the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Monday, May 27, 2013

Expecting Fawn(s)

Remember this little deer family?  This is them last week.  Mom's looking pretty pregnant to me!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Writing A Blog (or, What Have I Gotten Into?)

The following is an actual email conversation between me and my daughter, which started out talking about Jenny Lawson's blog,, then sequed into the natural mother-daughter topic of "let me tell you what's wrong with you" (in which either party can be the one pointing out the faults, but this time it's her):
Ariana:  And where's your post about the book club? You'd better be working on it. Jenny Lawson posts pretty much everyday and you're never going to maintain an audience if you don't post on a regular basis. You don't have to start posting everyday right away but you should aim for once a week or something so that at least you're consistent.
Me:  I used to do 2 and 3 times a week and tried to keep it up. Sometimes my life just seems too irrelevant and dull. Or doesn't fit with the stated theme of "writing" or "rural life". Maybe I'm confining myself? Or maybe I'm not all that fascinating. Or maybe I'm a harsh judge of what others would read and like. That one, probably. And moody - that too. And unambitious. And apparently self-critical.

Don't confine yourself. If you are writing about yourself or something you experienced then it fits with the theme of your blog. And yes, you probably are too harsh of a judge of what others would enjoy reading. You shouldn't be so self-critical but if you are, then at least write about it! Quit being so unambitious!
Me: And I have been working on it, in my head. But it has no point yet. Not a sharp enough one, anyway. Which I guess means I am dull. But I did send Stevie and Steve a sort of clever email yesterday - does that count?

No, a "sort of clever email" doesn't count because it's not out there for your fans to see. It might be progress in terms of getting the creative juices flowing but you still have to post.
And one more thing - if you post nearly every day, you start opening way too much of your private life to the internet. People love that they feel they know Jenny and her husband and kid. Same with Heather Armstrong (  She separated from her husband about a year ago, then they divorced, and she couldn't NOT mention it, but it was very abbreviated and mysterious. And when big things like that overwhelm your life, other things can screech to a halt, and there's not much else to write about. So...what was my point here? I think it's that if I want to write more blog entries I might have to get a life, and not get too wrapped up in my family. That sounds almost mentally healthy. I didn't mean to make that point.
(Thanks for the bog entry, Ariana)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tree Hugger Kills Trees!

My mission in life: 1) save all the cats and 2) plant as many trees as possible.  Guess which one my husband agrees with?  But that's another issue.

This week I cut dead branches  from two large spruce trees that are partially shaded by a maple which
had killed their lower limbs.  No problem, it makes for a nice shady nook, perfect for a hammock, or mabe just a big rock.  But there was one problem.  One gut-wrenching, guilt-inducing problem - the maple, already a parent to three fine-looking saplings on my property, had shed seeds all over the bare ground beneath the dead branches.  About 50 tiny maple trees had taken root.
New life!  And they had to go.

My tree-hugging soul screamed, "Save them all! Transplant!"  Except the ground is thick with tree roots and impossible to dig in.  There was only one solution: pull them out and (shudder) throw them away.  Then go sob into my pillow all night for murdering baby trees.

You know I saved a couple.  When I yanked their fragile stems, they came out, miraculously, with lacy, intact root systems.  A sign, right?  I cradled their little bodies gently as I transfered them to sunny temporary homes in the corner of the garden that serves as my tree nursery, recently vacated by three crab tree spalings.  Then I watered and caged them with chicken wire to protect their tender leaves from deer.  Maybe, like the crab saplings, in three or four more years they can be moved to permanent homes, survivors of the great baby tree massacre of 2013.  And I will look at them and be happy for the two trees I added to the world - after brutally killing 48 of their siblings.  Sigh.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Bandaid-Filled Life

A confession first:  Internet, I shaved my legs for you.  There's something I never thought I'd say.
But I did it so I could show you this:
That's my legs today.  Both shins are scraped and if you look closely you can see a bruise above my left ankle.  There's another one behind it.   Nothing life threatening here.  Not even unusual, at least not if you're five.  What's embarrassing is that I'm far past five and my legs will look like this all summer, bumped and scraped in some form or another.  It's not even worth showing you my hands.  Suffice it to say my fingernails haven't seen polish in more years than I can remember.  Why bother, when they would be nicked before the end of the day? 
I could avoid all this if I took my exasperated husband's advice - "Be careful!" 
I don't want to.  I'm careful about the things that matter - I wear my seatbelt, I file my taxes on time, I don't leave potato salad out on the counter too long.  Life has enough rules.  But if no one gets hurt except me, I don't really care about being careful.  Careful isn't fun.  Ask any kid.
If I live to be eighty, I hope my legs still look like this.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Virgin Gambler

That's what this would be titled if it was a romance novel, because publishers love drama and sex.

Or I could simply title it Lucky Me.  You should stop now if you hate those beginner's luck stories.

I had never been to a casino before, and for years I've been itching to try it out.  You never know, I might need to use the experience in a book.  (By the way, you can justify SO MANY THINGS this way!  I highly recommend a writing career just for that handy excuse.  Got arrested?  You had to, because how else could you write about it with authenticity?  I've yet to use that one, but it's good to know it's there.)

So, since my husband and I got a free room at the Motorcity Casino in Detroit (that's another story) we tried out our luck. 

He has none.  He told me this ahead of time, then proved it with a fast $5 loss.  Then another $5 loss when I insisted he try again.  In fact, you'd have thought pushing those buttons on the slot machines was aversion shock therapy.  He couldn't quit fast enough.

My turn.  I'd done my research, Googling casino gambling.  I was disappointed to learn that the biggest money-suck at casinos is the slots.  Darn it, that's what I wanted to try.  The best odds were in blackjack.  So I studied up, got some coaching from my son-in-law and the dealer, and turned $25 into $65.  Good, right?  But not what I wanted to do.  And over all the noise, one of those slot machines was calling my name.

I found it.  A 10 cent machine with lots of 7's and bars and gaudy amounts of cash in glowing letters across the top.  I slipped in a $20.  My daughter suggested I go for the highest amount of lines and matches to increase my odds.  Okay, what do I know?  I pressed the 9 and and the 5 - a $4.50 bet.  Sevens and bars began spinning.  Then jerked to a stop.  My machine began ringing.  Down at the bottom, little numbers whirled faster than a gas pump spewing $5/gallon gas.  My original amount of $20 was long gone.  $40 flew past.  Then $60.  Still dinging and spinning!  I asked my daughter if this was for real or if my machine was broken.  She assured me it was real.  $100 spun past.  Then $150.  It finally jerked to a stop.  My virgin $4.50 bet had turned into $186.00.

You better know what button I pushed next: Cash Out.  I carried that voucher safely zipped in my jacket pocket where I could fondle it for the next hour or two while I played some more.  Not much, though - I was so pleased with my first-ever spin that I couldn't get into it.  When I was done my total winnings were $230.  Plus another free room I'd earned by playing for an hour.

What did I do with it?  Tiger stadium was about a half mile away.  The Tigers were home, on a winning streak, and Verlander was pitching.  We took a cab to the stadium, bought the best box seats we could find ($52 each) and had a terrific time cheering them to a 6-1 victory.  It was way more fun than gambling, and I still went home $100 richer.

I have to use that free room this summer.  I figure if I go during a home stand and allow a couple hours to win enough for box seats, we can have another great night out.  Gosh, this gambling thing is a good deal!

Yeah, go ahead and laugh.  Wave at me from the bleachers; I'll be in my lucky seat, right behind the Tigers dugout.

Turtle Time

It's that time of year again - turtles crossing the roads.  And as usual around here, my first turtle is a Blandings Turtle.

I'm not sure if it's a boy or a girl because I didn't turn it over to check.  I'm not joking - the males have a concave underside.  But girl or boy, at this time of year it's almost certainly out looking for a mate, which makes it pretty frisky for an old turtle.  From the size and the faded shell, my guess is 50 to 60 years old.  That means the turtle and I are contemporaries.  If we'd had time to chat we could have compared growing up in the 1960's and being young adults during those weird disco-70's.  But I was pressed for time and just gave him a safe escourt across the road.