Archive for July, 2017

The Aurora Adventure

The Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, is a phenomena that happens when the gasses of the sun meet the magnetic field of the earth, causing a beautiful display of dancing lights. A gassy collision is not really an apt discription of such ethereal magnificance, but it is the best that I could come up with, not being a scientist.   I have seen these magical lights when I was a child and my father, who WAS a scientist, dragged the whole family outside for the show in the middle of the night.  I wasn’t too receptive back then. I have seen some beautiful Aurora Borealis photographs,  but have wanted to view it in person for some time now and as an adult, when  I would be so much more appreciative of the sight. The reason why I haven’t is that it is usually best viewed in the middle of the night, and I am sound asleep and entirely too slothful to drag myself up and at ’em at  2 a.m. One evening last week was supposed to be prime northern lights viewing  time between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.  It was all over the news and social media. Even HE asked me if I was going to stay up for the show on a work night, and knowing that I usually fall asleep in front of the TV at nine, I asked him to wake me up. He didn’t, but I woke up at 3:30 a.m. all on my own which is an unfortunate side effect of the aging process.  It was past the prime viewing time, but it wouldn’t hurt to look out the window, so I did, with my faithful companion Barney the Chihuahua at my heels. I couldn’t get a good look through the trees, so Barney and I stepped out on the deck. I was hoping and praying that as we edged out of the Aurora Borealis prime time, that we weren’t edging into the nocturnal skunk prime time, so I moved cautiously, sniffing the air. Barney the Chihuahua did the same. Sure enough, I could see a slight glow above the trees to the north. Getting as excited as I could be for 3:30 in the morning, I grabbed my phone for some pictures and Barney and I jumped into the car and pulled out to the highway, heading north. We were the only souls on the road and thank goodness for that, as I was wearing my pajamas, which are actually an old pair of yoga pants and an oversized tee shirt, along with my comfy bedroom slippers. I only had to drive a half mile when I realized that the lovely glow in the sky was actually the parking lot lights of Cannibal Junction, which is a neighborhood restaurant and bar. Not too ethereal,  but the food is good. Unfortunately, they don’t serve an earlybird breakfast special, so I headed for home and a cup of strong black coffee. Too bad, but this aurora-chasing adventurer still has to work her day job. 

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Driving me crazy

For someone who couldn’t wait to get her driver’s license back in the good old days, you might find it strange that I don’t like to drive that much anymore. It could possibly be that I am no longer young and blonde and driving a classic 1967 Ford Mustang. Back then, it wasn’t a classic,  just an old used car that my folks picked up because it was in their price range and they needed a second car.  My drive to and from work isn’t too bad, if you don’t count the snow and ice in the winter and the dodging of deer, skunks, and porcupines in the summer. It is probably HIM.  Yes, I tend to blame him for a lot of things, but this time it really makes sense. He is an excellent driver and likes to drive, so over the 42 years I have known him, I haven’t driven all that much, at least when we are together. During longer trips, if he needs a break, I will take over, but it  will be guaranteed that night will fall, the rain will start, and the road signs will say “DETOUR! ROAD CONSTRUCTION NEXT 100 MILES.” If on the off-chance this doesn’t happen, HE, who is supposed to be resting, will stay awake and offer helpful suggestions as to my speed (too slow), temperature (too warm), and/or my choice of radio station (not enough classic oldies) while I’m driving.  We will soon be taking our RV on the road. I have no earthly idea how to maneuver something that big, but I am not against learning, as long as I find a wide country road without traffic and preferably without anybody else in the vehicle to offer constructive criticism.  But honestly, what’s the use? We will be travelling the highways and not the wide country roads during our journey. I love riding in it, but have no desire to drive it. If I ever had to, I probably could, but would probably take all the back roads, stopping at each and every small-town antique shop and diner along the way. Hey! That sounds like a great vacation! Does anybody want to take a road trip? I’ll drive!

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Sooner or Later

My mother-in-law was a wise woman. Whenever my father-in-law would go away for a few days to go fishing, she would spring into action. Paint, wallpaper, furniture rearranging, and simple carpentry would be done and she would hire someone to take care of plumbing, electrical, or roofing problems. My father-in-law could never understand it. “Every time I’m gone,” he would say, “She does another project that I would have gotten to sooner or later!” Sooner or later, with later being the key word. Let’s just say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. HE is not quite as bad, but he is close. My own simple carpentry skills have improved over the years while waiting for the sooner or the later. I even have my own drill as well as a hammer and a set of screwdrivers. There are only a few little things to get done around here that are too big for me to handle, and really, I have waited only two years for one of them, so I don’t know why I am even complaining. It doesn’t happen all the time, either. For example, I asked him yesterday to help me get the table leg unstuck in the camper, and I was very specific. “Not right now, though, I am in the middle of doing a project on the table.” That project involved sticky picture hanging strips and many little pieces of paper. He started immediately, wiggling and banging on the table leg. “No, really, not right now,” I said as a gazillion tiny scraps of paper hit the floor. HE turned a deaf ear. Not intentionally, because I think he really is losing his hearing. Either that or he is the world’s greatest expert on tuning me out. I sighed and muttered to myself, which he either didn’t hear, chose to ignore, and/or tuned out. I gathered up my project and in a few short minutes, the table leg was fixed. That got me to thinking. After 40 years of marriage, maybe I have learned something new. Perhaps HE is like our four-year-old grandson. When I want a kiss (from the grandson, not the husband), I tell him that I don’t want any because kisses are icky and I am immediately showered with dozens of kisses. It works every time! Maybe next time I need a project done, I will ask him NOT to do it. Either it is going to work or it isn’t. Something else that I have learned in 40 years of marriage is that when it comes to husbands, one can always expect the unexpected.

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Getting Squirrelly

I love the woodland creatures around here. Really, I do. I love it that the big doe who frequents our back acreage brought two little spotted fawns to show us, but at a safe distance. I love hearing about bear sightings, even though I breathe a sigh of relief that we haven’t sighted one in our own yard. I love the birds that wake me up each morning at five and the hummingbirds that come to the feeders many times each day. The ants that found their way into the laundry room? Not so much. I’ve been reading up on natural ways to get rid of them, as HIS method of  spray, stomp, and kill is only mildly successful. Did you know that spraying a mixture of peppermint essential oil, water, and vodka is supposed to deter ants? I didn’t either, but I happen to have all the ingedients on hand and might give it a whirl. Lately,  I have developed an intense dislike for a squirrel. Not all squirrels, mind you, but a single little persistant red squirrel who manages to climb up the metal shephard’s hooks which hold our two hummingbird feeders. When we are not looking, he manages to suck them dry. When we are looking, no shouting or pounding on the window deters the bold little cuss.  If they are empty, he chews off the feeder ports trying to get more. I searched the internet to find the answer. We have never had this problem before in all these years with any of his squirrel relatives. Many suggestions called for petrolium jelly smeared on the pole. Although I know there must be an ancient jar around here somewhere, I coudn’t find it, so I tried smearing it with coconut oil stirred together with a whole bunch of cayenne pepper. Five minutes later, he was sitting outside the window licking the stuff off his paws. Ten minutes later, he was up the pole again. I waited until my own hands stopped stinging before I cut  a slit into a plastic lid and slid it on to the pole. The plastic lid lasted less than a day. I don’t know if it was the squirrel or the wind, but I gave up after finding it on the ground again and again. Next, I found a jar of menthol chest rub and rubbed it up and down the poles. That seemed to work, as I had no squirrel, but no hummingbirds, either. After two days, HE informed me that my little friend was back. The latest deterrent is HIS idea, which is a plastic cup that he threaded the pole through. So far, so good. I am not convinced that this will work for long, either. I have to confess that when I drove home last night I saw a roadkill red squirrel near the driveway and I actually laughed out loud, only to find my squirrel waiting under the feeders for a refill.  We have a live trap, but just setting it out in the yard could catch any number of creatures, including skunks. My next option will be to try the peppermint/vodka ant spray and just squirt him when he gets anywhere near the feeder.  I am tempted to just forget the peppermint oil, throw in the towel, and use the vodka to mix myself a drink.  If you happen to be driving through rural northern Minnesota and see a Farm Woman sitting on her front porch with a liquor bottle at her feet and a shotgun at her shoulder aimed toward the hummingbird feeder, it just might be me. Don’t honk and wave, because at this point, I am getting a little squirrelly myself. 

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