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Posts Tagged ‘cats’

We are getting some badly needed rain.  It has been threatening all morning, flashing and muttering under its breath, teasing us with brief sprinkles.

The radar shows that all of this activity is moving along to the south, which is odd because most of the lightning and clouds I am looking at are to the north of me.  At any rate, I am glad it is raining.   We need for the ground to be nicely wet and more rain promised in order to distribute the beneficial nematodes that are reputed to dine on Japanese beetle grubs.  With a good rain under our belt, and more promised, we can order the supplier to ship them.  With any luck, the weather will cooperate and keep the ground nice and wet after they are applied.

I am happy that there is a storm, Impy is NOT.   I don’t know what horrible trauma happened to him in his kittenhood, but he is terrified of thunder and slinks off full speed ahead for the nearest closet as soon as the first distant rumble occurs.  This morning has been just terrible for him.  With the sporadic nature of this storm, there have been periods of calm in between the heavenly percussion performance long enough for him to stick his whiskers out.   Inevitably, as soon as he is bold enough to exit his sanctuary, a random clap of thunder will send him scurrying back under cover.

We have hypothesized that Impy can understand the weatherman and has listened to all the instructions regarding what to do to be safe in a stormy situation.   If you don’t have a shelter to move into, you should stay in an interior room (preferably with no windows) and put a pillow over your head.  When you hear thunder, you should keep yourself as close to the ground as possible while you move to shelter to minimize the danger of being struck by lightning.   And for God’s sake, don’t go stand under a tree.

Our local YMCA is so careful about lightning danger that they clear the pool if there is any within a few miles of us.   Consequently, this morning our water aerobics class was only 15 minutes long.

I have been surfing the interwebs excessively, so I finally decided I ought to get something worthwhile done instead of endlessly posting on facebook.  I made the bed, and cleaned the catboxes.   I did the dishes, and I am contemplating the idea of vacuuming.   I am pretty sure I can spend enough time on my blog that I simply won’t have time to do that chore before I have to leave for my mammogram.

While I was washing the dishes the storm finally blew into our area and produced a measurable amount of rain.   I was musing as I scrubbed my pots about how one would depict the skies opening up as a response to a prompt of “Open” on an the Art Journal Adventure.   The view out my window captivated me as I worked and pondered.  The finches are busy at  the feeder, they don’t care it is raining and neither do the squirrels, who use their tails as easily as an umbrella as they do a sunshade or blanket.

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The rain will be good for the garden too.  The peas are about an inch tall, and the lettuce that we tended all winter is going gangbusters.   I heartily endorse the use of cold frames in this climate.   We ate beautiful lettuce all winter.

So as I allowed this train of thought to pass through the station of my mind, a huge ground strike flashed down just to the northeast.

I was standing at the window, scrubbing a metal pot with my hands in running water, and I recalled the wisdom that says you can get a pretty bad shock if lightning strikes near your water line when you have your hands in running water.   Suddenly I thought “If that bolt had struck the house and electrocuted me where I stood, I suppose my last thought would have been ‘Impy was right’.”

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Hard to believe that it will be the equinox and Jim’s birthday in just a few hours.   We have a pile of stuff to burn, so I suppose we’ll have a bonfire tonight. I had one last week because the pile had gotten unmanageable.   I had pulled out the black bean vines and harvested the pods.   So the vines needed to be burned, as there were plenty of sundry insect eggs deposited on the leaves.  The patch did REALLY well this year.   Bear in mind that it occupied the part of the bean bed not being used by the pole beans.   In an area that was 4’x16′ I harvested almost ten pounds of black beans, once I had them shelled and dried.   I think that is outstanding production. The cats thought the black beans in the shell were fascinating.   Miss Mallory, being blind, checks everything out by sound and smell.  The crate of bean pods sounded very very interesting, as I had to shove them down in it to get all the pods in there.   As it rested in the kitchen, it made intriguing crackling and rustling noises. DSCF0526 After I finished shelling the beans, I went out and dug the sweet potatoes.   Those vines had gotten delusions of grandeur, were determined to take over the whole northwest section of the garden.   They were well on their way to doing just that. DSCF0528 They did not seem to mind me walking on them when I was headed out to pick the tomatoes, which are at the back of the picture.   What you do not see in this shot is the fact that some of the vines had found their way under the fence and were on their way towards the neighbor’s yard.   Thank goodness this is a non-hardy tropical plant, or we could be in danger of being covered with sweet potato vines the way Alabama is covered with kudzu. They look so pretty on the garden cart. DSCF0532 That is 48.2 pounds of sweet potatoes.   I have a similar quantity of butternut squash curing in the back bedroom.  The freezers are packed with vegetables and fruit.   I just made a liter of herb vinegar for salad dressing.  I put up the last batch of sweet gherkins the other day. Anyway, the bonfire took care of the old cucumber and squash vines as well as the bean vines. While my back was turned, my dill self seeded. DSCF0516 DSCF0517 There is cilantro in this bed too, and the parsley plant just to the east of the dill has seeded the path next to it.   I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to plant parsley and have it not take.   Then you have a plant to go seed and throw seeds into a bark mulch and not get watered all summer, and voila!   Happy little parsley plants.  Go figure. Jim has been gone for a couple of weeks, off to visit people on the East Coast and to attend a class in making Windsor chairs for little people.   He got home yesterday, and it is REALLY great to have him back.   He isn’t a very noisy guy, but the place is preternaturally quiet when he is gone. While he was gone I spent some quality time with the slide collection from my father’s house.   Found some real gems that I will be sharing soon.   These two shots are from around the same era in my life.   The first is of me in my high school graduation gown and cap, sharing my diploma with Horace, my boa constrictor.   The second one was taken in the Sierra foothills as we released Herman, the bull snake, into the wild. PICT0167 img614 Yes, I kept snakes when I was a teenager.   I guess that is what happens when you are born in the Year of the Serpent, as I was. The chairs Jim made arrived here just a couple of hours after he did.   Here is a shot of the new little chair next to the Papa chair.  The little chair still needs to be sanded and painted, but I think it looks beautiful. DSCF0537 This is a chair that will be suitable for a child that is three or so, and will be useful to the young person until they start to shoot up around ten or eleven.   After that, it can be used for seating for a teddy bear, and then a place to stash your coat and purse when you reach working age. I convinced him to invest in the bending form for this chair, because I would like to see a small cottage industry happen.  When I suggested this to him over the phone, he pointed out that he had only been retired for two months, and I was already thinking of a job for him.  Well, if one can make a little money doing something one loves, why not?  This would be a great thing for a proud grand parent to give to a beloved little one.  At $450, it is not inexpensive but destined to last for centuries. Fall is definitely here.   The sumac is turning, as is the poison ivy.   The Petite Prairie is looking fantastic in the evening light right now, as the tall grasses are making their seed heads. DSCF0533 Stay warm.   Hug someone you love, you never know how long you have with them.

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Every once in a while the phrase “It’s like Grand Central Station around here” passes my lips.  There was a while, back when the economy crashed, when it was more like a crossroads in  the middle of nowhere, but those times have passed.

Last week really seemed to epitomize the sort of busy-ness that brings that  feeling to the fore.   As fearless readers of this blog are aware, we are in the midst of getting our place prepared for installation of a solar array.   There is a seemingly infinite regression in jobs like this.   The very first thing we had to do was move the big rocks out of the terraces on the root cellar.   That was so we could have the mountain range dirt pile placed on it.    Before the dirt could be moved, we had to buy and install landscape retaining bricks so the dirt would stay where we wanted it to.   And so forth and so on.

The next part of the job is to get Jim’s shop arranged in such a way that the inverters (and ultimately our back-up batteries) will have a safe, secure and weather proof spot to live.    Over the years, the barn has begun to severely show its age, and Jim’s shop was far from being any of those things.   In point of fact, last year the door of the shop devolved into such decrepitude that it could not even be closed, much less bear any resemblance to an actual door.  At any rate, we have people working to remedy the situation.

The shop has been radically changed.    This is how it looked before Jim started cleaning it out.

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Outside the barn, once the clearing up was begun, looked like this.  Notice the “door”.

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After all the gear and detritus was cleared out, the workers came it and removed the sheetrock and 1/2″ styrofoam board insulation from the outside walls and ceiling.   At that point it became obvious that the previous owners’ idea that cardboard and 1/2″ masonite would be adequate barriers to keep varmints out of the space between the floor of the barn loft and the ceiling of the shop area was ridiculous.   As our poor workmen began to tear down the interior, they were showered with sticks, nuts, sunflower seeds, straw, and sundry bird and rodent leavings.   The squirrels and starlings and rats and who knows what else had found that six inch space to be a delightful place to live.

At any rate, after deconstruction and cleaning, the space looks like this.

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Outside, the barn looks like this now.

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Right now we are waiting for the electrician to come and do his magic.   When he is done, there will be proper wiring in the shop, including 220V and several circuits WITH circuit breakers.   Additionally, the origin of the  electrical service to the barn out by the meter pole will also have a circuit breaker box and a couple of proper outlets so we can run our pool and concrete mixer in more safety.   Granted, that box “does” have fuses, but we would like something more updated.  After the electrician, the insulation contractor will do his thing.   Then the actual windows, doors and sheetrock can be installed.

So, in addition to having workers in and out of the yard and barn, we have electricians and insulation contractors knocking at the front door so they can make their measurements and estimates.   Of course, my regular procession of clients proceeds through as well.

Did I mention that we have a young man working for us two days a week?   We do.   He is the epitome of youthful strength and enthusiasm, and was instrumental in the moving of rocks listed above.   He has also helped us split wood, move dirt, build rock wall, and I don’t know what all else.   Observe the transformation in the back area of the property.

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To add to the list of jobs going on, our lovely tenant was taking his wife and family to Walmart when his spouse informed him that she had forgotten her list and they needed to go back and get it.   For some reason, this infuriated him; not that Walmart is that far from here (less than 2 miles), and not that they had gotten that far (to the end of the block).   He drove around the block and pulled into their carport, yelling and carrying on.    She hopped out of their van and ran into the house to get her list while he sat impatiently in the van with his foot on the brake, muttering imprecations.  She got back in the vehicle, at which point, still yelling at her, he stepped on the gas and promptly drove the van into the side of the house, since he had neglected to put the thing in park while he waited and had forgotten he was in “Drive” rather than “Reverse”.

So we have had the insurance people ringing the doorbell and the phone, as well as the contractor who repaired the damage:   one exterior door and 7 studs in the wall with all the associated  demolition to siding and interior that that entails.

Are you surprised to know that on Saturday morning, when things were all quiet, I was not all that polite to the hapless Jehovah’s Witness who rang my doorbell, disturbing my peace?

However, things are getting along.   The wood fired oven platform/barbecue pit area is now walled.   We finished that yesterday, except for the coping stones around the top.   I think it looks rather splendid, actually.   When there is actually an oven it will be really cool.

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For the first time in years, the path along the back of the house is a path, rather than a repository for rock designated for the wall.

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Lest you think all is perfection here, there is a project at the end of the path that has been put on indeterminate hold.   The sewer line at that corner was dug up and then promptly reburied when winter arrived.   There is a need for the entire line along the back of the house to be dug and replaced without the dip in the middle and with a proper drop so that the drains will remain clear.   I have no idea when that will get done.

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We have a couple of other projects going on.   The fence line marking the north border of the Stroll Garden will be changed.    We are rotating it 90 degrees to extend towards the vegetable garden.   That will make the pond area part of the Stroll Garden.  Tomorrow, our worker will dig the post holes for the new line, and the fence will be built shortly thereafter.

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Just to the north of that is the garden fence, with the raspberry bed in front of it.   In short order, I am going to dig out a path next to that raspberry bed, and then Jim is going to build a bird cage over the raspberry patch.   At the far end I will install a small blueberry patch.    The cage will also keep out the rabbits and the squirrels and the groundhogs, so I believe that we will be the benefactors of the berry bushes rather than all the wildlife.

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Another project that will be completed PDQ is the pouring of a concrete slab on which to keep the compost piles.   Here again you can see a transformation in the area.

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It was while I was trying to find a good picture of the mess sort of indicated in the first picture above that I discovered how very very good I am at framing photographs in such a way the big messy areas of the yard do not show up!

Meanwhile, the Petite Prairie is absolutely beautiful.   The culmination of the Stroll Garden proves how very worth while all the improvements around here really are.

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For those of you who have been following the saga of the mouse in the house, I can report that all the attempts Impy was making to catch that mouse that fell from the attic were unfruitful.   She, however, was.   And so now we have her and her litter of progeny disporting themselves about the house.   The young mice are about an inch long and very very cute.   Also, they are very very fast and very very light, so the cats are not catching them and neither are the mouse traps.

Now.   I have a few hours before my first client, so I intend to go work on the rain garden, which needs some severe curbing on its enthusiasm.

And rain.   We need rain.

Talk to you later.

 

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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 Could Pee on This”  is a book of poems ostensibly written by cats.    The author, Francesco Marciuliano, is also known for being the author of the cartoon “Sally Forth”.

All I can say is, Marciuliano successfully channels cat-think in this charming little book.

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It is sized appropriately for a bedside table.   It would also reside neatly on the top of a toilet tank, where one could amuse oneself mightily by dipping into the offerings within the book.    Such as “Nectar of the Gods”, an ode to the superiority of faucet water to the water in a bowl on the floor.

Jim’s favorite is “The World Outside my House”

In the world outside my house

The mice jump in your mouth

And birds serve themselves in butter

Rather than fly south………

In the world outside my house

The sun is a laser light

Each cloud a snuggly blanket

And the doors are not shut tight

In the world outside my house

All the trees they dangle string

The flowers brush from head to tail

And the neutered cat is king

In the world outside my house

I can never go

But as an indoor cat I know these things

Because the dog does tell me so.

Impy knows this poem well.   He spends an inordinate amount of time staring out the window.   Surprisingly, I do not have a single image of him doing this.  But I now know that this poem trails through his little feline brain while he is engaged in that activity.

Just one more, this one is my favorite (today)

THIS IS MY CHAIR

This is my chair

This is my couch

That is my bed

That is my bench

There is my chaise

There is my settee

Those are my footstools

Those are my rugs

Everywhere is my place to sleep

Perhaps you should just get a hotel room

I do have an appropriate image for this poem.   Ruby is not a young dog any longer, and is starting to get arthritic.   In order for her to be more comfortable, I went out and purchased a dog bed for her.   Hah.   She doesn’t really like it, and only lies on it when bidden to, just in order to make me happy, it appears.

THIS IS MY BED

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“Maybe you should just go outside and sleep in your doghouse.”

It really is a very fun little book.   Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat will recognize every single attitude expressed within.

Thank you Peggy, for this positively entertaining little volume.

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It is hard to believe that the last time I posted here was before Thanksgiving.  I have been on line, too.  But somehow I have been sucked into Facebook and have found myself putting up little blips here and there rather than making a blog post.   I wonder how many other bloggers have been seduced by social media?

Since I posted, it has snowed and thawed several times.   I did get some pretty nifty snow shots during all those events.

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We had a real cold snap before Thanksgiving, and the little pond froze with beautiful hoarfrost crystals.

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We also had a small ice storm, no big damage although we did have a couple of elm trees that dropped a lot of branches.   The day after the ice covered stuff it was a lovely day and things were already starting to melt.   I took Ruby for a walk and the ice was positively magical.   Everywhere I looked the woods sparkled in rainbow colors.   This phenomenon proved to be shockingly difficult to photograph, but I did get one image that almost conveys how amazing it was out there.

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During all this harsh weather, my neighborhood has been living up to its name.   All kinds of little birds, and big birds too, have been enjoying the shelter, food and water The Havens provides.  Actually, there are plenty of mammals also enjoying The Havens along with the avian population.

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We had a sumptuous Thanksgiving repast.

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At Christmas, Jesse and Lynette were able to get away from their Army duties and bring James to visit us.   They were here for far too short a time, and we loved every minute of it.

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I saved The Quilt for a Christmas presentation, even though the kids knew I had made it and had enjoyed hots of it during all stages of creation.   They did not know about the pillow cases or the matching throw pillow, though.   Honestly, I think it makes a pretty impressive bed.

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James approved, I believe.

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One of my dear friends gave me an amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift.   This week it started to open.

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Today it looks like this:

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So now you are somewhat up to date.

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Last time I talked about the quilt here on the blog, it wasn’t quite done.   Well, it is totally pieced now, and at the quilter.   This stage has been promised to be done in the first half of December, which would still give me time to put the binding on it.   Right now, while I am waiting for the quilting to be finished, I am working on matching pillow cases.

At any rate, this is the portrait of the finished quilt.

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Here is a small detail picture that gives you a better idea of the fabrics.   The star fabric is quite magical, and doesn’t photograph worth beans.  The stars are printed on the fabric in a holographic ink, so they are iridescent when the angle of view changes.   Really cool.

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I mentioned being visited by Twylla Alexander, the woman who walked my labyrinth.    She has posted about that on her own blog, the link to her post is highlighted.   There is a picture of me in the labyrinth and a couple of shots of it in her post.   She was so kind.  She brought me a quite beautiful rock collected near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, plus a few shells from Auke Bay.

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The yesterday, one of my clients brought me a rock she picked up at the Crazy Horse memorial.   They have a pile of rubble from the blasting near the museum exit for people to help themselves.    This is truly an outstanding piece of granite.   I have included a close up so you can see how beautiful it really is.

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I truly have to be one of the most unique massage therapists in existence.   I absolutely love rocks, and all my clients know this.   This is not the first gift of a rock I have received from a client, nor will it be the last, I suspect.   They all know that I am happy to receive a rock as a Christmas present.   As a matter of fact, the following wonderful fossil is in a head sized rock that one of my dear clients gave me as a Christmas present last year, much to the amazement of her son.

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We are no stranger to granite around here.   On our recent trip to Washington and Alaska,  Jim and it had a road trip day to Whidbey Island (north of Seattle).  There we walked on the beach near Fort Casey and collected several pieces of beach polished rock there.   Lots of different kinds of granite around Puget Sound.

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This is not a new rock, I’ve had it several years.  But I always enjoy this little smiling caricature that lives in with my plants near the front door.

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I have to report that the three animals have consolidated themselves into a family.   Impy and Mallory have been discovered sleeping together on my leather arm chair.

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This is about the third shot, which is why neither of them is actually sleeping.  Incidentally, I believe that this arm chair is the epitome of “distressed” leather.   Its condition distresses me.   The patch behind Impy’s head is a spot where there was a small hole which was exceedingly exciting for a small kitten because it had white stuffing protruding from it.   Not only did she enlarge the hole, but she strewed stuffing all over the living room.   The patch is glued on, and almost matches…   Someday I will achieve new furniture.  Maybe.

Sometimes Mallory decides to “own” Ruby’s toys, much to Ruby’s dismay.    She almost seems to be saying, “Why did we have to get this cat, tell me again?”  in this photo.

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I’d say that fall is pretty much over here in the Ozarks, as we have had several below freezing mornings here.   Most of the leaves are on the ground, and most of the ones here at The Havens have been gathered up and put into the mulching container.   I spent a productive day a few days ago running the compost grinder, grinding up the years accumulation of bark and twigs and garden clippings.   I have a pile of ground plant material that is more than a cubic yard that I need to move into the mulch container along with the leaves.   But that will not happen before my back gets over the grinding operation….

Meanwhile, I had a couple of really nice seasonal shots that I haven’t posted yet.   This was how the maple by the pond looked a couple of weeks ago.

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When I walked down to the Big Piney River, I got a wonderful shot of the bluff with the trees turning.   I didn’t feel it was appropriate to include in the Trash Report, for some reason.

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I guess this is as good a place as any to close this post.

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