Sunday, September 21, 2008

The plum harvest

Our 140-year-old neighbor offered to help us harvest the plum trees on the property line we share. Actually what he said was...

"Gfdfdm mufm plums fgmum hmmpf long pole fhm smunm gerfmn..."

So in my mind that meant that he'd get a long pole and shake the plums out.

"Okay! Come on over...that'd be great."

He mumbled something else -- he's a man of few words -- and headed to his garage. Back he came with a very long old ladder and pushed it across the fence toward me. Puzzled, I grabbed the other end and propped it against our house.

Meanwhile, the neighbor walked around to our yard (after realizing he wasn't able to scale our fence -- I'm serious). He moved the ladder closer to the tree and said....

"Mffhg hdmfn roof line fhdmn gumffn."

"Uh...why don't you let me do that. I can go up."

"No no. Mfhdg nmm fghumn."

And so it went. He went all the way up the ladder, and I stayed on the ground holding a bucket. He shook the tree and swung his rake around to get at the highest branches, and I stood there getting pummeled with plums and tried not to imagine him falling off the ladder. How could you!, the other neighbors would say. Don't you know that a 140-year-old man should not be teetering on a ladder shaking a plum tree?!

An hour and a half later, I finally convinced him that we didn't need to pick ALL the plums on the tree, and he came down the ladder and went home. The funny thing is, our neighbor doesn't eat plums. I don't know why, though he explained it to me twice ("Hmfer gufmm nffmm..."). I guess he was just helping us out of the kindness of his heart.

Or maybe his wife doesn't let him use his ladder as much as he'd like.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Senile and obsessed

Thankfully, this post is not about me. It's about Sammy the dog. Sammy is 15.5 years old, and she has really been slowing down in the last year. In fact, we think she's had a couple of seizures, which are really scary and I've thought each time "This is it" with a grapefruit-sized lump in my throat.

But then, a short time later (like even as short as a half hour), Sammy "recovers" and goes about her usual business. And it's serious business let me tell you.

No matter how slow Sam is now, she has not relented on her one true obsession: food. In fact, it's more pronounced than it's ever been. I don't know if August The Food-Dropper has something to do with it, or if Sammy's senses have dulled and food is her only joy outlet. But whatever it is, she certainly shows no age when it comes to searching for food.

I think she still enjoys going for walks and rides in the car, but I suspect it's because there's an opportunity that something might appear in her dish while she's gone. As soon as she gets in the door, she RUNS to the kitchen like she was a kid again. She nearly continually trolls the kitchen floor for dropped food bits. If it's remotely near meal time (within 3 hours) she begins pacing and panting like she hasn't eaten all day.

All of this sounds like the poor girl is miserably hungry all the time, but I think her senility has played into the extra treats she gets from August. She now expects that food should literally fall from the sky for most of the day.

We try to keep her happy. We give her more treats than we should...after all, why deprive the old girl of her favorite things in her final years. But honestly, the begging is downright annoying.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is this what it's gonna be like?

In the last few weeks, I've hardly posted anything to my blog...anything written by me anyway. To be honest, I've hardly visited my regular blog haunts, Twitter, or considered topics to post to my blog. School hasn't even started yet, and already my daily fixes are getting the squeeze.

My mind lately has been occupied by school preparations and lab meetings, putting together lectures, and getting all the necessary appointments and To Dos out of the way. As of last night, I have a few hefty articles to read and discuss next week, right after the 2-day teaching conference. And once the week after that rolls around...well I hope it's not too crazy.

It's strange how having a kid really reboots your whole life. When I was working, life was moderately busy, but I usually knocked off by 6:00 and had time to myself most evenings. Then came school, and my evenings and weekends were taken up by studying. But now, that'll be different. I'm really aiming to get most of my work done during the work week if I can manage it, as I'll only have part of the evening to study and want to preserve weekends for family and friends as much as I can. But given how my schedule looks, I think there's gonna be plenty of late nights and frustrating weekends hunched over my computer or grading assignments.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I am really excited about this new phase and believe it's the right fit for me. I'm just fleshing out the little anxieties that come up before anything new. Will everything work? Will everything work without negatively impacting August? I guess that's my real question.

I've always admired those parents who juggle kids and career, deal with the guilt, look for opportunities to grow professionally, and still make it to soccer and swimming and just hanging out in the yard. And I admire people who don't do that particularly juggling act, because staying at home with kids is a tough that's certainly tougher than whatever circus routine awaits us in the coming months, I think. this what it's gonna be like? No, it'll be something more.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pitch Perfect Poultry

Maybe everyone has seen this one already...