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Friday, April 30, 2010

Mud puppies.





           Mine are not the endangered dog-faced salamanders with a red ruff, but three stinky dogs that know how to have a good time.

            It was one of those perfect spring days and they just couldn’t resist having a pool party.  As I sat on the bench while they splashed and swam in the disgustingly-muddy pond it occurred to me that this really is the Peaceable Kingdom.  The sun warmed my shoulders. I watched my animals at play and all was right in my little world.

            Princess Poppy, the cat prowled the shoreline in search of frogs that obligingly jumped into the water for her amusement.  There are so many frogs; too many to count, so her game is safe for the summer.  Mr. & Mrs. Mah-lard bobbed contentedly around the south end of the pond and when the dogs all charged in, they acted as if they too were part of the party.  Rather than fly off as might be expected, they deliberately swam toward the dogs and the commotion.

            Dear Ernie, who isn’t the smartest pooch I’ve ever owned, but is a sweet-natured boy of questionable ancestry tried to distinguish himself today as a bird dog.  He and the ducks played a game of chase for about a half an hour and his feathered friends were clearly enjoying themselves.  Even when big Ted powered through the water in their direction to retrieve his ubiquitous Frisbee the ducks remained nonplussed. They really seemed to be having as much fun as the dogs.  Julie needed no encouragement to plunge into the smelly mess and when the boys tired of water sports she continued splashing about on her own.  As if she had a real purpose, she suddenly raced up to the house to collect a withered lilac stem I had thrown out, then back into the water. 

            Sure, they all need a bath now, but seeing my animals having such a good time made it all worthwhile.  After the party the dogs napped. I continued spring planting, envisioning the dahlias, backed by sunflowers, cleome and zinnias.  I know it will be beautiful, but as I look at all the wildflowers flourishing without my intervention, I had to question what the heck I was doing.  My efforts will be no competition.



7:17 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, April 29, 2010



“…the rich man is not he who has plenty of money, but he who has the means to live now in the luxurious surroundings given us by early spring."  Anton Chekhov

            What could be truer!  Early morning, the air is still crisp and cool, but the sun is fast burning the frost from the just mown grass.  I sit on the porch with a mug of coffee and watch the world awaken.  The dogs and cats investigate signs left by any nocturnal interlopers like Billy Possum who frequents the garden shed just in case there’s a bowl of cat food.

            When Roosevelt and Taft were campaigning for the presidency each chose a wildlife figure to represent his party.  Of course Roosevelt’s was the Teddy Bear, but Taft was Billy Possum.  While the Teddy Bear has endured the test of time, does anyone remember poor Billy? 



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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A couple old friends.


            I took a bouquet of beautiful lilacs to my old (94 years old!) friend Dorothy who is incarcerated in a fancy nursing home.  I also took her some socks and some past issues of the New Yorker.  She loves all this stuff and looks forward to these "surprises."  Sometimes little things really do mean a lot. Unlike many of the other “residents” of the home, Dorothy is sharp as a tack. Mentally she’s just as she always was, but she’s no longer ambulatory which is why she’s there.  I think of her as the original hippie and while visits are always jolly, it saddens me to see such a smart, fun-loving woman now resigned to ending her days in this warehouse of the living dead.

            From there it was off to see Ginny who just celebrated her 99th birthday! Like Dorothy, Ginny is more with it than a lot of people half her age.  She’s amazing!

            “I sure do miss my chickens,” she told me last week, so when I found this rooster that won’t awaken anyone with his crowing I knew it would make her smile.  Ginny is an inspiration and unlike myself, she’s a real farmer.  She still lives independently on the 160 acres where she and her late husband raised dairy cattle and crops.  Until just last year Ginny kept about 50 chickens, but she wisely thought it might be difficult for her to get to the hen house in the snow, so now she has none.  This shouldn't suggest she is retired.  She rides a bright red ATV down the long lane to her mail box.  “I can get that thing up to 85 mph,” she once confided.  She’s already in the process of putting in a big garden and her social life is busier than mine.  She says work is what keeps her young and I believe it.

            She leases her fields to a mega-farmer and shakes her head as if in disbelief at the way agriculture has changed. “That’s not the way Emmet and I farmed,” she reflects.  What used to take the two of them three days to plant is now done in a couple of hours.  Even so, she is happy her land is still in crops, not houses, so to ensure this will always be the case she has put her property into an agricultural trust.  While all around her the fertile fields have fallen to “development,” Ginny’s farm will always grow food.  It’s a very special person who makes provisions to preserve what matters so that it will remain when they are no longer here.  Ginny is special indeed. 



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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New parents!!!


            I’m a tidy person.  After all, we Virgos demand order in our lives; no clutter, no chaos.  That’s the rule—until a puppy enters the scene.  My usually-neat house is a jumble of toys.  There isn’t a single room that doesn’t have at least one partially-unstuffed animal, ball, chew stick or disgusting cow hoof littering the floor.  I look at my little cross-eyed girl, collect the clutter and return it to the toy basket and all is forgiven. 

            Someone mentioned the plethora of puppy pictures on this blog site.  It’s true and I should be ashamed because my own reaction when people trot out photos of their children or grandbabies is one of utter boredom.  Babies all look like J. Edgar Hoover.  I think there is really only one newborn picture and the hospitals just keep selling it to every new set of parents.  I’m never sure of an appropriate response when these photos flash on a cell phone or are lovingly withdrawn from a wallet.  “Oh, I didn’t know babies could be morbidly obese…,” or “Do you think that point on top of his head will go away?”  Instead I mutter something about how cute he/she is and listen politely as the proud presenter rambles on about how long the kid sleeps or what it is eating.  I’m not good at baby chatter—unless the baby is a puppy.

            So, here she is again.  You can see how she’s grown!  Her hair isn’t really as light in color as it appears in this picture.  It’s just the morning sun. My apologies, but I can’t help myself.



8:34 am edt          Comments

Monday, April 26, 2010

A good kid.


            When I hear people complaining or worrying about their kids I realize how fortunate I am to have a daughter who causes me no worry, no grief, no financial burden, no embarrassment…, I could go on and on.  My kid simply saves animals.  Tomorrow she is delivering her most recently rescued cat to his new home, but it certainly won't be the last critter plucked from peril.  It doesn't matter if their big or small, furred or feathered.  If they need help, Jill comes to their aid.

            She found Chuck the duck on the side of the road, frozen and unable to walk. He wasn’t far from deaths door. Not surprisingly she picked him up, took him to the vet, treated his frostbitten webbed feet daily and added him to the menagerie at her home.  Most of Chuck’s toes fell off, but as this picture proves, he’s living a happy secure life with friends Weebles the crippled mini-horse and Martin the crippled goat, along with two dogs (healthy) and twelve cats.  I’m proud of her.



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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Good intentions count.


            Rain aborted the lofty gardening plans for today, but I did get several things planted before the thunder and lightning rolled in.  It’s so gratifying to look out at the just-tilled gardens and know that in a couple of weeks there will be tidy rows of green shoots—unless the animals and chickens rearrange things as they usually do.

            Yesterday I had the privilege of helping with a fundraiser for a woman who has devoted her life to helping animals as well as the people who care for them.  As the receptionist at an emergency vet clinic it was not uncommon for L. to comfort grieving owners whose animal didn’t survive being hit by a car or some other tragedy.  Over the years she has also rescued and re-homed about 500 cats, a couple hundred of which were kittens requiring bottle feeding every few hours.  It’s not unusual that people like L. who care deeply about animals also possess a special compassion for their fellow man as was demonstrated last night.  About a hundred people attended a fundraiser dinner to help L. now that she herself needs some help and comfort.

            L. recently underwent a health crisis and major surgery, but I think that the show of support by people who are genuinely concerned about her will help her recover more quickly.  It was a very poignant evening.  Lots of tears were shed, but they were tears of happiness for a very deserving person. I’ve always believed animal people are very special in more ways than may be obvious.



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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hoping for change.


            I doubt that a more reserved, quiet man than my uncle Bill ever existed.  His motto was, “Don’t make waves.  Mind your own business….”  Since he’s been dead he has been doing quite the contrary.  He writes letters to people who abuse or neglect animals.  Because he was christened with a very dignified name (most unfitting), he signs these letters from the grave. A signature adds more punch.  For security sake (since he’s penning another letter…) I’ll refer to him as William Cabot Lodge III.  Sometimes his missive gets attention and the animal subject’s life improves dramatically like the shaggy farm dog that moved from rotten wooden box to a deluxe doggie condo.

            “I do hope you won’t be offended, but as I drive past your property en route to work each day I can’t help but notice that your dog’s house is falling to pieces.  Perhaps this is just an oversight…,” he wrote (or something to that effect).  The letters are always printed out, but an impressive masculine signature is always in ink.  Imagine my delight shortly after mailing this  note from my genteel uncle to see major construction going on at that farm.

            The dog was tied off to the side as two men smashed his rotten box to bits and began constructing a big insulated house with a new attached water bucket and food bowl.  The dog watched as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.  I could hardly believe my own!  Years later that dog is still tethered to the house, but with about fifteen feet of cable.  He seems content.

            Not all recipients of Uncle Bill’s letters are so accommodating.  I picture some of these people as they rip open the envelope and read Uncle Bill’s observation.  Red-faced, neck artery throbbing as blood pressure escalates, the reader grabs the phone book muttering, “Who the hell is this William Cabot Lodge III?!!!  I’ll give this blankety-blank a piece of my mind…!”

            But, alas there is no listing for Mr. Lodge III for he is in the graveyard.  Uncle Bill just penned another polite letter to a household up the road regarding their newly-acquired St. Bernard pup tied with no more than six feet of rope to a box at the back of their property where it has been ignored and apparently forgotten since its unfortunate arrival. 

            Any changes to the poor creature’s situation will be noted.  Keep fingers crossed.



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Friday, April 23, 2010

A predictable ending.


            Most people adore robins.  I don’t.  These birds that many associate with springtime (although it’s really the redwing blackbirds who are the true harbingers of mild weather) annoy me.  This confession probably seems inconsistent with my commitment to wildlife conservation, but don’t get me wrong.  I would never do anything to harm or discourage the orange-breasted bird.  I just don’t find them endearing.

            There are seven cats living here and there are trees aplenty with suitable nesting spots safely away from the cats’ temptation, yet the robins insist on the trees close to the porch.  This is very aggravating to the kitties.  They sit chattering at the base of these trees, eyes cast upward as the angry robins in turn scream their ‘cat alert’ call from dawn until dusk.

            Yesterday Poppy, who is quite athletic, took things a bit further and climbed the crab apple tree to investigate the nest being constructed by an industrious pair of robins.  She climbed right down to where the half-built nursery sat.  The outraged birds flitted about, swearing at her; chURp,chURp, chURp!  She ignored them and finally came down, but she continued to keep an eye on things.

            I watched this day long exchange, amazed at the robins’ determination to build that nest literally under the nose of an equally-determined cat.  They worked all day and now the nest which is right outside my office is about finished. (That's it in the center of this photo.)  

             It’s not difficult to predict the rest of this story.  The female will lay a clutch of eggs which Poppy will periodically check.  The bird will set in spite of the feline interference until her homely children hatch.  I think newly hatched birds look like Dwight Eisenhower.  Poppy will continue climbing the tree and poking about the nest until the ugly kids fall to their death.  Then the piqued parents will leave.  Some version of this tale happens every spring.



8:21 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Not a good night.


            When I first got this farm I christened it The Peaceable Kingdom, but last night was anything but peaceable!  I write this blog after no more than two hours sleep—and even that was not peaceable.

            Night is usually quiet as a tomb, but for the pleasant sounds of peepers or bull frogs later in the summer.  With windows thrown open to the crisp night air how could one not fall into blissful sleep?  Last night illustrated the many ways this was possible.

            I watched the disturbing documentary called Food, Inc. before turning off the light and pulling the down comforter up to my chin.  While none of what the film exposed was surprising, being reminded of how entrenched the food industry is with government was very depressing. It has been going on for decades and there is nothing to suggest that this collusion will ever end.  Images of doomed "food animals" remain burned on the back of my eyes.  Every person in this country needs to see this film.

            When at last I dozed off the respite was brief.  Coyotes were nearby and from their joyous chorus they had secured a meal, but their song was interrupted by a cat fight on the brick porch.  I leapt from bed, hit the floodlight and hung out the window to see a huge, long-haired spotted cat (a stranger) threatening Tom who was trying to catch a few winks himself on one of the porch chairs.  The unwelcome guest was not impressed nor intimidated when I hissed, “Get out of here!”  I raced downstairs and out the door to end the skirmish. The big intruder merely loped off a few yards, stopped and stared at me.  I carried Tom to the safety of his cellarway apartment and returned to the torture chamber that was my bedroom.

            I love the fresh night air, but the air was heavy with pollen and my allergies flared.  Desperate attempts to sleep were aborted by violent fits of coughing that threatened to turn me inside out.  And my hand hurt too! My weather-predicting right hand is a better meteorologist than Al Roker.  When it hurts it’s going to rain within 24 hours—guaranteed!

            By now the clock said 2:45.  I had to get some sleep!  That’s probably what Mr. & Mrs. Mahlard were thinking as well, but suddenly a great ruckus ensued down at the pond. From the racket I certainly expected to find a pile of feathers instead of the pair of Mallards bobbing on the water when dawn finally arrived.  My guess is that en route to the garden shed, the raccoons stopped by the pond for some duck eggs.  While the happy couple is still near their nest site, I see that the nest is now empty.

            Cats are supposed to be nocturnal hunters, right?  So when a loud gnawing began that sounded like a beaver working its way through a downstairs wall it didn’t seem unreasonable to expect one of the seven felines in this household to show a little interest.  Wrong again.  Nothing interrupted the slumbering dogs and cats that continued to snore peacefully.

            At long last, dawn arrived.  There was no point in even trying to sleep once the bird twittering and Randy’s crowing began.  After a few cups of strong coffee I decided to get those pine trees in the ground so they could start blocking the view of ET’s wasteland (that now sports a black-faced cement jockey on his porch).  I’d marked the proposed planting sights between the fence and the crumbling foundation of the old milk parlor, but I might as well try to plant these trees in Walmart’s parking lot.  Under the lush weeds and ubiquitous brambles is a challenging layer of things long hidden just about six inches underground.  Five down, five to go.  The day is not off to a great start and the sky is getting dark and ominous.  Rain is coming.



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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Change is good.


            The dogs and I enjoyed another long, mind-clearing walk this morning.  Julie is doing so well walking on lead.  She sits nicely while I unclip her and then bounds through Ranger Rick’s woods as if it’s her own back yard.  The woods are spectacular this time of year, dotted with spring beauties, violets, and hundreds of May Apple umbrellas.  We cut through old Kenny’s field and walked half of the perimeter, but it’s now disked and will soon be planted, so the route will have to be diverted as there is only about a foot of pathway and that will soon vanish.

            The soil is loamy and fertile, but it seems strange to see it all cleared.  As I was silently lamenting the fact that I’ll no longer encounter wood cock or Bob White quail or pheasants I noticed a thin animal path leading toward the stream and decided to follow it.  That’s where I encountered a large snake sunning himself.  It wasn’t a type of reptile I’ve seen before, but I’m sure it wasn’t poisonous and it was indeed a wonderful surprise to encounter wildlife just when I thought it had all been displaced.

            I asked for feedback about this blog and I got it, but now that I’ve been encouraged to write about things more profound than planting beans and seeing snakes, I find the prospect of actually doing so intimidating.  It requires putting words to the beliefs, motivations and feelings that while very clear to me are so personal that sharing them is-- well, scary, or so I thought, but then I spent the afternoon with my former companion and his mate, who has become a dear friend of mine and things became clear. Putting words to how/whyI consider my life good became easier.  This is but one example.

            I was devastated when my long relationship with C. ended.  It was the most unsettling event of my life and I dealt with it by running off to Australia for a month. I returned knowing I could face any challenge life had to offer.  Imagine my surprise when at one of our monthly music parties a woman walked up to me, hand extended and said, “It’s such a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard so many nice things about you.”  That woman was my replacement, C.’s new love. She and I have been friends ever since.  I also consider C.  my friend. 

          So, in retrospect I guess the reason I can honestly say I am a happy person is because I understand that happiness requires accepting responsibility (my role in the demise of the relationship), forgiveness (his role in the demise) and gracious acceptance of any good that comes with change (my friendship with both of them). 

            Ironically, another friend sent this unidentified quote to me this morning.  It seems especially appropriate. “Be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people we like and respect.”



8:46 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wasting time.


          Here I sit, still in my bathrobe instead of sorting out and addressing all that needs to be done today.  I’m distracted by another writer’s blog.  This blog, which frankly influenced the format of my own is written by a man who has made quite a name for himself writing about the dogs in his life, although his blog is really all about himself.  I read the darned thing every day although it’s essentially the same self-congratulating stuff or comments about his most recent self-discovery or that he’s dealing with his “fears.”  Then I slap myself for wasting time reading it in the first place.  Why do people go on and on about their emotional battles real or imagined, always noting their progress when it’s clear they are mired in going nowhere? 

            Who hasn’t had something bad happen in his/her life?  An unhappy childhood, a failed relationship or two, money worries…, the list could go on forever, but as my British friends say in the face of tragedy, “Well, you just get over it, don’t you?”  Yes indeed, get over it.  Move on. Live in the moment!

              This man, like so many others frequently lauds the young woman he plans to marry as playing a role in his evolution.  As he revealed when his former marriage was ending about a year ago, it was obvious to readers how and why this came to be.  The new bride-to-be appears young enough to be his daughter.  That story has been told way too many times.  I wonder if his former wife has a blog.  Probably not. 

            Maybe I read his blog because I’m fascinated by his self promotion.  I actually admire it.  While there is much to be said about being humble, maybe I should be more aggressive in promoting myself, but I wouldn’t be good at it if it meant bragging as this fellow does.  Anyway, his blog probably has a lot more readers than mine, but would anyone want to read about how sitting on a little log-and-board bench admiring a carpet of violets that grace my Nature trail is how I meditate?  Who would care that I find lying on the grass in the middle of the donkey pasture, surrounded by four-legged or feathered critters a way of affirming my role in the Universe just because it reminds me of my obligation to change/save what matters even if it’s just on this tiny piece of land?  I don’t think anyone really wants to know about my spirituality, my psychological evolution, my insecurities, etc.  Would sharing any of this make the world a better place?

            I fight cynicism on a daily basis for admittedly I am a cynic.  That’s a bad thing, ‘something to work on suppressing, but I’ll bet if I exploited this inherent trait I’d make more money, have more readers and be more “successful” than I am.  The difference would be the happiness factor.  I’m a genuinely happy person if I don’t think about the things I can’t change like war, discrimination, politics, etc. 

            Considering all of this, I’d like feedback from those who read my daily rambles.  Should I stop sharing the events of my small country life and instead share reflections like the man whose blog makes my eyes turn in?  What really matters?  Oh, I have to get dressed now and walk the dogs while I think about streamlining the focus of the article on which I’m working.  I’ve wasted too much time already this morning!

10:10 am edt          Comments

Monday, April 19, 2010

Todays adventure.


            The frosty morning gave way to sunshine and warm temperatures, conditions perfect for getting those pine trees and raspberry bushes in the ground.  Why does it surprise me when simple projects like this go awry?  The original plan was to put the new raspberry bushes on the outside corner of the field, but two curious donkeys who watched my excavating with far too much interest foretold trouble to come. 

            I changed the plan, but foolishly left the wheelbarrow loaded with tools, discarded sweater and the bucket of soaking plants too near the fence line.  It certainly seemed far enough away when I went to the house to retrieve some forgotten item, but I had apparently forgotten the potential neck extension of curious animals.  I stepped from the back door just in time to see the bunch of lovely pine trees in the mouth of one pain of an ass.  Andy had most of the young plants gripped tightly between his big teeth, head thrown back in that “come chase me” attitude and Corky was happy to oblige.  They had found new “toys” and the race was on. Time was of the essence!

            I scrambled between the wires of the fence and joined the party that was threatening to turn healthy pine trees into donkey dental floss, all the while screaming threats that probably sounded like, “Wah, wah, wah,” to the longears.  The dogs found all the commotion great fun, so they too joined the party.  It seems I was the only one not having a good time.  Andy eventually dropped a cluster of eight trees and I found the remaining two tangled in the tall grass.  

            After the plant recovery Ernie decided to move the party to the pond.  All three dogs bounded toward the muddy water.  While Ernie instigates these pool parties, he always waits for Ted to charge in first, as if to test the water and then he follows.  While Julie has been poking around the shoreline since she first arrived here, today she too charged right in, swimming like a fish across the mud hole.  The pond is a leaky mess and while it disappoints me, animals don’t seem to mind at all. 

            Julie may be a hybrid, AKA mongrel, but her Lab genes rules her behavior.  She’s growing like a weed and her developing personality suggests that she’s going to be a chronic fun-seeker.  So, now I have three dirty dogs who don’t smell all that great, but they are happy dogs.  How anyone lives without dogs is a mystery to me!  They are constant reminders that living in the moment makes life fun and interesting. 



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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Resting in peace.


            Poppy and Sissy are a tag team, usually together, usually playing or getting into trouble.  Here they are desecrating Nettie’s grave.  I guess they don’t know this is a special place.  This particular spot is not just Nettie’s final resting place, but also Rudy’s (aged 16) and Schatzi’s (aged 17).  This corner will now be the designated dog cemetery, although others like Katie, Dorothy, Margie and Buddy are buried elsewhere.  It’s sobering to recall how many four-legged friends have passed in the twenty-three years I’ve lived here. 

            Under the big lilac bush is the cat cemetery where only Sweetie has a marker.  When she had to be put down after twenty years here, the vet pressed her little paw into a disc of plaster and etched her name, DOB and DOD.  It hangs by a ribbon on a low branch and I think of her funny round face every time I pass that bush.  Maybe grave stones and markers serve an important purpose.  I don’t know.  I still remember all of the others as well, even the ones that were only here for a day, such as rescues like tiny Smudge whose brain was so addled when I found the kitten that the emergency vet said there was no hope.  The progressive paralysis would soon shut down his respiratory system.  Smudge is buried along side the cats that lived long happy lives here.

            In the barnyard is where my old ponies Joe-Pye (almost 40), Wildfire (about 25) and a goat (not old enough) appropriately-named Pain are buried. Pain lost a week long battle with a bizarre condition called Overeaters Disease.  The farm vet had been here only two weeks earlier to vaccinate all the barn residents.  I had said, “Give them whatever shots they need.” 

            When Pain became ill and I phoned the farm vet I was curtly informed, “We don’t treat goats.”  Something was very wrong, but what could it be?  He had been vaccinated for “whatever he needed” -- or so I believed.  Every day for one week the poor creature saw my small animal vet who raised sheep and took a special interest in Pain.  The goat was ex-rayed, ultra-sounded, given shots for everything from vitamins to antibiotics, yet his condition worsened until there was no hope of recovery.  It was a mystery and the vet was as concerned as I.

            Early one evening he arrived unannounced, syringe in hand and put the tortured goat out of his misery.  We put Pain in the wheelbarrow and a necropsy was performed as we needed to know why he couldn’t be saved.  The necropsy revealed that Pain had literally eaten himself to death. He had apparently slipped through the fencing and stuffed himself with ripe peaches which shut down his rumen.  Had he been vaccinated for Overeaters Disease he would still be here.  Needless deaths like this still anger me.  I trusted the original farm vet who should have known or admitted his ignorance. It almost goes without saying, he’s been replaced.

            A neighbor with a backhoe came and buried Pain by the ponies.  For days after his death the donkeys kept a heartbreaking vigil at the site that is now grown over with lush grass. Soon I’ll level Nettie’s grave and plant it with wildflowers.  No other markers are necessary to remember the much-loved animals that are no longer with me.



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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Julie, the little angel.


            “Who loves me will also love my dog.”  Bernard of Clairvaux

            Anyone who has ever owned a Lab or a dog with even a teensy bit of Lab in its ancestry knows that they must have something in their mouths at all times, and so it is with Julie.  Here she is enjoying her rawhide chew just before Ted stole it from her (I gave her another one…).

            The pup is growing like a weed into what I consider to be a most beautiful young lady.  Some people believe in “crate training,” but I do not.  To me the concept is like incarcerating a person while stating he/she is being “trained” to be a good citizen.  My dogs are a special part of the household and they learn that from day one.  This is not to say Julie is never confined.  She sleeps in the laundry room at night and if I have to go away during the day, she and the boys have the run of the basement.  No doubt I’ll hear from those who disagree, but anyone who has visited knows these dogs are well behaved and they are happy family members, not prisoners.

            It actually snowed today!  Not much, but even so it was shocking to see snowflakes falling in mid-April, so the trees and raspberry bushes did not get planted.  It is too cold!  There’s a fire blazing in the woodstove and the furnace is humming away.



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Saturday morning.


        It feels as if winter has returned.  The skies are dark and it’s cold.  T. was right.  My beans are not going to germinate.  I didn’t sleep well, partly due to big commotion downstairs.  Even in my half-conscious state I knew what was going on.  The mouse that has become a little too comfortable living in the kitchen took a chance and left the safety of his home behind the stove.  The cats were on him in a flash.  I could hear the dogs’ food bowls scattering across the wooden floor.

            After a poor nights rest one really doesn’t want to be greeted by a tiny mouse head staring up from the rug, but that’s how the day began.  It can only improve-- right?

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gardening is good for the soul.


            A busy day.  First order of business was getting the truck window replaced.  Then I picked up the white pine trees ordered to start the barrier between me and everything to the north—especially ET.  Also got some more ever-bearing raspberry bushes.  I’ll plant this stuff tomorrow, but tonight I couldn’t resist planting a row of beans in spite of T’s admonition that it was “too early.”  Should this row meet some frigid demise I’ll just replant. 

            As usual this time of year I actually think I have a jump on controlling the gardens.  I’m trying some new weed control techniques (newspaper layers topped with mulch), so just maybe this will be the year the gardens won’t become jungles.  As I tuck each seed into the soil that is especially loamy this year thanks to a winters worth of stall cleanings, in my mind I hear Pete Seeger singing, “Inch by inch, row by row….”  Gardening is good for the soul!

            My absolute favorite place is Nova Scotia, so tonight I made a soup from my NS cookbook and it was just too good not to share, so here it is:

Potato Cheese Soup (a recipe from the Compass Rose Restaurant)

2   TBSP. butter

1  C. finely chopped onion

1  C. finely chopped carrot

1  C. finely chopped celery

3 sprigs of fresh parsley (or flakes)

2  ½ C. broth ( I use Better Than Broth vegetarian, but you could use chicken broth)

2  C. peeled cubed potatoes

½ tsp. dry dill weed

S&P to taste

1 ½ C. grated Cheddar cheese

Melt the butter, add onion, carrots and celery and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender.  Add parsley, broth and potatoes and simmer until tender.  Add dill and cheese, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Puree mixture in the blender and season with S&P. 

I topped mine with croutons.  It is delicious!!!  This is a photo from my friend Carol Rivoire who raises the nicest Norwegian Fjord Horses I've ever seen at her beautiful Beaver Dam Farm in Nova Scotia.  



6:50 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Feeling better.


            Today Julie had her first “road walk” which meant she was on lead as we headed up the road to Ranger Rick’s woods.  She did great for such a young dog!  This pup is a testament to the joys of adopting a rescue!  Even with her impaired vision she keeps up with her big “brothers” and plays with the cats, walks well on lead and to date has not had an accident in the house.  She is a gem!

            At the end of the woods I was stunned to discover that Chuck, the farmer who is working old Kenny’s land had plowed ALL of the fields, right up to the trees and brush.  Last year he only worked the east field, but this year land that has lain fallow ever since I’ve been here is plowed and will soon be ready for planting.  Last year’s corn field will be put into soybeans and most likely the rest will be planted in corn.

            Chuck’s cultivation has eliminated the route I’ve walked for so many years, thus one more event has altered something I’d taken for granted.  While in one respect it is nice to see the land being used to grow foods, it saddens me to see the fields that supported so much wildlife now turned under.  Not so much as a footpath remains, so now it seems the dogs and I are limited to just the woods unless I can fashion a trail around the crops. 

            My day of rest paid off and I feel much better-- so much so that I worked in the gardens.  Radishes, lettuce and peas are planted in the raised bed and half of the long vegetable plot is turned under.  I also addressed the dreaded lawn issue. Now that the tractor has a new battery, I mowed.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, mowing is my least favorite chore and after today I hate it even more. 

            The grass was long, so after mowing I raked some of it up to take to the hen with the peeps as they like chopped grass.  As I headed back toward the house I saw with horror that the driver’s side window of my truck was shattered!  Apparently, unbeknownst to me the mower threw a stone.  It’s amazing how much glass is in a small side window.  After a couple of hours picking shards from the most remote recesses of the cab, calling the insurance company and making an appointment to have the window replaced tomorrow morning, I hung a cloth over the void. I’m hoping it doesn’t rain. 

            Tonight, after all of the busy work of the day I sat on the porch and noticed how special my small country life really is.  The dogs and cats either snoozed or roamed about at their leisure.  The old orchard is just coming into blossom and it’s lovely.  Mr. and Mrs. Mahlard (the mallard ducks) drifted about the pond and a squirrel tempted Poppy from the uppermost limbs of the oak tree.  Once again I realized what a lovely and privileged lifestyle I enjoy.



8:13 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time to think.



            I’m trying to rest in order to get well, but it isn’t easy.  Indolence is not my nature, but in doing nothing I have more time to think about things and to contemplate their meanings.  One such thing is the daily visitor at my office window.

            Several years ago, just about this time of the year I was harassed to the point of distraction by a cardinal.  I’m not talking about the religious sort, but the avian sort.  From the crack of dawn until after dusk the brilliant red bird followed me. It was a demanding male and it hung on the window sill next to the desk in my office, pecking at the glass.  When I went downstairs it met me at the window in the landing.  Outside it flew from tree to tree shadowing my every move.  The only way to escape the annoying bird was to get in the truck and go somewhere, but upon my return it was always waiting.

            I put a cutout of an owl at the window, but the cardinal was undeterred.  I hung a bunch of balloons outside the window.  It broke them.  Ultimately I hung a towel over the glass, and although I couldn’t see him, he was still there as evidenced by his relentless chirping.  The stalking went on for months.  I contacted ornithologists and wildlife rehabilitators, all to no avail.  No one had an answer or a solution.

            Strangely it was during this period that I was struggling with a story about my mother’s final day on earth.  It was called “As She Lay Dying” and it ended up being published, but my reason for writing it was more of an emotional purge.  In retrospect I don’t even remember submitting it to the short story contest, but obviously I had.  Writing it required some painful recollections and even more painful acknowledgement of my shortcomings as a human being, especially as a daughter.  Throughout the soul-searching effort the bird was my constant annoying companion.  While it was happening I didn’t connect the two events.

            The fiery red creature hanging at the window, his incessant chirping and seemingly senseless obsession with me were all making a difficult process far more so.  The day I finished the story was the day the bird vanished.  It was also the day a letter from Prudential insurance arrived in my mailbox.

            The letter informed me that the company had just become aware that I was the beneficiary of an insurance policy which had been taken out by my mother they year I was born!  My mother, by this time had been in her grave more than seven years.  I was instructed to submit some documents proving my identity, which I did and Prudential sent me a most-unexpected windfall.

            While grateful for the money I couldn’t ignore the coincidence of the memoire and the bird and while this incident was indeed eerie, it was even eerier when it repeated itself two years later.  I was not working on anything quite as soul-searching as the first, but I was working on the Leaving Fifth Street collection of short stories when a cardinal (surely not the same one…) again appeared at my office window.  It was there daily until the second letter from Prudential arrived informing me that they had discovered another policy naming me the beneficiary.  I provided the redundant documentation and again I received a check for about $1,000.00. 

            For the past week a cardinal, this time a female has been appearing at my office window.  Unlike its predecessors it doesn’t hang around all day, but simply stops by several times a day as if to say hello.  My mother’s favorite bird was the cardinal.  I have my own thoughts about the significance of this bird and the awkward relationship she and I shared.  I think the recurring appearance of this bird symbolizes resolution, forgiveness and peace.



4:37 pm edt          Comments

Monday, April 12, 2010

A time to rest.


            I avoided mentioning that for the past month I’ve been battling some chest ailment that has again (yesterday)sent me to Stat Care where the tentative diagnosis was “walking pneumonia.”  A chest ex-ray was taken, but this must be read by the radiologist for a definitive answer.  Meanwhile I’m taking some super duper Rx. and while I think my chest feels somewhat better, I remain very weak, so I have resigned myself to rest.

            After a trip into town to purchase a new tractor battery I plunked myself down on one of the comfy porch chairs to soak up the sun and began reading Jane Goodall’s latest book.  Jane has been my hero for a very long time and this book is just what the doctor ordered.  While it may not help my physical ailment, her stories of hope and success just when things seemed utterly hopeless are helping to alleviate the anger and despair I feel seeing the destruction of the natural world around me.  As always Ms. Goodall is an inspiration.

           Julie is great.  I love her to pieces!  Hope to have a more interesting post tomorrow.


8:59 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The cursed tractor..


            The trees are just beginning to show signs of green.  As I sit on my porch, beyone the pond I can see neighbor D. through the skeletal woods as he creeps from east to west atop his John Deere.  He looks like a walrus in a tank top creeping along at a snail’s pace mowing acres and acres of grass.  When he’s finished his extended lawn looks as perfect as green plush carpeting.  Then he disappears back into the house and I’ll probably not see him again until the next time he mounts the JD and begins his monotonous east-west travels.

            My lawn (such as it is) is a tufted mess of long and short assorted grasses dotted with spring beauties and budding dandelions.  I think it’s much prettier and more interesting than D’s perfectly boring grass.  I hate mowing, except for the nature trail, but I made the first maddening attempt of the season to rev up the tractor which was as dead as one of the mice Sissy delivers to the back door each morning.  I pushed it out of the shed, drove the truck through the yard and tried to jump the battery, but it wouldn’t even click. I called T.

            Equipment must have some kind of micro chip that only responds to a masculine touch. He fiddled with the jumper cables and voila, it started right up.  He left and I set off to mow the nature trail, but before I even reached the manure spreader (where I was eagerly anticipating cutting the new diverted path) it died again without so much as a sputter or cough.  There it sat nestled between big trees, raspberry bushes and of course, multiflora rose awaiting Mr. T’s magic touch once again.  This time he arrived with tools and some little meter, fussed with the terminals, disconnected and reconnected and again it started.  I drove it back to the shed and quit for the day.  A little red light indicates something is wrong, so it awaits further diagnosis.



6:58 pm edt          Comments

Not even the patio bench!


...but how can I say no to this face?

9:47 am edt          Comments

Off limits!


People sit on chairs, dogs do not.  Julie is absolutely positively not allowed on the furniture.

9:44 am edt          Comments

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Try this!


Cook one box of orzo according to directions.  (Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta.)

Put the drained orzo in a large bowl and add approximately ½-3/4 C. olive oil and mix well.  Add more if desired.

Finely chop 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (depending on the size)

Coarsely chop about a cup of celery and about ½ cup of green onions.

Add tomatoes,  (Fresh are best cut in ½” cubes, but you can use drained canned chopped.)  black olives, chopped green or red pepper and crumble one container of traditional Feta cheese (in brine, but drained).  Most important ingredients  Season generously with sea salt.  are 2 TBSP. cumin and about ½-1 C. chopped fresh cilantro.

If the pasta seems dry, add more olive oil.  Can be served immediately or later.  Reheat just until it’s warm.  Either way it is delicious.



11:23 am edt          Comments

Friday, April 9, 2010

Long lost friends.


            Scanning the obituaries has become a daily habit.  A few weeks ago I saw that one of my grade school teachers had died, but usually I breathe a sigh of relief because rarely is there a familiar name.  Maybe this silly response suggests that there’s still time….  Today a familiar name jumped out at me.

            Larry is dead.  Why should it matter?  We haven’t seen one another in more years than I can recall, but when I saw his name and read the lovely tribute in the newspaper I could actually conjure up his big smiling face in my mind’s eye.  It was because of Larry that my life and that of my ex-husband's changed course in positive ways.  Larry introduced us to things we might never have discovered on our own and for this I’m grateful.  I remember him fondly for he was fun, he was flamboyant, he was smart and generous, but most of all he was a kind person.  The world needs more kind people.

            Thinking about this long lost friend has made me more aware of how important it is to tell others how much they mean or the influence they have had.  I hope I won’t soon forget this revelation.  I hope I will speak my gratitude and appreciation to those who matter, rather than regret my silence when they are gone.  

            As Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”



5:45 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Meet Julie.


            In yesterdays blog I misidentified Julie’s eye condition.  What she has is mild vertical nystagmus which is apparently not uncommon in human babies and young children.  According to ophthalmology sites  it can even resolve itself although the vet did not suggest this.

            A new puppy in the house helps one see the world differently, especially when the new puppy sees the world differently.  As I watch Julie discover her environment I know that this dog was meant to come here.  She is safe and happy and seems to have several guardian angels looking out for her.

            Ted and Ernie are such good boys even though Ted has already claimed some of the new toys.  They stick close to her as we walk the woods and fields.  It’s wonderful to see Julie running with such abandon, her big velvet ears flapping and her oversized feet plopping through the tall grass.  As I watch my happy dogs I hear the pathetic four o’clock bugling of the beagle on the corner. He has been tethered to a plastic dog house since he was Julie’s age.  It’s been three long years and judging from his predecessors he has about seven or eight more years to endure being ignored. In the beginning he cried all the time, but now he’s silent until four when the wife at this place delivers his daily rations.   “Pet owners” like this make me sick.  I considered stealing him, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get away with it, so he remains a prisoner of the lazy indifferent family.

            Julie spent her first night in the laundry room with toys, food, water and a nice dog bed.  Quiet as a mouse she slept until morning and didn’t even have an accident.  She’s just a dear little thing and while she may not grow up to be a star Frisbee player like Ted or a raving beauty, I think she is perfect.

            Sunshine and warm breezes have been replaced by dark gloomy skies and chilly rain.  Snow is even predicted, so I’ve picked the beautiful jonquils to brighten the kitchen rather than see them ruined in the garden.



7:17 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yet another surprise.


         When I was four years old I fell and hit the back of my head on the cement sidewalk.  Three days later when my right eye turned in my mother took me to the ophthalmologist who informed her that the muscle was permanently damaged.  I was issued a one-size-fits-no one pair of giant pink plastic glasses that covered most of my little face, but the lenses pulled my crossed eye almost straight (but not quite…). 

            It seemed my fate was sealed.  I’ve worn glasses or contacts ever since.  Even with the corrective lenses my right eye was always sort of looking left and I saw two of everything with no depth perception at all.  After forty years a marvelous doctor said, “I can fix that.”  He did and while I still wear contacts, my eyes are straight and I only see half as much as I did most of my life—a very good thing to have single rather than double vision!  I also now have some depth perception.  Since my visual challenge began at such a young age, I dealt with it and didn't give the problems it presented too much thought.  After all, if you never come out of the dark, you don’t know that you are blind, right?

            And so when my new rescue puppy arrived today and I saw her crossed eyes I felt an instant connection.  The half Lab-half beagle has been re-christened Julie.  Her foster mom had called her Zoe, but I don’t like that name. She’s a dear creature, but Julie and I just returned from the vet who explained that her crossed eyes are a neurological rather than an optical condition.  It’s called “mild vertical mycosis.” Her brain sends a twitching signal to her eyes which move up and down at regular intervals.  Puppy Julie has very limited vision that will not improve as she ages. 'Too bad doggie glasses couldn't help her....

            Ernie and Ted and all the kitties have accepted this special needs puppy, but they want her to romp and play.  I’m sure she will as she grows accustomed to her new home, but right now she is content to sleep next to my chair.  It’s been a very big day.

7:07 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another lovely day.


            A most-unexpected sound greeted me as I entered the barn this evening; tiny peeping noises!  The two silkie hens plus the big black Australorpe have been setting a nest of five eggs which I had marked as always noting the date the girls began their vigil—or so I thought….  I wasn’t expecting chicks for another week, so apparently some secretive setting was going on.  Two little fluff balls are busy poking about the nest with their three moms.  One is orange and the other is black with a yellow stripe on its head.  Three more eggs to hatch….

            Earlier in the day there was great commotion in the barnyard and I knew just what the frantic squawking meant.  I raced from the house grabbing the lunge whip on my way out the door.  Not a chicken to be seen and by the time I reached the gate the racket had subsided.  The alert sent out by the roosters had ordered, “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, BOYS!  IT’S THE HAWK.  Oh, and you hens might want to hide too….”

            Roosters are utterly useless as flock guardians.  In the chicken world, it’s every guy for himself (guy being the key word). In the barnyard a huge pile of yellow feathers punctuated the bright green grass and it seemed certain that one of the hens had flown the coop with the help of the red-tailed raptor.  Certainly she must be gone or at least seriously injured judging from the clump of feathers, but a head count showed no losses and more amazingly, no sign of injury on any of the girls, so all is well.

            Again today I had a flurry of visitors.  Keep in mind that this place is on the road to nowhere, so it’s not as if folks just happened to be in the neighborhood.  Visits are deliberate.  I’m not complaining at all.  In fact I’m very honored.  Maybe people just like to sit on the brick porch and watch the dogs show off down at the pond, pet the pesky cats and forget about their troubles for a while.  The warm sun and a brisk westerly breeze made this a perfect day and place to do just that, but these visits reminded me of growing up on Fifth street.

            The German-Italian neighborhood consisted of big houses all built around 1910-1920.  They sat little more than spitting distance apart, each with just enough yard for a nice sized vegetable garden and a few big trees.  None of the men on the street had a white collar job and none of the women worked.  Everyone knew everyone else’s business and people popped in and out of one another’s homes without knocking and usually without any real reason for the visit.  It was just the way things were. 

            The wooden screen door would slam and my mother would automatically unscrew the lid on the jar of Taster’s Choice that sat on a tray in the middle of the kitchen table, spoon some of the crystals that were supposed to taste like coffee into ugly pink melimac cups and set out a plate of cookies (home-baked, of course) while the water boiled for the instant brew.  It seems a million years ago.  Who would even think of serving instant coffee nowadays!



7:40 pm edt          Comments

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring has sprung.


            What a day!  Although the temperatures have been mild for about a week, it seems that the natural world only responded en masse today.  Bickering robins tempted the cats as did a young garter snake.  Randy Rooster and his fellow fowl did their best to ensure propagation of their species.  In other words, it was a gang rape that made me very grateful not to be a chicken! 

            Bluebirds were everywhere.  What a delight.  I have dozens of birdhouses, six of which are specifically for bluebirds.  It seems every house has been claimed.  As I walked through the barnyard one of these beautiful creatures sat on a branch just above my head.  I stopped and offered a poor imitation of its twitter and it responded.  What an unexpected reward!

            Several visitors dropped by, but somehow I finished the skunk article.  Such interesting creatures they are.  If you have any interest at all in these beautiful animals I urge you to mark your calendars for Skunk Fest.

            Overnight flies have appeared in the barnyard, but this year I’m ready for the disgusting critters.  I’ve learned that a zip-lock bag filled with water and a few pennies, positioned at entry-ways will discourage flies.  I plan to post these baggies tomorrow.  One scientific explanation for why this works is that the “…millions of molecules of water presents its own prism effect and given that flies have a lot of eyes, to them it's like a zillion disco balls reflecting light, colors and movement in a dizzying manner.”  I’ll report on the success (or failure) of this deterrent later.

            If anyone has a suggestion for dealing with the fake ladybug invasion, please send it.  Every day I collect dozens of these stinky impersonators and send them outside.  They smell, they bite and they are not welcome in my home!

            Other than the unwelcome bugs, life is good.  A bouquet of daffodils brightens my kitchen and it seems everywhere I look outside there is something in bloom.  Spring is my favorite season!


9:41 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Write NOW!


            People ask me, “When do you write?” Unlike some famous writers who swear they get up at 3:00 AM and write until noon or midnight, my schedule is somewhat flexible, but I usually work in the morning until about 1:00 PM. Unless I’m really inspired or under the gun for a deadline, I don’t write on the weekends.  And so the skunk story is still unfinished.  Tomorrow will definitely be crunch time.

            It was just too nice to sit at this computer when there were endless things to do outside, including hacking more multiflora rose.  While lopping away at the thorny canes I spotted a flash of gray amidst the ground cover and went to investigate.  It was a half-buried Blatz beer can.  What a name for a beer!  Then I remembered my friend Tom (from whom I bought this farm) telling me about a friend of his who was down on her luck back in the '60's and had spent several weeks camped in this area, apparently drinking Blatz to lift her spirits.  After all these years Blatz has reappeared, but I doubt that you could find it in a store.  Another can for the recycle bin….

            Late afternoon T. and I took our kayaks to the lake that’s only about ten minutes from here.  We can toss the little boats into the truck in seconds and be on the water in no time at all. At this time of day the water is smooth as glass. It's lovely to paddle back into some of the little bays and watch the wildlife or read.  In one bay I counted ten slider turtles sunning themselves in pairs on half submerged logs.

            Several small islands dot the lake. Here and along the shoreline were countless pairs of nesting Canada geese.  In all cases the goose (female) sat on a nest so effectively camouflaged it was almost invisible as the gander strutted and kept guard.  About every five minutes great commotion broke out. It would begin with ear-splitting honking as two ganders raced across the water with their necks low to the surface. They went after one another with fervor it seemed certain a fight would break out, but it was just a bluff warning of dire consequences should the opponent ever venture close again.  Then, as abruptly as the challenge began it would end and the two bickering boys would stroll along the shore side by side as if nothing at all had happened.  It was fun to watch them, but the racket was relentless. As one encounter ended, another began.

            This was a perfect day, enjoyed by all the critters here too.  The donkeys are beginning to shed out their winter coats, so I'm grooming them daily, but as soon as I put the brushes away they head for a good roll in the dirt as Andy demonstrates. 

9:00 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Springtime surprises.


            I tend to take things for granted, so as long as whatever the tool happens to be continues to perform, I pay little attention to the fact that maybe I should be thinking about replacing it.  So it was today with both of the wheelbarrows.  I’m afraid they are shot!

            This revelation came about when I got the bright idea to use the fiberglass wheelbarrow as a wash tub to soak a couple of small rugs.  I scrubbed it out, filled it with cold water and the laundry product, patted myself on the back for being so clever and then added the two little rugs.  The intention was to soak them all afternoon, but it seems the bolts that hold the barrow to the frame have rusted and loosened, but not so they could be tightened.  Oh no, that will never be possible as they are as good as welded in position.  The water ran out almost as fast I put it in. So much for the portable wash tub.

            As I tried to fix the rusty bolt issue I noticed the tire was more than a little mushy. No wonder it was getting hard to push since it seems to leak air as much as the tub leaked water.  Maybe it has a hole in it.  Either way, the “good” wheelbarrow is in need of some serious repairs or better yet, replacement.  Then I remembered that my mom gave this to me for my birthday the first year I lived here, so that makes it about twenty years old.  We’ve both worked hard here and had a good life.

            The barn wheelbarrow weighs as much as a car. The bed has some rusted holes in it and that tire is also soft.  I hate to discard anything that still has a bit of life in it, so unless I happen to find replacements for some incredible bargain price, maybe at a rummage sale, I’ll probably continue to cobble these two back together, or maybe marry them and have one good one. 

            A few years ago I bought a heavy-duty dolly at a garage sale with the intention of using it to haul heavy feed sacks up to the barn.  IF there were a paved pathway to the barn, this thing would have done a stellar job, but trying to pull it along the bumpy ground was more difficult than picking up the sack and carrying it.  Today I hauled it out to the road with a FREE sign on it and it was gone in an hour.  I hope it makes life easier for its new owner.  I’m glad it’s gone.

            I’ve also been taking my rugs to the car wash.  An Oriental rug dealer showed me how he washed them with a high pressure sprayer.  Until then I had been laboriously hauling them out to the porch, soaking them with the hose, scrubbing them with Woolite and a brush and then wrestling them over the railing for a time-consuming final rinse and dry.  Mr. Squeaky Car Wash has been a godsend!  After vacuuming the rugs topside, upside down, then topside once again I throw them in the bed of the truck and head to Mr. Squeaky with a fistful of quarters.

            The concrete is clean, sloped so the dirty water drains away rather than pooling and while I’m sure the soap in the “wash” cycle is not Woolite, it still does a dandy job.  I can do several rugs for about $6.00. Back home I still have to wrestle the heavy sodden rugs over the railing to dry, but it’s much easier than the old way and yesterday I recruited friend R. so the task was manageable.  They are already dry enough this afternoon to bring inside. The colors are bright and they smell great.  Only seven more to go….

            So, it’s been a busy day of spring cleaning, but I found these pretty yellow flowers growing along the roadside and just had to stop and take their picture. It resembles coltsfoot, I don't think it is because the foliage is different.


6:39 pm edt          Comments

Friday, April 2, 2010


            My not-quite-secret admirer left a present for me today.  It was hard to miss the big white bag hanging on the gate early this morning and I knew before I walked out to retrieve it that it was from Kenny. 

            In today’s grab bag was a 2010 hunting calendar put out by an Amish meat processor.  Each month portrayed some poor game animal prior to being snuffed, stuffed and mounted for wall decoration.  The meat processor also does taxidermy.       

            And there was Andy Weaver's catalog (another Amish concern) from which I could purchase a pocket watch for $49.95 along with other oddities.  I was pleased to see that Kenny had included the current issue of The Budget in the bag.  This weekly paper serves to inform Amish communities worldwide what is going on in each state.  Every Amish district has a designated scribe who is responsible for submitting all the births, deaths, fires, accidents, etc.  It’s actually great fun to read this publication. 

            Also included were several other fliers and mini-catalogs as well as two containers of mine in which I’d delivered soup or pie or something to Kenny months ago. Topping off this array of goodies was a large chunk of Guggisburg cheese. 

            I’m sure that every neighborhood, rural or urban has its eccentrics, but I think Kenny tops the list out here. How many people are lucky enought to come home and find a wagon wheel, forty loaves of past-its-prime spelt bread or a bag of treats like today’s delivery?  Kenny is pushing 90 years old.

6:39 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No April fool.