You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2010.

We’re having a traditional Thanksgiving here:

A Thanksgiving ground blizzard, 2010

A little Thanksgiving ruckus, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a bag of Cheddar JalapeƱo Cheetos at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

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You just never know what you’re capable of until your back is against the wall, the chips are down and … I’m out of cliches.

(BTW, my unhelpful spell checker doesn’t recognize “cliche.” It keeps saying “do you mean ‘chicle’?” Which is, according to my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate, a type of gum used in chewing gum … and, omg, now we know where the name Chiclets comes from. My other word option is “cloche,” which the dictionary says is a transparent plant cover to protect from frost. Who knew it had a name other than clear plastic thingy? No, dear spell checker, neither option is viable, but if you could tell me how to put that pretentious French accent mark on the word I do want, that would be useful. kthnx.)

Meanwhile, back to the mundane part of my story. I needed to move where I feed horses this winter because some of my hay is dusty from the alfalfa leaves crumbling when it was baled, and I wanted to be near a water source in case I had to drag a hose out and water the hay a bit. However, this meant feeding two of the horses at a tight spot in their pen where I had an electric fence around this scraggly old willow tree. This would not do — horses being horses and prone to crabbing about who has the best bite of hay or the nicest place to stand or if somebody’s looking at someone else funny or getting their cooties on somebody else. Horses are like that.

I didn’t want the horses to get into this bind. Plus, the new attitude in the humans around here as we work to clean up the place is: screw it, get rid of it.

So after 21 years of this pitiful tree being in the way in the horse pen and despite my love of all things tree out here on the prairie, I ripped the poor sucker out of the ground.

I know, right? It was older than me, like a little grandmother of trees, and I just went for the throat. Unconscionable. I still can’t believe I did it. I am a horrible person, an evil force of destruction.

It’s been 10 days, and I still feel guilty. I wrote an homage to the dearly departed tree, had it published out in the world, and then put it in the Write On folder linked at the top of this page. It didn’t really make me feel better. I’m guessing it didn’t make little willow tree feel any more alive either.

Is there a twelv-step program for the chronically guilty? at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

This has been a really hectic week, and, yes, that’s totally an excuse for ditching you, dear Readers.

I feel like I should be sitting in a hot tub, drinking beer and hitting some pot while I write a recounting of this week.

Going into last weekend, weather prognosticators were using words like “snow,” “high wind,” “freezing cold,” “wind chill,” “drifting” and “below zero.” I was using words like “huh?” and “what the hell.” And I was scrambling to get the last-minute winter prep done.

Sunday was probably my crowning glory when it took me all day to build a wooden box. In my defense, it required using reclaimed creosote-treated lumber, figuring complex angles, compensating for layers and overlaps of different materials, and scalloping the edge with a protractor and a jigsaw to fit lumber and corrugated roofing butted up to corrugated siding. Still … All. Day. Oi.

And then there was going out at dark to help gut, drag and hang Niece the Shootist’s honkin’ big 5×6 buck that she bagged at dusk. Dang if that child didn’t do an awesome job of keeping her cool and pitching in. I was just disappointed that I didn’t get to use my horse to haul the thing out. Sure, it might’ve been a rodeo, but how does that detract from the fun? Besides, I was betting that she’d be awesome, too. Whatever. It was just me and the niece dragging 180 lbs of carcass through the brush. We’re stout. And useful. We had it covered.

Then the winter storm hit. There was blowing and rain until there was snow and drifting and vehicles sliding into the ditches and coming to rest against poles. Luckily, no one was hurt badly and none of it involved me. I had more winter prep to do because we weren’t as ready as we thought. And, of course, this work had to be done bundled into layers of warm and fluffy clothing. I looked like the love child of Carhartt Inc. and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man.

Random View: The temperature reading from last night.

There will be more of what you see in that picture, only more brrr-ish, this week — that is technically the end of autumn.

Then we had a family tragedy. So there was that.

I tried to make sticky buns for people who might want comfort food to munch on, but when the recipe calls for “cook & serve” pudding mix, you can’t substitute instant. Call me a liar and test my outcome if you must, but I’m telling you, the results are not the same. I’m not saying it’s unpalatable, I’m just saying you don’t want to share the results in public. You stop at the local bread shop to get a loaf of gourmet bread for the munching instead. I’m resourceful in a crisis.

And riddled throughout the week was the need to make an inordinate number of phone calls to strangers, and regular Readers know how I love me some interaction with people who don’t know how to deal with the social challenged. It’s hard enough for people who do know me to get through a conversation with me without saying, “huh?” and “what the hell.”

As if that wasn’t enough with the phone awkwardness, we received two inordinately out-of-left-field-type calls that, frankly, have the potential to be life-altering.

I know that’s cryptic, and I wouldn’t mention the calls like a tease without the full-frontal reveal, except I really wanted to say that it’s odd how two totally unrelated calls on separately monumental things just came in the same week, an already full week, making me say, “huh?” and “what the hell.” And they consumed more time and energy, created more angst. Like I didn’t have enough to keep me awake at night.

Life is so totally weird sometimes, it can make me look normal.

Now I just want to get on with the future, get this party started.

I say: Damn the autumn, full winter ahead at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

First, it’s not too late to hug a veteran. In fact, hug one every day. Just saying. They fight for my right to sit here and spew sarcasm on the Interwebs, and that rocks.

Second, I’m still in the clear over my last column with no complaints recorded, and that rocks my socks for sure.

Third, check out these old dudes who not only rock, but they could also kick my ass, especially Seymour Duckman, 88. You’ll see. These people are competitors in senior Olympics, and I’m not talking wheelchair races and walker wars. They are getting out there to run races, throw shot put, high jump and pole vault. I’m telling you, the 87-year-old babe with the javelin looks like she could skewer you through the heart at 300 hundred yards, so if you sass her, you better zigzag when you run for your life. The photos are by Angela Jimenez for Getty Images, and they beautifully capture the moments, the intensity, the spirit. She is officially on the stuffs that rock list too.

If you can’t get enough of the seniors making you feel both hopeful and inadequate at the same time, try this illustrated list of super senior wins. Min Bahadur Sherchan of Nepal rocks the world for climbing every 29,035 feet of Mount Everest at age 76 to show support for world peace. I think I ate a donut for world peace last year. I obviously need to change my ways.

I’m eating another donut for peace today at: pam@viewfromthenorth40.com

I don’t know.

I had a personal to-do last Friday at work when the publisher told me that he couldn’t allow my column to run. I was all, like, huh? Looking like a deer in the headlights. B-b-bu-but why? (Knowing full-well why, but disagreeing and still feeling a little trepidatious … even though my dictionary says that isn’t a word.)

Boss man invited me into his office to let me try to convince him otherwise. Yeah, we have a history of me arguing points, and yeah, of course I jumped at the opportunity. He’d tipped his hand by telling me I had a chance to convince him. I totally knew he wanted me to talk him out of it.

So what was the big deal about? Prostitution.

His argument? Which he did preface with, “I think you’re funny, and I’m not offended personally, but …” 1) Apparently prostitution isn’t a topic fit for normal family entertainment, and 2) He’s new to the area and small towns in rural states in general so worried that the surprising local election wins of ultra-conservative, right-wing candidates indicated that area folks would not be receptive to said topic. And, though he never did say specifically during our conversation, I think he was worried as much or more about the way in which I expressed views on the topic as he was about said topic itself.

But I countered with 1) It’s not like I’m advocating prostitution [True, but still …]. OK, fine, there’s 2) My regular readers will not be shocked by this article … probably. [But I’m not worried about your regular readers, and you’ve never written a column like this before]. Oh but, 3) I did write about the moose poop guy [Moose poop is nothing like this.] doing everything under the sun I could to all but say “shit.” And there was the drunken breastfeeding woman [Breastfeeding’s nothing—] in which I said: “How drunk do you have to be to feed a breast?” [ …] “Hope she didn’t use a fork.” [ … (his face clearly indicated that he wanted a do-over on OKing that one.] But still [I don’t know, I’m not convinced. I don’t want to have to be answering a bunch of angry letters … .] so 4) We printed three or four news articles in the regular part of the paper about the brouhaha over proposed changes to the sex-ed program in Helena that used a lot more graphic and disconcerting language than I used. Phrases like “gay love,” “oral sex,” “vagina,” “anal penetration” … . At which point he relented, probably just to make me shut up.

Nevertheless, props to the boss for ending with a chuckle and saying: “But if I get any angry letters, you’re writing the replies.”

So then I worried all weekend that someone was going to call in or write a complaint. Not that I mind so much that someone complains, I just really didn’t want to ruin my office cred. It would totally count against me in any future arguments. “Yeah,” he’d say, “but remember how wrong you were about the prostitution?” And that would be the end of the discussion. It was nerve-wracking.

I wanted to share the column here, but also wanted to give it a true test in the public without skewing opinion with this backstory, so held it until now. The column hasn’t generated a complaint so far, though this blog entry will probably cause some ripple in the cosmic pool of irony, inspiring a letter of complaint tomorrow. If it happens, I guess I’ll follow through with my plan: Argue to have the complaint printed on the opinion page to see if it causes any other reactions. No that’s not an evil plan, I’m just fascinated by the newspaper-community interaction process.

In the meantime, you can find the actual column word-for-word via the “Write On” page link at the top of this page. (And I emphasize TOP! for those of you who are like my husband and can’t grasp my words either through lack of understanding, attention, or belief that one must use the link at the TOP! not the one on the left side.)

FTB, For the Blog! at pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

So if you were like me this morning, standing there proofing the newspaper — because, let’s face it, everybody proofs the paper in the morning — and you were looking at the sunrise/sunset times and thinking that someone was laying a little lying down on you about when exactly the sun was to be setting today, there’s this: A sunrise/sunset calendar, compiler, calculator thingy.

Maybe I was a little rummy because of the long weekend (it was one hour longer, y’know), but I just kept staring at the weather/almanac box and doing the time-change math in my head (repeating the “spring forward, fall backward” saying like a mantra), trying to figure out if the sun really was setting before 5 p.m. today, or if someone had screwed up. It took an inordinate, and embarrassing, long bit of time to get that figured out.

After the math fail, I had to draw a diagram, and then I had to look it up at the linked site above. And then I had to double confirm the answer by looking it up on another of our weather service sites.

It’s true, the sun set at 4:49 p.m. today in Havre. Where I live. In the dark.

I say the sun should live it up more often and stay out later in the winter. We could teach it to ski and ice skate in all the extra time.

The sun is so lazing in the winter when I need it most at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

They made the weekend bite.

Yeah, so the mice predicted that the last of the warm days were coming to an end and moved into the house Saturday evening. We caught three in about two hours. Others lost their lives in the slaughter.

I was sitting in the living room and kept hearing funny noises that I decided must be John clanking around outside the house up by the kitchen — this is a rickety old trailer house, you hear stuff. Then I heard the distinctive sound of a piece of dog food clanking in Cooper’s metal dish. Of all the stuff one hears in a trailer house, that shouldn’t be one of them when no known or permitted permanent occupants of the home, two-legged or four, are actually in the kitchen.

I checked the traps, and, huh, we already had caught one of the dirty little beggars. So I gave him a decent (enough) burial (in the dumpster), said a few kind words over him (“that’ll learn ya for good”), and came back to the house to re-bait traps. Caught two more right away and a third a few hours later, then another overnight. Caught a couple out in my tack shed too. Burials got progressively less heartfelt (no words, kind or otherwise), more utilitarian (just chuck the next corpse into the bin and re-bait).

The crew that invaded the house, must’ve went streaking directly to the kitchen and straight into the traps with only one making it around to the dog’s dish. So there’s that.

But, y’know, what home invasion is complete without the White Trash Estate’s perennial favorite: fleas. Yes, indeed, it was a banner weekend.

Cooper decided to do his part in furry rodent eradication and went after the bunnies which are, well, thick as fleas this fall and, apparently, thick with fleas right now. I can just see those damn fleas cussing as they get knocked off a bunny that’s runny in through the grass, evading our mighty hunter, the brick bullet Cooper. “Great! Where am I supposed to find a warm body to bite at this time of the day out here in all this friggin’ tall grass and metal crap? Oh, hey! A dog!!” And the flea flings itself like an acrobat at Cooper, grabbing flea-fists of hair as it makes contact with his new host. “Serendipity!”

Then, of course, Cooper brought the weekend’s one little freeloader into the house — where he asked to cuddle on my lap (because he can’t run fast enough chasing bunnies to warm is blood). And I live to serve. In fact, it’s the only reason I sit in my recliner, really, just to be there to warm up Cooper.

Then the little bastard gave me a flea. On. My. Face.

The only good news is that a flea on the face is easy to catch and dispatch. Sad that I know this, right? But the truth is: I’d rather not get them in the first place. Really.

So that happened at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Because I am a sucker for the sweet stories:

Feeling down about the world? Feel like your fellow man is filled with nothing but hatin’ on people not like him? Need to know there are people out there who you can point to and say, “You are my heroes. I love you guys. I really do.” Then go see this:

An older couple in Nova Scotia, Canada, won $11 million in the lottery, and they gave the money away and felt better for it because they have each other and everything they think they could possibly need. Didn’t make you cry yet? Or want to rush to visit the website links? Yeah, well, Allen and Violet Large found out they won just before she had her last chemo treatment and her cancer operated on. He just lamented that the money couldn’t by her perfect health. I want to send them a Christmas present, and adopt them, grow up in such a way that I make them proud.

If you get through the two stories (the second one was filmed after Mrs. Large’s surgery) without at least choking up, you are made of foreign material which is alien to Pamville, USA. I’m not even sure you’re hooman.

Don’t wipe your nose on your hand, you have a sleeve at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Do you ever wonder about how all the many facets of our characteristics define our interests? And if there’s a point at which our interests begin to define us? And if the Universe at some point is joining in to guide our destiny? I think it happens.

Here’s an illustration of my point: I’m physically strong, I was raised outdoors and with animals, I’m introverted, but I really enjoy the bonds I develop with a few special friends, I like figuring out puzzles, matters of trust and responsibility are serious business to me, and I have a rich, dreamy love of the fantastic. This is a portion of my mix of characteristics.

For me, this all foretells a hopeless addiction to horses. It’s a physical activity, outdoors, with animals. I can ride alone with my horse with whom I like developing a bond and figuring out how to train and with my horse-loving friends, and the training process is all about developing a trust between human and horse. Most importantly in this example, horses seem to me to be the most fantastical creature on earth. I loves them. All things considered, they are my precious.

In other words, my characteristics helped define my interest in horses.

But my interests helped define me. Through horses, I learned that I like to teach. I don’t think I had a particular aptitude for it before learning to train horses and then riders, to be honest. Training a horse, a dog, a riding student, a writing student, not much difference in them.

I discovered this hidden talent — or at least an interest — because of the horses, but really if you go back to that first list of my characteristics I have to admit that I might not be much of an outdoors person if it weren’t for the horses. I’m lazy so wouldn’t be hiking, or doing other sports (which I’m not all that interested in anyway). I don’t particularly like fishing, definitely don’t like killing so hunting would be out. I do like to read so would probably be spending more time indoors doing that, which I would be doing had I lived in town (because I didn’t have to live in the country for my horses). And if I lived in town, maybe I would like to go camping more to get out into the country, and maybe I would’ve spent more time early on writing for the public if I hadn’t been galloping around … and fixing fences … and doing other fun horsey stuff. Endless are the ways in which I and my life would be different without horses.

But maybe I was destined to have horses in my life. Was it cosmic influence to bring horses and me together that brought John and I together? Because I didn’t know until months after I met him, after our first date even, that he’d grown up riding horses and that he even had the means to take me riding. Of all the guys I could’ve gotten together with, why someone with horses, which were my first love from when I was 4?

Now you can kind of see what I mean, right. What about us defines our interests? What about our interests defines us? How is it that these things tie in with the energy that guides our lives?

Deep stuff for a Monday morning, I know. Hang on though, because this series of questions came about as an opening to this question, the big question, the thing I’m really burning to know: If I weren’t so attuned to irony, would my life be easier?

My personality and circumstances of my life definitely draw me toward the humorous and non-humorous elements of irony. This in turn became internalized (and is often expressed through sarcasm, irony’s conjoined twin), and became part of who I am, how I define myself and how people identify me.

The most important part of this theory, though, is this: How is it that irony ties in with the energy that feeds my life? Because I’m thinking that the Universe focuses a considerable amount of its irony vibes directly at me. Like I’m a lightning rod for ironic occurrences.

I’m just saying because, y’know, I told you in a post last week about finding two things: the picture of K-Pam in my email and my long-lost glasses which were in my coat pocket. I was all excited and totally ready to go buy a lottery ticket based on these random, happy turns of events, but now …

I have lost two things: one of my favorite winter riding gloves and a gigantic filling that I’ve had for more than 30 years out of one my favorite molars that I’ve had for just a little bit longer.

I am both finder keeper and loser weeper all in one week. What the hell is that all about?

Yeah, that’s really funny, Universe. You crack me up. No really, I’m cracked. Thanks.

Is it too late to develop a passion for futures trading? at pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com