Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Smaller Stars of Spring

Spring is about big displays of color in the show-offs, the fruit trees and the ornamental fruit hybrids, and I love those, of course. But I also love the little show-offs, and I plant them everywhere I have a niche. They are often more tender, preferring shade and moist places, so I lose many of them, but there are hardy souls among them as well, like these bleeding hearts and Solomon's seal. The nodding buds of Solomon's seal will soon open into tiny, white hanging bells. To my eye, they are the perfect accompaniment to the more sentimental hearts.This is my first year for forget me nots. They are one of those rarest of flowers, a true blue.Of course, ferns. I don't have many because it gets deadly hot here, but a few have managed to survive. Actually, there are two ferns in this picture, the tall one which is architecturally fantastic, and the low-growing one with its silvery foliage. As the summer goes on, the lower one will become tinged with red. I don't know the name of the tall fern, but I bought it from a bin which was marked 'six foot ferns'. The first year they (I bought two) scarcely made it to 6 inches. My sister scoffed when she saw them, which made me feel very bad for the ferns. The year after they were about a foot and a half. This year they both came up early and strong, and the one in the picture is already as tall as its greatest height last season. I'm hoping for bigger and better things this year! In the meantime, the characteristic way ferns punch through the ground in mighty, little coils and 'unfurl' charms me no end. I could almost sit out there and just watch them grow.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Picture for Ksera'mala

Ksera'mala, these are for you~ because you're gorgeous!~, a sprig of blossoms!

Painting with Tea

I'm a watercolorist, which means I paint with pigments and a LOT of water. I'm often dipping rapidly into the water to wet a large surface or dilute a strong color or changing colors very quickly between strokes. I also drink tea while I paint, so sometimes I dip my brush into the tea cup by accident!

Not wanting to bother either with cleaning my brush or making a fresh cup of tea, I just paint with the tea and drink the paint!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Faith in the FSM

(posted to the CFSM site)
I’m very against this site
Published by henderob February 3rd, 2007 in Hate Mail (and concerned criticism).
I’m very against this site. I know you’ve stated that it’s not a spoofof Christianity, though I don’t know why you bothered saying that bit.It’s as though you’ve reverted to high school- If athiests andintellectuals don’t have anything better to do than make fun of peoplewith genuine beliefs, maybe they ought to go back to their evolutionbooks and take comfort in the big bang or primordial soup. It breaksmy heart that this is what the world has come to. As if there weren’tenough religious controversy and war in the world… why can’t youwork toward promoting understanding between people, rather thanexploiting idiots and making fun? It’s this kind of mockery thatcaused the crisis with the Danish cartoons.
The basic premise of religion, especially Christianity, is a God whocannot be seen or fathomed in our normal way of seeing. If we could sodefine Him, He wouldn’t be God, but an idol we had made. If Jesuscould be defined intellectually, He would just be another man.Clearly, religion doesn’t always pan out as God intended it to. When Iclaim to have a real relationship with Jesus, do you think I’m makingit up? That My Jesus is just a figment of my imagination, and thethings He has done for me are pure coincidence? I guess it comes backto, unless you believe, you will not understand.
You are clearly a smart man with a lot of creativity. I want toencourage you to put that brilliance and work ethic into doingsomething positive for the world as it is now… perhaps helping inthe fields of medicine or diplomacy, or combatting poverty anddisease. Until people’s basic needs are met, it doesn’t signify muchto ask them to believe anything.

(my reply)
Dear Kate,

You are obviously a thinking individual with a caring attitude. When you opened this site, you may have felt personally attacked for your religious beliefs, but I believe you have made an error in assumption.

You assumed that Pastafarians do not take their religion seriously. We do. We are very serious about Him as the creator of a mountain, trees and a midget. We are also seriously concerned that our creation beliefs be given equal time in schools where religious doctrines are allowed to be taught alongside science. As devout Pastafarians it is our hope to spread the message of Him and his works to all people and there is no better way to do that than to start with young children while they are still susceptible to indoctrination. You can understand why we would not like our children led astray by ideas of evolution and intelligent design (ID). We wish at least for them to have a chance to learn about our doctrines side by side with other religions and science.

We are serious enough to keep up to date with events all over the United States which might endanger our liberty to believe as we do. In doing so, we help preserve the religious plurality of this country, an effort for which all faiths should be grateful, although we never ask for thanks. It is enough for us to work for Him.

You assume, also, that our Pastafarian activism is an intellectual aggression toward Christians, Moslems, Buddhists or any other faith. On the contrary, a Pastafarian is most happy in a gathering of his own fellow pirates, beer in hand, worhipping as He intended. To my knowledge, Pastafarians have never intruded, interrupted or imposed their beliefs on any other sect or religion. Our religious activism is primarily manifest in the public sector of schools and government and only when other religions have first pioneered a breach in separation of church and state.

For example, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (CFSM) had no involvement with the Pinellas School Board until the issue was raised there by other religious adherents, proponents of ID in this case. After discovering that a mission opportunity was opened in that school district by Christians, Pastafarians mobilized a respectful letter writing campaign to encourage school board members to consider our position.
CFSM is a follower. We do not lead the religious efforts against school boards to include FSM-ID. However, once an opportunity arises in a particular arena, we are responsible (by divine fiat) to present our case for the inclusion of our beliefs alongside other religions.

You ask in your post, “why can’t you work toward promoting understanding between people, rather than exploiting idiots and making fun?” It is my dearest held belief that as a Pastafarian I am indeed ‘promoting understanding between people.’ I would go so far as to argue that the CFSM is based upon this ethic, and it is one of the principles that brought me to the church in the first place. As for ‘exploiting idiots,’ you have misread our religious intentions. CFSM does sometimes go outside its doors to involve itself in public sector matters, but not at the expense of idiots, unless, Kate, you consider proponents of ID to be idiots. We are not ‘making fun’ but, instead, asking for equal consideration of our beliefs alongside your so-called ‘idiots.’

You ask, Kate, “When I claim to have a real relationship with Jesus, do you think I’m making it up? That My Jesus is just a figment of my imagination, and the things He has done for me are pure coincidence?” No, Kate. I do not think you are making it up. As a Pastafarian, I only ask that you do not ridicule my belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This is how I choose to live my life, and who is to say that I have not been touched by the Noodly Appendage?

Peace be with you and rAmen.
Jacqueline Sparrow

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Length of Spring

Thunderstorms rode in from the northwest yesterday evening bringing cold air with them. This morning, although cold, was sunny and sparkled with the rain.

What is as lovely as a cherry blossom? A: apple blossoms

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Small World

I didn't have any lovely sunshine to show off my cherry blossoms, but I simply had to put up at least one picture after 'Paul from Korea' posted a comment. I like this photo because it contrasts the pale, delicate blossoms against the rough tree bark. If only I'd had nice lighting...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Beds of Sweet Soil

I almost didn't make an entry today then I happened to come across a blog by a man in Korea that inspired me to make the effort. He posted a collection of photographs that he took in a museum for wooden figures, and they were charming, colorful, whimsical and 'glad.'
His post just prior to that contained photos of cherry blossoms, of a tree that looked so much like my own Kwanzan cherry that it must be the same or closely related. The wonderful thing about this is that my own tree is just beginning to blossom. It is perhaps a week behind the one in Korea.
There was something about these shared images that made me feel close to this guy. He loves color and shape and seasons, and I love those, too.
He has posted some pictures of a girl, his 'urban fairy' as he called her, and I wonder if it is his girlfriend or wife or lover. I hope it is. She looked happy, and the pictures he took of her are lovely. It's nearly impossible to love life most of the time. This guy, though, he's loving life. I'm glad someone is happy.
Here is my vegetable garden (I cheat and plant flowers here, too.), laid out for the coming year. It doesn't look like much now, no chunky fruits or vibrant flowers, no butterflies and bees. To me, though, it is extremely satisfying. The beds are laid out as I want them and they are each filled with fresh, rich soil. Gawds, the dirt is so sweet you could eat it! There are already seeds in rows and little flags to mark their places and a few plants with stakes. The lettuce planted last fall is run amuck, and I am making salads from it as fast as we can eat it. Perennials, like Helianthus tuberosus, iris, lamb's ear, tigerlily, purple coneflower, garlic, parsley and oregano are just beginning to shoot up or are already growing strong. With a good eye, you can spot them all in the photos.
I hope someone enjoys these photos at least a little as much as I do. I hope that.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cherry Jam

This humble, little, white tree is a dwarf cherry standing no more than 6 foot tall full grown. I waited all day for the sun to come out and take a stunning picture of the white blossoms, but it was not to be. Here it is on a cloudy day. Last year the tree also bloomed well, but there was a killing frost about this time, which browned all the flowers and prevented the fruit from forming. Subsequently, we had no cherry jam last year.

It seems (or is simply so) that every plant I tend eventually ends up with a story. For example, my sage bush is not just a sage; it's a cutting from the one my sister had many, many (20?) years ago when she lived in a mobile home, and that piece went with me to a home I kept for four years in farm country and then again to my present garden. That plant is also the parent to another I rooted in water and planted in a new garden bed. I harvest and dry sage from that bush every year and enjoy it through the winter on roasted chicken. The smell almost invariably takes me back to those hot, dry Kansas days when I remember my sister weeding her garden and to the little home on the prairie that I tended so lovingly for a while.

So it goes...every plant with a story and a memory for me. This year I'll pick and wash and pit cherries, then I'll make cherry jam. When I open a jar this winter, the color and the smell will remind me of summer on the porch pitting cherries alone. It will remind me of the spring we had a late frost and went without cherry jam.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Red and White Dragons

One of the most incredible pieces of literature I've ever read is Merlin's prophecy. The excerpt below is translated from Old British into Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, translated then from Latin into modern English by Norma Goodrich.

"To this spot a damsel from the white grove to take care of healing. After she shall have tried her arts, by her breath alone, she shall dry up the injurious springs. Then as soon as she shall have refreshed herself with the healing water, she shall bear in her right hand the Caledonian Forest, and truly in her left hand the warrior walls of Lothian. Wherever she shall set her feet down, her footsteps will burn with sulphur and smoke with two flames.

The fumes shall excite the Ruteni and make heat for those who live under the sea. She herself shall shed tears for those suffering; she will fill the island with horrid screaming.

The stag with ten branches shall slay her, four of his antlers crowned in gold..."

This prophecy (or poem) is the origin of the image of a battle between a red and white dragon. It is a long read, but well worth the time. I have come back to it again and again over the years, enjoying it more each time as I approach it with more understanding.

Monday, April 21, 2008


This is how I wasted my time yesterday, painting and pasting this picture together. Whichever direction you turn it, both figures remain in flight.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quick Sketches

These are the rough images I sketched quite a few years ago (2000?) of my heroines and the hero of my book. I have material at this point for 3 (maybe 4) books, but I'm concentrating this year on editing and finishing the first.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blink Blink

Apparently my blog post entitled "Single Christians" prompted Adsense to start putting up ads like this:
Chat with Hot & Sexy Singles from Your ZIP Code for Free - Chat Now!


What a Face

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Single Christians

I received a bulk email today from "Single Christians." I didn't open it, but the title was "Embrace Love in a New Place." Sounded good to me!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Australopiths (or a creature damn like them) are considered ancestors of Homo. It gives me comfort to know that it was the use of our hands, not big brains, that first distinguishes us from our relatives. If it were our brains, consider how embarassing that would be.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Morning

It was a pretty morning, but cold. I ran out in my moosehide slippers to get a shot of the morning sun on the white flowers of the star magnolia. When I uploaded, though, it was the bark of the river birch that interested me. Notice the prolific rose bush that threatens to overwhelm the smaller (and far tidier) star tree. This rose and I have a running battle. It is one of those simple (5-petaled) varieties that will spring up of its own accord in ditches and along roadsides. Left to their liberty, they grow to enormous proportions in themselves, but also spawn offspring which increase the girth of the mass at an alarming rate. This wild variety is, I am convinced, the very kind which protected the princess, Briar Rose, through her hundred year sleep. The branches of these roses spring out maliciously, and just as in the tale I linked below, they latch on to clothes and skin. Once entangled, you can only break free with rips and, oftentimes, blood. I never approach this particular one without stiff armor on my upper body and arms and stout clippers in my hand.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Spent much of this cold, cloudy day reading references for Deborah, Jael, Barak and Sisera and reviewing my previous (and much too voluminous) notes for the myth of Deborah and Barak. Pictured here is a painting of Jael pounding the tent peg into Sisera's head by Artemisia Gentileschi, a contemporary and probably an influence on Van Dyck. Artemisia also painted Judith Slaying Holofernes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Awww, aren't they cute? Cleaned a space out in the barn and set up my old chick-raising equipment. Filled their waterer then set out for Atwood's to purchase the chicks. I bought 7 (6 in the pic) mixed babies. They're only 2 days old! Yet, that's still older than the 1 day chicks I might have ordered from McMurray's.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Seeds Arrived

My order from Johnny's arrived. Their seeds, unlike many, come in packets without glossy pictures. On the front are the name and variety and basic statistics like height of the plant or days to bloom. Very detailed information, such as instructions for harvest, disease prevention, culture, germination, spacing and growth requirements are in small print on the back, small enough that I must hold the packet out at a short distance to read it. Mostly I skim this information unless it's truly a new plant for me. This year I chose a couple new varieties, but essentially plants that I've grown for many years. Lettuce, for example, I plant all year round, both greens and reds. This new one is a red, Antago.
Cosmos I plant some years and not others. This year I have a specific plan for them and chose Versailles Mix, a delicate blend of pinks and whites with splashes of bright pinks for contrast, a very traditional look for Cosmos.

Zinnias I plant every year or culture those that reseed on their own. Zinnias are my dad's favorite flower, so I take pleasure in showing them off to him each summer. I chose State Fair Mix, another traditional look and also a reliable performer.

Each year I either choose a melon or a gourd vine. Last year was my failed attempt at pumpkins. They made marvelous flowers, but then either failed to form a fruit or formed a tiny fruit that withered and fell off. After crying over it a while, I concluded it was a lack of pollination by bees. This year I've ordered Snake Gourd. I've had marvelous luck with birdhouse gourd in the past and am excited to see the novel fruit from snake gourd.

I've gone a couple years without planting Swiss Chard, but I started thinking about those marvelous summer breakfasts I've been missing, fresh-picked Swiss Chard sauted quickly in oil as a side for a fresh laid, soft-fried egg. Mmmm. I got the variety Bright Lights because of its beauty, both in the garden and on my plate.

Leeks! I got the variety Tadorna not for any particular reason except that it looked sturdy. I plant leeks to make leek & potato soup which is fantastically delicious when made fresh. Although I had a bowl of it at an Irish pub in Amsterdam that was as good as I make myself, and those leeks probably weren't fresh-picked.

I don't always plant okra because it's a sun lover, and I don't have much sun space to give over to it. I did some rearranging last autumn and think I have a place for it now. Okra is another that I cut & cook within a few minutes. It's a beauty as well. If I had room, I'd plant it just for the flowers. This year I chose Cajun Delight.

Last of my order from Johnny's was a Sunflower called Holiday. It's tall and has a traditional sunflower look, brown disk and yellow rays.

Naturally, I'll plant many more vegetables and flowers than what I bought from Johnny's as seeds, but I'll purchase those as plants from my local Atwood's. Among them will be tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and marigolds. ...just waiting on the soil to be a tad warmer and the nights more reliable as far as temperature.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Cold today. Wasted much time on failed efforts in random directions, except for these, the scarlet wings.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Clear Path

After several hours of grunt-labor and about 10 minutes of hired chainsaw assistance, here's the finished project, a cleared path to the water.


Photo: Beaver damage to an elm tree along the river- Although we surrounded these two trees with chicken wire, just barely visible in the photo, the beavers simply ate the tree above the wire. This is one of 4 largish trees damaged so far this spring. Smaller trees, too, have been eaten in our 'backyard,' which doubles as the river bank of the Little Ark. The concern, besides the loss of our shade, is that those trees stabilize the bank. Without their root structure holding the soil, the floods wash away the bank and come ever nearer to the porch each year. It's enough to give a homeowner nightmares.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Clearing a Path

Looking down and looking up the stairs to the river: this is the path I need to clear in order for us to have access to the river this summer. If I do it now, early spring, I'll be ahead of the heavy growth to come. I'll also avoid many of the ticks and all the mosquitoes. ...but will I do it?

Choosing Elements