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Snow on white pine branch

Julie, Julie, Julie!  You decided to do what?  Write a blog for 365 days making Julia Child’s recipes?  And someone thought this worthy of a million dollar movie?

Julie, please share your secret with us.  We truly want to know.  Because, my dear, YOU had it easy.  All you had to do was read a recipe book and follow directions.  How challenging could this be?

Snowy path in woods

The rest of us bloggers (well, some of us bloggers) who chose to blog for all those 365 days DON’T HAVE ANY RECIPE BOOKS TO FOLLOW!!  We have to make up the blogs out of thin air.  We have to pray to blog-god to help us come up with new entertaining material.  We have to figure it out, day in and day out, day out and day in.

And what did you have to do?  FOLLOW A RECIPE BOOK!  If there was a recipe book to follow, a 365 day blog commitment would be a piece of cake.  (Get it?  A piece of cake?  Well, probably in Julia Child’s case it’s something like a bon-bon.)

Scary snow creature!

Truly, Julie, I have not yet watched your blogging movie.  It’s in my Netflix queue, truly it is.  People (well, two people anyway) have suggested that I watch this movie, thinking that we have something in common with our year-long commitment.  And I will probably love it.  You and Meryl Streep are in it, right?  Of course it will be a lovely movie.  I already have some organic popcorn ready for the occasion.  We’ll do that girl-thing together.  You, me and Julia.  We’ll celebrate year-long blogs together.  How does that sound? 

Sleeping snow dragon. Shhh....

Interjection:  my daughter just called on her way home from work.  I told her I was writing a blog sniffing at Julie’s audacity to FOLLOW RECIPES for a year and blog about it  Hmmmph!  I said.  Can you imagine?

She just happened to have watched the movie last weekend.  And guess what she does?  DEFENDS Julie.  May I quote exactly what she said?

“Mom, this was hard stuff.  You would have to de-bone a turkey or a duck!  She made 524 recipes during that year.  You couldn’t even DO the recipes where you live–you couldn’t even get half the ingredients!”

Hmmmpphh!  (I am thinking de-boning a turkey would be a cinch!  As for finding the ingredients, yep, she’s probably right…)

Slithering snow snake up there

So, OK, maybe the recipe-following blog adventure was a little teeny-weeny bit challenging.  Maybe we’ll give her that.  Maybe her souffles fell.  Maybe she burned her roast duck.  Maybe the Beef Bourguigon didn’t simmer long enough. 

I guess I’ll have to wait to see the movie and find out. 

A snow dragon of a different sort. Or perhaps you know what it is?

But, anyway, if any of the producers happen to Google Julie/Julia and find this blog…I’m open for a movie deal.  Just sayin’.  Give me a call.

**P.S.  oh yes, back to the “real” commitment.  Today I walked in the snow and took snow pictures.  It’s really all Gerry’s fault over at Torch Lake Views.  Gerry wrote a blog called “Imagine” in which we were suppose to spot iguanas, a dancer, bells, cats and ghosts in her snow photos.  I couldn’t spot anything (It was probably attention deficit disorder because it was time to go outside, or maybe because I was talking to Julie/Julia in my head.)  However, immediately upon entering Snow Country at least ten different snow-shapes presented themselves.

If we were simply following recipes, would we have seen snow creatures?  I think not.

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Out the door they come! Looks like they're headed down the porch...

Dear Kids,  I broke the news to the Santas and the Snowmen today.  Told them–ever so gently–that you would not be coming home for Christmas this year.

You would never believe what happened next!  They jumped off their tic-tac-toe red and white Christmas board and marched toward the front door.  Every last one of them.  We stood shocked in disbelief!  What were the Santas and the Snowmen going to do? 

And they're trudging through the snow!

We know, don’t we, that these particular Santas and Snowmen have a history of unpredictability.  They are always doing something wild and crazy.  Ever since I won them in that Christmas raffle at Aura a few years back, they have been keeping us on our toes!  Odd things happen all the time, don’t they?

Remember the time when they all looked like they were going to commit suicide jumping off the table in the living room.  A few of them lay helter-skelter on the carpeted floor beneath their kamikaze jumping place.  Remember how we laughed?  How we laughed until we almost cried?  (Silly Santas and Snowmen!  What kind of holiday spirit was that?)

Then remember how every year the darn fellows appeared somewhere else?  One year they climbed near the ceiling and sat way up high near the plants.  Haven’t they been discovered in the bathtub, in the refrigerator, and a half-dozen other crazy places?  Maybe they’ve even been outside before.

But I wasn’t expecting their behavior this afternoon.  They simply all stood up and silently marched outside.

The reindeer are missing you guys already.

Down the porch steps they marched in single file.  Out into the snow.  Toward the cars!  Were they deserting us forever?  Just because you both aren’t coming home for Christmas?  The very first Christmas when BOTH of you won’t be with us?

Stocking hanging outside in spruce tree

I tried to get the leader to talk.  He was a Santa.  “Where are you going?” I begged, “Please come back!”  But on they marched.  “Next year maybe they’ll be home for Christmas!”  I hollered after them.  They refused to look back.

Off they go!

Perhaps they are walking to Manhattan and San Diego.  Perhaps they have booked airline tickets.  It’s hard to say what these Santas and Snowmen will do.  I just wanted you to be the first to know that you’re obviously going to be very much missed this year, you kids.

Even the Santas and Snowmen think so.

Dentists recommend...playing hockey??

 

I can’t imagine dentists recommending that folks play hockey.  Only in the Copper Country of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula would one glimpse a sign like this.  We laughed for two minutes before I made Barry turn the car around to photograph the sign.  And, I can guarantee you, turning around the car on a day like today proved no easy feat. (Ha ha, I am SO slow to get a joke.  Barry says dentists recommend playing hockey because players get their teeth knocked out and dentists have business.  Now I’m REALLY laughing!) 

Looking out the car window, Houghton, MI

 

We had to drive up to Houghton.  Barry had to interview someone, and he dropped me nicely at a coffee shop to sip cappuccino and play on my laptop computer, also known as Miss Ellie.  I wore sneakers up to Houghton, the first bad decision of the day.  The good decision involved throwing in a pair of Sorel boots in the back seat of the car.  After getting a good case of frozen sneaker-feet, I switched to the Sorels and clumped around during our later shopping expedition.  

Eleven very very very very cold degrees

 

The snow was still coming down in white sheets in the Copper Country.  Once you drive across the Houghton County line, you can expect the weather to worsen. It almost always does.  Usually within a mile or so of the county line sign.  People in the coffee shop moaned that the weather forecaster predicted up to ANOTHER two feet of snow up there in the next day or so.  Yikes!  We can always thank our lucky stars for living in the “banana belt” of Baraga County, especially in our locale near the Huron Bay.  After all, our storm abated after about fifteen inches of snow.   

Not very good roads today, but we're headed "south" toward L'Anse

 

I was glad Barry drove.  The roads were not stellar.  They combined ice, snow and slush into a mixture that kept us alert and cautious.  The white-out conditions in the Copper Country added to the fun.   

However, we did accomplish all our work and shopping.  After we turned around to drive home, passing by the county line, out came the sun!  Houghton County may still be getting lake effect snow, but we’re feeling like the tropics down here.  After all, our thermometer read 14 degrees!  Welcome winter!!  

The sun breaks through! We're back in Baraga County.

 

P.S.  Today’s outdoor adventure (besides running between stores) involved shoveling most of the deck.  A very good upper body workout.  I wonder if four out of five dentists would recommend shoveling?  Hmmm….

The beaver pond

Just think how many things we don’t know about nature.  

For example, I just had to Google the Question “Do beavers hibernate?”  

You would think someone who lives in the North Woods would know the answer to this question.  I thought I knew; maybe, perhaps, yes they do, no they don’t, let’s just get it over with and Google.  

Google pointed its wise finger to several websites which provided the definitive answer:  You Silly Questioner.  Of course beavers do not hibernate.  Don’t you know they eat the inner bark of trees during the winter?  Don’t you know that because the surface of their ponds may freeze solid, making it difficult to get trees, the beaver will chew down extra ones for an underwater food cache located near the den or lodge?  Don’t you know that?  

Pretty impressive sky, eh?

So now you’re wondering about otter, I suppose.  You want to know if otter hibernate.  I am here to tell you “Facts you Otter Know“.  They are definitively active all year-round. Cold weather does not inhibit their behavior.  In fact the author of the hyperlinked article insists that the otter loves ice and snow.  You otter know that.  

Bears hibernate.  You knew that, right?  Well, I am going to rock your world view, because some scientists disagree that bears actually hibernate in the same way as other animals.  That’s because they wake up frequently and their metabolism does not slow to nearly the same degree as, say, a possum or badger.  Why some mama bears even give birth during the winter, requiring a degree of alertness to care for the new cubs.  These scientists prefer to call this behavior denning rather than hibernating.  (It IS amazing what a Google search will teach you.)  

Another source just revealed that bears and raccoons torpor during the winter.  This source said that the raccoons sometimes go out to hunt before returning to their torpor-like state.  My husband can verify that.  He caught a big lake trout ice fishing and was saving the carcass in the snow and the raccoons stole it in the winter.  

Snowy tree, blue sky

Here is a partial list of animals hibernating around here this very minute according to wisegeek: chipmunks, ground squirrels (I beg to differ.  A red squirrel climbed the exterior wall, sat on the window and peered inside while I ‘denned’ at the computer this afternoon), hamsters (not any hamsters in these woods unless they escaped from someone’s house), skunks, bats, and badgers.   

Let us not forget our non-mammal friends, either.  The snakes that scared you last summer are sound asleep in a coma-like hibernation.  When we bring in our wood from the wood pile to wood room, we find shedded snake skins everywhere.  Sometimes we hang them up for decorations in the wood room.  I kid you not.  Back to our hibernation discussion.  Here are some more non-mammals:  lizards, frogs, toads, turtles and bees are all hibernating.   

One bird, the Western Poor Will, is considered a hibernating bird.  I can tell you what birds do NOT hibernate.  The chickadees, nuthatches, finches, blue jays, woodpeckers and juncos have all been seen near the bird feeder already this winter.  They are hard to photograph.  They flutter and swoop and dive so quickly all you can capture is a blurry whirr of wings.   

The chickadees at Catherine’s house yesterday were more relaxed.  You can see the non-hibernating bird here:  

Chickadee!

Oh yes.  I would also like to add that I did not hibernate today.  Barry had to go to the Trading Post, so I hitched a ride.  Then he dropped me off about a mile or more from our house and I walked home.  It was cold, but not freezing cold.  Snowy, but not too snowy.  The only non-hibernating animals spotted were ravens lunching on a deer carcass.  (I decided to spare you the deer carcass photo.)

Red apple trees surrounded by birch

How to make the perfect apple crisp:

Find a tree laden with wild apples.  Cultivated apples are OK, too.  If you find a tree the pioneers planted, your crisp will be filled with pioneer spirit.  Try to avoid the grocery store.  Supermarket apples tend to be filled with supermarket spirit.  Not conducive to the best apple crisp.

Laden with apples even in December!

Fill an oiled 8 inch pan three-quarters full of sliced peeled apples.  Peer in at your apples.  Smell them.  Remember what summer felt like.  Remember what autumn felt like.  Take a bite.  Slowly savor the apple-crispin’ flavor of the apple before you even bake it. Crunch.  Chew slowly.  Chew even more slowly so you can taste every single subtle sweet tangy buttery whatever-you-might-call-it flavor.  Think of three words to describe your apple flavor.  Pretend that you’re an apple connoisseur. 

Looking up with apples

After you’ve filled your pan with apples, it’s topping time!  You have two choices.  You can pile a traditional topping over the apples such as the one below:

Traditional:  Mix 3/4 cup quick oats, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup soft margarine or butter.  Mix together well and place over the delectable apples. (Optional:  add nuts and cinnamon, as described below.)

Or you can choose Vegan, also known as non-dairy.  Which is what I would choose at this stage in my life.  But because I don’t write recipe creations down, I’m going to try to remember the last (approximate) apple crisp topping created:

Kathy’s topping:  Mix 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, two tablespoons vegetable oil (OK you guys can use three tablespoons if you still have good gall bladders) and three tablespoons of maple syrup, honey, agave syrup or rice syrup.  Toss in cinnamon!  Not too much, not too little.  Maybe a teaspoon if you’re into needing more exact measurements.  Now go find your nuts.  Grab a handful of pecans, chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews or whatever kind you like.  Just chop ’em up into a reasonable bite-able size.  Add to the topping mixture.  OK, and if you adore flaked coconut, add some of that, too.  That looks good, doesn’t it?   Ready for the oven.

Yellow Christmas balls of apples adorn limbs

Now put the apple crisp in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Think about how much you enjoy seeing those apple trees at the sides of roads at this time of year.  The world looks gray and bleak and the trees wave their skeleton arms at you as you pass. 

But in the midst of all that grayness, the Apple Trees still cling to their apple children!  Like red and yellow Christmas balls, they brighten up the landscape.  On a sunshiny-blue-sky day, they look awesome.  On a gray spitting snow day, their decorations look more muted, but you notice how their colors still make you feel…more festive.

Fallen apples sprinkled with sweet snow

I don’t suppose you should gather up the apples pictured above to eat now, though.  Nope, they’ve been frozen more than once and are mushier than baked crisp. They are now reserved for the deer. You should have thought about your apple crisp in the autumn.  (We don’t call this season autumn any more here.  Nope.  Even though they say winter doesn’t start for another two or three weeks, it’s definitely winter here.) 

But now your timer is beeping and the smells coming out of your oven are FABULOUS!  You thank those pioneers.  You thank the farmers.  If you can eat ice cream, go ahead and ladle a little scoop on your plate next to that steaming apple crisp.  Oh look at it melt…

Now it’s time to take a bite.  Ahhh…yessss….yum….apple crisp!

P.S.  If anyone wants to disagree about the wonderful fabulous exceptional part of this heading…your difficulty would probably be that you couldn’t find pioneer or wild apples.  Try to find ’em next year, OK?

There She Is

I started for the daily walk.  Today, November 30th, is the last day of Hunting Season.  Tomorrow we woods-lovers can return to tramping through the forest without fear of getting shot.  (Except I think some other kind of hunting season starts December 1st.  But it’s not the kind of hunting season that has lots of visitors from downstate and Wisconsin and Illinois and Ohio.)

Headed to the mailbox, humming a little, pondering all the outdoor suggestions you folks have offered (my poor mother experienced a few minutes when she could not sleep last night worried about what her daughter would write for the remaining days of the outdoor adventure, can you imagine that?  Note to self:  quit complaining!  Something always comes up.  And look at all these good new ideas.)

When suddenly.  Several feet away.  A deer.  A doe.  Staring at me eye to eye.  We considered each other.

Hi Deer

I fumbled with the shutter.  The camera sang its little greeting song, but the deer didn’t move.  Snap, snap, snap!  The camera shot its photos. 

You see, the deer wanted badly to cross the road.  But I stood too near the road.  We waited at an impasse.  The camera kept shooting.  Snap, snap, snap.

“You better be glad this isn’t a gun, dear Deer!” I said.  “I’ll bet you’re glad it’s the last day of hunting season, aren’t you?”

The deer flicked its ears and looked impatiently at the other side of the road, bored with my conversation.

Yet another shot of the very same doe

Let’s take a short commercial break before we see what happens.  Will the doe move?  Will Kathy get another shot?  Will deer season end with a trophy photograph on the wall?

Please look closely at this Stop Sign

Yes, indeed, this is the stop sign I told you about yesterday.  Our neighbor AJ had spotted the bullet hole which threatened the letter “T”.  Someone obviously felt a little frustrated because he or she couldn’t shoot a deer.  So they shot a stop sign instead. 

Back to the exciting final moments with my deer.

And she's off and running toward the other side of the road!

The camera is shooting wildly!  The deer’s white tail is up in the air!  She’s leaping!  She’s crashing through the brush!  She’s running to escape the shutter lens!

And the final photo, in dream-like haziness:

What a beauty!

I proudly returned to the house with my photo-trophies.  The deer happily bounded into the woods to meet its compatriot. 

Hunting season is over!

Finally…

Until, of course, the next deer crosses the path of this camera.  🙂

Red strawberry plant...kinda makes you think about Christmas

I have Christmas shopping plans for this weekend.  Maybe not for the Official Shopping Day, Black Friday.  But at least for Saturday.  I’m headed for Marquette (before or after a delightful luncheon with special twins in the Ishpeming/Negaunee area).  But there are a few key Christmas items which must be found.  I will join the throng of shoppers and…shop.

But I decided to first discuss the matter with the Forest on my walk today.  Just to see what the Forest thinks of our Christmas Shopping plans.  And specifically Black Friday.

Me:  Hi Forest!  How are you today?

Forest:  (silence)

Me:  I know you’re not into talking too much in words.  But I have a question for you.  What do you think about all of us humans shopping like crazy this weekend?  What do you think of Christmas?  What do you think of exchanging gifts?  What do you think of all the money we spend?

Teeny tiny little spruce tree (8 inches high?)

Forest:  silence

Me:  You’re not going to say too much are you?  Please?  Just a few words?  Even if the words don’t really explain too much.  Just try. What do you think of Black Friday?

Forest:  Look at my red strawberry leaf.  Look at my little spruce tree.  Look at my goldenrod balls.  What do they tell you?

Me:  Umm, I think…they are telling me…keep it simple.  Don’t make it so complicated.  Don’t shop just to spend money.  Really think about what we’re buying.  Try to buy gifts that express our hearts.  Is that it?

Goldenrod balls

Forest:  give from your heart.  It’s not about the money.  It’s about the small things.  Spending time with family and friends.  Sharing food, drink, beauty, gifts.  Don’t try to buy love or feelings or presence.  Give simply, from your heart, no matter how much money you spend.

Me:  But Forest, maybe we shouldn’t spend ANY money at all.  I know that would screw up the economy and everything, but maybe we should just forgo money and not give at all.  Then we wouldn’t be taking anything from You.  We wouldn’t be cutting down your trees, taking your minerals, using your resources.  Don’t you agree?  We shouldn’t spend at all?

Stick in the mud

Forest:  Don’t be a stick in the mud.  I keep telling you.  It’s not a matter of money.  It’s a matter of your heart.  It’s a matter of looking deeply to see:  What is your real intent?  When you look closely at your real intent, you’ll give simply when simple is required and lavish when lavishly is required.  Don’t just give the way you’ve always given before.  Look into your heart and intentions and then you’ll know what you’re suppose to buy.

Me:  Oh.  OK.  But that’s still hard.  Especially when you’re in the stores and everything looks so good and interesting and entertaining.

Forest:  Don’t just give or buy to satisfy the voice inside you that wants more, more, more. That doesn’t help any of us.

There are a million rocks in the lake. Give stones as gifts.

Me:  So when I go to Marquette this weekend…I am suppose to buy Christmas presents that mean something.  That share the love that I feel for family in friends.  Maybe I should give them some pretty Lake Superior stones for Christmas?  Do you think they would like that?

Forest:  silence

Me:  I wonder what everyone would say if they just got one stone for Christmas.  Hmmmm. Maybe better visit a few stores, just in case…

Dawn in the woods (see the lake? anyone see the lake?)

Tonight I am going to come clean.  Admit a huge psychological problem.   Time to tell you the ugly truth.

And the reason I can share this truth with you tonight is:  I am almost cured.

Almost.

But it’s been a long haul, a long road.

Our road. (Anyone see the lake? Do you see it?)

Imagine yourself moving to your Little House in the Big Woods.  (I am suddenly fascinated with the parallels between this life and the Laura Wilder Ingall’s Little House on the Prairie books that I read to my children before they could toddle.  Well before they started kindergarten anyway.)  Imagine yourself building an idyllic little cabin in the woods and raising children who ran wild and free building forts and playing amidst the trees.

Really imagine what this feels like.  You are surrounded by trees.  Trees everywhere.  Trees to the left, trees to the right, trees behind you, trees in front of you.  You carve out a space for a house and perhaps garage and lawn, but you’re in the forest. 

What does this mean?  It means there is no visible horizon.  You cannot see the sun set or rise, except through the blanket of tree branches.  You are always surrounded.  Your sight can no longer stretch infinitely to the north or west or east or south.  It stops.  It stops when it meets trees.

And you have to learn to live in this forest-world, without the gift of a horizon.

Trees sweeping upward into the sky

So I must tell you the ugly secret.  For much of my life here in the wood I have experienced horizon envy.  Envy of those who have a horizon.  Yes.  It was quite painful.  In the early years I begged my forest-loving husband “Please can we move down by the water?  I must have a view!  I must have a horizon!”  But my pleas fell on deaf ears.  He loved the woods.  He couldn’t imagine what his crazy wife was talking about.  And I certainly couldn’t articulate about horizon envy.

Sunset in a mud puddle (this is as good as it gets!)

The years passed.  I scurried on down to the lake as often as possible.  The kids and I camped on the doorstep of the neighbors for a long stretch.  Well, actually we kept inviting ourselves for coffee.  Because they were such wonderful people and because (this gets really ugly, I know):  they had a horizon.

Until one day I started looking at the Little Things.  The tiny plants.  The texture of bark.  The mosses.  The leaves.  Really looking deeply.  Appreciating what was there under my feet and all around in the forest.  Wow!  Details that had never before been noticed.  Subtle gifts.

The forest came alive and suddenly, one of those days, I realized I was no longer desiring the horizon.  Well, not as much anyway.  There still is a little bit of horizon envy.  It may never go away.  Especially when the best sunset you can sometimes view is a reflection in a mud puddle in your driveway.

The lake! The horizon!

Pa Ingalls moved his family out to the prairie.  They left the Big Woods and moved to a place where the horizon was all they could see.  No more being surrounded with trees.  They were on the big wide expanse of endless view.

Nope, not me.  I’ve decided.  I like this woods just fine.  As long as there is a lake you can walk to a quarter mile away.  There are Michigan mountains in this county, as well.  You can climb ’em and admire the horizon all you want.  And some of my friends have farms.  Fields stretch in all directions around their house.  You can go and breathe deep and feel like you are an eagle, looking in all directions at once.

Sometimes we just need to adjust our view

My friend Melinda visited from California once in the middle of our green and leafy summer.  She lives atop a mountain.  She couldn’t get over the claustrophobic feeling of being surrounded by trees.

I understood what she meant.

Yet I have learned that sometimes the things we need to see next are given to us in life.  I needed to open my eyes and look at the little details, the little things.  Some people may need the wider view, to live atop a mountain or beside the sea.  Sometimes what we want aren’t the same things we need. 

Yep.  That’s what I’ve learned from this challenging case of Horizon Envy.

Approaching porcupine!  Stop the car!  Try to get a photo!

Approaching porcupine! Stop the car! Try to get a photo!

OK, all you wise-cracks.  Why DID the porcupine cross the road?  To get to the other side?

There are a million answers to this one, don’t we know.  Feel free to add your opinion in the comments.  (I’ll tell you my idea if you keep reading.)

Here’s the story behind this Cutie.  We were driving back from the vicinity of Silver Mountain–do not ask which day–when suddenly the Above Porcupine began waddling across Skanee Road. 

I slammed on the brakes, excitedly grabbing for the camera.  Where was the camera anyway?  Just about nervously dropped it on the floor in the excitement of the Photographic Opportunity.

Barry, who had been snoozing at the time, was saying, “What? What?  Why are you stopping?”

Until he saw It.

And it was headed directly toward the camera!

Bingo!!

Snap, snap, snap clicked the camera shutter as the porcupine came closer.

Until there was the Porcupine, as close as could be.

Awww, isn't he cute?

Awww, isn't he cute?

And then he proceeded to waddle beneath our car.

I looked at Barry.  He looked at me.

We were stuck.  There was a porcupine beneath our car.  If we drove forward or backward, we might run him over.

What should we do?

We waited. A few cars drove by.

“Put your head out the window and see if you can see him anywhere!”  I implored my bleary-eyed passenger.

No sign of the porcupine.

(Could the answer to the above question be:  The porcupine crossed the road so he could sit under our car.  ??)

The decision to take the nature shots of the quilly fellow now seemed  a bit…questionable.  I crept forward a little, straining the ears for any sound of the slightest thump.   Nothing.

“What should we do?” I moaned.  “I don’t want to kill the porcupine.”

Neither did we want to get out and look beneath the car, perhaps getting stuck with dozens upon dozens of sharp-needled quills. 

Neither did we want to sit on the side of the road all afternoon.

Finally my passenger said,  “There he is!” and pointed to the grasses moving in the nearby ditch, our little fellow waddling away looking like he had not a single care in the world.

Why did the Porcupine cross the road?

Aspen grove in sunlight

Aspen grove in sunlight

Answer:  To nibble the aspen bark for dinner.  Porcupines, as some of you may know, dine on plants, inner tree bark, twigs and leaves.

Anyone else have a better idea?

**My husband just said the porcupine crossed the road to star in his on-line debut in this blog. 

Hmmmm…..

Deer or rabbit scat

Animal scat (Does a bear go in the woods?)

Pardon my French.

The time has come on this blog to discuss something which City Folks never talk about.  Are we ready?  If you’re not prepared to discuss…natural functions…please click over to another blog as quickly as you can.  (You can come back here tomorrow when we’ll talk about more civilized subjects.)

When you live in the town or city or suburbs, one flushes the toilet and wa-la!  The daily “eliminations” flush down the drain, never to be thought about again. 

When you live in the country or the woods, one can not completely forget one’s toilet.

“Why?” you ponder.

I shall tell you.

It’s the Secret of the Septic Tank.

Access to the Septic Tank

Access to the Septic Tank

Here comes an explanation for you city folks.  A septic tank is a huge underground tank into which descends one’s eliminations.  The natural products mix with water, breaking down.  The water filters out of the tank and the excrement (excuse me) settles. 

As the years pass by merrily, the septic tank continues to fill.  Every few years, one must telephone the septic guy and request pumping of the build-up.  Sometimes too many years pass, as one attempts to forget one’s daily…pardon me again…shit.

Perhaps ten years has passed without a second thought!  Suddenly one Remembers.  One can’t call the septic tank guy in the middle of winter. He has to shut down as soon as freezing weather arrives. If the tank plugged up in the winter  that would be an unimaginable horror.  Because one must then dig beneath several feet of snow and frozen earth, attempting to locate the elusive hole and bucket out 750 gallons by hand!  So one attempts to remember in autumn.  Except THIS autumn it’s been raining raining raining, making it almost impossible for the septic guy to back in toward the tank and begin his pumping chores.

One's husband and septic tank guy at dark with flashlight

One's husband and septic tank guy at dark with flashlight

The septic tank guy arrived at 7 p.m. last night.  It was already dark.  The husband placed planks to help the truck back up without getting stuck.  He shined lights and flashlights to help the operation.  The wife (me) stood around with a camera, flashing the septic tank guy with photographic illumination as he worked.  “It’s for my blog,” I explained smoothly.  “Any one ever take pictures of you cleaning the septic tank before?”  Surprisingly, he said Yes.  Although perhaps he looked at me a little oddly.

The septic tank truck which hauls away your human eliminations

The septic tank truck which hauls away your human eliminations

Surprisingly also, this was not a smelly job.  I thought it might be more polite to title this blog, “This is a smelly blog” but that simply would not be true.  It was a clean job, a fairly simple job.  Except, of course, if you ask my husband who had to dig down four or five feet to reach the elusive hole.  He probably thinks this was a pain in the…  well, anyway.  I didn’t have to dig.

That which takes it away

That which takes it away

The motor on the truck whirred as the juices were sucked upward.  Barry and the septic tank fellow chatted, catching up on everything that has happened in the last ten years since our previous pumping.  We all decided to remember to pump again sooner.  Maybe in four or five years.  We must write it on the calendar!  Someone has to remember these things.

I quickly grew bored with the pumping festivities and began to play with flash photography.  Hey, look at those branches!  Hey, look at that shadow of the moon! 

Hey look up in that spruce tree...

Hey look up in that spruce tree...

So there you have it.  A perfectly shitty blog.  I will try to be more polite for the rest of the year.  But couldn’t avoid telling you about this outdoor adventure.  Hope you all…enjoyed it…

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