Thursday, December 30, 2004

I Thought that we weren't doing anything New Year's Eve ...

Normally, we have a "do" of sorts on New Year's Eve. The last couple of months have swirled all around normal without actually ever landing, if ya know what I mean.  With that in mind, I could have sworn that the fella and I discussed the issue and agreed that this New Year's Eve, we were going to do nothing.  Nothing, as in sitting staring slack jawed at the TV until oh, say, the festive hour of 9 or so, then go to sleep. (My personal idea of the perfect evening) -- ok, so I am boring, and tired, mostly these days. Nothing, does it get better than that?

Nothing was the plan. Blissful hours of uneventful.  Instead (you knew that I was working up to an instead, didn't you?) instead, when I arrived home yesterday (yesterday of the nonstop hurling and I might add, not the best possible day to come home to the information that we [as in I] were, after all GOING to do "something" New Year's Eve).  Men.  Something. Just a few (10) people for dinner followed by snackies and cards or whatever until ...

Ummm,what?  :: I said scrunching up my face, because between my urge to raise one eyebrow or go for a less subtle expression of surprise tempered with rage, my entire face threatened to explode and only the scrunch was keeping it together ::  Did we not agree that we were not going to do anything this year? Oh, good, we did! Aaaaaaand did I not just get home from working out of town for three days? I did, didn't I?  Ok. Soooo, in my absence, nothing (no party) has been redefined as dinner for ten people followed by a party?  HAS to be a guy thing.

Fortunately (am I getting good at slapping a happy face on events that should have me screaming, curled in a ball on the floor or what?) fortunately, there is (dramatic pause) the basement.

Mostly always setup for emergency entertaining, all this room takes is some food set out and a few tunes punched into the jukebox and ...  sigh, I could have sworn that we weren't going to do anything this New Year's Eve. I should have known better.  Where did I leave the silly hats and noise makers? I am sooooo gonna get a picture of him in a pointy hat with fru fru decorating the top. I am.

Sea sick

Not that you need to know this, or I suppose even want to know this, but --

I spent most of yesterday alternately throwing up and desperately trying to avoid throwing up.  Seasick, on dry land.  No, this entry isn't going to get any more pleasant so feel free to skip on by!  I was on a jobsite and we changed to a new field which was freshly disked corn stubble.  Wave after wave of rolling earth and corn stalk leftovers and there I was, me and my floater rolling over and over and over it. By ten, I would have given anything for a dose of Dramamine, by afternoon I would have considered committing some sort of a crime to get it.  I survived, but I now have issues with corn in any form. 

On the bright side (ok, this is a stretch) I will look on this as a pre New Years party reminder of just how horrible having the unavoidable heaves can be.  Yes, it is a good thing that I spent a day upchucking out of the door of a rolling vehicle. 

Sunday, December 26, 2004

I will watch Coal Trucks and smile

Back to the not at all famous but wonderful nonetheless Athens tomorrow. Three more days to finish the job (crossing fingers).  Three more days of popsicle toes and mud spattered boots and cuffs. Three more days of twelve hours at three miles and hour.  Three more days of watching loaded coal trucks heading south on 50 then half an hour later empty and north to load and head back south.

It struck me the other day that the drivers of the coal trucks and I are running on parallel tracks theirs about 40 miles round, mine 40 acres. Load and speed differentiate us, we spend the hours starting before dawn and ending just after sunset going round and round doing what we do.  Tick tick tick the hours spin round. Yellow freightliner with a side dump, red international with a conventional dump, green ford with a tarp over the load several more and I may be wrong about the make of the trucks, I could be wrong about the color order, but it is the same trucks and the same loads and I see them over and over as they pass. I mark my day by the passing of drivers that I will never meet in trucks that I have started to recognize. Keep rolling drivers taking your load of coal to wherever it is going, my day is more interesting because you are running in a loop that intersects with my world two times an hour. I will run my circles at three miles an hour and watch you pass and smile.

Texas Holdem and Holiday Cheer

It was not the plan or an intention yet, yesterday we celebrated Christmas in our hearts and Texas Holdem with our hands.  Family holiday gatherings are always unpredictable with the fella's bunch.  Fun, but ya just never know.

Family and food, catching up and kids spun through the first two hours, then cousin Shawn cleared the poker table (remind me to post a photo of the basement sometime) and started dealing. Two hands later, Aunt Gladys and Aunt Lucille who previously had been known for their cooking ability and ladylike demeanors took to riding "the river" like a pair of white water rafters.  As the day progressed, players came and went but those two dominated the table for hours.  Claiming to have never played poker they worked their hands and pulled bluffs like the sharpest card players in Vegas.  What a hoot!

Christmas (and casino night) wound down around nine.  Fortunately for everyone except the Aunts at my house we play for bragging rights not money so the Aunts did no damage to anyone's pocketbook, but it could have been ugly.

Hope that everyone had a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

It coulda been worse ...

I suppose the snow here fell more or less evenly but with the wind, some spots ended up as bare ground, some waist deep drifts, none of it in convenient places.  Fourteen maybe sixteen inches of snow fell all told.  But, Hello! Some organization here please! You! Bare spots! On the roads. Drifts?  Arrange yourself artfully around the base of trees, along the rooftops and against the non entry sides of buildings.  No?  Sigh.

My snow rearranging started at 7 this morning, the drives parking lot and lane were cleared at about 3 PM.  That is when the first snowplow went down our road, so that worked out.  Not that there is anywhere to go as all the roads are under a level 3 snow emergency and no one is supposed to be driving around on them.

Not that it stops the fellas around here.  Big snow?  They HAVE to attempt to go somewhere. Why? I have never been able to figure that one out.  At nine this morning we got our first call from a road over.  Neighbor guy's wife asking the fella if he could plow his way over a road to help neighbor guy remove his plow truck from a snow drift.  Later in the morning, neighbor from just up the road called and he was going stir crazy too.  My fella plowed his way up the road to clear the driveway for up the road neighbor, but one road over neighbor fired up his snowmobile and drove one road further over to pick up another guy and together, those two shoveled out his plow truck.  Any other day of the year, all of these fellas would have been content to sit in their easy chairs watching the tv, but this was a particularly bad snow so...

 

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Snowstom!

This morning I was in Athens, no not THAT Athens, no Parthenon, no Coliseum, just charming (and I mean it -- absolutely charming) windy streets and beautiful little shops and restaurants Athens, Ohio.  I was working there, but the weather took to raining so it was time to head home. Unfortunately, while it was raining in southern Ohio, it was snowing up north. Not a piddly, who even notices 3 or 4 inches snow more of a WOA this is going to be the big daddy of the season SNOWING.

POO!

175 miles at an average of 40 miles per hour, yikes.  Anyway, as soon as I arrived home, I commenced the oh boy am I pissed at all those folks who have been yammering about wanting a white Christmas snow removal preparations. I put fuel in the backhoe, loader and bobcat, gasoline in the generator (and spare cans filled), then lined up boots, hats, gloves and carharts in the back hall then I started waiting. 

If you watch the weather channel I am smack in the middle of the northern third of that dark purple swath where 12+ inches of snow is predicted to fall by tomorrow afternoon.  Something tells me that tomorrow instead of artfully decorating Christmas cookies, I will be rearranging the main ingredient of that white Christmas. 

Sunday, December 12, 2004

To Continue the theme ...

I am working my way through a serious pout this evening!  I have spent the entire weekend scrambling to get enough ahead to do John's weekend assignment (is cool or what)?  Anyway -- not going to happen and I am headed off to work out of town for the week four hours before the crack of dawn tomorrow.  Hell.

On the up side, the fella is staying here so I don't have to camp out in the field with the dogs. Yea!!  I get to live indoors! (Don't laugh, you get old enough, sleeping indoors moves way up on the priorities list no matter how outdoorsy you imagine yourself to be.)

Will check back on Friday and I am doing the way fun weekend assignment from this week then!

 

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Nope, Not tonight either ...

Ok, here's the story.  Last night I promised (Spots) that I would add an entry to my journal.  I didn't.  Yawanna know what I did instead? I went to bed at 7:30. I love not being young anymore. Sleep at 7:30 on a Saturday night and not a second of despair over any theoretical missed excitement. I slept peacefully because I am old enough to know that if an event is truly exciting enough to loose sleep over it will be self announcing at a volume guaranteed to wake me, like an UFO crash landing in the front field. Anything less, it can wait.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

All I need is a Grand Piano ...

As if  8,000 blinking lights on a 14 foot tree wasn't enough, I continued my extravaganza of holiday excess by adding several hundred glass ornaments and ribbon of gold lame.  I may be wrong, but I believe that I have reincarnated Liberace as the Christmas Tree in my living room.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Night Before Christmas

 

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thankful

Tonight I am thankful that I know a man who loves spotted dogs.

He is a rescuer of the old and sick and tossed away dogs and opens his home and his heart to return the love that they need to give.

This day has been a long one and I despaired finding the purpose of this day, then by grace, there he was.

Tonight I am thankful that I know a man who loves spotted dogs.

It is all about the Cheesecake

 

As Promised, Cheesecake Recipe.

Note before you start -- this recipe makes 3 nine inch round cheesecakes.  Cheesecake freezes beautifully.

OH!  And my oven is a convection oven. If you have a conventional oven up the temperatures by 25 degrees!

Crust

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In medium sized bowl combine:

3 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon grated lemon peel (from real fresh lemons not the dried stuff in the jar)

Mix well, then add

1 Cup softened butter (real butter, I use salted butter, if you prefer sweet butter, that works fine too.  I have no idea what fake butter or shortening will do to this recipe and I don't want to know, if you try either, please do not tell me.)

Mix again until all ingredients are combined. You should be able to easily form a ball from the dough with your hands.  Divide the dough into three pieces.  Smash the dough into the bottom only of three nine inch spring form or straight sided cake layer pan.  You can get all neat about it and roll the dough out and cut a nice circle then lay that in the bottom of the pan, but you were just smooshing the dough around with your hands to form a ball then divide it in three so you decide if you want to get out a rolling pin.

Bake the crust in your preheated (you did preheat -- right?) oven for 10 minutes.  You don't want the crust to brown, just set, it will finish browning when you bake the cheesecake.

Cheesecake

Remove your pans from the oven, set aside to cool.  Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees.

In a very large bowl combine

9 eight ounce packages of softened cream cheese.

3 cups sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Mix -Mix - Mix

then add

7 eggs (I use extra large eggs -- but cheesecake is pretty forgiving so if you use large or jumbo it should not make a huge difference.  If you use small eggs, you are on your own.)

3/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2

Mix until well combined.  Pour cheesecake mixture into your prepared pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for around 50 minutes.  Cheesecake is done when only the middle 2 inches of the cake jiggle when you move the pan slightly.  Take the cakes out of the oven to cool. The middle will finish setting while the cake cools.  After the cake has cooled run a spatula around the outside of the cake to loosen it from the side of the pan.  Do not remove the side of the spring form pan at this point.  Cover cake with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to chill at least four hours before serving.  If you are going to freeze the cake, skip the refrigerator and put the plastic wrapped cake right into the freezer.

Raspberry Sauce

2 cups frozen whole raspberries

1 cup sugar

Place the raspberries and the sugar into a heavy saucepan.  Heat over low heat until the berries are thawed and stirring combines the berries and the sugar into a liquid. Increase heat to medium.  Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches the "jell" stage on a candy thermometer.

Chill sauce and serve over slices of cheesecake.

One nine inch cake should be cut into at least 16 slices.

 

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Day before Thanksgiving ...

Three cheesecakes, one each pumpkin, pecan and apple pies, scalloped corn, sweet potato casserole are done!  Bacon for the baked beans is cooking now.  Dressing will be next.  Just an update folks (ok, an excuse to stop cooking and sit down).

10:28 pm - Update:  Beans, raspberry sauce for the cheesecake nut baskets and Gravy are done!  HA!

Frozen Fruit salad -- sigh.  I am the only one around here that will eat it! So no frozen fruit salad.  Also missing from this years extravaganza of the expected -- green bean casserole.  I know, I know, if you live in the middle part of the country mixing canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup and Durkee French Fried onions is practically hard wired in the genetics.  Not doing it this year, bet that no one will notice.

Tomorrow will be a 25 pound turkey, a ham and mashed potatoes.  Oh and burned brown and serve rolls.  I always forget about them and they end up black on the bottom.  Has happened every year since forever. No joke, don't know what it is with me has to be some sort of freakish mental block. 

I know that this was just a list of food.  Promise to post my cheesecake recipe tomorrow.  Because for me, holiday celebrations are all about the cheesecake.

Happy Thanksgiving folks!

 

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Hunting season

God bless and protect from accidents all hunters taking to the woods this time of year, and God help any that dare discharge a weapon on my farm without stopping by the house to tell me that they are out there.

A true story.

Several years ago this hunting season, a group of three fools took to our woods.  Hunting deer or just looking for an excuse to get out of the house and waste ammunition they ended up here.  As a rule that is not a problem, however, this time the fella's girls were here.  The girls had just come inside the house and suddenly BLAM and ping ping ping deer shot is bouncing off the siding.   Oh    Holy   Hell.

It took me seconds to jump into the first pair of shoes that I hit but no time at all to start cursing them, their mothers and their mother's choice of footwear at the top of my lungs.  Then I was OUT THAT DOOR at a dead run to collect a few trophies of my own.  I was beyond livid.  Nosebleed mad and swearing to shock a sailor, I headed towards the fools that dared to discharge a firearm towards a house where children were present.  By the time I turned the corner of the house they were at a dead run too.  Had it not been for a several hundred foot head start I would have caught them.  It is just as well that I didn't because they would have had to shoot me dead to keep me from strangling them.  Instead, swearing like a longshoreman and on a thirty degree day wearing a T-shirt, jeans and a pair of the fella's tennis shoes, I chased them through the woods until they were clear of the property line.  I became something of a local legend, apparently.

Since that day, hunters ALWAYS let us know when the are there. Even if they are following a deer, a member of the group breaks off to stop at the house to let us know that they are on the property.  That is best, I believe. It keeps everyone safe from accidental gunshot wounds and hearing swear words at a volume that should not be possible from a human female.

God bless and keep hunters this season, and remind them that firearms are ineffective against truly angry human females who know all the best swear words and how to use them.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Findlay, Ohio Loves the First Lady!

Wednesday the 28th, my friend Scottie and I went to a rally for President Bush!  His speech was wonderful and inspiring, but for me, the highlight of the event happened before his plane even touched down at the airport.

About twenty minutes before the rally started, an excited murmur swept like a wave through the crowd.  "Laura is going to be with the President!" "No!" "Yes! She is traveling with him today!"

The official announcement came just before the rally started.  The applause and cheering was the loudest of the day.  The President and Laura Bush were not there to hear it, I hope that someone told them.  On a day just before an election, in a city that doesn't get many Presidential visits, the First Lady got the loudest applause. Ohio loves and appreciates the First Lady.

 

 

Oh! And this is a complete aside, but the secret service man pictured behind Laura was wearing the MOST stunning dark red silk tie.  The fella is about his size and I would love to know where he got it!  Anyone?

Happy Birthday Mrs. L

Happy Halloween

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Technology

I have one of those fancy toothbrushes with a tiny battery powered motor that makes it vibrate, whir and spin. This morning, the technology failed.  There I stood at the sink, toothpaste already on the brush no whirring, no spinning. Egad!  I thought to myself, how am I going to brush my teeth? My toothbrush doesn't work!

I am going through the house today to take the batteries out of every household whatever that used to work just fine without the aid of a tiny electric motor.  I mean it.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ok, THAT wasn't any fun ...

Why don't we have "nonplused" as a choice of mood?  Spent a lot of time with that mood lately, can't recall a single second of chillin' in my life. Aside.

The last several weeks I have spent a lot of time working out of town.  No, not like that.  Working.  Twelve hours of up and down the ladder on the floater, roaring Caterpillar engine, hooking and unhooking hoses, dust or mud, sometimes both and dogs.  Out of town work means dogs. Mine.

Hold on! I am not one of THOSE crazy people (that I am one of another kind is not the subject of this entry).  I travel with my two monsters only because they can't be left alone for three or four days at a time and the old guy doesn't deal well with being left in a kennel.  The fact that the monsters are farm guard dogs means that they bark at all unusual noises which means that when I travel with two large dogs when I work out of town motels stays are out and the comforts of the fella's sleeper on his semi are in.  Yow.  I do shower at the motel and grab take out for dinner but ... (sigh).

The drive home at the end of the job is the worst.  My neon, after spending several days out in a field is dusty and covered with dog paw prints. There I am driving, tired and disheveled, pup in the front passenger seat, buddy in the back, both of them sitting up looking forward while they ride (you would think that they would have the decency to act like dogs and hang out the windows). Nope, they act like passengers, human passengers. People glance over as they pass, and get "the look" on their faces. Crazy dog lady alert!  That is fair I suppose, at those moments I, AM crazy dog lady.  Sigh, at least the dogs don't talk to me while we ride. Well, sometimes they do, but I ignore them.

By the way this entry was not a plea for sympathy, honest, I see the humor in the situation and frankly, the dogs say that it serves me right.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Rain

Rain this afternoon. Hallelujah! Perfect excuse to take a very long afternoon nap.  Ok, this was supposed to be more interesting turned out to not be so much.  Will think on it and get back.  Promise!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Train of Terror

Train of Terror -- theme for our Halloween Display.  If I commence whining and complainin don't go getting me wrong, I love Halloween, the one holiday in the year with no emotional expectations or repercussions.  Well, that and it is an occasion when heavy, overly dramatic make-up doesn't make folk look at a gal all funny like. 

Anyway.  I am supposed to come up with "scary stuff" to put around the train tracks.  Either I am suffering creative block or hormonal imbalance because the one idea that has galvanized in my mind as truly terrifying involves large wooden cutouts of women in aprons with talk bubbles that contain phrases that our mother's said and we all swore we never would but long about 40 start saying anyway.  Theme?  You WILL eventually turn into your mother and there is nothing that you can do about it.

AAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Seriously,  real carved pumpkins lining either side of the track.  We did that last year and the candle light combined with the locomotive steam pooling on the ground was spectacular.  A fog machine would make that effect more consistent -- but on cold nights the real steam and the pumpkins was nothing short of magic.  Gonna do that again this year. One problem with real pumpkins is that once cut they start to melt, three weeks down the line they are rotted pools of moosh and more disgusting than beautiful or scary.  I cast a few from plaster last year -- but plaster isn't translucent so the effect was not the same.  Experimenting with spray-on expanding insulation and paint.  So far that is not so promising either.  Thinking thinking.

Wooden cutouts of monsters and witches. Floating jack-o'-lanterns and ghost lights, pondering how to do that.  Ghosts floating in the field.  Ok, ideas are forming but with two weeks to go to pull this off I have got to get moving.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Hello journal!! Getting to be that time of year! Holiday display season. You understood that is what I was talking about, right?

Last year at the little train in Findlay I worked on the Christmas Display. Along the lines of no good deed goes unpunished -- they have asked me to do some work on Halloween before Christmas kicks in. Yikes. Almost eight acres is a lot of territory to cover.

I will be writing in my journal -- but if you have no interest in panic holiday design and implementation -- check back after new-years. ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Locomotives run straight unless the rail says otherwise.

Locomotives by their nature are inclined to run straight, the rail has the job of convincing them otherwise.  I spent this weekend volunteering with a wonderful group of people who get together to demonstrate the magic of steam power to kids and adults alike.  Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation put its the annual "Tracks to the Past" show.  (Check out the link in my favorite places!!!!)  We run a real quarter scale steam train.  This entry is going to turn all stream of consciousness on me, I have that feeling. 

Children are fascinated by the little Locomotive.  Their first question is invariably "where do you put in the gas"?  The answer -- no gas, just coal and water, leads to a look of wonder followed by a series of questions that, so far, have always ended up with something along the lines of "oh cool"!  Children are amazing.  Engine 901 is amazing.  While it pulls passenger cars that are comfortable for adults, the loco itself is small enough for a child to wrap his or her imagination around.  Steam power, kids get it.  Oh cool!

I started with the fact that Locomotives want to run in a straight line.  Steering.  I have a baby railroad in my "back yard."  Bigger than the quarter scale train but run by either diesel or gas.  We collect Industrial Switcher Engines which were used in manufacturing to move raw material in and product out of factories.  That is the hook for me with our railroad.  Our small attempt to preserve a mostly ignored part of American manufacturing history.  I like the idea that we have taken a machine that some average working Joe spent years running and caring for and probably thought that was rotting away in a junkyard, gave that machine some rework and a shiny coat of paint and put it back to work giving the occasional joy ride and a quick lesson in our manufacturing history.  My "oh, cool"!  Telling our guests who made our locos, where they worked, what they did and who ran them, if I know.

Back to the beginning, the hardest part for me of learning to run our locos was getting over wanting to steer.  No steering wheel in a locomotive, and the locomotive is designed to run straight, so the rail takes over.  No steering, one less thing to do while I operate the throttle and brakes on a machine that with every trip pays tribute to the average Joe from somewhere in the past moving American goods in and out of a factory.  Oh, cool!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Five Items in a Time Capsule

 

Weekend Assignment #23:

100 years from now, your great-great-great-grandchild has been assigned to write a school report on your life and times. Help him or her by putting five things in a time capsule.

Five Items to be left in a time capsule. Five items standing proxy for me one hundred years on. Hmmmm

The items that I have chosen are in the photo above.

Item 1.  Hard to see in the picture -- but in the center foreground on my key ring is an old fashioned skeleton key that worked the lock on the door to one of the third floor bedrooms at my Nana's Lake house. The key is mere symbol, the doors at that house were almost never locked.  As children we visited every summer.  As an adult I had the privilege of living there with Nana and Mom.  It is my Brother's home now. Almost a hundred years and three generations, the lake house has been an absolute in a world of constant change.

Item 2.   Stack of reference books and a copy of the plans for the house that the fella and I built. The one that I am sitting in, actually.  The two of us, with the help of chain saw George (a carpenter) and 2 guys from up the road, literally built the house. Seventeen weeks -- first line on the plans to ready for carpet and move in.  No joke.  We did the whole thing including the plans, except for pouring the basement that we hired out. The house is big, beautiful, rock solid and will still be standing one hundred years from now.  

Item 3.  Index card file, index cards and Miss Roseberg's (another wonderful teacher -- Junior Year English Comp.) instructions on how to use same to compose a term paper.  Her system worked, I still use it to design databases.  One fact per card ... One hundred years from now it will still be useful.

Item 4.  A can of Pledge.  Greatest all purpose household product ever invented. Shiner of stainless steel, softener of leather upholstery, counter polish, keeper of water spot free "facilities."  That item was already out on the counter because I keep pledge close at all times, ya just never know...

Item 5. Look up.  My pot rack that holds not a single pot -- rather an entirecollection of stainless steel spoons, ladles, tongs, spatulas and strainers. I have occasion to cook, when I cook, I use lots of shiny utensils.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

An Easter Story

In the universe of stickum, the adhesive potential of flour, eggs, butter and cocoa has been woefully overlooked, I believe. A family story.
 I was too young to remember when the stickum originally stuck, my two older sisters were there and claim to remember. The story started as theirs but, it has been told and laughed over so many times that it doesn't matter if the details are exactly right. The remembering and laughing is the point.   My mother somehow acquired an aluminum cake mold in the shape of a lamb. Once an unusual piece of bakeware arrives in a home an obligation to use it develops.  It is some sort of domestic mojo. I was once burdened with a simple circular Jell-O mold. It was not long before I felt compelled to start combining ingredients, colors and garnish in an extravaganza of chilled rococo creativity. I knew that it was time to throw the thing out or enter a 12 step program when I attempted to faithfully recreate a DeLarobia Fruit Wreath using marzipan and lime Jell-O.  Anyway.  
Despite four young children to watch over, my Mother managed to mix, bake and unmold the two halves of the cake (front and back, in the event that you have never seen this particular mold). Standing the two halves together and securing them with frosting proved to be my mother's undoing. The two halves sagged, they fell over, the lamb's head came loose and a reattach was attempted (the story goes) so instead of a spring lamb resting in the grass after a frolic, the cake resembled a lamb lying on the slaughterhouse floor.   Doesn't that look awful" said sister number one. Sister number one was no more than five years old at the time and had learned that phrase from my mother so she was not to blame for the results of the use of one of my Mother's pet phrases at a truly inopportune time. As my mother gazed upon the lamb carcass cake the inescapable truthof those words must have struck like a spring thunderstorm.  Agreeing with sister number one, my mother repeated "doesn't that look awful" and suddenly swept the whole mess up into the air and onto the ceiling. Some of that cake never came back down.  
We moved from that house when I was eight. As the last box was loaded into the moving van and the entire family tumbled into the car headed for a new home in a different city, one small piece of that cake remained on the ceiling. There are things once stuck that can never be unstuck and although left behind are never forgotten.

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Goodbye Summer!

Time to put away the white shoes and the beach towels.  Pack up the cannoe and the sailboat. Out come the sweaters with the smell of cedar clinging.  Another summer waves goodbye.

.

By the way, feel free to swipe this gif (for personal use only of course). I invested a few hours of my day today putting it together for my new summer friends!

Tile Grout Day

Yesterday was the beginning of that thrilling month long event that I like to refer to as ...  oh, wait, I can't say that here.  Fall cleaning. Of course, that is what I call it. ::smile::  Now before any of you get upset, Fall cleaning is not in addition to Spring cleaning. In fact, Fall cleaning is what happens when I put off real Spring cleaning for so long that I have to add the task of sweeping brightly colored leaves out of the garage to my list.  I know, I know -- just embarrassing. Oh and for the previously mentioned task, I don't use a broom, I use a leaf blower.  But I was going to talk about grout.  Yes, I really do use a leaf blower to "sweep" the garage. I would use it in the house too if I thought that I could get away with it. Grout.

Tile, real floor tile, requires grout. Grout lines are inevitably lower than the surface of the tile. Dirt descends, grabs a hold, then sticks until forced to move. Oh! My floors are clean! Ewww!  The thought! Contrarywise, grout even with a twice daily assault by stiff broom and a washing at least two or three times a week gets grimy looking after a while. It is then that I drag out the heavy equipment. ::Dramatic pause::  The floor scrubber

and a ::gasp:: scrub brush.  Floor scrubber?  Yep. My grandmother used to have one, I thought that they had become extinct.  But no! Hallelujah! Floor scrubbers can still be purchased. After we built the house and made the decision to put in real tile (which was the only flooring that stood any chance of taking the traffic that goes through the kitchen and bathrooms), I realized that I needed one.

I just spent several hundred words talking about scrubbing grout. Sigh. Yesterday I spent most of the day scrubbing grout lines.  Today, I believe, is polishing cabinets and hardware. Wait 'till I tell you about that!

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Strange Dreams

Dream two nights ago.  Picture above, no real story to go with it, the above is pretty much it. Told ya this journal was going to be a collection of completely random thoughts and observations. And I guess now images that appear in dreams.  ;-)

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Alice, the Mad Hatter and Me

I had a wonderland day today.  Well, minus the falling down a rabbit hole. And the talking cat.  The "Tweedle" twins showed up, but that comes later.

My strange out of context day came with no warning slide through the mud. Which, if you ask me, is just as well.  My day may have been three degrees left of context, but at least I stayed clean.  It started with the first words the fella said to me at the breakfast table: "yanno, I think we need a crane".  I don't know about you, but to me, breakfast conversation should be limited to "would you like some more coffee" or "how about a nice toasted bagel" and the like. Not today.  Sigh.

::Waving both hands:: the burning issue of a need for a crane or not aside -- my morning consisted of looking for various bits and pieces of maintenance parts for both our trucks and the current locomotive under rebuild.  That I was talking to the same places the for items for the two was part of the problem, I suspect.  Have you ever had a conversation with a salesperson who obviously suspected that you were more than a little bit out of your mind? Gets you to wondering too.

My afternoon consisted of various errands in town with a final stop at the local cellular phone company to resolve a data loss problem with the fella's phone.  The salesperson made a lengthy show of reprograming the slightly older than a year old phone, then proceeded to try to convince me that it didn't work, was out of warranty and that I would need to buy a new one.  Her sales pitch might have been more convincing if after the reprogramming show, while she went to the back to check to see whether I was authorized to talk about the account, I hadn't picked the phone up from behind the counter where she thought she had secured it and made a phone call out to the fella.  "Can you hear me now"?  Loud and clear lady.  Guessing she thought I was crazy too.

Then while watching the news, I saw where Michael Moore was at the Republican convention and received a hearty round of Boo's.  He stood there waving and smiling.  Suddenly, in my weird out of context frame of mind I decided that I actually like the man.  Don't get me wrong, the man's viewpoint is anathema to everything I think, but he does say things that he believes need to be said and he lets no one stop him. Gotta admire that.  I decided that I have a warm spot in my heart for Michael Moore, I am gonna get a ride down that muddy rabbit hole yet.

The "Tweedle" twins.  My dogs of course.  On our evening walkies, they both took to barking like crazy up at the top of a slender maple.  There was nothing in that tree!  Could not have been more than a hundred leaves at the ends of a few twigs. Nothing was in that tree, but they kept barking and looking up until I too was standing at the base of the tree looking up.  They had me convinced.  I suspect that to end my day I was the victim of some sort of dog joke and the dogs are still laughing.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

You! Me! The President!

The President was on his way to Perrysburg, Ohio today to make a speech, were it not for a weather delay along his route, he would have made (we were told) a short stop in the city of Fostoria, Ohio.  Even though Fostoria is a city that struggles with unemployment and is considered more a "union town," a large crowd gathered along almost the entirety of the President's route through town, a mile or more anyway.  The crowd gathered and stood in drizzle and threatening rain for hours, just to wave as he drove by.  We hoped that he would have time to stop, but understood that he might not.

I like Fostoria, mostly working folk, mostly working on welcoming and blending Asian, Black and Hispanic citizens into the mix of people that live there.  The Fella spent his early years there, before his family moved out to the farm.  He still likes the place better than the other cities in the area.  Fostoria doesn't put on airs.  The citizens of Fostoria are good people.  And those people were excited that our President was going to drive through, and maybe stop. I waited with my friends Dana who works for a local paper and Scottie, a truck driver and EMT.  Next to us stood man that owns a small business and his wife and children, four extraordinarily well behaved boys. One of the group around me, stood out, a woman with a poster and a story.  Two of her children are currently serving in Iraq, one of them volunteered for an extra three months on his tour so that a fellow soldier with a family could come home instead of him.  A third of her children is in the service and scheduled to go "over there" soon. 

The crowd was excited and waited to wave as our President drive by.  He did.  I turned to my friend Dana and said.  You! Me! The President!  For a flash of a second that is how it was.

Half and Hour of Heaven

Weekend Assignment #21: School Daze

Fifth grade, Mrs. Sturgis's room, reading. Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 1 PM.

Ten is a wonderful age, we have it all together then. A time when we truly become who we are going to be, pause, then move on to the roller coaster ride of adolescence.  Reading.  Mrs. Sturgis, I am getting there.

Half and hour of wonder.  Three times a week for half an hour of reading class, instead of assignments out of a dry textbook, vocabulary lists and pop quizzes, my teacher, Mrs. Sturgis sat in a straight backed wooden chair in front of her desk, opened a book and read aloud. In those thirty minute sessions of wonder, I searched for golden tickets and visited a magical Chocolate Factory, listened to The Trumpet of the Swan and cried my eyes out over the loss of a hunting dog who was more of a friend in Where the Red Fern Grows.  Because she was a great teacher, those reading sessions were not just entertainment.  At the end of each book Mrs. Sturgis asked us to think about the ideas that the author introduced in the book and how they used the setting, characters and writing style to bring those ideas to life.  I was a reader before those sessions, after, I understood written words are a doorway to places that I would never be able to see and an introduction to people and ideas that I was not likely to encounter any other way.

Thirty-three years later, I still remember the sound of her voice, think about the books she read to a class of fifth graders and ride the magic carpet of written words.

Ode to an Ag-Gator Too





I have one of those jobs that few even know IS a job. One that fewer want to hear about.  Sludge Hauler.  Yep, it is a job. A necessary occupation that combines some of the aspects of Farming and Trucking.  Essentially, we move lime from water plants and ...  uhhh, fertilizer -- from wastewater treatment plants and apply it to farm fields. These municipal services by-products benefit farmers as they do not then have to buy lime or nitrogen fertilizer for the fields that receive the application.  I could go on and on -- but I won't, because I understand that folk's interest in this is limited. 
I was going to talk about my Ag-Gator! Nope, not a star in a "B" horror flick, not some protected reptile from the swamps of the South, a really cool machine. My little baby floater.  That is what I call it, but it is not little.  The tires alone on my Ag-Gator are five and a half feet tall.  Floatation tires are designed to reduce soil compaction in the field that the gator operates on.  Design aside, the effect is to make it seem as if I am operating a vehicle with tires made of marshmallow.  Bouncy, springy, fun!  The ride makes me laugh!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Ode to an Ag-Gator

This is another of my pretend entries.  The plan -- to finish a four day job that we are currently working then tell you (mostly) about it.  Because I have a few minutes, I thought that I would stop in and tell you that I am not ignoring my journal, I am spending my time in a place that doesn't even have bathrooms, let alone an Internet connection.  Back soon.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Diesel Fumes and Dancecards

I intended to add a photo of Locomotive number 5 to this entry, but my computer has the program that can read the "big disc" for our digital camera (which is where the pictures of "old rusty" reside) and I am using the fella's computer to write a journal entry because my computer is riding around in the back of an ATV programming switches for the baby railroad.  Never mind, really, just don't think about it.  Heaven knows I am trying to do just that.

Why the silly animation then?  That is one that I put together of our first engine, the Brookville, to represent the steps we went through to bring her from near scrap condition to where she is today.  "Old Rusty" is in the very first steps of a similar but far more complicated process. So just pretend that the animation above shows all the sheet metal coming off (that could be done like and explosion -- wouldn't that be cool)? the engine being pulled and disassembled, and the smell of "blaster" wafting through the air.

*****Added Note****  My computer returned from the earlier adventure, so I replaced the animation of the Brookville with a photo of Loco number 5.  The silly animation has been moved to http://journals.aol.com/thisismary/ViewFromAFarmHouseWindow/entries/56

Did I read that there was a ball of some sort last night?  Fancy dresses and music? Music and laughter?  Conversation?  Sigh.  Just as well I heard after the fact, the smell of old rust and solvent hangs with a gal, even after a hot shower and a dousing in perfume.  You don't even want to know what axle grease does to chiffon.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

No Getting Around It -- The Leaves are Changing.

It is the middle of August here in Ohio.  Usually this time of year the weather makes a person feel as if they are living in bottom of an asphalt layer's work boot. This summer has been cooler than usual, which is fine.  But now the trees are all weirded out.  The leaves are starting to change color.  In a normal year, this process would start in late September.

I suspect that the Buckeyes are the instigators here, they are the furthest along in the process. The Ash trees and the Sycamores always tag along and do whatever the Buckeyes do so I don't really blame them.  So far, the Oaks are having nothing to do with the early change of the younger trees. We will see if they hold out until mid October as they are supposed to do.

Friday, August 20, 2004

My Favorite Entry -- So Far ...

A walk in the woods.  This entry is my favorite because it is a record of a delightful but minor surprise that would likely have soon been forgotten had I not journalized it. 

More than anything else, this entry made me realize how valuable journaling is. With my journal I can preserve and share life's tiny wonders.

http://journals.aol.com/thisismary/ViewFromAFarmHouseWindow/entries/117

Heart's Desire

"If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."
- Dorothy to Glinda   "The Wizard of Oz"


Ok, so it aint Thoreau. :: Shrugging:: My life has always been more whirlwind than walden anyway.


Heart's Desire. Looking around.
Was Dorothy right in deciding that a lifetime in blue gingham and oxfords dull with Kansas farm dust should be the height of aspiration? Or is that part of human nature that tells us to go for the ruby slippers the greater dream?

Much Too Much

Update on the fella's adventure. It turned out to be more than railroad bits and pieces, we now are the proud owners of locomotive number six. My mother used to have a phrase when something (anything) someone was doing started to get out of control. Her phrase went something like "oooooooh! That's much to much!".

I am starting to understand now EXACTLY what she meant.

The link below takes you to the entry explaining how the railroad "thing" started.

http://journals.aol.com/thisismary/ViewFromAFarmHouseWindow/entries/56

Thursday, August 19, 2004

And then the neighbor fella

Ok, just now -- neighbor guy. Honest we do not get this many unannounced visitors in a usual week. What is up with tonight?
8 PM and all seems to have quieted down. Talking to friends online via IM and reading my favorite message board "Free Parking" in the Autos area.

Amish folk and politicians

An evening online. I have decided that this is how I am going to invest my free time tonight.
Mail!!  One of those forwards that asks you to answer a series of questions. Purpose is for my friend to let me know how they think and a chance for me to respond letting them know a little bit about me. I suspect that my answers will surprise and possibly annoy.  Questions like: 

Is the glass half full or half empty? 

Require answers along the lines of :

Mostly

:: pause in the action::
Ok busy night tonight!! Just half an hour ago -- the crew that built our pole barns stopped by to fix a couple of leaks in the wainscoting. Unannounced of course. We knew that they were going to stop by sometime. But tonight. So there I was walking halfway down the lane, no shoes, to end up talking to a group of 10 or so Amish fellas. (At least this time I was clean) last time the fella was gone and I had to talk to them I was in the middle of sandblasting...


Where was I? Oh! Dealt with the Amish builders and then not 5 minutes ago -- a neighbor running for the board of our local electric co-op stopped by.

So far tonight -- Amish folk and politicians. Gonna get interesting.

Time Alone

My office work is done for the day, the house is clean, the fella just left for one of his adventures seeking old railroad bits and pieces and once the trucks that are out get back safely and their drivers headed home I will have an evening to myself. Thinking -- thinking, how will I invest this rare alone time?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Last Dance of Stardust

I am going to stay awake tonight to watch for shooting stars. Have not done that in years. Been too busy being busy to loose sleep over the sight of stardust heading towards earth. Wonder why that is. How did an early start on accomplishing things of little importance end up on my schedule ahead of watching the last dance of stardust?

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Sweet Corn Day

Yesterday was the official yearly sweet corn day here.  I believe that folk would lobby for this day to be at a minimum, a regional holiday, but the date changes every year and at that is subject to opinion, so how could an official date be set?

Sweet corn.  Wonderful stuff. Cooked and served on the cob a messy but wondrous summer treat. Cooked, removed from the cob and frozen, tiny little kernels of preserved sunshine, ready to warm cold winter evenings.  Corn on the cob is a delight any time that local grown corn is available during the growing season.  Freezer corn is a different vegetable entirely.  You may not know it (or even care) but there is sweet corn and there is sweet corn worth freezing.  Sweet corn worth freezing cooks up and hold sweetness through chilling and reheating.  Early season corn wont do that.  Wait too long and starchy sets in.  Freezer corn is sweet corn that has reached the summer peak. The only way to determine when those few days in a growing season occur is to cook local corn, chill it and reheat. If it tastes sweet on reheating, the corn is ready.

Yesterday was the day here.  Nine AM and six bushels of corn were in the back of my truck headed home.  Ten hours later all six bushels were shucked, cooked, taken off the cob, bagged and in the freezer.  The counters were sticky and I was tired, but a year's supply of sweet corn like none you can get from a grocery freezer or out of a can was safely in my deep freeze.

How To Freeze Corn

Some preparation is absolutely necessary.  You will need at least two friends.  One to watch any childern that you, they and the third friend may have.  Putting up sweet corn involves large pots of boiling water.  Boiling water in the proximity of children is a very bad thing.  Don't risk it.  Friend number two is to help you shuck the corn and help you put it in bags to run to the freezer.  If they mix a mean margarita, that is most helpful, but not necessary.

Start early in the morning.  Buy sweet corn fresh from a LOCAL grower.  Make sure that you get corn picked that morning.  Find out the time that the corn arrives from the field, be there when the tractor arives.  Buy your corn, put it in your car and speed home.  I mean speed.  Put the corn in the refrigerator (or in the event that you are buying large quantities, cold running well water).

Put fresh water in the biggest stock pot(s) that you own, me, I use two twenty four quart pots, but then I also have a commercial stove that kicks out btu's like you wouldn't believe. Oh, and a 24 quart pot full of water and corn weighs around 40 pounds, if you can't lift that kind of weight, bearing in mind that the contents will eventually be boiling water and hot corn, pick smaller pots.

 Put the pot of fresh cold water on the stove on high heat.  Wait for it to boil.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, shuck the corn.  When your water reaches a full boil, put the corn in the stock pot.  Wait for the water to come to a full boil again.  When it does, set your timer for eleven minutes.  Not ten and one half minutes, not twelve minutes, eleven minutes exactly.

While the corn is cooking, prepare your chilling water.  I use a big tub and fill it with running cold water and a bag of ice.  At the end of the eleven minutes cooking time, take the stock pot off of the heat, dump the boiling water down the drain, dump the corn into the ice cold water.  Wait for the corn to chill completely.  Take the corn out of the cold water, cut it off of the cob as fast as you can, put the cut corn into plastic freezer bags and then run the corn to your deep freeze. Refill your stock pots with fresh cold water and start over.

Yes it is a lot of work.  Yes it takes all day to put up enough corn for all year.  Yes it is worth it. Pictures to be added later, but the fella took off with the camera that had my corn fixin pictures on it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

It was an Eastern Bluebird!! I just looked it up. In my very own hayfeild a real live Bluebird! (Not so common around here). Oh! I was back in the feild today as were the Purple Martins. Living on a farm in Ohio can get lonely, but never once in my years of city living did I have the chance to watch Martins dance.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

A flock of purple martins and a tiny amazingly parish blue bird. This isn't a real entry -- just a note to remind myself why a vehicle with floatation tires, a hay field and 3 mph can be a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Frog Lullaby


Right next to the house is a pond.   Tiny as farm ponds go and unusually well tended.  The entire spectrum of wildlife calling the pond home is 9 white amurs to keep the green stuff at bay and bullfrogs.  Lots and lots of bullfrogs.
In the summer evenings the frogs start singing.  Deep short grunting croaks followed by longer vibrating higher pitched hoots. The song goes back and fourth across the pond from one frog to another for hours.  The frog chorus is familiar and somehow comforting and on cool nights I open my windows and the frog song is a lullaby and the frogs sing me to sleep.



Friday, July 23, 2004

There is magic in music played live ...

Had a big get together a couple of weeks ago.  It was a wonderful time, at least that is what I keep hearing.  For me, pretty much a blur of activity.  Raise your hand folks if you have ever thrown a party that multiple hundreds of people attended and you don't hire a caterer.  Nodding wisely, yes, you know what I mean.  The point is that the guests have a great time and food and drink and no one feels neglected.  That takes some doing.

The reason for the party is to let folks enjoy the baby railroad that the fella is putting together.  And that happened.  Two trains were running nonstop full for 4 or 5 hours.  Then more on than off for the remaining two hours.  This year, this year I stood my ground and insisted on hiring local musicians to play.  Live music, there is nothing like it. For me, as I scampered about refilling this and checking on that, stopping to smile and chat for a few seconds, introduce people of similar interests to each other and then move on, I listened.

The band "Custom Blend" out of Carey, Ohio is a group of fellas that have been playing together for close to forever and their skill shows that.  They played wonderful covers of a blend of country and pop songs that I swear to you was perfect for the diverse group that was in attendance.  But there was one moment that just blew me away.

Last song and I finally had a minute to stop to stand in the background and listen to the band.  In this moment they revealed their skill at entertaining and delighted me beyond any other moment in recent memory.  One train was still running and somehow the band timed the song so that as they were singing the last refrain, the train, headlight shining through the night, whistle blowing climbed the last hill headed for the station.  I stood there in the dark and under the stars and listened in wonderment. Magic.  Perfect song to end the night, timed to frame a moment that I will never forget. Music played live and with skill - there is nothing like it in the world.

City to City Lyrics
Artist(Band):Gerry Rafferty


Now the night train is waitin’ to take me away
And I’m still feelin’ guilty cause you’re wanting me to stay
Well I know, how I know, it’s harder on you
But you said it yourself, there’s nothing else we could do.

When the wheels start turnin’, takin’ me through the night
Out there in the darkness, there’s a star shinin’ bright
And it makes me feel better just to see it up there
I hope you’re thinkin’ about it, hope you know I still care.

So goodnight, yeah goodnight
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home
So goodnight, yeah goodnight
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home.

Now I know you’ve been waiting, but I’ll be seeing you soon
Meanwhile I just lay here staring at the moon
And a light made of silver, through my window it creeps
And the train keeps on rollin’, and it just rocks me to sleep.

So goodnight, yeah goodnight
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home
So goodnight, yeah goodnight
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home

So goodnight, yeah goodnight
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home.
So goodnight, yeah goodnight
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home.

Now from city to city, it’s four hundred miles
And I’m bound to wake up every once in a while
And it’s then that I call out to some higher power
And then I’ll go back to sleep cause I’ll be home in an hour.

So goodnight (goodnight), yeah goodnight (goodnight)
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home (goodnight)
So goodnight (goodnight), yeah goodnight (goodnight)
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home (goodnight)
So goodnight (goodnight), yeah goodnight (goodnight)
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home (goodnight)
So goodnight (goodnight), yeah goodnight (goodnight)
Goodnight train is gonna carry me home (goodnight)

(fade)
I’m going home (ooooh) tonight...
 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

A Walk in the Woods

This entry is about a month late, but better than never.

On the farm where I live is about seven acres of mostly second growth woods.  A few big old oaks and sycamores stand here and there but mostly the flora is seedling and sapling buckeye and maples, except in the spring.  Possibly because until recently the woods were mostly left to the birds, raccoon and deer there is an amazing variety of wildflowers growing there.  Snowdrops first, then May apple, Dutchmen's Breeches, Violets (both blue and yellow), Indian Slipper are the one's that I recognize.  There are more.  Still this year I got a surprise.

Late June the woods flowers long faded and shade of green upon shade of green made up the view. I walked with my dogs as I do most every day but unlike most days when I follow the path made by the rail bed because that way is easy to walk, I wandered through the woods.

Walking through the woods requires care not to step on fallen sticks or get tangled in vines. When the weather is warm, woods dwelling spiders spin their webs from bush to bush and walking through a web is unpleasant for human and spider both. Usually it is just easier to walk where I usually go, but that day I did not. Because I did not, I encountered a surprise.  A Tiger Lilly. In the middle of a small opening, a blaze of bright orange dancing in the middle of all that green.  Should not have been there, but there it was.  I have no idea how it got there as Tiger Lillys are usually planted on purpose and this one was not. Still, I went off of my usual safe path and was rewarded with an encounter that I was not expecting and beauty where it should not have been.

 

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Surprise via Bird's Nest

Today, we switched the direction that our Loco's run on our track. That process while, unorthodox was uneventful. We don't have a turntable so the unorthodox part was stopping the locos at a point where our tracks are close to each other and lifting first one end and moving it to the "other" track then ... never mind, 15 tons of assorted but connected steel bits does not move easily or without something even bigger to move it. Wasn't my point. At all.

We fired up one of our older plymouths that hadn't moved in a while. Running right the engine sounds like a hive of very large bees, today, bees with a collective cold. Odd. As the loco started moving out, there was this wheezing gasp from the muffler followed by a sound that I imagine could be confused with a howitzer being fired ten feet away. I looked up in time to see the flaming remnants of a large bird's next shooting across the lot. Guess that some songbird decided that the old plymouth's muffler was a good place to start this year's family. Their nesting place has been relocated for next year.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

People

Rereading my journal tonight it seems that so far my entries have been a wandering hello, how are ya? Funny how the essentials surface before the incidental even if no particular conscious intention powers them.

I do that, wander. Rarely directly to the point, at least not here, here meaning online, reality isn't. But the people  Much like 3-D life, people show the person that they want you to see. Unlike real life, the illusion does not require the maintenance of a wardrobe. That seems to be the major difference between "real" people and the ones met online, a costume change or two.

There are people important to me I will never meet. Doesn't matter. The conversation is every bit as vital as the ones where matching socks matter, just different. Some of them should have come before the kites and the trains even. Everything sorts itself out in the end.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Ghosts

I work in a building that keeps within the bricks and mortar of its walls part of the history of the township in which I live. My office is a one-room red brick schoolhouse built in 1880 and in continuous use by the local school system until the 1926. After that, my schoolhouse was used as the meeting place for the farmer's grange until we bought it. Does it get better than that? Actually, yes, on at least one occasion, the schoolhouse stood witness to the wedding of a local couple in place of a church that once stood next door. Destroyed in a fire, the church was never replaced, but the graveyard behind where the church stood is still there.

The ghosts next door, if there are any lingering don't visit me. They are at peace I suppose. That or they realize that I am already haunted and therefore not much of a prospect. Haunts. How does a person rid oneself of ghosts? I tried, I did. Took a drive one early fall day to a place that I had never been invited but needed to see anyway. I though that would put my ghosts to rest. Instead I took away a vision of evening light dancing off a mysterious blue machine and rolling hills that reminded me of the place where I grew-up. Home, my ghost exorcising drive ended up reminding me of home. More ghosts, I have not been "home" in years and years and I am not likely to go back any time soon.

Maybe this is the place where I belong; living forever in a flat land between rolling hills and great rivers. Neighbor to a small resting-place where the residents know to leave me alone as I am haunted enough as it is.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

A Dog's Life

I have been away for a few days. Rather, I was here; my typing ability was away. I have two true, count on them no matter what, friends on this earth. But one of them bit me the other day. Of course, I am talking about my dogs. The one in question did not mean it. He is old and crabby and at the time, all wet from a rainstorm that he was not smart enough to come in from. You will have that with dogs. In the process of drying him off with a towel, I must have hit a sore spot. Normally, he gives plenty of warning that he would rather not be messed with, but that night, wham! Around he came and chomp, caught my hand. Clearly, he was immediately sorry as only dogs can be. If you have dogs, you know what I mean. Damage was done. Owwwww! Fortunately he is down to gums and worn teeth or things could have been ugly. Still, a bruise and a smallish hole were enough to prevent typing for a few days. Poor guy. Trip to the vet to see about old dog pain medication is set. If I had realized he was that bad I would have taken him sooner. Dogs do not complain, even when their people are smart enough to come in out of the rain, but too dumb to see what is right in front of them.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Holy water and a wooden boat

Tonight was one of those magic nights. The electronic surf was perfect and washed up an online conversation to be marked in my memory. We talked about what it was that made us what we are today.

For my part, I spoke of holy water, the river that I grew up next to, a river worthy of both love and respect. Powerful water, the Mississippi. Where I lived, not so deep, but wide and fast. Anyone that has spent time with her claims her. But, she is a wonder and wild and will never really be owned by anyone. Navigated, yes, but not contained. She is not a tame river at all.

Time with "my river" was mostly spent in the safety of an old flat bottomed wooden house boat that my father named "Sunny". I always believed that he named her after the song of that name. Maybe instead, it was a wish for a certain forecast painted in golden letters and surrounded by rounded 70's vintage flowers that show up from time to time now, mostly on VW bugs.

The particulars of my boat on the river were that a barge maker named Fred Kahkie crafted her in 1945. She was powered by a straight eight Grey Marine engine that I can still hear rumble in my memory. Slow, she was slow but powerful enough to navigate the Mississippi against the current and in full flood.

Like so much that our parents give us, I did not realize that spending time in the safety of that hand crafted wooden boat on one of the great rivers of the world was something that few people experience. The family got older, "Sunny" was sold, and I have not stood on the shores of "my river" in almost 15 years. I remember. I hope that my "Sunny" is still navigating powerful waters with a Captain at the wheel that loves her as my father did.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is Alive and Well

And parked in my back yard

Around here we have work which goes on full time, year round, then there are "projects" special little slices of hell that happen in addition to "work" and always result in something wonderful but the journey to wonderful is all uphill, mostly in a torrential downpour.

This uphill journey in the rain was my fault entirely.  The fella was spending too much time on the couch watching reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show.  Not like him at all.  I suggested a hobby.  Out of my mouth came the words "You have always liked trains, haven't you?"  What was I thinking?  I was picturing a HO scale train set in the basement utility room.  I could help make dear little trees and houses and... I should have thought this one through before speaking, because I know that the fella never does anything small.  Never.  Dear little trees, HA!

Within a month, there was a 12-ton Switcher Engine being rebuilt in the shop and I was spending most evenings in the woods running a bobcat while the fella worked the backhoe, building a path for his train-set.  Less than a year later we had cleared, graded, laid stone, ties and rail through two thirds of a mile of woods.  We restored the original switcher locomotive, built a hopper car, picked up three more homeless locos in need of attention, and rebuilt a passenger coach. Wonderful.  Just not exactly what I was thinking when I suggested the fella needed a hobby.

Moral of this story?  If you think that your fella is spending too much time watching T.V., let semi-conscious couch potatoes lie because if you suggest that he do something to keep himself busy, you might just get what you asked for and he will take you with him on the ride.

http://hometown.aol.com/alvadatwofooter/

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Today!

Ohio winters are all gray mackerel clouds and damp air. But, Today! It was as if someone turned on the light.  In the last few minutes before the sun started its slide towards evening, I tossed my three kites towards the sky. They flew! My heart went with them swirling in the sun and dancing on the breeze.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Not a thought in my head tonight

Could be the music that I am listening to be the problem, do you suppose? ::Waving both hands:: Doesn't matter. Great happy song.

OK, that is it for the day, trying to push thoughts this late in the day will just lead to weird dreams. 

Anyway I have to write about tiny switcher trains for a different forum. Yep, know that I will have to explain that one sometime.

Monday, February 23, 2004

How on earth does he know that

The fella went round the corner this morning [not to be confused with round the bend which would have been one of those things that just happen as opposed to a deliberate act -- oddly the initial results were similar but of shorter duration]. The purpose of his foray was to ask the neighboring farmer if he wouldn't mind if while we were cleaning up in our back woods we cleared a deadfall that may or may not be on the other side of our line. Around here even if you are pretty sure that you aren't crossing a property line and even if what you are doing is clearing rotting deadfall you check with the neighbor man. Before you start.

Nice man the neighbor is. Farmer all of his life. He has a sun-glazed color year round and deep creases around his eyes from too many hours of studying rows of crops for whatever reasons that farmers have. This was not my point or the cause of the consternation. Farmer neighbor told the fella that he would not be surprised at all if the frost came out of the ground for good this weekend. Do not know how he knows that as he didn’t say, farmer wisdom or wishful thinking. Either which way, that news kicked the fella into a paroxysm of list creating. Rather, he barked out the list of things that must be done before we become completely awash in mud and I wrote as fast as I could. Most of the items on the lists will not be done before this weekend and it will not matter much if they are not. Still the mission of the list making was urgent action, and that does not change the climate around here, just the forecast, if you know what I mean. Still I wrote in wonderment. The Fella’s inspiration had to be the pronouncement of an imminent change of season from the ranking farmer in the neighborhood. What I wondered as I wrote was, how did the neighbor guy know? Did he know? That remains to be seen.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Watching the calendar pages turn

I am at the age where the calendar pages flip over a great deal faster than is seemly for an object marking largish chunks of time. Anymore, time barely has opportunity to make a mark before that page is gone and I am confronted with yet another set of orderly squares representing a new twelfth part of a year.  Gone, time has just gone, whole days, weeks...

I have always been best at waiting. "Patience is a virtue," my Mother told me.  As a child, I realized that patience was the only virtue that I had any real shot at -- so I worked on developing the skill of waiting. It seems to me now that in pursuit of the virtue of patience I have invested more time in waiting than in doing anything else.  Patient waiting does have benefits, dreams.  Dreams can be embroidered while developing patience.  No one has to know.  I have dozens of dreams decorated from top to bottom.  Some of them I had time to rework three, maybe four times.  All accomplished while appearing to be patiently waiting.  Thing is, life continues at a breakneck pace no matter what you do and there is no slowing it down.  I discovered that people changed, their lives changed, while I sat there and practiced patience and embroidered dreams.

Is patience a virtue?  I wonder now.  There is nothing to be done about events marked on calendar pages long turned.  When dealing with time and people, changes can be revisited but never redone.  Perhaps in the future I will reserve the virtue of patience for long lines at the DMV and the grocery.  From now on, when dealing with people, life, and calendar pages, I believe I will be utilizing less virtuous methods.  My mother told me "patience is a virtue; good things come to those that wait."  Then she also told me "no matter what, always be a lady.

Didn't go fly a kite ...

the front field of a farm in Northwestern Ohio

The weather forecast promised 40 degrees, partly cloudy skies and a breeze of 5-10 mph.  Partial sun, check, 37 degrees (in February?  I'll take it), the breeze, when I checked at two, rated a steady reading of 11 mph.  So, loaded down with three dragon kites [2 - 50 foot and one 25], a tiny nylon airplane, four spools of kite string and two mixed breed dogs.  Oh, "Puppy" and "Cowhead, thanks for asking!  I scampered out to the front field to play.  Unfurling, laying out the kites and hooking up tethers took exactly the same amount of time as was required for the breeze to die completely and for the two dogs to discover a nest of field mice in some tall grass. 

In retrospect, combining 125 ft of brightly colored nylon spread out on a wet field, a dozen or so terrified mice, and two large excitable dogs was not one of my better ideas.  The dogs flushed the mice, the mice ran over and under the kites looking for a place to hide, the dogs followed the mice.  Instead of my vision of beautiful kites dancing in the [almost] spring air, I ended up with a bedlam of yards of wet kite covered with muddy paw prints, three freshly deceased field mice and two very dirty but very happy dogs. 

So, the adventure ended with hot baths for all parties (except the mice, dead or otherwise), and the reading of tomorrow's forecast which promises partly sunny skies and ...