Friday, January 31, 2014

'S Wonderful

George and Ira Gershwin's tune "'S Wonderful" was the wake-up song of the day.  The irony is that today is not 's wonderful, nor was yesterday.  The two "I" words to be avoided when living alone are illness and injury.  Must have twisted wrong when unloading goat chow from the truck the other day because that cracked rib from some months ago flared up.  It wasn't too bad until I reached out to grab Tessie's collar in the morning and almost dropped to my knees.  The rest of the day was a total loss.  Poor Bess; I scared her repeatedly as I'd bellow when hit by a stab of pain.  So far, so good today; it's manageable (until I cough).  I'm worried, however, as I've got to get one of those bags of chow down to the barn this morning.  I am such a whiner; Pete, who had open-heart surgery, and Dave, who had such a terrible motorcycle accident, never complained.  Only me.  It will be one foot in front of the other, albeit slowly, today.  I'm sure tomorrow's entry will be more upbeat, along the lines of "'S Wonderful."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dream World

For some inexplicable reason, I usually wake up with some song playing in my head.  For the past two mornings it has been Maurice Chevalier singing "The Night They Invented Champagne."  Not a bad way to wake up, regardless of what is playing.  Recently I informed my son that he needed to buy a lottery ticket.  I dreamed he had won $69,000.  The dream was very specific; in that dream world I had double checked the figure, thinking that it should have been a million or a half-million, but no, it was exactly $69,000.  He hasn't won yet, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

We in NorCal have been dreaming of rain for months.  I called my friend Dolly to thank her for finally granting our wish yesterday.  Dolly is our resident rain-maker and she's been falling down on the job.  There had been a few spits now and then in the morning with the promise of more later, so Bess and I made a quick trip to the feed store to replenish supplies for the girls.  Sure enough, shortly after our return there was a steady, light rain for the rest of the day.  Heavy rain was predicted during the night, but I didn't hear it and it's too dark yet to see if that prediction was fulfilled.

It was the strangest thing.  Rain or shine, it has always been Bessie Anne's habit to lie outside the fence line of the goat pen the entire time while I'm milking.  In the last few days before Pearl died, I watched as Bess headed away very purposefully, not ambling as she does, and wondered what she was up to.  I would find her waiting on the porch, eager to get back into the house as if to check on her friend.  Yesterday, with Pearl gone, Bessie stayed at her post by the pen.  She'd said her goodbyes.

Steve and I suffered when Dogie died, and he said he didn't ever want to go through that again.  I lasted two months without a dog at my side before he relented and we found my dear girl, Bessie Anne.  This house is too empty with just Bess and me rattling around.  She and I, best friends that we be, are lonely without the comedy relief of cats.  I've started checking local adoption centers online.  Gadzooks, the price of adoption has gone up!  Of course, it includes spay/neuter and shots, but I want two kittens and that's going to put a hole in the budget.  The centers also will not let tiny kitties go, so the kittens they offer are nearing a year old.  Kathy V. advised that I not advertise the fact that I'm looking or cats will be dropped off here by the carload.  It would be impossible to replace Frank and Pearl, but I dream of filling the empty spot they left in my lap and my heart with other kittens.  Thanks to everyone who sent kind words.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Acts of kindness are gifts.  As has been noted, I'm not exactly appearance oriented but I did notice my hair had taken on the look of a full-blown dandelion and needed a trim.  Candy, owner-operator of Shear Serenity, is used to my erratic ways and cries of "Save me!" after a long absence.  She gave me the last appointment of the day and then invited me to have a glass of wine and a chat that was more than the pleasantries of hairdresser and client.  That was a gift of time and friendship and was thoroughly enjoyed.

Leaving her shop and ready to get in the truck, I noticed a car with several young men a short distance away and was taken aback when one of them called out to me.  "You have yourself a fine rest of the day, Ma'am!"  Not used to being addressed in such a way by strangers, I assumed they were all just in high spirits and feeling good, so yelled back, "And I hope you have one, too!"  I thought no more of it and got into the truck, and so was startled when the man who had spoken appeared at my window.  "You don't remember me, do you?"  I admitted I did not, frantically searching my mental files for an identity.  "I used to milk your goats," he said.  Again, I could not make a connection.  I would have remembered a tall, good-looking, clean-cut boy-man such as he.  "I'm Stephen!"  Oh good grief, he had been a little boy when he came with his mother to my farm and went with me down to the barn and I'd seen him only a few times since then and that was years ago.  I got out of the truck and this gentle soul gave me a big hug and we talked for a short while.  He's almost out of high school now.  His friends had waited patiently for him, and we parted ways.  One, I was surprised that he would recognize me and remember what was an insignificant moment, and (2) that a teenager would take the time to speak to an old lady (I know; that was a judgement call I had no right to make).  I'm still smiling.

I hurried through a few errands, worried about leaving Pearl and wanting to get home.  Leaving groceries on the counter, I gathered her up and sat again with her on my lap.  She had waited for me.  Pearl took her last breaths as I stroked her soft fur...and it was done.  I called Bessie Anne over to say goodbye.  I didn't want her to think Pearl had simply vanished as Frank had.  Animals also grieve at a loss and they understand death.  Bess nosed her all over and then turned away.  The rest of the evening Bessie sat in my lap as if to fill that empty place.

It was a day full of gifts.  It was a good day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Force

"Do not go gentle into that good night...," wrote Dylan Thomas.  Time after time I have been astounded and impressed by the power of the life force within even the smallest animals and birds.  An old hen will get a certain look and I know her time has come, but it might take days before she'll "give up the ghost."  The young wether, Nineteen, and I stayed by the old doe Lucy as she rallied again and again until she lay down one last time.

Pearl, my don't-pet-me cat, blossomed and came into her own after Frank left us and, with Bessie, formed the third of our new trio.  Where Bess and I went, Pearl followed or ran ahead, doing her famous "catfish flop."  Pearl of the broken squeaker, she who rarely spoke, became vocal and a regular Chatty Cathy.  She slid immediately into the empty spot left by Frank as Bessie's best friend, sharing a chair or sunny spot on the floor and cuddling up to the dog.  Frank, handsome with his blue eyes and forceful personality, had overshadowed his petite, shy, tabby sister.  About a month ago Pearl began to decline, evident in small ways at first, but steadily weakening, showing no evidence of pain.  She seems to take comfort from sitting in my lap and so for the past week I've accomplished little because I've sat with Pearl for hours during the day, and carry her to be next to me on the bed at night.  I've also taken comfort from being with my little friend as she goes on her next journey.  Surely she cannot live one more day, and yet she lingers in the grip of that powerful life force.  Bessie and I will miss Pearl terribly, but I wish she could just close her eyes now and "go gentle into that good night."

Monday, January 27, 2014


I've told the story of mysterious tapping at the windows on my first dark rainy night here alone, how I went from room to room with beating heart trying to catch those who would play such a mean trick, and how I found out it was just big, bumbling pine beetles brought out by moisture and drawn by light.

Yesterday morning, just after first light, I heard footsteps.  It sounded like someone or something was tromping on the deck, but looking out every window I saw no one and nothing.  The steps would stop, and then start again.  Bess affirmed that it wasn't my imagination.  It was a little unnerving.

Going out for a walkabout, as is my morning wont, I noticed a number of turkeys high in the oak.  These guys have to be fifty or more feet off the ground, and there were many more waiting below for breakfast.  (Note the clumps of dreaded mistletoe.)

Then I heard footsteps again.  These three hens were part of a dozen or more turkeys on my roof!  They'd been running back and forth up there since sunup.  The mystery of the phantom footsteps was solved, but I'm left to wonder the why of it.  Whatever possessed these birds to get up there in the first place?  If unusual behavior earns a creature a place on the totem pole, then I guess turkeys hold that title here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pie In Your Face

Stepping into my living room is like stepping into a time warp.  With piles of gaily wrapped presents and a small tree (with a couple of decorations), it still looks like Christmas is about to happen.  There are also birthday presents, and I'm not sure whether they are for this year or from last year.  Having Christmas in stages as the players appear does extend the holiday, but when I have to start dusting packages and ribbons it's time to do something.  I have hatched a plot.  Given schedules and distance, the family doesn't often get together for birthdays.  Craig lucks out because his is either within a day or two of or on Thanksgiving.  Deb's is in the middle of summer and coming up here in the heat would be a punishment, not a pleasure.  Pete, whose birthday is in April, is in southern California and the best we northerners can do is wave in his general direction.  Larry, Dave, and Clay clump together in January and February, and therein lies the plot.  I'm coordinating a date for a Birthday Pie-Fest!  (I'm not above bribery.)  All I had to do to lure Dave was say "homemade butterscotch," and he took the bait.  We are all pie lovers and much prefer pie over cake any day.  Deb's favorite is buttermilk pie, and Craig gets very possessive of pecan pie.  My personal delight is lemon meringue.  I'm waiting to hear what Larry would like (I'm guessing apple), and Clay - well, Clay says it is cook's choice.  I recently saw a recipe for a cappuccino ice-cream pie, just for something different, but then there's always the very decadent Banoffee.  It will mean a few days in the kitchen to please everyone, but it's worth it to see the Kids again.  What kind of mother serves her children nothing but pie(s) for dinner?  The kind who wants to clear Christmas out of her living room.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Just A Suggestion

Julia (the kitchen phone) announced, "Call from Linda _________."  I'm not kidding!  The telephones act like a personal butler/maid and tell me verbally who is on the line.  Cracks me up!

In the course of our conversation, Linda suggested I might need to change my totem from the lizard (dream world) to a bird, seeing that so many visit Farview and behave so out of the ordinary.  The problem is, which bird?  I'm particularly impressed with the vultures who line the pens on posts and wires; their lesson is "waste not, want not."  The little hummers teach one to drink deeply of joy when and where it comes (even though or perhaps because they quarrel amongst themselves continually).  Turkeys tell of harvest and blessings.  Chickens, commonplace little critters, represent sexuality.  Crows speak of change and awareness.  Generically, birds are survivalists.  I'm not opposed to adopting a new totem, one with wings, but I'd like to be more specific.  I suppose if one can change from lizard to bird totem, one wouldn't be locked in to a particular species, but I don't want to offend if one type of bird has chosen me.  And what about the falcon (patience), hawk (spiritual communication), and sparrows (self-worth)?  There is such a variety of birds, each in great numbers, here at Farview.  If choice depended strictly on unusual behavior, I guess I'd have to pick turkeys; those turkeys peeping in my window are certainly out of the ordinary.  I am reminded daily of the many blessings in my life.  One could do worse than having a turkey totem.  Move over, lizard; make way for a turkey.

Friday, January 24, 2014


It is the season of crows and blackbirds.  Every nearby tree and wire is filled with these noisy birds, all yelling at the top of their lungs.  I've often wished for a translator; the crows in particular definitely have an extensive vocabulary and I'd love to know what they're saying.  The temperature took a dive yesterday, enough that I shut the front door and lit the wood stove as a cloud cover moved in.  The almond tree in the old orchard has burst into blossom and the forsythia on the deck is full of yellow flowers, both way too early in this pseudo spring.  Sure enough, the breeze kicked into overdrive in the afternoon and became a very strong wind without direction.  It blew one way and then another and it seemed prudent for me to move the deck furniture for protection before the wind moved it into the yard.  Groups of small birds with a strong tailwind zipped past the windows like squadrons of fighter jets.  It is always the crows who get the most fun on a windy day.  They launch from tall branches and spread their wings to go parasailing where the wind takes them, swooping, turning, rising higher and higher in the airstream.  This behavior seems to have no purpose other than carefree play.

The wind blew most of the night.  It's still dark so I don't know if any of the tree or bush flowers survived.  I don't hear any wind at the windows, so I guess playtime is over for the crows.

Wouldn't you just know that I got a phone call yesterday and missed it?  Worse yet, my friend texted me down in the barn to tell me I'd missed it.  Fortunately, I did get to hear Gammy play the Valkyrie song later in the day.  The caller wanted to know why I answered the phone laughing.  Phone time is now my playtime.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Umbrella

When my Kids were very small, one Child (who shall remain nameless) wanted an umbrella more than anything.  Child must have been under the influence of Winnie the Pooh, because Southern California is not known for excessive rainfall and Pooh's red umbrella must have been the only one seen in our locale.  Regardless, going from store to store, I finally found an umbrella and presented it to a very happy Kid.  Then, as Dave says, depression set in.  Child sat in the house on dry, sunny days, looking out the window with umbrella in hand, waiting.  Child turned to me and said, "Mama, wouldn't you think God could make it rain for a little kid with a brand-new umbrella?"  Well, Santa has helper elves and God has helper mothers.  I took Child outside, put the sprayer on the hose, and watched delighted Child parade around under "rain" pattering on the umbrella.

While I may not leave the house often, I lead a pretty active phone life and often need "call waiting."  There have been times when I've had two conversations going and then my cell phone will ring (no, really!).  Here I am now with thirteen phones with all sorts of bells and whistles and music.  Do you think I got even one call yesterday?  I did not.  Sigh.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rush Hour

I got caught in stop-and-go rush-hour traffic yesterday.  It was awful.  The trash barrel was full after Christmas - The Sequel, and I had to get down to the big road before Trash Guy came.  First off, I had no more than pulled out of my driveway (after carefully looking both ways) when there were oncoming headlights.  Our little dirt road is too narrow for cars to pass and there are few places wide enough, but I pulled over and waited for Chinn to go by.  (After sixteen years here, I don't know if the man has another name; all I know is that he lives farther up the hill and drives a little red truck.  We keep ourselves to ourselves.)  After dropping off the barrel and picking up the mail, I had to wait for another car turning off the big road before I could turn around.  Two in one morning!  And then I hit gridlock.  Going back up the hill and just before I reached my drive, still another car was coming down.  With big ditches on either side of the road, that car was going to have to give ground so I flashed my beams and kept coming; vehicles going uphill have the right of way.  Car waited until the very last minute to back up.  It backed up so as to block my drive, even though I had my turn blinker on.  At that moment, another vehicle came barreling down to the "intersection" and, obviously unused to a situation like this, wasn't going to stop.  Brakes squealed, dust flew, and the three of us sat there, engines running, while car Number One decided it would have to move back a little more to clear the way before road rage took over.  A potentially bad situation was averted and we all went on our way.  I'm sure glad trash day is just once a week.  I'll leave earlier next Tuesday to avoid the rush-hour traffic.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Hear Music

I had just scratched the surface of what the new phones can do.  A little more time with the instruction manual last night revealed, among other nifty features, that I could change the ring tone.  Not just the ring; I had a choice of at least ten different signals.  For the time being, I've chosen "Ride Of The Valkyries," and can't wait until I get the next call.  For those who might be concerned, I've placed one of the orphan wireless phones next to the computer and named it Bill (for a pretty obvious reason).  Being chided yesterday for lack of imagination regarding Living Room, after some cogitation I have rechristened the phone by my chair Gammy.

Gammy was the live-in grandmother in The Egg And I who kept all manner of goodies and necessities in her bed.  It's really me who should be named Gammy as the table to the right of my chair is covered with anything and everything I might need or want without having to get up, but then I've usually got an animal or two in my lap and so feel justified in doing that.  Regardless, Gammy now sits nestled amongst the cup filled with pens, pencils, crochet hooks, sock knitting needles, nail files, and two pairs of little scissors, a square container with important odds and ends of who knows what, a paperback book, a small notepad on which I can write telephone numbers without names which I will never use because I won't remember to whom they relate, an unfinished beading project that I might finish someday, a pair of Dollar Store reading glasses, and a whole lot of et cetera.  (I will not address the contents of the table to my left at this time.)  The new Gammy is a slim little thing and it's a good thing she has a loud voice or she could get lost in the crowd.  Renamed, I know where she belongs.

Ohmigosh!  I just discovered, because I was curious and checked with Bill, that each of the five phones can be set to have its own ringer setting.  I think I would either get hysterical with laughter or go mad as a March hare if they were all set to different music.  I will have to give this serious thought.  For now, Gammy will be odd man out with the Valkyries.  Too much change at one time isn't good for a person.

That leaves one phone still homeless and unnamed.  To be continued.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Highfalutin Fowl

My hens are eating high on the hog.  Cam called early in the morning (I answered on one of my new phones!).  Crab feeds are very popular fund raisers around here and Camille volunteers at those held at the local wineries.  She had participated the night before and had brought home a big bag of crab shells (plate scrapings) for her chickens and wanted to share some with mine.  I wasn't about to deprive my little girls and, of course, said yes.  Those hens dove into the mountain of crab like they were "to the manor born" and had dined on fresh crab all their lives.  Bess and I watched from outside the pen and salivated.  By nightfall, only a few shards of the hardest shells were left and the chickens waddled in to bed.  They'll probably expect Beef Wellington today.

I discovered that one of the features of the new phones is that each one of the five can be "named," the intent being that they can be replaced on their individual base.  I think it is quite nice to develop a personal relationship with one's appliances.  The one by my chair is just prosaic "living room," but the phone in my bathroom (isn't that just the height of luxury?) is named John and Julia is in the kitchen.  There are two unnamed wireless orphans waiting for homes.  I don't want to disorient the poor things by making a hasty decision about placement and having to move (and rename) them later.  There are three telephones downstairs already and two land-line phones upstairs and the two replacement phones I had just purchased.  Add in the five new phones and when a call comes in, it sounds like a three-alarm at the fire station; bells are going off everywhere!  Then the cell phone in my pocket chimes in.  Deb and I were struck by the same thought at the same time:  Steve would be in seventh heaven.  He's the one who put in so many phone lines in the first place and felt the same way about televisions.  At one time we had five TVs.  With two refrigerators and two full-size freezers, I used to call him the ultimate consumer.  Thirteen phones for one person; talk about highfalutin!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rings On Her Fingers

It was a smaller Christmas party so I brought in a smaller tree.  It set my heart to fluttering when I got the text down in the barn, "We're on our way!"  I make no secret of how I feel when my Kids are coming up and besides, it was Christmas!

 Bessie Anne nosed through all of the packages that Deb and Craig brought in until she found the ones with her name (they never forget her or Pearl).  This lucky pup got a new "Skinny" toy (the kind without stuffing) and a big container of special treats.  "Open it, Mom!  I have no thumbs.  Open it now!"

The gang that was here for Christmas-I left their gifts for Deb and Craig, so poor Craig was left to play ninja all by himself and that made Deb the target of the blowgun and throwing stars.  He managed to squeeze into the ninja vest (made for a four-year-old).  The whole family agreed that putting a five-dollar limit on gifts calls for creativity and a lot of fun.

Let there be light!  Craig is modeling the wonderful hardhat with LED lights he made some years back for me.  He put new fixtures on it, even brighter than the old ones.  This hat is so great for nighttime walks with Bess or after-dark chores, leaving both hands free.  I always laugh at the thought of anyone seeing these disembodied lights floating above the ground at night and wondering if aliens had landed from outer space.

"Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes.  She shall have music wherever she goes."  So goes an old bit of doggerel.  For me, from now on it will be rings and bells and phones (and lights) wherever I go.  Deb and Craig stuck to the imposed limit, but their cat, Clyde, went way over the top.  My wireless phones had given up the ghost and only the base station still worked.  Once having had the freedom of a wireless, being tethered to the land line was like going back to the dark ages.  Clyde, who never minds anyone, presented me with a five-, count 'em, five-phone set of wireless.  I will even have the luxury of a phone in the bathroom!  How's that for one-ups? After a wonderful day with two of my most favorite people in the world, I spent several happy hours with the instruction manual programming the phones.  In addition, I was given a set of (3) nightlights that have a battery backup that kicks in during a power outage.  These could quite literally be lifesavers on a dark night.

I am all for having two (or more) Christmases a year.  Just think, when the boys come up again they will open the gifts Deb and Craig left for them.  It never ends!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Far Side

The day started with a giggle when the mouse in the grain bucket ran up under my shirt sleeve.  For an old gal, I did a pretty fast strip in the milking room as I tried to get the little booger with his tickling toes off me.  He ran up onto my head and did a rather spectacular swan dive off and landed (you guessed it) right back in the bucket.  This time I just tilted the bucket and let him find his own way out.

"Yes, sir.  Yes, sir.  Three bags full."  In this case, it wasn't wool the man asked about; it was goat poop.  I don't know why he asks, knowing that it is a constantly renewing resource, but Earle comes periodically for a truckload of fertilizer, and yesterday was the day.  I can't seem to convince him that this is a job that should be done early in the day and that I need a heads up so I don't open that field for the girls in the morning.  Ah, well.  I grabbed an armload of dry oak leaves and the girls came running like little kids hearing the Good Humor truck while Earle went down the other fence line to close the gate.  (Are there any Good Humor men left?)  The goats pushed and shoved to crunch and munch on the leaves and ignored Earle.  My job with goat poop ends when I pitch the bucketful over the fence.  I left Earle to it and went back in the house to wrap Christmas presents for Deb and Craig.

Gary Larson would have had a fount of inspiration for his cartoons here.  "The Far Side" would be my side.  Three of us in a queen-size bed, and I am clinging to the edge, in danger of being pushed off.  Bessie Anne is not a large dog, but in the night she takes on the proportions of a Great Dane, stretching out and shoving me with her feet.  Pearl (and Pearl is a story I'm not ready to write yet) wants warmth and physical contact and so curls up as close to me as she can get and won't move.  Not wishing to disturb her, I can't move either.  And there I am, on The Far Side.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bones and Boys

Like a broken drum, yesterday just couldn't be beat.  Bluebird sky and warm temperature lured my son Dave and his buddy Bird out on their motorcycles and up the hill.  The "town" of Pleasant Valley is a little bit bigger than Fair Play (they boast a real grocery store!), but not much.  Up here, we'd call it a blinker (blink as you go by and you'll miss it).  I'd been telling Dave about Bones, a biker bar in Pleasant Valley that serves great hamburgers, and the guys decided that would be a good destination for a ride and invited me to join them there.  Well, yeah!  I wasn't about to turn down an invitation like that!  Lunch with two good-looking dudes in leathers (and a side of onion rings) sounded good to me.  Spiffed up in clean bibbies and a spray of froufrou juice, I met with Dave and Bird.  During the course of the meal, Dave got up for a minute and came back with my neighbor Camille!  I hadn't seen her at the counter when I came in, being focused elsewhere, but Dave had recognized her and asked her to join us.  It was a convivial group and a great way to spend a couple of hours.  The guys decided I hadn't exaggerated regarding the hamburgers and that they would put Bones on the list of places to stop when the Freed Spirits ride as a group.  The road was calling their names again, so Dave and Bird fired up those rumbling Harleys and we parted ways.  Those boys give great hugs.  It was an outstanding day.

Note:  Christmas comes but once a year for everyone else; I get to celebrate twice.  Ha ha!  Deb and Craig are coming up tomorrow so this is Christmas Eve II for me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fired Up

Unseasonably warm yesterday, it seemed a bit strange to be hauling firewood up to the porch and sweating as I did so.  It was the first day in awhile that I didn't need to light the stove, but it's best to be prepared and the rack was empty.

(Omigosh, I'm laughing.  It's six a.m. and pitch black outside and a car alarm just went off from somewhere on a hill down the road.  Someone must have visitors from the flatlands.)

Back to the woodpile.  I always wear thick leather gloves when reaching into the stack; one never knows what critters one will encounter.  Black widow spiders are fond of the nooks and crannies, black beetles abound, hibernating frogs move slowly at the bottom of the pile, and I've only ever run across a snake once (that was enough).  The peril yesterday came from a couple of colonies of ants:  little red ants and great big black wood ants.  I'm in the habit of thunking each piece of wood before putting it in the wagon, and it isn't just to dislodge leaves and/or dirt.  Replenishing the porch supply is a group effort, as are most chores here.  Pearl supervises closely and Bessie moves with me from the pallets to the porch, not wanting to be left behind.  The rack piled high, we all take a breather in our accustomed places, satisfied with a job well done.

I've got big plans for today, but will not say in case they "gang a-gley."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Warm-up Exercise

It was a lot warmer outside than in the house yesterday and that bench on the deck was calling my name.  Knowing I had bank statements to reconcile, the choice was easy.  Procrastination is always the way to go.  I took Bessie Anne and my recently arrived favorite catalog and we went out into the sunshine.  John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds is the antidote for what ails ya while waiting for spring.  Beautiful photos and illustrations, chock full of great information, I've received the catalogs for many, many years and enjoyed every one.  For a long time, they included recipes, especially for some of the more esoteric vegetables; recipes are now posted on their website.  Tomatoes were all I got into the ground last year (put in too late to be very successful) even with the best of intentions.  Reading the catalog, in my mind's eye I could see my garden with flourishing beans and peas, fat carrots, great pumpkins, turnips, and beets, baby greens for salad, squashes (and sauteed squash blossoms), and juicy tomatoes.  Ohmigosh, I was drooling.  Going grocery shopping once or twice a month leaves me famished for fresh vegetables.  Lately I've been throwing frozen peas into just about everything from shrimp Alfredo to soups so there'd be a touch of green.  It's only January, way too early to plant, but the catalog was a feast for the eyes and imagination and, besides, Bess and I were warm again.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Diogenes supposedly went around with a lamp, looking for an honest man.  He could have put the lantern down here yesterday.  I'd put a call in to Dirt Guy and he drove up just as I finished in the barn.  Over the years, rain and snow have rutted the steep slope of the driveway to the point there is now a gulley that, were a small car to drop in a wheel, could snap an axle.  I'd been telling myself, "Oh, it's not that bad," knowing full well it was getting worse and worse.  I asked Dirt Guy to take a look and give me an estimate of cost to repair the drive.  The economy is bad and work has been slow.  I fully anticipated that Dirt Guy would jump on the job right away.  He told me that he could and would make that stretch of the driveway like new but unless I pushed him, he wanted to hold off until March or April.  If he did the work now and more rain and snow came before the dirt and gravel could solidify, it could be worse than now and my money and his efforts would have been for nothing.  It's only mid-January and the locals who have been doing a rain dance could get lucky.  It doesn't make sense to me to hire a professional and then tell him how to do his job.  DG walked the length of the drive and determined that only the first section absolutely needed attention, saving me mucho dinero.  In the course of our conversation, I learned that a son in Colorado is getting married and a son in Germany has asked him to visit.  Dirt Guy could use the money now; he would rather do the job right than fast.  DG put in the new leach field a few years back so I had an idea of what the cost would be.  I'll admit the dollar figure caused me to take a big gulp, but I know it is fair and we shook hands to seal the deal.  I, like Diogenes, appreciate an honest man.

In the meantime, if you come to my house, drive slow.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Flying High

I see so many turkeys on a daily basis, one almost takes them for granted.  The tribes walk through with stately tread or run past like velociraptors, but with few exceptions they are pedestrian birds.  Once inside the goat pen, they seem to forget that they flew over the fence to get there and cry to be let out.  Of late, I've noticed something strange.  This year's crop of turks has begun to fly in the daytime to the highest branches in the oaks like the vultures, hawks, and crows.  In all my years here, I've never seen that before.  I've read that turkeys fly up to roost at night in the treetops, but then I'm not out at night and wouldn't know.  Turkeys have the wingspan of vultures, but are much heavier in body.  Watching them from the milking room yesterday, it was as if one decided to try his wings, landed up in the tree, and said, "Hey, look what I can do!," and the others thought that looked like fun and flew up to join him.  Pretty soon that tree was full of turkeys.  Later in the day, they tried out another tree, and then another.  Is it that the Peeping Toms get a better view into my windows?  There is no food in the trees for them, so that is not the impetus.  Are they thrill-seeking aeronautic adolescents?  I haven't the foggiest idea what has wrought this behavioral change.  What I do know is that if they continue, I shall have to start wearing protective covering as I walk under the trees.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

It has been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  That appears to apply to The View From Farview Farm.  Four years ago, on January 13, 2010, I wrote the first entry and my "mission statement."  I was inspired by the movie "Julie and Julia," thinking that if people had followed the trials and tribulations of an aspiring cook, someone might find the life of a single woman on a farm interesting.  At various times in the past week, I've gone back to read that first year.  Nothing much has changed.  Turkeys were peering in the windows then (and chickens were walking into the house).  Poker dominated every gathering of the clan then as now.  Reading of my Kids' many kindnesses brought tears to my eyes; they never change.  Looking through those photos the other day, I was a little disoriented and wondered why the house looked a bit unfamiliar.  I realized that the towering pine and oak just off the deck were twiggy saplings in those pictures.  Four years ago Tree Guy and Sons were taking down a large portion of the barn oak.  Favorite chickens have "gone on holiday," replaced by new favorites.  The Taj had just been delivered for the Silkies.  Musashi has not lived up to his samurai namesake; the other roosters intimidate him, but he is as beautiful (handsome) as ever.  Seasons and Daylight Savings Time continue to change, and dust remains my nemesis.

When I wrote that first entry, I had no idea if or who would read it.  I know now that there is a coterie of loyal followers, as well as those who pop in from time to time from the far stretches of the world.  I've kept a list as a country would appear.  Farview Farm in tiny Fair Play, California, has gone to places I've only dreamed of:

United States (individual states are unfortunately not identified), Colombia, Canada, China, Japan, Denmark, Latvia, Russia, Poland, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Spain, Chile, France, Vietnam, Germany, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Ireland, Oman, Jordan, Norway, Romania, Brazil, Italy, Pakistan, Ecuador, Iraq, Iran, Philippines, Netherlands, South Korea, Mexico, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Armenia, Slovenia, Israel, Slovakia, Nepal, Finland, Singapore, Belgium, Georgia, Venezuela, Belarus, Malaysia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Mongolia, Honduras, Hong Kong, Serbia, Tunisia, Moldova, Turkey, Nigeria, Sudan, Macedonia, Lebanon, Gabon, Switzerland, Australia, Barbados, Austria.

Seventy countries (and who knows how many states in America).  That's not too shabby for someone who, as I've said, doesn't go anywhere or do anything.  I've wished so many times that I could "meet" via the internet those who've shown an interest in Farview.  There are now between 50 and 80 who check in daily, and there have been 57,996 "hits" in four years.  I really urge and encourage comments.  We must have something in common.

My day, every day, begins with a cup of coffee and the blog.  Bessie Anne knows the routine better than I.  She's snoozing on the bed behind me now.  Some things don't change.  Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Scream At Sundown

Okay, not exactly a scream.  It must be so satisfying to scream like Jamie Lee Curtis in "Halloween," but I've never been able to shriek like that.  I yell or bellow; it's the best I can do.  I did bellow last night, but that just doesn't have the same ring, does it?

After moving the desecrated box of diaper wipes yesterday, I went back to start the chores for the day.  Some time ago, Thing had gnawed a hole in the cover of the barrel of chicken scratch.  As long as the barrel was full, he could get himself in, raid the grain, and get out.  Yesterday he made an error in judgement and dropped into a nearly empty barrel and was trapped.  I lifted the lid and found myself looking into Thing's beady eyes.

Thing is a rat.  Not one of those huge, urban Norwegian rats, but a smaller wood rat, about eight inches in body length with a ten-inch bald tail.  Thing hooked me firmly on the horns of a dilemma.  I needed to get grain for the chickens.  He was sitting on the grain or racing in circles.  Mice scare me not one whit, but Thing was a  lot bigger, showing gnarly teeth and making growly noises and he has a proven record of bad attitude.  I didn't want to reach into the bottom of the barrel and take the chance of Thing biting me or racing up my arm.  Mice in my britches is one thing, rats are another.  Well, a person does what a person has to do and I moved faster than I've ever done and scooped out a can of grain for the hens before Thing could react.  I jammed the lid back on and went about my business.  The problems mounted in my mind:  there was not enough room in the barrel to swing a bat.  If I shot him, I'd blow a hole in a perfectly good grain barrel.  If I left him in the barrel, he'd die a slow death of dehydration (and from overeating).  While I wished Thing gone, I don't like to think of any animal suffering.  What to do, what to do?  For the time being, I did nothing.

As evening approached, I knew I had to face the enemy again.  I had been worrying.  Thing had been plotting.  My plan was to drop a small bucket over Thing to contain him while I got grain for the chickens.  Thing thought otherwise.  I dropped the bucket.  Thing scrambled out from underneath and used the bucket as a stepping stone to launch himself up and over my shoulder and out to freedom.  I bellowed.

Now I worry about retaliation.

Friday, January 10, 2014

She Who Laughs Last

I'm beginning to feel I'm in an endless loop of sequels with Thing as in Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, etc.  (Nightmare On Elm Street is probably closer to the truth.)  I was sure that Thing would be satisfied with the hundred wipes he'd stolen, but evidently there's a big demand for black-market blankets and a few days ago he came back for more.  He'd barely chewed into a new package when I discovered he was at it again.  Busy with chores, I turned the case over so the opening was blocked.  "Ha ha!," said I.  "Ha ha back atcha!," said Thing and he started to chew through the bottom of the box.  "Oh crum," said I.  Running late (what a surprise), I moved the opened box to sit precariously on top of one of the feed barrels and went on with chores, foolishly thinking I'd won that round.  Destructo struck again yesterday.  "Ha ha on you!," said Thing.  (Note the chewed box of Christmas ornaments from a prior break-in.)  "*^@*#!!," said I.  My theory is this:  if you can't beat 'em, at least thwart 'em.  I refuse to be taken down by a small, evil, as-yet-unidentified, something-or-other.  I bagged up the drying diaper wipes and took the entire box over to the shed where I keep the birdseed.  That shed is my first stop in the morning, so it's no inconvenience to me.  To get to the wipes now, Thing will have to leave his own turf in the barn, travel some distance out in the open, open a screen door and a solid door, and climb up on a shelf to get to the case of wipes.  "Ha ha!," said I, and I hope that's the last laugh!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Back In the Day

Anyone remember the names Alberto Vargas and George Petty?  No?  I'll bet anyone who remembers WWII will; art work from these gentlemen graced many an airplane, army barrack, and ship bunk at that time, and calendars featuring their paintings hung in barbershops and garages across America.  Because of that, their art was called "pin up," and the beautiful women they painted were "pin-up girls."  Betty Grable's famous poses (remember her?) were modeled after Vargas and Petty art, not vice versa.  Petty and Vargas did for women in the 1940s what Charles Dana Gibson had done in the 1890s; idealized, stylized, provocative.

My mother was obviously influenced by the Petty Girls.  Once a year from the time I was thirteen, she posed me for a swimsuit photo.  Now I'm rather glad she did.  As I've said before, I am not necessarily the "me" you see today.  I was sixteen when she took this shot.

And what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China or the goings on at Farview?  I can't even remember what project I had in mind yesterday or what caused me to open the first box I found while looking for something else, but open it I did and fell right down the rabbit hole.  Back in the day, I always got double prints when film was developed so I could share and compare with others.  Digital cameras, desktop printers and scanners were as far in the future then as space travel, only to be imagined.  I've always taken a lot of pictures.  There are shelves of albums and boxes and boxes of prints.  Whatever it was I'd planned for the day went by the wayside and I spent the afternoon with grandbabies on their first birthdays, at parties with dear friends, watching my grown sons' hairstyles change from year to year (Dave once had hair down to the middle of his back, a far cry from the buzz-cut he has now), and with Steve on vacations or building something.  He was always building something.  In amongst these memories were tucked my old pin-up pictures.  Since the boxes I went through were mostly extra prints, it would have been easy to pitch them all.  I certainly didn't remember tucking my photos in with the others (I'm usually the one behind the camera).  Photographs do what memory can fail to do; remind us what we were like back in the day.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Smoke Signals

Bess and I did a quick turn on the deck yesterday.  The morning sun held no warmth as we did our walkabout and I'd come out without a jacket (haven't needed one for days).  Looking out at the surrounding hills, it was pretty evident I wasn't the only one feeling the drop in temperature.  As in the black-and-white western movies of my childhood, columns of smoke rose here and there in the still air like signal fires.  Small straight plumes indicated fireplaces and wood stoves had been lit to ward off the chill, and larger clouds of smoke showed that some industrious persons had touched off a burn pile.  I went in and started up my own stove; there was just enough time to get it going before going down to the barn so the house would be toasty when I came back up.  When one sees smoke signals, pay attention.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Comedy Hour

The last movie I saw in a theater was "March Of the Penguins" in the summer of 2005.  The only reason we went then was because it was beastly hot and a matinee in an air-conditioned movie house was a way to get relief.  I believe the movie prior to that (in a theater) was "Dances With Wolves" in 1990, and before that was "Stand By Me," that Dave took me to see in 1986.  I really must get out more.

"March Of the Penguins" came to mind because of the turkeys.  My movie-going history was just another derailed train of thought.  Penguins have their own reasons for making a long pedestrian trek across Antarctica on little stumpy legs in the worst weather imaginable.  Turkeys have it a lot easier here, but they also seem to be in the grip of an obsession.  More and more are showing up on the deck rail daily, lining up and sometimes shoving one another off to get a better view inside.  It's not my imagination; they go past empty rooms until they find me.  Intent on something or other yesterday, I didn't look up until they started calling to me (no, really!).  Satisfied that they had my attention, they stood shoulder to shoulder peering in to watch the latest episode of "Goat Lady Comedy Hour."  Like the thrill-seeking free-range chickens in the past, the turkeys will then make their way on the narrow rail to the far end of the deck and, one by one, leap off into space to glide to the ground.  Show's over (on both sides of the window).

Monday, January 6, 2014


The house was chilly and, with remnants of a cough and cold hanging on, I took myself out to the bench on the deck to sit in the sun after barn chores.  There is such healing power in sunshine for me.  It may be a throwback to when we went so frequently to the beach when I was a kid, back in the days before SP-15, UV rays, and every warning "under the sun."  Bess picked out a nearby spot with her back against the wall and we two sat quietly and let the warmth soak into our bones.  A couple of the clean-up crew lazily glided in circles over the hill across the way.  Crows yelled at each other from tree to tree.  A myriad of little birds searched for whatever it is they look for among the leaves across the yards.  Barren oak branches gave no sign, but a slight breeze made the tall seed fronds on the deck plants dance and nod.  Bessie Anne is my thermostat as well as timekeeper.  When she'd had enough and moved over to a patch of shade, I agreed that I was also ready to go back in the house, restored, body and soul.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lady! Hey, La-a-ady!

I had the misconceived notion that I had a goat ranch when the truth is I have a turkey farm.  The tribe is growing and they are taking over.  Morning chores were a little late when relatives were here and the hens were darned near knocking on the front door, standing right at the edge of the porch and loudly demanding breakfast.  No longer satisfied with just the birdseed under the oak, they jump in with the chickens for scratch.  They do not even give the courtesy of waiting until I leave the pen.  Six or eight ring the water pan at various times during the day.  Groups of twenty to fifty move across the yards, so I can only estimate the total number.  Walking, the big birds scratch and peck and look like turkeys.  Picking up the pace, and especially at a run, they look like prehistoric creatures out of Jurassic Park.  I am inclined to look behind to see if a raptosaurus is after them.  Bessie Anne and I walk slowly among the masses and they barely part the way to let us through.  As yet, the toms have not started their turf wars.  Turkeys do not have the most beautiful heads or faces, bald and wrinkled as they are, but they have large, gorgeous, liquid brown eyes.  I can attest to this as they were once again peering in my windows yesterday, up close and personal.  At the computer in the afternoon, I looked up to see seven (7!) on the railing and more waiting to get in line to see what I was doing.  They seemed to have no reason to be there other than being nosy.  Turkeys now outnumber the goats by ten to one.

Emmy, thank you for your compliments.  Yes, I do make cheese and other goat milk goodies.  Kathryn has been on vacation and is now home.  Nice to hear a new voice and have an old friend back.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

How Do You Know?

How do you know it's going to be a good day?  It's a sure thing when one of your Kids calls in the morning and says he's coming up; not only that, he's bringing a friend and they're going to split wood.  A couple of hours later, two Harleys rumbled up my drive and I was one happy mama.

There is a definite hierarchy in a sanctioned motorcycle club, the bottom rung being the Hang-Arounds.  Hang-Arounds, low men on the totem pole, are to help with anything asked by a Patch Holder (top echelon).  Dave is a Patch Holder in the Freed Spirits MC.  I'd bet that Jeff, a flat-lander, never expected to split oak rounds.  He looked at the large pile of very large rounds and said, "Well, it's been a long time since I've used a maul."  He breathed a sigh of relief when he was told that I have a gas-powered splitter to do the hardest work.  On his last visit Dave had noticed that the woodpile was getting low and knows that I become very frugal, lighting the wood stove only when absolutely necessary, hoarding the dwindling supply.  The guys not only split the logs, they stacked the firewood.  The only way I can repay Dave and his friends and show my appreciation is by keeping them hydrated while they work and feeding them well when they're finished.  The added bonus is a beautiful ride up from the valley.  After they'd gone and the temperature dropped, I lit a fire!

I don't like to jump to conclusions, but I think Thing has got a black-market blanket business going, probably off the tailgate of my truck.  That bugger completely emptied an entire package of diaper wipes.  That's one hundred tissues!  Don't try to tell me that one whatever-he-is can use one hundred blankets all by his lonesome.  I went into the middle barn, sure I'd find piles of wipes somewhere.  Nary a one anywhere.  When the mice and ground squirrels steal wipes from the bucket in the barn, there's always a telltale bit left showing where they'd dragged them away.  Not so with sneaky Thing.  The least he could do is share his ill-gotten gains.

I got a surprise visit from my Kid, my woodpile is replenished; it was a good day.  I knew it would be.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thing Strikes Again

Darn that Thing!  Not satisfied with taking over the middle barn as his personal domain, decorating to suit himself and flinging out those belongings he doesn't like, he moved over once again into my side, my feed and craft room.  It took me a moment yesterday morning to figure out what I was seeing when I stepped in to get scratch for the chickens.  Large pieces of white fluffy stuff were everywhere.  Tissue paper?  No.  Tissue paper is kept in the house in the Black Hole room where even I would have difficulty finding it.  Looking closer, I saw the stuff was diaper wipes; lots of diaper wipes.  Evidently Thing had felt a chill in the night and went looking for blankets.  He had chewed into the case of wipes stored in my side and, not satisfied with one or two, had pulled out dozens of wipes, scattering them all over the room.  I need those wipes, using them to clean udders before milking, and I was not, repeat not, happy.  I've stored cases of wipes in that room for years without incident.  Why now?  The chickens were waiting so I gathered up the mess, planning to photograph and document Thing's destruction in the afternoon, and went about the business of the day.  I did a double take when I went back later with the camera.  Not a wipe in sight.  I am only guessing, but it's possible that Thing had left the damp wipes out to dry and came back later to take them home.  Or, since I was rather vocal in expressing my displeasure, Thing might have decided to clean up his own mess (dream on, silly woman).  I try very hard to live in peaceable cohabitation with all creatures, but Thing pushes my limits, my buttons, and my patience.  Darn that Thing.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Play's The Thing

The two masks of drama are those of comedy and tragedy, the elements of which life is made and which keep it interesting.  For each of us, every day is a new act in the same play.  We get to direct, produce, and star in our very own production (and sometimes we even get paid!).  What is not possible is a rewrite when the play takes an unexpected, unwanted turn; we simply go on to the next scene.

The day before, I had danced with a mouse and that act had all the aspects of a Carole Lombard slapstick comedy.  Yesterday the Farview drama changed its mask.  About the third goat on the stand in the morning, I happened to garner a couple of the Willy Wonka flakes that so please my little friend, Mama Mouse, who has shared her breakfast time with me eye to eye.  As if on cue, Mama Mouse was right there in her usual corner when I turned.  I thought, “Oh good, I’ll drop these treats down and she won’t have to hunt for them.”  Mama did not run away, but she was leaving.  It was her time to step off stage in my play or hers, who knows which.  After finishing with the goats and barn chores, I picked up Mama and we sat together quietly while her curtain fell.  It might have been just a bit part, but she played it well.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Once Is Enough

"If you do a thing right the first time, once is enough."  I don't know what I did wrong.  In my opinion, the mice are carrying things a little too far and last night I carried mice a little too far.  Cindy did a repeat performance of not wanting to go into the barn so I once again reached up into the grain bucket for a lure.  More prepared for the mouse explosion, I tried to move a bit quicker, but not fast enough.  Mice were landing everywhere and, of course, one dropped down the front of my bibbies again.  People at wedding receptions do The Chicken Dance.  People on farms do The Mousie Two-Step.  We don't even need music.  I did my impromptu hop-shake-and-shuffle, got Cindy into the room and tucked in for the night, and went up the slope for the last chore of the evening.  Standing in the fading sunset, topping off the water trough, I was contemplating the year past and the year to come.  That was when I became aware of movement on my shoulder under my jacket.  No.  It could not possibly be.  Yes.  It was.  Despite my frantic gyrations down at the barn, Mousie had found a nook or cranny (does not bear further ideation), clung for dear life, and hitched a ride.  I took off said jacket to shake it out.  Mousie ran around to my other shoulder.  I learned some fancy new steps and arm movements with my little dance partner.  Gene Kelly danced with Jerry the Mouse in the old musical "Anchors Aweigh."  I could teach Gene a thing or two.  Our fandango finished, Mousie leaped off and raced like greased lightning into a nearby hole.  Guilt set in.  That poor little mouse was far from home and family, it was getting dark, and he would be all alone in the night.  Cindy and I are going to have a long talk.  Once was enough; twice was too many.