Sunday, December 26, 2010

yay it's christmas yay it's over

Not that we do much about it on a personal basis, but at least I won't be hearing Alvin and the Chipmunks for another year,  and all the pre Christmas sales  have turned into post Christmas sales,  and my latent guilt at not sending cards or buying gifts can go back in the carton with the tree we didnt put up this year.

I know, I know, bah humbug. Go, Scrooge.

Now we can settle back into the process of getting in and out of winter in time for spring.  Some years it's a close call.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Poem

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


WINTER SOLSTICE

At any time of the year
you measure the dimensions of the sky
one constellation at a time
give it perspective in terms
that you can understand

but at this darkest point
the nadir of the calendar
stars become much more
than pinpoints on a chart
sometimes it's all you have to steer by
and you begin to weary of the darkness
there is so much of it

Having lost the light
you announce yourself with candles
in every window
drape strings of icicles
from eave to eave
calling softly into the winter sky
over here over here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

memories that never quiiiite fade

Everyone has from time to time been visited by the ghost of  a particular song, the kind of thing that drifts into your mind but seemingly never drifts away, just lingers behind a potted fern for the appropriate moment.  You are sorting socks and realize you're humming Yankee Doodle Dandy, and have been doing so since breakfast.  Yikes. Or riding to work, the strains of OOOOOKlahoma...suddenly careen around the corner of your mind,  and you know you'll be mentally singing "OOOOOklahoma where the winds blow heavy da da da" for the next eight hours.

It may be "London Bridge," or the Hallelujah Chorus, the entire "Memories", or "Old Man River" (even worse, Stan Freberg's version, "Elderly Man River") anything that plants itself squarely in your brain and sticks, wearing an ever deeper groove in the record up there. 

My own bete noir is  the Oscar Meyer Weiner song, with alternate endings, and on really bad days, Eddie Fisher singing "Oh My Papa".  Feel free to borrow either of these  if you feel the need for different material. 


Hope this  helps.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Earth cycles, 1, Global Warming 0

This morning at 5:am the thermometer read -1.  In Britain they are experiencing the coldest winter in 100 years.  Europe is digging out its long johns and wondering where they put the snow plows. 

Last year during the much-touted Global Warming conference in Denmark there was a blizzard.  Probably directly over the conference center.  This year the Global Warming folks are in Cancun and if I lived there, I'd bring in my pets and buy some warmer clothing.  It seems, somehow, that every time they decide to meet (and very expensive meetings these are, indeed) to 'discuss' global warming",  the thermometers plunge, and the conference tables turn to blocks of ice.   Perhaps if they turned all that money into actually doing something instead of actively discussing doing something,  I'd be a bit less cynical about the whole deal. 

Time to feed the stoves.  It's turning into a 3 stove day, for sure. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Any forward motion helps at this point

In two weeks the days will begin to grow longer.  The one thing at this stage that gets me through the drama and drek of January, February, and ice storms, is knowing this.  Minute by minute, the day grows brighter sooner. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A bit of nostalgia for what is now 'the good old days"

Something has gone out of message boards, as a general rule, and I miss it. There is no longer that free-wheeling sense of creativity there once was, bounded only by your imagination and what the board itself would tolerate. 

I cannot fathom any board out there now allowing the freedom to "spin" that we once had at places like Excite, or the old Speakeasy, Fresh Press, or even Multiverse  in all its strange incarnations. 

There are message boards, to be sure,  but they are specific; writing, talking about writing,  tractors, skate boarding, politics, etc etc.  The freedom to get down and stream-of-conciousness creative seems to have disappeared.  That may be why I have such a difficult time sticking with any one board, these days,   there's simply no room to haul in the bean bag chairs and the new bar stools. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

signage

Brought to you by the good folks who last year on their church marquee proclaimed, "BLESS GOD, AMERICA"--this year they ask us,  "IF GOD CARRIED A WALLET, WOULD YOUR PICTURE BE IN IT?"
It is hard to imagine the mind that could imagine God carrying a wallet in the first place. Strange questions arise. 

Does he have credit cards?
How much cash would God carry?
What about a driver's license? 
Insurance? 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thinking Out Loud

When you're a kid, you spend most of your time peering into the future, mostly because there's not much past to recall.  When you get really old, a lot of your time is spent looking  back, remembering what was because what's much too near at hand is often nothing we want to contemplate too deeply.  It catches us all, eventually,  and I think by then we  have sorted out what memories we will keep for comfort food, and which we will ignore, deny, or forget entirely.

But somewhere in the middle I think a lot of us begin to look back at what our childhood was like, and our parents, relatives, and friends,  and wonder how much of that shaped us directly, gave us a gentle shove in a particular direction, seemed to have no influence at all--or became something that we learned to work around or tunnel away from, in order to survive. 

Many people spend a lot of time denying the past,  pretending it doesnt matter, when in fact it's all we have of who we were.  How we reacted to it, from the inside, often has a great influence over the rest of our lives.   And equally interesting,  as we mature,  our point of view changes--we become, often, more dispassionate about things, and now and then have some pretty heavy insights into not what our parents did to  or for or about us,  but why.

The why is the key.  And denying that childhood, that base we all stand on,  is denying that we ever had one, sort of.  And sometimes it says, if it didnt matter, then I don't, either.  I think it's the key to everything, to us, and to how we deal with our own kids and grandkids.  It matters, if only to us.

I love new appliance day

My old  washer died two weeks ago, or rather it began to breathe funny, and make a clickclickclick sound around the agitator.  So I did my famous appliance hunt, which mostly means walk in, find the cheapest one, and work my way up from there to the one I really want.
Two days ago I went back and the new one wagged its little stubby tail and looked as wan-but-expectant as any puppy in a pet store--the clerk knew, I could see him approaching from one side.  Can I help you, he asked.(sly devil, he already knew I was hooked). Why yes, I answered, pointing.  That one. And it was. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Mice and Men and Microsoft

We've been running Avast (the cheap guy version) anti-virus for several  years, since Norton got so big it couldnt fit through the doors.  Worked well,  but now they want us to download the new spiffy version, 5.0.   I tried it and it just about ate my computer.  No thanks, I said.  so for the last few months they've been hitting me with reminders, daily, much the way Norton did. Nag, nag, nag. 
My cynical elf suggests that the free version is deliberately made buggy, and the pay to use version runs very well indeed.  But I don't want to invest 29 bucks to find out for sure.

So.  The mister suggested I get, heaven help us, MSN.  The downside is, you have to accept alllllll the security downloads Ive been avoiding for the past three years.  All of'em.  If you refuse the honor, they won't let you run MSN Anti virus stuff.  If you decide to let 'em in,  and then delete, everyone of them requires a restart.  They gotcha.  No one wants to restart their computer 200 times in a day.

sulk.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

119K miles later...

Today it goes to Honda heaven. Its been sitting in the back field (the limbo for dead cars, trucks, and assorted motorized things) for 8 years, and we are finally parting with it.  Found some  pennies in there on the dash, that had cupped apparently from the heat over the years.  They look a bit like tiddly winks now.

Gonna miss it, in a strange way, but mostly for what it was, not for what it is now, which is a hunk o junk full of acorns and mouse nests...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Of the Written Word

added in a new member to the "Written Word" list,
http://www.bachelorsdegree.org/2010/11/11/50-best-poetry-books-for-kids/

which while being a bit ad-heavy for my taste does a really nice job with the list, enumerating the strengths of each book on the list itself.  So it's not just a rip and read group of titles.  Some of them I remember fondly, some I had forgotten about, and some make me wish I had a grandchild to read them to.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

when good dogs die...

they'll remember this and find us

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

something to cling to at 7 AM

You look out the window and think, wow it's dark, there must be something wrong with the clock
and then it sweeps over you that it's nearly November and the clock is your reality check.
It really is 7 AM here in Yankee land, and it really is that dark.

However, in seven weeks, give or take (so Im fudging a little. So sue me) the days will be getting longer again. And once we hit the high double hurdle of Christmas and New Year's,  the slide into winter, true winter begins, and the days are still getting longer. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book stuff, good and ugly

Just picked up a copy of WS Merwin's "The Shadow of Sirius"  and it blew me away.  an odd thing, though;  I got through the first five or six very lyrical pieces, and had to stop.  Since then I've been carrying it around like a partially opened treasure, almost afraid to keep going.  It's become my Linus blanket of books.  I need it near me, but not to read. Not yet. 

The ugly is Barnes and Noble, a fairly sturdy candidate in the book chains for their attention to poetry--it's been six months or so since I was there last, and the poetry section which once stretched half the length of the store, now stretches three long bookcases, head  high.  No one bothers any longer to keep the books in order, and if you want, say, Kooser, you start at the first book and hunt until you find one. If any.   By next year, I said to the clerk, there won't be any.  He nodded and said, by next year, if that happens, I'm gone.

I think we're seeing a dark ages coming, one store at a time.  I always wondered what it would be like to be at the edge of a new Dark Age,  and it's not much fun.  It's all coming unglued, faster and faster.  Perhaps the computer will be our monks, our scribes,  storing information until such time as people can remember how to read again, how to turn the damn things on, how to use that information.  Im glad in a strange way to have seen that terribly sinster dark edge,  but even gladder I won't be around to watch what happens. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

argh

Snow. Not a lot, lasted maybe ten minutes, but no matter how I tried to pretend it was pollen, (really BIG pollen) or hail...

(heading off to sulk under a warm blanket)

Friday, October 15, 2010

October picture

Almost home

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the new bookstore

In the mall in Concord a new bookstore finally opened--however, it's Border's and they have a very limited range of books available.  It almost amounts to censorship but im not entirely sure who is censoring what or why...Im giving them the benefit of the doubt right now, because they havent been there long;  very few shelves in the open spaces, for one thing.  Lots of self help books, history, biography.  No Robert Parker, John P. MacDonald, Lawrence Block, John Irving or Terry Pratchett. Very few women-as-detective series.  And incredibly, Jane Eyre has been relegated to the mystery/detective shelf.  No poetry, not even Shakespeare or Frost. 
It comes across as a Nicholas Sparks/Oprah type store, easy reads,  nothing too difficult.  If you are over 7 you are labeled an indepent reader, even if you are  now reading the final Harry Potter.

This Independent Reader fwowed up and left.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Radio Memories

I am listening to a recording by Tom Rush, "Circle Game".  Hearing this I am once again 19, it's late, really late at night,  and WBZ in Boston is on the radio.  Dick Summer has the late night slot, and he has the privilege of playing whatever he wants.  Most records in those days, the mid sixties, were 3 minutes long, more or less.  This one was endless, and he said, you'll hardly notice how long it is.  He was right.
He introduced us to Tom Rush, Phil Ochs, and Jim Croce and a lot of other music that was just outisde the rim of what passed for "popular".   

Late night radio was amazing, back then.  Every night from 10 to 11 Jean Shepherd would hold forth from WOR in NY, only available on AM, and I was willing to endure the fade in fade out static,  just to hear him.  He played bizarre music,  expounded on everything from car dealers to tornadoes. He was never dull.  He also told the story then that eventually became "A Christmas Memory", now shown every Christmas, with Himself doing the narration. 

Radio was live, and the disc jockeys were more than rip and read music players. They talked about the records, did background, and talked to each other.  Not long ago I happened across Dick Summer's blog, in which he reminisces about those very days.  So it wasnt magic just for me.  That makes it even more special.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Today I am an Old Person

I have just officially become a medicare recipient,  subject to the whims and vagaries of Social Security, from now until they decide what to do with the body, hopefully years down the road.  It's a bit unsettling.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

No fawn should be this new this late in the year.  She just stood almost in front of the car when I was coming home today, staring at me. We figure she was born maybe a month ago, and fawns like this worry me.  They keep coming later and later, as if this particular grouping has a slightly longer cycle which pushes the fawns to be born later and later.

And amazingly they do manage to survive the winter. I don't really know how, but they do.

When she started to move away I tooted the horn at her, give her a bit of fear of humans to chew on.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

well it HAS been awhile

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
But being about as predictable as baby chicks in a hailstorm, hurricanes can do strange things, both weather-wise and human wise;  people respond in  different ways:  one group hunkers down after cleaning the store shelves of candles (which they never use),  radio batteries, toilet paper, and beer;  another gets ready to party hearty all night long or go surfing, regardless of what cooler heads are suggesting,  one set bundles in the car heading for the beach to "watch the waves come in", and the rest of us just bring in the lawn furniture and hope the roof holds up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Now I know why my front lawn is so green

These 11 wild turkeys have been around all summer. They have been carefully tended by two females, and not one of the eleven was lost.  Baby turkeys are as near the bottom of the food chain as you can get, and its not unusual for a mother turkey to lose an entire clutch of 12-16 babies in a season.  I suspect the two hen turkeys were sisters from one of last year's broods, and I am strangely proud of them for protecting these guys all summer, from coyotes, foxes, fisher cats, and anything else that eats turkeylets. 

This seems to be their first day on their own, without the two mothers watching over them.   The fields were mowed yesterday, and they've been scouring it steadily ever since, gleaning, gleaning...

Harvesting Moonlight

Slowly, with care so as not to break
its spirit

Storage can be a problem
unless you have a field large enough
to hold it all

Any wild thing will tell you
let it run free, trust it will return
at the right time and for the right reasons

Watching from the edge of the woods
rising over the trees at last
only a little to the right
of where you left it the month before

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Odds and Ends

Finally, rain. The neighbor who takes our hay every year came to mow, yesterday; and today, racing the rain, he gathered it into windrows, baled it,and loaded it onto our flatbed all in about five hours. Just minutes, literally, before the rain started for real, he came back with his pickup and got the last half dozen or so bales left behind.

Which is why we do not grow or sell hay for sale, why we do not raise vegetables or fruit commercially, or any of the other things folks seem surprised we do not do with 'all that land'. I simply do not have the emotional stamina any longer to watch thunderheads gathering on the day we mow the field, or watch a late May frost wipe out an entire year's harvest. I do however
admire those people who do, and seem to thrive on it in some way.

But it did rain at last and is raining now. I hope it rains for a week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Still no rain


Words of one syllable department: in the local paper last night I read that in some areas of the country they are advising people to put out barrels to catch rainwater until the drought is over.

Read that sentence very very carefully.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cecropia moth caterpillar

Found this on a neighbor's blueberry bush a few days ago. This eventually turns into the largest moth in North America. Even by itself it's pretty spectacular

enough, already

This has been the Summer of Small Appliances. I finally divested myself of three old vacuums, one dating back to the days when women were shown in ads wearing heels, stockings, and shirtwaist dresses. and smiling. Nature, however, abhors such things, and sure enough my mother in law, hearing that I was down to one, unloaded--errr,--gifted me with one of hers, cutting her vacuums down to two and raising mine.

Some time later I was telling her what a mess my new iron was, and she said, oh wait, I have one that you might like better. It's not very good, but at least it doesn't spit water at the cat.
She was right, it wasn't very good. Just last week, as part of her current effort to clean out the deadwood, she presented me with her newest one, truly a terrific iron. And as she said, since you're ironing my clothes anyway...(no, ma'am, I don't mind at all). Now I have three.

Tonight she parted with a mixer. It's a late forties Dormeyer Silver Star. No, I never heard of it either. I shall add it to my mixer collection, which is now up to six. No one, ever, ever, needs six mixers, three of which are stand mixers. Just as no one ever needs 14 strainers and colanders...

I can hardly wait to see what she sends over next--

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

August is too damn close for comfort

I suddenly want to pull up one potato plant just to see what's down there. I know, I know, pig potatoes and not much else, and nothing more until the end of August... Potatoes are like all those presents under the tree at Christmas; you know some of it's drek (socks, underwear, that awful red chenille vest...)--but the possibilities for Wonderful are just as great. Just one on Christmas eve, huh huh huh.

Maybe just one plant. Just to see.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Eponymous Challenge (anyone can play)

ten words, any form allowed, surprise me


waterfall, bright, (a number from one to ten), (a color), belabor, enemy, walnut, swift, miter, trail

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ruminations III

When I first started this blog I was apprehensive about where it would go, and what would happen along the way. Still not sure about where it's going; most of the time it's a bit like my garden, a hearty mix of almost everything--but what has happened is what happens to a lot of blogs, and in a most positive way; a small interested group of people, some of whom I have known for (wow) years, but most of whom do not really know one another that well, but have all gathered to read, comment, and converse.

and that, I realize, is what keeps me going, and keeps this going. For those of you who read and comment (either here or privately), you need to know how much of a difference it makes, that dialogue, that extra commentary. It's a very cool thing.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Turning the Corner

Two nights ago we had a string of thunderstorms that lasted for several hours; when they finally rumbled their way out to sea the air was different. Damp, cool. Extra blanket on the bed, yessir.

In the morning instead of the sulky heat of the past few weeks, it felt more like August than mid-July. Almost chilly, crisp. Put me in mind of sweaters and sneakers across the wet grass.

I thought then, we've turned that corner from high summer into whatever the next stage is, chilly mornings, hot clear days. August weather, yessah.

Saw a doe and her new fawn yesterday morning. Barely visible behind the tall grass, obviously very new. We have a batch of does that for some reason do not produce fawns until mid to late July, rather than in early June. When I first saw a spotted fawn at this time of year years ago I never thought it would make it through the winter--and somehow, they do. Their size and age might be in their favor, actually. They require less food, they are lighter on the snow, and I suspect the herd watches out for them more.

I dunno. Nature seems to look after its own--and what survives is stronger.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Books

Just finished "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood. She writes strange fiction, not really science fiction, and yet it is. The last of hers I read, "The Penelopiad" I couldnt even finish, not with that chatty sly-sounding Penelope narrating...

for some reason I'm compelled to read Atwood's books, and afterwards think, well, okay...and as good as she is, there are times when I think she leaves too much to the reader's imagination (and sometimes too little), and that can be very frustrating.

also finished the Discworld series (again) with the addition of what I hope will be Terry Pratchett's final book, harsh as that may sound. This last one I could only get about two chapters in, and realized I was never gonna finish it. He still writes well, but it seems overwritten and forced, at some level. Damn.

Picked up a book by Ted Kooser, from 1980. In reading this, I can see how far he has come as a writer since then, and can admit to being mostly disappointed by what he was writing 30 years ago. Thank god for growth, and he surely has.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New stove, first baby picture


its not the best shot in the world, but ain't it shiny, and ain't it black...I can't use a flash, because of all the chrome. But its by god level (there's a two inch difference between the back legs and the front ones, because of the floor) and its just the right cooking height for me. The old one was about two inches higher, and it was doable but not perfect. Our biggest problem is going to be getting an adapter for the stovepipe. The piece that comes with it is oval, but our flue is round. They make adapters, but they're hard to find.
That will be the last hurdle, getting it hooked into the chimney. But its here and it looks like it belongs. *g*

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stove more

it sat overnight under a tarp, and by this afternoon the sun came out and we had worked out fifteen possible ways to move this thing without losing body parts or a marriage in the process. One of them worked (the one with the pushing and screaming, crowbars, a hydraulic jack, and rollers--not unlike giving birth) and we managed to get it at least in the back door and under cover. Tomorrow, the last 20 feet to the fireplace. Man handling 600 pounds of stove on a hot July day is an exercise in um, exercise...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stove



It's in that particle board box, yep. We took it around the back of the house and left it there, covered with a tarp, for overnight. It's a pretty thing, not overwhelming at all, as to size.


By tomorrow night we should have it in place and yes, Kate, now you can get excited. I can too. *g*


The box was opened like this when we got it, Im figuring customs at the border wanted to make sure we weren't importing lethal bomb stoves from Ontario...


Saturday, July 10, 2010

this is not pretty


it took an engine block, two different attempts at moving it, rollers, planking, and four hours of steady labor just to get this Old Stove from here to over there (look around the corner of the picture to the left) where it sits right now with a cat sleeping on top of it. The legs are off, the warming oven is off,
and now it looks like it would make a great cookstove for the hearth, if we were all three feet tall.
This is really really kinda sad. When I saw the picture my first thought was a line from a Yeats poem, "The Fiddler of Dooney", "and he sang in his chains like the sea"...

Stove report

The stove is on its way. They called and said it will be delivered next Tuesday between 12 and 4; the hard part now is getting the old stove outta da way and the path cleared between Here and There.
Not excited yet. Im saving all that up, in true Yankee fashion, for the day it gets here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

one potato two potato

Amazing what a month can do to a bunch of potato plants.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Still here, breathing softly

It's been a crazy (and mostly good) summer, one of those periods when you move from major event to major event in a straight line, and the spaces in between are like islands where you plan for the next thing to happen. A few weeks back we had a utility pole removed, the one that holds the meter and supplies the power and telephone feeds underground into the house. It involved an electrician, the electric company, the building inspector, the telephone company, and Cuffy, who discovered that loose dirt mounded up is a GREAT play toy to push back in the hole...
Each part of the event involved a week of contacts, scheduling, coordination between the three branches of government, and lollipops all around at the end.

Today we got me signed up for Medicare (yes, it's that time); part of me is constitutionally against it, part of me knows Ill be glad of it in about 20 years. I'll get over me sooner or later.

The stove is not here yet, Kate. But we expect a call any day now, or next month. With stuff like this it's a wide range.

And through it all the wood man delivers, two cords at a time. This is what eight cords looks like...




Friday, June 18, 2010

garden things







this is a big old rock maple in our yard. The green cascading over the front of it is NOT maple leaves, but rather a wildflower called Celandine, with pretty little yellow blooms. It originally was on the ground directly beneath where it is now, and apparently a bird or squirrel carried one of the seed pods up and lodged it in the vee...and there it sits.








I really got into the potato thing this year, raised bed, straight compost for planting, and so far they are really really nice looking plants. Hilled them up for the first time yesterday and dusted them with sulfur powder to keep the bugs away.

Having grown potatoes before sporadically, with wildly varying degrees of success, I'm not counting on anything until the vines are pulled and the potatoes are in my hands, nossir.

But right now...

They are, for those who set store by such things, Maine potatoes, probably Katahdins. I went all out and planted three pounds, which should yield at least 40-50 pounds. Last year I got a 25-1 ratio, so we shall see.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Just for Kate

this is what we're using now. It's twenty three years old and starting to warp a bit, and frankly Ive never been totally pleased with it. It was never mentioned that all the measurements are metric, and the oven was just that much smaller than most of my cookie sheets and even turkey roaster, they all had to be pared down to fit. Very annoying.

The design is very similar, but smaller than the new one, and i wont be getting white doors, just basic black. Im impressed, too, Kate. *g*

Getting it in and set up will be the fun part, it weighs over 500 pounds--god bless engine hoists and rollers. I just don't want to take a door frame off the hard way when we're rolling it down the ramp and into the doorway...yikes...

Monday, May 17, 2010

margin gem stove

It was time, and this is the one that to me says 'cook stove'.
Shelf instead of warming oven, no water reservoir, no fancy
bits. Just a fire box, an oven, and moi. Six weeks, give or take.
This is more exciting than a new refrigerator, *g*

Monday, May 10, 2010

It gets scary sometimes

Most of the time when I come to a red light and stop, it changes, and I am off and rolling. This time I was mentally drifting a bit and missed the change--after a few seconds the truck behind me tapped his horn, and I started to move forward. Just as I did, a car ran the red light on the cross traffic.

It didnt seem like much but then I realized that if I had been quick off the mark he could very well have got me broadside. I would have been about where he was at the same time since my left hand view was blocked by an SUV, and I had no way of knowing there was a car running the light.

Maybe from now on i will instigate the three second green light rule and if the hotshot behind me is that impatient he can pound sand.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Out to the shed and back

It's never a simple trip, there's usually something to carry out or carry back (or both), and even tonight when my only mission was to throw a plastic tub over the mower in case of rain, and pull the little shed doors shut, I had to stand on the porch steps first getting used to the early evening not-quite-dark, admiring the peepers and little frogs singing joyously (well I have to assume so, it is May, after all) in the run at the bottom of the field.

And the the appreciation of stepping out onto the lawn in bare feet and no jacket, after a winter of traveling outside swathed in the coat, the hat, the gloves, the boots, only to roll up a car window. But now the winter coats are inside, and I am not. I feel twelve years old again, marching bravely and barefooted across the night lawn with the cat padding loudly beside me.

on the way back I heard a barky noise, one Ive heard before this year, sort of a sneezy single bark but apparently high off the ground. Finally looked it up on google and by a process of elimination and incredible intuitive leaping, realized I was hearing a grey fox. They do climb trees, and if startled, the site said, will warn you with a hoarse bark that sounds like a cough.

Good for him, good for me. Happy May 1st.

Friday, April 30, 2010

owning the star

There is a certain cachet in using the first name of a celebrity, it implies familiarity with 'george' or "lindsey" or "Lyndon" and suggests that yes you do rate the privilege to safely refer to them by just their first name in public, trusting that other folks who are not in the ingroup will be impressed with your close ties.

yes, it annoys me. are we surprised.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cleaning the Attic

This is an old house. When we moved in, the attic was stuffed and I do mean stuffed with the detritus of nearly two hundred years of broken toys, books, missing puzzle pieces, games without instructions, and mice nests in every box of woolen goods that had been stored for future braided rugs. We took thirteen (13) truckloads to the dump, and that was it.

38 years later our own layers of detritus have become so overwhelming that last week, when I decided the occasional chairs stored in the front room had to go back in the attic, I realized the reason they were IN the front room was because there was no place for them up there. So for this week I have been sorting, tossing, hardening my heart over broken this and fractured that, and coming across things that I never remember buying or getting and neither does the mister. We seem to have an attic where ur-burglars are sneaking in and deposting things from their overcrowded attics...and as I said to him tonight, if neither of us remembers this stuff, why do we have it?

Gravity, apparently, is suspended in old houses. All you own floats upward, from the dining room to the upstairs hall, and then into the attic, one slow step at a time and all the chairs and bits of furniture that are gradually moving us out onto the porch will go up into the newly arranged attic, and for a little while at least there will be space.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Balance on the edge of a knife

For a year I have been taking Prevacid, which is heavy duty Reflux medication, in an attempt to heal a lesion on my esophagus (known as Barrett's Esophagus). Apparently it worked, the doctor said to see him in three years.

What I found out directly, by looking this stuff up on the net, is that if you take it for over a month you are at risk for osteoporosis. it you take it for longer than a year and don't have osteo, you will probably get it, because this thing is a proton pump inhibitor, and inhibits calcium from entering the body. sigh.

So you take twice as much calcium and hope. I already have osteo, so this year has been one of Being Careful and keeping my fingers crossed.

I have since stopped the Prevacid, partly because of that, but partly because I was on a diet for a year, a careful, serious diet, and gained four pounds. Aha, I thought. Maybe it's the Prevacid, mucking about with my metabolism. In the two months since I stopped taking it, on the same diet, I have lost seven pounds. Aha, I thought. Lookit that. And of course the weight gain distorts the esophagus and makes the Reflux worse.

It has been a year of trying to balance two very different problems, each of which counters the other, since calcium needs stomach acid to work properly, and prevacid does it's very best to reduce the same acid to do its job properly. The people I feel sorry for in all of this are the women who took this stuff when it was being tested, some of them in their forties and fifties at the time, and suddenly found themselves looking at the rest of their lives with osteoporosis in it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Equinox, Vern

Three days ago we put out three new bluebird houses to replace the very old, dilapidated ones that had been in use for over twenty years. The next day the bluebirds arrived, and one of the males spent the entire day going from house to house, possibly looking for 'his' house...

Today we put up the other two, in new spots, so they may or may not get used this year, but they're up and ready for business.

Unseasonably warm for mid-March, not that I'm complaining, no no no, but 60-70 is warm even for April. I'm sort of waiting for the snow-laden axe to fall, spend enough years in northern new england and you get that way. Nothing is permanent, predictable, or a sure thing, when it comes to weather.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Addictions 'r' Us

addiction is a strange event. It's often hard to face, harder to admit out loud, and even harder to quit. In thinking about it, it seems that most of it is in the mind. You hear the click of a lighter, you want that cigarette. Or the light turns red, and you always, always, reach for the pack. Action, reaction.
I don't know what sets off a drug user, but Im sure its as much a sound, a smell, an image of Something Happening, as it is a physical craving.

I just quit an online game Ive been playing for maybe six months, one of those 'runs in the background' things, which are lethal, since its always going whether you're there or not, so of course you have to check in for a few hours to see to your money, your troops, your armies...they become love/hate objects, and you find yourself enjoying less and less of it.

There are only two ways to quit, one is get truly angry with the entire process, and storm out get mad and stay mad, the other is to hand the game over to a friend and say, it's yours. I'm done.

The hardest addictions to overcome are those that are socially acceptable by either society or the group you hang out with. Smoking became a lot easier to let go of when it became less approved anywhere.

And in a way isnt falling in love it's own kind of addiction, as well?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Staggering Into The Wilderness

He left this morning, laden with enough gear to supply a trip to the summit of Everest. Snowshoes, crampons, a camera with case slung around his neck, 20lbs of toys and goodies in his backpack, the coat, the gloves, the gps and cellphone, a tripod and telephoto lens in special case, special snow walking sticks...

He's a happy happy man. Go forth, my dear, and conquer something.

Friday, March 5, 2010

You'd think I'd know better

I am thinking about downloading the latest version of Yahoo Instant Messenger, since mine is V.6 and the latest one is V.10. Might be time. However, I wanted to be sure I could still connect to Yahoo Games with it.
Stupidly I went into a forum there and asked that simple, simple question. Yes or no answer. One little dolly told me I might be underage and would need parental permission, or maybe I was not the administrator of this computer, and I thought, don't they even read the question?

Doesnt anyone these days read for content? No one seems able to answer a simple one braincell question with a simple one braincell answer. Nod once for yes, twice for no.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Soapbox

Last week a 12 yr old girl was arrested in her school room, handcuffed and marched across the street to the police station where she was booked and charged with lord alone knows what. probably 'inappropriate use of a magic marker".

What she did was, in a moment probably of 12 year old emotion, write the names of her best friends on the desktop. The teacher called the police and they arrested her.

This was not a troubled kid, not a problem child. She had perfect attendance and good grades. She is now suspended from school.
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Two or three weeks ago a little boy of about seven was removed from the classroom and his parents called, because the teacher found a Lego marine (with rifle) belonging to him. He may have been showing it to a buddy. It was suggested he undergo therapy. By now, he may need it.


In Pennsylvania the school sent home special laptops for the kids so they could do their homework on them. What the kids and parents did not know was that each laptop came with a small camera that could be activated remotely by the school. They activated it a LOT. The school is now having its doors sued off by parents.



this is one side of the coin.

the other side is, the schools no longer hold kids back if they cant do the work, and they all graduate with their class (it looks so good on the record books) whether they can read or not, so as not to damage their tender psyches. When there is a death of a dog, rockstar, hamster, or grandparent the school holds grief counseling sessions, thereby nailing the grief to the wall forever for those kids, rather than letting them deal with it their own way...


does anyone else see a huge discrepancy between the first part and the second part?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Old Timer's Disease

The only thing more annoying than starting a book and realizing you've already read it, but also realizing that you know this only peripherally--some of the names seem familiar, but you have no clue as to what happens next. Sometimes you don't like the book almost as much as you did the first time, when you bought the first copy; but it takes you fifteen chapters to realize you are plowing through old ground...

what really scares me is the total lack of any sort of memory of either the first reading or what I liked/disliked about it. Gone. Just gone.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guy gadgets

And the cellphone was lonely, so he brought home a GPS handheld to keep it company, and then so he would be able to mush out into our frozen wasteland and play with the GPS (which is really kind of neat) he got a pair of those new skinny aluminum snowshoes.

At this point, I don't mind. It gets him out walking, it gives him a hobby, and since he wants to go climbing next summer, I do not have to go with him now, and I do not have to worry about a 66 year old man stravaging all over the White Mountains for the first time in decades.

It does seem that when men embark on Adventures like this, they are no longer content with a stout stick and good boots. They need compasses that cost a week's wages, a better camera, walking sticks that do everything but play the bagpipes, special backpacks to hold all this stuff...if he ever falls over with that new backpack on he will be immobilized until someone can get him unhitched from it.

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And the calendar (picture those transitional calendar page effects from forties movies) is whizzing past February, the days lengthen noticeably, and in 27 days it will be spring. Mud, snow, glop, and all. Not a hard winter, necessarily, but a winter, and I may just go stand in the mudsnowglop when the time comes, just because it's there.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Zero and beyond

'Twas zero this morning, with what can only be called a hearty wind. Zero is one of those temps that make you grateful it wasn't colder, and hopeful that it will get warmer soon. And Monday is the first of February. oh snoopy dance of joy

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fox Tracks

yesterday afternoon, late, I happened to look out the kitchen window to see a fox trotting by...it was just after sunset so I only had one real chance to get any kind of worthwhile photo, and luckily I got this;




then early this morning he happened by again, since apparently he had found good hunting in the garden the previous day--All of this, of course, less than twenty feet from the edge of the porch...





Saturday, January 23, 2010

The difficult childhood

There has been a new and truly disturbing study in this state, suggesting that abuse of children is far more widespread than has been previously realized--but somewhere along the way 'child abuse' has been expanded to include discipline (ever try to reason with a two year old on a rampage?), sibling rivalry, bullying in the schoolyard, on and on and on. anything and everything that negatively impacts a child's safe cocoon-like existence.

The problem with this kind of viewpoint is that it ignores the realities of kids needing to learn how to deal with life as it's handed out to them. A kid in a large family is going to confront friction, arguments, fistfights and sibling rivalry. They have to learn how to handle it, just as they really have to learn their own way through the treachery of school yard bullies and those teachers who have their own agendas. If we spend all our time laying down cotton wool for kids to walk on, when they finally leave the nest they will have no idea how to function in the real world where people yell, sometimes push back, and will often fire you without considering the damage it might do to your psyche.

If you have ever watched a chick struggling to hatch, you know how hard it is to watch and do nothing, and how hard it is for the chick to hatch. But if you help it along, by making the hole a bit wider, easing the path, what you end up with is a worthless and damaged chick, unable to walk, fly, or breathe. This is what we are doing to kids, by denying them the chance to fight their own battles. Too many adults remember their own childhoods as being nightmares (and often rightly so), and want more for their own kids. But to make it too easy harms them later on, because they have no inner walls built up to support themselves.

Nearly every creative person I have ever met, with few exceptions, has had a 'difficult' childhood in one way or another. they have had to confront those walls on a constant basis, and learn their way around, or over, or through them. And we look back and shake our heads at what this one or that one endured, and say, it's a wonder he or she became what she did.

Actually, I think the struggle made the person what they became.