Country Living Series

Friday, July 31, 2020

A little night music

I stumbled across this video yesterday. Cracked me up.



(If the above video won't play, here's the direct YouTube link.)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The passing of a legend

I received an email today from Glenda Lehman Ervin, VP of Marketing at Lehman's, as follows: "Dad passed way Sunday at the age of 91. I thought you would want to know."

She was referring to Jay Lehman, founder of Lehman's non-electric store in Ohio.


I never met Mr. Lehman, but he was so well-loved that the store put up a life-sized cardboard cutout so fans could take a "photo" with him. I think that says something about a person's decency, don't you?


Some obituaries for his remarkable life can be read here and here.

Rest in peace, Mr. Lehman.

Ah, the little dramas of life...

This is our garden gate.


At the base of the gate, lying in the shade, is our mighty hunter barn cat.


At the top of the gate is a wary chipmunk.


Bottom of the gate, cat.


Top of the gate, chipmunk.


Any questions?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Someone has "issues"

In the tribute piece I put up bidding adieu to actress Olivia de Havilland, someone left a comment that was so unrelated, so hostile, so out-of-the blue "huh?" that I decided to post it separately:

"You baby boomers destroyed your own children's future, and then laughed about it and blamed it on them. Do you realize that you are going to end up in a retirement home where you are going to get treated like total trash, and abused? Your children won't be able to help you, even if they wanted to. Karma's a bitch, you boomer scum."

Huh?

What does this have to do with Olivia de Havilland? What does this have to do with me? I'm not a baby boomer.

I'd say someone has "issues." How very sad. I pray he or she can get some professional help and find some peace of mind.

Rest in peace, Olivia

I just found out legendary actress Olivia de Havilland passed away yesterday at the venerable age of 104.


She was best known, of course, for her role as the doe-eyed beauty Melanie Hamilton in "Gone With the Wind," though her acting career spanned decades (from 1935 all the way through 2009, in fact).


Rest in peace, Olivia.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Shopping trip

I took a shopping trip into the city last Monday. I was kinda on autopilot (I hate shopping), following the list in my hand without much thought as I made stops at my three usual places: Costco, Cash'n'Carry (now called Smart Food Service), and Winco.

At Costco, they had toilet paper (but not the Kirkland brand, my preferred choice). Also, I wanted to pick up two jugs of laundry detergent, but was limited to one. (Why, I don't know.) Needless to say, anti-bacterial wet wipes were out of the question.

It wasn't until I was at Cash'n'Carry (a wholesale restaurant-supply store), trying to find a jug of dish soap, that I snapped out of autopilot and realized there were a lot of empty shelves. A lot. Here are the big gaping holes where the dish soap normally is:


I also couldn't find a bulk bag of red lentils. After seeking the assistance of a store clerk -- and after he pointed out the empty shelf where the lentils would normally be -- I inquired why the store was so bare. "Well, we're expecting a shipment in tomorrow," he explained, then added, "but we're not getting everything we order."

This was confirmed by a different clerk, explaining to another customer that they're "lucky" to get in 75 percent of what they order.

So I went back through the store and photographed some of what I saw (or rather, didn't see). Sorry for the blurry photos, I was trying not to be too obvious with the camera.












Then I moved on to Winco, where most of my purchases were in the (fully stocked) bulk section. But, curious, I wandered by the meat department and saw this:




So there you go. That was my monthly shopping trip.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The life-changing magic of self-sufficiency

Here's my latest blog post with Lehman's, entitled "The life-changing magic of self-sufficiency."


Hop on over and take a look.

For the dinosaurs among us...

Here's a joke I found:

"I asked my daughter to give me the phone book. She laughed at me, called me a dinosaur and lent me her iPhone. The spider is dead, the iPhone is broken and my daughter is furious."

This is SO something I would do....

Saturday, July 18, 2020

A new career

Over a year ago -- in March of 2019, to be precise -- I wrote a lengthy blog post on a new chapter in my writing life: writing romance novels.

Yes, really. Okay, stop laughing. Here's what I wrote at the time:

"Over the years, I've sometimes put up blog posts documenting my progress with NaNoWriMo. This is an annual event, National Novel Writing Month, in which crazy people the world over engage in furiously pounding out a 50,000 word novel in one month.


I've participated in this endeavor more than half a dozen times, but surprisingly the one question no one has ever asked me is this: "What are you writing?"

Today, I've decided to 'fess up: I've been writing romance novels.

Yes really. Not the dirty nasty bodice-rippers, of course, but sweet romances, and sometimes inspirational (Christian) ones too.

This was something of a hobby all these years, but one I kept distinctly under wraps. That's because too often romances are lumped into one ginormous and sleazy group characterized by the afore-mentioned bodice rippers, which amount to little more than soft porn. Thankfully there's a much cleaner side to this industry, due to the demands of women who like a good love story but without the unsavory parts.

Writing romance takes a bit more skill than many people realize or appreciate. NaNoWriMo and other writing endeavors allowed me to hone my fiction-writing skills, but I've never done much beyond that."


That's what I wrote nearly a year and a half ago, and let me tell you the last few month have been very exciting (and very busy!). In January, my first book was accepted by Harlequin's Love Inspired (Christian) line, and today I'm pleased to announce my soon-to-be released novel, The Amish Newcomer, available September 1.


Yes, I fell in with Harlequin's inspirational line and I'll be specializing in Amish fiction. It's a good fit. I have a lifelong fascination with the Plain People and a solid rural background. What's not to love?

It's funny -- this whole thing has exploded on me. From one book accepted, Harlequin took a second book, then a third, and the editor is interested in at least three more.

When the The Amish Newcomer is available for purchase, I am going to transparently beg all of you, my dear readers, to buy a copy. If you're a guy, give it to your teenage daughter or your grandmother to read. But I would love to be able to show strong numbers to the editors for my first book.

So there you have it. It appears I have a new career ahead of me.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Lotsa birds

We have lots of birds hanging around, often in a half-grown state.

Here are a couple of half-grown robins:



...with an alert parent bird nearby, keeping an eye on things:


At this stage, the fledglings are still being fed by the parents.


Here's a swallow fledgling (possibly a bank swallow, but it was very far away) clamoring for food.


This is an immature barn swallow.



I photographed what I thought was a pair of sparrows perched on a wire fence, gobbling grass seeds. Note the streaked breasts.


These are what my ornithology professor used to call "LBJs" (Little Brown Jobbies) in class because there are so many anonymous little brown birds which are notoriously hard to identify. I thought at first they were Fox or Lincoln sparrows...


...but note the dull yellow streaks in the wings and tail. I'm thinking they're pine siskins. Anyone know for sure?



A pair of hoary redpolls (male and female).


And a showy male, by himself.


And a couple of half-grown California quail.



It's fun to watch all the babies grow up.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Nothing like a good breakfast

Younger Daughter's Quaker parrot, Lihn, is enjoying our strawberry bounty.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Awwww -- fawns

Over the last few weeks, we've had a lot of deer hanging around.


One doe in particular spent a lot of time in the vicinity of the house. I suspected the reason.


Sure enough, a few days later I saw her in the pasture with a fawn.


Just too cute for words, no?


But there was a problem with this baby being born in our pasture. The pasture is fenced.


So whenever mama would jump the fence to go snack elsewhere, baby was left behind.


The baby would stare longingly after its mama, but it was well and truly stuck.



Mama jumped in and out of the pasture, but invariably the baby was left behind.





We made a strict decision never to let Mr. Darcy run in the pasture (where we often took him to throw a Frisbee) until such time as the fawn found its way out.

Then yesterday, while sitting at the kitchen table, I saw the fawn trot past the kitchen window!



Wait -- not one fawn, but two!

Full of high spirits, these twins embarked on a chasing game behind the barn and the back side of the garden.


Don had mowed a path through the high grass, you see, and the babies were using it as a race course.


A branch of this mowed path, let it be known, led straight to a side gate to the garden (specifically the orchard). Remember that for a moment.


I was watching the twins race back and forth, back and forth...




...when I heard a crash and saw one of the fawns had somehow bounced through the wide mesh of the gate.


It was now trapped in the garden. That certainly put an end to their game of tag. Now one fawn was inside the fence, and one outside.


I waited a while because I didn't want to stampede out there and freak the poor baby. The last thing I wanted to do was panic it into a fence and risk it breaking a leg. But after fifteen minutes or so, I snuck into the garden and opened every gate as wide as it would go. I did scare up the baby, but not too badly.



Don was away from home when all this happened, so when he got back, we walked into the garden and swept it from one side to the other. We saw nothing, so thankfully the baby had managed to find its way out through one of the opened gates.

That was yesterday. So this morning, what should I see right in front of our yard but both babies?






"Where is your mama?" I wondered, before looking up and seeing her right in the front pasture, just on the other side of the fence. Good. That meant the babies hadn't been separated from the doe.


She kept a watchful eye on her babies just on the other side of the fence.



I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of these babies in the next few weeks.