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Sunday, September 28, 2014



Things are not going well here despite the beautiful autumn weather, the whisper of falling leaves and the glorious colors--outside anyway....  Inside the color du jour is red.

In the past week Ernie has contracted something called Anaplasmosis.  It all began when I found a large drop of blood on the rim of the dogs' water bowl, yet I could find no sign of injury on any of the 3 dogs or 4 housecats.  The following day I found Ernie's ear was bleeding profusely from a seemingly-invisible wound on the front edge of the ear flap.  I was only able to staunch the flow by applying corn starch. 

Ernie is a big (117 pounds) lug happy to lie on the porch, swim in the pond or trot around the pasture, but he's certainly not an adventurous fellow.  He wouldn't think of venturing into uncharted territory, so the likelihood of his ear getting snagged on brambles was practically non-existent.  It was quite a mystery, but I thought the issue had been addressed and didn't give it another thought until the following day when bleeding broke out again. 

Off to the vet.  Stuffing Ernie into the back seat of the truck is challenging.  Unlike his canine companions Ern is not fond of going for a ride anywhere.  On the exam table he received a thorough check of heart, lungs, gut, etc., but when the vet pulled back his lips to check his gums we discovered starbursts of broken blood vessels in his mouth.  More of these were on the inside flaps of both ears and there was dark bruising on his great big belly.

She was puzzled and prescribed a standard antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory, but since she had no explanation for the condition she drew blood to send to the lab.  The results came the following day, along with more spontaneous bleeding.  His platelets were extremely low and the lab diagnosed Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease.  Here's a layman's explanation from the internet. 

Infection with A. platys can cause cyclic thrombocytopenia, a condition in which there is a periodic decrease in platelets (circulating cells that help in the blood clotting process). Clinical disease is often mild, but some dogs may develop bruising or bleeding (including nosebleeds), especially during the early stages of infection when platelet counts may be at their lowest. 

All information on this condition promises that recovery is "excellent" when treated with the antibiotic doxicycline, not the antibiotic Ernie was taking, so back to the vet for $85.00 worth of the wonder drug that is not working.  He's now had bleeding from both ears as well as a spot on his nose which I staunch with a clotting powder the vet sent home "just in case...."  Other than the unprovoked hemorrhaging he is active and happy as a clam.  I doubt the diagnosis since all dogs have been on flea-tick-heartworm prevention since early springtime.  Ernie and I will be back at the vet tomorrow.

Worrying and caring for one of the animals is stressful, but it's often a good impetus to address unpleasant tasks, so yesterday I tackled the invasive tall ragweed that seems determined to fill the field east of the porch despite all efforts to eradicate it.  I would cut it down and burn the dreaded stuff hopefully before it cast its seeds for next year.  That was the plan.  I opened the throttle on the tractor and plowed into the towering ragweed, pokeweed and other monstrous plants which showered me with seeds, pollen and who knew what else. It felt a bit itchy, but that was to be expected.

Not until I stepped into the shower and water hit my face did the intense burn hit.  It felt as if I'd been scalded!  My face was on fire and quickly turned red and swollen.  Within minutes I looked like an overripe tomato and it is no better today.  Creams and oils are offering no relief.

Between Ernie's spontaneous bleeding and my stinging crimson face the Peaceable Kingdom has become a third-rate infirmary.  Things are not good here.  Keep fingers crossed!



12:17 pm edt          Comments

Friday, September 12, 2014



I knew from the tell-tale tire tracks in the grass that Kenny had paid a visit while I was away.  He prefers to come by when I'm gone, partly because of his inherent shyness, but he's also becoming rather hard of hearing.  It's easier to just stop by, drop off his curious gifts and leave.  What would it be today, I wondered as I got out of the truck.

On the patio bench were two very large multi-grain baguettes (unwrapped and teeming with small bugs) and one gallon of something brown and fizzy that looked on the verge of exploding.  It was, of course cider.  After all, fall is in the air, but this brew looked like it had been riding around in the back of his truck since last fall.  A few days ago he left one loaf of spelt bread and a 1996 book called Healthy Living.  Maybe hard cider was recommended by the author I've never heard of and who did not look terribly healthy in his cover photo. 

The chickens could have the baguettes, I figured, but what to do with the bulging jug of cider.  I don't like the stuff even when it's fresh!  Then I noticed the sticker. 

WARNING:  This product has not been pasteurized and therefore may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems.

About that time neighbor Sandy arrived.  "Yes, I'll take some, but I don't want the whole gallon.  I like cider," she said despite the warning and the gurgling contents.  I strained half of it through a sieve and discarded the mother, then advised Sandy to run into town for some Imodium because I'm pretty sure she's going to need it if she drinks this stuff. Look what the bread did to the chickens!  They're all in a stupor (actually they are sunning themselves on the porch...).

Even so, how can I not adore my dear old neighbor Kenny?  He's one of a kind.


5:58 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, September 7, 2014



My friend Patti from Fifth Street came for a visit this weekend and brought along her lovely friend Precious. "I think Precious is such a lovely person because her mother gave her such an affectionate name," I said.  Patti agreed.  Names matter.

Some of my friends call me Karina and I like that name. It's far more interesting and exotic than boring old ‘Karen' which my mother claimed she "had to" name me because everyone was calling their daughters ‘Karen' the year I was born.  She was such a conformist....  I'm glad my chums dubbed me Karina.  This special name might come in handy some day. 

Growing up on Fifth Street, none of the neighborhood men had normal names and their adopted monikers weren't reflections of physical characteristics except for my Uncle Bill who was called Red by some of his friends, but in his case it referred to his hair color.  My dad's name was actually Lawrence, but few people even knew that.  He went by Andy.  In the house behind ours lived Arlo, but everyone called him Brookie.  Tubby Margo (who was not fat) lived down the street. I don't what his real name was, but I doubt that his mother named him Tubby.  George B.went by Stef.  Zero lived across the street, but he was actually Clarence.  Patti's dad's name was Nick, but in the neighborhood his name was Mush. 

While all of these guys (and it was only men who had double-identities) had odd names, perhaps the oddest of all was Gizmo who was really Robert.  When Gizmo was arrested for some sexual offence no one knew it was their neighbor until his wife spilled the beans.  Like I said, nicknames can come in handy.


9:42 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, September 2, 2014



Over the years I've written endearingly about the eccentric ways of my neighbor, old Kenny.  The cookies, soups and other edibles I leave neatly tucked inside his newspaper box always seem to provoke some odd reciprocation and while the food items from me seem logical gifts to lonely old farmer stumbling about in mountains of clutter, I have received 'gifts' from him which have covered a very strange and specious gamut. 

Of course there have been literally countless loaves of spelt bread (...and it's ALWAYS spelt), gallons upon gallons of slightly-tainted raw milk from his less than hygienic 'dairy,' boxes of photos of people I don't know, a steel-rimmed wagon wheel, a sequined cowboy hat, books on reversing the aging process (he's an expert), various imperfect tableware items and even an occasional ‘keeper' like the elegant little 19th century porcelain dog, but today my old neighbor really outdid himself.


It was pouring rain as I hurried from the truck to the house. There, on the patio bench was yesterdays empty Tupperware container accompanied by something I had no idea that I needed; Dr. Scholl's Wart Remover!   Does Kenny know something I don't know???  And about the bright orange NOT FOR SALE sticker on the soggy box ....  WHERE did he acquire this curious gift?  Methinks maybe from the auction dregs.

What can I say?  How many folks have a neighbor like Kenny?

3:36 pm edt          Comments

Monday, September 1, 2014



When a chick exhaustingly pecks its way out of an egg it is fragile, vulnerable and pathetic.  That's just how old Kenny appeared as he struggled to extricate himself from the ivory-colored Volvo--a delicate life, but not one just beginning.


At first I didn't recognize the car that pulled up to the gate.  Then I saw the downy gray hair poking up from an almost-bald head and the familiar beak of a nose and I knew it was my dear old neighbor.  Kenny bought the car about a year ago, but he rarely drives it, preferring his red 4 x4 truck, the one that's filled to the roofline with newspapers, dented cans of fruits and vegetables, miscellaneous items picked up at the weekly auction (things buyers left behind), half-empty bottles of vinegar, car parts, garden tools and god knows what else.  The cab and the capped bed of the red truck are treasure troves of junk with a fragile old farmer somehow crammed in behind the steering wheel.  But, today he was driving the Volvo and he was dressed up, not clad in his usual too-big overalls and floppy goulashes. 


"Hey neighbor," I say in my most chipper voice, "What are you up to?"


"Oh, I brought you some hot dog buns.  You can just cook some wieners and you'll have your dinner," he says.


"But Kenny, I'm a vegetarian, remember?"


"Well, you can just eat ‘em anyway," he reasons and hands me two packages of spelt hot dog buns.  I thank him and don't mention that the chickens will be having spelt buns for breakfast.


He tells me he's been to Middlefield (a considerable journey for an almost-ninety year old man) and that since the store closes at three o'clock he "...had to drive really fast."  The trip had clearly been a special adventure which explained the freshly-laundered, snap-button, cowboy shirt, khaki pants and stiff new shoes. 


"I have something for you too," I tell him and his face brightens, but he feigns a protest.  "Oh, I don't need anything," he says unconvincingly, but I run into the kitchen and grab the Tupperware container of leftover shrimp casserole. When I tell him what it is he grins, displaying the one remaining tooth that he refuses to part with.  Eventually he crawls back into the Volvo and creeps up the road no longer in a rush, then turns down the long lane toward the house crammed with so much stuff that no one is allowed inside.  Inside, I know he'll eat his shrimp casserole all by himself.


After his sister died, his dog died and as if that weren't enough even his favorite cow died. That's about when the spelt bread deliveries began; hundreds of loaves often in boxes, sometimes in garbage bags and other times just tossed over the gate; brown slices scattered all over the driveway.  Occasionally the bread is fresh, but more often than not it's way past its ‘best-by' date. Kenny too is long past his ‘best by' years. 


One day soon I fear, judging by his very frail condition he too will die.  Then the distant relatives rumored to be "circling like vultures" will bring in a big dumpster.  They'll haul away the fleet of decrepit vehicles and empty the house filled with his bizarre collections.  They'll send the two cows to market and sell off the land to people who will build McMansions and who will not deliver spelt bread to me or the other recipients of the eccentric old man's kindness.  How sad.

7:17 pm edt          Comments

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