Tag Archives: MountainLife

Telephone Telefollies

telephoneHave I mentioned lately how much I dislike the telephone?  This is not a phobia or even anxiety over the use of a phone, and not aimed at any version of the telecommunications device in particular.  It’s a dislike of the device in general.

Most people openly wonder about my sanity because they LOVE their telephones and spend 73.6% of their lives talking on their cell phone, or playing games on their smart phone, or checking Facebook or e-mail on their phone.  I don’t do any of the latter and avoid doing the former.  I just don’t like telephones.  Cell phones in particular.  My friends berate me for my refusal to join The Collective. Continue reading Telephone Telefollies

Trimmer Trippin’

I’ve been toying with the idea of replacing our string trimmer.  I have a 5 year Poulon Pro string trimmerold Poulon Pro that hasn’t needed anything more that the usual maintenance and upkeep until this year.  I have replaced several major parts on it lately and it continues to find new and inventive ways to avoid doing its job. I’ve considered taking it to a repair shop to have it “rebuilt” but with their labor rates and parts prices, replacing it will (most likely) be cheaper.  This is not an expensive trimmer.

I’ve been looking at string trimmers, comparing features, prices, and reviews. The reviews are the really amazing part.  In most cases users either love or hate all of them, regardless of brand, and the reviews are posted with the vast majority being either 4 and 5 stars or 1 star: very little in between.  I wonder if it’s really that black and white (you either get a good one or a bad one) or if people are getting too emotional in their reactions. Continue reading Trimmer Trippin’

Smoke Makes for a Rude Awakening

4:30 AM: we are awakened by the shrill, asynchronous, electronic screams of our smoke alarms calling for us to “Get out! Get out! Get out!”

smoke alarmI hop out of bed, wind my way through the herd of large dogs dashing about in confusion over the painful assault on their ears. I check the house. It’s a small house: it does not take long to find that there is no fire, no smoldering appliance, indeed, no visible smoke. I grab a magazine off the kitchen island and wave it at the alarm nearest the kitchen.  It’s all I can think of to do at the moment: fanning the hallway alarm silences them when I’ve been making toast. I’m not good at toast.

Amazingly (or perhaps coincidentally) that works: the alarms fall silent.

Blondie and Tinker stride to the door, “We’re outta here, that’s just RUDE.”  I don’t blame them and wonder what set the alarms off. Continue reading Smoke Makes for a Rude Awakening

The Visitor

I am not fond of snakes. Snakes are, at best, creepy and, at worst, deadly. So I avoid them. This, however, has not always been my opinion.

As a youngster I found grass snakes and garter snakes fascinating and often made (temporary) pets of them. Much to my mother’s chagrin.

In one elementary school science class it was a special privilege afforded only to the top students to “wear” the class boa constrictor for a portion of each class period. I kept my grades up more for this badge of honor than for academics sake.

Snakes were fascinating.

coral snakeMy mind may have started to change the day some school chums and I found a pretty, brightly colored snake on the playground. We teased it and prodded it with a stick until recess was almost over. When we failed to arrive at a consensus as to who was to be the first to take it home, one fellow stated that we should just cut it up and each take a piece. For some, now unfathomable, reason that horrific solution satisfied each of us and one boy used a pocket knife to carry out the sentence.

When we got into class, we were each secretly toying with our snake bit. The teacher caught one of us and demanded to see what he had that was so interesting that he could not pay attention to the lesson. When he showed her, she blanched. You could actually see the color drain right out of her face.

To her credit, she remained calm as she demanded that we each surrender the various pieces. I imagine she as looking for the toothy bit.

Then her lesson plan changed. Whatever we were studying got shelved and she launched into a lesson on herpetology: focusing on identifying locally indigenous snakes. She stated that although some snakes are harmless, they are still living creatures and should not be harassed. This particular snake was a coral snake – a venomous snake. Had it bitten one (or more) of us, it was likely that we would not have lived long enough to be taken to a hospital for treatment. Coral snakes use a neurotoxin that paralyzes the heart and lungs. It’s a terrible way to die, and it happens quickly.

Since then I have encountered other venomous snakes –and have avoided being bitten myself. But have seen first hand the agony that such a bite brings.

Not all snakes are dangerous. Most are actually beneficial in that they rid us of mice, rats, moles and such. Some non-venomous snakes even eat the venomous snakes. Killing every snake encountered on sight just because it is a snake is not rational.

But it is tempting.

The other day I was working on a construction project in my garden. I happened to look over onto a garden box and noticed, with a start, that I had an unexpected audience.

grass snakeThis visitor was sunning itself about 5 feet from where I was digging. At first the alarms went off, “SNAKE”. But I quelled those when I recognized it as a common grass snake, something I should welcome in my garden because of its dietary preferences. I was tempted to chase it off (it was creeping me out) but that seldom works. Snakes of all stripes become defensively aggressive when challenged. They rarely just run away from a threat. I don’t have a snake pole, and I wasn’t of a mind to grab it and carry it out, so I decided to just leave it alone.

I took a landscape timber up to the workshop to cut it to length.

visitor-goneWhen I came back, my visitor was gone from its sunning spot. It probably didn’t care for my watching it any more than I cared for it watching me. But instead of relief, I felt apprehension: where did it go? Would I find it under the plastic sheeting I was working with? I shuddered.

But, no … more likely it crawled into the deep shelter of the sweet potato vines that overflowed the garden box next to the one it was sunning in. Maybe it lived there. If so, it will probably stay in there, safely hidden from the monstrous creature wielding a pick axe just outside.

In time I finished my work for the day, packed up my tools and went inside.

dsc04918Early the next morning I came out to plan the continuance of my work and again encountered my visitor. This time, quite lifeless. It was not torn up or chewed, but dead just the same. I can only speculate what happened to it. My best guess would be that it was out foraging this morning (or more likely late yesterday evening — it’s chilly in the mornings) and one of the dogs (probably Blondie: she has a history) spotted it and flapped it to death.

I fetched the poop-bucket and clam-shell grabber I use to clean up the play yard and removed the limp remains before someone decided to make a meal or a toy of it.

I am not fond of snakes. But as I disposed of this one, I did not feel elation or vindication, but sadness. Perhaps I should have captured the thing and relocated it outside of the fenced play yard.

Perhaps.

If snakes could read I’d post stumpy little signs warning them of the danger in trespassing on the dogs play yard. But they can’t, so they follow their tongues to where they think they’ll find food. Sometimes that works out well for them. Sometimes … not so much.

Squirrel Revenge

squirrel crime scene
Scene of the crime

Marie and I were sitting on the front steps this afternoon watching the birds at the bird feeder. Marie commented that she put some gourmet bird food (includes nuts) in the feeder, she was surprised a squirrel hadn’t camped out on the thing.

No sooner were those words out of her mouth than a squirrel came hopping along the ground through the trees. He hopped up and climbed the metal pole the bird feeder hangs from and began to chow down. I went out and chased him off.

Marie said, “I should put some cooking oil on the pole.” Continue reading Squirrel Revenge

Power Outages Are Just Part of Rural Life

Power outages
Photo credit: Granby Police Department Blog

Power outages are nothing new to rural residents. But new technologies have helped reduce the number of outages and reduce the length of those that can not be prevented.

Is There a Good Time for Power Outages?

You would think the least problematic time for a power outage would be in the middle of the night; no lights are on, no one is watching TV or listening to a radio or using a computer – everyone is sleeping. In fact you’d think that a power outage at night would go completely unnoticed. Not so. The small soft noises that a home makes get so ingrained in our subconscious that when they suddenly go away, it tends to wake us up.

Power outages in the evenings are inconvenient; this is when we are likely using computers, listening to the radio, lights are on and needed. Maybe we’re fixing the evening meal in our all-electric kitchen. This turned into a good thing once. Continue reading Power Outages Are Just Part of Rural Life

I’m Just Chicken About Chickens

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who is not raising chickens. Everywhere I look are articles about raising chickens, plans for chicken coops, chicken tractors, chicken feeders, pictures of chickens, and people talking about how wonderful it is to have really fresh eggs.

chickensThat last part is what comes closest to hooking me. I love eggs. We eat eggs for breakfast twice a week, and use them in cooking. We’d eat them more often if they weren’t getting so expensive. I read that the commercial egg farms have been hit hard by avian diseases that required them to kill off significant amounts of their flocks. That kind of thing will drive the price up, and when this sort of thing happens, the prices generally do not come back down. It’s like the delivery services adding fuel surcharges because fuel was so expensive, but when fuel costs came back down the surcharges stayed in place. We will just be eating fewer eggs in our house now. Unless I raise chickens.

I’ve given it some thought too. Read More …

Howling in the Night

“Ticky-tack, ticky-tack, ticky-tack”.

The sound alerted that small portion of my brain that remains on-duty while the rest of me sleeps, “Strange sound! What is that?” Sentry queries Main Brain.

Memories are searched, the reply comes back, “Small-dog claws clattering on the granite-like tiles of the hallway. Someone is up. Must be Kathy.”

“Is that of concern?”

Main Brain, groggy with slumber considers this: Kathy rarely gets up at night. Cochise does, but Cochise’s 90 pound frame sounds very different from 20 pound Kathy as they traverse the short hallway leading to the kitchen for a drink.  Kathy often gets up when I do, but almost never before I do.  “Yes: this is an alert.” Main Brain swims up through the levels of unconsciousness. Continue reading Howling in the Night