Saturday, May 30, 2009


Lobsters were on sale at the local general store today. What kid doesn't like to look at a tank of live lobsters? Willow put the pressure on me when I commented the price was good. $5.99 a pound for hard shell.

So I bought this one which weighed 1-1/4 lbs and cooked it off when we got home. Dropped in a pot of boiling water and boiled for 12-15 minutes, or until an antennae pops out easily with a quick jerk.

Lots of folks eat theirs shelled, hot and dipped in melted butter. I prefer lobster rolls, so I chilled mine for picking this afternoon.

I have many years of professional cooking under my belt,and I learned how to pick lobsters from a wonderful woman named Andrea. Most chefs know their way around a french knife well enough-10-14 inches of wide blade which comes to a point. I have frightened many friends merrily chopping away while meeting their eyes in conversation. Andrea, however, was a different story. She scared ME.

Proper knife use teaches one to have the back of the blade in contact with the holding hand or fingers, so you always know where the sharp end is at. Well, picking lobster starts with dismembering it-the tail gets snapped off the body with a twist, the large claws and knuckles in the same manner. This is where most folks pick up the mallet. Not Andrea.

After twisting off the smaller pincer, she showed me to hold the end of the claw/leg with the back curve of the large pincer resting on the cutting board. Then with a wild wave of the french knife, she would stick the knife blade in the end of the large claw above where the small pincer had been removed, and then with a twist, neatly split the shell revealing the claw meat.

Then she would repeat the process with both knuckles, and then the other claw. She could pick a lobster in under a minute. I use the technique she showed me, but am a little more hesitant with my wild swing. I raise the knife only about a foot before the thwack, and often have to repeat once or twice to get the blade deep enough for the twist.

Andrea, on the other hand, used to raise the knife about two feet above the board with each thwack, while meeting your eyes in conversation. "Thwack, thwack, thawk!!" One side done...eek!

We used to chuck the bodies and legs, but tonight I grabbed a toothpick and picked out each individual leg. I might have gained another tablesppon of meat out of eight legs, but that was ok. Into the Hellman's mayo they went, slapped on a grilled bun with a shock of lettuce. Mmmm. I had three-well, they were a little skimpy, but Yum.

Rest in Peace, Freddie. (lobsters were called Freddies at one place I worked)

Cemetery squirrels nuts about U.S. flags

Rogue rodent discovered robbing graves of Old Glory

Times Herald
• May 30, 2009

If he didn't see it happen, Ron Ceglarek said he probably wouldn't believe it.

A squirrel -- weighing about 3 pounds -- got up on its hind legs, tore a small American flag from a small staff next to a grave stone, rolled it up and carried it up a tree to a waiting mate building a nest.

It happened not just once, but about dozen times.

"He plucks them right off," Ceglarek, superintendent of Mount Hope Cemetery in Port Huron, said of a rogue squirrel that is stealing flags. "If I didn't see it, and I didn't follow the squirrel, I never would have believed it."

complete story with photos:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Time for a little Brecht

More rain. I have been spending hours researching family history on my Mother's side. My father's side has already been covered back to 1066 on Granpa's side (in fact, Granpa wrote a big book on it) and Gigsy's (paternal grandmother) back to the 1600's. You think that would be good enough for me, but that big blank hole on my mother's side was getting to me.

Some things about family history are fun. I already knew that a g-g-g + granpa had been an instigator in the Gunpowder Plot. Then I found out that a more recent one had married an offspring of a man who refused to sign the Constitution, wrote the Virginia Bill of Rights, and wasn't happy until the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution. So, he's a great great something grandpa too.

Back to Mom's side. On her father's side I actually managed to go back six or seven great grandfathers to where he came over from Germany. Then his son's wife was scalped by Indians. She managed to chuck at least one child into the thicket to hide them (she had six at the time). She was then taken, along with one of her sons, and another woman. Unfortunately gggggrandma was pregnant and unable to keep up, and was tomahawked and scalped en route. The other woman managed to escape to sound an alarm, and a party went after the Indians. The Indians, led by Chief Killbuck, a Delaware, had split into two groups, and there was a great fight with one of them.

Gggggg uncle, then aged 11, made his way into Ohio with some of the tribe and lived with the Indians for 10 years and ten months. During that time, he had children with Killbuck's daughter, Naddie Nyeswanan. He later returned after being collected by my gggggggrandfather, his brother. I have no idea at present what became of Naddie, but there are Killbuck descendents with gggggguncle to this day.

Somewhere in that time period one of those great grandpas instigated an uprising against the colonists in favor of King George. Mostly it was in protest of the huge taxes being levied to pay for the colonist's army. It included raising a British flag in defiance, which helps me to understand why my mother used to love to shout, "Raise the flag!"

Now I understand why I get so riled up about politics-apparently it's in the blood on both sides!

Well, I was stumped trying to chase back my maternal grandmother's line, so I tried to persue maternal great X 7 grandpa back into Germany. The name spelling reverted, and I spent several hours learning all about Europe's warring history in the early 1700's. I actually found a matching name going back to the 1500's in the Netherlands if I added a "van".

Not many of those leads were in a language I could read, but I stumbled upon a later Brecht still in Germany. Actually my original American ancestor was so mad about the taxes he went back to Germany, along with one of his sons, so I suppose this one could be a distant cousin.

Here is a poem by Bertolt Brecht

Ich will mit dem gehen, den ich liebe.
Ich will nicht ausrechnen, was es kostet.
Ich will nicht nachdenken, ob es gut ist.
Ich will nicht wissen, ob er mich liebt.
Ich will mit ihm gehen, den ich liebe.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rainy Day Poems

Ok, they're not about rain, but they're poems. ;)


Ah you don’t want to,
you’re scared
of poverty,
you don’t want
to go to the market with worn-out shoes
and come back with the same old dress.

My love, we are not fond
as the rich would like us to be,
of misery. We
shall extract it like an evil tooth
that up to now has bitten the heart of man.

But I don’t want
you to fear it.
If through my fault it comes to your dwelling,
if poverty drives away
your golden shoes,
let it not drive away your laughter which is my life’s bread.
If you can’t pay the rent
go off to work with a proud step,
and remember, my love, that I am watching you
and together we are the greatest wealth
that was ever gathered upon the earth.

Pablo Neruda

To Have Without Holding

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

Marge Piercy

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I read this except from an AP news article a couple of days ago:

"Cheney has always been straightforward. But when he walked in Bush's shadow he had to temper his public remarks, stay on the White House message. He could manipulate the levers of powers behind the scenes, which conjured up the image of "Star Wars" villain Darth Vader."

Associated Press Writer

Honestly, did she ever watch the Star Wars saga? He is much more analogous to Darth Sidius, aka Senator Palpatine, aka the Emperor.

My apologies to Ian McDiarmid.

Friday, May 22, 2009


These solitary hills have always been dear to me.
Seated here, this sweet hedge, which blocks the distant horizon opening inner silences and interminable distances.
I plunge in thought to where my heart, frightened, pulls back.
Like the wind which I hear tossing the trembling plants which surround me, a voice from the inner depths of spirit shakes the certitudes of thought.
Eternity breaks through time, past and present intermingle in his image.
In the inner shadows I lose myself,
drowning in the sea-depths of timeless love.

Giacomo Leopardi

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Foxes, seagulls, and alewives

Today we decided to check on the alewive run. Alewives are fish that are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean for several years to mature, and then return the their freshwater place of birth to spawn. They may leave and return to spawn several times.

On the way there, I saw something brown and tumbling in the highway breakdown lane. I slowed and to my astonishment I saw several fox kits. (Two in this photo-one behind)

Then I saw an adult fox. I parked in a precarious position snapping off photos while the saplings and I stared in astonishment. I tagged my photos as vixen, but I think this may have been the dog fox.

I can't see any mammary glands, and the kits are begging at the mouth, not trying to nurse. The fact that this was high noon, the fox had obviously been running, led me to believe that something disturbed the den and the parent was desperately trying to re locate the four kits.

After a few minutes, they turned and headed back down the embankment, and I tooted the horn at the last cub to hurry them along. There is definitely better cover on the side they were trying to reach, but it was a dangerous undertaking with the high traffic level. Although, the place they were trying to cross was a reduced speed due to a turn off, so it may have been the safest place to cross after all. I questioned whether interfering was the right thing to do.

When we got out at the fish ladder, we disturbed a flock of seagulls that were lying in wait for slow moving fish. Poor Peko freaked out at the sight of this flock cawing and flapping in our direction. Finally we proceeded with much petting and encouragement to the frightened dog.

Here is one of the pools. The dark area is actually many many fish.

The fish swim through waterfalls from pool to pool to reach the lake 41 feet above the bay where they enter.

And here is one of the alwives arriving at the lake after the last leap. This fish was about ten inches long.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Golden Eagle Pair Maine


Sharp eyed Willow spotted the Golden pair and I pulled over and started wildly grabbing pics.

The goldens have been very skittish this year-I suspect the small plane that has been flying low over their range has stirred them up. I am fairly sure it is F & W trying to confirm my report from last year.

Finally the last week or two we have seen them in their regular old haunts-but I don't think they nested this year, since we have always spotted them in pairs, and frequently in a group of four. Two pairs, or previous offspring?

Today we spotted the senior pair-because they are more familiar with us and stayed closer, although still out of rifle shot, I expect, although I am not a hunter, so I wouldn't know.

As I started to pull away, Willow rolled down her window and started giving the alarm call. I asked her why, and she said she felt they were at risk where they were cruising along the road, and wanted to warn them to move back. Gotta love that girl. :-X

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In Loving Memory of Mario Benedetti

Tactic and Strategy

My tactic is
Looking at you,
Learning how you are,
Loving you as you are,
My tactic is
Talking to you
And listening to you
To build with words
An indestructible bridge
My tactic is
Remaining in your memories
I don't know how
Nor with which pretext
But remaining with you.

My tactic is
Being frank,
And knowing that you are frank,
And not selling each other
So that between us
There is no curtain
Nor abyss.

My strategy is,
Deeper and
My strategy is
That one of these days
I don't know how
Nor with which pretext
You finally
Need me.

Mario Benedetti

'Poemas de otros' (1973-1974)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In May

When grosbeaks show a damask rose
Amid the cherry blossoms white,
And early robins’ nests disclose
To loving eyes a joyous sight;

When columbines like living coals
Are gleaming ‘gainst the lichened rock,
And at the foot of mossy boles
Are young anemones in flocks;

When ginger-root beneath twin leaves
Conceals its dusky floral bell,
And showy orchid shyly weaves
In humid nook it fragrant spell;

When dandelion’s coin of gold
Anew is minted on the lawn,
And apple trees theirs buds unfold,
While warblers storm the groves at dawn;

When such delights greet eye and ear,
Then strike thy tasks and come away:
It is the joy-month of the year,
And onward sweeps the tide of May.

When farmhouse doors stand open wide
To welcome in the balmy air,
When truant boys plunge in the tide,
And school-girls knots of violets wear;

When Grapevines crimson in the shoot,
Like fin of trout in meadow stream,
And morning brings the thrush’s flute
Where dappled lilies nod and dreams;

When varied tints outline the trees,
Like figures sketched upon a screen,
And all the forest shows degrees
Of tawny red and yellow-green;

When purple finches sing and soar,
Then drop to perch on open wing,
With vernal gladness running o’er
The feathered lyrist of the spring:

When joys like these salute the sense,
And bloom and perfume fill the day,
Then waiting long hath recompense,
And all the world is glad with May.

John Burroughs


Erethizon dorsatum

This porcupine was sitting in the top of this tree on our road on the way out yesterday morning. Someone on our road has it in for porcupines, and I expected it would be gone on our return. The tree was bowed right over and no sign of the porcupine. So who knows? He may have climbed a bit higher and taken a ride down to the ground, or maybe someone helped him...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta


Tuesday, May 5, 2009



One that got away

Firebird 509

Willow caught this small large-mouthed bass today. It swam away right after the pic. Now they are 2 Willow, 1 Firebird.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cruelty to Animals

The joy went out of fishing for us today.

I turned over a garden bed while Willow plucked worms out of the rich earth and added them to her fishing can. Early afternoon we headed over to the pond.

There was a truck parked along the road, and the Firebird hesitated. A woman was coming up over the stream bank and crossing the road. I could see someone fishing on the dam, so I said, "It's all right, they're not at the cove," and we headed to our favorite spot.

The kids got a few nibbles and we could see the guy on the dam wasn't having much luck. Then he was joined by two women and another man, returned from the stream. The two guys both had poles going, and pretty soon they started reeling in fish. I could tell they were small ones-a couple medium sized bass that didn't look like keepers. A couple times I could see the guys arm jerk after reeling in a fish. I never did see him release any, but he might have been setting them into the water next to him.

Then the kids saw a fish rise and jump within casting range, and got rather excited as they thought the fish were really jumping. The Firebird noticed that the fish rolled belly up and then would flop. Then we saw another. Willow started flipping out.

"They're killing the fish, Mommy, you have to do something!"

"Oh no, they caught another one *sob* YOU HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING"

Between the flopping belly up fish and my crying daughter, I could stand it no more. Willow wanted to go with me so they could see how upset she was. I told her to stay put with her brother.

I made my way over to the group on the dam, and said,"Hey, how's it going? I'm glad to see you all are having a good time and catching a lot of fish, but a couple of the ones you have caught have floated back into the cove and my daughter is crying and very upset. If you have to rip the hook out, could you please just chuck them over the dam so they don't float back into the cove? We like to fish here a lot and don't like to see dead fish floating in the cove."

One of the women kept nodding and saying, "ok" and the guy she was with glanced at me a few times with dirty looks. I didn't notice the other couple too much during my speech.

I went back to the kids who wanted to leave, and I had been planning to leave, and then thought better of it and said we should stay, mostly because I didn't want them to move over into the cove and continue their antics.

The Firebird opted to leave, and a few minutes later the foursome left too. By then the closer of the two flopping fish had drifted a little closer to shore further up, so I walked over for a better look. I could see they were small pickerel, what a lot of people consider "trash fish", since they are very bony.

The belly of one looked a little odd, but by that time I started worrying about repercussions-meaning retaliation towards me for speaking out. They had seen us arrive and the Firebird leave, and knew where we lived. So we left- Willow was too upset to fish anymore.

It was only a little later I realized what I had seen. I had thought that the flopping fish had swallowed the hook and the jerking arm was the guy ripping the hook out, which is a death sentence for the fish. That is why I cut the line if they swallow the hook and I can't easily remove it.

That is what the fishing regulations say to do, claiming that the hook will rust out quickly and the fish will be fine. Just cut the line as close to the hook as possible.

But the facts started adding up: that both fish were pickerel, and I had also seen him reel in small bass, the mark on the belly, and the fact they were using lures and not worms (worms more likely to be swallowed) Horrified, I put it together. The guy had deliberately sliced the fish in the stomach and tossed them back. Yep, to die sufferring. That bastard.

I spent some time afterwards wishing I was a big tough guy and had realized when I was still there. I would have punched the guy and pushed him into the pond.

Yes, I know we harass the fish catching and releasing them, and we torment the worms by impaling them on the hook-so are we much holier than he?

In my own defense, I will say that I cultivate the worms-I feed them compost and aereate the soil. Every year there are more and more in the garden. I am very selective about the ones we take-and make sure to leave plenty where they are. As soon as we get home, the remaining worms go back into the garden.

The fish we care about too-I have tried to teach the saplings how to catch one in a way that hooks them correctly. I wet my hand before touching the fish, since I was told years ago a dry hand takes the natural oils out of the fish and harms them. I try to remove the hook as quickly as possible and enjoy watching them swim away more than watching them come in.

I don't care what kind of fish we catch since we let them all go anyhow. I don't really like pickerel myself,(think slimy alligator with fins) but I feel what that guy did was outright cruel. Makes me wonder what other things a person like that is capable of doing? :(