Monday, April 27, 2009

New House Update--Siding!

Work on the new house has started again! We got our hemlock siding, and other things we need to finish the exterior last week, and Friday, subtle changes in our stalled project were apparent. I hope there will be more exciting photographs this week.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Crazy Week of Weather

The past week has been a little confusing, weather-wise. Last weekend, we had some warm spring weather, and our daffodils put on a fine display. They smelled heavenly, and I've never known these particular plants to have a fragrance before.

Quite a few leaf buds popped open--buckeye, cherry, hop hornbeam, hawthorn....It looked like spring might finally be here.

Later in the week, we had rain and hail. Next day, we had snow all day. Now, we're in a run of 80 to 90 degree F weather. What next?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting and Spending, We Lay Waste Our Powers

"Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers...." An Earth-Day inspired article, Waste Not, Want Not by Bill McKibben reminded me that the Romantic poets were spot-on about the Industrial Revolution. The news sites I follow have featured environmental news and commentary along these lines:

In the end, we built an economy that depended on waste...Making enough money to build houses with rooms we never used, and cars with engines we had no need of, meant wasting endless hours at work. Which meant that we had, on average, one-third fewer friends than our parents' generation. What waste that! "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers," wrote Wordsworth. We can't say we weren't warned.

The economic mess now transfixing us will mean some kind of change. We can try to hang on to the status quo--living a Wal-Mart life so we can buy cheaply enough to keep the stream of stuff coming. Or we can say uncle. There are all kinds of experiments in postwaste living springing up: Freecycling, and Craigslisting, and dumpster diving, and car sharing (those unoccupied seats in your vehicle--what a waste!), and open sourcing. We're sharing buses, and going to the library in greater numbers....

It's not that I don't take these things seriously--my parents remembered the depression after World War I as well as the Dustbowl, and I never felt comfortable spending money on stuff in suburbia, back when I had the income to cover it. It's just that these endless discussions of lifestyle modification are so repetitive, and generally involve at least a little whining.

That's why I was so pleased to find a reference to Susan Strasser's book, Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, including a generous two-chapter sample from Google Books.

She provides a review of how people have seen household and industrial trash from Harriet Beecher Stowe's household hints through the swill children of New York City to today's freegan dumpster divers. It's refreshing to get a really different perspective on waste and recycling. ("Fresh" isn't quite the word for it....) I particularly liked Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe's distinction between

"cunningly devised minces" made from leftovers by "the true domestic artist" with "those things called hashes...compounds of meat, gristle, skin, fat, and burnt fibre, with a handful of pepper and salt flung at them, dredged with lumpy flour, watered from the spout of the teakettle, and left to simmer at the cook's convinience while she is otherwise occupied."....Unfortunately, cookbook writers had trouble describing exactly how to achieve a cunning mince instead of a forgettable hash....

That is the rub, isn't it? Sometimes hash is best forgotten, especially if it sports much "burnt fibre."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yew Piney Mountain

You never know what you'll run across on line; I found Pocahontas County musician Pam Lund playing banjo with fiddler Dave Bing on "Yew Piney Mountain." The Yew Mountains, aka the Yew Pine Mountains, are in the Cranberry Wilderness Area here. The fiddle may catch your ear first, but listen for Pam's banjo. No muss, no fuss, just as good as it gets.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter Greetings, 1907

One more Easter sooth my seasonal nostalgia for baby chicks.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

We're Linux (and We Like Doughnuts)

There was a contest to make a Linux commercial to match the humorous "I'm a Mac" commercials Apple ran on television, which Microsoft followed with heartwarming "I'm a PC" ads. The winners of "I'm Linux" can be seen at He's a Mac, he's a PC, but we're Linux.. The commercial above is one of the top five, but not the winner. I like it best; the final voice-over is spoken with mouths full of doughnuts. Very evocative of late nights in the cube-farm.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Websites and Other Projects

Things have been a bit hectic here on Droop Mountain, but it's been a good kind of busy--that is, the kind that generates income. I've added some more part-time teaching jobs to my collection. The only down side has been that each job-let requires as much paperwork as a new full-time job, with ordering grad school transcripts, proof of citizenship, proof of valid public school teaching license, pre-service training, etc. Getting all that done has amounted to yet another job. However, I believe the end of this unpaid, unfun job is in sight.

Meanwhile, over At Home On Spice Ridge I've felt confident enough about my Drupal skills to take the Web 2.0 version live. Cron is still not acting right, and I have lots more work to do, but I believe I'll be able to back up the database and rebuild the site in case of disaster.

The same goes for Pocahontas County History. Both the historical society's archives and the home page are functional, if not yet full of juicy data. Week before last, an actual history researcher looking for information on Rev. William T. Price used the database to request access to his papers. I was amazed to find that all the Archon bells and whistles worked to send me (the database administrator) an e-mail. The researcher has an appointment to visit the museum and meet with the appropriate Rev. Price expert. Data will be shared. Arcane knowledge will reach the person who wants it. I feel so fulfilled! (Really. That might sound a little sarcastic, but it's not. I get excited over the darndest things.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Be Your Easter Day, 1912

"Happy Be Your Easter Day," with bleeding-hearts. Addressed to "Miss Florance Williamson, Prescott, Iowa." The message reads" Nevinville, Iowa, April 3--1912. Dear Florance, Do not eat too many eggs on Easter. They are not good, for you. Wish you many joys on that day Your Friend, Grace I. Haynes."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Peace Be Thine

Easter Bunnies. Postmarked "St. Paul, MINN, March 20, 1913" and addressed to "Miss F. Williamson, Williamson, Adams County, Iowa." "Dear Florence, I received your pretty St. Patrick card. Was glad to hear from you. We girls wished that we could be down with you for the good time that you are going to have. We are having awfully cold weather for this time of year. Love from all of us, Edna C."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Eggs and Forget-Me-Nots, 1908

More seasonal cards from Florence Williamson's Souvenir Album. The message reads: "Thanks for the pretty postal. I should like to come home very much but can't leave because Grandma is very poorly. Would like to see you. Anna" Postmarked "Prescott, Iowa, April (?), Prescott, Iowa."