Monday, October 29

A black cat, a shovel, a shallow plot, Bloody Sunday.

Aimer's new cat, Teddie Bear, scared the hello out of me Sunday morning. I went to get something out of the closet and saw eyes looking back at me. It was really dark in that corner, so dark I had to use a flash to take this picture.

The shelf is at eye level. I'm amazed Teddie was able to get up there without pulling all my stuff down. It sure doesn't stop him around the rest of the house. I'm constantly picking up something he has knocked to the floor and then started playing with. Usually it is pens or papers but he has also dumped a couple of our things off the coffee table (remotes for the digital receiver, regular TV, DVD, stereo receiver,VCR, and the cordless phone Amy never put in the charger - which unsurprisingly is usually dead).

By the way, looking at the picture, I can see where I put my gloves away last spring. I've been wondering where they went. Good, I thought I had lost them.

We got our first real frost Saturday night. It killed off almost all my flowers. The ones above survived because they were next to a fence of cucumber vines that must have blocked the chill. Most of my plants in containers survived too because they were close to the house.

I spent the afternoon digging up dahlia bulbs. I have them in the garden, behind the garage, and outside the house. After they die from frost, you need to dig them up (they are in clumps). I hauled them down to the basement where they can dry out and then be stored till spring. It took me most of the afternoon but in I at least feel that I accomplished something. An alternative would have been watching the Chicago Bears play Detroit. (I can't believe the Bears were in last year's Superbowl. And I can't believe in 8 games I've only picked them right 3 times.)

While I do all my chores outside, Cubbie just follows me around, hardly ever getting under my feet. We have a lot of dogs in the neighborhood so he is constantly marking spots or sniffing those spots marked by other dogs.

U2, Bloody Sunday. I just happen to like this song and it fit with this post's title.

Tuesday, October 23

The Trail of History.

Trail of History.

Sunday afternoon I went to the Trail of History. The McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) holds this every third weekend in October. It is held in one of our nicer conservation areas, with large kames giving it a border to the east and a stream to the west.

From the parking lot, you must follow a path about one mile thru prairie grasses to get there. I came by myself (meeting Clint and Jen later) so I was able to take my time and snap some pictures.

Walking up and over a kame, you see a field that is full of tents. That is a kame below though the narrow path running up it was off limits for the day. We came in on a much wider path.

Each campsite is like a different snapshot of the past.

Living history interpreters from across the country portray different things that would have occurred in 18th and 19th century America. There were hunters, blacksmiths, candle makers, canoe makers, doctors, innkeepers, etc.

The main stage had dancers (square dance of course). Another area had jugglers and a couple of times a day battle re-enactments were held in a bordering field.

The conservation area is located less than 15 miles away from home. I have to admit I’ve only been to it a couple times. I used to drive twice as far to go to another one I was more familiar with. Not anymore. I really liked this place.

On non-event days there are miles of paths you can follow. Hills, trees, prairie areas, ponds and a stream make you feel close to nature. Our county is one of the fastest growing in Illinois so it’s nice to have places like this set aside, off the beaten path.

Slide show:

Tuesday, October 16

Fall and deadfall.

Watch out for the truck Gage. Oh well, fate is fate. If he was George of the Jungle it would have been a tree.

Poor Gage. Poor Winston Churchill.

Not related but by the way, Aimers came home with a little black kitten last week. Said she was watching it for a friend (Amanda) who was going to be out of town for a week.

That fabrication fell apart when my brother in law saw Amanda at work a day later. We have a new kitten.

I have to admit he is cute though dangerous. He has almost tripped me twice running between my feet while I'm walking in the house. I wish I had that energy.

Keeping with Amy's local sports team nomenclature (Cubs and Chicago Bears), he is named Teddy Bear to go along with her dog, Cubbie Bear. And ironically, the Bears are in a stretch where they are playing like Teddy Bears.

It had pretty much quit drizzling Sunday afternoon so Cubbie and I went out to the backyard to take some pictures.

Our backyard borders a field that will eventually be developed. (One good thing about the slow housing market.) The land is sold, but until houses are built, farmers lease the empty land. They rotate corn and soybeans each year. This year it was soybeans.

I took a bunch of pictures of this plant. I grew up on a farm and should probably know what it is but I don't. Help. I'm betting it is something really common and I'll feel stupid. Until I started taking pictures of them, I didn't even notice the pretty little things. They remind me of crowns or wrapped candy.

At the end of the garden I have a large burn pile. We throw all yard waste on it and usually burn it in the spring and in the fall. This summer, morning glories grew wild on it almost covering it. I am holding off burning till it freezes and kills the flowers.

With the pieces of wood and branches, along with the growth, the burn pile reminds me of the deadfall from the movie Pet Sematary. Mine is only as wide as a burn pile would be, but I could imagine it being over twenty some feet wide as in the book.

To me, that was one of the scariest parts of the book. Below, I've included text that mentioned and described the deadfall as found in google.

Excerpts and notes:

Louis experiences what he believes is a very vivid dream in which he meets Pascow, who leads him to the "sematary" and refers specifically to the "deadfall," a dangerous pile of tree limbs that form a barrier at the back of the cemetery and warns Louis to not "go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to."

Louis wakes up in bed the next morning convinced it was only a dream, until he discovers his feet and the bedsheets covered with dirt and pine needles. Louis still dismisses the dream as the product of the stress he experienced during Pascow's death, coupled with his wife's lingering anxieties about the subject of death

Its a this point that Louis notices the deadfall on the far end of the Pet Sematary which separated these woods from the Indian woods. It occurred to Louis that this deadfall seemed too "convenient, too artful, to perfect, for the work of nature."

deadfall - a tangle of weather whitened old branches at the back of the clearing. It's maybe twenty-five feet from side to side and about nine feet high. At either end are thick knots of underbrush that look impassable.

Thursday, October 11

Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child.

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize in literature
The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Doris Lessing, author of dozens of works from short stories to science fiction, including the classic "The Golden Notebook," won the Nobel Prize for literature Thursday. She was praised by the judges for her "skepticism, fire and visionary power."

I read "The Fifth Child" this spring while waiting for the last Harry Potter to come out. I didn't know anything about it when I started reading it but quickly found it to be quite different and interesting. It is only about 130 pages but is full of very realistic characters and emotions.

I'm glad I read it. I will be checking out some of her other ones, probably some of her science fiction. This reminded me a little of Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land". In both, there was always a large communal gathering of friends and family around holidays with people staying for days.

By the way, I got the book at our local recycling center's book sale. $ 1.00 for a hard cover first edition. Yea.


From the book jacket:

Harriet and David Lovatt want the same things - fidelity, love, family life and above all a permanent home. Stubbornly out of line with the fashions of the 1960s they decide to marry and lay down the foundations of their haven in a rambling Victorian house.
At first, all is idyllic. Children fill their lives and re-united relatives crowd round the kitchen table at Christmas and Easter, greedily enjoying the warmth and solidity of the Lovatts home. It is with the fifth pregnancy that things begin to sour. The baby moves inside Harriet too early, too violently. After a difficult birth, he develops faster and grows much bigger than ordinary infants; he is unloving and instinctively disliked by his brothers and sisters. Inexorably, his alien presence wrecks the dream of their happy family. Harriets fear grows as she struggles to love and care for the child, finding herself faced with a dark sub-continent of human nature, unable to cope.

With The Fifth Child Doris Lessing triumphs in a realm of fiction new to her. She has written an ominously tangible novel, a powerfully simple contemporary horror story that makes compulsive reading to the last word.

Received the Grinzane Cavour Prize in Italy

Nominated for the 1988 Los Angeles Times Book Award