Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween from Abe in a wig!


Farming Like It’s 1889

Last Sunday, I popped out the Slate Run Park with some friends.  We hiked a bit and also visited the Slate Run Living Historical Farm that is part of the park.  I’ve been a few times before and always enjoy it.  This time was no exception! The farm is run by costumed interpreters and everything is done as if it were the 1880’s.  Guests can check out the farmhouse and barn, see all kinds of live demonstrations, hang out with the farm animals, try some period games, and even help with simple tasks (like pumping well water and then watering the veggie garden).

Side view of the farmhouse, and a bit of the veggie/herb garden.

The restored Gothic Revival style farmhouse, from 1865.

Inside the farmhouse–isn’t the trim around the door great?

I also loved this miniature greenhouse they had inside the farmhouse.

The magnificent barn at Slate Run, built by the farm’s 4th owner and later restored by Amish craftsmen.

I can’t remember what kind of sheep this ram was, but look at those extreme horns!  The farm’s livestock consists of heirloom breeds—older breeds that are becoming quite rare due to the rise of factory-style farming.

A rare Slate Turkey (Sometimes called Blue Slate). The Slate Run Living History Farm’s flock of Slate Turkeys accounts for about 18% of the entire population of Slate Turkeys in the world.

The chickens have a gorgeous run and an immaculate coop. If someone were to transport that coop to my backyard, I would love to transform it into an office.

I can’t lie, even though the hog barn was quite lovely and well-kept, the smell was too much for me. The smell in the main barn— a mix of hay, horses, and cows— is one I find nice. But man, pigs really stink.

Maude, a draft horse, was clearly less excited to see me than I was to see her!

A team of draft horses in action, plowing a field. Visitors are following behind, clearing out rocks turned up by the plow.

Next up:  gaming like it’s 1889 and making our own fun with faux-senior portraits!

Show: Tinariwen and Kishi Bashi

Image from musictravellerstwo.blogspot.com

I was lucky enough to attend a pretty amazing show last night:  Tinariwen.  They are a group of Tuareg musicians.  I won’t pretend to have more than a surface knowledge about any of this, and I’m clearly leaving out an awful lot, but here goes:   The Tuareg are nomads from the northern part of Mali and they are going through a pretty intense moment in their history right now.  They are an ethnic minority, and apparently are currently trying to break away from the rest of Mali after a strict form of sharia law was being imposed on them by the ethnic majority.  Then it gets a bit confusing, because apparently a whole different extremist Islamist group has since tried to co-opt their bid for independence?  So the situation sounds bad and like things are still pretty much up in the air, and it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen to the Tuareg going forward.

My husband and I listen to their music, and the chance to see them live was a rare opportunity.  The fact that we’d get to see them at this moment in Tuareg history made it feel even more important to go and to try and get some kind of further understanding.  I’m glad we went.  The show was good, and fascinating.  I often felt like I didn’t really understand what I was seeing or hearing, and I wished I had translations of what they were singing, but it was still quite moving.  Particularly moving to me was seeing the Tuareg audience members who were clearly so proud of the band, proud to be there, and just loving the show.

(I hope I haven’t totally muddled things terribly in my too brief synopsis, here’s an article with more detail:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/24/mali-africa)

A huge surprise and extra treat was that Kishi Bashi was the opening act.  Kishi Bashi is Kaoru Ishibashi, a crazy-talented musician who constructs the most amazing, beautiful music by singing, playing violin, beat-boxing in Japanese, and looping as he goes and then playing with the speeds at which he plays back the loops and layering it all.  And he does it all live, solo.  It was jaw-dropping, gorgeous, and very joyful.  So good.

Desktop Greenhouses

Houseplants are a tricky thing for me:  I like the life and the green that they provide but I don’t always enjoy the upkeep.  Especially since a large part of that involves trying to keep our two tenacious cats from pulling the plants over, eating them, getting sick, and also using the pots for potties.

Then I noticed a miniature greenhouse, socker, in the new Ikea catalog and saw its plant-saving potential.  So now this is happening on the desk right by our front door where we stash and sort mail:

We ended up getting a pair.  I rather like them. They currently house some succulents, a wee orchid, some rosemary, some sage, and some thyme.  Fresh herbs during winter!  They don’t actually hold very much, but for now that’s fine since I’m just dipping my toes back into the whole indoor  plants thing.  And no cat problems after two weeks!

Oh, Ikea, you wily bunch of Swedes.  This doesn’t mean I’m letting you off the hook for the whole deleting-women-from-your-catalog-business (for shame!), men dessa är ganska bra.

It also occurs to me that I should scoop up the next interesting bird cage I happen to come across for a similar purpose. Duh.  I’m kicking myself for not having done so in the past.  Because how cute are these?


I found this image on designmanifest.blogspot.com

Crunchy Leaves

Off work today and enjoyed a slow, sleepy morning.  Then my husband made the most amazing, perfect for a chilly fall day kind of breakfast:  biscuits with homemade maple sausage gravy, polenta corn grits with spiceberry pawpaw jam, and an egg.  I don’t think the photo does any kind of justice to how delicious and satisfying a meal it was, but it was like a hug for the spirit.

Then we saddled up the pups and went for a walk out at Tall Pines.  We’re due for some crazy thunderstorms later today, so the sky was pretty ominous, but the changing leaves sure were pretty.  And crunchy!

I guess now we’re ready for that rain.

Searching for Sugar Man

Yesterday afternoon my husband and I met some friends at the local independent movie theater (hooray for local independent movie theaters!) to catch a screening of the fascinating documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”.  So glad we did.

It is a beautiful and moving film.  I can’t really describe it better than the preview does, so I’ll link that below.  But what I can say is this:  if you watch this film and you are not moved by the story of Rodriguez, it is hard for me to even imagine the bizarre amalgam of cheez whiz and tar you must have in place of a beating heart.  Go see this film.