Monday, April 27, 2009

It's a wild life.

I boiled a chicken, stripped the bones and boiled them and the skinny cartilaginous bits to make chicken stock. This, of course, coincided with a heat wave. I was very happy with the temperature between 60 and 70. It was at least 95 on Friday. It hasn't been quite so hot since and the daffodils are holding up nicely.

So, chicken soup: I strained it and wanted to offer some to the cats, particularly Nigel as he is a vacuum cleaner. I put it on a plate on the porch and forgot about it. At night, Marten scratched at the window and said he wanted to come in. I went to the door and there was ALREADY a kitty there eating the chicken, a nice BLACK and WHITE kitty with a PLUMY TAIL. The not-really-a-kitty kind of skunk-kitty. Who, fortunately, was not too bothered and left. Marten ignored him.

That was last night.

Saturday Sarah came over. Because of her job in a nature center she has some odd habits and some odd things in the back of her car,, to which she has added carrying a stuffed (roadkilled) bobcat. It has a lifelike pose, just a little taller and a little longer than Marten. Willow thought it was awful. She crept up almost to it, her tail fluffed, but changed her mind and slinked away. Then Marten showed up. He had no interest in it until he saw its face, when he fluffed up. Sarah, who claims to be a nice person, bumped the bobcat with her hand. It fell over and the two cats fled ZIP!!! under the cars.

Nigel touched noses with it. He's either quite intelligent or quite dumb.

Sarah's cats still hadn't gotten over it after a couple of hours of it being in their home.

Sarah's cat Abbey upon meeting "Bob"

The sink is now fully installed, the last piece of counter is ordered, and the stove is in process. After many calls to GE, we established that the adapter for liquid propane had actually not come a) installed, or b) in a plastic bag in the oven. It's now on order. I may actually move everything into the kitchen soon. Some of it for the second time. Whatever. It turns out that in hot weather the kitchenette is not nearly as attractive as the cavernous, cooler parts of the house, which will be an incentive. I had never spent any time here before last fall.

And now for some anthropology.

This is supposed to be a fiber-arty blog, with birds. The person who writes it, however, is not ashamed of being a science fiction and fantasy fan (maybe a touch defensive, but not ashamed). Fanfic (the Wikipedia entry is quite good, too) is a basic human desire, to take the good stories and add to them, maybe put yourself in. In Greek every two-bit village had a hometown boy who went to Troy, whose stories may or may not have been folded into the Iliad and the Odyssey. In mediaeval Europe, there were the tales of Arthur and his knights, who may have started out post-Roman Britons, seasoned with some magic cups from Wales and spiced up when the French got in on the act and put Lancelot in. Pre-literate fanfic, oral tradition, eventually met up with publication-- which can be immortality or zombie-fied stasis (The Once and Future King suggests that not all oral tradition is dead, along with new versions of Beowulf from Seamus Heany, Neil Gaiman and friends, and John Gardner). It's very hard to keep a good archetype down, and some stories are too good to leave alone.

By the late 20th century the archetypes were all over the place on TV, but no itinerant minstrels to promote them. (This was after movable type, but before plain-paper copiers.) There were expensively self-printed zines available, sometimes with COLOR! if you knew where to look, sometimes for sale at science fiction conventions, but years would pass between chapters in a serial. The writers, always an unreliable lot, had to be herded, and editted, and the editors had to come up with a substantial sum of money (this was before 'yuppie food stamps' and hedge funds). I was particularly impressed by one friend of mine who couldn't afford the $25-$45 for the zines in the Robin of Sherwood fandom. So she had poems published in all of them and got complimentary copies.

I survived high school writing pretty bad Star Trek fanfic (this was before there was more than one kind of Star Trek. Or more than a couple of Star Wars movies, either, thank God). It wasn't great art, but it was a good place to go and as the years passed it caused occasional self-discovery (like when I noticed how fed up my character was trying to pass for Earth-normal. I was living in England at the time. Alien angst, how interesting.) It is possible I may have written fan fiction about other TV shows, as well as original fiction. Eventually, mostly because of Katherine Kurtz, I fell in among some other literate fans and felt a little less freakish. (This was before, above all, before the Internet. You're not alone any more. Whoever you are. Even if you shouldn't exist.)

So one grows out of things, not enough to deprive me of some strong opinions about what constitutes Star Trek's canon (my God, there are articles on _everything_ on the Internet!) (and no, I won't be seeing the movie unless there is some STRONG recommendation), but I never had the hankering to write about Buffy or X-Files, even though I had strong convictions about some of the plot lines and how they ought to have gone. I haven't (skritched) it no more.

And for awhile I was TV free and snotty about it. And the Internet struck again. Then last week, for various reasons probably along the lines of 'idle hands,' I happened to Google 'Fanfic' the other day.

O Brave New World! or possibly, Holy CRAP!!!

I haven't delved too deeply, but have a look at this: There is fan fic about comics? about songs? about TV from the 70's _and they are still writing it as of this month? Alias Smith and Jones only lasted about three seasons, for goodness sake! and there's 90 stories or fragments up! More than Thirty-five THOUSAND Buffy fics? M*A*S*H? Teletubbies? Fics about Bill Nye the Science Guy? Mammoths having "Ice Age" sex?

If we could harness the energy of the inner and outer teenagers who write this, we could end world hunger.

But we'd still be hungry for stories about people we know and love and who, we know, would NEVER act like that. But they might.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In which I lose all my elitist cred

Television.' I don't watch it. After the 'meh?' ending of Buffy; after the God-awful stringing along of the last season of the X-Files... particularly after I moved to New Hampshire, where a cable connection would cost $2600 to run in from the road... true, there is something called Satellite TV, sadly not broadcasting news from the Lunar colony...

A couple years ago Paul the contractor got all moved with pity and installed an aerial, only the VCR was stuck on 'safe mode' and as God is my witness I could only see PAX TV. These things, they don't inspire a deep desire for connectivity. I 'watched' the presidential election on various radio and tv feeds on my computer. Sometimes I would watch DVDs on my computer. Then my son, the media fan, sent me a link to The Middleman. It was good (and of course, it was cancelled, but you can get it on iTunes or as a DVD). I also knew my daughter was watching Battlestar Galactica online.

Then I discovered Hulu.
So I idly started watching Dollhouse, which is so-so, not awful. And Kings, which is pretty maybe not too good, but I like the in-jokes with the Bible. My mom was watching Better off Ted (ABC) and it made me smile, particularly with the screaming. ABC suggested I should watch 'Castle', which involves Nathan Fillion of Firefly and snide remarks and intelligent humor. I really like it. ABC also thought I would like "The Unusuals," which is no "Castle" but is all right, and "The Motherhood," which was stupid. I don't think watching people being stupid is funny. But still, I began to feel that I was accepting everything they offered, in my terrible sensory-deprivation, not-enough-social rural idyll.

Tonight I tried to like "Parks and Recreation," which has the nice woman who was SNL's Hillary Clinton. Oh MY GHOD. Wanted to laugh. Did NOT happen.

So I still have some faculties of discrimination.

And a pair of red-breasted nuthatches and the return of BamBam the yellow-bellied sapsucker. I do like spring.

Friday, April 10, 2009

we continue the great slog forward

It is a good day, when you have a nice cup of hot tea. Less when you pour half of it over your chest and a shirt you have just said is your favorite. Washer. Dry shirt. I haz them, so it's still a good day. And I am still trying to get the Kitchen-Aid Behemoth ready for Craigslist. It's nicely made, all its surfaces come out for washing.

Perhaps on Monday Paul will be able to figure how they go back in, because I am baffled. Also the second shirt got all wet. Could be worse.

I did not awake to a unicorn in my garden with a golden horn, but to a messy object chewing over things in the grass---shoots of something? Slugs? wormses? It was a porcupine, probably the one who was around three years ago as a Por-cutey-pie (my daughter's boyfriend said so) and took a chunk out of the porch where the road salt had sat. I see it once a year or so, and I tell myself the prickles are distinctive.

The are rodents, like Jabba the Chuck or beavers; like beavers, they walk on flat feet. I suppose the snuffling for things in the grass might seem Porc like, but they look more Spiny Bear to me.

Monday, April 06, 2009

First light

Now, possibly, I am cooking with gas! Wahoo!

Progress IS taking place in the Kitchen That Time Forgot. I was ogling my cabinets and asked Paul the contractor if people usually stared at their cabinets covetously. He said they often did when they had had to wait ten months for them.

There is still a lot of finish work to do and and one more counter to come. I am also waiting for him to finish attaching the sink (a new leak appears in the system every time he thinks This Will Be the Day).

I am trying for clean lines, crisp intuitive ergonomic organization. They (who do you think?) try to mess with me. This spice rack in a drawer, for instance? It is about 3mm too tall to fit in a standard kitchen drawer if you actually put the spice bottles that come with it into it. I was particularly happy that it did not come with jars filled with herbs and spices of unknown age and provenance. Anyone interested? It comes with two sets of labels, some for things I don't use (chervil? Celery seeds?).

The kitchenette is still somewhat too small and I will not regret the literally 18"X18" of counter it has, even with two microwave carts. Or the dwarfish fridge whose door I suspect of not sealing, with the automatically icing mini-freezer (in some time of great wealth, I hope to replace it). But it's a nice room and the cats and I have been happy here. Until I find a tenant, I can go on using it as as a sitting room.

Today I have been cleaning the previous fridge, a Kitchen Aid Behemoth (Superba) too big for the kitchen and at least ten years old (new more efficient smaller fridge for me), hoping I can find someone who wants the old one. Periodically I try to put something away in the new kitchen, but an immense, Lazy Susan needs assembly in a crucial cabinet. I remove things from the dining room table (on, under, and around), now occupying prime real estate in the living room, blocking me from the swift and an important bookshelf. Things I haven't used for ten months I can probably get rid of. How many thermos flasks does a person need? Must I use flatware? Should I retain the corn stickers? Why is everything covered with dust?

In brewing news, I was ready to bottle the cheap fast red but I turned out not to have enough bottles. Went to the Dump, sorry, recycling center, only to find that they had apparently just emptied the glass hopper. There was nothing. Since then it has been raining a lot and you would think people would be drowning their sorrows; I'll go back tomorrow. Drinking more myself would not help, since I am fond of a very cheap Shiraz in a box from Fish Eye.

We see almost no deer now that the snow has gone. But we did see a woodchuck scurrying under the former chicken hut. It was the size and roughly the same shape as Jabba the Hutt. Even if I had decent soil and a better work ethic, I wonder what the chances of a successful garden crop would be?

So last Wednesday Paul confided that his son had sent a text message to his girl friend and, as sometimes happens, it had sent itself to the person previous on the list, so Paul received "Dear Peggy, I really can't deal with you being pregnant. Are you sure?" Paul and I had a long and interesting talk about relative goods (if he were not an intransigent libertarian he would be quite tasty in many ways) and what he was going to say and how he hoped his son would bring the topic up.

April Fool!

I told his son I would kill him myself.

Paul and his son came by today to explain that they could not do kitchen as they would be fixing both Paul and his son's trucks. His son had driven his truck into his father's truck's rear end, messing with Paul's bumper and puncturing the son's oil filter, at least. We are lighting candles for the trucks' well-beings.

Still soggy, but with frog spawn.

Last Friday, April 3, was Salamander Big Night. It hasn't rained properly the last three years in early April, but the first spring I was here it rained all day and into the evening on April 8 (There is a blog entry with decent pictures but skip the prose).

Sarah, who is having crazy times at work, in a good way, called in a state of high excitement and pointed out that it was well over 40, had been raining all day, and would into the night, so she was coming for Big Night. This year I did not have debilitating cramps and it wasn't raining as hard as 2005, more of a light mist. We walked up and down my rutted dirt road for two and a half hours and saw (unsquashed) 27 peepers,

peeper,frog hyla crucifer,amphibian

a woodfrog,

frog,wood frog

a greenfrog, four spotted salamanders,

Yellow-spotted salamander,salamander,amphibian

and a red-backed salamander. (Squashed: three peepers, three woodfrogs, a couple of greenfrogs and one spotted salamander. Cars. And the traffic was quite light.) We also saw innumerable rocks, twigs, and leaves masquerading as amphibians. One of the sticks turned out to be the red-backed salamander, a species who are entirely terrestrial and had no need to go gallivanting to the nearest vernal pool. I think this one wanted to know what all the excitement was.

I took a video of a pool full of woodfrogs a hundred yards down the road from my driveway; the picture isn't much, but I hope you like the sound.