Sunday, December 31, 2017

Flip The Lid

Like any female, I appreciate it when males in the house both lift and then put the toilet seat down.  Something I learned from 9/11, however, was to leave the lid up if there are indoor pets.  First responders were searching through apartment buildings and they kept saying that they hoped people had left the lid up so animals had a source of water if the owners didn't return.  For someone like myself who lives alone, accidents can happen and I make sure the lids are always up, just in case.  It means I cannot use any of the "blue" cleaning products that stay in the bowl, as handy as they are.  (And that's my lecture for the day.)

On the last day of the year, I've been pondering what resolutions I might make for 2018.  I think I'll stick with Project Do-It-Now.  It's been working pretty well, although I haven't gotten around to watering the house plants in the round room and they're looking pretty droopy.  Even with neglect, Zygocactus are so forgiving.  Steve gave me one when we were dating (1987) and it is still alive.  I also have a Chinese evergreen office plant that I rescued when I took a new job in 1994.  The poor thing was down to one limp leaf when I started giving it food and water.  I took the plant with me when we moved up here, and it's lived in the bathroom for 20 years.  I recommend both plants to procrastinators like myself.

Back to DIN.  It saved me from running around like a headless chicken when the Kids came up for Christmas; a quick swipe with a dust rag and we were good to go.  One thing I've not yet been able to face is the feed shed and the destruction wrought by the rats.  I'll put that on the list, but down at the bottom.  I'm in no hurry to tackle that scene.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Party down, and leave the lid up.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

I Would Ask A Boon

I was talking with a friend the other day who is also, as Stephen King says, "a Constant Reader," and we agreed that it would be such fun if readers from other countries (of whom there are many) would pop in with a comment now and then or sign on as a Follower.  Numbers speak, but words speak louder.  "Why don't you ask them?," she said, and so I am.  There is no charge and I do not subscribe to any ad source.  I do not plague with follow-up.  I do realize that blogspot is not particularly user friendly when it comes to leaving a comment, but I check daily, hoping to find word from the outside world.  I would love to know how readers found Farview Farm in the first place and (yes, I am ego-driven) what brings them back.  Blogspot does provide me statistics, so I know (and rejoice) that there are nearly as many readers in France and Russia as there are in the United States on a weekly basis.  There are periodic drop-ins from Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Canada, Spain, Azerbaijan; 98 countries in total so far.  What do we share in common, or is it our very differences that bring you to the farm?  Regardless, I am proud to know that anyone at all reads my ramblings; it is very gratifying.

My niece in New Hampshire called last evening, saying that it was 15 degrees outside, up from -5.  Holy frozen cow!  Out of kindness, I did not tell her it was 59 here.  Wrapped in the new afghan Deb made, I didn't even need to light a fire.  Of course, a couple of lap cats and a dog on my feet helped.

In the morning, I had caught sight of Cheeky skulking around the goat barn.  Since I'm not finding any sign of mouse or rat activity inside, I doubt she's finding much in the way of a meal anymore.  The goats have learned to tolerate the cat.  They still put on a show of snorting when they see her, but it's all bluff now.

As it happens every year, it's not hard to tell who got new guns for Christmas.  Shots ring out and echo through the hills.  I rather imagine New Year's Eve will see a bang-up midnight celebration, country style.  I will take down the gaily decorated (all two chickens) tree on New Year's Day while watching the Rose Parade.  It's a tradition (unless we've moved the holidays around and the tree doesn't come down until February).

For the curious, Waldo is in the shower stall this morning.

Be safe out there!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Country Roads

("Take Me Home, Country Roads," John Denver, 1973)
Work was finished on Bucks Bar Road just before Christmas.  I hadn't had the opportunity; let me rephrase that, I hadn't had a reason until yesterday to go to town.  What a difference.  The entire road needs to be resurfaced, but I'll settle for having the countless potholes filled so it's not necessary to serve like a drunken driver to avoid bone-jarring ka-thunks that could throw a vehicle out of alignment.

Celeste's pink piglet has been named Waldo, as in "Where's Waldo?"  I never know where Waldo will turn up.  He's been found several times in a wastebasket in the bedroom, as he was again last night.  I dusted him off and tossed him to the floor, where Ralph, the rotten little brother, immediately grabbed him up and began a game of keep-away with a distraught Celeste.  They were still at it when I turned out the light and went to bed.  The house is strewn with toys, but Waldo is Celeste's favorite.

The first Steller's jay of the season showed up yesterday.  They're such flashy birds, much brighter than their cousins, the California scrub jays.  Scrub jays are here nearly year round, but the Steller's only come in winter.  The current bird population consists mostly of the dinky birds, little bitty guys of a number of types.  They hang out in the bare lilac branches just outside the kitchen window.  I did hear the Rod-RI-go birds (quail) the other day, but haven't seen any.  Red-headed woodpeckers are in abundance, jack-hammering away on posts and dead branches.  They are still stuffing acorns through holes in the front shed and the floor is littered; better there than in what used to be the ceiling.  That was a disaster.

We're rapidly running out of 2017.  How did we get here so fast?  It seems no time ago that we were throwing a big party to celebrate the Millenium, and everyone was so sure that computers would go whacko trying to compensate for 2000.  That crisis never happened and the world kept turning.

I've been writing an almost-daily blog for nearly eight years now.  Thanks to all who have followed the twists and turns along the hills and valleys of the country roads in my mind.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Celebrate!

Arden's birthday was last week and Camille's is in another couple of days, so I split the difference and had them both over for dinner last night to celebrate.  It's always good to spend time with these friends.

After several weeks of being incommunicado, not able to send or reply to email on the computer, and being passed from one tech to another in a series of phone calls, the problem was finally resolved yesterday.  Isn't it funny how dependent we become on our gizmos and gadgets?  I thought I was perfectly happy without a cellphone; now I can't imagine life without one.

We in California are starting to worry that we're headed into another year of drought, it's been so long since it's rained.  The wildfires in SoCal are still burning and they sure could use a little help from the sky.  Up here, the days have been truly lovely, crisp and bright, and it seems somewhat incongruous to wish for wet weather.  The goats wouldn't like it, but a rainy day would be cause for celebration.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Connections

Cheeky must live somewhere, but she sure hangs out here a lot.  Walking out to feed yesterday, I thought I saw her in the front yard, but as what I thought was a cat didn't move, I decided it must be a shadow and went on to feed the birds.  True to her name, even though I had Bess with me, the bold little thing didn't amble off to go under the feed shed until we were getting close.  I think Cheeky had staked out a squirrel burrow.  Whoever she lives with is saving a bundle on food because she's earning her keep here.  I'm not complaining.

It turned out to be Make-A-Connection Day.  The first call was from Steve's aunt and we had a good long chat.  Next came a call from Larry, my Kid in Hawaii.  We usually send brief texts or IM on Facebook, but don't often actually talk, so that was a most pleasant surprise.  In the afternoon, a friend from high school called.  It's been sixty-one years since we were in boarding school together.  Having gotten together only a couple of times since then, you'd think we'd lack anything in common and run out of subject matter, but nearly two hours flew by and we were still talking.  She is exactly as I remember her, and we laugh together now as we did when we were girls.

With all the chatter, not much else got done yesterday.  I wouldn't change a minute.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Visuals

Going out to get more to try to satisfy Stove's voracious appetite, I had a good visual of just how much wood that takes.  The Kids had stacked the rack to the top bar only two days before.  Stove is going to have to go back on a diet!

As will I.  The Kids had also given me a large variety of small bags of what Dave calls Scooby snacks:  chips, nuts, sweets, and other goodies I don't usually buy for myself.  Yesterday being Christmas Day, I indulged in watching old holiday favorites:  Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, etc., and then the Steelers game (they won!) before switching to John Wayne classics, and I munched and crunched all day long (burp).  Even so, I didn't put nearly as big a dent in the snacks as Stove did in the wood rack.

In the morning, I had Inga up on the stand.  She being the first girl out, I hadn't closed the door to the milking room.  Suddenly Cheeky, the small black cat, appeared in the doorway, evidently thinking she had been given easy access to the barn.  The look on her face (eeek!) when she saw me sitting there was priceless.

It was a good day.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Different Drummer

Having "our" Christmas celebration on Saturday put me out of sync with the rest of the world.  Yesterday was a grey, dreary day and I thought I was doing well to keep Stove cranked up and to pick up the detritus from the holiday.  Leftover chile verde warmed me from the inside and I kicked back wrapped in my new afghan for a nap, good on any day and mandatory after a day of company.  Waking, I lazily thought that I really needed to replenish supplies from the grocery store and go to the feed store for feed and gas, but that could wait for one more day.  Oh crum!  It dawned on me that yesterday was Christmas Eve and today would be Christmas Day, and if I didn't tend to business right then the goats and turkeys would go without.  I made a mad dash for the door and made both stops before they closed early for the day.  I don't think the drummer we march to is even in the same band; we're definitely out of step.

I wanted to show the most recent additions to the pig collection, including salt-and-pepper shakers and a very detailed leather pouch purse, a little flashlight that oinks, a piggy bank, and an oh-so-soft stuffed toy.  Just as I pushed the button, Ralph photo bombed the picture.  Ralph listens to his own music, for sure.  I would have included the pink piglet, but couldn't find where Celeste had hidden it this time.

Watching television on the big screen in either room is so pleasantly different now.  I may march slowly, but one way or another and mainly thanks to my Kids, I'm catching up to the 21st century.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Nobody Minds

You know you've reached a certain milestone in life when you start getting hand-me-downs from your Kids.  Pete had forewarned me that he had upgraded his TV and he'd like to give me his "old" one.  He made it clear that this was not a Christmas present, but he didn't need two.  I don't know what he's upgraded to, something the size of IMax, I imagine.  All festivities were put on hold while this huge television was installed.  There was a slight hitch getting the remote to talk nicely to the new equipment.  There were lots of suggestions from the sidelines, but it took Deb to pull out the instructions to fix the problem.  (I actually have a magnet on my fridge that says, "When in doubt, read the directions.")  At any rate, when the switch had been made, everyone in the room could watch the Vikings wipe out the Packers (see above) on the big screen.  Football trumps poker when the Vikes or the Steelers are playing.

I had brought another couple of wagons of wood to the house and had Stove cranked up.  Craig, Deb, and Dave's lady, Lorraine, went out without asking and stocked the porch rack to the top.  That will keep Stove happy until well after the New Year.

Another milestone gets hit when your Kids don't mind you anymore.  The five-dollar limit seems to have gone out the window because everyone went overboard on gifts.  Bags and boxes piled up and there was a veritable snowstorm of tissue paper.  They are as generous to each other as they are to me.  There were edibles and toys, and practical and impractical presents.  Need I say there were a number of additions to my collection of pigabilia?  Honorable mention goes to Dave for another knit piglet that I got to enjoy for just a little while.  Celeste had been in self-imposed exile while the house was crowded.  After everyone had gone, she came out of hiding.  I don't know where she found it, but she has claimed the pink piglet as her own.  You'd have thought it was filled with catnip as she tossed, rolled, and purred to this baby, and posed for this portrait.

Deb had crocheted her fingers to the bone.  She made large, beautiful afghans of the softest, most luxurious yarn for everyone.  No one could appreciate the work that went into these treasures more than I.

Then came a round of TV switch-outs.  The old living room set went into my bedroom and the bedroom set went into the guest room.  Clay was kind enough to take the ancient behemoth from the guest room to recycle.  It's hard to believe that I can now read the guide in the bedroom after I get in bed.

It was a great day spent with my most favorite people in the world.  I can't even mind that they don't mind me anymore.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Carpe Diem

This morning sky with the curdled clouds looks just about as cold as it was yesterday.  The other night Camille threatened to rat me out to the Kids if I didn't stoke up the fire and get the house warm for a change.  I'll admit I'm pretty frugal with the firewood, using just enough to take the chill off, and put on another layer and grab a lap cat or two.  I don't know what she expected, that the Kids would speak to me harshly?  I don't know, either, but the threat was enough to motivate me to stuff Stove's mouth all day and by evening I didn't even need a jacket.

It was D-Day minus one and Stove wasn't the only one stoked up.  I got so much done, I even surprised myself.  Not everything, of course; the shock would have been too great.  The last chore before bedtime was to prepare a huge pot of chile verde to simmer in the oven overnight.  (The house smells wonderful this morning.)  It might not be a traditional Christmas meal, but it works for us.  There's no set time for arrival so the Kids can have a leisurely morning for themselves and not have to rush up the hill, and everyone can eat when they're hungry.  There's no set time for dinner.

Since I'm not milking anymore, barn chores are over in no time in the morning.  I'll be the first to say that milking is work, but I miss that sense of closeness with the girls.  They still get up on the stand for their breakfast and I brush them down while they're chomping up the grain, but it's not the same.  It's much like putting down a bowl of food for the dog or cats, over and done.

At any rate, there will be time this morning to finish the leftovers on the to-do list, and with any luck I'll be ready for Christmas, just under the wire.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Friday, December 22, 2017

The Smallest Things

Two baskets of a variety of toys and toys strewn throughout the house, and what is Celeste's favorite?  This small piece of blue fluff.  I can't bring myself to throw it away, as she finds it, throws it in the air, bats it across the room, and rolls on it.  She might ignore Fluff for days, but then, aha!, and the game is on.  It doesn't hold the same attraction for Ralph.

If my body moved as fast as my mind, I'd be a whirling dervish, a dynamo on wheels, and a force to be reckoned with.  With the morning starting out at 26 degrees yesterday, I blamed my lack of activity on the cold; after all, even sap in the trees flows slower in winter.  We all trooped to the kitchen this morning and I went through my routine, my mind whizzing with all that needs to be done today, and I do mean today.  The beeper on the coffee machine signaled it was done and I poured a big mug of...hot water.  I'd forgotten one small thing, the coffee.  I hope this isn't a portent of how the day is going to go.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pride Goeth

There I was, feeling all triumphant and self-satisfied that I, personally, had driven the rats from the barn.  That balloon got deflated fast when I went into the barn yesterday morning and saw the hind end of a black cat duck through a hole in the wall in Cindy's old stall.  This is the same "black panther" that had previously terrified the goats out in the pen.  I don't know how Cheeky coerced the girls into accepting her (arbitrary gender assignment) or if they're suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but the cat seems to have found a way to calm them down.  Later, I saw Cheeky trotting through the pen past the girls and they just ignored her.  Go figure.  (I do miss the mice.)  I wish there were a way to give the cat access to the feed room where the destructive horde hangs out.  She'd get so fat she'd waddle.

The rain was over by sunup and it turned into a gorgeous blue and gold day, but cold.  Stove gobbled up nearly a full wagon load of firewood.  I'm still glad we switched to a wood stove.  Camille has a pellet stove and when the power went out the other night, she was left without heat.

Prep for Christmas moves on apace, my pace rivaling the speed of a snail.  Three days until the Kids come up, and tomorrow will be spent in the kitchen.  I'd better kick it into high gear today, or else my pride will get another knock-down.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fair Trade

You know "you're not in Kansas anymore" (i.e., I don't live in the city anymore) when your neighbor stops by and you trade her two frozen dead rats for a 2018 calendar from the feed store.  We were both pleased with the switch.  I haven't said anything for fear of jinxing the situation, but after those last two caught, I haven't trapped or seen evidence of any of those rodents.  Evidently rats can desert a barn as fast as they do a sinking ship.  The bobcats will have to do without my contribution to their potluck.

Just before Camille left, the lights dimmed and we were in a brownout.  I ran around turning off all electrical appliances but the one light to reduce the draw on the system.  I lit the oil lamps while I could still see, and then, of course, there was a total blackout.  Crum.  Once again I was so glad we'd switched out the electric stove top for propane so I was able to heat up a package of stew from the freezer that I'd already thawed for dinner.  The power was out for about three hours, long enough for the lamps to fizzle out.  (Note to self:  put new wicks in the oil lamps.)  I'd brought more wood to the porch and Stove was cooperating, and I had my hardhat and a good book. This sure wasn't my first rodeo.

While sitting there in near dark, it began to rain.  It's still raining this morning, so we're saved from going down on record as the second driest December in history.  I hope it's raining in SoCal as well to help put down or at least slow down the raging wildfires.

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Oh, The Shame

Is my face red?  You bet!  I finally finished all the goodies to send to Jake (he already knows the package won't get to Saudi before Christmas; I'm shooting for New Year's to extend his holidays).  Being a Class A hoarder, I have a large collection of saved boxes out on the deck and went out to choose one.  Aha!  A sturdy box of just the right size, still filled with packing material (to save, of course) from last year.  As I was removing the paper stuffing, I felt a lump.  What could that be?  Oh, crum.  It was a brightly colored, feathered and glittered, delicate glass hen Christmas ornament.  How could I have missed this treasure?  Duh.  Worried, I felt through the rest of the packing and, don't you know, there was a matching rooster.  From the return address, I could tell it was from Deb and Craig.  It was hard to face, but I called last night to leave a message and admit my faux pas.  The chickens immediately went to roost in the otherwise barren tree.

I'd been wracking my brain trying to think of something, anything, in the five-dollar range (our agreed limit) for the Kids and was coming up empty.  I awoke in the middle of the night with what I hope is the perfect solution, and went trotting off to the store yesterday.  They actually had what I wanted.  Now all I have to do is wrap the stuff.  I didn't feel quite so shamed when texts from Dave and Clay admitted they were also running behind the curve.  Procrastinators love company.

Four days and counting.

Monday, December 18, 2017

You're Kidding

In "The Great Santini," (1979; Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, Michael O'Keefe), Bull Meechum frequently says to his family, "Let's go, sports fans!"  I don't qualify as a true sports fan since I only follow football and NASCAR, but I was mightily disappointed yesterday while happily watching the Minnesota Vikings beat the socks off the Cincinnati Bengals.  In the third quarter, Vikings were ahead 24-0, yay!!  Without changing channels, suddenly I was watching the Saints vs. Jets.  What???  I flipped back to find out why and what I'd missed.  "We're switching to a more competitive game now."  Seriously?!  Are you kidding me?  There we Vikings fans were, left without the chance to do a happy dance, hoot and holler, and gloat.  I found out later that the final score was 34-7 and the Vikings clinched the NFL North; somewhat anticlimactic.  Sigh.  (And no, I did not watch the Saints game.  I haven't watched the Jets since Joe Namath was a player.)

I've got to get a fire going earlier in the day.  It's down in the 30s in the morning now and if the house gets cold overnight, it takes forever to get it warm.  Stove gobbled down nearly a wagon load of wood yesterday and I still needed a jacket on in the house.  Oh well, as long as he's happy.

Ralph takes somewhat less than subtle revenge.  Tired of wrestling with the cats in bed last night, I booted one (it was too dark to tell which one) out.  It was Ralph, who jumped back up and came to lie down on my pillow next to me.  Three guesses as to which end was in my face.

What a day.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pathetic

Charlie Brown's pathetic Christmas tree can't hold a candle to mine.  After an hour of inserting each furschluggen branch into slots in the trunk and carefully and artistically spreading them out last evening, I needed to move Tree over to the corner out of the way.  The trunk is in three pieces that kept separating and I finally had to hug Tree to keep it together during the shift.  Some of the deformity is exaggerated by the fake ficus tree in the corner doing one of those "fingers behind the head" things boys are so fond of doing in a group photo.  I meant to take a triumphant photo of an accomplishment.  Yeah, well.  I'll straighten out that squished section in the middle today.  Whether Tree gets decorated....  (Please note that the pig to the right is wearing his Santa suit.  Ho ho ho!)

The wind up here never reached the velocity that it did down in the valley.  Deb called early in the morning and the wind had already knocked over and broken big potted plants and played havoc with the decorations Craig had hung outside.  It was pretty cold, though, and more wood was brought to the porch.

Ralph, Celeste and I are going to have to have a meeting.  My plan to lie closer to the middle of the bed has backfired.  I certainly don't mind when they snuggle together and press up against my legs or feet when they're on the same side.  I'm one of those people who might have the comforter pulled up around my neck, but sleep hot and need to stick a foot out to regulate my temp even on a cold night.  It's when the cats turn into 50-pound boulders on either side and trap my legs that I wake up frantic to move.  I'm a little worried that they outnumber and might outvote me.

We're on the countdown to Christmas liftoff now.  I thought I was getting a grip on holiday preparations; my grip seemed to slip when I hugged Tree.  Pathetic.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Big Chill

"The Big Chill" was a 1983 movie with an ensemble cast that has nothing other than its title to do with today's topic.  As the daughter of a WWI veteran, I learned a number of the poignant war songs of that era and yesterday the opening line of one kept running through my head:  "Keep the home fires burning."  However, with all the wildfires still raging in California, that hardly seemed appropriate for a blog title.  The temperature dropped yesterday and Stove and I worked on our relationship and more wood was brought to the porch to feed his appetite.

My milk customer and some helpers came up in the afternoon.  Milk and eggs are no longer available, but he's determined not to go away empty handed.  He came for a trailer load of chicken and goat manure for his bamboo forest.  (I know!  Bamboo in Fair Play sounds incongruous, but he's a man of vision.)  Bamboo evidently requires a lot of manure.  MC has come several times a year in the past to pick up what here is termed "garden gold."  Hey, it saves me a lot of work and I'm happy to contribute.

Bess and I remind me of two elderly spinster aunties from my childhood, Annie and Libby.  They weren't really aunts, but friends of my great-aunt Kate and they were frequent visitors.  Annie was tall and spare and somewhat disapproving while Libby was short and plump and funny.  I'm not sure the sisters had ever lived separately and they were set in their ways, just like Bess and me.  Once a routine is developed, we read each other's mind and act accordingly.  Each morning while the coffee machine does its thing, I get a milk bone for Bess that she takes into the dining room to eat.  She then stands by the treat drawer and waits for a "bacon" bit that is followed by a small, crunchy marrow thing that Deb and Craig got her hooked on.  These goodies must come in exactly this order or I get "the look."

Strong winds and low temps are predicted for today.  While it's easy to get spoiled with the lovely days we've had this week, it is winter and cold weather is to be expected.  Rainfall so far has been about one percent of normal for December, and we're all hoping we're not headed into another year of drought.  In the meantime, I'll keep Stove happy and well fed.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Li'l Angels

Any mother of toddlers will say, "They're so sweet when they're asleep."  After breakfast, a bit of rough-and-tumble, and Celeste hauling her babies up and down the hall, this is how I find Celeste and Ralph every day.  They snuggle together for a nap, and groom each other's face and ears when they wake up.  It wasn't long after this yesterday and they were up again and Ralph was ambushing Celeste.  His favorite hiding spot is the stairwell and either she's very good at pretending or she really doesn't think he's going to jump out at her.  There is a wrestling match and then a chase sequence that usually ends with Celeste boxing Ralph's ears and a quick take-down.  Then they go back to bed or to neutral corners for another nap.  Mama's li'l angels.

I had a most pleasant visit with my friend Linda at The Pub in the afternoon for, as she put it, a holiday libation and a shared appetizer.  We don't talk as often anymore and it was nice to catch up on news.  She surprised me with a Christmas coffee mug ("Be naughty, save Santa a trip.") filled with Heath bars, which I love.  Before leaving, we stood outside for awhile to enjoy a lovely, warm day.

Not long after getting home, suddenly there were Camille's three escape artists at the door.  One of Cam's neighbors had an oak that fell and crushed her fence.  Buddy was taking full advantage of the opportunity to investigate the neighborhood and Sammi and Honey were along to keep him company on an adventure.  What do do?  Honey knows the house rules, but the other two do not and they like to chase cats.  I grabbed a handful of cookies (milk bones) and enticed the trio into the now-empty chicken pen and called Camille.  Busy in the house, she hadn't noticed her li'l angels had left the property.  She drove up immediately to retrieve them.  I couldn't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure Bess Anne went along the pen fence, saying, "Nanner, nanner, nanner.  You're in jail and I'm not."  After their run to freedom, I'll bet those dogs were ready for a nap when Cam got them home.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Happy Lap

My lap is usually full with a cat or two, but Bessie Anne evidently felt needy and/or left out and asked, no, demanded, to climb up for a snuggle.  "Tell me again, Mom.  Tell me how you found me when I was a puppy and you picked me out of all those other dogs.  Tell me how you looked in my eyes and knew my name was Bessie Anne, and how I was going to live with you and be your special girl forever.  Tell me that story again."  And so, of course, I did.

My visit with the surgeon went well and I'm cleared by him for another six months and yearly after that.  The drive to P'ville through Cedar Ravine is really lovely, with gentle curves through deep forest.  Lovely, that is, unless there is some yahoo trying to climb up your tailpipe, because there are few-to-no places to pull over to let them pass.

I lucked out yesterday both going and coming, and got home in plenty of time to get ready for my circuit-riding hairdresser.  It is such a luxury to get my hair trimmed at home and have a chat with a friend at the same time.

I touched base with Pete.  He is very pleased with the results of his surgery.  Recuperation will take some time.  Even though he works from home, he's taking a couple of weeks off to rest.

Every night, Bess gets a back rub and massage before moving over to her pillow to sleep.  I've finally learned to lie in the middle of the bed so as not to get pushed to (or over) the edge by the cats.  On these cold nights, Ralph comes to cuddle in the cat cave a couple of times.  He never stays long, just enough to warm up, and then he's out again.  It seems I have a full lap even lying down.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Detour

Pete is on a straight path to recovery, according to his brother Dave.  Having both eyes operated on had to be traumatic, but he's a trooper and was home shortly after noon.  Dave was able to spread the good news to family and friends via group texts; ain't technology grand?!

It wasn't until I'd left the house on my way to an appointment with my oncologist that I remembered that Bucks Bar Road is closed for much needed repairs.  Taking the detour adds some time when going to town and I'm not as familiar with that route.  Aarrgh!  The doctor had the results of those multiple blood tests and had found a hiccup in one that will require some significant further tests next year.  Life is full of detours.

Appointments were running behind and I had to rush home (via the detour) to get back and tuck the goats in before dark at 4:30.  That done, Bess jumped in the truck and we took the trash down to the big road.  It's one of her favorite "road trips" because she gets a treat when we get home.

I have what I hope is my final appointment with the surgeon today and will leave in plenty of time.

Pete's news made it a good day, indeed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

As They Go

As days go, yesterday was rather uninspired; not a bad day, but kind of blah.  After piddling around in the kitchen and getting some more goodies made and packed up, I made a token effort at housework, certainly not enough to break a sweat.  Bess and I went out several times to check on the girls.  They were fine, oblivious to any danger.  It was nice outdoors, much warmer than in the house.  The crazy laws of physics mean that, at this time of year, cold air settles in the valley and warm air rises to the foothills.  Pete is having trouble adjusting to "winter" in northern California after so many years of living either along the SoCal coast or inland in Chino.  I'm at the point where 50 degrees is considered shirtsleeve weather.  He's not there yet.

The other afternoon I watched a PBS special featuring the late Victor Borge.  I'm not much of a one for today's comedy, but I'd forgotten how very funny that man was; good clean humor that had me laughing out loud.

Hold the good thought for Pete, who is undergoing surgery today.  His brother Dave is providing transport, so Pete is in good hands.

Rather than blather on about a do-nothing day, I'll just say that, as days go, it went.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Good Start

A beautiful sunrise was a good start to what turned out to be a productive day, and it's about time, too.  The family will celebrate Christmas on December 23, a Saturday.  Yes, we're out of sync with the rest of the world, but they all work and weekends are better for our get-togethers.  For us, it's not the date, but the who you're with that makes a holiday.  Behind as usual, I needed to get busy in the kitchen.  That's where I spent most of the day and actually got three things knocked off my list.  Dietary restrictions of one sort or another have put a real crimp in my Christmas gifting.  I don't want to be the cause of any health problems, for sure, but some traditions are hard to break.

My milk customer has been gone for a number of  weeks, but called on Saturday and I had to tell him the news:  Sheila has retired and I will no longer have milk for him.  He had dealt with "no eggs" pretty well, but "no milk" was a blow.  I gave him the number of a gal who raises goats and might be a supplier.  She called me later and said her does were in that dry period before kidding, but she passed him down the line to a friend of hers.  It's been many, many years since I've had to buy milk at the store, so I know how he feels.

I'd been on 911 duty for Cam, who had been painting again.  She stopped by on her way home at the end of the day to pick up a care package of sausage and peppers.  What had begun with a good start to the day came to a sad finish.  Cam called when she got home and said that something had killed her little goat, the one with psychedelic tennis balls on her horns.  There were wounds, but it hadn't been eaten.  We all live with possibility of predators up here, but it is devastating, all the same.  There have been sightings of mountain lions in the area lately, and it might have been a lioness teaching her young ones to hunt and kill.  My heart hurts for Camille, who is so very conscientious about her animals.  This goes way beyond "sigh."  I'll be checking on my girls more frequently.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can't Do Little

 After all those years of cooking for four Kids with healthy appetites and their dad, I can't do little.  Fourteen pork chops or three dozen tacos; you get the idea.  Most of my pots and pans are outsized.  Learning to cook for one was difficult, and some recipes simply require a large quantity.  For instance, I can't imagine making spaghetti sauce for just one meal.  While in the produce section the other day looking for parsnips, I saw that the yellow and orange bell peppers looked really fresh and Italian sausage and peppers came to mind.  My daughter had lived in New York for a time with an Italian family and that was a Sunday dinner favorite.  Deb brought the recipe with her when she moved back to California.  Mrs. Bonti wouldn't recognize the version I now make.

Cooking time is short; it's the prep work that takes time.  While I was cutting peppers, onions, and garlic, two packages of mild and spicy sausages were browning.  (Can''t do little.)  Thankfully, Pete came up to share a late lunch, but there are plenty of leftovers for the freezer.

I'm really getting spoiled.  Pete brought a bowl of cut melons, some specialty apples (the name of which I can't remember), and a couple of avocados.  Poor Pete.  He probably thought he could avoid watching sports by coming on Saturday, but the Army-Navy football game was on.  What can I say?  Navy lost by one stinking point.  Drat.

There were no surprises in the feed bucket yesterday (insert smiley face here).



Saturday, December 9, 2017

A First

Ever since Smokey, a small black kitten, wandered into our yard when the Kids were just kids, I've seldom been without a cat or two.  A cat's catch phrase is always, "I meant to do that," trying to preserve their dignity when they've done something silly, and they're always doing something silly.  For instance Annie, who jumped up on the sideboard and knocked over an inkwell filled with green ink for a calligraphy project.  Annie was a tortoise (tricolor) cat, and green was not her color.  Smokey was a klutz who couldn't walk along a split-rail fence without falling off.  Victor.  Victor is a story all by himself.  And there were others over the years, but Ralph is in a category ("cat-egory," get it?) all by himself.  I walked into the bathroom last night and found the room festooned with toilet paper.  Not once had any previous cat done such a thing.  I'm used to Ralph finding new ways to amuse himself, but that was a first.  Hopefully, it was a one-off and also the last.

I did get to the grocery store and they did have parsnips.  Yay!

Friday, December 8, 2017

In The Loop

"Keep me in the loop," usually means, "Be sure I get the news, too."  Well, I realize I'm definitely in the endless loop that is Project DIN.  Some of the initial chores have moved themselves back on the list and need doing again and my enthusiasm is waning.  Can't say I was moving at breakneck speed yesterday, but did do enough to justify a fire in the afternoon.  That's progress.

Cold weather has me thinking about cooking again.  Summer dinners might consist of a bowl of cereal because the kitchen is too hot to be in there for any length of time.  I came to parsnips late in life, but once tried on a whim, they became a favorite, and they came to mind the other day.  My preferred method is to roast them with carrots and perhaps a few Brussels sprouts.  I need to go up to the grocery store today anyhow, and with any luck there will be parsnips.

While feeding the girls in the morning, a little mouse crept out, the first I've seen in a long time.  I put a dribble of grain down for it, hoping mousie would get it before the larger barn hooligans.  While I don't want the bigger bad boys in there, there is a huge sense of relief when the lid is removed and nothing is in the bucket but feed.  It goes against my nature to kill.

Well after dark the other night, suddenly there were cats on the deck just outside the living room, yowling and banging into things as they fought.  (I think they were fighting; cats in courtship are very vocal, too.)  Why they had to pick my house, I've no idea.  Ralph and Celeste, both neutered, ran to look out the windows, but Bessie Anne is so deaf now she didn't even lift her head.  In the morning, I found potted plants and a chair knocked over.  I hope the cats either settled their differences or she finally said yes.  Talk about noisy neighbors.

I'll get back on the housework treadmill today, moving forward and getting nowhere.  Sigh.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Backfire

There is a drawback to Project Do It Now.  After a couple of days of heavy lifting, dealing with the power outage while baking, and putting two more offerings to the bobcat gods in the freezer (yech), I took yesterday off.  I used to do one day on-one day off with impunity; a thing either got done or it didn't.  Sitting on my duff yesterday, however, filled me with guilt.  Not enough to make me get up and do something, but enough to make me feel bad.  I'm guessing I'll do double-time today.  Or not.

My self-imposed punishment was to not light Stove.  After all, it was in the low 50s outside (I couldn't make myself check the inside temp); how bad could it be?  (Pretty doggone cold, I can tell you that.)  Larry gave me a laugh; I'd texted him, noting it was down to the high 70s in Honolulu from the usual mid 80s and was he dealing with winter in the islands.  He responded that it was brutal; he'd nearly had to put on a shirt!

Bessie decided to bypass the middle man.  I thought I'd heard something the other day, but thought, "No, she wouldn't do that."  I heard the same sounds yesterday and got up to find she'd helped herself to a cookie (milk bone) from the box and taken it into the dining room where she's decided ladies like herself eat snacks.  We've worked hard to get her weight down and she was rebelling.  I moved the box and will just have to deal with her resentment, but do have to give her credit for ingenuity.  (She'd rather have a treat.)

I hope everyone has had a chance to see the Super Moon this week.  That enormous glowing globe rising behind the pine trees on the hill has been spectacular.  Nature outdid herself with the special effects.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hide And Seek

It was trash day and I was checking waste baskets for the week's contribution to take to the big road.  There, in the bottom of an otherwise empty basket, was one of the piglets, thrown away, as a friend used to say, like an old dirty shirt.  Now, I don't want to blame unfairly because I wasn't a witness.  I'd like to imagine Ralph had flung one of Celeste's favorite babies into the air and it just landed there.  Giving him the benefit of doubt, it could have been an accident in a game of hide-and-seek.  Or not.  It was one of the tall baskets and no way could the cats have retrieved the piglet.  Celeste was in the room when I made the discovery, and she pounced on the baby when I tossed it out and ran to cover it up with the bath mat again.  I'm sure there are times Celeste wishes she was an only child.

It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I take the lid off the feed bucket in the milking room.  (Since I'm no longer milking, I guess I'll have to start calling it the feed room.)  On the one hand, I've been kind of glad when the trap has done its job; on the other, not finding a rat is a good thing, too.  I'd had to leave a bag of goat chow in the feed shed for a while and knew what I'd find when I had to take it to the barn yesterday.  It looked like a bomb had gone off in the room, with shredded paper and styrofoam all over the floor and nearly everything knocked off the shelves.  Teenage vandals could not have been more destructive (apologies to teenagers).  I truly try to cohabit with all kinds of wildlife, but this is intolerable.  It's going to take a bulldozer to clean that room.  With difficulty, I got the ripped bag of feed onto a cart, backed out and shut the door.  There are some things I just can't face and would rather hide my head.

It was very nice to have power and water yesterday.  Destructo rats notwithstanding, it was a good day.  Just ask Celeste.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

And Then...

A fierce wind howled and the temperature dropped yesterday.  Sure glad I'd swept the porch the day before so there was plenty of room for all the leaves now decorating the house.  You-know-who brings in a few with each time she comes in.

I had my day lined out and was going gangbusters.  I even declined a lunch invitation from Harold because I didn't want to break the momentum.  Newton's First Law says, "An object at rest stays at rest," and I'd rested on Sunday.  The first order of the day was to get a start on holiday baking.  While preparing a double batch of (shhh, I can't tell), I cleaned the kitchen as I went so I could cross that off the list at the same time.  Thank goodness I did.  I put the big pan of (it's a secret) in the oven and went in the living room to sweet-talk Stove because the house was freezing.  I knew exactly what I'd tackle next, and there was just enough time before Harold was due here and there were about fifteen minutes before the pan would come out of the oven, and then...the power went out.  Are you kidding me?!  And it wasn't just one of those blips we get so often; it went out and stayed out.  Aaarrgh!  I left the oven door shut and hoped the residual heat would be enough.

Harold brought me a pickup load of cedar rounds from a tree he'd planted maybe fifty years ago.  The tree had died due to the drought of the past few years.  Some of those rounds were huge and, between the two of us, we struggled to unload the truck.  Cam arrived to pick up my contribution for the bobcats and jumped in to help, bless her heart.  Harold loves to shop and knows I do not, and he also brought me a New York steak, a package of liverwurst, a cauliflower, and a honeydew melon.  How's that for a friend?

Golly, the house gets quiet without those background noises one never really pays attention to; the refrigerator humming now and then, the television, of course, etc.  It's hard to break the habit of flipping a light switch, and no matter how many times I reminded myself not to flush...well.  It wasn't too bad while there was still some daylight.  I had a book I've been doling out to myself because I like it so well I didn't want it to end.  With a cat or two on my lap, I settled in to read.  DIN had come to a screeching halt, what with no electricity and no water.  I put the girls to bed at sundown, and then what.  I lit a few oil lamps so I didn't trip over Bess, and read for a while with a flashlight before I remembered my wonderful hard hat with lights.  I had to laugh at the picture of myself wearing that in the house, but, hey, it worked!  It was a bit of an insult because I could see lights on in the house across the road while my house stayed dark.  PG&E outage line is on speed dial on the landline, and the last time I checked, they said I probably wouldn't get power back until this morning.  And then...ta da!  After only seven hours without, let there be light!

It was quite a day.  (The baked goods turned out okay.)

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Good Cause

DIN was somewhat delayed.  NASCAR has "gone dark" until February, but football is in full swing and the Vikings were playing yesterday.  I really get messed up when the Vikes and the Steelers have games on the same day.  I know that sounds like fickle loyalties, but it's actually the opposite.  Dave is a Vikings fan and Clay roots for the Steelers, and I can't show favoritism in the family.  Thank goodness the others aren't dyed-in-the-wool footballers or I'd be in real trouble.

Another rat got caught last evening, with the same result.  I was so appalled with the first one that I flung it out into the big field because I couldn't bear to look at it and some night creature came and took it away by morning.  This one got bagged up and put in the freezer.  The thing is, they go for a good cause and I have to keep that foremost in my mind or I couldn't do what needs to be done.  There are many rescue services up here for nearly every kind of wildlife there is in the hills.  (Remember Doug, the orphaned ground squirrel?)  Camille saves up rats from her barn (her dog Sammi does the killing) and when she has a dozen or so, she takes them to a bobcat rescue group, where there is a real need.  I'll be making my contribution, too.  Eeeuw.

After a night of rain, yesterday was sunny and crisp.  Stove cooperated and the house warmed up quickly.  There is a heavy frost on the deck today and Bessie Anne didn't dawdle on her morning constitutional.

Bess is something of a con artist.  I have two identical recliners in the living room.  She wants to sit in the other one (one is mine alone, or so I thought).  She stands in front of "her" chair and looks at me.  "I'm too little, Mom, you have to boost me up," and so I do.  The last time I went to town, I came home and where was my girl?  In my chair.  Evidently she's only too little when I'm around.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pick Of The Day

Celeste was very picky while making her selection(s), nosing and pawing through the baskets.  Some babies were stamped "Reject" and tossed aside while she continued to search for just the right one.  Finally, having made her choice and with her mouth full, she went off down the hall, singing all the way.  Go figure.

Bessie began barking, "Intruder, intruder!," and ran to the living room door to the deck.  I went to see what had set her off, and there was Honey coming slowly toward us.  She really was funny as she knew she shouldn't have left home without permission and wasn't sure of her welcome here.  When I let her in and she was sure I wasn't going to scold her, omigosh, she stuck to me like a limpet.  As I told Camille when she came to pick up her wayward girl, I'd rather have Honey (and even Sammi) come here where they'd be safe when they were out on the town than down on the big road where they could get killed.  It brought back memories of Faye, the old black lab who used to come by every so once in awhile for a couple of cookies and a time-out on the porch waiting for her owners to pick her up.

The harsh realities of farm life were brought home to me last evening.  The trap I'd set in the barn had, in fact, caught a rat, a big one.  Unfortunately, it had caught, but not killed; that was left to me.  I did not have the most pleasant dreams in my sleep.

The DIN project paid off because the leaves got blown off just in time before the rain came sometime last night.  It really poured for awhile, but it has stopped just in time for Bess's potty run this morning, and only her feet got wet.  I took yesterday off, but it will be full steam ahead again today.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Visiting Hours

The doorbell rang in the morning while I was having a bit of a sit-down and waiting for Stove to get fired up.  I'm used to a chilly house, but company was coming in the afternoon and it would be better if they didn't have to leave their coats on.  Beau was also taking a break, brought his own coffee, and had come for a chat.

After he left, I kicked it into high gear, got the living room dusted, most of the leaves blown off the deck (some clumps were still too wet to move), and another wagon load of firewood brought to the porch.  I set out nibbles for Arden and Cam, who arrived soon after.

Bessie Anne had her own guests to entertain.  Arden brought her dear little dog Audrey, who has the softest fur and big, liquid brown eyes.  Poor Audrey had to stay on leash arrest because she chases cats and had an accident in the hall one of the last times she visited.  Honey did everything she could think of to get Audrey to come and play.  Honey rolled on her back and grinned, she "talked" in her most persuasive tones (Honey is a great talker), and even brought a toy to tease Audrey to play.  Poor Audrey.  Honey already knew that Bess is a dud.  Bessie will play for a little while or go outside with Honey, but being a senior citizen, soon wants to lie down for a brief nap.  All those toys I had picked up?  Between Celeste who had been making selections all day and Honey picking out her favorites, my house is back to looking more normal now.

I almost swooned when Cam brought out a slab of smoked salmon to share and we fell on it like hungry wolves.  It went well with the goat cheese (bought, not homemade) rolled in sweet dried cranberries and pecans, a gift from Thanksgiving.  I know I sure didn't need any dinner last night.

Good conversation, morning and afternoon, with good friends and neighbors.  It was a good day.

Friday, December 1, 2017

This Little Piggy...

Celeste is carrying this business with the piglets a bit too far.  It's a good thing I shut Stove down for the night, otherwise this little one I found in the dark of morning would have been roast pork.  Perhaps I'm misplacing blame; it's usually Ralph who  flings toys about.  Both cats will have to start over as all toys were picked up and put in the basket yesterday.

Heavy dew left the goat pen looking like a field of diamonds in the morning sun.  I wish this photo showed more of the sparkles, but it does show just how high the grass has already grown.  That ratchafratchin' rat was in the barn again.  I've been reluctant to set out the traps I bought, but, like the sheriff in an old western, "This barn ain't big enough for the two of us."

Project DIN is moving ahead, including moving furniture to sweep under and taking the fake ficus tree out to have the accumulated dust sprayed off and dry in the sun.  Ralph's handiwork was for naught when I remade the guest bed and straightened the bunched up rug.

The front-yard oak has fewer leaves with each photo.  I know exactly where they went.  Leaf blowing is on the agenda for today.

It was a good day.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Feeling The Chill

Celeste evidently took "Pig In A Blanket" quite literally.  Instead of a sausage wrapped in dough, she tucked one of the orphan piglets in a towel bath mat to warm it up yesterday.  Living in this house is like opening a surprise package every day; I never know what I'm going to find.

There was an unpleasant surprise in the barn.  As I went to lift down the grain bucket in the morning, a rat!, not a mouse, a humongous rat, the biggest rat I've ever seen, jumped off the lid and ran off along the beams.  I admit to prejudice.  I am very fond of mice, but wild rats are a different ball of wax.  They are creepy and distasteful, and a creature I can do without.  Camille said this one probably came up from her place (she's been plagued with them).  If so, I'm going to counter-attack and send squads of ground squirrels down to her.

Project DIN continues to move ahead, perhaps not at the pace of the day before.  The days have been lovely, but there is a definite chill in the air day and night and I took advantage of having to nurse Stove along to sit down for a bit.  Exertion takes its toll.  While not warm, there was sun enough to dry the comforter I'd washed.  I switched over to fleece sheets yesterday and they are so comfy I didn't need to put the comforter back on the bed last night.

I hear Celeste moving another orphan somewhere.  Keeping them warm is one thing.  I hope she doesn't decide they need a bath.  I can imagine where I'd find a toy floating and it's not a pleasant thought.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Project Do It Now

Project Do It Now got underway yesterday.  In all honesty, it should be called Project Catch Up, but I'm trying to be optimistic.  One item ticked off the list was to drag out all the tiny toys that Ralph had batted under the chest in the entryway.  I wonder if he yells, "Score!," in his mind when one crosses the goal line.  Celeste was horrified to see all these orphan babies and began rearranging them and carrying them to safety, crooning all the while.  She, too, has her work cut out.

Another thing I should have done in more timely fashion was to post a photo of the live Christmas wreath Lorraine brought as a hostess gift on Thanksgiving.  Putting up the Christmas tree is definitely on the list, but just in case, I do have something to show the holiday spirit.  (I put the Halloween decorations away yesterday.  Check.)

I'm not going to list all the chores accomplished (bor-ing!).  Suffice it to say that my pedometer recorded that I walked half a mile without leaving the house.  Camille had called to say that salmon would be served for lunch at the Senior Center, but I declined because I didn't want to break the momentum.  She cut a deal, however, and brought me one of the to-go lunches in trade for a packet of turkey leftovers.  Baked salmon with aioli, wild rice, cooked spinach, and grapes for dessert made for a delicious early dinner.  Six days of turkey and I thought I'd sprout feathers.

Like the sunset, I can't say yesterday ended in a blaze of glory, but I definitely have a glow of satisfaction.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Resolution

I'm making an early New Year's resolution today to stop procrastinating.  I could put it off until January 1, but that would be typical.  I'm very good at making excuses.  I even have some stored up for situations that haven't happened yet.  I can give excuses to friends for their problems.  I'm darned near a pro at it.  There comes a time, however, when there is a realization that things have gotten out of hand and thinking, "I'll do that tomorrow," (or the next day, or the next) just isn't working.  I can't promise to dust every day, but wish me luck.

After 24 hours and close to, or over, two inches of rain, the sun was so welcome yesterday.  Even a quick (now that's a relative term) trip to town wasn't so onerous, but I took time to sit outside with Bessie to revel in the warmth before leaving.  One task I'd put off before Thanksgiving was to blow the latest downfall of leaves off the deck.  I even had the blower charged up.  Of course that didn't get done in time, either.  Having to slog through piles of sodden leaves was part of what led to my resolution.  We're promised a few days of good weather and hopefully the leaves will dry out.  Note to self:  blow leaves off the deck as soon as possible.

Just after putting the girls to bed last evening, the neighbors' big dogs came roaring up to the fence; their timing was off if they'd wanted to scare the goats.  Surprisingly, the dogs were followed by a young family of five, the neighbors whom I'd never met.  We made introductions (the only name I remember, of course, is the one dog named Zeus).  They apologized for their animals and I explained that I knew the dogs were doing their job, but that they terrified the girls.  They understood.  Bess and the big dogs went nose to nose through the fence and seemed to make friends.  One can hope.

That glorious burst at sundown put an exclamation point on the day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

My Hat's Off

When I was growing up, there were strict, unwritten codes of dress for women, and they also applied to girls of all ages. I do appreciate that such codes have been relaxed now.  Back in the day, one did not wear white shoes before this holiday (possibly Memorial Day), nor after that one (I think Labor Day).  Unless you were Katharine Hepburn, women didn't wear trousers, at least in public.  I think my mother owned one pair of slacks in her life.  She despaired of her tomboy daughter who had to be bribed to put on a dress.  Girls were not allowed to come to school in pants or shorts.  I was sent home on the last day of my sophomore class because I'd brazenly worn a pair.  Gloves were de rigueur and white gloves were to be worn only once and then washed.  Hats were obligatory and not just for church.  Now hats were something I could get behind, and I never quite got over it.

I've always indulged my love of hats, and can still remember favorites from over the years.  I have hats stacked on hats in the entry hall.  For a period of time, I wore nothing but cowboy hats: straw, felt, casual, and formal, decorated and plain.  There are all-weather straw Shady Bradys and cool-weather felts.  My favorite, but rarely worn, is an honest-to-God Stetson given to me by Dave years back.  I don't remember my dad without a hat on, and he always said Stetsons were the ultimate best (although his were never westerns).  I've never worn mine much out of respect and for fear of damaging it, but have always been proud to own a Stetson.

For a period of time I was a member of the Red Hat Society and have any number of festive red hats for our outings.  Deb gave me the most elegant red hat of all in the only hat box I've ever owned.  Unfortunately, now those hats only gather dust.

On the coat rack, there are winter beanies and that silly pig hat that is such a comfort on cold days in the barn.  There is the greatest hard hat with lights that Craig made for any nighttime venture out of doors.  The "got milk?" ball cap is my go-to on rainy days, and there is a straw western with a huge brim that I used to wear for shade when I was gardening.  There is a black Michael Jackson-style felt that I could wear if I want to get down and boogie.

On the rack in the laundry room, there is an Indiana Jones fedora that I adore, as well as a Davy Crockett racoon cap (I've got two of those), and the oh-so-silly chicken and pig hats.  What can I say?  I just love hats.

I just don't wear hats much anymore.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wandering Mind

I had the advantage of a rather unstructured childhood.  Oh, I had dance classes, music classes, Blue Birds (because I was too young to get into Brownies) and Girl Scouts, and the occasional play date arranged by my mother because she felt bad that I was an only child.  (What she didn't realize was that I liked being an "only.")  Even with all these activities, I had plenty of time to do nothing, to lie on my belly in the grass and watch ants or on my back watching clouds.  I could play games of my own devise and act all the parts in stories I made up.  In other words, I could let my mind wander (and wonder) at will.  My train of thought travels far and wide and takes me to wild and wonderful places.

This morning, perhaps because of our recent holiday, I boarded the train with stops on things for which I am thankful, beginning with toilet paper (don't ask).  That led to indoor plumbing (which my parents grew up without) and then to automatic washing machines.  When the first three of my Kids were babies, their diapers were long strips of flannel that had to be washed.  All I had was a wringer washing machine that had to be filled and emptied by hand.  Mother had told me that good mothers rinsed diapers five times, put through the wringer each time before hanging on the line, and so that was what I did for years.  Can you imagine the time that took on a daily basis?  I remember my joy when Larry was born; by then commercial sewn-cloth diapers were available and my dad bought me an automatic washing machine.  Ta da!  I didn't have a dryer until the fourth Kid, and when it was raining, all those diapers festooned inside the house.  Add dryers to the list.

I'm thankful for garbage disposals, even though now if my disposal had to live on what I feed it, it would starve to death because of being on a septic tank and because most scraps go to the (then) chickens and now turkeys.  It was my job as a kid to take the day's garbage out to the can at the road after dinner.  I'll admit I was afraid of the dark.  We lived in a semi-rural area and the house wasn't close to the road.  My wandering mind imagined all sorts of lurking dangers as I walked as slowly as possible out to the garbage can and ran back to the house as fast as I could, thankful for the safety of the front porch.

The train veered from the past into the present day.  Having grown up in a world without such things, I appreciate television, wireless telephones and cellphones, computers.  In addition to many, many material items, I'm thankful to live in such lovely surroundings with time to just enjoy the sights and to have my animals, indoors and out.

This was sunrise yesterday morning.  How could one not be thankful for such a glorious sight.  Even though it's not yet raining, the wind is howling in the dark this morning and I doubt there will be such a vision today.  I'm calculating how many days' worth of firewood there is on the porch.

There are worse things to have than a wandering mind, especially when it takes you to all the good things in life..

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Deep Breaths

After the flurry of activity the day before, yesterday was a day off.  Thanks to my Kids, all I really needed to do was put away the dishes, pots and pans, etc., that they had so kindly washed.  Cam stopped by to pick up the turkey carcass for the stock she makes for winter soups.  She had all the dogs with her and they got out of the truck to say hello to Bessie.  We got to laughing as all the dogs went through the ritual pee parade that dogs seem to enjoy so much.  Buddy stayed in the truck, but Honey, Sammi, and Bess followed one another around the front yard, each stopping to leave a scent mark in the same spot.  One wonders how they never run out and how they have such control.

The girls had not eaten all their alfalfa and deer had come in the night to enjoy the leftovers.  I can always tell when we've had visitors.  Goats are straightforward munchers, but deer eat in a swirling pattern and there were circular divots in the feed pile.

The turkeys also enjoyed the leftovers from Thanksgiving prep; trimmings from celery, apples, some soft cranberries, and bits of dinner rolls.  It would not be kind to put out turkey scraps.

It was a day to take deep breaths and make the most of the lovely weather, especially since we're due for several days of rain this weekend.  The realization that Christmas is the next holiday hit hard.  Good grief, it took me long enough to put out a few Halloween decorations (which, by the way, are still up).  Somehow, the subject had come up on Thursday and Deb suggested that everyone could help put up the Christmas tree.  Since that is a time-consuming task and Thanksgiving is devoted to poker and dinner, I nixed that offer.  Lorraine had given me a beautiful, fresh Christmas wreath for the front door, so I've already got a head start.  The tree will either get put up, or it won't.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Beyond Thankful

Yikes!  Dave, Lorraine, and Jester drove up about three hours early, right after I got back to the house, so of course I was caught with my dusting down.  It makes no sense to shower and change before going to the barn, so I didn't even have time to spiff up a bit as I'd planned.  Oh well.  My Kids are a forgiving bunch.

Deb, Craig, and Pete arrived soon.  Many hands make light work, and yesterday was proof of that.  My job is pretty much over when the turkey goes in the oven.  Deb and Lorraine helped ready the side dishes, and Craig is the official baster.  Dave is the traditional carver of turkeys, and Clay took Larry's place as sous chef and taster.  Yes, that's a mountain of sliced turkey.

There is that wonderful moment for any cook when guests begin to eat and suddenly all are silent and she knows they are savoring those first bites.  I mentioned that I've cooked the same Thanksgiving meal for over fifty years and suggested it might be time for a change.  "Gasp!  Why?!  Why would you do that?"  I guess Thanksgiving is not the time to try something new.  We did forego pumpkin pie in favor of pecan pie to celebrate Craig's birthday.

There was the traditional poker game before and after dinner (I won!).  The Kids doled out leftovers for everyone and then cleaned up the kitchen while I sat like the Queen of Sheba and stayed out of the way of the worker bees.

We were all conscious of the missing faces at the table, with Larry in Hawaii and Jake in Saudi Arabia.  Deb and Craig had made this sign and we sent this photo to the guys.  (Ain't technology grand?)  I asked Deb, "When did I get so short?"  "Mom, you've always been short."

Slowly, the group left in twos and threes, and Clay and Pete stayed for conversation for awhile.  Then the house was quiet, Celeste came out of hiding, and I was left to reflect on just how thankful I am for family and friends...beyond thankful, truly.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Hurry, Hurry

Since I'm running so late with everything that needs to be done today, I might as well start at the end so I'm ahead on at least one thing.  Sunset last night was lovely.  All I needed to do was put the bowl into the barrel and the little mice climbed right in.  Boy, they learned fast.

Ralph is being mean to Celeste.  She brought the one baby remaining in the bedroom out to join the others, and she'd no more than put it down when Ralph pounced on it and threw it downstairs.  This offended her no end.  She went down and got it (in this case it was a toy mouse), put it safely next to the others, and then turned and boxed Ralph's ears.  I imagine Deb can relate to the trials and tribulations of having a younger brother.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I need to get the turkey in the oven.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It Never Ends

"A man may work from dusk to dawn, but woman's work is never done."  If you doubt this, ask Celeste.  All these babies must be transported, one at a time, back and forth up and down the hall.  I don't know why she does this, and I'm not sure she does, either.  It's a self-appointed task and she takes it seriously.  One of these days, or nights, she will carry them all back to the bedroom, crooning or crying all the way.

A night bird, not an owl, has taken to hunting the property recently.  This bird has a particularly irritating call, similar to a squeaky rocking chair, and it makes this sound continuously.  After a while of listening to it, it begins to grate like fingernails on a chalkboard.  It's outside the bedroom window now.  I do not understand how the nighttime hunters ever catch anything when they constantly announce their presence.  Most self-respecting squirrels are underground anyhow.

A cat, either a neighbor's or a feral, has been hanging out in the big pen in the morning.  The girls are sure it is a lion and snort and stamp and cluster together.  There's no convincing them that the kitty is no danger.  Their instincts tell them different.  I'm just glad that Bessie's eyesight is so poor now.  She lets Celeste and Ralph snuggle up and rub all over her, but strange cats are not to be tolerated.

The night bird is squawking and Celeste is bringing a baby to the bedroom.  It never ends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mouse Whisperer

Goat chow is kept in the barn in a big, blue industrial barrel with a lid.  It has taken years, but mice have finally chewed a small hole up at the rim for access.  The girls get a nighty-night treat of a few mouthfuls of grain as an incentive to go in their stalls.  For some time now, almost every evening I find two or three (or more) mice in the barrel.  Once in, they can't get out again.  At first when I'd lift the lid, the mice would become hysterical and race around and around like it was a hippodrome.  Not about to try to catch them with my hands, with great effort and many misses, I'd scoop them up one at a time in a feed bowl and fling them out to freedom.  (The Flying Wallendas fly again!)  One thing is certain, mice are not stupid. The past few nights, I lift the lid, there are the mice, and I reach in with the bowl.  Surprisingly, the little creatures do not panic anymore.  They do not run around, but wait for the elevator to arrive, then actually climb into the bowl for a ride to the top.  On their own, they've evidently decided I mean them no harm.  I guess I can add Mouse Whisperer to my resume.  There probably won't be a big demand for my services, but it's always nice to expand one's repertoire.

Rain came again in the afternoon. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

At Last

A large breakfast crowd had gathered when I walked out the door (tap the picture to enlarge), muttering to themselves and ruffling their feathers.  Monarchs could not have marched more regally than the strutting toms toward the feeding station.  The hens, however, broke ranks when I threw down the seed and rushed to get there first.  It's quite a way to start the day.  One thing is for sure:  I dasn't run out of birdseed.

It seemed very strange to be walking down to the barn without a bucket yesterday.  Sheila has been giving not more than a couple of cups of milk a day and it is time to let her dry up.  I'll milk her maybe every other day for a week or so to help that process.  But, as I said, after all these years, not having a bucket and really working in the morning was very different.

Determined to make some advance toward the holiday, the kitchen seemed the most likely place to begin.  Groceries were sorted and a collection station was set up in the round room for Thursday's meal.  It helps to have everything in one place.  Progress was somewhat slowed by the Vikings vs. Rams football game, as well as the NASCAR race, and I went from kitchen to chair to catch up on scores and placements.  I'd made significant inroads on the kitchen when Pete called and said he'd like to come up, and had finished by the time he got here.  He tried to suppress a shudder when I offered him Limburger cheese or liverwurst; like I said, scarred for life.  Pete is neither a football nor race car fan, but he was tolerant when I'd periodically check on both.  (The Vikings kicked butt!)

Celeste has her babies on the move again.  I hear one being brought down the hall now, and I stepped on baby bear this morning.  An owl is hooting just outside in the dark.  These are the sounds of Farview in the morning.

What with some progress at last and a good visit with my Kid, it was a good day.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Almost Pleasant

I girded my loins (whatever that means) and bit the bullet and reluctantly drove to town.  Not just town, but down to Cameron Park!  The day was mild, traffic was light, and the hills were punctuated with pools of gold and spires of red.  Most of the potholes had been filled so I wasn't constantly swerving.  Winding, hilly Bucks Bar can be a beautiful drive when conditions are right.

I anticipated a grim crowd of tense customers fighting over turkeys and cranberries at the store.  (When it comes to shopping, I always anticipate the worst.)  I wonder if the store hadn't put something in the air conditioner, because, while there was a pre-holiday crowd, there were smiling faces and an exchange of pleasantries everywhere.  The nice man at the counter went in the back and found a 23-pound turkey for me.  It's my theory that it's too much work to roast a dinky 12-pounder.  Half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner is doling out leftovers, keeping plenty for self.  Imagine my surprise when I found I was actually having a good time.  And best of all, the store had not only liverwurst, but Limburger cheese!  I haven't been able to find that stinky, stinky cheese for years, and I love it.  Back when the Kids were small and I wanted a little peace and quiet, I would open a package of Limburger and the house would immediately empty.  I probably scarred the Kids for life.

I've made the same Thanksgiving menu for probably fifty years (don't mess with success).  While I took the precaution of making a list, I could probably shop for ingredients in my sleep.  I was in and out of the store in next to no time and was home well before the witching hour (4:30).

By sundown, bags and bags of food had been unloaded from the truck (you don't want to see my kitchen counters at the moment), I'd had a bit of a sit-down, and was ready to put the girls to bed.  As much as I detest shopping, I'd have to say that my outing yesterday was almost pleasurable.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Slowly, Slowly

It would be preferable to have steady, if slow, progress toward the holiday instead of the fits and starts I'm experiencing.  Ah, well, at least I'm moving forward, even at a snail's pace..

It was a lovely, crisp fall morning and the goat pen is entirely carpeted in green once again.  Those barely visible patches of grass are now about three inches tall and growing.  The weather was so nice that I was able to take more time and do a better job of cleaning the stalls.  Another couple of dewy mornings and the girls' hooves will be soft enough for a pedicure.

I received a surprise call from another brother-in-law yesterday with an invitation to meet for an early dinner at Poor Red's.  This is the same BIL who had advised me not to get a milk cow when I started talking livestock because I'd be so tied down to the animal's routine.  Well, I didn't get a cow, but I know he understood when I had to reluctantly refuse the invitation because the girls' bedtime is so early these days.  I'd gotten a late start getting ready to go shopping and had to postpone the trip because I couldn't have made it back by 4:30.  Be advised:  goats will put a crimp in your social life.

All of Celeste's foster babies have been transported from the bedroom back to the living room, one at a time and loudly.  As I don't walk around the living room with bare feet, I won't be stepping on a little furry body in the dark for awhile. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Progress Report

The thing about a progress report is that there should have been some progress made, or at least have a good excuse ready.  I have neither.

It poured rain all day.  Once again I appreciated that ridiculous piggy hat with ear flaps that kept my head dry during barn chores.  I left the big room open for the girls.  Between the rain and the wind, the play yard was wet and they would have been miserable instead of just cranky.

Back at the house, I got Stove cranked up, changed to a dry jacket, and sat down to warm up.  Just the act of sitting down is an invitation to Celeste.  She jumped into my lap; I was doomed and we spent the day napping off and on.

I hope to have a better report tomorrow.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why, Celeste?

Sometimes Celeste does it in the daytime, but mostly at night after lights out, and I don't know why.  She wanders up and down the hall with one or another of the smallest soft toys like the bald hamster in her mouth, plaintively meowing the whole time.  Celeste has not had nor will ever have kittens, but it's as if she considers them babies.  At first I thought she was perhaps mourning over them, but now I wonder if she's singing to them as she carefully puts the little one in a safe place.  Ralph pounces on the toys, throws them in the air, and claws with his hind feet as if to disembowel the creature.  That is not Celeste's way.  Is some mothering instinct going on?  As I do so often with the animals, I wonder why.

It rained off and on most of yesterday.  I took advantage of a dry spell to bring more wood to the porch.  This isn't a particularly cold storm, but the dampness seeps into the house.  Thanks to Clay, there is a nice mix of oak and cedar to keep Stove happy.  I got a pretty good start on the glassware once Stove got going.  There are dozens of wine glasses to be washed.  Camille asked why so many when we are not a wine-drinking family (usually only at Thanksgiving).  There is no good answer.  It probably goes back to my theory that if one is good, more is better.  Steve built a long sideboard in the dining room, and that doesn't count all the glasses in the liquor armoire.  (I'm not going to mention the six or so complete sets of dishes in the other cupboard.  Steve used to call me the Imelda Marcos of dishes.)

The brunt of the storm hit after dark and the girls were tucked away in the barn.  The bedroom is on the south end of the house and, as I've said before, it's like being on the prow of a ship with the wind howling and rain banging on the windows.  I am so very glad I got the covers up on the barn in time.

It is still dark this morning and Celeste is coming down the hall with her mouth full...again.  Why, Celeste?