Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

The frost is on the pumpkin now, and we're preparing for winter.

But only after the tryptophan wears off:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Things Get Better

Sorry for the mordant tone of the last post. I had just had the remnants of a tooth (broken by my nocturnal bruxism, which if I had had diagnosed properly years ago would probably have left me with fewer fillings) extracted. The dentist, who is by far the best dentist I have ever visited (and he's in Wetaskiwin!), and I have visited plenty in My Big Fat Dental Career, used a combination of drilling, and something that felt like a wine corkscrew grinding into my jaw, to remove some roots that were broken and dangling. Is this graphic enough? Anyway that was yesterday, and today is better and my sadness (induced by fear) has all but disappeared under the new bridge that is between my shiny white molars.
Today on the schedule I have to do some paid work (dismissable), then hopefully install this gizmo

in a waterer since according to various “weather specialists” it looks like we’re in for frost soon, and I loathe doing wiring outside when it’s freezing. I was successful in installing the new element,
however, I had no way of checking to see whether or not it would come on as it is Hard Wired(see previous post some time back whining about bad Farm Industrial Design) into a thermostat. Other than standing there holding a bag of frozen peas onto the thermostatic area of the installation, I could think of no other way of inducing the thing to turn on. So I considered that I could spend some time dicking around with all the various connections and my circuit tester, or I could just buy a new controller and wire it in and assume it would work. I chose option 2.

A few weekends ago, a work friend helped me rebuild this wall. It blew out one winter storm (we get vicious northwest winds here sometimes). The wind took the whole wall, which was sheathed, and blew it down into the pasture – it’s a 10 x 30 foot wall. It ripped the plate out from the trusses, out of many 3½ inch nails in top and bottom, and tore the upper plate apart!! I wish I had taken some Before pictures to show you as the roof was sagging pretty drastically before we reinserted this frame. We had to create a pillar to mount on a bottle jack, and jack the roof back into position. After putting up the top plate (two 2x4s nailed together for a span of 30 feet, and nailed to the trusses) we started at the end near the corner, and slowly worked our way across putting the studs back between the bottom and top plates. There were some scary moments while we put in studs and then moved the jack to the next span and the 2x4s had to support the load of that roof. I had visions of shattering ship’s timbers flying across the deck of a man-of-war and splintering our torsos with shards of oak, or in this case fir. Fortunately we were able to figure everything out and get it in there safely. Now I have to find some mending plates to reinforce the bottom sill plate, and nail in some hurricane ties to hold the trusses on so it doesn’t blow out again.
Other updates on the farm. Lest you think my time is all work, here is a recently completed object. I knitted this in a month, while watching both seasons of Carnivale on DVD. I do not currently subscribe to satellite as there is nothing worth watching on television most of the time, and find I am far happier for it. I can follow news online if I feel the need to update myself. And I listen to the radio from time to time, at least once a day. I really prefer to be media free, it restores a kind of pre-industrial calm to my thinking.
I loved knitting that sweater. The yarn was from Araucania, and is a single ply. The colors were gorgeous, like all the colors in a northern spruce forest. I could imagine being in the Rockies as I worked on it.

I’m also working on some presents for various people. Socks are my backup knitting, to be done in odd places (like dentists’ chairs) and in dimly lit areas. It’s meditative and about as interesting to an audience as golf, though at the end of my tournament I get a pair of socks. Frankly, if it came down to golf or knitting on TV, I’d choose knitting.

Thought of the day
You hear a lot of vengeful ideas with regard to prisoners in the penal system. (Can anyone say “penal system” and not laugh?) Here’s an idea. Since what they’re missing while incarcerated is languishing in a dead-end job of drudgery, how about they contribute to society by doing something incredibly dull and monotonous for days on end (like a job) that profits other people (like a job)? I suggest we provide them with cycles that they can pedal for hours and hours, that are connected to generators that can supply electricity to nearby towns. I’ll bet we could get some industrial designers on that to design some escape-proof equipment for them. It would tire them out, and probably break their fightin’ spirit (like a job).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Moon of the Changing Season

This is Kylie, out searching for the foxes that live nearby.

Sometimes I have to shake my head and remember I now own a dog park bigger than Sunnybrook, complete with horses, llamas, deer, badgers, foxes, coyotes, eagles, falcons, and many other native dwellers.

Here is the Brindle Prairie Hippo enjoying a swim.

That's Cricket, who is usually not fond of water.

We've had a terrific fall so far -- last week the temps were in the mid to high 20s. I wonder if they still call it Indian Summer, which according to Wikipedia, is so-called after a frost. We haven't had frost yet, so perhaps Indian Summer is yet to come. Apparently Europe had the phrase "Saint Martin's Summer" to denote the same phenomenon, though there is no consensus on the origin of the term Indian Summer, but it seems to have originated after Europe came to North America.

Speaking of evocative names, here are some of the month names from the Oglala found in Black Elk Speaks:

January - the Moon of Frost in the Tepee
February - the Moon of the Dark Red Calf
March - the Moon of the Snowblind
April - the Moon of the Red Grass Appearing
May - the Moon When the Ponies Shed
June - the Moon of Making Fat
July - the Moon When the Cherries are Ripe
August - the Moon When the Cherries Turn Black
September - the Moon when the Calf Grows Hair or the Moon when the Plums are Scarlet
October - the Moon of the Changing Season
November - the Moon of Falling Leaves
December - the Moon of Popping Trees

How much more poetic than our sad Roman names that don't even get the number order right (that's owing to Julius & Augustus of course, bloody Caesars). October is no longer the eighth month, nor is November the ninth, or December the tenth, etc.

By the way, I recommend reading "Black Elk Speaks". It is a document of an almost unknown history, the people and events it depicts have almost vanished. The language is extraordinarily poetic in a way that makes cultivated poetry seem baroque and artificial.

It is one of the shames of mankind that so many cultures have been extinguished without being understood.