Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Beef Day!

The gang expresses its undying gratitude that the Pilgrims didn't bring beef to the table that first Thanksgiving, on a picture perfect mid fall day.
This is the day we all give thanks for various things, usually food, followed by family and home and the like.  Here is another list to ponder this Thanksgiving Day:
Love it or hate it, we live in a democracy.  We are free to vote the best storyteller to Washington to represent us, and if we are displeased with her/his job, we have the right and duty to recall or not re-elect them
At the same time, we have the freedom to voice our displeasure of their performance without fear of being jailed or disappearing forever
We have the freedom to decide where to live without asking permission or being told where we can live
We can, for the most part, jump in our vehicle of choice and drive wherever we want in our country without passports or papers, without fear of being detained for being somewhere we shouldn't be
We can send our kids to school to try and learn useful stuff like math, English and how to fill out college applications.  Or, we can school them ourselves and hope we do a good job
We can watch trashy reality shows all day and all night long if we want
We can either go with the flow, or we can change the flow to suit our dreams
We can choose to help the truly downtrodden with a helping hand to lift them out of their despair and get them going on a better path instead of just giving out money, clothes and food (but those still help, so don't stop doing that on my account).  As it is said, teach them to fish instead of just giving them fish
That's a lot of stuff to give thanks for, and I'm sure you have your own list in mind.  Wherever you may be this day, give your most sincere thanks to what matters most in your own life

Millie leads the charge to the puttputt to see if there is something to eat in it

 Millie poses nicely, first time in 7 years I got a good shot of her
 Roar voices his glee at not being the main course today (or ever)

 And then he annihilates one of the gopher holes out in the hay pasture, with LeeLu grazing calmly in the background

Zamora spends a pensive moment watching his ol' man destroy gopher holes

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ice Dancing, Aussie Style

It's been well below freezing since I got back from Wisconsin last Wednesday, which means I spend a part of the mornings going around and breaking ice on stock water tanks.  Usually, if the ice is thin, the cows will just break it themselves.  But it was over an inch thick this time, so they couldn't.
When we had our first freeze up here, Cricket used to watch me use a old Kong toy to break the ice on the water tank.  Then one morning, I watched her pick up the Kong and drop it on the ice, attempting to break it herself.  Now, she just dances on it as that usually works better.  However, as you can see by the pawprints on the top of the ice, even a 50 pound Aussie dancing on the ice wasn't enough.  But credit to her for trying to help out

MY ice chunk.  MINE.  Stay away from it or else.  Hoke has a good time with the ice chunks, one of his fave chew toys besides Cricket 

Didn't get the peppers harvested in time.  They are now under about 2' of mulched leaves and grass

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Warm Welcome Home

Got back midday yesterday from Wisconsin, where the temperature on the way to Milwaukee airport was a rousing 21 degrees.  So, at least I was somewhat acclimated to what it was this morning here at home! 

 This is what 27 degrees looks like on the ranch (it was taken a bit later and had warmed up a few degrees)

Last week, for the first time ever, I saw the humidity hit 100% on the weather station


I got home on Wednesday from an emergency trip to Wisconsin that started last Friday.  On Saturday, with my little bro Jim and I with her, my mom quietly passed.  She was at Villa Loretto, a nursing home in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin and I wish we had found that place back in April when mom's decline began.  As it was, she was there for 3 and a half months, probably the best ones she had.  She was happy and more importantly VERY well cared for, unlike her previous home.  The sisters and staff at VL were beyond sainthood as far as I was concerned.  They took incredibly compassionate and medically competent care of mom those last few months.  And unlike other homes, the staff was genuinely concerned and caring, not just people doing a job.
I spent the night with mom Friday night after I arrived from Oregon.  The night staff not only brought me homemade pizza, but constantly checked on both mom and I, making sure I had anything I needed, and speaking frankly about the passing process as it was unfolding.  I know that Frank must have been mom's fave, because he was Sicilian, and mom HATED Sicily with a passion.  Being from Trieste, in far NE Italy, as far as she was concerned, anything from Rome south should have been given away to whatever country wanted it after the war.  But Frank said that they got on just fine, with mom teasing him mercilessly about his heritage.
All during the morning and early afternoon hours on Saturday, the staff constantly stopped by, bring Jim and I breakfast, carafe after carafe of coffee, lunch, whatever we needed.  The nurses checked on mom every few minutes, and we all knew it was nearly over.  The sisters came and prayed quick little prayers.  At 1:45, I noticed a big change in her breathing, and went and got the nurses.  A few minutes later, it was over, quietly and peacefully.  The staff and nurses cried right along with Jim and I.  She had made a good impression on everyone there, and it saddened everyone to lose her.  Two aides came in and washed her and dressed her in a clean nightgown with dignity and respect.  Hours later, little brother Stan finally arrived from Denver, and we returned to let him say his goodbyes.  
Moments after her passing, a stout little Jamaican sister in full habit quietly came in and stood next to mom's bed.  She said a long, silent prayer, then gently kissed mom on the forehead.  She then came over and gave me a warm, strong hug and said comforting words.  All of the staff that was there came in and gave Jim and I hugs and comforting words.  I don't go to a lot of nursing homes, so I don't know how to compare them, but honestly, there was just something so very special about Villa Loretto, from the first time Jim and I walked in back in July, when mom was in the hospital and there was no way she was going back to her previous home.  The staff really liked working there, the floors were so clean you could eat off of them, the residents seemed to be very happy and well attended and most importantly to me, there was no 'nursing home smell'.  And now we are secure in knowing that we chose well and that mom's last days were the best she'd had in a long, long time
Clelia Dolores Maly
21 September 1934 - 16 November 2013
Home with God and dad at last, dancing the night away

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day Salute

I am a veteran.  My husband is a veteran (both of us Navy).  My dad and both my brothers (Navy, Navy, Army) served.  All my uncles served.  One gave the ultimate sacrifice.  We never knew our Uncle Jim, as he died on Inchon beach before my parents even met.  But his loss affected my dad and he said that was why he went into the Navy, to honour his big brother.  My little brother is named after Uncle Jim.
To all who serve, be proud no matter what.  Those who never did should be thankful for you

Thursday, November 7, 2013

You KNOW It's Gonna Be A Bad One When....

....the cows run for cover under the big Doug fir tree.  Good thing lightning is fairly rare out here, otherwise we'd have to train them NOT to seek shelter under one of the tallest trees in the pasture.
You might think those specks in the picture are dirt on the camera lens, but rest assured, those are leaves departing the area at a rather rapid rate.  This mid-morning front blew thru with a suddenness and intensity we don't see very often.  One minute, literally, it was just a few sprinkles with zero wind, and then it was blowing over 30mph and a half inch of rain was sleeting sideways.  What appears to be fog down towards the valley is the rain that had just blown over us heading that way.
Must be the rainy season!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Good Enough to Fool Mother Nature

Okay, we admit it.  We live in the middle of Christmas tree central.  We know all the tree farmers around.  Every one of them offers us a free tree every holiday season, ANY tree, just come and pick it out, they'll cut it for us, and then we can take it home.  And every holiday season, we thank them all politely - and then go home and put up our artificial tree we've had for years.  Dale can't smell anymore, hasn't been able to for years, and the old tree had it all for any guy on the planet - a zillion lights and most importantly, a remote control.  A lot of it was failing; most of the plug sockets worked, but a few had quit, meaning that the leaning tower of light string plugs was even taller for the remaining working sockets.  Several lights had burned out and it was the old technology, which means you could spend the entire year going light by light on each and every string that was out trying to find the bad bulb, or you could ignore a few hundred lights unlit among the thousand or so that were lit.  Or, you could string another string of lights from the dozens of spare strings that came with the old tree.  Kinda defeats the purpose of 'pre-lit'.  And, a few functions on the remote no longer worked either.  So, it was time to say goodbye to the old soldier and replace it with new technology.  After a lot of online searching, we finally came up with the perfect tree.  A Noble fir with the newer style tips that could hold those heavy crackle glass ornaments I had.  Much easier set up.  And, most importantly, multicolour wide angle LED lights.  No matter that one goes out, you'll never notice it with all the rest still burning brightly.  No remote with this one, but Dale decided he could live with it.
It arrived just before Halloween, and of course we needed to set it up to make sure it all worked and went together well.  And, once it was up, it would be a real shame to take it down just to set it up a month later, so we elected to leave it up.  It sits in the big picture window in the library, facing the front of the house, flanked by the ancient lilac and azaleas outside.  And, then, yesterday it caught the eye of a red breasted sapsucker (thanks to my pal Bonnie for the bird ID!!) that was tapping around in the azaleas for bugs.  He was instantly smitten, and totally convinced that he needed to go poke holes in that tree.  I even turned the lights on, hoping to dissuade him, but that didn't work.  Dale went out and shooed him off - for about a minute.  Hoke charged the window a couple of times - didn't even miss a beat.  He only gave it up when it was full dark, and by first light this morning, was right back at it.  By now he was getting desperate, and the only good thing was that he needed to have a good foothold in order to do maximum damage with that beak, and he couldn't get any footing at all on the window.  A few times he sat on a branch that put his little head just above the window sill, looking longingly inside at that gorgeous hunk of wood, taking a short breather before starting up all over again.  You can see his head in the middle pix, bottom left hand, just above the window sill.
So, for the manufacturer of this tree, Santa's Own, be proud.  For there is at least one red breasted sapsucker in the Pacific Northwest that thinks your tree is as real as it gets.
Click the pix to start the slideshow