A Slow Spring

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Yesterday afternoon, with snow still on the ground. I started my new battery-operated snowblower and cleared the entire driveway. That machine did a fine job and used only a little of its battery power. Best of all, it sprang into action at a touch.

Earlier, in the morning, after scraping the hardened and new snow off my vehicle, I had a challenging drive to work. On very slippery roads I drove at twenty mph, as did everyone else. To my relief, and for a change, no aggressive followers appeared in my rear-view mirror the whole route.

Right now, working is dull in the Garden Department. It’s overstaffed and has few customers. That’ll change when the spring plants arrive. The rumor is that will happen a week after next, but I wonder because consistently this area is receiving snow. Locally, since this year started, we have had twenty or twenty-five snow days. That’s really great for our skiing economy, but way less so for folks eager to start planting.

Meanwhile, I’ve been bringing home potted plants and they are pleasant. It is refreshing to enter this house and glimpse healthy greenery and budding stems. My Jasmine is loaded with flowers that make this home’s interior a heavenly-scented wonder.

Soon, I’ll head out to work, to clock in for another early-at-work day. If nobody else has handled today’s plant watering task, I will. That’ll let me feel productive for an hour or so.

Dear Friends: Today should warm up, but Monday has rain and Tuesday brings snow. Diana


Friday, March 10, 2023

Today’s another early one for working. This hello will be brief since I must clock in shortly.

The scenario is becoming familiar. Today is early to work after scraping ice and snow from my vehicle. Yes, indeed, more snow fell during much of yesterday. The footing was slick at the barn, and the snow revealed many bunny tracks. The critters obviously are dining on my hay. That’s okay; I like bunnies.

I have a new snow plow that’s been delivered. But, unfortunately, I’ve no time to use it this morning, and besides, the fresh snow might not be deep enough. What’s good is now having a battery-operated machine. Yes, just pushing a button makes it go, and it’ll throw snow thirty-five feet away!

I’ll no longer need to be trying to awaken a gas engine, fiddle with a lazy starter, or, horrors, pull on a resisting rope; or finally, as usual, call for help starting the snow plow.

Except that nothing’s really over. From here on, the gas-driven plow will be parked at the barn. Its job (if its engine starts for me) will be creating pathways to and from the horses. In case the gas engine resists starting, I’ll recharge the new plow’s batteries and roll it down for plowing there.

Dear Friends: I have learned the wisdom of finding alternative ways to achieve what’s necessary. Diana

Come, Spring!

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Yesterday was exhausting. First, I had to awaken earlier than usual (and my “usual” already is early), to be at work by six a.m. Second, I didn’t notice heavy new snow falling before being outside and finding my car icy and partially buried. Third, I stood in the heavy snowfall while clearing ice and snow from windshields for visibility, and soon as possible left for work.

Driving proved difficult on streets unplowed and very slick. My all-wheel drive vehicle does an excellent job of making me feel safe in general; I help by keeping to low speeds. Yesterday, my rates averaged twenty to twenty-five mph. That’s slow, but from behind the wheel feels about correct.

Even so early and with little traffic, another vehicle appears and follows mine. Its driver follows closely, obviously wanting me to speed up. And unfortunately, my rearview mirror reflects the too-close headlights. I feel pressure but am frightened to go at a higher speed. So, I stay steady and mentally tell off my insistent follower.

Anyway, I safely arrive at work and clock in only minutes late. Then, just after six a.m. I’m in the Garden Department where I work. Nobody is around, no workers or customers, and nothing is happening. So I must figure out how to stay busy. My best option is to water the inside plants for sale, for past experience teaches that the process can consume a couple of hours.

The stressful morning continued. I tried to keep (or at least look) busy. This is a waiting period in the department before the arrival of outside plants, which will bring in customers. It’s good planning that the store pre-staffs “to-be-busy” departments. But for a new hire, the waiting is stressful. I’m wondering why a staff person must be there at six a.m.

The whole morning could have been easier had it not begun with brutal weather and problematic other drivers. I spoke of this to a co-worker. She advised me to turn my rearview mirror up, away, and out of sight and ignore vehicles following mine.

Next time!

Dear Friends: Just grumbling about winter ahead of local springtime, arriving in May. Diana

Early Bird

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Here’s a day I’ve dreaded. I’m to be at work, all clocked in by six a.m. That early hour tosses a wrench in my daily schedule here at home. Today’s early hour isn’t a stand-alone. In the two upcoming weeks, my schedule gives me at least one six a.m.-er. Interspersed are some 7’s and 8’s. They challenge, too, but 6 is the worst.

Fortunately, those days have me at work only for four hours. So I will get home early enough on those mornings to care adequately for my animals.

The Store has an earlier shift. It starts at 5 a.m. I hope that hour doesn’t appear in my future. Instead, imagine someone having to be alert and in the Garden Department at 5 a.m.

I must get ready to go now.

Dear Friends: Have a lovely day, and hopefully, one lacking yet another mini-blizzard. Diana

Planting & Growing


Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Yesterday, I worked at HD for four hours. I spent most of that time watering the store’s inside plants. I’m looking for the best ways to water there. For instance, I climb onto a ladder to water high-hanging plants. This pattern can consume nearly three hours, offering an escape from appearing busy.

All this area’s Garden Departments are in the lull before a spring storm–the arrival of live plants. Of course, planting folks are eager for their appearances. Once that happens, my department will be busy for months.

Many people in this unpredictable weather-belt area spring plant too early. They’re often disappointed when new snow and bitterly cold weather suddenly kill sprouts. Of course, local realists anticipate early-planted failures. Nevertheless, there’s a focused determination among folks willing to get up and replant in another new start.

I’m no intrepid planter, but I bring home young plants. Unfortunately, my gardens don’t achieve bragging quality; but with customers’ input this season, maybe I will improve my methods.

Recently, I purchased a battery-driven tiller for stirring up my planting areas. Besides needing the stirring, I love having battery-driven equipment.

To that end, I am slowly replacing all my existing gas engine machines. Unfortunately, my track record for firing-up gas engines isn’t good, so I can’t resist the specialness of buying into “just getting going” at the push of a button.

Dear Friends: My day off today includes planning another risky spring garden. Diana

Future, Now

Monday, March 06, 2023

Today is one of those too-early days of leaving for work. They’ve been upcoming and no longer are future challenges. I’ve been anticipating but not feeling ready.

Anyway, having to leave home early interferes with all other thoughts. So today’s writing must wait for tomorrow.

Locally, we faced a sudden blizzard yesterday. After hours inside, as I emerged from Home Depot, into my face blew big wet flakes. My Jeep was covered and wouldn’t, you know, without snow-scraping tools. I suppose I’d thought the snowy season past and should have known better.

Right now, in a similar mental blip, I am still writing and must leave soon.

Dear Friends: May your day be wonderful. Diana


Sunday, March 05, 2023

Today is my mother’s birthday. That is, as her kids understood. Mom wasn’t certain about her birth year and date, but as I know, “the date” is today, March 5.

My mother was a child of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. from Odessa, Russia, in the early 1900s. Mom speculated that she might have been born in Russia and brought here in infancy. My grandparents already had two or three older kids who came over with them.

An American Jewish agency sponsored their escape from Russia. The family wound up living in Illinois. En route to America, my grandmother was pregnant, and in Illinois, she gave birth to twins; neither survived. My mother often speculated that that was because of the stresses of escaping from Russia and traveling as a large family, among other large families, across a sea and an ocean, into the unknown. In Illinois, my grandparents had as many as three more children.

While living in Odessa, my grandfather had been a kosher butcher. Here in America, he worked as a laborer and as a roaming neighborhood “ice cream man,” delivering ice creams prepared by my grandmother. The family relied heavily on welfare. My mother often spoke to me of her sad memories from childhood, about their lives essentially as slum dwellers.

After a few years, my grandfather died, and my grandmother became the sole support for the couple’s then (I think) six children. She didn’t speak much English and had never been entirely alone. She was a courageous woman and an expert kosher cook. She got work as a cook in a Jewish residence in Oklahoma City, and to be there had to place her kids into a Jewish orphanage. Her eldest child, Ruby, almost immediately got married. Ruby was brave as her mother; she went as a married woman to that orphanage and managed to have the kids released into her custody.

In my mother’s family culture, Ruby was a hero everybody trusted and loved. Unfortunately, in her twenties, Ruby became ill, probably from tuberculosis, and passed away. My mother was left as the only daughter, and with all her brothers, none ever spoke of anything but the goodness of their big sister, Ruby.

Today, it’s impossible to reflect on and imagine the issues my grandparents faced. And those of my grandmother, to support alone her now American-oriented kids. As a child, I tended to avoid the very old woman who spoke broken English and complained lots. Now, I’d give almost anything to be once again with my grandmother and ask millions of questions about herself and the family while in Odessa and Illinois.

Late Nineteenth Century Russian attacks against Jews in Odessa drove my family to flee; the family changes while living in Illinois; my mother’s evolvement in those years and her often foolish decisions. Those events all seem worlds away from today’s world.

But really, in light of current events, are they?

Anyway, and yet again, I’m saying Happy Birthday, Mom. I hope you’d be pleased with many of my life choices.

Dear Friends: Thoughtfully remembering scraps of family knowledge is a powerful process. Diana


Saturday, March 04, 2023

I’m not scheduled to go to work today, but my home to-dos will keep me moving. Next week, I have scattered days off with challenging times to appear at work. Some days I’m scheduled to clock in at 6:00 a.m. I’m to be an early bird in the Garden Department, watering plants.

We’ll see how that may go. For example, I’ll have to leave home around 5:30, and that early, leave the dogs unsupervised outside. They will bark as I start my car and drive off. They will bark if deer roam onto the property. And they will bark for other reasons. Thankfully, I’m scheduled early only a couple of days. And I hope not to hear neighbors complaining of early barking.

Such early entry times and associated animal issues could force me to quit my job. That’s not optimal but wouldn’t end my working life. There are other opportunities. I’m always bombarded with news about open positions, some allowing one to work from home. I struggle with the attractive option of working from home, which offers minimal social opportunities.

Preparing to leave home at 5:30 a.m. means feeding my horses at 4:30 a.m. They’d love that! I’m not eager to go to the barn so early but will try to meet the challenge.

There is another option for I’m a part-time worker. My shift will last for four hours; I can clock out at 10:00 a.m. Maybe the horses could wait for attention, and my dogs could stay inside until I’m again home.

I’ll keep weighing the possibilities before that first very early day arrives.

Dear Friends: Otherwise, I love the idea of working mornings from six to ten; it’ll be over and done! Diana

New World

Friday, March 03, 2023

Our new world is the current technological revolution. Alex Murdough’s conviction probably wouldn’t have occurred without available cell phone videos and associated evidence, including his vehicle’s running data. His confessions of massive money thievery and opioid addiction, to fuel his denial of being anywhere near the site of that double murder, failed against technical evidence that dictated otherwise.

This new world confronts us everywhere and always. We are recorded by public and private cameras, our vehicles collect data, and so do our smartphones and watches. Not to mention whatever our laptops and tablets might record.

As to this growing city where for twenty years I’ve lived, the physical changes are evident. Our booming population has newcomers increasingly wealthier and more highly educated. Technology enables many still working to work from home. Their surrounding area invites jogging, bicycle riding, skiing, and more.

The changing population of such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers, has changed what old-timers typically took for granted. Today, on local roads, Teslas and other electric vehicles move too silently to hear them approaching; joggers are accompanied by their designer dogs for which they paid thousands; bicycle riding on trails has become an extreme sport that lacks apologies and politeness.

In my part-time work, I sense these sorts of changes from customers educated and sophisticated. They often tell me about their personal and working lives in pre-retirement cities. Their experiences differ greatly from those of folks I first met here years ago.

Technology, education, and new wealth alter my daily perceptions. My drives to and from work are full of heavy traffic, newly constructed apartment buildings, and multiple-lane serial roundabouts. My horseback riding can’t happen almost anywhere as in the old days. Nowadays, I must find where to take my horses to avoid silent vehicle approaches from behind, and also, numerous bicycle riders who aren’t aware of trail etiquette.

Dear Friends: Forever ahead, new technologies will alter our perceptions and lives. Diana

Fabulous Winners

Thursday, March 02, 2023

The Criterion Channel will be streaming “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” one of my favorite movies this month. It’s getting lots of attention again because its star, Michelle Yeoh, is receiving much attention. She’s in a new movie, and the role is making her an Oscar contender.

I’m no longer interested in who wins an Oscar. But my interest in Yeoh’s work is high.

Yeoh is being interviewed often, and recently by Christianne Amanpour. Yeoh wowed me (and Amanpour) by describing the inspired creativity and required physical effort to perform in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” directed by the brilliant Ang Lee.

While being filmed, she and the other actors performed their own stunts. The movie is physical and, essentially, a ballet featuring hand-to-hand and sword- and knife fighting. In its sequences, combatants fly into the air and onto (and off) buildings without missing a single combatant stroke. The movie is beautiful visually; it’s exciting emotionally.

At work yesterday, a coworker’s cell phone rang. Her ringtone was the theme from “Kill Bill”! Another of my all-time favorites, directed by the outstanding Quintin Tarantino. My coworker and I spoke about the physicality and brilliance of the “Bill” trio. We then shifted to “Crouching Tiger.” That put both films into my mind, and I am eager to watch them again.

I’ll start with the Criterion replay. First, I will check out several recent Michelle Yeoh interviews to learn more about how the movie came to be and was developed. Then, I’ll look for the “Kill Bill” series, which might be available on YouTube.

Dear Friends: As a movie buff and visual, I’m thrilled by brilliant creativity. Diana