Monday, December 28, 2009
That, and the fact that any time you write a first person mystery there is a necessity for backstory, (or appears to be), partly to explain the references for new references, but it also is a neat way to pad the pages.
Maybe it's unavoidable, I dunno.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The clerks were angry, and sad. I am too.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
I suppose without the cell he'd have ended up at home eventually and told me about it, but there seems to be some kind of strange connection in my head with "have phone/need phone" at this point. In other words, the folks who Watch Us with great glee and sniggers wait for things like this, and then twist the dial a bit, just to make it more interesting. "After all", they reason, "he's got the phone..."
Saturday, December 5, 2009
But he has gotten wistful, saying he'd like to go but he knows I don't. With a cell phone, he can go without feeling uncomfortable about being out there alone, and if he gets in trouble he can call for help. And I won't have the guilts about any of it.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
When I drove up into the yard this afternoon there they were, chowing down not ten feet from the car, never even looked up. I got out, slammed the door, one of them looked up for a minute and then went back to eating. I suspect if I offered them grain out of a pail they'd mob me.
I think turkey season is over, so basically what we're getting is free meals for the coyotes, at least the ones who don't mind talon marks and being beaten to a froth by enraged turkeys...
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
And the realization that the days, as always, have been getting shorter since last June, but we had the good weather and warmth to balance that. It didnt really start to show until late October, and then the yearly axe came down with the end of daylight savings time.
However. The winter solstice is only a month away, and then, by golly, the days begin to get a bit longer every day. In the middle of January with blizzards and ice storms and gharstly cold weather, you can say, yes, but the days are getting longer. There is that.
We have begun the search for the next kitchen stove. It's amazing how many wood stoves are out there, and how strangely delicate they all are. Glass fronts, ceramic plates that need to be protected from damage inside, fireboxes with grates that barely function, and while most of the stoves look very nice, with lovely soap stone surfaces or really chichi designs, I look at them and think, these are "company" stoves. "We're having the Hendersons over tomorrow night, it would be nice if we had the stove going. It creates such a lovely ambience"...
But, then, we have till next summer to find one. This is not the time of year to break in a new stove, heck, it's not even the time of year to have one delivered.
Monday, November 23, 2009
When startled they would launch into what I think of as synchronized running, much like swimmers indulge in, in the Olympics, but so perfectly in sync you have to realize at last how locked into the larger Brain these birds really are. Like starlings, all wheeling at once, turkeys follow each other in perfect step. Fascinating to watch.
But now that turkey season is upon us, I no longer see them. Now and then you will hear something that sounds a lot like a howitzer going off, here and there along the road below us, or deep in the woods. Ive not seen either of them for about two days, and this after a steady stream of visits for five months. Yes, they were just turkeys, but they were familiar. I miss them.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Some of my usual go-to places, I was told, were outside the limits of what MSN perceives to be 'secure sites' (you can almost see the frowny face) and to that end I had to do some relatively fancy scrambling to find the passwords that are automatically allowed. All my passwords had been erased, and I suspect will not be allowed until I carefully re-add them.
The font size in the dropdown address bar is now about a pt. 2 or 3, almost impossible to read without squints or glasses.
But the most annoying feature of all, is when I go to ask someone online for help, their only comment is, "get firefox". (I'm behaving. Im not being snarky.) But I will admit I typed in several responses to this kind of comment, and erased them very fast before I could get to the 'post" button. One of my unposted comments was, 'if I wanted firefox, I'd HAVE firefox." In a way it's like buying a new car, and commenting to a neighbor that you really didnt want A/C and his comment is, "you should get rid of that and get a Subaru"...
I'll survive, and realize that a great deal of this whinging is just that, the Luddite in me dislikes changes, even when they're necessary, and the whining and pot cover banging is mostly my way of dealing with it.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Today was the second day of cleaning out the dining room chimney, which has needed doing for about five years. It's a bitch to clean with brushes, since part way up the flu shrinks down, for some reason, to about 75% full size, and it's a bear to get a full sized brush into it unless you're lucky and determined. This time the chimney won. I got what I could, but it took two days to get to that point, and tomorrow we have the dubious pleasure of sliding the stove back into position. I can handle the kitchen flu alone, and will start on that in the morning, and finally by tomorrow night all the adjusting and fussing and whining will be over. For awhile.
We've been lucky this week, Indian summer has come early and lingered just long enough to bring in wood from the outside rather than pulling from the shed wood, and just long enough to allow the stoves to be out most of the day for cleaning. Im just glad to get that first one done...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I have since bought the book at a much lower price, and it has been sitting on my stash shelf for several years. yesterday I took it down, resolved to finally see what all the shouting was about.
I got about a quarter of the way through before I realized that either he had failed to make me care about these people--or reading about Miles Roby and the assorted loons in Empire Falls was so well done, and the characters so finely and truly constructed, it was like reading about people I knew, grew up with, and was less than impressed with the lot of them. For me they are not the exotic species they might be to someone from, say, Duluth, or East Texas. In much the same way that the Beans of Egypt Maine weren't necessarily interesting, just sad and way too locally recognizable.
There is something about reading of the shenanigans of people so sharply familiar, that any humor there might actually be in all of it gets washed out by a faint embarrassment that you do indeed KNOW people like this, and they ain't funny a-tall. At least when you're standing that close to them. When you start picking apart the foibles of the neighbors, that's one thing. It's done with people who already know the outlines, you just fill in the details of what Susy Mae is up to THIS time...
I kept reading, and reading, looking for the funny bits, and then understood that if the funny bits were there, they were subtle, and it took Mr. Russo's masterful reading to bring them out.
I am also working my way through another Doris Lessing novel, "Summer Before the Dark" and it seems that Ms. Lessing is about to have her heroine overthink herself right into madness. It does seem that the heroines do that a lot in her books, just think things to death. Nothing comes easily for them, and if it seems to, they have to examine it under a microscope until the wings fall off. Classics, I keep telling myself. These are classics. Must Read Classics now and then. As a reward, I promise myself the next Robert Parker novel, or Sue Grafton, or the entire sweeep of Terry Pratchett, from one end of his series to the other.
It has no "linen' setting, and no 'cotton' setting. Apparently folks at B&D are afraid someone might burn themselves. It's an IRON, people. The box is covered with warnings about it, including, 'do not submerge in water" and "iron is hot when turned on". (good to know these things).
Also on the box, I found out, is a small nearly invisible sticker, that says, "discontinued model". No wonder it was only $13, marked down from lord alone knows how much.
My hair dryer is so loud it could cause deafness, and barely functions as a heat delivering item. "do not use while sleeping', the instructions caution. "do not immerse". who ARE these people, that regularly give their electrical appliance baths?
The toaster we now have is so slow (one of those heat sensor things) that you can make coffee and be working on a second cup by the time the toast hurls itself out of the toaster. The highest setting barely browns a muffin. "Product will be hot when turned on (well, arent we all)." "Do not allow children to operate this item" and "do not immerse in water". (my mother's old toaster would give you a seriously browned piece of toast, and if you were fool hardy enough to try for the high setting you could make charcoal briquettes. and it had the most wonderful tick-tick-tick that let you time your trip around the kitchen; the closer it got to Toast Time the faster the tick. She gave it to me, finally, and I got about three years out of it before the Tick turned to Smoke. ) Newer toasters just let you wonder how done they are, and just as you lean over the toaster to see, up it pops, scaring the hell out of you and any cat in the area.
My new curling iron, when I plug it in, flips the breaker switch on the bathroom plug. "do not immerse in water". "do not use while sleeping, or while in the tub". Or possibly during nap time IN the tub...
Monday, November 9, 2009
Food I can deal with, since I can eat at almost any hour, with no real problems. But the dark this early seems to make the evening slope along like a kid who doesnt want to come in yet at sunset. The hours from 7-9 at night are endless.
I just wish they'd leave it all alone, put us on summer time and be done with it.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
At 5 AM sharp I heard the town clock (equally five miles away) chime out the hour. This is not something i've ever heard at any hour from here, but thanks to a gentle east wind, it was clear, distant, but not at all faint. The town clock, still operated by levers and gears and a great deal of personal attention, still keeps whacking good time.
And now its snowing, a steady, damp, large-flaked snow, drifting down, sometimes rain, sometimes not.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
He also has a Christmas album out, the proceeds of which are going to charity. It's funny, a bit flaky, but the first chrismas album I have ever, ever, bought.
and that got me to thinking about performers and writers who are still producing, singing, writing, well into their 70s and 80s, and still kicking butt. All of them have one thing in common; they are not only dynamite performers, they are also flexible and creative enough to keep changing, morphing, reinventing what they do. They take chances. Every book of W.S. Merwin's is different from the last, both in style and language. The only thing that never changes is his punctuation. Paul Simon is still creating new stuff, (which bodes well for the future) Leonard Cohen, the same.
Ray Bradbury has been writing the same story for ten years, and that's sad. Billy Collins seems to be going the same way, writing "billy collins poems" which no longer invent, they recreate.
It's as if they ran out of gas somewhere along the way, or got scared to take that last step up to the next level. Maybe the rep gets bigger than the talent, and they're afraid of losing that by taking the chance that might hurt the reputation if not the writer. Dunno.
Monday, October 19, 2009
In all of this I will apparently have no contact with anyone involved for any reason at all until they call me, and no contact whatsoever with anyone physically until the driveby surgery, where the Gastro guy comes by says hi, I'm your surgeon, and twenty minutes later Im wheeled out of the operating room, jiggled awake, bundled into the car, and sent home. This is not what I call a fuzzy warm moment.
I had a regular physician type doctor for ten years or more, never met him. I did all my doctor stuff with his PA, and she has been around for so long on many papers she is referred to as MD. Two years ago the doctor I have never met left the practice, (I found out through a third party), and a new doctor has taken his place. I still havent met him, and I still work with the same PA.
At least I see the dentist face to face.
When did doctors start doing this? Im not sure I like it, but it does pave the way for robotics in the future, when you never seen any live folks at all, just robotic arms and scalpels and hypodermics. Press one for yes and two for no. Leave your name, number and DOB at the sound of the beep and one of our AI assistants will contact you.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
However, WFF and I have been having a running battle over what zone Im in. They live in what is, to me, a relatively warm climate in Connecticut, the lower end of zone 5. We live in what is designated on zone maps as the upper end of zone 5. Now the problem comes because we also live 1100 feet above sea level, and that flings us right into a pretty good imitation of zone 4.
I dutifully scratch out Zone 5 on the order blank, and write in 4. They cheerfully inform me that they have my order, and my plants will arrive in plenty of time to plant before the frosts set in. In Zone 5. I have planted bulbs in ground turning to permafrost, shrubs that had to sit in my front hall growing and sulking in early November because there is six inches of snow out there...they apologize, and send me new fall plants the next year as replacements. For zone 5.
The day before the first blizzard of the year.
Now I buy locally.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Breaking up the garden, digging out old, less than interesting flowers in favor of "let's try something new" gives you time to reflect, to think back a bit and forward a lot as to what you'd like to see there. I've been rooting out the 6 foot high African daisies that have taken over half of my long garden, one clump at a time, to the detriment of anything that tries to compete.
I wanted a place to plant potatoes next year, and have planned on a temporary raised bed of old compost there, since they did so well where I had them, in just that kind of soil. But potatoes are hungry beasts, and you have to keep moving them around, to keep them happy. The local wisdom says, 'new ground', and the gardener's best friend, the feed and grain store, says, sulfur powder. Seems to work. And while the ground rests from twenty years of African daisies, i can give some thought as to what I want in there year after next.
We do always seem, as gardeners, to be looking a season ahead, a year ahead, and sometimes, wiht biennials, two years foward. Next year, we say, we'll plant day lilies between those stones, a kind of rock garden. Or maybe something low growing and spreading. And there's no hurry, you have all winter to change your mind. And of course by spring, while you dig for the summer garden, you're planning for next fall, and thinking about the wood you'll need to get in, and where you will put the bulbs next fall when you have to divide them.
I guess we never live in the season we live through.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I'm pleased that I read it, but I will probably not be digging into it again any time soon. Some books are like that.
Time to strap on the camera and heavy jacket and go for a walk in what's left of the good weather.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
This last month I gave up my place in the game, having realized that for me, for now, it's just not what I want to do. Maybe a few months into winter, or next spring, it will seem new again, but just now I wanted to try something else.
and true to their policies, the Blizzard people let you step out of the contract but not out of the game. They keep your characters and levels intact, and if you want to come back later, well, they will be delighted to see you.
They play fair with their customers, on screen and off, and it shows.
It's been a part of my online life for a very long time, as these things go, and I miss it.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Started Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Love in the Time of Cholera, but it seems (or I do, at any rate) to be descending into a place where I have difficulty following, or comprehending. I understand the mindset of the South American culture is very different from ours, and that may be part of the problem. I'll soldier on a bit longer, this may just be a slow place in a good book.
Not all books are good, not all good books are good for the same reasons, or for the same people, and what one person raves about, someone else will hurl across the room, half finished.
One reason I hesitate to loan books or recommend them if somebody else has to spend money on an unknown quantity.
And a nice day, the ash trees are turning that bronze/purple color, and the rock maples in the front yard have started their color shift from top to bottom. Tis time, I believe.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The other disappointment was A Canticle for Leibowitz, which was written in 1959 and is considered a classic science fiction novel. At the time people were concerned about 'the bomb' and were building bomb shelters and considering the moral and ethical points of who to let in, who to keep out, all of that. This was gripping reading back then, and I can understand why. But now it's just, for me, anyway, old history that never happened, and overdone around the edges as well. I got through one chapter and gave up. Sadly. It's been sitting on my stash shelf for years, and now it will probably go to someone who will enjoy it more than I did.
It's like finding out your long awaited trip to a place you always wanted to see involves too many poisonous insects, the shots give you a rash and a blinding headache, and the scenery you wanted to explore is closed for the next six months because of renovations.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I think most beginning writers go through this, having discovered that their fingertips are the most fascinating part of them (not unlike the way babies discover the world they belong to starting with ME and moving outward from there.) and there has to be certain period where they work out the rough spots. Now and then I take pity on one of them and while not directly critiquing the poem suggest that they might want to consider rewording some of the more angst-laden bits, cut down on the weeping eyes and rent flesh. Now and then they get it immediately, and return a draft that while not perfect, shows improvement.
All too frequently, however, all they want is praise for what they did and have no intention of reworking anything. I'm fairly wary of 'rough drafts' but now and then, as I did yesterday, I took a leap. Her friends came in and told her, basically, the poem was perfect as it was and they LOVED the way the inverted language sounded, don't change a thing, they said.
She hasn't been heard from since. Either she is somewhere hunched over her draft writing, writing, or she has moved on to Facebook.
'rough draft' is a two edged sword. Either the writer is so enamored of this thing that he's afraid to say it's finished and hopes no one will make him work on the masterpiece, or he's too lazy to
actually do the work himself. He wants us to rewrite his entire poem, line by line, and then takes credit for agreeing with us. In a way it's like teaching a kid to ride a bike by showing him a training film, or making him watch OTHER kids ride their bikes.
My own feeling is, if it's that rough a draft, clean it up, work on it, learn how to revise and not worry about "spoiling" it, and when you can't get any forrader alone, THEN you post it.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
it's clean looking, no nine gazillion google ads, your preferences are duly noted, and it seems to work as well as Google. It also lists your most recent seach history right on the side of the box, which my or may not be optional, but it's nice if you have a particular place you want to revisit but forgot to save the URL...
Google has now reached the stage where it's too big, too comprehensive, and too willing to second guess what you REALLY mean. It reminds me of someone who is always finishing your sentences for you. *g*
Friday, September 18, 2009
In the swamps, the maples bleed into the water, it seems, and its a warning that it's our turn next.
Over time I have heard every weatherman out there explain why the trees turn when they do. One will tell you they don't turn until the first hard frost, another will tell you it takes chilly nights and warm days (err, that's maple sugar time), another, it only happens when the average temps fall below 50 deg. during the day. My own theory is, they change color when they're ready. A hard frost seems to make no difference, dry summers or wet, cold nights or cold days--but, then, these are also the guys who start talking about "Indian Summer" on the first cold day of September, when in actuality and historically it's that balmy period right around Thanksgiving.
Ive been reading Maxine Kumin; House, Bridge, Fountain, Gate, and am struck by the differences between her and Jane Kenyon. Both write of rural stuff, but Kenyon is much more
"me" oriented, Kumin tends to make more outside, deeper connections to what she writes about. Of course, the only book of Jane Kenyon's i have read so far (to be fair) was something cobbled together 'by the estate of", which always seems to me to be more for the money than the memorial. And Maxine Kumin is a perfect poet to read as the weather changes, and you sit in the sun on the porch, and reflect.
Back to the wood pile. Wintah's comin' on.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
She also said that the surgery would be mostly to keep the eye from getting worse. No improvement in vision.
My biggest thought through all of this was, which two weeks would I be willing/able to give up, realizing this was not as big a deal to them as it was to me. Right now we are putting wood in the shed. That will take maybe another month. I still have the garden to dismantle. By the time the wood is in the shed I will have to clean two chimneys, and then we'll be burning wood on a regular basis, lotta lugging and clanking, there. By my reckoning, maybe I could fit this all in by July of 2115...
The doctor said, actually, unless you insist on it, there really isnt much point to the surgery at all, not after all this time. I agreed.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Wednesday my mother-in-law called and said, this year for your birthday why don't I get the whole meal at KFC and bring it over, and we can have a picnic? I've never had KFC in any form, and always had the feeling it would be right up there with the old Swanson Mystery Chicken TV Dinners from the early 50s, but oh boy was I wrong. Yesterday she brought chicken, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, and we just plowed our way through the whole thing.
The picnic had to be moved indoors because 58 deg. is really too cold for picnics, but the kitchen table worked just fine...
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
From there we went north to the Flume Gorge, which I havent seen since I was a kid. Damned impressive, and not a bad walk at all.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
This is boring. And I keep reading, suddenly stunned by something that really has no words to express it-- a link, a connection, the way the words fit together, the spirit, perhaps,
of the writer that lingers in the poem--
Someone writes a simple, 12 line poem about snow, and I can see that snow, feel it, Im in the middle of all of it. I read a poem about walking across a yard in early spring, and there is the yard, that feeling of damp, the smell of soggy hay, of mud, of a much too warm south wind blowing at me--and I think, what just happened here? It has to be more than just the words on the page, more than the fact of celebrity, or skill with words; hell, im a poet myself, and I can't understand it, even though now and then I find myself reaching that same place in something I write, something that resonates for someone else.
In some way the writer enters his own poem, and leaves bits of himself in there for the rest of us to find.
Ted Kooser, thank you. Jane Kenyon, thank you.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Also stopped off at the Best Buy and recycled an old dot matrix printer; I recently found out that all the BB stores will take electronics, from TVs to printers, mouses and keyboards, and my little recycled soul wept with joy at that. All in all a satisfying, if expensive, night out...
Friday, September 4, 2009
our old life to still be there
waiting for us just the way we left it.
Mother on the front porch reading,
Daddy asleep in his chair
by the fireplace.
The old dog thumps his tail in greeting,
even though reason insists
that no dog could live forty years,
even for you; all your friends
where you left them, at street corners
and in doorways, leaning against cars
and motorcycles; nearly grown, waving hello
and goodbye as you drive past: Tommy
alive and sporting that new beard,
Ruthann still slim and waif-like--
Armena with a bright new diamond on her finger.
As they were, uncluttered, unfettered by change,
as you were, for a little while.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
and figured it was time she remembered how to do this thing.
she bought paper, an ink pen, and a stamp. The least i could do was send her one back. I had the pen, but had to scramble for paper, and luckily had a few stamps on hand. It was interesting, seeing as how it's been nearly ten years since I sat down and actually wrote a real letter--date, salutation, the whole bit.
I was a bit nervous, not sure if i could actually form complete sentences and write at the same time (you laugh, ha ha, try it, it's not as easy as it once was), and make the lines even. It was like being nine years old again, writing to my best friend.
I am ridiculously proud of re-finding a skill I thought had been lost to the computer...
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The mister spent yesterday and Thursday mowing, getting ready for one of our neighbors to come take the hay for his horses. It was a close thing, (it always is), but they got it baled and we helped load it on the trailer, got done just around 5 pm. Im always glad when this is done with for the year, and this is one of the major reasons I never wanted to get into farming. Weather plays such a huge part of it, and you are always haying with one eye on the clouds, racing whatever is up there heading your way.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
the tomatoes are a volunteer that simply took over, and it has at least a dozen small fruits--the potatoes I dug this morning because the leaves were looking less than healthy, and came up with 25 pounds--the man who sold me the sets said they should yield 10 to 1, pound-wise. I bought two pounds , and have already exceeded the limit. One more box to dig. if the others pan out as well, I may get a 15 to 1 yield...
Friday, August 21, 2009
Three days later what i thought was the floater descended, and in three days more the eye had become a grey haze, utterly distorted. Wow, I thought, this is a mess. But I never went back. partly because I figgered he'd tell me it was there, and to get used to it. Partly because I wanted to see how this thing was going to play out, too. The distortion was incredible, and over time the eye became darker and dimmer. I could see in natural sunlight, but aritificial light was worthless.
Today I had an appointment at his office, and it turns out that two years ago they had not told me that what often follows a major floater like that was a detached retina (which is why I went in the first time around). The doctors at that point discussed it without me being present, but all I was told was to go home and get used to the floater. (This is why today, two years later, I exercised my privileges as a 63 year old woman, and suggested gently that the next time something like this happens to someone, to TELL them what to look for so that they have full knowledge to work with. I called it a learning experience and I suspect he'll get the message. )
And I found out today I did indeed have a detached retina. Those are supposed to be treated very quickly to keep them from getting worse. Not knowing I had one, meant two years have gone by. Im going to see a retina specialist in September, since they said I do have some vision left (oh joy in the morning) in that eye, even though there's not a lot of hope for repairs at this point.
I do wish doctors would learn to trust their patients' intelligence and ability to handle stuff, rather than playing god and making pronouncements from on high--while you nod and smile and go off into the world not realizing you have an aneurysm, or a detached this, or a fibrillated that, waiting to change your life. Oh, they say, when you end up in the hospital, I was afraid this might happen. We didnt tell you because we weren't sure, and didn't want to alarm you...
Thursday, August 20, 2009
And yet the plant out there right now, a volunteer, doesnt know all that. It's like a cat we had once who didnt know he was a stray, and moved in one night just like he lived here. The plant is now five feet high and taking over the space alloted, plus a few feet more in all directions. It has at least a dozen fair sized green tomatoes, and if the frost holds off another month, I just might get a few fresh ones. (don't tell anyone)
I bought four bell pepper plants last spring. They are all doing remarkably well, except for one which didnt want to be a green pepper, and has decided to be a banana pepper instead. Hey, im flexible.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
identifying clue as to what those birds, fish, insects, ARE. no names.
I found an image in one of those groupings that was a mate to an insect I had taken a shot of, here in the yard. Utterly useless, except to tell me that I don't have a rarely seen bug. I was so annoyed by this, I actually wrote to the guy and suggested maybe a bit of research would be nice--if you're going to bother to take the picture, you should take that extra step and find out what it is. He said he knew a lot of them, but never got around to putting up the actual names.
Yep, that's useful.
The other peeve I have about photos is lifting stuff from the net with no acknowledgement or identifying clues, just because you 'like the photo'. At least identify what it is, or who it is, when you post it, if it's got markers.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In August I am sharply reminded that even though the garden is still showing off, the goldenrod is beginning to bloom, and the milkweeds are forming their fall seed pouches. It's half way to September, and except for a few crows and jays and the woodthrush, bird song has just about stopped. No more mating serenades, no more territorial warnings. Some of the swallows have already gathered and left, without much fanfare, off to the wilds of Tierra del Fuego for the winter.
In a week or two the sparrows and warblers will start packing it in for the summer, too, and there will be clouds of them out there, ferreting out every seed and insect they can find. It's a wonder they can even lift off after all of that *g*
But the crickets, now. We still have them, and that's not so bad, after all.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I did the math on this once, and it turns out that to amortize your expenses you would have to own that car for ten years. and if you figure in how steep car payments are these days, make that twenty years, since the interest rates on an auto loan usually double the original cost of a car by the time you're paid it off.
In addition, the batteries are brutally expensive, and need to be replaced every three or four years. I found out today that what is IN those batteries comes from an open pit mine in canada, and is truly toxic stuff. Sounds better and better, don't it.
but we can fire up our hybrid cars, ignore the whirring of the electric meter, and feel good about saving the planet. god bless america.
it's all well and good to be careful, but caution does need to be tempered with common sense. In this instance I think stupidity won out. And all she had to do was LOOK at him to see he had met and passed the legal drinking ago decades ago...what makes this even more bizarre is that a year ago he was carded for the same offense in another store. sigh.
In the supermarket today I actually focused on the cigarette display, which these days is not a wealth of various brands and styles, lining the checkout counter aisle, but a locked and god help us chain-padlocked display behind heavy glass. It looks eminently unbreakable. I suppose at $6+ a pack they would want to keep those valuable little containers safely tucked away, but there's something slightly chilling about such extreme measures--and then you realize that a child seen holding an unopened pack, or even an unlit cigarette, can be arrested--and then you think, if they're that dangerous (which in a way they are) why are they even sold at ALL?
If Uncle Sam could find a way to legalize for profit cocaine, heroine, and marijuana, you can be sure it would be done. The only reason cigarettes are even sold at all is because the government gets a great deal of money out of the process.
and last week on a heavily traveled two way highway I saw a young woman in the breakdown lane, roller blading. Cell phone glued in place. it would have been okay, but the breakdown lane there is fairly narrow, so every left footed stroke carried her over the white line and into the traffic coming up behind her. Everyone had to swerve to miss her, and that meant oncoming cars had to swerve as well, to keep from hitting the cars that were... well, you get the effect--I cannot tell you how much I wanted to ease her back off the road with the passenger side of my car...really really wanted to. So I laid on the horn, just for something to do, and she turned to look at me with this blank expression that had "whatEVER" written all over it, the facial equivalent of the finger. One of the very few times I have EVER wanted a cell phone, *g*
There seems to be a certain level of entitlement with people like that, they really dont give a rip about the people they're endangering, or discommoding. And if she did manage to zig into another car's zag, it would immediately be his fault, not hers.
I really really wanted to. oh yeah.
Monday, August 10, 2009
You and your friends can tell each other the same old jokes as if they were new, and everyone laughs as if they never heard it before, probably because they have no memory of having told it to YOU three days ago.
Books read years ago, so long ago that the plot resolution is a gentle surprise, are always fun. What isn't, is realizing your favorite books are now the books of a much younger person, and no longer even readable.
You can be cranky, and its 'cute'. You can actually think, if not say, "now see here, young lady", and know that in five years or so you can say it too.
You don't have to keep up with new technology. And if you do, people are startled, which is always fun.
The day I realized I was older than most if not all of the doctors, dentists, and policemen, I stopped being nervous about any of them. We are now eye to eye.
Younger waitresses are often so unsure of how close you are to Senior Discount time and so nervous about insulting you, they often give you the discount anyway. I LIKE that one.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Then I remembered that skunks are prodigious diggers, and they love japanese beetle grubs. A little online checking, and that's it. They also apparently like carrot tops, but only the sturdiest ones--it does no harm to the carrot, only to the greenery.
Between the skunks above ground and the moles below ground this place is going to resemble a miniature meteor strike zone. But no grubs.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
We run a sincere butterfly patch here, and it's nice to know at least one will get to enjoy it this year, for however briefly...
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Peppers prefer one over the other, and usually good leaves and tall vigorous plants mean a really good harvest of leaves but not much else.
And today I decided to pull up one of the sadder looking potato vines just to see what kind of progress was being made. and up came one very small potato and one apple sized potato. this being the end of July, i would say with luck I might get a fair yield out of what I planted.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
aha, I thought, you don't suppose beebalm cross pollinates? I know daylilies do, and columbine, which is why I now have dark purple, white, and a muddy pale lavender columbine mix...and sure enough, one online flower site said that beebalm "cross pollinates like horny bunny rabbits".
Pulled our first carrots yesterday; it was a huge relief to find that there really were carrots down there, and not the dreaded orange strings I half expected. The radishes went that way, due, I think, to lack of sunlight on the leaves, and that made me fear for the potatoes and carrots as well. Raised beds for root crops is the way to go, you betcha. In this ghastly New England hardpan/stone mix, a nice six inch deep former compost bin produces amazing veggies.
The potatoes seem to be almost totally insect free (cold summers are not a bad thing, sometimes), and yesterday the first pair of Japanese beetles appeared. I shouted at them, and flung them to the ground.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
happiness is knowing no one else will eat your favorite food because noone else likes it.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Today the new one proclaims, "IF YOU DO RIGHT
YOU CAN NEVER DO WRONG"
which gave me something to think about for quite some time--it bothered me, at some level, and then I realized why. Who decides what 'right' is? Equally important, who decides what "wrong" is? Im sure all those good-hearted earnest missionaries at the turn of the last century believed to their very core that what they were doing in Africa, saving all those heathens from damnation by giving them smallpox and Jesus in equal measure, was 'right'. As one of them put it, "They may die, but at least they're going to their Maker."
Monday, July 13, 2009
This is how the train looks. Going up the mountain, the engine pushes. Its tilted to accomodate the steepness of the climb.
this is the path that goes over that far ridge and on up to the summit.
Almost back to the bottom again.
On the other hand, I got to see this (mystery) hawk...so I'd say we both enjoyed ourselves, and had stories to tell one another later. All in all, a pretty good trip.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
If you never look back to see where you came from, and what propelled you forward, how do you know where you are now? Of course, there is a fine line between people who dwell there, like cave creatures, barricaded from all personal progress, those who refuse to look back at all, (perhaps afraid of what they might find lurking), and people who see what was, and try to understand what happened then that makes now what it is.
I don't necessarily subscribe to reincarnation, an afterlife, or heavenly hosts. Much of that is talking into the dark to comfort us on the long nights. How much easier to believe in heaven than it is to know we only have one very short life and darkness afterwards. That, my dears, is truly terrifying.
But also, feeling that we truly only have one shot at all of this, I think it behooves me to do the best I can, leave as few bad footprints as possible, and realize that you do touch people along the way. Even people you might meet only a few times who remember you. Or you them. If this is all we have, we need to tread lightly.
Part of that light tread, at least for me, is being able to understand if not forgive what came before. If I can figure out What Happened and Why, then i have a measure of insight into my own reactions and behaviors now. Granted, poetry and writing makes a lot of insight possible, it tells me things I never knew I knew. But still, there is always more that surfaces like bubbles in a swamp, surprising the hell out of me.
That's when I go back to the mental photo album, and eventually find the section that explains much if not all. Not that it will matter much in the long run (which is getting shorter year by year), but it matters now, and to me.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
We don't always get what we want, and sometimes what we want is not what we should have, like the kid who wants to eat dessert instead of veggies all the time. But sometimes, like now, when the weather is cold and dreary and looks to be that way on into August, the mood dips a bit lower than usual and all those maybes and regrets start to surface.
"What would have happened if..." is a scary place to go, and I try not to go there more than I can help. But as an exercise in emotional logistics, it has a certain grim fascination. Whatever paths you take, no matter if you chose them or they were chosen for you, have no way back. The life lived is the life experienced, and you can only take one road.
Friday, July 3, 2009
at this point the only thing that binds us at all is shared music. Many kids listen to and really dig "grampy's music", and many older people can find something in newer stuff that appeals. However.
One of the biggest boons to connecting the generations that I can remember was the TV. Not because of the inane programming that gave us the Honeymooners and I Love Lucy, but the fact that TV was so new no one had anything to put there, so they plugged in an Afternoon Matinee and a Saturday Matinee and on Sunday you would get a classy movie on Hallmark Hall of Fame. no current ones, there was some sort of time differential there and the studios were reluctant to part with the good ones just yet. There were weeks when you could probably watch four movies a day and two at night. That is a LOT of movies, folks.
As a kid I watched any movie that was on TV--all the way from silent movies with Charlie Chaplin and Ben Turpin to Mae West seducing a very young Cary Grant to Hepburn and Tracy. Even something called "Hitler's Children" which was apparently about eugenics and quite chilling. What it gave me, and any other kid who watched these things, was a sense of what it was like before us. Oh, granted, prettied up or dramatized, but the clothes, the styles, the way the world looked, and mores and morality, even the way people talked, all sunk in. This was different, this was what it was like, and we understood that things change, and a lot of it was familiar on a personal basis because of our parents, grandparents, and even older sibs. The connections stay with you. Movies don't create stuff, they mirror it, and it's the small details that resonate.
We looked at the family photo albums, pictures of groups of women ('that's Aunt Alice and Aunt Sarah and I'm in the middle, didnt my hair look funny") that turned out to be your mother and her sisters, or a little boy who grew out of his knickers and leather cap, and is now Daddy. We sang songs that had been sung for lord knows how many generations, and all of these things connected us.
I saw an interesting ad not too long ago, suggesting that the family that uses electronic 'toys" is a close knit family. However, if you study the ad you will see that the boy is at the computer, daughter is texting someone, mom is on the cellphone, and daddy is watching TV. Being in the same room with three other people is NOT bonding, not if you are all doing something that requires your full attention elsewhere.
And where once your family included the very old and all the ages in between, sometimes right next door or across the street, now more often than not you grow up never having truly interacted with anyone over the age of, say, 35 or 40.
We've lost something important, and that's kinda sad.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
This is in response to Mike Snider's post, linked above. In it, he states that poets don't strive for the 'big poem' or the meaningful one any longer--and I think he has taken note of a very important trend, perhaps without realizing what he's seeing (although knowing Mike, he sees very clearly, sometimes); when a culture teeters on the edge of Being Over, as Im pretty sure this current Christian culture is, what goes first is the creative stuff--art, music, sculpture, poetry.
It's still produced, for a time, as good or better than anything that came before, but as Mike pointed out, after a certain time the creation slows and then stops, simply because the patronage has disappeared (as much as we dislike knowing that, it's a fact) and then the impetus to create dries up too. It becomes an "Oh what the hell" attitude, and we pass off what we do as modern art, language poetry, creative architecture, and dissonance. Put a large enough price tag on it,
and people will buy it. After all, it's art, right? It must be our fault if we don't see what the artist intended. Art with attitude, I guess you can call it. And artists of any stripe who work this way have a way of suggesting that it's you the viewer who is missing the point.
And it may be a two edged sword, here. Write the meaningful poem, the Big One, and it gets rejected by magazines who prefer something less deep, less Important. Or prefer Language over Coherence or Ordered thought.
Those of us who do care, who do strive to write an important poem (rhymed or unrhymed) about what matters, find it's a one way stream and we seem to be heading the wrong way
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Mother and child, they were so nosy about my car they nearly fell off the branch. One thing they like to do is swoop down over a car on the road, right in front of the windshield, and then swoop back up into a tree, like this. I think they see their reflection in the rear window or the roof, and take it to be another owl.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
He's fine; Isabel got over the shock by noon, and I doubt if he'll try that trick again. always best to be sure you know where the exits are, or even if there are any...
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
There is no mystical significance
to the longest day of the year
no one ever died because a meteor
streaked across the heavens
and a howling dog is just a dog
left out too long on a cold night.
Lightning can come without warning
from a cloudless sky, and has been known
to strike the same spot more than once.
And on those blue-sky days
as I watch the sun rise on one side
of the earth and the moon sink
beyond the trees on the other
it helps to remember this,
that perhaps the names I choose for things
are not always the names they should have
but I do the best I can
from this distorted window
through which I view the falling sky
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Years ago I read of a woman who had lost everything in a fire. Clothes, furniture, everything. She mentioned in an interview that she had also lost an expensive bottle of perfume that her husband gave her years before. She had never opened it, never used it. But, she said, as soon as she could, she was going out to replace that bottle with another just like it.
I thought, all those years that poor man was waiting for her to use the perfume, so he could enjoy it too, and she never would. She didnt want to waste it.
My dad would get a nice flannel shirt for Christmas; he'd hold it up and exclaim, "Now that's the kind of gift I like! That's a great shirt!" and two years later it would still be in his dresser drawer (along with all the others he was saving), waiting for "best", while he hung around the house in a ratty baggy old sweater. One Christmas my mother took one of his shirts, put it in a box, wrapped it, and gave it to him that morning. Yep. "Now that's the kind of gift I like! That's a great shirt!"
There are thousands of old ladies in this country with a drawer full of good nighties. What on god's green earth are they saving them for??
Which is why when I get a bottle of perfume it gets opened and worn. Which is why we have supper on the "good dishes" every night, and why when someone gives me something I wear it. Life is too short-- and sometimes if you don't do it now, you never get the chance.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
So. This year while we were in chain saw mode, I said, let's take down that huge ash, it's crowding out the apple trees, it drives me crazy trying to mow around it, and think the peonies don't like it there. He's a patient man, my husband, and quite forgiving of what Im sure he thinks are my weird notions, sometimes.
However. The peonies this year are no longer leaning away, they're growing nice and straight and tall without a hint of distress. Whatever works, and this seems to have done the trick. Go, Peonies.
Today I had determined to go shopping, intent on replacing all those jeans that overwinter have shrunk to unmanageable sizes. You know how that is...all that cold shrivels 'em right up, and I am down to one pair that seems to fit all the time, no matter what the scales say. But as I was cruising goodwill and the Salvation Army for replacements, I realized that I was doing this backwards. Instead of spending money to get bigger clothes to fit me NOW, why not just lose the damn weight back down to where the clothes I already have will fit again? It was so obvious, and so simple. And I think it was just enough to get that silly diet rolling again.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
They chain the buildings to the concrete, to keep them from blowing off in high winds. In some cases, with the taller structures, they use actual nautical chain that's used for huge anchors. It's very impressive.
Looking down over the edge, into the valley a mile below.
On the way home we stopped here, at Glen Ellis Falls--not as impressive, perhaps, as Arethusa, but the walk down in is even steps, and I managed the whole gig without whining. In itself, no mean feat.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I also object that I get to go.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I finally realized why. When I was in my late teens and between jobs, I volunteered to help my folks out by keeping up the house while they cut brush one fall. I so did not want to get into brush cutting-- it was a nightmare, for many reasons. Anyway. I cleaned, I cooked, I polished, took out the coal clinkers from the furnace, mowed the grass. Supper was waiting on the table when they came in.
One day in early fall I noticed that the marigolds my mother had tended all summer were blooming, and thought, wouldnt that be pretty, to have those on the table as a centerpiece. So I cut a few, and set them in the middle of the table. My dad walked in and said, oh don't those look NICE. My mother saw them and said, "what did you DO? Why did you cut those flowers? Now no one will have anything to look at when they go by the house."
I was stunned, and hurt. I also realized at that point that mother didn't do anything for her own pleasure, she only got pleasure from people telling her how pretty her dress was, how nice the house looked, how pretty the flowers out front looked. She only saw things through other people's opinions. The fact that a handful of marigolds had been cut and brought into the house meant that a handful of marigolds was hidden from the people who mattered. *g*
She asked me, more than once, why I bothered with a flower garden up here, since "no one can see you from the road". I said, "Mother, I can see it, and I'm the one I plant this for." I truly think she just didnt understand that point of view.
But it explains my own gentle reluctance to take shears in hand and cut flowers to enjoy inside.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The problem is, moles eat the beetle grubs, as do robins and other larger birds. Yummy snack foods. I dont know what eats the aphids. But as I am friends with the moles (they are nature's earth movers, much like earthworms, but on a greater scale), I hate to limit their supply of treats. They LOVE grubs. Someone said, get rid of the grubs, and you get rid of the moles. And if you lose the moles, the grubs come back, but maybe not the moles.
About 20 years ago there was a truly devastating visitation by gypsy moth caterpillars. You could hear the chewing, it was that bad. People went to pieces, to the point of nailing up collars on trees already infested with the caterpillars, which was silly, since once the worms hatched out they ate their way to the end of the branches, dropped to the ground, and wiggled away, ignoring the collars. In three or four years they bred themselves out of business and have become another unsightly but manageable bug.
This becomes one of those "money where your mouth is" deals; if I natter on about the balance of nature, then I have to live with what nature slings in my face. More or less. I did put out milky spore last year regardless of the directions on the back of the bag-- which had nothing to do with the directions on the front...again, what survives, survives, and that's sort of what it's about, isn't it. If you have a viciously expensive shrub that gets eaten by strange bugs the first year you put it out, then it wasnt such a good plant to start with. Predators usually go after the weak, the sick, and the already ailing plants, animals, and trees.
We strive for perfect lawns (don't get me started on that one), "wildlife management" which means guys who get to kill things legally, and pesticides that do more harm than good. All of these things upset that balance incredibly.
And I guess where I am now is aiming for that kind of balance, both outwardly and inwardly. Beyond a bit of mild tweaking, it feels right to just let most things work themselves out. I dont know if that translates as wisdom or laziness, but it works for me.
Monday, June 8, 2009
What is always an endless pleasure is the way the same plants keep doing the same thing every year, and still have the capacity to surprise the hell out of me. I discovered this year that russian sage (the vicks vapo rub plant) spreads, if you give it enough room and time. It is borderline invasive, but it also means I can spread the joy to all my friends, six plants at a time *g*. And every year as I weed and mulch I find new surprises--often it's something I planted last year that got lost in the summer growth, often it's something totally new, like the lovely orchid phlox that just appeared in the middle of everything and Queen Anne's Lace, the loveliest of wild flowers--something most people have too much of, but this is the first Ive seen in 37 years here.
Some things I knew about last year, but have totally forgotten what they are, at least until they bloom and I can look them up.
All the potatoes are up, the first planting of carrots is into real leaves and if I look very closely I can see teeny baby pepper flowers getting ready to bud out.
Now if I could just find my grass clippers...
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Having gained dominion thus of this rough hill,
and having climbed the final hundred yards
gasping but triumphant,
there is nothing left to do
but turn, go back the way we came.
For you the challenge lies in the ascent,
in breaking out at last above tree-line
just before the final rise--
and in the evening burying yourself
in maps and charts and detours
while this day's climb lies all but forgotten
except as notes in the back of a book.
For me the pleasure comes
from the memory of the mountain:
that, and the view from the top,
is why I came along.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
It's a beautiful walk, but with one bad knee and one wonky hip and a so-so back the trip up isn't nearly as bad as the trip down, but it's damn close. 1.5 miles each way. We met and were overtaken by two brothers-in-law, one of whom was using canes and when I watched him move realized he was on artificial legs. God love him, and he outpaced all of us. We both stopped whining about aches and pains at that point. *g*
On the way down my husband wanted to try an alternate route and I took one look and said, um, I'll meet you at the bottom. When he got down he said it was much steeper, much more treacherous and he finally realized that he was Alone Out There, if anything happened. I suspect his inner 20 year old just grew up a bit. I encountered several couples trooping up the path, including one young pair who were dressed in summer clothes and flip flops. oh my sainted aunt. I said, you'd do well to rethink this, the way down is going to kill those feet...they laughed, ha ha. I wonder if they got back down.
and this was a chipmunk of the Scavenger Clan, who visited us for lunch. yes, he got some. It's also a pretty good shot of what most of the trail looked like. Think "up" and rocky and "down" and rocky...
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The problem was, it was covered with little green aphids, which meant I could never pick the blooms and bring them inside, because of my house plants. But they never seemed to harm the plant, and short of spraying (and killing the bees), there was little I would or could do.
some years back some new japanese ladybugs were released into this country, and I suspect there are few people who have not been treated to them in the fall, marching across the computer screens, queueing up for snacks (I use apple sections) in winter, and in some cases coating, literally, doors and walls and porches.
They LOVE little green aphids. The summer after the new ladybugs arrived the little green aphids were gone, and haven't been seen since. Now it gets interesting. Two years ago I noticed my nasturtiums were covered on the underside with smeary black microscopic aphids that looked more like soot than bugs. yueuuuwww. Then I noticed that the snowball bush was too. within a week the fifteen foot high plant became a skeleton, all the flowers gone, and the leaves just totally destroyed. I sprayed the ground under the bush, cut it back, and it seemed okay last year.
It has just breathed its last. The black aphids are back, the last of the flowers has turned brown, and the leaves are gone, all in three days. Tomorrow we are uprooting it and putting it on the brush pile at the end of the field. What I think happened (and this makes sense, clear to the ground) is that the little green aphids had a kind of symbiotic relationship with the snowball bush, and the balance was even. When the thousands of new japanese ladybugs arrived, they took out the green aphids, leaving the bush open for attack from anything out there. What was out there were the utterly devastating black aphids, who have no qualms about the bush, and then move on to other things.
The balance has been disrupted, and I'm not sure replacing the bush is an option.
Most of our problem plants and insects come from the far east, where over there they are part of a very different organic structure, and are kept neatly in their own niches. When they arrive here the climate is different, as is the soil and the way we grow our plants and crops. Fresh meat, they gurgle. oboyoboyoboy. Our own native plants have their own relationships with insects and the soil, and when something new shows up they have no defenses against it. Japanese beetles, asiatic beetles, (not to mention the Asiatic lilies we buy apparently just to feed them), gypsy moths, etc etc.
I think, on a very small scale, this is what we keep doing on a very much larger scale, and never learn from.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Some years back I realized that a book that hasn't gotten my attention by the end of the first chapter is probably not going to be worth the walk through the rest. I was reading a book at that point in which the hero "shirted and panted himself" (now there's an image to take with you) and this arch style of writing--which seems to have foretold the advent of the verbing of America--so annoyed me I closed the book and took it back to the library. It took me four tries before I finally understood that I will never read "Vanity Fair", no matter how I try. I have started and abandoned "Hard Times" at least that many times, and even though I have read and enjoyed most of Dickens, for some reason i always lose interest at exactly the same spot in this book, every time.
The idea has always been planted in our heads that these authors worked very hard on this stuff, and it's almost sacriligeous to start a book and never finish it. Like taking two bites out of a piece of cake and then throwing it away. It's the equivalent of the Clean Plate Club, which only fosters guilt and fat. And once I understood that no one was going to suffer if I didn't finish a truly dull book, and someone would if I did (me, usually), life got just a tad simpler.
I will admit to a pang of guilt when someone loans or gives me a book that they love, and I can't even wade through the first chapter of it, but that passes. One truly disappointing book was Barbara Kingsolver's "Prodigal Summer", which, by the end of the first chapter had degenerated into a cross between "Girl of the Limberlost" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover", and since it also was turning out to be a Save the Animal Story (which I cannot abide), I quietly retired it to the giveaway bag.
Life is too short. Read what you like.