Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays to all.

A very special Christmas photo, featuring Granddaughter Violet and older daughter MamaDog playing SantaMom. Love to all!

Little Pond

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009

May we keep them, please?

Wandering with Ellie Saturday. She's been a bad girl, and must now stay on leash, at least until she learns to come, stop, stay, et cetera, all over again.

So she was pulling me merrily along the bike trail on Foster Island, when she stopped and refused to lead. I tossed her back in front and told her to go ahead.

Yup, that's a real command. I need her to be able to lead: to pull, actually. She reluctantly began to move slowly along the shoreline, with me tottering among the skinny trees and slippery leaves.

I was dumbfounded when I first saw it:
Ellie stopped directly on command and waited.
Girl, do you see that? Let's go in for a closeup:
We swung around the windfall mess that clogs the "pond." Sure enough, there is no mistaking a beaver lodge. And the chews, fallen trees and even scat all around would attest to the size of a beaver, not just a cute little muskrat.
Will the Water Board or Department of Environmental Conservation allow them to stay?
My camera will be loaded and ready for my first beaver in the wild shot from now on!
Little Pond

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Unexpected bonus

...of being willing to walk the frosty wet river bank after the snow. Naturally I bundled Ellie in a sweater and scarf, while I wore my winter walking coat and heavy headband.

Freezing temps prevented me from taking many shots, but when I saw this beauty, I forgot the cold and zoomed in for a photo. A pileated woodpecker.

This bird is half the size of Ellie. About two feet tall. Completely untouched photo. Double click to blow it up. We never got closer then about the full length of a football field.
Very gratifying.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall back this weekend.

Tonight we will set back the clocks to gain an extra few weeks of sunlight in the morning. Sounds good to me; I am tired of waking up to the bleak blackness.

Good news! We expect to be completely laid off this summer. I am more than ready; the commute is killing me. Gannett will move us to our temporary quarters in November.

Frankly, I don't care where we work. Just let's get it over with. It's been a miserable half year. We have adjusted, but don't like it any better than before.

I want out, and I'm getting out in another ten months.

Enough said.

Little Pond

Monday, October 12, 2009

I miss my blogs.

We are just about seven months into my new lifestyle. I am chronically tired, because now, for the first time since MS entered my consciousness, I cannot rest at midday.

My car went the way of my naps, and I now own a Malibu. Definitely not the end of the world, but not my style. Between the car payments and the huge gasoline consumption, we have no cash for anything, and no longer pay down our debts incurred from raising teenagers. The banks raised the apr's on anything and everything they could. We barely make minimums, and we buy only food.

We are now unable to maintain our home as we should. The paint never went on the outside, and the roof will not see new shingles anytime in the foreseeable future, whether I do the work myself or not. Our walkways are literally crumbling into rubble.

Yes, I looked into early retirement, but the 401K was ravaged by the crash on Wall Street, and is only now beginning to make its excruciatingly slow recovery. And of course, there is the debt. I had figured two to three years to clean it up. Now it is anybody's guess. Certainly not two to three years.

In eighteen months my job will have flown to Michigan. Is it Michigan? I don't remember, and it is irrelevant. Too far to commute from Upstate New York.

I had planned to write my books and my blogs when I retired from the paper. Now retirement from the paper will be a ticket to a parttime job somewhere closer to home. If work is actually available, then even that will be a blessing. Right now, there is no work, no advertisements, nothing but a very slow increase in the highly specialized jobs that disappeared in the crash.

Yes, I am lucky to have a job. I reach into the attic for old clothes to alter when anything I wear is totally worn out or just ruined. The laugh's on me. I was skinnier in the waist until I turned fifty. Now middle-aged spread makes most old clothes unsuitable for me. Ironically, my hips are thinner than before, so everything fits everywhere except at the waistline.

No time to walk the river on weekdays; I spend at least eleven hours of every work day in Binghamton or on the road commuting. This too, will increase; our offices will move just before Thanksgiving, and will add 15-20 minutes onto my commute. If I hear one more person tell me that "that's not bad, just a few minutes more," I will slap whomever it is. One minute more than my hour and a half commute is just too much to contemplate.

I've already had an exacerbation. Very short, just a day or so, but terrifying. My sight went completely out of whack, enough so that I wondered if I were having a mini-stroke, like my Dad had a few years back. Just once, thank the powers that govern the universe. Again, one too many.

I want to blog, I want to write, and I want to walk the river. But after each work day, I am too tired, and the weekends are only two days.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Photo of the week

Daddy Darrell can always make Violet smile. Real smiles of recognition. Best milestone yet.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sorry if you're disappointed

But the Riverhag has been busy visiting with the GrandKid on weekends. These are our holiday shots of the Chemung. Go to the RiverDogging link on the side for more low river shots.
As for those who want more baby photos: maybe tomorrow.
Off to Binghamgton.
Little Pond

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunny Saturday

Spotted a huge tiger-striped bass or muskie, while birding. Brought home a very poor shot, because the river wouldn't cooperate. I gave it up after about six tries.

I tried to catch a heron doing his thing near the spillover, when I spotted a very unusual heron. I snapped away until I ran out of batteries.

This is not the first one I've seen. It can't be an egret, because there is no fancy plumage. Looks like a white heron, pure and simple.

Almost makes up for the miserable, rainy Sunday. So wet that even the waterfowl wouldn't come out to pose.


Little Pond

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cool summer in Upstate

I know everyone doesn't agree with me, but the cool summer has been a blessing. MS'ers can enjoy the beautiful green world.
With only weekends to enjoy the outside world, I am personally glad that we are not having a hot, dry summer.
Little Pond

Thursday, July 09, 2009


My last outing with Jake and Ellie. Jake went back to learn to live with little Violet. Ellie stayed with us. She and Jake love to mix it up with puppy-wrassling. It's a lovely, noisy, scrappy affair, and it's all in fun, but too much racket for the baby's first week.

Ellie's been to the river a lot this week, and there will be new photos soon, but for now:

Bout a week now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What I miss the most

Now that I commute 1 1/2 hours each way, each day, to work, it's a no brainer. I miss the River and I miss my Riverdog and my naps.

It is beginning to look like it all is temporary.

Both of my riders/drivers are looking actively for local work. Supposedly so am I. For me, it's all online; there is nothing in the newspaper for two days per week. Literally nothing, no want ads. Wednesday and Thursday are negligible, because the real deal is 3 days Friday to Sunday. Those days the ads are looking for young professionals, mostly schools, government or charity. Some are worth considering.

Naturally there is no newspaper work. After all, the upcoming demise of print publishing is what got my whole mess started. I will wind up grabbing anything, anything, local when push gets to shove. Then I will find something to do from the computer. Even two part time jobs will allow me to regroup locally.

One thing is certain: I will not be able to afford commuting on my own. Right now a weeks worth of gas would be 50-60 bucks. That's what it costs me the times I drive. Add the recently purchased car at $150 per month, and the privilege of working in Binghamton would cost me $350 commuter costs alone. Then subtract out a day's pay every two weeks for the recession-related furlough.

Something local that pays significantly less would still pay.

Recessions are complicated messes, aren't they?

Little Pond

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From Kiddy Sling

To Kitty Sling!
Not what the manufacturer's had in mind. My SIL with the grandkitty, getting in practice for the real deal. Baby Violet Meadow Johns due in three weeks.
Little Pond

Monday, June 15, 2009

Getting closer...

BabyMama, alias MamaDog, showing off her healthy pregnancy. Our little Violet Meadow is due in about three weeks. This is at a baby shower hosted by her InLaws. Nice people.



Saturday, June 06, 2009

The meeting of the mutts.

There's a new mutt in town. Frank seems to be pure dachshund, and he's still a pup.
Immediate tussling! The pup rolls over and gives Ellie his belly whenever it gets too rough. He's a rescue from the SPCA, where MammaDog is the Volunteer Coordinator.
Frankie's mom is VeggieGirl, who's been wanting a dog for some time. Frankie is a bit of a handful, but he will settle in. Little jerk dumped on my living room carpet, just to show us who's boss. Ellie was non-plussed.
What is it about dachshunds and pooping in new situations? Ellie grew out of it, thank heavens.
Little Pond

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's that time of year again.

Shy little muguets hide in the shade behind the air conditioning unit.
Notice the little back leg digging into poor Husband RJ's forearm. He's never quite succeeded in taking them out without some blood-letting.

After a bit of a struggle, our little buddies are ready to watch for birds at the feeder station. VeggieGirl came by to wash clothes and hang them on an impromptu clothesline strung between the grape arbor and our sturdy Japanese chestnut.
Summertime and the living is easy, as Janis Joplin used to croon.
Little Pond

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My head is THIS big.

I'm holding my hands about two yards (1.8 m) apart.

Can't remember when the allergies hit me this hard. My throat hurts, my sinuses are swollen so large that they swell down into the roof of my mouth. And my lungs are filling with crud.

Only good thing is that all the meds are killing my appetite. I will follow a strict regimen of small calorie doses to keep up the health, spread throughout the day.

It's gloomy and threatens rain, but I still want my HuggaMutt, and we will still visit the river.

It's Gosling and Duckling Time!


Thursday, April 30, 2009

What every woman needs.

This year the emphasis was on the practical. Paint sprayer, window washer or house washer. The kids got together and got me the pressure washer at left.
Tested it out on the new Malibu. I'm a little afraid to use the maximum pressure nozzle, since they have so many caveats on it. I wound up scrubbing the bugs off the front and sides, but the rest was a piece of cake.
Birthday cake, that is.
Little Pond

Monday, April 27, 2009

A change of pace

We are on vacation, and I've already taken the HuggaMutt to the river three times. We actually went down into the fishermen-only area that I call "Goose Point" yesterday. This is remarkable only because it was essentially inaccessible until recently, at least by those of us who are afraid to cross the trestle bridge.
We were able to take the long way around the feeder creeks and find the spit of land that is usually reserved for the geese themselves. They didn't mind us, but some sort of mammal, muskrat, maybe, worried them a tad after we left.

Herself couldn't stay out of trouble:
All in all a pretty satisfying morning. Today we went upriver to the West Elmira area:

Tomorrow we will check out the spillover area downtown. I've seen several unusual birds and hope to catch them on camera: a white-and-black harrier and a mostly black osprey.
Looking forward to it.
Little Pond

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It took them a while.

Yesterday we were finally all in accord. All of us hate working in Binghamton, including our buddy who actually started out there, and was at least not unhappy to return.

The first week I was called into the Star Chamber. You know, the place where there are two levels of supervisor and just one of you. I had said that I was afraid I was going to wind up not caring, because I was overwhelmed by the difficulty of the adjustment.

Helpfully, they told me I'd better keep it to myself. Thanks for the assist, guys.

Less than two weeks later, one of my co-commuters was called in and treated the same. She had committed the sin of leaving unfinished work with her supervisor. The supe thought it was necessary to call in the next level to chew her out.

Apparently they are not too happy about our commuting situation.

Well, this week our last buddy was given a raft of it over her suggestions regarding workflow, as regarding customers from our old work place. I never make suggestions: they resent it.

She did not take it lying down, however. She went right over the heads of them both.

Can't wait to watch the fallout.

Little Pond

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Birders: Some Help, Please!

Saw this fellow while walking Ellie on Foster Island Easter Sunday. The shape of the bill makes me think it's a merganser, maybe a female.

Go here for a series of eight photos. Unfortunately, the darned thing was backlit in the early morning sun, so I can't even tell you its colors. Good sized fowl, about as big as a goose.

Any ideas?

Little Pond

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Now I'm a statistic.

My debit card number was stolen over the internet and used. The bank called to ask if I ordered $1500 worth of merchandise from a bridal/promdress salon, and over $700 from the and (of all things...) $7.90 from

Well, I hadn't, so they stopped payment on it all and will go after the culprit.

So if you get a call about questionable charges, be sure to reply or call back.

Little Pond

Friday, March 13, 2009

I start work in Binghamton on Monday.

I am to bring my acceptance letter with me.

It is considered a lateral move with same pay.

There will be at least two hours of commuting everyday, in my 1995 Geo Tracker that is held together with duct tape. I did get an oil change, but don't have time for anything else.

My nearest, dearest coworker is going to the Press Plant in Johnson City.

We knew all sorts of bad things were on the way, but I must confess I am in shock, anyway.

I have to trust that all will work out for the best.

Little Pond

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I'd love to post, but

this is Ellie's week at her other house and I must clean, clean, clean. One week with the doggie means one week with minimum cleaning. The next is catch-up time.

We escaped the megastorm that messed up the East Coast, but we always have lake effect snow here, all winter long. That means our floors and carpets show salt the entire time. (In the spring and summer, Husband RJ tracks gardening dirt, but that's another post.)

Lucky us! We had sunshine late yesterday, and are starting with a glorious morning today. The bitter cold makes the house warm, except around the windows and doors. Those are specially weather-stripped for the winter and usually do not leak cold. This frigid spell, however, comes with constant gentle winds and occasional gusts. It's weird and worrisome to feel the chill at the sills and jambs.

We are also dog-sitting our next-door neighbor's, um, whatever it is. He's very tiny, compared to Ellie, brown, short hair and big, wide, erect ears with long hairs hanging from their tips, and a pugged-in face and nose. Decidedly a lap dog, Wookie is aging and arthritic, so much so, that his "wrist" joints point his feet away from his body. It looks as if he were walking on broken legs, although he's not.

Wookie is an indoor dog and the companion to my fairly house-bound neighbors, who are visiting Hawaii. They could not get a kennel, and their family's promise to watch Wookie fell in at the last minute. We are not alone, though, and Wookie gets 3-4 visits a day from us and other sitters.

So, with my usual chores, dog-sitting, and the occasional attention to details regarding my future position in Johnson City, I am living a busy life here. Okay!?

Sorry about the post, though.


Little Pond

Monday, February 23, 2009

Went to see Ron White

He did two shows at the Clemens Center last night. We had back row orchestra seats, but could see perfectly well and of course the sound was great. Ron White presented almost all new material, so we got our money's worth, indeed.

By the way, I want to mention that the tickets were my Christmas present from Husband RJ, but my partner in crime last night was Gale, one of the last people standing at the Elmira Star Gazette office.
She's probably the one who will take down the flag.

At one point he mentioned our lovely theater which had recently been renovated and is now all sparkly and new. The
Clemens Center is an old vaudeville venue with an incredible explansion and is completely updated on the outside.

Even with the (supposedly) red-necked crowd, everyone was decently dressed and well behaved.

In fact, as we were leaving, the fellow who sat in front of us, turned to me and remarked, "Did you know he was so vulgar?" I mentioned that he usually is on Comedy Central, too, but the man insisted that he was never so raunchy. We finally agreed that the worst of it is usually bleeped out for cable.

This was not cable at the Clemens Center.

And last night was a two-fer!!!!

One of my favorite up and coming comics from Comedy Central was his warm-up act:
there was Alex Reymundo, in all his sexy, Latin-lover-turned-country-redneck glory! I was beside myself with elation and purred myself to sleep last night.

We even got AR's autograph, and spoke very briefly with him. I'll tell you what I told him.

I would have paid to see him alone.

One very happy Little Fish,

Little Pond

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bring on the Midlife Crisis.

In the thick of the changes at work. The production department is being dissolved/absorbed by the Central. At this point they know who is leaving and who is moving on to the new site.

I think they knew long before they initiated the changes. It is all eerily familiar to one who has weathered downsizing and consolidation many times in past lives.

The bottom line: our corporation prefers to leave us out of the loop on the bottom line. It will be a good three weeks before anything is announced.

For me there are three possibilities: a job in production that would be a lateral move; a position in advertising that would be a step up; or eschewing the one hour commute each way that the first two would entail, accepting a severance package.

It was never discussed, but I wonder if I am well enough to put in the 10 hours commute and work that accepting a position would require. In the past, after long work days, I have been known to fall asleep at the wheel. That hasn't been a major problem in a town with so many traffic lights over a short area; the trip to the central is between 45 and 61 miles, depending upon the exact site, over Interstate 86.

It is something to consider.

On the other hand, the position in advertising is a long-overdue acknowledgement of my efforts in the past several years to bring quality control to our printed advertising. Not any real compensation, mind you, just a paycheck, and very rarely, a thank you.

If I had a third hand, I would also point out that the production position would have many pleasures, not the least of which would be working once again in periodicals, with whatever is the current standard for their associate editors, publishing coordinators, etc.

I would still be just a grunt, but possibly a happy one.

In the meantime, I am falling back on alcohol to ease the pain from grinding my teeth in my sleep.

Little Pond

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The wheels are cranking.

We are still here, and quite possibly, still with Gannett. I absolutely know that several of my coworkers are moving on to the Binghamton site. Maybe me, too.

Right about now it's all a wash, anyway. It's a long way to Binghamton.

Meantime, I am still the RiverHag and Ellie is still the RiverDog, and the weather is gorgeous.

The heck is this about? Likely a water trough for horses.

But what's with the pvc pipe coming out of it? Just plain weird.

Take that, Fate!


Little Pond

Friday, February 06, 2009

Not even driving the bus.

Last night Gannett eliminated our jobs in Production at two sites. We were then invited to apply for three positions that will replace them in Binghamton and Johnson City.

For me, a seven minute trip would turn into 60. For others, it's worse.

Tears and fears all around me. We knew that was coming, but it still surprises more than we expected.

We weren't even driving the bus, just riding the train to the end of the line.

Little Pond

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cabin fever conquered! OOOPS

This is the actual link you should be looking for. Everyone's way too polite to point up my error... Sometimes I hate getting old.

Go here for our visits to the frozen Chemung.

Also, time for a minor update: we are now using our newly-wiped Compaq Presario almost exclusively. Because of the unpaid furloughs, the PC's and Macs at work are closely monitored. What's more, I don't feel like posting or even just composing at work. During my breaks I play video games.

My first "Out of Office" day, a.k.a. unpaid furlough, is Wednesday. We will be visiting with Golfer Girl, who is now to be called Golfer Lady, since her man is now Joe Sindelar, Sr. Most appropriately, they live next to a golf course north of here.

My book came to a crashing halt with our hard drive. Only chapters that were uploaded to Blogger survived. My favorite chapter still exists, but my second favorite had been committed to paper and gifted to its starring character. We'll see if it turns up, ever. In the meantime, it will take a long time to revisit my little world.

Boy, did the latest episode of the Simpsons ever hit home!

Little Pond

Monday, January 19, 2009


Their situation is dire. Israel is being excoriated as a huge bully attacking the defenseless. It is horrible how the civilians suffer. So many dead, so many wounded, so many homeless.

Hamas hides behind human shields. Always has, always will.

Israel will defend itself, an island of civilization amid the barbarians. It would not surprise me if Palestinians begin to filter into Israel. Again. After all, they will be safe there.

The Israelis take care of their own, training them to avoid the missiles and keeping a standing army to protect its nation.

Hamas recruits the hopeless from mosques, and pumps them up to kill themselves and others.

Their human shields are their parents and families. Their parents and families stand solidly behind them, taking incoming Israeli attacks full in the face. Ergo every Palestinian is in fact a solder.

Hamas soldiers duck out of harm's way to save themselves, and their families die, creating the most starkly horrifying situation, designed to inflame the world.

The absolute antithesis of how a nation's army is supposed to operate. The barbarians are willing to sacrifice their nation to lessen Israel in the eyes of the world.

Pure genius.

Little Pond

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Go for walk, Ellie?

Well, no.

I heard the sound of toenails headed up the stairs.

HuggaMutt is now hiding under the bed.

It is -17C (2F) outside.

No walk this morning.

Little Pond

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Look what we found while the computer was down!

Little Husband RJ at age four. He can't decide whether he wants to be a "dude" or a cowboy.

His little cap was a common sight when we were small. My Irish Twin Tommy wore one, too. It made his eyes look huge.

The neighborhood in the background doesn't look much different these days.

Get a load of the flannel lined pants!

Guess Moms always loved to dress up their kids. Wonder how they could afford cowboy boots back then? Maybe they were those cheap vinyl ones that children wore with costumes.

Husband RJ remembers the boots, but not the rest of the getup.

Little Pond

Sunday, January 04, 2009

HuggaMutt's new site...

Same old, same old, just a permanent home for the RiverDog. Very simple for now, but linkage will follow.

BTW, just found this photo while trying to recover all my lost files. We were both younger then.


But that was before we grew up on the Chemung River.

Little Pond