Monday, April 27, 2009

Last week I was reading a women's magazine (something I do about once a year)--in it was a short snippet of advice (along with many many more) for women who are overweight: it said, women who are overweight tend (as I do during my fat years) to wear loose clothing that makes them look larger than they are. It would be so much more attractive if they chose clothing that was more form fitting, to give themselves a better line, visually.

uh, huh. this sounds like it was written by a woman who has never been more than two pounds overweight in her life. Women of size wear loose large clothing not to try to fool anyone into thinking they're skinny little things, but because large loose clothing is much more comfortable. Nothing binds. No restricted arm movement. And most importantly, it nicely hides the rolls and droops and tummies and such that no one (including ourselves) wants to know about anyway. As soon as they slip into that 'form fitting" stuff they realize there is probably going to be a full corset in their future, and all the other uncomfortable things that go with that. And frankly, women who are frankly overweight tend to look--and feel-- like stuffed sausages when they get into clothes that "define" their curves. Oh, please. Spare us.

addendum: one of our local shopping malls has its food court directly across the way from the Lane Bryant store. As you are chowing down on chinese or pizza or ice cream, there are all those huge posters of buxom young women, wearing the latest in xxl underwear and xxl sweaters...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It Won't Last

Stepped 0utside a few minutes ago to try to find my wayward black cat Isabel, who is having none of this inside stuff on a nice warm evening, no siree...

In the front field the peepers are suddenly much louder than they were, and beyond them what sounds like barred owls calling to one another across the woods. Up the hill I can hear a truck with its backup sound, probably our wood guy doing something with his equipment. And one of the neighbors has his boombox out there beside the above ground pool; on a still night like this sound travels across the fields and through woods the way it does across water in the dark.

It's warm out, even for a May or June night, and as people like to say around here, "it can't last, don't get used to it". True, but I like to savor it when i can. I suppose you could say that about anything out there, from seasons to winter storms to a house being built or even living. 'It won't last, don't get used to it." Some folks like to take the zip out of everything, don't they.

Well, we were warned...

First day of tick season. This is the time of year when you are allowed to collect a bounty on each tick found on you, your spouse, parent, child, or animal. Right now I'm three cents to the good and the ticks I collected are swimming to freedom. Or so they think. bwahahaha

Put the screen sash in the storm door this afternoon, the temps are over ninety outside and barely seventy inside. I am always a bit leery about changing the storm sashes, we inevitably get a spell of nasty cold weather soon after and i am too stubborn to give in...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life Lessons

My adopted dad was not an easy man to live with; these days he would be called bipolar, manic depressive. Back then, he was known to have a quick temper that flared, did considerable verbal damage, and then was gone. But as critical and difficult as he was, I learned some valuable things from him that I still use today. Most of them have to do with hard work and how to make it manageable.

He would tell me, don't look at the whole job, just the bit in front of you. If you spend all your time looking ahead, you'll be so exhausted and discouraged you'll never even begin.

It works. It works whether you're clearing a bit of land, planting/harvesting a garden, painting the fifty-foot fence, or writing a poem or a short story or a three hundred page novel.

This week and last we have been confronted with a huge amount of wood draped all over the lawn, the stone wall, and other trees. It's a slow, seemingly endless job, but taken in manageable chunks, one bit at a time, it gets done.

my how we've changed. i hope.

I was talking with a group of friends yesterday, and the subject of early TV shows came up. We are all old enough to remember the early fifties, and what was interesting, we all were in total agreement as to how awful, how demeaning, many of the top rated comedies and shows were.

The Honeymooners, which actually had a very short run, with Jackie Gleason as the verbally abusive bus driver husband was known for his charming insecurities and his anger, which he took out on his sarcastic wife, with the phrase, "To the MOON, Alice, to the MOON". And she would just ignore him or say "you and what army?"

The Lucille Ball Show, beloved of a lot of people, even to this day, makes me cringe when I see it. yes, I know it was the fifties. yes, I know it was considered funny. It also showed women how to get around their domineering husbands by lying, trickery, and cajolery. Ricky Ricardo, of course, pretended to be surprised, and 'forgave" his wife who then responded with "awww ricky" and all was happy again.

A few years later "All in the Family" which was loosely based on a British show of the same name, but took its cues from the Honeymooners, had Archie Bunker in a constant battle of put downs to his idiot son in law, his ditzy wife Edith, and most of his neighbors. This was not funny.

Sid Caesar was abusive, arrogant, high strung, and he and Imogene Coca seemed to be of the same ilk as Lucy and Desi; dumb wife, domineering husband.

Seen in the social context of the fifties, this was not unusual, but seen in the context of the past twenty or thirty years, it's appalling.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Rain tonight, and depending on the early morning temps, rain tomorrow too. Right now the thermometer is hovering around 35 degrees, and by morning we could have a dusting, or even a foot of flurries, or nice icy slick roads. yippee.

When I opened the door to let Cuffy out awhile ago you could hear the faint, almost dog-whistle caliber sound of spring peepers, down in the run below the house, where it stays wet long enough in the spring most years for them to become grownup tree frogs, most less than an inch long.

Cuffy has been with us almost exactly one year. I keep thinking of all the new things he found this year, from hay piles to cool tractors to sit on, porcupines and turkeys, deer and a warm place to sleep. Food on demand (well, until he hit 14 pounds and Something Had to Done). He is utterly fearless about machinery, and will happily hop on the log splitter (manual not automatic) for a slow ride, or trot alongside the tractor, oblivious to the huge tires...needless to say, "where's cuffy" is a very important question around here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring has sprung

Some time ago I realized that no matter what season we are actually IN, we are always planning ahead for the next one. Or even two. Right now, with spring erupting all over everything, I am actually stacking wood in the shed for next winter--this is the very green stuff we've been bucking up, and it's the best way I know to actually KNOW how much there is of it. But I am also planning how things will look this summer as to vegetables out there, and will the butterflies come back...

What worked for cleanup in the garden last fall has been noted. By summer I will be ordering the winter's wood with an eye to leftovers for the year to come. Always nice to have a bit set by in case of emergencies.

And of course all winter we are looking at the woodpile as it shrinks and hoping we don't have to dig it out of the snow outside. Oh, we've done that, and it's not pretty.

And after all, isn't that what we do, all the time? Graduation isn't the end, it's the Next Step. Highschool, College, PhD, job, etc etc. Dating leads to relationships and occasionally marriage, and then there's the kids, and here comes graduation again...

Everything, just about, is done with an eye to the next stage, or a new start. As George Carlin once said, there is no "now", only a past and a future. the minute you start thinking about Now, it's gone. So we think about what we did, and plan for what we will do--all the while balanced precariously between the two.

Friday, April 17, 2009

dry spells

Despite the insane amounts of snow last winter, we are having a very early dry spring; only two days of heavy rain in a month, and now that the trees are about to bud out it makes the drought more serious.

In a lot of communities the sign in front of the fire department warns about outside burning, and the forest fire danger is up there on the chart. This is once again a heavily wooded state, despite mall builders and their best efforts to pave every square inch of pavable earth, and when you live in close company with acres and acres of trees, rain becomes an important part of your life.

We live on ten acres of land surrounded by hundreds of acres of forest, ours and the neighbors', and I think every one of us has become expert at automatically sniffing the air when we go out.
I value the free time without rain in it, for the outside work--but I'd gladly give a bit of that up right now for two days of steady rain, just to wet things down a bit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

So far, so good

We are and have been about two weeks ahead of schedule this year, if bloom times count for anything...the jonquils are just beginning to show off, last year it was the end of April--I notice other plants beginning to sprout, too.

If they are two weeks ahead, that means i am two weeks behind already. yikes.

Most of my outside work this week has consisted of helping buck up the amazing amount of downed and hanging wood just in the yard alone. My husband works the chain saw, I limb out and drag the stuff off to the brush pile. We lost a LOT of rock maples in the yard, not the tree directly but the tops were destroyed in the December ice storm, and they are as dangerous as they are ugly too look at. The only way is to cut the whole tree. Not really a loss, as trees go, since the yard is full of them and I've wanted to open that section out a bit anyway, let the light in.

As they say, be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Connections and Isolation

It does seem that the more intensely connected we are online, the more isolated we become in Real Time. By online I also mean cell phones, ipods, texting...anything that increases our social interaction but isolates us from the people we interact WITH.

This is not necessarily a good thing, here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life does funny things sometimes

Was reading over some older email stuff to and from a good friend with whom I have lost touch, both emotionally and otherwise. Makes me sad, and I'll never quite know what happened, but know that it does, from time to time. So this is where my boat floats this morning, becalmed, a bit, drifting the way the waters drift.

Life is not safe, it's not predictable.
It's not something you can plan for
much beyond buying a large notebook
and a pen, and filling in what just happened
rather than what you would like to have happen.
It has weather in it, and love,
Bad Things and Good Things. Most times,
the good stuff makes the bad stuff bearable.
And no matter where you go
there will be rocks to trip on, roofs that leak,
and surprises that spring up to poke you in the eye.
Some of those surprises will put your eye out,
but some will just clarify your vision, if you let them.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Feelin' Peevish

Pet Peeve #3,782: people who carefully and laboriously back into mall parking spaces when driving through to the other side would have netted them the same advantage with a lot less work

Pet Peeve #3,783: Toyota Scion

Pet Peeve #3, 784/5: Safety caps on meds designed for the elderly--who often have eye problems--with the instructions on how to open printed in white-on-white on the cap. and the instructions on dosage and possible side effects printed in grey on white in pt 2 type on the side.

Those damned sealed inner lids with the 'easy grip' pull tabs that require the strength of a brick layer and the grip of an orangutan to open. Arthritic meds and joint medication (such as glucosamine) are notorious for this. I mean, REALLY...


my mother-in-law is having Easter dinner. She called me last week to confer about what we should have. "Anything but ham" she said. I agreed. "A little ham goes a very long way with me." I said, and she agreed. We pretty much decided on maybe a nice pot roast or roast beef.
Oh good, I thought, we don't have to deal with ham.

We're having ham.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A small thing, in the greater scheme of it all, but...

Shelves, cupboards. Soon. Trying to maintain my Yankee stoic calm, here, but it's been thirty years of pillar-to-post kitchen storage, in a house designed for people who owned four pots, two pans, ladles, and a fireplace.

Perhaps not up to Martha's standards, but mine. By god, mine. The nice part is, most of it was lumber left from other projects, rather than $2000 worth of ready-mades that just would not suit either the house or me.

film, as they say, at 11.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

No is the answer

Women in general have a hard time saying "no". They say maybe, or probably not, they get coy and say "maybe later" or "another time, perhaps", or "I don't think so". Another woman gets it. A man doesn't. He hears "probably not' and translates that into "maybe". He hears "I don't think so" and hears the uncertainty and not the emphasis.

Men and women interpret the language differently, in much the same way they percieve colors differently. There is an old cartoon in which the lady of the house says to the painter, "I want this room to be painted a nice robin's egg blue, but not too much green in it, just a hint, and a warm cast to the blue, and for the bedroom, a nice warm cream with just a bit of pink in it". He turns to his assistant and says, "blue for the living room, white for the bedroom."

Older women especially learned or were taught that an outright "no" is harsh, masculine, and rude. This is a hard lesson to unlearn, and yes, it's hard to learn how to say such a simple word without qualifiers, without sounding like a shrew, without looking as if you are about to have a tantrum. I learned the trick by magic, one night when I was tired and weary of the arguing at a meeting, and was given a job to do that I hadn't asked for and knew I would do poorly. I no longer cared. So I just said "no". No qualifying "No, I really can't" or "no, I don't think I could do a very good job at this" (both of which open the door to argument). "no", she said. Silence.
Someone else got the job and I was off the hook.

Afterwards I thought, what just happened here? No one argued, no one asked why. It was amazingly freeing. And it isnt rude at all. Hell, men do it all the time and no one tells THEM it's rude...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Contentment trumps vanity

A friend of mine sent me this URL last night. It's a test on vanity, self-worth, narcissism. There are, as the text says, no right or wrong answers, only your own sense of how you answer. At the end there is an evaluation chart. The results may be a bit unsettling, especially for older people--took me awhile to understand why four of us, all near 65 and over, did as we did (way below what the man calls the 'national average').

This is a test slanted (all tests are slanted, depending on the demographic, arent they) toward younger people, who are still goal oriented. They haven't got there yet, and are still reaching for the brass ring, or the next brass ring. Once you get to a certain age group you are now backing off a bit, having reached your goals or stopped trying so hard. A certain level of contentment or realization (which may be good or not) creeps in, and your priorities have usually become vastly different than they were when you were twenty, or forty.

The test has value, even for us old guys, since it showed me that instead of a striving for the next goal, we have turned all that energy into personal private goals that have little to do with what the neighbors think or getting a raise next quarter.

Not such a bad deal, after all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How did we ever survive

This morning in the local paper there was a fairly extensive article about our highschool--it seems that in the science lab yesterday someone broke a thermometer. By the time it was over they had involved the hospital, the ambulance, the police, a haz-mat unit from the fire department, the school was evacuated, fans were quickly installed in all the lab windows, and the kids in the class were tested for mercury poisoning. No one at this point is even sure it WAS a mercury thermometer, but someone said it was.

There was a photo of one of the local cops holding the double-bagged pieces, about to be sent off for further inspection.

A great time was had by all, apparently.

My one thought is, how did we ever survive our own childhoods?

The paint had lead in it, there was, until the 70s, lead based inks in all the books and newpapers, and even the toys we had were painted with lead based stuff. We were told not to lick them. Not to eat the paint, and to wash our hands. By today's standards we were walking in a field of grenades and all the pins were loose...the irony of all of this is that the quantity of 'safe' school yard equipment, from swings to jungle gyms, are often made with pressure treated lumber, which up until recently was treated with arsenic as part of the process. Someone is not paying attention, here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Of Trees and Ice Storms

just spent the last two days trying to salvage something out of the mess that last winter's ice storm left us. The biggest casualty was this tree (seen here in fall mode) which split at the base, and having a brittle kind of wood--much like sumac--lost several of the branches that arched out over half the lawn. Last year we measured it (this is, by the way, a hybrid Chestnut tree) as having a branch span of 38' and it was about that tall as well. Much of that has gone.
Im still deciding what to do about it, since a few of the upright branches are still whole, but I don't want it to look like a hack job--Im thinking, cut off the broken stuff, and prune whats left into a decent symmetry and let it fill in as it will.
This is a Chinese Chestnut/American Chestnut cross, developed by a botanist neighbor, Elwyn Meader, some years ago. He gave anyone who would take them as many of these as they wanted, in the hopes of rejuvenating the chestnut tree in new england. It has grown and thrived here for nearly 25 years, and Im hoping it thrives, in one shape or another, for a hundred more...
The druid in me weeps, the optimist knows it will come back.