it all goes dark

Anyone that knows me probably knows that politics are not my “thing.” Oftentimes I find it depressing and just prefer to keep out of it all together. Today, for me, is not that day.

I would like to quote a co-worker of mine, Dan Jolley, who has expressed this concern in much better words than I can:

“A number of Internet sites will not be available tomorrow, as they will go dark in protest of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislation pending in Congress.  I personally agree with SOPA opponents that both bills represent an egregious assault on free speech. This is to let you know some of the sites that will be blacked out tomorrow (censoring themselves the way our government will be able to arbitrarily censor any site if the legislation passes).  Some will be going black for most of the day (such as 8 am – 8 pm), while others will go black for 24 hours.”

Several popular sites include,, The Internet Archive, and

As a librarian, archivist, and fiber artist, I know many sites near and dear to my heart that would be shut down, impeded on, or penalized by this legislation (, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and other archival research websites).

I believe in copyright and the right of a creator, and I also abhor purposeful and harmful plagiarism. But in the academic community, we support fair use of information for the growth of research, education, and critical thinking.

As a librarian, I am not supporting mayhem in the streets. A proper and appropriate balance can be met between protecting copyright holders and educators/artists/researchers. In the words of the Library Copyright Alliance, “There are millions of Internet users who are neither criminal infringers nor content conglomerates, and policies to punish the former or protect the latter can affect broad swaths of innocent users.”

I hope a happy medium can be reached in the future…..and that I won’t lose the joys of etsy anytime soon.

I now, respectfully, descend from my soap box in order to get back to other things….and don’t worry, this is probably the last time you’ll ever hear anything political from me again….after all, this blog is mostly about an old house and chickens. 🙂



Sultry Sunflowers

Recently we’ve had plenty of rain and wind, even tornadoes, in our area, and last week the sun disappeared altogether. This week the sun is predicted to return, but I’m ready for the return of sunflowers and the warm weather that accompanies them.

Last year, Natalie and I planted sunflowers for the first time and found them very easy to grow. In fact, the sunflower seeds we planted came out of a bird seed mix, and they germinated and grew quickly. Once, I read in some gardening book that you should always plant sunflowers in your field to act as a watering gauge. If the sunflowers start wilting, other crops will soon follow.

Garden box sunflowers

We planted our sunflowers in a garden box facing south where they received the hottest afternoon sun. Even in the heat, they were slow to wilt and seemed to thrive without much extra water, so I don’t know— maybe sunflowers aren’t the best watering gauges.

I do know that our sunflowers were a big hit with gold finches and bees. The gold finches would often eat the seeds hanging upside down on the flower head. Although I saw a few honeybees on the sunflowers, they seemed more popular with a small brown and yellow bees. At any one time, fifty of these little bees might be gathering pollen and nectar off of the same sunflower head.

There’s an online project called the Great Sunflower Project ( in which you’re supposed to count the number of bees, during a fifteen minute timespan, that you see on a sunflower each month. This year, I think I’ll do that. It will be interesting to see if my new honeybee colonies work the sunflowers like the little native bees did. I’m going to plant a lot more sunflowers this year, so hopefully there will be enough pollen and nectar to go around.  I saved the seeds from last year’s sunflowers, and I’ve also ordered some new heirloom sunflowers seeds called the “The Evening Sun”:

Well, even though it’s cold outside, all this sunflower talk has at least got me thinking warm thoughts.

Old Tradition for a New Year

cash money

In keeping with tradition, I ate collards and black-eyed peas yesterday. The collards represent cash money, and the black-eyed peas represent coins. By eating them on New Year’s day, I’ll supposedly bring in a lot of cash and coins this upcoming year.

I grew two types of collards this fall: southern and Vates’. The southern collards are the ones I remember growing up, and by remember I mean remember smelling. The smell of cooking collards can linger in the air and memory, and it was this pungent smell that deterred me from eating them. When I’ve actually worked up the nerve to eat collards, I can say they taste a lot better than they smell, though I still prefer black-eyed peas on New Year’s day.

Both the southern and Vates’ collards grew well, and both made it through several hard frosts to New Year’s day. Last year, our neighbor grew a big garden of greens, but he lost most of the greens early because it was such a cold winter. Southern collards have thick, leathery leaves and are renown for their hardiness, but the Vates’ collards have also withstood the cold nights.

As far as taste goes, I wasn’t able to tell much difference in taste between the two varieties. The biggest difference was in appearance. The Vates’ collards have a crinkly leaf margin and the southern collards have a smooth, spinach-like leaf margin and texture. To most people though, a collard is a collard, and you either love them or hate them–regardless of the variety.

Southern collard on left; Vates collard on right