Friday, January 12, 2018

Snowscapes and Such

The Snow Storm

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,

Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,

Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air

Hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,

And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.

The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delated, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hiddden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

Well, the snow did arrive yesterday, after all, but not on time and not to the degree that had been predicted. 

Flakes were falling as I drove from Selle to Farmin-Stidwell, and they continued to fall throughout the spelling bee. 

In between classes (third through sixth graders), we would look through the opening in the window shades and agree that the snow did not seem too bad.

The best part:  no postponing the spelling bee, which has happened in past years.  

A few parents came to watch, and it was easy to tell by their facial expressions that their kids were either spelling stars or their kids were heart-broken.

While some rules are hardly rigid---no need to capitalize or indicate punctuation---others would be considered Draconian for any spelling-bee victim who had suffered the consequences, and, of course, who would be familiar with the word "Draconian." 

Once a contestant begins spelling a word, the letters uttered must remain the same, even if the student asks if it's okay to start again.  

So, if that first spelling start includes a mistake, the mistake must stay with the full spelling. 

Many students were eliminated because of this rule.  I can understand the motivation behind it----think before you open your mouth (which seems to be a difficult challenge for some well-known adults in high places). 

I would also argue that we all make mistakes, and if we catch those mistakes and correct them, the end result is usually good for all concerned. 

As the pronouncer of the words, I establish eye contact with each student until the actual spelling of the word begins.  That's when I know to look down because it breaks my heart when a youngster makes a mistake and is eliminated.  

The heart-wrenching often continues after the student is eliminated, and that's when I really don't want to establish eye contact because I feel SO bad for the disappointed student. 

So, it's an emotional experience, probably because we've all been there before, and we know personally the disappointment that comes with wanting to succeed and do so well, only to have bureaucratic tangles get in our way.

My sister Laurie and I enjoyed some mutual amusement when one winning contestant secured first place by spelling a word with which we are both very familiar:  m-a-n-u-r-e. 

By the time we left the school, the snow and wind had picked up a bit.  I came home to a warm house because Bill had stayed home most of the morning to hang out with the dogs.  

No, our doggies are not spoiled!

Later, I went to my sisters' to administer some antibiotic to CB, who has been dealing with the sniffles and a cough. Not fun having him blow his nose on you when it's all white snot. 

That's pretty much gone away, but he'll get the antibiotic until it's gone. 

Administering this medicine is a full-fledged operation, which included a large syringe, slathered with vegetable oil, a funnel, a bottle of maple syrup, the powdered medicine and a whole lot of chemistry-class concocting. 

The tip of the syringe must be cut off to allow room for the medicine in the tube.  Barbara provided me a funnel for pouring in the powdery stuff and then a small, thin stick to tamp it in. 

One must be careful with this process because the powder tends to find other places beside the syringe.  

In the time I've done this daily operation, a black cat rubbing at my legs received a layer of white powder on its back, I have dropped an entire tube of powder, and my green vest has turned white a couple of times.  

Pretty fluffy, errant stuff, to say the least. 

Once the powder is in the greasy syringe (that's so it will slide easier, which it sometimes does not), we pour about a tablespoon of syrup on top of the powder. 

Then, it's stir and stir and stir and stir.  This is always a good time for visiting because the stirring operation takes a minimum of ten minutes.

Finally, I head off to the other end of the arena to CB and Arty's stall.  With his halter on and Arty eating my pony tail, I attempt to hit the mark on his tiny little mouth with that syringe. 

CB is an agile little guy, and that mouth can move all over creation. Sometimes, just when I think I've hit pay dirt, the syringe drops from my hand and lands in the dirt on the stall floor. 

It's a messy job at best, but so far I've managed to get about 90 percent of the medicine in CB's mouth.  He DOES like the taste of it and gobbles it right up.  Just does not like my method of administering his meds. 

The other ten percent usually sticks to his whiskers or ends up on Arty or the wall. It's an understatement to say that  I do a lot of clean-up---on CB, the stall and me---after this nursing.

Though the stuff is sticky and messy, it still beats that white snot. 

After finishing my medical duties yesterday, I just drove around the neighborhood, taking pictures in rather low visibility. 

Then, it was back to the warmth of the house for some projects and to be horrified once more by what I was hearing on the news. 

Thank goodness for the ZAGS, who help us through wintry days and disturbing events in our world. 

Twas another fun game.  During the blow-outs, I love to watch and cheer for the individual players.  Last night, the gym went nuts when the young man who has served as team manager, sank a basket for his first two points as a ZAGS player.  

Pretty neat stuff. 

Today, we still have snowflakes falling, but it looks like light and fluffy stuff which might be downright pretty as when the clouds lift and the sun comes out. 

Happy Friday.

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