I am finally within a day of posts… whoo hoo! I think that means it is time to celebrate. To unwind and relax a little. And what better way to relax with a nice night of fishing, bug catching, watering flowers and talking to the neighbors. Many of you will not understand that last line, […]

via Mumbles … Equivocate — Leigha Robbins

I Am So Very Proud

I don’t normally do such things, but I am so proud of one of our own.  I met Shivam Srivastava right here on WordPress.  He was just about to turn twenty and I was struck by his heart and his art.  His sketches of many topics were lovely, but I had no idea how his talent would blossom.

In the blink of an eye, he was in fashion school learning every technique he could, and producing lovely garments along the way.  But when I saw his current portfolio, I was blown away.  It is extraordinary.  He’s combined the science of light with the art of fashion in a way that is so good that he was featured in the video I link here.

If you want a taste of his talent, just scroll down and click on the photo of one of his latest creations.  Leave a “Like” or a “Love” and support a fashion designer whose name will be uttered as stars walk down the red carpet.  I have no doubt of that.  This will truly be a case of “I knew him when…”  I am so very proud!

The Garden Is Dead, Long Live The Garden!

You might remember that I got my garden in recently.   If not, you can review my progress here:  Blood, Bug Guts, and Cow Manure

It was with great satisfaction that I put that last plant in.  Such anticipation!

But this morning the garden was a devastating sight.  The plants were black and wilted.  The garden is dead.  At least most of it is.  It just doesn’t seem fair that a few days ago it was 90F, but this morning we had frost.  A June 1st frost!  That is insane, even for Maine!

So now it’s time to find some replacement plants and try again.  I’m going to wait a few days, though.  We’re supposed to have frost again tonight.  My father would have been furious with Mother Nature if this happened to him.  I have to admit, I’m not too happy with her, either.

Sigh…

Blood, Bug Guts, and Cow Manure

Not exactly a combination you would like to have under your fingernails…unless you are me…in May.  Yesterday, I finished planting the garden.  Even though I am covered by black fly bites that made blood run into my eyes, I am happy.  It didn’t matter that I had bug remains smeared on me where I bothered to swat at them.  I was focused.  I had a garden to plant.

I do have to admit that I was particularly driven because I was two days overdue in getting those plants in the ground due to a frost warning a few nights back.   Sorry Dad, I know I broke your rule of having it all in before Memorial Day.  There is a small part of me that worries he might be judging me harshly from beyond the grave, in spite of the frost warnings.  Not that he didn’t pay attention to such things himself.  He watched the weather with an intensity that would awe any meteorologist .  If the weather was going to keep him from planting, it was a somber household until the seeds were in the ground.  All of the pieces had to fall into place in order to have a successful garden, and he expected Mother Nature to cooperate with his timetable.

During the winter, the seed catalogs were highly anticipated.  Once they arrived, my Dad pored over them for weeks.  Every variety was scrutinized and compared.  This went on until the seed order was finally placed.  Then the waiting began. And even more waiting.  So much waiting.  But eventually the order would appear in the mail and the waiting was accompanied by keen anticipation.

When March arrived, it was time to put those little vegetable seeds in pots so they would have a jump-start when planting time finally rolled around.  The garden had to be in before Memorial Day, come hell or high water. Maine’s growing season is short and my Dad wasn’t going to waste a single minute of it.  There were no excuses short of a blizzard.  And even then, the peas had better be planted.

Peas were special in that they could be planted as early as the soil could be worked.  In this neck of the woods, you aren’t a true gardener unless you have peas ready by the 4th of July.  But if it snowed after the peas were planted, that was ok, too.  After all, a late snow is ‘poor man’s fertilizer.’  My Dad believed in copious amounts of composted cow manure and it made our heavy clay soil friable beyond belief.  If Dad thought the plants needed an extra boost.  he would make a manure tea.  He’d dump a ridiculous amount of composted manure into a 55 gallon drum, add water, and let it steep.  Then he would use that as liquid fertilizer.  As if that attention to detail wasn’t enough, I swear he charmed the earthworms into working the soil from the bottom up.  Earthworms were revered in our garden and carefully protected…unless there was a fishing trip coming up.

Once the garden was in, there were many things to do.  The time waiting for harvest was filled with weeding, watering, and fertilizing.  He ruled over that plot with a level of stewardship that was unrivaled.  He had hard and fast gardening rules, too.  One rule was that you could only water at night. The sun glinting through the droplets might damage the leaves.  Watering at night had an added bonus in that it kept the frost damage down if  there are cold nights at the end of the season.  There were many more rules, but that one is a good example of the level of care the plants on that patch of dirt received.

It seemed like forever before the radishes were ready, then tender lettuce leaves arrived, and of course, those yummy peas.  As the season rolled along, all manner of vegetables were picked,  plucked, and pickled.  There was a never-ending supply of tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans.  New potatoes, sweet corn and beets followed.  Late in the season, the revered Blue Hubbard squash was picked.  It was so big, and the skin was so shell-like, that my Dad had to cut it apart with a hatchet.

All too soon, the plants were blackened by frost and pumpkins were picked from withered vines.  The dark days of winter passed ever so slowly until the brightly-colored seed catalogs arrived, yet again.

EIGHT!

I just want to remind you just how lucky you are.

All winter I have refrained from complaining about the cold, snow, ice, and general winter ickiness.  That whole refraining thing stops now.  I just watched the local weather forecast.  I just saw a snow map.  That’s right, a SNOW map.  Depending on what model you look at, we could have 2 or 3 inches…or 8.  EIGHT!   AS MUCH AS EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW!  EIGHT!  It’s time to get your mother a snowsuit for Mother’s Day!

They say this forecast is subject to change, and that had better happen.  My guess is that we’ll have an inch or two, and it will melt quickly.  That might be so, but I can’t help but grouse at least a little bit.  I really want to grouse a lot, but I was outside today trying to get some weeds out of my raised beds and I was barefoot.  I was barefoot, and I was happy.  I know I’ll be happy again but if this storm brings 8″ of the white stuff, prepare yourselves.  Because if that happens, there will be more complaining than you’ve ever heard before, and your luck will have run out.

Road To Nowhere

Being housebound, I have had time to think of all sorts of ridiculous, unimportant, and trivial things.   Therefore, it’s not surprising that I’ve been remembering idioms I never would have guessed would be so apt.  All of these have crossed my mind at one point or another in the last two months:

 

You’re going nowhere

All dressed up with nowhere to go

Getting nowhere fast

In the middle of nowhere

Nowhere to be found

Out  of nowhere

Nowhere to be seen

 

In order to alleviate the tedium brought on by our current situation, we’ve been going for rides just to get out of the house.  Those Sunday afternoon rides of yore are now Monday through Saturday rides, too. Of course, when we go, we have no goal in mind because we can’t stop anywhere or see anyone.  It never fails that when we head out on one of these jaunts I envision David Byrne running in place.  I love Talking Heads, really I do, but it’s perturbing that every time we leave the house I have this song in my head.  EVERY.DAMNED.TIME.

 

 

 

‘Challenging Times’

If I hear the phrase ‘challenging times’ one more time, I will scream.  Every commercial, every email, every everything uses that phrase.  But let me tell you, these are more than just challenging times.  These times are transformative.

I started this blog during the darkest days of my life.  I vowed that I would write funny things and tell stories that would make people laugh.  At the very least, I would offer something positive for my readers.  That’s tough these days because here we are, experiencing ‘challenging times.’  I really had to think about this.  How am I supposed to put a positive spin on something as deadly and life-altering as this virus can be?  Yet, in no apparent order, I see a few bright spots:

People are being nicer to each other.  For years I’ve said that the only way humans would ever stop killing each other would be to have a common enemy.  I used to joke that when aliens arrived to conquer us, we will rise as one. We have a common enemy now, that’s for sure.  On a smaller scale, people are showing kind gestures, both great and small.  There’s more more motivation to help each other and more appreciation and recognition for the people who do.

We are more cognizant of unsung heroes.  There are a lot of people out there who contribute to our wellbeing.  There aren’t enough superlatives in the world to describe the dedication and and humanity of these remarkable beings. EMTs, trash collectors, doctors, janitors, police, cashiers, shelf-stockers, cooks, nurses, fire fighters, scientists, mail carriers, toll-takers, pharmacists, and every last person who works in a hospital…this is a very abbreviated list of the people who are putting their lives in danger so that we will have a better chance of keeping ours.

Science and data are getting the respect they deserve.  If you ever told me that the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would be a rock star in my eyes, those eyes would have rolled.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, and his unyielding dedication to science while being thrust into the political arena, is saving us.  Tens of thousands of us, if not more.  If the politicians stop listening to the doctors and scientists, we will be well and truly….in ‘challenging times.’

We aren’t taking as much for granted.   Kids miss school.  Those are three words I never thought I’d type in that particular order.  Who would have guessed?  Where someone might have groused about their job a few months ago, now they are very thankful if they still have it.  The things we thought would always be there have slipped away for many people.  Loss is everywhere and those things we do have are appreciated that much more.

Corporations are stepping up.  I got an email from my auto insurance carrier.  After assuring me that they are here for me during these ‘challenging times,’ they actually announced that they will be taking 15% off my bill for the next two months because we won’t be driving as much.  Grocers and other essential businesses are giving their employees what amounts to combat pay.  GM is making ventilators, streaming services are offering free content, oodles of companies are contributing to COVID-19 causes…and my insurance company is giving me 15% off!  Sorry, I had to repeat that last bit as a reality check because it still doesn’t seem possible.

Families are closer.  This can be a two-edged sword, but I would bet that most families are very happy to be stuck with each other at home.  I’m sure there are rough spots.  There have been times over the past few weeks where I have wanted to kill Bill, but then I think about the fact that there is something out there that could do exactly that.  My murderous inclinations are quickly squelched and I end up giving him a hug instead.

Personal health is taking on more importance.  Hopefully, each of us will try to improve our health overall.  The words ‘underlying conditions’ put fear in the hearts of many these days, and rightfully so.  This virus is culling the weakest among us.  Let’s be strong!

Healthcare, insurance, and prescriptions are getting a lot of scrutiny.  We, in the US, have a long way to go before we have a healthcare system that works.  The conversation around these issues started long before the virus hit, but now it is gaining momentum.  There’s a lot of work to be done.

Relationships are being rekindled.  I’ve heard from friends recently whom I haven’t spoken to in ages.  An event of this magnitude has a tendency to make us think about those we love, and have loved.

We are being more adaptive.  We are finding ways to accomplish things even if we can’t be there in person.  Working from home is just one way in which we do that.  Churches are holding virtual services.  Netflix has a feature that lets people watch a movie together even if they are on separate continents.  You can listen to your favorite singer perform from their living room.  The list of ways we have come together while apart is endless.

Virtual medical appointments through TeleHealth.  Through necessity, bringing this technology online widespread will change how medicine is practiced going forward.  Now that my technophobic psychologist has learned how to do remote sessions, I will never have to drive an hour to see him ever again.  It must have been a Herculean task for him to learn how to do it.  After all, he gave up his flip phone only a couple of months ago.  No lie.  If he can adapt to the new virtual world, there is hope for all of us.

Customs will change.  There is no question that life as we have known it is gone forever.  Just as airports changed policies after 911, hopefully we will adapt in ways that will promote good health.  Handshakes will probably go by the wayside.  Masks will be more prevalent.  We will be more cognizant of personal space.  We will keep a month’s worth of toilet paper on hand.  That last one is particularly important!

On a grander scale, one other thing has become clear.  When we curtail our activities, pollution is reduced dramatically.  Isn’t it ironic that as many are struggling for their last breath, Mother Nature is taking her first breath of fresh air in many, many years.

 

 

 

Carry On, Carry On

I’ve always wanted to make this blog a fun place to visit.  Over the last few weeks there have been fewer things to laugh about.   I used to have personal stories that were amusing, but at the moment they are far and few between.  Even Walter seems lethargic.  Even so, we need to smile when we can.

When I saw this, I burst out laughing.  Gallows humor, I suppose.  I guess I’m not the only one laughing since it’s been viewed over 5 million times on Facebook.  Still, I had to post it, if only for the two of you who haven’t see it, yet.

Stay well, my friends.  And please get in touch if anyone would like me to lend an ear or a shoulder.  I have two of each to share.

 

Please Check In…I Worry!

I know I haven’t been here much of late, but I do want to check in with my friends to see wow everyone is doing.  This horrible virus is shutting everything down here, and I would bet it’s the same for most people.

We are dong fine here.  Stocked up and ready if we are told to stay in our houses.  I’ve heard some cities in the US have already done that.

I would feel sooo much better if I heard from my WordPress friends to know things are ok.  Just put a short comment below to put my mind at ease.

I’m keeping Walter at home because we can’t find a mask in his size!

Thanks, Walter…

A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that our entertainment set-up needed some upgrading.   I was tired of having a dumb TV.  Smart TVs are all the rage.  The more Ks you have, the better.  It was time to take the plunge and replace our 32″ 1080p with something 4K.  Something wicked smart that would stream movies and do my dishes.

Since I wanted needed a new Roku, it made sense to get a Roku TV.  Perfect.  I ordered a humongous 43″er.  Go ahead and laugh.  It was replacing a 32″ model and 43″ seems pretty darned enormous!  I then figured it would be nice to have a sound bar to go with it.  I found this really cool Polk sound bar that truly sounds amazing.  It even had a remote where you can not only change the bass but also enhance voice mode and night mode and all  sorts of other modes.  Notice I said it HAD a remote.

You guessed it.  I bought the bar, and by the very next morning, Walter had eaten the remote.  He hadn’t digested it, but it was in smithereens and I could tell he only stopped chewing once he bit into a battery.  That must have tasted yummy, but he deserved it!  Eating that remote was not cool.  And that’s not all…

Walter also chewed up the remote from the old TV.  Great…that meant no mode-changing on the sound bar, and the old TV couldn’t be used because I couldn’t change the input on it.  Know why?  Because when we got the new TV, I changed all of the satellite remotes to the new TV code.  So now we have a poor old remote-less TV.  Thanks, Walter.

I shamed Walter for an entire day by just showing him those old lifeless remotes.  He knew he was in trouble and he hid in an unheated back room.  Every time he tried to come back in the kitchen, I would just touch the shell of the old remote and he’s slink off again.  At least he knew what he had done was bad and he would never do it again.  He had been punished good and proper.  It’s amazing how much a withering look will affect that dog.  That’s not to say that I didn’t yell.  I yelled plenty.

You might think the story ends here, but no.  I was able to find a new TV remote for less than ten bucks…yay!  It should be here any day now.  I was also able to find a new sound bar remote for 40 bucks.  I’ll still say “yay” but with a little less enthusiasm.  Still, for fifty dollars total, all would be right with the world.  Oh but it’s never that easy.  Not with Walter around.

The new sound bar remote arrived yesterday.  It was pristine and worked perfectly.  Notice I said it WAS pristine.  I came home this afternoon after a short jaunt into town and what should I find?  The $40 sound bar replacement remote chewed to pieces.  I won’t repeat what I said.  Actually, I will repeat it.  What I was thinking was very bad, but what I said was simple.  I looked at Walter and just said “OUT!!”  I pointed my finger toward the door and looked at him sternly.  Head down and tail between his legs, he looked over his shoulder abjectly as he slinked out of the room.

I just finished ordering a replacement for the replacement sound bar remote.  Another $40.  Nothing is safe around here.  Apparently, that goes double for remotes.  Thanks, Walter…