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Friday, January 30, 2015

What I did today


I woke up to the six a.m.,  two hour delay phone call, then the eight a.m. deteriorating weather conditions, school is cancelled call.

At nine, with no breakfast, with the Siruba in the front seat, I set out on the twenty minute trip to the Geo. E. Johnson Company, the only industrial sewing machine company for six states around. Deteriorating weather conditions be damned.

Several days ago I effected a trade with my weaver friend Linda for the old Siruba serger. The industrial machine we used to sew thousands of garments from hand woven cotton fabric. We also serged off the ends of thousands of hand woven rugs, prior to sewing down the bound edge and putting them up for sale at a show. When we retired I sold the Siruba to Linda to bind off the edges of all the bags she made, and the occasional bound rug. She had an old Jukki at the time she could not get to working well. If your eyes are glazed over, these are just big sewing machines for a more professional job. Faster, too, but I could never get beyond first gear, which is fine for me.


They don't authorize this stuff with me, first!

I traded Linda our old, four thread Bernina  home serger for the Siruba. The operative word is old; more than twenty years old. Heavy. Sturdy. Another little work horse. Except, it was not making the bottom loop properly, so I took it to our industrial sewing machine fellows, Alex and Jerry, before I turned it over. Alex is eighty something, suffering more and more from dementia, but knows how sewing machines sew. He put the home serger on the bench, began testing the threads, then delivered me quite the lecture on not having the lower looper thread completely between the tension plates, which solved the problem. He doesn't remember who I am or that I have been a customer for more than twenty years, but sewing machines don’t fool him.


Appears to be leaving again!

When the Siruba, which weighs eighty or so pounds, compared to the fifteen pound home serger, was set up, one looper thread was jamming and breaking. We checked all the thread paths, cleaned the moving parts to within an inch of their being, changed the needles—nothing. The lower looper thread jammed and broke on every seam attempted. So, as mentioned a couple paragraphs ago, I set out with the Siruba on the front seat, for the Geo. E. Johnson Company.

The school report was absolutely correct; deteriorating weather conditions. The northbound trip took me more than an hour. But of course I got there. I was on a mission. Jerry put the machine on the bench, checked all the thread paths, then the threads. Once more the lecture, be sure all the threads are securely in their tension plates. The lower looper thread was not! Home again, home again, by eleven. Southbound traffic moved just fine.


Back and ready to rock and roll.

The mission was to use the Siruba for a marathon sewing weekend AND to be home in time for my appointment for the B/L MBB at 1 pm, arrive thirty minutes prior. That’s short for bilateral medial branch block.

Eventually I was face down on a table. The nurse put a drop of happy juice in the IV; I felt the doctor insert a total of eight needles that, I was told, were also full of happy juice. There is still more protocol, but we certainly are down the yellow brick road now. I must keep track of how long the block lasts, where it gives up, and so forth. There will be another procedure based on that for the purpose of squirting stuff that will just shut up those squealing vertebrae for perhaps a year. Take that. And that. And that! POW!


It's what she calls "weaving."

Then I tied the new threading on my loom to the apron, threw the waste yarn and the header thread, and wove a bobbin of a one pound cone of a color called hawthorn. Rather pretty. A sort of bricky red, not the red red I've always thought of as the color of hawthorns. About four yards in a pound of thread, another three or four shirts. Limited edition, as they say. But, the hawthorn is a little down the road, after red shirts and bluebell this weekend.


"Hawthorn." See how the natural web cuts the color about fifty percent.

But now I’m going to bed. Reveille tomorrow is seven, for the ski run trip.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hoovering Europe


No good deed goes unpunished, it is said. Sometimes neither does a bad deed.

This is another story about my corporate days, when I was the controller, etc. The corporation was Maytag, and way down at my end, the subsidiary was the company that manufactured bill accepting machines found round the world, dispensing everything from soft drinks to laundromat soap. We called them dollar bill acceptors, but they recognized close to a hundred different currencies.

The company was not too old when I was hired, nor too big, and manufactured those little bill recognition systems for vending machines everywhere; soft drinks are ubiquitous. About the time we were acquired the first time, by a vending machine company, our marketing team had the product pretty heavily into gaming machines and fuel dispensing, too.

Remember Pac-Man and other such games of skill in restaurants and bars? Our Japanese distributor was the manufacturer. All this work predated credit card recognition systems, for gasoline, for instance. The units were commonly used in Europe for gasoline. They could not be used in this country because unattended stations were illegal in most states. The days of self service had begun, but we went into the station and said “Ten dollars on pump two.” Remember?

My last ten years were a whirlwind of acquisitions and divestitures. I outlasted three division presidents, but not the fourth. His fall occurred after I was gone, but friends filled me in. My little company of fewer than one hundred people was acquired by a soft drink manufacturing company that also was a division of Magic Chef. It made sense for them to own the company that supplied their dollar bill acceptors. And so life went on for several years.

Then Magic Chef was acquired by Maytag. Why? Maytag wanted to build refrigerators, but didn’t want to start from scratch. “Let’s buy a company that builds refrigerators!” Magic Chef manufactured Admiral, and hey presto, the deal was done. Sadly, it was the beginning of the end for Magic Chef, as all its subsidiaries were spun off, and then Magic Chef itself. No more stoves.

Back at my plant, life was not going on so well. Maytag was not interested in my company’s note recognition machines, but in its pc board ability, and especially the very automated and skilled production lines we had built. Maytag products were transitioning from analog to digital, running on printed circuit boards. The once friendly factory floor became quiet and tense, wary of the “new bosses.”

Lots of changes were occurring in the office, too. Old faces gone, new faces appearing. New lines of command. One day I no longer reported to my boss, but to a division president. The one who outlasted me. I recall walking into the usual Monday staff meeting and being greeted by a roar of “Traitor!” as a joke.

It came off totally wrong; I turned on my heel, went to the ladies room, sat in a closed stall and tried to think it through. Eventually everyone came in and pounded on my door to come out, they were sorry. Someone crawled under the stall door and opened it; we all had a good laugh. Probably the last one we had together, ten men and women crowded into the tiny ladies room.

We were becoming so unhappy with the sinister transformation of the happy little company everyone one of us in the “front offices” were getting fat; our desk drawers were stuffed with candy bars. Everyone was outgrowing suits and falling back on slacks and shirts. I've written about wheeling around a corner, shirt tails flying, and walking smack into the head of HR, straight from Newton, Ioway, Maytag’s headquarters. Did you know why that beagle in the Maytag commercials was named Newton?

HR looked me up then down, and the next morning there was a dress code directive from Newton. I felt awful about that; the women in my department didn't make a lot and supported families, and now were being told they must wear skirts, blouses, jackets, stockings and appropriate shoes to work. That was the bad deed that did not go unpunished, but not until two or three years later, when I was long gone.

Maytag was acquiring Hoover as I was leaving. Hoover employed hundreds and hundreds in a town near me. All gone now. Did Maytag want to add vacuums to its line? Of course not. They wanted Hoover’s European distribution system, which was sizable and stable. And that HR fellow who caused the dress code became president of Maytag International, headquartered in England. He took with him a sizable chunk of Maytag that had made our lives unpleasant, I heard. I was gone by then.

A couple of years on the new president in England decided to boost weak sales of Hoovers in Britain and on the continent. He had a brilliant idea. He would give away an airline voucher with the purchase of every Hoover.

The scheme progressed beautifully for the better part of a year; his division’s sales led every other Maytag division sales. Until toward year end, when folks with vouchers began cashing them in, intent on holiday travel.  Sitting at my own kitchen table one morning, two or three years into my weaving career, I spit coffee all over the business section of the morning paper. 

There were not enough airplanes, there were not enough airplane hours, pilots, staff, airports to accommodate all those vouchers. A lot of unhappy people, including Maytag, which had to buy back the vouchers to keep them off the market.

It seems people all over Britain and Europe had Hoovers in attics, Hoovers in basements, Hoovers in closets and dark corners. The value of the vouchers far exceed the cost of a new Hoover. The whole contingent who dreamed up the scheme, led by my HR nemesis, was fired.

I wonder who the mergers and acquisitions do benefit. My little note acceptor company had grown to four hundred employees when I left, well over three hundred of them on the factory floor, making pc boards. Eventually Maytag outsourced the manufacture overseas and sold what remained of the little company to our chief competitor, Mars. The candy bar company, privately held. 

One day the new bosses walked into the plant, ordered all lockers and desks emptied, everyone was fired. Good deeds and bad deeds don’t amount to much then. Maytag overextended itself and was swallowed up by Whirlpool. I felt worst for all who lost their jobs. My little company, as well as Newton, Iowa.



Probably a bag of candy on the desk.
Probably the very shirt I wore the day I crashed into the future president of Maytag, International.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

People tend to rise


In the olden days, when I was the controller of a division of a subsidiary of a major appliance manufacturing company I supervised an accounting department that had myriad responsibilities. Some not traditionally an accounting duty, but one my staff wound up doing because they were so darn competent.

Upwards of twenty people took care of receivables and payables, of course, but also payroll for five hundred, order entry, invoicing, domestic and international shipping, and even HR, when my payroll supervisor was found to be doing that job.

When I took the job I was employee number was seventy three or seventy four and I supervised four people. One of them told my boss, “She goes or I go,” so I built on that core of three. When I needed people I posted the job on the cafeteria bulletin board and interviewed everyone who applied from out in the factory.  

If they showed desire to succeed I’d hire them, train them, support them and watch them grow. Some former assemblers went on to supervise other employees; that payroll clerk who became payroll supervisor eventually used her education benefits to finish college and then become an attorney.

My boss asked me once how I’d managed to assemble such a crew and I smugly responded people tend to rise to your expectations. I thought it quite the clever deduction.

I listened to an NPR interview recently with Wes Moore, about his memoir, The Work. He came from hard times and through hard times in the Bronx and in Baltimore. Before he hit upon his working model of life, he said, he spent his time hurting people who loved him to try to impress those who did not.

His adult career essentially has been public service, and he has many years left to serve. In the interview he recounted visiting a childhood friend, who is in prison. In the visit he asked his friend if the two of them were the product of their environment. His friend replied, upon reflection, no, they were the product of their expectations.

And, I stand corrected. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Another weekend at the ski run




I remembered to take my camera today when I picked up Emily. I wanted to take pictures of the pipe stem legged preschoolers in fluorescent ski pants, learning on the bunny hill. They have finally graduated to coming down from the top of the hill, and they come down like a snaking dance line.



But, I parked in the wrong place.



So, I snapped folks coming down the “big” hill.



Not much color, pretty boring, until the fellows with white crosses crested the hill and brought a laden sled down. I asked Emily later if it was practice. She didn't know,  but there had been three that day. She works first shift.



My local fire district covers the ski resort, and I told her of some accidents I knew of from the years I clerked for them. The district runs on a shoe string, there being just under two hundred taxable properties in the township and real estate the only tax available in a township.



Steam could come out both my ears when the EMS team transported some young skier and then had the ambulance bill go unpaid for want of insurance. We’re talking a gainfully employed person who could afford ski equipment, or its rental, clothing, tickets. A smart phone with a ski app, no doubt, and expected the ambulance ride to be free. No budget excess to pay for that unexpected consequence.



Emily helps people on the lifts, helps them off, helps them stand up, stops them from doing stupid things.  She does not have the authority to “clip a ticket,” but may say to a youngster who looks as if he will jump off the lift to retrieve a dropped pole, “If you jump, I’ll have your ticket clipped!” Then she retrieves the pole, sends it up on the first empty chair and tells her squad leader to “keep an eye on that one.”



Emily’s thinking she’d like to learn to ski. I told her about the young woman in my department who took a lesson, went down the bunny hill, caught her ski, suffered a spiral fracture of one of those long leg bones. The bone was plated, the bone was pinned, she underwent electrical stimulation treatments or some such thing. For the eighteen months she continued to work she was generally in a walking cast. I wonder what became of her.



But, Emily wants to learn to ski. Told her it might be a fun thing for President’s day, her next day off school.



And when the sled was down the hill it appears the fellows with white crosses were on a training run.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

How to have it all


This is Vicki Boster’s Blog Hop weekend; she asked us each to write a little story and post it late on the 24th of January. I hope Blogger is impressed at its spike in postings for this twenty four hours.

The purpose of the weekend is to increase our individual readership. And I have a reason for wanting to do exactly that.

Quite simply, I am a grandmother with some retired careers and one I looked forward to retiring shortly and one I want to get up and running.

My very first job was in a university library in 1964. I told my cat, $3,600 a year, we’re rich! I moved along into manufacturing, became an accountant and retired that career in the eighties, to join my sister as an entrepreneur. I spent the next twenty years exhibiting our handwoven clothing at art shows in the east.

Every spring, if I could lift the hand truck into the van to set out for the first show of the year I knew I had another year in me. All went well until my hip let me down in 2003. On the way out the door to my hip replacement that fall I put my resume in the mail to my township trustees, who needed to appoint a new clerk. It was me, and I have been running for office ever since.

I’m in my third four year term, which ends in 2016. The perfect time to not run again. I would turn 73 on my last day in office and spend my last decade at my leisure. That was the plan, which did not include taking custody of granddaughters and a grandson just as I started this last term. (Those are my granddaughters over in the side bar!) My goodness, I do not know how young parents do it. The time commitment has not changed, but the money! It’s been a long time since I earned anything like that kind of housekeeping money.

I’ll run for a fourth term as township clerk, of course, but what if…. I needed a new alternative plan that did not involve asking local businesses to hire an all around good worker. I bought a loom to think at while I mulled it over.

And it came to me. I still know how to weave. I still know how to sew. The new mystery is how to sell. How to market. In the olden days selling meant explaining the joy of cotton clothing to people, making things they wanted to buy. It meant being in my booth at art fairs, talking to people, helping them try on shirts and jackets, smiling, being sure they had a good day at the fair. Art fairs are a very personal and social venue.

But I no longer have a hand truck, and couldn't lift it if I did. I cannot put up a booth; I could not even stock a booth by myself. I asked folks about Etsy, then opened an Etsy shop. Marketing is still “social”, but now it’s social media. Like the hand truck, I am out of my depth. I decided I must cast a pebble in the water and see what happens, thus the blog hop.

In the olden days we exhibitors would look before the gate opened how many were in line for tickets. My rule of thumb for a two or three day show was, a “gate” of ten thousand meant perhaps a thousand would look at my booth and perhaps a hundred would buy, and that was a good show.

And that is what I hope for this blog hop. No longer thousands, but a lot of new looks at my Etsy shop; the first picture in my side bar is a link. If a lot of new people look and like and even mention, there will be sales and then repeat customers. The pebble in the water.

Thanks for stopping, for looking, and for all your comments. I’ll be around to say Hello.



At my favorite loom, back in the 1990's.
LeClerc helped me date the loom to 1940,
three years older than I am.
Everything Old is New Again.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Who remembers pinnies?


I remember wearing a pinafore until I went to kindergarten, and maybe longer. This all was back in the days when we wore clothes more than one day, changed to play clothes when we came in from school, and even my play clothes were topped by a pinny. I remember standing still, holding my arms in the air and the pinny dropped over my head and arms and tied in back to hold it shut.

Fast forward to my last weaving career. There always were scraps of fabric left that never were big enough for, say, a vest. I thought about the pinnies my grandmother and my mother made. The scraps weren't big enough to make a pinny for a five year old, but were enough for a little armful of baby. I modified it even more to eliminate the back ties. Just as simple as can be.

I stopped making them when I heard some young girls giggling in a corner of my booth, and found a group of eight or nine year olds, already glossed out in makeup and shorts their mothers should not have let them leave home wearing, trying to figure out how to get into a top. I was appalled, escorted them from my booth and packed up the rest of the tops.

Hoping my visual wasn't too awful, I really didn't stop making them. They were darling on my granddaughters. Caroline wore the last of the hand-me-downs from her cousins, and then the era ended, as they must.

Last week I found the patterns! I no longer have a grand baby for a model, or any toddler handy, for that matter. I had to purchase a tiny display model, far too svelte to pass for a chubby, bandy legged toddler. Nevertheless, isn't the pinny sweet?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Escargot


I've written from time to time of the olden days, when I was the controller of a subsidiary of a division of, etc. Before that we were just a little manufacturing company with a unique product and a lot of international business. We even had a foreign subsidiary, of which we had to divest ourselves before the first company that purchased us would make the purchase.

That subsidiary sale became the subject of an IRS “Committee” audit, a look back audit, in which they would audit four years back, as customary, and three more years before that if the slightest thing came up. I sent the time and motion engineer to find new digs for the duration and gave the auditors the office next to mine. I sent in gallons of coffee, met daily to answer questions and even cancelled my vacation that summer. My boss, who handled the sale, never set foot in my wing of the building, and I never visited his end while the auditors were in the building. But, I digress. Oh, yes, there was no finding against us, either.

International business. International customers. Foreign reps and brokers. I enjoyed knowing almost all of them. I remember our English rep telling me he scolded his little girl for running across the grass and leaving footprints. Our Swedish rep was extremely handsome, and knew it. His shirts were beautifully tailored and close fitting. His suits were always a cut beyond anything I saw in the states. Our German rep was so proper, our Italian rep always a flirt. Our Japanese rep one of the most interesting men I have known. His name was Kay.

If I needed to call Kay I had to call at ten or eleven at night, to catch him in his office at ten or eleven the following day. We communicated mostly by cable. Kay and his wife had no children, but he had adopted a Chinese son, who he regarded highly. He trained the young man to inherit his business. Kay’s description of his son’s wedding was a delight. Everything was red, Kay explained. “You know how the Chinese love red.”

The entire management staff took Kay to dinner one evening to celebrate the launch of a new product. My boss, who was the president of the company, had reservations made at The Top of the Town, a restaurant in the round on top of the Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland. It was a very long meal; many involved loved to dine.

Near the beginning of the meal some were enjoying an appetizer of escargot. I passed. Kay eventually insisted I try just one. I could not bear the thought of swallowing a snail. I demurred. These many years later the scene would not have occurred, but back then I was a single mother who valued her job, and still could not bring myself to accept the escargot.

My boss, directly across the table, had “You must do this” in his eyes and above my smile I know mine said I cannot. He put the little black thing in a spoon, tipped in two shells of butter and garlic sauce and handed it over.

I never felt the snail go down. International trade was saved.




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Another undertaking


When I bought the big loom last summer, it was both an adventure and a venture. I did not know the outcome; I wanted to see what it could be. It was therapy, too.  I am still working out the life changes of the last three years, letting go my plan to retire from work at the end of my current term is wrenching. Now I must continue working. What if I am not reelected to a forth four year term?

So, I bought a loom. Therapy, I told myself. Of the mental sort.  That lasted as long as the first loom for fun did, in 1983. Suddenly too much was woven, let’s go to a show. The whole bit becomes like the earworm song; it gets under your skin. The new products, the customers, the show atmosphere. People have come to enjoy themselves and it’s the exhibitors job, and to their benefit, to be sure the people do. So, the Etsy shop.

But, I also have responsibility to the granddaughters I have responsibility for. Band several days a week. Laura’s art. Emily’s job. My own PT twice a week (I will not give up Carly!).

I retired with an enormous customer list. Several computer upgrades later, it is lost. I doubt, too, those customers still have their AOL accounts. How does one market these days? It seems social media oriented. I asked in a person to help me sort it out, and the advice became a long list on yellow paper. It stayed on my desk and I tried, but I do not grasp the nuances of social media; the list is on the shelf.

Perhaps the Etsy shop will be self taught, like our first weaving business. I know my audience and what appeals to them. I do not understand how Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook are used these days to build audiences. It seems one must cast out thousands of pins and twitters to attract a “gate” of  ten thousand through the door, a thousand of whom probably will stop at your booth and a hundred buy, and that is a good show. And perhaps that’s how the young millennials shop on line. But, they aren’t my customer, on the whole.

It’s still about casting the pebble into the pond. So, I decided to try a blog hop. I did that once before, on a far smaller scale, and had Hail Fellow, Well Met conversations with some new bloggers. I’ll be trying it again; I put the link to Vicki Boster’s blog on my side bar, in case anyone else might be interested.

I hope for a lot of lookers, and if some of them look in my shop, and some of them….well, you get it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, they say.

I thank all of you for being kind and helpful to me these several years. I’ll still write old stories (I remembered one about having to eat an escargot), keep you updated on the adventures of an old grandma whose granddaughters’ combined ages equal less than half of hers, and you can bet on a couple more weaving stories along the way, too.  


Friday, January 16, 2015

Where did the file go?


Is it baked into a cake?

You may recall my melt down of about a month ago, wherein I had screwed up my courage to inquire into pain blocking injections in my back. I put in serious time waiting for appointments with doctors who would refer me to a doctor would assess the wisdom. 

All the damn protocols! But I waited out all of them, got the referral to an appropriate physician, made the phone call for an appointment, and blam!

Straight up against a scheduler with no empathy and her own protocols. Without the file of a certain doctor who currently is incarcerated for molesting his patients, no appointment. The fact I walked out of that doctor’s office during my second appointment, shaking off people who wanted me to make another appointment, and throwing down the note the doctor pushed into my hand, “I only want you to be the best you can be!”, without his notes Ms. Gatekeeper would not schedule an appointment.

I steeled myself, went back to the bad doctor’s office and requested my records. I opted for the cheaper course of having the bad doctor’s staff fax them, and left. I did not sit down the entire time. I tried again to get the appointment scheduled, but until those records were in Ms. Gatekeeper’s hand, no dice.

I called the referring physician’s secretary and explained my dilemma. We conspiratorially agreed she would refer me to another doctor and I would never mention the bad doctor to anyone, ever, again. The plan worked perfectly; the only drawback being the additional one month wait to see a new pain management doctor, which I did today.  

The assessment over, the procedure date set, I came home and found a message from the original Ms. Gatekeeper. Actually, I did not recognize her name and could not conceive of why she called, so I called her back.

Will you believe they have not yet received my record(s) (plural only because it was the second visit wherein I stood up and left the doctor sitting in the exam room) in order to schedule my appointment. I sighed deeply and told her I was OK with waiting until they showed up; she could call me then.

As I hung up and chuckled I realized those records probably were subpoenaed and are in some attorney’s storage room. Who knows? Who cares? Payback….



Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday, in my township

As previously reported,
school was called off last Thursday and Friday.
Not in a civilized manner,
the evening before,
but commencing with phone calls at 5 am.

Add getting up an hour early daily over the weekend
to take Emily to work,
and I was looking forward to catching up this morning,
before hitting the world with a spring, so to speak.

The phone rang again this morning at 5 am;
school was on a two hour delay.
I reported same to the bus catchers.
I went back to sleep.

One of the road guys asked me later why the buses were 
stationed in parking lots, running, at 5:30,
when they were out clearing the roads.

"Obviously to get the buses warm enough for the precious children who don't wear enough clothing,"
I responded.

On a lighter note, the world was two colors today, so I took some pictures.









My favorite: ballerinas en pointe, spinning, spinning.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The balaclava is in the backpack, humoring grandma

School was closed again yesterday.
First the 5:15 am call,
"Start of school is delayed two hours, due to deteriorating weather conditions."
I relayed the message to Emily, to pass along to Laura,
and went back to sleep.
Near 8 am, the second call, no school.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, near 15 degrees.
But, I understand the school business manager's call.
When I picked up Laura and Liam from jazz practice Wednesday night,
they each were bundled head to toe.

But, I watched a stream of youngsters emerge and climb into cars with running engines,
dressed in summer shorts and light jackets.
What are their parents thinking?
The business manager has caved.

Back to the present. At the balaclava store I asked Emily if she thought Laura would wear a balaclava to the bus stop.
"No way in Hell."
So, I purchased just one. 

This morning, in the garage, at 7:30 am,
leaving for the ski run.

"Do you have the balaclava?"
"Yes, Gramma."
"Do you have sunscreen?"
"Yes, Gramma."


What a difference a week makes in the morning light!
Four inches of snow and a week of really cold weather make the slopes look official.





The sunrise on my way home.


End of shift.
The black above her eyes and down her cheeks is the balaclava.
It covers her chin.
She would not let me buy the one that also went over the nose.
Fast forward to today, the green bandanna came from the bottom of the backpack, and was installed over her nose at first break.


Grandma's rule!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Balaclava weather

The thermometer has done duty since 1988,
recording hot, cold, and everything in between.
Today is -4F, as you can see.
No school, too cold.
I won't mention my childhood here.


Little girls, filling bird feeders.
Our neighbor passing by, coming home from his night shift.


 We made an unexpected trip to the bird seed store last night, for two purchases.
The first, to replace a seed block I'd received for Christmas.
A hairy woodpecker attached himself, and ate it all in ten days; I wonder if he simply sleeps on it at night.
Although it is gone in ten days, such appreciation needs rewarded.
That cylinder on the bench is the replacement.

But the big topic under consideration--we have put out more feed this year.
We also purchased forty pounds more of two favorite seeds.
Twice as many birds or birds eating twice as much?
Maybe half one, half the other.
Too much math. I may request an increase in my pension. HaHa.



Yes, I took the pictures through two closed doors.
That is frost on the storm door.
It is four below.



When it warms up a bit (ten is forecast), we'll make a trip to the store
to buy a balaclava for Emily to wear this weekend, as she loads the lifts.

On the way back, some bird pictures, from the comfort of my warm car.


I stopped this afternoon for the picture of the woodpecker who lives on a bird feeder.
Just as I was getting him in focus, Laura came out with the trash.
Tomorrow is trash day.
The bird flew away.
It's a red bellied woodpecker.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Laura tips her hand

Waiting for Laura, after school, to drop her at art class.
Beautiful day, far too cold.



This is a school art project I've heard much about.
Illuminated manuscript, on finest brown wrapping paper.
Laura used a quilt pattern as the letter background,
framed it out with snakes, and lots of grass.
Pretty good.


This was my Christmas present, presented rolled up, 
so it's held down by sewing weights in order to take the picture.
We bought a frame tonight.


When I went in to retrieve Laura tonight,
Mrs. P wondered if I'd seen the bracelet, 
Laura's assignment over her two week vacation to draw something of her own.
No, I had not.



"In future," Mrs. P said, if Laura says there is something she can't do,
I'l just say 'Remember the bracelet?'"

Next week Mrs. P is going to show her how to mount pictures and protect them with tissue.
Good idea. The portfolio grows.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Now we know it's possible

When this episode began last Friday,
it did not occur to me to document the opening scene.
So, picture the slopes below completely pristine and snow covered.
From the snow machine, mother nature being out of the building.

Friday night Emily was notified not to come in Saturday morning,
as all day rain was forecast.
However, come in Sunday morning at 7:30.

It did rain, beginning Friday night and lasting to this morning.
The river, my constant, is very high.
Ski slopes are not a constant in my life.


When I delivered Emily at 7:30 this morning, the parking lot is half a lake
and I wondered how those slopes could be skied upon.
I took these images, hand held, several second exposures.
That bright light half way up the hill is a machine that smooths the ruts away.
I thought surely they would have made more snow, but on second thought,
how do they make snow in the rain?
Obviously, they cannot make snow once customers arrive;
and risk pelting one with frozen water.


The end of the shift, when I retrieved Emily.
The parking lot lake is full.
Folks are skiing under that glowering early afternoon sky.
This is the 7:30 a.m. scene directly above!


People are skiing down.


The lifts are going up.


Here is the answer to the mystery.
Real snow is fluffy stuff, generally, and is broken down and made far less by the skis on it.
Snow machines make ice balls, not snow flakes.
The balls disintegrate far more slowly than flakes, and also retain their shape, as opposed to snow flakes losing all their pretty edges and becoming too fragile to hold up.


So there you have it. As long as that smoothing machine can take care of yesterday's ruts, skiers are good to go. I wonder if it has a name, like hockey's Zamboni.

Well, next week I'll take a picture of lots of snow on the slopes, and then we'll let Emily get on with working.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New vagaries in bird photography

Today began with freezing rain that degenerated into all day rain.
I set up the camera on the tripod under the front door overhang, 
after I saw the red bellied woodpecker on the safflower block.
It left, of course, but at least I had the tripod to keep the camera steady. 

A chickadee and a nuthatch.
I noticed the birds sharing the feeders today, no adverse possession.
I wonder if it was the foulness of the weather that fostered sharing.



The nuthatch.
Several of the bold little chickadees were around my feet on the porch,
cleaning up stray seeds from the seed cans.
I couldn't manipulate the tripod down, so they went unphotographed,


The little piggy finch.
They always share the feeder.


Last year the finch used mostly the mesh niger feeder, and if full to the top,
the feeder was invisible for finch.
This year the girls are putting the niger/cracked sunflower mix in this feeder and it has a lot of finch at the plate.


A female cardinal.
With the camera on the tripod the initial framing was not too easy,
and once framed, the birds might not cooperate.

I've also noticed that while the camera makes no sound to startle the birds,
they are very attuned to the big lens, as if, 
"My god, if the eye is that big, how big is the preditor?!"
and off they fly when I move the lens.


 A sparrow I do not recognize.
Or perhaps a female purple finch.


A purple finch and a male cardinal.


A cardinal. I see them seldom, perching at a feeder.
They prefer being flat footed at a tray feeder, or ground feeding.
However, the seed on the ground is pretty wet.
Or the doves and the blue jays already cleaned it up.


Peace among birds.
The cardinal, the purple finch, and a chickadee.


 And, a female cardinal.




For all I moaned about waist deep snow last year,
it made a better background.

No more pictures from the porch.
The birds are too aware of the BIG EYE.
They all are comfortable with cars coming and going in the drive, and
I can hold my elbows steady on the window ledge, so
back to bird pictures from the car window.
Also a warmer venue.