Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rafters, Part 1

Here's where we're stalled, with two thirds of the rafters up, roof tin stacked neatly to the side. We're waiting on more rafters from the sawmill.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Lycopersicomancy: Divination through tomatoes. It stands to reason that someone who tries to read messages in Tater Bug markings and mouse scratchings would stop and look at this tomato and wonder what it means.

This year, I tried an old-time tomato variety called "Cherokee Purple." We've been very pleased with the tomatoes, which are dark red with green shoulders. The only thing is, most of the plants produce double, triple, and I-don't-know-how-many fused tomatoes, growing in strange spirals.

A local character is supposed to have remarked, at the sight of something strange, "It's a sign. I don't know what it means, but it's a sign." That's the way I feel about these tomatoes. On one hand, perhaps they have predicted correctly a good tomato yield--blight-free, insect resistant plants and firm, juicy, dark-fleshed tomatoes--delicious fresh and excellent in sauces. On the other hand, they might foretell the End Times.

Whatever the message, I had to make up the term Lycopersicomancy. The Romans had no tomatoes, not for salads, sauces, or augury. It wasn't until long after Latin dropped out of daily use that Europeans named these American fruits lycopersicum, which means "wolf peach." When I checked spelling on the scientific name at the USDA Plants Database, I was surprised to discover that we're back to Linnaeus's name, Solanum lycopersicum L. Botany Photo of the Day explains (with taxonomic references):

The scientific name for the tomato in general use for over two hundred years was Lycopersicon esculentum. However, molecular studies in the past fifteen or so years have helped to shift the name back to the one originally assigned by Linnaeus, Solanum lycopersicon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Something Overhead

The walls are up, both exterior and interior, and the ceiling beams are in place as well. It's easier now for me to visualize it as a house, with rooms and windows to look out. Quite exciting!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Clean Fun

With the walls going up, we realized we needed to run out and buy a bathtub, since tub-shower combinations are too big to go through doors. I really liked the packaging slogan!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Walls Going Up

The walls are going up. It's beginning to look a little bit like a house!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

White Pine Subfloor

The subfloor is white pine. Such pretty white wood--it seems a shame to cover it up. Fortunately, I'll be able to go down to the cellar and look up at a section of it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Floor Joists

There's been visible progress on the house. At last, something is happening above ground level.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Galluses and Coincidences

I learned a new word the other day in conversation: "galluses." A couple of questions later, I knew we were talking about suspenders for holding up one's britches, particularly when wearing a tool belt.

Here's the Wikipedia entry for Suspenders:

Suspenders or Galluses, known as Braces in British English, are elastic fabric straps worn over the shoulders to hold up trousers. The entire strap of braces may be elasticated, or only at attachment ends, with the most of the straps being of woven cloth with either a X-Back or Y-back crosspatch and leather end tabs. Braces typically attach to trousers with clips or, less commonly nowadays, with buttons. In British English the term suspenders or suspender belt refers to a garter belt, used to hold up stockings.

So here's another potentially embarrassing American English/British English confusion to add to "vests" and "knickers." An American gentleman, such as Larry King, looks dignified when he wears suspenders on his television show, while in Britian, a gentleman in suspenders is more likely to occur in a Benny Hill skit. But I digress.

Not three days after I learned the meaning of "galluses," I came across this passage in Collected Stories of William Faulkner:

There are other men among us now whose families are in want; men who, perhaps, would not work anyway, but who now, since the last few years, cannot find work. These all attain and hold to a certain respectability by acting as agents for the manufacturers of minor articles like soap and men's toilet accessories and kitchen objects, being seen constantly about the square and the streets carrying small black sample cases....

...."He's a man yet. Don't let hit fool you none because he claims he ain't strong enough to work. Maybe hit's because he ain't never wore his strength down toting around one of them little black satchels full of pink galluses and shaving soap...."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Devil's Darning Needles

I've been trying to identify this growth on a wild clematis, but without success. The orange scabby things remind me of the hawthorn fruits hijacked by a rust fungus, but the typical rusts that infest clematis are leaf-spots and small growths on leaves.

In my Web search, I did come across a new (to me) common name for Clematis virginiana L. from the USDA Plants Database: "Devil's Darning Needle." In my world, a Devil's Darning Needle is a dragonfly, and I seem to remember being told they would come and sew shut the lips of little children who asked too many questions. I'm not sure what Clematis virginiana L. is expected to sew up. I believe it is more commonly known as Virgin's Bower, and I cannot speculate on the origin of that name.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Fly Season

The apple tree by our house is a popular deer destination this time of year, and this poor fellow is a regular visitor. It's very stressful to be fly-bitten like this, and he stamps and twitches, jumps and runs in futile attempts to escape the torment. It's hard to enjoy your dinner like this.