A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hurry Spring!

There it sits. In a shaded corner of the yard, in a spot where I have to walk by it every time we go out.
It’s a small thing, maybe three feet long and a foot or so wide. And yet it has a power over me that goes way beyond its small stature. I hate looking at it. I want to do it in and yet I am unable to make a move at it. This place that the sun refuses to shine on has the last patch of snow in my yard. It’s decrepit and foul looking snow. A crust of black obscuring the white that once was. It crouches there on the dead grass and mocks me for thinking that winter has finally succumbed to the power of the calendar and we can enjoy the brief season of temperate weather that we get here in NEPA.
I should go out right now and kick it, spread it out so it just melts away like the memories of the long hours on the wrong end of the shovel so recently passed. But I am scared. I fear that if I do it will retaliate with an early spring storm and call its snow buddies back for one more round. It is, after all, just barely April and cruel month that it is here in NEPA it isn’t unknown for us to get clobbered by a huge nor’easter that will eradicate thoughts of crocus and daffodil in a big hurry.. Watching the weather the other day on WNEP-Ch16 I saw that Montage Mountain still has snow on the ski trails. It made me sad. My older brother lives in East Overshoe Vermont. He told me on the phone the other day that close by his house there are still 6 foot snow drifts. And the folks in the Dakotas where it snowed more than half a foot last week can assure the rest of us that while old man winter is bent and bowed he still has his teeth. I am more than ready for April showers that bring the flowers that bloom in May. It’s the season of “taint.” It “taint” winter and yet it ”taint” spring yet either. It’s the limbo of seasons and my little patch of snow just sits there. Biding it’s time. Thinking its snowy thoughts of the glories of storms long ago. The snow shovel is still within easy reach. The storm windows are still down. And I still have that dark feeling that just over the horizon something lurks that will once more call the snow plow to my driveway. And without a doubt I hope I am wrong.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quiet you!

My hearing is not as acute as it once was. I have gone to literally thousands of loud concerts. One time, at a Ted Nugent show somebody threw an M-80 (for those of you who don’t know, an M-80 is a firecracker with the explosive power of a ¼ stick of dynamite) next to me. I felt it but never heard it. While living at home I got tired of my parents yelling at me to turn the GD music down so I bought headphones. Several pairs, because I would melt the elements out of them. But in spite of this aural damage I have done to myself I can still hear pretty well. Hear enough that the amount of sound rudeness I hear everyday gets on my auditory as well as other nerves. First of all, modern cell phones have very sensitive microphones. Why is it then that people in cell phone conversations in public places feel they have to SHOUT? This usually takes place in a crowded restaurant where the noise level already exceeds that of a 747 taking off. Oh and about conversation. Sometimes in grocery stores I learn more than I really care to about the lives of others. Does anybody remember the difference between indoor voices and outdoor voices? But the biggest offenders in the noise sweepstakes are motor vehicles. I live next a road that is busy during the day but less so at night. With the windows open we can hear deer moving in the woods surrounding our home. That is we can when there is not a car going by with the steady LOUD bass thrum from an overly loud stereo. Hey, as I mentioned, I like loud music too, but not at 3am. Oh and then there is the newspaper delivery guys muffler. It wakes me up every morning. For the past five years. Any chance you could visit Midas there, pal? But by far the worst offense to my battered ear drums is when I am walking in a parking lot, minding my own business and someone locks the car. When I’m not expecting it, and I never am, the loud chirps of the alert mechanism or horn can make me jump three feet in the air and drop the groceries. When you lock or unlock the car with the little remote the lights flash, the horn blows and generally everyone in a three block radius knows about it. There is a setting that allows you to silence it. The lights flashing will confirm the action and anyway you can hear the loud click of the locks going down. How about it? I think you can hear what I am saying. Or then again…

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oh Deer!

I guess that I am a country boy at heart. I have always loved being out doors. Given the choice I would probably sleep outside in weather that permits it. Just being out in the wind and hearing the sounds of birds, squirrels and other wild-life would put me to sleep better than any lullaby or a double shot of Old Grand Dad. Of course here in NEPA we have not had that kind of weather in recently, but now as the air gets warmer we can once more journey into Mother Nature. It seems somehow proper and fitting that on the second day of spring I got to enjoy something in the woods that I have never seen before. Just about a mile as the crow flies from the Rising ranch I watched in absolute wonder as a piebald deer materialized before my eyes. And I hadn’t had any Old Grand Dad. Yet. You may never have heard of this type of deer but I am told it’s more common than an albino one or even an all black one. Still they are almost unbelievably rare with this genetic condition typically present in less than one percent of white-tailed deer. At first glance it looked like a dog or a baby cow but it was in the company of several other normally pigmented deer. Its buddies didn’t seem to take notice that something was very different about this deer. Piebald deer are colored white and brown similar to a pinto pony. I have seen a lot of deer in my life. When I was young and even dumber than I am now I used to chase them with a rifle or a bow and arrow in my hands. I bet the deer found this very amusing as I was not much of a threat to them. Of course living here in NEPA you see more deer than you can shake an antler at, usually trying to run into your car. But I have never seen a deer colored like a Holstein cow. As I stood there frantically trying to snap its picture with my crappy camera phone I thought how lucky this particular deer must have been to make it this far in life. It seemed fully grown but how it ever escaped some hunter is a mystery to me. As the other deer blended into the woods this one might as well have been wearing a flashing neon sign saying “Shoot Me! Shoot Me Now!” But there it was and I like to think that in some way it’s a testament of a sort to individuality. But then I thought…deer don’t use mirrors. Or then again I could be wrong.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I just finished a 2000 mile plus road trip. Driving anyplace that long a distance is a trial but the fact that I had to do some of it over the worst roads in civilization made it even more of a trial. I went south and my trip included roads in Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. Those roads in those states were fine. It was the several hundred miles of pot hole filled, litter fouled, almost impassable miserable excuses for roads in Pennsylvania that were tough. I live and therefore mostly drive here in NEPA. Because of this I must have become immune to what passes for infrastructure in the Keystone state. Once I noticed that my car was no longer vibrating like a jackhammer, my teeth were no longer so on edge and I didn’t have to swerve every ten feet to avoid road kill or worse I knew that I was in another state. It was almost eerie to ride along and not see dead things along the side of the road. Mile after mile we logged and no rotting deer with entrails stretched yards on the highway did we see. Nary a skunk to assault our eyes and make us swoon with stink. And clean? You couldn’t find so much as a tissue on the shoulder never mind the discarded piano cases and the like you see around here. And the road surface? Driving while tired and sleepy in NEPA is no problem. You are kept awake by the constant explosions of your tires hitting potholes big enough to house families. And where there are no potholes there are patches for those holes that are so poorly executed that you feel like your car is trying out for Olympic ski jump competitions. Why bother with alignment? Your steering will be out of true before you can say “bent rims.” Many excuses are made why the roads are so bad in Pa. The money is not there to fix them. The amount of truck traffic chews them up. The dog ate our road crews. All I know is that in Tennessee, a state where as near as I could tell there are more cows than teeth, the roads were clean, smooth and a pleasure to drive on. In fact I found the roads in the “Volunteer” state to be the most hazardous on my journey. Why? Because they were so good I had a very hard time staying awake while traversing them. And about that roadside litter. Swarms of men wearing orange vests that stated “Correctional Department” scoured the roadsides . A nice concept. Free labor and a day in the sun for the convicts. But then again I could be wrong.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Written in Murfreesboro Tenn

I am one thousand miles away as the crow flies and a million miles away in my head on a road trip as I write this. I have left the 13 degrees and piles of ice and snow in my driveway in NEPA and headed south for reasons that will be explained towards the end of this. Today it’s 40 degrees warmer where I am. It’s spring here. The grass is green and the flowers are in bloom. The pansies nod their colorful heads in the soft breeze. The silly daffodils bend and bow and brighten up the landscape with their improbable yellow. I write this not to make you jealous for the spring that I am in and you are not. I write to give you hope that soon you too will be walking around again in a t-shirt instead of layers of sweaters and coats. You will be able to grasp objects made of metal out of doors without gloves. Your feet will be in flip flops instead of clod hops. And you can drive with your window down and your elbow out. Heck I even ran the air conditioner for a few minutes just for the feeling of it. It’s nice down here and the only problem is I know that soon enough we will be headed back the land of ice and snow and courthouse woes.
I am near Nashville Tennessee in a town called Murfreesboro. It’s 13 hours by car from my driveway in NEPA and took me two days to get here. It was well worth the trip. Not just for the break in routine that I needed after a long cold hard winter. Not for the fried okra and other southern cooked delicacies that seem as foreign to us as haluskie would to these slow talking southerners. And not just for the rebirth that my soul felt when I stepped out into this sunny southern weather although that surely is one of the trips pleasures. No, I am here for a birth of another sort. Late at night last week or I guess I should say early in the morning my oldest son and his wife brought a new Rising into the world and though some may question if another one was necessary or even wise I myself am over the moon with joy. He is a tiny thing, just under 6 pounds and about 18 inches from toes to dark haired head but so full of life and bringing all around him so much happiness that he might as well be six foot three. So go ahead. Call me Grampa. Haven James Rising and I don’t mind a bit. And keep a shovel warm for me.