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Archive for the ‘Country Challenges’ Category

Bruno Returns

We have had four visits in a week from Bruno the Bear.  He is beginning to resemble an old friend who drops in now and then.

On his last foray Bruno discovered the lower branches of our little pear tree were plundered by marauding deer.  We watched him standing on his back legs craning his neck looking up, up, up into that tree.

Then Bill and I watched the bear’s agile ascent.   Bruno literally “went out on a limb” and we could see the tree waving around a bit, and then he dropped to the ground to begin the harvest of shaken down pears.

I am always stunned into inactivity at the sight of a bear in my back yard.  It’s like watching a live National Geographic film only we are right here in rural Virginia!

Can you see Bruno in this photo as he was heading home to his forest?

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Making Human Friends

Have I told you I am “aquasizing?”  It’s a whole lot of jumping around in a pool and supposed to be easy on the joints.

Most of my fellow attendees quietly and even grimly follow the instructor.  There is one lady who cracks jokes at just the right moments to make us all laugh.  It’s Pauline!  She is alert, animated, beautiful, active, kind, and most of all – funny!  I have decided I have found a new friend and mentor.

Pauline even led me up a secret grassy hillside to get to the class faster from the parking lot.   A shortcut you know.  And she looked back to inquire, “Are you all right?”, as I followed her up.

And was I amazed when I learned that Pauline is 90 years old!

I love it that I have a 90 year old human friend I admire so.

Donkeys or Mules?

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There are two new additions to the neighborhood.  I think they are donkeys.  Maybe they are mules.

One is splotched colors like some horses they call “Paint” and the other is almost universally black.  Both have very big pointed ears.  They almost look like horses but you know right away they aren’t horses.  I wonder if they are mules.  Never did know the difference really.

These two are always together in the cow pasture and I believe they are there to guard the cows against coyotes (and maybe bears?).

At any rate, they look lonely even though they have each other.  I stopped to get a picture but did not capture the full effect of those big sad eyes and only got the rump of the black one.

O.K., I know I am stretching it to seek friendship from two mules.

Times like this I am grateful for those of you who stick with me in cyberspace. 

“Good friends are hard to find”.

 

 

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WonderWoman

I am Woman!

I feel superbly smug this day.

Things were freezing on my computer you know, resulting in panic. I turned the computer off, walked away and came back, opened the lid.  But Argggh!  A dark screen!

A convincing inner voice said, “You really did it now.  You wrecked the computer.   Don’t touch anything else or you are doomed.”  But wait!  I forgot to push the little  button that opens the screen.  And Voila!  It all works again and everything that was frozen is thawed!

I feel superbly smug this day.  Mystery solved.

Be Brave!

My son was counselling me on how to operate Windows 10.  “Be brave, “he said, “Be willing to try different things.  Don’t be afraid to push buttons.  You can always undo what you have done.” Without his calm and expert advice, this blog would not exist.

The last time I was brave I deleted the cache on my cell phone and managed to put it in a deep freeze of protest.    There were no calls in or out and no emails either – just a dead phone.  Thankfully, things are now restored to normal.

calmclearcache

But I have reverted to a timid, cowering techie convinced that all connections will be severed if I push the wrong buttons.

Mismatched Eyebrows

O.K.  I admit I still want to look beautiful, even at a venerable old age.  I thought that was accomplished this morning, so while Bill was out bush hogging (that means mowing big overgrown fields with a big overgrown mower) (and I knew it was safe to indulge in self fantasy), I took a few selfies.

Selfie Eyebrows

The glasses helped to eliminate soften wrinkles but if you look closely enough, one eyebrow is light and one is dark!  Arrrrgh!

Looking beautiful at a venerable old age is a challenge if you can’t see straight enough to make your eyebrows match up.

Naked Desperation

I just read a book about organizing one’s things.  Starting with clothing, the idea is to hold and touch each piece you own to determine if you love it or not.  If you FEEL something is wrong and you FEEL you don’t love a piece of clothing, either discard it or put it in the donation pile.

I did it!  You can’t imagine the liberated feeling there is to this exercise!

But now the problem is, I don’t have anything to wear!

I have always said, “My husband wouldn’t notice if I went out naked.”  Now is his chance to prove me wrong.

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streetview

Lee Highway

This morning I had an appointment in Staunton, Virginia and took the serene Lee Highway.  It is normally a 45+ minute ride but I like driving through serenity with views of a tranquil rural Virginia.  And on this bright, sunny day it felt like I was driving the only car on the road.

That was until the traffic jam caused by an accident up ahead.  First a 20 minute wait with the engine off and then a forced U-turn to start over on the Interstate.   Arghhh!

Lost – Time 

Being a woman of  iron will and firm determination I got on that hated truck-dominated freeway chewing on my cheek from nervous anxiety and made it to the appointment just in time to find the doors to my destination were locked.  Arghhh!

Found –  Destination

Lost – Nobody There

A strange looking fellow dressed in raggedy clothing came up to my car and said, “Can I help you?”  Putting on a nothing-scares-me demeanor, I said,  ” I have an appointment at this place but noone is there.”

And he said:  “No, you don’t have an appointment.  We are closed.”  Turns out the scruffy fellow was the one I had an appointment with.

It is possible I had the wrong date but not likely.

Nevertheless, after some not-so-polite words with the person I was supposed to have the appointment with, I moved on.

Lost – Time and Temper

I next wanted to find Milmont Greenhouses in Stuarts Draft, VA.  I don’t have a GPS but managed to muddle my way to this bastion of millions of blooming and budding things.

 I was on a search for Cat Mint!

Cat Mint is supposedly critter proof (deer and rabbits hate it).  It is also drought resistant, blooms almost all summer, looks a lot like Lavender, and “if you can’t grow Cat Mint you should stay out of the garden.”

O.K., so I miraculously found the place!

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Found – Milmont Greenhouses

But then I couldn’t find the Cat Mint.

Lost – Energy (Staggering Around a Giant Nursery)

Milmont

Cat Mint is listed under Nepeta.  Who knew? 

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Nepeta – Cat Mint

After wandering around the greenhouses among crowds of manic gardeners I managed to look on the good side and said to myself, “At least you are getting some Vitamin D3 with all this sunshine!”

Found – A Positive Outlook on Life

And finally there it was – the Nepeta.

Found – Nepeta (or YES – CAT MINT)

But my sunglasses managed to disappear.

Lost – Sunglasses

I thought I lost my cell phone too but it was in the car all along.

Tension does this sometimes – causes you to lose your mind.

Lost – Mind

I did find my cell phone though.  It was tucked in the creases of the passenger seat.

Found – Cell phone

It was a very strange Lost and Found kind of day.

 

 

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I get “the bug” this time of year.  Not the flu bug (please), but the urge to get rid of stuff.

Sunshine brings it on and Virginia has had many sun-shiney days this winter

It’s high time to make decisions about what clothes to discard and which to donate!

Over twenty years ago I was a working girl of semi svelt proportions who invested in quality stuff befitting a career girl’s status.

And would you believe those pencil thin skirts and silk blouses are still in a back closet?

They are the favorite clothes that will not button or zip no matter how much I hold in deteriorating abs.

Never mind  the suits and silks of the past are no longer in style and never mind that most of those vintage beauties are ridiculous to wear in the country.

Sensible sneakers and jeans are things to wear here in rural Virginia (with the exception of one or two special occasions where people still turn out in jeans!)

But back to the bug, my warped thinking every Spring is,  “Hang onto this.  You might get down to that size again!”

That skirt was high quality you know.

But there are many other “things” to hang onto.  Shorts, bathing suits, and even underwear have accumulated in plastic bags marked Medium, L, XL, XXL (notice there never was a Small).

It is exhausting work to try all those sizes back on.

Sigh.

I have managed to donate two coats to Good Will, but promptly bought two more – needed someting in beige after all.  Something to wear with jeans.

Best to leave all this decision making until it is really Spring, or maybe a year from next Spring?

I might get down to that size again!

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You have to plan to be self-sufficient to live in the country.

Like, Bill and I have learned to imagine power outages and other deprivations in Oh-No-We-Are-Under-Attack situations.

In over 27 years we have never been under attack out here in the tranquil Virginia countryside.

Nevertheless, we do have frequent power outages and always think we are prepared.

This week, in a howling wind storm, right after dinner when the dishes were stacked in the dishwasher and we were happily watching t.v., the lights went out.

Ho Hum.

We were smugly and snugly prepared!

  • A wood stove for cozy warmth
  • A generator for lights, television, computers, etc.
  • Candles and Flashlights
  • A little extra food in the pantry
  • Water

Along with the lights, the television went black, and the dishwasher too.

And when I tried to check the electric co-0p status on Facebook, even my computer (on battery) started screaming, “YOU HAVE A VIRUS INFECTION!”

The wood stove was a life saver if you don’t count old Bill traipsing in and out for wood and by the time the fire got going good, the power was restored.

The power was off for only 2 1/2 hours.

But the television stayed dead even though Bill took it all apart.  He finally called a techie who told him to put it back together again.  That didn’t help either.

The 14 year old dishwasher was dead too, no matter how many buttons we pushed.  Fortunately, I don’t think Bill knew how to take that apart so we called an expert in the morning.

But Bill was able to fix my computer by restarting it.  My h – e – r – o!

FINAL REPORT FOLLOWING DAY:

The dishwasher man came right out and gave us 2 choices:

  • Buy a new dishwasher (which he said we would hate) or
  • Wait 4 days for a new control board.   I am hand washing dishes for the time being.
  • The t.v. is working again because Bill discovered a loose connection.
  • My h – e – r – o!
  • So much for being prepared!

Life is on track again but I am reminded that “Smugness is folly.”

*Quote by Dor

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Ever hear of a weighted hula hoop?  This one has the addition of 3 pounds!  Each grandgirl tried it once and that was the end of hula hooping.

I never learned to hold up a “weight-less” version so they all had my adoring admiration.

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o-NEIGHBOURHOOD-WATCH-SIGNS-TORONTO-570There were two hummingbird feeders on our deck this week.   Now there is one.

A Dine Until Dark Curfew has been imposed on the little hummers and the one remaining feeder is taken inside when the sun goes down.

What happened?

A mystery intruder  visited and vandalized our peaceful Virginia home.

If you are interested in solving mysteries, here are the clues:

  1. A favorite old hummingbird feeder  was lying in three pieces on our deck,
  2. amid a wide swath of sticky sugar water, 
  3. replete with large animal footprints, and
  4. unidentified animal scat on the deck stairs.

“What critter (or person) could it be?”we wondered.

Bill thought it was a raccoon.  I thought a bear. Can you tell by these observations the differences in our personalities and outlooks on life?

I Googled SCAT and found some that looked like ours (NO, NOT HUMAN).  Oddly, there are actual animal “poop charts” so you can compare and identify droppings!  Somehow I find this offensive to my sensitive senses.

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Bear Scat

Anyway, that was as far as I got researching when an email came in from our immediate next door neighbors warning they had seen a mama bear and her two cubs in their back yard!

bear watch

Mystery SOLVED!  IT WAS DEFINITELY A BEAR!!!  AND A VIRGINIA BLACK BEAR WITH TWIN CUBS!!!  Well, what did I expect when we chose to live in the country – civilization?

Then a second email came  and a third.  The word is out and we have a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH with friends sending email alerts!

  • “We saw a mama bear and two cubs in our back yard this morning.  If you think this is information that should be shared with the neighbors, would you pass it on?”  
  • “Yep! We had some work being done at our house a few weeks ago and they videoed two cubs and the mom on our property.”
  • “Also I saw them crossing the hunt road, heading up the hill into the woods between the pond and the riding ring, just like last summer. My mare has indicated their closeness to our place too. I have not viewed them there personally yet (but, she doesn’t fib).”
It is certainly comforting to know there is a Three Bears Neighborhood Watch, but having the trio on my deck borders on disconcerting!
I have a plan though.,
The trick is stay close to the front door, or the back door, or the car door.
Or if the bear gets inside – to barricade in the bathroom with my cell phone!
So much for summer walks in the woods.

 

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