26 December 2012

Winter has arrived!

Dear Reader,

Mr. Fuzzy hopes this find you enjoying the warmth of friends, family and fireplace here at the end of the calendar year. Apologies for the long delay since the last post but since the world was due to end on the 21st, there hardly seemed a hurry. Now that date has come and gone - and by all appearances, existence continues to exist, well, its back to the blog.

Last Sunday, I shared a table with Mike & Rebecca at the ritual weekend breakfast at the cafe. Rebecca had brought home baked gifts for all of the usual suspects in attendance. Shown below are Mr. Fuzzy's polar bear and ice skate. Never have such detailed holiday cookies ever graced his table. Be sure to click on them to enlarge, otherwise the fineness of the detailing will escape your eyes.

Winter still seemed out of sight until the Winter Solstice - perfectly timed to coincide with the first major winter front to strike here. The drought mentioned in the previous post had continued unabated until a few days ago when nearly an inch of rain fell on Stratheden. Not nearly enough to close the precipitation gap opened by the drought but a beginning. In the wee hours of this morning a snow began and before first light, rain mixed with freezing rain. The forecast is for this to continue all day. Spectacular beauty is all about.

12 December 2012


The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued this declaration today:

"A new Drought Watch Advisory has been issued for the New River Drought Evaluation Region and for the Upper James River Drought Evaluation Region. 

The New River Drought Evaluation Region includes the counties of Bland, Carroll, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Montgomery, Pulaski and Wythe, the cities of Galax and Radford, and the towns of Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Dublin, Floyd, Fries, Glen Lyn, Hillsville, Independence, Narrows, Pearisburg, Pembroke, Pulaski, Rural Retreat, Rich Creek, Troutdale and Wytheville."

As much as eight weeks may have passed without significant precipitation at Stratheden. Even the backside of Hurricane Sandy produced little more than high winds and cold temperatures here. Although the temperatures have been favorable to grass growth, and sunlight has been abundant, the blades of grass are the same height as three months ago. The trees will soon, if not already, be suffering for want of water. So very odd at this time of year.

Today was totally gray and dull, at least until sunset when the sky became a brilliant yellow. Most striking. This photograph fails to reproduce the brilliance and depth of the yellow but may give the reader some slight impression of the event.

06 December 2012

The Arts & Crafts Movement in America

Devoted reader (or two), you may or may not know that Mr. Fuzzy's favorite art movement of all times was the Arts & Crafts Movement, alternatively called American Craftsman Movement in America.

It began in England spurred on by the luminary figure, William Morris, aided and abetted by the writings of John Ruskin. Morris began it in 1860 but it was not well recognized until perhaps 1880. Its tenants began to spread worldwide and by 1897, it had a firm foothold in America and Canada.  It was promoted by numerous magazines in Britain, Europe and America; the most noted in America was easily Gustav Stickley's The Craftsman. Stickley was a design genius; "mission furniture style" is a modern misnomer for his main development but he also designed homes (plans were sold by mail). Mr. Fuzzy once marveled at a neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington, where about every fourth home was a Stickley design.

Unlike any prior art philosophy/movement, fully half of the artisans were women, the philosophy was accepted widely and it promoted the need for art among all classes, not just the richest.

Stickley wrote in the January, 1911, issue of The Craftsman:

 The reason why I believe that the country is such a fine training-school for character and experience, is because farm work, as compared to the routine and one-sidedness of office work, offers to the boy the best possible opportunities for the development of self-reliance, of initiative and the creative faculty... In the business life of our cities, the city man who begins as a clerk rarely goes much further; he may be promoted to some higher position on the department in which he started but the career usually ends in the grove in which it began. Young people who enter routine occupations with no other experience back of them have no equipment for anything else, and they are apt to have little capacity for meeting new problems and forging ahead. Whereas the boy who has been brought up on an American farm and who has been trained in all the variety of experience that makes up farm life has acquired independence, ingenuity and the ability to think for himself. Every day on a farm brings some new problem that has to be met and solved. I have so often said, contact with Nature gives us a certain breadth of vision on which depends our capacity for further development. We cannot go forward beyond the limit of our vision. A mind crushed by dull detail of routine labor and a physique depleted by unwholesome indoor occupation cannot lift a man out of the narrow sphere of drudgery. But a mind lit by the vision of a larger purpose in daily work and of something greater beyond that, a body vibrant with health and ready for action --- these make a man, while loyal to his work, at the same time independent of it, because his thought and his capability are larger than the routine of the occupation.

02 December 2012

Farmers Supply

Every small village needs an anchor business or two, at a minimum. Downtown Floyd is really only four or five blocks but there are several of these anchor stores. Right at the stoplight (the only stoplight in the county) is Farmers Supply, the hardware and gift store. It has four display windows, more than any other building in Floyd, and sits in a prominent location. Fortunately the manager, Janice, creates wonderful windows, which reflects well on the town.

Although this is December 2nd, the temperature at 7:00 a.m. this morning was a remarkable 50F. Yesterday's plans were redirected when the postman delivered the order placed with the Arbor Day Foundation many months ago. They cannot ship trees until they become dormant and obviously that depends on the weather conditions where they are grown. This was perhaps a month later than normal and to be honest, Mr. Fuzzy had forgotten about the order. The afternoon was spent planting ten Colorado blue spruce trees around the farm. All of this mild Sunday will be spent planting the remaining trees, crab apples, Japanese cherries, willow, Nanking cherries, etc.

Between the destructive deer and weather conditions, only about half of the trees planted will survive two years, even with regular watering during dry spells.

It remains dry here with no rain in the five day forecast.