Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Coming And Going

If there is one thing you can count on in life, it is change.  There's no sense getting your britches in a bunch because as soon as you've worked up a good tizzy, the situation will change, maybe for the good or maybe worse, but it will change.  My family is in a state of flux (that's a close neighbor to the state of confusion).  Pete (middle son), who has lived so far away for so long, will be moving to the area within a month.  As he explained, he is not a "hill person," so plans to be within driving distance to Farview, but in a more urban area in the valley.  Hey, that works for me!

About the time I was celebrating getting all my chicks back in the nest, or at least in the same tree, Larry (youngest son) dropped the bomb that he is moving to Hawaii.  Hawaii??!!  Might as well be the moon.  He's got a job lined up and a place to stay, the whole nine yards.  I feel now as I did years ago when my daughter announced she was moving to Long Island.  I found it is possible to feel happy and devastated, proud and pitiful, at the same time.  I don't see my Kids all that often, but I know that should the need or wish arise, I could, as long as they're in California.

Regardless of where they live as adults, all my Kids are southern California kids at heart.  As when I moved to Sacramento, I wondered how I would cope so far away from the ocean.  Pete will have pangs of longing, and Larry will be in his element.  I understand.

Larry's news included the fact that he'll be gone in another week.  Aarrgh.  With so little notice, it's hard to get a goodbye party arranged with his siblings.  For crying out loud, I've still got a Christmas tree in the living room waiting for a couple of latecomers, and we all knew when Christmas was.  There's no chance Pete can make it, Dave has been working 10-hour days six days a week, and Deb and Craig have contracted for an important delivery, so Larry's farewell bash may be him, Clay, and me.  Ta da!

Coming and going, hello and goodbye.  Life is changing...again.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mother's Little Helper

("Mother's Little Helper," Rolling Stones, 1965)

I look in the guest room and, like Goldilocks, could ask, "Who's been sleeping in my bed?"  The answer is, no one.  Ralph has been at it again.  He looks at me with wide golden eyes and an innocent expression when accused and assures me he's "helping."  I've not actually seen him making (re-making) the bed, but I'm pretty sure he races down the hall, makes a slight right turn and a leap, and skids across, leaving everything in disarray.

He reminds me of when my Kids were little.  One time I was washing windows.  This was back in the day before there were the sprays, etc., that are one-step cleaners.  These were the vinegar-water and newspaper times that left the windows clean and your hands black.  I started in one room and worked my way through the house.  Finished with that onerous chore at last, I went back to admire the results and found that one of my Kids who shall remain nameless was "washing" the windows again:  this time with Vaseline.  It's easier to laugh than cry.

The Stones' song referred to a specific drug, Miltown, a tranquilizer that, at the time, no one realized was terribly addicting.  Many women took it for anxiety and became dependent, but that wasn't known then.  Four little Kids were cause for anxiety, even when they weren't "helping."  A friend gave me one Miltown to try and told me it worked wonders for her.  I did a system check and decided I wasn't anxious enough to warrant taking the pill just then and put it away in a box.  Periodically I would be ready to pull my hair out and would remember the Miltown.  "Is it time?"  That pill stayed in the box for years until it finally disintegrated.  So much for that.

Lest I've given the impression that these sunny days that have lured me outside were actually warm, let me say that there is still snow on the ground and even some on the deck, wherever there is shade.  It's all relative, and I'll take what I get and be glad that I've got it.

Excuse me, I've got a bed to straighten.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Little Off The Top

Did I mention that it was a very large tree that went down in the last storm?  This massive burn pile is just the tippy-top of the one-third that dropped to the north and only the branches blocking the driveway.  It took Helper Dude two days to cut and bring this amount up, and there are three sections of trunk and a forest of branches that haven't been touched.  That's what HD calls job security.  HD told me that the hole in the ground where the roots pulled up is over four feet deep.  I find it too depressing to go look.  That tree was home to many birds and deer rested in its shade in the heat of summer.  It's a great loss.

A couple of days of sunshine dried the mud somewhat and finally allowed me to get something done in the barn.  Neglected stalls were cleaned and trenches were re-dug in anticipation of the rain due on Wednesday (aarrgh).  Dirt had washed down, making doors and gates almost impossible to open, so I cleared that away.  There's a fine line between slush and cement with this decomposed granite and I needed to dig while I could.

I really needed a sunshine fix, so Bess and I sat on the deck soaking up the rays for awhile after chores.  Later in the afternoon, on some pretext or another, we went outside again and we spent time clearing almost all the weeds left in the lavender bed and reshaping the lavender plants.  Still later (I think I'd stepped out to bring in some firewood), the herb garden demanded attention.  Marjoram is a fairly low-growing plant, but it sends up long stems with lovely purple clusters that become so straggly when the flowers die.  Bess supervised while I did some trimming.  (Any excuse to stay outside is a good one.)

It was a day that started well and ended the same way.  It was a good day.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Make My Day

And the saga went on.  The power steering problem continued yesterday so there was nothing for it but to call for a tow truck to get my vehicle to the shop.  And then I waited.  GPS is a wonderful device, but it is just a little out of whack.  I don't know how many times I've told others, "Use your GPS to get into the area, but then follow my directions for the last stretch or you'll be lost."  When they show up long after the estimated time of arrival, I hear, "But I followed the GPS."  Did they honestly think I would purposely mislead them?  I finally called the towing company and, sure enough, the driver had gone to the far end of Gray Rock.  Especially with all the rain we've had, there is a section of the loop that is absolutely impassable, and Tow Guy had to back his big flatbed up and out of there.  Dispatch redirected TG and he finally drove up my drive.  Upon opening Truck's hood, he discovered that the power-steering belt was completely off the pulley (that had come loose), loaded up Truck, and off they went.  The part that made me happy was that it was a quick, relatively inexpensive (a relative term) fix, and I was able to bring Truck home in the afternoon.  I love happy endings.

I so look forward to Saturdays..  My daughter gets up early and when she has time, she calls, usually before sunup as she did this morning.  Talk about "Make my day!"

It was and will be a good day.

Friday, January 27, 2017

No Go

After carefully calculating the extra time it would take to get over Bucks Bar and deciding that Cedar Ravine would be the best route to get to the freeway to Cameron Park, there I was in my go-to-town shoes, only to find I wasn't going anywhere.  Out in the truck, I did everything the nice man at the auto shop had told me and I still couldn't get out of 4WD.  "Keep it in neutral to push buttons.  Drive forward and backward."  The little button light told me it was in 2WD, but Truck continued to steer like a tank.  Admittedly, I've never driven a tank, but it's the first thing that comes to mind.  There was absolutely no power steering at all.  I learned to drive (back in the dark ages) on cars when the stick shift was on the column, long before automatic shifting, and power steering was far in the future.  Those cars were far easier to turn than Truck.  With time ticking down, I suffered defeat and went in to call the doctor's office.  With snow on the ground (Bessie still crunches through snow on the deck) and possibly icy roads, I wasn't about to risk a trip to town with a truck I couldn't turn.

I put in a call to the auto shop.  "Bring it down in the morning."  Ummm, no, not gonna do that.  I'll give it another try today and if that doesn't work, I'll call for a tow truck.  In the meantime, I'm not going anywhere.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Deep Freeze

Even though the sun was out yesterday and the day before and some snow melted, temps have dropped into the 20s at night, only rising to mid 30s during the day.  That snow still left has a thick ice crust that makes walking treacherous.  Most of the goat pen was white, but the girls happily made their way into the big pen where the grass was green under the big protecting oak.  The bird bath is a skating rink.

I make no apologies for taking yesterday off.  Drama is draining.  The wood rack is low, but I'm not so foolish as to trek back and forth pulling the wagon over ice.  I'm not looking forward to driving to Cameron Park today for a follow-up appointment with the oncologist.  Since it's in the afternoon, I can only hope the roads are not going to be a slip-and-slide on the hills and curves.  I'd rather get my drama from a good book any day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It's Official

I consider that I am now officially a hillbilly and worthy of the name.  The rubber muck boots I'd been wearing were fine for mud, but the six inches of snow on the ground called for more (at least some) insulation.  I dug out an old pair of well-worn work boots that worked fine the first night, but they were so old that they cracked.  Soaked socks aren't much better than no lining.  I couldn't leave the property with the tree in the drive and it isn't like I'd make a trip to town just for a pair of boots anyhow.  The solution?  The hillbilly fix-it-all, duct tape!  Hey, whatever works, right?

Helper Dude earned his pay yesterday.  He drove up on his big tractor and started work on the downed tree again.  The tractor was necessary to haul branches the size of small trees to the burn pile, trip after trip up the hill.  I needn't have worried about the wheels digging ruts, as dragging the branches behind smoothed the tracks and swept away the snow at the same time.  It was a live oak that had dropped so there were plenty of leaves to act like a broom.  There will be plenty of work in the future with the rest of the tree, but for now the drive is clear and the broken fence pieces are out of the way.  I now have a very impressive burn pile, another job for another day.

I'd previously talked to HD about splitting some of the large rounds into usable firewood.  As he had the time and inclination, he tackled that next and I've now got another third of a cord stacked and plenty more rounds in the stack.  We're due for maybe five days of sunshine, so I'll let it air dry before putting it under a tarp.  Good job, Helper Dude.

The day before, when the tree went down and there was so much snow on the drive, I'd taken the truck down as far as I could on my side and HD had brought his Jeep up on his so we could go to Mt. Aukum to get feed.  I'd had to put the truck in four-wheel drive to keep from sliding down and to get enough traction to back up on the hill.  Yesterday was trash day, but I couldn't get the truck out of 4WD-Lo.  Aarrgh.  Bess and I crept down the road, me pushing buttons as we went.  Finally the danged truck shifted, but it continued to steer like a tank.  What now?  Had I been leaking steering fluid or what?  I put in a call to the little auto shop in Mt. Aukum and the nice man explained the mechanism and how to fix the problem.  FYI, you can shift into 4WD-Hi on the fly (while driving), but you must be stopped to put it into 4WD-Lo, which I had not done.  Tomorrow, I need to put the truck in neutral and then push the button.  Note to self:  file this information in the memory bank for future use.

Stepping out to put the kids to bed last evening, this sunset stopped me in my tracks.  Not only was there a sun to set, but it was awesome.  The girls had been able to stay outside all day, the chickens had been happy in their yard, the drive is clear, I've got a pile of firewood, and have the solution to the truck problem.  All in all, I'd say it was an officially good day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


It's gotten so that sleeping in until 4:30 seems like a luxury.  I'm not one of those people who can lie in bed when I wake up regardless of the time:  eyes open, feet hit the ground.  Well, there's a small delay while I try to move heavy-as-boulders cats out of the way.  How a 13-15 pound cat can become an immovable object in the night is incomprehensible.  It was lovely to see the little red numbers on the bedside clock this morning and know that the light switches would work, that I would have water when I turned the tap, and that the coffee-maker would provide a hot cup of that without which I cannot start the day.  The computer is computing and I am once again connected to the world.  Any day that is not a repeat of yesterday is going to be a good day.

A couple of days ago Celeste came into the living room making the darndest noises, probably because she had her mouth full.  Afraid at first she'd caught a mouse (acceptable in the barn, not in the house), I saw that it was one of the missing knitted piglets.  Aha!  I'd seen neither snout nor tail of the little creatures since Ralph had abducted the litter.  Celeste had the best time rolling around and batting the mouse-sized toy until she batted it under the hope chest (do girls still get chests to fill with articles for a hoped-for marriage?).  She looked back at me and cried for help.  Well, guess what I found.
All five piglets, a mouse (toy), the hairless hamster, a champagne cork, two shiny bows, the ears ripped from other stuffed animals, an Easter bunny (and, all together now, a partridge in a pear tree).  Davy Jones's locker could not have held more treasure.  Celeste immediately took off with one of the piglets, so, yes, there are only four in the photo.  Ralph nearly cooed with joy and began the business of scattering the goodies all over the house.  Vacuuming is going to be an exercise in avoidance.  It's too cold to go around without shoes or slippers.  I don't want to think about stepping on a small furry "thing" in the dark with bare feet.

Helper Dude said he would be here shortly after daybreak today.  I'll probably end up paying his way through college, but it's worth not being disconnected. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

There Was A Reason

What is it about 3:30 a.m.?  It was just about that time this morning when I came flying out of bed when I heard the crack and rip of a falling tree.  That's a sound that, once heard, one never forgets.  I didn't feel or hear the thud, so I knew it wasn't close to the house so figured I'd see what happened in the light of day.  Uh huh.

Turned on the computer, made my coffee, and came back to write the blog.  Uh huh.  Computer, but no internet.  Well, it wasn't until I turned on the porch light on the deck that I saw we'd had snow during the night.  Quite a bit of snow.  Enough snow to fill the satellite dishes and stop me dead in my tracks.  No blog, no FB, no email, and no TV.  Nada.  Killing time with solitaire, I waited for daybreak.  Uh huh.  Then the power went out.  Aarrgh!

Clay had given me a small emergency flashlight for Christmas and, best of all, I knew right where it was.  Do you know how hard it is to dial a landline phone with one hand while holding a flashlight in the other and try to "Push 1 for a gas outage, push 2 for an electrical outage, push 4 if you have a dog on the premises..."?  A few hours later I called for a status update.  "Be prepared for a lengthy wait for service."  Uh huh.

My milk customer called to say he was on his way over.  "Do you have four-wheel drive?  There are about six inches of snow on my driveway."  "Oh, yes.  No problem."  I didn't understand when he arrived huffing and puffing at my door until he told me that my driveway was completely blocked by a fallen tree (that I could not see from the house) and he'd had to walk through that snow up the steep hill.  I immediately put in a call to Helper Dude who fortunately had time today and a chainsaw.

I'd been waiting for the snow and ice to melt off my truck so I could get down to Mt. Aukum.  The goat girls were completely out of food and I was getting desperate.  Uh huh.  I wasn't going anywhere.  It helped to keep my mind off my dilemma with a new, very absorbing book  HD showed up and worked for an hour and a half and still couldn't clear the drive.  It was a very, very large tree that had split into three sections, one falling over the driveway.  I frothed and fumed as I explained my situation and HD took pity and offered to go home, get his car (he'd just gotten his license!) and offered to drive me down to get food for the girls.  Uh huh.  I've watched HD race up and down our roads on his dirt bike and quad, so it's perhaps a sign of my distress that I said, "Yes, please."  I will happily say that HD drove carefully (i.e., slowly) and then helped me get the heavy bag of feed down to the barn.  Did I say it had started snowing again?  Down in the barn, one panel had suffered under the weight of the snow and Cindy's stall was a puddle of mud.  If it's not one thing, it's another.

The electricity is back on for the time being.  The goats have food.  HD is coming back tomorrow.  But there was a reason I'm so late with this entry.  Trust me on this.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Keeping It Short

Not much happened yesterday, but today I'm giving the abbreviated version.  Wind (no rain yet) came up during the night and it's the worst yet.  Time after time it woke me as it screamed around the house.  The last time, my mind started whirling like the wind, thinking of things that must be done before we lose power, a very likely event in this weather, and regardless of the time, it was time to get up.  First chore of the day was to get the coffee made.  Ahhh.  Check.  That last load of laundry got thrown in the dryer and just finished.  Check.  As soon as I finish with this, I'll get my bills paid online so I don't get hauled off to debtors' prison.  Last night's dishes are still in the sink.  Aarrgh.  There is such a sense of urgency in a big blow like this.  Fingers crossed for the trees here, there, and everywhere, for the power lines, and for the barn roof.

Rain and wind were intermittent yesterday.  I left the big room open for the girls again, but they're getting really cranky with each other after days of having to stay inside and I think they may be pushing one another out into the rain.  The "people door" to the hen house did come apart as I tried to get in, another item for the growing To-Do list for when the weather calms.  I'm trying an experiment by bringing up a load of wet wood and putting it at the bottom of the rack, hoping it will dry sufficiently by the time I burn the two more wagons of the big logs I was able to haul to the porch.

Hold the good thought.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What's Cookin'?

Since all news channels were otherwise occupied yesterday (all day) and I was unable to get a morning weather report, I retreated to Ina Garten's calm kitchen on "The Barefoot Contessa."  I picked up a recipe for pastitsio, Greek-style lasagna, that I think the Ladies of Fair Play might enjoy sometime when the weather allows for safe travel.

Gearing up for barn chores, I look like Nanook of the North:  two long-sleeve knit shirts, a scarf double-wrapped around my neck, a hoodie sweatshirt under a heavy canvas jacket, and thick fleece gloves.  The ambient temperature was down in the 20s, so I wasn't overdressed.  Rubber boots protect from the mud, but not from cold so my toes "is froze" by the time I get back to the house.

Weather is really causing problems.  The hasp to the top half of the chicken coop door stuck yesterday and in my struggle to get it open, I almost pulled out a rotten board that keeps the two halves together.  Aarrgh.  Outbuildings have settled out of alignment and hardware needs to be resituated.  A couple of doors should be rehung.  I need good weather and a full-time handyman.

Between cooking show programs I'd DVRd and those on TV, I spent the entire day in one kitchen or another.  I learn a lot even on recipes I'll never make.  New techniques, use of spices and herbs, etc., get filed away in my memory bank for future use.

All that cooking and what did I have for dinner?  I raided the freezer again and pulled out a serving of split pea and barley soup, hot, hearty fare on a cold, depressing day.

It's raining.

Friday, January 20, 2017


All things in moderation, as the saying goes.  I enjoy sunshine.  I like to sit in the sun and think pleasant thoughts.  However, in summer when the temperature rises and stays there days for on end (and I have no A/C), I do not find that enjoyable.  I like a light breeze.  I even like a brisk breeze in the summer; it's a saving grace on a hot day.  I do not like unrelenting wind that threatens to tear the roof from house and barn and brings down branches and sometimes trees.  We need rain.  If I had my druthers, it would rain at night and leave the days alone so chores could get done while dry.  It could rain a couple of days/nights a week and that would be good in my book.  Weeks and weeks of pouring-down rain day and night with minimal breaks is overkill and I want to know where the Complaint Department is, because I sure have a complaint about the current situation.  We definitely need a Weather Moderator.

During a brief respite yesterday I was able to bring a couple of wagon loads of firewood to the porch, not enough, but it will have to do.  That pile of big logs is getting pretty low.  There is a secondary pile of good-sized branches and smaller logs, so I wasn't too worried until yesterday I saw that the furshluggin wind had whipped off the tarp and the pile was drenched.  That wood is unusable until it dries out, which can only happen when the dadratted rain stops.  Clay had brought up a pickup truck and trailer load of huge rounds so there is a future supply, more than a winter's worth, I'm sure.  The weather changed before the guys could come up, so the pile sits there.  I put in a call to Helper Dude and he will come over the first dry days we get to split wood.  Watching the wood pile go down makes me feel like I'm looking in Mother Hubbard's cupboard.  Stove may have to go on a diet.

I'd no more brought the wood to the house when it started hailing.  Good grief.  Somebody was playing with the rain spigot, on-off, on-off, teasing, "Come on outside!"  And then, "Gotcha!!"

The sky at day's end was pretty impressive, and it wasn't raining when I put the kids to bed.  I put down more chips for Sheila and Cindy; it's all I can do for them under the circumstances.  At least I know they have somewhere dry to lie down at night.  The chicken pen looks like The Land Of A Thousand Lakes (Minnesota).  The pits they dig in summer are filled with water.  I'm going to have to supply the little girls with water wings and floaties if this keeps up.

And it is keeping up.  The wind is howling and the rain is beating on the windows this morning.  A little moderation, please.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Off To Oz

If this dratted wind continues, I fully expect to be whirled away and end up somewhere near the Yellow Brick Road.  I hope I don't jinx anything, but so far the farm has remained intact.  Weather Guy said this storm (set of storms, actually) shouldn't be as heavy as the last batch.  Yeah?  Well, the wind changed direction yesterday and the rain beating on the east-side windows was like waves crashing on a boat at sea.  One determined and obviously very hungry hummingbird was clinging to the feeder for dear life, soaked to his tiny skin.  The feeders are in an overhang on the normally protected side of the house, but there was no protection yesterday for man nor beast.

Camille called in the afternoon from Folsom to give me the scene down there.  Sitting in her truck in a parking lot, she laughed as she described at least six well-dressed people get out of their car and open their umbrella, only to see it immediately blow inside out and leaving the poor people drenched.  As she told it, it was like watching a cartoon or a sitcom.

The girls are well into the rainy-day routine now and were standing huddled by the door to the big room as I finished an abbreviated version of my chores in the barn.  There was a slight letup in the downpour and I didn't want to miss my chance to get back to the house without getting drenched.

One thing I must do today, rain and wind notwithstanding, is bring more wood to the porch.  With a clean chimney and sufficient air, Stove now has a voracious appetite and demands more fuel.  He has devoured in a few days what would have lasted a week.  The woodpile is under a tarp that in a big wind billows like a ship's sail and whips me about the head and shoulders.  Rain is easier to deal with.  Not pleasant, but easier.

I wonder what the zip code is for Munchkin Land.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Phone Woes

Many people have only cellphones these days, those mini-computers, cameras, sources of entertainment that can be taken any- and everywhere.  The only drawback that I can see is that they must be regularly recharged.  That becomes a problem up here where power goes out, sometimes at length.  I have all these nifty wireless phones in the house that are useless without electricity.  Also, depending on the provider, cell service is spotty and there are many dead zones.  That explains why many of us in the hills, including me, keep an active landline as well as having a cellphone.  In an emergency, calls to 911 can be automatically traced by address.  A 911 call on my cellphone, because I'm on Craig's family plan, would identify my location in Woodland.  I need a landline.

Camille found herself in a pickle when her landline went dead and has been out for two weeks.  She has a cellphone, but her only charger is in her truck.  Also, her property just down the road does not get cell service.  We normally talk regularly, but for two weeks I knew if she called that she was driving around recharging her cell and was in a spot where it worked.  She told me of an episode in the past when the landlines had gone dead.  When the lines were repaired, they had literally crossed wires.  Calls to one person were routed to another.  Before they knew about the problem, one couple thought they were being pranked when they kept receiving Happy Birthday calls and got pretty testy about it.  Worse, the young woman whose birthday it was thought she'd been forgotten and that nobody loved her.

My landline went on the blink the day I went into town and I called it in (on my cell).  When I got home, the dial tone was back and I thought no more about it.  Yesterday while I was in the barn, I was surprised to see the AT&T repair truck coming up the drive.  I couldn't leave with a girl on the stand, so Phone Guy and I hollered back and forth.  He had come to check the lines going into the house, so I gave him directions to the box and we both went about our chores.  Before he got back in his truck, he yelled that, yes, I did have a dial tone, but it wasn't mine.  (Who knew?)  He was going to some junction box to fix the situation and would be back.  Returning to the house later, I did have a dial tone and tried to call Camille to see if she was back on line.  The call went through, but ten seconds later we were cut off.  She tried a couple of times to call me with the same results.  Aarrgh!

Calling AT&T for repair service is an exercise in patience.  Long gone are the days when dialing 0 (on a rotary dial) would get you an honest-to-God real person on the line, a woman with a friendly, sympathetic voice who would plug in her cords and get your call where it needed to go, one-stop shopping, as it were.  Now it's, "Push 1, 2, whatever and we'll play nice music and tell you that your call is important and stay on the line."  It took 45 minutes (I'm not kidding) to be rerouted to Greg.  I'd no more started telling him my tale of woe when Cam called in (yay for call waiting) and said she'd found Phone Guy having lunch at The Pub and he knew about the problem and would be back to fix it.  I told Greg that it was all under control.  He was happy, I was happy, and Cam was pleased.  I've got to hand it to her, she doesn't give up easily!  Later in the day, PG worked his magic and our phones are once again in service.

It's raining.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No View From Farview

At least the fog didn't sneak in as a surprise yesterday.  This photo was taken in the same direction and at approximately the same time as the one from the day before, and I can only assume there is a sunrise back there somewhere because you sure couldn't prove it in this one.  Temperature in the 30s and the fog was thicker and so damp that moisture dripping from the trees sounded like rain.  Anyone with curly hair will understand what happens on a day like this.  My hair takes on a life of its own, frizzing out of control.  By the time I got back in the house, I could easily have been mistaken for Albert Einstein.

It's bad enough that I have to put cold hands on warm(ish) goats, first-in-line Inga especially.  Knowing what's coming, she starts shivering before I even sit down.  I, too, pay the penalty.  I have a "frozen" finger (won't bend) as a result of a botched surgery years ago.  Unable to curl up for warmth with its companions, it sticks out alone as I'm milking and becomes, in the literal sense, painfully frozen.  Naught for it but to keep on working.

As it did the day before, the sun came out in the afternoon and I was able to make a run for town.  There was no black ice on the roads as there had been and the biggest potholes had been temporarily patched.  There were enough smaller potholes to keep it interesting.  Because of the late start, it was a hit-and-run excursion, grabbing only the essentials on the list and heading home.  I made it up the drive as the sun was setting and got the girls, big and little, tucked in before dark.

Rain is due tonight.  Sigh.

Monday, January 16, 2017


I was singing "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" ("Oklahoma," Gordon MacRae) on the way to the barn.  It was, indeed, beautiful.  And then....  Chores finished and goats also enjoying the sunshine, on my way back to the house I noted grey sky to the west and thought, "Oh, those poor people down in the valley," and how lucky I was to have blue overhead.  Yeah, well, hold that good thought, chickie.  In the time it took to walk from the gate to the pen and up to the house, the fog had raced into the foothills and was covering my neighbor's vineyard.  I had no more than put the buckets down in the kitchen and it was a grey, grey world.  I couldn't even see the road.  Drat!  I'd been waiting for one more day of sunshine to make the trek to town.  So much for that idea.  I might not like it, but I'll drive in rain and I've driven in snow.  I hate fog.  Staying home seemed the better part of valor.

I had stepped out on the deck by the dining room in early afternoon and saw a coyote loping away down into the woods after doing a little window shopping by the chicken pen.  Of course, I yelled and stomped, but she circled back and tried to get under my neighbor's fence before heading in under the trees.  That's when I saw she had brought a pup along on a training mission.  I know they need to eat, just not my hens.

Cam, of necessity, had ventured out and came by when her errands were done.  She had, not Honey, but a young rescue dog she's been fostering, who waited in her truck.  As quickly as it had come, the fog lifted and we sat out on the front porch to enjoy what warmth we could get and watch her dog and Bessie Anne play.  The dogs were as happy as the humans to be outside.

It was a nice finish to a yucky day.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


It was 'loverly' to see blue skies and a real sunrise yesterday.  I might say, however, that the photo was taken at risk to life and limb.  I didn't realize until I'd taken two steps out that the deck was coated with a film of ice.  Yeesh!

With the sun full up, it was also nice to sit on the stand to milk and not have my knees under my nose anymore.  Each of the girls in turn spooked when they saw the white feed bags tucked under the legs of the stand.  It's their sense of self-preservation, but they do not like changes of any kind.  I have to put the rake and shovel back exactly where they were.  That bucket has to hang on that nail, not any other.  There were not supposed to be patches of white on the floor, but they'll get used to them.

Knowing that another week of rain is predicted, I didn't want to waste a minute of sunshine.  Bess and I sat on the deck and soaked up rays.  Later, we went out with the intent to bring up firewood, but I became distracted with the lovely afternoon and spent a long while pulling straggly dead weeds from the lavender bed.  Any excuse was a good one to stay outside.  Three heavy wagons of wood in the rack, and my back was crying "Uncle," so it was back in the house for a sit-down.

Leftovers are a single person's best friend, but I was hungry for something "new."  Browned chicken thighs with potato and carrot chunks, onions, garlic, and thyme in a reduced white wine and butter sauce made for fine dining in my book.

Stove was so happy last night with fresh wood and plenty of air.  As the temperature dropped, he cranked out the heat.  Good boy.

It was a good day.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

You Just Know

You just know it's going to be one of those days when you tackle the first chore of the day and it goes kerflooey.  The little door to the coop is a drop-down that forms a ramp for the chickens to run up and down.  The big door (the people door) is a Dutch door.  I opened the top, no problem.  I opened the bottom half and the blankety-blank thing nearly fell off in my hands.  The coop/storage shed could easily be 27 years old ( the house was built in 1990) and our weather extremes wreak havoc with wood.  The hinge screws had pulled out of the rotten support and left the door hanging and me hanging on.  This was not the way I wanted to start the day; the chickens could have cared less.  I managed to tie the door back enough that it wouldn't fall off and flatten a hen and went down to deal with the goats, my mind racing furiously through various scenarios for repair.

The glorious sun had come out so the daily routine went smoothly, the girls eager to get their duty done so they could go outside to bask in the grass.  The milking stand was buried in mud, another problem to deal with and I added that to the list.  After days of downpour, I was finally able to do a good job of cleaning the still-damp stalls and put down more sawdust chips for Sheila and Cindy.

The third item on the list was getting the chimney cleaned.  Impossible to keep a fire going the day before and unable to bank any coals, Stove and the chimney flue were stone cold, perfect timing to be swept.  But what to do?  I called Dave.  I knew he was home from work suffering from a bad case of shingles, but hoped one of the FSMC guys might have the day off and be willing to come help.  Fortunately for them, but not for me, they were all gainfully employed.  Sigh.  I put in a text to Helper Dude and, ta da!, he answered and would be here in early afternoon!  (Insert "smiley face" here.)

HD roared up the drive on his quad, girlfriend clinging on behind, and I told him what needed to be done.  "No problem."  In order of importance, he tackled the door to the coop first so I could put the little kids to bed safely come nightfall.  He relocated the hinge in solid wood and also fixed the clasp to that half-door.  (Smiley face.)

Next was the chimney.  HD is quite tall and only needed the eight-foot ladder to get on the roof.  He provided the muscle to wire brush the creosote buildup down through the flue, while I did the dirty work of digging it out from inside Stove at the bottom.  Silently, I was singing "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and covered with soot to the elbows.  It's a dirty job, but somebody had to do it.

Cleaned up with soap and water, we headed to the barn where HD was able to pull all 12 inches of the stand legs out of the mud, fill in the squirrel tunnels and level the ground, tamp down the dirt, and replace the stand as it should be.  Having an endless supply, we folded empty feed bags and tucked them under the legs to hopefully keep them from sinking again.

Unbelievably, everything was done in an hour.  Ah, youth!  We settled our business, he and girlfriend (who had said perhaps all of ten words the entire time) climbed back on the quad and roared off down the drive.  (Smiley face with exclamation points here.)

The only thing spectacular about this sunset is that there was a sun to see setting.  You just know it's been a good day when problems have been solved and all's right with your world.  I went to bed with a big smile on my face.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rainy Day Play

I was pretty good about thinking up things to keep the Kids occupied on rainy days when they were little.  Making molasses taffy was messy, but they had fun.  Finger painting, messy fun.  (I'm seeing a pattern here.)  After days of not being able to go outside, watching innumerable reruns of Criminal Minds, CSI, and Blue Bloods, I was ready to bang my head against the wall with boredom.  And what did I do for fun?  I dusted.  Ta da!  I've got several unread books, but I really had to get off my rusty-dusty and do something positive and minimally active.  The downpour of the morning had subsided to a day-long drizzle not conducive to hauling firewood, so I was still stuck in the house.  Dusting equals desperation, but the living room glows!

Stove is choking.  No matter how I stoked and vented, I couldn't keep a good blaze going.  It's pretty obvious he needs a chimney cleaning.  I called my neighbor Beau who is looking for handyman jobs, but wouldn't you know he got hit hard by some bug his kids brought home from school and is sick as a dog.  No help there for the time being.  Stove and I are going to have to limp along together and hope for the best.

Even though John Dear's back is turned to me as I walk by, I can tell he's feeling neglected.  I actually dreamed last night of tootling around with John in the sunshine, mowing here, there, and everywhere.  Sigh.

Speaking of last night, looking out on the deck I had trouble recognizing what I was seeing.  Had it snowed?  No, that white light was moonlight!  It seems like forever since the skies have been clear enough to see the moon.  That was a good sign.  This morning, however, that light on the deck when Bessie went out was ice.  With no cloud cover, the temperature dropped below freezing and what was wet is now frozen.  I really need to make a trip to town and had been waiting for the rain to stop.  Now I don't want to take a chance on icy roads.  Aaarrgh.

I guess today I'll dust the dining room, but my heart won't be in it.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One Brief Moment

Gee willikers, I was as wet yesterday coming back from the barn as I've been in the worst of the storm, and there wasn't any wind, it was raining that hard.  I spoke too soon about the back stalls staying dry.  Inga's and the big room were okay, but Sheila's and Cindy's were a muddy mess.  I hauled a big bale of cedar sawdust down and put a four-inch thick layer in the dryest corner for each of them.  It isn't the best solution, but it was the best I could do.

Days of rain have affected us all.  Even the cats, who never go outside, have a bad case of cabin fever.  Ralph and Celeste raced through the house as if chased by demons, and wrestled and fought all day.  Bess Anne sulks when she can't go out.  She stands by a door (pick any door, this house has eight to the outside) and gives a bark.  I open the door, she stands and looks out, gives a disgusted sigh and goes back to lie down.  The goats are cranky and bicker and butt.  If there is the slightest letup, the chickens dash outside to look for bugs under sodden leaves.  I am depressed and apathetic.  There are things I could be doing, and I do nothing.  In the afternoon the rain stopped and for one brief moment the sun came out and I saw a tiny patch of blue sky.  Oh joy!  As I was hunting for a dry jacket to go out and bring up more firewood (the porch supply is nearly depleted), it started to hail and then rain again.  Ratchafratch.

News reports are full of weather conditions here and in the valley.  Flooding is rampant, even in downtown Placerville where little Hangtown Creek has overflowed into the streets.  Deb sent a photo of the Yolo causeway, which now looks like a huge lake with water from the Sacramento River.  El Dorado County has declared a state of emergency.  The local FB page has notices of downed trees blocking roads and huge potholes, one so deep that someone floated an empty milk jug to warn drivers.  All this to say I'm not overreacting to the situation.

It is raining this morning, but the weekend is forecast to be dry.  Please, please, pleeeze let them not be giving us false hope.  I need a little ray of sunshine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I'm Not A Duck

Perhaps ducks might enjoy this wet weather.  Lacking webbed feet and feathers, me...not s'much.  Yesterday was a repeat of steady downpour and heavy winds (and it looks like today is going to be more of the same).  The barn is a mess.  So far, the stalls have remained dry, but water has flooded the milking room floor.  The stand had sunk a good twelve inches into the muck and I was almost sitting on the ground.  I wasn't able to pull it out, but will have to before the dirt hardens to cement.  The play yard was awash, too, so again I left the big room open for the girls.  How I wish we'd had the foresight to build the barn on high ground.

While switching out goats for milking, I noticed a large hawk out in the pen.  It saw me, but didn't fly off.  Turns out he'd made a kill and come hell or high water (I'm betting on high water), he was going to eat his breakfast.  He was still at it when I'd finished my soggy chores and was going past loaded with clanking milk buckets. 

I'm starting to feel like a model on the runway as I change clothes umpteen times a day, out of soaked bibbies and jacket and into comfy dry britches, and then repeat when I've got to go out again.  I've been coping with just my barn shoes, but today I must dig out my wellies to go wading in the barn.

Badly in need of some comfort food, in the afternoon I put on a big pot of ham hocks and lima beans.  Cam called as she was leaving Plymouth and I invited her to join me for dinner.  She and Honey had been out in the rain most of the day running errands, and she readily accepted.  Honey's thick coat is like a sponge and the towel I used to dry her could have been wrung out when I finished.  Good food and good company was a great way to end the day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Bit Of A Break

This morning photo yesterday is what a bit of a break looked like.  I was perfectly happy to settle for low, threatening clouds all day because the wind had stopped.  My worries always are for the trees when the ground is super-saturated.  It rained only twice, a smattering when I was unloading feed from the truck (of course) and then a real drenching when I put the kids to bed.

Camille wasn't so lucky.  When she went to check on her other property, she found a neighbor's tree had fallen, smashing through her fence and landing directly on a small barn/shed.  We agreed it could have been worse if it had landed on the house.

Rain began in earnest after nightfall, accompanied by the dadratted wind, and continues this morning.  So many areas in the valley and by rivers here in the foothills are at flood stage.  Even little Perry Creek had risen nearly up to the bridge and was roaring like a mill race when I crossed over to go to Mt. Aukum.  There's naught to do but batten the hatches, stoke the fire, and keep the fingers crossed.

Makes one appreciate a bit of a break.

Monday, January 9, 2017

How Bad Was It?

Well, it was as bad as I've seen, and we made it through okay.  (I'm tempted to add "so far," but that sounds so pessimistic.)  Down in the barn yesterday, there was a cacophony of sound:  the wind was trying to tear panels off the roof, banging them up and down continuously, and the rain competed with fire hose force, fading a bit and then redoubling efforts.  Even the rainy day routine we've developed went to pot, the girls absolutely panicked by the deafening noise.  With no hope of letup, I did something I don't ever do and chained open the door to the big room, Tessie and Esther's room.  It took the girls a while to realize they could go in, but did dash around in the downpour from the play yard to the much larger and more protected space.

Stove decided to cooperate and with a good bed of coals easily fired up in the morning and kept his appetite to a minimum all day, keeping the house (at least the living room) toasty without seriously depleting the woodpile.  Hearing a scrape and thump, I realized the wind had blown the bench where I sit on good days to the rail and was trying to lift it up and over.  Going out to rescue it, I was nearly blown off my feet and was soaked in the few minutes it took   Jacket, hat and bibbies festooned the back of chairs and shoes sat on the hearth to dry all day.  Trees danced and sheets of rain blew horizontally with only a few breaks in the wind.

Conditions had not much changed by nightfall.  I'd been concerned about getting the girls to cooperate, but they seemed eager to get to the security of their own rooms and it all went rather well.  The chickens just said, "Shut the door!"  One thing about a rainy day, I don't have to spend any time filling the water trough before dark.

A bowl of hot soup from my stock in the freezer was real comfort food last night.  Stove was on duty and for the first time in days I didn't need a jacket in the house.  The trees were all upright.  The power stayed on and the rain at its worst had blocked the satellite dish only momentarily.  The barn roof stayed intact.  All in all, I can't say it was a good day, but we made it!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Two...And Counting

It's only day two of this storm and already it feels like we're on an endless loop (rainy days will do that).  The mud is so thick in front of the goat barn that it threatens to suck the shoes from my feet, and I don't even want to talk about the muck in the chicken pen.  I'm happy to report that so far no leaks have appeared in any roof, barn or sheds, and that all trees remain standing.  Twenty mph winds are predicted again today and given what I'm hearing out there in the dark this morning, I think the prediction is correct.  In short, t'ain't fit weather for man nor beast.

I may look ridiculous in that knitted pig hat with ear flaps (and pig ears) that Dave gave me last year, but it fits snuggly and keeps my head dry so it's being put to good use.  The goats don't care what I'm wearing as long as they get breakfast, and I don't think chickens have much sense of humor.  I made the mistake of sending Dave a "selfie" while wearing the hat, and quickly realized there's an age past which one should not take selfies.  I bore a strong resemblance to a Shar Pei!

Yesterday was spent doing those things like laundry, dishes, and assorted housework looking toward the possibility of a power outage.  The local FB site is full of downed trees and spin-outs and crashes on wet, slick roads.  Bess and I went as far as the mailbox yesterday and that's our limit for travel.  (Yeesh, the wind is rattling the windows like they're tambourines right now!)

My weather app is showing four more days of rain this week before we get a break.  That's depressing.  Sigh.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


My walls are filled with family photos.  They've hung there for so long that I almost don't see them anymore.  Yesterday this one caught my eye and I looked at it a long time.  This is my Wild Bunch and was taken 30 years ago.  The photograph is beautifully framed and was a wedding gift from the group to Steve and me.  It touched me then as it touches me now.  At that point in the ceremony when the man officiating asked, "Who gives this woman...?," the Kids stood as one and said, "We do."  (Possibly because they were glad to have someone else in charge of the wild woman.  I'm not sure.)  For clarification, Deb is in front and in the back row, left to right, are Dave, Larry, and Pete.  Dem'z my Kids.

In the afternoon I heard a thunk on the big window in the living room.  Looking out, sure enough there was a hummingbird on the deck.  Hoping it was just stunned, I went out and picked up the tiny thing.  I know they're susceptible to cold and cold it was in the shade.  Holding the brilliantly colored male cupped in my hand, I huffed warm breath over him until he slowly began to move, then placed him on the deck railing in the sun and waited.  Finally, to my (and his) delight, he flew off with a whir of wings and flash of green and red.  It was a special moment.

Flash forward.  My little red wagon is so old it has faded to pink and has bald rusting spots.  In fact, the bottom had rusted out and Dave welded a plate underneath to give it continued life.  It certainly got a workout yesterday as the rack was almost completely empty and we (wagon and I) brought load after load of firewood to the porch.  Bess gets excited when I pull on the thick leather gloves because she knows what we're going to do.  There are good sniffs when I pull back the protective tarp from the wood pile as ground squirrels make nests in there.  I did find the remnants of one yesterday, a mound of finely shredded bark.  When my grandson Jake was in grade school, I once sent him an intact squirrel nest, thinking he could take it for show-and-tell and wouldn't that be neat, forgetting completely that he was a city kid.  He probably thought his grandma had lost her marbles.  His dad and siblings grew up in Chino when it was very rural and they were always bringing home treasures found in the hills:  jawbones from some deceased creatures, dead birds, pretty rocks, etc.  That was then....

My timing was good for the woodpile, as the rain started last night.  Unfortunately, it brought the strong winds I'd hoped we'd avoid and they're battering the house this morning.  Bessie needed to go out for a piddle, but wouldn't go out the bedroom door.  "Can't you see what's going on out there, Mom?"  When her whining became desperate, I took her to the door leading to the covered deck.  Since she came back with dry fur, I can only imagine she went just around the corner for quick relief in a leaf pile and didn't make it to the back yard.

Stove says, "Feed me!"  It's going to be one of those days.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Have you seen this pig?  Actually, not this particular pig.  This pig was given to me by Dave Christmas before last, and it lives in the kitchen on the handle of a wooden spoon.  This year he gave me the rest of the litter, five identical piglets.  While I was trying to decide where they should live, the klepto cats made off with the whole bunch and I cannot find even one.  No ransom note has been received as yet, so I fear for their safety.  They are tiny little things, only about two inches in height.  The perpetrators are not squealing on each other.  If located, please notify me immediately.

I lost an entire day of sunshine in a most pleasant way.  I did give the barn a thorough cleaning before unexpected guests and a long long-distance phone call came.  Beau and his daughter Hailey stopped by in the morning, my niece in New Hampshire called, and Arden arrived in the afternoon for a chat.  Reportedly, today should be dry so I must get wood to the porch or do it in the pouring rain.  World news takes second place to the weather reports, and they're saying this storm is going to be a doozy.  Down in the valley, sand bags are being given out.  Up here, those who live in the nearby tiny hamlet of Outingdale, which is on the east bank of the Cosumnes River, are preparing for the worst.  They've been flooded out before.  In her capricious way, Nature has dropped the temperature to 30 this morning, but the storm is predicted to be a warm one.  I'm just hoping she leaves out the wind this time.  Saturated ground and wind are a tree's worst enemies.

In the meantime, I shall continue to hunt for five missing pigs.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Name Is In The Hat

I thought the days when I was up for the Mean Mother Of The Year Award were put behind me when the Kids grew up and I could stop telling them "no" and "you have to."  However, it seems the goats have submitted my name for nomination and they think I have a strong chance of winning.  After all, who but a very mean mother would force her girls outside on a rainy day?  I do feel bad for them and I wouldn't do it if I had any options.  No one hesitates to dash under cover in the milking room, but once inside and they are up on the stand, even the ones who usually scarf down their chow like a vacuum cleaner dawdle over their bowl, eating slowly and picking up every kernel, trying to extend their time inside.  The one I feel the worst for is Cindy.  She readily comes in for breakfast as do the others, but instead of accepting the inevitable and going out the door, she turns to me and puts her forehead against my side.  "Please, Mom.  Please don't make me do this."  I explain and I apologize.  Oh, man, do I apologize.  Finally, she heaves a sigh and goes outside.  I think I may win the Award this year, too.

The girls do have places to get in out of the rain.  It's not my fault if they choose not to.  At bedtime, I can tell which ones are sensible (usually Esther and Tessie) by their at least semi-dry coats, and which ones are making a bid for sympathy.  Dripping or dry, they all head into their stalls for the night and we've put another day behind us.

It rained all day long, but without the wind of the day before.  I found a number of smaller branches down, but so far, so good with the trees, my biggest worry in a high wind.  This storm has been warmer than the week before, but dampness seeps into the house and Stove must still be fed.  Supposedly we're due for a short break today and I'll be able to replenish his supply of fuel.  Some may make hay while the sun shines, me, I haul firewood.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Be Careful What You Ask For

Californians have been asking, praying, begging for rain and now, guess what...there are flood warnings in the mountains, the valleys, and here in the foothills.  I, here in the house at the top of the hill, am in no danger of flooding.  However, the barn easily could be.  After a night of rain, we caught a break around noon and my milk customer came, as well as Patrick with a delivery of alfalfa and a bag of goat chow.  (I try to time a load of hay when I need feed, as Patrick slings the bags that I find so difficult as if they were marshmallows.)  Taking advantage of the dry spell, I brought up a couple more wagons of wood and then decided to make a quick run to the local market.  Nature had been lurking and no more had I hit the big road than she opened her bag of tricks and poured rain again.

I am not yet in the practice of having to take bags into a store, California having banned free plastic bags.  Oh, they'll sell you a bag (plastic) for a dime each.  I have yet to find the logic in that.  I do keep a supply of bags in the truck (I have a lifetime stock saved); I just don't remember to take them in with me.  "No, thanks.  Just put everything back in the cart."  Inconvenient, but not so bad on a sunny day, having to bag up wet groceries in the parking lot while it's raining is not my idea of fun.

Not content with just rain, Nature decided to throw in a hellacious wind.  I could have taken the trash down to the road on my way to the store, but Bessie Anne gets so excited when I get the bag(s) ready that I hate to disappoint her.  I don't think she likes riding in the truck as much as she looks forward to the treat when we get home.  Consequently, after bringing in soggy groceries, I loaded the soon soggy trash bags and one damp dog and we went down to put the stuff in the barrel.  The things I do for this girl.

Unfortunately, the wind came out of the east, blowing rain into what should have been the sheltered play yard, so two of the dominant goats took possession of the little attached shed while the other three huddled in the lee of the barn.  There was a bit of a free-for-all at bedtime, everyone crying, "Me first!"  Closing doors was all that was necessary in the chicken coop.  "What took you so long?"

Stove continued to gobble up firewood and the rain beat against the windows, driven by the howling wind all night.  It has not yet stopped.  Be careful what you ask for.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Snow Day

Although it snowed almost all day yesterday, this is about all that stuck.  One wouldn't think it would be enough to wipe out the satellite dishes, but it did...for hours.  Cold?  Oh, yes, it was cold.  I talk about bringing wagons of firewood up to the porch; yesterday Stove burned a full wagon load between get-up and go-to-bed.  (I never think about my wagon without hearing my mother's bit of doggerel, "Little red wagon, tongue is draggin'.  Second verse, same as the first."  And repeat.)

I was deeply touched yesterday by an act of kindness from one of my Kids who shall remain nameless for fear of embarrassing said Kid.  Kid realized I had not posted in a timely fashion and called to ask if I were okay.  It's a good thing I wasn't down with the goats because Kid was going to head up the hill, weather be damned, if I hadn't answered the phone.  No need to ask why I love my Kids.

There is a difference between no satellite and no power.  As long as we have electricity, I can use the DVR even when there is no real-time television.  I keep a stash of stuff I've recorded and not watched just for such occasions, and yesterday I immersed myself in Shakespeare, "The Hollow Crown," Richard III's story of mayhem, intrigue, and madness.  The production is chock-full of the best of British actors who somehow managed to speak Shakespeare's difficult cadence in a modern, conversational style that made the dialogue so easily understandable.  There are worse ways to spend a day.

Snow turned to rain late in the day and it's raining again/still this morning.  It's freezing cold.  Bessie's trip outside was don't-blink-your-eyes fast.  I'm late for my date with Stove.  We're becoming best friends!

It was a good day.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Coming Attractions

For more than fifty years, sometimes on, sometimes off, I've kept a journal.  It started when the Kids were little because I wanted to be able to look back on memories with some degree of accuracy.  I found it to be therapeutic at the same time, a way to purge when things went south and rejoice on happy occasions.  I've shelves of journals, written documentaries of my life, as it were.  Writing the blog has pretty much supplanted that project, but it has the same effect for me.  Yesterday I took time to bring forward birthdates and anniversaries from the old calendar to the new, a particularly pleasurable chore as I also record who came up on what occasion, surprise visits, alfalfa deliveries, etc.  It's my social calendar of sorts, and it's fun to look back and think, "It really was a good year."  (Or not.)  I look at the new calendar with its blank pages as an opportunity, ready to be filled with "life."

There was an opportunity to fill an empty spot yesterday when Dave texted to say he and some of the Freed Spirits were going to meet at Poor Red's and invited me to join them for lunch.  These guys have to be die-hard bikers to ride out on such a cold, misty-rainy day.  The time element prevented me from going.  As much as I would have loved seeing them all, it seemed more prudent to bring more firewood to the porch before the weather got any worse.  January 1 remained blank.  Sigh.

The temperature kept dropping all day and Stove had his work cut out.  The goats had their play yard to hide out in and the big door to the chicken coop remained closed.  Bessie's trips outside were brief and the cats lazed in front of the fire.

The long-promised (or threatened, depending on whether the Kids were coming up) snow arrived at o'dark-thirty this morning, the first snowfall of the year.  (Pictures tomorrow.)  I don't know what fluff-head moved the Rose Parade to January 2nd; whatever happened to tradition?  It "don't seem fittin'," and some people don't have Monday off.  I had time set aside yesterday...I may or may not watch it today.  Phffft!

I hope everyone's calendar gets filled with wondrous things, joyous times with family and friends.  Think of 2017 as a coming attraction!

It was a good day.

Addendum:  Kit was right...could not post this "issue" due to loss of satellite dishes for computer and TV.  Aarrgh!  It snowed steadily for nearly seven hours, but not much stuck (other than on the dishes).  The girls had to deal with my frigid fingers and the chickens took one look and said, "Oh hell no!  Not going out in that!"  Thanks for hanging in there, everybody.  Joys of country living, and all that.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bye-bye 2016

The last morning of 2016 is a pretty good depiction of the year, I think.  Plenty of clouds and a struggling bright spot.  I'm betting on the bright spot!  As a matter of fact, as the day went on the sun took over and it was a gorgeous day, finding a dying chicken notwithstanding (another dark cloud, dadrattit).

When we were all younger, I would call each of my Kids at midnight on New Year's Eve.  This year I promised I wouldn't do that.  It wouldn't be kind, no matter how sincere the wish, now that we're more "mature."  I did touch base with a number of friends and family throughout the day, especially those I don't keep in close contact with.  It's a fitting way to end the old year.

Living it up last night, country style, cats, dog and I took our evening nap, woke up and trooped off down the hall to bed, only to be wakened at 12 by the obligatory gunshots echoing through the hills, the noise assuring we're all safe from evil spirits!

Bessie Anne, Ralph, Celeste, Cindy, Esther, Inga, Sheila, Tessie, and the fifteen chickens left, join me in wishing everyone a happy, healthy (emphasis on healthy), hopefully prosperous and peaceful New Year!