Thursday, September 21, 2017

On Hold

Two days ago I put three things to accomplish on the board; I have yet to cross off even one.  A trip to town always puts a crimp in my ambition (excuse #1).  Yesterday was bill-paying day.  Before I could start, I discovered a significant discrepancy in my check register.

Math is not and never has been my forte.  Knowing this, I took a dumbbell math class my freshman year in high school, none my sophomore year, and then transferred to a boarding school where four years of mathematics were required for graduation.  Well, that was a pickle.  The school decided that three years would suffice and they put me in Sister Mary Louise's algebra class.  I don't think that was the cause, but I came down with an illness and spent eight out of the first fifteen days of school in Miss Frith's infirmary and missed the basics of algebra and never caught up.  At the end of the year, Sr. Louise gave me the lowest grade possible without failing me entirely and the school decided that, for me, two years of math were enough.  I'm pretty sure Sr. Louise convinced them just so she wouldn't have to deal with me further.  Years later when I was in college, I took several basic math classes, but when it comes to numbers I have a Teflon brain and nothing sticks.

At any rate, it took hours to go back months and recalculate to find my numerical error before even starting to pay bills.  It had been overcast and cold(!) all day.  Nature really flipped the switch on weather.  A week ago it was well into the 90s; yesterday it barely reached 70 outside and a jacket was mandatory in the house. 

Hoping that the long wait times had been a fluke, I called my home buyer's insurance company with the intent of putting in a complaint and then cancelling my policy.  They weren't the only game in town and could be replaced.  I outsmarted Ms. Snotty, the robo-voice, by choosing "Pay bills," knowing that a real person would be there, eager to take money.  Ha!  Not so "ha," as it took three transfers and two and a half hours on hold to reach a supervisor.  Whoever called me stubborn doesn't know the half of it.  It became a challenge and I don't like to lose.  Thank goodness for wireless phones.  I had time and was able to go to the bathroom, heat and eat a dinner of leftovers, watch TV, let the dog out and back in any number of times, and wait, and wait, and wait.

Let's just say I was locked and loaded by the time Supervisor Charles came on the line.  Had Charles been anything but calm, apologetic, and placatory, I would have hit him with both barrels.  As it was, he explained that the company was dealing with the aftermath of the two hurricanes in a number of states and the claims that were pouring in.  He listened when I questioned the lack of service companies under contract in our area, and being told I had to find one on my own.  He agreed that no technician would sit on hold for an hour waiting for authorization, and said they were working to rectify the problem.  In the end, Charles would reimburse me for the cost of the fan and gave me his email address for any future complaints.  Since a number of appliances are over twenty years old, I decided to maintain my policy.  Just shows what a good rep can do.

Oh, about six o'clock last evening, it started to rain!  It's a good thing I'd rinsed off the truck before going to town or it would have been a muddy mess.  The girls were more than eager to get inside at bedtime and made that job a lot easier.

Since life as I know it was put on hold yesterday, I have things to do today

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


The coming of fall and cooler weather brings a new set of chores.  Things that had been left undone or done less often must be caught up.  During the extreme heat it wasn't worth my life to stay in the barn and clean stalls every day, so I had my work cut out for me yesterday after milking.  I made my apologies to the girls.  The leaf blower is charging now, so I know what the job will be today.  I've promised myself to stay ahead on that this year.  Or not.

It was cool enough to sit at the sunny end of the deck in the morning for a change.  The garlic chives (the only plants that Robert and Bobby haven't destroyed) are almost through blooming, but the bees still visit the flowers.  I wonder, as always, if orange blossom honey tastes of orange and lavender honey comes from those plants, what does garlic honey taste like?  Eeeuw.  The naked ladies (pink amaryllis) under the oak are also fading now.  They're always such a surprise, springing up out of plain dirt without benefit of green leaves.  Those will come later.

Like it or not, a trip to town for supplies was on the menu yesterday.  It was the first time in months that I didn't need the a/c in the truck and I didn't melt into the pavement as I made my stops.  Halloween candy on the shelves at Wally World was expected.  I've been checking the nursery section periodically, looking for African violets to replace those that, after all these years, succumbed to the heat and died this summer.  What I did not expect was to see Christmas trees in that department.  I think that's pushing the season a bit.  A shipment of violets had just come in and I bought two.  They are such happy flowers.

Cruising the aisles (it makes me a crazy person when stores change the shelves around and I can't go directly where things used to be), the thought of jambalaya came to me and Zatarain's makes a well-seasoned rice base.  Shrimp and kielbasa were also available.  It's definitely more fun to cook for and eat with someone, so I called Cam.  She'd been cleaning her barn all day and was ready for dinner; she was here in half an hour.

The seasons are definitely changing.  Six o'clock and no sign of dawn yet.  Sitting in a robe instead of sweltering is a welcome change.  I can deal with that.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Looking Rosy

If it looks like I'm blushing, I'm not.  That rosy tinge comes from another day of dicing a mountain of tomatoes and making another batch of marinara sauce.  I will be so glad to have those bags of sauce in the freezer this winter, but right now I think that if I see Beau pull up with another gift of those red globes I will lock the door and hide.

The first thing I saw in the morning was two young doelings on the slope down to the woods.  Too big to be called fawns, but still petite, they looked enough alike to possibly be twins.  In nearly twenty years, I have never tired of seeing deer on the property.

Turk is getting braver and braver.  He used to hide behind the tree when I called his name and just peek around the edge.  Now he waits up on the bird feeder platform or on the ground where he knows I throw the seed, doesn't run away at all, and even looks me in the eye before starting his breakfast as if to say thank you.

If I was going to have to spend time in the kitchen, at least this time the weather cooperated.  It was cool, bordering on chilly, with overcast skies most of the day.  In fact, I closed doors last night that haven't been shut in months.

Remnants of clouds made for a spectacular rosy sunset, another view from Farview that never fails to take my breath away.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Home Front

I have few overnight guests anymore, but I do like to keep the room ready just in case.  Ralph rearranges the bed to suit himself.  Let's just say we have differing views on how to make it neat and tidy.  Mother's little helper isn't helping.

I stopped at Cam's on the way to the store yesterday.  She has a fence line of grape vines and is overloaded with these very small but oh-so-sweet, what seem to be Thompson seedless.  She's not sure of the variety.  She has shared with me in the past and I was more than happy to take some (okay, a lot).

Ingredients for egg fu yung looked particularly fresh and good at the store so even though they weren't on my list, they went into the cart.  Camille had said she'd bought pork chops, so when I got home I called and told her we could combine and I'd cook dinner (after NASCAR, of course) and she accepted.  My meat thermometer was on the blink and the chops were overdone, but the veg pancakes made up for that.

Most of the day was spent just futzing around.  All quiet on the home front.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Different View

Cats are such quirky critters.  Celeste evidently wanted a different view of Farview yesterday.  She lay on her back, eyes open, adjusting her position now and then and looking at her world upside down.  How I wish we had better communication.  What was she thinking?

When it was so hot I put throw blankets on both recliners.  It was necessary because sitting on the faux leather for even a short while made your backside sweaty, most unpleasant.  The cats avoided the bare chairs, but now have reclaimed one for themselves.  Ralph, especially, curls up often in the big chair for naps.  He's another one with whom I'd like to have a conversation.  For no apparent reason, he'll occasionally walk through the hall, talking up a storm.  Last evening, he woke from a nap and began to talk...about what?  Did he have a bad dream?  Where is Dr. Doolittle when I need him?

Stump is apparently training Rhonda as a stand-in sentry.  Rhonda was at the station, assuming the upright position.  Raymond declined the responsibility.  Since these little creatures are, at most, maybe eight inches tall, their view must be fairly limited, but they take their job very seriously.  I'm pleased that loudmouth Shaddup has moved from his place so close to the house and out to one of the granite boulders in the front yard.  At least his high-pitched yip isn't as piercing at a distance.

The cool(er) weather continues.  Yay!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

For The Birds

There are few birds more graceful in the sky than vultures.  They are so impressive when they assume the regal heraldic pose with wings spread while sitting on a post.  However, they become awkward and comedic when they try to perch on the power lines.  Like a beginner tightrope walker, the big birds teeter back and forth, trying to balance and not lose their grip.  They're not always successful, but sure are fun to watch.  More and more are arriving daily, gathering for the migration east, and there aren't enough posts to perch on.  Twenty-plus are sitting in the tree over the barn every morning now, and there were nearly fifty circling on the thermals yesterday.

Grape growers put high fences around their property to keep deer out of the vineyards.  I'm glad they finally gave up on the sound cannons that boomed so loud in the morning.  I think the deer got used to the noise and ignored it; I never did.  The growers are still losing grapes, though, and I know who the culprits are; turkeys.  The grapes must be close to harvest time because I find grape skins in turkey scat everywhere these days.  Turkeys roost 50-60 feet up in the trees at night, so an 8-foot fence means nothing to them.  I'm sure the little birds steal their share, too, ignoring the fluttering strips of Mylar some growers string up.

Shhh!  I don't want to jinx it, but I think fall has arrived.  It never got out of the low 70s yesterday, and even lower temps are predicted for this week.  Nature could be teasing us, but I'm sure enjoying this weather now.  It was cool enough to hang laundry on the line and warm enough to dry even the bibbies.  A good portion of the day was spent peeling and cutting the big butternut squash.  They make you work for your dinner with their tough, hard skin and firm flesh.  This squash was really large and I was able to bag and freeze most of it.  The rest made a luscious dinner.

I waited until I was sure Ralph was asleep in the living room before putting clean sheets on the bed, but somehow he knew and came in for a rousing game of hide-and-seek and chase the wrinkles.  Crazy cat.  For the first time in a long time I put the blanket back on the bed, and this morning in the dark Ralph crawled into the cat cave to snuggle by my belly.

It was a good day.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Grey Day...Yay!

After what seemed like interminable days of heat, a misty morning was a most welcome sight.  (Remind me of this when I'm wondering if we'll ever see the sun again this winter.)  It was a pleasure to put on a work shirt over a tank top even before going to the barn, it was that cool.  The girls were feeling pretty frisky, too.  Ironically, after giving that good advice yesterday, when I brought Sheila around, she dropped a load of raisinettes on the stand.  She must have peed in her stall and I didn't get the warning.  There were four frantic mousies in the grain barrel.  Back in the day, there were small hand-held games with a number of BBs to try to put in little holes.  Trying to capture those mice with a yogurt cup as they raced around was a lot like that game.  I eventually caught three to toss out and the fourth tried to burrow in and hide.  That one I picked up by the tail.  I don't have to leave home to find amusement.

Beau, the local vegetable pusher, came by and talked me into another basket of tomatoes (I see more marinara coming) and a big butternut squash.  As I told him, I love butternut squash and have in the past made squash risotto, or at least thought about it at times.  The problem is that when the caramelized squash comes out of the oven, I eat it before getting around to starting the rice.  How very nice it is to have a generous neighbor with a garden.

The sun did break through, but the breeze continued throughout the day, and that shirt felt good again at sundown.  It was a good day.