Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cooking Dress

Children are just such little learning machines. I love the way they work at figuring things out - the younger ones, say, about age 2 to 4, especially, when they have some vocabulary, but are working out the nuances. They can sure come up with some charming ideas.

For example, Granddaughter Mira (she'll be four this summer), watching her mother get dressed, asked what 'that' was.
"It's a bra."
"You have a bra on your back," Mira observed, having learned a new word.
"Yes, and on my front, too," her mother answered, turning around as for show and tell.
Mira looked her mother over, and said, "You're a mermaid!"

Grammy's Cooking Dress
Jenny, who will also be four later this year, noticed my apparel the last time she was here and asked me if that was a "cooking dress." Of course I knew immediately that she was asking about the apron I was wearing - so, new policy at my house: Aprons will henceforth be known as "Cooking Dresses." Here's one now:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Order of the Day

 
For the first time in months I've let the chickens out. (They've been in protective custody due to predation.) 

They knew just what to do as soon as I opened those doors, and they seem quite happy to be out. 


Unfortunately, Annie The Dog (aka "A. T.") has to stay in when the chickens are out because she plays too rough, so she's not quite as happy. We endured a little power struggle for a few minutes, but she is now sleeping at my feet.

There's some issue with the riding mower. I'm working on getting someone over to look at it, but in the meantime, I fire up the walk-behind mower and do 30 minutes to an hour at a time. I could do that about every other day or so and it'll be just like painting the Golden Gate Bridge - it's so big that by the time you get done, it's time to start over. 

I imagined someone giving me some flak about mowing a little bit every day, like why don't I just get it all done at once, as if I lived in the city on a normal sized lot. Here's why: my perimeter fence encloses about two acres, and there's yet again three more acres of field and bar-ditch to mow; all five acres takes a full day to complete on the riding mower. Full day, hat, eye and hearing protection, breathing filter, long pants, long sleeves and boots, or at least closed-toed shoes. You never know what that riding mower might kick up. Anyway, I figured I'd mow 30 minutes to an hour on the days I don't go to the gym - quite suitable for cardio.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Landline



I know it's a retro concept, but I have my reasons for keeping a landline telephone in the house. I consider my main phone to be the mobile that I carry with me most of the time. And while it's not a State Secret or anything, only a rare few people have or even want that landline phone number. I do get some interesting calls on the landline sometimes, even if I listen to most of them on the answering machine. 

Usually they're solicitations of some sort or another. Sometimes it's someone looking for the last person who had that number, which was, criminy, at least five years ago. I have learned from all those wrong-number calls that she was a pharmacist, she was active in a singles group at a local church (and they miss her very much and want her to come back), she had a car wreck (two different insurance companies calling to settle the matter), she lived with her sister, and she owed someone money. 

Getting those wrong-number calls really put me off answering the landline phone. In hopes of sending the wrong-number callers along, I created a long outgoing message on the answering machine to let people know that "this is the phone number for our household, and if you're looking for someone with any other last name, you have the wrong number." It seems to have helped, in that respect, maybe, because I haven't had a call for that gal in a while.

Now it's mostly automated callers, political polls, and bizarre survey and marketing callers. Well, and occasionally one of my close friends who have that number, who weren't able to raise me on my cell.

Since probably nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand calls to the landline are bogus, I almost never answer it if I don't recognize the number. Occasionally, though, I'm up for a little jousting.

Apparently autodialers are in heavy use these days. Many, many junk callers use them now. My friend Kent said that when he gets a call from a number he doesn't recognize, sometimes he'll pick the line up but not speak right away - an autodialer, being a machine, doesn't know what to do if the line is live, but quiet. Humans, on the other hand, tend to become uneasy in silence and will usually start talking at some point if they've heard the line go live, but you haven't actually spoken to them yet. This sounded like something worth trying.

So the phone rings. I pick it up and push the speaker button, but don't talk. If it's a machine calling, pretty soon I get that screeching sound, like when your phone's off the hook too long. If it's a live human, though, I can hear them breathing on the other end of the line, and they can hear my household noises: Annie's tags rattling, the television in the other room, me clinking dishes in the sink, or clattering about on the keyboard. Sometimes they hang up, but usually they speak. I have found that if I just hang up on them first, they are likely to call back, so if they speak, I may respond. 

Another practice I observe is never say the word "yes" to an unsolicited caller. They've been known to do things that you won't like and that may cost you money, and when you protest, they have your own voice saying 'yes' (even though the tape is quite possibly doctored to their ends) so be very careful in how you answer people you don't know, even if they seem likable.

I got  to try out my new routine this very evening.

Phone rang. Caller ID said it was an out of state number. I picked up the handset and pushed the speaker button and went about my business. Pretty soon I heard, "Hello? Hello?"

"Hello," I answered.

The caller had a heavy accent from the other side of the planet. He tried to make small talk, gave the name of a company for whom he was making the call. Said his name was Michael Smith. Now, I wouldn't come right out and call him a liar, but I'll just tell you, I didn't believe him. Think about it -  anyone in that part of the world being named Smith, or naming their child Michael? Didn't make a lick of sense. I mean, I suppose it's possible - I could be mistaken about that, but I simply didn't believe him.  

Credibility blown right out of the box, he jabbered on about some survey he's conducting, with very little response from me one way or the other, and immediately asks me a very personal question.  His question irritated me, to say the least. I don't care who it is, and even if I believe they are who they claim to be, what he asked me is certainly none of his durn beezwax. At this point I was done talkin' to this guy, so I pushed the Off button and hung up on him. I guess he thought we accidentally got disconnected, because he called right back, and I mean right back. 

This time when I picked up the phone, I did speak first, and here's what I said: "That's creepy, dude. Don't call me again [Click]."






Sunday, February 9, 2014

Black Ice

What, exactly, is the definition of "black ice?"

Yesterday it warmed to enough above freezing to dry my front porch off, so I was surprised, this morning, to see that it was wet. Got ready, then, to go run some errands in town, and started across the porch and found myself on the ground before I even knew I was falling. I did that in Cooperstown a couple times, and it's an odd sensation - you're walking along, and then you're on the ground, your things scattered around you. What th- how did this happen? No time to try to catch yourself, no time to fear, nothing to dread, which is nice in a way, because the dread always makes it feel like forever - just BOOM, on the ground, just like that. Sore elbow, sore knee. Sore hip.

Whenever I fall, I pause, sort of take stock of the situation. How bad is it? Can I get up? Do I need help? Can I GET help?  Today I was able to sort of roll over and pull myself up. It didn't even look like ice at all - no glaze whatsoever - it just looked wet. I thought, maybe I'd better go get my walking stick, help me stay upright if I encounter any more ice.

I came back in the house and got my walking stick and tried again. Sticking close to the house, where there was a margin of dry porch, I moved cautiously out toward the car. But at about the place I'd fallen, even the rubber tip on my cane couldn't get a firm hold on the pavement. I don't bounce like I did when I was five or six. I could see this was just too slippery and I came back in the house.

Looks like it might creep just above freezing about mid-afternoon for a couple hours. Now I'm weighing how much I need to go to town against personal safety. Hm, personal safety is winning right now.

Ah, Life is what happens when you've made other plans.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Old Organic Hippie Earth Mother

I have an annual contract with a pest control company for an annual termite-monitoring service. I don't relish the thought that we've had to have poison pumped into the foundation, but it's fairly important, given that so much of my house is wood, and we certainly have seen termites around here in the past.

So the other day, my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but it was a local number, and I thought it might be someone I know, so I answered the call. Turns out it was a man calling from a lawn-treating company. (Notice how carefully I'm not giving the names of the companies?)

He said something like, "This is So-and-So with X-Y-Z Lawn Treating Company, and bla bla bla in your area and bla bla bla pre-emergent. Bla bla bla pre-emergent, and since you are a customer of Bla-Bla Pest Control Service, we can make you such a deal..."

To which I replied, "Well, I appreciate you thinkin' about me, but I live on an acreage out here, and I'm sort of an old organic hippie Earth Mother... "

Didn't even get to finish my sentence, but I had gotten that much out, and as soon as he heard that, I heard him saying, "Okay, thank you for your time [click]."

I'm guessing he must've talked to old organic hippie Earth Mothers before. I don't know if he wanted to avoid a lecture, or if he just didn't feel like trying to talk me into something I wasn't going to do anyway. My friend Kent pointed out that the guy probably thought he was talking to the owner of one of those huge three-quarter-million-dollar homes-on-two-acres that are sprouting up all around me. They tend to be more the Perfect-Lawn types. 

No, fella, I'm a bigger acreage, smaller house. Being on well water here, I am poignantly aware of the concept of, "You dump it, you drink it," so, no, I am not interested in bringing more poison onto the place. An Old Organic Hippie Earth Mother, I am.

Astonishingly effective, that phrase, "Old Organic Hippie Earth Mother." I may have to try it in other situations.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ice

Well, I guess it's never really a good time to have an ice storm. 

The mystery to me is, if the air temperature is at or below freezing, why in the world doesn't it just snow instead? But no, It's got to be freezing rain, which then turns into ice. 

There was a pretty dramatic ice storm here some years ago, before we moved to Cooperstown. The ice was so thick on just everything, that the weight of it on the lines pulled the poles down. It was an odd thing to see, the lines still running from pole to pole, but the poles hanging at sharp angles or laying on the ground for as far as you could see up and down the road. Breaking trees sounded like dozens of guns going off, one after the other, followed by branches, small, medium, and large, crashing to the ground. You certainly did not want to be anywhere near under a tree then, and we have lots of trees here.

Fence picket with a cloche of ice

Here are some images from the current ice storm. The ice on the grass is just as thick as it is on everything else, which makes walking, even on the grass, a big be-careful. 

I took my walking-stick/cane with me when I went out to tend the chickens, and I'm sure glad I did, because I'm pretty sure I would have ended up on the ground if I hadn't.  

Here are some other things I learned:
  • Ice on grass is doable, just pay attention and be careful.
  • Ice on accumulated leaves is much trickier than you'd think, probably because of a combination of the ice, and the fact that the leaves will move around when you step on them.Try to avoid walking on iced leaves if you can.
Interesting configuration

  •  The trees creak and crackle in the slightest breeze. That's both interesting and creepy.
  •  It's well-nigh impossible to get from the house to the chicken house without walking under a tree somewhere along the way.
  • Flat ground is way better to try to walk on than even the slightest incline. 

        
    Half-inch of ice on everything. 




  • It's astonishing how freakin' slippery the ground is, even though you'd think the grass would provide suitable traction.
Unless another wave of precip comes along, it looks like we're close to done getting it, at least at my house. 

Happy Trails, and thanks for reading!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ordinary World

As we crowd and overtake midnight on this fourth day of November, I'm thinking this is probably why I don't blog every day - I want everything I write to be meaningful and touching, moving, impressive, stunning...I want every piece to be spectacular, but sometimes the best I can come up with is ordinary.  I'm afraid this is one of those ordinary days.

I have a certain circle of friends with whom I converse on a fairly regular basis, and some of us have had a similar conversation, where somebody wants spectacular, but gets ordinary. I say welcome to life, Darling. Most of life is ordinary. Don't discount the importance of ordinary, I tell them. Most of what happens, happens in the ordinary world, on an ordinary day, to ordinary people. We can have spectacular moments (even spectacular days), but it is unreasonable to expect every moment of every day to be spectacular. Ordinary is the Dark Matter of life - there is so much more of it than there is Spectacular. It's always so interesting to me to find myself In a position to have to heed my own advice.

So here I am, experiencing an ordinary day, wishing like everything that I had something blindingly poignant to write in today's blog post. Oh, well, as someone dear to me has been known to say, "You pays your money and you takes your chances." 

Good Evening, Dear Readers :)

V~