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Friday, June 29, 2012



When will I learn to tuck my little camera into a pocket or bag each time I leave home?  If I'd had it a couple of days ago I could have photographed Kenny's pyrotechnic display  which was really quite remarkable.  But, alas no camera left me with nothing but inadequate words with which to share the spectacle.  Now all that remains along his farm frontage are a few bottles and cans exposed when flames consumed the tall weeds and brambles that had kept them hidden from view.  Today I missed another Kodak moment at the flea market where I'd gone to get some produce. 

Mondays and Thursdays are when junk sellers fill the spaces, but Fridays feature mostly produce vendors.  That seems to be changing as there were plenty of junk dealers there today.  As I meandered toward the produce concourse, past the coin merchant, the Avon lady, the sleazy guy selling what he claimed were 10,000 count sheets and scurried past the stinky cigarette-smoking, Country Western CD vendor lively accordion music filled the air.

I bought some locally-grown radishes and corn, a couple of melons and peaches, all the while making my way toward the enthusiastic, but unfamiliar melodies.  At the far end of the concourse, just beyond a pile of watermelons was a young man dressed like a rooster, his fingers flying over the keys and buttons of a red accordian.  His open case held a sign saying, "NEED MONEY FOR THE HEN AND CHICKS."  I tossed some in and plunked down on a nearby bench to watch and listen.

The temperature was already in the 90's. His rooster suit made of a fuzzy plush fabric, complete with hood accented with wattles and red comb had to be excruciatingly hot and uncomfortable, but he seemed not to notice and played like a madman.  I was enchanted! 

I guessed the minstrel to be of Eastern European heritage; Lithuanian or maybe Rumanian and the music suggested the same.  His fair skin, straight nose, piercing dark eyes and sparse chestnut mutton chops were all that showed;  the rest of his head encased in the ridiculous rooster hood.  He was perhaps 30 years old.  Playing with hardly a minute's hesitation between the exotic Gypsy tunes, his thin fingers danced over the keys and buttons like butterflies.  He was terrific and I told him so to which he responded with a slight confident smile.  Of course he was.

An older man hurrying past stopped in his tracks,reached into his pocket and dropped a bill into the open accordion case, then gave the player a thumbs up and continued on his way.  Around the corner of the building a woman dug through her purse to produce a few coins that she gave to two kids who ran over and tossed them in.  I hope this amazingly-talented ‘rooster' made lots of money this morning and I really hope this wasn't a one-time gig.  From now on I plan to have my camera with me, but for today I'll just share this lovely Maine vista.


2:09 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, June 28, 2012



Something just nudged me to stop at Ginny's on my way home from town.  Driving up her lane I knew that something was amiss when I saw the skimpy garden next to the garage.  Ginny's gardens are always picture perfect, but even considering the relentless heat and drought, hers appeared neglected.  It was 93 F., but when I went into the house I found my old friend in her recliner, wrapped in a plaid wool blanket.  She did not look good.  Her faithful old dog Mitzi, toothless and with hair as gray as Ginny's sat next to her.

"Oh Karen, my leg gave out on me at church and they had to take me out in a wheel chair.  I'm just tired and worn out," she said with an uncharacteristic sigh of resignation.  At 101 years I suppose she is right, but even so this reality makes me sad.  In spite of her admitted "worn out" state she says she hopes to attend my annual garden party next month and I hope she does.

Knee high by the fourth of July is usually a realistic expectation for corn crops around here, but the corn field across the road is already taller than I am thanks to repeated dousings with assorted herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.  I find it incomprehensible that society is so apathetic about how food is grown, yet so ‘puzzled' at the vast array of serious health issues that plague this culture.  Apparently that phrase that ‘you are what you eat' conveniently (for the petro-chemical companies) falls on deaf ears these days.

"Sustainability" has recently entered the political jargon, but only argumentatively as it relates to the economy, not to the environment.  If/when if does I fear that only a select few will understand the symbiotic relationship.  The Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was a unique opportunity for governments to address so many things, but for reasons that can be summarized in one word--politics--nothing much really happened.  Take a look at the potential of this missed opportunity.

I think of Ginny as she looked out her picture window toward the fields she leases to a corporate farmer and reflected upon her own lifetime of traditional farming. "That's just not the right way to farm," she said.  I seriously doubt that the farmer on his $240,000.00 combine harvesting his super-sized, weed-free crops will live to see as many years as Ginny.


3:13 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



You just know that when a bird poops on your head early in the morning that it's not going to be an ordinary day.  I had just bent down to pull a few weeds when SPLAT, a berry-laden deposit landed in my hair.  'Not the best way to welcome morning after a restless night.

Ted was not doing well at all, so I was up several times during the night with him.  He has next to no strength in his left rear leg and the other leg is weakening.  This is very worrisome. Since he is now on Lasix he needed to go outside during the night, but at 114 pounds he is not easy to lift.  Our friend in Maine has a similarly-compromised Giant Schnauzer which was equipped with a commercially produced doggie pick-me-up which allowed him to simply lift the big guy like a piece of luggage. The dog seemed very comfortable and appreciative of the assistance, but unfortunately the $150.00 price tag for this aid is not in my budget right now.  Enter clever resourceful Sandy with a modification of the pick me up.  A sling intended for a broken arm with a padded section makes a comfortable band under Ted's lower belly and there's even something akin to a handle.  Leave it to Sandy!

We've had no significant rain for so long that everything is tinder dry, so the great plumes of smoke on the horizon were cause for concern.  I needn't have worried.  Kenny was "cleaning things up" again.  The rapidly-spreading flames were (hopefully) contained on one side by the road pavement and on the other side by farmer Chuck's struggling soy bean field.  The pyromaniac, AKA Kenny was nowhere to be found. 

Wednesday is his day to go to Amish country to load up on spelt bread.  Farmer Chuck was taking advantage of Kenny's absence and surreptitiously spraying herbicide on his crop while keeping a nervous eye on the fire.  Kenny does not condone chemical use on his land, but poor Chuck's soybeans are being consumed by weeds.  I'd love to hear the conversation between him and Kenny when the weeds begin to turn yellow while the beans flourish.

Friend John arrived to survey the barn ceiling project which he predicts will be "a piece of cake" after I remove the remaining mouse-infested insulation, a job I dread and am not up to tackling just now.  After tiring from working on an article I retreated to the cellar and   painted a table I'd retrieved from curbside trashsome time ago.  It looks great and I'm pleased.  By pulling a few weeds each time I head to the barn the gardens are slowly  returning to a 'tended' state and ever so slowly life is returning to normal (whatever that might be).  It's good to be home.


10:11 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



The trip to Maine was memorable, to say the least.  A 1,940 mile road trip is hard to forget!  My friend, her two dogs and I were prisoners of the interstates for two long days each way.  The roads were fine and the weather was clear, but we were on a schedule and stopped only for gas and necessary reliefs for 8+ hours each day.  We won't be doing this again.

When at last we arrived at our destination news from Ohio disrupted the anticipated tranquility.  Ted's vet appointment revealed a serious heart condition that will require monitoring and medication for the rest of his life.  My favorite dog is only ten years young.  While upsetting I was glad that Dr. Costsalot diagnosed the problem and prescribed the appropriate treatment and especially happy to know that competent Sandy, AKA the critter sitter copes with even serious situations with ease.  She is a gem!

Another call was even more upsetting.  News that a close friend is seriously ill came as a total surprise-especially to him.  I cherish my friends and such unsettling news left me feeling sad and helpless. 

When at last we settled into our charming cottage we quickly learned how the slogan "Visit Maine, but bring something to do" came to be.  There wasn't much to do in our area.  A nearby village had many shops selling antiques, souvenirs (yuck), clothes and art.  There were even a few thrift stores.  We visited all but the souvenir places.  I bought a table.

We dined with friends from the area and lounged on our deck overlooking the bay.  All of a sudden we realized that we had actually accomplished our goal, that being to simply relax.  But, the days were too few and no sooner had we unpacked our bags and it was time to hit the highway once again.

And while the view here may not be quite so picturesque as the one from the deck in Maine we found ourselves happy to sit on my deck-home at last.  As all the dogs romped and chased one another while we sipped our glasses of wine we swore that any future travel together will be either via air or someplace a whole lot closer than Maine!

Things happened here while I was away.  Sandy found another stash of eggs atop the hay bales; fourteen to be exact.  One of the Pointer Sisters hatched two more chicks during my absence.  Mother and kids are doing fine.  And while I already have more than enough chickens another setting hen will undoubtedly produce a few more in about a week.  Before I left there was a beautiful crop of butter crunch bib lettuce in the garden.  When I returned there was nothing left but a few riddled leaves and ragged ground-level stumps.  What happened to the lettuce, I wondered aloud.  "That's what your chickens did this afternoon," said Sandy.  No, I do not need/want any more chickens!!!

The soil is as hard and dry as cement, yet the gardens are flourishing (except for the lettuce...).  I will pick the first beans and yellow squash this weekend.  I've noticed one plant that is thriving as never before.  Unfortunately it isn't anything I planted or want.  Purslane has invaded everywhere.  It's in the vegetable garden, the flower garden and even growing between the bricks in the patio.  I know some Euell Gibbons types like old Kenny eat this stuff, but I've tasted it and it's nothing I care to try again. 

Wikapedia has this to say about the invasive weed:  Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the middle east, Asia, and Mexico.[1][3] The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews. Australian Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes. Greeks, who call it andrakla (αντράκλα) or glystrida (γλυστρίδα), fry the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach. In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), "baldroegas" are used as a soup ingredient.

I will not be serving purslane at any upcoming dinner parties!

I'm sorry there were no thrilling adventures to report, no philosophical revelations to share, no magical dining experiences or anything even remotely interesting to record in this blog.  Right now I'm just happy to be home and eager to get back to work. 


7:27 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Up at 5:30 for coffee and then a walk around the village.  Lovely to be all alone!  Finally found the route down to the water (unclimbable cliffs near this cottage), so I ventured down to the rocky shore.  The tide was out and the rocks covered with seaweed.  A long sloping rock leading to some huge boulders that looked like one might be a good spot to watch the sun rise beckoned, so I started to climb the sloping slab, but it was slick as snot and in a flash I came down on the side of my knee.  ouch!  No injury, but I was glad no one was up to see my awkward descent.

The flowers and a few gardens are beautiful.  Peonies are the size of dinner plates and buttercups and forget me nots line the ditches along the lanes.  This charming little village has for the most part retained the look of the 19th century that began as a religious retreat.  Lots of gingerbread cottages, common greens and picturesque sailboats at anchor in the bay.

One can't come to Maine and not have lobster, so last night on the advice of a neighbor we ventured to Young's Lobster Pound with the intention of having a lobster salad or roll.  For $17.50 we were served some undressed chunks of rather tasteless lobster on a burger bun.  This was accompanied by a tiny bag of chips and 3 discs of dill pickle.  That was the most expensive sandwich I've ever had.  Needless to say, we will not be dining there again!

There isn't much to do here, but I wanted to relax and indeed this place is relaxing, so I guess the mission was accomplished.  

7:58 am edt          Comments

Sunday, June 17, 2012



I'm delighted to report that last night's fundraiser was a roaring success.  Everyone had a wonderful time, including me; the band was great as were the food and the guests.  The community support was quite incredible, especially in light of the economy and the event mission was certainly accomplished, that being to raise money for the completion of a recovery and rehabilitation room for Jill's feral cat program.  I'm extremely proud of her and again last night I saw what a special person (not just a special daughter) she is.  She is a fine human being whose existence makes the world a kinder, more humane place for all creatures including the two-legged variety. Those who regard animals as something to respect and care for rather than merely as something to eat or to kill for sport enhance life for humans as well. This was exemplified last night by the countless people who talked about having been the recipients of Jill's kindness.  I could not have a finer daughter.

My packed luggage has thrown Ted into a deep depression, but Julie and Ernie don't seem to care at all. My friend is en route from southern Ohio as I type and tomorrow morning she and I and her two small dogs (one good, one not so good...) will depart on our road trip.  I wish Ted could come along, but sadly there just isn't room in the truck to stuff in a 120 pound dog .

Now that the event that has consumed the past few weeks is over I'm hopeful that my small country life can resume. It already feels like normality is returning. At the barn three  hens are setting and chicks will hatch while I'm relaxing in Maine, but I'm confident that neighbor Sandy, AKA the Critter Sitter can handle everything.  The bad asses are sporting brand new fly masks and they are making it clear that they don't like them.  A brief splatter of much-needed rain this morning was just enough to stimulate weeds in the gardens, but I'm not going to worry about that or anything else until I return.  I'm preparing to relax.




2:01 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, June 16, 2012



Sometimes the most familiar place in the world feels foreign and hardly recognizable.  That's just the feeling I've had for the past week.  Of course having to wear my glasses instead of the contact lenses has added to the unpleasant exotic perception of my world since everything is somewhat distorted, but the real reason for feelings of detachment has to do with preparing for tonight's big event, the arrival of my friend and her two dogs on Sunday and our 900 mile road trip commencing bright and early Monday morning.

The fridge is crammed to the bursting point with trays of deviled eggs and bigger trays of fruit kabobs.  It will be a long time before either of those food items looks tempting.  The several dozen beautifully-dressed baskets (thanks to friend Patti) are now being loaded in the truck to be transported to the gallery at 8:30 am. Clad in my pj's I've been working at it since 5:30 am.  We'll set up the tables of raffle and auction items, and then return at 5:00 pm to set up the food tables and no doubt panic over things forgotten.  At some point I must get dressed.

And while I hate lame excuses, this is why blog posts have been so spotty and distracted.  I'm simply overwhelmed, but hopefully tomorrows post will report that the Stray Cat Strut was a wildly-successful undertaking and that it all went off without a hitch.  I'd keep my fingers crossed, but there's still too much to do and I can't afford to handicap myself.


7:48 am edt          Comments

Thursday, June 14, 2012



This is what 100 deviled eggs looks like in the rough.  Fifty boiled eggs to be shelled, de-yoked, dressed and reassembled for the Saturday night gala.  Although the fundraiser (Stray Cat Strut) for my daughter's feral cat program (Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends) will be catered, I heard myself volunteer to make the eggs as well as 100 fruit skewers.   (Perhaps I was in an altered state of mind when I made this offer.)  Thank goodness for my happy hens who have obligingly cranked out more than the necessary fare.

The scratched cornea is still not healed, so even after another trip to the ophthalmologist this morning my activities remain limited.  It's good that neither deviled eggs nor fruit skewers call for much close-up work. 

While en route home from the doctor an interesting-looking garage sale beckoned and so I stopped.  What a bit of luck! The seller had lots of miscellaneous building supplies (my favorite kind of stuff) and was happy to sell me enough laminate flooring to redo the barn ceiling; all for just $5.00!!!  This is so exciting.  Imagine, a new rigid ceiling for such a small investment, provided it doesn't cost too much to have it put up.  This will not be a do-it-myself project.  I'll just be the person on the floor passing the boards up the guy with a power nailer.  This and all other major projects are officially on hold until after Saturdays event and especially until after my eagerly-anticipated trip to Maine.  The city of barn mice may have to temporarily relocate.


7:08 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



Rumor has it that this farms original barn burned down in the early 1940's.  "Kids playing with matches," is the assumed cause.  When the current barn was built is anyone's guess.  It's cobbled together with a variety of lumber, some of which may have been salvaged from the burned barn.  Shortly after I took ownership a west wing was added lending a Yankee barn design.  With the exception of damage done by the bad asses it is an adequate structure with a cozy unique ambiance.  Time spent out there is usually pleasant, but yesterday was an exception.

The east wing of the barn is divided into two sections, one half serving as the feed room and the other as the chicken coop.  It has a wooden floor, a bank of windows and skylights.  Many years ago it seemed a good idea (wrong...) to insulate the ceiling with paper-backed pink fiberglass which I then covered with heavy clear plastic.  It helped keep that wing snug and comfortable even in winter, but I was not the only one to appreciate the padded ceiling. 

Mice were very grateful for the fluffy fiberglass insulation.  Safe from cats or other dangers it was a great place to call home and to rear generation after generation of new barn dwellers, but occasionally birthing chambers were ill-chosen and pink, bean-sized babies tumbled from above.  Mice are not good housekeepers and the transparent ceiling revealed the extent of their untidy habits and damage.  Tearing it all down and replacing it with something rigid has been on my ‘to do' list for years, but the inevitable mess that would be involved made it easy to postpone the project.  I chose not to think about it.

My still-unresolved eye issue has limited most activities to manual labors not requiring close detail work; things like gardening or cleaning house or other necessary, but tiring tasks, so after mowing both the lawn and the pastures I was ready to call it a day. There were still some barn chores to address, but after that I planned to sit on the porch and take a well-deserved break.  That plan was aborted when I opened the door to the feed room and  was met with a mess to end all messes.

A decades accumulation of shredded paper, fiberglass and about a hundred pounds of mouse poop lay on the floor and great sheets of the same dangled from the rafters. I wanted to cry or turn around, close the door and never re-enter my little barn, but that wasn't an option.  Pulling the loose end of the plastic released an even bigger avalanche of poop and pink shreds that covered the floor to mid-calf depth.

I loaded the bulky stuff into the first of two barrels and a muck bucket, then swept up the copious manure that is probably chock full of nutrients that could, but won't be put on the gardens.  To say the least, it was a horrible job that I wish I could consider ‘done,' but not so.  Only half of the ceiling came down.  The ceiling on the other side of the sky light still has to be pulled down, but first I have to bag up this mess.  So much for ambiance....



2:45 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


It's been hard to type or to do much of anything at all that requires seeing.  That's just about everything.  On Saturday when I cleaned the chicken coop it felt as if I'd gotten a foreign object in my left eye.  I didn't give it much thought, ‘just went to the house, cleaned my contact lens and ignored the slight irritation, but at dinner that evening it became more bothersome and painful.  Long story short; I've not been able to wear my contact lenses since Sunday.  A trip to the ophthalmologist confirmed that I have a scratched cornea.  I was given eye drops and orders not to wear the contacts until Thursday.  Hence, I've been limited to wearing my old specs which cause great distortion.  My eye still hurts and many facets of my daily life are on hold.  If you can read this post, thank your lucky stars.

10:27 pm edt          Comments

Monday, June 11, 2012



This evenings uninvited dinner guest was just arriving at the garden shed whenI opened the back door to head for the barn.  The fat mama coon apparently was not discouraged by the absence of cat chow last night (I'd removed Rattycat's food bowl after his afternoon meal) and thought she'd check out the restaurant again tonight--just in case. 

"YOU!  Get out of here!" I ordered as we faced one another.  No one was more surprised than I when like an obedient child she turned and sauntered away.  Yes, I feel a teensy bit guilty because I know she has a family to feed.  Her kids were bickering on the bridge this morning at 6:00 am, but I had to put my foot down.  Speaking from experience I know that one raccoon will go through a seven pound bag of cat food in a week and since I'm feeding eight felines, adding this bandit to the dinner party is out of the question.

There has been quite a show of wildlife since yesterday when a sharp,"wheet, wheet, wheet" beckoned me from the house.  Standing upright in the middle of the paddock was one very plump groundhog.  We exchanged greetings and then I retired to the porch with my book, but stationed where I'd have a clear view of the lower field.  No sooner had I settled in when one, two, three, four little gray heads popped up to look at me.  The babies raced around the paddock, playing, eating, climbing the one tree the bad asses haven't destroyed and putting on quite a show.  Nothing is cuter than baby groundhogs, not even baby raccoons.

Later, as I headed off for evening chores I was greeted by one red squirrel and one gray squirrel with a bright white spot on his chest.  The pair followed me toward the barn as if they lived there.  Back at the house a doe on the nature trail nodded a brief hello before heading into the woods. 

Life is good for wildlife living here.  They might not get a big bowl of cat food, but they won't get shot either.


8:46 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, June 10, 2012



When Super Sue and Bud built the charming bridge, it spanned a channel where cold spring water gurgled over Sue's strategically-placed rocks and flowed down to the pond that it kept fresh, clear and inviting.  Today the bridge spans a bone-dry, weed-choked ditch that wends down to an equally-dry, weed-choked pit.  But, this is not to suggest the bridge is without purpose. 

Although it was certainly more romantic to lie supine over flowing water, the sturdy wooden span remains a wonderful escape; a mini-meditation spot.  A short path leads from the mowed lawn to the bridge where I enjoy lying on my back, gazing into the treetops and beyond.  The boards are smooth and clean and hard and it feels good to acknowledge my body's pressure points.  Usually a cat or two stretches out beside me.  Today a gray squirrel scolded Peggy Sue and me from a high limb as if we were trespassing.  It was lovely in spite of the drought.

In an uncharacteristic optimistic spate, I retrieved the weed whacker and cleared the ditch in anticipation of a day when the spring will again bubble out of the ground and fill the waiting waterway with icy water.  Until then Bud and Sue's creation will not go unused.  I've christened it the ‘bridge of hope.'   Right now, like everyone else I am hoping for rain.


4:35 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, June 9, 2012




The chick is only about a week old, but mother and child were tired of being ‘cooped up.' Even with screened door and window it's stuffy in there, so this afternoon they were released to the transition pen and what a joyous event that was. 

The hen immediately scratched up the soil and covered herself with dust, coating the peep with dirt in the process.  I admit that even after all these years I still enjoy watching the chicks discover the big world outside the coop.  They're always so cautious and skeptical about venturing down the ramp, but the hens are always more than eager to get outside, so the baby dutifully follows.  She scratches and clucks and picks at invisible morsels and the child prodigy imitates her every move. 

Wouldn't it be great if humans experienced such a sense of wonder in discovering the simple things life has to offer?


5:15 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, June 7, 2012



Most of the hens here are roughly the same size.  There are no Jersey Giants nor any tiny Bantys, so the eggs are relatively uniform in size-at least until a few days ago when the coop held several surprises.

I don't know which of the girls was responsible for the itty bitty egg, but I do know that Gladys laid the one that looks as if an ostrich had sneaked into the barn and made a deposit.  Ever the drama queen my favorite hen was very proud of herself, although I imagine she was also rather sore after producing this whopper.

Several weeks ago two other hens went broody.  Stationed in adjoining laying boxes they sat staring into space rather than joining their friends who were busy digging up my gardens.  I don't really want more chickens than I already have, so I allowed the hens to keep just one egg each which I marked with the date setting began.  This should have satisfied them and wouldn't have increased the flock too much.

Maybe they objected to my taking the unmarked eggs their gardening friends deposited each day, but after several days of setting their allocated single eggs, they would toss the egg out of the nest or take up their vigil in another laying box allowing the marked egg to cool, thus rendering it unviable.  The only thing that remained consistent was their broodiness.  It became a ridiculous game; they'd get an egg, set a while, then toss it out or abandon it.  Ultimately I just marked a few eggs with a green ? and ignored the two ladies in waiting. 

Yesterday I opened the coop to find one of the girls ‘brooding' on the floor.   Expecting to find yet another discarded egg when I picked her up to return her to the box, instead I found this little cutie.  Mother and baby are now in the maternity ward.  The remaining hen is still on 2 ?-marked eggs, one of which is emitting sounds of activity, so hopefully this nonsense will soon end and the flock will only increase by two. 


6:21 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, June 6, 2012



Sacking out is something horsemen do to desensitize horses to things that may frighten them, such as plastic bags blowing in the wind.  As seen in these photos Andy has taken sacking out to a whole new level. 

I'd just emptied some feed into grain bins at the barn and tossed the empty sack on the floor.  Corky thought himself quite clever or maybe he figured I wouldn't notice when he grabbed the big plastic bag and took off across the paddock waving it in the air. Head thrown back and prancing like a Hackney pony he tore around as if he were in a parade.  His best friend followed in hot pursuit.  I'm not really sure whether the sack was as much fun as the act of stealing it, but the bad asses were having a great time.  They had just gotten their other favorite toy a few days ago and everyone knows that two toys are better than one.

The Susanne Sommers Thigh Master was discovered at a garage sale for $1.00, but marked down to fifty cents.  This particular model is the donkeys' favorite. They got their first taste of the Thigh Master when someone gave one to me for my birthday (some present...).  ‘Not sure if it was a gag gift or a hint, but I passed it on to the boys and they played with it for months, putting it on each other's back, playing tag or tug of war or just dragging it around.  Ms. Sommers probably didn't realize that her toning device would be subjected to such rough handling, so it didn't hold up well.  Since then I pick up the ubiquitous fitness gadgets whenever they pop up at rummage sales, but $1.00 is top price.

Imagine the unbridled joy these guys are had with their two new training tools.  Andy put the Thigh Master on Corky's back, and then waved the plastic feed sack in front of his pal.  Note Corky's ears which indicate he is not amused, but I think it's safe to say that the bad ass training camp has accomplished its mission.  Neither donkey is intimidated by plastic bags and both boys are nicely toned.


8:51 am edt          Comments

Tuesday, June 5, 2012



The startled doe stood in the middle of the donkeys' paddock as rifle blasts echoed from all directions.  She looked nervous, but somehow relieved to be in a safe place. Our eyes locked and I only hope I conveyed that she is indeed safe so long as she stays on this property.  Since day #1 of owning this farm I committed it to be a sanctuary of peace where nature reigns supreme, but recently it has felt more like a tiny island within a war zone.

The unrelenting annihilation of the natural world both near (as in right here on this road) and far (as in just about every place on the planet) is so depressing that I feel sapped of nearly all physical and mental energy. 

The buzz word of the pre-election season is "growth."  Not once have I heard or read one politician talk about sustainability.  Enough is never enough for too many people.  Admittedly, it has been hard for me to remain optimistic. I feel isolated partly by choice, but sometimes hope and encouragement comes when least expected and from unusual places. 

For me, this much-needed shot of sanguinity came from the editor of an outstanding blog.  I can't recommend Priscilla Stuckey's  strongly enough.  It's wonderful.  Her blog, unlike mine is intellectual, focused, objective and most of all encouraging.

And so, while I seem to be surrounded by people who choose to ignore global climate change, preferring to believe the babble and lies of corporations over the facts of hard science, people who refuse to alter their consumer-driven lifestyles even a tiny bit to give nature a fighting chance, people who bombard me with absurd emails punctuated with their political or religious fervor, it is refreshing and rejuvenating and even necessary for sanity to be reminded that kindred souls do exist. 

People like Ms. Stuckey and others who have not been beaten down by the "opposition" inspire and invigorate me.  So should you also need a shot of enthusiasm and/or hope, I urge you to read This Lively Earth.  It's great.


9:46 am edt          Comments

Sunday, June 3, 2012



People have been extremely generous in donating items for the upcoming fundraiser, but all those things needed to be sorted and put into some sort of presentable format.  Patty to the rescue.  My dear jeweler/artist/ friend is inherently talented when it comes to ‘presentation' and once again she came to my rescue.  She is organized where I am not.  Patty has flair where I have none.  She is disciplined where admittedly I am easily distracted.  But thanks to my childhood friend an overwhelming task is now completed and we are one step closer to being 'ready' for the big event.

We worked all day and had lots of laughs. While she was 'creating' beautiful baskets I played the rold of  mule, running the completed wares up to the safety of the guest room, off limits to thieves like Ted and a couple of clever felinesOne person had very generously donated two huge boxes of cat and dog toys, not all of which were intended for this particular fundraiser.  With the stealth of a seasoned pick-pocket Ted managed to sneak two toys that he fancied out of a box and into the privacy of the living room.  He's very pleased with himself (of course he was allowed to keep them).  

Meanwhile Little Ivy was helping herself to a catnip mouse. Actually, she was trying for several of them.  By the time her crime was discovered she had slobbered all over one and was deliriously rolling herself up in a rug, eyes dilated and glassy.  Who knew cat nip could be so much fun.  I was tempted to chew on one of those mice myself.

These thieves would ultimately have been given a couple of toys, but the fact that their bountywas  stolen seemed to make the new playthings a lot more fun.

As for Patty, I'm forever awed by her kindness, her generosity and her reliability and feel very blessed to have such a good old friend. 


9:03 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, June 2, 2012


 We are coming down to the wire and all I can say is that putting this together is a lot of work, but the cause more than justifies the effort.  Today we hung the artwork at the gallery. 

                                                                    Stray Cat Strut

                           A fundraiser for Cripple Creek Ferals and Friends


When?  Sat. June 16 at 7:00

Where?  First Row Centre for the Arts in Greentown

Cost?  Tickets are 25.00 per person

         Available through paypal at or by mail

         at CCFF  P.O. Box 272 Uniontown, Ohio  44685 or

         at First Row Centre for the Arts. 

What?  There will be wonderful cat art by local artists with a

         portion of the proceeds going to CCFF.  Live music provided

         by Blonde Boy Grunt and the Groans as well as food, raffles

         and LOTS of fun!!

     Why? To raise money for CCFF Recovery and Rehabilitation Center.

More Info?  Check out or\ Stray Cat Strut on Facebook or call 330-671-8088



7:22 pm edt          Comments

Friday, June 1, 2012



I didn't expect to have to build a fire in the woodstove or to don a polar fleece jacket to do barn chores, and maybe (just maybe...) I over-reacted, but darn, it's cold!

I often comment about the peace and tranquility of old Kenny's farm which sits far back from the road.  Once over the little rise in his dirt lane it's like entering another world; a place the ugly real world hasn't yet discovered.  I cherish Kenny's farm for every day of its existence, for I know that this magical place won't last much longer.

Cow apparently tired of her pasture pals this week as she has been known to do in the past, but this time as she meandered south through the fields, nipping off buttercups Cow found herself in a bovine heaven, an all you can eat buffet of tender young corn shoots.  "I guess she ate some of your corn," Kenny said rhetorically to Farmer Chuck.

It would be great if a renegade cow was the only problem in our area, but that's not so.  Our quiet road has not only become a shooting range for lunatics intent on wiping out all creatures great and small, but one where peace is also disrupted by a privately-owned racetrack for the loudest motor bikes ever created.  As if these annoyances were not enough, our little two lane road has become a speedway.  Incredibly the official speed limit on any un-posted rural road is 55 mph, an utterly insane limit.  So what to do...?

Addressing this issue with township trustees has not been productive in the past and it's not likely to be in the future.  We, the complainers (AKA the rational and polite people who live here) have been informed that to get an actual speed limit sign erected requires 1) a traffic count 2) a record of fatal accidents 3) about $4,000.00 (an unexplained figure).  Is common sense an endangered concept? It must be, so taking personal action might be required.

It's too early for out-sized zucchini, something I've put in the road as temporary speed bumps in the past and these days I just don't have the time to cut animal silhouettes out of sod (turned upside down) to suggest a dead dog in the middle of the road.  My "Please slow down" sign has never so much as provoked even a tap of any brake.  Angry outbursts and sign language directed at the speeders have been equally futile. I've run out of ideas and welcome suggestions from other disgruntled rural dwellers craving a gentler way of life. Help!

7:46 pm edt          Comments

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