OBSERVING MY LIMITATIONS….OUCH!

Today was the day to get out and do it!  It wasn’t raining, the skies were looking "dry" and as soon as I could muster through the necessary household jobs this morning, I changed into one of my gardening outfits (very old school T-shirt, elastic waist pants bought at a second hand store, my red bandana tied around my forehead to absorb "moisture"(OK then…SWEAT) my husband’s black worksocks and my old walking shoes that have become my garden shoes.  I put wide rubber bands around the ankles to keep the #@%**!!&%@ gnats out of my pants legs(I have had one itchy bite so far)  Out the door I went to find my gardening bucket I have assembled which contains necessaries like garden gloves, Miracle gro granules, a hand spade, some old emtpy seed packets from last week and a couple of rocks I picked up in the flower bed.  Taking my digging fork (a big one) and my rake and my hand spade, I launched into digging up the infernal quack grass sprouts that constantly invade my flower beds over winter. (I swear that quack grass grows best in winter under the snow and ice.)  While I was vigorously attacking the quack, I noticed a lot of blooming dandelions and that brought up another "must do it right now" chore.

I found Buffaloguy engaged in his own outdoor chores and begged him to get the mower going for me…the small one that I use for trimming around the house.  I was determined to mow those dandelions before they turn into white fluff—-seeds that float in the air and plant themselves in the raspberry canes, in the vegetable garden plot and anywhere there is a little bit of soil to take root in.   I attacked the dandelions soon after laying the digging fork down.  BG helped a little too, after I whined that I could not do the slopes because of my left knee which is still a bit on the touchy side.  Between the two of us we got a lot of new dandelions mowed down but I was feeling a bit giddy and knew that I had gone far enough for one day.

This observation of my own limitations is not fun to do; I still think I am in my 30′s when I began to do outside garden and lawn jobs…I love doing all of it, but my body tells me that instead of being in my 30s, I am really in my sixth decade and my muscles, ligaments and other body parts do not cooperate like they used to.  I get tired really fast now so I can only work for a brief period each go-round.  At this rate, I am going to be doing spring chores on the 4th of July and  it frustrates me no end to have to quit, go inside, clean up and sit down with a couple of ice packs and a couple of Aleve!

Buffaloguy has a lot more strength and stamina than I presently have.  Maybe its his routine that has kept him in shape more than it has me (my routine).  Maybe its the muscle mass he has in more abundance due to being born a male.  He is still outside going strong..rototilling an open patch where raspberries used to grow so I can plant a pumpkin patch with the seeds I have for strange and decorative pumpkins…blue-green mottled ones, pure white ones and tiny little ones as in "Jack Be Little" pumpkin babies.  Planting pumpkins reminds me of a wonderful childrens’ picture book called MULE EGGS  which follows a story of a City Slicker who moves to the country and wants to be a farmer but he does not have enough money to buy a mule.  One of the neighbors plays a trick on him and tells him that his pumpkins are "mule eggs" so he urges him to spend his money on some pumpkins in order to get the mule he needs.  I have lost part of the plot, but I know that the City Dude really thinks a pumpkin has hatched a baby mule when he discovers a big jackrabbit running around in his pumpkin patch.  I remember that City Dude runs after the rabbit calling out "Here Muley, Muley!"  I have to get a copy of that book and refresh my memory.

Right now I need to get two ice packs..one for my knee and one for my sore feet…and sit back in the recliner and recover from the normal gardening chores I used to be able to do all day long———–30 years ago.

THAT LITTLE HINT OF GREEN

This morning while traveling on Highway 10, I saw another sign of spring I wait for each year.  I have all these spring things….the flight of the snow geese, the cranes, the honking of the Canadian geese fighting over nesting territory, the bullfrongs singing their love songs to the lady frogs….each year it confirms that springtime is that most wonderful of times and seasons. 

 But today I saw the little hint of green as the willows, the poplars and the cottonwoods began to show their tiny leaves.   There are many groves of these kinds of trees along Highway 10 as you travel west and dip into the basin of old Lake Agassiz.   All of the trees in that area of ancient sand dunes are sporting the little hint of green that is so irresistable to my eyes.   I am so thankful that I can see it each spring!!

If I were an artist, I would capture that fleeting time of the hint of green; it does not last for more than a few days and if it is hot, it is very temporary as the leaves grow and burst into the full deep green of their summer veils.  Today was probably the last day of the hint of green.  I drank it in as we passed those groves along the highway.

The area where these soft-wood trees flourish is in sandy, poor soil; running south and north from the last shore of the glacial lake, there is a beach of sand dunes, probably more recognizable from the air but still obvious on the ground.  There are a lot of dug-out gravel pits in that area where the trees and bushes have come back to fill up the holes that the gravel pits left.    I am always sorry that the pits are not reclaimed as they should be.

I guess the gravel miners have to get on to the next potential pit and are careless about reclaiming those they have mined out.  It is another sad commentary on the nature of businesses and of the humans who make money off them.   Take it all, and then leave it. The pioneers who began moving from east to west in the early days did the same, except they cut down the forests and then when the land got worn out, they moved on and began cutting down more forests.

I am just glad there are little trees that show that hint of green each spring.  It is a soul-satisfying view and I love to see it, if only for a short time.

SPRING IS HERE AND SUMMER IS NOT FAR BEHIND

I know that spring is here to stay.  There are blooming dandelions under my clotheslines and other places where the Scotts’ Weed Formula did not get to!    I do not like using that stuff and use it sparingly–so sparingly that we still have weeds in the grass.  The dandelions always remind me of springtimes past…long past…and my friend gave me a poem that says it perfectly.  It has no title and it doesn’t need one.

Poem:

Some will tell you crocuses are heralds true of spring.

Others say that tulips showing buds are just the thing.

Point to  peonies, say when magnolia blossoms show.

I look forward to the sight of other flowers, though.

Cultivate your roses, grow your orchids in the dark.

Plant your posies in a row and stink up the whole park.

The flower that’s my favorite is found throughout the  land—–

A wilty yellow dandelion clutched in a grubby hand.

It’s author is Larry Tilander and it comes from SPRINGTIME OF MY SOUL.

Enjoy your dandelions, too!                                                       

SKIVVY-DIPPING ON THE COBBER CAMPUS

The news in the FORUM and other regional papers (STAR TRIBUNE, for one) have trumpeted the shocking news that a large contingent of recent Cobber grads were caught in Prexy’s Pond on the Cobber Campus the night after their graduation.  They scattered like rabbits when a lone security guard showed up, leaving all their IDs, wallets, clothes, and cell phones by the shore of the muddy pond.  Identifying the skivvy dippers was a cake walk.

This incident triggered a memory of my own days as a Cobber student…so long past that I think there were brontosauruses roaming the campus way back then.  But we had our moments in the springtime muck of Prexy’s Pond also.   It came on Inititation Day for the freshmen who had "pledged" the campus "societies" which were a much tamer and alchol-free version of the state college’s fraternities and sororities. (Any Cobber back then who wanted to "party" like the frats, had to sneak down to Gooseberry Park in the dark to accomplish the dirty deed.)

  All freshmen pledges of all "societies" got initiated by the upper classmen and women on the same day–always a nice day in May it seemed.  I pledged the Lamba Delts and our traditional and long-standing initiation day outfits consisted of red skirts, white blouses, and black stockings.  Our hair was put into tiny pigtails all over our heads.  We could not use silverware when we ate as a large group in the cafeteria and our "sisters" picked out our food for us…lots of pudding, juicy fruit sauces, mashed potatoes, oatmeal…everything that would make a horrible mess when eaten by fingers instead of forks.  In the afternoon, another tradition was observed: the famous  and long-standing tradition of the Lamba Delta Sigmas wading across Prexy’s Pond holding buttermilk in their mouths.

The 20 or so Pledges started out bravely from the south shore of the pond; there was always a huge contingent of Watchers from all over the campus who were delighted to see us wallowing in the thick mud and the swampy smelling water which turned an oily black color the minute our feet hit the muddy bottom.  It was pretty deep in the spring and some of us were in up to our waists (those of us with the shortest legs, like me)  We came ashore still holding the buttermilk in our mouths, looking like chipmunks carrying a winter supply of food to their nests.  Most of us did not get the buttermilk swallowed however. I remember a lot of spitting up and a few projectile vomits along the north shore.   One of the crabbier pledges—a girl named Delores—-complained loudly about the pond party we were forced to have.  She said (loudly) that she "had her period" and the rest of us were shocked!  Nobody, I mean nobody…. talked publicly about such female matters.  I thought she was a really Loose Woman, but she had a boyfriend named Trig who bravely waded in and pulled her to safety.  Trig was one of those guys who attracted teasing and a lot of other jokes…he really asked for it though.  He once posted a sign on the campus bulletin board informing everyone that the guys could order their spring banquet corsages from him because he was a "campus rep" for Briggs Floral.  Someone added  "tile" to the "rep" and it sent waves of giggles through the girls who read the notice after it was doctored up by some Wag.  I wonder if poor old Delores ever recovered from her wade across Prexy’s Pond?       I wonder if she married Trig?  I wonder if they will soon celebrate their 50th wedding anniversay?

It was a most memorable day but I have not thought about it for ages until I read about the modern day Cobbers taking a dunk in Prexy’s Pond last week.  I am pretty sure they were motivated by  drinks other than buttermilk.  Too bad.  It used to be nice college, when I was there!   It always is, in our memories!!!

TULIP TEA ON THE DECK: one sign of spring!

Yesterday (Thursday), with the wind blowing strongly out of the southeast, I bravely set up a "tea table" (a round-top air purifier covered with an old embroidered tablecloth) on the deck.  In the spirit of "Hyacinth Bucket" of "Keeping Up Appearances", I brought out two of my "Royal Doulton" teacups and saucers (two of my mom’s collection of teacups) plus two "beakers" just in case my friend Fran or I would be like "Elizabeth", Hyacinth’s best friend and spill the tea or drop the teacup.

I had baked lemon/cranberry biscotti for my tea and also some cookies made from cake mix(it is the best way to make cookies!!)  I had to hold the tea table down with a heavy flower pot til we sat down in our chairs and began to partake of the tea (coffee, actually) and enjoy some "riparian entertainment" (also an idea borrowed from Hyacinth Bucket…that’s pronounce Boo-kay you know.)  Ripararian means "river-related" and since the Dead Buffalo River lies below our south deck and house, I thought the Canadian geese who reside there for the summer would entertain us with loud honks and squawks since they have been fighting over nesting territory since late March.  Yesterday—-not one honk!  The bullfrogs were even resting their voices; maybe they have all found lady frogs so they are happy and content and no longer croaking loudly, day and night.

Fran arrived and we held our cups, napkins, biscotti, and the coffee pot tightly and sat it out for long enough to have a "beaker"-ful of liquid and gaze at the tulips below the deck. Spring is wonderful, even when the wind blows you off your lawn chairs.  I am glad we had our Tulip Tea yesterday because I just looked outside and the rain is begining to fall.  Goody-Goody!  The tulip bed is dry and caked and the rain will change it for the better.

We finished off our Tulip Tea with some poetry reading from other authors and from the talented Fran who has written a poem called "Free Therapy" so along with an Edgar Guest poem about brave soldiers and a small poem about dandelions, we found ourselves fully sated with coffee, biscotti, and pleasant colors (tulips) and wonderful thoughts (poems) It was a satisfying happy afternoon, well spent!

BADS SMELLS AND ROARING WATERS

If you want a good belly laugh, go to the In-Forum website and read the "talk about it" question of the day: "what do you think is causing the skunk smell in Fargo-Moorhead?"  I guessed that it was from a new 2000 animal-unit skunk confinement barn in eastern Clay County, the home of huge hog and chicken barns ….so why not raise skunks as well.  I’m sure their droppings would make good fertilizer, skunk oil must be valuable somewhere, and if their pelts were dyed, they would make gorgeous fur coats for PETA people to spray paint or throw acid on.  Let’s see now, how many people did I manage to skewer in that paragraph?

On to better subjects.  I am always fascinated when we travel from our home to I-29 and then on to Kansas City by the interesting landform we see from Kansas City all the way to the South Dakota border near Elkpoint.  There are bluffs to the east and also to the west and in between a very broad and fertile valley that must be several miles wide.  These bluffs follow the course of the "Mighty Mo"…the south-flowing Missouri River that makes its way through Montana, ND and SD first and then forms the border between Iowa and Nebraska and Missouri and Kansas all the way to KC where it takes an eastward turn and goes nearly straight across the middle of Missouri to St Louis where it empties into the Mississippi.  I look at the bluffs which follow close by the interstate in the Sioux City, Iowa area and can picture the formation of this interesting valley and the high bluffs that border it on both sides.   Sometime in the past, there was a mighty cataclysm of water bursting forth that cut these bluffs in a short period of time and left the broad valley in its wake. It was probably form the melting glaciers of the last Ice Age and probably the result of a huge body of water dammed up behind some sort of obstruction, and when the pressure of the dammed water became too great, the whole works let go and carved the Missouri River Valley from ND clear down to present day Kansas City.  

 I saw a similar situation when we saw the Niagra River in northern NY state about 4 years ago while traveling to New England.   The Niagra River is a very short river and runs between one end of Lake Ontario to the huge drop where the double waterfalls tumble hundreds of feet from the Canadian border and the US border.  The river is a boiling cauldron of white water that rushes over rocks on its course leading to the falls.  I thought of how the same situation existed at that place;  melting glacial water filled what is now Lake Ontario..probably a much bigger lake than exists now, and once again a natural dam holding back such huge amounts of water, it is difficult to conceive in one’s mind…let go suddenly and there was a cataclysmic water event that cut the river channel and formed the falls and the gorge below it.  We could hear the river’s sound long before we arrived at the parking area.  The sound of the river is thunderous, to say nothing of the sound of the falls which is a hundred times louder than the river rushing through its rocky channel.

The eruption and destruction of Mt. St. Helens in May of 1980 (can it be that long ago?) showed modern mankind what a great cataclysm can do in just minutes.  The entire landscape was wiped out in minutes and a new landscape, new soil layers, new lava and pyroclastic blasts forever changed that area in a matter of minutes and hours.  The power of creation is unfathomable but every now and then, we catch a glimpse of it.

I bought a book about the Grand Canyon in the Ozarks and it, too, is supposed to be the result of a huge cataclysm of water carving out the canyon gorge in a relatively short period of time compared with the "billions and billions" of years proposed by Evolutionists.  The canyon is perfectly layered as though it was layed down by very deep water(Noah’s flood?)….the layers of red sandstone, brown sandstone, black shale (hard mud) and the basement layer of fire-formed rocks like granite are all there for people to see in one grand "cutaway" of the earth, a mile deep in places.  

 I have always thought that ND’s "Badlands" are the result of water cataclysms from glacial melt onrushes at the end of the last Ice Age also.   We have also observed a huge valley on the west shore of the long and deep  Flathead Lake at Polson, Montana which lies between two ranges of low mountains.    A clear picture of a huge glacial water dam bursting and carving out another broad valley between two mountain ridges lies there as more evidence of water cataclysms long past.

Speaking of water, my tulips could use a shower pretty soon.  They are a gorgeous riot of purples, pinks, yellow, peach, red, and deep rose colors.   Some new white bulbs are blooming for the first time also.  It is such a sweet season when the tulips bloom for their short time each spring.  I am waiting for the pink and white parrot tulips to open after the others are done…..they are always later than the rest.

It has been a good day for gardening and soaking up the sunshine.  Get outside and get some natural Vitamin D !!!

THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY: MAY DAY

I know there is a song in one of Shakespeare’s works that sings about "the Merry Month Of May" and today is May 1…"May Day" to many and it is a special day.  In communist countries, May Day has been the traditional time to celebrate communism and have military parades before the country’s leaders.  May Day in Moscow was always a big deal years ago before the USSR broke up.  My recollection of the coverage of May Day in Moscow is of a gloomy day, often a rainy day, with sour-faced Russian leaders assembled atop Lenin’s tomb, reviewing the military might that paraded by in Red Square.  In the good old days of the 1950s when I was a youngster, the pictures or the Movietone news always scared me….I was awed and shaken by Russian communism.  I do not even know if there was a May Day parade in Moscow this year.   I heard that the celebration in Havana, Cuba was missing Fidel Castro’s presence. I have the definite idea that he is long dead and being kept in a freezer somewhere in Cuba.

On to better memories of May Day.  When I was an elementary age school kid, we all thought May Day was the best holiday of the entire year.  We made May Baskets for everyone in our class, delivered them after school, or in later grades, we brought them to school to give to each other.  This led to much chasing and screaming at recess time since the tradition was that you must catch and kiss the one who had given you a May Basket.  We all had a lot of catching and kissing to accomplish during recess time and it was always a wild melee, often with the teachers joining us in the chasing and kissing since we all gave our teachers May Baskets as well.  It was better than Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Halloween school parties all rolled up into the glorious first day of May when we went bonkers over May Baskets.  I remember running in a heavy rain shower trying to catch one of my friends who brought the M.B. to the door of my home.  The May Baskets always contained good sweets and treats; often there was home-made fudge or divinity since everyone’s mothers were at-home moms; there would be either popcorn or crackerjack, those soft peanut-shaped, orange colored, banana flavored candies; lemon drops, gum drops, chocolate drops,  orange slice candies, maybe a stick of gum…all of it a treasure and we would eat ourselves sick on May Day just as bad as we had done on the day after Halloween trick  and treating.  My Dad loved May Day too, because he loved candy and we would share ours with him.

I watched the news tonight and there was a dark side of the first day of May in some large cities as the protests from illegal immigrants occurred again today.  I wonder why they choose to demonstrate on May 1?  It would seem unwise since many like me connect May Day demonstrations to Communist rallies.  Not smart on the part of the Illegals in this country.  I am always amazed by the interview-ees of such demonstrations.  They cry about the unfairness of it all; they protest and decry the raids on Illegals and the deportations.  Duh?  Who is breaking the immigration laws?  If that is what you do, you ought to expect to be raided and deported.  The brush-off of the immigration laws is incredible.  Who cares if you crossed illegally twenty years ago…you are still breaking the immigration laws of the USA.   Check out what Mexico does to anyone who comes into Mexico illegally…they arrest them and deport them so fast  their heads spin.     It should work that way here also, but our government is remiss in allowing such a crowd of illegals to accumulate; there are over 12 million of them here and they want to demonstrate against the US government???    Give me a break!   "Yankee go home" has been chanted in many other countries over the years. It is time for us to do a little chanting of our own….Illegals, go home!!  Come back when you want to obey our immigration laws and do it the right way like the immigrants of past decades did.  My grandparents and great grandparents came here as immigrants, too, but they came legally and learned to speak English and did not expect everyone to kow-tow to them and teach their children in their native language in American schools.  They wanted to become Americans and did so diligently, not insisting on their own cultural preservation by the US government or the people who were here already.  They quietly preserved customs and traditions but they were Americans!!!  And proud to be Americans, too.  (Even though my little old Great Grandmother is reputed to have said she didn’t want any "Yahn-kee doctors" messing with her!)  Her children and grandchildren were eager new Americans.

May Day got triggered for me today when I got a short e mail note from one of my childhood friends and next door neighbor who was my good good friend for so many years. He wished me a happy May Day and regretted that he could not deliver the May Basket as we used to do so many years ago.  I can still see the double-napkin May Baskets assembled on our dining room table in my old home, waiting to be filled with treats and tied up and labeled so I could deliver them to the friends who would chase me and play "kissy-kissy" for one magical day on the First Day of the Merry Month of May.

It is a great memory that I cherish in my mind.

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