Sunday, December 4, 2016

Decorating...

I like to decorate for the upcoming Christmas holiday a little at a time, and NOT before December begins.  Last week I put some decorations up in my grooming studio, because customers have begun to arrive with cards and gifts, so it the mood is festive already.
Yesterday I picked up some wreaths made by a local friend.  I buy them plain, and then do a little simple decorating myself. In this instance I added some different types of greens, winter berries and bright, happy looking bows.
Today I decorated the chicken coops. Yes, you read that right. A pleasant walk in the woods and an arm full of carefully pruned greens and I had all the material I could want to spruce things up a bit. (Pun intended.)

What you can't see is that there are battery operated candles behind the window of the little coop, and behind the wreath on the big coop.  Because, well, why not?

My last effort for the day was to arrange some roses my sweet husband brought me.
Years ago I used to love to visit a small florist shop near home.  The woman there would tuck sprigs of pine in with the roses in December, and I found to be a magically happy combination.  The shop is gone now, but I still marry red roses with white pine during the the twelfth month of the year.

This completes my first week of decorating.  Next we will go cut down a tree and put it up, and the house will be filled with Christmas cheer.

The feast continues...

Early in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving, my sister and I went through the house and took down all the fall decorations.  I had quite a few pumpkins and gourds, some I had purchased, some I had been given, and we chucked all of them over the fence and into the pasture.  There they stayed, looking forlorn and abandoned, their bright flesh glowing incongruously on the frosty grass.


Until today. I happened to be looking out the window when Luna goat, the herd queen, decided it was time to add some pumpkin to her diet. She marched over to the scattered gourds and began to sniff each one.  In a few moments she had chosen a likely candidate and taken a firm bite of it.  

She was soon joined by Jane Doe. 

And they squabbled a bit, rearing up and butting heads. 


Then the settled down to share the treat. 
Meanwhile a few of the chickens looked on, expectantly. 
Once the goats had opened up those globes for them, they joined in, pecking at the flesh and gobbling up the seeds.  There is some evidence that the seeds aid in removing intestinal parasites in some animals.  I don't know if that is true, but I do know that the animals are enjoying autumns last fruits. 


Friday, November 25, 2016

So much to be thankful for...

Chris and I have hosted Thanksgiving in a variety of homes, for a wide array of people, most every year since we have been married.  We've gotten pretty good at it.  The most we have ever cooked for was many years ago in Memphis, when 27 people graced our table.  This year our not-very-large house was happily filled with 19.

I handed my niece Aimee my camera and asked her if she would take a few shots while I was getting the meal together.  When I looked through the pictures today I was delighted. It is a treat to see our home through another's eyes.

Rachel and I prepared much of the feast the day before, so on Thanksgiving day my sister Deb and I had time to decorate the tables and pretty things up.  Deb brought some large canvas bags with table linens and other things.  Flirt hopped right in and had a snuggle while we fiddled about.


Chris brought me a dozen yellow roses.  They are a nod to my mother, who hosted many an epic Thanksgiving celebration.  She always like to have a bouquet of yellow roses  on the occasion.
We had to do a bit of re-arranging to fit enough dinner seating for everyone.  Our normal table seats 8.
I trotted out my grandmothers silver and a variety of fun china plates I have collected over the years.
Niece Emily gifted me with a bunch of fabulous napkin rings, the frosting on the cake of our table decorating.
Chris smoked a turkey, and I roasted one, as we often do.  We bought locally raised birds and they were both pretty terrific.
I bought a fun new shirt for the day... pretty color, soft fabric, comfy. But it has funny  holes in it that I didn't quite "get."
Chris took one look and discovered their purpose...


Deb and I made a veritable VAT of gravy. We like to have leftovers.  I make the stock from scratch, and with Deb's expertise we manage to whip up some tasty stuff.

We lit a fire in the outdoor fire pit, and people gathered there to chat.  One small guest was quite entranced with the livestock. The livestock were fascinated by her, too.
We had a LOT of food.  Here are a few of the dessert offerings.
Home made pumpkin bread, cranberry nut bread, corn bread and biscuits (not pictured) were available.

After the cleaning, the decorating, the cooking, the serving... there is always one crystalline moment for me.  The moment when I pause and let my senses take it all in.  The house is warm and cozy. The air is perfumed with the sweet and savory scents of a feast... from turkey to pies, all the delicious smells of Thanksgiving.  Most of all it is the sound... soft music playing, and voices.  Voices lifting up in pleasant conversation. Silver clinking on china as the food is eaten.  Laughter.  Lots of laughter. 


These people I love... what a blessing it is that they want to be HERE.  Here with us, eating our food, patting our pets, filling our humble walls with their wonderful presence.  They help create the day by contributing delicious dishes and fascinating conversation. They all chip in to create the experience.  We are beyond blessed, and have so very much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 14, 2016

November afternoon...

Just back from a weekend away, with a staggering "to do" list, I didn't want to do much of anything.
I felt a case of the grumpies coming on, so grabbed my camera and headed out to spend some time with the animals.  An hour later I had some nice photos in hand and a smile on my face.

Chanel apparently missed me while I was gone, because she dogged my every step, nuzzling my pockets to look for treats, and rubbing on me with her big head when I would stop walking.
She is feeling good and that makes me so happy.
Little Abraham was right there, too, so close it was hard to get a picture.

The goats are wearing seasonal apparel.  By "seasonal," I mean HUNTING season.
Brown goats look an awful lot like a deer at a distance.  The neon orange advertises that they are not for shootin' at!


At 8 weeks old, the bunnies are getting big. They are still enchanting, and eating a LOT!!


The goats have ignored the little pine trees in  all season, but now that the pasture is gone they are making short work of them.  It is fun to see them standing up on their hind legs so they can reach the tender tips.

And Bravo.  He is almost 8 months old now.  He weighs 45 pounds, and stands 20" at the shoulder. He is a sweet spirit, biddable, happy, terrifically smart.  I'm not a very good trainer, but he is an easy dog to teach.

An hour in the sun with my animals.  Better than therapy by far.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

On a wing...

Last Christmas I gave Chris a bit of an unusual gift.  He had mentioned that he had always wanted a chance to see the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I wanted to make that little dream come true, but wasn't sure how to wrap such a gift. So, on Christmas morning I sent him on a merry chase... a scavenger hunt, with a variety of clues. The final clue was an ornament of an airplane hanging on the tree. I had him "fly" it to a "runway" I had made out of a folder which had brochures about the museum, and mock-up airline tickets to Dayton inside. I had put money aside to take him to fulfill his dream and we planned to take a trip there this spring. Then I was injured and all fun plans were put aside for a bit.  Until this weekend.



We left Portland Veteran's day morning and were in Dayton by supper time. As he often does, Chris wore a ball cap with the name of the ship he served on in the Navy emblazoned on the front.  Many passing people thanked him for his service as we traveled. One man in New Jersey even stood up from his chair and walked across the room to thank him.  We were both deeply moved.

We arrived in at our hotel by suppertime. We went out for an excellent meal, made all the better when the restaurant gave Chris his meal free because he is a veteran. The weekend was off to a more than auspicious start.

Our hotel was across the street from the museum.  The weather was fine.  We spent all day exploring the vast exhibits.
We walked until we couldn't walk any more, and still didn't see it all. But we saw the parts that were most important to Chris. That smile?  He wore it all day.  It was so much fun to see him going from exhibit to exhibit, and to hear him tell me the history in his own words.

Most of our time was spent exploring the planes from WWI and II.  I was delivered back in time to all the things my father used to try to tell me about WWII. And I was awash in guilt that I didn't listen well. That I didn't learn at his knee the lessons he was so anxious to teach.  I saw much of the exhibit so choked with emotion that I couldn't even speak.

Our travel to and from went pretty smoothly, including the fact that we discovered the wonders of Uber.  From an app on his phone Chris would push a few buttons and in mere moments a clean, nice car would appear and take us anywhere we wanted to go. The fees were deducted from our account, and were less than half of what we would have paid for a cab.  Bonus points!  We had some very interesting conversations with each of the drivers.  One of them told us that his wife is pregnant with triplets, and that his father had a farm in Africa and sired TWENTY children.  Another was a banker by day, driver by night. A third was active duty Air Force, and one was an engineer.  The Uber experience added a whole layer of enjoyment to our adventure.

Perhaps most of all we enjoyed having three days all to ourselves.  After 32 years together we are easy and comfortable companions. Driving home from the airport a larger than life "super moon" rose up over the treeline, and followed us all the way to our cozy house.  From start to finish our weekend was one to be treasured.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Critters..

Weekend days are often about critters.
On this lovely fall day we...
Trimmed all six of the goats hooves.  24 sharp, kicky feet.

Then we gave each of them a dose of Replimen, a vitamin and mineral supplement.
We have a visitor, too.
His name is Silas. He is a male Nubian goat.  He is here to have trysts with the three lady goats which I hope will all produce lovely kids next spring.  Two delightful young women brought him here.  They didn't leave empty handed.

Two of the baby bunnies went with them, cuddled up and kissed and looking quite content.  They are pretty irresistible. Those faces. Those FEET!
Meanwhile... 

EVERYONE is interested in the newcomer.
Especially the ladies.

Here are some things about buck goats you may not know.  They enter a state of "rut" in the fall.  This means that they are ready to breed. Hormones run rampant, and become apparent in some interesting ways.  Bucks in rut do things that are surprising.  To make themselves more appealing to the ladies, they URINATE in their BEARDS.  The smell of a buck in rut is indescribable.  Up close and personal it can make your eyes water. (My husband equates breathing the air near a buck to being maced.) However, the ladies find him irresistible.

Goats have a 5 month gestation period.  With a little luck, we will have adorable kids on the ground in April.  And that will make for some wonderful blogging, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Poodle power...

Flirt is my toy poodle.  I bought her for myself for a 50th birthday present. I wasn't in the market for a toy poodle, but had an overwhelming feeling that she was meant to be mine.  I am glad I listened to that flash of intuition, because she has been a gift that keeps on giving.  She has her flaws... her bark is reminiscent of a smoke detector.  She is prone to leaving "deposits" in the laundry room.  But her temperament? Unbeatable.  She loves people, and people love her.  She lives to give affection, and is never happier than when she is in someones arms.

Recently one of my customer/friends lost her beloved dog.  She sent me a text message that said, "I could use a hug from Flirt." Then she made an appointment for this afternoon to have her cat groomed, and sent another message that said, "I  need some Flirt loving, get her ready!" I had already planned ahead and had given Flirt a bath so she would be clean and sweet when she did her doggy therapy. While I groomed, Flirt and her admirer sat in a rocking chair.  There was a whole lot of cuddling going on.

Meanwhile, another friend called.  "Is there any way I could stop by and see Flirt for a few minutes?" She sounded sad.  15 minutes later she was at the door.  As always, Flirt was delighted to see her. She worked her sweet, loving magic, pressing her 9 pound body against my friends chest, and staring into her eyes.  Tears were shed and kisses given.  I'm not quite sure if hugging a little dog made my friend feel better, but I certainly hope it did.

It shouldn't surprise me that hugging a dog makes folks feel better when they are blue. I know being around animals makes me happy. Flirt takes comfort to the next level, it seems.  Not only does she bring joy to her own family, she spreads cheer to anyone that needs a little poodle love.