Friday, September 18, 2020

 Hurricane Sally roared through Wednesday night. No damage, no loss of power, lots of water, no tornadoes. It went well for a powerful storm in central Georgia. There weren't many trees downed due to softened soil and the high winds. Of course the gulf coast had a more violent experience.

One of my cats spent the night out. She was tormenting a 3 inch long grasshopper when I took the animals out. Thursday is garbage day. My merry crew and I took the trash truck to the road. I have some very large Pecan trees close to the road. I was pleasantly surprised that there weren't very many limbs from the storm tossed to the ground.

We had about 8 inches of rain. I was wakened about 2 am by an alert on my phone. Afraid it was a tornado warning, I got up to read that roads were flooded. I would think flooded roads would be secondary to a lack of visibility due to the amount of water that was falling in the darkness of night with no stars or moon to give light. I finally lay back down about 3 am. 4 am, the same alert. Wide awake, I made a pot of coffee in case the power went off. I drank the pot of coffee and made another pot for the family when they woke up around 8 and 9 am. 

I expected to see large pools of water that morning. It had been dry the week before so I think the plants and Earth could handle the water better. You could see the tall grass bent from the flow of water. So I guess the rain was what they would call a gully washer versus a trash mover.

We've seen a shopping plaza on one of the weather channels. That shopping plaza was a marsh about twenty years ago. The Flint River is not exceptionally high. Where I live, we have storms but not a lot of damage or flooding. You do need a good roof on your house.


View of an overgrown pasture.



Cotton, The bolls will get bigger and there will be more of them on the plant in about two weeks.


Soybeans. When the plant has died back and the pods are dry, they will be harvested.



It is a small gray dog that is rolling on the driveway. The brown dog is her sister. The rest are cats.

I like this picture.  Two of my cats have stub tails. The black one, Cassiopeia, is the mother of the others.



Buzzards on a Cell Phone Tower.



Magnified view of the buzzards.


 

I hope your week has gone well. 

As I finish this post, it is all over the news that we have lost Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She was a remarkable woman. I would like to write something profound; but, like many, I am stunned and saddened by her passing. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Whippourwill

One of my favorite sounds of summer is the Whippoorwill at night. During the day, we hear the Bobwhite Quail. When the Whippoorwill is outside your window, it can be a problem for some.

This year was different, the sound of the whippoorwill was much further from the house. We have a pack of cats. So I guess I will never slip up on one sleeping. They are between the size of a Robin and a Crow with deeply camouflaged feathers. They are difficult to see in plain sight. In fact I have never seen one. We have had one quite active near our house (BC) before cats.

The whippoorwill is native to the southeastern United States and a member of the Nightjar family. Being insect eaters, they are not predatory birds like hawks or owls. Nightjar is made up of over 60 species. In the Western United States, a related species is the poorwill. The call of a poorwill is "poor will" which loses one syllable of the whippoorwill's call of "whip poor will". 

Eastern phoebe in GWC (12314)Now my home is quiet. Autumn has arrived. When I lived in Canada, I had a hard time adjusting to the lack of animal noise at night. The frogs sing loudly most nights.

I've got a bird's nest built on the side of my house. I had seen the handsome bird on a metal fence post. I now know it is an Eastern Phoebe which are flycatchers. My cats were aware of the nest. The babies were getting larger. The parents are quite agile. And they moved one evening, boom. But before that, both mother and father would eat the flies attracted to the cat food on my deck. The photo to the left is a phoebe that I got from wikimedia commons.

The guest cat, Gladys, brought her babies out about in May. I had a chair turned on the side on my deck. I was going to move it to the road to be hauled off. The babies crawled into the upholstery. They sounded like snakes hissing at me. Now they are thrilled to see me. They love their food. I've gotten the two female kittens spayed. I will get the two males neutered. I don't want one running the other one off.

I'm not made of money but I gots lots of cats and dogs. The cats are all under two years old and so they are quite youthful and beautiful. My dogs are mostly 8 and 9 years old. One is about three and three are around 16 years old. When my population of animals goes down, I plan to sell this house. It's not a perfect house but I love my property. It is just the upkeep and the difficulty finding people to help you. I don't mind paying someone what they are worth. The problem is people want to be paid well and do very little. I'm not an arguer or good at getting the most out of people.  Plus, the sort of person you want is a very valuable commodity. I know of two friends who had a big falling out when one stole the other one's maid.

My life is a bit of turmoil in that I am getting my brother's house ready to sell. There is a sadness in seeing his house go. We all had a lot of happy memories there. I remember a cousin of mine was a bit cavalier giving away her parents things when she cleaned out their apartment. I get it now. Experience is a cruel teacher.











out

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Hello Autumn!


Beauty berry.   The berries are not very tasty raw; but they do make a nice jelly or gelatin dessert.

You can crush a cup of the leaves and allow them to soak in rubbing alcohol for about two days. Remove the leaves and pour the infused alcohol into a spray bottle. It makes a very good mosquito repellant.

The berries can be eaten raw. They aren't very good raw; but, they do make a nice jelly or gelatin desert. The leaves can be crushed and soaked in alcohol to create an insect repellent. Essentially you crush a cup of leaves and allow them to soak in a cup of alcohol, rubbing or ethyl. You filter out the leaves. You can rub the solution on your skin or better yet, spray a bit on yourself.

Poke Salad. When the berries are all gone, I plan to chop it down . It will come back next year. The berries and plant are very poisonous to eat at this stage. Remember beauty berries are not the same thing as poke salad berries. Although pretty, poke berries are very poisonous.

In a week, overgrown fields will be covered in the yellow blooms of Goldenrod.


I love a break from the heat. My hair and clothes become saturated with sweat from just a wee bit of work in the middle of the day. 

I had a water leak under my home which damaged some of the subfloor in my home. A water restoration service put their humidifier and a two fans in to prevent mold. I was never quoted a price. So I am sweating the bill. I did file for insurance. Luckily, this is not an incredibly expensive repair. The son of the man from the restoration service is taking up the subfloor and installing a new subfloor and replacement hardwood flooring for $600. So maybe the bill will not be so rude. 

I don't like not getting a quote. What I learned from all of this is never be in a hurry. My air conditioning repair man found the leak. He called his friend who is a plumber who had it fixed before I got home. I took his advice about the water restoration because I am hoping birds of a feather flock together in this situation. The air conditioning repairman is the salt of the earth sort. 

This time of year, I feel the bills in that I pay for house insurance, car insurance and property taxes. My property taxes are about $3000 a year. My homeowner's insurance is about $1500 and my car insurance is about $1200 for a year. The fact they come at one time is the biggest burden.  I know, I know I should lay aside a bit each month. But it is always a bit of catch up for me.

My mother worries about her money incredibly. I had been letting her pay for some of the groceries and the electric bill. I've got to stop. In her mind, I am spending her money up. Caregiving for an elderly parent is one of those things that is very rewarding but you pay a price. In AARP they had an article about caregiver's having suicidal ideation at times. I don't have that problem but I do feel intense loneliness at times. My mother is not greedy or stingy. She is 90 and grew up during the depression. My dad left her well taken care of. At this point, I am the heir so it is not like I will not be repaid. 

At my age, as long as I can cover my bills, I don't fret about money so much. It's not like I am going to be able to whoop it up anyway. My grandmother lived on a very low social security payment when she become older. It was quite admirable how she made it last every month. Where she lived, there were those who spent their entire monies as soon as they got it. Then they worked to get people like my grandmother to give them food and money. She might have fed a few; but, she gave them no money. 

This part of my life feels like life in my twenties. There is so much to deal with. With Covid, I have been able to cope with the pressures in that I've dealt with a lot of uncertainty in my life. There is little you have control of. At 64, I feel very lucky to be alive and in good shape health wise. 

I am a type II diabetic. I read where they are recommending shakes and soups for diabetics in the UK. I find this interesting in that when I did my DNA, my ancestry is 58 percent English , 7 percent Swedish, 5 percent Norwegian, 3 percent German, 27 percent Celt. So they are my people genetically.  I was surprised the Brits were a hefty lot. I thought that was an American problem. Surprisingly with the DNA analysis is that I was dark completed with dark hair and eyes in my younger days. As my hair has turned white, my eyes are more dark green than brown.  

Although I am a situational homebody, (you know I would be on a slow boat to China elsewise); this shelter in place and social distancing is a huge bore. I'm someone complaining but I do not know why. I don't go anyplace anyway. I've read about people going to wineries to sample wine. You can go to North Carolina and buy a Cherwine soda to sip. I can't imagine going somewhere to drink wine. I love to travel; but, I am more of a museum and nature loving sort of visitor.

The restoration man clearly disapproves of my rural home. He lives in town in a two bedroom townhouse which sounds quite nice. I get his message that my home is a lot to keep up with. He is wrong about some things being more expensive. My  electric bill is cheaper than my bill for a home I owned about half this house's size and way cheaper than my parent's bill. Their house was build in the 1940s when houses here were built to be cooler during summer and heating your entire house was not done. If you wanted to be warm, you stayed in the kitchen or wore several layers of clothes. 

Our winter is about six weeks. However, the days are not consecutive. You get four or five days here and there mostly between December and February. But if it snows, it usually happens in late March curiously enough.

It is the first week of September. The high temperature is around 90. In two weeks, that high will be in the low 80s.  Good days. Plus, I don't watch the news, much.

 


Monday, April 27, 2020

Stars

One of my favorite things is to look at the heavens and look at constellations. When I worked for a non-profit, I did astronomy programs with a portable planetarium. For 4 year olds, the biggee was accepting that the lights would be turned down. I would do their program with a little light. It was too scary otherwise.

My favorite poem about stars is by Carl Sandburg and is aptly titled "Stars"

The stars are too many to count.
The stars make sixes and sevens.
The stars tell nothing--and everything.
The stars look scattered.
The stars are so far away they never speak when spoken to.

Interesting enough, the constellation Orion is a hunter in all the cultural constellations that I encountered except for Egyptian constellations where Orion was Horus the God. My study was not exhaustive so I am sure there are other myths or story for this Constellation.


Orion constellation map-fr


The Orion Constellation
photo by Igor da Bari from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Raison d'etre

I like French phrases that have crept into the English language in that they say so much. My problem with them is that I can't spell them right.

Raison d'etre means a lot to me in that if we don't have that internal motivator; life is not meaningful. I have an 89 year old mother and yes she has slipped some. But she is amazingly perceptive in many ways. I have two handicapped siblings and she still is a mother to them.

Living with my mother, I think of that book "My Mother, Myself" printed in 1977 when I was 21. At the time I thought I was so different from her. Living with my mother these past 17 years, I understand her better and know that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Things I learned at my mother's knee.

1. Avoid an argument anytime. Climb a tree if possible.

2. We love children. I worked a summer science camp. Since I was in charge, I let the pre-teens be as loud as they normally could be when they came in from playing outside. It did not bother me. My mother was with me that day. My first thought, was I'm sorry about all that racket. My mother turned around smiling. It sounded good to her too.

3. I save things long beyond their use. I hold onto things because they look like they could be useful.

4. We love animals and nature.
I have a cat and her four babies. We have a guest cat that I have been feeding. I know that cat had babies about two weeks ago. Where they are. I don't know. I heard the coyote last night. But I try to go outside without dogs everyday for her to visit with me. My mother tells me sternly that we will need to give these babies away.
Long story short, mom asks about those babies every night. If they make it and come out of the woods with mom, they will get a name, a trip to the vet for rabies vaccination and neuter/spay. Of course they will call this house home.

One thing I learned about my mother.

My mother always wanted you to eat. She will nag you about eating. Even now, I prepare the food. She is concerned we all eat well. I hate it.

She tells me how she took care of her younger sister when her mother was in the field working. My mother would take the hungry baby out to my grandmother so it could be fed. My grandmother would make her take the baby back in. She was too hot to make milk. They had what is called food insecurity today. Add to that, my grandmother was a sparse eater. I had two brothers, a cousin and my grandmother's sister who was like that. They were reed thin and just did not want to eat much.

This story explains my mother's obsession with having everyone eat. I bring her chihuahuas a small plate of food when I bring mom her meal. This doesn't stop one of them thinking they should have some of my mother's food too. My mom will ask why I brought her so much meat.

Buzzards on a Cell Phone Tower. They cover the garbage way station across the road after the workers go home. There is plenty of road kill on the rural highways.








Quark, Querk, Quirk

Interesting how one vowel can change the meaning of a word.

A Quark is a subatomic particle that makes up protons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons make up the nucleus of an atom. Protons and neutrons are composite subatomic particles in that they are made up of a combination of up Quarks and down Quarks.

Interesting enough, electrons a negligible mass compared to protons and neutrons. An electron is a lepton


Standard Model of Elementary Particles
Photons are particles of light and move as a wave and as particles. Photons can be proven to energy, proven to be matter but never proven to be matter and energy which is cool as all get out to me.

Querks

According to Merriam Webster this is a variant of Quirk. Online dictionaries say it means to throttle, choke or to become very angry.

What it doesn't mean is Twirk. I thought that was what the word meant. So Miley Cyrus is not known for Querking but for Twirking.

Quirk

But Miley Cyrus is known for her Quirks. I've often wondered what was put on for publicity and what was real. I have never cared for the big tongue thing. But I see so many who get their picture taken with their tongue out. I can think of better ways to be immortalized.

A quirk can be facial expressions with involve raising and lowering your eyebrows.

A quirk can be something unique about an individual.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Politics

Bald eagles have brown heads when young; so when they fly in the wrong territory, adult eagles give them a pass. Although I started working at 16, it wasn't until I started working in earnest during my twenties that I became acquainted with workplace politics. During a brief time when I worked for a non-profit after I retired from teaching; I discovered another area of politics and that is the female power structure.

Suddenly, I learned why all my co-worker friends were usually male. I had a few female friends. I thought it was because I grew up with brothers and lived in a largely male neighborhood. Add to that, my mother was a tomboy and her mother was also a tomboy. Well we are three generations of feminine tomboys.

I was never good at "brown nosing" so I gave up on that quite early more due to ineptitude than from a nobler motive. I went to a fortune teller who told me that I was not a follower or a leader. And you know that is true.

I always followed my father's advice. Do a good job at work. They have to keep so many that can do the job. My big thing as a teacher was I was not picky about who they placed in my classroom. A principal may not care for you but they do appreciate that you will not complain about or expect them to discipline an unruly student. I always considered a difficult child job insurance.

What makes me think of politics would have made a good post for I which is Intrigue. I watched the movie about Queen Anne called "The Favorite". The movie was not good, nor did I enjoy the liberties it took with it's description of any of the people in that historical period. It was supposed to be a comedy. So you guessed it, it had a lot of references to lesbian sex involving the three characters.

I didn't laugh at anything. This is where I know I am a different generation. There was a movie that I have forgotten the name of that was a comedy that I did not find funny at all.

Historically Lady Marlborough fell out of favor with Queen Anne in that she brought to court a bawdy poem that implied Queen Anne was having a lesbian relationship with Lady Marlborough's rival, Abigail Hill. Lady Marlborough, Sarah Jennings Churchill, was a childhood friend of Queen Ann. Lady Marlborough was five years older than the Queen. Abigail Hill Marsham was five years younger than the Queen. The jealousy was based on Power. Lady Marlborough had a lot of influence on Queen Anne which she was losing. Lady Marlborough was a Whig and Queen Anne had Tory sympathies.

The irony is Lady Marlborough's bawdy poem which was meant to intimidate the Queen led to her dismissal. And in a movie, she is portrayed as a lesbian as well as the Queen and Abigail Hill Masham.

When I watched the movie, I looked on the Internet about the three women. Lady Marlborough lived the longest and became the wealthiest. She was very aggressive.

Besides just not thinking the screenplay was that good; what bothered me was the portrayal of all three women as either, witchy, petty, cunning and other stereotypes of women in leadership.


Juvenile Bald Eagle (head)
Juvenile Bald Eagle =Michael Gäbler / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Bald eagle at the Hawk Conservancy Trust 2-2
Adult Bald Eagle - Lewis Hulbert / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Oh, Organizing, Oy Vey

Today is the day I have realized that I will never get it all done.

Oh.

The reason I did A to Z was to get my mind back to writing. You do have to make some things important. I fell behind this week doing taxes and paying bills. I normally do fill a form with the IRS because it is free. I did not get my refund from GA last year. I have to resubmit an amended tax form for 2018. They say I was disallowed my senior deduction because I did not include Schedule 1.

So I decided to get with the program and file electronically. For my mother and I, that is $100. When I finish with my sister, that will be another $20. Not a King's ransom, but that is why I have what I have which is I cut expenses when I can. I will say, it saved me some time.

This weekend is going to be full of paperwork and organizing. Walking in the house from walking the dogs this morning, the grass needs to be mowed again. I mowed four days ago. This does not include where I try to branch out and mow a bit more.

Oh my.

Forget mowing until Monday. My mother is desperate to go grocery shopping. So Monday at 7 am, we are going. My gut says tell her absolutely no. My heart says let her have a bit of fun. I hate being a grown up at times.

But this weekend, I will stay in the house and straighten as much as possible.

Next Tuesday, I hope to go to my brother's house. My eldest brother died March 2nd of this year. We need to do probate but everything is closed. I got his death certificates in the mail and sprayed them with a disinfectant. To say I have felt miserable about this is an understatement. My brother was my best friend.

My brother has a nice neighbor who is being a pain in the arse. He is so concerned with my brother's yard. My brother lived in the country. The neighbor cannot understand that I have living breathing people who come first. The other thing I hate is he is in my brother's house rifling through things. He is not stealing. Just being nosy.

He is from California and affluent at one time. I couldn't have a better person looking out for my brother's house. I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. But he gets on my nerves. Some of it is cultural. We live in a jungle at time and having plants a little unwieldy is more normal. Those from colder and/or drier climates battle them. Most people from California want to cut down trees. One acquaintance from California said the towering Pines was creepy. Towering pines are money in my mind. They do cause a problem in April when we have bad storms. But the smell when one is downed by a thunderstorm is heavenly.

There is a part of me that does not care whether I get anything from my brother's estate. And actually, I do not. My brother died without a will and according to the law in GA, my mother inherits all. My brother was divorced and had no children. This is great. I have three handicapped siblings of which two I have guardianship. Being a conservator of money is an enormous hassle. This is why I am hoping my sister who had a stroke gets a grip. I really don't want to manage her affairs.

My mother is so paranoid I am spending money on my sister who had a stroke which I do and have. My sister is not going hungry or not having her lights on in her home as long as I can afford it. I know she blows her money as soon as she gets it. She lives in her own house due to parasites wanting her there so they can exploit her better.

Add to that, friends and acquaintances urge her to live independently without knowing how handicapped she is. I have resented Facebook in that my sister has chatted freely with people who are overly generous with advice. It is a shame that don't understand their advice is worthless. They need to come over to her house and clean up after her. They need to visit with her. They need to bring her food.

One of her friends said my sister's house was in good shape around Christmas. I told her the truth. Yes I had caught up with a great deal of her house cleaning at that time. But my sister does not allow me in her house until it reaches a critical mass. This makes it impossible to catch up with the mess. This same friend now wants to know why I don't have my sister in a personal care home.

Because of busy bodies like you. My sister has lost a lot of abilities living in her house. I constantly worked with her to keep her abilities where they needed to be. Now she has gotten so difficult, I don't think I can bear to have her back in my home. But I don't say anything. This is a real friend and has helped my sister.

With Covid, I'm glad she is not in a personal care home. I am not happy with her situation. I have been trying to work with her. My dentist tells me my gums are in better shape. Do I tell him I actually have time to shower, groom and brush my teeth in a leisurely manner now.

Which brings me back to taxes. I'm glad there is an extension. I've got to do my sister's taxes.

And then I watch the news. People are having a hard time managing with unemployment, no money, children who need to be fed. My problems are nothing compared to them. I think of the woman complaining about her hair roots needed a touch up and the "stay at home" orders were a big problem for her. Maybe my problems are a hair root problem in comparison.

I'm grateful for these problems. I could be the teary eyed woman on television being interviewed as she accepts a food handout.

I need to think about how I can help someone else.

Take care my friends. It's a busy day and I have a lot to be grateful for. I'm off to cook dinner. We all need to eat an antacid. My sister in law posted a taco casserole I'm making. The house is a mess. It's all good.


Flint river flooded out of it's banks up the boat ramp into the parking lot on HWY 96 about two weeks ago.



Friday, April 17, 2020

Naw, Nope, No

Just say No.

In the English speaking world, we have more than our share of eccentricity. As an American, it is almost a required state of being, especially at your funeral.

There is a joke going around Germany, what borders stupidity? Canada and Mexico is the answer. The problem with English speaking countries, I suspect they like the idea of being difficult or intransigent. Canadians are probably chuckling at the joke and then going, "I resemble that comment." Canadians are more polite than Americans. But they can be rambunctious too. I don't know about Australians or New Zealanders. But from the newspapers online from Britain, they certainly have their cast of characters.

Well we got an enormous number of people with Covid and people are chaffing at the "stay at home" request. We got a whole group of people who are worried about restarting the economy which will need to happen. Meanwhile, they don't seem to understand there is no restarting an economy with a tsunami of disease and death.

Italy is having some success with reducing the amount of cases. New York City is a densely populated area, and they are finally getting some success with the "Stay are home policy." With 30 percent of the world's Covid cases, the USA needs to make some smart moves and stop being so critical of elected officials. They are going to make mistakes. The hardship of Covid's aftermath is going to make people play the blame game.

The amount of people in my state who have Covid are still at manageable levels. Before the stay at home request, I had noticed that shopping areas were not bustling at their usual levels. This was around March 10th. One thing about being a Southerner, we know what poverty is. Pestilence is not poverty but it is it's close cousin. We got a few carrying on about it being fake news; but, the deathrate from Covid is a somber reminder that it is not just like having the flu. We are mouthy but compliant people.

In my hometown, a man who was incredibly popular and an outstanding athlete at my high school died on March 25th from Covid. He had been tested for Covid and was told it was negative two or three weeks before his death. The testing was so unreliable a month ago. And that is the crux of Covid is the unknown. When will we develop a vaccine. When will we develop a good testing policy and follow-up of potential carriers.

One reason Germany has a much lower death rate is that they monitor people more intensely in the beginning. I've always heard that Germans will complain loudly about things until they hear the words, "It's the rule (law)."

I actually have a bit of confidence that we will get a grip on the situation. I also think the world economy will be stronger afterwards. We will be redirected. And like most people, I hope we will have a better tomorrow because of this crisis. I remember my dad talking about the depression. It was a terrible time. But people lived through it.

The reason why I labeled this post Naw, Nope, No was an unusual sight I saw.

I take food to my sister who is in a wheelchair. We live in the blackbelt where there are many more African Americans than whites. There was a white pickup, extended cab with a huge, weathered Confederate Flag flying from a big stick. The occupants were black people. If I looked around, there probably were very few whites. Like I wrote, there are many more black people than white.

The Confederate Flag is considered hurtful by most black people in that hate groups appropriated the Flag. But we still got people who say heritage not hate which would be true for many Southerners. I would never display the flag in that it belongs in a museum. It has been misappropriated too badly by some monstrous thinkers. The Confederate Battle flag is considered racist. There was a parent who complained that her child could see a cotton field from the elementary school they attended. There are a lot of unresolved feelings about the racism and discrimination that black people received.

But the flag is also flown as defiance by someone white and/or from up North. I looked at the kids in the truck. They weren't kids. A working class man, his wife and another working class man in the back seat just out going about their business. I would guess their age would be in their thirties. They smiled at me. No doubt they never considered why I would be looking at them. Culturally we smile and say hi to everyone.

Go figure. I'm not encouraging anyone to fly a rebel flag. I would have loved to ask them about why they had a Confederate battle flag. But the light turned Green. I turned left and they went on down the road. I suspect they were aliens from another planet. That would make sense.

Cotton field. They make more money from the cotton seed than the cotton fiber. When they harvest cotton, it looks like bed stuffing scattered on the side of the roads. My grandfather would fuss if the kids left what he called a gooselock behind when they picked cotton. 





Murgatroyd

I discovered I did not spell this word or name correctly. I formerly spelled it murgatrode. The word became famous with Hanna Barbara's character Snagglepuss, a discriminating opera buff of the comic model. Snagglepuss would say, "Heavens to Murgatroyd" which is a variant to "Heavens to Betsy".




Murgatroyd is also a woman's name that was derived from a surname. It is related to name Margaret. I think naming your daughter Murgatroyd is up there with the poem by Shel Silverstein of "A boy named Sue" which was made famous by Johnny Cash.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Lean In

I never read the book by Cheryl Sandberg of Facebook. There is a bit of me that feels a bit of irritation with a book like this. I can see someone reading the book who needs help searching for words of wisdom.  The other part is that no matter how wealthy Sandberg is; she does not not have everything. No one has everything. The synopsis did look like a wealth of information for the upwardly mobile career woman.

There is a piece of me that has witnessed people with clout assume they were as brilliant as the attention of the captive audience they had. Privilege is only felt by someone once they lose it or been a member of that captive audience. The novels and stories this line of thought could generate.

When I was younger, I was ambitious. The problem was. I did not have a specific goal in mind. The one thing I did learn along the way was there were a lot of opportunities that I did not take serious. I'm sure some would have been big duds. One was the invite to help a little theatre build sets. Like most of my life, I worked a lot and I passed the opportunity in that I wanted more leisure free time. Looking back, I would have met some interesting people and been introduced to writing earlier.

You do have to make time for what is important which is my version of leaning in. I keep a stack of books close to my chair. I've learned to turn the television off. A lot of what I do is what I have to do. This is the story of my life. I made most decisions by what needed to happen.

I make time for what is important.

And apparently it is yard work and flower beds that are important. Setting the timer on the stove when you are cooking is important too. How else do you stop scrolling for dog jokes on Facebook.


Monday, April 13, 2020

Kerchief

Well I'm discovering not having a set theme is not a good idea. I thought I would be able to think up a jillion things to write. And I do, just not on the right day. For K, I discover the letter is the fifth least used letter in the English language.

But prowling through nouns that begin with K, I see Kerchief. People have been wearing Kerchiefs better known as bandanas as face masks to mitigate covid 19.

Then there is kaboom. Storms rolled through last night. An apple tree split  in half. That is Pinky surveying the damage. Blight affects European grapes, pears, apples, and quinces. Quince trees are affected so badly that no one grows them. This tree was affected by blight. I plan to leave it in place this summer. The wild animals enjoy the fruit.

I had a wee damage to my siding.







Saturday, April 11, 2020

JuJu


JuJu is a West African magic in which objects are believed to have special powers.

Sometimes, I would like to have a bit of magic. Well a few billion or even a few million dollars would also work. My thoughts are to have all that excess milk of farmers processed and given to all families with children and adults who cannot afford milk.

I went to my sister's house to help her a bit and bring prepared food for her to eat. I planted a tomato plant, did laundry, washed and retrieved containers for the next round of food. After visiting, I took her recyclables and mine to Happy Hour Service Center. There was a lot of small cardboard and waste that had blown behind the recycling center and one of the buildings. What was going to be a short few things turned into about an hour picking up the waste. Like so much in GA, they are shut down and a skeleton crew is managing the recycling.

Toward the end, a truck comes with cardboard and styrofoam that they have to throw away. I took the styrofoam from the gentleman to take home and toss in my garbage. His granddaughter proceeds to lecture me that I got too close to him and he was a senior citizen. She was right. I smiled and told her I was a senior too. What I felt like saying was I told you that the styrofoam is trash. Why couldn't you take it home and put it in your garbage. When I got home, it filled my garbage cart. I guess that is why. lol  I could tell he was a bit put out with his grandaughter.

But we did get within 4-5 feet of each other when he handed me the piece. And you know, I am tired of this social distancing. I did not know I was such a talker to strangers. I had pre-ordered sandwiches from Jersey Mike's. As I paid for my sandwiches, I felt a bit normal for once. I talked to the woman who normally cuts my brother's and my hair outside of the shop. My last stop was at the grocers to get a gallon of milk and some creamer. I left with about $85 of merchandise. In the rural area I live, there is not as much Covid as other areas. We are all wearing masks.

When I got home, I sprayed the car with lysol spray. I washed my hands well and delivered sandwiches. I watched television and a woman had contracted Covid from the woman who delivered groceries to her house one time. I thought about the man loading his groceries in the car beside mine. He was somber.

Yesterday's bit of irony was related to a part of being Southern. We lose everything. I've thought about what I have could be gone with this Covid. I'm ready mentally to do so. I just hope I don't have to. I've always considered myself Southern lite in that I am not in love with the Southern mythology. But I do know our stubbornness is our gift. My grandmother always said where there is a will there is a way.

At the end of the civil war, the state of GA was in ruins if not burned. A man who had been a Unionist begged the American occupiers to not take his stores of food. The widows and children needed that to eat. There had been a meeting at his house and the men stacked their rifles outside before coming in. They left his store of food alone. No one knows was it because he was a Unionist, his plea, or all those guns stacked outside.


 After finishing this post, I'm taking a shower. I pray for the world. And this is what I struggled with yesterday. So much of this world struggles. If there is any juju, I hope Covid skips over those who are impoverished. There is so much suffering that I have no idea and have never experienced. We could put a protective veil around ourselves and everyone we loved and everyone else. But we live in a very real world. A virus is no respecter of social status or ethnicity or nationality.





Friday, April 10, 2020

Imagine or Irony maybe Iridescent

Imagine or Irony and I like Iridescent too. I have not had a relevant brainwave on "I" today. Usually when I mow grass, something will pop in my mind. Well nothing, nada. Oh I have had an ironic moment thought today. But that is a bit personal. So I will post a few pictures and maybe J will be more productive.





My grandfather, Ben Bennett. He was a soldier in the Spanish American War and an ambulance driver during WW1

My great grandfather David Stephen McDuffie



Thursday, April 9, 2020

Humility

Sometimes I hear my father's voice. I certainly hear his thoughts through my mother. Whereas, we are not overly stocked with toilet tissue, we are fine until stores can have a normal stock again which I hope is next month. Kroger sends coupons faithfully to me. My mother gets them. I reached the point, I did not look in her cart. I just purchased the items. It hurts her feelings to say we don't need them. My mother does not like to be talked back to. We've got about 10 cans of sauerkraut in the cabinet.

My mom will pair a coupon to an item that is on sale. As my dad said, she could store the extra in the shed behind the house. Toilet tissue does not rot. At one time, I tried to buy enough toilet paper to satisfy her urge to stock up. I gave up. So I was a little surprised to know we only had about 5 packages of toilet tissue.

My older brother came to visit us on March 2nd of this year. He looked at all the incontinence product my mother had purchased and said woo to my mother. We chuckled. But I had helped her. Kroger kept giving us a coupon of $3 off two packs and if you bought 5, they gave you $5 off in addition to the product being $11.99 versus it's usual $13.99. I guess this is why we weren't so stocked on toilet tissue. I'm very glad in that I think mom uses 1 pack a week. We are set for about three or four months.

Paper towels also fall in this group. My younger brother can't stand clutter or disorder. One day, we were eating in the dining room and I noticed he kept gazing at something behind me. I did not have to turn around to know it was the tower of paper towels beside the china cabinet that he was studying. Kroger had an ongoing thing with coupons for paper towels. My mother has stopped with buying so many paper towels after that incident. We only have about 4 large packs of paper towels. They don't rot.

But for me, what I hear my father saying is that the Bible was a book of wisdom. Not everything happened and we choose what we want to practice like entrees at a buffet. He quoted all sorts of things. My favorite thing he did is he knew when someone was quoting Shakespeare. Culturally, we quote the Bible. He always got tickled when someone quoted Shakespeare.

I had taught school in a suburb outside Atlanta for close to 20 years when I returned to the county I grew up in. The first week of school, I had a child to challenge me by quoting the Bible. I quoted the Bible back at her. The children were impressed. All I could think was I would have gotten in trouble with some parents in my previous school for quoting the Bible. The little girl who challenged me shook her head in approval. I won.

My father prized humility. When young I was a bit mystified when people would say Pride was the deadliest sin. That I understand now. Pride can make you do things which hurt you immediately and destructively. I know that is true from experience. I say this with all humility.



Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Gardening by the Moon

Culturally, everyone were Freewill Baptist in Georgia. We are Anabaptist who are the English speaking version of Hutterites, Amish and Mennonites. We were run out of England much like the Quakers. I was surprised when I did my family history and found so many Quakers. But it makes sense. I enjoy everyone's family history. It is the wee fragments of history that I enjoy the most.

This is a point to consider when I say I follow a widespread practice of folklore. You do not plant during a Full Moon or New Moon. You plant root crops when the full moon is waning to a new moon and you plant above ground crops when the new moon is waxing to a full moon.

I'm behind with my garden. April 7th was the last day to plant above ground plants until April 22nd. I can still transplant those plants I started indoors and those I purchased before the social distancing went into effect. Yes, I have tomato plants I purchased around March 12th that need to get into the ground. Not many, but a few of them. I need to dig through the potatoes for those that are sprouting to plant a few potatoes. I've got a fine crop of English peas growing along one of my fences.

I've got a Victory Garden this year. The bit of extra time at home has allowed me to work more in my yard. With the rain and warmth, the grass is now close to being out of control. So the best of my garden is planted. I did want to plant some corn. I can see myself with lots and lots or corn chasing people down to give them a few ears, a variant of the person with an over supply of zucchini. Since I don't like zucchini, I grow yellow squash.

This is a portion of one of my flower beds. It is never well manicured but the plants don't care.




Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Facebook or Frasier

I dally way too long on Facebook. Spending my precious free time on reading snippets of info and worse occasionally composing small speeches that I erase. There is that phrase about mad dogs and Englishmen by Noel Coward. For some reason I think of this when I write one of these. Don't worry, I seldom write them.

Facebook is your gramma's social network. We are all staying home, telling each other to stay home, and sending up prayers against this pestilence. So you guessed it, I use a timer when dallying on the net. By the way, friend me if you do Facebook. mememe

I like to surf the net as I watch television. I stopped turning on the TV in the morning. I haven't missed the morning news. I like to drink a cup of coffee by myself in the morning. So during the day, unwatched soap operas no longer fill the silence.

JoJoBear scratching her back on the driveway.
My mom is usually watching movies from her heyday or Perry Mason. She likes Perry Mason a lot. I watch exactly two shows and soon to be three next Sunday each week. I like Dr. Phil. But I don't watch him but about four or five times a month. PBS has some really good shows. I'm watching the science of food as I type this.

But instead of whiling away my time on Facebook, I read. I have been reading Jemi Frasier's book called "Dancing with Dementia" and Ha Lin's novel "Waiting".

One reason I retired early and find myself housebound is taking care of people I love who need a home, meals and comfort. I get a lot of undue praise in that I benefit from this deal too. I've yet to know anyone who has lived a better life by running away from their responsibilities. But dementia and it's cousins are something I live with. I had thought of writing about my experiences too.

It takes a lot of love and patience. My nature is to be headstrong, ignore what I can and force things. What I learn from all of it is that not all needs to be controlled. I'm terrible to put things together without fully reading the instructions. One thing I know, if you force something, it will break and will not go together. Stop and look at the instructions.

I wanted to have finished reading the book before this post. I purchased the Kindle copy. It is currently 99 cents which is a good deal. I've read about 20 percent. I like how Jemi Frasier gives a story to episodes. It is not a fact, fact, bang sort of book. The storytelling lets the reader come to a conclusion which I think is brilliant. When your loved one becomes mentally incapacitated, it is a gradual process that you don't always notice until it is all you can see in shock.

For the record, I get no benefit from posting this book. One thing I have enjoyed about A to Z are the blogging friends I have made.

Dancing With Dementia: Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia by [Jemi Fraser]

Amazon Link




Monday, April 6, 2020

Easy Come Easy Go

I am ambivalent in this post title in that it has unleashed an ear worm which is not even a style of music I enjoy but tolerate. I just knew it had to be Justin Bieber. To my surprise it was Bruno Mars song, Granade.

In my search numerous songs use the phrase. Bobby Sherman brings me back to my preteen years and the magazine Tiger Beat. I would fantasize about all these boy singers being my potential spouse and of course we live happily ever after. Then I grew up.


What glitters is not always gold. I always felt sad when I read about the difficult lives so many of these promising young people led. It's interesting that those that went on to live ordinary lives like Bobby Sherman seemed to fare better. Today Sherman is 76. He pursued careers as an EMT and police officer. He married two times and has two sons. There is not much info on his personal life.

I got other thoughts on the matter. Some of becoming a writer is observing people. Some observations come with age.  Life is mercurial and there certainly aren't simple outcomes. 

I've had a lot of dumb luck in my life. The fact that I am quiet, people have assumed that I was smarter than I was. One time when buying the house I live in now, the realtor gave me the terms of making a bid. I was looking over the document ready to consent. She mistook my quietness for waffling and reduced the earnest money amount considerably.

At the time I bought this house, I had hit the proverbial brick wall trying to find a home for us. I did not love the house but it had what we absolutely had to have to be comfortable. Plus, I loved the small amount of land.

One thing that is true when you sell or purchase a home, you wheel and deal like a few thousand dollars is not much. I've lived in this house for almost 17 years which is longer than I have lived in any home. My parent's purchased the house I spent the most years of my life growing up in 1958. I moved out in 1974. At the time I was ready to move on. I was chomping at the bit to move out. 

My mom sold it in 2005. She moved into my house in 2003. The neighborhood had gotten sketchy. I still drive through. A big part of my life still rambles through that neighborhood. I miss that house terribly. In a way, that house is my greatest easy come easy go experience.



Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dog Days

It's dog days everyday at my house. I currently manage a pack of ten dogs and five cats. They all love to eat.

But dog days are the hottest part of the summer which occur right after the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It is hot because the days are longer than the night. So the Earth gains more heat from the sun than loses during the night. Much like a bank account where you put more money in than you take out and spend. The opposite occurs in the Southern Hemisphere. They are tilted away from the sun and have longer nights than days. Winter occurs during the dog days in the Southern Hemisphere.

At one time, people thought it was because of the bright dog star, Sirius, adding it's heat to our sun. Dog days begins with Sirius rising in the dawn on July 22, 2020. It will end on August 22, 2020. Sirius is part of the Canis Major (Big Dog) constellation which dutifully follows Orion in the night sky.

Now where are the stars during the day. They are still above us in the heavens. We can't see them due to the brightness of our own star the Sun. There are no stars visible with the naked eye or with binoculars during the day. You can see the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere, Sirius, at dawn and dusk if it is positioned in the night sky for that day of the year. The brightest star in the sky in the Southern Hemisphere is Canopus, the great star of the South. Canopus is never visible in the Northern Hemisphere.

The stars you see early in the morning or late in the evening at dusk are either Venus or Mercury and on a few days you can see both. Venus and Mercury are between the Earth and Sun. So you only see these planets late in the evening or early in the morning.

You cannot see Sirius or any other star during the day. You can see the moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars if they are positioned just so and you go out to see them. The moon and Venus are relatively easy to see whereas the other three takes a bit of dedication. Early morning or late evening are best in that the sun is a bit dimmed. There are daytime meteors.

When I was a child, my mother did not like us to skin our knees or have any sort of sore during the dog days. They would not heal. Those of us that live in hot climates and especially before air conditioning know sores heal slowly when it is hot. Rabies which is caused by a virus can be a problem during the summer.

It is important to note that there is a bit of ethnocentrism in the story of Sirius to those of us of European or North African descent. There are a myriad of stories and folklore to religion of other cultures in the world. The official names of all stars are listed by the International Astronomical Union which includes names of stars from cultures around the world.

In checking my facts, I found the following picture which is of "Sun Dogs" which are halos around the sun. This picture was taken February 18, 2009 in Fargo North Dakota.


I wish all of you well.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Cheat Biscuits

How to make Cheat Biscuits. Biscuits made without all that rolling and doughing.

You can stir in some melted or softened butter into some flour. Say two tablespoons into a cup and half or 2 cups of self rising flour. This solves your salt issue. White Lily is the best flour. Then mix milk or water until it is a very thick soup. This is where you cheat. You cook it in muffin tins. They look like muffins and taste like biscuits that have a crispiness when hot. Cook at 425 degrees for 15 to 24 minutes. Mine are usually done around 20 minutes. Buttermilk makes the muffin very soft and doughy in my opinion.

I'd give measurements but I haven't used them for much in twenty years. If you want to make biscuits the hard way, don't add so much milk or water so that the dough will be somewhat stiff. You beat the dough until the dough becomes stretchy. Place dough on floured surface and put flour on dough before rolling the dough. Cut out biscuits. It is handy to have a child nearby who will eat the excess dough. Re-rolling dough creates a lousy biscuit. You can pile the scraps into a biscuit shape. It's not bad. It's not that good either. (My dog loves them.) But anyway bake in a hot 425 degree oven for ten to 16 minutes. Brown on top and bottom is good. Black is not good at all.

Below is a picture by Willie Bearden of a pan of actual biscuits. For all the Brits, this is a biscuit. In the states we call the British biscuit a cookie.
Photo by Willie Bearden - willybearden.com
I could share with everyone how to make the perfect biscuit. But unlike my Aunt Sylvia, my biscuits are hit or miss. My Aunt Sylvia purchased a ten pound bag of flour and made biscuits over and over until she got the technique right. And this is what I know is true of cooking, gardening, sewing, repairing autos. The most important step is patience.

Now you may ask about how much auto repair I have done. Quite a bit, well I had to pay someone to do it. But I've had my share done.

Which leads to the next important fact. What is the difference between a scone and a biscuit. They are both quick breads. The scone originated in Scotland. There is the Irish soda bread which is a quick bread. A quick bread is made with soft wheat flour and baking soda/powder as the leavening agent. The American biscuit does not have egg in it's batter and little to no sugar. It is eaten with savory foods like sausage gravy. A scone has more fat and an egg or two. Raisins and other fruits can be placed in the batter.

There is a fast food restaurant who makes cinnamon raisin biscuits with a bit of icing on them. But they do not have egg in them.

Ciao - I would say Bon Appetit but it is C day on the A to Z. That's why these are called Cheating Biscuits.

Homemade Bottled Water

Homemade Bottled Water
I purchase bottled water for a sister of mine who is handicapped. She has difficulty using her sink and likes her water cold from the refrigerator. Otherwise, I'm not too keen on bottled water unless you live somewhere like Flint. Michigan that had tainted water five years ago.

Today Flint Michigan has one of the more monitored water supplies. They do recommend you use water filters which is not a bad idea for anyone who uses any municipal water supply. Because, you really don't know how reliable your water supply is. Most bottled water comes from a tap. In the end you are dependent on other humans being able to do the right thing. More Info about Flint, Michigan water.

In my hometown, the water got a little funky in the 80's. They discovered a guy was drinking on the job and as a result, he was over treating the water with chlorine?. I can't remember the exact story but I do remember it was due to human fallibility. When I lived in East Point. GA, I remember the water was really good. They got their water from Sweetwater Creek which was in the next county over.

I have well water. It damages the water fixtures in the sinks, showers of my home. But it is good. I had a man pouring gas on fire ants near my septic tank which is frustrating. He wants to know "what?". And I am thinking, why do I have to explain to him that he is tainting my well water. Ignorance is expensive.

Admire my homemade bottled water. I don't know why this Covid crisis has me doing this. I keep water outside for the wild animals. It works well to flush toilets. I have some containers near my home for my pets. And of course we got water in the house. But my dogs like muddy water the best. But if we lose electricity, we got some drinking water. Every night I load the water in the coffee maker. Coffee is the most important meal of the day for me.

Be careful. Stay home and maybe this crisis will pass soon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Aloe Vera

I took these pictures while my brother was at the Shands hospital in Gainesville Florida last year. I had never seen Aloe plants growing outside much less blooming. I'm afraid I am more of an outdoor plant person. Plants that make it outside sort of fend for themselves in my yard. I do water more than I did in the past and that does help immensely. I planted several Chinese Chestnuts which have finally started to grow taller than I and one was covered in catkins last year. No nuts were produced.

I had a friend to post pictures of her Aloe plant blooming that she had planted in her yard. I was surprised in that she lives in Cordele, GA which is about 100 miles due South of me. Hers did not look as robust as these plants. I understand that South Texas and Mexico grow most of the Aloe today. They are tropical and semi-tropical, dry climates. One problem with Aloe is too much water will make the plant rot. Aloe is native to the Arabian desert.

The Aloe you get in products is not edible. The additives are not edible. But people do eat the juice. I have no interest in that or recommending that anyone does so. I'm cautious about health nut kicks. So do your research. 

I do keep an Aloe plant. The juice prevents fire ant bites from becoming infected and causing a small sore. At the nail salon, the Epson salts they add to the water also minimize fire ant bites.

This month, I will be writing "About The House". When I got the idea, I thought, I'll write some funny things. Funny thing is, I should have written when the jokes were coming to mind. My father always cracked jokes when things were very serious to lighten the mood. So hopefully, I'll be more glib in future posts. We all need to work on our attitude and staying home during this Covid crisis. I hope you and your family and your friends stay well during this time. It's a storm for sure.





If you would like to join the A to Z fun, do so before April 5th when the master list closes.
A to Z info is found on http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

If you are interested in reading more like me, This is a list of participating blogs. Chau.
Blog Roll for A to Z

Monday, March 16, 2020

Theme Reveal - About the House.

Social Distancing is for the birds. Suddenly, my homebody lifestyle is ready to travel. Well actually, I always want to travel. It's just this little thing called money and responsibilities that ties me to my home. A house full of dogs and cats keep me busy too.
I currently have the widow dog at my feet. She mourned my brother, but she has adjusted to her new home. Her breath stinks when she barks at me to get up and do some mysterious chore for her. I've told her "heck no" we are not trampling through the weeds and briers of the woods.
She didn't eat her dog food this morning. I was cooking a roast beef. She was waiting for a better offer. I have to feed her around 5:30 PM. She barks at me and looks at the stove repeatedly. I know what my brother did at 5:30 most nights.
Anyway, I'll be making periodic posts on my Facebook page about good blogs that I enjoy reading and other flotsam. Naw, it is not like I got that much free time. I am behind as usual. When I die, I predict someone will light a match to settle my affairs.
I set up a Facebook page to build my platform as I wrote the great American novel. That novel has sprouted stories much like the snakes of Medusa's head. The story I chop off and finish is the real mystery. Platform is my comic relief. I'll go out and look for Perseus in the night sky for inspiration on how to handle this monster my writing has become.

Meanwhile, my theme for 2020 A to Z will be ABOUT THE HOUSE. It is blogging as normal for me. You'll wonder if I have more snakes in my head than Medusa had on hers. HeHeHe

Hopefully most will be tongue in cheek. Some people are possessed by Demons. Me, it is a squirt of a dog.

Cheers and I hope we all avoid this Corona virus. Real life and adulthood are close to the same thing. I still got my mom so I am still a bit sheltered from real life. I may take care of her but she still likes me to brag about myself to her.


 Autumn slightly edges out Spring as my favorite time of the year. Much of it is due to the milder temperatures. The lawn part of my propert...