Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
On my way home to do the chores; feed the cats, bring in the trash container, and weed the garden, I stopped to pick-up the mail and I was pleasantly surprised to receive a package from Amazon. Enclosed was:
Faeries of Dreamdark. Blackbringer by Laini Taylor.
I preordered this book from Amazon a couple of months ago. Laini Taylor is One of the duo who started the Blog: Sunday Scribblings. A blog offering a weekly prompt by either herself or Megg Genge , to which contributors offer their responses in either prose or poetry.
I started reading the book last night after supper and read the first 5 chapters. Now that I'm hooked I'll have to finish it today. I haven't visited the faerie world in quite some time, probably not since LOR. I always enjoy those visits and this is no exception. Any book that can grab a young readers attention and hold it as this one does is just what I'm looking for.
I might say that it's almost as relaxing as a smooth water kayak ride. ;-)
Sunday, June 24, 2007
#65 - I have a secret...
I'm a professional hypnotist.
This is the symbol of a secret group I became a member of 3000 years ago, ( Ok, 3,181 years ago tomorrow.)
It's the secret society of secret holders.
We use the word secret as a lure. By saying "I'll tell you a secret," we titillate and stimulate interest. "Oh yes, please tell me. (I won't tell another soul, 'til later, and under threat of severe bodily harm.) Your secret's safe with me."
Pandora's box held dire secrets. Once opened, the secret loosed was lost.
Secrets are secret for a reason. Some are intended to be revealed down the road, such as a surprise birthday party. Some are to be taken to the grave. (Where is Jimmy Hoffa?)
Psssst! I do have a secret. Last night Doctor Lambed Kroner told me the exact winning numbers to next week's lottery. I'll tell you what they are. With whom will you share them?
This photo was taken in my secret place. If you guess the location correctly, I'll share the numbers with you! ;-)
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Adrift in a sea
With trepidation waiting
for someone to come along
To tell me what I've done wrong.
I'd rather be a hermit
Than listen to constant critique.
Storm clouds gather,
Thunder fills my world.
Yet it calms me so.
To be alone with nature
Labels: poetry thursday
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
During my adolescent growing-up years (14,15, & 16), I had a job working on a nearby farm. This was a great time in my life. My folks didn't have any extra money, so buying anything frivolous was out of the question, unless I earned the money myself. Not a bad concept when you think of it.
The main chore I was involved in was haying. I did other things, but only because I enjoyed being on the farm and soaking up the ambiance. Farm work is hard labor and I took to it like I was made for it. Cleaning the gutters was probably the only task that turned my stomach.
Haying season was during the months of June, July, and August, and that's when I earned the most money. I was paid a nickel a bale which seemed more than fair to me. I knew some kids who worked other farms, that only earned three cents a bale. I earned enough each summer to enable me to buy all my own clothes and shoes for school, plus a little extra. My mother would have provided these things for me, but durable and economical mother goods weren't the fashions I had in mind.
A side benefit of my time spent on the farm were the exploits that provided a lifetime of tales to tell. Some of these were the product of just plain mischief, while others were accidents that turned out ok in the end, and more were just humorous faux pas.
I've chosen the following story to tell because of an email I received yesterday from my son, J.;
"I think the story of when you lit the hay wagon on fire is a great one to put in your book!!!"
To clear up the misconception that I lit the hay wagon on fire is reason enough to retell the story. The ending though expensive, did finish with a comical remark
Ernie, the farmer and my employer, didn't own the farm. He owned the cows, but not the farm. He was only a few years older than me, maybe 8 or 9 and just out of the service. He wanted to be a farmer, but didn't have the funds or collateral to allow him to purchase a farmstead. So he rented and or leased the barn and sundry fields and pastures within a 5-6 mile radius. He actually lived in the city with his parents, just a block from my house. It was a workable arrangement and allowed him to put aside some money aside for the future, when he could have and own his own farm. Further demonstrating his frugality, he purchased old decrepit, but quite usable equipment. One of his two tractors was a 1950 Case which had four forward gears, only 3 of which worked. This tractor was a workhorse but slow; top speed on the highway was about 12 mph.
On this particular day, Joey, Ernie's 13 year old cousin, Ernie and yours truly were haying a field 5 miles from the barn and a half mile back off the main highway. It was 3:30-4:00 PM. We were finishing up a load with nearly 130 bales. This was quite a large load; normally a load would be 100 to 110 bales. I had loaded it and packed the bales tight. One of the traits Ernie admired in my15 year old self was my ability to build a tight load. Joey was the tractor driver, while Ernie and I traded off throwing bales on the wagon and building to load.
The reason for building such a large load was to try and get the field cleaned off. There were still enough bales left in the field that we would have to use a second wagon. Ernie tells us to take the full load back to the barn and that he will stay and finish up the remainder (probably 50-75 bales) by himself. He told us to go home for supper after parking the haywagon by the hay elevator, and that he would meet us back at the barn after supper to unload.
The seat on this particular tractor was constructed so that it could be slid forward for the driver to sit on or slid back to allow the driver to drive while standing. Off we go with Joey standing to drive and I was sitting in the seat. A mile and a half down the road we are going down a fairly steep decline, and I say to Joey;
"Man that sun is hot. It must be peeking over the top of the load now that we're going down hill and it's beating down, right on my neck."
Joey turns his head to see and becomes immediately excited and says;
I turn around and see that the entire front of the load is in flames! I yell to Joey.
"Pull over on the shoulder and unhook the tractor."
By now we were at the bottom of the hill. I jump down from the tractor while Joey pulls over to the shoulder, under the power and phone lines and in the front yard of a residence.
I run around to the back of the wagon thinking that I'll climb up the back run to the front of the load and kick the bales that are on fire in front to the ground thereby saving most of the load.
Moving quickly I begin pushing the top front bales off with my feet. I hear Joey yelling but in the excitement fail to comprehend what he is saying. Then I see what has him all lathered up: The tractor jack-knifed when he pulled off the road and he had been unable to unhook the tractor from the wagon. Not only was I kicking burning hay bales off the wagon, I was kicking them right on to the tractor. Next I hear him yelling:
"Rel, get down, get down now...the whole load is on fire!!!!!!"
I ran to the back of the wagon and jumped off. Turning around, I saw a conflagration so huge and fierce that I began saying my Hail Mary's and running to the opposite side of the road as fast as I could. The heat was so intense that it peeled paint off the first few cars that foolishly passed by.
An adult who was driving a car with Canadian license plates got out and started directing traffic. Basically, with the help of a couple others they just stopped traffic going both ways. Joey and I were standing at least 300 to 400 feet away and the heat was so intense we had to move further away.
A lady come out of the house in whose yard the burning hay, wagon, and tractor were disintegrating, and yells at us:
"Get that out of here right now!"
The gentleman from the car with the Canadian plates says to her in his British accent;
"What do you expect them to do madame, pee on it?"
We don't know what caused the fire, whether it was spontaneous combustion, a spark from the tractor exhaust, or even a cigarette butt flicked out of the window of a passing car.
We do know that we lived to tell the tale, that we got in no trouble at all, and we didn't have to pee on it.
Labels: Farm stories
Sunday, June 17, 2007
#64 - EccentricityEccentricity is fun & tempting -- for this Sunday Scribbling I'd like you to:
a) admit any eccentricities you may have, or wish you had, or any you might choose to cultivate;
b) write about eccentric people you know or have heard or read about;
or, the most fun:
c) devise a bunch of eccentricities for yourself, for fun -- either for your old age, or now. Imagine you've inherited a mansion and a fortune, and now it's your job to become an eccentric. You know, like having a pet pot-bellied pig that goes with you everywhere, and always wearing jodhpurs and riding boots (I had a boss that did that, though he owned a restaurant and didn't ride horses; he looked like a male Yoko Ono in riding attire).
Have fun! Invent your weirdest self.
I took KG's The "Eccentricity Quotient" Quiz: and scored a 5 out of ten. A 5 says that: You’re a bit weird, and must work much harder at it. Being eccentric that is.
I've alway thought of myself as normal as sliced bread, and this test confirms that. On the other hand I do exhibit some behaviors that could definitely qualify me to fit into the Quirky category.
Being colorblind and male has caused me to appear odd in public, but I believe that is genetic, not eccentric. To illustrate; Friday I needed to send a blood sample to the lab to obtain a type and crossmatch for blood for my patient. I looked at the list of required tube colors for the different test the lab does. My reference card told me that a red top tube was required for a T&X. So dutifully, after drawing a sample of the patient's blood, put it into a red topped tube, and sent it to the lab. Shortly the aide returned to tell me that the lab no longer uses red topped tubes. A T&X goes in a purple top. Frustrated but still in need of a T&X I proceeded to draw another sample. This was no easy task since the patient was devoid of ship shape veins. I succeeded in obtaining the second sample and put it in what I thought was a purple top tube. Quicker than you can say Jack Robinson, the aid was back, retelling me that the lab required a purple top not the blue top I had sent down. In fact, this time they sent a purple top tube back with her. At this point, embarrassed and irritated I requested that the lab tech come to the OR to draw the sample. She did this and I realized that in the future I would save time and headache by having the lab tech come in the first place.
While she was there I said, "first I sent a red top tube, then I sent a blue top tube. If you had just mixed the red top with the blue top you'd have gotten a purple top." ;-)
Quirky sense of humor? Yes.
Eccentric? Nah, I don't think so.
I like to sing. I sing everywhere. I frequently greet my patients with a song. "Getting to know you" is a common one. "I'll be seeing you" is another. I do requests of course. And most notably I'm known for make up my own lyrics. Often ribald but sometimes just funny. I've been known to get up and deliver an entire song while standing in the middle of the crowded cafeteria. From time to time I'll recite, in public, from memory, Hamlet's soliloquy.
Given my druthers I'd prefer to dress daily in either a frock coat or a renaissance doublet. Since I'm only quirky and not eccentric, I would only dress thus if on a dare or at Halloween.
There'll be no artistic, musical, scientific or literary master pieces coming from me in the near future, if ever. That leaves me free to produce voluminous mediocrity and revel in it, for there'll be no expectation of excellence. I have no desire to be a genius or to be famous or infamous.
P.S. I like to write a novel that would be as successful as Dan Brown's DaVinci Code!
I do think I could make the world a better place to live....You don't need to be a genius to figure that on out.
Just follow the Golden rule.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
My 300th post!
I wanted to write
A poem today.
Found nothing of import
To Praise or fault.
The cauldron dry,
Words locked up
In the time lock vault.
That's not to say
Nature failed to impress.
It's just that I am
Unable to express
What the images convey.
Sitting on my perch,
Bored with reassuring
Of a eight-nine year old
These words snuck down
To the black tipped
To tell a story of nature's
A baby, adolescent really,
He landed upon a
Not more than a foot
He looked me in the
As if to say;
"look at me, aren't I
I've learnt my lessons
And you my featherless
I trust you, though I
Know not why."
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
#63 - Spicy
Spicy can be used to describe: food, language, sensuality, literature, recipes, personalities, smells, or just the Bloody Mary you drink by the pool. Whatever flavour you choose to share, make sure you add a little spice to our lives (sorry, couldn't resist!)
This weekend has been and continues to be one of the premier , perfect summer weekends ever. It is cool, cool, at night for restful slumber, and mid 70's F. to low 80's F. with moderate humidity during the day. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets have bracketed both ends of the days. The river is like a sheet of glass with the only ripples being man made. So what does this have to do with spicy? Nothing really, except that I wanted to share with you why I've been away from the computer and not blogging. Continuing in that vein, I've had a devil of a time trying to get my thoughts around anything remotely worth posting in reference to today's prompt.
Having recently adopted Zaccharias as my muse from The Shameless Lions Writing circle. I was a little disappointed that he was not inspiring me with some ideas on how to spice up my post for today. By the way, For those of you who are clamoring to find out why I named my mentor lion Zaccharias....I named him after Zacharias Janssen who has been given credit by some for inventing the first compound microscope.
I gave up on him and set out to accomplish some chores...mainly finish spading my garden and getting the plants in the ground and then back to the river for some kayaking.
First light brought temperatures in the high 40's, just right for some rigorous labor. So I set about my task and as is common for me when doing mundane repetitive tasks, my mind wandered. Today It began to wander to possible avenues to take for the prompt; spice.
A warren of hares has taken up residence nearby as well as a large variety of birds. I glanced up the hill in time to see a neighbor's Siamese kitty stalking. I think he was stalking a hare but after a cat bird swooped down on him and sent out a loud warning I'm wondering if there is a bird nest near by. In either case the hare took the warning seriously and left the area as quick as a bunny (sorry). Said kitty finally noticed, after 3 or 4 minutes, that brunch had disappeared. He proceeded to search the area diligently, but to no avail. While he was sitting there pondering what had just happened, I was reminded of a cat and mouse scenario I witnessed quite a few years ago, shortly after moving into our current home.
At that time we cohabitated with 2 cats. One, a female Siamese, named Ginger, and a recently acquired barn cat, named Tinker, from a relative who operated a dairy farm. Ginger was the color of ginger root when we purchased her, hence her name. Tinker was named by my son and I'm at a loss to remember how he arrived at that name.
One evening as I rounded the corner from the kitchen to the living room I saw Ginger playing with , eeekk a mouse! Egads it was a real live mouse. The mouse was as big as a husked butternut, and was sitting as still as a stone. Cats live for the chase and have little interest in stark still prey. They engage in a ploy to give the prey hope of escape.... they turn their head away from the unmoving object of desire in the hopes that the mouse, seeing that the monster is no longer interested, will think, if I'm quick enough, I can make a hasty escape. Just as the mouse makes a move, the cat looks back and seeing movement pounces on the mouse. Mr. mouse freezes. While this back and forth game of "cat & mouse" was progressing, I notice Tinker, the barn cat, watching the scene with rapt attention from a vantage point under the oak rocking chair.
Ginger looks away for the umpteenth time.....before the mouse can even contemplate moving, Tinker streaks like a lightening bolt to the mouse, scoops it up and swallows it whole in one fell swoop and continues to the other side of the room unseen by Ginger. Ginger makes her turn to catch the moving prey only to discover that it was gone. Gone? Where could it have gone? Compulsively she begins a search of the entire living room try to locate the mouse. Tinker meanwhile licks her paw, wipes her mouth, licks her paw, wipes her mouth.
Sometimes a bland meal beats a spicy one!
Leave it to Zaccharias to come up with a cat story.
P.S. Our current Siamese's name is Cinnamon.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Zaccharias is a scholarly lion_____
Seeking, peeking behind
The scenes, through the lens
Curious like his namesake, and his
Father before him.
For Zaccharias, information
Is like meat
For other lions.
His mane reflects the
Microscopic images he
Finds and records.
You can not hide
Under the microscope.
Checkout; The Shameless Lions Writing circle.
Labels: Shameless lions writing circle
Sunday, June 03, 2007
#62 - The Town Mouse & the Country MouseHow about just: town & country. Are you a city person or a country person or both or neither? Feelings about town and country?
Like the John Denver song says; "Thank God I'm a country Boy."
No ifs ands or buts about it, I'm a country boy. I grew up in rural America, in the only"city" in the biggest county in New York State. The population of that city at the time was approximately 14,000. It was not a major metropolis by any stretch. The city bordered Canada via the St. Lawrence River and was a mere 50 mile drive away from the capital of Canada...Ottawa. The population of Ottawa is approximately 750, 000. So I grew up in the best of all possible worlds. I lived in an extremely rural farming community, but was close enough to a major city to enjoy the amenities it could offer.
I left this idyllic childhood incubator at the tender age of 17 to join the Navy and see the world. For the next thirteen years I did in fact see the world I spent time in or lived in the following cities: Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Danang RSVN, and Norfolk Va., New York City, Albany, NY., and Pusan S. Korea. I lived in NYC for a little more than a year while in nursing school. It's fair to say that I gave big cities a reasonable try. When it came time to raise a family though there was no debate...Small town rural America won, hands down.
We moved to a village in New York State just 10 miles from the city I grew up in. The population of the village is about 500. I know by name nearly all of these people.
Because I'm a country mouse, I took some time off from this story to a. weed and spade 1/3 of my vegetable garden (I'd have done it all but I got too tired and hot.) b. to finish reading Anne Fadiman's delicious book "Ex Libris, Confessions of a Common Reader". Which, my friends, is the most enjoyable read I've had...cover to cover... in a very long time! c. Eat lunch. d. Take a nap. And e. Take many photographs of nature.
Now, that's not to say that these things couldn't be done if I lived in a city. But, the laid-back take it slow and easy style is much more attributable to the country life than city life. That is exactly the way I like it.
I've enjoyed living in every city I've inhabited. (Danang was questionable at times.) The rent in NYC was exorbitant but everything else was good-to-go. Everything imaginable is available twenty-four hours a day and usually within walking distantance . Entertainment of any and every sort was just around the corner, and I didn't require a car because of municipal transportation.
Mentioning the rent In the Big Apple before it was called the big apple reminds me of a story. At the time, my wife and I were both nursing students at Elmhurst City Hospital. We rented an upstairs apartment in a Queen's brownstone from Mrs. Valverde. The rent was $125.00 a month. Our total income consisted of my monthly $175.00 GI Bill check. You do the math. Oh, let me add here that my wife was also pregnant with our first child. Our fellow nursing students would smuggle bread and peanut butter from the nurse's residence for us. We subsisted on breakfast and lunch 5 days a week at the hospital cafeteria, and Ragu sauce and shells everynight for supper. A few steps from our front door towards Northern Blvd. there was a milk machine, similar to today's soda machines, where you could buy a quart of milk for a quarter. One afternoon my wife put our last quarter in the slot, no quart of milk was ejected. She cried .
[The stories from that year in NYC would make an readable book.]
In all honesty, all of my city experiences were fun and sometimes exciting. I never experienced any of the "bad" things big cities are noted for (with the exception of smog.)
Settledown and raise a family time came about in the early to mid 1970s. Serendipitously a job came available, for my specialty, in my hometown. We wanted to raise our kids in a community environment where everyone knew us and the children and the whole community helped raise each others children. I believed in making it as difficult as possible for my children to get into mischief without my finding out about it. I believed in holding my kids responsible for their actions. We bought a home in the village where my father spent his first thirteen years...the village that we still reside in. We had a vegetable garden big enough to raise most all of our own vegetables. We raised chickens (yes, in the village) for eggs and meat, and rabbits for meat. We supplemented our fuel oil furnace with wood which we cut and burned in a wood stove. Remember, this was during the first oil price crisis.
Our children attended and graduated from a K-12 school (just one block behind our house) with a total enrollment of 500 pupils. They each played in the band, played sports; each one played on a small school championship teams that went on to play for State championships. They were in scouts, had after school jobs. and did chores around the house. All three of my children currently reside in big cities. They know that milk comes from black and white, four legged, four titted animals. They know that animals are butchered to put meat in the supermarket. they know that eggs come out the same orifice as chicken shit. And they know how much work somebody did to put veggies on their plates. They got into their share of mischief, and I didn't find out some of it I'm sure. Son J. said to me not too long ago; "You caught me most of the time when I broke the rules, but not everytime!" I asked what I'd missed. He continued. "'ll tell you when I think you're old enough to hear it." Hehe.
They know where to find fresh air and clean water. They know the value of friendships, and neighborliness.
Raising a family in the country was the right thing for us. Others have done just as well in the city.
If you've been able to read this far....STOP! It's time for supper...and then your homework. ;-)