Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Found Geronimo's Rifle

My husband set out today to visit the big bad world, leaving me here to watch the home fires.

I worried terribly the entire time he was out. He doesn't want me out in the world right now because I have asthma and seem to catch a virus every time we drive by the elementary school. Better to hole up and wait it out.

He was doing routine things, of course. He took the dump truck to the garage for a state inspection sticker.

Then he went to the grocery store, where he came home with a multitude of items, many not on the list, like Little Debbie cookies, pork chops, etc. He said the shelves were bare in many places but fortunately we've enough staples. I'd sent him after fresh fruit and perishables, not Geronimo's rife or toilet paper.

Mostly he ventured out because he needed a medication refill, and the drugstore is inside of the grocery store. We felt like if he was going out, he may as well pick up some food items while he was there.

Fortunately, he did a good job and came home with most of what I needed. He shopped for his mother, too.

He said the biggest problem was the lack of items on the shelves and the fact that he seldom does the food shopping so he doesn't know where anything is.

I made him dump the groceries on the doorstep. I wiped each item off with an antibacterial wipe before I put it away, and washed my hands probably 8 times while I was doing that. He ate his lunch in the garage off of a paper plate. I tried to stay six feet away from him, which is rather hard when you're used to throwing yourself into someone's arms.

Then he loaded the truck up with our trash and headed off to the landfill. Not long after he left, I received a call from my father, who said he was resting on a bed at the Velocity Care because he'd fallen and now had 6 staples in his head. My father is 78 years old. He said my stepmother was in the parking lot and he didn't think he had a concussion, although how you could cut your head that badly and not have a concussion is beyond me.

Some things I have considered today that I hadn't been - the newspaper, which we still receive, apparently is good for holding this virus for 24 hours. I sprayed the front and back pages down with Lysol.

That made me wonder about the mail, since I read that the virus stays on cardboard for 24 hours. Do we not touch the mail for a day? When (if?) a package comes, should I give it a kick into the garage and leave it sitting for a long time before I open it?

I gave my husband orders to strip in the garage, wash his hands, drop his laundry in the washer, wash his hands again, and then take a shower.

He did this, and also wiped down everything in his pockets, including his pocket knife, wallet, and keys, with an antibacterial wipe.

I jokingly told him he didn't have to wash his socks with his pants because I thought the stink there would kill be the virus. He threw them in there anyway. Ha.

So this is our brave new world. For us the biggest changes are trying to be less germy, but we live on a farm and dirt has always been a big part of our world. It is hardest on him, I think, because even though I have complained for 37 years about him tracking in mud, he doesn't stop to take his shoes off.

At least now he is taking off his shoes before enters the house.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Long Week Update

Husband is doing well. He is rolling about the house on a knee scooter but still spending much time with his leg elevated. Until he has it in a cast - it's in a splint and a stretch wrap right now - he needs to be very careful.

Next Friday he goes back for his post-op visit, and hopefully to get a cast on his leg. He'll feel more comfortable if he bumps it if he has a cast on it, I think.

He is getting a daily shower. This is a bit arduous and hard on me but we are managing. His appetite is a little off but he told me today he was trying not to eat much since he is not moving around a lot. So I don't know if he's not hungry or having an impromptu diet.

As for me, I'm still taking too many steps and continue to have abdominal pain. I'm also fighting a serious bout of the blues.

Yesterday I noticed an issue with a tooth and last night I took a sip of water and the tooth said, "You shall not pass." Or maybe it said, "You will suffer me." One LotR quote or the other.

The morning brought pain with cold water and sweets especially. The sugar in my morning tea was no fun.

I wondered what home remedy I might try but nothing that came up seemed appealing (put garlic on it, was one suggestion). At 9 a.m. I called my dentist's office to leave a message, and they listed emergency numbers for each dentist. I thought, what the heck, maybe I can talk to Dr. Lavinder and she'll give me an idea as to whether I need Orajel or something or know if she can see me Monday.

So I called, but her mailbox was full. I figured that was that.

She called me back about 20 minutes later, saying she'd had a call from this number. I gave her my name, which she recognized, and explained what was going on with my tooth. She asked about antibiotics and which ones I could take, and then she said that with all the medicines I am on, she didn't really want to give me an antibiotic if I didn't need one and she'd rather take a look at me. Next thing I knew, she was telling me to be at her office at 4 p.m.

On a holiday weekend Saturday.

So I went, leaving my husband alone after he assured me he would be fine. Dr. Lavinder removed an old filling and put in a new one, along with some bonding, and she thought that would fix it. If not, I might need a root canal. A few days will tell.

She really went above and beyond the call of duty to fix me up. She said I wasn't someone who called with issues and she felt like since I'd called it must really be bothering me.

What a great dentist! She interrupted her time with her family to care for me. I am so fortunate that I have found a few health care professionals who really do care about their patients. I have no idea what the charge will be for an off-hour visit, but I am grateful that she cared enough to see me like that.

Otherwise, I'm awfully stressed but we're sort of settling into a new routine for now.

Our Thanksgiving was nonexistent (we each ate a half of a butternut squash, and that was it), although we had some leftovers my brother provided the next day for lunch.

Thank you, brother.

Last night I blew up a bowl of soup in the microwave. It was hearty beef vegetable soup and it went everywhere. The inside of the microwave looked like I'd exploded a dead thing. That was quite a mess. I have no idea where I went wrong.

This morning, I fixed Cornish game hens in a cooking bag and somehow or another they didn't cook completely. We ate some of the breast (that part was done) for lunch, and then I carried the remainder out to the forest and gave it a toss.

Something will eat it. Probably a coyote.

After I finished at the dentist, I brought home pizza. I'm thinking I may never cook again and we shall live on ham and cheese sandwiches and supermarket roasted chicken.

I am very tired. Can someone tell me why?

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Runaway

When I was a news reporter, one of my favorite questions to ask people was, "How did you end up here?"
I ask this because "here" is not exactly on the beaten path. It's not a mega commerce center, and just the other day there was an article in the paper about how young people are moving away and officials are looking for ways to stop what they called the "brain drain." Lots of outdoor activities might be a major draw, and we do have some industry, but nothing exceptional, really.
So I always want to know how people come to be here. Many retire here - we do have an older population - because the cost of living is so different from other areas, particularly up north. Some people have left and returned. Some love the mountains, some love the beauty of the area, some like the people.
Recently when I asked that question, I received an answer I'd not heard before.
The woman said she was here because she had run away from a domestic violence situation, and this area was a place she thought no one would look.
She said this so matter-of-factly that I was somewhat taken aback. This would be a good place to hide out, if you think about it. People generally mind their own business even if we do have that small-town mentality where everyone knows your business anyway. Of course they really don't know your business, they just think they do. Gossip is always entertaining.
I was also struck by this woman's acceptance of her situation, the easy way it rolled off her tongue. "Domestic violence," kind of like I'd say, "pass the ketchup, please." It has been many years since she left her bad situation, and I presume her acceptance of it means she's put it in her past and intends to leave it there.
Good for her. Good for her for being able to talk about it. And good for this area, for being a haven for, well, anybody. I like the idea of my community as a sanctuary, a place for folks to come when times elsewhere are bad.
Domestic violence is not something we discuss much. I don't hear whispers of "so-and-so hits his wife" - we simply don't talk about it. I know it goes on, though. And I suspect we should be talking about it as bravely as the woman I recently met.
This following information is from the Virginia Department of Social Services. They have many other .pdfs and other information available about this topic at the link.
Domestic violence (also called family violence) is a pattern of behavior and a method of control. One person dominates other household members by physical violence and/or psychological abuse.
  • If you can answer "yes" to any of the questions below, you may be in an abusive relationship which would qualify as "Domestic Violence." Does your partner:
  • •Hit? Slap? Choke? Kick? Bite? Push? Use, or threaten to use, a weapon? Prevent you from leaving?
  • •Call you degrading names? Threaten to harm you or your family? Torture your pet? Destroy your property?
  • •Keep you from seeing your friends or family? Prohibit you from using a vehicle?
  • •Force you to engage in sexual acts against your will?
  • •Discourage or forbid you to work? Withhold the family's financial information from you?
  • •Control all the family finances and accounts?
  • •Fail to provide care or medical treatment that results in injury or damages your health and safety?
The National Domestic Violence hotline offers up these rather scary statistics:
  • On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning.
  • Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Just something to think about while you go through your day.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

I'm No Fun Anymore

Not that I ever really was the most exciting person in the room, mind you. I've always been a bit of a Debbie Downer.

Smart, though, and sarcastic. Frequently witty and often silly. Serious, studious, and stubborn, maybe. But fun?

Not an adjective people use to describe me. Nor is it a word I use to describe myself.

My idea of "fun" is a good hour with a video game or a book. Or sitting at a political meeting watching politicians make fools of themselves.

Slap happy stuff, that.

I also have a propensity toward depression and that creates a glass-half-full outlook that doesn't lend itself to happy thinking. Expect the worst and be glad if you don't get it, that's my motto.

And yet . . . I make my friends laugh. I don't make an effort at it, I'm just myself with them, and they find me hilarious. Anyone who knows me well finds me amusing, quick with a comeback, sometimes even able to remember a joke.

I can make the most mundane incident of the day sound like the funniest thing to happen to somebody ever. I make fun of myself a great deal, too.

Other people are off limits. I don't make fun of other folks, because I know how that can hurt if you hit a wrong button. I have lots of buttons and some people are very good at hitting them. Those people, I suspect, think I am never fun.

Those people don't know me very well because they've never taken the time to know me. I don't fit into their idea of who I should be, and so they don't accept me for who I actually am. All they know how to do is hit my buttons and/or be critical.

Their loss.

Because while I might not make a living as a stand-up comic, I'm actually not a bad person to know. Took me 55 years to figure that out, but hey, better late than never.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Night Without Lights

Friday afternoon, around 5:10 or so, the power went out.

Before that, it blinked a few times. I looked outside and realized a big storm was upon us, and I was racing around trying to turn off computers and TVs when the electricity gave up the ghost.

A glance out the bedroom window told me we were having a major weather event. It was raining so hard and furiously that I could not see the fence, which is about 30 yards away. The wind was sending leaves and tree branches in my general direction.

I decided the best thing I could do was sit in the car until the weather calmed. At least if lightning struck, the tires were rubber.

Fortunately, our damage was minimal;  a few trees down in the little forest in front of the house and others on the farm, but nothing across the fences. The generator for the water pump for the cattle watering troughs kicked on and worked as it should, so I didn't have to worry about the cows. 

Without electricity, though, I had to find something to do besides keep my eyeballs on this silly screen at my computer.

I opted to read in the natural light, sitting close to a window. My house, as it turns out, is rather dark. We could have used a few more windows but didn't realize that until after we built. Oh well.

Any way, I finished up my book club book. The power did not return. I had the windows up - a rarity for me because of my asthma and allergies. My husband had mowed the night before and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stand the grass smell. Ultimately, I could not, so I closed the windows in the bedroom and opened a few others in the far side of the house.

It grew dark around 8:30, and I went to bed. I didn't want to read by flashlight.

Fortunately, it was not a hot night. I slept fitfully, waking about every two hours. I know I dreamed and talked in my sleep; not an unusual occurrence for me. I rose at 6 a.m., long before the Man of the House came in from work. He brought me a very greasy ham biscuit from BoJangles for breakfast (something I requested he not do again). Then he fired up a generator, giving me lights, water, and a fan, but we'd already lost the contents of the refrigerator, most of which I had purchased on Thursday.

We had no phones except our cell phones, which do not work well in the house anyway, and I couldn't do laundry. I took a medium hot shower (there was still hot water in the hot water heater, fortunately), and then sat in the car and recharged my phone while I listened to a book on tape.

After that, I washed all the dishes by hand by heating water with my electric tea kettle and pouring it into a big pan. I folded whatever clothing I hadn't finished up the day before. Then I settled in to a chore I had long put off - tearing articles out of newspapers.

Tearing up a newspaper is a bit like ripping a little shred from my heart, but I have piles of paper. When you write for a newspaper and you keep the stories with your byline, you end up with a lot of newspaper piles. And if you keep all the stories on a local subject that you've been following with interest, even if you didn't write the articles, then you have even more paper. 

I made a significant impact on the pile, and then the phone rang. That was a surprise. After thanking the salesperson for letting me know I had a phone, I hung up on them, and then promptly plugged in my internet connection to see if I could get online with my tablet. I could, and then I couldn't. It was sporadic, but I was able to get my fix. Yes, I am addicted to the Internet. I am addicted to blogs, and reading blogs, and to reading the news, and to Facebook, and to receiving email from friends. Even so, I have thus far refused a smartphone simply because I know I will remain glued to the thing from sun up to sun down, and I don't want that.

I want to keep some autonomy, after all. And I rather like it when I go for a drive and no one can get me because only a select few have my cell number. But I didn't like it when I couldn't access things when I wanted.

The lights came back on around 1:30 p.m., and that was the end of that. I stripped the bed, washed the linens, made the bed back up, and put the dishes I had hand-washed in the dishwasher just because. I fretted over the food in the freezer and the refrigerator. I looked online for guidelines as to how long food would be safe without power. The freezer food was probably okay. The refrigerator stuff - no way. Out it went.

Sunday I rose early to head to the supermarket. Halfway through my shopping trip, I realized I had forgotten my wallet. I put everything back, came back home, and went back after it. This is no small feat given that the shopping around here is a 15 minute drive away (10 if you go fast). What should have taken me an hour and 15 minutes took two hours or better, and I arrived home in time to give my husband a ham sandwich for lunch.

So that was our eventful weekend.

And I learned something I already knew but had refused to deal with - the Internet sucks up a lot of my time. I think it is time I place some limits on it, even if it is my major method of socialization these days. That means less Facebook and video games, mostly. Anything to do with writing doesn't count - to me, that's still what I do, write. Even if I'm not doing it professionally at the moment.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Trapping Stink Bugs

Stink bugs, an invasive species, began showing up in our area a couple of years ago. They hid in the curtains, behind picture frames, and in places you'd never think to look. They don't like temperatures below 70 degrees.
They come out and crawl on the walls and fly around the lights. Sometimes you are in the middle of doing something and you look down and there's a stink bug. They seem to materialize out of thin air.
This is how I capture stink bugs.
You need a plastic bottle and a pair of scissors.
Cut the bottle several inches from the top; along the label line often works well. 
I use my handy kitchen scissors for this. I suppose you could also use a pocket knife or something. 
Once you have the bottle cut, you invert the top (take the lid off the bottle) and place it down in the bottle to create a funnel.
Then you go around the room and collect stink bugs. I usually tap them into the bottle with a pencil (using the eraser end so as not to damage the walls). They can't climb back out because the inverted funnel creates a barrier they can't cross when they climb up the sides of the bottle.
You can also stick a little water and Dawn in the bottom. That will kill the bugs. I'm told Pinesol also works well for this, and does a better job of covering up any stinky stink bug odor, too, but I haven't tried it.
Recently we discovered this stuff and sprayed it around all the doors and windows. I have seen fewer stink bugs indoors since we did that, so it seems to work to keep them at bay.
They aren't gone; I found a lot of them outside over the weekend. They were in my roses, my forsythia, and the garden. Stinky little beasts.
Anyway, if you haven't yet figured out how to deal with stink bugs in your house, maybe this will help.

*No one paid me to endorse a product or talk about stink bugs in this entry.*

Monday, May 05, 2014

Hello Gorgeous!

Of course after I discovered my car had an expensive issue, I needed a new vehicle.

So say hello to Gorgeous!

She's a brand new 2014 Toyota Camry SE.

She had 54 miles on her when we made the purchase, all, I suppose, from test drives.

White is actually our preferred color of vehicle, and this is exactly the car I'd planned to purchase - two years or so from now.

She's got a faux leather interior. The storage space is more limited because she's got all of that computer/smart phone gizmos. That's my only complaint. (I don't have a smart phone so I am not sure what to do with all of that stuff. Maybe one day.)

However, I think once I am used to her, and figured out where things go, Gorgeous and I shall have a long and happy life together.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Bye Bye Blue . . .

So the other week when I was feeling bad and in the middle of fighting with the health care system over who would be my primary care doctor, I also had to say farewell to an old friend.

My 2003 Toyota Camry developed an expensive issue, and I had to tell her goodbye. I loved that car. But when the fix costs more than the vehicle would trade for, it is time to say farewell.

I drove her in rain, sleet, and snow, and she never failed to get me where I wanted to go.

She had 125,000 miles on her.

I listened to several hundred books on her CD player.

I loved the sound of her engine when I sped down the highway.

Even with some age on her, she still glistened.

Her interior was nice and roomy, too. Lots of storage space. But she's lost to me now.

It's so sad . . .

Saturday, April 12, 2014

One of Life's Little Adventures

I took some photos yesterday, and had a little adventure. As my husband put it, I can't even go down to get the mail without having *something* happen.

I waited until the sun was shining, and went down with my camera. I wanted a shot of the hayfield that is currently overrun with mustard.

That's a weed that is not great for hay but it is quite lovely to look at. And then I thought, well, I'll cross the street and get a picture of those Canadian geese on the pond.

The next thing I knew some guy on a bike went whizzing by. "Get your damn dog out of the road!" he shouted at me. I don't have a dog, much less a damn one, so I looked up to see this big bulldog-looking thing with its tongue hanging out heading towards me.

You must know I am not only allergic to dogs, I am somewhat terrified of strange ones I do not know. And I did not know this animal. I went into panic mode.

The dog was in the middle of the road and suddenly traffic was everywhere, backed up coming from both directions, and I was standing there helplessly scared of this dog in the street and the bicyclist was long gone by then. Part of me was thinking, I should call the dog and get it out of harm's way and the other part was yelling, that thing is going to take my leg off. A fleeting thought went something like, the dog should've chased the guy on the bike and bit his leg off, it would have served him right.

Fortunately one of the vehicles in the traffic was my neighbor, who is also the county sheriff. I waved him over and told him this dog had taken a stroll in my general direction. I thought it belonged down the street a ways, and so we walked it back and it went toward the rear of the house and we decided it must live there. There were no tags on its collar.

Then we walked back to my car, and by this time I was walking incredibly slowly given the issues I'm having with my tummy and the fact that I'd had some medical testing done earlier in the day, and wasn't prepared for all of this excitement when all I wanted was a scenic shot of mustard in the hayfield.

And darned if I didn't forget to take a picture of the dog.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Treefrog

Yesterday afternoon, after my husband had been in and I'd fed him lunch and sent him back out to play in the dirt, I headed down the hall to my office.

My carpet is a whitish brown-speckled sort of color, and in the middle of the hall, dark from storm clouds blocking the sun and my desire not to turn on the lights, sat what I thought was a leaf.

"Good grief, how did he track that in?" I thought, blaming my husband, of course.

I bent down to scoop up the offending debris. I touched it.

It jumped.

I screamed.

I stared at it. Then I started dancing around. "I touched a frog, ohmygod I touched a frog." I left the thing sitting there and I raced for the kitchen sink and the Dawn dish washing soap. I scrubbed my hands. "I touched a frog. I can't believe it. Ohmygod there's a frog in my house!"

I went back to look. Sure enough, there it sat. A tiny little tree frog. It was about as big as a quarter.

What to do? I had to get it outside. First I picked up a broom and the dustpan. I cajoled the amphibian onto the dustpan, but it kept jumping off.

"I need a jar," I muttered.

I couldn't find a jar. Where is an old mayo jar when you need it? Finally, I found a paper cup. I used the broom again and urged the creature into the container.

Then I placed the broom over top of the cup so the frog couldn't jump out.

I let it go outside.

The frog did not look very happy.

I went and found my camera and took a picture. I suppose I should have taken a photo of it in my house, but I was too disturbed.

Cute froggie when it's out where it belongs. It doesn't belong in my house!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

It's My Party!

I have waited 50 years for this day. It's my big, big day. I am officially a half-century old. I understand 50 is the new 40. Let's hope, eh?

Here's a look at Anita through the years . . .

Age 3 with baby brother

Age 5, Kindergarten
Age 13, End of School year, 7th Grade

Age 9 or 10, Christmas

Age 16, playing guitar
in a rock band
Age 14 or 15, high school band

Age 20, not yet married

Age 20, my wedding day, with my parents
and my brother

Age 20, my wedding day, with my
handsome and special husband

Mid 40s

Mid to Late 40s

Age 47 with handsome husband

Age 48, at my 30th high school reunion

Age 48

Age 48 (2012), receiving master's
degree from Hollins University

Age 49 years, 364 days. I
took this yesterday.

Happy Birthday to me!

Friday, June 07, 2013

A Day in Court

Yesterday my husband and I dressed up in our Sunday best and visited the General District Court.

He had been called to serve as an expert witness in a case that involved a landlord and a tenant. My husband had installed a septic system on the property (that's one of his three jobs, installing septic systems). 

The tenant was claiming they did not have to pay rent because the problems with the septic system (and other things) had gone on a long time before it was fixed. The landlord wanted my husband to tell how and when he had repaired the old septic system.

I decided to go along to watch because we have a little house that we rent out, and I wanted to see how things went in the case. Also, I used to cover the courts when I was writing for the newspaper and I always enjoyed the cases, unless they were about rape or child abuse.

General District Court is where the lesser items come before the court, including most issues involving rental property. This is also where speeding tickets, etc., first are heard before a judge. If the issue is appealed, it goes to a higher court, called the Circuit Court. That's in the bigger courthouse in Fincastle.

Security in the courtroom has tightened since I was last there. You have to walk through a metal detector, and you must leave your cellphone in your vehicle. You can't take an umbrella in with you, either. It was pouring rain so we both had umbrellas, and had to leave them in the front.

It had been years since I attended a court hearing in General District Court. One of the things that bothered me was that the deputies politely grilled every person entering to ascertain if they had legitimate business there. I was dismayed at this, for seeing how the country's laws work is important and should not be something to be challenged. You used to be able to do that without worry.  Personally, I think everyone should go spend a day in the courtroom to see how the law works.

I guess you can go watch because I did, but it is not comfortable being asked why you are there.

Anyway, we took a seat in the courtroom. After a while, the judge came in. We all stood while he was seated. Immediately the lawyers asked that the witnesses be removed from the courtroom, so my husband was sworn in and then he had to leave.

I stayed so I could hear what was going on.

I learned a lot by visiting. I learned about the importance of the lease and the initial inspection, and how necessary it is to keep promises, especially those in writing. Emails, I discovered, are admissible evidence. Being careful what you put in an email is very necessary these days. The same goes for recoverable text messages. It is no longer just hearsay - it's what you did say. And that gives it more weight.

Had the issue merely been one of an unlawful detainer, which is what a landlord files to reclaim possession of a leased property when the rent's not been paid, the case would have been over very quickly. The tenants had not paid the rent and under the law there is no legitimate reason for not paying.

However, the tenants had countersued claiming the property was uninhabitable and they asked the landlord for money, I think. At least that was my impression from the things said in the courtroom. The law has a remedy for tenants if they think things are wrong with the property; they can petition the court and make payments to the court in place of paying the landlord until the issues are resolved. But they can't just not pay. The tenants did not make such a petition.

Anyway, my husband was an expert witness for the landlord in her defense against the tenants.

Unfortunately, I had another appointment late in the day and the hearing went on so long that I had to leave before I heard my husband testify. He said the lawyers asked him about the septic installation, why the old one failed (he had no idea, they could fail for 1,000 reasons), and when he installed the replacement septic system. Once he gave his evidence, the judge told him he could leave.

I looked the case up online last night and the landlord won her unlawful detainer case. She was awarded back rent and interest. The tenant's countersuit was dismissed, which I take to mean they lost.

The thing I like about court is that it deals mostly in facts. They are contested facts, I suppose, and someone must decide who is right and who is wrong. But in many instances you can present things that reveal the truth - receipts,for example, for payment for work done. Or no receipt for nonpayment. That's a pretty incontrovertible fact.

I enjoyed covering court when I was writing for the paper, but no one covers court cases anymore unless they are sensational. I think this is a great failure on the part of the newspapers, and a total injustice to democracy.

Without news about what goes on in the courts, justice is not open and transparent. Certain political sides are able to make things seem worse (or better) than they are because the news is quashed.

I think this hurts the rule of law and the court system, because people don't see how it works. They don't see how the law functions for the mundane things. The workings of the law has to be visible and on display in order to be effective.

It is my opinion that the lack of news coverage has given unwarranted credence to one side of the political fence, the side that doesn't like courts or the law because it does deal in facts. That particular political side does not deal with facts, it relies on emotion and opinion.

We are slowly undermining what is left of our democracy in favor of flashy toys and soundbites. The loss of the media in the day-to-day issues that really matter is just a symptom of our demise. I am 100 percent certain we will regret it all one day.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bye Bye BAM

This morning as I was slowly reading the Sunday paper, an advertisement in the main section caught my eye.

Books-A-Million in Roanoke is shutting its doors.

The bookstores are dropping like flies that have passed through a cloud of Raid. Soon not even the chains will have bricks and mortar stores, and we'll all be ordering off Amazon.

This is not the first major bookstore closing recently. Ram's Head Bookstore, the area's largest and most interesting independent book dealer. The owners retired, closing the doors. Printer's Ink also closed its doors. Also, while it affected fewer people, Hollins University's bookstore stopped stocking textbooks.

Soon we'll be left with only Barnes & Noble in this area, which according to reports is teetering financially.

This scares me. It also makes me very sad.

It scares me because Amazon has already shown, in at least a few instances, that it won't hesitate to reach into your Kindle and pull your purchase back. And the fact that it can do that is frightening. Why should this company have the final say over what you read, what you learn, and what you think?

What if, say, the government decides that you shouldn't be reading 1984, because it might give you ideas? And you bought it on your e-reader, not as a hard copy? And then poof, it's not there anymore, so you can't go back and revisit that again. In part that's because you're not buying the actual book, you're buying a license to read the book. While the model may eventually change (thanks to litigation, necessity, and money (but not morality)), that's how things are at the moment. E-readers are also moving from their own stand-alone units to being on apps on mobile phones and tablets.

I don't know about you, but my eyes are not too happy about trying to read a long work on an e-reader, let alone on a phone screen. I have an e-reader and still prefer a real book. I don't have to plug up a real book. And a real book doesn't access my email or Facebook or have other distractions.

So I guess I'm a dinosaur. I like paper.

The loss of yet another bookstore in my area means I will have one less place to go and feel at home. One less place to browse to find things I might not otherwise read. One less way to enlarge my world. One less place to get away from it all.

It seems like everything I care about - reading, liberal arts, art, English, morality - all of that stuff has gone by the wayside. There are enclaves of writers and readers still, but more and more they are being cast aside like so much rubbish. All that matters anymore are tech inventions - being able to code is so much more desired than being able to write a strong sentence.

We are losing so much in this headlong dash to destroy ourselves that I am starting to think it will be a good thing when we are all gone. Mother Nature must be throwing up every time she looks at humanity.

I used to embrace technology but I eventually realized it was an insidious beast that eats its young. I stopped trying to keep up with the new and improved in the race to the bottom. I refuse to go there though I know now that is where I will end up in this topsy-turvey world we have created.

Books-A-Million opened its chain store in Roanoke in the late 1990s. I thought it was great. Rams Head was over on the other side of town for me, and while BAM didn't have the same stock of poetry and writing books, it carried some. When WaldenBooks closed it was nice to know there were other choices.

I frequented them all and alternated purchases between them. Each offered a unique selection, a different feel. And now they're gone.

Bye Bye BAM. I guess B&N will be next.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

29 Years

Today is our anniversary.

We're an old married couple, having spent 29 years together as of today.

We wondered this morning, both of us up early, as we are most days, where the time has gone. All of those years, passing through our hands like water, shimmering, cleansing, life-sustaining.

We have been mostly happy. There are always, of course, good times and bad. That is what life is made of, but we have been fortunate for the most part.

We'll be celebrating all day!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

When Mercury Goes Retrograde

This is the moon, not Mercury.

In the world of astrology, which I confess I do not particularly believe in, there is a phenomenon called "Mercury Retrograde." This apparently happens three times a year and lasts about three weeks at a time. It is a time when the planet appears to move backwards instead of forward in some kind of optical illusion.

Mercury, one might recall from high school classes on mythology, is the messenger of the gods. Thus the planet Mercury is considered the messenger planet. Hence anything to do with communication supposedly is affected by this retrograde business.

That means it affects computers, Internet, telephone, the mail - most electronic gizmos, in other words. When Mercury is retrograde, you should be cautious, take care of yourself and others, and not make hasty decisions.

Generally speaking, I do not pay much attention to this, even though, as a Gemini (double trouble, that's me), Mercury in retrograde is supposed to affect me almost always, as it is my ruling planet. Or something like that.

I frequently do not know when Mercury is retrograde, but it turned yesterday. I knew this because the astrologers were predicting it would affect the elections.

I don't know about that, but I do know this: about 10:30 yesterday morning, I lost my Internet connection.

Along with my telephone service.

It stayed out all day. This was not a good day to be out of touch as I was keen to see how the voting was going.

Last night was my first-ever professional job as an instructor, too. I had spent hours preparing a beautiful power point presentation. When I arrived, everything worked fine, but within minutes, the school computer died. And would not reboot no matter how many times I started it and shut it back down.

And this morning, my electricity went out for a good while.

So I don't know if I believe in Mercury retrograde, but certainly some gremlin is playing games with me right now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fired Up For a Cure

October is Fire Prevention Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this morning my husband wore a pink shirt to work. The fire department is promoting awareness via the shirts to help “extinguish” breast cancer!

During October the firefighters wear these pink uniform shirts to show support for the community and to remember those that have passed from breast cancer, those battling or those who have won the fight.

This is the back of the shirt. I took a picture of my husband from the front, too, but I was half asleep and the photo is blurry.

In September, the fire department held a walk/run and other events to help prevent, educate and advocate about the importance of self breast exams, mammograms and also to remind citizens to practice their fire safety plans. Here is an article about that event.

Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in all reported cancer cases, accounting for a little more than 10 percent of cancer diagnoses around the world. Women are about 100 times more likely to develop the disease than men; however, the survival rates are about the same regardless of the patient’s sex. About 519,000 people died from the disease in 2004.

Women over 40 should get a mammogram every 1 to 2 years. I'm a little overdue for mine and this is a good reminder to get this taken care of.

Be well, my friends!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Questions and Answers

1. You have been awarded the time off from work and an all-expenses paid week anywhere in the United States. The catch is that it must be somewhere you have not been before. Where do you choose to visit?

A. If it must be somewhere I have not been before, I would have to choose the northern states, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut. I think it would be fun to visit them now, as the leaves are turning. Wouldn't it be great to be driving along country roads, the top down on some convertible, your hair wrapped in a scarf, sunglasses on, looking at the trees?

2. Name three of your guilty pleasures.  A. Chocolate. Reading. Video games.

3. The best kind of Girl Scout Cookie is: A. I don't eat Girl Scout cookies because I don't know any Girl Scouts. But my favorite cookie is a Keebler Fudge Stripe (original).

4. What do you value most in other people? A. Honesty, tolerance, and patience.

5. Be honest. Do you sneak some raw cookie dough when you’re baking cookies? A. Of course. It's the best part of making cookies.

6. Have you ever looked back at your life and realized that something you thought was a bad thing was actually a blessing in disguise?! A. Yes. I left a job in 1985 and thought it was a bad thing, but if I hadn't left I wouldn't have gone on to Hollins College and obtained my bachelors degree.

7. What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited? A. I live in the most beautiful place I know. But I also enjoy the beach on the South Carolina coast.

8. Are you more of a thinker or a feeler? A. I'm a thinker. I'm an INTP on the Myers Briggs, which means I'm an introverted, intuitive, thinking, perception person. Sort of the absent-minded professor type. You can find your personality type for free here.

9. Name three things you are thankful for right now. A. That my husband has decided to paint the bathroom. That it is raining and washing the pollen out of the air. That I am seeing the doctor this morning to deal with a health-care matter.

10. Have you ever participated in a three-legged race? A. No. At least, not that I remember. I can't be sure of what I did when I was very young.

11. When you are at an event that plays the National Anthem, do you place your hand over your heart? A. Usually, yes.
12. What kind of work do you do? A. I am a student of words, a writer of wrongs, and chief cook and bottle washer.

13. During the course of your lifetime, which job or career has been your favorite or most fulfilling? A. Writing for the local newspaper.

14. Do you think it’s necessary in your life to have a day-to-day “career” that is meaningful and service-oriented or do you function better in “just a job” with a steady paycheck? A. A career is important to me.

15. Was there ever a time in your life when you wanted to stay home with your children instead of working, even if it meant less money in the household? A. I never had children, but money has never been that important. I imagine if I had had children, I would have stayed home with them.

16. Tell us your worst boss story. A. I once worked for an attorney in the nearby city who was cheating on his wife by sleeping with his other secretary. When he found out that I knew about it, he fired me. It is the only time I have ever been fired.

17. Have your ever been the boss? A. I have been self-employed for many years, so have been my own taskmaster for a long time.

18. What is your dream occupation? A. Probably to be a best-selling novelist making $100,000 a year. Or a college English professor. Or the editor of a newspaper. Something along those lines.

I took this meme from Sunday Stealing, which collects memes. Obviously it is not Sunday, but Tuesday. Not that it matters.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering the 343

Eleven years ago today, over 1,000 men and women, all of them dressed in 50 to 75 pounds of firefighting gear, faced the worst event of their careers.

The Twin Towers in New York City had been attacked and were burning.

At 8:50 a.m., the New York City Fire Department had established its incident command center at the World Trade Centers. The first plane hit at 8:45 a.m.; the response was immediate. The fire department was on the scene within five minutes.

These brave firefighters hustled inside while everyone else was doing their best to get outside.

They were saving lives, these folks. They were doing what they were trained to do.

What they loved to do.

What they would die doing.

At 9:59 a.m., the first of the tallest towers of the World Trade Center collapsed. The firefighters who were valiantly trying to reach people believed to be trapped on upper floors, were unable to get out. As those of us who sat watching the events unfold on TV know, the collapse occurred without warning. The buildings were down before anyone could react.

And 343 firefighters died, along with over 2,000 other people.

As the wife of a firefighter, I know that every day could be the day that things go wrong on the fire scene. This could be the day that a building explodes, a roof caves in, a car crashes into firefighters standing on the side of the road putting out a burning vehicle (something that happened in Roanoke in 1985, killing several firefighters).

These people do a job that most people wouldn't dream of doing. They risk their lives every single time they go to work. When you are running away in fear, they are putting on their hats and heading off to face down whatever it is you are afraid of. Tornadoes, hurricanes, fire, flood, derecho winds, downed power lines or a terrorist attack do not halt these dedicated people. They go forward when the rest of us would hang back.

On this 11th anniversary of the attack on New York City, please remember the sacrifices of these brave men and women, the firefighters who go where no one dares to go.

You might want to say thank you to them, too. You never know when the life they save might be yours.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One Thousand Trains

Here is something you may not know about me: I like trains. In particular, I like miniature trains.

If I had a bigger house with extra rooms, I would have a train room. It would be full of miniature trains and miniature buildings and little tiny people. I would love to have a table full of "Z" scale train stuff (I think that is the smallest you can get) if I had a place to put it.

Saturday in Fincastle an auction of over 1,000 miniature trains took place. Most were Lionels, American Flyers, etc.

My husband and I stopped in.

There were, indeed, literally at least 1,000 engines and cars, and who knows how much track.

The cars were piled in boxes, lined on tables, and otherwise tumbled about.

A number had an Armed Forces motif.

Almost all of them looked well-used.

These cars hauled Baby Ruth bars!

Some of the signal lights for display.

Tiny little railroad crossing signs.

I guess most of the miniature items were stuffed in boxes and not out where I could readily see them. We were unable to hang around as long as I would have liked because four people were sucking on cancer sticks like there was no tomorrow. I had an asthma attack because of the second-hand smoke and had to leave.

But I enjoyed looking until I couldn't breath.

If, like me, you're fascinated by miniatures, you must check out the website for the miniature wonderland in Hamburg, Germany. It is billed as the largest model railway in the world, and has things like firefighting scenes, an airport, boats, scenes of countries (including the USA) and other attractions.The four-minute video is incredible, and there are longer videos on youtube if you want to take a look at the wonderland in more depth.

Choo choo!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The West Virginia State Fair

The West Virginia State Fair started yesterday and runs through August 18. It is located in Lewisburg in Greenbrier County, WV. It's about 1.5 hours up the road from where I live, give or take a stop.

I was a child when I was last at this fair; I have a vague memory of going with my parents. This fair has been around for many years; it's been the official state fair since 1941.

Anyway, enough of that. You don't want a history lesson, you want to see photos!

To reach the fair from the main parking lot, you have to walk up and over a bridge across the road. This is a shot from the bridge, with the camera over my head to get above the chain-link fence.

Ah, the food! Snow cones and hots dogs and pizza, oh my!

I am a big fan of cotton candy, a treat I only get at fairs. Which is to say, not often! At $5 a pop, I'd better enjoy it, eh?

The rides.

What we really came for. The agriculture stuff. Tractors! And more tractors!

Old antique tractors, all in a row.

Doesn't this look like the best southern food shack EVER? FRIED GREEN TOMATO SANDWICHES! BROWN BEANS AND CORNBREAD! Who could resist?

We like old things, and this grist mill, circa 1870, was no exception.

We watched it grind grain for a good while. Plus it was in the shade and the sun was relentless between the clouds.

The quilts! Aren't they lovely?

A final shot of a one of the rides.

What's a carnival without a lot of color, eh?

If you are local and have never been to the West Virginia State Fair, you should check it out. We left home about noon and arrived around 2:30 (we made stops at other places). We only stayed for about three hours - between the heat, the threat of rain, and the thickening crowds, that was long enough for us. We were back home by 7 p.m.

One of the nicest afternoons I've had in a while!

**Photos taken with my Nikon Coolpix L22**