Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The question on the farm that has been begged for answer going on a few months now was, where in the heck a short or a fault in the hot wire fencing was. Repeatedly over this time I have studied, repaired, retightened the tape, replaced the controller, and had hoped, I had it fixed. The  next morning my efforts looked to have worked and the fence was untouched, but, then the next morning I would look out to see sagging places in the top strip of electric tape, showing clearly that one certain big brown mare had very little regard for the still inert plastic tape in her way to eating the green stuff on the other side of the fence. That silly mare knew when I had changed something about the fence and was careful not to touch it until her whiskers sniffing the wire told her it would not bite. Once she was sure it really wasn’t on, over the fence she would stretch her long neck pushing both the hot wire, and the mesh wire fencing below that, down.

My once erect wooden fence posts have all been loosened by her pushing the line and she has stepped on and crawled up the woven wire mesh fencing below the hot wire nearly to the point where she could step over the whole thing. When I heard the entire line from here to the barn moan with her leaning over it the other day, my frustration level hit the that point, where it was time to fix it or kill her. If the day saw no other thing done but this, by golly this mare was not going to ruin my fences any further.

My former neighbor, and sadly long gone friend, Col. Morris used to say that a farm needed a face lift about every twenty years. In his long life he solved this by simply moving to a new one every twenty years or so and starting over. We have now lived on this farm twenty years, as of January, and to say this place needs a complete overhaul, from fixing roof leaks, repainting, and general repairs on both the house and barn, is a gross understatement. Those pesky issues could wait but this hot wire issue though, had top priority. There is great truth that “ Good fences make good neighbors”, but also good fences keep horses where they belong, and other critters out. And thus the quest to fix the fence began like every job out here does. It begins with tools, which ones do I need, and where the heck any of them might possibly be. 

My theory had been that the grounding system to the fence was bad. So I jumped in and dug all thirty feet of that up, rewired it with new wire, and plugged the charger back on only to find it still no go. Quite frustrated with this result,  I put on my glasses and began to study the wire carefully from the charger then down the line. I found a huge problem where the current runs via a large wire, under a gate opening, and then up the next post to run the next lines of tape. There it was, at the bottom of the post where the line went downward, a broken wire, and the remaining wire that was still buried under the red packed clay and,  was no where to be seen. 

I got a pick ax out of the tool room and began digging a new trench through this twenty year old, well packed red clay gravel gate opening. Very quickly, I had to wonder my sanity. Here I was, at “my age” out there flailing a heavy steel pick at dirt that was packed harder than well aged concrete, just to keep a silly young horse from single handedly tearing up my farm. “Do I really like horses this much?” I was asking myself as I wheezed and leaned on my pick ax for air. I was not sure.   

I buried the new wire while the big mare stood watching my every move, made the new connections, and turned the charger on. Again no zap. The day was getting longer by the minute but I still kept at it. Eventually I had repaired, fixed, and replaced every variable that I could but my tester kept telling me that a very low current was going out.

I was about to cry, when I heard a very loud POP! I looked to the source of the noise to find my silly big brown mare with a very surprised look on her face. Her upper lip was curled up over her nose and she stomped and kicked in anger at this new situation and the surprise shock she had gotten when she had stuck that pretty little nose on the hot wire. Vengeance, was finally mine.

The fence has not been touched again by that silly big brown mare, and I have a pretty high level of  confidence, that it will stay that way until, the next time. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Box of Mirrors

Back in the days when I was a kid and my mother “dressed” me up to go shopping for clothes, a store that we frequented was a department store called Bronson’s. Bronson’s was situated in the middle of Normandale, the first suburban mall built in our town. Normandale was a very modern open air mail with covered walkways, fountains, courtyards, and green spaces, and lovely shops filled with jewelry, clothes, toys, housewares, and all of the things one could want all within walking range of each other. It was a very “Mad Men” architectural setting of green ceramic tiles and great expanses of glass framed by thin shows of steel supported by large beams and arches of free form concrete. 

The largest of the shops was Loveman’s, the anchor department store that had the most of a bit of everything, and always had a several week long visit from Santa Claus each Christmas. The store had a huge front upstairs window facing the parking lot below, and there for all to watch, Santa would sit in his huge chair and greet each frightened child, hear their wishes as they tried to look past the fake beard to find the truth, smile for the photo, give them a lollipop, and send them on their way back to their adoring parents.

I bought my first make up there. Feeling very grown up, I bought my first boy friend a tiny bottle of Brut cologne there. There was a strategically placed counter of warmed choices of toasted nuts, cashews, peanuts, walnuts and pecans, all right by the escalators where every one had to ride to the second floor and back with the scent of these warmed nuts luring you towards them. If you succumbed to their call, these warm salty goodies were measured out with a small metal scoop and were put in small paper bags to carry around and enjoy while you shopped, or waited on your mom to do so. 

On the other side of the escalator the cabinet of goodies continued with sugary things of all sorts. It was the first place I encountered  cherry flavored spaghetti shaped strands of chewy strings with the consistency of gum drops but these you could eat inch by inch. They came in bundles wound together, a prize to work through for hours.  

In this modern mall, Normandale was host to Mel’s camera shop which was wallpapered with large photos of Ansel Adam’s Yosemite portfolio. Next to Mel’s, or maybe a few stores down was the fancy dress shop that my aunt liked, where models would model the dresses one liked to see, so that a lady could drink her tea and not have to try on a darned thing. Dress chosen, it was put in a lovely box and then carried home. There was a hardware shop further down with shovels, nails, and parts to fix this and that. Other shops included Zales, the jewelry store, The Record Store, which sold vinyl records and appliances, Woolworth's, a discount dime store, Toy Land, my favorite,   and many others that stayed for decades and others that came and went as retail tends to do.

Normandale’s being built was a beginning of the end of the urban retail, with its convenience and glamour, and it sparked the unleash-able, leap frog, suburban crawl of new modern neighborhoods with strip centers and other newer malls. Gradually the shops all followed these newer malls and Normandale was abandoned. It now stands as a sad symbol of changes that happen as fads rise, and then they fall. Loveman’s huge glass windows are broken and Santa no longer comes to visit. Bronson’s changed its name and moved to a fancy place out east and call themselves “The Name Dropper”. Normandale is a ghost world now of faded glory and only its memories remain alive.

But back to Bronson’s, back to when Normandale, and life in general, was in its glory days. 

There was a display case in Bronson’s, on the left side of the store as one entered, built of dark polished wood with a shadow box type opening on the top and drawers below. The shadow box was lit from inside and was fully lined with mirrors. When I stuck my head into the opening and looked to the right I saw an infinite number of my faces reflected there, and also a bit of the opposing reflection of the back of my head from the mirror on the other end. If I turned to the left, this infinite reflection was the same and try as I might I could never count how many of these repeating reflections there were.  My head, reflected there, always remained in the way of my seeing them all. It was a fascinating thing to me and I can still recall my amazement at this box of endless mirrors, having spent many of my mother’s shopping hours with my head stuck inside this infinity puzzle box. 

The magic and mystery of shopping, that surrounded this place called Normandale, back in the days of my child hood, was tied and linked to this amazing box of mirrors, and the visual memory of the box is as real to me now as it was then. It’s mystery provoked me to think in ways that had not occurred to me at that time, about infinity,  and also about perspective.  I could only see the magic of the box when I put my head in to see it, and I wondered what it did when I didn’t. Did the mirrors continue their magic without me?

When I began to think about things as a kid, I realized at one point being amazed to learn that my parents were once kids, and their grand parents too. I  thought that time simply began with my birth, and that all of the players in my life began then too. Myopia has its down falls and revelations and it was shocking to find that my birth did not start time.

Now I have begun to see my life from the present, to the days of my youth, and all of the events that passed before I was even here, each as single reflections in that box of mirrors, all lining up and all heading away from now, back into the infinity that came before me. I look the other way and see fuzzy glimpses of the future and see that they too line up as single reflections of possible days that will happen with infinity into that which hasn’t happened, yet. It is from my perspective that this time line runs, equally running in both directions. I am just in the middle of the magic box of mirrors, observing.

ps.  Happily, on Tuesday, this week, in the very early hours of the morning, our second grand daughter, Marilyn, was born, adding yet another happy and wonderful event to the time line we call our life.  She is a tiny and beautiful, and we all look forward to being a part of her journey from here.