Friday, February 17, 2012

Whoooo's There? Or "Where Did That Kitten Go?"

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This is from last summer.   We first noticed owls in our neighbor's big trees about 10 years ago....or so.  Annie, B-Girl, and J heard a lot of chattering and screeching in the tree and found a hawk scolding a big owl.  The hawk finally left and the owl stayed.  We had a little kitten at the time and it was running around with innocent abandon in the yard when Annie looked up and saw the owl watching the kitten's antics with great interest, and even sort of flapping it wings a bit and looking like it might just swoop down and get the kitten.  Of course they bundled the kitten inside and deprived a hungry bird of it's dinner.  As we talked about it later, we recalled the girl down the street, and how she had a new kitten every week it seemed, and they all disappeared . A friend of Annie's that lives on our block had the same experience with disappearing kittens. 

I have a friend at work who is quite a birder, and he agreed that it was very possible that an owl could take a kitten, and then weirdly enough, I was relating this to another guy on our block - on the other diagonal corner, and he said that he has seen it happen.  An owl swooped down and took a half-grown kitten.

The plot continues to thicken.  Our neighbor, right to the east of us, left a little dog out doors list spring for 30 minutes or so and it vanished as if plucked off the face of the earth.  Never to been seen again in spite of extensive door-to-door canvassing of the neighborhood, and many, many lost dog posters put up all over the city.

You are right, it might not have been an owl.  But it does make you think.

In addition to owls we also have hawks, doves, and in the spring and fall about 7-10 vultures that live in these trees. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Celebrate VD?

Valentine's Day that is.  Why indeed?  Actually, Valentine's Day has a long history - not your johnny-come-lately holiday.  Although it seems like Hallmark, the candy companies, and FTD Florists are big boosters, it is a much older holiday.

But this isn't really about history.  Yesterday, at work, we were discussing a measles mini-epidemic that we had here in Sweet Haven about a year ago.  To get in the gate you had to prove you had received your measles booster shots in the last 10 years... or you had to be so old that it was assumed that you had already had measles, which was my case.  And, no, there is no analogy to being love sick here.  But vaccinations did come up in the conversation, and how a lot of infectious diseases were showing a resurgence, including tuberculosis.  And what that brought to mind was Walt and Velma.

If you don't remember, go to the link.  It's a great story, and it was so surprising to me.  That got me to thinking about Waldo and Lydia .  What a story! Disaster on every hand, separation, war, armies, sickness, and in the end they lived out their lives together in a remote, isolated little town in the San Luis Valley in Colorado.

I guess that all couples have a story.  Some stories are cut short in this life by sickness or accident.  Some stories stop because the love between the couple dies and they separate.  Some stories are longer and end in this life when one or both die.  Most guys don't have any idea at all why most girls place such a emphasis on celebrating Valentine's Day.  I think maybe I'm getting a clue.  I think that for me it will be about the celebration of these stories.

In addition to Walt and Velma and Waldo and Lydia, stories could be written about the Carpenter and the Nurse, how they grew up in the Great Depression, met and married.  A great story. I call him a carpenter, but there was a repressed farmer in him that came out in later years to provide many chapters about roundups, horse training, and teaching his grandchildren the joys of hauling in hay on a hot summer day.

Or the story about the Teacher and the Pilot, and their humble starts on farms, again during the Great Depression.  There is a great chapter in the story about the summer they spent following the harvest on a combine crew.  How tender and dependent they became in later life as his health deteriorated.

Many, many stories.  Annie and I have been in love for almost 40 years.  We are lucky that our lives have been able to be intertwined for so long, and that we have shared so many blessings.  She is up navigating the Asphalt Jungle today and tomorrow will be tending grandchildren, and then coming home late.  So we will postpone the formal celebration of VD, probably making a trip up north in a few weeks and eating at P.F. Chang's, or where ever she wants to eat.  It is a little nod to a traditional celebration, but truth be told, we celebrate our story every day.  Happy Day Dear Annie!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Creatures of Habit

I have become a creature of habit.  The older I get, the more I enjoy my routines, and the more I need my routines.  This was not always so.  In younger days I don't think I had so many habits, or at least I didn't see their value.

Today is Monday, and Sunday night I got out a clean shirt, socks and pair of pants and put all of my needed paraphernalia into the pockets, checked that my cell phone was charged, and that I had all of my knives and flashlight.  I put them all into a neat pile in the living room so that I would leave the bedroom to dress as this is the schedule.  It didn't matter that Annie was going to go the Asphalt Jungle to be a beta tester for free motion sewing equipment, and that she would be leaving about the same time..... I put my clothes there every day, and in the morning, when only two or three neurons are firing, and I weigh 856 lbs, and everything hurts, well, I don't have to think too hard.

Breakfast has come to be two hard boiled eggs, maybe with a dab of mayo-mustard sauce, and 8 oz of milk with a little whey powder in it.  Usually.  It is quick, neat, and keeps me going most of the morning.  Lunch is a sandwich and soup.  Almost always.  Not too much thinking has to go into this.  The sandwich is almost always ham, occasionally chicken, the soup almost always chicken, but some times vegetable.  I make soup when we have chicken and store it in the fridge in quart jars.  I add one packet of Knox unflavored gelatin and it sets up like jello and keeps for two weeks.  Cheap, tastes good every day and I know about how many calories I'm eating.

This winter, after years of being half-mad at the frost on the windows of the car, I came up with a new habit, a new routine.  It's so simple, and I'm so dumb for not doing it years before.  Just put on boots earlier than usual, and start the car 10 minutes before you want to go.  Then your breath doesn't freeze on the inside of the glass and your patience isn't tried as you don't swear at the slightly off sized replacement heater core that you put in 5 years earlier, and that messed up the airflow to the defrosters.  So simple.  Maybe it's just that most of my neurons are not working so well, and when a few do get together and cooperate, I have to declare victory and enshrine the answer to the vexing problem as a new habit.

While I was contemplating these protective routines, and others that I have that I won't bore you with, I came across this article on "Habits That Crush Us" (I'm thankful for spell check as well.  It is my habit to spell habit as habbit.  Wrong every time.) and how you can change them and change your life a little at a time.

We have all had enough experience with New Years Resolutions as to know that a habit can be pretty hard to change, and sometimes it is hard to tell a habit.  Sometimes our behavior has moved from a habit and could be classified as a compulsion or an addiction.  This was a pretty good article in that it talks about unhealthy habits that we form that are coping mechanisms for stress and boredom.  And how to substitute a healthy, positive habit for an unhealthy habit.  Sometimes we can't get rid of the things that cause stress in our lives, and boredom sneaks up on all of us, but if we recognize the trigger that activates the unhealthy activity, can we substitute a positive activity.  I hadn't really thought of stress and boredom being triggers, but it's pretty easy to waste a lot of time on the Internet, or playing a game when there are other, better things to do.

That's about it.  Just a few thoughts for a foggy winter day.  Hope you have a good day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Looking for a Job?

This was a really interesting article about job interviews.  I'm at a stage in my career where I'm not likely to be enduring many more interviews, but I do end up selecting contractors from time to time, and I guess the process is somewhat the same.

This guy is pretty blunt, or maybe painfully honest.  I've read a lot of 'what-to-say', or 'how-to-make-a-resume' articles and have not been impressed with most of them.  Charlie Balmer makes a lot of sense.  He is busy, wants to cut-to-the-chase, doesn't want a lot of rambling emails in the future.....wants someone who will be happy, productive, and successful in the new job.

This is probably not an article for everyone, or at least everyone all the time.  We all have times when our lives are in transition and we have to make changes.  It is always best to be on the same page with an employer, an employee, or even a child, or parent or spouse. While I hope that our more familiar communications won't be as terse as a job interview, clear communications are pretty important in relationships.  If we can communicate our desires, hopes and dreams (with an appropriate plan) clearly to each other, while at the same time trying to find a way to remedy our shortcomings, we might avoid frustration, misunderstandings and hurt feelings.