Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Relative Temperature

Around these parts, when the temp hits 46 in September you think you are going to freeze to death. When it hits 46 in January you think you've died and gone to heaven.

Last week when we were freezing our keesters off, my mom told me to look forward to my grandma's birthday on January 27 because it usually meant a reprieve from the arctic temperatures. Grandma's birthday = January thaw.

January 27th was a great day with temps well above freezing. My dog, Gretchen, and I went for a walk.

Gretchen enjoying the January thaw.

Fence in the snow
Fence in the snow.

Corn stalks
Corn stalks

January 28th proved to be a better day yet when the temps hit the "died and gone to heaven" range. I scooped snow out of the lane in front of the house. I still couldn't penetrate the 2" thick glacier to find the actual lane, but I tried. It was almost too warm for a coat. It was a beautiful day.

This morning I woke to the sound of the wind sweeping down the plains. Gale force. A poor little hairy woodpecker clung to the tree afraid to take a ride on the swinging suet basket. Then it started to snow. Sideways. Temps dropped and the wind chill factor was -40. Travel was not advised. Roads closed.

At 5 p.m. I ventured out to throw seed to the birds and get the mail. The visibility had improved a great deal, but the temperature was no better. There were sun dogs, always a sign that it is too damn cold. I wanted to picture them, but you are going to have to settle for a picture that I took on New Year's Day. Another damn cold day.

Sun Dogs
Sun Dogs on New Year's Day.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Feeding Critters

It has been so cold. And it's snowed. And did I mention it has been cold?

I have been feeding the birds every day. We've had one squirrel here for a long time. Word must have gotten around that there are good eats at Crab & PJ's because now there are two squirrels who visit.

Here are some pics from my critter cam, shot through a dirty, foggy window.


Squirrel with snow face
Snow face.

Blue Jay with squirrel
Blue Jay and Squirrel


There is a January thaw in our forecast. You can't imagine how happy I will be when the temperature reaches 32 degrees above zero.

Friday, January 18, 2008


TV is a great anesthetic. My dentist knows this and has installed a TV for every exam chair in his office. I think genecologists should take a page from Dr. Larry's book and follow suit. Only their TV's would be on the ceiling, facing down.

I have a rule at the dentist: show no pain. If you show pain, they know there is a problem. If there is a problem, they will cause more pain trying to identify the problem. Once they identify the problem, there are many more expensive (and painful) visits. Therefore, it is important to show no pain while getting teeth cleaned and examined. The television helps me do that.

Usually the hygenist lets me choose what I want to watch while I zone out. But this morning I had my first ever 8 a.m. appointment. I found out the rules are different in the morning. Cindy the hygenist watches "the news" and there are no movies, sit com reruns or game shows on. Only "the news".

The news she watches is the CBS morning show. The first story I was subjected to was about the photographers who got arrested after chasing Brittany Speers. It was an in-depth story!

"This isn't news!" I tried to exclaim. Of course it sounded like "FITH IMMT MWZ!" But Cindy, having years of translating experience, knew what I meant. She agreed that indeed, it wasn't news, but didn't change the channel.

I was subjected to stories so fluffy they might as well have meowed before hacking up a hair ball. I don't think ugly bridesmaid dresses belong in a news program. I don't believe (no matter how much Harry Smith raved in a long food segment) that tuna belongs in a taco. And I do not care one little bit about Brittany Speers and the people who chase her. I don't even care that I've probably misspelled her name so please don't bother to correct me.

The next time I have a morning appointment, I'm going to take a radio and listen Morning Edition on NPR. Now there's some news.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


I wonder if the rest of the country felt the rush of air as thousands left Iowa Friday morning. What a loss for us. We will have to wait for another crappy president and for dozens of people fighting for the job before we have the same level of -- overkill. Every Pizza Ranch in Iowa is feeling the pain of declining revenue.

I got the township report from a friend last night. A whopping 16 showed up for the caucus. Where were they when Howard needed them?? Howard still sends me emails. I still love him and still think we should be voting him in for his second term - but whatever, people. You had your chance.

It was my friend's first caucus and she was excited and energized by it. She will be a delegate for John Edwards at the county convention, for what that's worth. In my experience, it's not worth much but I will let her ride that wave of excitement until she crashes on the beach of tedium at the convention. Live and learn.

I was pleasantly surprised (bowled over) by Obama's victory. Bully for him! I didn't think the people of Iowa had it in them. It was especially sweet since the newspaper that Iowa supposedly depends on endorsed Hillary. And every television channel had me convinced that she would win.

My township gets to send 3 delegates to the convention. They are evenly split. One each for Obama, Clinton and Edwards. Who'd a thunk it? You know I didn't.

In other caucus news, my mother called me today. My brother brought her a Des Moines Register he got in Boone yesterday. (On his birthday -- Happy Birthday, Little Brother! This is your card! Too bad you don't have a computer!) She asked if I got the paper. Well, yes and no. I get the Register, but not the one people in Des Moines read. They read a big fat newspaper. The paper they get in Boone is somewhat bit and fat, and the farther north you go in Iowa, the thinner the reading. I get very thin reading.

Mom was so excited because there was a photo of her best friend attending the caucus in Waukee. I searched (slowly on dial-up) and finally found it. And here it is.

Mom's best friend attending the caucus
Mom's best friend

My mother's best friend is a Republican. Mom says it is her best friend's only fault.

I also found this picture. And I found it disturbing.

Every caption I thought of is scandalous and possibly slanderous.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dear Volunteer

While I admire your conviction and loyalty to candidate X, I really have to tell you -- I just don't care anymore.

While I do have my concerns, (I think a Hillary Clinton nomination would be a disaster at this time) I just don't care enough. You have succeeded with your bombardment of fliers and constant phone calls to kill any enthusiasm you may have generated at some other time.

In case you haven't noticed, I quit answering my phone weeks ago. Oh sure, it was fun at first dissing the current administration with you and listening to why your candidate is superior. But that was then. This is now.

This is the most hyped nomination process ever. I am sick of it. I know it is an important nomination but I've been to the caucus and I know how it goes.

The first caucus I went to in 1988 was exciting. The town hall was full. We argued and cajoled. I lost my candidate (Jesse Jackson, I believe) to the stupid math involved in viability (well, that plus I was probably the only one in the heart of the farmer-land to vote for a black guy). I can't remember who won our precinct. I do remember I got a plank in the party platform that never made it past the county convention (the next step). It was all fun nonetheless.

The next caucus I went to was held at a different place. It was in a bigger town, only our tiny precinct was not involved in the doings of the town. It irritated me that we had to travel when we have our own precinct.

We were stuck in a corner by ourselves to argue. There were 4 of us. I was the only one caucusing for my candidate. John Edwards won our precinct, I think. And he ended up not getting the nomination. This year I know 2 caucus goers who are going to vote for Edwards. So what's the point of my going? To hear myself talk? Even Captain Crab does not listen to me.

In conclusion, dear volunteer, I would like to say: Thank heavens it ends tomorrow. I'm glad I'm not a registered independent: I would get calls from both parties. Sheesh.

And to those of you who have been fed up with the current administration for years -- don't blame me. If I had my way Howard Dean would be running for re-election this year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

This is For the Birds

Frank at the bar was taunting me the other night by telling me his friend shot "my" rooster pheasant. I let him believe it was the only pheasant in the world and there were no more to be had. This morning I am watching a rooster pheasant roosting in the cedar trees right outside my window. Ha.

There are plenty of pheasants around here. I make sure to throw bird seed on the ground so they will find food. The poor pheasants are still waiting for the cracked corn I asked Captain Crab to pick up for me.

Pheasants in the Yard
Pheasants in the yard

Pheasants in big tree
Pheasant in big tree

Pheasant in little tree
Pheasant in little tree

This morning's rooster

Speaking of birds, I had a Christmas miracle. The day after Christmas I went out to feed my birds. It is the most exciting time of the day for my dog Gretchen. She nearly turns herself inside out as I bundle up to go outside. If she could talk she would be shouting, "We're going out! We're going out!" while spinning in circles.

Out we went with Gretchen crashing through the door as soon as I cracked it. As I was filling the feeder I heard a commotion. Gretchen had a blue jay! Here is the first miracle: I told her to stop and she did.

The blue jay lay there with his wings spread out. For a while, he seemed to be gasping for breath with his little beak. I didn't know what to do. Finishing him off seemed like the humane thing to do but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Heartsick, I went back to the house.

A few minutes later I looked out to see the blue jay standing up and looking around. He looked confused. Later when I looked, he was gone. So that was my Christmas miracle. I'll take what I can get.

Blue Jays
Blue Jays

I love my birds. I get excited when someone new comes to visit me. I was a little sad to have missed this visitor who came to my door while I was out one day.

Bird Prints
I had a visitor