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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Squirrel Hunting

As many of you know I have a squirrel as a best friend.  It is a sad state of affairs when I love a squirrel  more than the majority of my co workers.  By majority I mean a very high percentage too!  It isn't that they are bad folks they are just so very different from me in most ways.  I pretend that they find me exotic.  I have no idea what they really think because my mind doesn't work like theirs.  They think it is very strange that I put bananas in the freezer for my smoothie.  Obviously, smoothies are too hippie for them.  Given this information it probably won't come as any surprise that they would be shocked that I would go squirrel hunting. 

Rest assured that the squirrels were safe from me.  I wasn't really hunting.  It was all for show.  When I visit my brother back in the woods I just have to get outside and in the last few years he's a bit offended that I don't want to spend all the time with him.  In the house.  In front of the TV.  Ugh.  Hunting gives me the perfect excuse to get outside for some tranquility.

I haven't hunted in 40 years.  But it is no different now than it was then.  I did a little target practice with my brother's .22 the night before just in case I decided to get serious.  Besides, I love shooting a .22 and this was one sweet Remington.   I could hit a 2 inch square at about 30 to 40 feet.  That isn't great shooting but for me after 40 years with an unfamiliar firearm I was satisfied.  It wouldn't hurt my feelings if I missed a squirrel anyway.

The next morning it was nearly freezing and not a living thing was hardly moving in the woods.  I saw two birds and heard 3 squirrels.  The squirrels laughed at me.  I sat and listened to the leaves and the laughing squirrels.  I was fine with that.  Naturally, since I was squirrel hunting a flock of wild turkeys appeared.  They were close enough I could almost see their eyes.  But since I didn't know if they were in season I just watched them walk over the hill.  Proud Tom followed by 7 or 8 hens.  They cackled as they sauntered away.  I smiled. 

 (The turkey below is the one I chased across the parking lot into the brush here at the office a couple of years ago.)

I scouted the woods out and found 4 places where the squirrels were eating.  The leaves were still on the trees and the nuts were still falling.  There were lots and lots of hickory nuts.  I think the squirrels are eating acorns for the most part and they'll be back for the hickory nuts later.  At least it looked that way to me.

The next morning was warmer and the sun popped out.  I saw lots of birds and just strolled through the woods with absolutely no intention of killing a squirrel.  I heard the turkeys.  I went to the shag bark hickory tree and listened to the squirrel eat above me fully hidden by the leaves.  On my way back to the house I saw a gray squirrel on his way back to his little home in the tree.  He seemed unafraid and moseyed along.  I tried to get him in my sights but he knew just how fast to hop.  Like I said.  The squirrels are safe from me.

Getting old is funny business.  I don't like to kill things and that is why I quit hunting.  But somehow being out in the woods by myself just being quiet with a rifle in my hands made me feel young again.  I've had a hankering for some fried squirrel too which is what got this whole hunting business started. Just sitting there waiting I felt like the day held so much promise like it did when I was a kid.  Of course, the rifle has nothing to do with that, but it is a link to my past.  As I get older I find comfort in these old memories of the things I learned.  Sitting motionless listening for the sounds of nuts dropping, the rustle of leaves and watching for a branch to shake when it shouldn't reminded me of the days when the opportunity to go into the woods and hunt was an event that I anticipated for weeks and weeks.  The day of the hunt we'd get up before daylight and head to the woods to find a spot and wait for the light of day. 

Next weekend I go back.  Don't worry.  The squirrels will be safe from me then as well.  I'm sure they will laugh at me again.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Aging and Self Defense


Now that I have your attention (just teasing) let me explain the reason for the warning. 

Last summer I had an encounter with a man I hired to do some work that led to a confrontation (details on that another time).  Just a couple of weeks later an armed robber was on the loose in the neighborhood where I work.  He was finally caught after pistol whipping a guy at the Red Roof Inn next door.  By next door I mean I can throw a baseball and hit the place.  I often arrive at work before daylight and am the first person here.  The office is "conveniently located" next to the interstate.    No wonder The Red Roof gets so much action.  Hmmmmmm.  I don't want to be paranoid but I also don't want to be stupid.  It is a reality that I could be a target.

If you do not own a gun, are opposed to owning a gun, or are just simply terrified of guns you probably don't want to continue reading.  But you should.  Especially if you are an American.  Just sayin'.  These are my thoughts on aging and how I choose to protect myself.  We have the right to bear arms in this country.  It is as simple as that.

.32 Beretta Tomcat

I am a country girl and here in Kentucky guns are a fact of life.  Women and guns go together.  Women hunt and learn to shoot.  It is our heritage.  I first shot a gun at the age of 4 or 5.  Under irresponsible adult supervision, I might add  (do not try this at home).   Yeehaw!  Check it out.

I am getting older and with that comes the decline in strength and agility.  I don't like living in a city and I never will but I must.  Once you have been attacked you never really ever let your guard down and now I am no longer able to out run the bad guy or really even fend him off.  What to do?

For me there are really only two choices.   I can arm myself or not.  I chose a long time ago to arm myself and have always had a gun for self defense.  Thankfully, I have never had to shoot anyone and the one time I really needed it for self defense it was not on my person.  I have, however, had my gun cocked and loaded on multiple occasions within my home and once outside my house.  The question for me now is what level of protection do I choose.

9mm XD s

I still haven't totally answered that question but I'm getting closer with each day.  If you have never been the victim of a violent assault you might think this is way over the top.  If you have, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  The predator in my case, and many others, is a man you trust. 

We live in a great  country where we have the right to protect ourself with a deadly weapon if we choose.  I refuse to ever be a victim again.

I am a potential target each and every day I arrive at work.  The area isn't dangerous but the location is perfect for travellers through the state.  As I mentioned before the office is located at the intersection of two major interstate highways.  I have seen suspicious behavior in the parking lot, a coworker found a crack pipe and the parking is located at the back of the building and is partially enclosed by a fence.  Our building is separated from the Red Roof Inn by a hedge.  There are plenty of opportunities for a predator to hide.  These are facts.  What would I do if someone approached me?

These are questions I must answer.  After all, a homeless man was murdered across the street a few years ago.  A woman was murdered by her boyfriend a half mile away this winter.  He stole her car and fled in the early morning hours.  What if he'd come down here to steal my vehicle?  The office was broken into once and just this weekend someone tried to get in again.  A few years back a disgruntled ex employee of the place threw a bomb into the computer room and tried to set the building on fire. He had a gun in his truck as he sat outside and watched.

I don't think I'm paranoid.  I think I'm being sensible. 


Monday, June 24, 2013

Random Garden Photos

Feast your eyes on these........

I SOOOO wish I remembered what these bulbs were called.

Squash Blossom!

The most beautiful bean blooms..

The Enchanted Onion Forest!
 (I admit I only added this picture so I could say that.) 
Say it with me!

Peppers and Beans

My First Dahlia

Baby Black Eyed Peas

A Columbine lurks amongst the pole beans.  Can you find it?
 Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I started this blog out of boredom.  No kidding.  I'm paid to sit in front of a computer a minimum of 8 hours a day.  Many of those days I'm busy.  Many I am not.  Just two years ago I would have been hesitant to put those last two statements out here in cyberspace.  I have always been an eager employee willing to do whatever task needed to be done.  I did not work in an office for any extended period of time until I was nearly 40 years old.  I had always had jobs where I could work independently and excel through hard work.  I naively assumed that would be the case when I changed careers and moved into the white male dominated field of civil engineering.

My goal when I entered the new field didn't change from any goal I had at a job previously.  I endeavored to learn the new job to the best of my ability, work steady and meet internal project goals.  As a teacher this taught me discipline and flexibility. A stern task master keeps her students moving forward learning along the way.  A flexible teacher accomodates each student's personalities and moods to keep them on the learning path.

While in my last semester of engineering school I quit my teaching job at the local community college and took a job in the field of engineering.  It seemed a perfect fit for me as the owner was the nephew of John Jacob Niles.  I love folk music and working for the family of a famous folk music collector and composer of the Christmas song "I Wonder as I Wander" seemed fortuitous.  I leaped into my job and learned as much as I could cram into the six months I had there.  I loved the job, but the pay was low with no benefits so I moved on.  My hard work paid off and I quickly found another job where I applied myself in the same fashion. 

I quickly found lots of interesting projects working both for our local office and another in West Virginia.  My computer skills increased.  My natural ability to assemble information in an organized manner and meet deadlines found favor with upper level managment.  Then I met my nemesis, Mr. Petty, otherwise known as the Project Manager.  As punishment for my success I could no longer work for anyone but him.  The next two years were an excercise in futility and frustration.  I could only do work he assigned.  If I were to work ahead  I incurred his wrath which usually resulted in a total revision and ridicule of my "inexperience".  I soldiered on with my shield thrust forward.  My goal to win this war dangled like a precious prize before me.  I would not accept defeat.

One Monday morning I sat horrified as Mr. Petty informed our superior that the project failed to meet the deadline.  Why?  Mr. Petty's right hand man, Mr. Passive Aggressive explained.  All eyes turned to me.  My work required so many revisions the deadline had passed.  Three months of revisions on a task that usually required days.

I'm no idiot.  I can see clearly when an obstacle is in my path.  I quickly found another job.  This time, I told myself I would carefully research and select a new firm.  I quickly found a small outfit specializing the type of work I knew.  The president hired me on the spot due to my answer to the following question:

"Why do you want to work here?"

"To make money for the company." 

As crazy it may sound this was spontaneous and true.  I knew my place as an employee unlike Mr. Petty who had wasted valuable resources and money.

I shall spare you the gory details but incredibly Mr. Petty and his sidekick, Mr. Passive Aggressive had followed me to the new place of employment!  I had the usual six months of success.  Nearly thirteen years have passed and with some shame this weary worker admits that she gave up.  I lost the battle and I lost the war.  I failed.

The trick now is to turn this failure into a learning experience.  Most of my silence as a blogger relates to this predicament.  I did not want to be negative in my blog.  No matter if no one reads it.  In the event ONE LONE READER strays across this post and generously gives me the time to read this far, I did not want to chance filling them with the negativity that surrounds me most of the day.  There.  I've broken the silence. 

My life as a writer started as a child.  It continues.  Now I must set another goal.  I shall remain true to one of my earliest lessons from my mother.  When I fail I must learn  and try again.  Knowing this gives me the strength to soldier on, yet again, when the enemy outnumbers me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Calumet Farm

Probably the most photographed farm in Kentucky is the Calumet Farm located on Versailles Road right outside of town.  It is world reknowned and if you are lucky you can go on a horse farm tour and it will be one of the stops.  Like me. And yes it is the Baking Powder Family (for you US folks).

Quite a few years ago the farm was sold to some family from Poland (I think) and it is for sale again.  I don't know if it has been sold or not.  So as you enjoy these pictures please know the farm has been neglected (by Kentucky horse farm standards that is).

I'll start with the quintessential central Kentucky photo.  Everyone takes this picture.


Horse Barn




Yes, they even have obituaries in the paper for famous horses.  Nijinsky is buried somewhere around here but I had to hurriedly snap my pictures.  The guide was watching me closely, no doubt wondering why I wasn't hanging on his every word about the great drama of Alydar .  He's buried here too.

Here is a nice serene spot you can reflect on how dang wealthy you must be to have a manicured graveyard for your horses.  Note the white jockey.  30 years ago he would have been black and lots and lots of people would have had the black jockey statue in their yards.  Kinda like the pink flamingos in Florida, but they have remained the politically correct color.

I liked this horse and she liked me.  I would have taken her home, but I didn't have a couple million dollars handy.  And that lady?  She kept popping up in my pictures!  I was tempted to photoshop a moustache on her to disguise her identity so I could uphold my standards of not publishing photos of people without permission.

Stable Boy

Frisky Foal Being Weaned

The Horse's Ass

Watering Hole

Calumet Office

 This photo above was just to date the trip.  Tobacco hangs in the barns in the fall, and it smells heavenly when it is curing.  Nothing like you would expect.

Bye Now!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Berea, Kentucky

Berea is a special place.  I actually had a job offer in Madison County oh so many years ago and being from the other end of the state I really didn't understand the significance of the area.  Had I not turned them down I would be living in the country most likely.  But alas, some life decisions are often decisions of the heart.  I chose another path.

Berea College is located here.  It is one of the original settlement schools.  Yankee Do Gooders came down to educate the hillbillies and many of these schools are still thriving today.  FYI,  I say yankee and hillbilly with the utmost respect to both.  While I'm technically not a hillbilly I've been on the descriminatory end of hillbilly.  Seriously, when I lived in Texas I had people ask me if we wore shoes.  Sigh.  But Berea.  That is another post.  Today I want to share some pictures of the Depot.

Sit back and enjoy.......

Railroads make the best pictures!

Berea, the town is back over behind the house on the hill.

The House on the Hill

I suspect this house is newer than it looks.  This architecture is prevelant throughout the region.  I would love to have a library in the turret!

Lots of places in the area are named for geologic characteristics.  Sand Gap, Red Lick, etc.  There are the most awesome rocks found here the locals call "indian head rocks".  They are filled with colorful crystals with a lackluster brown exterior.

Berea is pronounced (Bah REE ah), but only if you aren't from the mountains in the area.  In that case you call it Berea (Bah REER).  Go on say that a few times in your best Kentucky accent! 

Barn Charm #10

Yet another random abandoned barn.

Somewhere in Central Kentucky

Linking to Trish and her Barn Charm .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How To Recognize a Real Man When You See One

The past few years at my job have been frustrating.  I have tried to write about some of the issues, but it always comes out sounding angry, or bitter or something I don't really feel. 

Simply put I work with very conservative males.  In a large company with a HR department I probably would have flourished because they want diversity in their workforce.  But knowing that I would not like all the ticky tack rules that go along with a large corporate place I chose a small business.  I like to work and I don't mind stepping outside my job description if it means getting the job done.

Unfortunately for me I was asked by the president of the company to "take care" of a retired "paper pusher" whom he had hired to bring in work for the company.  No problem.  Said "paper pusher" stayed out of my way and I did the work.  Then the plot thickened.

I'm sure you have all heard the analogy of the worker who is so productive they need a supervisor and then the supervisor needs a manager.  The manager needs a director and the list goes on until the worker becomes unhappy and unproductive so they fire the worker.

No I didn't get fired, but at one time I had 5 different "bosses" telling me to do 5 different things.  Just like in the movie Office Space.

I did, however, try to find a new job during this time.  The market crash took care of that and no offers came my way.  I also got stabbed in the back several times, thrown under the bus time and time again, and as my frustration mounted I worked harder.  Make no mistake, I am no stranger to sexism.  I also know I have problems with certain types of people, in this case male since there are no women in positions of authority here.  So it was up to me to head off these problems by recognizing them up front.  I quickly came up with a hypothesis.

The men who have issues with me usually know less about the job than me,  they have overbearing wives,  and they are essentially helpless if they can't talk.  In other words, they are not real men because they have to have someone take care of them.  They like to talk the talk but can't walk the walk.

Let it be known I do not suffer fools gladly.

Let it be known I refuse to apologize for working hard.  Such men like a woman to defer to him.  I am only deferential to people I respect. 

The problem is with them, of course, but it does bleed over into my life at the office.

The ant survived, but only because she is lucky enough to have as her future president a real man.

How do you recognize a real man?  After many many years of mistaken identity I have developed a sure fire way to ascertain a real man.  It is very easy as it turns out.

A real man is kind.  He is gentle.  He is respectful.  He is secure in his own skin.  He listens more than he talks.  A lot of men can fake this for awhile, but if you look closely and are very perceptive they will give themselves away, like a wolf in sheep's clothing.

A real man, my dear reader, is a man who can wear an apron and move around in your kitchen and look like a man doing it.  He will not be helpless or uncomfortable. He will not claim to be a chef.  He will be doing a woman's job and not feel inferior.

I work with some real men.  I like them.  I respect them.  The ones who are pitiful excuses for men, well, this little ant marched into a real man's office and firmly stated that if  .....names intentionally left out..... would ever have the authority to fire her she needed to find another job.

The little ant is happily productive again.  She is valued by real men.  She still does not suffer fools glady or kiss ass.