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“Whipsaw:  n 1. A narrow two person crosscut saw. v 1. To cut with a whipsaw, 2. To defeat in two ways at once” 

It was a lovely day today at The Havens.  Last week, after several days of pretty cold temperatures (sub zero at night), it snowed.  Then it warmed up enough to melt the thin layer of snow on the ground.  This was followed by some days around freezing accompanied by gusty winds.  Finally it warmed up and the wind blew like a wind tunnel testing a jet airplane.

This morning it dawned clear and cool and totally calm.  It would have been ideal to burn off the labyrinth right then, but we had a date at the kid’s house for home made waffles.   So we went over there (a matter of walking half a block) at the appointed time and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast with the family.  It is really lovely to have our grandkids so close.  AND their parents…  I must not leave them out!

After our repast, we came home, got busy, and burned off the tall grass that had accumulated in the labyrinth over the last summer.  It was a perfect day for burning, and still hadn’t gotten so warm that tending the fire was onerous.  There have been times when it was sort of like an introduction to Hades, what with a warm day and a brisk breeze.  Today it was just damp enough that the grass burned well but not like an inferno.  No wind to speak of, so the flames crept their way through the paths and rocks desultorily.  We had to use the flame thrower a few times to encourage them to do a complete job.

There are lots of rags and tags of grass tops, as well as things like the stems of goldenrod, little white asters, and primroses spread in the paths.   They really need to be raked up but I decided to do something else instead.  If I leave them long enough they will blow away or compost in place, maybe.

After unhooking and draining the hoses we had deployed for fire safety reasons, we rolled them and coiled them back up on their supports.  Winter is not over yet and we have had enough of frozen pipes.

Speaking of frozen pipes, the contractor man has been here since Wednesday repairing the utility bathroom.  We picked out new floor tile for it, auditioning a style that we are considering using for the Great Bathroom Remodel, which is scheduled for a future date yet to be determined.   We LOVE the tile and lucky for us it was on sale so we bought the necessary quantity and have stashed it in the sauna dressing room.  The bathroom should become functional early next week.

Of course, there has been a daily (except for Thursday) pilgrimage to Springfield to visit the Ailing Mother.  She came through her popliteal bypass alive (barely).  There were a few rough days, and once the hospital figured out that she really needed a blood transfusion, she rallied enough to be moved to a rehabilitation hospital.  Since then she has walked as much as 70 feet during physical therapy and can get up out of her wheel chair and move to the bed “unassisted” (meaning two people stand nearby at the ready to make sure that she does not lose her balance and fall during the painstaking process).  But her appetite has returned, and her mind is once again active.  She has been working on her tatting project.  Aside from the open incision around the bypass site, she is looking fairly good.  There is still a lot of ground to cover, but we are no longer in fear of her life.

And my sister was released from the hospital today, after fighting infection from the cat bite she got while she was neutropenic from her latest chemotherapy for her leukemia.  Thank God for small favors.

With both people that were in so much danger moving towards safety, maybe I can actually get some sleep tonight.

Anyway, back to today.   Instead of raking the labyrinth, I cleared the old dry tops out of the asparagus bed.   While I was engaged in that chore, I noticed that the bees were out foraging.   Then I started wondering if they still had enough honey to keep them going through the rest of the winter.  (Despite the lovely day today, winter is FAR from over.) Presently my curiosity grew so much that I went into the house and prevailed on Jim to make a wellness check on the colony.  He suited up and opened the hive and we determined that they have LOTS of honey to eat, they seem very healthy and active.   Without disturbing them much more than that, he put the hive back together and we watched them continue about their bee business.

This activity made me wonder what on earth they could be finding to forage this time of year?  It didn’t take me long to remember that yesterday while I was walking Ruby I noticed that the witch hazel out at Bennet Spring was blooming.  I have a few witch hazel trees here at the Havens, so it wasn’t much of a leap to wonder if perhaps our bees had found them.

I went to look, and lo and behold!

DSCF6527

The bees have indeed discovered that there is a source of pollen out there for them.  While I was playing bee paparazzi, I saw a couple of tachnid wasps out there too. They declined to be photographed, so I can’t prove it.

Then I went out and weeded the strawberry, blueberry and raspberry cage.   It was very healing to dig out all that henbit and chickweed.  The whole cage looks great!  While I was working, I could hear the hum of the hive on the other side of the fence.

Maybe I will have some time to work on my art journal this evening.  That would be very good.

 

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We decided to make our quarterly trip to Costco today.   We switched from Sam’s Club membership to Costco largely because the Costco corporate entity treats its staff much better than the Waltons treat their slaves  work force.  I mean, they pay a living wage and provide benefits!   What a novel concept.   I prefer to reward that sort of policy with my shopping dollar.

The other thing that drew us to Costco was the huge amount of organic food they have available.   And it is being sold at VERY competitive prices.   For instance, we have done quite a lot comparison shopping around the area and we have found that the prices at the Commissary really are quite a lot better than at any of the other grocery stores in the area.   So we were delighted to find that organic diced tomatoes were actually cheaper at Costco than the conventional diced tomatoes sold at the Commissary.   Not only that, but they are far superior in flavor.

So anyway, the weather was great and we were low on parmesan.   Also, there is a big annual soirèe in the offing, and Chef Jim has decided he wishes to produce Shrimp Piripiri for that  event, so we needed to procure some shrimp too.  Additionally, the new solar system (we made 30kWh today!!!) has made us super energy conscious and we wanted to invest in LED lights for the bathroom and kitchen.  All this being the case, we went through the larder and put together a list.

After my water aerobics class, we loaded up and headed off to St. Louis.  It was an uneventful trip until we got near the Galleria shopping mall in Clayton, where the drivers were acting particularly insane.   One lady was so incensed by the poky person in front of her who was waiting for the traffic to clear before making her left hand turn that she zipped her giant gas guzzling behemoth out of the left turn lane into my lane — right in front of me — causing my heart to stop, and my foot to hit the brake in a most hasty manner.   Fortunately, the guy behind me did NOT slam into my rear and I managed to miss her passenger side corner.  With great amazement, I observed her swerve back in front of the hapless little car she was shitting all over, and, running the red light in front of her, pulled at a high rate of speed into the parking lot of the mall.

I guess she was having a bad day.   Thank goodness no one had a wreck.

Shaken, I continued on down to the lovely Oceano Bistro where we partook of a most splendid luncheon, which began with a dozen fresh oysters and wound up with sumptuous desserts.  It included a glass of lovely white wine.

Safe from shopping on an empty stomach, which we ALL know is a Very Bad Idea, we moseyed on over to Whole Foods Market, where we procured the hazelnuts we will need for making biscotti at Christmas time.   From there we continued on to Costco, where we successfully found everything on our list except the organic lime juice.   No worries there, we’ll just order it from Amazon.

Laden with our purchases and cheered by our lovely day in the big city, we proceeded on our way home.   We were passed by some people in a great big hurry to get where they were going and noted that the State Troopers were busy on both sides of the freeway.   Secure in our habit of setting the cruise control at 66-67mph (due to the better gas mileage we get by going a little under the speed limit), I was surprised when red, white, and blue flashing appeared behind us.  “Hey, honey,”  I notified my spouse.   “You have lights behind you.”  He dutifully slowed down, but when they did not pass us, he turned on his signal and pulled over.

“I wonder why we got stopped?”  I said, as we waited for the officer to approach.   “It sure wasn’t for speeding.”

We sat quietly, hands clearly in view.   I was surprised to find the officer appear by the passenger window, shining his flashlight in at me.  In retrospect, that makes perfect sense.  I would not want to be standing on the traffic side of a vehicle with my rear end sticking out into the lane while doing a traffic stop on the busy Interstate.   Anyway, I hit the switch and lowered my window, and pleasantly said “Hello, officer.  What can I do for you?”

“I am Officer Kelly Somelastname of the Rolla Police.   How are you doing tonight?”

“We’re just fine,”  Jim replied pleasantly.

“I stopped you tonight because you have a tail light out.   Were you aware that it was out?”

“We have a tail light out?   Oh no!” I said, with probably more animation than was really necessary.

“I’m going to need to see your license and insurance information,” he said.   I popped open the glove compartment, where my large collection of state road maps resides, which caused it to flop open with a solid “flump.”   While I reached behind the sheaf of maps to retrieve the white envelope that contains all the relevant vehicular information, Jim slid his license out of his wallet.   Of course, my insurance information was right there in the front of the envelope, and I pulled out about five insurance registration cards and paged through them until I found the one that was current, which I handed over to the officer.

He took the license and the insurance card, and asked us where we were headed.  In unison, we chorused, “Home.   To Lebanon.”

“Where are you coming from?”

“Oh, we’re coming from St. Louis.   We were making our quarterly Costco run,”  I informed him.

“Really?”  the officer responded.   “I used to shop at Costco, but I let my membership lapse.  Then I started going to Sam’s in Springfield.”

We spent a few moments discussing the relative virtues of Costco, but eventually he recalled that he had an actual duty to perform, at which point he rather apologetically told us he was going to have to “run this information.”   He bore our documents off to his cop car, where he checked our plates (nothing), insurance (Paid and current), and Jim’s license (boring boring boring).  After a while he returned to my window and gave our documents back.

As he returned them, he commented “I can see you have been doing some heavy shopping!”

We chatted for a while longer, with Jim informing him about how great it was that Costco had all that organic food, and eventually the young man said he thought he had held us up long enough.   Jim told him that we were getting ready to stop anyway as it was about time to change drivers.   Then the very nice policeman bid us farewell and safe travels.   While he returned to his car, we got back on the road and proceeded on our way.

For a while we discussed how very low key our whole traffic stop experience had been, and mentioned how fortuitous it is that we habitually wear our seat belts, etc. etc. etc.

We stopped at the rest area by Doolittle, and changed drivers.

“We’ll be home in about 45 minutes,” Jim said, as we pulled out of the rest area.

“Ruby will be glad to see us,” I replied.

“So will the cats.”

“Maybe I should drive the truck when I take Ruby for her walk,” I observed.

It was a lovely day for driving, no wind, and the traffic was light.  We wended our way towards home, unstressed.  After a while, I commented that it was only a couple of miles from our house to the park where I walk Ruby.  Maybe I’d just take the car anyway.   After all, the truck is high and it is harder for our aging dog to jump up into it.  Jim did not disagree.

Since, as I have mentioned previously,  I habitually set my cruise control several MPH below the speed limit, I am used to seeing head lights approach from behind and then pull out to go around my boring ass.   When I had gotten past the Sleeper exit, which means I am within about 6 miles of home, I was surprised to notice a set of head lights that came up behind me and did not pass, but rather, paced me.   “What the heck,” I thought to myself, right about the time the red, white, and blue lights switched on.

“Oh Good Grief” I said, rather heatedly, as I immediately turned on my turn signal and sharply pulled onto the shoulder and braked to an expeditious halt.  It was so expeditious that the “Your stupid oil is low” light came on.

By the time the Laclede County Sherriff’s deputy reached my window (he was not as cautious about sticking his butt out into traffic as the Rolla City policeman was) I had my license extracted from my purse and the window down.

“Good evening, ma’am,” he began politely.  I stuck my driver’s license out towards him.  Jim was waving our insurance documents in his direction too.

“I know.  My driver’s side tail light is out.   The guy in Rolla just stopped us and told us,” I informed the hapless lawman, rather abruptly. (I really do have a bad habit of interrupting.)

“Oh.”  He was rather non-plussed.   “Well, I guess I won’t bother running this stuff through, then,” the deputy said, abashed.   “I’ll just let you get on your way.”

He handed my license back to me, and then added, “I’m real sorry for bothering you.   Please excuse us.   It’s a slow night.”

I put my license back in my wallet, and as he began to walk away he said,  “Keep on driving safe, now.”

As I pulled out onto the freeway again, I was laughing a little hysterically, I admit.  I said to Jim, “I think I’ll use the truck to take Ruby for her walk.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” Jim responded.   “With our luck, a city cop will come up behind you and he might not be willing to cut you any slack.”

“Especially if Ruby came up with her big ‘Woof’ from the back seat,”  I laughed.

(This was in reference to the drug and alcohol check point that she and I had come upon about five years previously.   I had just taken her for her walk.   It was about 9:30 p.m. and we had done 3 miles, so she was napping in the back seat happily worn out.  When I stopped at the check point and rolled down my window, the policeman doing the check stuck his head in my window.  They do that so they can smell the air in your car.  If you’ve been drinking, trust me, your car will reek of whatever it was you were imbibing.    He had just stuck his head in the window when Ruby arose from the back seat and stuck her nose between the head rest of my seat and the window where his head was with a very emphatic “Whothefuckareyouandwhyareyoumenacingmymom?” dog inquiry noise.    The startled cop nearly smacked his head on the top of the door as he precipitously exited my window.)

I did take the truck when we went for our walk.   And you can bet your bottom dollar that I checked to make sure the tail lights were working before I backed out of the driveway!

(Side note:  As a testament to the reliability of the Toyota brand, I want to point out that in the 7 1/2 years we have owned this vehicle, a Prius, other than routine replacement of consumables, such as filters, tires etc., the driver’s side tail light is the first, and only, thing that has failed.)

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