Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Losing it...

My week has gone:

Keys?  Gone.
Cell phone?  Gone.
Head?  Apparently, not attached.

I managed to completely lose my keys.  Luckily, I had spares, but still....I have misplaced them before, but they are usually found after a thorough search (sprinkled with spicy language) in a jacket pocket, car floor boards, under the hutch, in the laundry hamper.  This time?  Nada.

Last night I arrived home, schlepped some delivered boxes in the house, let the dogs out, and discovered ... no cell phone.  Once again, a thorough search (sprinkled with both spicy and salty language) uncovered .... still no cell phone.  That's not too bad, 'cause I still have my computer and email so in case I am marooned on my desert island of a farmet, I can still be in contact with the world, right?

Not so.  Every time I brought up my email account, the computer froze.

Sigh.  More salty, spicy language.  By now, the dogs were studiously avoiding me.  Even Pepper, which is saying something.

I made a cup of tea (the British really do have something there), sat down with my knitting and managed to ignore the stupid demons (you know, those little voices in your head that dress you down for being such an ignoramus as to have lost both keys AND phone - and then move onto every other stupid thing you've done in your life). 

This morning, I ran a thorough virus scan on the computer (without salty or spicy language) and did not try to open it.  I then tottered into the office where I discovered my phone.  On my desk.

Still looking for my keys.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I was driving over the mountain this morning, when I crested a ridge and was blinded!  Sun!  Holey Mackerel!  I could barely see where I was going, having been reduced to mole-vision by the gloom of the last many weeks.   I groped around for the Beloved Sunglasses and spent the rest of the drive sighing happily, as Vitamin D3 found its way to my inner being.  It made me feel so good, that I only blinked slightly when presented with the total at the pet mart checkout.

Speaking of shopping, the day after Christmas, I pulled on my BGPs (which are looking a bit tattered, I might add), and headed to the closest mall.  I had to get chicken feed, so was going in that general direction.  The reason I was driven to such madness was that I had a gift card for a certain store that was due to expire.  And, being cheap frugal, I was not going to let it go to waste.  I got my 100# of feed, took a deep breath, drove on and circled the mall, looking for a non-packed parking space near the outside entrance.  I was NOT going through the mall.  When I walked in, I almost staggered from the excess in front of me. It hit me that I had not been in a regular clothing/department store for more than 3 years.  All of my clothes and general shopping is done either at thrift stores, online or through the closets of generous friends with great taste (Oh, how I miss you, Sylvie...) 

My goal was to take my $25 gift card and buy a top or two for work.  Oy!  There was an ocean of packed racks everywhere I looked!  Too many colors!  Too much everything!  However, I lucked out and had entered the store right into an area of a designer who had less gaudy stuff.  So I hyperventilated my way around, snatched two sweaters off the first rack I came to and asked a store employee if the sale signs applied to them.  She scanned them and - woot! - 60% off!  I quickly grabbed two more tops and tottered to the checkout.  Along with 40 other women, all of whom had returns.  Oy, OY.  A very attractive young woman from cosmetics sauntered up to our line and offered to check out anyone who was interested.  I was quickly in her perfumey wake and checked out with no problem.  The average price of the four items I bought - before sale - was $49.  After applying my gift card, I only had to pony up $18!  I was so excited.  The lovely young woman gushed, "Oh, you saved ONE HUNDRED AND TWELVE DOLLARS!"  To which I replied, "Can you imagine the markup on this stuff?"  She looked at me disapprovingly.  I was clearly not appreciating what Macy's had done for me.  The entire experience took less than 15 minutes, even though it felt like hours and, although I wanted to get a couple pair of knee socks (mine resemble Swiss cheese), the thought of another checkout line did me in.  I fled with my purchases. 

I still need knee socks (yes, I know I knit, but I need these socks THIS winter...) and my BGPs need replacing.  After all of those warnings about the state of your underwear, vis a vis an accident, my mother would be SHOCKED of the sight of mine.  However, I do believe I will be ordering them online.  I don't think my nerves could take another foray into Excessville.  It will take me at least three years to get over it.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ho, ho, heehaw.

Well, that was fast and furious.  Oddly enough, the build-up and follow-through were pretty busy, while the actual event (Christmas) was exceptionally quiet.  One thing I have realized with having five days off - when I retire, the dogs are going to need hobbies that don't involve second-to-second contact with me.

I have apparently caught the Mama Pea organizing bug, as I was a whirlwind of sorting, piling, cleaning and resorting, piling and more cleaning yesterday.  However, very UNLIKE her, I have little focus and can work furiously and diligently only for a half day before I am inexorably drawn to fifteen other things that really don't need doing.  This new year, I am fully embracing the weirdness of me and...whatever.

My youngest DS got this great shot of the granddogs on Christmas.  You will note the total focus - it is, after all, food.  Also notice the tiny bow on top of Pepper's noggin.  I tell you, you could graft a beaver on his head and he wouldn't care - as long as there was food involved.

"Princess" Pepper, Scrappy and Lovey
After vowing never to bake again (at least for a week), I baked a batch of GF, dairy-free gingerbread cookies to take to my neighbor's annual holiday party.  One of our mutual neighbors was bringing her daughter, who was allergic or hyper sensitive to everything.  Unfortunately, they did not come, so now I have enough GF/DF cookies to last the year.  Oh, darn....not.  They are pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, in my cleaning frenzy, I went to step down off my step stool and missed the last step.  This was no great travesty, as it wasn't far to the floor.  But I hit the floor hard enough to send a shock wave up my spine, into my jaw and it cracked an ancient filling.  A perfect end to an imperfect year.  I had been meaning to call to make an appointment with my old dentist - from about six years ago - so this morning I called, whined into the phone and they were very nice.  They would squeeze me in tomorrow afternoon.  She called back to say that someone had cancelled and I could come in even earlier.  Groovy!  Then she called again later this morning and informed me, in an incredibly icy tone, that they had discovered that I had sent a copy of my records to a new dentist back in 200-whatever, and it was their policy to never let me darken their doorstep again.  Wha?  Those are my words, but it is a very close translation to their policy.  Hoot!  I guess there is a dark side to a small, family practice.  A sort of, "Well, Missy, you've made your bed now go lie in it!"  So I am back to waiting for the entire dental staff of my present mega-practice to all come back from their two week vacation to squeeze me in in about a month - and try to jam a very expensive fix down my gullet, you should pardon the expression.  I loathe dentists.

Are you making your list of New Year's Resolutions?  I like to do it, if for nothing more than a mental exercise.  I am unlikely to develop many (if any) good habits, as the only habits I seem to glom onto are baaaad... :)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best wishes to you all on this Holiday Season!

May we practice more peace than war; more love than harm; more compassion than inhumanity.  Sending out hugs to you all...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Very High SQUEE Rating.

Every year, my darling girl Santa J in PA remembers all of us.  And I mean ALL of us - right down to the flock of chickens.  I had pulled into the carport/garage after a particularly grueling nighttime commute this last week, to find a large package perched on the wheelbarrow.  (Aside here - my postman is the bees' knees.)  I thought it was a missing package from Amazon that had become one of those shipping horror stories.  But it wasn't!  It was from Santa J!  And it weighed a ton.

I staggered into the house, clutching it in my arms, where it was met with a great deal of enthusiasm  - but outies first.  After gathering eggs and tossing hay at the sheep/llama, I was free to come in and open it.  I tell you, I am about 6 years old when I open her packages...and there are three pair of bright little eyes on me during each and every move.

I will have to describe most of the contents, as they have already been put to use, but there was one particular parcel that was just for me:

The Real Thing (a little darkish)

And the Almost As Good as the Real Thing

SQUEE!!!!!  Honestly, I can hardly wait to get into it.

Also from Santa J were:  Bully Strips for the dogs; Greenie tuna treats for the cats; a protein block for the chickens; a bag of butterscotch horse/llama/sheep treats!  I mean, what else is there?

We love our Santa J.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Well-Oiled Machine.

This post could also be titled, "The Importance of Being Flexible".  As I toddled about on Saturday, doing my usual chores as well as a stop at the vet for Scrappy's booster vaccine shot and to pick up a sandwich tray for my favorite guys at my mechanic's, I was unaware that there was drama unfolding at my parents' house.  This was because my dad is now not able to function well in emergencies and was unable to call me.  As I sat in the Midas waiting room having them look at my front tires, and having a delightful chat with my DS Melanie who I hadn't seen in ages, I wasn't in any rush.  When Scrappy and I walked up the path to their back door, my dad met us and informed me that Mom 'had fallen' and wouldn't let him call an ambulance.  I sprinted the rest of the way. 

Long story short, she had tripped over a 3 gal. water jug on the kitchen floor, and went down squarely on her face.  And there she lay for over an hour, waiting for me to arrive.  Seeing as my mother is at least as stubborn as I am - if not more, as she is, after all, the source of the stubborn gene - no ambulance was called and we managed to get her down into the car with Dad.  And Scrappy.  They are very lucky to be so close to a very good hospital with an excellent emergency room staff.  She got right in and CAT scans were ordered.  Miraculously, nothing was broken, but she now sported two shiners and her sighted eye was swollen shut, rendering her blind. 

They wouldn't release her unless someone (other than Dad) was with her 24 hours, so I promised and we went back to their place.  I got them settled, then raced home, did chores and threw the other two dogs in the car.  My DS from New Hampshire came over on Sunday and will be staying until Wednesday, when my youngest sister from NYC will be coming up.  Every time there is an emergency, I am reminded that my mother and father had planned on having five boys.  They quit after three girls.  I feel quite smug that the Universe knew better....

It's important, when you have elderly parents, to have a plan.  Our plan was pretty loosey-goosey, as we have never sat down, all three of us (with or without parents) to discuss what-ifs.  It is also a testimony to the strength and love of our small family that we can spring into action without a thought - and that we love our parents mightily - and we love each other just as much.  I am so happy to have my sisters and parents in my life.  I am a mightily lucky duck.

P.S.  I am also mightily lucky to have my three great dogs - who not only were real troopers, but entertained and calmed the three of us, Mom, Dad and me.

P.P.S.  The moral of this post, if there is one, is to have a plan!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wrestling with the Spirit of Christmas.

I am not a lover of holidays.  It may be because I am so turned-off by the tsunami of Christmas ads, bad music, non-stop commercialism that starts earlier every year.  It may be because I am older and crankier.  It may be because all the hoo-ha exacerbates the fact that I am solo.  There is also the fact that my family is small, there are no little tots over which to squeak and squeal (I do that over my dogs.  In private.) and we are never able to all get together at the same time.  I have, over the years, begun a campaign to stave off the dark mantle that starts to settle over me mid-November.  I put on holiday music and change the lyrics to entertain the dogs.  I find something to bake.  I focus on the multitude of good things in my life.  This year I am tempted to dress the dogs up in embarrassingly silly get-ups and take their pictures.  I may put reindeer antlers on my cow, Jasmine.  She is very good-natured, as long as I have a cow treat.

One of the good things about a small family with no tots in attendance, is that we can skip the gifts.  Not only ease my financial burden, but it puts all ones focus on the gathering, the food, the music, the being there.  It is way more special.  Plus, it doesn't add stuff to my pile of stuff.  **I swear I will clean out my craft/office/dog/cat/room this winter**

Any gifting I do is homemade.  Whether the recipients want it or not...however, I doubt if the Barn Crew will turn down cinnamon rolls, nor will the postman, nor will the transfer station guys.  I do some selective gifting - homemade chicken liver pate for my neighbor - and other giftings that I am not at liberty to divulge.  New traditions that are a highlight of my holiday season is breakfast with my neighbor, Nancy, early on a weekday morning before work.  And possibly working in a gossip/knitting/catch-up session with my DS Melanie (HINT HINT HINT). 

Speaking of gifting, my 'boss' - whom I love to pieces - always overdoes it at Christmas.  She staggered in with a hefty basket that contained a lovely scarf (handmade by women in Nepal), a very nice girlie-type set of lotion and shower gel, a gift card for, an amaryllis bulb kit, and ... a re-gift.  I hooted with laughter when I opened that bag (containing two precious - read: expensive - bottles containing balsamic vinegar and a wild mushroom sage infused EVOO) and a card dropped out.  It thanked her for 'having' this couple over for dinner.  I am not complaining, envisioning as I am, that infused oil drizzled over some al dente pasta.  Providing I can find some GF pasta I can tolerate.

I am a firm believer in re-gifting.  As one who liberally bestows gifts on the unsuspecting, I always add to my greetings that they should feel free to pass it on if they don't want/need it.  That does not bother me at all.  What's the consensus out there on re-gifting?  Yay or Nay?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hate greasy pots and pans?

You need a Weeno-Rooter.  I ran across a great deal on chicken thighs and pressure-canned 24 qts of chicken and broth for the dogs.  There is nothing I hate more than to have to deal with grease up to my shoulder when I wash my largest stock pot.  Ergo - the Weeno-Rooter.  Or, Pepper Pot Licker.  I may just rent him out.

He rotated the pot as he cleaned.  He's very efficient.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My very first Advent Calendar!

Believe it or not, even at my (ahem) advanced age, I never, every had an Advent Calendar.  I secretly coveted those of my friends in school.  I came close dozens of times to buying one of my very own.  I also came close more dozens of times making my own.  But, as is always the case, a combination of procrastination and my pesky lack of focus delayed me past a reasonable deadline.

Then, this came in the mail:

My first, very own, lovely, wonderful Advent Calendar!  I love it!  Gifted to me by the eminently talented, lovely and muy compasivo Chicken Mama!

You are the BEST!  Plus, what magic did you use to find the time to make this?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Inspiration! Inspiration? Where art thou?

Or, Monday Musings gone all whiny-like.

I am wallowing in the too-little-daylight blues.  I really do need to give myself a swift kick in the tush, but I'm not as limber as I used to be.  I have sat down four times to compose a pithy post, only to stare, blankly, at the screen.  The only reason I'm typing now, is that I'm at work (please don't rat me out) and trying to appear bustling.  Sometimes the only way to get through writer's block is to force your way through.

I had thought about borrowing Tami's ploy and posting the alphabet.  I thought I would start in reverse order, though, because that is more my style.  Back-ass-wards.  The only thing I could come up with for Z, however, was zebra.  When I was a tot, I had a stuffed zebra that I named Eeyore.  Yes, yes, I know that Eeyore was a donkey without a tail, but the beauty of being a child is that there are no boundaries as far as your imagination goes.  Why do we lose so much of that when we are older?  I also had a doll named Poor Pitiful Pearl.  It was supposed to be a homely doll, but I thought she was spunky and beautiful.  Too bad I don't still have her, as I'm sure she'd be a valuable relic by now.  As much as I loved my PPP, I had nothing but disdain for my Barbies.

While the "Z" has given me a little pep in the writing department, I doubt if I will continue on.  I chafe at restrictions (including restrictive jeans...snort).  The weekend was pretty much on a par with all weekends, with the exception of getting to stand on tall ladders in gale force, arctic winds trying to attach another tarp to my fuel tank enclosure.  Gee, that was fun.  I did get a smidgen more in the holiday mood when I put up my parents' cute little tree.  They have always had a fresh tree - with the rare exception of last year.  We will give it a week to relax, and my dad will take his time putting the lights on.  As he grows older (92 and counting), he becomes more focused on individual tasks.  Sort of like obsessive.  So, I am sure the lights will be perfectly placed and evenly spaced.

Sunday morning, I had my early birthday breakfast with my friend, Maggie.  She is my oldest friend up here.  I have known her 15 years.  I always look forward to spending time with her - she is one of those people who make you feel lighter and happier after spending 15 minutes in their presence.  I also like this type of birthday celebration.  I return the favor for her birthday - a win-win, win-win.  Then I came home and roasted a pie pumpkin and made peanut butter pumpkin dog biscuits.  Once I was nice and warm, I forced myself outside to schlep 100# of chicken feed to their bin and wrestle with the aforementioned tarp.  I have long ago resigned myself to having to do jobs, no matter what the weather, since I usually have only one day to do them.  And Ma Nature can be a tough broad with a quirky sense of humor.

The sheep got three pumpkins (frozen/thawed/frozen/thawed) and were very happy.  Norman has gotten over his fear of pumpkins and can gnaw them down with the best of them.  I begrudgingly put up outdoor holiday lights - but only because I can't see from the garage to the front door at night.  It sure ain't because I'm in the mood...I did, however, put up my twinkly lights across the mantelpiece and that always mellows me out.

By golly, I wrote a whole post!  Of drivel, however....

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Plus Side of Snow.

While I might have been grumbling (putting it mildly) about shoveling a quarter- mile of paths through a foot+ of heavy, wet, icy snow on Thanksgiving morning, it did have it's positive side.  Apparently, being trapped in the coop with only their nesting boxes to keep them occupied, has joggled the hens' memories.  I am now getting three or four eggs a day!  This has been the longest dry spell as far as eggs go, ever on the Little Lucky.  I have a total of 24 chickens - three are roosters, about half are getting on in years, and the rest should be laying their little hearts out.  The reality is, I have gone over 27 days without one. single. egg.  Sluggards.

However, even my Peanut (banty) is back in the boxes.  So, while the days continue to shrink into 4 hours of so-called daylight, the hens are back to work.  The irony is not lost on me...but I will count my blessings and my eggs.