30 December 2014

The difference of a day

Mr. Fuzzy prefers dwelling where there is strong seasonal variation in the weather. Tucson was hell for weather in many ways, not the least of which was a month of consecutive cloudless days and the imperceptible change of seasons. How do you know its winter in Tucson? The crab grass is dead. The city paints the dead grass green in the medians. Seriously.

Stratheden Farm is situated at 2,500 feet elevation right near the ridge line of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The altitude moderates summer temperatures to easily bearable degrees and also brings the beauty of snowy mantles in the winter.

Yesterday was transitional, moving from recent unseasonable (but most pleasant) warmth a few notches back toward winter. The collision of the disparate air masses spawned an exquisite dense fog for much of Monday, a photographer's paradise, at least for this one. Ninety six images frozen in perpetuity with the passage of twenty minutes - there was so much more but the creative eye was suffering eye strain. Not to bore you, dear reader, only one will be posted:

The temperature decline began Monday morning and now nearly noon on Tuesday, continues unabated. A light smattering of very fine snow fell not long before first light and serves to highlight the horizontal shapes and forms of creation. Offered here are two views from the office window; the second is a full color image.

May winter bring as many delights to your heart and eyes as it does to Mr. Fuzzy's.

25 December 2014

Merry Christmas to all!

A couple of days ago, the weather was gray and wet - but beautiful. The fogs were in perpetual motion, changing the scene from minute to minute. Had the weather been cold, the 1.5 inches of rain would have lain in drifts...

 Christmas Day was amazing - if you enjoy sun and warmth at this time of year. It was totally sun-drenched and warm, about 45F (but in the radiant sun beams, it felt much warmer).

For me, this day is about friendship and love, not divisive religious beliefs and sparkly kitsch made by wage-slaves in China. To that end, I surrounded myself with friends - in a way, since they were all physically elsewhere! Breakfast was Clay's home-canned sausage with Dova's banana nut bread. It was my first Christmas enjoying Clay's sausage but about my 45th (that is NOT a typo) Christmas devouring Dova's bread to begin the day.

Midday it was so warm and welcoming outdoors that afternoon tea was on the veranda, soaking up the sun's blessings like a lizard on a warm rock. The gourmet tea was from Charles and the sweet was a mouth watering pecan tart from Susanne. With a warm black cat sleeping in my lap, taste buds dancing and a gorgeous landscape to view, it was all heavenly. It was such a lazy day that your author was still in his bathrobe, a Christmas gift from dear Aunt Nancy about six years ago; she passed on to a better world this last May but dwells forever in my memory.

When the tart was demolished, a hand became free and it was time to peruse another gift, a book from master gardener Mike: The Complete Chile Pepper Book, a Gardener's Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking by DeWitt & Bosland. There have been quite a number of chile-oriented tomes in front of these old eyes but none like this one. Its pretty much everything you need to know from seed to eating. The advice seems very well founded and the recipes especially interesting. With internet hat your finger tips, information from books seems less cost effective or time equivalent but this type of book with the entire flow of the plant from history to consumption, cannot be matched by hit and miss information on the internet. If you're a fellow "hot head" or a devoted gardener, this book is required reading.

Hopefully your day was at least as blessed as mine. I treasure you all.

15 December 2014

The gift is small, good will is all

Much like other years, Mr. Fuzzy promised himself to get an early start on gift shopping and writing Christmas cards; as usual, an utter failure. At least this time there is an exogenous parameter to blame rather than procrastination or ADD: the day before Thanksgiving the power was out for about nine hours. The precise cause is not certain but despite being connected to surge protectors, a number of electrical devices were toasted, including but alas not limited to:  refrigerator light bulbs (3), DVD player and this computer.

It seemed like bad form to bother the county's sole computer geek over Thanksgiving so it was Monday before the computer was in his capable hands - and Wednesday before he pronounced that the hard drive was alright, only the power supply was cooked. Then a few more days for the replacement parts to arrive and be installed & tested. Eleven full days before the machine was back on the desk, whirring away. To be honest, Mr. Fuzzy had no concept of the extent to which this machine aided and abetted daily life. The camera is at labor nearly every day, sometimes for a single image, sometimes a series, sometimes dozens of unrelated images. Without the computer, I could not view, permanently save, edit, print or send any of those photographs. It was akin to being adrift.

Enough of that.

The title of this post derives from a small poesy vase made in the form of a book in England, January, 1688. Whether the potter made as a gift to his sweetie or at the request of a customer has been lost to time but the sentiment still rings true today.

Some of Mr. Fuzzy's friends are well ahead of him in holiday preparation and gifts have already been delivered at Stratheden Farms both in person and by post. It is unbecoming to brag, but he has the very best friends imaginable, and this has been proven by the gifts recently received.

Today a wee flat packet arrived from Scotland with an awesome array of stamps (see above) carefully applied; that degree of thoughtfulness was a joy to consider. The packet carried three objects safely across the frigid Atlantic: a contemporary Christmas card (as one might expect), the 2015 Lodge St. Andrew installation programme and a priceless wee treasure, a 101 year old pocket booklet containing the 1913 revision of the Lodge's Bye-Laws (the Lodge itself predates the year 1600 and the formation of The Grand Lodge in 1736). How these fragile nineteen pages have survived more than a century is something of a miracle but its is clear from detritus inbetwixt the pages, it was not secreted away inside a book or other protective element all of its life. It gives cause to wonder if the Brother who was the original owner survived the slaughter of Scottish soldiers in The Great War - and how many Brothers pockets held it (and contributed the seeds and lint between the pages) until the next revision superseded it. Held in the hands, it is almost an act of supernatural conjuring, connecting to those long deceased Brothers, to those living Brothers who brought so much joy and fraternal comfort to Mr. Fuzzy, and especially to Brother Morris who gave this inestimable gem to your undeserving correspondent.

Closer to home, a farmer/historian/mechanical wizard friend came by with two small gifts given with a large heart. He had taken Mr. Fuzzy's wailing and gnashing of teeth to heart and brought small gifts that evinced his Brotherly consideration (yes, a Lodge Brother, again) and generosity. To view them, they are diminutive but to the grateful recipient, they are substantial. The first is a pair of unassuming gloves, high visibility orange and black, which happen to be waterproof, insulated, nonslip grip, nearly abrasion and cut proof. Mr. Fuzzy seems to be experiencing the onset of arthritis in his hands, particularly triggered by being cold & wet. These gloves should go a long way to minimize such pain this winter as well as make labor safer. The second gift is  a small cardboard cube containing 325 rounds of .22 match grade ammunition. Anyone who has attempted to acquire such material in the last few years will appreciate the magnitude of this present. Thank you so much, Brother David.

A couple of days ago. my 85 (or thereabouts, a WWII veteran) year old neighbor dropped by to deliver three two-quart containers of frozen home pressed apple juice made this past October. Talk about mana from heaven! There is so much work involved in its creation, from gathering through pressing and bottling then a major clean up ensues. Truly a gift from the heart. Thank you, John and George.

That's not the end of the story but should become the end of this missive lest you, the reader, become bored or believe Mr. Fuzzy's behavior in writing of his blessings is less than untoward. It should be closed by saying that Mr. Fuzzy fears he is inadequate at being as good a friend to others as they are to him.

13 December 2014

Annual Christmas Parade

 Weather has been extreme already this winter (before it was winter!) with three appreciable snows before Thanksgiving and several nights of 11 degrees. I'm already wondering if I cut enough firewood.

 Parades here are always opened by a Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guard. Each year one or two less are present. He is not easily visible but the rider in the jeep is 94 year old Lawrence Wood; a life time bachelor, he still lives on his own. He requires neither spectacles nor hearing aids and his mind is perhaps brighter than your correspondent's. God bless these men for their service.

 For the first time in six years, the weather was delightful for the parade, sunny and about 60 degrees. It may be my poor memory but it seems like there were some less entries than earlier years.

 There was an easy winner for "the oddest entry." Can't say why this was in a Christmas parade but must admire someone's mechanical ability in converting a Volkswagen into a tracked vehicle. It appeared to run very nicely, I must add.

As for the most unusual group, it would be the welding society. The Lincoln was fired up and they were actually welding toys as the float slid past onlookers.

Floats may be modest and the virtue of modesty pervades the Brethren's religious beliefs - as does being an active part of the community, This gentleman on his ATV epitomizes these Floyd county attributes.

All parades in this part of the world must have classic cars and old tractors; Floyd county has plenty of both and they always constitute an especially popular genre of the parade.

Any wheeled vehicle can become an entry with some tinsel and other decorations.

Some businesses in Floyd town work hard to decorate and bring a certain sense of nostalgia and beauty. It surprises me each year that those who dedicate so much effort do not shame the non-participants into at least token decor. A realtor occupies a building on the most critical intersection in town and doesn't bother to even place a small tree in one of the windows. Of all the businesses, it would seem to behove his to make the town seasonal and joyful.

08 December 2014

Six years

Dear readers, today marks the sixth anniversary of the first blogpost from Floyd, the 2008 Christmas parade. To quote a wiser soul, "Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip its been..." Thanks for coming on the ride with me.

And here is last night's spectacular moon: