Saturday, January 14, 2017

How to Get the Freaking Ice Off Your Freaking Satellite Dish

Overnight the ice storm coated my WiFi satellite dish: a very serious matter because WiFi is my freaking life. I suited up for freezing rain wondering how to de-ice it. Of course I should have sprayed it with Pam at the start of winter, but I forgot, and now the dish two-and-a-half feet wide and seven feet above the ground with a quarter-inch layer of ice on its face presented a problem. I had to restore my freaking WiFi. Whacking the ice with a stick or garden tool might damage the dish and then I'd have no WiFi for weeks until the satellite people from India got here. I could see myself telling them "I hit it with a rake." I'd have to melt the ice, not break it. Planting a stepladder there would be too treacherous.

My solution: Soak three rags in a bowl of hot water. Take the bowl, plus a worn-out corn broom kept on the porch to chase raccoons with, out to the dish. Wring out a warm rag and lay it over the broomstraws. Lift the broom overhead and rub the rag on the dish for about a minute until the rag loses all its heat. Replace it then with the next warm rag, and the next. Go back into the house, refill the bowl with hot water. Realize that the rags left freezing in the yard should be soaked in hot water too before re-using. Bring the rags back into the freaking house, soak them in the bowl, bring the bowl back into the yard, wring out a freaking rag, put it on the freaking broomstraws, and keep wiping the dish. The thinnest ice began thawing but threatened to refreeze. I concentrated on the top third of the dish until it was cleared. Went into the house for my can of Pam spray, lifted it overhead, tilted it heavenward, prayed and was answered  because its spray reached exactly the top of the dish. Each time I melted another sector of ice, I Pammed it. Repeated this activity for about 25 minutes, sometimes gently tapping the thickest ice with the broom handle and cracking its thinner edges just enough to broom the ice off the dish, bit by bit. Yay.

Brought rags and bowl into the house, hung the rags to dry, washed the bowl. Crunched across the frozen grass, picked up the broom and put it back on the porch. Tried the WiFi. It worked. It's now 1:30 p.m. and I myself can get to work.

The Ice Storm

Yes, there's an ice storm, but it has sights to offer we can't get any other way. The map, from 11 a.m. Saturday, says "Lake Adelle" which is some miles away near Cedar Hill, because that is the closest transmission tower working. I got lots of emails from outta state relatives and friends whose TVs told them this was a disaster. Felt like a celebrity.

Friday I woke very late because there was so little daylight. Snowfall had turned to ice. I crunched over the frozen grass, fed the birds, and later when they called for seconds even the grass was too slippery to walk on to refill their feeders. I listened to the road all day. For hours and hours there was no traffic, none, a great silence, except the tick-tick of frozen rain on the roof and maybe every three hours the throaty roar of a truck spreading gravel and salt at the intersection and over the LaBarque's little bridge. I was in the kitchen cooking nearly all day. This morning I picked broken branches out of the lane; there weren't many, and broke the coat of ice that had sealed our mailboxes. Roads were clear at 33 degrees (because, they explain, and it's as good an explanation as any, because four days ago it was 71 degrees, and two days later it was 0 degrees, and now you have to drink a shot). There's more precip at the moment, but my neighbor and I are fine.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Better Together

I'm drawn to thick strong old-fashioned restaurant china coffee cups because, I realized, my dad played cards with his friends in our church basement while I sat in his lap, and they drank from such cups, always with saucers. When a friend thought to give me for Christmas a saucer that matched one of my treasured Buffalo China cups shown on this blog, I was thrilled. Aren't they a handsome pair? Bake little butter cookies and it's no longer just a cup of coffee, it's a whole civilization restored. I am so grateful. Who knows what stories this cup and saucer tell each other after half a century of wandering from Buffalo, New York, finally to meet in a cabin in Missouri where someone appreciates them.

The cup is undated, or its date stamp has worn away. The saucer is dated 12-64. So they are not mates but perhaps siblings. The red airbrush trim is classic.

Buffalo China's factory, opened in 1901 and closed in 2013, is still standing, and china is still there stacked up ready to go (see photo) and on the production line, unfinished, so it closed in a hurry. There are more photos of the factory here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Animal Friend

Hermann here grew up feral, and bit by bit--it took 13 months--my friends Tom & Julia beckoned him onto their porch and gained his trust. They set out a bed for Hermann, fed him, and one day he came indoors and now enthroned on their bed he allows them to pet and hug him. But Rufus, the big ginger cat who rules the rest of the house, is fiercely jealous. So I the cat-sitter was instructed to keep them separate, and every day I entered the bedroom, shut the door, and talked to and played with Hermann, but he wouldn't let me touch him. Then I left the bedroom door open by accident and heard awful hissing and returned to find Rufus in the bedroom squaring off with Hermann for the fight of the century.

I stepped into this violent situation yelling and without thinking. Rufus clawed my left palm, a wound just shy of requiring stitches, and my thumb and forefinger. He retreated looking embarrassed.  Hermann cowered beneath the bed for a day and when he came out for his evening snack he let me pet (with my good hand) his beautiful striped fur and even rolled over for a belly rub. Delightful. There is nothing like making friends with a cat. I took this photo at the last breakfast I would serve him, because his mom & dad were coming home that night.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


I received an amaryllis as a Christmas gift. I've always wanted one, simply never got around to buying it. I have a plant-free house (all the plants are on the hundred acres around me), except sometimes with bouquets arranged from wildflowers or especially lilacs in spring, but not by design. So I intend to plant this amaryllis bulb and watch it magically grow and bloom. What color will it be? Don't know. Or rather, it'll be the perfect color. Plants are simply magical.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Free Chives

Nobody likes carrots for Christmas. Nonetheless we have them in the fridge anyway. Often one or two bags of peeled baby carrots. Given all the other holiday treats, raw carrots take last place. Yes, we had good intentions, but still have carrots nobody is eating. What to do?

Make carrot soup, of course. Chop em up, cook 'em down, add spices and cream, and puree.

But a bowlful isn't quite appetizing enough because it's carrots after all, so maybe a dollop of plain yogurt goes on top. Not inspired to eat it yet.

Then I remember, during gray winter days, the one surefire greenery in the woods (often in the border of the woods): chives. You'd never see them in a Wisconsin winter, but they grow freely in beautiful green clumps in Missouri. Scissor the tops as if giving a haircut, and more will grow. Free chives, an endless supply! Maybe there are some near you!

Cut them up, sprinkle them over the soup. Now you have carrot soup fit for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I Love the DMV

Going to the driver's license office is fun. Admittedly it's only every two years for car registration, and one extra time at five-year intervals to tell the state my height and weight and whether they may remove my entrails if I die (but of course!). Sometimes the employees try to make this task a little lighter, especially the picture taking. It's changed a lot.

"I look like a killer," I told the lady at the license office who'd just taken and printed a digital photo of my face that looked more stunningly like a mug shot than any I'd seen.

"Everyone says that," she said. "The state orders the same camera for every state office. So this one's the same as the police."

Ohio's DMV in the 1970s had special room with a big ol' camera on a tripod and a specialist who used it all day on bland and vacant faces, the special Ohio breed. Attached to this camera was a thin flexible stick he swung around, and from its end dangled a toy bird on a spring. "Watch the birdie," he said, and like everybody else I laughed and he clicked.

The DMV in Boston was known to be worse than death, with long lines and iron-faced clerks. "We can't use this," the clerk said about my photostat birth certificate, white print on black. "It's the only one I have," I said, and by the grace of God it got by and I cut that license up over a trash can when I got my first Missouri license.

I loved seeing the Pacific license office with license plates nailed to its walls, cafe-curtains printed with license plates (where'd they get the fabric?) and a cheerful Christmas tree. I only worry now about my one official 2016 State-of-Missouri face they'll show on TV if I ever get in trouble.

Demetrius and I used to watch the local TV news and when a scary mugshot appeared onscreen we'd both yell "Guilty!"