Joey’s World – Chapter One

Joey – otherwise know as, well there are several names

Joey came to us through Abby.

I remember well that day, now almost ten years ago, when I first spotted Abby. I was driving home from work. It was late September. A Siamese cat ran across the road in front of me, disappearing into the woods. We would often run across a black cat with white feet in the neighborhood, but never a Siamese, or what I call a “Gourmet” cat. I told Harold that I had seen a Siamese loose in the woods when I got home.

At that time, my two daughters were still in high school. My husband and I drove the younger daughter back to school that night for a football game. She rushed out of the house with her supper, and ate in the car on the way to the game. We dropped her off and returned later to pick her up and return home.

As we passed the area where I had seen the Siamese, we spotted a cat crouched in the drainage ditch. Harold was driving. I asked him to stop the car. My daughter opened her door. We did not even have to call the cat. She sprang for the car door without hesitation, glad to leave the woods behind. She raced across the back seat to my daughter’s leftover supper. She latched onto the pork chop bone, growling and chewing with great delight.

Abby

This was how Abby came to live with us. We already had three cats, two Siamese and a Himalayan. We made room for what we thought would be one more Gourmet. But Abby had another surprise for us. She blessed us with four kittens on Valentine’s Day.

Now we had eight cats! Four Gourmets, and four non. Yup. It turned out that Abby also ran into the black cat with white feet. Two kittens were pure black, one was an orange tiger, and the other was black with white feet, just like his daddy.

Unfortunately, we could not keep them all. We felt that Abby belonged in a one-cat household. She was too strong a personality for our other Gourmets. A very nice woman with no pets adopted Abby.

We decided to keep two of the kittens.

Joey and his brother Bear

Kittens are so adorable. How would we pick just two? We finally decided to keep one black kitten and the black and white. A retired doctor and his wife adopted the orange kitten into their family. The black kittens looked identical, except that one black kitten followed me around. I wanted to keep that kitten. My niece offered to adopt the other.

I worried that I might give the wrong black kitten away. I had the brilliant idea that I would trim a patch of hair on my kitten’s right side so I would know it was him. My niece arrived. The cats were running around. The kittens were running around. I grabbed one black kitten. I could not tell if it had a patch of hair gone. I grabbed the other kitten. That one looked the same. They were so frightened by all the noise, neither black kitten was bonding with me. My niece left with one of the black kittens.

In the weeks that followed, I watched the black kitten we kept. It did not follow me around. Did I give my kitten away? I visited my niece. Nope, her kitten was having nothing to do with me, either.

So much for my great idea! Which kitten was which?

The best laid plans of mice and men. . . .

That was a number of years ago. The black kitten we kept, Joey, has grown into a strong personality, a lot like his mom. He bonded with my younger daughter until she moved away. Now he will sit in my lap, but always on his terms.

Did I end up with my black kitten?

A couple years ago, Joey developed a white patch of hair on his right side — where I had cut a patch on my kitten all those years ago. Joey, the chosen one.

(Chapter One in the Ongoing Saga of Joey)

Week In Review – 10/30/11

This has been a pretty good week, with a couple of stressful periods that were resolved very positively.

My favorite photo from the week – Nature

We have gone from being a 3 car family to 2, which should reduce our expenditures a great deal and help our budget in the long run.  I was sad to see the Baja go, but it was time and will be a great vehicle for the person who bought it.

We got the yard buttoned up and ready for winter, which came with a vengeance on Sunday. The so-called October 2011 Blizzard dumped somewhere between 10-12 inches of wet, heavy, sticky snow.  Which along with the strong gusty winds resulted in us loosing power twice over the past 24 hours.

Not having power was a pain in the ass, but not really a big deal. We were warm, had plenty of food, during the short period of power this afternoon, we did water management and it was just something that needed to be gotten through.  That is why this post is a little late tonight, we got power back around 8:30 P.M.

I have really bumped up my use of Google+ and find the more that I use it the more that I like it.  However, I am not crazy about the attitudes of some of the “early adopters” and what their vision of what g+ should be.  Time will tell, if g+ remains a geek haven or if it is adopted by the general public who use the Internet.

These are the posts for this week:

  1. The Troll Beneath the Bridge
  2. Cold Weather is Coming – The Mice Say So
  3. Look at Noise as an Opportunity on Google+
  4. Wordless Wednesday – 10/26/11
  5. The Garden and Yard are Buttoned up for Winter
  6. Google Plus – My Circle Management System
  7. Opening Day of Hunting Season
  8. October 2011 – Blizzard Pictures from Maine

Below are the posts that received the most pageviews over the course of the last week.

  1. Evernote as a Task Manager
  2. Look at Noise as an Opportunity on Google+
  3. Opus Domini – Electronic Organizer Review
  4. The Garden and Yard are Buttoned up for Winter
  5. Cold Weather is Coming – The Mice Say So

It is nice to see that some of the newer posts are starting to get into the week’s top 5, but since the 28th, none of the posts that we have published show much in the way of stats showing them having been viewed, even though people are commenting on them here and on g+, so something might be wrong with Blogger’s stats.

I don’t know, but something is going on.

So overall it was a pretty decent week and now that power is back on, it is even better.  Now I just have to get a handle on my g+ circles and not be having over 2,000 people in my stream.  That is something that I will take care of this week – trying to get it down to around 300 people.  That should be enough to have quality conversations, while maintaining enough variety to not get bogged down into one interest group.

October 2011 – Blizzard Pictures from Maine

I thought that this was very fitting – Nature

The October 2011 Blizzard is over, the sun is now shining.

We have power back (thank you so much CMP), we lost it this morning around 2:00 A.M. and got it back around 11:15 A.M.  It was not for a very long time, but it was a good reminder of a couple of things that I need to be better prepared to do.

For the most part we slept through everything but the start, when I tried to be romantic and get TheWife to go for a walk in the snow – just like it did on the night we met. Wasn’t the same, that night back in 2000 was a nice gentle snow that was romantic, last night was a blizzard, so it wasn’t all that romantic, but I tried.

The cleanup was tough though, the heavy wet snow is more like a late March snow and we call it heart attack snow, because of the number of people who have heart attacks while shoveling.  The worst part of this storm for me was cleaning the roofs off, with the roof rake, my shoulders ache pretty bad and it was definitely a workout.

Here are pictures of the aftermath.

The apple tree all bent over, had to go out and shake the branches off before they started breaking
Looking down the driveway
Snowplow going by while walking Bennie
Looking up the driveway, TheWife already out shoveling the steps, while I was walking Bennie – Boy am I lucky!
After the first pass of the snowblower
The driveway is done
The clothesline, it looks like something trying to crawl up the pole – just more snow
Garage roof after roof raking
Grape vine
What I couldn’t reach on the garage roof

No the storm wasn’t really all that bad, it was more of an inconvenience for us. We have been using the wood stove most of the time anyway, so we had heat. The biggest thing that I forgot to do is to have our emergency water supply ready, which if the power was out for a long time would have been a bit of a pain, but we have plenty of snow to melt for water.  So it wouldn’t have been a crisis situation for a while.

The biggest thing was snow blowing the drive and the rocks it was throwing around – no our driveway is not tar and in all likelihood never will be.

I hope that the electric companies get power back on quickly for the people who still don’t have it and are not really ready for life without power for any extended time.  Maybe this and Irene will be a wake-up call for them to look to see what they can do differently and to become more self-reliant in emergency situations, when they may not have power for extended periods of time.

Somehow I don’t think it will, and these are the people who will bitch the most at the power companies to get the power back on.  After all it is their right to always have power {heavy sarcasm there}.  Might be something people want to think about as our infrastructure continues to age and this happens more often.

Hell we even read real books this morning – yes we can survive without technology, but it does make life a lot nicer and a heck of a lot easier and no I wouldn’t want to go back to living without electricity full-time.

Opening Day of Hunting Season

It is opening day, if I remember right.

Up heah Opening Day is a big deal – oh wait what is Opening Day? Why it is the first day of deer season opens for gun hunters today.

The neighbors and family have been sighting in their rifles, patterning the buckshot from their shotguns and putting out stands in the areas they know hope the deer will be.

Family Tradition

I grew up hunting, just about my entire family hunts every year, TheWife doesn’t care if I hunt, I am a Life member of the North American Hunting Club (have been one for 20 years) and hunted most of my adult life.  How come after all that, why am I not out chasing Bambi’s mom and dad around the woods with my 45/70 in my hands today?

To be honest, I really don’t know.

I guess the passion for the “hunt” and kill doesn’t excite me, like it used to.

Killing a deer doesn’t bother me (I enjoy a nice piece of venison cooked up in butter, in a cast iron skillet as much or more than anyone) and I certainly am not anti-hunting, but it seems as though I am moving in a different direction.  I have gotten so that I prefer to shot my quarry with a camera rather than a gun or a bow.

This Morning

This morning while walking Bennie, I saw 4 deer walking across the road by the big field and chuckled.

Karma I guess, I never saw a deer on opening day in my life and today carrying my camera I saw a total of four.  Even though I would never take this shot with a gun, because it wasn’t safe and it is on a road (therefore illegal), but it was a nice image, they were not in any particular hurry and made for a nice memory that I captured with my camera (I just wish I had a better camera).

Yes it is Posted

Last week, we had some hunters stop out on the side of the road just down from the house and look at our property. TheWife heard them say “They have posted it.” The other one said “its only posted, it doesn’t say anything about no hunting, we can still hunt here”.  They left before I could get out there and clarify what posted means.

So I went out and re-positioned the posted signs to be more obvious and yes Posted means no hunting as well – without our permission.

It saddens me that some hunters choose to have this attitude toward landowners who post their property, but I believe that my intent is pretty clear. Unless hunters have our permission, we don’t want unknown hunters on our property.  There are now too many houses around and unless you know where you are, the chances of hitting one with a missed shot are too great.  No we prefer to know who is hunting on our property and yes we have given a few people permission to hunt here, but we know who they are.

Inconvenience

For many who have chosen not to hunt, but still like being outdoors, hunting season has become an inconvenience.  Hiking or long walks in the woods are not advisable, unless you are geared up in fluorescent orange (which we will wear most of the time outdoors for the next month).  Then hunters get pissed if you are traipsing around where they have a stand, after all you have the woods the rest of the year and they only have a relatively small window to get their deer – right?

Not really, but that is the attitude that many hunters do have – I know I used to have that same attitude.

The reality is that

lot of people who are not hunters choose to not go in the woods during hunting season for many reasons – safety being first and foremost. Which is unfortunate, because hunters and others who use the woods need to learn to co-exist and not be obnoxious to each other – a little respect for each other goes a long way, even if you don’t agree with what the other is doing.

Finally

Will I ever hunt again?  Yes I am pretty sure that I will, I like the taste of venison too much.  However, will I ever have the passion for the hunt that I used to – no I don’t think so. Hunting to me has become something that I will do to harvest meat for the freezer or table.  More of a utilitarian task, than something that I want to do for pleasure.  It will be interesting how I approach hunting again, when I decide it is time to carry a bow or a gun in the woods.

What do you think?

Google Plus – My Circle Management System

I have been focusing a lot of my time over at Google+ lately, trying to figure out the best way to use it and find interesting people there. I am still getting used to the “unwritten” rules of the road that have evolved since Google+ was opened for Public Beta testing back in May and probably have accidentally stepped across a few of those rules more than once.

It seems that a few of the early adopters are getting a bit snippy with the newcomers who are flooding their streams with more noise, as I discussed in my post on Look at Noise as an Opportunity on Google+.  At first some of those attitudes bothered me, nowI just kind of chuckle, when I read those responses in people’s streams about “this isn’t how we do it here on g+.

Just think for a minute about what they are attempting to do, when they make those statements…

Well it’s about time to get to the real point of this post:
CirclesOne of the things that is different in Google+ from other social media sites that I have used is that Google+ uses Circles to manage who sees what you post and that you can publicly share those circles.I got the idea for this blog post from a Google+ post that I wrote a couple of days ago about how to manage your circles and some of what I wrote then is already outdated and needed to be updated to what I am doing now. That is how fast you can grow your knowledge of g+, which requires you to then re-think how you do something there.
Circle ManagementCircles Management can be a pain in the ass, until you figure out how you want to use them, especially if you are new to to using g+ and starting to follow a lot of people all at once – like I recently have done going from under 200 to over 1600.Yesterday I found a link to a Google Doc Spreadsheet that has published Shared Circles by category and decided to add some of those Circles in categories that interest me, to my Temporary Circle (more on that in a minute).
Adding all of these Circles and people has really screwed up my follower/following ratio to the point where I felt the need to do a g+ post explaining to everyone that I am not a spammer – which I am not.
As a result of finding that spreadsheet of Shared Circles, I had to redo my Circles yet again, but now my Circle organization system is starting to make some sense to me and I actually have a system in place.
Circle NamesTemporary – Where I put new people to see if we actually have common interests, this circle will always get my updates/posts to see who is interested in what I have to say and then move to a different circle or be deleted. Every couple of months I will probably go through this circle and remove those who no longer seem to be active or for other reasons.

Post Temporary – If someone follows me back or comments on one of my g+ posts I put them in this Circle from the Temporary Circle and see if we continue to have conversations before putting them into an Interest Group Circle. This circle will also get all of my posts to g+.

Basically I have a two stages before I put people into more permanent Circles.  Cumbersome and a little labor intensive, but six months from now when I want to see who I want to continue to follow, so that the quality of my conversations are better, it will pay big dividends.

Inbox – These are family friends, people that I have met face-to-face or have been talking with for long periods of time on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.  There just are not enough of my friends and family on g+ yet to have a separate circle for them yet.  Usually I have had many conversations with people in this Circle and hopefully they might be interested in what I have to say – will usually get my updates.

Following – Those who are famous or well-known, who really could give a rats-ass about me or what I say :-). I plan to send all my updates to this Circle, you never know when someone might think that I have a great idea or post and comment on it. You notice it isn’t very big and probably never will be, I am not someone to suck-up to the more popular ones amongst us.  However, I believe it is good to do, you never know if one of these more popular people might steer traffic to your site by accident. ;-).

Read – This is a Circle that I like to read what these people post, but have not had many two-way conversations with them. I will not usually send updates to this Circle, because most people in this circle will be in Interest Group circles too, but it will get a few blog links from time to time.

Interest Groups – will get updates based on content

  • Gardening
  • Education
  • Running

Todo – Posts that I want to comment on later or something that I want to do here on g+.

As I figure out my interests and find more like minded people my interest Circles will grow.  I can see adding photography (absolute beginner, but love it), blogging, hiking/walking, boomers, retirement, simple living and possibly a few more. The best thing is that the Circles give me plenty of flexibility to change things as I or the people I follow change.

The reality is  that

Circles are a great system to grow your interests and target who you want to address a post to, but until you get a handle on how you want to manage your circles, it is a learning process.  I know I have made a lot of changes from how I originally envisioned using them when I started here back in June.Originally I thought it would be better to have a more granular approach to how I used Circles I, now I am heading in the direction of less is more when it come to how many Circles I have.
Finally

The best part about g+ is that if someone doesn’t want to look at what I have to say, they can either ignore or block me and I have the same option to those who follow me.  So if I am following you on g+ and you are not interested in what I have to say or how I am using g+,  you have those two options and I will not be hurt if you do so.
After all g+ is about making this “your” social media hub, not what someone else thinks it should be.How about you, how do you manage your circles, any good tips for me to improve my system?

The Garden and Yard are Buttoned up for Winter

Today was predicted to be first snow, however it now looks as though it will stay to the south of us, but it is still pretty raw outside.  This meant that most of the week has been spent preparing the yard and all growing things for the colder weather to come.

The gardens are completely buttoned up, anything else that needs to be done, can now wait until next spring.

Main Garden
Spring Garden with the Cold Fram in front of it

Speaking of the cold frame we are starting to eat our daily salads from it. It was a great idea that I got from the #gardenchat crew back in August, which is working out quite well.

Cold fram and our daily salad patch.

This is the one thing that I will be sorry to see end in a few weeks, but once it starts getting into the twenties or lower on a regular basis, I don’t see these plants continuing to thrive.

Our garlic bed is doing fantastic and yesterday we put the shavings over it, to add protection (it is our first time planting garlic and we are looking forward to seeing how this experiment turns out.

Mary has always put bags of leaves around the bottom of the grape vines and each the grape vines seem to do better, so it seems to help.

Grape vine after haircut and prepped for winter
Smaller grape vine that finally is starting to take hold prepped for winter

Yes we were even able to move the compost bin to its winter placement.  No for those of you who follow me on Twitter, there was no yellow jacket nest at the bottom of the compost when I moved it. The day before, there were too damn many of the little beasties to finish moving the compost bin and putting stuff in our second stage, without tempting fate and having them use their other ends on me.

Compost bin

All the lawn ornaments have been taken in, the hose is wrapped, bird bath emptied and put in back of the garage, all that is left for outside chores is to decide if it is too late to prune the apple tree or wait for spring to do it.

We even cleaned and moved stuff around in the garage, so that we can now park the vehicles inside it.

There is room in the garages now
The empty yard

No the yard has a barren and forlorn look to it now, it certainly is not that vibrant and alive look that we had this summer.  I am looking forward to my first winter of my semi-retirement and not having to brave the elements to get to work on a daily basis and being able to enjoy the outdoors during the winter.  At the same time, I will miss this:

It is time to look forward to and think about how and what we will plant next year and what changes we have in store for both the garden and the yard.

However, now is time to get out the colder weather gear and wait for first snow.

Look at Noise as an Opportunity on Google+

On Google+ a lot of people are talking about “noise” control or that they are getting too many posts or “stuff” in their feeds, since the shared circles have come out and Google+ was opened up to everyone.  Why are so many complaining about the noise, when we should be viewing this opening up of Google+ as an opportunity to go beyond your normal comfort zone of people that you usually associate with?

It sounds a lot like early invitees were starting to get comfortable with their circles and what they expected to see in their streams and these new changes have disrupted this comfort level that many of them had.  Is there some unnecessary noise of course, especially as new users attempt to navigate their way around in Google+ and we use the share Circles function to discover people to follow that we didn’t know about.

Yes there will be what is being called “noise”, but is it all bad?

Remember you pretty much control who and what you see on Google+ and can quickly get rid of those that you no longer wish to follow or follow you – unless you like the numbers, to message your ego or enable you to get your posts or pictures out to more people. Numbers are a completely different issue, but having too many followers or following too many does contribute to potential “noise”.

You do not have to follow back

Just because you follow me, does not mean that I will automatically follow you and I do not expect you to automatically follow me if I follow you.  That just is not reality and no I don’t take it personally if you do not follow me back.

I believe that without the flexibility to add and delete people from our Circles as WE want to and not feel the need to keep or artificial karma (follow-back) those in our Circles who we no longer want there, our streams become bloated and the quality of the conversations we actually want to be involved with are reduced considerably.

It is our choice who we follow – no one else.  Over the course of the next few months I imagine that I will be cleaning out the number of people I follow considerably.
It is a privilege to meet new people

The initial onslaught of new people in Circles, (especially shared Circles), is still going on, and is going to happen for at least the next 3-6 months, where I have the opportunity and privilege of electronically meeting many more people than I would have otherwise in other social media platforms.

Yes I do consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.  Which means that I have the opportunity to tune-out those I no longer wish to learn more about or from.

Cut through the wheat or the chaff

At present there is no easy way when you bulk add a Circle, to go through and cut the chaff from the wheat, you will have to pick out the chaff manually as you find them.  How many of those you thought originally were going to be chaff, when you took a good look at what they were actually doing, you found or will find that they have a lot of reasons to keep them after all. That to me is part of the excitement of starting over in a new social media environment, finding those hidden gems that you wouldn’t have in your feed otherwise.

Yes you have a weeding out process that you have to go through, which can be a pain in the butt, especially for hundreds of new followers or people you are following and it just feels more compressed now than it will in a few months or on other more mature social media platforms.

My rules for following

I commented on a post by +Tim Kerr about before I wrote this post and basically said that I am going to use some of the same rules for following people on Google+ that I have for Twitter which are:

1.  Look at their profile
2.  Look at their most recent posts/pictures to see if their perspectives are something that I want to read or view on an ongoing basis.
3.  Is the topic they write about – primarily, one that I am interested in?
4.  Am I following this person on Twitter?  Have I seen their name/handle on social media sites before or participated in #chats with them.  Do I have any personal knowledge about this person?
5.  How long have they been on the social media site?
6.  Are they using a pseudonym?  My requirements for following a pseudonym are tougher than for someone who uses their “real” name, my rules my preference.  Do they say why they are using the pseudonym?
7.  If I haven’t made my mind up by this time and the person continues to intrigue me I put them in a Temporary Circle where I put people I am not sure about, before I put them into one of my regular circles.  In fact I have a feeling that I will start putting any shared circle into my Temporary Circle

Then I include all of my posts to the temp circle and see who comments back or +1 my posts.  This is a good way to see who is interested in conversations with you from that circle.

Actually this decision process only takes a couple of minutes, but if you have hundreds of people to make determinations about it will take time.

The reality is that

over the course of the next few months I foresee a lot of fluidity in those who I follow or delete from my Circles.  It is my choice on who and why I follow anyone on any social media platform.  I also expect the same from those who follow me and expect my number of those who follow me will go up and down for quite a while, at least until Google+ matures and people decide what they want from Google+ and what communities they will participate in.

That is the beauty of the Google+ platform you are in charge of what you see or read or share with others.  This ability will become even more important as Google opens up to businesses and those with pseudonyms and spam becomes more of a problem – which it will.  That being said, I am enjoying being taken out of my comfort zone by all the “noise” in my stream, I am being introduced to people that I never would have found or followed in the past, because I didn’t know they existed.

Take a moment and think of what many are seeing as “noise” instead as an opportunity and maybe your perspective about the “noise” will change.  Just take a minute to see the many opportunities being given to meet new and interesting people, instead of it just being more “noise”. It is up to you on Google+.

Cold Weather is Coming – The Mice Say So

Well this morning settled that, it makes the third day in a row we have had a mouse in our cube trap.  Up heah that is a pretty good sign that the word that a lot of us have avoided using in polite conversations, yes that dreaded word – Winter.

Every year one of the “joys of living in the country” is that just before winter sets in, we start to get a bunch of uninvited guests/critters who attempt to move in with us – mainly your garden variety field mouse.

Here are our beasts of prey – “they are fast, but lazy” – Jethro Tull, Bungle In the Jungle

Joey alias Nimbus – The Alpha Male cat
Bobbie – the Grand Dam at 16
Domino – alias DumDum you got GumGum
Hurricane Isabelle

We don’t want mice around for sanitary and other reasons, so we have the cats, who usually take care of the unwelcome guests that decide to come out and play.

Hopefully our indoor critters discourage many of the extra visitors from staying too long, but there always seem to be a certain number of “brave” or should we say stupid ones that still want to live here too. Yes the cats are rather slothful, until the opportunity comes around to “play” with a mouse, then they all want to get in on the action.  Even our ADHD (on crack) Jack Russell Terrier wants to get in on the fun and action – imagine that.

The Three Musketerrs

That is why in a house with no children, we have childproofed the cabinet doors, otherwise we get to clean up the mess and carcass of a dead mouse or try to pull a cat out from under the sink, where the mice come in – lots of fun.

We have to do that every so often anyway, especially when an extremely dumb mouse comes around while we are sleeping, the cats do what cats are supposed to do.

We keep a cube live trap baited pretty much year round to get rid of the occasional trespasser, part of that living in country thing, but really gear up from September to March (sometimes setting 2 traps and having to guests in the morning).

When one decides to investigate the trap and is stuck inside, we put the mouse relocation project into affect.

Mouse in live capture cube i.e. the Mouse Hotel

About a half-mile up the road is an old abandoned farm house, that has started to fall in over the past couple of years and is surrounded by honeysuckle.  An ideal new home for our unwanted guests.

Yes there is actually an old house in there, it was still standing when I first moved here 10 years ago.

Bennie has learned what comes out of the cube and is insufferable whenever he sees the mouse cube, jumping around, it has gotten so bad that he won’t go on his morning walk, unless we check the mouse hotel – first.

Then — if there is a mouse Bennie bounces around, prances on his back feet and makes a general nuisance of himself, until I put the “hotel” in my pocket, then he goes by the door and waits (all a twitch).  When we do the release part of the operation, he tries every way he can to get at the mouse, of course I have him on short leash and do the release with the other hand.

He is really excited by then and wants to go into the Honeysuckle to get the mouse.  A command to sit, will bring him back around (after a couple of times) and then he is satisfied that the trespasser is scared enough to not come back to his his house, he trots off.

When we have mice three days in a row, it is our sign that cold weather is on its way, irregardless of what the weathermen say, nature has different signals that go beyond technology to tell her critters to get ready, I coming.

So a word to the wise from the mice, it is time to start really getting ready for colder weather.