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, 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


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