Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Almanac, Schmalmanac - I've got Persimmons!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We all know about the Farmer's Almanac and perhaps its biggest use comes from weather predictions for the year.  Heck, I even have it over on the right side bar.  The thing is...it's notoriously ambiguous and OFTEN flat out wrong.

Yesterday, the local weather forecaster said it was going to stop raining in early morning and it rained all the way up to about 2 p.m.  Which should make all of us ponder:  if they can't predict the weather the next day reliably, how could these so-called scientists be 100% sure about global warming?  Inquiring minds want to know!

But who needs almanacs or weather forecasters when you've got persimmon seeds?  (I'm on a persimmon kick this week after posting that scary persimmon tale over the weekend.)  Yessirree, Bob, persimmons aren't just for dessert.  They've long been used to foretell what kind of winter weather we can expect.

The truth is in the seeds, you see. Wash them off and then hold them standing on their side (like a football kicker) and then carefully slice them open.  You're guaranteed to see 1 of 3 images:  a fork, a knife or a spoon.   Tiny little cutlery!  But what does that have to do with the weather?  Let me explain:

Spoon:  Think "shovel".  This is bad news, because it means there's going to be lots of snow.
Fork: It will be a mild winter with not much snow.
Knife:  The weather will be icy and cold.  Think "cut you like a knife".

The catch is that the persimmons have to be grown locally, so you can't just go buy some at the grocery store and try this.  Unfortunately, we have no persimmon trees anywhere near here in the inner city so I couldn't try this myself.  However, the local news station got some and opened them to find all spoons.  Definitely BAD NEWS after the cold, snowy winter we had last year.

Now I just need to find my go-to forecaster around these here parts...the woolly caterpillar.  Last year, he predicted a cold winter and he was right.  Where are you, little guy?  Anybody seen him this year or is he still hibernating?

What do you think?  Are these ways that Mother Nature lets us know what she has in store?  Or it all just hogwash?

Buh-bye, Mr. Mouse

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I am become death.  The mad poisoner.  

One of the bad things about living in an old house is that it's holier than swiss cheese and impossible to block all the holes.  The Victorian's actually built their houses to "breathe" because of their use of indoor fireplaces, gas lamps, etc.  

So, every fall, this little guy and what seem like 50 of his cousins try to find sanctuary against the coming cold by wiggling their way into our house.  Our 2nd floor office must be on the official Mouse Travel Guide, because that's where they end up.  Presumably, that's because that's where the dog food is.  What puzzles me is that they never end up in the kitchen, which is right below there.  But, in the office, there are lots of nooks and crannies to hide in and the food is always at the right height for a mouse (on the floor).

And so, every fall, I wage a war against these illegal aliens.  Poison is my weapon of choice because they take it back and share it with their friends and the war is over quickly.  For some reason, they like to die in the open (making a run for it, maybe?), which is good because I really don't want to smell dead mouse in the walls.  The only gotcha is that we have to watch for the bodies so that the dogs don't "play" with them.

While I know some people are going to be upset with me for posting this and say things like "Oh, he's so cute. Why don't you use a humane trap and put him outside?" or "How can you post such a garish thing as a dead mouse on your blog?"  Let me just say.... I do feel very conflicted because I actually find mice to be quite charming and, as they are small, furry and cute, my first reaction is to pick them up and pet them.  I mean, look at those adorable whiskers on the mouse above.  I find myself making up little stories about their lives and where they've been.  (Okay, maybe not...)

The thing is:  they don't belong in my house and, by crossing the threshold, they have sealed their own fates.  Sticky glue traps are just as inhumane, as they die slowly through starvation. Is snapping their little necks any better? And catching them and putting them outside only insures they will either come back into my house or someone else's.  Did I mention they're dirty little creatures that normally carry some kind of disease?

So, Mr. Mouse, while you are absolutely adorable in your little toilet paper sleeping bag, you and your friends have got to go.  That includes your 7 distant cousins I found living in my chicken coop. Consider yourself evicted.

I've shared this post with Camera Critters.  The rules didn't say anything about no dead critters, so I hope they're not mad!

A Spooky (Persimmon) Tale

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fall is my favorite time of year so it seems my memories of falls past seem to glow a little brighter than just about everything else.  Growing up, my grandfather would always send us over to Old Man Simmons' place to ask him for some persimmons.  My grandfather loved to eat 'em and the Old Man had the only trees in town.  He lived over by an old bridge on the outskirts of town in this decrepit old Victorian farmhouse that just about every kid in town (including me) thought was haunted.  It was pretty dilapidated with a weathered grey exterior and, quite frankly, looked somewhat abandoned.  The one sign of life was a light that burned constantly in one of the downstairs windows behind some tattered curtains.  In fact, every kid in town KNEW with absolute certainty that Old Man Simmons' house was haunted.

And, of course, persimmons ripen in October and we all had our young minds on the scares of Halloween, so the effect of the creepy exterior and crooked, bare persimmon trees in front just heightened our fear. Put the persimmon trees in front and a bunch more junk in the yard and this could be the Simmons' house :

Did I mention it was supposed to rain that afternoon, so the day was cold and very overcast?  The clouds were dark and low in the sky, pregnant with the rain that would later pelt me as I pedaled home.

That first year, I convinced a couple of strong-hearted friends to make the bike ride over to the Simmons house with me.  I was scared as a kid can be and no one - not one of my friends would cross the curb and go to the door.  My grandfather was adamant that I had to go ask permission before I took any persimmons.  The leaves swirled around us as we stood there for 10 minutes while I pulled together as much courage as I could to step onto the stone sidewalk, half buried and forgotten under the swirling autumn leaves.  I was feet from the luscious orange persimmons, but the thought of instantaneous death or entrapment by Old Man Simmons should I dare to try to steal one was enough to keep me from temptation.

I inched my way up the sidewalk to the porch and turned around to find every stinkin' one of my friends gone!  I pictured them furiously pedaling back home to tell their Mom to call the police, certain that I had become the "latest victim".  Do I run back to my bike or keep going?  Before I had a chance to decide, the door creaked open.  I'm now quaking in the new tennis shoes I'd gotten for school.  And then I hear "Well, hello!" in the sweetest little voice.  A small, grandmotherly-looking woman with her hair in a bun stepped into the doorway, drying her hands on her apron as if she'd just finished making cookies.  I could almost smell them wafting out of the doorway.  Wait...was she one of those evil witches who tempted kids into her lair with the promise of candy, cakes, ice cream and all those other sugary goodnesses that our parents wouldn't let us have?  Aaaaarrrghhhhh....the urge to run had come back with an urgency!

"What can I do for you, sweetheart?"  The question snapped me back into the moment.  "Uh...uh..uh....my grandpa sent me to ask if we could have some of your persimmons".  The words tumbled out with the alacrity of a jet engine.  I was shaking like there was an 8.3 earthquake going on underneath me.

"I see. Who's your grandpa?"

I swear my teeth were chattering as I told her.  The cold October wind picked up and the leaves  dance around me like some kind of evil ballet troupe.

"Well, of course.  We've known your grandfather for years.  You can take as many as you want.  Do you want to come in and warm up a bit before you go pick them?"

It was starting to rain.  One of the shutters, missing one of its hinges, creaked in the wind.

I didn't take her up on that offer, instead opting for thanking her and tucking as many persimmons into my backpack as it would hold and then doing the kid's version of "getting the hell out of there."

I would, however, in the following years, get to know both Mr. and Mrs. Simmons for the wonderful people they were.  They ran an antique shop out of the bottom of their house that was actually more of a junk shop, but it was filled from floor to ceiling with things that kids considered to be wonderous treasures.  Their house became a haunt of mine (no pun intended) and they would often let me paw through their items for sale and choose one for free.  I spent alot of my allowance money there also.

The Simmons' were both such nice people and it was until much later that I learned from someone else that they had lost their son, their only child, in a tragic accident several years before the day I set foot on their crumbling front porch.  I suppose they had become introverts after that, given the state of the house.  To this day, I think of them with a sense of both wonder and sadness.  They are both long gone and I wonder if the house is still standing.  If I ever make it back there, I'm making it a point to go by there and check.

I never told my grandfather about that first venture to see Old Man Simmons.  I've always wondered if he sent me there knowing  the absolute ghoulish fright it would cause in all of us.  I suspect he was grinning as we gathered our backpacks and took off on our bikes that gray afternoon to go get him his beloved persimmons. 

Do you have a frightful tale from your childhood?  Somebody make the hair stand up on the back of your neck?  Scare the heck out of all of us - leave a comment!

Blast from the Past

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sorry to be away (yes, Mary Ann, we're still alive!).  We've just been ludicrously busy the past couple of weeks and the blog has suffered because of it.  J.'s mom had hip surgery two weeks ago and she seems to be recovering nicely and is up and around now.  (Hi, Linda!)

There's a good chance that we will finally hear about the project house this week.  The rumor is that they've received the long-awaiting documents that should clear up the title problem.  After so many false starts, though, I'm not holding my breath.

I had to share this unbelievable sight with you because I couldn't quite believe my own eyes either!  This is the gas pump when I filled up the tank this weekend at Hy-vee.

Nope, it wasn't broken...just good couponing! If you add in the $8.00 online rebate that I found while we were shopping, I paid just over $4.00 for a full tank of gas.  I can't even remember the last time gas was 61 cents per gallon.  In fact, I tried to look it up and the best I could find was that gas was 99 cents in 2000.   And milk used to be under $2.00 a gallon.  Do you guys remember that?


Those were the good old days!

Moral Statistician

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I've been awfully cranky lately, as have a lot of folks I've talked to, about all the shenanigans going on in Washington on both sides of the aisle.  So that got me to thinking about this great piece from Mark Twain.  He certainly had a way with words:

~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~** ~~**~~**~~

I don't want any of your statistics; I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it.

I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man's health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years' indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc. etc. And you are always figuring out how many women have been burned to death because of the dangerous fashion of wearing expansive hoops, etc. etc. You never see more than one side of the question.

You are blind to the fact that most old men in America smoke and drink coffee, although, according to your theory, they ought to have died young; and that hearty old Englishmen drink wine and survive it, and portly old Dutchmen both drink and smoke freely, and yet grow older and fatter all the time. And you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime (which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone), nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of people from not smoking. Of course you can save money by denying yourself all those little vicious enjoyments for fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can't save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment where is the use of accumulating cash?

It won't do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and hungry. And you never dare to laugh in the daytime for fear some poor wretch, seeing you in a good humor, will try to borrow a dollar of you; and in church you are always down on your knees, with your ears buried in the cushion, when the contribution-box comes around; and you never give the revenue officers a full statement of your income.

Now you know all these things yourself, don't you? Very well, then, what is the use of your stringing out your miserable lives to a lean and withered old age? What is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In a word, why don't you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying to seduce people into becoming as ornery and unlovable as you are yourselves, by your villainous "moral statistics"?

Now, I don't approve of dissipation, and I don't indulge in it either; but I haven't a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices. And so I don't want to hear from you any more. I think you are the very same man who read me a long lecture last week about the degrading vice of smoking cigars, and then came back, in my absence, with your reprehensible fire-proof gloves on, and carried off my beautiful parlor stove.

Along for the Ride

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Look who decided to hitch a ride home with me last night...

A friendly katydid!  I don't have any photo editing software on this PC, or I would have lowered the light on his face, but it does a nice job of highlighting the leaf-like veins on his wings.  I see tons of preying mantises, but I have never seen one of these in person!

Despite being rather large at aout 4 inches long, I didn't notice him on my hood until I started driving and he did fine holding on at low speed until I got out of the parking garage, pulled over and did the photo shoot.  Then he calmly climbed into my hand and I deposited him in a field where he wouldn't get smooshed.

What a neat little creature!  Anybody know exactly what kind of katydid this is?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...