Sunday, December 28, 2014

Post-Christmas Ponderings

When I collected up the clothes on my younger son's floor to wash and then fold them, what force in the Universe allowed for exactly five socks to emerge from the dryer, none of which matches another?
How is it that someone can not see the conflict in these two stickers on his car?
What are these piles in the mulched bed in the back yard?  Most under the birdfeeder, but also some under the oak trees. My best guess is raccoon poop, but why would they been scarfing down something clearly undigestible. If not that, what? The yard is fenced in, so it has to be something that can get in- so that should rule out, say, the coyotes and foxes I'm told are sometimes spotted in the neighborhood. I've sent this photo off to the naturalist I took the bird-friendly backyard class with and I'm hoping he'll have an answer.

***UPDATE:  The naturalist said he thinks it's raccoon scat - they are plentiful in this area and eat lots of berries in the winter.***
Why does my neighborhood library have this book drop sign with no book drop in sight? I walked the mile to the library Friday only to discover they were closed and I had to carry the books back home again. Turns out, I discovered later, the book drop in on the wall around the corner from this sign, on the back of the library.
And what sort of person thinks a bunch of horseshoe crab shells is a reasonable decoration in their home? Oh, right. That would be me.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bring back the light!

I have been hoping that eventually, I'd get invited to a party at the home of one of my new neighbors. I was pretty stoked to find an invitation in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, for a holiday gathering a few houses down the street this past Friday. And it was what I was wishing it would be - a warm group of folks and lots of food and wine and laughter until almost midnight. And best of all, I only had to walk half a block to get back home afterwards!
The next day, my older son arrived home, bearing a gift which he admitted was largely his girlfriend's doing. Pickles from their garden, a jar of home-made hot sauce and fresh-baked sugar cookies and challah.  Already a good daughter-in-law and they aren't even married yet.  He and my younger son and I headed out for sushi, with my older son now able to legally order a beer with his meal.  
His girlfriend won't be here until Christmas Day so my sons asked to watch the old videos their father had transferred to DVDs. There were some I'd never even seen, and others I'd just forgotten. It was funny to watch my sons as little boys, the older one rattling on about whatever interested him at the moment and the younger batting his big eyes and smiling sweetly at the camera. True to form, my younger son giggled through the videos as we watched while his brother kept up a commentary, "Aww, [younger brother] is so cute! Hahaha! His head is so big he can hardly hold it up! How was he able to memorize all those song lyrics so young?!" And in one scene where I'm leaning down into the lower bunk to kiss my younger son goodnight, the camera focuses on my rear and my son reacted with, "Oh, Dad!  Noooo!!!" Later, in a scene from an earlier year, I'd just finished nursing and he said, "Is that boob? That's boob! Ack!" and then covered his eyes. There was much hilarity over the awful 90's fashions of baggy clothes - and seriously, what were we thinking? While they were most entranced by their younger selves, I was just pleased to find out I had footage of people who have since died, including my baby brother, my grandmother and my favorite great-aunt.
Only a few days until Christmas and I find myself regretting not having taken tomorrow and the next day off from work. But the holidays are a busy time in my business, and I hate not to be available when so many people are struggling.
I do enjoy what time I have in my holiday-decorated home, though. I have traditional red poinsettias in every room except mine. I always spring for one in a pinker shade in there. It may be Christmas, but I still want my own room to feel a little softer.
Today has been appropriately sunny, making the sunporch the place I want to drink coffee and read. And dream about the days lengthening to a point where I can be back out in the yard working.
When I bought this year's tree, I didn't realize how full it was until I got it home. My younger son helped me decorate it, and when his brother walked in he said, "Whoa! That thing's enormous!" And it does dominate the living room. But I don't care - it makes me happy every time I look at it.
I love the Winter Solstice. I love knowing that after today, the daylight starts adding up again, creeping it's way toward sanity and life. It fills me with hope.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mini-vacation.

My favorite niece was graduating from college Saturday, so I decided to break the drive up by getting all the way to Hilton Head Island the afternoon before. Off-season, I got a good price on a room a block from the beach.
 
As soon as I checked in, I headed over to take a long walk. You could tell I was the one from a more northerly area - everyone else was bundled up but I kicked off my shoes so I could walk barefooted on the chilly sand. At times, I couldn't see anyone else in either direction.
Any other human, that is - the gulls were out in full force.
I found a baby horseshoe crab shell and picked it up. Then another. And another. And then clusters of them, flipped and cleaned out by the birds. I realized I couldn't collect them all so I started only picking up the ones with tails still attached.
I found four in perfect condition and brought them, along with some cool sponges and a malformed sand dollar, back to my hotel to clean them up. I always accuse my kids of being scavengers, but I am no better.
A couple of flocks of pelicans flew in formation along the edge of the water. There was also a large great blue heron fishing in the channel by my hotel, who would squawk angrily when I got too close.
The next morning I went back again as the sun was starting to come up.  It was a little colder, but I couldn't resist another walk on the beach.
I love sunrises and sunsets over the ocean.
But I had a graduation to get to, so I reluctantly headed back to my hotel for breakfast and the remainder of my drive.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pistol packin' mama.

So, remember back in July when one of my patients stock-piled ammo and threatened to kill me? Well, it scared me, and I had a peculiarly 'Murican response. That week, I was at the gun shop talking to the owner about handguns. A background check later and I walked out with a 22. Out at the range, it proceeded to jam repeatedly, in spite of help from a gunsmith who happened to be there that day. He asked a question I never thought I'd be asked, "Have you field stripped your gun yet?" And I gave an answer I sure never thought I'd give, "Yes." Everyone advised me to "trade up." Back to the gun store and after anther background check (in case I'd committed any crimes in the week I owned the 22, I guess), and out again with a Colt 380. It's a scaled down version of the Colt 1911. I picked it in spite of the price tag because it is easy to rack and known to be reliable.  The store owner patted his pocket and said, "That's what I carry." My neighbor, the retired cop, asked what sort of gun I had and when I told him, he whistled and said, "Can't go wrong with a Colt - that's a fine gun."
video
This is the first time at the range with the original 22. It's an outdoor seated range, and you can hear by the accents around me that it's primarily used by folks born and bred here. I'm something of a novelty at the range. I went back on my own, after I bought the 380, and overheard this:
First Guy: "That lady came here from work in a skirt and high heels, sat down and started shootin!"
Me: "Hey, I can hear you guys!"
Guys: "We're talking about you - come on over!" .... "You're a conundrum - you drive a Prius with a peace sign on the back, but you're armed."
Me: "I'm a Quaker, too, throw that in the mix."
Older two guys, "Whoa! Hahaha!"
Younger guy, "What's that? One of them little rice cakes?" 
After a few trips to the range, I got more proficient at loading the magazine and racking the gun. One of the guys there pointed at my target and said, "We've decided we like having you here but we don't want to date you!" I said, "Well, if you look closer you might be less afraid." Then after I'd retrieved the paper target I said to him, "Actually, I seem to shoot consistently low - so I could be your worst nightmare!" I will say that, to my surprise, the guys at the gun store and the range have been uniformly helpful and friendly.
And then it was time for the day-long required class for a permit. You can own a gun and keep it at your house without a permit, but I wasn't afraid at my house. The class was taught by a retired officer and mostly focused on gun safety and the law. In a rather sinister twist on the old idea that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, the instructor said, "It's better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6."  I did, however, appreciate that he kept reiterating that if you own a gun you are responsible for where every bullet goes, no matter what. It was a surreal experience, though - we sat at tables with our weapons in front of us. Unloaded, chambers open, and no ammo in the room, fortunately. The class was held at the Sheriff's training building and the highlight for me was that they actually gave us coffee and donuts as a snack. You can't make this stuff up.
Finally it was time to use the indoor range. We stood up at those barrels and shot five rounds at a time at increasing distances from the targets. I wasn't wild about the setup, because there was not protection between each shooter.  The spent .22 casings of the woman next to me kept hitting me. It's not fun to have a hot bit of metal bounce off your forehead, especially when you are trying to concentrate. The worst was when one flew down my shirt. I flinched, automatically tucking inward, which allowed the hot casing to drop into my bra where it was caught against my skin. As soon as I was allowed to leave, I went to the break room to get cold water for the burn. When a friend asked later how the class had gone, I said, "Well, aside from burning my breast, it was fine."
To get the permit you have to pass a written test and the shooting test. And then, through the Department of Homeland Security (named by Aldous Huxley, I'm sure of it) fill out a long application, fork over a lot of money, get finger-printed, and go through a more rigorous series of background checks.  Which I'm totally on board with, by the way,
And there you have it. So... now that I've jumped through all the hoops for a concealed weapon permit, do I carry? Nope. I've actually run into the threatening patient a couple of times near my office. He glares at me, but does not speak since that would violate his probation. He still scares me. But you know what? I don't want to live that way. I went through all that because I didn't want to just sit around waiting to be shot. But now that I've had some time to think about it, I don't want to sit around waiting to shoot back. I just don't. I'll go back to the range now and again because I've discovered I kind of enjoy target practice. But otherwise, the gun stays home, unloaded.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What, you don't have a cover for your thermostat?

I honestly don't know what gets into me, but I took a notion that my thermostat shouldn't be visible. I got an email offer for having photos printed on canvas and I got an idea. After looking through my photos, I uploaded one and got it back wrapped around a frame. Then I cut a hole in the styrofoam and backing to fit the thermostat with a utility knife, and sealed off the edges with black tape.
I attached hinges on the back of one side so that the frame can be swung out to access the thermostat.
I chose this photo I'd taken at a local park because the fall colors go well with the paint.
A silly project, yes. But let's face it - doesn't this look a lot nicer than white plastic?