Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sharing

Sharing one's life with house pets is tremendously comforting.  They are funny, capricious, and, in the case of the dog, grateful, steadfast and loyal.  I'm not so sure about the cats.  Cats are more aloof and demanding.  We train dogs, cats train us.  Cats do not recognize personal space.  All space is their space, and if they want to lie on your lap, they will be on your lap, period.  If you object, their attitude is, "Get over yourself."  Dogs are grateful for the food in their dish.  Trust me, you don't want to see the baleful looks from the cats if the food in their bowl even gets low.  If they can see the bottom of the dish, you're in deep trouble.  If they could dial the phone, they'd report me to the SPCA.  If I've been gone, Bess Anne is happy to see me come home.  If the cats even notice, their attitude is, "Oh, it's you again."

Sharing one's bed with the animals can be a pleasure and a pain.  Single as I am, it's nice to hear breathing in the night to let me know I'm not alone.  Warm bodies in winter are cozy.  And then there are the other nights.  With the weather spiking up and down as it is right now, I've not yet changed to fleece sheets so wearing socks to bed minimizes the cold shock of cotton sheets.  It is said that body heat escapes through the head.  If that is so, heat must be trapped in the feet; in my feet, for sure.  Ralph and Celeste took turns crawling into the cat cave last night, and Bess snuggled up close.  Then the cats moved down on top of the blanket to trap my feet under their bodies.  It was fine at first, but later I was so hot it woke me up.  Cats mysteriously put on weight after dark and they must have weighed fifty pounds each and it was like trying to move boulders to push off my socks to cool off.  Bessie had moved over to share my pillow, but it wasn't just right so she was scratching at it to fix it to her liking, and then kept poking me with her paw to get me to move over (I was on the edge of the bed as it was).  I can't say it was a restful night for me, but the animals are full of vim and vigor this morning.

Ah, well.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

She's Slow

Nature is slow in moving the seasons up to the hill country.  Flowers bloom and gardens produce earlier down in the valley than here.  Even the grape harvest is much later this year.  I had thought I might have missed the event, not having seen the pickers in the vineyards or heard the rumble of crushers from the winery next door and those across the hills, but yesterday there were the familiar trucks in Robert's parking lot and the forklift busily carrying the big bins up and down the rows and back to the processing shed.  The girls are hanging out by the fence line in the big pen.  They know it won't be long until the guys start pitching those sweet stems left from the crush over to them.  It's the goats' favorite time of year.

As reluctant as I might be to leave home anymore, I have to say that these country roads are a delight for the eyes in the fall.  The grape vines nearest the top of the hill are still green, but even down by the big road, some varieties have turned red just in the last week.  Japanese maples here and there are ablaze with color, and whatever-they-are trees are like spotlights of bright gold along the roads.  I imagine the pistach along the one stretch of road through Placerville are already dressed in their fall finery.  It would almost be worth a trip to town just to admire their beauty.  Almost.

That overnight rain we had was enough to soak the ground and wash the truck.  Cool enough for a jacket all day yesterday, temperatures back in the 80s are predicted for next week.  It seems Nature isn't ready to let go of summer just yet.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Welcome Back

As soon as I wrote the title, I thought of and could hear the theme music from a 1975-79 TV sit-com, "Welcome Back, Kotter," the show that launched a young John Travolta's career.

What I meant to say was how welcome it was to hear a good downpour in the middle of the night (and how nice that it is over and done this morning).  The sky did a lot of prep work yesterday, building up grey clouds and then letting them blow over.  Evidently they organized after dark.  Hopefully, the rain settled the dust and made it worthwhile to swipe a rag around today.

I wish the girls would play nice together, but Sheila and Tessie continue to pick on Inga.  Maybe it is because she's the oldest and probably the weakest, but it may be because Inga is a whiner and gets on their nerves.  Alpines are usually a quiet breed, unlike La Manchas and Nubians.  Inga hangs around the barn in the morning and never shuts up until the others come out from their turn in the milking room.  I will admit that I want to yell at her, but that's no excuse in the evening when Sheila bashes poor Inga into the barn wall when she tries to get past to go to her room.  She took a particularly hard hit last evening.  I'm just glad it was from Sheila and not one-horned Tessie.

I was right about the cauliflower and agrodolce.  It was delicious.

Bessie Anne is thirteen years old, going on fourteen, and is pretty sedentary these days.  She takes more naps than I do and, like me, she walks instead of running.  Therefore it was almost shocking when we both woke up from our before-bed snooze last night and she grabbed one of the cats' toys and wanted to play "chase me."  Keep-away used to be a favorite game and she would run around the dining room table, down the hall, and in and out of rooms, teasing me while I tried to take the toy away.  Maybe she'd been dreaming about her puppy days and wanted to relive the good times.  It's been a long while since she's gotten down on bended knees in the play-with-me pose.  Who am I to disappoint my girl, so we both acted silly.  The game didn't last long (thank goodness) and she headed back to the couch for another nap.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

On A Roll

Where did that come from?  Maybe it was a change in the atmosphere, but I was hit with one of those rare bursts of ambition yesterday.  Trust me, they are few and far between, and it's imperative that I take advantage when they do come.  I was on a roll and about the only thing I didn't do was dust (I have my limits), even though there's a fine layer over that nicely polished furniture yet again.  I swear there's a dust fairy who comes in the night like Tinker Bell to sprinkle my house with her darned stuff.  What did I ever do to her?  Anyhow, I did get a lot done.

I've got agrodolce on the brain.  There's a cauliflower in the fridge that I think would be grand if steamed and then drizzled with that tart-sweet sauce.  I think it would be good hot or cold.  If I had Brussels sprouts, I'd add them to the mix.  I'm sure this kick will run its course soon.

I am calendar challenged.  I carefully transfer important dates from one year's calendar to the next, and then forget to look at the calendar.  I am forever missing birthdays and anniversaries.  I should invest in "belated" cards.  And there's the reverse.  I was gearing up to go to the Senior Center for lunch tomorrow, and then realized they won't be serving crab cakes until next week.  (They send home a calendar with planned menus every month.)  I can't win.

Who knew that turkeys and squirrels would develop a taste for banana peels?  Since Pete's contribution, I've been buying bananas.  I carefully pull the peels into manageable strips for the critters (yes, I spoil them) before throwing the peels down with the bird seed.  You'd think I'd put down cinnamon buns for breakfast.

I wish there was a pause button on the weather.  Fall isn't as pretty as spring, but we're having perfect days right now, weatherwise.  Not too hot nor cold, not too windy, and the rain hasn't come yet.  Ah, well, were it not for bad weather, we might not appreciate the good when it's here.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Addiction

Addiction:  the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice....  I'll admit it, I'm addicted to the sky.  I can't help myself when I see a particularly beautiful sunrise or sunset, or even a flotilla of puffy white clouds sailing overhead and I reach for the camera.  It may be a holdover from when Steve was alive and we would call to each other to, "Come see!"  I still have this need to share.

Addiction comes in many forms, and I may be developing an over-fondness for agrodolce, that Italian sweet-sour sauce.  Having tried it on Pete just a couple of days ago, when Clay came up yesterday I couldn't help myself and made it again.  I did put it over butternut squash as before, but it went wonderfully with pork chops and Clay gave the sauce a thumbs up of approval, too.

The weather has been so goofy this year.  It seems too early for the lilac leaves to turn color, but they sure are pretty.  I started this hedge, such as it is, from rootless, bare twig cuttings, and now it's above the eaves.  I never planned to have anything block the view from my kitchen windows, but what I didn't realize at first is that the summer sun beats in and the room becomes stifling.  It's the one room in the house without a ceiling fan and has poor cross ventilation, so the shade provided by the lilacs is most welcome.  There's the added bonus of having little birds right there at eye level.  The branches go bare in winter and let in plenty of light.

Clay had come up to see what, if anything, could be done about the log splitter.  The last time Helper Dude was going to work on the mound of oak rounds, the splitter would not start.  I had nightmares about having to replace the darned thing, and I was getting worried because I sure don't have enough firewood to get through the winter.  We're due for rain and dropping temperatures by the end of this week.  With no thermostat in the house, one must plan ahead for heat in cold weather.  Clay fiddled with this or that, gave the machine a shot of starter fluid, and ta da! that sucker fired right up.  Instead of nightmares, I'm having visions of a cozy wood stove.  Of course, there are all those rounds to be split first.

As much as I appreciate Clay's help, his real gift was his time and that's never to be taken for granted.  My Kids are my joy.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Delaying Tactics

Shortly after barn chores, a propane truck drove up.  I knew right away it was the new guy, the one who had gotten himself so lost last week.  My driveway has three "branches" to the house, and this guy had picked the narrowest, most winding one that goes under the low-hanging live oak.  While making introductions, I surreptitiously slipped him a milk bone, explaining that Bess looks forward to deliverymen because most of them give her cookies and I keep one in my pocket just in case a newbie hasn't learned that trick to keep farm dogs friendly.  I'm not on a set schedule for propane delivery and I so appreciate that the guys stop by when they're in the neighborhood because it keeps my bill low(er).  Propane is pretty expensive.  I hope this guy can find his way back again.

Later, there I was, dreading a trip to town (again), and Cam called, asking if I was going to be home until about 3.  She was going to be up on a ladder painting (again) and wanted someone to be aware.  "Well, I have to go into town, but I can wait until then.  No problem."  It turned out to be no hardship at all.  Two of my favorite movies played back to back.  I've watched "Finding Neverland" (2004, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet,  Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman) numerous times.  It's a touching story about James M. Barrie and the inspiration for "Peter Pan."  It's Freddie Highmore, the little boy who was Peter, who sends me to tears every time.

"Neverland" was followed by "The Girl With A Pearl Earring" (2003, Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson) about the painting of the same name by Johannes Vermeer.  This movie is a low-key drama and probably not to everyone's taste, but I'm fascinated by the filming technique that gives the chiaroscuro effect used by Vermeer in his art.  I've actually watched the film without sound, just because of the beauty of each scene.

"Girl" came to an end at the same time Camille called to say she was done with ladder work for the day; perfect timing.  Without any further delaying tactics at hand, there was nothing for it but to make a hit-and-run trip to town.  Sigh.  I rewarded myself with fried eggplant for dinner.

It was a good day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rock Star

Like a big-name celebrity, I have my entourage.  I go nowhere alone.  It's the next best thing to a parade.  The numbers drop when the cats are napping, but Bessie Anne is a constant.  Indoors or out, she is by my side.  It's useless trying to sneak a little privacy in the bathroom.  Closing the door is no good, what with the scratching and calling.  The cats consider the bathroom to be communal potty time whenever I go in there.  They go to their respective litter boxes and we all go together while Bess keeps watch in the doorway.  There is always the prospect of a treat in the kitchen, so there's no chance of being alone there.  Bessie Anne will wake from a deep sleep to wander in to see what's cookin'.  We all troop down the hall at night to go to sleep in what I used to think of as my bed.

It's no different in the goat pen.  In the morning, the girls cluster about until I'm finished in the barn and then we all go up the hill together.  I'd say I feel like the Pied Piper, but the girls push and shove to take the lead.  In the evening, they meet me at the gate and we trek down the well-worn path.

Yep, in my house, I'm a rock star.