Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
What must this yucca think of Michigan? Yuccas love dry, hot climates. No wonder this one's leaves look a little combative jutting through the snow, but the tall stalk of blossoms looks happy in the July heat last summer, below. Well, I guess it's me who's feeling that it doesn't belong here. Do plants feel?
I don't really understand planting yuccas in the Midwest (what does "Midwest" mean anyway? We are not west at all - see the red area in the map - though we once were, compared to the "East," that is, New England there along the Atlantic and thumbing up into New Brunswick and Quebec.) Even though this is a hardy species, the plant seems like a desert misfit here in the north. (Amazing how it stays evergreen through the winter. Tough plant.)
Please check out Charlie's February alphabet challenge here and on my sidebar. I've already posted a photo a day for 3 months at East Lansing Daily Photo back in 2006, so I won't be participating. But if you want to try, it's fun to do at least once! And February is a short month, so here's your chance.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
When we moved to the farm five years ago there was a flag in the basement, which we were not inclined to hang. We didn't have anything against displaying the American flag in the holder on the front porch. We just weren't flag wavers.
Tonight after watching the inauguration, we decided it's time. For the first time in a long time the American flag feels like a symbol of unity, not division. So we dug out the flag with its little eagle at the end of the pole, and I trudged out in knee-deep snow at 8pm and mounted it in the bracket, near the snow-covered spirea bush. We turned on the porch light, since you're supposed to have a light on it if you leave it out at night.
But there was already a light on it, a 'star.' You can see the planet Venus in the western sky behind the flag, the planet named for the goddess of beauty and love.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I am a visual person. So much so that I think it trumps every other sense a lot of the time, making me vulnerable to the beauties of cinematography, paintings, a sunrise, an ornamental chicken, and photographs.
The advertising industry knows many of us are in this same boat. Gorgeous images of beautiful people sell products. The Marlboro Man - simultaneously macho on his horse and romantic in the great wild West - sold lots of cigarettes, including to himself: Wayne McLaren, leading to his death from lung cancer at age 51.
In politics, being handsome and charming sure doesn't hurt. In the famous debate between Nixon and Kennedy, Nixon's chances to win might have slid into thin air, like the sweat off his ski-jump nose - partly because of that visual.
We'll never know how much of the Kennedys' Camelot was based in visual appeal, but it has to be a lot. How do you not stare at Jackie and Jack's faces in the photobooth image, above, and then want them to be your mom and dad, or leaders (king and queen)? Anyone with such genuine gorgeous smiles has to want what's best for me, right?
When I found Vanity Fair's slideshow of their Presidential portraits over the years (all the photos here are from that gallery), I felt the power of the visual image. Even this cover of Rice and Bush, above, conjured sympathy and even some affection for a man I have found little of either for these long eight years. It's a brilliant stroke, actually, that we will always have Liebovitz' portrait of Bush for the Africa issue, since his contribution to raising funds and awareness for the AIDS epidemic in Africa is a true legacy. How many lives have been, and will be saved and improved because of him? That is a strange question, and my insides do somersaults around it and the conflicting answers. But I can't deny this, and if I were one of the saved ones, I might gently hand him my shoes, gratefully.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Sometimes driving to work on two-lane Meridian Road I'm glad no cars are around me because I am mesmerized by Nature. -15 F (-26 C) temps put hoar frost on every twig this morning. With the rising sun pinking up the frosting and clouds, I thanked my lucky cars - I mean stars - to be living in a winter wonderland.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I drove to the store for birdseed - black oiler sunflower seeds to attract cardinals, and wild bird seed for whatever other birds might be around. I brushed eight inches of snow off the bench in the middle of the meadow and scattered birdseed on and around it.
I set up Don's little deer blind tent near the bench (the red camouflage thing you can't see, above), mounted the camera on the tripod inside, opened the zipper window enough for the camera lens to stick out, focused it on the small tree behind the bench, and waited. I was going to get some stellar close-ups with my new zoom lens of cardinals, or something. I sat on a chair inside, layered in warm clothes and a fleece blanket wrapped around my legs. Oh, and I brought a banana, Oreo cookies and Gatorade. As I say, I waited for the sweet birdies that were sure to light on the pile of seeds for a mid-winter treat. Free food on display!
Below is the view I could see out of the tiny opening, of the poplars behind the pond. Occasionally clumps of snow fell from the trees, and I jumped (erm, I mean I would have jumped if I'd been moving) thinking a bird had knocked off the snow. But it was only the sun trying to warm things up a bit that made the snow shift off branches. It was around 17 F (-8 C).
If I had the other three flaps of the tent open (I didn't since I wanted to keep the wind out), I'd see this view to the left - the 15-foot sumac and Don's barn. The as-yet-unpainted corner door in the lower left hiding behind the sumac is the door to the chicken coop. Strange how the snow had slid off the black roof in three patches:
. . . this view to my right, of the deer's piney bedroom:
. . . and this view of the neighbor's black walnuts out the back:
In an hour and a half of sitting there, trying not to move or make a sound, I saw birds but only at a distance. They didn't even discover the birdseed. Well, it was a new spot for it.
I processed the image above at picnik.com with the lomo filter.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
So we each ooohed and aaahed while we served up our 1/4 of the pizza, dolloped on the sour cream, guac and salsa, and sat down. I dug in and after 2/3 of my piece I was so stuffed I had to push my plate away and took the rest to work for lunch the next day. The boys all felt just right after one piece.
Margaritas were the perfect light accompaniment.
I ran a cut lime around the lip of my glass and dipped it in coarse salt for the photo, but we all prefer them without salt since it makes the drink too rich. Besides, salt ain't so good for you. Not that we were terribly worried about that.
Here's the guacamole recipe I use if you're interested, adapted slightly from one at Cooks Illustrated. (I can't link the actual recipe because you need a subscription, sorry.) I used four avacados for four people (yes, we are pigs).
Friday, January 09, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
I follow you, like you are a woodsy deer, and I am your tail.
There is no movement I do not feel and see, for I and my eyes are fixed on you,
the way these shiny black stones are fixed in the path’s snow.
With each leap over a log, each delicate side-step around a foot-sized hole I can’t see, with each hand stroke of a low branch held until I am clear,
I am one with your movement - protected, because you are ahead of me.
The scratches that scar your face, don’t scar mine.
As Leonard Cohen’s hunchback says, you say:
Your pain is the shadow of my wound.
Who is becoming my tail?
And what follower is bearing the shadow of my wound?
We are all. We are one.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
When I need to remember that circumstances are not what give, or take away, peace.