Surprised By September

I am always surprised by September. I always feel as if I’ve barely gotten used to the idea of summer when suddenly the temperatures are cooling, the leaves are beginning to change, the harvest is winding down, and thoughts of winter preparation start to surface.

To be honest, I’m probably surprised by the arrival of every season.

This morning the skies looked pretty clear, but dark, ragged clouds with a tinge of green moved in quickly. We had a bit of rain and lightning. It wasn’t as bad as it was closer to the Lake Michigan coast, but it did knock out our Internet for about 6 hours.

We had a storm in early August that dumped such heavy rain on us that it eroded gullies at the edge of our driveway. EJ ordered a load of crushed cement to be brought in and he spent a weekend or two filling in the gullies. When we first moved here six years ago, our driveway was extremely eroded with gullies that were several feet wide and deep. It took us a couple years of shoveling gravel and dirt, building rock dams, and planting vegetation to fix it. This was the first more serious erosion we’ve had to deal with since then. The rain eroded the edge of the driveway where there are no dams or vegetation to slow the rush of rain water.

Right after the August storm, I was very surprised to see a bald-headed Blue Jay at our bird feeder. I can only think that he had somehow lost his feathers in the storm. He looked very pathetic. He visited the feeder often and I tried to get a photo of him but he was skittish and I couldn’t focus my camera on him before he had grabbed a seed and was gone. The last time I saw him, his head was looking more normal.

I was surprised to see another bald-headed bird in between storms this morning. This one was a bald eagle. He landed at the top of a tree overlooking our property. He stayed for quite a while before taking off. He flew so fast that with just a couple flaps of his wings, he had flown across our property and disappeared into the trees.

We’ve had new visitors to our bird feeder at night: Opossums. They climb right up into the tray and calmly munch away even though I am only a couple feet away on the other side of the window shining a flashlight on them. I think of them as ROUS: Rodents of Usual Size from The Princess Bride. I have grown fond of them over the years, especially because they eat lots of ticks. I hate ticks.

I haven’t seen the raccoon family lately, but I suspect that they are not visiting the bird feeder because they are probably the critters who have been eating the corn in our garden. We haven’t gotten to enjoy any of our corn because they eat them before they are fully ripe. EJ is thinking that he probably shouldn’t even try to plant corn anymore, although I wondered if we could plant corn as a decoy to keep them from other crops. Critters have gotten a few of EJs pumpkins as well, but we have had a good crop of green beans, peas, and cucumbers. I’ve been freezing the beans and peas.

Kimchee

Years ago when I was a teenager, my Korean sister-in-law used to make Kimchee (also spelled Kimchi) for us when she and my brother visited. Kimchee is a fermented Korean food. It is definitely not for people who do not like spicy-hot food. When I told EJ about it after we married, he occasionally bought some for me, now and then, over the years. Once when he bought some from an Asian market, the owner tried to talk him out of buying it because it would be much too hot for us, but EJ insisted that we knew what it was and he wanted to buy it. We have always wanted to learn to make Kimchee ourselves and we finally learned how a week or two ago. We started with cucumbers because we have so many from our garden, but we’d also like to make it with cabbage. I’ve made it several times now. Yum.

My herbs have been growing well and I’ve been busy drying them. I also ordered some ginger roots and dried them in our dehydrator and then I ground them with my small electric coffee grinder–until the grinder’s blade broke. Bummer.

My foot, which I injured in late July when I fell exiting the chicken coop, is healing. One of my readers suggested that I buy a medical orthopedic walker boot for ankle and foot injuries. I bought one and it has helped a lot. (Thank you, Sandyslens!) My foot is not completely healed, but it is MUCH better than it was. Sometimes I can almost walk like normal, with only a little limp, although my ankle feels weak and it starts to ache if I am on it too long. I tried to wear my normal shoes a week or so ago, but I’m not quite THAT healed. I wear my medical boot in the house or out to the garden. I wear EJ’s winter boots when I go to the mucky chicken coop because I don’t want my medical boot to get yucky.

I put some heavy paving bricks in front of the coop door last week so the chickens can no longer dig holes that I fall into.

Stepping Out

Well, it’s been interesting watching my foot change colors as the days go by. I am still wondering how I managed to injure it so severely when I fell into such a shallow depression. I think I must just be talented. Or not talented, depending on how you look at it. LOL.

My foot doesn’t feel good by any stretch of the imagination, but every day it’s feeling a little less bad. Less bad is pretty good.

When I first fell, I could not able to put any weight on my foot whatsoever. I could get around only by getting onto our wheeled office chair and rolling myself to the place I had to go–such as the bathroom. After a few days, I graduated to a cane. I’m still using the cane, but I have to depend on it less heavily. So that’s progress.

If it were a mysteriously creepy night, I could appear almost scary in a horror movie sort of way with my zombie-looking foot and my thump, step, thump, step sound as I lurch out of the fog. I think “night” sounds scarier than “day,” “scary” sounds more powerful than “pathetic,” and “lurch” sounds better than “hobble” or “limp.”

I’m assuming–and resigned to the fact–that it’s going to take a while for me to get back to normal. I’m trying very hard to stay off my feet as much as possible to give my injured foot time to heal, but I also want to do as much as I am able to do. I sort things into different categories: there are some things I have to let EJ do for me, there are some things I want to do, there are some things I have to do, and other things I am impatiient to do.

For example, if EJ isn’t available (i.e., he’s in bed or at work) I have to be able to feed Hannah Joy and take her outside when she needs to go. I have to be able to feed the outside cats and let them out of the garage in the mornings and get them back inside the garage in the evenings. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get them in the garage because the cats–especially Theo–like to roam our property and sometimes they are slow to return to the house. I haven’t had a problem, though, because when I see them near the house near evening, I call them to me and put them in the garage, even if it’s a bit early. I have to be able to get the chickens shut up safely in their coop in the evenings, although EJ cares for them when he gets up in the morning and he steals their eggs in the afternoons before he heads to work.

Although he’s willing to help me, I hate to ask EJ too often to fetch and carry for me when he is busy doing his chores, and mine, AND going to work every day. I’m obviously not going to be mowing the lawn any time soon but I can easily do dishes now because I only need to stand in front of the sink with the weight off my foot. EJ is doing the cooking and putting dishes away because they take too many steps for me.

I decide whether I can do a task by determining how many steps it will take or how long I will have to be on my feet. The more steps, the more pain so I try to eliminate steps by bundling tasks–i.e., doing everything I can in the part of the house that I am currently at or going through. For example, the pantry, the door to the garage, and front door are all at the end of the hallway. So when I go to the pantry to get Hannah Joy’s food in the morning, I also scoop out food for the outside cats and put it near the front door as I take the few steps to the kitchen to put Hannah Joy’s dish on the floor. This keeps her out of my way as I take the few steps back down the hallway. I reach through the door to the garage and push the button to open the large door a little so the cats can get outside. Then I pick up the cats’ food dish, go out the front door, and put their dish on the porch. The seed for the wild birds is in a container on the porch so as I head back into the house, I scoop some into a container. By this time, Hannah Joy is finished eating and needs to go out so we go to the door in the living room that leads out to the deck. I get her out on her tie-out and then I pour the seed into the bird feeders which are next to the deck. By this time Hannah Joy is ready to go inside so we go in together. I hobble back through the house to put the scoops back in the birdseed container on the front porch, and when I come back through the kitchen, I pour myself a cup of coffee and take it with me to the couch where I settle down and rest my foot. By calculating and eliminating as many steps as I can, I maximize the number of tasks I can do while minimizing effort and time on my feet.

Monday evening was the first time I had to go out to the coop to shut the chickens in. When it was almost time to go out, I realized that there was no way that my foot would fit in my shoe. I couldn’t go barefoot because I needed the support of my brace to go so many steps, and I didn’t want to dirty it in the mucky chicken area. I pondered the problem and then I thought, “Oh! I can wear my winter boots!” which usually fit a bit loose. I tried to insert my foot in the boot, but it didn’t fit. So then I thought, “Oh! I could wear EJ’s winter boots!” which are bigger than mine. But I couldn’t get my foot in his boot either. I thought further and decided to just try putting on a pair of slippers. I chose a pair of Christmas ones that I’m not particularly fond of so I wouldn’t care if they got mucky. They have little bells around the cuff, which dig into my legs if I cross them. (Tuesday I let EJ remove the bells to use in a project.) The slippers were successful! Whew! I felt a bit like the people in the story of Cinderella trying on the glass slippers. Or maybe Goldilocks trying various items until she found the ones that were just right.

The most frustrating thing has been looking out the window and seeing my herb garden. I don’t want my herbs to go to seed before I get out there to harvest them. I want to dry enough of them to last the winter. Every day I have thought, “Today I am going to harvest some herbs,” but every day I say, “Nope. Not today!” But yesterday I decided that I was absolutely going to get out to the herb garden, which is just next to the deck so it’s not as if I have to take a lot of steps to get to them. The real effort is that harvesting them requires more time on my feet. The best time to harvest herbs is in the morning, but we have had heavy dew that would have totally soaked my slippers so I had to wait until the afternoon after EJ went to work. I harvested four different types of herbs. I brought them into the house and rested my foot while I sat on the couch and removed the leaves from their stems. Then I put the herbs on the trays and into the dehydrator in the hallway.

I feel better now that I could get out to my herb garden.

And Then THIS Happened

So…I’ve been very lazy about writing during the last month, although I wasn’t lazy in other areas of my life.

Interruption: Oh! Just as I began this post, I saw the Mama Deer emerge from the forest with her spotted fawn. I haven’t gotten many glimpses of them this summer so I am distracted as I watch them. They grazed close to the house, drawn by the berry bushes, tiger lilies, and the scent of apples. Hannah Joy is dozing next to me on the couch and I don’t dare move to try to get a good shot with my camera because if she sees them, she’ll bark and scare them away.

Ok, the deer have moved off. Now back to writing this post:

In the last couple of weeks, the Mama Raccoon began bringing her babies to the bird feeder to eat the seeds the birds left. I’ve counted four babies: Usually one is at the top of the post with Mama, one swings from the tilted tray feeder, and two are on the ground eating the seed the others spill. Most of the time they come during the night, but a few times they’ve arrived in the evening when I am still up. They are not upset that I stand right outside the window shining my flashlight at them. I love watching them!

EJ has worked hard on his garden this summer. He built new raised garden beds as well as fencing for the climbing beans and peas. We started calling his garden Farmville because it reminded me of the game that used to be popular at Facebook. We have a bountiful harvest of beans and peas, and I’ve been blanching and freezing them.

The only crop not doing well is the corn, which is sort of “meh” because our soil is too poor. It appears that the Raccoon family has eaten some of the few ears that did grow, making our harvest poor. EJ knows that I love corn-on-the-cob so he continues to experiment with how to grow it.

I’ve been harvesting my herbs every morning (until recently…I’ll get to that in a moment). After I harvest them, I prepare them for drying and put into my dehydrator. Hours later, when they are dry, I put them into jars for storage.

Overall, we’ve had a nice summer…and then THIS happened:

Last Wednesday evening I went out to secure the coop after counting the chickens to make sure they were all inside. I always shut them in at night to keep them safe from predators. Chickens often dig depressions in the ground to keep themselves cool on hot days. I didn’t see that they had dug one right in front of the coop doors so when I stepped out of the coop, I fell into it. It wasn’t deep, but it was unexpected and I hurt my foot quite badly. I made it into the house. Fortunately (for me anyway), EJ had stayed home from work because he was suffering from a migraine and he was able to help me. I’m really not sure how I injured my foot/ankle so badly by falling into such a shallow depression, but I did! I guess I’m skilled that way.

I didn’t want to go to the hospital because, frankly, over the last year I’ve become disgusted by the medical profession, which has seemed to care more about profits and agenda than patient care. We don’t think I broke my foot but I figured I could do the very same things for my foot that I had done when I broke my hand a few years ago. I elevated my foot, iced it, took Ibuprofen, and wrapped it. I also have an ankle brace that I will use soon for support.

My foot/ankle swelled up like the foil on Jiffy-Pop Popcorn and it turned beautiful shades of color. I couldn’t walk that evening or the next day, which made necessary movements–like going to the bathroom–problematic. But I solved that by moving around on our wheeled office chair. Hannah Joy kept close to me, sometimes looking concerned and other times grinning as if she thought me moving around on a wheeled chair was a game.

Each day the swelling has grown less and by Saturday I could put some weight on my foot. On Sunday I put away the office chair and started using a cane. EJ took over my chores for me, although I’m doing as much as I can. I have volunteer to prepare the beans and peas EJ brings because I can do it sitting down–and then EJ takes over the blanching/freezing process.

I had been concerned about how I would shut the chickens in their coop in the evenings when EJ returned to work, but last night I was able to hobble out to the coop. So we are able to manage. One of the most frustrating things is that I cannot get out to my herb garden. I don’t ask EJ to harvest my herbs because he has enough to do with taking over my extra chores. My goal is to make it out there…

There’s A Hole In My Bucket

The weather has been perfect lately. Not too hot and not too cold–but cool enough that I am comfortable wearing jeans and even a sweatshirt. I love jeans and sweatshirt weather.

We’ve had a very dry year so far but we got a bit of rain a few days ago. Ironically, it rained on the summer solstice, the day with the most hours of sunlight in the year. However, it was so darkly cloudy that it felt as if we were living in a day of twilight. Oh, well. That’s life in Michigan. We have a lot of cloudy days because of the Great Lakes. And at least we had rain. Beginning today, we are supposed to have several days of rain, although the chances of rain keep decreasing everything I look at the weather report. The forecast went from an 80% chance of rain to 40%. I’m mentally encouraging the rain clouds to make it here.

As I wrote in my last post, Theo, our sweet dunderheaded cat, kept climbing the post where the bluebird’s house is. Despite the bluebird parents attacking him from the air and me with the garden house, he refused to surrender so I locked him the garage for a few days. After three–maybe four–days, I saw that there was no activity at the birdhouse. The babies had grown up and flown away. So I let Theo out. He checked out the birdhouse a couple times and then lost interest.

We have a raccoon who visits our feeder every evening. She’s very fat so I think she is either a Mama–or soon will be. It’s rather interesting to see her with her little bandit mask, although most of the time I can only tell that she’s been there in the morning when I find the tray feeder tilted and empty.

I don’t mind too much if the raccoon eats the leftover birdseed since I don’t put out a lot. I did mind when she started drinking the sugar water from the hummingbird feeders. I don’t want to use up all my sugar making more nectar each day. After a couple days of problem-solving thought, I started putting the hummingbird feeders in a large cooler at night, which I keep on the deck. The raccoon has left them alone. But now the raccoon is going after another food source.

We have always kept the wildbird seed in a large plastic trash can with a locking lid. We kept it in the pantry, but every summer we have a problem with little moths. When I saw a couple of them fly out of the seed trash can, I thought, “Ah ha! That’s the food source for the moths!” Either the moths are getting into the cans when I open it to get seed out for the birds or the larvae are coming in the sacks from the store. So I put the seed trash can out on the front porch a couple of weeks ago. With the locking lid, I figured it would be safe from critters. Apparently not.

This morning I found a large hole in the lid of the bird seed can. The critter–which I assume is the greedy raccoon–couldn’t open the locking lid so it started chewing through the lid, making it useless for a seed storage container. EJ can use it for a trash can in the garage. I scooped the seed into empty kitty litter buckets and put them…out of the pantry, off the porch, and in the garage, where I hope they will be safe from critters.

As I scooped the seed into the kitty litter buckets, I found myself humming a cute song that I haven’t thought of in years and years. I used to sing it all the time as a child. It’s called “There’s A Hole In My Bucket.” I actually found it on Youtube. It has a catchy tune and I suspect I will be humming it all day…and if you watch the video, maybe you will too?



The Sentinels

Last week we had some very hot days that drained me of energy and motivation. Days like that make me wonder why people in the warmer climates believe that their weather is heavenly. It feels hellish to me. But…to each their own.

This week it feels as if God had mercy on me and switched on an air conditioner. The weather is perfect: in the 40s at night and climbing only into the low 70s during the day. (That’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius.) This morning when I went out to do my chores, it was so chilly that I could see my breath whenever I exhaled. It looked like tendrils of smoke from a Dragon–which is what I used to pretend on cold days when I was a child. “Look! I’m a dragon! Puff, puff, puff.” During the day, the breeze makes it cool enough that it’s not uncomfortable to wear a sweater, which makes working outside pleasant. I wouldn’t mind if every day were like this.

EJ usually spends most of the morning working in his garden. It’s really looking nice. It will look even more splendiferous when the peas start climbing up the fencing he has put up. Whenever I go through his garden, I think it looks like Farmville, the game that was popular on Facebook several years ago. In between working on the garden, EJ has also been making trim for a little cat door from the hall into the pantry, where the kitty litter boxes are. It’s going to look nice when it is finished.

I’m doing all my regular daily chores, and other tasks here and there. I’ve weeded my herb garden and have been harvesting some of the herbs, which I’m drying in my Magic Mills dehydrator for winter use.

Earlier in the week we got medical bills for when EJ cut his thumb at work and had to go to the clinic for stitches. My heart sank because the bills totalled more than $600. That is WITH the deductions that insurance is paying. We try very hard to be frugal, buying most items secondhand, and it gets tiring to have to be even more frugal. I asked God to please help us pay off this bill. EJ took the bills into work to talk to the office staff. He felt that Workers’ Compensation should pay for it all since he had injured himself at work. I was so very, very thankful that, indeed, Workers’ Comp will pay for it all. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Three mornings in a row I found our two hummingbird feeders completely empty. Once I found one of the feeders halfway across the deck. I strongly suspected the raccoon. I don’t mind too much if she eats the leftover birdseed, but I DO mind if she drinks all the hummingbird “nectar.” I thought about it. I couldn’t just bring the feeders into the house because it would attract ants. Finally, I brought a large cooler out on the deck and I put the feeders in it when it starts to get dark in the evenings. I can’t put them away too soon because the hummingbirds hover in disbelief that it’s gone…and I feel bad for them. My measures have worked and the coon hasn’t drained the feeders since.

A couple of evenings ago, as I was taking down our flag from the pole, I heard a chorus of little chirps from the bluebird house. The babies! I only got a quick glimpse of them because they hunkered out of sight as soon as they saw that I wasn’t their Mama or Daddy. It’s so much fun watching the bluebirds building their nest and then bringing their hatched babies food.

Our dunderheaded cat, Theo, must have heard the bluebird babies as well because yesterday afternoon he became very interested in the birdhouse. Several times he climb up the post to get to the birdhouse, with the parents screeching and diving at him. I pulled him down each time and finally shut him in the garage. When I went out to take down the flag an hour or so later, the parents were nearby, watchful sentinels, keeping a close watch on their nest. I thought it was very poetical when the red, white, and blue bird kept watch on the top of the pole which held our red, white, and blue flag. “I hope you know that I am on YOUR side and helping you defend your family from all predators,” I told the bluebirds. “We are in this together.”

This morning, I changed my routine and let the cats out of the garage LAST, after I had finished all my other chores. Last night I had put the nozzle on the hose instead of the sprinkler. I was ready for battle. As I suspected, Theo immediately headed over to the birdhouse. As soon as he neared the post, the bluebirds started diving at him and I sprayed him with the house. I was able to keep my distance and still reach him with the stream of water. Theo ran off. The bluebirds and I were watchful. Theo returned again, and the bluebirds engaged in an aerial assault and me with water. Theo ran off. He tried slinking on the other side of the big rocks, but I caught a glimpse of him. He climbed over the rocks. He came in from the side. Each time, the bluebirds and I were ready. I thought Theo would learn, but he is an incredibly stubborn dunderhead. We kept this up for about 2 hours, with Theo returning every few minutes. Finally, I thought, “This is impossible.” I decided that the bluebirds were busy enough trying to keep their young fed. They don’t need to also keep up a constant defense. I carried Theo into the garage. He may be locked up until the bluebird babies have left the nest.

As much as possible, I’ve been keeping my distance from the bluebirds so they don’t view me as a threat.

Red Flag Warning

It seems to me that Spring always drags her feet, teasing us with glimpses of warmer weather and yanking it away. Then Summer races in out of nowhere and settles down with hot temperatures before we’ve really gotten used to going without wearing jackets.

Over the weekend, the US National Weather Service for our area issued “Red Flag Warnings.” I’ve never heard of such warnings before, but apparently it means that our hot temperatures (low to mid-90s), winds (10-15 mph with gusts of 25 mph), and little rainfall resulted in a high risk of wildfires. We didn’t have much snow during the winter, and we haven’t had much rain this Spring/Summer so everything is extremely dry. Our grass is turning yellow like straw in some places. We’ve had to water our gardens everyday. We set up an additional garden hose today so we can also water my rose garden near the house, and the fruit trees and berry bushes.

To help out the wild critters during this hot, dry weather, I’ve put bowls of water around–one in my herb garden, one on the large rock, and the bird bath hanging from the bird feeder post. I put a rock in each bowl so the bees don’t drown if they try to drink from it.

I haven’t seen the Mama deer and her baby since I wrote about them in my last post. However, I did see a very fat raccoon climb the feeder post to eat the leftover birdseed. I suspect she is pregnant. I stood at the window, just a few feet from her, shining a flashlight at her and she was completely unperturbed. I don’t see her often, but I know she visits the feeder every night because I find the tray tilted every morning.

I’ve already been able to harvest some of my herbs. In the Summer I cook with fresh herbs, but I also dry some to use in the Winter. The dehydrator generates a lot of heat, which is unpleasant on hot summer days, so I’m glad we moved it into the hallway a couple of weeks ago. Our hallway and pantry were added on some time after the house was built, connecting the house to the garage. The addition is unheated, but there is a door from the kitchen into the hallway.

EJ has been working hard in his garden. He has put in a lot of fencing for beans and peas to climb. He planted a lot of beans and peas this year; we hope to grow enough to last us the year. Once they are ready for harvest, I will be very busy. He’s also trying to grow a patch of corn. He also planted some bell and hot peppers, which I will freeze or dry, and a few tomato plants. He’s also planted some cucumbers, zucchini, and I don’t know what else.

A few years ago I fell on snow-covered ice in the driveway. I broke my left wrist and had to have a metal plate put in. My wrist has been aching for the last week or so and I hope that I haven’t reinjured it. I can think of several possible activities that could have caused my wrist to hurt–moving heavy garden boxes and and planters, crocheting too much…I’ve been taking Ibuprofen, icing my arm, and wearing a removable cast that I was given when I broke my wrist. I actually had several different casts, this was one I could take off to do physical therapy. I saved it, and it’s coming in handy now by supporting my wrist. I’m also trying to not do tasks that put a strain on my wrist, which is hard because there is so much to do at this time of year. Still…I think my efforts are working and my wrist is getting a little better every day.

Besides working in our gardens this weekend, we drove to Petoskey to pick up a kitchen island/cart that we bought on FB Marketplace. We buy almost everything secondhand from FB Marketplace, thrift stores, or garage sales. It saves us a tremendous amount of money. We have been looking for a small island/cart for several months because we really don’t have enough counter space, especially if we are both working in the kitchen at the same time. This island/cart is small enough to fit in the kitchen, and it is on wheels so we can move it wherever we need it.

The drive to Petoskey is very pretty. We took Hannah Joy with us because she doesn’t like being left home alone and usually gets in to things when we don’t take her. We have a seatbelt for her that buckles into her harness, but she always stretches as far as she can so she is sitting between us. Sometimes the seatbelt comes loose…which it did on the drive home. Then she crawled happily up to the front to sit in my lap. She’s very protective of us around strangers, but she is the cuddliest dog we’ve ever had.

Mama Mia!

This morning EJ and I were sitting in the living room, enjoying our coffee, when I suddenly exclaimed, “OH! MY! GOODNESS! I see a deer on the hill with her little fawn!” We quickly called Hannah Joy into the bedroom and shut the door so she wouldn’t bark and scare them away and then we stood and watched. The way the Mama was licking her very tiny fawn made us believe that it had been born just a few minutes before.

I took several videos. The videos are quite shaky because I zoomed in. Sorry.

The baby nursed a bit and then carefully crept down the slope and hid in the grass. The Mama trotted large protective circles around the hidden fawn, stomping warnings. Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Then she suddenly dashed after a small animal that streaked away. I’m quite sure it was one of our cats. Probably Theo. Whatever the critter was, it escaped safely and Mama Deer returned to her fawn.

A few moments later, another deer appeared on the scene. I thought, “Uh, oh. There going to be trouble!” However, Mama didn’t appear very upset at the new arrival so we think it might have been her yearling.

Mama started down the driveway and the fawn got up and joined her. We watched until they disappeared from view.

A few minutes later, a lone female turkey wandered into the yard. No doubt she has a nest nearby. Probably in July or August we will see a flock of little turkeys following their Mama across the yard.

What an awesome start to the day! I love living in our Enchanted Forest!

Undercover

Michigan tricked me again. I know our weather is extremely fickle so I try not to quickly believe warm weather has arrived to stay. We had snow flurries in early May, but that’s not surprising to me. Two weeks ago, we had freeze warnings. Ok. Fine. I know we typically can have freezes until mid-May. We have a 10% chance of frost until June 13 or so but when temperatures reached the low 80s (F) last week, we thought we were safe so we planted our gardens AND I took most of the blankets off our bed because it was too hot at night with them on.

Ha! Michigan is as bad as Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic. We’ve had freeze warnings the last two nights and we are expecting another freeze tonight as temperatures dip into the low 30s. EJ and I have been putting our tender garden plants undercover each evening, and we’ve put the extra blankets back on the bed to cover up ourselves at night. I’ve gone back to wearing my chore coat when I go outside because “Brrr!” We’ve turned the space heater on to take the chill off in the house–but we’ve NOT turned the furnace back on as a statement of resistance. Michigan is tricky but will not totally break us.

When we moved into our house–almost SIX YEARS now!–we turned our extra bedroom into our library. All the walls are lined with shelves filled with books, except for where our desk is. We even have books on shelves that hang over the entrance and closet doors. Despite all our shelves, we still have books double shelved. We like books. Yesterday EJ and I sorted through the books and discarded a few that we have extra copies of or which we no longer want. By “discarded” I mean that we put them in boxes to donate. EJ has gone to buy a few more bean seeds and he will drop the books off at Goodwill as well.

Turkeys are usually very inexpensive at Thanksgiving in November so we always buy two or three. One we cook for Thanksgiving and the others we freeze for later in the year. EJ is cooking the last of our turkeys today. We will eat some of it today and I will turn the rest of it into turkey potpies on Sunday. I always make up several and freeze them, and then we bake one on days when we are busy and/or don’t feel like cooking. Potpies are one of my favorite meals.

Baking in the oven helps warm up the house when Michigan is cold. We can be tricky too.

The Cashier’s Note

We jumped from overnight freezes right into hot summery weather, from warm jackets into shorts and t-shirts. It looks as if by the end of the week, we will be back into cool temps and warm jackets. Gotta love Michigan–which, actually, I do. Love Michigan, I mean. EJ says that I am “Michi-centric.”

We’ve spent the last week busily working in our gardens. I got my raised herb garden in the front yard and planted. EJ has planted many of his veggies in his backyard garden. He is currently setting up fences and poles for his peas and beans to climb.

During the weekend, when he wasn’t working in his garden, EJ went grocery shopping. I usually pay the bills because I have more time and I know how much money we have in our accounts. Before he leaves to go shopping, he usually asks me how much money is available to spend. This last shopping trip, he went over quite a bit. The first thing he did when he arrived home was hand me a note, which he said was from the cashier. It is pictured at the top of this post. It said:

Please forgive your husband
for going over on his shopping bill!!
He is worried!!! Give him Big Hugs!!

I thought the note was hilarious. I don’t think EJ was all THAT worried and, of course, I didn’t yell at him. Most of the time he does extremely well at keeping within the budget when he shops. Oh, and we did give each other big hugs.

While EJ was shopping. I cut up a bunch of apples and froze them. EJ has sort of an informal arrangement with a guy at work. He gives the guy some of our eggs and the guy gives us a variety of items such as potatoes, onions, and apples. It works out well. It helps cut down on our grocery expenses.

After we got the groceries put away, EJ made homemade peanut butter in the food processor and also homemade bread. It’s simple making bread now that we have a bread machine. EJ puts all the ingredients in the machine, turns it on, and then goes off and does something else.

I also did laundry and mowed the lawn. This time I mowed under the clothesline in anticipation of being able to hang the clothes out to dry–which may not be as soon as I thought if the temps get cooler again.

Yesterday–or maybe the day before–Hannah Joy suddenly ran into the extra bedroom barking loudly. I went into the bedroom, trying to see what she saw. A lot of times she sees–or smells–things that we don’t so we don’t have any idea what she is barking at. However, this time I saw a deer standing just inside the forest. Then I saw Theo, our cat, creeping up towards the deer. I called to EJ, “Theo is stalking a deer!” Not a good idea. Theo is sweet, but such a dunderhead. We watched as Theo crept closer and closer, finally disappearing into the forest. The deer stomped its foot a time or two and then ran off.

I just heard geese honking. I ran outside and watched several groups of them fly overhead. The setting sun shone on them and turned them golden. This is the second large flock of geese I have watched fly over us in the last few days. We love watching the geese.

The trees are all beautifully green now. They hide us from our neighbors, making me feel as if I live in a secret enchanted forest.

Urgent Gardening

I am exhausted and groaning a bit from overwork.

We went from overnight freezes and daytime temperatures reaching only to 40-50 degrees (F) to the mid-70s. The forecast calls for steadily rising temperatures reaching the low 80s by the end of the week. So we went from too chilly to work outside to an urgent “Oh, crap! We’ve got to get the garden planted!”

Friday morning EJ woke up early and we drove to the Farmer’s Market at a nearby town to pick up the plants I had ordered from the co-op. He had signed up for some overtime at work so when we got back home he took a nap while I finished rearranging the garden boxes in the front yard and got most of my herbs planted. We need to buy more dirt so I can fill and plant the remaining three boxes.

We rested on Saturday (Shabbat) and on Sunday I mowed the lawn. The local plant nursery was having a tremendous sale on fruit trees, so EJ drove there and bought two cherry trees. He also bought a spearmint and peppermint plants I had asked him to get. I will plant them as soon as we get the dirt. Somehow, two berry bushes and two bags of seed potatoes snuck into his cart when he wasn’t looking. We will have to be careful until next pay day, but prices have increased drastically in the last few months so we are trying to buy items when they are on sale.

EJ planted his trees and put fencing around them so the deer don’t eat them. He also planted his berry bushes inside the garden fence–I think to make them less attractive to bears? Meanwhile, I started rearranging the garden boxes in his garden, while checking with him about how he wanted them placed. This year EJ decided to place the boxes along the back fence of the garden where they take up less room. He said this is the last year we will move the boxes because it’s actually a lot of work: I have to move the pallets to where the boxes will go. I usually put one pallet on top of another to make them higher. I shovel the dirt out of a garden box into the wheelbarrow. I move the empty box on top of the pallets. Then I shovel the dirt back into the box. Then I start on another box.

This morning I was out in the garden at about 7 am to finish rearranging the boxes. I try to do as much of it as possible because I don’t want EJ to aggravate his chronic back problems–also, he still has a 10 hour day of work ahead of him. Besides, the boxes are all shapes and sizes, and I am really good at “tetris-ing” the boxes so they fit well together without much wasted space. Of course, once he got up, he helped me move some of the larger boxes. When he’s not around, I lift the large boxes and “walk” them to where they go.

I reached my goal of getting all the boxes arranged today. I figured that the sooner I got the boxes moved, the sooner EJ could start planting. He was able to get some of his veggies planted. It was pleasant working in the pleasant coolness of the morning. The rest of the week is supposed to be warmer, and it’s uncomfortable working when it’s hot.

I was going to call it quits after working in the garden, but I figured, “Hey, I’m already really dirty” so I cleaned out the coop a little. The chickens sleep on straw bales that I put on top of the small coops that are inside the large coop. Over time, the bales get a hard crust of dried poop on them. I dragged those bales out into the garden. EJ can use them to help fertilize his garden if he wants. I replaced the bales with cleaner bales that had been tucked away and not pooped on. They had been blocking the second little chicken door. I wanted to be able to open it so there is cross ventilation on hot days. I raked out some old loose straw from the floor. I should rake out the straw from inside the smaller coops, but I had used up all my energy. It will have to wait for another day.

Now that we are planting, the chickens aren’t allowed in the garden. They still have a generous outdoor pen to frolic in; it’s just not as huge as the garden. It’s just as well that they are restricted to their pen. The cats found a hole in the garden fence a year or two ago which allows them to come and go. The chickens finally noticed it this year and a few of them have been escape into the wide, wide world. We have coyotes and other predators so it’s really not good for them to get out. Fortunately, chickens like to be with their flock so it’s quite easy to guide them back into the garden. I blocked the hole so they couldn’t escape, but now that they are shut out of the garden, I unblocked it so the cats can get in and out.

After I finished cleaning the coop, I went inside and took a shower. I decided to wash my filthy clothes. I sorted through the laundry basket to get clothes to wash with them. That kind of morphed into doing several loads and washing ALL the clothes. At least I can sit down while they are in the washing and drier. Soon I will be drying the clothes on the clothesline, but by the time I finished working it was too late and I was too tired to do it.

After I rested a bit, I took Hannah Joy for a walk to the mailbox for our mail. I was tired and my feet hurt but the day was beautiful and I felt she deserved a walk. She loved it. So did I.

Listen, Daughter

My Mom died in November 2020. Ten days later one of my sisters contacted me on FB to inform me of our Mom’s death. The way in which she told me was harsh, accusatory, and dripping with guilt. After I read her message, I blocked my sister. She was the only one in my family that I hadn’t blocked because I didn’t think she was on FB.

At the time, I only told a very few very close friends about my Mom’s death because I didn’t want to deal with all the condolences from people who didn’t know about my family. I didn’t know if I should pretend my Mom and I had a good relationship or say nothing about its badness? How could I explain that I had grieved for years and years over the loss of our relationship and that I was pretty much all grieved out at this point? So I said nothing.

I don’t want to wade into the details of my dysfunctional family–that would take thousands of pages, probably, and still not convey the story. People who have loving families will not comprehend the damaging toxicity of an emotionally abusive family no matter how much a survivor tries to explain. They will assume that all problems are “petty” and that all a person has to do is love and forgive enough and everything will be resolved. (Not true.) People who do understand abuse will understand without being told details. But I will try to write a brief sketch:

I grew up thinking that I had a loving family. I loved them all deeply. I was always very close to my Mom and was always there to help her and Dad. My Mom praised me for being a wonderful daughter. That is, until I got engaged to EJ in my mid-twenties. Suddenly, without warning, my Mom became extremely demanding and critical. When I tried to set healthy boundaries, to explain, to defend myself, she became enraged and began lying about me. She turned the family against me. Overnight I went from a “loving daughter” to “a daughter from Hell–the worst daughter a mother could have” and other such things. It was horrid and I was totally confused. I didn’t understand what was happening–or why.

That was when I began to educate myself about emotional abuse. At first, I had no help except for a few books here and there. I sought counseling from a few mentors/pastors but they always advised me to love my Mom more because she was just wounded. I didn’t “not love” my Mom. I sensed that this wasn’t about love or woundedness but was an intense power battle–that my Mom was trying to make me submit to her control and to place herself as the head of my marriage. Eventually, I found information about abuse on the internet from survivors. I learned about the behavior and tactics of abusers, I learned how they tend to gather around them people who support, enable, and defend them, and I learned about the damage their abuse causes their victims. I learned that emotional abusers are so manipulative that the ONLY way to be free of their abuse is to have no contact. I learned a LOT. My family has all the characteristics and my eyes were finally opened to the covert emotional abuse that had always existed in my family.

I grieved for many years for my family. Not for what we were as much as for what we could have been. I think we had the potential to have been a close loving family. In fact, some of us siblings were once very close friends. However, as abusers commonly do, our Mom covertly manipulated us, stirring up resentment, jealousy, or fear, and turning us against each other. My Mom reminded me of Proverbs 16:28: “A whisperer separates close friends.”

I tried for years and years to reconcile with my Mom without sacrificing my ability to make my own choices as an adult. Finally, when she said that she considered all my efforts to reconcile to be “less than a drop in a teacup” and she would never forgive me (for my lack of submission?), I recognized that there was nothing more that I could do. I accepted her final rejection and I walked away. My Mom, my family, caused so much turmoil that it was hurting me and my own little family. I struggled with PTSD symptoms.

None of my other siblings have freed themselves from the abuse. At one time or another, my Mom cut off relationships with four of her six children, at least for a while. When it first happened to me, I reached out to siblings who had been outcast before me. I thought we could be friends, and I thought we were for a while, but I was the only one who made any effort to maintain a friendship and they never let go of their childhood resentments. They have spent their whole lives trying to gain our Mom’s love and approval, and even though they had suffered rejection, when I walked away, they turned on me and defended our Mom. This, also, is typical behavior of abusive families. The one who tells the truth, the one who doesn’t submit, is vilified and becomes a scapegoat.

When EJ and I (with our son) moved to Northern Michigan, I didn’t notify my family. I saw how toxic, how damaging, my family was and I needed to be free of it. Since we moved north, EJ and I have been working on recovery and healing for ourselves–and we are gradually finding it.

A month or so ago, I found out in a roundabout way that my family was trying to contact me in regards to our Mom’s Will. I didn’t respond because I saw (from my sister’s message about Mom’s death) that they hadn’t changed and I really didn’t want the turmoil of reconnection. Besides, I was absolutely certain that I had been disinherited. If I had been left anything at all, I knew it wouldn’t be loving. Or nice. Either it would be a tiny amount to make me feel unvalued or it would be a nasty letter. I’m uninterested in an inheritance and would rather have peace and joy.

I felt a bit of stress at the thought of being contacted by my family because contact means being dragged back into the abuse so I asked God that if it was legally required that I be contacted regarding the Will to please let me be contacted by a lawyer and let it be over and done with quickly. In today’s mail was a copy of the Will sent to me by a lawyer. I glanced at it briefly, saw in a letter placed on top of the Will that I was indeed “disinherited.” I didn’t read the rest. I won’t read the rest. To me, reading the Will would like letting them all stab me in the heart again.

I felt a trifle punched in the gut by the rejection/lack of love from them all, but not tremendously so and it is quickly fading. Years ago, my parents planned to disinherit one of my sisters. Or, rather, they actually discussed leaving her only one dollar to symbolize how little they valued her. When I considered a few years later that they would probably do the same to me, I asked God, “Do I have so little value to them, so little worth?” The worthlessness that their “disinheritance” symbolized is what bothered me. And then I realized that God loves me so much and places such high value on me that He gave His Son for me. Also, 1 Peter 1:4 says that God has given me “an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for you in heaven.” I am loved, valued, and have an incredible inheritance. Nothing can beat that. I was comforted.

Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me. (Ps 27:10)

For the record, I do not hate my family. I often pray that God will heal them/us so that the dysfunction does not damage future generations. But our relationships have been so destroyed and there would be so much “baggage” to sort through that I don’t think it’s possible to restore any relationships. I want a good life for them and a good life for me–separately. I actually feel a sense of relief because I’ve received the will, I don’t have to dread contact from my siblings, and I can get on with life.

In closing, I would like to share an incredibly unique poem by Shiva Sai Teja. I have read it several times in the past, and it just recently reappeared in my FB timeline. When you read each line of the poem, as you normally would, from the top to the bottom, it says one thing. When you then read the poem in reverse, reading each line from the bottom to the top, it has a completely different message. I feel the first way–top to bottom–describes how abusers make their victims feel about themselves. Reading in reverse is what a victim must re-learn as she strives for recovery and healing. This poem always, always brings tears to my eyes.

Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
    Forget your people and your father’s house.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
    honor him, for he is your lord. (Ps 45:10-11)

Garden Tetris

The weather has been a bit chilly, with temps only reaching the 40s to mid-50s (F) during the day and dipping into the 30s at night. For the last week, the National Weather Service has issued frost warnings for our area–and we are still getting snow flurries now and then. One frosty morning I saw all the grass edged in beautiful white frost. I’ve read that typically we can get frost in our area until mid-May and there’s a slight chance of frost into June. Not long after I’m finally convinced that “Wow! Summer is here!” then it’s the summer solstice and the days begin to shorten again.

Mostly it feels too chilly to enjoy working outside, although we do occasionally get a warm-ish day. Last week I discovered a local Farmer’s Market co-op on the Internet so we ordered a few herb and vegetable plants from them. Other states have been opening up but Michigan’s governor has kept us in draconian lockdowns, which have really hurt small businesses in our state. We’d like to try to help them out by buying from from them rather than bigger chains. We picked up our order on Saturday. Different plants are available at different times so I put in another plant order that we will pick up this Friday. Because it’s still too cold to put fragile plants outside, we have been putting them out on the patio table during the day and bringing them in at night. A few of the garden boxes have plants that have returned from last year so I’ve been covering them up at night.

An ice cream shop was next to the place where we picked up our plants so after putting the plants in the truck, EJ went over and bought us ice cream. He got Hannah Joy a small dog-cone. I think it’s likely that it’s the first cone she’s ever had. She went wild and chomped-chomped-chomped it down like pacman gobbling dots in the old video game. It was gone in seconds. She liked the ice cream so much that it was an effort to keep her from gobbling our ice cream as well. I predict that there will be more cones in her future.

Sunday we ordered some dog and cat food from the farm store online, and then drove to pick it up when they texted that it was ready. The farm store is about an hour away so we usually order several items at a time to make it worth the trip. I suspect the price of pet food will rise so we would like to get ahead while it’s still relatively inexpensive. The drive is beautiful so we don’t mind the distance.

Before we left for the farm store, EJ got bread going in his new bread machine. I told him that I bought him the bread machine for his Mother’s Day gift. Ha Ha. Actually, I bought it for him because he likes to make bread but he is finding that kneading the dough is becoming difficult on his hands–and mine as well. We try to live frugally and we buy a lot of items second-hand, but I invested in a new bread machine to make sure it worked and had its instruction booklet with it. For several months in 2020 it was difficult to find certain foods, such as bread, in the grocery stores so we would prefer to have the ability to make our own bread. Plus, when we make our own, we know what ingredients are in it.

After we got back home from the farm store, EJ went out in the garage to work on our “new” riding lawn mower. It had belonged to EJ’s friend’s Dad, who died last year. Since EJ’s friend didn’t need it, he gave it to us. Free! He dropped it off a week or so ago. There is a problem with the front end, which EJ is working on. Hopefully, he can fix it because it sure would make mowing the lawn much easier than using the push mower. I usually get overheated and red-faced mowing the lawn with the push mower, and I always have to take several breaks to cool off. The riding mower also has a snowblower attachment, which is awesome.

EJ plans to reconfigure the raised garden beds and he said that I can have a few of the garden boxes that he doesn’t plan to use. EJ is responsible for growing vegetables in the main garden in the back yard, while I grow herbs in the front yard. While EJ worked on the riding lawnmower, I shoveled dirt out of “my” new boxes into the wheelbarrow, moved it and the emptied boxes to my herb garden in the front yard, then shoveled the dirt from the wheelbarrow back into the boxes. The chickens “helped” by getting in each box while I was trying to remove its dirt and getting in the wheelbarrow that I was trying to put the dirt in, and then getting in the way while I tried to move the heavy boxes out of the back yard garden. Chickens are very curious and like to hang out with me. I think they are sweet.

The garden boxes are all different sizes so I felt as if I was playing a sort of “garden tetris” as I positioned them in places where they fit in my herb garden. I’m not sure which herbs I will plant in which box, but I will figure it out when it’s time for planting.

Some migratory birds are returning to the area. Over the weekend, we saw bluebirds checking out the birdhouses we have set out for them. A female rose-breasted grosbeak visited the feeder and we briefly saw a Baltimore oriole. This morning I saw a hummingbird hovering near the feeders so I quickly got out and washed the hummingbird feeders and mixed up some nectar. As soon as the nectar cooled, I filled a feeder and hung it up for them. Hmmmm. I wonder what hummingbirds eat when they arrive before the flowers bloom?

Last Thursday EJ stopped in at the hospital to get the stitches removed from his thumb, which he had sliced open when he brushed metal chips from the machine at work. It turns out that his thumb is infected. They suspected that a metal chip might still be in his thumb so they gave him an X-ray, prescribed an antibiotic, and told him to call the hand doctor. He called today and made an appointment for Wednesday. I certainly hope that he just has an easily healed infection and not a chip that will require surgery to remove.

The Fridge

Fridays are usually our day to run errands–or to get tasks done at home. Today EJ ran a lot of errands while I worked at home.

First thing this morning EJ went into town to buy a refrigerator. I had been looking for a small refrigerator for my eggs for several years. The eggs tend to accumulate faster than we can sell them–and they start taking over space in our regular fridge. We didn’t want to pay very much money so we looked for a secondhand one. We didn’t want a fridge that was too big because we don’t have much space for a second fridge–and also transporting it home would be a problem. But we didn’t want one that was so small that it couldn’t hold many eggs. We looked and looked and finally this week we found the perfect fridge on Facebook Marketplace. It was large enough to hold dozens of eggs, but small enough to fit in the hallway. It also was very inexpensive. Yay! Our search is over!

EJ took several bags of our household garbage to the waste facility. We don’t accumulate much garbage so we have discovered that it’s much cheaper to drop off the bags every few weeks rather than have curbside service. The facility isn’t that far away so it doesn’t take much time.

EJ also went to the store to pick up groceries. Actually, he is there now, as I write this post. Since the Lockdowns started a year ago, he designated himself our family grocery shopper. When he gets home, I will go out and bring in one load, but then I have to stay inside to keep Hannah Joy from getting into the bags so EJ will bring in the rest while I put everything away.

While EJ was running errands, I stayed home and cleaned the house. First, I made room in the hallway for the new fridge. Then I cleaned the house, filed papers, made more homemade shower cleaner.

Tomorrow is our Township’s annual “Clean-up Day”–a day when residents can take household rubbish, building materials, furniture, appliances, etc., to the waste facility for free. EJ is going to take in a load in the morning. We have an old printer we need to get rid of, a nonworking vacuum, and a few other items we need to get rid of.

Whatchagot Chili

Monday I made Chili for lunch. Whenever I make Chili, we always have more than we can eat so I always have a lot of leftover chili for the next day’s meal. Sometimes I have too little leftover for both of us, so I add more ingredients to stretch it. By adding a few more ingredients the next day and a few more ingredients the day after that, I can make a pot of chili last for several days–until finally there’s none left to save. The Chili ends up transmorphing from day-to-day into other dishes. For example, Monday I made my basic Chili. Tuesday EJ and I made Whatchagot (“what-you-got”) Chili, which means that we took out all the leftovers accumulated from several meals from the fridge and added them in. We added refried beans leftover from tacos, a fried hamburger-carrot mixure leftover from “Ohm Rice” (a dish my Korean sister-in-law taught us to make years ago), and leftover rice. Today we used the leftover Whatchagot Chili as a topping over spaghetti. When we turn chili into spaghetti sauce, I call the meal “Chil-ghetti.”

This is a good time to tell you that EJ is a wizard at turning leftovers into amazing meals. His most epic Whatchagot Stew was years ago when he combined leftover chicken stir-fry and leftover Italian sausage spaghetti in a pot. He threw in a half eaten Burger King Whopper, one piece of strawberry shortcake, and half a piece of mincemeat pie. It sounds absolutely awful but it tasted incredible. We gobbled it down and wanted more. The thing about Whatchagot Stew is that it’s made entirely of “what you got” in the fridge at the moment so it can’t be duplicated. Since that meal, I’ve suspected EJ of using culinary magic, and when he begins to combine leftovers, I stand out of his way.

Poor EJ

Last night EJ was cleaning out his CNC machine at work when a piece of metal chip sliced open his left thumb. He went to the local hospital and they put in ten stitches. He returned to work after they were done patching him together but his thumb was throbbing so much that he ended up coming home early. He was told at the hospital not to use his thumb, to keep his bandage clean and dry, and to return in about ten days to have the stitches removed. Despite these restrictions, he is returning to work today. He talked to his boss and it sounds as if they are going to give him easy jobs that he can do one-handed.

Yesterday evening when EJ had settled in his chair, he asked what new things I had learned about the UK. The interesting thing about learning about a culture from a TV series is that you can pick up pieces of information that you wouldn’t learn from a documentary about the country. Yesterday I learned about various honors awarded in the UK to recognize achievements and service. I learned what a “bedsit” and an “HMO” are, and how they are different. I learned what an “identikit” is, as in “we were indentikit sisters.” I also learned what a “karzy” is. I thought a “karzy” would be a parking garage, but I learned that it is actually “a lavatory, toilet.” In looking up “karzy,” I found an interesting UK slang dictionary, which I added to my “Everything Links” page at the top of my blog. I look forward to exploring it.

My favorite phrase that a character used in an episode is “softly, softly, catchee monkey.” An online dictionary said it means “A slow and careful way of resolving an issue, typically when dealing with a deceptive or otherwise challenging person or thing.” Example: “Don’t you worry, we’ll lull that crook into a false sense of security and then trap him–softly, softly, catchee monkey.”

I think it’s interesting the USA, the UK, and Australia share a common language, but they have developed in different ways. Our languages are so similar that we can understand each other, yet some of our words are so different that in many ways it’s as if we are speaking different languages.

A Series of New Things

Spring has mostly arrived here in Northern Michigan. There is a haze of green on the opposite hill that becomes more pronounced every day as the leaves begin to grow on the trees. Dandelions are blooming, as well as daffodils and violets.

We were getting a bit low on poultry feed so a week ago I ordered eleven 50 lb bags–from our farm store’s website. I also ordered a kitty litter box for the chickens so they now have two. Their favorite nesting box is a litter box and they tend to get a little irritated when they go to lay their eggs and find the box already occupied. EJ also order boots; his current ones were falling apart. The store texted me when the order was ready. When we arrived at the store, employees loaded the items into the truck for us. It’s very convenient.

When we got back home, EJ unloaded the bags for me while I set up the new litter box next to tthe old one. Then I scooped the 550 lbs of feed into empty kitty litter buckets. Each bag fills about two buckets. The buckets keep the feed safe from mice and also stack on top of each other to save space. Fortunately, the day was a pleasantly cool 55 degrees so it was not too hot to work. Even so, I was tired by the time I got six of the bags emptied. I told myself that I would empty “just one more bag” and leave the rest for the next day. Five times I told myself “just one more bag” until I had all the bags emptied and all the buckets stacked in the coop. Then I went into the house and collapsed on the couch.

Our grass was growing a bit long so yesterday EJ got the mower started and I mowed the lawn, even though the temperatures were in the 40s. I only did the bit up near the house, where the grass was longer. While I mowed, EJ did other tasks.

When I opened the bedroom curtains this morning, I saw two deer in the back yard eating the grass on the other side of the garden fence. When I looked out the living room windows at the front of the house, I saw a male turkey strutting across the yard. I don’t like to scare away the wildlife–I love watching them–so I delayed doing my other chores for awhile. But I can’t wait forever so finally I went out to let the cats and chickens out of the coop. I always go through the garage into the garden/coop area. When I opened the garage door, one of the deer quickly looked up at me. I froze, and we started at each other for a minute or two. Finally, the deer and two others, moved off into the forest and I went out to open the coop and feed the animals. When I got back into the house, Hannah Joy needed out. As soon as we went outside, the turkey moved off into the forest.

I love living in our Enchanted Forest.

Later this morning it snowed hard enough to cover the ground like powered sugar, but it quickly melted. In the afternoon, the temperature warmed up just enough to rain. It is still raining. I can hear it tapping on the roof now as Hannah Joy dozes on my lap as I write this post. I’m balancing my keyboard on her back. LOL.

I have been watching a BBC series on my computer called “New Tricks.” It’s an enjoyable detective show with quirky characters. As I watched it, I found myself encountering uniquely United Kingdom terms and events that I didn’t recognize. I started muttering to myself, “What on earth does THAT mean?” so I began to pause the show and look stuff up. I’ve learned that “grassers” are police informants, that the charge of ABH and GBH means Actual Bodily Harm and Grievous Bodily Harm. I learned that a person who is a “QC” is a “Queen’s Counsel,” which refers to a set of barristers and solicitors who the monarch appoints to be a part of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law. I learned what a “Procurator Fiscal” is in Scotland. I learned about the history of United Kingdom money when I wondered how much a “quid” is. I learned the history of Epping Forest and looked up its location on Google Maps. I learned some very interesting facts about Gibraltar when the detectives went there to solve a case and spent some time “exploring” it on Google Maps. Sometimes the detectives mentioned a famous person or criminal that I suspected is real, so I looked them up and, yep, many of them are real. I found the “Murderpedia” website, which I’ve included on my Everything Links page, because I looked up some murderers that were mentioned. (In case you wonder: Monsters are real.) I am learning many new things. It’s almost more fun stopping to learn about the UK than watching the series’ actual storyline. I’ve always loved learning about differences in regions of my country or other countries of the world. EJ enjoys learning too so I always share what I am learning with him. He started getting interested in the series and now I’m re-watching it with him on the weekends. He often says to me, “Dang it! You got me interested in ANOTHER series.” LOL.

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