Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Don't fear the reaper

Well I've been quiet more than chatty in a lot of areas of my life these days, this blog included. It's mainly due to my own icky feelings, ones which I hoped would just go away on their own but which, as it turns out, I need to air in order to deal with.

After a much briefer pity party than usual, I spent the rest of the time the sun was up on Christmas day walking in the woods with my new binoculars and the animal tracks field guide I bought at the remaindered bookstore. I ended up using the former more than the latter and found the expected squirrel and deer tracks, but also a nice set of male turkey tracks, and what was possibly a critter from the weasel family.

Now I find myself wanting to go the ocean to look at what the tide brought in post-blizzard but unlike walking in the woods I don't like being alone on the beach, and I'm not sure why. I miss KBH especially as I have fond memories of walking Rye beach in NH post-hurricane several moons ago and finding all sorts of neat stuff, including an incredibly ugly googly-eyed fish that KBH seriously considered bringing in to show her students.

Anyhoo. Back to Christmas. After walking in the woods, I rode shotgun beside PolackPappy in the dress Volvo out to my hometown, where we visited his one-good-eyed fisherman friend Dennis the Menace and his swell wife. (Pp has started delivering them leftover roast beast and other treats from our Xmas Eve festivities because they're alone on 12/25 and they like the company and the food.)

While Pp loaded the trunk with firewood, Mrs. D the M politely answered my questions about what it was like spending 70-plus years in our shared hometown, and then bemoaned the "people from South Boston" that had moved in in the last 30 or so years. (Pp is one of those "people" but he was a real trendsetter, showing up 40 years ago.) "They just don't understand country living," she said, as she rocked in her chair in front of the hearth her husband built by hand.

By country living she meant that sometimes - whether to eat them or to put the kibosh on things - you had to shoot animals, or catch them in traps and then shoot them. I totally got what she was saying. And I felt lucky to have had a childhood where I learned those things, followed by an early adulthood where I've been taught city lessons.

Then she told me the guy from the fire department who'd ridden around the entire town every Christmas Eve on the back of an alarm-blaring fire truck shouting "Merry Christmas!" through a bullhorn had felt ill this past fall, gone to the hospital, and died a few days later, and wasn't that a great way to go. Nice and fast, and neat. She also shared that her sister, who was the town librarian (though I don't remember her) and she hadn't spoken in 40 years, and she couldn't exactly remember why.

Before Pp and I headed back to the McPolack homestead, D the M showed me the blood-and-fur speckled sawed-off skull slice with antlers from one of the bucks he shot this year. The antlers were both snapped off almost completely owing to the buck having been in a heck of a fight at some point.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Goats are beavers too

Yesterday was the annual McFamily Christmas extravaganza and it did not disappoint. Highlights included R, who is just shy of two months old, falling asleep in my arms while clutching my dress in one of his wee fists, and Uncle D, who is a few years shy of 80, telling me about how he narrowly escaped injury this fall in the woods behind his house.

He'd been working his way through what turned out to be 18 cords of firewood, all culled from his big backyard, when he heard a cracking sound. Suddenly a ginormous tree came crashing down too close for comfort! Once Uncle D recovered from the shock he noticed nibble marks around a lot of tree trunks. It was the goats! Though they get milked in the kitchen, they are wild beasts at heart.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Natural high

Today at the LNFU I tried to figure out if I could get from point A to point B by cutting through a couple of buildings. I went up some stairs and around some corners and up some more stairs and through some doors and I asked a Chinese guy if he knew the way but he said I'd be better off not trying...

Luckily I did not listen to him because the very next door I went through deposited me in a wing of the natural history museum. I remember being at the same museum a few years ago and watching someone disappear through a door up on the taxidermied bird balcony and feeling jealous. And today I magically appeared near some dead mammals.

It was awesome.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Story time!

Dr. Moo brought me some maple cream on Saturday.

She also brought me some stories!

Story 1: Dr. Moo and Mr. Moo went to the Unitarian church, which is where Mr. Moo's parents go. Stuffed animals were brought out for the kids' sermon. There were three stuffed elephants and one stuffed dragon. But the dragon kept insisting he was an elephant on the inside. None of the other elephants believed him at first but the the dragon trumpeted and they realized that he was in fact an elephant-in-dragon.

Story 2: One of the other vets in Dr. Moo's practice stopped by at a fiftysomething bachelor dairy farmer's place and noticed a room in the barn filled with crates of kitties. Naturally this worried him.

Turns out the humane society was responsible for bringing the cats, who were feral. The farmer already has a lot of cats and he takes good care of them; he'd agreed to let some more kitties live on his property and to feed them.

The vet breathed a sigh of relief and told the farmer he'd been worried there was a crazy old single cat lady on the loose.

"Where!?" asked the lonely bachelor farmer, excitedly.

Better than kneed buck

At Thanksgiving, cousin T asked me why I never visited her and I didn't have a good answer. So I said I'd be by soon. When I mentioned this to Dr. Moo she said she wanted to come. Then cousin T invited Auntie P and some other folks and so on Saturday we had ourselves a lady-fest, save poor Trevor, who is four, and poor Jim, who is a lot older than four and therefore can drive and so spent much of the day running errands.

Aunt P taught us all how to make her Swedish tea ring and I discovered that aside from Aunt P none of the other women in that kitchen knew how to knead dough. And one of them doesn't know how to spell it either. She wrote "kneed doe" on her recipe card.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Loss of consortium

I had jury duty today and I learned a new legal term.

I managed to get myself to Woburn by 8 AM, which is when the postcard said. My on-time arrival was partly motivated by my intrinsic fear of authority but also due to my spending more than an hour the night before doing research online, printing directions, packing snacks and things to do, and laying out my outfit. Because I am a bit useless in the morning. I sometimes crash into things, actually. I have my life set up right now so I don't have to do anything of consequence before 10, and my alarm goes off before 7. This means my workday runs pretty late but I do SO MUCH BETTER outside the traditional 9 to 5 confines.

But I digress.

When I got to the assembly room I almost sat right in the front row so I could have an aisle seat and lots of legroom. But this wasn't an airplane ride and I'm young and sort of fit so I sat in the second row instead, next to a jacket and a bag.

Next to the jacket and bag was a WASPy-looking elderly gentleman in a nice grey sweater. He had the aisle seat. I got the sense he wasn't interested in mingling with the great unwashed. He didn't make a peep until a judge showed up to explain the importance of the judicial process (and shame a trashy lady for eating popcorn) and then he laughed and laughed at all of the judge's jokes.

Later my WASP-y rowmate revealed that beneath his sweater beat the heart of Joy Behar. We were among the first group to be called up to a courtroom, where I ended up sandwiched between him and another chatty cathy who'd started flapping her gums at me in line for the loo. I'm pretty sure we weren't supposed to make a peep unless spoken to but once we'd been waiting, I don't know, five minutes, Mr. Joy Behar started gossiping with the guy next to him.

I was practicing my breathing but then decided to practice my doing-the-Friday-NYTimes-crossword-puzzle-in-pen skills instead. Midway through 75-across, Joy elbowed me and pointed to the short bearded gentleman having a sidebar with the judge. "See that guy?" said Joy. "This guy next to me says that guy brought a knife with him in his bag. A knife! Imagine! How stupid can you be?"

"Oh goodness," I said. I've used this term before in the crazy un-yoga Israeli army/KGB/immortality fitness class I sometimes take on Thursdays and been laughed at. It was more appropriate here.

Soon it was my turn at the sidebar, and the fact that I'd sat on a jury that awarded no damages and found no liability at a civil case 10 years ago meant there was no way the plaintiff's attorney wanted me on this jury. So I got to go home. To celebrate, I worked out at the law school gym at the LNFU before heading to work.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Happy nerds

The lab at the LNFU was all abuzz yesterday as one of the former members was going to be holding a press conference to announce something big. As there have been visitors to the lab that people have gotten excited about but I've never heard of, I wasn't holding my breath.

Well perhaps I should have been, because this was what they were excited about. It was nice to be a subatomic office particle, filling out reimbursement forms and processing receipts while at the next desk over a bunch of scientists-in-training watched one of their own change the world.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I am a terrible hippie

Cousin B rightly noted the above fact when I announced how much I love air conditioning. And boy do I ever. I wish I had central air. That would be a dream come true. I hate, hate, hate to be hot; hot and sticky is even worse. It's still not cold enough out for me, as a matter of fact. I walked to work Monday and Tuesday and when I got in I was sweaty. What the hell, warming trend? Where is my ice age?

Anyhoo,the walking to work was/is an attempt to fit in some meditating, some additional fitness, and quit killing my planet with gas fumes (from my car, that is, heh heh). I am 1.5 miles from the LNFU yet the fastest I can get in there is 15 minutes. Public transportation is expensive and ineffectual, the idea of riding a bike in is terrifying, and walking takes half an hour or so.

Really I suppose I shouldn't be pissing and moaning at all about this since I know plenty of people commute a long way. But I specifically set my life up and made trade-offs to avoid wasting my time. And I bet I hate wasting it more than you do!