Empathy

This suggests that there’s something about the experience of high status that hurts our ability to connect with others emotionally. Other studies have suggested that high status makes people less compassionate, less generous and less interested in connecting with others in general.

How inequality hurts Romney’s happiness
By Jason Marsh, Special to CNN

I read the above opinion editorial this morning and realized that I have been conducting a similar, albeit low level survey of my own. I have fallen into the habit of asking people if they would extend credit or help someone who needed groceries. I didn’t ask for money or groceries for myself, I just wanted to know if they would step up to the plate to help another fellow human being in need.

I suppose the local establishments figure I’m actually as loony as it has been reported to them so they responded without an after thought. I had thought we were over the ‘me’ generation; however, it is apparently not true. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the responses that I received. After all everyone is out to gather as many shells and stones as possible before they drop dead. I’m not sure what their intention is once they have accumulated so many of the prizes, but I guess it makes them feel better as they have attained a higher status. Or at least these people who are collecting think that they have attained a higher status which may be the case.

Here’s the results of my low level questioning. Out of several grocery/convenience stores not one of the owners would extend either credit or help to someone who asked for it. Now these are local establishments that certainly make a profit otherwise they wouldn’t be in business. In addition, I fully understand that if they started to extend credit to one person then they would establish a precedent and other people would follow. There wouldn’t be any end to the number of people that the store would be supplying and then without capital to purchase products the store would have to close. Moreover, not one of the owners would entertain a person working for them in order to either pay for the goods or barter/trade.

Furthermore, none of the owners were interested in purchasing or trading any produce/product for theirs. Since this is a rural area and there are many farmers who produce goods: eggs, meat, grains and even transportation/trucking services it wouldn’t be too far out of one’s imagination to be able to trade or barter. However, the farmer’s products are not good enough to be taken in trade. The local establishments would rather have eggs, meats, etc. trucked in, put on the shelf and have the population pay more for a possibly inferior product. One farmer commented to me that he has better vegetables than the ones in the stores and indeed he does. Not only are the farmer’s vegetables fresher because they haven’t been sitting in a warehouse or endured shipping, but in many cases they are pesticide free.

Certainly the owners of these small establishments are not of the same ilk as Romney or others who have enough money to live on for not only their lifetimes but their children’s children’s children. And they are local so that they see and know the people of the area. They are not as removed as a CEO of a major company such as Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, etc. So what makes them unable or incapable of being more empathetic to the plight of their neighbors?

When questioned further about what a person might do in such a condition where they needed groceries most responded with the same retort. Women according to the owners should immediately either go on welfare or find a ‘guy’. If it was a family that included a man then he needed to get off drugs and stop drinking. Then he had better find a job to provide for his family. But if these solutions weren’t sufficient then there were always the food banks. In addition, they could make an application for help from their local towns. On the other hand, none of the local establishments donate to any of the social agencies that they mentioned. However, they did note that they all pay exorbitant taxes which pay for ‘those people’.

Is the answer to the coldness of the people who have ‘made it’ versus those that are struggling the same as corporate heads? Is it that even in a small pond the big fish want to devour the small ones? What eliminates their ability to be humane? In conclusion, does having all of the shells and stones make them happy by virtue of having risen above others?

And so it goes…

Copyright © 2011

 

Burning it up and cooling down…

This is the roof line of Maggie’s barn as the sun is burning off the second frost. In addition, it appeared that the ground was smoking a bit.

It definitely was a bit chilly this morning as the temperature on the porch read a cool 35. However, the day has progressed as a beautiful blue-blue sky that has warmed up to a bit over 60 degrees. Last night at final check the alpacas were outside lolling around in the cool air while the ewes, rams, chickens, and geese had hunkered down. Maggie was strolling in and out, too. Of course once they saw me there was the familiar battle cry for food that I promptly explained was out of the question.

While the weather is indicative of the upcoming change I’ve welcomed the disappearance of flying, biting and annoying bugs. The flies that have been accustomed to living inside the goose house annoying me when I go in to feed the goslings are now hanging on the walls in a rather stuck fashion. I suppose that the cold is a signal for them, too. I will not miss them buzzing, landing and biting me. One of the goslings has made it a practice to bite at the flies. I’m not sure how many she actually got to eat, but it was interesting to watch.

The progress to finish winter arrangements for the cellar are underway as I picked up the grand new piping for the furnace. It is splendid. At this point it is still in the back of the truck; however, it will make its journey to be installed shortly. All of the other parts for the cellar have been gathered. Recently I was informed that some people actually have their heat on all ready. Personally I don’t think it is cold enough at night to turn on the furnace even if I had the piping replaced. I was actually throwing off the blanket last night because the cool air felt good. This weather is great for sleeping. The kittens didn’t get up as early this morning either. I was pleasantly surprised that Max was not into his mousa game. Later, after chores, I took a picture of Sarah posing on the chair.

Then I was fortunate enough to find Max. I called him and he looked up for a photograph with his eyes open. I’ll probably never get that lucky again as he’s not thrilled with the camera.

The shuffle for positions took precedence over the morning activities as Sarah acquired the new scratching bed for herself. Meanwhile Max has gone into hiding fearing another photograph I’m sure.

Butternut squash is in the oven baking while I review student’s papers. The bills are paid, for the time being, and the afternoon advances quietly. Mr. Penney is coming today to do Maggie’s feet and then the day will proceed to evening chores. There’s still plenty to do after chores, but the pace is mine to set.

And so it goes…
Copyright © 2011

Carbon monoxide poisoning?

First frost has appeared.

I realized as this first frost appeared that I had better get moving on my list. Since I took the pipe off the furnace and put it into the back of the truck it seemed that the next step needed to be taken. So finally without any further adieu I took the thing to a fabricator to make a new one. It seems that the duct tape on the pipe was something of a discussion matter. I knew the thing smelled a bit, but it was the end of the season and with this old house I didn’t fear carbon moxoxide poisoning. In addition, it probably is a very good thing that the breeze blows through the house because the bottom of the pipe was considerably worse than the top.

Consequently, the new pipe is already done and ready for pick up. I am a little disappointed about the past remarks from a couple of people concerning the pipe though. One person remarked that it would cost between $200 and $400 to get the pipe replaced. Thus, I did drag my feet just because of the amount of money involved. Of course I suppose that if I had gone to one of the plumbing and heating supply houses around here it would have been considerably more money. Moreover, I have learned being a single, old female is a determent. The one supply house practically refused to give me a part because I was female. While the other supply house demanded that the part to pull the well had to be given to a man or at least I had to leave a man’s name at the desk. Subsequently, I was not looking forward to doing business with them at all. However, the fabricator made a new pipe even with the little flapping door section without any where near the amount of hassle or money. And the best part is that not only did it not cost an arm and a leg but once I have it and make the trip to the cellar that much is finished and off my list.

Yes indeed the list is decreasing. Not only did I drop off the pipe to be done but I continued on to the stores to gather up items on the list. I bought paint, brushes, heat tape, light bulbs and sundry items. I was on a roll. Now up to this point I was really rocking and then I was asked ever so politely: ‘how old are you?’. Although I had no idea what my age had to do with the purchases in the basket I did reply by stating my birth date. Then I had to ask why she had to know when I was born. Perhaps there was a grand prize and I was the recipient? Of course that wasn’t the case I never win anything. There weren’t any balloons floating down and no one else appeared so I figured it wasn’t a prize winning event. Apparently I am behind the times because I bought cans of spray paint and that sounded an alarm. I had forgotten, or did not care to note, that spray paint is an aerosol that the younger population sniff to get high. I state unequivocally that I had no intentions of sniffing the cans in fact I was going to use them to paint a decoration on the goose house. I’m sure that response was a different one from others she had heard. Who paints a goose house? Actually what the hell is a goose house?

A very short explanation about the goose house satisfied the checkout clerk and I was again on my way. Once home the unloading process began and was accomplished. There is a pile of assorted items that will go to the cellar for the winter preparation. The last item is to pick up the pipe tomorrow and then it is off to the cellar. Next, replacing the burned out heat lamp over the pump, putting in new light bulbs, removing and installing a new heat tape and lastly the pipe back to the furnace will accomplish the cellar activities, I hope, for another year.

I felt considerably well about the accomplishments as I went about doing chores this morning. Two thirds of the list is finished with only one third remaining. I know there are several more things that will need to be done before winter, but at least I’m on the way. I mentioned to Anthony that we have to find the roll of plastic for the windows. In addition, the storm windows need to be put in the goose house, and fencing rearranged for the geese as I plan to put them together this weekend. Then I have to make a decision about one of the barn roofs and act upon it. New lists will have to be written; however, for right now this list looks pretty good with some things crossed off.

Meanwhile, as far as the animals are concerned things are pretty much the same. Their schedule is well defined by whether or not it is time to eat. In short, they are content as long as the old gray haired woman shows up on time.

                                                                      Cochin and some of his girls.

 

Cochin and Fluffy Butt together.

As close as I’m going to get to a fall display.

And so it goes…

 

Copyright © 2011

 

It’s on floor…

There are days when it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed because it is a downward movement. I know that there are other people who know what I mean. It seems like everything is in a downward spiral movement. The floor becomes the enemy as everything seems to land down there. The worst part is getting it back up to where it belongs. I’ve found that the methods are as varied as the item that has fallen. Therefore, no one particular method works all of the time and most require seeking, bending and stretching. Today was one of those days.

First, the alarm clock fell onto the floor beside the bed. Now this wouldn’t have been a big thing to worry about because I rarely use the thing; however, today it decided to not only take up residence on the floor, but send a resounding alarm sound through the air at 4 a.m. Usually the things that are on the side of the bed fall within reach without getting out of bed. This morning that was not the case. The stupid alarm continued to scream out its warning somewhere out of reach which meant I had to get out of bed and seek something long enough to find the incessant noise. Now anyone who is awakened under these circumstances realizes that sitting and getting out of bed triggers other side effects. Therefore, a trip to the bathroom was in order while the alarm continued to signal its warning. Yes, I know it is morning damn it! The second thing that happens of course is that the girls have to go outside and are standing at the door patiently waiting for me to silence the noise. The choice is to take the girls out and hope the thing quits or seek the clock, then get the girls out. Since everyone was awake I chose to let the alarm continue and it did. The temperature outside was a brisk 40 something this morning but it didn’t matter as I was away from the alarm clock. The girls completed their constitutional and back in the house we went. The clock was not screaming. Perhaps it ran out of whatever runs the thing. It didn’t matter, I still had to find it and return it to its post. So down on my knees to seek where it had decided to fall. Then with the thing in hand I put it back with a thump. Awake it seemed rather silly to go back to bed, but that is exactly what I did. I figured I had a couple of hours to contemplate the inside of my eyelids. Apparently the girls felt the same way as they jumped back up on the bed into their favorite positions. And all was quiet for the next two hours.

Next, April sang out and the morning officially began. Almost everything I touched landed on the floor or ground. I sang out with the radio and danced through the barns returning what I could to their proper places. The bending was at first a bit much for my back; however, as I began to be used to the whole idea I felt incredibly better. I continued through the chores with a few words that turned the air a bright hue. It didn’t matter because the animals aren’t interested in what falls down, if it is edible they pursue it. If it is something that they can’t eat they will investigate, push it around and take turns keeping it out of my reach. The scoop seemed to fall into this category during the feeding. I finally gave it to the ewes and later was able to collect it as they had decided it wasn’t worthy of any more attention. However, it was a trip to the ground, bending and scraping to achieve the goal.

Then I figured the day was going to be one of those so I let it happen. The spatula on the stove almost made it to the floor. I told the stupid thing it had missed its opportunity because I caught it before it could be successful. I know I was talking to the spatula. I spoke to the tea cup, tea bag and anything else that thought it could try a swan dive to the floor. I suppose if someone was listening they would have wanted to lock me up; however, I’m afraid that there are other people that do the same thing. Breakfast was over and then Sarah decided to be lovey as she curled up on the table to see how many things she could successfully get on the floor. I saw her and caught a couple textbooks, my calendar and sunglasses before they hit the floor. But she did get a roll of packing tape, the car keys and a couple binder clips onto the floor. She sat up with a look of accomplishment and without another action on her part got down to find something with which to play in her box. Again, it was time to bend, scrape and retrieve.

It is no wonder that people employ long sticks or gadgets with vise-like attachments. There are only so many bends available during the day. Then it is a question of whether or not the item is really worthy of returning to its original place. In addition, can I get through the only room in which I live without falling on the debris on the floor? I could just shove it to one side with my foot and thus make a safe pathway to traverse the living space. Or I might be able to push it into a container of some sort and then lift the container to sort out what is important to keep or toss. I reflected this morning about what the future house was supposed to look like. When I was younger there were drawings of houses that would wash themselves inside and out in magazines. Houses were going to evolve into something that didn’t need a whole lot of human interaction. I know somewhere someone is still working on this for everyone, but it can’t come soon enough. It would be wonderful if there were a house that can pick everything up off the floor and replace it where it belongs. And they could start with that damn alarm clock that began my day!


Beauty eating her breakfast while giving me the ‘eye’.
And so it goes…
Copyright © 2011

The little things…

The morning fog lining the tree tops continued to settle downward instead of being heated away by the sun. And then I began to notice the little things. I was walking the girls, Bonnie and Betsy Ann, and there they were, the ground webs. I call them ground webs because they appear to be a spider web that is laid across the tops of the grass in a small area. Or they might be attached slightly to an upward weed, but their main building is barely above the ground. They seem to be more prevalent in the fall of the year versus any other time. I suppose that there is a spider waiting beneath the web in hopes of catching some unknowing bug or a fly whetted by the fog. The little webs don’t usually seem to last very long once the sun comes full force. However today the sun, though it has tried, has been unable to successfully burn through the fog and the little webs have remained.

Then one lone, perhaps lost, starling alighted near where it was hatched on the end of the barn to screech out a mournful sound. There was no answer to its call so it flew to the other end of the barn. It sat there listening to no avail and finally flew away. Once the starling left there was a startling quiet. I realized that the usual chatter from the trees was not there.

In the meantime the girls had finished and were wandering to the steps. I approached the steps behind them as April was making her usual call from the barn. But I felt that not only were the birds missing, but the quiet of fall had descended.

I glanced downward as I began to mount the steps and was reminded of the little snake yesterday evening slithering on the ground at the base of the bottom step. This little snake has been here all summer. I suppose it has grown although I haven’t taken a real notice. But, it was in the loft one morning, then at night in the bales of hay and yesterday coming from the direction of the loft and past the bottom step into the long since blossomed day lilies. I thought about following it, but decided since it seemed in a hurry to get wherever it was going not to bother. I wonder if it is seeking a place for the winter?

Then I remembered that I had seen a large number of robins down the road in someone’s front door yard. And that there were small birds lining the utility lines when I drove to town. I unhooked the girls and went to feed the awaiting throngs in the barns. The noise of the ewes seemed to comfort me a bit for the time being. However, once I was done and back in the house I realized that the pumpkin I bought yesterday now on the steps did not seem out of place. In fact, there were a couple of leaves blown from the early morning rain cuddled at its base. Indeed the leaves of some trees have begun their journey earthward.

A Southern breeze has favored the day and is high enough to ring the Boothbay Buoy on the porch. It is the remnants of a hurricane/tropical storm, Leslie, that churns out in the Atlantic. While the storm is far enough out to sea the surf on the coast is very high and inland, as I am in central Maine, the wind has kept the little bugs aloft. In the spring there are the advent of mosquitoes, then the black flies, followed by the horse flies and gnats. When a lull appears in the breeze the flies and gnats are still present and ready to seek out a place to bite. Granted eventually when there is a hard frost followed by a freeze the whole insect population will be stifled; however, until then they take every occasion to alight.

I’m not sure if the hummingbirds have left, but the feeder seems to be stagnant at its level. Although the bees and wasps have taken a liking to hanging at the edge of the feeder seeking sustenance. A wasp presently is swaying with the feeder in the wind on the porch. It’s grip must be mightily difficult to maintain, but it seems to be busy sucking out the sweetened liquid. I’m afraid if indeed the hummingbirds have taken flight for the South I will remove the feeder soon until it is needed in the spring then the wasps and bees with have to seek elsewhere for their meals.

All in all the little things have quietly appeared to give us a nudge into the autumn season. And though the temperature yesterday was in the 80’s the ten day forecast has only 70’s and 50/40’s at night. I suspect it is time to realize this interval will not last and take notice of the little things.

And so it goes…

Copyright © 2011

An odoriferous visitor…


As the day started in fog and was in the midst of burning off I made my way down my country road and found the sun penetrating the layers that shined into the trees.

However, it had started much earlier of course with the critters in the barn who wanted attention. Beauty was especially herself this morning with an attitude. Although she did allow a minute for a hug and kiss.

The girls were busy roaming around this morning at feeding time for a little while before settling down to eat. I think it had something to do with the late night visitor.

In addition, the girls let me know that there was still something that didn’t smell exactly right in the barns and they were right.

I had noticed that while I have been writing late at night there came an odoriferous smell into the house. At first, without even looking about, I accused the girls, Bonnie and Betsy Ann of ‘leaking’ a bit and then proceeded to put things on pause while I gathered them up for their nightly constitution. Of course what I found was that they girls were not discharging anything that could compare to the fresh air of outside. For once outside the smell permeated the area with the help of low lying fog. There was no denying that I had had a visitor of the skunk persuasion. This isn’t particularly anything new in the spring around here as a female skunk has used the area below the loft to have her babies. She doesn’t always give me any indication she’s here; however, she has on occasion paraded her offspring as she leaves to cross the road into the woods. The babies are darling as she has had several years of them under the loft. Although this spring she did not appear. I am afraid that she either found a more suitable situation or met her demise.

So, who was the new occupant of the space under the loft and what were they doing here this late in the season? I have no idea. But their existence is well known. It is my guess that because of the land clearing up the road the inhabitants of that area are now scampering to find a new domicile for the upcoming winter. I am not offended that a skunk would find living under the loft promising, but I fear that my alpaca girls may not appreciate the cologne.

Later as the chores were done and I sprinted into the loft to make sure that the little chicks were fed I thought I’d get an updated photograph of Jack and Jill. They are still growing at their chicken rate and are quite cute. Mother Blackie is in the background and further back is Ghost T who is admiring all of the ladies.
They are feathering out quite nicely. This little yellowish one I have a feeling is the Jack of the two. It appears to be fearless of most everything and has repeatedly tried climbing up on Blackie’s back. Although, perhaps it is in need of a higher look at things.

The day became increasingly warmer and by the time I had done a small bit of shopping the sun was blazing down. One shopper leaving at the same time I did turned to me to announce that it was going to be one of those miserable hot summer days. I guess we had better count these days because before long they will be gone and the populace will be complaining about the cold, snow, and wind.

Later as I lunched with my friend the heat outside was apparent as people were moving slower. And by the time we headed out with the windows of her car all of the way down to enjoy a stiff breeze we commented that the naysayers had nothing to worry about because it isn’t winter yet.

But as I rode up and down the mountainsides on the way home there were signs that it is time to get ready. This hay field reminded me that those round bales will be welcome food for the winter. In addition, the roadsides are now dried bits of grasses, brittle and gray. No longer are the grasses as green as this field because they have been left by the side of the roads to naturally wither away.

And so it goes…
Copyright © 2011

Sand removal sans clothing…

My elusive Maggie, who just like Max hates to have her picture taken.

Sometimes I’m reminded that no matter what things aren’t anything like they were in my earlier life. Things aren’t that bad. There were times when it was much worse. However, it is difficult at times to reflect on those times without some regret. After all they were the worst and the best of times as paraphrased by the great writers.

I had a conversation lately in which it was mentioned that perhaps it would a great thing to be younger. Would I go back to being 16, 26, or 41? I don’t think so not even if I could take the things I now know with me would I go back. At 16 I had to leave school because I was pregnant. At 26 I had two children and was left in a rented renovated garage that substituted for an apartment. There was no money to pay the rent, no heat, and no groceries to feed my children. And at 41 I was faced with dying of cancer. No, I doubt that I would go back for much of anything.

Lest it sound like life was a unrelenting line of dire straits these times were not long lasting. I was able to figure out a way to go back to school by petitioning the state of Ohio as a married woman with a child. My diploma was handed to me but it didn’t matter because I received it. Later I continued by learning to fill out the forms for college. Again I obtained the degree that I challenged myself to achieve. Then I learned how to protect myself from a doctor’s aggressive solution to a cancer.

However, the bright lights of events that I would like to glimpse backwards to experience were fleeting. Some of the marriage experiences certainly were advantageous to growth. I learned never to put an experience down, but take all it could offer. I had opportunities to do many things that most people dream about being able to accomplish. And I took those opportunities. I would take the chance to race a stock car or strip machine again, or truck the country a couple of more times. I wouldn’t be as thrilled to haul steel, but something that wasn’t going to come through the cab might be worth considering. Sailing down the coast in a 40+ footer using the moon and stars as guides wouldn’t be so bad either. Or taking out the boat for a weekend soiree in a rainstorm with the sound of gentle waves fore and aft wouldn’t be so bad.

In addition, there is absolutely nothing in the world to compare with awakening on the beach to the sun’s spectacular beginning. The sand can be a little irritating, but then the benefits can be outweighed. Besides the sand be gotten rid of with a swim sans clothing. Or the smell of diesel fuel, oil and sweat after running miles and miles seeking the destination in order to rest. The adrenalin high of accomplishment by beating the last record matching machine and skill cannot be beat. Competition to be first is contagious.

It is nice to be able to review the past; but, to go back would not be the same. There simply is no going back. The future is tomorrow, today is past, yesterday is memory.

The best part about being able to look backwards is that though it had highs and lows I learned from every bit of it. Therefore, it makes the going forward not only easier but enticing and challenging. Every day it is a new beginning that starts with April’s blatting good morning, singing, dancing and greeting the animals in my barn. There’s little more that could be so rewarding.

Here’s the girls (Whitney looking at me) having breakfast of some great hay!


Bubba with the same great hay caught in the action of breakfast.


My darling ‘little’ goslings at breakfast.


There’s Tippy on the right and her ‘sister’ African that I have named Sylvia taking a break from breakfast to check out what I am doing.

And so it goes…
Copyright © 2011