15 December 2014

The gift is small, good will is all

Much like other years, Mr. Fuzzy promised himself to get an early start on gift shopping and writing Christmas cards; as usual, an utter failure. At least this time there is an exogenous parameter to blame rather than procrastination or ADD: the day before Thanksgiving the power was out for about nine hours. The precise cause is not certain but despite being connected to surge protectors, a number of electrical devices were toasted, including but alas not limited to:  refrigerator light bulbs (3), DVD player and this computer.

It seemed like bad form to bother the county's sole computer geek over Thanksgiving so it was Monday before the computer was in his capable hands - and Wednesday before he pronounced that the hard drive was alright, only the power supply was cooked. Then a few more days for the replacement parts to arrive and be installed & tested. Eleven full days before the machine was back on the desk, whirring away. To be honest, Mr. Fuzzy had no concept of the extent to which this machine aided and abetted daily life. The camera is at labor nearly every day, sometimes for a single image, sometimes a series, sometimes dozens of unrelated images. Without the computer, I could not view, permanently save, edit, print or send any of those photographs. It was akin to being adrift.

Enough of that.

The title of this post derives from a small poesy vase made in the form of a book in England, January, 1688. Whether the potter made as a gift to his sweetie or at the request of a customer has been lost to time but the sentiment still rings true today.

Some of Mr. Fuzzy's friends are well ahead of him in holiday preparation and gifts have already been delivered at Stratheden Farms both in person and by post. It is unbecoming to brag, but he has the very best friends imaginable, and this has been proven by the gifts recently received.

Today a wee flat packet arrived from Scotland with an awesome array of stamps (see above) carefully applied; that degree of thoughtfulness was a joy to consider. The packet carried three objects safely across the frigid Atlantic: a contemporary Christmas card (as one might expect), the 2015 Lodge St. Andrew installation programme and a priceless wee treasure, a 101 year old pocket booklet containing the 1913 revision of the Lodge's Bye-Laws (the Lodge itself predates the year 1600 and the formation of The Grand Lodge in 1736). How these fragile nineteen pages have survived more than a century is something of a miracle but its is clear from detritus inbetwixt the pages, it was not secreted away inside a book or other protective element all of its life. It gives cause to wonder if the Brother who was the original owner survived the slaughter of Scottish soldiers in The Great War - and how many Brothers pockets held it (and contributed the seeds and lint between the pages) until the next revision superseded it. Held in the hands, it is almost an act of supernatural conjuring, connecting to those long deceased Brothers, to those living Brothers who brought so much joy and fraternal comfort to Mr. Fuzzy, and especially to Brother Morris who gave this inestimable gem to your undeserving correspondent.

Closer to home, a farmer/historian/mechanical wizard friend came by with two small gifts given with a large heart. He had taken Mr. Fuzzy's wailing and gnashing of teeth to heart and brought small gifts that evinced his Brotherly consideration (yes, a Lodge Brother, again) and generosity. To view them, they are diminutive but to the grateful recipient, they are substantial. The first is a pair of unassuming gloves, high visibility orange and black, which happen to be waterproof, insulated, nonslip grip, nearly abrasion and cut proof. Mr. Fuzzy seems to be experiencing the onset of arthritis in his hands, particularly triggered by being cold & wet. These gloves should go a long way to minimize such pain this winter as well as make labor safer. The second gift is  a small cardboard cube containing 325 rounds of .22 match grade ammunition. Anyone who has attempted to acquire such material in the last few years will appreciate the magnitude of this present. Thank you so much, Brother David.

A couple of days ago. my 85 (or thereabouts, a WWII veteran) year old neighbor dropped by to deliver three two-quart containers of frozen home pressed apple juice made this past October. Talk about mana from heaven! There is so much work involved in its creation, from gathering through pressing and bottling then a major clean up ensues. Truly a gift from the heart. Thank you, John and George.

That's not the end of the story but should become the end of this missive lest you, the reader, become bored or believe Mr. Fuzzy's behavior in writing of his blessings is less than untoward. It should be closed by saying that Mr. Fuzzy fears he is inadequate at being as good a friend to others as they are to him.

13 December 2014

Annual Christmas Parade

 Weather has been extreme already this winter (before it was winter!) with three appreciable snows before Thanksgiving and several nights of 11 degrees. I'm already wondering if I cut enough firewood.

 Parades here are always opened by a Veterans of Foreign Wars Honor Guard. Each year one or two less are present. He is not easily visible but the rider in the jeep is 94 year old Lawrence Wood; a life time bachelor, he still lives on his own. He requires neither spectacles nor hearing aids and his mind is perhaps brighter than your correspondent's. God bless these men for their service.

 For the first time in six years, the weather was delightful for the parade, sunny and about 60 degrees. It may be my poor memory but it seems like there were some less entries than earlier years.

 There was an easy winner for "the oddest entry." Can't say why this was in a Christmas parade but must admire someone's mechanical ability in converting a Volkswagen into a tracked vehicle. It appeared to run very nicely, I must add.

As for the most unusual group, it would be the welding society. The Lincoln was fired up and they were actually welding toys as the float slid past onlookers.

Floats may be modest and the virtue of modesty pervades the Brethren's religious beliefs - as does being an active part of the community, This gentleman on his ATV epitomizes these Floyd county attributes.

All parades in this part of the world must have classic cars and old tractors; Floyd county has plenty of both and they always constitute an especially popular genre of the parade.

Any wheeled vehicle can become an entry with some tinsel and other decorations.

Some businesses in Floyd town work hard to decorate and bring a certain sense of nostalgia and beauty. It surprises me each year that those who dedicate so much effort do not shame the non-participants into at least token decor. A realtor occupies a building on the most critical intersection in town and doesn't bother to even place a small tree in one of the windows. Of all the businesses, it would seem to behove his to make the town seasonal and joyful.

08 December 2014

Six years

Dear readers, today marks the sixth anniversary of the first blogpost from Floyd, the 2008 Christmas parade. To quote a wiser soul, "Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip its been..." Thanks for coming on the ride with me.

And here is last night's spectacular moon:

23 November 2014

New Orleans

Every once in a while, Mr. Fuzzy manages to leave the farm for exotic destinations; recently Amtrak took him to a conference in New Orleans. It was the annual conference of the South East Conference on Foundations, a very well run and worth while meeting.
Because of the Amtrak schedule and the meeting opening speech, Mr. Fuzzy had an entire morning off at the outset and an entire afternoon at the end, both spent in famous cemeteries, St. Louis No. 1 and Lafayette.

 Unlike his last trip to the Big Easy forty years ago, these two photogenic cemeteries are safe to visit (unlike some of the others).

Cemeteries are full of people with stories to tell and frequently anxious to tell them, but so few with a heartbeat stop long enough to hear their very quiet voices.

All of these images are best viewed large so double-click on them, please, or you will miss the subtleties. 

18 November 2014

dang its cold!

The high today, in brilliant sun and abundant wind, was 25F here on the farm. At 9:00 p.m., its already down to 14F. Baby, its gonna be cold tonight. The Century Furnace is filed with oak and locust and heating the house nicely.

A graphic from the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Virginia, says it all:

09 November 2014

Five Photographs in Five Days Challenge

There is a photographers' game going around on FaceBook where you are challenged by someone to post five black & white images, one per day and you pass the challenge on to two or three others. Mr. Fuzzy has been a little disappointed in what has been posted as those images often represent 'greatest works' and can be twenty years old. It seems especially disingenuous to post an image in a format that the photographer doesn't use any longer.

My five are all from 2014 and made with (1) a dying Canon point & shot that gave good service but it was never intended to take 5,000+ images, (2) Panasonic X20, a ground breaking mirrorless camera with a fixed zoom lens or (3) Panasonic Lumix GX7.

In sequence are Mr. Fuzzy's five images:

All of these images contain subtle tones and details that are only viewable if you double click on the image to enlarge it. Hopefully, these have not bored you, dear viewer.

02 November 2014

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

Mr. Fuzzy was on the road six of eight weekends and then caught the creeping crud two weeks ago at the autumn executive session of The Honourable Company of Horners. He has yet to totally shake that infection, alas, but at least feels clear-headed enough to write a blog post. It will be your judgement, dear reader, as to whether he really is or not-

About four or five days ago, Mr. Fuzzy's collection of Christmas cacti simultaneously burst into an explosive array of blooms. The day could not have been any finer: 65F, dead air, brilliant sun warming every surface it blessed, nary a cloud in the sky.

 Fast forward to yesterday morning. The clouds were so thick and the snow falling in such a concentration, that it was dark until almost 45 minutes after sunrise. Yes, there was an inch of snow on the ground and visibility perhaps reached 125 yards every once in a while. Eventually there was more than two incches accumulation.

Last night the wind shook the house much of the night in subfreezing temperatures (I heard from a friend the chill factor was 15F); Floyd county was under a high wind warning all night and at noon, its still unpleasantly gusty. Just fie days ago, my conceited mammalian mind thought it knew better than the Christmas cacti which were blooming far too early. Now Mr. Fuzzy knows what the Christmas cacti knew - winter is here.