Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Recently, a friend noted that every dog toy Scrappy owns has a name.  A name ending in the "ee" sound.  Ropey.  Cowie.  Squirrely (it's actually "Coonie", but it replaced the original "Squirrely").  Foxie.  Even the 'kids' have names ending in "ee".  Bernie.  Scrappy.  Cookie.  (Once)Slimmie.  Kramer.  Okay, almost all of them.  Krameree doesn't exactly roll smoothly off the tongue.  Even my humidifier is part of the theme - Reggie.  I refer to the homestead sparrow hoard as the Joneseys.  Should I be on speed dial to Dr. Freud?

Which reminds me of one of the many reasons I detested high school.  As a freshman, we were required to take Speech Class.  As far as I was concerned, it could have been Let's-Have-A-Root-Canal Class.  I was terribly shy and self-conscious in school - actually, almost right up to present-day.  An arty outsider who spent her weekends going to art museums and Gilbert & Sullivan operettas (cue in the violins...)  Our teacher was a sadistic bugger by the name of Mr. Higgie.  I suppose, given that name, he was hard-pressed to grow up any other way.  For our final exam, we were to choose a subject and give a 15 minute speech glorifying, edifying or not, our subject.  I chose Sigmund Freud.  Don't have a clue as to why I did.  The trouble was, I had never heard his name spoken.  It's an enigma to this day.  I hunched my way up to the podium and bravely soldiered on.  Pronouncing it "Free-ood".  In addition to Mr. Higgie, there was only one other person who was aware of my faux pas.  She was what passed as my only friend.  I had stammered my way through about 10 minutes of my speech, when she burst into fits of hilarious laughter, followed closely by Mr. Higgie.  Mr. H then pronounced, in his high, nasally voice, "Miss Wormersley, it is Froid.  Not Free-ood.  One would think you would know the difference if you have chosen this as your speech topic."  Needless to say, it was not my best moment or memory.  I did have the presence of mind to correct his pronunciation of my last name.  Which landed me a C- (I did have a thoroughly researched speech - complete with footnotes.)

My question is this -- am I the only one who does this?  Should I be looking for help-ee?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time Warp.

Is it just me, or does weekend time seem to gain momentum and whiz by at the speed of light?!  I feel as though I drop blissfully into bed on Friday night, visions of all the items on my to-do list with a check mark next to them - then WHAM!  It's Sunday night and I am exhausted and planning my lunches for work.

I am sure you have noticed that my weekend blogging is, well, let's say 'lacking'.  In my own defense, most all of the larger chores have to get crammed into two days.  Ideally, the weather cooperates and a lot gets done.  Ideally.  This weekend, I was only able to work outside on Sunday.  And, while lots DID get done, I feel cheated.  I did get the goats' stall pretty much cleaned out (it was still frozen near the ground) and all the raked out goodness wheelbarrowed to the new compost pile.  And I did get started on cleaning up the spent hay and manure in the sheep/llama pen.  That is, until the local "Days of our Lives" drama unfolded on the road in front of me.  In a nutshell, husband was walking down road with little toolbox.  Red car carrying wife came zooming up beside him.  Screech-fest ensued at very high volume and pitch, including lots of four-letter words, squealing of tires, physical combat, throwing of tools, and heartbreaking pleas from child in car.  Police were called on wife by husband and then there were two cop cars across from the house for a half hour.  Poor Apria was quite alarmed by all the screeching and hummed like mad.  The sheep clumped in a little group as far away from the drama as possible.  I continued to shovel shineola.  There sure are some miserable people out in the world.

Because of all the hubub and my not wanting to be pulled into the drama, I didn't get as much hay/manure moved as I had hoped.  This coming weekend will be the polar opposite - my parents are coming to visit, so very little work will get done.  I have a couple of things I can squeeze in during the mornings before work, but I will have to just relax and look a few weekends ahead.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Musings.

So many times, I start out with a small, innocuous thought and, before I know it, it's got my brain in a full Nelson.  It's sort of like the Onion Conundrum - all those layers.  But an onion has nice, simple layers.  These small, gnarly thought beginnings remind me of a big wad of poultry netting - that plastic kind.  I say, if you want some villain to confess his sins, wrap him tightly in hundreds of layers of poultry netting and leave him to his own devices.  He'll be singing like a lark in no time.

The latest rendition started thusly - I was dropping off paperwork for the formation of a LLC at the Secretary of State's office.  I was the only person at the desk and there were - within eye-shot - easily 15 people shlubbing around, dressed in jeans and t-shirts.  After about 5 minutes, the woman closest to me must have felt the laser beams of my eyes and finally, sighing heavily, came to help me.  They take the forms, hand them off to someone else, who then comes back and either passes or fails your paperwork.  If you pass, they take your money and off you go.  I passed.  Riding down in the elevator, I wondered why it is that there are SO many employees in this one department when there is so little for them to do.  What if they condensed the workforce to half?  But, then, that would be another half on unemployment.  How did the department get so over-peopled in the first place?  And would it ever stop?  But it won't stop if there continue to be millions of new people in the world every year, people who will need jobs.  Is there a finite amount of money in the world?  I know there is a finite and shrinking amount of water in the world.  And so it goes.  It's like trying to envision the Universe.  It makes my head hurt and there are no perfect answers.

This past Monday evening, I had the opportunity to have dinner with a Swedish atheist and a well-read Methodist.  It was a very rousing dinner - what with the three tiny meatballs and a small salad, washed down with almost three bottles of a very nice white wine.  The topic was religion.  Now this is a subject that I avoid discussing at all costs because I have no intention of offending anyone.  But this was one of those rare occasions where the participants were more interested in the reasoning behind the emotions.  They were not offended.  They were interested.  It was fun!  It was also a little fuzzy in the morning.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meet Reggie, my Humidifer.

My office building was built in the 70s and the internal workings are abysmal.  Once the heat goes on, it stays on - no matter that we are having no winter this year.  It's hot and dry.  When I come out of the building at night, I feel like a goldfish that's been oxygen deprived.

I considered buying a humidifier to make my little space bearable and, instead, got Reggie.  I look at it the same way as I view my lawn.  I can't abide waste.  I am covering my lawn with raised beds, and my humidifier is a Betta.

Other than my guppies when I was a kid, I have had no fish experience.  I did have a hermit crab, but the only thing he had in common with fish was his aquarium.  I have spent the past week and a half getting ready for him - tiny Betta tank (check); gravel (check); pump/filter (check); thermometer (check); heater (check); plants (check); fish net (check); water conditioner (check); food (check); fish (check).  It rather took on a life of its own.  I even bought him a little resting leaf, so he can lounge just beneath the surface of the water and take little sips of air.  Cute!  How many humidifiers offer a little Zen with their moisture?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Assembly Required.

After waiting weeks for my Forgotten Ways Farm handmade, beautiful drying rack (a birthday present from me to me), it finally arrived.  In an alarmingly small box.  I dragged it inside and then ignored it for a few days out of sheer terror.  I went back to their website and, sure enough, it said "Assembly required".  A truer description would have been: "Complete assembly required - we'll send you the plans, you cut out your own pieces and it will be just as 'easy', but cheaper and faster!"  I had to clear out my dining area for enough space to put it together.  (The rare sunny day made picture quality a bit dicey.)

It was not as bad as all of that, but it was difficult to assemble because the holes were not of a consistent diameter.  So some dowels fit well, while most did not.  As an aside, there is a note that, besides a drill and screwdriver, you might need a hammer and a white candle for 'tight' dowels.  Tight is not the word.  And, yes, that is blood.  Let's never accuse me of not putting everything I have - blood included - into my efforts.

Almost done.

I am not totally mechanically-challenged, so I knew that to pound a dowel with a hammer into a very tight hole would cause one to run the risk of splitting something.  That's why I used a rubber mallet (I have many tools) and used restraint.  Even so, I ended up with a split end.  And we are not talking bad hair days here.

The end product was a very sturdy, large drying rack.  They were very responsive to my emails and are sending a replacement leg for the one that split.  They have handed off the production to another homesteading family so that they can follow their new dream (which, I believe, involves film-making) and said that the new family was assembling a video on YouTube.  That will be helpful, since the directions sent with my rack included only black and white photos seemingly taken from high above.  They were very difficult to follow.

All done but screwing
on the chains.
Pros:  High quality materials; included drill bit of the size required; nicely packaged; good design; responsive customer service; purchase supports off-grid, homesteading family.

Cons:  Took six weeks to arrive; complete assembly needed; need many tools; takes quite a while to assemble and involves lining up, pounding, drilling and screwing; instructions unclear (photographs); risk of wood splitting.

Of course, two weeks after I ordered it, I found a beautiful, old, handmade large drying rack in an estate sale for just under what I paid for the new one.  And it would not have required blood, sweat and tears...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Musings.

Over the six years I've lived in my house and made the Great Trek West by Southwest every morning, Monday through Friday, I have done all kinds of things to make the commute less mind-numbing.  With varying results.  I have listened to the radio.  But, I can't abide commercial radio, as I have developed an instant hive-breakout  as soon as I hear a political or car ad.  So, that leaves our two Public stations.  One is classical and it is very nice - soothing, uplifting, mind-numbing.  The other is...GAWD AWFUL.  I would love to go on about it, but my blood pressure soars. Let's just say that it is ruled-over by a nasal-ly, pompous little jerk with visions of grandeur and limited vision of any other kind.

Breathe, breathe.

I have listened to books on CD - most of which were thoroughly enjoyable.  Some of which were horrid.  What, may I ask the producers of such entertainment, were you thinking when you had the male voice go into a falsetto for the woman's part????  So I spend most of my journey either talking to myself (on the over-the-mountain part where no one can see me) or listening to music CDs.  If there is no music to distract me, I think about the beautiful landscape through which I am driving (unless it's foggy snow, then I am clutching the wheel and hoping I make it down the mountain alive); I wonder what's become of the elderly lady with the pitch-black dyed beehive hairdo that lives in the neat little trailer with the white deer sculptures.  I had almost convinced myself that I should stop and introduce myself (and check on her, nosy Nellie that I am) when I passed one day and there were people cutting the grass and neatening things up - people that looked like relative-types.  I felt better.  And I spend a lot of time wondering why people throw trash out of their car windows.  It has never, ever crossed my mind to toss out anything (other than the occasional apple core - I think of myself as Sweezie Appleseed) out of my car window. 

Then there's the music.  Along with names, smells and electric shocks, music stirs up deep memories.  (Just kidding about the electric shocks....but I am sure it would stir me up greatly)  Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" takes me straight back to South Dakota in the summer of 1969.  Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze" finds me sitting in my dorm room in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.  Any of the early Beatles' songs has me prone in our living room, giant headphones on my head, tethered silently to the hifi set.  Classical music tends to make me wistful for Blossom Music Center in Cleveland.  Bagpipes make me cry - instantly - and stir up all kinds of genetic stuff. 

What sets off your metronome?

Friday, February 17, 2012


Yes, that's right.  On February 17th of 2012, at 4:30 in the morning, it is 35 degrees.  And raining.  Once more, I will have to haul my rain gear out of the closet, instead of snow gear.  It's downright weird and unnatural, I tell you.

One would think that, after six years of living on my side of the mountain, I would remember that rain on the west side/work side doesn't mean rain on the homestead side.  But noooooooo.  Another white knuckle ride over and down the mountain last night, as rain quickly turned to snow and fog.  By the time I pried my fingers off the steering wheel, I was in for the night.  Except for all the feeding, of course.

We got an entire inch of snow - which is now disappearing fast as the temperatures rise and the rain falls.  To all the snow enthusiasts out there, I apologize on behalf of The Snow Wolf and myself.  I know it's all our fault.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Someone to watch over me.

Kramer has taken advantage of the fact that I cleared the mantle.  He is up there with "Green Nana", a wonderful glazed ceramic sculpture that I bought at an art exhibit when I first moved up here from The City.  Kramer does NOT watch over me.  He is on Mouse Watch.  Watching over me is Scrappy's job and he takes it very seriously.  He follows me from room to room (other than the few "no-pet zones") and from window to window.  Sometimes, just for the heck of it, I will sneak to the front of the house and burst in the front door to surprise them.  It's becoming obvious that I need a little more of a social life....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Now, THIS is a Junk Drawer!

I cannot believe I am actually proud of it.  Well, I am not actually proud of it -- it's more that I am so totally amazed at the pure Junkiness of it that it causes great wonder in me.  Wonder, as in, "I wonder why I allowed this drawer to develop into the total nightmare that it is."  (Now is a good time to leave the room, Sylvia...)

I double-dog-dare you to biggify!
Of course, I couldn't leave it that way.  After four cups of tea...

Note the two tubes of dog/cat toothpaste.  As if.

I still need to add some dividers so that it doesn't go all in a jumble again.  But that means that I have to sort through my craft closet.  That will take more than tea.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Valentine's Day Didn't Happen.

After giving the dogs and cats a major pep talk last night about how nice it would be if they considered celebrating VDay by serving me breakfast in bed, I tottled off to bed.

Then I woke up in a cold sweat at 3 AM thinking....OMG, what if they DO try to serve me breakfast in bed?!?  (Visions of mouse parts danced in my head.)  So I got up extra early and served THEM breakfast in bed.  Out of self-defense.

The end.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Musings.

My, my, my.  What a long and winding road my life has taken!  This week I have been doing a lot of rather heavy-duty musing.  This always happens when my environment gets quiet.  As quiet as it can get with two dogs and three cats.  And dump trucks.  And cows next door.  I was sitting at the dining room table watching the Joneses vacuum up the bird feeder, and started thinking about how this all began.  This Homesteading Thing.

Was it the Easter chick, Peeper?  Was it the lure of the pearl-capped snaps on my Western cowgirl shirt?  My first riding lesson?  I think, all these things.  My formative years were spent in a housing development that had been carved out of a grid that had been carved out of farm land.  One long road with many perpendicular streets jutting out of its western side.  All of the streets dead-ended into a wooded area.  To the north was Lake Erie, and to the south was a large expanse of farmland, bisected by a railroad track.  There was an elderly couple who were clinging onto their little patch of farm - I was drawn to them like a moth to flames.  It was to Mrs. Youngblood that I brought my exiled Easter pullet.   She joined the Youngblood's flock and I was introduced to chickens and the magic of a freshly laid egg (that you had to hunt for!)  She had a huge flower garden, as well as a large vegetable garden.  Mr. Youngblood plowed with an ancient horse named Old Tom, who was a big old draft horse.  Every once in a while he would let me sit on top of Old Tom while he plowed.  It was the only time in my life I could do the Chinese splits naturally.  Mrs. Youngblood would make homemade donuts and we would sit on the porch steps and she would name all the birds that flitted about her flowers.  I wanted to live there.  Unfortunately, as will happen, they got older and older, their barn caught fire and Mr. Youngblood was almost trapped in it.  Their children intervened, carted them off to a retirement home, sold all the antiques and then the house and land.  I remember hiding behind the chicken coop watching as their belongings were packed up.  I threw rocks at their son.  I was a terrible aim and had skinny arms, so no damage was done.  I was just that mad.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What NOT to wear on a cattle drive.

Notice the "correct" footwear behind them.

Okay, "cattle drive" may be a little over the top for what I did yesterday.  I met Marianne's new Scottish Highland cows (mother and heifer calf).  The calf had managed to get through the electric fence and was outside, while Mama remained inside, so we decided to try and move the calf down the hill and through the gate to join her mother.  Since I had not intended to do herding, I was sporting my favorite Dansko clogs.  It was a little wobbly down that hill, I'll tell you - not to mention trying to keep them on my feet in the deep muck at the bottom.  But, we managed to scoot her in and all is well.  The next time I visit, I will be bringing boots and camera.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


It just goes to show you - no good deed goes unpunished...  For my first foray into R.A.O.K.s, last night on my way home, I stopped to let someone pull out in front of me during a looooong line of endless traffic.  I was rewarded by the person behind me flashing their brights on and off and laying on the horn.  The line in front of me was JUST beginning to move, the car I was letting out was not going in my direction (as in, in front of me and Mr.Undiesinatwist behind me), but in the opposite direction.  I flashed the guy behind me .... the peace sign (that's what you thought I was going to say, right?) and went on my merry way.  

Today, I went out of my office building armed with quarters destined for a soon-to-be-lapsed parking meter or two.  Great idea, right?  Except I was unaware that the city had just started changing over the old meters into ones where you pay at a central point, get a slip of paper and put it inside your car, displayed on your dash.  Hmm.  Do I do a little BandE (breaking and entering)?  I  So I ended up walking four blocks trying to find regular parking meters.  I found one that was close to expiring, so I put in my quarters and high-tailed it back to the office before they docked me!  Time for Plan B in my continuing battle to inflict kindness on others.  Whatever that may be. 

I am consoling myself with my latest chopped salad - chopped raw kale, spicy sprouts (my winter crop), dried cranberries and chopped peanuts.  Yum!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I have had one or more cats for years.  (I once had seven cats.  Inside.  It was insane ... and so was I.)  While what I really wanted was a dog -- don't tell the cats-- I lived in apartments most of my life and a cat was all I was allowed.  I have never regretted sharing my life (and furniture) with cats.  Although, truth be told,  I did rather resent some of their attentions to my personal property.  I have grown to love their complex personalities; their ability to live without the faintest whiff of guilt.  I like to think my cats and I co-exist on equal terms.  But I would be lying.  I am their slave.

(Once)Slim (l) and Cookie the Fang-less (r)
I was surprised when I looked at this picture that it was difficult to tell (Once)Slim and Cookie apart.  Cookie will be 12 this year (born on March 31, 2000) and (Once)Slimmie is approaching 2 (DOB not quite as pinpointed).  I was also surprised to realize that all three of my cats are a) male and b) black and white.  I have been trying to get a close-up of camera-shy-Kramer's face.  He resembles a small, daffy, adorable vampire cat.  If you stare at him long enough, he slowly opens his mouth, baring his fangs, and squeaks.  And if you hug him tightly, he resembles a squeaky toy.  Ask me how I know...

I pinched this from somewhere - I get hysterical every time I look at it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Well, I'll be!

Ghosts of Grannies Past....

Raffle prize.
The passion for aprons lives on!  After all the hoo-ha about the apron giveaway, my apron collection, and the infamous Duct Tape Apron (a 'heads up' for those of you contemplating such a project -- no??? -- air temperature affects the elasticity of electrical tape trim.  It shrinks up something fierce when it's cold!), Sylvie decided it would be a perfect winter event at our little local library.  So we spent a couple of hours stringing clothes line in our pretty library and pinning up the aprons.  Sylvie had the brainstorm to pick up a dressmaker's model (as a decorating piece), on which we tied an apron to be raffled off (model and all) as part of the exhibit.  A separate line is available for people to bring and show off their own aprons.  There is also a journal for apron memories, the Home Economics (I'm sure it's a different title now - Life Sciences?) teacher from the local high school will be giving an apron-making class, and the event will end with a taste-off of favorite desserts.  Anyone can come, taste and vote for their favorite.  That should perk up February!

In a small community with limited resources, the library serves as so much more than a lender of books.  Along with the local post office, it should be a place where the community gathers.  We all know how important it is to find out the REAL story behind the story. Our library is a lovely building and has a lot of untapped potential.  Hopefully, this event will be the beginning of many more like it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Musings.

There is nothing that takes the steam out of your girdle faster than a friendly, professional customer service representative.  I recently had a persistent problem online with a major banking company and called the dreaded 800 number.  This led me through a maze of indecipherable, frustrating loops, until I just kept punching "0" until an actual person answered - after about 7 minutes of Muzak.  She, of course, couldn't help me but transferred me before I could holler "Stop!" and I was on another 7 minutes of aitchdoublehockeysticks until Lateesha answered the phone.  She was funny, sympathetic, spoke English, solved the problem without putting me on hold.  I could have hugged her.  Instead I sent a glowing comment into their Customer Comment ethersphere and hoped someone would receive it and give her a raise.  I should have asked for her extension number...

Why are random acts of kindness never in the news?  Has good news become such a boring subject?  Or is it that there is so little news that is good?  I know I have gone on at length about how wonderful the blogosphere is - how I have made virtual friends who, even though the distance is great, are there for me when I need them; sometime just sensing that I need support or a friendly, open ear and heart.  I was recently the recipient of a random pay-it-forward gift and its timing was so perfect, that I look upon it as a random act of kindness.  A thoughtful gift, something small, sent to brighten my day.

I am therefore declaring Thursdays as my Random Act of Kindness Day.  I believe that, once a week, I can do something kind - even if it kills me (KIDDING).  Really - it's easy.  Just let someone in front of you in traffic.  Carry a package.  Write a note.  Shovel a walk.  Open a door.  Knit a headband.   This is going to be fun.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Keeping Frugal.

I work off the farm five days a week.  My job entails a long commute, so I have worked out a seven-hour workday with no break for lunch, as I don't want to leave the dogs for longer than 9 hours.  This has worked out well over the years - I start at 10:30 and leave at 5:30.  I miss all of the morning rush hour and most of the evening's rush hour.  But this also means that I have to bring my lunch every day.  From many aspects, this is not a burden - it's inexpensive and way more healthy than what I have access to in the nearby eateries.  This may be New York, but it's not New York, if you catch my drift.  The only vegetarian/health food restaurant closed years ago.  I almost cried - it was the best food EVER.  The service tended to be a little loosely moored to the ground, but the food - it was wonderful.

My favorite lunch combination is a cup of soup and a salad.  I have been known to put everything but the kitchen sink in my salads - I haven't met an ingredient that doesn't get along with lettuce!  Lately, I've taken to making a large container of chopped salad, which I portion out over the week.  I keep homemade salad dressing in the office refrigerator so, with a piece of fruit, I have a well-balanced and filling meal.

Notice the reused, recycled 'til it falls apart container?  It's got a great snap-on lid.

My current salad consists of:  chopped Romaine lettuce, chopped carrots, chopped raw broccoli, and failed chickpea burger.  The recipe sounded fabulous, but the end result was less than spectacular.  It tasted great, but dissolved into a pile of crumbles.  Which were perfect for my salad!  My favorite salad dressing is from my friend, Sylvia:  1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar, clove of minced garlic, dry mustard to taste, 1 cup canola oil.  That's it - easy-peasy.  I keep it in old peanut butter jars - one at home, one in the office.  Another plus for chopped salads?  They are easier to eat = no splotches on my work clothes!  Usually.

We occasionally celebrate Friday and order Asian food - although I am not a big fan of Americanized Chinese/Japanese food.  It tends to be huge amounts of bland stuff.  The huge amounts can add up in my favor, though.  No one in the office finishes their meal and - after 6 years of training them right - they hand over their leftovers for the chickens!

P.S.  The winner of Book 5 did not contact me, so I will be re-drawing a winner.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

By Popular Demand...

She's a LOT taller than Hoosier~

Ooooh, look at that face!

Although her fleece is a mess right now, it's some beautiful stuff.

One of my favorite faces - Granny Flora.
Chickie L.O.V.E.S. his pine boughs.

I am ALWAYS under surveillance.