Early signs of SPRING

1) longer days (for which I’m extremely grateful!)

2) warmer weather (we hit 60 today. We’ll have more cold before Easter, to be sure, but after two months’ unremitting cold (highs in 30s and 40s, extremely unusual for us), this is a wonderful respite.

3) Robins and bluebirds – and other birds as well, but those are the two noticeable species.

4) Green! – tips of green from bulbs and daylilies are poking their noses above-ground.

5) Patted Simon a few minutes ago, and my hands came up covered in cat hair. He’s already shedding!

The Mouse Saga (cont.)

In our last thrilling episode, Laura was bewailing the ineptness of a certain cat at keeping live mouse prey CAUGHT. In this episode…

Laura: Simon, what’s that noise in the kitchen?

Simon: Mrowr?

Laura leans back on the sofa and looks into the kitchen, where one… TWO mice are gazing at her from the back burner of the stove.

Now, after our last episode, Laura went to the local feed store and bout a set of humane traps. So far they have been patently ignored… she re-positions the traps in closer proximity to the stove.

One mouse is caught the next afternoon – not one of the two adult-sized mice from the evening before (these mice, I have a feeling, are akin to Douglass Adams’ description of mice in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Mice are the physical protrusions into our dimension of a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings who commissioned the construction of the Earth in order to find the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything. As such, they are the most intelligent life forms on that planet.

So – I have a young juvenile mouse in a humane trap, and the plan is to take said Mouse with me the next morning when I leave for work, and to drop him/her/it off at the creek about a mile from my house – the OTHER side of the creek, to be as precise as possible, since everyone who has ever encountered a Mouse knows that said Mouse will go to great lengths and distances in order to return to its favorite B&B when transported Out. On the other side of the creek there is water to cross in order to come “home” – cold water, this time of year. And there are a variety of other houses and barns to (hopefully) distract the Mouse and keep it occupied until Nature, in the form of snakes or my cousins’ cats, takes its Course.

But as I was pulling the car over to the shoulder of the road, the humane trap lid jiggled open, and Mouse JUMPED OUT of the trap and onto my coat, and then to my feet, and, by the time I was able to stop the car and get out to try to catch it…. out of sight.

I cannot win for losing, sometimes.

I did stop by a DRUG STORE and purchase a new, larger, and heavier humane trap. We’ll see how well IT works once the mice become complacent to its presence in the kitchen. It’s baited with peanut butter and Cadbury chocolate square.  For Cadbury Chocolate, I’d climb into the trap, myself (but I have the rest of the bar to console me, so there’s no need for such measures).


to be continued… sigh.

Thanks to Angela for directing me to a delightful blog – My 50s Year is a charming attempt at adopting retro living –

It seems to be a developing trend, and why not? We are all hungry to return to a time when life was simpler, morality and decency were the norm – when you could turn on the television or go to a movie and not have to mentally edit the profanity… when you didn’t have to be voyeuristic in other people’s sex lives…

People hunger for decency and simplicity. We long for the days when men were men, women were women, vive la difference! and never the twain shall meet – much less disappear.

So check out this charming little blog, and think of pulling out your own hats… and where do you suppose I might be able to find some dress gloves? hmmmm


Passages from Favorite Authors: Rosamunde Pilcher

I love the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher. She has such a way of incorporating lovely domestic detail into the lives of her characters that I find homey and gracious. Rosamunde herself is a gracious lady; retired from writing and living in Scotland now, she still takes time to respond to fan letters – I have a charming note from her pinned to my bulletin board as I type this.

Here’s a passage from her novel, The Shell Seekers (orig. published St. Martin’s Press, also available as a Dell paperback, which is what I have) –

Richard was gone. Penelope learned to live without him, because there was no alternative. You couldn’t say, “I can’t bear it,” because if you didn’t bear it, the only other thing to do was to stop the world and get off, and there did not seem to be any practical way to do this. To fill the void and occupy her hands and mind, she did what women under stress and in times of anxiety have been doing for centuries: immersed herself in domesticity and family life. Physical activity proved a mundane but comforting therapy. She cleaned the house from attic to cellar, washed blankets, dug the garden. It did not stop her from wanting Richard, but at least, at the end of it, she had a shining, sweet-smelling house and two rows of freshly planted young cabbages.

Update Sept 22, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time: A friend emailed to tell me that she thinks this passage is maudlin – but I love it! It always makes me want to sweep the cobwebs out of remote corners of my home, and to go out and plant cabbages, no matter what time of year it is.

Help needed?

I’ve already exchanged emails with a couple of girlfriends about this, but want other input wherever I can get it.

I’m buying a sewing machine, a 2d-hand Janome that I’m picking up from a dealer in Cary this coming week, when I drive up for Chorale rehearsal. I’d never heard of this brand until it came recommended to me this past week – well-made, sturdy, long-lasting.

I have tried sewing before, and hated it for being fidgety nerve-wracking work. But in the past year and a half I’ve discovered pleasure in a number of activities that annoyed me, before, so I think it’s time to pick this up and try it again.  I’m going to start out by stitching up the fabric I have for my kitchen curtains, then I’m going to make a couple of half-slips and nightgowns for myself.

Do any of you have recommendations for sewing instruction books you’ve found useful and UNDERSTANDABLE over the years? Ideas for storing and organizing supplies? My sewing stuff will have to share space in a general-purpose workroom which is also my library, study, and craft-and-mend room.

I’m actually looking forward to this…

My world and welcome to it – This Week: The Mouses Saga

Once upon a time, in the Farm (portion) jokingly called Funny (as in, The Funny Farm – which it was in that season, when, albeit briefly, chickens and goats resided thereon) –
There lived a slightly sentimental female by the name of Laura, with her single cat – who is sequentially known as Him, The Cat, Bubba, and most resently, Simon.

Simon was a large cat, weighing approximately 20 lbs, yet surprising agile. He was a clever and skilled hunter, and throughout the year he was known to bring to his Laura a wide variety of samples of his prowess:

Mice. Birds. Skinks. Moles. Bunnies (see the photo). Field rats. A bat. A squirrel… Once, the Laura barely got the door closed in Simon’s face in time to prevent his presenting her with a rather charming (and still very much alive) blacksnake.

In recent times, Simon’s techniques changed. Whereas formerly he would bring his kill in to impress his Laura, he began to surmise that she might be more enthused for his skill and capability as a Mighty Hunter if she could see just how hard he had to work to capture swiftly-moving prey.

In short, Simon began to bring live prey to his Laura, for her admiration and approbation.

Coming in through an open door, or occasionally window, Simon would bring his latest captive to his Laura, with little purry mrows of invitation. And, when his Laura would look at him from whatever work she was engaged in, he would lay his Love Offerings at her feet, then gaze up to her beloved face in order to see the pride and appreciation glowing there.

Poor Cat failed to recognize that the shrieks and pointings were not of admiration. He did not realize that his Laura was, in fact, saying, “Simon! Pick that mouse up – noooo!!!! Not in here! – quick! Catch it again!!!”

— because, in very Truth, while Simon was gazing with adoring expectation at his Laura, his captive was taking the opportunity of his diverted attention to make a mad dash for freedom. On some occasions, Mouse was eventually caught again, in a plastic cup, or in the Laura’s own hands from under a bookshelf (which won the Laura with a sharp little BITE on the hand!) –

However, two of the Mouses discovered that there was a tall and heavy object against one wall, which, touched, could make pleasing noise and which was too heavy to be moved. A very safe hiding place, indeed!

And so the Mouses hid, and when all was safe and quiet, they ventured out and made their way into other parts of the House, careful at all times to avoid rousing the notice of the Cat or of his Laura. Their favorite place to encamp was the object called Stove, whence small crumbs occasionally fell – but boredom, and a Mouse-like delight in adventure, caused them to venture forth beyond the confines of Stove and into the wider House-world……….

(to be continued, I fear)

I think I’ve saved one…

Simon brought two “gifts” this a.m. –

One was a bird, already dead. The other was – is – this little fellow, still very much alive

UPDATE: I held on to Wittle Bunny Wabbit for about half an hour (I guess the photo isn’t that good, but I couldn’t loosen my hold on him or he’d have jumped straight into Simon’s cluthces again!). Last time Simon brought me a live “love offering,” it died pretty fast from its injuries. This time I – and Baby Bunny – were lucky. After Simon got tired of waiting for me to GIVE IT BACK! he went out on the deck. I carried Bun out to some wild grape vines in the back yard and released him. He took off leaping like a champ!

I asked St Francis to keep him out of harm’s way.

Photo 90

A community in grief – pray for us

Sunday morning, I was iChatting with a friend in Texas when both of us heard the siren. I watched a sheriff’s deputy come up the road in front of my house. He had to be going at least 100 m.p.h.  We wondered where he could be going, and we said a prayer for the situation.

A couple hours later, looking for weather, I found out where he had been going. A lone gunman had gone into one of our area nursing homes. At that time, six people were dead; later, two more died. Most of the victims were elderly patients of the nursing home – the oldest was 98 years old. One RN, a former Coast Guardsman, age 39, was also killed.

The gunman was stopped when one Carthage police officer, Justin Garner, came after him, unassisted, and shot him. The officer sustained three wounds to his left foot and leg; he was treated and released from our local hospital, although he’ll still have to have some outpatient surgery, we’re told, to complete his recovery. Robert Stewart, the gunman, is in custody; his injuries are not life-threatening.

WRAL television in Raleigh has done a decent job of covering this event. I’ve been watching the news briefings with the chief of police in Carthage and the county District Attorney.

Our community is simply stunned. This is not the sort of thing that happens here. When Chief Chris McKenzie was asked how many police officers were on duty, Sunday morning, there was a bit of shock registered when he said, “Two.” But then he went on to say, for the community of approximately 2,000 residents, “This is a community built on faith. On Sunday morning, everyone’s in church.”

In his first interview with the press about the incident, McKenzie, who is a local, said, “This is a community based on faith, and faith will see us through this.”

On days like this –

Some days it’s hard to remember that God cares about the minutiae of our lives, like our names, or how many hairs are on our heads, or the common ordinary tasks that make up our lives.

No water here at the Farm today. I went to wash up the kitchen, nothing. Cousin came out, wrangled the very heavy lid to the well up,  crawled inside (after using a stick to clean out the spiderwebs – I have black widows in there).

Bad switch. It’s just gone “poof!” He’s gone to town to pick up a new one. No idea how much it costs, which has me very much on edge. I have an interview next week to pick up another piano family, but money is tight this month, to say the absolute least of it.  A few inches gained, then knocked back a couple yards.

I keep telling myself, I’ve weathered worse! but the older I get the less resilient I find myself when meeting these challenges. I wasn’t raised to this kind of self-reliance, and it’s not my nature; I’m not one of those women who can just roll forward without timidity in these crises. Sickness, death, disappointments? I can face those and hold your hand when they come to you – but these very practical mechanical details of daily living leave me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

On the positive side – the weather is mild, although cold (for us) is forecast for the next few days. Sun’s peeking out a bit, which is a plus.

And I’m really, really pleased to be working on Deliberate Engagement. It’s been a bit time-consuming, but things are stabilizing, I think (?) and settling into a steadier pace. Matt’s a joy to work with. Read his page on Debate to get a glimpse of why I respect him so much and feel privileged to get to work with him. I pray that our efforts can make a concrete difference in this part of the culture wars.

Keep praying for us, please.

Update: the switch cost less than $20 – I am breathing again.