Musings on a snowy day

This specific post has nothing to do with horses, so if you’re here solely for equines, sorry.

Yesterday it was cold (about 25 F) and windy. My husband and I spent the day outside, doing volunteer work. My self-appointed task was to clean out a dozen bluebird boxes. It wasn’t hard work, but the boxes are spread out over 1000 acres of prairie, which entails a lot of walking. I wasn’t cold, as I was wearing duck hunter pants, topped by a down vest AND a down jacket. Still, the cold does takes its toll. We got home about 4 PM.  After a hot shower I made dinner (my favorite-buffalo wings) and we shared dishes wash-up (as we always do).  I sat down to read John McPhee’s “Basin and Range” with the help of my two literary critics, Diamond and Sable. My husband sat down to do the cross word puzzles.

I didn’t get through a page. I fell asleep.

Two hours later, I woke up, dragged myself to bed, and went right back to sleep.

We woke to four inches of snow.

I should be out shoveling it from the parking spaces. I learned many years ago that if one doesn’t shovel the snow out of the spots where you park/drive (at home), they turn into icy ruts that last until, oh, July.

However, that was when I lived in snow country (Michigan).

Now I live in the Pacific Northwest, where we do get snow, but it doesn’t last for months. We get RAIN for months, but that’s another whine.

I should temper that remark with the observation that, two years ago (January 2012) we got several FEET of snow in less than 36 hours. It was immediately followed by an ice storm. Four feet of snow topped by three inches of rock hard ice makes life extremely difficult. Shall I also add that we lost power for ten days? Wasn’t that adversarial…but as I’ve been told over and again, adversity builds character. If so, I’ve got enough character to people an entire movie.

Our truck was snowed in, and thus, so were we, for days. We’d shoveled out twice, but the snow came too fast and too heavy, and then the ice sealed us in.

Even had we been able to get out, (with tire chains), where were we going to go? The entire county was snowed in and without power. If you didn’t have enough food, you were screwed. Many folks were. That’s what happens when you live in an all electric town house, one without generators and no room for a freezer. People who lived in apartments are even worse off.

Talking to folks after the county finally got the power restored, I am astounded that so many of them, these days, not only don’t cook, they don’t know HOW to cook. Some had gas stoves, which worked, but they didn’t have a manual can opener. Even one of my neighbors, who lives in the same rural conditions I do, didn’t have a Coleman lantern or a working flashlight.

Simply amazing. Yes, there’s a price to living ‘out in the country’, but maybe it’s me…maybe I’ve lived a bit closer to the earth, maybe it’s because I’ve lived in places for months at a time where there was no power, no hot water (that you didn’t heat yourself on a potbelly stove) or even a stove.I learned to manage.

We had plenty of food and a generator, so other than the fact that the furnace wouldn’t work, we were fine.  We’d run the generator for an hour or two, long enough to keep the freezer frozen, flush the toilets, and have water to wash up with, then we’d shut it down and peer out of our modern cave, waiting for the mammoths to return.

The cats thought the kerosene heater in the kitchen was a TERRIFIC idea. Why don’t we do that ALL the time?

Slowly feed the cat into the heater to keep an even, steady temperature.

Slowly feed the cat into the heater to keep an even, steady temperature.

Sable, as you can see, just couldn’t get enough of the heat.

It was also when I learned that my husband and I are truly compatible. Ten days without going anywhere but the next room with a person you even slightly dislike turns into Murder Contemplation. I wonder if the Mars Expedition space ship will have any living human beings aboard when it finally arrives at Mars.

Today, hoping to avoid a repeat of having the truck snowed in, after a hearty breakfast, I went out to shovel snow.

This is when my age hit me squarely in the face. I just don’t have hunyocks for shoveling anymore. And this is cardiac snow-heavy and wet. It is no fun when you realize your gas tank for hard work shrivels as you age. I used to be able to shovel the whole drive, from garage to the road, a distance of about 120 feet in one long but productive go.

Not today. I couldn’t even finish the parking pad. Only because the weather man says the snow is going to melt this afternoon do I let it go.

I hope it’s only because I spent all my energy yesterday instead of the truth-that I’m almost 60 and 60 year old women have to pace themselves when it comes to hard labor.  Because my mind refuses to believe it’s carried around in a 60 year old body. It believes it is still 19 years old, when I could run for hours, get right back aboard after falling off a horse, (and not be incapacitated for the rest of the week), stay up and functional for 36 hours because duty called, and eat an entire T bone steak at one sitting, WITH the salad and the baked potato with all the fixings.

Alas, that is not me. Not anymore.

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Fifty years ago, British invaders conquered the United States-with only four young men. Not a shot was fired, yet millions of girls lost their minds (and would have been eager and willing collaborators, if the lads had only asked! ). At 10 years old, I wasn’t that interested, but found myself swept up in the tsunami madness. Peer pressure forced me to declare which Beatle was my favorite, so I chose Paul. I was then immediately segregated into the Paul clique, one which was then obligated to argue his merits over the other three Beatles. As I recall, his one and most powerful attribute was that of being “cute”. Cute was used as “like” is today in girl speak. The Paul girls could not imagine what in the world the other cliques saw in their favorite. They, on the other hand, dismissed Paul as merely a pretty boy, when John was ‘deep’, George was mysterious, and Ringo…well, Ringo was, I suppose, the oddball.

When he worked with John Lennon on song writing and singing, Paul was magic.

Now, though, when I hear one of his solo or Wings band songs, I run with my fingers in my ears. Few musicians are more banal.

I was a fan of the Rolling Stones, truth be told, but one didn’t admit to thinking “Paint It Black’ one of their best songs ever,  because the Stones were ‘bad boys’. I liked their edginess, I liked their music. Their bass guitar licks could level mountains. But like Sham, Secretariat’s rival in the the 1973 Triple Crown,  (there, I got a horse reference in), the Stones came along at the same time as the bubble gum Beatles. They were simply outplayed by Beatle avalanche. You could not listen to the radio without being subjected to the Beatles. While most of their early music was okay, it had the sticky capacity of getting into your mind and never letting go.

As the Beatles aged, they let their drugs do the composing, with predictable results. They went all LSD on us. You could tell that the strain of their outrageous success, the pressures of having to have a top hit every single release, and never, but never, having a moment of privacy, coupled with drug use, was destroying the band.  Now, I feel badly for them-they had no idea how big the elephant that they’d created would grow, nor did they realize that one day they’d have to eat that elephant. They were forced by their fame, and the photographers, to be ‘happy together’ at all times, and no one can be that way. Especially being musicians, who have always had a reputation for being ‘individualists’.  It must have been like a marriage gone bad, except this time you had three spouses to fight with, not just one.

When their drug period music wasn’t strange, it was silly. One radio station played “Yellow Submarine’ nonstop, over and over, for 24 hours. I am not making this up. Today, that act would be called “torture”. I’m betting the staff of the station decided to put the record on replay and took the day off-with pay.

Knowing how money obsessed my country has become, when I was made aware of this 50 year anniversary, I began to worry. Not because it means that fifty years means HALF a CENTURY. No, it’s because I dread the very real possibility that the local radio stations will put all the Beatles music on replay and take a week off for a paid vacation. I dread it because we will be subjected to the greedy and tasteless schmucks amongst us, who will try to squeeze every last penny out of the nostalgia money sponge.

I won’t even go into the possibilities. There are people of such dreadfully low taste who, in order to cash in on the notoriety, would gladly subject us to a ‘nostalgic replay of the entire OJ Simpson Murder Trial’. Yes, that one, the one that took up thousands of hours of TV/radio time, not to mention thousands of words in print, all trying to explain, or trying to defend the actions of an abusive, controlling monster who almost decapitated his ex-wife by standing on her back, yanking her head up by the hair, and cutting her throat.

Even pigs are dealt a more respectful death.

Simpson got off on a technicality  because of a racist cop,  not because he was found innocent.

Fortunately, he IS in prison now, for a different crime. I hope he rots to death there.

I have no doubt we will be subjected to tons of Beatle nostalgia. At least we know the Beatles never harmed a soul, none were ever in trouble with the law, and neither of the surviving Beatles are in prison.

We will probably be subjected to long documentaries about John Lennon, who was murdered by a self absorbed wannabe named Mark Chapman who wanted Lennon’s attention, and got it by way of a handgun.  Chapman’s family was able to afford a good lawyer who got Chapman a bed at a ‘mental health facility’ rather than a bunk in big boy prison.  Chapman got away with Lennon’s murder due to that never fail, obligatory “mental illness” defense. His only mental problem was that Lennon was a better musician and apparently took offense at that. He was guilty, too.

He wants out, by the way. He, too, should stay in his comfortable ‘home’ for the rest of his life. Not because I liked Lennon that much, but because murderers shouldn’t be allowed back out on the street.

But what his murder of Lennon did was to forever give Lennon that patina of tragedy, that panache of the murdered artist, cut down ‘too young’. Lennon didn’t have it coming, no matter how wierd he’d become.  Will we be told about his strangeness, for instance, the time when John Lennon and that odd woman Yoko Ono he married spent an entire year in bed? After his murder, Yoko attempted to be the new John Lennon.

Even sadder, his son, Julian Lennon, had the misfortune to bear a likeness of his father, as well as his voice. The music industry tried to make him into another John Lennon. They didn’t want Julian, they wanted John, and by god, Julian, you were going to be John, no matter if you had no talent for singing or writing music. There was money to be made off his resemblance to his father, and those people wanted it.

Two things may spare me this torture. One, I believe that the Uncomfortably Icky and Bizarre Michael Jackson bought the rights to the Beatle music, lock, stock and barrel.

Owning those rights means one pays through the nose to play it. Even the surviving Beatles can’t play their own damned music! (well, the songs they’d created up to the sale).

Radio stations are almost totally automated now. Unlike the days when a DJ was a real live human sitting in a sound booth with his Gates Ambassador mixer, a stack of records and a couple advertising carts at his elbow, radio stations are almost completely automated now. It’s cheaper to program a computer to play music, ads and a little bit of pre-recorded human voiceover than to staff a radio station with real humans.

They don’t want to pay the royalties to Jackson’s estate, that which his surviving family is squabbling over like so many starving rats.

The other saving grace is that I don’t have to listen to the radio. I can shut it off. That doesn’t mean I won’t be subjected to it in the annoying canned music one hears in any store one happens into.  But I’ve learned, (having developed the ability to avoid Christmas music) how to shop at a run, and that the stores are fairly predictable in the times they play this stuff. Plus, my feed store and tack shop plays country.

Bottom line: I don’t want to hear Beatles music. My brain has faithfully recorded every one of their songs that ever hit the airwaves, and if I could play guitar, I could probably hit every lick and chord.

But of all the stuff they made, one stands as my favorite, and it was a throwaway of theirs, just stuck onto the White Album, more as filler than anything else. It’s titled “Blackbird” and features the singing of the most melodious thrush in Europe: the blackbird. For you non-birders and/or Americans, the European blackbird is exactly like our American Robin, without the red breast. They’re first cousins. But his song is so superior that Beethoven used one of the birds’ songs in his 9th Symphony. You know it. It goes dee dee dee DAHHHHHHHHH

Turdus merula, the European blackbird

Turdus merula, the European blackbird

Ah, I’ve wasted an hour. Or several. There’s still a lot of snow out there. But it appears we’ve dodged a bullet, as it is melting. By tomorrow it will be all gone. In the meantime, I think a lunch of grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup will be just the ticket.

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About subodai213

Retired U.N.C.L.E agent. Living in Laurasia.
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