Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Human Carrot

Nature likes to organize. Nature likes symmetry. Nature makes carrots that look like men - complete with arms, feet, plump thighs, and, well, a crotch.

Neither the Dogtor nor I could eat this carrot. It was...too special.

Apparently lots of people play with their food...I'm a fan of the potatosaurus.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flying Toddlers

Frasier, even in utero, was never still. Somersaults, thrown elbows, kicks, relentless hiccups...

Now that she's bipedal, she's always just short of running - all waking hours of the day. Today's trip to the airport was no exception. She climbed chairs, licked the windows, then sped-walked up and down the empty gate sections, pausing to flirt with the college girls glued to their cell phones who tossed her little smiles, then went back to solving the world's problems via text message.

On the plane, Fray was up, down, in the floor space, between us, in my arms, in the Dogtor's arms, eating, singing, chewing, reading, waving to the obese lady whose bottom and right arm ate up critical chair space - or, as per Fray requirements, "wiggle room." (Still, I felt kindness and sympathy for anyone brave enough to sit with us.)

Back in Vermont, I found myself absurdly thankful for our thirteen acres of baby runway. We put Fray down in the grass and let her go and go and go...we weeded the garden - checked on the chickens - fed the horse and goats - swam - (and found two new barn swallows in an old nest - round two for the swallows!) The dogs and cats followed us everywhere...

We are never still, any of us.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Miss Sophonsiba's Finishing School for Wicked Chicks

All hail Miss Sophonsiba's Chicken Shanty! AKA Miss Sophonsiba's Finishing School for Wicked Chicks! AKA the Mayhew-Bergman chicken coop, stocked with 5 chicks. (Sophonsiba is one of the gals in Faulkner's Go Down, Moses - no one wants to marry her.)

We have 2 barred rocks and 3 black silkie bantams.

The two barred rocks are named Jezebel and Sudio (Yes, this is a Phil Collins reference.)

The 3 silkies are Georgina (Wham!), Djuna (Barnes), and Mina (Loy). I am most certain Djuna Barnes would have been vehemently opposed to being a chicken namesake, which makes it more fun, really.

*Disclaimer - apparently they don't "sex" the silkies - so if one of the ladies ends up being a rooster, I may consider naming him Ridgeley, after Andrew, "the other guy in Wham!"

In other news, Betsy Spaniel is fanatical about the chickens. I can't tell if she wants to smell them or have them for dinner.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Loon Watch 2010 is now over. As a volunteer, I was tasked with surveying three bodies of water in Southern Vermont for loons. I found zero.

My count was not helped by the fact that I spent two hours trying to find one of the ponds. Infamous navigational skills at work! (Anthropological diagnosis: I was totally a gatherer in my past life.)

But I did find other cool things. Like a crumbling mill on a washed out section of Howe Pond Road. I crossed a decommissioned bridge (adrenaline high for the risk averse!) and admired the rushing water beneath. I had a close encounter with a red-tailed hawk on a dirt road. I drove up a dirt road that turned into a hiking path and had to spend a few minutes driving the Subaru in reverse. I talked to a Census Worker who had not brushed his hair in a very long time.

I also talked to some very strange men in a general store near Readsboro:

MMB: How do you get to Howe Pond? I'm on Howe Pond Road - I don't get it.
Strange Men: I haven't been up there since college!
MMB: (silence.)
Strange Men: Well, it's kind of grown up back there. You might find a logging trail?
MMB: Okay.
Strange Men: Why you need to go up there anyway?
MMB: I'm looking for loons.
Strange Men: (amused silence. One scratches his back hair, which is curling over his collar and around his neck.)
Strange Men: You gone find some loons up there, just not the type you're looking for.
MMB: Cool.

Loonless in Vermont

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Frasier's favorite tune right now - sung by yours truly - is Itsy Bitsy Spider, complete with hand motions. This song is a panacea - it solves crying jags, distracts her during the changing of a treacherous diaper, etc.

In keeping with that theme, the Dogtor took some lovely early morning web photos this week.

(The Dogtor is always up early. Pre-6 AM many days. If ever I rise with him, the conversation typically goes:

Me: It's beautiful out!
Dogtor: It's always beautiful in the morning.
Me: Don't be self righteous.)

Walt Whitman, in his poem "A Noiseless Patient Spider," speaks of a spider "launching forth filament, filament, filament out of itself/Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them." I love the image of the spider giving of itself, literally, to reach a destination.

In other news, I've always been fascinated by Spiderman's dancing abilities. Major sass.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Otherworldly Cukes

Take a look at these amazing fruits! And yes, cukes are fruits. 90 percent water, and wickedly abundant in our garden.

(...and get your mind out of the gutter.)

I try to use at least one full cuke a night -in green salads, vinegar-based Asian-inspired salads, piled on falafel, yogurt soups, Greek stuff....

I'm looking for cucumber recipes - particularly pickles. I wasn't wild about my garlic refrigerator pickles last year. Suggestions?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How Much Wood?

It was five thirty. Frasier was hungry, and her shoes were on the wrong feet. I took them off, plopped her on my hip, and went out to do the evening chores, with the promise that I'd feed her as soon as we were back in the house. We fed the four dogs (choosing to ignore the half-mouse a cat or dog had vomited in front of the garage door.) We moved to the barn.

In the barn, we inched past the Dogtor's pile of circular saws, nails, chicken wire, and other tools I can't name (the chicken coop is in progress), got a scoop of feed, and opened the goat stall. The goats - usually wild in anticipation of food - did not stand up and prop their hooves on the stall bars. Instead, they stood sheepishly next to the wall.

I gave the horse some grain and joint supplement, then closed up shop and left the barn - only to hear Pippa, the take-no-prisoners Corgi, barking that bark every dog owner fears: HOLY SHIT I'VE GOT SOMETHING GOOD IN HERE AND, GOD WILLING, I MIGHT TRY TO EAT IT.

I turned around to investigate. I found Pip in the goat stall, where she had cornered - and was lunging at - a woodchuck. The woodchuck stood on its hind legs and made, well, angry woodchuck sounds. I tried to shoo Pippa from the stall - no luck. This was a job for a woman with hands, and my hands were wrapped around the squirming toddler on my hip. I knew I had to get Pippa out of the stall, or an altercation might ensue. But what to do with the toddler?

This is where a large yard comes in handy.

Strategy: place toddler in middle of yard. Run to barn. Repeat, because toddler is faster than you thought. Run back to barn. Try and shoo woodchuck out. Fail. Toddler has closed in again, and is nearing the circular saw. Repeat strategy. Close and bolt barn door. Grab toddler and stare through the stall window at the very sad woodchuck trying to look invisible in the stall corner.

Wait for Dogtor to get home.

Drink wine, visit stall with Dogtor, and take funny picture of Oliver the goat saying "WTF?" at the woodchuck.

Lock dogs in house. Run, woodchuck, run.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July Garden Update

Holy garden explosion! We left for a long weekend and came back to rogue dill plants the size of, well, me. And a hundred mini-cucumbers. Thirty plus juvenile squash and zukes. Lettuce past its prime. Broccoli threatening to flower.

The beets are ready. The carrots have been thinned (by the steady hand of the Dogtor). New buttercrunch lettuce has been weeded. The raspberries are making a half-hearted go of it. Leeks and onions are tiny but usable. Spinach has jumped the shark.

Upcoming garden projects: Weed, weed, and weed. Plant a new round of lettuce. Pawn squash off on friends. Give the basil a pep talk. Start putting things up. (Tip - a great way to get the air out of your freezer bags - stick a straw into the bag and suck until you almost pass out.)

Bad cell phone photography = injustice to garden bounty.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Close Encounters with Swallows

Let it be said - I cheer on over-protective mothers. If Frasier was in a mud nest packed with a little dog hair, I'd dive bomb anything that walked underneath. But as much as I admired the swallows' devotion, I never got used to small projectiles whizzing at my head like kamikaze pilots. (Watch for the fly-by at the 11 second mark.)

Thankfully, the little ones have flown the nest (there were six across our property) and I can now walk across the driveway without swearing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cooking for Camp

I've been on a cooking spree in advance of our camping trip on Lake George. I've made:

Last are the enormous bags of washed lettuce plucked from the garden this evening. (If you can spot any ants or beetles, let me know. Oh how many bugs I've ignorantly eaten...)

The wonderful thing about camp cooking is the rustic process - delayed gratification makes things taste better. A drink in your hand, cherubic toddler (pray), an awesome playlist, and 10 good friends don't hurt, either.

Signing off for a few days...