Friday, June 30, 2017

A Good Egg

I heard a tractor coming up the drive while I was milking yesterday.  Evidently Beau had decided to get going on the tree branch.  We had discussed the need to scrape that weedy area around it down to bare ground to lessen any danger of fire should there be a spark from the chainsaw.  His big-boy John Deere has a flat blade and it didn't take him long.  Beau already had the saw going by the time I finished in the barn and he worked steadily for quite awhile, then came up to the house for a cold drink and a sit-down break.  Rested, he went back out in the heat and worked for a couple of hours.  There's still a lot more to do, but it was a good start.  He's a good egg.

Speaking of eggs, that darned Gordon Ramsey!  I've been making scrambled eggs for many, many years and found out on the last episode of "Master Chef" that I've been doing it wrong all this time.  He demonstrated the "proper" way to scramble an egg (make that Ramsey's way) with a different technique and a dollop of creme fraiche instead of milk or water.  I gave it a try last night and darn his hide, he was right.  I had to substitute sour cream for creme fraiche, but still they were heavenly, moist, glistening, and light.  Deb wouldn't be a fan because she prefers all eggs, scrambled or fried, done until hard, but that will be her loss.  I may have to give them another trial tonight to be sure.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

One Potato

Helper Dude came rattle-banging up the drive on his quad yesterday morning, hauling a trailer with the tools I'd told him he'd need just as I was heading out to tend to the critters.  There were really four things that needed doing:  dirt had piled up behind the fence into the goat pen and it was getting harder and harder to open and close, the water trough needed emptying and cleaning, the barn had settled over the years and several of the hardware latches needed to be realigned, and the tall weeds on the sharp slope on the edge of the front yard needed to be cut down.  HD doesn't need much supervision, so I only suggested the order in which these jobs might be tackled, e.g., if he dug out the gate first while I was milking, the goats wouldn't have the chance to get out.  I went on down to deal with the girls and HD set to work.  He had thrown a fairly good-sized branch from the front oak over the fence and the girls were thrilled.  Leaves for them are like potato chips and are a great treat and kept them from pestering Helper Dude while he finished up with the water trough.  I'll say this for the young man, he doesn't dawdle and had everything done in a little more than an hour.  Man, I wish I could move that fast.

Shortly after HD left, Beau drove up on his 'Gator, another type of quad.  That seems to be a favored mode of transportation up here; Cam also uses one and hers has a platform of sorts so Honey can ride behind.  Beau had come to assess what needs to be done about that huge downed branch.  It's not going to be easy.  He stayed to chat for awhile and then tootled off.

It's been heating up again and I didn't want to do a lot of cooking for dinner.  Potato salad sound easy and good for a summer meal.  I laughed as I boiled one potato, cut a  tablespoon or so of onion, and made a dab of dressing.  For the family, I use probably five pounds of potatoes, and for a reception, had used twenty.  One potato in the pot looked ridiculous, but was just enough and it turned out well.

A lot got done thanks to HD, and it was a good day.  (Piglet now sleeps on the bed.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Normal Is A Relative Term

As much as possible, things are back to normal here...depending on your definition of normal.  There's always a bit of letdown when company leaves, so not much got done after Sandy drove off.  I was happy to get texts as she hit each critical landmark and then know she'd gotten to her granddaughter's home in Chico safely.

Like it or not, yesterday was take-the-trash-to-the-big-road day.  Driving is not a problem, it's getting in and out of the truck that makes this doggone rib scream.  I gathered up this week's contribution and was just ready to go out the door when I saw a deer in the driveway.  That was reason enough to put the bags down and wait her out.  From where she was standing, I knew she was headed over to the wild-thing water pot.  Even though much cooler (again, that's a relative term), I wouldn't have wanted to deprive an animal of a drink.  Finally, I loaded up Bess and the trash, leaped with the grace of a pregnant hippo into the truck, turned on the a/c, and off we went.  I don't know which of us likes the air conditioning better; it sure felt good.

Beau had said he would cut up the tree that fell in winter for half of the firewood.  That's a win-win for us both.  I called him yesterday and told him to sharpen his chainsaw and told him of the branch that had fallen this week.  That thing fell onto the pasture fence and took out a good portion.  Another disaster.  Sigh.  Helper Dude is coming today to take care of a number of chores for me.  I need a full time handyman.

All in all, it was a good day.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I Have An Excuse

I have not only an excuse, I have the best excuse for posting late today.  Sandy arrived yesterday afternoon, having made a circuitous scenic trip through and around the hills.  Her GPS wasn't working.  Thank goodness the woman has a sense of humor and we were able to laugh each time she called from some new location.  "Okay, give me a hint as to where you think you are now and I'll try to guide you in."  I hadn't wanted to leave the house for fear I'd miss the next SOS, so not long after she arrived safely, if a little the worse for wear, we had to go up to the grocery store for dinner supplies.  "Oh, I passed this corner!"  One way to find your way around is to get lost often enough to recognize landmarks.

We worked together to clip Bessie's coat and give her a puppy cut, so much cooler in hot weather.  Bess has just so much patience and she stood it as long as she could.  Not much you can do with a dog lying on her side.  Let's just say she had a unique hairdo.

After dinner I played an old, but favorite movie, "Always" (1989, Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman).  It has one of the most romantic scenes ever when Hunter walks down the stairs in a lovely white gown and a roomful of rugged firefighter pilots rush to wash their hands and line up to dance with her, a woman's dream.  I made it almost through the film before taking my usual before-bedtime nap in the chair and left poor Sandy to fend for herself.  Yes, I am a most thoughtful hostess.  Aarrgh.

While I milked goats this morning, Sandy evened up Bessie's coat and now my girl looks lovely and undoubtedly feels better.  We had both heard the crack and thud of another branch/tree, but I hadn't had time to find out where it hit.  Dang it.  Another huge branch had broken off the oak out by the driveway, the same tree that broke when Linda was here, the same tree that had held all those noisy baby birds.  Crum.  It's an epidemic.

It is sometimes years between Sandy's visits and I wasn't going to lose a minute with her this morning.  Sandy has a calmness about her that is rejuvenating.  Not only did we talk and talk, she also gave me a wonderful back and shoulder massage.  I may not be the perfect hostess, but Sandy was definitely a perfect guest.

How grand it was to hear, "Love you!" as she drove away this afternoon (with a complete set of directions).

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sleeping In The Park

"The Window" is a movie made in 1949, starring Arthur Kennedy, Barbara Hale, and Bobby Driscoll.  I watched it on one of the really hot days recently.  I'm not going to give away the story line, but it involved a 9-year-old boy in a blue-collar family living in a tenement in New York.  I almost gasped as this kid played in abandoned buildings, went up on the rooftops, and with his parents' approval slept out on the fire escape on hot nights.  It most certainly was a different world in 1949.

The movie brought back memories of that different world, my world, in 1949.  My mother would tell of hot, humid summer nights in Peoria, living on the banks of the Illinois River, when the family would take mattresses out on the porch to sleep.  Reliving her memories, sometimes she and I would sleep outside in the backyard in summer, but what I remember best is when she, my sister and however many kids she had at the time (she had seven altogether) and I would take blankets and spend the night at Santa Anita Park, across the street from the racetrack.  My father never joined in these outings, trying to maintain some form of dignity, and saying, "Craziest thing I ever heard of."  The point of this is that in that day and age, women and children lived a life of freedom, without fear.  A great nephew once came for a visit here.  He was about nine years old then.  (He's now close to thirty and is a father.)  He stayed sitting in the house and bored, and I finally told him, "Go outside!  I'll pack a lunch for you.  Go climb a tree or something.  You can go anywhere as long as you can still see the house."  "Can I, really?"  Where he lived in southern California he was not allowed to even go into the front yard.  That's pitiful, but watching the news these days, it's the new reality.  Pete came up yesterday and we were talking about this, and he said, "Mom, when we were kids (1960-70s) we left the house in the morning and didn't come home until dark!"  It's true, and I wasn't worried.  My only caution to them was to "stay together."  Life may not have been perfect back in the "good old days," but it was a safer world.  I miss it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Days drag and time flies.  How does that happen?  We're just about through the sixth of a twelve-month year and it seems I just took down the Christmas tree.  Perhaps right now this is more apparent to me as I've definitely gone into slow motion, but the week has still zipped by.

Cooler again by another couple of degrees outside, I still can't get the inside of the house below 90.  To me, that is H. O. T. and I sit with spray bottle at hand.  There was the possibility of a little more air circulating in the barn with the window covers off.  Percy is making such a pest of himself as he pops up again and again on either side of the room.  I wish he were like his brethren who come into the big room and flatten themselves like pancakes, arms and legs splayed like flying squirrels, trying to get cool in the shade.  They have the courtesy to wait until I leave to raid the stash.

Bessie Anne went to her pool four times yesterday and came back in dripping wet to throw herself on the hearth.  Oh well, it needed mopping anyhow.

Speaking of mopping and relatives, it was with great pleasure that I learned that one of Steve's cousins (oh, for goodness sake, after thirty years I think they're my cousins, too) is coming tomorrow for a visit.  The kitchen needs mopping.  Yup, I'll get right on that.  Luckily, I have two spray bottles so Sandy and I won't have to battle over custody of the one.

Cam has been taking care of Beau's animals while the family has gone for the weekend, and since she drives right by my place she stops in for a late afternoon chat.  There wasn't a hint of breeze all day yesterday, so thinking it would be cooler out on the deck was wishful thinking.  We watched several bands of tom turkeys march by below.  These birds are huge, and they walk with such dignity.  There is a big pot out by the chicken pen that is filled with water for the wild things.  Every day now it is nearly empty by morning.  Vultures line the rim of the goat trough to get a drink.

I'd best get moving, or this day will get away from me whether I'm in slow motion or not.  It's all relative.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Go Soak Your Head

"Oh, go soak your head," used to be the final harrumph in an argument; for me, it's a way of life.  Going down to and coming back up from the barn morning or evening, while topping off the water trough I'll literally soak my head and arms with the hose.  I stand in the sprinkler as I try to keep the herb garden alive.  When watering the deck plants, every few feet I'll turn the nozzle to 'mist' and stand under the spray.  My latest and best innovation is a spray bottle, and I wish I'd thought of it many summers ago.  It was a degree or two cooler outside yesterday, but still 90 in the house.  The ceiling fan does its best to stir the air, but it's not really effective, and there were no breezes outside.  Spritzing a mist at my face and neck periodically while in the house is instantly cooling.  It might not last long, so this is repeated throughout the day.  I probably look like a drowned rat, but I truly don't care.  Mr. Happy, the weatherman, joyfully proclaims this is the third longest stretch of heat since 19-umpty and seems almost sad that it may be coming to an end.  One can only hope.  Sorry, Mr. Happy.

I had planned to join Steve's family at the annual reunion this weekend as it is down in Angels Camp this year, not so very far away.  Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, nieces, nephews, cousins, and a gaggle of kidlets come from near and far.  It is always a time of camaraderie, games, contests, costumes, and good food.  I would have so enjoyed seeing everyone for an afternoon, but my rib continues to give me fits and tells me I'm not going to be driving any distance in the near future.  Sigh.

I've got to devise some sort of holster for the spray bottle so I can take it to the barn.  That's the plan.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Haute Couture

(After yesterday, that should be "hot" couture.)

I am widely known as a fashionista, dressing daily in duds designed and created by the premiere house of farm fashion, Dickies.  Pockets galore, durable fabric, always of a color that never goes out of style.  There are, however, a couple of tips I can give to anyone who wishes to follow my lead and wear bibbies (otherwise known as overalls).

1)  The designers seem to feel that if you buy a set of bibbies large enough to fit your derriere, you must be seven feet tall and they make the legs accordingly.  This will require an industrial-strength sewing machine to shorten or many, many turns of the cuff, creating the perfect place to store foxtails, bits of alfalfa, and a pound of dust/dirt.  Caution:  always empty the cuffs before washing bibbies.

2)  Straps on bibbies are adjustable.  There is a sort of mechanism by which they can be shortened for those of us who are vertically challenged.  Be forewarned.  The straps tend to readjust by themselves, and they're pretty sneaky.  You may not realize this until you see that your pants legs are dragging on the ground (filling the cuffs) or that the crotch is down around your knees.  Consider this a word to the wise.

Regardless of these drawbacks, I heartily recommend bibbies as probably the most comfortable britches out there with no waistline to bind as you sit to milk, loose enough to let air circulate in the heat, and they do wear like iron.

One-hundred in the shade and 90 degrees in the house.  I carried a spray bottle with me all day and frequently used it on myself and Bessie Anne (the cats were in hiding).  I had put in a call to Helper Dude to take the covers off the windows in the barn, something I've always done without thinking twice, but my rib told me in no uncertain terms not to try it this time.  Unfortunately, HD cannot come until next week and I didn't want the girls to suffer through the night.  I mentioned this dilemma to Camille and, bless her heart, she came in the afternoon to do this for me and the goats.  It was a ten-minute chore that will make all the difference in the world now that any puff of air can come through the windows for a little relief.

We then retired to the shade on the deck for a cold drink and a nice chat.  Heat or no heat, it was a good day.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peaks And Valleys

Highs and lows, peaks and is full of ups and downs.  For whatever reason, all of my current aches and pains were worse yesterday and laid me low.  Everybody fed, milked, and watered and I was down for the rest of the day.  Hurting like crazy doesn't do much for morale, either, and I had my own little pity party.  This prolonged heat had gotten to the chickens, too.  I hadn't picked up an egg in days.  I sure didn't blame them; I wouldn't have wanted to sit in a dark corner in a hot coop and be productive, either.

The house was littered with cats and dog stretched out on tiles and hearth, only changing places to find a cooler spot.  Boy, it didn't take Bessie Anne long to get with the program.  A couple of times yesterday she'd give a little whine.  "What?  Do you want to go in your pool?"  She would immediately go to the door and when I opened it, she'd run (the fastest she'd moved all day) to the water.  When she steps in, I pour water over her back and completely soak her down.  Dripping, Bess gets out.  I can judge her level of heat discomfort by how vigorously she shakes it off.  Yesterday she was a hot dog and there was hardly a twitch.  Wet dog doesn't do much for carpet or furniture, but her comfort is more important.  I feel bad that I can't bend over long enough to clip off her heavy winter coat just yet.

As they do, these things pass.  By nightfall I could walk upright and put the kids to bed.  There were even four eggs in the coop.  The weatherman is going to be happy today as the temp is supposed to break records(!), peaking well into triple digits, and then start on a downhill slope to mid 90s.  I'm moving much better this morning.  I'm ready for an "up."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Well Done

I will admit that I've been dragging my feet getting down to the goats these past mornings.  Just the thought of walking into that heat-shimmering sauna slows me down.  The girls seem to handle the temperatures with equanimity, but I want to make sure they have access to water and that can only happen when they're let out.  As Steve would say on an occasion when I might whine, "They're your toys.  You wanted them."  Yes I did, and I do.  A waiter might ask, "How would you like your steak, madam?  Rare, medium or well done?"  I prefer rare, but I am well done through and through after barn chores these days.

Cracked rib, sore bum, and mammogram are three things that should never be in the same sentence together.  Enough said.

Home again and back into bibbies and knowing I was done for the day, I invited Arden over.  She accepted and we sat out on the deck in the shade to catch any errant breeze that might come our way.  Bess lay panting under the table, so we took her over to the wading pool for a cooling dip.  It's a small pool and would have been crowded with three, but it was tempting.

There are good days, bad days, and those days when just getting through gets a "Well done."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Don't Ask

I never cared much for The Three Stooges, but was fond of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  Stan had a familiar line that went, "Now you've done it, Olly."  I've been saying that line to myself quite frequently of late.  The night after cracking the rib, after putting the kids to bed, a stick rolled under my foot and I landed hard on my backside.  Now it's hard to stand, move, and sit.  Today I have to drive into town for a mammogram.  I'm sure not going to ask, "What next?"

Turk now runs up to within a couple of feet from me and we go down to the feeding station together.  If I were so inclined, I'll bet I could have him eating out of my hand.

I think Percy has quit paying the vig to the goats because they've stopped tipping their bowl and dropping feed in the one spot I can't see.  Percy pops up on one side, then the other, trying to raid the mice's cereal.  Squirrels have really pretty, liquid brown eyes, but I swear Percy gets an evil glint as I squirt and swat.  Mice have lovely manners.  They chose a morsel and either take it away, or sit and eat it neatly, holding it with both hands (er, paws), and wipe their mouth when it's gone.  Squirrels cram everything into their mouth at one time, leaving nothing for the next guy.  Percy and I could get along if he'd only learn to share.

I took Bess out on the deck to go wading the other afternoon, thinking the water would be warm enough.  It's a good thing I tested it with my hand first.  If she'd stepped in, she'd have been a boiled hot dog!  That water was hot!  We tried it again yesterday, but waited until the pool had been in the shade for awhile.  That worked.

I really want to slap the weatherman.  He gets so excited as he points to his graphs and tables, "We're going to beat the record for the most consecutive days over 100 degrees (in the valley)!"  Or for the highest temp for such-and-such a date.  I have no interest in breaking records.  I just want to know when this heat wave will come to an end.  Yesterday morning it was not only hot, but humid, too, and that created the condition for dry thunder storms and the thunder rolled for more than an hour.  That sets the stage for fires, and we were lucky to avoid them so far.

Sleep is my panacea for pain and/or heat.  I've been doing a lot of that lately.

Monday, June 19, 2017

To The Rescue

Levels were getting low in the feed barrels.  Patrick usually calls before he delivers alfalfa and I was going to ask him to throw some grain on the truck, too.  That saves me a trip and he empties the bags into the barrels for me, but he didn't call last time.  The chicken feed comes in 50-pound bags, usually no problem, but I was wondering how I was going to manage yesterday with this banged up rib.  As if I'd been sending out mental SOS signals, Pete called early on and offered to come up and tend to whatever needed doing.  Talk about a life saver!  Of course it was the hottest day so far, but he soldiered through it.  He told me, "I know you, Mom, you wouldn't let any of your animals go hungry."  I had to admit that the mice had gotten second helpings during milking in the morning.  Percy had snuck in unnoticed and cleaned them out.

Pete's timely rescue was greatly appreciated, and I enjoyed his company even more.

It was a good day.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

No Doubt

No doubt about it, I definitely cracked a rib.  So many chores and tasks I do every day without a second thought were painfully pointed out yesterday that involve pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, etc., and it's not like I can call in sick.  It is still pollen season and sneezing is the last thing I want to do.  I know from prior experience that I'm in for the long haul on this one.  It seems to take forever for these things to heal.  One other cracked rib, and then there was the time I slipped off the tailgate of the truck, landed square on my butt, and heard my coccyx (tailbone) snap.  There are so many opportunities for potential injury here that, all in all, I'm still pretty lucky.

 I'll admit I gave Sheila the stink eye in the morning, and I took a pass on cleaning the stalls.  Not much got done yesterday, period.  Sitting quite still was in order, and I'm good at that.  What with the heat, the cats simply disappeared to some cooler haven.  Lap or no lap, Celeste was not to be seen, and Bessie Anne found her summertime hidey-hole on the stone hearth behind the wood stove.  The only productive things accomplished were filling the hummers' feeders, watering the deck plants, and filling Bess's new wading pool.  By this afternoon, the water will be warm enough for her to go splashing and cool off.

No doubt today will be a rerun, and that will be the only thing running around here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Screeching Halt

All ambitious plans for the day came to an end when I got back from the barn yesterday.  Summer announced its arrival with soaring temperatures and I was right back to the sit-and-sweat routine.  I felt really bad for Patrick later as he bucked ten bales of alfalfa off the flatbed and stacked them in the feed barn.  Sweat just poured off him.

I don't think much will get done today, either.  Sheila was being a stinkpot at bedtime last night and we got into a wrestling match.  In the scuffle, I banged my rib cage on a half-door and I'm pretty sure I cracked something.  Let's just say I'm moving slow today, heat or no heat.

The day before, I thought I'd try out the "delay brew" feature on the coffeemaker that would have my coffee ready when I got up.  Again with that darned 24-hour clock thing.  I failed.  Waking at 4:30 this morning, still drowsy with sleep I thought if I hurried I would only have to push the button a few times to have the coffee ready at 5.  It wasn't until I was going down the hallway that the craziness of that hit me.  Oh well.

That beautiful Asian lily I showed the other's gone.  Robert struck again.  Drat.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Trial And Error

Let's face it, I have little to no self-control.  I'd planned on waiting for a visit from Pete to try out the new coffeemaker, but there I was yesterday, cleaning up in the kitchen and thinking housewifely thoughts.  The coffeemaker was sitting in its unopened box in the round room.  "Hmmm, maybe I should just make sure all the parts are there."  They were.  "Maybe I should give it a trial run just to make sure everything works."  Uh huh.  The first thing I do with any new equipment is sit down and read the instruction manual cover to cover.  It's a coffeemaker, how hard can it be?  1. Set the clock.  Just one button to push and if you miss the a.m. or p.m. or go past the desired hour by even one minute, you push the button through another 24-hour cycle.  It only took me about seventeen tries.  2. Pour in fresh water.  I did, and immediately flooded the countertop.  I'd missed the reservoir.  (In my defense, the machine is black and the light was dim.  It's my story.)  After using up a week's worth of cuss words and mopping up the mess, I persevered and got the darned thing working.  Like John Dear, we're going to have a period of adjustment here.  I did get a kick out of the Troubleshooting section of the manual.  Can you imagine the irate call to tech services that required this addition?
Problem:  the coffeemaker only brews water.
Probable Cause:  there are no coffee grounds in the filter basket.
Solution:  add the desired amount of coffee to the filter.
At any rate, I was glad I'd given it a trial run by myself.  Public humiliation is not my thing.

The rest of the day was spent in nirvana.  The Kids had gifted me with another certificate for massage and I took advantage of a visit in the afternoon.  To me, that's the height of luxury.  I had to stop for gas and put in an order for alfalfa on the way home.  I was so relaxed it was hard to hold the pen to write a check.

All's well that ends well.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Out Of Control

When we moved here, this hedge (and don't ask me what the plants are) was below the window ledges in front of the two front bedrooms.  Those rooms face west and, like the kitchen, get the brunt of the afternoon summer sun.  I used to keep the hedge clipped down until I realized it could afford some shade, particularly because one room was my office in which I spent many hours doing medical transcription and sweltering.  I did keep the hedge neat and tidy, though, with nice flat top and sides, but let it get much taller.  I don't do ladders anymore, and knew the top was getting unruly, but it wasn't until I really looked at it yesterday to see that the front and ends were also out of control.  I'm sure not going to do anything about it right now.  When the shrubs burst into blossom as they have, they draw bees like crazy and I would do anything to help those little critters.  We'd be in a world of hurt without them; bees do so much more for the planet than make honey.  I'll just put hedge trimming on the to-do-someday list.

All that was lush and green on the property has turned dry and brown.  I've had to start supplementing the girls' feed with alfalfa again.  Dead weeds and grasses have few of the nutrients of the greens they were stuffing down daily and milk production was notably down.

I misnamed Greedy Gus, the ground squirrel who comes to the breakfast buffet each morning.  It is my habit to call, "Turk, turk, turk," as I throw down the seed to bring the turkeys to the table.  Yesterday there were no turkeys in sight, but Gus was.  He waited, however, until I called, "Turk, turk, turk," to came and eat.  He thinks his name is Turk and he waited for his invitation.  Turk it is then.  They make me laugh.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rambling On

Same view, same time, same sky, but, oh, what a difference a day makes (Dinah Washington, 1975).  It was like that moment in "The Wizard Of Oz" when Dorothy flies out of black-and-white Kansas to step into technicolor Oz.

There was also a significant change in temperature.  Getting ready to go into town, I shed the turtleneck of the day before for a light-weight shirt and jeans.  It wasn't really what I'd call hot, but pleasantly warm.

(Celeste is wandering up and down the hall, miaowing as she goes around with Waldo in her mouth.  I wonder where she'll leave him today.)

When did doctors' offices become so organized?  Back in the day I'd spend hours in the waiting room, just waiting.  Nowadays I'm in and out on schedule.  Nice.  Dr. Locke gives a good, firm handshake.  (After seventeen years of milking, I've got a pretty good grip, myself.)  I so dislike a wimpy handshake.  I used to tell my grandkids, "You never have to kiss or hug anyone if you don't want to, but if you do, do it like you mean it.  No Hollywood hugs or kiss-the-air kisses."  If my kids hug you, you'll know you've been hugged!  But I digress.  I'm cleared for another six months, at least by this doc.

I did buy a new coffee maker.  It's got several bells and whistles I'm not sure I'll need, but it has a "strong brew" feature that I think Pete will like.  He drinks a lot of coffee when he's here and likes it strong enough to hold up a spoon.  I'm not sure what the metal was, probably aluminum, but when I was a kid, my mother and Aunt Jimmy (I also had an Aunt Carl - those Texans) would play cards all day and make pot after pot of coffee to "break in a new pot" and get rid of the metallic taste.  I haven't unpacked it yet and will probably wait until my old one gives up the ghost.

Doctor's office and two shopping stops and I was home in a little over three hours.  I can handle that.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Random Thoughts

I wait with anticipation each year for the Asian lilies to bloom.  There were a number of buds this year, but this is the only flower I've seen.  It seems that Raider Robert, that blankety-blank ground squirrel, has been on a search-and-destroy mission.  I don't think I'd mind quite so much if he actually ate the buds, but he just tears them from the plants. and sometimes pulls the plant out of the pot.  Drat.

Ralph came by as I was having a sit-down after barn chores.  Surprised, he immediately took the opportunity to fill an empty lap.  For the first time ever I heard a real cat purr instead of his usual raspy snork.  Could it be this little boy is growing up?

"Come on, Mom!  Let's you and me go outside."  So, of course, I followed Bess out to the deck for a little cloud watching.  It didn't rain all day, but the clouds remained threatening with that possibility, and it was positively cold.  Listening to the quiet, I realized that all those noisy baby birds in the oak to the left must have fledged.  No more of their raucous calling for more food.  Sitting there with frigid fingers, it was hard to believe a 30-degree spike in the temperature is due by the weekend.  I am not, repeat not, looking forward to heat close to 100.

Waldo either fell, was pushed or thrown down the stairwell.  Poor Waldo.

Hard to believe, but I've got a one-year follow-up appointment with my surgeon today.  While in town, I think I'll buy another coffee maker.  The old one seems to have recovered from whatever its problem was, but it might be wise to have another waiting in the wings, just in case.  I have priorities.

Hot days are meant just for sweating, cool days are work days, and cold days require a couple of lap cats.  Yesterday was cold.  There were only ragged remnants of the earlier clouds left at sundown.

It was a good day.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Luck O' The Scots

Rain had been predicted so I left the doors open for the girls after racing through chores.  I was actually on time to pick up Cam for our day's outing to the Highland Games, and this year we were there for the opening ceremonies.  The fun started in the parking lot.  A pair of barely teenage boys were giving lackluster directions, obviously wishing they'd stayed home.  "Oh no, kid!  Where's the old lady parking lot?  You're not going to make me walk from here, are you?"  He thought a minute and then firmly pointed to the space he'd selected, backed up by his buddy.  To him, I said, "Kid, you've got to work on your moves,"and demonstrated.  They started laughing, and played along.

Once upon a time I went to every meeting of the clans in northern California.  Spirits lift with the first sound of music and it only gets better.  Like a Willie Nelson concert (I've been to my share of those, too), people are there just to have a good time.  It's hard to walk and not keep in step to the drums from bands that are practicing everywhere.  Cam and I cruised the midway and picked a meeting place should we get separated.  The first order of business was to get a beer and a banger-and-onion for me and a corn dog for her, then we headed to the grandstand.  I've been to Games where there were thirty bands; yesterday there were only four, but they made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers.  Some think the Scots are a dour people; I find those I've met to be witty, rather ribald, and friendly.  The MC was no exception.  In these photos, the bands are to the right and clans and guilds are to the left.  The clouds were rather foreboding.

The Star-Spangled Banner was sung with utmost respect, and the crowd remained standing as a woman sang Flower Of Scotland, the unofficial anthem of Scotland.  The bands played together and then separately.  Is there anything more rousing than Scotland the Brave?  In amongst the clans, there was a group of Vikings (the enemy) who staged a mock drunken brawl that had us laughing.

After the ceremonies, Cam and I wandered through the animal barn and other exhibits.  I must say, the luck of the Scots was with us.  I don't think it ever reached 60 degrees, but no rain fell and it was most pleasant to walk along.  The military, veterans and active, was well represented in the various booths.  Over by the tents of the clans, girls were being trained for the caber toss with much lighter poles than those used by men, but still over 100 pounds; impressive!

After seeing all the craft booths and talking with exhibitors everywhere, we went to the open-air bandstand to listen to the music and rest our tired feet.  Feet kept active by thumping in time to the drums, however.  Not only were musicians playing in front, but bands were practicing on the hill and then marching along on the street behind.  I find the skirl of bagpipes thrilling.  Cam went over to watch the "heavy athletic" competition and I sat and indulged in people watching.

I'll have to admit that the highlight of the day was as we were driving out.  The same boys from the morning were sitting at the exit.  After all the cars they'd seen throughout the day, when they saw my truck they leaped to their feet.  The one cried out, "Old lady parking this way!" and the other gave a demonstration of directing that would have made a New York traffic cop proud.  Talk about ending the day with a laugh!

It started spitting rain on the way home and I'd no more than gotten in the house when the skies opened up and it rained hard for an hour.  The luck of the Scots held and it stopped before I put the kids to bed.

Need I say it?  It was a good day.  (Waldo was in the living room.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

They Say...

They say that nothing breeds success like success.  It might be true.  Still riding the high from the day before, I was inspired yesterday to "go for the gold."  After getting the last yard mowed (that was the biggie) I went on to scratch a number of other items off the to-do list, and all this before sitting down to watch the race at Belmont.  They say that the favorite horse never wins at Belmont, but it sure looked like Irish War Cry was going to disprove that.  Then Tapwrit surged past at the last minute for the win.  Guess "they" were right.  Since none in the family had picked Tapwrit, my nickel can stay in the piggy bank.

Arden asked the other day about Snake.  I haven't seen Snake in awhile, and that is worrisome.  Since I know he hangs out in the milking room, when I don't see him I am on high alert as to where else in the barn he might be.  I much prefer to see a snake first.

I feel that I'm in a real-life episode of "Where's Waldo?".  I never know where the piglet(s) will turn up.  Yesterday Waldo was on the bed.  Since all the piglets are identical, from now on they are all named Waldo.  Waldo was gone by bedtime, but I'm sure I haven't seen the last of him.

It had been a perfectly glorious day.  Blue, blue sky with a few cotton-ball clouds and a cooling breeze.  By sundown that breeze had turned into a chill wind and a jacket felt good on the way to the barn.

Cam and I are going to the Highland Games down in Plymouth today.  Men in kilts, bagpipe and drum bands, and bangers and onions, it doesn't get much better than that.  However, they say there's a possibility of rain in the afternoon.  I don't think that will dampen our spirits one bit.

It was a good day.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Great And Small

I find as I grow older that my world is shrinking.  Having once traveled to most of the U.S. states, including Hawaii and Alaska, and to eleven countries in Europe, now a trip to Cameron Park is a big deal.  My circle of friends is smaller.  Once upon a time I was president of a police wives organization of over 500 women, now I count my friends on both hands (but to steal a line from Spencer Tracy, "...not much there, but what there is is 'cherce'").  This is all as it should be because I'm not sure I'd have the energy to cope with more.

James Herriot wrote some lovely books, including "All Creatures Great And Small."  I like that idea of inclusion, the point being is that I've learned to appreciate the small things in life, and small triumphs become great things in a limited environment.  Yesterday was filled with little joys, starting with the fact that the girls were not fighting when let out of the barn.  Spot put in an appearance at the breakfast buffet in the milking room.  It's nice to see a familiar face.  Celeste made me laugh when she came down the hall, miaowing like mad, and brought the piglet into the living room to toss and pounce and finally sit and protect.

It was another cool day, that alone was cause to rejoice.  It won't last as it's due to go up into the 90s by end of next week.  Aarrgh!

I fell into Facebook hell on my iPhone when I pushed the wrong button or swiped the wrong way and found I couldn't get out or go forward...just plain stuck.  I wish I knew how I did it, but eventually came unstuck by hitting the right combination of whatever.  That was a major triumph!

I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, doing chores, etc., when they're noted and not putting them off as I've been doing.  Things like watering the house plants might not seem like much, but I'm tired of carrying the self-imposed load of guilt when they're not done.  My greatest success was that I dusted without incentive or provocation.  No company was expected and there was hardly enough to write your name in.  I just did it.  Ta da!

Another spectacular sunset was a fitting end to a good day.

Friday, June 9, 2017

I Love A Rainy Day

Yes, this is the same me who not so long ago was whining about rain, but that was constant rain, days and days of downpour to the point I was checking how long a cubit is so I could build an ark.  Yesterday, it started to sprinkle just as I went out to feed (of course).  It was a nice warning to close the big door on the chicken coop and it didn't come down harder until I was milking.

I'm having a bit of a problem with the girls.  Three is not a good number with goats.  When there are four or more, they've each got someone to buddy up with.  Three, not s' much.  Sheila and Tessie are ganging up on Inga and making her life miserable.  I'd have to look up records for just how old Inga is, but since all the girls were named alphabetically in order of birth, there's obviously a stretch between I and S, T.  Normally, leaving the play yard open would give enough shelter for the three, but the younger two were butting Inga and pushing her out so I had to leave the door to the big room open, too, so she could get in somewhere without being bullied.  My life would be easier if I could put all the girls together in the big room (about the size of six good-sized stalls) at night, but obviously that's not going to happen.

For most of the day there was either a gentle rain or a drizzle/mist and it was cool, cool, cool.  The song in my head was a paraphrase of Eddie Rabbit's song "I Love A Rainy Night."  The only problem, if it can be called a problem, is that this weather tightens my curly hair and I look like I'm wearing a Brillo pad on my head.  Oh, well.

It was a perfect day to get a lot of computer work done and not swelter or freeze.  There was a break in the afternoon, long enough for Bess and me to go get another bag of goat chow.  There are those things one cannot do without.  I fear I'm going to have to make an unscheduled trip to town soon because my coffee maker is making death gurgles and that's another indispensable item.

I found one of the knitted piglets Ralph had stashed away and threw it out into the room for him to find and hide again.  I have no idea where the others are.  He's gotten quite good at hiding his treasures.  While at the computer, I kept hearing a cat's high-pitched miaow.  It was Celeste walking around with the piglet in her mouth.  I don't know whether she was celebrating the finding of the lost, feeling sorrow for the poor baby, or proclaiming victory over Ralph, but she did it time and time again throughout the day.  I don't know where the toy is now.

It was still misting at the kids' bedtime.  It was a good day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Beginning To End

It was a busy day yesterday, probably due to a nice drop in the temperature.  It began as usual, throwing down birdseed.  No turkeys were evident (must have slept in), but Greedy Gus raced to fill his cheeks.  Note the two holes on either side.  I have to be careful where I throw the seed; I don't mind feeding the wild things, but I'll be darned if I'll do home delivery.

In addition to getting other neglected chores done, John Dear and I mowed down the west field.  I'm trying to stay ahead of the dreaded star thistle, and I must say the field looks very nice.  I can't say the same thing for John and me.  You'd never know my shoe is as black as that tire and my sock started out white.  This is a pretty good indicator of how dust roiled around us as we made the circuit.  Still have one more yard to go, but I gave John a shower and we called it a day.

Clouds coming in from the coast at sundown give credence to the weatherman's prediction that there is a chance of rain today.  I sincerely hope so as that would settle some of that danged dust.

I'm going to have to start requiring reservations for room on my lap.  At day's end, looking for a little rest I lay back in my chair (ye gods, I should have stripped off those socks!).  Immediately I was joined by uninvited guests crowding into whatever space was available.  Ah, well, I'd probably miss them if they didn't show up.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wound Down

Another hot day and my activity springs came uncoiled.  A load of laundry washed and hung was the big accomplishment of the day.  After writing of all my mother did I am shamed, but not enough to do anything about it.  There are still two yards to mow.  I was waiting until closer to sundown when the breeze usually kicks up and would make it more bearable, but just as I was going out received a rather lengthy phone call and missed that opportunity.  Oh well.

Bess Anne is going through another needy phase.  Her opinion seems to be, "If you're just going to sit there, you should be holding me."  She's not a big dog, but she has a stocky build (she says she's got heavy bones) and weighs nearly fifty pounds.  It's a bit of a struggle to get her up onto my lap, but I can't look long into those puppy-dog eyes and so we get it done.  When it's hot, thankfully the cats head for cooler places to nap.  Let's face it, Bessie Anne on my lap is a good excuse not to do anything.  Heaven knows I wouldn't want to disturb the dog.

I'm hoping the weatherman proves trustworthy.  He said, with a straight face, that we're due for a twenty-degree cool down tomorrow so there's a possibility my springs might get wound up again.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wonder Woman

Back in the day when televisions had nine-inch round screens, rabbit-ear antennas, and a whopping three channels, there was a program called Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians and featured a comedic Hilo Hattie.  My mother loved the music and decided to learn how to play a steel guitar.  She took lessons, practiced diligently, and got quite good, to the point she played in a steel-guitar band for awhile.  It may be that Hawaiian music went out of vogue or Mother's enthusiasm waned, but she gave that up for other interests.

A hobby that lasted longer and was certainly productive was making hooked rugs.  What a tedious process that was.  Mother would go to thrift stores and buy woolen clothing, cut them apart, somehow bleach the color out, redye the material to her needs, and then began cutting it into quarter-inch strips.  The backing was pattern-printed burlap and the strips were hooked in and pulled up into even, tight loops.  It must have taken forever.  These were big rugs, over six feet long and four feet wide.  They were quite beautiful.  I have three or four still, some in a chest downstairs and a small one with rose buds that was made for my bedroom is in the guest room now.  It's a little the worse for wear, but I'm not willing to give it up.

She could have been a professional seamstress.  She made almost all of my clothes as I grew up.  She had insomnia and many were the times I'd wake in the night to hear the whirring of Mother's sewing machine, the only light coming from the machine.  My brother-in-law brought home a silk parachute from the war (WWII), and Mother used the real silk material to make a negligee and peignoir set for my sister, pure luxury.

Mother never learned to knit, but she could crochet up a storm.  Our house was filled with doilies and antimacassars made by her hands.  She also could tat, something I could never get the hang of.  Much later, she would sit outside where the light was better and tat lace to edge handkerchiefs.  I have the last ones she made.

We had a large orchard with a variety of fruit trees.  Mother picked and canned fruit for hours in the summer.  We didn't have air conditioning then (either), and she and my sister sweltered as they cut and stirred.  Shelves in the garage were filled with sparkling, jewel-toned jars to bring a taste of sunshine throughout the winter.

When she was 50, the Los Angeles Police Department was trying out a new program, putting civilians on Harley three-wheelers and making them "meter maids."  I'm not sure she knew what she was getting into, but Mother applied for the job and got it.  The PD didn't know quite what to do with civilians, so sent them through the cadet academy like regulation police officers.  It was a grueling exercise, but Mother persevered.  Her graduation was one of the proudest moments of her life.  She worked in Los Angeles riding a motorcycle until she retired at age 65, and then she began traveling the world, sometimes alone and at others taking a grandson along.

We didn't always get along, but with all the hoopla about the new movie "Wonder Woman," it's made me think of her

Monday, June 5, 2017

Strange Bedfellow

There is something about putting fresh sheets on a bed that drive cats, Ralph in particular, bonkers.  The battle begins as soon as the bottom sheet is billowed open.  He runs under it and begins rolling.  There have been times I've tucked in all four corners with him squished in the middle before he oozes out from under like toothpaste.  Then, oh joy, comes the top sheet.  He darts about on the bed, pouncing on every wrinkle.  It's a real struggle to smooth and tuck with this nutter playing games.

Sheets finally in place, there is still the blanket.  Goody, goody!  Ralph brrrp-brrrps as he grabs at each blanket roll.  Celeste was off in another room or I'd have had two cats to contend with.  Who knew that changing the sheets could be such a circus and source of amusement.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


It has become a battle of wills.  After suffering two defeats the day before, I would have thought Mama Wasp would have moved on.  However, she was building a new nest in exactly the same spot yesterday.  While I admire her tenacity, I do not want to be roommates with her.

The construction really is amazing.  Only a little larger than a quarter, this partial piece is lighter than a feather.  The material is as thin as tissue paper, but it is tough and doesn't tear easily.  Mama had begun the compartments for her eggs and, given the chance, would continue creating a safe nursery.  I wonder if she lays eggs in each tier as she goes.

After a hiatus, Shaddup is back on sentry duty.  Not only that, there is now a Shaddup backup in training.  It is hard to describe the irritating, repetitive, high-pitched, metallic yip of a ground squirrel, and now there are two.  Shaddup sits atop the juniper bush and Junior perches on the fence behind him.  Sometimes they take turns and sometimes they yell in unison.  Either way, they're driving me nutty.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Not Always

Children are taught, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."  However, persistence does not always pay off, particularly in my goat barn.  A paper wasp had started building a nest under a rafter almost over my head.  Nope, sorry, that's not gonna happen.  After switching out goats on the stand, I knocked down the nest with a broom handle I keep for just such purposes.  Mama wasp came back and hunted the area.  She knew where she'd left it and couldn't believe it was gone.  I actually felt bad for her.  Son of a gun, she started building a new one right where the first one had been.  When I'd finished with the girls and Mama was away getting more materials, I took down the nest.  They really are marvels of engineering and construction, considering they're made of spit wads, but I don't want to share my space with wasps.

Percy, and this time it was Percy, showed up yesterday.  Again and again he'd pop up on either side of the room, determined to horn in on the mice's meal.  My head was on a swivel checking for that persistent dude, either yelling or squirting to keep him away.  He probably came back after I'd left the barn and cleaned up the leftovers, but at least the littlest kids had their breakfast in peace.

Love was in the air for a pair of lizards.  She was playing coquette and he was getting desperate.  Neither of them paid me any attention as he chased her through the milking room and into the big room and back again.  She stayed just a few inches in front, but he wouldn't give up.  I glanced down as I was letting Tessie out.  Oh, no!  There he was, lying flat on his back.  Had he had a heart attack?  I picked him up thinking to dispose of the body, but some impulse told me to put him back down.  He'd either fainted from exhaustion or passed out in ecstasy because he revived and went on about whatever it is lizards do.  Maybe persistence did pay off for them.

Friends from Fiddletown called and invited me to meet them at The Pub.  Of course, I said of course.  It's been a couple of years since I've seen them and I do enjoy their company.  I'd recently watched a cooking show that featured different ways to prepare zucchini, so the beer-battered strips appealed to me.  They came with a couple of dipping sauces and were very good.  The chef came out later (it's that kind of place) and stopped by our table.  I said I'd really enjoyed the zucchini and asked if he put corn starch in the batter.  He said no, but he'd recently heard about that and planned to try it.  He asked if we were going to be there a little while longer because he'd go back in the kitchen and play with the recipe.  When he came back with a piping hot basket of strips, he sat down and we all compared the two preparations.  The consensus was that the addition of corn starch gave an even better crunch.  How often does a home cook get a kudo from a chef?

It was a good day.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Getting There

It was as if this peony had waited for the proper (weed-free) setting before stepping on stage.  It certainly hadn't been open the day before.  This is one of the singles; most of the others are the big, showy doubles.  I like the unusual center display.

It was a go-to-town day, like it or not.  Walmart in P'ville is no longer a one-stop shop as they have eliminated the fresh-food section.  I wonder what corporate dunderhead thought that would be a good idea.  It certainly will add miles and time now if I need an onion or a bag of salad.  Sigh.

There was still time when I got home to put John Dear into action.  We mowed the back and front yards.  What a difference one day makes.  While the ground had been soft and damp after that short rain, yesterday the dust billowed and rolled around us in dirty clouds.  Note to self:  shut the front door before mowing.  There are still the side yards and the west field to work on and a ton of hand weeding to do, but slowly, slowly, we're getting there.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Weed Be Gone!

A soft rain began just after sunup yesterday and lasted about an hour.  It had stopped by feeding time, but left the air feeling fresh and clean and settled the dust on the ground.  I could go for that kind of rain on a regular basis.  There was a high overcast, and it was perfect weather to get a start on weeding the herb garden.  The dirt was softened and made pulling weeds so easy.  When the sun broke through, it was as if Nature had turned up the temp on the oven and it was time to quit.  I'll pay for it today, but I did get the entire peony area cleared.  There are enough weeds left to constitute a full-time job, but it was a good start.

It wasn't just the peony bed that looks good now.  Helper Dude came with his weed whacker and cleared all the areas that I can't get to with John Dear.  John still hasn't had any exercise as the yards and field were too wet.  Like dusting, it's never ending, but we got a lot done and it shows.