Monday, January 27, 2020

My reputation as eccentric is now cemented.

My friend/farmer has sold his farm.  I am currently negotiating the status of the farm cats that I feed daily.  Needless to say, I have grown quite fond of them and want to insure that their care is maintained.  One is definitely feral and the other is semi-feral.  As a result of the sale, he has to empty his barn of hay.  He asked if I would like him to fill my barn (yes!!) and, when I went out to feed the sheep Saturday morning, I opened the door to hay bales stacked to the roof!  As any of you who deal with hay know, this is a sight to warm the cockles.  It also smells like summer.  I just love the smell of hay, so I leaned forward, pressed my forehead against the hay, closed my eyes and just inhaled.  Just as neighbors drove by.  They apparently thought I was in some sort of distress, because there was a squeal of brakes and they reversed, rolling down the window on the passenger side and calling out.  I straightened up and told them I was just enjoying the hay.  The window went quickly up and the tires actually chirped as they sped off, most likely eyeing me warily in the rear view mirror.

It's been either pouring rain, snowing, or windy as all get-out.  Sometimes all at the same time.  This has been a weird winter and I am hoping against all odds that things settle down by spring.  I think we are due for an uneventful, good gardening year.  Am I right?

I now have a tiny squirrel, as well as a tiny rabbit, residing on the homestead.  He/she is not afraid of me in the least bit, which is worrisome.  Now I have to carefully scan the deck and surrounding area to make sure the coast is clear before I let the dogs out.  I went out to berate him and he sat there, peanut skewered on his front teeth and looked at me - then went back to the peanut without a care in the world.  Sigh.

The gloomy weather is making everyone cranky.  Baby Dumpling, the lowest hen in the pecking order, is being beset upon by everyone, including the ducks.  I have to intervene and then carry her around while I do chores so that she catches a break.  There is one particular hen that seems to delight in torturing her (Cruella) and she had better watch her step.  I am thinking about making a roost for the duck house and putting BD and her sister there during the nights.  At least she would get a break and not be alone.

Typical gloomy morning chores
Linden would like to know where
I am keeping the sun.
It was the usual jam-packed weekend, where I didn't get even a quarter of my to-do list done.  I did mail off a package and get a pedicure (although this was a non-color pedi, which always leaves me feeling rather deflated when I look down on my naked toes), did a little shopping, got gas (20 cents a gallon cheaper in VT), and visited with my mother and sister.  That got me home just before dark.  Sunday I met with my friend, Maggie, to celebrate our January birthdays.  I took us to brunch at the best local restaurant, where we enjoyed a flight of mimosas (all citrus-based for health reasons...), huevos rancheros and a breakfast burrito the size of a VW.  It was fun and so good to catch up.  Then it was home to tackled my closet.  I had convinced myself, Cleo Queen of Denial that I am, that it would be a snap to do in an afternoon.  Two hours later, all I had managed to do was to finish the pile of ironing stashed on a shelf and pull out all the shoes/boots and polish them.  I did sort through them and put a couple pair in the GW bag.  I even had the courage to pull out my oldest and most beloved sweat shirt (20+ years and it looks it) to discard.  I finally faced the fact that the neck and sleeve trim, weakened to undulating strips, did not make it ruffled.  It hasn't made it out of the house, however, and I may need an intervention to actually put it in the trash.  I will be lucky if I can finish the closet project over the next month, as it will be competing with the organizing and design of this year's garden.  Those glossy seed catalogs are calling to me from the dining room table...

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The long weekend where I stayed home, ate like a goddess and didn't have to do dishes.

My youngest sister spent the long weekend with me and I am basking in 'our' accomplishments.  She is one of those people who is artistic, musical, organized, fun, energetic, and a damn good cook.  And, yes, she is mine and you can't have her.

Thanks to her, my meals were bumped up six levels, my pantry was cleaned out and organized, I can account for all of my dried comestibles, and my spices, oils, vinegars and oddments are organized.  She would have tackled the refrigerator and my clothes closet if we had had the time.

We also rearranged furniture, swapped out rugs and hung the rest of my artwork.  It's surprising how exhausted you can get from supervising.

A rather poor view of our work.
There was a great deal of hullabaloo about the approaching Snowmageddon on Saturday, so extra firewood was stacked inside, water containers filled, critters battened down and...we got three inches of snow.  We did get an additional three inches over Sunday, but it was a far cry from all the dire predictions.  I am not complaining.  And the food!  Saturday was broiled salmon with a light glaze and cilantro sauce, coconut rice and green beans with tamari and almonds.  Sunday was baked, stuffed acorn squash with a chopped salad.  Monday was fresh gluten free fettuccini (from Aldi's) with a mushroom stroganoff-like sauce.  Egads.

I was loathe to put her on the bus today, headed back to the City, but she has bigger fish to fry.  She has been part of a band since 1979 and they are still at it.  Next month is their 40th anniversary!  Who need the Stones!

My sister is on the far right, top and far left, bottom.
Original members, with the exception of the bass player.
In other news...

I picked up my car from the body shop and it is better than new.  Other than the fact that  I discovered a nail in a rear tire that had been picked up from the shop floor.  When I mentioned it to them, they demanded to know how I could be sure it was from their shop.  I pointed out that the nail was a very particular kind of nail that is used in older brake drums.  Pfft.  (That bit of information was given to me by my old garage mechanic, who fixed the tire.)  Honestly, I wasn't about to sue them.  I just wanted them to be aware that they should keep a sharper eye on the state of their floor.

I am getting one or two eggs a day from my chickens, thanks to judicious use of their coop light.  It has been so cold at night that I have to leave the light on.  While an egg a day does nothing to alleviate the spike in my electric bill, they are worth the cost.  I just can't face store-bought eggs.

I finished my final pair of fingerless mitts for the year.  (Remind me I said that.)  I am now onto more interesting things, having found at least six unfinished projects - just the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure.  February is fast-approaching, so I have lined up my grid paper and garden notebook.  I am looking forward to planning this year's garden, but I am also wondering where all the 'bonus' time is/was/will be that I always expect every winter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

If necessity is the mother of invention...

... does that make vanity the princess of invention?  And what about laziness?  That surely figures in.  Probably the not-talked-about member of the invention family.

I am a firm believer that the eldest child is the inheritor of all the genetic material that needs to be flushed out of the parental units.  Things like the pouchy eyes of your German relatives, the tendency to male pattern baldness that knows no gender.  Ahem.

During the winter, one of my favorite things are the fleecy sheets on my bed.  As the daylight hours dwindle into single numbers, I find myself almost vaulting into those velour-like linens with the same feeling (I imagine) a little mole flees sunlight for the security of his dark little home.  Very mole-like, I burrow in.  Of course, I don't spend a lot of time sleeping - I am, as a rule, up between 3-3:30 every morning - and I am 'entertained' by a variety of dreams during the shortened night, which have me tossing and turning.  All this tossing and turning on my much-loved fleecy pillow case has the effect of putting an immersion blender to my hair.  Upon waking, not one strand is lying placidly on my head.

Add to this the combination of hard water, few daylight hours in which to do morning chores and a long daily commute, to make it inconvenient to take the time to shower every morning.  I compromise with an every-other-day schedule, which gives me a few mornings during the week where I can actually get to work on time AND do an extra little something - like unload 100# of feed.  What an exciting life I lead!  (Insert sound of dripping sarcasm)

Needless to say, my challenged morning 'beauty' regime is usually out of my control.  Or anyone else's.  Vidal Sasson would throw his hands up in surrender.  I am thankful to get out the door in matching shoes (or IN shoes), with a top and a bottom that don't clash.  I pray that I can get from my car in the building garage and into my office without anyone more stylish catching sight of me.  This also has me darting furtively into the ladies room throughout the day.  It's a lot of work.

Since January has me all fired-up to purge the excess of my life, I have been rummaging through long-neglected drawers, casting out things that have been moved with me, but never worn, for over 30 years.  Egads.  Yesterday morning, I did a short foray into the 'lingerie' drawer (using the term very, very loosely, given the state of my BGPs).  I plucked out two half slips.  Does anyone even wear slips now, half or whole?  I feel we've left slips behind and jettisoned into spanx.

(Hang in there - it's all connected)

As I went to dispose of the undergarments, a tiny light bulb went off in my brain.  It could have coincided with catching sight of myself in the mirror.  A vague recollection emerged of my mother covering her pillow with a satin pillow case (she being the generator of the aforementioned bad hair gene).  I quickly slid one slip over each side of my pillow (slip covers - snort!) and this morning I emerged from bed with non-electrified hair.  It was almost tame.

I am now on a mission to obtain satiny-type material and make an actual pillow case.  It may not help my lack of style, but it sure will keep me from scaring the dogs in the morning.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

No quietly into the night here.

Not that I would expect anything different, but my New Year's Eve involved dog barfing, cat barfing, and an active smoke alarm.  It is no wonder that the dogs, cat and I were under the covers by 8:30.  I figure the new year will arrive whether I am there to greet it or not.

Peanut apparently discovered something 'tasty' in the chicken yard that did not agree with him.  After stewing around in his stomach all day, he decided to jettison it while still under his freshly washed blanket, on the freshly washed sofa cover.  I'm glad I had spares of both, as I do not use a dryer and everything has to be washed and festooned on my drying rack.

Not to be outdone, Slimmie decided to join in, while making sure he hit the rug.  Lovey, as always, looked on anxiously.

I finally had taken my car into the body shop and was given a rental (using the term 'given' lightly here).  Sitting in the rental is like being thrust into a commercial jet with no instructions.  So many dials, gauges, lights, symbols!  Meghan, the rental agent - a very nice young woman of about 12 - rattled through all the attributes of the car, the rental agreement, deposits, sign-heres, initial-theres in about 3 minutes.  I think I absorbed about a quarter of the information.  Then I was thrust into the world, madly pushing buttons and dials to get the heat/defrost working.  About halfway back to the office, I finally figured out the heating system and got the windows cleared.  Geezelouise.  This car has everything but a snow scraper.  How is that possible in the northeast?

The Chevy and I have negotiated a truce, which is a good thing, as I won't be getting my car back until a week from tomorrow at the earliest.  Apparently, the front bumper now has to be pulled off (headlights and all) so that they can blend the red paint artistically with the new front hood, etc.  Little did I know that I had dropped my car off with Michelangelo.

Now to the smoke alarm.

After a wild ride home in the new-to-me car, over the mountains through a snow storm complicated by fog, I arrived home to the aforementioned barfings, raced out in the dark (on ice) to do chores, raced back in, fed the dogs, started my dinner, then realized I had not checked the Club House to see if low-hen-on-the-totem-pole was cowering in a corner.  This would leave her vulnerable and cold.  So out I went, completely forgetting the extra virgin olive oil heating in my cast iron pan.  At least I know my detector works.

After a glass of liberally spiked eggnog, I toddled off to bed at 8:30.

I believe 2019 ended in character.  Hi ho!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Hellooooooo 2020!

I'm not sure where I found this photograph - but it fills me with happiness every time I look at it.  So, don't let the door hit you in the butt, 2019, but I am very glad to see the tail end of you.  I am having very optimistic feelings about 2020 (a one-term imposter and a return to sanity and compassion, being high on my list) and I am going to will it to happen.

My best wishes to all of you, that your brand-spanky New Year is everything you hope for and more!