Friday, September 30, 2016


I've learned over time to trust my instincts.  They're mine, after all, and not out to do me in.  There have been occasions when they've led me astray, but it was usually a fun trip in the long run.  I felt an immediate affinity for Kit and Tinka when we first met and time has proven my instincts to be right on point.  We talk seldom and see each other less, but that has nothing to do with our friendship.  I spent a truly enjoyable afternoon with these ladies.  With milder temperatures and a lovely breeze, we sat in the shade on the deck and talked (and talked!), making up for lost time.  They had to leave all too soon, but it was such a pleasure while they were here.

Instinctively, and in fact, I know I'm going to be cranky today.  Wandering out to the kitchen this morning about 4:30, muscle memory took over and I had the coffee pot filled with water before my brain kicked in and said, "Stop!  No coffee for you this morning."  Ratchafratch.  I have to be in Cameron Park by 11:30 for some med that will have me glowing but takes time to get in the system before a CT scan that won't take place until 1:00.  Water only today.  Aaargh.  No coffee in the morning is cruel and unusual punishment in my book.

Yesterday was a good day.  My instincts tell me that today...not s'much.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Over And Over

As I get older, I depend more and more on kinesthetic memory to stay on track.  It's not so much that my mind is failing as it is that my hard drive is crammed full and random thoughts spill over as a distraction.  Muscle (kinesthetic) memory is developed by doing the same thing over and over in the same way each time.  It is the skill that allows a typist to hit the right keys without looking or even thinking about placement, but it takes practice.  This is particularly helpful to me down in the barn.  My mind goes freewheeling as I tend to chores and I often go along for the ride, which could end up with some interesting consequences were it not that muscle memory takes over.  Goat on the stand, feed in the bowl, brush down the coat, wash the udder, grab a pail and start milking:  that's the set routine.  If I start to reach for the brush first, my left hand says, "Hold it right there, kid.  Get the food first!"  Oh, right.  I don't need to see the anxious look on the girl's face before I realize I'm out of sync with the program.  I dust the living room (under duress) by starting with the stair rail and working my way systematically around the room.  Going back and forth doesn't work for me; some one piece or another gets left out to be discovered only after the tools have been put away.  I have to stick with the established plan or it's an epic fail.  I'm just sayin'.

I was unintentionally the cause of a small tragedy the other day.  Coming home after one of the dreaded outings, I was driving down the long hill called Suicide Hill, not because it is dangerous but because of the sign one local put up that says, "Please drive slow, suicidal deer," when I saw Camille's truck pulled over to the side of the road with flashers on and the back window up.  I stopped to see if she was in trouble and rolled my window down.  She explained that she had found 17 adolescent rats, not mice, together in the bottom of a grain bucket and was releasing them into the woods by the creek.  Being Camille, she also provided corn and apples for the little ones.  We talked for a minute (we can do that on these country roads).  Leaving, I took my foot off the brake and as I started to roll, Camille yelled, "Stop, stop, stop!"  I did, but too late.  One of the little creatures had raced back up the hill and across the road, directly in front of a tire.  Oh crum.  Maybe that sign should say "suicidal deer and rats."  To my score over many years of one chipmunk and one turkey, I must now add one rat killed.  I felt terrible, and worse that it happened right in front of my kindhearted friend who was there on an errand of mercy.  Make that 16 rats set free and one small meal for the vultures.  Not an experience I'd want to do over and over.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

On The Road Again

Oh, how I love to be on the road again...not!  (Apologies to Willie Nelson.)  Appointments in Cameron Park on Monday, again yesterday, and a third on Friday.  Yech!  Dr. D was very reassuring about the results of the surgery yesterday and I won't need to see her again for six months, both good news for me.  The receptionist was filling out an appointment card and wrote March __, 2016.  Me, "Um, that would be 2017, don't you think?"  I don't even have a calendar for 2017 to write it on and I'm certainly not used to thinking that far ahead.

However, I definitely am looking forward to tomorrow when my friends Kit and Tinka will visit.  Kit has been on the road a lot this year and I really want to hear about their plans to go to Ireland next year (that would be 2017).  Having been rather incapacitated the past few weeks, I have a long To-Do list today.

As Crocodile Dundee would say, "Now that's a tomato sandwich!"  I had stopped by Cam's the other day and raided her tomato vines.  Overdosing on the little Sungolds that night, I moved on to probably the most delicious gems I've ever eaten.  These rosy-orange beauties are exceptionally sweet and juicy, very low acid.  I will eat tomatoes for lunch and dinner until they run out.

Tomorrow will come quickly, and time and dust wait for no man.  I have things to do and, thankfully, no place to go.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Good Timing

Back when I began this journey with cancer, seems like eons ago or maybe yesterday, I tried to decide how much to share in this arena and settled for "not much."  Overall I have been tremendously impressed with the level of care and compassion offered by every medical office involved.  I've been floored by receiving personalized cards from the hospital staff after surgery and more recently from one of the PAs (physician assistant) at my primary care physician's office.  Back at the start, I had an excisional biopsy and there, too, was treated with such kindness.  Zoe, a nurse there, gave me a small ceramic "stone" on which was painted "Strength."  She explained that it would not give me strength, but would remind me that I was strong.  She said someone had given it to her, but she wanted me to have it to help with whatever might follow.  I've kept it nearby all this time.

After an appointment with the oncologist yesterday, unfortunately resulting in the need for a CT scan soon, I went next door and asked to speak to Zoe.  I put the little ceramic talisman in her hand and explained how much I had appreciated her kindness and good wishes, and I wanted her to pass it on to another in need.  Her eyes welled with tears and she said, "Me.  It's been a really bad day and you'll never know how much I needed this right now."  Timing is everything.

It was a good day.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Creature Comfort

For no particular reason, Celeste's pose tickled me.  She often lies this way on hot days, completely stretched out to catch the slightest breeze from the open doors.  It was her little crossed paws that got my attention.  She does like her creature comforts.

There is one mouse down in the barn who also gets special notice.  As I do every day, Sheila's milk gets squirted onto wipes on a ledge and also hung on the used-wipe bucket for the colony to suck up.  There is always some overspray that lands on the upright shovel nearby.  This particular mouse discovered that if she stands at the base of the shovel blade, milk will run like a waterfall right into her mouth, saving her the effort of sucking on the wipes.  Nothing if not willing to accommodate, now I also squirt milk on the shovel.

I'd thought Betty would outgrow her need to be carried like a baby, but every day she runs ahead of me, stopping and getting in my way until I pick her up.  We collect eggs together as she quietly chats and then she asks to be let down.

Yes, I'm guilty of spoiling my critters.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just The Facts, Ma'am

When it comes to farm questions, Kathy V. is my go-to gal.  She gave me the clue about lobe color for chickens, so I sent her the photo from yesterday's blog and asked if she knew the breed.  Kathy thought it (she, because she is laying eggs) might be a brown leghorn.  Sure enough, she nailed it.  I'm impressed.  I'm also impressed with how quickly I could look up and verify the answer on the internet.  Growing up, I spent countless hours in various libraries checking statistics, finding topics for term papers, etc.  Rows and rows of little drawers filled with 3x5 index cards, coded with the Dewey Decimal System.  This provided a road map of sorts that would send me on a hunt through the building to find the source book.  I hope libraries never become obsolete, but it is quite grand to have a world of information at one's fingertips, only a click away.

You'd have to remember the old TV show "Dragnet" with Jack Webb and Harry Morgan (who later became Colonel Potter on "MASH") to relate to today's title.  Just another fact.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ace Detective

The assignment was this:  find out who laid the white eggs.  Being a super sleuth, I followed the lead provided yesterday by informant Kathy V. and held a lineup of the usual suspects to determine the perpetrators (assuming there were two).  The white hens had already been cleared of suspicion by evidence left in the nest, obviously a case of mistaken identity.  Walking slowly past the unruly and semi-cooperative hens (Frederick had been excused), it didn't take long for this ace detective to identify the give-away white earlobes.
This is the mugshot of one, still wearing a disguise.  I had resigned myself to having two more males in the flock, as these birds have an oversize, floppy comb as do most roosters.  I'd seen them in the nesting boxes now and then but thought perhaps they had gender envy and were imitating the females, never once thinking they might be laying eggs.

I have no idea what breed these hens are, another mystery for another day.

This case is now closed.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Three's A Crowd

Cool?  Make that downright chilly.  Not only did I wear a jacket all day, I had to close the doors in the living room and the one in the bedroom yesterday.  I know a goosebump when I see it.  All three of the house critters sleep on the bed with me, and last night all three were jammed against my back and legs because they also felt the chill.  I won't say their warmth wasn't welcome, but they sure made it hard to turn over or stretch out.  This crowd of three nearly crowded me out.  If this weather continues (it won't), I see a comforter in our future.

I don't think I've said how much I enjoy comments to the blog.  Blogspot provides statistics on how many "hits" a day and countries of origin, and it is so rewarding and really amazing to see how many readers there are on a daily basis, averaging 50.  As of yesterday, there have been 98,221 views since I started writing and 93 countries represented.  Statistics are great, but the comments make it personal, putting a name to the number.  I find them encouraging and sometimes inspiring.

For example, yesterday Emmy mentioned that she had taken a rooster from the freezer to prepare for dinner.  I've done that.  It's always a crap shoot when you buy 3-day-old chicks whether you will get hens or roosters.  In the first batch or two when I started raising chickens, I ended up with two male buff Orpingtons and they turned out to be real stinkers.  One got so mean that I had to carry a broomstick into the pen for defense.  The day he snuck up behind me and drove a 3-inch spur into my calf was his last.  Steve shot him and the other as well just in case.  They were delicious.  At the same time, there was a much younger rooster in the flock who had seen the punishment for bad behavior.  It took forever before Leonard would even attempt to crow, trying to keep a very low profile.  He was very sweet and lived a long and productive life.

And I learn, as I did from Kathy V.'s explanation of earlobe color as an indicator of egg color.  I had to fill out paperwork for some government agency or another that asked if every animal/fowl on the farm had ear tags.  I had to answer that chickens don't have external ears.  (And no, none of my critters are tagged.  They never leave the property.)  A striking feature of the Araucanas is their bright blue lobes.  No wonder they lay such colorful eggs.

Kit is busy tending her darling grandchildren, but I miss her comments too.  Tote Trove pops in once in awhile, always nice to see.  In case I'm not making myself clear, all comments are welcome.  The more, the merrier.  They're a great incentive to start every day as I do, writing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Make My Day

There are night people and morning people.  I am definitely of the morning variety and yesterday morning was an absolute delight.  Walking up from the barn after chores, it was such a pleasure to wipe a smattering of rain drops from my face instead of sweat.  It never amounted to anything more than putting polka-dots in the dust on the truck, but it was wonderful just the same.  After days in the 90s, the temperature dove down into the 60s!  It was a no-brainer to decide whether to wear a tank top or tee-shirt.  Summer is officially over with the autumnal equinox, but the heat will be around for a while longer, I know.  Today is predicted to be even cooler, and it's another example of take what you get and be glad that you got it.

Walking past the feed shed on the way to give the chickens their milkshake, I noticed Rhonda tucked into a corner nest she'd made.  Hmmm.  I should have said "give the chickens and squirrels..." because the furry ones were also waiting and crowded in for their share from the bowl.  Betty and I made the rounds of the laying boxes and picked up a couple of contributions from the pullets.  For whatever reason, the mature hens have not laid eggs in months.  On the way out, Rhonda was walking toward me and fluffing her feathers.  On the off chance, I checked her nest and lo and behold, there was an egg in the box.  Good girl, Rhonda!  The surprise was that it was a brown egg.  I knew it was Rhonda's egg because it was fresh out of the chute, but I'd always heard that white chickens lay white eggs.  Google tells me that isn't so, and now I know it to be a fallacy.  Perhaps it also works the other way around because I'd picked up two white eggs from the coop and there are only two white hens in the flock.  Live and learn.

I am not alone.  How many times have I gone into a room, only to stop, stand, and wonder what I'd gone in there for?  Bessie's morning routine is this:  first she lies down by my feet under the desk kneehole, then comes out and asks to be let outside, then comes in and waits to be boosted up onto the bed where she waits for me to finish at the computer.  This morning started out like any other.  There was evidently a gap in the synapse because she came back in, went under the desk, then came out and stood by the door again.  "Honey, you've already been outside," but opened the door and turned on the light.  She went out, stood there with the same look I've had so many times, and asked to come in again.

It doesn't take much to make my day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

No Show

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, happened yesterday.  The customer who had asked me to save milk for an ailing calf called and left a message that the calf was doing better and he didn't need the milk.  This, after I'd walked past a pen full of disappointed chickens who were looking for their morning treat.  Oh well.

Watched a terrific and apparently semi-accurate docudrama, "Royal Wives At War," about the feud between Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson as Edward VIII abdicated the throne.  He was a no-show as king of England.

No sign of Arden in the afternoon, which turned out to be a good thing because there was no sign of the vultures, either.  In talking about the migration with Cam, it turns out they'd gathered and flown off a couple of days before.  I missed the show.

However!  This morning while making coffee and replenishing food bowls, I thought I heard the sound of soft rain.  Surely not, but the air smelled fresh and was definitely cooler.  Later when Bess asked to go out, I turned on the porch light for her and don't you know there was truly a light sprinkling of rain on the deck.  Not enough to do anything but give one hope.  I'll settle for that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just In Case

Just in case anyone thought I was kidding or exaggerating about the mess Dirty Dan, the deck squirrel, leaves, this is the evidence in just one area.  Capital punishment is not an option, but I'd really like to slap this little booger.  The leaves are Nature's contribution and cannot be blamed on the squirrel.  She is, however, as messy as he at this time of year, and it's only going to get worse.

The temperature soared again yesterday.  The air was mucky with smoke from several far-away fires.  It gets trapped in the valley and works its way up into the foothills.  It wasn't a hardship to get in the air-conditioned truck and finally go to the grocery store, which turned out to be a meet-and-greet site.  I ran into Arden in the aisles and later played kissy face-huggy bear with my friend Tom whom I haven't seen in forever while checking out.  Arden and I have been discussing the vulture migration.  Yesterday being the 19th, the traditional day for departure, she came over to have a cold drink and talk while we watched the skies for the gathering.  Either the big birds took off earlier and I missed it or the word hasn't gotten out yet because it didn't happen.  Just in case, she's coming back again today.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Or Not

Okay, maybe it's two days off, but who's counting?  I got interested in something or other on TV in the morning and then remembered it was Sunday and I was missing the NASCAR race.  Took the obligatory NASCAR nap and woke up just in time to see who won.  Got interested in something else, watered the deck plants and front herb garden, and then was reminded that the Vikings were playing Green Bay.  Zip, zoom, and there went the whole day.  What can I say?  Time flies when you're having fun.

I could rename this place Squirrel City.  It's hard even for me to believe, but I actually slapped Persistent Percy twice on the same raid yesterday.  He showed up to steal grain from the mice.  That's not unusual, but a swipe of my hand or a move of my foot normally scares him off, perhaps not to stay but that try is thwarted.  Either I've lost my fear factor (if I ever had one) or he was hungrier.  I was busy with one of the girls while riding a particular train of thought when I glanced down and there was Percy.  Still milking one-handed, I not only swung at Percy but, surprise, landed a glancing blow!  Not deterred in the least, he simply moved to the far side of the grain pile and kept filling his pouches.  Are you kidding me?  A squirrel with this degree of chutzpah is not acceptable so I swung again and this time made a direct hit (not hard).  "Okay, fine, lady.  I'll leave for now, but this isn't over."

Percy's counterpart has been busy on the deck.  The stockpile of snacks he left by the kitchen door is gone now, but that's not the only evidence of his presence.  He's dug holes in every potted plant, throwing the dirt out on the boards, and ravaging leaves.  He's developed a taste for comfrey and Thai basil salad.  These uninvited guests are taking advantage of me.  Is it any wonder I've never put in a doggy door?  It's enough that I share my bed with dog and cats without squirrels moving in for the winter.

No, I didn't make it to the grocery store.  Maybe I'll go today.  Or not.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

One Day On

One day on, one day off.  That's about how it goes at my house with spurts of ambition.  I should have run up to the grocery store for a couple of things, but also needed to go get feed.  (Yes, I remembered to bring up the handcart.)  The problem was that Bessie loves to go to the feed store, but I wouldn't take her to sit in the truck at the grocery store if I ran both errands on the same trip.  Hmmm.  Okay, feed store it was.  Bessie got her two cookies (milk bones) so she was a happy girl.  Believe me, she checks me out before I can get back in the truck.  "Cookies!  Where are my cookies?  Did you get my cookies?"  I put her treats on the console and Bess rests her head on them all the way home.  We get out of the truck and she turns for the first one.  She eats that right then and there, but waits until we get in the house for the second.

This treat business is getting out of hand.  Because she so hated getting in the truck when she was a puppy, having only been taken to the House Of Pain for her broken leg, I would reward her with half a lamb-and-rice bar when we got home.  She now, of course, expects one of those bars whenever she goes for a ride.  No matter that she had just crunched down her cookies, Bessie Anne turns to me, "Mom, I was a good girl.  Where is my 'go bye-bye' treat?"

I had to fill out paperwork yesterday and some of the questions had to do with "Do you have a dog?   What breed?"  Being as truthful as possible, I answered, "Mixed breed, too many to count, none identifiable.  Photo attached."  (Usually when asked her breed, I answer, "Pick one.")  I tried to get an individual shot, but she went camera shy and didn't want her picture taken.  I had to catch her unaware to take this one of her lounging with Celeste.  I think they'll get the idea from this photo.

A trip to the feed store, pages and pages of paperwork completed, temperature soaring into the 90s again, and I was done for the off-day.  Maybe I'll go to the grocery store today.  Or not.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

On Schedule

In the heat of summer and the short amount of time the girls were in the barn at night, I had allowed myself a bit of a break and only raked and cleaned their stalls every other day.  After emptying three buckets of roly-poly pellets yesterday after a one-day lapse, I realized it was time to go back on the every-day schedule.  Goats generate an amazing amount of poo.  Unlike big cow plops or horse road apples which can be removed with a few scoops of a shovel, goat raisinets go everywhere and it takes a leaf rake, a shovel, and a bucket to chase down, corner, and scoop them up.  Ah, the joys of farming.

My guilt meter swung over into the red zone yesterday and I actually got off my duff and did something about it.  Sticking to my three-item To-Do list (no sense in getting carried away), the kitchen was cleaned, the living room vacuumed and, yes, dusted!  It all looked very nice for the fifteen minutes or so before Bessie came back in the house and distributed a generous sprinkle of dry leaf bits and stickers.  Sigh.  If I were smart about the whole thing, I'd probably start at least a weekly schedule.  That, however, would mean I'd have to know what day it was.

I received a heartwarming call last evening.  My son Pete is thinking about moving north to the Sacramento area now that he is an empty-nester, his son being in the air force in San Antonio.  We've not lived in close proximity since he was 18 or so.  Won't that be nice?

It was a good day.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Out Of Control

I'd always heard it said that time goes faster as one gets older, but this is ridiculous.  I know it was just the other night when I looked up at the full moon, and don't you know it was back again last night?  A whole month gone by and I missed it?  Shadows on the barn wall show up in completely different places in the morning, and the girls have to go in by 7 p.m. now.  It seems to me the world is spinning out of control here, and what's up with that?

Another example is that I run out of day before I run out of chores.  My to-do list in the morning turns into my not-done list at night.  All my good intentions aren't worth a tinker's damn.  My mother used to say, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."  Okay, Mother, I'm going to give it a good try today.  We'll see how much I can get done before the moon comes up again.  We'll see.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Payment Due

"If you play, you pay."  I wasn't playing, but due to circumstances I couldn't milk the goats the other day.  Holy cow (or in this case, goat), those girls were full yesterday!  Thankfully, it was another cool day so it wasn't so bad to keep them on the stand while I worked twice as hard and long to get each one milked out.  I'm sure they were relieved to be delivered of that load they were carrying.  We all paid for that one-day lapse.

Betty is becoming more independent.  She still comes to be picked up, but lately she wants down off my lap when we sit for a little chat so I just carry her around for a bit and then send her off to play with the other hens.  Like sending a kid off to school, it's hard to see my little girl growing up.

With the mild weather of the last few days, Bessie Anne and I are once again sitting out on the end of the deck.  We watch the vultures riding on the thermals and listen to the woodpeckers boring holes to store their feed for winter.  A murder of crows (what an unfortunate name for a group of these birds) has moved in to the neighborhood and caw like crazy.

John Dear sits gathering dust in his shed.  We're both looking forward to that first rain so he and I can get some outdoor exercise.  It would be pleasant to go round and round while it's cool, but the vegetation is so dry that the fire danger is still high.  The sound of a low-flying airplane or helicopter still sends me outside to look for smoke.  We're not out of those woods yet.

Temperatures are predicted to rise again, but it was nice to have even a brief preview of fall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I'm Fine, Thanks

Not too long ago, I was reminded of my father.  As he aged, his health became of great interest to him and he was eager to share the details.  "Daddy, when someone says, 'Hi, how are you?' it is a conversational nicety, not a request for your medical history."  "Well, what am I supposed to say?"  "Just say, 'I'm fine, thanks.'"  Sure enough, on our next outing and met a friend, "Hi, how are you?"  "I'm fine, thanks.  That's a lie, but she told me I had to say that." 

All activity was cancelled yesterday to a spot of trouble with health issues, certainly nothing to write home about.  Better today, and I'm fine, thanks.  Truly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Timing Is Everything

Pat.  Pat, pat, pat.  A soft paw lightly pats my arm.  I open one eye.  It's pitch-black dark and the clock says 4:30.  "Oh, Ralph.  It's too early.  Go back to sleep."  Pat.  Pat, pat, pat.  Ralph seldom asks for affection but he has poor timing.  He'll jump onto my lap just after I've checked and see it's time to get going.  "Sorry, pretty boy.  I've got to stand up now."  Pat, pat, pat.  Eyes closed, I stroke Ralph's head for a bit and then tuck my hand under the cover and hope.  Pat, pat on my face.  "More, please."  So of course I stroke him some more.  Then he flops over for a belly rub.  I think Ralph has an identity crisis, not sure of his species when he acts so doglike.  I check the time again and it's 5 a.m.  I've been sleeping in lately, but not today.  Thanks, Ralph.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Quiet Life

Once upon a time, I used to yearn for silence and treasured every moment of peace and quiet when they came.  Raised as an only child with parents who were at or in their 40s when I was born, ours was a quiet household.  My sister's, not s'much.  With seven children, everyone talked at once and at high volume and I was a nervous wreck when I came home.  Boarding school with over 100 girls was anything but quiet, even after lights out.  And then I had my own children.  "Mama!  MamaMamaMama!"  Later, when the Kids were older, they all played their stereos with the sound cranked up.  Aaargh!  Even in my working life as a transcriptionist, I had some doctor speaking through the headphones in my ears hours and hours on end.

As I've said, Steve's eyes and his mouth opened at the same time.  That man was a talker!  As a backdrop, he would turn on the television on his way to the kitchen whether he watched it or not.  I'd go to sleep with the bedroom TV on.  There was no quiet until and while he'd gone to work.  Ahhh, I could breathe at last.

Now that I live alone and am in control, I'm a different person.  I do not like a quiet house.  I, too, turn on the television (but after I've finished at the computer) in the morning and leave it on for background noise all day.  I find myself walking slowly and silently if the house is still as if I would disturb spirits if I tromped around or clanked pots and pans in the kitchen.  After a lifetime of hearing voices, a quiet life is not really what I wanted after all.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

It Went

From somewhere in the dim past, I remember hearing, "My get up and go has got up and went."  That was me yesterday.  Whether it was the return of hot weather, a predicted side effect from medication, or just general laziness, I couldn't even work up enough enthusiasm to worry about it.  The cats got plenty of lap time because I only got up to turn on the sprinkler a couple of times and once or twice to go sit outside with Bessie Anne.  "Sit" was definitely the watchword of the day.

I don't know where it went, but I sure hope it comes back soon.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hit The Spot

"Down a little.  Over to the right.  No, too much, go back to the left.  Ahhh, you hit the spot."  It just feels so good to have somebody scratch that itch you can't reach.  It's easy to tell you've hit the sweet spot while scratching a dog's belly when a back leg starts going uncontrollably.  It isn't much different with goats.  The girls get a good grooming every morning and when I hit their spot, they really lean into the brush.  Each one has her own.  On some it moves around, but Esther's is always on her left haunch.  Some days she leans so hard she darned near falls over.  It cracks me up.

Another tomato sandwich.  They continue to hit the spot and I've got enough for one more but honestly, I'm about tomatoed out.  I guess there is too much of a good thing and don't think I'm going to rush down to Camille's for another refill.

It's just light enough to make out the silhouette of the oaks and there is high-pitched yipping on the hill across the road, different from the yodeling of the coyotes.  The locals have been saying it is foxes.  I know I've seen foxes here in the past, but not for a long time.  I recently watched a documentary on the "coywolf," a naturally-occurring hybrid that is moving into urban areas in the east.  Very, very smart animals, it seems, and able to coexist with humans.  I don't know why we don't have them here out west.  Maybe we don't have enough wolves, or perhaps our coyotes just aren't that attractive.  Who knows?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Old School

I enjoy and employ technology.  I don't tweet (or is it twitter?), but I do text and PM on FB and if there's enough time left in the morning, I email.  I have a cellphone and five wireless phones upstairs in the house, as well as a landline phone (and three downstairs).  With the exception of the cellphone, they're not used as often.

Great as the new stuff is for quick messaging, there's nothing quite like a real, honest-to-God, person-to-person telephone call.  I was reminded of this yesterday when I telephoned a high school classmate.  We graduated together in 1957, so I'm not exaggerating when I say we're "old school."  Years have gone by without connection, maybe a card now and then or a note, and I don't know why I was struck with the need to hear her voice.  Our lives have taken different paths and time has taken its toll, but her laugh is the same as it was when we wore our school uniforms and our days were ruled by the bells.  Her generosity of spirit still shines.  Yes, we did some reminiscing and discussed some health issues while playing catch-up.  Coming from differing political positions, we were able to discuss current affairs without rancor.  Did I say laugh?  OMG (see, I know the lingo), we laughed throughout our conversation.  We probably said, "Okay, I'll let you go now," five times before actually saying goodbye, and I was still smiling long after.

It was a good day.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hey There!

The routine went to pot yesterday.  I had bought feed the day before but forgot to bring the handcart up from the barn.  Consequently, I had to go down in the morning to get it.  The girls saw me coming.  "She's coming!  Here She comes!"  (They all call me She.)  Putting the buckets in the milk room and going around to the hall to get the handcart, I then headed back up the hill.

"Oh no!  There She goes!  Why is She leaving us?  We haven't had our breakfast.  Hey!  Hey, lady!  What about us?  Don't leave us!"  Goats in a panic get very vocal, and these girls were really giving me what-for.  Their relief when I came back trundling the big bag of grain was almost palpable.  I pretended nothing had happened and went on into the daily routine.  Each of the girls came in as expected and Cindy even tried to cut in line ahead of Tessie, she was so anxious for her meal.  Note to self:  bring the handcart back to the feed barn before it's needed.

I dare not think about the time change this year.  I have never been this screwed up with just the sun coming up later.  My circadian rhythm has taken over big time and it's really messing up my day.  I wake up thinking, like the White Rabbit, "I'm late!  I'm late!," and I am.  I'll probably hear about that down in the barn.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Hesperus And Me

A phrase I heard countless times in my childhood was, "You look like the wreck of the Hesperus," as I was sent off to fix my hair, dress, shoes, whatever.  Mother never explained what that meant, but I guessed it was a mess as it applied to me.  Being a tomboy, such trivial matters held no interest for me.  Truth be told, they're still not at the top of my list.  However, even now I'll catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and think, "Woman, you look like the wreck of the Hesperus."

Thanks to Google, I finally looked up Hesperus and discovered that it is from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow written in 1842 and based on an actual shipwreck at Norman's Woe (isn't that a great name?).  It is probably something my mother had to learn in school and, boy, did it stick with her.  She certainly used it to good effect later in life.

Several of my friends are in the throes of major house makeovers, painting and moving furniture, etc., and Deb and Craig are purging closets and garage.  I look around here and think my place looks like the Hesperus washed up on the shoals.  I'm still in the thinking stages, but some of their ambition is contagious and I'm about ready for my semi-annual clean up.  Soon.

Not yet sated, I continue to gorge on tomatoes.  Just as one must make hay while the sun shines, one must eat homegrown tomatoes while they're there.  No store-bought tomato could taste as good.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mistaken Identity

Running later than usual, I was racing through morning chores.  I'd just put the filled water bowls back in the hen house when my little red hen ran up for a cuddle.  "I really don't have time for this, but okay," and I bent down for her.  She backed up a few steps.  "Hey, come on.  I'm in a hurry here."  She came a little way back so I reached out and picked her up and, man, did she ever start squawking!  "What's up with that?  You never act like this."  And then Betty came around the corner and wanted to know why I was holding another chicken.  I apologized profusely for my faux pas.  I felt like I'd been caught cheating.

One chicken may look like another and most mice are indistinguishable, but Dumbo cannot be mistaken.  I haven't seen the little mouse with the low-set ears for awhile, but he was everywhere yesterday, eating grain and sucking up milk.  He's the cutest darn thing.

Once again, Cindy snuffed all over my my face and nuzzled my hair.  When I went back to the coop and this time picked up the right hen, Betty said, "Your hair is a mess.  Let me fix it for you."  You haven't lived until you've been groomed by a chicken.

Had a nice, unexpected visit with Linda later in the morning.  She had donated food to Camille for two foundling puppies Cam had picked up from the middle of the road the day before.

In addition to the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, Camille had given me several large tomatoes.  When is the last time you slurped down a sandwich?  Toasted bread spread with butter, slathered with mayonnaise, with thick slabs of sweet, juicy tomato.  Talk about the taste of summer!  It was so good for lunch that I had another for dinner.  Then I went down to Camille's to meet the German Shepherd-mix puppies (what a pair of corkers they are!) and get a refill of the tomatoes.

I'll be unmistakable, the lady with chicken spit in her hair and a tomato overdose blush to her skin.

Monday, September 5, 2016

On The List

Maybe it's the changing seasons, who knows?  One excuse is as good as another for not doing that which needs to get done.  Camille and I were discussing our similar attitudes the other day as she showed me a current project that she has yet to start, with the last project still unfinished under the table.  I told her that I wake up every day thinking of all that I plan to accomplish and go to bed with little to nothing done.  It's demoralizing.  She said she found making a list helpful.  Umm, yes, in moderation.

I used to make lists, long lists, of everything that should be done.  I spent more time making lists than doing the work.  A list of everything was just overwhelming, so I quit that.  Now when I get a burst of ambition (don't hold your breath on that one), I make a three-item list.  That is definitely more realistic.  I made such a list yesterday and actually accomplished it all.  Flushed with success, I threw in a couple of more chores for good measure.  (Dusting wasn't one of them.)

Woke up in the middle of the night to the unmistakable sound of a cat yarking up a fur ball or some such.  Usually the quickest way to find the results is with bare feet in the dark of morning so I was treading very carefully today.  The sun is up now and I've hunted all over the bedroom, the closet, the hall, and the guest room.  I know I didn't dream it (who would dream of such a thing?), but I'll be darned if I can find anything.  The hunt will continue.  It's at the top of the list.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

That Time Of Year

Just as the sound of a bell started Pavlov's dogs salivating, the sound of the grape crushing auger next door at Fleur de Lys Winery gets the goats all excited.  As soon as the gate to the big pen was opened yesterday the girls filed through to get to the fence line, knowing that Robert (Robair) would fork over sweet stems.  It's that time of year. 

I've been noting more and more vultures on the fence posts every morning.  I counted over thirty yesterday, and wondered why the recent influx.  Then it dawned on me, it's September and these magnificent birds are gathering for the annual migration to the Owens Valley.  It usually occurs around the 19th.  With my usual attention to the calendar, I hope I don't miss it.

It is also the time of year when gardens overflow with bounty.  Yesterday Camille invited me down to pick Sun Gold tomatoes, golden little bites of sugar.  She'd also been given an abundance of radishes.  Last night's dinner was crunch and squish and delicious.  I'll save the Anaheim chile for another meal.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Set In Our Ways

More than I realized at the time, I was influenced by a 1950 movie, "Cheaper By The Dozen," with Clifton Webb, Myrna Loy, and Jeanne Crain, about the life of Frank Gilbreth.  Gilbreth was a time and motion expert, even down to the most efficient way to bathe.  As it turns out, I spend quite a bit of time developing and revising how I do things now, how my cupboards are organized, where things are kept.  And once a system has been put in place, that's how I do it every time thereafter.  Yes, I'm set in my ways.

I'm not the only one on the farm who dislikes change.  Every morning while the coffee maker does its thing, I check the cat and dog dishes and get a milk bone for waiting Bessie Anne.  She crunches that down and comes to sit by the treat drawer.  If I'm slow, she gives a small whine to remind me that she would like (must have) a small bacon bit from the bag stored there.  I made a mistake the other day and also gave her a marrow treat from a box above.  Now that's part of her routine, as she's quick to point out.

Each goat has her own quirky way on the stand.  This one wants her head rubbed, that one prefers a bum massage.  Tessie will only get down from the left side and to my right.  Before she leaves, Esther must rub her head against my left-side ribs.  Cindy stops to huff in my face before she starts her day.  Sheila and Inga just want out!

Who is that lady with the chicken under her arm?  That would be me with Betty.  It's easier to pick her up than try not to trip over her as I tend the hens in the coop and pen.  I must also take a few minutes to sit and chat with her on my lap every day.  Betty croons and trills while I stroke her feathers.

Ralph goes along with the program, waiting for Celeste who has me trained to dole out the cat treats.  I don't mind.  With perfect manners, Celeste never fails to give me a "thank-you" rub up before taking a bite.

Get out of bed, turn on the computer.  Go make coffee and tend the house pets.  Check Facebook, drink coffee, and write the blog.  Yep, I'm set in my ways.  Works for me.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Moving Along

The girls are kicking it into high gear in the hen house.  Yesterday's pick up was one large and one small brown egg (the white was from the day before).  One pullet egg does not a breakfast make, but I give credit where it is due.

I was on a roll, too, and spent the afternoon in the kitchen.  I always buy hamburger in large packages for economy.  I mixed and baked six single-serving meatloaves, as well as three plain patties.  The vacuum sealer is a godsend for cook-ahead meals, and I like stocking the freezer.  As good as the meatloaf smelled, there were summer squash that needed to be used so they were sliced, along with onions and garlic and sauteed with a white wine and cream sauce to go over pasta for dinner last night, and leftovers for tonight.  Eleven meals with a minimum of work.  I'd call that good.

September has brought technicolor sunsets.  The sky was electric blue to compliment the brilliant clouds.  This year is moving right along.

PS:  I almost forgot about the highlight of the day!  UPS Guy drove up with a package from Kathy V.  It was full of ripe figs from Kathy's tree and they were as sweet as honey.  It took great restraint not to empty the box.  I couldn't have asked for a better dessert.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Production is up in the hen house.  Not only have I picked up two big brown eggs this week, yesterday there was a small white pullet egg, a contribution from Rhonda's sister.  I would like to credit Rhonda, but she was out on walkabout again.  I did, however, see her tucked into a hidey-hole in the feed barn, so maybe there's still hope.  It's about time these girls start earning their keep.

It's so easy to lose track of days when there is no weekend.  I was geared up to take the trash down to the big road yesterday and then Cam called.  I was a day late and a dollar short.  Again.

I watched "The Luzhin Defense" (John Turturro, Emily Watson, 2000) again for the umpteenth time.  I know nothing about chess, not having the mental capacity for the game, but I'm enthralled by the actors' performances in this sad, sad movie.

I also saw "Open Range" (Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, 2003) this week.  I've seen it so many times I could quote the dialogue.  My dad loved westerns and I used to watch the old black-and-white movies on early TV with him with stars like Tim McCoy, Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd), and Gene Autry.  I will watch anything and everything with Robert Duvall, but nobody does a western better.

We're enjoying a lovely break in the weather of late.  It's even supposed to go down into the 70s in a few days.  (I'd say the weekend, but then I'd probably miss it.)  It's not fall yet, but I can tell it's coming.

Nothing big and/or exciting (unless you count the pullet egg), but it was a good day.