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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Penning Porn for Profit--or not...


photos/22516.jpgI've been very fortunate in my writing career. Over the years I've met some fascinating people and have been paid nicely for my stories, but sometimes I and other writers I know reach a point where we feel stuck and uninspired.  That's not good.  No writing = no income.

I'd been at that stuck station for quite a while. The very thought of writing one more piece about pastured pigs or imperiled pollinators left me nearly comatose, but what to do...?  Maybe all I needed was a simple change of subject matter.

Leafing through Writer's Market for the most lucrative genres I found them to be religion and porn. That first genre was out of the question since I am a pantheist and everything about pantheism has already been written by thinkers far more profound than I could ever hope to be.  That left porn as the other profitable option, so I decided to give it a go, but I would tell no one.

How difficult could it be anyway?  I'd read Fifty Shades of Gray and found the writing tiresome at best (all that lower lip biting...). My own effort would be more subtle; suggestive rather than overt and I would debut ‘Just Another Dick' (under a pen name of course). The protagonist's victim was named Richard, AKA Dick, but the double entendre was intentional.

Penning it was fun, but even more fun was my secret writing life. Those who know me would be shocked to think their aging, turtleneck and sneaker-clad friend, the one with dog, cat and donkey hairs stuck all over her sweaters would even think about writing such rubbish. If they only knew....  Tapping away at the computer made me smile just imagining their reactions. 

And then it happened; the computer crashed. Backing stuff up (even if it's trash) is important, but alas I hadn't done so. And I was just getting to the good part too. Before it was completed, it was gone. My venture into the seedy world of porn ended before it ever really began-an omen perhaps. And no, I've no plans to start over.

I've returned to writing about critters and oddball people, but it's different now. A black cloud of divisiveness hangs over everything, including subjects that used to be as innocuous as, well, pastured pigs. I think of this period as transitional, but I don't know what it's transitioning to. 

I'd also decided to abandon this blog as finding the joy and inspiration that was so abundant when old Kenny was alive is gone: When a trip down his rutted lane meant escape from all the cares of the world. When Kitty and Mister Stinky the skunk hurried to greet my truck. When the old man in the over-heated house teetered out to the kitchen to see what I'd brought for his dinner. When the vulgar incompetent creature that now sits in the White House was not yet a reality. When I was naively content.... 

I was in England when Kenny's farm sold and was glad to have missed the auction. It would have been painful to see the gavel fall, but a part of me hoped that the new owner might be someone who shared my respect for the 1857 farm: someone who would restore the old house, someone who would grow organic crops and who would understand the difference between ‘need' and ‘want.' Someone like Kenny. When the political sign sprouted at the end of that familiar lane, I knew that hope had been in vain.

So, now the siding is being stripped from the house and the inside is gutted right down to the sturdy bones that kept it sound for 160 years. One building has been burned to the ground and there's no hint of the sanctuary that once existed. I've met the new owner and he is everything I expected, but not what I'd hoped for.

photos/ebayfeb068.jpgThank goodness for dogs.


5:41 pm est          Comments

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Path to Peace


On November 9th at 2:30 am I awoke with a jolt as if slapped by an announcement that things had gone badly on Election Day.  I told myself it was just a nightmare, but upon arising at 5:00 am, I like so many others was devastated by the reality. The feeling could only be compared to that horrible emptiness experienced when one loses a beloved pet and must accept that things will never be the same.  Ironically, my daughter expressed that very emotion.  She and I are alike in some ways-- not many, but a few, one of which is that we are each ‘only children.' 

Someone once said that only children spend their entire lives learning to be alone and that is true.  Mine was not a happy childhood (I hope my daughter's was better...), but we ‘onlys' find our unique paths to peace.  For me it has always been Nature, animals and art.  Now, at this late stage in my life I find these same elements are bringing peace and tranquility--so long as I physically restrict the rest of the angry world.  As a single woman living alone on an old farm, I can do this and make no apologies for my choice. 

I watch no more ‘news' on the telly, listen to no more NPR talk shows in the truck, and refuse to interact with the whiners or (worse still) the pompous goons who now feel entitled to vent their ugliness at the pool where I swim.  I just swim as if my life depends upon it, for in some ways it does.  I listen to more classical music and read books about and by people I admire and find them excellent company.  The dogs and I spend a lot more time in the woods or in the gardens and I've again taken up sketching my sleeping cats or patient model Tess although the current efforts are a bit disappointing.  


I know now that I can't change the world (although I used to believe that I could), but I can and have changed the bit of the world I occupy and this is making all the difference.  John Wesley said, "Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can to all the people you can."  This is good advice anytime, but especially now.  I'm focused on only what brings me peace and will help others find their peace by removing myself from their world.


4:25 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nature Is Never Static


Last May biblical storms ravaged ths area and took down several trees. A triple-trunk Wild Cherry tree was spared--sort of.  Its roots, loosened from the earth and sent the tree listing eastward at about a 45 degree angle.  In fact, the only thing actually keeping it more or less upright is a dead ash tree it's leaning against.  Since Sunday the cherry tree's fate has become even more ominous.  I know that another strong storm will send this tree which is utilized by a variety of birds crashing to the ground.  I'm pretty well set on firewood, so another windfall will mean a lot of labor to stockpile cordwood for years to come.  It makes me weary just thinking about it.

The drought has left leaky pond basically without a drop of water, but filled with weeds, some of which tower nearly five feet tall.  The weatherman's Saturday prediction for storms was the impetus for frantic weed clearance, something that I should have started long ago. 

The weeds were quite easy to pull, but the sheer size of the area was daunting.  I began pulling from the south end of the pond, loaded them into a cart and dumped them in the woods beyond.  After several hours I'd only cleared about a 30' x 20' area, so I called for help.

Al, my super handyman arrived armed with a heavy-duty weed whacker and began the assault.  As he whacked I raked and loaded and hauled to the woods.  This method was much more difficult (for me) than pulling the plants, but progress could be seen.  Then it happened.

Without warning I began to sink in the very center of the empty pond.  It felt as if a giant magnet were pulling me to a mucky grave.  It was impossible to free myself and my descent was intensifying.  Meanwhile, Al was busy with the noisy machine working toward the north, away from my southerly position.

Like a really bad dancer I'd fling my upper body toward his direction and scream at the top of my lungs, "AL!!!!"  He heard nothing.  Only when he ran out of fuel did my dilemma become apparent.  By then I was mired up to my knees.

Although Al was able to pull me from the muck, my favorite sandals are history.  A century from now some archeologist will discover them and wonder at the strange footwear his predecessors wore.  As for the weed situation we still have 2/3 of the pond to clear and now there is about a foot of water in the center.


A feathered oddball has decided this is a good place to call home.  I've named the turkey vulture Eldin.  When he isn't perched, wings extended to soak up the morning sun atop my neighbors' telephone pole, he's here, often lounging on the leaning cherry tree, but sometimes he flies right over the terrace between the two porches which enrages Tess and freaks out the hens.  Tess' eyes bulge as she watches the brazen bird.  Then emitting a low growl just before racing from the porch she attempts to run Eldin off her property.  Since he's always alone maybe it's not true that birds of a feather flock together.  He seems to want to join the chickens.  Poor Eldin.

6:38 pm edt          Comments

Monday, July 4, 2016



Returned from a wonderful two and a half week holiday in England and Wales only to find my gardens completely consumed by weeds.  The task that lay ahead looked daunting, but after liberating the intended plants from the intruders I discovered a glorious crop of basil in prime harvest condition.  The first batch of pesto is now in the freezer and when winter winds blow I need only thaw a container of this delicacy to enjoy summer all over again.


Cut basil about 2" from ground level so it will continue growing for future


Fill the sink with cold water and submerge the stems and leave to thoroughly clean

Place leaves only in salad spinner and discard the stems

Stuff food processor with leaves and 2 cloves of peeled garlic

Add a good quality olive oil and process to an oily paste consistency

Add more leaves and olive oil and process to machine capacity

Add coarse salt (sparingly), Parmesan and/or romano cheese and

pine nuts.  Pulse briefly to blend.

Spoon into freezer containers and top with a thin layer of olive oil.

This is so good mixed with pasta alone, but even better with shrimp,

sautéed peppers and mushrooms. 


2:42 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Still Caring For Kenny


At 7:30 AM, with only half a cup of coffee in my system, the discovery of what appeared to be a dead, bean-sized baby on the lid of the scratch feed can was not a good way to start the day.  The newborn mouse had obviously fallen from a nest somewhere in the rafters.  The tiny pink legs twitched feebly and its fate seemed hopelessly sealed.  I told myself that maybe the mom would come looking for her missing child, but knew it wasn't likely.  It saddened me to leave it there to expire alone in the chicken coop, but what option was there?

At 5:30 PM I was stunned to find the orphan still alive, but just barely.  Its will to live was too powerful to ignore, so in that instant I became a surrogate rodent mother.  Every website dealing with caring for orphan / abandoned mouse babies said essentially the same thing; it's gonna die, but if you're determined to try to save it, feed it a drop of diluted goat milk every two hours and keep the doomed creature warm.  Intensive care was hastily fashioned. He is secure in a cotton-lined plastic incubator that floats on a tub of hot water until meal time. Then he's gently cradled, fed and massaged to simulate a mother's behavior and returned to his cozy crib. This has been my routine for three days and contrary to the dismal internet predictions, the patient is still alive and apparently thriving as seen by this photo taken this morning.

Over the years I have been the recipient of many strange ‘gifts' from dear recently-departed Kenny.  Most of these have been useless, but for some reason it seemed prudent to save the can of powdered goat milk he left on the patio bench along with a can of potato starch.  That goat milk has proven to be literally a lifesaver, hence I have named my little charge ‘Kenny' as a way of honoring my friend.  The baby may be Kenneth or Kendra, who knows, but whatever the sex it has been christened Kenny. 

In just three days I've witnessed dramatic growth which is rather amazing considering how difficult it is to even find its tiny mouth to administer a bit of warm milk while holding the squirming infant. 

Today my wonderful wildlife rehabilitator friend Fran Kitchen offered to take over Kenny's care.  Fran has over fifty years experience with a remarkable success rate saving injured or abandoned wildlife and returning them to their natural habitats.  She also has more suitable feeding and incubation equipment than the make-shift neonatal care here, so tomorrow Kenny will join other helpless critters at Operation Orphan, Inc., but will return to my barn when old enough to survive without aid. Kenny's future looks bright.

If the human Kenny were still alive he would probably quietly smile and shake his head in disbelief to think that anyone would bother to save a mouse, but some of us know that Mouse Lives Matter.


On Sunday the dreaded, but inevitable auction signs went up all along the road.  Kenny's farm will be sold on June 25th and the prospects are worrisome.  Seven individual parcels will be offered and then the farm will be auctioned in its entirety. Whichever brings more money will determine how the gavel falls.  We on the road are hoping that the farm stays intact rather than sprouting new houses with manicured lawns and litters of children.  We'd much prefer dairy cattle.  To be continued....
3:11 pm edt          Comments


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