Tuesday, February 25, 2014

hiaku, flowering quince

                                            ~~Jane Flinck

Wind opened the door
and wind spread snow on the floor
beyond, tiny red buds

Sunday, February 23, 2014

and then it snowed

Winter has been long, the wood pile is shrinking and the snow, well it's still getting deeper.    I think that some of the snow on the ground now has been there since before Halloween, there hasn't been a January thaw, and the near normal temps of the past few days don't really qualify as a thaw either. But they will do.    The snow has melted a little, even a few small patches of winter weary grass, and that was often the topic of conversation on my journey today.  The first signs of spring fever are emerging.   My usually well stock pantry is getting to the "make do" stage and it was time for a trip to my favorite grocery, winter isn't over yet.  I loaded  the recycling into the Forrester, inventoried my pantry, wrote a list of what I need and wanted, collected up, parcels than should have been mailed last week, items I needed to return, my stack of coupons and i was off.   Slipsliding across the icy pathway, I finally make it to the relative safety of my beloved "Bertie" and the journey begins.
It is refreshing to not have to clean the snow from my vehicle, "Bertie", and it is very refreshing to hear birds sing, though i am not sure why they are singing, the woods and the fields are still under a deep snow pack.
Under a beautiful blue sky, with clouds are very white and very fluffy.  The melting snow is beautiful, even the dirty patches, the falling icicles are beautiful, even though they are dangerous,  the litter and deer carcasses melting out of the dirty snowbanks...OK, not so beautiful.  Merrily I drive on toward my destination.
My finally errands run, shopping done, recycling all recycled I head toward home and  the beautiful blue sky  and fluffy clouds  behind the silhouettes of bare trees, I feel an incredible lightness of being.considering how much I must haul into the house and put away. I pull into the once  drive, which is no longer covered with ice, and  being dragging in my hoard of necessities.  The sun is beginning to set and the clouds have  a hints of pinks and reds, a splash of orange,as I watch the last bits of color fade into the night sky over a mug of fresh coffee and spice jelly beans.  Yhe rest of my evening will be devoted to unpacking sorting and putting things away.  Weather channel on the radio cautioned that there was more winter weather to come this week, I choose to be in denial about that.  and right now I am too tired to care, but it is a good tired.  And I drift off into a sound slumber.
And so it goes, I awoke to a fresh layer of snow this morning!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

between revence and irrevernce

Nothing like the fragrance of an outhouse on a hot summers day, and nothing like the icy chill of an outhouse on a snowy January morning.  then there were the flies. spiders, snakes, yellow jackets and pranksters who would tip it over when some unsuspecting soul was in it. It is no wonder  that it is an American symbol of the "good old days" that simpler life and time, to those who had never had to use one.  One can find many charming paintings of the ole two holer in tourist  shops near where they are camping, a campground with showers, and no outhouses, nope!,modern porcelain facilities  are the rule.  
The "little brown shack outback" has become a  much romanticised image, some where between reverence and humor.   
I am told that the design of out houses is only limited by the builders imagination.  

I can still remember the outhouse at my Grandparents farm, which stands there still flanked by ornamental evergreens and columbines, it is now a tool shed.   And later  at Scout camp,  how the other kids reacted to using those little wooden buildings, made me glad to be a hick from the sticks .

One of my favorite Halloween decorations is  a small model of an outhouse complete with a half moon on the door, if you open that door you will see the Grim Reaper seated  there reading his copy of the Tombstone Times. 

Dimly recollect that time when the Interstate Highway system was being built, it went through where our barn , but apparently it went through some one's
far more important real estate. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rasputin was my neighbor, he said

History, is as much about the history of families and towns, the everyday, as it is about the exploits of Kings  and statesmen.  There are an awfully lot of family and local stories that have great significance. and an awfully lot of them that are more fiction than fact, and sometimes just embroidered on. In my family there are a few, one that my great, great, great, grandfather came to this country with the Hessian's, and was among the troops defeated by Washington on that long ago Christmas night, the Hessian part is true, the rest who knows.  another is that my great grandfather enlisted in the the Union army when he was 12, he was tall for his age, this part is true, that he served as part of Lincolns personal guard because of his size, probably not.  I have told this one many times before that a foreign priest who claimed to be Rasputin came to this area and founded a Catholic  Church and was a friend of our mostly Methodist family.  I don't really believe the Rasputin part even though the timing was right.  I recently told  this story to some one who remembered that her great grandparents claimed to know the same man, soon I found several other families that had a similar story, one even showed me a very faded cabinet card. photo.  However they couldn't even agree on which man was their great grandfather in that photo.           What follows, though is a whole lot more accurare.      

'Rasputin Was My Neighbor' And Other True Tales Of Time Travel

He was old, but not ancient, the man next to us at the delicatessen. It was 1973. My then girlfriend (now wife) and I had ordered dinner and this old guy, sitting by himself, seemed lonely, so we got talking and he told us how he had grown up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and that when he was a boy, his next-door neighbor was a famous man, a really famous man.
We asked, "Who was it?" And he said, "Have you ever heard of the mad monk, Rasputin?"
Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (1871 - 1916).

hide captionGrigory Yefimovich Rasputin (1871 - 1916).

Wikimedia Commons
I knew of Rasputin. He'd lived, I'd thought, in a Russian palace with the Romanov czar, Nicholas II, and had magically healed the czar's son from a supposedly incurable disease, then gained great sway over the Romanov family, and then, in a ghastly scene, was shot, clubbed and poisoned to death by a group of noblemen just before the start of the Russian Revolution. In my mind, all this happened in a different age. The pictures I'd seen showed him with a 19th century beard, dressed in robes.
How could somebody talking to me in a diner on 7th Avenue have also talked to somebody that ancient? It just didn't seem possible. Yet the old guy said, "Rasputin and my dad were friends. He used to come over for tea."
I thought about it. Rasputin was assassinated in 1916. A 70-year-old man in 1973 would have been 13 when Rasputin was alive. It was not inconceivable that this guy had actually met Rasputin.
Human Wormholes

There are people who live long enough to create a link — a one-generation link — to figures from what feels like a distant past, and their presence among us shrinks history. When "Long Ago" suddenly becomes "So I said to him ...," long ago jumps closer.
There are many examples of people who shrink history this way. The blogger Jason Kottke has been collecting examples. He calls them "human wormholes," because these people help us leap across space/time. Here are my favorites.

1. Lincoln Assassination Eyewitness Goes On TV In 1956

In 1956, on the game show I've Got A Secret, host Garry Moore brought on 96-year-old Samuel Seymour. Here's his secret: He was sitting in Ford's theater the night Lincoln was shot. He was 5 years old and remembered John Wilkes Booth bounding from Lincoln's box onto the stage. Here he is on television, describing what he saw:*****************

2. Oliver Wendell Holmes Shakes Hands With Both Presidents Adams And Kennedy

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes lived long enough (1841-1935) to shake hands with both John Quincy Adams (b. 1767) and a young John F. Kennedy (d. 1963). One man, says Kottke, "spanning 200 years of American history."
Tony Hiss, son of Alger Hiss, says that when his dad clerked for Oliver Wendell Holmes, he remembers Justice Holmes saying that as a kid, his grandmother used to talk of the day at the beginning of the American Revolution when she was 5 years old and stood at her dad's front window on Beacon Hill in Boston and watched "rank after rank of Redcoats marching through town." So that's grandma to grandson to us. Two bounces.

3. President John Tyler Has Two Grandsons Who Are Still Alive!

John Tyler (1790 - 1862), the 10th President of the United States of America, circa 1841.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

President John Tyler, born in 1790, tenth president of the United States, has two grandsons who are reportedly still alive today. One, Harrison Tyler, lives in Virginia and recently gave an interview to New York magazine. He was asked how someone born in 1790 could still have living grandchildren. Said Harrison:
Well, [President Tyler] was a good man! [laughs] Both my grandfather — the president — and my father, were married twice. And they had children by their first wives. And their first wives died, and they married again and had more children. And my father was 75 when I was born, his father was 63 when he was born. John Tyler had 15 children — eight by his first wife, seven by his second wife — so it does get very confusing.
Does he ever tell tourists at President Tyler's home (his, too) that he's a grandson? And do people believe him? Said he:
I don't know, I don't bring it up.

4. Civil War Widows Live (And Collect Pensions) After 2000

Three Civil War widows, Maudie Hopkins, Alberta Martin and Gertrude Janeway, lived into the 21st century. Two of them collected their husbands' pensions until their deaths.
Alberta Martin, for example, married a Confederate veteran when he was 81, she 21. They married in 1927, after which she shared a $50-a-month Confederate pension, guaranteed by the State of Alabama. When her husband died and she'd remarried, the checks stopped coming. Alabama, presumably, had lost track of her, then presumed her (and all other Confederate widows) dead, but with assistance from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Alberta's pension rights were restored in 1996, she was awarded back-pay and she continued to collect her husband's pension until she died in May, 2004, 139 years after the Civil War had ended.
The last known Civil War widow, Alberta Martin, in a nursing home in Enterprise, Ala., on Monday April 7, 2003.
the lask known Civil War widow, Alberta Martin, in a nursing home in Enterprise Alabama, on monday April 7 2004

Jamie Martin/AP

My first real job in New York City, I worked in the city's Municipal Building, and down the hall from my office was a room reserved for Civil War veterans. That room was always dark, the door always locked, nobody visited. The war, at that time, was 100 years past. Then one day a crew of workmen showed up and began removing what was inside: a bunch of regimental flags, photographs, ceremonial cups, badges — this gathering place no longer gathered, so it, and all the things in it, were carted off, I suppose, to a museum. I thought: Now, our Civil War is over. Demographically over. It has stopped touching the living.
But I didn't know about Maudie, Alberta and Gertrude. They weren't over — so through them, the past dangled into the present for another ... wow ... 40 years


Sunday, February 16, 2014


Random Acts of Kindness Day

What is an act of kindness?  A smile, a kind word,  a helping hand with a heavy package, use your imagination, it need not be a big effort.  there is always need for even the smallest kindness.

Random acts of kindness day, there is another one that should be everyday.  if you have ever been the one to received a random act of kindness, then you know how good it made you feel, and how hopefully it made you want to pass that feeling on.  
What comes around go around, and acts of kindness seem to be no different.
This is the official  day, but many groups have set aside their own day/days  of kindness, some are affiliated with fundraisers. None of the articles I read could credit Random Acts of Kindness to any specific organiser. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

not very silent Saturday with Kilauea

By in
| Earth on Feb 04, 2012

Amazing photos from Kilauea Volcano

In December 2011, lava flows from Kilauea Volcano made a long journey from to the sea. See these great images from volcano researcher Stephen O’Meara.

In early 2012, Stephen O’Meara of Volcano Watch International sent these images of lava flow on December 24, 2011 from Kilauea Volcano, the youngest and southeastern most volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

He wrote:
In mid-December 2011, lava flows from Kilauea Volcano made a long journey from an inland cone to the sea. The surface flows advanced near the extreme eastern edge of the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park boundary, requiring a roughly seven-mile hike across hardened lava to reach the flows. These images show activity along the western edge of that long and broad flow on X-Mas Eve Day.
I thought EarthSky readers might be interested in these sample photos. The wide flow field was very active along the western edge, with some small lava falls and many surface breakouts. The lava falls were on the order of six to eight feet (vertical). There were several ocean entries, with sluggish transitional and Aa lava, with cascading or rolling fragments.
Above right: A molten lava flow plunges about eight feet into a deep depression (originally about 15 feet deep) and ponds. You can see the older lava rock over which the lava flows. As the lava falls onto the surface below, the lava continues to flow (backward) into a deep cavity, called a lava tube, created many years earlier. In time, the lava will completely fill this tube, as well as the depression. As the lava descends, sections of it stretches (like mozzarella cheese) into thin strands of glass called Pele’s Hair.

Above: A lobe of molten lava (on the right) greets another lobe of molten lava (on the left) whose surface has already begun to cool. The top of a lava flow cools instantly into a silvery grey crust. The lava within stays red hot and glowing. Sunlight shining through the glassy surface creates the shiny iridescence. Different colors reflect the different densities in the “glass.”

Above: When an advancing lava flows slows and cools, its surface starts immediately to crust over. But if the pressure feeding the flow is great enough, lava can break through the cooling crust and create stunning spectacles such as this lava cascade.

Above: Dual lava flows breaking through cooling lava crust over a natural depression in the landscape. Note how the silver skin of the crust insulates the molten lava inside. Such basalt flows are usually 50 percent silica glass and have temperatures of 900-1200? C / 1650 – 2190? F.

Above: A lava cataract ~25 feet across and ~10- to 15-feet tall. As the lava streams forward its banks cool and thicken forming a natural semi-sold levee. The hot molten center of the river keeps flowing. The top of the flow is pliable, like plastic wrap. As it cools it becomes cumbrous and is pulled, squeezed, rippled, and tugged by the faster moving, hotter lava underneath.

At left: Lava flowing over a cliff starts to “back up” and cause ripple patterns – like brownie batter in a tilted pan. Depending on the temperature, composition, and speed, the lava’s supple surface can be ropey, wrinkled, or crumpled, forming beautiful patterns when hardened.
Volcano Researcher Stephen O’Meara has been scientifically studying active volcanoes for 30 years. In 1993, Stephen and Donna O’Meara founded Volcano Watch International with the goal of better understanding how Earth’s active volcanoes work and helping to save lives. All images in this post copyright Steve & Donna O’Meara /Volcano Watch International. Used with permission.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines musings

Ahhhh, sweet  St Valentine's Day!

That wonderful greeting card holiday, when we show our love for that special someone. But I ask you, shouldn't we show love for those we love every day???  Excuse me for mentioning that because Valentines  cards are second only to Christmas cards in sales.  Round and about 1800 it was the custom to send a small handmade  booklet of poems to those dear to you, a lovely custom.  In the 1870s the first  printed cards were produced, this was credited to one Esther Howland's influence.

The whole thing probably began with Lupercaia , the festival that honored Romulus and Remus, the twins, suckled by wolves, who later founded the city of Rome.  The Romans set aside February to celebrate this, along with the coming spring and renewed fertility of the land.  They had a wonderful custom, you see, young maids would place their names in a large jar and young men would draw a name.   The couple was partnered for the rest of Lupercalia, some even stayed together.  In the year 500 Pope Gelasius outlawed this custom because of it's immoral and pagan  origins.   He replaced the girls names with the names of saints, in hopes that it would make those rambuctuious Roman men more saintly.  Now remember most of this is legend.  He also conferred the title of "the patron saint of lovers" on St Valentine, who also according to legend was imprisoned by Claudius II  for preforming marriage ceremonies, Claudius felt these young men should be in his army, and not in the arms of a woman.  Valentine , according to the legend, had a tryst with the jailer's daughter, and when it came time for his execution, he presented her with a love note...signed, yes you guessed it, "From your Valentine."

Needless to say the church could not maintain their customs and Valentines Day  faded, but never totally disappeared, in  the Middle Ages, young men again began drawing the names of maidens from large jars, only this time they pinned the slips of paper to their respective sleeves.  As in wearing you {sweet}heart on you sleeve?


Then of course there are those out there who have no "sweetheart", and that is sad. Everyone needs love. 


It should come as no surprise that along with the jewelry, chocolate, teddy bears and flowers; love spells are also purchased for Valentines Day.  Love spells , potions  etc have a very long history.  I would guess that the search for love has had only a slightly longer history.  Magic related to finding love has become a staple of honest  wise folk and those out of make a buck as well.   My own feeling is that love is it's own form of magic. 
Love spells and love spells gone horribly wrong are the stuff of legend and popular fiction.   These spells are generally crafted to cause the someone to fall in love with the person casting the spell.  Literally an act of disregarding the free will of another person.  Most often these spells are cast during the waxing moon.
There are many charms amulets, potions and spells that are meant to attract love in general, not to compel it from one person.  And interesting to me is that these  self improvement spells are best cast at the full of the moon.  
Even on a holiday with matchmaking origins, I am hesitant to hand out advice on finding love.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February heart of the icy cold moon

A full moon so close to St. Valentines Day should have a more romantic name than the Snow moon, but the snow is piled high, or the Wolf moon, because the hungry wolves prowled near the village and their howls could be heard at night, that was not all that long ago, when the then food stored up for winter began to run out and hungry people called it the Bone Moon, perhaps as they made a broth from the bones of the last game, or the Bony Moon or the Hunger Moon as they looked at one another. 

The straightening sun and lengthening days turned the snow packed on the paths to ice and or perhaps because of the frequent of ice storms at this time of year, it was also called the Ice Moon, or Storm Moon.

Though we are still in the realm of the Treacherous Moon, Winter Moon, or the Staying home Moon, the influence of the Quickening Moon, The First Buds Moon, the Returning Sun Moon.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

snow snakes

"Toooo Damned much winter!" she muttered, as she swept the snow from her car for the second time in as many hours. "Enough already, you can stop anytime, it's been snowing since bloody Halloween."

Then I remembered that yelling at the snow would do no good.  And I remembered that the spinster lady down the street from me when i was a kid used to be out all hours sweeping the side walks, all the time singing her heart out, the words were mainly profanity, but they were melodious.  And I thought, perhaps I should set my curiously large vocabulary of American and foreign cuss words to music.  However I decided to express myself in another way

"They say you can only spot a snow snake when it sticks out it's red tongue, and then it is too late." he continued, "the old man gave us $5 for each one we brought home."  the geezer, shifted  the wad of tobacco he was talking around, "Yep  you take a flashlight and go out looking for them at night, too."
I watched his audience of youthful campers eyes widen.  " But be careful they got a nasty bite,"  he cautioned  "you grab "em by the tail and they roll up into a circle.  Then if you let go of 'em they roll away across the snow."   What a story, I thought gotta write that down someday.  Might as well be today.

Then I thought, what if this is not the rambling of  an old storyteller, but a real legend????

A Snowsnake competition to see who can throw a snowsnake (a six-foot long specially prepared wooden stick) the furthest… at speeds that can reach over 100 miles an hour along a quarter-mile snow track, will be held on Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27 in Salamanca, NY.
Snowsnake is an ancient Hodinöhsö:ni׳ (Iroquois) game that is played in the winter months. Traditionally, it was a men’s game that was used to sharpen one’s hunting skills. Some say that it was once also used to send messages between communities. The game is highly competitive. Today, Native teams travel between territories to compete with each other.
The event is free to the public and begins each day at 11:00 am at the Erie Rail Yard on North Main Street across from the Salamanca Rail Museum and runs until dusk. For more information about this competition, contact the Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce at 716-945-2034 or visit www.SalamancaChamber.org (external link).

Sunday, February 2, 2014


~~Old Moss Woman

We have reached the midpoint of winter!!!!
And  still mostly unseen to us, Gaia stirs in her slumbers. Life is awakening under its  blanket of snow.  Candlemas, celebrated by lighting candles to drive away evil, and to make the lengthening of days, later in Cristian time to commemorate the purification of  Mary, 40 days after the birth of Jesus.  Yule Greenery, that had not taken down by Twelfth Night,  was left  in place until Candlemass and then removed from the house.
Groundhog Day, or in Germany its Badger Day,  Pennsylvania had a great many German settlers, but no  badgers, and that pretty much explains why there is a weather forecasting groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil.    So what is Phil really saying, other than  a variety of expletives about be awakened against his will?
 OK. Now pay attention. This is how it works: if the groundhog sees his shadow, it means that there are still six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, it means that spring is only six weeks away.  ~~Donna Henes

Imbolic (pronounced 'im'olk') often translated a "in the belly"  and sometime written as Oimelc which translates to "ewes milk", celebrates the return, or strengthening of  the suns light.
Acknowledging, that earth was awakening, and soon new life would be born.  Imbolic is the holy day of Bride, Brid, or Brigit, the goddess of fire, healing and fertility.   Layers of tradition and meaning,  each marking the passage of time.

Silent Sunday with animals