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Archive for July, 2014

I have never made any pretence of particularly loving rabbits.   They can be a nuisance, one which we went to quite a bit of trouble to fence out of the vegetable garden.  They serve their place in the world, though.   The fact that we have a healthy population of them at The Havens accounts for the presence of Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls.   I’m sure the black snakes are happy to find a tiny tender tidbit upon occasion.

I was out watering my potted plants this morning during the break I had between a couple of clients.   As is my custom, I was gazing about the place, admiring the view while I was waiting for the right amount of water to flow into the whiskey barrels full of beans and morning glories.  I am very pleased with them.

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The Petite Prairie is looking pretty good right now, despite the dry weather we have been having.

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The silky dogwood was looking a little peaked, so when I was done with the pots I made my way over there to give it a drink.    Of course, the hose had to kink during the trip across the lawn, so when I turned the spray nozzle on, nothing happened.   I laid it down and attended to the kink.    The water began to gush out of the nozzle, and very soon afterwards I heard a vociferous complaint from the bed just below the dogwood.    It was a very loud complaint indeed, and obviously was coming from an infant.

I investigated, and this is what I found to be the source of the racket.

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Honestly, this little baby bunny seems way too small to be able to make such a very loud noise.

After I photographed the Small One, I placed him carefully back in the nest with his siblings.    Of course, I had to document it all.

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My client had arrived, so I carefully put the grassy cover back over the babies, and went in to do her massage.    She admired the baby pictures.   Although we both  agreed about rabbits in general, we also both agreed that when they are so very small they are very cute.  No way could I exterminate them, even if they will probably be chewing through my iris stems when they get older.   I just found a Naked Lady stem that was full of buds that some rabbit decided looked edible.    I guess it wasn’t that edible, because it only chewed through the stem, it didn’t bother to actually eat the buds.   I have to admit I was perturbed.

So anyway, a little while ago, having finished the massage and my lunch, I thought I’d go back out there and see if I couldn’t get a better shot of them in their nest.

I was interested to discover that in the intervening three hours, Mama Rabbit had been around to tend to her youngsters.   The grass and twig cap on the nest had been seriously beefed up.   And if you take a close look at this next picture you will notice that there has been a further change.

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Apparently she had not quite finished furnishing the nest when I took the first picture.   Now there is a beautiful soft layer of rabbit fur encasing the babies.

I covered them up again.

They really are very cute.

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It’s raining mice

We live in an older home, and are aware that it is certainly not mouse-proof.

Every once in a while a pioneering mouse finds its way inside.  Sometimes it goes back outside and invites its relatives to join it in colonizing the place.  This seems to have been the case this summer.

Jim opened up the liquor closet a few weeks ago and surprised a mouse  squatting in the middle of the shelf.   What it thought it was going to do with all that scotch, gin, bourbon and assorted liqueurs is beyond me.   Maybe there was going to be a big party upstairs.

That particular mouse did not get to attend the putative festivities, since Jim immediately set one of the mouse traps, baiting it with some fine cheddar cheese.   The mouse departed this mortal plane later that night.   It was evident that there was probably another mouse in the house though, as the remainder of the cheese was gone when we checked the trap in the morning.

We re-set the trap and waited.   Apparently eating the remainder of the cheese with its dead relative close by was creepy enough that the mouse that did the deed was not anxious to return to the scene.   At any rate, the cheese got stale and no further mice were caught.  Hopeful, we decided that maybe we were wrong, and there weren’t any more mice.  Or that they had left for more salubrious climates.

Alas, it was not so.  A few days later, Jim opened one of the cooking utensil drawers and surprised another mouse, who squatted amidst the barbecue skewers, sieves, and steamer baskets looking up at Jim in great consternation.   Jim was startled as well, and slammed  the drawer closed.  The mouse departed, posthaste.

Mallory and Impy were of the opinion that it had taken up residence under the stove and the adjacent cabinet, and kept that area of the house staked out on a regular basis.  The mouse was cagey.

The other night, though, it was thirsty.   It takes a pretty bold mouse to use the cat’s water dish as its source of water, but this mouse was desperate.   We had gone to bed and things were more or less quiet.  The mouse was creeping across the dining room on its way to procure a drink when Jim felt a similar need.  He turned on the light, catching the mouse in the dead middle of the room.    Quickly, it darted under the couch.   We rounded up the cats and set them on the scent, but once again the mouse had managed to escape.  It did not stop once it was safe under the couch, but continued out the other side.  Apparently it found the baseboard heating unit to be a convenient refuge.

Things didn’t progress much on the mouse front for the next few days.   We were not so sanguine as to think it had moved on, though.

Last night it was wandering around up in the attic.    Suddenly, it made a misstep, and fell down inside the framework that supports the whole house fan.   Under the fan is a set of aluminum louvers that is about 30″ square.  When you turn on the giant fan that is in the attic, the suction is such that it pulls the louvers open.   We had been awakened by the thump and subsequent scrambling about of the mouse, arose from our bed and were standing under the fan and pondering what to do.   Mallory was fascinated, as she is fascinated by all the odd things that her people choose to do.

Jim poked the switch, the fan began to turn, and the louvers opened.  The mouse fell through the fan opening and landed on the carpet about six inches in front of Mallory.

Since she is blind, it took her a few seconds to get the scent of mouse and realize what had happened.  The mouse was squatting on the carpet, stunned by its fall from the attic.   I think it hoped that if it just stayed very still maybe no one would notice its dark grey mouse form on the white carpet.

“Ha!”  Mallory finally said, once the musky mouse scent reached her. “It’s raining mice!  What will they think of next?”

Unfortunately, the mouse was faster than she was, and escaped into the back bedroom.   We apprised Impy of the situation.  Once again, a baseboard heater provided refuge.  For the rest of the night Impy had the mouse pinned down.  Every once in a while we would hear the cat crashing into the metal base board heater when the mouse stuck its head out from its refuge, hoping that the coast was clear.

It is unknown at this point whether Impy succeeded in catching the mouse.   Stay tuned for further developments….

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I walked the labyrinth this morning.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately; taking new rocks in, mostly.   Several years ago I joined the Labyrinth Society’s 365 Club.   The goal was to walk a labyrinth every day for a year.   I started out strong, but after about a month and a half I stopped doing it.   It seemed that what should have been a meaningful spiritual exercise was becoming rote and routine, and I didn’t really like that result.   So I stopped trying to make the 365 day goal.

Maybe I will try again this year.   I don’t know.

I do know that I have been very inspired by Twylla Alexander’s labyrinth journey.   She made a commitment to walk one labyrinth created by a woman in each of the 50 states.   She recently completed this journey, or at least the first part of it.  The second part is to write a book about it.   Her break in the journey turns out to be a pause to create her own labyrinth.  Many of the women whose labyrinths she walked are going to send her a rock for her labyrinth.

My labyrinth was one of the ones she chose, and her visit was special.   One of the results was to rekindle my relationship with my own labyrinth.   I also decided to refurbish the inner circle.    Today I was taking a couple of new denizens in, and while I was at it I took the rock I had chosen to send her along.   While I was making this pilgrimage, a sort of prose poem came to me.

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About Life’s Journey

Sometimes you walk alone; sometimes you have company.   Both ways are good.

Often there is a path for you to follow; but sometimes you have to create your own.   These both are valuable experiences.

Love is all around you; never forget that it is infinite.

When you are looking for answers, leave no stone unturned.

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You never know what is hidden on the other side of an interesting but not THAT remarkable rock.

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It is good to look at things from more than one angle.

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Always try to finish what you start; but be willing to be interrupted for beauty, friends, and rest.   Procrastination is not always a bad thing.

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Now, I have procrastinated long enough.   I must go dig my potatoes, and work on establishing order in the rain garden.

 

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It has been a long slog, but the remodel of the inner circle of the labyrinth is finally complete.

The whole thing started only a week ago even though it feels like it was a month of Sundays.   As you may recall, the weed/grass situation vis-a-vis the special rocks in the inner circle was becoming impossible.   After due consideration, we decided that “something” needed to be done.   Neglecting many other projects, not the least of which is getting the Dragon’s Teeth re-situated and the rain garden weeded, I proceeded to dive headlong into the revamping of the inner circle.

Let no one think that this remodelling project was the only thing accomplished in the interim.   No massages were cancelled, and I kept the laundry done, the dog walked, the cats fed, and the garden watered and tended while all the following was going on.   And in addition, Jim went off to work for his final few days at the Commissary.

So, to recap, I began be removing the rocks from the inner circle.

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As soon as the land was cleared, I began digging a shallow ditch around the circle where all those rocks used to be.

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This process didn’t take nearly as long as I was afraid it would.   I spent a couple of afternoons on this phase.   It was quite ironic that I was already generating dirt that needed a place to live within literally hours of having moved the pile of dirt that was formed from just such projects in the past onto the root cellar.   However, that particular project resulted in some low places that needed fill, and so my labyrinth dirt went towards accomplishing that.

After the ditch was dug and leveled, I put a nice layer of road base into it.  Last Saturday morning, the day after his “last day of work”, Jim went off to Lowe’s and acquired rebar and quickcrete.   The rebar was cut to appropriate sized pieces, wired together, and placed in the ditch.

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It is propped up on nice little flat rocks so that the concrete will flow in and around under the rebar, thus making the resulting pour strong and stable.

Note the little cement mixer.   There is an amusing little story about that:   Lo these many years ago on a fine spring morning, my dear spouse looked at me and said, “I’m going to run some errands.”

This was no big surprise, errands are run on a regular basis around The Havens, but on this occasion he was gone a very long time.   Eventually, he returned home in a state of elevated mood and informed me he needed to take the truck off to pick up something he had purchased.  It seems that as he was driving past the Civic Center he saw a sign for a “Tool Sale” and decided to look in on this seductive event.

What had caught his roving eye was a small cement mixer, for which he promptly forked over a little more than $100.   I need not tell you that I had no concept of why it might be a good idea to have a cement mixer.   In all my childhood experience, whenever cement needed to be mixed, it was done with a shovel in a wheelbarrow, and whatever was good enough for my Daddy was good enough for me.

“No really,”  my spouse informed me with great pleasure and excitement.   “It’ll come in handy, you’ll see!”

It wasn’t that much money, didn’t make it impossible to pay our bills that month and he was so happy about it.   I didn’t give him a hard time.

I have to say that that cement mixer has never seen a year since when it was not used for some project or other.   He sure as heck was right about it coming in handy, and last Saturday was no exception!

We started off the project with 15 bags of quick-crete.   This is basically concrete mix in an 80 pound bag.  We knew we would need more than that, but that was as much weight as Jim cared to put on our little pickup, and we figured after we got that poured we would have a pretty good idea of how much more mix we would need.  Laboriously, Jim moved each bag to the wheelbarrow and moved it to the mixer, then lifted it up and poured it in.   Adding water, the little mixer turned and turned and the concrete mixed up nicely.

Then Jim tilted the mixture and poured it into the trench, while I pushed it around with the hoe so it didn’t over flow.   While he went through that process again, I spent quality time with the trowel smoothing out the pour and agitating it to bring the fines to the top so we would have a nice surface.

Eventually, we got to the part of the circle where the bench and the pile of rocks was.   At that point, it was not possible to tilt the concrete directly into the trench.  We brought our mortar board out and poured it onto that.   From there, it was my job to shovel it into the trench and smooth it while Jim was mixing the next batch.   We came to the end of the 15 bags, and decided it was time to take a break.

We estimated that we had made it about 2/3 of the way around, and so we thought we would need 8 more bags.   Just for insurance, Jim decided to buy 9, figuring that if there was left over we would be putting it into the garden retaining walls in the next few days.  Jim took his break on the drive over to Lowe’s.   I forget what I did while he was gone, but it didn’t involve a lot of sitting around.

He got back with the second load, and we proceeded to pour some more.   It only took another couple of bags to get to the point where we could pour directly into the trench, much to my poor arm’s relief.   (For the record, my forearms are still sore from that little section of shoveling wet concrete.)

Ironically, our estimate was off.  It turned out we needed ONE more bag to complete the pour, and so off Jim went to procure that bag.   As he made the trip, I placed the direction rocks into the wet concrete and generally admired the job.   It seemed obvious in retrospect that we would need 25 bags to complete the job, because clearly it was going to take EXACTLY one ton of concrete to form the inner circle.   In short order, the buyer returned and we finished the job.

After we cleaned up our tools, I documented the finished circle, still wet and curing.

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One of the things I decided about this project was that I was going to document my rocks.   So, the following morning we set up a portrait studio over by the sauna, and I proceeded to transport all the special rocks to that location and shoot them individually, along with a tag that indicated where they were from.  Each photo was also assigned a number.

Here is an example of the result.

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It was during this process that I discovered that my ability to write numbers in order was impaired.   I have one rock whose number is 43.5 because I forgot to list it until I was far down the list.   I also found myself re-numbering rocks when I turned a page and read 117 as 111 and so labeled several rocks with the same identification number.   But I got it straightened out, and it was actually important because when I placed the special rocks back onto the circle I made a map of where they got put.

I am having the pictures printed out, and I will make a notebook with a page for each rock.   The page will list its number along with information on who procured it for me if it was a gift, and any little story that revolves around it.   That way, in the future, other people will be able to understand what is special about each rock without having to extract the information from me personally.   This also guards against any memory losses I might have.

As I was taking rocks off the labyrinth, I was gratified to be able to remember the details on most of them.   Despite that, there were several “Mystery Rocks” that turned up during the process.   I did not toss them out because of that.   My decision was to replace them back in the circle close to the location where they were unearthed.   Maybe in the future the clouds will clear and I will remember where they came from.

Anyway, it took me two days to get them all back into place, what with the mapping project and having to actually do massages for clients in between working on the project.

But this afternoon, I finished the job.   It really looks good.

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Here’s a close up of the North West end of the inner circle.

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Eventually, the concrete will weather a bit and not be so blindingly white.

I have to say that the whole project has made me realize just how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and strangers contributing rocks to the inner circle.   Without them, I wouldn’t have Antarctica, the bottom of Sydney Harbor, the Great Sandy Desert, or the floor of the Arctic Ocean.   I feel very honored indeed.

The only thing left to do is to create the notebook and redraw the map.

But first, I have to go walk Ruby.

 

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