Thursday, October 29, 2009


There's a rainbow over Coopersburg tonight.

There's a Fung-us Among-us

I am in love with fungi.
Fungi are mysterious. Some can feed us; some give people visions; some can kill us. They are a nearly unopened book to me.
Some are quite beautiful. An unharvested crop? A deadly killer?
I don't know.
But I will.

Annie Update

:::::::::::::::::NEWS FLASH:::::::::::::::
SHE IS A HE!!!!!
The cat formerly known as ?, recently known as Annie, will now be named Moses, because there is no little orphan Andy. So Moe it is. Thankfully, he's a healthy neutered cat, and is both feline leukemia and feline aids negative. So, welcome home, Moe!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dreamboat Annie

With a little luck, I believe we'll have a new member in our little family. Little Orphan Annie (previous name unknown) was abandoned at the driveway of the farm today in her cat carrier. The handwritten note on a strip of masking tape attached to the carrier said "I need a good home. Please." Obviously not a farm cat, she came home with me for a trial run with the boys. My cosmic birthday present. She's a redhead, and was left to fend for herself. I guess that makes me Momma Warbucks (HA!). If she turns out to be a he, his name will be Moses. I sure hope the boys accept her/him (I can't commit to gender, because this cat is so fluffy its parts are pretty well hidden). The vet will have the deciding vote. Annie/Moses moved right in. Until we have him/her tested for feline HIV and Leukemia, we won't let them mix. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow. She/he's such a love bug. Isolated to the kitchen right now, but hopefully integrated into the family tomorrow, she appears to be a well cared-for indoor cat; clean, well fed, no apparent parasites, though she/he does have claws (a good thing, as our boys do too.). I wonder why she was abandoned? I hope the family knows she's OK; I'm sure it was a difficult decision. This was a well nurtured pet. Was it a decision based upon a lack of means? A change in circumstances? Or a pet with a bad habit? These things may or may not reveal themselves. I may leave a note at the site where they left her, maybe on her carrier, so they know. Such a beautiful, friendly cat.
We have had two wonderful, special red cats: Buppy, my constant companion for 16 years, until her death at 22, and Stewart, who died at 17. I hope s/he channels them both, as they were remarkable.
Once again, I'm blessed. Thank you, previous owners, for throwing your bread upon the water...I think s/he'll be happy here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scary Movies and Various Fungi

In my humble and perhaps tasteless opinion, October is THE VERY BEST movie month. Now, I have to admit that I lean toward the awful, cheesy low-budget horror and/or sci-fi genre, and I know ABSOLUTELY how tacky that preference is, but I don't care one bit. I love them. Ever since my pre-adolescent days watching Chiller Theatre on my grainy black and white TV, under the covers in my bedroom, ever since my discovery of Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein in Junior High School, ever since my ill-spent youth as an employee of Boyertown, Pennsylvania's State Theater, I have been an avowed B-movie fan. Yes...I mourned the passing of MST3K, which was a Saturday ritual for me for years. Those puppets knew how to make me laugh with their snarky comments and vocal disdain. I miss The Twilight Zone, and Alfred Hitchcock. I miss The Time Tunnel, Star Trek, and even (this dates me, I know) Lost in Space. But for one fair month, I allow myself to step back into the entertainment of my youth, and enjoy the cheap thrills associated with these old gems. I'm not interested in today's slasher movies, though I do relish suspense. I prefer oldies with pseudo-Wagnerian soundtracks that are just as entertaining as the silly stories. I'd buy those soundtracks. So, for the few weeks leading up to Halloween, and often for a few days after, I enjoy my mindless thrillers and low budget sci-fi. Hog Heaven.
As for the second half of the title of today's blog, I am very excited to have met a new intern at the farm with a keen interest in all things fungal...including bleu cheese and culinary mushrooms. He seems very knowledgeable about growing one's own oyster and shitake mushrooms, and is as interested as I am in morels. He also pointed out the relationship between animal digestion and fungal processes, which I never knew before. The same byproducts, the same processes of breaking down matter; I'm not clear on this, as I'm not a biologist, but it sounds fascinating, and I love mushrooms, bleu cheese and all things fermented. I believe I may learn a lot from this young man. I look forward to picking his brain during my evening milking sessions; yet another field to explore, and an expert dropped right on my doorstep! I love my life, especially at the farm.

Jewels for Jules

Yesterday was my designated glass day. I had a request from my good friend Julie for some dichroic fused glass pins for her beautiful handmade purses, so I took the opportunity to spend the day in my little studio for the day. Below you see some of the nearly finished pieces in the glass kiln. After they cool, I remove them from the kiln and use the grinder to remove any sharp edges. Here they are, cooling on a ceramic tile.
A close up of one of the dichroic pieces. It was a good day to mind the kiln while I went through several of the unfinished project-piles, and began to organize my room for holiday crafts. Altogether, a satisfying day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekends are for Family and Friends

If you were a 7 year old boy sleeping over at your Grammy's place, would the sight of these glowing eyes give you nightmares? Not MY 7 year old grandson. It made him giggle. Sneaky Hobie has a nest on the upper shelf in the spare room, and Trevor spotted it. You may recall how fearless he is from the picture of him with Louie on October 13 (Da Boyz).
Below: Odd Friends
(at the Farm)
Autumn at the Farm, from the Indoor Ring.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Farm Country

I had a wonderful lunch with my mother, in her home in Fleetwood today. She served up a local specialty, apple dumplings. It's been an apple-y week. Funny how we hunger for those things that come into season. It was good to spend a little time together catching up.
Mom has been crocheting her heart out for the annual church bazaar. She donates her work every year. Mom's hands are always busy, and you can see how the years have bent them to their activities. We compared fingers today; mine are just starting to change, but I will follow in her footsteps. We wear our pasts. These old bodies tell a story.
When we were still teaching, I had a group of drawing students that were working on skeletal drawings. They were disinterested until we talked about the fact that our bones can tell the stories of our lives; a fracture, a bent bone, a calcium deposit; forensic anthropology would be a fascinating field. The students drew with more interest after that talk.
I stopped at Renninger's on the way home. The photo above is deceptive; only the indoor market is open now. While it was fun to look at everything, my only purchases were a jug of cider and a small antique primer which I'll donate to the Heller Homestead. The owner signed the back of the book. Their name was Wasser. I'm sure there were Wassers in Wassergass. The cider is unpasteurized. I'm more interested in unpasteurized products lately, as I'm convinced that the local bacteria are more beneficial than harmful. Besides, if I should happen to want hard cider, this is the way to go. ;)
Home again, then off to the farm to milk. Goats don't go away if you're busy. They always bring me home.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Kathy welcomed a new addition today: a sweet little puppy named Faith (just like my goat!).
Little Faith is an Australian Cattle Dog, and will one day be an asset to the farm. Right now, she's just so darn cute! She was a rescue dog; and she found the best possible home for a dog of her breed!
She was a little overwhelmed by all of the new sights, smells and sounds. Kathy's lap was a welcome home-base! Snuggles.
I'm happy to say that Mica is already teaching Faith to listen to Kathy, and they both follow her outside already. Mica also spent a good part of the evening grooming Faith. I believe he thinks he has a new baby sister!
Good Dog!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sometimes it's the Box.

You know how little children and pets often enjoy the box the present came in more than the gift itself? I had a similar experience recently, though the contents (natural wool roving from Sheep Shed Studio) were mighty wonderful as well.
You'll see why I loved the box in a moment; first, the gory details.
I decided to make a portfolio for my artwork.
Below: The interior.
Now, who could toss away all of those beautiful stamps? These people must have a great sense of humor, and I love how hands-on the effect is! I simply cut the box and laminated it with packing tape, taped up the edges and a few key seams, inserted a grosgrain ribbon and VOILA!
It's even personalized! Thank you, Sheep Shed Studio! (I'll post pictures of the yarn I'm spinning and the scarf I'm making when they're finished!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Now and Then

(October 21st)
And Then (August 29th)

Moo-ving On

Baby-cakes (as yet unnamed) is growing up. She allowed me to scratch her little horn buds today. She's growing fast; she now prefers the cows to the goats.
Momma Buttercup (on the right) and "Aunt" Daisy (on the left). Daisy may or may not be pregnant. We're not sure. But I do believe that she and Buttercup are in love.
Buttercup tells her all the local gossip.
Which Daisy finds shocking.
Seriously, Daisy must be going through some sort of hormonal issue; she was bred earlier in the year, but her due date has passed and there's no sign of a calf. She was arching her back and Buttercup was mounting her this afternoon, so I'm wondering if the breeding didn't take, and she's back in heat...OR if a new calf is coming. I don't know much about cows, but I do know their behavior is different lately. She was looking pretty frisky bloody show, so I'm guessing it's not a calf.
Of course, love IS in the air, since George and Herve have been bunking with the goatie girls this last week. Maybe it's catching...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2 Years Gone

John Schneller on his wave at Ledges
You brought me back to nature, through your love of the rivers. The best gift anyone could have given me.
You were as graceful in life as in your departure. You taught me so much.
You were beautiful.
You embraced my husband, and we were all friends together. You will always be in my heart. I miss you terribly. You were a perfect friend, an excellent boater and teacher, and a friend to the rivers. Gone 2 years now, my beloved friend, John.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shopping the Farms

A beautiful day in Amish country; my good friend Stephanie and I enjoyed the scenery en route to my mom's place in Fleetwood, just outside of Kutztown PA. (the site of my Alma mater, Kutztown University). On November 20th, K.U. will host an important Art Education conference, "Teaching Art with Gender in Mind", featuring Judy Chicago. Stephanie was involved in the project through her graduate work. I hope to attend.
My mother enjoyed showing Stephanie the map of Germany she has on her bedroom wall, and comparing locations with her. Like mine, Stephanie's family also emigrated from Germany due to the WWII. We are both first generation German Americans, and grew up with similar stories at our parents' knees. Though we are about a half-generation apart, there are many other similarities in our characters; I feel very lucky to have found such a good friend. I find it ludicrous that as each new ethnic group arrives in America we shun them in the same way until they become "acculturated", when our culture is such an amalgam of rich and varied ethnicities. Do we forget that most of us came here from somewhere else, too?
Mini pumpkin fields; this one looked like a field of tangerines.
We stopped at a few produce stands, as well as this store, where we bought wonderful bulk dry goods and canning supplies. I stocked up on lentils, quinoa, and store-made pasta. We are so fortunate to have the Amish and Mennonite farms still thriving in our area. They provide beautiful, wholesome natural foods, and maintain the historic farmlands that are so rapidly disappearing elsewhere. We're both committed to eating locally, thereby supporting the efforts of local farmers and reducing our carbon footprint. It just feels right.
Momma and child (BIG child), at the entrance to Meadow View Farm, a Mennonite farm in Bowers, and the instigator of the annual Chile Pepper Festival. HOT, HOT, HOT!!!
Meadow View Farm rocks. Not only do the sell the finished products, they carry every hot pepper you can imagine, as well as smoked hot peppers, sweet peppers, other less feisty vegetables, and earlier in the season, the very plants that produce these gems! What a wonderful place! YEEE HAAA! CALIENTE! I'm looking forward to a spicy winter!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Open House #2

Lamp Working Demo
Today was Open House #2 at Flint Hill Farm. Among the day's many varied events, Stephanie and I made (and demonstrated making) a batch of goat milk soap, and set up our crafts exhibit which included her ceramic leaves, lamp worked jewelry, horsehair jewelry and soap and cotton washcloths.
Above, I'm showing a group of visitors how to make a lamp worked glass bead. During the course of the day, I made about 10 of them.
I also discussed horsehair weaving and showed a few in-process samples.
When everything calmed down, after I packed up, I milked the goats and put them to bed for the night. They were relieved to be inside and settled, though the sun finally made an appearance just around the time I started milking (which truly made me happy!). Below, you see my view from the goat-barn door. The team was tired after being worked all day (they pull a long wooden wagon for the people to ride; see Flint Hill Does Rodale, HERE), and enjoyed being unhitched and rubbed down for the night.
I'll sleep well tonight. Tomorrow: Amish Country, and a visit with my mom!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

George is a Rock Star

Just put a guitar around his neck and add some stage lighting, and he'd look like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, complete with adoring groupie.
You thought I was kidding about his tongue hanging out? NOT.
Bisque (the doe with him in this picture) was drenched from his kisses
when she came in to be milked.
All the girls love George. George is in rut. Here's a great little story from Hobby Farms about a kindred spirit of his, Martok. Taking a break, amidst his adoring fans. I expect lots of little Georges and George-ettes in the spring. By the way...Billy Goats smell like salted pecans.

In the Moment

I have to say that I'm feeling pretty upset these days. I am not used to being called names, and having my integrity questioned. I am upset with the media more than the people doing the name-calling, for delivering half of the story. It is demeaning to everyone, and is wounding our community. I'm not going to comment further on it, but I have to say that the way people are reacting is breaking my heart. I love teaching, and my students, and I give more than I get, by choice. After 22 years in the profession, I'm feeling pretty low. That's me, by the way...the unfashionably dressed one in the teal jacket, with the river hat on. I'm always so stylistically ignorant that I can be counted on to dress differently than everyone else...and not on purpose.
Once, about 10 years ago, I was on a river trip in my kayak with the Lehigh Valley Canoe Club. We were in class 3 rapids, and I was getting pushed around a bit, being a fairly new boater. As we were descending a particularly rocky rapid, my entire boat got pushed up onto a rock...not on purpose. I was high and dry, just sitting there. A buddy went by, and said "nice move!". I explained that I had nothing to do with it; I was just flotsam. He said "you SHOULD say TA-DAAA!!!". So, as far as the lack of style goes...TA DAAA!
Below, you'll see two goats in "love"...he's whispering sweet nothings in her ear. They always bring me back into the present moment. I call it "barn therapy". As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a Good Thing".
Peter and I had a romantic evening of our own. He won two tickets to see David Jacobs-Strain at Godfrey Daniel's Coffeehouse in Bethlehem, PA. Now, as you can imagine, we're watching our money, as I'm on an involuntary vacation right now. Our schedules had us both obligated elsewhere before dinner, so I carried a thermos of ratatouille with bread and turkey turnovers to his building on the Lehigh University campus. We were the only ones in the building, and ate dinner on a little table in the hall. It reminded me of was sweet.
Peter is a researcher there. He's a mechanical engineer, and loves to tinker. I have to call him to remind him to come home, most days. Like today...Saturday, 7 PM. No Peter. I'm glad he's happy.
Inside at Godfrey Daniels
The space is intimate; it's a BYOB, though they serve coffee, tea and some snacks on site. It's dark, and comfortable, and the oldest non-profit musical venue in the United States. I love Godfrey's...and even though I'll admit to being musically challenged, I have ALWAYS enjoyed myself there. Every artist I have seen there has been well met by the audience, and has left me changed somehow.
David Jacobs-Strain was no exception. This young artist from Oregon is the most versatile, talented new blues musician I have seen. Despite my challenges, I have experienced many years of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, I used to go to Grendel's Lair near Philly, I've been to Warmdaddy's and the Deerhead Inn (though they're mainly jazz...which I actually prefer these days), and many other places in my almost-52 years of life. I cut my teeth on blues. I attend the Pocono Blues Festival occasionally, and have enjoyed parts of the Easton Blues Festival; past boyfriends were musicians, even if I wasn't. I get it; I love it. And this guy was GOOD.
So Peter and I enjoyed a night out, free of charge except for the bottle of wine he brought. We had a great time, and I realized just how much I've missed music. Like visual art, like my goats, like spending time in nature, it brings us to the moment, and clarifies what is real. Angst goes away. We celebrate being alive.
I slept well last night for the first time since the strike was called. I dreamt I was in a different place, a place where we could manipulate the world directly with our minds. There were wonderful details, too rich to go into right now, but the key to surviving in this world as a "foreigner" was to live experientially, in the moment, as I described above.
The mind and our working dreams are wonderful things. All of the answers are there, if we can just find them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Earl Update

Earl was about to be released back to the Parkway, despite his need for rehabilitation from his stroke. Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers who feed him (and a few well placed emails to the mayor's office and the local newspaper), Earl has gotten the help he needs. His case worker from two years ago has been located, and his medicare status has been confirmed, so he is on his way to getting the proper care.
The fact that all these different people work together to help this man is just so beautiful to me.

Walking in the Rain

Walking the the Rain.
Funny, there were no hecklers today, except for the two drive-by rude gestures.
Some Citizens are With Us. These were a Gift. When I Arrived at the Farm, it Began to Snow. The Girls Were Inside. Here's George, Holding Court.