Friday, January 29, 2016

Floral Friday

The sarcacocca bushes that line the north side of our house are in full bloom now. Since we aren't often on the north side of our house this time of year, I smelled it before I saw it; it's potent perfume! Yesterday when I stepped around the house to get a photo for you, I found out why the hummers haven't been frequenting my feeder lately; they like sarcacocca, too. (If it had been summer, I would have been spooked by the loud buzzing that met me!) The flowers aren't big or showy, but there are a LOT of them (I need to take a shot that shows the whole row of bushes):

Inside, the orchid show continues. Three of the four buds are open now, and I think they are breathtakingly beautiful:

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Down to mud and stumps

The gentle transition from foggy pre-dawn to hazy daybreak this morning belied the destruction to come. On Tuesday the remaining firs screening the winery from the lot next door were cut down; today the track hoe attacked and devoured the last trees standing, the little patch in the middle that were the oldest trees on the lot.

It was a beautiful, mild day and I was going to ride Lance before homeschool co-op, but the clanging and crunching of the giant machine as it ravaged the last remaining growing things was too much. My distraction and distress would have negatively impacted my mount.

I hope if there were any wildings sheltering in that little hummock, they were able to escape in time.

These beauties helped keep me distracted inside until we left for the afternoon.
Up next: the "burn" part of "slash and burn"? If so, I'm afraid we'll all need supplemental oxygen at . . .

Monday, January 25, 2016


From the Instagram feed of one of my favorite artists, Mary Engelbreit. This spoke to me.

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Serving updates with lemonade

I'll admit it; I'm loving the photo opportunities that our expanded view gives us. I wouldn't have chosen to trade my privacy for them, but since it wasn't my choice I'll just make lemonade. (Hope you guys like lemonade, because I'll be sharing lots of it I'm sure!)

Critter updates
Horses: Oliver is a stall potato (as usual for most of the year) while Lance and I get out regularly for exercise and schooling. I mostly document our time together over on my Dances with Horses blog.

Sheep: Browning and Blake are still in the Ram-ada Inn but neither one is limping now – nor is Bittersweet. I think they are getting sprains or strains in the mud, which is deeper this year than it has been in awhile. The girls would like to get out more, but I don't have a separate sacrifice area.

Chickens: All is copacetic in the coop; Elvira is one of the flock now. It would be nice to get more than an egg a day from ten hens, but I have enough for our modest needs and can't expect more from a "mature" flock.

Cat: Oreo is fine, if a plump little butterball this winter.

Dogs: Laying around me in the living room as I type, living a life of ease unless Jackson and Dicey think sounding the alarm is necessary (thankfully we have ONE quiet dog – Dozer). Dicey damaged a hind toenail recently and eventually lost it altogether, making her three-legged lame for awhile, but it has healed up now.

Sprite: Brian's parakeet continues to be a sweet and charming addition to our home. (And Brian's goldfish are fine, too.)

Indoor updates
Orchid: The first blossom is fully open now, and I never tire of looking at it!

Knitting: I did, indeed, cast on Father Cables. The recommended cast-on was a new one to me. The Alternating Cable Cast-on makes such a beautiful finished edge; where has it been all my knitting life???

Now I need to go cook. Brian is playing at a friend's house. When the dad and boys bring him home at 6:00, they are staying for supper. The wife/mother was another of my homeschool co-op friends who died a few years ago.

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, January 22, 2016


“Two men looked out from prison bars,
One saw the mud, the other saw stars.”
— Dale Carnegie

***Warning: Parenthetical rant ahead!***
(Then they argued and shouted and threatened each other endlessly about which one was right. Heh. Can you tell I was just involved in one of those fruitless "discussions" on Facebook? Why do I assume that anyone wants to enter into an intelligent dialogue on any subject, respecting each other's right to diverse opinions and experiences? No; time and again I am brought up short by the realization that everyone's attitude today seems to be "My way or the highway," and if you don't agree with them you are uninformed, stupid, or a liar. Of course, we have this modeled by those who would be leader of the free world, so why should I expect better?)
***End of parenthetical rant.***

I was gone all day yesterday, coming home well after sunset, so was spared the drone of chainsaw and track hoe. But even in the dark, I could tell the view had changed. Where once had been the velvety blackness of evergreens, we could see slightly paler sky and distant valley lights. It was disconcerting, but not unpleasant.
New view bracketed by trees in our yard, left, and trees in our pasture, right.
The view due east, unchanged
The view northeast, greatly changed. 
This morning dawned with few clouds, so our expanded view of sky and horizon was clearly exposed – as exposed as we now feel. But there is beauty to be appreciated, as long as we focus afar, and not at the mud and destruction hard at hand. The house seems magnitudes brighter now – as if the evergreens now gone had absorbed light. More light is not a bad thing at this time of year, but in the hot summertime it will be a different matter. That's what we get for building a house with a wall of east-facing windows!

That's it for today from . . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A hard day

Chainsaw whine, like air-raid sirens,
Warn of falling danger nigh.
No more to give screen and shelter,
Down firs come with crack and sigh.
Stumps and limbs awaiting fire,
In funeral pyres are heaped up high.
I know they're only trees, not creatures;
Still – their destruction makes me cry.

Now you see 'em;
soon you won't.
Today it became apparent that we lost the logging lottery. The out-of-state buyer of the neighboring property must have ruled against leaving a screen between our parcel and his, because workers were busily felling the remaining trees. Distressed, I went down to ride my horse, unsure if I would find respite within sight and sound of the destruction. But eventually the discipline and focus of dressage, of dancing with my horse, took over, and I returned to the house in a slightly better mental state than I left it. Then we left for an afternoon at homeschool co-op, so the activity was completely out of sight/out of mind for a few hours. When we returned, I paused to snap a view of our north property that has never been visible till now, and put it on Instagram.

The loss of beauty, habitat, and privacy is sad; the thought of hazmat-suited vineyard workers on tractors pulling trailers spewing chemicals right next door is downright scary. In the past I have avoided walking or riding my horse past nearby vineyards when they are being sprayed; soon we'll be exposed to those toxic chemicals in the "security" of our own backyard/pasture.

Yep; no control over this or anything else except how I choose, with God's help, to handle it. One tool for coping is knitting.
I finished a second pair of Nalu Mitts out of Browning's handspun; now I have nothing on the needles. I think I'm going to cast on a Father Cables hat, and quick!

That's it for now from . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sunrise, sheep, shoots, and snow

Yesterday morning the sky was showing promise, but I couldn't take the time to wait around for more color. It wasn't a vacation day here!

On the way to the barn, I noticed that Bittersweet was barely bearing weight on his right front. What in the world? First Blake, then Browning, now Bittersweet – all three of my brown-based males afflicted with lame front legs? I felt a little better after looking in on the Ram-ada Inn residents; they are both moving pretty comfortably now. And when I headed back to the house after morning chores, Bittersweet wasn't limping much, either. I think they are ALL messin' with me!

So I'll mess with you. ;-) Not only do we have snowdrops in full bloom, the daffodil shoots (and weeds) are coming right along

Later, as Brian and I headed down the hill to his violin lesson, I had to stop and capture Mt. Jefferson

That's the way I like my snow. Scenic and accessible, but not interfering with local travel.

That's it for yesterday; today was a wash-out at . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A beautiful day in a different neighborhood

Last Thursday one of my co-workers and I took a short walk break to lower her blood sugar (it worked amazingly well). I kept stopping to snap photos with my iPhone, then running to catch up; so many pretty details to be seen in suburban landscaping!

Enjoying beauty away and at home at . . .

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

...hey, at this time of year, our standards are a lot lower. Meaning that although it was a mostly grey day, it was also a mostly dry day. And flowers are blooming!
Yep, the annual grand floral parade has started. We will have something – or things – blooming from now until first frost next fall. (Don't hate me because I'm . . . name that commercial, ha . . . blessed.)

The ewes felt blessed, because they got a taste of grass today. When first turned out, they stopped and stared, immediately noticing the changes at our property line.

Then the youngest girls, Blaise and Bree, developed rocket launchers while the older girls stuffed their faces. Vienna, below left, looks like she's working on triplets again; OY!

Some neighbors had asked me a couple months ago if they could bring their granddaughter up for a "pony ride" when she visited this winter. Today was the first day that weather and schedules permitted – a good thing since she and her mother fly home to France this weekend!
What a charming and articulate little lady this five-year-old is! I had a dream last night about her giving me a handwritten note in beautiful penmanship, and after meeting her I wouldn't be surprised if she could. She's fluent in English and French, and knows some Algerian and Spanish, too. Color me jealous; I wanted to learn other languages when I was a small child but didn't get the opportunity.

 Oh, and I'm going to have flowers indoors, too! The orchid that Rick gave me for our anniversary in June sprouted a new shoot on the old stalk,
and also grew a new stalk that's budding! I'm excited, because I've never had any success with orchids before this. As fast as the buds are developing, I expect to see blooms before the weekend is over.
That's it for today from . . .