Sunday, August 27, 2006
The hour has arrived, and I have to set my clock to get up in the morning for the first time since mid-June. I can no longer deny it....I have to go to work tomorrow. For those of you who are colleagues and are so kind to take the time to read my blog, I really am working on an attitude adjustment. I promise to be nice and positive tomorrow, but for now, Bah Humbug sums it up. :0)
PURPLE DATURA IN BLOOM !!!!
The blossom to the left slowly but surely began to unfold during this past week, and day before yesterday, it opened up into perhaps the most gorgeous blossom I've ever had here at the farm.
Photo #2 really doesn't do the beautiful and delicate curvature of the blossom justice. The flower is about 5" - 6" wide and is layered with a deep purple exterior that houses a snowy white, gently ruffled interior layer. And, the white center layer has another deep purple layer ruffle within it. I've seen very few things seen as breathtaking as this flower. (Unfortunately, a freaky and random rain/wind storm came up yesterday afternoon, breaking the flower off the stem. There are several more buds on the stalk, however.)
I brought the flower inside. Much to my surprise, it stayed open over night. Wild Datura blooms only last one day. This side shot gives an idea of the majesty of the flower. Needless to say, I'm watching the other buds like a hawk. I estimate it will be another week before the next one opens. I, of course, will be hovering over it with camera in hand!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
OK...Get ready...This is an offical blog whine.
Tomorrow is my last day of summer vacation because Monday morning I have to get up with the rest of the working world, put on something other than my farm clothes, retrieve my professional smile from the recesses of my inner self, and go to work. Once there, I'll have to sit in meetings for the next two weeks, pretend I'm listening, and hear the same "Welcome back...It's going to be a great year...So much has happened over the summer...We have a lot to accomplish this year...Let's be one happy family and bond" sort of stuff that I've listened to now for 30 years. (Yes, indeed, Monday marks the beginning of my 30th year as an educator!)
On a higher thought, I will be glad to see some of my colleagues...Mary Ann, my cool, creative, wonderful office mate, and I will get to hang out a bit every day...Dr. Tom will be just down the hall....Dr. Deb, the psych prof lives just down the hall and around the corner....And in a couple of weeks, students will be there, and I can settle in to teach, which is what I really enjoy.
I suppose once the routine sets in and I am more adjusted to being away from home during the day, I'll mellow out. But right now, my greatest wish is for summer to continue forever and for me to be able to enjoy my home, the farm, and my life without the interruption of work.
Too bad my last name isn't Hilton or Gates, huh?
End of whine.
Monday, August 21, 2006
I've never heard these lilies referred to as "Naked Ladies" until this year. I've always called them Surprise Lilies, simply because they send up shoots in a moment's notice, and they're often up and in bloom in a day's time. The other revelation I've had about them this summer is that they have a very light but intoxicating scent - -a somewhat sweetly fermented essence to my olfactory perception. This morning, they were beautiful in the sunlight coming over the hill, and since they won't be around for many days, I tried to capture their blossoms with my camera. These flowers also carry the spirit of my late mother-in-law, Sara Williams Wilder. They came from her garden years ago. In their pastel pinks, I see Sara's beautiful face and smile. She carried many secrets in her silence into the world of spirit...I'd like to be able to talk with her now.
On a couple of entirely different notes, since my heart rate took the plunge to 14 on a couple of occasions during my recent colonoscopy, the surgeon insisted that I see my family doctor to get her take on the tape from the procedure. My MD, who is the bestest I have ever, ever had, is out of the office for a while, so I saw a new person, and he didn't seem to think there was any sort of heart related issues involved. I could have told him that, but I will confess to being relieved at his assessment. He didn't even feel a stress test was called for, thank goodness. However, since I am no longer a "spring chicken, " I am publically committing myself to regular aerobic activity and attention to what I ingest. Enough said... :0)
And finally, there is another blossom about to open on a new flower I'm growing this year. It's a purple datura, and if it opens as beautifully as the wild datura I have all over the farm, then it's going to be a spectacular bloom. It should be appearing in a blog photo in the next couple of days. (I don't know what I'll do when the summer ends, frost arrives, and there will be no photos of flowers to share. Perhaps I'll go to colorful leaves!!) :0)
So, stay tuned. Sending all love from here at the farm on this beautiful August day.
Friday, August 18, 2006
This Texas Star Hibiscus plant came to me from my friend, Sue, last year, and I've nursed it along now through two growing seasons. Last summer, it was just a baby, so I pampered it carefully, not anticipating any blossoms. About six weeks ago, I noticed the beginnings of some buds on the tips of the stalks, and I've patiently watched them grow. For about the last week or so, the huge buds seemingly stopped growing, but they showed no signs of bursting open. I even called Sue to get her take on what I thought was a problem.
So, when I took my morning stroll around the farm a few minutes ago, I saw this burst of red (the photo really doesn't do it justice) off in the distance and ran to get my camera. Sure enough, the first bud opened, and this wonderful star flower was facing into the sun in the east. Needless to say, it was like the arrival of kittens or puppies for me, and I feel like the proud mother of my blooming plant. I also noticed that several other of the huge buds looked like they are ready to pop!
YEAH...Now I want to have these plants all over the farm!!!! If anyone wants some seeds to start next spring, just let me know...
Thursday, August 17, 2006
As Grandma Ruth would say, I've been "june-ing" around today inside the house rather than outside in the hot sun. Inspired by 1) fuzz balls all over the floor, 2) dead insects in the windowsills, 3) an unreliable cleaning helper (not Eliza, by the way), 4) dusty furniture I could write "clean me, please" on, 5) a really dirty kitchen floor, and 6) Mary Ann, who is always taking on similar projects, this morning I bit the bullet, so to speak, and pulled out everything from stain remover and furniture polish to the Swiffer duster and vacum cleaner.
No, I don't have on my little apron and bandana, and no, I'm not scurrying around with a feather duster and big smile on my face. Yes, I do have on some really dirty clothes (to match the really dirty surfaces I'm cleaning) and my attractive white socks (since I'm trying to work on the dirt that's seemingly dyed my feet sort of a mud-puddle brown).
An aside: Last night after I showered, I spent over 30 minutes working on my "farm feet" before I slathered them down with 5 applications of Burt's Bees Foot Treatment. Perhaps I should just remember to wear shoes around the farm.
Anyway, I don't think I'll finish today, and I don't think I can stay inside two days in a row, so there's no telling when I'll get to the kitchen, my room, and the upstairs--the three most untidy, aka, disgusting places in the house. Anyone who would like to come to my assistance is welcome to do so, but be prepared to sneeze a lot or get grossed out, especially if the refrigerator's the chore at hand.
That's about it for today, folks...
Monday, August 14, 2006
Mid to late August brings the summer flowers to their peak, and their color entices the butterflies to their blossoms. It's been a banner year for these delicate and beautiful creatures around the farm, and yesterday, I followed these two around over the course of the afternoon in an attempt to get a couple of good photos. I'm not sure of the correct names for this particular one; as a child we always referred to these as Tiger Swallowtails. Monarchs and deep blue irridescent Swallowtails abound as well, but I haven't been able to get the perfect shot of one of them yet.
According to my animal cards book, the butterfly is a creature of air energy, and it reminds us to tap into our mental powers, those of insight and intuition, with regularity and faith in our sense of "knowing." It also symbolizes transformation since its life cycle completes itself from larvae to maturity rapidly. Butterflies remind us to take a look at where we are in the cycle of our own transformation and call upon our mental powers to foresee the direction in which we are going. If change is called for, we can work to bring that about and design and craft our own transformation gracefully.
I love these exquisite insects. Their fragile beauty fascinates me. They inspire me to have all sorts of flowers around the farm to call them in droves so I can sit for hours, suspended in thought and mesmerized by their colors.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
In the past two days, I've received notices from Botswana, Ireland, the UK (three times, no less!), Germany, Spain, and Malaysia that I, Tanya Wilder, am the grand-prize winner in their country's biggest lottery ever!! Whooppee!!! When I total up the sums (if my math and conversion tables are correct), I calculate that I've won almost 300 million dollars!! And, the only thing I have to do is submit my e-mail address to begin receiving payments from the several off-shore banks that will be handling my winnings from the respective countries.
And, if winning in multi-national lotteries weren't enough, several folks from across the globe have notified me that a wealthy family member of theirs has passed on to the "great cash flow land in the sky" and left me mega-sums of money as well. Again, it's a simple matter of a "click" and voilá, the money's mine. Isn't that special??? How could I be so lucky???
Once I have the cash I've won or inherited in hand, I'll notify all of you who are kind enough to read my blog, and we'll have one fantastic party on my personal yacht as we sail off into the sunset toward some tropical island I plan on purchasing.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
People ask me how I entertain myself when I'm alone here at the farm. Just today, I saw a friend at the Y, and he asked me how I had kept myself occupied at the farm this summer. I had to chuckle at his seeming concern, especially since I had just decided that other than going in to exercise, I would avoid town and the office totally this week. (Other than dinner tonight here at the farm with Dr. Tom, I haven't seen anyone since Eliza left on Monday.)
I have to chuckle a bit because I never feel alone here. Yes, I do carry on conversations with the cats and dogs, and I even flirt with Luther, the beta fish, before I feed him. (I love the way he swims to the front of the tank and spreads his gills to say hello.) And, I do enjoy some rather in-depth dialogue with myself, the flowers, and the trees. :0)
Actually, I stay quite busy. This week, I've weeded the garden, cut out some plants in the flower beds, planted some late seedlings, mowed, spread some mulch,made pesto, moved quite a bit of stuff to the compost pile, taken some great walks around the field with Annie and Molly, stopped to watch the butterflies and dragonflies, translated some articles about human rights violations in Cuba, talked to Cuban friends in Miami, exercised, watched a couple of good movies, played some internet Scrabble, cooked some healthy meals (the kale from the garden is GREAT!), and taken a few photos here and there. In addition, I've listened to some really good music and enjoyed the sounds of nature and sunsets on the deck in the late afternoon / evening.
What more could anyone ask for? Peace, solitude, beauty, and tranquility. I recommend it for all!
Sunday, August 06, 2006
THIS WEEKEND AT THE FARM....
This weekend, I am especially grateful to my friend, Tom Steckel, aka Dr. Tom, for his assistance in rebuilding the fire circle down by the barn. Yesterday, he moved a number of huge sandstone blocks back into place around the area where the old fire circle was. It was hot outside, and the job was not an easy one, but Dr. Tom, with some assistance from me, stuck it out. Fortunately, we finished the task without straining our backs or having a heart attack.
Tom is becoming a farm regular. Usually he, Tom J. (aka: Will) and I cook, walk the farm, and hang out together. Dr. Tom is famous for making some of the best brownies ever! What is also very special about him is that he regularly brings gifts to folks; he's a thrift store / Goodwill / Salvation Army / Rink's junkie with a keen eye for everything from scarves for prayer flags to beautiful glass objects. The farm has been the recipient of many sweet gifts from Dr. Tom. His presence is seen and felt in the amber glass inside the house and outside in the paperweights he has placed around the farm to catch the sun. And, as I am mowing, pulling weeds, or just walking the driveway, I'll find coins or glass beads he's dropped around randomly in honor of the Earth. A Ph. D in chemistry, Dr. Tom also is the farm scientist who can explain matters of carbon bonding, elements in glass that change color in the light, and other scientific things in terms that I can understand them--at least for the moment he's explaining. He also builds a great fire in the fireplace in the winter!
An Eagle Scout, Tom loves art, so the two of us frequently check out the art openings at a local gallery. He's a vital source of energy and input into the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Series on campus, and he has a real talent for creating beautiful settings for events and receptions. Vintage tablecloths and pieces of his glassware collection always grace the table along with the flower arrangements he artistically creates.
Thank you, Tom, for all you are and do for so many! A hug is headed your way!
Friday, August 04, 2006
Last evening I watched Tsotsi and found it to be a movie that is worth the watch. The film won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, a well-deserved honor. I would also recommend watching the commentaries that accompany the DVD. Gavin Hood and crew have artfully made a very touching film. It's one that I will eventually add to my collection.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Heretofore, I have written about Cuba on my blog only one time, but with the unexpected announement of Fidel Castro's delegation of power to his brother, Raúl, as a result of a major surgery for intestinal bleeding, those of us who work on behalf of Cuban political prisoners and the Cuban people know that this event truly signals the very real beginning of the end of a totalitarian regime that has been in power for 50 years. That end, however, could come at great cost for those who have participated in protests of human rights violations on the island and have called for a transition to a democratic state. Political prisoners, their families, and the dissident community suffer continuous, unimaginable inhumane treatment in Cuba; in fact, Cuba ranks as one of the worst violators of human rights in the world today. As a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Cuba has been in repeated (documented) violation of each of the 30 articles of the document since Castro came to power.
I have been in close contact with my friend, Laida Carro, as well as other Cuban friends across the country. Although there is a lot of speculation about Castro's well-being, there has been little reported about the situation of those on the island, particularly the political prisoners and their families. Unless one is directly involved in work on their behalf and has first-hand knowledge of what these people endure, the unbelievable suffering and harassment the political prisoners / dissidents on the island face on a daily basis is basically overlooked and/or not reported outside of human rights agencies and similar organizations across the globe. When stories about them do make the news, many times the reports are inaccurate and / or not placed as priority items on the news wires. Since the announcement of Fidel's delegation of power to Raúl, the opposition has been under even closer scrutiny and harassment.
Here are a few things that we have learned since the announcement of Castro's surgery. (I will refrain from citing sources on my blog in honor of those who have shared this information at great risk, but I can attest to its accuracy.)
- From a source on the island: "The people of Cuba are living under great tension as a result of the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what is happening. The Cuban people are very afraid to speak out or rise up because State Security, the Committee in Defense of the Revolution and pro-Castro mobs keep constant vigil on all Cuban citizen. "
- From another source: "Not only does State Security keep an eye on individuals' home, but they also watch our every step. The measures State Security is taking also are applied to our places of work as well."
- A third source states,"There is an underlying terror that has the people paralyzed, mortified. Only those who support Castro can take to the streets. The Committees of the Revolution, civilian members as well as those from the military, have been instructed by State Secutiry to squelch any type of expression that could possibly incite the populace to jubilation or rebellion."
- Information received via telephone: Political prisoners who are incarcerated have been informed by prison guards that if there is any display of opposition to the Castro regime by dissident groups, they (the prisoners) will be executed.
- Phone service to dissidents' houses has been interrupted, making it impossible for news from them to leave the island.
- One dissident has reported being closely followed and harassed by mobs of pro-Castro supporters.
- "This is a very critical moment," stated a person who was clearly reluctant to speak. "I'm afraid... you don't know who's listening to you."
- Some Cubans with relatives in the security forces said military and other uniformed personnel had been mobilized in barracks and police stations as a precaution.
The list could go on and on...Tonight as people once again take to the streets in Little Havana, Laida and other members of The Coalition of Cuban-American Women are there, handing out literature about the political prisoners and their families. (Unfortunately, many Cubans in this country are poorly informed about those who are struggling on behalf of human rights on the island.) From my computer here in Ohio, I am trying to organize a vigil on behalf of the prisoners that will be held in Miami early next week, and I'm disseminating as much information as I can to individuals, organizations, and governments.
If anyone who reads this is interested in further information, give me a call. The best reported info I've seen compiled on the Cuban situation at present can be found by checking out the Yahoo home page. Any article there will link to others from the Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, etc. Keep in mind, however, that many reporters don't get the full picture.
And, if anyone would like to discuss issues regarding Castro as a "benevolent dictator" and/or the successes of the Cuban educational and health care systems, I have wealth of information to share to the contrary.
My prayer is for peace in Cuba, for a peaceful transition, for the safety of those I know there, for the liberation of those who are unjustly incarcerated, for those in exile who have suffered ex-patriation for so long and whose pain and suffering run deep--people whom I have known for years and deeply love--and for the beautiful island that has been left in ruins for five decades.
May peace and freedom prevail. So may it be.
(Additional note: If you haven't read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is very well-worth the time. I encourage all to do so.)
It's truly difficult to fathom that the 8th month of the year has arrived...and arrived with intensity unlike we've experienced prior to the end of July. Officially, the temps have been hovering around 93-97 degrees; however, the thermometer on the deck registered 102 yesterday afternoon...Made me want to go stand under the hose for a while, so I did!
As I write this, a rainstorm has moved in from the northwest, and I can sense cooler breezes bringing it along. I, along with all the wilting plants and the panting four-leggeds and winged ones, welcome the rain and the cooler feel to the evening.
The garden has suffered a bit in the heat, but the tomatoes are beginning to turn, the kale is as healthy as ever, and the onions are big and flavorful. Flowers which are well-mulched flourish; those that aren't have an exhausted look to them. Annie and Molly have been content to stay in the house and sleep although they took a long walk with me today. The felines stay pretty much hidden in their territorial spaces around the farm, only surfacing to eat in the late afternoon. Even the hummingbirds aren't downing the nectar I put out for them as feverishly as they were before.
According to the info from my Witches' Calendar, August is the time to acknowledge the bounty of the Earth and to honor those whose hard work went into producing the fresh veggies and fruits that we so enjoy. It is a time of "thanksgiving and remembrance, maintaining our happiness by by recognizing that which comes as the result of hard work." Additional thoughts from the calendar: " Often times it is those who work the hardest who go without thanks...Our lives will never be without joy, as long as we pause to than those who have aided us" And it continues, stating "Give thanks for the blessings of those who surround you, and you can be sure that you will receive that blessing three-fold in return."
Tonight I am grateful for my family and friends, my home, my critters, the rain, the rainbow in the sky behind the house, my health, and all the Earth provides. I'm also thankful for the first tomatoes off the vines in the garden. Today's tomato sandwich was THE BEST!!!! (And no, I didn't use fat-free mayonaise.) :0) :0)
(Art credit: Jennifer Hewiston / Llewelyn's Witches' Calendar-August)
(PS: The photo posting problem seems to have rectified itself. I have no idea what the problem was! Mary Ann, you were most likely correct in thinking it was just a blog problem.)
For some unknown reason, my computer will no longer allow me to post pictures on my blog. I don't know why this has mysteriously happened. I've checked HELP from blogger.com, but I can't figure this dilemma out. Apparently there is a block somewhere on my computer that's making it impossible to post photos, but I have no idea about how to to go about unblocking the block. Any ideas from those of you who read Namasté???? Suggestions, detailed troubleshooting directions, and any other specific ideas about what I need to do would be greatly appreciated.