Monday, September 3, 2018

Grapes of Wrath

I was planning on a major grape harvest this year, since the stuff I picked last fall turned out so well as jelly.  All summer I've been admiring the bounty, waiting for them to ripen.  Right.

Tonight I went out to murmur words of encouragement at them, and found most of them (and there were a LOT) gone. Not fallen to the ground, just--gone.

I know grapes are one of nature's foods, and a lot of critters eat them.  But the biggest eater I can think of is my favorite rodent, The Pear Eating Squirrel.  That little grey (insert expletive of your choice) squirrel has been systematically stripping My Grapes, and I am left with several sad bunches of green ones. 


Not sure what to do, short of teaching my cat to hunt squirrels--and judging from the lack of interest on his face, I don't think that's gonna happen.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Piano come, piano go

It was time.

I finally realized that it wasn't the piano that I loved, it was the idea of it. That maybe someday I would progress beyond "London Bridge" with both hands, and that heart stopping pause at "my fair ladyyyyy" while I searched for those nasty high notes way over there.

That maybe I could play something ELSE.

But yesterday I looked in Google and sure enough there are enthusiastic piano demolishers, giving very good advice on how to remove the 8 million screws and not to mess with the harp in the back or you could behead yourself and the neighbor's cat at the same time...

And this morning I ferreted  out four screw drivers and vise grips, and dug in.  (before you scream in horror, it turns out that no one and I do mean no one wants a piano like this.  They can't give them away, even with the promise of a cash reward.  All those middle aged pianos, and all anyone wants is a guitar)  So...

If you've ever wondered, this is what a piano looks like with the keyboard out, the hammers gone.  That thing in the back is called the 'harp" and it hummmmms at me even when I walk into the room, like a large friendly beast.  

Took three hours, one husband for the rough bits, and most of his extensive tool collection.  He is out now getting pizza and the one screwdriver head he never had and always wanted.  

Im also planning to use the wood (which is lovely) for something else, in another project I haven't come up with yet.  

The keys are entirely wood with thin thin bits of ivory on top, and as someone said, the elelphant died for this a hundred years ago, it's too late to what I dont reuse will be kindling.  Not sure what the entire thing is made of, the side pieces look like curly maple, and I suspect it may be a collection of several different kinds of wood.  

and oh joy in the morning I can reclaim an entire corner of this room that I have never even seen.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

the ins and outs of T13

1. In hot water

2. out of time

3.  in the family way

4.  out by dark

5.  in. other words...

6.  you'll put your eye out

7.  taking it all in stride

8. out of countenance

9.  in for the long haul

10.  out of pocket

11.  in more ways than one

12.  out for delivery

13.  in another life

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Stiil Life with Pear

Finally caught our resident grey squirrel on camera:  we sit on the porch in the late afternoon and watch him rodent-handle fallen pears nearly as big as he is, eating them down until they're light enough to drag up the tree. 

 This has been going on for days, ever since the old pear tree has been dropping fruit. 

The quality could be better but I was shooting from behind the screen, so as not to distract  him:
but if you squint, you can see him gripping what's left of his breakfast pear

he's got the last of it in his mouth and moving very fast, so he's a bit streaky...happy squirrel 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

It's been a long happy ride, but...

Bit by bit the car has been dying.  I no longer feel comfortable about driving it anywhere, so yesterday we called (sob) the car guys and either today or tomorrow they will be coming for it.

I feel like a betrayer.  I cleaned it out, found a small but hopeful mousenest in the back seat,  found about 75 cents under the seats, later I'll go through the wad of stuff that was in the glove box. 

On the bright side, they will probably be giving us a check for nearly $400 dollars.  And when I canceled the insurance on it,  they said they will be sending us a rebate check now and taking the car off the next policy statement. 

I feel like I just sold my puppy to the Dog People.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


This started out in a totally different place, and when I started looking at these incredibly funny, charming animals, I knew they needed their own post.

wombat movie

There are dozens of You Tube videos about these little guys, all of them make Cute Kitties pale by comparison,and I LOVE Cute Kitty videos.

this is my favorite.  I want one.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Finally Gave Up My Old Car (6WS)

Somewhere, Im not sure where, is a Six Word Saturday, but I can never find it.  Soooo. I do hate to waste a perfectly good 6WS,  thrifty Yankee that I am...

Last time I started it it made a strange grindy growly noise.  In the parking lot at the grocery store, when I slowed to turn, there was a funny hesitation in the brake pedal.

Oh. Not good.

It's not had a lot of miles on it, as these things go, but they were all MY miles, and that seems to matter.  It took me to Iowa city four times, into Vermont countless times, and it always started, always stopped (which is sometimes more important, after all).  It never complained.  Hondas are like that, I know people who have  Hondas that just turned over their umpteenth hundred thousand mile mark, and they're still running.

But last year the window handle on the passenger side broke, and while the window is still in place, I expect at any point it will slide down into the well.  One good bump might do it. It has always had a back hatch leak which means when it rains, you need to move stuff back there to the right. 
It has never stalled at a light, or anywhere, for that matter.  Brave little car, never complained, and even on the most vicious days, it started right up, which is more than can be said of its owner.

I tend toward the point and click kind of purchase, and when I went in to buy one, 18 years ago, I looked at the cars and said to the salesman, "what about THAT one over there?"  took it for a drive, and brought it home. My husband was in shock for a few days,  since he's a great believer in researching everything down to the wires...

The first time I drove it somewhere I ended up coming home in a nasty blizzard,  no idea how it would handle, but it held the road, it never skidded, and I got through 30 miles of four inches an hour snow  in about two hours.  If you can fall in love with a car, I did, at that point.

I dislike intensely having to share driving  HIS car now, but I just can't see buying a new one, not with the doodads you're forced to take along with it.  So we will have to share.  (bummer)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lumbering toward autumn

Can't decide if this is the late spring rains or the early fall rains, but whatever it is, it's pretty endless.

Now and then the sky lightens a bit, and we see shadows on the ground, and like the good folks in Seattle, we get all excited about it.  Then the fog drifts in again, and we go back to whatever we were doing.

My lawn is now on the brink of hayfield, and the driveway is forming soggy places.  Even here in NH there have been flash flood warnings (our local town has three rivers that they are in the center of)  and for all of that, we do sit high and (I'd like to say 'dry', but...) not flooded.

This may be Nature's way of alerting us that August is half over, summer is no longer icumen in, and we'd better get used to it.  I can hardly wait for November, that's when the fall rains REALLY take hold...

I feel sorry, truly sorry, for the people in Pennsylvania and NJ;  this is nothing to what they're dealing with.  Can't even blame it on a hurricane.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A new rule for seniors

--for whom time tends to swirl about like damp confetti:

put all the days of the week in a hat, and draw one. The one you pick is the one you celebrate until you weary of it, and then you take another.

I could have sworn this was at least Monday (don't ask me which one, I was pretty sure it was July until I found a calendar, and oh, my wasn't that a surprise) but my husband said, quite firmly, that it was Sunday.  An August Sunday.  We both checked to be sure of the date.

There was a chance to see the Perseids last night, but they were supposed to be near dawn--and I find it's one thing to BE up before dawn, and quite another to GET up before dawn.  And since we were socked in with clouds anyway, and fog tonight, I'd say my chance not-seeing any of them will have to wait until next year.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

No regrets, no shame, no blame

We all make decisions, every day of our lives. 

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. As a kid, many of the decisions in your life are made without your knowledge,  your consent, or even, often, your approval.  You learn to adjust, or make do with the shreds of what you have left.

I was an only child.  My husband was, too.  When we got married we never really discussed having children, since I was totally unfamiliar with babies, as was he.  After four years we moved up here, and I realized almost immediately two things:  1) a young married woman who is 'childless" has no business  going to baby parties where the new baby is passed around.  As soon as you reach for the child, someone reaches in and says, "it's okay, I got her" as if she were a football and I was about to fumble the play.  Message received. 
My mother was coy about it. She would say, "well, my daughter doesn't seem to want children, so I don't pressure her..."  and since I was sitting right there, well, all eyes would turn to the poor depraved  and thoughtless girl. 

and 2) where we lived at that time was no place to bring a child along.  We were living in a house with one leaky old cook stove, no central heating, plumbing, or amenties. I hauled all the water from a dug well, all winter.  All the wash was done by hand.   I didn't have  a driver's license and we couldn't have afforded a car for me anyway.  And he was away 11 hours a day.  It was a choice we had made to live here, and a serious commitment.

That's really where the timeline for me starts.

Not a good place to be pregnant, go into labor, have the child on the kitchen floor, and then pack it up and go back to hauling wood and water. yes indeedy.

We would not be living here now if we had had kids. My mother, being the family Narcissist, would have had them in her power by the time they could form full sentences.  I was just numb enough and young enough to not really understand just how toxic she was.  And what is chilling, in looking back, every single one of my 'young men', at least the ones I was drawn to, were also serious control dudes.  It was familiar to me, obviously.  The man I married was not into control, and that has made all the difference.

If we had had children we would have been living in town,  and the house would have had to go to the highest bidder. (Read, developer.)  It would have been pulled down, the land divided into umpty-teen house lots, and the history of the place destroyed forever.   It's a revelation to realize that there is not a single thing that I can recall now that would have existed to remember.

What I'm heading for here is I have reached the 'no regrets' part of the story, and the long sigh of relief.   People tell me I've missed so much.  I agree.  Different scenario perhaps, different ending.

Our memories are about other things.  I'm cool with that.  Maybe, in the next life, I'll go down the other pant leg of time, and see how it turns out that way.  Maybe, in the next life, I get a different  mother. yowza.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Bit by bit, we progress

The innards of newer woodstoves are almost as complicated as the innards of a car, these days:  ours also has firebrick, which over the past 8 years has begun to split and wobble. not good.   Getting it out is a lot like those dreadful puzzles we used to get for Christmas, with a 'key' that you had to find to take it apart. 

Took him all morning to find the right place to unbolt, and then we replace the firebrick and we're good to go for maybe another 8 years. By then, I truly won't care. Probably.

Two chimneys  to clean, and tomorrow the nice man comes to see about putting caps on the chimneys to keep the rain from getting in.  This week with all the incredible downpours, the dining room flue has run a steady stream.  Messssyyyy...

Still cleaning out books that I no longer want or will read again.  Along the way I've found several that I never got into, a good time to  try them on for size, I guess. 

And Toby, the determinedly touch-me-not cat, is now consenting to voluntary head pats, and careful shoulder blade scratches.  A little patience finally paid off. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

This year is turning out to be last year in a different room (T13)

Last year it was windows (putty, paint, refurbish) and curtains for the whole house, some serious wall stuff in the dining room, and bronchitis as a side dish.

And as these things happen,  when I look back, if this were a movie, it would start with a large drop of water falling gently into a still pond. Ripples.

Lots of ripples.

This year

I wanted to move a small bookcase downstairs into the back parlor.  Easy peasy. However I had to also move a huge oak dish cupboard out of the space earmarked for the bookcase.  Once I got it emptied and half way across the floor I realized that I wanted to finish taking off the ancient layers of varnish and let the nice wood show through.  What I really wanted to do was paint the damn thing, but the varnish still had to come off.

Two quarts of varnish remover later  I realize it does look pretty good, buffed it up a bit, and have it nearly in place on the other side of the  room.

While this was going on, my husband had tracked down the colony to end all colonies of carpenter ants (euuuwww) raising hell with the foundation.  In order to assess the damage from inside  he wanted to take out the cupboard and sink in the far corner of the kitchen.  Haven't used the sink in years, so that wasn't a problem.  Besides, I said, I always did want a woodbox there.

Sink removed, wall cleaned down, wallboard up, painted, woodbox (repurposed from elsewhere) in place and glory hallelujah a countertop and two lovely wide drawers.   Now I have a place for just making bread.  And five feet of countertop to do it on. **

Next ripple, dismantle the piano.

**there is, by the way, no such thing as too much counter space, shelving, or cupboards.  Men don't quite agree, but then they get to hammer nails into walls and hang stuff.  It's not the same.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Fun to say T-13

1. mr. green jeans

2. mellow yellow

3. jacques chirac

4. White Knight

5. black leather jacket

6. willy nilly

7. betty boop

8. fluffer nutter

9.  howdy doody

10. butter brickle

11. rubber baby buggy bumper

12. piggly wiggly

13.  jimmy dean's pure pork sausage

Thursday 13

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On the dubious joy of the Northern Cardinal

Our very first Cardinal arrived yesterday for what appeared to be an extended visit.  Most times we get a fly-over and never see another.
He landed in the trees  outside, and proceeded to sing its little heart out.  After seven solid hours (with what appeared to be much-needed rest breaks) it finally stopped, although now and then until total dark fell, he would fire it up again, in case we missed something.   It's like living next door to an Italian tenor who needs to practice those scales daily, hourly.

I know we'll get used to it soon enough,  it will become part of the background noise.

cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy

cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy

whoit whoit whoit whoit wicket wicket wicket wicket 

cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy

and before you jump all over me, yes it's a beautiful bird, and a true novelty. But I am reminded of the two days we had some years ago when I woke to the sound of a peacock shrieking outside our window.  Turned out he had escaped from a farm down the road that had exotic birds.  The cats were terrified, and hid inside for two days until he finally left, never to return.  I suspect a coyote dined well for a few days on that one, sadly. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018


(comments not mine.  I found this list years ago, time to share it again)

 Cooking instructions on a package of Bacon:
 "Broil slices for 6-7 minutes on each side. No turning necessary"
 (Do they turn themselves over?)

 On packaging for a Rowenta iron:
 "Do not iron clothes on body."
 (But wouldn't this save even more time?)

 On Boot's Children's Cough Medicine:
 "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this
 (We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we
 could just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those

 On Nytol Sleep Aid:
 "Warning: May cause drowsiness."
 (One would hope.)

 On most brands of Christmas lights:
"For indoor or outdoor use only."
(As opposed to what?)

 On a Japanese food processor:
 "Not to be used for the other use."
 (I gotta admit, I'm curious.)

On Sainsbury's peanuts:
 "Warning: contains nuts."
 (Talk about a news flash.)

 On a child's Superman costume:
 "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly."
 (I don't blame the company. I blame parents for this one.)

On a Swedish chain saw:
 "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals."
 (Was this happening somewhere? My God!)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Binge reading

Since last fall I've been trying to cut down on the sheer number of books in this house;  many of them were the 'why not' of yard sales, or library sales, many were experimental in nature or just a poor fit.  And some were old friends, read a few times and remembered fondly.

The only way to find out was to just sit down and read 'em.

It appears I have outgrown some of my oldest books, and while the memory is good, the reading--now--isn't.  Out. Some I've returned to (Calvin Trillin is one ) and realize what a charmer he was.

Binge reading authors, book by book,  can be a valuable exercise,  as it shows progress from first book to last both in the characters and the authors.   Some authors--like Pratchett and Sue Grafton--show an interesting development, stronger story lines, more interesting back stories.  Some just dwindle.  Ray Bradbury and Robert Parker are dwindlers, for very different reasons. Patricia Cornwell burgeons, becoming gorier and angrier with each book.

I try to save a bit of money when filling in a series writer by haunting places that sell used books;  a good way to tell the enduring popularity of an author is by how many of their books are on the shelves.  Sue Grafton is hard to find,  as is Terry Pratchett and Robert Parker, The DaVinci Code and Patricia Cornwell are apparently one-time reads and then given away.  I'm leery of any author who practically owns an entire shelf with his or her work, usually huge, 700 page monstrosities.

In the throes (I just finished "X") of the Sue Grafton  series, I've been reading them in order, steadily.  In doing this, I've seen how her writing has changed, how her style has morphed into something more complex and richer, and noticed that her character's progress is only about a five or six year stretch, with tags to previous books that really don't get in the way of the story line.  But what did disturb me is how little I actually recall about any of them. To be fair, some of these books go back to the late 80s and haven't been read since. But even the most recent leave me with blank spots. Did I even READ this?

I've also discovered along the way, that authors who resort to cute names for their characters, or cute antagonists (i.e. Tommy Tippler or Aggie Eggers) or even cuter animals who write the stories, are not really my thing at all.   It seems as if too much time is expended on an attempt at humor in the middle of what wants to be a solid serious-but-fun read.

On to P.D. James.  =)

Friday, July 6, 2018

how we spent our anniversary (for the curmudgeons out there)

I mowed the grass this morning
later on he went outside and cut some lumber for a kitchen project
while I slopped some paint remover stuff on a painted timber
and removed about half of it

Later in the day we took  the trailer and went to Home
Depot to pick up some wallboard and plywood. 

For our anniversary supper he had the last of the tunafish salad
with chips (we threw caution to the wind) and olives.  I had
an orange. 

No one appeared to scare the bejebus out of us with HAPPY ANNIVERSARY,
and no one invited us to a cookout,  a surprise party, or a seekrit celebration. 

It was a lovely day,  and we may just do it again next  year.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Random thoughts about the perception of Freedom

I think it's as much about what we perceive as it is the reality.   When I was a kid, my dad used to take me swimming. The family rule was, if you can't touch the bottom, you're too far out.  I followed that, knowing if I got in trouble, he couldn't swim out  to save me.  One day a bunch of kids came along, and we were horsing around, but then they got further out than I was "allowed' to go,  and that was the end of that.  My dad said, "why didn't you go with them?  You know how to swim..."  and I had to think that one over carefully.  What the rule REALLY was, but unstated,  "if there's no one else here...". 

That may very well obtain in everything.   Some rules/laws  are silly.  Some rules/laws  have unwritten unspoken codicils.  Some will save your life, some will kill you.

There was a flap recently about a woman who was pulled over on an interstate in the midwest for going too slow in the fast lane.  Her valid argument was, she was going the speed limit.  But she had a trail of 20 cars behind her.  They were following the other law, which was, you cannot pass on the right.  You can be too 'correct' to the detriment of everyone else.

If you think you are in a totalitarian state, and behave that way, then you are, no matter what the reality is.  Many early immigrants came here from truly dreadful places,  and they brought with them the idea that the world is a police state, and they were as terrified here as they were there.   Police were jailers, as far as they were concerned.

Most of us break little rules every day,  sometimes with a resounding crash.  Sometimes we don't even realize what we're doing until the process server shows up.  Or the building inspector. Sometimes we do,  and forge ahead anyway.   That's called flying under the radar.

I'm still fairly cautious about swimming out beyond my depth, well aware that no one will be paddling out to rescue me,  but I also know my own boundaries.  Most of the time.  😈

Tuesday, June 26, 2018



not a scrap left behind
no signatures,
no business ledgers,
no hard-to-decipher hieroglyphic handwriting
not even a social security card
or a birthday card

even all the addresses,
new and abandoned,
were hidden with a careful application
of black magic marker
across each one in the address book

All the negatives
most of the photos--
books, clothing that belonged
to someone else

she must have spent most of her days
in a haze of anger, confusion,
and caution,
wiping out any trace of anyone else
who ever lived—or died—
in that house,

until the only thing that remained
was one old woman
who lost even the memory of herself

Monday, June 25, 2018

Peter Dinklage

Fun to watch, and it makes you think.  =)