Archive for November, 2006

Blow Away

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Who would expect the wind to be an ally when raking leaves? Certainly not I. Although not exactly raking leaves, I was dislodging them from the space where my shed roof is connected to the north side of the shop. The wind deposits leaves there as they migrate from summer attachments on near cottonwood and walnut trees. Rain comes and dirt joins the hideyhole and more leaves join the party. Every fall I turn on the water and put the damper on what appears to be an environmental kegger.


Didn’t work this time. The recent rains compacted the dirt and leaves to make a muddy compost. I stalked up my trusty ladder – long handled rake in hand – prepared to physically shove the leaves off. I was pleasantly surprised when the wind grabbed the loose ones and whisked them away, way away into the neighbor’s yard. Lightened my load. Hoorah for me. That left much less to haul into the garbage.

I have always felt invigorated by the wind. What a happy surprise to have that invisible force help me with a heavy job. I usually do not rake leaves in the wind but this November day was sunny and the weather promised much colder days ahead so I jumped into the ‘window’ in the weather to work on the roof. Good thing. Now the roof is clean and will be easier to sweep snow off if that comes with the solstice. Or better yet, it will be cleanly rinsed if there is more unusual winter rain!

Sears before Roebuck

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

A trip to a local museum brings a reality that I do not often think of — that history does not begin with my parents. I found it difficult to realize the wealth that abounded in the USA by the time my parents wed. Displays in the East Benton County Museum dated 1880s (before the birth of my parents) included fancy dinnerware, table settings, furniture, elaborate toys, and exotic clothing. Very stunning. An immigrant and a farmer’s daughter, who were my parents, did not participate in that life style so it was beyond me (still is). I was aware that big cities like New York and Pittsburgh and others had indoor plumbing and some form of lighting, but that was not a part of my life in rural Minnesota.

Carrying drinking water by the pails full from a neighbor’s well and carrying wash water from the pond was the extent of our running water — and we all took turns in running for it. In the little house with the hole in the seat, Sears catalog was the paper of choice in the 1930s and not for papering the walls.

The museum had a table model of a cream separator but not a milk pail or milk stool in sight. Unfortunately there were machines and other items that had already lost meaning. The museum curators could not name them. They put forth a constant plea for help. Support your local museum! Future anthropologists will be totally stumped if all they have to look at is stuff we throw into landfills, unless the labels survive. But then what meaning will there be in the words: Reebok, Sampson, Martha Stewart, Pampers, or Sears?


Monday, November 13th, 2006

Today my mother would have celebrated the one hundred and fourteen anniversary of her birth. However she died before celebrating her sixty-fifth birthday. I always remember the date of her birth because it falls the day after my wedding anniversary. Ron and I were preparing a celebration for our fortieth year when he simply could not hold out much past our 39th.

We had been rolled 360 degrees in our Mazda extended cab pickup that past summer and the accident was a very worrisome thing for him. The offending insured party put off settlement and their pitiful offering was wearing on his already poor health. The final heart attack occurred on December 8, 1988 over a year short of our forty years.

November 12 in Minnesota where we met was the first day of deer hunting season and his blood relatives who were avid hunters could not believe he would give up the chance for an opening day hunt. He was never sorry that he did. There were plenty of steaks and liver from successful shots to reach our table all without the work of dressing and dragging a carcass out of tangled woods. It was such a pleasant memory that he seldom ever again went hunting in the cold Minnesota deer season. Although eating the results was very good, hunting is hard work and when practised with great comraderie, most hunters thought it worth the hardships.

It is just as well we no longer relied on hunting for our meat. Somehow beef, pork, and yes, even chicken, taste better when I do not have to clean the critters myself. But I was pleased to have these special anniversary dates trigger memories that will always be with me.

Wormy Light

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Light bulbs aren’t bulbs anymore. Remember the cute little icon we use to indicate bright ideas? My new light producers are squiggly white worms where both ends disappear into a closed ceramic cup with a metal plug that screws into my lamps and other indoor light receptacles. Pretty cool if you ask me. And they are actually cool. Those worms use less heat to produce more light than the old technology.

What would Thomas Edison think of that? Probably applaud the physical, chemical and engineering creativity (not to mention research and time) that brought it all about. What else will science produce in my lifetime?

I’m waiting for electricity to be transmitted without wires. As I said before: Beam it over, Scotty.