Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hold onto your socks -- I've been socializing!

There was something in the local rag (a rant all of its own is planned soon) that piqued my interest.  A town just south of me was putting on a program with a fellow who sang and talked about local (as in the State of New York) ditties, ballads and the like.  It sounded inneresting, as they say in these parts.  Trouble was, it fell on a week night.

There used to be a time when I would pirouette out the door without a single thought after a full day's work.  That was a long time ago.  Now, unless it would be the opportunity to meet one of my (living) heroes, it takes nitro to blast me out of my nest.  Besides, there is the dog guilt to deal with.

A friend of mine, who is more fun than should be legal, emailed and said, hey, let's go!  I wavered and blithered and went on and on.  She finally said that she would come and get me.  I was backed to the wall.  I gave in.  I blasted home and went through a flurry of evening chores - on my way to the barn, I hear this perky voice - "Hey, Suze!!!" She was early.  So she went in, let the dogs in (they adore her) and then borrowed my boots and shoveled my front walk; all within 5 minutes.  I did try, weakly, to explain that I was on strike and had vowed not to lift another shovelful of snow.  She ignored me and power-shoveled to her car.

We had a little time so we split a glass of wine while she sat, covered in dogs, and chattered away.

We picked up our mutual friend, Lisa (where Patty, the human dynamo, also shoveled her walkway in six seconds), then off to the historical society.  After a rather too-long going-over of last month's minutes, various announcements and stabs at humor, the main attraction was introduced.  It was so worth the trip!  It was a foot-stomping, toe-tapping hour and a half, led by Dave Ruch who seemed very much at home in the sea of grey heads nodding and bobbing around him.  He played the guitar, banjo, mandolin (my fav) and octave mandolin (my other fav).

Of course, I didn't get home until after my bed-time and had to oblige the dogs with some playtime shenanigans before I convinced them they needed to settle down for the night.  I won't deny there were treats involved.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I have the habit of intervening between friends/neighbors/strangers and their trips to the transfer station.  Back in the day, people would take their junk/treasures to the dump and pile them up, then a bright little thing like myself would toddle along and find new uses for most of it.  Now I have to aggressively jump on the poor transferers before they get there, if possible.

Such was the case with a neighbor who just happened, poor man, to have a bunch of stuff in his garage to crate off to the dump.  Whoa Nellie!  While it may embarrass family members, I am not at all shy about asking for things that would otherwise be discarded.  Such as:

Woot!  Nine pint jars with lids and six quart jars - four with lids, two without.  These are some older jars, as the glass seems to be three times as thick as today's canning jars.  I have already got plans for most of them.  I also intervened on a big box of old towels (with three dogs, one can never have too many - plus I pass them along to the rescue), two sweatshirts - brandy new, a pair of brandy-new sweatpants (FAT pants, Sylvie!), a plastic bin of crafting stuff, and three empty plastic bins.  I am so excited!!!

Heaven only knows what I will be like thirty years from now.  I see some intervening on my person in my future by my dear sisters - you have been warned!!!  :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Looking out and not down.

I find this piece of advice to work in almost every circumstance - in the mirror, one can zero in on a single eye.  And ignore the rest.  Say, not looking down to discover one cannot see their shoes.  Driving - over high bridges.  Nuff said.  Outside - trying desperately to find beauty in the endless frost/snow/ice.  Of course, the not-looking-down part could also be a little dicey vis a vis patches of ice.

I could have used that last piece of advice last night.  I had left work early to donate blood - I used to donate on a regular basis, way back, many lives ago.  I even was a regular platelet donor, a process that would take almost 2 hours.  Then the new hires at the Red Cross had less than stellar phlebotomy skills and I would leave looking like a black and blue pincushion.   A very interesting church (architecturally speaking - it's round) that I pass twice a day on my way to/from work, hosts regular blood drives.  One of the types they need is mine, so I always mean to leave early and stop on my way home, but - since it is more than 5 minutes from there to work - I always forget.  This time I remembered and made an appointment online.  Once there, I discovered a few things about myself:  I am chatty, as in yadda, yadda, yadda, when I am the slightest bit nervous.  I don't mind the needle in the arm, but the prick on my finger tip makes me woozy.  And I had to get pricked twice, since they couldn't find any iron in my blood the first time - due to the fact that my hands were so cold, the blood really hadn't made it up to my fingertips.  I was allowed to warm them up and the second try garnered plenty of iron.  Ouch.  I am stubborn.  I wanted to leap off the gurney, grab my coat and head home with my bottle of free water.  I almost got away with it, having successfully cowed the young nurselet, but then I ran into the formidable nurse who had been in charge of me and could easily read my mind.  I meekly sat down for five minutes with a packet of raisins.

Anyhoo, short story too long, I headed home and was delighted to see that my neighbor had plowed around my mailbox - it rose in a snowy, icy island, clear enough for even my picky postal carrier to reach.  I then looked up and out to enjoy the fact that it wasn't pitch dark, my foot slipped on the gas pedal, I hit a patch of ice, and went plowing into the giant ice/snow berm at the side of the driveway.  Where I was firmly mired. 

I would like to say that I handled the situation with grace and aplomb.  I would like to, but I can't.  A blue cloud lifted over me and sailed down the street.  Even the dogs ceased barking frantically, and just let out little yips.  I stomped in, let them out and then called my farmer neighbor.  I knew he was still at the barn, since I drove past on my way home.  Yup, he would stop on his way home.  He had me pulled clear in three minutes. I couldn't even mollify my bruised ego with a glass of wine, having been given a long list of 'don'ts' by the Head Nurse.  I had to settle for a cup of herbal tea.  It just wasn't the same.

Monday, February 23, 2015

For those of you who asked for it (you know who you are...)

I am currently not on speaking terms with Mother Nature.  She of the sadistic sense of humor.  Yesterday morning it was 22 and peaked at 33!  This morning was 7 and is heading south rapidly - and I don't mean like tropical south.

I had just shoveled.  Then it snowed
again.  A lot.

Back deck - I'm running out of
room to toss the snow.

From deck to coop.  You can see the
little 'present' the dogs left me.  In
the middle of the path.

Front deck to carport.  Guess there's
no chance of the carport blowing

This week looks to be another repeat of the past three.  Hopefully, without the snow.  I had my friend, Lisa, over for dinner yesterday and the snow piled on either side of the path was almost as high as she was.  She cheerfully noted that, should she fall, she wouldn't go far if she fell sideways.  I ushered her in and we tucked into scalloped potatoes, roasted herbed chicken thighs with cranberry infused sauce, steamed broccoli and apple/peach crisp for dessert.  Then we discussed long underwear, skunks in cellars, egg freezing, milking difficulties in below-zero temps, the price of milk, knitting, families, dogs, and fracking pros and cons.  Actually, there were no 'pros' to the fracking part of the conversation.  I would love to say that my dogs were wonderfully behaved, but that would be a bald-faced lie.  While they do not overtly beg at the table when I'm dining solo, add a guest and there is no getting rid of them.  Pepper little noggin pops up between ones knees.  Lovey rests her little chin on one's thigh and casts worried, starving looks your way.  Scrappy leans heavily, large, sorrowful brown eyes inevitably directed at me - wasting away from hunger by the second.  It is embarrassing.  The best that I can muster is to get them out of physical contact - and then they circle the table like benign sharks.

However, once the guests leave, they do an amazingly thorough job on the greasy pots and pans.  I was thinking of renaming Pepper, "Brillo".

Friday, February 20, 2015

Enough of the vagaries of my life. Let's get down to business.

Pepper in a contemplative moment.  Possibly
remembering green grass.
While I have been rusting on my laurels, celebrating the fact that all major pathways have been shoveled and maintained, a dim bulb went on when I realized that I needed to get more hay.  Thanks to the relentless duo of frigid temps and near-constant snowfall, access to the barn on the human side is extremely limited.  Getting into and out of the door (especially out of, with a half-bale of hay in my arms) is like doing the sideways limbo.  Suck in that gut! 

One of these years, I will think ahead.  Then I got an email from my propane supplier reminding us that we need to be kind to our delivery guys and make sure that they have clear access to tanks.  Oh.  In order for my propane to be delivered, you have to make it through the gate in the chicken yard fence, through the chicken yard, around the corner of the house and into the tank.  Do you want to take a guess at how much of that is shoveled?  I have been pretty good at keeping the gate clear, having learned my lesson on how much more work it is to drag 50# bags of chicken feed through the house, across the deck, down the stairs and out to the coop.  I chipped a short path to the tank to check the level (35%) and I just might be able to hold out until the end of March.

I am not letting it get me down, however, because I have reached that point in February when the delusion delirium (DD) sets in.  That time when, after peeking ahead to the forecast into the next month or so, I know it won't last forever, this forever-seeming winter.  There is a light at the end of this Arctic tunnel.  It usually coincides with the arrival of my seed order.  In a few short weeks, the sap lines will appear in the woods around me.  I will be cutting up my bars of Irish Spring soap to hang from my willow bushes.  About a half-ton of dog 'business' will be unearthed/snowed in the chicken yard.  I will find a renewed will to knit (as perverse as that sounds, it always happens).

I have quite a few projects to be completed this year.  I can so relate to Mama Pea's double-spaced two page to-do list...some of them will be challenging: crawling under the house to the far end to see what damage has been done to the insulation around my master bath pipes.  And fixing it.  I'm claustrophobic and am sure that the damage was done during the Great Rat Outbreak.  Nuff said.  And there is the roofing of the run-in shed (heights).  And lining at least two raised beds with hardware cloth (the cursed voles).  But I am floating in the soft glow of DD and it all sounds marvelous...

Now for some True Confessions.  I spent 5.99 at the grocery store.  I went in to pick up some things for my parents, who have been snowbound, and I bought organic baby spinach from Massachusetts because I couldn't walk by the bin.  Not bad and all that, but, still.  I blame my weakness on lack of iron in my diet - ergo, the spinach.  Right?  Right??

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Odd Memories, Part 2.

That monkey memory got me thinking about my other experience with masses of beings (besides my ex-life in NYC - the animal-type masses were much more enjoyable).  Although by now we all know that I am not a beach/water person, back in my early-mid-ex-life, I went to the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas) during one rather brutal Cleveland winter.  This was also the time when the only 'live' stock I tended were a pair of curmudgeonly Hermit Crabs, named Christian and Dior.  They were named thusly as it always took AGES for them to try on and settle on new shell overcoats.

It was my first trip to someplace exotic.  I will have to say that, even though I am not the sun worshiping/sunbathing/bikini type, it was a wonderful vacation.  The sun was saturated in a way not felt in the north.  The beaches were white, you got to drive on the left side of the road, iguanas and goats darted everywhere.  Bougainvillea covered most of the trash. 

I did two things that were very much outside of my comfort zone while there.  I went on a large sailing vessel to St. John's Island for a picnic lunch with a group and I went snorkeling.  Not only am I terrified of being on the water, I suffer from sea sickness.  And motion sickness.  However, once the ship got a full wind in her sails (that is nauticalese for going fast), I was too busy watching the sea gulls and birds and dolphins to think about pitching overboard and drowning or being eaten by sharks or sea monsters.  I was so fired-up when I got back to the dock, that I signed up for snorkeling lessons.

In order to attract fish to adventure-seeking tourists, the fellow in charge gave us each a hunk of bread to break up once we got going.  Once I realized that I could actually breath through the snorkel without drowning (I was trying not to think of sharks), I relaxed and bobbed in the turquoise waters, pinching off bits of sodden bread, leaving a trail of flotsam in my wake.  The first fish to come were small groupers (I love grouper in a carnivorous way).  Then there were all sorts and manner of bright little fish, darting around me, gobbling up the floating bread crumbs.  Then there were much larger groupers.  Much.  Then there were about one million small, medium and large fish inhaling what was left of my bread.  Then, it seemed, they turned their fishy eyes on me.  All of a sudden, they were taking bites of my t-shirt (I burn easily and was swimming with one over my suit).  And then my snorkel gear.  I managed to turn in a blind panic and churn towards shore.  I staggered out of the surf and didn't stop moving until I was a quarter of a mile from the water. 

I vowed never to eat grouper again. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Eleven things you didn't know you needed to know about me.

I am sure, by now, that you know waaaay more than you need to about me.  But, since I managed to totally forget that nice NancyPo had nominated me for a Liebster Award....

Here we go:

1.  When you were a child, what was your dream job? Do you have that job today?  I wanted to be a cowgirl.  I wanted to ride horses all day, rope cattle and roll my own cigarettes.  Of those three things, the only thing I accomplished (more or less) was to roll my own cigarettes.  Ahem.  No, today I am doing three things that I dislike intensely - commuting a long distance, working with lawyers, and having to deal with state legislators.

2.  What are your 3 favorite books?  This is a tough one.  I love so many books.  All time favs would be - Alice in Wonderland, A Confederacy of Dunces; The Beak of the Finch.
3.  If you have to move out of the country, where would you move to?  Did that - to the Netherlands.  If I had to move somewhere else, it would be Tuscany, but I would rather discover all the places I have not seen in this country first.
4.  Can you cook?  Why, yes, I can.  To my detriment, as I never bother cutting a recipe in half and then eat the whole thing by myself. 
5.  Is there any post you’ve been planning to do, but have been postponing for awhile now?  Something that would make me a living legend.  Obviously, it will take more than awhile.
6.  If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?  This always makes me think of my friend, Rosie.  When she would meet a fellow on a dating site, one of her first questions was, "What is your super power?"  I don't know what answers she got, but mine would have answered, "the power to pull the wool over your eyes".  I digress.  My super power would be the ability to fly like a bird.  I may have a fear of heights, but I also have a love of large vistas.  Plus, it would be a neato keeno way of escaping from the bad guys.
7.  Do you prefer the beach or the mountain? Why?  I am a mountain girl.  No beaches for me, as I am terrified of water (as in being in or on it).  Mountains make me feel that I am closer to the beginning of everything, even if we were supposed to have wiggled out of the water as some kind of legless blobs.  Mountains make me all weepy and, yet, feeling that I can do anything.
8.  What movie did you love to watch as a child?  The Wizard of Oz.  My sisters and I would get to watch it each year in my parent's bedroom.  We would be in their bed, under the covers, with lots of pillows at our backs.  The covers would be pulled up just below our noses - waiting for the appearance of the Wicked Witch.  We would haul those covers up and over our heads, screeching in terror!
9.  What is something that you learned recently?  I'm working on learning to drop spindle spin.  It's not going well, but I am determined.  I have also been learning to preserve by different means than by canning.  That has been interesting.
10.  What is your favorite season of the year and why?  Late Summer, into Fall.  Or Fallish.  The garden has reached its peak, the heat of Summer has died back, the leaves start to color, the air is rich with ozone.  I am looking forward to a Winter rest.  (That part nearly made my laugh so hard I choked.)
11.  What TV series do you watch?  I have not watched television for over ten years.  It has been very freeing.  I will admit that, every time I see a clip of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood on YouTube, it makes me cry with loss. 
Now you know even MORE about me.  If you have any complaints, go tell NancyPo.  Kidding.