Friday, February 21, 2014


(There are two basic kinds of girl:
those who want to be a princess;
and those who want to be a pioneer.)

On a frozen winter evening
In a barn down at the dairy
Sits a maiden on a tall stool
Dressed in jeans and rubber boots.
In her hand she has a copy
Of a National Geographic
Which she reads in stolen moments
From her labors cold and wearing
Midst the smell of fresh manure,
And the pulsing sound of milkers
While the Holsteins chew their barley.

There between the yellow covers
Is the story of far travel:
Down a river called Zambezi
Sixteen hundred miles of water
From Zambia to Namibia
Round the corner to Botswana
Back to Zambia, past Zimbabwe
Over vast Victoria Falls.
Mozambique, then to the ocean
Rolls the river of Zambezi
Full of snorting, lumpy hippos.

There dwell baboons, snakes (black mambas)
Elephants, oxpeckers, catfish.
Crocodiles yawn in the shadows.
Cormorants fly overhead.
There the people fish the channels,
Paddle canoes full of cargo
As they have for generations
To the towns along the river
Where, “To travel is to dance.”

Soon the maiden at the dairy
Puts away her hasty reading,
Goes back to the heavy Holsteins;
Washes warm and steaming udders
While the motor of the milkers
And the country music station
Accompanies her wishing
To do something in her lifetime
That few women ever do.

E. Black 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


January 28, 2008 was just another Monday.  We had heaps of snow and the wind was roaring out of the southwest between 30 to 40 mph.  DH left for work and I was almost ready to go myself when I heard a loud CRASH.  I ran around the house and looked out all the windows to see if I could see any damage.  I thought maybe a giant pile of snow had broken loose and avalanched off the roof.  Or maybe someone had missed the turn and crashed into our house.  But nothing looked out of place. Then when I went outside to start my car I saw what had happened.

 Years ago DH put up a big tower for the antenna of his amateur radio.  Although I told him I thought it was a bad idea; he decided to stretch one of the guy wires across the roof and anchor it to the cinderbrick chimney of our fireplace.

 After being tugged back and forth by the tower in every wind, the chimney finally snapped off just above the roof line.  The big noise I heard was broken bricks crashing to the metal roof and almost breaking through it.  

I went inside and called DH.  Then, fearing the heavy debris might fall all the way through the living room ceiling I pushed my glass front nick-knack cabinet to another corner of the room all by myself.  It’s amazing what the power of adrenalin can do.

DH came home and we went up to the attic to view the damage from the inside.  We found two roof joists split, but not broken, and that section of the roof sagging under the load.  The first thing that needed to be done was to remove the weight.  The roof is steep and slick so this would not be an easy task.  DH wanted to climb a ladder which would have to be set in the shrubs against the house.  The whole idea sounded so treacherous in so many ways. 

I suggested he talk to the men who were working on a building not far away.  They were using a large hydraulic lift to raise big bundles of shingles to the top of their construction.  Maybe they would help us? 

Early the next morning DH walked over to the building site and talked to the workers.

Almost before he could get home they had their big machine backed up to the house and a guy was asking where to throw the bricks.

I tried not to complain when DH told them to just toss them into my rose garden.  Fortunately the heavy snow broke the fall of the debris so little damage was done to the roses or the travertine pathway.

 DH asked the workers how much they needed as payment for the work.  They said, “No charge, we needed to warm up the lift anyway,” and drove it back to their job.  Later my dear hubby brought lumber up to the attic and braced and repaired the damage there.

This was one of the first posts I put up on my blog.  Somehow the original ended up in cyberspace.  I decided this event deserved to be preserved so I've posted it again.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CLOUD SPOTTING--Legitimizes Doing Nothing

My photo of summer thunderheads
The wonderful thing about clouds is they are egalitarian.  That is, they favor all people equally since we all have a view of the sky.

My photo of mammatus clouds ready to dump a hail storm
I was reminded of this while watching Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s TED Talk about the Cloud Appreciation Society.  

My photo of an approaching cloud burst
He encourages all of us to return to doing something we excelled at when we were kids—looking up at the clouds and letting our imaginations run wild.

A sign in the heavens from a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society
This activity can save us considerable amounts in psychoanalysis by looking for shapes and analyzing our thoughts.

The Grim Reaper captured by a cloud spotter
Pretor-Pinney is the founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society.  He asks each of us to slow down, calm down and see the exotic which can be found in the every day.

Another cloud lover is the storm chaser, Camille Seaman.

Her photos of what she calls “lovely monsters,” the supercells, are amazing and beautiful.  You can see more of them in her short talk found here.

Green clouds over our house.
Even when we are enduring the rotten weather of late winter it’s a good idea to take a step off the digital treadmill, look up and admire the sky.

My post about green clouds.