The year 2008 was really a bummer


Let’s just come right out and say it: 2008 was a bummer.

Actually, that is one of the kindest things one might say about the not-so-dear departed year.

The welcome to 2009 is bound to be more subdued than usual.

The state of the world, the state of the economy, the state of just about everything else is so grim that jumping around yelling “Happy New Year” would be a non sequitur because who knows how “happy” the year will be.

All is not lost

But all is not lost. Even though Al Gore is almost convincing us that The End is Nigh, weather-wise, take heart that the sun does come up (even if we don’t see it) and the cycle of the seasons will surely keep on rolling.

Granted, there may be some changes. If you watch the weather forecasts on television, note some of the outlandish highs and lows decades ago.

Perhaps we were threatened even then but didn’t have the sense to know it. And we are still here.

St. Jude’s

Enough of that. Jot down this address which will benefit you as well as the children of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005.

Those of us who can’t bear to shred all those great cards received not only for Christmas but dozens of other events, now have a way to avoid that and have them be of benefit. (This information from Heloise.)

Send only the fronts with no writing on them. They are then trimmed to fit 5-by-7-inch card back and are attached to a new blank card.

The recycled cards are then sold, with all proceeds going directly back to the abused, abandoned and neglected children at the three ranches.

Some local organizations will take them, but they are getting increasingly harder to find. Your library might be able to help you find them.

* * *

Tractors for camels

Speaking of camels, did you know — great dinner table conversation — that with the high price of fuel, farmers in India are increasingly trading in their tractors for another type of transportation: camels.

The lanky long-legged animals require little care and can survive hot arid conditions.

So instead of killing them for their meat, bones or hides, the camels are put to work for a variety of tasks.

And their milk is used to make a traditionally popular ice cream.

Thank Audubon magazine for this nugget.

* * *

Pets at the holidays

Pets in the house at holiday time usually manage to add to the chaos, one way or another.

A friend received a letter from the owner of an extremely precocious Pomeranian, who wrote the puppy “had already destroyed one Wiseman, one sheep and the Baby Jesus.”

And in my Christmas farm, there is one celluloid cow with a deformed face, making her look terribly ferocious!

I don’t remember which of my many wonderful Dalmatians over the years managed that.

* * *

Sunflower seeds

Do you remember the gorgeous field of sunflowers I wrote about in August?

Well, the field was harvested for the black oil seed, but whatever machine is used for the task invariably misses a lot and the field provided a free buffet for birds.

Judy and Roy, who live next to the field, had permission to gather some of the leavings, and filled two huge trashbags which they brought to me.

It took a day or so for my birds to discover the treat — each morning I’d put out maybe four or five heads — but when they did, it was a wonder to behold.

Even a chipmunk nearly foundered himself, and managed to drag a head where he could dine in private.

Red squirrels

All was well, until one day a red squirrel found the bounty.

One red squirrel was manageable — I’m all in favor of hospitality — but when there were three and Winnie was running around in the barn with her nose in the air to tell me there were invaders inside, it was time to act.

I set my humane trap and systematically removed them, one by one.

Or so I thought! A day might go by without a sighting and I’d smile at my success. The next day, one would be on the window feeder, looking in at me.

I continued to trap, even resorting to the red nail polish trick so I could see if the invader was returning from his relocation.

Finally, the siege was over, there were no more red squirrels, and I called Randy Jones to come and get the goodies for his birds.

He has much more acreage than I do, and could put the seed far from the house.

Eventually, all the blackbirds in Columbiana County descended on the stripped field, and left not a morsel for anyone else!

* * *

Thank you

At this moment, on Dec. 19, I want to thank every one of my faithful readers for sending such beautiful cards and personal greetings.

My cards have finally been mailed, the mantel is decorated and the tree is up — up, mind you, but not trimmed.

This was to be that day, but when I discovered Dec. 23 was the deadline for this column, plans were changed!

Hopefully by the coming weekend, all will be calm, all will be bright and another Christmas will soon have come and gone.

Happy New Year!

In spite of all the dark clouds, I do wish you a Happy New Year!

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