Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Red Tailed Hawk

He lives here, somewhere in the neighboring forest.  This was about 30 feet away in the pear tree. That close, he looks a LOT bigger than he did...he's back to, looking over his shoulder but you can see the beak and the mottled wings.  The bird guide says they will take housecats, which I doubted until I saw the size of him. Not that heavy, barely a pound of bird there, but not much would stand a chance with those talons and that beak.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The days are getting longer every day

sunrise and sunset are beginning to suprise me again

oh look, she says, it's 5 PM and the sun hasn't quite set yet

When it comes to longer days, there's a lot to be said for short term memory.  You're always surprised at something that happens every damn year.  Aint it grand.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Paper vs. Plastic Thursday 13

New Thursday 13

1)Tried to connect with our local phone company about a simple question, and I was told online that if I wanted the answer I'd have to join the online happy family of phone users.  And if I did that our paper copy would no longer be coming in the mail, and all of our business would be done over the computer.   Not a chance.

It does seem a very large step to take,  just to ask a simple question about a bill item.

2) There was a time when your doctor's office would call to remind you personally about an upcoming visit.  Now we are barraged with automated swoopy voice reminders that end with "press one for yes and press two for no".  I think it's those strange robotic voices patched together that does it.  It's very creepy, like an out-of-sync  Greek Chorus. 

3) And after the visit (they only remind  you three times, isn't that nice) they auto dial you again to THANK you for coming and would you mind taking our quick online survey?  Yes, I would mind. click.

4)Annnd two days later they call again to remind you that your next appointment will be in six months...

5) They now call around 5 PM to thank us for visiting their office, and remind us that they are there for us.

6)They call three days ahead of our appointments, to remind  us that they will be calling us in three days to remind  us...most of this, understand, is robotic, so that you don't dare  hang up because you might miss something REALLY important.  And sure enough, just as you're settling in to supper, the office calls you to remind you that your appointment is tomorrow, etc etc...and if you do hang up they will call you back so that you can press 2 to end this call.

7) Every doctor's office now has a "portal" that you sign into, with your terribly seekrit password,  so you can have  a secure way to view your records.  If only it worked.  They still send you your records through the mail, but I suppose this is a way of ensuring that no one, including you, will be able to access all those records.

8) We share a physician.  We each have a portal to his office. However, only one of us can use it, since we also share an email address, and that isn't allowed.  Sigh.  I suppose it would be even more impressive if it worked at all.

9) The pharmacy also has a Fake Cheery Voice that reminds you that your prescription is ready, but when you rush down to pick it up you get that fisheye look and they say, um, not for a week.

10) My husband  had to go into the hospital a while back for a possible problem that he didn't have, and the day after he got home they called to remind him to take his meds and that he had an appt. in a month to see the attending physician.  Which he did not have, nor did he have medication to take.

11) They called him again later to suggest he might like to MAKE an appointment and he said, probably not. It's a nearly two hour drive. I don't THINK so.

 12) The dentist's office sends an email to me after every visit, asking if I'd like to take the survey. Not really.  If you ignore it, they send it again, until you do answer it. They really really want to know.

13).  Doctors now have begun massing together in 'doctor's parks' which resemble a warren of badly laid out low income housing.  Sometimes ten or more doctors, each in their own separate building,  spread out over several acres and unmarked driveways that lead to other driveways.  There is, however, only one way in, or out.

I realize that a lot of this is age-related and they want to make sure the old and fuddly don't end up drinking the bathsalts instead of their meds, but still...

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

you can't make this stuff up

When we first moved up here we rapidly acquired a truck, a dog, and a trailer. Eventually the trailer got left behind when we moved into the house.  I taught myself to drive the truck, and eventually his 1968 Pontiac.  The driver's license came much later.

The dog developed an understandable terror (having been nearly struck once) of thunderstorms, and would spend the entire storm  trying to dig  his way into the fireplace, to a Safe Place.  I discovered that the one thing that would calm him was to go for rides during storms.  As long as the wheels were turning, he was a happy dog.

One very hot July night I woke to the sound of distant thunder. Oh, oh, I thought, and there, at 2 AM, was Ralph the dog huddled in the fireplace, trying to escape.  Without thinking I grabbed the dog, and the car keys, and got him safely in the car.  Off we went, on all the back roads, up the Cook Road, down the Berry road, across the Peacham road, for nearly an hour. As long as the car moved, he was cool.

As a kind of shortcut home, I decided to take us down the state  highway and then back to the house. Short and dirty.  It is now 3 AM.  I looked at the gas gauge, and it read  Empty. Oh, dear. Then I realized several things simultaneously. I am wearing only a baby doll nightie. I am barefoot.  I have no purse, no driver's license.  No money. It is 3 AM.  And the dog in the car, who is the kind of dog who guards his home away from home by snarling and snapping at anyone who so much as touches the fender   And my husband, who in those days slept like a drugged monkey,  had no idea I was gone.

It was a solid  8 mile drive, uphill, most of the way.  I kept having visions of that nice state trooper asking me to please step out of the car and Ralph snapping and snarling...and I still go cold over that one...we made it home, the gas gauge on just as empty as it gets, we got  back in the house, and I slid into bed.  The next morning I told him what had happened.    Bless him, all he said was, you were wearing WHAT?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


He picked up the mail on his way back from the beach.  Even at 78 he was still a good looking,  comfortable seeming man.  Women liked to look at him, wrinkles and all, which amused him no end.
As he strolled, he opened two bills and a letter from home, from a cousin he still kept in touch with. The Baileys tended to keep track of each other, it was a large family, and the web reached into four countries and two continents.

She wrote, 'don't know if you've heard it yet, but Tura died last week. We tried to reach you but I guess you were off somewhere.  Not sure how much it matters, it's been, what, 23 years?  But you needed to know, anyway.  She didn't suffer, it was quick, thank the lord.   She's in EastWood, buried next to the boys and your folks.  I enclosed the obituary,  in case you want to keep it, or check it for errors. .."

There was more, but he put it all back in the envelope while he unlocked the door into the coolness of a California air conditioned house, shuttered against the sun, the faint whir of the fans.

Later, after a drink and supper he went for a walk across the complex, waved to a few people he knew, changed his mind about visiting Reno's Bar, came home again.  At midnight he finally realized he couldnt put it off any longer, and shut out the light for sleep.  He knew he'd dream, not all of it good, not all of it bad.  This time, however, he waited for the dream to tell  him how he felt inside.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Winter Blues

The last time I had bronchitis was 22 years ago, when I dragged myself into a walk in clinic, at 9 pm.  I was so sick I didn't even want a cigarette. The nurse said, 'take a deep breath" and the best i could do was a little squeaky thing.  "erk".   "Wait right here," she said, and came back with three prescriptions.

Walking pneumonia, she said. Go home,  stop smoking.  Never had another cigarette, but I spent the next month sleeping at the kitchen table, tending the stoves (not much changes),  and reading.  And learning to not smoke.

This time another new walk in clinic,  and three prescriptions (not much changes)  and this time I managed to give this to my husband too (generous woman that I am) and  I am exploring the mysteries of inhalers and such.  We may live.

I'm not sure if being surrounded by children for six hours on Christmas Day is worth the fallout.

However, I have progressed from sleeping 18 hours a day to sleeping 4 or 5.  The stoves are happy to see me, and I no longer feel as if Im wearing earplugs. Nor do my ears shriek when I cough.  Life, if not perfect, is getting better.

And the days, they're getting longer all the time.  There is that.

So much for Driver's Ed

This is just chilling, when you really think about the possibilities:

Driverless cars

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Nap time on a cold winter's day

It's been that kind of week...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thursday 13 in memory of Sue Grafton

Z is for the title she never got to

  1. Zero
  2. Zymurgy
  3. Zither
  4. Zephyr
  5. Zenana
  6. Zipper
  7. Zigzag
  8. Zloty
  9. Zoo
  10. Zebra
  11. Ziggurat
  12. Zanzibar
  13. Zarathustra

Monday, January 1, 2018

Sometimes it's not the destination, but the journey

If you love/enjoy what you do,  someone, somewhere, will invariably comment, "I admire your enthusiasm, but I'll never understand what you see in...(insert appropriate enthusiasm/madness)"

For some, it's hiking. Not just the easy lopey striding stroll in the woods, nope, it's UP the mountain and DOWN the damn mountain, and invariably there's a place "I've always wanted to see" and getting there involves crampons and ropes...

For others, the lure of bicycling;  we have friends who  live on a reasonably distant and reasonably steep bit of land (not unlike ours) and once or twice  a year they like to drop in.  It's "only" 20 miles, and half of that each way is uphill.

We won't even go into the Mt. Everest folks.

Or the people who have followed the Appalachian Trail from Mt. Katahdin in Maine, to Georgia.  In one year.  2200 miles.

Farming.   It's utterly dependent on weather, insects, blights, and What To Do When the Cows Get into the Pole Beans...

For a few thick skinned people, it's the Polar Bear Club. Ambulances at the ready, they strip down, wave at the cameras, and plunge, howling, into the frigid January waters of coastal New England. The only thing that prevents ice from forming on the ocean here is the heavy surf and the high salt content. That, and people crashing into it in mid-January.

I was considering our own form of madness this morning at 3 AM, while I was goosing three stubborn woodstoves into  giving out more heat;  at -15 F outside, and it looks to be that for the next six years (oh where is global warming when you need it),  and a foot or more of frozen snow outside--and we have been doing this for 40+ years.  Add to that the ridiculous amount of work to get from tree to stove, one stick at a time.  All of it, because of a reward.  For us, it's being able to live here year round without depending on an oil truck and an oil burner (and the electricity) to make it all go.  And being reasonably self-sufficient, heat wise, to do that.  Quite frankly, you just do not get the intense satisfaction of cozying up to  baseboard heating on a chilly day.  It's just there.

And  beyond that, I suspect the same hidden drive that propels people onto rope bridges dangling over steep ravines, or bike tours from one side of the country to the other; or even stamp collectors, intent on collecting all the stamps issued for Bosnia Herzegovina.  Because we want to, because we can, because it gives us an incredible amount of personal satisfaction--not in the end game, necessarily, but in the trip to get there.