Thursday, September 27, 2007


I don't know the significance of this information but it has caused me to ponder it all week.
Last Friday in our fourth grade team meeting, it was revealed, as an aside, the ages of each of my co-workers.

I have two children who are older than any of my three partners. Hmm.

#1 It made me realize that I am old.
#2 It made me realize that my kids are also old. Well, I mean, full-grown adults. But that's not to say that I didn't know that. It's just that it seemed more concrete.
#3 It made me appreciate them (my co-workers) even more because they don't treat me like an old lady, but as a peer.

Then one of my sisters had a round-number birthday and she said something about having only about 20 years left, and it really stunned me. The previous twenty years seems to have just zoomed by in a flash. If in twenty years we're done...or at least she is---I could be too--well then, well then...I don't know what. It just seems too much to think about.

Anyway--that's the data for the week. I don't know what it all means. But it seemed significant.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Season of Mourning

It is now time to mourn the late, great Summer. Today is the Autumnal Equinox. This means that every day now, for the next three months, we will spend fewer and fewer minutes in the presence of Old Sol, my good friend. More and more of our day will be spent in darkness. Stupid Daylight Savings Time will kick in and WHAMO: I'll walk out of school to the dim glow of the streetlights in the parking lot. No more tomatoes fresh from the vine. No more lying on the patio furniture pressed into the cushions by the ferocious blast of midday heat. No more pleasant afterwork hours in the pool. Night swimming only works when the air is still shimmering at 105.

I've always felt this way--not just since I've come to live in the desert. There is nothing less desirable than pulling on your layers of chore clothes and stepping out into the waning minutes of daylight at 5:00 P.M. in the Rocky Mountains knowing that you will be spending the next two hours in the barn, milking. It always seemed colder right then at sunset than just an hour earlier, or even an hour later. I can't think of any science that supports a temperature plunge at sunset, but it sure seemed colder. Perhaps it was the effect of just having left a house filled with the scent of fresh baked cinnamon rolls and drying laundry and now you are crunching your way across brittle snow to the barnyard where you must be on the alert for frozen cowpies so as to not break your toe, and looking out for fresh ones so as to not slip.

Perhaps my ancient ancestors were Druids or something. I mourn the passing of the long long days of sunlight. I just trudge through the weeks until late February when again the earth's orbit puts us in the path of light. Someday I'll have to go visit Stonehenge and see if I feel some primordial sense of homecoming.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Commentary on Previous Post

My sister sent this photo to me as part of an e-mail that had a series of really beautifully composed pictures of animals that were all very endearing. But this one!!

Well, let's just say, if there was a big fresh cowpie behind any of those cows, and the floor of that barn was made of wood: this was MY (our) LIFE when we were children. There are so many erie similarities:

#1 He is sitting on a single leg milking stool. We had those. They were "manufactured" by our dad who'd take two pieces of a 2 x 4 and hammer them into a "T" shape, and voila---milking stool. The milkmaid just balanced on top of this item, using her two feet as the other "legs" of the three legged stool. Somewhat comfy, completely practical, cheap, and easy to snatch up as you leapt up to get out of range of a flying soggy tail or flailing hoof.

#2 He's milking a Guernsey cow.

#3 Check out the old Surge milker on that background cow---hooked to a vacuum line, milk pulsing out of the cow into the bucket fastened below the titcups. You carried it from cow to cow.

#4 Squirting milk into the kitties' mouths.

#5 Wearing the knee-high rubber boots.

#6 The straw hat: our dad ALWAYS wore a straw cowboy hat for work.

#7 The sun streaming through the open door and also the actual walls of the barn. We, too, had "natural" air conditioning in our barn. Too bad it was below freezing so often when we were out there...

Anyway, it is a total trip back in time to look at this photo, and we wanted to share it with you.

If I Were a Cat...

  • I'd be a barn cat because then I'd be a valuable member of the team. I'd eat the mice that ravage the stores of grain that the cows need.

  • I'd be a barn cat because I'd always have a cozy place to sleep in the hay all snuggled up to a warm calf.

  • I'd be a barn cat because there are so many places to hide my new babies from the prying eyes of little children.

  • I'd be a barn cat because I'd always have a companion; no farm ever has just ONE cat.

  • I'd be a barn cat because some bored cow milker will always try his aim and fill my mouth with warm milk. Barn cats never drink cold milk.

If you were a cat, you could do worse than these two!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fall is in the Air

Wow, it only got up to 95 degrees today here. Brrrr...

Okay, not really "brrr..." but it was so different than the previous three months of over 100 everyday. I've had my "acceptable" temperature settings so warped because of the swimming pool. When it was 110 degrees routinely in the afternoon, I'd come home from school, peel off my sweaty clothes, and get in the swimming pool for 40 minutes or so.

We don't heat our pool because we aren't gazillionaires (we're saving up for solar panels to supplement the sun). When the air temp is 100+ all day, the water is just perfect. But it doesn't take long when the air temp falls below 100 every day, plus it was windy, for the water to cool right off.

I do have a tolerance for chilly water. We lived for six years by Hueneme Beach where the water temperature is rather arctic-like. First: it is California, north of L.A., so the water currents are traveling north to south--the water spends a lot of time off the Alaska coast on its way to Hueneme Beach. Second: "Port" Hueneme is so named because it is--duh--a port. There is a natural submarine canyon that created a lovely deep-water port that is used to export citrus crops and import autos and other items on container ships. So, the beach just to the south of the port is the destination for the water that upwells from the canyon---brrrrrrr.

Cool Guy and I used to take an early morning trip on our little city's bike trail to that beach and go swimming for a few minutes each day. In March that is a mighty chilly swim. The surfers routinely wear wetsuits except for maybe August and Sept. I'm sure they thought we were nuts! Maybe we were!

However, now that I've enjoyed the luxury of the desert backyard pool, I almost regret the passing of the Furnace Months of Summer here. It's still nice to swim when it's in the 90's, but that initial leap into the water is a little more Hueneme-like than I'd prefer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

English! What a Language!

Today, being Friday, was Spelling Test Day in Fourth Grade. This morning as we were collecting homework, one of my students whose first language is not English pointed to a word and told me how her mom told her not to study it because it wasn't a real word.

Her mom had been "all mad when I was doing my homework because she couldn't figure it out. And then my dad got home and he got all mad because it just didn't make sense to him either. And they wondered how it could get on my list."

I looked at her list and asked her which word she meant and she said, "Now here." I looked again and tried to see where "here" meant on the list. Which number? "This one, " she pointed and pronounced again, "Now here."


#16--nowhere-- As in--"I grew up in the middle of nowhere."

Now here--nowhere--hmm.

That was a new one for me!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Seafood City Supermarket

On Monday we decided we wanted to grill fresh fish, but we live in the desert---far, far, far from the sea. So what to do? In Maryland, we could go to any number of establishments where the owner went out that morning on his boat, caught the fish, and sold it that afternoon. I had a favorite grocery that I would stop by on Friday nights and get my pound of big old shrimp for a reasonable price and high quality and bring them home to stir fry with garlic and onions.

Well, luckily I chanced upon this store and WOW, it was a treasure. Their fish is extremely fresh and you can get it whole, or fileted or ground up, or turned into an unbelievable variety of foods that I've never consumed nor imagined. But seriously, they have anything you may need that lives in the ocean and can be eaten. And they'll clean it for you--free while you shop.

If, perchance, your recipe calls for a cup of pork blood, or the long cut of pig's feet, or perhaps you need a giant squid, or a container of pig's brains, THIS IS THE STORE FOR YOU. Perhaps you need five different kinds of bananas? A case of mangoes? Balute? They'll sell it to you!

While we waited for our red snapper and sea bass (aka rockfish for the Chesapeake Bay denizens) to be cleaned, we perused the aisles. It reminded me of Woo Chee Chong's Oriental Market on G Street in San Diego. I'm fairly certain that Woo Chee Chong's is no longer there, probably that part of G Street is also gone. But when I first moved there more than 30 years ago, it was one of my favorite places to shop. I was amused in the meat department because they carried all the parts of the pig or cow that my mom usually discarded. Ears, nose, feet, brains, stomach. I never learned to cook these parts, but I was always impressed that someone came there specifically to purchase them for their dinner. I mostly shopped there for the fish and vegetables.

Anyway, we grilled our fish and they were mighty tasty, too. We'll go back! I want to eat at Jollibee, the fast food place, and then buy some coconut ice cream, sticky rice, and a mango, and try to make my favorite Thai restaurant desert at home.