Tuesday, December 20, 2022

That Time of Year Again

I am hitting a milestone birthday this month.  It is a big one.  I am officially entering "the last part of the day", as Bob Dylan terms it.  Each passing year it is apparent that I have much to be thankful for, including good health, and good relationships, and good friends, and good neighbors. There is a steadily rising tide of news regarding people I have known for decades, already gone or soon to be leaving.  I know I am old but I still wonder who is the old woman in the mirror, though I have had more than enough time to acclimate to being an old human being. 

I have noticed many changes in the world at large.  Young people cannot read my cursive writing, and they are not children but adults.  A person's handwriting is as distinctive as their personality, instantly recognizable. I lament an art that was lost in so few years!  

Young people cannot pronounce my given name.  It stumps them.  They erroneously try to pronounce the first syllable with a soft "C".  It was once a very easy name for people to recognize and say correctly. It is remarkable that our language changed so in such a short time.

Often I am surprised by the kindness of young strangers willing to help me carry a large bag of dog food, or load heavy items into my car.  I graciously turn down their offers because if it is something I can still do, it is a small victory against the inevitable decline.  It is always such a pleasant experience when someone offers to help, though.  I am grateful for their kindness and concern.

On Thanksgiving this year, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that the tide has turned irrevocably for me.  I was opening a container of gravy when it somehow slipped out of my hands.  It spilled that precious golden nectar down the cupboard and onto the floor, much to everyone's dismay!  Before I could even think what to do, both of my adult children immediately set to cleaning up the mess. I am no longer the de facto supreme ruler of this family.  I am no longer The Mom. My children quite naturally cooperated, managing the minor crisis, male and female.  I felt it quite deeply, minor as it was.  I do not have to take care of everything all the time now.  My family is in capable hands.

It might be difficult to see through the craziness in the world right now, but the young people coming up are going to be okay.  They grew up in a world different than that of my baby boomer generation.  A million things that are still fresh in my mind they did not experience and have no frame of reference.  Of course the world changes.  It changes every single moment.  I try to stay up on things simply because I do not want to be left too far behind, but with each passing year it matters less.  

The newest and best television and movies display an inclusive world.  Each of the various Tolkien races in The Rings of Power contain human actors of every race. The Walking Dead, an apocalyptic science fiction series that aired for 11 seasons, showcased women warriors every bit as capable, heroic and brave as the men, sometimes even more than the men. In my lifetime, the first woman I saw on the screen that did not fall off her high heels was Princess Leah! Our entertainment has changed to be as  inclusive as real life.  A grand achievement!

Though climate change still engenders an enormous amount of angry deniers, the earth herself is delivering the message to each human personally.  Quite soon there will be no argument left, no possible or plausible denial,  It will be life and death for millions of people. Humans will either change or perish.  It is simple. Other countries are far ahead of the USA, countries where humans make their decisions, not corporations. 

Maybe we will wake up but maybe we will argue with ourselves until it is too late.  After all the wonderful progressive science, education, industry and social advancement America achieved in my life, we have lately fallen into polarized hate, anger and ignorant denial, crazy conspiracy theories, and tragic domestic gun violence.  It is shocking. It is heartbreaking.  I think it is ultimately life as usual.  There is always something on this earth that presents true challenge and requires courage and sacrifice. 

For me personally, it is hardest to admit there are things that I can no longer physically do.  (Well, I can probably do anything at least ONCE more!)  I sometimes dream I am on the highway, riding my Harley effortlessly across all the miles. And when I wake up, I am happy.  I cannot dance, but I can watch young people from all over the world dancing on TikTok - the next best thing!  I can no longer walk up the front steps carrying five gallon water jugs, so I bought three gallon water jugs.  Some day I will not be able to walk those up the steps, either.  I will think of something when I get to that. 

So, it will soon be my birthday and then Christmas, and the New Year and so on and so fourth. As my old confidant, Bob Dylan says: "I feel a change coming on, and the fourth part of the day is already gone."   

In time honored fashion: 

Wishing peace on earth and goodwill toward (some) men - 
from the Crazy Woman, the Supreme Beings, and the wolf dogs of Spiritcreek Farm.

My family (and son's Cane Corso)

Daughter and her Red Heeler

My Hell Hounds

Supreme Being

Wally Lama

Monday, November 14, 2022

All By Moonlight

The best my phone can do with the bright moonlight.

Wally is always visible - even in starlight - but he glows in moonlight.

The little house on the prairie - alight beneath the moon.

 It has been uncommonly warm for October and November so far.  It makes for good time to spend outdoors, especially beneath the waxing moon.  I do not wander far from the house these days, or dare to hike the creek in the dark, or even follow the horse paths through the tall grass, day or night.  But I remember, and the magic retains its potency.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Respect! Or not.

 Mattie, the best and most perfect German Shepherd dog in all of Northeast Kansas and Southeast Nebraska, loves me.  She recognizes my authority in all but one matter (chasing the horses).  If she is sound asleep at my feet and I make the merest move, she is instantly on her feet and ready to follow.  I try hard to not disturb her, because normally I am just going twenty feet or less away, but she gets to her feet every time.

Kenzie, the brattiest German Shepherd in all of the Central United States, parts of Canada and the northernmost edge of Mexico, does not give a rat's ass.  Even if she is in my way, she will not move a muscle.  Indeed, she will not even move her eyes in my direction.  

I wish to pass between the table and the sofa.  Kenzie is not even asleep.

I step closer, hoping she takes the hint that she is directly in my path.

I try another direction.  Notice that there is no movement whatsoever, though she is conscious and alert.

I do not even merit a side-eye.

"I am a German Shepherd, not a mere human."

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

We Need a Deterrent for Assholes

 I want a magic gun that can be aimed at a person's mid-section.  When the trigger is pulled, that person automatically and unavoidably shits his or her pants.  That is the appropriate function of an asshole, isn't it?

I removed the flat front wheel on my lawn tractor and took it to Topeka to be repaired.  Easy as pie.  It was very straight forward:  three washers, a keeper ring and the rubber hub.  

I took it to PROFESSIONAL lawnmower people to repair the flat - because when the PROFESSIONALS "fixed" it at the automotive tire store, it was flat as a flitter the next morning. The auto tire guys fixed it for free because they felt guilty cheating me on the road hazard deduction for the ruined tire they would not fix.    

After waiting two days I called the lawnmower shop to check if the tire was repaired.  I made another trip to town to pick it up.  I was so happy that I would finally mow again!  A long string of unfortunate events had prevented me from mowing for over a month! And, I really love driving my little tractor and keeping the place mowed.

I came home with my newly patched tire and attempted to put it on the tractor straight away.  I did not expect one hiccup.  It is easier than changing bike tires, or car tires, or truck tires, or motorcycle tires - all of which I have changed.  The problem came when I could not see where the keeper ring was supposed to go.

Long story short, the rim they returned was not the one I took to the shop.  The hub through the middle was far too wide, covering up almost the entire axle, even without the 3 washers.  It was too large in diameter to fit into the inner cup.  No matter what I did - whether I put the wheel on with the valve stem side in or out - whether I double-checked that the jack was not in the way - whether I tried to force it or not, the wheel did not fit on that axle.  

 A smarter person would have figured out the problem far sooner than I did.  After an embarrassing amount of time and sweat and enormous cussing, it finally dawned on me that it was the wrong rim.  If I get any slower, I will be a human slug.

I knew it was going to be irritating to deal with the people in the shop.  And it was.  First, a woman helped me.  She raised her eyebrows when I explained it was not the rim I brought in.  She went in the back and "warned" the guy who repaired it. I would have liked to have shot her with the magic Intestinal Evacuation Gun, but I knew there were going to be bigger guts to shoot before it was all over.  Besides, no need to escalate right off.  

I explained to the professional guy that it could not possibly be the rim I brought in, so he returned to the back to look around.  He came back and shrugged his shoulders.  Nothing back there.  He did not know what he could do for me.

I did NOT want to end up on TikTok "cussing and snortin' " as my mother would describe adults having tantrums in public. But my face was getting red.

I said, "Respectfully!  This is NOT the rim that came off my tractor!"  I am sure I was giving him the evil eye.  He towered over me but I think I could take him.  He certainly deserved the first shot to the gut.  If only.....

Another guy quickly appeared, and asked for the photos he had requested over the phone.  I handed him my phone but there was nothing that truly helped identify anything about the rim. Though I was able to determine for myself that it was probably the same tire.  He then started asking the man questions:  

"Sooooo, are these the photos of the other tire still on the tractor?"

[JESUS CHRIST!!!  NO!!!  I took all these photos of the wheel you are looking at on the counter right now!!!  Sarcasm.  I did not say it but I was thinking it.]

He gets the second shot, point blank, right in the ol' guts!

"And did you try putting it on from both sides of the rim?"

Since I did not have the magic gun, I said, "Listen, I rode my own Harley, and I could wrench on it.  I am not a fucking idiot!"

I was getting close to potentially being a Karen on TikTok, so I calmed down.  But, Jesus Christ!!!  I would have shot him with the Gut Gun about ten times right then.

He changed his tone a little bit.  

All that, and as I was driving home, I started to doubt myself.  Did I miss something?  Was that honestly my rim and I just missed something?  But there is nothing to miss.  Solid steel does not shapeshift in normal reality.  The axle is a simple thing.  I should have shot myself in the gut with the fantasy gun for letting men cause me to doubt myself.  

So... no mowing.  No tire.  No rim.  I already looked up replacements on the Sears Parts website and it is going to cost a small fortune to replace the hub, wheel and tube. Easily over $100, not including shipping and taxes. And, it is all on back order.  I already paid $37 for the mower shop to repair the tire and lose the rim.  

I should go ahead and order the parts because I have a feeling I will have them long before these assholes find the right rim. At least the one guy apologized but he was not sincere.  He needed one more blast from the Gut Evacuation Gun as I left the shop, for good measure.   

Addendum:  The shop where the wheel mix-up took place asked me to leave the tire/wheel with them when I took it back for not being the wheel that came off my tractor. I made them put a tag on it with my name.  I said I have no collateral if I leave it here. (Yes, I have been ripped off a time or two by men in shops - Harley shops, lawn mower shops, car garages.)

After numerous texts and photos and one discussion to "trouble-shoot" because I could not possibly know whether a tire fit my tractor or not, I went back to get the wheel.  The official judgement was there was a burr preventing the wheel from going on, though I said in text and in person that I had felt for a burr, or burrs, and there were none.  It was as if he did not hear me say that.

I took the washers that came off my tractor and made a little measuring stick so I would know for sure that it was going to go back on my tractor before I brought it home. The second wheel that was returned to me was darker gray, smaller, had far more grease and dirt on it than the first one they sent with me.  The washers fit and the stick measured appropriately, so I brought it home.  It fit perfectly back on to my tractor the way I expected it to - easy as pie.  I had the whole thing, greased, placed, keeper ring on and the new plastic hub on in less that 5 minutes. No burrs.  No forcing the wheel. No cussing or sweat in my eyes because it went on as easily as it came off.

I do not choose to believe that the guy I dealt with was lying.  He seemed very sincere.  But someone in that shop found my tire and returned it without saying anything.  No apologies for the mix up because there was none in that guy's mind.  This is what women deal with all the time!  

Though I am handicapped by being born with ovaries and by not being the smartest person on the planet, do you think, by looking at these photos, I should be able to readily tell if the wheel fit or not? 

Monday, August 15, 2022

The Vera Road Wolves - Field Observations

Field studies of the domesticated Vera Road wolf pack, currently consisting of two females.  Wolf #1 is approximately 64 months of age, and wolf #2 is a juvenile, approximately 17 months.  

These are the headless carcasses of the Stuffus Wieneratta, the preferred prey of the semi-domesticated black wolf.  Wolf #1 tends to leave the carcasses in an orderly arrangement, while # 2 never displays such preference.
The wolves methodically decapitate the passive stuffed wieners, and with apparent great relish tear out the squeaker.  The carcasses are carried about in the den until all entrails have been expelled and a mere empty hide remains.   
Wolf #1 is shown inspecting the Gigantic Stuffus Wieneratta, not her preferred prey.  After the population of small stuffed wieners is depleted, the giant wieners are then hunted by necessity.  
The giant stuffed wieners arranged side by side, with the much smaller stuffed wiener carcass shown for scale.  This evidence indicates the observed preference for the pink or red wieners by both wolves. Note the mangled ear of the red giant wiener but the blue giant wiener is fully intact after the same amount of time in the wolf den (8 months).  

The demise of the red Gigantic Stuffus Wieneratta observed in the field 5:30 am, August 15, 2022. While the head remains intact, the brains have been removed and spread about the den by wolf #2.  Even for a dispassionate observer, the brave grin of the blue giant stuffed wiener is hard to bear.

The Vera Road Wolves

Wolf #2 on the left, wolf #1 on the right. Sleeping mattresses are not shared but no violence has ever been observed over food or possession of either the stuffed wieners or the gigantic stuffed wieners.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Fourteen Years

Is it pathetic that I have been writing this blog for fourteen years?  Well, to be clear, it was only thirteen years until today.  I had not posted anything in the year 2022.  It seems that writing a blog on a software that can change at any moment is a fool's endeavor.  There is no way that I know of to easily save it to my own computer.  Fourteen years of effort could all disappear like smoke.

At first I wrote to practice writing.  It was difficult sharing anything I had written with others.  Luckily for me, one person loved everything I wrote and was deeply supportive.  Writing for an audience of even one person was a huge boost!  After all, every writer hopes to find her audience.  

Alas, my good friend and most ardent fan died many years ago.  Sometimes when I write, I imagine that he is still reading, though not reading from the afterlife.  It is utterly depressing to think that any afterlife would involve reading about an old woman's mundane life in Kansas. That might be a punishment in Lesser Hell.  (Lesser Hell is for people who were an asshole only sometimes in life).

Then, I thought that maybe my kids would enjoy reading my blog after I am in Lesser Hell.  They will be fine after I am gone, but everyone misses their mom at times.  It might feel like a bit of home to "hear" my voice again. 

I have two books that belonged to my father.  He signed his name in them.  Whenever I hold them in my hands, I know he also held those books.  Decades after he died, I was given letters that my father had written as a 17 year old in the US Navy during WWII. He was gone so early in my life that I never had a chance to know him as a person, only as my parent.  He was gone so early in his own life that those few letters are the extent of his personal, permanent record.  I am leaving behind years of my personal record, for good or ill.  My kids certainly understand why I will be in Lesser Hell, so leaving any record behind seems to be a bit of a moot point.

The blog has had its good uses.  I have been able to get the general date of a past event.  It would be better if I had the type of mind that would automatically recall at least the year when something happened but I do not.  Sorting through 14 years of benign blog posts can be frustrating, but also a reminder of things I am already forgetting. It also serves to remind that I have led a very boring life.  I could be the best writer on the planet but if I am writing about an excruciatingly boring life, well... what is the expectation?  (Perhaps another reason a human being would go to Lesser Hell.)

Much has happened recently but I do not feel like writing about any of it right now. Too boring, even for me!  But out in the world:  wow!  A world wide pandemic but an effective  immunization developed within months.  Political polarization across the world.  War.  Extreme weather.  The US government publicly admitted UFOs exist and perhaps we should determine what they are?  The first color photographs from the James Webb Telescope are set to be released this month.  A universe full of exciting and amazing things occurring.  

Also in 2022, a grown man pointed out "chemtrails" then told me with a straight face that they only appear just before a rain. A veterinarian told me that ivermectin would clear covid.  Two highly educated men, awash in conspiracy theories.  Today I read a headline stating 130 million Americans struggle with low literacy.  No shit.

For good or ill, here is my first post for the year two thousand twenty two.  Upon reflection, maybe it is a mighty blessing to live a boring life, and a rare thing to document it.

A Valentine gift in 2022, within a half mile of my house!


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

And Yet Another Christmas...

 Another Christmas arrives.  All the gifts have been wrapped.  Sometimes it is difficult to think of something I am excited to give my kids as gifts.  They are grown, living their own lives with established households, but I still wish to find something that surprises them or makes them happy.  Some years it has been an envelope of money with a couple of small gifts to unwrap - college years, post-divorce years, broke years (for them or me).  Sometimes all of us are broke - together!  

There have been years when none of us felt much like celebrating Christmas, but we always manage to do something together.  December is a busy month for us - two birthdays, Christmas and New Year's Eve.  When the kids were growing up, December would usher in about a six month cash deficit.  It was always worth it.

As for the supreme beings, there are two red Christmas pears. They get apples, pears and carrots at other times of the year, but I like to make sure they have a little something for Christmas morning.  The two wolf sisters are getting new stuffed wiener dog toys.  Both dogs seem to greatly enjoy carrying the toys in their mouth, chewing (mauling) to make them squeak.  The squeaker is eventually torn out of the wiener dog, along with all of the stuffing.  Then the empty pelt, with head attached, is carried about until eventually the entire toy has been ripped into tiny pieces.  This is the third set of stuffed wiener dogs in 2021.  

This year has been both long and very short.  I had surgery on both knees in March.  I had no idea what difficulty and suffering that surgery would bring.  I am genuinely glad that is all in the rapidly receding past.  I am able to do everything I could do before the surgery, most of it without terrible pain, so I consider it a success.  It was genuinely terrible there for awhile.  I hope these bionic knees outlive me because I certainly will not be able to go through that again.   

I have continued to wear a mask though I have had all three vaccinations for covid.  My son, my sister in law, and my 98 year old stepfather have had covid.  My son was not old enough for the vaccine yet when he contracted covid last year.  Now he has had covid and two shots, so I hope that protects him through the winter and beyond.  My daughter is careful to wear a mask, though both my son and my daughter are increasingly put at risk in their places of work by people not wearing masks, and countless others who are not vaccinated.  That the issue of vaccination and masks has become politicized in this country defies basic common sense.  To what end are so many folks being radicalized against their own best interests?  It is tragic. 

There has been a thousand awful things in the world this year.  Sometimes it is hard to keep my balance.  I have to remind myself of the million good things in my own life.  I continue to be healthy and strong enough to live in the country.  I am capable of tending to the horses though the older I am, the more creative I have to be when moving sacks of feed, or mineral blocks, or hay bales.  I have two beautiful black German Shepherd companions that drive me crazy only some of the time.  

I have never lived with two dogs inside the house before.  They are very smart dogs and very honest dogs.  They understand not to get in the trash or destroy the sofa.  Most of the time I do not even have to say a word, just a gesture.  I do not know if it is peculiar to Shepherds or if all dogs behave the same, but at every event throughout the day involving a doorway, these two silently glide around me.  I am never 100% certain which dog is here or there as their movements are fluid and graceful and constant - weaving beside and behind me.  They remind me of dolphins slipping through water with zero resistance and neutral gravity - graceful, circling and constant.  Since they have to be wherever I am, this behavior occurs whenever I leave one room for another, or leave the house, or come into the house.  They must have a common ancestor with dolphins somewhere far back in time. 

Before the year is out, I must thank once again the people who helped me through those long weeks of recovery after the surgery, when I was all but bed-ridden.  My neighbor, Kathyrne, who took care of the horses for week after long week.  She came to sit with me every single day for a time, keeping me from going stir crazy or feeling too sorry for myself.   

I am grateful to the people who looked after my dogs.  Mattie was able to come home after about a month but poor baby Kenzie had to stay at boarding school for months.  

I am grateful to Gary Bacon, who drove from Emporia to Topeka to my house to deliver a prescription for pain medication when I made a mistake in planning ahead!  

I am grateful to my kids who came to see me in the hospital.  My daughter was commuting 200 miles a day to work at the time and my son had to come from KCMO.  My daughter stayed with me for several nights after I came home while still managing her full time job.  

My next door neighbors came the minute I called for something I could not do myself outside.  

I am grateful to all of those incredibly dedicated medical personnel, from the nurses to the housekeepers and the physical therapists.  They work long hours and put up with all manner of behavior.  It is also a very physically demanding job, helping other human beings in and out of bed, in and out of wheelchairs, in and out of the bathrooms.  I could not do such work.

I am grateful to every friend who called or visited or kept me in their prayers.  I had been in the hospital with the birth of my kids but I was not ill or helpless then.  The knee surgery was the first time I had been "hospitalized".  It was about as much fun as you would imagine if someone chopped out both of your knees and replaced them with metal and plastic, then left you half naked and helpless in the care of strangers.  When they made me get out of bed or sit in chairs, ALL sized for much taller human beings than me, my feet would dangle in the air.  It was so excruciatingly painful that I would have given ALL the nuclear launch codes to the Russians, had they asked.  I had no idea of the capacity for physical suffering a human body contains.  I understand that there are people who endure such pain and suffering for long stretches, and many with no hope of recovery.  It was profoundly humbling. I am very grateful that there were no complications with the surgery and I can walk now without pain.  I am grateful to a very talented surgeon.

So, another year passes in the peace and quiet of my humble little home here in the bend of the little prairie creek.  My children are healthy and self-supporting, smart and funny.  My companion animals are fine.  I am fine.  I had a wonderful Christmas with the two most favorite human beings of my entire life.  I am greatly blessed. 

Wishing peace on earth and goodwill toward (some) men - 
from the Crazy Woman, the Supreme Beings, and the wolf dogs of Spiritcreek Farm.

The best photo of them side by side.  Too bad it's through a dog-smeared storm window!

How wonderful life is when you're with your best friend and all the world is green.