LIFE GOES ON OUT IN THE COUNTRY – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

HOME IN THE COUNTRY: A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE, NANCY MERRILL


Last night, we met up with Garry’s brother Anton who was in the area on a work project. “In the area” was actually “in the state of Massachusetts.” If you tried to pick a location as far as possible from where we live … and still be in the same state (Massachusetts is small), you might just select Beverly. An 85 mile drive through Boston rush hour traffic found us on Cape Ann, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and manicured lawns and huge, restored houses on the other.

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The gated mansions  … some with actual gate houses … were a bit of clue that we had entered a different world.

Around our neck of the woods, when you see a gate, it’s there to keep something in or something else out. Cows in, coyotes out. Dogs in the yard, delivery people out. Chickens in, foxes out. Also, wild turkeys … outside, please.

(Those wild turkey want to be in with the chickens because the food is better. They do not call them turkeys for nothing.)

I commented that a “gated mansion” in our area is called a “farm with a big house.” A glorious rolling stretch of grass that leads to the river is called “a pasture” and usually contains cows, horses, the occasional llama, and less frequently, goats. Sometimes all of the above and maybe a visiting few deer who don’t mind sharing as long as no one shoots at them.

Mostly, we have cows and horses. Really big horses. Percheron and Clydesdale, the size of 10-ton trucks, but friendlier and certainly more fun to have around.

HERE’S YOUR HAT, WHAT’S YOUR HURRY

I used to be the Entertainment Queen of my crowd. It more than 40 years ago, but I was the hostess with the mostest. I fed the hungry, housed the homeless, cheered up the downhearted. I rescued cats, dogs, and lost people. No living creature was ever turned away. It got crowded.

Image: Mashable.com

Image: Mashable.com

One day, I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted some privacy. I didn’t want to clean up the mess or cook gigantic meals. I was tired of spending all my money on other people. The crowd that assembled nightly in my living room weren’t really friends. I had become a facility. A place to crash. Where there was always music, food, something to smoke and probably a good conversation and a sofa.

So I started locking my front door and asked people call before showing up. About half the crowd never came back … and I never missed them. Others drifted off in the course of time. A few are still my friends today.

Where friends … and guests … are concerned, quality is not necessarily quantity. Actually, these days? Less is definitely more.


And now, time for a classic Jewish joke:


A very poor man goes to his Rabbi complaining his house is too small and he can’t stand it any more. “What should I do?” he asks.

“Get a big dog,” advises the Rabbi.

Puzzled, the man buys a sheepdog and brings him home. The house is even more crowded, and the man returns to the Rabbi. “It’s worse,” he moans.

The Rabbi nods his understanding. “Get a goat. He can be friends with the dog. Oh, and get a cat too.”

Even more confused, the mad does as instructed. The house is unbearable. He returns to the Rabbi. “Please, Rebbe, it’s horrible at home. The dog, the cat, the goat … and it smells really bad.”

“I think you need a lamb,” says the Rabbi. “And a calf.”

DogsSlayThe BeastieDutiful to the end, the man gets a lamb and brings it home. The noise alone is deafening. There’s hair everywhere and the place stinks. Finally, he goes back to the Rabbi, now desperate for relief.

“Rabbi, OY VAY, IT’S TERRIBLE. The animals go all over the house and they chase each other. We have no peace, no privacy.”

“Get rid of all those animals,” orders the Rabbi. The man heaves a sigh of relief and the next week returns to see the Rabbi.

“Rebbe, it’s wonderful! We have so much room. The house is clean again. Life is wonderful!

GUEST | THE DAILY POST

FORBIDDEN? NAH. POSSIBLY INADVISABLE

By the time you  can say “Don’t forget my Senior Discount” without missing a beat, pausing for breath, or feeling the least bit embarrassed — there’s nothing forbidden left. You’ve either got no interest in it — if you ever did — or you’re sure it would kill you. Life remains more a priority than doing something dangerous. For fun. Or whatever.

This is a little bit like one of those “bucket list” questions. I don’t have a bucket list. I never did. In the course of life, if I wanted to do something and I could find a way of doing it, I did it. Sometimes it worked out well. Sometimes, not so great. These days, there are things I ponder.

I’d like to go to Paris, but that would mean flying. I hate flying. I hated flying years ago when it wasn’t so bad, but I hate it more now. It would also mean packing, planning, and financing the journey.

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Assuming we could come up with the money — you can always come up with money, but sometimes the cost exceeds the value of the thing — and I could figure out what shoes to bring (don’t laugh … uncomfortable shoes can ruin a vacation) — am I really up for long days of hiking through cobblestone streets and museums? I get tired quickly these days … as does Garry. Exactly how much of it would we do before it became work rather than play?

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And what about the dogs? They’d totally freak out if we were away for weeks at a time. That’s probably why so many of our fellow seniors have stopped having dogs and other pets. We’d rather keep the pets and give up the traveling. It’s a choice. We all need to know what really matters most in our world.

And then … there’s the advisability factor. Right now, I’m on a short run of Prednisone. Which means I don’t itch. My back almost doesn’t hurt, and I have a frantic bubbling energy suggestive of revived youth. Beneath the chemical boost, I feel my breastbone grinding as I move. In a few days, I’ll be off the Prednisone and the energy will ebb. I’ll be back to limping along, grateful to be on my own feet, not in a chair with wheels.

Nothing is forbidden. I could take crazy drugs. I won’t, because I’m pretty sure I’d be happy for 15 minutes followed by dead for much longer. Inadvisable.

What else might be forbidden? Unsafe sex? Really? Is that a thing?

Bungee jumping? Deep sea diving? Taking a go at swimming the English Channel?

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I miss horses. Maybe I could learn to drive a rig? They have some really nice ones up the road at Ironstone Farm. Hitch me up a team of four Clydesdale horses. Then me and Garry — and a lot of leather in hand — could take to the roads. Okay, that might work!

FORBIDDEN | THE DAILY POST

TAIL OF THE TALE – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE

CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE: 2016 WEEK 26


Since the invasion of the hideous caterpillars, I’ve been hiding. Even though the creepy crawlies seem to be gone, the weeks when they took over my world left me jittery and anxious. I don’t know whether they just died after eating everything there was to eat … or they have turned into cocoons and will return soon as a massive moth invasion … but I figured it was time to get over myself.

Today, after finally admitting I’ve been hiding, I took courage … and a couple of cameras … in hand and went to shoot some pictures. Outside, in the world. And saw many dead caterpillars littering the landscape. Definitely dead. Ex caterpillars. Unmoving. Finally finished.

I tell people that I’m sure we have squirrels, but I never see them. When summer comes around, our tall oak trees typically form a solid canopy. You can’t see the stars or the moon … and definitely not squirrels.

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Except … today I saw birds and squirrels. Sadly, the squirrels saw me a little too soon. But I got the tail end of the story …

THEY’RE BACK! RETURN OF THE GYPSY MOTH

It’s going to be a big year for the gypsy moths. They never really leave, but some years are really bad compared to other, relatively light years.

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This is going to be a bad year. One side of my house is covered with caterpillars. Garry had to dig his car out, as if from under snow. They’ve been coming into the house via the dogs. A few hitched a ride on some Amazon deliveries. I’m spooky about bugs of any kind though I’m not actually afraid of caterpillars, per se.

Unlike spiders and other crawling insects, my heart does not threaten to seize in my chest when I find one. Unfortunately, my startle reflex doesn’t know what’s crawling on me. I only feel something crawling and I do the knee jerk EEK, YOW, UGH, YUK before I ultimately recognize the culprit.

It’s not only that the gypsy moths are creepy pests. They are an invasive pest that consumes oak trees. They have been known to wipe out entire hardwood forests. They’ve almost killed off the black oaks in Pennsylvania.

They aren’t even pretty. No redeeming features that I know of and no natural enemies, either. A pest of the first magnitude with the distinction of being number 1 on our national list of destructive invasive species.

gypsy moth adult

As you’ve probably guessed by the repetition of the word “invasive,” gypsy moths are not native to these parts. Originally a European pest, they took to the New World with a vengeance as soon as they got a bite of it. They’ve been in New England since 1869. at which time they were accidentally introduced near Boston, Massachusetts. Normally, we are happy to have visitors to our fair shores, but not these guys.

In their 150 years on these shores, they have made their way from Massachusetts to Canada,  down to Florida, then back up the middle to Wisconsin and beyond. It’s only a matter of time before they are literally everywhere there is food they can eat. They prefer hardwood trees, but in a pinch, will eat literally anything that grows.

On a purely person level, this means that I won’t go outside unless I must until the moths retreat. We haven’t had a really bad gypsy moth invasion in a few seasons. Probably the exceptionally cold, snowy winters kept them in check.

They are back. I’m so very sorry to see them again.


NOTES:

1: In case you’re interested, click on “gypsy moths” here or at the beginning of this post. It will take you to a link where you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about these nasty, hungry pests. Yuck.

2: Don’t forget the ants. Just because caterpillars have arrived, it does not imply the ants have departed. Have I mentioned how much I hate the bugs? This is not going to be my favorite summer.

3: Sometimes, life in the country is way overrated.

L.A. PUPPIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I went to Los Angeles to visit my daughter and she treated me to a unique and fun experience. It involved puppies and you can’t get much better than that as far as I’m concerned! We spend the afternoon taking three pit bull puppies to a shoot for a live podcast at a local digital media company.

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My daughter, Sarah, volunteers for a local dog rescue group called Angel City Pit Bulls (Angelcitypits.org). Rescue groups pull dogs from shelters and place them in foster homes until they are adopted. This increases their chances of adoption because they are socialized and trained by the fosters and also have a chance to recover from the PTSD they suffer from being abused, abandoned, or caged in a shelter.

Sarah with puppies

Angel City is 100% volunteers and is very well-organized. They are also very hands on with their foster families and dogs. They cover all medical costs, pay for all food, and provide logistical help for the fosters. For example, they will get other volunteers to take foster dogs to vet appointments, obedience classes or just on walks when fosters can’t. Angel City also helps get the dogs adopted and follows up with adoptive families and their new pits.

Another part of Angel City’s mission is to counter the misinformation that has recently given pit bulls a bad reputation. Pits are actually smart, loyal, loving and eager to please. In fact, they are rated on a breed scale for aggressiveness in the middle range, between golden retrievers and yellow labs.

This shoot came about because one of Angel City’s fosters works at a digital media company that was looking for puppies for a live podcast. The foster knew that Angel City was working with a mother and her litter of eight puppies. It was a match made in heaven. Angel City uses themes to name its puppy litters and this was the Harry Potter Litter. So we had to go pick up Harry, Hermione and Dumbledore for their film debuts. The hard part was tearing ourselves away from the other adorable puppies!

We put the puppies into a crate and took them to the Awestruck TV office for the shoot. When we arrived, the office practically shut down as everyone crowded around to play with the puppies. The show is geared to Millennial Moms so the host and her actress guest were going to talk about taking care of young children and dogs. The guest even brought along her 2 ½ year old daughter to hang out with the puppies. The two women also talked about adopting puppies and specifically about Angel City. This was great PR for the group.

puppies in cage

When it was time for the live show, the puppies were ready for their close-ups. They played the classic “cute puppy” roles perfectly. Hermione found a giant stuffed raccoon and started dragging it around the room. Harry grabbed the raccoon too and they started an adorable tug of war. Meanwhile Dumbledore kept stepping in the water bowls and splashing water all around.

You can watch the podcast on Facebook

At the end of the day we were tired, but not as exhausted as the puppies!.

sleeping pups