|Dear Family & Friends, |
If I was being held to some kind of schedule for writing, I have failed miserably. Still I plead innocent. The kind of innocent one will try to argue as being acceptable if one considers the pleader to be self absorbed. I, however, couldn't possibly be fitting of such a description. No, I've just been busy....very, very, busy.
Too busy to keep in touch with a long time and very dear friend I've known since the age of six or seven, which I learned an entire month ago passed away in April.
Too busy to pay a visit to another friend, living in my current community, to wish good luck and say farewell to before he and his wife moved away even though he told me about it via email two months before he left.
Too busy to take the time to sit down and spend some time writing down all of the thoughts which crossed my mind prior to bringing me to this place at this time, having intended to do so after the first weeks of Spring.
I think I'd rather change my plea to "No Contest" in spite of being very, very busy.
Vivian White Zerger Davis passed away in her sleep according to the letter I received from her daughter. She died from cancer which had spread pretty much to all of her vital organs. Her daughter said, "She died from the cancer which you are probably aware of."
No, I wasn't aware of it. I wasn't aware of it because I didn't even open the last letter Vivian sent to me (until of course I received the letter from her daughter). Vivian, bless her heart, made me feel guilty after reading letters from her. [Well, the part I could read because she was 87+ years old, and it was difficult to decipher her hand writing.]
Every one of her letters would always be heavy on the illnesses and recovery, medium weight on the multi-level-marketing activities (I think the last one was something to do with shark fin), and light on the religion. It was always the last one which would inevitably make me wish I hadn't opened her letter to begin with. She was just so darned good at being a Christian. I, on the other hand, can't hardly even talk the talk let alone walk the walk any more. I gave up on the latter a few years ago, but will still try and offer encouragement to those with troubles using God as a basis. And some times, I'll use Vivian as an example of what kind of good can come from circumstances seemingly so bad.
I guess I just sort of wished Vivian would get so involved with her life in CA she would forget about me altogether. But every Christmas she would send a letter much like these I've written with something personal always attached. It was that "light on" which was usually the personal part. This year, she got the address wrong and didn't get it re-sent until the day before her birthday. Vivian was a Valentine's Day child. That made it even worse to hear of her passing because I had always tried to send her a card on her birthday. This year, I remembered about two or three days before and just figured she would understand if I didn't get around to it.
I was busy....very, very busy.
(It is my intention to write a piece of greater length about Vivian hopefully within a couple of weeks after I finish this letter.)
Jim and his wife used to live here in town for quite a spell before moving the first time to Arizona. She has emphes (heck, I don't know how to spell it), she has a breathing disorder. They apparently missed the community (and it is some kind of community for a town of two thousand, officially) and decided to move back in the fall of '99. He had tried to contact me, but while he was gone we had our ph.# unlisted. He thought maybe we had moved.
SJ saw him at one of the banks one day and told him the story about our phone number.
Jim, I, and Jon, a friend now living in TX, used to get together every week to play pool. Even Ed would come by every once in awhile until of course he took his own life. I guess since Jon moved away, and Jim too, I had adjusted my life to where I didn't care to get together like we had in the past. Jim, also wasn't as keen at keeping the kind of interactive schedule we once kept prior to his moving to Arizona, but we would get together on occasion. The times I did go to visit were mostly at the shop which he and his wife operated down town. We'd play chess, or just bs. We even got the opportunity to go play some golf a year ago last May. It was pretty warm so we decided we'd try and wait until it got cooler in the late summer or early fall.
Unfortunately, my financial situation just couldn't allow me to spare the expense for the greens's fee. The market was falling and getting progressively worse, and I just wasn't feeling at all comfortable about spending money on something which was optional. Also, the community finally started working on the street where Jim and his wife's shop was located. It was a real hassle to have to travel it especially since the initial repair work was a greater pain than the condition of the street before the repairs began. But that wasn't the real reason I didn't make it to the shop to visit a little more often. I had started cutting wood around mid October, and I was spending every spare minute I could cutting firewood. I meant to stop by and see Jim a thousand times, and even drove by their home to see if they were still in town around the time I knew they were getting close to moving. But I had other things I wanted to get done first.
I never made it over to their home before they left.
I was busy......so very, very busy.
Just too busy?
Can I blame my mother-in-law for my inability to make time for others?
She came to stay with SJ and I around the end of November. I swear she was in our home for about five weeks at least, but SJ says she was only here about three weeks. Well, it seemed like forever!! SJ's mother lives about seven or so miles away in an area which is pretty much like where we live, hilly and curvy, but has had a history of being without power for long periods of time due to ice breaking the power lines. She spent one winter in her home without power for about a week or so, and ever since then even the slightest hint of frozen precip brings her a run'in.
So she was in our home for about five weeks total, imo. After the first week, cold or no cold, snow or no snow, I had no desire to be around the woman any more than I had to. I just kept on cut'in that wood. I cut, split, and hauled after work til it got dark and as soon as I could stand to go outside on weekends. The more I cut, the more I wanted to cut. As a matter of fact, I've got the pieces of one more tree still to cut!
I think I've cut four whole trees, and the parts of three others (all laying down, btw.) and will have around twenty pallets of cut and split wood stacked four feet high. Pretty darn good if I do say so myself especially with a twenty year old Poulan with a sixteen inch bar. I lost track of all the times I had the chain sharpened and number of bottles of two cycle oil/gas mix a long time ago. Only two jugs of bar oil so far.
It was hauling the wood up from the bottom of the hollow (just remembered, make that five whole trees two of which were at least eighteen inches in diameter) which consumed the most amount of time. Because three of the trees were down in the base of the hollow, I had to carry all of the cut pieces up to the top of the hill. The pieces for two of them I carried all the way to the house. Only one of the five trees was within ten yards of a road. I don't care who you are, hauling pieces of wood weighing anywhere from twenty pounds to seventy pounds is a workout especially when you're carrying them up a forty to fifty degree incline approximately thirty or so yards. I was sweating profusely twenty minutes after I had begun the hauling, and those were on the days when it was around twenty degrees farenheit. Needless to say, I wasn't dressing very heavy for such a workout.
But I wouldn't haul each piece from the bottom all the way to the top of the hill in one trip. A few years back, when I began cutting whatever had fallen in the hollow, I started corraling the wood sort of speak. I would find a place where two good, sturdy trees were growing about five feet apart and stack some of the longer pieces so they would touch both trunks at the same time.
As I brought more of the limbs up, I'd keep building up the height from the base where I had begun, and then I'd throw the smaller pieces behind the fence which I had created using the longer limbs. For one of the trees, I built three of these type of "corrals" before getting to the top of the hill. This way, I could shorten the trip for each piece of wood I carried up the hill even though I would have to lift each piece three times eventually. It made me feel as though I was getting somewhere, and I could stay in a shorter path area for a longer period of time without having to climb the entire hill each time. Besides, the side of the hill isn't like walking up an asphalt drive. It is usually slick with years of fallen leaves and pine needles, or loose gravel where trees have fallen in years gone by, but have not grown back. It can be pretty precarious at first especially since I have to create the path to begin with. The shorter path length establishes the foot holds quicker as well as making each trip shorter in length between carries.
Yep, They're Long!
Hey, it has been awhile, and I've got loooooooots more to talk about. Now you didn't think after a few months I was going to make it a shortie, did ya?
I've always thought if a person is going to go to the trouble of taking the time to write, say something! Besides, like I said, I've been busy....very, very...........
I think, more than I've noticed in the past, this year's flora has been pretty decent. I thought it was going to be rather hom hum at most, or at the very least, a complete non event. The snow and ice stayed on the ground so long this year, I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to have a Spring. But when it finally came, it was wonderful. I think it may have been precisely because the snow and ice was so slow to melt that most of it got to the different root systems which depend so much on it. Probably why everything stayed so green so long before we finally started to get some rain in May. April was pretty darn dry.
Then again, maybe I just took a little more notice of it than in prior years because I was spending so much time out doors. I saw wild, woodland flowers I don't remember ever having seen. Some of them were in abundance while others were pretty sparse, but they were oh so beautiful. One weekend in April, I decided I'd go try and find some wild mushrooms. Spent about four hours on a Sunday morning looking and never found a single spore. But I did come across what I believe were wild iris. They were only about four inches in height at the most, and they had the most beautiful light maroon and white flower with a tiny yellow pistil. They looked just like the regular iris except they were miniatures. They were so cool looking. Of course, I hadn't bothered to bring a camera. Instead, I carried around an empty container for half a day.
Our peonies did pretty well this year, and the clematis vines I planted last year bloomed (finally!), but so far we've only had four blooms. One evening, while walking from the garden to the house for water for the garden, three of the blooms opened within five minutes of each other, and I never saw a single one open! I couldn't believe it. After each of three trips, another of the three blooms would open while I was away! But the blooms did last for about two weeks before falling to the ground. What I don't understand is why other plants I see around town are full of blooms. I wonder if I didn't plant them in a spot where there is too much shade. At least this year they bloomed (well, one of the two vines anyway). [We had one of the vines bloom last year just once on the very day a very well known SI personality passed away. I've always wondered if it was some kind of way of saying goodbye.]
I was especially thrilled with the lilacs this year. Last year a late freeze froze most of the buds. This year, they were abundant and very fragrant. I could smell their scent standing within ten feet of the bushes.
On the downside, the strawberries were pretty much a bust. I only got two good pickings and most of them were the honeyoyes. I think I thinned them too much last year. One thing I definitely noticed was the berries I did get from the honeyoyes were a whole lot sweeter this year than the first year I picked them. They're just about all gone, but I did pick about a handful this evening. They were delicious. Just how strawberries are supposed to taste...sweet and juicy.
Speaking of food plants, I finally got my tomatos in the ground the last week of May. I also planted green peppers (I opted away from the "Big Bertha" variety because the pepper has thinner walls and gets hot when it gets bigger. I like them sweeter), two kinds of green beans...one being a climber, and only six cucumber plants. The cucumber yields were so large last year a lot of them went to the compost pile. I've got a whole lot of stuff coming up voluteer this year as far as vining plants go. I'm just not sure if they're cantalope or cucumbers. I'm going to wait to see what kind of fruit starts to set before I decide to pull them or not. Of course I also planted sugar snap peas only more of them this year. I've gotten two pickings so far, the latter being twice as much as the first. Those darn things are growing so well on one side, they're just about to go through the top of the wire enclosing the garden area. I'm going to have to use a ladder and pick the pods off the top of the cage before to long!
I also planted some corn this year. Damnit, this year I will have some corn. I turned some new ground this year and have almost completed another cage just for the corn. It is only about a ten by twelve cage, but I've got five rows planted with about thirteen plants in each row.
Those Cute Four Legged Irritations
Stare at it all ya want, Varmit, ya ain't get'in in!
If there was some kind of diesease affecting the squirrels a year or two ago, they have recovered nicely. We've got plenty of them around the house. So many in fact it gets kind of noisy when I go out after work and they start scurrying up the trees.
And we've even got a couple of rabbits which have been hanging around. One of them (maybe both, they all look alike to me) doesn't seem to be as skittish. I'll go out and start to get stuff out of the shed to work in the garden or for the craft project I've started, and the rabbit will keep an eye on me, but won't run off unless I get to close to it. I think it is kind of nice. It is kind of like it knows I have no desire to hurt it. Now those damn cats.....I haven't seen the little ground squirrel for about a week. I hope it is all right. I love to stand and quietly watch him/her. It looks like it is always hyperactive. Its little tail is constantly twitching. When you get too close, it seems to get irritatated and will let out a little squeak. It is just the cutest little thing.
Been seeing a number of ground hogs lately, but I've only seen one on the property. Saw it a few days ago running down the driveway before heading over the side and down into the hollow where there is a lot of brush and cover. About three years ago, while walking up the driveway, I saw a ground hog and a baby. One of those kodak moments which unfortunately must remain etched in my memory.
But I did catch a baby fawn on film. I was standing on the patio trying to decide which plants I wanted to use in which pot when I just happened to look over towards the gas meter. At first, I thought I was looking at a stray dog which had wandered over from across the hollow. But when my eyes finally focused, it was a baby fawn running from the lilac bushes over towards the garden. I was amazed to say the least, not only because it was only the second fawn I've seen in the ten years I've lived in the area, but because it was actually in our yard!! I just stood and watched as it curiously sniffed and wandered along the garden cage. Then it went over by the railroad tie raised flower bed, AND THEN, it laid down in some tall grass along the driveway!!
There are two reasons I haven't yet mowed all the grass down along the drive. One, SJ and I love the wild daisies which grow in abundance every spring all over the property, but mostly along the driveway. Second, after speaking to my grandmother, she told us the one time she was down to visit helps her to remember us better. So I thought it would be nice to get someone to take a video of us walking around our place and send it to her. Then she would have it to watch from time to time to help maintain her memory of us. I wanted to include all the daisies growing along the driveway.
So anyway, this young fawn laid in the tall grass for over three hours! I got the opportunity to take some pictures of it with SJ's 35mm using her 300mm zoom lens. You know over the course of the three hour period, that fawn seemed to get to the point that it didn't care if I was walking back and forth, working at different locations in our yard. I called SJ and told her to be careful when she came home from work, hoping it would be there when she finally got home. I should have had her park up the drive and come look at it instead of letting her ease slowly past it when she finally came home. The fawn bolted as soon as the car was past the spot it had been laying in all that time. I watched to see if it would stop somewhere, and it did about twenty yards further up the drive in a little brushier area. Then SJ walked up to a point where she could actually see it.
A newborn, or very young fawn must be more prone to staying in one spot then fleeing when another animal is near. I was out where my mother-in-law lives scouting around for fallen trees. While walking, and not really taking much notice of what lay ahead, I almost stepped on a fawn! I kid you not. I almost tripped trying to keep from stepping right on top of it! I couldn't believe it. That darn thing just laid there the whole time. I must say, I stood in awe looking at such a beautiful young creature. It is difficult to imagine people hunting them especially when they're so cute when they're young. Hard to imagine until I think of all the flowers they've helped themselves to in our yard.
We've even got a raccoon hanging around. Except for the one I saw come barreling down the driveway towards me one mid day while walking Bear, I hadn't seen a raccoon anywhere on the property. I've been going back into work a lot after dark so I can work in the yard while it is still light outside. When I'd come back home around midnight or later, I thought I was seeing a gray stray cat in the drive scurrying off the side before I could get up close enough to be sure. The other night I turned on the porch light before opening the front door and saw this raccoon running off the patio into the darkness.
We've just got a regular Noah's Ark around here, but they ain't get'in in my garden!! Sure hope I don't start seeing bears! They don't like corn, do they? <g>
Except for a small red owl I happened to see in early March while trying to squeeze every last ounce of do-able work into a day that is about the extent of the critter action around here thus far.
And maybe its about time to shut me up and save the owl story for next time even though I've got looooooooooots more to say.
Until next time,
Whenever next time is.
Hope you're well,