It’s been a month since anyone heard a peep from this blog, and while there are some legitimate reasons, there are as many lame ones. The biggest blame falls to work, which, while it is the absolute dopest the bomb there is, the middle of April through the middle of May take it all.
So here it is, my latest news and other stuff.
My sister Nicole and brother-in-law Tracey’s dog of nine years, Dauphine, died this week.
When I got home from covering baseball recently in Edmond, I found the house air conditioner had failed again. I know it’s old, but it sure would be nice to catch a break.
One result of this occurrence was my installation of a large window-unit air conditioner in the living room, which I had purchase for cheap from Amazon in early 2022, knowing I might soon need it.
The guy came the next day and fixed it, and for not as much money as I had feared.
The mass shooting in the greater Dallas area was just a few miles away from my step daughter and her family’s home. Chele said they recently shopped in the mall where it happened.
I can sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel of the big clean-out. This week I made giant strides in the house and in the office, but I think it’s ridiculous that … yeah, I know. When we get married, we are making a bargain with our spouse, and that includes, in our case, my making peace with her collectionism.
The garden is taking off like it should be. After a couple of seasons of very serious drought, both from the earth and from my ability to garden, April and May have been ideally rainy to bring the garden along.
Trigger warning: sight of blood and injured animals.
For a little less than a year, Hawken the Irish wolfhound has had a lump behind his left ear. A vet told me in the spring that it’s a skin tumor, and harmless, so if nothing happened, we’d just leave it alone.
Today, something happened. He spent last night inside because it was cold out. I put him outside at around 7 a.m. and fed him. At some point between then and 1:30 p.m., he must have cronked that tumor on something, because when I went out back to walk him, there was blood on the back porch, and when he came around the corner, I could see he was bleeding.
I put pressure on it, but it didn’t stop the bleeding, especially since every time he would shake, he would re-open it. I wrapped it with paper towels and an Ace bandage, which was enough to stop the bleeding while I drove him to the vet.
And of course, the back yard and the garage look like a crime scene.
They are sedating him now and will remove the offending tumor. I expect they will find it is benign, but I am aware there is a chance that isn’t the case. They expect to call me this evening to take him home.
Update: I was right to be concerned that Hawken could have bled to death. The vet (who is a good friend of mine) got him right in and excised the mass, which was, as we suspected, a hemangioma. Due to the sedation, he was a handful to get into the back seat of the pickup, and still a little weak and confused when I got him home, so I piled him out of the truck into the front yard.
Overall, it was a crisis, but my vet and I handled it well.
My cousin Lori Wade and her husband Bill Wade invited my sister Nicole Hammill, her husband Tracey Hammill, and me to join them for Thanksgiving at Lori’s home in rural Platt City, Missouri. We were joined by Lori’s father Wes on Thanksgiving Day.
The last time we joined Lori and her husband was when Abby and I drove there in 2010.
I made the six-hour drive on Wednesday before the holiday, with my Chihuahua, Summer, in the back seat.
I asked Bill, an avid hunter and gun enthusiast, if he owned an AR-15, and he did, so we took it down to his range and did some target practice, which was very fun.
At my urging, Lori brought out a box containing her father Wes’ Canon FTb, a popular single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera from the 1970s. I have a very clear memory of seeing Wes about to photograph the Thanksgiving table at Grandma Barron’s house in Independence, Missouri when I was in junior high, and thinking it was the coolest thing I’d even seen. I asked him if I could look through the viewfinder, which he let me, and I was smitten with the idea of one day owning such a camera.
I gave the camera a quick look, and it appeared to be in pristine condition, and everything still worked fine.
Lori seemed genuinely happy to be our host. She looked great and was so glad to see us. She cooked for us, and it was all delicious.
Between eating, conversation, and taking care of five dogs (Lori and Bill’s two Newfoundlands Sailor and Scarlet and their old retriever Riley, Tracy and Nicole’s Labrador retriever Dauphine, and Summer the Chihuahua), none of us every turned on a television, and only sparingly looked at our smartphones.
Lori seemed to have a great time being the gracious hostess, and put very amazing meals in front of us the whole time.
I had a very welcome visit today from Abby’s daughter Chele, her husband Tom, their son Paul, and their gorgeous golden retriever Samson. They grabbed a couple of pizzas on the way in, and we had a great time.
After Abby died in March, Chele and I spent a week kick-starting the big clean-out, the process of changing our home into my home. We set aside several plastic bins of items that Chele considered sentimental or valuable to her, with the intention of storing them here until Chele and her family moved to the Dallas area from Baltimore, which they did a month ago.
In the intervening months, however, I went through many more items, especially family documents and photographs, and loaded more plastic bins.
Anyone who knows Chele knows that she is the person you want on point on Thanksgiving day when it’s time to put away the leftovers. No one is better at “fridge Tetris” than she is.
Despite this fact, we only got a fraction of the bins and boxes loaded into their truck.
I anticipate traveling their direction before too much longer, though, with my truck loaded with more bins and boxes.
One thing I’d really like to do on my next trip to the Dallas area is visit Founder’s Plaza, DFW airport’s hot spot for airline spotting, which is interesting to me both as a pilot and as a photographer.
It was great seeing Chele and her family again, and I’m glad I finally got to meet their wonderful dog Samson. Samson got along with my dogs, and we all had a great time.
The road rumbles around us. Brilliant New Mexico sun shines through the windshield. Brilliant October blue sky surrounds us.
In the seat next to me, she sleeps. On the truck’s MP3 player is this song, Piercing Quiet by Tritonal. It resonates in me. Listen here as you read…
“The world’s in constant motion And so are all of us. You love the glow of sunrise. My stars come out at night. Your quiet pierces through me, There’s freedom renewed. It takes me to a place where The solace drops right through…”
I reach over and push my fingers under her blanket to find her hand, her willowy, soft, pale hand. I take it, and as she sleeps, she takes my hand. In a second, she turns her head without opening her eyes.
“Where are we?” she asks, almost whispering.
“About an hour from Cuervo,” I say. She smiles, remembering in her half-sleep state a place we once visited, Cuervo, New Mexico.
She goes back to sleep. I find myself blinking back a tear. This moment together is so perfect in it’s intimacy, it’s simplicity, it’s identity. I cherish it, breathe it in, memorize it. I don’t know, after all, if it might be our last chance, our last dance. There is nothing I want more than her soft hand in mine, in a quiet moment in eastern New Mexico, with the wild road in front of us, and I don’t want it to end. Ever.
I see that she is asleep again. I look over my shoulder to see our Chihuahuas, Max and Sierra, are also asleep.
All morning long we chatted happily as home fell farther behind us. By noon we were in the Texas panhandle. By 2 p.m., we were in the mesalands of New Mexico. By sunset, we hoped to be in Santa Fe for the night.
I shift in my seat as another 400 miles of trucks and blowing sand and black coffee await. She shifts in response, and I watch as she pulls her newly-bought cowboy hat down to the bridge of her nose to keep out the sunlight streaming through the windshield. I lift my hand and place it on top of her blanket, and feel how warm the sun has made it.
45 minutes later, I hear her say, “Hi.” She stretches and yawns and looks back at the dogs.
“Are you hungry?” I ask.
“Yes, what do you want?” she asks back.
“A veggie burger sounds good,” I tell her. “Honey, do you remember your first veggie burger?”
She smiles. I knew she would. On our first vacation together, The High Road, we rode the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway to the landing on the crest of the mountain, then hiked for another mile to the restaurant at the very top. She only revealed to me very recently that by the time we got to the restaurant, she was famished. We both got veggie burgers, fries and iced tea.
Some memories never fade.
By the time we rolled into Santa Fe after dark, tired and dusty from the road, we stopped in the breezeway of our hotel and paused. We looked at each other.
When everything else is busy and rough and noisy, she is quiet. She is the quiet at the end of every day. She is the quiet at the end of every road.
Hawken, our Irish wolfhound, cornered another opossum tonight, or possibly cornered the same opossum he encountered two weeks ago.
Hawken’s bark is unique to the situation: it is forceful, loud and urgent, and is meant to get the attention of the animal he is addressing as well as us.
I have no desire to kill animals like this, but I can’t have them stubbornly staking out Hawken’s food, and I am quite sure this animal or others like it are responsible for killing our next door neighbor Mike’s chickens recently.
I tried and tried to shoo it away, but it was too determined to dine on Hi-Point “Highly Active” 28/15 dog food, and would not retreat. I shot it with my M&P 15/22. Once it was down, I gave it one point-blank to the head so it wouldn’t suffer.
(Please, nurds, don’t sing that Monty Python song. Thanks.)
Abby and I had a few items to tick off in town Monday, including getting her truck serviced. As we often do, we had lunch at what has become our favorite place to eat in Ada, Prairie Kitchen, also known around town as Prairie Chicken. I have one favorite go-to item, their Rio Grande omelette, since it is vegetarian, and they make it well. The last time we were at the Chicken, Abby had liver and onions, but Monday she got a Monterey mushroom steak.
Like a lot of married couples, we have each other comfortably figured out, and that includes dinner. We both know, for example, that when a waitress asks Abby what bread she wants with her meal, I answer, since she doesn’t eat bread. (If you want to know why, ask her.)
Yesterday she ordered fried okra “because I knew you’d like some.”
In other news, the antenna crew finally arrived to install the antennas and 5G LTE transceiver equipment that will allow customers like us to use the service. It appears they are installing three pairs of 65º 12-foot panel antennas. The installer told me they are also putting in some kind of repeater for first responders. I walked Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, and they met him and liked him.
Speaking of Hawken, last night he cornered another armadillo, which I shooed away and shot. I don’t like killing them, but I can’t have these animals harassing our dogs.
Today is the first day of summer 2019. Spring brought tremendous rain, gorgeous pastures, peach and plum trees sagging from the weight of fruit, and early yesterday morning, widespread thunderstorm damage in our neck of the southeastern Oklahoma woods.
A fortunate collision of timing allowed our good friend Robert to join me in our coverage of the storm damage from a fast-moving line of severe thunderstorms that rolled through about 3 a.m. Damage was widespread and caused damage to numerous trees, and downed power lines across the region.
More than 15,000 residents were without power, including us in Byng. As luck would have it, we did have power at the office, so we got the paper out, but the Pauls Valley paper wasn’t as fortunate, and I don’t know how they eventually got their product together.
Robert lives in the D.C. area, but came to Tulsa to photography his niece Rowan’s wedding, and had some time to come down yesterday, just in time to round up some nice storm cleanup images, which are in today’s Ada News.
After a long day of that, and Abby texting us “Power!!! Power!!!” at 2:04 p.m. (for an outage time of about 12 hours), we went home to shift to phase two of our day of photography, photographing our pets, our patch, and each other.
Readers might recall that Robert photographed Abby and me in November, and those image ended up being some of my all-time favorites of the two of us, and I hoped to recreate the magic, and the session was everything I wanted it to be.
Maximum Speed Boulevard, our male Chihuahua since January 2006, has died. He was about 15 years old.
We originally adopted Max from the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) on January 7, 2006, one day before he was slated to be euthanized (which PAWS no longer does). One of Abby’s coworkers told us about him, and Abby took her nephew to the shelter and got Max.
Max was a great pet. He was a trash dog and a burglar alarm, and when he was younger, dug out of the front yard several times every spring.
Max travelled with us to numerous locations from the glittering Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, the deserts of the Four Corners region, Christmas in New Orleans, the Great American Eclipse in Park Hills, Missouri, and even to the east coast of Florida.
At one point on one of the Florida trips, we thought we’d lost him, but someone opened the pantry door, and there he stood.
His health was failing in the last couple of years. He couldn’t hear or see, was reliant on two drugs for his heart and his joints, and was no longer able to leap onto couches or laps, which he did like a spider when he was young. His teeth were mostly going or gone. He was prone to yelping at the door when I was outside mowing, and in recent weeks got lost trying to find his food bowl.
After putting it off repeatedly, we decided to put him down. He was a great dog.
Sometimes it feels like I want to do too many things. I want to write, I want to load the dishwasher, I want to mow, I want to play with lights in my studio, I want to take an extra walk with Hawken, I want to clean in the garage, I want to experiment with lenses, I want to shoot my guns, I want to tend my garden, I want, I want, I want…
We all get like this, and sometimes the tendency is to not do anything at all.
I, on the other hand, make myself stop for a second, and remember than I can’t do all these things at once, and I should do just one thing. That’s me today, and my first activity is writing what you are reading.
On another front, two good friends who are my age are having health problems. One of them might be having a heart attack (or may have had one), and is being stubborn about seeking medical care, and the other has a nerve issue combined with hypertension, which you can read about in his blog here (link.)
Yes, it’s disconcerting when my young friends are now old friends with old people problems, but the up side is that Abby and I are both fine at the moment, as are Summer the Chihuahua and Hawken the Irish Wolfhound. To complicate the roller coaster ride is the fact that Max the Chihuahua, who is 15, is still sliding toward the inevitable: he can’t see or hear, and he is unable to move like he once could. He remains a loyal and wonderful dog, even though these are probably his last days or weeks.
Let you had forgotten, Hawken the Irish Wolfhound remains the talk of the town. I still walk him every day, usually on our “winter route,” which includes an extra mile way back in the woods.
A friend of mine called February a “hard month,” and I can’t dispute it. Many around me have struggled with one thing and another, and there is a climate of discouragement about.
I’m shooting well, both for news and sports. Last night I covered the Class 5A area consolation basketball game between the Ada Cougars and my alma mater, the Eisenhower Eagles. It was oddly comforting to see the Ike cheerleaders dressed almost exactly the same as they did in 1981.
The forecast low tonight is 12ºF, so I bought a tank of propane for the heater I place in Hawken’s area under the back deck to keep him warm. I got under there with him, and it is actually decently comfortable. Sleep well, my giant companion.
One of my peach trees has responded to a recent warm-up, producing blossoms. Blooming this early means I won’t get any peaches from this tree, since a hard freeze is forecast for tomorrow night. But the blossoms are beautiful, and are my favorite thing about having these trees.
Walking Hawken yesterday afternoon was a different experience. The second I opened the back door, I smelled the strong odor of grass fire smoke. The wind had shifted and was coming from the north, and someone, or probably many people, were burning the pastures in preparation for the spring growing season.
I have been off of social media radar for a few days to entertain the family visiting from Baltimore, Abby’s daughter, Chele, her husband Tom, and their son, our grandson, Paul.
I also did my usual work at the annual Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic basketball tournament, for which, for the first time ever, we hosted their web site. One night the crowd was so large we ran out of tickets.
Christmas is always stressful, but by the time it rolled around, I was very glad we were able to have it with the family. This year they arrived on December 26 and departed on New Year’s Day.
We had a gift exchange as soon as they arrived. We watched movies and played outside. We walked Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, which Paul, who is seven, regarded as an accomplishment, trekking deep into the woods. Paul rode his tractor, which he is likely to have outgrown by the next time they visit.
We toasted in the new year with the cheapest possible sparkling wine (technically not champagne,) hours before it actually turned midnight, and we all got a good night’s sleep before the kids flew back to Baltimore.
Finally, mindful of the weather forecast for snow and ice, and that my days off are limited, I de-decorated the entire house yesterday. Tonight I’ll let the wolfhound in the garage and the two of us will put all that stuff in the rafters. Another year ends, and begins.
Abby and I are preparing to host Christmas this week. The kids (Abby’s daughter Chele, husband Tom, and our grandson Paul) are coming on the 26th and staying through New Year’s Day.
I have decorated and shopped and cleaned and prepped. Now, more. No, really. This kind of thing seems perpetual, and is never finished. And you can’t do it a month before: the dogs will chew up a poo where you shampooed the carpet. The bathroom mirrors get splashed. The sink gets full of dishes. You know what it’s like.
Readers familiar with my cadre of work will recall that I don’t love Christmas. Not only is it a bone of religious contention (the pretend “War on Christmas”), it’s also a bitter reminder of how much we trivialize ourselves with commercialism. I talked about this in my column this week.
What do I like about Christmas? I love the photography most of all. I love that my wife loves it so tenderly. I love that we usually get to see the kids.
I will let you know how this Christmas stacks up. In the mean time, have a peaceful one.
After a routine doctor visit and breakfast, Abby suggested we go by the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) to see if they had any female Chihuahuas to adopt. I liked the idea: Abby and I both felt a little empty nest syndrome after Sierra died in March.
We found one, a beautiful, tiny 18-month-old who had been “brought back” after she supposedly bit a grandchild. We played with her for a few minutes and decided we belonged together. We also decided not to use the name she was given, and pondered for a short time before deciding to call her Summer Time Lane, in keeping with our dog naming scheme: Sierra Kayenta Avenue, Maximum Speed Boulevard, and Hawken Rifle Trail.
In the short time she’s been in the house, she seems to be taking to us, and us to her, just fine.
Sierra the Chihuahua passed away today. She was 13.
A radiograph at the vet showed Sierra had the usual older Chihuahua heart murmur, and the physical indicated she had an infection.
She grew sicker as the day went by, with defined swelling in her neck.
I buried her by the Walnut tree.
In many ways, Sierra was Abby’s best friend, and Abby forms attachments to animals more that anyone I know. It’s difficult when we lose them (I have buried two goats and Abby’s previous Chihuahua, Gabby), but I have to say that it’s as worthwhile an endeavor as any. They give us so much love and genuine affection and ask only that we praise them, keep them warm, and feed them.
Hawken the Irish Wolfhound has slain another gopher.
Meanwhile, I’ve been baking pies for Abby. You can tell when I make pies because I make a happy face with the extra crust.
Finally, Tuesday is Halloween. I have been making related pictures, but none better than at the recent Mummy and Son dance, where I photographed a mom dressed as a hot dog and her son a mustard, a mom as a burglar and her son as a State Trooper, and this image of an astronaut son and his moon mom…
I told my wife Abby I wanted a picture of me playing tug-of-war with Hawken the Irish Wolfhound, since it’s his favorite thing to do with me, and since he has grown some since our last photo session.
Before we could photograph us, Abby asked me to put a bandana on him, and we chose one of his U.S. flag bandanas. Putting one on him is an epic battle for me, since he thinks it’s a chew toy, but Abby is apparently a dog whisperer, and had no trouble at all.
It was a fun photo session that included Abby trying to “ride” Hawken for a photo but finding him too tall to mount, and Hawken stealing Abby’s water bottle to keep as a toy.
Afterwards I took him for his second walk of the day.
In other news, it was cold enough to put sweaters on the Chihuahuas last night. They love their sweaters, and come running when I bring them and offer to put them on.
Also, as readers hopefully saw on my teaching blog, Abby and I attended her family reunion last weekend, and shot a bunch of senior pictures for Abby’s great niece Teddy, with great success. I will post reunion photos on the travel blog shortly.
News-followers might recall that the last couple of days have been dominated by news of Hurricane Harvey, an originally uninteresting tropical depression that ended up making landfall at Category 4 near Corpus Christi, Texas. As a possible consequence, our skies the last couple of nights have been a little more turbulent and a little more beautiful.
After work last night, I took Hawken, our eight-month-old Irish Wolfhound, for his evening walk. It was cooler than August evenings usually are around here, and between the green pasture turning gold and a particularly synergistic confluence of music on my iPod, I decided to take him around the perimeter a second time.
After washing out his water bowl and giving him a big drink, I decided he needed to be photographed. Though he is 130 pounds of puppy, he believes himself to be a lapdog and wants to be constantly in contact with us, so it is difficult to photograph him without assistance. Still, I found a way, though it involved at least one giant swath of dog saliva on my camera.
As the evening matured, I paused to watch the sky. It reminded me of the sky we saw here in Oklahoma in 2008 as Hurricane Gustav made landfall and skirted past us to the east.
I’m not saying there is a hurricane over us, and it is not forecast to come this way, but the atmosphere is all connected, and the sky often tells me about wildness in the sky far away.
As usual, I had a super-fun time covering Independence Day celebrations in Ada’s Wintersmith Park Tuesday. The weather was nice and everyone had a great time.
It rained 3.1 inches Monday, then 1.5 inches early Wednesday morning, then another half inch right on top of us and nowhere else in there state, just as I was about to walk Hawken the Irish Wolfhound two nights ago.
Everything was browning just a bit, but is now turning green again, and growing fast, so I am experiencing a burst of outdoor work.
My wife Abby and I gave Hawken a bath in the front yard yesterday, then took him to the vet, where he weighed 108 pounds, which is typical for his breed at his age, six months. He is a mess, but he loves us both.
As the owners/operators of Chihuahuas, Abby and I are amused by references to these animals in popular culture. Thus, this far side cartoon is particularly poignant…
After shampooing the carpet in the living room, I stepped into the back of the house to see this…
Abby and I are certainly no strangers to this, since both dogs like to chew up stuff. One or the other of us will find a chewed up paper towel or Kleenex and announce, “Snow in the hallway!”
So anyway, on with my rantology…
Part of what aggravates me so much about Facebook is that it almost always takes over for a blog or other social site that was inherently better – more content, better presentation, more writing, more individual expression, more creativity – and stuffs it into Facebook’s mold. When that happens, it results in something else I despise, these blogs being abandoned like the Pripyat amusement park. Seriously. I had friends who were writing great stuff – engaging, thoughtful, insightful, intimate stuff – only to stop the very day they joined Facebook. Think I’m kidding? Look at the last post of a blog you once read and liked, then find the date they joined Facebook. The same day?
While I’m ranting, I want to tell liberals and conspiracy nuts that there was nothing wrong with George W. Bush’s reaction to the first news of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. The left side of the internet seems to think that listening to a few more minutes of grade school kids reading a story either proved he was an idiot or proves some kind of conspiracy, and it does neither. I don’t like it when the right says untrue or misleading things about Barack Obama (citizenship, birthplace, removing the flag from his campaign plane, not saluting the flag, etc.), so it’s not fair – never fair – to use something like the goat story against W.
Two years ago our black goat, Coal, died suddenly. Last night his brother Buxton joined him. Buxton was only off his feed for a day or two, so he didn’t suffer at all.
The two were great pets, and Abby and I are already talking about getting a couple more, maybe in a year or two when our grandson is old enough to enjoy baby goats.
Just as an aside, if anyone is interested in disposing of a body, I have found that digging large holes and dragging mammals into them in the south pasture behind the garden at our home doesn’t seem to attract anyone’s attention. I’m just saying.
My wife came into the living room to tell me that Buxton the Goat was hollerin’. I put my headlamp flashlight on and grabbed a pistol to go see what might be upsetting him. In the back yard, the headlamp wasn’t quite enough, so I shined my Streamlight TLR-3 (which is on the rail of the 9mm pistol I was holding) into the pasture, where I discovered about five longhorn steers. I’d never seen cows in our pasture before. It’s not a cow pasture.
“Abby, come quick! We’ve got cows!” I called, and she obliged. The steers seemed happy to graze as we watched, but I was sure someone was missing them. I don’t know the price of a commercial steer, but it’s a lot, and these animal were definitely not where they belonged. I stepped outside the fence and shouted at them, and they moved in the direction of the road, where after a few minutes I noticed someone arrive in a four-wheeler and start rounding them up.
Abby was exhausted when she got home, and fell asleep in her recliner right away, with her bear shoes propped high up on the “green thing,” which my friends in Norman always called an LBUA, or Leaner Backer Upper Againster.
So I went to mow, but first I wanted to cut at least some of the dead branches off of the old apple tree in Dorothy’s yard, since I saw her today (to get her column, which she has decided to start writing again – yay!), and she gave me her blessing. We think last summer’s heat and drought are the cause of so many trees being dead now.
While I was cutting off these huge branches, I noticed Buxton the Goat had joined me. Odd, I thought. He doesn’t have opposable thumbs, so he couldn’t have opened the gate. I must have left it open, but that had to have been yesterday, so he only came out of the back yard when he saw me. I walked over to him as he ate leaves off of one of Abby’s Rose-of-Sharon and said, “Come on.” He followed completely, and surprisingly, obediently, through the gate into the back yard. What a good boy.
The whole time I was chain sawing and mowing and dragging branches, I had the Third Eye Blind song Non-Dairy Creamer playing in my head. In particular, I kept hearing, “They call it KFC ’cause it’s not really chicken.” I get it, Stephan, but hey, both of those statements are wrong. They call it “KFC” because Americans are lazy and don’t like to say whole words. KFC was just easier. And while it’s not a paradigm of well-prepared chicken, it is actually chicken.
I finished my night by showering to get the sawdust out of my hair.
I didn’t have any late afternoon or evening assignments at work so I was home by about three. It is cloudy and warm out, so by five I decided to get some yard work done. I pondered digging the garden. When I told Abby that I was planning a garden this year, her face lit up, so I know she is looking forward to having it. (Last year I just seemed to know not to plant, and the summer was one of the worst drought seasons we have ever experienced.) As I started to work, I discovered I had other priorities, like removing the elm saplings from the Rose-of-Sharon bushes, and pruning some of Dorothy’s peach trees. I took most of the branches
and gave them to Buxton the Goat, who seemed so excited by my presence that he couldn’t quite make himself eat them, and instead ran around and chattered at me.
I discovered that my suspicions that one of my plum trees had died were true, so I dug it up and threw it on the burn pile. I grabbed a camera to illustrate it, but found better things to photograph, like some of the flowers down at Dorothy’s. If I get the chance in the next day or two, I should cut some and take them to her.
I noted that all the trees and pastures and flowers and clover patches and everything else doesn’t grow larger in any predictable fashion. This late winter season has been much wetter than the last few years, and there is a thick, straight grass that I’ve never seen before growing thickly in all the pastures and our back yard . We are also seeing an amazing number of crane flies everywhere, like we have never seen before.
Like life itself, the only consistent thing I have observed about the life on our little patch of green is change.
Michael called me the other day to complain that I sort of left everyone hanging about Abby’s condition in my last entry. So let me say that Abby is much better, and may be returning to work tomorrow.
Over the past year or two our marriage has gotten even stronger than before, and one thing I am enjoying very much is the intimacy of Sundays. We piddle, we get little chores done, I sometimes work outside, we sometimes shoot our guns down at the pond. If we can’t avoid it, we make a Wal Mart run, which is always easier together.
Today Abby is printing out dozens of recipe cards for a big book of recipes she is assembling, many of them dating back to her grandmother’s era. “You can see our German lineage,” she told me, “since nearly half of the recipes are desserts.”