Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Chicago Kid

For the past week, we had the pleasure of enjoying the company of my cousin's seventeen-yr-old son.... he flew here from Chicago for a week-long visit to our little country bubble.  We brought Jack to the airport yesterday for his flight home, and even though he was a quiet and trouble-free guest, the house now feels like someone is missing.

Jack slept in the guest rooms over the barn... a two-bedroom apartment that became his own private man-cave, stocked with soda and snacks and chocolates.  He loved the privacy of the barn when he wanted to just get a break from the heat or read his books, but he was with us at the house for most of his time here.  The day before Jack flew down, the temperature was 106... then it cooled down into the high 90s for the rest of his stay. It rained one day and the temperature was around 79, with people in town saying that it almost felt like winter. Jack thought they were joking... I explained to him how dead serious they were to enjoy such a respite from the sizzling August heat.

We brought Jack to various restaurants and shops in town, and to Royer's in Round Top for fried chicken, and my husband took Jack to an Astros baseball game in Houston.  My cousin couldn't believe that we would drive 40 minutes just to get fried chicken, and my husband commented that he couldn't understand why Jack would commute 40 minutes into the city of Chicago to get to his high school.  Jack also couldn't comprehend the limited Internet service and the serious lack of good Italian pizza.... but he did like the quiet, and the possibility of the neighbor's goats jumping the fence and creating a 'traffic jam' on the road.

Our friends up the road had their grandson visiting the same week (a serendipitous coincidence for the boys) and Jack went up there to use their pool after dinner... he drove up the hill in my Thunderbird, which he absolutely loved. When I opened up the garage door the first time, he couldn't believe that I had such a sporty car tucked away in there. My answer to that was "Do I really look like I would drive that big Camry?"  Jack said I was full of surprises.

Life is full of surprises. Having Jack here was a happy breath of family...

The Cowboy Commandments

The following 'commandments' are printed on the back of the business card for R.S. Electrical Services.... a very nice and extremely efficient licensed electrical company based in Ledbetter, Texas.

l.  Just one God.
2.  Honor yer Ma and Pa.
3.  No tellin' tales or gossipin'.
4.  Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
5.  Put nothin' before God.
6.  No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.
7.  No killin'.
8.  Watch yer mouth.
9.  Don't take what ain't yers.
10. Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

It ain't easy being green....

And what on earth happened to find its way into the commode of one of the second floor bathrooms this week?  A nice green frog. Not an itty-bitty frog, but a nice fat green frog who hung on to the side of that commode for dear life when I tried to flush him down the plumbing. I'm sorry, but that was my knee-jerk reaction when I saw him in there.... my hand went to the lever and I fully intended to send him to a watery grave.

The frog, however, had other ideas. His four legs spread out as far as they could go and he just clung to the sides as if he had Crazy Glue on his little frog feet. When the water stopped swirling, the frog tucked his legs back underneath his fat green body and seemed perfectly content. I called my husband and told him there was a frog in the bathroom.
"Are you kidding me?" said he.  As if I would make up such a story at six-thirty in the morning?!

My husband captured the frog in a plastic container and I brought it downstairs and released him in the grass by the porch. He hopped away without so much as a look back. So then of course we were left wondering how the frog got up there in the first place... all the way to the second floor.... finding his way to the commode in what we call 'the green bathroom,' simply because nearly all the accessories in there are green.

"Who knows how long he was in there," said my husband. "At least he chose the correct bathroom.... he would have stood out like a sore thumb in the pink bathroom!"

When our handyman showed up today, I asked him about that frog in the commode because he worked for a plumbing company not long ago. His answer was not one that I wanted to hear:  "A frog! Well, count y'all's blessings it wasn't a snake!  I been called to houses out in the country that had copperheads come up through the plumbing and land in the commode, scaring the bejesus out of the people!"

Good grief. There is now a flashlight on my night-table. From now on, I do not intend to be walking from the bedroom to the bathroom in the dark, or take it for granted that the only thing in the commodes of this house is water. My husband is under strict instructions to keep all toilet lids closed so if anything does find its way into a commode, one would hope that it would make some noise trying to get out.

My husband says I am over-reacting. He is so wrong. If I were to over-react, there would already be a For Sale sign by our mailbox.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Mickey Kitty

Today was Mickey's last day with us... and no matter how many times you have to 'put down' a pet, it just never gets easier.  My husband found Mickey in July of 2005 while he was walking our dog Gracie in the neighborhood park. They heard yowling meows coming from near the bayou and Gary and Gracie went to investigate... and what they found was the tiniest and skinniest black kitten. Of course they brought it home... and of course we had to keep him.  I have a soft spot for black cats anyway, and Mickey was so tiny and helpless, how could we not have made him part of the family...

Mickey is (was) our last pet from our old house, our old neighborhood. "The last Heatherdale cat," as my husband called him. And being that my husband's dog Gracie was there for the discovery of Mickey, that alone made that little cat more special than the others we've had along the past 22 years. I think Mickey was the runt of his litter... he was so scrawny when we found him, and he stayed smaller than usual for a male cat for all of his 12 years.  I also think Mickey would have lived longer had we been able to keep him as an inside cat, but his litter-box habits got too unmanageable about four years ago and we let him go outside.  During the day, he had free roam of the property, but at night we kept him in the garage to keep him safe from coyotes and bobcats and everything else that goes bump in the night around here.

For the past month or so, Mickey seemed to be forgetful and out-of-it at times.... he did have some good days when he would remember where his food dishes were, but these past couple of weeks he was even forgetting how to get from the garage into the screened-in coop to get some fresh air when we closed the garage door at night.  I was bringing him into the house on the hottest of days, and keeping him in one of the bathrooms. The bottom line was that Mickey was no longer able to just be a cat. And I do not believe in keeping pets alive for my own sake, while taking away their own sense of dignity.

This morning we went to the vet's office. One last trip in the car, which Mickey was never too fond of anyway. My little black cat meowed all the way there, but as soon as I brought the cat-carrier into that office, not a peep came out of him. Sometimes I wonder if pets know when the inevitable is about to happen.  I stayed in the room with Mickey but I couldn't watch the procedure. I faced the wall and tried to think of that long-ago summer morning when my husband and Gracie walked into the back door and both of them were smiling wide.... and there was that tiny little black kitten, and my husband was telling me "Gracie and I found him... we have to keep him."  We had three other cats at the time... what difference would one more make...

We never really own our pets... they own us, heart and soul. They come into our lives by choice or by chance, and they expect to be loved and cared for and respected. As they should be. As we all should be. And the biggest responsibility of having a pet is knowing when it's time to let them go, peacefully and with grace.

When I came back home this morning, I gave Savannah the biggest hug, which she just loves.... she is never the first to pull away. Then I picked up Sweet Pea and held him on my left side with his head on my shoulder... I swear that he must like to hear my heart beating because he doesn't like being held on the right side of me.  Sweet Pea just calmly stayed there, his head on my shoulder and his whiskers tickling my neck. I told him that he was the only cat now.  "You are my one-and-only Sweet Pea," I told him.

Be kind to your pets.... hug your children... and be kind, always kind, to your pets. They should always know that you love them.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Another July....

....and we wait patiently to see if our across-the-road neighbors will be assaulting us all with fireworks on Tuesday. I have to say that my opinion of fireworks has changed greatly since the neighbor's explosions sent Savannah deep into the woods for twelve days last year. Savannah will still not walk past our barn, and I am sure that she remembers what happened up there on the neighbor's property.

The baby deer that we thought was safe and sound with its mother.... I looked all over the grounds around the house and the cottage and the barn when the little fawn wasn't in its spot under the trees. We knew for sure that the mother had come to reclaim her baby. Not so.... even though I searched for that fawn the day after.... it was not on our lawns around the house. However, on the third day, Savannah would not walk on the grass near the gazebo... she kept smelling the air and would not move towards that area. I brought Savannah into the house and went to look near the gazebo, and there was the fawn, spread out lifeless under the trees while three buzzards waited up in the pecan trees. I could have just cried. My husband put the fawn into a huge bag and we put that in a box and it now waits for the trash pick up. So much for the theory that a mother deer will always come back for her fawn. She must have indeed come back, but then abandoned the baby a second time... unless the fawn was sick and she just left it. We will never know. So sad.

I have been busy collecting books for the Book Club.... over five hundred books so far and I am totally ready for the first club meeting in mid-September. I am hoping that the students will want to keep the books they choose to read, and will start their own libraries. The thought of kids not wanting to read and have books of their own is just impossible for me to imagine. I have a good selection of fiction and non-fiction titles, and my plan is to bring thirty books to the school each week--- thirty for each grade, so the students will choose their own books. "Choose wisely.... and earn your magic wand!"

Tomorrow is my friend Fran's birthday.... she is celebrating up on a cloud somewhere. Her granddaughter has just turned six, so it has been six years now since Fran's passing. That precious granddaughter was born just two weeks after Fran died. I have been sending books to that little girl for years... for birthdays and Christmas, any holiday that you can think of. Fran loved books and wanted her grandchild to love them also. I am doing my best, Fran... and yes, your little granddaughter does love to read.... and the sparkle in her eyes reminds me so much of you.

I have just finished re-reading "The Little Prince."  One of the most beloved quotes in that book is "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.... what is essential is invisible to the eye."  Such profound words, to be remembered always, especially when Bible-quoting self-proclaimed Christians stand in judgment of people whose lifestyle they don't approve of. Give me a blessed break. LOVE and ACCEPTANCE are essential, and both are invisible to the eye. Some people need to stop hiding their heads and their hearts in their bibles. And all of that is my opinion, just based on a story I heard in town this past week that broke my heart because the actions of ignorant people are just beyond the realm of humanity.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Step away from the baby deer....

And that is just what I had to do yesterday after finding a tiny baby deer in our front yard. So small.... about the size of our cat Mickey, except the deer's legs were longer. And so fragile.... it was all I could do to resist the urge to pick up that baby and cuddle him close. But.... not exactly what you should do with a baby deer.

The momma deer will leave their baby for ten or even twelve hours at a time, so we are all told out here not to touch them, move them, or try to feed them when they are alone. The baby deer just rests and sleeps, and picks up its head every once in a while for a little look-see, and then goes back to sleep. At one point this afternoon as the sun moved through the trees, the baby's sleeping spot was no longer in the shade. We watched from the kitchen window as the baby deer got up and stretched its legs and then gingerly moved three steps into a shady spot. My husband and I watched from the kitchen window, both of us wanting to go out there and somehow help that tiny fragile baby.

We got close enough to take some pictures, neither of us touching the deer but both of us wanting to. I kept Savannah away from that part of the yard all day, and let Mickey stay in the kitchen so even he wouldn't bother the baby. At dinner time, I walked Savannah in the backyard, and when I got to the front yard, the baby deer was gone. I walked all around the pecan trees and the gazebo and then all through the side yard to make sure the baby hadn't wandered off. My guess is that the momma deer had been watching the yard and when she saw me go out of sight around the back, she came and reclaimed her baby.

The yard felt so empty all of a sudden. I walked down the road a bit and looked out into the tall grass of the pasture, and then I walked up to the barn and looked out into the fields there.  Not a sign of any deer at all. Well, I am hoping that momma and baby are safely tucked away in the woods by now. And I hope the hiding place there is as quiet and as safe as our front yard was all day for that tiny baby.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

There's a new rooster in town...

....and he lives on one of the properties along our road. We can hear him crowing (and probably strutting his stuff) every morning. Truly a country sound coming from that rooster. So much nicer than the howling of the night-time coyotes.

Hearing the rooster gets me to missing our chickens, but I just don't want to adopt any more hens, thank you.  For our first batch of hens, I named each of them after my aunts. Big mistake. The first one to die was Edie, because her curiosity got the best of her and she drowned in the fountain in the front courtyard. I had to explain that calamity to my Aunt Dolly, and she was not happy.  Actually, my Aunt Dolly is under the impression that the hen named after her is still alive and gifting us with eggs every morning. I didn't have the heart to tell Aunt Dolly that her namesake was killed by a snake nearly four years ago.

After the first flock of hens met their chicken-maker, we got another half dozen and I named those after characters in "Gone With the Wind."  After a while, they also got taken by foxes, hawks, and heaven only knows what else, with Scarlett being the last survivor until a snake got her also. Life is not easy in the world of chickens, unless you can keep them completely fenced-in all the time, and even then, a snake can get in if he is very determined. (Refer to Scarlett.)

So now the chicken coop is a screened-in porch for Mickey Kitty..... he can get into the coop from his sleeping spot inside the garage. We keep him in the garage at night, hopefully safe from predators. Mickey loves the coop, and I don't think he would be happy to share his spot with chickens. Actually, I doubt very much that a flock of hens would want to be sharing space with Mickey either.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Life in the country....

As I type this, there is a snake in the breakfast room window... and of course it's the window right behind my chair. This is the second time a snake has gotten himself caught between the screen and the glass of that particular window. As it happens, there is a bird's nest right above that window. So the snake smells the eggs in the nest, tries to get up into it, and gets itself caught behind the screen.

The last time this happened, half of the snake was hanging out below the screen and my husband used a snake-grabbing pair of tongs to capture the snake and throw him out into the field. For all we know, this could be the same snake, back for a second attempt. However, this snake was very determined, and all of his slithering body is now behind the wood screen. In order to get him free, my husband would need to unscrew the wood frame of the screen, but in doing so, he would be in close proximity to a very aggravated snake. Not a good thing.

So I closed the shutters of the breakfast room window and I am trying to forget the snake is there. Fat chance of that happening. Either the snake will get out of his screen-prison by himself, or he will take his last breath in there and then my husband will unscrew the wood frame and toss the dead snake out into the field. Thankfully, even though there is an inch-wide gap between the screen's frame and the windowsill, the glass window itself is very tight and secure and I know for sure the snake cannot get into the breakfast room. Give me a blessed break with the wildlife out here.

In other, more sane happenings..... I am still collecting books for The Magic Wand Book Club. The one thrift store that offered me free books had a nice selection for me when I stopped in there this morning. In another thrift store, one of the girls who works there gave me some nice books for the students. I will probably have enough Halloween-ish mystery books for the month of October, and Christmas stories for December. I am still making bookmarks and now I have started on the bookplates for the books the students want to keep.

Busy, busy.... who has time for snakes in the window.  I just looked over there.... I can see his shadow moving, so he is trying to get out. Either that, or he wants to join the book club.