Saturday, February 14, 2009

Have You Seen the Jack in the Green?

When I was a kid, I used to listen to my brothers' rock & roll records.
One of my favorite groups was Jethro Tull.
I especially liked their album "Songs from the Woods,"
and one of my favorites from that album was the song
"The Jack in the Green."
Jack, or the Green Man, is a genuinely interesting figure
(despite his popularity in the unscientific community of Unsubstantiated Wierd Theories)
and I particularly like these views of green men,
all taken from England's Southwell Cathedral chapter house.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Teacher's Valentines

A stack of papers on the table lie,
A box of chocolates eliciting a sigh,
Red satin bliss concealing sweets within--
Ah, grading pencil, wouldst thou from me fly!

Pink Heart Cookies!

I love to make pink heart cookies for Valentine's day!
It's a lot of fun, especially if you have a nephew to help.
You do have to have some time.
First you let the butter soften to barely room temperature,
and you gather your ingredients.
Then you let your nephew mix them all up:

My recipe calls for rolling the dough to about 1/4" thick,
between two sheets of waxed paper,
which sounds like a pain but actually saves a lot of dough-sticking
to the rolling pin and other cleanup hassles.
You then refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes
(while you make your nephew address his valentines for school)
and then he can cut the cookies out:

Baking them took longer than I expected,
and then I had to wait for them to cool,
before I frosted them with pink buttercream frosting,
(and let them sit overnight before you store them/stack them)
but aren't they BEAUTIFUL??

Oh yes, and we need a quality check, too!
It looks like they're good!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Night Cross Country Skiing

Aspen Grove lodge has a good group deal on night cross country skiing.
This week I went up there with the OAC.
It was absolutely gorgeous, not too cold,
half a moon, lots of stars,
nice groomed trail and snow on the pines.
I didn't have a tripod and the above photo
is just a shadow of the gorgeous night.
The bottom group picture is more successful.
We did have a good time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Snake Habits

One of the neat things about having a snake is observing her behavior.
Watching Lady Mortimer drink, for instance,
which she does several times a week.
She usually likes to drink when I have just refilled her water dish
(and I try to do this very frequently, and keep the dish very clean)
but she can tell the difference between fresh water and stale stuff that's been sitting there for awhile,
and when I've refilled it she will come over and investigate.
That's often when she drinks.
She lowers her head to the water and I can see her throat moving slightly,
and I often count.
Fifteen seconds is a moderate drink.
Thirty seconds is a long drink.
I usually don't have time to go for my camera,
but the other day she was really thirsty- she was there for a whole minute.
That will last her for a day or two.
Her eyes are milky in the above photo because she is getting ready to shed.

Late last night I was watching TV and I had put Lady Mortimer in her 'snake bag' to hold her.
(This is a tightly-velcroed mesh bag that I sewed in order to contain her, and I also sewed a carrying strap so I can put it around my neck- as part of my 72 hour emergency kit, I was thinking how I would keep Lady Mortimer safe and warm, and pretty much the only way to do it if the power goes out is to use my own body heat, and the bag makes sure she can't escape. It comes in handy when I have to take her to the vet, too.)
Anyway, sometimes when I am holding her in the evening and I get drowsy I put her in my snake bag so if I drop off to sleep I won't wake up and find her disappeared.
(I used to trust in my ability to find her again, but not after last November's Big Disappearing Act.)
Anyway, I'm glad I did put her in the bag, because I did doze off.
I woke up to a small scratch, scratch noise, repeated over and over.
She had been very dry and crackly on her outer skin and so I knew this was the start of her shed.
I have rarely seen her at the beginning of her shed.
I put her back in her cage so that she will have more surfaces (like her climbing stick and her hiding log) to rub against, which seems to help her pull the old skin loose.
Meanwhile, here's a view with her head completely free (both eye caps pulled right off, a good healthy sign).
I also turned on the humidifier to help her shed more easily.
I expect next morning I shall come back to find a dry old skin and Lady Mortimer looking nice and shiny in her cage.