Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Since When

Somebody finally had the guts to say it.

With the closing of our office coming up, the only topic of water cooler conversation at work these days is, What are you going to do? The answers run the gamut: transfer to another state, start a franchise, send out resumes, go back to school. Some of us still haven't got a clue. But finally somebody said what so many of us are thinking: "What I really want to do is to stay home and just do nothing."

We all laughed, of course. And then we started to tick off the things we'd do if we didn't have to have jobs. We'd be with our kids or grand kids so they didn't have to go to daycare. We'd volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, join the Red Cross, head the fundraising committee at school. We would keep the house clean and neat, shop for bargains, and cook homemade food every day. The laundry would actually get folded and put away. We'd garden, and some of us would even can vegetables. The artists among us would paint, sew, sculpt, write, design, play music.

In other words, we would do what our mothers and grandmothers did as a full-time job, back before "housewife" became a dirty word.

It was a long, hard-fought struggle for women to be able to have careers outside the home. When I was a girl, women were officially excluded from all but a few traditional fields, and from many top colleges. And to put it succinctly, that just sucked. Nobody wants to go back to that.

But why did all those warm, womanly, traditional, home-centered things have to become "doing nothing"?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nature Notes: Fairy Forest

Golden Moss

Elvish Lanterns

Fairy Forest

Michelle at Rambling Woods has challenged us to take a look around at the natural world every week and tell about it in a post on Thursdays. We're to look for things we might otherwise not have noticed; to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

I saw my inspiration for the week as I was coming home from work Wednesday, driving up the driveway. It was very late afternoon, and the slanting rays of the sun filtered through the bare trees and lit up a fallen log covered in moss. It was like an island of life, glowing from within, floating in the drifts of dead leaves.

Unfortunately, it was on the other side of a low area that is still under water. My crappy telephoto feature just wasn't up to the task.

So it was that Thursday evening found me shin-deep in the swamp in my husband's waders. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I quickly discovered that putting one's feet into the muck was much easier than pulling them back out. I kept having visions of myself being extricated from the swamp by my hubby and his tractor. Fortunately, it didn't quite come to that.

There wasn't anywhere to perch the camera or a tripod, so the photos don't really do them justice, but I hope you can get a sense of how intricate and lovely the mosses are. The moss is in its reproductive phase, sporting tiny forests of golden strands above the emerald green. There are other patches with red strands, as in the last picture. It may be the same moss at a different phase, I'm not sure.

At any rate, this has given me a whole new area to research and explore. Apparently, there are such things as moss gardens, and you can actually buy ground up moss to seed areas with. (Check out MossAcres.com.)

I'll be looking into all this when time allows. Again, Michelle, thanks for the great meme! It's a darn good 'un.

*Stop by at Michelle's place, Rambling Woods, for more nature stories and photos, OK? Nature Notes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ladies in Red

Did you know that ladybugs are lucky? Here's what I've heard: If a ladybug crawls over a girl's ring finger, she is soon to marry. When a ladybug lands on you, it brings an angel's kiss. Every spot is a coin coming your way or, some say, a wish that is coming true. And if you wish on a ladybug and let it fly away, the wish will be granted from the direction in which she flies.

If all that is true, I should have enough luck to last a lifetime.

We've had stray ladybugs flitting through the house all winter. I rather enjoyed it. It reminded me of summer. But now that the weather is warmer, things are entirely out of hand.

They seem to have been hibernating somewhere in the den, and every day brings a fresh crop of 40 or so. They congregate in and above the windows; they seem to be attracted to light and to naturally seek the "up" direction.

Now, a single ladybug is cute. But swarms of them on your walls and curtains? Not so much.

They're great for gardens, though, so the Raid solution was out of the question. Instead, I've been scooping them off with a rolled-up-paper funnel tucked into the neck of an empty soda bottle. Works like a charm.

So there I am a couple of times a day, up on a step ladder with my homemade bug trap, doing my best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice: "Come vis me if you vant to live."

When I've rescued all the critters I can find, I take the bottle outside and wedge it into a corner of the deck. There, the ladies can hike up to the rim and fly away home.

With a little luck, they'll stick around.

Oh Deer.

Spring Deer

This is the view from our upstairs windows pretty much every evening along about dusk.
And it's gardening season.

Hmm. Gee.

Do you think I have any hope against this hungry horde?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Makeover: Fail

see more pwn and owned pictures

No, this isn't me. It's just an example of how terribly wrong things can go after a certain age. I'll be taking this with me to the makeup counter as an antidote to pushy salespeople.

I'm going to pick up my new glasses today. They're not the thick black plastic kind the kids are wearing, but they are small, wide rectangles in a dark, heavy wire. It seemed like a good compromise. How they're going to get bifocals into a lens that small is a mystery.

I'm still putting off the clothes and shoes thing. I despise shopping because it's so depressing. We have loads of stores filled with beautiful things, but not one item in any of them ever fits me. "Petites" don't come large enough, and large sizes don't come "petite" enough.

"Petite." Boy, there's a label straight out of a marketing department. Ditto "Womens". They mean short and fat, respectively.

When I do find things, I hold on to them for years. Many, many years. Unfortunately, all my business stuff has those football-player shoulder pads. I'm thinking it may be time to let go of the eighties. Even I know they ain't never coming back.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hellllooo, Spring


Today is the vernal equinox, A.K.A the first day of spring. So I ask ya, why is there no holiday for this?

We've all been looking forward to this for months. Shouldn't we be painting ourselves pink, wearing floppy yellow hats and blue boas, handing out flowers ... something?

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nature Notes Challenge

Michelle at Rambling Woods has a nice new meme to share called NatureNotes. She says: "I am going to challenge myself and hopefully you to take a look at nature. What’s going on in your area? Is it spring in your part of the world or are you heading into cold weather. Take a little walk, look at something you might never had paid attention to..a flower…a plant..an animal…What changes are taking place?..Is your garden starting to come to life again?..Step outside and close your eyes. What do you hear? ….

I’d really like to know how my blogger friends observe about nature. Post a photo..a poem..artwork or a few words about what you see, how you felt and maybe something you hadn’t paid any attention to before… "

Funny you should ask, Michelle, as I've been outside poking around quite a bit these past few days, and I just came back in from a tour of the pond. Something with a huge wingspan has been patrolling the back yard all day, and I saw a lone tom turkey go by at the edge of the woods, so I set off with my binoculars and camera. I caught the turkey - enlarge the photo to see it - but the other one got away.

I wish you could hear the frogs. I ventured into the swampy areas of the back woods looking for them, but couldn't see any to photograph. Nevertheless, I reveled in the sound of their singing. We called these "spring peepers" in West Virginia, and hearing them again swept me back to the soft, green, mountain springs of my childhood.

Somewhere behind the frog ponds, I could hear something that sounded like a tractor engine idling. I was concerned, wondering who might be back there and what they might be up to. So I went a bit deeper, using the binoculars to search the woods as I went.

Gradually, I realized I was not hearing an engine at all, but frogs of a different voice. The thrumming sound came from all around. There must have been hundreds of them, and yet I couldn't see a single one. It was as if the whole wood were one beating heart.

As for the garden, there are some legacy plants poking up in the meager flower patch out front. Daffodils and iris, for sure, and others I can't yet identify as friend or foe.

The big twiggy bush in the front yard has turned out to be a pussy willow, which I did not expect.

There are still lots of spent field weeds and wildflowers at the edges of the yard, including this milkweed stalk with one lone seed that has failed to launch:

Home Alone

And that's about it for today. I haven't given up on that hawk/buzzard/eagle, though, and if I get a shot at it I'll post it later.

Thanks for the meme, Michelle! This is going to be fun.
*Join the group at Rambling Woods.


Kim of the blog Wishnik Woods and Nanna Grace of Nanna Grace's Place honored me with awards recently, and I have been woefully slow to pass them along.

Kim's is an award for bloggers who reach out to other bloggers in friendship and support. Nana's is a Sisterhood award for blogs with an attitude of gratitude. It touches me, both of you, that you would think of me for these, and I thank you sincerely for your kindness.

As with all awards, we're supposed to nominate others; I'm supposed to choose eight for one and ten for the other. However, I know some people don't like these, and others have already received these from somebody else. So I'm just going to link to a few wonderful people for these awards, without passing along any obligation to display them or to pass them along. Their choice.

These folks are amazing. They come by regularly and take the time to really listen, and to post thoughtful, supportive replies. Their own blogs are lively, fun and beautiful. Please do click through and check them out, OK? You'll be glad you did.

* Sally of Sallyacious.

* Michelle of Rambling Woods.

* Lor at Purple Snapdragons.

* Sylvia of Sylvia From Over the Hill.

* Deb of Nourish the Soul.

* City Mouse of Small Pines.

* JC of Castleruins.

* MY {S.T.U.F.F}:: of {S.t.u.f.f.}.

To all of you, thank you so much for your friendship.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Last Gift of Winter

Ice Flower 2

At one point last week, the swamp took the driveway. As in, we had to put metal guide posts in or we wouldn't have been able to see where it was under the water. Discouraging, to say the least.

Then a neighbor knocked on the door, introduced himself, and told us the whole area had flooded because a snapping turtle had gotten wedged in the drainage pipe. The neighbor had taken a backhoe to the situation and removed the turtle, and we could expect the driveway to drain in a day or so. Which, thankfully, it did.

And look what happened then.

Twice the Ice

A thin skim of ice remained around trees and tufts of weeds when the water was high. The water fell during the day, and a second layer of thin ice formed that night. Again the water fell out from under it. In some places, there were three layers hovering in the air above the water, as if suspended by magic.

As the sun lit them up, one layer would collapse on another with a sound like chiming crystal.

It's been a long, rough winter. But it made a graceful exit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Has Sprung: Guy Watching

Guy Watching

Finally! The grass is greening, the ice is nearly gone, and the birds are back. MAN are they back. The whole place is filled with them, singing and hunting, competing for mates and turf. I'm loving it.

On the way to the optometrist this morning, we spied these turkeys strutting their stuff in a farm field. The hubby was driving, I had my camera in my lap, and nobody else was on the road, so we slammed on the brakes and backed up. (Hubby is an exceptionally good sport.)

I had to slog through a ditch in good shoes, and the turkeys were too far away, but it was totally worth the effort. I had never seen wild turkeys with their tails fanned out, and with the misty field and the morning sun shining through their feathers they were something to behold.

It's amazing that so much wildlife lives here, only twenty minutes from town. I never would have guessed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where's A Fairy Godmother When You Need One?

Today the effort begins to tart myself up for the job market. The objective is to look as young as possible without looking like an old lady trying to look young. It's a delicate balance.

Today I'm off to the dentist for a cleaning I've been putting off. And if he can do whitening trays, now would be the time. It's a lousy waste of a precious day off, but dental insurance will vanish when my job does.

Next stop will be my hair salon, to see if we can trim a few years off along with the locks. I've gone to the same woman for years and years; she's the only one I've found who can do anything good with my hair. It's fine and thin, and after years of experimenting we've found a smooth, stacked, chin-length cut that makes it look magically fuller, just the thing for job hunting. She charges $45 for it, which is steep for me right now, so I haven't been there in four months.

She seemed very excited when I called, so I'm guessing I'm not the only one skimping on cuts these days. (When times were better, I got a trim every five weeks. Ah, for the good old days.)

I have been lucky with the color. Most people my age have a lot of gray, but I've escaped with only a strand or two here and there. Still, what's left is a mousy, light brown, so maybe a subtle color rinse wouldn't hurt.

Saturday, I'm getting new glasses. My old ones aren't bad; they're bifocals, but they're no-line and rimless so it doesn't really show. Vision coverage will also be going away, so better now than never. I'll have to get one of those odd little rectangular frames the 20-year-olds wear ... or is that in the trying-too-hard category?

Clothes and shoes will be for next week, and I dread that most of all. They don't make decent clothes for short, fat ladies, and I'm getting shorter and fatter all the time. And with my foot issues, heels are out of the question. I suppose I should do something about makeup and nails, too, though I don't know what.

Well, one thing at a time. As Scarlet would say, "I'll worry about that tomorrow."

If you have any comments or suggestions for this project, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Wishing Tree

The Wishing Tree

Between one thing and another I've spent the last few weeks in a depression of the capital D variety, the kind they make drug commercials about. You know the ones: "Take our pills and you'll either feel happy again or die of a side effect. (We know you don't care which. Because hey. You're nuts.)" Those commercials.

I can usually shake myself out of these episodes before it gets so bad, but this one was a big black beast. Just getting out of bed, putting one foot in front of the other, and not crying in public took everything I had. And sometimes I couldn't even manage that much.

As always, though, it passed eventually. I think the sun coming back had a whole lot to do with it. My internal weather seems to mirror that of the day outside. I don't know if that's common or not.

At any rate, the endless, colorless, grey-grim winter was about to do me in, and a sunny day was just the medicine I needed. Revived and filled with the new light, I pulled on my hiking boots and squished my way down to the pond to see what might be stirring there.

At the edge of the water, I came eye to eye with a bright stand of red wild rose hips, freed of their icy coats. Birds sang here and there in the trees. It's a miracle that any of them survive an Indiana winter, but there they were nonetheless. From below the ice palm-sized tadpoles, almost frogs already, wriggled cautiously to the surface, touched the air, and darted back into the darkness.

I had seen the broken tree across the water many times, of course. But I really saw it for the first time that day. It was bowed down and broken in the prime of its life, but still it did not fail. In the way of all trees, it found a way back to the sun, back to life. And there it stands today, straight and tall.

So. Things change. Storms break us. But there's always a way back to the light.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hawk Update

Lucky day! I was able to get a better shot of the hawk that inhabits our lower woods. It seems to be a Coopers hawk, and a rather large one at that.

I have mixed feelings about hawks. They are powerful and beautiful creatures, but I hate the losses they cause among the songbirds.

There is a red tailed hawk that lives in the back woods, too, and between the two of them they are picking off quite a few smaller birds. It is common to find a circle of dove feathers in the fields, and yesterday I found most of a blue jay wing in the back yard.

Still. It is a thrill to see these big guys fly, kings of their domain.