Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seeds for Hurricane Relief

I hope any of you who were in the hurricane path made it through safely! I was awestruck by the images of waves in the middle of New York City and the terrifying rooftop rescues throughout the Atlantic states. Now that the immediate crisis is over, the difficult recovery starts. The numbers coming up on the news - in the several millions - of people without power, are simply inconceivable to me.

After one of these disasters I usually think of donating to the relief efforts, but to be honest, I do not always get around to it. It's a disgrace, but I guess people who are comfortable and secure find it too easy to forget about people who are in trouble.

Thankfully there are lots of reminders out there for people like me, and today I got an especially good one. It was an email from one of my favorite organic seed companies, Seeds of Change.

They are offering to donate $1 for every seed packet purchased through November 15 to the American Red Cross for hurricane victims.

Now I have an easy way to donate someone else's money (and get lots of seeds), and there is no excuse for not making my own donation to the Red Cross.

If you would like to check out the Seeds of Change catalog, here is the website.

If you would like to make a donation to the American Red Cross, you can do so online.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Blubber and Bubbles

If you ever need a reminder of how to relax and have a good time, you should spend time with seals.

During last week’s trip to California, we drove out to Goat Rock Beach, where the Russian River flows into the Pacific Ocean. A colony of Pacific Harbor Seals has managed to hang on here, in spite of troublesome people and pollution.
When we viewed them (from the recommended distance), most of them were belly-up on the beach, enjoying the sun.

Occasionally one of them went for a swim, willing to catch a fish if it was easy.

I think that seal was smiling.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Quick Trip

I'm going on another short trip, hope to be back next Monday.

Have a lovely weekend!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Parrot’s Day Out

I have two birds living in my house, a Blue-Front Amazon and a Gray Cockatiel.


It’s a bit like living with extremely social aliens who have no understanding of personal hygiene or human hearing. Some people think that birds are sweet and refined little pets, but I don’t know where this misconception originated. If you don’t think you can manage breathing feather dust, having to yell to make yourself understood over the loud squawking, finding seeds everywhere in your house, and picking up poopy newspapers everyday, you should not have birds. That said, I am a bird person, so the parrots’ personalities, intelligence, and amusing antics more than make up for the aggravation.
We have a big cleaning day two or three times a year when the outdoor temperature is not too hot and not too cold for me to haul the big cages outside and scrub them down with soap and water and then hose them off.
This is Michelangelo’s favorite day, because he gets to sit front of the big mirror and talk to himself.
Today he tired of mirror-gazing and did some exploring.
Having a good laugh at my expense. (He pooped on the white carpet.)

Puff is not quite so enthusiastic about the process. She doesn’t really like change, and a day of alternative activities is just not as much fun for her.
Looking at me suspiciously - she knows her cage is next.
This is the exciting life of a parrot “owner.”


Friday, October 19, 2012

Eating Snails

We have not resorted to eating gastropods from the garden, but we do have some delicious snails on the table.

Can you believe I actually baked something? These are schnecken from an old family recipe. The most basic of all cinnamon rolls, they are made with a simple pastry dough similar to pie crust, with cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins rolled inside. Sliced into spirals, the little snails bake in a sugar-and-butter-lined pan to get the brown crunchy topping.

Our German schnecke is nothing like the enormous, yeasty, gooey cinnamon roll you find in America’s malls!
Cinnabon source
Ours are a little bit hard, a little bit dry, and just sweet enough. Perfect with coffee or tea, schnecken are supposed to be a breakfast food, but I eat them all day. Um, I mean, I could eat them at any time of the day.

I have resisted the Piemaker’s suggestions for “improvements” to this and all other family recipes (no chocolate chips, pecans, peanut butter, maple syrup, etc), because my grandmother lives in these schnecken. She also lives in marmorkuchen and streuselkuchen, German Christmas cookies, and many other precious recipes.
Hooray for grandmothers and old family recipes!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Such a Lazy Blogger

It’s Wednesday already, and this is my first post of the week? I can’t even come up with a good excuse for that. It’s not like I’ve been doing anything important or interesting.

So I’ll just fall back on the lazy blogger’s trick – puppy pics.
The usual - ignoring my requests for a nice pose. Too many things to smell.
She was sleepy enough to sit still for a shot.


Have a good week!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Signs of Life

The seeds I planted a week ago are coming up already.


and the peas are just barely popping up
If I can keep the dogs, cats, birds, squirrels and bugs away, I just might get some edibles this season!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Must Watch TV

I’ve fallen in love with Bomb Girls, only to learn that there are only six episodes! Although the program was renewed for a second season, production has just begun, and there's no telling when the new episodes will be shown in Canada, much less here in the US.

This Canadian show is set in 1941 Toronto, where women have taken over the work of building bombs at a factory since most of the men have gone to fight in WWII.  
Waiting for their shift at the factory
Although I was drawn to the show by the promise of 1940s wardrobes and hairstyles, music, dance and period lingo, I was immediately impressed by the presentation of daily life for women of the time. Yes, it is somewhat glamorized for television, but the grim reality is there too.
My almost-twin, Meg Tilly (we were born 24 days and 400 miles apart) as the stern matron
Women dealt with shortages of food, toiletries, clothing and every other item we take for granted, and they were essentially single mothers raising their children. They lived under a constant burden of fear for their husbands and sons who could die far away. At the same time, they went into unfamiliar workplaces where they learned technical skills, performed dangerous jobs, and kept manufacturing going throughout the war. Through all of it, they were subjected to mean-spirited chauvinism by the male bosses and harrassed and undermined by the few male coworkers. Moments of joy came from family time, camaraderie with their coworkers, and the occasional flirtation with soldiers at the local pub.
the dresses!
The wardrobe designer did extensive research in the Canadian archives, and the GlobalTV website has some very nice photos of women at work and in everyday life during the war years. Yes, the wardrobe is fantastic. Every time I watch an episode show I jump and twitch with each scene change, coveting the incredible dresses and blouses. I’ve already got a mental list of styles I want to recreate.

All photos from Reelz channel





Bomb Girls is definitely worth watching if it comes to one of your television channels or if you find it on DVD (I don't know if it is available yet).


Friday, October 5, 2012

Those Who Can’t Do, Plan

I seem to be stuck in slow motion. I have been working in the vegetable garden all week (granted it’s only for two hours each day) and I still haven’t even finished the first step, which is clearing out the beds. How’s anything going to grow if I never get around to planting seeds?
Awesome seed company! Botanical Interests

I’ve been playing around with the planting chart to see how everything can fit.  

It’s easier this year because I don’t have any incompatible plants. Last year I planted onions and dill, and they each had certain other plants with whom they could not play nicely.

Since crop rotation is one of the ways I can reduce the chronic plagues and pestilence this garden endures, I can put the peas into the beds that did not have beans last year, and the single tomato plant (I could not refuse a special request by the Piemaker) can go in the one bed that did not have tomatoes earlier this year. This leaves room for two sowings of everything else, if I actually follow through with my plan.

I have also been doing a bit of sewing, but have nothing to show as it is all for gifts and thus top-secret! Definitely a departure from my usual (making unnecessarily fancy garments for myself), this is fun, crafty work with pretty quilt fabric to make what I hope will be very useful objects for the recipients. We will see!

And of course, since I’m sewing for others, I can’t help but gaze longingly at the stacks and stacks of lovely apparel fabrics and think of what I would like to make for myself next. I have really been loving my orange striped jeans, so it might be time to make another pair from this very successful (self-drafted!) pattern.

So there you have it. Nothing done but a lot of plans.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Raptors in Rehab

This past weekend we got to take a tour of a rehabilitation facility for injured raptors (birds of prey), called Wild At Heart.
Wild at Heart is quite a large place, housing about 175 birds, but it’s well hidden among desert trees and cacti in Cave Creek, just north of Phoenix.

The sights and sounds instantly took me back 35 years, to when I worked at a similar facility as a teenager. A soft flap-flap-flap-thump repeated back and forth in the falcon flight cage. When I looked through the wires of the Great Horned Owl cage, fourteen identical brilliant yellow eyes stared back.  Baby Barn Owls silently swayed and bobbed in their nest box. The kee-kee-kee of the Kestrels created background music to everything else.
A nice facility for recovering birds and hardworking volunteers

The facility is run entirely by volunteers. Veterinary services are donated, as are the materials for the aviaries and flight pens. The layout seems quite well-designed, the cages are very clean (advances have been made in cage materials since the 70s), and the birds are certainly healthy, aside from the specific injuries which necessitated their rescue.
Harris Hawks – healthy and very noisy
The people at Wild At Heart also coordinate several important programs: captive breeding, species recovery, foster parenting, and relocation.
Burrowing owls frequently need to be relocated due to human encroachment or other problems with their dens.
I worked at a wildlife rehabilitation center all through Junior High and High School, and then worked at a raptor center similar to this one during college. That was a very large part of my life then, and it made a big impact on me.
Yet I ended up not being a veterinarian or a bird biologist, or working with animals in any way. Is it possible to suffer from burnout at age 22? Because I think that’s what happened. The physical challenge of the work was no problem for me as a young woman, but the emotional drain of trying to help hundreds of suffering animals day after day broke some part of me that would have been required to keep going. When I think of it now – standing in the treatment room, attending to any given crisis: the broken wing, the hungry baby, the oiled feathers, the gunshot wound, the blind eye, it goes on and on and never ends – I still feel a painful wrench of something inside that tells me I’m still not quite ready to go back to working with hurt animals.
So I’m thankful to those who have the guts and determination to keep doing it for years on end, like the people at Wild at Heart. There is a lot of interesting information at their website here.

What did you do on the weekend?