Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For some reason our power was out for three hours yesterday. Not sure why, but we did have 3-4 brownouts during the height of the storm, so maybe they shut it down on purpose to make a repair. That was the extent of the impact on my house in Castleton. In Samsonville, still no power, and the pool cover was ripped off and is in the water. Seems obnoxious to complain when so many lost everything, or live in places where there are few resources to be self-sufficient. Halloween...I do have candy on hand, and I made an effort to make the porch semi-respectable, but so far no trick or treaters. [Later: they started coming soon after I wrote this.] [Still later: We had more kids this year than we've had in at least the past five. The groups were huge! I was afraid we would run out of candy -- but didn't quite. We shut the lights out at 8:30.]

I was thinking about TB/TC (my marvelous cat Teddy) because he came from south NJ, just about where the storm made landfall. I wonder how the couple is who gave him away. He spends many hours in the day time outside, weather permitting, and even sometimes when it is lightly raining. He LOVES it. It is another of the many ways he is similar to Edna. There was no keeping her inside, even though I did not want her to be an outdoor cat. She wasn't, did not spend nights out there, but she had to go outside or she became grouchy and she would do her best to slip outside when the door was opened. In her case, she jumped the fence and went wherever she wanted. That's the reason her being out made me nervous. But, no harm came to her, and she always came back when called. To say my house is a good place for cats is an understatement. The yard is one story below street level, it backs up a deep ravine that has a cemetery on the other side, and so Edna never went in the front of  the house near the road.

Teddy can't get out of the fence, both because he does not seem inclined to try, and because he was declawed when I adopted him. I believe cat declawing (like dog ear and tail docking) to be cruel animal abuse, and it is something I would never have done. My vet shares the philosophy and would not agree to do it. I think in Teddy's case it was especially mean, as it was done when he was an adult -- five years old, in fact. But I admit that his lack of claws means no jumping and escaping from the yard, and so I can let him stay out there as long as his heart desires without a bit of worry.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Hudson flooded a bit, and the wind howled, but all my services stayed on. All of my family in the Catskills are without power, internet and telephone -- trees are down everywhere so it will probably take a long time to restore. (Don't get me started on how irritated this makes me since there is still no cell service in Samsonville! So no communication with my parents once again.) Bob's brother was evacuated in Hoboken, lost power and there is some water in his place. Out on Long Island, his father lost power for a while but it has already been restored. It's still rather windy, but I am on campus today. It seems quiet -- some students may be away, and others with no electricity may have opted to stay home, but otherwise, everything is operating normally. I see the media has stopped labeling it last week's "frankenstorm" in favor of "superstorm Sandy."

Sam was oblivious -- just wanted to play fetch (as usual), but Rosie and TB/TC were shaken by the wind noise. Or maybe they were just competing for the blanket...

Monday, October 29, 2012

This is more a windstorm than a flood for us, unlike Irene, but the Hudson is surging (allegedly, I did not walk down to check) because the Long Island Sound is backing up into it. Schools closed early so catechism was canceled, classes were also canceled (but i don't teach on Mondays anyway). So far I still have electricity and DSL. And telephone, because my "landline" is home phone connect, which uses the cell tower rather than wire. And, of course, my regular cell is working (mostly, I have an unrelated tech issue that will take a visit to the store to resolve since phone support couldn't figure it out). West Shokan, Olivebridge and Samsonville are without power, but I think the cable is still working, at least for now. I unplugged my femocell before we left last night, to protect it from a power surge. At $250, I didn't want to risk it. The night is still young, so stay tuned. Or not, if my power goes out!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I think everyone is extra apprehensive about "Frankenstorm" because of Hurricane Irene last August. Will Sandy + a nor'easter + an arctic blast be even worse? I am so glad we spent two weekends getting the Castleton yard in shape. Another half-hour or so of work, and there will be no hazards remaining. This weekend, we will have to tackle Samsonville. It isn't a big deal, only some lawn furniture on the deck and patio. (We closed the pool three weeks ago -- very late! But the weekend in September when it was on the agenda was the weekend my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and there was no way we were doing it until he was home after surgery.) We also have to hunt and gather survival supplies for next week: candles, lamp oil, etc. Kerosene? Will it be that cold? There is always the risk that it will be much ado about nothing -- but better safe than sorry. Not one to complain when they get it wrong and there was minimal impact: that's when to be relieved, who cares if I have extra candles. Much better outcome than the storm being worse than predicted.

Added: State of Emergency declared.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I've settled on my single issue. I suspect it is an area where I am out of step with the culture (so what else is new), but here goes. Return falling behind to when it was in the past -- sometime in early October, I think. I also wish springing ahead was somewhat later, as it used to be, but on that point I am somewhat negotiable. But I hate, hate, hate the way fake time conflicts with my personal physical clock (aka true time) at this time of year. I feel ill for a few weeks until we go back to real time. Unite! Stop the DST madness now! (Or else de-friend me, LOL.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Uh-oh. Is this going to be the next block of New Scotland to be leveled? I hope the building can be spared.
Today I noticed an article making the rounds on facebook that asks to be de-friended on fb and un-followed on twitter by any friend or follower who plans to vote for Romney.  The demand was accompanied by a passionate argument for why the writer wants this.

The item didn't cause me to do anything, aside from reading the "liked" blog post. I (practically) never mix it up with anyone on fb. I have, on occasion, hidden individual posts so I didn't have to see them again (pictures of hunting "takes" [yes, euphemism] come to mind); I've also hidden all game reports of the farmville variety, and all except important items from friends who post endless strings of jpeg cliches or only write rants that are offensive to me in some way.

But I've never considered demanding that someone de-friend me. It is so passive-aggressive. Why would the writer expect someone to take this action and reveal information that we have to right to keep private? And if the target audience is not keeping their political preferences secret, but instead posting items the writer finds offensive, why don't they do the de-friending, if they want to take a more extreme step than simply hiding objectionable material? I don't get it.

Due to my interest in toleration, I am always surprised when I encounter viewpoints that are absent respect for pluralism. I also wonder, is the "liker" also asking to be de-friended? Or is it just a thoughtless like, as mine are on a cute cat picture or new seasonal menu announcement from a favorite restaurant?

I'd never mix it up on fb, as I mentioned, but it is oh-so-tempting to do a de-friending, but not to signify voting intentions, including whether I plan to vote at all or write in Mickey Mouse, all of which are my business and no-one else's unless I feel like sharing. I am tempted to take such action just to add to the writer's palpable angst. Or maybe a better strategy would be to one-up the egotistical outrage and demand de-friending if the reader intends to remodeled an outdated kitchen or buy a new sofa or fly in an airplane for vacation, because those acts are wasting resources and conflict with my 100% pure and true anti-materialist value system.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This is the view from the back of the house right now. Yellow isn't my favorite color, but I have to admit: this is glorious!
Kateri Tekekwitha was canonized as a saint yesterday in Rome, so we went to her birthplace at Ossernenon (the Auriesville shrine) for a Mass to celebrate. Lots of people there. Some were descendants of indigenous peoples, and a few wore traditional clothing. The whole experience was amazing. Wonderful day. I will go back there again on a "regular" day because it was too hard to be leisurely and "soak it all in" with the crowds.
The whole place has a 1930s log feel, except for the gift shop, which is 1960s Thruway hot shoppe. The above statue is in the coliseum; it is St. Kateri, the Lily of the Mohawk.

Afterwards, we ate at Raindancer. Good place!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sam is howling at the noon fire siren. Such a mournful sound!

Tomorrow we are headed to Auriesville for a Mass to celebrate the canonization of Blessed Kateri.

Today...household tasks...the weather permits yard work and walking the dogs in the cemetery.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My classes are going well (hard to believe the semester is half over already), but one thing that is a struggle is that they are very quiet -- the foundations classes in particular. Getting them to participate is like pulling teeth. They do not seem to be all that engaged even by peer questions. In the night class, I assume the hope is being let out early, but in the afternoon section, that can't be it. I will have to do some thinking on ways to fire them up. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Took advantage of the nice day and weed whacked. It is still damp outside but I also emptied some of the tomato containers near the fence. The fence is hanging together on a lick and a promise -- it badly needs replacement now that we have Rosie, who is a scamp. Keeps us busy -- in Samsonville, the fence is in good shape but it was designed for larger dogs, not little teeny beagles. She isn't as obsessed with getting out in Castleton, luckily. The fence here would be very easy for her to slip through if she worked at it. Not solely due to the large dog thing -- it is wooden and getting to be in bad shape. Some sections need replacement. It's on "the list" that never ends, and who knows when the task will ascend to the top bullet. I am constantly fussing over it, locating trouble spots, doing rube goldberg repairs on gaps where she could escape. As I mentioned, fortunately she doesn't try very hard here. The rabbits must be farther away than in Samsonville (where they are under the sheds and on ledges right next to the fence).

Professionally, I've been working on some articles for a magazine for charter school leaders. The assignment sort of fell in my lap unexpectedly, on the day of my father's surgery. So far, I think it will be a rewarding experience. I'm also going to teach winter session again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The weekend dried out, so yard work was on the agenda. We had a killing frost Friday night, so even though it has been warm-ish since then, I took down the garden fence, dumped the hanging baskets and window boxes. The end of the growing season brings a lot of bittersweet tasks. I harvested the basil (and three cucumbers), but am hoping to save the remaining herbs for a while.

Yesterday I did poop patrol -- the recent rain makes that an "ewwww" -- but it was too wet to weed whack. And, I still have to empty the container plants before the snow flies.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

For catechism class tomorrow, we are going to focus on St. Francis. There are several good picture books for children that focus on his relationship with animals, but I didn't plan far enough in advance to buy one and I am not sure whether they are in any library's collection so I could borrow one. Oh well. Maybe next year. Tomorrow the coloring pages we have and materials from the internet will have to do. We are collecting pictures of their pets from the kids to make a display and also they are bringing in donations of canned people and pet foods for the local food pantry.

On a completely unrelated subject, we've been having fun watching this on youtube via our roku:

Both of us remember this from childhood, as well as his editorials on the Smothers' Brothers show. We thought it was a riot, although we also both are not sure whether we also believed it was "real."

Friday, October 12, 2012

On Tuesday I lugged items from my one room schools collection to class. It's kind of a hassle (my classes are pretty far from my office) and I never know if it will be worthwhile. I always bring books and documents with me, but this semester I added some of the object I have, including a student's slate and an inkwell. The above blackboard is the teacher's, and it is made from painted wood. It would be cumbersome to take it to campus, so I just showed them this picture. 

I brought them back from Samsonville when we were on the way to Boston (never wanted to risk them with the dogs in the car). Afterwards a student came up to me and said how much she loved seeing them and appreciated that I brought them in, then asked if she could help me carry them back to my office! How nice, there are other young people in this world who were raised right. Next semester I will bring my suitcase with wheels to cart them, and maybe I can add a few more.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

My father, sister and BIL have been in Boston since yesterday. He had pre-operative testing, and his surgery is tomorrow. My mother and brother are going out tomorrow, and Bob & I are going on Thursday. My other brother will keep all the animals happy in Samsonville while we are gone. Please pray for a successful procedure and swift recovery.

My sister reports, on the secret facebook group page she has set up, that he thinks he will be visiting Pluto or Mars and he will tell us all about it when he gets back tomorrow night!

Bob & I had our first catechism class last night. We focused on Kateri Tekekwitha. I brought corn muffin snacks, and they were thrilled. One boy asked me, "why are there no drinks with this snack?" [oops]. A girl asked us to bring chocolate chip muffins next time. Some unexpected excitement: there was a mouse in the room! We had fun, and I think the kids did, too. At times I had an image of "Kindergarten Cop." LOL. 25 college students is definitely easier (though somewhat less fun) than 9 third and fourth graders.