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)