Thursday, September 28, 2017

Camping again, at last

A month ago, Emily asked me to take her camping.  I hadn't taken the girls camping in six or seven years, so I agreed.  Neither Erin nor Sarah could join us, but Chase came with us.  Chase is Emily's boyfriend; this is his first camping trip ever, so I'm hoping he has a good time.  The weather is perfect  with no chance of rain, but a bit hotter than typical for this time of year.  Emily and Chase went for a swim and are now snoozing blissfully on this beautiful afternoon , while I sit in a chair outside the tent typing a blog post on my iPad.

Chase and Emily taking in the lake (Cave Run)

We watched the sun set.
View of the lake from our tent. 

To be honest, I could use a snooze myself.  It's a lot of work to go camping.  A lot of our stuff is stored in the garage, so everything has to be wiped down to clear away spiders, dirt, and dead bugs.  Our tent is really too big - enough for 12 people according to tentmakers, but five of us stayed in it very comfortably when we all use to go camping (those occasions were rare...Someone hates camping).  To make matters worse, I worked very hard this week to catch up my classes enough to get away for 30 hours.  My laptop is at home, like 70 miles away.  It's a bit scary to think about, but the break is good.  At least I still have access to my iPhone and iPad.  It might be that I'm addicted to the Internet, but I don't care.

There are 10 classes on my schedule right now.  It's the most students at one time that I've ever had.  It's good, but it's a lot of work for the money they pay me.  Perhaps too much work for the money...that's been on my mind.  I could do less for my students, but not doing my best would be a worry.  I don't like to do shoddy work. 

Our campsite is wonderful with large trees all around.  We are in a grove of walnut trees, with a beech tree hanging its limbs over the picnic table.  Every few minutes, a walnut or beechnut falls to the ground.  I can hear speedboats on the lake and turkeys somewhere in the campground.  Jarflies are singing in the trees.  We were warned that bears are active just now, so we can't be leaving food laying around.  Fine, we'll all be potential bear food.

***  And that is where I stopped and saved my post.  Something interrupted, or grabbed my attention. 

Camping last weekend is now just a distant, fond memory.  It's already Thursday night, with another weekend looming on the horizon.  This one will be busy for me.  Lots of student work to grade...I mean LOTS.  Projects, and papers, and worst of all, discussion boards.  Sometimes my students write the most ridiculous and trivial crap.  At least with a discussion board, the dreadfulness is a short paragraph or two.  When it's a paper, sometimes it's five or six  pages of nonsense.  After reading a really bad paper, I have to step away from my desk and clear my head before attempting to render an evaluation.  To write feedback immediately might result in me saying something regretful.  Not only that, sometimes distance is needed to think of something positive to say to the student.  I always start with something good before saying what I really think about the paper, in those cases when the paper is like, REALLY bad.  But in reality, I never say what I REALLY think about those kinds of papers.  That might get me in trouble.  No doubt I've written my fair share of crap. 

When watering my plants on the porch this week, I realized they have become incredibly beautiful over the summer.  The fresh air has been good for them this summer.  I started a wandering Jew from a sprig stolen a few summers ago, when we visited the lodge at Cumberland Falls.  They had pots of it hanging at the entryway.  They most likely didn't miss the few leaves that I stole...still, it felt like committing grand larceny.  My succulent garden is thriving...finally.  The corn plant has decided not to die, and the monstera has become massive.  I need a greenhouse before winter. 

Asparagus fern on top, wandering Jew in the middle, and succulents on the bottom shelf. 
Some of them...
Some happy snapdragons cut from my garden
This beautiful snapdragon bloomed for the first time this week.  I LOVE the color.  

Friday, August 18, 2017

dog days

It’s late, but I’m not in the mood for going to bed.  I have work to do, but I’m not in the mood for that either.  So, rather than clean house, or pick around on my guitar, or bake something…I’ll just ramble here on my blog. 

The past few afternoons, I’ve thought surely we are in the dog days of summer.  It’s been very hot and humid this week.  When you step outside from any place that’s air conditioned, you can almost drink the air.  It caused me to wonder where that expression comes from (dog days), so research ensued.  The Farmer’s Almanac has a wonderfully descriptive explanation.  In a nutshell, the dog days last for about 40 days (July 3 through August 11) that relate to Sirius (the Dog Star) being visible in the morning. 




Sirius is the brightest star (not counting the sun).  It is in Canis Major (the Greater Dog).  You can find it by drawing a line down from Orion’s belt.  So that is our astronomy lesson for today.  Technically, we are past the official dog days, but unofficially, it has been hot as hell.

On Thursday morning, because I had no classes to teach, I went outside early in the morning and picked beans – lots of beans, 3.5 pounds of them to be exact.  It made a huge pot of beans on the stove, but Someone eats beans like they are going out of style.  I like corn and beans and much as the next person, but nobody can put them away like Someone does. 

In my mind, picking beans was to be a chore.  But 15 minutes into the task, my mind wandered and it was a marvelous way to blow the morning.  The local deer have become bold in their quest for apples.  The apples on our trees are very large this year in comparison to prior years.  I fertilized all the fruit trees last fall and the benefits are obvious.  Gracie sat on the driveway and kept a watchful eye on the neighbor’s cat while I picked beans serenaded by the shrill songs of jar flies.  A doe and two spotted fawns ventured to the trees and ate apples on the ground for several minutes, all the while keeping eyes on me and on Gracie.  This evening, an 8-point buck visited the trees. 

When I was a kid, we lived on my great-grandparents’ farm in the summers.  In those days, there was no air-conditioning.  During the days, they kept windows open and ran fans to keep the house tolerably cool.  In the evenings, it was much cooler outside than inside, even with the fans.  People sat outside in the evenings, and then went inside and went straight to bed. 

I hated working in the garden in the summers.  As kids, my brothers and I were given plenty of chores, but we also had time to play, especially in late afternoons when it was too damn hot to be working in the sun.  In those days, I told myself that when I grew up, I was going to live in a big city where there would be no gardens to tend and no grass to mow.  As it turns out, I hate big cities.  If I had my way, Someone and I would move farther out from town.  Things are starting to develop around us a bit too much.  Don’t get me wrong, progress is a wonderful thing.  But now that I’m not in an office 60 hours a week, I wish we lived someplace quieter. 

This evening, I planted green beans, more lettuce, and more carrots in my raised bed.  Radishes will be ready to harvest in a few more days.  Carrots are plentiful just now.  I love the raised bed, but what is best is the hummingbird feeder beside it.  I love watching the little hummers.  Just about any time that I peek out the window, there will be a hummer at the feeder or sitting on the fence beside it.  They are shy.  If I step out on the porch, any birds near the feeder will fly up and hide in the maple tree.  If I go near the garden, one will fly down and confront me – hover in front of me.  It’s fun.

Carrots from the garden



We had a hard rain this morning, and tomorrow it cools down to the low 80s.  Perhaps our dog days have ended.  Someone and I will play golf tomorrow afternoon.  Tomorrow morning, I will grade assignments, and make an apple dump cake or perhaps an apple pie.  Someone will be happy when he smells something baking in the oven.  It might be that I've become more domesticated in my old age.   

Apple dump cake hot from the oven (glaze is added over the top when it cools)

Gracie (our Canis Major)


Thursday, August 10, 2017

alive and well

It was in my mind that I’d be traveling to Indiana this week, but as it turned out, I couldn’t make contact with my family there in time, and now they have plans for the next two weekends.  My trip is now delayed until the last weekend of the month.  It makes for a busy weekend with 12+ hours of driving in two days.  Hopefully the weather will be nice enough.
    
University #1 starts back next Monday.  I’ve been working hard the past two weeks to get my classrooms built and ready to open.  Three of my classes are face-to-face, and one is online.  Meanwhile, I have four online classes underway for University #2 - we are just past midterm there.  I’m just about ready for my students at University #1 (all 116 of them…and counting…the numbers change daily). 

After Someone and I returned from the beach, I got in the mood to do some things around the house that needed doing.  Things like cleaning out my closet and drawers, scrubbing algae off the brick walkway and porch in the front of the house, cleaning cars, and cleaning “dark corners” of the house (you know, like moving furniture and cleaning behind it, and cleaning out cabinets).  This endeavor has been going on for a month now…but, there was a near-tragedy this week when I reached for an extension cord – a giant wasp nest was right there behind it.  The only thing left of the nest now is this picture.  Spring cleaning came late to our house. 

Near miss - wasp nest hidden in the cord

I visited Sarah when she got back from China and had a lovely time with her.  We visited an Amish greenhouse close to where she lives.  The prices were reasonable so I bought some flowers – Monarda, Lupines, and some pretty petunias that were reduced.  Sarah also bought a few new specimens.  Later in the week, I visited our local greenhouse where the prices were not reduced at all, unfortunately.  I bought some cabbage plants, some more impatiens to replace the ones that died while we were gone to the beach, and a Bleeding Heart.  I love bleeding hearts, but they seem to only last a few years and then die.  We will see how this one does (it was definitely an impulse purchase).  

My flowers are beautiful just now.  The ones on the porch are best because the deer don’t eat them.  This year, we have not had nearly as many Japanese Beetles.  Thank you, Lord.  I hate those bugs!!

I’ve replanted lettuce, radishes, and beans in my raised bed.  Soon I will plant my baby cabbage plants (there is still one head to harvest in the garden before I dig up all the decapitated cabbages).  It was my wish to plant brussels sprouts, but nobody sells them around here.  Only in the spring can they be purchased, and apparently, they are scarce even then.  Not many people grow them, I was told.  Well hell, of course not.  They’re too damn hard to come by.  Next spring, I will grow some from seeds.  Screw the greenhouses, I will take the bull by the horns (so to speak).

Pretty petunias (Sarah got some of these too)
 

Some pretty zinnias
Pentunias, Allysum, and some Verbena
Molly was not amused.

I’ve installed a hummingbird feeder out beside my raised bed.  It took several weeks, but the hummingbirds finally found it.  It’s great fun to watch them, but I learned that our hummingbirds are territorial.  There are two that stay close by.  One is a ruby-throated hummingbird, no doubt about it.  They are common in these parts.  The other is less bright – perhaps its mate, but I’m not sure.  One or the other is usually sitting on top of the fence beside the feeder at any given time.  A few times, when I’ve gone out to pull carrots, they will hover in front of my face.  Sorry guys, you don’t intimidate me at all.  My friends take great photos of their hummingbirds.  Alas, I am not skilled enough to snap a decent photo of our wee, spriteful feathered friends.  

Gracie will miss me next week when I'm back on campus three days a week.  My bank account is eager for me to increase my work hours.  No complaints though.  I love, Love, LOVE being retired from Big Oil.  Life is marvelous.  

My sweet Gracie (arguably) 
   

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I love a rainy day

It’s a rainy day.  I LOVE rainy days, especially when there is no place I have to go.  Back in my office-job days, I thought loving rainy days was my way of getting even with the rest of the world – you know, if I can’t get out and enjoy the day, well at least nobody else can either.  A year into retirement, I realize that rainy days are just really nice, especially when one has a solid roof overhead and a cozy place to hang out.

Someone and I are back from Myrtle Beach.  Vacation was, well, just how it always is.  We go to the same places and do the same things.  We played golf on at least six hot afternoons (the rates are lower and it’s almost like having a private golf course).  We played with Someone’s dad on one early morning.  Someone’s dad loves to play golf but he can’t tolerate the heat.  I am not a beach person.  I don’t like intense sun accompanied with sand and water.  I walked on the beach in the mornings and evenings, and sat out and read a book one cloudy afternoon. 


Great day for the beach

Yesterday was a gorgeous day – sunny, and not too hot for July.  I finished grading student papers around noon, and decided to get me and my kayak to the lake.  A strong debate started in my head about whether or not to go to Little Sandy as I backed out of the driveway, but then decided to go to Greenbo.  Probably this was the best choice because when I drove past a visible part of Little Sandy, it was muddy as hell.  Just as I unloaded at the Greenbo boat ramp, a bus-load of older ladies started unloading from a bus in the parking lot.  Most likely, this was a group of church ladies.  They leased canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats, making an incredible volume of noise as they set off on a group paddle – all talking and yelling to each other across the water.  I paddled fast and furious to get away to the quiet – all the way to the back near the dam.  Once enveloped in peace and quiet (my happy place), I put the paddle down, dangled my legs out over the sides, slouched down, and closed my eyes.  Drifting like this is marvelous.  The water rocks the boat ever so slightly; it’s easy to fall asleep (and I do sometimes).  I could hear a hawk shrieking, turkeys making their way over the hill, and one of my favorite sounds anywhere, a pilatead woodpecker.

My grubby watershoe.  

Greenbo in July

In the front of our house, we have a birdfeeder.  I buy a mix that appeals to woodpeckers and nuthatches.  It’s more expensive than regular birdseed so I don’t buy it every time, but pilateads come looking for it.  I think the squirrels eat most of the birdseed regardless.  I like the squirrels too, but I wish they would leave the apple trees alone and stay out of the garden.  They are greedy. 


In just a few weeks, fall semester starts at University #1.  There is much to do before then.  Also, it’s time to plan a trip to Indiana to visit my dad.  And, one more thing, I told Emily I would go with her to visit Wake Forest University.  Emily and Erin are starting to make plans for graduate school.  Also, I want to plan a camping trip for a time before it gets cold.  Gee, where does the time go?   

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer at last

Finally, it feels like summer.  I don’t mean in terms of the weather, but more like the things I’ve been doing.  The weather has been pretty spectacular, mostly…other than a horrid flooding storm two nights ago.  We were not flooded, but many people were, and still are.

Someone and I played golf at my favorite golf course last week (Shawnee Golf Course in Shawnee State Park).  My game is not so wonderful lately…despite new grips (which really helped), something is not right.  I need to spend some time at the driving range to figure out the issue and correct it.  Even so, I had enough good shots to keep me in the game.

Favorite green - #5 at Shawnee

Also recently, I took my kayak out for the first time in 2017.  It was just a quick adventure Friday evening – I went to Greenbo Lake which is a nice place to go when time is short.  From my driveway to the marina is a 22-minute drive (well, assuming I don’t get stuck driving behind a tractor or other slow-moving vehicle.  There are few places to pass anything moving slow).  Me and my kayak are going on a proper adventure tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to be beyond perfect for June – sunny and low-70s.  Since it will be Monday morning, I’m hoping there will be very few people on the water.  I love to be out on the water when there are no people making noise.  Sometimes the fish swim up to investigate my kayak.  I like to stop paddling, slouch down, and put my feet out over the top, and just drift – let the current take me whichever way it goes (sometimes, there is no current).  When there are no people, sometimes I see beavers and deer on the shore.  It’s a wondrous thing, as if God created the world just for me.  My world, all mine, all to myself.

drifting on Greenbo

My raised bed has been giving us plenty of lettuce and radishes.  The lettuce – two kinds – has been WONDERFUL.  I’ll post a photo so you can be envious.  The pale green is called Green Ice.  The lettuce in the front left area is Simpson.  It tastes good, but it hasn’t been as prolific.  The carrots were pretty much a complete no-show.  I bought more seeds and planted them, but they don’t seem to be wanting to grow either.  As for the radishes, the first days that I used them, they were fabulous.  Now they are too big and tough.  They are very hot, and hard to even slice.  I should just pull the rest up and put them in our compost pile.  The beans are growing like crazy, but sadly, I think they will be ready to pick when I’m at the beach with someone on his vacation.  Maybe one of the girls will pick and eat them…but I doubt it.  The next time I plant radishes, I will only plant 25% as many.  I intend to plant more when I return from Myrtle Beach.

Carrots??  MIA


Right from the garden
Someone and I grilled out tonight for dinner.  That’s another summer thing we do, and something we did for the first time this summer.  We grilled pork chops.  I cut and cooked a small head of cabbage from our garden, and made salad with our lettuce.  The cabbage was wonderful – fresh cabbage is nothing like what you buy in the store that’s shipped in from Florida, or Texas, (or any other place its shipped from).  While we were eating on our screened porch, I kept smelling something that reminded me of honeysuckle, even though honeysuckle is not blooming right now.  Finally, I realized it was my corn plant.  My plant seems to be dying, but it put out two blooms after I repotted it last month.   It smells wonderful (but it is not a healthy plant).

Top of the corn plant - it's 12-feet tall now, and blooming!

Now for the big news…someone and I are grandparents.  Someone’s daughter, Katie, gave birth to a girl last Thursday (6/22).  Baby Alice is adorable.  Someone and I drove over to see Katie and meet the baby on Friday.  We don’t see Katie often, but I think with the baby, we will try to go more often.  It’s three hours, which is not too much, but everyone has busy lives.  My hope for the future is that Alice at least have some sense of who we are, and will look forward to seeing us.  I don’t want for us to be strangers.

Alice - born 6/22

Happy mama (Katie) with baby Alice

Speaking of strangers, it’s time for me to plan a trip to Indiana to visit my dad. That is a long haul – 6.5 hours or so to visit him.  It will likely not happen until we get back from Myrtle Beach.  He (and my mother) will be 80 this summer.  Which reminds me…I need to get a birthday card for my mother in the mail.  Her birthday is coming soon.  Knowing how my parents are (have always been) with my kids, it reminds me that I want to see Alice at least once every few months.  If not, we will always be irrelevant.

Today was gorgeous – sunny and cool.  Someone and I took Gracie to Greenbo Lake for a walk.  It was pretty muddy out there after all the rain Friday night that caused the flooding, so we stayed off the trails.  We walked past one of my favorite places, an old iron furnace that was built in 1850 and operated until 1900.  What I like about it, is that it is in a grove of mature walnut trees.  Absolutely wonderful to walk under.  

Buffalo Furnace - in a beautiful grove of walnut trees
      
Walnut trees on a beautiful day

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Girls' vacay - 2017

I am back (as of late yesterday afternoon) from a vacation with my girls.  It was wonderful to have six days with them – just me and them…my girls, all to myself.  I’m a bit greedy like that…or maybe that is me being selfish.  I don’t care – it is whatever it is.

Early Friday morning, we loaded up and headed for Weston, West Virginia for our first stop – the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  The building has a very long and interesting history.  The building and grounds are huge – it’s hard to imagine the need for so many beds and rooms to store “crazy” people.  Of course, not everyone who was put there was mentally-ill.  Long ago, husbands could commit their wives for a variety of ridiculous reasons.  There is a separate building on the grounds behind the big stone building that was used only for criminally insane.  Also, we learned that during the times when lobotomies were common, according to hospital records, a famous surgeon (I forget his name) came three times per week and did an average of 100 lobotomies on each visit…for several years.  What amazed me most of all was that the place was open and a functioning hospital until 1989 when it was finally replaced with a more modern hospital in Weston.  We toured parts of four floors and some of the building for the criminals.

Directly in front - with some construction happening.
  
Center and left side - right side looks the same except it has mature trees in front.

After our tour in the sleepy little town of Weston, we drove another 4.5 hours to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  We crossed through some beautiful mountains and scenic views.  I had never visited those parts of the country (northern West Virginia, central Pennsylvania, and southern Maryland) – very pretty.

The next day, we drove a short distance to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to visit Chocolate World.  This is something both Erin and Emily had been begging to do for quite some time.  We learned how chocolate is made, and did a taste testing thing that was interesting.  There’s actually quite a bit of science (and art) that goes into chocolate making, because cocoa beans pick up flavors from the plants that grow around them.  We were given small bars of chocolate and a wheel of flavors to consider.  People in the audience voted for flavors they tasted in the chocolate – flavors like tobacco, cheese, cherry, banana, leather, wood, cinnamon, pepper, and many others.  Other than chocolate tasting, the most exciting part of the day was standing in line with a couple who were high out of their minds on something.  Sadly, they had two young boys with them.  The family was removed by park security.

At Chocolate World
Emily fulfills a fantasy.  

The next morning, Sunday, we took a train (Amtrak) from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.  It’s a short train ride – less than two hours.  The trip was great – going and returning.  I’m a fan of Amtrak.  

Philadelphia was not a great place to visit (my impression, and opinion).  For one, the streets are narrow, the sidewalks are narrow, and there are just too many people.  Traffic moves fast, there are lots of cars honking, and the cars drive close to sidewalks (because space is so tight).  Everything is expensive in Philadelphia.  Sanitation is not good – lots of smelly garbage and trash on the streets. Worst of all, it was beastly hot (mid 90s), and with all the asphalt and concrete and people – it was pretty miserable.

But...we had some fun.  I arranged an after-hours private tour of the Mütter Museum for us, which was a long-time fantasy of all my girls (and really, the only reason we were in Philadelphia).  They loved it – it was the highlight of our vacation.  Also, there was a Chinese Lantern Festival set up in a park not far from our hotel.  That was a wonderful surprise.  We visited that and had a nice time.  Our hotel was located on the riverfront of the Delaware River.  On our last night, we walked out on a pier across the street to get a better look at the river.  We made our way to the end of the pier where we saw some people sitting around, but we didn’t really think much about it…until fireworks began.  It was a nice show that we got to see, completely by unplanned accident.  After that, we walked on down the river to Dave & Busters – a restaurant that has a huge adult game room.  Loads of fun!  We played a Walking Dead game where we killed zombies with cross bows.  We also played 4-person air hockey, and some other games.  

We saw the Liberty Bell (of course!!!).  
We walked past Constitution Hall.  
We enjoyed the Chinese Lantern Festival.

The coy blowing bubbles was one of my favorites.
Lots of color!!
A glimpse of City Hall - my favorite building (from an architectural perspective).
Walking out on the Race Street Pier.  

On our last day together, we caught a very early train back to Harrisburg.  Gratefully, the long drive home from Harrisburg was uneventful.  We got to our house around 5:30 PM.  Sarah had to get all the way home last night, so we unloaded the car, and she left us for another 90-minute drive (thereabouts) to get to her house.  Erin will go back to Louisville tomorrow morning, and Emily is home for the summer.

Someone left early yesterday afternoon for a conference near Weston (where we had visited on the first day).  Since Someone is mostly undomesticated and he was home alone for five days, the house was pretty much a complete wreck.  It was disheartening to come home, tired from the long drive, and see hours of work to do.  Emily and I walked in first and just stood there in the kitchen surveying the utter devastation for a few moments.  She said, “So Mom, what’s it like to be living with a raccoon?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.

I love my girls.  What a lucky person I am to have had the opportunity to vacation with them!  In less than a month, I will do the beach vacation with Someone and his entire family.  Someone has already started packing.  I am not excited or eager to go, but it will be OK.  Someone’s folks will not be able to do this vacation too many more years, and it means a lot to them to have their kids there.      

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

brewing

Things have been a bit hectic lately.  Classes going on – fortunately, all are online just now.  Emily is home for the summer (still working her part-time hellish retail job, but she is done with school until August).  She has inspired me to begin going back to the gym.  I love going…I have no idea why I haven’t gotten back into the habit since retirement, but we’ve gone together more days than not for the past two weeks.  Honestly, I have no excuse.  The gym is only less than 10 minutes from where we live.  Lord knows I’ve become a turnip over the past few years…it’s time to turn back the clock a bit.

I had some spare time one day last week and ventured to two greenhouses BY MYSELF…it’s a wonderful thing to go by myself so that nobody is rushing me or whining.  Actually, Sarah is happy in a greenhouse and that’s something we could do together if only she lived closer.  I bought five flats of flowers and vegetables.  I’ve planted little more than one flat so far, but I already know that more begonias and impatiens are needed.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate this weekend…and I’ll find some time to putter around in my flower beds and garden. 

Five flats of impatiens, petunias, alysum, begonias, snapdragons, zinnias, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers. 

Meanwhile, look what sprang up around Timothy!!  Some beautiful Rocket Snapdragons decided to winter over.  I suppose because they are close to the house, the wall protected them.  We had a mild winter too.  The snaps that I planted in pots did NOT winter over…sadly.  It’s OK, because I bought MORE. 

This flower bed has not been planted yet. 

I planted seeds in my raised bed the other evening.  Going clockwise from the top-left of the U, we have lettuce, carrots, radishes, another variety of lettuce, and then bush green beans.  I noticed that a DAMN carpenter bee has chewed a hole in one of the posts and was buzzing to himself inside the post, all cozy and pleased with his destruction, as I planted.  I could spray him with poison, but I probably won’t.  I hate to kill things. Then this morning, as if I might see signs of life after two days, I stepped out on the deck to have a peek.  GRRRRRRR!!!  There in my raised bed, right there in that pristine, glorious black dirt, sat a chipmonk eating my seeds (I presume it was a carrot or radish seed he was snacking on).  I barked at him – “NO!!!”, and then he scrambled to find a way out and panicked when he realized he couldn’t get through the net.  I ran down the deck stairs, taking my eyes off him only briefly, but he vanished.  I have no idea how he got in or out.  If he comes around too often, Molly will take care of him.  She’s quite the huntress.

Carpenter bee 😠

So, my girls and I are planning a mini-vacay to Philadelphia next month.  I’m excited about spending time with them, and also to see something new.  We’re going to drive to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and then Amtrak the rest of the way.  On the way over, we’re going to stop and tour the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  We’re also going to take a day to visit Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The Hershey stuff I’m not as excited for, but Erin and Emily are totally pumped.  We’re going to Chocolate World, apparently.  Really?  I looked up the visitor sites to see if there was really anything worth doing there.  There are photos of a chocolate-themed amusement park.  Instead of Build-a-Bear, you build your own candy bar.  Instead of people dressed up like Micky Mouse and Pluto, there are people walking around dressed up like candy bars.  I asked Emily if she was really all that excited about having her picture taken with somebody dressed up like a Reese’s Cup.  She said, “Mom, I want to marry the Reese’s Cup.”  I guess she is all that excited.  The highlight of the trip, at least our expectation is that it will be the highlight, is a private tour of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.  There are plenty of things to do in Philadelphia – we will have 2.5 days there.  Then it’s home again.  We are all just too busy, sadly, to get even a whole week together.


Gracie is a snarly beast – she is nasty to other dogs and strangers.  As such, I don’t take her for walks in our neighborhood because there are too many dogs running loose, and there are always people out walking around.  I take her to a road, over close to where the gym is, that is mostly deserted.  It’s a nice place to walk because there are very few cars, lots of deer and other wildlife, honeysuckle that smells heavenly, and wildflowers everywhere.  This time of year, there are millions of daisies and coreopsis.  The milkweed is just starting to bloom too.  We parked about a quarter mile from the road, and when we got to it, the road department had apparently decided to spray the sides of the road with herbicide rather than mow - this morning.  Really??  Let’s just pollute all we can because who wants to spend money to run a mowing truck along that two-mile stretch of abandoned road? That would take at least 10 minutes, so let’s just poison the deer, rabbits, turkeys, and anything else that happens to drink the water.  Stupidly, I thought Gracie and I could just walk and I would keep her out of the blue poison that blanketed all the beautiful flowers along the side of the road.  Long story short, no I couldn’t.  She and I both got into it.  Her legs were blue, her nose was blue, and her tail was blue – like robin-egg blue…or Easter egg blue. As soon as we got home, I gave her a bath and washed that shit off of her.  She didn’t appreciate the bath - she even growled at me a few times. Then, I took a shower too.  Maybe I’m too paranoid, but I don’t like poison. 

            

Sunday, May 7, 2017

spring day adventure

University #1 is a wrap, and I’m on break from that school until August (other than some training next week).  It’s a busy weekend for University #2 with six classes going on, but one of those finishes tonight, so just a few more days of grading papers and life will get much easier.
 
Even with all the many tasks on my to-do list, today was just WAY too splendid to sit at a desk all day.  Someone and I loaded up Gracie up and went for a long hike at Greenbo. My God, it was a glorious day!  Clear sapphire sky with just a few puffy white clouds, breezy, cool – absolutely perfect for hiking!  We walked about 4.5 miles of Claylick Loop.  Long hike?  Considering what it takes to get on and off the trail – yes, it’s a long hike.  The trail runs mostly along the tops of the hills, so part of the journey not counted in the 4.5 miles is getting to the trail, and then getting off the trail.  Getting to the trail from the marina entails a steep climb – about 45 to 65 degrees all the way up (and up, up, up) a rocky, loggy, snaky path.  By snaky, I don’t mean that the path is curvy, it is…but I mean literally, you keep your eyes and ears open for snakes.  Today was cool, so even if they were out, they’d be moving pretty slow.  Still…I don’t like them.  Gracie likes to lead (i.e., pull) and Someone likes to have her leash, so they are always in front.  Someone talks a lot, so I think we have enough noise to scare the smart snakes away.

On Claylick Loop, Greenbo Lake State Park

Scenery on the trail.

Coming down off the trail is a bit easier.  Part of it slopes gradually, but the very last part is VERY steep, with lots of tree roots, loose rock, and of all things, sand.  Today, it was dry and the ground was clear enough that I just sat down on the ground and scooted/slid down.  Someone did the same, partially dragged down by Gracie who was eager to drink from the creek at the bottom of the hill.  We come off the trail about a mile behind the campground.  There’s a nice flat road (except for a few small hills), so it’s a pleasant walk back to civilization and my car.  Good thing…I was pretty tired!

My raised bed has some dirt in it, finally.  I bought and dumped nine bags of organic raised bed soil in it.  I’m thinking (hoping) that eight more will finish it.  Then comes the planting…and waiting.  We will see how Farmer KYLady does with this new venture.  The farmers around here say it’s safe to plant after Mother’s Day.  I’m thinking, it’s OK to plant any time now…Mother’s Day is next Sunday. 

View from another deck...more dirt needed.  


By the way, Emily gave me a hug today and told me that every day is Mother’s Day.  She’s so sweet! 

   

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Venting

Sometimes I vent about Someone’s inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to help with household chores.  He likes to believe that he does his fair share; in fact, if you asked him, I’m certain he would say “Oh yeah, I easily do 50% of the housework, plus I always cut the grass.”

So lately, I’ve been very busy with classes.  Actually, even too busy to cook lately, which is really not a big deal.  Someone keeps a very different schedule from me.  He usually eats supper after 9 PM and that’s way too late for me.  During the week, Someone typically eats a huge lunch with his coworkers, and then he does things like karate, tennis, or running endless miles on his treadmill that fill his after-work hours. If we eat supper together, it’s on the weekend when I’ve had time to cook, or those rare occasions when we go to a restaurant together.  Almost always, he heats up frozen stuff in the microwave for his supper, or he gets fast food.  He is proficient with a microwave, at least.

Anyway, to keep the story short, it was last Saturday.  I was incredibly busy with classes all day…literally, all day and into the evening. My desk is just off the kitchen, so I know everything that goes on in the kitchen, unfortunately (I’d love to have a door to shut off my space from the rest of the house). Anyway, it was about 4:30 and Someone came into the kitchen and announced that he would make some tuna-fish salad because sandwiches for dinner sounded great.  I said nothing and acted as if I were busy (well, because I was) and observed that he pulled three cans of tuna out of the cabinet, located the pickle relish and mayonnaise in the fridge – slamming around and making all kinds of racket…the whole time talking, talking, TALKING about how tuna salad for dinner was just what he wanted.  I sat there working, and I could tell he was standing in the kitchen waiting for me to offer to take over.

When there was no offer on my part, someone said, “Well, I guess I’ll just boil some eggs first and then I’ll go run while they cool.”  I said nothing.  Someone slammed cabinets a bit longer.  Then, he asked me, “Hey, do we have any pots or pans?” I assured him we’ve had pots and pans for our entire lives together, and told him where to find them.  He said he looked there and we had none.  I suggested he bend his knees and look back a bit into the cabinet (lids in front, pans in back).  Long story short, and after MUCH foul language (mostly while picking egg shells off the boiled eggs) and many excessive bowls and dishes dirtied, he successfully made tuna salad and had his sandwiches. 

The thing that irked me more than anything else was his question – Do we have any pots or pans.  If I had a nickel for every time he’s asked me a stupid question like that, I’d be totally rich. Other questions he has asked me over the years include:
  • Do we have a broom?
  • Do we have a sweeper?
  • Do we have a rag?
  • Do we have any hangers?
  • Do we have a ladder?
  • Do we have any light bulbs?
  • Do we have a needle and thread?  (And why?  He had absolutely no intentions of sewing anything.)


I could blame his mother for not teaching him to do common things – she didn’t – but there comes a time when a man has to adult up.  Maybe it’s not that.  Maybe he just doesn’t have that common-sense know-how kind of thinking gene…if it is genetic.  He’s not stupid; he’s a great attorney.  Give him a contract, and he will figure out the nitty gritty details and how to get around them. Give him a hammer and nail, and he will give you a bewildered look – deer in the headlights.  



I kind of feel sorry for him sometimes, but surely it is curable…somehow.  Maybe I don't have the patience gene.