Friday, March 30, 2012

The End of March

I am not sorry to see this weird weather month end. The temperatures have been up and down.  Everybody wants to get out and take a chance on planting, but then you have a day like today where there is freezing rain mixed with snow.  All the snow we had melted in about three days and it has been mostly windy and warm, but the ground is still cold and frozen just beneath the surface.  I'm glad I did not try making maple syrup this year; I think this may have been a bad year for it.  I am waiting for bug season to come upon us with a vengeance and have already seen my first mosquito. Ugh! 

Tom has been building the tables for the greenhouse.  They look really nice.  This picture was taken before he had them all finished.  I am keeping the hot peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants down in the basement for now, but the cool weather veggies in their flats are going straight out into the greenhouse. 

I took a stroll out in the forest garden and was very glad to see that the thymes, lovage, and several of the other herbs survived and are already starting to green up.  The fruit trees are still dormant though I can see that something has been chewing on them so it will be a while yet before I can say how they are faring.

The garlic is starting to pop up in one of the garden boxes, and the rhubarb, horseradish, walking onions, and sorrel are off to a flying start.  I turned the soil over in the other two boxes and will wait for the soil to warm up before direct planting any lettuces, beets, radishes, and spring carrots. 

I have been steadily working on my pole piles.  Here's one of them:

It's slow going just using my handsaws, but I really like using them.  I bought a Japanese crosscut saw and that is the best handsaw I've ever used.  I thought I would not like the handle on it, but it is really a very comfortable tool to use and the handle is just fine.  I also have a Western saw that I like to use, but I actually prefer using the Japanese saw; it cuts through wood as if it was butter.  I like thinning out the trees and knowing that the poles will come to good use.  The birds sit up in the surrounding trees twittering and watching you work, something they don't do when you use power saws.  The bigger poles will go out to the field for hops poles, and the others are for trellises and fencing.  I saw a badger running underneath a pile of balsams that the loggers left down by the West marsh (where I planted the cranberries last year) so I will leave that pile alone. I am not going to begrudge a badger anything!

Inside chores abound and April's calendar of various appointments is filling up fast so this busy year is rolling right along.  The wild animals are busy, too.  I've seen plenty of turkeys and deer in the yard already, sand hill cranes and bald eagles flying high, and another fox and wolf passing through, bold as can be.  

For a look at this year's weather forecast, scroll down the March 20th entry on  Theodore White's Global Astrology blog.  I like his blog even though I don't necessarily agree with some of his views.

Talk to you soon!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Feast of St. Joseph

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, one of the more special Feast Days in the Calendar of Saints of Roman Catholicism.  Those of you who read this blog will know that I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, but (for many reasons) I am not a practising Catholic any more even though I appreciate many of the old customs like remembering certain Feast Days. 

St. Joseph is honored in three aspects of life that I know of:  St. Joseph the Patron as foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph the Provider, and St. Joseph the Worker.  Statues of him as Patron show him holding a lily and the Infant Jesus; as the Provider he holds a jug and loaf of bread; and, as the Worker he holds a carpenter's square and maul.  In my family we prayed the Prayer of St. Joseph  only when we were in most serious straits; there is a tradition of caveat emptor here -- St. Joseph is one of the Saints of a happy death and if God grants you the help you ask for through the intercession of St. Joseph, you had better be ready to give back to God whatever St. Joseph requires of you. Tit for tat. Nothing is free. I figure St. Joseph must have been a right firm disciplinarian.  And believe you  me, pay back is swift and never what you think it will be.  I have said this Novena only once in my life.

I have a little statue of St. Joseph the Provider on my kitchen window sill.  We say "hi" to each other whenever I'm at the sink.  I keep a dollar bill underneath him because it is said that if you do so, you will always have money and food in the house. You can put a larger sum beneath him if you want.  (Of course then you will always have money in the house  -- you have him sitting on top of some!) 

You can put money under St. Joseph the Worker, too.  In this instance, he watches over your career.  If I was looking for a job or better money at work, I'd be talking to St. Joseph the Worker.

St. Joseph is probably best asked for help in buying and selling homes, and I have heard lots of really weird things that people do with statues of St. Joseph in this regard.  When we put our house up for sale in Illinois I simply put my little statue of St. Joseph in a corner of the back yard and had him facing away from the house.  Our house was on the market for less than a month and we accepted the winning bid (we had several) for the price we wanted on -- you guessed it -- the Feast of St. Joseph!  I made sure I retrieved St. Joseph from the back yard and brought him with us to our new house.

Some times people burn a blessed candle next to their statue of St. Joseph because it is said that when you light a blessed candle with your prayer, for as long as the candle burns St. Joseph intercedes for you before God.  This old practice is done with all saints.  When I went to church I used to like to light a candle before St. Germaine of Pibrac (my old parish in Illinois).  St. Germaine was a young handicapped woman who lived a miserable physical life of deprivation as a shepherdess in France and she was horribly abused by her stepmother.  She was only 24 years old when she died.  She is the Patroness of handicapped children, and I am very fond of her.  Anyway, I used to like lighting candles to ask God to grant his Grace to Germaine so she could shine before Him in especial Glory, that is until I discovered that after Mass the old ladies would go around the church and blow out everybody's candles so the church could make more money off the candles.   Just one of my many disillusions about organized religion.  Ah, well.  When I want to light any candles now, I buy my own.  Note:  true blessed candles are made of beeswax and blessed by a priest.

Then, it is also said that St. Joseph likes cloved apples so every now and then I will make him one and set it next to him. The kitchen usually smells pretty good for a while when I do that.

Just felt like sharing this little bit of lore with you.  Talk to you soon!

Friday, March 09, 2012


Hurray!  I received news yesterday that the Wisconsin Senate has rejected the ALEC mining bill (Assembly bill 426) and that Gogebic-Taconite has announced that it will leave the state.  Thanks go to Sens. Jauch and Dale Schultz and the great citizens of Wisconsin who fought so hard and chose to keep our beautiful environment over pollutive jobs.  Special recognition should go to Sen Schultz for being the lone Republican to take a moral stand against the party line.  Republicans in Washington should have this kind of moral conviction.  The Wisconsin legislative session ends on March 15th and it is unlikely that the mining bill will be resurrected before then.  The Penokee mine issue is a perfect example of what citizens can do when they choose to take a stand against corporate fascism and greedy people.

There are still some events coming up.  On March 16, Al Gedicks, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, will speak at the Bad River Lodge and Casino Convention Center from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. about the influence of the proposed mine on the indigenous people of the area.  Then between 1:30 - 2:30 p.m., Cyrus Hester from the Bad River Natural Resources Environmental Program, will speak on Resource Challenges and show a presentation of Last Mountain.  The day ends with a potluck dinner celebrating the victory over the mine. 

On March 18, Non-violent Roots for Change and the NVC (non-violent collective) will offer non-violent direct action training at the Northland College Sigurd Olson Center in Ashland from 1:00 - 6:00 p.m.  Visit the event page for more info and to R.S.V.P.

On the voting front, the Wisconsin Senate has passed its restrictive voter registration bill.  And, Dane County Judge David Flanagan has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the bill before the upcoming April 3 elections.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Check your voter registration status.

Here is a link to a nice 2012 Wisconsin Voting Guide courtesy of WTMJ 620 AM Newsradio.  On a personal note, Tom and I took Lara and Ed to get official state identification cards at the nearest DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office because the one they had expired.  We found that all identification cards were being processed through ONE office and that the waiting time was (when we were there several weeks ago) up to two weeks in order to receive the cards.  I have not been back to the DMV office to see if this has changed, but if you need a state ID for voting this year, I recommend you go to the nearest DMV office and get it now. 

Finally, tomorrow at the Capitol down in Madison will be a We Are Wisconsin rally  beginning at 1:00 p.m.  The event is supposed to be crowded and it is recommended that if you want to go try to take one of the regional buses (see the link above for locations).

Tomorrow is My-Own-True-Love's birthday so we are going to celebrate with some Chinese food and I made him a New York Style Diabetic Cheesecake

Take care and I'll talk to you soon!