Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cockeyed Optimist

(South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1949)

I was a bit premature yesterday in thinking there might be a silver lining to the immolation of Fu Manchu and weed-eater inasmuch as the owner of the shop had let his insurance lapse.  They are not offering anything in the way of hope for reimbursement.

Storm clouds continued to roll in when I called my home insurance company to see about the possibility that my equipment was covered.  Resolution of that issue remains to be seen, but I was informed that my policy will end in September and will not be renewed because (wait for it) I live in a high fire danger district.  Isn't that why I've been paying high premiums all these years?

They say bad things come in threes.  Throw in the cancer and I think I've reached that limit, so I'm still looking for the light at the end of the current tunnel.  Call me a cockeyed optimist, if you will.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Silver Linings

On many mornings as I start to milk, I hear Don Williams singing "Lord, I Hope Today Is Good" (1982).  Mainly I'm hoping that the milking goes easy; that Inga's teats are manageable, that Sheila doesn't put her foot in the bucket, and that Tessie doesn't plug up as she's prone to do.  Yesterday it actually did go well, but I had reason to hope that the day would still hold good things.

They say every dark cloud has a silver lining, and that was true for my cancer cloud after meeting with my oncologist.  I like that man so much; he took an hour to explain my particular type of cancer and possible courses of treatment.  Best of all, he listened to me.  Yes, I will need radiation treatments and yes, anti-estrogen therapy, but no, I will not require chemotherapy.  I'll be meeting with the radiologist in another week or so (aarrgh, another trip down the hill - and more in the future).

On my return home, I got a text from Pete saying he enjoyed reading about the furry farm thugs.  He then went off on a riff about doo-rags or long black-leather coats and Edward G. Robinson voices and pretty soon I was rolling on the floor laughing.  My Kids are the shining silver lining to my life.

One dark cloud sprang up in the evening and I've yet to see the bright side.  The repair shop where I'd sent Fu Manchu and the rolling weed-eater went up in flames and as far as I can tell from the photos, nothing was saved.  The shop is on the edge of the forest and luckily the fire fighters were able to stop the blaze before it went far into the trees.

Things are just things.  All in all, I'd say it was a good day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dorothy And Me

"I'm off to see the wizard...."  I'm in my own version of The Wizard Of Oz (without the tornado), and I get to play any part I want.  Today I'm Dorothy, off to see the oncologist, The Wiz who will plot my course on this adventure.  So much has happened in the two months since the cancer was detected, it does feel like I'm caught in a whirlwind.

With temperatures soaring this week, I take the role of the Wicked Witch who, when doused with water, cried, "I'm melting!  I'm melting!"  That's me when I stop by the goat trough on my way back from the barn to sluice down with the hose or go out on the deck to stand under the mist nozzle with my little dog (Bessie, not Toto) by my side.

I've assigned the part of the flying monkeys to the blankety-blank ground squirrels, pesky little boogers.  The hens and pullets are definitely Munchkins.  Can't you hear them singing, "Follow the yellow brick road" as they cluster around?

Ralph is Scarecrow before he got a brain, dashing up and down the stairs as he does.  Celeste, hmmm.  Celeste is probably Tin Man after being given a heart.  Even in this heat, she wants to cuddle.  There are no Cowardly Lions here.

Now if I could just find my ruby-red slippers.

Monday, June 27, 2016


Percy and Pal have moved on from petty thievery to major crimes.  Using either bribery or extortion, they've got several of the goats tipping the food dish to dump a bit of grain under the stand where I can't squirt or swat.  I've admonished the girls that they should not be abetting criminals, but whatever the squirrels have on them is more threatening than my advice.  I can hear the boys crunching and munching behind me as I'm milking, but there's nothing I can do to stop the little hoodlums.

There are currently three squirrel burrows under the porch and I consider this a home invasion.  Instead of a single-family dwelling, I now live in a condominium.  It's all downhill from here, and there goes the neighborhood.

Thing went on a full-scale rampage yesterday, knocking over boxes large enough to block the door (thankfully, there are two doors to the feed shed).  While I don't like it, I understand why he's chewed through the lid to the chicken scratch.  I do not understand why he tore open the bag of oyster shells and continued until there was nothing but torn paper and shells all over the floor.  That's just plain meanness.  If I could catch him, I'd have him sent up on vandalism charges in a heartbeat.  If Thing ever gets his paws on a can of spray paint....

 The danged ground squirrels have become the bane of my life.  Little thugs, all of 'em.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Thug Life

Why can't we all just get along?  Goats grazing peacefully in the field, chickens pecking at their grain, birds playfully splashing in the birdbath.  That's the way it should be.  Not.  Perhaps the heat had made them cranky, but yesterday the girls were ganging up on Cindy, pushing her away from the alfalfa.  It hurts my feelings when the herd is mean to my little black goat with her pink tongue stuck out.  She is my BFF, after all, and she tells me that every morning.

Percy and Pal were tag-teaming me, one sneaking in to steal grain on one side of the stand while the other ripped off the mice's (is that a word?) breakfast on the other.  One I could douse with a stream of milk and the other I could swat at but never hit as they continued to raid.  These pint-sized thieves are a pain in the patoot.  The thing is, if they would just show a little patience, I put down feed just for them before leaving the barn.

One of the red pullets thinks she is boss.  They all come tumbling out when their door is opened, some running to the grain, others going for water, and that red one comes after me!  She pecks at my shoes and tries to run me out of the pen.  She'd better realize which side of her bread is buttered and who puts it there, or pot pie could go on the menu.

Once the sun had started its afternoon slide, Bess and I went out to the porch while I turned the sprinkler on in the herb garden.  It fills the birdbath at the same time, and it doesn't take long for my feathered friends to arrive.  A California jay was happily splashing when a much smaller redheaded woodpecker bully drove him away.  The woodpecker raucously shouted his victory cry, claiming the territory for his gang.  Pretty soon there were four or five 'peckers in the pool, their red heads frouzled from the spray. 

So much for the Peaceable Kingdom.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


It's a great word that, "thwart."  It even sounds like a slap upside the head that would stop you dead in your tracks.  And dead in my tracks was where I was yesterday until I finally limped my way along.  It being somewhat cooler, there was a spark of ambition fanned by a guest arriving in the afternoon.  Every time Bessie Anne comes in the house she brings in an assortment of leaves and stickers to deposit on the rug, so vacuuming was at the top of the list.  Vroom!  Down the hall and in front of the door, and then nothing.  The vacuum cleaner quit.  Click, click.  Nope.  Nothing.  I changed the plug to a different outlet.  Nothing.  The motor felt really warm, so I took parts off to help it cool and let it sit.  Put it back together and ta da!  Another four feet of carpet swept and then nothing.  Again.  I took the canister off, sat in my chair, and figured out how to dismantle it so as to clean an inaccessible filter.  However, in doing so I dumped a huge mound of dust on the already littered floor and, of course, Bess wanted to be by my feet and so tromped through the mess to add her footprints on the rug.  The vacuum wouldn't vacuum and now the problem had compounded one-hundredfold.  Not enough time to run to town to get a new vacuum.  Thwarted at every turn.  Alternately cussing and saying, "Please, please, please," I put the machine back together, crossed my fingers, and hit the switch.  It roared to life and I raced around the living room like a madwoman and got the last corner swept before, you guessed it, the vacuum died again.  My inclination was to beat the thing beyond recognition but with remnants of sanity, I put it in the dark closet and shut the door to give it a time-out to think about its sins.  In the meantime, I dusted. 

Harold arrived soon thereafter, bearing an ice-cold watermelon that we took out to the deck to enjoy.

All's well that ends well.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Knights On White Horses

Long gone are the days when knights rode white horses, now they drive up in SUVs as Beau did yesterday.  He had his kids in the car and he stopped by on his way to take those smiling faces to the river to cool off.  He not only offloaded the grain, he emptied the bags into the barrels and trundled the salt block down to the pen for me.  The kids proudly showed me their life jackets, all chattering away like magpies.  Hopefully I will not have to ask for help again, at least not soon.  I'd also like to thank Linda for her kind offer to send an employee down to move the bags.  (Emmy, our mailman is a mail-lady and our mail is not delivered to our homes.  Our mailboxes are down at the "big road," which means it is paved, potholed yes, but a paved two-lane road.  I don't think she'd be much help, but it was a good idea.)

Ralph seems to have an identity crisis.  He runs ahead of me down the hall and then throws himself on the floor, belly up for a tummy rub like a dog.  What's up with that?  His sister Celeste just looks at him.

The chickens had better start earning their keep or I'm going to be singing the Colonel Sanders song.  I haven't picked up an egg in nearly two weeks.  Right now they're a bunch of lazy lay-abouts on the dole.  The pullets aren't old enough to produce yet.  With twenty chickens in the yard, I'm going to be ticked off if I have to buy eggs from Camille.

Hahaha, Kit.  An "unofficial nap" in the recliner is the order of the day.  If I went to the bedroom, that would be an official admission of laziness, which I am not prepared to make.  Falling asleep in the chair, even with Bess Anne, is "just one of those things."  I'm good at doing just one of those things.

My satellite provider got into a price war with one of our local channels and the local channel pulled its transmission.  Calls to both resulted in the provider sending me some sort of device that will bring in stations from the air (don't ask me how these things work; I've never figures out electricity).  The little black box arrived yesterday afternoon, complete with wires to this and that and the most incomplete set of instructions ever.  I'm big on reading and following directions, but when it says to attach this wire to the "video in" plug and there is no "video in" on the television, I'm dead in the water.  The help line provided is on Eastern time, which is no help at all to those of us in the West.  I will be making more calls today, hoping to find another knight on the other end.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hard To Ask

Song of the day?  "Help" (Beatles, 1965).  When you've been used to doing things for yourself and have a tendency toward independence and, let's face it, stubbornness, it's hard to ask for help.  Beau had things to take care of on his own place so I've taken over raking the stalls again, albeit slowly, to be sure.  He came through like a champ when I was desperate for someone to milk the girls, so I felt bad yesterday when I texted and asked for his help again today.  I don't want to be "that lady down the road" who takes advantage of his good nature.  The problem being that I was out of chicken feed and had to go to Mt. Aukum for supplies.  I've been able in the past to unload the fifty-pound bags and get them into the shed and barrels, but I'm concerned about tearing open the still-healing incisions so, what're ya gonna do?  You ask for help.  (Haven't heard from him yet, but I'm hopeful.)

Watering, which takes no effort, is the chore of the day in this heat.  Bessie is due for a new pool, as hers has sprung a slow leak.  The potted plants wilt in one day if not kept damp, and the birds splash all the water out of their birdbath in the herb garden daily.  The pullets and hens drink two gallons from both pens, and the wild things empty their bucket every night.  I hope we got enough rain over the winter to sustain the ground water in our wells or we'll be in a world of hurt.  For that, there is no help as we learned last summer.

My panacea for dealing with soaring temperatures is sleep.  I nap a lot in summertime, when I'm not watering, that is.  Bess has slipped back in to her needy phase again, once more demanding to be in my lap when I sit.  These are not the days when I need a "hot dog" on my legs, but I can't bear the look in her eyes if I say no.  There is such a thing as too much togetherness, but try to explain that to a dog.

"Ain't no cure for the summertime blues" (Eddie Cochran, 1958).  Yes, there is.  It's called air conditioning!  When I win the lottery, that's the first thing I'm going to get.  Guess I'd better buy a ticket one of these days.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

That's Different

Sometimes I think that we here in the hills live in the world but are not of it.  Things that we take for granted happen here that could send city dwellers screaming in the streets.  The news goes out on the grapevine that mountain lions or bears have been sighted, but for the most part we live peaceably with our wildlife neighbors.  Don't want your chickens stolen by coyotes?  Don't let them free range.  Try not to step on snakes.  Look before putting a hand in a feed bucket or barrel; it's almost guaranteed to have mice or squirrels in there.  I'm just sayin'.

For some time, Camille had been hearing crunching in her pantry in the middle of the night.  She wasn't able to tell whether her cats had gotten into the food bag or if it was something else.  It was something else.  Awakened again by the crunch, crunch, crunch, she got up with a flashlight to solve the mystery.  Two beady eyes glowed as the flashlight beam caught a skunk with its mouth full of cat food.  Cat doors are not just for cats, it seems.  Being a sensible woman, Cam turned off the light, shut the door to the pantry, and went back to bed.  Get in a territorial dispute with a skunk and you'll lose.

Let's just say that life here is, well, different.  I'll take this life every time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Familiar Faces

"They grow up so quickly."  Before my, I hesitate to say "vacation" so let's call it "hiatus," there were any number of kindergartner mice running around in the barn.  Now it's hard to tell youngsters from the adults.  It is nice to see Miss Muffet is still taking her breakfast croissants to the corner.  Persistent Percy, not s'much.  I continue to squirt him with milk as he sneaks in to raid the grain pile and he continues to come back for more, his fur all spiky and wet.  Lumpy, the tree squirrel, has not yet adapted to the early feeding schedule; I haven't seen him lately.  I don't know whether he is sleeping in or has moved on.  It's always good to see familiar faces.

My long-time milk customer came yesterday, paying his $5 bill with a $20.  I'd frivolously spent my available funds at the Highland Games and so had to give him change with a few bills and twelve dollars in quarters from my poker stash.  He said they were very heavy.  I told him not to fall in the river.

My summertime program is in full effect.  It involves a lot of naps during the heat of the day.  What am I saying?  It's hot all day long!  Sometimes I cheat and go to the bedroom where there is a window air conditioner for a little relief.  Bessie Anne goes for a dip in her pool at least once a day.  Yesterday was the summer solstice (first day of summer) and it's already in the 90s!  Waking at 4:30 this morning, the full moon was so bright I thought it was daylight.

I have an appointment in a week or so with an oncologist who will plot my future course of treatment, which I know will include radiation.  Can't say I'm looking forward to that.

One thing about summer skies, there are spectacular sunsets.  Trying to catch the right timeline for beddy-byes, I took this shot on the way down to the barn.

The girls went willingly and readily into their stalls, easy-peasy.

In the short time that took, the colors of the sky had changed as I walked back up the hill to tackle the pullets.  There were only a couple of stragglers and the youngsters went into their coop for the night.  The bigger "little kids" know the routine well and were already inside.

It was a good, albeit hot, day.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Uff Da!

It's hard to acclimate when there is no transition time between a very pleasant day and the next when the temperature soars.  I don't know why it always catches me off guard as it happens every year, but it feels like a hot boulder drops on my head, leaving me listless as it did yesterday.  One good thing is that I've moved milking time up a couple of hours so the girls and I are out of the barn before it turns into a bake oven.  Beau cleaned the stalls and we chatted while I tended to the goats.  He confided that Esther and Sheila are his favorites in the herd, probably because they both like a head rub before leaving the stand, but maybe just because they have pleasing personalities.  (I'm partial to Cindy, for obvious reasons.)

There are six, not five, baby squirrels living under the porch.  Their mother lounges nearby while the little ones cavort in the shade by the front door.  I wish the critters were not such destructive varmints because baby anythings are cuter than cute and they are such fun to watch.

Running the sprinkler in the herb/peony garden and filling Bessie's pool were my most ambitious undertakings yesterday.  I did attempt a bit of weed pulling in the afternoon, but quickly gave that up in favor of sitting in the shade on the deck.

There is a fine timeline between enough light to get the goats into the barn easily and not dark enough for the pullets to want to go to bed.  Bess did her best last evening but the little ones scattered like BBs as I tried to shoo them into their coop from inside the pen.  Five in, three out.  No, three in, five out.  One on the roof, seven running around.  Finally!  All eight in and the door shut.  Uff da!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

All Good Things

My "vacation" ended yesterday and it was back to business as usual in the barn.  Honestly, I had missed my girls.  I think Cindy missed me, too, as she put her face to mine before getting down from the stand, huffing her breath and nuzzling all over my face and hair.  Beau had offered to clean stalls for me as I am a little concerned about the raking motion straining the incisions, and I took him up on it for the week ahead.

There was a time down in the valley that I never missed a Scottish Highland Games and gathering of the clans, sometimes driving many miles to hear bagpipes and drums, eat bangers, onions and chips, as well as critique manly men in skirts (not necessarily in that order).  I was delighted to learn at the last minute that Games were to be held in Plymouth yesterday, about as far to the south as Placerville is to the north from here.  Cam had never been, so after morning chores, off we went.

The day was everything one could have hoped for.  One either loves or hates bagpipes; I come down on the side of love.  (I've many CDs of Celtic music.)  We could hear the bands while still in the parking lot; it's hard to walk and not march in time to the drums.  The weather was perfect.  This was the first year Games have been held in Plymouth and there wasn't a lot of advance advertising so there weren't great crowds.  Cam and I cruised the vendors' stands, listened to the numerous bands, and, yes, I got my bangers (very mild sausages).  Wonderful costumes everywhere and lots of kilts.  I missed getting a photo of the Queen's Halberdiers on the march, an awesome sight with boots thundering on the ground, but caught Andrew for a quick shot.  That's not an optical illusion, I'm not that short and he really was that tall.

In the morning, Cam had been worried about being gone too long from home.  Ha!  I had to drag her away when it was time to leave, but all good things must come to an end sometime.

It was a very good day.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Taste Of Summer

Had the first sweet corn of the year last night.  Isn't it funny how a song, a scent, a taste will bring back memories?  Sweet corn equals summer to me.  How we would wait for Carl's Corn stand to open every summer when I was a kid.  There must have been other vendors, but my mother was loyal to Carl's.  It was she who taught me to pull back a few leaves of the husk to check for worm damage.  A local farmer recently complained about people doing that at her stand at a farmers' market.  Well, I wish I'd done it when I picked out my recent purchase because, sure enough, a worm had beat me to it.  No problem, it was easily broken off.  Back in the day, Carl's sold a big brown grocery bag of corn for a dollar!  That was then, this is now.  Only yellow corn was available, and I'll admit I've switched allegiance to the white, which I think is sweeter and more tender.

My mother, like most housewives of the time, cooked all vegetables (and meat) beyond recognition by today's quick-cook standards.  Corn was boiled for half an hour, fresh green beans were cooked until grey, pork chops could have been used for hockey pucks.  Trichinosis was still an issue with pork, so that was understandable, but there's no comparison with three-minute, crisp corn.  Also, all vegetables were sold fresh, and probably organic, because there was no frozen food.  When frozen vegetables became available, they were sold in little white boxes.  There was a processing plant in Pasadena where the veggies were frozen on one side of the road and air blown loose in a big tube above and across to the packaging plant on the other.  It made big news when the pipe broke and lima beans filled the road below.  Ah, the memories.

It was a cool day and the wind was blowing, but, to me, it was the first day of summer.  Now, if I just had a lawn, I'd go barefoot and know for sure that summer had arrived.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Very Good Day

The weather was perfect, in the low 70s, for yet another trip to town.  In spite of the El Dorado County fair going on, traffic on the back roads was light.  A hillside creeper weed with fuchsia-colored flowers bloomed everywhere.  If one has to travel, this was the way to do it.

I could tell from my doctor's smile when he came in that he had good news.  Cancer had not traveled to the lymph nodes.  Ta da!  Stitches were removed, but I still need to be careful with the incisions until completely healed.  I'm not totally out of the woods yet because there will be radiation just in case there are lurking cells.  I'll deal with that when the time comes.  I will not need to see my surgeon for six months!

Picking up the mail on my way to town, I found a card that touched me deeply.  It was from my OR team, with personal, handwritten notes from each of the nurses and staff who had cared for me before, during, and after my surgery.  I must have made a good first impression, because I've never heard of such a thing before.  Maybe they do this as a matter of course, in which case I hope they know how much it means to the recipients.  I certainly know how much it meant to me.

To celebrate the day, after making a few necessary stops I picked up an order of Beef Chow Fun for dinner.  Haven't had it in years, and, boy! was it good.

Deb and Craig had mentioned that they mix up a cup of hummingbird juice a week.  Phffft!  My hummers are going through two quarts a day!  They bang on the windows if I let the feeders get low.  "Hey, lady!  A little service here, please!"  I picked up another water bottle yesterday for the pullets as they drink the one-gallon jug I have now every day.  Maybe it's the altitude.

The morning had gone by in a blur of anxiety and anticipation.  The evening was a time for gratitude, spreading the word to family and friends, and a big sigh of relief.

It was a very good day.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Back On Track

For both our sakes, I'm happy Beau's illness was short-lived.  I'm more tired than I thought I would be and I was glad to hand over milking chores again yesterday.  One more day and it will be a week since surgery and I'm sure Beau will be glad to be released from duty (he'd agreed to tend the goats for a week).

Repair Guy came to pick up Fu and the rolling weed-eater in the morning.  I'd hoped to get in one more mowing session before everything is too dry and would create a fire hazard, but I guess that's not going to happen.  The star thistle in the west field is going to take over, but there's not much I can do with Fu on the fritz.

Linda came by in the afternoon bearing a bacon and mushroom quiche that we shared for early dinner.  It was delicious!  After a nice visit and she had gone, I snuck back for another slice (shhh, don't tell anybody).  Celeste seems to have turned a corner when company comes.  Ralph has always been a social animal, but Celeste stayed reclusive in the bedroom.  I think the four days of hiding out when the Wild Bunch was here did it for her.  She cautiously came out when Deb and Craig were here, and again during Linda's visit yesterday.

Crazy June weather.  One day in a tank top, the next in a flannel jacket.  It didn't even get in to the 60s yesterday, overcast and cold.  Looks like more of the same today, and next week it's predicted to be in the high 90s and low 100s.  Aaargh.  At least the blustery winds of yesterday have died down.

Hopefully my doctor won't get called away again and today we can get back on track with my appointments.  I'm anxious to hear what the ongoing plan will be.  This is uncharted territory for me and I do better with a map (and a flashlight, and snacks).

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hitches In The Git-Along

Seven a.m.  "I'm really not feeling well today."  I had planned on a full week off, but when Beau called in sick, there was nothing for it but to get down to the barn and milk goats yesterday.  Didn't have any real problems and it felt good to be back in harness.  I'd missed my girls.  I did not, however, clean the stalls because I was afraid the raking motion might strain my stitches.  It just wasn't the way I'd planned to start my day.

Fu Manchu sprang a leak in a rear tire.  The way the tractor is built, the wheels are set on in such a way that they won't come off, so the nice people at the repair shop will pick him today and fix said tire, as well as give him a well-baby checkup.  It's not exactly a two-fer, but I'm sending the suddenly defunct rolling weed-eater along with Fu.  Fixer Guy said he could get it running, too.  Hadn't planned on a repair bill, either.

Shortly before I was to leave the house, the doctor's office called.  Doctor had an emergency surgery and I was rescheduled for Thursday.  Oh well.

I'm the victim of a home invasion.  I'd noticed the cats watching intently out the front screen door, their heads going back and forth.  Wondering what the heck they were seeing, I got up to look.  I'd known the ground squirrels had a burrow right under the front porch for awhile (someday I expect the whole house to drop two feet because of all the holes).  There at the edge of and right on the porch were, I counted five, little baby squirrels.  It seems that closest burrow is a delivery room and nursery.  I can't say I'm happy with my new neighbors, but ohmigosh are they ever cute and also fearless.  One came right up on the step to the front door.  No, I'm not going to invite them in for tea and crumpets.

Okay, so the day went cattywhampus, but it was a good day just the same.  (I hope Beau had a quick recovery.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sleepytime Gal

Took a nap.  Took another nap.  Threw in one more just for good measure.  "Sleepytime Gal" (1925 song, 1942 movie), that was me.  In between, Bess and I sat in the shade on the deck.  I'm tellin' ya, it was a busy day.

Beau had concerns about Tessie.  He felt she was acting "funny" on the stand, so I went down to the barn with him to see what was what with my girl.  Turned out she'd evidently lain on a sticker or some such and had a small puncture on one teat (ouch!).  I put some medication on and showed him how to do it on his own.  More good experience for when his goats are ready.  It was reassuring that he has good instincts, realizing that something was wrong and asking questions rather than ignoring a possible problem.

The big hens are also on sabbatical.  I haven't picked up an egg in days.  This happens every year, but it's disappointing, just the same.  No eggs for sale and darned few for the refrigerator.  Since I'm not being very productive either, there's not much I can say to them.

The pullets are finally getting with the program and trooping into the coop at sundown.  However, if I try to put them to bed too early, they scatter like pinballs.  Bess does her best to herd from outside the chainlink fence when the little kids squeeze behind the Taj, but I'm not sure how much help that is.

No nap for me today; I've got an appointment in town.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Little Words

Two little words.  "Thank you."  It's hard to convey just how much can be behind those two little words when they come from the heart; one can only hope.  I owe so much to so many.  I'm not going to get sappy about this, but some things just need to be said.  Extended family, friends, people I've never met have sent or called with caring and good wishes that mean so much to me.  My Kids, who mean more to me than life itself have had my back always.  "Thank you" doesn't seem enough.

Deb and Craig stayed over another night and then worked themselves into the ground yesterday.  More weed whacking and trimming the young live oaks springing up along the driveway and threatening to take down the board fence.  How can I say thank you for all they have done?

They offered to stay longer if needed, but I'm honestly pain free and past the point of any medication.  (Yeah, I'm surprised, too.)  I don't know what will come next in this journey with cancer, but their kindness is like money in the bank and I don't want to overdraw my account.

I haven't had a day off or a vacation in over 12 years, so I'm taking full advantage of this week of leisure time to do a lot of nothing.  Beau is handling the goat situation well.  Putting the kids to bed is a piece of cake and no problem for me.

As always, when Deb and Craig drove down the driveway, we called, "Love you!"  Just two little words.

Damn, life is good!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Busy Bees

It was a very active hive yesterday when the worker bees took over the farm.  I sat like Lady Astor's horse while Deb and Craig whacked weeds, fixed the door on the pullets' coop, and did a myriad of other chores.  They have earned their gold stars in heaven for their good deeds and my gratitude forever.  Dave rumbled up on his bike and started right in to help, followed quickly by Clay, who also jumped into the deep end.  After a great lunch fixed by Deb, Dave had to take off and Deb, Craig, Clay and I took turns with the clippers to give Bessie Anne her summer puppy cut.  She was very patient, probably because she received constant reassurance that she looked beautiful (and got a number of special treats).  Clay stayed for dinner, again Deb's creation, and left about sundown.  Deb, Craig and I put all the kids to bed and they finally sat down for a well-earned rest.

I'm feeling very much like Queen For A Day.  Every hive needs a queen!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

All Over

"It's all over but the shouting," as the saying goes.  I'll admit that I did "cry for happy" (1961, Glenn Ford, Donald O'Connor, Miiko Taka) when the preliminary path report on the lymph nodes came back negative.  As if I didn't have enough to thank Deb and Craig for already, their kindness yesterday was above and beyond.   I also thank everyone for the good thoughts and wishes and prayers on my behalf.  I am relieved yesterday is behind us.

Bessie Anne went to Cam's for the day, and I owe Camille a big thank-you, too.  That went well, but when she came home she let me know exactly how she felt about being abducted and held hostage and totally ignored me.  She went to Deb and Craig but snubbed me entirely.  It had been hard to walk into the house and not be greeted by my girl in the first place, and it broke my heart.  I finally did get forgiven and we are once again "besties."

Ralph, on the other hand, went completely berserk.  It's not like I haven't left for the day before, but he turned into an absolute nutter, throwing himself around like a fish out of water and tearing things up or knocking things off.  Celeste, who will not come out of her room when company is here, showed up on my lap and couldn't seem to get enough cuddling and reassurance.  How did they know?

I could tell when Deb and I went down to put the girls to bed that Beau had done a great job on his own.  I hadn't been sure I'd need a week's worth of his help, but now I'm very happy that I'll have that time off.  I've no problems taking care of the chickens, and I'd fed and watered them before our trek to the hospital yesterday.  Deb and Craig tucked them in last night.

It had been a long, long day, and the three of us just kicked back and chilled for the afternoon and went to bed early.

It was a good day, but I'm glad it's all over.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Morning, Noon & Night

Lumpy (his ear wound is healing) beat me to the feeder yesterday morning.  My fear factor is zip with him.  Like that mirror in Jurasic Park, "Objects may be closer than they appear," this is not a zoom-in photo.  I stood less than three feet from this cheeky fellow.
I get such a thrill when wildlife trusts me.  It was a great way to start the morning.

Noon.  Well, afternoon, really, but who keeps track?  Regardless, Arden came by and we sat out on the deck for a long overdue chat and enjoyed the delta breeze that had broken the heat.

Bess and I made a dash to the feed store before it closed to stock up on supplies.  Beau, the milker trainee, is coming this morning for one more session and I'm going to take advantage of his muscles to haul the goat chow down to the barn.  He might as well get the full experience, right?

Tomorrow is The Big Day and the festivities start early, way too early.  We need to be in Placerville by 8 a.m.  Bessie Anne will spend the day with Cam and Honey, and we'll decide today if Bess should stay overnight tonight with her and have a girls' sleep-over.  I won't have time to make a Farview Farm entry.  Stay tuned for further developments!

It was a good day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Yet another trip to town.  Aargh.  A hurry-up-and-wait day getting x-rays, more lab work, and a pre-op pep talk.  Everything took longer than expected; however, the hospital was air conditioned so the waiting was bearable and I had a good book (always travel with a book).  I did stop to vote on the way.

Dang it!  I missed getting the trash down to the big road again last night and even at 5:30 this morning, I was too late.  Joys of country living.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Diving Not Permitted

Seems a bit early to me, but I do believe summer has arrived.  Watering is once again on the chore schedule, and yesterday Bessie Anne went wading twice in her pool.  I'm the assigned lifeguard on duty.  If I get the chance, I'll give her a puppy-cut hairdo to help her make it through the heat, also to keep her from bringing half the pool into the house to drip dry from her long hair.

I need to get an additional water dish/bottle for the pullets.  Last evening I found they'd drunk the full gallon dry during the day.  I filled it for them and the poor little parched buggers clustered around to drink before trooping in for the night.

Spent most of yesterday crossing off chores to get ready for next week, alternating with sitting long enough for sweat to dry.  That seems to be the summertime pattern.  I'm getting down to the girls earlier and earlier, for which we're all grateful, not that it's cool then, but definitely not as hot.  (Annual summertime whine.)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Happy Face

This is Honey's happy face.  She and Camille came over the other evening for a visit.  After the obligatory cookie (milk bone), drinking all the water in the dish, and hunting up her friend Ralph to play hide-and-seek, Honey joined Cam, Bess and I in the living room.  Becoming bored with conversation, Honey did her best to get our attention by squirming on her back and grinning.  It worked.

I wore my own happy face yesterday.  I went down to the barn with Beau, but only to observe.  He was essentially on his own and remembered the routine well, including putting down grain for the mice (I know, what can I say?).  I was also happy that the girls behaved well, and that Beau was able to get Inga milked out.  That's a success story right there.

Trying to get a head start on some meals for when I might not feel like cooking next week, I made a big pot of sausage, peppers and onions later in the day.  It's an easy recipe, but involves a lot of prep work.  It was finished just as Linda dropped by (another reason for a happy face).  She gave it a try and a thumbs up.

Linda and I had had a good laugh recently when I told her I'd bought some sports bras as recommended by my doctor for after the surgery.  Sports bras have never been part of my wardrobe.  Just the struggle to get one on was, as Linda said, like a snake eating a mouse.  I don't know how female athletes do it.  I was favorably impressed when my surgeon called to see if I had any concerns (I didn't know doctors did that anymore) and again suggested the support provided by these bras.  "Tell me, Doctor, have you ever tried to get into one of those things?"  Pause.  "Well, no."  "You might want to try one before recommending that brand of torture!"  Fortunately, he has a good sense of humor and laughed.

It was a good day.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Busting Out

June is, as the song goes, busting out all over.  The jasmine is in full bloom and filling the air with heavenly perfume.
Overnight, the Asian lilies opened up.

Beau took the day off.

A grey tree squirrel has developed a relationship with Ralph.  The squirrel runs along the deck railing and Ralph dashes from one room to another to watch him.
Ralph must have been busy somewhere else, so Squirrel just waited.

Who needs TV?

Too hot to get much done, so one takes amusement where one can.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Hands On

I threw Beau into the deep end yesterday and he came up swimming.  Inga, my problem child with tiny teats, proved too much for a first-time milker, perfectly understandable.  After that rocky start, Beau picked up the routine and did almost everything by himself.  Fortunately, Sheila is an easy milker and that gave Beau the confidence he needed.  Until hands on, it's difficult for a newbie to gauge how hard to grip and to get the downward rolling squeeze motion going.  It was also difficult for me not to hover like a mother hen.  I was there to offer suggestions and guide him through the process, not make Beau nervous.  By the time Tessie (on the stand) came in, he was working like a pro.  Today he will essentially do it all, including figuring out how to get Inga emptied.  I need to know he and the girls will be okay alone.  That ice-cold after-barn beer sure tasted good!

In the afternoon, Beau called to let me know there was a brush fire over on E16, moving fast but headed away from us.  The country version of neighborhood watch works well up here.  It certainly helps to get a heads-up.  Cam came up and we sat out on the deck to see the column of smoke and watch the spotter and dump planes circling.  She'd tried to go to the post office, but law enforcement had closed the road.  They seemed to get the fire under control pretty fast.

As we left the barn, Beau said he's definitely going to get a milking machine.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Early Bird

We'll be starting milking lessons earlier today.  The days are getting hotter and hotter and I'm hoping Beau doesn't rethink his temporary job in a sweat shop.  We were both dripping wet when we were done.  Yesterday he watched while I talked him through the entire procedure and introduced him to the girls.  The girls have, in the past, freaked out when a stranger, especially a man, is in the barn.  I did have to go out and catch Tessie, but for the most part they all behaved well.  Today will be more of  hands on for him, and tomorrow I will only supervise.  I think it surprised him to find that milking by hand is actually hard work.  I'd tried to warn him, but it's different than one imagines  It's good experience, though, since he plans on breeding his two doelings later.  It's certainly more training than I got.  We also discussed the building of his future barn and hopefully it will be more efficient than mine.  I did tell him to build much bigger than he thinks he'll need.  Goats are like potato chips, you can't have just one (or two).  A cold beer back at the house was hopefully an incentive to come back.  I'm not above bribery.

And yet another trip to town.  It was time for Bessie's annual checkup with Dr. Ric.  She knows when I put her leash on where she's going and starts shutting down.  At the office, Bess goes under a chair and shuts her eyes.  "If I can't see you, you can't see me."  The floor gets dry-mopped as my dog gets pulled and pushed and slid across to the scale, back to the chair, and again into the examination room where she immediately takes refuge under that chair.  Enough of her stuck out so the tech could take her temperature.  Dr. Ric has been her vet since the git-go and she is one of his favorites, so much so that he got down on the floor with Bess to check her out and give her shots.  Other than normal signs of aging (she's now considered a senior), my girl is in good health.  (Yes, she's a little plump, but we won't talk about that.)

I have no plans to go anywhere today.  Yay.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

New Member

A new member joined the Breakfast Club yesterday, interested only in self-serve.  I first noticed him perusing the menu over by the grain pile and was very glad I did because I could see from the shape of his head that it wasn't a rattlesnake (whew).  Not that I was particularly happy because, although I fully understand the food chain, I didn't want to think of one of my little morning companions being the main course.  One evidently nearsighted mouse came over for a bite of cereal and Snake made a strike but missed, probably because I was banging on the stand (whew).  Snake moved off and I thought he'd left the barn.  No, there he was sulking behind the rake, rethinking his plan.  That's all one snake curled up.
I almost stepped on him twice while changing out the girls.  I'm talking big snake here.  He stretched nearly wall to wall as he moved over to easier pickings in the burrow on the other side of the room and it took three shots to get a full picture.  Head.

And that was the last I saw before he ducked below ground.  I could only hope for the best for my little buddies.  Believe me, I did watch where my feet were all morning long.  This "come one, come all" is going a bit too far.

I have been to town more in the past month or so than probably in the whole year before.  Yesterday's trip was, however, pure luxury.  I took advantage of the Kids' birthday gift and had a massage.  Ahhh!

Beau, the new member of the Milking Team, will be here this morning for orientation.  He's in for, well, let's just say he's in for it.  I just hope he's up for it, too.

It was quite a day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Treasures Of El Dorado

El Dorado (the golden) is a tiny little hamlet down the hill a piece between Diamond Springs and Shingle Springs.  A surprising number of interesting small businesses line the short span of road through town, but the big draw for me is and has always been Poor Red's bar and restaurant.  I was fortunate enough to be Linda's guest for lunch (an extended birthday gift) there yesterday.  The main drag through El Dorado is only two narrow lanes and crews were doing road work, holding up a lot of traffic.  As the only pedestrian in sight, I waited and waited (and waited) for the flagman to give me a nod.  It had, as my Southern neighbor used to say, "hotted up," and those poor guys under their hardhats were standing out in direct sunlight.  As I passed by when given the go-ahead, I couldn't help but say, "I hope you're getting paid well for your job today," and got some big smiles.

It was Linda's first experience with Poor Red's and it was such a pleasure to introduce her to Red's famous Gold Cadillac.  I'd been asked to give one of the manager/owners a greeting from the Freed Spirits Motorcycle Club, so Steve stopped by our table.  The FSMC are also big fans of Red's, and they are obviously well-respected and enjoyed by Steve.  Lunch was, as always, fabulous.  Linda and I took our drinks out to the patio after our meal to continue our conversation.

She had brought home to me just how small our community here is.  We had both frequented a small shop (now closed, unfortunately) and the proprietress mentioned to Linda that I'd been in and was "all dressed up," which means jeans instead of bibbies, and had a doctor's appointment.  Linda, knowing I never go to a doctor, intuited that I was "in trouble," but had kindly avoided the elephant in the room until we were face to face.  Word does get around in the strangest ways.

Lunch with my friend at one of my favorite places on a clear, hot doesn't get much better.  It was a day to treasure.