Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What # day was it for rest?

It's been a bit busy around here, and blogging fell to the bottom of the list, along with making dinner, vacuuming and washing dishes. I had my annual physical last week (and yay for not needing intimate-lady-exam until 2012)-changed the prescription I take to help with pain, and sleep, and I am slowly getting used to it. The first few days were nauseous and sleepy, and then I started work on Monday!

 I received a letter from my former employer inviting me back for seasonal work and went for the hiring interview, expecting to start in the fall again. Much to my chagrin dismay surprise, I was told there was a class starting June 27th, and since I had no good reason to say no, here I am, back filling orders at the warehouse. Thank goodness for 'work hardening' because I need to ease into this! 4 hour days this week, 6 hours next week, then on to 8 hour days when the work is there.

This means I have to be up at 3 AM again (J gets up 15 minutes earlier) and that's bad enough , but it also means J and I go to bed by 7 PM at the latest and surprise- it's light outside! Our bedroom faces west so it's pretty darn light out and the birds are singing. I got up last night to let a surprised Boomer out to pee because the silly catbird outside our window can whine just like he does.

We've also been busy getting some little projects done before the kids come up for the weekend. J's got one of his horseshoe pits reclaimed from the jungle but ran out of the bargain play sand he had stashed away.
So, one down and one to go.
We've also been weeding flower gardens and trying to keep up with the lawn.

The old van is gone and I am driving Ameranth's Taurus station wagon, which is an evolving adjustment. At least once each day I hit the stupid alarm button instead of unlocking the doors, and I had to go to the manual to figure out the heat/ac digital array.  It's been a hectic 7 days. Oh yeah, we started work on another bedroom upstairs!

In the good news department, I snagged some more Ladyslipper photos from her mother's Facebook site. In the bad news side, she and Shoeshine will not be able to visit this summer as hoped, due to financial constraints. She's finally getting hair!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I read an article in this morning's paper referencing an article from 1940 about haymaking. The author wrote about using a scythe to cut grass, and the art of tossing the loose hay into the wagon correctly so that it would be easier to offload to the haymow. He mentioned the different rakes used, and the progression to the balers and mechanical ramps used later, and it all brought back memories of summers helping my grandfather with haying.

It was in the '60s, not the '40's and he had a tractor, but no baler- just the tedder to spread and toss the grass to dry, and the infamous hay rake with which he terrorized his 'help'. His help being the five of us grandkids and his youngest son, Chuck, who is just 3 years older than me.  As far as I remember, #2 and I started helping at the same time, and the younger ones took our places as they grew- and we escaped.

My grandfather was a big, no-nonsense farmer/school bus driver who could laugh as loudly as he yelled- but he seemed to yell a lot more often.  I don't know how often I heard "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right" and "There's two ways to do this, the wrong way and the right way" with the right way being his way, of course. He was Mr. 'my way or the highway'.

So it was pretty scary when you got tall enough to ride the hay rake.
The type he used was a dump rake. Those big jangly teeth were lowered to catch the hay and sweep it together, then a foot lever was used to raise the prongs, leaving the hay in a line. They would be lowered again and sweep the next batch of hay back to the be dumped next to the first, making one long line of hay to be picked up later. Ideally, that is how it worked. 

Now take another look at that rake. Ten feet wide, rattling, bouncing teeth, a little metal seat with nothing to hang onto as you bump across the field, stretching out your foot poised to push the trip pedal that you barely reached when it was was up, never mind depressed. There was always a delay between the stomp and the rise of the rake, and timing that was the tricky part. Anticipating Papa O's bellow of "now!" and getting the muscle twitch reaction right made for a stressful ride. And, looking back, how the hell much difference did it make if the lines wobbled a bit? A lot apparently. (see paragraph above describing my grandfather)

After that came the gathering of the hay, with 3 tine forks and more directions. If I remember correctly, he had a stake body truck to carry the hay to the barn and my brother and I weren't too much help after the hay got to a certain height in the truck. I think we used hand rakes to help gather the loose hay. 
I think he had a lift in the barn to get the hay from the truck up to the haymow, sort of like the claw used in those machines to grab a stuffed toy? except using ropes, not machinery. I don't remember clearly,  but we weren't allowed in the barn while they unloaded, so we stayed out of the way.

As far as I know, there are no photos of our 'haydays', it was not a time when recording daily activities was as easy and usual as it is now. (Hence the "I think"s and "I don't remember"s I used a lot.) The part of me that loves looking at old photos and marveling at the moments captured wishes there were pictures, but another part enjoys the mental snapshots that are mine alone.  My siblings and I shared the same events, in the same places but not all the same times. Although the angles of our memories are all different, I'm pretty sure Papa O figures prominently for us all in those conjured up by the smell of fresh hay.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15th and it's sunny!

I know, that shouldn't be news, right?  Overall it has been a nasty wet cold spring in Maine and I am sick of it. I admit we have had some nice days but not enough when you consider we only get 5 months of warm here. But it's sunny here today and I will be outside as soon as the overgrown grass has dried up a bit., so enough whining.

Enough whining about the weather, anyway. We are still dithering about our vehicle woes. Well, I'm dithering-J has set his mind on a new van. Our mechanic looked it over and we can't justify the cost of fixing it when it will probably last only one more year. Next up is Ameranth's car, which is registered (in MA) but not inspected or insured. We'll have that looked at and hope that it doesn't need anything major- I have power of attorney for her for just this situation. (I have had an uneasy feeling about our car for some time now).

Speaking of Ameranth, after 3 weeks of walking, she is now in Ohio and much relieved to get out of the claustrophobic hills of western Pennsylvania. She didn't realize that was the problem until she was into a more open, rolling hills type landscape. The stroller she is using has been a big improvement over last year. Although pushing it up the side of mountain roads has been challenging, her back, knees and feet thank her every night. In fact, Anna is pooping out first these days- something I never would have expected! She has stayed with and talked to a lot of friendly people, including a passing policeman who gave her some pepper spray on a key chain. I thank the nice people who gave her rides around towns they didn't think she should be walking through, who fed her veggie food and offered her showers  and yards to camp in.

Boomer says 'hey'.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh, Yeaaaahhh

I dug out the old Kool-Aid pitcher and my stash of raspberry flavor envelopes and made some bug juice, as J calls it. It's just replacing a couple of cups of water with orange juice, which gives a nice tang. A good drink for a hot humid day and it comes with memories- always a bonus.

When I researched to find the Kool-Aid tag line, I found this roundup of old ads on You-Tube. Not the best quality but they work. I was surprised to see the Monkees on there, and noticed that there were only 3- what, was Peter Tork too cool for Kool? 

In other news :) I saw the second team of mosquito fighters last night- the bats were flying as I put Boomer to bed. It was just before 9, not quite dark, and I heard the scrabble of tiny claws and 2 bats flew out from under the old shed's metal roof. Every minute or so a few more came out and swooped overhead to look for dinner. I didn't even try to get a picture, just stood there and watched for 15 minutes or so, enjoying the quiet and making sure that none of the scrabbling was coming from our attic!

Our rototiller is out for first aid- we hope to get it back soon so our poor potted veggies get a chance to spread their roots out. J got his weed whacker going and cleaned up some edges while I raked and trimmed rosebushes. And now, since I have cooled off, I should get back out there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dragonfly ho!

The dragonflies are here!

I am amazed that I was able to get a picture of one, and disappointed that my little camera couldn't capture the dozens swooping over our yard. I've read that some dragonflies may migrate while others hatch in bunches- I don't know which group ours belong to, but they show up suddenly. One day nothing, the next a flitting swarm of prehistoric-looking dive bombers are hunting mosquitoes. The sun glints off the wings so the back yard almost sparkles.  

I heart dragonflies.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's been an up and down week

Some of Ms. M's flowers and baby birds in her yard.

Was it only last weekend I was in MA? No, no that's not right, I was there just 3 days ago too. Sectaurs and Minnie rearranged furniture, bought some new, and wanted to swap out a stored loveseat for one of his his big comfy bachelor-days couches.  He offered the couch to us, knowing ours had seen better days (most of them with him reclining on it). J had Wednesday off, so we took his truck down and hauled the couch back- missing the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, thank-you-very-much. (spellcheck insists there is an 'e' in the plural for tornado, but it looks strange) By the way, that tornado was headed right for Mr C but fortunately died when it reached the next town over. Ms M was in D.C. for work and missed the excitement.
Anyway, we have a very nice new-to-us sofa and Boomer has been told he is not allowed up there. The old one is living in J's shed until Salvation Army can pick it up.

So, that was a good day, until J found what we assume was a deer-tick-bite-gone-bad on his leg. The Dr. wasn't sure what caused it, but she said it was infected so he's on antibiotics for 10 days. He had to go back yesterday for a 5 minute followup "yes, it's still there" visit which cost another copay.

The tailgate lift handle broke while I was at Ms. M's- well, the handle didn't break, it just pulled out of the crunchy rust around it. And our registration and inspection is this month, so a decision has to be made soon. Do we fix it or not? We drove it to a neighbor's collision center and he checked it out for us. Verdict is he wouldn't spend the money, considering that the rust we see is the final journey of corrosion that started inside and underneath. Plus the mileage, which was an elderly, but visually pleasing 171717 when I got home.

It could get fixed enough for inspection and hope to get another year out of it, but with our luck something mechanical would go next month. For sure, now that I've said that!   It sure has been nice not having any car payments for the last few years.  We have reluctantly started looking at buying a car.

We bought a Grand Caravan in 1987 when they first came out and had that for 13 years. It was wonderful having plenty of room and a window for each kid,even if nothing was powered then. The Caravan we have now is a 2000 model and boy howdy, have things changed! The new ones don't have keys! The nice saleslady showed us the remote starter, power doors and unlocker buttons and then offered the little black contraption to J so he could start the engine. Baffled, he held it out to me and asked where the key was? All I saw was a little red bump at the end, which she told us to insert in the hole on the dashboard. Son of a gun, it worked! Then the gear shift is on the dashboard as well, up behind and to the side of the steering wheel. We felt like bumpkins- old, out of touch bumpkins. We'll ease into this slowly and will test drive it another day.

Anything else this week? Oh yes, Shoeshine had hoped to bring Ladyslipper to RI to meet the rest of the family in July, but moving to a new apartment has gobbled up his budget. They might make it later, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. But on the up side, here's the latest photo he sent via phone. Ladyslipper was "reading" out loud to herself.