Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Third time's a charm!

Meet Charm. That's not her "real" name, but it fits.

I showed you the stunning purple orchid that Kathy sent me for my birthday. That came through a local flower shop. For some reason, another one was delivered via UPS while we were in Nebraska - perhaps because the purple one was not the variety Kathy requested, and they found another source. By the time Debbie came to do our chores late that afternoon and found it inside our gate, the poor thing had frozen to death. I called Kathy to tell her, and she suggested calling the company of origin, ProFlowers, to tell them what happened. At the least they would know that UPS had left a box clearly labeled with contents and temperature requirements outside when it was 22 degrees, and at best they would offer to send a replacement. So I called, and the lady I talked to was extremely gracious and apologetic and offered to send a replacement. We agreed upon a delivery date of Dec. 23 so I could be here and usher in the orchid immediately.

Well, on Dec. 23rd there was no getting in or out our driveway or the gravel road we live on without four-wheel drive and chains. I thought maybe UPS would call, but I guess that's not in their contract. Monday (Dec. 29) I headed to town in the car for the first time in over a week, and there sat another big "LIVE PLANT!" box inside my gate! I grabbed it and sped back to the warmth of the house to open it, but alas, it was toast as well. Not "burned" to the extent of the first one delivered by UPS, but toast just the same. Dare I call ProFlowers again? I dared. And lo and behold, I did not get any less gracious and apologetic response than I had the first time I called! I was again offered a replacement, and we agreed on today for delivery. This time everything went as planned, and Charm was delivered without a hitch. Here she is with her two dead predecessors (I was told they might come back from the root, so I figured I'd give them a chance):
And here she is cozying up with the purple orchid in a lovely pas de deux:
I can't thank Kathy enough for the thoughtful wintertime cheer her gifts bring - or recommend ProFlowers highly enough for their outstanding customer service!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Deep doo-doo

That's what the dog is in, and probably what he will produce tomorrow morning, if and when I decide to let him out of his crate!

We were out of bread, so I made a batch this evening. Right after I took the loaves out of the oven, I caught Jackson with his front paws up on the counter, sniffing a loaf. I hollered and gave him a good swat, making a mental note not to give THAT loaf to the neighbors. I was pleased to have caught him in the act of counter-surfing, assured he would learn his lesson, smart dog that he is. Fast forward two hours. I stepped into the garage to ask Rick a question, and when I stepped back in, that *)%(&^%* dog had carried a loaf into the living room and bolted down most of it! I happened to have a large, empty brown paper grocery bag in my hand, so I descended upon him with fury, assaulting him noisily but painlessly with it. Now he's banished to his crate in the basement and I'm hoarse and minus a loaf of bread. Turkey.

That's it for now from . . .

Dry day fun

Today is the only dry day in the forecast for many days looking backward or forward. While doing chores I debated with myself about turning out the sheep; their dry lot is muddy and slick. But the "grand old dame" (Inky) took matters into her own hooves and nosed her way out the fold's small gate while I was filling their water bucket. Dinah followed her, and they ran for the open dry lot gate. So everyone is out now and enjoying browsing for blown-down twigs and such. It made my heart sing to see Butter leap about on her way out; she is indeed feeling good and healthy again! Between feeling better and the cessation of torture (injections), she is back to her sweet, friendly self. (Shepherd sighs with happiness.)
Since there is no snow or standing water in our arena, "riding Russell" is a high priority on today's to-do list. Figured I'd better turn him loose for awhile first since he hasn't been out of his stall/paddock in over two weeks. The above shows how wise that was! First he was indeed a leaping, racing blur. Then he galloped and trotted some more before stopping to sniff the air like a wild stallion. I can hardly wait to be astride again; it's been too long!

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What a difference a day (or few) makes

This morning during chores Jackson treed a cat I've never seen before. The photos I snapped in the dim, overcast morning light of the cat 25 feet up a tree turned out blurry, as did most of the photos of Jackson. Even though the one above is dark, it shows the alert energy Jackson was radiating. I find his proportions very pleasing; he's SUCH a handsome boy!

Remember my guys tubing down the stairs? Those stairs are passable on foot again, and our usual winter green is emerging. That is one thing I love about winter here - the emerald green. In the midwest everything is dreary tan and brown when not covered by snow. I find green much more soothing to the eyes and soul, even when the skies are grey.

Like others, emerging on the other side of Christmas makes me think of all the things that need to get done around here. Last fall Rick dumped three loads of composted manure on the island bed at my request, and there it has sat. After chores this morning I got busy with shovel and rake and spread one load evenly over the front section where the daffodils are planted. Green shoots are already pushing through the soil, so I knew I needed to get on the stick. One load (the most critical) down; two to go!

That's it for now from . . .

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A blizzard (of cards :-)

Yesterday mail was delivered for the first time since last Saturday - so much for the postman's creed of "neither rain nor snow, nor sleet nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"! Not that I blame our mail carrier; the roads up on our hill were pretty hairy. Still, it was nice to have a mailbox more full of personal correspondence in the form of Christmas cards and letters than junk mail and bills. I always tape the cards we receive up on our mirrored hall closet door so we can enjoy them awhile.

Our snow is melting rapidly. It rained on and off yesterday and last night, hard at times, and the temperature rose 20 degrees by this afternoon. The chickens ventured out for the first time since the snow started falling; they don't mind mud but would NOT step foot in that white stuff! They did peck it off my chore boots when I went into the henhouse, though. Funny girls.

Butter is better; maybe even 100% now. When two doses of Micotil didn't bring improvement, Rick gave her a shot of LA200, but I had also started giving her daily doses of Probios (the equine variety, as that's what I had) and a high potency B vitamin. The latter is an injectable, but I gave it to her orally as I did to Brava during the second half of Brava's illness last spring. Whatever put her aright I am very thankful! Time will tell if she's pregnant, and whether her fleece will have a break from this illness.

That's it for now at . . .

Friday, December 26, 2008

The slushy lining to the silver clouds

Rick spent a lot of yesterday shoveling off the sidewalk and cement pad in front of the garage so Brian could ride his new bike a bit, and then plowing more of the slushy snow off our driveway and the gravel road we live on. The county does no maintenance on it, so I'm sure the neighbors appreciated his efforts. It's raining now, so the snow is slowly melting away, revealing the extent of the damage it did. I still can't believe how completely I spaced the damage potential, damage that could have been prevented if I had been on top of the situation from the git-go and swept the snow off shrubs and trees! After picking up all the debris and pruning back all the damage, we are going to have a huge burn pile. Veggie hot dogs and marshmellows later, anyone?

But yesterday WAS Christmas Day, and it was not all work and no play. Rick left the snow on the north steps that lead toward the barn, and he and Brian tubed down several times. Although I cut off Rick's head in the last photo, I couldn't resist including it because it shows Brian's glee and Jackson's reaction to all the excitement (click on any photo to biggify).

Besides cooking and cleaning up yesterday, I worked on my impulse from Christmas Eve. By the end of the day, "baby makes three" - and I still have enough yarn for more! (I might, too, because it's a fun little knit that makes good use of the recycled silk.) Next week when I can finally get out and about in my car, I'll pick up some fabric to line these so I can give them to the girls. In the meantime, I am busily knitting away on their mother's birthday cardigan. Although I've been rather obsessed with knitting lately, I also want to skein off that lovely alpaca/lavendar yarn so I can start spinning something new by the new year.

That's it for now from . . .

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas cheer

I finished the last of my Christmas knitting last night (now I have to sew on handles and make the liners). I have enough of the recycled sari silk left that I think I will whip out an even smaller model for little Hannah, so all three of my friend's dear daughters can have accessories that reflect their Indian heritage.

When Rick got home at midnight Christmas Eve, he brought with him the new bike for Brian we had stashed at the neighbor's.

Christmas morning sunrise.

Happiness apparent, blurry or not!

We all got fluffy white towel and wash cloth sets beautifully embroidered by my step-mom.

The snow is slip-sliding away.

Jackson's making tracks.

And my Butter Baby is showing some improvement. Can you sing the Hallelujah chorus with me? :-)

We wish you a merry Christmas from . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Here's to living in the present, not for the presents

When I was a child we opened presents on Christmas Eve, and us kids awoke to bulging stockings Christmas morning. I didn't realize until much later that this perfect arrangement came to us compliments of my Swedish heritage through my maternal grandmother. Perfect? Yes; let me count the ways:
1) Candles and Christmas lights all look prettier at night.
2) Evening gatherings are coziest, and most conducive to story-telling.
3) There are no distractions from an empty tummy.
3) A child can actually fall asleep on Christmas Eve with the gift-giving over.
4) Filling stockings with inexpensive little treasures for the kids to discover as EARLY as they want to lets the adults sleep in Christmas morning!
5) Opening presents Christmas Eve leaves more time on Christmas Day for the cooks of the family to prepare the Christmas feast.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to convince my steeped-in-different-traditions husband to see the perfection of my childhood Christmases. He feels that opening more than one present each on Christmas Eve is "cheating." (Bah humbug!)

Not that it would make that much difference in our lives whose traditions we follow. Because Rick must sometimes be on call for emergencies (as he is this Christmas) and ALL our immediate family lives in other states, we often celebrate Christmas several times and places each year. This year we celebrated in November when Rick's mom visited us, again with Rick's sister and family when we visited them in Nebraska, and hopefully first thing tomorrow morning, just the three of us. We WERE going to each open a present tonight while indulging in Christmas goodies (those I made Sunday and the fresh cranberries I enrobed in chocolate yesterday),but Rick got called out to sew up a badly cut horse before we had the chance. Good thing I wasn't expecting a Christmas Eve from my childhood, huh?

This is one of the gifts Brian received from his grandma in November - perfect in its beauty, perfect in its timing. Just like all of God's gifts to us!

Wishing you a blessed Christmas Eve and Christmas from . . .

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jackson has a cousin!

We take a break from our regularly scheduled snow coverage to remind you of this old jump-rope chant:
"First comes love"

"Then comes marriage"

"Then" (what else?) comes puppy in a puppy carrier!

Yes indeed, my sister and her beloved have taken the next big step of their married life - they have adopted a dog. Meet Kohl, a year-old, 30 lb. mixed breed they found on

Jackson has extended an invitation to his cousin to come play in the snow, but she isn't sure she's ready to leave the new RED leather couch that she is calling her own. Let's just hope Kohl is not the chewer her cousin is!

That's it for now from . . .

Monday, December 22, 2008


(Double-click on the photo above to see just how high snowflakes can stack on a slender wire!)

I must have been in a sugar haze after yesterday's makin' like Martha, but it never occurred to me that I might need to rescue some of our landscaping. I was out taking pictures of the beautiful snow this morning, admiring the perfect drape it lent to the big firs, and didn't consider the deadly weight it might be adding to the smaller trees and shrubs. Then late this afternoon after violin practice, Brian pointed out one of our narrow north-facing windows and said, "Look Mom, a fort!" I looked, and there was our dogwood tree, bowed over to half its usual height.I grabbed my camera, threw on my coat and boots, and flew out the door to relieve it of some of its burden. Alas, some limbs had already snapped, and smaller ones broke as I gently tried to shake off some of the ice and snow. I gave up, fearing I would do as much or more damage as the firmly adhered precipitation. Coming back around the front of the house, I saw that my biggest Japanese maple in the island was also struggling under its load, but again, I could do little without causing further injury. I am afraid this spring will reveal the need of much amputation in order to save lives; I only hope none of the injuries prove fatal.
(While it truly does pain me to see my carefully chosen and much-cared-for plantings groaning under the weight of our unusual winter bounty, others have more serious concerns. A dear friend in a nearby town called this afternoon to chat, and mentioned the flood of 1962. She was a newborn then, but she has seen the photos and heard the firsthand accounts and is praying earnestly that her town is spared a repeat performance. That winter brought a similar snowfall, followed by a warm front that melted everything within a day or two. The river that runs through town could not handle the run-off, and the whole town flooded. So while I might wish for a quick thaw to save my landscaping, I must join her in praying for a slow warming to spare people's homes and businesses.)

That's it for now at . . .


Woke up to MORE snow, and it's falling thickly as I type; this can't be the Willamette Valley! Last night on TV the official news was 10 inches in McMinnville, 12 inches in Amity. That much snow on the valley floor is so rare that communities invest little in snow removal equipment, so everything pretty much shuts down. A friend's sister who moved here from Ohio six weeks ago went to Wal-Mart for a snow shovel, and was told they don't carry them. She was dumbfounded; I told her that PROVES this is not normal weather for us (she's been saying, "Yeah, right")!

We still have electricity (some don't) and therefore water, and it isn't very cold, so we truly can appreciate the beauty around us. We have plenty of food for us and all the critters; the wild birds especially seem to appreciate the buffet. Our biggest hardship is that the snow is too deep now for Brian to sled or shred our moderate slopes, so all that energy is cooped up inside for me to deal with!

Rick headed out this morning with the front chains on, but turned around and came back to put chains on the rear tires, too. He told his secretary to stay home, and has a tow rope along should he run across anyone who needs help. There is not much weatherwise that fazes my Nebraska boy, and I really do appreciate his can-do attitude and helpful spirit.

My ButterBaby is still quite sick, and I'm worried about her. This morning after taking the above photos and doing chores, I sat with my sheep waiting for Rick to come down with her shots (Micotil for the pneumonia and Banamine for her obvious discomfort), and she was the only one uninterested in attention. We pulled Brava through worse, but that wasn't pneumonia, either. Remember the old Little Drummer Boy movie? The little lad brings his mortally wounded lamb to the stable, where the very presence of the Baby King heals it. Healing would be an answer to prayer here, too.

That's it for now from snowy . . .