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Sunday, March 31, 2013



My small country life used to be peaceful, but yesterdays lovely spring-like weather brought out chainsaws, dirt bikes and guns to the east, west and south.  So much for peace and quiet.  Across the road my neighbors are currently ‘celebrating' Easter with their semi-automatic rifles.  Julie and Ernie are afraid to go out to pee, but Tess is too young to be frightened. 

This pup is a joy.  For too long  I've found little to smile about, but it's impossible not to smile as I watch her discover things.  No leaf goes unturned, no stick is uninvestigated and even the pond has been too tempting to resist.  The dog pound said she's a "Lab-mix," but I'd say the "mix" is minimal. 

Retrievers are special and it takes a certain kind of owner to appreciate having so many items once thought to have been discarded returned in the soft mouth of an enthusiastic puppy who has just found the compost pile, the New Yorker I thought was safe on the sofa, donkey poo from the wheel barrow and any number of other things she finds more interesting than toys or rawhides. 

What can I say?  She's just too cute for words.


1:49 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, March 28, 2013



There has been little to no joy on this farm since Ted's death.  Unlike some people who after the loss of a beloved pet say, "Oh, I just couldn't deal with something like that again...," and they vow never to have another pet, I knew I would get another dog.  Something in need would come my way and it has.  I call her Tess.

Almost daily my daughter was sending photos of adorable dogs available for adoption, but none of them ‘spoke' to me--not until I saw the lab-mix and her sister on the Carroll County Dog Pound website.

"Yes, they're still here, but we've had a lot of calls about them, so if you're interested you'd better hurry," said the lady at the Pound when I phoned to inquire.  The following morning before 7:00 am my friend Stef and I were on the road en route to Carrollton which is about an hour away. 

Tess' sister had already been taken, but the remaining fat little pup waddled right up to me as if to say, "I'm all yours."  Not surprisingly she's fitting right into this household.  Ernie and Julie immediately accepted their energetic and enthusiastic sibling, but the cats, like those poor imprisoned Guantanamo 'detainees' have staged a mass hunger strike.  Only Little Ivy tolerates Tess' inquiring sniffs.  The others scurry like scared rats from one hiding place to another, eyes wide and hackles raised.  They hate her, but it's a temporary contempt I'm sure.

As for myself, I'd forgotten how powerful puppy lungs are.  Overnight confinement to the laundry room was met with very loud opposition!  Poor Ernie looked bleary-eyed this morning and Julie's demeanor was especially subdued, but once outside for morning ablutions the fun was again underway.  Tess is a good thing for all of us.

Her bright eyes remind me of Ted's inquisitive looks.  Her black coat is shiny and she's fat as a little piglet.  I make a big fuss praising her for taking care of 'business' outside rather than on a rug, but I know she's too young to connect the accolades with toilet behavior.  Even so I think Tess is a very bright girl.  Joy has returned to the Peaceable Kingdom.

The Carroll County Dog Pound is tiny block building run by a couple of employees who do a great job with very limited resources.  They really care about the strays, the abandoned, the unwanted canines that come through their doors one way or the other.  Things look grim for one old coon hound whose owner has been contacted, but who hasn't bothered to claim him although he knows the dog is waiting at the pound. 

"The poor old guy won't eat," said the worker trying to entice the old dog with gentle words and treats, but the dog's eyes were clouded with sadness and despair.  His fate does not look promising.  His owner has probably already gotten himself a younger dog and has no intention of collecting the one waiting at the Pound.  It broke my heart.


2:29 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, March 23, 2013



While some writers use blogs to spill their guts on line, I prefer not to do that.  I'll simply say that some current disruptions make it necessary for me to temporarily resort to weekly, rather than daily posts. 

It seems as if only yesterday my small country life was simple and uncomplicated, but that is no longer the case, so to those who have questioned the sporadic entries here I hope this vague explanation will suffice for now.  Ultimately my life will return to ‘normal' (whatever that may be...) and bad ass bulletins, news of the road and gifts from Kenny will again be shared, but right now I need a break.

2:25 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



            "You go on ahead of me," insisted the ginger-haired lady in the checkout line.  "It's my day off.  I just worked a twelve hour shift and I don't have anything else to do," she continued.

            "Maybe you need a hobby," I suggested, smiling at her to acknowledge the courtesy.  She looked tired. Her strange eyes were unblinking and open very wide, as if perpetually surprised.  Coppery curls framed an unlined face, but not a happy one. She was pretty in an odd way, but she wasn't young.

            "Yeh, I work three twelve hour days and then I'm off for a day," she said.  It was obvious she wanted to chat, so I asked where she worked and she named a ‘motel' I'd never heard of and I said so.  She said she was the receptionist, but she certainly didn't look like one of the perky young women that greet guests at a Marriott.

            "Oh, we're really small.  We rent rooms for $20.00 for six hours. It's pretty awful," she opined.  I admitted that I had often thought it would be "fun" to buy such an establishment and to do up each room in an exotic theme.  My check-out line pal quickly squelched that idea!

            "No,no  you'd never want to do that!  They wreck the rooms.  People only come there for sex or to do drugs.  They clean their crack pipes on our white towels and then they're ruined," she said shaking her coppery head in disgust.  "I don't know what's wrong with people nowadays.  No one has any respect for other people's property."

            It was my turn at the check-out.  I tossed my few items on the counter, paid and wished her a pleasant day off, but by that time she was already regaling the twenty-something year old cashier with the same story.

            Yes, a hobby would be a good thing, I thought as I hurried from the store.

9:03 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



           "I wonder how your stair steps got so scratched," mused my friend.

           Well, in a house that's been around for almost two centuries this is anybody's guess, but it is possible that the four-legged residents here may have contributed to what I like to call "the rustic patina." (That's putting it mildly!)

            Most people would sand the treads, replace those that have chewed corners or pieced-in bits, but I like them just as they are.  When I bought this place tacked-on rubber treads had been in place so long they had fused with the wood in some spots.  Removing those eyesores wasn't easy.  It involved lots of scraping and even a hair dryer to soften the stinky old cement. 

          When they were finally clean I painted them and installed an Oriental runner that worked exceedingly well as a fur magnet. That was a royal pain to clean, so the runner was very short-lived.

            The stairs make many twists and turns right up to the third floor where the 1" spindle balusters retain some of the original 1821 paint which I thought of as 'German blue' and had replicated.  For a while the stairs bore a 20th century version of that color which peeks through the current brick red. 

           Unless I'm some day overcome with a wave of decorating zeal the stairs will stay as they are; the patina evolving with the passing of many feet.  The stairs remind me of all those who trod this farm long before I and my menagerie arrived and I like that.  Although I live alone it's never lonely here. 

            I sometimes imagine John Grog (‘Graugh' according to a tombstone at the nearby cemetery) trudging up these very same steps at the end of a long day in the fields or the orchard.  Until the madman tenant who systematically desecrated the house prior to when I bought it, there was a door about four steps up from the main floor.  Said madman tore it out and burned it as he did so many other architectural features.  That door would have been useful in stanching the icy drafts from the unheated second floor.  I suspect the original family left it open at night to allow downstairs heat to waft up to their bedrooms.  That's still how the upstairs is ‘heated' and it's quite adequate.

            There's nothing fancy about this place.  It's plain and unpretentious, but it's comfortable largely in part to all those who came before me (except for the madman!).  And so, I'll keep the stairs with their deep gouges and fading paint as my own contribution to their  historical footprint.

3:31 pm edt          Comments

Monday, March 18, 2013



"OMG! There's a cat sitting in the passenger's seat of a truck out there!"  The woman was clearly shocked when she came into the bank with this announcement. 

I had to fess up.  "That's just Walter.  He likes to ride in the truck."

Poor little Walter doesn't seem to realize as he absentmindedly gazes out the window that most kitties do not enjoy road trips, but Walt is no ordinary kitty.

It's obvious that he once had a home and lived in someone's house, but as evidenced by his barn litterbox misfires his old age  incontinence likely led to someone dumping the old guy.  His days are now spent snoozing in the garden shed with Rattycat or sitting on the patio bench waiting for his mid-day yogurt.  Around 6:00 PM he toddles along beside me, up to the barn for chores and dinner.  That's when I dutifully deliver his evening hot meal (he also gets hot breakfasts...) after which he's ready to retire for the night. 

Walter's weight has doubled since that cold rainy day when I found him teetering along the roadside more dead than alive.  I imagine his life has undergone several dramatic changes, but he now seems content with his new life. 

After I finish at the barn the hay room is safely locked for the night to protect him from any nocturnal marauders like coons or opossums.  His ‘cave' is a cardboard box covered with a down comforter.  Inside the box is his heated pressure-sensitive bed.  When he steps on the fleecy pad the heater is activated, so even on the coldest nights Walter is safe and warm in his hay room digs. He is indeed a special little fellow.


10:28 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, March 14, 2013


...Is a friend indeed.  Little Ivy is ancient and deaf as a stone, but she's a sweetie tolerated by all.  She insists on spending nightS snuggled up against one of the dogs (Ted was her favorite), but for quick cat naps any of her feline friends will suffice.  

Sissy (solid gray) and Peggy Sue were already snoozing on the sofa when Little Ivy decided to join them.  In her dotage she craves warmth and decided the most comfy and warmest place would be on top of her fluffy pals.  After all, heat does rise, right?


3:32 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



I hear the midnight train whistle's long mournful ‘tooooooot' followed by two short ‘toot toots' as it passes in the distance destined for who knows where.  It's several miles away, but the sound cuts through the silent black night and seems to beckon;  Karrrrr-ennnnn, Come On!  I wish I could.  At 2:15 another train repeats the invitation.  I can't sleep.  I lie awake in the darkness, overwhelmed by recent changes in my formerly carefree life.

Many years ago when events unrelated to current situations had darkened my life I ran off to Australia.  For an entire month I roamed a country unfamiliar and wonderful, finally returning with a strength equally unfamiliar and wonderful.  Geographic relocation has always been my preferred method of coping.  Unfortunately, that's not an option now.

"What could be so wrong?" friends ask, but I can't answer.  Individually my problems don't seem insurmountable, but in total (thus far) they're getting the best of me and old coping mechanisms aren‘t working.

Another dear friend (also a writer) who has recently been given a death sentence is facing this dismal fate with stunning pragmatism and turning out some fine work in spite of the physical difficulty.  Still another friend (the one who was taken away from here by ambulance last week) is facing the same fate, but prolonged by the health care industry to maximize profits, he will linger drugged, unaware and vulnerable to their whims.  

Losing friends is maddening and painful not because it reminds us of our own destiny, but because the departed (or soon to be departed) enhanced our lives.  I selfishly don't want them to leave and grief over those that have already gone is not lessening with the passage of time.

Outside labor would surely help my mood, but winter drags on.  The gray skies, biting winds and general ugliness refuse to give way to spring.  A few brave daffodils poke through the muddy soil and the blooming snow drops are doing their best to assure me that brighter days are just ahead, but right now that's hard to believe.

Certainly the biggest contributor to my current despair is the law suit.  Try to imagine the intrusion of a stranger accusing you of some undefined offense.  It's unsettling to say the least.  I've done nothing wrong, but until the wheels of the legal system get rolling my life seems to be on hold in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable spot. How nice it would be to hop on one of these night trains to who knows where....


4:44 am edt          Comments

Saturday, March 9, 2013



The barter system is great and very much alive in the country.  I used to trade garden produce for fresh walleye.  Sometimes it was even filleted!  I've traded eggs for mason work and for plants, but todays barter beats them all:  I'm trading a truckload of manure for an Oriental rug.  It goes without saying that considering the bad ass manure production I am getting the better end of this deal.  I'm even looking forward to the labor of loading as physical activity is always helpful in taking one's mind off problems and these days problems are plentiful!   

Yesterday I had a visit from seldom seen friends, but no sooner were they in the house when one of them was struck with violent dibilitating spasms of pain which necessitated calling 911.  A fleet of emergency vehicles arrived and transported my stricken old friend to hospital where he remains (undiagnosed).  Like wildfire, news of "something happening at Kirsch's..." spread up the road.  Such concern is comforting.  People look out for one another here.  

The computer issue that I'd hoped would be repaired turned out to be terminal.  The old behemoth is junk, replaced by a lightning fast new model, but like all changes, getting used to the new programs, etc. is going to take some time.  I'm looking forward to getting back to work in my office next week and hopefully blog posts will also be resumed.  

Orange kitty was successfully tricked into a cat carrier, tempted by a bowl of smelly canned food placed at the rear of the cage.  Unlike Walter who adores road trips, orange kitty did not, but after two days at the vet clinic and a final truck ride home he exited the cage as if his tail were on fire and vanished. 

I worried at first, but discovered that he has decided to move up to neighbor Sandy's barn where food comes without the risk of entrapment, transport and alteration of his manhood.  He's joined her feline family (whether she's aware of it yet or not), but he won't be fathering any offspring.  All's well that ends well.

9:54 am est          Comments

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Walter the elder thinks he is a dog, so he was delighted to hop in the truck today. He goes to the grocery, the hardware and the feed mill with me, riding in the passenger seat, peering out the window as if passenger cats are commonplace.  He looks so ratty and ancient and passersby always do a double-take, but Walter is happy as a clam when he's going for a ride--even if it is to the vet.  He's gained another pound in the past month.  His ear condition has cleared up and the clinic is amazed at how the funny old fellow has rallied.

A fellow animal lover rescued a beautiful Rottweiler and thanks to  networking I think I've found a worthy home for it.  Then there's orange kitty (OK)....  He's the cat that met me when I returned from my recent trip, having decided (after probably being dumped) that this would be a good place to live.  He too went to the vet yesterday, but unlike Walter OK was not happy about being tricked into a carrier, going for a ride and he was most certainly not happy about losing his family jewels, but his injured foot was also treated and that must feel much better now.  After his overnight recuperation he was happy to return to what he thinks is his home, oblivious to the fact that he will be moving to Farmer Chuck's farm later this week.  What can I say?  Animals are my life. 

The computer guru has not yet repaired my computer, hence my access is still very limited and no photos can be posted.

8:16 pm est          Comments

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Due to very limited access (until the computer guru arrives next week) regular blog posts will be brief and without photos, but will resume with farm news ASAP. Life has been very disrupted lately, but the red wing blackbird has promised that spring is just around the corner in spite of the snow that still covers the ground. I remain hopeful.  

I've been the recipient of a variety of breads this week.  All arrive in black garbage bags or large cardboard boxes.  Tomorrow I'll reciprocate with a dozen eggs for Kenny.  He is not looking well these days and word on the road is that some relatives are circling like vultures.  I've never seen or met any of the alleged "relatives" but reports have come from a few sources. How sad.

The new demolition project is on hold until things dry out, but I'm excited about the possibilities for extended wildlife plots as well as an evergreen barrier on the north end of the property. The bad asses are really enjoying the activity so near to their barnyard. This about concludes the news du jour, but posts will resume as soon as the computer issues are resolved.  Stay tuned.

7:03 pm est          Comments

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