Fog, Slush, Freezing Feet!! I Need Coffee, Off To Seattle’s Best Coffee Café~

Yesterday morning I was outside early. The air was heavy with moisture.  A thick fog made visibility nearly impossible. The temperatures had risen enough that the snows had deflated. Still, that sheet of white stretched across the yard, patterned with footprints, then disappeared into the haze.

Uriah happily ran ahead of me, he kept his nose in the snow and pushed it along.  I examined one of his ‘nose prints’ and saw a maze of trails filtering under the snow.  

Chipmunks rarely showed their faces in the winter, they keep low and hidden. These are their trails.  With the help of Uriah’s’ nose and the melting snow the tunnels were caving in.

Under that white snow, everything was slippery slushy, grey and wet, which made my ability to walk a little hazardous. 

I made a number of mistakes yesterday. The first was going for a walk past the backyard…

I grabbed the mate to my solitary ski pole and started off across the yard.  Even using both ski poles as if I had on cross county skis, my feet slipped.  

Next mistake, I wasn’t wearing boots.  By the time walked back into the house, my gym shoes had soaked up a lot of cold water.

My feet were frozen and my back was screaming. I told myself to stop, stand where I was and let Uriah come to me..

I stood off near the deck, and watched those rats climb over the live trap. They ran in and out and stepped on the trigger pad. Never setting it off!   I need to declare war on these rodents, before they get out of hand!

Uriah came and sat next to me. He started to whine when he saw a rat poke its head out a hole. It had its own maze of tunnels under the snow.  The differences between the rat and the chipmunk; I hardly ever see a chipmunk in the winter. These rats, when they feel the vibration of my footsteps they stick their heads out and say, “Hello, feed me!”

Later today I will set up the live trap with birdseed farther away from the deck, in the open. I can hope, that the freezing weather won’t stop the hawk from hunting.

One way or another…  Their days are numbered; at least that is what my husband said.  He bought a couple of rat traps.

What a difference a few hours can make..

I had an appointment in Algonquin. Anytime I’m in that area, I stop by the, Borders Books, and get cup of hot coffee at, Seattle’s Best Coffee café.  I sat, read and bought myself a treat, a slice of chocolate peppermint loaf cake.  My favorite things, books, chocolate, peppermint and coffee, all I needed was a lap top and I would have been in heaven.  *Now I mentioned this, because it was nice and warm.*

By 9 o’clock that evening, I was once more standing outside with my dog. Freezing!

“Okay, Uriah! Go do your business!”  In order for you to get the full effect, imagine each word spoken haltingly. Add some strong freezing winds, and an epithet, or two. 

I have to admit, with the snow rock hard, walking was a lot easier than earlier in the day. 

I looked over at the live trap, it sat open and all the bird seed was missing.

I sighed heavily, shivered, and shook my head. Then laughed at the irony, when the winds triggered the trap and the door snapped shut…

A Dark Shadow Moved Through The Fields~

I’m standing by the open door looking outside; the screen is closed so my cats don’t escape.   The sun is coming up and I can’t see it.

 Outside the sky is a solid blanket of bluish grey and white, seamlessly blending into the snow on the ground.   Shadows of dark browns and black make up the trees and bushes.

The air is very still. I could hear water running through the rain gutters and dripping off the deck from the melting snow. In a musical sound that a dripping water faucet can never emulate. 

I pick up my old cat; PJ, he is fourteen years young.  He rubs my chin in greeting then turns his attention to the outside cold air, and listens.  Just the tip of his bushy dark grey tail flips, twitching incessantly.   I could feel his heart pounding.   His whole body stiffens and his ears rotate forward. He is listening.

I strain to hear what he hears.  Nothing!   The only thing I perceive is the silence and melting snow.   

For PJ, there is something out there! Under my hands I feel his muscles tighten. He sits a little taller in my arms.   His breathing slows down. He cocks his head to the right, and then leans into me. I set him down next to the  door. He turns, ignoring the screen door with its inviting outdoor smells.   For him, the safety of being on this side of the screen is over ridden by whatever is outside. He runs away from the door.  Without a backwards glance at me, he disappears under my bed.

“Silly, PJ!” I mock him, and then look back outside, wondering.

Uriah starts to whine. He knows I am awake and wants out.

I reach for the door; I just start to close it, when one of the black shadows in the field next door, moves.  It hesitates when I look straight at it.  I close the door and quietly look out the window.

Now I am waiting, watching the field.

The dark figure rises from the snow again, and moves off towards the east. Two other dark spots stand up and turn towards the house. They stop for a good minute, or so. The hairs on my neck are standing on end. 

Positioning myself at the window, I watch their darkness blend into the trees.

PJ let out one ‘Meow’ from under the bed. Then he stuck his head out.  How does he know they are gone? Or was he just reacting to the door being closed?  

Slipping out from under the bed, PJ walked nonchalantly over to me. All the while informing me in cat speak, “He wasn’t hiding, he was just checking for dust bunnies!”

 By the look of the fuzz on his head he found some…

 Laughing, I pick him up heading towards the kitchen. “Come on PJ! We need to hunt for our breakfast.”

He purred loudly…

This  fantastic sound I found on Youtube.

Donkey Kong Country Piano Water Theme Music

I Took My Walk Looking Up Today~Or, I Missed Last Nights Party

It was nearly two in the afternoon, when took my walk.  The temperatures had risen today. It was close to 35 degrees.

 I stood out on the path in the middle of the lowest spot, along the drainage tile. I was surrounded by heavy snow that crunched with each step I took.  My heels sunk into the wet snow and my toes followed with a rubbery sound, similar to rubbing your fingers across the outside of blown up balloon.  

 I felt I was shrinking! An optical illusion as the trees towered above.  

The sky directly overhead was void of clouds.  

While the horizon itself, was painted with a smooth, dark grayish, blue color.  

Furrows of lighter colored clouds stretched upward from that darkness, and meandered in soft lines. They swirled upward, round and round, lighter and lighter until the clouds broke apart.  

Everything pulled together like a tassel at the top of a hat.

All that soft brightness reflected off the surrounding clouds, with a very pale washed out center of whitish blue.  

I felt as if I were spectator, sitting in a cozy chair in a planetarium.

Everywhere I looked, the clouds followed that spherical path, up and out.

Two flocks of geese approached from the northwest and  flew over my house.   The first group, a wedge, flew in a ‘V’ formation.  The second flock flew a straight line, a skein, like a tail of a kite trailing last.

 I watched the geese turn and head southeast.  Both groups merged into the wedge, one wide ‘V’ formation. They flew in a wide circle.   I watched them fly directly towards the east, then turn sharply and head back north.  All the while honking and talking like a group of teenage girls.

I moved on up the path. I dragged my feet through the snow, so I wouldn’t slip. I noticed I wasn’t the only one who walked this way in the past twenty-four hours.

The white snow was marred by multiple foot prints, coyotes, opossums, rats, rabbits, deer and raccoons. 

Mother Nature must have had a big party last night.

Corn cobs were scattered under the trees and stripped of their hard kernels. The animal that ate that corn was very patient. The hull was peeled and eaten.  Remnants scattered around like peanut shells.

Off in the distance I could hear the motorized high pitch whine of a snowmobile.  It rose in pitch, lowered then rose up again, over and over. I couldn’t see the vehicle. But, it sounded like someone was having fun as they raced in the fields.

Heavier clouds were moving in, I called for my dog and we headed back home..

Picture From:
http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/canada_geese.htm#info
(Photo by Russell Link.)

Chanukah

 

Happy Chanukah

To all my Jewish Friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chanukia.jpg

The Cold Was Freezing My Brain~ Or, You Can’t Out Run A Werewolf In The Snow~

Yawning, I glanced out the window.  Ice crystals had formed on the outside of the window, my breath steamed up the inside of the glass.

This morning the sun was shining brightly, and diamonds glittered off the pristine white snow. I stood there for a moment, shivered, as I admired the designs in the snow. It looked as though someone had dropped pebbles in water and the white ripples froze in place. They  seemed to appear randomly throughout the yard.  I knew the patterns were formed by very cold ground winds as they jumped from one high patch to the next.

Outside temperature was 0 degrees…

Inside the house I heard the winds howling as they moved under the eves and around the chimney, and then tried to push in through the gaps in the old windows.  I heard the sound of the deck popping from the cold. The boards were freezing.

I grabbed an old purple sweatshirt, pulled it on over my head and shuffled to the kitchen.   Before I do anything I need my morning coffee, at least a sip.  

 A short time later I was standing out at the end of the driveway in three feet of snow. Not too bad, considering yesterdays snow fall. This was soft; at least the snow blower might be able to plow through this.  It will be slow going. All that snow I couldn’t remove yesterday was frozen solid and lined the driveway in slippery uneven miniature icebergs.  

I lowered my scarf from my face and allowed the blast of cold to hit me straight on. It felt like my eyes froze. Ouch!

I made sure no cars were coming and stepped out of the drive looking down the road to the north. The street was a slick, sheet of ice. Then to the south where it was patchy, strips of ice and blacktop.

The winds raced across the road at ground level.  It looked as though someone had put dry ice in the ditch for miles in both directions. A snowy mist poured over the ditch onto the road, and raced along the ground to the other side.  

It did look a bit eerie.

I started laughing, my imagination was running wild, “Keep to the road, don’t walk in the moors, the werewolves will get you!”   Oh! That would look great! Trying to out run anything in this cold would have to happen in slow motion- by both parties.

The cold had to be freezing my brain!  There was no other explanation…

The tips of my fingers were hurting; I curled my hands up in my gloves.

Uriah paced in the snow, lifting one paw then the other. His head was covered in snow. He had been rolling in a snow drift.

“Come on, Uriah! Let’s go back in where it’s warmer.”

Picture From:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Loup-garou.jpg

Music For A Cold Winter Day~

 

The vibrations from the snowblower moved up my arms into my neck. Then crawled down my back and settled in my feet, Pushing the sound and movement back into the ground so it could make its rounds again. Sputtering and choking the machine moved slowly, with me at the helm, though the slush and snow towards the front of the driveway.

I stopped and looked around for my dog; he was off near the pond his head buried in a snowbank as he tried to flush out a rabbit.

 “Hey stupid,” I pulled off my right glove and placed it in my left hand. Then I tried to straighten my knit hat, which sat crooked on my head and covered my eyes and not my ears. 

Uriah looked up.

“Go kill a rat!”  I ordered, and pointed to the left, towards his kennel.

Instead he grinned, a wide doggie grin and started madly digging.

I put back on my glove and held onto the right handgrip, which rotated the auger. My left hand controlled the self-propulsion controls.

Once more, I started the snowblower on its slow tedious path towards the road. The auger pulled in chunks of slush and ice, then pushed it though the impeller up and out of the discharge chute. It should have been thrown out wide onto the side of the driveway. Instead it sort of ‘crapped’ it out, which is what will happen to the blower if I overtax the motor.  

My hat slipped back over my eyes, and my feet slid on the icy slush, still I followed what I thought was the line of the drive.  But, when I looked up, then back.  I saw my path was a drunken line. 

At least it was warmer outside than I thought, just on the other side of thirty degrees. A heat wave!

Uriah came up next to me and sat his butt on the cleared section of blacktop. I stopped walking.  

“What?” I smiled at him, “Oh!  I see you came by to take over for me, right?”

He wiggled and barked at me, then looked directly at my pocket.

I took off my right glove and put my hand in my pocket.  I pulled out the small square-ish stone I had placed in there yesterday.

“You don’t want this.” I held out the rock so Uriah could sniff it.  

He sneezed and looked disappointed.

I slipped the rock back in my pocket and pulled out a milk bone, he jumped up and barked.  I tossed the biscuit towards the pond. Slipped back on my glove, and started the slow, walk with, Chopin’s Funeral March Sonata, stuck in my head.  I didn’t turn around to see if Uriah found the biscuit.

I was forty feet from the road when the winds hit.  A blast of cold air pushed me slightly backwards. I steadied the blower and moved forward.

The farm field across the road looked white and grey. Winds whipped up the fallen and falling snow and threw it at me. 

 Dark brown tree branches were coated white with the frozen snow.  As the winds moved around the trees, they sounded like a thick glass full of marbles being shaken. 

I pulled my scarf around my face and over my nose.  

Patiently, I waited until the cars on the road had passed by.  Then I stepped out onto the edge of the driveway.   I tried to clear the  mound of packed snow that the snow plow had dumped on the end of the drive. I glanced at my black mail box it was covered half way in ice, and slush. It was standing! It was a good day! 

Every time I spotted a car, I pulled back and waited. The drivers in this area seem to think bad weather means drive faster and pass everyone, even in the no passing zone.   

That’s the reason my mailbox ended up in the ditch -multiple times last winter!

 I took off my right glove again, and straightened my hat, yet again.  I watched as the winds pick up more force and shove the snow into drifts on and across the road.

I live on a stretch of road called, tornado alley. I can literally watch the winds as they gust across the road. Right now, that heavy wind was near the northern section of that road. It moved like a horizontal tornado.

I could see the line of winds pushing across the fields; Old Man Winter with his cheeks puffed out, a twinkle in his eye laughed like a madman. 

The cars passed.  I started my slow walk back down the drive, as my face froze, and the winds played tag with the blowing snow…

Picture from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Morozko.gif

How Many Rocks Can My Pockets Hold?~

Written on December 7th, 2009~

 Earlier this morning when I took my dog out for a walk, the air was a mist of grey fog. The sun was a haze in the early morning sky. When I first glanced up, I thought the Sun was the Moon, defused in the grey mist and entangle in the dense cloud cover. My breath and the fog were inseparable.  

It had snowed during the night. Everything was covered in white. Each branch was coated, in a perfect holiday photo shoot. The ground was frozen so even the driveway was paved white.

I stayed near the house, and planned on walking out back later in the day.

It was nearly four o’clock in the afternoon by the time I decided to take a walk. The snow was no longer coating the trees. Only lines of snow zigzagged across the lawn   

Uriah took off in the trees, angrily barking.  He reappeared in front of me, only to follow the tracks of a grey squirrel. Whose residence is in the trees at the beginning of the path.

 The air was cold yet tolerable. I had forgotten my gloves back by the house and my fingers weren’t freezing, so I was happy. I started walking to the right, where the ground moves upward on a slight incline. Directly in the center of the path a small, three inch evergreen had taken root. I never saw it before.  I made a mental note to remember and check on it in spring.  If it really was growing on the path I’ll need to transplant it.

 I continued on my way. When I reached the far back and started to circle home, I stopped to admire the old farm house and its red barn, equally sized white Silos and smaller buildings all built up together like a castle, the surrounding grass and turned over fields, patterned shades of brown, yellow, green, and beige.  The sections were the last rain fell washed the dirt to a dark black.  White snow striped the empty corn fields.

I could see for miles…  

Faded green grass still stood out in the farmer’s air field. Along the air field, past forty acres of plowed fields, I watched Black Angus cows. They moved slowly into a fenced in field. 

Off to the northeast, I could see helicopter hovering in the direction of the express way.

Uriah started to bark, as  I walked  back, I kept calling  his name, and he kept answering by barking- not by appearing.

I reached the part of the path, that was directly across from where I saw the little evergreen, at the beginning of my walk.  I stopped and poked the dirt with my ski pole, it gave way. I called to Uriah each call I stabbed the pole at the dirt, I hit a rock!

Curiosity got the better of me.  I stood there digging out this little rock, which lay just under the dirt and field grass. It was a slight tipsy square flat rock, to my eye it was nearly perfect. With the thought of crafting something, maybe checkers.  I slipped it into my pocket as Uriah barked again.

At that point I looked down, and found another little evergreen growing on the path.

The grass all around me had given up trying to reach for the sky and laid level with the ground, sleeping until spring.   I walked back a few feet searching for more of the little saplings. I found six more going in the center of the path.

Uriah’s barking became more agitated; I started walking back towards home. Every few feet I called him and he answered back, I felt like I was playing ‘Marco Polo’ with him.

Picture from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blackangus.jpg

“The Best Laid Schemes O’ Mice An’ Men Go Often Askew”~Robert Burns

Yesterday  morning,  I was up with the sun. I opened the window blinds next to the computer, the window that faces east and I watched the sunrise.  A blanket of Altostratus clouds covered half the sky, rippling from the sunset towards the west.

  Along the horizon a narrow strip of pinkish, reddish, sunrise slipped through the break in the clouds and spread upwards, weaving under and over the clouds.  Then peeked out to outline the ripple of clouds in a yellow, white, and pink tinge, all the while the clouds raced, from west to east, along the southern skyline.

Kenshin, my half Siamese male, jumped effortlessly onto the windowsill. He settled his hind legs, with a wiggle, positioning himself on the ledge.  The tip of his tail flipped as he stared outside.

Kenshin’s sister, Tomoe, jumped up next to him in perfect pantomime.  With a flip of her tail she sat beside him. Her shining black fur rolled in irritation.   They both turned, two set of eyes followed my every move, his light blue and her bright gold eyes.   

 Loosing interest in me, they turned back to the window and watched a rat hopping around the outside kennel.  Their mouths quivered.  An odd sound came from both of them. He made a high pitch growling meowing sound. She kept opening and closing her mouth with a smacking sound. They both stared out the window, then back at me, willing me to open the window so they could do what cats do best…  Hunt!

“No, Kenshin! No, Tomoe, I have to trap those rats myself.” 

I don’t know if they understood what I said, or just got tired of wishing after a rat,  when I added, “No outside!” They both jumped down, and Kenshin gave me downward frown.  Tomoe just glared, as she flashed those golden eyes.   They both ran out of the room giving me a backward, scowl. A teenage girl couldn’t have done that look any better.  

One rat, was an irritation, I counted six! They aren’t big. About the size of my hand, but they have to go!  Just figuring out how is the problem.

 I Googled, “How to kill a rat humanely.”

One site said, use poison.  Nope not an option!  I don’t want to kill the Hawks and Owls that hunt around here. Beside the obvious, poison can kill my cat or dog if they eat the dieing rat.

If a poisoned rat gets caught in the walls, Well, that smell will be horrible. I  wondered what would happen if it died, lying on the dirt of my garden and I didn’t see it until spring. Wouldn’t that poison leach into the soil? Big, emphatic, “Yes”  answers that question.

 I found, ‘Rat Zappers.’ on Amazon.  Electrocute the rat starting at forty dollars and up. I checked my purse, no money, on to the next idea.

I found a site, that had the stomp and squish method- it says it all.

There is the bee bee gun method. I looked at the windows and the chain link fence and saw how that could go wrong.

The best, economical rat trap is a cat.  If the rat stays outside, and my cats stay only indoors, they won’t come in direct contact with each other.  But if they ever come inside, they will be used as a squeaky toy. The proximity factor just knocked Kenshin and Tomoe out of the equation. 

I have a live catch trap in the barn. I decided that would be the best first try, for now. Besides I won’t need to pay for the supplies.

I headed for the barn, and dug out the trap and placed it in Uriah’s kennel. I put some of his food on the inside platform, which in theory is suppose to close the door when the rat steps on it.  That’s the plan.

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Go often askew,” ~ Robert Burns’s poem, ‘To a Mouse.’

I had three rats in the cage; they were walking all over that platform. And it never triggered the cage door…

I went back outside and tried to loosen the piece of metal.  Then I placed a board across the platform, with food perched on top.

I went back into the house and watched. Not one of those rats came near the cage. I will leave the trap outside all night.

I just hope I don’t catch a skunk…

I got my 1,000 hit on my site today..Thank you guys! Comment and ask me to add you to my BlogRoll:-)

Jones & Son, The rat trap people
http://www.rattraps.org.uk/Rat-Traps/about.aspx
Rat Zapper
http://www.amazon.com/s?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=rat+zapper+ultra
Robert Burns World Federation
http://www.worldburnsclub.com/poems/translations/554.htm

Seduced By The Silver Moon~

 

Photo by Rebecca Novak~ http://www.examiner.com/x-14505-Atlanta-Pet-Health-Examiner?showbio

After midnight on December 6, 2009, I couldn’t help myself. I had the lights out in the kitchen and I stared out onto the dark moonlit lawn. I felt a need to stand outside, in the dark, in the cold, alone.

The deck held that silvery glow that lit up the yard, and ironically darkened the shadows even more.  Ice glittered, scattered around the deck, haphazardly, always with one of the floor boards frosted with snow, seemly standing guard over the shimmering silver.  The railings on the north side were frosted white, while the east balustrade bathed in light as the wood showed through.

Wrapping my robe tighter around my waist I slipped outside. I should go in and grab my coat, but I had the feeling if I did I would miss out.  The moon would disappear behind a cloud and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this second.

 So I stayed.  Shivering I walked to the edge of the deck.  I looked upward, at the waning gibbous moon sitting in that hypnotic sky glowing white.  The sky around it was a dark, dark blue grey.  Farther east, the skyline glowed into a whitish, grayish, and peach, with streaks of grey cloud rising above the horizon everything was standing still. The sky was dotted with stars, only the brightest competed with the moon light.  

The constellation Cassiopeia, was sitting brightly in the west earlier tonight. Somewhere around seven PM,  I had been standing out in the driveway, staring at the sky, as I waited for my dog.  At that time, I couldn’t even see the moon, it rose late.  Now, I’m facing east and the stars and the moon are above me, bathing everything in silver light.

I heard a large animal moving around inside the trees. The wood of the Bog Willows snapped, as it moved none too gently though them. I told myself it was a deer, and continued to stand on the deck.  

The white snow glowed on the lower deck, in the grass, the burn pile, and painted patches skimmed in and out of the shadows throughout the yard. Slipping under the trees and crossing the fence line into the plowed fields.

The trees were black marks in the shadows. Beyond them I could see the glow of farm houses, crossing acres of farm fields.  The closest farm to the northeast had a blinking red light, a warning beacon for the farmer, for when he flew his Cessna in the dark. The further away the farms were, the less bright the lights.  Most only had on their outside night lights to keep away the wild animals.

The faint smell of manure and hay, wafted around the cold, still air. Night air has a different scent, at least for me, so completely different than the daylight hours. The night holds excitement, adventure! A need to explore! Possibilities move in-between the shadows. My wander lust kicks in…

I shivered. I didn’t want to step back in the house; this was too beautiful to turn away from. I told myself, just a few more minutes.  I looked back up into the sky, I got lost, as the ground disappeared and the stars pulled me upward…

The Horizon Touches The Sky

I wrote this May 1, 2007- I re-edited today-

I live in the mid west, so the horizon touches the sky

Not like in the Rockies where the land raises up to the heavens

 I was walking my dogs, and feeling down…

 Zeus and Uriah ran off to chase a chipmunk… 

Sampson walked slowly next to me

He had a hard day today

The heavy air brought on grand maul seizures, three to be exact

The bump on his head was larger

So he was moving slowly

I parroted him as we made our way around the yard

I turned and looked into the setting sun

With my hand on Sampson’s head

We stood, and watched 

The sky was bright with orange streaks

With shadowy clouds below

That barely touched the tree line on the horizon

Darker clouds stretched out in a half circle then moved outward

I kept staring, thinking

I was missing something

Something bigger than myself

The colors were changing, glowing pink then deeper red

The darker clouds stayed in the same pattern

I felt I was on a shoreline

Looking out over water

Off to the right a pier stretched out into the waves

And then beyond that, more water until it reached the far shore

At this moment, this place was real

It existed

This place of deep heavy colors

Gold, orange, reds and pinks, dark blue and purples

Colors blanketed me, with hope

Sampson sighed…

Then moving slowly in the fading light

He headed to the pond

Where he hesitated

For only a second

Then stepped into the mirror like water

Startling a duck that flew off quacking towards the setting sun

The Frogs stayed and shared his swim

Thirsty, he drank from the pond, loud and sloppy

Then slowly, extricated himself from the muddy bottom

He turned and looked up at me

Pleased I was there

Then raced up the bank

Flopped onto the green grass and

Rolled around like he was in heaven

 

 

*Sampson had to be put to sleep because of a brain tumor; December 5, 2007 . 

This dog literally saved my life. I will write about that. He was  smart, sweet, gentle and very big.

My Walking Path