Sunday, April 30, 2017

Three's Company

This last week has been a bit hectic, people coming and going:  Helper Dude, Computer Guy, and a couple of nice visits with Cam and Arden.  As a consequence, feed supplies had run low or out and even though Pete was due midday yesterday, a trip to Mt. Aukum was imperative.  I loaded up Bess and off we went.  It was a perfectly glorious morning and a car club was making the most of it.  I passed a string of little European sports cars headed toward the wineries, and the parking lot at the store was jam-packed with more...older Alpha-Romeos, Mini Coopers, and I'm pretty sure I saw an Aston Martin (James Bond's car of choice), and I don't know how many others.  Business was brisk inside and I heard that over sixty-five cars were participating.  Needing to get home, I didn't dawdle.  A snazzy white car zipped past me.  "Hmm, that looks like Pete's car," but I couldn't think why he'd be heading away from home base.

Turns out it was Pete, and he showed up shortly after me.  I was glad he'd gotten to see the car rally.  He was impressed with the older cars and the participants were impressed with his muscle car.  I had asked Pete's help in fine-tuning my computer, the modem, and my cellphone.  When in doubt, ask an expert.  We spent the better part of the day with our heads in cyberspace and I learned a lot.  I'm not computer illiterate, but technology progresses and I was behind the times.

Last week I'd invited Harold for dinner and Pete had time to join us, so I needed to start cooking.  This was not to be a fancy dinner:  Well-caramelized kielbasa, Lyonnaise potatoes, and cold sliced beets in a balsamic vinaigrette with tarragon.  Pete and Harold got on like a house afire, and there was a lot of laughing at the table, just the way I like it.  Who said three's a crowd?  Both guys needed to get out of the hills before dark, so they took off not long after eating.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't whupped after the last week.  I put the kids to bed and collapsed in my chair.  It had been a productive, most enjoyable day, but I was ready for an early bedtime.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I Hear Music

The music in my head yesterday was Al Jolson singing "The Anniversary Waltz" (1946).  Sixteen years ago you wouldn't have recognized this place.  There were over one hundred people here to celebrate Deb and Craig's wedding.  After snow a few days before, the sun came out on April 28 and the weather was perfect.  Every pot on the deck was blooming with white flowers, tulle bunting draped the rails, and an ivy-covered trellis waited below at the end of a red carpet for the bride to walk down. There was a food tent where a buffet would be set out after the ceremony.  Pans of casseroles and ham were zipping up and down the road to anyone who had an oven to spare.  Deb's aunt and uncle from Oregon arrived early and caught me in nightgown and sweatpants, mopping the kitchen floor at the last minute.  Steve had finished decorating the three-tier cake the night before and it was a work of art.  We  had the help of a lot of worker bees and chairs were set out for the guests and long tables waited, with centerpieces of hand-painted pots of ivy (Deb's colors were green and white).  I had made hundreds of white ribbon roses to decorate the trellis and elsewhere.

And then came the moment when all the crazed activity stopped.  Deb's father walked her to meet Craig, her handsome, beaming husband-to-be (Craig has the best smile in the world).  They say all brides are beautiful.  Yeah, well, they'd have to go some to outshine my girl.  I had bought a couple of dozen pairs of plastic glasses with a big nose and mustache attached and had a friend pass them out with instructions to guests put them on just before the bride and groom would be introduced as Mister and Missus.  Deb and Craig turned to see a crowd of Groucho Marx look-alikes!  Their expressions were priceless.

After luncheon, there were toasts and speeches before the DJ set up for dancing, which lasted until sundown. Deb and Craig were spending the night at a local B&B.

Deb called me yesterday morning to reminisce about the day.  And I heard music.

Friday, April 28, 2017

One Way

One way or another, like it or not, I'm getting dragged into the 21st century.  My computer was getting slower and slower, especially frustrating when trying to write these entries.  I'd type four or five words and then wait (and wait) for them to show up on the screen.  That didn't do much for my oft derailed train of thought.  I won't say it was a plot, but when I contacted my service provider I was told the solution was to upgrade.  Of course.  I agreed and yesterday was the day for Computer Guy to come and install a new modem and do whatever it is these guys do.  The appointment was for between two and five and that was fine with me; I'd have time to wave a dust rag around in what is now called No Man's Land.  Computer Guy called in the morning, "Could we move your appointment up to noon?"  Gulp.  "Yes."  I gave detailed directions; it wouldn't be the first time a delivery person had spent time wandering around lost in these hills.  CG called back about twelve, said he'd had an emergency, and could he come at two?  Oh good grief.  "Yes."  When he finally did get here, he immediately set to work.  My dad would have said he moved as fast as a cat with turpentine under its tail.  Zut zut, and he'd switched out the modem.  Zoot zoot, and he was up on the roof replacing something or other on the satellite dish.  Zoom zoom, and he was downstairs checking the wiring under the house.  Ta da!  And he was done.  It was then he mentioned that the new modem included a WiFi system and asked if I wanted him to connect with my cellphone.  "Oh, yes please."

I should mention here that I'd had a failed attempt once before with WiFi that required my phone to be completely wiped clean and rebooted and I'd removed the equipment.  I had talked to Pete about this and he'd said he would come up and reinstall the system.  In fact, while CG was up on the roof I sent Pete a message and we made arrangements for this Saturday.  You can imagine my excitement when I was told I had this innovation right then and there and would be able to use my cellphone for more than phone calls and texting without overstepping my data allotment.  I could hardly wait to tell Pete!

CG had a bit of an accent and I asked where he was from.  "Russia."  As he worked, he told me how he had come to the United States and the different jobs he'd had.  In the course of our conversation, I asked the meaning of a phrase I'd often heard in films, dasvidaniya.  Somehow I'd never connected it to "Goodbye."  The last thing CG said as he got into his car was, "Dasvidaniya!"

Pete is coming for dinner on Saturday.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A New Look

What is it guys said when they went to the barbershop...just a little off the top and sides?  (Obviously, before the Presley pompadour, man buns or the Trump-do.)  At any rate, Helper Dude came early yesterday morning and gave Farview a trim and a new look.  All the rain and occasional sunshine have caused the weeds to spring up with vim and vigor.  That particularly nasty plant with the lacy leaves, tiny white flowers and those dratted dagger seeds was rampant on the hill.  HD went to work with his weed whacker and cleaned off the slope behind the chicken pen, around and under the deck, and any number of areas where I can't take John Dear.  As much as I dislike that weed, whatever it is, I have to say it gives a delicious fragrance when cut down.  It may take another go-round or two, but I'm determined to keep it from reseeding this year.  Filaree with its auger-like seeds and burr clover are annual pests, but nothing gets in Bessie's fur, my socks, the sheets, blankets, laundry, carpet, and furniture like those gawdawful spears.  Helper Dude probably looks at the weeds as job security.  At any rate, the place looks pretty neat and tidy.  I have a couple more yards to mow if and when we get a stretch of good weather before the beauty treatment is complete.  (Feel free to remind me of this when I whine about having to mow again.)

Yesterday was another grey, drizzly day.  Not real rain that might do some good, just enough mist to make the critters and me miserable. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


As the Romper Room Lady (an old TV show) would say, "This is a Watch-Bird watching you."  While I sit and look at trees and clouds, Bessie Anne protects the neighborhood.  That bottom rail is at just the right height to rest her chin and the pickets are just the right width apart for her nose.  She might move from sun to shade, but this is how I see her most often when we share deck time.

More and more lizards are showing up on sunny days.  This is a new crop of little bitty guys.  I'm not sure a two-inch lizard is big enough to call a totem, maybe a tote?

Bess and I are not the only ones who enjoy the deck, but this sharing business has gone too far.  This is all that is left of my salad garden and I didn't get a leaf.  Aarrgh!  The ground squirrels keep the cats amused (or frustrated) as they run back and forth with impunity.  Ralph and Celeste watch the activity from window sills and doorways, kek-kek-keking away in excitement.  I think the thing that really frosts my cookies is that, even though they have ten acres in which to do their business, the squirrels come up on the deck to use my flower pots as litter boxes.  I mean, really?!

Bess and I took the trash down to the big road yesterday to the bin we share with Camille.  The ungainly wheeled bins must be dragged across the street and back again which is a pain in the patoot, but better than having to take a truckload of trash into town to the dump.  Sigh.

It was a lovely sunny day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Don't Move

Never having had the experience I can't swear to it, but it seems to me that John Dear steers like a Sherman tank; at least how I imagine a tank would steer.  John is a big boy and I definitely get an upper body workout when we mow a yard.  Note to the John Deere designers:  consider power steering on the next model.

Between the yelling muscles in my shoulders and arms from working with John and those screaming from the back of thigh from bending over for sticks with Pete, the order of the day was Don't Move.  More accurately, don't move after milking and cleaning the barn.  The real rain had stopped, but there was still mist in the air and the ankle-high weeds in the pen were dripping wet.  Back in the house, I stripped off soaked socks and put on slippers, fixed a cup of hot cocoa, picked up a lap cat and sat down to watch the race at Bristol (it had been delayed by rain on Sunday).  Warm at last and comfortable, the sound of engines had a soporific effect and even though Bowyer was fighting his way up the field after a speeding penalty in the pit, I fell asleep with about 40 laps to go.  Were it not for a text from Clay, I would not have known that Clint came in second at the finish.  Stewart-Haas has given Bowyer a car and support worthy of his talents and it shows.

A sandwich for dinner, put the kids to bed, and call it a day.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Help Is On The Way

Taking a break on the deck after barn chores, I saw what looked like an alien invasion on the forsythia.  I'd never seen anything like the frothy white fluff with tiny black spots surrounding a tender center.  Had a spider become rabid or simply berserk?  A glance at the neighboring pot revealed the answer.  Normally I deadhead the anemones as soon as their petals fall, but what with the rain and one thing or another, I'd not done that.  It wasn't the forsythia but an anemone that had gone to seed.  That would never have occurred to me because anemones propagate by rhizomes.  Live and learn.

Pete, my volunteer worker for the day, arrived to check the Help Wanted board.  A chore I'd really hoped to accomplish was resetting a number of latches on the goat barn.  The building had settled out of alignment over time and it was either a struggle or the latches wouldn't connect at all.  I'd put the battery for a cordless drill to charge the day before.  Good luck with that.  It's been years since that tool has been used and the battery was beyond help.  Pete found another drill, but of course that battery was dead, also.  I put it on a charger, but it was useless for the day.  So much for Plan A.

Plan B was the seemingly insignificant but so necessary task of playing Pick Up Sticks in the front yard.  A helper at my side made the job go fast.  This was the third full cart to get hauled to the burn pile.  The trouble with a really tall son is that he can lose his head when the focus is on the foreground.  Sorry 'bout that.  It would have taken me days to clean up what Pete and I did in an hour or two.  Boy, did I appreciate the help.  Pete is my electronics guru and he gave me a lot of advice on how to possibly fix some current computer problems.

After a snack and a bit of a rest, Pete took off.  As much as I had needed the help, his gift of time meant even more.  I was more than ready for a bit of sit-down after all that bending, but knowing that wet weather was predicted (again), it seemed prudent to get John Dear out and mow the yard before wind and rain brought down more branches.  It looks so nice, if I do say so.

The rain began last night.  I can feel muscles I didn't know I had.  It will be good to take time off.

It was a super good day.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


You get a pretty good idea that you are not living in the city when your neighbor calls in the early morning and asks, "Are you missing a leg?"  I glanced down, "Um, no."  "What color were Esther's legs?  My dogs found one in our yard and I wonder if it could be one of hers."  Ahh, it became clear to me then.  The cleanup committee has been hard at work, vultures on the day shift and very vocal coyotes on nights.  It normally takes four days and all traces are gone.  It was pretty rude of the night crew to leave their leftovers on someone else's property, though.  Cam said, "Oh, don't apologize.  My dogs couldn't be happier."  What can I say?  We aim to please.

These pollen-loaded catkins give the live oak such a lovely lacy look and drive everyone with allergies absolutely nutters.  They blow off the tree and coat the deck, the porch, the truck.  There is a seemingly endless supply of the darned things.  I won't miss them when they're gone.

I find that my enthusiasms rise and fall with the thermometer.  Yesterday was a "downer" as the wind blew and there was a heavy cloud cover.  Again.  Sunset was the one bright spot in the whole day.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bees, Burgers And A Boy

The Spanish lavender is in full bloom and absolutely buzzing with bumblebees.  We hear so much about the decline in bee colonies that it makes me happy to see all the busy little creatures here.  I get more bumblers than honeybees, but perhaps that is because I don't have so many flowering plants.  The Spanish lavender doesn't have the intense scent as its French cousin, but I get a kick out of the perky little topknots.  Lavender is one of the few plants (rosemary is another) that the deer do not eat.  They also avoid santolina, and I have both the grey and green varieties.  It was pure luck that I have anything that is deer resistant because I had no clue when the plants were purchased.

There are clothes in my closet that I've not worn in years.  Just how long it's been was apparent yesterday when I was dressing to meet Pete and pulled out a shirt/blouse that I thought was appropriate and found that it had shoulder pads.  Shoulder pads have not been in vogue since I can't remember when.  Oh well, it was better than bibbies so I went off looking like Joan Crawford, Joan Collins or a quarterback.

Pete and I met at Bones within minute of each other, perfect timing.  We've had so little contact over the years that it's like becoming reacquainted with this Kid of mine.  Bones has great hamburgers and even better onion rings, and we chowed down on both and talked and talked and talked.  It was fun to discover that we share opinions in many areas.  It made for a lively discussion.  There is a "Help Wanted" column on my refrigerator note board where I post chores that I cannot do by myself and would appreciate the Kids' help.  Pete said he'd be up on Sunday to check the board and do what he could.  Won't that be nice?

With just the three girls, bedtime has become chaos in the barn.  Tessie has never had a room of her own and is desperate to go in the back stalls with Inga and Sheila.  One of the plastic roof panels is broken or I'd put Tess in Cindy's old room so they could all be close.  As it is, Tessie has to go into the big room she'd shared with Esther, putting her across the hall where she can't even see the others.  She doesn't like it.

It was a better-than-good day.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Cracked Egg

In front of the barn door was half a robin's egg shell, a lovely blue speckled with brown.  I was going to bring it back to the house, but it was so fragile it didn't make the trip.  I may be a bit cracked myself, at least in the minds of Beau and Helper Dude.  I have a huge, repeat huge, burn pile that both guys offered to come burn for me.  There is always the possibility of fire spreading and burning alone is something I will not do.  I definitely wanted to take one or the other up on their offer, but asked that they do it before the birds started nesting in the brush pile.  I cannot bear the thought of roasting baby birds.  (Guys are more pragmatic than emotional.)  Time went on and the fellows had chores of their own, I'm sure.  Obviously, having found an eggshell, it's too late to set fire to the brush pile now.

As I've said before, my daughter could out-Martha Martha Stewart in her attention to detail.  I was told to "look for the gold egg" when presented with the Easter gift.  I didn't realize there was a difference in gold eggs.  The smaller eggs were filled with jellybeans (including licorice!) and I was a happy gal.  In semi-frustration, Deb finally put the larger gold egg in my hand.  When cracked, it not only held candy but two one-dollar bills, the required amount for a poker buy-in!  It was the Willy Wonka gold prize.  Sadly, there wasn't time for cards last Sunday, but I'm staked for our next game.  Those carrots, by the way, are filled with bubble solution and a little wand.  Ralph is mesmerized by floating bubbles and I enjoy watching him watch them.

Not just eggs are cracked around here, the squirrels are pretty nutty, too.  Mama had either sent Papa out for supplies or she decided to gather material for redecorating the nursery herself.  Peeled bark from cedar firewood was evidently on the shopping list and I'm left with the litter.

I'm glad I hadn't yet picked up branches from the yards as, although sunny, it was really windy yesterday and I would have had to do it all over again.  I'm not into that.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Two days of glorious sunshine in a row!  I know, I know.  Come summer and I'll be whining about the heat and doing rain dances, but these days of temperatures in the high 50s with nary a dark cloud in the sky are perfection.  And what does one do on such a day?  Well, there were choices...there was always housework and dusting or there were weeds growing high again in the west field.   Hmmm.  No matter how many times I flipped that coin, somehow it always came up "Mow!"  Not willing to fight fate, I went out to give John Dear some exercise.  I needed the practice anyhow.

John has a much wider cutting base than good old Fu Manchu, so I have to learn new mowing patterns.  Fu and I had mowed the property so many times that, like the milkman's horse, he probably could have done it on his own.  (Yes, milk was still delivered to the house in glass bottles with little paper caps when I was a kid.  No, the milkman didn't drive a horse.)  The west field is probably the largest flat area on the property, so I didn't try out the cruise control.  I'm saving that for the side yard with the steep slope down to the backyard.  Stepping on the gas peddle while trying to brace with one's feet....  As it is, at this time of year there are gaps in the pattern where I've swerved around patches of Baby Blue Eyes, trying to preserve these tiny wildflowers.  Years back, the south pasture would be covered with lupine, a whole carpet of purple-blue.  Years of cutting down and disking under to keep the star thistle down completely wiped out the lupine.  The star thistle, however, is still rampant.  I would have been willing to stay outside and mow for the rest of the day, but before I can tackle the other yards I've got to go around with the cart and pick up all the branches knocked down by wind and rain.  It's probably just as well.  Being a bigger dude, John is harder to steer and the field having been scraped last season made for a bumpy ride.  I'm feeling it today.

Today is son Pete's birthday.  We'll celebrate together tomorrow.  I gave him a choice of places for lunch.  He chose Bones.  Excellent!

It was a good day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


It was no surprise to awaken to another misty day yesterday.  What's one more in a seemingly endless string?  (I had four Kids in five years and it was hard to remember the breaks then, too.)  I put on Wellies and rolled my pants legs up above the high-water mark to go to the barn.  I'd had enough of soggy britches and sodden socks.  With only three to tend, chores whizzed by.  Persistent Percy or one of his well-trained cohorts kept making raids on the mice's grain and ended up dripping with sprayed milk.

Catching up on a couple more M*A*S*H reruns, Bess and I were caught unaware when the doorbell rang.  Nobody rings the bell but strangers.  Camille will even call from her cellphone to say she's in the driveway if she's making an unexpected visit.  However, it was a welcome surprise to open the door and find find Officer Hogg from Animal Services (what an appropriate name for the job).  Some time ago when I was having trouble with dogs vs. chickens, Officer Hogg was a frequent visitor.  It's been quite awhile, and he assured me there were no problems and I responded in kind.  He'd simply stopped by to say hi and we chatted on the front porch to catch up.  He's a nice guy.  I won't say he brought out the sun, but the rest of the day was bright and shiny.

It will come as no surprise that Bess and I spent quite a lot of time out on the deck, soaking in the rays and reveling in the warmth.

Goats are herd animals, depending on numbers for security.  The girls clustered around me as we walked down to the barn last evening.  I'm sure they consider me one of the group, the renegade who comes and goes.  I dread the thought of a dwindling herd.

Regardless, it was a good day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Then There Were Three

I found Esther in the morning.  She hadn't made it through the night, but had died inside, dry and with her roommate Tess.  Esther was named after my mother, who had been born on Easter Sunday in 1904, and I find it rather fitting that her namesake died on Easter to bring it full circle.  That leaves Inga, Sheila, and Tessie.  I'm not sure that three constitutes a herd, probably more like a gathering.

There are logistics to consider when a larger animal dies.  It was brought home to me (again) that I can no longer do that which I used to when I wasn't able to pull the body from the barn after the others had been fed and cared for.  They don't call it dead weight for nothing.  I sat down to consider my options and decided there was nothing for it but to call for help.  When Beau drove up on his four-wheel 'Gator, I asked him how it felt to be the neighborhood white knight.  (He said it felt pretty darn good.)  In a matter of minutes he had her loaded and over to the copse of live oaks in the south pasture.  It's always hard to say goodbye to an old friend.

While it didn't rain per se, there was a constant drizzle all day long, the kind of dampness that leaves a person with curly hair looking like they're wearing a steel-wool helmet.  After any number of trips down to the barn, my bibbies were wringing-wet soaked to the knees and had to go in the dryer (thank goodness I've got one).

The hummers are back in full force and had emptied three feeders (two quarts' worth) of "juice" in one day.  They need to drink often in cold, wet weather to keep their body heat so refilling their jugs was definitely necessary yesterday.  The common hummer up here is the Anna, but it seems that just one particularly lovely, bronze and copper-colored bird comes every year.  I think I've identified it as an Allen's, I'm not sure.  They're not supposed to be in this area at all.  Deb had spotted one on Easter and I saw it again yesterday.  It's like finding the prize in a box of Cracker Jack.

Putting the girls to bed last night was a lonely business.  I don't know if goats mourn, but it was sad for me to count noses and find only three.

It rained hard all night.  I'm about ready for some sunshine.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

("My Girl," The Temptations and others.)

It was a beautiful sunny morning, perfect for an Easter Day.  By the time the Kids started arriving I was done in the barn, finished the prep for dinner, gotten spiffed up, set the table, and run the vacuum cleaner.  Whew.  (I didn't want to send the Kids into shock, so dusting didn't make the cut.)

Deb and Craig had made a lovely Easter basket full of goodies, including plastic eggs filled with jellybeans.  There are licorice lovers and then there are those others.  Craig does not love licorice and had difficulty understanding why the rest of us were willing to do battle to protect the two black jellybeans in our eggs.  (I hid mine in a cupboard.)  Deb and Craig had also brought some naked lady (amaryllis) bulbs from their garden and were kind enough to plant them for me.  Since I was busy in the kitchen, finding where will be a treasure hunt.  Naked ladies do very well up here and come back year after year.

Our holiday dinners are steeped in tradition, the menus never changing.  It was brought home to me how long it's been since Pete had been with us for Easter when he tried to figure out what was in the bowl of Jell-O thoroughly folded into a cloud of whipped cream.  The flavor may change from year to year, but the dish remains the same and served only at Easter.  Dave is our official carver, be it turkey, ham, or whatever.  I have a carving knife that would make a samurai proud.  Dave is the only one who uses it, and was responsible for getting the ham to the table.  Larry and Clay were definitely missed.  Larry sent an aloha from Hawaii and Clay also sent greetings.

It started raining while we were eating and by the time we had finished, it was pouring rain and the wind whipped up a storm.  I didn't want to see the Kids drive home after dark in that weather, so we parceled out leftovers and they took off.

The only low spot on an otherwise grand day was Esther.  She'd become seriously ill the day before to the point that she was too weak to make it back to the barn that night.  Esther is fifteen, at the far end of a goat's life span.  I kept looking throughout the day, but she remained on her feet.  I didn't hold out much hope when it started raining and was greatly surprised to find her inside when I went down to put the kids to bed.  Maybe she'll hold on a little longer.

Regardless of the weather, my Kids are the sunshine of my life.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Workin' It

Celeste really is working the BFF thing with Bessie Anne and Bess does her best to ignore the whole situation.  I think she finds it embarrassing.

That pink kangaroo is a toy Honey dragged out when she was here.  Honey likes toys that squeak and she tried her darndest with this one, bite bite biting.  I tried telling her that the kangaroo didn't have a squeaker, but she kept working at it until finally dropping it in disgust.

I got some work of my own done yesterday, not as much as needs doing, but it was nice to be out in the sunshine with the leaf blower.  Instead of leaves, the deck was coated with fronds of pollen called catkins from the oaks.  Since rain is predicted for later today, it seemed prudent to bring a couple of loads of firewood to the porch to keep the Kids comfortable.

"Well, I'll just lie right here beside you until you're ready to cuddle and we can be besties."

Go figure.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Better View

This is the preferred view of cloud cover and wind, in my opinion.  I won't say it was a warm day as that breeze had a chill bite, but omigosh was the sunshine ever welcome.

It seems Snake is also a fair-weather kind of guy.  I see neither hide nor hair (scale nor fang?) of him on rainy days, but he was back at his post yesterday.  What I find amazing is that the mice apparently have no fear of the creature.  Do snakes have no warning scent?  Is it because he stays as still as a statue?  The mice go on about their business, running past within inches, and I'm not sure they don't run right across him at times.  Let's just say I'm a lot more cautious in the milking room these days, looking both ways before stepping inside.

I wasn't the only one enjoying the view yesterday.  I get a kick out of the jackrabbits that use my driveway like a freeway as they "hop along the bunny trail."  I would have thought they'd stay in the high weeds of the field and pasture where they wouldn't be so vulnerable to hawks and other predators, but they were out in full force in the sunshine.

I don't know what's up with Celeste these days.  She is making a concerted effort to be best friends with Bessie Anne.  Bess was lying at my feet and Celeste was almost coquettish, rolling and stretching in front of the dog, reaching out to touch Bess's face.  Bessie didn't know what to make of it, either.  There the cat was again this morning, rubbing all over her while Bessie was waiting for her breakfast treat.  I wonder if Celeste and Ralph had a falling out of sorts.

It's supposed to be sunny again today, but wouldn't you know rain is predicted for tomorrow afternoon?  Of course it is, because the Kids are coming up.  Well, in the meantime I'll just enjoy the view.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Oh Hail

Oh hail, here we go again.  It was another of those multiple choice days.  Rain hard enough at times I was glad I'd left the big room open for the big girls and shut the door to give the little girls respite from the wind (talk about ruffled feathers).  Brief periods of weak sunshine, but mainly dark and overcast.  There were two bouts of hail, neither lasted long and were soon washed away.

What can I say?  It's spring.  It's pretty bad, however, when you start dreaming about weather as I did last night.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Helper Dude came just before I headed to the barn and started in weed-eating that lovely dratted weed under the oak by the woodpile.  It is such a pretty, lacy plant that later puts out tiny white flowers that turn into bijillions of dagger seeds.  It had not yet gotten to the flowering stage and the time to cut it back was now!

The sun put in a brief appearance while I was milking, but then the cloud curtain closed and the day was grey.  Again.  HD asked me how John Dear (aka The Tractor) was doing.  I said I was still learning his idiosyncrasies and one thing I had trouble with was that the gas pedal was like that on a car, press down, go fast.  Not so good on hilly property when instinct causes one to brace with one's feet going downhill.  He said, "But you have cruise control.  Use that."  "I do?  I have cruise control?"  It does wonders for a sixteen-year-old male ego to give a crash course on tractors.  HD showed me where the magic button was and how to use it, and also was able to remove the ball hitch the prior owner had installed.  Now I'll be able to use my little trailer while cruisin'.  HD also discovered that said owner had disabled the dead-man switch, a safety feature on most mowers.  I'd wondered about that, not that I get off and on all that much while John's working.  I truly appreciated the education.

HD's last task of the day was to trim Bessie Anne's nails.  Pedicures are not her favorite beauty treatment, even when she knows a treat is waiting at the end.  HD is quick and gentle and he uses a Dremel tool to smooth the rough edges.  I can trim goat hooves like nobody's business, but I will not cut a dog's nails.

The rain held off until just before Cam and Honey came for a visit.  Honey's thick German shepherd coat is like a sponge and when she gets wet, she stays wet.  Some years back Clay had given me a box of Shamwows, microfiber towels that are incredibly absorbent.  They actually live up to their advertising.  I used one to wipe down Honey.  Cam said she'd never been able to get Honey dry that fast and the dog had sometimes gotten a fungus from being wet for long periods.  I gave her one to take home.

It rained heavily all night, but it seems to have stopped (for awhile) this morning.  I feel like I'm the one who'll get damp rot if this keeps up.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

All Boots

All talk, no action.  All show, no go.  All boots, no cattle.  Nature pulled a good bluff yesterday.  The wind blew, the clouds came over, but these few pitiful droplets were all the storm she could manage.  She probably (and hopefully) used up her energy on the last ones that came through.  That's undoubtedly wishful thinking on my part, but one can hope.

Nice as it was, the trip to town took the starch out of me as always and it was a cold, cold day so I did absolutely nothing after barn chores.  I'm the one with no action.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I Spy

Back in the day when my Kids were younger (okay, a lot younger) and we would take road trips, there were no such things as iPads or PeaPods or whatever they are and no video screens in vehicles, either.  We played games, we sang songs, we told jokes and believe it not, we kept ourselves amused.  One of the games we played was "I Spy," in which one would pick out something they saw and the others would try to guess what it was.  I wish I'd had a bunch of kids with me yesterday to play the game because I needed extra eyes to keep a lookout for a dogwood tree in bloom.  Legend has it that it will snow one more time after those blossoms show and I would really like to have that forecast.  I even came back from town over Cedar Ravine, a heavily wooded road, thinking I'd double my chances of seeing a dogwood.  Either the trees bloomed and I missed it or snow is still on the agenda, because I didn't see a one.  Phooey.

It really was a gorgeous sunny day and if it hadn't been necessary to keep an eye out for the treacherous, numerous potholes in the road, it would have been a most pleasant drive to town.  Some civic-minded, obviously local person had used bright orange spray paint on the asphalt to warn drivers of a particularly nasty large hole on Fair Play Road.  Maybe Cal-Trans will take notice, too.

It wasn't surprising that the weather had an effect on everyone.  People in the stores were smiling and particularly patient and polite.  At the doctor's office, I had an opportunity that doesn't come that often up here.  An oh-so-young man (looked like he should have still been in high school) was checking in next to me.  I couldn't help overhearing that he was back from a tour of duty in the army in Bahrain.  As I passed him, I took the chance to thank him for his service.

Even Bessie Anne was affected.  At her age and with her leg ailments she's mostly sedentary now, but when I got home she grabbed up a stuffed kangaroo that Ralph had hauled out of the toy basket and raced around like a puppy.  It made me so happy to see her happy.  The feelings were contagious.  I worried for a minute when I went out to put the girls to bed and found them running up and down the pen until I realized they were playing like kids just because they could.

For someone who avoids town like the plague, it was a good day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Just What The Doctor Ordered

Ahhh, at last!  A good dose of sunshine was just what I needed yesterday, and a few pink tulips didn't hurt, either.  Even being NASCAR Sunday didn't stop Bess and me from a few walkabouts to soak in some rays.  I just love the pause and playback features on TV now for just such occasions.  I was so pleased to count ten peony plants in the front garden.  Because they die back completely, I can't remember how many there were to begin with or where they were planted, so it's like a treasure hunt when they emerge.  The lilacs in front of the kitchen window are in bloom.  The poor things were weighed down with snow the day before, but up and waving yesterday.

There was no dawdling down in the goat barn.  The girls couldn't wait to get outside.  Another large helping of oak leaves put dessert on their breakfast table.  It's one way to get some use from all that mess, and I've got to pick it up anyhow.

It seems that Snake has become a permanent resident in the milking room.  He was back in his corner again in the morning.  It does not please me that there is mouse on his menu, and I'm leery about stepping on him should he come out into the room, but I'm not about to reach into that dark nook and try to relocate him.

The local Kids are coming up for Easter, all but Clay who has to work, so a shopping trip is on today's agenda.  I can't even whine about that; it's a much nicer drive in good weather.  (Since it's still dark, I'm hoping for good weather.)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Did I Mention...? Chapter II

Did I mention that Nature is always capricious this time of year?  She really outdid herself yesterday. and threw darned near everything in her playbook at us.

The morning began with sunshine, a nice surprise, but it wasn't long until the cloud cover rolled in.  On my way to tend to the girls I gathered a big bunch of leafy twigs to throw over the fence.  Did I mention that goats really love leaves?  Being browsers in a pen without trees, this was a real treat for them.  The prediction had been for light, intermittent showers so I left only the play yard open for the day.  The grass was so waterlogged from the previous night's storm that by the time I got back from the goat barn, my shoes were so soaked that I might have been wading in Lake Tahoe.  They're still drenched and certainly won't be wearable for days.

The sun did peek out once in awhile, but the temperature stayed down in the 30s.  Did I mention I'd used the last of the porch firewood the day before?  There was no sense bringing up a wagon of wet wood, so it was a case of grab a lap robe and a couple of cats and tuck in for the duration.

Without prelude, it suddenly started snowing and continued to snow for an hour.  I had one of those deja vu moments when I recalled that it had snowed the week before Deb and Craig's wedding here sixteen years ago this month.  (By the way, Deb messaged later in the day that they'd spent the day outside in sunshine working in their garden.  Lucky them.)

Shortly after the snow stopped falling, the sun came out and within an hour all the white was gone.  My head was spinning just trying to keep up.

I'm glad I have photographic proof, because by sundown if I'd try to say it had snowed earlier, no one would believe me.  Yes, that's a full moon in the sky.

Whew, what a day!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Did I Mention...?

Did I mention it's been windy?  I was greeted by this green-festooned driveway as I left the house yesterday.  Not content with the single, but numerous, dry leaves of fall, Nature went wild with her pruning shears and tore small but complete branches from every oak on the property and blamed it on the wind.
It was even worse on the other side of Truck heading out to the feed barn.  Holy Toledo, it's a wonder there's a leaf left on the trees!  In a way, procrastination worked in my favor this time.  I've been planning to spend a day picking up dead branches, etc., from prior storms in the front yard so, if it ever stays dry for more than two days in a row, I can mow.  I'd be really pissy if I'd done that and then have to do it all over again with this green bounty.  I'll be permanently bent over like a crone, but at least one or two days of playing outdoor Pick-Up-Sticks should get the job done.
Rain spit off and on while I tended to barn chores so once again I left the door and gate open so the girls could seek refuge.  The view on the way back to the house wasn't any better.  The deck and the back yard look just the same.  The old girl really did a number on us.

The wind blew hard all day long.  I tried to get a fire going, but I'm pretty sure the wind was going down instead of up the chimney and the house stayed cold.  Arden came for a lovely visit in the afternoon and both she and I looked like we'd styled our hair with an egg beater.

There was a letup toward dusk, but it was literally the calm before the storm as it started raining and raining hard after dark and it poured all night long.  Did I mention I'm pretty tired of all this weather?

Friday, April 7, 2017


Bessie Anne picked a good day for a little rest and relaxation.  She got a pain pill along with her morning treats and was able to hobble out the door with me at feeding time.  She didn't go far from the porch, however, and I didn't waste any time in the barn because another storm was brewing and the wind was starting to kick.  (No sign of Snake yesterday.)

Gimpy lay on her big pillow bed with the comfy blanket, stretched out like Cleopatra for most of the day.  She usually makes the circuit, going from couch to love seat, to her recliner and to her bed.  Yesterday she just stayed put, only making a couple of quick potty runs outdoors.  Her day off seemed to have done the trick as by bedtime Bess was moving almost like her old self again.

The weatherman had said this storm was going to be a doozy and he was right.  That dadratted wind howled all day and all night and the rain beat down.  Today is predicted to be even worse.  Oh goody.  Ah well, another day off will be good for Bess Anne.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Snake returned.  Crum.  I almost missed him because he'd moved to the opposite, darker side of his nook, but was in that same statuesque upright position.  He's not the ideal roommate for the mice and goats, rattlesnake or not.  I'm certainly not going to put out the welcome mat for him.

In addition to the wasps, this weather has brought out the gnats.  These tiny, pesky insects are so irritating.  While they don't land and bite, they dance in a cloud directly in front of and only inches away from your eyes.  From any distance, it must appear I've gone loopy as I constantly wave my arms about as I'm going anywhere outside.  Come to think of it though, they don't hover on the deck.

Bess and I made a quick trip to replenish the feed supply in the afternoon.  I hate to admit it, but the 75-pound bags of goat chow are getting harder and harder to haul from the truck to the feed shed, but there's nothing for it but to "get 'er done."  Later, Bessie and I went out to rest and get a breath of fresh air.  We were enjoying the view when Bess started a deep growl in her throat.  I looked where she was staring and caught sight of another invader.  Before I could grab her collar, my loyal protector launched like a rocket.  For an old girl, she can really boogie.  Fortunately, this much larger dog showed good manners with the introductory mutual butt sniff and no aggression whatsoever when Bessie charged up.  Whew!  Black Dog went on up the drive past the goats, but only gave them a passing glance.  The girls, of course, were on high alert.  He went up to the west field and found his way blocked, so turned around and came back down.  Acknowledging that he meant no harm, Bess allowed him to go by without another challenge, and the last we saw of him he was going on up our road.  I hope his owners find him soon.

While I might feel it after moving bags of feed, Bessie Anne is paying the price for her burst of youthful speed.  She evidently strained the muscles in a hind leg and was limping badly last night.  She hasn't yet jumped off the bed, not even to get her morning treats.  I see a pain pill in her future today.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Shut The Barn Door!

This place was crawling with working men yesterday.  Shortly after barn chores, Beau drove up on his big(!) John Deere and used the ripper on the back and the blade in front to take down and then smooth the mound of now-composted weeds he'd left when he scraped the west field last summer.  Little John Dear can do a lot, but he can't climb mountains.  Beau came in for a cold drink and a chat so he got to meet Clay when he arrived.  After Beau tootled off down the road to help Camille with a similar situation (it's nice to be needed), working-man Clay went to work.

As soon as the doors were off, I took out a gas can to give John a drink.  We had a conversation about telling the truth so he doesn't get left out in the elements again, and then I tucked him under cover where he belonged.  I'm pretty sure he was repentant.

Because I enjoy Clay's company so much, I stayed outside to talk.  I'm never certain if I'm a help or a hindrance in a case like this, so soon went in to start a meal so Clay could concentrate on measurements, etc.  I've always had a bad reputation for making fried chicken (either burnt and dry or not quite cooked through - chicken is sneaky that way) but decided to try a new method.  I didn't have a recipe, so I was winging it.  After dredging the pieces in flour, I dipped them in a fairly thick flour, milk, garlic powder and a little cayenne batter before frying in hot oil until crispy and brown, then finished in the oven.  Mashed potatoes and cream gravy with mixed vegetables on the side completed the menu.  All I could do was hope for the best.  Clay had been forewarned.  To my relief, my made-up method hit the mark and we agreed the chicken was really good.

Break time over, Clay went back to work.  The weather cooperated fully and it was another beautiful day, perfect for working outside.

I forgot to mention that Snake had vacated the goat barn.  Clay has a variety of snakes at home (he goes for the really big guys) and said I'd guessed right, that Snake was simply digesting a meal.

With the goats' bedtime approaching, the barn doors were up and finished.  What a pleasure to have them meet in the middle, both sides able to open, and the latch close without my jerry-rigged arrangement of Carabiner clips.  It's been a long time.  Clay took his hefty supply of Good Son points and headed home.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Going Green

I waved to John on my way to the barn yesterday.  There he sat out there in the field, all by his lonesome.  I'll bet he doesn't fib to me again about his gas supply.  (But didn't he do a nice job cutting down the weeds?)

As if I don't have enough critters to worry about, I was a little concerned to find Snake in the same place and in pretty much the same position.  Snakes don't blink, so no clue there, but there was none of the flickering tongue action one expects from snakes.  Was he contemplating his navel, digesting a meal, or dying?  Not being a herpetologist, I have no idea what or if anything was wrong.  I hope Snake has moved on, or at least moved, today.

After a day spent shuffling and sorting papers, I needed some sunshine and fresh air.  Bess and I did a walkabout and then rested by Clay's trailer.  When he was here, we looked out over the tree-covered hills and I asked, "How can you describe the color green?"  There is a seemingly endless variety of shades, all "green."  The afternoon sun shining through the new leaves on the oak was so pretty overhead.

Clay is coming back today, so it's going to be a good day.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Playing Hooky

I wish gopher snakes had markings more dissimilar to those of rattlesnakes.  It gives one a jump start until the head or tail can be seen and the variety identified.  Thankfully, this intruder to the milking room was of the nonvenomous kind.  The only danger it posed was to the mice.  While that thought doesn't please me, the good thing is that snakes generally eat only once a week on average and so it isn't going to decimate the colony.  (I'd rather it developed a taste for ground squirrels.  Shhh.)  I never did get to see this one's tail, but there was a lot of snake looped on the sill below and over two feet showing.  It must have been uncomfortable, but Snake held this position the entire time I was bringing in goats, milking and feeding.  We agreed that if you don't bother me, I won't bother you.  Believe me, I did keep an eye on it because the last thing I wanted was to step on a snake.  It didn't move.

After chores, I was faced with a dilemma.  NASCAR or back to the grind.  Hmmm.  I was literally saved by the bell (in this case, the ringing of the phone).  My friend Harold called and invited me to go out for lunch.  Well yeah!  There was time to change into clean shirt and bibbies and even run the vacuum in the living room, and I put NASCAR on DVD.  We'd decided to try a cafe down in Mt. Aukum touted as a sports bar, so it was a surprise to find it closed on Sunday until I read the sign that said only "Football."  I guess if it were my place, it would have said "NASCAR."  Food and service at The Pub in Fair Play had been hit or miss in the past, but I knew there were new owners and one can always hope.  Options in this area are limited.  This time the food was good and the portions huge and we were happy we'd chosen to stay local.

Harold had errands to run so he brought me home and went about his business.  Since I'd already goofed off for the entire morning, I decided to play hooky for the rest of the day.  Weeds in the west field were putting out seed heads and the field really needed mowing to keep them in check (or try).  It's pretty obvious to me that John Dear's previous owner was a man, and not a gentle man at that.  It's been my experience that machinery, vehicles in particular, take on the attitude of their owners.  I once owned a used car that preferred to run at 55 and needed coaxing to go 65 on the freeway.  In John's case, throttle, brake lock, and steering all take more strength than one would expect.  We came to an agreement and spent a good while tootling around in the sunshine before John lied to me.  He actually has a gas gauge, and since we'd not had an opportunity to really get a workout before, I kept an eye on the gauge and he told me there was still plenty (well, enough, anyhow) of gas in the tank.  With possibly two or three more passes to finish mowing the field and at the farthest point from the barn, John quit.  Phooey.  I couldn't fill him up even though I keep gas in the barn.  Clay had nailed up the doors temporarily and I wasn't about to try to take one down.  There was no choice.  I left John Dear out there and hoofed it back to the house. I guess John decided to play hooky, too.

It was a good day.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

That Was Then

Once upon a time I was a semi-organized person.  I worked two jobs for ten years, sometimes putting in eighteen-hour days, and then I worked full time at home and that was no nine-to-five job, either.  I had file cabinets with real files with labels and everything.  No, really.  I fit in a lot of company and did a lot of cooking.  I did housework on an almost-regular basis.  All this was before I made procrastination a way of life.  Even when I know this non-habit will bite me in the backside, I continue to put off that which must be done.  Give me a deadline and I will wait until the last possible moment to spring into action, and I don't spring as well as I used to anymore and sometimes fall flat on my face.

Another day spent at the computer.  Aarrgh.  I longed to go out and give John Dear some exercise, but the best I could manage was a couple of walkabouts and a brief respite on the deck.  My farmer's tan is creeping up my arms as I push long sleeves up higher a little more each day.  In addition to the salad thief, the warm weather has brought out the wasps.  It won't be long until I go out on the deck armed with spray can in hand, looking for their nests.  I did a pretty good job last year keeping them in check this way.  Wasps and hornets are a yearly plague up here, and not one I look forward to, no more than when the mosquitoes arrive.

Back in the house and back at the computer, I berated myself once again and promised to turn over a new leaf.  I will stay on top of any upcoming event and be prepared in advance.  I even thought about dusting.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Man At Work

Clay had said he was bringing up materials and I thought they were perhaps for some future project, but no.  After a brief rest and catch-up conversation, he went right to work on repairing the double doors on the middle section of what I call the feed barn.  There are two extensions on either side of the big room, one where the alfalfa is stored and one smaller enclosed room where I keep the chicken feed and odds and ends of various hobbies and crafts of mine.  The main room was Steve's and is full of a hodge-podge of his stuff.  There are tools and a full roll of barbed wire and a lot of unidentifiable items; at least I don't know what they are.  I'm afraid to throw anything out because that whatever-it-is might be the very thing that is needed in the future to fix something or other.  Thing considers the entire barn his and continues to wreak havoc everywhere.

Time and weather had nearly destroyed the doors and the trim wood had rotted badly.  Clay racked up the Good Son points by removing the doors and replacing the bad wood with new lumber.  I've learned to stay out of a working man's way and offer moral support only.  Fortunately, it was an absolutely glorious day and a pleasure to be outside.  I understand that it was exceptionally windy down in the valley, but up here there was only a light breeze.  Clay took a break and we had a late lunch-early dinner together.  When darkness was falling and it was time to put the critters to bed, Clay put the doors temporarily in place and said he'd be back next week to finish the job.  Two visits from my Kid in one week makes me a happy camper!

It was a good day.