Ponder this:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seven Good Things in no particular order

  1. Lying in bed and having a small poodle nestle his warm body against one's slightly arthritic lower back.
  2. Finally clearing up a pile of things dropped in one spot for moving elsewhere "later." I have an antique student desk at the foot of the stairway. It's in a little nook and the perfect place to drop things for later travel upstairs. Except that things seem to grow roots there. Yesterday I bestirred myself to clear out the whole mess.
  3. Listening to a Great Horned Owl calling out there in the dark.
  4. Being in the middle of a book that wants me to come back to it.
  5. Seeing all three animals cavorting and exercising their instincts. All of us outdoors. In complete comfort. In late November.
  6. Knowing that I need not go out among the maddened Shoppers who are armed with pepper spray and worse.
  7. Sitting and conversing with Husband about news stories or acquaintances or the tractor. Such comfort.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Saturday

A fairly recent phenomenon: I often wake myself up talking to my dream companions. Husband told me the other morning he could hear me singing in my sleep. He didn't recognize the melody, he said, "but it was tuneful," a choice of words that made me laugh. As I poured my coffee and fed the dogs I had Helen Reddy singing Delta Dawn rattling around in my head. I never cared much for that song; it's hard to believe that, in my sleep, having no one but myself to please, I would choose to sing it.

Thanksgiving Day
A smaller group this year than on any holiday in recent years, but what a combo. Husband invited friend Joe, I invited friend Barb. They'd never met and I had a great deal of fun watching them preen for each other. 
Barb brought her dog Moby with her and Angus, who, you will recall, loves new friends, did his best to drive his guest mad with attention. Moby is an elderly, gentlemanly dog, however, and finally, after increasingly stern admonitions, made it clear that he preferred to watch undistracted for falling food. Angus stood back, tail all a-twitchet, quivering with happiness, but . . . back.
Food holidays belong to Husband and he is always extremely ambitious with his array of menu items. It's a family tradition that something gets forgotten. Usually it's the bread or rolls; this year it was the cranberry sauce. Practically treasonous, isn't it, to forget the cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving? But there it is,  still sitting virginally untouched in the fridge. 
I put away almost more food than we put out. We really have to talk about downsizing his offerings. He thinks maybe it's time to begin dining out on Thanksgiving. Fine with me. I'll be days cleaning and putting away every dish and cooking pan and utensil we own. And that was for four people.
By the time we got to dessert . . . two pies, a two-layer carrot cake, and cookies . . . I was nearly passing out from food overload. Most of the sweets are still nearly intact and I happily nibble between dishwasher loads. 

The weather is unbelievable. When have we ever had such a stretch of sunny, near-sixty-degree days in November? I adore it; I am out walking more now than I was when it was Official Good Weather time. 
Yesterday I thought I had lost my camera. I looked upstairs and down, in all the places where I put things so I won't forget where they are. It was in none of those places. Aha! There it was, among the Keurig cups on the kitchen counter! Who would not have looked there first? I'm just relieved to have it back again. I thought the gremlins (or that goddamn Jim D---- . . . a story for another time) had taken it. 

Late on Thursday evening I was once again reading about the benefits of apple cider vinegar. One site advised that if you drink water all day long, it's as well to add a splash of vinegar at every fill-up rather than add two teaspoons in one "dose." I tried the "adding a splash at every fill-up" yesterday. I do not recommend it. I needed a Pepcid at bedtime, which altogether defeats the purpose of the vinegar.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Damn the peppers!

Who needs peppers for clearing out the sinuses? The fresh horseradish in Husband's shrimp cocktail sauce did the trick.
I have the sensation!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Clearing out the sinuses

The week before last, Husband went to New Jersey and brought back a head cold. He stayed home and slept for half the week. On just the day he announced that he was feeling better, I began to sniffle, and took a day and a half off from work to tip over into sleep. Our household has, for the last couple of weeks, been a house of sleeping shifts.
This New Jersey cold seems relatively painless. It knocked out each of us for seventy-two hours and now sits quietly in our sinuses, not dripping, not hurting, just there. It did not sneak down into my bronchi and morph into a chest cold. You can't imagine how grateful I am for that favor.
Over the weekend I made a pot of chili con carne. I wanted it very very spicy hot. I bought fresh jalapeno peppers and chopped up several of them, making sure to throw in every seed. It fell short of my hopes. It was very tasty chili but it did not sear the linings of my sinuses, making it necessary for me to hold a paper towel at my nostrils while I ate. 
Sunday evening I baked russet potatoes for supper with a little buffet of various toppings, one of which was chopped fresh jalapeno pepper. With the seeds. Delicious. But still not paper-towel-at-the-nostrils material.
Perhaps what I need is to stuff the peppers with potato and eat that.

A friend recommends Ponaris, which for some reason I keep remembering as Peloponnesus. I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer to keep experimenting with food.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

News flash: Bad things happen to children

I was sixteen. My sister was away at college. 
My mother had started going to meetings of Parents Without Partners. My sister and I were pleased with that development. Mom had never been a joiner, and it was a relief to know that she was getting out and about with people. It was a great improvement over her sitting at the diningroom table drinking and playing solitaire. I didn't know what the point of the organization was, but it was, apparently, a sort of dating service.
So Mom met this man and she went on a date with him. I think he came to the door to be introduced to me and they left. I watched television and went to bed. I woke up to hear some clumsy noises on the stairs . . . giggling and tripping. The man had brought my very drunk mother home, got her upstairs and poured her into bed. She passed out and he went downstairs. I stayed in bed for a few minutes, but I didn't like the idea that he was downstairs alone in our house. So I got up, in my little flowered jersey nightgown, and I went downstairs.
The lights were on. He was sitting on our couch. I perched on the edge of a chair. I wanted him to go. I didn't want him to be hanging around. We didn't have anything that he would steal, but I didn't like him there unsupervised in our home at midnight. 
He and I conversed. I think I got him a cup of coffee. He glossed over the drunk mother part: Your mom had a little too much to drink. I said that that was not an infrequent occurrence. He noticed my high school picture on a side table.
"Is that you?"
I nodded.
"Do you know what I see in that face? ...in that chin?"
"I see . . . determination."
I liked that observation. I felt flattered. I probably made one of those noncommittal indecisive head and shoulder motions that sixteen-year-olds are wont to make.
"May I kiss you?" he asked me.
I thought for a minute. I didn't know how to say no, or indeed, why I should. A kiss isn't a terrible thing in and of itself. "Okay," I said. 
So, anyway, he kissed me. On the lips. It was a pretty chaste kiss. He didn't lean me over or mash his mouth into mine, but it lasted longer than I felt comfortable with, and he was all trembly. It was creepy, and I withdrew and said I thought he'd better go.
He thanked me and, shortly after, got up and left.
I locked the door and went back to bed.
I didn't tell my mother. Mom couldn't handle troubling news.

A year or so before, I hadn't told her that the assistant manager at the cafeteria where I worked after school had taken me into the walk in cooler, his regular choice of trysting places. What with the surprise of it all, the short notice, the nerves, our meeting was just a lot of writhing and sweating, no actual sexual activity, but our few minutes' absence from the rest of the closing crew was noted. His old girlfriend, an older woman of seventeen, was jealous. I was fifteen and flattered. 
He was forty-two.

When I was fourteen I was sure I was pregnant. At breakfast one morning I broke down in tears and shared that fear with my mother. "That isn't possible," she said. "You haven't done anything that would make you pregnant. Do you know what happens to make you pregnant?"
It was 1965. What world did she think I was living in?
She stood up and hugged me. She was shaking. She pressed her hand against my body and said, "There's nothing in there. There's nothing in there." A few days later I knew that I was not pregnant. 
That was all we said about that. 

So I guess my point is that probably most kids have experiences that we would all be scandalized to know about. Adults have probably been hitting on kids for as long as there have been adults and kids. I don't think it's particularly healthy or recommended as a way for people to live, but it happens. Adults don't always have the best interests of children at heart, just the way no human always has the best interests of any other human at heart. Adults are not always trustworthy with children, just the way people, in general, are not always trustworthy, period.
I think it's too bad that adults are afraid to touch children who need a hug. Maybe if kids could get hugs when they want them, they wouldn't be so ready to take them from people who shouldn't give them.
It is Sunday at 4:37am and I am awake and growing drowsy. One of the reasons I love to get up in the wee hours is the fuzzy foggy fading that precedes my return to bed and the floating return to sleep. Ah, going back to sleep is one of my life's great pleasures. 
One morning I toddled back to my pillows with chilly toes. I arranged myself among my pillows, pulled the covers up to my ears, made sure my nose was well out into the air. My drift off to sleep was plagued by those cold toes. "I wish I'd fall asleep!" I thought. "My feet always warm up when I fall asleep." 
My consciousness had nearly gone away when a wave of warmth rolled over me from shoulders to feet. It felt just like a bolt of warm cloth moving down my body, enshrouding me in pure deep comfort. It felt so good that I smiled into my pillow, there all by myself, and the thought came to me: "I bet this is how it feels when you die."
Wouldn't it be just something, and not the least bit surprising, to find out that dying feels good?

I read something long ago that pointed out that the human body is designed to enjoy everything that it has to do. The functions required for ongoing life feel good. Eating, sleeping, digestive functions . . . they all feel good. It would make sense that dying would feel good. Not the getting ready to die: I don't mean that. I mean the final moment . . . the giving up of life. 
Maybe it feels good.
Maybe in the last seconds, there is a flash of, "What was I so scared of?"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday evening

It's so nice to have people reading my ramblings and thinking, "Oh, me too!" It is nice, isn't it? Or does it indicate that I never have an original thought? That idea bothers me far less than it would have when I was younger. Especially now that I've reached nearly the middle of Sarum. Believe me: Excepting the occasional interpersonal kindness there is nothing any one of us can do that will amount to a hill of beans a hundred years from now. The things that take up so much of our thought . . . wars, standing stones, wildly successful careers or the lack thereof . . . well, perhaps not standing stones, since I hardly ever think about them . . .  in a hundred years nobody will even know what any of it was about.

It's been an incredibly mild and warm weekend, and I've spent a good deal of time outdoors. 
This afternoon I went around and picked up every one of the solar lights that I put out at the beginning of the Warm Time. About a quarter of the things have stopped working. Maybe the solar batteries have worn out or maybe there isn't enough sun these days to charge them. I put all but two of them into the cardboard box in which they arrived, and put the box in the barn. It was dark enough inside the box that almost all of them began to glow. I closed the flaps so that the light wouldn't escape enough to creep me out should I go out there after dark. The two that I did not put away are on either side of the front door. I like the way they look, and now that it's dark by 5:00pm they'll give me a clue where the house is when I get home from work.

In response to comments:

  • School taxes are just another kind of property tax . . . a percentage of the value (as judged by the town assessor and his board) of one's home. School tax bills are sent out by the school district or by the school district's agent (a bank) and the funds  are for use by the school district, as distinct from regular old property taxes which pay for everything else.
  • Those pictures are House-And-Barn. One property, two buildings. Three if you count the little garden shed . . . the red thing in the pictures with the poodles.
  • We have the boyz trimmed in the very most practical and comfortable cuts we can get. Angus gets close-cropped because he's chubby and has silky hair that grows into mats; Max's body grows weekly thinner and he needs extra wool to help keep him from being shivery. So they both look round and roly-poly, but only one of them is. I had to trim Max's bangs yesterday because they were getting so long that they were irritating his eyes. Now he looks like an opossum. It isn't his best look, but he's more comfortable.
  • Where neighbors are close enough to wander across a property line, there would be fences. Here where we hardly see a neighbor from one month to the next, and then only as we wave happily . . . they enjoying their morning walk while my vehicle careens down the hill past them on my way to work . . . we leave it to big fields to provide insulation.

It's Sunday evening.
Eight workdays until the Thanksgiving holiday.
Let the countdown begin.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Random thoughts early on a Saturday morning

I am horrified and incensed at the number of people who seem intelligent and engaged with the world who do not vote. 
I know somebody who was running for local office (she lost) and her list of eligible voters revealed that an alarming number of people are not even registered to vote, and that many registered voters never vote. I just can't believe it. With all the brouhaha that goes on about politics . . . everybody I meet seems to have an opinion and why wouldn't they all since opinions are like that other thing that everybody has . . . and a lot of these yahoos don't step foot into their local polling places. 

Woolly bear caterpillars are apparently more of a weather predictor than I ever imagined. I used to work with a man who knew how to read them, or said he did. He would look at one and say, "See? It's going to be an early winter!"
And I'd look and say, "Hunh!"
I don't remember if the following winter turned out to be early or not.
I can't remember two months ago. 
I just remember that I love the light and warm months and I'm sleepy in the dark and cold months and that's how I go on. I might as well be a prehistoric woman. 
Except that I vote. 
Every time.

A friend of mine, years ago, told a bunch of mutual friends that I had not repaid a small debt to her. I had repaid the debt, not an hour, not a half hour, after having incurred it. You know . . . that slander bothers me so much that I think about it in the middle of the night. When I learned of it, it was a long time after the event . . . so long that I didn't know what in the world she was talking about. By the time I remembered, so much more time had elapsed that it seems small of me to be so bothered by it. Let it go, I tell myself, but here I am.

Husband traveled for a good part of last week. I loved it. I made noise in the middle of the night, I ate odd combinations of food, I slept and rose at odd (even odder than usual) hours. Right up until he drove in the driveway I was thinking how nice it would be to have a husband who paid the bills and dropped in once every week or so. The minute he was home, the air felt more comfortable, colors seemed to have more depth, my body felt more comfortable. Everything got . . . right . . . and I hadn't even known I was off kilter.

There is a slight coating of snow on the stone wall, on the picnic table in the front yard. It's supposed to be a sunny Saturday, so it will go away. And Sunday's forecast is "mostly sunny," so that's good. And then the whole week falls apart into gray wet mush. I need to get my snow tires on before the gray wet mush becomes white fluffy mush.

I am reading Sarum and enjoying it. It is so long that it might be the last book I ever read. And the print in the 1100+ page paperback is so small that I might lose my sight before the last page. But it's a story that rolls right along. It reminds me of a social studies book I had when I was in fourth grade. It was about the Piedmont region of the US and was narrated by the children of a family who lived there. My sister ridiculed it: "My social studies books are history books, not storybooks like that one!" I'll bet I remember more about the contents of my "storybook" than she does of her dry old histories of which she was so proud. I do just fine learning my history from stories: nearly all of what I know of World War II is from having read The Winds of War.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I am restored.

The beautiful and sunny weekend restored me.
Angus and Max poodled around among the fruit trees.
You can just see Angus' little sprout of a tail at the left among the shrub branches.

Angus is subject to sudden bursts of joyful Run Back To Mom energy.

Max realized that now he was down there all by himself . . . 

. . . and trudged back up the lawn.

The wood man dropped off two cords of firewood. 
We're all set for this winter and next; this represents future warmth and security.
Two more loads will come before winter sets in for real.

Husband called Neighbor Farmer: "Does your kid want to stack some wood?"
The young man, in his early teens and therefore eager to establish himself as strong and able, 
will be along this week to stack all that. 
Farm kids are the best.

Husband puttered with other things. 
I wandered up the field and took pictures.

I hardly ever go up in that direction. It certainly offers a different perspective.
It makes us look like Little House on the Prairie folk.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend. At last.

I have written lyrical, pretty prosey posts. This is not one of those.
I am so glad it's the weekend I could plotz.

For most of the week . . . no, for all of the week, I wrestled with one of the cops' "times used" in order to get it right for reimbursement from the workers compensation insurer. He got his finger broken while subduing an evildoer on June 13, and came back to work on September 8. What with hours used from accumulated Comp time, Holiday time, Personal time, Vacation time, Sick time, and 36 hours one week and 44 hours the next week to make several two-week, eighty-hour pay periods, the project just about drove me around the bend. It's about as done now as I can get it. If I have to go back at it again on Monday I might have to cry or vomit or just get up and come home. Or go to the bus station and wait for the next Greyhound no matter where it's going.
My right eyelid is red and puffy.  Just the lid, not the eyeball. I believe it is the fault of my makeup or my facial cleanser having gotten into my eye. This happened before and it healed itself in a few days.  At that time I determined not to use the cleanser around my eyes and not to overdo the makeup too close to the lash line. I broke both of those rules and the next day? You guessed it. I went to work yesterday with my Quasimodo eye and no makeup, hoping somebody would say, "You look sick and should go home immediately." No one did. No one even noticed or mentioned it until I was walking out the door at 4:30. 
Did I mention I'm glad it's the weekend?

On the way home I stopped at the bank, withdrew funds to pay the school tax and put the check in the mail. It is due on Monday: perfect timing. Then I stopped and picked up a greasy delicious pepperoni and onion pizza for supper. At this rate, what care I about the numbers of my cholesterol and my bathroom scale? It is the weekend and it is all mine. Mine, mine . . . all mine. I even believe that the sun might shine. If I die before Monday, at least I will be current with my school taxes.