Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Holidays 2010

Christmas holiday so far has yielded lots of completed projects. The kids have gone to Louisiana so I thought I'd get some things done while the house is less active.
Before this past week, the plans were to finish the floors in the living room. But the horses ran off over the mountain again, so everything was re-arranged and containing them became the priority.
It snowed Christmas day. The neighbor at the camp adjacent to us called to say the horses were over there by the dome houses. Retrieving them took most of the day.
That night, after resting a little while, I went to Gab's house and we put together her playpen and bassinet.
Sunday meant I had to go into work so that I could take more time off during the week to finish building the winter pen for Snippy. If I keep him penned, then the other two horses won't go far away.
It's Monday and the pen is done and appears to be holding. I hope when I wake up tomorrow morning, they're still here and not back over the mountain again!
Here are a few pics from the little snow we got. These are from the top of the mountain behind the house:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Full Lunar Eclipse

Totality begins tonight, after midnight (really Tuesday morning) at 1:41 CT. If you want to see the whole sequence you’ll have to get outside earlier, around 00:30.

This is the first time we’ve had a full lunar eclipse at winter solstice in over 300 years, and it won’t happen again for more than 90 years. The moon promises to be a reddish hue, making it all the more surreal to see.

It’s a true once in a lifetime event for most of us, and I plan to be watching if the sky is clear.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wayward Trio

When the horses aren't by the hay or at the house every morning for their rations, I usually figure they've found a way out and have taken off for a hike. Since Thursday I haven't seen them. This morning, I went to look for them, hoping they weren't on the other mountain again.

They weren't far away. Not in the first place I looked, but at least the second, and I didn't have to make the long hike up the mountain and over the pass to get them from the other side of my world at least.

Actually, they can stay where they are for a while. They found a way into an area we usually keep fenced off for gardening and my sons have a deer food plot up there. None of that is in use during this time of year and there's still grass for them to eat, so I just took this picture and left the gate open on my way out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cold, Blustery day

It's a cold, blustery day here in the Ozarks. Wind is gusting and the wind chill is down to around 7*F...pretty chilly!

Last night I was battling a virus on my computer and today I got rid of InternetExplorer altogether and that seems to have been the fix. Now I'm using Avant for my browser and so far, so good.

Today I realized I forgot to leave the water running last night. It will be Wednesday before it warms enough to thaw my upstairs lines now. Someone remembered to turn it on downstairs last night, thank goodness, so at least we have water somewhere.

It's a good day to stay inside.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's all Relative

This morning I was overly warm in bed when I woke up. I wondered if I'd accidentally left the heater on too high, but no, all was as it should have been.

The air in the room was just warmer, and it wasn't as cold in the living room as it usually is, either.

I carried out the morning duties with much less chill than usual, as lately it's been in the low-20's when I get up and the first thing I do is warm up the kitchen so it's easier to coax Garrison out of bed to get dressed.

Fed the animals, started the jeep, though I didn't think it really needed so long to warm up this morning, since it wasn't so cold.

Finally we get out of the house and down the driveway when I looked at the thermometer. Well, no wonder I was warm. It was a piping 34*F this morning, instead of the usual 20-something.

Haha, it amazes me how much difference a few degrees and levels of humidity make in how the temperature feels. I was surprised that it was still only 34 and I felt comfortable. That's a big change in attitude for a (former) south Louisiana girl.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Chilly in the Ozarks

Today's a pretty day outside, but also pretty chilly. It's around 45*F and fairly windy so I didn't stay outside long. Tomorrow's high is only the upper 30's.

Garrison and Loretta went to town to bring out the garbage and I was watching Chloe while taking a break from writing and editing an article on earthquakes in the Ozarks.

This is the view from the swing under the old white oak tree:

And this is the view of Chloe while she's in the carrier. Cute little peep eyes:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunrise to sunset

I had a great time visiting family and friends during the Thanksgiving weekend. Today was the long trip home.

After a few hours on the road we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise, just south of the Moorehouse parish line on Hwy 425.

Eight hours later, a less than spectacular sunset at home. Haha, sometimes it gets prettier, but today, I'm just glad to be home after a full day of driving.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Early November Color

My favorite picture from this set is the one on the title of this blog. The red leaf with light shining through it reminded me of stained glass windows.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

It's Official

Zack and Loretta were married on Oct. 31, in a private ceremony at Bradshaw Mountain Church in Kingston, AR. Next fall, they're going to have a public ceremony and reception for family and friends.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Colors, late October 2010

It was 27*F down by the camper this morning. And if I'd had my camera with me on the way to work, I would have been very late trying to get pictures of all the beautiful scenes I encountered. On the hill ahead of the beaver lake bridge on Hwy 412, the colors were stunning. Mist was rising from the river and the sun was illuminating the hillside on the west bank - beautiful.

Here are some pictures from last weekend. Not sure how much longer the leaves will cling to the trees before leaving them naked for winter.

Baby chloe is gaining some weight. She was a little over 6 lb when she went for her check-up earlier during the week. Loretta is doing great and Zack is too. If you are on Facebook, I know Loretta posts pictures and updates fairly often.

Baby Keigan (girl to be) is definitely showing on Gabrielle now. I'll try to get pictures of all the kids posted this weekend. You might not even recognize Garrison. He's getting tall...might even be taller than me now, or at least he says he is. I think his shoes were taller than mine.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Colors

Color is beginning to come in now, each day bringing new hues to the fore. I'll try to get some more later today. These are from several days ago now.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Today brings reflections on my 'grandmother' status. Except it's really a 'MawMaw' status, since in our family the grandmother is a generation older than the mawamaw, lol.

Chloe' Annette Cook arrived safely into the world yesterday around 11:30 a.m. She weighed 5lb 11oz and is healthy, just small. Late yesterday evening there was some concern with her breathing, and today we'll find out more what the doctors meant by that. (update: all is cleared and both baby and mother are going home today.)

For a little while during delivery, I thought we were going to lose Zack, but he held up and had recovered enough to cut the cord when it was all done.

Chloe's birthday is very close to Lillie's birthday. Lillie is my first grandbaby, born to Amanda Stanton, Gary's oldest daughter. She's turning 3 on Monday. I don't see Lillie very often because I live up here and they live down in LA.

And early next year, Gabrielle will produce the third grandbaby, hopefully not during a February ice storm.

I'm afraid I'm not a very motherly mother (not the 'Betty Crocker' kind who bakes cookies, lol), and even farther from a grandmotherly grandmother. But seeing how they're all beginnning to pile up now, I might ought to begin doing more of whatever it is that mawmaws are supposed to be doing.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Baby Chloe'

She's on her way, finally. We've been at the hospital since about 3 a.m. and things are progressing... even if a little slowly.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Fall Colors

This morning I could see on the hillsides a golden cast. The colors are getting ready. Sunkist tips of maple leaves are turning now, and before long the whole tree will be ablaze in a translucent red glow. Those are my favorites.

But the bright gold of the sycamores in contrast with their white limbs and peeling trunks catch my eye, too. Can't overlook the deep reds of dogwoods, either.

Soon the Ozarks will be washed in color. It's looking like this year will be a banner year for color and I'm getting my camera batteries charged.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Having a Little Fun

Finally, the rain came down in enough quantity to get the creeks flowing again.

As we headed out the other morning, on our usual jaunt down the county road toward school and work, I dodged a large puddle.

“Aw mom, why didn’t you speed up and hydroplane it!” he cried. This drew a sharp look from me.

He was truly dismayed. I was absolutely mortified.

“Hmmm. It’s going to be a while before you can get your permit.”

That little exchange did get me thinking though. There was a time when my first instinct would have been to splash joyfully through it, and I have experienced the sheer fear and adrenaline rush of hydroplaning (not that it’s something I’d repeat…)

My first instinct was to go around the puddle, and it was his to go straight through.

So when we came upon the next big puddle, we did make a mess. Muddy water splattered all the way up to the windshields. And it was fun and he was satisfied even if we didn’t skate the surface :)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Making Do

Let me tell you about my morning yesterday.

We got up, fed animals and left the house on time for change.

A little ways down the road I heard a new rattle on the old jeep. I call this jeep 'Frankenjeep' because it's been pieced together by my mechanic with 'make-do' parts more than once. The entire front end is held in place with cable ties.

But it runs and it's 4wd, so I keep it. And it gets me up and down the long, rough county road so I don't have to do that to my car anymore.

Anyway, the rattle started. I turned to Garrison and said "that doesn't sound good..." and he said, "yeah, sounds like something is dragging."

We were about a mile from the house, still within walking distance from the house. Decided to take a look, rather than ignore it and pretend nothing new was wrong.

So the driver's side shock is loose on the rear end and dragging the ground behind us.

What to do? I don't want to drive the rest of the 10 miles or so with it dragging, and backing up to turn around might make it catch under there somehow.

So I thought we'd just tie it to the frame. But with what? I searched the back of the jeep and couldn't find one thing that looked like it would work. No hay string thrown on side of the road, like it usually is, either.

Except for one long tube sock...

And so I drove the poor jeep into town with the shock tied up with a sock.

So stop laughing - it worked!

The guys at work said I have raised the bar for redneck ingenuity. Again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moonlit Mornings

So many signs of Fall in the air these days, especially in the mornings. Yesterday, it was 50* as I went out to feed animals before work.

A couple days ago, something happened that happens every year. It is one of my favorite markers of the passing of another year.

Until it happens each year, I don’t realize I’d missed doing it. I had to feed the horses by moonlight because it was still dark outside at 6 a.m.

There’s something special about pre-dawn moonlit mornings. Whippoorwill are active, calling to their mates. The horses give a gentle snicker when they see me step out onto the balcony; they want to make sure I know they are indeed there and awaiting breakfast rations. And the chill in the air hearkens Fall.

And so I go down the hill in the dark, exercising faith that I’ll not step wrong on loose rocks I can’t see and wind up on the ground. It happens sometimes.

Comanche always comes out to meet me. I like to press my face against his neck and breathe in his scent, but I know he is just waiting for me to get on with the greeting and begin the feeding instead. Snippy and Shasta stand by, older and more tolerant, but nonetheless impatiently waiting.

Finding black rubber food bowls in twilight or moonlight isn’t as easy as navigating the hill, though, and I wish there were little light beacons on them to make them easier to see.

Finally, food is dispensed to each and I head back up the hill. By this time the shroud of darkness is lifting and I can see.

These are the kinds of moments of my life that bring me much happiness and make me love it here so much. No traffic noise, no alarms and sirens, just nature.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Snake Kill

My daughter just called to tell me her dog was bitten twice by a large rattler trying to get into the hen’s nest.

She was upset because she couldn’t find the .22, only a 12-gauge or 20-gauge.

I said, “Good, at least were able to hit it, right?”

“No Mom,” she replied, “You don’t understand. I had to take a shower!”


Dog is okay, apparently it was dry strikes, or he's just immune to rattlesnake venom. Not so good an outcome for the snake...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ozark Defensive

The boys recently discovered a huge hornet's nest under the shed drop. While I was at Wal-mart the other day, Zack called to ask me to pick up 'a' can of wasp spray. So I did.

Usually we don't go out of the way to kill anything, but this could potentially be a dangerous situation even for someone not allergic.

We already had a half-can and once given the full can, it presented a conundrum. Who would get to battle the mighty hornets with only half a can of spray? Neither felt brave enough to attempt such a feat with inadequate weapons. They battled between themselves until Garrison suggested a round of paper/rock/scissors to make the draw.

Nearly dusk now, Garrison took the full can. Zack, with a defeated look on his face, as if he knew he was marching toward certain death, took the half-can.

They assumed positions in what they'd determined to be the best tactical approach and commenced the skirmish.

Once spray hit the entrance, hornets began pouring out, rightfully defensive and very, very angry.

Garrison dropped the full can and abandoned his post, leaving Zack scrambling for his dropped can while continuing to direct the stream of spray from his half-can into the hole, hoping to hit as many of the beasts as he could while putting the second can into action. Praying all this happened without a pause in stream delivery.

So he finished spraying out the full can, after emptying the rest of the half-can. Once it was all said and done, we had a good laugh out. No one was stung.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Garden Projects

In my tiny garden beside the house, I've been stacking rocks.

The rocks are varied in size and shape. Thick flat rocks, roundish cobblestones, and square brick shaped are common and abundant here. Rather than sort the rocks, I just use whatever is nearest at hand and go from there.

Makes for messy walls, I know. But so little else is organized and neat in my life, why should the walls be any different?

I stacked them from inside. The fence is level, so I wanted to build up the gap between the ground and bottom of the fence. It's meant to keep out dogs, cats, chickens, and horses. I doubt it will keep out the cats if they really want in, though.
First, this cute picture of Cheese in Zack's boot:

The fence is aluminum and I got it from a lady who posted it on Freecycle. Until now, I hadn't found a good use for it, but I knew sooner or later I would. Yes, I'm a packrat.

The ground is fairly sloped, so I have to look uphill toward the garden from down below the front of the house. Hopefully, this will help with erosion and the ground on the inside will build up behind the wall over time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This morning I sat outside on the swing and had my coffee before the rest of the household (dogs, cats, chickens, etc.) knew I was out there.

The wind feels special here. I'm sure it carries a message, but I'm just not listening properly to be able to translate. A whispering chorus, starting high on the ridge-tops before eventually reaching the valley bottom and moving past my point of reference toward the east.

There were no other sounds this morning to detract from the experience – nature’s stage entirely.

Until the dogs noticed I was sitting there. Then all calm was gone and it became a contest to see who could get the most attention. Badger's the biggest, but Chester is loudest. And Bobbie Sue most insistent.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More rocks

This year, it seems, my garden consists mostly of rocks. I planted some more over the weekend.

I've always admired the rock steps in other gardens with slope, and my own are beginning to take shape.

There's a little bit of thyme planted on both sides of the top step. When it takes root and spreads, I'll move bits and pieces of it all around my garden. At least I'll have lots of thyme somewhere.

The little gap under the second step will provide shelter for toads, and hopefully not copperheads or rattlers. If it turns out that I have unwanted guests in the garden because of it, I guess I'll fill in the space.

This year's efforts have been directed at foundation. Getting the beds built (not even halfway finished) and putting up the fence (almost finished). Admittedly, its a tiny garden, and it seems to be taking forever to get it done. But time is extremely short these days for me, so the project size fits the time-allotment.

Next year I might get something besides rocks planted.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

New background

My dad bought a new digital SLR camera, and now I'd like to get one like his. The new background picture for my title block is one of the pictures he took this afternoon. Maybe he'll leave a comment to tell us what kind of camera it is, exactly, so I'll know what to ask for when I get mine...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Third Earthquake

It was a smaller one, but has been classified by USGS. The epicenter was at Prairie Creek, near Beaver Lake on Wednesday, at 11:39 a.m.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Plant Pictures

Here are some pictures from a walk down my road the other day.

Wild Strawberries:

Wild hydrangea:

Still working on ID. If you know it, please let me know:

Ninebark flower:
Milkweed, one of several varieties around here:
Giant Solomon's seal stem and leaves:

Giant Solomon Seal flowers:
Daisy: Prunella/Allheal:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A good kind of exhaustion

This weekend I've been working on my garden beds. Here’s a pic of retaining walls in progress. Definitely they are not like the awesome rock walls built by early settlers in this area. Some are on this property, too. Those walls were built just to have somewhere to put rocks cleared from fields. They helped contain sheep, as well.

As water moves down the hill, it carries sand and small pebbles with it. When it reaches the wall, it’ll leave that behind and the ground gradually will build up behind them. As this happens, I’ll raise the wall higher until the slope is almost level on each terrace.

This will take years, of course, perhaps most of my life. My gardens, as are almost everything else I do, lifetime projects.
My grandparents down in Louisiana would be amused to see how far behind we are in gardening here in NW Arkansas. His tomatoes have probably already given ripe fruit and mine is just putting on the first flower!

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