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When did I become an “Old Person”? Part 3

18 July 2015

            I think becoming an Old Person might have something to do with saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to loved friends like pets that shared our home. Those pets (smaller family members) included dogs, cats, birds, horses, rabbit, hamster and guinea pigs. Some of these goodbyes happened post-mortem. They were said beside homes in the ground with the passed friends in containers that might be shoeboxes or paper towel tubes. The holes were in the lawn where tears watered the earth around and atop their graves.
            Some small family members simply vanished from the house. Taken by forces that prowl around the farm. Sometimes we hear the predator’s calling to one another in the night. Four of our cats left us in quieter ways after being cried over in a vet’s neon illuminated rooms. Our previous dogs were all loved before and long after making their last visit to the vet office. Their ashes were scattered over fence lines that they prowled or in yards where they watched over toddlers or along hiking trails they loved.
            Perhaps Old age comes with recognition that we can and must be responsible for helping friends pass to the next stage of life. We do this by helping them pass beyond endless agony of twisted limbs or obstructed intestines. We help them when cancer has robbed them of mobility. We help them when age has made them so debilitated that they can no longer stand, where lying down in a blessing even if they don’t rise from the last recumbent position. For our largest friends we have brought in large excavating equipment to dig graves and settle them with finality that requires appropriate homage paid in memory of their gifts to us as family members with shorter life spans than the human members.
            In those moments when final goodbyes are hindered by sobs and closed throats, I age more rapidly and become older more quickly than when standing in a newly mown field or on a shaded hiking trail.

More later,
Doc

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15 July 2015

When did I become an “Old Person”? Part 2

            I think becoming an Old Person might have something to do with acquiring housing for a family. Spouse and I have purchased four houses in the past many years. The most recent one is the only one that we’ve lived in long enough to pay off the mortgage (note the first four letters of that term – MORT – as it DEAD {just a random “Old Guy” observation})
            I remember watching my parents down a whole bottle of champagne the night they wrote the final mortgage check for their house in Virginia. They were the happiest folks I’d seen in a long time – and it was because they were plowed on champagne. They were pleased to own their own home, free of bank interest payments and other obligations – though they still had to pay taxes on the place.
            Their house was the first and second-to-last house they bought. It was in Fairfax County, Virginia on Dogue Creek. It initially had four bedrooms and two bathrooms. With NINE people living in it between the ages of 18 and 1, it could become a bit crowded at times. They made do.
            We had an acre and a half to mow and play in. The creek held its own secrets and delights. In the late spring, the herring would run up the creek and we were treated to the odor of dead fish and burning car tires as endless mobs of people tried to “Dip Net” the fish from the creek. We saw LOTS of fish flash in homemade chicken wire nets into buckets and the like.
            Yes, we caught some too, but when Dad said, “If you catch ‘em, you gotta clean ‘em and then eat ‘em. Well, when faced with this dictum, this young person quickly lost interest in the whole project.
            Spouse and I did celebrate our last mortgage payment pretty much in the same way our folks did. It was good champagne.
            Perhaps that was when I passed into Old Person territory (though I think it might of have been something/sometime else.

Stay tuned

Doc

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When did I become an “Old Person”?

14 July 2015

When did I become an “Old Person”?

            The next few entries will be a presentation of my thoughts on the aging process. Be Warned.
            I have been developing a list of events that may have been the turning point for my entry to the “Old People” corral (yes, I have looked up the definition of Corral – have you?)

Becoming OLD might include (among other events):
            Graduating with BS, BA, MA or MD degrees from various institutions.
Graduating from an institution of “Higher Learning” might convey a tap on the shoulders for making through an endless (almost) series of lectures, quizzes, exams and theses defenses. The work involved with each of the events was (at the time) tremendous, though looking back, perhaps not so much. Was graduation a demonstration of a developed skill in reading, sitting and staying awake at books, lectures and labs? I think not.

            Graduating was an acknowledgement that the work that preceded the event was sufficient to meet minimal requirements set by an anonymous persons sitting on Board of Governors, Chancellors, Directors, or Deans who set an arbitrary bar that students must jump or shimmy under (your choice) in order to receive the rolled parchment or tubed paper that had raised seals and signatures.
            Graduation was, for me, an event that recurs each time I look at the framed papers on the wall near my desk. They were – with one exception – associated with tears, sobs and emotional tumult that rise with varying severity each time I look at them. I cannot say for you.
            I will say that when I received each piece of paper, someone shook my hand and my anxiety that I hadn’t been discovered for the fraud I was immediately encumbered with handcuffs or loud admonitions.
            I wonder each time I recall the events – “What were they thinking?” when someone put a tube in my hand. My first undergraduate degree capped the most arduous work for reasons that go beyond this essay. I will say that those four years were the most dreadful that I have ever suffered through – and remember: I am an Old Guy. The next was filled with fear that they’d change their mind and withhold the tube for reasons that they’d keep secret. They didn’t and family members cheered. The third was in a quiet ceremony and deservedly so. It was a BA in Sociology from a small Vermont college who understood “mature” students and gave them the latitude to question the lectures and point out flaws in pedagogical presentations. The most recent, the MA in Women’s Studies, was the most intellectually difficult because it required me THINK about the things I was reading and present cogent observations and cogent defenses for my thoughts [I just sobbed thinking about the work and joy it engendered both within and without the classroom settings] The MA was transformative. Perhaps in another entry I’ll explore the changes that it brought about.

More later,
Doc
 

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10 June 2015

Kimchi Success – again, Readercon 26 – Here I Come, Transplanted Lilac

            Kimchi is just pickled vegetables with hot stuff and such. I make mine WITHOUT garlic because I like to be able to speak to folks and not have to fear that their spectacles will melt or that their facial hair will combust. I have found that by adding a bit of the previous batch into the “Sauce” that goes through the food processor, I inoculate the newer batch with the good bacteria that made the last batch so tangy. Experimenting with different vegetables is also a good thing. I tossed in some mint with the last batch and will do so again with the next creation.

            Readercon has been out of my reach for the past few years due to lots of things. This year I am able to attend. I am a MUCH happier lad to been able to attend. The reservation (with confirmation number) means I have a room to sleep in (should the need arise). The online membership payment by credit card failed, but truly, “The Check is in the Mail”. I am very much looking forward to attending.

            As previously noted, one of horses suffered colic and died in February. Spouse and I (with help of a friend’s excavator and some lifting straps) planted a mature lilac between the gravesites of the two horses that died over the past 5 months. It was sad all over again. We moved their name plates from their stalls to the nearby wood fence rails. All is well again.

More later,
Doc



 

Cold Spring Continues (sigh)

24 March 2015

Cold Spring Continues (sigh)

            If you wonder why weather part of my usual commentary, be assured that it is not because it is an easy one. Weather, here in New Hampshire is Hard/Harsh. I’ve previously mentioned the near record cold in February. March is also like to set or come near records as well. Today’s opening salvo was 7.8F (by the LL Bean weather station). Thankfully, the wind was not trying to tear the roof off, or knock down the barn and other outbuildings.
            Sublimation is the likely cause that our fields have gone from 36+” snow depth to less than 18”. The dogs love it, because the bright sunlight has caused the upper crust to harden to the point that they can now run ON TOP of the snow instead of porpoising through chest-deep field snow whilst trying to track down the submerged rodents.

More later,
Doc
 

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22 March 2015

Kimchi – SUCCESS!!, The Winter that Wouldn’t End

            Well, as previously reported, the first kimchi batch went the way of all failed food failures. I double bagged it and hand, with some reluctance, handed it over to our rubbish person. The second batch overflowed the gas lock and had to be tamed with more thumping to get the liquid and vegetables to pack back down. I was happy that I remembered to put the fermentation jar in a deep bowl. The escaped liquid was easy to deal with and all is well. Notice the stained trap chamber – this was After thumping, sampling and resealing. BTW: very yummy.



            Yesterday was sunny with temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit. Lots of snow gave up its current formulation and lapsed back to water filling the stream outside the kitchen. This morning, I was dismayed to see the temperature was 12F with winds gusting to 30mph. The weather service posted both wind and wind-chill advisories. Winds are gusting to 45mph and the wind-chill is at or below 1F (Not as bad as the prior warning (-5F). Yes, it’s spring, but NOT in New Hampshire (today).

Sigh

Doc
 

True Kimchi Failure, Weather (sigh)

21 March 2015

True Kimchi Failure, Weather (sigh)

            I posted an addendum to my 20 March 2015 entry to the effect that my first kimchi batch might be alive – as in slow to start its fermentation. I was correct in my first impression – it is dead. I discarded it this morning having noted that the water trap hadn’t moved all day. The bubbles that I found yesterday were simply dislodged from pockets disturbed by my thumbing the jar on a wad of newspaper (sigh). The good news is that batch #2 is moving right along.
            I’m off to start pickling cucumbers today to see if that skill lies within my capabilities. Sandor Katz’s book “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods” is still within easy reach. He admits to failures as well as successes and this is highly encouraging to a fermentation wannabe.

            We’re to have more NE Medley fall on us today. The forecaster mentions mixed precipitation with 1-3” accumulation. I have to wonder if the depth is for snow or rain. I’m certain that I will find out in due time.

More later,
Doc
 

Kim chi Update - correction

When I was fabricating the second batch and (as instructed) PACKED it down, I also used yesterday's newspaper as a cushion and tapped the filled jar gently and this resulted in better packing than I could do with my implements (my hands are too big to get into the jar). The resulting "Tapping" caused the batch to settle even more. A good discovery.
  I thought - hey, what about batch one? So, it brought it out and did the same sort of tapping and noticed the presence of LOT of bubbles along the side of the glass - SO - I'll keep it around for a few more days - just in case it's alive in a way that is different than YouTube presenations' batches.

More later,
Doc
20 March 2015

First Day Of SPRING!, Kim chi first attempt, Square Foot Gardening Anew

            Spring arrives this evening at dinnertime. I will raise an appropriate libation in salute. I don’t know a lot about your setting except I have seen snow in several blog photos. More than a few of my posts have had winter complaints dealing with snow, ice, and the New England Medley. The NE Medley is not yet passed for this year but I hope to have/experience fewer in the next few months. The farm’s first fence rails are showing, and the driveway hardpack has broken through the covering ice sheet. These are our first signs of spring. Should a robin show up in the next few weeks, it will be a reflection of an end-of-life flight.



            Well, all chefs see a meal go up in charcoal. In my case the jar (see below) that held my first effort at making a fermented Korean condiment has not done ANYTHING since its assembly, four days ago. I consider this a failure and will presently be in with other non-recyclables headed to the dump (sigh).
I think I had several failure points: I mixed the cabbage and saltwater in a stainless steel bowl. I opened the container after only 8 hours and let in LOTS of fresh air/oxygen. I probably didn’t rinse the cabbage fully enough before adding in the other vegetables. I left the concoction out in the room with lights on and exposed to ambient sunlight. Any one of the above may have caused the failure. The current batch is made with NO exposure to metal beyond knife blades. I’ll report back in four days after packing the current batch off to a warm closet.



           I had a square-foot garden (SFG) at my previous hose. It produced lots of good things. Life got busy and even though I’ve been in this house for (really?) 12+ years, I’ve only now found the time to research and get ready for another SFG. This one will be on the deck outside the dining area and visible from the kitchen’s sink window.
           I plan on 2’x4’ beds along each exterior rail and if these turn out well, I’ll put 4’x4’ setting over the decks central area. The plan is have castors under the legs supporting the raised beds so that I can move them aside in the winter. Assembly plans are under consideration – like how high off the deck do I want the bottom of the beds and what materials to use for their construction. Too ugly, and Spouse will have legitimate concerns, too tall and the harvest will be hard to reach, too heavy and the wheels will not roll over the deck’s plank joints etc. I’ll post construction images as they come to fruition.

More later,
Doc

Windy and COLD, No Bubbles

18 March 2015

Windy and COLD, No Bubbles

            Yesterday was a typical New Hampshire Late Winter Day. It was 24F when I went to do morning farm chores. I left the farm for some “Out and About” tasks and returned at 1pm where the temperature was not 40F. I distributed hay to the herd, stripped off their winter jackets and hauled them all back to the barn in the cart that I’d used to bring out the hay.
            At 4:30pm, the rising winds and newly falling snow in conjunction with a 20 degree drop in temperature brought the wind-chill factor below zero. I went to the paddock and brought the horses back into the barn, rejacketed them all (one was slightly shivering) and distributed more hay, filled water buckets and hay bags (one had bag had to be rescued from the adjacent woods where the wind had driven it against some saplings). The shivering stopped before all chores were completed.
            I returned to the barn at 1030pm to put the geldings out with more hay, refilled water buckets and stall hay bags.
            I was a tired lad by 1130pm when I fell into sleep.

            My kimchi is not bubbling after 36 hours. I added a bit more water to facilitate vegetable coverage and put it back in the warm dark pantry to see if things would move along. If there are no bubbles by Friday, I’ll throw it all out and start again. Fermentation is not for the weak heart. I am pleased that the whole cost of the aggregate vegetables is less than $3 (less than the cost of a small pint jar of organic fresh kimchi from my local Asian market). My jar is 2 quarts.

More later,
Doc