Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Good-byes are hard...

I still watch for him to run to the door to meet me when I come in.

I miss him stretched across my legs in the bed, nailing me down, and grumping if I move One Bit.

I am lonely for the little guy who sat on the edge of the tub for 20 years, dipping his tail and drinking (bleh) bath water.

I can't eat without looking down to give him one little taste of whatever I have.

I am lonesome beyond all words for my little boy; Wookie died on Friday after a courageous battle with bone cancer. The last few weeks, I hand fed him every bite he ate. The last two days, he couldn't drink, so I held him like a baby and fed him from a dropper. He was in no pain; he wanted to be near me where ever I was -- to the point of sitting in the windows and watching me weed the flowerbeds. He would call until I came back in and held him for a bit. Then, he was satisfied. His final day, he stayed out on the porch, enjoying the outside smells, sights, and sounds. I held him as he died.

The Mister hand dug (no backhoe for this one, he said) the grave over near Kashi, his pal who died several years ago. I placed my little guy, wrapped in the blanket I knit for him and with his cursed brush (how he hated it!) in a hardy storage box covered with roses. We rolled a ginormous quartz stone over his grave, reminding me a bit of Emerson's stone. Many years from now, archeologists will know he was deeply loved.

For 20 years he has been with me and I am so sad and miss him so much. I catch myself looking at the place where his litter box has been for all this time -- checking the place where his food bowl has been most of his life. I am reminded of a quote from Aunt Jane of Kentucky, "Look at this quilt. How can it still be here, but the hand that made it not?" I know he was "just a cat", but to me, he was so much more. He was the tangible connection to the past. He was someone I could love without reservation, without guard. While he would feign his annoyance with the whole petting and kissing thing, he loved it and I know it.

A friend said to me that it was unkind that God allowed our pets to pass before us. It is true; it is unkind. But I keep hoping that when I get to the other side, God lets me have the animals I have buried. If not, would it be heaven? We were created to care for these creatures of God; surely He will allow us to continue. I hope so.

Good night, my little man.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Indifferent Monarch: Mr. Wookie

My little man is very sick with bone cancer which started in his jaw and is spreading. I noticed he was drooling some in his sleep and thought a tooth was bothering him, so I took him to the vet for a check-up. We don't go often; he isn't sick, usually, and, since we started him on a special diet for bladder stones, he never goes.

The first visit it was decided to treat him for an infection in spite of the fact that he had no fever and no sign of infection in the mouth. Ten days later, the lump was worse. Since then, he had an x-ray which revealed the spreading cancer in his jaw.

He was given pain meds and sent home to wait to die, "probably within 21 days... during which time he will be in agony."

This was six weeks ago. He has not been in pain, that we can tell (no crying, trembling, balling up, or isolation); he still wants to eat (although that is getting harder as his jaw is now out of alignment and I am hand feeding him four times a day);  he still wants to sleep on me and to taste my food -- just in case it was better than his. In short, he is normal except for the whole jaw thing.

During these weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to know when to let him go. No one should love an animal as I do him. I hold him, kiss him, stroke him, talk with him, feed him from my plate, carry him, wash him, and generally act a fool over him. It might be his indifference to me that keeps me challenged in this one-sided relationship, but I just can't show him how much I love him. Stupid, isn't it? Yet, I do.

I know the day will come when he will no longer be able to drink or will be in pain and I will have to release him. Unlike the roosters, I don't want to see him go. Ever. Yet, I know he will. And, when that day comes, I will lock myself in the bathroom, cry until I am sick, and then bury him wrapped in the blanket I knit him. But,until then, I will enjoy every minute I can with this indifferent monarch.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Time and Second Chances

Daddy was 80 this week; he and Mother celebrated 58 years together as well. It is my late-50-something time of being his first child on Father's Day. I realize that time is, pardon the pun, fleeting. I hear the chorus from "Rocky Horror" singing, "Time is fleeting.... let's do the time warp again..." There just isn't enough of it.

Time has been plaguing me lately. I want more and have no control over it. It fills itself with things that don't contribute to happiness. It ticks away quite contentedly while I run like a crazy woman trying to smash Every Single Thing into that I can. I won't live forever. No one does. Not on this Earth anyhow...

Years ago I was in a terrible car accident that should have left me dead. I remember skidding down the mountain side, watching the inside of my car turn white and feeling myself lifting away. I called out, "God! Please! Don't let me die tonight! I have so many things I need to finish! So many things I want to accomplish! I want to see my son grown! He can't miss the prom!" (It was prom weekend --- you know how important those things are...) A pair of unseen hands grabbed me by the forearms and shoved me backwards as the window shield exploded from the trees breaking over the car.

When the car stopped, it was possible to tell that it had been a car, but not much more. It hit with such force that it knocked the license plate off the back and the trunk flew open. The front seats were in the back; the back seats were in the trunk. My shoes were never found. Remarkably, the only injuries I had were air bag burns on my left hand where I tried to protect my face from the bag as it exploded (my glasses didn't fair so well), bruises from the knees down where the dash hit me as it pushed in, torn tendons in my right foot, and bruises from unseen hands. (The hospital staff took pictures of them to document the fingerprint bruises....)

The ambulance had removed me before the police arrived, so I didn't talk with the policeman on duty until I was naked on a CAT scan being checked for internal injuries. He blew in the door, wrapped his arms around me and cried like a girl. "I knew I was having to make a death call tonight! I don't know how you survived. It is a miracle!" he wept. I showed him my arms to confirm the miracle part.... and he smiled, apologized for rushing in as he had, and then left to call my son.

That was 15 years ago this past January. Sometimes I wonder why I was given this second chance. What was I supposed to do? It is rather like "It's a Wonderful Life." We don't know what difference we may have made or where, but we hope we have. As I listened to my parents talk this past week, reflecting on their lives together and their goals met or not, I realized that it really isn't about ticking off this or that on a list. It is about making the best use of what gifts one has and not about using time well. Time can't win that one. Ever.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Wartime Guide

Doreen Wallace is a new author to me. I discovered this little gem at the National Archives when I was there in April. The Archives has a fascinating exhibit on how the government impacts food supplies; while much of the exhibit focused on wartime gardening, it called to mind how important it is that we continue to garden and grow as much of our food as we can.

I think about this little garden in Okinawa:

This is looking down from The Airman family's balcony. You can see the little bit of earth turned up near the center of the photo and the emerging garden in front of it. Every day at the same time, this little man shuffled out with his shovel and dug for 30 minutes. I timed him and watched (wonder what he would think about being stalked by an old American woman??) him carefully turned every shovelful under as he methodically worked his way back and forth through the garden. By the end of the week, he had turned the entire plot and was planting. Everywhere we went, there were lush gardens -- even on patios and porches. When the tide went out, people would be in the tidal basins with hand woven baskets gathering seaweed and shellfish for dinner. No wonder they live so long; they are close to the Earth and eat what she provides without over processing.

This is all to say that I am enjoying the book; it is written tongue-in-cheek about the City Farmers and their experiments with gardening; and, it has many references to the War, which was just starting, in England in 1940, which displays the heavy awareness of the severity of the coming War. The author reminds her reader that while we want to believe The Government will care for our needs, ultimately it is up to each of us to do our part. Although the message is more than 70 years old, it is still true today. We should garden for our needs as much as we can. Instead of lush yards, what if we grew food? We'd be richer, healthier, and have a better quality of life as a result. All the more reason to get our hands dirty....

Friday, June 7, 2013

Some days...

... things won't post right.... Grrr...

Imagine, if you will, the slope behind my house. Now, imagine just a bit more. There's a little 4 x4 raised bed filled with delicious "tea" herbs --- mint, lemon balm, bee balm, and lavender. Isn't it darling? Can you just imagine how good a cuppa will be from my little tea garden?

Now, do you see what makes me say, "grrrrr..."??? My picture won't upload. At. All.

But trust me, the little tea garden is precious! I just hope to find a little piece of statuary to put in it.. Maybe a fairy?? I'll be keeping my eyes open for one!

Now, imagine another bed next to it filled with fresh, lovely year-old compost from the barn. It has lettuce planted in it. Old fashioned lettuces for us, thank you. Nothing too fancy pants for this old farm girl. Mr. Bunny can't wait for it to come up. He is like me; we are tired of store bought and the weather hasn't been very nice for growing lettuces, yet.

A little cold frame is going up next to these two raised beds so Bunny and I will have lettuce from now on....

If only you could see it... I'll try again later to post pictures...

In the meantime, let's go get our hands dirty, shall we??

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Canning Roosters

Last time I ordered chickens, I messed up and didn't click the "hens only" choice. As fate would have it, we ended up with 20 roosters out of the 50 hens I thought I ordered. We decided that we could can them, however, and that all would be fine.

That was last fall.

All winter I fed these monsters. They fought. They drove my hens crazy. Even when I put them in the "Green Mile" lot, they managed to bribe Louie into escaping his lot and tearing up their fence so they could escape. I think they told him about the trash can of scratch in their lot... Anyhow, there was just no keeping them in and away from the hens. Or me. I was flogged more than I can count, dirty rascals.

I grew to hate these guys. Hate. Them. My poor hens were denuded of feathers. They would gang up on one and assault her, sometimes until she was nearly dead. I'd beat them off with sticks, kick them away, spray them with the water hose, anything to get them to leave the gals alone. I've even been known to grab them by the tail feathers and jerk them out of the henhouse in order to give the girls some relief. Yet, somehow, these nasty roosters would scale the fence and be right back in there.

I really hated them.

I kept looking for someone to kill them. I just couldn't. No matter how much I hated them, I couldn't do it. Twice we thought we had someone, but then something would come up and I'd still have roosters. Finally, though, last week, I found a willing soul and made an execution date. They would die on Sunday.

The Mister and I caught them on Saturday night, put them in the largest dog carriers in the truck bed to wait for their last ride. I admit it; all the way to the other farm, I was saying, "Dead rooster walking on the Green Mile!" It felt good.

Two hours later, we had roosters in the cooler and ready for canning. Roosters are tough, even when they have been grain fed and free range, so we first boiled them for nearly an hour in salty water. Then, they were deboned and the meat put in pint jars and processed for 75 minutes.

While I am not in the mood for rooster right now, I know that come winter, there will be some mighty fine chicken and dumplings, chicken pot pie, and chicken gravy! And the girls? They were calm, happy, and looking so much better yesterday. I guess even chickens wish they didn't have males around sometimes....

Friday, May 31, 2013

There Should Be Pictures

And there will be. But, for now, words will have to do.

Things are super busy at the farm getting ready for, gulp, winter already. The garden isn't in; we are still having temps in the 40s, but I have determined that this weekend it will go in and either rot in the ground or overcome the cool nights.

Firewood is being gathered. Last winter we had nearly enough, but not quite. I ended up buying two loads of wood at the end of the season. While it was still cheaper than using propane or kerosene, it was too much money when we have so many fallen trees at our chainsaw's end! So, more wood stacked now to dry will lead to better economy in the winter! As a sidebar to that, it is hay season and we have already brought in our first trailer load.

We have four kids this season -- three bucklings and one doe. They are all within a few weeks of age, so they play together so sweetly. This morning it is "king of the rock" and this afternoon it will be "king of the trees." They nudge, push, and leap on each other until they collapse and down they go for a quick snooze! They are so like human babies  -- it is a hoot!

All the grading and excavating is done. Water is at the barn! Hooray! The drive has been extended to the back door -- honestly -- why didn't I do that years ago!?? So much easier on me! The ditch has been piped and filled in (no more snakes there!) and the huge dirt pile is gone! It makes me smile every time I come home to see so much cleaned up out there! Now, to the planting and re-landscaping of the yard!

New doors have been ordered for the house. My 100-year-old doors finally started to split; it has broken my heart, but I managed to find a contractor who would custom build them for me. They have the same look and, yes, they will be purple! Can't wait for that!

And, lastly, we have a project of mega-excitement getting ready to take off -- I hope. We had a lot of damage on seven acres around the creek from all the flooding this spring. The U.S. Soil and Water Conservation Department has grants for creek bank repair and remediation. As a part of this, we will get a new line fence to keep cattle and other livestock out of the creek, hardwoods on either side of the creek, a well for our animals, and, we hope, a bridge to the back three acres. As it is a grant, we will be responsible for maintenance for 15 years. Easy peasy! As a sidebar, you remember the artifacts I share from time-to-time? It appears we may have a Native American camp site or other site along the creek. The State Cultural Anthropologist will visit, do few little digs to assure that we are not disturbing anything, and then issue a blessing. It is all so fascinating! Beginning farmers have so many options, if they will just get to know their Farm Service Agent. Of course, I will have my camera working by then and be able to document what happens here.

So, we have been covered up, over, and around this summer, but what fun we are having! Pictures next time!

What are you into these days?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Fever

It is snowing as I type; the flakes look as if they are dancing as they float through the air. We are just on the fringe of a major snow storm. While the rest of our county will only see a dusting, we could have the full eight inches forecasted for today and tomorrow. My pansies look hopeful, but limp. Sigh.

Spring break for me has typically been a time to catch up and clean. This break is no exception. This morning I worked on the information for taxes. I have a terrible system. It is called "a box." Works. Sort of. But, then there is the day spent sorting, tabulating, and crying to straighten it all out. Filing doesn't work for me. And, I am terrible with a ledger (after all, I teach English, not Math) and just the though of it makes me break out in hives. So, I have hit on a new cunning plan for this year. I am setting up a binder with plastic page protectors in categories with a ledger sheet in front for each. When I come home with a receipt, it will go in the correct pocket and be entered in the ledger. The notebook is going on the bookshelf at the front door where I am in the habit of using "the box." Since I love, love, love notebooks (it is the teacher in me, I know), I think this will work. We will sort it out at the end of the year and see how it worked.

So, in my effort to get it all arranged and work through taxes, I have gone through all my warranties and manuals and put them in notebooks by category as well. As good as I could get was to have all the outside stuff in one and the inside in the other notebook. It is then sorted by type / room (all kitchen stuff together and so forth). Much, much better already and, I hope, cleaner. And, I have cleared out all the manuals for things that don't exist any longer (why didn I think a rice cooker was a good idea? One use and that one was gone... goo all over the counter from where it boiled over. Bleh.)

Next up is to print labels for the linen and cleaning closet baskets. That was cleaned on Saturday and I spent yesterday playing with my Cricut making label backings and with Excel making labels to attach and then laminate. Ah, that is the joy of organization ---- the great toys!

How are you dealing with spring fever?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Safe -- And Spring! All in One Day!

Happy, Happy Spring!
Pansies are Nature's Most Perfect Flowers, aren't they, with their pretty faces smiling at one?
Joyful news! The Airman is out of danger and back to a somewhat saner world (Thank you, Lord!). I don't think it will ever be completely sane, given what he does for a living, but that is okay. At least people aren't shooting at him anymore. Trust me; the irony of this being the first day of Spring and feeling like I can live again is not wasted on me!

So, on the agenda, my dears, for this coming week of Spring Break (Thank you, Lord!) is a lot of soap making -- I have some new molds that I can't wait to use -- journal making, dream pillow making, and some good clean reading that I don't have to do! Sprinkle into that mix a little heavy duty cleaning and a good snow storm in the forecast and you have, my friends, the making of a super Spring Break. I don't have to go anywhere or do anything except breathe! I like it! Yes, yes, I do!

Since last we spoke, Miss Clarice surprised us with triplets --- but, sadly, one died at birth. The other two, Chloe and Coty are darling little guys. Miss Chloe will most likely stay with us as she is a full Alpine. And, gorgeous beyond all words! And, Miss Cissie, the hussie, presented us with Ceafus. He is a cutie pie who springs around and has this charming habit of waiting to be petted and hugged... and carried! Lazy to the bone, that boy is. I'll try for pictures this week to share... just like a bragging M'Dear (I refuse to ever be called "Grandma"!)

Mr. Louie, the buck, has turned to some nasty behavior as of late. He has taken to head butting us to the point that we have to carry a small stick or switch to keep him from doing it. I suspect it is because he is in rut and the does are not having any part of it. And, Moe and March have managed to master Houdini's escape tricks and will NOT stay in their fence. So, he has no one to impress with his masculinity. Oh, add that to the Spring Break list. Rats. Fix fence. Done.

Life is very busy these days with teaching and farm. Teaching, mostly, truth be told. I foolishly accepted one more class than I should have. This has resulted in seven classes (two extra) and 181 students. It feels as though all I do is read email and put out fires... but we are only four, count 'em, four weeks from end of semester (after break). And, given so many folks are out of work these days, I am grateful for my job. (*Repeat until you believe it!).

The goats are calling and the chickens are, too! Off to the salt mines, er, feeding!

Have a glorious week!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


In ten days, my Airman will be on sandless ground. Then, I will begin to breath, sleep, and live again. This has been the longest six months of my life. At least when I was pregnant with him, I could feel his movements and knew Just Where He Was. These months, I haven't. It has been tough. I think that is part of why I have shut down for nearly the past year. I haven't been able to bear anyone asking about him because I would force back tears. Is that understandable?

The Airman said that seeing the two HumVees in front of you hit a land mine changes how you see the world. It changes for the Mum of said Airman as well. I have always seen life as a series of ticking boxes: house, check; husband, check; college, check; job, check; check, check, check. I have a tendency to be too busy... to try to do too many things in too short  a time. Thus, nothing is a pleasure. It is a check mark. It is D O N E.

My Airman has taught me that it is the moment that matters. To slow down and really savor what one is doing Right Now. To stop and look at the frost on the windshield before I scrape it off; savor the berries I pop in my mouth; sip my tea; and, just be. I have learned to say "no" to the things I don't really want to do. It isn't because I don't want to be with someone, see something, go somewhere. It is that I want to be more focused and less rushed. Less busy. And I have started, when someone says, "I know you are busy..." to stop them right there and say, "yes, I am, but thank you." It feels good.

In 21 days, hopefully, my Airman will be flying through this continent long enough that I can see him somewhere, hug him a million times, and try not to cry while doing it. He hates for me to cry. "Ah, Mum, be cool. It's not that big of deal," he'll say. And I will reply, "Hush, sir. I am busy savoring the moment."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mr. Brown

It seems we have a new family member: Mr. Brown.

Mother and I rescued him this morning from the roadside where he, apparently, had been waiting for someone to come back for him. Daddy had seen him there before which is why we assume this is the case. He had not moved more than a few feet in days.

A lovely golden brown, Mr. Brown is a hounddog of some sort and should weigh about 70-80 pounds. He weighs 36. He couldn't stand or walk. I carried him to the car; on the way, we became best friends because he peed on me. A lot. On my new coat.

The vet checked him out and he seems healthy, just starved. When left, he was still eating and drinking, drinking and eating, and stopping to wag his tail at the vet techs taking care of him. He will be at the clinic for a few days. If his kidneys are okay, he will most likely join us at Lazy Bee Farm. That is, if Moosie and Anabel agree. They make the final choice.

I do not understand why people get pets and then decide they cannot or do not want to care for them. Moosie was 50 pounds underweight when we got him; Anabel was abused and anti-social. Waldo, the cat, was dumped on my friend Donna. And Mr. Bunnie was set out probably because he was no longer the cute little Easter bunny some kid got. Wookie was a four week old abandoned kitten.

There have been times when we have had up to ten cats, all spayed, neutered, and immunized, that became part of our family when they had been set out. The worst case was a Momma and her pups, all eight of 'em, that were set out here. We couldn't keep them. Just too many dogs, but we did find her a foster home so she and the pups were cared for until they got their forever home.

I fear, as times get harder, that more animals will be set out. As it is now, there are horses being set loose in our local federal parks, goats dropped off in fields where there are other goats, and, even chickens showing up yards. This is far and away, to me, demonstrates how difficult times are; it is bad enough to find a dog or cat, but farm animals? What is this world coming to?

Anyhow, welcome to the family, Mr. Brown!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


 Having way too much fun these days with finding and finishing projects.

These little guys were up in the wardrobe...
I remember buying the cheater cloth and thinking I'd make them...
a few years ago!
So, I have stitched up the little pillows...

And then I stitched up two little banners from the smaller pillows...
And rummaged through my buttons and found these cunning guys...
Lots and lots of heart buttons in the stash, some vintage and some not...

And then I decided it was time to commit
to a project I have wanted to do for some time...
knit through Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitter's Alamanac" in one year...
So I have cast on the January project, "An Aran For You", and started it.
This is some wonderful
local natural Corriedale worsted that I bought at SAFF,
oh, about the same time I bought the cheater cloth...
enough said...
And, I finished this darling shawlette from my very first handspun.
This does not favor to the cherry red yarn,
but, for some reason,
the camera doesn't want to show that pretty, pretty colour.

And, I am listening to this guy. Remember him?
I feel so productive and homey! What are you working on these days?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rest in Reason.. Move in Passion

Last year I whined A Lot.
This year, I am not.
I read something that has really stuck
with me:
Don't set goals.
Do what makes you happy.
Do what you have a passion to do.
That really made the most sense
of anything I have read in a long time.
The word for this year?
I think you guessed it.
Rest in reason; move in Passion.
     ~~ Khalil Gibran
Our passions are the winds
that propel our vessel.
Our reason is the pilot that steers her.
Without winds the vessel would not move and without a pilot she would be lost.
   ~~ Proverbs
It is the soul's duty to be loyal
to its own desires.
It must abandon itself
to its master passion.
  ~~ Rebecca West
Here's to a Passionate New Year!