Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'Tis the Season!

It's the second week in Advent, and true to past history, chaos reigns.  I don't have time to write a blog post, but that's what I'm doing.  It's my version of risk-taking.  Some people sky dive, I write blog posts in the midst of chaos.  Well, there's some escapism involved, too . . .

Even though I preach all year long about the necessity of getting Christmas shopping done early - like October - I did my first day of Christmas shopping yesterday.  It was a full 9:00 to 5:00 day.  I learned some things that don't have anything to do with Christmas, but they were interesting anyway.  

Did you know that there is a product called "Poo-Pourri?"  It's a spray that you use if you think the bathroom won't smell as good when you leave it as it did when you arrived.  It's to be used when you first go in the bathroom.  I don't know if it's effective after the fact.  I passed it up because, after all, I was Christmas shopping and couldn't think of anybody that I'd want to give Poo-Pourri to.

I learned that having purple hair and a very large crystal-studded nose ring does not mean you're destined to a life of unemployment.

I found out that the younger sales people at Office Depot do not know what notary seals are.  "You know," I said, "those round gold self-adhesive stickers that have pinked edges?"  The response was a blank stare.  The young salesman took an electronic device out of his pocket.  After a few minutes of searching, he said, "Nope.  We don't have them."  I said, "Well, now, where in the world am I going to find notary seals?"  He said, "Try Walmart or maybe CVS." I'm not sure he knows what a notary is.  I strolled on down the stationery aisle, and lo and behold! - there were packages of shiny gold notary seals!  Not that I'm a notary, I just like notary seals for my return address embosser.  

I saw a neat idea on Pinterest for managing in-coming Christmas cards.  As your cards arrive, you punch a hole in the corner and put the cards on one of those hinged loose leaf rings.  Attach a bow or a little bit of greenery to the ring, and display your corralled cards on the coffee table.  Did I buy any hinged loose leaf rings while I was at Office Depot?  No, I did not.  At the time, I didn't know what to call these rings.  I was reluctant to try to describe them to the young salesman.  What would I have said?  "You know, those round metal ring thingies with a hinge and a notch?"  That would surely have gotten me another blank stare.  I've since learned online that these things are called "hinged loose leaf rings."  Besides, I just knew I had some at home - in more than one size.  But I've ransacked the drawers in three desks, the pencil drawer in the kitchen, and the closet upstairs where I keep office supplies with no success.  For the time being, I've strung the Christmas cards we've received on to a bit of chain.  

I noticed that there were a lot of bewildered-looking grandparents in Toys-R-Us.  I was one of them.  Toy-R-Us is another dimension.  Never in my entire childhood did I see so many toys assembled in one place.  The grandparents who were in front of me in line had given up on toys.  They bought  $200 worth of candy for their seven grandchildren.  They seemed like very nice people, but I'm glad I won't be spending Christmas day with their grandchildren.

I'm just now mailing Christmas cards to my pen pals overseas.  Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.  Two weeks ago I ordered those pretty round wreath postage stamps for international letters.  A week and a half later I wondered why I hadn't received them.  Of course, I blamed the post office and railed about their inefficiency.  But when I looked at my account on the postal website, I saw that I had neglected to click the "place your order" button.  My stamps were still in my cart.  (My apologies to the post office.)  I hit the magic button, and the stamps arrived in my mail box three days later.  But it's late now, and my Christmas cards probably won't arrive on time.  

It's cold this morning, but last week was like spring.  I cleaned all the dead plants out of the pots and planters on the deck.  (Didn't I realize I should have been Christmas shopping?) Then I took a day to shop for bedding plants.  I came home with pansies, dianthus, dwarf snapdragons, rosemary, spearmint, chocolate mint, a bay tree, and some paperwhite bulbs.  I got them all planted before they withered up in their tiny pots.  I've been known to let plants wither in their tiny pots.  As I've mentioned before on this very blog, I am a poor excuse for a gardener.  I hate watering plants in the heat of summer, so I've decided to try winter gardening.  Will I like watering in the cold any more than I like watering in the heat? I don't know.  Stay tuned.  We'll see.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Surrender of the Letter

I've been thinking - when you're beginning to look like an eccentric silly old woman to the young set in your family it's time to make some changes.  I think I'm starting to look that way because I've persisted in sending them postal mail - maybe not frequently, but regularly.  And I have wondered why a letter in the mail doesn't thrill them like it thrilled me in my youth.

Why were letters so thrilling when I was young?  Because they were the only line of communication, of course.  No, I wasn't born before the telephone was in common use, but long distance calls were costly, and so the only way to communicate inexpensively was the postal service.  I suppose I still like letters because they bring back memories of the excitement I always felt when Daddy came home from the post office with letters from far-off relatives.

You learned about deaths and catastrophies via a long distance call, so you could count on a letter to have happy news or at least the news of everyday life.  Letters were often saved - sometimes in pretty old hat boxes or attractive candy boxes after the candy was gone.  It wasn't unusual for them to be passed down to the next generation.  A lot of family histories have been preserved in letters.  In fact, a lot of our nation's history has been passed down in letters.

But today a letter is hardly a blip on any young person's radar screen.  And - now that I think about it - why should it be?  We all communicate by text now.  Even e-mail is outmoded for personal communication.  As fast as a thought comes into our heads, we can communicate it to someone else and they receive it instantaneously.  No wonder today's youth view letters as unneccessary or even annoying.  No doubt I'd feel the same if I had grown up in this hi-tech age.  

So I've decided to surrender to technology and discontinue postal mail to the young set.  When you have to text to inquire if a letter was received two or three weeks after it was mailed, it's time to make a change. I'll continue to write to my old friends - or, to be more precise - to my friends who are old.  They have the same thrilling postal memories that I have.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Slosh, Slosh, Slosh

Ten days ago I wrote this in an unfinished blog post:
Two more inches of rain last night.  The horses are beginning to think they are water buffalo.  We put them in the barn at night with plenty of hay.  If I were a horse, I'd be happy to stay in my nice dry stall in this cold wet weather, but they don't like to be stalled all the time.  I've let them out in the pasture where they are sloshing and squishing around in the mud and nibbling on the precious little bit of grass they can find.  I'm praying that a good crop of grass will make its way through the mud when spring arrives.  Spring!  The very word is beautiful!  I've never looked forward to spring like I'm looking forward to it this year!

Since writing this, we've had some spring-like weather with daytime highs in the upper 70s and warm, humid nights that required air-conditioning.  A line of thunder storms passed through last night bringing more rain, cooler temperatures, and plenty of sun.  I don't want to return to the ice we had earlier this month, but I'm not ready for the heat either, so I'm glad to have a little cool down.  It's a fine day!

I'm sitting at the tack room desk where I have a good view of the pasture.  I see that Rocky is celebrating the fine weather by having a good roll in the mud.  From the looks of Fay and Tesoro, they've already had their roll.  I guess it's just as well that I didn't spend any time grooming them this morning.

The barn kitchen/tack room project is coming along.  Originally these two rooms (with a bath room in between) were meant to be a general storage room and a tack room for all the horse stuff.  The walls and ceilings were finished, but we had never put anything on the concrete floors.  Over the years the storage room became Jerry's makeshift kitchen and the tack room became a catch-all.  Now there are new floors, new kitchen cabinets, and freshly painted walls and ceilings. 

The barn aisle is cluttered with stuff that had to come out of these rooms when the flooring was installed.  We are now at the inevitable slow part of any project - all the little details.  The clutter has to be gone through and decisions made about what's to be gotten rid of and how to organize and place what we're keeping.  

I miss the barn aisle where all the horse grooming is done.  It's not functioning very well because of all the clutter.   There's not much grooming going on, and the horses are overdue for a worming.  I knew we had wormers, but had no idea where they were until Jerry ran across them this morning when he was moving some boxes.  

Well, dear Reader, I must be off to clean something - or organize something - or steal a few minutes to read a page or two in Susan Branch's new book, A Fine Romance:  Falling in Love with the English Countryside.  I'm taking my good old sweet time reading it because I do not want it to end!  More about it later . . .

Friday, February 7, 2014

Life on the Bayou

It's not every year that we have a bona fide winter here in southern Louisiana, but we're having one this year.  We've had gray days with ice and sleet and bitter north winds over the bayou.  The horses started putting on their winter coats early in September.  I wondered then if it meant that a cold winter was coming and apparently it did.

The bayou is teeming with beautiful white pelicans, cormorants, and even a few sea gulls - from regions that make our winter seem mild, I guess.  I bundled up in two jackets, hat, scarf, and gloves and stood on our little dock with my camera, hoping to get some good pelican pictures.  I thought I might scare them away, but they didn't seem to notice me.

They have what looks like a well choreographed routine.  They float along like swans for a while.  Then all of a sudden they all take wing at once and fly a little ways up the bayou where they skid back on to the water to float a minute or two.  Then they all take wing again and fly back down the bayou.  This goes on and on - back and forth.  It must be nature's way of keeping them warm - and keeping them fit enough to fly home when spring comes.  As a
bonus - while taking pictures of pelicans - I got a lucky shot of a heron having his breakfast.

There's not as much boat traffic on the bayou as there is bird traffic these days.  But this morning the birds had to make way for a very large tow passing by - large enough to need a tug in front pulling and one behind pushing.  The spiffy red tug reminded me of "Little Toot," the tug boat in one of my favorite childhood books.  I don't know what the large vessel on the barge is - probably equipment for one of the local chemical plants.

Our latest project is a renovation of the tack room and kitchen in the barn.  Chaos reigns right now since a lot of "stuff" had to be moved into the barn aisle so that work could proceed.  More about this in my next post.
 I'm off now to do a little work in the barn.  It's still cold, but the glorious sun is lifting my spirits after a string of gray dismal days.  Spring will be more welcome than usual this year.