Welcome to my “once I’m home I’m not going out” season when cold snaps feel more like cold slaps, and although we’re not in the clutches of old person winter yet, there’s nothing like building up a good fire of split piñon in a cast iron boxwood heater.
Some people I know have switched over to pellet stoves, but the problem with that is, if the power goes out, as it did overnight a couple of weeks ago, the computer in the stove goes out, too. So there you go. If that’s not the weirdest way computers have horned in on our old-school world, I don’t know what is.
Heck, I remember being surprised to find out computers were being put in cars, but that’s nothing nowadays. For example, they’ve got a dog collar now with sensors to monitor your canine’s temperature and call your cell phone if it’s getting overheated. And for the owners of felines, you can get a computerized cat food feeder that you can control from anywhere in the world through the internet. While we’re talking about animals, forget those old-fashioned ID chips for cattle. Ranchers can now opt for wireless internet sensors that not only ID that bovine but also monitor its overall health.
If that’s not enough, parents can now get an SMS message that their baby has wet diapers.
There’s also a coffee machine that you can start brewing remotely, a computerized Christmas tree, and a mirror that remembers what you looked like yesterday. And get this, a gadget that lights up your toilet bowl at night. Now that one may be one to look into (no pun intended).
Personally, I don’t care how sophisticated the “internet of things” gets, there’s no CPU that can replace the bent-wood rocker on the porch. That’s about as cutting-edge as I like to be. And it’s good for my “mainframe.”
To digress for a bit, this past Tuesday marked the 85th anniversary of Sadie Hawkins, a comic strip relic of American culture. I don’t know if anyone remembers the Li’l Abner strip set in Dogpatch, Kentucky. According to one of the strip’s plotlines, Sadie was known as “the homeliest gal in them hills” and therefore unable to snag a husband, so her rich and powerful father, Hekzebiah, proclaimed a Sadie Hawkins Day. Sadie would then go gallivanting around looking for unattached boys who, in turn, would be hightailing it to the hills.
The story goes that after seeing a big feature in Life Magazine, people wanted real-life Sadie Hawkins events, such as Sadie Hawkins dances to which women would ask men to, instead of the traditional other way around. A convention that is plumb irrelevant today.
Back when I was in elementary school, we had a Sadie Hawkins dance once a year when girls got to ask boys to go, and then got all gussied up in cornpone hillbilly outfits that Minnie Pearl made famous. The girls would paint their cheeks with freckles and us boys would be chewing on a piece of straw, and everybody would say things like “shucks” or “you all.”
Come to think of it, I still say things like that, thanks to my Tennessee-bred mother. Hoot and holler, high (or low) cotton, cattywampus, and “pert near but not plumb,” all come to mind. And if we were raising a ruckus she would say we were “tearin’ up Jack and turnin’ over Josie.” We would get the drift, but I never heard anyone else use that turn of phrase.
I guess I still have some good ol’ boy left in me, but then again, I am well-acquainted with other country-isms from watching black and white westerns; the ones where Gabby Hayes was always the sidekick for Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy as well as Randolph Scott and John Wayne. Gabby ranks high in my esteem for his ability to cuss up a storm without using profanity, and I’m thinking we should bring back some of those epithets, like durntootin’, dadgummit, persnickety, whippersnapper and hornswoggle.
One true thing is, if October is the month for candy, November is the month for food. By the looks of things at Supermart, everybody is planning out that big meal and looking for bargains on frozen turkeys. Turkey is to Thanksgiving as candy is to Halloween. It’s our American tradition. Have they made it a law yet?
Although we’re told our modern world is fraught with hidden dangers, uncertainties and fears, there is much more for which to be thankful, and we just have to figure out what those things are. Walt Whitman says to either define the moment or the moment will define you, but then again, there’s Gabby the philosopher: “Every little bit makes just a little bit more.”
Dagnabbit, but if that ain’t the truth.
In the meantime, just give me a blunderbuss and point me toward the nearest turkey.