Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Most Remote Waterfall

November when the trees are naked is a great time to view the property's waterfalls, especially after rain has them rushing, and this one, #7, is the most remote and difficult to access of the eight waterfalls, with banks on each side so steep and choked up with rocks and impassable fallen trees I've never gotten close enough to capture its mostly unseen majesty. But yesterday, because it was there and because if I didn't do it now I might never, I was determined to climb, splash, crawl, and balance-beam to inch as close as possible, and got closer than ever before so I could show you. Still photos are nice but they don't give you a sense of scale or capture the whole experience with sound. I took a video. Now you can see and hear Waterfall #7 at full flood for real (40 seconds). Its brook ultimately flows about a quarter mile through the woods, and then over another waterfall, #5, into a pool, and then beneath bluffs into a swirling LaBarque Creek.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Can This Firebowl Be Saved?

Finished winterizing all my single-pane doors and windows (all but two windows now blocked with 3/4-inch insulation) just under the deadline on a lucky 66-degree dry day with wind howling up high in the sky, where a hawk was riding thermals. Today: cold and rainy, with wintry mix approaching. And as long as I was out there working, I cut down some upstart red cedars and briars, and took a look at my firebowl,  neglected now for years while I overworked myself elsewhere. In December 2010 all this brush got cut down. Currently it looks like:
I can do a couple of things, such as move the firebowl away from the base of the oaks, but before that, the brush must be cleared. It isn't widespread enough to hire a brush hog for, and my friend who owned a chainsaw looked at it askance (to be fair, he hates manual work of any kind). The green sprouts at the photo's bottom right are Demetrius' onions,  perennials, sole survivors of his gardening; these I keep and use and won't have mown down. Decided to try clearing this with hand tools as my project for December. Going outside in chilly temps and working is the only way for me not to hate cold weather. I hope for an improved firebowl I'll use more often, for burning dry leaves and fallen branches, and staring into, as time counts down to the winter solstice (only 25 days!).

Friday, November 27, 2015

The 5 Grossest Things that Ever Happened Here

5. Headless blue jay found floating in the rain barrel.

4. Mouse dies beneath water heater and stinks for six weeks.

3. Handyman (no longer employed here) brings his guitar and asks for a date.

2. Demetrius vomiting his purple cabbage soup into the toilet.

1. The watering can for some reason won't pour. As I tilt it trying to pour more water out, the head of a drowned mouse emerges from the spout.

(Actually, #2 was very funny. To me.)


-Mouse scrambles across my bed with me in it.

-Clapping a fat tomato hornworm between two bricks sprays green goop all over my face, glasses, and shirt.

-Carpet has not been cleaned in 10 years.

-Removing a length of tape from around the non-working fireplace, I find stuck to it three small dead snakes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Are Flags at Half-Staff All the Time?

Taken Nov. 19, 2015
It seemed to me that flags fly at half-staff more than they used to -- in fact almost continually -- and I wanted to know whether I was imagining that or was it real. Well, dog my cats, U.S. and Missouri flags have been at half-staff a heck of a lot of the time. Information came from this state-run website.
  • November 16, 2015: By order of the President of the United States, effective immediately, the United States flag at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff, until sunset, November 19, 2015, honoring the victims of the attack in Paris, France. 
  • October 16, 2015: By order of the Governor, all flags of the United States and the flag of Missouri at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, from sunrise until sunset in honor of Lance Corporal Dominic E. Shraft who died while serving his country.
  • October 13, 2015: By order of the Governor, all flags at every fire station in the state of Missouri and the Fire Fighters Memorial in Kingdom City will be flown at half-staff, effective immediately, in honor of Firefighter Larry Leggio and Firefighter John Mesh who died in the line of duty on October 12th.
  • October 5, 2015: By order of the Governor, all flags of the United States and the flag of Missouri at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff, on Thursday, October 8, 2015 from sunrise until sunset as a mark of respect for former State Senator Harold L. Caskey.
  • October 5, 2015: By order of the President of the United States, effective immediately, the United States flag at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff, until sunset, October 6, 2015 honoring the victims of the tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon.
  • September 10, 2015: In accordance with state law, Sec. 9.134 RSMo., the United States flag and the Missouri state flag shall be flown at half-staff on all government buildings statewide on Friday, September 11, 2015, from sunrise until sunset in honor of the individuals who died as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. 
  • September 1, 2015: By order of the Governor, all flags at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff, statewide, on Friday, September 4, 2015, from sunrise until sunset in honor of Trooper James M. Bava who died in the line of duty.  All flags at all Missouri State Highway Patrol locations will continue to be flown at half-staff through sunset on Friday, September 4, 2015.
  • July 21, 2015: By order of the President of the United States, effective immediately, the United States flag at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff, until sunset, July 25, 2015, honoring the service member victims of the tragedy in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Isn't much else to say, except it was news to me that Veterans' Day (Nov. 11) is NOT a half-staff day, a day of mourning. It's a "day of celebration and honor."

    Monday, November 23, 2015

    The Gate That's Gone

    This property once had gates at its entrance on Highway F, with gateposts of pink Missouri granite. The gateposts had been wired to have lights on top, but I never saw them with lights. Only these two photos of the gate were taken, because within a year of my moving here permanently the gates were dynamited for highway widening. Today I found these printed photos from early summer '02 and wanted to show you and preserve some of the history of this place. The concrete top of one gatepost got dropped in the yard where it still is, sinking into the earth. I took a few bricks of pink granite as souvenirs from the rubble when the dynamiters were gone for the day. They actually did yell "Fire in the hole!," and pictures fell from the walls, and explosions at random every day for two weeks (we were honeymooning at home) made us jumpy.

    Highway F was torn away down to rock, the rusty one-lane bridge destroyed, and the intersection was closed so that after work we either parked at the barrier and walked a quarter mile to the house, teetering on broken rocks, or drove an 8-mile detour to get to the house from the other side.

    The highway department told the landlord it'd take the land by eminent domain if the landlord didn't grant or sell the 1 acre needed to widen the highway, shortening our lane by 20 feet. I think in exchange the landlord asked that the first 100 feet of the lane, from Highway F up to my house, be freshly paved. It sorely needed paving.

    Saturday, November 14, 2015

    "Well, Dang"

    Even on bright sunny days, in November we seriously need day-brighteners -- especially on the first day of adult firearm deer-hunting season when we are NOT heading to the woods for fresh air and communion with nature -- and while on the road in Gasconade County with neighbor Terri in search of a good German meal (we found it at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann) we saw this, and because we don't see pink tractors very often, we said, "Well, dang." That got me thinking what else we say that conveys disbelief:
    • Well, I'll be.
    • Well, slap my a-- and call me Sally.
    • Well, I'll be darned.
    • Well, I'll be dipped in s---.
    • Well, dog my cats.
    • Well, I swan (or "I swannee").
    • Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit.
    • Well, melt me down.
    • Well, knock me down and steal my teeth.
    It's better 'n' a sharp stick in the eye.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015

    How to Buy and Empty a 50-lb. Bag of Birdseed Without Ever Lifting It

    1. Locate a farm and home store or a feedstore selling a 50-lb. bag of birdseed for $16.99 or less.
    2. Tell the checkout clerk you want to buy a 50-lb. bag of birdseed but cannot lift it. (Whether that's true is up to you.) Pay for it.
    3. The clerk summons a fellow employee able to lift the bag and bring it curbside while you get your car.
    4. Have the lifter place the 50-lb. bag not in the car's trunk, but in the back seat. (Previous experience has taught you that if it's placed in the trunk, you cannot for the life of ya lift it out.)
    5. At home, lay down some newspaper or cardboard on the ground alongside of the back car door.
    6. Open the back car door and tug the bag until it's horizontal and its top lies just a few inches outside the doorframe. Have your containers ready.
    7. Pinching the bag just below the top of one corner, cut the corner above your hand with a razor or scissors so the cut is 2 inches wide, forming a spout. A two-inch cut lets the birdfeed flow out at a controllable rate.
    8. Place your first and largest container beneath the "spout." Tug, jiggle, and massage the bag until birdseed pours into the container. Continue until the container is full.
    9. When the container is full, close the bag, set it upright and get your second empty container.
    10. Re-open the bag and repeat with other containers until the bag is empty.
    If any birdseed has been spilled, it probably fell on the newspaper or cardboard. Pick that up and pour the spilled birdfeed into the container. Now there's no waste and no treats for mice.
    Source: Years of experience at trying everything but this.

    Friday, November 6, 2015


    To get a photo of this magnificent cloud that looks so much like the spirit that rose from the remains of this cornfield -- knowing that cirrus clouds are in fact formed of ice crystals -- first I stopped the car and stood in the middle of Highway 109, and then in case I didn't quite get the cloud, I drove to this rise, got out of the car and knelt in the field. Then I drove a ways down and took photos of the cloud from a slope overlooking a farm, and was barked at by a lady's dog, all jowly from fat. The lady came outside, of course, and I explained before she said anything, "That cloud is so beautiful I want to take its picture." "It is beautiful," she said, and she and the dog went back into the house. I wondered if they were the sole occupants of that house, and if they had only each other, and if so, how beautiful and how sad that was at once.

    Reasons Not to Rake This

    While convalescing I sat out in the sun, on a folding seat on the stoop, and took a nice long look at the work I had to do, like, to properly shove the door open and enter and leave the house: oak leaves, twigs, hickory leaves, acorns, hickory nutshells. I enjoy looking at work I can put off until later, when ALL the leaves have finished falling. Why rake twice? Why rush things? Why not enjoy the riches some people don't have -- trees and autumn leaves around their front stoop? Why not imagine each leaf is a dollar bill?

    Thursday, November 5, 2015

    "Cute Old Lady" and Other Missourians

    Thought I'd collect as many as I could in one week when the owners were around to ask for permission. I'll keep my eye out for more.