Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Sounds of Fall

Changing seasons present lots of visual elements; but there are lots of sounds that signal changes as well.

Here's my list so far:

1. The Northern Flickers signal their arrival by tapping on anything that might contain bugs. That's one in the photo. They love to tape on our eaves and then wait for a meal to drop. They are a pretty amazing bird; they can walk up and down a wall thanks to an extraordinary tail that holds them up. I heard their first taps just a few days ago. They will be gone by spring.

2. Acorns dropping out of our oak tree onto the deck make a thud sound. I've actually been hit by one as have the cats. Not something I look forward to again. They remind me of the Native Americans who roamed this area many years ago. Acorns were a mainstay of their diet. Now we just have a Native American casino; I don't go there because people are allowed to smoke. My lungs hate smoke.

3. It's almost duck hunting season so many more people are using the outdoor shooting range in Lincoln. I wake up to the pop of guns nearly every morning. Hunters refer to it as harvesting waterfowl. No matter how you view it, the ducks die.

4. My oven timer goes off more this time of year. In the summer it's the most under-used appliance in the kitchen. Now I'm cooking casseroles and other things with many ingredients. The oven goes off when it reaches the temperature I want and when the item is finished baking. Love those sounds.

5. In about two weeks the irrigation season will be over with; the ditch will go dry. Right now it makes a gurgling sound that will soon disappear until next April. I will miss it.

So those are some of my thoughts on fall. It is one of my favorite seasons. Actually I like three of our seasons; it's just summer that can be a bit tiresome.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

A Dog With Many Jobs

And she's good at all of them. In this photo Harleen is diligently working to keep my side of the bed warm until I return for my nap in about an hour. Then she somewhat ungraciously moves over to Kerry's side. When he comes to nap, then she's stuck in the middle. Her position then is perpendicular to us so one of us gets her butt and one gets her face. Truth be told, I prefer the butt; she snores like a freight train sometimes. And she's too young to pass gas.

She is the family timekeeper; she knows when it's 5 p.m. and time to eat. And she thinks of herself as a vacuum cleaner; she loves to eat anything that lands on the floor.

The cats rely on her for exercise in the house when she chases them. They, however, have taught her the art of cuddling with a cat or two. The yin and yang of animal life.

With the weather changing all the animals have stayed a bit closer to home. The cats normally race out of the animal dorm in the morning. Today that didn't happen. They stayed cuddled together in their little cat bed that sits on top of a dog crate (not being used at the moment). They were bathed in early morning sunlight.

The weather has shifted away from the hellish heat of the summer. We are having mild to cool mornings, early sunsets and great sleeping weather with the windows still open. I'm going to make bread this week now that it's cooler.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Uncle Leo's Curls

Uncle Leo was my mom's brother; he died in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany six weeks before I was born. One of many young lieutenants sacrificed to the God of War. His mom, my wonderful grandmother, never stopped mourning his death.

When she died in 1970, we found Leo's curls (really ringlets) in a Fanny Farmer candy box. She had saved them all those years. Eventually, my sister became the keeper of the curls. She and I have talked a lot about what to do with them. This trip to Minneapolis we figured it out.

We took them to the cemetery where grandma and grandpa are buried, dug a small hole just below grandma's headstone and placed the curls in it. We covered them in dirt and grass and then watered them.

Sort of a macabre story, but it felt good to bring her son to her at last. He's buried at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery.

Vicky brought her weed whacker so we could clean up the graves. By the time we left they were tidied up and flowers were placed between the two headstones.

The story of how we got to John the Baptist Cemetery in Savage, Minnesota is only slightly less macabre. Vicky thought it was in the nearby town of Shakopee. I couldn't remember at all. She Mapquested it for Shakopee, Those directions took us to the county building. I put the name of the cemetery into my iPhone GPS. That time we ended up at a funeral home.

Surely someone there would know where the cemetery was. I went it and found all the lights were out. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and the lights came on. Scared the living daylights out of me. The funeral director was most apologetic for scaring me. He had a call to take but assured me he'd be back.

I had to go to the bathroom, which was right next to the room I was in. I was sure that as soon as I went into the ladies room he would appear. Finally I really had to go so left my chair. As soon as I sat down I heard his office door open. Damn. I flushed, hurriedly washed my hands and went out. He had printed out a map of how to get to the cemetery with landmarks.

Turns out it was in the neighboring town of Savage. So off we went again. His directions were terrific.

That's how I spent my last day in Minneapolis. I'm really glad we did it.