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Monday, February 23, 2015



The relentless sub-zero temperatures coupled with copious amounts of snow and ice have made life difficult even for those of us sound-bodied folks.  But for old Kenny who is approaching 90 years of age and is quite frail, weather conditions don't seem to be much of an issue.  His life goes on pretty much as usual despite events that would cause most people to come unglued.

In the past few weeks his furnace has gone out twice leaving him without heat for days on end and of course his pipes have frozen so he's had no water either.  His cows now go on walk-abouts whenever they feel like it and no one bothers to wrangle them home anymore much to their bovine delight.  Their most recent foray was to the cemetery. 

Kenny's infamous red truck has skidded off the road and he's had to be pulled from perilous predicaments more than once.  His long lane blows shut with three foot drifts about as fast as it can be plowed out, but today the driveway is clear which prompted my old friend to drop by (unnoticed) with a ‘grocery' delivery. Weather be damned.  Kenny's on the road.


It was just by chance that I looked out the window and saw the Berlin Bakery box laying in the snow between the driveway and the barn and still more stuff piled on the patio bench.


I'm not quite sure what he thought I'd need the pile of shiny junk advertisements for.  That paper won't burn in the woodstove leaving me to wonder what it's made from.  An opened package of shredded iceberg lettuce was frozen hard as a bullet, as were the baby red potatoes and the snack pack of carrots, broccoli and grape tomatoes.  Just south of the driveway something brown peeked above the snow.  It was a partial loaf of spelt bread.  Tess tried her best to eat it, but it was like trying to eat a brick, so she abandoned the effort.

I gathered up the unburnable advertisements and tossed then in the paper recycle bin, then collected the lump of frozen lettuce, the carrots and one loaf of bread and headed to the barn.  By the time I stepped into the feed room where I was greeted by Gladys and her chums who were anticipating a snack, my fingers were frozen and throbbing.  The bad asses liked the carrot pop-sickles and the chickens were still going at the frozen lettuce and slices of raisin spelt bread when I headed for the house. 

Neighbors around here tsk-tsk the antics of Kenny, not to mention those of his cows.  They think he should stay home and not risk life and limb (his as well as ours) driving around in this weather.  They're probably right.  His truck is now completely filled with trash, including the cab.  The passenger seat is heaped right up to the roofline with boxes and papers and the dashboard is so cluttered that on-coming traffic can't even see the old fellow behind the wheel of the red junk mobile.

Even so, I have to hand it to my old friend.  Kenny truly does live in the moment.

3:07 pm est          Comments

Sunday, February 15, 2015



The phone call this morning was from neighbor Sandy.  "Everything's gone," was all she said.  I had no idea what she meant, but thought perhaps last nights brutal winds had blown something away. Then she continued,  "We lost everything...."

I know of no kinder, more generous and thoughtful people than neighbors Sandy and Butch.  They are always the first to help anyone in need, so the tragedy that struck last night when the temperatures were well below zero seems especially cruel. 

Their barn burned to the ground and they did indeed lose everything, including all of their sheep and possibly the barn cats.  The truck, the tractor, mowers and the other equipment are also gone, but I know that the loss of the animals is undoubtedly the hardest for them to deal with.  All of the ewes were about to lamb within the next couple of weeks.

Because there is no heat in my upstairs I've been keeping the door to the guestroom closed, thus the window facing north was hidden.  Had the door been open I'd have been awakened around midnight and would have seen the flames, the flashing lights of the fire trucks.  As it was I slept through their nightmare.

What can friends do when disaster hits, when bad things happen to such good people?  Of course you offer to do "anything at all..."  but where to begin? 


10:47 am est          Comments

Friday, February 13, 2015



I must admit the transition from walking barefoot on the beach to skidding across the driveway in Ohio was stunning.  My feet were still clad in sandals when I stepped from the truck onto several inches of solid ice.  And while the sunshine was lovely, as were the exotic flowers and salty air, it was nice to come back home.  I'm a northerner by choice and one of the curious few that actually like winter despite its inconvenience and challenge.

The cold is indeed brutal, but Sissy the serial killer insisted that she wanted to go outside for a bit, so I relented and she perched herself on the deck railing to soak up some sun, but I knew she wouldn't want to remain there for long.  When I peeked out the door to check on her I noticed she was intently watching something near the pond south of the house.  Evil Owen Meany had her attention. 

Owen is the nasty feral cat that terrorizes any and all cats he encounters.  He's wild as a hare and since food for barn cats is readily available at several places on the road, he is not tempted by cat food set in any trap.  But Owen wasn't interested in coming toward the house to harass Sissy because he too was captivated by something.  That something was a gorgeous fox who was sitting in the woods watching the cats who were watching him.  At the sight of me Mister Fox took off like a rocket, probably to the relief of his rapt feline audience.

Later, while taking a phone call I happened to gaze out the north window and who should appear but Mister Fox trotting along the field north of the barn with a hapless rabbit in his mouth!  Witnessing this serendipitous survival of the fittest interlude was like a welcome home present.

Last week my friend and I had set out for a place called "Florida's Forgotten Coast."  It was lovely and devoid of the throngs of tourists further south.  Apalachicola is on the Gulf quite near the Georgia border.  The 19th century town is full of history, art and charming shops.  We took what was billed as an "eco boat trip" down the river that cut through bald cypress swamps; home to wild boar, alligators and assorted birds.  It was beautiful, but the boat ‘captain' was ecologically-clueless and the naturalist who probably did have some relevant information was completely drowned out by the roar of the boat motor.  So much for learning much on that "eco tour," but it was interesting just the same.


The boat captain's son, whom we surreptitiously named Mister Blowhard did his best to regale my friend and me with his conquests of the wilderness and even offered to take us out to "stab some wild boar...."  It seems a local pastime is hunting the poor pigs with a pack of dogs, then wrestling the besieged creature in order to stab it to death with a knife.  What knuckle-dragging mentality!  When I asked why the ‘hunters' didn't shoot the critter rather than stab it to death as a bullet would certainly be more humane, it seemed this was an option not previously considered.  He finally replied that he figured "bleeding out" was probably less stressful.  Certainly not less stressful for the pig!  Mister Blowhard's Neanderthal attitude was not something we encountered after disembarking the boat, thank goodness.

At Wakulla Springs State Park another eco boat trip (which cost less than ¼ that of the bogus boat trip on the river) was so fascinating and informative that we took it two days in a row with different interpreters.  Imagine 6,800 acres of wilderness unchanged for eons (except for the glaring absence of the Native Americans that originally occupied the area).  It is now a protected environment, but it also includes the elegant Spanish Revival Lodge where we stayed. 


Experiencing huge alligators, ominous-looking snakes, gentle manatees and rare birds so intimately was thrilling and memorable, but experiencing Mister Fox right in my own back yard today was equally thrilling.  Like I said, it's nice to be back home.  My own critters were happy to see me.


5:07 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, February 3, 2015



It's been quite a winter so far; broken ankle, broken computer, brutal cold, frozen gates, more damage to the barn (thank y0u once again, bad asses...), not to mention a huge unexpected truck repair.  I've had it.  I'm leaving for the Sunshine State tomorrow morning!

Critter sitter Sandy is unavailable as her sheep are lambing, so the animals will be in the care of a new apprentice sitter whom I have no doubt will do a fine job, but will have his hands full as chores are twice as challenging in this weather.


As always, the day prior to departure I'm feeling twinges of  ‘homesickness.'  This usually vanishes about the time I hit the freeway, but right now, as I cram last minute items into my valise I'm slightly sad.  I'll miss walking with the dogs through the snowy fields at dusk, the smell of the barn in the crisp morning air, the antics of Baby as she harasses her feline family or helps out in my office.  I'll miss reading by the toasty woodstove at the end of the day.  I'll even miss Tess the terrorist. 


But then, I remind myself that I'll be walking on a sunny beach at daybreak, enjoying meals prepared by someone else at days end and seeing wildlife uncommon in Ohio.  I just talked myself out of being sad!


I'm not going to watch or listen to the news and there will be no blog posts until I return.  Bon voyage.

10:10 am est          Comments

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