May 2011 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


Spring is here, Spring is here, life is skittles and life is beer… Well, at least it seems to have stopped raining for the moment.

The vultures are back! I love the vultures. They nest every year in our old semi-dead hollow tree down by the road and spend their days soaring above the yard and the field across the road.  I counted nine of them wheeling above our side yard the other afternoon. They are truly awesome birds. You can go stand in the yard and they’ll swoop low over your head to say hi. At least I hope they’re saying hi and not just checking my pulse.

We acquired a flock of crows in our trees last year for the first time. That sounds like we paid for them, but they actually just appeared. I grew up with crows, and I didn’t realize until these showed up how much I had missed their caws. And in the early evening, I sit on the front porch and watch the bats zoom back and forth catching bugs. Bats are cool.

The downside of spring around here is the clouds of agricultural chemicals that envelop the house. We’re sandwiched between two enormous fields, each spanning hundreds of acres, where soybeans and corn are grown in alternate years. Because of the rain, the farmers are way behind schedule in their planting, and they’ve been spraying late into the night. Not fun. It’s a huge argument against country living.

Many thanks to our readers who have subscribed or otherwise contributed to our well-being lately. As I may have mentioned a few times, your support literally keeps this leaky little boat afloat. I know money is tight for most people, but, if you can swing four cents a day ($15/yr), you’ll be ensuring that we’re here when you run into someone who firmly maintains that the proper spelling of the phrase is “all tolled.” Think of us as an insurance policy on a small but important bit of your sanity. So please consider subscribing if you can, because (as I have lately discovered the hard way) there are many people out there who would like to but can’t.

Many thanks also to the kind person who sent me Dragon voice-recognition software. I actually do have a computer that can be booted into Windows 7, so that’ll work. My shoulder is healing slowly, but I’m  going to use this software even after it’s working again. One of the things that ms has done is undermine my ability to make my fingers type the proper letters. I worked as a legal proofreader for several years at a large NYC firm and I was very good at it (good enough that I quit wearing a tie to work and got away with it), and until a few years ago I almost never made a mistake typing. Now? Fuhgeddaboudit. Word salad. It’s mostly my left hand that’s the culprit, but that’s half of every word up for grabs. But I still compose complete sentences in my mind before I type them, so speaking them aloud instead ought to work. It’ll be like having an amanuensis. My father worked as an assistant to H.L. Mencken in the 1930s, and he said the high point of that gig was when Mencken got into the habit of introducing him to people as “my amanuensis.”

Speaking of computery things, my primary computer just went kablooey, which isn’t surprising, since it’s a low-end desktop Dell from 2003. I bought it NIB on eBay for less than $400 and gave it a real graphics card, a decent power supply, a cheap sound card and four gigs of cheap memory, and it hummed along happily for eight years. Now the graphics card has died rather dramatically (strobing orange screen!), but I’m not sure I’ll replace it since (a) I don’t have the money at the moment, and (b) the whole machine has been acting strangely for a few weeks, and Dell never built anything to last this long. Kathy’s final Dell (before she jumped ship to a Mac years ago) died of a fried motherboard one day after the one-year warranty expired. What a coinkydink, eh?

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