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Monday, August 7, 2017

Poppy Seed Muffins

Yesterday, I decided to bake some poppy seed muffins.



I let Bow lick the bowl. While the muffins were in the oven,  I looked out the window and I saw some deer.

video


It was the doe and the twin fawns.  I went outside to see if I could get a better look.




The doe looked at me. One of the twin fawns decided to go into the back pasture, but the other one kept looking at me. Then the doe decided that she would leave, and they all bounded away.



 As a result, the poppy seed muffins were a little overdone. But Bow did not seem to mind. He ate them with great relish.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Saved One

There were two birds, actually.  They must have been sitting side by side on the low hanging branch of the liquidambar tree as I came by with my reel mower. They startled out of their low perch, but they could not fly away very far, because they ran into the glass door to my room, and beside that was our eight foot tall fence.


The first bird did not make it, because just as I was planning to take its picture, Leo caught it in his mouth, and by the time I could get him to release it, its neck was broken. But I was able to save the second bird.


I found it in the middle of the yard, and it flew off to the corner by the fence. So I went and got a towel and used it to pick the bird up, and I carried it out to the front yard, where I released it, and the bird flew off.

We cannot save everybody. That is impossible. But sometimes we can help a little.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Changing Seasons

Go away for less than two weeks, and everything changes. You leave in the height of summer, when the grass is green and flowers are blooming, and you come back to see drought  conditions, with trees shedding their leaves, butterflies on their last wings, deer looking starved and emaciated and blackberries turning into prunes.

People and animals who were alive when we left are now dead.  The landscape is eerily different, and we feel as if we had been through a time warp.

We are back from a trip to visit my mother in Bloomington and to speak at the Missouri Libertarian Party Convention in Jefferson City.

Bow on our return

Lawrence stayed with Bow and took care of our dogs and birds as well. We had to come home immediately after the Missouri Libertarian Convention, because, while we were in Bloomington,  a son of our neighbor friends was killed in a tractor accident, and we wanted to get back in time for the memorial service. But while we were still in Jefferson City, Lawrence texted us some more bad news. Brownie had just died.

The Memorial Picture that Sword posted about Brownie
When we got back, Bow did not say anything to me about Brownie's death. He just set about grooming me very meticulously.


Sword and I had gotten a manicure while away, but Bow thought I needed a new manicure, and a pedicure.


And a facial.




I went outside to mow the backyard the next morning, but a butterfly came and landed on a leaf and stood in my way, so I had to stop.



It was the red spotted purple that we had seen many times before around this time of year.


The dead leaf the butterfly was standing on is one of many leaves that our tulip tree shed during the drought that had fallen on the land while we were away.

The orange spotted purple on a dead tulip leaf
Leo is now our only dog. Here he is, amid a multitude of dead tulip tree leaves.

Leo in the backyard amid dead tulip tree leaves
There had been grass fires while we were away. Not on our property or near it,  but close enough that it impacted people in our community. And unrelated to that, a young man, thirty-one years old, a husband and a father, and a pillar of the community, had been cut down  in his prime in a tractor accident. He was the eldest son of our neighbors and friends, and Sword and I went to the memorial service. The local elementary school gymnasium was packed to overflowing with the hundreds of people who had come to pay their respects. We sat next to Bow's friend Charla at the service.

There were many more people mourning this young man than there had been libertarians at the Missouri Libertarian Party State Convention. He was well loved and will be sorely missed.

I asked Lawrence later whether Bow had said anything about Brownie's death. Lawrence said he had told Bow that Brownie had died, and Bow spelled out "b-a-d". "Bad? What do you mean, Bow?" Lawrence asked. Bow elaborated by spelling out "s-a-d". But soon after that, he asked Lawrence to play chase with him. 

Life goes on. 



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Delights

For Bow, it's the little things that matter.



In the summer, he gets Pickle Ice from his friend Charla.


Bow has been getting better at managing the Pickle Ice eating process. I give him a plastic measuring cup, and toward the end, he dumps what is left of the ice into the measuring cup and drinks it all up.


Meanwhile, I go wandering all over the property, to see what I can see.


It turns out there is more than one butterfly milkweed plant on my property, and the one that is deep within the unmown pasture is much more vital than the one by the fence line. It has many more blossoms on it.


Occasionally, a green sparkling sweat bee is attracted to the butterfly milkweed, but despite its name, I have never seen a butterfly attracted to its blooms.


The pipevine swallowtail much prefers the tall phlox by the lagoon. All the tall phlox flowers are at their loveliest, just now.


Even the sumac blossoms are lovely, once you get close enough to see them clearly.


Sometimes a tree that has been felled by a storm and chopped down, and hacked to pieces, and left by the wayside turns out to not be quite dead. "I'm not quite dead yet!" it seems to shout.

The remainder of the cottonwood tree is sprouting green new branches.


On the Fourth of July, we chose fireworks that gave off much light, but not too much noise to avoid upsetting Bow and the dogs.


The next day it rained. and in the morning an armadillo was rooting in the front yard.


Such is our quiet, domestic life. Life from death. Death from life. Beauty and decay. But there is also language.

What does Bow talk about? Not much, these days. The other day he asked for more milk, and I gave him a big lecture about how there was milk in his cereal and he hadn't finished it, and about how wasteful that was. He patiently listened, and then he spelled : טוב.

That means "good", but can also be a way of saying "okay." It took me a moment to interpret that. How did this relate to the big lecture I had just given him about not wasting food? But then I realized that by "okay", he meant: "Okay, give me the cereal bowl, and I will finish it." And so I did, and he did.

Bow does not make big speeches. But that does not mean he does not understand perfectly well how to use language effectively.  There is nothing all that brilliant or revolutionary about this kind of language use. It's what most humans use language for most of the time, too. It's a very rare occasion when any human being says something truly revolutionary. Not even on the Fourth of July.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bow Gives a Facial

"You keep wandering out in the wilderness!" my daughter said to me. And somebody else corrected her to say that we hardly live out in the wilderness, since all we have is a ten acre hobby farm. Well, compared to the big city where Sword will be going to college in the fall, this is the wilderness. What's more, compared to the fields on either side of my property, this is also more of a wilderness. I neither plow nor sow, and wild things grow here.

For Bow, this means a very peaceful atmosphere when he goes outside.


When we get the moat dug for Bow's island, then he too will get to come face to face with some of the wildlife here. Like the armadillo I saw just before I went to my daughter's freshman orientation in the big city.


Armadillos are so easy to sneak up on.


Rabbits, on the other hand, are not easy to surprise.


But sometimes they act as if they were statues in the hopes that we will just pass them by, as this rabbit did soon after I came back from the big city.


When I got back, I was disappointed to see that all the purple milkweed flowers were gone. Even the one in the field, surrounded by poison ivy, no longer sported any flowers. No more milkweed, I thought. But then I spotted a splash of orange!


The butterfly milkweed had suddenly bloomed, attracting small sweat bees.


Being away for a couple of days, while Lawrence stayed with Bow, gave me a chance to appreciate anew how lucky I am to live here.




The big city is exciting, but also frustrating. Here everything is calm and quiet.


And also, Bow gives excellent facials!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Good Neighbors

Bow enjoying a cookie sent him by a neighbor
Yesterday, there was an internet outage. It was a beautiful day, though, so both Bow and I spent a lot of time outdoors, he in the outer pen, and me just wandering around outside.


I saw a box turtle that was around fifty years old.



I spotted a Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly on a purple milkweed in the pasture.



The milkweed there is surrounded by poison ivy, so I could not get very close.


The video of the butterfly embedded below is worth watching, if only for the bird song and other nature sounds.


I spent some time in the front yard recording videos and podcasts for my Anti-Romaticism series, and then I went out into the backyard to be with Bow. But about then, Bow started to show concern, and there was a smell of smoke in the air. So I went into the house and back out through the front door, to try to find out where the smoke was coming from.

The view of the fire from my pasture

The smoke led me down the path in the pasture to the southern border of my property, where the air was thick with it, wafting across the property line.


About this time, I could hear sirens. The local volunteer fire department was on its way.

The view of the neighbors' field from te road

Try as I might, I could not see into the neighboring field well enough to understand what was going on there, because the trees and shrubs are so thick at the border. So I walked back down the path and up my driveway to the road, and down the road to my neighbor's field. I stood at the side of the road, and this is what I saw.


The fire was under control. It would not spread to my land. But the field was black and charred, and plumes of smoke still wafted in the air.  I went home and reported to Bow that all was well, It was about time for lunch, so we forgot all about it and concentrated on our food.

Today, after lunch,  I attended a neighbor's open house with my daughter. A lot of other neighbors were there. Somebody mentioned that burning field yesterday. "I was thinking of you, Aya," somebody else said. "I know you stay indoors a lot, so I thought you might not know what was happening."

I guess I have a reputation for being a recluse and a shut-in, but Bow and I actually do spend a lot of time outdoors,  so much so that he gets his required vitamin D, and I am getting a bit of a tan.


"What caused the fire?" I asked.

"As near as we can make out, they were out baling the field,when both the hay and the combine caught fire."

Aha! "I thought it was something like that," I said.

So we had refreshments and talked about local vegetation. "What's that orange flower that blooms out beside the road right now?" one of the ladies asked. "Butterfly plant?" "Milkweed?" "Butterfly milkweed." "Yes, that's the one." And another person was talking about yucca and how to get rid of weeds surrounding it. Hey, I know these plants, I thought. I am not a complete newby anymore.

One of my yuccas in full bloom

They talked to my daughter about her choice of college and about dorm life, And when we left, the hostess sent cookies for me to give to Bow. "Tell him they're from me!"

So I did.


Bow was happy.



Monday, June 12, 2017

A Mulberry from the Pasture





I went for a walk this morning, because Bow said I should.






 The mulberry tree that grows by the path is giving fruit now.





 I picked a ripe mulberry and brought it back for Bow to have.





I did not plant this tree. It just grew. It gives fruit. I give the fruit to Bow. Maybe someday I can have a moat around the pasture so Bow can pick the fruit himself.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bow and the Roofer


After the storms come the repairs. And repairs bring with them repairmen. And repairmen are strangers, and strangers need to be displayed at.


I had been enjoying relative peace and quiet. When Bow is outside resting after a meal, he is usually very mellow.


I have enjoyed watching the milkweed flower by the path bloom, one little floret at a time.


Yesterday afternoon it was almost completely open. But this morning tragedy struck.


Some creature came and bit off the flower head. Now it will never turn into a seedpod to propagate its kind. My friend Kathy says common milkweed also spreads through rhizomes, but this is purple milkweed, and it depends more on its seeds.

I made a video to remember this flower by.


There are still other milkweed plants with intact flowers on my property. But I will miss this one.



On my walks there are still other things to see. Like this yucca that is blooming. Or the surprising number of pears on this one branch of the second pear tree.


There is the occasional box turtle.



Or a rabbit that pauses to look at me for a good long while before it disappears into the underbrush.


But with the advent of the roofer all that has to stop, because Bow is not going to be calm, and he has to display how very big and strong he is.


And viewed from outside the outer pen, it looks something like this.


The roofer is on the roof top, working by the chimney. And Bow is down below, watching and then displaying.


All the rabbits and turtles and deer for miles around can hear Bow displaying for the roofer. But other than that, it is fairly quiet around here.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Storm and its Aftermath


On May the 27th, two days ago, I had just finished putting the last touches on my video of the essay "Who Are the Flowers For?", when a terrible wind arose and felled one of our trees.



It did not happen that fast, of course. I noticed that the sky was getting stormy, so I went to look out through the glass of the front door. But Bow was very upset about the weather. So I went back in the pen with him.



Bow vocalized at the storm while it lasted, his hair standing on end, and afterwards, we groomed. And all was right with the world, except that one of the trees had been pulled up and thrown across the internal gravel road that leads from my house to the county road.



The tree that fell surprised me. It was not the tree I would have expected to fall.

The dead oak tree still stands

 In our front yard, we have a dead oak tree. It has been dying for years, and this year when spring came, not a single green leaf sprouted. People have been  telling me that I had better have it felled, or else one day a storm will bring it crashing down on the roof of my house. But that is not the tree that fell. The dead oak tree is still standing tall, and a smaller, younger, vitally alive poplar (or cottonwood) had been brought low in the prime of its life. Such is nature.



The next morning there was a power outage that lasted all day. Having nothing to do indoors, Bow and I went outside, he to the outer pen, and I for a walk. The strange weather brought out other animals from their usual places of hiding. I saw a snapping turtle nesting right in the open, where she could easily be spotted.


The mother snapping turtle had laid her eggs and was in the process of burying them.


I left her alone and proceeded on my walk toward the barn and the path that leads to my pasture. But before I got there, from a distance, I saw three round objects in the grass. At first I did not know what they were. Then it dawned on me that they were armadillos.



They kept rooting around, oblivious of my presence, until one of them stood up on its hind legs and started sniffing the air for clues of my presence.



They did not seem to see very well,  but soon another of them was standing up and sniffing.



Then the third armadillo also decided to sweep the air for clues of a strange presence.



For a moment, it looked as if they were planning to march away single file.


But instead, they scattered in all different directions. So I went on my walk along the path and checked on the milkweed plant, which unlike the felled poplar, was still standing, though it was bowed now and its stem was white with stains from its own milky sap. .



Nature is remorseless in its arbitrary choices, felling the young and the vital and overlooking the dead and dying. On the way back from the pasture I spotted the snapping turtle mother again. Having buried her nest of eggs, her maternal  duties were done, and she was off to do something else.



The storm had caused so much destruction. For others in more populated spots, it had not only felled trees but thrown buildings around. The power outage we suffered was as nothing to the much longer outages that others in our region had to go through. But the plus side of it all was that nature revealed itself to me yesterday. I got to see sights I'd never see if the storm had not brought out our most exotic looking wildlife from its hiding.


To top it all off, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail allowed me to get close enough to take see it in all its glory, even though its tail end was a bit damaged. Or more precisely, perhaps because it was damaged. It was able, however, to fly away afterwards.


Eventually my mowers came and cleared away the fallen tree. The power came back on, and we no longer had to sit indoors in the dark.


The road was littered with sawdust and with fresh green leaves from the tree.


If you'd care to count the rings, the age of the tree cut down in its prime will reveal itself. As for me and Bow, and the snapping turtles and the armadillos, life goes on.





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