Archive for August, 2011

Mallory and me

I truly have a very accommodating husband.   Despite the fact that he really isn’t a Cat Person, he understands my attraction to them and does not object to having a feline in the house.   He is even kind to Mallory, and when she “helps” him tie his boots, he plays with her too.

I have seen him laugh out loud at her antics, just as I have seen him visit stern discipline upon her when she does something particularly horrid, for example,  like when she decided that perhaps she should play on top of the expensive and delicately balanced phonograph.   He doesn’t hurt her, but his growl is quite impressive.   She only made that mistake once….

The other afternoon, she was watching the FYC (Front Yard Channel) on CatTV.  Whatever it was that was going on out there was so fascinating that I decided that I needed to see what was going on as well.   (There were bees on the Russian sage, as it happened.   Very interesting.)  Zoey thought that we made a charming picture together, so Jim gave her a crash course in the use of the camera and she caught these shots of us.

It sort of looks like she is looking back at me, but what she was actually doing was looking at the dove that was eating grit on the driveway.

She can still fit inside the cat tree tunnel, and pops out in a most amusing way.

The cat tree is right near the phone station, and on more than one occasion as I was talking on the phone and waving my hand around expressively, she has popped out and grabbed it.  She has really learned the “soft paws” technique for playing with people, so it isn’t too painful to be startled that way.   Since she is teething, she still is a bit “bite-y”, but that is improving too.

In other news, the garden is producing squash like this is the last year squash will ever be available.   We have over 5 gallons of sliced and grilled squash stowed away for winter.

Our green beans went into a swoon during late July; heat exhaustion, I guess.  Now the weather has moderated and we have gotten rain, and they have finally started to put on beans.  Yesterday I picked about half a gallon, I imagine I’ll get a similar quantity today; then it will be time to blanch and freeze some for winter.

The chard, kale and beet greens need to be picked and blanched too.

Honestly, if we get much more produce we may have to buy another freezer.   I’m not sure where we would put it if we did.   All the space in the carport is pretty well taken up.   When we first moved here, we had our sole freezer out on the back porch, and we could certainly put on out there again, but I’m not convinced that being in the weather when there is an east wind would be all that good for it.   This would not be such an issue if I was willing to can more of my produce, but in my opinion, freezing really is the best way to preserve quality in fruits and veggies.

If the infrastructure was destroyed by a huge disaster I’d be on an emergency crash canning operation!

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What I saw at dawn this morning.   I had to make a blood sacrifice for these photos, the mosquitos were out in force.

Blessed be.

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Goodnight, Irene…

Ah.   Finally a new earworm.

For some reason, that song popped into my head as I was contemplating the sad and sudden news that Jim’s older brother Don died in his sleep the other night.

We received the call yesterday while I was doing my sole massage for the day.   It made for a surreal, somber evening, I can tell you.

Jim’s summing up after he told me the news was, “Talk about growing up.”   I digested this sentence, and realized he was referring to the next level of experience of loss, the time when your first sibling dies.   The first level, of course, is your first parent’s death.

“At least I can say, ‘My big brother died.'” he continued.   “What about the rest of my brothers?   The thought has to be there:  ‘My kid brother died this week.’  The thoughts have to be there:  ‘Who’s next?   You?  Me?'”

After dinner we held a wake, and Jim recalled some good times he and Don and Arlene shared in the early seventies, running off to Tahoe when Jim was down from Whidbey Island, Washington on leave.   And I recalled going out to Cheyenne to see Frontier Days, we went to the rodeo and Jim remembered it was the coldest we had ever been during the end of July.   It was Don, through the auspices of his collection of various distillations, who ushered in the moment of my life when I finally learned that it wasn’t Scotch I didn’t like; it was blended Scotch I didn’t care for.   Single malt scotch was another horse entirely, and the end of the era of me being a cheap date ended.

Good times.

Getting to see the Blackbird SR-71 at an air show held at Beale AFB has to be a peak memory for us as well.  It was still pretty tippy top secret at that time, but we were able to experience that because Don was stationed there.   Not everybody got to go beyond that barrier on the air base.   Totally cool airplane.  I have a picture of Jim on my desk that was taken at that air show.   I’ll never forget that afternoon, well fueled by beer and sunshine, the smell of jet fuel, the sight of my lover barely dressed in The White Shorts enjoying the bosom of his family, Don, Arlene, the Pink Cowboy Hat. . .

Sorry to see you leave so soon, Don.   Enjoy your journey, wherever you may roam.

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Afternoon storm

I was seeing off a client a couple of days ago in that tender hour just before the sun kisses the horizon.   I was surprised to see a huge cloud building just to the southwest of here, because as I worked on the tense muscles in her back, I could hear the weatherman blathering in the room across the hall where my husband was watching the news while putting the finishing touches on our evening repast.   In his technological innocence, the “Staff Meteorologist” had proclaimed that it was going to be a quiet night stormwise in our neck of the Ozarks, the only activity he could see was far south of here on the Arkansas/Missouri line, blah blah blah   TIME FOR A COMMERCIAL….

I love looking at the satellite and radar images on the NOAA site, and I appreciate all the technology that the meteorologists use.  The trouble is, all that up-to-date science can’t seem to compete with going out and looking up at the sky.

As soon as I did, I knew I had to be sure and remember to share this with Skywatch!

I went right out to the backyard after I finished a short photo session featuring the growing storm cell, and removed the dry laundry from the clothesline.   As I was carrying it in, my dear niece looked at me and said “I was going to take care of that after dinner,” in that tone that tells me that she expects to be verbally chastised for her irresponsibility.

Soothingly, I told her that it seemed to me that waiting until after dinner was probably going to be too long.  I opined that it looked like rain in the near future to me.

This beautiful child of the electronic age informed me, “Well, we were  just looking at the radar on the News, and the Weatherman didn’t think it was going to rain anywhere around here tonight.”

I’m afraid my acerbity rose to the top of my conversational gambits at this point and I said something like, “Maybe he should look out the window before he makes his forecast,” and threw the dry laundry on the couch.  Then I grabbed my camera and went out to take pictures of the building storm.

It was really awe-inspiring to watch the cloud feed on the setting sun’s energy and grow from a few wisps to this rain-heavy monster.  It only took about around 45 minutes total, and soon after I took the above shot, the ground strikes began, so I decided to go inside.

The storm struck quickly after that, with strong downdrafts but no hail (thankfully), and was a monsoon-like deluge.  It filled the rain garden up with water and when it was all over (20 minutes later) we had received .9 inches.

The storm moved majestically off to the north east, flashing and banging until well after dark.  Jim and I spent twenty minutes out in the carport trying to get a decent video of the amazing lightning display that was going on, but our camera was not up to the job, so I only have memories.

Mallory has discovered the area behind the stereo cabinet and the computer desk, where the approximately two thousand electrical cords live in a snaky disorder.   The cord that connects the keyboard to the computer has some sort of evil fascination.   This post was interrupted several times as the spray bottle discipline was administered in an apparently futile effort to dissuade her from her firmly held belief that all of that wonderful stuff back there was provided solely for her amusement.  Right this second she is killing a paper ball; in the time it has taken me to type this the paper ball has been under the dining room table, ran away from her through the kitchen into  the living room, hid unsuccessfully from her under the coffee table, made its way quickly down the hall and has now been in 99 of the 100 square feet of this family room and apparently now has led her astray back into the forbidden paradise of stereo cords…. I must go now…..

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“Alas, poor Yorick!   I knew him, Horatio:  a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times…”   (Shakespeare, Hamlet Act V)

This is my river hat.   It is also my travel hat, my gardening hat, my mowing the lawn hat, my walking the dog hat, my bringing in the cattle hat.

It is The Ultimate Hat, Original from Ultimate Hat , Inc.  I has the distinction of being made in the U.S.A. of U.S.A. materials.   Not a lot of products can claim that nowadays, and not a lot of products can exemplify such high quality nowadays either.  I can testify to the quality, the fact that this hat has gone so many places and done so many things with me for so many years is evidence of that.

It was a gift from my brother, who occasionally graces these pages in the comments section under the pseudonym “Connecticut Yankee.”  He gave it to me lo these many years ago, shortly after we moved to Missouri when it became evident that I did not have a proper river hat.  I am not postive, but I believe the year was 1993.

Today, I decided that I needed to replace it.   Goodness knows why — unless it is the extra ventilation provided by the large rents which recently appeared during the ritual washing of the hat, something that happens on the order of about every 3 years (or so).   Apparently, the sweat and dirt were what was holding the thing together, and removal of the same amounted to the coup de grace for the fabric’s integrity.  I’ve already had to replace the chin strap twice.

Here’s something cool:   This hat model has remained unchanged during the nearly 20 years since its original purchase.  Not only that, but it is only $12 more costly than it was when I purchased one exactly like it for my son in 1996.   I guess the company follows the maxim “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I am very sad to replace this item.   Aside from the fact that it was a gift of love from my brother, it has accompanied me on many an adventure.   It has been to Costa Rica, Mexico, Alaska, Germany, and Spain in addition to accompanying me on my travels all over the continental United States.   Rarely do I go anywhere without that hat — it is light, it packs flat, it floats, it shelters my nose and ears from the sun.  It has a classic style that fits in in any culture, and almost any venue.  (I don’t suppose it would be suitable for Ascot, although I might choose to wear it anyway if I was ever inclined to attend that event, just out of pure cussedness.)

God knows how, but I managed to forget to pack it  when we made our pilgrimage to the Far East in 2000-2001, so it did not get to visit Singapore, Malaysia, or Australia.   This omission did provide me with the rationale to purchase a souvenir hat from the ship we were on so that I wouldn’t get fried when we visited the various national parks we enjoyed while outside of Darwin.   That hat did keep the sun off my nose and ears, but it didn’t endear itself to me otherwise.

Once my hat almost drowned me.   The extremely secure chin and occiput straps that keep it firmly on your head in high winds (they really DO keep it on your head) also proved to be quite secure in the river current.  You see, I capsized my canoe in the middle of a riffle and found myself being dragged down the river head first by the force of the river current against the brim of the hat.   The angle was such that the hat kept pulling my head under the water as I bumped downriver through the rocks, and as I gulped my second unwanted drink of white water I finally had the presence of mind to flip the chin strap off my chin.   The hat immediately came off and floated merrily away, unaware of my adrenaline frenzy from the close call I had sustained.   I retrieved it from the eddy below the rapid, and after that I usually didn’t secure both straps!   Not when I was floating, anyway.

One of the most memorable adventures it accompanied me on was when my friend Sharon and I went on a rafting trip (along with her almost daughter-in-law Terri) down the Colorado River from Phantom Ranch to Whitman Wash.

I took this shot of penstemon on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon while wearing the hat.

I had a wonderful time  and took lots of other pictures on that trip, but that one is one of my favorites, and will have to stand in for all the others.

I have worn my Ultimate Hat on countless float trips.

I was floating on the Niangua when I took this shot of a green heron; the hat was with me then too.

The replacement has been ordered, and I look forward to having many fine adventures and to capturing more wonderful images with it on my head.

I haven’t told the old one yet.   I just don’t know how to tell it that it has been made redundant.

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