Archive for June, 2016

Swallows Are Back!

Posted in Nature Studies, Poems, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 29, 2016 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for June, 2016 by Christine Schoene Maccabee

The Swallows Are Back !

“Birds, the free tenants of land, air, and ocean,

their forms all symmetry, their motions grace…”

James Montgomery, British Poet

I often wonder how many other people feel a thrill when the swallows return to our area in early May. In late April this year I began to watch for them with high expectation. Every year the swallows are drawn back to my home like a magnet, much to my amazement and joy. Their nest of mud and grasses, lined with soft feathers, is perched in a corner of the eaves of my A-frame house. Due to the strength of this nest, and how well it is “glued” to the wood, it has lasted through many a fierce storm. It is the second nest the swallows created there in more than 20 years, the first one falling down just a few years ago. That particular spring, upon their return, they built another strong nest in the very same place, and I expect it to last just as long as the other one.

The first sign of the return of my feathered tenants is their excited chirping, and my day is immediately happier upon hearing them. They sound like they are having a lively conversation, which I guess they are, and my loneliness is displaced by their cheerful company. Since arriving here several days ago, the mated pair has been zooming all day through the skies eating whatever they can find. Every spring and summer they keep my atmosphere completely free of mosquitoes, so no Zika Virus here ! However, due to all the rain and cool weather this spring, the flying bug population is not so great yet. Hopefully the birds had plenty of food while traveling north after wintering somewhere in Mexico or some country in South America. Some swallows winter as far away as Argentina !

I wish I knew my swallows’ entire story, but at least I do know part of their story here in northern Frederick county. I have seen mothers, and fathers, sitting on their nest until the babies hatch. Thereafter the wonderful partnership of the parents continues, taking turns feeding the nestlings, and themselves. It takes a lot of energy zooming around all day. It is a true joy to watch them fly far out over the fields, gathering what they can at lightening speed, and then bringing the food back to their eager nestlings. Usually there are four young ones, and once these fledgelings leave the nest the mother and father occasionally settle down to raising 4 more.

Birds, as we all know, are amazing creatures. We humans are fascinated with both their flight, and their songs, not to forget their amazingly artistic colorations. Many a poet has written eloquently about them and artists such as Audubon have painted detailed representations of them (more than 1,000 to be nearly exact!). Songs like “The Little Red Lark”, an Irish ballad, portray their amazing flights and songs, and airplanes were invented as we grounded humans decided we too had to fly. This idea may or may not have been a good one. After all, birds are following their natural inclinations, whereas humans do not, and we are definitely polluting our planet with all our unnatural contraptions, are we not ?

So, perhaps that is why I am so mesmerized by birds, particularly the swallows. They are so small, seemingly so vulnerable, and yet they can fly such long distances with the greatest of ease. In fact, once here, it is estimated they can fly the equivalent of 600 miles a day in quest of food for their young, according to the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds. So how is that possible ? you ask.

In my research I have learned, as many of you likely already know, that birds are very light (as light as a feather in fact) due to the fact that their bones are hollow and filled with air. Also, according to a book on Natural History by Bertha Parker, connected with a bird’s lungs are tiny air sacs scattered throughout its body. These air sacs act like tiny hot-air balloons ! Therefore a typical swallow weighs far less than a mouse, lizard or frog of the same size. A birds streamlined body is another help in flying. Humans have tried to mimic these qualities, the closest coming to gliders of various types, and hot-air balloons. I will not say anything about all the other larger, costly, heavy planes, especially of war, which have completely digressed from Nature’s perfect plan.

So, back to feathers. Feathers also serve the purpose of protecting birds from rain and cold. They shed rain because they are a little oily and the intricate parts of the feathers are cleverly put together in lovely, serviceable patterns. Feathers also keep the birds body warm, trapping the heat ; think of your down sleeping bag. This winter I remember telling my chickens to huddle close and keep warm, as I closed them up for the night in their unheated coup. I even worried a bit, but they weathered the cold winter beautifully as they are fully and thickly feathered.

I am in total admiration of birds in general, and sometimes I wish I were as free as they are, unfettered by coats and boots and layers of clothing, and independent of automobile expenses. I envy them for their ability to fly and feed themselves without growing their own food or going into a grocery store.

However, as Popeye so wisely said, “I yam what I yam, and tha’s all what I yam”, and there is no escaping that fact ! I do rather like having two strong legs, and arms I can reach to the sky with, giving praise for all the wonders of life. I am also thrilled to have my swallows back here for another season. I will miss them when they gather to go south in August, and I can usually tell when the time is coming by all their excitement as they zoom around my house with their happy, chirping fledgelings, full grown by then, and fully independent. Sigh.

I wish I could fly free as a bird, and be light as a feather !

Christine is a Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist and can be reached at with any questions or stories of your own.

Star Trek Earth Government

Posted in Economics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2016 by Drogo

Starfleet is martial-law socialism just like communist countries or militaries have now; except their civilization has evolved more culturally with ethics and technologically with conveniences. Startrek Earth government I am guessing is democratic-socialism under representative parliamentary government, with pre-existing nations contributing ministers. I say democractic-socialism meaning they were able to implement laws more in a utopian way than has been realistic given the history of anthropology so far and our ability to balance selfish aspects of individualism with the popular greater good. While there is obviously small scale capitalism, humanity seems not to be oppressed by mega-corporations; at least in the show episodes Starfleet does not have to submit to the will of commercial companies. Therefore the Earth government seems to run on resource based socialism, where people are provided for by their government (through mining and manufacturing profits / taxes) so that anyone is free to pursue the career of their choice, without the need for individual profits. Free-market capitalism does not seem to be the main economic system, because in the shows we would see companies unhindered doing all kinds of profit driven projects that would drive plots. The evolution of humanity seems to have been able to control corporate warfare by reducing economic greed as the basis for success, with the majority of people able to focus on quality and community responsibility due to free liberal-education based public programs.

sources: online UFP memory-alpha wiki, shows, and interviews

Star Trek Crew

SCOD Hybrid Design

Posted in Adaptive Reuse, Crafts, Politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2016 by Drogo

‘All or nothing’ is the same mentality that causes gridlock in Congress, and starts wars. In historic and environmental circles, there are many hypocritical idealists and intolerant purists. Puritanical authoritarian attitude leads to inhumane imbalances in politics, as found in Nazis, and my ancestors ‘the Puritans’ who not only killed witches, but also stray Quakers. As radical as Bernie Sanders seems compared to main-stream Hillary, or far-right Trump; he still would barely scratch the surface of our socio-economic problems or ecological design work that needs to significantly change the paradigm. But Sanders would be a good start to help shift pop-culture a bit further to the left socially, as Obama allowed somewhat.

The SCOD way of reasoning, is that it is better to preserve larger portions of nature when planning architecture. If over 50% of a farm can be kept for growing food, and wilderness conservation for-ever (as long as can be predicted reasonably and indefinitely), then regardless of the details of any historic, artistic, or ecological architectural combinations; the master plan is a success overall.

Hybrid cultural appropriation and poly-synthetic blending is a natural part of history. Race is an artificial term, to distinguish superficial differences between homo-sapiens. New-Age multiculturalism celebrates social and religious diversity, and encourages exchange and adaptation. Enlightened New-Age spirituality runs parallel with advances in science; such as the importance of bio-diversity, relativity, quantum theory, and mathematical fractals.

Cultural pride is not hatred of others; what this statement means to me, is I can love Celtic music and mythology, and not hate other cultures. I can even love cultures that are not my own, and adopt what interests me into my own celebrations and studies in life; regardless of snobs that say I am not worthy because it disrespects cultural purity. Obviously I can be sensitive to cultures that have been abused, but I am fine with Africans wearing torcs and crowns like those in the museums of Europe. I would love that. We should share and celebrate each-others historic cultures, while helping to create new World cultural traditional blends. None of it was ever pure, and we will continue mixing and remixing all things.

7 dwellings

 fourways temple