Friday, October 31, 2008

Dead Tree

A dead tree is not dead. There is life in it and on it and all through it. Thousands upon thousands of insects may dwell in a single downed tree. Many kinds of fungi may inhabit it. This mushroom is only the external evidence of a fungus that is shot through the pores and crevasses of this fallen tree. The mushroom is the 'fruiting body' of this life form. It is to the entire fungus what the tiny crab apple is to the entire crab apple tree. The fungus lives hidden entirely within the dead wood for years, decomposing it, softening its fibers so that eventually it returns to the ground to become part of the soil. Typically it appears as strands or sheets of white or tan within the trunk and under the bark. At certain times of the year, when the moisture conditions are just right, a mushroom might appear on the surface and mature to form spores within the fins on the bottom surface of the cap. From those fins, the spores are dispersed to float about on the wind to form new fungi on some other fallen or dead tree.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Toward the Lake

The views from the back deck toward the lake are stunning in the fall!

Autumn Roadside Triptych


I voted yesterday. Since I will be out of my home state painting at the new house next week, I was grateful for the ease with which one can do that these days.

But the last couple days I have been thinking too much about this election season and though I try to keep this little blog fun and light and about nature and related things, I just want to get a couple things said.

First, it seems kinda odd to me that in a country where religious tolerance and religious freedom are not only founding principles of our country but the reason people continue to take refuge here today, one side has used accusations about religion as an attempt to insult and discredit. Religion has come up on both sides. On one side, a specific candidate has been held accountable for specific extreme ideas that she holds due to her religion that are in direct conflict with an overwhelming majority of science. It has been suggested that she is not a viable candidate because she believes in those unscientific things and would make policy based on those unscientific beliefs. That seems a fair thing to hold a candidate accountable for. On the other side, a candidate has simultaneously been lambasted for radical things the pastor of his church says, as though any of us really challenges our pastors or is responsible for things they say, and also been accused of being of another religion entirely. Well, I would like to point out that if you are going to claim one thing, you should shut up about the other.
And then I would point out that due to the fact that this country was founded by people seeking relief from religious prosecution, you should stop making it sound like being from that religion is a bad thing. Most of you who are trying to insult that candidate by claiming he is an adherent of that religion are using it as an insult, and it should not be used that way. Making such implications feeds religious intolerance and feeds discrimination and we are a better country than that.

Second, it seems kind of odd to me that when there was a certain party in control for, oh, 12 years, give or take, and then they lost their absolute power just a few months ago when the majority shifted in congress, that certain party would choose to blame all that they claim is wrong with the country on those in power before 12 years ago or those in power after the recent shift in power. To do so would seem to be admitting that nothing happened in the last 12 years. It would seem to be admitting that they, while in power, were ineffective in fixing anything and that they left things so unstable that it could all be wrecked in a few months. Why would that make us want to put them back in power for the next four years? As a parent, it seems like shirking responsibility is a bad thing.

Third, one campaign has been about negativity and fear and tearing down others, directly and by slimy implication and insinuation and plays on words with exaggerations and twists and misrepresentations and misinterpretations. Those things count as lies in my rule book. The other campaign has been about what is good and what we need more of and it has been about ideas and proposals and problem solving and hope and promise and making a better future for an already great country. It was never a hard choice for me. I voted for positive instead of negative.

Whatever side you are on, if you have not voted yet, please do so. Too many people gave time and lives to keep our freedoms intact and to ensure that everyone, property owners or not, male and female, young or old, black or white or any color in between, has that right to vote. The leaders of this country should represent the hopes and dreams and ideals of the people, and voting is one way you can make sure that happens. No excuses! Leave early before work, skip a meeting, take a lunch break early or late, leave work early, watch someones kids while they watch yours. Take a bus, beg a ride, walk. Be counted. Make a difference. Vote, no matter how inconvenient, because it how you, on this historic day next Tuesday, get to be part of the process that makes our country great. Vote!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Along the Cornfield

We do a disservice to our kids when we teach them that the seasons begin with spring and end with the 'dead' of winter, portraying fall as the end of the growing season. There, at the top of the brilliant red sumacs are the seed stalks, already formed, waiting for winter winds to break them apart and winter snows to press them to the ground. There, among the yellow leaves of the maples, are the winged seeds, dropping and spiralling their way to earth, to land within the layers of leaves that will decompose around them and enrich the soil for when they sprout in the spring. The corn ears are abundantly full of seed that will be soon harvested and dried and stored, probably as food for cattle, but which could very well be the seed for another year's crop. The seeds are formed during the summer from the pollination of spring's flowers, and it is in the fall that the seeds ripen in preparation for another cycle of life. It is in the fall that the new cycle really begins with the seeds. Look around you at the prairie plants and the trees and you will see seed pods and seed heads and seeds with wings and fins and prickles that cling to animal fur and seeds with bits of fluff that carry them on the wind. Fall is not the end, but the beginning, and a beautiful beginning it is, before the winter rest that is followed by the greening and sprouting forth from this fall's seeds. Life begins anew in the fall, with the potential of the seed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Fall is brilliant colors, red and orange and yellow. But fall is also the tans and browns of the oak leaves, the faded leaves of the maples that have fallen days earlier and lost the sugars that give them their colors, of pine needles and hemlock needles and maple seeds and acorns and their caps and twigs and branches and bark and the soil exposed by the fading ferns. To see the beauty of the brilliant colors is easy. But a lingering joy can be had in the more subtle palette of browns and tans, from rich gingery hues to darker drabber almost blacks. Look more closely where at first you see just brown and tell me, how many browns can you see?

Good Money After Rust

Oh, I am a little poorer tonight but ooooh, baby, does that old 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan drive nice now! Some of you might remember how I told you it shimmied and vibrated at 54 - 58 mph so I had to accelerate quickly past that and how it vibrated again around 80 so I had to stay under that or punch it up to 85? I don't think you were very amused at the last part of that. When was this that I mentioned that? The September trip to WomanSong or as far back as the January to visit my mother after her surgery? So it has gotten worse, vibrating around 30 and also, when going very very slowly, like at a crawl in traffic. It was more like a rocking from side to side at really slow speeds.
So since I got the brakes and calipers redone before I went to Wisconsin for the last extended stay there, I thought maybe this was the calipers out of adjustment - like before the repair, it was from the bad calipers and now it was that they were not adjusted right - I know, a long shot, but that woulda made the fix free.
Kinda like the guy who is looking for his keys in the front yard and a neighbor stops to help and another and another and pretty soon one of them asks when he lost them out there and he says actually he thinks he dropped them in the basement but he can't see down there cuz it's too dark so he thought he'd look out where it was light . . .
So I took it in and explained all that and they guy said no, a caliper causes a jerking back and forth, not side to side because they grab and let go and grab and let go - he said this could be out of alignment or a bad tire belt or tires out of balance, like if a weight feel off. This is why I like these guys cuz they explain things to me and get the way I use sounds and hand motions to explain what is wrong and they actually drew me pictures to explain the brake issues last time, unlike the dealership guys who had a shut-up-and-just-trust-us-and-don't-ask-us-to-explain-anything sort of attitude.
So he calls me later after they have looked it over, and he is kinda . . . hysterical . . . I have not one but TWO tires with broken belts - one is probably the one causing the motion because it is so much worse than the other that seems to have broken just recently and well, he doesn't want to sound like he is trying to scare me, and he knows I don't want to put a lot of money into this thing, but really, do I know how dangerous it is to drive with a tire with a broken belt? Well, I knew going in they were kinda bald, as my oil change guy told me he wouldn't cross the city limits with tires that bald, let alone drive to Wisconsin. So I okay that and he hesitates . . . and I need an alignment, probably from driving with that bad tire all this time and the struts are worn too and I can leave those alone but it won't ride as well . . . so I okay that too, and later he calls to say the sway bar connectors are broken in 2 places and I really should do that too while they are in there if I drive on hills and curves (those of you who know the 'driftless area' of Wisconsin just snorted at that) - well, I know that has been broken since 2005, so I okayed that too.
He actually apologized for how much it all turned out to be when I picked it up - I like that, a repair guy who at least feels a little remorse for charging you 50-plus bucks an hour . . . but oooh, baby, does she drive like a . . . really old junker with brand new tires and perfect alignment and suspension . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leaf on the Water

"Leaf on the water,
Tumble and spin.
Where are you going?
Where have been?
Drawn by the current,
Touched by the wind.
Leaf on the water."

So goes the refrain of the lovely song by friend and singer/songwriter Sammy from Miami. The leaves of autumn always bring to me a bit of nostalgia and introspective analysis of the past, recent and long gone, while the wind and activity of the movement of the leaves sends thoughts forward to what might come, what might be changing, ways I might grow.
Our little lake is not as still as it might seem, for it is really just a stream taking break from its quick rushing along. In the end, our lake water is still flowing, and each fallen leave has a chance to float on down the lake and over the narrow spillway to speed along in the fast flowing stream beyond. Waves from the wind or a late fishing boat may beach it or catch it in an eddy or flip it and cause it to edge into the water and slip below the surface. Or it could skate along the surface and end up across the lake and around the bend, at a new and unpredicted place far from the tree from which it fell.
Really, anything can happen. Whether we choose and do our best to guide the events of the future or whether we let things happen as they may and go with the flow, something will happen. What will it be and where will it lead?

Three Crows Go Driving

From an entry in the back packing journal dated 6-24-08

Three Crows Go Driving

Three crows go for ice cream
In their Maserati GT S stick shift,
Black of course.
They order a black cow,
A root beer float, and
A hot fudge sundae.

Three crows go to the cemetery
To pay their respects
To the Civil War veterans.
One wonders how much longer before
The country is ‘color blind’.
Another says “I’m optimistic.”
The last says “We’re optimistic
About everything.”

Three crows go to the nature preserve
To photograph wildflowers
They find black snakeroot
In the woods
Skunk cabbage by the stream,
And Crow’s foot violet
At the edge of the prairie.

Three crows speed home
One says “Busy day.”
Another says “Important day.”
Third says “Cop.”
They pull over as lights flash.
Crow at the wheel
Hands over a license.
Officer returns to his car.
And looks ahead.
The Maserati is gone.

Papers drift and tumble
Where the car was.
Officer steps back out,
Bends to pick up the pieces
Three coupons
For the ice cream store,
A map of the cemetery,
A tracing of a crow’s foot violet leaf.

“Yeeeaaaah” comes a caw from overhead
Three crows fly away,
Turn and keel in the warm breeze
then fly steady westward.

Ripening Seeds of Northern Sea Oats

Northern Sea Oats

Chasmanthium latifolium

A lovely shade-loving perennial native grass

Almost Kitchen

The kitchen cabinets are in place now and the counter tops have been pondered and measured for and we wait . . .

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fifty Miles

What is fifty miles? About an hour of time driving? A couple gallons of gas burned? A long enough trip to consolidate missions like shopping for groceries and having lunch with a friend? On foot, it is another thing entirely. If you are a little bit crazy and don't take much gear and walk all day, I suppose you could do it in a couple days. But as a regular backpacking trip, it is the better part of a week. It is 6 days of 8-plus miles. It is at least five nights of sleeping in a tent. At least five set-ups and tear-downs and re-packings. It is six breakfasts of nutty grainy hopefully chocolaty bars. It is six lunches of tuna or salmon in a pouch or beef sticks or jerky and crackers. It is six dinners of dehydrated meals in foil pouches that begin with six waits for the water to boil and then for that water to rehydrate the casserole-like meal. It is at least 12 stops to filter and purify drinking water. For some of us, it is six mornings of taping toes and joints to prevent blisters and other minor but painful injuries and six mornings and six afternoons and six evenings of Advil dosings. Therein is the reason some of us refer to it as Vitamin A. If the usual odds hold, it is a least two days hiking in rain and at least 3 mornings putting on wet boots and at least 2 nights sleeping with raindrops hitting the rain fly of the tent. It is countless mosquito bites and a few fly bites and chapped lips and at least a little sunburn.
But it is also six days and nights of fresh air, fragrant with the scents of flower nectar and the aromatic oils of leaves and the decomposing of leaves and the varieties of fragrance medleys of streamside, woodland, sunny meadow, high pine ridge, which all have their unique signature and which, after a few days, you can identify by smell before you reach them. It is six days of quiet without the sound of traffic or phones and only the rustle of leaves and the calls of birds and the wind creaking the trunks of the trees. It is six mornings of beautiful sunrises or magical mists and six days of wonderful amazing views of panoramic vistas and close-ups of wildflowers and insects and leaves and bark and seeds and buds. It is six evenings of magnificent sunrises or foggy dusks and maybe a few nights of crystal clear sky with more stars than you remember there ever being up there. And it is six days of camaraderie with your hiking companions, of sharing the beauty of the area, of commiserating on your pain or the challenges, of talking about things in depth that you might never have time to reach in the real world, of joking and laughing and clowning, and of sharing stories of past journeys with people who know and understand what you are saying and who appreciate the achievement that each trip represents.
Fifty miles. I got my second Fifty Miler patch today from my sons' Boy Scout troop, for the trip to Isle Royale this summer. Yeah, I am damn proud of it, too!

Wisconsin Diorama

Sometimes my part of of Wisconsin is so pretty, it begins to look a little fake to me in its perfect brilliance. There was a museum in Chicago that had nature dioramas. Nooks in the wall behind glass windows contained scale models that were meticulously crafted to portray scenes from nature. They had a richly detailed foreground of an ecosystem of native plants, and a painted background of sky and horizon, and a middle ground representing how the ecosystem fit into the larger picture of the surrounding landscape. This roadside scene is very much like a diorama of the sumac fencerow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Creative Thinking on Speed, Saved by Knitting

The human brain at its very most creative is that of the mother whose child is missing or in danger. At moments like that, the mother can think up the worst possible scenarios and even worse variations at an incredible rate of speed and with more gore than the nastiest horror movie or violent action drama. When you are powerless to do anything to help them, all you are left with is a racing and inventive and terrified mind. Thus, the four long hours that my son was in surgery yesterday were . . . long. Very long. With my brain unable to concentrate on reading yet too willing to invent reasons to worry to allow just sitting, knitting may have saved lives or sanity. Knitting my skinny purple scarf out of textured hand-dyed purple merino wool yarn kept me from imagining worse worst case scenarios and it was something I could concentrate on enough to feel like I was accomplishing something. Surgery was declared a success and the boy is recovering quickly and the mother is . . . napping the day away!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Right Way to Ponder

Say you need to solve a problem. You need to figure out the best way to get something done. First you have to lay out the goal. Then you need to outline some of the obstacles. Then you need to propose some solutions. You best do this in such a way that you do not claim the proposals. This allows others present to take parts of them and use them to build other ideas. Or to reject them outright. It allows you to look at them more objectively and not defend them as much as you might if they were yours. The proper way to do this is to couch all proposed ideas and sub-ideas in "A guy could . . . . "

Thursday, October 16, 2008

They Built Houses

They did projects together, these men of rural North Dakota. They built a 'snow plane' out of an old airplane. They built houses for each other. I remember many men on the site at different times, as they were able. The house was some sort of kit, but of course, my dad had to change things. There was cussing that was cleaned up once they realized the little girls were on site. Sometimes, I held my dad's hand as we walked from the trailer house in Grandma's yard to the place where our new house was being built. Sometimes he carried me on his shoulders. Once, when the grass was very tall, I walked behind him and watched as the grasses swished against his jeans and I held back just far enough that they almost closed between us but I stayed close enough that I never lost sight of him. I remember the smell of fresh-sawn wood. I remember pounding of hammers and the whir and whine of power saws. I remember saw horses and tool boxes and nail aprons. The house project is a joy indeed, and part of that joy is meeting the people our construction manager has selected to work on it, and during this past week, sometimes working along side them. If my dad was still among us, he would be there, working on this house, opining on the possible ways to do things, hammering and sawing and loving every minute of it. It is a joy working on this house, but it is a bit of a bittersweet joy for it makes me miss my dad, gone for 12 years now, but still present when the air is filled with the smell of sawdust and the sounds of saws and hammers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tools I Wished I Owned

Wet saw. Squirts water on the blade to keep it from heating up. Cuts through anything. Fast. Scary. Safety glasses adviseable. This one is borrowed. Many thanks to the guy who is letting us use it! Makes me think up things to do with it. Slate tile vases. Slate tile boxes. Could you cut a flagstone into slices? What could you do with them? Could you cut a stone in half? Oh, the possibilities!

Live From The Kitchen At The Lake

It's a bevy of activity here as Kurt and Matt and Thomas install my kitchen. (Okay, I let them take one brief break.) It's beginning to look a lot like kitchen!
But it is back to painting the bathroom for me. I am a terrible painter. I am sloppy and I make drips and I get paint on the floor and I cuss. I should be fired.
These guys are much better at what they do and they are not messy and they don't cuss. Good job, guys!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Live From The New House

The cabinets are in boxes in the living room and the bathrooms are painted with primer only and there is no grout between the slate tiles yet and the window screens are in boxes in the garage and the landscape consists of orange brown subsoil and the places where the second floor is open to the ground floor have no railings and there are gaps in the heating ducts and in the plumbing and there are no light fixtures installed so the only light is from one floor lamp and some clip-on utility lights and the only furniture is a lawn chair and paint can end tables and my sleeping bag, but . . . WE HAVE INTERNET SERVICE. Okay, my wireless card does not talk to the phone company's broadband service, so I am cabled to the wall right now, but still! I am blogging live from the new house at the lake! But I better not include much content because there are bathrooms to paint and I am burning daylight here online!

Monday, October 13, 2008


What some people see: Stop. Go Back. Turn Around.
What my kids and I see: Guaranteed Adventure Ahead. Proceed With Attitude. Take Pictures.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Kinds of Parents

Parenting can be fun but it can also be hard work. One of the things I noticed when my kids were younger was that some of the things parents were doing was not really all that necessary. I noticed there was a difference between doing things with your kids and doing things for your kids. And some of that begins with your attitude about them from the start. If you gaze into that crib and think that tiny thing needs protecting and caring for because it is your responsibility and that is as far into the future as you can see, you will approach things in certain ways. But if you look in there wistfully with the bittersweet knowledge that it is all temporary and that you have them in your lives for a few short years before they go out into the world as their own people, you will have an entirely different approach. If you think your kids need protecting you might do their school projects for them and do their laundry and make their lunches and make their phone calls for them and build their model cars for them. But if you recognize from the start that they are going to leave your care and enter the world as their own people, all the time with you is opportunity to prepare them for that. If you are merely caring for them, you might do the math homework that is hard, but then they never 'get' the concepts and you have to KEEP doing the math homework. And the science poster. And the English paper. But if you know they are going out there, you want them to have the math skills even if they only get a B on the homework while they learn. You want them to know how to lay in the supplies and research the information and organize it and plan the design to make their own science poster even if it takes 3 trips to the store, makes a mess of the kitchen table, and doesn't look quite as 'finished' as the one their friend's mom made. You want them to know how to make shopping decisions so you take them to the store and talk about it as you go even if it makes the shopping take longer and you want them to know how to feed themselves so you have them in the kitchen with you cooking and cleaning up and planning the next meal and you want them to be competent so you show them how to do laundry instead of doing it for them and you show them how to clean a toilet and repair a windowscreen and put washer fluid in the car and even if those things take longer to do as a team than if you just did it yourself, you will know when they leave that they can take care of themselves and figure out the unknowns from the processes you have involved them in.
Are you a doer-forer or an equipper? My kids know which I am.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pow Wow

Have you ever seen a poster in a store window advertising a Pow Wow and wondered what it was or who it was for? Have you ever driven by a sign on a street corner on a weekend pointing down the road to a Pow Wow and been tempted to drop by? Last Saturday in Batavia, Illinois, was Pow Wow day. What is a Pow Wow? A Pow Wow is Native American dance gathering. Native Americans come together for the day to socialize and celebrate their culture, both their historical culture and their current culture. Some attend in regalia specific to a certain type of dance, which may include traditional elements as well as contemporary elements. There will be portions of the program where only those in dance regalia are invited to participate, but there will be many dances called 'inter tribal' where everyone is invited to participate, including any member of the audience, native or non-native. A Master of Ceremonies will be there to announce each dance and indicate who is invited to participate, so you don't have to know the rules before you go! Dancing must have music of course, and at a Pow Wow the music is the beat of the drum. Traditionally, drumming is done by men, seated in a circle around a large hide drum that sits in a frame on the floor. The drumming is loud and if you are close enough, you can feel it as well as hear it. The drumming is my favorite part. And a Pow Wow is for everyone. For Native Americans, it is an opportunity to celebrate their heritage and connect with other natives. For non-natives, it is an opportunity to learn about the culture of the people that inhabited North America for at least the last 10,000 years. If there is a program, it will contain information to help you know what is going on. If not, the M.C. will announce tidbits now and then. And dance participants in regalia are always willing to answer your questions. But you can read online before you go, doing your searches on such terms as 'Pow wow etiquette'. There are sites that list what is considered appropriate behavior at a Pow Wow. If I had to pick a rule that people don't pay enough attention to it would be to always stand during an honor song. The M.C. will usually announce this during the song at the beginning of the event that honors veterans, but some times he will forget at other honor songs. If it is a song to honor someones birthday or an elder or a local family or the pow wow committee, those honored will dance first, and then others are welcome to join. And the audience should all be standing. If the M.C. forgets to announce this, then please, just go ahead and stand up. Others will notice and stand as well. I would also ask you to be free with your cash. The pow wow is put on by a committee of volunteers and as with any volunteer endeavor, money is always an issue and often a reason why a pow wow dies out: The donations are not enough to cover the expense. So please, give a little extra in any way you can. The drumming is why I go. The sound of it and the feel of it recharges me and seems to reset my energy and my mood. Look online for a pow wow schedule for your area and have the courage to try something you have never done before and be open to learn and experience and enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two Kinds of People - Knowers and Learners

I worked for a landscaper once who was doing things the same way he had learned them when he took a few classes in the '70's. Even if I would do a design that included new cultivars of shrubs, for example, he would substitute the old varieties he was familiar with. His trips to the horticultural trade show were mainly to find wholesalers who could still supply these old varieties. He took no hint from how increasingly difficult it was to get those shrubs that perhaps there were newer better alternatives. He knew how to do things and didn't see any reason to change that.

I was awed once to find I was volunteering next to an expert on prairie who was a locally renowned advocate of replacing lawn with prairie. She answered my questions but also asked me questions about my experiences with native plants. She was volunteering as she does every year on that project to gain more experience and see that patterns of how that particular prairie was changing over time. She know a great deal about prairie and is considered to be THE expert by many. Yet she also knows that she will never know everything and that new things are being discovered constantly and she continually wants to learn as much as she possibly can about her area of expertise. And she is willing to learn it from both other experts and also from anyone who has any experience or knowledge to offer.

Such experiences have lead me to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people: People who are certain they know and never seek to learn more, and people who aren't so certain of anything except that there is always more to learn and therefore want to learn more and grow and be challenged.

Which political candidate falls into which category?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ewwww - But It IS Nature

This lovely creature is a tomato hornworm. Yes, it is as large as it looks. Over a half inch of width and at least three inches of length. Some might think the 'Ewwww' of the title refers to this lovely creature, but I find them quite beautiful. They almost glow in the sunshine and they are such a clean fresh crisp shade of green. They are quite magnificent.

No, the 'Ewwww' is for this poor unfortunate shrunken individual. Sometimes, tomato hornworms are parasitized by other insects. In this case, a braconid wasp, a tiny stingless wasp, laid her eggs on the body of this tomato hornworm. The many larvae lived inside the live hornworm, eating its insides gradually without yet killing it. When they were mature, these larvae chewed their way through the hornworm's skin to the outer surface, causing fatal injury, where they spun tiny cacoons, pupated, and later emerged as adult wasps to mate, after which the female goes off to find another host hornworm on which to lay her eggs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fall Prairie

I kinda think if it as 'my prairie' because I have been giving tours of it for maybe a dozen years now and have weeded things out of it and planted things into it and harvested seeds from it and observed insects and birds in it and seen signs of moles and coyotes in it and photographed it in nearly every season. Jerry mows a path through it for us to give our tours just before the August Heirloom Garden Day and again before October Harvest Days. My kids and I have been volunteering or visiting this prairie and this farm since the oldest was just turning 4 and the youngest was still in a stroller. We took our very first guided tour of a prairie here and learned some of the very first prairie terms and concepts here. Both the farm and the prairie are special to each of us for different reasons. Garfield Farm a wonderful beautiful magical place.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bamboo Flooring

The living room and dining room bays and the kitchen will be floored with bamboo. Stalks of bamboo canes are crushed, impregnated with a resin, and pressed with heat into boards that are milled into flooring, making it very hard and durable. A process called carbonization makes the flooring a darker richer color: There is sugar in the bamboo canes and when heated, in this case by being steamed, the sugar caramelizes and turns darker, so the color is the same through the entire floor board. Once the flooring is in the kitchen, the cabinet installation can begin and the kitchen will begin to be a kitchen.


I am a nametag cheat. I think I am pretty honest and trustworthy on other accounts but I do admit to this. I hate nametags. Information is power. My name is a piece of information about me. Both my first name and my last name are pretty unique and I don't want to have to explain anything about either to just anyone. I don't want to share how they are pronounced or where they came from or what they mean or whether I like them or most ridiculous, how long it took me to learn to spell them. I just want to be anonymous. So I go to a workshop and 'accidentally' forget to put on my nametag. Or I put it on my jacket then take that jacket off and 'forget' to move it to my shirt. If it is a two day event, I 'forget' the nametag at home or at the hotel room. If there is a workshop binder, I stick it inside the front cover and 'lose' it there. Or I 'accidentally' leave it in the car at lunch or break time.
But there are two places where I proudly wear my nametag. I treasure my nametags from these events and carry them around on my car dashboard all year for the fond memories they trigger. One is Garfield Farm, where I give prairie tours, in August at an event called Heirloom Garden Day, and at another event in October called Harvest Days. The other is WomanSong, a 3 day festival of workshops and music and talks and art vendors that is held in North Dakota in September. These events and the people who organize and hold them and the people who attend them are special and wonderful and I want to connect at these events and so, there and then, I wear my nametags proudly!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Front Door Deck

The deck outside the front door now has welcoming benches that help ground the building. They echo the sidelights of the door and bring the building into more of a human scale. Thanks, Kurt!

Slate Tile Flooring

Our friend Frank the Tile Guy gave us a weekend and taught us to install the slate tile that will define the central bays of the house from front door foyer to the back door lakeside wall of windows and will provide the base for the two bathrooms. The tile slate is gray with flecks and swirls and streaks of golden and rust and burgundy tones, and is the inspiration for the mustard and grey color theme that will eventually appear in the house.