Monday, November 29, 2010


Growing up in a family where both parents had been in the Navy, we have a lot of nautical terms woven into our vernacular.  "Red sky in morning, Sailor take warning; Red sky at night, Sailor's delight", is one that's stuck.  So is hollering, "ON DECK!!" when you drop something.  This was the sky this morning - so, no matter what the weatherman says, I'm expecting weather.  Hopefully, not really, really bad weather.  While I can brave through snowstorms, rain, thunder and lightning, I am a pure fraidy cat when it comes to wind.  I cannot sleep through it.  I lie in bed listening so hard my ears hurt for sounds of roofs being ripped off, sheep flying, rabbits calling for their mommy (that would be I).  About 99.9 percent of the time, when I look outside in the morning, the worst thing that has happened are a few branches down and a tarp halfway off.  But it still gives me the willies.

Thanksgiving?  I did not pull out my soapbox, have my say or even hint around.  There was too much hubbub which included my great-nephew who took issue with just about everything that went on.  He's a cutie, but nearing that terrible-twos phase.  It makes my two kittens seem so quiet and tame.  I don't know how older parents can take it.  My holiday can be summed up thusly:  ate too much, drank too little, drove too much, slept too little.  A nice balance, more or less. 

Happy Birthday!

To Slim!  He turned one year old yesterday.  He also discovered the hearth.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Going and Coming.

Looking up the street at the state capitol.
Across the street from where I work.

I thought it would be interesting to share where I go every week day morning at 10:30, and what I come back to.  It is also interesting to contemplate what those two words mean to me:  Going.  Coming.  Going has a cold feeling - like going away. 

Wetlands behind my property.

 Coming always sounds warm and inviting, like coming home.  I am a real solid dyed-in-the-wool homebody, so going is always difficult and coming home is glorious.  Coming home is also accentuated by some beautiful views (when the days are longer than 2 hours).  The views are very lovely on the going part of my daily commute - but, by being part of the going, they are not quite as lovely as they could be.

End of the road.

If dinner isn't coming soon, I'm going to find
someone who loves me more.  As if.
Last Wednesday, I got to enjoy the overnight company of friends whom I love - and got to revel a bit in Deerhounds, my favorite 'breed' (besides Dachshunds - their polar opposite).  I had to watch how much I gushed, as Scrappy is very sensitive to which way the love meter is turning.  They brought me their last skein of Flora's yarn, which has instilled in me a need to skirt her fleece and get it spun.  They also brought me some of their wonderful fingering weight Icelandic/Alpaca blend.  There is no such thing as too much yarn!!!  A looong winter stretches before me.  Yah!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A great start to my day.

What's left.  It's not nearly enough.

Not only is the sun shining, but I am now the most popular girl at the barn!  And I owe it all to....Mama Pea!  After rising at my usual 4:30, I decided to tackle her Apple Squares.  And, yes, the dough is tricky.  But it is SO worth the effort.  I am also happy to report that my last stash of Marianne's apples are faring well in my high-tech root cellar.  A plastic crate covered with a thick towel and topped with a plastic garbage bag.  This was the first time in years of Sunday baking to the barn that they didn't modestly wait until I had left to dig in.  The farmer grabbed the fork and said that he wasn't risking there being anything left after he did the milking.  It got moans and raves.  I said I owed it all to my baking muse, Mama Pea.  He said he could kiss her.  I said that Papa Pea might take umbrage to that.  Instead, he sends his high regards.  I have hidden the remainder in the cooled oven - but I can still hear its siren song....

The colors are even better  in person - so gorgeous!

And another Mama Pea surprise - my nice postman left a package on Miguel's front seat with yesterday's mail (only discovered this morning).  There is a baby in New York that is going to be wrapped in the most beautiful quilt!  I almost wished I had a baby myself.  Then I remembered my two kittens and felt that was quite enough youth in my life.  Thank you and a warm hug to my friend in Minnesota!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Day in the Life.

Suzy in Chiot's Run posted a day in her life and dared - well, suggested - that her readers do the same.  I thought that a Sunday would be a more interesting day.  Little did I know...

4:30 a.m.  I am awake and contemplating lying in until 5:00 a.m.  Much clickety-clacking of dog toenails on the floor outside of my closed bedroom door.  I get up.

4:45-5:45 a.m.  I knit, trying to complete a Christmas gift and the Baby Surprise Jacket for Els' imminent grandchild.  I listen to our local NPR station in the mornings.  I am sitting with Kramer on my lap (he's staying), Tippet snugged next to me on one side, Cookie on the other and Scrappy at the far end of the couch, wrapped up in his fleece blanket.  The temperature outside is 30 degrees/inside 58 degrees.

5:45-6:00 a.m.  I put a load of laundry in the washing machine and turn on the dryer - which I forgot to do last night, even though there was a large note taped to the kitchen cabinet to remind me.

6:00-7:30 a.m. I mix up Mama Pea's Cranberry Almond Cake for the guys at the farm and put it in the oven.  I put it in the oven and feed the dogs (kibble and heated leftover won ton soup with chopped hard boiled duck eggs).  I feed the cats, clean the litter boxes, move the laundry around, change into my outdoor clothes.

7:30-8:30 a.m.  I take the dogs on a short walk because I don't want to burn the cake.  We hear lots of gun fire -- deer hunting season already?  There's a lot of interesting scat on the side of the road.  The dogs notice ALL of it.  I get back in time to rescue the cake.  I put it to cool in the laundry room - the only cat/dog safe space in the house.

8:30 a.m. - I finish the cake, slice up half of it and drive it up to the farm - stick my head in to say hello and stop on the road to see Jasmine, who is looking divine.  The laundry is hung on the line to dry.

9:00 - 11:00 a.m. - I scrape out a large pumpkin, cut it and put it in the oven to roast.  The seeds and goop go out to the sheep, then I give them their hay.  They are still p**ed off that they're on a diet.  I start on the chickens and rabbits, when my dairy farmer neighbor pulls up the driveway and yells "We got a situation here, can you help?"  His bull and four young heifers broke out of the fencing and are down my road terrifying the weekenders.  The entire farmer family (all in pickups) show up and disburse.  I am stationed at the intersection armed with....a stick.  I am thinking I should have a bazooka.  The ensuing chaos resulted in me *running* about a half-mile.  This is something I have only done a handful of times in my life, as I regard running as unnatural.  Much sweat, muck, and hollering later, the recalcitrant are back in a fenced-in area.  May I add here that Jasmine and her sister, Rosebud, have NEVER breached the fence.  Jersey girls are the best.

11:00-12:45 p.m. - I return home and finish the poultry/rabbit chores, then roll up my sleeves and start to erect the rabbits' winter housing.  I spend a lot of time calling KW Cages many bad names.  The urine guards are NOT the same as the instructions say they are, and interfere with putting in feeders.  In order to install the feeders, I have to get out the bolt cutters and cut holes in the cages.  What the heck?  I get them put together anyway and take a 15 min. break for a glass of Marianne's delicious apple cider!

Rabbits in their new, snug digs.

1:00-5:00 p.m. - My neighbor Vic arrives to help me put a tarp on the greenhouse structure over my outdoor fuel tank.  He also remembers to bring a handle for the hayport door.  His memory is waay better than mine, and he's waay older.  I continue to tick things off my list -- I am a woman on a mission!  Kay arrives in bunny-grooming garb and an absolutely adorable hat she knit and we (read: Kay) start with clipping nails on Ginger and Chamomile, my chubby non-fiber rabbits.  I quickly take the laundry off the line, then we move to Blue (Mr. Adorable) who parts with a huge amount of beautiful fiber after an intense hour of mostly Kay's work.  I am very good at hovering.  I had taken a great shot of Kay in action, but it was getting dark and it didn't turn out :o(  I doubt if Kay would be willing to go through that again, anytime soon.  Now in the dark, we had all five rabbits with trimmed nails in their new digs, the last two done under the glow of my headlamp.  Kay left for home, and I finished putting up the water bottles with same head lamp.

5:00-9:00 p.m. -  Dogs are fed, Tippet gets her evening snack, dinner is put in the oven, sheep get their hay, I collect my ONE egg from the freeloaders, freeloaders are tucked in for the night.  I pour a nice big glass of wine, put on a Murder She Wrote DVD, and eat dinner.  The other half of the pumpkin is in the oven.  By 8:30 I am ready for bed, only to discover I still have to put the mattress cover on, make the bed and put away the laundry.

9:05 p.m. - The phone rings.  It's my friend from the endless weekend saying they'd like to stay over Wednesday night because they're buying another sheep.  I say yes and go to bed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It's the first Barnevelder egg!  I had expected it to be darker, I will admit, but it is a beautiful egg nonetheless.  And I had expected to find it in their nesting box.  Instead, it was sitting in the muck in their run.  It must have taken the pullet by surprise -- "OMG, what's happening?"  I can't wait to see if there are any other little brown surprises waiting for me IN the nesting boxes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I learned this weekend.

It was such an informative weekend!  Here's what I learned:

1.  I can still entertain while battling a cold (without compromising the health of my guests)
2.  Beef stew in the slow cooker does not take kindly to late dinner guests
3.  Even though I wake up at 4:30 a.m., it is not early enough when you have to make breakfast for said guests and get them out of the door by 7 a.m. AND feed dogs, cats, walk said dogs, feed sheep, chickens, rabbits and ducks, and hit the road before 11 a.m.
4.  My sheep are fat.
5.  Never even mind the lard butt on the llama.
6.  I cannot visit and cook at the same time.
7.  When pressed for time, nothing beats 5 minute ice cream
8.  House guests are captive guinea pigs.
9.  No matter how well-trained your dogs are, they can un-train in a nanosecond when it comes to food.
10.  Kittens make A LOT of noise (okay - I already knew this)
11.  I am tied with Job in the patience department
12.  I am not lonely when by myself.  There is n.o.t.h.i.n.g. like the sound of nothing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

That's enough about me. Now let's talk about me.

I am answering Chicken Mama's challenge - although, I am embarrassed to admit I have no idea what a "meme" is - and list 25 things about me.  Let's see if I can do this in a stream-of-consciousness way and not in my usual over-edited way (but with spellcheck...)

1.  I prefer animals to people.
2.  I hated school after grade school but I love learning.  Go figure.
3.  I can type 105 wpm pretty much without error.
4.  I wear socks to bed as soon as the temperature drops below 50.
5.  Sometimes I forget to comb my hair all day.  Even when I go into work.
6.  I have long conversations with my dogs, cats, sheep, llamas.  But not with my chickens or rabbits.  Bias?
7.  All I wanted to be when I was growing up was a sculptor/cowgirl.
8.  I have a Fine Arts background and work as a legal researcher.
9.  I still cry every time I think of the time I had to have my parents' dog, Jetta, put to sleep.  Years ago.
10.  I can't sleep past 4:30 a.m. even on weekends - if I do, I get cranky.
11.  I would love to live in the middle of nowhere, by myself, with my furred friends, with no one else about, being totally self-sufficient and off-grid.
12.  I do most of my baking between 4:30 - 6:30 a.m.
13.  I am addicted to a certain kind of potato chip.
14.  I would rather drink Champagne than water - even for breakfast, if I could get away with it.
15.  I cheated on a math test in 9th grade.
16.  I still hold a grudge against my high school speech teacher, Mr. Higgie, for not telling me I was pronouncing "Freud" wrong (read: Freeooood), making me the laughing stock of my class.
17.  I was an alto in church choir and sing at every opportunity - especially to the dogs - and especially songs from musicals.
18.  I listen to classical music if I'm stuck in traffic because it's the only thing that quenches my road rage.
19.  I drive too fast.
20.  I would like to learn how to play a mandolin before I'm too old to function.
21.  I don't have any friends from where I grew up - most of my friends were made in the last 15 years of my life.  And they are the best friends anyone can have.
22.  I can't stick to a diet or a budget.
23.  I close my eyes or leave the room during scary bits of movies.
24.  I have watched the Wizard of Oz over 50 times.
25.  I know all the words to "The Jabberwocky".

Anyone else?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Becoming attached to inanimate objects.

Yesterday, I dropped off my 8 year old car for some body work.  I am tooling around in my farmer-neighbor's elderly father's late wife's car.  How's that for a sentence!  It has been sitting outside pretty much full time since I moved in - almost 5 years.  It is a little creaky because it doesn't get used.  I got advice like, "don't worry about all the lights on the dash - don't mean a thing."  Lights that spell out, "anti lock", and "check engine NOW", and my personal bugaboo, "low tire".  Plus some other dire warnings that are Greek to me.

It dawned on me, as I crept up the mountain to a chorus of odd noises, how completely attached to my car I am.  It fits me like a glove.  First, it's a manual transmission - my transmission of choice, since learning to drive in Cleveland's lake effect snow.  I find myself flailing about, trying to find the clutch and shift knob.  Then there's the gas mileage.  I will have to say that my 2003 Ford Focus Wagon gets great gas mileage.  Over 30 mpg.  How can you not love that -- especially if you have a long commute. 

But it's even more than the obvious.  It's how the seat feels.  It's all the little quirks - the radio volume knob that, when you initially turn the volume down, makes it get louder.  Then, there's the change in my ashtray.  The dog treats in my center arm rest.  The half-inch of debris on the floor mats.  The floor mats themselves.  The bits of hay hanging like fringe from the back ceiling.  Geez, I could go on and on. 

Since the body work is being done as a favor by a neighbor for practically peanuts, I can't call and whine and ask when it will be done.  So I will just have to make the best of it -- I think, confidentially, that this car is thrilled to be out on the road.  What started as a creaky sound is now a nice, satisfied hum.