Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Walkabout 6-28-2020

WHAT is that?

…might just be the question of the ages…


Really! You just never know where the search for the answer might take you…

A tiny, metallic beeping startled me from sleep.

WHAT is that?

Blearing into the darkness I became of aware of two, round, unblinking cat eyes staring into my own. Yikes! And, then I seem to recall asking Remy (the cat) WHAT was that noise? She was unconcerned; if I was awake, my duty was not to solve mysteries, but to fill her food bowl.

As I went through the automatic motions of feeding the spoiled cat, my brain identified the sound. The coffeepot! Our coffeepot has this sweet automatic feature so with a little advance planning, you don’t have to attempt to make coffee in an un-caffeinated state, but instead have it waiting first thing in the morning. Best feature ever! But, with a power outage earlier in the day, the clock reset, the coffee had been made and now the coffeepot was alerting me to the fact it was turning itself off.

…at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Sighing over the wasted coffee and my disrupted sleep, I started making a new pot. The irony of making coffee in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t have to make it in the morning was not lost on me. It did seem silly. Although, while I contemplated that, another sound caught my attention as I struggled to see the tiny numbers and reset everything so we didn’t have the same issue the next day.

Gus and Karma
in a moment of relative calm
(and no woofing)

Gus was doing this incessant WOOF, WOOF right next to the porch. I must add, Gus’ incessant woofing is one of his most annoying habits. (and, he has a fair number) When I opened the door to shush him, I realized there was just one dog in the backyard. Karma was nowhere to be seen and did not come when I whistled. That couldn’t be good. It looked like my sleepless night was going to last a little longer. I saved a cup of coffee just in case of catastrophe, finished filling the pot and set out to solve another middle of the night mystery with a sigh.  I’m really not at my best at 2am and we had a big day ahead of us. I really needed to go back to sleep.

No Karma in the driveway or garden. She wasn’t in Otis’ paddock, either…and I started to get worried. As Gus and I hurried down the hill to the barn, the silence struck me. It was eerily quiet. That seemed rather strange since the ewes were locked in the barn prior to a much-delayed shearing day scheduled for first thing in the morning. And, they had not been happy at chore time. Most noisily unhappy.  Then, I heard what sounded like a moan…

WHAT was that?

All the lambs were standing out back of the barn looking terrified as their round eyes blinked bright blue in the beam of the flashlight. The ewes were huddled in the lower portion of the sheep shed. No one was making a sound. And then the “moan” came again…WOOOO-oooo

Well, at least I found Karma! My first thought was that she was injured. But, no…

She had cornered something behind the gas cans and the chainsaw case and was trying desperately to get it out…she was clawing the ground and moaning/barking.

For at least the fifth time I heard myself say, WHAT is that? Followed immediately by…oh dear god…don’t let it be a skunk…don’t let it be a skunk. (I’ve had one middle-of-the-night encounter with a skunk---and I definitely never need a repeat)

It was not a skunk. (huge sigh of relief on my part!)

When I pulled the cans away, I came face to face with a truly angry ‘possum. It was hissing and showing all its teeth. But, before I could decide what to do next, Karma reached in, grabbed the ‘possum by its neck and marched out of the barn. Gus followed her, snuffling along behind and that was the end of that. Without the sound of moaning and scuffling, the barn seemed safe enough for the lambs and they all wandered in, complaining that they needed a snack after all the disruption.

After doing a quick headcount, (and not giving in to the food demands) I headed back to the house.

When actual morning came, much too soon, the ‘possum had made a break for it, the dogs spent the day in exhausted slumber, and despite cantankerous clippers, the grumpy ewes got shorn and turned back out to pasture. And, perhaps even more importantly, the coffeepot turned on without incident.
2020 shearing begins

But it felt a little like “déjà vu all over again” when the next morning at daybreak, the Boss said, “WHAT is that?” with concern as he looked out the window.

Seriously? Again?

There on the hummingbird feeder was what appeared to be a leaf…no, wait…it looked like a bag-worm case hanging from one of the perches. I knew it had not been there the day before when I filled the feeder. A closer investigation revealed it was not a bagworm, but indeed a hummingbird, upside down, its tiny feet clenched around the perch. Oh, how sad…it must be dead. Heeding the Boss’ warning about “dead bird germs” I donned a rubber glove…

baby hummer

When I put my hand out to remove the “dead” hummingbird and I swear it opened its little eye and went “meep” in a rather pathetic way. It was alive! I could feel its little heart racing as I held it in my hand. I have always wanted to interact with a hummingbird and I finally got my chance.(and take pics, of course!)
isn't he CUTE?

see his little ruby throat feathers?

every time he would drink a drop of sugar water
his little wings would "rev" up

This little baby boy hummingbird must have gotten chilled in the thunderstorm that passed through in the night…or got off course…or something. He was so tiny and SO cute. But, he wasn’t injured, just very cold. Tom fashioned a little house for him out of a tissue box while we did chores. We hoped once he warmed up, he would be able to fly away. (just not in the house, or right into a cat’s mouth)
last I saw him he was sunning himself in the hanging basket

Long story short…I spent a great deal of time caring for the tiny hummer and I didn't get to town to the grocery store and lost all momentum on my to-do list. But, after I fed him a little sugar water and got him warmed up a bit, he zoomed away. And, I can cross "hummingbird-up close and personal" off my bucket list.

Happy ending, I hope!

But…this just proves that “WHAT is that?” can definitely alter the course of the day…

…or possibly your life.

Anybody who has followed this page for any length of time, knows that in 2017 our lives were changed forever when someone said “WHAT is that?” when they read Tom’s ultrasound…

A scary diagnosis, major surgery and a regular regimen of MRIs have been part and parcel of our routine for the past 3+ years. And, while we are both grateful that treatment didn’t involve chemotherapy or radiation, it often seems like we’re just stuck waiting and wondering…and hoping for the best…instead of taking any sort of action.

When you make it to 2 years post-surgery as a cancer patient (in this particular practice), they transfer you from the oncology surgeon to a specialist…in this case the hepatologist. (liver specialist) They tell you this is progress…you’re not a cancer patient anymore…you’re a chronic illness patient. 

Somehow that is a good thing.

Different doc, different protocol. Specialized ultrasounds would replace MRIs. Visits would become less frequent. Again, progress.

Until someone said “WHAT is that?” on the ultrasound in early March.

No big deal. Schedule an MRI.

Again, no big deal.

Except. COVID-19.

Three days before the scheduled test, the entire state was shut down. Testing was cancelled. Everything was cancelled. The hospital wasn’t taking any non-emergent patients. No one knew when anything would return to normal. So, we waited. And, waited.

And, waited some more.

The apprehension that hangs over you after a cancer diagnosis is unlike any other. To be told you MIGHT have an issue and then find you are unable to get any further information is excruciating. When the whole pandemic/end of the world scenario is thrown in for good measure, it makes for some seriously trying times.

But, whatcha gonna do?

After nearly 3 months (!) of waiting, of trying not to think about it/talk about it, to keep our minds from identifying every change as a possible indication of doom, of trying to avoid any potential infection that would preclude any testing when it was finally possible to make an appointment again…he went for his test.

Then the waiting for test results seemed to drag on forever. (with the oncologist’s office, results are often available within 24 hours). This time it was a week before we saw anything.

Thankfully, what looked suspicious on the ultrasound was cleared by the MRI. Time to heave a huge sigh of relief.

Talk about anti-climactic!

So, now…back to the routine of life on the hill.

Except, there is no routine of life on the hill…

I didn’t realize how much I counted on the routine and rhythm of Market preparation. Everything is strange and unnatural without it (but, no…not going back…sorry folks) I must admit, the pandemic and social unrest only add to the weirdness.

The lambs are thriving, the garden is growing, the hoophouse experiment looks like a great success…the Boss is still able to get to the Market to do some photography (check this out) and we made it through the 3-day ordeal of trips to town to get new cell-phones set-up without any dire consequences. (don’t even ask). And, while I must confess to the fact that any book-writing progress has been non-existent…I do feel the faint stirrings of creativity once more. (I think) So, here’s hoping…

But, I’m trying hard to focus on the positive. (a serious challenge some days) So, let’s see what we can find to show you…
before his "haircut"
(don't think I have an "after" shot)

baby carrot
potato beetle nymph
potato blossoms means 'taters are growing under the ground
potentilla indica
wild false strawberry
pretty to look at--not very tasty

baby corn

baby flycatchers
nearly ready to fly

birdhouse in the mist

bladder campion
an unexpected garlic harvest
the green garlic crop was quite prolific

look who moved in right after we put up the house!

garlic all cleaned up and pretty

my walk companion
I see him/her most every day

there is one in every crowd
I've taken to calling this one "Crazy-eyes"
he's jumpy and unpredictable
and an escape artist

daylily at the creek

dragonfly on the porch

early morning light

the first strawberry

flycatcher nest tucked in the rafters

new birdhouses all around
(these are going to end up in a lot of photos!)

japanese privet at the creek

the lamb ballet

mushrooms in the compost pile

morning harvest

more potato blossoms

a radish flower

stinging nettles

a sunrise

each one is unique

same view, different day

a misty morning

baby sweet potato plant

tiny apples

Writing this piece made me realize that the only person who might ask “WHAT’s THAT?” more than I do is one of my grandsons. Pretty sure he hit triple digits on a trip through Walmart . When I finally reminded him he had already asked me the same question about 20 times, he giggled and said “hey, Mamaw?” yeah, bud?… “WHATTZZZATT?” At that point we both laughed and that’s when I realized…if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

So...keep asking “WHAT’s that?” 

You never know where it might lead!

yucca at the creek
I don't know what a yucca is doing at the creek in our little Valley
but, isn't it pretty?
Thanks for reading!

Hope you have a Happy Sunday! 

 (and in case you're wondering WHAT's THAT at the's Otis in the early morning through the dew covered grasses)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday Walkabout 5-31-2020

It seems most incongruous to write a cheery little post about the farm when people are dying, cities are burning, and protestations have become prevalent and violent. And, it seems our government is in disarray, or at the very least, is unconcerned and uncaring about the situation at hand.

But, then someone would be sure to say I’m getting “all political”. And, we can’t have that. (or can we?) I don’t like to write about politics…although I am more than willing to write about the pursuit of justice. (which, is in NO way political…it should apply to everyone)

Speaking of justice…

Last week, we were able to finally see the end to a matter that has hung over my head for 27 years. 27 years. That’s almost half my life! But, it is done. Finished. I won’t bore you with the details other than “it has been resolved”. Actually, I can’t. One of the things I signed actually stated that I would answer any questions with “it has been resolved”. Which, seems a small price to pay for finally having the whole thing over and done with once and for all.

I didn’t realize just how much that one thing affected every single aspect of my life until it was finally over. Like the low hum of radio static, it crept into all my decisions, affecting our marriage, our business plans, all interpersonal relationships, and my health (both mental and physical). Every single day was tainted by a gnawing sense of anxiety. Now that we can put it behind us, there is a sense of freedom I didn’t realize I was lacking. It still seems a little surreal.

You might wonder why I told you about this when I can’t really tell you anything else.

This situation lasted for nearly half of my life. Over the years I broached the subject, attempted to find resolution, tried to just “live and let live” and yet nothing changed. And, my anger and frustration at the injustice only grew stronger. Other people didn’t really believe my story, offered sappy-crappy advice, and repeatedly told me I was over-reacting. It wasn’t until I finally stepped way out of my comfort zone, risked what felt like everything and took serious action that the slow wheels of justice finally started to turn my way.

Doesn’t that sound vaguely familiar? Isn’t that what has been happening in our country for generations?

Don’t think for one moment that I am likening my situation to what our black brothers and sisters have been facing for…well, forever. I’m not…not even close. And, I feel vaguely responsible for the situation that my own ancestors promoted and benefited from when they arrived here in 1635. I know because of my ancestry; I enjoy enormous amounts of privilege. Much of which, I take for granted, and I need to work to change that.

Current events have weighed heavy on my mind and heart although I don’t know what I can do. I’m an old white woman from a mostly white rural community. We aren’t affected directly by a lot of current events. As a matter of fact, it’s is possible to sit on our front porch and be completely and utterly oblivious to the entire world. However, this is our collective story and will only change with some sort of collective effort. You MUST watch Brene Brown- (she’s talking about Charlottesville in 2017, but this is still relevant)

All I can do is use my small circle of influence to bring attention to the situation. So, I’ll leave you with this…

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are just as outraged as those who are.”                                                               -Benjamin Franklin

I hope we will do something to change the narrative.

Thanks for reading.

I hope you’ll come back and “visit” again soon.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday Walkabout 5-17-2020

I can’t seem to come up with anything new and interesting to tell you about.

The animals are behaving. There have been no crazy lamb rodeos. The garden is growing despite the crazy weather. Everything seems to have survived the bitter cold earlier this week. (and the near record-setting heat by the weekend) And, I just read somewhere that “only trouble is interesting.” That's a little dark, but perhaps far truer than we care to think.


This week we’re going to rely on pictures and go fairly light on the prose.


walnut leaves in the rain
the first rosa rugosa flower

african daisies

baby carrots

barn swallow

bluejay feather

brown thrasher
she has a nest in the fence-row
( the grub must be for her babies)

purple iris on the lane


whiskey barrel planters at the top of the drive
(I've been meaning to do this project for years!)

indigo bunting

the potatoes survived the cold!
iris in the morning light

Sissie and Karma are such good friends

ladybug in stinging nettles

the first redbud leaves

least flycatcher
(she's building a nest in the barn)
strawberry plant
french breakfast radishes

Otis against the sky
sweet potato slips
(didn't have much hope at this point)
stay tuned...

welcome home

another ladybug in the nettles

house finches and indigo bunting at the feeder
rosebud after the rain

On my daily trip to the mailbox, I happened upon this exchange. While I am not fluent in the language of the swallows, I'm fairly certain I know how this conversation ended. It made me chuckle and I think it may have proven the quote at the beginning...
tree swallows househunting
checking out the possibilities

just waiting

hurry up!
giving an opinion

We have all been this swallow...
(and now you know where they got the idea for angry birds!)

That will have to do it for this little "walk-about". I'll try and be more on my game next time.

Hope you have a Happy Sunday! 

May you find something unexpected and beautiful in the coming week.
                                  Come back and “visit” again soon.
butterfly in the lilac bush