Friday, August 31, 2007


I love the soft crooning of crickets, but when I hear them I think Noooooooooo, summer can't be running out on me yet! Much as I love cricket song, I love nights when I can leave the sprinklers on until I'm ready for bed, and then I just slip on some sandals and walk out in my pjs to turn them off. I love looking at stars and the moon on the deck. I love getting up early in the morning and working until I'm hungry, which is usually around 10 or 11am, and then I have second breakfast. I love the dry weather that keeps the grass tidy, and the summer rainstorms that sometimes come with thunder and that summer after-rain smell that inspires foolish grins and drunken behavior. I love the swoop and dive of swallows, and the hummingbird wars. I love discovering praying mantises, and as the season grows late, seeing bigger and bigger ones. I love the contrast between sweating in the hot sun and cooling down in the shade of trees with a glass of cold well water. I love working in my bikini. I like the way washing a car feels all sloppy and sudsy and dirty and somehow you end up with a clean car at the end. I like wandering the garden paths at night. I like the swarming birds that come after ripe berries and fluffy seeds.

I love autumn too, and the wandering feelings and intense rushes of longing it inspires, the changes and the sweetness of garden beds gradually dozing off like unruly children finally converting to that angelic stage (asleep,) but there's something special about summer. August is done, and onward to September.

An aside: I managed to stay up and watch the lunar eclipse. Once upon a time, as a child, it happened relatively early in the evening so that I could watch. I'd imagined the moon getting eaten up by blackness. Boy, was I disappointed. I stomped back to the house in a huff, annoyed by boredom. I don't know if explaining the whys and hows would have helped. As an adult, though, I had a good time marveling and staring. Maybe the telescope helped. Maybe it was an appreciation for all those subtle colors of red, amber, burnt orange and how they transitioned from the moon's normally pale surface that did it for me. I dunno. There was just something really neat about the Earth's atmosphere filtering the wee bit of sunlight that got around our massive globe to those burning hues, and the way the shadow's movement didn't seem quite linear but looked like it advanced and retreated in micro-sways, and imagining myself standing on the moon and watching a solar eclipse flare around it. Just like a solar eclipse on Earth, it doesn't turn to night-darkness, just a deep shadow like heavy clouds had passed over the sun. And I wonder, had I been on the moon during an Earthan eclipse, what color the moon's shadow would be on Earth. Would it be reddish also, paler because the atmosphere is so thin as to be non-existant? Would it be a neutral shadow? Would the shadow of the moon on the Earth be too small to see? Or would it be a fabulously perfect round, a cut-out shadow traveling across the world?

So I watched, with Rory beside me, and wondered and let my gaze wander around the Milky Way for over an hour, and afterward I slept so deep and dreamt about being an actress.

I wonder what September will bring.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time Warps

Man, my schedule has been eating me alive lately. Not the work schedule--that's staying nicely at 3-4 days a week with quite a few stretches of two days in a row off. No, it's how I've been arranging, or rather not arranging, my days. It seems that no matter how I focus my time, something gets neglected. Yeah yeah, I can't do it all. But lately I've been trying to achieve a rhythm where at least the most important things get done, and it's not happening. Grr. Grr I say!


Late summer feels more like autumn around here. There's no rain, though. Sometimes there's a chill in the air, but it doesn't quite have that zip that autumn mornings do. Still, we're getting that autumnal/harvesty/winding downess in the veggie garden (go, my zucchini minions, go!) (winter crop planting time rapidly reaching critical end zone) and some of the trees are getting color in protest of the dry, not-August-hot weather.

In kitty news, The Wiz seems to have an abcess or a bite or something on his flank. The hair fell out (which is normal and good) and it looks--well--it looks terrible and yet it's dry and appears to be mostly healed. This morning, as if proving that there's no need to haul him off to the vet, he was tearing around the house like a maniac. So, we're keeping an eye on him. But not a close enough eye that he licks the eyeball. I hate it when that happens.

In goatie news, we're getting close to breeding time. The gestation period of a goat is roughly in the five-six month range, closer to five. The plan is to breed the girls so that we're not delivering baby goats in February or sooner. The trick is that prime breeding time is (in my understanding) around September/October as far as goatie hormones are concerned. This is probably because in nature (this is my guess) that the babies will be on mommas milk while the grass is still dead, and about the time they're ready to get weaned, poof, there's tons of green grass with the spring flush.

But I don't want them running around in the cold, and also I definitely don't want to be lying on dirty straw in freezing weather at 2 am messing with assisting a goat birth for the very first time.

Any chance they might breed in, say, January for a nice June birth?

I didn't think so. Oh well.

Well, it's back to work time. And this time I won't neglect anything critical. Really.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


It seems I'm (hopefully temporarily) unable to post comments here. It might be the template making the comments window invisible, or some such, to my poor outdated Mac. I can see all that on other blogs, so it's just picking on me today for whatever reason.

It's an incredible, perfect day so naturally I'm working. It's a fasting day too so I decided to come home for lunch, hence my presence here. Driving home and back to work is one of those, well, I can't say it's a rare pleasure. But with warm wind rushing through the window, in control of a powerful machine that makes climbing the hill effortless and then zooming back down at speeds our ancestors couldn't even imagine except as flight on a magic carpet or a winged horse, listening to music and resting my legs during my work break has extra oomph. Plus, there's the walking around the garden part. That's always good. Waaaaaay better than sitting in a break room under flourescent lights smelling what everyone else is having for lunch, appetizing or not. How about this yucky comparison--it's like at work you have to hold it all in and then at home, finally, aaahhhhhhh, you can pee. Then life is good.

Then you can really relax.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Still tired from this weekend. Tomorrow I have a day off, and then it's back to the retail trenches for a couple of days. I'm really, really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. Whew!

Things and stuff:

While shopping for wine for the ABBB, Rory found Jest Pink wine. I'm so saving that bottle. When I put together the jester's garden hopefully I'll find a way to have it out there without risking the destruction of the label. Ideas are welcome. The Jest line of wines is a series of blended wines. For more info on what's up with that read:

My family has discovered that there can be such a thing as too much chocolate cake. Anyone who wants to come over and help us eat (and drink) leftovers, btw, is welcome.

Yak pot roast is yummy.

Our friends are very tidy and considerate. Despite this, it will still take several days to clean up after ABBB. My mind boggles at the thought of what cleanup would have been like had our friends been wildly messy and inconsiderate.

The scent of summer rain after a long dry spell is very distinctive. Note to self--shamelessly evoke this in my next novel, Signet (working title.) It just happens that it'll be summertime, too, when the novel starts. Yay! But that wasn't the best part during the rain today. The best part was listening to the rain hammer the store's metal roof and remembering the kewl rain storm clapping game that Jill lead at the ABBB firepit circle and then right after work stepping out into that incredible scent and being outside myself completely, a part of the air.

Wizard is fast becoming one of my favorite kitties ever. When I come home he trots up to me and curls his tail into a question mark while rubbing against my leg. When I scratch his back and tell him what a nice face he has he bends down and rubs his chin on the ground, leaning over against the scratch until he rolls onto his side. It's become an elaborate greeting between us and he becomes confused and insistant when I don't follow through all the way to the roll.

The cricket songs are multiplying. Summer is growing late. Noooooooo!

This is the end of the blend, my friend.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Plus is positive Minus is negative

I begin this by saying that she was a nice lady.

A customer came in today wanting to return batteries she hadn't used. Apparently her radio tuner had stopped working and she thought it had merely run out of juice, so she traded batteries and lo, it didn't work. The new device she purchased needed a different size of battery, so she returned the original new batteries (which didn't look opened so I assume she got more than one pack) and got a new radio and the correct batteries for that.

Sounds like a plan to me.

So imagine my surprise when she returned to return the new radio and new batteries. Hmm, I'm thinking. "So, I guess the new radio didn't work out?"

"Oh, it was fine. But I opened up my old radio one more time and realized I had put the batteries in backward. Now it works, so I don't need this one anymore."

If it was a scam, I don't get it. Someone, enlighten me!

August Babies Birthday Bash was happy times. It was a smaller crowd, which is sad because we missed a lot of good friends but wonderful because it was a really nice sized group and not overwhelming in the socializing department. We ate kangaroo (I don't think I'm radically different for having eaten a marsupial, though it was tasty) and sirloin and hot dogs and all the usual junk food. Much alcohol and pop was consumed, and people were overwhelmed by cake (argh, too much chocolate!) I spent much of the day at work, but them's the breaks sometimes. Going to work today was muuuuuuuch harder than having to work on ABBB day. I wasn't hung over in the morning since I had only about three drinks and stopped drinking early, but I was very, very tired and sore, presumably from hiking back and forth between the house and the firepit after standing on my feet all day. It's a good feeling though, the post-vacation need to sleep feeling.

Work again tomorrow, but just a half day. Good thing too. I'll be ready for a nap by the time I get home.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wearing the Pirate Band Aid

Today I started about 10 am working on the outside chores I didn't get to or didn't finish yesterday. Some of it was pretty mundane, like sweep the stairs, and took very little of my time. The part that took far longer than I expected was finishing up putting in watering systems for a couple of garden spaces. What I thought would take a couple of hours took--let's put it this way. I had to use a flashlight to check my work. So I didn't get to mulch today. So what!? You gonna say something about it, punk? Boy, the nerve of some people.

Because I was working intensively and trying to get things done quickly, I suffered some superficial injuries including a dashed cut on my finger where something sharp (I still don't know what it was--blackberry thorn?) skipped across my skin like a rock skipping on water, leaving a bloody wake. I washed my hands, put on some antibacterial ointment and a pirate band aid and went back to work. Arrrrrrrrr, avast ye bleeder!

But things got done and stuff looks good. Rory did a huge amount of weedwacking today (yes, there was even more than the huge amount that got done yesterday) and the outside looks really spiffy. Spiffy is a precise, technical term and I don't use it lightly. I wouldn't say it looked spiffy around here unless I really meant it.

There was a minor technical setback, alas. For some reason several of my nice, expensive glass and metal solar lights that were bought at great expense stopped working. Grrrrr! They've gone from useful to merely decorative.

Pictures coming soon, I promise, but right now I have to sleep, and it's too dark to take pictures. I'll be working the next three days but eventually I'll get out there, snap a few photos and post them for the curious, the insane or the poetic.

It was a good day, but I have to say it's just not the same without having ice shoved down my shirt and stalking deer with my pals. And I didn't bleed yesterday--they did. Here's a glass to me mateys--arrrrr, I'll see ye scurvy seadogs at ABBB.

August Babies Work Party

Another day on the farm, except we had a heap more help today. The yearly wackiness known as August Babies Birthday Bash is almost here, a week from today in fact. This would be panic time except that we have a lot of really good friends that help us out. This year I have to leap into a cheer for Orion and Andrea who were real troopers today, Joe Who Fixes All Things That Go Whirr and Slayer of Blackberries, Rick the Wit and Mighty Mattock Wielder, Melissa of the Wicked Weed Wacker, and Mike the Mysterious Sweeper aka the Shoveler.

The firepit area is weedwacked and swept.
Blackberries are beaten back from paths and garden areas.
Large areas are mowed clean.
A new drip system is installed near the firepit.
Garbage is in the bin where it belongs.
Scrap and trash paper is burned.
Excess food and alcohol are consumed.
An arbor is moved into place and a honeysuckle planted there.
Stairs are cleared and/or cemented in.
Garden beds are weeded.

Even if nothing else happens all week, we're ready! So huzzah to the hard workers--your mysterious gift will await you at the ABBB!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Will it Rain?

Sometimes it takes me forever to get around to doing something new. If I've done it before, I tend to just heave a sigh, commit and go. If not, I go pathetically slow.

Today it was finally 'drip system' day. It's actually comprised of low volume sprinklers, not a true drip, but it was ideal for the rock garden, which is just under the maximum 600 square feet that the system can handle. After edging the grass side of the rock garden (a good delay tactic) and some weeding (yet another excellent stalling technique) I finally got out the 1/2" main line and strung it through the garden's backbone, the highest point on the slope. Then I read the instructions again. If you read the instructions often enough, it's possible to stall out on the work progress until dark. But it wasn't dark by the time I stopped reading. The fact that I started reading just after lunch time and that the instruction book is only 50 pages long and comprises mostly of illustrations and that many of the pages were not relevent to my situation probably has something to do with it. I set out my stakes and screwed in the little sprinkler heads, pointing them in roughly the direction I expected they'd need to point. and then I got the 1/4" feeder lines. At this point I almost read the instructions again, but severe boredom with the booklet was setting in. I got the punch thingy and started at the lowest end--since I left myself slack, if I made a mistake, I could just cut off the end and try again. But the punchy thingy turned out to be super easy to use. In about twenty minutes I had all the feeder lines in, the sprinklers hooked up, and bam. I flushed the system and then turned it on.

And it worked!

Now I want to set up the other dry places where I have to hand water. There's a couple that I couldn't justify a system because they're so small--I'll pick up a soaker hose for them. But the rest I'll get a drip system set up for them. Now, I could save a heap of money and just keep hand watering. I've got the hand watering areas down to a minimum. There's just one catch.

When we go to Victoria at the end of September, will it rain? If it doesn't the whole time we're gone, the garden will have to be watered. If it's hot, it'll have to be watered several times. Whoever ends up playing caretaker for the house needs to have a simple way to take care of the watering without memorizing where the important plants are among all the weeds. Once upon a time when a good friend played house sitter for us, we went for a walk around the place (it was all hand water back then) and he took notes and I was sure all the important bits would get done. There wasn't nearly as much developed and most of what was developed was in discreet, clear sections. Now some of those areas are overgrown or in partial use, like the veggie garden where some of the areas are fallow and others are in use and you can't always tell one apart from the other. And there are plants on slopes that need to be watered slowly or the runoff will strip away the topsoil, exposing their roots. I can't expect someone to stand there with the waterer in flat or mist mode, watching the water very slowly soak in.

The answer is to get as much of this stuff on water systems where the settings are correct for the plants' needs, and then our caretaker can just go from section to section, plug in the hose, water for a few minutes (or a half hour in the case of the soaker hoses) and then move on.

Or maybe it'll just rain and it won't be an issue. Then it'll just be a matter of feed the animals and go back home. Or go back to watching movies, if we have a house sitter, which would be the ideal. The place is more self-sufficient than it used to be, so a house sitter isn't an absolute necessity like it once was, but I'd sleep easier knowing that someone is there to quiet the dogs if they're barking at night or they'll hear a goat bawling if one gets stuck, etc.

Most of all, though, I hope it rains. At least a little. Because even when it's all set to go, it'll be a long chore. Mother Nature does a much more thorough job than the sprinklers and soaker hoses, too.