Sunday, November 29, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

What I saw on my Thanksgiving drive

I am always completely charmed by Madison County. We have our historic covered bridge, our park, wonderful schools, nice people, and something that always delights me (city gal): animals, animals, animals!

I've blogged before about the wonderful animals around, chickens, goats, cats, sheep, horses, buffalo (!), turkey buzzards, eagles, birds, and dogs, but yesterday took the cake.

On my way to Thanksgiving dinner with friends in Colbert, I passed such scenes of rural beauty it took my breath away. The leaves are still clinging to the trees and the sun was very bright, clear, and warm. The pampas grass was waving and the roads turned and curled and as each turn was made the new scene was more breathtaking than the last.

Wait a minute! What was THAT??? Backing up, a dangerous thing to do on a narrow, curvy road, I swung by to take a second look. Sure enough, this ostrich looking bird was pacing the fence parallel to the road. What IS it? I thought. Wonders never cease. First the buffalo and now this.

My friend Christie from "Life at the Condo (With Toddler)" answered my Facebook question with, "emu"? And sure enough, it is, as a comparable photo confirms.

What is an emu doing in Colbert GA? Emu farming's virtues are extolled here, it is a totally usable bird but the oil apparently is liquid gold. They require little feed and little ground space. I have no clue if the farm at Colbert is an oil or meat agribusiness or if the emu has other virtues and that's why it's there. For example, Pineland Farms in New Gloucester Maine keeps a guard llama with their sheep. The one I met was called Zorro.

In researching this emu thing I discovered that there is an emu farm on the other side of the county at Bowman. Fancy Feather Farms raises emus for oil and for meat, along with free range chickens and free range beef, and lots of other things. You can visit, which I might do one of these days.

So that's why I love it here. There are always surprises.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I saw on my walk today


Things that clacked

When I was a kid, I'd visit my aunt's office. I spent time playing with the wonderland of things that presented themselves to a six year old kid. A 1960's office held great things, most of them consigned to history's dustbin by now, sadly so. These were things that clacked.

IBM Selectric typewriters made noise. The carriage ticked as you put in paper. The typewriter keys clacked when you struck them. The machine binged when you got to the end of the page. The typewriter clattered as you yanked the page out of the roller.

The electric calculator had huge, solid buttons, which made a satisfying plonk when you pressed them, and the roll of paper advanced with a  hearty snap.

The office rubber stamps had a hefty spring that boinked when it snapped up from a satisfying downward stroke. The rotary phone back-dial skittered and stuttered. Even the heavy oak office chairs boomed as you moved it from one place to another, so heavy were they. I have one and the knob to adjust the height is massive and the screw even more humongous. The 1966 office was an office that made noise. It sounded productive.

Today's office machines are not as satisfying. The computers whir, the calculator beeps, the cell phone whines. Everything is so ... light and insubstantial. You see, my reminiscence began with a stapler. I have a Swingline, a tried and true name to be sure. It has a translucent top and is really light. It also jams when you put staples in and it jams when you use it. It is made of plastic. It gets the job done...usually...but it is certainly not a pleasure to use.

It got me thinking about where we have come from and where we are going. Look at the first, early stapler here, a Hotchkiss from the late 1800s. Isn't it gorgeous???

These were from the 1960s, heavy metal, and solid, never-jamming and useful life practically as long as Methuselah. Now this, from today's lightweight Swingline and the infamous Swingline Tot stapler. A nickel is included for scale.

Now, I do not miss White Out, nor carbon paper. Messy they were. As an aside, carbon paper, when you inserted a piece between two sheets that you were typing you could make a copy as you went along. That is where we got "carbon copy" from and is what CC on the email means. But I do miss heavy-duty, well-made tools that keep on working flawlessly every time you needed them. I'm glad I have a stapler, it's convenient. But I miss my heavy stapler I'd found in an old office supply furniture store in Auburn Maine. Now, where did that go?

Monday, November 23, 2009

A tale of sleep apnea, in pictures

After I saw this one morning, I wondered why am I not sleeping? I had just arisen from a cozy 4-post bed in a little cabin by the cove I rented each year in Lubec Maine. Why are the covers tortured, twisted, and evidence war on sleep, not peace? I thought, why do I not sleep, even on vacation?

A few years later a doctor recommended a sleep apnea test. I wrote before that I had gone through the paces and the docs found I wake up 30 times an hour and hold my breath up to a minute and a half. I am in the highest category for those who "don't wake up." Oh. So the mask forces oxygen into my nose and lungs even if I stop breathing. It keeps an even circulation at night so my brain doesn't deplete and I wake up even more tired than when I went to bed, an ever-devolving cycle that leads to eventual breakdown.

And now I sleep like a baby! In the morning I simply throw the covers back like this to get up, and to make the bed only have to flip them up again. It looks like no one even slept in it! I sleep deeply, don't wake up constantly, and awake refreshed. Life is good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My day so far, every gory detail

So the upcoming work week is school-free. The three days of Thanksgiving comprise the usual school break and the Monday and Tuesday are two additional no-pay days off that the state kindly foisted upon all school departments in a cost saving measure. They're called "furlough days." So I have the week off, but I don't get paid. But I have the week off! Might as well relax.

So this morning I went to the library and topped up on books. I renewed Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo. The NY Times says "The big contours of “Bridge of Sighs” are richly evocative and beautifully wrought, delivered with deceptive ease." Isn't that just like NY Times Book Review language? LOL. I wonder how the little contours are. Anyway, I hadn't started the book yet so renewal was necessary.

Stealing Lumby, a little, light book, by Gail Fraser, the second in a series that features a small town with quirky characters and a small-town newspaper at the center of it. The first book in the series was Lumby Lines, the name of the paper. The series evokes Jan Karon's Mitford series, but not as well written. The covers even look the same. But I like them because I am hoping the writing will mature with the series and it is clean, light, and cute literature. I read these kind of books at school when I have a break.

Gone to Green, Christian fiction by Judy Christie.  Strangely, this paperback also has at center a successful big-city journalist, who never imagined ending up in the tiny town of Green, La. She never guessed that within months she would unexpectedly inherit a smalltown newspaper. Hmmm. (tongue firmly in cheek).

One Second After, a great book about the immediate aftermath of an Electro-Magnetic Pulse. It's an apocalyptic thriller like "On The Beach" but on steroids. Personally, I think a destructive EMP will be detonated over the US soon. I never forgot the opening scene in Whitley Strieber's Warday, published in 1984, depicting in detail what happens when all electronics are immediately rendered neutralized. Twenty-five years after Warday was published, our dependance on electronics has only grown exponentially and shat means, so has our vulnerability. I'm looking forward to reading One Second After, depicting the EMP but in more modern terms.

And yes, it's come to this, John Grisham's "The Associate." Washington Post reviewer says In 2005, as part of an Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program, a Las Vegas man wrote letters of apology to people he might have harmed in his drinking days. One letter went to a woman who in 1984 had claimed that he raped her at a fraternity party when they were students at the University of Virginia, only to have her charges dismissed by police and school officials. But given the man's admission in his letter, the woman called police, and he was charged with rape; after plea bargaining, he served six months in a Virginia prison for a lesser offense. The case was extensively reported in Charlottesville, where the novelist John Grisham now lives, and he has made a fictional version of it central to "The Associate," his 21st novel."

As for legal thrillers, I love 'em. In my twenties I read "The Trial of Socrates" by I.F. Stone, then later in my thirties complicated legal non-fiction like "One L" by Scott Turow,  "A Civil Action" by Jonathan Harr, "And The Sea Will Tell" by Vincent Bugliosi. And now in my forties, Grisham. I shudder to see what my brain will be like in my

Next on the reading stack is "Orbit, NASA Astronauts photograph the earth". When my eyes get too tired at night to read or computerize, but don't want to watch tv, I like a big, pretty coffee table book. The photos are wonderful in this book, and I have always enjoyed looking at aerial, topo, or satellite maps. The last coffee table book I checked out was "Titanic: the last great images".

Then I headed to the Marketplace, a small grocery store serving Danielsville. They have good prices and I only needed a few items. I got a dozen eggs, sour cream, an 8 lb sack of russet potatoes, margarine, a banana, scallions, and potato sticks for $7. At the Dollar Store I got another few items, Jiffy Corn Muffin mix donation for the food pantry, creamer, popcorn for movies this week, and peanuts for Asian dishes I make- all for $4. The food pantries are going gangbusters as well as the church panries. There is such need these days! I fueled up a tank of gas, drove home the slow way, and generally feel pretty good with myself. Food, gas, books, all fuel for the body, car, and mind. I'm ready to go! Actually, I'm ready to stay! LOL.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Exciting weather quizzes

I was subbing in the fourth grade today. A bunch of 4th grades got together and played Jeopardy on the large-scale, wall computer (Smart Board). This was a review for a weather quiz they are having tomorrow. I was impressed with how much the kids knew about weather instruments, atmospheric conditions, cold and warm fronts, severe weather, and all the rest.

They got so excited and at one point they were bubbling over with pride in what they knew and in the excitement of the game. The question was posed about two kinds of fair weather clouds. In his group to debate the answer, one shouted, "Cyrus and Curious!"

LOL. The finally got it ironed out to cirrus and cumulus and won $400, Alex.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Further evidence I am not a slave to routine

Some days I put on a sock and a sock then a shoe and a shoe; others, I put on a sock and a shoe then a sock and a shoe. How about you?

Skip to 8:40

"Amazingly consistent"

I went to the Electric Office to pay my power bill. I like that the local utility has an office in town, so I try paying in person rather than electronic pay or snail mail. I asked the lady to show me my bill history and it was the same throughout the months, even over the year. Almost exactly the same. She looked at me, smiling, and said, "You are amazingly consistent."

"I am amazingly frugal," I said, and we both laughed.

I got to thinking about consistency. I AM consistent. I like routine. It is comforting to know ahead of time what I am going to do and where I'll be. I get up between 6:15 and 6:29am, do the same morning tasks, complete a devotional, and go to work. Each day I arrive home at nearly the same time, have tea, read my bible, and begin research for my blog and for my e-mail newsletter, and I write, write, write. I watch the same two or three television shows (Supernanny, Touched by and Angel, and either Top Chef or Real Estate Intervention), and then I go to bed. On Fridays, I don't go straight home but I stop at the library to get a new slew of books for the weekend and week ahead.

Recognizing that routine can easily veer into a rut, I decided that I would shake myself up. No ruts for me! So I went to the Library on Thursday, I did my dishes on Friday, and on Saturday, I will make cranberry-oatmeal muffins instead of blueberry. Maybe, if  I'm feeling wild, my weekly pot of soup will have a beef base instead of chicken. We'll see how it goes. There's such a thing as going TOO crazy.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bloodless Obama makes some wistful for Bush

Telegraph UK
More serious perhaps was Mr Obama's strange disconnectedness over the Fort Hood massacre of 13 soldiers by an Army major and devout Muslim who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had praised suicide bombing and shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he opened fire.

Maybe Mr Obama had been reading the American press, much of which somehow contrived to present the atrocity as a result of combat stress due to soldiers going on repeated war deployments (though Major Nadal Hasan had not been on any) and therefore, no doubt, Mr Bush's fault.

When the television networks cut to the President, viewers listened to him spend more than two surreal minutes talking to a gathering of Native Americans about their "extraordinary" and "extremely productive" conference, pausing to give a cheery "shout out" to a man named Dr Joe Medicine Crow. Only then did he briefly and mechanically address what had happened in Texas.

On Friday, when most of the basic facts were available, Mr Obama tried again. It was scarcely any better. He began by offering "an update on the tragedy that took place" - as if it was an earthquake and not a terrorist attack from an enemy within - and ended with a promise for more "updates in the coming days and weeks". 
Completely missing was the eloquence that Mr Obama employs when talking about himself. Absent too was any sense that the President empathised with the families and comrades of those murdered.

George W. Bush Secretly Visits Fort Hood Victims
The Bushes entered and departed the sprawling military facility in secret, having told the base commander they did not want press coverage of their visit, a source told Fox News.  

So while the president usurper relaxes at Camp David at our expense, former President Bush and his wife spend time giving to soldiers of their time, prayers, and emotional energy. Hmmm, now there's class.