The weather is hot and sticky, and leaves me disinclined to do anything at all, including cook dinner. So cold cuts and storebought potato salad are the order of the day.
We have what I think — based on comparison of its noises with sound files on the web — is either a barn owl or a screech owl living in the messed-up soffits of the upstairs gable window.
There is a black bear wandering around town, eating from the garbage cans out back of the Wilderness Restaurant and showing up in people’s back yards — also once in broad daylight at the verge of the school baseball field, while a game was going on. (The kids were taken inside — a case of “game called on account of bear,” I suppose.)
And something knocked down and tore up our front-yard bird feeder last night.
It’s enough to make one peevish, so it is. Herewith, therefore, a peeve to make your day complete:
Past and passed are not the same word. Past-the-noun refers to an earlier point in time (“The past is another country”); past-the-adjective describes something having to do with an earlier point in time (“remembrance of things past”); and past-the-preposition indicates that something is moving from a point either metaphorically or literally behind something to a point forward of it (“a first-past-the-post voting system.” Passed, on the other hand, is the past tense of the verb to pass (“time passed” or “the winner passed the post in record time.”)
Don’t confuse them; it makes the baby copyeditors cry.
Along with a series of ongoing infrastructure repairs and upgrades (what can I say — it was a hard winter), we’ve finally managed to acquire all of the college decals for our assorted offspring, including the year each at Elms and Rivier that Twin B and Twin A did before moving on to bigger things:
Putting four kids through college is a hefty undertaking under the best of circumstances. Doing it while freelancing is even more so. As my spouse/co-author says, we are entitled to fly our battle honors.
And of course, everything is blooming, and the landscape is full of road repair personnel.
This particular winter, which showed up early around here and then overstayed its welcome, and which included a three-week subzero deep freeze, was particularly hard on the local infrastructure. Which is to say, the north country is full of potholed roads and busted-up plumbing; also, porch roofs that were previously merely dilapidated emerged from the snow-time as disaster areas requiring demolition and replacement.
Fortunately, my new desktop computer system is now up and running (16G of RAM! Zoom-swoosh!), and my editor-hat has acquired a spiffy new plume: I’m now a paid-up member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
My new desktop computer has arrived.
It’s currently still in its box, because I have an editing gig I have to wrap up before I can let myself fall down the rabbit hole that is setting up a new system. But it’s there, and I can hear it calling my name.
Tomorrow I’m going to have to clear up my desk preparatory to moving in the new machine. That’s going to be the kind of fun that isn’t, but it will be worth it when it’s done. The new machine has got 16 gigs of RAM, which is twice what my herky little laptop has got, and four times the RAM of my old desktop machine. The latter was starting to buckle under the weight of Windows 10 even before it developed the fatal case of malware-or-whatever that caused it to spend most of this past winter steadily degrading into a nonfunctional brick; I figure that 16 gigs should hold me through at least a couple more iterations of Windows.
In other news, we had a downy woodpecker on our bird feeder this morning, which is a change from the usual chickadees and assorted LBBs (Little Brown Birds.)
A couple of scenes from the Lancaster NH March For Our Lives (let it be noted that Lancaster, while the county seat for Coös County, only has a population of 3,507):
“More Bears, Less Arms’
“What Can You Hunt With an AR-15?”
Be it noted: I’m not against guns. Hell, I’m from Texas; my Daddy owned guns. And I live in a part of New Hampshire where the question “Got your deer yet?” isn’t an invitation to an act of performative masculinity, it’s a serious inquiry into the state of somebody’s winter larder. Fifty or sixty pounds of venison in the freezer is a not-inconsiderable number of meals you don’t have to pay for at the local grocery. If you want to shoot a deer with a proper deer rifle during the proper hunting season while in the possession of a proper hunting license, I’m right there with you, and if you’ve got any venison to give away, I’ll happily take some and eat it with pleasure.
It’s gun violence that I’m not in favor of.
But where I am, in far northern New Hampshire, it’s snowing. Again.
We’re under a winter storm warning until 2AM, and it’s been snowing with steady determination since mid-morning. And even after the storm warning has passed, the weather forecast is still calling for snow every day until the weekend.
To which I can only say, “Enough, already!”
This is the sort of weather that takes all of my get-up-and-go and stuffs it into a sack and throws it into a snowbank.
But I have editing jobs to work on, so once more into the breach . . . .
What’s happening this weekend on March 3 is that my spouse and co-author, Jim Macdonald, is going to be doing his stage magic at the Vermont Winter Faire in Essex Junction, Vermont. This is an indoor faire, being held at the Champlain Valley Exposition event center.
Once again, he’ll be doing walkaround magic all day; this time, he’ll also be doing a stage performance at 2:30 PM.
If you’re in the area, come by and give him (and all the other vendors and performers) a look!
While idly mousing about the internet the other day, I followed a link to this page, which is all about an artist in Texas who’s been re-imagining images of classic Western heroes using female models, with awesome results:
And my thought, instantly, was “Damn, I want to read the books that those are the covers for!” Because behind every powerful image is a good story.
May the good parts of 2017 stay with us, and may the bad parts recede quickly in the rear-view mirror.
And may 2018 bring all of the good things that we need, and a fair share of the good things we may not need but would like to have anyway, because a little fun and frivolity are good for the soul.
(The best advice my father ever gave me was, “As long as nobody’s getting hurt, ‘just for fun’ is a perfectly valid reason for doing anything.” My mother, more practical, said, “Make your bed first thing in the morning after you get out of it, or you’ll never make it all day.” They were both right.)
Let us consider, for example, “soffit.” Until I ended up living in a 19th-century wooden house in deep snow country, I had no idea what a soffit was. I may have been in the vicinity of soffits from time to time, but they had by no means impinged upon my consciousness.
But now I know. Per Wikipedia, “in popular use, soffit most often…refers to the material forming a ceiling from the top of an exterior house wall to the outer edge of the roof, i.e., bridging the gap between a home’s siding and the roofline, otherwise known as the eaves.”
Per my own experience, soffits are those rotted bits under the roof of the upstairs gable windows that I’m going to have to get replaced this spring, right after I get the plumbing fixed and the north side of the roof reshingled.
(Old houses always need the plumbing fixed. I think it’s a rule.)
Winter weather up here provides other items of interest for word nuts, as well. Like this idiomatic tidbit, picked up from listening to the local road crews on the radio scanner: “Be careful up on Titus Hill. It’s getting greasy out there.” Translated out of the north woods accent, what this means is that the previously snow-plowed roads, having been lightly rained on for a few hours, are now in the process of freezing again, and have reached a particularly nasty and treacherous state of slickness.
Good weather for staying in and updating one’s blog, in fact.