altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Yes, I know, official meteorological spring began a month ago and astronomical spring two weeks ago. But one of our significant measuring points was hit over the weekend: our ducks began laying eggs. The first two are in the fridge along with four more left in the hay storage by the neighbors' wandering hens.

Also, I got some sour jelly beans (Starburst, not the best ever but they'll do) so that annual requirement is met. I think last year I never found any at all.

It has been raining on and off for three days. Coming down fairly hard at the moment. I can hear it on the roof and hitting the skylight in the kitchen as well as dripping into the stovepipe (despite the fancy cap that is supposed to prevent that.)

Music chunterings )

Other than going out to care for the horses, I spent most of the day editing and arranging tunes for ThingamaJig. Tomorrow we should see a little more of the sun, but then they tell us to expect some actual snow. Had enough of that now, no thanks.
altivo: Gingerbread horse cookie (gingerhorse)
This may seem irrational gibberish to readers who don't cook. But when it is bitter cold outside and chilly inside, baking bread and simmering soup always seems to make it warmer. Plus you get a good supper from it.

Actually, no soup today. But I did make a new kind of bread. We have many, many shelves full of cookbooks. Most of them have been skimmed more than once, but certainly also most of those recipes have never been prepared here. Triggered by some bananas that were past their prime, I went in search of a yeast bread into which I could put bananas. No difficulty finding many such recipes, but most of them were overly sweetened and had raisins or other fruit added. I was hoping for something lighter and eventually I found it.

Banana and Aniseed Bread, recipe under cut )

We had the bread with our dinner salads and pronounced it a keeper. I'm eager to see how well it works as toast.

Somewhat colder today than yesterday. I went out to clean stalls and make up hay nets at about 2 pm, and had to interrupt that work after 30 minutes to come in and get warm again. Despite heavy mittens, my fingers were getting frostbitten. The temperature was about 13°F but the wind chill was probably below zero. I made tea and got warm, then went out to finish. That took another 45 minutes or so, plus the time to put the horses into their stalls and give them supper. Came back inside with painful fingertips and ears again, and that time I had switched to leather mittens lined with fleece and had a knit cap on over my ears. Woodstove is going again, after I cleaned out the ashes and got it started. Feels much better now.

It's cold

Jan. 4th, 2017 05:14 pm
altivo: Commission line art colored by myself (cs-tivo-color)
Even with the extra insulation, new roof, and modernized geothermal furnace, the house is too chilly for me. Thank Epona there are woodstoves and we have wood. I know, it's adding pollutants to the atmosphere. *shrinks in shame, but isn't shivering*

Experimenting with knitting on a frame (also called a "jenny" or a "rake" or a knitting board.) This because husband Gary asked for a sock knitting frame for Christmas and I got it for him. He has tried conventional knitting but didn't persist long enough to overcome the initial lack of coordination that plagues most beginners. I had doubts that the sock loom would solve that, especially since it is designed for fine yarn and lots of stitches per row. However, when I started him on a larger plastic hoop frame with heavier yarn he took right off and has about two feet of a scarf completed. I gave him several instructional books with patterns and he's already talking about afghans. Consequently I figure I'd better brush up on my own knowledge of the process.

Since I've knitted in the traditional way with needles for more than 50 years, the frame seems slow and clumsy. It also lacks flexibility as to gauge and size. But it does work and I see it is possible to do a lot more with it than I had expected. So, socks are underway and we'll see. In spare minutes here and there I can usually finish a pair of socks in a week or so. This first set may take somewhat longer.

In other news, it's cold. Oh wait, I said that already. At least we could see the sun today and it definitely stayed around later before we were plunged into icy darkness.
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
...of the rest of my life. Or so the saying goes. The weather is gloomy looking but hummingbirds and woodpeckers are busy outside the window. Classical guitar in my ears, I've been awake for three hours already and have not had any coffee. The horses are becoming restive and must be fed soon, but someone else will have to do the interlibrary shipment and catalog yet another James Patterson.

It is also the 33rd anniversary of my first meeting Gary, who is still asleep in the bedroom. He never sleeps well, so I hate to awaken him. Guess I'll go feed critters and bring in eggs without disturbing him. Maybe the impending rain will hold off until after that's done. I should spend the day reconstructing and reorganizing here to clear up the clutter of books and oddments that came home as I cleared out my desk and shelves at the library. The deep gloom of the sky, however, suggests a day spent reading or perhaps sitting at the piano or organ. We shall see. At least there's no hurry...

Or is there? Another imperious whinny suggests that there is. I may no longer have a schedule, but the children do.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
So there are five days left in CampNano and I have about 4900 3023 words left to reach my quota. Should be easy, one would think, for someone who has completed the full Nano several times and that requires a rate of 1667 words per day for 30 days straight. I'm up to the easy part of my story, where I know what comes next and how to say it.

But. There's always one of those isn't there. It's a nice sunny day outside and I want to start garden work. Keeping myself from doing that doesn't hurry the other stuff along.

Another but. Many weeks ago I ordered the newest model of Raspberry Pi single board computer, an amazing little power pack of a machine on a single card about 6x9 cm in size. It finally arrived yesterday and of course the US Mail had flattened the package so I had to make sure it is undamaged. Fortunately, it remained unscathed and I am writing this post on it without difficulty. Unlike the original Pi, of which I also have one, this tiny machine pretty much measures up to my standards for a usable laptop or desktop computer. Other than a bit of difficulty getting my cheap wifi dongle to work (something I never did achieve with the older Pi) there have been no real glitches. The wifi does work, the printer works, web browsing and sound are fine, too.

Husband is working on a term paper for a graduate school class. All of six pages. And he's making it sound like it's just killing him to do it. Of course, it's due tomorrow apparently. Six pages? I don't remember anything that short even being called a "term paper." Those were more often 20 pages in high school and longer in college.

Meanwhile, I'm still not getting my own writing quota done.

The maple trees are finished blooming and starting to produce those little winged seeds. Oaks and wild cherry haven't started yet, but I think the willows and birches are blooming now. Daffodils are just passing their peak. And I have 44 working days left until retirement, which means I also need to do some paperwork for insurance and stuff. Can't put that off much longer.

Right now, though, I need to stop watching birds outside the window and work on this CampNano project.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Well, the tornado-spawning thunderstorms on Thursday seem to have brought spring with them. Blue scylla and white daffodils are opening. I was able to let Tess out into her pasture for the first time yesterday. She only gets about 45 minutes to start with since she has had grass founder in the past and needs to be exposed gradually, but she was excited to go out and behaved well when I made her come back in. The pasture is green now but very wet from the flood of rain earlier in the week. The farrier will approve, as her feet tend to dry out and getting them wet helps.

We have used the charcoal grill a couple of times already, but yesterday we really went in for it big with barbecue slathered chicken breasts, some brats, and fresh asparagus on the grill. Also sweet corn, not the first of the year but probably the best so far.

We had a discussion back at Easter about ketchup. Gary's family always had to have two ketchup bottles, because his dad and one brother liked Brooks and everyone else preferred Heinz. I remembered Brooks ketchup but didn't think I'd seen it anywhere for a while. We went looking and failed to find it at any of the supermarkets we normally visit. Looked for it online and found Amazon selling it for about $8 a bottle. That seemed pretty ridiculous to me. Then yesterday I stopped into Sullivan's, the second supermarket in town and one we usually skip because their prices are on the high side. Sure enough, they had Brooks ketchup for $2.19 a bottle, which isn't outrageous and is only about 25 cents higher than Heinz or Hunts.

Brought one home to surprise Gary, and he was indeed surprised. So, I did a little more research and learned that Brooks started in 1907 with canned chili beans. Ding! Though I remembered seeing the ketchup occasionally, my mom always used Brooks chili beans in her chili. The trademark is the same, and the beans are easier to find. Nearly every grocer around here has them. The ketchup came later in the company's history. According to Wikipedia, the ketchup was manufactured in Collinsville, Illinois, and marketed mostly in the midwest. They have (or had) a water tower there in the shape of a giant ketchup bottle in fact. The Brooks trademark and business has apparently been sold to Birdseye. The factory in Collinsville was shut down, and the ketchup is made in Canada now. However, it still is the same recipe or very close to it. The spicy flavor is unlike the other ketchups even though it now has the dreaded high fructose corn syrup in place of the cane sugar that was once used.

Now I have a craving for chili made with Brooks chili beans too. Also a quest for proper cheddar cheese curds to put into poutine. Anyone know where to get those around Chicago?
altivo: 'Tivo as an inflatable toy (inflatable toy)
Two nights in a row that dropped solidly below freezing, so the pumpkin leaves finally folded up. The tomato trellis had already blown over in strong winds earlier this week, and I didn't try to pick it back up because I knew there was little hope all those green tomatoes would ripen.

Today the sun came out, though it remained very brisk. I dug through the ruins of the volunteer pumpkin patch and retrieved no less than ten slightly immature pumpkins. The two largest ones were the size of cantelopes and still slightly greenish. The rest ranged from croquet ball to tennis ball size and were yellow or orange. All were pretty hefty, so there's hope of getting some usable pumpkin from them for soup or curry if not enough for pies.

Then I picked through the tomato vines and recovered almost five pounds of green or pinkish tomatoes. These are a large cherry tomato that matures at about golf ball size and has pretty good flavor. There were also a couple of volunteer vines from last year that had the small yellow pear tomatoes, and I got a a good double handful of those, all still green. Gary likes green tomato pie, an experiment I tried years ago. It didn't really impress me, but he thinks it's wonderful and these will make two or three pies after washing them and slicing them up. I'll freeze a couple of packages and make him a pie from the rest.

We also went to the farmers' market in Woodstock, which moves indoors to the Farm Bureau for winter. Right now it still opens once a week, but after November it goes to just twice a month I think. We brought back winter squash, honey, and a pound of Brussels sprouts. We just found a newspaper article this week with ten ways to cook sprouts, none of which I've ever tried.

Tonight's version was oven roasted. Split in half, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted for 25 min. at 425F. Halfway through I added apple cubes and sprinkled them with sesame seed. To serve I turned them into a serving dish and sprinkled them with some Balsamic vinegar. They turned out delicious. Gary made the first course, a curried carrot and apple soup suggested by a friend. We also had mashed potatoes from the garden, and Gary's favorite slow cooked chicken with gravy. Apple pie or rice pudding for dessert, both already made up.

I can't wait to try the sprout pizza, and the fried sprouts and onions with eggs.

Clocks fall back tonight. My wind-up clocks are already set back, which I do by stopping them for an hour. Various digital and battery clocks will need to be adjusted yet.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
A productive weekend, more or less, but not nearly enough done.

We went up to Williams Bay, Wisconsin with friend Carol to hear the opening performance of the season by the Lake Geneva Symphony. There were only two pieces on the program.

The first was Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, new to all three of us and (I gather) not often performed. The piece clearly reflects the result of an American visit by the French composer, who used jazz styling and motifs throughout. The timing and nuance are almost Gershwin-like, and reminded all of us of American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue though there were no obvious quotes from either of Gershwin's masterpieces. Pianist Krassimira Jordan was remarkable, virtuoso even beyond what I expected, and that is certainly needed for this concerto. The style is intricate rather than bombastic, and requires passages where each hand plays in a different key or time signature, as well as a lot of cross-hand work. The overall result was very fine and we enjoyed it greatly.

The second selection was Tchaikovksy Symphony No. 4 in F minor, which was all the better for Conductor and Musical Director David Anderson's advance explanation of major themes and elements of the work. The LGSO has improved a great deal (not that it was bad to begin with) under Anderson's direction, and the performance came across very well. The French horns play a major role in this symphony, and they sounded like the noted horn section of the Chicago Symphony this time.

A predicted heavy frost skipped over our small garden, so we still have green tomatoes that "might" ripen before the vines are killed, but hope is diminishing. The plants are heavily laden, but almost nothing has turned ripe yet. The pumpkins I did NOT plant have produced six usable pumpkins so far after sprouting from seeds that apparently made it through last winter in the compost bin. There are many more immature fruits on the ground, but I'm pretty sure the frost is going to cut them off soon. These are the small and heavy pumpkins that can be used for pies and soup, not the large thin-shelled jack-o-lantern variety. We will put them to good use.



On Sunday I also baked a peach pie, bought groceries, tried to photograph the fall colors though it wasn't really sunny enough, and made a pot of cholent. We haven't had cholent for a couple of years and the cooler weather inspired me to put it together. It's a traditional Jewish stew, created to cook slowly overnight from Friday to Saturday so it would provide a hot meal on the sabbath without requiring anyone to cook or light a fire. The principal ingredients of my Hungarian version include small lima beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, turnips or rutabaga, smoked sausage (I use a turkey sausage,) and both hot and sweet Hungarian paprika. I usually bake this in a closed cast iron pot at 250°F for about 8 hours, but this time I opted for a slow cooker set to high temperature. A little red wine added near the end of cooking enriches the blend and enhances the aromas. The smell becomes enticing after about four hours and makes you drool after the sixth. As usual, it turned out well, since it is almost foolproof and requires little attention once assembled.

Whoa!

Mar. 3rd, 2013 08:42 am
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
I'm not sure I can account for all of the time since the last post.

A good bit of it was consumed by just dealing with winter and work, daily routine for me without many breaks or distractions. I don't particularly enjoy that, but it's a horse thing, ya know?

Small things have happened along the way. Max (our latest rescue dog, eleven year old bearded collie) has finally figured out the dog door. He learned to go out on his own a while ago, but never would come back in unless invited or someone held the door open for him. Now he comes back in on his own most of the time. He's good about not doing anything in the house, and we worried about leaving him here for too long unable to get out. Then we worried that he'd freeze outside when he was able to go out but wouldn't come back in unaided. At least that concern is pretty much resolved.

Red, the big lab/golden mix that we rescued a couple of years ago, has developed an autoimmune problem that makes his nose blister and peel. It seems most likely to be pemphigus, which is a nuisance thing for most dogs that have it, but not life threatening. However, it could be lupus which is much more serious. Now awaiting lab results on a biopsy that is supposed to determine which it is and what treatment might be likely to help. During the biopsy they found a large tumor on his tongue and removed that too. Now he's on "soft diet" for two weeks, though his appetite is good and he doesn't appear to be in much discomfort. (Could be the pain meds he's getting, though.)

Weather has been bizarre here. Winter didn't really set in until January, which is very late for us. Fortunate in a way, since we had the two family funerals and attending excursions in November and December. And after last summer's drought, not so good, since we need rain or snow badly. The snow finally came in February, with a vengeance. about 18 inches (official at O'Hare but more like 23 inches by our measurement here) in three big snowfalls. Not done yet, either, as they are predicting another storm for Tuesday-Wednesday of this week with possibly 7 to 8 inches of accumulation. No snow days from work for me, alas. Gary's university did shut down in the last snow, but only as he was leaving for the day anyway.

Gary and his brothers put their mom's house on the market in January thinking that it would probably not attract bidders until spring. Wrong. They had three cash offers in the first week, and the third was for the full asking price. This is a tiny two bedroom brick house on a very narrow lot in Chicago, and not in a particularly trendy neighborhood either so we were surprised. Of course it means they have a big high pressured hurry to clean the house and garage out before the closing which is now only a week away. Since the whole family are "savers," the place was stuffed to the gills and going through all of it is traumatic. I know he'd like to bring a lot more back here, but even he realizes that we have space limitations. Two sewing machines, furniture for two households, and memorabilia reaching back three generations. Plus he's attending two graduate courses with the requisite work to do. I'm trying not to intervene in the triage and decision making. His brothers are picking up their share of the load, fortunately, and I feel it should be their family decision.

He keeps bringing back items that I made and gave to his mom as gifts, which is heart-breaking but sweet as well, and we'll find new homes for them if we can't use them here. Some of these things go back almost 30 years to when I first met him and his family, and I hadn't thought about them for a long time. I have two or three small boxes of similar things from my own mother and older brother, and I've never looked through them from the time the executor of my brother's estate handed them to me. Consequently, I can't complain about his stress and indecision on all this stuff. I was lucky that I didn't have such a huge bulk to sort through. The executor and my younger brother took care of that (it was in Texas.)

I still have a stack of holiday cards and notes that really deserve a reply, since we sent out nothing this year at all. I keep promising myself I'll get to them soon.

So here we are, waiting for a hint of spring. This morning's temperature of 4°F didn't help. I've been neglecting my writing and weaving for months, just doing the chores and trying to stay warm. I've done more reading, and am pushing myself to bake more bread and practice my music more. Additional posts with some of that news soon.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Yeah, I know, it was last night, but it's still really, really bright.

While I was out a-ridin'

The grave yard shift midnight till dawn,

The moon was as bright as a readin' light

For a letter from an old friend back home...

--Michael E. Burton, Night Rider's Lament





Other news: handspinning show finished yesterday, I went in and took it down this afternoon. Now just have to get all those items back to their owners.

Fall color is coming on fast here, proving me wrong in my belief we'd have little due to the long drought. It is intense and widely varied in fact. I should try to get some photos, though the best views in our areas area along roads on which it is difficult to stop and use a camera.

Gary and I agreed yesterday that it was time to unhitch ourselves from Virgin Mobile, so we signed up to transfer to Consumer Cellular. The big guys are just too expensive and don't suit our requirements. We will in fact be getting smart phones (Android) but not by any means the very latest. The final selling point was the no-contract plan that still allows us to share minutes and data over two lines instead of having to pay for two full plans. Activation in one week, looks like. I'm bracing myself for a lot of complaints and explanations of how to do stuff with one of these goofy phones. I mean, who makes phone calls on them? Seems they're all busy playing games and updating their facebook pages.

Arggh

Aug. 30th, 2012 08:48 pm
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
I shouldn't really be writing this, as the lies and false rhetoric of politics are making me violently ill.

However, on other topics. Call sign change is starting to roll now. A number of web sites and directories have picked up the change automatically. A couple implemented it only in part, and needed a nudge from me to put the pieces together. Still waiting on one, where I happen to have a radio-related web page that needs and alias changed. Volunteer administrators, so it probably will take until the weekend to get fixed.

NOAA predicts some rain for us out of the last gasp of the hurricane, but I'm not really anticipating much. We could use some, but it's really too late to save much. The big trees are dropping their leaves at an alarming rate now. I just hope we aren't going to have more dead ones come next year. The burst of grass growth that followed the rains a couple of weeks ago has dropped off when nothing but occasional dew followed. We really need more hay for the winter, and I can't afford to pay the prices being asked, This is not good.

Guild show coming up in a little more than two weeks, and we have only a handful of entries promised. I think this is the last year I will put my energy into that. If they want a show, someone else is going to have to do the arm twisting and organizing. On a brighter note, Gary and I finished the rehabilitation of an antique spinning wheel for friend and ex-boss Harriet, who is pleased to have it back. It now can actually be used for spinning again. We estimate the age of the wheel at something like 150 years. As you might expect, parts had to be fabricated, others were repaired or reinforced. We made no changes that can't be reversed, following the practices of good museum conservators. The whole thing took two years, but obviously we weren't working on it full time.
altivo: 'Tivo in fursuit (fursuit)
Weather was tolerable today, a bit warmer and damper than we'd like, but not the blazing steamy furnace of the past two weeks. That is scheduled to return on Monday, though.

Drove up to Delavan, Wisconsin to attend a performance by the Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra in Phoenix Park. It was just about perfect weather. No biting insects because it has been so dry, a mostly clear sky, light breeze, and temperature in the 70s. The park is a green square in the middle of an old Victorian neighborhood, and it was easy to blot out the utility poles and electric wires along the streets and imagine the setting in 1890 or 1900, with local residents sitting on their porches to listen to the music since there would be no noise of motorcycles, airplanes, or vehicle traffic to interfere with it. Perhaps there were trolley cars on Second St. but I'm not sure. Delavan may have been too small for that. Traffic would have been horse and buggy, and the streetlights probably gas powered.

The performance was nice enough, though really a brass band would be more appropriate to cut through the background noise and carry through the entire square.

Raspberry Pi is now up and running with Raspbian which is specially tuned for the hardware and significantly faster running as a result. The HDMI to VGA conversion box arrived in today's mail, so I can run it with a better display as soon as I clear some space on my desk for it. I will also be able to get it onto the network there and add some packages and do the latest updates.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Somewhat more than an inch of accumulation in fact, complete with lots of pyrotechnics but (thankfully) no hail or high winds. The power kept bouncing off and back on so we shut down the computers, hence no post yesterday evening. Eventually it went down for about a three hour count, but only after I'd already reset all the digital clocks twice thinking each time that the power issues were over. The long failure came hours after the wind, rain, and lightning were ended. Nice work, Comm Ed. ;p

Dentist appointment this morning, did not go in to work. My dentist is in Park Ridge, quite near to Gary's Mom's house, so he dropped me for my appointment and afterwards I met both of them at a nearby restaurant for lunch and then we took her shopping. It was pretty steamy in the city, not as warm as earlier in the week but the humidity was way up there after the rain. When we got home, though, the temperature was dropping into the 70s and a breeze was picking up out of the northwest. It's pleasantly cooler and drier at the moment, though I guess it will start creeping back upward right away.

The young owls were back at the bird baths last night before the storm hit. They vanished, of course, when the thunder and lightning began.

Not enough rain to save the corn crop, it's too late and too little. It may help save the soybeans, though, and should restart the hay that we are going to need before winter. Next chance of an encore is apparently Sunday. A similar rainfall then would be really helpful.
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
Finally they raised the probability of rain to more than 50% and like a miracle, it is raining. Probably not enough accumulation to even begin to break the drought, but at least it is raining a little and has been going at it for a couple of hours. Might be a whole quarter of an inch.

Of course this lands right on top of a planned picnic (two in fact) but I don't think anyone will complain much. At least it will lower the fire hazard for a day or two. I'm afraid it's far too late to save farm crops around here.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Let's see. Our dog Red may have eaten a pair of socks again. He did this once before and eventually barfed them back up. I'm not sure whether he ate the socks or not, but Gary's convinced. What I do know is that I walked into the bedroom and caught the dog trying to eat Gary's underwear next (or first) which was in fact prevented. It's weird. He hasn't done anything like this in more than a year, and we have no idea what set it off today.

On the way to work I was delayed a few minutes by an eviction taking place on the street west of the library. Several cop cars, a lot of people standing around staring, and more furniture and clothing piled on the lawn than I would have thought could be fit into the house. Street was blocked for a while.

Then the blood drive. They use the library for their summer vampirism because the church buildings they use for the rest of the year are not air conditioned. That would be all right, except they take over the entire building, and are very noisy and obnoxious. They also make demands of us, rather imperiously. In particular, they are never happy with the temperature in the meeting room they use for drawing the blood. It's always too cold or too warm, and they will demand to have it changed four or five times in the six hours they are there. They were late clearing out, which displaced a board meeting and a book club meeting for which we had to find space.

Tomorrow I'll go in to work late at 4 pm because I've agreed to play Winston the Book Wolf again for a story hour presentation. As long as the weather doesn't get horribly hot, that should be easy fun. Pretend to eat a book, get chased by "mean" librarian (my boss gets to chase me with a broom.) Sneak back in and sit with the kids until the end of the story, when they get to have pictures taken with me if they like, and make a paper sack hand puppet of a wolf.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
The high temperature barely brushed 80°F. No rain though, and we desperately need it.

Screech owls appear to have found another playground, but we have plenty of dancing fireflies tonight.

Indian food for dinner was good. We haven't been happy with the quality of commercial mango chutneys, so I improvised one from a fresh mango, a lime, a serrano pepper, some raisins, brown sugar, salt and mustard seed. It was pretty good. Next time, more lime, some sweet onion, and a bit of fresh ginger root should make it almost perfect. Tamarind would help but haven't found a source for it. Commercial versions of "Major Grey's" that we can get are both too sweet and too mushy.

Unfamiliar black cat chasing fireflies by the barn tonight so Gary went to investigate. Kitty kept a safe distance but didn't run away, followed him into the barn out of curiosity. This one will bear some watching. Not that we really need another housecat. It's been kind of nice not dealing with kitty litter and stuff the last few weeks...

Pi

Jul. 9th, 2012 10:03 pm
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Raspberry Pi, that is. The tiny computer arrived today. In a tiny box. I do mean tiny. It is less than two inches square and an inch thick for the uncased board with all chips and connectors.

For those of you who don't yet know, Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive ($35) but full powered (750 MHz ARM11 processor, 256MB RAM, ethernet, USB, HDMI and RCA composite video output) computer designed for educational and experimental purposes. It can run Debian and other Linux distributions, or RISC-OS, using a USB power source and a 4GB or larger SDHC card for storage.

Can't test it until I assemble the needed peripherals and cables. USB keyboard and mouse are easy, I have stacks of old ones at work, left from dead machines that were recycled. USB power source I have. I need to get another SDHC card, but those are easy to buy. The main slowdown is that HDMI output. I think I have an old TV in the garage that will take the RCA composite input temporarily, but I'm sure the quality of the image is poor. I have to either buy a new monitor that handles direct HDMI input, or a monitor that takes DVI plus a converter cable, or a conversion box for HDMI to VGA plus audio. Since I have lots of VGA monitors around, I've settled on the latter and bought one off EBay this evening. Will need some cables and ultimately a case of some sort. There are lots of case options available online.

Saw a great horned owl this morning on the way to work. It was just sitting in a dead tree, about 30 feet up. No leaves, so easy to get a good look at it and I'm sure that's what it was. Haven't seen our young screech owls since Saturday night, but we haven't been here to watch every dawn and dusk either. Did see one very large, fat momma raccoon with 3 babies, though. And another weasel started to cross the road in front of me on my way home, but when I slowed down the little guy changed his mind and turned back just like the last one did.

Weather is much more pleasant now, but still no rain. Some clouds today, especially this evening, that looked hopeful but nothing came of it. Now ranked as the most severe drought in Illinois since 1988, which I do remember very well. The 1988 drought is considered the second worst for the state since records began back in the 1880s. I'm afraid hay is going to be very expensive, and we're trying to give away our sheep to anyone who will take them.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Well, except for dessert.

Spinners' newsletter edited and released. Heatwave subsided Saturday afternoon and today was a normal weather day for July. Tess got to go out into the drought-stricken pasture for a few hours and hunt for anything green that might have survived. Screech owls still visiting at dawn and dusk. Still no rain.

From scratch buttermilk waffles this morning. Created homemade pizza for dinner tonight, and baked a pie from a new recipe. "Old Fashioned Sour Cream Raisin Pie" is actually a custard pie made with eggs, sour cream, sugar, and raisins. (Can you guess I'm trying to use up eggs? Three ducks laying daily is too productive.)
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Up the count. Tonight at dusk we watched five young owls arrive on the two birdbaths in the yard, drinking and splashing a bit. The hot weather has continued unabated and I'm sure they're glad of the water. I'm also quite sure that adult screech owls are not so social. These five youngsters must be a brood, all siblings, to stick together so closely and play with one another. Gary tried to sneak around the house and take a picture of them, but as soon as he came in sight they scattered. One remained perched on a fence rail for another ten or fifteen minutes, while the rest headed up into the oaks. We have lots of mice and chipmunks around, though the chipmunks are diurnal so probably the mice are their main prey. And to be honest, they're welcome to take all the mice they can get. I hope they'll still be around to sing for us in the fall. I love the sound of screech owls. It isn't screechy at all, but more like a theremin or a musical saw.

Gary was going to a Civil War recreation this weekend, but the weather is so hot that most of his friends canceled out. Selfishly, I'm hoping he'll stick around and we can do stuff together.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
...there came forth a wind with the force of hellfire itself. Or so it seemed. Heat index 108F and not a breath of air stirring. Thank goodness that the setting sun brings some slight relief. Horses are out in the open again for what little coolness they may find there.

The owls arrived again at dusk, drinking from and playing in the birdbath. This time I quickly switched off the indoor lights so as not to betray my movements and frighten them. I was able to catch one of them in the beam of a flashlight for some length of time, and examine another who sat on a fencepost for quite a while with the aid of binoculars. Though the light was dim, I could make out enough ear tuft to convince myself that they are indeed screech owls (probably young ones born early this spring) and not saw-whet owls. Either is possible here, though the screech owl is more likely. We have heard screech owls fairly often since living here, but this is the first time since spring of 1999 that we have actually sighted the birds themselves. Mice and chipmunks are in great abundance this year, possibly due to a crash in predators. Even feral cats are very scarce this summer, so the little owls should find plenty of suitable prey and we welcome their assistance in keeping these nuisance rodents down.

August 2017

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