Showing posts with label This and that. Show all posts
Showing posts with label This and that. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Snake tales

          When I was a kid, living on a farm far out in what some of my classmates liked to call "hoot owl" country, all seasons except the dead of winter was a snake season.
        That must have been the heart of copperhead land.  They loved the deep sand, post oak region then.. and now. We had no rattle snakes but could usually count on seeing a copperhead every day or two...if we were out and about, and especially in warm weather.
        Mother and I carried a sturdy stick. If you couldn't pound the rascal to death, you could at least scare it away. Dad, with his high topped work shoes, and overalls, didn't bother with arming himself.
        Often when walking to school, a copperhead would slither across the road, and we had to let it go its way, hoping it wouldn't be waiting for us some dark night when we were walking home from a school program. Carry a flash light? We didn't have such a luxury back in the good ole days.We had kerosene lanterns for real emergencies, but what kid in its right mind is going to carry a lantern  to a school function, regardless of the dark, copperheads, and lurking spooky things.
       After I left home, my parents tore down the old house and built a another. Stacks of old lumber made it as far as the backyard fence and remained there for some time. They had two dogs that got perturbed at some of the nighttime roamers that came into their yard and set up quite a racket. One night they seemed especially disturbed but Dad could see nothing needing his attention (by this time their living facilities included things like porch lights and flashlights), so he expected a snake had ventured into the yard, and shushed the dogs and went back to bed.
        The next morning, knowing the ways of dogs and copperheads, he decided it was time to investigate that pile of lumber, so he began moving it aside with a long handled hoe. And when he had finished, he had killed eleven copperheads.
         Another time we were visiting and the smaller children were playing on the front porch. One of them came in, big-eyed and excited, and said there was a snake out there in a bush by the porch. My hubby got his .22 and shot that fellow out of his resting place far up among the limbs of the tall bush. Nothing to get excited about...just another copperhead.

      A few years back, we cleaned out three barns preparing for an auction. They were full of stacked lumber, hay, accumulated junk that made its way to the barn instead of the dump ground or the handy ditches that were nearby. We, I dug, while my husband sorted through the treasures I uncovered, and decided what to sell and what we couldn't do without. I figured I was the experienced copperhead person and I would be careful. He just didn't take that copperhead haven seriously. So I was very careful and was amazed to disturb no snakes. After the auction and the buyers were carrying away their purchases, two big copperheads came out of their hiding place and  met their end before they made it to safety.
        It's not that we're vicious people. A copperhead bite is not only very painful but calls for a quick trip for treatment,  hospitalization and a painful recuperation.A victim is facing tissue loss and probably a period of therapy.

       Then there's rattlesnakes. A friend who lives in a different area...a rocky, hilly place, was enjoying the fresh spring breezes with her windows opened wide. She walked back to her bedroom and did a double-take. She was staring eye-to-eye with a big rattler. Nothing between them but a window screen. So far as I know, she's never   opened a window since.

         My last snake experience was in my house. One evening I glanced down the hall as I walked by and saw something that looked like a belt lying far down toward the end...yet not quite like a belt, and anyway, there was no reason for a belt to be lying on the floor. Nobody was living at that end of the house. Those thoughts took about two seconds to fly through my mind––then the belt wiggled and in that special, quavery voice that comes out when I need help and don't want to admit it, I called my husband.
        "Huh?" he responded from his recliner.
       "Snake," I squeaked.
       That got him on his feet to come over and make sure I knew a snake when I saw one. After all, he knew I was an experienced snake killer––I was the copperhead queen of owl-country. I was the gal that without fear, had tackled three barns of junk in snake-land, so the panicky call was a bit puzzling.
       Well, this was different. Out in the open, if you have no other options, you can walk away and leave a snake alone and hope you never meet again.
        In your house, if you walk away, your can be sure you'll meet again. Your house has become the snake's house, and this particular snake needed watching. It was on the move and it had two choices when it reached the end of the hall––the room directly ahead or the one on the right, which happened to be our son's room packed wall-to-wall with junk. If the snake entered that room. we'd never find it. And there was no way I was going to live in a house with a resident snake.
        Luckily for us, the snake went straight ahead, so hubby fetched a snake handling tool and with the fellow cornered, the situation was resolved and I still have a home.

       A lesson was learned– an open outside door, even one into the garage, is an invitation for a snake to come a-visiting. So even if you're going to be out only a minute of two, close that door. Most likely the snake that ventures in will be a harmless one, but once in, you either remove the fellow or live with the excitement of having a snake slither from beneath the couch or out of your closet, or.........


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's Your Gripe?

    Last week I decided to supplement my usual evening snack of Cheetos and Coke with a can of Campbell's Chicken Soup. When I reached the bottom of my bowl, I realized I had seen no chicken. After emptying the can I found plenty of noodles but still no chicken. This called for study so I read carefully the label's list of ingredients and found chicken stock, noodles, chicken flavoring and chicken fat, AND chicken meat, plus assorted unpronounceable words.
     So! Where's my meat? Who got my chunks of chicken?

     Hunting that piece of chicken reminded me of the one constant in our canned goods: that little piece of fat in a can of pork and beans. I've never known it to disappear or to change and pork and beans have been on the market since 1885 when Heinz started commercially canning their version. Frank Van Camp, an Indianapolis grocer, remembered the popularity of his family's old recipe for salt pork with beans and tomato sauce and opened a canning company and has produced this staple of picnics and quick meals.
     I have fond memories of many Sunday dinners of pork and beans and deviled eggs, equally as tasty as another standby: fried chicken. At 5¢ a can it was a bargain. What a relief that nothing has changed...except the price!
     My discovery that the chunk of chicken was missing came on the same evening that the news reported that our rate of inflation was at 2.9%, no surprise to anyone who had been to the grocery store recently. There are several explanations for the increases, most of which we've heard before. There is always some crises causing these price increases. It is a puzzle, however, why prices never drop when the crises is over.
      I understand how the weather can make or break any agricultural venture. I also understand that if a business does not make a profit it cannot continue, unless, as we have seen, the government steps in with assistance; and that's another subject, entirely!
     We must eat and to stay reasonably healthy we need some of the most expensive of grocery items;  fresh fruits and vegetables. Price a large apple and you're courting a heart attack. 
     In its simplest form, our economy is based on a producer, a seller, and a consumer. What is going to happen when the later has no more money?

Leave my chunks of chicken alone!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Paper cutting and More

Recently I got a real eye opener when I saw photographs of the paper cutting work of artist Christine Winkler Rayroud. This work is unbelievably intricate and is done with fingernail scissors. How the patterns were worked out beforehand and then followed defies my limited knowledge. Check out her page and see if you want to get out your fingernail scissors and start creating.

My mother entertained me with her paper cutting at Valentines. As I recall, it was all done by folding the paper so that the finished work consisted of identical facing sides.  She would cut the simple winged hearts and some series of connected hearts which I thought were rather cute. She also cut a heart tree that was just that---a tree with a elongated heart trunk and covered with heart leaves. Can you imagine how special that would be to me at this time had I managed to save some of these. All she used was her sewing scissors and scrap advertising fliers for paper.

At that time the ads were printed on only one side, leaving a nice blank page for drawing or writing a  list or as in this case, doing paper cutting. Most of my paper dolls and their clothes had a printed underside and many a childish crayon picture was drawn on those blank sides. Even a special item in our home, the poem, Come Little Leaves, that my mother reconstructed from her early school days was written in her Palmer Method handwriting on the back of some advertising matter, decorated with a watercolor border of falling leaves and framed for a gift to my father.

Her recall and reconstruction of that old poem/song was made at least sixty years after she and my dad had read this 5-verse poem in their old McGuffey  reader. That woman didn't need a computer-just give her time to think and she'd have the answer.

Today, information about that poem is readily available on the Internet: thirty years ago even the Dear Abby column could furnish any information! Today, information on every imaginable subject can be found if you ask the right question.

Following a link brought me the information about the wonderful paper cutting mentioned earlier. Other links have shown things of nature, art, archaeological interest--even the latest heart-stopper showing the dizzying climb up a 1768 foot tower !

Email sometimes does the same. Although some are forwarding posting of real interest, some are questionable as to the veracity of their content. Some of my favorites are the humorous ones and although these may be old to you I hope you get a second chuckle when reading them today.

For the Southerner:  
A true Southerner knows that "fixin: can be used both as a noun, verb, and adverb.
A true Southerner grows up knowing the difference between "pert near" and "a right far piece."
Even true Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

For those who sometimes think they can write:

A little girl was diligently pounding away on her father's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. What is it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

A college class was told they had to write a short story in as few words as possible using three things:
The following received the only A+ in the class:

"Good god, I'm pregnant;  I wonder who did it.

Two more thoughts:

If you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody. 

If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Money---just kiss it good-by. There's a good sale somewhere.

What makes the world go round ?  Maybe you’ve heard that it’s love? Absolutely wrong. It’s money: or rather the art of getting  your money.

Yesterday I received my first sales catalog of the week. Only one, after all, it was only Monday. This one  is a Fall Fashion Sale, picking a new approach from those of the past few weeks: the tax free week-end sale of August 21,22, 23, a variety of back-to-school catalogs, Labor Day sales, end of summer sales and finally,  if after the past four weeks of spending opportunities, there is any small change left in your pocketbook,  this Fall Sale event gives you another chance to rush out and exchange your money for small appliances or a final clearance of fine jewelry, or even on a specially discounted line of new fall fashions.

Now the latest fall fashions open the door to another world: one that I am firmly closing that door on before something escapes.  I know it’s another world because it’s peopled with nothing but youth, and all pencil thin youth, besides.  There are short skirts and plunging necklines  (no the two do not meet!)  there are lacy semi-sheer tops and skirts.  There are bold prints on flowing garments,  form fitting knit tops and equally form fitting jeans. 

Those who love ruffles will find that the fashion world has not yet retired them to the basement disposal box but have probably added a bit of this and a bit of that to the dye lots to lure you back for just one more ruffled top in this marvelous new color!

Now,  I’m an old hand at bargain buying. My overstuffed closet can attest to that. I’m not about to be tempted by this Fall Sale. After all, the biggies of all time will soon be here: Halloween, and after Halloween,  Pre-Thanksgiving,  Thanksgiving,  Christmas and the sale of sales,  the after Christmas sale. Then….. well,  the sales will continue, for how can these wonderful stores exist without our money, and there will be bargains…and fresh new colors…and discounted linens with beautiful colors that you’ve not yet tried!

It ain’t easy living with daily bargain notices filling your mailbox but if you’re tough it can be done. I’m sitting here with my coffee (which is getting cold) looking at ads and proud of my self discipline.

Oh Oh, I just remembered something. Aren’t $2 bills still legal tender?  There’s one  on the table right over here. That, and the loose change in the top drawer will get me that sale-priced pair of earrings.

Bye, now. Ya’ll have a good day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

The cats still claim my hill, my front porch, and the porch swing. I feed the skinny things but are they interested? No! They follow me down the sidewalk as I go for the paper. They wind in and out around my feet. They meow, telling me their troubles but don’t like the answers I give. Patches got too close and got her tail trounced on and I don’t know who moved the fastest, the cat, or me but she definitely yowled the loudest.                                     Patches >

Noises at midnight...
All is quiet and peaceful…until there is a crash near the back door! The house is secure the doors are locked, the alarm is set…so-o once the goose bumps       subside, a tentative search begins. The cause is found: nothing more than a canister finally giving in to gravity and falling from its unbalanced perch and knocking over several other containers on its path to the floor.

Another peaceful night and Facebook is holding my attention until stealthy rustlings come from the back porch. More goose bumps!  Do I dare turn on the porch light? Well of course I do. I’m no scardy-cat!  What do I see? All seems normal until I see a ‘possum ambling across the patio leaving the obstacle course that my porch has become.

…And then there are the bugs attracted to the lighted windows. Tap, tap, tap! Surely that is a bug
....Ice cubes drop, the freezer starts with a loud click, the dishwasher has its series of clicks and gurgles.
What happened to peace and quiet?

Whistles and gurgles and sirens
the latest installation
There have been times, when groggier than normal, I have opened a door without first turning off the alarm: in fact, the answering folks are becoming amused at my varied excuses.  How ever nice they may be; I have become very sensitized to any noise that sounds, even remotely, like an alarm siren. The first ding of the microwave or dryer as their job is completed; the hiss or whistle of the hot water heater, the song of a happy cicada…all bring me to an alert. Imagine, then, my reaction the evening I was returning home and dutifully turning off the alarm before reaching the front door AND immediately heard the blast of a siren!  What could possibly have happened? I had not even reached the door. The remote should not have caused all the commotion but it must have, so the off button is punched again, and again.  Then the puzzle was solved as the emergency vehicle screamed it’s way down the street.

An eerie feeling...
Numerous tales have been told about the silent appearance of departed loved ones, so you can imagine the direction my thoughts took upon experiencing this:  I was resting with my eyes closed when there was a sudden strong whoosh of air immediately above me. My eyes flew open: there was no sound, no other movement anywhere, but I knew it had been a real and strong air movement.  Almost afraid of what would happen next, I began a reluctant look around the room.  A sound from the dining room drew me there and the mystery was solved. A large chimney swift was fluttering against the blinds. I grabbed a cup towel, gathered the bird into its folds and released it outside. Problem taken care of very efficiently, or so I thought.

Then another bird flew by, back and forth, from window to window as it frantically hunted a way outside.  The back door was only a foot from the path of the swooping bird, so I opened it to help it along its way.  All that accomplished was to send the poor bird into another room…a room with breakables that I feared would be knocked to the floor. Again I grabbed my cup towel, hoping to catch this second bird before there was a disaster.  The bird had disappeared but then I spotted it, exhaustedly resting by the drapes. Another outside trip to deliver the poor thing into it natural habitat and settled myself for a bit of meditation about the events of the last hour.

 That was not to be: another bird appeared. Three birds in one hour called for son-in-law help!  He also caught his bird and then began a hunt for the point of entry.  A fireplace damper had not been closed properly and the chimney swifts, that had appeared so small as they swooped around in the sky, had entered through the opening and appeared in the house with their 12  inch wing spread making them a very large bird to be careening through-out the rooms.

Again, the problem was solved: the bird was outside, the damper was closed, and all is peaceful once more: until I hear a scratching sound from the window behind my chair. I recognized that sound. It could be nothing other than another bird so with cup towel in hand, I find it huddled on the window sill and assist this fourth bird on its way outside.

The damper is closed securely; the birds are free in the outdoors. But the eerie  experience of feeling that strong, silent air  movement remains.