Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Bird In My Barn

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

There’s a homing pigeon living in my barn that I’ve had since she was just a little older than a fledgling. For years, my dad and I thought it might be fun to raise a few, and eventually fly them back and forth between our two places, which are about a 30 minute car ride apart.  Well, it didn’t work out the way we thought it would.  We didn’t realize the investment we would need to make, and that the return would be a few years in coming. When released, a homing pigeon will return to the place that it was hatched and raised. To be able to do what we wanted required purchasing mated pairs of birds, allowing them to raise young, and then training those young over a period of time. About a year into it, my dad and I both came to the realization that it wasn’t something we wanted to continue with. So, back to my bird. Apparently, she was young enough when I brought her home that she imprinted on my place, and decided she wanted to stay with me.

She’s the funniest thing. When my family is outdoors working in the yard, or working in the barn, she will fly down from the rafters of the hayloft and follow us around like a puppy dog. We’ve never given her a name…. we just call her Bird. Today, we got a little bit of rain. Well, maybe just a cloud burst.  Since the beginning of August, we’ve had very little rain and I’ve noticed that the birds, in general, get pretty excited about the little bit of water and come out to play. Bird is no exception, and she came out of the barn to enjoy the shower we got this afternoon.  I looked out my kitchen window to see her standing in the middle of the yard, flexing her wings to catch as much water on her feathers as possible. I wasn’t able to grab my camera fast enough for that particular image, but she humored me long enough to pose for a couple of shots.

Updated to add: After posting the link to this blog post on my Facebook wall,  I discovered I had a friend who raises homing pigeons. Her comments prompted some conversation that I thought I would share here.   My friend wanted to know if we had ever held Bird.  I told her that originally, we had the birds in an outdoor, walk-in 10×5 fly cage. It was situated outside of one of our barns, and had a sliding door that accessed a large indoor fly cage. While she was young we handled her occasionally. Since Bird took up residence in the hayloft, we’ve never felt the need to handle her. I love to watch her fly. It’s like watching pure joy. She also comes out to help me garden some times. It would probably be pretty funny for someone to observe, because I talk to her.

Musings about Art, Artists, and the Common Man

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

This may bore the heck out of a lot of you, but it stems from conversations I’ve been having with my brother in law, Bret Bailey. I should warn you this is probably going to wander all over the place, and may seem a bit disjointed. That’s what happens when I try to organize my thoughts into something cohesive.

First, I’d like to establish that I’ve had a lot of exposure to people who fit the traditional idea of what constitutes an artist. I don’t consider myself an artist in the traditional sense, but I do consider myself creative. I studied music and piano in college, as well as dabbling in a few art classes.  I have a green thumb, and I’m not shabby in the kitchen. I realize these things may not be considered art, but they do require tapping into creativity. I’m a little hedonistic and love things that appeal to my senses…. taste, sound, shapes, colors, balance, tactile pleasure, etc.

Let me tell you a little about some of the artists in my life. Also, there is something unique about most of them…. they have managed to feed their families pursuing careers in art. Let me assure you, this is a rather difficult accomplishment in the art world. We’ve all heard the term “starving artist”.

Bret, my husband’s identical twin,  is an artist and an art educator. He is very dedicated to helping people explore art, and experience their own creativity.  He was awarded  the Outstanding Art Educator of the Year Award in 2009.  He is a certified Teacher Mentor for Indiana, has an after-school art club,  serves as District 2 representative for AEAI, and is a member of the Lakeland Art Association. This picture is a self portrait he did when he was much younger. I think it makes him look creepy, and I tell him so quite often since he uses it as his Facebook profile picture.

My grandpa, Paul Hubartt, is an artist. He was an illustrator, advertiser, Fluegel cachet artist, and water colorist. My grandpa was trained old school and did a lot of things current day artists don’t seem to pursue much. He was always great at calligraphy and the almost lost art of illumination. When he retired he took up wood carving. What’s really amazing is that he’s in his 90’s and still has a steady hand. Almost all of his peers, friends and family have died, and he’s still able to paint and carve! I should also mention that my grandpa is an author (so is my dad). My grandpa was diagnosed with bone cancer a few weeks ago, and is undergoing chemo. Facing his mortality, he has begun relating a lot of stories about his life. Oh the things I’m learning about Grandpa! The picture below is one I took of my grandpa earlier this summer.

My brother is an artist.  His name is Paul Hubartt too…. named after our grandpa.  He is a pipe carver living in England, and his work is in demand. Outside of pipe carving I’ve seen him experiment with other mediums, and I bet he could easily change direction if he got bored with pipe carving.   Study in Self Reliance is a 7 page article published about my brother as the cover story for the spring 2010 issue of Pipes and Tobacco magazine.  I’m so very proud of my brother.  He has another hidden talent. He can write! I love reading anything he has written. He’s able to bring pictures and ideas alive in my mind, and his writing always leaves me with such an indescribable feeling. Here is what’s really funny about my brother … he doesn’t think of himself as an artist, and he won’t admit he has a talent for writing. I’m still trying to decide if it’s false humility, or if he’s really that oblivious to his own talents. The picture below is my brother with my nephew. I have other pictures  I’d love to show you, but I’m quite sure he’s going to kill me for writing about him, as it is.

I also have two cousins (brothers) who are artists. Our common grandpa is the one I just told you about. Daniel and Andy are new school.

Daniel VonSeggen is a free lance artist, with a degree in Commercial Art and Advertising design as well as Nanotechnology. Nothing like being an over achiever, huh Cuz? Daniel has a collection of his work available for public viewing on his website at  I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me for ripping this picture from Facebook and putting it out there for the world to see.  I love this one because it’s you all grown up, but looking like the little kid that’s forever stuck in my mind.

Andy VonSeggen is an illustrator working for Play, Learn, Think & Feel. Andy describes his specialties as typography, conceptual sketching & brainstorming, pen & ink, digital shop drawings, specification writing, bicycle mechanics & shooting the breeze.  Yeah, I ripped off this picture too.  What are you going to do, disown me? Both of my cousins share my love of good beer, and are avid homebrewers. We grew up in different parts of the country, so there is still a lot I’m learning about these guys.  I heard through the family grapevine that they’re also musicians.

OK, so after all that carrying on about the artists in my family, you get this little teeny tiny rant.  The conversation I had last night with Bret was a rant about how some artists become so esoteric, that the common man can’t relate to them or their art. It drives me flippin’ nuts! I don’t think art is an exclusive club. Isn’t art supposed to be about expression, perception … conveying concepts, ideas, beliefs, what an artist thinks about the world, the human condition, beauty, evil, God? Isn’t art about all of us, taking on innumerable forms, using a world of mediums? Yes, I understand there  is a quality to art that may make it difficult to understand from time to time. But seriously, if an artist goes so far out that he/she completely alienates “normal” people, what’s the point? It’s no wonder some artists starve.

Yes, I know this is a powder keg. I’m probably going to receive a few nasty emails.  I’m OK with receiving nasty email. After all, it is a form of expression. If I can understand it or relate to it, then the author achieved some level of artistry.

Binge and Purge

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

I could feel it building up over the last few days. Work has been making me cranky. On Wednesday I pulled a frozen beef roast and a baking hen out of the freezer to thaw. I also cooked down a big pot of homemade spaghetti sauce, intending to can it on the weekend.  Although cooking can be a lot of work, I still find it therapeutic. I usually walk away from one of my crazy-insane cooking binges feeling mentally relaxed, and a great sense of accomplishment. I guess it must have something to do with the creative process ….. bringing order out of chaos ….. taking random ingredients and turning them into something aesthetically pleasing. Whatever it is, the end result is a temporary purge of stress. By Friday evening I was committed, and set out a pound of white beans to soak for soup before going to bed.

I didn’t set my alarm clock for Saturday morning, but I woke up two hours earlier than normal. Isn’t it funny how our subconscious works?  After a cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat, my kitchen became a major construction zone. I started by searing the sirloin tip roast in my cast iron skillet. I threw it in the slow cooker with some beef broth, and then left it on it’s own to become seasoned shredded beef sandwiches for Sunday’s meal.

The next order of business was to get my chicken rubbed down with salt and seasonings, and into to the oven. About an hour later I had a golden roast chicken that went into a stew pot for a large batch of my roasted tomato and wild rice soup.  My husband and I are hosting a beer and soup swap in three weeks, and this batch of soup is my swap entry.  We will be serving a couple of different soups and different types of beer to our guests, but the real fun is going to be the swap.  Participation in the swap isn’t mandatory, but we’re encouraging our guests to bring six quarts of frozen soup, a six pack of beer they think best compliments their soup, and the soup recipe for sharing. Each guest participating will get to take six different soups and beers home with them. I promise to share my soup recipe with you later this fall.

Once my chicken was in the oven, I filled a pot with water and dried red corn cobs to boil down for corn cob jelly. I know it sounds strange, but I’ve been making this jelly for years, and it’s always a hit as a gift from my kitchen. I got the juice ready for jelly making yesterday, and plan to finish the jelly this afternoon. It’s probably going to be the next blog post I share with you.

Next on my agenda was to finish the spaghetti sauce I started on Wednesday. I pulled the six quart pot from my refrigerator and slowly heated it up while I readied my canning equipment. This is the first time I’ve canned spaghetti sauce, and after the experience I’ve decided I’m going to freeze it in the future. I had one jar crack in the pressure canner, making a huge mess.  Considering the number of tomatoes it takes to cook down into sauce, I was not thrilled about losing a quart.

In between all of these major projects, I squeezed in a few small odd tasks like roasting some coffee for the next couple of days, keeping dishes washed as I worked, starting a batch of sour cream, starting a pot of ham and bean soup with the beans I had put on to soak the evening before, and mixing a batch of cornbread to bake with the roasting chicken.

I went to bed tired, but very content last night, and I slept like a rock. Binge. Purge.

Buttermilk Culture Winner!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I spent mine mourning the end of my 2 weeks of time off work.  However, it does feel good to get back to my familiar routine.

The winner of the buttermilk culture is Maggie Howe! I would tell her to contact me, but as it happens, this won’t be the first time I’ve mailed something to her. She won a giveaway I did on Twitter last year. It pays to enter contests on new blogs with a small following. The odds are definitely in your favor.

Keep your eyes peeled, because I’ve got some ideas for more giveaways in the future.  Maybe a Mozzarella kit when I show you how to make your own fresh Mozzarella cheese?

Herbal Gifts From Abroad

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I know it’s nothing earth shattering, but I just had to share.  My mom dropped by my house for a visit yesterday evening bearing gifts! She and my dad just got back from 2 weeks of vacationing in Europe with my sister and her family, who live in Germany. This is a picture of my sister sitting in the middle of a lavender field in Provence, France. If you look closely you can see some beehives off in the distance to the left. I just love this picture of my little sister!

While traveling, my mom and sister picked up a couple of gifts for me.  You must understand …. everyone in my family gives me gifts in fear and trepidation. Believe it or not, I’m very difficult to choose gifts for, and my mom and sister are always worried that I’m going to hate whatever they give me.  In fact, my mom told me that if I didn’t like it she would understand! I’m one of those practical, picky people who knows exactly what she likes and dislikes.  Unfortunately, my family has never been able to figure me out, including my husband and sons. I know!  I’m a horrible person! I promise that I’m working to improve my gift accepting skills.  The problem is that I’m also a terrible liar.

Knowing how much I love all things herbal they chose this lavender syrup from Provence, and some pesto. What I love is that these are items that I make for myself, and provide and interesting basis of comparison for the quality of what I make myself.

I sampled the pesto on some whole wheat pasta for my lunch this afternoon.  I’ve got to say that my own pesto is not shabby at all. I know this little jar is the authentic stuff, but I like mine much better.  I was surprised by how salty it tasted, and it didn’t seem very basil-y.  I promise by summer’s end that I’ll provide at least one pesto recipe.

Now the lavender syrup is quite lovely! At this moment,  I’m sipping on a glass of bubbly water with lavender syrup added.  It’s sweet and lightly floral.  It’s going to take me a while to use this bottle, so I won’t be making any in the near future. There is still plenty of time this year to make lavender syrup, so if you’d like to give it a try I’m going to direct you to the blog of a friend of mine, Tina Sams, the editor of The Essential Herbal magazine.

Perfect Morning Walk

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

After two weeks of oppressive hot, humid weather, I was shocked to hear my furnace kick in last night! The night’s temperatures hit the low 50’s  which seems bizarre for Indiana as we head into the month of July.   I awoke to a gorgeous morning …. a cool breeze, no humidity, and clear blue skies.  It was perfect for some birdwatching, so I grabbed my camera and headed out to the meadow behind my house. As I approached the edge of the field, I was met with a wonderful sweet scent.  I think you might be surprised to find out the culprit was milkweed which is in full bloom right now.

I didn’t seen any new or unusual birds, but I did get a couple of pictures that I think you might find interesting. At the edge of the field is a pair of nesting bluebirds. I’ve been maintaining bluebird boxes for years, and the birds are accustomed to my periodic checks of the boxes.  I’ll check this particular box in about two more weeks and might be able to give you a peek at the babies.  That will be the last time I check the box until after the young have fledged. I don’t want to risk causing them to leave the nest prematurely.

I finally located the catbird’s nest.  I knew it was out there somewhere, and I’ve actually been a little worried about it.  I found a dead catbird near the house recently and was concerned that it might be the female. My worries were allayed as she sat nearby “meowing” at me as I snapped a couple of quick pictures.

Testosterone & High Heels

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Today was my day off  work, and instead of doing fun stuff like picking mulberries, I went shopping instead.  I bought a new pair of shoes. If you’re wondering why on earth I’m showing you my new shoes, there are a couple of things you need to understand about my life.

First, my household consists of myself, my husband, and our two sons.  Don’t forget to add my husband’s identical twin and all the other boys hanging out at my house.  There is so much testosterone flying around this place, I’m surprised I’m not growing hair on my chest.

The other thing you need to know about me is that I absolutely hate to shop.  I hate to shop for anything, but I especially hate to shop for clothes.  I consider clothes shopping a torturous experience, and I avoid it whenever possible.

I tried to show my new shoes to my guys but they looked at me like I had lost my mind, rolled their eyes, and made a few grunting noises.

See my new shoes! Aren’t they pretty? Just in case your taste doesn’t run along the same lines as mine, you don’t have to answer that.

You want to know what’s really funny? Out of 365 days of the year I probably wear shoes MAYBE 60 days out of the year.  Most of that 60 days involves walking in tennis shoes trying to do something about the love affair food has with my hips and thighs.  The rest of the time I’m running around in my bare feet.  Even at work. Even in winter.  Remind me again why I bought a pair of designer slingbacks.