Sunday, June 25, 2017


Days drag and time flies.  How does that happen?  We're just about through the sixth of a twelve-month year and it seems I just took down the Christmas tree.  Perhaps right now this is more apparent to me as I've definitely gone into slow motion, but the week has still zipped by.

Cooler again by another couple of degrees outside, I still can't get the inside of the house below 90.  To me, that is H. O. T. and I sit with spray bottle at hand.  There was the possibility of a little more air circulating in the barn with the window covers off.  Percy is making such a pest of himself as he pops up again and again on either side of the room.  I wish he were like his brethren who come into the big room and flatten themselves like pancakes, arms and legs splayed like flying squirrels, trying to get cool in the shade.  They have the courtesy to wait until I leave to raid the stash.

Bessie Anne went to her pool four times yesterday and came back in dripping wet to throw herself on the hearth.  Oh well, it needed mopping anyhow.

Speaking of mopping and relatives, it was with great pleasure that I learned that one of Steve's cousins (oh, for goodness sake, after thirty years I think they're my cousins, too) is coming tomorrow for a visit.  The kitchen needs mopping.  Yup, I'll get right on that.  Luckily, I have two spray bottles so Sandy and I won't have to battle over custody of the one.

Cam has been taking care of Beau's animals while the family has gone for the weekend, and since she drives right by my place she stops in for a late afternoon chat.  There wasn't a hint of breeze all day yesterday, so thinking it would be cooler out on the deck was wishful thinking.  We watched several bands of tom turkeys march by below.  These birds are huge, and they walk with such dignity.  There is a big pot out by the chicken pen that is filled with water for the wild things.  Every day now it is nearly empty by morning.  Vultures line the rim of the goat trough to get a drink.

I'd best get moving, or this day will get away from me whether I'm in slow motion or not.  It's all relative.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Go Soak Your Head

"Oh, go soak your head," used to be the final harrumph in an argument; for me, it's a way of life.  Going down to and coming back up from the barn morning or evening, while topping off the water trough I'll literally soak my head and arms with the hose.  I stand in the sprinkler as I try to keep the herb garden alive.  When watering the deck plants, every few feet I'll turn the nozzle to 'mist' and stand under the spray.  My latest and best innovation is a spray bottle, and I wish I'd thought of it many summers ago.  It was a degree or two cooler outside yesterday, but still 90 in the house.  The ceiling fan does its best to stir the air, but it's not really effective, and there were no breezes outside.  Spritzing a mist at my face and neck periodically while in the house is instantly cooling.  It might not last long, so this is repeated throughout the day.  I probably look like a drowned rat, but I truly don't care.  Mr. Happy, the weatherman, joyfully proclaims this is the third longest stretch of heat since 19-umpty and seems almost sad that it may be coming to an end.  One can only hope.  Sorry, Mr. Happy.

I had planned to join Steve's family at the annual reunion this weekend as it is down in Angels Camp this year, not so very far away.  Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, nieces, nephews, cousins, and a gaggle of kidlets come from near and far.  It is always a time of camaraderie, games, contests, costumes, and good food.  I would have so enjoyed seeing everyone for an afternoon, but my rib continues to give me fits and tells me I'm not going to be driving any distance in the near future.  Sigh.

I've got to devise some sort of holster for the spray bottle so I can take it to the barn.  That's the plan.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Haute Couture

(After yesterday, that should be "hot" couture.)

I am widely known as a fashionista, dressing daily in duds designed and created by the premiere house of farm fashion, Dickies.  Pockets galore, durable fabric, always of a color that never goes out of style.  There are, however, a couple of tips I can give to anyone who wishes to follow my lead and wear bibbies (otherwise known as overalls).

1)  The designers seem to feel that if you buy a set of bibbies large enough to fit your derriere, you must be seven feet tall and they make the legs accordingly.  This will require an industrial-strength sewing machine to shorten or many, many turns of the cuff, creating the perfect place to store foxtails, bits of alfalfa, and a pound of dust/dirt.  Caution:  always empty the cuffs before washing bibbies.

2)  Straps on bibbies are adjustable.  There is a sort of mechanism by which they can be shortened for those of us who are vertically challenged.  Be forewarned.  The straps tend to readjust by themselves, and they're pretty sneaky.  You may not realize this until you see that your pants legs are dragging on the ground (filling the cuffs) or that the crotch is down around your knees.  Consider this a word to the wise.

Regardless of these drawbacks, I heartily recommend bibbies as probably the most comfortable britches out there with no waistline to bind as you sit to milk, loose enough to let air circulate in the heat, and they do wear like iron.

One-hundred in the shade and 90 degrees in the house.  I carried a spray bottle with me all day and frequently used it on myself and Bessie Anne (the cats were in hiding).  I had put in a call to Helper Dude to take the covers off the windows in the barn, something I've always done without thinking twice, but my rib told me in no uncertain terms not to try it this time.  Unfortunately, HD cannot come until next week and I didn't want the girls to suffer through the night.  I mentioned this dilemma to Camille and, bless her heart, she came in the afternoon to do this for me and the goats.  It was a ten-minute chore that will make all the difference in the world now that any puff of air can come through the windows for a little relief.

We then retired to the shade on the deck for a cold drink and a nice chat.  Heat or no heat, it was a good day.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peaks And Valleys

Highs and lows, peaks and is full of ups and downs.  For whatever reason, all of my current aches and pains were worse yesterday and laid me low.  Everybody fed, milked, and watered and I was down for the rest of the day.  Hurting like crazy doesn't do much for morale, either, and I had my own little pity party.  This prolonged heat had gotten to the chickens, too.  I hadn't picked up an egg in days.  I sure didn't blame them; I wouldn't have wanted to sit in a dark corner in a hot coop and be productive, either.

The house was littered with cats and dog stretched out on tiles and hearth, only changing places to find a cooler spot.  Boy, it didn't take Bessie Anne long to get with the program.  A couple of times yesterday she'd give a little whine.  "What?  Do you want to go in your pool?"  She would immediately go to the door and when I opened it, she'd run (the fastest she'd moved all day) to the water.  When she steps in, I pour water over her back and completely soak her down.  Dripping, Bess gets out.  I can judge her level of heat discomfort by how vigorously she shakes it off.  Yesterday she was a hot dog and there was hardly a twitch.  Wet dog doesn't do much for carpet or furniture, but her comfort is more important.  I feel bad that I can't bend over long enough to clip off her heavy winter coat just yet.

As they do, these things pass.  By nightfall I could walk upright and put the kids to bed.  There were even four eggs in the coop.  The weatherman is going to be happy today as the temp is supposed to break records(!), peaking well into triple digits, and then start on a downhill slope to mid 90s.  I'm moving much better this morning.  I'm ready for an "up."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Well Done

I will admit that I've been dragging my feet getting down to the goats these past mornings.  Just the thought of walking into that heat-shimmering sauna slows me down.  The girls seem to handle the temperatures with equanimity, but I want to make sure they have access to water and that can only happen when they're let out.  As Steve would say on an occasion when I might whine, "They're your toys.  You wanted them."  Yes I did, and I do.  A waiter might ask, "How would you like your steak, madam?  Rare, medium or well done?"  I prefer rare, but I am well done through and through after barn chores these days.

Cracked rib, sore bum, and mammogram are three things that should never be in the same sentence together.  Enough said.

Home again and back into bibbies and knowing I was done for the day, I invited Arden over.  She accepted and we sat out on the deck in the shade to catch any errant breeze that might come our way.  Bess lay panting under the table, so we took her over to the wading pool for a cooling dip.  It's a small pool and would have been crowded with three, but it was tempting.

There are good days, bad days, and those days when just getting through gets a "Well done."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Don't Ask

I never cared much for The Three Stooges, but was fond of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  Stan had a familiar line that went, "Now you've done it, Olly."  I've been saying that line to myself quite frequently of late.  The night after cracking the rib, after putting the kids to bed, a stick rolled under my foot and I landed hard on my backside.  Now it's hard to stand, move, and sit.  Today I have to drive into town for a mammogram.  I'm sure not going to ask, "What next?"

Turk now runs up to within a couple of feet from me and we go down to the feeding station together.  If I were so inclined, I'll bet I could have him eating out of my hand.

I think Percy has quit paying the vig to the goats because they've stopped tipping their bowl and dropping feed in the one spot I can't see.  Percy pops up on one side, then the other, trying to raid the mice's cereal.  Squirrels have really pretty, liquid brown eyes, but I swear Percy gets an evil glint as I squirt and swat.  Mice have lovely manners.  They chose a morsel and either take it away, or sit and eat it neatly, holding it with both hands (er, paws), and wipe their mouth when it's gone.  Squirrels cram everything into their mouth at one time, leaving nothing for the next guy.  Percy and I could get along if he'd only learn to share.

I took Bess out on the deck to go wading the other afternoon, thinking the water would be warm enough.  It's a good thing I tested it with my hand first.  If she'd stepped in, she'd have been a boiled hot dog!  That water was hot!  We tried it again yesterday, but waited until the pool had been in the shade for awhile.  That worked.

I really want to slap the weatherman.  He gets so excited as he points to his graphs and tables, "We're going to beat the record for the most consecutive days over 100 degrees (in the valley)!"  Or for the highest temp for such-and-such a date.  I have no interest in breaking records.  I just want to know when this heat wave will come to an end.  Yesterday morning it was not only hot, but humid, too, and that created the condition for dry thunder storms and the thunder rolled for more than an hour.  That sets the stage for fires, and we were lucky to avoid them so far.

Sleep is my panacea for pain and/or heat.  I've been doing a lot of that lately.

Monday, June 19, 2017

To The Rescue

Levels were getting low in the feed barrels.  Patrick usually calls before he delivers alfalfa and I was going to ask him to throw some grain on the truck, too.  That saves me a trip and he empties the bags into the barrels for me, but he didn't call last time.  The chicken feed comes in 50-pound bags, usually no problem, but I was wondering how I was going to manage yesterday with this banged up rib.  As if I'd been sending out mental SOS signals, Pete called early on and offered to come up and tend to whatever needed doing.  Talk about a life saver!  Of course it was the hottest day so far, but he soldiered through it.  He told me, "I know you, Mom, you wouldn't let any of your animals go hungry."  I had to admit that the mice had gotten second helpings during milking in the morning.  Percy had snuck in unnoticed and cleaned them out.

Pete's timely rescue was greatly appreciated, and I enjoyed his company even more.

It was a good day.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

No Doubt

No doubt about it, I definitely cracked a rib.  So many chores and tasks I do every day without a second thought were painfully pointed out yesterday that involve pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, etc., and it's not like I can call in sick.  It is still pollen season and sneezing is the last thing I want to do.  I know from prior experience that I'm in for the long haul on this one.  It seems to take forever for these things to heal.  One other cracked rib, and then there was the time I slipped off the tailgate of the truck, landed square on my butt, and heard my coccyx (tailbone) snap.  There are so many opportunities for potential injury here that, all in all, I'm still pretty lucky.

 I'll admit I gave Sheila the stink eye in the morning, and I took a pass on cleaning the stalls.  Not much got done yesterday, period.  Sitting quite still was in order, and I'm good at that.  What with the heat, the cats simply disappeared to some cooler haven.  Lap or no lap, Celeste was not to be seen, and Bessie Anne found her summertime hidey-hole on the stone hearth behind the wood stove.  The only productive things accomplished were filling the hummers' feeders, watering the deck plants, and filling Bess's new wading pool.  By this afternoon, the water will be warm enough for her to go splashing and cool off.

No doubt today will be a rerun, and that will be the only thing running around here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Screeching Halt

All ambitious plans for the day came to an end when I got back from the barn yesterday.  Summer announced its arrival with soaring temperatures and I was right back to the sit-and-sweat routine.  I felt really bad for Patrick later as he bucked ten bales of alfalfa off the flatbed and stacked them in the feed barn.  Sweat just poured off him.

I don't think much will get done today, either.  Sheila was being a stinkpot at bedtime last night and we got into a wrestling match.  In the scuffle, I banged my rib cage on a half-door and I'm pretty sure I cracked something.  Let's just say I'm moving slow today, heat or no heat.

The day before, I thought I'd try out the "delay brew" feature on the coffeemaker that would have my coffee ready when I got up.  Again with that darned 24-hour clock thing.  I failed.  Waking at 4:30 this morning, still drowsy with sleep I thought if I hurried I would only have to push the button a few times to have the coffee ready at 5.  It wasn't until I was going down the hallway that the craziness of that hit me.  Oh well.

That beautiful Asian lily I showed the other's gone.  Robert struck again.  Drat.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Trial And Error

Let's face it, I have little to no self-control.  I'd planned on waiting for a visit from Pete to try out the new coffeemaker, but there I was yesterday, cleaning up in the kitchen and thinking housewifely thoughts.  The coffeemaker was sitting in its unopened box in the round room.  "Hmmm, maybe I should just make sure all the parts are there."  They were.  "Maybe I should give it a trial run just to make sure everything works."  Uh huh.  The first thing I do with any new equipment is sit down and read the instruction manual cover to cover.  It's a coffeemaker, how hard can it be?  1. Set the clock.  Just one button to push and if you miss the a.m. or p.m. or go past the desired hour by even one minute, you push the button through another 24-hour cycle.  It only took me about seventeen tries.  2. Pour in fresh water.  I did, and immediately flooded the countertop.  I'd missed the reservoir.  (In my defense, the machine is black and the light was dim.  It's my story.)  After using up a week's worth of cuss words and mopping up the mess, I persevered and got the darned thing working.  Like John Dear, we're going to have a period of adjustment here.  I did get a kick out of the Troubleshooting section of the manual.  Can you imagine the irate call to tech services that required this addition?
Problem:  the coffeemaker only brews water.
Probable Cause:  there are no coffee grounds in the filter basket.
Solution:  add the desired amount of coffee to the filter.
At any rate, I was glad I'd given it a trial run by myself.  Public humiliation is not my thing.

The rest of the day was spent in nirvana.  The Kids had gifted me with another certificate for massage and I took advantage of a visit in the afternoon.  To me, that's the height of luxury.  I had to stop for gas and put in an order for alfalfa on the way home.  I was so relaxed it was hard to hold the pen to write a check.

All's well that ends well.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Out Of Control

When we moved here, this hedge (and don't ask me what the plants are) was below the window ledges in front of the two front bedrooms.  Those rooms face west and, like the kitchen, get the brunt of the afternoon summer sun.  I used to keep the hedge clipped down until I realized it could afford some shade, particularly because one room was my office in which I spent many hours doing medical transcription and sweltering.  I did keep the hedge neat and tidy, though, with nice flat top and sides, but let it get much taller.  I don't do ladders anymore, and knew the top was getting unruly, but it wasn't until I really looked at it yesterday to see that the front and ends were also out of control.  I'm sure not going to do anything about it right now.  When the shrubs burst into blossom as they have, they draw bees like crazy and I would do anything to help those little critters.  We'd be in a world of hurt without them; bees do so much more for the planet than make honey.  I'll just put hedge trimming on the to-do-someday list.

All that was lush and green on the property has turned dry and brown.  I've had to start supplementing the girls' feed with alfalfa again.  Dead weeds and grasses have few of the nutrients of the greens they were stuffing down daily and milk production was notably down.

I misnamed Greedy Gus, the ground squirrel who comes to the breakfast buffet each morning.  It is my habit to call, "Turk, turk, turk," as I throw down the seed to bring the turkeys to the table.  Yesterday there were no turkeys in sight, but Gus was.  He waited, however, until I called, "Turk, turk, turk," to came and eat.  He thinks his name is Turk and he waited for his invitation.  Turk it is then.  They make me laugh.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rambling On

Same view, same time, same sky, but, oh, what a difference a day makes (Dinah Washington, 1975).  It was like that moment in "The Wizard Of Oz" when Dorothy flies out of black-and-white Kansas to step into technicolor Oz.

There was also a significant change in temperature.  Getting ready to go into town, I shed the turtleneck of the day before for a light-weight shirt and jeans.  It wasn't really what I'd call hot, but pleasantly warm.

(Celeste is wandering up and down the hall, miaowing as she goes around with Waldo in her mouth.  I wonder where she'll leave him today.)

When did doctors' offices become so organized?  Back in the day I'd spend hours in the waiting room, just waiting.  Nowadays I'm in and out on schedule.  Nice.  Dr. Locke gives a good, firm handshake.  (After seventeen years of milking, I've got a pretty good grip, myself.)  I so dislike a wimpy handshake.  I used to tell my grandkids, "You never have to kiss or hug anyone if you don't want to, but if you do, do it like you mean it.  No Hollywood hugs or kiss-the-air kisses."  If my kids hug you, you'll know you've been hugged!  But I digress.  I'm cleared for another six months, at least by this doc.

I did buy a new coffee maker.  It's got several bells and whistles I'm not sure I'll need, but it has a "strong brew" feature that I think Pete will like.  He drinks a lot of coffee when he's here and likes it strong enough to hold up a spoon.  I'm not sure what the metal was, probably aluminum, but when I was a kid, my mother and Aunt Jimmy (I also had an Aunt Carl - those Texans) would play cards all day and make pot after pot of coffee to "break in a new pot" and get rid of the metallic taste.  I haven't unpacked it yet and will probably wait until my old one gives up the ghost.

Doctor's office and two shopping stops and I was home in a little over three hours.  I can handle that.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Random Thoughts

I wait with anticipation each year for the Asian lilies to bloom.  There were a number of buds this year, but this is the only flower I've seen.  It seems that Raider Robert, that blankety-blank ground squirrel, has been on a search-and-destroy mission.  I don't think I'd mind quite so much if he actually ate the buds, but he just tears them from the plants. and sometimes pulls the plant out of the pot.  Drat.

Ralph came by as I was having a sit-down after barn chores.  Surprised, he immediately took the opportunity to fill an empty lap.  For the first time ever I heard a real cat purr instead of his usual raspy snork.  Could it be this little boy is growing up?

"Come on, Mom!  Let's you and me go outside."  So, of course, I followed Bess out to the deck for a little cloud watching.  It didn't rain all day, but the clouds remained threatening with that possibility, and it was positively cold.  Listening to the quiet, I realized that all those noisy baby birds in the oak to the left must have fledged.  No more of their raucous calling for more food.  Sitting there with frigid fingers, it was hard to believe a 30-degree spike in the temperature is due by the weekend.  I am not, repeat not, looking forward to heat close to 100.

Waldo either fell, was pushed or thrown down the stairwell.  Poor Waldo.

Hard to believe, but I've got a one-year follow-up appointment with my surgeon today.  While in town, I think I'll buy another coffee maker.  The old one seems to have recovered from whatever its problem was, but it might be wise to have another waiting in the wings, just in case.  I have priorities.

Hot days are meant just for sweating, cool days are work days, and cold days require a couple of lap cats.  Yesterday was cold.  There were only ragged remnants of the earlier clouds left at sundown.

It was a good day.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Luck O' The Scots

Rain had been predicted so I left the doors open for the girls after racing through chores.  I was actually on time to pick up Cam for our day's outing to the Highland Games, and this year we were there for the opening ceremonies.  The fun started in the parking lot.  A pair of barely teenage boys were giving lackluster directions, obviously wishing they'd stayed home.  "Oh no, kid!  Where's the old lady parking lot?  You're not going to make me walk from here, are you?"  He thought a minute and then firmly pointed to the space he'd selected, backed up by his buddy.  To him, I said, "Kid, you've got to work on your moves,"and demonstrated.  They started laughing, and played along.

Once upon a time I went to every meeting of the clans in northern California.  Spirits lift with the first sound of music and it only gets better.  Like a Willie Nelson concert (I've been to my share of those, too), people are there just to have a good time.  It's hard to walk and not keep in step to the drums from bands that are practicing everywhere.  Cam and I cruised the midway and picked a meeting place should we get separated.  The first order of business was to get a beer and a banger-and-onion for me and a corn dog for her, then we headed to the grandstand.  I've been to Games where there were thirty bands; yesterday there were only four, but they made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers.  Some think the Scots are a dour people; I find those I've met to be witty, rather ribald, and friendly.  The MC was no exception.  In these photos, the bands are to the right and clans and guilds are to the left.  The clouds were rather foreboding.

The Star-Spangled Banner was sung with utmost respect, and the crowd remained standing as a woman sang Flower Of Scotland, the unofficial anthem of Scotland.  The bands played together and then separately.  Is there anything more rousing than Scotland the Brave?  In amongst the clans, there was a group of Vikings (the enemy) who staged a mock drunken brawl that had us laughing.

After the ceremonies, Cam and I wandered through the animal barn and other exhibits.  I must say, the luck of the Scots was with us.  I don't think it ever reached 60 degrees, but no rain fell and it was most pleasant to walk along.  The military, veterans and active, was well represented in the various booths.  Over by the tents of the clans, girls were being trained for the caber toss with much lighter poles than those used by men, but still over 100 pounds; impressive!

After seeing all the craft booths and talking with exhibitors everywhere, we went to the open-air bandstand to listen to the music and rest our tired feet.  Feet kept active by thumping in time to the drums, however.  Not only were musicians playing in front, but bands were practicing on the hill and then marching along on the street behind.  I find the skirl of bagpipes thrilling.  Cam went over to watch the "heavy athletic" competition and I sat and indulged in people watching.

I'll have to admit that the highlight of the day was as we were driving out.  The same boys from the morning were sitting at the exit.  After all the cars they'd seen throughout the day, when they saw my truck they leaped to their feet.  The one cried out, "Old lady parking this way!" and the other gave a demonstration of directing that would have made a New York traffic cop proud.  Talk about ending the day with a laugh!

It started spitting rain on the way home and I'd no more than gotten in the house when the skies opened up and it rained hard for an hour.  The luck of the Scots held and it stopped before I put the kids to bed.

Need I say it?  It was a good day.  (Waldo was in the living room.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

They Say...

They say that nothing breeds success like success.  It might be true.  Still riding the high from the day before, I was inspired yesterday to "go for the gold."  After getting the last yard mowed (that was the biggie) I went on to scratch a number of other items off the to-do list, and all this before sitting down to watch the race at Belmont.  They say that the favorite horse never wins at Belmont, but it sure looked like Irish War Cry was going to disprove that.  Then Tapwrit surged past at the last minute for the win.  Guess "they" were right.  Since none in the family had picked Tapwrit, my nickel can stay in the piggy bank.

Arden asked the other day about Snake.  I haven't seen Snake in awhile, and that is worrisome.  Since I know he hangs out in the milking room, when I don't see him I am on high alert as to where else in the barn he might be.  I much prefer to see a snake first.

I feel that I'm in a real-life episode of "Where's Waldo?".  I never know where the piglet(s) will turn up.  Yesterday Waldo was on the bed.  Since all the piglets are identical, from now on they are all named Waldo.  Waldo was gone by bedtime, but I'm sure I haven't seen the last of him.

It had been a perfectly glorious day.  Blue, blue sky with a few cotton-ball clouds and a cooling breeze.  By sundown that breeze had turned into a chill wind and a jacket felt good on the way to the barn.

Cam and I are going to the Highland Games down in Plymouth today.  Men in kilts, bagpipe and drum bands, and bangers and onions, it doesn't get much better than that.  However, they say there's a possibility of rain in the afternoon.  I don't think that will dampen our spirits one bit.

It was a good day.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Great And Small

I find as I grow older that my world is shrinking.  Having once traveled to most of the U.S. states, including Hawaii and Alaska, and to eleven countries in Europe, now a trip to Cameron Park is a big deal.  My circle of friends is smaller.  Once upon a time I was president of a police wives organization of over 500 women, now I count my friends on both hands (but to steal a line from Spencer Tracy, "...not much there, but what there is is 'cherce'").  This is all as it should be because I'm not sure I'd have the energy to cope with more.

James Herriot wrote some lovely books, including "All Creatures Great And Small."  I like that idea of inclusion, the point being is that I've learned to appreciate the small things in life, and small triumphs become great things in a limited environment.  Yesterday was filled with little joys, starting with the fact that the girls were not fighting when let out of the barn.  Spot put in an appearance at the breakfast buffet in the milking room.  It's nice to see a familiar face.  Celeste made me laugh when she came down the hall, miaowing like mad, and brought the piglet into the living room to toss and pounce and finally sit and protect.

It was another cool day, that alone was cause to rejoice.  It won't last as it's due to go up into the 90s by end of next week.  Aarrgh!

I fell into Facebook hell on my iPhone when I pushed the wrong button or swiped the wrong way and found I couldn't get out or go forward...just plain stuck.  I wish I knew how I did it, but eventually came unstuck by hitting the right combination of whatever.  That was a major triumph!

I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, doing chores, etc., when they're noted and not putting them off as I've been doing.  Things like watering the house plants might not seem like much, but I'm tired of carrying the self-imposed load of guilt when they're not done.  My greatest success was that I dusted without incentive or provocation.  No company was expected and there was hardly enough to write your name in.  I just did it.  Ta da!

Another spectacular sunset was a fitting end to a good day.

Friday, June 9, 2017

I Love A Rainy Day

Yes, this is the same me who not so long ago was whining about rain, but that was constant rain, days and days of downpour to the point I was checking how long a cubit is so I could build an ark.  Yesterday, it started to sprinkle just as I went out to feed (of course).  It was a nice warning to close the big door on the chicken coop and it didn't come down harder until I was milking.

I'm having a bit of a problem with the girls.  Three is not a good number with goats.  When there are four or more, they've each got someone to buddy up with.  Three, not s' much.  Sheila and Tessie are ganging up on Inga and making her life miserable.  I'd have to look up records for just how old Inga is, but since all the girls were named alphabetically in order of birth, there's obviously a stretch between I and S, T.  Normally, leaving the play yard open would give enough shelter for the three, but the younger two were butting Inga and pushing her out so I had to leave the door to the big room open, too, so she could get in somewhere without being bullied.  My life would be easier if I could put all the girls together in the big room (about the size of six good-sized stalls) at night, but obviously that's not going to happen.

For most of the day there was either a gentle rain or a drizzle/mist and it was cool, cool, cool.  The song in my head was a paraphrase of Eddie Rabbit's song "I Love A Rainy Night."  The only problem, if it can be called a problem, is that this weather tightens my curly hair and I look like I'm wearing a Brillo pad on my head.  Oh, well.

It was a perfect day to get a lot of computer work done and not swelter or freeze.  There was a break in the afternoon, long enough for Bess and me to go get another bag of goat chow.  There are those things one cannot do without.  I fear I'm going to have to make an unscheduled trip to town soon because my coffee maker is making death gurgles and that's another indispensable item.

I found one of the knitted piglets Ralph had stashed away and threw it out into the room for him to find and hide again.  I have no idea where the others are.  He's gotten quite good at hiding his treasures.  While at the computer, I kept hearing a cat's high-pitched miaow.  It was Celeste walking around with the piglet in her mouth.  I don't know whether she was celebrating the finding of the lost, feeling sorrow for the poor baby, or proclaiming victory over Ralph, but she did it time and time again throughout the day.  I don't know where the toy is now.

It was still misting at the kids' bedtime.  It was a good day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Beginning To End

It was a busy day yesterday, probably due to a nice drop in the temperature.  It began as usual, throwing down birdseed.  No turkeys were evident (must have slept in), but Greedy Gus raced to fill his cheeks.  Note the two holes on either side.  I have to be careful where I throw the seed; I don't mind feeding the wild things, but I'll be darned if I'll do home delivery.

In addition to getting other neglected chores done, John Dear and I mowed down the west field.  I'm trying to stay ahead of the dreaded star thistle, and I must say the field looks very nice.  I can't say the same thing for John and me.  You'd never know my shoe is as black as that tire and my sock started out white.  This is a pretty good indicator of how dust roiled around us as we made the circuit.  Still have one more yard to go, but I gave John a shower and we called it a day.

Clouds coming in from the coast at sundown give credence to the weatherman's prediction that there is a chance of rain today.  I sincerely hope so as that would settle some of that danged dust.

I'm going to have to start requiring reservations for room on my lap.  At day's end, looking for a little rest I lay back in my chair (ye gods, I should have stripped off those socks!).  Immediately I was joined by uninvited guests crowding into whatever space was available.  Ah, well, I'd probably miss them if they didn't show up.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wound Down

Another hot day and my activity springs came uncoiled.  A load of laundry washed and hung was the big accomplishment of the day.  After writing of all my mother did I am shamed, but not enough to do anything about it.  There are still two yards to mow.  I was waiting until closer to sundown when the breeze usually kicks up and would make it more bearable, but just as I was going out received a rather lengthy phone call and missed that opportunity.  Oh well.

Bess Anne is going through another needy phase.  Her opinion seems to be, "If you're just going to sit there, you should be holding me."  She's not a big dog, but she has a stocky build (she says she's got heavy bones) and weighs nearly fifty pounds.  It's a bit of a struggle to get her up onto my lap, but I can't look long into those puppy-dog eyes and so we get it done.  When it's hot, thankfully the cats head for cooler places to nap.  Let's face it, Bessie Anne on my lap is a good excuse not to do anything.  Heaven knows I wouldn't want to disturb the dog.

I'm hoping the weatherman proves trustworthy.  He said, with a straight face, that we're due for a twenty-degree cool down tomorrow so there's a possibility my springs might get wound up again.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wonder Woman

Back in the day when televisions had nine-inch round screens, rabbit-ear antennas, and a whopping three channels, there was a program called Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians and featured a comedic Hilo Hattie.  My mother loved the music and decided to learn how to play a steel guitar.  She took lessons, practiced diligently, and got quite good, to the point she played in a steel-guitar band for awhile.  It may be that Hawaiian music went out of vogue or Mother's enthusiasm waned, but she gave that up for other interests.

A hobby that lasted longer and was certainly productive was making hooked rugs.  What a tedious process that was.  Mother would go to thrift stores and buy woolen clothing, cut them apart, somehow bleach the color out, redye the material to her needs, and then began cutting it into quarter-inch strips.  The backing was pattern-printed burlap and the strips were hooked in and pulled up into even, tight loops.  It must have taken forever.  These were big rugs, over six feet long and four feet wide.  They were quite beautiful.  I have three or four still, some in a chest downstairs and a small one with rose buds that was made for my bedroom is in the guest room now.  It's a little the worse for wear, but I'm not willing to give it up.

She could have been a professional seamstress.  She made almost all of my clothes as I grew up.  She had insomnia and many were the times I'd wake in the night to hear the whirring of Mother's sewing machine, the only light coming from the machine.  My brother-in-law brought home a silk parachute from the war (WWII), and Mother used the real silk material to make a negligee and peignoir set for my sister, pure luxury.

Mother never learned to knit, but she could crochet up a storm.  Our house was filled with doilies and antimacassars made by her hands.  She also could tat, something I could never get the hang of.  Much later, she would sit outside where the light was better and tat lace to edge handkerchiefs.  I have the last ones she made.

We had a large orchard with a variety of fruit trees.  Mother picked and canned fruit for hours in the summer.  We didn't have air conditioning then (either), and she and my sister sweltered as they cut and stirred.  Shelves in the garage were filled with sparkling, jewel-toned jars to bring a taste of sunshine throughout the winter.

When she was 50, the Los Angeles Police Department was trying out a new program, putting civilians on Harley three-wheelers and making them "meter maids."  I'm not sure she knew what she was getting into, but Mother applied for the job and got it.  The PD didn't know quite what to do with civilians, so sent them through the cadet academy like regulation police officers.  It was a grueling exercise, but Mother persevered.  Her graduation was one of the proudest moments of her life.  She worked in Los Angeles riding a motorcycle until she retired at age 65, and then she began traveling the world, sometimes alone and at others taking a grandson along.

We didn't always get along, but with all the hoopla about the new movie "Wonder Woman," it's made me think of her

Monday, June 5, 2017

Strange Bedfellow

There is something about putting fresh sheets on a bed that drive cats, Ralph in particular, bonkers.  The battle begins as soon as the bottom sheet is billowed open.  He runs under it and begins rolling.  There have been times I've tucked in all four corners with him squished in the middle before he oozes out from under like toothpaste.  Then, oh joy, comes the top sheet.  He darts about on the bed, pouncing on every wrinkle.  It's a real struggle to smooth and tuck with this nutter playing games.

Sheets finally in place, there is still the blanket.  Goody, goody!  Ralph brrrp-brrrps as he grabs at each blanket roll.  Celeste was off in another room or I'd have had two cats to contend with.  Who knew that changing the sheets could be such a circus and source of amusement.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


It has become a battle of wills.  After suffering two defeats the day before, I would have thought Mama Wasp would have moved on.  However, she was building a new nest in exactly the same spot yesterday.  While I admire her tenacity, I do not want to be roommates with her.

The construction really is amazing.  Only a little larger than a quarter, this partial piece is lighter than a feather.  The material is as thin as tissue paper, but it is tough and doesn't tear easily.  Mama had begun the compartments for her eggs and, given the chance, would continue creating a safe nursery.  I wonder if she lays eggs in each tier as she goes.

After a hiatus, Shaddup is back on sentry duty.  Not only that, there is now a Shaddup backup in training.  It is hard to describe the irritating, repetitive, high-pitched, metallic yip of a ground squirrel, and now there are two.  Shaddup sits atop the juniper bush and Junior perches on the fence behind him.  Sometimes they take turns and sometimes they yell in unison.  Either way, they're driving me nutty.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Not Always

Children are taught, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."  However, persistence does not always pay off, particularly in my goat barn.  A paper wasp had started building a nest under a rafter almost over my head.  Nope, sorry, that's not gonna happen.  After switching out goats on the stand, I knocked down the nest with a broom handle I keep for just such purposes.  Mama wasp came back and hunted the area.  She knew where she'd left it and couldn't believe it was gone.  I actually felt bad for her.  Son of a gun, she started building a new one right where the first one had been.  When I'd finished with the girls and Mama was away getting more materials, I took down the nest.  They really are marvels of engineering and construction, considering they're made of spit wads, but I don't want to share my space with wasps.

Percy, and this time it was Percy, showed up yesterday.  Again and again he'd pop up on either side of the room, determined to horn in on the mice's meal.  My head was on a swivel checking for that persistent dude, either yelling or squirting to keep him away.  He probably came back after I'd left the barn and cleaned up the leftovers, but at least the littlest kids had their breakfast in peace.

Love was in the air for a pair of lizards.  She was playing coquette and he was getting desperate.  Neither of them paid me any attention as he chased her through the milking room and into the big room and back again.  She stayed just a few inches in front, but he wouldn't give up.  I glanced down as I was letting Tessie out.  Oh, no!  There he was, lying flat on his back.  Had he had a heart attack?  I picked him up thinking to dispose of the body, but some impulse told me to put him back down.  He'd either fainted from exhaustion or passed out in ecstasy because he revived and went on about whatever it is lizards do.  Maybe persistence did pay off for them.

Friends from Fiddletown called and invited me to meet them at The Pub.  Of course, I said of course.  It's been a couple of years since I've seen them and I do enjoy their company.  I'd recently watched a cooking show that featured different ways to prepare zucchini, so the beer-battered strips appealed to me.  They came with a couple of dipping sauces and were very good.  The chef came out later (it's that kind of place) and stopped by our table.  I said I'd really enjoyed the zucchini and asked if he put corn starch in the batter.  He said no, but he'd recently heard about that and planned to try it.  He asked if we were going to be there a little while longer because he'd go back in the kitchen and play with the recipe.  When he came back with a piping hot basket of strips, he sat down and we all compared the two preparations.  The consensus was that the addition of corn starch gave an even better crunch.  How often does a home cook get a kudo from a chef?

It was a good day.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Getting There

It was as if this peony had waited for the proper (weed-free) setting before stepping on stage.  It certainly hadn't been open the day before.  This is one of the singles; most of the others are the big, showy doubles.  I like the unusual center display.

It was a go-to-town day, like it or not.  Walmart in P'ville is no longer a one-stop shop as they have eliminated the fresh-food section.  I wonder what corporate dunderhead thought that would be a good idea.  It certainly will add miles and time now if I need an onion or a bag of salad.  Sigh.

There was still time when I got home to put John Dear into action.  We mowed the back and front yards.  What a difference one day makes.  While the ground had been soft and damp after that short rain, yesterday the dust billowed and rolled around us in dirty clouds.  Note to self:  shut the front door before mowing.  There are still the side yards and the west field to work on and a ton of hand weeding to do, but slowly, slowly, we're getting there.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Weed Be Gone!

A soft rain began just after sunup yesterday and lasted about an hour.  It had stopped by feeding time, but left the air feeling fresh and clean and settled the dust on the ground.  I could go for that kind of rain on a regular basis.  There was a high overcast, and it was perfect weather to get a start on weeding the herb garden.  The dirt was softened and made pulling weeds so easy.  When the sun broke through, it was as if Nature had turned up the temp on the oven and it was time to quit.  I'll pay for it today, but I did get the entire peony area cleared.  There are enough weeds left to constitute a full-time job, but it was a good start.

It wasn't just the peony bed that looks good now.  Helper Dude came with his weed whacker and cleared all the areas that I can't get to with John Dear.  John still hasn't had any exercise as the yards and field were too wet.  Like dusting, it's never ending, but we got a lot done and it shows.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Under The Influence

Yesterday was proof positive that my activities and mood are definitely influenced by weather.  Cool and breezy, it was a great day to get numerous small chores done and spend time on the deck with Bess.  I'd planned on gassing up John Dear and tackling a yard or two in the late afternoon, but Cam had been up our road and stopped by and offered to take my trash down to the big road on her way down.  I wouldn't turn down a deal like that.  Of course she stayed to chat.  We're planning to go to the Highland Games in Plymouth soon.

It isn't just the turkeys that come running when I throw down birdseed in the morning.  Now a ground squirrel races up, too.  Squirrels have always joined the chickens in the pen; now they don't bother to leave when I go in again.  I just get dirty looks as they continue to fill their cheeks.  The squirrel who currently visits the milking room is definitely not Persistent Percy.  This fellow pokes his head up to check out the food supply, but a loud "No!" is enough to send him away.  I'm being overrun with these furry pests.

I hope this weather lasts a few more days.  There's plenty more to do here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What Could Be Better?

What could be better than a day in the company of one's son?  The company of two sons, of course!  It turned out that Pete had invited Dave, also a bachelor, to share a meal.  Pete outdid himself on the barbecue with steak, baked potatoes with rosemary, and grilled peaches.  And I sat there like Lady Astor's horse and didn't have to lift a finger!  We talked and laughed together all afternoon.

In the morning, I had watched a number of touching ceremonies in various military cemeteries across the nation.  During the Vietnam War, I, like so many others, wore a bracelet engraved with the name of a POW/MIA victim.  I wore the bracelet until it broke in two, but I knew nothing about the man and never learned the end of the story.  There was not the research capability then that the internet provides now.  I've never forgotten the name on my bracelet and on the off chance I might find something, I keyed in William J. Brashear.  And there it was.  William Brashear was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force whose two-man fighter jet was shot down in a jungle in Laos in 1969.  To this day he remains MIA, but he is not forgotten.  Major Brashear was from Chula Vista, California.

It was a most memorable Memorial Day, and what could be a better ending than a sunset like this?

Monday, May 29, 2017


My mother used to say, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."  I know there's no chance, but, oh, how I wish a day like yesterday would be the hottest day of summer.  It hovered close to 80, definitely warm but comfortable.  I know, however, that's just the tip of the iceberg (how's that for an oxymoron?).  Nature has not yet opened the oven door.

I wished someone would have answered the phone because I really wanted to call in sick yesterday.  I felt punk all day, to the point that I called Cam and rescinded my invitation for dinner.  Regardless, I still had to go to the feed store.  I might not have felt like eating, but the critters could not go without.  Thankfully, it appears to have been one of those 24-hour episodes because I'm up and running (albeit slowly) this morning.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

One Of Those

Yesterday was one of those days.  It's bad enough when you do something silly or make a mistake, but it's that much worse when you have to admit it.  I'd gone to the store the day before specifically to get ingredients for the Russian Pie, depending on my Teflon mind to remember the recipe (mistake number one).  I had to call Pete in the morning to ask if he'd stop and get mushrooms on his way up.  He asked if I needed anything else.  "Oh no," I answered blithely (mistake number two).  Pete drinks a lot of coffee with creamer.  I thought I had plenty of creamer.  I did not, but didn't check until it was too late to call him again.  Dang!

Mistake number three was the biggie.  Bessie Anne had her vet appointment so she could get her rabies vaccination in order to have her county dog license renewed.  They gave me the filled-out form to mail in as proof and taped the new tag to that paper.  I was told I could make a copy and send that in.  Later, in a rush to meet the deadline, I made the copy, addressed and stamped the envelope, and got it down to the mailbox.  In between prep work for the pie and cleaning up the house yesterday, I decided to put the tag on Bessie's collar.  I found the copy, just the copy.  It was embarrassing to call Animal Services and admit I had mailed them the new tag and could they please send it back.  At least the gal got her chuckle for the day.

After a morning of blunders, the day got better from then on.  The weather was great, Pete gave the Russian Pie his approval, and it was grand to spend the afternoon with my son.  Due to distance, his visits in the past have been brief and far between.

Shortly after Pete left, Cam stopped by.  (She's coming tonight for leftovers.)

Rough start notwithstanding, it was a good day.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dead Or Alive

Why is it, I wonder, that when one battery dies, so many die at the same time?  Are they like lemmings that reportedly follow one over a cliff to their doom?  It's fortunate that I keep a lot of batteries of all sizes on hand because I'm in the middle of a fatal battery epidemic right now.  The other day I had to replace four AAA batteries in a remote control for the living room TV, and yesterday the wireless mouse for the computer stopped working.  Yup, dead battery.  It only needed one AA to revive.  Note to self:  restock AAAs.

With goats, there is no such thing as a day off so the long weekend has little significance other than it is for Memorial Day, a deeply meaningful holiday.  Pete works from home so days off do not mean a change of venue for him, either.  We've been planning to get together at some time.  I want to try out a recipe on him, hoping to find a green vegetable he'll actually like.  Win some, lose some.  When the Kids were little, because I really, really like eggplant, I tried recipe after recipe in an attempt to find one they'd enjoy.  Epic fail.  But I digress.  Pete is coming up today for savory Russian Pie made with cabbage.  Then he invited me to his home on Monday for steak.  He listed a number of reasons why I should come down, ending with, "You've got to leave the farm sometime, Mom!"  Me:  "You had me when you said steak."

It barely got out of the 50s yesterday.  Heavenly weather.  Makes one glad to be alive.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Song Of The Day

Glancing out the window in the morning, I immediately heard Willie Nelson singing one of his theme songs.  To paraphrase, "Out of food again.  Oh good grief, they're out of food again!"  All three of the hummers' feeders were empty.  I cannot keep up with the demands of those tiny guzzlers.  They've gone through over thirty pounds of sugar already, and I've got a twenty-five pound sack waiting.

It barely reached 70 yesterday, a day that commanded deck time.  Bessie and I were happy to comply.

Cam came by in the afternoon to share her day of good news, always nice to hear.  We talked until near sundown and we both had animals to tend.  There was but dim light in the feed room, so I was cautious when I noted that the lid was off the chicken scratch.  The last time that happened there were three little fat mice in the barrel.  I found out for sure that I don't scream.  I bellowed when I reached in and Thing tried to run up my arm.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pie In The Face

Just before he left office, the prior mayor of Sacramento had a pie pushed in his face by a protestor.  This is evidently a punishable crime.  Personally, I like pie in my face.  In, I say, not on.  I like pie warm from the oven, but I like it even better for breakfast the next day.  It's about the only thing I will eat in the morning.  And it's not bad for lunch, either.  Pie doesn't keep well and it would be such a shame to let it go to waste.  (I'm very good at rationalization.)

I'm beginning to feel like a weather reporter.  Not that it's all that interesting, but the weather has such an impact on life here, dictating what can and should be done on any given day.  The deltas made it all the way up here and it was a good ten degrees cooler yesterday.  I've been waiting for the right conditions to dust the house.  Not the furniture, the house.  The vinyl siding collects dust like a magnet and the front porch was an especial mess.  It was a perfect day to hose it down and the dust washed off in dirty waves.  I did get a number of sundry chores done, but that was the most satisfying.

I wasn't the only one ready for a sit-down in the afternoon.  I love it that my companions are best friends.  Celeste had cleaned Bessie's face before snuggling up back to back.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

See Spot Run

Those of us of a certain age will remember the "Dick And Jane" readers from grade school.  My mother had taught me to read before I went to kindergarten so I found these simplistic books totally boring, but who could forget "See Dick run.  See Jane run.  See Spot (their dog) run."?  Down in the barn there is a small mouse whose fur has lighter patches instead of the sleek grey-brown coats of the others.  Of course his name is Spot, and Spot does run.  He belongs to the tribe under the inner wall of the milk room and he comes out to eat his cereal on that side.  Then he races under the milking stand to get a drink of milk from the soaked wipe on the outer sill.  While I enjoy all the mousies, I do like to have at least one I can recognize by name.

It was 85 degrees by 11:00 yesterday morning and it didn't stop there.  I don't need an excuse to do nothing, but I'll certainly take one if the opportunity arises.  Needing to clear space on the DVR, I binge-watched a number of episodes of "Call The Midwife."  The setting is the poverty stricken east end of London in postwar 1950s.  England was still suffering from the effects of World War II and I can't help comparing that with the booming economy in America during those years.  Having attended a convent school for two years, I can relate to the nuns who run the midwifery program.

We're supposed to get a break from the heat by this weekend.  Maybe I'll be more productive then.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Forward And Back

I so looked forward to seeing two lovely friends yesterday.  They never disappoint.  And they brought lunch!  Given that it was the hottest day so far (86) and the fact I hadn't dusted, we ate al fresco in the shade on the deck where we could catch a whiff of breeze now and then.  Tinka and Kit unloaded a buffet of finger foods:  fresh veggies, chips, several dips, and a high-class frittata with artichoke hearts.  It was a perfect meal on such a day.  Knowing that I have a fondness for KFC cole slaw, they presented a tub of that which I didn't have to share!  I had taken the apple pie out of the oven shortly after the ladies arrived and it was well received.  We see each other so seldom that it was an afternoon of nonstop talking.  Kit gave me a bag of Trader Joe's goodies, including licorice, ginger cookies and other treats.  Like Bessie Anne when given a treat, if I had a tail, it would be wagging.

All too soon it was time for the gals to head back to Tinka's house.  Kit has a long drive back to SoCal ahead of her today. Those ladies give great goodbye hugs.

It was a day to look back on with fond good memories.

Note how far the earth has turned.  The sun used to go down behind the trees on the left, now it is setting behind the tree on the right.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Get It In Gear

I seem to be stuck in neutral lately.  I look around at all that needs to be done and I'm stunned into inactivity.  If I get even one major chore done in a day I call it success, but seventeen more things pile up behind it and scream for attention.

I got a call from my son in Hawaii yesterday.  He told of going paddle-boarding in the ocean and having a six-foot manta ray cruise by, as well as a large number of giant sea turtles.  In true island style, he's bought a minivan to tootle around in.  Larry is truly in his element.  While I miss him terribly, I am so happy for him.

Kit and Tinka are coming today and I've simply got to get it in gear and get something done.  The weeds can wait.  (No, they won't wait, they'll just keep growing!)  I promised to bake an apple pie for the ladies and that's at the top of my To-Do list.  To paraphrase a NASCAR announcer, "Lady, start your engine!"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lost And Found

Fortunately, Go-To Guy had not gone fishing.  Saturday or not, he was already working at another job in the area when I called and said he'd swing by when he finished.  He arrived while I was milking out Tessie and went right to work.  Turns out my loss of water was due to a break in the line.  I hate to think what next month's electric bill will be as the pump had kept running all night long.  I don't know what kind of magic he used to locate the break, but Go-To and his son Trevor had to dig down a good three feet and there it was.  As these things go, of course Go-To needed some parts he didn't have.  Not to worry.  After the usual search down in the shop (it took me five years of hunting before I found where he kept the nails), we found Steve's stash of PVC fittings and believe it or not they were exactly the size GT needed.  There are times when my husband's hoarding habits come in handy.  Given that yesterday was one of the hottest so far, I was glad for the guys' sake that the break happened under the shade of a big oak.

Being without water is scary.  My biggest worry always is for the animals.  I can go without a shower and make do with bottled water, but the chickens drink about two gallons a day, the goats guzzle it down, and the hummers are up to two quarts of juice now.  I was so grateful that GT could fit me in and that the problem was solved so quickly.

Later, I had to make a quick run to the grocery store, and it was a quick run because that huge sinkhole had finally been repaired and the road was open.  I'd promised to make an apple pie for the ladies who are coming tomorrow; hard to do when you have no apples.  I also needed a cabbage for a recipe I have in mind and I had a hankering for liverwurst.  I got the apples and a lot of other supplies, but forgot the cabbage and liverwurst.  If someone finds a wandering mind, please return to owner.

As if the day hadn't had enough excitement, I settled in to watch the Preakness.  Let's just say that Always Dreaming had his head in the clouds and came in a disappointing fourth.  Sigh.

Cam came by later, a nice finish to the afternoon.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


"Houston, we have a problem."

True to form, after a flurry of activity and a rash of company, yesterday was a day off.  The temperature rose to almost 80, as my long-ago neighbor would say, "hotting up."  It was a good day to sit in the shade on the deck and then come in and pay bills.  (Who'm I kidding, that's never a good day.)  I noticed while cleaning up the kitchen that the water flow would periodically diminish, but it came right back.  No big deal.  Then, after putting the girls in the barn for the night I was topping off their trough when the water slowed to a trickle.  "Houston, we have a problem."  I'll have to put in a call to Go-To Guy today and hope he hasn't gone fishing.  I've got long-distance company (Kit and Tinka) coming on Monday and it won't do to tell them not to flush.

Another hen died, one of the old Rhodies (Rhode Island reds).  Nicholas's harem is getting smaller and smaller.  That leaves me (and him) with nine hens.  Maybe I should have bought more chicks when I had the chance.

The Preakness is running today.  If it's as hot today, it will be good to just sit and watch the ponies race.  There was enough water to make a cup of coffee this morning.  That's a good start.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Revolving Door

Guests came and went in waves yesterday.  The first to arrive was Candy, a circuit-riding hairdresser who, at one time, had a shop in Somerset and now makes house calls.  I was in bad need of a trim and Candy is good company.  It was a win-win.  She clipped and we talked.  Being a professional, Candy is able to do both at the same time. When I was a kid, my mother always cut my hair.  In high school, the fashion for girls at that time was long straight hair with a tiny curl at the end.  Some would go to the extreme of ironing their hair and rolling the bottom around a pencil.  I could go for the length, but straight was beyond me.  Mother was trimming my hair and visiting with a friend of hers.  They talked and talked and Mother cut and cut.  And then there was silence.  I looked in the mirror.  Eeek!  I had a poodle-cut before Gina Lollobrigida made it stylish.  A boy wrote in my yearbook, "To the girl with the bird's nest hair."  Sigh.

Arden came over just before Candy had to leave and then Cam arrived before Arden left.  It was an afternoon gab fest.

It was a good day.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Flying Colors

Bessie Anne came through her exam yesterday like a champ.  She was very brave and didn't hide under the chair in the waiting room as she used to.  There were times in the past when I had to slide her across the floor to the scale; she simply wouldn't get to her feet.  She wasn't thrilled about having her weight taken (I never am, either), but she complied and we were both happy that she'd lost a pound!  I appreciated that the vet tech who took Bess's temperature apologized first.  It's a rude procedure from someone who'd never been introduced.  Dr. Ric has been Bessie's doctor since she was a puppy and he's not above saying she's one of his favorites.  Being a yearly exam, several shots and a blood test were required, not fun in anyone's book, but Bess remained stoic.  Bessie is, to say the least, an unusual looking dog with excellent manners, friendly to all but not forward.  She makes a hit with anyone who meets her.  The usual question is, "What breed is she?"  My answer is, "Pick one, you'll be right."

I try never to go to town for just one reason and try to take care of as many errands as possible on a grand sweep.  I had one unavoidable in-and-out stop to make, otherwise I would never leave a dog in the car even on a cool day as yesterday turned out to be.  I don't know which of us was more glad to get home.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I think Nature may have slammed the door on spring yesterday.  It was cold, windy, and a grand finale of rain.  It's predicted to go to 100 down in the valley by the end of the week, but she sure gave it one last hurrah up here.  ("The Last Hurrah," 1958, Spencer Tracy, Jeffrey Hunter, James Gleason.)  The last week of gorgeous weather had me spoiled.  I knew it couldn't last, but it sure was nice while it was here.

In the musical "Oklahoma," the corn may be high as an elephant's eye, but in Fair Play the weeds in the pens are now as high as a goat's back.  When the girls lie down, it's like playing "Where's Waldo?"  They're completely hidden.  After slogging through that wet jungle last evening, my shoes and socks were soaked and my britches were drenched and I know it's going to be more of the same this morning.

Deb had told me how much fun her cat Clyde had with tissue paper, so I kept a piece from a birthday gift out for Ralph.  He plays with bottle caps, Christmas bows, and, of course, the bald hamster, so I could imagine him with the paper.  Wrong.  When he discovered it, it scared the snot out of him and he wouldn't go near it.  Celeste decided it was her color and took possession.

Bess has to go for her well-baby checkup and immunizations today.  I hope she doesn't get dinged for being "portly" again.  That doesn't do much for a girl's ego.  I've changed her feeding, but she doesn't get as much exercise as she did when younger.  It's too bad her examinations aren't scheduled for summer when I've clipped her fur and she's much lighter.

The hills across the way are hidden in fog this morning and the sky is heavily overcast.  Again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dark To Light

I grew up when telephones weighed ten pounds, had a rotary dial, the cloth-covered cord wasn't curly, utilitarian black was the only color offered, and a real live operator answered when "0" was dialed.  I don't remember the numbers, but all prefixes were the first two letters of an assigned word; ours was BUdlong.  Long-distance calls had to be placed through an operator and were a really big deal.  If a call came in while we were gone, we didn't know about it.  There was no such thing as call waiting, voice mail, or caller ID.  How did we ever survive?

It's no wonder that I am amazed at and enthralled by new technology.  We've come out of the communication dark ages.  Cellphones are not just telephones but miniaturized computers that put the whole world in your hand.  The Kids (Deb and Craig) gave me my first flip phone after Steve died and gave instructions that I was to carry it at all times, just in case.  They've kept me upgraded and now I've got a fancy-dancy Smart Phone or I-phone, whatever.  I'm still known to push the wrong icon and hang up on a caller, but I'm pretty good with it most of the time.

I was panic stricken yesterday when my cellphone screen was black, stayed black, and there was no response whatsoever to a reboot and the home button had no effect at all.  Aarrgh!  What do do?  A multitude of scenarios ran through my head, none of them good.  In addition to being my connection with the outside world, the phone would literally be my lifeline if there was an emergency down in the barn or out on the property.  It is my habit to put the phone on its charger before going to bed, and I knew I'd done that so the problem had to be significant.  I kept picking up the phone, hoping against hope for a glimmer of life, and then TaDa! a brief signal showed.  The charger evidently has an upside and a downside to make connection and I'd chosen the wrong one the night before.  It was the battery, and all it needed to revive was some time plugged in.  Let there be light!

Speaking of the light side, this is one of the cards I received.  It totally cracks me up.  The look on that cat's face is priceless.  If its eyes were green, it would be Celeste, and I'm pretty sure that would be her reaction were I to get to my feet and do the boogaloo.

After the hoopla of the day before, I took yesterday off and started and finished a book I'd been loaned and asked to read, something I've not done in a long time.

It was a good day.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Send In The Clowns

One would never think, looking at this somber group, that we spent the day laughing.  Pete, Dave, and Deb and Craig began arriving about noon, laden with food and goodies.  Pete started off the food fest with dates stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon and broiled, a delicious combination of salty, sweet, crisp and chewy in one bite.  Deb and Craig brought the fixings for slow-cooked pork sliders in barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, chips, and they know I'm a sucker for KFC cole slaw.  Pete had also made a pineapple-blueberry crisp.  He brought it to the table with one candle, and the candle played "Happy Birthday!"  The Kids showered me with gifts and I received so many funny, touching cards from friends and family.  Later in the day Larry called from Hawaii and it was so good to hear his voice.  In the morning I'd received calls from my Kid Clay, who had to work, and my grandson Jake who is stationed in Oklahoma and that was a lovely surprise.

I should have taken a photo after the first hand of poker, because I won that one big time.  The rest of the day, not s' much.  It was worth the price of admission to listen to the teasing and the laughter.  Whenever I think of my Kids, I always think of the laughter.

It was a most wonderful, memorable day.

And then my cellphone died.  I know what I'll be doing today.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Weeds And Wasps

Weeds and wasps are the bane of my life, and they show up about the same time of year.  I'll give them P for persistence because neither will give up, no matter how hard I try to eradicate them.  So far in the last couple of weeks I've sprayed five beginner wasp nests under the rail and under the eaves on the house and taken down three in the barn.  These are the paper wasps that build marvels of construction, intricate honeycomb structures of a tissue paper substance in which to lay eggs so there will be more wasps.  Google tells me that the nests are made of ground plant fibers and wasp spit.  Who knew that wasps had saliva?!  I used to be able to find a nonpoisonous spray to use in the barn, but no longer.  I won't spray poison down there, so have to take down those nests with a broom handle.  Fortunately, wasps are not active in the morning and that lessens the possibility of a retaliatory attack.  (That was a lesson learned the hard way.)

I'm surprised the mud daubers haven't shown up yet as there is plenty of raw material for them to work with after all the rain.  Their nests are exceptionally durable honeycomb structures of tiny mud balls mixed with spit (again with the spit!).  Google says that mud daubers are not aggressive, but I don't ask for ID or credentials before destroying these insects.

It was another bluebird day and I could stand being cooped in the house just so long.  My constant companion and I went outside to the herb garden.  My intent was to do a bit of weeding, but Bess just wanted to lie in the sun.  Unfortunately, she wanted to lie right where I was pulling weeds.  I worked around her so there is a dog-shaped island in the yard.  The chickens love it at this time of year because I throw them the results of my work.  I weeded until I couldn't stand up straight, and the yard looks as if I hadn't done anything.  Danged weeds.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Flip A Coin

Life is all about choices.  Yesterday was another golden day.  Hmmm...stay inside and do housework or go outside and do some mowing?  Difficult as the choice was (not!), I opted for sunshine and enough breeze to blow away the dust and chaff.  I gassed up John and off we went.  Another choice...side yard under the clothesline first or the west field?  I'd mowed the field not long ago but the weeds were tall again.  I hadn't approached the side yard yet, so side yard it was.  The Cecile Brunner rose in the side yard is a stunning bouquet of tiny, delicate pink blossoms now, an added bonus to the day. 

I don't think one ever forgets one's first love.  I still miss funny old Fu Manchu, but John and I are becoming more comfortable with each other.  He's big and manly, but somewhat top heavy and that makes mowing on a sideways slope or on the edge of a drop-off feel dangerous.  As we worked our way through two-foot high weeds, I'm sure John was wondering what chlorophyll hell he'd fallen into.  He probably came from a suburban backyard with a dichondra lawn.  Fu, on the other hand, has gone to a lawnmower's retirement heaven.

It was still fairly early when we finished the side yard.  Should we carry on, or should I go in?  No contest.  I can see that mowing is going to be a weekly chore for the duration.  Weeds had grown up as if I'd never mowed the field.  John cuts a wide swath, but when the stuff is thick and lush we can only take half-bites and it takes longer.  Patches of California poppies have sprung up near the garden (what used to be a garden), nearly hidden in the weeds.  Mow them down or go around?  We went around.  The machines are called riding lawnmowers, but in John's case, he is a driving mower.  I'm becoming more used to the gas peddle and he doesn't take off like a racehorse getting out of the gate as he did.  It's like learning to drive all over again.  (I can remember my dad clinging to the door and yelling, "Slow down when you're turning!")

Two yards are about all I can handle on John before my wrists give out and he is ready for a rest.  Like a horse, when I turn off the blades John knows it's time to head for the barn and he nearly flies.

Later, Arden came for a visit and brought fresh cherries!  We talked and spit seeds in our most ladylike fashion.

I have no choice today.  Dust waits for no man (or woman).

It was a good day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy

I felt like one of those parent birds in the oak yesterday, flitting from here to there and back again.  There is going to be a huge increase this year in the number of whatever kind of birds those are.  They fly too high and fast for me to get a good look at; all I know is they're smaller than a blackbird.  From day's first light to last, those babies are yelling at the top of their lungs and the parents can't keep up with the demands, but they try.

While taking a quick breather after barn chores I got a nice surprise, a text from Deb saying she and the boys are coming up this weekend.  Not having heard anything and so not expecting company, I've been sitting on my duff regarding house chores.  Actually, I don't need an excuse not to do housework, but it helps.  (The baby birds are waking up and beginning to sing the "Feed Me!" song.)

There was no time to fret about the house as I needed to get sluiced down and spruced up to meet Linda at Poor Red's for a celebratory lunch as her guest.  The weather as glorious and I dug down to the bottom of the pile and pulled out the first tank top of the year.  Red's never disappoints.  The French dip sandwich with a schmear of horseradish aioli is delish.  What with rain and one thing and another, it's been quite awhile since Linda and I have gotten together and it was good to spend time in her company.  We sat outside on the patio and dawdled over our meal.

When we parted, I needed to go to Wally World ("National Lampoon's Vacation," 1983, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo).  I'd mentioned to Linda that I could finish shopping in less than a half hour, and she doubted me.  I picked up everything on my list in 25 minutes (ha ha!), and then everything came to a screeching halt.  At the checkout counter, I'd finished my transaction when the system decided to reboot and the register ate my check.  I felt bad for the associate (when did "clerk" become a distasteful word?) as the line behind me began to get restless and started to grumble.  She'd put out an SOS for a manager who must have been on a coffee break.  She redirected traffic while we waited.  And waited.  It was the machine that took pity and finally released my check and I was set free.

The plan after shopping was to get home, unpack groceries, and get John Dear out to do some much-needed mowing.  So much for plans.  A cloud cover swept over and a cold wind began to blow and I wasn't about to get on the tractor under those conditions.

It was a busy but most pleasant day.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cat In The Lap

"I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille" ("Sunset Boulevard"1950, William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim).  Celeste is definitely a lap kitty and a great snuggler.  I'm not sure how this is going to work out when summer lands on us, but the feel of her soft fur under my hand is very comforting.  My friend Doris used to come by to pet my animals just to get a "fur fix" after her cat Ringo died.  Whenever Doris called, she would always say, "This is Doris up the road."  Until I really got to know her, I thought her name was Doris Uptheroad.

I haven't seen Snake for some time.  That's a bit worrisome to me, not because I'm worried about him, it's more that I don't know if he's found a new hiding spot.  I don't like surprises, and would much rather see him first.

Last year Camille grew an heirloom tomato called Orange Strawberry.  They were so good, juicy and very low acid.  She wanted some again this year, but was having difficulty finding them at her usual nurseries.  She called yesterday, very excited to tell me she'd located a few plants down at Amador Flower Farm and did I one any.  At the risk of putting tomatoes on that dratted squirrel's diet, I'm going to try growing one on the deck.  These tomatoes are so delicious that I made bacon and tomato sandwiches without the bacon last year.

Time is so relative.  An hour can seem as long as a day and a month zip by in a week.  It hardly seems possible that I had surgery a year ago.  We're back at the full moon again.  It sneaks up on me and I'm greatly surprised when I look up and see the Man In The Moon looking back.

I'm meeting Linda for lunch today!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Anyone driving past Cam's place might wonder which planet this animal with strange antennae came from, and rightfully so.  Ginger is a new acquisition for my friend.  She is a significantly undersized Alpine goat who, unfortunately, had not been dehorned (polled).  It's also unfortunate that her prior owner did not teach this little girl good manners.

Ever see a goat wink?  Probably no more often than seeing a goat with such a fancy headdress.  Ginger was allowed to develop the bad habit of butting and hooking with her horns, and tennis balls held on by duct tape are Camille's protective solution.  Being the artistic sort, Cam gussied them up with a covering of colorful tape.  The horns have very sharp points that could really do some damage.

Ginger was meant to be a companion, a buddy, for Shadow, the mini-donkey, but she's being acclimated to her new surroundings and supplemented diet before Cam will put the pair together.

Strange sights are not uncommon in these hills, but admittedly Ginger is one of the strangest.