Sunday, May 31, 2009

Our Town, or WWTW Say?

Let me introduce you to our town. We live in the country, but my Dear Professor works at the college in town. It's a grueling 6 minute commute each day. And that's one way, mind you. It's worlds away from his hour and a half bus commute when he was an attorney at a big law firm in the big city in Texas, or even the 45 minute commute to the university of his post grad days in New York.

It's a hard life, I know, but my Dear Professor loves his family enough to make the sacrifice. And the free books. He loves review copies of books.

Where was I? Oh yes, our town. It's your typical two block town. I think Thornton Wilder would find many things here very similar to his fictional Grover's Corners.

The only high rise is the retirement condo on main street. All eight floors.

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The natives, and you have to go back at least seven generations on the same block or farm to claim that distinction, call life here "living in the bubble." Every now and then the bubble bursts, but we don't talk about that.

Let's see, we have everything one could want: a real movie theater with resident bats,

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(I am told by one of the natives that the bat colony probably predates the theatre. They keep the lights low, but you can hear fluttering on rare occasions. The bats add a certain, umm, ambience to horror flicks. And mosquitoes are never a problem.)

a ratio of one hairstyling salon for every two women and one pizza place for every three college students,

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more Gothic Presbyterian churches than a Southern Baptist can shake a stick at,

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one US Post Office (currently under renovation),

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railroad tracks that separate the two blocks of downtown from the "suburbs",

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three banks in a row,

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a local coffee house that serves sandwiches and a caramel macchiatto that can give Starbucks a run for its money,

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an uptown block,

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a downtown block,

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and right smack dab in the middle of Broad Street, wait for it, wait for it,

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a tattoo parlor!

Now I ask you, in all seriousness, what would Thornton Wilder say?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gardening by the Square

I need to mow the lawn again. Bad.

But there is an alternative. I'm dreaming of a lawn turned into a beautiful, geometrical, Martha Stewartish, orderly garden. I'm great at making plans, but the follow through is the tough part.

Fortunately I have a young energetic partner in crime--Rachael.


That's Rachael, saying the word "poo" and holding a big, dark, clump of aged straw and manure. I have piles of the stuff from 18 years of cleaning out the horse stall, goat barn, chicken house, and rabbitry. All but one funny bunny are gone now, but a little of them all remains in the dark, rich, composted pile of garden gold.

I like the idea of square foot gardening, growing plants in a minimum space for optimal yield. I tried it once, many moons ago in Texas with a 4 by 6 foot garden bordered with concrete blocks. I raised broccoli, sweet peas, tomatoes, parsley, celery and who knows what else.

My favorite informational website is journey to forever. Plan on spending awhile there. They have educational stuff for kids, alternative technologies for developing nations, online publications, you name it, they've got it.

If that journey is too overwhelming, then run, do not walk, immediately to this website and download the sf step by step guide. It should answer most of your questions and is very simple to follow and includes a planting guide as well. All you need to do is convert the metrics to inches.

And this is how the final product might look. (I used the dimensions 12 feet by 4 feet.)

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I wonder what Rach planted in this corner?

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Have fun!

What are you planting?

(for more square foot garden deliciousness, click here.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Driving, Miss, Daisy (for iPodite)

Coming home from the airport I almost missed them. There they were, pristine white, standing tall in the middle of the highway divider. I couldn't resist. So I pulled over on the shoulder, and climbed out of my truck. (I'm a closet redneck, remember? I drive a truck.)

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I know I must have looked like a crazy lady, clicking away with my camera. But they were just begging to have their picture taken.


So, I happily obliged. All were patient as I searched for just the right camera angle to showcase the white petals against the green background.

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Of course, I had to try a skyward shot. I had a passing fear that I resembled a reality version of those plywood cutouts of ladies bending over with their pantaloons showing. Oh, you don't see those yard ornaments where you live? Lucky you!


I had fun, and I think they did, too. I could almost hear them chuckling in unison as I turned to go. I looked back over my shoulder and actually caught one in the act!

daisy doodle

(dedicated to my baby sister, iPodite, with whom I share a love for movies, Blue Bell Ice Cream, and Daisies.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Golden Book Acres

After a comment by iPodite's eldest, Mrs Fer The Writer, I am thinking about changing the name of Iron Acres to something more appropriate. Let me explain.

It was our love of peace and quiet, much like Mr. Flibberty-Jib's, that led me and my Dear Professor to move to the country 18 years ago.  I remind myself of that each time I spend a few hours mowing our huge lawn.  Watching a sun set across an expanse of green and listening to the tune of birdsong makes the labor worthwhile.

Two of our three children were supportive of the move.  Son #1 The Preacher enjoyed having friends over for a campfire and late night musing over the meaning of life.  Principessa loved the numerous kittens whose birth in the barn loft seemed to coincide with her birthday on more than one occasion.  The holdout was Son #2 The Dreamer.  His longing was to be able to walk or ride his bike to his friend's houses in the nearby town.  And that is how this farmer became a chauffeur.

We enjoyed being awakened each morning by the rooster's crow.  All would agree that farm fresh eggs from happy free range chickens improved my cooking considerably.

When I did cook.

Although we never had a poky little puppy, our critters have been under the watchful eye of two adopted farm dogs, Bandit and Misty. (Misty the freecycle wonder dog is appropriately named as it is a wonder when she comes when called.)

I loved our goats.  They were a compact dairy alternative to cows.  I like animals that are conservative on the feed and, ahem, fertilizer factor. And kidding season was always fun.  Baby goats are like kittens with more fur and hooves.  Their antics were always amusing.  I've loved horses from childhood, but I believe I bonded most closely with our goats. 

There were horses, too--Lucky, Buster, and Mia.  Lucky, the mischevious gray pony , stayed here for a year while her owner was in Scotland.  Buster was an Appalousa with the smoothest gallop I have ever experienced.  Mia, a palomino colored Arabian/Quarter horse mix was my dream horse.  She spent her final days in retirement here.

Most of the farm animals are now gone.
(I had to make room for visits to the Sprittles!)  But a few of our ducks and geese are still on lawn patrol.

So there you have it, my life in Golden Book illustrations.  What do you think?

Should Iron Acres be renamed Golden Book Acres?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So, did you have a memorable Memorial Day? Did you check out any of those links I posted? My favorite was the lavender one. I cannot imagine how I have lived this long without an olive wood herb grinder.

I love lavender.


I like to think it's because my father's family was from France, but it's more likely because lavender is so, well, lavender. What's not to like about it? Lavender is the second herb I fell in love with. (Mint was the first.)


And I am not alone in my fascination for this particularly fragrant plant. All over Texas, well, at least in the dry, arid areas, lavender farms are springing up. Principessa and I visited one a few years ago.

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Perhaps it is because lavender is so versatile, the swiss army knife of herbs. Mood enhancing, headache easing, and body fragrancing are just a few of the ways lavender is used to enrich our lives. And I didn't even mention lavender's culinary (teas, cookies, sorbets, or breads) or decorative abilities (wreaths, flower arrangements, sachets.)


I fell in love with lavender all over again after the birth of our first grandchild (Hi Boo!) Beautiful Mommy used Lavender and Chamomile baby bath and lotion on the little darling. I went right home and bought a tubful of the lotion to remind me of Boo. (Ok, maybe not a tubful, maybe just a large bottle.)

books and lotion

My dream is to travel to Provence one day to experience the lavender fields. (And visit a goat dairy.) But for now, I will be satisfied with my own little plot of lavender right outside my kitchen door.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Martha Stewart I ain't, but here are some entertaining sites to ponder on your day off. You do have today off, don't you?

Still trying to make up your mind what to cook today? Mosey on over to homesick texan for a mouthwatering ribs recipe (and some sides to boot!)

Mental Floss has a great round up of weird news for the week.

Just when I thought the internet couldn't get any weirder, Lifehacker came up with a website that gives you tips on when to "go" during a long movie.

This one is for owners of pampered, size challenged, furry friends. What they do to Cheekywawas is just criminal, but wickedly amusing. (Sorry Spike.)

I would die before allowing someone to point their camera at my refrigerator. But some people are proud of theirs. Go here to see the pictures. (warning, not for the squeamish)

After the refrigerators, it might be time to clear both your palate and your nose. For a truly lovely contrast, try this site.

Oops, gotta go put on the burgers. Have a great holiday!

(play us off, keyboard cat)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Civil War Vet Grave Marker

This weekend we celebrate the beginning of summer.  There will be grilling, time with family  (in some cases a time of grilling the family!), the Indy 500, and ultimate frisbee.  Enjoy, for those 100 days of summer pass far too quickly.

In the midst of this time of gratitude for the return of a delightful season, let's stop a moment to thank those who have given their lives to preserve our holidays.

1812 Vet Gravesite

As the Greatest Generation is leaving this world, another generation is engaged in a present conflict.  What I fear most is that many of them do not understand how heroic they were, and are, both on the battlefield and the home front.

Memorial Day

We stand on their shoulders, and they are indeed tall ones.

Thank you.
"The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Young at Heart

It has been said that we tend to become childish as we, ahem, mature.  I now have proof.

Jack Bauer the master spy and defender of truth, justice, and the American way,  must have planted some videotaping device in our home, because I stumbled upon this recording recently.  I swear it is an authentic conversation between myself and my Dear Professor.

Or could be.

(You do know who Jack Bauer is, don't you?  "The Man" from the tv series 24.  If you don't know who he is, then you must immediately rush to the nearest video rental place and grab all copies of the last 6 seasons to bring you up to snuff, as Grandmother was wont to say.   You'll thank me.  Honest. And have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fowl Play

This is something only Gary Larson could have imagined. It is a cartoon he might come out of retirement to draw.

A trench coated individual is standing at a major intersection in a major city. As the cars come to a halt at the red light, he sidles up to the driver's window, whips open the coat to display its bulging contents and says, "Psst! Hey, wanna buy a live chicken?"


I am not exaggerating. Read this. The current chic (pun intended) contraband in urban settings is the chicken. There are anti chicken city ordinances that have been rescinded in some places, but not others, for example, Washington, DC. So, some folks, addicted to fresh eggs from happy hens, must resort to illegal possession of poultry.

I miss the rooster crow that awakened us for 17 years here at Iron Acres. The chickens are all gone, but I am seriously thinking about starting another flock later this summer. There is nothing like the sound of a contented hen clucking, or the taste of a fresh egg.

(Yes, Virginia, eggs do come in more colors than white. Many more colors than white!)

I suppose that is another reason country living appeals to me. I can enjoy the crowing, the clucking, and those wonderful fresh eggs without breaking the law.

The only foul play at Iron Acres will be fowl at play.

(Sorry, couldn't resist that one. *wink*)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Love Clouds

I am happy to report that I am much less conflicted today, notably due to the efforts of the Great Bundini, rabbit hypnotist extraordinaire. After spending some time in garden therapy, which the Great Bundini insisted was necessary, (especially since her fee was the green of a type that is more likely found in a garden than in the US Mint)I can truthfully say that my mind is in the clouds.


I love clouds--




or bright.
As morning glids the skies

I love all clouds alike.

But I suppose, if truth be told, I like the ones

that have the sun

peeking through them best.

Have a wonderful cloud and sun filled day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Bundini

I have a love/hate relationship with grass. The verdant spikes are such a welcome sight in the spring, after a long, gray, white, brown winter.


And then, almost overnight it becomes The Plague of Mythic Proportions. As we sleep, the fertilizer fairy tiptoes over field and plain and pours magical growing potion over every blade. I know this to be a fact because ordinary grass just doesn't grow that fast.


I crank up the mower and after a good 1 1/2-2 hours the main portion of the lawn is done. We used to have highly trained professional grazers who systematically rotated over most of the lawn, laying down their own brand of, ahem, fertilizer as they grazed (we had goats.)


But alas, or rather, hurray!, they are now all gone on to another farmer's field where they can frolic, fertilize, and feed to their heart's content (as well as test every boundary in sight!) My Dear Professor has always claimed that life began when the dog died. In our case, it was a little more complicated than that, with no animals being harmed in the process. Misty the freecycle wonder dog is still here, along with a few ducks and geese, and The Great Bundini, the rabbit hypnotist extraordinaire.

Where was I? Oh yes, the lawn. I actually enjoy that almost 2 hours on the lawn tractor (surely you didn't think I did it with a hand powered reel mower.) I love the scent of vanillin in the new mown grass, and the feeling of accomplishment once it is done.

yard work

What I don't understand is that I would much rather spend the 2 hours outside, listening to the hum of the mower's Briggs and Stratton engine than stand inside and wash the dirty dishes in my kitchen sink, which takes much less time.

Perhaps I should consult the Great Bundini?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Empty Nest Syndrome

I wonder if animals have empty nest syndrome. Mr. and Mrs. Robin have seen their fledglings safely out of the nest and into the big world. Did Mrs. R have a verklempt moment or two when the wee ones took flight?

I never did. Well, ok, I did have a brief teary episode when we left our Principessa at a big college in another state. But she was our little girl. The boys were another thing. Little boys start distancing themselves from Mommy around puberty.

I have chronicled the Robin family from egg to hatch this year. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the fledglings on their first flight. I think I came close. You saw them all stuffed together in the nest.

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A few days later, as I approached, the babies flew away in a burst of feathers and fluttering. That is, all but one. He looked like he was settled in for a bit. He was enjoying being able to spread out in the nest.


That little robin reminded me of our Son #2, The Baby. He is still living at home, looking for a job. Remember him? The Joker?

That last baby Robin did finally take flight. But it took the scare of my violating his personal space with a camera.


That first flight landed him at the base of the tree that housed his nest. His siblings had gone longer distances.


Do you suppose being awakened by your mother holding a camera in your face would help The Baby make his move?

I'll keep you posted.