Blog Bits: Jam, Rabbits, Spellcheck
This is adapted from recent postings on the "Editor's Note" blog at thepilot.com.
Another Jam Session: For what I guess is the fifth straight year, I just finished putting up five or six dozen 8-ounce jars of my patented and now world-famous "Bouser's Peach Jam What Am."
The completion of this annual ritual signals that summer, for me at least, is over. Other signs are the cold snap we've had lately (temperatures only into the upper 80s or so) and the advent of my new semester of teaching evening classes in journalism at Chapel Hill (it started last night).
As usual, West End peach magnate Watts Auman gave me a deal on a bushel of just-right fruit - which, by my definition, means a sagging box of grade B peaches suspended somewhere between overripe and rotten, with lots of nice gnats buzzing around them.
Combine those with a few other top-secret ingredients and a half a day of slaving over a hot stove, and you have another home-canning triumph. I'm glad it's over (it's getting to be too much like work), but all those jars of golden goodness will sure come in handy this Christmas.
Wascally Wabbits! Earlier this summer, as I used a string trimmer to get rid of some weeds and sprouts that had poked up through the pine straw in my side yard, I noticed something odd.
A couple of the pieces of greenery I was preparing to zap were clearly not your average weeds. Indeed, these rapidly spreading vines with their yellow blossoms appeared to be members of the gourd family. But what would make them spring up suddenly in those particular two widely separated spots?
Then I remembered: The previous winter, while trying (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to transplant a couple of saplings from elsewhere on our -property, I had mulched the areas around them with material from my compost heap. It must have included pulp and seeds from cantaloupes. What I had were a couple of "volunteers," as they're called, bravely trying to make a go of it in rather inhospitable territory.
Putting my Weed Eater aside and -taking pity on these aspiring newcomers, I began subjecting them to a -regular regimen of watering and f-ertilizing. One of them thrived better than the other, and soon it began -gestating one (count it, one) actual -cantaloupe. It grew and grew over the weeks, never achieving supermarket dimensions but turning into quite a healthy looking specimen that promised luscious eating when ripening time came. I could hardly wait for this juicy treat.
But it was not to be. One evening a while back, arriving home at dusk, I thought I glimpsed some motion in our side yard. Walking out to investigate, I looked down. A frightful sight greeted me: My much-anticipated melon had been ravaged and reduced to just a pitiful half-shell, with lots of little chew marks all over it.
Then I caught sight of the robbers responsible: two cottontail rabbits, sitting near the property line and looking fat, satisfied and not the least bit guilty. As I chased them into the neighbors' yard, shaking my fist, I knew just how Elmer Fudd felt when that cursed Bugs Bunny had foiled him again.
- Sept. 1
Thanks a Lot, Spell-Checker: Computers are so smart. And so dumb. Consider the spell-checking feature on NewsEdit Pro, our publishing system at The Pilot, and just a few of the -"corrections" it came up with on this day alone.
For one thing, Mr. Spell-Checker doesn't know about the terrorist group al-Qaida. As I was editing a column that included that name, he thought I must mean "al-qasida" - which I figure may be a variation on "quesadilla."
When another columnist I was editing used the slangy term "speech-a-fying," Mr. Spell-Checker was OK with "speech" and "a." But he tried to persuade me to replace "fying" with "fugging." Speech-a-fugging - that would have been a big improvement.
Since Mr. Spell-Checker was born after Barack Obama made the scene, the president's name always throws him for a loop, and he can't seem to get it through his skull. This time, he suggested replacing the first name with "Barracks" and the last name with "Obaza," whatever that is. His second choice was "Omaha."
My favorite, though, was "fuddy-duddy." Mr. Spell-Checker let "duddy" go through, but he drew the line at "fuddy."
- Sept. 2
Steve Bouser is editor of The Pilot. Contact him at (910) 693-2470 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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