Monday, April 20, 2009

Also, kung fu joy

Some lovely people have posted video of the Chinese Culture Night at CSUN that the Kienando Elite Team performed at. Please enjoy - especially John's Dai Dao form at the end of number 2. My favorite form in the world - it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

Thanks for looking:)

A few more images from Arcadia

Laundry day...

Tiny little egg. About the size of a whopper. The candy. Not the sandwich.

Filthy beasts

See more here - including more pastoral idyl stuff and some actual work:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hanna and her duck

Hanna and her duck
Originally uploaded by bnelle
As promised, pictures appear! The duck I saved, and her human, Hanna.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Unexpected Frost

last night took out 6 of the tomatoes and the cucumbers I had planted and mom's squash, plus all of the toms and some peppers I hadn't planted yet. Time will tell if anything will recover, but most look like gonners.

Good news, though. I spotted a tiny little frog with just a wee bit of a tail left in the rain bucket in the orchid house. I know, this brings joy to no one but me, yet that joy is spiritual and profound. So, whatever.

And that raps up spring for you. Back to you, Bob.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I want to attempt to tell you about an experience that I had this evening. I may do a shitty job of it. Please bear with me.

I should tell you that the last three days have been gray, dim, wet and cold. I love the rain and wet, but I will be honest - I have a saturation point: All the gray skies have left me a little glum, and bored with being locked up in the house almost constantly.

I should also tell you that we have nearly as many roosters as hens. Absurd, you say? Yes, but true. See, when you order hens through the mail, they toss in some males for warmth. The idea is, males are sort of pointless, so they can toss them in for free, and they absorb some of the inevitable percentage of chicks that will die in transport. Not ours, apparently. Our cute little male chicks held on to life with every iota of their fuzzy little bodies, and my mother fell in love, and there you have it. "Aren't they beautiful," she gushes. Yes, lovely. I guess. And aggressive, attacking us, each other, and any hens they can come in contact with. In fact (and this is one of the reasons I find roosters to be disgusting beasts) they will get so excited around a female that they will fall upon her as a group, pin her to the ground with a grip from their very cruel beaks, and gang rape her. Yes, lovely. The hens have cuts on their necks and backs and their feathers have been ripped out.

So my step-dad built a second hen house, this one for just the hens. A veritable Woman's Country, where the only thing they have to fear is that another hen will eat their eggs out from underneath them. The hen house, due to a lack of materials at the moment that Dale was throwing this thing together, is very low. So low I have to bend at the waist to gather eggs. So all the hens went in and loved their new, pro-fem diggs, except these two crazy little buggers who kept trying to fly through the chicken wire to the extent that they were bloody and cut and mom was afraid they were going to kill themselves, so back into the rooster house they went.

So, now you are up to date. Moving on. I went out this evening to feed the hens the contents of grandma's compost bowl (they get the ends of lettuce and string beans and bread, while less yummy stuff gets dumped in the compost barrel, natch.) As soon as I got the rooster house door open one of these crazy little hens flies right at me, roosts on my arm and begins to peck at the contents of the bowl. I would love to tell you that this was because the hen innately sensed my "Fowl Whisperer" spirit, or simply my kind and sweet disposition, but that would be awarding these creatures more sense than is their due. Instead, it was most likely because the roosters attack the hens at every opportunity, frequently keeping them from the food. If this little henny penny had been sent in to hiding, she most likely came to me because I came bearing food and had, as yet, never tried to rape her.

So there was this funny scared little thing, pecking at the soggy chocolate chip cookies in the bowl (don't ask) and happy as a little hen clam can be. I let her sit there for a few minutes and she clucked and made what are possibly the sweetest little noises known to chickendom. I was, of course, utterly charmed. I have a thing for all things that need protection and gentleness(Which may explain my sometimes questionable taste in men. But that's another story.) And at this moment, the sun broke through the gray clouds, bathing everything in a gold light, glittering the fruit trees and grass with diamonds, warming the air. I looked around me and saw the bunnies hop out of the blackberry patch, the air became alive with insects, the dogs lay all around, tongues lolling, enjoying the warmth on their backs. It was a moment of such utter, benign joy that I couldn't help but feel completely at peace.

Of course, that feeling had to pass. It was then I noticed this gory, horrible gaping wound on the back of the hen's head, which is why she's been too scared to come out and eat. Roosters really are nasty creatures. So I chucked henny penny under my arm and headed to the well house to find an old pet carrier for her to roost in for a few days while this thing heals. This was made harder by Velvet, black lab puppy of Doom, who was leaping and snapping at the hen in my arms, overjoyed that I had FINALLY provided her with a worthy toy. And that slavering maw was coming inches away, too!!

No shit, there I was (useless SCA reference that will be lost on every one who reads this) in the barn yard, struggling hen clutched under one arm, mice infested cat carrier in the other, kicking and flailing at this leaping black Pooka (folklore reference, may be lost on most) while Chief, alpha male of the horse herd is kicking at the metal portion of the fence to remind me that the horses rule this farm and they get fed first, lady. Boom Boom Boom. In short, it's chaos.

And I look up, and over the horse corral, really only a good softball lob away, is this gorgeous white bird. Smaller than a hawk, and way sleeker, startling white with gray areas on her wings. A kite of some sort, possibly a white tailed kite? I'm not a bird person. Thank heavens for google. It was just the most beautiful bird I have ever seen. Compact and graceful in every way. There is this moment when she is right in front of me over the corral, flying towards me, and she breaks a bit and hovers, staring in a way that seems to look right into my soul. And then she turns and is gone, into the forest at the edge of our land.

And of course, henny got put away and is calm and safe, and the horses got fed and Velvet just ate one of my socks, but I keep seeing that beautiful bird, and the golden sunlight at the end of the day and the sweet safety I was able to give a scared thing. A lot of the personal issues I've been dealing with melted away this evening. I can't help but think that there is some balance at work here. I may struggle with so much, but I am rewarded with so much too. And, in the words of my sifu, "That is a good thing to think on."

Thursday, April 09, 2009


You know what? Bob ate my strawberry!!! I am officially grumpification.

Why doesn't TV listen to me??

I just found out that pretty much EVERY show I actively watch on television and LOVE is about to get axed. That makes me sad because, 1 - I get really passionate about my stories. And, 2 - I feel like my entertainment desires are in NO WAY represented by mainstream TV. WTF?? I'm a nice girl. I work hard to make other people happy and their lives pleasant. Do I not deserve to sit down in front of Hulu and lose myself in some mindless adventure? Why yes, I think I do. TV, however, does not agree that the intelligent, action- and sci-fi loving female section of the viewing audience deserves their effing shows!! When do I get a voice in the media, for the love of God!

I only returned to watching TV this year, when I became captivated by these shows. Prior to this, the cancellation of Firefly sent me into such a period of despondency that I simply couldn't watch anything - all shows left a taste like ashes in my mouth.

If TV takes my shows away, I am no longer a fan of TV. My beloved shows are going to be replaced with more reality TV and mindless teenage drivel completely lacking in creativity and strong female voices: All of my shows are fun and exciting, but also feature strong, badassed, intelligent women who can throw down with the very best. And strangely, none of them look like the emaciated harlots of shows like Gossip Girl. Is it too much to ask that I be shown characters on television that I can ACTUALLY identify with???

TV, you are about to make yourself one hell of an enemy.

In case you haven't seen them, watch these shows: Chuck, Life, Dollhouse (people criticize Joss Whedon's newest, but I find it exciting and agonizing. So shut the hell up and watch,)Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Fringe, Bones (my all time favorite.)
I know that I've been promising pictures, but due to a series of strange and unfortunate events, I am left with a dead battery and no card reader. I am still clicking away in film, but that will have to wait till I can get stuff processed and scanned. So, sorry for the delay!

The promised rain hit two days ago, and Grandma is in code red for craziness. I don't know exactly what she is afraid of, but now I must bar and bolt the house as early as possible - Sevenish? And then go and wake her up and say "Grandma, everything is locked up." She says "Oh, ok," and goes back to sleep. All day long I deal with a constant barrage of worried questions: "Are the horses ok?" "Are the chickens ok?" "Did you check the trough?" and so on, about every 20 minutes or so. And the most annoying thing is that she thinks that we two "girls should not be up here, alone, in this weather. Oh, it's just terrible." Did I mention we have three very close neighbors? And are a 5 minute drive to town? Alone?? Really? Not to mention that fact that I come from a long line of extremely capable women...

Ok, rant over. Sorry to unload, I'm just feeling a little... grumpy.

But. The sky is a moody steel gray that accentuates the gorgeous emerald green of the hills around here. I'm hungry to hike up the hill to the Old Barn, a dilapidated structure inhabited by bats and mice, but I think Grandma might very well have a coronary if I was gone that long.

The rain has caused amazing growth in the garden. I didn't water one day because I was expecting rain, and I didn't water the next day because there WAS rain, so when I went out on the third day to find the tiny nasturtiums at 8 inches, the hollyhocks a foot high, and the tomatoes branching out wildly, I was shocked. The best part was discovering that the strawberry patch was not only full of blooms, as per usual, but had seemingly overnight become full of green berries! I even found one sweet little mostly red one. Two more days an' I'mma eat 'im! But this means I need to get the bird wire up today if we are gonna have any that ripen... Bob sees the strawberry patch as his own personal banquet.

Anyhow, it's almost time to take Grandma to the market - it's my first time driving in rain, so wish me luck!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

You should have seen the sky tonight.

We are expecting a little rain sometime tomorrow am, the news of which is sending grandma to the heights of paranoia - we had to bring the dogs in and lock up the house early tonight. Beware, the sky is falling!!

Speaking of which. Imagine the sky like a dusky bowl over you. To the East are gray, threatening, thick clouds, tinged in a narrow line near the horizon with toasty orange as the sun sets on the other side of the valley. Over head - more gray, with flashes of dark blue and fluffy white as the clouds break up dramatically. And west, the most luminous golden light as the sunset breaks through the clouds and trees to fall, like honeyed fog, on the irises and lilacs at the edge of the yard. It was like dessert.

That's what you missed.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I missed my calling.

I was obviously meant to be the patron saint of all small and ridiculous animals. Or possibly, a duck whisperer.

Yesterday Waffa, one of the girls from the house down the hill, called up to say that her sister, Hannah, wanted to come up and see my mom, "with one of her creatures." I should mention that my mom was about one semester away from her DVM before she quit school to take care of grandma. I should also mention that it is known, far and wide, that Hannah has a menagerie of beasts that she doesn't quite know how to care for. Which is why my parents have two extra dogs. But that's another story. Anyhow, I told Waffa that mom was already gone, but she could send the girl up and I would look at whatever it is. Often, it's a cat, and we all know that I know my way around a cat.

A few minutes later Hannah was standing at the door with a duckling who looked pretty close to choking himself to death. Foam mixed with duckling pellet was coming out of his nose, and he made a raw, gasping sound, which seemed like it was a good sign - better than no sound, right? Hannah was clutching it and weeping. Obviously, the first thing to do was break her death grip on the thing, so I had her put it on the counter and googled "how to save a choking duckling." All I can say is, thank god for the internet. Apparently, this happens all the time, and people litter the internet with how tos. Step 1: Observe. All ducks choke now and again. Ducklings sometimes die from it, but you shouldn't try to help them unless it looks dire. So, with baited breath, we observed. And low and behold, a gasp and a tiny squeek! He was working it loose. So I didn't even bother with steps 2 and 3. Instead, I calmed Hannah and found an eHow on how to raise ducklings that should help her in the future. If she can read. Which my grandmother insists she can't.

I know, I know, I'm your hero, but really, it was nothing.

And, I got pics of the whole thing, but am still waiting on that card reader.