Cider Press Hill

A long night

Sunday, 12:32 pm

By Kate





Terry gave me an awful scare last night. She was sick in the night and I came oh-so-close to packing her into the car and heading to the emergency hospital. One of the afflictions that greyhounds are susceptible to is bloat—when their stomachs become dilated with air and twist, cutting off the esophagus and intestines and blood flow to the stomach. Usually happens after a meal and, if untreated, is fatal.

Terry isn’t known for her delicate eating habits. She inhales rather than chews. She’s had plenty of digestive problems in the past, so I’m never quite sure. But a monstrous belch or two relieves her symptoms and she goes back to being a contented dog. But last night, she couldn’t produce any belches and she tried and tried and tried to throw up without success. She paced and paced and paced and wouldn’t lie down on her bed and her stomach was distended and as hard as a rock. I tried massaging and thumping her stomach to see if it would encourage her to belch, but no go.

After about an hour of this I was getting scared, but remembered that there was some Gas-X in the cupboard and decided to give that a shot. After she swallowed the pills, we waited. And waited some more. I was just about to carry her out to the car when all of a sudden she produced the most amazing burp. It seemed to come from her toes and it went on and on. Her stomach visibly deflated and all of a sudden I had a happy and lively dog on my hands. She asked to go out and scampered around in the snow for a few moments, took some time out to do a little business, then came in and flopped down on her bed and went to sleep.

I stayed with her for quite some time to make sure she was okay and wasn’t going to suddenly expire on me. But she was okay and is doing just fine today. There’s another couple of gray hairs for Mom. 


Duct Tape is My Friend

Saturday, 5:55 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

A couple of weeks after Thanksgiving, I came across strings of clear LED lights in a store Christmas display. I think it was at CVS and the price was right...$5.99 for a strand of 35 lights. I’ve been curious to see how LED lights look as a Christmas lighting alternative. I have to say that I didn’t much like them anywhere near eye level. They are incredibly bright and they pierced my eyes. I ended up sticking them in a basket on the floor amongst a pile of glass Christmas tree ornaments for decoration.

Last night it was time to take that basket apart and put the decorations away. And I got to thinking that maybe there was another use for the LED lights. They are bright, yet the strand only uses 1.8 watts and the bulbs burn for something like 200,000 hours.

Then an idea struck me. They’d probably work pretty well for gentle illumination under the kitchen cabinets. So, I got out my trusty roll of duct tape and began sticking them up under one of my kitchen cabinets. Of course, that doesn’t sound like a particularly good way to go about doing something like that, but it worked just fine. No one can see the lights or the tape unless you bend over to take a look, and even then it’s not that obvious because the individual lights are so bright to look at. But the counters beneath are illuminated gently. It’s not a harsh light, but an even illumination that I can even read by.

For a measly 1.8 watts, I think I’ll leave them there to do their quiet work. snowed today. Not very much, maybe two inches, but it’s enough to make everything look pretty. And it’s cold enough out for a fire in the wood stove. It’s cozy in here tonight.



Friday, 3:47 pm

By Kate




clear night

I’ve learned a couple of things this Christmas season. The first is that being a responsible consumer is difficult. By that I mean not only resisting the urge to purchase a load of crap that no one really needs, but that purchasing useful items from local merchants is next to impossible in my town. The corollary to that is if you want to buy something useful there is Kmart on the outskirts of town or Walmart over the state line and a couple of towns away, which offer umpty-thousand square feet to lay out their useful wares. Along with all the crap that no one needs.

Just for example—a pair of socks. There is not one local merchant in the downtown area who sells useful socks. Sure, there are the specialty socks that you can spit through and the gag socks that I wouldn’t be caught dead in and hand woven or knit socks made in Peru, but just plain cotton crew socks or ragg socks or boot socks...not a chance.

And how about underwear. The choices are Kmart and Walmart. No downtown merchants sell any. And that’s kind of funny, because I’m pretty sure that at least 95% of the people in this town wear underwear.

And how about nails or hammers or a drill bit? There is a hardware store way out on the edge of the town. And there is Kmart and Walmart. Nothing downtown.

Light bulbs? Walmart and Kmart.

A simple pen? Walmart or Kmart or Staples (over the state line) or CVS.

Just about everything that I use every day, simple little items that I use every single day, are simply not sold in the downtown shopping district in my town.

What is sold? Well, lots of specialty items imported from Ireland, Scotland, and England. Along with specialty handmade items from South American artisans, which is a good thing, I guess. But they’re not the sort of things that one needs, precisely. Nice to have, but they don’t make the household gears run. Instead, we have tons of posters, touristy tee shirts, decorative items, over-priced antiques, local art (which IS a very good thing), a year ‘round Christmas shop full of decorations, a couple of jewelry stores (which don’t repair watches), an over-priced candle store, and a Starbucks. Everything in the downtown shopping district is geared to tourists who arrive with pockets full of cash or holiday shoppers who aren’t looking for practical everyday items. In other words, our downtown is no longer designed to serve the residents who live here (with the exception of a few restaurants). If we want to buy something we need, we have to get in the car and go elsewhere to buy it.

I’m not really sure whether this is the result of Kmart and Walmart moving in or whether Kmart and Walmart set up shop because local merchants in the surrounding small seaside towns decided to appeal to the large tourist trade and Kmart and Walmart saw a ripe niche.

But the bottom line is that our downtown district is useless to the town’s residents except, possibly, during the holidays. And the downtown merchants, meanwhile, freak out every year wondering if the price of fuel or the economy is going to prevent tourists from arriving by the thousands or if the weather and other factors are going to keep people away during the holiday shopping season. Autumn and spring are pretty fallow seasons for the merchants.

At some point a long the way, between the global climate changes and the increasing cost and scarcity of fuel, that will have to change. Maybe we should get a head start. In any case, it really is astounding that an entire downtown shopping district in a small city of nearly 20,000 people does not offer anything useful for the town residents’ daily lives. I mean, it *is* astounding isn’t it? Is there a better example of commerce designed around conspicuous consumption?


New neighbors and stuff

Thursday, 3:53 pm

By Kate





New neighbors moved in across the street today. Not wanting to get things off on the wrong foot, I tried very hard not to press my nose to the window. But it’s always so interesting to see what people have as the moving truck is unloaded. I think the new owner is a very young woman.

At first I thought she was an older teenage daughter, but she appears to be the one directing activities and she is the one greeting the neighbors as they stop by to say hello. Interesting. When I first moved here, we were mostly single mothers with young children. Now, 12 years later, there are many fewer children and most of the homes have been sold to a mix of singles and couples in the 50 to 60+ age set.

I suppose that’s a feature of the way real estate prices rocketed over the past few years. When the prices were lower, these houses made good starter homes for young couples and singles. Now, they seem to be retirement nests for those who had some capital socked away. Over the past couple of years, they have added on to their homes and made significant home and landscape improvements. That was the latest trend. So that all makes me curious about the new owner. How exactly does a single early-20-something afford a house that’s...well...a lot more expensive than most single early-20-somethings can afford? It’s none of my business, but you never know. It could come up in conversation.... I’ll stop by in the next day or two to say hello, too. She’s very friendly and had my arms not been loaded down with stuff when I came home earlier, I’d have stopped to do more than exchange pleasant greetings.


Today is the Pay-Per-View premiere of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” on DirecTV. I discovered that with DirecTV I can TiVo a pay per view program. What isn’t clear is if the recorded program has a time limit. There was nothing on the DirecTV web site that said there was. It only said that the programs could be TiVoed. If there isn’t any time limit built in to the recorded program, I’ll convert it to video tape. I’m kind of thinking Al Gore wouldn’t mind. I look forward to viewing it. And will probably want to view it more than once.


The new Adult Education brochure landed in my mailbox today. I’m torn between taking another Stained Glass class with the same teacher, the Basic Conversational French class, or the early history of my seaport town (it dates back to the late 1600s). But then, there’s a horseback riding class, too, which is something I’d love, love, love to do. It’s been many years since I’ve been on a horse. It might be comical to see me hobbling around the day after the first class, if I were to take it. As I recall, horseback riding exercises muscles in places you didn’t even know you had. Oh, and there’s the Healthy Organic Gardening class with a local ecological landscape designer who understands gardening in SAND. Too many choices.


Just thinking out loud

Wednesday, 8:05 pm

By Kate





Yesterday afternoon I cooked a delicious turkey with all the fixins. The meal turned out superbly and there were two well-filled and happy people afterwards. Cleaning up didn’t take too long because I prescribe by the notion of cleaning up pots and pans as I go along so that I’m not faced with an overwhelming task when the meal is finished. My only complaint is that the meal is over in a fraction of the time it takes to prepare it. In any case, when all was cleaned up, there was a lot of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing left over. I’d planned for that.

Last night a crowd of hungry kids arrived. Not that they were hungry when they walked through the door, necessarily, but after being here for a few hours, they worked up an appetite.

This morning, there was little left of that turkey besides bones. Looks like a pack of vultures attacked it. The potatoes were also gone as were the stuffing and gravy. I admit that I enjoy watching kids eat. They do it with such gusto. There’s still enough left to make turkey soup, so I’ll be prepared for the next wave.

I like having the kids here. They like being here. Feeding them is small price to pay to make sure they’re safe and out of trouble. Kids cruising in cars late at night is a recipe for trouble. So, when they’re here, they are out of reach of trouble. And they have fun. In a couple of years I suppose that will change, but for right now, it works.

Tomorrow the lad returns to his Dad’s house for a couple of days. And over the weekend he’s going up to New Hampshire to stay with some friends at what the family calls a cottage. I’d call it a huge farmhouse with a hot tub and sauna, but whatever. So it’s going to be a quiet-ish week for me and that works, too. The house needs a bit of tidying up and I have some of my own projects to attend to.

Meanwhile...looks as if President Ford died yesterday. I always liked him despite his faults and shortcomings. He seemed like a decent man, maybe a bit humble with a genuine air of kindness, yet he didn’t shy away from telling us when things weren’t good. Maybe he wasn’t a memorable president in terms of presidential accomplishments, but I’d happily take a President Ford any day over what we have. I really did like him.

I wonder if it will ever occur to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave that accomplishment is only a small part of a person’s legacy. Even supposing that he believes Iraq is any kind of accomplishment. Kindness and decency and compassion are what seem to be remembered when all is said and done. I’m not too sure those are qualities that he values very much. Of course, if they were, we wouldn’t be where we are, I guess.


Houseful of contentment

Monday, 3:58 pm

By Kate





Christmas is pretty much over here except for the wrappings on the floor and the array of loot to play with. In terms of loot, we did pretty well to temper ourselves this year and there was much less under the tree than usual, but there was an extra present sent to Heifer International this year in both our names. Someone will receive a llama and a honeybee setup from us. That made us feel good and it will make someone else feel good, too. I was, in fact, a little surprised to hear the lad mention that as one of the coolest of our gifts when he talked with some of his friends today. That makes me very pleased.

The lad is, of course, thrilled to death with his PS2 Guitar Hero II game, but less than thrilled that his PS2 decided that today was the day that it would die, never to be resuscitated. Fortunately for him, a bunch of Best Buy gift cards came streaming in from various family quarters, so I think he has that covered. He patiently waits (with a few rough moments) for tomorrow morning to arrive. But he’s waiting in comfort because of all the thick wool socks he received. Including the sandal socks for his Berkies. What a hippie.

Me? I’m happier than a pig in [stuff] because I now have Season 1 and Season 2 of Stargate:SG1 to view at my leisure. In order. My favorite TV show of all time, think what you will. Oh and the book, The New Diary (I’m already a third of the way through it), and the most comfy pair of Joe Boxer flannel drawstring lounge pants.

We also decided that, since we had a rather late start to the day, Christmas dinner will be postponed until tomorrow. That works for me. It’s all nibbles and leftovers today. No one is going to go hungry, that’s for sure. And Terry is happy to have had some leftovers and a HUGE new bone to gnaw on. She probably won’t come up for air for at least a few more hours. Abbie...well, she has a new catnip mouse, but curling up in the middle of the wrapping paper for a long winter’s nap is much more appealing.

Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether I’ll get my heart’s desire during the remainder of the year. I wrote out my 2006 Christmas List last night for Santa and left the sticky note attached to the (cold) wood stove beside a plate of scrumptious cookies:

US out of Iraq this year.
GeeDubya and Dead Eye Dick impeached.
Democrats grow some.
War profiteering aggressively prosecuted as a felony.
Bill Kristol loses his voice.

A girl can dream.

Ahh...the lad found a friend with a PS2 and so massive noise is about to begin vibrating the walls. Happy Day!


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