the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vole Story

This little guy is a vole. Isn't he cute?

Not in your house, he isn't!

The other day I let Frieda outside.  Not ten seconds later, before I'd even walked away from the door, she wanted back in.  I assumed it was because TC was on the porch, in a pissy mood.  But as soon as I closed the door behind her I saw why she wanted in - she'd stolen his vole.  And now it was in my house.  Alive.

I ordered her outside.  She ran upstairs and hid behind a toilet.  I nudged her butt out, and she took off downstairs with her vole, his little vole legs kicking frantically.  We repeated this in a few more rooms, until she finally found safety beneath a chair and put her vole down.  And the real game was on! 

We couldn't find him.  Not me or Frieda, and not Harley or Penny or Ella, all of whom are strictly indoor cats and thought this was the best game we'd ever played.  I did the only thing I could do - I left the experts alone and waited.

An hour later I heard soft growling in the family room.  TC walked in there with me to see what was going on.  In the center of the room, Ella was facing down Harley and Penny with the vole hanging from her mouth, still kicking.  TC went, "Hey, I recognize that vole!"  Ella, knowing a real threat when she saw it, dove under the rolltop desk, where she made the mistake of putting down her vole.  Three cats went for it.  The vole miraculously ran through the furry melee and darted across the room.  I darted to the laundry room for a bucket, and came back to find the vole sitting up on his hind legs, back to the wall, facing down his four biggest nightmares.  While they tried to decide who should make the first grab, I did.  I scooped him up and carried him outside, releasing him in the dead marigolds where he promptly dove beneath the snow and disappeared.

I came back inside to incredulous looks from five cats who wondered how I could be so stupid.

"You threw it out?  Seriously?"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

UPS Responds . . .

. . . and redeems itself.  Sort of.

Kelly from UPS called mid-morning today in response to yesterday's complaint (previous post.)  Nice girl.  She apologized for the driver not bringing my packages to the door, and said she's getting a lot of these complaints.  Drivers leave packages tied to trees, on the ground, or whatever.  (In trees?  I was lucky.)  She told me she'd put a note in my driver's box, and let him know that I want to be notified personally if he can't deliver a package to my door.

A couple hours later, I got a call.
"This is Jeff.  I'm your UPS driver."
"Yes, hello!"
"I'm at the end of your driveway."
I look out the front window, a view to the road 700 feet away.  Sure enough, there he is, backed in, which is not a positive sign for making it up to my house.
"I have a package for you.  Is it okay to leave it where I did before?"
"Um. . ."  How do I break this to him?
"I'm new on this route, and I'm not used to these roads and driveways." 
He sounds timid and apologetic; damn.  I believe him.  I assure him his truck can handle it, it has many times in the past.  Perhaps he can get used to driving the back roads very soon.  Jeff agrees with that goal.  Still, there's a whole inch of new snow on the driveway today, and Jeff has a big boxy truck and no confidence.
"You can leave it there today.  Thanks for calling me."
We end the call with Jeff reassurred and me resigned.  I am not hopeful - Jeff has my number, and he's not afraid to use it. 

Perhaps UPS should look into hiring a few teenaged boys.  They have no problem bombing around the back roads on anything with an engine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

UPS vs My Driveway

I like a company that keeps track of your orders.  When I had bookmarks made for my new Barringer's Pass series, Earthly Charms told me when it shipped - Monday - and when it would be delivered - today.  UPS seemed to be running late, as it hadn't arrived by late afternoon.  Then I got an email from the company - did I receive my bookmarks?  UPS said they couldn't get all the way up my driveway and left it by a tree half way to the house. They wondered if perhaps deep snow made the driveway impassable.

I hopped in the truck to check it out - sure enough, there were two parcels wrapped in plastic and propped up by a tree.  The other package was the edits from NY on my next book.  If it really had been snowing, I might never have found them.

In fifteen years of living here, this is the first time a delivery didn't make it to the house.  This is the treacherous driveway he couldn't handle.  The package is at the base of the tree on the right.

A previous UPS driver had told me that company policy says they're supposed to park on the road and walk up to the house.  Obviously, if he did that in my neighborhood where most houses are far off the road, he'd never get done.  But that was the rule - walk it up to the house. 

I went to and used every character permitted to me to explain my dissatisfaction with their service.  They're supposed to answer within twenty-four hours.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Italian Vacation

Here's the picture of my latest book enjoying that promised vacation in Venice, Italy: 

Thanks, David.  Looks like SILVER SPARKS is having a great time!

Previous vacations are here and here .  Is it weird to be jealous of my books?

Saturday, January 14, 2012


For eight days now my barn cat, Gray, has been gone.
Usually, he is there to greet me both morning and evening when I go to the barn.  For months he hasn't missed one single visit.  I'm sadly accepting that he has met his fate. 

Twice before I've had wild cats appear who could be tamed enough to pet, but who could never give up their wanderlust.  Those two, like Gray, were all older, and no longer spry when they disappeared.  I fear coyotes.

Sophie is the lone barn cat now, with Zoe sticking to the chicken coop.  We seem to have a vacancy for a young male cat.  I can almost guarantee one will appear. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Rest of the Story

Did you notice the ruffled-looking patch of fur on the chest of the deer in the post below this one?  My neighbor did, which is how she recognized her.  She first noticed this deer two years ago in the herd that comes to eat in her back yard.  This is how she looked then:
That gory tear in her shoulder is where an arrow went in.  An equally gory hole on the other side of her chest is where it came out.  She walked with her head down, glancing fearfully into trees, wary of another hunter in a deer blind. 

My neighbor didn't expect the doe to make it through the winter, as her wound oozed and her skin hung in a raw flap.  The other deer tried to drive her away.  But by spring she was still there, beginning to heal.  Two years later, she roams our area with the same deer herd, often hanging a little apart with another doe when I see her.

Maybe she really does have some hard-to-kill terminator parts.  Or maybe just an indomitable will to live.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


When I walked by the front door, it looked like the local deer herd was breakfasting on my front lawn.

But it wasn't them.  It was . . .

            Alien terminator deer!