Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kitty Love

I spent my early years on a farm with a barn full of cats. My sister and I looked forward to searching for litters of kittens tucked between the bales of straw in the hay mow of the barn. We'd watch for mama kitty to come out when we'd bring food to them and then go searching.

Sticking your hand into the dark hole to feel for kittens was done with trepidation. You knew eventually the kittens would sense a stranger and start hissing. They were harmless but had an instinct built in to scare off predators by hissing. The sound was intimidating and would make us quickly pull our hands out the first couple of times. We'd laugh and eventually realize it wouldn't hurt and start pulling out kittens one by one. They were each little presents. What color were they going to be? What patterns would they have? How many were there?

It didn't take long before the kittens eyes would open and hours would be spent playing with them and making toys out of sticks and twine string. SisterJ and I usually had scratched up hands and arms from playful kittens. What great memories.

Now we take care to make sure our barn cats are spayed, neutered and vaccinated yearly. They also know about life indoors since on cold nights they get to stay toasty warm in my office. Crash (a.k.a. Little Man, Itchy and Ouch!) & Burn (a.k.a. Sissy, Naughty McSnotty and Tweetie) are our two outside cats. They usually come by my office door and meow to come in for a visit and to play with their bowl of toys.

Here's some kitty love for you. Having a bad day? Feeling stressed? Blood pressure on the rise? Hit play on the video below and listen to the kitten's purr. You'll be breathing normal in no time...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rhubarb & Asparagus: The First Crops

I dusted off my cutting basket, grabbed a scissors and went after the first crop of the spring; asparagus and rhubarb. Rico supervised. Am looking forward to rhubarb cake and some asparagus sauteed in a little butter and orange zest with our meal.

The lilacs and crabapple tree blossoms are about to bloom. I look forward to having vases of cut lilacs around and burying my nose in them. We have a new spot in the yard plowed up for a vegetable garden. I haven't had one for quite a few years. I'm not overdoing it but want to plant enough tomatoes and beets to do some canning. I love that my Mom taught us how to grow and preserve our own food. It feels like an empowerment. Thanks Mom!

I <3 Toothpaste for Dinner

toothpaste for dinner

Friday, May 16, 2008

An Epic Year

Last month I turned 44. It's a significant age for my family. I am the youngest of five so my two brothers and two sisters have been through their 44th years already. We didn't talk to each other much about how they felt turning 44 but I imagine they thought about it as much as I have.

I've been thinking a lot about my previous 43 years. Have I lived a good life? How would I be remembered if I was gone tomorrow? What can I do better with the next 43 years (if I'm lucky enough to get 43 more years)? I want to live an interesting life, take some risks and touch some people's hearts along the way.

What's bringing this all on you ask? You see, 35 years ago this month, my Dad died from a heart attack at age 44. Because of this, I will do my best to treat the years I get to live after these first 44 as gifts.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our Weird Birds

I have the door open to my shop this morning. The birds are making all kinds of noise today so I'm enjoying their calls. We have a group of starlings (at least I think they're starlings) that come back every year and nest in an old, unused chimney on the house. They're sitting in the pine trees by my office door making all kinds of strange noises.

Their noises are why I question if they're starlings or maybe mockingbirds. But it surely makes me wonder where they spend their winters to pick up such noises. I think one of their stops must be a zoo in Florida. I hear them making sounds of monkeys and dolphins along with frogs, geese, red tailed hawks and other noises that I'm sure if I stop trying so hard, I'll realize what they are imitating.

I've tried to capture their sound on the video recorder on my digital camera but it hasn't worked out. The blue jays butt in or the dog decides to bark and drowns out their sounds. Nevertheless, I'm enjoying the sounds and the 60-something degree temps out there on this sunshiny day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Trillium Have Arrived

A sure sign warm weather is on it's way here in Wisconsin, the trillium are in bloom. Trillium is the state flower and is protected. I learned this the first summer after I moved here. I first saw the flowers while on a walk on a wooded road behind our house. They were beautiful and covered the floor of the woods. I was going to see my friend for her birthday and thought it would be a lovely gift to give her a bouquet of these plentiful flowers. Shortly after, I learned they are protected and not to be picked. Oops! Apparently the plant is severely damaged by picking the flower as it's the food source for the plant. I also learned that it's seeds are spread by mice and ants. I've learned to hold back my urge to pick a bouquet of these wildflowers and rather enjoy them in their natural state. The photos below are from a walk in the woods behind our home a couple of springs ago. Happy Spring!

The friend I brought the illegally picked petals to is Riley over at the blog, Licking Calcutta. It is her birthday today and as usual, I didn't get a card in the mail in time. Go over and have a read and wish her a happy birthday.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lost A Good Friend Today

Climber - 1989 to 2008

If you didn't do the math, he was 19 years old. Quite an achievement for a barn cat. He had the best of both worlds though in his later years. He became my co-worker here in my office. Lounging away his days on a blanket on my reclining chair until he needed fresh air and would sit by the door until I got the hint. He spent his last 2 years teaching Rico that cat's can hurt his nose and that he's really not the boss, teaching the other kittens how to be good barn cats and teaching us how much we were going to miss him some day. This day.

We'll be reminiscing a lot around here...Remember how he would climb a ladder as soon as you set one up? Remember when we hired that guy to re-shingle our house and Climber climbed the ladder alongside the house, hopping up to the second story and jumping up on the roofers' back? Remember when you shot that pigeon at the top of the silo and Climber jumped off the edge of the silo and grabbed on and rode the dead bird down 12 feet to the bottom of the silo? Remember how he would Climb up your body to get to your shoulder all winter with our heavy coats on only to have to teach him he shouldn't do it in the summertime with our light clothing? Remember how he went on walks with us? Remember how he tested everyone's lap at our bonfire parties? Remember when we caught him nursing on our very pregnant German Shepherd? It goes on and on. He was our Mufasa, king of the hill, and we will miss him dearly.