"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Friday, December 21, 2012

May you live in interesting times...

I've read somewhere that wishing that on a person is a way of cursing them, of wishing them times of turmoil and trouble.We certainly seem to be in such a time, as a nation, and it's been a bit interesting around the homestead as well.  Nothing major or life changing, just the little things going wrong, or not getting done, that add up and cause trouble.

I leave my Christmas lights in my big spruce tree in my front yard all year long.  (Yes, I'm a Yankee Redneck Woman!)  But the tree is a good twenty-five feet tall, the lights are small, and can't be seen when not lit.  The tree has grown so tall that I can no longer reach the strands of lights in the uppermost branches.  So I simply leave them, and plug them in each Christmas.  This has worked well for years, but when I plugged the lights in a few weeks ago, none of them would light.  So, I spent the time and money and effort, running up and down the ladder, to put new lights in the tree, as high as I could possibly reach.  All was well until the high winds and heavy snows today; now only one strand is lit.

Today I wanted to bake Christmas cookies and went into the pantry only to discover that the mice got into the bags of dehydrated foods I put up earlier.  I hadn't been able to find any more two quart jars locally, and had intended to get to the city for some but hadn't made the trip because I have a tire with a slow leak that won't get that far but I haven't gotten it fixed yet. So now instead of baking cookies I get to empty and scrub my pantry and all of the contents.  I hate mice!!  Not sure yet how much food I've lost.  I had bought caulking and some extra mouse traps, but never found time to go around and seal whatever gaps I could find.

And so it goes.....certainly minor annoyances, compared to what others are suffering, but tiresome nonetheless.  Tuesday's event, though, was the most interesting.  I have my old pick up parked out front for sale, and wanted to start it up and run it for a while to keep it tuned.  The plug wires had gotten wet, so it didn't want to start right away.  A few more cranks of the starter, and and little pump of the accelerator, and.... BAM!!!!  Well I hopped out of that truck a heck of a lot faster than I had climbed in it, heart pounding, eyes wide, knees shaking.  I ran over to the front porch where Brother was standing, curled up on the steps and huddled down in my jacket.  For a moment I was the scared little girl that wanted to climb up in Daddy's arms.  Brother was no help, he was laughing so hard, though his eyes were a bit wide too.  He said he was able to actually see the shockwave from the blast.  At first I thought it was a rod blowing through the engine block, which would have ruined any resale value in the truck.  On second look, though, we saw what had really happened - the muffler had exploded.  And this isn't the little pansy muffler you see on a lot of vehicles; on these older Chevy trucks it's the size of a beer keg.  The sheet metal of the muffler ripped open with enormous force, slamming into the ground hard enough to make the truck crowhop.  I've never experienced anything quite like that and I don't wish to again.

Fortunately Brother was able to install a new set of spark plug wires, and he used a floor jack to press the warped metal back up off the ground.  I was able to start the truck and drive it around, but boy is it noisy now!  I guess I can either drop the price on the truck, or get a new muffler installed.

Today winter arrived with a vengeance, wind and snow and icy roads and closed schools.  I stayed inside.  The local FFA had their annual fruit sale a few weeks ago, so I had a bushel of citrus fruits to get canned.  I'd never done citrus before, and after laboriously hand-peeling the first couple of grapefruit, I decided it was a lot easier to use a knife and quarter them, then cut the fruit away from the peel.  Ten minutes in a hot water bath, and the jars are ready for the shelves.  That is, as soon as I fumigate the pantry.  Anyways, I think they look wonderful in the jars.

The wind is still howling around the house tonight, and the windows are frosted in the corners like a Christmas card.  Our Christmas tree is beautiful, scenting the air with pine, and scattering needles on the carpet.  As I sit here typing this I can hear the lids of my jars of fruit pinging as they seal.  Daughter is done with school until after the New Year, and all the after school events are cancelled due to the weather, so it's a rare treat to have her home on a Friday night. We don't have the cookies baked yet, but that's ok.  We're together, warm and cozy in our living room, dawg curled up next to my chair, and the tv is off.  All is peaceful in our little corner of the world for the moment.  And what more could I ask for?

I wish each of you joy and peace as we celebrate the birth of Our Savior.  Merry Christmas!

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shut Up Already!

I imagine the title gives it away.  Yep, it's another rant.  If you don't like rants, look away now.  I'm going to be the Grinch for a few minutes.

Are you still here?  Well, then, here's the rub:  no one shuts up anymore.  It seems that respect and courtesy are outmoded, meaningless words and paying attention died long ago.

We've all experienced the transient annoyance of waiting in line at the store, unwillingly listening to a one-sided conversation as someone chats on their cell phone.  And these days parents are well acquainted with the hassle of prying a teenager out off a cell phone long enough to ask about school.

But the epidemic is worse than that.  It's everywhere, and it's driving me nuts.  Daughter plays in the school band, and while I'm glad she does and I encourage her and enjoy listening to her play, I actually dread the school concerts.  The grown-ups, who presumably are the parents that should care about what the kids are doing, talk constantly.  It seems their conversations and phone calls can't wait the four minutes until the song is over.  Not only that, but they let the younger children run up and down the bleachers, thumping and banging and giggling and making it impossible for a parent to videotape the concert.

Earlier this week we drove all the way to the city to attend a professional symphony orchestra concert.  You know, the kind where you pay money for a ticket, and a maestro with a baton waves his arms at the violins.  Even there, people talked through the music.  A group of five or six young men in their twenties sitting a few rows behind us just couldn't stop discussing what they did that day.  At least there I was able to speak to an usher during the break, and she was able to correct the situation.

And the one that bothers me the most?  The behavior of some of my fellow church members.  Since when is it ok to stand in the back of the church and talk during the sermon?  And why wouldn't you turn off the ringer on your cell phone before the service starts?  Bah humbug!

So I'm sending out a heart-felt plea to everyone:  please, please, stop and think and show some respect!  Try listening for a change.  Here's the way I was taught it should be:  when you attend a concert, do not talk during while the music is playing.  If you must leave your seat for some reason, do so only between songs.  If you come back from the bathroom and the band is playing, wait quietly in the doorway until the song is over, and then return to your seat.  When you go to church, sing the hymns, join in the prayers, and listen to the sermon.  There's plenty of time to visit and catch up after the service!  And for crying out loud, leave the cell phone out in the car! 

It's only polite to behave appropriately, it's not really so hard to do, and it will improve the experience for you and definitely for everyone around you.

And if you don't, the grumpy middle-aged woman glaring at you is probably me.  Let's not meet that way!