Monday, January 26, 2015

bird talk



Another snow storm, another snow day for the schools.

Today is beautiful (no, not with tulips); five inches of heavy snow stuck on the tree branches, partly cloudy blue sky dotted with puffy clouds....
...and the birds at the feeders.

While we were eating lunch, we saw
sparrows
goldfinches
house finches
starlings
cardinals
blue jays
tufted titmice
juncos
wrens
downy woodpeckers
flickers
bluebirds

and this morning the great horned owl flew briefly out from the trees and returned within a few seconds...and I was at the window to see it!

Friday, January 23, 2015

elderly me



It seems to me that, as we age and don't bend as well as we used to, there should be a way to make toenails stop growing. Seriously. Is that such a hard thing to figure out? 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

got'cha



just one mouse
probably
but I didn't know it at the time
Christmas baking
crumbs
kitchen in need of a serious clean-up

and so, one morning
evidence of a mouse
mice?
infestation?
burn the house down?

overdue Christmas clean-up begins
trap is set
mouse caught

next day, more cleaning
more traps set
four traps
banana flavored laffy taffy
nasty tasting stuff
but the mice like it

time for bed
restless
what awaits me in the morning?

nothing
no evidence of mice
no mice in the traps
seriously?
just one mouse?

well, hmmmm....
clean the kitchen anyway
keep the traps set anyway
someday there will be another mouse
or not

Thursday, January 15, 2015

owl time



In the middle of the winter, we get the first sense of new life. The great horned owls are calling to each other in the trees behind our house. It is their time. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

John Adams



David McCullough's John Adams; an excellent book.
I have a better sense of the history of the founding of our country, of the men and women instrumental in bringing it about, and, of course, John Adams. I almost feel like I knew him back in his day, and I even grieved a bit reading of the end of his life. The author showed Adam's humanity in the context of the big things happening at the time. He became a real person in my mind.
I certainly recommend this book.

And on another note, the smoke alarms were silent last night. I nevertheless woke up around 3 am, feeling the painful discomfort one more time, but this time as a memory.

And on another nother note, we are currently being quietly bombarded with ice. It looks like maybe another bad weather day for the schools tomorrow. Hopefully a good day for some camera work, though.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

eff



The smoke alarm screamed again last night...this morning...3:30 am.
Screaming white hot swords piercing my brain.
It wasn't the batteries, they were all new.
In fact, when the old batteries were tested the day before, they all tested good.
So......
Looks like its time to purchase new smoke alarms.

He thinks they may be responding to dust in the sensors. Maybe he's right. But he's not going to sweep them out and put them back up tonight. Because maybe that's not the problem, and I'm not going to put up with this three nights in a row.

Because if he did...and if they would perchance go off again, I would outscream the damned alarms. Beware the 71 year old cranky crone in the middle of the night.

Friday, January 09, 2015

no snooze alarm needed




Smoke alarms.
A reminder to change the batteries once a year.
And if you forget, the smoke alarm will chirp a bit to get your attention.
And probably in the middle of the night, yes?

We forgot to check the alarms.
They did not chirp to remind us.
They went into full blown screaming alarms.
Five of them.
Upstairs and downstairs.
At four in the morning.

Fortunately we had new batteries.
But big George climbing ladders
at four in the morning
is not a good thing.
After half an hour of head splitting
migraine inducing
screaming
high pitched
noise
that would wake the dead
(which is why they're a good thing if there's actually an alarming event)
We got the job done.

Back to bed.
It probably took another half hour
to relax my head and neck muscles.
Good night.

And good morning!

Monday, January 05, 2015

cold symptoms



brilliant, even blinding, early morning sunshine
little birds fluffed up so much that they look like feather balls
furnace constantly running
piles of blankets on the bed
windows outlined in condensation and frost

So what does that have to do with the photo? Not a damned thing.  

Friday, January 02, 2015

surviving the holidays



I have run the gauntlet and survived!
Thanksgiving with the home invasion of screaming toddlers.
Christmas with the extra work of shopping, cooking, and decorating.
Trip to North Lima to attend to a very old and lonely relative.
New Years. Oh wait. That was easy. I went to bed at 11 o'clock.
OSU party which at the last minute was cancelled because the host got the flu.

No, I really didn't want to go to the party, but said I would for George's sake. When it was cancelled I was relieved, except the host who got the flu can ill afford the flu risk, so...we'll see what happens.

And now I'm ready for a blizzard that keeps me indoors for weeks at a time! Ah, the solitude! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

no vampires in my yard



We put the garden to bed yesterday by planting 100 cloves of garlic. That's it until April or so. It's always interesting when we work together on the garden. My style is basically just get 'er done, and his is more about perfect execution. Precise rows. Precise holes. So we compromised. I suggested we just get 'er done as quickly as his precise mind could do it. Since it wasn't the warmth he prefers for garden work, he got his analytical brain working quickly. He got 'er done in a hurry so he could get back indoors. Works for me!!!!! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

happy Santa



This Santa ornament must have sneaked past the family friendly filter at JoAnn's Fabrics. That's where we bought him!

Years ago our family had an ugly ornament contest. Simple rules: must be cheap and must actually be purchased at a store. But after a few years family members scattered to different states, and the "contest" came to an end.

Enter a 13 year old grandson and the internet! We were sitting around talking about those ugly ornaments, and I dragged out the box of uglies so Nick could see them. He was highly amused, and when I told him I'd tagged this one as "happy Santa", he laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. Grandma actually says that?!? Yep. Grandma can say whatever she damn well pleases!

And so the contest is back on again. This time we'll meet at Flickr or some other online site, sending pictures.

Teenage boys are so much fun!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

finally



Christmas 2014.
It was a good day, but I'm still glad it's done. Expectations never quite seem to match up with reality. Part of that I blame on the media. Even though I'm a hermit now, I still cut my teeth on "the perfect Christmas" when I was a kid. That just never seems to go away.

But what is "a perfect Christmas" anyway? Everybody getting their fondest wishes met with the perfect presents under the tree? The perfectly designed tree in the perfectly decorated house, with the perfect meal that everybody enjoys? Nah.

Family. We get together and give each other gifts...because that's what's expected...by everybody (or at least almost everybody)...because this is the day the calendar demands we do it.  When I think of it that way, it makes no sense. We give to each other throughout the year, don't we? We just don't do it in the presence of an artificial tree with a myriad of ornaments hanging on the branches.

So somebody might think I'm missing the "real meaning" of Christmas. I don't think so. The whole Christmas narrative is a myth. Not that myths are a bad thing; I have my own.

I remember my own working days. As a teacher, Christmas vacation was never a vacation from work. It was just different work. I was always tired. Always. Shopping. Wrapping gifts late at night. Cooking. Decorating. Road trips to family in another city. Yes, it was great seeing the glee in the eyes of three little boys. But those days are now long gone, as the little boys are approaching middle age.

You know what I would give as a gift to my working sons, if I could? The gift of no expectation or assumption that they would have to give up a vacation day going through the motions of "Christmas". Unless they wanted to, of course.

No, I'm not the grinch. Family was over. We had food, presents, laughter. It was a good day. I'm just glad it's over so I can return to normal programming. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

saying goodbye to what once was



Four years of therapy in the early 1990s. Twenty years ago, more or less. She told me to get a notebook and start writing. And I did. Four years of daily writing. When I knew therapy was drawing to a close, I wondered what to do with all those pages. Folders full of pages; pages full of grief, sorrow, anger, and then the birth of contentment, even joy. She said I'd know what to do when the time was right. So those pages moved to this house with us, and lived in a box. Now, as I enter the decade that might be my last, I think about those pages. They'll probably be thrown out when I die, but what if somebody wanted to read them? I know I'd want to read my own mother's writings if she had indeed done any. But these pages aren't for anybody else's eyes, except for the occasional poetry that I've decided to add to my book.

Therefore: every morning I read a page, remembering what it was like back then. And then I tear it up and throw it away. One page at a time. It is a gentle time. I sit with the struggling person I once was as she struggled to uncage the little girl who never had a chance to learn her own voice. I am...we are...three generations of the same person. It was worth the pain and struggle to be who I am now.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cuba



Obama
Cuba
Wonderful!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

perilous journey



75 years old
53 years of marriage
and they're getting a divorce

wow

both of us are friends with both of them
how to navigate this perilous journey...
at least as their friends?

like this
we will listen without judgment
but we will not take sides
we stand as witnesses that
hope
love
forgiveness
may prevail at the end
whatever that end may be

so that both of us
may remain friends
with both of you




Friday, December 12, 2014

satisfaction



If I were a cat I'd be purring. I brought a bottle of my beer to the local shop where I buy my supplies and asked the owner to taste it and give his critique. He didn't have to compliment me...I already know I like it, as does everybody else who tried it. Plus, he had said he's not fond of the particular beer I made in the first place.
So....he poured, he sniffed, he practically buried his face in the glass to take it in, then tasted it. Hey! That's goooood!!!! He said that. Then we discussed the hint of citrus, which he thought came from the particular hops used in the kit.  He even offered a taste to another customer, telling them it was my first attempt.
Ya know what? That felt good.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

standing watch



Bam!!!!

A goldfinch flew into (or against) our kitchen window. It looked like it was dead there on the ground. But then, after a bit, its head moved just a tiny bit. I watched and waited, on the alert for Munch, our neighborhood cat, who would probably enjoy an afternoon snack of goldfinch if it were still alive.
The cat was nowhere around, yet I decided to go out to the bird with a box to carry it in, to bring it in and warm it. I nudged it. It was moving a bit more, and then I decided to leave it. If it were simply stunned, it would return to health soon enough. If it were more seriously injured, there'd be no way I could care for a disabled goldfinch. Neither the bird nor I would be happy with that kind of arrangement. So I returned to the window and stood watch. Soon enough the bird was looking all around, twisting its head this way and that, just like it would do on a perch. And then I blinked. And it had flown off to that perch. It was fine.

Standing watch. Caring. Sometimes that's all we need to do, isn't it? I hope when it's my time to fly off to some other perch, somebody will stand watch and care for me. That's all.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

He's the man!!



Something new happened last night. I went to my blog to write a bit, but the blog address morphed into another address, and the computer went to that address. But it didn't get there. It apparently got stuck and all I got was a white screen. After restarting the computer, the same thing happened. It also happened at another blog I occasionally work with. Hmmmm. I asked George to see what he got if he went to my blog. He could get there on his computer.

So computer whiz came to my aid. He installed some tracking blockers and ad blockers on my computer, and that solved the problem.

But my problem was a bit different. I wanted to understand why that happened in the first place. I know about trackers, and I really don't care who knows where I go. I don't go to porn sites, nor do I google how to make bombs and such, so honestly, I don't have much to hide. It's like if I'm walking down the street and somebody notices which shops I visit. I don't care what they know. And ads? You gotta be kidding if you think I"m sensitive to ads showing up on my computer. Nobody's gonna get business from me. I don't like to shop. I don't care about current fashion. Etc. The ads themselves are annoying, but so many little things in life are annoying, and they're just one of them.

So why did that thing happen? Finally it makes sense. No person did it. Somebody wrote a program that delivers ads or tracks or some such, and a glitch in their program put a nonexistent address in place when I went to my blog. End of story. Annoying. George fixed it.

How do normal folks who are not married to a computer professional get their annoying problems solved? Oh that's right. That's why George will always have work. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

greedy bastards



David McCullough can certainly bring history to life. Currently, I'm reading  John Adams. He is having a disagreement with George Washington. Washington believes strongly that public servants should not be paid; they should have sufficient funds to care for themselves and their families for the duration of their service. John Adams fears that idea, suggesting if that were to be the norm, then our country would be run by only the wealthy, and we would devolve into an aristocracy.

And so here we are today. Public servants are paid, and we're still on the fast track to an aristocracy. Honest to god, I don't think we'll ever be any better than that. There's this thing in our brains, I guess, that makes us into greedy bastards. A few, maybe a good number, have squashed that insidious thing in their brains, but they can't stand up against those that nurture their greedy bastardness by marrying  it to aggressiveness and cleverness.

So. Is homo sapiens, as an experiment, a success or a failure? Which? Neither? Maybe just a random event in the universe, destined to disappear without a trace?

Sunday, December 07, 2014

random thoughts



Ah, the joy of knowing that when life sucks, it doesn't suck forever. At least for me.

a good night's sleep
sunshine in the morning
a titmouse and woodpecker at the bird feeder
quiet

Is it simply the randomness of the universe? Is it even randomness in the first place? I don't know. However, I used to think I knew. God ordered the whole thing, I thought. And then, I stopped thinking that. Some seem to need the security of believing everything is ordered by a deity. Some seem to need the security of believing that they themselves are in charge. Me? I just don't know. I do the best I can, and trust that whatever the unfathomable truth might be, it will keep being the truth whether or not I understand and/or believe.

Several years ago I pissed off a conservative Christian by voicing those thoughts. She had been trying to pin me down into a "this" or "that" label. But that's a story for another day. 

Saturday, December 06, 2014

love and laughter



My brother called last night. It was exactly what a good doctor would have ordered. For one last time, I had a chance to describe the chaos of the recent family holiday, and this time I remembered something that had been forgotten...if this is the worst that happens, then I'm having a damned good life.

And then we laughed about other mishaps. Laughter. It could heal the world, perhaps. Lord knows the world needs some healing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

love and beer



The house is now quiet. Everybody has returned to their own homes. I spoke from deep in my own soul to one person in particular...
"I open my heart to you. I love you. But I do not love you according to your expectations and assumptions as to how that love will be expressed. I can only love you with the kind of love I myself have to give. I've journeyed through many trials in my life, as we all do. I've taken on some wounds, and in some cases the scars have left some 'dead zones', in a sense. There have been, and will be, occasions when I pretty much freeze up. That would be one of those momentary dead zones. I suspect we all have them in one form or another. So let us love and trust each other according to our own abilities to love and trust, and not burden each other with expectations and assumptions."

But on another level, the beer has been opened, tasted, and enjoyed. My first effort at making beer was such a success that I had to hide away a few bottles lest there was nothing left for a few other times I wish to share that beer.

Monday, December 01, 2014

forgiveness



There is no way I can describe the stress we all endured this past Thanksgiving. Nor would I want to describe it too much, because those who caused the stress didn't do it deliberately. But I'll say this: they were too immature and wounded to have children, but there is no mechanism to prevent them from doing so. So they did. Two toddlers, one of whom screamed - literally screamed - whenever he didn't get his way. They kept them up until midnight. Yeah, that's right. Toddlers at midnight. And then, as I went to bed, they put the toddlers to bed, and for an hour, from midnight until one in the morning, this little boy screamed. There was much much more, but this was the last straw. I didn't sleep all that night, even with the help of medication.

My takeaway is this: sometimes it's harder than hell to be one of the adults in the room, especially when it involves extreme physical discomfort. "Losing it" would have caused difficulties within the greater family circle that I didn't want to happen, so I sucked it up as best I could. And yet, as I swear I'll never let this kind of thing happen in my house again, I still look back at it and find the gem. The gem? Yes. The wonderful awareness that even now I can exercise self control and spiritual strength. No, not perfectly, but isn't that part of being a grown-up too? Accepting that I don't have to be perfect?

Forgiveness. Accepting that nobody is perfect, and everybody is doing the best they can with whatever tools they have in their own toolboxes. That being said, I sure as hell wish some people had a few more tools to work with.....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

plagues of all sorts





How can I write when looking at a sign warning of plague? For that matter, how can I write when I'm this tired? Their plane was supposed to get in at 11:30 last night; it was almost two hours late. We pulled up in the no parking lane, knowing that most of the time if we stay with our car and aren't causing a problem with other cars, we're free to wait. It was one fricking thirty in the morning when we were asked to move. There was no traffic, and maybe a half dozen other cars up and down the parking lane. Meaning absolutely no problem. Mike just texted that they retrieved their luggage from the carousel and were on their way out. The guy presented us with a ticket anyway. Sigh. The only thing that makes sense is they were reacting to the unfortunate news out of Ferguson.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

standing in the middle of things


My descendants, far in the future, will likely encounter life forms, hopefully sentient, on other worlds.

My ancestors, far in the past, likely thought the earth was flat, or was the center of the universe, or was built on the back of a turtle.

It's all good. It's all awesome. It's all flow.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

the door



what if there's a door
that you can see anytime you choose
but you can't see if you're absorbed in seeing what's in front of you?

what if that door sits on the sidelines
hoping you notice it
but doesn't impose itself on your daily life

what if you only see it in your dreams
nightdreams or daydreams
and then you notice it
and know that it's always been nearby
waiting for you to want to go through it
into another world
a real world
tucked into this real world
a world of hope, of dreams, of creativity
of soul
of vision
of expanded completion

Thursday, November 20, 2014

old age



Obama presented his executive action plans for immigration tonight, and against my better judgment, I went over to facebook and saw the rantings of one of my very conservative "friends". Wow. You'd think the sky would be falling.

He reminds me of my grandmother who lived with us until she died. Toward the end of her life, she carried on about how the world was coming to an end, or maybe our country was coming to an end, can't really remember. I figured out that HER life was coming to an end, and she was projecting outward. So too my conservative friend, I think. He is somewhat old and is caregiver to his wife who is bedridden with MS. He sees destruction wherever he looks, especially when he looks at our country, and more precisely, when he looks at democrats, and to put a fine point on it, whenever he considers Barak Obama.

And that reminds me of our beloved elderly aunt, just turned 93. She dislikes Obama. She admits it's because he's black. Well, at least she's honest.

That's enough of a reason to be glad nobody lives forever. I can love them, forgive them, yet be thankful they don't get to spew their ignorance and hatred forever.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

spectacularly blue



Little things become big things as I age. Yesterday's snowfall was spectacular. I spent a fair amount of time cruising from window to window to window, taking it all in, watching the sky change from clouds to sun, watching the clouds forming and reforming as they sailed lazily across the sky...
Will I ever see another snowfall as beautiful as this one? Will I even see another winter? So I drink it all in, seeing and tasting and smelling and feeling and loving in case this one is the one I will always remember. Wise persons say to do this always anyway, to live in the present moment. Of course. But it is always so easy to fall into the fragmentation of the busy life I continue to live. That, too, is a spectacular thing, to have so many responsibilities and interests at this stage of my life.

And yet. Just to be present to the color of blue in the sky...

...and to the Carolina wren at the feeder today. All year we haven't seen any wrens, yet today, in the bitter cold, there was a chubby little wren. I wonder if wrens see the color blue...

So why would I share a picture of a dragonfly surrounded by green? Because it bubbled up to the surface of my pic file. That's all. And I wonder if the dragonfly sees the color green? Would it rest on the plant if the plant were blue? 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

both/and



A swarm.
A herd.
Can we be anything else? There are so many of us...homo sapiens, that is...that seen from a distance, the viewer is unable to make out our individual differences.

And yet, up close, the differences practically slap us in the face.

Both. The hard part is to embrace both extremes at the same time. Yet we are both extremes. Seen as the multitude, the life path of any one individual is unimportant. Seen up close, the life path is extremely important - at least to that one individual.

Wisdom, it seems, means we do indeed embrace both extremes. And insanity happens when we can only embrace one. Maybe insanity is too strong a word. Maybe unhealthy is a better word.

When we consider any other animal population,  we understand that in order for the herd to remain strong, it sometimes means culling the weakest members. We welcome the return of wolves that keep the elk herds in check.

Sooooo.....how does that apply to us? Is that even a real question? I don't know.

Friday, November 14, 2014

right time



We're home again. We made one of our occasional trips to visit with the oldest living family member on either side of the family (that we know of) - a 92 year old aunt. It's always a long day, starting with a two and a half hour drive, and, of course, ending with that same drive in the opposite direction. At night. I know she needed to see us, I do care about her, but I wasn't looking forward to the day anyway. Good thing duty and responsibility takes priority...

We sat in Panera for lunch, talking back and forth about odds and ends. I don't know who said what to open the door to what happened next, but thank goodness that door opened. I shared with her about my own mother's last week; the week when we all knew she was intimately involved in the dying process. I told her about hospice care, and their emphasis, not on preserving life, but in making death comfortable. Aunt Florence's relief was palpable. She almost became a different person. And then we discussed medical power of attorney and DNRs. I guess what helped her was knowing she wasn't powerless in the process she knows is probably in her near future. I've wanted to share at this level for some time, but I also know there's a right time...and a wrong time. This was the right time. She told me she will sleep well tonight, something she hasn't been able to do in a long, long, long, long time.

Thanks be to timing and doors.

Monday, November 10, 2014

complete



We did it. Got it finished and bottled. We two, who don't agree on almost anything, with our two brains that continually run at cross purposes to each other, who talk to each other in English that still seems like two different languages, we did it anyway. No spilled beer. No broken bottles. Finished. With smiles. Will we do this again? Of course! But first we wait. Wait for two weeks for the carbonation to take place in the bottles, then refrigerate those babies for a nice cold drink just in time for Thanksgiving.
Life is good, at least locally.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

working on it...



still bummed about the election
almost frozen in the bumness of it
angry
angry at greed
at willful ignorance
at manipulation with fear
somehow angry at myself, too
for allowing myself to get sucked into the politics game
guilty
guilty because I'm not doing anything to help rectify the situation

but I'd have to know what to do to help rectify...
rectify what?
I'm not going to do the door to door thing
and I'm not going to do the phone bank thing.
been there. done that.

I need to go sit on the moon for a spell
and watch the unfolding of the development of homo sapiens
against the background fabric of the universe itself


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

the day after



The day after elections. Again, I watch helplessly as the people vote against their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of future generations. Mostly, I'm thinking about climate change, and the science challenged folks who have been elected into office.

It's like getting caught in a remedial math class when I've already mastered the fundamentals of trigonometry. Actually, it's worse than that. In that class I'd only be bored.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday night



Friday night. A good Friday night. Peaceful. Nothing deep or mind boggling; just...a good Friday night.  The trick-or-treaters have been out, though only a bit; a cold rain kept a lot of them inside. One little guy cried when our front porch set-up frightened him, but his gramma was right there, so it ended ok.
And my neighbor frightened me! That was cool. I had opportunities to do good things for a couple of people, and that always ends up making me feel good. So that's it, folks. Some days are roller coasters of emotions, some are crazy mind scrambling busy, but tonight was just a good Friday night.
Peace out...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

going with the flow



Going with the flow...
Seems like my path is made up of several smaller flowing parts. Guessing that's the case for all of us. And it also seems like I'm not aware of jumping into a subcurrent until it becomes a whitewater adventure.
Case in point: the little neighbor boy who fell in love with a doll I had made. Which opened the door for me to provide a safe place for him to indulge in his love of dolls...because I love them, too.
That, of course, led me to consider his twin brother, for whom I made a stuffed snake per his request.
And that led to the neighbor girl who frequently played with the twins, and she wanted to make a doll when she discovered that the doll Zach had was one I had made. And now Alaina and I are making dolls. And, of course, I can't ignore the twins' older brother, who already thinks I walk on water. So now Aidan and I are making God's eyes. There are now four little and medium sized kids who get to come over here and let their imaginations run wild. That's cool. I can't do much about the ocean of maliciousness and ignorance that seems to be part of the world we live in. But I can encourage and celebrate the natural creativity of a handful of children in the small little current that is my own life.

Perhaps that little current, combined with the kid's life currents, can pollute the larger body of water with creativity and joy. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

problem solved



I haven't written much lately. Some depression has been oozing into my life. Why? Who knows. Aging, perhaps. Recognizing that there are some limitations, now, as to what I can do, what I can expect to do in the future, how much future there is for me in the first place...you probably know the drill. And then guilt crept in, because this is a silly depression, given the serious problems people have on all parts of the globe. I don't have those problems; I have food, clean water, a comfortable bed, a roof over my head, a healthy family. I also have five gallons of beer maturing downstairs, but that's another story.

I woke up in the middle of the night to make a necessary visit to the john, and getting back into bed, those thoughts starting swirling around. Thoughts that generated sadness, guilt, anger.

And then, I remembered. My thoughts are not me. They belong to me, but they aren't me. Some of them are whispers and shadows of monsters from earlier in my life; monsters I have faced and tamed.

My thoughts are not me. Good. And then I fell into a deep sleep, and today the beginning depression is gone. Whew! It still sucks having age related physical limitations, but now I can laugh about it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

99 bottles of beer on the wall



Ok, not quite that. More like 48 bottles. And not on the wall. Lets not get sidetracked with details.

We siphoned the mort (fancy word for not quite beer) into the carboy (fancy word for jug). Sorry. I've got to learn to use these words. You get to bear with me. I tasted it; it's already tasty and smoooooth. Nice. I put the airlock back on, and now I ignore it for two weeks.

On to other things: I got hold of some human hair from a barber, and tossed some in the garden to scare off the deer. I've got a dozen butternut squash trying to ripen before first frost, and the deer have munched on one - the ripest one - and I want them to leave the rest of the squashes alone.  Squashes. Is that a real word?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

done



The deed is done.

I was nervous about starting the brewing process. It was new. Timing was important. The equipment is rather large. And heavy. And what if I screwed up five gallons of beer?? But each fear was dealt with, and now I'm done; weary, wiser, and content.

The first hurdle was hefting five gallons of liquid, which is about 40 pounds. No, I can't handle that, but reading closer, I saw the work was done on 2.5 gallons, with the other 2.5 gallons of water added at the end. So good. I tested my ability to lift 2.5 gallons, and yes, I could do that, with some grunting...

The boiling process was precise, and the instructions were quite clear, so we got that done, adding first one thing, then another, then another, all at specific times within the boiling process.

The cooling process was problematic. The suggestion was to cool as quickly as possible, so I followed the directions to put the brew kettle in the sink with ice water. I used up all the ice in the freezer, and it still wasn't down to desired temperature. What to do? Well, it was cool outdoors, so outdoors is where it finished cooling, with a lid on, of course, which slowed down the cooling, but who wants bird and bug poop in their beer!

Then the final steps, when the rest of the water is added. So I brought the brew downstairs, set everything up, and added the rest of the water a little bit at a time, testing the brew with the hydrometer each time until the reading was correct. Yep. Five gallons. That what they said, that's what I got. Now only one thing left to do...add the yeast. But where the flip is the yeast? Upstairs, downstairs, back upstairs, look in all the likely places, back downstairs to see if it got stuck in one of the buckets, back upstairs again, and now I'm thinking I'll have to make a quick run to the store to buy more yeast. Did I put it in early by mistake? I went through the trash, looking for a telltale yeast envelope. Nope. Good. And then I found it. So the yeast was put in and stirred, and all I had to do was put the lid on the brew bucket. But it was at shoulder level, and I didn't have the strength to pound it down. Stood on a chair, still couldn't. So ran over to a neighbor, borrowed their man muscles, and got the job done. Whew!

While I was at it, I racked the peach wine with my handy dandy siphon pump.

Clean up was a bear. Five and six gallon containers are not easy to deal with in the sink. But that, too, is done.

All this while George was in Cincinnati with his chorus for their regional competition. Turns out they placed third. As George said, they got their asses handed to them. I understand what he means, but for the life of me I don't understand the concept. I guess it's a guy thing. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

day after day after day



Tomorrow is brew day. It will be an adventure!

But today is a good day, too. Mike and Marti are now married. We'll get to see them over Thanksgiving, by mutual agreement.

Also, I now have four little neighbor kidlets who come over and we do crafts together. They love it, as do I. I take them one at a time, so we can have some quality one on one. The first one designed a doll dress; the second one designed a snake, the third one designed a god's eye, and the fourth one will help make a doll.

And yesterday was also a good day. I finally screwed up the courage to have my birthday suit checked. I thought it would be agonizingly embarrassing, but it was not. Not at all. Results? I'm in damned good shape. Not bad for this old broad, eh?

What I haven't done lately is ride my bike or do some photography. But I guess we can't do everything all the time. I'm grateful to have so many things I love to do!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

beer will be made



Here's the stuff. As soon as I can count on an uninterrupted 3 hours or so, and with the assurance that George will be here to do any heavy lifting, beer will be made. Heavy lifting? Five gallons might be a bit hefty for me to move; we'll see. The nice thing is...in the initial kit there are things useful to my winemaking, too. The beer will be a light beer, one I know I'll like. After that, we'll see what recipes I'll try, and, after I get used to it, what recipes I'll invent. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

brew



I'm back from class...brew class, that is. I've got the equipment and ingredients to make a light beer. We'll see how this latest project turns out. Other than that, nothing much is happening.





Friday, October 10, 2014

chiggers, Noah, and rainbows



The best part of the day was when my brother called. He had read about my bites, and guessed they were chiggers. I had been suspicious.

So why the eff are there chiggers in the first place? And you know what's insane? I did some reading about them, and it was suggested we not scratch the itch. Seriously? The only way I could NOT scratch that horrific itch would be if I didn't have hands. Shit. I woke up once at night and one foot was scratching the other foot just for relief from the itch.

The next time I encounter a fundamentalist who believes in the Bible literally and knows Noah built the ark, I'm gonna ask that person how in the hell they think Noah collected two chiggers. Tell me. If you were Noah and had ever been bitten by a chigger, would you actually make sure you brought two onto the ark? For that matter, fleas, bedbugs, hornets, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, ticks, scorpions,  just to name a few. Did he build itty bitty cages for them? Sheesh.

If it were my story, it wouldn't be because humans had become evil, it would be because God screwed up. He screwed up by creating these mini monsters in the first place. So when he walked in the garden of Eden, he got bitten by chiggers. And after a spell, after encountering some of these other awful critters with absolutely no redeeming ecological, economic, or cultural value, He owned up to his mistake, texted Noah, and said "Hey Noah! I gotta get rid of these pests, so I'm gonna flood the planet. I'll give you time to build a ship as big as you want to keep whatever animals and people you think are worth saving. But please hurry. I don't want to go another year scratching the bejeebers out of these bites." So Noah did. And when the flooding was done, God hung that rainbow in the sky to celebrate all the gay people he created and were invited onto the ark. See? Those sourpuss fundamentalists got the story all wrong. Mine's better. More inclusive and loving. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

share your stories



You know what's funny? Besides clowns? (Which aren't always funny, but that's beside the point.)
What's funny is blog counters. I have installed one, and it says I get between 0 and 5 hits daily. But the blog counter itself, run by google, says I get between 50 and 100 - not necessarily on one day, but it counts the hits per page. Is somebody having a decimal point problem?

But it doesn't matter. I don't write to see how many people like my writing. Curious? Sure! But I write for other reasons. At the end of the day, it helps me focus on what really mattered during the day. And, it gives me a chance to work on my writing skills. At the end of the day, what really stood out in the day? That's what's worth writing about, remembering, dissecting. finding hidden or deeper meaning. If the muse wakes up, then the poetic or wandering wonderer will write, but lately it's just been little ol' me, talking about the day.

So what about today?
I walked out to the garden and compost bin and nothing bit me.
A friend and I talked about what will happen to our bodies when we die.
Two customers stopped by to get their dresses. One went home happy. The other needs a bit of tweaking, but she went home happy, too.
The wine at my left hand is good. And gone.

But back to my original comments. We all want to be noticed, right? One way or another? Affirmed that we actually exist and matter? At the same time, we're curious about each other. Which is why I write, and why you read it. Now. All of you anonymous readers...do your own writing. You have stories inside you. Every customer who comes in...when they tell me what they do for a living...and I comment they could probably write a book about some of the things that go on with their job...they all roll their eyes and say "oh yes". So. Dammit. Write your book. Or blog. Share your stories! 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

creepies and crawlies



What kind of monster is lurking in my garden? Every time I go out there something bites me on my feet. In the beginning, I didn't connect visits to the garden with the foot bites. I first wondered if it were bedbugs, but common sense said no, not that. Not trusting common sense, I tore apart the bedroom, and found no evidence. Next up. Spiders? Tiny spiders that may have built a web home near my computer desk? Where I often sit barefoot? No, not that. Swept the bejeebers under the table, still got bites. Critters in my shoes? Nixed that. Sprayed the insides with bug spray. Still got bites.
I knew they weren't mosquitos, bees, wasps, or fleas. I'm familiar with those bites. These weren't them.
And then I connected bites with visits to the garden. Squash vines are surrounding my compost bin, and I have to wade through then to dump the compost. The leaves are about 6" high, and all kinds of mosnters could lurk under them.  I always wore shoes, by the way. When I didn't go out there, I didn't get bit. By the way, I never felt the bites; only the itching, and several hours later. Lordy those things itched!

So today's experiment. I slathered SkinSoSoft on both feet, put on shoes and socks, and sauntered out to the garden.Nervous, I stomped on the leaves where I needed to stand to deposit compost. Several hours later, no evidence of bites.

On the subject of critters...I made a snake for one of my neighbor's boys. His brother was the one who wanted the doll, but he isn't inclined in that direction. We decided on a snake. He chose the fabric. Yesterday he got his snake, and I'm told he held onto it for the entire day. I didn't think he'd do that, but he did, and now we're buds. I love that. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

a different kind of consumerism



The internet. I can't imagine life without it. Well, that's a little strong. All I have to do is remember life not too many years ago. I love having access to so much information, now that I've learned how to evaluate the quality of that information. The problem is...I'm interested in too many things! And there's so much worth learning! And so much art to see and appreciate!

When I encounter someone who has taken a different life path, such as doctor, forest ranger, professional musician, financial advisor, engineer, research scientist, environmentalist...I almost always think that I want to do that, too, in my next life. If there is a next life.

The deeper problem is this: I can easily spend the day absorbing information, knowledge, wisdom generated by others, and am enriched because of that. But that means I haven't got off my butt and contributed my own information, knowledge, wisdom. So that would make me a mere consumer. Yikes! 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

soul growth



We were invited to a show yesterday evening, with Steve's quartet as the guest quartet. At the after party, we got to hear them again. I have to say this: they could sing color into a black and white world. Sure, Steve's my son, but it's a lot more than that. When they are on stage, their singing spirits are with us in the audience, sitting with us, clowning around, singing to our hearts. There is no ego left up on the stage. All four guys are like that. So many words I could say to describe them. I'll just make one more comment. When we got home and I went to bed, I dreamed some of the most empowering dreams I've ever had in my life. Yes, they do encourage my soul to grow.


Friday, October 03, 2014

life



Speaking of dying...
today might be the day
for the summer garden, that is.

It is 70 degrees now, dropping to 40 degrees tonight. Other than the lovely garlic harvest earlier this year, the tomatoes and peppers were a glorious bust. Deer. They decimated the garden, and I didn't have the wherewithall to stop them.

On the other hand, I composted the innards of a butternut squash at some earlier time, and now I have squash vines surrounding my compost bins, with at least a dozen squash ripening.

 I guess I'll take a lesson from that. Nature finds a way to keep life going. At least until the sun novas or the asteroid hits us. But even then. If the earth disappears, as one day we know it will, the materials will be strewn throughout the local universe to eventually coalesce into another sun, or planet, and perhaps life will begin again. Just think! My atoms will be part of that renewal! Of course, those atoms that I called mine actually belonged elsewhere before they coalesced into me...

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

one day



one day I will die
maybe something good awaits me
or maybe simply...
nothing
the same nothing
from my point of view
that existed before
my birth
I won't know until it's my time
or not.
it's ok
how hard can dying be?
people die every day
even babies die
without taking dying lessons
so I guess I'll get through it ok.

I'm not depressed
nor morbid
just interested
and sometimes it feels good
to talk about it
because dying is not a disease
it is a passage

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

not gods



This is somebody else's story.

I had not seen her for probably two years. She's a client, and I see her when she needs alterations. But here she was, across the workroom table, telling me her story. She had cancer; non Hodgkins lymphoma. I am unfortunately quite familiar with that cancer. I asked her how it was found, knowing it isn't always found easily. She had been to her doctor and complained of shoulder and neck pain. He had her x-rayed, and when they didn't find anything, he referred her to a pain specialist. At least he did that and didn't tell her it was just old age, or in her head, or some such. But she didn't go to a pain specialist. She wanted to know what was causing the pain. Her next appointment was to her gynecologist; not for her shoulder, of course, but for other...routine stuff. She mentioned her shoulder pain. He had her get an MRI. And then another. And then he referred her to an oncologist. It turned out she had four significant tumors, none of which, fortunately, had adhered to any internal organs. Her shoulder pain? One of them was pressing against her spinal cord. After several months of chemo, she's now cancer free. Imagine if she'd taken her first doctor's advice and simply went to the pain specialist. Maybe the pain specialist would have explored further, but what if not?

Doctors aren't gods. They don't need to be obeyed without question. I'm glad Diane insisted on being on her own health care team. She's alive because of that.

And, she'll get her blouse back in two weeks. May she have many years in which to enjoy it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

dolls



A little kindergarten boy went to bed very happy tonight. He likes dolls, and he borrowed one of mine. I asked him if he'd like to help me design some other clothes for her, and he picked out a fabric. Today I called him and asked if he'd come on over. I think he got to my door before the telephone line went dead! He has the doll again with her new dress, and I just got a tearful note from his mom. Gratitude. His style is safe with me. Besides. I like dolls too!