Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Devil Wringer Washer

I almost gasped out loud (actually I think I did) when I was browsing through my local bookstore's magazine section and came upon an article in one of those homesteading, self sufficiency magazines.

There was a photo of a woman demonstrating how to use an old fashion wringer washing machine

...with a big smile on her face.

Blown away.
At least she didn’t look like a fashion model.

Images flashed thru my head of my mother dragging out that damn wringer washer from the pantry into the kitchen and setting up tubs around it.  Having to heat water over the wood stove even in the stifling heat of summer, huge tin buckets of it and pouring it into the washer and then the neighboring rinse out tubs.
I can smell the bleaching solution and dried stench of manure covered overalls....
This was the 70’s and 80’s.

My poor mother.  She never had that choice, even though everyone else she knew had modern kitchens and most definitely hot water from the taps.

And here this woman in the magazine was exalting how the wringer washer saves water and gas and is better for the environment.
Amazing how being able to choose the way you live can bring a smile to the face even when doing drab, routine work.

Didn't look like she wringing out caked on sh't overalls though that need wringing, washing, and rinsing 4 times each. Love to see her smiling doing that!
And there was a nice little tub with running hot and cold water right next to the wringer....and what did I see next to that?

....a nice little modern day dryer.

Nostalgia is it?  People yearning for a simpler life, free of the stresses of modern life.

Believe me...if I move back to the country, there will be a nice indoor bathroom, hot running water and nice laundry with a modern day washer and dryer.

That is Stress Free Living to me!
                                                                                                               copyright Stepka 2011

Treasure Island Flea Market

    I had to run into San Francisco today and so stopped in at the new flea market and checked it out.

It is very easy to get thru once you are on the Bay Bridge...only one exit to Treasure Island and the road just leads you into the area easily.  Only $3 and free parking.  Of course you have to get over a bridge to get there...5 or 6 dollars depending on how you come.  They do have some food vendors.

It is a small market, but definitely had the feel of a well ordered flea, boot sale with a variety of some vintage, some new, especially jewelry and even potted plants. Kinda crafty. Definitely not junky.  Nice  to go thru. I got there late. It looked like there may have definitely been some things I may have had to have if I had arrived early.

Had a nice group playing.  I believe the name was Acacia.  Folksy, good instrumentals and voice.

A fun little photo booth was set up I think...but asking for donations??. I love photo booths, but since I was on a time schedule, did not check it out.

Very nice....dogs were allowed.

The French Linens were there.  Seems like they are everywhere now a days.  The craze I guess.

...and here's the wringer washer to wash them!
This guy was just sitting off by himself. Already bought?  Already discarded?
Will write more about this devil device in another post.

And then you look up and !!!  Where the heck did she come from.  I must have drove right past her coming in, but did not notice her.  So if you need cash, the atm is right in front of her.
Someone there told me she lights up at night.
I am not commenting.

For awesome beauty, you just need to look across the bay and there is San Francisco.  Foggy most all day, but still breath taking.

So, good to check out if you are in the area.  Open the last weekend of the month, both Saturday and Sunday.

Next week...might have to make a run to Alameda Antique Fair. 
This flea market just wetted my appetite.

                                                                                      copyright Stepka 2011


Been going thru old photos from the farm.
I had a steer named Joey who had been born a little off. He had had a hard time standing when he was born and had a HUGE head. He never quite grew into that head.
Of course, as soon as I saw him, he was mine to care for and adore.

He survived and had a few good years of life before he passed away in the pasture.

Dad could have sold him once he did grow, but he didn't.  I really appreciate that now.
One of my fondest memories was of visiting Joey in the pasture once he had grown. He would lope over to me at practically full speed, stop about 2 yards away and then just walk up the rest of the way to me and boink his head on my chest.
 Loved that big lug.
                                                                                             copyright Stepka 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time Out

Too much business technological overload today.
Interpretation...why doesn't this fricking web site (not this one) do what it is supposed to do and load!!!
Yack! as Kathy in the comic strips would say.

So for my own peace of mine and your visual enjoyment, here are some past shots of Swans and their babes from this Spring. 
Cool breezes and rippling water.
Peace of Mind.

And for added inspiration and good thoughts, I have added below a link to Mary's White Feather Farm blog (appropriate considering the swan photos).  Check it out.  "Ye Ha to Life"
Sometimes you just have to keep repeating that phrase.  More some days than others!

                                                                        copyright Stepka 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

What a Lovely Morning

Fitz already scanning the horizon for intruders on his territory.

Tied up the morning glory vines on the other side of the fence so walkers below will be able to enjoy their blooms this fall also. 

The hawk was out stalking his prey.

...and he was not so happy I was stalking him.

Just about to jump off the limb in this photo looking straight at me.
A little out of focus moving out of his way.

The sheep were happily being fed by the farmer across the way.

Neighborhood kitty was checking on his territory.

Perfect walking weather, so had to venture up into the hills as the fog lifts.

And to top it off, deer was munching away practically outside my door when I got back.


Pretty amazing first 2 hours of the day!

                                                                                       copyright Stepka 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hummingbird Visit Outside My Window

Where the Heck is that camera when you need it!
Well...just had time to shoot without really focusing.
But what a beautiful image you can coax out of nothingness.

                                                                                                             copyright Stepka 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Alone With My Thoughts

I have a hard time understanding people, who cannot, will not, live alone.  
This is especially mind bending to me since, when living in a town or community, as most people do, there is always someone you can practically put your hand through a wall and touch. 

Even on the farm, I was constantly taking long walks to be alone…to experience peace and quiet.

But honestly, is anyone really ever alone?

I was a TV junkie growing up.  Always in the background.  I needed that mind numbness then.
Now when I don’t need it, still I find myself turning on the tube for no reason, especially in the morning, to see what is going on in the world.  Just a habit.  I can usually only watch 15 minutes of it these days.
The rampant stories of stupidity, greed and fear can seep in quietly and poison your thoughts.
Why do broadcasters choose to interview people who nearly lost their lives doing stupid things for 15 minutes of fame?  Scary thought that there must be people out in the world who actually relish listening to this crap and so boost the TV shows ratings.  Why else do they show it?

The poison starts seeping into the psyche before you realize…”hey, just turn it off!”

I admit, I am hooked on the mind numbing, but fun ramblings of Hoda and Kathie Lee. They are much more enjoyable companions.  Who needs more doom and gloom.  Let’s laugh instead.

And even if physically we are alone and turn off the TV, the iPod and computer, our mind never seems to leave us alone. 

You find yourself looking at a beautiful, quiet foggy morning and maybe for 10 seconds you just enjoy, but then you start thinking, boy, this is great photography weather, should be taking shots, and then thoughts bring to mind that mysterious graveyard you saw years ago in Plymouth and what wonderful shots you could have gotten…if you had been a photographer back then, but then again, there is that nice old cemetery across town and that’s that.  Your brain is just chattering away.  But at least they are interesting and creative thoughts.

My mind is my constant companion that needs an off switch most days.
Thoughts on beautiful photographs are one thing. 
Negativity, fear, and insecurity are another.

Every human being seems to deal with all these issues one time or another...even the famous and rich, so I hear.

Logically, you realize so many people have so much more to worry about than you do.
But does that help?  No.
We are all born with the worry gene.  The "what if" phrase....
And we all have pesky thoughts that spring up just when you are just starting to enjoy the new day.

Sometimes you just have to say "shut up" to that chattering brain...and move on.
Do I see meditation in the future?
Sounds refreshing.

Then again just sitting here writing, I am just hearing the sounds of the sheep baaa-ing across the ravine.  And then … a quail chirping.
Stop. Listen.
Now that is my form of meditation.  Guess it always has been.

Then again... a million dollars sure would shut up that chattering brain quite nicely too.

                                                                                     copyright Stepka 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So Many Now Choosing The Farm Life...

Nancille and Barbara

Been in a big reflective mood lately.
I grew up, as they say, as a "real" farm girl and it has never released itself from my soul.
It never will.

I have been reflecting on whether I have regrets about letting the farm go once the parents passed, and I have to be true to myself and say, yes, there are some regrets.  But at least, I had a choice in the decision.

It seems there are alot of opinions as to what a farm is nowadays.  There is definitely a difference "making a living" off the land on 200 acres with 40 cows, 200 sheep, 10 pigs...or just living in the country on 1 acre or 10 plus acres with some goats and "making your living" outside of the farm.

But if you want to call your little acre spread a farm...why not? 
Just be appreciative that you have a lifestyle choice.

The old farm girl inside of me longs for the country and animals, but I do not have any longing for the reality when it came to the grittiness of life and death on a "make a living" farm.

I have fond memories, but I also unfortunately have many sad memories of the people whom I had to exist with on that farm.  People who, through having experienced the same hard life growing up with their families, had lost their emotions and the ability to enjoy life and to see the beauty around them.
They had had no choice but to farm.  It was expected of them.  It was how they made a living.
And if you are given no choice in life, no expectation, no dreams...then the life you create for yourself... and others around you... can be very difficult.
Farm life can be very hard on the bones and the soul.
You need to have eyes wide open if you choose "make a living" farming. 
You must have the calling and the stamina to survive hardship and the hard calls you have to make. Reality can suck big time on a "make a living" farm.
You must have the love and respect of the land, animals, and the people around you... in your soul.

I choose to look back on my good memories and the beauty of the farm.

And I say....Good for all those out there who choose to "farm" any way they choose.

And some day...who knows?  Some goats may be in my future.

But the "new" farm girl inside me now knows that those goats will live to a ripe old age as (dare I say it) pets.

...And as lovable weed wackers as well.
There is still enough of the old farm girl in me that has to consider usefulness in an animal.

The home place

                                       copyright Stepka 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

For the Love of Bees.

I would have thought Bumblebees would have been easier to shoot than Bees, but I found just the opposite to be true.
Funny when you think you have some fantastic shots and you go to download them, you just get a butt or antenna of a bee. Better empty lavender stem.  Had alot of those!
Thank goodness for digital, or I would never have the funds to experiment and enjoy just standing for an hour at a time shooting bees in lavender and blackberry bushes.

What beauty and wonder you can capture.

                                                                                             all photos copyrighted Stepka 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Boom, Boom, Boom!

And it is still BOOMING.

I was half sitting, half hanging out of my 2nd floor office window taking these photos...where Fitz usually sits.
Great View.
No wonder he loves sitting there.

                                                                                        copyright 2011

Chasing Bumblebees on the Fourth of July

Spent the day walking the hills, reading, relaxing ...and chasing bumblebees.

Ever since last year when I stumbled into my lavender bushes full of bumblebees, I have been waiting for their return.

No comatose bumblebees this year.
They are just bouncing from one lavender stem to another.  Can barely get any of them into focus.
Tiresome, but love the challenge and appreciate their work!

And now the fireworks are starting to boom outside.

A Very Good day.

                                                                                         copyright Stepka 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Must Read - Soul of a Dog by Jon Katz

I found another blog, "Bedlam Farm Journal"  to follow... and lots more books to read.

I know that I will love following this blog just because of his wonderful photography.  You can see the author's joy and love for each creature in each shot.

And there are videos of his animals on the farm!

John Katz is an author I have heard about and I have seen his books in passing in the bookstore.
Funny how a photograph can draw one in so completely.

Then, of course, you start reading and you are hooked.

As the cover states, this book is about the 'Reflections on the spirits of the the animals of Bedlam Farm'.
The book consists of a series of wonderful essays on the special inhabitants of the farm and glances on and off of the questions on whether or not animals have souls... and in one chapter, questions whether they can they go to heaven.

Heaven would be extremely lacking and melancholy if there are no animals there.

There was a great old Twilight Zone episode where an old mountain man and his old 'dawg' was headed to the Gates of Heaven, truly looking forward to it, and when upon meeting the 'angel' at the Gates, was told, sorry, no dogs allowed.  But the man, himself was most welcome.
The old man turned around, refusing to go in without his dog.

Of course, in the end, it ended up that the gates he originally came up to was Hell...and a real 'angel' found him and escorted him ...and his dog...safely through the real Gates of Heaven.

Good old Twilight Zone!

But getting back to the book...

What is even  more interesting to me though is the question why some animals....including a 2500 pound steer or a chicken who loves to ride on a donkey's back...seem to have more light and intelligence behind the eyes, and a definite character and personality... than other creatures that may inhabit the same farm. 

I think all of us who have lived on farms have had this thought pass through their mind more than once.
Is it just human interaction with certain animals that cause us to anthropomorphize a creature more?

Most animals on our farm were just farm animals.  They chewed their cud, laid their eggs, and passed through life just one day at a time till they died.

And then you have the extraordinary creatures that looked into your eyes and communed with your soul.

Anyhow, find a special spot out of doors on a glorious evening, read "Soul of a Dog"... and enjoy.