Monday, June 26, 2017

Sleeping In The Park

"The Window" is a movie made in 1949, starring Arthur Kennedy, Barbara Hale, and Bobby Driscoll.  I watched it on one of the really hot days recently.  I'm not going to give away the story line, but it involved a 9-year-old boy in a blue-collar family living in a tenement in New York.  I almost gasped as this kid played in abandoned buildings, went up on the rooftops, and with his parents' approval slept out on the fire escape on hot nights.  It most certainly was a different world in 1949.

The movie brought back memories of that different world, my world, in 1949.  My mother would tell of hot, humid summer nights in Peoria, living on the banks of the Illinois River, when the family would take mattresses out on the porch to sleep.  Reliving her memories, sometimes she and I would sleep outside in the backyard in summer, but what I remember best is when she, my sister and however many kids she had at the time (she had seven altogether) and I would take blankets and spend the night at Santa Anita Park, across the street from the racetrack.  My father never joined in these outings, trying to maintain some form of dignity, and saying, "Craziest thing I ever heard of."  The point of this is that in that day and age, women and children lived a life of freedom, without fear.  A great nephew once came for a visit here.  He was about nine years old then.  (He's now close to thirty and is a father.)  He stayed sitting in the house and bored, and I finally told him, "Go outside!  I'll pack a lunch for you.  Go climb a tree or something.  You can go anywhere as long as you can still see the house."  "Can I, really?"  Where he lived in southern California he was not allowed to even go into the front yard.  That's pitiful, but watching the news these days, it's the new reality.  Pete came up yesterday and we were talking about this, and he said, "Mom, when we were kids (1960-70s) we left the house in the morning and didn't come home until dark!"  It's true, and I wasn't worried.  My only caution to them was to "stay together."  Life may not have been perfect back in the "good old days," but it was a safer world.  I miss it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Days drag and time flies.  How does that happen?  We're just about through the sixth of a twelve-month year and it seems I just took down the Christmas tree.  Perhaps right now this is more apparent to me as I've definitely gone into slow motion, but the week has still zipped by.

Cooler again by another couple of degrees outside, I still can't get the inside of the house below 90.  To me, that is H. O. T. and I sit with spray bottle at hand.  There was the possibility of a little more air circulating in the barn with the window covers off.  Percy is making such a pest of himself as he pops up again and again on either side of the room.  I wish he were like his brethren who come into the big room and flatten themselves like pancakes, arms and legs splayed like flying squirrels, trying to get cool in the shade.  They have the courtesy to wait until I leave to raid the stash.

Bessie Anne went to her pool four times yesterday and came back in dripping wet to throw herself on the hearth.  Oh well, it needed mopping anyhow.

Speaking of mopping and relatives, it was with great pleasure that I learned that one of Steve's cousins (oh, for goodness sake, after thirty years I think they're my cousins, too) is coming tomorrow for a visit.  The kitchen needs mopping.  Yup, I'll get right on that.  Luckily, I have two spray bottles so Sandy and I won't have to battle over custody of the one.

Cam has been taking care of Beau's animals while the family has gone for the weekend, and since she drives right by my place she stops in for a late afternoon chat.  There wasn't a hint of breeze all day yesterday, so thinking it would be cooler out on the deck was wishful thinking.  We watched several bands of tom turkeys march by below.  These birds are huge, and they walk with such dignity.  There is a big pot out by the chicken pen that is filled with water for the wild things.  Every day now it is nearly empty by morning.  Vultures line the rim of the goat trough to get a drink.

I'd best get moving, or this day will get away from me whether I'm in slow motion or not.  It's all relative.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Go Soak Your Head

"Oh, go soak your head," used to be the final harrumph in an argument; for me, it's a way of life.  Going down to and coming back up from the barn morning or evening, while topping off the water trough I'll literally soak my head and arms with the hose.  I stand in the sprinkler as I try to keep the herb garden alive.  When watering the deck plants, every few feet I'll turn the nozzle to 'mist' and stand under the spray.  My latest and best innovation is a spray bottle, and I wish I'd thought of it many summers ago.  It was a degree or two cooler outside yesterday, but still 90 in the house.  The ceiling fan does its best to stir the air, but it's not really effective, and there were no breezes outside.  Spritzing a mist at my face and neck periodically while in the house is instantly cooling.  It might not last long, so this is repeated throughout the day.  I probably look like a drowned rat, but I truly don't care.  Mr. Happy, the weatherman, joyfully proclaims this is the third longest stretch of heat since 19-umpty and seems almost sad that it may be coming to an end.  One can only hope.  Sorry, Mr. Happy.

I had planned to join Steve's family at the annual reunion this weekend as it is down in Angels Camp this year, not so very far away.  Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, nieces, nephews, cousins, and a gaggle of kidlets come from near and far.  It is always a time of camaraderie, games, contests, costumes, and good food.  I would have so enjoyed seeing everyone for an afternoon, but my rib continues to give me fits and tells me I'm not going to be driving any distance in the near future.  Sigh.

I've got to devise some sort of holster for the spray bottle so I can take it to the barn.  That's the plan.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Haute Couture

(After yesterday, that should be "hot" couture.)

I am widely known as a fashionista, dressing daily in duds designed and created by the premiere house of farm fashion, Dickies.  Pockets galore, durable fabric, always of a color that never goes out of style.  There are, however, a couple of tips I can give to anyone who wishes to follow my lead and wear bibbies (otherwise known as overalls).

1)  The designers seem to feel that if you buy a set of bibbies large enough to fit your derriere, you must be seven feet tall and they make the legs accordingly.  This will require an industrial-strength sewing machine to shorten or many, many turns of the cuff, creating the perfect place to store foxtails, bits of alfalfa, and a pound of dust/dirt.  Caution:  always empty the cuffs before washing bibbies.

2)  Straps on bibbies are adjustable.  There is a sort of mechanism by which they can be shortened for those of us who are vertically challenged.  Be forewarned.  The straps tend to readjust by themselves, and they're pretty sneaky.  You may not realize this until you see that your pants legs are dragging on the ground (filling the cuffs) or that the crotch is down around your knees.  Consider this a word to the wise.

Regardless of these drawbacks, I heartily recommend bibbies as probably the most comfortable britches out there with no waistline to bind as you sit to milk, loose enough to let air circulate in the heat, and they do wear like iron.

One-hundred in the shade and 90 degrees in the house.  I carried a spray bottle with me all day and frequently used it on myself and Bessie Anne (the cats were in hiding).  I had put in a call to Helper Dude to take the covers off the windows in the barn, something I've always done without thinking twice, but my rib told me in no uncertain terms not to try it this time.  Unfortunately, HD cannot come until next week and I didn't want the girls to suffer through the night.  I mentioned this dilemma to Camille and, bless her heart, she came in the afternoon to do this for me and the goats.  It was a ten-minute chore that will make all the difference in the world now that any puff of air can come through the windows for a little relief.

We then retired to the shade on the deck for a cold drink and a nice chat.  Heat or no heat, it was a good day.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peaks And Valleys

Highs and lows, peaks and is full of ups and downs.  For whatever reason, all of my current aches and pains were worse yesterday and laid me low.  Everybody fed, milked, and watered and I was down for the rest of the day.  Hurting like crazy doesn't do much for morale, either, and I had my own little pity party.  This prolonged heat had gotten to the chickens, too.  I hadn't picked up an egg in days.  I sure didn't blame them; I wouldn't have wanted to sit in a dark corner in a hot coop and be productive, either.

The house was littered with cats and dog stretched out on tiles and hearth, only changing places to find a cooler spot.  Boy, it didn't take Bessie Anne long to get with the program.  A couple of times yesterday she'd give a little whine.  "What?  Do you want to go in your pool?"  She would immediately go to the door and when I opened it, she'd run (the fastest she'd moved all day) to the water.  When she steps in, I pour water over her back and completely soak her down.  Dripping, Bess gets out.  I can judge her level of heat discomfort by how vigorously she shakes it off.  Yesterday she was a hot dog and there was hardly a twitch.  Wet dog doesn't do much for carpet or furniture, but her comfort is more important.  I feel bad that I can't bend over long enough to clip off her heavy winter coat just yet.

As they do, these things pass.  By nightfall I could walk upright and put the kids to bed.  There were even four eggs in the coop.  The weatherman is going to be happy today as the temp is supposed to break records(!), peaking well into triple digits, and then start on a downhill slope to mid 90s.  I'm moving much better this morning.  I'm ready for an "up."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Well Done

I will admit that I've been dragging my feet getting down to the goats these past mornings.  Just the thought of walking into that heat-shimmering sauna slows me down.  The girls seem to handle the temperatures with equanimity, but I want to make sure they have access to water and that can only happen when they're let out.  As Steve would say on an occasion when I might whine, "They're your toys.  You wanted them."  Yes I did, and I do.  A waiter might ask, "How would you like your steak, madam?  Rare, medium or well done?"  I prefer rare, but I am well done through and through after barn chores these days.

Cracked rib, sore bum, and mammogram are three things that should never be in the same sentence together.  Enough said.

Home again and back into bibbies and knowing I was done for the day, I invited Arden over.  She accepted and we sat out on the deck in the shade to catch any errant breeze that might come our way.  Bess lay panting under the table, so we took her over to the wading pool for a cooling dip.  It's a small pool and would have been crowded with three, but it was tempting.

There are good days, bad days, and those days when just getting through gets a "Well done."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Don't Ask

I never cared much for The Three Stooges, but was fond of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  Stan had a familiar line that went, "Now you've done it, Olly."  I've been saying that line to myself quite frequently of late.  The night after cracking the rib, after putting the kids to bed, a stick rolled under my foot and I landed hard on my backside.  Now it's hard to stand, move, and sit.  Today I have to drive into town for a mammogram.  I'm sure not going to ask, "What next?"

Turk now runs up to within a couple of feet from me and we go down to the feeding station together.  If I were so inclined, I'll bet I could have him eating out of my hand.

I think Percy has quit paying the vig to the goats because they've stopped tipping their bowl and dropping feed in the one spot I can't see.  Percy pops up on one side, then the other, trying to raid the mice's cereal.  Squirrels have really pretty, liquid brown eyes, but I swear Percy gets an evil glint as I squirt and swat.  Mice have lovely manners.  They chose a morsel and either take it away, or sit and eat it neatly, holding it with both hands (er, paws), and wipe their mouth when it's gone.  Squirrels cram everything into their mouth at one time, leaving nothing for the next guy.  Percy and I could get along if he'd only learn to share.

I took Bess out on the deck to go wading the other afternoon, thinking the water would be warm enough.  It's a good thing I tested it with my hand first.  If she'd stepped in, she'd have been a boiled hot dog!  That water was hot!  We tried it again yesterday, but waited until the pool had been in the shade for awhile.  That worked.

I really want to slap the weatherman.  He gets so excited as he points to his graphs and tables, "We're going to beat the record for the most consecutive days over 100 degrees (in the valley)!"  Or for the highest temp for such-and-such a date.  I have no interest in breaking records.  I just want to know when this heat wave will come to an end.  Yesterday morning it was not only hot, but humid, too, and that created the condition for dry thunder storms and the thunder rolled for more than an hour.  That sets the stage for fires, and we were lucky to avoid them so far.

Sleep is my panacea for pain and/or heat.  I've been doing a lot of that lately.