Saturday, April 29, 2017

Manitoba Mirage

By the same token that chili isn't as tasty in the Summer as it is in the Winter; looking and reading about cold places in the heat of Alabama Summer makes you feel cooler.  
As the first 90'F days hit us, I started dreaming of Svalbard Islands in Arctic Norway.

Better than lemonade!
After today's sweat donation in the garden, I opened my recently arrived Manitoba Tourism Guide.  I need a cardigan and scarf to peruse it!

I only meant to read the introduction, then return to battling the weeds in the garden, but she sucked me in until the last page.  I left quite a bit of drool on the Riding Mountain National Park feature.  
Since adolescence, I've had two steadfast heroes in my life:  my grandmother and Grey Owl.

Grey Owl was a trapper turned conservationist, who wrote stories in the 1930's of his life and struggles in the Canadian Boreal Forests.  He ultimately settled in Saskatchewan, but he resided for 6 months in Riding Mountain Park, Manitoba, where his log cabin still stands.  
He is credited for drawing international attention to the imminent extinction of beavers from trapping pressure and the destruction of the Great Boreal Forest from raze and burn logging.
Can my Bucket List hold one more entry?  Can I retrace Grey Owl's steps to his Manitoba cabin where he lived with his two pet beavers, Jellyroll and Rawhide?  I know the stories by heart...

Just a mirage for now, but maybe reality by 2018.  

"There is silence.  Intense, absolute and all embracing." 
The forest, according to Grey Owl 1931

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rediscovering Your Groove

My little engine that could hasn't been firing on all cylinders lately.  Since returning from the trip to the NW, seems I left my vim in Wyoming.  In search of it, I've been ripping some favorite old classics off my book shelves:  Balzac, Troyat, Stendhal.  In retrospect, those are not the cheeriest French writers, bad idea.  
What I needed was a new classic.  And it arrived, not from France, but from Oklahoma a couple weeks ago.

My Life as a Horse, by Gina Miller, my Okie sister who neeeever mentioned she was a published author.  This revelation was planned serendipity on her behalf. With the gas tank on E and major farm projects on the radar, the big box of inspiration from Oklahoma had impeccable timing.  My care package held so many handmade items that come from the heart, and some from the heart of a comedian:

Mini trophies in tribute to our completed US running quest.

Last, but not least:
If that doesn't fill you with inspiration, then you need to check yourself for a pulse.
The revitalized Jamie took her brood on an impromptu run last night to the Boonies Pasture and instead of three sluggish miles, we kept going and going.

Not since last Fall have I had such an enjoyable, pain free run.  The newly remodeled knee reassured me: "we got this, keep going".  Going we did, for over 6 miles.

Uh oh, is it possible the old me is coming back online?  Possibly.  12 hours later and the knee isn't swollen or aching.  Quite possibly!  Pete says:  "ah crap, there goes retirement".

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Menopausal Chickens and Other Farm Musings

My flock of three chickens are entering their 6th year.  How long do chickens live anyway?  What is that in human years?  I'm guessing 60, because egg production has really tapered and this is what I collected:  an egg smaller than a quail egg!

Definitely hitting menopause.
Not all of us are over the hill.  My dairy cow, Daphne, regrets to inform us all that she is still fertile.  Let's just say she was feeling nubile last week.  Her bellowing was very persistent and ancient Tommy made a few attempts at mounting her, but quickly winded himself and went to recuperate with a nap.  Dissatisfied, Daphne proceeded to show Tommy how it ought to be done.  Repeatedly.  She humped his head, his back, it was his turn to bellow, but in protest.  I was in the kitchen cooking and couldn't immediately drop what I was doing.  Tommy did manage to rise, but he has a slow Snufaluffagus shuffle, so he couldn't escape her ravaging.  I made it to my boy's rescue with a hose.  He likes a bath, she does not.  I bathed him and every time she tried a sneak attack, I gave her a cooling down!

Tommy, still feeling violated.
Leaving the birds and the bees,

 let's talk about flowers.
Mr. Lincoln is the first of a wave of blooming roses.
Be still beating Canadian hearts out there, there's more:

My iris collection is in full swing.

My absolute favorite is Thornbirds:

Stunning and fragrant.

Mostly Tall Bearded Irises, but a few Intermediate and Dwarf thrown in for good measure.

Pete photobombing.

And again.
Y'all still shoveling snow in Quebec?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter from Alabama

Never mind Easter Egg Hunting...

We prefer rabbit hunting.

Where's Mr. Cottontail.

WTF mom???

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Anatomy of a Day Off

Ready, set, go!
A day off... to work in my garden.

Wisteria bursting with blooms.
When I get tired of weeding, I can play with the chickens.  They relish their hydroponic wheat.

If you get really bored, you can break your back installing pine straw mulch.

It helps to have an assistant on standby.

His only job is to spread sunshine.  Although, I have to be careful not too much sunshine is laid on him.  Pinkie has a shaved belly from having ultrasounds.
At dusk, we retreat back to house and I go to school.
My kitchen shall henceforth be known as The Seale Culinaree Skool.

I'm determined to work my way through Frank Stitt's Southern Table.  Mr. Stitt runs the Highland Grill in Birmingham, an upscale restaurant blending traditional Southern ingredients with French styling.

Tonight's project is Chicken with Autumn Vegetables and Madeira.  Class is in session for three hours because this recipe contains two additional recipes, one for Autumn Root Vegetable Puree and another for Autumn Vegetable Ragout.

Getting warmer.  By 11 PM, we feast.  The taste is incredible, well worth the aggravation of peeling all those itty bitty pearl onions.  But, my presentations always fall short.

Maybe I need a better photographer!  
Continuing education has never been so fun and fattening.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Dog With Nine Lives

After last week's near miss of scheduling Cole's euthanasia, he's been in a celebratory mood. 

Busy evicting geese from the lake while I'm working.
Others are content to conserve energy by waiting at the door for me to finish.

Ever faithful companions.  
While unloading a boat from a trailer, they worry they're being abandoned and try their best to get in the boat with me.

Nice to see I'm not the only one afflicted by separation anxiety!
Nice to see him with an appetite again.

He's eating again!

The Comeback Kid does it again.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Angus Lends a Hand

For over a year, a discarded piece of equipment has been driving me nuts.  
A broken pump down on the shore, too heavy for us to pull out, inaccessible for even my 4 wheeler.  
Then it dawned on me:  I have a draft horse.  Duh.

I squiggled around the trees like a champ.

Job done.
When I tell him he's not getting paid!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Coleman

For over a week now, Cole has had no appetite. His two meals a day tax my negotiation skills to the max. 
Feeding him by hand, piece by piece until on Thursday morning when he refuses chicken and steak. He's lethargic and refuses to get off the couch. 
Is this his time? I can't stand to see any creature linger. I'm the one who can be counted on to trip over Grandpa's life support machine cord. 
For almost a year, I've been preparing for this day.  I have his burial spot landscaped and ready.

I have a checklist of accounts to cancel:  insurance, microchip...
Being prepared is not the same as being ready. 
Calls are placed to his vets. Then I start plotting what last fun things Cole might want to do today. And that's when my life implodes.  So much for battle readiness.  
The plan is to go for a leisurely walk in the woods.

My plan, not Cole's.  He opted to take off after deer and make the rest of us chase him.  

My fear was that his pale gums and tongue were signs that a liver tumor had ruptured and he was bleeding internally ... and now he was finishing himself off by hunting deer.  I'm closer to the golf cart in the Boonies than to home, so the cart is stolen and used as a pursuit vehicle. 
Lead on, Garrett!
When I find him, he refuses to board, he's having too much fun.  Serendipity intervenes and one of his vets responds that he may be afflicted with gastric ulcers from the chemo.  That would help explain how he was zooming down the trails and not keeled over yet.
My Mr. Bean.
Getting photo bombed by Garrett.

Another suggestion was to try cooking liver for him.  I'd been out of milk for days, ditto on coffee, bread, PB, but if Cole needs something-- even if I was crossing over into my second  Zen week of not going to town, this recluse makes a beeline for the grocery store.
Pete is my backup. 

In case zombies attack me at Winn Dixie-- it can happen.  (Reason #1588 why I dread leaving the farm). 
Success:  offered up a banquet of liver, steak, salmon and rotisserie chicken, he eats all the chicken.  
Then crashes for the night.
Friday, we drop Pete off at physiotherapy and Cole has a full day of cancer staging at Auburn University.

Fancy Pants has friends in high places.  He gets to stay in his best friend's office in between procedures.  No kenneling for the King.  
Meanwhile, Garrett and I run errands.

It's very tiring being Mum's bodyguard, BBQ chicken from Earth Fare and ice cream from Bruster's are required to sustain Garrett.

We hover around the vet school, passing the time.
Cole is sent home with a hangover...
...meds for appetite stimulation, gastric coating and nausea...

...I'm left holding the $967 bill.

A barrel racing friend of mine always says: Go big, or go home.  Pedal to the metal is the only way I know how to go through life.  When it pays off, it pays off big.
Ultrasound showed that Cole's liver is still enlarged, but biopsies on liver and spleen found no sign of metastasis.  The chemo he is on that is now being blamed for his inappetence, is doing its job.  Considering this was the prognosis back in January:

He is one of the fortunate 30% who respond well to Palladia.  He is not in remission, but we gain more time.  To me that's akin to winning the lottery.
Once home, he's too tired to get out of the car.

He's cold from being anesthetized, so I jacket him... still cold...blanket him...not warming up yet.  I run an extension cord out to power a heating pad.

Now, we're in business. I hang out with him for an hour reading through all the newspaper clipping Helene has sent me.
When he comes to, I try to feed him supper:

This morning, Cole is bebopping through the house hankering to chase squirrels.  Doesn't appear he's ready to go.  Good.  Because I'm not ready either.