Sunday, December 17, 2017


Charlie Brown's pathetic Christmas tree can't hold a candle to mine.  After an hour of inserting each furschluggen branch into slots in the trunk and carefully and artistically spreading them out last evening, I needed to move Tree over to the corner out of the way.  The trunk is in three pieces that kept separating and I finally had to hug Tree to keep it together during the shift.  Some of the deformity is exaggerated by the fake ficus tree in the corner doing one of those "fingers behind the head" things boys are so fond of doing in a group photo.  I meant to take a triumphant photo of an accomplishment.  Yeah, well.  I'll straighten out that squished section in the middle today.  Whether Tree gets decorated....  (Please note that the pig to the right is wearing his Santa suit.  Ho ho ho!)

The wind up here never reached the velocity that it did down in the valley.  Deb called early in the morning and the wind had already knocked over and broken big potted plants and played havoc with the decorations Craig had hung outside.  It was pretty cold, though, and more wood was brought to the porch.

Ralph, Celeste and I are going to have to have a meeting.  My plan to lie closer to the middle of the bed has backfired.  I certainly don't mind when they snuggle together and press up against my legs or feet when they're on the same side.  I'm one of those people who might have the comforter pulled up around my neck, but sleep hot and need to stick a foot out to regulate my temp even on a cold night.  It's when the cats turn into 50-pound boulders on either side and trap my legs that I wake up frantic to move.  I'm a little worried that they outnumber and might outvote me.

We're on the countdown to Christmas liftoff now.  I thought I was getting a grip on holiday preparations; my grip seemed to slip when I hugged Tree.  Pathetic.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Big Chill

"The Big Chill" was a 1983 movie with an ensemble cast that has nothing other than its title to do with today's topic.  As the daughter of a WWI veteran, I learned a number of the poignant war songs of that era and yesterday the opening line of one kept running through my head:  "Keep the home fires burning."  However, with all the wildfires still raging in California, that hardly seemed appropriate for a blog title.  The temperature dropped yesterday and Stove and I worked on our relationship and more wood was brought to the porch to feed his appetite.

My milk customer and some helpers came up in the afternoon.  Milk and eggs are no longer available, but he's determined not to go away empty handed.  He came for a trailer load of chicken and goat manure for his bamboo forest.  (I know!  Bamboo in Fair Play sounds incongruous, but he's a man of vision.)  Bamboo evidently requires a lot of manure.  MC has come several times a year in the past to pick up what here is termed "garden gold."  Hey, it saves me a lot of work and I'm happy to contribute.

Bess and I remind me of two elderly spinster aunties from my childhood, Annie and Libby.  They weren't really aunts, but friends of my great-aunt Kate and they were frequent visitors.  Annie was tall and spare and somewhat disapproving while Libby was short and plump and funny.  I'm not sure the sisters had ever lived separately and they were set in their ways, just like Bess and me.  Once a routine is developed, we read each other's mind and act accordingly.  Each morning while the coffee machine does its thing, I get a milk bone for Bess that she takes into the dining room to eat.  She then stands by the treat drawer and waits for a "bacon" bit that is followed by a small, crunchy marrow thing that Deb and Craig got her hooked on.  These goodies must come in exactly this order or I get "the look."

Strong winds and low temps are predicted for today.  While it's easy to get spoiled with the lovely days we've had this week, it is winter and cold weather is to be expected.  Rainfall so far has been about one percent of normal for December, and we're all hoping we're not headed into another year of drought.  In the meantime, I'll keep Stove happy and well fed.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Li'l Angels

Any mother of toddlers will say, "They're so sweet when they're asleep."  After breakfast, a bit of rough-and-tumble, and Celeste hauling her babies up and down the hall, this is how I find Celeste and Ralph every day.  They snuggle together for a nap, and groom each other's face and ears when they wake up.  It wasn't long after this yesterday and they were up again and Ralph was ambushing Celeste.  His favorite hiding spot is the stairwell and either she's very good at pretending or she really doesn't think he's going to jump out at her.  There is a wrestling match and then a chase sequence that usually ends with Celeste boxing Ralph's ears and a quick take-down.  Then they go back to bed or to neutral corners for another nap.  Mama's li'l angels.

I had a most pleasant visit with my friend Linda at The Pub in the afternoon for, as she put it, a holiday libation and a shared appetizer.  We don't talk as often anymore and it was nice to catch up on news.  She surprised me with a Christmas coffee mug ("Be naughty, save Santa a trip.") filled with Heath bars, which I love.  Before leaving, we stood outside for awhile to enjoy a lovely, warm day.

Not long after getting home, suddenly there were Camille's three escape artists at the door.  One of Cam's neighbors had an oak that fell and crushed her fence.  Buddy was taking full advantage of the opportunity to investigate the neighborhood and Sammi and Honey were along to keep him company on an adventure.  What do do?  Honey knows the house rules, but the other two do not and they like to chase cats.  I grabbed a handful of cookies (milk bones) and enticed the trio into the now-empty chicken pen and called Camille.  Busy in the house, she hadn't noticed her li'l angels had left the property.  She drove up immediately to retrieve them.  I couldn't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure Bess Anne went along the pen fence, saying, "Nanner, nanner, nanner.  You're in jail and I'm not."  After their run to freedom, I'll bet those dogs were ready for a nap when Cam got them home.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Happy Lap

My lap is usually full with a cat or two, but Bessie Anne evidently felt needy and/or left out and asked, no, demanded, to climb up for a snuggle.  "Tell me again, Mom.  Tell me how you found me when I was a puppy and you picked me out of all those other dogs.  Tell me how you looked in my eyes and knew my name was Bessie Anne, and how I was going to live with you and be your special girl forever.  Tell me that story again."  And so, of course, I did.

My visit with the surgeon went well and I'm cleared by him for another six months and yearly after that.  The drive to P'ville through Cedar Ravine is really lovely, with gentle curves through deep forest.  Lovely, that is, unless there is some yahoo trying to climb up your tailpipe, because there are few-to-no places to pull over to let them pass.

I lucked out yesterday both going and coming, and got home in plenty of time to get ready for my circuit-riding hairdresser.  It is such a luxury to get my hair trimmed at home and have a chat with a friend at the same time.

I touched base with Pete.  He is very pleased with the results of his surgery.  Recuperation will take some time.  Even though he works from home, he's taking a couple of weeks off to rest.

Every night, Bess gets a back rub and massage before moving over to her pillow to sleep.  I've finally learned to lie in the middle of the bed so as not to get pushed to (or over) the edge by the cats.  On these cold nights, Ralph comes to cuddle in the cat cave a couple of times.  He never stays long, just enough to warm up, and then he's out again.  It seems I have a full lap even lying down.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Pete is on a straight path to recovery, according to his brother Dave.  Having both eyes operated on had to be traumatic, but he's a trooper and was home shortly after noon.  Dave was able to spread the good news to family and friends via group texts; ain't technology grand?!

It wasn't until I'd left the house on my way to an appointment with my oncologist that I remembered that Bucks Bar Road is closed for much needed repairs.  Taking the detour adds some time when going to town and I'm not as familiar with that route.  Aarrgh!  The doctor had the results of those multiple blood tests and had found a hiccup in one that will require some significant further tests next year.  Life is full of detours.

Appointments were running behind and I had to rush home (via the detour) to get back and tuck the goats in before dark at 4:30.  That done, Bess jumped in the truck and we took the trash down to the big road.  It's one of her favorite "road trips" because she gets a treat when we get home.

I have what I hope is my final appointment with the surgeon today and will leave in plenty of time.

Pete's news made it a good day, indeed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

As They Go

As days go, yesterday was rather uninspired; not a bad day, but kind of blah.  After piddling around in the kitchen and getting some more goodies made and packed up, I made a token effort at housework, certainly not enough to break a sweat.  Bess and I went out several times to check on the girls.  They were fine, oblivious to any danger.  It was nice outdoors, much warmer than in the house.  The crazy laws of physics mean that, at this time of year, cold air settles in the valley and warm air rises to the foothills.  Pete is having trouble adjusting to "winter" in northern California after so many years of living either along the SoCal coast or inland in Chino.  I'm at the point where 50 degrees is considered shirtsleeve weather.  He's not there yet.

The other afternoon I watched a PBS special featuring the late Victor Borge.  I'm not much of a one for today's comedy, but I'd forgotten how very funny that man was; good clean humor that had me laughing out loud.

Hold the good thought for Pete, who is undergoing surgery today.  His brother Dave is providing transport, so Pete is in good hands.

Rather than blather on about a do-nothing day, I'll just say that, as days go, it went.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Good Start

A beautiful sunrise was a good start to what turned out to be a productive day, and it's about time, too.  The family will celebrate Christmas on December 23, a Saturday.  Yes, we're out of sync with the rest of the world, but they all work and weekends are better for our get-togethers.  For us, it's not the date, but the who you're with that makes a holiday.  Behind as usual, I needed to get busy in the kitchen.  That's where I spent most of the day and actually got three things knocked off my list.  Dietary restrictions of one sort or another have put a real crimp in my Christmas gifting.  I don't want to be the cause of any health problems, for sure, but some traditions are hard to break.

My milk customer has been gone for a number of  weeks, but called on Saturday and I had to tell him the news:  Sheila has retired and I will no longer have milk for him.  He had dealt with "no eggs" pretty well, but "no milk" was a blow.  I gave him the number of a gal who raises goats and might be a supplier.  She called me later and said her does were in that dry period before kidding, but she passed him down the line to a friend of hers.  It's been many, many years since I've had to buy milk at the store, so I know how he feels.

I'd been on 911 duty for Cam, who had been painting again.  She stopped by on her way home at the end of the day to pick up a care package of sausage and peppers.  What had begun with a good start to the day came to a sad finish.  Cam called when she got home and said that something had killed her little goat, the one with psychedelic tennis balls on her horns.  There were wounds, but it hadn't been eaten.  We all live with possibility of predators up here, but it is devastating, all the same.  There have been sightings of mountain lions in the area lately, and it might have been a lioness teaching her young ones to hunt and kill.  My heart hurts for Camille, who is so very conscientious about her animals.  This goes way beyond "sigh."  I'll be checking on my girls more frequently.