29 July 2010

Pipe and Pow-wows

Mr. Fuzzy apologizes for the lack of recent posts. (1) He was away with his friend Joseph to the Pipekeepers Pow-wow in Pipestone, Minnesota (just 1,200 miles each way, easy to drive with Joseph as company & co-driver) and (2) he ain't been feelin hisself cause he's so bummed about how the sale of his old house has proceeded (and he's tryin like all get-out to not post a long whine about it).

The Pow-wow is a small event put on annually by The Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipekeepers of which Mr. Fuzzy is mildly associated. He can't do any kinda dancin and that sure includes them thar fancy Plains steps but he sure do enjoy watchin 'em stomp out a beat to the sway of feathers, furs and bells. This year there were two particularly good drum groups.

Mainly, Mr. Fuzzy goes to visit with his friends (yes, indeed, he still has a couple) Argus, Breon, Ole, Bud & Rona, etc., and to make a pilgrimage to the Pipestone National Monument and visit the ancient quarries and watch some contemporary pipemakers at work. Here's a photo of Travis Erickson, one of the three demonstrators there... he is a fourth generation pipemaker and his quarry is probably the largest there - although very small by commercial standards since all work is performed with only hand tools. Traditional pipemakers like Travis work with only a few hand tools, the chief instrument of shaping being a Four-in-One file.

Alas, the layer of red stone, now known as Catlinite (after the artist George Catlin who was the first white man to paint the quarries), one of the softest stones in the world, is underneath Sioux Quartzite, one of the hardest stones in the world. You cannot imagine the effort it takes, measured in weeks of hand work, just to remove most of the overburden of dirt and then quartzite, before any Catlinite is seen at all (and few layers of it are homogeneous and thick enough to make a pipe). After any rain, the quarry is filled with water and must be bailed out to be worked again.

On the way back home, Joseph and Mr. Fuzzy stopped in Ohio at the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park which protects one very small bit of mounds that once were the center of the amazingly advanced Hopewell culture circa 200BC-400AD. They made platform pipes with no metal tools that are just soooo beautiful. Ironically, there are very few on display but here are two, a wildcat and a frog.

To see the great Hopewell artifacts, visit the Ohio Historical Society Museum in Columbus, Ohio. Native American craftsmen from this culture also created exquisite masterpieces in mica sheets and copper that must been seen to be adequately appreciated.

14 July 2010

bloomin' farm

The gardens are growing well despite a prolonged drought. Mr. Fuzzy built a oak floored carrier to fit on the Ford tractor's three point hitch in order to take water, only 25 gallons at a time, out to the pasture garden. It rained not for three weeks and some days it required six trips to convey adequate water to the plants. Finally, on Monday and Tuesday it rained - not very much, just over half and inch, but enough to substantially perk up the garden plants, especially the corn (maize) which appeared quite depressed.

The squashes are delivering by the pound on a daily basis. The "Tender Gray" which thrived so well last year has been a repeat success this year; we will always have some of those zucchini in our garden. A yellow crook neck has also come into its own and blooms madly, all of those gorgeous orange-yellow confections setting fruit.

Last, but not least, the bottle gourds prospereth. The seeds were given by our friend, Singin' Bob. The fruits have just begun to set but if even half the flowers produce a gourd, there will be forty or fifty. Some of Bob's past progeny are more than two feet in length. They should make dandy bird houses, water drums and storage containers. Thank you, Bob. Even at only an inch in length, the wee gourds already foreshadow their adult bottle shape.

And this photograph poses the question: when a bee drinks pollen from a tobacco plant, does it get a buzz?

To the left, a distant view of the pasture garden (enlarge the image and you should be able to identify the corn stalks) from an interesting perspective - or at least Mr. Fuzzy does so believe...

10 July 2010


This morning I was given a free chicken as my friend Jon had one too many roosters. Why I needed another I do not know. Apparently New Roo had the same idea. When I let him out of his crate in the coop I'd failed to close the pop hole when I closed the door and he flew out.... Through the hole, over two fences, and squawking his little lungs out into the pine woods behind the chicken pen.

Can you say "............... Mrs. Fuzzy!" Yeah, I can't print the words I thought at myself as I gathered up a dozen or so cups, a jug of water, and some flagging to put water out for the frightened little guy. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Anyway, I spent an hour or more putting out little cups of water all over that section, pouring water into every little hollow that would hold it as I found them, and keeping an eye out for the little bugger.

Hopefully he'll discover the big water bucket near the pen, and the food I put out, and stick around even if he doesn't decide to join the flock. All we can do now is pray that he returns.

NOT a good week for chickens! I feel so stupid.


Mr. Cock-a-doodle Roo still has not come home as of Sunday mid-day but we hear him down by the creek crowing his freedom call. He sounds happy. Maybe he understands that he very narrowly escaped the soup pot? Late yesterday afternoon I went out to check on the chickadoos and did a little head count. Discovered that my missing hen, Rumpy, had returned. All their little wings are now clipped so there will be no more flights of fancy for this flock! Mr. Roo is due the same should he decide to join the flock. It's the price of access to the hens.

09 July 2010

It Is Done

In America the heart of the home is the refrigerator. It holds our calendars, our doctor's notes, cartoons, funny magnets, and the beer that makes the end of a lousy day a little bit better. When we moved Mr. Fuzzy brought our refrigerator with him... and I promise it looks no better in VA than it did in NM!

Today is one of those awful good-bad days. You know the ones.... something great has happened but at the same time it really sucks too so you just can't be happy about it no matter how much you feel like you ought to be celebrating.

So what happened? We signed a contract for that old house to get a new heart. Yep, we have a contract to sell the house you all remember so fondly. Don't for one minute think that we're feeling all mushy about living in Santa Fe, it's not that. We're feeling the sting of selling in a fierce "buyer's market." Yeah, all that stuff you hear on NPR about the balloon markets crashing and stuff not selling unless it's in the multi-million-dollar bracket is true. We dropped the price on the house three times (Four? I blocked that part out a long time ago.) and were hoping to at least be firm on the price.

HA! We've had to give, again, on the price and the terms are pretty crappy too... but... at least it'll be out of our hair soon. The worst part isn't the money. Deep down we knew that the valuation was excessive, that the area needed a major adjustment, and --really-- the offer came in at just a little under what we thought the appraisal would be some four years ago. Sadly, we missed the bubble.

What really gets at us is that Mr. Fuzzy's custom home, which the architect always called his favorite, doesn't meet modern expectations. The darkroom will "have to come out" and the space, along with the kitchen, "must" be remodeled into an "integrated entertainment kitchen." And all those other things we liked about the house just have to be changed... "But the bones are good." I hope they at least like my plum tree.

Am I hearing echoes of our own statements about Stratheden? Perhaps. My operating theory is that the fairies of Dunino are exacting a certain sort of humorous lesson about the value of stuff. That's their job, isn't it Tom? I'm trying to be prosaic about it. Now we'll be able to afford to build that studio / guest house we'd really like to have. (For about the price these folks are talking for the new kitchen, I might add.)

03 July 2010

The Fourth of July

From paragraph two of The Declaration of Independence:"That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
When was the last time that you read one of the most important documents in human history?

Here are a few of tonight's fireworks at the high school, viewed and enjoyed by hundreds of denizens of Floyd county.