

A hurricane is different from the tornadoes that I have grown up to know and fear. Hurricanes give warnings. Let me rephrase that: the National Hurricane Center and all the news channels and webpages and whatnot give warnings: hours and even days of warnings. Tornadoes? Holy mackerel, if you have enough time to grab a pet and a flashlight, you're Okie-Dokie and lucky.

So I awoke that morning of the hurricane, expecting some really bad experience. Outside, the wind was blowing pretty strongly, and the rain was falling quite heavily. That's it. Later in the morning, the wind and the rain picked up. It was like any really, really, really heavy and windy Oklahoma rainstorm. At about noon, the newscasters came on to say that the eye of Hurricane Gloria was nearly over us on Long Island. "Don't get complacent!! The worst is yet to come!!"

The rain stopped. There was no wind. The atmosphere had an unnatural weird very golden glow to it. I was in the eye of the storm. This was so fascinating to me, and it is difficult for me to describe the atmosphere. The newscasters were telling us not to go out! Not to get complacent! The worst was coming! Don't go outdoors!

I went outdoors. It was indeed eery. The atmosphere was silent. No rain, no wind, no birds, no nothing. Just that golden cast of could almost imagine the sun trying to peek through a cover of thick mist thousands of feet above in the sky; but there was no sun or sunlight; just that golden hue.

About a half hour later, the storm picked up again, with as much and then more vengeance as it had not only four hours previous.

This afternoon part of the day did indeed feel like tornadic weather. But it didn't pass with the sound of a train after a few minutes, it just kept pounding, for hours. I did not like the wind, and I found myself missing those mid-America cellars and basements. A few hours of wind and rain and more and more wind. And then, it stopped.

I ventured outside to find trees uprooted and some damage around the neighborhood - nothing like the fierce 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but enough that the blocks I walked looked haggard and windtorn.

And so felt I.

It's Cello Day!

A luthier is someone who makes and repairs stringed instruments. We hear the name Antonio Stradivari in the music world. He was an Italian who made something like 1100 stringed instruments in the late 1600s/early 1700s. Another famous Italian luthier is Domenico Mantagnana. He made around 95 instruments in his lifetime, of which only 24 were celli.

One of these Domnenico Mantagnana 1733 celli is owned by cellist Yo Yo Ma. It is 236 years old. Can you imagine playing such an instrument? (Moreover, playing such an instrument and it sounding like...well, like Yo Yo Ma?!) Once Yo Yo Ma was holding a class for younger children, and a little girl asked him what his cello's name was. He replied that he didn't have a name for it, and would she like to think up a name? The girl picked "Petunia", and the nickname has stuck.

The cello Petunia is worth $2.5 million. One can only imagine how Yo Yo Ma felt that day in 1999 when he realized he had left Petunia in the trunk of taxi cab in NYC. Wowee. The nice part of that story is that his cello was recovered and undamaged:

And now I am off to my cello lesson.

Friday, October 09, 2009


Well? Who would you naysayers have picked??

I got one response about the Nobel Peace Prize laureate question I posted earlier. (And if you knew Pr. Patty, you might concur with the poster.)

This day was inundated with TV, radio, and press regarding President Obama's acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. There were LOTS of critics, but I heard/read very few opinions regarding who might have been a more worthy laureate. My opinion? It was a dry Friday in the press room.

And further? Why would Americans not embrace that our leader won a remarkable peace prize? That, to me, is unfathomable. Let's support our nation's leader inasmuch as he seems to be on the right track, regardless of party lines.

That said...That Spouse o' Mine made a comment a while ago: I need to learn how to cook smaller portions. (i.e., he is tired of leftovers, i guess.) OK, OK! I am working on it! Old dog, new tricks, I have been a quasi-stay-at-home Mom for many years, and now I am cooking for two. But - yippee! This weekend I have some college kids at home, and some parents a'comin', so forget that "Cooking for Two Cookbook" for the time being. I am in my element.

Back to Mr. Nobel's Peace Prize:
Maybe we can all work towards that prize. Let's celebrate peace in our own neighborhoods.

Who would you have picked?

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish man who invented things like dynamite and ballistite. Ballistite, as we all know, is a smokeless propellant which was developed after gunpowder, a smoky propellant, was. And we all know that it is manufactured today as solid fuel rocket propellant.

When he got to be elderly, Mr. Nobel established the now-famous annual prizes to be awarded in the areas of science, medicine, chemistry, and literature. And there is a fifth award, the Nobel Peace Prize. The story behind the fifth prize is that an obituary of Mr. Nobel was mistakenly published eight years prematurely (in France), and it called him the "merchant of death" and stated that he "became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before". That's not a nice thing to read about oneself. So the story goes, that Mr. Nobel set up the Peace Prize to be awarded, according to his will, "to the person who shall have done the most or best work between nations for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for holding and promotion of peace congresses." Although Mr. Nobel did not give an explanation for his Peace Prize, some say it was his way to compensate for developing the destructive things he invented.

This morning we awoke to the news that President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for peace. I was surprised at how many objections and criticisms I have read about his award. There are many, many deserving indiviuals who could have received this award. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee keeps the nominations secret and asks that nominators do the same. (But one nominee was 1939's Adolph Hitler. His name was removed from the list a few days later by the man who nominated him in the first place. And as it happened, no Peace Prizes were awarded during WWII anyway.) This year there were 205 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. Who would you have picked?

I am proud that an American leader won the Nobel Peace Prize, and if nothing better, this prize will make him be accountable for the work towards peace which we all beg for.

Who would you have picked?

Here is Wikipedia's list of Nobel Peace Prize laureates through the years:

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Speaking of Snowflakes...

...this is a fun website:

Make your own snowflakes!

Just Another Day

The forecast mentions snow for the weekend. I doubt that it will happen. Weather forecasters like to whip us up into an emotional frenzy about what's-to-come. Snow lovers (me) get all excited at the prospect of a new venue out the window, and snow haters (you?) get in a worrisome frenzy about shoveling and driving and survival tactics.

Even though I don't believe the weekend forecast, I did commence the Banana Tree Transference Program yesterday afternoon.

But, wait - let me backtrack to yesterday morning's activities, after which yesterday afternoon's goings-on dovetailed in what seems to be a typical day for me.

Yesterday morning my friend Mary called and beckoned me to join her in a quick hike up our local mountain, Mt. Mitchell. (Keep in mind we live in Kansas, and the highest point of elevation in our state is Mt. Sunflower, at 4039'.) Mt. Mitchell is a teeny hill. But off we went, in search of adventure. And how we managed to climb the wrong hill still escapes me. It's not like we have that many to choose from. When we got to the top of Not Mt. Mitchell, I remarked to Mary, "Mary, we've climbed the wrong hill!" I wonder how many times Lewis uttered similar words to Clark.

We hiked down that hill and chose another one to scale. It seemed odd to us that there was no sign or path to guide us. We fumbled through sumac and brambles and rocks and a bit of barbed wire (this was where I tried to make a joke about maybe we might come upon a bull and Mary-who-actually-owns bulls did not laugh...). As we ascended in elevation (? 50' ?), we DID come to a path, and it led us the final 50 yards to the summit of Mt. Mitchell. And it was a very pretty view up there, watching all the farmers below in the valley harvesting their soybean and corn the day before the rain.

I came home from that jaunt full of mountain-air energy, and that was when I decided it was time to haul in my banana trees for the winter. Step one, I planned mentally, would be to take the window a/c unit out of the upstairs window, to allow for more window room for my grove of tropicals. Upstairs I went, opened the window, and WHO KNEW the thing would just fall out?! By some luck or other, the electrical cord caught on something inside the window, and was dangling. I braced myself (maybe after an expletive or two; yes, I do think I opened my mouth and one flew out...) and tried to hoist the air conditioner up the side of the house. I got it to the window sill but suddenly felt like I was losing control (and I was), so I dropped it again. But this time it knocked into some scaffolding That Spouse o' Mine had nailed/screwed onto the roof during some household painting and repair tasks. The scaffolding knocked loose from its holding and slid down to the gutters on that part of the roof, and as I type this morning it has not moved. I wrenched and groaned and pulled and tugged and I did manage to get the air conditioner back up to the sill, and back into the house. You may ask, why didn't I just let the thing drop? I might have, but we have a very dear and geriatric old dog whom I love a lot, and old Bear was asleep just near where my calculations told me the a/c might land. I did not want that story handed down through the generations, that dear old Bear met his demise when I let the window unit fall on him from 2 stories above.

(I should mention That Spouse o' Mine's reaction when he came home from work and I gave him my Welcome Home briefing. He rolled his eyes and asked, "How do you do these things, Trish?")

After that fiasco, I moved on to the task at hand: Dig up my 12' banana trees and replant them indoors. Well! I got 4 of the 8 done last night, and plan to finish up tomorrow. After my body rests...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

American and Dutch relations:

The following was just part of the activity going on in our nation's capitol yesterday. I for one am excited to see that we are tipping our hats to my ancestors' settling of New Amsterdam and the the like. I wonder where the parades will be held, and do federal employees get the day off?

[Page: S10117]


Mr. DURBIN. I ask unanimous consent that the Foreign Relations Committee be discharged from further consideration of H. Con. Res. 178 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The clerk will report the concurrent resolution by title.

The bill clerk read as follows:

A concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 178) expressing the sense of Congress that we reaffirm the historic ties between the United States and the Netherlands by recognizing the Quadricentennial celebration of the discovery of the Hudson River and honoring the enduring values of the settlers of New Netherland that continue to permeate American society.

There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the concurrent resolution.

Mr. DURBIN. I ask unanimous consent that the concurrent resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate, and any statements related to the measure be printed in the Record.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 178) was agreed to.

The preamble was agreed to.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

It's too early for this nonsense...

I woke up dark and early this morning, and decided to look up some titles on Amazon during my morning coffee. All the prices are coming up in Euro. Did I miss some national event during the night?

It's too early for this...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Winter, Here We Come!




Bringing the outdoor garden in for the winter...check!

That Spouse o' Mine in Amongst the Bananas:

Thursday, October 01, 2009

not to MY dog

Last night I was reading a magazine. One of the blurby articles was titled: Don't Feed This to Fido. It gave a list of things NOT to feed to my dog: macadamia nuts, avocados, wine, chocolate...

Are they kidding me?

Why in the world would I feed those favorites to a dog?!
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