Tuesday, January 23, 2018


I thought when the Kids left home my days of hearing, "Dibs!," were over.  While the word isn't actually said, the attitude is loud and clear in this house.  Celeste claims the priority spot on my lap, Bessie Anne does her best to fit on the foot rest of the recliner, and Ralph has to squeeze himself in where he can.

The desk for my computer is not really a desk, but an old vanity that Steve picked up at some yard sale.  It works for me.  The bedroom is probably the coldest room in the house (heat doesn't turn corners).  With the onset of winter, my hands would go stiff with cold on the keyboard so I recently bought a little space heater to use in the dark o' morn.  An added benefit is the warm air that blows into the kneehole over my feet.  Guess who has called dibs on that space?  Celeste may be small, but she rules, and she's a girl who likes her comfort.

Missy appears to have settled into her spot in the barn.  She ate everything I put down for her again.  I truly hope I haven't stolen someone's pet cat, but she seems to have made her choice.  The goats are just going to have to adapt.

I think Stove was a little embarrassed that I tattled on him and he did a much better job yesterday.  The rain and wind had stopped by daybreak, but it was a cold, cold day.  Comfort food was in order so I made meatloaf for dinner, a lot of dinners, in fact.  Some time back, I started making mini-meatloaves instead of one large loaf and bake, package and freeze them separately.  It's very nice to pull out a ready-to-heat meal and not have to dirty more dishes or pans.

If my black eye were the United States, the bruise is headed toward Guatemala.  Fortunately, it's losing color as it goes.  I try to kid myself that it's not noticeable, but the checker's reaction at the store the other day told me that's not so.  "You should see the other guy," was all I could say.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Another Mouth

Miss C., whose name is evolving into Missy, was in the barn again the other morning, huddled in the empty stall.  She's a little waif, either very young or small for her age.  She's done such a good job of clearing rodents from the barn, and sometimes during the day I see her sitting in the fields hunting ground squirrels.  Those pickings are pretty slim this time of year as those pesky critters are underground in their burrows.  I don't need another mouth to feed and I don't want another cat in the house, but a barn cat is worth having so yesterday morning I put down a small bowl of feed for Missy (see?).  She wasn't in the barn at the time, but every morsel was gone when I put the girls to bed last night.

The temperature has been steadily dropping the last few days.  Stove was having one of his cranky fits, swallowing chunks of wood whole and not giving much in return.  It took all day to get the house up past 50 degrees.  It was a good day to wrap up in the afghan, pile on a couple of cats, and watch the NFL playoffs.  I wasn't vested in the Jaguars-Patriots game, but put a nickel bet on the Pats.  Dave owes me big time.  The Vikings' performance was a huge disappointment.  They were soundly trounced by the Philadelphia Eagles.  It was a rout, and the Vikings won't be playing in the Super Bowl.  Drat.

The promised storm blew in overnight, the operative word here being "blew."  The wind is howling out there in the dark this morning.  Stove and I are going to have to have a talk about his performance today.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Time Travel

After a trip up to the store and then bringing more wood to the porch, I was flipping channels and got caught by Huell Howser's enthusiastic, "That's a-MAZ-ing!"  He was making a tour of the Railroad History Museum in Old Sacramento, which I have never done.  As he was going through the exhibits, I was transported back in time to when I was a kid and my family did a lot of traveling by train, and not just short trips, either.

In Southern California, any trip for us began at Union Station in Los Angeles, a huge, ornate building with a distinctive landmark tower.  Back in the day, it was a bustling place as trains were the primary means of long-distance travel.  The first thing after buying tickets was to find a red-cap porter who would take our luggage to our assigned car.  We always traveled in coach, not in a compartment, which I, as a kid, thought was much more fun.  As much as anything, I remember the smells and sounds of a train station:  conductors calling out, "All abooard!," the hiss and cloud of steam as the engineer prepared to leave, and the heavy chuffing of the wheels that slowly picked up speed.  When I was five, my mother and I went by train from Los Angeles to Chicago, where we visited her family in Peoria.  I don't remember how many days it took.  The car attendants were so very kind.

Mealtimes were tightly regimented and announced by a man with a mini-xylophone going through the cars.  The dining cars were really luxurious, with heavy white linens and beautiful china and silverware, and fresh flowers on the tables.  Even as a child, I was impressed by the food, and could order things we never had at home.

While travelers were at dinner, as if by magic the car attendants would transform seats into single-width bunk beds with privacy drapes.  I was the luckiest because I always got the top berth and could watch the night landscape go by, feel the rocking of the train, and fall asleep to the clickety-clack of the wheels.

We traveled again by train when I was seven all the way to Mexico City and back.  The last time I took to the rails was in the early 1980s, a short hop from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles.  Boy, times had changed, and not necessarily for the better.  Sigh.

One of these days I'm going to have to go to the Railroad Museum and relive another trip in time...on a train.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


I always take my Kids' advice when they tout me to a particular television program because they know me pretty well.  I rarely return the favor for the same reason.  Somehow I can't imagine Dave being as enthralled with "Victoria" or "Downton Abbey" as I.  This week Pete suggested I might enjoy watching reruns of "Planet Earth"on the new, big TV screen and he was right.  The clarity and detail of marvelous photography is astounding in HD.  I've particularly enjoyed seeing the migration of birds and animals in this series.

Years ago I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Alaska and remember standing at the base of the Mendenhall Glacier in awe, looking at the colors, watching it periodically calve, and knowing that it was constantly on the move.  I'm watching something similar in the mirror now (hoping nothing will drop off).  My black eye is no longer black, fading to shades of purple with touches of yellow.  The swelling has gone from the upper lid to the lower and is also lessening, almost gone.  Like the Mendenhall, the colors are, however, on the move.  Gravity being what it is, they are migrating down my cheek.  Were it not my face, I might feel differently and I try not to take it personally.  It is pretty fascinating as I never know what I'm going to see every day.  I do wish I could just change channels and make it go away, all the same.

The temperature was dropping last evening when I put, or tried to put, the kids to bed.  Tessie pulled her "maybe I will" stunt and I was losing patience waiting for her in the cold.  She seems to have a sense of when I'm at the end of my tether and she finally gave in and came in.  Whew.  It's very probable she could get a whiff of Cheeky (Miss C, as I now think of her) who had tucked herself into a back stall, but it's up to those two to get along.  Neither is going to attack the other, and it's any port in a storm for both.

Rather than light a fire last night, the four of us huddled together under and on Deb's luxurious afghan in the chair.  Crowded, you bet, but warm.  It was good practice for when we all migrated down the hall together and took our self-assigned places in bed.

It's 28 degrees this morning.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Buttered Up

It's a wonder I don't go slipping and sliding through life (instead of bouncing off tables, etc.), Celeste has me so buttered up.  As mad as I was at her the other night, she cracks me up every morning.  Just as my routine is the same, she has one worked out, as well, and she follows her script to the letter.  I watch a bit of morning news after computer time, mainly to see the weather report, and she comes and sits on my lap and it begins.  "You're my favorite mom, Mom."  Uh huh.  The last thing I do before heading out to the barn is make a pit stop.  Celeste leads me down the hall and into the bathroom where she rubs constantly against my legs and assures me of her undying affection.  "You, Mom...only you."  Heading back to get my jacket, she carefully and vocally herds me toward the kitchen.  "This way, Mom.  That's right, you're doing good.  Right this way now," as she leads me toward the treat bag.  I will admit that, laughing at this lavish and wanton display, I weaken every day.  As I reach for the bag, she rubs her head against my hand in a final gesture and I am dismissed.  Celeste knows how to play me like a fine violin.

Both cats have a bedtime routine together in cold weather.  I always sleep on my side with one leg slightly drawn up in a figure 4.  When I settle in bed, Ralph and Celeste seem to play the current game of The Floor Is Lava (in this case, the blankets) as they leap into safety of the pocket of the configuration to snuggle.  This is a queen-size bed, but it might as well be a twin for all the room I get.  Turning over, as one does in the night, becomes a full-scale battle with two immovable objects who refuse to leave their warm nest.  If I do manage to change position, they immediately change sides and we start all over again.  One of Beau's favorite expressions when faced with the inevitable is, "Well, what can ya do?"  Sigh.

The predicted rain began after dark last night, but seems to have stopped this morning, at least Miss Bess wasn't wet when she came back in.  We're supposed to get snow sometime this week.  If it stays dry today, I may bring more wood to the porch.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Better Than Good

It wasn't just a good day yesterday, it was a great day!  There was time to get some chores done before my friend was due, and there was only one hiccup.  I'd left the vacuuming to last as always when company is coming.  It only makes sense because of Bessie's messes.  She brings in twigs and bits of leaves every time she comes into the house.  I had just started sweeping when I noted puffs of dust and trails of dirt left behind the vacuum.  Oh crum.  Now what?  I found a plugged hose, cleaned that out, and started again.  The problem only got worse, this time with clouds of dust spewing.  My efforts in dusting had certainly been an exercise in futility.  What I didn't have time for was a major overhaul on the machine, so put it away to deal with another day and hoped for the best.

I needn't have worried.  Tinka was more interested in my technicolor face than giving more than a glance at the house.  I had cleverly worn a purple top that was color coordinated with my shiner, which, by the way, is truly now purple and not black anymore.  It evidently had been some years since Tinka had been in Placerville, so I took us on a bit of a sightseeing tour on our way to the restaurant and she commented on how things had changed over time.  With rain looming in the forecast, we were given an absolutely perfect day for our outing.  We even saw bright patches of narcissus or daffodils on the way.

We talked and laughed all day.  I didn't get a chance to pull my joke on our waiter, who was a very, very serious young man.  Just as well.  I told Tinka my plan and she said if I did, she'd hit me and then I'd look like a raccoon.  Lunch was oh, so good, and I was delighted to find Crab Rangoon on the menu.  That is crab and cream cheese in a wonton wrapper and fried, and a favorite of mine for years.  Time flew by and we were still talking.

I count my friends by quality, not quantity, and I am so proud to call Tinka my friend.  Reluctantly, our day together came to an end.  It was a better than good day, it was excellent.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Going To Have Some Fun

The song in my head today is Harry Belafonte's 1957 song, "Mama Look'a Bubu."  It seems appropriate since "booboo" is a little kid's word for an "owie," and I have an outstanding booboo.  For the better part of a year, my friend Tinka and I had been saying that we needed to get together.  As it does, time passed and we did not meet.  A couple of weeks ago I called her and said, "Pick a date.  We are going to do this."  We agreed to meet for lunch...today.  I called her yesterday and gave her the opportunity to back out if she didn't want to be seen with the loser of a Muhammad Ali fight, but she's a game gal and didn't say no.  Tinka knows how I got the black eye, but no one else does.  I've been thinking all morning of what stories I could tell.  "My horse bucked me off at the rodeo."  There's always that lame one, "I walked into a door."  I think the best one I've come up with so far is to mutter to our waitress, "Don't make her mad."  We're going to have some fun today.

Thank goodness I'd replenished the birdseed because there was a turkey stampede to the feeding station in the morning and it could have turned ugly.  There had been a pretty good rainfall just before daybreak and then the clouds cleared and it turned into a lovely day.  Even so, it was a surprise to see blossoms popping out on the almond tree, but beautiful.  January is early for this, I think.

With the best of intentions, not much got done yesterday.  Aches and pains in places I didn't even know I had came to the fore and sat me in the chair.  I couldn't even feel guilty about taking another day off.  That was about the only thing I couldn't feel.

Regardless of anything else going on, the animals must be tended.  There is a sense of peace that comes when I'm putting the kids to bed, similar to when the Kids were little and I knew they were all safe each night.  Even Tessie was cooperative.  Who could not pause and give thanks with such a beautiful view?  Not me.

It's going to be a good day.