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

 

There goes the weekend…


Blue being inquisitive about the camera, that is until it flashed!

The weekend is quickly passing away as Monday is approaching. The back-to-work people are home contemplating their morning race to the job. Other people are repenting the great times accorded during the two day reprieve away from the day-to-day work schedule. Then there are people like me that really aren’t interested in exactly what day it is because I’m not packing up to run the gauntlet. However, before the lynch mob shows up at my door I still have deadlines. And today I wrote a list of what must be done before the really cold weather shows up. I know snicker about the list making, but I really do scratch things off if I can find it from time to time.

So it was with the listing today that I began with the most important things first. I actually took the pipe from the furnace and placed it in the back of the truck. Therefore, it is ready to go tomorrow to the place where there are new ones. I am hopeful that this is going to work out well. I called the place and a nice man answered the phone, then he actually told me how to get to the place and that if I bring the old one he’ll match it. Consequently, tomorrow that is the first thing on the list to accomplish. I have to purchase some more light bulbs, too. Then there’s the trip back to the cellar to install the pipes, light bulbs and a new heat tape. I decided that although the light is still on the heat tape it would be my luck to have the thing quit this winter. It is a better idea to put another one on and be sure that it will be fine all winter.

I even went through the trouble of grouping the things on the list. I made three major groups of things that must be done before winter. This list is a must and not one of those that can disappear. I am going to even write the things on the white board. Once on the white board there’s no escaping the list of things to be accomplished. I have to look at the damn white board. The thing is too big to ignore and I can’t lose it either. I could erase the thing, but then the list wouldn’t be done. Then I’d be worried about what I had written on there and whether or not the items were really important. I guess it is a no win situation, keep the list, get it done and stop complaining.

This morning was as brisk as yesterday. The temperature was a soaring 38 degrees on the porch. Tonight the forecasters are calling for a frost in Canaan. I’m on the line, so anything is possible. I suppose it is about time for a frost or two. I’m just not entirely ready, but I will be eventually. But today I took to the road and went seeking some fresh vegetables at Sam’s in Albion. The girls, Bonnie and Betsy Ann went with me because Sam has the best vanilla ice cream. I bought corn, a butternut squash, tomatoes, and apples. Of course I had to have some ice cream, too. He has all of the flavors and I try a new one each time I am there.

Then with the sun shining, cool air breezing through the car I drove back to Clinton. The mountains were so spectacular against the blue sky today. They appear so much darker than the sky and then when a cloud bank appeared it looked like mountains on top of mountains. It was a beautiful day. I stopped at a farmer’s stand that I know in Benton and got more corn and another pumpkin. I put them out front by the flowing wheelbarrow.

 

I can see that this view really accentuates the house peeling where the drunk hit it. I suppose eventually all of the paint will come tumbling off. Unfortunately, this isn’t on the lists for now. There’s too many other pressing issues, like heat, that has to be addressed first. Then there’s the roof over the alpaca girls, painting the goose house, and of course new tags for the car and truck. And that’s the first list. I didn’t want to think beyond the first list but then I figured I had better get a little organized. I have to remember that winter is after autumn. Although it is hard to focus when the petunias are still blooming.


And so it goes…

Copyright © 2011

Night chores…

                             A view of the gloaming as it approaches through the alpaca boy’s window.

I enjoyed the evening chores as the wind was brisk and stiff from the north. It was exhilarating to feel the cool breeze. I took extra time to sit around and admire the antics of the chickens as they began to come in for the night. It always amazes me that they roost in the same spots every night; however, only after having a certain amount of discussion as to where each hen should be located. They all know where they belong in the barn.

Cochin was standing guard at the ewe’s door while watching the hens outside. He doesn’t have to call them or run them in they seem to know he’s waiting for them to get their act together.Then when the hens have come in to their favorite spots he will slide under the gate to inspect whatever feed is left for dinner. Later he’ll jump up on one of the feed cans and scoot over to the top of the barrier. He’ll settle there after what seems like an extensive inspection of the spot. It isn’t like he hasn’t been there before because he settles there every night. But it bears inspection every night, too. I image by now Snaggle has left her place on the ladder and is cuddling under Cochin’s wing for some warmth. He doesn’t seem to mind if one hen or another is trying to cuddle under him, but it certainly takes a bit of adjusting to make sure that it fits just right. It was a sight to observe as I sat on the feed can.

At this point all of the animals are busily scarfing down whatever is available whether it is hay, grain or a drink. I watched the rams as they pushed each other around to make sure that they have gotten every last bit of grain. It seems like they are being brutes; however, they have enough wool on them now that it is much like bumper cars as they push and shove each other around. Maggie has had her grain, apple and treats. She’s not interested in much of anything else but getting her hay out of the rack. She’s good at watching the rams in their struggles, but isn’t interested in interfering in their antics. Although she does notice what the alpaca boys are doing from time to time.

The alpaca boys are always in a battle of spitting. They spit their grain at each other at every feeding. I am not sure why they are involved in this activity as it doesn’t net any more food in their tummies. In fact it doesn’t make any sense at all except to them. Bo has a habit of deliberately spitting at Maggie; therefore, she has learned to turn herself around to the hay rack. There’s always some spitting between the three of them and I can observe their activities from the feed can as they prance back and forth asserting their authority over each other. The alpaca girls, on the other hand, aren’t interested in the spitting contests at the other end of the building.

Bonita, Beauty and Bella are interested in eating. It is plain and simple. The food is presented and it is time to eat. There’s no spitting or discussions, eating is the activity that consumes their attention. As I glanced from one area to another I realized that quiet had overtaken the previous noises. The fans were off and the only other noise was the radio playing oldies lowly. Once in awhile I could hear the geese at the fence talking together.

The ganders had come into the barn through their penned area for dinner and then after I tossed a few pieces of corn to them outside they watched the goslings go in their house to be fed. Later they were all together at the fence discussing what they had had for dinner. Tonight is going to be in the high 30’s and I suspect that they will be lined up on the appropriate sides of the fencing together.

I did look it up online about when they could be put together and it seems that since both sexes are getting along all right I am going to put them together around the first of October. I think that will give me enough time to make sure that things go all right. In addition, I’m pretty sure that the boys are more than ready to climb the fence.

I ran through all of the things that are included in doing the nightly chores and decided that I had accomplished everything sufficiently. However, I lingered a bit longer. The cool air felt good. I watched some small birds as they landed and took off near the tall weeds outside the fencing. I suppose that they are busy gathering what they need to fly off to a warmer clime. It was peaceful.

I opened the gate to the alpaca girls and patted each one before mounting the stairs to the loft. As I got to the top step I noted that the little chicks were lined up on the other side of the door. I pulled it open to find that they were waiting patiently. I had given them grain, but needed to fill their water up for the night. So I grabbed the bucket and came in to get the water. They followed me to the door. I knew on the other side of that door were two kittens. So, I pushed the door a bit to find that there were Max and Sarah who eagerly wanted to see what makes all of that noise. Unfortunately for them I swatted them back inside.

While the water filled the bucket I turned off the outside faucet and shut up the truck and car. Then I took water to the chicks. In a few minutes after they had their drinks they began to find a place for sleep. I sat on a bale of hay to watch as one by one they chattered at each other and then settled. I did turn on a light in case any of them decide that the night is too cool; but I think they are feathered out enough that they will be fine. I said adieu as my dinner awaited. The gloaming had settled, too. It is becoming darker sooner and all of the animals are adjusting their clocks, too.
And so it goes…
Copyright © 2011

Down to the depths…

Morning out back was a misty fog that encompassed the area.

As with every day it started with the announcements from April in the barn. She never misses an opportunity to make sure that I know she is not only awake, but hungry. In addition, she has done a great job of teaching all of the other ewes exactly how much noise is appropriate to move the old woman in the house. However, in the past few years she hasn’t noticed that the old woman doesn’t respond as quickly. I’ve learned a trick or two, too.

In the end all of the parties in the barn are fed. This leaves the quiet necessary to begin the day. It also leaves me the ability to get back to the important issues at hand. Of course a cup of tea and breakfast is tantamount to a luxury after doing the labors in the barn. But then there’s the decisions that have to be made in order to proceed through the rest of the day. Usually I have a pretty good idea about what is going to be accomplished; however, it doesn’t always work out that way and I’ve learned that flexibility is the best alternative to chaos.

I expected to get some writing done, but ended up finishing up a draft to post. It doesn’t really matter because I’m not on any sort of timeline. I can either do the writing or not. I can put it off or wait until something hits me worth considering. After all no one is paying me to spew out anything of any importance except for my own pleasure. And there’s no one standing around waiting for me to punch a clock.

However, there are a few things that should be done because after all winter follows autumn and with the advent of a few trees deliberately allowing their worn, dried leaves to descend to the ground time is not on my side. I have been adamant about not going to the cellar. But it is a necessary evil. Consequently, today I descended the raggedly steps to the cellar.

The steps to the cellar are a ladder-like downward attachment to the first floor. The right side of the attachment is the safest. The left side has a crack in the wood runner. There is usually a light at the bottom of the stairs, but there’s never any guarantee that the light bulbs are still working down there. I take a flashlight and carefully take my time with each step. Then once down onto the ledge it is time to fight off the cobwebs. There are hundreds of webs attached to the underbelly of the first floor. There are a few spiders still clinging to their webs to push aside in order to accomplish the reason for the trip to the cellar.

Next, I checked the box that encompasses the water pump to note that the heat lamp is out. The heat tape that wraps around the outside water faucet is still lit which is a good thing. It is probably a good idea to replace it though just to make sure that it is working through the winter. And there are a few light bulbs still burning. Then it is time to take off the metal tubing from the furnace in order to replace them. They have been rotten for a couple of years and between the metal tape and duct tape it is definitely time to replace them. The smell from the exhaust wasn’t so bad, but the heated duct tape wasn’t particularly aromatic. The pipes came off easily enough and I put them at the bottom of the steps.

Then I went to the oil tank to check the level. It appears that it is about half full of oil. Since the tank is about 275 gallons and I put 100 gallons in recently it will need an additional 100 plus gallons to fill it. A swift check with the flashlight through the rest of the cellar did not net anything serious. Although the regular cedar posts planted upon concrete blocks or granite are still in place, one of the posts seemed to waver. I thought about giving it a push here or there and then decided that since I was under the first floor it probably was not a good idea to bother the prop. The check of everything done I decided how to ascend the steps with the pipes in hand.

I thought that the pipes should go before me so that there would not be an occasion to lose a section, thus having to return to the cellar. So I pushed the tubing ahead of me one step at a time. I reached the top step and pushed open the cellar door which was a good thing. I am always afraid of being stuck down there. Although both Anthony and Michael were in the barns and I had told them if I didn’t reappear in due time to come looking for me. Max met me at the top of the steps with a tail fluffed out. Then he hissed and backed into the kitchen as I lifted the pipes. I passed Max and then Sarah as they were not pleased to see the strange thing. Out the door the pipe went and down the steps to land on the ground still somewhat intact.

The dreaded chore was done. I cannot express how I hate the cellar of this old house. I am sure that the ghosts of the house from the late 1700’s still remain. I have heard their whispers. They seem to find the cellar and the second floor comfortable. Consequently, since I live on the first floor they tend to keep to themselves unless I must invade their spaces. Bonnie and Betsy Ann haven’t ever been inclined to go up or down the stairs. And I figure if they aren’t interested then it is probably a good idea not to push my luck. Dogs have more sense than people most of the time.

As I reappeared Anthony stated that the barns were cleaned, the truck loaded for the dump and the pool for the ganders filled. It was time to go to the dump, get grain and beat the hay being delivered. The goslings pool was about half filled and that would have to do if we were going to get everything done. I realize that neither my truck nor car have wings; however, they do get around quick enough. I flew from one place to another and by 4 p.m. hay was unloaded, stacked and the gosling’s pool was in the process of being filled.

Monday the piping for the furnace will make a trip to Waterville with me. Then I will have to make another trip to the cellar to install the pipe. I will take a new heat lamp with me. I will install lots of new light bulbs. I’ll attach a new heat tape to the water pipe. Then, eventually I will call the oil company to fill the tank. The cellar will be fine until I have to pay attention to it again. There’s a few things to cross off the list!

And so it goes…

Copyright © 2011