Spider Barrage!

Spiders 012As I went through some photographs on my terribly overloaded computer, I saw these about the windborne spider invasion a while back. I was here rather late and the night shift guy ran in and said it was snowing spiders!

Oh no! Invading Spiders From Mars! Indeed, the tiny spiders came in great drifts; had they been from Mars we’d have been Spiders 016goners!

 

 

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This picture should show the drifters, but I doubt the resolution. Alas!

 

 

Of course if you want to see a REAL spider threat, come to the cabin and meet Harvey!

HarveyCabin spider 2

 

Cabin Cleaning Progress

I moved lots of stuff out of the cabin a month ago, and got a long extend-handled scrubby thing. I got an Woods 020industrial box of trash bags. Load after load of plunder went up to town! I can hardly walk in the house in town, it is so packed. Oh yeah, gung ho, let’s take another load. Now that all of that is out of the way, I can clear out the trash, donate or sell what I don’t need and CLEAN! For Pete’s sake, I got a gallon of Pine-Sol. Wow, you should see the cabin now!

Not. The only work done around here lately was getting the front porch flashing replaced and getting gutters replaced front and back. Granted, that looks ten tons better even if the new wood isn’t painted yet. Thing is, I did not do one speck of that work, it magically happened while I worked so diligently in town.

Woods 022Wah, wah, I go to work an hour and a half earlier now, and stay an hour later because the boss up and vanished. I get to keep the crap moving (I was the equivalent of a nuclear plumber in a past life, so am qualified) with reports and meeting while still doing my job. Yes, waaah. I really don’t mind it as it needs to be done and I can do it. However, the new schedule means the things I could do in the evenings during the week have been squeezed out and there I am at the cabin playing catch up. This too shall pass.

Woods 021The onus on me for cleaning the spider webs, bat guano, dust, dirt and general accumulated grime must remain in place with no real action for the time being. I reckon I’ll get so tired of having nothing at hand (because I carted it up to town) that I will FIND the time to scrub-a-dub. Memorial Day weekend is imminent…maybe then. Sure.Woods 025

 

I Met A New Guy!

Walking around the woods, I keep an eye out for the newest wildflower blooms, snakes, and for something unusual. Saturday was a beauteous day, sunny without excess heat and thankfully rainless.

Fleabanes in grassThe ever-present fleabane is very pretty in the white and pink forms. I love the idea of them being flea banes, but have only found them to harbor ticks and mites.

Cabin bb blooms closeThere are many blackberry brambles around here, and never are they as obvious as when they are blooming. Wondrous cascades of white! Watch out for the fine thorns…

Yellow weed flowersThese fill entire fields, making pre-plowed farms have seas of bold yellow. Individually, they’re not much. An acre thick with them is spectacular.Woods 003.JPGOh, let’s not forget the flying flowers!

 

Then there he stood, frozen in place by the mere sight of me. I came closer, coy, not wishing to spook him. He may have been around since Day 1; I had not noted one before. Meet the Red Spotted Newt!Handsome little fellow, isn’t he?

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Potato Dictato

Potato Dictato

Mary Ellen Wall

 

I come into the living room with Jimmy’s dinner cause it was football on and his eyes was glued to it. I set the fried pork chop Dougand buttered taters on his lap and was sticking the fork, not the pointy end, into his hand when the TV went to commercials.

Stereo“What the hay are you doing? These potatoes are not fried, and I told you a hundred times I don’t want nothing but fried potatoes!”

Says I, “Them’s perfectly fine taters with fresh butter and green onions chopped all through ’em. Every little cube was cut the same size so as they’d boil even. You better eat all that if you know what’s good for you!”

He finished chewing up his first bite of the pork chop and swallered it. He dropped the rest back on the plate and made to pass it to me. When I didn’t take it, he put it on the pillow by the cat and Inky snagged the chop and was shoot-gone but he acted likeBarto short legs he didn’t see it. “Go on off with that and fix me some decent food.”

I turnt around and got the cable box, unplugged it and quicker then he could jump, I opened the window and throwed it out. His stupid beagle went straight for it while he watched and his jaw dropped to his knees.

I sidled around him, picked up his plate of cold taters, and headed for the kitchen. I announced, “You are a Tater Dictator!”

As I was dumping them in a pot to heat up so as to not waste ’em, he stomped out to the yard and retrieved that cable box. The cord was bare wires in places and I almost laughed but had no death wish.

He looked about to scream and cry at once like he does. “They were fourth and long with the two minute warning going off!”

He stared me down as I squared off with him, not willing to take any more crap from him. I do believe he well understood that.

He set the cable box on the kitchen table. “It is not ‘tater’, you ignorant hick. It is po-ta-to. Where are the keys. I’m going to Jerry Jay’s for a decent dinner.”

“Drunks don’t get keys no more. Walk. If you come back, sleep in the kennel ’cause that’s where your stuff’s gonna be.”

My Cabin!He come up real close so I had his whiskey breath in my face. I did not budge or flinch. He made an ugly face and stomped out. I smelt taters about to burn and in a flash realized I had turnt them on up high without paying attention. I turnt the burner off and shook the pot around to see if any really was burnt. Oh, Lordy, they smelt good! That butter got ’em golden and the first little chunk I picked out was crispy on one side and steaming buttery with the onion just right all through it.

I like fried taters as well as anybody. I just hate the same dang thing all the time; it gets old.

Tarzan, I’m Ready!

Apparently my woodland aspires to be a jungle. We do have a wide variety of bird songs and noises, and avian visitors Blog 040from far down south. If you’ve never heard the raucous call of the Pileated Woodpecker, think ‘The Land That Time Forgot” and add volume! We have the misplaced marsupial Opossum, the Raccoon is a Coati Mundi’s size XXL uncle and the Bobcat is our version of the dangerously fanged feline. We don’t have Boas or Pythons, but we do have pit vipers that Blog 048would rather bite you than squeeze you.

I been around woods all my life, but never have I seen such vines as here. Take these for example; fat and mossy, long and criss-crossy. When I built the cabin eons ago, the vines were merely honeysuckle gage. I’ve watched this mega-choker evolve from my marvelous vantage point, the front porch. I always thought these were jungly-enough, but recently we had some mighty winds blow through here.

This greeted me at the mailbox, “Hey baby, want to swing a while?” Oh, please. I walked around it while avoiding the poison ivy – no thanks. Um, now my arm itches. If I can find the address, I’ll send the pictures to Tarzan and George (George, George, George of the Blog 030Jungle friend of you and me! George, George, George of the Jungle watch out for that tree!). They’re both probably happily retired in Pingi-Pangi or something…but what about the Georgettes and Tarzan Juniors?

I heard that! Somebody thinks I just want to start a woodsy side show and sell tickets. That affronts my environmental sensibilities, having all that traffic and attendant trash. Somebody else thinks I want to see a scantily clad, well muscled, handsome man swinging through my hickories, yodeling. Who, me?

 

A Cabin-ette?

Instead of cleaning up the cabin as I planned to do and really intended to do, I have been writing more Otto Socks blueOtto and Socks stories. It’s slow going, especially when I deviate from the outline for the series. How can I not let the characters do what they want? I can’t force them, bend them to my will. Now I have to see if I can merge then latest one back into the outlined sequence.

With that frustration, I went out to enjoy the sunshine. I looked up the ridge behind the house and the image of a tiny cabin part way up popped into my head. I pictured the wide steps leading up to it. How would I get electricity up there? With juice, I could move my audio recording up there and Ma’s radio would never interfere again! I am on the edge of phone reception that far up (not at the cabin!) and could do even better with a 4G antenna for Download 090915 054WiFi! Then I could have internet, which I need to upload books to Abe Books. Did I mention I have a storefront there? ‘Old Lady Who?’ is the name, and is something I can do with a few hundred of my excess books. It would be great for uploading manuscripts, voiceover recordings, looking up references and tutorials!Science Books

Glancing back at the cabin, I noted the front gutter and the facing board it is hooked to are falling off. I am plagued by big fat boring bees. The well needs a protective shed, and has needed it for a couple decades. I looked back up the hill and the mini-cabin, the steps and the antenna had vanished. The concrete barrier to keep the ridge from encroaching on the back porch collapsed. I can’t turn on the front porch light because it trips the freezer circuit. The garage doors don’t work without brute force.

I wonder how much it would cost to build that little cabin-ette studio marvel?

 

Dynamite That Word Dam!

I could stand it no more! The quiet, patient laptop won me over Saturday. I made a pot of inky coffee and made a batch of oatmeal cookies so I could be up there in Sci-Fi land for the long haul. The cookies were made with very expired flour, expirOtto Socks anded oats, expired eggs, elderly, rock-hard sugar and crystallized sorghum in lieu of the brown sugar I didn’t have. They turned out fine and went upstairs with me to the writing closet. That was after I’d guzzled a cup and a half of the black brain-cleaner. With the coffee cup topped off, I fired up the computer and opened “Otto and Socks – Mama’s Big Fat Clue” and read through what I already had.

Then I stared at the screen. The term ‘writer’s block’ wafted through my head…NO! I am stronger willed than that and shall never succumb to a word-dam. I gulped some more java and imagined it etching big gaping holes in the word-dam, eroding it until it washed completely away.

I had the loose draft and had used it as an outline before. This time, I saw the great insufficiency of the draft; it didn’t account for the actual characters! Pfft! Write, write, slurp, write, gnaw, hours went by. I only wrote six pages in that multi-hour span, but they were so satisfying. That included two rounds of editing, and changing the title to “Otto and Socks – Mama’s Fat Packet of Clues”. Of course, that could change again, who knows.

I have over a dozen stories drafted that follow that story arc with the same main characters. I naturally would prefer to compile them into a single, cohesive novel. Yet the desire to try something different, to accept the Cats at My Deskchallenge of writing succinct stories instead of sprawling sagas, is very appealing to me. The main driver isn’t wanting to try the art form, per se, it is more related to how I present what I wrote to the world. Short stories will be much easier to record. They’d be short enough to post. Maybe. Dunno, they may morph into a contiguous book after all. My wild ideas that seem so cool and innovative at the cabin pale a bit by the time they reach the outer planets.

An example is the idea to take my five published Elise t’Hoot novels (and the last one not published yet) and split them Tenembrasinto at least two books each. A 400 page book is $15, and nobody wants to pay $15 for a paperback by an unknown author. I even thought up new titles and World of Our Ownimagined new covers. Download 090915 078I only went for the 400 page thing originally because I wanted to hook up with Baen Books and that was their requirement. Then picture a big BOXED SET!

Distant Trees

After reality sank in, I wanted the rest to match. Hmmm, most have a good division point, but they would need a bit of rewrite to have then each stand alone. NeighborsSince they’re self-published, I can do what I want with them. I think they would be much more accessible and easier to work with. At least I thought all that was fabulous this weekend. Now I’m very hesitant to mess with projects I completed when I have so many in queue, wanting me to hurry it up.

Stop Howling! I Hear You!

I have changed the cabin dynamic and nobody around there is happy about it. I have taken Spring Cleaning to Cat 3an all-time high by clearing out entire rooms, all of them, one at a time. The cabin was stuffed with old boxes of obscure plunder, decrepit appliances, one more project shoehorned into a tight space, too many books (can’t believe I said that) and was generally junky with a couple decades of accumulation. Moving and sorting all this might sound easy, but I assure you IT IS NOT! Stuff to keep goes in boxes elsewhere. Hundreds of them. The remainder is revealed and can be donated or disposed off, tons of stuff.  I have developed marvellous muscles from carrying heavy loads down long flights of stairs. What of the usual and well-loved pastimes that I so looked forward to each weekend?

 

Cabin June 2015 056These are calling to me in a shrill, demanding voice. Some of the squirts even threaten me, saying, “Look you, I’ll dry up if you don’t get a move on! Everything you need is right here, hop to it!” I retort, “Shut UP! You are waiting for me to carve you out a real studio!”Paint tube

 

 

 

 

These grab at my shirt every time I walk by. The weather is  warm! We can ferment like crazy! I walk by swiftly to avoid that, but these suckers are sometimes quite wily and lull me into thinking they are asleep. I tarry a second too Cabin June 2015 085long and GRAB! “STOP IT!”, I say. “You need to much space and time to fool with right now!”Cabin June 2015 076

 

 

 

 

 

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These cry to me in some foreign language I don’t understand, yet I know they are restless and wish me to transform them into the ephemeral beings that are destined to be. They would turn out to be quite physical if I did the required work. I used the word ‘ephemeral’ because these beverages seem to disappear when I’m not looking. Since I have no opportunity now to carry them to their highest calling, I look away as I slink by. I WANT to put up a few more cases. I will, I promise.

 

No greater din is made than the cacophony coming from these piteous things. I have the old workhorse Cabin June 2015 077machine which has provided me many hours of pleasure and increased my sense of accomplishment – usually. I have so many pieces of cloth they could form their own country. They do have their own language. A persuasively ardent call echoes in my head; they urge me to sit for just a while, feel the scissors in my grip, IMG_1365smooth out the printed paper pattern on a smooth floral cotton blend. The blue cottony material nearly rises from the bag like a primordial beast from the sea in earnest yearning to breathe. I callously shun them. They howl! I put the cover on the machine and snap it down decisively. I shove all of the material into boxes and stack them. They whimper. The guilt is onerous.

 

 

Feb Cabin audio setup light Keys Wing Penny QuoteThe saddest, most hurt of all are these poor, neglected things. They do not cry out. They do not make a sordid scene every time I get near. The microphone had such lofty hopes of being part of a 10 hour narration; she stands there stoically, waiting. The keyboard believes I left them because previously pecked out efforts have not sold well, no return on investment. I’d love to tell those sweet keys that this is not so. I have extensive plans! I know I’ll never get rich with writing, that’s not the point. I have written out of a strong desire to let the stories fly and be free in the skies of this wide and wondrous world, letting the words dance on the clouds! Delays now are unrelated, not their faults. But I don’t say anything. They can’t see that recording will take acoustic material application, that the old computer equipment had no reason to take up so much space. No area was safe from my furious junk attack.

I simply have too much work to do right now! This weekend STARTS cleaning…I know it won’t be easy either. Then fumigating to rid us of the Brown Recluses (I weep for the collateral damage to my beloved Wolf spider friends). Then repairs. Then creating more organized and efficient storage and work spaces. This takes faith, I tell you.

Me worriedDownload 090915 081Bird in basket

A Reader from Sentience to Senility

Mouse readingFrom the time I was a wee tot, I have loved BOOKS. Sure, at first I actually ate them, leaving slobbery gnawed scallops in the covers of my Little Golden Books. When I started READING them, I was so sad I’d eaten Mama Cat’s head (The Three little Kittens). You know, the three little kittens lost their mittens and they began to cry, “Oh Mother dear, we sadly fear….” Yup, I ate Mama’s head so she couldn’t hear them cry.

The funnies in the Courier-Journal newspaper were great to learn on because they were illustrated. Peanuts was good because Schultz used a good variety of words. Andy was a bald kid who never spoke – phooey! Beetle Baily was okay, and it was funny all the ways the Sarge would yell at Beetle. I remember I would cheat and sneak at look at the puzzle answers, then pretend I’d solved it myself. When I could really solve it myself, it was too elementary and I found harder puzzles.Science Books

Ma had a small plant stand with a bookshelf underneath. The only books I remember being there at this moment were Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell) and The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck). Other kids were watching Spot Run, Run Spot Run while I was reading about Scarlett making a dress from her curtains. Gosh, I thought that was neat. Not our curtains, though, they were from the Dollar Store. Dad was on a minesweeper in the Korean War, so I thought the Chinese were bad because of some of the things I’d heard about the war. Ms. Buck showed me another side of China, something much more human than a gun.

Such a marvel is a Bookmobile! Ma and I walked to the grocery every week and I convinced her to visit the Bookmobile that parked in the broad parking lot between W. T. Grants and Woolco Department Store. I got books on her card until the driver finally said I could get my very own. Victory! The first book I ever checked out using my own card was The Jargoon Pard by Andre Norton. Wow! I got the limit every week and read them all.

Ship BooksI still have the first set of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien) I got, paperbacks. Then I got a book club set in hardback. That edition has what I believe is a typo, where Gollum has a griping hand. Come on, it has to be a gripping hand! About ten years ago I got a Folio Socity set; posh, precious, read multiple times.  I also have the calendars, Leaf By Niggle, the elven lore books, the commentaries, all I could find. Then everything by C. S. Lewis: All seven Narnia stories in boxed paperback , in hardback and in Spanish, plus Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, The Screwtape Letters…get an author I like and I must acquire them all! Very frustrating about Dune. I had all of the original books by Frank Herbert. Then his son and another guy started making more. And more. And more? The idea of it being a franchise mill wars with my desire to have ‘the whole set’.

I have two sets of Encyclopedia Britannicas, one is from a guy’s trunk 30 years ago, paid him $200 (they were recent then). I have about 50 books on sewing and textile crafts. I have all David Brin , Arthur C. Clarke, Greg Benford and Ben Bova ever wrote as well as all of Richard Adams, Anne McCaffery and Ursula K. LeGuin. I have four feet of shelf space for Physics, six for Navy, andScience Books another eight feet for repair-fix it-construct it-design it books. There are about 200 cookbooks in the kitchen, all cooking methods and many ethnicities. That doesn’t count the 30 or so on growing and using fruit.

All together, that makes about 5000 total now on all subjects in all genres and I still devour books.

 

 

Woodland May Apples

Newly leafing May Apples, and I sure have lots of them.  Part of my land is a Kentucky – designated wetland. That’s the perfect May Apples 2environment for the well-storied May Apple.

Other names: Umbrella Plant, Duck Foot, American Mandrake, Wild Jalap, Racoon Berry, Hog Apple and Indian Apple.

Lest the “American Mandrake” scare you, like, don’t eat the plant or unripe fruit. The May Apple is not a real mandrake, but chowing down a plant might well do you in.

As a relevant aside, the real mandrake is a member of the Solanacae family (as is the Deadly Nightshade!). People used to think tomatoes (from that family) were poisonous. Potatoes are  from that family too, don’t eat the green skin or the sprouts – same for eggplants. Tobacco to peppers to petunias, it’s a big family! I mention these simply as an example of how you can eat poisonous plants and fruit if you know what you’re doing.May Apples 1

So, like eating the correct part of the potato, eat only the fully ripe, yellow fruit. That is if you can beat the squirrels to it some time from late May through July. This website has pretty good information on it:

Eat the Weeds can be found at  http://www.eattheweeds.com/podophyllum-peltatum-forgotten-fruit-2/

 

Walking through the woods is wonderful and Spring is a magical time to take it all in. From the tree-borne constellations of Redbud blossoms to the tiny, precious wildflowers, I love it!

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