Monday, June 30, 2014

STAYCATING DAY 2: Monday, June 23

STAYCATING DAY 2: Monday, June 23

Mike and I (and the dogs, of course) came back to the farm today, and the most wonderful thing happened! Clearwater Power upgraded our satellite internet. Heretofore our connection has been s-l-o-o-o-o-w.  Posting to the blog was problematic. We couldn't watch videos. But no more! The upgrade is fast. But – I digress. This story is about last week when the dogs and I were “home alone.”

Did I mention that staycating includes a reward? Yes, it does. I’m considering that even as I write.

Well – “to continue and go on,” as Grandma Ina would say -- we slept well last night – apparently all of us. The rowdy coyote clan evidently moved on. I awoke on my own at 6:50 – that’s late -- and found Nellie on the “porch pillow” and Bess resting in the grass by the cistern. Their habit is to come into the house while we have breakfast, but after “good mornings” and hugs all around, Nellie asked to go back out and Bess followed. I would have expected them to beg for their morning walk, but instead, they seemed to disappear. I was concerned when I didn’t find them in the yard or at the pond, but when I whistled, they came from the north field.
That’s when it occurred to me that there was something in the north field – probably a deer carcass. But I tell you what – I wasn’t going to wade out there through tick-laden, knee-high wheat to investigate. We went on for our morning hike, which went well and was uneventful.

Five days of “home alone with dogs” seems overwhelming, but I know from experience that the time will pass quickly. I must keep moving forward with what I want to accomplish. I’m making a number of doll outfits and accessories for Emmy’s sixth birthday (July 6), now in varying states of finished. I'm having a good time.

As I sew, I listen to a podcast, The War, by Adam Graham who works out of Boise. I was born after WWII and I really don’t know much about the war or how it was on the home front. The podcast is not just about the war per se but also the political climate and public sentiment, etc., all illustrated by radio programming produced during the era. It can be hard to take. Sometimes I skip through the program to the commentary.

For weeks I’ve listened as the crop duster worked his way down the ridge. Eeeeee-ow-errrr. Today he came here making pass after pass over June’s field. I didn’t think he sprayed on this side of the lane, but maybe he did. He left and didn’t return.

Mike called this evening. He was cheerful and said that things went well. An email message an hour later was titled “problems.” He had noticed his back tire was going. He had replaced the front tire last week, so he must have expected the back tire to withstand this trip. KW

Saturday, June 28, 2014

STAYCATION DAY 1 -- Sunday, June 22

Mike returned yesterday (Friday, June 27) from a six-day “motocaching” adventure through southern Montana counties on his Triumph Street Triple R. The dogs and I “staycated” at the farm.

Sunday (June 22) began with an early walk at the dog park with Nellie, Bess, and poor Pepper who is once again boarded. Back at home, Mike and I got ready for our separate adventures.

“It’s easier to get ready when you’re leaving at 10:00 than when you’re leaving at 6:00,” Mike noted. So true. We just puttered along, packing this and that, taking out the trash, wiping counters, etc.

Before he left, I asked Mike to load the dogs in the pick-up for me. Nell can use a boost now, and I’m not quite coordinated for it. Dressed in his heavy motorcycle duds and helmet, he complied with my request. Then, with a wave, he was off. I made one final check of the house, and the dogs and I were also on our way – after a quick stop at Jo-Ann’s to pick up buttons and yard ornaments. (Yard ornaments were 70% off. Should have bought more.)

The dogs seemed fine when they disembarked at the farm. I didn’t see much of them for the hour it took me to unpack and get settled. But in the afternoon, Nellie’s weirdness began to come out. She sat and looked at me with soulful eyes. “No, he isn’t here,” I tried to explain. “Mike didn’t come, but we’ll have a great time.” I could see she didn’t believe me. Perhaps it was a mistake that she didn’t see Mike actually leave.

“Mike?” said Bess. “Oh yeah – fun guy. He isn’t here. Shall we go to the pond?”

Nellie’s attitude was unsettling, especially since I saw something else in those eyes. What does she know? -- I wondered. Adding to my discomfiture, a doe trotted right through the side yard (south) – a gutsy move while we’re here. What would possess her to take the chance? A fawn?

I had to call Bess and Nellie for the afternoon walk. They seemed happy enough to go, but at the apple tree in the lane, Nellie sniffed the air and disappeared into the growing wheat. I figured she would eventually rejoin and I walked on to catch up with Bess, who was on point and waiting for me. As I approached, a doe jumped up and ran off. I was relieved when Bess obeyed my command to stay.

Back at the yard, Nellie didn’t show up until I whistled for her, arriving from the north field. Again, she seemed to know something she wasn’t communicating. Both dogs ate and settled for their evening naps.

I talked to Mike this evening. He was in Missoula. All was well. And Hallie called to tell me that they had been out to dinner with friends when they spotted a celebrity at another table.

At 9:00, I called it the official bedtime and brushed the dogs’ teeth. (At the approach of the brush, Nellie puts her snout on the floor, but little Bess lifts her head and bares her teeth for the brushing. So funny!)

About 9:30, a cacophony arose. Coyotes! Last week Mike remarked that he had never seen coyote sign so close to the yard. Thinking of the dogs – especially the exuberant Bess -- I dropped my crocheting and ran to the kitchen porch, where both dogs had been resting on pillows. Nellie again looked at me with knowing eyes and ambled off to her house in the woodshed, but Bess was nervous and clearly upset. “Woof” – she addressed the darkness uncertainly, but she stayed on the porch.

In about 20 minutes, I heard the coyotes again – off to the northwest. Bess was unnerved but stayed on the porch. And then I went on to bed. . . KW

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


“Windsor Button Shop” is the name on the little white sack. Inside are six little white buttons with green elephants on them. The little sack has been around for years, and clearly it was mine since the shop locations were in the Boston area, but the reason for the purchase was lost to memory. And then those memories came flooding back . . .

It was 1973 and my special friend Chris (residing in Idaho with her husband) was expecting her first baby. I was working in the Boston area at the time. I made this darling (if I do say so myself) little boy sweater set in an odd shade of green. (It was the ‘70s, remember.) Fortunately her baby was a boy. (I finished up the girl sweater the next year for her next baby, a girl. It worked out so great!)

But I digress. Buttons for the little boy sweater were just the excuse I needed to visit the Windsor Button Shop at the Braintree mall. I selected cute little buttons from one of the many button drawers, and the clerk put them in that little white sack. Alas! When I showed the buttons to the sweater, the green of the elephants was too yellow. At the time I was very disappointed. I think I finally just went with plain white baby buttons.

And now it’s today, 40 years later, and I still have those “elephant” buttons in the little white sack, and they still feel special, and they still aren't right for my current project.

As I sat and looked at the sack and the buttons, I wondered about the Windsor Button Shop. Were they still in business? So, I googled “Windsor Button Shop,” and to my surprise, the downtown Boston store, the original shop and the last one remaining, closed just last year – February 2013. (You can read the Boston Globe story about the Windsor Button Shop here.)

Well, I feel a little sad about that closure even though my experience with the shop was brief – and long ago – and far away. I was not a frequent visitor there, but I totally agree with those shoppers who miss the hominess and service of that little shop. KW

Monday, June 23, 2014


Happy summer! Last week was cold and wet. We passed it at the farm with just our two dogs. Sometimes as I watched the fog float through the gullies and draws, I had to remind myself that summer was just around the corner. The rule of thumb here is that you can’t count on summer until after the Fourth of July. Sometimes we just have a cool summer.
Farmer Kyle said we could use some rain, and he got his wish. An article in Friday’s (June 20) Lewiston Tribune said that the rain had indeed saved the region’s winter wheat crops, some of which had been stressed by lack of spring moisture. Apparently the rainfall was sufficient to assure a good crop.

Speaking of the weather, now that we have weather apps at our fingertips, we seem to demand ever-increasing accuracy. Mike reads the hourly forecasts for rain, wind, and temp, especially if he plans an outdoor activity. He recently switched weather apps – from “The Weather Channel” to “Weather Underground,” which he finds more accurate. As far as I’m concerned, the weatherman has always been unreliable. Perhaps he’s making an effort to improve, but I don’t trust him.

We have a digital “weather station” on the farm – in town, too, for that matter. At the farm we especially enjoy watching wind velocity and the rain gauge, but those are broken now. I suggested we buy a new unit, preferably one that does not require that Mike access the barn roof to install the wind gauge. So, he’s shopping and hopefully there’s an updated “weather station” in our future.

I have adorned this post with pictures of the wild roses at Gilbert. Hallie pruned the bush back of the house two years ago, and this year it’s so large and prolific you can’t tell. I’m not sure it improves a wild rose bramble to prune it, but I can attest that it certainly did no harm. It is blooming vigorously. [These two photos show last week's bloom compared to this week.]

I still want to take a start from the beautiful yellow rose out on the road. The neighbor says it originally came from West Virginia – or was it South Carolina? He couldn’t remember. But when those homesteaders sold out and moved on, many of the neighbors took starts. I should be able to do it. It’s just a matter of taking a cutting, starting it in a pot, and then transplanting successfully. Simple, right? KW

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Friday, June 13, we went into town. We dropped Pepper off at the pris - er, boarding facility first thing. We just don’t have room to keep her in town. I’m reminded of that line from It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World where Ginger Culpepper says of her daughter Billie Sue: “You keep forgetting if a girl is six-feet-five inches tall, she's bound to have special problems.”
Once we had settled into the town house, I checked on Bess and Nellie and found them napping -- so tired after four days of romping with Pepper.

And below is an out-of-focus picture of Bess cuddling with Mike.

Saturday evening we put the dogs to bed early and drove out to the “event center” at the casino for the Don Williams’ concert. I figure the average age of those in attendance was probably 70. Yes, we were an older crowd. Amazing what they ask – and get – for concert tickets these days, especially considering the venue was nothing extra. But we enjoyed it. You have to do things or you get so you can’t do things.

Sunday we picked up Pepper from the “facility” and took her for a brief run – brief because she had to be returned within the hour or we’d have to keep her. If we didn’t run her, she would get virtually no exercise while incarcer – er, boarded. In fact, she is so hyper that they sedate her there. We took her to a dog-friendly hiking spot in our neighborhood. Naturally, Nell and Bess (and I) went along.
In town, the dogs will sleep in until 6:30 or so on long days, and even when they want out, they’re fairly quiet about it. At the farm, however, Nellie whines insistently at the door at 5:00 – 5:30 if I’m lucky. Bess lets Nell do all the work of attracting attention while she romps around the yard until the door opens. Once they’re inside, Bess takes over the begging. I do fine with the 5:30 timeline, but I struggle to stay awake after 8:30 p.m.

The dogs get plenty of walks at the farm.  The other day, Mike walked them down the lane after lunch. I went along, thinking that would suffice as the daily walk and during his bike ride I would have some time to myself. Wrong! Once he rode out of the yard, they demanded their usual walk. Bess whined and vocalized while Nellie stretched out on the floor to mope. How can you argue with that? So we headed out for a little exploration. KW