Sunday, January 29, 2012

Follow up Art and deer

jenaconti posted a reply in Art and Religion about the Romanian icon I inherited from my father. I am totally blown out of the water (frozen as it is) that she was able to find out what the painting is all about. I owe you a dinner when I get to Norway, Jena! I am not religious, but was raised as a Lutheran and am aware of the role various religious beliefs and superstitions play in world culture. I appreciate the good things that have been done in the name of these beliefs and the evil that has been purveyed by these same beliefs. Mr. Spock would say that these things happen when humans are involved.

We set up the critter cam at near the site of the wolf-killed deer shortly after the incident. We checked the results a couple of days ago and had 477 pictures of deer and absolutely nothing else. The wolves moved on and the rest of the herd seems to have gotten on with their lives. Not very exciting, but often reality isn't.

Winter has been a bust this year. Hardly any snow and temperatures well above normal. The wind often blows the snow off my pastures and into the woods where it is about knee-deep. It's a pretty bleak picture. Here it is before sunrise on Friday morning.
Normally, the snow depth would be about knee-deep in the open areas and crotch-deep in the woods, but every year it just gets weirder. I got a new (used) camera a couple of weeks ago and am just starting to get the hang of it. I have big plans for getting some great shots around the neighborhood, but will have to work to get those plans to come to fruition. I was playing with it the other evening while sitting on my favorite sofa with one of my favorite cats, Orange Ruffy, He was just slightly anoyed, but tolerant of me sticking this thing in his face. Apparently, I was disturbing his hardly needed rest.

It has been a quiet week along the shore of Gitchigumi, which is just as well. The perpetrator (alleged) of the courthouse shooting died of a bacterial infection a week or two ago while in custody. The state legislature addressed courthouse security last week and measures to improve security should be implemented soon. It is still difficult to stop a determined nut case who wants to do some damage, though. Speaking of nut cases, the process of the Republican presidential nomination has has left me shaking my head in disbelief. To think there is a good possibility of these candidates leading the political structure of the U.S. is scary to say the least. They will say and do nearly anything to get a vote and deny that they have ever done anything wrong or self-serving in their pathetic lives. I think the empire is starting to crumble.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hay is for horses here on the old farm

Some of you wondered about all that hay in the last post. Here on the farm we have 9 equines, eight of which are horses and one of which is a mule (his daddy was a donkey and his mama was a mare). Here is a picture of  "The Colonel".

The 230 bales you saw in the last post will last about two months depending on the weather. Nina wondered, and Kelli, too,  about the grass we have. They both live in pretty lush climates. It is okay grass when it grows, which is about May through September, at which time it becomes dormant before freezing solid later on. At that point it is normally buried under a couple of feet of snow. The ground thaws and it starts to grow again sometime in May. The first week of May is about the average time the ice goes off the lakes of which we have about 2500 in this county. We have about twice that number of people. We look at Duluth as being the gateway to central Minnesota and Minneapolis as "down south". In fact, Minneapolis is So far south that I have actually heard people down there say "y'all". It is only a couple days drive down I-35 to Texas, after all. Here we almost speak Canadian, eh? We sometimes go oot and aboot for the afternoon. We build our house foundations knowing that the average frost depth is about 4 or 5 feet. If we don't, this happens.
See how the porch is sagging? This was built in 1915 (when this farm was originally homesteaded) and we lived in it for a year and a half back in 1993-1994 while I built a new house. It is storage now. The foundation was minimal and they had a dirt floor for the first few years. We met the woman who grew up here shortly after we bought the place. She was in her eighties at the time and told us about their first Christmas here in their very own home. " We went out in the woods and cut a tree, brought it back and stuck it in the living room floor (yes, it was dirt). We dug a root cellar the next year." Eventually they put in a full basement. Plumbing and electricity came many years later and now the place is slowly settling into the ground. It is a combination of vertical and horizontal hewn log construction underneath those old shingles. They made due with the materials available at that time.

It was a cold week here on the farm. Even the icicles had icicles. A couple of days didn't get above zero F (-17C). This morning, however was plus 23F which is nearly 40 degrees warmer than yesterday morning.Yippee!! Of course, when it warms up that much it can snow, so I will be clearing the driveway later on. Now we are a month past Winter Solstice. When you spend a fair amount of time outdoors in the winter these are things you look forward to. It may seem pathetic to some, but it keeps me going.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hay! Wolves!

It was a busy weekend here. I got a load of hay, about 7 tons or 230 bales. The doctor still won't let me deal with that much lifting so I recruited some help. I really dislike having to ask people to help me do something I normally do myself, but it was an awesome half dozen friends that put it away. It takes me a couple of days to move it and stack it, but it took them less than an hour. 

I often look out our kitchen window at first light to see if there is anything down by the creek. Usually I see a deer, grouse, squirrel, or fox, but occasionally something different. I couldn't see what it was, but it wasn't moving. It was this; some deer hide and a deer leg. 

Stitch and I followed the tracks about 30 feet through the brush to the creek bed and saw this:
It happened early Sunday morning, but we didn't hear a thing. We back tracked and found where the deer was taken down just below the old farm house. It looked like an ambush when we widened our search area following the wolf and deer tracks. Later in the afternoon I heard a couple of howls down the road a piece. It is wolf mating season about now so people need to keep their pets under close surveillance or risk losing them. It usually happens a couple of times a winter. The wolves have never bothered the horses. Once I was standing with our big mare as she and I watched a wolf trot up the road minding his own business. The mare just glared at the wolf until it went back into the woods. One set of tracks from this incident goes by the house about 30 feet away. Of course the SD card from the critter cam was in the house and any activity at night was missed. I put it back in the camera and hope that something comes by to check out the scene of the feast. I'll post something if it gets interesting.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Art and religion

Back about 5 years ago I acquired an unusual (at least to me) painting. It is colorful and about 8" x 10". I didn't know much about it other than it appeared to be an Orthodox religious scene, maybe Middle Eastern in origin. It was given to my father by his brother. That was all I knew, even though I had a number of art classes in college.Only one or two were art history, though. Here it is.

  I forgot about it for quite a while and when going through a box of junk things I need to go through. The Old Curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out more about this art. The first thing I figured out was that it was a reverse painting on glass. I asked some folks at the local art gallery if they knew anything about this and they didn't, but they knew a guy at a large Twin Cities gallery who might know something. He didn't know a lot, but said it was more of an antique/collectible thing with not a lot of monetary value. So much for early retirement. My quest continued and I finally figured out with some online assistance that it is a Romanian Icon probably from around the turn of the last century.

What seems to be in the picture is the Trinity sitting around the table, Jesus in a boat full of his "flock", two saintly bishops in front (I think St. Nicholas and maybe Saint Gregory), but I am not sure who the man and woman with halos and no wings standing behind the trinity are. I have guesses, but no sure thing answers.

How did my uncle come by this? It took me a minute to figure it out, but this is what I believe happened. He worked for UNESCO for many years in many countries around the world and in the early 90's the U.N. declared several churches and monasteries in Romania to be World Heritage Sites. He picked up the icon at that time. These icons are folk art and often are quite commonly found in peoples homes. Sometimes just a few or sometimes several dozen.

Another part of world culture I had no idea about is now a little familiar. I had to read a lot of stuff to figure out what I could about this diminutive painting so I had to learn more than I needed to know. And I'm not even religious.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Go toward the light! Got them old cosmic blues again, mama.

The days are getting longer and they are also getting colder. Why is everything a trade-off in this world?

It's like teetering on the edge of a cliff and then regaining your footing until the next shaky step. Things seem to happen at the worst possible time, but is there ever a better time for disasters to occur? Yes! When I am not around to have to deal with them. Of course, it doesn't work that way. Not that anything in my world is going wrong and I'm not very superstitious, even in the bigger world of superstition (some call it religion). Maybe it is the new year, and having been through a few of them, I expect to have to meet some new "challenges" as we like to call them. I have no idea what they will be or when they will happen, but they will rear their ugly heads again. Fortunately, I am a survivor and a fighter if pushed into a corner, but I really would just prefer to float along on the sea of tranquility (not the lunar one). As long as I keep perspective and know that so many people have it way worse than I will ever know.

My trials are an insignificant speck in the grand scheme of things, but they are still my trials. I will walk gently and carefully, but observe the wonders that surround me as I begin yet another year of my time on this side of the dirt.

You see, I have done many things, but need to focus a bit more in my waning years. I have been a pilot, wildlife rehabilitator (mostly birds of prey and I still have some scars), photographer, musician, small engine mechanic, worked a wide variety of jobs (mostly at horseshit pay), and gotten to live and work in places most people can only vacation in. It's not been a bad ride, really. So when people come to me as the great sage and ask about the meaning of life I refer them to Douglas Adams. 
We now know the answer is 42.

I leave you with the beginning of a new year and remember some of the good times that ought not be forgotten. Here I am with my brother and two of our cousin's kids in Denmark. A happy moment.

The old days with my father, grandmother, brother, aunt and uncle. I am the one whose ears look like wings. 
My uncle and aunt live in London and I do hope to see them this year.