Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Mars Connection

I had errands to run in town this morning so it was very convenient to drive to the park and walk on the walking trail. They have planted a number of fall foliage maple trees that are starting to turn scarle,t so it is quite lovely. It did my heart good to see two young moms with their children in strollers making the circuit. One of my earliest memories is being taken on a walk around the block with my mother pushing the stroller with my baby brother.

But, that has nothing to do with Mars.

All of our computers are hooked up to uninterrupted power supply (UPS)  devices to protect us from damage to computers from "brown-outs" and surges and loss of data from sudden power failures. These have saved our bacon many times.

Periodically there will be voltage irregularities on the lines, usually not enough to flicker the lights or cause things to shut off but enough dips in the voltage that cause the UPS units to click on and off. The last time we had a problem with this, we called the power company and they came out, but couldn't find anything causing it. The crew thought perhaps it was the electrical panel in the house.

It happened again yesterday. There is UPS unit at my computer and another one on the other side of the partition that separates my work space from the bedroom. We watch television off the internet using a computer that is hooked up to our wide-screen TV (not a monster one but a nice sized one).

So off and on nearly the entire day…. click click….. click click… Very annoying.

We finished watching our Monday night program (Yorkshire Vet on Acorn TV), at about 7:45ish, and I thought I would step outside to see if I could see Mars.

So I did. We usually can’t see much going on in the sky at night because there are so many trees around the house, but there was a perfect gap in the trees so I could see Mars from the porch. So I went in and told Richard, “You gotta come out and see Mars.” Normally he won't come out to look at "dos in the sky" but he did this he did come out.

He took a look and said he needed to go back in and get different glasses. I glanced around to see if anything else was visible, and I noted this "flashing." At first I thought it was a UFO (I really did -- I have always wanted to see UFO), and then wondered whether it might be a clump of fireflies in the tree, but then I saw that it was actually coming from the power line on the pole.

Went in and told him he needed to see something. He looked and was very alarmed and immediately called the power company. He told the person he talked to that the connection from the transformer to the power line was arcing. This was about 8:00. 

They came with two trucks at about 9:00. One man went up in his amazing bucket and fixed it and both were gone by 9:20.

If I had not gone out to look at Mars, we never would have seen the arcing, because it wasn't visible in the daylight. Who knows what might have happened. The line could have burned through... and in the meantime Richard would have spent a lot of time reconfiguring the electrical panel that wouldn’t have solved the problem.

So we are very happy and sort of amazed at that interesting coincidence and how it all worked out. The power company is great. Can't say enough good things about them.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Little Girls Growing Up

When I learned I was pregnant, I hoped the baby would be a boy. Not because I didn’t want a girl but because I was afraid I would not be a very good mother for a female child. I couldn’t see myself trying to fix her hair so it looked pretty, or dressing her so she looked cute, or doing some of the things I knew mothers were supposed to do as part of raising their girls.

Looking back now, I realize I almost certainly would have been a good mother to a girl, but as it happened, we had a boy. And as life happened, I never had a daughter, or a daughter-in-law, or a granddaughter.

So, I watched with interest the daughters of friends as they grew up and got married and had children of their own.

I especially enjoyed watching from a distance as my brother's daughter (in the front) and my sister's two daughters...

grew up....

and got married, and now my brother's (that's him in the background, being silly) daughter...

has a daughter of her own.

I sort of thought I was done watching girls grow up, until our neighbors moved next door with their 3 children – a son and 2 daughters – in January 2012.

The kids were “little” and now 8 years later, they aren’t.

The last week of September was “Daughter’s Day” on Facebook, and our neighbor posted this picture of her oldest daughter, Hannah, which took my breath away.

A day or two after this picture appeared, Richard was up at our mailbox and noticed one of the girls riding one of the family's dirt bikes. 

Same girl. The girl obviously has other interests.

And then there’s the youngest daughter, Faith, who also dances in the ballet...

and makes wonderful sweet rolls (which they gave us for Christmas), and now I realize was at least partially responsible for the sounds of “World War III” that erupted from their place a few days ago.

She too obviously has other interests.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Happy October!

 It’s time I think to relax in my recliner and read a favorite novel. 

Says Anne Shirley to Marilla Cuthbert...

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November."

The book blends so well with the wonderful series that was aired on PBS, with the characters perfectly cast.

I can hardly read the book without seeing the wonderful cast of characters in my mind’s eye.

October days can be truly glorious here in the Missouri Ozarks. The sun is not so high in the sky, so the light has a different quality. Fall seems to sneak up on us here at first, but now the trees are starting to turn colors. It may not be quite as colorful as it might because of the drought which has caused some trees to drop their leaves early, but still pretty enough.

October days can also be sort of chilly and soggy and a tad unpleasant – today started off like that, but then the sun came out and all was right with the world.

Yes indeed. I agree with Anne. It would truly be terrible!

Monday, September 21, 2020

My Weekend

When I turned on my computer this morning, there was an e-mail from my friend Judy that she sent yesterday. She drove herself to Indiana to see her sister, who has metastasized cancer with a poor prognosis. All of us (her friends) thought it was extremely important that she go there and spend some time with her sister. She arrived safe and sound. I admire her courage. I would hope that if I were in a similar situation, I too would be brave.

She wanted to know how my weekend was. How was it? Well....

After a delightful walk in the early Fall-like morning, I spent most of the day Saturday working on a long, tiresome paper for the gastroenterology journal.

Sunday morning I heated up a slug along with my coffee in the microwave (I forget to check before I shut the door).

I remembered to wash my hair in plenty of time before I left for church. Last Sunday I washed my hair 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave, but managed to arrive on time.

Heard a good sermon on God’s generosity.

Finished a delightful novel for young teenagers, The Incredible Guinevere St. Clair.

Our library has a collection of Mark Twain-nominated novels for young people. I have read several of them and enjoy them very much.
Watched a fascinating program on Nova on PBS about the slime mold Physarum polycephalum

And to close out the evening, I dropped one of the lovely cordial glasses, which shattered.

The six glasses we ordered were shipped from England and arrived here in perfect condition. We knew one of us would break one eventually, but it was just awful and I really hate it that I was the one. 

So, as one of my brothers (who has sold his house, packed up and moved his family to Idaho just in time for Winter -- are they ever in for an adventure!) would say... there you have it…

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Not in the Palmer style

 “The pages…. Look like the scrawlings of an hysterical octopus."

Ilka Chase Free Admission

This is about Richard’s sense of humor, but it may take a minute to get there.

Some of us were taught cursive with the Palmer method in the early years of elementary school.

I think, though, that how we write is sort of hard-wired to be either legible or not so legible. I dunno for sure, of course. I am sure there have been studies on this, but I haven’t investigated. 

My Dad was a lefty, and his printing could be a little difficult at times. I was mostly able to figure it out. 


The sample is from a letter he wrote. I love his description of the “mail lady.”

 My mom had beautiful handwriting. 


This sample is from a family history she wrote for our son.

I did not take after her. My worst grades in elementary school were in handwriting and mathematics. I can write quite legibly, if I take my time, but usually my hand can’t keep up with my brain and so my writing starts off clear but usually deteriorates. And if I am in a hurry? 

Richard had a call in to Todd, our computer repair person, and he told me what he wanted me to say when Todd called back. 


Modem out
we have another
How soon can he come
(dead in water)

Last week I cooked two big family-size packages of country-style pork ribs and then divided the meat in portions of about 6 to 8 oz each in freezer bags. We have learned the hard way that everything that goes into the freezer must be labeled, otherwise we end up with packages of mystery meat. 

I wrote him a note (everything has to be in a note because of his ADD): Make 5 rib labels. The note was probably not very legible, but he didn't keep it. This is what he gave me before he did the 5 labels.


I can't imagine what it would be like being married to someone who didn't make me laugh.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Varmits and Alarms

We concluded a raccoon or a groundhog was the culprit damaging our pepper plants, so I set a trap to attract a raccoon. I caught an itty bitty possum instead. We don’t have horses (the opossum carries a protozoa that can infect horses and kill them), and we don’t have chickens, so I opened the trap and the itty bitty scurried off.

Next, I baited the trap with things I thought might attract a groundhog: carrot, an apple, cabbage leaves, and a piece of cantaloupe. Two mornings in a row I found a turtle at the back end of the trap trying to figure out how to get to the cantaloupe. I took down the trap.

Richard decided to move the pepper plants to the deck, which seems to have solved the problem. It wouldn’t stop a raccoon, but we decided groundhog would not likely climb the steps up to the deck.

We were right. There has been no more damage to the pepper plants.

In the meantime, I am putting out bits of melon for the turtle.

I can’t help myself.

I occasionally have “senior moments” that let me know my brain is beginning to age and that I just don’t have the mental acuity all the time that I used to have. Last week Diane, our pastor, told me she had an appointment on 30 July to see Bob at the nursing home. Bob is a member of the church and July 30 is birthday. She asked if I wanted to meet her at 2:00. I did. It always helps to have 2 people when visiting Bob. The last time I saw him, another man from church went with me and it worked well. So I wrote this plainly on the calendar at my work space: 2:00 p.m. Bob.
So at about 12:45 on Thursday I got dressed and headed over to the nursing home. I told the CNA that I was there to see Bob. I gave her the birthday present I bought to give to him and so she left and got him and wheeled him out. I wondered where Diane was.

About 20 minutes later she came and got him and took him back and I drove home and immediately realized that I had gotten the time wrong. I hadn’t even looked at the calendar.

Turned out to be a banner day for Bob. He got two visits instead of one. Diane sent me the picture she took of him.
In my defense I suppose I could say that I got mixed up because I had just made an appointment to see another resident there for 1:00 next Thursday. But, I still should have looked at the calendar.

Richard suggested that I set alarms to come up on the computer to remind me of stuff. He has suggested this before and I have resisted doing it. But, I did decide to take his advice and now I am thoroughly alarmed.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Déjà vu

The nursing home is now permitting friends and family to visit the residents with some restrictions: maximum of 2 people, visits take place outside under the canopy for drop-offs, 6-feet apart, masks, 20-minute limit.

Before everything changed, I visited 2 people in the nursing home on Sunday after church. One is a man, a member of the church. At first he was in the assisted living section, and then the Parkinson disease that put him there got worse and he was moved “upstairs” to the nursing home facility.

I met Louise by accident. I had gone to visit a woman who is the mother-in-law of the daughter of a woman at church (did I get that right? Yes). She was there short-term to recuperate from a problem. Louise was her roommate and was reading a book from a stack of books that the activities director had got for her from the library. So I stopped to visit with her a bit about the book she was reading.

The next week I went back to see the “mother-in-law,” but she had been discharged home. Louise was still there. I had won a drawing for a book give-away from the library and had finished reading those books. I wasn’t interested in keeping them, so I took them to Louise to read. And that was the beginning of what I see as a lovely friendship.

Then the pandemic hit. The nursing home locked down, and no visitors were allowed. The library closed, so there were no books coming to the nursing home from the library. Louise was climbing the walls with boredom.

So I collected books for Louise that I thought she might like from my own bookcases and dropped them off at the nursing home for the activities director to give to her to read. My friend Judy, who owned a used book store, also collected books from her storehouse to give her.

I made an appointment to see Louise, and they wheeled her out, with the aide carrying the last sack of books I had given her to read. I was so glad to see her.

We started to visit and to try to catch up, and about that time, a man on a tractor began roaring back and forth with mulch in the bucket that he was putting around the trees in the front of the nursing home. The noise made it a little hard to visit, but I did enjoy seeing her; 20 minutes was not long enough.

Then Saturday morning, I met Judy for coffee at the small plaza-park across from the pizza restaurant in downtown. The plaza is sandwiched between two 3-story buildings, and it is well shaded in the morning. And then whadda know: a man on a large lawn mower came roaring up to cut the grass of the park part. We had to suspend conversation while he did this…

As Yogi Berra said, “It's like déjà vu all over again.”