From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Sandy Moon

A historic October moon


The nearly-full moon was shining like a headlight in the sky a couple of nights ago when I took this picture. It's completely full and even brighter tonight.

The full moon in October is the "Hunter's Moon", or the "Dying Grass Moon," or the "Travel Moon", according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. Those are good-enough names, but East Coast residents will remember it as the "Hurricane Sandy Moon."

Hurricane Sandy with its rain and wind and storm surge couldn't have happened at a worse phase of the moon. Because the moon is full, the high tide came in farther today than it will at any other time during the month. This combination of natural forces is filling the subways of New York City with water tonight and flooding Long Island, Staten Island, and Manhattan.

If you'd like to check on the hurricane in the New York City area without commentary from a news reporter, here are some webcam links that were posted by Natasha Lennard to a hurricane liveblog at Salon.com:

The webcams won't work if their electricity is off. When I tested these links, I got mixed results.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October in Christian County, Kentucky

Fall pictures


Dramatic sky

I pulled off "The Boulevard" (Ft. Campbell Blvd. in Hopkinsville) to take this picture of the spectacular colors in the sky. Just a few moments later, the sun went behind a cloud, and the brilliance was gone.

Pair of pintos

I'm not sure whose horses these are, but I don't think a Mennonite owns them. They're too flashy in color, and besides, I don't think a Mennonite would turn his horses loose in the woods. They'd be too hard to catch if he needed to go somewhere.

Gold and blue landscape

I took this photo early in October. Since then, autumn colors have deepened, and many of the leaves have fallen. The maples in our yard have lost nearly all their leaves. The oaks tend to hold their leaves longer.

Autumn wildflowersRed berries

These fall wildflowers are growing along the "Town Fork" of Little River (as it was called in earlier times) in Hopkinsville. The lavender flowers are little wild asters. I saw the red berries along the banks of Little River, too. If you know what sort of berries they are, please tell me in the comments. I think there's honeysuckle in that tangled mass of vegetation -- it is so terribly invasive, once it gets started.

Bolts of cloth

Keely has been sewing Halloween costumes. I went with her to WalMart one afternoon to help pick out fabric. We didn't see anything there that suited her. A few days later, she came out here, and we looked through my stash and found some pieces she thought would work. I am pretty sure I'll never get all the fabric in my stash sewed, so I like to share it with Keely every now and then.

Taillights of a buggy

On the Sundays that I work, I often see buggies going through Hopkinsville at about the same time that I'm heading home myself.  Darkness arrives earlier now, so I wish the families in the buggies would head home a little earlier. I am careful when I see their four flashing taillights, but I fear that other drivers are not.

I think this is a Mennonite buggy, as it has a triangular slow-moving-vehicle sign. The Amish don't like the triangular orange sign -- they recently agreed with the State of Kentucky that they will outline their buggies in silver reflective tape instead. I am not sure if the local Amish use battery-powered headlights or not.

UK-blue Christmas tree

And finally, just a reminder that the holiday season has already begun. I don't remember ever seeing a blue Christmas tree before, but I'm surprised I haven't. The citizens of Kentucky really support the UK teams.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Signs of a Hard Winter

Persimmon seeds, wooly worms, and such


One of my daughter's supervisors at work is a fruit and nut grower as well as a veterinarian. Keely tells me that he has been reading the persimmon seeds lately -- that is, cutting the seeds in half and looking at the shape of the divider between the two parts of the kernel. He says that this year, the persimmon seeds have knives in them. That means that this winter will be cold and icy, with cutting winds, according to Kentucky folklore.

If the persimmon seeds had forks inside them, that would foretell a mild winter, and if they had spoons, we should expect a lot of snow to shovel. (Or so it is said.)

Supposedly, nature gives various warnings of a bad winter. Have you noticed any of these lately?

  • Ant hills built extra high
  • Squirrels gathering nuts early
  • Squirrels burying their nuts extra deep
  • Squirrels building their nests low in the trees
  • Unusually bushy squirrel tails
  • The north side of a beaver dam more covered with sticks than the south side.
  • Hoot owls calling night after night
  • Wide black bands on the woolly worms
  • Solid black woolly worms
  • Cattle digging the ground and facing north day after day
  • Hickory nuts with heavy shells
  • Pine cones opening earlier than usual
  • Tough apple skins
  • Thick onion skins

I'm hoping for a somewhat harder winter than we had last year. I hope we get enough rain and snow to replenish the water table, and I hope we have at least one good cold snap to kill some of the insects and bacteria. I don't want any ice storms, though. I hope the knives in the persimmon seeds are right about the cold but wrong about the ice!

- - - - - - - - - -

If you liked this list, you might also enjoy Weather Lore: A Collection of Proverbs, Sayings, and Rules Concerning the Weather by Richard Inwards, a past president of the Royal Meteorological Society. published in London, 1898. It contains weather wisdoms from around the world, including the United States.  

Thirteen Amish Proverbs

Collected from my Amish cookbooks


I've bought several Amish cookbooks at local Mennonite stores over the years. All of these cookbooks are from the "Pennsylvania Dutch" country of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Like many church cookbooks, they include some pithy bits of advice for living, in addition to the recipes. Here's a "Thursday Thirteen" sample of some of the proverbs.
  1. There are just as good fish in the sea as ever were caught.
  2. A barking dog seldom bites.
  3. Bend the sapling before it's too late.
  4. A smooth tongue often hides sharp teeth.
  5. Easy got, soon spent.
  6. It's a poor hunter who does not always have one barrel loaded.
  7. Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.
  8. The laborer is worthy of his hire.
  9. If you swear while fishing, you won't catch anything.
  10. Girls with fat cheeks have hearts like flint.
  11. It is easier to fall than to get up.
  12. The old bull keeps on bellowing.
  13. When lost in the woods, look up a tree.
Numbers 8 through 13 must be classics. Each one of them appears in several of my cookbooks, with both the "Dutch" version and the English translation.

    You might enjoy some of the other Thursday Thirteens around the web today.

    WPA tourism poster. depicting an Amish family
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    CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
    (Author unknown)

    IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
    (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

    Thanks for reading.