Cider Press Hill

Sarah Who?

Friday, 10:33 pm

By Kate





After nearly a week of listening to the various speeches (each one better than the last) at the Democratic National Convention on the radio, I plopped myself in front of a television last night to watch the finale—Barack Obama’s speech. To put it mildly, I was manifestly impressed. Thrilled even. About the best I’ve felt in eight years. In fact, the speech was so good that even Pat Buchanan and Bill Kristol raved about it. My jaw just about hit the floor.

It was a lovely evening and the glow carried over into today.

And then…

McCain announced his VP pick. Sarah Palin. Said I to myself, “Who?”

Ah yes, the Governor of Alaska who is, apparently, a true Republican. She’s mired in a scandal up to her eyebrows. Something about firing the state Public Safety Commissioner for refusing to fire her sister’s ex-husband, a state trooper. Palin is currently under investigation for abuse of power. Inasmuch as IOKIYAR, she’d fit right in with the west wing crowd.

Sarah Palin, who served 4 years as the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (population 9,000) and 1.5 years as governor, is an anti-choice ‘feminist’, a pro-oil/anti-polar bear ‘conservationist’, and a fundie who doesn’t see any oxymoron in creationist science.

When I first heard the news, I was baffled. The last I’d heard, the media had the scoop that Pawlenty was McCain’s VP pick. Maybe that was last night before the results of the Democratic Convention started to sink in.

Obama got a respectable bump in the polls.

I wonder if Sarah Palin was an 11th hour pick. Many Republicans appeared to be rather stunned. Karl Rove must be apoplectic. (I’d love to have been a fly on his wall...) Sarah certainly gave the media something to buzz about today.

McCain needed to do something Amazing to distract the media from Obama. Sarah is certainly amazing. With a fraction of the experience that Obama has, she has turned Republican talking points about Lack Of Experience all topsy turvy. Although, as one Fox News pundit pointed out today, she has foreign policy experience because she lives right next door to Russia! Be that as it may, dear Fox Pundit, she readily admitted before cameras that she doesn’t even know what a Vice President does. I suppose some might think that’s being refreshingly candid. Not I, but maybe some.

I think McCain is short a coupla marbles.


Enough to break my heart

Saturday, 9:04 am

By Kate





The lad departed for school this morning. His Dad came to pick him up with a vehicle large enough to haul all his stuff and even at that, it was a tight fit. My house still looks as though the lad might walk back through the door at any minute—a pair of shoes here, a pair over there, the discarded backpack, a few piles of tee shirts. It’ll take me a few days to put things back in apple pie order. And while I thought I might feel pretty sad when he left, I’m surprisingly okay. What I am, however, is very concerned about his girlfriend.

She has been here a lot this past week and, to tell you the truth, it was sort of like watching someone prepare for the gallows. She desperately tried to keep a stiff upper lip, but it kept wobbling. Yesterday, she finally dissolved and sobbed her heart out. I felt so, so, so sorry for her. The more the lad tried to comfort her, the harder she cried. The lad wasn’t exactly the model of stoicism, either. He was rattled right to the core.

She took him to work last evening and they said their final goodbyes. It was a very tough evening for both of them.

When he came home, he wanted to talk about it. I asked if he’d left her with anything of know, like maybe a tee shirt or something. No, he hadn’t, but he recalled how she’d put on one of his sweatshirts the other evening and told him how much she liked it because it smelled like him. I said, “Well, maybe you could pick out one of your tee shirts, sleep in it, and then attach a note to it. I can have her come and get it or drop it off at her house. I think she’d really like having that little bit of you to hold until Christmas.”

Well, he jumped on that idea, but couldn’t decide which tee shirt. I suggested one of his school tee shirts. I have one and they’re really thick cotton and really comfortable. I’m pretty sure she’d like it. He grabbed one out of the fresh laundry pile and pulled it on. It seemed to make him feel better, too.

So, he’s gone now, but he left her his tee shirt with a sweet note pinned to it. He said he’d call her this evening, so I expect she might pop over in the next 24 hours. I hope to see her doing a little better than she was doing yesterday.

Her Mom stopped by two days ago while I was puttering around outside. First time that we’ve officially met. Interesting. She’s a warm and vibrant woman...I liked her immediately. She said she’d been meaning to stop by...she wanted to finally meet the lad’s Mom. We talked about the kids and both noted that something definitely changed this summer. They were kind of casual about things in the last year or so, owing to the distance between them during the school year (she’s in Scotland and he’s in PA). I told her that I’d noted the change about mid-way through summer. Whenever Becca came over, the lad’s face lit up like a 200 watt bulb. Same thing whenever they talked on the phone. Becca’s mom said she’d seen the same thing. This has been a hard week. Breaks her heart to see her daughter hurt so much and I told her it wasn’t much better on this end. We laughed a bit, observing that it’s bad enough missing them when they leave, but this is a whole new development and it’s really hard to feel their pain on top of it.

Boy, they don’t tell you about these things in the Parent’s Manual.


Never too late to learn

Thursday, 2:12 pm

By Kate





File this one under ‘the things you learn when you least expect it’ and hallelujah for that!

See this picture?

This is a detail of a photo I ran across last night in a Vermont newspaper (while reading my energy blogs). This is a picture of a simple woodpile...with a difference.

For as long as I’ve been stacking wood, it just never occurred to me to add a balanced woodpile ender to my woodpiles, like the one in this picture. I’ve tried hammering stakes in the ground or wrapping my woodpiles with ropes or depending on luck to prevent my precariously balanced ends from tumbling down. My luck runs about 50% on that score. Although I’ve gotten rather good at balancing the ends of my woodpiles, there is still such a thing as gravity and it quite often wins.

This morning I tried that woodpile ender idea on one of my stacks and what do you know. It really works. It seems to make gravity work for me instead of against me.

It has only taken me eight years to discover this elegantly simple idea. Better late than never.


Two-plus cords down

Wednesday, 12:25 pm

By Kate





So, on Monday morning, my wood guy dumped three cords of wood in my driveway and it looked somewhat generous. Just by eyeballing it, I thought there was a bit more than last year. I also noted that this year the quality is a bit better and that’s saying something because this fellow sells some of the best wood around. I spent most of Monday looking at the huge pile taking up my entire driveway. Didn’t start stacking until yesterday.

It was a perfect day for it. The temps were in the low seventies and the humidity was down around 50%. And there were no mosquitoes.

The lad and I have a pretty good system. He fills the wheelbarrow to capacity and dumps the load at my feet by the woodpile. I stack and he delivers. And, as luck would have it, his girlfriend decided to come over and help. And she brought fresh coffee! Ooh, what a sweetheart! Between the three of us, we knocked off two-plus cords about four hours. We hustled right along. And observed that the wood was quite heavy. Most of it, this year, is oak and the splits are large. And wet. It’s nice seasoned wood, but it sat out in the summer rain, of which we’ve had an abundance. Let me tell you, large wet oak splits are heavy. Four hours was about as much as my back was willing to tolerate. I’m pleased that it tolerated that much. I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction gazing on my very large and neatly stacked woodpiles last evening. The lad left to spend the night at his Dad’s house and wood stacking will halt until Thursday. I’m giving my back a day of rest. In the meantime, there’s always grass to be mowed.

Becca said she’d be back on Thursday to help stack the rest and she’s bringing her brother with her. ‘Tween now and then, I need to figure out where to put the rest of the wood. My designated woodpile area (in the back of the house) is filled. I had not expected it to be filled with this much wood left over. According to my calculations and past experience, the three cords should have mostly fit. So, it’s pretty clear to me that my wood guy gave me some generously sized ‘cords’. There are probably two more 8’x6’ stacks worth to tuck somewhere around here.

You know, it was kind of interesting. I’ve noted in the past that my wood guy is remarkably good looking. And he’s always been really nice to me. Sort of shy and a little gruff, but really nice. And I always thought there was a bit of an attraction there. Nothing that I ever dwelt on for more than five minutes, but it was there. And then, this year, he turns up all dressed to the nines, gives me a rather larger than expected delivery of prime wood...then says, quietly, out of the blue, “So, will you think of me this winter?”

Uhh. Hm. “With every stick I burn,” I said solemnly. Well, maybe with a grin, too.

Sometimes I am very surprised by the things that come winging out of left field.

Anyhoo. My driveway should be all cleaned up and back to normal within a day or two. And, in between wood concerns, we’re also preparing the lad to go back to school. He leaves on Saturday and we are madly racing around getting his stuff together and a few purchases made. He’s also working right up until Friday. Busy week. This has been a really great summer and it disappeared awfully fast. I have a feeling this may be the last such summer. 


My winter wood order

Thursday, 7:06 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

This afternoon I called my wood guy to put my winter order in. I caught him on the road on the way back from Maine. He’d gone up today to deliver a load. That’s quite a distance to travel for a load of wood, but he charged a lot for it, too—$360 per cord. People in Maine have found a dearth of available wood this year and they are going far afield to get some. They’re willing to pay the price since $360 per cord is still vastly cheaper than heating oil.

I’ve placed my order for 3 cords, which will arrive in my driveway either on Monday or Tuesday. He’s charging me $325 per cord—about what I expected given the high cost of diesel and gasoline.

Interesting note about wood availability. My wood guy said that with new housing construction going in the tank, trees aren’t being cut as they used to be. He’s having a harder time getting trees to cut up and split and anticipates that the trend will continue over the next few years. Being a long time customer has its benefits. Those of us who have been long time customers get first dibs on his supply. My wood guy calls me a couple of times a year to ask if I need a late winter load (before he sells to new customers) or will need an autumn load before he commits for the year. New customers are going to have to scramble for what’s left over.

I expect that one of these years, there isn’t going to be enough wood to go around even for his established customers.


Steamed brains, not buns

Monday, 12:21 pm

By Kate





Last evening I carried my laptop up to bed with me so I could watch a streaming video. One of the ads on the video was for Caesar’s Atlantic City. The ad stressed their high thread count sheets with a little bit of sexy tossed in. And there was a disturbing edge to it, too. At the end of the ad, I clicked over to see what Caesar’s is pitching.

Welllllll. Is it a fair assumption to say that Caesar’s patronage must be mostly male? Their marketing department has clearly made the decision to market to males with the apparent belief that most of their brains truly are below their belts and women just don’t have any at all, not that they’re apparently necessary.

Their website is creepy. And insulting.

I thought maybe it was just me and the hour. I checked the website this morning and nope. Still creepy.

I hate to burst your creative bubble Caesar’s, but, with your disturbing attitude toward women, your casino is the last place on earth I’d park my buns—freshly steamed or otherwise. I wouldn’t want any significant other of mine there, either.

You can stuff your silky I-can’t-thread-count-that-high sheets, too.


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