Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week 4

What can I say.  I'm spoiled.  My husband carted me off to a tropical paradise for my 51st birthday.

 This is the first birthday in a very long time that I haven't celebrated with my mom and it's a bit hard. Maui does make it better. 

My mom and I shared the same birth date,  January 21st.  And we look quite a bit alike too, and her friends say I remind them of her.  Here we are 2 birthdays ago,

and here we are on my 16th birthday.

 Wow, that was awhile ago.  Mark kissed me for the first time on my sixteenth birthday.  It was in our hallway where my folks couldn't see.   I can't say it was my first kiss, but it was the best kiss, so I kept him.  Well, for that and a few other reasons. 

  Now, I better go back to some snorkeling,  I think the whales are calling my name or maybe yours.  Who knows, but they sure do sing. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week 3

We recently put in a pet door for the dog, but our stray cat, Miss Kitty, figured it out first and now is in the habit of coming and going at will. 

The other day I was in the bedroom folding and putting away clothes and the dog started barking.  "Be quiet Shadow," I hollered.  Then I heard dishes and pots and pans being banged around.  Oh no,  I thought,  maybe a rabid raccoon came in through the pet door (you see where my mind goes).  I cautiously peeked into the kitchen to see this,

then this,

Apparently she brought in her catch alive and it got away.  Poor little jay was quite distraught.  So was Miss Kitty.  I threw a towel over the bird and carted it outside where it flew away.  You should have seen the look Miss Kitty gave me.  Then a few days later she brought in a Flicker alive.  I tried to get it out of her mouth, but she snarled, so I carried her and the bird outside.  She came back in.   I threw her out again and Mark quickly put on the cover to the pet door, so she dissected and ate the thing right on our porch rug.  Then yesterday she left us this by our dining room table.  Thank God it wasn't on the dining room table and it was dead.

Needless to say, I'm thinking this stray kitty needs to go.  She is sweet  (when she doesn't have a bird in her mouth)and her and our dog love to play, but besides the wildlife in the house, I'm allergic.  I have to wash after petting her and keep the bedroom door closed.  My allergies haven't been bad, but I'm probably pushing my luck.  I don't mind cats outside, but now that she has her 'own' door she is taking over the place.  I smile when I type this, because there is something about this cat that pulls on my heartstrings.  She is lovable, but pushy, industrious when she wants to be, but yet also so lazy.  I guess we are a bit of kindred spirits.

Here is another stray that recently wandered in.  Luckily she has chosen a barn to live in.   I'm calling her Dolly, because she reminded me somehow of a blue eyed dolly I had as a kid.

We wonder where in the world these cats are coming from.  We think it must be from some neighbor, but can't seem to find out who and can hardly imagine how the cats would walk so far.   Both cats are not feral and they came to us in really good shape.  They are good hunters.  I've actually had very little gopher problems since Miss Kitty showed up, but Mark attributes that to Henry, our rattlesnake.  Regardless though, we now have 5 cats about the place and that is too many. Do you want one, or two, or three? 

Weather here is outstanding.  In the seventies.  Incredible and scary at the same time.  California needs rain.  One thing though, the cattle and horses are digging this mild weather and their hay deliveries.  I'm beginning to call them welfare cases and since the last little rain grass is growing, so it's about time to cut back on their hand outs.  They need to start working for a living.

Except for these.  I call them the brush babies.

I finally found this group living up at the top of the ranch doing well on brush and  the grass. There is quite a bit more feed left growing up there.  They are a bit of a wild bunch though.  As a matter of fact the closer black/white face jumped a five and one half foot tall  fence last summer.   Her and the other black/white face in the photo were both oops.  They hid out and never got caught and then, of course, got pregnant and had calves.  We would not have chosen  them as as replacements as they are small and wild.  I'll say it again. Big Oopsers.  But  number 19 (I guess she needs a name) got caught last year and when she heard us talking about sending her off to the auction, she just  jumped our holding corrals flat footed.  I'll repeat myself,  five and half foot tall corrals with nary a hoof hit.  She's a jumper alright.  I kind of admire her spunk.   Maybe I should just train her to saddle. 

Mark has been spunky  too, cutting firewood in all this good weather.  Our woodshed is still nearly full, so he has been selling a little and also laying aside some to sell next fall.  I guess we are sort of unofficially, maybe, possibly back in the firewood business after a two year hiatus.  We  are taking it slow though, as it became  a sometimes overwhelming and life consuming task  before.

You know what the say about firewood....

It warms you 3 times,  cutting it, stacking it and burning it. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week 2

Highlight of the week was when my cousin Vicki and her husband Dave came up for a visit.   To come see us, you don't just drop in because you are in the neighborhood and we really appreciate our friends and family who take the needed time and expense  to come see us.    We are especially thankful for these two in our lives because they were regular visitors for my mom and dad and supporters of us during our time of care giving.   They are just gracious people.  They even went so far as to call our bunkhouse a Hilton.  Anyone who has stayed there knows it is more of a Motel 6, as in we leave the light on for you.  If we didn't you might fall in the ditch walking between our house and it.

  We took them for a tour of the ranch in the landcruiser.  This photo is on the track down to the falls.  The  oaks without their covering of leaves display their companions, the moss, very proudly.  I love the glow.

The falls are as lovely as ever and our guests were smitten with them too.   One of the best things about having guests is having our eyes reopened to the beauty that surrounds us.  We get to see the ranch fresh through their eyes.  It is a huge blessing and one we will probably never tire of. 

 The willows at the falls are displaying their catkins.  They are lovely, but they seem a bit early to me.

Since retiring from dentistry, Dave has become an avid wildlife photographer.  We especially enjoyed his stories of the grizzlies and caribou in Alaska.   Unfortunately, the ranch didn't deliver in that department.  We didn't see much on wildlife on our tour,  just donkeys and cattle.

That could have been because we were driving around hollering, "Come on ladies", as we were multitasking and feeding the cattle.  These two cows are named Harley and Jumpin Julie.  Harley is named thus because as a calf her facial markings reminded me of a harlequin and Jumpin Julie always leaped through the cattle chute as a youngster.  She is a bit more sedate now.

Out hiking, my cousin said jokingly, "There's sh-- everywhere!"    You can't walk far without seeing it, or stepping in it if you aren't careful. ( Kinda like life.)  We just need some good rains though and it will all  melt into the earth and fertilize the plants that shall then rise swiftly toward the sun.  It's a beautiful thing.  I think about this cycle when Im walking/wading through figurative sh--.  Something good could  grow from that if only I will let it, cause all things work for good for those who believe.

Speaking of good, we got 3/4 of an inch of rain in the last couple of days.  It wasn't much but it is  welcomed with open arms.  Mark actually tore off his shirt and danced. He wouldn't let me take photos.

And another week ends.  Fifty more to go.  I think about what life has in store for me and what I want to give it this year.  I certainly hope that I can learn to be as supportive and gracious as the family we had visit this week. And maybe next time I will pull of my shirt and dance when it rains.  Maybe. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Week 1

Being the first week of the New Year,  I've been thinking about time. The saying goes that 'time flies' but for me I see it as a river.   I often remind myself to just sit back and stay  afloat and  "keep your feet  pointed downstream."   Someday I  will  take my turn stepping outside time onto the bank of  eternity.  I hope I will then look back into the time of my life and see some choices that I made wisely. I know I've already made many not so wisely.  It's hard because often it seems easier to just not make any choice, but of course that's a choice too and there will be a consequence.  

Our 'river of time',  is broken into seasons and we then break those seasons into months, weeks, days and moments.  I decided to try and do a weekly post this year as my way of remembering the year and some of the choices made.    We will see how this little goal goes.  Being tired of coming up with titles to posts, I'm just going to number them, one through 52.  Original, I know.

Wow! One week of our year is almost done; never to be seen again.  Staggering thought. 

We began the New Year checking off something I've always wanted to do:  go to a fancy New Year's Eve Party. This was a 5 course, champagne paired, meal with dancing,  set  in a beautifully restored old mansion.  Our usual M.O.  for New Year's Eve is games and a movie, or nothing at all.  Which is fine, but I've always kind of wanted to go out.  We had a blast and we felt perfectly fine the next day, albeit a little sore from all the dancing. I may never stay home on New Year's Eve again.

On New Year's Day, Mark decided to split some firewood for a sweet, active, older lady and got the splitter all tuned up by replacing hoses, changing the oil, etc.  He split her up a half of cord and delivered it.  When he returned home, he decided to bring the splitter down to our house to split up an old oak that had fallen down.  About dark, he finished and he headed back up our steep driveway only to have the splitter try to commit suicide by sliding off of its trailer.  He hadn't thought to check the bolts and they had lost their nuts. (I wonder if that is a bit like losing your marbles?)  Auspicious beginning to the new year, but I have to say Mark kept his cool and the next day used the skid steer to pick it up and take it back to the shop and do another overhaul. 

 We got in a lot of  evening walks this week, which makes the week a winner in my eyes.

 We also got in two longer  hikes during the day.   The weather has been wonderful  (still dry, but I'm trying to make lemonade from lemons).  It is so warm that short sleeves are often all that is needed.  The falls are beautiful and tranquil, quite unusual for January. 

 The buckeye trees, at least, look like winter, standing naked on the hillsides.  I love telling people that I have a nude photo over our bed and see their eyes get wide, only to tell them it is a nude tree.  

Every other day has me, or Mark, or both of us (if we are being inefficient with our time) driving around feeding the cattle.  They all look great.  The balmy weather and hay deliveries are apparently agreeing with them.  Here is a group of youngsters.  They are  growing fast. 

Now, my post changes tone, and I feel the need to comment on a local tragedy you may have heard on  national news.  A local man allegedly bludgeoned a priest to death in Eureka.  No apparent motives, just an excess of drugs it seems.  I heard the news upon arising on  New Year's Day and my first feeling was rage.  I wanted to kill the man.  Seriously,  I felt rage.   I hate injustices.  I loathe people or animals being hurt by another, and yet my rage made it all too clear that I'm not cut from too different a cloth. 

All week, I kept thinking about choices and how they define us, shape us into who we are.  The choices I make today will make me who I will be tomorrow.  Often, one thinks, this little choice doesn't really matter, but I think it probably always does.

This eye belongs to the gentlest creature on the ranch.  Whenever she happens by, I give her head a big hug and her long ears seem to hug right back.  She is a comfort in this ragged world.  For me anyway.  I wonder perhaps what our world would like if we could all be a bit gentler and find time to give a hug.