Now, where did I leave that?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Feeling Squirrelly

This year we've noticed hordes of squirrels squirreling away winter sustenance.  There seems to be a frenzy of hoarding among squirrels and chipmunks, not unlike the rush on bread and toilet paper that happens every time an inch of snow is predicted. They race across the road, up trees, and perform highwire acts clutching walnuts as big as their heads in their mouths.  Linda and I agree we haven't before seen such squirrel intensity, but also concur it's possible we're noticing it more because we're out every day with Yeti.  We've also been catching sight of a flock (flocks?) of ugly, comical wild turkeys as they determinedly scratch and forage in assorted yards along our dog-walking routes.  Did you know wild turkeys roost in trees? It's a very weird sight to behold!  Frankly, given the air shattering report of shotguns all around us these days, if I were a turkey, I'd be following Weight Watchers....a skinny turkey has a longer lifespan in Fall than a well-fed one.
We too have been acting squirrelly, and it feels wonderful; we're just a wee bit smugly snug here in our little nest.  The freezer is slowly filling up with chili (okay, I'm dying to make some terrible pun about chilly chili in the freezer....), sausage and white bean stew, cassoulet, carrot soup, pumpkin bread; this is the time of year when one begins longing for hearty, homey meals eaten by the fire.  On Sunday we received our three tons of pellets to keep the aforementioned homefires burning through the Winter.  Linda has new warm slippers on the way, and I have a brand new pair of Solmate socks waiting for that first snowstorm.
The socks came from the Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend, and the preparations for Winter continued as we browsed the countless exhibits and vendor booths.  In addition to having already secured delicious yarn for two more scarves and a blanket (all of which I'm trying to complete by Christmas!!) between my two local yarn shops--Country Wool in Germantown and Amazing Threads in Saugerties--I left the festival carrying lots of roving for practicing spinning (including some luscious alpaca); some fleece (gray and cream from Cricket, a Lincoln sheep, and a black-dark chocolate-milk chocolate fleece from Ozzie, a Border Leicester/Romney  lamb); and some felting kits so I can finally try my hand at that. The next two months will be consumed with knitting, with breaks for felting because I dearly want a felted sheep on the tree this year, and because one of those felting kits could yield the perfect accessory scarf for someone I know.  The roving and the fleece are for the deepest part of Winter, when the holidays are past, when the January craziness at work subsides, and the days are cold, gray, and easily remedied by the shush of the by-then-it-will-be-stained-and-assembled spinning wheel, and the heat of the fleece-washing water.
So we're squirrelly these days, here in the foothills of the Catskills, and the nuttiness feels good!

Friday, October 8, 2010

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

This morning someone posted a link on Facebook about a Southern Baptist minister coming out against yoga..."Mohler said he objects to 'the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine.'"  Wow.  Granted, I don't practice yoga enough to even call my practice sporadic, but I object to the very idea of the separation between body and soul and Divine.  I could almost--almost--feel sorry for him.  My prayer this moment is that those Christians who have found peace in their yogic practice continue to embrace it as the gift from God/dess that it is.  Perhaps if Albert gave it a try, he would experience the enlightenment he's so afraid of.
Ah, but this morning is too beautiful to waste on railing against the Christian Right.  A crystal blue sun-kissed sky, blushing mountains, crisp leaves, a very huggable dog, and ten days' vacation ahead of me are more deserving of my attention.  For a vacation, the to-do list is pretty long, but in addition to those mundane things like housecleaning and finally dealing with the pantry I've wanted to tackle since February, there's Fall decorating, pumpkins, painting (the stairs), seasonal cooking, long walks in the woods withYeti, Autumn in Austerlitz with Linda, wonderful people coming to visit, the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival (which changed so much for me a year ago),  and 'just' embracing October with all the attention and passion one showers on a lover.  Want to join me?  Go outside, and just breathe it in--take in October in all her luscious, abundant, radiant glory...pick some apples, hug a pumpkin.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ode to Joy

Saturday was a Raising Alpacas 101 course at Spruce Ridge Farm in Chatham.  The drive there itself was worth the price of the was a glory-ous perfect and perfectly Fall day, so beautiful and exquisite it literally brought tears to my eyes from the sheer joy and beauty.  The air was so clear it would have shattered if dropped.  Country roads were lined with golden leaves, and the colors, while perhaps dialed down a bit because of the stresses of the Summer, still glowed richly in the early morning sun.  Three+ inches of rain last week washed everything clean, and revived what is still growing.  I truly felt blessed, and wanted to skip the class, kidnap Linda from work and just ride through the day.  But off to the class I went...Steve McCarthy did a marvelous, honest, detailed class, not wasting a minute.  He shared his passion with our little class of three, but didn't sugarcoat anything, for which I'm deeply grateful.  We learned everything from the history of alpacas to parasites that infect them, to lessons in fiber, to how to trim alpaca toenails.  We learned that dogs and alpacas are a bad mix.  We toured the immaculate farm, and got lessons in the practicalities of creating shelter and fencing for alpacas.  We met Emma from a distance--and congratulations! Steve emailed us yesterday that Emma's newest cria--a girl--was born at 10am--as well as a few others up close.  I would have loved to come home and entitle my blog post I Hugged An Alpaca Today, but it turns out alpacas are shyer than I'd thought, and while they may look cuddly and huggable, many aren't even fond of being petted, let alone hugged.  And we were provided with a delicious lunch to accompany the heaping plates of food for thought (trust me, I brought home plates of the latter!)
I went wanting, among other things, the physical and financial realities, and the course generously and in detail gave us those. Very sadly, raising a herd of alpacas appears to not be in our future.Their lifespan is too long for us to want to start at our ages; the financial realities--the financial outcomes--are far less than we'd hoped....meaning we'd be adding more work to full schedules, not exchanging one type of work for another; Yeti wouldn't have 'a job'; she'd have one more 'no' in her life. We haven't ruled out raising a couple as fiber animals, and plan to keep considering it...and in fact, I think I hope we really do make that choice. But the idea of turning the property into pasture and raising alpacas in volume isn't going to happen. Our own decisions aside, if anyone is ever even thinking about such a thing, I can't sing Spruce Ridge's or Steve McCarthy's praises enough....
Today is Monday....and while the weekend blew by faster than October leaves in a stiff wind, I'm giddy.  I'll work today through Thursday, and then I'm off from work for 10 days!!!!!  Time off in October--can anything be sweeter?