Thursday, April 22, 2010
If you approach the River for the first time, fresh from “civilization”, it seems quiet, peaceful and empty. If you are still and observant, you find the truth is that the river is teaming with life, struggle, beauty, birth, death and transformation. It’s a microcosm of the universe and you can lose yourself in its intricacies.
The River itself is a living thing. It has its moods which range from dark and ugly to shining and beautiful. Somewhere in between is awesome, raging, and breathtaking. It can be all of these in one twenty-four hour period.
Here in Central Texas even a small river has some fascinating secrets; unique episodes of nature waiting to be discovered. Once, while walking along the river bank, I smelled an unusual musty odor. I followed my nose to a clump of weeds and gently parted them with my hand. There was the opening to a small den, not large enough to be called a cave, but deep enough to hide a mother bobcat and her kittens. Mom was gone to lunch, fortunately, and I resisted the impulse to scratch those kittens behind the ears.
I found a gator floating, looking like the log he was pretending to be.
Trees with branches bending down to kiss the water.
Fish lurking under the shelf of rock that projects from the bank.
Turtles that lined up on a fallen tree and splashed into the water one at a time as I approached.
Birds watching from the overhead branches.
Snakes skimming the surface.
Racoons feeling of the mud.
Deer bending low to drink.
Ducks flying low.
Turkey roosting nearby.
Owls nesting in the rocks.
But the River never gives up all its secrets. No matter how long you stay there, how many times you visit, the ever-changing world of the River has ever-lasting mysteries.
I once lived high on a hill overlooking a river. People would travel to the slough beneath my house in their boats. It would take them about an hour to get there from the closest boat ramp. They thought they were out in the wild, away from everyone. I could hear every word they said while sitting on my porch. A river is also a sound tunnel.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
When asked about the three most important words in our language, most people answer "I love you". And those words ARE important, often not said enough, especially face to face, looking someone in the eye.
Words I like even more are "Let me help". It seems to me these words are an expression of the first three words, in ACTION. Offering to help someone, actually lending a helping hand in whatever way, is so rewarding, on both sides.
I can add another set of three, that I try to say often, "I thank you". A good phrase to begin the day, directed at whatever Higher Power you choose. A good phrase to share with others throughout the day, too. If you stay aware of it, you'll find many more times to say it during the course of a day.
It seems to me that three words like these, whichever phrase you choose, can take the strangeness out of strangers, form a connection between human beings, and fill the heart with goodness, or grace, whatever you choose to call it.
You know it when you feel it.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Crunchy or gooey?
Some of us like the gooey center.
Some of us like the crunchy edge.
None of us are bashful about taking what we want, lol.
Which do you prefer? And Why?
And what do you think it says about your personality?
Can a crunchy person and a gooey person live together happily?
(I hope your tongue is in your cheek, lol. )
And here is an interesting link in Cooking Light for some healthy eating information:
Thursday, April 08, 2010
This blog title is the name of a great book by Kate Wilhelm.
This blog is inspired by JustJo's blog today and there's a link to it below.
My hubby and I raised bob-white quail. Lots of them. I incubated 1,000 quail eggs at a time. That’s a lot of little heads popping out within a few hours of each other! And quail chicks are so tiny. No bigger than your thumb.
They have to be kept in brooders at 99 degree temps for the first week. Temperature is then decreased a little each week, until they are about 6 weeks old.
We then put them into specially built pens that were 100 ft. long, six wide and six feet high with a covered, raised shed at one end where the feed and water was. (Built by us and our sons - ever dug a posthole? How many do you think there are in 6, 6' x 100' pens?) Sides were covered with tin/metal sheeting, buried into the ground about 6" so the “varmints” wouldn’t dig in and eat them! The top was covered too, so the hawks and owls wouldn’t have a buffet there, lol.
We had 6 of these pens. They held about 500 quail each. We had pvc tubing overhead with sprinklers attached, so we could “rain” on the quail several times a week. This helps condition them for release into the wild, which is why we raised them. Ranchers bought them to re-stock their acreage with quail that would be sturdy enough to survive and reproduce. When you see a bird turn his head around and “preen” his feathers, he is stimulating a gland on the top of his tail that releases an oil which “weather-proofs” his feathers. He then spreads this oil the length of each feather by running them through his beak once it’s oiled.
We let the quail dictate how many would live in a pen. Each time you add birds to a flock, there’s a bit of “discussion” among them, until it’s determined who’s at the top of the pecking order, and who’s everywhere else. (Yes, that’s where the term “pecking order” came from. It’s get’s a bit bloody sometimes, because the DO peck each other to determine the winners.)
Once you add that one bird that is one bird too many - they feel overcrowded - they start pecking each other a lot and do NOT stop until they’ve killed off enough to make what feels to them like enough room.
That’s Mother Nature when she’s not in a Disney movie.
Quail “circle their wagons” when they sleep. Maybe that’s where the settlers learned it, lol. They form a circle on the ground, everyone facing outward so they can see what’s coming, and they nestle down, on the ground, to sleep. In really cold winters, we found little circles of quail frozen in their sleep in the pastures.
Anyway, with 500 quail in a pen, there were many little circles. Actually, most of them were pretty large circles. At first we cut metal barrels in half, longways, and put them on the ground so the quail could get under them in really bad weather. Big mistake!
They would ALL try to squeeze under the barrels until they smothered the ones on the bottom. We had to cut away most of the barrel sides, leaving just enough to hold it up off the ground. That way, the birds couldn’t crowd under it against the sides.
Ok, I’m getting to the real purpose of this blog. JustJo wrote a blog today about the birds singing again. Please read it.
Well, when we were raising all these quail, those were days of backbreaking labor from dawn to dark. That’s the way most farmer/rancher types live most days. It sometimes got discouraging.
But no matter how down or how tired I felt, I would wake each morning, listening to every single bird, thousands of them, singing their hearts out!!
They were entirely at the mercy of humans for their very lives. When released into the wild, they would be in even more danger. Yet those birds never failed to sing. And sing, and sing.
The most beautiful memory I have of them, is waking one hot summer night, hearing all the birds singing at midnight! What? What was happening? I looked out the window and saw the moon was full. So full it simulated dawn.
And at just that little hint of a new day, a new beginning, a new chance at life, every bird was singing it’s little heart out in thankfulness! How can we do less?
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
My body has some restrictions which keep me from digging holes, bending a lot, and playing in the dirt! Fortunately, I have a nice deck and a large yard.
I place large pots here and there, around the base of some trees where there is partial shade, on the edge of the deck. In Texas the problem is not getting enough warmth and sun, it's finding some shade!
Yesterday I planted several varieties of tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, various herbs, and even included some catnip plants for Rosie, my cat, lol. Catnip is supposed to have insect repellant properties like Marigolds, which I also plant in the pots with my tomatoes and anything else that seems to attract bugs.
It works. Last year I grew some great tomatoes and peppers and did not have an insect problem, so I had completely organic veggies.
I want to add some zuchinni and cucumbers but don't have time right now. I'm hoping I can grow the cucumbers on a trellis. Will that work? I'll let you know later, lol.
I like to mix hot and sweet peppers, cut up really small, and pickled in a jar. I add garlic and onion sometimes, bring some vinegar to a boil, put the diced peppers in the jar and pour the hot vinegar over it. The lid seals as it cools and I have hot pepper sauce all year.
Anyone have any better recipes for pickled peppers?
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