Cider Press Hill

Surrounded by stupid

Monday, 9:27 pm

By Kate

Jun

30

2008

partly cloudy

Even without a television, I can’t escape all the babble and screeching going on in the media about poor Wesley Clark’s misguided statement: “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

Misguided only because he left himself wide open for concerned parties to throw sensational hissy fits over it.

I’m so sorry that John McCain got shot down and spent five years in Hanoi Hilton. I am. No one should have had to endure that. But you know, that was 40 years ago. Time marches on and just what does being a POW forty years ago have to do with the price of eggs (which were $4.99 at my grocery store this weekend)? He’s the one running on his war record and POW status rather than on his vision for the future. The media eat it up with great big spoons.

Have the media happened to notice lately that things in this country are in bad shape? I’m sure it’s more fun to write about so-called scandalous statements that seem to be mostly of interest to the insulated and privileged journos, but come on.

It’s getting rough out here. Gasoline is well over $4 a gallon here. Diesel is over $5. Heating oil is $5/gallon. Natural gas has taken a leap upward. Electricity has taken a huge leap upward. Food has taken a monstrous leap upward. And probably will get monstrously worse after some 5 million acres of prime corn and soybean crops got washed away this past month in Iowa and immediate environs. Corn prices have already exploded. Cattle eat corn, too. Watch meat prices soar now. Watch ranchers slaughter their herds because they can’t afford to feed them this winter. Iowa is, incidentally, the leading corn producing state in the US—and one of the leading exporters.

We also have a teensy credit problem ongoing in the country. We have foreclosures at record highs. Consumer confidence is in the crapper. We have people living in their cars and in tent and parking lot cities. We have bank failures happening and more about to happen. More and more economists are starting to talk about a total banking system collapse in the near future. Scares the hell out of me. It’s beginning to make the Great Depression sound quaint.

Does anyone in the media care? Beats me. They can’t seem to focus on anything important. No one talks much about things coming apart at the seams. If they ignore it, maybe it’ll go away? I don’t think so. We are coming apart at the seams.

I agree with Wesley Clark. I just don’t find John McCain’s POW experience particularly germane to the overwhelming issues at hand in 2008. Middle Eastern terrorism isn’t the only war we’re fighting. Lots of people are just plain fighting for survival. Like the 125,000 households in Massachusetts who had their utilities terminated this summer because they can’t afford to pay—with thousands and thousands more about to hit a brick wall this coming winter.

What I want to know is what these political dudes plan to do about it. I want to know why the journalists and reporters aren’t asking questions about these things and demanding some on-the-record answers. I want to hear in-depth energy policies. Serious answers that have roots in reality and not in the most generous lobbyist’s purse. I’d like to see something that resembles Vision. They’re hard questions with hard answers, but being the president is no walk the park either. If they want the job, they need to offer us something relevant to current issues. After a certain point, I just don’t give a rip about what happened 40 years ago. Character only carries you so far. I want answers to things that are important here and now, dammit. And I want the journalists and reporters to care enough to Do Their Jobs.

I’ve been accused of being an idealist before, though.



 

Not as buggy as I thought

Saturday, 3:34 pm

By Kate

Jun

28

2008

overcast

After turning the household upside down over cockroaches that the lad and I thought hitched a ride home with him from school, I now believe that we over reacted a bit. We’re not dealing with regular house roaches.

I haven’t seen too many over the last week, but the other night one FLEW at the light on my dining room table. And I saw one clinging to the outside screen near the light. Yesterday, I snagged one that was near the back door, crawling up by the ceiling. I took that one over to a bright light and examined it closely. It was a plain light tan. Definitely a roach, but not a house roach.

So back to the internet to find out what other kinds of roaches inhabit places in the northeast. I now discover that we also have outdoor roaches that don’t breed in or nor live in houses. They like to live in the mulch and places like that. They are very light tan color and they are small...usually in the 1/4-1/2 inch range. Like mine. They are attracted to light and will try to find ways to get to the light, even in the house. And they do fly. Once in the house, they don’t know how to get out, but they don’t take up residence in the house. They’ll tend to cling to screens and hang out by the windows or light sources instead. Until they curl up their toes, I guess. But, when disturbed, they’ll run really, really fast...like most roaches. Still kinda creepy.

Coincidentally, I had a big load of mulch delivered a few days before I noticed the first one.

I went out to dig around in the mulch this morning. Lo and behold. That’s where they’re coming from. A free gift from my mulch guys. What a bonus. I’d like them to be gone, but haven’t come up with an appropriate way to do that yet. I’m not at all in favor of spraying poison all over everything outside. And boric acid isn’t a good outdoor solution because it’ll kill my plants. This is a new one on me. Have never had to try killing outdoor roaches before. I could have happily lived without the experience. On the other hand, the skunks might make themselves especially useful in this case. They have been rooting around in the mulch the past week or so. One could hope that nature might actually take care of it for me.



 

Pretty

Friday, 11:02 am

By Kate

Jun

27

2008

partly cloudy

I had another text message from the lad today, wondering if I could transfer some of his funds into his checking account. I told him sure, I’d even put in a little extra as long as he promises to buy me a little packet of really nice paper in Rome when he gets there. That’s fair, right? I think so.

This is one of the snaps from the ship’s cam early this morning. They were in Porto Venere, Italy. Have to admit that I wouldn’t mind waking up to this view.


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Phileas. What a surprise

Monday, 3:41 pm

By Kate

Jun

23

2008

thunderstorms

Meet my new object of unexpected pleasure—a Waterman Phileas fountain pen.

I did not expect to ever own one, even though I’ve eyed them in my various pen magazines over the years. They are relatively inexpensive pens, on the lower end of Waterman’s offerings. In my experience, usually you get what you pay for in a fountain pen and I’ve owned my share of cheap ones. And it all started innocently enough.

I’ve been without a fountain pen for a few weeks now. My workhorse of a pen, a Jade Green Sailor Magellan, started leaking like a sieve a couple of months ago. It was a simple matter of replacing the worn out ink converter. Nothing wrong with the pen itself. It took me a while to get a replacement converter. And then, it was time for some new ink. I’d used the last of my supply.

Finding a bottle of decent ink around here is no easy task. There are no stores that I’ve discovered yet that sell quality ink. Obviously, there must not be much demand for it in the general public. But, I valiantly sallied forth with hope in my heart. Stopped at Staples and they had one single solitary bottle of Parker Quink Black ink. Not a good match for my Sailor pen.

And then it happened. I raised my eyes a bit and there, sitting on the shelf, was a gift box with a shiny new Waterman Phileas fountain pen along with a bottle of Waterman Florida Blue ink and a converter and a couple of ink cartridges in pretty colors. Well, at least other than blue and black ink. There was a sign below the display telling me the gift boxes were on sale. Sharply discounted, even—as in almost giving them away. And I thought....well, it’s a beautiful looking pen and if it turns out to be a piece of junk, I won’t be out very much and I get a bottle of good ink out of the deal along with a converter that I can use in my other Waterman pen, which has been sitting dormant because I wore that converter out, too....

I brought the blue beauty home and filled her up. The moment of truth....the nib floated across the page as smoothly as any pen I’ve ever used. The terms ‘smooth as butter’ and ‘smooth as silk’ popped into mind. And that was surprise enough, but this is also a medium point nib and I am almost always a fine or extra fine nib kinda girl.

After a week of use, I’m completely sold. The Phileas is a great pen. I am still surprised. Cheap pens aren’t supposed to work that well. This one does. Writing with it is pure pleasure. The pen is perfectly balanced and comfortable in my hand. It delivers a dependable flow of ink...not too fast, but not stingy. Just right. And smooth. Soooo smooth. And really pretty. It just doesn’t look like a cheap pen by any measure.

If I’d known years ago what I know now....

Of course, when one has a delightful pen in hand, the next step is outfitting it with pretty ink.

I’ve been poking around online for ink. I think I’ve settled on a couple of colors. A Diamine ink called Umber—it’s a dark green, like the darkest green part of an avocado’s skin. And a pretty gray Sailor ink for my Sailor pen (called Jentle Gray). And Private Reserve’s Copper Burst and American Blue. They’ll hold me for a while. Maybe....



 

Oh dear

Monday, 3:07 pm

By Kate

Jun

23

2008

thunderstorms

The lad and his Dad are off to a not-so-auspicious start to their vacation. Their flight out of Boston was delayed a half an hour this afternoon and then cancelled. I haven’t heard any details about why, but I gather there’s not much hope of them making their connecting flight in New York in...oh...another hour, either. It’s a good thing they don’t have to be in Barcelona until Wednesday morning. This might take them a while....



 

Bon Voyage

Saturday, 7:34 pm

By Kate

Jun

21

2008

partly cloudy

So...after a very busy couple of days, I just said “Bon Voyage” to the lad. He’s off on a grand adventure for two weeks.

On Monday, he and his Dad fly to Barcelona to meet up with the rest of the family who have been cavorting about Europe for the past week. Sometime this week they’ll board a rather nice cruise ship (Crystal Cruises). For the next twelve days following, their ports of call will include Porto Venere, Rome, Sorrento, Katakolon, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Trieste, and Venice.

I am sort of trying to convince myself that I’m not envious. It’s not working very well, I must say.

On the other hand, the frugal energy nutcase side of me is horrified by the whole idea. The two sides will battle it out while the lad has a wonderful time. I’m pretty sure he will. He and his oldest step-bro have been texting each other madly today. Much excitement building.

Over the past few days, we’ve been racing hither and thither gathering up the papers he needs and documentation that proves he’s who he says he is. The funny thing (well, not so funny) is that most of these requirements are on the US side in order to get back into the country. I didn’t realize until the lad spoke (texted) with his step-bro today that US citizens don’t even have to go through customs in Spain. Go figure.

And, this afternoon, we went out and bought a bunch of cruise appropriate clothing because there IS a dress code. He already has the tux and the suit, but needed a couple pairs of dress pants and some nice polo shirts (all shirts worn on ship must have a collar) and a couple of pairs of casual shoes...not too casual, though. We had fun collecting the duds. He looked really cute in his jazzy attire.

Oh yeah, we also got his hair cut. The beard was non-negotiable and stayed. Trimmed, but very there.

So, Mom has a quiet house to herself again for a couple of weeks. At the moment, it seems a little too quiet, but I think I’ll adjust. My list of things to do while my floors are devoid of luggage and bags of stuff is quite long indeed.



 

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