Friday, March 31, 2017

Make My Day

At the risk of sounding like Dirty Harry (but in a good way), my Kids sure know how to make my day.  There I was, sitting at the computer and wishing I were anywhere else, when Clay called and said he would be coming up today.  Wahoo!

While down with the girls, we traded rain for a stiff breeze that blew all day long.  I left the play yard open so those kids would have a place to shelter from the wind.  Most of the time the goats hunker down in wallows they've scraped out, but at least they had a choice yesterday.

The wind chill was enough that I weakened and lit a fire in Stove after barn chores.  Unlike an open fireplace, starting a fire in Stove is a rather complicated process that requires attention until it is well and truly burning.  Three vents regulate air flow:  not enough and the fire smoulders or goes out entirely; too much and the blaze roaring up the flue could easily start a chimney fire.

While keeping one eye on Stove, I drifted into TV heaven.  I found a channel that is playing reruns of "M*A*S*H" to record and watch back to back.  I had forgotten those old favorites and how good the writing was.  When M*A*S*H first ran (1972-1983), I think I watched it for the humor.  With the passing of time and the wars in Vietnam and the Middle East and elsewhere, I find that I am more often brought to tears than laughter now.

Later in the afternoon after another stint at the computer, Bess and I were desperate for a breath of fresh air and a bit of sunshine.  We did a quick walkabout on the deck and front yard.  She and I double-timed it back to the house because that breeze was more than brisk, it cut to the bone.

That's about the time Clay called and made my day.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

First Shot

The enemy has fired the first shot in the annual battle for the annuals.  Silly me, I was trying again to grow lettuce on the deck and the leaves had gotten nearly to the point of picking, especially on that now-nubbly mess in the back.  I caught sight of the sneaky salad sniper skulking away and went out to assess the damage.  Dang it!  Isn't it enough that the grubby, grabby ground squirrels eat the bird seed, the chicken feed, and the goat chow?  Must they take the food from my mouth, too?  It's war, I say!

I should have been inside toiling at the computer, but seduced by the sunshine, raking leaves from the herb garden suddenly became the order of the day.  I really wanted to get a head count on the peonies, and uncovered five so far.

It turned out that it was a good thing I got my dose of vitamin D yesterday as rain came in the night and who knows what today will hold.  At least the rain will keep the enemy temporarily in their bunkers and out of my salad bowl.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Watching laundry dancing on the breeze on a sunny day is good for what ails ya, guaranteed to cure the winter blues.  Any excuse to get outside yesterday was a good one.  All those dark, long-sleeve shirts and my flannel gown will soon be replaced with tee-shirts and tank tops.  The bibbies will, of course, stay on.  (I was told in the grocery store the other day that I looked "cute" in my overalls.  "Cute" is not a word I associate with myself nor with bibbies, but I took it as a compliment and said thank you.)

It being that time of year, I had to spend a good portion of the day inside at the computer.  The onerous task was made more palatable by glancing past the monitor at the glorious bouquet of forsythia just outside.  I love that the plant holds its blossoms for so long.  The lilacs in front of the kitchen window are just putting out buds.  They are a catch-me-quick flower because they fade so fast.

Cam and Honey stopped by in the afternoon and we sat out on the porch to enjoy more sunshine therapy.  It was a good day.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Over The Rainbow

There's nothing like a rainbow for an attitude adjustment, and that was just what I needed yesterday to cure my case of the crankies.  The sun was out on my way to the barn.  Tessie had survived the rainy night and was lying close to the warmth of the wall with Esther on the other side.  The whole system went cattywampus when Tessie, usually the last, demanded to come in first and nobody came in in order after that because it started raining and either everybody wanted in or no one wanted to come out.  "Not my circus, not my monkeys" doesn't work for me because it is my circus.

It was a brief cloudburst and on my way back to the house, this was my view.  How's that for a spirit lifter?
I couldn't decide which shot I liked better, so I'm throwing them both in.  I'm rather partial to this bucolic scene with the old tractor (the bucket is to keep rain out of the exhaust pipe).

Good old Truck passed his smog check as he had the brake and light inspection, with flying colors.  I took the time to do some grocery shopping and then dropped off the old license plates at DMV (not my favorite place).  It began raining again and rained all the way home.  Happily, it stopped before I had to unload Truck and the day stayed sunny the rest of the afternoon.

With Truck's ordeal behind us, it's easier to look ahead with a positive attitude.  All in all, it was a good day.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Cranky:  given to fretful fussiness, irritable, crotchety.  That's the word for it, I'm cranky.  After that great day with Pete, the weather turned grey and cold again and I'm pretty darned sick of it.  Looks like today is going to be more of the same, but with more rain.  Aarrgh.  I'm tired of slogging through wet grass and mud and picking through what's left of the wood pile to find enough dry pieces to bring to the porch and having to leave the play pen and/or big room open for the goats to poop in all day.  The thought of having to make another trip to town and the cost of a smog check and having to take the old license plates back to DMV makes me testy.  I'm not fit company for man nor beast.

Even putting the girls to bed last night was a trial.  I would have thought that with the drizzling rain they would have headed to their rooms without hesitation, but no.  With effort, three of the four were tucked in, and then there was Tessie.  I wheedled and coaxed, sweet-talked and threatened, all to no avail.  We played the Chase Me game and she stayed that oh-so-irritating one step out of reach.  Darkness was falling and I still needed to get the chickens inside.  "Okay, Tess.  Last chance.  You don't want to spend the night outside, trust me on this."  "No, I won't, and you can't make me."  She was right about that.  I left the play pen gate open for her and hoped she had enough sense to get in out of the rain.  The chickens, on the other hand, were more than willing to go in for the night.

As Thumper said to Bambi, "Mama said if you can't say nuffin' nice, don't say nuffin' at all."  I've already said too much.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Gentlemen Callers

I prefer the 1973 made-for-TV version of "The Glass Menagerie" with Katharine Hepburn, but the original film with Gertrude Lawrence from 1950 was also great.  Tennessee Williams's term 'gentleman caller' is hard to forget.

Much of yesterday morning was spent preparing for my gentlemen callers. The corned beef for the delayed St. Patrick's Day dinner went in the crock pot while the coffee maker was doing its thing, so the day got an early start.  Thankfully, it was a sunny morning and I watched the chickens happily dashing about when suddenly they pulled a disappearing act and ran into the coop.  I looked up just in time to see a hawk land in a nearby oak.  Didn't I say chickens were smart?  No chicken breakfast for that bird.

After chores, I was sentenced to KP duty in the kitchen, peeling umpteen potatoes and carrots.  The chickens will have a feast today.  Pete arrived about 1 p.m.  We've always kept in touch and there have been the occasional visits, but it's been a long while since I've had the luxury of time with this Kid and it's a pleasure to renew our acquaintance, as it were.  Pete's was the first bottom to enjoy the other new chair, the one Bessie considers hers.  Omigosh, let a man come into the house and that dog turns into an outrageous flirt.  Women guests are welcomed, but Bess is definitely a man's dog and  Pete was a willing subject for her attentions.

Dinner was to go on the table at 3 so the guys could get out of the hills before dark.  We waited a half-hour for Harold, but no longer.  It's not like Harold to be a no-show and I had some concerns.  Pete and I enjoyed some lively conversation until it was time for him to leave.  To punctuate my warnings about wildlife on the roads, two deer crossed the hill across the way as he started his engine.  How nice to have another Kid to call out, "Love you!," on their way down the drive.

Harold called with profuse apologies that were, of course, accepted.  He'd been delayed by a lengthy, important business meeting.  I think we were both sorry he'd missed a good dinner.

Happily, I've got the leftover makings for colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage).  It was a good day.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Don't Wake Me, I'm Dreaming

The storm that had blown in overnight dropped another foot of snow up at Tahoe and here we were well down into the 30s again.  I'm talking cold!  Rainy days have a chill of their own, and by the time I got back from chores I felt like a character from "Frozen."  The wood rack was pitifully low but I brought in a few of the sticks left and tried to coax a fire.  It wouldn't be the blazing logs I dreamed of, but it might be enough to stop my shaking.  Daydreaming, visions of thermostats danced through my head.

I picked up Cam and we drove through the hills and the rain continued to fall.  I dropped Camille at her stop and went on to DMV, where my dream turned into a nightmare and I wished someone, anyone, would wake me up.  I'd called twice to verify exactly what was needed to make the process go smoothly and had the paperwork in hand.  The smiling young chickie-poo behind the counter gave me two more forms to complete (I'd already filled out two the young man had handed me when I finally reached the front of the line).  Then Chickie said, "Where is your smog check certification?"  No one had said I needed a smog check and Truck wasn't due for one.  "You have to get a smog check."  DMV employees are implacable.  "And I'll need your license plates."  I had no tools with me.  "Can someone here remove them for me?"  "No.  But you can bring those by later."  I wrote a check for the exorbitant fee.  "Oh dear," said CP, "I forgot to check the box for new plates.  That will be another $15."  I wrote another check.  She handed me a sheaf of papers and told me to take Truck around the building so someone could verify the VIN under the hood.  I did as ordered and Truck balked.  He refused to release the catch that would open the hood.  I worked at it, and the verifier worked at it.  Finally, Truck relented and gal checked another box, handed me back the papers and told me to go back to see CP again.  Aarrgh!  Dutifully, with difficulty I found another place to park Truck and went back in.  And Chickie said,"I'm sorry, but Steve has to be removed from the title, and that will be another $20."  "But the title was issued as 'or,' not 'and'.  Just leave him on.  He's been dead going on twelve years.  I promise he won't be driving the vehicle."  "No, we'd need his signature to do that."  (Yeah, well, good luck with that one.)  I wrote another check, anything to be released from this nightmare.  Finally, new plates in hand, this Elvis left the building.  Brake Guy also does smog checks and I called, hoping to put an end to this debacle without making another trip to town.  Brake Guy is closed on Fridays.  Of course he is.

At home at last, during a break in the rain I brought more wood to the porch, fed Stove, and sat down to nurse my wounds.

It was not a day I'd care to repeat.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Going And Coming

This week I've been changing clothes like a runway model.  Now I've got to work on that slinky, gliding walk.  Somehow I fear that won't work in barn shoes, but wouldn't that be a sight to see?

The big and little girls were so happy to be let out into sunshine for a change yesterday and so was I.  The grass is lush and ankle high in the goat pen so I've cut back on their alfalfa significantly.  After breakfast, the girls each heads for her favorite spot to bed down and soak up the rays, eyes half closed.  I could swear they were smiling.  The chickens, on the other hand, tumble down the ramp and start scratching for bugs and worms under clumps of soggy leaves.  They race around their pen like things demented, wings akimbo, whether for the exercise or because of sheer happiness, I don't know.

I met Camille for a very good lunch and the pleasure of her company.  Leaving in plenty of time, even the drive down and back was pleasant.  I have no problem pulling over to let cars in a rush to go by.  I dislike being tailgated, and I don't wish to hold up those foolish enough to speed on winding, potholed roads in wildlife country.  Sometimes I think, "There goes an accident on it's way to happen."  I don't drive slow for the conditions (45 mph), but there's always a flatlander or two who thinks freeway speed is acceptable, cutting the line on blind curves, putting others at risk.  I had to laugh, a utility truck was ahead of me and we seemed to be of like mind.  We both pulled over in the same spot twice.  "We've got to stop meeting like this!"

I got home to find a message from Candy, who was running late.  That gave me time to whip out the dust rag and swipe down another room.  (I get more done under pressure.)  Candy gave me her usual good haircut and then she was on her way again.

Loading up Bessie Anne in the truck, we headed down to Mt. Aukum to fill up Truck's tank so I can head out again today.  Aarrgh.  For a homebody, I've sure been gone a lot lately.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dancing In The Dark

I don't do much dancing in the dark (1931 song by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz), but I do stumble around in the dark in the morning.  Why is it that bare feet hone in like radar with unerring aim to find cat yark?  Yuck!  Celeste's knitted piglets are not a problem, but it's unnerving to step on the bald hamster, as well.  But I digress.

My dance card is full up this week.  Do formal dances still use dance cards?  Are there still formal dances?  Does everyone know what a dance card is?  Back in the day when Hector was a pup (there's a forgotten phrase) and I was in high school, before the prom began the girls were given cards (little booklets) with numbered lines for the boys who requested a dance to write their name, a reservation, as it were.  The last dance was always reserved for the girl's date.  But again my train of thought has gone off track.

Tuesday was Truck's inspection and lunch with Arden.  Today I'm meeting Camille at a restaurant she recommends, and I've got to dash home afterward to meet Candy, the "have scissors, will travel" hairdresser.  Friday I'm transporting Cam to P'ville to pick up a friend's car and then I'm going on to re-register Truck at DMV (not looking forward to that).  On Saturday Pete and Harold are coming for dinner.  Yesterday was another soggy day and I took the day off to recharge my personal battery.  This social whirl is wearing me out!  "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can" (1982 movie with Jill Clayburgh).

Dancing in the dark is one thing, driving in the rain is another.  It's supposed to be sunny today.  Fingers crossed! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Good Ol' Truck

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."  I've got the 'early to rise' part of Benjamin Franklin's proverb down, but I guess falling asleep in the chair negates the 'early to bed' part for this to be true or maybe it just works for men.  You know I was on the move early yesterday when I had to literally wake up the goats to get barn chores done in time to make my appoint in town.  The looks I got:  "Wha-a-a??  What are you doing here now?  It's not even light out!"  It didn't help that it was pouring down rain, but we got through it.  I'd thought about not taking the time to change clothes, but the bibbies were soaked to the knee and even my socks were wet and I couldn't envision sitting in a waiting room in that condition.

I talked to Truck all the way to Diamond Springs.  "Kid, if you've ever behaved in your life, today is the day to perform well.  A lot (an awful lot) depends on you.  I know you can do this.  Make me proud."  We were all of five minutes late, but Brake Guy didn't hold that against us.  BG forewarned me that most vehicles didn't pass inspection on the first go-round.  Well, that bit of news make my heart sink.  After all, Truck is nineteen years old.  I handed over the keys, gave Truck a pat and whispered "Good luck," and took my book in to sit and wait, dollar signs flashing in front of my eyes.

Arden arrived and we took off, BG telling us to, "Take your time."  She needed to make a stop at the bead store, a place I absolutely haunted in the past when I was heavy into beaded projects.  There is a new owner, but not much else has changed.  We then dawdled over a "taco Tuesday" lunch before she dropped me off back at the shop.  BG informed me that Truck failed the light inspection because three dinky bulbs had burned out.  "Can you replace them?"  (I'm talking about a bulb in the door that is supposed to go on when the door is opened, and the other two were just as insignificant.)  "Well, yes, but I'll have to charge you."  (Like I'd expect anything less.)  "Please do."

Instead of the five o'clock BD had projected, he was done with Truck by one.  "And the brakes?"  The brakes had passed with flying colors!  Three bright new bulbs and a wallet much lighter, we headed for home.  Good ol' Truck!!

It is pouring rain again this morning, but my personal sun is shining.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lothario's Ladies

Lothario's powers of persuasion (or perhaps his dogged persistence) paid off.  He not only convinced the three hens for whom he spent days showing off, yesterday I saw he had added a fourth to his harem.  Once he had them in his thrall, now he must zealously guard the girls against would-be suitors.  The hens go about their business, paying no attention as Lothario follows them about the property, always making sure they stay together and away from competition.  The group was in the side yard yesterday as Bessie Anne was going down the drive to check the perimeter and get a breath of fresh air.  (Girl dogs mark their territory just as boy dogs do, and it always amazes me just how much piddle a dog can hold.)  As Bess approached, Lothario puffed up to twice his size and I was worried he might consider her a threat.  There was a big fight in the driveway the other day among toms and they can really do some damage with beak and claws.  Bessie pointedly ignored the turkeys and went on her way and he herded his personal flock down into the front pasture.

Rain and wind returned last night.  Aarrgh!  I'm not looking forward to today, starting with the fact that I'll have to do barn chores before first light.  Since there's no electricity in the barn, that will be a challenge.  A trip to town would not be my first choice on a rainy day (okay, any day), but Truck must be in the shop by 9 a.m.  A result of my vehicle being considered "totalled" is that I, through no fault of my own, must get a rather expensive brake-and-light check, re-register with DMV, and get new license plates.  Evidently the inspection is a very involved and lengthy process and will take all day.  Arden will meet me in town and we'll go to lunch together, saving me from sitting in the shop for seven or eight hours.  The way things are going, I'd probably be charged a baby-sitting fee, too.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Operator Error

I'm hoping Linda was the only one who caught my goof yesterday and found a single-sentence entry for The View.  In case there were others who might think I'd slipped a cog I'll explain.

The morning routine is this:  wake up and get up at o'dark-thirty, turn on the computer, make my way out to the hall and try not to step on cats on the way to the kitchen.  Ralph has a habit of running ahead and flinging himself to the floor like a speed bump.  In the kitchen, load the coffee maker.  Nothing happens until the coffee gets started.  Check the food dishes and fill as needed.  Bess has her own routine for the day.  Every day.  One milk bone for openers and then she stands in front of the treat drawer, waiting for one bacon-cheese chip, followed by one crunchy I-don't-know-what-they-are.  Dave gave her a package once and they became her favorite so I keep a supply on hand.  By this time, the coffee is ready.  I pour my one cup for the day and take it back to the bedroom where the only light is that of the monitor.  Log into The View and try to compose my thoughts.  Note:  no coffee intake at this point.  Yesterday I began to write, didn't like it, but in changing the title evidently hit Enter instead of Delete and it posted, hence the one-sentence entry.  Note to self:  don't attempt to write until the coffee kicks in.

That was about as much excitement as one person can handle.  The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Grey Skies

I wasn't sure whether or not to leave the play yard gate open for the girls in the morning when chores were done.  The sky was clouded over and I was glad I'd thrown on a light jacket.  Nah, it's not going to rain, but I did shut the big door to the coop.

Any excursion from home where bibbies are not appropriate has me changing clothes like an 1800s English Lady of the Manor.  Nightgown to bibbies in the morning.  Change to clean go-to-town jeans and top (sometimes, but rarely, a dress).  Come home, back on with the bibbies before putting the kids to bed. And finally back to nightgown for bed.  It's exhausting.

Spiffed up at last, don't you know it started sprinkling just as I hit the paved road?  Of course, I had not opened the play yard so all I could do was hope it didn't pour rain.  It didn't, and the drive down to Plymouth was uneventful.  Uneventful because I've memorized most of the potholes and was able to dodge new ones.  Once past River Pines, the road was in much better shape.  My friend Harold had invited me to lunch.  The choice of eateries in Plymouth is pretty slim; I think there are two.  The road to Jackson is the next best thing to a freeway and winds through lovely rolling green hills, dotted with oaks and punctuated by cattle.  Streams are flowing and ponds are full, a sight not seen for years.  I am rarely a passenger, and it was nice to sit and enjoy the scenery.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch.  Harold is a glass-half-full kind of guy and good company.  Unlike myself, Harold loves to go shopping so our next stop was the grocery store.  He was a little disappointed that I had only three items on my list, and those because Harold and Pete are coming next Saturday for a belated St. Patrick's Day dinner.  The sun started breaking through on the way back, rays like spotlights on the hills.

Back home, change clothes, tuck the kids in.  It was a good day.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spring Fling

I know.  I couldn't believe it either, but there it was, the first peony plant to pop up.  Bess and I had gone out to enjoy some afternoon sunshine when I saw live leaves among so many dead ones (guess it's time to do some raking).  Once I started looking, I discovered three more little fledglings.  I do love peonies.  They die back so completely in fall that it's like a treasure hunt to find them resurrected in the spring.

I feel so bad for the chickens.  They're a lot smarter than people give them credit for, and the flock learned their lesson well regarding the hawk.  The problem is that they're being held prisoner in the coop by fear.  Here we are with this beautiful weather when they should outside in the sunshine and there they are in the darkest corners of the room.  The ground squirrels are out in force so there's plenty of food available, but the fershluggen hawk has developed a taste for chicken.

I had previously made plans for today, so had to ask Pete to postpone a proposed visit when he called.  He reminded me that, unlike when he lived 500 miles away, he could come "over" anytime and accepted a dinner invitation for next Saturday.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Morn Til Night

Morning walkabouts are so pleasant at this time of year.  The forsythia has more blossoms than ever before, and the one pink anemone is a nice decorator touch.
The plum trees in the front orchard always make me think of lacy white dresses when they burst into bloom.

I had a most satisfactory visit with my radiologist yesterday and she's very optimistic.  It's hard to believe this cancer odyssey started a year ago next month.  So far, so good.

The drive to town was as colorful as my yard.  Salmon-pink flowering quince line the roads, and acacia trees in bloom are frothy splashes of bright yellow above.  Daffodils are everywhere.  Days of rain are predicted next week, and you can believe I had my eye out for a dogwood in flower.

 I had a moment of panic when I returned home.  There was not one chicken in the yard and not a peep from the coop.  It was so unusual that I went in to see and found the entire flock silent and huddled at the very back.  Evidently the hawk had made another appearance.  Poor frightened little kids.

I've got to clear out my cache of irrelevant downloaded photos.  Truly, how many pictures of sunsets does one person need?  It's an obsession.

It was a good day.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bits And Pieces

I'll say this for Himself, the local Lothario, he doesn't give up easily.  Sadly for him, the ladies remain unimpressed.  I find it interesting that the fanned-out tail seems to be on a swivel.  Standing perfectly still, he turns the fan left and right, showing off his attributes.  When none of the girls accepts his advances, Himself folds the fan and the tail droops like his spirits.

Yesterday was spent in a flurry of cleaning and, yes, dusting.  The chairs I'd ordered were being delivered days early.  The old pair were just that, old.  Old, and rump-sprung, lopsided and frayed.  The slipcovers collected every dog and cat hair and did not fit.  I was anxious about the sight-unseen new ones, particularly if they would be wide enough to hold me and the household menagerie.  Bessie Anne immediately gave them her seal of approval, and I'm pretty darned happy with them, too.

Going out last evening, I caught the murderer just after the act when I saw a hawk standing in the chicken pen surrounded by mounds of feathers.  I'd wondered why the white leghorn had died so suddenly recently, but there was no doubt what had happened to the sex-link hen.  In the eighteen or so years I've had chickens, there have been problems with dogs, coyotes, and even a skunk in the hen house once, but never has there been death from the sky.  I, and the chickens, I'm sure, feel so vulnerable to attack.

To end on a lighter note, my son Dave sent me this photo, saying that his buddies had sent it to him with a note that compared it to Dave riding his motorcycle.  Anyone who has met Dave knows that he is a big guy, 6' 4-5", and massively built.  (He was 9 lbs. 1 oz. at birth.)  This bear on a trike is a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm sure Dave's look of satisfaction is just the same.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pitching Woo

"In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."  (Alfred, Lord Tennyson.)

This fellow certainly had thoughts of love yesterday and was doing his best to impress the ladies.  What had caught my attention was not his flashy finery, but the thump and drag of his wings beating on the ground.  He marched with measured step down the hill toward the objects of his affection, turning this way and that, ruffling his feathers and engorging his wattle so the ladies could better admire his manly physique and attributes.  Sadly, it was all for naught.  The girls pointedly ignored him and not even the squirrel looked up.

Eventually the hens just drifted away down into the woods, leaving Himself puffed up and disappointed.  He evidently gave it up as a lost cause, deflated his costume, and consoled himself with a lonely bite of breakfast.

Not every love story has a happy ending.  Sigh.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Little Effort

(Nope.  Not yet.  Five still feels like four, but I'm trying.)

Avoidance sometimes takes a bit of effort.  It's not always easy to find something you might like to do so you can put off that which you do not.  I was lucky yesterday.  The spectre of dust had raised it's ugly head again and my dislike of dusting is well known.  What to do, what to do?  Bess Anne came in just then, bringing her daily contribution of dead leaves from the deck.  I swear that dog's coat is not fur, but Velcro.  Leaves, burrs, stickers, twigs; she's an equal-opportunity collector.  However, in this case she solved my dilemma.  We've finally had enough sunny days in a row to dry out the mountains of soggy leaves that had fallen out there.  That leaf blower was a good investment.  There were so many leaves, especially in corners, that I had to recharge the battery once in order to finish the job.  It was a perfect afternoon to be outside, sunny but not hot, just the way I like it, and it was very satisfying to start and finish a task (that wasn't dusting).

Maybe I'll get lucky again today.  Or not.

Monday, March 13, 2017


(Clock said 6, felt like 5.)

Lil' Engine, the almond tree, is full of fading blossoms.  The flowering banner has been taken up by the plums in both the front and side orchards.  Even the peach is giving a wave, but isn't quite ready to join the parade.  Sure makes our morning walkabout a pleasure.

Being committed to watching NASCAR races has its drawbacks on days when the weather is so nice I'd rather be outside than in.  Yes, I could DVR the event, but it's just not the same.  Since Tony Stewart retired, Dave was without a favorite driver.  I was so pleased to learn that he has joined me in rooting for Clint Bowyer.

One of the more difficult adjustments for me to make with the time change is fixing dinner before putting the goats to bed.  With the naturally longer days, going into the barn at 5:30-6 left plenty of time afterward to prepare and eat a meal.  Were I to wait until after 7 last night to start dinner, I might as well take my plate to bed and eat there.  Sigh.

Inside or out, it was a good day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Speak To Me

The clock said 5 a.m. this morning.  Funny, it felt more like 4.

The vernal equinox won't occur until March 20, but the hill is fairly shouting, "It's spring!"  Bright bouquets of daffodils dot the property in the most surprising places and none where they were originally planted.  I like them better this way.

Shy little Baby Blue Eyes are peeking out on the slope down to the barn, another sure sign of spring.  Visitors to the winery below might look up and see a line or two of laundry dancing on the breeze up here and realize it really is a sunny day, as hard as it is after such a long stretch of grey, wet days.

It takes real effort to force myself back into the house once outside so I did a little more deadheading in what is laughingly called the rock garden yesterday.  I wish I had a nickel for every dollar I've spent over years on plants, seeds, and bulbs in that area to no avail.  The only thing growing there is moss on the granite rocks.

Farm and wildlife also speak of spring.  The girls are cycling again.  "Unh, unh, unh."  The Rod-RI-go birds (quail) are calling for their lost lovers.  Shaddup yells continually with that irritating yip as he stands lookout from the safety of the juniper bush.  Even the turkeys have added "Tok, tok, tok" to their vocabulary.

No other sign is needed that the seasons have changed than the boxed-up Christmas tree.  I delivered the last of the presents to Pete and so that holiday is officially over.

It's spring.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

You Did Well, Grasshopper

("Kung Fu," TV series, David Carradine, 1972-75)

When your son serves a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich and makes it look and taste like restaurant-quality gourmet fare, it's worthy of note, in my opinion.  As we discussed, cooking for a family of six, it was more important then to cook a lot of food (never less than fourteen pork chops at a time) and get it on the table quickly.  There was no time for garnishes like the basil chiffonade and Parmesan cheese that mads the soup so special.

The trip to and from Pete's house was uneventful.  I'll admit to a few minutes of white knuckles after leaving the freeway when road work narrowed three lanes to one.  It was a blessing in disguise because the stop-and-go (more stop than go) traffic gave me time to look for road signs.  It's funny how the ride home goes so much faster than the way to an unknown area.

I don't know what I expected, but walking into Pete's house was very much like going to a model home.  Every detail was carefully color coordinated, every picture arttfully placed.  A professional interior decorator couldn't have impressed me more.  What didn't surprise me was his media room (yes, a media room!).  Pete, for years, has designed industrial sound systems and his room was a virtual movie theater.

That all of my Kids are good cooks doesn't surprise me.  Pete and Deb outdo Martha Stewart in variety, taste and presentation, Dave's specialties are barbecue and Mexican cuisine, and Larry, at one time, was a professional cook.  (Clay is still an unknown.)  When the student surpasses the teacher, it's time to say, "You did well, Grasshopper."

One little girl who did not do so well yesterday was the hen who was more interested in getting out into the sunshine than doing her job.  It looks like she just pooped this pitiful excuse for an egg and ran out the door.  I guess I can't really blame her.

It's hard to say how much I enjoyed an afternoon of conversation and catching up with my son.  It was a grand day.

Friday, March 10, 2017


Another day of beautiful weather had me actually hunting for things to wash just for the pleasure of hanging stuff on the line.  As much as I needed and used that goofy pig hat Dave gave me, it's nice not to have to wear it now.

Ralph is such a goofball cat.  He has claimed mornings with me as his own.  As rough-and-tumble as he gets later in the day, in the morning when I'm at the computer he reaches over from the bed and puts a paw on my shoulder with a cloud-like touch.  I'll swivel around and he climbs onto my lap, which is where he is now.  That makes it a bit awkward to type, but, hey, when a guy wants to cuddle....  Ralph will also come in the middle of the night and ask to go into the cat cave.  He curls up under the blanket by my belly and gives his version of a purr.  The noise he makes is more like a snork and even half-asleep, he makes me smile.  Celeste will be minding her own business and Ralph, getting bored, will go sit on her head.  He knows full well that it irritates her and the chase is on, exactly what he wanted.  Celeste has her own charm, but I get such a kick out of my goofy boy cat.

I'm going on an adventure today.  I'm off to the wilds of Orangevale to visit Pete.  I can't remember the last time I was on that side of the valley.  Let's face it, I only go to Sacramento once or twice every year or two.  Long gone are the days when I drove for a living.  Part of the adventure of this trip will just be getting out of the hills, what with potholes and sinkholes everywhere.  Bess and I went to fill Truck's gas tank and there were a couple of new big holes near Mt. Aukum.  I saw on FB today that a sinkhole opened up in downtown Fair Play last night.  Fair Play consists of The Pub, the Winery By The Creek, and the defunct hardware store, a bustling metropolis by any account, and I foresee big traffic jams ahead.

I'm going to try and restrain myself from commenting on the upcoming time change.  In my opinion, it's just plain goofy to keep this archaic ritual.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Attitude Adjustment

What changes a sunny day wrought!  I got down to the barn earlier than usual (I've been reluctant to step out into the muck lately).  The girls were eager to get their breakfast and get out into the pen where most just lay in the grass to soak up the rays.  Mice were coming out of the woodwork in droves.  The crew has been pretty sparse of late, with a mere handful grabbing a bite to eat.  I'm guessing thirty or more were racing around yesterday, sucking up the milk and munching their cereal out in the open.  Previously sodden turkeys with hunched shoulders fluffed up their feathers and strutted their stuff.  The chickens tumbled down their ramp, talking a mile a minute as they rushed to get to the grain.

Instead of huddling in the chair, loaded with lap cats and trying to keep Stove happy, Bess and I sat in the sunshine on the deck after chores.  Lovely.  Just lovely.  Depression gave way to enthusiasm and I actually accomplished something, including hanging a load of laundry on the line.  Outside!  In the sun!  In the afternoon, my constant companion and I moved to the front yard where she supervised and I finished deadheading the marjoram plants.  Every year they send up tall shoots with purple flower clusters.  The low-lying plants winter over well, but the flowers and stems die and look so straggly.  We then sat on the porch to enjoy the breeze.  There is a vast difference between "breeze" and "wind."

It seems such a while since I've seen the moon, and a full moon at that.  Luna seemed to be celebrating the weather, too.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Day Without

A day without rain or snow, even without sunshine, is a pretty good day, and that's what we had yesterday.

Timing is everything, and given the state of our roads lately, it was hard to judge how long it would take to get down to Cameron Park.  Any trip to town takes planning so that as many errands as possible can be done.  I'm not the only one who plans stops going down or coming back so they're on the right side of the road.  The hastily repaired sinkhole on Bucks Bar is dipping again, but the road was passable.  There are more potholes in every road, and I wasn't the only driver who could have been busted for DUI for swerving across the lines (on those roads that have lines up here).

One stop at the north end of P'ville, jump on the freeway to CP, and sit and wait in the doctor's office.  That's unusual for this group so I wasn't going to complain.  It was nice to have a breather after rushing to get there.  I was sorry to learn that my oncologist will be moving to the Bay Area; I like him so well.  I needed some lab work and my phlebotomist was a very young, smiling gal who explained she was a student and needed my permission before she could draw blood.  "Are you any good?"  "Well, I think so."  She was happily impressed by my cooperative veins, and I gave her an A-plus when she finished.  She'll do just fine.

Another stop on the way home.  It's a good indicator of our recent weather that Walmart was out of space heaters and had a dwindling supply of fire-starters.

I understand there are plans for a "Day Without Women" march.  I was introduced some years ago to a film called "A Day Without Mexicans."  It's a B- or C-grade movie, but it is an impressive message as to just what a "day without" means.

I'll settle for a day without rain or snow.  It was a good day.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Familiar Sights

Waking up to snow on the deck again yesterday was beginning to feel like "Groundhog Day" (1993, Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell).  I understand why the Inuits have many words to describe snow.  Even though this coating was thicker, it was the light, fluffy stuff that didn't pack the satellite dish like the heavy, wet kind of the day before. 

It also melted off quickly, enough to see Shaddup back at his old post in the juniper bush later in the morning, back on the job as lookout for the gang.  I think the old boy put on a few pounds (okay, ounces) to make it through the winter.  He's looking rather portly.

There was still snow on the ground in the pen and a chill wind blew when I was working with the goats yesterday so I left the big room open again.  From what I can see of the sky so far, it looks like we're going to be back to business as usual today.  I'm glad for that as I've got to go see another familiar face, a followup appointment with the oncologist down in Cameron Park this afternoon.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Not Chocolates

Forrest Gump would have been happy with yesterday's changeable weather.  Nearly every hour brought another surprise, but I think I'd have preferred chocolates.  Just this much snow was enough to fill the satellite dishes for computer and television, and it continued to snow for another hour.  I'd barely finished writing in the dark o' morn when the computer quit computing.  It being NASCAR Sunday, I could only hope the TV would show me more than a black screen later.

Neither goats nor chickens were happy with that cold white stuff, and I took my time going into the pens lest I slip and fall.  And then, while milking, the sun came out and it was a really pretty scene.  Best, the television was talking to me when I got back to the house.  I fed Stove and settled in to watch the race.

The sky darkened and it began to hail and continued to drop pellets until the deck looked almost the same as it had in the morning.  Fortunately, hail does not stick to the dishes.  Not long after this, it began to rain and there was thunder and lightning.

I took advantage of another spell of sunlight to put the kids to bed early.  Halfway to the barn, don't you know it started hailing again?

It's snowing this morning.  You just never know what you're going to get.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weather Weary

The cloud cover in the evening was more impressive than the dull grey sky we had all day, and that sliver of sunlight was a faint reminder of the bright morning that hadn't lasted long.

Stove and I had had some issues the last time I'd lit a fire, with him pushing out smoke where no smoke should be.  It was my fault.  When Helper Dude swept the chimney, I failed to clean the residue off the catalytic converter that sits under the stove top.  The top is very heavy and since I didn't realize my error until there was a fire burning, I had to deal with the smoke, let the fire go out, and wait a day or two to scrape the creosote buildup off the converter.  While not as cold as it had been, the house was definitely chilly yesterday.  I brought more wood to the porch and decided to see if Stove would cooperate.  Thankfully, he didn't hold a grudge and it wasn't long until the room was comfy.  That's a good thing, because the rain and wind returned during the night and I'll need Stove again today.

The sky to the east was just as pretty as the western sunset as I put the goats to bed.  In the chicken pen, the white leghorn who had been fine in the morning had died.  It's somewhat disconcerting that chickens are not only omniverous, they're also cannibals and have no compunction about devouring one of their own.  I bagged up the remains and put the poor hen in the freezer until Wednesday.  Not the best ending to the day.

I'm pretty tired of this wet weather.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Back in the 1960s, BBC ran a comedy show, "That Was The Week That Was."  Not necessarily comedic, but when I awoke to sunlight this morning (and in which century did that last happen?), I realized I'd been through TWTWTW.  All good stuff, but busy!  Clay's visit on Saturday, lunch in town with Linda on Monday, Pete's and Camille's visits on Wednesday, another trip to town for Bessie's heartworm medicine on Thursday, and a lovely visit from Arden and Cam yesterday.  My dance card was full!  (And I was tired.)

I watch a lot of cooking programs, and a particular favorite is "The Great British Baking Show."  I'd recently seen an episode where Paul Hollywood made poppy seed crackers (he called them biscuits) and decided yesterday to make them for nibbles when the ladies came for drinks.  There was a slight problem in that I can't convert British grams and milliliters to cups and ounces, but watched the DVR'd show again and thought I could eyeball the ingredients.  They actually turned out quite well.

The sun may have been shining when I got up, but a cloud cover has crept in.  After several really lovely days, it's hard to think of rain tonight and snow again tomorrow.  Aarrgh.  That's okay, this social butterfly is ready to rest her wings for a bit.

It was a good day.

Friday, March 3, 2017

New Crop

When Pete was here, he mentioned the Flying Wallendas, the acrobatic troupe of mice that was so entertaining for a season or so some years ago.  They climbed and swung on ropes, walked high rafters, and took death-defying leaps without a net.   Going into the milking room was like going to the circus every day.  I must say, I miss the Wallendas.

It seems the mouse community as a whole takes on a different personality each time.  Some years the gang is very social, sitting nearby to munch their cereal without much fear.  Then there are the pirates who race across the room to raid the grain pile on the other side.  This year they're a pretty skittery bunch, popping up three or four times to check before getting brave enough to snatch a morsel and duck back down into the safety of their tunnels.  Even if one or two are courageous enough to sit outside the hole, let the goat or I move even slightly and they're outta here!

We're due for a new crop of mice babies and it will be interesting to see their group behavior emerge.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Three Little Words

Right after "I love you," the next best threesome is "I'm coming over," in my opinion.  Knowing he'd moved to the area only a few days ago and busy with all that entails, it was a most pleasant surprise yesterday to hear Pete say, "I'm coming over!"  Driving our backroads is a far cry from SoCal freeways and gave Pete a sense of freedom and adventure.  He stopped at Mt. Aukum and my street creds went up by association, I'm sure, because his snazzy muscle car created quite a stir among the guys there.  Pete's visits have been far between over the years, with conversation crammed into what time was available.  How grand to spend a leisurely afternoon with my "missing" son and know there would be more in the future.  The weather cooperated fully and it was a beautiful, sunny day.

Not long after Pete left, I heard those three words again, this time from Camille.  It being warmer outside than in, we sat on the front porch and had our usual good talk.

It was a good day (my favorite five words).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Nothing Doing

After the hoopla of the day before, yesterday was a do-nothing day.  That's pretty much the way I roll anymore:  one day on, one day off.  Bess and I took advantage of another afternoon of bright sun and blue sky to sit outside.  More rain is predicted for this weekend and I needed my sunshine fix.  I wasn't the only one enjoying the sunny day.  We were joined on the deck by my pushup-performing lizard totems.  They make me smile.  The girls spent time lounging on the slope of their pen.  The cats found patches of warmth on the floor in the house.  Only the front door is solid wood (with an oval window); the rest (seven upstairs) are glass, so there were plenty of spots for Celeste and Ralph to lie around.

Celeste takes the care of "her" piglets seriously.  She continues to carry them around in her mouth.  "Mrrowff, mrrowff."  I found one in the shower; not sure if she was hiding it from Ralph or telling me it needed a bath.

While it hasn't snowed for a couple of days, the morning frost is heavy.  The deck and fields are so white, it could easily be mistaken for snow.  Bess's early morning potty runs are pretty quick, and Ralph snuggles on my lap as I sit at the computer, warming his little pink paws.  That does make typing a bit awkward, but he doesn't care.

It being an "on" day, I may get something done today.  Or not.