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Posted 1/12/2011 2:06pm by Eugene Wyatt.

On Saturday night I get back to the house from Union Square about 8:30.  The day has been long and the  hours outside on the streets of New York City were loud;  the only thing I can do well is watch TV; because there are no advertisements to ignore, I watch C-SPAN'S BookTV.  Professor Frank Dikötter was reading from his book, Mao's Great Famine and taking questions from the audience at the Asia Society in New York.

Much of what he had to say was about farmers and food; I was engrossed.  And you can watch it on the web at if you like.

"Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikötter's riveting, magnificently detailed chronicle of an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented because access to Communist Party archives has long been restricted to all but the most trusted historians.

Dikötter makes clear, as nobody has before, that far from being the program that would lift the country among the world's superpowers and prove the power of Communism, as Mao imagined, the Great Leap Forward transformed the country in the other direction. It became the site not only of "one of the most deadly mass killings of human history,"—at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death—but also of "the greatest demolition of real estate in human history," as up to one-third of all housing was turned into rubble. The experiment was a catastrophe for the natural world as well, as the land was savaged in the maniacal pursuit of steel and other industrial accomplishments."—synopsis from the Amazon website.

Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 by Frank Dikötter, 2010.

Available from

Posted 1/11/2011 9:03am by Eugene Wyatt.

"While the US and the world bemoan high food prices and the inflationary pressures it causes, not to mention more people going hungry, there is very little talk about the 33 million acres in the US that taxpayers pay to sit idle. There is also the huge shift of food grains being burned for fuel, mostly corn for ethanol. Taxpayers subsidize ethanol production in addition to the subsidies directly to corn producers; those ethanol subsidies that were expected to expire on Dec. 31 were quietly re-instated into the budget even while politicians promised budget cuts. Yes, that’s right; here in the US, the same citizens that pay record high prices for food also subsidize the non-production of food, the transfer of food to fuel and the transfer of acres to corn to be used for that fuel.

Where is the logic?"

From [A]


And in addition—speculation—when prices are rising, due to  natural grain shortages from droughts or from acreage allocated to fuel production, etc., investment capital is buying commodity  futures (as good investments) making food prices rise exponentialy faster.  We pay for this with our money, the world poor pay for this with their bodies.

Is there an evil here or is this just free market capitalism?  Maybe I should blame my mother, she taught me to root for the underdog.

Posted 1/9/2011 10:28pm by Eugene Wyatt.

On the way to the farm I was struck by the vastness of the fiery sky; but I realized I couldn't get to the sheep before the sun had gotten too low to photograph this ever furtive light behind them.  As I drove toward the sun, the colors evolved, the dark clouds were ablaze as if an arsonist had torched the sky.

Beauty is communal, it must be shared to be realized.  There was a sense of aloneness to this splendor; there was a need to picture it, to tell someone about it.

Posted 1/9/2011 7:24pm by Eugene Wyatt.

@kimmiechem2 came by the stand this last Saturday so I could take a photo of her hat knit from a Cochineal dyed yarn and her two scarves that were knit from Indigo overdyes; the teal was Indigo over Weld and the blue with pink accents was Indigo over Cochineal.  Lovely, lovely work.

A close up of the basket weave scarf.

Not a knitter me, but I like to see what others have done with wool from the sheep that I raise and with the yarn that I've dyed.  That's why I do what I do.  

Also it's an exciting learning experience for to me to see how knitters put colors together; as she holds  her scarf over yarn she buys for future projects: a Weld, an Osage/Logwood and a more purple Indigo overdye of Cochineal.

Thank you.  And it's really fun to meet people from Twitter; it feels like you're meeting celebrities.

Posted 1/9/2011 9:02am by Eugene Wyatt.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats, 1919.

Posted 1/7/2011 5:16pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Sheep like snow; they eat it rather than drink from their water tub.

Posted 1/6/2011 8:30pm by Eugene Wyatt.

A ten month old purebred Saxon Merino ewe lamb with an average fiber diameter of 14 microns. 

Good sheep like this one know they're good.  They're royal.  I don't know how they know but they know.  She's got that look; and like royalty, she treats you as her equal.  You'll always be indebted to her, you'll never be as pure as she is. 

Posted 1/6/2011 8:25pm by Eugene Wyatt.

We've moved.  For the Winter and Spring of 2011 you'll find us in Saturday's Greenmarket next to Hawthorne Valley between 16th St & 17th St.

Posted 1/6/2011 4:48pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Baron de Charlus:

His voice rose. "It reminds me of a room in the Château of Blois where the caretaker who was showing me over said: ‘This is where Mary Stuart used to say her prayers; I use it to keep my brooms in.’ Naturally I wish to know nothing more of this house that has let itself be dishonoured, any more than of my cousin Clara de Chimay after she left her husband. But I keep a photograph of the house, when it was still unspoiled, just as I keep one of the Princess before her large eyes had learned to gaze on anyone but my cousin. A photograph acquires something of the dignity which it ordinarily lacks when it ceases to be a reproduction of reality and shows us things that no longer exist."

À l'Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs Vol. 2 of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, Marcel Proust 1919; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1922.

Posted 1/6/2011 4:40pm by Eugene Wyatt.

File:Nadar 1.jpg

Sarah Bernhardt (October 22, 1844 – March 26, 1923) was a French stage and early film actress, and has been referred to as "the most famous actress the world has ever known".  Photograph by Nadar.

In À la Recherche du Temps Perdu she is mentioned by her real name and as the fictional Berma, an actress that Marcel is finally taken to see in a matinee by his grandmother.