Monday, December 10, 2018

Best not to compare

What I get done is laughable compared to other bloggers, but I felt really good about washing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom this weekend. So good, in fact, that I rewarded myself with a new bookshelf to keep everything I want close by my favorite chair. Top shelf has a basket of yarn, jar of needles and a salt lamp. Next down is a stack of knitting and sketch books, knit kit, pencils, scissors and current project yarn. Down again is kleenix, remotes, current project, kindle and gun (in case the zombies break in suddenly). Bottom shelf holds more knitting books and open space for other items I haven't thought of yet.

My other reward for such amazing accomplishments (cough, cough) was starting a new knitting project and watching Flambards. Of course, now the theme song is running constantly in my head.

Does anyone have a convenient way to store circular knitting needles? I looked online and really like the idea of a cloth container with pouches marked with the needle sizes, but the ones I found  seemed either overpriced or shipped from China at such a low price it did not bode well.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

And so on

I haven't posted in a while; not really a lot of fun stuff to report: winter, work, bad cold, blah blah blah.

I trapped an opossum in the chicken coop on an evening when my son was home, so he shot it for me. Yay!

I've been knitting an ear warmer/headband for my mom. About halfway through I realized I misread the instructions; instead of size 10 needles, it said UK10 which should have been size 3. Being too stubborn to start over, I will have to figure out a way to double it up so it doesn't end up looking like a hat with a hole in the top.

Tonight I feel equal measures of virtuous and rebellious: I ate a lettuce salad made from romaine bought the day before the recall. Honestly, I'm not at all worried about illness; none of the reported cases were anywhere near me, 43 illnesses out of how many millions of lettuces eaten is pretty good odds and I'm the only one at risk since my son doesn't eat lettuce willingly.

Oh, yes, a weather update: we were forecast to have an ice storm followed by snow with blizzard type winds. The news has been howling about it for days. And we got...no ice and a dusting of snow. At least they were right about the winds, but it's not that cold so even those don't seem so terrible.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Veterans

I've been watching Band of Brothers.

It's difficult to describe the feelings I have between this and Veteran's Day. One of my customers fought in WWII. The interviews at the beginning of each episode with the men being depicted in the show brings it to life more than any other method. Normandy was bad enough, but Bastogne...something about observing the cold, hunger and fear while I sit here listening to the wood burning in the stove and knit a hat; indescribable.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Well, poo

That was a very short adjustment time for the onset of winter. There's a layer of snow on the ground and the wind chill is -11F right now. I didn't realize it was so cold while I was doing chores and thought I was just being a wimp.

The chickens were not pleased and opted to stay inside their coops. Outside the pen, my yard is a crisscrossing maze of rabbit tracks. At least I know they can't reach my fruit trees and strip the bark off.

On the positive side, this hard freeze will let the farmers get out and harvest more of the corn.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Adjusting for winter

Yesterday rained; all.day.long.

Today is gray, cold and windy. The forecast is cloudy or mostly cloudy for the next week and today is one of the warmest days with an expected high of 35F. I know this is better than dropping straight down to single digit temps, but it is so hard to stay upbeat.

I need to put away 300 lbs of chicken feed now. Brrrr

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 30

Iris humphed crabbily at the television before fumbling at the remote control for the power button. "People are too soft."

Susan climbed to her feet, resisting the urge to groan; scrubbing the floor was her least favorite chore. "What do you mean, Iris?"

Her charge turned away petulantly, "Where's Grace? She would understand."

Moving to sit so she could converse at eye level, Susan reminded her, "Grace has a doctor's appointment this morning. She promised to stop by as soon as she comes home." Noting the hunched position of Iris's shoulders, she decided not to wait. "Did you see something disturbing?"

"Fools! Crying about not having some thingy that they can't live without. They don't know..." her voice trailed off weakly.

Seeing a tear trace down the wrinkled cheek, Susan shifted closer and patted the elderly woman's hand. "What don't they know?"

"If we didn't work, our family didn't eat. It's so hard to sleep through hunger. We tried drinking extra water before bed." Even as the vague look returned to her face, Iris shook her head, "It didn't help."

Later, Susan mentioned the conversation to Grace who closed her eyes with a pained expression, "Yes, they had that talk show on in the waiting room. Women with familes were being interviewed. So indignant at having their benefits cut back, but insisting they couldn't work because of the children.

"I'm afraid that I agree with Iris; people are too soft and protected. They think they are poor when they still have smart phones and cars and a place to live. Real poverty is hunger and cold, no doctor when ill, giving up school to work."

Susan knew she would be haunted by the bleak expression that accompanied Grace's explanation as she finished, "Worst is the despair when months and years scrape by with no hope of escape. People don't understand how bad it can be and they don't see the edges of society's safety nets are fraying."

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Random Stuff

I was sick on Wednesday and the lingering effects mean I have little appetite and feel queazy after eating. I wish I could keep the low appetite for weight loss. :)

Strange thing happened Friday: after work in the evening, my foot started to hurt. On the top towards the outer edge it became swollen and the pain became worse as the evening progressed. At 3 a.m. I got up to take half a pain pill (left over from back pain years ago) being unable to sleep. I had to wear snowboots to do morning chores because shoes were torture. After a day of ice packs and elevation, the pain went away and now my foot is back to normal. Weird.

I just read a feature on the BBC website about the Crazy Horse Memorial here in South Dakota. While Mount Rushmore is worth a visit, unless you want to see the museum, don't bother with Crazy Horse. There has been no noticable progress in the last 20 to 30 years on the monument and it can clearly be seen from the road. The general belief by those of us who live here is that the family have no intention of ever completing it. Originally estimated to take 30 years, it's been over double that.

I am finally digging up my gladiola bulbs for the winter. There are a few other things I could do, but mostly I'm ready.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Three bears...

Too hot, too cold or just right?

Out of curiosity I've kept a digital thermometer out to see what room temps are comfortable to me.

Conclusions:

Chilly: 61F/16C
Good: 65F/18C
Warm: 70F/21C

The fire went out last night and it's 61.4F inside this morning. Cool enough to make restarting the fire a priority. Eventually I will have to turn on the furnace to keep pace with the dropping outside temps, but doing so feels like giving in to winter. Yuck.

How warm do you keep your home in winter?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 29

Susan paused in front of the Job Services building, drew a deep breath and squared her shoulders before entering for the last time. After this week, she would have exhausted the available time on unemployment benefits. So many times she had wished there was a way not to come back to this depressing building that reinforced her feelings of failure, but she needed the money too much to give up on the process.

Today she had an appointment with her case-worker; basically, a pep-talk on keeping on with the job search and all the ways they could still help, except without any money. As she waited in line to let them know she was there, a familiar voice drew her attention across the room. In amazement, she spotted Diane, former co-worker and best friend, turning in job applications. Sensing her gaze, Diane looked up, flushed and shifted so her back was towards Susan.

Mind whirling with conjecture, Susan barely heard a word during her meeting and walked home in a daze. There was no time to go to the library and search for news of her old company before she would have to start Iris's supper. Grinding her teeth in frustrated curiosity, she ran upstairs for a quick shower. It wasn't until she headed back down that she laughed out loud at the realization that Diane had done her an unwitting favor by providing a distraction from her thoughts about the looming loss of most of their combined incomes at the same time.

Meanwhile, Dave finished his afternoon work at the church and went straight to the home of one of the elderly parishioners where he had been helping garden all summer. Most of the gardens had produced bumper crops, but the August heatwave and diminished stamina of the aged gardeners meant that without help, much of the bounty would have gone to waste. This evening he was helping Mr. Haskell with more salsa. Together they had already put up dozens of jars, but the plants were still in full production and Dave had learned that most of these older people considered food waste to be a sin.

Fortunately, between his youth and a summer of constant physical work, Dave had all the stamina needed to spend his evenings in hot, steamy kitchens, following directions and learning everything he could about canning. "Mr. Haskell, what are you going to do with all this salsa? There must be enough to keep you eating it everyday for years."

"Ah ha! That would be telling," waggling his bushy eyebrows expressively, he relented. "Oh, all right, I'll tell you. Everyone knows I make the best salsa so I let it slip I'd have plenty to trade. That way, nobody else bothers making any and cans the foods I don't have. For example, Joe Coutts has a grandson with a farm. He gets all the sweet corn he wants and was ready to can enough for everyone. That's easier to can so I can trade one jar of salsa for three of his corn if it was a good year."

"Sweet corn? I wonder if he would like some help with that."

Mr Haskell nodded in approval, "I'll ask him. By the way, I talked to Hank and he's agreed to pick up all your jars as you make the next food boxes delivery."

Dave sighed happily; he was being paid in jars of preserved food and had worried about how to get them all home safely. The jars of pickles alone would be a big job to move.

The older man's mood shifted and he sounded morose when he said, "I'm worried, Dave. The time might come when the church won't have food to hand out and a lot of people never had to scrimp and save every penny before. I wish I had planted some winter squash or pumpkins."

"I know at least two gardens with pumpkins. And the church is growing acorn squash. Don't worry about that, at least." Even as he spoke the reassurances, a knot of dread tightened in Dave's gut at the thought of any of these good people going hungry.

Part 30

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Well, really

Carrying on with the weather theme: I'm not sure how we were supposed to translate the forecast for 20% chance of rain last night into the reality of two inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground.

Anyway, knowing yesterday was likely to be the only decent day (temps in the low 50s) I'd have off work, I had a list of things I wanted to do outside. I got through everything on the list except for emptying the rain barrel. Including, funnily, clearing the garage so I could park my car inside...which I didn't bother moving and is now draped in snow.

The chore I'm happiest to have done was heaving 300 lbs of chicken feed over the fence and put away. Normally, they charge out of the coop in the morning in a race to find yummies; today I could imagine the dialogue in their little bird brains when they saw the snow, "Aw, hell no!" And they stayed inside.

Knowing today would be colder, I planned out a day of baking. Breadsticks, zucchini bread and maybe some brownies are in the offing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Weather...grrrr

This is definitely turning out to be an oddball year weather-wise. Here, we had about one week of spring temps before it got beastly hot. Now, what has happened to autumn? The average temp in October should be in the 60s; but it's only 40 something every day for a high.

The farmers are really feeling the pain. Lots of fields still have beans, which means they haven't started on the corn yet. Add in day after day of rain, and it will have to be after the temps stay below freezing before they can finish harvesting.

One bright spot: Saturday is forecast to be in the 50s and I have the day off so will be trying to get everything done outside.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 28

Susan hummed contentedly under her breath as she kept one eye on the backgammon game Iris and Grace were playing. Knitting needles clicked rhythmically as a hat formed in her lap; word had spread about her handmade goods and orders for hats, scarves, mittens and socks kept her from any idle time. Customers provided the yarn and described what they wanted, she found patterns at the library and payment came in precious dollars or bartered food.

A side benefit from the needle work was the calming effect it had on her nerves; especially important now as the boys prepared to return to high school in the next week. Susan had received a letter from Dave's parents allowing her to act as his guardian and enroll him back at the local school. He still planned on working each day after school and weekends, but the difference in both boys' incomes would be felt.

An exasperated cry marked the end of the game as Grace leaned back in defeat. Susan smiled to herself as she considered again just how sharp Iris could be for someone who seemed to be in a mental fog.

A scene on the t.v. of a semi-truck stopped sideways on an interstate caught Grace's eye and she unmuted it. "I'm broke. None of the loads are enough to cover the cost of diesel and insurance and truck payments. If the government wants it they can come get it and fight the bank themselves."

The reporter asked, "Why are you blocking the interstate? Isn't that just hurting the other truckers?"

"They'll understand. And why? Because someone has to get the word out about who's fault this is before people are going hungry."

As the camera panned across the backed up traffic, Iris pointed out, "He must have warned his friends; there aren't any other trucks."

While they discussed the implications, the news moved on to international events. Conversation stopped with the introduction of the next segment. "Three months ago, the British government began a tough, zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration. Today we get an inside look into the internment camps and interviews with the people living there."

The program proceeded to show two bleak, wind-swept islands off the coast of Scotland; families and single men kept separately. The family camp had a play-room with toys, but both were utilitarian; offering only books for entertainment and a basic, vegetarian diet of beans and rice. Money, tobacco and alcohol were not allowed. Personal possessions were kept locked up on the mainland until the occupants' fates were decided.

An interview with a politician surprisingly didn't show aggression or defensiveness; instead, he just seemed tired. "The system is unsustainable," he said bluntly. "It's gone past the tipping point where taxpayers can support those on benefits. Even with the cutbacks and austerity measures, we can't afford the basics. I was tasked with taking the illegal immigrants out of the equation at a minimum cost. It's not ideal, it's not desirable and I'm not proud of my methods, but it is the best I could do."

Next up was a Chinese family, waiting for permission to return to China. The woman shrugged in response to the questions, "Before, they knew we were illegal, but they left us alone because of the babies. We made good money running the takeaway." She laughed at the idea of paying taxes and, when asked about their future, "We will go back to our families. They will be angry there is no more money."

A young man from Afghanistan blamed Europe for his troubles; through a translator he explained, "Life was supposed to be better here. I paid good money to come. I destroyed my passport so they couldn't make me leave. Now there is no help and I am stuck here. I want to go home. Stupid, useless Europeans!"

As the report wrapped up, Grace pressed the mute button and looked at the others thoughtfully. "I wonder...when the economy finally stabilizes again, however many years that takes, will Europe still be on top?"

Part 29

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Why?

Why does an interesting dream flit away the instant I wake up but a nightmare lingers on, threatening to return if I dare to fall asleep again? I could do without the accompanying headache as well.

:(

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 27

Danny and Dave puffed to a stop in front of the apartment building. Enjoying the relatively cool air of an early Sunday morning, they had run to their high school and joined the football team in the weight room before running home again.

Pausing his stretching, Danny asked, "Are you ever going to tell me what your big idea was?"

"Oh, that. Well, I was only going to tell you if it worked out and it didn't." Dave sat on the curb and wiped the sweat off his face. Seeing the exasperation of his friend, he laughed wryly, "All right, then; I have an aunt that I didn't know much about except that she was supposed to have married money. I thought maybe I could talk to her and find out why she and Mom don't get along; maybe even convince her to help out."

Danny's eyebrow rose skeptically as he thought about the differences between his mom and her sisters; the rift in Dave's family sounded even wider if they weren't on speaking terms. "What happened? Did you see her?"

Shoulders hunched at the memory, Dave kept his eyes on an ant hill between his feet. "Yeah, I did. I took the bus over on a Saturday. Now I know why Mom called her 'Crazy Thelma'. Geez, Danny! She wasn't a bit odd or eccentric; I'm talking about there was something seriously wrong with her." Shaking his head, he stopped talking.

Knowing something was still bugging his friend, Danny pushed harder, "What else is bothering you? Were you counting on her help?"

"No, it's not that. I always knew it was a long shot. It's just... what if I've inherited that? Or if it misses me, could I pass it on to my kids? Do you know what I mean?"

"Hey, my dad killed himself; I know exactly what you mean. I've just had a lot longer to get used to the idea. Of course, I talked to Mom about it too."

"What did she say?"

"Basically, it's all down to chance. Each of us is unique and has to do the best we can with what we are. Except she explained it a lot better." Standing up with a grunt, Danny continued, "Come on. I need a shower and Mom has a to-do list for us. What do you want to bet I get called in to work this afternoon?"

"Ha! No bet."

Part 28

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Say what?

My son was trying to explain a stand-up comedian to me:

"She's referencing girl culture."

"I don't know what that means."

"You know, when girls are in a group and...oh, no, you wouldn't know about that."

The re-awakening awareness that his mother was never a 'normal' girl that hung around the popular groups or went to parties and clubs. It sounded awful when I was young and I don't regret not joining in at all. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

People are strange

So, my part time job is in retail. I don't mind it; I see all sorts of different people and pick up character ideas for my stories. Some of them though...well, to give some examples:

Yesterday a storm blew through and the power went off. Even when it came back on a few minutes later, the registers had to reboot and reconnect to the system. This isn't something that happens quickly and just because the lights are on, it doesn't mean we can do anything for the customers. One man became so incensed that he threw down his bag of candy and rushed out. Probably even more frustrating that he couldn't slam the sliding door shut.

Some make me sad, like the young woman buying prenatal vitamins and a pack of cigarettes.

Today was a woman who believed I was denying her a discount code for her brand of smokes. Even though I showed her there wasn't a code on the shelf or the print-out. She was still angry and rude...over 15 cents. I have to wonder if her anger was because she wouldn't admit to being wrong or because I didn't give her the discount anyway like one of my co-workers admitted to doing.

At least these are the exceptions. Most are what I would consider neutral experiences, but there are many more positive than negative. People who are charming, patient and pleasant.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Flowers and such

I decided this year to surround myself with beauty.


So I filled all my pots.



And bought some more.


I just fell in love with this metal dog.



I don't know what my neighbors think of me mowing around the wild yarrow in my front yard, but I'm doing it anyway.


I had to water everything this morning. We have the worst of both worlds now: massive clouds of mosquitos from the wet June but hot and dry. Ah well, such is life.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Post Rain

The weather has defeated me and I installed my air conditioner today. As I instinctively squatted to pick it up, my knee protested and I realized I should have asked for help before my son left for work.

My massive strawberry harvest....hahaha.


Garden is flourishing from our recent rains.


Will be eating good this weekend!


I'm trying to train cucumbers over this arch. Not sure why there are spots on the leaves.



Golden raspberries turned out to be quite aggressive once they got established.

My mulberry trees are gifts from the birds. This is the oldest and the fruits are good sized and abundant enough the birds can't keep up.



I'll do another post soon talking about flowers, but now I'm off to work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

This and that

There was a brief window of 20% chance of rain this morning...so, what's it doing right now? Raining. It's hard to complain after weeks of dry heat. Who knows if we will get another stretch like that?

I served a man in his 90s yesterday; a WWII vet. Delightful chat, wish I could have visited with him for much longer.

I woke up at 4:30 this morning. NOT enough sleep, but a disturbing enough dream to make me unwilling to stay in bed. I think a nap is in my future!

Slight improvement in my knee which makes me hopeful that I only sprained my lateral ligament instead of tearing it. I will be taking it very cautiously until it's completely better.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 26

"Well? What's got you thinking so hard now?" Mr. Haskell sounded annoyed, but Dave knew his bark was much worse than his bite.

"I keep thinking about my future; it's all a blurry mess, but I can't come up with any answers." Dave had been sprinkling ashes around the base of the tomato plants to give them potash as per Mr. Haskell's instructions, but paused to reply, "Like, does it make sense to even finish high school when I can't go to college and all it will do is cut the hours I can work? And my friend is joining the Navy next year and he thinks I could do that too, but I really don't want to."

"First off, yes, get your high school diploma. Unless you're in danger of starving, it's worth it just for the possibilities that can open up. Not knowing what will happen is the best reason not to hobble your choices and it shows people you aren't a quitter." Easing back onto his lawn chair with a grunt, he continued, "As to the military, well, I was drafted into the Army. Never would have joined otherwise and hated it, but I tried to take the good with me and leave the bad behind. Although I still hate pancakes; can you believe someone could ruin pancakes? Either burnt or undercooked, bleah.

"Well, there's a lot of stories I could tell you, but the main point is that it isn't for everyone and don't rush into a decision on it. Maybe that's the key thought for the future; don't rush, try everything that comes along and keep an open mind."

Dave smiled ruefully, "It seems hard when it feels like we're being pushed to choose now what we do for the rest of our lives. It wasn't a big deal a year ago when I planned on college. Now?" He shook his head.

"Be adaptable! I wanted to be a police officer but instead I was a plumber. Probably made more money than I would have in the police. I don't regret it a bit."

Dave nodded thoughtfully before turning back to the tomatoes, feeling calmer and not as negative about the future.

Part 27

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pre-rain

Lots of watering involved in this unusually hot, dry season...






So far, staying ahead of the drying winds and sun. I'm going to miss the lettuce when it bolts; it's all self-seeded from last year.

The cats killed a vole in the night. Instinct must drive them because they won't eat voles (unlike mice which get munched down straight away.


Loki is the top hunter.

Putting away firewood for the winter. The wood guy is nice, but has never heated with wood himself, so doesn't quite get that it doesn't dry properly before being split. I'll stack some outside to speed the drying process.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 25

Susan was a bit nervous about giving the expanded shopping list to Bonnie that evening, but she was quickly reassured.

"Don't ever worry about passing on what Iris wants," Bonnie said firmly. "You see, Max's parents weren't very reliable and Iris raised him and his sisters. That's a debt that can't be repaid. So, if she wants extra food then that is what she gets."

"You don't think we are overreacting?"

"After listening to her stories about the Depression and then the war shortages, it's hard to imagine any reaction being over the top." Bonnie shook her head before continuing, "I'll get all this and more; once the cupboards and pantry are full, you watch her. I bet you will see her just looking at her supplies. I wish I had thought of it before; having plenty makes her feel safe."

Iris wasn't the only one feeling good with a full pantry; Melody's parents had a membership with a big discount store and Danny got to do their shopping there. Not only did he come home with 50 pound bags of rice and flour, but he was able to stretch their funds to include gallon cans of peanut butter and baked beans. Susan was thrilled with the cheap cuts of meat he found; with creative portioning, she planned to stretch them out for months of Sunday lunches.

As the next few days passed, it began to look like the whole thing was a false alarm. The storm turned away from the coastline, to the embarrassment of the weathermen who had been feeding the  panic, and the refineries were brought back online. Reports from Canada were hopeful for bringing the fires under control, although they weren't there yet. Oil prices eased back down again and the trucks continued to carry their loads around the country.

Then, when trouble struck, it wasn't even in the U.S. An escalating war of words between Russia and the OPEC members almost went unnoticed amid the other global issues until it reached the shouting stage. Even then, the assumption was that the various groups involved were posturing and it would all blow over; instead, the strife grew to threats, sanctions and blockades.

"This is nuts," Danny said. "The pipelines are running, the refineries are working, there aren't any shortages; why doesn't the government put a cap on the cost of gas while they get the rest sorted out?"

"Hank says it's the speculators on the stock market driving it. If there's even a chance the oil flow could be disrupted they can count on prices skyrocketing. Assuming it will happen makes them push the prices up now." Dave shrugged.

"Okay, that's bad enough, but this new rule that truckers have to keep working or the trucks will be confiscated? On what planet does that make sense? If they can't even break even with the diesel cost doubling, how does forcing them to drive their way to bankruptcy help?"

Susan set a casserole down on the table and said, "Well, we're not going to solve it now so let's enjoy lunch." Franky, she was as worried as everyone else by the sudden turn, but a meal they could eat together generally only happened on Sundays and she didn't want it ruined with arguing.

Danny nodded and pushed aside his concerns for the moment. "I saw that family you used to babysit for loading up a moving van."

"Really? I haven't heard from them since he lost his job and started watching their kids himself."

"Do you think I could do the work you did cleaning and painting empty apartments?"

Startled, Susan looked at her son sharply, "Of course, you could do it, but why? You're already working so many hours."

"Not every week, sometimes I barely hit thirty hours. Danny always works forty and he brings home extra food; I just want to do more." He didn't want to tell her about the concerns his boss had about the future of the pizza business if the trucks stopped deliveries.

"Well, I suppose you can ask; maybe it's something we could do together in the afternoons." She smiled a bit wistfully; thinking it would be nice to spend a little more time with him before adulthood pulled him away entirely.

Part 26

Sunday, June 10, 2018

What we get up to in the dark

I could only imagine what my neighbors thought last night as I caught the chicks roosting in the honeysuckle bush behind their coop. It's a mature bush so some of the chicks were on branches over six feet high. One by one, each shrieking bloody murder; such vulnerable little beings, trusting (not really) me to take care of them.

No luck trapping the possum, but I know it's still out there.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Damn it!

I hate opossums. Given that, what happened was entirely my fault and I'm kicking myself.

Since I hadn't seen any signs of the possum for the last week, I assumed it had moved on. Wrong. Then, last night I was too freaking lazy to go back out and shut up the coops. Three dead chicks and one wounded. All. My. Fault.

Update: About 2/3rds of the chicks were too scared to go back into their coop tonight. I found 1/3rd in the honeysuckle bush behind the coop. Feeling really bad about the missing ones when I go to shut up the grown-up coop...and there they were! They must have decided it was safer with the big chickens. So, I've learned my lesson and everyone is locked up tight for the night. I also put a trap inside the pen. Hopefully the opossum likes ham salad.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Chicken Drama

My roosters are two years old. YB is a Black Langsharn and Galahad is a Splash Cochin. Galahad has always been the dominant rooster, but wasn't mean about it; he was just in charge.

For some unknown reason, in the last couple weeks, they switched roles and YB became dominant. But... he was vicious about it. To the point that Galahad hid in the furthest corner and hoped nobody spotted him.

It was breaking my heart and I asked my mom if she would take him in. She likes taking a few elderly hens for the summer for their company and agreed to give Galahad a home. The happy ending to the story is that he and his three hens are settled in and enjoying life on the farm. Hooray!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 24

"Uh oh, we're in trouble now."

Danny finished taking a phone order and turned, "What's wrong?"

Folding the newspaper grimly, his boss stared out the window for a moment before replying, "They're shutting down all the Gulf Coast refineries before the storm hits as a precaution."

"Isn't that the smart thing to do?"

"Maybe yes, maybo no. It's just bad timing with the fires in Canada shutting the Alberta refineries and two in California are down for maintenance."

A woman waiting to pick up her pizza nodded emphatically, "You wait and see. The cost at the pump is going to skyrocket. My husband is a trucker and we're going to get screwed over. Well, I can tell you the truckers aren't going to take it lying down this time. It's going to get ugly."

Tapping the paper, he agreed, "And we need those truckers on the road. Without them, everything will fall apart."

Now Danny looked worried too. "But what can they do? If the refineries are shut down and the government has already released the oil reserves, where will it come from?"

"Well, they'll have to figure something out! It's not going to come out of our pockets this time." The customer thumped her purse down on the counter angrily.

Danny handed her order to his boss to ring up and went into the back to work on the phone order. He couldn't help brooding over the possibility of another crisis and wished Melody was working so they could talk it over.

It was after 11 p.m. before he finished closing up and got home that night. Knowing everyone he wanted to talk to was already asleep made his thoughts a heavy burden.

The next morning he made his way to Iris' apartment, hoping his mom wasn't too busy to talk. Inside, he found her working on a shopping list while Iris and Grace chatted. Joining them, he recounted the conversation between his boss and the trucker's wife and explained why he was concerned.

"Hmmm," Grace began. "I'm sure fuel prices will rise. They seem to go up at any excuse, but unless the storm actually damages the refineries, it shouldn't be extreme. I'm not sure what we could do about it anyway since none of us drive."

Danny thought Iris was focused on getting him to eat another muffin, so it startled him when she spoke. "Make sure you get extra baking supplies, Susan. I don't want to be caught short if there is a strike. And canned fruit, raisins, honey; I've gone hungry before. Remember, it's not wrong to stock up when there is plenty.

"Now, Danny, have another glass of milk and a banana. I insist."

Looking helplessly at his mom, he accepted the offer before asking, "What would happen in a trucking strike?"

"Food would be the first problem with no deliveries and the gas stations would run empty within days." Grace frowned at the thought and dug into her purse for her own shopping list. "Then there would be everything all the other stores stock plus what companies need to make their products."

Susan added, "Remember what happened in Brazil when their truckers went on strike? They blockaded the roads so nobody could travel. It was frightening how quickly things ran out."

"Mom, would it be okay if I ask Melody to drive me to the store? I could buy the biggest bags of beans and rice then. I have to work this afternoon, but if we went now it would be one less thing to worry about."

"That's a good idea if she doesn't mind. You know where the grocery money is; just be careful, that's all for the month."

"Thanks, Mom. I'll take care of it." He gave her a quick hug before dashing away.

Part 25

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Grump

I'm in a complaining mood and the fact that it's a day off work makes that even more unpleasant. Something I've noticed is that menopausal hot flashes come in waves; not that big of a deal in the winter, but definitely an issue in the summertime.

Today is in the 80s. Lots of sunshine, should be a fine day. Instead, I'm stuck sitting in front of a fan and still on the edge of being uncomfortable. Going outside feels like walking into an oven.

Added to that is my taking a tumble yesterday and wrenching both knees. Not debilitating, but sore enough to make movement cautious.

All of that means the to-do list for today is almost entirely untouched. I did dig out the live trap to set up and hopefully catch the possum hanging around. And I made a loaf of bread. That's all for the entire day! (Susan would be so ashamed of me.)

Back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 23

Susan hummed softly as she unlocked the apartment door. It had turned out to be a good day; Iris had cheered up and remembered happier times from her childhood. They also spent part of the morning choosing more recipes for Susan to work into the menu and supper had been a success. All of which put her in an upbeat mood for the evening.

Inside, she found Dave writing at the table. "Hello, Dave. How was work today?"

He looked up with an easy smile, "Nice. I got two of my chicks to sit on my shoulder while I did chores. And there's a big bag of lettuce and spinach in the fridge." Looking back down at the paper, he continued, "I'm trying to tell Mom all the news from church without the gossip."

"How is she doing?"

"All right, I guess. Grandma's house is in a quiet neighborhood, but Mom is worried the riots might reach them."

Susan nodded thoughtfully; it was certainly an understandable worry. Now that she heard more of the daily news with Iris and Grace, she also was more concerned with the increase in riots. They didn't seem limited to any particular location or cause either. The violence in Europe seemed to revolve around brutally high unemployment and austerity cuts while Canada dealt with a severe drought and heatwave with resulting power brownouts and forest fires. In the U.S., each city affected blamed something different for the unrest, from unpopular criminal trials to political scandals. Susan was convinced the true reasons were almost always economic.

Dave's forehead twisted with his thoughts, "It's ironic that Dad applied to work at the plant that got shut down, which made the union start the protests, which led to the riots, and now they're even worse off. I wish they were still here."

"They haven't mentioned moving back?"

"No. They've turned the entire backyard into a garden and Grandma couldn't take care of it alone. Plus, Mom likes her new church. If Dad could find some work, they'd be happy there." A wistful look crossed his face, "I thought about going back now that my cousins have gone to Florida, but I feel useful here and I wonder if they'll stay gone."

"What do you mean?"

"If Florida doesn't turn out to be the easy living they expect, will they show up in Wichita expecting Grandma to take them in again?"

"Ah, yes, that's certainly possible. And the job market isn't any better in Florida. Well, you're welcome to stay with us as long as you want. You've made yourself an asset." She smiled fondly at the young man who had become a second son to her during the last twelve years of his and Danny's friendship.

"Oh! I almost forgot; I'll be late tomorrow. I promised to help make strawberry jam. I think all the gardeners I help have conspired to teach me every different way they know to preserve produce."

Susan firmly squelched her flash of envy at the variety of jobs he got to do and reminded herself how lucky she was to have work of any kind. "I hope you'll take notes on the processes. I've never made jam."

Dave nodded and bent back to his letter.

Part 24

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hissss

I went to the basement to get a spare garden hose today. As I pulled it out of the corner, I spotted movement...a baby garter snake. Awww, so cute. It wasn't moving quickly, probably due to the cool temperature down there, so I was able to pick it up easily. It curled up around my hand as I carried it up and released it under the deck. I suspect it may be a very lucky snake to have ended up in my house, since both my neighbors tend to overreact to our scaled friends.

One of the hens wouldn't leave the chick pen when I was letting them out this morning. Was she annoyed when she was stuck in there all day! Speaking of chickens: my last hatching for this year is finishing up. 29 new babies for my friends. I hope they get a nice rooster this time. Their last one turned mean and aggressive until they chose to remove the problem. The strange thing is his father is quite meek and never aggressive.

Looking at my pink arms, I realize I need to put on sunscreen for work. Sometimes the obvious doesn't occur to me until after it would do some good.

And this is the end of my random post. :)

Growth forecasts

Because I like to bring in fresh blood lines into my flock regularly, I ordered a mix of chicks this year.



They start off all cute and fluffy. Then...




Suddenly, five weeks later, they are pre-teens with attitude.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Blossoms everywhere

It was a long winter, but it's definitely over now.

White lilac

Honeycrisp apple

Crab apple

Purple lilac

Chokecherry
I've taken a part-time job at a local garden center. It gets me out of the house and interacting with people. The traumatic part is transitioning from 20 years at a desk to 8 hours on my feet...ouch!

Wednesday was my first day off when it wasn't too wet to mow. Of course, nothing goes smoothly and it took a big chunk of the day getting the mower started. By then it was a bit like cutting hay, but the chickens enjoyed getting clumps of grass to scratch around in.

Haha - I just realized I haven't even put my winter coat away.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 22

Danny was waiting in front of the apartment building when Melody pulled up. On this rare occasion of them both having the day off, they were driving out to a state park to picnic, swim and hike. He felt a bit strange bringing peanut butter sandwiches on a date, but she had insisted it was what she wanted.

Instead of waiting for him to get in, Melody climbed out of the car and joined him. "Hi, can I say hello to your mom before we go?"

"Sure. She's working, but it's fine to drop in. You'll like Iris."

Once inside the apartment, Iris insisted they stay for cookies as she always did. Danny limited himself to one cookie; his mom had explained to him the importance of accepting hospitality but not taking advantage. "Did you ever picnic at the lake?" he asked their hostess.

"Once I remember, the church took us out on a bus. We each got an orange! I had never had one before and had to be shown how to peel it." Her face fell, "I was embarrassed because I had to wear a dress made from a flour sack and the children with proper clothes teased us. And my feet hurt because the shoes were my sister's and didn't fit right." Her expression became mulish, "I don't want to talk about that anymore."

When Susan nodded them towards the door, the kids politely said their thank yous and left. In the car, Melody sighed, "It's sad that she doesn't have happier memories of her childhood."

"I hope things don't get that bad ever again." A gas station sign caught his eye. "Do you think the president releasing the oil reserves will help?"

"My dad doesn't. He says it's one of those gestures politicians make for show. It's supposed to help the trucking and tourism industries, but the truckers have already been slammed by the retail depression and cheaper diesel is too little, too late. As for tourism, well, how many people can still afford to travel, even with lower gas prices?"

Danny nodded thoughtfully, "Plus, this is going to hurt everyone working in the oil industry, so that's even more possibly needing help."

When they pulled into the state park, they noticed a sign on the door where the park attendants worked. Danny hopped out to read it. Slowly getting back into the car, he looked puzzled. "The offices and all park facilities are shut down. No camping, electricity, water, sewage dumping or maintenance. Any park usage is 'at risk', whatever that means."

Melody chewed on her lip while thinking this through, "I guess don't expect to be rescued if we get in trouble. I wouldn't want to be here at night if they aren't keeping an eye out for parties. It might say 'no camping' but without enforcement, people will be here anyway and it's going to get trashed."

"What do you want to do today? Are you comfortable swimming?"

She flashed a grin at him, "I'm certified as a lifeguard. I'll have your back."

"You are? Why are you working at a pizza joint?"

"Ugh, being a lifeguard is the most mind-numbingly boring job imaginable. It's like being a babysitter to a mob of kids let loose and I'm not going to tell you about all the peeing."

Nose wrinkling at that thought, Danny laughed, "Okay, lets see if we can find some kid-free swimming."

The first beach they drove past had a few families splashing around, but they could see the toilets were padlocked shut. Exchanging glances, they both shook their heads. About half a mile further on they found a small, pebbly beach with no facilities or people and, putting the park shut down out of their heads, they enjoyed a morning of peaceful swimming.

Eating their sandwiches while leaning on the hood of the car, the warm breeze quickly dried them off. While discussing the hike they had originally planned, they both became aware of a low, rumbling noise growing closer. "Those are motorcycles," Melody identified with a frown. "I'd rather not find out if they're friendly out here alone. Do you mind?"

"Let's go!" Danny agreed with a sharp nod. As they drove to the park exit, he felt sorry for not giving the bikers the benefit of the doubt. His own grandfather used to ride out to Sturgis every year, but things felt too unsettled to take the chance now and he had no illusions about being able to protect themselves against potential trouble.

On the drive home, the brief adrenaline rush faded and they returned to discussing what they had discovered that morning. "Will your parents be able to find out what was behind the park closing?"

"I think so. Mom will be upset she hadn't heard anything before we left, so either it's just happened or someone has kept it secret somehow. And that isn't easy when it's a public use area. I'll let you know what I find out at work tomorrow."

Danny started to ask what she wanted to do with the rest of the afternoon when his cell phone buzzed. "I have to fill in at work. I guess it's good we're heading back early."

"I'll drop you at home so you can change. Even if it didn't go quite as planned, I still had fun."

He smiled with relief at her understanding. "Me too."

Part 23

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

More chick news

I hatched 23 chicks out over the weekend. All perfectly cute, of course.


I decided to trade them for these Americaunas, because the two I currently have, Pippy and Poppy, are older and no longer laying. Not only will these bring more blue eggs, but also those adorable muttonchop whiskers.


Writing is slow again. :(

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Oh boy, more snow!

My friend sent a picture of her kids tunneling in the snow drifts. I can remember playing in the snow, so why isn't it fun anymore?



Instead it's just a chore to get through to reach the chickens and firewood. And those would have been some great drifts to play in!

For the record: I haven't even begun to dig out my car. Chickens = vital. Transport = whatever.

Possibly more snow on Wednesday. Hopefully they are wrong about that.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 21

Susan slid the pans of banana bread into the oven while listening to the murmur of Iris and Mrs. Perkins chatting in the living room. "Grace. Grace. Grace."

"Yes, Susan?"

Susan jerked upright in surprise, finding a smiling Mrs. Perkins standing behind her. Feeling silly, she explained, "I was practicing. I've gotten into the habit of calling you Mrs. Perkins and since you asked me to use your given name..."

Her friendly neighbor laughed delightedly, "What a clever idea. Now, can you come join us? Iris is telling me about her childhood."

"Let me finish washing the mixing bowl. Banana dough seems to turn to cement on me if I don't deal with it quickly." A few minutes later, Susan settled in with her latest crochet project and prepared to travel back in time with her companions.

Iris was reminiscing, "In a way, I had it easier because I was born in 1929, so I couldn't remember a time before the depression. With six older brothers and sisters, of course I heard about the good times, but they were like fairy tales. My father was a clerk in the bank before the crash. He wasn't one of those speculating on the stock market; even then there wasn't that much spare money to invest. I didn't understand what was happening, just that one day he didn't put on his suit to go to work; instead, he went to work at Grandfather's shop."

She paused to peer at Susan, "You won't know what a setback that was to him. Working at a bank was a good position with prospects. Having to ask his father-in-law for a job was a blow to his pride. I don't think he ever fully recovered from that. My sisters told me he used to tell jokes and dance around the kitchen with our mother. I never knew him like that."

Susan watched her blink sadly; her eyes seeing people that had been dead for decades. She had noticed before that Iris seemed to recall long-term memories clearly, but had no concept of current events. Grace, on the other hand, acted as a bridge between the generations; old enough to share some of the same experiences as Iris, her keen mind was still interested in today's news. She spoke, "I was born in '34; not a good time to be adding to the family. Family legend has it that when my mother found out she was expecting again, she sat down and cried; worried sick I would be another set of twins. Sometimes I wish I could go back and reassure her that it would all work out and happier times would return."

"That would be nice," Iris perked up. "I could tell Gladys not to marry Harvey, but knowing her she would have found someone else just as dreadful."

"Are you both the last of your families?" Susan asked.

Grace shook her head, "My youngest brother, Benjamin, lives in Canada. He was always my favorite; nothing could stop him from living the life he chose. When he was sixteen he told our parents that he loved his best friend and they threw him out. He came and lived with Ned and I until he finished school. Then, in 2005, Benji and Matthew flew us up to celebrate their wedding. Imagine waiting fifty years to be able to marry the person you loved!"

"I think I could have been a lesbian," Iris offered wistfully. She sighed softly, then looked over at Susan, "Are there any cookies left?"

Pulling her startled thoughts together, Susan nodded and went to fetch a snack; wondering if they would ever hear more about that story. This was becoming their comfortable routine, with Grace stopping by mid-morning for a visit while her husband joined his friends at a diner for coffee and gossip. Susan had made doilies for Iris's chairs and was working on a table runner now. In the afternoon, Iris would doze while watching soaps until Susan returned to make supper.

Smiling as she arranged cookies on a plate, Susan wondered if Iris was really as dotty as she seemed or if she dropped conversational bombshells for fun. Either way, she wasn't boring.

Part 22

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Long Winter

That's certainly how it feels. About a week ago I looked out at a robin sitting on a bare lilac branch as the snow fell and thought the caption would read "The travel agent lied!" Today, there he is again; same branch, more snow....poor thing.

Wasn't it the old tradition that potatoes should be planted in March? Ha! It's April and the ground still hasn't thawed. I'm suffering from gardening withdrawals.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Stories Tab

I've added a new tab with another story I'm currently working on. This one is completely unrelated to my Errant Thoughts story which will continue to be posted on the Main blog page.

I hope to convince my son to be a co-author as an experiment with bringing in more action; as opposed to my normal character driven writing. It will be trial and error so another adventure!

Fun and easy


Called a toddler's hat in the book, it was a fast and easy(even for me!) project. And my great-niece looks adorable (of course) in it. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Knitting Project Ideas

A few months ago when I started up with knitting again, I checked out three books from the library for ideas. I quickly realized two of them were to difficult for my skill level, but the third turned out to be a treasure trove.


I kept it checked out for two months and barely scratched the surface of all the projects I wanted to make, so I looked for a used copy to buy. Hooray! I now have my own and can knit as slowly as I need.


The best part for me is there are easy ideas I can do now and moderates for when I get more experience.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Finished!

I've actually had the knitting part of this project done for some weeks, it's the sewing it together that took longer to find the motivation for...


I'll be sending this to my sister who is a Green Bay Packers fan.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

AWOL

There is a reason I've been absent and distracted lately. In fact, there are 18 reasons:



This is the batch I hatched for a friend and their new momma is coming to pick them up today. :)

Last night I watched a documentary called 'Chicken People' and, while I have no interest in showing chickens, I can understand their fascination.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 20

Danny coughed nervously, straightening his shirt and glancing over his shoulder; momentarily considering making a run for it. Mentally telling himself to get a grip, he squared his shoulders and pressed the doorbell to the Fray house. When the door was opened by Melody, he smiled with relief that proved to be short-lived as she leaned forward and whispered, "I'm so sorry."

Suddenly she was swept aside by a woman in a cloud of perfume who gripped his arm and pulled him inside. Quickly, he found himself seated on a sofa, feeling like he should have worn something much nicer for the occasion. Although Melody herself was wearing her usual style, her parents looked ready to go out to a fancy party. Within minutes of conversing, Danny was uncertain if they were trying to impress him or put him down. Retreating in confusion, he kept his head down and wished the evening over.

Partway through the meal, he glanced over at Melody and saw her misery. He became furious at her parents for putting her in that position; then, in a moment of clarity, realized it was his fault also. These people had invited him into their home and offered him the best meal he had eaten in a long time; he was their guest but was behaving like a lout. Setting his fork down, he caught his hostess's eye and said, "These potatoes are delicious. Could I get the recipe for my mom?"

The flash of relief on her face reinforced the guilt he was feeling for making things worse, but Danny set that aside and concentrated on behaving the way he was taught. Now that there were active participants, conversation soon shifted to the economy. "Now Ted, you know it's not a depression; officially it's just a dip in the markets, a mild recession at worst."

"Calling it that doesn't change reality! We had to take pay cuts to keep our jobs and remember what happened when the mayor suggested he should get a raise. There was almost a riot! In fact, pretending there isn't a serious problem is just making things worse. We'd be better off if the government admitted the facts and got busy finding a solution. Or else the whole country could end up like the Turners." Melody's father was an average looking man, but at the moment was red-faced with outrage.

"What happened to the Turners?" Melody asked; turning to explain to Danny, "They live across the street."

Her mother replied, "Apparently, he lost his job but couldn't bear to tell his family. He kept leaving like he was going to work every morning and she kept spending money like normal. Then, all on one day, their cars were repossessed and the bank came and changed the locks on the house and they were left with nothing."

"It makes you wonder, doesn't it?" Danny mused. Noticing the others were waiting for him to expand on his thought, he continued, "How many other people are busy trying to keep up appearances while things are spiraling out of control in private? It's something my mom has talked about before; how we don't see the private troubles from the outside, things like alcoholism or abuse."

Melody chimed in, "So, does the economy make those troubles worse or do they become less important? I mean, would an addict go in deeper or pull herself out to save her family?"

"I'm afraid it would usually get worse. Solving those problems takes a lot of hard work and determination. Finding the strength while under even more stress?" Mrs. Fray shook her head sadly. "So, Danny, Melody says you're going to join the Navy?"

Recognizing this as a hot topic, Danny replied with a steady gaze, "Yes, ma'am. I'm fortunate that I can still pursue my dream career. My mom is disappointed I won't be able to go to college, but she knows that option will still be available if I chose later."

"Why not take out student loans?"

"We talked about it, but after calculating the costs, interest rates and years it would take to pay them off and weighing that against the unknown job situation, it was too much risk. Especially since the Navy is what I really wanted."

Mrs. Fray's expression had soured, as if she wanted to argue the point further, but her husband changed the subject and the moment passed.

At the end of the evening Melody walked Danny to the door and, as he turned to go, kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Thank you."

Blushing, he said, "I'm sorry it took me so long."

She just smiled and watched as he pedaled away into the dark.

Part 21

Friday, March 16, 2018

Another Project

This one I had a bit of fun with.



It's a scarf for a Green Bay Packers fan. Lots of mistakes because even an 'easy' project can be difficult for me, but I think she will get a kick out of it.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Calling my muse

This is what I do when I'm letting a story process in the back of my mind.


It keeps my hands and eyes busy while leaving my thoughts free to work out dialogue or plot.

This one was a 2000 piece puzzle so it gave me many hours. The next one is a 5000(!!!!) piece that my sister gave me for my birthday. It will be tricky because it's so large and won't fit on the table completely. I'll have to sort it out in sections. Already looking forward to it. :)

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 19

Dave finished hoeing a row of beets and looked over the garden with a smile. He wondered why everyone didn't have a garden when it worked this well. Wiping the sweat from his face he paused to check on the chicken pen; six busy chicks were scratching the grass and chasing gnats. Crouching down to admire them he could see their wings and tails were fully feathered and they were growing nicely.

Pulling the list of addresses out of his pocket, he noted the next garden was two blocks away. With the hoe slung over his shoulder, he set off, waving to Mrs. Burnett as he went. As usual, she hurried to the door and called him back for a glass of lemonade before he left. Everyone on his list was elderly or disabled, so he knew most of them from the boxed food deliveries. While a very few were genuinely grumpy, the rest looked forward to his arrival and loved to chat. Some came out and talked non-stop while he worked, others waited with cold drinks for him to finish. Today, Mrs. Burnett pushed a handful of radishes across the table and insisted he take them. Gratefully, Dave thanked her; knowing she couldn't afford to tip him money, but would be terribly hurt if he refused and any addition to their food stores would be welcome at home.

His next stop was Mr. Haskell, who would have a lawn chair in the shade so he could direct Dave's work. Approaching the house, Dave stopped in dismay; there were bees flying and crawling all around the sidewalk. He had never seen anything like it and was afraid to go any closer. The door swung open and Mr. Haskell leaned out, "Come on in! Those are just ground bees. Don't mind them."

Dave eased cautiously past the bees, staying on the grass and as far away as he could. "What are ground bees?"

"They live in the ground instead of a hive. Those out there live under my sidewalk. Don't worry, they aren't aggressive." He led the way through the house to the backyard, still talking. "Of course, any bees are good for the garden but the city won't let us keep hives, so I'm happy to have ground bees."

"How does a bee help the garden?"

"Pollinating! Actually, any bug that doesn't damage the plants helps carry the pollen around, but bees are my favorite." With one of his characteristic sudden topic changes, he continued, "You're a bit early, still staying for lunch?"

"Yes, sir. I would like to." For three days each week Dave worked gardens and was settling into a routine of where he would be at certain times. This was the third week that had him at Mr. Haskell's around lunchtime. Naturally, he brought his own lunch but it was nice to eat at a table with ice water and interesting conversation.

Settling down to the work, Dave carefully hoed between tomato and pepper plants. When asked why he only planted those, Mr. Haskell had explained that he liked making his own salsa and this would give him enough ingredients to make an abundance.

"What are you thinking about so deeply over there?"

Dave jumped a little at the sudden question before answering, "I was thinking how each of the gardens is different and wondering what all the rest look like. You know I tilled a lot of plots up but I only get to help out a with a few."

"Huh, I can guarantee that some of them are already lost to the weeds. That always happens when people start gardening for the first time and don't realize it takes work."

"Will they give up?"

"Some will. Some might even put in the hours to save what they planted this year and learn from their mistakes. When you finish here can you bring in half a dozen rhubarb stalks? I'm going to start my lunch."

Later, over the meal, talk turned from gardening to harvest. "Listen, Dave, I could use a hand with the salsa this year and you could learn how to make it. What do you say?"

"Sure, I think it would be fun to see the whole process. It will have to be on a Saturday though." Something about the idea of taking a plant from a seedling all the way to making food out of the produce struck a chord in Dave.

When he got home that evening, digging into his backpack for the radishes, he found six rhubarb stalks neatly washed and packed in a plastic bag.

Part 20

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 18

Susan sorted through the boxes of knick-knacks that had been dug out of storage; hoping she could make the apartment a little more comfortable. Iris would be arriving in the afternoon and Susan found herself becoming more nervous as the time grew closer. What if she turned out to be casually racist like Susan's great-grandparents had been? Even remembering some of the things they had said made her cringe.

Forcing these negative and fruitless thoughts from her mind, she concentrated on the latest letter from her brother and the good news that his wife was responding well to treatment. She smiled at the not-so-subtle hint he had made by including a stamped envelope with his letter so she would write back with all her news. He was right to prod her to communicate; under stress she retreated more and more into her shell. And, with everything going on in his life, she needed to let him know that she was managing so he wouldn't waste energy worrying about her.

Humming softly to herself, Susan finished placing items on the shelves and stepped back to study the result.  The shelf unit was a find in itself; gold and white, it originally had glass shelves, but those were missing when Danny found it by the trash. They had re-purposed some wire mesh to make new shelves and here it was being useful again.

A thump at the door turned her around as Max, the landlord, carried in a large, oak rocking chair. "Ugh," he grunted as he set it down. "They made things solid in the old days. I've got her clothes and the rest in the truck. Bonnie is taking Iris out to lunch so we have time to put them away."

Susan helped him carry in the few boxes of belongings and began hanging clothes in the closet. "Ahem." She looked up in surprise to find him standing in the bedroom door looking uncomfortable. "I hope you don't find this too much work but Bonnie is worried that Iris might fall and hurt herself. She has a shower chair and I've taken off the bathroom lock so hopefully there won't be any problems. She doesn't get up before 9:00 because, according to her, all the good shows are on at night."

"That's alright then; I'll cook her breakfast while she showers and make sure she gets her medication for the day. Anything else?"

"Remember that Sundays are for family, so we'll take her to our place for the day and you can relax."

"Okay, but if there is a change in schedule, just let me know and I'll be here." Susan smiled ruefully as she thought about how much of her time would be spent cooking in the future, but it was honest, needed work and she was grateful.

Not long thereafter, Bonnie and Iris arrived. Susan hung back, feeling a little shy while the newest tenant was settled on the rocking chair. She was interested to observe a tall, well-padded woman with wispy, white hair. There was something a bit vague about the way she looked around the room, but she seemed content to roll with the changes in her life and, when introduced, smiled pleasantly.

After arranging to return at five to cook supper, Susan escaped back to her own apartment. In the bathroom, she stared at herself in the mirror and delivered a pep-talk, "This ought to shake you out of your rut and feeling sorry for yourself. It's an adventure and change is growth. Now give her a chance to become a friend." With a firm nod she decided to go for a run to keep her mood up.

Part 19

Monday, March 5, 2018

Whacky Weather

Last night was thunderstorms with rain; today, snow, snow and more snow. Difficult to measure as it blew on the way down.

I received a request from a family friend today and loaded up the incubator with 42 eggs. In three weeks I'll see how well the roosters are doing their jobs. ;) Normally I would pick out clean eggs, but the warm spell meant all the eggs were muddy. I can only hope being wiped off won't hinder the development and hatching.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Errant Thoughts Story, Part 17

Dave pushed the lawn mower to the far end of the church lot. He normally didn't work on Saturdays, but they had been so busy that Hank had asked him to come in and catch up on some of the regular chores. Dave didn't mind mowing, with the noise protectors in his ears he could zone out and let his thoughts drift. At the end of the property, he turned and lined up the mower to make a neat straight line back. Then, looking up, he spotted a woman marching towards him, waving a purse with a furious expression on her face. Reluctantly, he throttled down the mower and let his ear guards dangle around his neck.

"How dare you ignore me like that! I have better things to do than chase you all over. I'm an important person in the congregation; you had better show me proper respect or I'll see you never work here again." Folding her arms, she glared at him.

Keeping his expression neutral was a battle, but the only sign of Dave's rising temper was the flaring of his nostrils. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Pruett. I didn't hear you. How can I help?" He asked the last question quickly, hoping to defuse the tirade she was drawing breath for.

"Humph! I want to pick out my chicks now. Give me the key."

"I'm not allowed to hand out chicks. Hank said only he is to do that."

"Quite right, but I'm not asking for your help. Just give me the key and I'll do it myself."

Silently, he groaned, knowing this was about to go very badly. "I can't give you the key, ma'am. I'm sorry. Let me go get Hank for you."

Seeing her face flush dark red and her eyes narrow dangerously, Dave to took his heels and ran for meeting area attached to the church. Inside, he found Hank deep in a pile of paperwork with a couple of the committee members. "Please, Hank? I need help."

Frowning at the interruption, Hank peered at him over his glasses. "Well, what is it? The lawn mower?"

Glancing nervously at the others, Dave wished he could talk privately and said, "Um, no. Could you come outside?"

After hearing the youth's explanation, Hank sighed. "Why don't you go work in the garden while I deal with this. Better if the sound of the mower doesn't upset the chicks." What he didn't say was it was better not to remind Mrs. Pruett of Dave's presence at the moment.

It was a good hour before Hank returned to the garden where Dave was hoeing diligently. Shaking his head, he considered how much to tell his young helper. That woman was a thorn in his side; stirring up trouble and gossip. She had a faction of the the congregation riled up about employing someone who didn't attend church. Hank knew, though, that what really made her angry was her husband being unemployed. He snorted, as if Mr. Pruett would be willing to work in the dirt for minimum wage. Actually, he might do it just to get away from his wife, but then she would start pushing for him to be paid what he was 'worth' and things would get even worse.

Calling Dave over, Hank smiled at him and said, "Now, don't you worry about anything. I'm happy with your work. Understand?" Nodding to acknowledge the look of relief that crossed the young man's face, he continued, "Go ahead and finish mowing, then you can clock out."

"Are you sure? Shouldn't I do the trimming around the gravestones too?"

"Hmm, you're right. It doesn't look tidy unless it's all done evenly."

"I'll take care of it, Hank. Thanks." With a wide smile, Dave strode back to finish mowing; confident once more.

Part 18

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

More cat adventures

After my cats tore open the lettuce bag (!) and ate some, I remembered my sister giving me a pet grass kit for my last birthday. It grew wonderfully and has received the kitty seal of approval.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Winter Returns

Winter made a comeback! This week we got 7 inches of snow; the most we've had this winter. It came in a series of smaller falls every other day. The funny thing were the weather forecasts: 'watch out! Saturday will be the big one!' Obviously, the result was that Saturday there was only a dusting of snow in the region. The heaviest amounts were a little over an inch. No wonder people mock weathermen.

The heavy frost was pretty, especially combined with the wet snow.




I did find a nice surprise on the doorstep a couple days ago; a box under 5 inches of snow containing these goodies:


From the amazing Punkin's Patch.