Mar 30, 2010

sugaring time

there was a time when i didn't know that maple-flavored syrup wasn't really maple syrup, and didn't care.
i'll bet there are lots of people who still don't know! once my cousin cathy came to visit me and asked me "where's the maple sugar industry?"
i said more or less "say what?"
she wondered where in this rural and forested state were the factories big enough to make all that maple syrup sold worldwide -- she meant products like aunt jemima's.
she wondered was i was putting her on when i told her that for a few weeks in spring, sap gushed from holes drilled in trees, and was gathered in buckets, poured into vats often pulled on sledges by horses, and boiled down 40 to 1 to make syrup.
pretty unbelievable!
nowadays many big syrup makers use tubing through the hilly woods from tree to tree to a collection tank, but some still use horses to get up in the snowy hills. (the trees won't grow in nice rows on flat land like apple trees). many people tap just a few trees around their place and gather the sap by snowshoe. something to do when the weather is warming, but too cold and muddy for anything else outside.
once you have a tank of sap, you need an outdoor shed for the 40 to 1 boiling, unless you are tired of your kitchen wallpaper.
and that's why the stuff is wicked expensive, but tastes like nothing else!
here are some photos of local sugaring so far this spring!

Mar 27, 2010

the show must go on but all things must end

     for the past 3 years at this time of year i'd be preparing for the opening of a new season of TSMGO!  practicing my unicyle riding, writing and re-writing a skit, making a set and figuring out costumes...but not this year. it feels like such a loss!
     i remember the first show ever. we were sooo nervous, we could not believe it! we hid in the dressing room (a hole beside the makeshift stage), shaking with stagefright, reminding each other it wasn't real!. the first show took place on a raised platform in the parking lot of a car dealership. for months we had been rehearsing weekly, a raucous affair attended by everyone in the show, watching and helping with each other's acts, as well as antics like rezzing herds of buffalo with the starax wand or turning into blobs of jello and anything else we could come up with! those rehearsals were so much fun!
     after the first show we played music and the audience and cast danced and were silly in the parking lot for an hour! i was dancing with my friend gigi who had borrowed her husband's avatar for the evening. someone asked me if 'he' was my boyfriend and we laughed and laughed!
     well time to move on i suppose. now there are so many entertainment choices in second life, nothing like our variety show, but the energy and commitment is no longer there. last year everyone just worked on their act alone, showed up and did it, or so it seemed to me. the audience loved it, and we did too, but it is a lot of work!
     i'm searching for a good picture from the first season. if i find one i'll post it here. we were more into doing than documenting way back then! send me one if you have one!

Mar 23, 2010

song sparrow

the song sparrows are back!
where do they go?
i love their little songs,
variable yet the same.
     i always recognize their voice.
     once when my sister lived in virginia
     i spent days there in the hot flat light
    listening to the song.
over and over and over
he sang the first 4 notes of beethoven's fifth,
and then a warble -
"da da de-daaa, burblewarblewarble"

     today the cardinal is competing for loudest bird.
     i wonder if the song sparrows
     stay with the cardinals?
     and don't really go away,
but like my neighbors up and down the street,
spend winter hunkered under shelter
until they have to burst out
and feel the warming sun?

Mar 21, 2010

xmas wreath

did something fly by my head? god i hope it isn't a bat.
from the corner of my eye i saw it, maybe a large moth.
two house finches eventually do get my attention
they're all agitated hopping and chirping in the white spruce behind me.
i look around for cats
i go back to unwinding the wire holding the xmas wreath to the front door.
finally! a week of warmth has melted the ton of snow that slid from the roof and kept the front steps buried all winter.
i can get to the front door and the evergreen wreath.
but here, what's this?
bits of straw and a strip of paper, not much, but now i understand.
mr and mrs finch have chosen this wreath for their first nest of the year.
i got it just in time! looks like work had barely begun.
what a close call!  we could not have used our front door for months
and worse, would have to leave the wreath.
you see it's fine to leave your xmas lights up year round,
and even to light them every night!
but the wreath? now that's just laziness and tacky besides.

Mar 19, 2010

red-wings arrived March 15

old man winter turned in early this year.
he'll be up a few times to take a piss.

march and april famed for howling blizzards, hard frosts, flood and ice storm
still the burstling flocks of male red-winged blackbirds arrive
daredevils of weather and starvation in their land rush.

faint heart ne'er won small plump dull colored warm hearted egg sitter
she's still in florida but she'll require a nice view
safe from foxes snakes jays and high water.

perching on his claimed plot he proclaims his bravery, his good looks, his daring
and gathered with companions in tree tops,
blasts us awake with the news that Spring will come soon.

Mar 9, 2010

a gorgeous day

    oh gorgeous March day!
the roads, deep in mud and deeper potholes,
endangering small cars and good shoes,
and all lined with mounds of dirty snow,
    we stand in boots in mud,
admiring the mangy white hills, brown patched, trees bare and bleak
no leaf nor blossom to be found,
and only still the winter birds call and chirp.
    the sun pours down on us like maple syrup
changing all to glowing gold,
and even passing strangers stop to say
"what a gorgeous day today!"

Mar 7, 2010

fly the flag proudly!

it is one nation, worldwide!  the nation of OPEN!  even our public library flies the nation of open flag, altho the town hall sticks with the stars and stripes.

Mar 6, 2010

the Sakyong's what about me?

it is not new, this video by the Sakyong Mipham, but i still go back to watch it again and again. i had not put it on my blog before because there is too much to say about the Sakyong! so i will just put this here and say nothing, but go to this link if you are curious about him.

WHAT ABOUT ME?   click the 4 arrow thing to enlarge

Mar 5, 2010

how does instant runoff work anyway?

three of us wanted to watch a movie together at my house.
i had 4 movies, one of which i had seen already but was willing to see again.
call it movie A.

so we decided to do an instant run-off.
each took paper and pen and listed the movies by preference.
number one was the one we most wanted to see, and number 4 that we least wanted to see.
it ended up like this:

1. A, B, C

2. A, D, D

3. B, B, C

4. A, C, D

we couldn't figure out what to do next, with no clear winner!
we added together the rankings of each movie, for example A had 1 + 2 + 4 = 7.
this gave us a tie between A and B and between C and D.
once again we were stumped.

i had put movie A last, since i'd already seen it, but i said i'd watch it again, so we did.
the movie was UP. it was just as much fun the second time around!
but we're still wondering how we could have made that work!

Mar 3, 2010

drama with winches and pulleys

every wednesday liz and i, like puppies, run to the window when we hear the garbage truck coming. it makes me laugh to think how entertaining we find this.
first the humped truck backs to the dumpster.
then a person, big as a bear in layers of coats and hats and gloves and boots
-- probably skinny as a rail when he strips down in the spring! --
rolls out from the cab to the muddy/icy/snowy ground.
(depending on which of our 3 seasons it is)
he trundles to the back of the truck.
he surveys the situation, returns to the cab.
the truck pulls out and backs up in a subtly different position.
*aside* - these are not called dumpsters in england. i think kumi told me what they are but i forgot already.
the inspection and repositioning goes on for a bit.
eventually things line up.
he detaches a heavy metal cable from the back of the truck. it has a wonderful huge orange hook on the end!
he drags the cable around to the far end of the dumpster,
today, fighting his way through one of last week's storm-downed trees lying against the dumpster's back-end.
there, the hook is hooked to the middle of the far end.
liz and i watching from the window smile and nod with satisfaction.
the bundled person tramps back to the cab, hoists up, and pulls the door shut.
then slowly, slowly, slowly, with a whiney winching sort of noise, the cable pulls the back of the dumpster into the air until the 6 door flaps open feebly and everything, mostly, tumbles and thumps into the truck's hump.
there. it's done.
the denoument ? -- we never stay for the last act.
unless there's a possibility of the truck getting stuck in the mud or something breaking.

Mar 1, 2010

the complete kitchen, and it dances!

Frofidor Niekerk often has a new avatar to present at Show & Tell. usually something so terrifying and dangerous looking, i mostly hide under the bleachers.  he often wins the biggest portion of the pot, as his creations are ingenious and imaginative, and can dance, even if they don't always come in pink. (the most frequent question at Show & Tell is "does it come in pink?") 
on sunday, he presented an avatar i could use!  i wanted one the minute i saw it....and not only that, he gave them away to everyone pots, a kitchen robot!  and here i am dancing up a storm as ms pots.

see the waffle iron arm and cheese grater calf?