Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Addiction

Addiction:  the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice....  I'll admit it, I'm addicted to the sky.  I can't help myself when I see a particularly beautiful sunrise or sunset, or even a flotilla of puffy white clouds sailing overhead and I reach for the camera.  It may be a holdover from when Steve was alive and we would call to each other to, "Come see!"  I still have this need to share.

Addiction comes in many forms, and I may be developing an over-fondness for agrodolce, that Italian sweet-sour sauce.  Having tried it on Pete just a couple of days ago, when Clay came up yesterday I couldn't help myself and made it again.  I did put it over butternut squash as before, but it went wonderfully with pork chops and Clay gave the sauce a thumbs up of approval, too.

The weather has been so goofy this year.  It seems too early for the lilac leaves to turn color, but they sure are pretty.  I started this hedge, such as it is, from rootless, bare twig cuttings, and now it's above the eaves.  I never planned to have anything block the view from my kitchen windows, but what I didn't realize at first is that the summer sun beats in and the room becomes stifling.  It's the one room in the house without a ceiling fan and has poor cross ventilation, so the shade provided by the lilacs is most welcome.  There's the added bonus of having little birds right there at eye level.  The branches go bare in winter and let in plenty of light.

Clay had come up to see what, if anything, could be done about the log splitter.  The last time Helper Dude was going to work on the mound of oak rounds, the splitter would not start.  I had nightmares about having to replace the darned thing, and I was getting worried because I sure don't have enough firewood to get through the winter.  We're due for rain and dropping temperatures by the end of this week.  With no thermostat in the house, one must plan ahead for heat in cold weather.  Clay fiddled with this or that, gave the machine a shot of starter fluid, and ta da! that sucker fired right up.  Instead of nightmares, I'm having visions of a cozy wood stove.  Of course, there are all those rounds to be split first.

As much as I appreciate Clay's help, his real gift was his time and that's never to be taken for granted.  My Kids are my joy.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Delaying Tactics

Shortly after barn chores, a propane truck drove up.  I knew right away it was the new guy, the one who had gotten himself so lost last week.  My driveway has three "branches" to the house, and this guy had picked the narrowest, most winding one that goes under the low-hanging live oak.  While making introductions, I surreptitiously slipped him a milk bone, explaining that Bess looks forward to deliverymen because most of them give her cookies and I keep one in my pocket just in case a newbie hasn't learned that trick to keep farm dogs friendly.  I'm not on a set schedule for propane delivery and I so appreciate that the guys stop by when they're in the neighborhood because it keeps my bill low(er).  Propane is pretty expensive.  I hope this guy can find his way back again.

Later, there I was, dreading a trip to town (again), and Cam called, asking if I was going to be home until about 3.  She was going to be up on a ladder painting (again) and wanted someone to be aware.  "Well, I have to go into town, but I can wait until then.  No problem."  It turned out to be no hardship at all.  Two of my favorite movies played back to back.  I've watched "Finding Neverland" (2004, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet,  Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman) numerous times.  It's a touching story about James M. Barrie and the inspiration for "Peter Pan."  It's Freddie Highmore, the little boy who was Peter, who sends me to tears every time.

"Neverland" was followed by "The Girl With A Pearl Earring" (2003, Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson) about the painting of the same name by Johannes Vermeer.  This movie is a low-key drama and probably not to everyone's taste, but I'm fascinated by the filming technique that gives the chiaroscuro effect used by Vermeer in his art.  I've actually watched the film without sound, just because of the beauty of each scene.

"Girl" came to an end at the same time Camille called to say she was done with ladder work for the day; perfect timing.  Without any further delaying tactics at hand, there was nothing for it but to make a hit-and-run trip to town.  Sigh.  I rewarded myself with fried eggplant for dinner.

It was a good day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rock Star

Like a big-name celebrity, I have my entourage.  I go nowhere alone.  It's the next best thing to a parade.  The numbers drop when the cats are napping, but Bessie Anne is a constant.  Indoors or out, she is by my side.  It's useless trying to sneak a little privacy in the bathroom.  Closing the door is no good, what with the scratching and calling.  The cats consider the bathroom to be communal potty time whenever I go in there.  They go to their respective litter boxes and we all go together while Bess keeps watch in the doorway.  There is always the prospect of a treat in the kitchen, so there's no chance of being alone there.  Bessie Anne will wake from a deep sleep to wander in to see what's cookin'.  We all troop down the hall at night to go to sleep in what I used to think of as my bed.

It's no different in the goat pen.  In the morning, the girls cluster about until I'm finished in the barn and then we all go up the hill together.  I'd say I feel like the Pied Piper, but the girls push and shove to take the lead.  In the evening, they meet me at the gate and we trek down the well-worn path.

Yep, in my house, I'm a rock star.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Make My Day

(Apologies to Clint Eastwood, "Dirty Harry")

I was having a losing argument with the vacuum cleaner (a story for another day) when the phone rang.  It was Pete.  "Hey, Mom, if you're not busy, I thought I'd come up and maybe I can talk you into sharing a steak with me."  "I'm not, and you can."  Whoop whoop!  Make my day!  I put the balky vacuum cleaner away and sat down to watch Lidia, one of my favorite TV chefs, for a minute.  This segment was all about agrodolce, a multipurpose Italian sweet and sour sauce.  One recipe had the sauce over butternut squash, and I thought, "I've got plenty of butternut squash (thanks, Beau), the sauce looks easy and quick, and the dish would go well with steak," and I started putting it together.  I didn't have to worry about timing because the dish is served at room temperature.  As long as it isn't a green vegetable, Pete is pretty adventurous in trying something new.

When Pete came in, he not only brought steak, in his magic bag he had Anaheim chilis, sliced mushrooms, a package of strawberries (to be frozen for his next visit), and two avocados just for me.  Pete puts frozen strawberries in his water instead of ice cubes, and I'd run out.  Working together, he sauteed mushrooms and I tried a couple of ways to batter dip and fry the mild chilis (he'd bought the chilis because of the name; he'd been raised in Anaheim) and marinate baked and caramelized squash in the agrodulce.  Pete and only Pete can grill the steak, and I'm not the one to argue with success.  I kid you not, it was a veritable feast!

We had time to talk and enjoy a leisurely meal together.  What could be better?  It was a good day.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

In The Dark

I'm in the dark about so many things, it should come as no surprise to me that things are happening at night.  Some berserk hairdresser came while I was asleep and gave me the worst case of bed head ever yesterday, and no matter what I did I couldn't tame it.  It looked like Edward Scissorhands' work and I could have scared small children.

Owls are working the neighborhood in the predawn hours, hunting for what?  I'd think all the ground squirrels and mice would be tucked deep in their burrows.  I can never figure out why owls can fly so silently, and then announce they're on the hunt by constantly hooting.

Unless the rats have gone vegetarian, some other animal has been coming at night and breaking into the alfalfa bales.  This really ticks me off; I am not the soup kitchen for the animal world!  Isn't bird seed and goat chow enough?!  Alfalfa is a big-ticket item and besides, whatever it is is making a big mess.  The square wire gate is meant to keep out deer, so whatever the vandal is, it is smaller than a bread box.

Years ago I was given a novelty bottle opener.  I drink beer from a can and most sodas come in cans or plastic bottles, so I've never used the opener.  Camille drinks a specialty beer (she brings her own) that does come in glass bottles.  The other evening (not quite dark), she rummaged in the drawer and came up with the aforementioned opener, used it, and then tossed it back.  Suddenly there was music, Hank Williams, Jr., singing "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight."  I thought Camille had put a unique ringtone on her cellphone, but she looked at me, opened the drawer, and the bottle opener was playing a recording.  Weird.

While I didn't go overboard, I did give a decorative nod to Halloween.  Boo!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Decorations

I had been feeling pretty good about taking on a long overdue chore yesterday and sweeping down cobwebs, many, many cobwebs in both the barn and the house.  Some people are phobic about spiders; I like 'em (with the exception of Black Widows).  I appreciate that the traps they set for food also get rid of pesky flies, gnats, and mosquitoes for me.  When the webs are fresh, the gossamer threads are almost invisible and I leave them be.  At the end of summer when the insect population dwindles and the spiders abandon their hunting grounds (where do they go?), the webs become heavy with dust (what a surprise!) and it's time to take them down.  It occurred to me this morning that, if I'd left the cobwebs up for another couple of weeks, I'd already be decorated for Halloween.  People pay good money for fake cobwebs to make their houses scary for the holiday.  Mine were free and didn't cost a dime.  Sigh.

Steve was an absolute nutter when it came to putting up decorations for the holidays.  Name any holiday on the calendar and I guarantee we'd have a supply of decorations.  We decorated the house even up here where company came only for Easter and Christmas.  He put up lights and banners and the house was filled with appropriate this's and thats.  In all our years here, we never had even one trick-or-treater, but that never mattered; it was Halloween!  The house, porch, and deck  had bats, pumpkins, ghosts, Draculas, witches and black cats.  It took days to put everything in place and longer to take it all down, just for the two of us.  I swear my son-in-law Craig is channeling Steve now.  Deb sent me pictures of the tiny Halloween village they put up, complete with spooky lights.  Craig also loses control when it's Christmas.  Steve would be so pleased.  Me?  I'm lucky if the Christmas tree gets put up, and the one or two ornaments on it are just pitiful.  I should have left the cobwebs in place.

Most of the morning was spent watching the heartbreaking news about the fires farther north.  Total, unimaginable devastation.  Later, after undecorating the house, I made a quick run up to the grocery store.  Pete has obviously had an influence because I bought bananas and an eggplant.  (Totally self-indulgent, I also bought liverwurst and rye bread.)

There was a voicemail waiting when I got home.  Camille and I have a pact and we watch out for each other.  She'd called to say she was getting up on a ladder to paint the house at her other property, and that she'd call again in a half-hour to let me know she hadn't fallen off and was lying on the ground somewhere.  She left a second message to say so far, so good.  A third call later (and I was home) when she was going up the ladder again and we joked about my calling 911 if she didn't call back in 30 minutes.  I take my 911 duty very seriously, and when she hadn't called back in time, I gave her 15 minutes and then called her.  When there was no answer, I said I'd give her another 15 before I called for help.  Happily, she called right back to say all was well.  Another couple of trips up the ladder and accompanying phone calls and she called it quits for the day.  Cam stopped by on her way home and we watched the sad evening news together until it was time to put our critters to bed.

Guilt-ridden, I think I'll pull out a witch and a black cat or two today.  The house could use a few decorations or the ghost of Steve would haunt me.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Gasp!

Air quality yesterday left us gasping and curtailed a lot of activities.  The wind had changed direction in the night, blowing smoke from all the fires in the valley up to ricochet off the mountains and bank over the foothills.  That wasn't clouds or fog that hid the sun in the morning.  There was the taste of smoke in my mouth all day.  (And don't I know how lucky I am that this is my only complaint?)

Ralph is constantly finding new ways to amuse himself.  His latest game is jumping down into the deep empty bathtub in my bathroom.  It gives a satisfying resounding thump and then I don't know if he jumps up and down or races around in there like a rollerdome, but it sounds like thunder.  It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't 3 a.m., night after night.

I was putting the girls to bed last night.  Inga and Sheila had gone to their rooms without problems, and I turned to Tessie.  Her ears were at attention and she sounded the "danger!" snort as she stared intently into the big pen.  I looked to see what had her scared and there it was at the far side...gasp! a cat.  It was just a little house cat, but a goat can't be too careful.  I couldn't coax her into the barn until the big dogs next door started barking.  Poor girl, she was frozen in between the rock and the hard place, lion to the left, wolves to the right (goats tend to exaggerate).  She didn't know which way to turn and I was able to grab her collar and lead her to safety, telling her I'd lock the barn door behind her.

It was quite a day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Change Of Plan

Normally, my morning routine is:  make coffee, bring a cup back to the computer, check the blog (love to see comments), write the blog, and then spend time on FB.  Today there was a change of plan.  With cousins suffering loss from the devastation from the Tubbs fire, it was more important to check FB first this morning to see how family is faring.  So far, the news is relatively good.  One home completely burned to the ground, and several groups are still evacuated and their home situations yet unknown, but thankfully all are safe.  It is a truly terrible situation.

There was also a change of plan yesterday.  While taking an after-barn break, I received a call from the propane company saying that they'd planned a delivery, but the newly hired driver found he couldn't get here because of the road.  "What road?," thinking that Bucks Bar had collapsed again.  "Gray Rock."  "Oh good grief."  He had started at the wrong end of Gray Rock, which makes a loop ending on two different streets, and he was right, there is a portion of the road that is impassable.  Unfortunately, GPS insists on sending the people to the wrong end.  "Honey, I am just two driveways up at this end," and I gave her explicit directions to pass on to the unfortunate driver.  And I waited.  Um hmmm.  After an hour, I called the office.  Was the poor guy still lost in the hills, decide to take a lunch break, or just give up and go home?  She said, "I'll try to contact him again and get back to you." Turns out he had called it quits.  My delivery has been rescheduled for next week.

Oh well.  As they say, the best laid plans....

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It's Our Secret

I wouldn't want it to get out because it would embarrass her, but just between us, Bessie Anne has developed a gas leak.  It's not so noticeable in the house because she usually sleeps on one of the couches on the other side of the room, but out on the porch she lies down close to my feet.  Periodically, she gives a quiet little toot in her sleep and I get a whiff of "aroma."  Hey, it happens.  It's just that she's never had this problem before.

Gillie, a Welsh corgi from another lifetime, now that was a girl with major gas.  Gillie could cut loose with a green cloud (that's an exaggeration) that could make your eyes water (that's not).  Boys, my boys at least, thought passing gas was the funniest thing ever and Gillie would keep them in gales of laughter.  She was also a convenient  patsy to blame if one of them had a problem of his own.

Guilt is a harsh mistress.  Having been caught with my dust down, yesterday I not only dusted, I polished furniture.  Wouldn't you know that not one soul stopped by to sit and admire the gleaming wood with me?

The sun sank last evening behind a bank of smoke across the valley.  There are a number of fires burning in California, the largest being in the heavily inhabited Santa Rosa area where a number of my family members live.  It was frightening to learn that they were evacuated, and worse to find out that one family lost everything and the house they'd lived in for forty years.  Thankfully, they are safe and together.  Hold the good thought for all.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Visiting Central

It's pretty great when it's not even Halloween and the treats come to you, no trick attached.  Yesterday was a NASCAR day and I was happy to take the day off, so it was a nice surprise to get a call in late afternoon from Pete who said he might come up for an hour or two.  He asked if I needed anything and I said no, thanks.  It seems he can't take no for an answer.  He got out of his car with a grocery bag and a treasure trove of fresh produce which he knows is in short supply in my house.  Ohmigosh, I haven't had an artichoke in years!

We were just sitting down to chat when Beau tootled up on his quad and came in to visit.  I was happy to introduce the guys, as each had heard of the other but had not met.  They were getting acquainted when Pete's phone rang.  It was the far-away brother, Larry, calling from Hawaii.  That was an opportunity not to be missed, so Pete went outside to talk and Beau and I chatted for the better part of an hour until he had.to get home.  It's best to get out of the hills before sundown (deer, etc.) so Pete wasn't going to stick around long.  Before he left, Camille drove up.  If I'd known it was visiting day, I might have dusted, but the shock might have been too much for my guests.

I had a banana for dinner.  It was a good day.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Done And Done

Finis, over, finished, the last of the pears, ta da!  And here's the empty box to prove it.  Well, empty except for the last bowl ready to be bagged up and stuffed in the freezer, and then I happily called it quits. The squirrels and big and little birds won't be so pleased.  They've been enjoying the cores and soft bits on their cereal in the morning.

I did not milk Tessie yesterday.  Her udder was pretty soft, which tells me that she is about ready to be finished with that part of her career.  We'll see how she is today.

Camille called in the morning to tell me that a number of vultures were circling over town and she though it might be the migration.  (Since the hardware store closed, "town" consists of The Pub and a wine-tasting cave.)  The migration has normally taken place somewhere between September 21-28, but the weather has been so off kilter this year, it could be this late.  But no, only about twenty showed up so it must have been dead livestock or a large roadkill.

I celebrated the end of the pear epic with a dinner of caramelized kielbasa and Lyonnaise potatoes.  It was a good day.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

If I Never...

If I never see another tomato or pear, it will be too soon.  Another afternoon of trimming, cutting, and filling bag after bag of pears to put in the freezer.  There are still a dozen or so in the box, but Camille came over and I set them aside.  Cam had finished painting the last two walls on her barn (another project that had dragged on and on) and was ready for a break.  I sure wasn't going to say no to that.  The morning had been spent doing laundry and hanging it on the line, and I, too, was ready for a sit down.

I'm going to start Tessie on an every-other-day milking routine.  She's about done, and I am, too.  Poor Sheila, I felt so bad for her yesterday.  The people who live behind me on property adjacent to the goat pen have two very large dogs.  I've only seen them a couple of times, but when they show up, they bark and bark at the goats (and me) in deep, loud, scary voices.  Sheila was up on the stand when the dogs started up.  Inga, the first outside, came racing behind the barn and Sheila started quivering so hard I thought she'd give ready-made milk shakes.  Fortunately, the dogs didn't stick around long.

I can't say one bad thing about the weather lately.  It's been perfect for fall, warm and breezy.  Much of the wind has been coming from the north, over the mountains from the desert, and it's very dry.  That keeps us in a high fire situation so I still can't mow, but, boy, I sure want to.  The property looks so raggle-taggle, it's embarrassing.  Oh well.

Friday, October 6, 2017

New Routines

Barn chores are taking less time each day as Tessie has finally gotten with the drying-up program.  From her all-time high of 500-600 squirts to her standard 350, she's now down to 60, and that will soon come to a stop.  Her udder is less full each morning and she'll soon stop milk production altogether.  It takes the girls only about five minutes to eat their bowl of chow, and Sheila is an easy, quick milker.  It used to take over an hour in the barn every day, now I'm in and out in thirty minutes.  We're set in our ways and I'll keep the routine of bringing each girl to the stand for breakfast.  It is my chance to give them attention, brushing their coat, checking for any injuries, and trimming their hooves as needed.  They are getting ready for winter as their coats are thicker now.

Either I missed the mass vulture migration at the end of September or there are not so many making the journey south anymore.  From the thirty-plus I had seen for awhile in the morning, they're back to the maybe 8-10 maintenance crew.  I'm not the only one in the area that has had a rat problem this year, and I hope people are not putting out poison for them or the ground squirrels.  There is a trickle-down effect with poison; carrion eaters like vultures and the natural predators will take advantage of an easy meal and also die a painful death.

Days are getting shorter and definitely cooler and nights are long.  Even with shorter barn time, I seem to get less and less done.  I'm geared to shut down at sunset; that's the end of my workday, period.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Seeing Daylight

I can't remember the last time I woke up to see daylight instead of pitch-black darkness.  The extra hours of sleep felt good, but I've lost half the day.  Oh well.

Once upon a time there were door-to-door salesmen, itinerant preachers, and circuit-riding judges.  We out here in the boonies are so lucky that Candy, who once had a small salon in Somerset, now does house calls to cut hair.  She lines up her appointments and makes the rounds, and yesterday we were on the list.  "We" was Arden, Camille, and myself.  Unfortunately, Arden had car trouble and couldn't get out of her driveway, but Cam, Candy, and I had a most enjoyable afternoon out on the deck and getting trimmed up.  In addition to being a great hairdresser, Candy is good company.

Today, like it or not, I must finish cutting up pears.  Nearing the bottom of the box, I'm at least beginning to see daylight.  I'm feeling about pears as I felt about tomatoes.  Enough is too much, and I must start showing restraint in these ventures.  Or not.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Could It Be?

I'm not sure that Stump and Raggedy Ann might not be one and the same.  Raggedy comes running from the same spot of ground where Stump hangs out and goes back there when she's finished eating.  Maybe it is Stump who, after the kids left home, decided to go out for breakfast every day.  Never having gotten a close look at Stump's ears, it could be I was mistaken.  I haven't seen Turk for awhile now.  Either he's sleeping in or, perhaps because it's fall, he's busy stocking his larder with the dropping acorns that sound like mini-bombs when they hit the truck.  I've got to get to the feed store today.  There's only enough seed for one more meal in the barrel and I'd hate to disappoint squirrels and turkeys tomorrow.  The little birds I meant to be feeding have to settle for the second seating and leftovers.

For years and years in the past, I had only one cat at a time:  Tag Along Too-Loo, Sarah, Annie, then Victor.  I wanted just one so they would bond with me alone, and they certainly did.  It wasn't until I went to get Frank and couldn't leave his sister Pearl behind that I accepted two.  They were supposed to be outside barn cats anyhow.  (Yeah, how'd that work out?)  I found that two could share their affection and then keep each other company.  I could deal with that, so had no problem taking Ralph and Celeste together.  It could be that Celeste would have preferred to be an only child.  Ralph torments his sister.  Celeste will be sleeping in a patch of sunlight on cool days and Ralph gets bored playing alone and will go over and sit on Celeste's head.  If that doesn't get a reaction, he jumps on her body, pulls her tail, or bites her neck.  When she's had enough, she slaps his face and the fight is on.  They tussle and roll on the floor and then race through the house.  She chases him and then he turns and chases her until they're both worn out.  Then they go cuddle together on the bed and take a nap.  I needn't have worried about not getting my share of attention.  They mostly take turns, but sometimes my lap gets pretty full of cats.

A jacket felt good all day, even in bright sunlight.  In the afternoon the sky got dark and a strong wind blew.  It really looked like a storm was brewing, but it came to nothing.  The clouds rolled back, the sun came out, and the wind became a breeze again.  We don't need a calendar to know that fall is here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Ralph, The Sequel

Update:  Ralph is doing his utmost to strip the guest bed, and he's making progress.  Now it's the blanket, and I don't understand that.  It's a soft velour that I know he likes to knead, but maybe he's tired of the color.  Who knows?

A trip to town took a chunk out of the afternoon.  Oh well.  It's a good thing I keep an eye out for wildlife, as I came around a curve and a doe (another one) and her twins were crossing the road.  As I've told the Kids, if you see one deer, you can count on more to follow.  Like goats, deer are herd animals.  Besides, the bucks are going into rut and traffic is the last thing on their mind.

Wally World is again in the process of changing shelves and relocating departments.  I know it's a marketing ploy, but for someone like me who prefers to spend as little time as possible shopping, it's maddening.  I needed to buy yet another pair of shoes as the old ones bit the dust.  The department was in the same corner, but they'd completely reversed the sections.  I had no interest in cruising up and down aisles past high heels (they don't go well with bibbies and squirrel holes) and baby slippers (long past the need for those!).  It pays to keep a pair ahead so I've got clean go-to-town shoes when the barn shoes give out.  I'd also like to have words with the store buyer.  Why would they have baking soda in the baking department and not stock baking powder?  Hmmm.

I decided when I started writing about the farm and country living to keep that the focus of the blog.  I am well aware of what is happening out in the "real" world, and have strong, passionate opinions.  Reported news can make me furious or bring me to tears (like yesterday), and sometimes make me laugh, but this is not the venue for my reactions.  I don't twit or tweet, whatever.  There's always FB if I need to rant.  I prefer to put my energies where I can hopefully affect a change, unless it's the ground squirrels and I can't do much about them.  I have all the day-to-day drama I can deal with right here.

I'm having a difficult time typing right now as Ralph is on my lap and I have to reach around him.  Oh, that Ralph!

Monday, October 2, 2017

High Tech

I do move with the times, albeit slowly.  Were it not for Deb and Craig, I might not yet have a cell phone.  I love the new flat-screen TVs, but I still have a couple of ancient behemoths in the house, as well.  I have a computer, of course, but no laptop or iPod.  I can relate to the guy living up the hill on the other side of the road:  when we moved up here, he had a television antenna installed up at the very top of a tall pine tree, which I thought was pretty funny.  I see that has been replaced with a satellite dish, so he's moving along, too.  Whenever I get something new, the instruction manual becomes my best friend.  (Remember my trials with John Deere?)

The point of all this is, yesterday was sports day.  The Steelers-Ravens football game was on at the same time as the NASCAR race at Dover.  Thanks to technology, the remote control allowed me to switch back and forth instantly between the two events, slow down or speed up the action, put everything on hold, and replay something I might have missed, all at the touch of a button.  Boy, did I ever feel high tech!  Pretty amazing stuff for somebody who grew up, first without a television at all, and then going to my sister's house to watch Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians or Gorgeous George, the wrestler, on a 6" round screen.  I think there were only three channels then, but my brother-in-law was a fanatic channel changer who drove the rest of us batty as he constantly was getting up and flipping through all three.  I didn't get one for a long time, but I thought just having a remote control was a pretty neat innovation, and yesterday I sure made use of mine.

My chair is a great vantage point to see the herb garden and front yard.  Before I went to the barn in the morning, a couple of big dogs traveled through the yard and then came around to check out the deck.  That's when Bessie saw them and went nuts.  I did not let her out.  The dogs had business elsewhere and went on down the driveway.  A little later, I caught movement in the herb garden just off the front porch and thought the dogs had come back.  No, it was a doe and her twin fawns!  There was a time when herds of deer would cruise through the property, now it's rare to see even one or two, so this was pretty special.

The Steelers won big time, and Clint Bowyer came in 6th.  It was a good day.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

It's Official

Ralph has been at it again, only more so.  What I thought of as the guest room has now officially become Ralph's room.  When my granddaughter who is autistic would come to visit, she would give Grandma a hug and then disappear into this room and it was then known as Taylor's room.  She preferred the quiet rather than the noise of a family gathering, and I kept a supply of soft stuffed toys in the closet for her.  It was her sanctuary.  Once I had a "real" guest staying when Taylor came up and Tay was told she couldn't go in "her" room.  Desolated, she lay in the hall in front of the door, hoping we'd change our minds, poor girl.

At any rate, Ralph is changing the decor of "his" room to suit his taste.  I used to have a small bowl filled with potpourri in there.  Ralph thought that was too frou-frou for such a manly man as himself and emptied it all over the floor.  I don't know what he has against the small throw rug or the comforter, but obviously they have to go.  If I were to have a "real" guest staying, Ralph would probably throw himself on the floor by the door, a la Taylor.

Yesterday was spent in the kitchen, cutting up pears, pears, and more pears.  I'm about halfway through the box.  What madness overcame me when I took the 25 pounds, I don't know.  One would think I'd learned my lesson when I spent days cutting up tomatoes, but no.  Obviously not.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Getting Squirrely

Raggedy Ann beat Turk to the breakfast bar yesterday and didn't wait for a by-your-leave to start filling her cheeks.  Not the best photo because of the shade of the oak, her torn ear is on her right, the tip in shreds.

Later in the day, Stump was back at (and on) her post.  One wouldn't think these little creatures who race and tear around most of the day would be capable of such intense concentration for such lengthy periods of time.

Once in a great while and never in large numbers, the big, beautiful grey tree squirrels will put in an appearance.  It seems my road has pockets of microclimates, with different plant and animal life as the elevation changes.  Cam has no ground squirrels at all at her place at the bottom of the road.  I keep telling her I have more than enough and am willing to share, but so far she's declined my offer.  Beau lives the better part of a mile up the road past me and tree squirrels abound there, and no ground squirrels at all.  How'd I get to be the lucky one?!  Camille has pine trees with maybe one or two oaks.  My ratio of trees is exactly opposite.  Beau has only pines.  One wouldn't think such a short distance would make such a difference, but it surely does.

My days and nights are getting mixed up, possibly due to later sunrises and earlier sunsets.  (How I dread the time change.)  I'm one of those people who, when my eyes open, cannot go back to sleep and the thought of just lying there...no.  Getting up at 3 a.m. is just nuts, but, in Beau's words, what're ya gonna do?  That means I need a nap during the day.  Yesterday's snooze was longer than usual and put an end to my pie plans.  Sigh.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tree For Two

Turk has started bringing a friend for breakfast under the oak.  Turk evidently gave me a good rating, as Raggedy Ann (maybe it's Raggedy Andy) also comes running when I call, shows no fear, and starts to chow down as soon as I throw the seed.  Gender is arbitrary when it comes to squirrels and I assign as it suits me.  Raggedy Ann is so named because of an ear that has been shredded at the tip; she evidently got into it with another.  I'd hate to see what the other guy looks like.

True to form, I put off the pears again.  I didn't feel quite so bad when Camille told me she hadn't done anything yet with her twenty-five pounds, either.  We procrastinators have to stick together.  Today is definitely going to be the day (she said with a show of bravado).  There's only me here, and why I got so many pears is anyone's guess.  I don't seem to be able to do things by halves.  I once made thirteen apple pies in a day, and the last time I made fruitcake I made sixty pounds' worth.  (Don't tell the Kids, but they may be getting pear cake for Christmas.)

Drying up a goat is a slow process.  I'm milking less and less each day from Tess, just enough to relieve the tension, as a weaning kid would do.  Pretty soon her hormones will tell her milk production isn't needed any more.  It isn't good to quit cold turkey as it leaves the doe vulnerable to mastitis.

Beau stopped by yesterday.  He's been doing some remodeling on his house and took a break and came cruising around on his quad.  I enjoy his visits and it gave me another excuse not to work on the pears.

It was another warm day, but there was a good breeze to keep it comfortable.  Weather Guy says it's going to cool off by tomorrow and stay cool for at least the next week.  After this summer, that's welcome news.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Visiting Day

The goats are my early warning system.  As I finished up in the barn, I heard their snorts of alarm.  All eyes were looking toward the house and ears were forward.  Just because I couldn't see anything didn't mean nothing was there.  I've learned to trust a goat.  Sure enough, when I neared the house, Bessie Anne was playing with a guest, a dog I recognized and who should not have been out on her own.  (I was just glad it wasn't another skunk.)  Memories of Faye, the old black Labrador retriever who came visiting often, came flooding back.  I put a leash on this well-behaved dog, gave her a drink of water, and we sat on the porch while I put in a call to her mama.  It's only when a strange dog is a threat to my livestock that I call Animal Services.  I normally have a sit-down spell after coming up from the barn so it was no hardship to sit on the porch while we waited for the dog's owner to pick up "Houdini."  This wasn't the first time the dog had escaped from her fenced yard, but the first time she'd made her way up here.

I did some visiting of my own when I went to the Senior Center for lunch (I'm a sucker for salmon).  I'm really glad Camille talked me into taking advantage of this service.  Cam goes frequently, and I've started going maybe once a month.  There are no fast-food restaurants in the area, and where could one get a protein, starch, fresh vegetable, and fruit for three dollars?  This isn't school cafeteria food, either.  Another plus is meeting new people.  I tend to be reclusive and I really need to get out more. 

Home again, I buckled down and finished the paperwork that has been plaguing me for the last week.  Ta da!  Now I'm ready to take on the twenty-five pounds of pears that have been waiting.  They've been sitting in a box on the porch, and yesterday it was discovered that I'm not the only one who likes pears.  Squirrels have been visiting and helping themselves to a nibble here and there.  Sorry kids, these are mine.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Anticlimax

First thing in the morning, I went down (without Bessie) to see if Pepe Le Peau was still under the deck.  He was not.  I looked in every corner and under everything Steve had stashed there.  I walked all the way around the house (which is built into a hill and not as easy as it sounds) and there was no sign of him.  I wouldn't have given that little sick skunk a snowball's chance in hell of surviving the night.  He'd been so weak the day before he could barely lift his head.  While I would like to know for sure, my assumption is that something came in the night and carried the body away.  I called off Animal Services.

When I let Bess out later in the morning, she gave no sign of smelling our intruder.  She may be half blind and stone deaf, but her nose still works!   Dave, my buddy at Animal Services, called to ask about the situation.  I described the skunk's behavior and he immediately said, "Distemper."  Oh, great.  I asked how distemper was transmitted, worried about Bess, but he said it was through saliva and I knew she hadn't been bitten; her attack had been from the other end of the skunk.  Also, Bess is up to date on her shots.  Dave also thought a wild thing had taken Pepe, as distemper is a mostly fatal disease.

The weather had warmed up and a strong north wind blew, which was a good thing for a change because I could open the doors to air out the house.  Once in awhile I still get a whiff, but that gawdawful smell is mostly gone now.  If you've never smelled skunk up close and personal, be glad.

After the drama of the day before and being on high alert in the morning, I didn't do much but nap off and on yesterday and didn't feel a bit guilty.  Wasn't a drum-roll ending, but I'm just glad it was over.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Going In Circles

Finally, a day I could concentrate on and hopefully finish the paperwork that had me going in circles.  Around noon, Bess and I went out on the deck for a breather.  I located Stump under the pine, evidently her new digs (and I do mean digs), checked the slope to the woods for predators in the weeds, and looked over to what should have been the empty chicken pen.  Empty, that is, except for the many ground squirrels that use it as a play yard.  Hmmm, that's an awfully big squirrel.  Then said squirrel turned and I saw the white stripes.  Well, isn't that just great.  We haven't had skunks in the area for ages, for which I've been grateful.  In the case of skunks, Bess is a slow learner and got herself skunked (sprayed) seven times in one year.  Keeping an eye on Pepe Le Peau (the romantic French skunk in Walt Disney's 1945 cartoons), I noticed he wasn't looking for a way out, he was just running laps, going in circles.  He'd made about twenty circuits when I called Animal Services.  This was not normal behavior and, with skunks, one worries about distemper and rabies.  Of course, like the tooth that stops aching as soon as you get in the dentist's chair, while I was talking to the nice lady, Pepe disappeared.  "Call me back if you see him again."

With the immediate danger gone (I figured Pepe had gone off into the woods or out in the fields), Bessie and I went out to the sunny end of the deck.  We were quietly enjoying the warmth when Bess took off like a shot and around the corner.  Oh crum!  I went after her and heard rustling behind the hedge in front of the house, but Bess was in the walkway and I thought she'd just gotten a whiff of the intruder.  I was reaching for her collar when she ran to the other end of the hedge.  Need I say it?  Bess backed out shaking her head and stinking to high heaven and I grabbed her and put her in the house (big mistake, but I had no option).  I had to see where Pepe would go.  As I was calling Animal Services again, Pepe lay down, obviously ill.  This time I got the answering machine, oh goody.  Just then my milk customer drove up and scared Pepe, who went off around the corner of the deck.  It would have been funny, but I wasn't laughing.  I told Milk Guy not to let Bess out and I followed the skunk, who had holed up under the stairs to the deck.

Left alone and trying to get the smell off, Bess had rubbed on all the furniture in the living room, along the wall in the hallway, and around the bed in the bedroom.  The house absolutely reeked.  I quickly concluded my business with Milk Guy (who is a great talker) and hustled him out the door.  I needed to get Bess into a bath!  This was easier said than done, as the front bathroom has glass doors around the tub and the tub in my bathroom is exceptionally deep.  Smallish as she is, Bess is no lightweight.  It was hard enough to get her into the tub, but lifting a dripping wet dog up and out was almost impossible, but I struggled and got it done.  I had used the magic deskunker formula (water, hydrogen peroxide, and Dawn dish soap) on Bess and sprayed the house with Febreze.  It helped, but there's still enough odor to make your eyes water.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as they say, I went back to going in circles of my own with the ferschluggen paperwork, going out periodically (without Bess) to make sure that Pepe was staying put.  The poor creature was obviously sick and probably dying.  He moved to a couple of places, but stayed under the deck.  Nearing the end of work hours, I again called Animal Services and got a real person.  They'd evidently not listened to my message where I'd left my house phone number and address.  They had called the cell phone, but I don't answer calls with "No caller ID" as they're usually robocalls.  It was, of course, too late to send anyone out by then.

Bessie still has the scent of skunk on her, as Ralph approaches her cautiously, sniffs at her face, and walks away loudly saying the cat equivalent of "Whew, you stink!"

Until Pepe is removed, when Bess has to go out on a potty run, she goes out on a leash (as we did in the dark at 5:30 this morning).

It was, if not good, a very eventful day.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Another Change

It won't happen right away, but my days as a milker are coming to an end and what a change that will be.  I've decided to dry up Tessie, leaving only Sheila to produce, and who knows how long she'll continue.  These three girls, including Inga, probably hold some record for giving milk the longest time without being bred.  Dairy goats and cattle are usually bred annually for continued production, and these does haven't seen (or smelled!) a buck in years.  I have mixed feelings about this.  In a way, it will be a relief to spend less time in the heat and cold in the barn, and my hands certainly need a rest.  I've been milking for seventeen years, after all.  However, I will miss the closeness of working with the goats on a daily basis, sitting by their side every morning.  I like that they are "earning their keep," even though the little I charge for their milk in no way pays for their feed.  They are expensive "pets."  These girls were born on Farview and will live out their lives here, regardless.

Either Raymond and Rhonda have left the nest or Stump has given up trying to get them to mind.  She hasn't been at her post for days, and I haven't seen the kids, either.  Of course, when they're grown, it's hard to tell one squirrel from another.  I did finally find Stump yesterday.  She's moved over to the shade under a pine tree close to the deck, but she was alone.  I wonder if squirrel mamas suffer from separation anxiety or give a sigh of relief when the youngsters leave home.

As predicted, I spent the day at the computer, trying to remember formulae for creating a spread sheet.  Aarrgh.

While still spectacular, with the cooler weather it seems to me there was a change in the colorful sunset last evening.  There wasn't the blaze as there was during the heat wave, but more of a glow.  I can deal with that.

Computer notwithstanding, it was a good day.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Always Some Good

With cooler weather, the level in the wild things' water pot doesn't drop as fast, but I still check every morning to make sure there isn't a floater in there; hasn't been one for quite awhile now.  (That isn't on everyone's chore list, I'm sure.)

After finishing in the barn yesterday I went down to Cam's to take her up on the offer of more grapes and some tomatoes for Pete, and to pick up the smoked salmon she'd gotten for me at the big box store.  (Love these personal shoppers.  I put in an order and voila!)  I'd no more gotten home when she called to tell me I'd forgotten my half of the fifty pounds of pears she'd bought at Boa Vista Orchard up at Apple Hill.  Cam was going out on errands and brought them by.  I am now the proud possessor of twenty-five pounds of pears that I'm going to have to do something with.  I'm thinking pear tarts, pear bread, and, of course, pear butter.  I used to make pear strudel, but it doesn't freeze well.  I'd planned to share some pears with Pete, too.

My modus operandi when company is coming is to take on the most obvious need first; in my case always is the kitchen.  Still not here?  I move on down the list.  Still no sign?  I keep on going.  Thus my day went (with a few breaks outside to enjoy the mild weather) until Pete called about 2 to say something had come up and he couldn't make it.  These things happen, but with my list whittled down, some good came out of it.

That smoked salmon that I'd planned to share had been calling to me all day.  That and Gorgonzola crackers made an oh-so-good dinner...with grapes for dessert.

I got a preview last night of what winter will be like when I turned over in bed and almost fell out.  The cats had pushed me over to the very edge.  Again.

It's back to paperwork and the computer today.  The only good thing I can think of with that is that it will be done.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Blurred Around The Edges

With the exception of a couple of forays out into the sunshine to warm up(!) and give my mind a rest, yesterday went by in a blur of paper and computer work.  I absolutely love a comment on FB about a sign hung over a calendar that said, "WARNING.  Dates are closer than they appear."  I need that sign; it's the story of my life.  (Another apropos comment sent to me by a cousin said, "I dusted.  It came back.  Not going to fall for that again."  Obviously, my reputation precedes me.)

I'd like to find the gremlin who steals and hides the one critical piece of paper that I just had in my hand and then cannot find; I'd throttle the little booger and then hide the body.  "How d'ya like them apples?"  Ralph is in cahoots with said gremlin.  He cannot stand it when there are papers spread out on the table and takes great delight in pushing them off and watching them float to the floor.  Aarrgh!

It snowed in the Sierras again yesterday for the second day (in September!) and when I had a chance to look, I could see awesome mountainous white clouds with dark underbellies behind the hills to the east.  Weatherman keeps saying it will be in the 90s this week, but it didn't climb out of the 60s here all day.  I weakened last night and put the comforter on the bed.  Even the cats were happy.

Pete is coming up today and I'll get a break, but Monday I'll be back at the computer.  Oh goody.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Another View

Up, down, and all around, I am surrounded by beauty here.  This was the view from the milking room yesterday morning, the sun backlighting the clouds.  Later in the day, Bess and I enjoyed a similar scene over the hills to the south.

It was the coldest day yet and I wasn't the only one feeling the chill.  The cats took turns sitting on my lap for warmth and this was my view any time I was in the chair.  A week ago, I couldn't have tolerated this.

I seriously considered putting the comforter back on the bed last night, but high temps are predicted by the weekend and I'd just have to take it off again.  I needn't have worried.  The cats who had been sleeping all over the bed in summer draped themselves near or on my feet all night for our mutual comfort.

Nothing exciting and, other than the views, nothing spectacular.  It was a good day.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

On Hold

Two days ago I put three things to accomplish on the board; I have yet to cross off even one.  A trip to town always puts a crimp in my ambition (excuse #1).  Yesterday was bill-paying day.  Before I could start, I discovered a significant discrepancy in my check register.

Math is not and never has been my forte.  Knowing this, I took a dumbbell math class my freshman year in high school, none my sophomore year, and then transferred to a boarding school where four years of mathematics were required for graduation.  Well, that was a pickle.  The school decided that three years would suffice and they put me in Sister Mary Louise's algebra class.  I don't think that was the cause, but I came down with an illness and spent eight out of the first fifteen days of school in Miss Frith's infirmary and missed the basics of algebra and never caught up.  At the end of the year, Sr. Louise gave me the lowest grade possible without failing me entirely and the school decided that, for me, two years of math were enough.  I'm pretty sure Sr. Louise convinced them just so she wouldn't have to deal with me further.  Years later when I was in college, I took several basic math classes, but when it comes to numbers I have a Teflon brain and nothing sticks.

At any rate, it took hours to go back months and recalculate to find my numerical error before even starting to pay bills.  It had been overcast and cold(!) all day.  Nature really flipped the switch on weather.  A week ago it was well into the 90s; yesterday it barely reached 70 outside and a jacket was mandatory in the house. 

Hoping that the long wait times had been a fluke, I called my home buyer's insurance company with the intent of putting in a complaint and then cancelling my policy.  They weren't the only game in town and could be replaced.  I outsmarted Ms. Snotty, the robo-voice, by choosing "Pay bills," knowing that a real person would be there, eager to take money.  Ha!  Not so "ha," as it took three transfers and two and a half hours on hold to reach a supervisor.  Whoever called me stubborn doesn't know the half of it.  It became a challenge and I don't like to lose.  Thank goodness for wireless phones.  I had time and was able to go to the bathroom, heat and eat a dinner of leftovers, watch TV, let the dog out and back in any number of times, and wait, and wait, and wait.

Let's just say I was locked and loaded by the time Supervisor Charles came on the line.  Had Charles been anything but calm, apologetic, and placatory, I would have hit him with both barrels.  As it was, he explained that the company was dealing with the aftermath of the two hurricanes in a number of states and the claims that were pouring in.  He listened when I questioned the lack of service companies under contract in our area, and being told I had to find one on my own.  He agreed that no technician would sit on hold for an hour waiting for authorization, and said they were working to rectify the problem.  In the end, Charles would reimburse me for the cost of the fan and gave me his email address for any future complaints.  Since a number of appliances are over twenty years old, I decided to maintain my policy.  Just shows what a good rep can do.

Oh, about six o'clock last evening, it started to rain!  It's a good thing I'd rinsed off the truck before going to town or it would have been a muddy mess.  The girls were more than eager to get inside at bedtime and made that job a lot easier.

Since life as I know it was put on hold yesterday, I have things to do today

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Changes

The coming of fall and cooler weather brings a new set of chores.  Things that had been left undone or done less often must be caught up.  During the extreme heat it wasn't worth my life to stay in the barn and clean stalls every day, so I had my work cut out for me yesterday after milking.  I made my apologies to the girls.  The leaf blower is charging now, so I know what the job will be today.  I've promised myself to stay ahead on that this year.  Or not.

It was cool enough to sit at the sunny end of the deck in the morning for a change.  The garlic chives (the only plants that Robert and Bobby haven't destroyed) are almost through blooming, but the bees still visit the flowers.  I wonder, as always, if orange blossom honey tastes of orange and lavender honey comes from those plants, what does garlic honey taste like?  Eeeuw.  The naked ladies (pink amaryllis) under the oak are also fading now.  They're always such a surprise, springing up out of plain dirt without benefit of green leaves.  Those will come later.

Like it or not, a trip to town for supplies was on the menu yesterday.  It was the first time in months that I didn't need the a/c in the truck and I didn't melt into the pavement as I made my stops.  Halloween candy on the shelves at Wally World was expected.  I've been checking the nursery section periodically, looking for African violets to replace those that, after all these years, succumbed to the heat and died this summer.  What I did not expect was to see Christmas trees in that department.  I think that's pushing the season a bit.  A shipment of violets had just come in and I bought two.  They are such happy flowers.

Cruising the aisles (it makes me a crazy person when stores change the shelves around and I can't go directly where things used to be), the thought of jambalaya came to me and Zatarain's makes a well-seasoned rice base.  Shrimp and kielbasa were also available.  It's definitely more fun to cook for and eat with someone, so I called Cam.  She'd been cleaning her barn all day and was ready for dinner; she was here in half an hour.

The seasons are definitely changing.  Six o'clock and no sign of dawn yet.  Sitting in a robe instead of sweltering is a welcome change.  I can deal with that.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Looking Rosy

If it looks like I'm blushing, I'm not.  That rosy tinge comes from another day of dicing a mountain of tomatoes and making another batch of marinara sauce.  I will be so glad to have those bags of sauce in the freezer this winter, but right now I think that if I see Beau pull up with another gift of those red globes I will lock the door and hide.

The first thing I saw in the morning was two young doelings on the slope down to the woods.  Too big to be called fawns, but still petite, they looked enough alike to possibly be twins.  In nearly twenty years, I have never tired of seeing deer on the property.

Turk is getting braver and braver.  He used to hide behind the tree when I called his name and just peek around the edge.  Now he waits up on the bird feeder platform or on the ground where he knows I throw the seed, doesn't run away at all, and even looks me in the eye before starting his breakfast as if to say thank you.

If I was going to have to spend time in the kitchen, at least this time the weather cooperated.  It was cool, bordering on chilly, with overcast skies most of the day.  In fact, I closed doors last night that haven't been shut in months.

Remnants of clouds made for a spectacular rosy sunset, another view from Farview that never fails to take my breath away.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Home Front

I have few overnight guests anymore, but I do like to keep the room ready just in case.  Ralph rearranges the bed to suit himself.  Let's just say we have differing views on how to make it neat and tidy.  Mother's little helper isn't helping.

I stopped at Cam's on the way to the store yesterday.  She has a fence line of grape vines and is overloaded with these very small but oh-so-sweet, what seem to be Thompson seedless.  She's not sure of the variety.  She has shared with me in the past and I was more than happy to take some (okay, a lot).

Ingredients for egg fu yung looked particularly fresh and good at the store so even though they weren't on my list, they went into the cart.  Camille had said she'd bought pork chops, so when I got home I called and told her we could combine and I'd cook dinner (after NASCAR, of course) and she accepted.  My meat thermometer was on the blink and the chops were overdone, but the veg pancakes made up for that.

Most of the day was spent just futzing around.  All quiet on the home front.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Different View

Cats are such quirky critters.  Celeste evidently wanted a different view of Farview yesterday.  She lay on her back, eyes open, adjusting her position now and then and looking at her world upside down.  How I wish we had better communication.  What was she thinking?

When it was so hot I put throw blankets on both recliners.  It was necessary because sitting on the faux leather for even a short while made your backside sweaty, most unpleasant.  The cats avoided the bare chairs, but now have reclaimed one for themselves.  Ralph, especially, curls up often in the big chair for naps.  He's another one with whom I'd like to have a conversation.  For no apparent reason, he'll occasionally walk through the hall, talking up a storm.  Last evening, he woke from a nap and began to talk...about what?  Did he have a bad dream?  Where is Dr. Doolittle when I need him?

Stump is apparently training Rhonda as a stand-in sentry.  Rhonda was at the station, assuming the upright position.  Raymond declined the responsibility.  Since these little creatures are, at most, maybe eight inches tall, their view must be fairly limited, but they take their job very seriously.  I'm pleased that loudmouth Shaddup has moved from his place so close to the house and out to one of the granite boulders in the front yard.  At least his high-pitched yip isn't as piercing at a distance.

The cool(er) weather continues.  Yay!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

For The Birds

There are few birds more graceful in the sky than vultures.  They are so impressive when they assume the regal heraldic pose with wings spread while sitting on a post.  However, they become awkward and comedic when they try to perch on the power lines.  Like a beginner tightrope walker, the big birds teeter back and forth, trying to balance and not lose their grip.  They're not always successful, but sure are fun to watch.  More and more are arriving daily, gathering for the migration east, and there aren't enough posts to perch on.  Twenty-plus are sitting in the tree over the barn every morning now, and there were nearly fifty circling on the thermals yesterday.

Grape growers put high fences around their property to keep deer out of the vineyards.  I'm glad they finally gave up on the sound cannons that boomed so loud in the morning.  I think the deer got used to the noise and ignored it; I never did.  The growers are still losing grapes, though, and I know who the culprits are; turkeys.  The grapes must be close to harvest time because I find grape skins in turkey scat everywhere these days.  Turkeys roost 50-60 feet up in the trees at night, so an 8-foot fence means nothing to them.  I'm sure the little birds steal their share, too, ignoring the fluttering strips of Mylar some growers string up.

Shhh!  I don't want to jinx it, but I think fall has arrived.  It never got out of the low 70s yesterday, and even lower temps are predicted for this week.  Nature could be teasing us, but I'm sure enjoying this weather now.  It was cool enough to hang laundry on the line and warm enough to dry even the bibbies.  A good portion of the day was spent peeling and cutting the big butternut squash.  They make you work for your dinner with their tough, hard skin and firm flesh.  This squash was really large and I was able to bag and freeze most of it.  The rest made a luscious dinner.

I waited until I was sure Ralph was asleep in the living room before putting clean sheets on the bed, but somehow he knew and came in for a rousing game of hide-and-seek and chase the wrinkles.  Crazy cat.  For the first time in a long time I put the blanket back on the bed, and this morning in the dark Ralph crawled into the cat cave to snuggle by my belly.

It was a good day.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Grey Day...Yay!

After what seemed like interminable days of heat, a misty morning was a most welcome sight.  (Remind me of this when I'm wondering if we'll ever see the sun again this winter.)  It was a pleasure to put on a work shirt over a tank top even before going to the barn, it was that cool.  The girls were feeling pretty frisky, too.  Ironically, after giving that good advice yesterday, when I brought Sheila around, she dropped a load of raisinettes on the stand.  She must have peed in her stall and I didn't get the warning.  There were four frantic mousies in the grain barrel.  Back in the day, there were small hand-held games with a number of BBs to try to put in little holes.  Trying to capture those mice with a yogurt cup as they raced around was a lot like that game.  I eventually caught three to toss out and the fourth tried to burrow in and hide.  That one I picked up by the tail.  I don't have to leave home to find amusement.

Beau, the local vegetable pusher, came by and talked me into another basket of tomatoes (I see more marinara coming) and a big butternut squash.  As I told him, I love butternut squash and have in the past made squash risotto, or at least thought about it at times.  The problem is that when the caramelized squash comes out of the oven, I eat it before getting around to starting the rice.  How very nice it is to have a generous neighbor with a garden.

The sun did break through, but the breeze continued throughout the day, and that shirt felt good again at sundown.  It was a good day.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Of Course

With a new ceiling fan installed, of course the temperature dropped a good 20 degrees.  Nature has such a wicked sense of humor.  It was actually pleasant walking down to the barn and I didn't drip one drop of sweat while milking; how's that for a change.  (Just as an aside, if you're leading a goat somewhere and she stops to pee, don't get in a hurry because she's guaranteed to drop a load of pellets right afterward.  One of those things you learn the hard way.)

Each delivery of alfalfa is like Forrest Gump's "box of chocklits," you never know what you're going to get.   Sometimes, depending on the time of year and where it was grown, it's the next best thing to straw, nothing much but dry stems with a few leaves.  The prior load was loose leaves only and the flakes fell apart, very difficult to handle.  This current batch is perfect:  small stems, green leaves, and big chunky flakes to throw over the fence.  Right now the girls are getting two flakes a day, filling up any empty spots with the dry grasses in their pens.  Come winter when the ground is bare, I'll up their feed to three.  That's in addition to their bowl of chow in the morning and a snack at night.  Their weight remains steady on this diet and Tess and Sheila continue to produce milk.

Bess and I went to the "cookie store."  She doesn't care why I am going, she only knows that's where she'll get two cookies (milk bones).  She checks carefully when I get back in the truck.  "Put 'em here, Mom, right here (on the console)."  Bess won't touch them then, but when we get home and she jumps down, she turns in expectation to get her treat.  She eats that one, then comes into the house and looks for the second cookie.  And then of course, she wants the lamb treat that always comes when she's gone for a ride in the truck.  Who says I'm not trainable?

Cam and Honey stopped by in the afternoon and we all went out on the deck to enjoy the delta breeze that had blown in and watch Stump and the kids, as well as five huge tom turkeys that marched by.  There was a thunder storm over the mountains, and with each clap of thunder the turkeys set up a racket.  Evidently turkeys don't like thunder.

From the dampness on the deck (it's just now light enough to see), I gather we got a sprinkling of rain last night.  Of course we did...I didn't unload the grain from the truck yesterday.  Some things are just inevitable.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Back In Business

My neighbor Beau may never stop by again.  He dropped in yesterday morning to see if I might have a timing light, have a cold drink and a chat.  He, of course, noted that the house was hotter than Hades.  I explained I was in the process of hunting for an electrician (I'd already made two more calls).  "Why didn't you call me?!"  I knew Beau was an electrician, but also that he was up to his eyeballs in work on his house, and then there was the fact that my costs would not be reimbursed.  "Well, I'm going to check it out anyhow," and the next thing I knew he was up on a ladder and asking for screwdrivers.  "Call Helper Dude and see if he can come over for a few minutes."  Taking down a big ceiling fan is a two-man job and I was useless.  HD's job for the day had been cancelled so he came right away.  "The motor is shot," said Beau.  "I'm going into town today, do you want me to pick up a new fan for you?"  This thing was getting out of control, but when the Fates smile on you, you go with it and, as my dad would say, "It's just money."  "Yes, please."  I put the telephone books away.

Beau sent me photos of a couple of choices (isn't technology grand?), and I said I liked the one on the bottom.  Cam came by just before Beau came back...with the other fan.  He showed me the photos on his phone and sure enough, the order was switched.  The thought of moving air overrode esthetics and I was happy enough.  Helper Dude came back and the guys worked together to get the new fan installed.  Ta da!  Back in business again!

Everyone left just as it was time to put the kids to bed.  Even Beau exclaimed about the gorgeous sunset.  He lives just up the road, but his house is surrounded by pine trees and he doesn't get this view.

It was another of those evenings when the sky to the east was as beautiful as it was to the west.

Walking back into the house where the fan was running and the air was moving was quite wonderful.  Ahhh!  I know it wasn't how Beau had planned to spend his day, but I am so grateful that he came by.  I no longer qualify as a damsel, but I was definitely in distress.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On Hold

When a thing starts to go wrong, odds are it will continue in that direction.  It's not just water that goes downhill.  Temperatures climbed back up into the 90s on Sunday and again yesterday.  On Sunday, the ceiling fan in the living room went kaput.  I've carried insurance for twenty years just for such an eventuality, and I put in a call.  The call was answered by an automated voice, a voice with attitude.  "Say the type of appliance that needs service."  "Ceiling fan."  "Ceiling heater fan, is that right?"  "No, ceiling fan."  "Ceiling heater fan, is that right?"  "NO! Ceiling fan!"  She didn't care for my attitude, either.  "You wish to end this call, is that right?"  "NO!  Representative!"  That wasn't one of the options she'd given, and she hung up on me.  If I hadn't really needed to get the air moving, I might have given up, but I was desperate so made the call again to Ms. Snotty.  I had her number by then and started right off with, "Representative," and kept repeating until she gave up and connected me to a real live person after a 30-minute time out on hold.  That person assigned the order to a company in Lake Tahoe.  Lake Tahoe is a good two hours away!  "Is there no one closer to me, say like Placerville, Jackson, or even Sacramento?"  "No.  They'll be in touch."  And so I sat in a pool of sweat and waited.

There was no call back on Sunday.  Before going to the barn yesterday, I phoned again to check the status.  After another "discussion" with Ms. Snotty and another 30 minutes on hold, I gave up and went to tend the girls.  The air in the living room was stifling after chores.  I had no choice but to try again.  Do you know how ridiculous it is to sit alone in a room and shout at a recorded voice?  After 35 minutes on hold (Ms. Snotty knew how to get revenge),when Representative answered, I was told that Lake Tahoe had declined the honor and that Dispatch was trying to find a company closer to Fair Play.  Well, duh.  If I hadn't heard anything by the afternoon, I was to call back.  Aarrgh!

Ms. Snotty punished me with a 45-minute wait this time, but I knew what to expect.  Representative informed me that there were no local companies under contract and the solution was for me to find a service and, if I followed a very strict and involved set of rules and pay for the repairs/replacement myself, I would be reimbursed.  Oh goody.

The company I'd dealt with in the past had gone out of business, so I called another number from the book.  The nice man said he had a two-week waiting list, had no recommendations for anyone else, and suggested I try Googling electricians in the area.  I gave up.  As Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.  In the meantime, life as I know it is on hold.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Probably Not

Percy and his crew will probably never get Farview declared a national wonder like Carlsbad Caverns, but it won't be for lack of trying.  "Giant excavations created totally by squirrel power!"  And how do I know the gang is still active?  Because current holes are getting bigger and new holes appear.  This one started out just big enough for a squirrel to squeeze through from the play yard into the milking room.  Ta da!  They must be so proud.  The broomstick hides the secret entrance to an underground tunnel leading who knows where.

This rather elaborate creation began as a mouse run from Tessie's room.  One of the crew obviously has artistic ambitions.
 This last big one (oh, there are others!) is a more utilitarian escape hatch not only dug out, but the wall has been chewed through to the big room.  Is it any wonder that I think someday the entire hilltop will sink three feet?  Probably not.  Will the furry workers ever quit their incessant digging?  Probably not.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

For Pete's Sake

My phone rang just as I was putting Tessie up on the stand.  It was my son Pete.  "If your social calendar isn't full, I thought I might come up today."  For Pete's sake, or any other Kid, I would clear all entries on the calendar.  I did a quick mental inventory of freezers and cupboards and decided on baked pork chops.  Pete asked what he could bring.  "Anything green that you might like."  Pete, like Steve, has an aversion to green vegetables.  Steve thought I was out to do him in if I put peas or even innocuous green beans on the table.  Once I insisted that he pick something green for dinner.  "Okay, spinach noodles."  Pete suggested asparagus.  "You'd eat asparagus?!"  "Well, maybe one or two spears, but I know you like it."  No way would I turn down an offer like that.

Finishing up in the barn, I needed to spiff up the house.  I had dusted just the week before when Clay came up (I forgot to mention and give credit that Clay actually noticed that effort), but don't you know it was needed again; most thankless job there is.

Pete arrived with a loaded goody bag.  Not only was there asparagus, there were blueberries, black plums, white nectarines, bananas, and pistachios; a treasure trove of fresh and crunchy!  Because of my infrequent shopping trips, fresh produce is a real treat.  Hoping to please, I decided to grill the asparagus to keep it crisp and then drizzle with a little of the black truffle oil of which Pete is so fond.  Guess what?  It worked, and he ate every piece on his plate!

We spent the afternoon talking and it was a lovely visit.  After he'd gone, it was a Saturday NASCAR race and I took the obligatory NASCAR nap and, of course, missed the finish.  It should come as no surprise that I had a banana, a nectarine, and a plum for dinner.

It was a good day.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

What'cha Doin??

Some days I'd be hard pressed to explain if someone were to ask what I was doing.  Yesterday was a good example.  Coming back up the hill from the barn, I usually stop at the driveway to catch my breath, bent over, arms braced on my legs.  Not much to see in that position, but then I noticed that the long straw(?) in the middle of this photo was twitching.  The small red ant at the right end (click on the picture to enlarge) wanted that straw out of the way and it was going to happen come hell or high water.  Comparatively speaking, it was like a man trying to move a telephone pole by himself.  That ant pulled, pushed, lifted, and dragged that straw until I thought he'd get a hernia.  I must have stayed there watching this epic struggle for a good five minutes.  "What'cha doin'?"  "Oh, just watching an ant."  "Uh huh."

Rhonda and Raymond are reaching the adolescent stage.  They don't stay babies long and, like their human counterparts, they don't want to mind their mama anymore.  Raymond snuck out of the nursery at nap time, talked Ronda into coming with him, and they played tag until Stump caught them at it.  They gave her some sass before coming to her side.  They grow up so fast.  "What'cha doin'?"  "Oh, just watching the squirrels."  "Uh huh."

I don't even have to go outside to watch squirrels.  From my chair in the living room, I could see Robert, Bobby, and a group of cousins raid every potted plant on the deck.  "Hey, come try a taste of this one!"  They provide a lot of amusement, but I wish they weren't so destructive.

In the afternoon, Bess and I watched birds flutter and splash in the spray from the sprinkler.  Bluejays and woodpeckers took turns with the dinky birds in the birdbath.  They just had the best darned time.  I didn't see it, but last week Camille told me she'd seen a vulture taking a dip in the goats' water trough.  I knew they drank from it; I didn't know they bathed in it, too.  (Eeeuw.)

I didn't get a lot done yesterday.  I was busy watching.  Uh huh.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ahhh!

Yesterday the theme was from an old Alka-Seltzer commercial, "Oh, what a relief it is!"  There was a good twenty-degree drop in temperature all day and nothing could have been more welcome.  It was actually cool enough in the morning that a shirt would have felt good down in the barn, but I wanted to feel that chill on my skin.  Ahhh!

Every colony of ground squirrels has its own lookout.  A large group has moved in and under the burn pile and this sentry was posted on one of the bigger branches.  There are going to be a lot of displaced squirrels when it's safe enough to light the pile on fire.

I was waiting for the battery for the leaf blower to charge when Camille called, asking me to come down and take photos of a dog that was in her yard to post on the local Lost & Found page.  The small dog was lying under a bush, hardly moving.  Cam showed up with food and water and Dog gradually roused enough to stagger to its feet to eat and drink.  Poor little old girl was totally blind, bumping into the gate and posts, but her nose worked well and she found every bite of kibble and drank a whole bottle of water.  The question then was what to do with her.  After a long wait on hold, Animal Services' solution was to bring her to them; they wouldn't come out to get her.  Cam decided to take her up to the house and see if the FB notice got any response.  And it did, almost immediately.  Little dog's family had been searching for her all night and, in fact, had sent for reinforcements from the valley to help hunt.  Turns out that Abby was diabetic and had Cam not given her food and water, she would have undoubtedly died under that bush.  Abby had picked the right yard to collapse in, and Camille was the angel on the spot.  I love happy endings.

I got the deck swept clear of leaves.

It was a good day.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Getting Better

Far from cool, the temperatures did drop enough to notice yesterday; however, the humidity continued.  Being covered in a sheen of sweat is not my idea of fun, but as my neighbor says, "What're ya gonna do?"  It was a day to take care of piddly household chores and do a lot of watering.  Between the heat and then the loss of water, the poor plants had been sorely neglected.  I don't know if plants accept apologies, but I made a lot of them as I made my way along the deck.

September already.  Even though this summer seems to stretch on forever, we're in September and the year is slipping by.  The stores are putting out Halloween candy and decorations and the pumpkin patches down in the valley are advertising already.  (When did Hallowe'en lose its apostrophe, I wonder?)  There is a difference of opinion as to why the oaks are losing so many leaves now:  it could be because of the stress of the excessive heat or perhaps it is a premature fall.  I know for sure that I've got to blow the leaves off the deck soon if I have any hope of not being buried beyond hope.  Walking outside sounds like stepping on potato chips.

I wish there was a switch or button to turn off the goats' heat cycles when they're too old to breed.  In frustration, they get so cranky with each other.  Sheila gave poor Inga such a bash last night that it hurt me just to hear.  It's like PMS on steroids.  The one good thing is that it doesn't last too long.

I'm looking forward to the drop in temperature and the delta breeze that are promised for today.  Maybe I'll get something more than cleaning the litter box accomplished.  Or not.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Stump, etc.

Blue sky at dawn was the first I'd seen in days, but the smoke coming up from around Yosemite was lurking there behind the hills and the blue didn't last long.

Nature pulled a fast one.  The temperature dropped as promised, but the old gal upped the humidity to over 70% so yesterday wasn't any more comfortable.

Rats minus one in the morning.  They are such clever little beasties, I'm surprised they don't use bubble-wrap in the shed to make floaties when they go for a swim.  How lovely it was to have fresh water to wash out the pot.

Braveheart put in a very brief appearance yesterday, but even a glimpse was welcome.  I'll admit it, I am prejudiced in favor of mice.  Not in my house, of course.

At first, I didn't see Stump.  She wasn't at her regular post, but then I found her up in the shade.  She's no dummy.  Rhonda and Raymond were playing close by, but then, when Stump turned her back, that rascal Raymond made a dash to get a snack.  Stump called him to her, chastised him severely, and sent him to his room for a time-out.  Rhonda snickered like a goody-two-shoes.  Raymond was underground, so I couldn't hear his response to that.

The humidity was such that there were even a few raindrops on the windshield on my way to and from town, only enough to put polka-dots in the dust on the glass and only served to raise the humidity.

 I had to wait until Ralph was asleep in another room so I could change the sheets.  He has had such fun chasing wrinkles that he's put dozens of tiny rips in the top sheet.  I'm all for letting him have fun, but there are limits. 

My neighbor came by in the afternoon, wanting to borrow my cement mixer.  I told him he certainly could as I have no plans to use it, but it hasn't been run in many years.  I guess he took a look and decided against it, as it's just visible in the open shed.  Sigh.

There was still a touch of blue, as well as the haze, at sundown.