Saturday, January 29, 2011


The other house on the Divine property has stood empty for as long as two and a half years while seeking a tenant who can appreciate its quaint and rustic winter drafts and hard water. It's not a cabin, more of a cottage. When I first got here it housed a couple with the prettiest three little girls. Then there was a couple with a young boy; they moved away to a subdivision because he needed friends and playmates. Then Shelley, the Harley rider who has moved back into the country area she came from. Now I've got a great neighbor who invited me over for New Year's Eve, and I've repaired some of her costume jewelry, and baked her some cookies, and she's taken me to lunch and given me cookies on a holiday plate, and I've encouraged her to take art classes and she did, and she politely grants permission for me to shoot off fireworks, and we talk about gardening and about boyfriends, and she is my exact same age...just the kind of neighbor everyone dreams of.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nature Wants You to Have the Best

Had a housecat that always claimed and slept on the best chair cushion, and in winter she'd curl up wherever a sunbeam entered the window, and as the sunbeam moved, she'd inch over to stay in it, her black fur getting wonderfully warm. She wanted her favorite salmon for all meals, but she got it only on Sundays, and was persistently vocal about how unhappy she was with dry food. This cat sat on my newspaper while I was trying to read it. I shooed it off. It came back. It was communicating, "What's so interesting there that it absorbs your attention? Pay attention to me."

Cardinals stop coming to my feeder when they've plucked it clean of sunflower seeds. They'll pick them out of the assortment of millet, corn, finch seed, and other grains in normal wild-bird feed, just like they know those seeds are the most expensive in the mix.

Bunnies go right for the tenderest and tastiest things in the garden. The box turtle, like us, waited for the exact day when the cantaloupe was perfectly ripe, and the morning we ran to the garden to seize it we saw the turtle with its head stuck through the hole it'd chewed in the melon's side (even though we had the melons tied up in nylon stockings) shamelessly enjoying the sweet juicy flesh.

Young cedar trees competing with young oaks for good growing spots root themselves just inches in front of the oak, trying to get all the sun and nutrients for themselves.

Everything naturally wants the best for itself -- except human beings. I was raised to settle for what's shabby, secondhand, stale, underpaid, accepting what's below par and be glad I have it at all (called "being grateful"); let others grab the good stuff and take the leftovers ("being noble"); let people exploit and abuse me or mine without objecting (called "being polite"); sacrifice small pleasures like buying a $5 bunch of flowers because I wasn't worth it or every penny must be hoarded out of fear of the future, or to pay bills ("being frugal"). Made for a dull and bitter life. I am learning from nature that what I lived for so long wasn't life at all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Propane Man

That's my check for $880 he's holding, so the least he could do, I said, was pose for a picture. Love these trucks, always kept clean and bright. You remember last year I let the propane run out to nothing and sat for three days (long weekend) in a 49-degree house. Not this year, uh uh! No dumb bunny! Plus I turned up the heat by four degrees cuz no matter what you do to a log cabin it's still going to be chilly in here-the logs themselves are solid through with cold. The floor radiates cold. So this man, a very friendly propane man, is one of my truest friends. Will work for $880. (I don't want to divide that by the number of gallons and see the price per gallon, because I'll get mad.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's Got a Yellow Belly

Northern migration has begun, and that means spring is coming! First Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker of the year arrived at the suet yesterday morning, and I wanted to prove it to you, but I didn't get a decent picture until today.

Sapsuckers mostly live and breed in Canada, but they winter in the South, and just as soon as the days begin lengthening they pass through here goin' on up to home. They belong to the woodpecker family. Sap is not available just now so they'll take suet and I'm happy to serve it, I get so much pleasure from watching birds and learning their ways. I expect elegantly-dressed Mr. and Mrs. Flicker to pass through here any day now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Underground Cable

This week's work, hating and subverting Japanese-honeysuckle vines, invasives with woody runners as thick as your wrist, that snake out of the earth and twine their way up trees, strangling them. To complete the kill, they load the treetop with so much vine that the trees topple. This vine is dead, but it only shows you how the thing wants to squeeze the jesus out of everything in its path.

Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is most evident in winter, and I sever as many "cables" as I can, finding them so grossly offensive I feel driven to cut them even knowing the cut end will sprout five more tentacles. Easy to I.D. the living vines because their leaves, dammit, are evergreen. In some areas the vines droop from branches practically forming curtains. There are only two ways to kill it dead: a springtime controlled burn, or cutting and painting the root end with Roundup herbicide. Obviously those are jobs for pros and I can't do it throughout my hundred Divine acres. If I had a magic lamp one of my three wishes would be: No invasive species!! This plant is of the Devil.

Alas, it is said that the entity that introduced it to the state was the MDC as ground cover for home gardens. It escaped and is ripping down rows of trees everywhere I look. Positively grievous. Picture taken on the Timberstone trail.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Little Snow

We've had three snows so far, the deepest three inches just the other day. In eastern Missouri these are called "snowstorms," and the people in charge call out the snowplows and MoDOT and the national guard, while I sit snowed in telling my employer, "Sorry, I'm snowed in," until the plows scrape off and salt Highway F. A few inches of snow here is big scary news and folks run out and stock up and the weathermen tell them to stay home, and the schools close, and people huddle at home until it passes. I'm originally from Wisconsin and also used to live in Syracuse, New York (also known as "Siberacuse," where 18-inch snowfalls were common), so I laugh and laugh.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stolen Kisses

The H.O. Wilbur Chocolate company of Lititz, Pennsylvania invented and popularized the “chocolate buds” shown above in 1894, and it is widely insinuated that the Hershey company a few miles over “borrowed” this idea in 1907, mass-manufactured it, and made history. (Here’s a cool blog by an 11-year-old who collects every flavor of Hershey’s Kisses.) In 1909 Mr. Wilbur sued Hershey and lost. Similar in size to Hershey’s Kisses, the Wilbur Buds have a rounded bottom stamped “WILBUR” as you see. Both dark and light Wilbur Buds are deeply flavored and melt much more slowly than Hershey’s, and are less chalky and sugary but more cocoa-y and waxy. A former student and Kiss connoisseur ordered Wilbur Buds, available online, just to see what they were like and thought to share them with her former teacher. How sweet is that? The dusty-looking “bloom” on them, or on any piece of chocolate, is what happens when humidity gets to the candy, as in the refrigerator.

Monday, January 3, 2011

This Will Fry Your Brain

Burning the excess brush cut down on Christmas day (pictured), I thought, "a bonfire." Then I wondered, "What's the difference between a bonfire and a regular fire?" Looked it up.

bon-fire. Middle English bonefire, banefire, originally a fire of bones.
1. A fire for consuming bones, hence: a. (Obs.) A fire for burning corpses. b. A fire for burning heretics, or articles under proscription. c. A fire for burning brush or rubbish.
2. A large fire built in the open air (orig. on certain anniversaries, esp. the eves of St. Peter and St. John), as an expression of public joy, for sport, etc.

Quite a history. The fire here is definition 1.c. With the surrounding brush cleared and flattened, this spot suddenly became perfect for a permanent firebowl. Everyone liked this idea, and friends carried concrete blocks and helped me to establish it on Saturday (and stayed here half the night feeding and enjoying the fire). Happy New Year and stay warm.