Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Big Doings

Having electricity but no satellite connection was like looking through the bakery window; all those goodies and no way to reach them.  I played interminable games of solitaire, and then when the sun was up high enough to melt the snow off the dishes, I was out of time to do anything but gear up and get to the barn.  C'est la guerre.

Linda introduced me to a new-to-me, very good Chinese restaurant where we met for a most pleasant, leisurely lunch to celebrate her birthday.  I certainly couldn't windge about the smattering of snow here when she told of the three or four inches that fell at her place.

Taking advantage of the trip to town, I stopped to buy new barn shoes, the current pair falling into shreds.  Imagine my joy when I found exactly what I wanted (and have been buying for a couple of years) for less than half-price.  I bought two pair!  The bad part is that they're probably closing that style out, hence the sale.  Drat.

Pete is now an official resident of Orangevale.  I am so glad he missed the worst of the weather for his move.  (It doesn't snow in Orangevale.)

Sunset last evening was pretty spectacular.  However...

there wasn't much competition with the photo Larry shared from his view in Hawaii.  I sent him the picture of snow on the deck and asked if he wanted to trade.  He said no.

It was a good day.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Later, 'Gator!

It wasn't a lot of snow; just enough to fill the dishes and block the TV and computer this morning.  Big doings today:  I'm meeting Linda in town to celebrate her birthday, and I'm out of time.

Catch ya later, alligator!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

And It Was!

I just knew yesterday was going to be a great day, and it was!  The weather was crisp and dry.  There was time after barn chores to do some last-minute housework and prep for dinner before Clay arrived.  One of my first questions when the Kids come up is, "What is your time frame?," so I can plan accordingly when cooking is involved.  Especially given the poor state of our roads, I understand completely when someone says they want to get out of the hills before dark.

I'm not kidding when I say the kitchen is the warmest room in the house in winter when I'm cooking, and there are stools for guests to keep me company.  Some of the best conversations happen in the kitchen, and yesterday was no exception.  I love having one-on-one time.  I asked Clay, "How is it you requested liver and onions for your birthday dinner?"  Even for me, it's a bit out of the ordinary.  My reputation really went on the line when he told me he'd hated liver when he was a kid and thought it was time to give it another try.  Oh, crum.  There was potential for disaster here.

The meal started coming together:  roasted Brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, plenty of caramelized sliced onions, and, at the last minute, sauteed liver.  We agreed that our mothers had fried liver until it was as tough as shoe leather and dry.  The trick is to brown it well on both sides and take it out of the pan.  Liver cooks very quickly, only three or four minutes to a side.

Clay's reaction made it all worthwhile and my rep remains intact.  It was darned good, if I do say so myself.  Along about sundown, we went out to put the kids to bed.  The temperature was dropping again and Clay brought up a couple of wagons of wood.  I know that was an act of kindness, but there might have been a hint of self-preservation.  (Since we were going into the living room, I finally lit a fire.)

All in all, it was a great visit and a very good day, indeed.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sun, No Heat

Minus the snow, yesterday was a repeat of the day before.  That is to say, cold.  Beau came to put a stop-block on the coop door.  Standing outside while he worked, even in direct sunlight I was chilled, and when the only big cloud floated in front of the sun, the temperature plummeted.  The rest of the clouds in a blue, blue sky looked like cotton balls on a stage set, hardly moving.

Not expecting anyone, it was startling when the doorbell rang in the afternoon.  Preferring to err on the side of caution, I peered out before opening the door and saw the "Wells-Fargo Wagon" (Fed-Ex) drive away.  There on the porch step was a care package from my friend Kit "to help with cabin fever."  Two kinds of English muffins and a jar of strawberry jam.  As they say, three guesses what I had for dinner and the first two don't count.  Warmth from friendship beats sunshine every day.

Clay is coming up today, so it's going to be another great day.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Crazy Day

It had already started to melt off, but I awoke to about an inch of snow on the deck yesterday.  It wasn't supposed to snow until Sunday.  Surprise!

The sun came out and the day was bright, beautiful, and cold.  Fearing the possibility of black ice on the road, I waited until noon to go to the market.  What used to be a ten-mile, fifteen-minute trip up to Holiday, because of the sinkhole and having to take a detour, just one way took eighteen-plus miles and a half hour.

I was still unloading the truck when Beau drove up.  He'd bought the materials for the chicken-coop door, and set to work.  As we stood chatting for a minute, suddenly a cloud came over and snow started falling.  I know enough to stay out of a working man's way.  Besides, I had to get some wood up to the house and get a fire started.  There was evidently one last thing that Beau needed to do when he called it quits.  Standing on the porch, covered in snow, he said he'd be back today.

You know how it is when a menu gets stuck in your head?  I haven't made chicken-fried steak in years, but it sounded good to me and since I was at the store anyhow, I picked up the meat.  Steak, mashed potatoes, cream gravy...mmm!

It was a crazy weather day, for sure.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Weak But Welcome

Ground fog shrouded the hills and pastures and I was almost done in the barn before the sun finally broke through.  Oh, goody!  I was able to leave the gate and door closed for the day and the girls immediately spread out in the big pen to graze.

Given that it wasn't raining, I sent Helper Dude a text asking if he could come clean the chimney, and he drove up within minutes.  I wasn't worried that the chimney would be hot because I hadn't been able to keep a fire going the night before.  It doesn't take long to run the wire brush down the flue and, sure enough, smouldering wood had built up the creosote again.  HD runs the brush; it's my job to clean out Stove.  That's the dirty part and I end up covered in soot.  Small price for heat.

Huge clouds drifted around, but Bess and I spent time out in the weak winter sunshine just because we could.  Bessie cruised around the yards and up and down the driveway.  Like the goats and me, she's been feeling the effects of being housebound, too.  Energized with ambition, I got a number of sundry chores taken care of.

It being National Margarita Day (who knew?), I made what I call Margarita Chicken for dinner.  Chicken browned with onion and garlic, and a reduced sauce of tequila and lime.  It's really very good.  The alcohol cooks off, leaving that warm tequila flavor.

Stove cooperated fully last night.  That's a good thing because it is 32 degrees this morning.  It's a chilly start to what I hope will be another sunny day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Glory Be

Wow!  I just let Bess out and it took me a minute to realize that strange light in the sky was the moon.  I could actually see the moon and stars.  It's not raining!

Rain.  Rain and wind again yesterday.  There were periods of letup, but it was definitely a "big-room" day for the girls.  Inga has always pawed a trench by one stall wall.  I'd fill it in, she'd dig it out.  I finally gave up and worked around it.  It's maybe a foot deep.  Well, she won't be digging for awhile.  Ground water seeped in and she had a wading pool.  Thankfully, it drained during the day and now she has a mud wallow.

I don't know whether it is the wood or Stove, but I've been having a terrible time starting and then keeping a fire going.  Consequently, the house is freezing.  If we do get a dry day, I'll ask Helper Dude to clean the chimney again.  It's possible that smoke from wet firewood created a creosote buildup.

Nothing for it but to get the trash down to the big road, so Bess and I went slipping and sliding down, trying to keep Truck from going into the ditches.  I really thought a couple of times I'd have to throw it in 4WD on the way back.  Beau was on his way to pick up his kids at the bus stop, and we stopped to talk for a minute.  I asked about his carpentry skills (what guy is going to refuse a challenge like that?).  He came by later to look at the disintegrating door to the chicken coop, and said he'd have a new one built by next week.  Glory be.

If Weather Guy can be believed, the next big rain won't come until Sunday.  Sunday, the day Pete is moving to NorCal.  It's a long drive up anytime, but seemingly goes on forever in the rain.  He's really excited about his house and has great plans for each room.  Having always lived in apartments, it will be like a palace to him.  It will be grand to have him close again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On And On

I'm not knocking it (and I hope I don't jinx it), but I'm amazed we haven't lost power.  Holy cow, the winds have been fierce.  It rained steadily all day yesterday and through the night.  There are two kinds of rainy days:  if the rain is light and sporadic, I open the gate to the play yard for the girls; if it's a downpour or steady, they get to go into the big room, as well.  Yesterday was definitely a big-room day.  It puts a crimp in my schedule because I can't get past them to clean the back stalls.  They want to come too and then it's chaos in the narrow hallway.  They're like beads of mercury or a pinball machine, scattering here and there and almost impossible to gather up again.

I make full use of the DVR feature, recording several or more episodes of favorite shows to watch back to back.  I like it when the guide says "Part I of..." because I'll wait until the mini-series is complete and then it's like going to the movies.  There are exceptions, of course, and "Mercy Street" is one of those.  It's a fact-based drama about the Civil War era and I watch it right away.  I'm waiting for Part II of "Midsomer Murders," another favorite.  "Victoria" is an another excellent PBS series (do they make any other kind?) and I had three episodes stacked up.  It's as good a way as any to while away a rainy day.

Happy birthday to my plus-one Kid Clay!  He's coming up next Saturday and has requested liver and onions for dinner.  Now that's a Kid after my own heart.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Old Hat

Approaching storm prep is getting to be old hat now, we've had so many lately.  Something added was to turn on the ice maker; it's a rather enthusiastic appliance so I often turn it off.  The last storm was so recent, I'd not generated enough laundry to do again, but did run the dishwasher just in case.  The ash can was emptied and more wood to the porch.  The teapot was filled in case I need to use Kathy V.'s packet of instant coffee.  Got all my bills paid while I still had use of the computer.  We're about as ready as we can be, I hope.

I texted Larry that we're in for another big one.  That rotten Kid responded that it was 78 degrees with a light breeze in Honolulu.  Phffft.  Told him that when I get the ark built, all the animals and I will sail over and visit him.  Serves him right!

I think the weather has Celeste a little distressed.  I find her security piglets all over the house, and she's even brought one to bed with her for comfort at night.  Ralph has been needier than usual, too, claiming space on my lap more frequently.  That's okay, they are energy-efficient space heaters.

They weren't kidding about the severity of the wind, although they mentioned "gusting."  When it hit last night, it was unrelentingly sustained and it was a doozy.  I hate going to sleep at night thinking, "Save the house and the trees."  It has lessened somewhat this morning, and the rain is just ordinary, everyday rain.

Just another day in Paradise.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lucky Me

Really caught a break yesterday.  I try hard never to run out of staples so that I can make trips to town on my own schedule; however, certain items were getting critically low.  I'd meant to go the day before, but being a wuss, I didn't want to go in a downpour.  There's a local FB page where there are many postings regarding road closures, sinkholes, potholes, and flooded bridges.  Believe me, I checked that site before heading out the door.  While it wasn't sunny, it wasn't raining either, and I hoped my luck would hold for the trip.

The two critical roads I had to travel were both open.  There's a bumper sticker supposedly making the rounds up here:  "I'm not drunk, I'm avoiding potholes."  It makes me laugh, because I've said that before to any flatlander riding with me.  On my way out, I noted a big one in the eastbound lane and committed it to memory for the trip home.  Some of these holes are big enough to pop a tire or bust an axle.  Even with eyes on the road, I saw puddles of gold on the sides where clumps of daffodils were in bloom.  The prediction is for flood-stage rain for the next four days, but it's nice to see signs that spring will be here soon.

My cold continues to hang on.  I hoped that after two weeks of wracking cough, I wasn't contagious.  I sure wouldn't wish this on anyone.  I made quick trips through two stores without coughing once, so I don't think I was the local Typhoid Mary.

Made it home just as it started to drizzle.  It's always fun to make trip after trip from the truck to the house in the rain, but I'm not complaining.  Lucky me, it was dry the entire trip!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Can't Dance

There's an old saying about winter weather on a farm, "Can't dance, and it's too wet to plow."  That's about where we are now, and weather is the topic of conversation everywhere.  Probably boring if you're not in it: well, it's boring if you are, but we're stuck with what we've got.

I'm going to name the almond tree Little Engine (children's book, "The Little Engine That Could").  It probably has the worst timing in the world, but, by golly, it's going to bloom regardless.  There are clumps of traveling daffodils putting out buds now, too.  None of the daffys are where I planted the bulbs.  I've not been able to figure out how and why they migrate, but it's kind of fun to see where they'll show up each year.

With little else to do yesterday, I watched "Gran Torino" (2008, Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang) and "Quigley Down Under" (1990, Tom Selleck, Laura San Giacomo, Alan Rickman), both movies having  to do with tolerance.  There are worse ways to spend a rainy day.

Friday, February 17, 2017

That Thing

Thing struck again and he really overstepped the boundaries this time.  I put up with so much from him:  the floor of the feed shed is littered with stored items flung from a wall of shelves, boxes torn open, bags ripped apart.  Long ago he chewed a hole in the scratch-barrel lid, and I even accepted that.  Yesterday I poured a new bag of feed into the barrel - and watched it spill out through a squirrel-size hole at the bottom.  This not a self-serve establishment, no matter what he thinks.  I hesitate to buy a metal trash can because the lids fit tightly and might create condensation inside, making the feed moldy.  Having found a way into this barrel, I'm afraid a new plastic can would be an exercise in futility.  That darned Thing.

Nature gave us a bit of a break.  After a rainy morning, after noon she relented and the clouds drifted over.  Bess and I went out to sit on the front porch to catch some rays.  It was warmer outside than in the house anyway.  Sure made for a pretty sunset.

If you don't count Thing, it was a good day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Can't say Nature didn't give us fair warning this time around.  After a lackluster day, she started bringing in her troops with an impressive show of force.  Wind and rain struck during the night and continue this morning.  I could do without the wind, and I'm sure those downhill from Oroville Dam and along the levees are holding their breath again with more rain coming.

I wish I had something fun and exciting to write about.  No, seriously, I really wish that, but pre-storm prep days are deadly dull, I fear.  Laundry, dishwasher, wood to the porch.  Wow.

Another ten days or so and Pete will be making his move up from SoCal.  Fingers crossed for better weather then.  Moving is onerous at best, and would be just plain awful in the rain.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

In Time

My morning routine down in the barn has been thrown out of whack with Cindy's death.  I'm used to doing things in a certain way:  this follows that, that before this, bring Inga out on a lead and put her on the stand, go back and let Cindy out....  I don't seem to be able to break the habit of going into the back stalls because that's what comes next.  Time; it just takes time.

This is evidently one of those dratted chest colds that is going to take a long time to get over.  It has, however, given me the best excuse to sit in the sunshine (while there is sunshine) and do nothing.  Bess is totally down with that and we bask on the deck together after barn chores.

The past few days have been glorious, making it hard to face the rain and low snow that are predicted starting tomorrow.  We begged for rain for five years and, boy!, are we getting it.  The hills and fields are green, green, green.  John Dear and I will have ample time to bond this year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Cats, unlike dogs, are not known for being empathetic.  Of their many sterling qualities, they are more the "I want what I want when I want it" sort of pet.  Celeste, however, seems to have picked up on and is sharing my stress vibes of the last week.  She wanders up and down the hall, mewing piteously (for no apparent reason), and carrying one of those knitted piglets for comfort.  Go figure.  She makes me think of Linus and his security blanket in the "Peanuts" cartoon.

Feast or famine, drought or flood.  We don't seem able to reach an even balance.  Northern California is under major stress right now because of all the recent rain, more than the levees and the dam in Oroville can handle.  Over a hundred thousand people are displaced due to mandatory evacuations affecting entire towns, not knowing when they'll be allowed to go home or what they'll find when they do.  The logistics of putting that many people on the road with less than an hour's notice is a nightmare in itself.  At one point there was a thirty-mile long string of cars trying to leave, and gas stations were running out of product.  This doesn't address all the domestic and farm animals involved, and most of the towns are in rural areas.  And where does one go?  Now that's big-time stress.

Cam came by last evening to catch the news as she doesn't have a TV, and we sat with eyes glued watching crews on the ground and in the air try to repair a broken spillway on the Oroville Dam.  I'd watched previously as water began to pour over an emergency section that has never before been needed when the lake ran over one-hundred percent capacity.  Nature has proved her point.  The worst part is we're due for another week of rain starting Thursday.

Maybe Celeste knows something I don't.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Send Soup

Dang, the sun shines and what do I do?  Not a darned thing.  This cold is a doozy and all I want to do is take another nap.  More rain is due by the weekend and I need to bring more wood to the porch.  I reach for another tissue.  The chicken coop door is falling apart.  Instead of going for a hammer, I heat a can of soup.  I did go out with Bess for a short walk yesterday and had a heart-stopping moment when I could find only three of the four remaining goats in the pen.  Who's missing?  Oh, crum, it's Esther.  She is only a half-hour younger than her sister Cindy and I thought losing two in two days would be too much.  Not able to stand the suspense, I walked down into the pen and found Esther basking in the sun behind the barn.  Whew.  I explained she was not to worry me like that again (for all the good that will do).

If I needed an indicator of how much rain we've received this season, I have (or do not have) the salt block.  I've never had to buy more than two forty-pound trace-mineral salt blocks a year.  Regardless of weather, it has taken the goats six months to wear a block down to nothing.  I put a new block down in January and between the rain falling down and the run-off underneath, there is not even a smidgeon left in less than a month and the girls are licking the ground.  I see a trip to the feed store in my future today.

I've hesitated to leave the house because potholes, sink holes, and falling trees and landslides abound in our county.  People who leave in the morning often can't get back home because of some disaster or another.  County road workers are dashing around like headless chickens, trying to keep up.  Bless 'em for their efforts.

The local maintenance crew is also hard at work.  Vultures have the day shift and coyotes take over at night.  Another day or two and there will be nothing left but a memory of my little black goat who continues to give sustenance as she did throughout her life.

I'm going to raid the freezer as I'm pretty sure there are some bags of split pea-and-ham soup in there.  Soup is good for the soul (and about the only thing that sounds good right now).

On a truly bright note, it's my son Dave's birthday!  I made the traditional, official early morning call well before daylight.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Helping Hands

As I had thought, the herd had said their farewells to Cindy the night before and I wasn't surprised when I went in the barn and found her around the corner at the far end of the hall.  I had worked out the logistics before going down:  pull the body outside, bring John Dear, tie on and haul her out of the pen.  All this needed to be done before letting the other girls out of their stalls.  It's a plan that has worked in the past, but it's been a long time.  Either this cold has sapped my strength or, more likely, I've just gotten old, but I could  pull that dead weight only halfway to the door and no farther.  Well, that put me in a pickle.  I couldn't get Inga or Sheila out in the narrow hallway so we were all stuck.  I'd thought I could handle this by myself:  I was wrong.  Just then I heard my neighbor fire up his forklift at the winery.  I had no choice but to flag him down and ask for help.  "Can it wait?  I mean, she's not going anywhere, right?"  No, Cindy wasn't going anywhere, but I explained I couldn't get the others out and I just needed five minutes and his muscles to get her out of the barn and I'd take it from there.  His wife was not pleased, but he agreed and came over, got the deed done, and went back with my thanks.

As I had to leave the gate open to get John Dear down to the barn, Step B had to happen before letting the others out in the pen.  I've not driven John since before burn season shut down in July and getting him up and running is a very complicated process.  Quite proud of myself, I got him started and then he became John Not-So-Dear.  Reverse is operated with a foot pedal instead of a lever, and John was not cooperating and refused to back up.  Running late as I was, I became desperate and put in a call to Beau who, bless his heart, came to the crazy lady's rescue in a short time.  Meanwhile, I had no choice but to go ahead to feed and milk my diminished herd.  Cindy's body had the girls already spooked, and it only got worse when Beau's blue heeler (Australian cattle dog) followed him down the road.  Pepper was desperate to get in the pen and do what heelers do best but she is young and Bess was able to distract her from herding and just play tag.

It took some finagling and some of Beau's brute strength (can't say I was a lot of help), but finally Cindy was put to rest down in the front woods.  I really hate to ask, but am so grateful for helping hands.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Bright Side

Might as well start off with the highlight of the day.  There was an honest-to-God sunset last evening, something we've gone a week without seeing.  As a bonus, there was also a full moon last night.  Hey, take what you get and be glad that you got it!

One of my mantras is, "It's too depressing to stay depressed," and it was time to climb out of the pit of despair.  Insurance Guy called and the company did, in fact, decide to total the truck.  No surprise there.  The thing is, Truck is still driveable, albeit bruised, so I don't have to incur further debt.  I did suggest via email to the perky young thing I'd spoken to at the time of the incident that she might want to take a "wait-and-see" position rather than blindly assuring that all would be well.

Cindy made it through the day, but was down last evening.  The rest of the girls, who have been mean to my little black goat in the past, were hovering over her and giving her gentle prods of encouragement and making reassuring sounds.  They really didn't want to leave her, but did go with me down to the barn and into their rooms.  Going back to Cindy, I talked to her and stroked her, and was finally able to get her on her feet.  She made her way unsteadily down the hill, but couldn't make it all the way back to her stall so I made her as comfortable as possible and left her in the enclosed hallway for the night.  Cindy, at close to sixteen years, is at the upper limits of normal lifespan (although Camille assures me she had a goat live to thirty!).  She's been to the brink a number of times and rallied, but I really think it is time to say goodbye.  She obviously feels miserable and the bright spot would be the end of that.  That's not to say I won't be dragging my feet going down to the barn this morning.

The last time (years back) I had a cold and cough this bad, I cracked a rib.  Thankfully, that hasn't happened with this go-round.  See, there's always something good.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Don't Ask

There are those times in life when the one thing you simply do not ask is, "What else else can go wrong?"  When you're in deep doodah, the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut and keep paddling.

Cindy wasn't looking good in the morning.  She needed guidance out of the barn, didn't come in for breakfast, and lay down in the pen as if the sun were shining.  It was drizzling.  I got her up and under shelter before leaving the barn.

Tony, the insurance guy, was over an hour late getting here.  After asking for directions, he decided on his own to come down Mt. Aukum Rd., which is closed due to the huge sinkhole.  In other words, you can't get here from there.  I'll never understand why people will put their faith in GPS instead of the person who lives here.  Instead of asking a few questions and taking a couple of photos, Tony took the better part of an hour with a full-scale inspection of Truck.  Inside, outside, under the hood, checking the oil, etc., etc., etc.  The wind came up and the rain came down before he was finally done.  In spite of the assurances by the nice lady that all would be well, Tony was full of gloom and doom.  Truck would have to have two panels replaced (I knew that), and "those are pretty high-end items."  (Not my problem.)  The upshot was that it is probable that the company would buy Truck for a pittance, not even enough for a down payment on another, or to give me even less if I want to keep him and drive him as is.  He admitted that Truck is in excellent shape, otherwise.  In other words, Bill wiped out my truck and will go on his merry way in a 2012 truck with a small dent in a front fender and I will be left driving a beater hoopty through no fault of my own.

After Tony left, I spent the afternoon throwing a pity party for one (me).  The weather suited my mood, for sure.  At what I assumed was sunset, I went with trepidation to put the kids to bed.  I couldn't find Cindy at first, got the others tucked in, and went around the barn looking.  Still on her feet, Cindy was the most forlorn goat ever, standing out in the rain.  I managed to get her into her stall for the night, but it's not looking good.

Emotionally drained, I went to bed early but awoke a couple of hours later.  It's futile to try to go back to sleep when your mind is in a squirrel cage, circling faster and faster and going nowhere, so I got up and turned on the computer.  Facebook is a good way to numb the brain so I spent hours calming my thoughts and then the power went out.  Aarrgh.  Don't ask.

Power is back this morning.  (Insert smiley face here.)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Get Thee To An Infirmary

(Apologies to Shakespeare.)

Pardon me while I pour another whine.  Yesterday I came down with the cold that Larry so generously shared from his time here last weekend.  The timing for his party could not have been worse and I know he would rather have been huddled under a blanket somewhere rather than socializing while hacking and blowing.  I would not have missed giving him a last hug before he moves, cold or no cold, but I hope I'm the only one who caught his bug.  The others have jobs to go to and being ill is not on their agendas.

It's been a long, long time since I've been sick and it makes me cranky.  Tissues at the ready and a pocketful of cough drops, I sit in my chair with a covering of cats during the day and feel sorry for myself, knowing I'll have to gear up and put goats to bed.  Cranky is catching and the goats are feeling it.  I really wasn't up for dealing with one-horned Tessie in the confines of the back hallway when she went everywhere last night but where she should have been.  When she swings that twelve-inch sword, it could do real damage.  Mission accomplished, I squelched back to the house, put another log on the fire, and settled in for the night.

Yesterday I called and offered the insurance adjuster the opportunity to reschedule.  Today is supposed to be the worst day of this latest storm, with the possibility of three inches of rain falling.  The Cosumnes River is reaching flood stage and huge potholes are forming in roads everywhere.  Mt. Aukum Road may be closed for months between Somerset and Pleasant Valley due to a cavern under the pavement that is said to be as big as a living room.  Tony declined the offer; on his own head be it.

"Into each life, a little rain must fall."  (Longfellow said it first, but I like Ella Fitzgerald's version better.)  I'm about ready for a dry spell.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


It rained so hard in the morning that my jacket and hoodie were still wring-'em-out wet by bedtime.  I'm talking wet!  In early afternoon the wind died down and the rain had slowed to a drizzle.  It seemed the right time to make a dash to the feed store for goat chow, so Bess and I went to Mt. Aukum.  The bed of the truck was a virtual swimming pool and the feed would have to go behind the front seat, so instead of backing in as I usually do, I pulled up next to an already-parked truck, nodded a greeting to the driver, and went in to pay for my purchase.  Assuming the older gentleman was on the same mission, I didn't pay much attention when I noticed him behind me in line (I wasn't the only one taking advantage of the break in the weather at the store).  However, as I was leaving he stopped me.  "I'm so sorry, but as I was backing out I cut the wheels the wrong way and 'bumped' your truck."  I thanked him sincerely for staying to tell me; he could have driven off and I've had had no idea who caused the damage, and we went out to take a look.  Let's just say we have different definitions of a bump.  Awww, poor Truck.  Truck is nearly twenty years old, I've had him for seventeen, and he's never had so much as a scrape in the paint.

I say with some pride that in nearly sixty-two years since I got my license I've never had an accident or even a ticket, and that includes the years I was driving all over as a consultant.  Consequently, I had no idea of procedure in such an event.  What should have been a half-hour excursion turned into a two-hour stay as Bill made calls (plural) to his insurance company.  He talked to the agent, I talked to the agent, then it was Bill's turn again.  Finally, all information was given and we shook hands.  I thanked him again for waiting to tell me; I know he'd have rather had a poke in the eye with a frozen carrot.

Bess and I were barely inside again when Bill's insurance agent called to fill me in on what happens next and to assure me that Truck would be well cared for, a rental vehicle would be provided, and an adjuster would be contacting me to inspect the damage.  Tony called just a short while later and we have an appointment here for Thursday.

The wind is up again this morning and the rain is pounding.  Awww, crum.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Yesterday was another prep day for a possible power outage:  laundry, charging the cell phone, dishwasher, etc.  Good grief, I've had just about enough of this wind and rain.  My hearing is strained as I'm constantly listening for the crack and crash of a falling tree.  The yards are littered with broken branches, ranging from four-inch, eight-foot logs to twiggy bits.  My friend Kathy V. sent a "comfort" package with a homemade fruitcake and a packet of instant coffee for when we lose electricity, and Deb, Craig, and Clay gave me small, very powerful flashlights to keep throughout the house.  I'm about as ready as I can be, but am holding on to hope that they won't be needed (except for the fruitcake, from which I've had a couple of trial slices).

The wind is constantly changing direction.  When it comes from the west, it blows rain all the way across the porch and soaks the firewood on the rack.  Makes it hard to start and keep a fire burning, and the cats huddle on my lap to get warm.  Rambunctious Ralph surprisingly asks polite permission before jumping up, but sedate Celeste bulls her way up without a by-your-leave.  None of us gets much rest as I'm constantly getting up to either stoke or restart the wood stove.  Wind from the south, as it is now, sends rain like shotgun pellets against the bedroom windows.  Enough already!

Monday, February 6, 2017


I'm not the only one driven batty by dreary, constant rain.  Yes, it started coming down again yesterday, and I was reminded of the 1932 movie "Rain" with Joan Crawford and Walter Huston, and "The Rains Came" (1939, Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy), remade in 1955 as "The Rains of Ranchipur" with Lana Turner and Richard Burton.  Rain played a starring role in each of these old films.  I wonder what Shakespeare would have said about this constant downpour.  Portia's speech in "The Merchant Of Venice" might have gone in a different direction when she said, "The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven...."  There's nothing gentle about the deluge falling on us nor the accompanying fierce winds.

However, the rain gave me a good excuse to stay inside after Larry and Wendy left, nap in the chair, and watch Superbowl 51.  Clay had bought me a square in a betting pool (I had to have the logistics of that explained) but neither of us won a dime.  Dave called to ask for some Mama Mojo for his numbers and he did come out ahead.  Regardless, I was pretty happy the Patriots were able to pull off a win in overtime.  It had looked dismal in the first half.

Not that I have any influence on Nature, but I'm about ready for some sunshine.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Different Tune

It was a perfect day for it not to rain so I could quit singing that same old song.  The Kids started coming up around noonish:  Deb and Craig, then Clay, Dave and his friend Lorraine, and finally Larry and his lady, Wendy.  That all worked out well because I had time to celebrate Christmas and various birthdays as each group came in.  Tacos, enchiladas, frijoles, guacamole, and all the fixings went on the table and were gone!  Of course, as soon as the plates were cleared the cards and chips came out.  Sad to say, I lost my week's allowance.  No quarter asked, no quarter given.  Mamas get no special consideration when it comes to poker.  Drat.

Larry and Wendy stayed over.  We were up late.  I can't remember the last time I slept in as I did today.  I do believe I can take down the Christmas tree now.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Rainy Day Blues

It seems I'm singing the same song day after day lately.  "It's raining.  Wa-a-a, wa-a-a, wa-a-a."  It wasn't that long ago that we were all doing a rain dance and looking for clouds in the sky, but honestly, enough is enough already!  Weather Guy said that the snow pack in the Sierras is 178% of normal, so we're covered for the next year.  I'm ready for some sunshine big time.

It was raining yesterday, but not too hard, while tending the chickens and on my way to the barn.  Then, while milking, a huge clap of thunder sounded right overhead and shook the ground.  (I wasn't sure for a moment that the tree hadn't fallen.)  The skies opened up, rain pounded on the roof, and the thunder rolled.  Needless to say, I was a sodden mess as I squelched my way back to the house.

Milking doesn't take as long now since Inga has finally decided to call it quits.  She's been a heavy milker for more years than I can remember and was almost impossible to dry up even when I wanted her to.  Inga has more than earned her keep and is due for retirement.  From more than a gallon a day, she's down to about a cup and it's not worth her time or mine to continue for such a piddly amount.  It seems very strange to carry just one bucket to and from the barn.  The girls will live out their days here, but they're very expensive pets.

Drop-ins are very rare here, so I was surprised when the doorbell rang in the afternoon.  "Hi, I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by."  It was my long-time friend Tom and his visit was a bright spot on a gloomy day.  It's hard to believe that his daughter, for whom they'd bought milk since she was a baby, will be going to high school next semester.  Yes, I guess it has been that long.

Rain or not, my Kids are coming up today so I know it's going to be a good day!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ach Du Lieber!

So far, so good on the tree situation, but the wind did a number on the barn roof.  I got the clue when I saw shards of clear plastic in the grass by the door and knew one of the corrugated plastic panels was no more.  The only question was how bad was the damage.  My vocabulary of expletives is getting a workout these days, for sure.  Knowing the girls as I do, I picked up everything I could find before starting our morning routine.  Turned out that it was the "skylight" over Cindy's stall, but only about a quarter had fractured and blown off.  She still has plenty of dry space to lie down.  I dug a trench to drain rain away under the open area, but there wasn't much I could do about the increased breezy conditions.  Finished with the milking, I was leaving the barn and, wouldn't you know it, there was Sheila over in the big pen with a piece of plastic that I'd missed in her mouth.  Doggone goats.  "Don't eat that, you goose!  Give me that!!"  I managed to snatch it away and can only hope she didn't swallow any razor-sharp pieces.  Goats are worse than little kids for getting into anything and everything they shouldn't.

I heard from each of the travelers during the day.  Larry will be leaving for Hawaii in a week (!!) and Pete will be moving to Orangevale by the end of the month, and this is a short month.  Big changes for both of my guys, and I wish them much happiness in their new surroundings.  In my text conversation with Larry, he invited me to come with him, bringing the goats and one chicken.  One chicken?!  I told him I couldn't bear to look the other fourteen in their beady eyes and tell them they'd be left behind.  And what about Bessie Anne, Ralph, and Celeste?  And who would feed Thing, aka Destructo, the ground squirrel, or the turkeys?  No.  No Hawaii in my future.  I stand a better chance of getting to Orangevale, about 25 miles out of Sacramento.  It should be noted that I get down to Sacramento maybe once or twice a year.  Long gone are the days when I was consulting and would easily log 35-40,000 miles annually.

The wind is howling.  Again/still.  I wonder what I'll find out there this morning, she said with fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

East, West, And In Between

There was a sunrise in the east yesterday, but you had to look quick because the clouds rolled over moments later and that was that.

The dratted wind kicked up and once again I fear for the trees.  Weather Guy hadn't said anything about wind for this go-round.  I'd planned on bringing more wood to the porch, but didn't want to get beat up by a whipping tarp.  These things take planning and timing.  Bess was doing much better, so I cancelled her appointment with the vet.  It's not her favorite place to go, anyhow.  On the trip to town, there were many trees down and any number of mudslides and I wasn't anxious to make that drive again.

Is there anything sadder than unrequited love?  Narcissus is back, cooing and preening to impress that bird in the shiny truck bumper.  When he gets no response in the front, he runs hopefully around to the back.  (As an aside, it seems wild turkeys have a natural lifespan of up to twelve years.  I just love Google, an instant encyclopedia!)  Turkeys are not a species that mate for life, but Narcissus remains true to his reflection.

There wasn't much difference in the sky at sundown.  Were it not for the trees, west looked the same as east.

Narcissus wasn't the only returnee yesterday.  In dim light in the shed after taking this photo, I reached into the bottom of the barrel to get grain for the chickens' nighty-night treat and felt a quick brush of fur.  Eeeuw!  I tipped the barrel and Thing made a quick escape.  Of the two, I prefer Narcissus.

The rain held off until after dark, for which I was grateful, and it seems the wind has dropped this morning.  It's going to be a good, albeit wet, day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Day Late

I feel like that camel in the ad, running around asking, "What day is it?"  There are no weekends on a farm and the days run together like water.  I had it so firmly fixed in my mind that yesterday was Monday.  I went shopping for groceries for next weekend (whenever that is), thinking it was early to buy vegetables but wanted to beat the rain that is predicted for, you guessed it, today.

The deal is this:  Camille and I share a trash barrel, neither of us generating enough to fill a separate barrel and justify the bill.  We put our stuff in on Tuesday and one of us hauls it across the road for Wednesday morning pick up.  We even talked about it last night, for all the good that did.  It wasn't until I was getting ready for bed that it struck like a bolt of lightning that yesterday was, in fact, Tuesday and I was a day late.  Guess what I was doing in the dark this morning.  Trash Guy makes his rounds early, early, early.  Bessie Anne looked at me like I'd gone bonkers as I loaded her into the truck before 5 a.m.  "Okay, if you say so, Mom, but you haven't even had your coffee yet."  "Believe me, kid, I know that."

It was a good thing that reality struck when it did, and not just for the trash.  Bess has an appointment at the vet's office today (Wednesday, as I keep reminding myself).  It wouldn't do to be a day late for that.  Now I just have to keep an eye on the clock.