The Inner Child

Some of the questions you get on the Word Press platform read as though a personality profile company generated them. Word Press, are you profiling us? Scraping personal data, or just loitering around until we reveal the toxicity lurking below our poses as authors?

One of today’s prompts on Word Press was, “what was your dream job as a child?” Wow! That is just a temptation for me to be absurd. I mean, please define a child. My wife thinks I am a child because I’m not particularly eager to vacuum. On the other hand, I sometimes think of myself as a child because of my seasonal fascination each January with running away from New England and becoming a beachcomber in Hawaii.

OK, I am being circumspect here. The inner child wants to go out and party hearty, get down…and it doesn’t get any better after that. Happy now, Word Press!

Talkfest

Push the right button, and I’ll go on for quite a while. Some might say I’m loquacious, wordy, rambling, long-winded, or even talkative. Others mutter about how easily I evade description by deceptive verbal logorrhea. Others have been kind and said that it was like I was under an enchantment that kept me from shutting up.
A close friend implored me to reduce the rhetoric if I ever expected people to flock to me for advice. “Be concise and less wordy.”

In response, I have nothing to say.

Stairs

If I had a giant eraser, I’d rub out the stairs in our house. But, of course, there’d be no way to get to the second story. The problem lies with how steep and narrow the stairs are.

Just after my hip operation, climbing those stairs was like climbing a mountain. And while it’s better now, it’s placed a big question mark on our future ability to stay in the house.

To improve the access to the second floor, the stairs would need to start on the front porch. That would lower their pitch. Not a great idea. So I began to think of other approaches.

All of these have been considered:

  • Gutting the house.
  • Eliminating the small kitchen bathroom to put in a lift.
  • Widening them so that a stair lift can go in.

All have significant issues fitting into the narrow nature of the century-plus-old house.

I am thankful to my hip for alerting me to this issue while I still have time to think about it. But unfortunately, there will be no spontaneous or instantaneous solutions. 

A few nights ago, I had a “thinking outside the box” sort of dream on the issue. I had rigged up a kind of ski lift device that lifted me to the second floor; then I created an outside glassed-in elevator, the sort you see in the movies. The view of my garden was lovely from the glassed-in splendor of the elevator.

I am sure I am not the only one with these issues; if you have any suggestions, let me know. 

Needle

It was meant to be a joke present. “I think it’ll be a great joke on Claude. The little fetish doll with the pin stuck right into his you-know-what.” “Say it, Denise, it’s not the 1950s anymore – stuck into his penis! Do you think a little doll dressed up like Claude will send a message to that rotten cheater? Women, to him, are disposable treats.”

I sat quietly, picking out a melody on the guitar. Unfortunately, the tune was easily recognizable as one of my repertoires’s more “adult” selections. The two women began to laugh. Denise looked over to me and said, ” sing us that chorus, Wes. ” 

Willing to play the bard, I began the song’s chorus:

Take your fingers off it; don’t you dare touch it, 

you know it don’t belong to you.”

 Denise’s friend Claire smiled, “Damn, woman. You need a great big needle for that jerk!”

Claude didn’t care much about his birthday present or the knitting needle stuck in it.

Seed Catalogs

The catalogs started piling up in December, but by a long-standing rule, they stayed by the door until after Christmas. Then they were dropped without ceremony onto a pile of other catalogs until after the middle of January. That date has passed, and now the gardening catalogs are displayed on the table in all their immanent colorful glory.

OK, I’ll admit on the eleventh, I broke down and bought one of those “herb gardens on your kitchen window” kits. I just couldn’t bear it anymore – wait! Let me Italicize that for emphasis I just couldn’t wait any longer!

Things are going to be a bit different this year. I mean it! My hip surgery last August left me evaluating how I use the spatial limits and advantages of the garden and how my physical inabilities butted up against those. So instead of tearing through pages of colorful flowers and veggies, I’ve been looking at elevated planters. I think the days of spending lots of time on my knees may become strictly rationed.

The websites and catalogs are full of goodies promising to make my gardening life easier. But, after an initial viewing, I cut to the chase and went to the many reviews on how these stack up. There are lots of reviews of these products. I am looking at their esthetics, potential longevity, capacity, and pricing. I haven’t made any firm commitments.

For many years I was an advocate of grow bags. They are cheap, economical on water ( rather than watering the whole bed, you just water the bag), and very friendly to be placed in useable but odd locations around the garden. However, their principal problem is that they are ugly and don’t age well. Also, I still have to stoop to weed them. I want to limit stooping and kneeling. Some of the grow bags will go into the further reaches of the garden. Those in poor condition will be repurposed. They are made from heavy-duty landscape cloth, so cutting them up and using them as landscape barriers is a good repurposing.

January tends to be my month for planning and exploring new options in both the shop and the garden. It’s a strategy I’ve found helps me get through the worst of this part of the winter. In February, I’ll start more plants inside, ordering and assembling what I need for spring, and get busy making maple syrup.

If you have the winter blahs, having a plan is essential.

Down with Emojis

In what ways do you communicate online?

Online communications? Wrong topic to get me going off about. First, people tend to lose any filters they might have in regular face-to-face communication, and because email is so rapidly composed and sent, little reconsideration is placed on what gets said. But you’ve heard all this a thousand times by now.
My real gripe with online communication is emojis. The design team that invented them deserves to be throttled with garrottes decorated with little crying-faced emojis. By turns, emojis are fizzy, meddlesome, creepy, and insulting. Have I made myself clear enough, or should I find an emoji with smoke curling out of its ears?

Emojis have proliferated so much that it is easy to insult or miscommunicate using them. Pass beyond the simple smiley face or tear-filled emoji, and you’ll soon find yourself in a world fraught with special meanings and innuendo. I imagine there is a dictionary of emojis or a Dummies book on their use somewhere.

Optimism about emojis is not easy for me to find. I forecast that we’ll soon see night classes at community colleges on “emojis as a second language.”

Cold, Slow, and Rotten

January doesn’t last forever; it sometimes just feels that way. But, just so you know, the “normal” New England January is like its comrade in arms, February, a severe period of cold, storm, and darkness. Except, as we all know, that seems to be changing. The end of December was warm, and instead of having a day or two of an affable January thaw, we seem to be having an extended Winter thaw.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that January is not my favorite month. So you might think this extended period of above-freezing weather would make me rejoice. Nope.

I’ve lived in New England for most of my adult life, and if it’s one thing I’ve learned, trusting our climate is an invitation to be sucker punched. It’s not like I’m lacking gratitude for the warmth, so much that I worry that this climatic shilly-shally will result in huge snow drifts in late February, March, and April.

Looking at the seven-day forecast on January fourteenth was like looking at the perfect weather for tapping my maple trees for sap, which made me pause. The season has been erratic for several years, and I’ve tapped as early as January twenty-seventh. But I wonder if the premature tapping of the trees hurt them.

A slow, cold, rotten January is not a nice thing. But it’s what we are used to having. I hate to say it about January, but am I beginning to miss how it used to be?

Travel

We walked those long city blocks for miles when I was young in New York City. If you didn’t walk, you rode on the subway trains or the buses. For the cost of a token, the world – as seen from a proper New Yorkers’ perspective – was yours. Unless you had to go to some exotic location, like New Jersey or Long Island, you didn’t need a car. Then, of course, those locations required my father’s car. But ordinarily, you could get around by foot and public transportation.

On leaving New York to ramble, my thumb became my primary method of soliciting rides. The callouses on it became thick with use as I moved around large hunks of the United States and Canada. I still didn’t have a car. 

Then there was a while when travel by boat was my favorite mode of transport. From where I lived, it was easier to get somewhere by boat. Especially if you adamantly refused to learn to drive. Somehow the Harbor master never pulled me over for speeding. But creating a blur of speed in the little wreck of a skiff I had just wasn’t possible.

I eventually learned to drive and am now among the ranks of the stodgy, traveling to and fro on hydro-carbon fumes.

If I had to pin down my favorite mode, I’d say that my sentimental favorite was by boat. There was a sense of adventure and challenge about it. 

Of course, it was no fun that time I was lost in the fog. I was only thirty feet off the dock but didn’t know it for an hour.

Behaving

We were good over Christmas. As a family, we kept the vow to reduce wrapping paper, buy less, and consume less. As a result, trash day at our home had the average volume, or maybe less—no highest volume of the year due to cardboard, plastic, and wrapping paper. As we all know corporations are involved in diabolical plots to choke the planet with clamshell plastic packaging.

My wife, however, insisted that I did not have enough tools in the eight-by-ten greenhouse/shop, which has been past its limit on devices for a few years. I noted that most of the stuff from Lee-Valley seemed to come in cardboard that went right into the recycle. Somebody in Ottawa must be listening to our requests for recyclable packaging.

January is a time for tool companies to send flyers, catalogs, and junk emails. Having behaved for the holidays, they now seek a reversal of my vows to be good and get me to spend on more tools and clamshell packaging. I have a strategy to fight this; all tool company catalogs and flyers are automatically put into recycling. I don’t even look at the covers. Likewise, all emails from tool vendors have been flagged as junk and consigned to the trash bin automatically.

There is a certain amount of warmth of feeling, and yes, I feel vindicated and superior about this. I have behaved in the face of great temptation.

But the seed catalogs are arriving, and I feel my seed lust growing. Will there be room in the garden for the new varieties of tomatoes I want to grow?

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