Saturday, January 31, 2015

Good Company

I did not accomplish one single thing yesterday.  Not one twig picked up, not one hole drilled, not one surface dusted.  Tim and Kathryn drove up unexpectedly while I was working down in the barn.  He was looking for a particular gauge of shotgun shell and thought I might have some.  Once the milking routine has started I can't leave, and so had to send them up to the house to search on their own.  That treasure hunt didn't turn up any treasure, but I had only a vague idea of where the shells might be stashed after a recent purge.  We three had a nice visit and then they were on their way empty handed.

Shortly after their departure, Camille called.  She had an egg-bound hen and needed a lubricant and some calcium carbonate, which I had.  (It was a day for strange requests.)  Cam and Honey soon arrived.  Honey has her own routine when she comes up.  She says a polite greeting to me and then heads for the kitchen.  She slurps up any leftover milk in Bess's bowl, munches from Bess's food dish, and empties the water bowl.  If she's been invited for high tea, she's going to make the most of it.  I haven't seen much of Camille lately and so we stood out in the warm sun and talked while Honey cruised the yard.  Bessie lay quietly at our feet, happy to let the youngster go on her way alone.

Quite some time later, back in the house I felt a nap was in order.  Might as well, as Bessie Anne and Celeste had me nailed down in the chair.  I like naps and it was well past the noon hour.

Awakening after a good sleep, I was making a plan of attack on chores when Linda cleverly texted a message that she was going to call and ask that I not hang up (as I unintentionally but usually do).  We are in frequent contact, but briefly, with texts and short chats.  Yesterday was an opportunity for a long, leisurely, thoroughly enjoyable conversation that took me nearly up to dusk.  No sense starting on anything then when when quitting time was so close.

One way or another, the day was spent in the company of good friends.  It was a good day.

Friday, January 30, 2015


This is turning into the project from hell.  Were I not made of sterner stuff (go ahead and say it, "stubborn") I would chuck the whole idea.  Since the shop downstairs is at least twenty degrees cooler, make that "colder" in January, than upstairs, I waited until afternoon to brave the nether regions.  Filled with enthusiasm and anticipation, I put the new titanium bit in the drill and, zoot!, punched a hole where the dimple had been.  One piece drilled, two, and then the drill bit snapped.  Evidently titanium only works and is unbreakable at the tip and not at the shank.  It probably doesn't help that I have no idea what I'm doing, going on instinct alone.  Luckily, I had bought two bits (thank you, Steve).  Refusing to be beaten by a mere tool, I replaced the broken bit and started on the third part of the project.  Can you imagine how disheartening it was to hear the drill grind to a halt as the battery went dead?  I put the battery in the charger, turned off the light, locked the shop door, and came back upstairs.  Not wanting the day to be a complete waste, Bessie and I went outside and she supervised while I picked up another wagon full of twigs, bark bits, and limbs from the front yard.

Ralph's coloring is similar to the setting sun and yesterday he was definitely brighter than the western sky toward dusk.

While I'm on the subject of cats, Clay gets bragging rights for being the only person so far for whom Celeste has come out of hiding and actually let touch her before zipping back to her room.  There are those who think Celeste is a figment of my imagination because Ralph is the only cat they've seen.  Ralph is gregarious and Celeste is reclusive with everyone but me.

I may or may not go downstairs again to take on The Project today.  I would ask, "What else could go wrong?" but we know how that usually ends.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's Another

If it's not one thing, it's another.  Why is it that the most simple things turn into major situations?  I never expected my secret project to become such a pain in the patoot.  I'd thought in the beginning that hand tools would be enough.  They weren't.  The vise that was necessary was gone from the shop.  I had to wait until Clay brought and installed the new one.  Worked like a charm yesterday and made the job so much easier!  Then I needed to drill some holes.  Planning ahead, I'd recharged the battery on the Makita drill.  The bit in the drill was the wrong size for my project.  The Makita has a twist function; no chuck needed to change the bit.  Stronger hands than mine had put in the last bit and it took awhile and all my strength to finally get the sucker to let go.  New bit in place, I started drilling.  Or not.  What I'd thought (hoped) was a metal-cutting bit turned out not to be.  For the uninformed, I can say with authority that a wood bit will not drill through metal.  The resulting cute little dimple created was not what I wanted.  Bess and I zipped down to Mt. Aukum where I purchased two titanium drill bits of the right size; one for insurance, and besides, if one will do, two is better, ask Steve.  I'm still trying to figure out why there was only one vise in the shop.  I mean, there were five air compressors and literally hundreds of screwdrivers and dozens of socket sets.  But I digress.  By the time we got back home, it was too late to try out the new bit(s).  Tomorrow (today) is another day.

What can I say?  Yes, it's another sunset.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On My Head Be It

It was not raining when I headed down to the barn.  Grey, overcast, cold enough for a jacket, yes, but no rain.  I did not wear a hat.  The rain came when I let the first goat out and it continued to fall the entire time I was with the girls.  Goats do not like rain and chaos ensued as they fought to get under cover.  It rained as I hucked buckets of goat poo over the fence and as I slogged back up the hill.  "Go soak your head" took on new meaning for me.

I got a text message that Clay was running late.  Not wishing to waste that precious extra time, I quickly sat down and read the last forty pages of the book I'd started the day before, finishing just as he drove up.  It's my own darned fault I didn't get the room dusted.  Most of the day was spent in the kitchen making deviled eggs with an avocado mashed in (which I highly recommend!), and prepping for soba noodle salad with veggies and Orange Chicken.  Clay had brought up a new bench vise and installed it down in the shop for me.  I'm champing at the bit to get going on my secret project today.

It was a day to fill my head with new technology.  Clay said he'd brought up some movies, but I didn't see the expected DVDs.  He pulled out this little stick thingy.  I did know about thumb drives, but had no idea one could put movies, lots of movies, on those tiny bits.  In fact, I didn't know really what they are for.  With the help of a flashlight, we found a port on the television that I didn't know was there and Ta Da! movies!  Sometimes I feel I'm crawling out from the dark ages.  We walked out together to put the kids to bed and stood to appreciate the sunset.  Clay asked me if my phone could take panoramic photos.  "Well, yes, it can, but I've never used that feature."  This view is my first attempt, but probably won't be my last.

I packed up to-go containers for Clay and slipped in a couple of dozen eggs, as well as a jar of the mix I'd forgotten to give at Christmas.

Not just good, it was a most excellent day. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Slow Learner

I should know better by now.  After all these years of making the same mistake over and over, I should have learned that I should not open a book before doing housework, or any work.  It is my downfall.  I swear every time that I will read only a few pages or a few chapters, and every time I pick up a book I fall into the abyss.  So as not to waste the entire day (if reading can ever be called a waste), I put the electronic servants to work washing dishes and clothes.  I was so bad yesterday that I even used the dryer instead of hanging laundry on the line.  I knew I'd been bad and so punished myself by putting the book down with forty pages left before The End.  I'm suffering, believe me.

There is another arena in which I am a slow learner.  My Smartphone gets a chuckle every time it proves itself smarter than I.  When a call comes in, a little red phone icon appears on the screen, so I touch it.  No!  I should swipe across to answer the call.  The red icon is the hang-up button.  I hung up on Linda again yesterday.  She, being swifter on the uptake, now knows that she must call at least twice if she wishes to speak to me.  She realizes it is not personal.

I put the photo of last night's sunset at the beginning today, as it was, with few exceptions, the only time I was outside all day.  Company (Clay!) is coming up this morning.  I most certainly have things to do, but I hear that book calling my name.  Only forty pages...hmmm.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Draw, Podner!"

It doesn't do for me to sit down.  Apparently a lap is an invitation for any and/or all to join me.  In a rare happenstance, neither Bess nor Celeste had taken their places and Ralph wasn't about to let the opportunity pass yesterday.  He so seldom finds room in the crowded space that I chose not to dislodge him, even though there were still items on my agenda.  (That's my excuse.)  I frequently hear music in my mind, and yesterday it was the '50s doo-wop song by the Olympics, "My Baby Loves the Western Movies."  Evidently Ralph likes westerns, too.  Bessie and Celeste get in my lap and sleep.  Ralph and I watched the end of John Wayne in "The Shootist" and most of "My Darling Clementine" with Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, and Walter Brennan.  I'm a big fan of John Ford, but "Fort Apache" was full of every Ford cliche ever used; even the sound track was hack stuff stolen from his other films.  Ralph agreed.

Westerns and I go way back.  My dad and I watched black-and-white westerns together on tiny-screen TV.  Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Tim McCoy (he came to my grade school and gave a rope-twirling demonstration), the Lone Ranger (I liked Tonto best), and Hopalong Cassidy.  The other day I watched a very young John Wayne in "Stagecoach," a great movie.  It was nice to again have a companion who enjoys cowboys and Indians.

I didn't get a lot done yesterday, but it was a good day.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Saturday (Not) Night Live

It was one comedy act after another yesterday, the trip to town notwithstanding.  This grey squirrel knew exactly what he was doing.  He spent a good half-hour tormenting Ralph and Celeste.  He ran back and forth on the railing and the cats ran from room to room and window to window.  If their interest flagged, Squirrel would drum his paws on the wood and chatter to get their attention.  I could hear the, "Nanner nanner," as he jumped to the deck and back up to the rail, showing off for his captive audience.

The trip to town was as expected.  The road home was longer as I was following a flatlander who had no idea where he was going.  There was the usual conversation in the car ahead, "Oh, John, slow down!  There's another curve ahead!"  (John was speeding along at 25 mph.)  John, dutiful guy that he is, slowed down.  We all slowed down, there being at least ten cars behind me.  There's naught to do in these situations but take your foot off the gas and enjoy the ride.  There's nowhere to pass and it's better to go slow than take chances.  Once you're late, you're late and a few more minutes won't make a difference, and the worst thing would be to ride his bumper.  If John hit the brakes, it wouldn't be funny.

"All the world's a stage."  Well, I don't know about the whole world, but the deck rail was the stage as one comedy act followed the other.  Not just this one, but three turkeys lined up in the afternoon, peering, preening, and strutting their stuff.  It didn't take Ralph long to "look at the birdie."  It's usually the audience that heckles the performer, but Ralph was quiet (whiskers twitching) and Tom made rude noises.

I love beautiful shoes, always have.  It shrivels my soul now to go to the Men's Dept. to pick out something (hopefully) durable for the barn.  It might be noted that this is exactly the same shoe as the worn-out version.  Yes, I'm in a rut, but the goats don't care what I wear.  Deb said that it is Poppy who whispers, "Didja see what she had on today?"  Poppy is the fashionista in the herd.  Regardless, in the theme of the day, I did a soft-shoe version of Shuffle off to Buffalo as I left the stage.

It was one comedy act after another all day long.  In other words, it was a good day.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


 I once, years ago, stood next to a gentleman as we watched a lovely young luncheon companion walk away.  He said, almost to himself, "She's like fine silk."  He then turned smiling to me and said, "You're like a terrycloth bathrobe."  At the time, I wasn't sure if I should be offended, but now I take it as a compliment.  If I had the choice, I'd wear old terrycloth over silk any day.

"Comfortable as an old shoe" is a saying I've heard for years, but there comes a time when old shoes need to be retired.  I think I've gotten as much comfort from my current barn shoes as is possible.  Much as I'd like to put it off, a trip to town is in my future today.

Some years back, Waylon Jennings and some other good ol' boys formed a group called Old Dogs to sing songs about aging.  My own "old dog" is never far from my feet these days.  I've become the seeing-eye dog for my dog.  Bessie Anne is neither completely deaf nor blind, but those senses are fading rapidly.  Her need to be constantly in my lap is sometimes overwhelming and I do, on occasion, refuse her request.  She has a bed and blanket right beside me and she has her own chair, but the look of reproach in those clouded eyes soon has me relenting and I'm weighed down and immobile again.

The oak trees at Farview Farm are old trees.  I was told the tree down in the goat pen that split some years back might be over 500 years old.  Picking up the finicky twiggy stuff from under this front yard oak yesterday, I ran across another of the little toys left from the boys who lived here first.  I've been here nearly 18 years now, and still these toys, little trucks, little figures, perk to the surface.  Those boys must be grown men now, with families of their own.

A collage of photos was posted on FB this morning titled, "Vintage Pictures From the 1950s."  I could have been in any one of those photos.  The clothes, the hair styles, the cars, the locales were all part of my growing up.  That's it!  I'm not old, I'm vintage!

Friday, January 23, 2015


Eggs to the left of me, eggs to the right.  Eggs in the fridge and in every nook and cranny in the chicken coop.  I am one step away from standing on a street corner in P'ville, dressed in a trench coat with a slouch hat and sunglasses.  "Psst.  Hey, lady, wanna buy some eggs?"  Every conversation starts with, "Hi, how are you?  Do you need any eggs?"  I gave a dozen each to everyone at Christmas.  I've given eggs to the ladies I've met for lunch.  Let's face it.  I'm an egg pusher.  Some poor lost soul made a wrong turn up my driveway the other morning.  I nearly rushed out the door with a carton of eggs, but he got away.  I used to have a buyer at the little hardware/convenience store in Fair Play, but guvmint regs now prevent the sale of farm eggs commercially.  I can sell privately, but that's it, and no advertising allowed.  Clay is coming up next week.  Want to guess what I'm serving?  I recently saw a recipe for deviled eggs with the yolks mashed with avocado; sounds decadent!  Rain is predicted for the day he's coming up.  That means he won't be riding his motorcycle and I can push a dozen or so eggs off on him.  Heh heh heh.

Wouldn't you just know?  This secret project I'm working on requires a bench vise.  No sweat, the bench vise is one of the few tools I knew exactly where it sits in the shop.  Make that "sat."  In the flurry of sales last year, I must have sold it, thinking I'd never need it.  It's gone.  Aarrgh.  No wonder Steve was a hoarder.  My bad.  Fortunately, Clay can locate one and bring it up, so all is not lost.

As I scraped the last few kernels of scratch from the barrel yesterday morning, I said to myself, "Self, whatever else you do today, be sure to go to the feed store or the little girls will have no breakfast tomorrow."  Sundown is now about five o'clock.  I was traipsing down to the barn, thinking pleasant thoughts and snapping this photo, when it occurred to me that I had not gone to the feed store.  (It mattered not that I'd gotten waylaid by unexpected guests.  Who refused my offer of eggs.)  Literally pushing (that word again) everyone into their rooms, I raced back to the phone.  "How late are you open?  Six?!  Wait for me!"  Bess and I jumped into the truck and off we went, me praying no deer would cross our path.  We made it to Mt. Aukum unscathed with minutes to spare and Patrick loaded the truck.  Home after dark, so I didn't haul the bags into the barn last night, but at least the hens will have the fuel to produce more...eggs.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

On the Go

That dense nighttime fog burned off early yesterday and the sun was shining when Bessie and I went walkabout.  However, we went v-e-r-y slowly and didn't go far.  The deck was coated with frost and Bess crunched through frozen grass.  We took a shortcut back through the laundry room instead of risking life and limb again when she was done.  It wasn't until I went out to feed that I realized just how far the temp had dropped.  Condensation on the bare branches had formed a myriad of tiny icicles.  The light wasn't right for a good photo, but I tried.  The Silkie pen is covered with chicken wire for their safety.  After a rain, I'm drenched with droplets if my head brushed the wire and sometimes there is a dump of snow.  Yesterday there was a drum roll of ice pellets; the only time I recall that happening.

How do they know?  Goats are such perverse creatures.  Looking forward to an early lunch date, I wanted to be in and out of the barn quickly.  So much for what I want.  Inga, first up, would not go in the milking room for love nor money.  Time passed as I cajoled and cussed, baby-talked and begged.  Staying just out of reach so I couldn't grab her collar, she'd get as far as putting her nose over the threshold and then dart away again.  She indicated she'd rather go back to her room.  Aha!  Once in awhile I can outsmart 'em.  I let her back in and shut the gate behind us.  She was trapped in the aisle and couldn't get away.  Snagging an unwilling Inga and dragging her out and around, the deed was done.  Sheila didn't have a choice; she's always brought out of her stall on a rope.  Esther and Cindy came in on cue.  And then there was Tessie the Terrible.  Munching away on alfalfa up at the corner, she ignored me as only a goat can.  Fine, just fine.  Two can play that game.  I gathered rake, bucket, and shovel and went to clean the back stalls.  Hearing a whicker close by, I looked over the half-walls to find that Tessie had not only come to the barn, she'd flipped the latch and gotten in and up on the stand by herself.  I beat feet around the corner before the others could join her and got her milked in double time.

With not much time to spare, I met Mary up in Pleasant Valley.  I'm becoming an habitue of Bones (twice in a week), and it's one of Mary's favorite places.  We only see each other every couple of years, and it's a chance for a good lunch and a nice catch-up visit.

Up here, we try to do as many errands as possible on every outing so as not to waste time or gas.  I made a hit-and-run stop at the grocery store in P. Valley since I was there anyhow (forgetting that I'm completely out of potatoes) before coming home.  It was bill-paying day and I had to get back.  That onerous task effectively shot the rest of the afternoon; a shame since the sun stayed out all day and there were other things I'd much rather have done.

All in all, I'd say it was a good day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Begin and End

Turkeys are not know for their subtlety.  I'd been reluctant to go out in the wet, wet fog of early morning.  It was enough that Bess and I had taken the trash down to the big road.  Back at the house while it was still dark, I returned to the computer while waiting for that blanket to lift.  Impatient with my dawdling, one of the big toms stood on the rail just outside later and gave me what for, demanding breakfast for him and his gang.

Looking out the kitchen window is as entertaining as watching television.  There is a wooden power pole next to the first shed (no underground lines up here).  Every time a PG&E guy shows up for whatever reason, I ask to have that pole checked for stability because it is a favored storage bin for the woodpeckers and I worry about the Swiss cheese effect they create.  Yesterday I watched an ingenious grey squirrel climb the pole and steal acorns deposited by the woodpeckers.  Acorns are there for the picking on the ground.  Maybe this klepto squirrel just liked the challenge.

By now, my son Dave is used to strange text questions from his mother, e.g., "Is this an air compressor?"  I sent him a photo of some strange-looking piece of machinery that is out in the barn.  "Yes, Mother, it is a gas-powered compressor."  (Who knew?)  Yesterday's query:  "How can I tell if a drill bit is for metal or wood, and does it matter?"  He doesn't even ask why anymore, and patiently explains what I need to know.  I haven't felt the urge to work on a new craft project for ages, but an idea has been niggling in the back of my brain and the time has come to act.  I can't say yet what it is (1) because I don't know how it will turn out and, (2) if it turns out well, it will become a gift and I don't want to ruin the surprise.  The project will require some work down in the shop.  I got a start with what I could do with hand tools from my chair yesterday sitting in front of the wood stove.  While it hadn't rained, the fog had dropped the temperature 20 degrees and there was 100% humidity.

The sun did come out in the afternoon long enough for me to haul another load of branches to the burn pile, but it didn't last.  As it began, so the day ended.  This study in black and blue was taken at what normally would be sundown last evening.  The fog bank was creeping back up from the valley to spend the night.  Barely light now, I see it's even thicker than yesterday.  Any wood I haul today will be up to the porch for firewood.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Spy

No, this is not about the 1960s TV series "I Spy" with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby (not gonna go there).

On frequent road trips with my parents, we sang and played word games when the scenery was less interesting.  As the only kid in the car, it wasn't that hard to keep me amused.  It was more of a challenge when my four were little.  "He touched me for no good reason!"  "Mom!  She's sitting too close again."  And, of course, there was the race to call "shotgun."  We did sing,  We sang every song they knew and I taught them new ones, and we sang them over and over.  "B-i-n-g-o, and Bingo was his name-o."  I would hear that in my sleep, as well as the everlasting "99 bottles of beer on the wall."  They told knock-knock jokes.  We also played games:  counting red cars, spotting out-of-state license plates, 20 questions, and some version of I Spy.  "I spy with my little eye...."

I won't keep you in suspense. It is the middle of January.  January!!  Yesterday I spied the first forsythia blossoms.  From what I can tell for Zone 7, it is way too early.  Not only forsythia, I also spied the first robin unearthing bugletts and worms under the clothesline.  It was warm enough that I used that clothesline to hang laundry in the afternoon; I'd been using the dryer lately.  Global warming is a hot topic just now (did I really say that?), but it does give one pause for thought with the drought and these early harbingers of spring.

There is a thick fog in Fair Play this morning.  I suppose it's only right, because the valley has been socked in for days and days.  Spying the sunset last evening may be our last glimpse for awhile.  Fearless Fosdick (and who besides Kit and I would remember the old "Dick Tracy" characters?) was at his post in the barn.

My mother was a stickler for good nutrition.  The exception to the rule were the nights we had latkes, known in our family as plain potato pancakes.  I've learned they are traditionally a side dish, but on potato pancake nights, they were the main dish, in fact, the only dish.  The first company meal I ever served as a young (18-year-old) bride was potato pancakes.  The kids' dad invited three couples I'd never met and I peeled and hand-grated ten pounds of potatoes and spent the entire evening in the kitchen frying up platter after platter of potato pancakes.  Scrubbing the spuds well, leaving the skin on, and using a food processor makes the job a lot easier and, as I can attest from last night's dinner, the pancakes are every bit as good.

The last thing I spied before closing my eyes for a pre-bedtime nap was my furry lap robe.

And for those inquiring minds, I did get one wagonload of branches over to the burn pile.  It's a start.

It was a good day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Oh, The Shame...

Ennui is a good word to describe my attitude of late.  Winter, even a mild one as we've had, does that to me.  My friend Linda and I went through a period of giving each other points for chores and tasks performed throughout the day.  That worked as a goad until she got so far ahead all I could see was her dust, and I don't need to say what I think about dust.  Last night she mentioned a wish list that included Skyping with me so we could "have dinner together."  I hate to disappoint, but doubt that's ever going to happen.  I avoid "selfies" like the plague so as not to give little children nightmares.  (After a certain age, the camera is not kind.)  I did say that I'd gotten as far as making a list of my own, a list of things that need doing around the property and that I've done my best to ignore.  Part of the problem is that the list is so long it's a tad overwhelming and another part is that I'm so good at procrastinating.  I'm not talking about little piddly stuff.  There are fences that need repair and the shop and Steve's part of the barn need a major, major clean out, for starters.  Smart gal that she is, Linda asked what was the easiest thing I'd written down.  Given that the weather has been so good the last few days, I decided that picking up the fallen branches blown down by the winds in every yard and under every tree and hauling them to the burn pile would be my choice.  Now that I've voiced my plan, I'm committed.  I couldn't bear the shame of not following through.  This just might work.

Bessie Anne has always been a "You and me, Mom" kind of dog, and would follow me from room to room, indoors and out.  As her, for lack of a better term, dementia progresses, her need to be close has a tinge of desperation.  She becomes frantic if we're not within arm's reach.  This includes our morning walkabout.  It used to be that I'd stay on the deck while she went down the slope to take care of business, check the perimeter, and walk amongst the turkeys.  Now she stands at the steps looking over her shoulder and whining until I walk down the drive with her.  It's okay; it's a pleasant way to start our day.  In the house, she might not see me leave the room or, confused, not know which way I've gone.  She's never been much of a barker, but now she calls out, "Where are you?  Come back!"  I know that dogs reportedly do not see color, and Bess no longer sees well, period.  What a shame to miss the glory of last night's sunset.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lazy Day

I suffered from a bad case of lack of ambition yesterday.  It didn't help that the movie "Secretariat" was on.  John Malkovich did such a great job portraying Lucien Laurin, Secretariat's trainer.  I'm a sucker for any horse racing film and am already looking ahead to the Kentucky Derby and the other two legs of the Triple Crown.

Sitting on the front porch was as good a way as any to waste some time in the afternoon.  Almost freezing the day before, it was actually hot in the sunshine and I let it soak in while Bessie Anne poked around under the juniper bushes, looking for I don't know what.  I'm fortunate that she has a forgiving nature.  I can trim goat hooves without problem, but I hate, hate, hate to cut a dog's toenails.  Bess desperately needed a pedicure, but I didn't want to make a special trip into town just to have the vet do it.  I won't leave her in the truck while doing other errands, so a nail trim waits until she has one of her regular appointments.  What the heck, I can do this (I said to myself).  I've got the right tool and Bess is on my lap ninety percent of the time now anyhow so I wouldn't have to pin her to the floor.  Marshalling my fortitude, I clipped the first nail and don't you know I cut into the quick and the blood ran.  Exactly what I'd feared.  I did get three more nails trimmed without doing more damage before my courage and her patience ran out.  We'll try again today.

The day was neither a loss nor a total disaster.  I was watching Celeste play in the entryway with the Christmas toy mouse - and then she wasn't.  Where had the mouse gone?  Down on hands and knees at cat level, I peeked under the chest behind the door.  What a treasure trove of hidden booty!  There was the lost toy hamster that was Ralph's favorite, three pieces of bark the cats had taken from the firewood to bat around, a ping-pong ball, and an assortment of dust bunnies, as well as Celeste's mouse.  Now I'll know where to look when anything else goes missing.

That same sky at dusk, but with the sun below instead of above.  It's an ever-changing artwork right outside my door.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

As I Said...

The temperature had been slowly dropping for several days, but could still be dealt with by a heavier jacket in the house and two pairs of socks, plus a fur lap robe.  However, yesterday the chill had permeated the house and, shivering, I lit a fire before going out for morning chores.  I'm frugal with the firewood, but not to the point of masochism.

Back in the chair, Bessie Anne and Celeste took their self-assigned positions.  Who is warming whom here?

Biting the bullet, I called computer support in the afternoon.  I'm old school when it comes to computers.  I go back as far as COBOL and FORTRAN and learned DOS.  I became administrator of a complex UNIX system.  I'm not computer illiterate, but Windows and the mouse are unfamiliar territory to me.  I knew it would be an easy fix for Celeste's faux paw (pun intended); I just didn't know how to do it.  Sixty dollars and TWO KEYSTROKES (yes, I'm shouting!) later, my computer is back to normal and I'm a penniless happy camper.

This is the beggar bird who shows up nightly for a handout.  He (or she) was stealing from the girls' dishes before I passed them out and so I've gotten in the habit of tossing a few grains his way.  Absolutely fearless, this tiny bird stands his ground at dinnertime.

I'd taken a number of shots of a rather nondescript sunset on my way down and back from the goat pen, hoping for something with at least a little appeal, but to no avail.  There were some interesting cloud formations, but the colors were blah.  Not until the chickens were tucked in and I was headed back to the house did the flaming sky appear.  I caught the reflection in the windows and turned in time to take this photo.

Another log on the fire and cat and dog on my lap once more.  As I've said, it was a good day.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Me Chicken, You Jane

I was chicken yesterday, as in coward.  I was simply unable to face the computer problems caused by Celeste and unwilling to spend the time working with a tech to fix them.  For the most part, those who work in tech support are sympathetic, patient, and helpful.  For the most part.  Somehow I had the feeling that this time I might get the same response when I'd say, "The cat did it," that I got when the squirrel ate the battery cable in the truck.  "Bwahahaha!" echoes in my brain as the phone was passed from one insurance rep to another so I could tell my story over and over.

The best way I know to avoid the unpleasant is to read.  Searching through my stash after chores, I found an unread book(!) and settled in.  Settled in is the definitive term here.  Bessie Anne has become obsessive about being in my lap whenever and as soon as I sit down.  It does no good to explain that I'll be getting up in a minute.  She must be in my lap now, forcing her way up onto the chair.  She even demanded to be with me on the bench when we spent a short while out in the sunshine.  Once seated, I'm in for the duration, nailed to the chair by a 50-pound dog across my lap.  Celeste will appear from nowhere to become the cherry on the cake.  She will either lie against my chest on top of Bess, squeeze in if there's room by my side, or stretch out lengthwise on my legs.  Ralph makes periodic visits, but hasn't the patience to lie still for any length of time.  Between the dog and a nearly 15-pound cat, believe me, I'm going nowhere.  Consequently, I finished the book before barn chores at dusk.  Pushing and shoving, I dislodged an unwilling Bess.  Celeste can take a hint and leaves on her own.  Stiff and staggering to my feet, it was time to take care of the critters before dark.

Covered as I was with a blanket of fur, I'd not noticed the chill in the air and with my nose in the book, I hadn't seen how overcast the sky had become.

I'm going to have to put on a brave face today and deal with the computer.  Crum.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mendicants and Benefactors

It seems that every time I turn around I find another open mouth begging to be fed.  Is it not enough that I support umpteen wild turkeys, innumerable mice, Thing in the barn, deer in the garden, etc., etc., etc., in addition to the animals and fowl I signed up for?  (For which I signed up, for the stranded preposition purists.)  When putting the girls to bed, first I put a small amount of grain in three bowls, leaving two in the little feed stall while one is put in Cindy's room.  Then I distribute the other two in Inga's and Poppy and Sheila's stalls before letting the girls in one (or two) at a time.  For the last week, as soon as I'd leave to put Cindy's treat down, a small sparrow zipped in to grab a bite from the other bowls.  This cheeky little twerp would actually face me down if he'd not yet found a nibble to his liking.  Last night, he sat on the feed shelf as if waiting for his serving as I dished out the grain.  "Give up and give in."  He obviously wasn't going to leave, even when I was a foot away.  Feeling like Lady Bountiful, I tossed a helping his way and went on about my business.  Add one more to the list.

I had a benefactress of my own yesterday when Arden took me to lunch at the now-famous Bones Roadhouse for a hamburger that has one drooling before it even arrives.  I swear that "this time" I'm going to try something new from the menu, but know I'd leave feeling deprived if I didn't order a #2, cheeseburger and onion rings, so inevitably stick with the tried and true.  Another afternoon spent in the company of a good friend.

I was working at the computer yesterday when Celeste left my lap, tromped across the keyboard and ruined my life.  Whatever combination of keys under her paws caused the screen to lock, tabs across the top and bottom to go missing, and I can't approach the desktop without restarting the computer from scratch.  I had to reintroduce myself to Firefox and Facebook, and my lists of favorites and most-visited sites are gone.  Time was short yesterday.  I will be the one begging for help today, as soon as I figure out who to ask.

Honestly, I wasn't going to post any more pictures of sundowns, but on a day when I didn't, I got a call asking, "How was your sunset last night?"  So, here we go again.  I hate to disappoint.

Celeste notwithstanding, it was a good day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wheels On the Bus

"Wheels on the bus go round and round...."  The cats have hatched a nefarious after-dark plot.  Thwarted in their attempt to push me off the bed at night and not satisfied with nailing down the blanket, they're trying a new tactic.  I went to sleep in the middle of the bed, parallel to the edge.  I woke up on the diagonal, head almost dangling over.  I could be wrong but, if this continues, they will spin me around until my head is at the foot with my feet on the pillow.  Exhausted from their nighttime endeavors, Celeste lies sleeping across my lap and Ralph is snoring on the bed behind me.  I will not give in to temptation, but I know what I feel like doing.  Heh heh heh.

Instead of going around and around in circles as is my wont, yesterday's efforts were spent in the round room, starting at the counter and cleaning everything as I turned.  The largest portion of "pigabilia" is in there and moving and dusting multiple dozens of miniature piggies is no small feat.  Pig photographs and paintings hang on the walls and a pig wind chime hangs from the ceiling.  Thirty or forty stuffed pigs look down from a high shelf.  Facing that room is daunting, and I'm usually daunted into ignoring the whole thing.  I'm pleased that I got around my own attitude and the round room is polished and shiny.

Making the rounds at dusk last night, I'd put the big girls to bed and was on my way out of the pen when I glanced to the west and caught the very last round curve of the sun as it dropped below the horizon.  It was gone by the time I reached the gate.

I'll have to wait until tonight to see what spin the cats will put on me.  Is it any wonder I wake up laughing?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Turning Over A New Leaf

Camille and her mom, Olga, are much more ambitious than I.  The other day they brought up a little trailer load of yard trimmings for the goats.  We dumped it over the fence and watched the girls tear into the pile, picking out special tidbits.  I'd explained that goats really are selective and are firm believers in "eating dessert first."  Dandelions were the first to go down gullets, followed by daisies, and then the quince and apple leaves and twigs.  Olga noted that the rosemary did not seem to be a favorite.  "Of course not, rosemary goes with lamb."  It took her a minute.

Some years back, a recipe made the rounds for Asian Chicken Salad with cabbage and dry ramen noodles.  The dish showed up at every office party and potluck because it was easy, economical, very tasty, and made a lot.  It seemed to go out of vogue, probably from overuse, but there I was with a cabbage in the fridge and the other ingredients in freezer and cupboards.  It was every bit as good as I remembered:  it was good on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  It may be awhile before I make it again.

With the best of intentions to stay on top of things (and there are so many things needing attention), time slips past before I can blink.  To my surprise, it seems I'd not balanced my check register in three months.  I would have sworn I did it just the other day.  I spent yesterday afternoon catching up.  I'd started the project the day before, but gave it up when I encountered a data entry error that I didn't want to face and had no time then to chase down.  (Found and corrected.)  I'm making a resolution to do everything(??!!) in a timely fashion this year.

The new bedtime routine seems to be working; at least I'm not being pushed to the edge.  The cats, however, have adapted and worked out a system of their own.  Instead of working in unison to shove me over, they now divide to conquer, one on either side of my legs to pin me down beneath the cover.  Like two-ton bookends, they effectively prevent me from turning over.

Five full years ago, on January 13, 2010, I wrote the first entry about my days on Farview Farm.  Five years!  Did I not just say how swiftly time passes?  Joy and grief, excitement and tedium, birth and death:  a prime example of the more things change, the more they are the same.  It was a good day, then and now.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nights On the Edge

Bess, Ralph, Celeste, and I have our assigned places on the bed at lights out.  After a ritual back rub, Bessie Anne moves over to her pillow.  After racing around and working off a last burst of energy, the cats lie down at the foot.  I, however, am the only one who plays by the rules.  The other night I awoke any number of times, clinging to the edge and in danger of falling off.  Bending a knee sent it into space, out from under the blanket and into the cold.  Bess had shifted to my pillow and the cats were on my feet.  Some arcane law of physics causes dog and cats to become as heavy as marble after I fall asleep.  Like the migrating rocks of the desert, these lumps crowd closer and closer until there's no room for me.  I can't turn over and I can't move the critters.  Cleverly, last night I devised a plan to thwart a repeat performance.  Instead of my customary place, I lay down toward the middle of the bed, leaving plenty of leeway to the edge.  Did I sleep the night through?  I did not.  I kept waking up to see if the plan was working.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


I had a pretty relaxed set of priorities yesterday; things to do without a lot of rushing around, and the first was to sit in the sun with Bess, read a couple of chapters, and work up to house chores slowly.  Then came a phone call with the threat of guests later on.  Drop the book, grab the dog, and leave the sunshine outside.  Kicking it into high gear, cats and dog scattered as I raced around with the vacuum and swooshed through the kitchen.  The company didn't come.  Oh well, I'm ahead of the game today.

I was sent another photo from our Christmas.  There is a back story to this silly string insanity.  As I said, we were all given Lotto scratchers.  Some fiend who shall remain nameless declared a winner would be the target for attack.  Even I acknowledged the fairness of this and then, silly me, I uncovered the right combination and yelled, "I won!"  'Nuff said.

A good day deserves a good ending.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ms. Fix-It Strikes Again

Just past the point of no return on the way to the barn, I remembered that I'd forgotten the screw and tool to fix the rake.  Crum.  Not about to creep around the stalls as I'd done, I decided to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Aside:  my middle son's name is Peter, named for a great-uncle long gone before my son came on the scene.  I've often wondered what he thought as he grew up.  Did he feel bad about continually being robbed?  Did he feel special when everything was for him alone (for Pete's sake!).  One of these days, I'll have to ask him.  But I digress.

Searching the barn walls and doors, I found a screw that was the right diameter, if not length.  It did not seem to be critical to the stability of that wall, and so I stole it and put it in the rake.  It sticks out like a sore thumb, but the rake works and I was able to stand up and do that which needed to be done.

Flush with success, back at the house I found my stash of light bulbs and changed the two dead-o's in the kitchen.  Ta da!  Or not.  I flipped the switch and not only did the new bulbs not light, the one that had been working did not light.  Crum.  All fixtures in the kitchen are recessed in the ceiling, so it's not such an easy job to switch bulbs.  I'm not as agile as I once was, and I was climbing on the step stool here, there, and everywhere as I tried to figure this out.  Out here in the boonies, one buys ahead of need and evidently I'd either gotten a bad batch of bulbs or they'd died of neglect or old age in the closet.  Wiggling and jiggling five sockets, I did get contact with those necessary fixtures and, "Let there be light!"

The goats get a dish of grain every morning.  Poppy does not.  She can play me like a violin, though.  Poppy knows my routine better than I and, when she's feeling needy, shows up at the gate just after I've filled the bucket for the next day.  In my mind, I hear Cab Calloway singing "Minnie the Moocher" as Poppy waits hopefully for a handout.  How could I refuse that face?  She can count:  she counts on getting a treat and can count to three, the number of handfuls she gets and no more.  After the third, she wanders off.  Sheila waits until Poppy is gone and then scarfs up the grain Poppy dropped.

After a few days in the 50s and 60s, yesterday was overcast and the temperature dropped significantly.  Moisture was falling from the clouds at sundown, but not enough to reach the ground (where we need it!).  Made for a pretty sunset, though.  It is again cold and grey this morning.  Go figure. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Out Of Sight

Cats in the silken jungle.  I'd wanted to get a photo of Ralph and Celeste for the longest time as they hid and ambushed each other from behind the silk plant behind the bathtub.  Ralph is sure Celeste can't see him, and Celeste goes along with his out-of-sight game and always acts surprised.  It's not necessarily a room in which I take pictures, but when I'd go to get a camera the cats would be distracted and follow me; opportunity lost.  These felines are a constant source of amusement.

"For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.  For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.  For want of a horse, the rider was lost.  For want of a rider, the message was lost.  For want of a message, the battle was lost.  For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.  And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."  Back in the day, this is the sort of rhyme we had to learn.  It came to mind the other day as I was cleaning stalls in the barn.  I use a leaf rake to gather the roly-poly pellets to shovel into a bucket to throw over the fence into an ever-growing dung heap called "garden gold" in these parts.  The plastic rake part is held to the handle by a small screw.  Constant use had caused the screw to work loose and it needed to be tightened daily (I have a great Leatherman multipurpose tool in the barn for just such occasions).  Diligent in my duty, I was working away when suddenly the rake head dropped off.  There was that moment of "Whaaa?"  Obviously, the screw had finally stripped its threads and fallen out, leaving me with a bare handle in my hands.  One would think a metal screw would not be hard to find on an already raked dirt floor, but one would be wrong.  For want of a screw, the only way to finish the job was to bend and scrape with the rake head alone.  This is not easy and takes forever.  It, naturally, had happened as I was cleaning the first, not the last, stall.  Screws and the battery for the electric drill (a new hole would have to be drilled in the wooden rake handle) are downstairs.  I've been on a dead run the past few days and after a full day, a rake is the last thing on my mind.

It's pretty much the same thing with the burned-out light bulb(s) in the ceiling fixture(s) in the kitchen.  Getting up at o'dark-thirty, a light in the kitchen is required.  When the first bulb blew, "Oh, I need to replace that today."  Coffee and feeding cats and dog were the priority and then I left the kitchen.  It's a sunny room so I didn't need to flip the switch until the next morning.  "Oh crum.  I really need to do something about that," but went on to the next chore.  Light bulbs in my house all seem to expire at the same time.  Now two are out.  Out is the definitive term here.  I operate on the "out of sight, out of mind" principle.  Today is the day.  I will replace light bulbs and I will replace the screw on the rake.  Someone please remind me of this tomorrow so I can take the pledge again.

Can't stop myself.  Taken just before the sun dropped out of sight.

It was a good day.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Busy Bee

This bumbler's busy days ended when it tried to go swimming in winter, but it is so pretty and perfect.  The weather has made another shift which confuses plants, insects, and animals.  They burgeon when they should be dormant.  We're back up in the 50s and 60s; hard to complain, but we need more rain.  Even a jacket is too warm down in the barn these days.

It was me buzzing around yesterday.  I had a luncheon date with Tinka, my friend from Fiddletown.  I raced through morning chores, sluiced down, spiffed up, and met Tinka at a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in Mt. Aukum neither of us had tried before.  We were seated at one of those trendy, tall little tables with chairs of matching height.  Our giggle-fest began as we, ladies of  "a certain age," struggled to hoist ourselves up and then sat there, our feet dangling like kindergartners' at the grownups' table.  We continued to laugh as our conversation hiccupped along.  Tinka, "Now where was I going with that thought?," and me spewing Spoonerisms.  It was a good thing the cafe was not crowded or we might have been 86'd for being grey-haired rowdies, and we chortled at that idea, too.  Talking and laughing, time slipped by.  We both had places to go and things to do.  We slid to the floor from our highchairs, and it was a surprise to find when we were leaving that the hostess had to unlock the door to let us out.  The cafe had closed and they hadn't said a word to us.  That sent us out the door laughing again.  Our server must have wondered what we'd been slipping into our coffee on the sly.  Always leave 'em guessing, that's my motto; we can do the laughing on our own.

I stocked up on feed for the kids and headed home.  Bessie's deafness is getting worse.  Usually waiting for me at the door on my return because she's heard the truck drive up, she was in my chair and didn't even hear me come in yesterday.  I had to approach carefully so I didn't scare her.  Bess has been trained with hand signals, which aren't much good now as she's also losing her sight.  It just takes a bit of patience, and we get along just fine.

It was a lovely day, and a beautiful ending.

Happy birthday to my son Larry today!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ginger Is A Spice

Ginger, the little red sex-link hen, the escape artist who free ranges daily, certainly adds spice to my life.  I barely make it out of the pen of a morning before Ginger is over the fence and on her way to her nesting box in the feed barn.  While I put away the bucket and scoop, she settles herself just so, clucking quietly to herself while she fluffs her feathers and gets ready to do her job.  She warns me away with low growls when I invade her territory to get the goats' alfalfa and I carefully avoid her corner.  During the day, she hangs out with the big kids, the turkeys who forage under the oak for birdseed and scrape under leaves for bugs, etc.  The turkeys seem to tolerate this small, gutsy redhead in their midst.  On days when the flock gets a slurp of milk, Ginger comes running to partake.  A running chicken with wings akimbo looks like a cartoon character and makes me laugh every time.  I feel bad when it's a "save the milk" day and the hens go without.  Ginger wanders away and the others line up inside the fence, all dejected and deprived.  At eventide, after putting the big girls to bed, I haul the cart up to the feed barn and love to see Ginger waiting by the drive.  There is something I find endearing about seeing this little friend at dusk.  She seems happy to see me too and accompanies me, chatting about the day's events, while I park the cart.  She leads the way to the gate, waiting to be let in.  As with the other critters, routine is everything.  Ginger goes into the pen and I go get nighttime treats.  The Silkies get theirs first and that's their signal to go into the Taj; I close them in for the night.  Ginger and the flock gather by the gate, clustering around my feet, always making me feel like Gulliver among the Lilliputians.  I'm careful not to tread on skinny toes and we somehow make it all together into the hen house where I throw down scratch and gather eggs.  Some of the hens might have already roosted, but rarely can they resist getting up for a bedtime snack.  My last task before dark is to check Ginger's box.  She lays an egg almost daily, good girl that she is.  Ginger, like all spice, adds to the flavor of my days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Flip The Page

Obviously, I don't pay enough attention to calendars, but I like them just the same.  I like getting a new, clean calendar each year.  I like transferring birthdays and anniversaries.  I use the calendar to tally income from milk and eggs.  It's not formal bookkeeping, but it is documentation.  The calendar is my record of social engagements.  Funny, but each time the Kids some up, singly or in groups, there is always an exclamation point:  Deb and Craig here!, Clay here!, Dave and Jester here!  Other guests are just as welcome, but it's my Kids who make my heart race.  Like the back pages in an old bible, the calendar is where I record births and deaths of family, friends, and animals, and pause to think of each one as I turn from month to month.  Writing the daily blog, I don't journal as I used to in bound books, but a few words scribbled on a dated square are a reminder of good times and the other kind, as well.  The events of an entire year are condensed into twelve pages.  Memories at the flip of a page.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Little Of This...

At 34 degrees yesterday morning, it was the first day in what seemed like forever (okay, three, four days at most) I didn't have to smash ice in the goat trough.  A few thunks broke the residual crust, although it did look like floating icebergs.  My mental calendar is so easily screwed up.  What with our Christmas last weekend (we all know how I messed up the dates on that one) and New Year's somewhere after that, I had myself convinced that yesterday was Monday (it was Sunday).  I had to adjust the planned day's tasks to suit.

Days run together here like tributaries to the river.  Not to say they all run downhill, it's just that they blend together.  That may be one reason why I don't "get'er done" all in one day.  There must be something left to do tomorrow.  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)  Yesterday was a "little bit of this and a little bit of that" day.  On one of our forays outside, Bess watched from a spot in the sunshine while I deadheaded some of the herb garden in the front yard.  I think the goats listen for the sound of the front door.  Even though I might be unseen over the crest of the hill, they come from the far corners of the pen, line up by the fence and call whenever I come out.  Gardening was not what I'd intended, but we were out there and I needed to something.  While I may have nothing but time, I don't like to waste it.  The yards get so straggly in winter.  Still in plant mode, back in the house the inside plants needed water and attention.  Not able to face one more meal of it, I portioned and bagged up the remaining chili verde for the freezer.  Half an onion, a few frozen vegetables, cream close to the "use by" date, garlic growing green sprouts, the last of a container of Parmesan; a little of this and a little of that and dinner was a nummy fettuccini Alfredo.

Eggs are beginning to pile up in the fridge.  It may be that the little girls have cranked up production because it's warmer to sit in a corner and lay an egg, or they might just be bored with winter weather, but I'm bringing in more and more each night.  It's been awhile since I've made mayonnaise or, even better, aioli.  I'm a waste not-want not person, and there are just so many eggs one person can eat.

Nothing important on the calendar for today.  I'll probably just do a little of this and a little of that.  It's going to be a good day.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

See It My Way

The other day, as Mrs. Go-To and I stood in the drive and waited for news from Go-To, Bessie took refuge from the cold in the juniper bush and covered herself with leaves.  Finished with chores yesterday, it dawned on me that it was warm enough if I stayed in the sunshine to sit outside with Bess Anne.  Definitely beer-and-a-book time!  We both sat like lizards, letting the heat, such as it was, seep into our bones.  Frozen troughs and waterers have changed the routine.  If the critters are to get a drink, I've got to break ice early and fill up at night; no faucet will work in the morning.  The water bowl for the wild things has scratch marks in the ice from the turkeys, the early birds out and around.  Barn mice come out of the woodwork, waiting for their warm milk.  I'm happy to see Mini-Squint and Little Larry show up.  I know one isn't supposed to have favorites, so I don't tell the anonymous others as they dash out to grab a bite or a slurp.

Too cold to do much outside other than sit in the sun or bring more wood to the porch, it was a day to clean out and put away Christmas for another year.  This is probably the earliest I've ever accomplished this task.  It helped that I didn't put out much to start with.  I must remember to hold that good thought in future.

Just as I look at life here (and life in general) with an eye to seeing beauty, amusement, drama, I look for photo opportunities.  I am so pleased that the cellphone that is always with me prevents me from whining, "Oh, if I only had a camera right now!"  Digital technology means I can share pictures immediately.  How cool is that?  Last night, an old moon shone on the new year, rising in the east over the pines across the way.

Back in the house and looking out the kitchen windows with a view to the west, I saw repetition of another gorgeous sunset.

Sunrise today blazed and illuminated the clouds from below. 

I hope the pictures give everyone a chance to see Farview my way.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


I am touched by many in so many ways.  Random acts of kindness make indelible prints on my heart.  Gifts of time do not come with fancy paper and ribbons, but they are more precious than gold.  My daughter gave me such a gift yesterday.  She had asked to meet me in town (her brand new, low-slung car would have difficulty on our rutted roads) and we went to a restaurant that has particular meaning for me.  We rarely have the opportunity for mother-daughter visits these days and I treasured every minute.  I got to go for a ride in her hybrid vehicle, amazed at the cockpit with all the bells and whistles and the fact that as we went through town, the car was using no gasoline whatsoever.  Who'da thunk it?!  Our time together passed all too quickly and it didn't matter that someone might wait for her parking space as we hugged goodbye.

My parents were not huggers.  Always kisses hello, goodbye, and goodnight, always on the cheek, but not much touching otherwise.  I was interning while in college when I meet a woman who kept a hand on my arm while talking, who hugged at every opportunity.  It felt a bit strange at first, but I decided I liked that affectionate contact and we became best friends.  Our children were the same ages and we spent a lot of time together over the years.  Later, when I consulted in a number of convalescent hospitals, when I had occasion to be among the patients/residents I made it a point to stroke, hug, and kiss.  I'll never forget the woman who told me with tears in her eyes that "I don't get many kisses anymore."  My own children recognize the value of touch:  brother to brother and to sister, they hug and kiss each other - and me!

Deb and I exchanged gifts of another sort yesterday, the ones we'd forgotten at Christmas.  She got the jar of buttered rum mix and I got the ritual box of See's candy given every year in my dad's memory, as well as presents for Celeste and Ralph (Bessie Anne had already received hers).  Deb and Craig gave the cats a tiny, furry toy mouse that emits a real mouse squeak when moved.  Ralph and Celeste were in ecstasy!  They batted, chased, and rolled until exhausted.  The cats slept well last night.

There are those who might say I'm "tetched" at the simple things that affected me today.  It matters not.  I'm rich with the gifts received, my daughter's time being pure platinum.  And the See's didn't hurt, either.  I was touched.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Good and Bad and Good Again

Tradition demands watching the Rose Parade on January 1 and I am a traditionalist.  Even if I can't watch the whole event, I saw at least part of it before going out to the animals.  It was a good way to start the New Year.  Water in the chicken "bowls" was frozen, as was the pipe by the pen so I had to wait until after the goat chores were done to get the hens a drink.  I broke the ice in the goats' trough on the way to the barn; it was frozen over again on the way back.  Did I mention it was cold?  (Twenty-six degrees again today.)

In addition to the loss of other faculties, Bessie Anne appears to be developing doggy Alzheimer's.  You can see the wheels turning as she tries to figure out where she's going or what she's doing, but not much happens.  She becomes fixated when she finally decides, and when she decides she wants up in my lap, there is no dissuading her.  I had to either keep moving or get anchored to the chair, so began packing up what few decorations I'd put up and moving stuff back to the sheds.  I got a good start on getting the house back in order.  I did note there was a funny gurgling when the toilet flushed, but I was busy and didn't give it much thought.

Not until I started in on the kitchen did I discover I had no water.  No water?!  That's bad.  I checked the outside pipes and all seemed well.  I checked the pressure pump in the first shed.  I'd never seen the gauge bounce like that; it's either up or it's down.  New Year's Day.  Aarrgh.  I called Go-To Guy just to ask for advice and see if he could put me on the list for sometime in the foreseeable future if he could diagnose the problem over the phone.  "You've got a break in the line somewhere.  Turn off the pump right now!  I'll get there when I can."  My heart sank and dollar signs flashed in front of my eyes.  My solution to panic and depression is to keep moving.  Bessie Anne could not keep up as I went from room to room.  I could hardly believe it when Go-To and Mrs. Go-To drove up less than an hour later.  We were all worried when he went down to the well in the front pasture, afraid that might be the source of the problem.  Mrs. Go-To and I went into the house to await his findings.  When Go-To came in later, I tried to read his face as he didn't say anything at all.  Was he smiling? frowning? what??  He finally asked, "Did you remember you have a water line to those trees in the south pasture?"  I had not.  That's where the PVC had split.  He'd already fixed it.  He told me that if I hadn't called when I did, I would have burned out the well pump.  I thought that was the best news ever, but I was wrong.  Handing him a beer (I'd have fixed him hot cocoa or cider but had no water), I held my breath and asked his fee, wondering how many piggy banks I'd have to break to cover it.  He named some unbelievably low price that would hardly cover his gas cost.  It was a fraction of his normal call-out and it was a holiday!  Who, in their right mind, argues with an expert that they didn't charge enough?  Digging in my pockets, I handed him over twice what he'd quoted.  Just in case anyone in the Fair Play area is reading this, Jim Hammonds of Hammond's Water Pump Service is a jewel that you want to tend your property and keep as a good friend.  And he gives great hugs.

It was one of those roller-coaster days.  Good, bad, and good again.  I'll settle for good again any day of the week.

And guess what?  I'm meeting my daughter in town for lunch today.  It just gets better and better.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Then and Now

Once upon a time, long, long ago, New Year's Eve was an occasion to dress up and stay up celebrating until the wee hours of the morning.  Years go by and one's perspectives and priorities change.  It happens that there is an English pub in downtown Fair Play ("downtown" consisting of the pub and a hardware store across the road).  December 31 is also my friend Camille's birthday and we decided to live it up in style to honor both occasions and meet at the pub a whole mile away.  Midnight in England occurred at four o'clock p.m. our time and that's when The Pub (accurate, if not original) began the British festivities.  Camille, her mother Olga, and I met up about 3:30, perfect timing for ladies "of a certain age."  The little bar quickly filled with locals ready to party hard and, at the stroke of four, poppers exploded, confetti rained down, and "Happy New Year!" was shouted by one and all.  Of course, "Happy birthday!" was included at our table.  One beer later and still wearing my own tiara, I left at 4:30 and got home in time to put the goats, sheep, and chickens to bed.  Woot woot!

The last sundown of 2014 was a blaze of glory on my way back from the barn.

For years, the tradition in my family was to start a round-robin series of phone calls at midnight to wish each other Happy New Year.  Now we text each other before 9 p.m., none of us still up at 12.  At 9:30, dozing in the chair, I was awakened by the phone.  It was a surprise call from a great-nephew in Massachusetts whom I've only seen once.  How pleasant to be remembered by the second generation down.

The first sunrise of 2015 and it is just as cold out as it looks.  Twenty-six degrees here this morning.  I hope it is at least a little warmer in down in Pasadena for those participating in the Rose Parade.

Yesterday, I was hauling extra feed to the goat pen and forgot to break the ice in the water trough.  I realized my error on the way back when I saw Inga licking, not drinking.  I'll have to do better today.

I may not celebrate in the same way now as I did then, but my wishes for everyone are the same.  Happy New Year!!