Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bear Tracks and very cold temperatures

Anyone who lives around here should be well aware of the erratic weather as of late. For those who don't, here's a brief summary: November and December have been unusually cold for the most part. Last week was unusually warm, and it rained every day for a week. Then on the solstice it went from 60 degrees one day to 9 degrees the next night.

On the 60 degrees day I went for a nice walk up "Sapling Mountain," looking for oyster mushrooms and found instead some really nicely defined bear tracks in the mud. It was actually a stretch of mud that contained tracks of bear, dog, raccoon, human and deer. Two days later, after an intense Winter Solstice night of a great bonfire in some strong ass wind and then a 1:00 in the morning (9 degrees) adventure wrestling with my awning so it wouldn't blow away (it felt like a long lost tribe of sasquatch was yanking and banging on the Airstream, but it was only the wind), I went back up "Sapling Mountain" with my camara to see if I could find the tracks again and document them. I had a beautiful and painfully cold walk. I found the tracks, but the freeze made them less pronounced. I will post the photos anyways, along with some others I took on my winter walk.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays from the former Hot Springs Used Car Parking Lot

This scene struck a special chord in my American heart. The photo doesn't really capture the true essence of the display. There was a pile of trash in the background that you cannot see, and notice the empty plastic cup on top of the No Parking sign. It was a comically empty and kind of dismal scene. This winter has seemed really menacing and dismal particularly in Hot Springs so far. The weather has been cold and wet for the most part. The used car parking lot was closed (good thing but has an empty depressing feel). The pub closed upon the sudden death of the owner. Downtown Hot Springs is somewhat void of livliness right now. But there's always the good ole home team try. I appreciate that lonely Christmas tree.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tales of White Nite: Part 2 of the Screech Owl Assistance

Monday morning I went to check on the screech owl, and I couldn't find him. I looked in the worm tray (see previous post) and found that one of the huge, arnica and hypericum laced nightcrawlers had been eaten. I looked all around on the ground and couldn't find the owl. Then I almost stepped on him. He flew lowly and slowly across the road and landed somewhere on the ground. I went over there to find him because I thought it was unsafe for him to be sitting on the ground for a long time. I looked and looked and couldn't find him. Then I almost stepped on him again- he sure can camoflauge! This time he flew across the river and landed in a branch in a sycamore tree. He still wasn't flying very strongly. I made a mental note of which tree he was in and went to work.

Jenna happened to be going to Newport that day for other reasons, and I asked her and her caregiver to stop at the pet store and buy me a mouse to feed the owl. They did, but they didn't get back with it until after dark. I went ahead and went over to the owl spot just before dark to try to find him and check on him. I put on by big tall rubber boots and forded the river. I couldn't find him anywhere. About that time I got a call on my cell phone from Jenna's caregiver who was frantic. It turns out the mouse was chewing its way through the carrier box in the car as they were on their way home from Newport. Jenna tried to poke it back in the box with her finger, and it bit her. They were both kind of freaking out. I told them I would see them at the house in a few minutes.

Well, I went over to Jenna's house to retrieve the naughty mouse, even though I had not seen the owl. When I got there, the mouse had been tied up in a grocery bag and chucked in the outdoor trash can so it wouldn't escape. I got the bag out of the trash can, and opened it up and HARK! There were 2 mice in there. I guess the pet store lady threw in a freebee... I decided to put them in a big plastic storage bin with some bedding and take them to the spot I had last seen the owl, in case he was close by hiding. That way he would have some easy food- you see, the storage bin was such that a small injured owl could get in, but the mice could not get out.

I forded the river again, this time in the dark, and placed the bin of mice on the ground under the sycamore. In the morning I returned early and forded the river a
3rd time to check the situation. Both mice were still in the bin, but one had died (froze to death?) and the other was fine. I decided the owl was most likely recovered and gone and I retrieved the living mouse and left.

That is how I ended up with a new pet. I have named her (I think it's a she) White Nite, and I have plans to let these people feed her to their snake next week, but I am afaid I might be getting attached. You see, I like to talk pretty to White Nite and pet her with my finger, and yesterday I gathered the gumption to pick her up. It was fun. Her seemingly favorite pasttimes are: eating and napping. I don't know what I'll end up doing, but for now she is sharing the Airstream with me. SM thinks I should build her a replica of the Airstream to live in.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Screech Owl Assistance

This morning I was driving to Jenna's house, and I noticed a little red screech owl on the ground on the side of the road. I pulled over to check on it, and it weakly flew up to a branch. He looked at me long and hard, and I could see that his eye was messed up. He was probably hit by a car. I remembered that a friend of a friend is a screech owl rehab expert. I called and got "C's" phone number, and called him. He told me that the owl most likely has a concussion, and that he has a 50-50 chance of survival. It is a good thing that the wings aren't broken. I shouldn't try to capture him because that would be more traumatizing to the fragile bird than helpful. He said that the best thing I could do would be to bring the owl some live food that couldn't get away so that when he is ready to eat, he will have something easy. He suggested worms, crickets or mice.

Later in the morning, we went to C&H bait shop and bought some nightcrawlers. We talked to our homeopathic doctor friend who suggested that we crush arnica and hypericum homeopathic pellets and lace the worms with the medicine. Jenna used her mortar and pestel to do just that.

I clamped the worms with clothes pins so they couldn't escape, laced them with homeopathic medicine for trauma and put them in a shallow basket.

Then Jenna and I drove back to the spot by the Laurel River where the owl was. I found the spot by remembering that it was by this sign.

He was still there, and I think his sillouete against the sky is beautiful. He watched me put the food down, so I hope he eats it soon.

I will check on him again tomorrow morning, and if he is gone, that will be a good sign. Good luck owl!

My Dear Friend, Her Beautiful Offspring, and a Creepy Pink Music Box Doll

Monday, December 1, 2008

Airstream Update

Today is December 1. It is snowing for the 4th time this winter. Winter came on this year with a relentless bang, and it hasn't really let up. I am still taking bucket baths outside with rain water heated on the stove. Bucket bathing in the snow was quick and exciting. Soon I will purchase a tankless on demand water heater and rig a hot outdoor shower. I actually talked with a friend this morning who has done almost this very thing, and he gave me specific details about the project. (YAY!) This morning I woke up and went outside to use the bathroom and realized the Airstream's awning was weighted down with snow on top. So after I came back from the outhouse I pulled out the ladder and got up there with a flat rake and scraped the snow off so the weight wouldn't cause the whole thing to cave in. Since it has been raining and snowing relatively a lot, the ground has gotten really muddy and squishy which is making it hard to park near the camper. I want to get some more gravel.
Anyways, this morning I was wondering what the heck I'm doing living down there in tha Airstream in the winter. But so far, it's working OK. You better believe I will write about it when I get a hot shower.

Would have won the game...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jenna's cure for hiccups

The other day I had the hiccups bad. I was hanging out with Jenna at her house, and she took it upon herself to cure me. She tried to scare me with some loud noises to no avail. Then after a while she suddenly started pushing me down the hall and into the bathroom while laughing hysterically. I didn't know what was happening until she grabbed my head and tried to shove it into the toilet. Her "cure" was nothing other than a good old fashioned whirly (head flushed in the toilet.) My head never made it into the toilet because I caught onto the plan and resisted with force, but the commotion of the whole thing mixed with the fear of a real live whirly killed my narly case of hiccups very quickly.
The next day Jenna commented on the matter: "You were hiccupping like it was nobody's business, and it was getting on my nerves." Then she added, "That was a pretty clever idea. Go me!"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Warning: graphic photo

A friend and her boyfriend went over to Tennessee to the boyfriend's cousin's meat processing shop and got me 5 deer hides and 5 deer heads. The hides went straight into the freezer and the heads came home with me to the campfire for and immediate "brain removal operation." It was dark so I pulled an extension cord out and plugged in a light. I laid some plastic down on the ground next to the light and laid out all of the heads on the plastic. I skinned the tops of the heads between the back of the eyes and the ears. Then one by one I put each head on a rock and smashed the skull with the blunt edge of my maul. Then the segment of broken skull was pried back with the point of my fire poker and I scooped the brains out with a spoon. At the end of the session, all the brains went into the freezer for later use (brain tanning the hides of course).
Let me comment a little about the aforementioned process. It was gruesome, and I would not call it fun. The only part I enjoyed was scooping out the actual brains, because the organ is so amazing and the texture is very unique. While I was trying to bash the skull of the first head, I almost decided I couldn't do it. It was just too violent and gruesome and I was about to draw the line. I thought to myself,
'I'll just go back to Ingles and buy more canned brains and use those.' Then I realized that would defeat the purpose of tanning the natural way. It is messed up to have access to the perfect tanning materials and choose to use them because it is too hands-on and graphic. I decided to follow through and utilize the natural brains I had in front of me. As I scooped out the brains I thought about the whole thing poetically. What was stored in those brains? The keen senses of the deer, the primal knowledge of the plants of the woods, the electrical system that controlled the graceful and swift movements of such beautiful beasts. Maybe somehow in handling the brains and using them, some of the content of the brains would rub off on me. For a brief moment I considered eating a small morsel of raw brains as a kind of sacrament, but I decided against it, because the heads already smelled a little bad and I thought of mad cow disease and other grossness...
It will probably take me quite a while to work my way through all those hides and brains, so if any readers would like to tan a hide, just give me the word...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

5:00 French Broad Yellow

I went walking up to Lovers Leap late yesterday, when the light was just something else. On the way down, walking by the river, I decided to make a list of all the lovely yellow things I saw- because the late day sun was doing the yellow just right. Indulge me by reading my yellow list:
poison ivy
spice bush
green briar
wild oats
river birch
chestnut oak
a man wearing a kilt that had yellow in it (well, he was in town on my way back, but close enough)

Post Script: I went back the next day and noticed also:
witch hazel in bloom
bittersweet vine
tulip poplar
a beautiful yellow sun sinking behind the blue ridge

"I said 'ain't' and I meant it"

Jenna: It's a good thing I ain't camara shy.
Dana: What? Did you say ain't?
Jenna: Yeah, it's a good thing I ain't camara shy. I said ain't and I meant it. I said it and I'll say it again. It's a good thing I ain't camara shy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Library phenomenon

Today I went to the library to check out (no pun intended) their movie selection. After about 10 or 15 minutes of browsing, I was hit with the urge that I will politely call the library phenomenon. This phenomenon is a very curious thing. 10 out of 10 times that I go to the library, just being there has a laxative effect on me- an effect that cannot be ignored and must be attended to. I know I am not the only person who experiences this phenomenon. I have informally interviewed enough of "the public" to be able to informally conclude that about 50% of Americans are effected in this way.
You may ask "why does this happen?"
I do not know.
But I have a theory that it is the psychic effect of being surrounded by so much information. The quantity of information sends a message of overload to our psychic sensors, which in turn accidentally (or not)sends a message of overload to our intestines. This is the moment which the urge to eliminate occurs.
You may think I am kidding.
I'm not.

Monday, October 20, 2008

9th Grade Prom 1962

My mom got this picture out to show me and graciously let me display it here. She is the one on the right with her first boyfriend, Ricky Gunder, in Dayton, Ohio. My mom didn't know why in the world I would want to post this picture on my blog. I just did- it seemed special. Love, Dana

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More on molasses (pictures)

Last Saturday was a big fish fry to celebrate the end of molasses making on Shelton Laurel. (See first story on molasses making). Lots of people from the community showed up. More molasses were made, and people had their camaras out, so naturally I felt comfortable to whip mine out and utilize it as well.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

They're getting close...(Molasses making in Shelton Laurel)

I went to a molasses making out Shelton Laurel on Monday. Two things I learned (other than how to make sorghum molasses) were that 1)according to expert mountain molasses makers out on Shelton Laurel, the word molasses is always plural, and 2)sometimes it is really worth it to stick something out to the end, even if I am tired.
I showed up at 3:00 in the afternoon to a molasses making shed behind the Church of God on Shelton Laurel. I knew it was the right place because I could see the smoke from the fire and the steam rising from the box of boiling sorghum juice. There were a dozen or so people there, some standing or sitting around, and some actively doing something. This would be the case for the next 8 hours, people casually coming and going, helping at times, hanging around shooting the breeze at times, and just sitting around at times. It was my neighbor, "S's" turn to make his molasses, and he had said I could come help if I wanted.
Some background. Apparently, for I don't know how long, people in the Shelton Laurel community have been somewhat communally growing sorghum and making molasses. Families grow their own patches of sorghum and are responsible for the raising of their crops, but a lot of them grow in the same field, and they do things on the same schedule (row hoeing day, etc.) and they save and use the same seed year after year. Come fall, everyone harvests their sorghum, and each family fodders their own crop. This is stripping all the leaves and ending up with bare canes. Then comes the truly communal part. For about 2 weeks, molasses are being cooked pretty much every day, and everyone helps each other with the process. So for example, Monday was "S's" day to cook, but a lot of other people were there helping, even though all the molasses went to "S" because they were cooked from his canes. And in turn "S" was helping with the cooking on days other than his own. I guess, whenever you can show up and help during cooking season, you do.
So I showed up when "S's" canes were being pressed. The canes were being fed through these huge metal wheels with teeth that were turned by a motor (turned by mules in the old days). I started helping with that. At first no one really talked to me much; everyone was doing something, and they all knew each other. After I helped for a while, a couple people talked to me.
70 gallons of neon green juice were pressed from "S's" sorghum cane- enough to make a "box." The "box" is a large metal lined box that the molasses cooks down in. The neon juice (which was already sweet in its own right) was siphoned through 2 filters (burlap sack and cotton sack) into the box, and then the box was carefully lifted by its cleverly constructed handles and set onto the cooking chamber (a concrete pit dug out so the box fits exactly on it.) A fire was built with pine, to burn hot, under the box, and the cooking began.
People settled into folding chairs around the box and started hanging out. Some people held long handled tools- a fanner, a couple of dippers, and a couple skimmers were present. Everytime the neon juice threatened to boil over, people kicked into gear, fanning the stuff and dipping and pouring it over itself to cool off quickly. It always worked. As green scummy stuff boiled to the top, it was constantly skimmed off and dumped into a bucket. This process lasted about 6 hours. People came and went- the core group just hung out, shooting the shit, joking around, and working the molasses. Most of the joking was G rater, but as the evening progressed, there were a couple of seedy joke sessions that really got people howling. Everyone seemed to know each other well, and there were different generations represented.
I came and went- picking up cookies and chicken pot pie for "S," who was in charge of feeding all the helpers. I also had to do some farm chores for the Mechos, who were out of town. I accidentally left my car lights on while I was doing the chores, and I got a dead battery. That was stupid. And it took a while to resolve it. Kind neighbor, G, came up and gave me a jump.
Sitting around while it was getting dark waiting for a jump start, I lost my steam for the molasses making. I didn't want to go back, and to be honest, the only reason I did was because I had told "S" I would "be right back." So I went back, but I wasn't planning to stay. But I got there and someone said "You came back!" and I was a sucker for acknowledgement and feeling like I was a part of something and I stayed. It was smart.
The end was the most interesting. People were tired and humor was less filtered. People even joked with me, the newcomer. I felt it appropriate, since it was clear that all molasses were plural, if a singular one was a "molass." That got some chuckles.
My favorite part was the end of the cooking, when one of the older men took the "judge's seat." Everyone all of a sudden was on alert because it was almost done. No one wanted those molasses to burn. The judge took his job very seriously. He took a wooden spatula and scraped the bottom to see if they were sticking. Then he drizzled (for you RM) some molasses down to observe consistency. Finally he and the other old men stuck their faces real close and watched the quality of the bubbles. "When they look like big craters on the moon they're ready." Finally it was determined the molasses were ready, and the box was removed from the fire.
The rest was interesting too. The women were suddenly all bustling a shit ton of glass quart jars around, organizing them on a wooden plank that was set over the smouldering coals- so the jars would get hot and not crack when the hot molasses got poured in. The men siphoned the molasses into a beer keg, and the judge methodically filled and capped all 50+ quart jars that were handed to him by everyone else. This took a while- 2 lids exploded off and there was a molasses mess. But it was OK. The younguns (and some of us olderuns) took plastic spoons and ate the residual molasses out of the box. We cleaned up and left at 11:05. By the end of the night, people were calling me by name and inviting me to come back. It was fun. And "S" generously shared some of his molasses with me for helping.
I hope you liked my account. I really wanted to take some pictures, but I didn't want to be the new person no one knew who was taking a bunch of pictures. I hate it when people do that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall garden picture display (inspired by Beth Trigg's- Milkweed Diaries)

dahlia (don't know variety)

Don Juan climbing rose (kicks out flowers spring through late fall!)

dahlia (don't know variety)

Manihot hibiscus

raspberries from the Madison County Agriculture Extension (good deal!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hunter Safety- Final Night or "What is 6 ft 4, 270 lbs, size 15 foot and says," Dana Nagle, 100%?)

Yesterday my car broke. It didn't "break down," so to speak. It broke, so to speak-the whole wheel came off of the ball joint. Jesus in the sky must have been looking favorably upon me because this accident decided to happen in the safest of locations in the safest of ways- downtown Hot Springs when I was going about 10 miles an hour. After handfuls of the most helpful men in town and my entire family showed up on the scene within moments (how did they all happen to be there?) and the very friendly Gary Wills left his fields and gave me a tow and Jenna's caregiver MH loaned me her car for the week... I was off to class on time with SG. We even had time to eat tacos and study in Marshall for a while first. Basically class was fairly uneventful other than me getting gas from the garlic in the fish tacos and having to leave the room many times to fart. Also, there was a guest teacher to talk about hunting "preparedness" (aka first aid and such), and he said Heat Stroke is really serious- and proceeded to tell us about the stroke his grandmother had. I realized he thought heat strokes were a type of stroke...
We took the 50 question test and then waited in the hall for the teacher to grade the papers. Then he said we all passed and read everyone's grade out loud (except for one person who didn't want his grade read out loud.) Everyone passed, and we all got our Hunter Education card, which we were advised to make a copy of and get both laminated.
On the way home I celebrated by stopping at Ingles and buying a lightbulb. SG told me that mercury was in retrograde. Jesus.

Hunter Safety- 2nd Installment

Night 2 of Hunter Safety Training left me with a treasure of memories to be enjoyed for as long as my memory serves me. First off, the day was a little wacky to start off. The gas crisis had me coasting on empty down to the state line gas station (that's the NC TN state line for those who don't know) to buy a tank for $4.60 a gallon. SG, my hunter safety course partner, got gas there at the same time and also did some thrift store shopping inside. These small country gas stations tend to diversify their sales items by necessity... She scored a girly cut tee shirt that says "Butch's world of meats: Believe us size makes a difference" and has a cartoon of a cow licking her lips. After that she went home to fix lunch and cut her hand opening a can of peas. She ended up getting 4 stitches by the nurse at the Hot Springs clinic. (She was about to only get 3 stitches, but she happened to mention to the nurse that there was still a huge section of cut that wasn't stitched and perhaps another stitch would be good, a comment to which the nurse replied, "Oh yeah- you're right."
So SG and I drove over to Mars Hill later that day, she donning her MEAT shirt and a club hand and me donning my girly outfit- pink ruffly blouse, jeans, big hoop earrings and purple eye shadow. Class consisted of a series of videos ranging in topic from bullets to bow hunting safety to(my personal favorite) tree stand safety to hunting ethics. I fell asleep during the bow hunting safety video but was wide eyed and bushy tailed for the tree stand safety video, which was a series of very bad actors setting up different kinds of tree stands and then getting up in them and falling out, very fakely. It was all I could do to contain the surges of laughter that came swelling in waves from my very gut, like bile rising before a barf.
The ethics video was even better: A series of scenarios of 2 hunters on 4 wheelers getting into situations where there was a moral decision to make. Inevitably one hunter would try to peer pressure the other guy into doing the wrong thing and there would be a cliff hanger. There is this guy in the class who sat behind SG and me who looked flushed and excited all the time and was really into guns and I decided maybe he was writing a manifesto in his free time... Anyways, after every hunter ethics skit, the screen would flash over to a list of ATV safety rules in such small print you couldn't even read it if you were right up on the TV. The excited guy would run up to the TV after each skit and mumble about how he couldn't read it. It was so funny to me and I would crack up and then be baffled that no one else seemed to thing anything of any of it. It was too much. After we watched all the videos and talked about bow hunting some more, the teacher (Game Warden) opened up the floor for any questions about hunting laws (of which there are probably volumes). He seemed really excited, like this was the fun part of teaching the course for him. No one jumped to ask anything, and he said with disappointment "Y'all are the quietest class I've ever had." (SG later told me she thought he had said we were the brightest class he ever had). People slowly started asking questions, a lot about trapping laws and other things. I got my courage up and asked him if anyone had ever called him to say they had found Sasquatch. He said yes. My night was complete.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hunter Safety Training- 1st Session Report

Last night began my three night course in Hunter Safety. One must complete this course and pass the test in order to obtain a NC hunting license. I am taking the class with dear friend SG, who also was somewhat recently given a 20 gauge shotgun. We both decided that by the end of the 3 hours last night, our brains were supersaturated with information about guns and shooting. The teacher is a very nice and helpful Game Warden. The class consists of about 25 people, male and female, ranging in age from about 10 years to about 65 years. All participates are of the white race. It seems that everyone in there already knows a lot about guns. The teacher said that if any persons can't read, he can assist them with the test taking process on Wednesday night.

I wore a special outfit for my first night- my most favorite tee shirt (with the sleeves cut off) that reads "I never met a sheep I didn't like... until I met BRENDA!!" with illustrations. I also sported Guess jeans and a side braid and some sparkly eye shadow. I won't get into describing the content matter of the class too much- if you are interested you should just get out there and take the course- it's free. But I will share a few highlights: A man sitting near me had on a shirt that read "Practice safe lunch, use a condiment," and had cartoon pictures of catsup, mustard and mayonaisse. I asked him after class if I could take a picture of his shirt because it was so funny, and he said no.
Next a couple good quotes from the wonderful instructor:
"I just love guns. I always have. I don't hate the government or anything- I just like guns."
"You wanna dispatch that animal as quickly as possible" (in reference to shooting deer and gettting a good shot that will make a quick clean kill.

I will have 2 more installments of Hunter Safety training updates. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hippie Camp

This weekend found me living in what appeared to be a hippie camp. LC and ET came out on Friday evening because they so very generously agreed to help me install gutters on the old house that sets up above the Airstream for a rainwater catchment system. As the weekend rolled along I realized that to passers-by (yeah, like there was a ton of traffic) we looked like a backwoods hippie camp, complete with the following:
outdoor dishwashing station
handmade benchery at the fire pit
dogs running around
jugs of hauled in drinking water
bundles of herbs hanging everywhere to dry
people cooking stew over a fire in a dutch oven (thank god it was beef stew so we
weren't really hippies...)
tussie mussie bundles of flowers being made by a lovely lady who was dancing around
admiring the beauty of the wild flora
strange Belgium men dosing off on the ground in the afternoon sun
fresh warm milk being drunk straight from the gallon jug from strange Belgium men
and of course the rainwater catchment project.

ET was awesome in initiating an early starting time for putting up the gutters, and he rocked it in the hot-ass muggy September sun. When the water flowed the wrong way, he patiently adjusted the whole entire thing. When the water jumped over the front lip of the gutter, he came up with a tin flap that caught the jumping water and sent it back into the flow. LC rocked the tussie mussie scene while grooving to Michael Jackson on my ipod. She also rocked the dutch oven with some killer beef stew. It was a really productive session. As soon as I get paid again I am going to buy a 250 gallon water storage tank to set under the gutter, and a hose or pipe to gravity run the water down to a shower that I will somehow rig up with a water heater. Winter will find my hippie camp flowing with steamy hot rainwater showers.

Thanks ET and LC!

Note- the pictures show the old house with gutter, the old house in relation to the Airstream (with the awesome temporary power pole in the foreground, one of the lovely benches ET made me (with tussie mussie by LC) and the human hippie water station.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear Simon

Dear Simon,

Meg and I were talking yesterday on the phone, and just before she had to hang up she informed me that you have been wondering if I consider myself to be a "hippie" or perhaps a "mountain woman." She didn't have time for us to have a conversation about it, so I told her I would write the answer in a Dear Simon blog post.

I can't just say "Yes, I consider myself to be a hippie," or "Well, I consider myself to be 55% hippie and 45% mountain woman" because that wouldn't be much of a letter or a blog. So my response will be multi-faceted.

First I want to tell you 3 of the main goals I have for myself for the winter: 1) To learn to safely operate and maintain my new 20 gauge shotgun and hunt turkeys with it 2) to learn how to safely operate and maintain my new Stihl m230 chainsaw 3) to learn how to make crocheted lace.

Next I want to tell you about my current outfit. I am wearing a camo wife beater with olive green "capri pants." I have on ankle socks and some fancy gear head trail shoes. Around my neck is a chunky turquise necklace, and I am sporting matching turquoise earrings. My hair is in 2 long braids. There is no make up on my face.

Now I want to tell you what I did today. I spent several hours dealing with "banking" issues. Then I went and did gardening work for someone in Weaverville. When it started raining lightly I kept working. When it started raining harder I considered myself rained out and left. Then I made some homemade face cream out of calendula oil that I made of flowers I grew. This is sounding kind of hippie.

My friend Sally told me "in your heart you are a hippie, but on the exterior you are a redneck." Then she cracked up.

Before I give you my own final answer I want to tell you that among my top values are: family, friends, community, the earth and all life on it, and humor. I prefer organic food, but I am not above dogging some hot wings at some stupid restaurant. I intend to hunt for food not sport, and I appreciate the beauty of turkeys as much if not more than their nutritional value.

All in all I consider myself a hippie with a "twist." I would love to be a mountain woman, but I don't think I qualify yet. I aspire to qualify some day.

I hope I have succeeded in satsifying your curiosity on this matter.

Your friend and your wife's BFF,

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Quilting in the Airstream, black widows and thoughts

The other night I fired up the ole orange lights on the Airstream and had SM over for some quilting. We are involved in a community baby quilt for a friend in Hot Springs. It was quite exciting to quilt in there while drinking tea/beer (depending on the person) and eating toast. We laughed a lot.

On a more serious note, I was doing some gardening work for a friend on Ox Creek yesterday, and she found a large, beautiful black widow under a piece of wood in one of the flower gardens. We admired her for a good while, and then I killed her. We accidentally lost her egg sack somehow, but I was going to destroy it too. I do not like killing spiders, but I am willing to kill poisonous types when they are around the home or garden. I am thinking that a more appropriate action would have been to trap her and her egg sack and take them far far away. What do the readers think?

That experience led me to ponder the whole activity of gardening and what a strange thing it is- to bust your ass creating an environment that is, in a sense, artificial, even though it contains natural, living organisms. I guess I can understand the evolutionary purpose of gardening for food and why humans began to switch to agriculture some 10,000 years ago, but what is up with our desire to landscape or replace the native flora with pockets of foreign plant matter that are arranged in a way that we find appealing? And why do we go to such lengths with labor, resources and poisons to keep out the life forms that we don't want in those pockets of bizarreness? We are a strange people, and I kind of hope to god there are no such things as aliens to come down and school us on how weird we are on our planet. For the record, I would, however, welcome lessons of wisdom any day from elusive terristrial creatures such as bigfoot... Do you think sasquatch grow flower gardens? Do they kill black widows? What would a lady-squatch do if she found a copperhead under the front porch of her hut?

Monday, September 1, 2008

More pictures from the Airstream front

Actually, pictures of the outhouse area...