Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dancing in the rain...

It is just no wonder rainy days make me happy.

Check out this little hummingbird doing his Gene Kelly impersonation of dancing in the rain.

It is times like these that I just can't help but run for the camera...

Friday, August 5, 2016

Latest obsession

Crossy Road logoI'm no gamer, but I am a little bit obsessed with computer games.

My latest obsession is Crossy Road, which isn't too different from the old 1980's game Frogger, where the frog had to cross the road, dodging traffic along the way.

Crossy Road is fun because whoever thought of this game, came up with various characters. I have two favorites. I love the leprechaun. I find his voice endearing. He speaks as he goes, in what I can only describe as non-sensical gibberish. But he's a quick little guy who can easily make his way around trucks and cars. 

I also like "The Dress" character. This is so clever. Remember the controversy over the beige or blue dress? Some people saw one color, while others saw a different color. In Crossy Road, if you are playing that character and you lose, the next play is the other color. That just cracks me up! 

Some of the other characters are equally as endearing, like the basketball player that dribbles all the way across the road, or the caretaker that carries a light around with him. Sometimes, even the scene is varied. It really is a very clever game. And, if I don't beat my score--presently at 319--I'm going to go crazy.

Crossy Road incorporates more than a road. It also includes a body of water to be traversed on moving logs. There are waterfalls on either side, on which there is a danger of falling off. I almost always lose the game in the water. It is positively infuriating!

I got started on computer games when my life began to revolved around the computer, some 40 years ago. As a writer, there were times I just needed to take a break. My computer is an extension of my brain, so I use it for taking notes, managing finances, and just about any other use there is. I also use it for cheap, mindless entertainment. Games always seemed to help me break away from the grind, but not too far away, in case a thought came to mind that I needed to jot down.

I find that playing is relaxing overall, even though at times I can get a little frenzied, trying to beat my own score. I'm very self-competetive.

Long before I was a writer, I was enamored with the old Atari and Activision games played on the Atari 2600 game console. I was the neighborhood Space Invaders champion. And my high scores earned me an Activision arm patch for the roundup game, Stampede. When I was pregnant with my second child, I watched my due date come and go. My son finally arrived 11 days later. I was Those video games got me through, occupying my mind while I waited for his arrival. 

Through the years, I've had my favorites, from word games--I simply love Words With Friends--and mostly all word games, especially Scrabble like games or making words from jumbled letters. I'm not at all into the shoot-em-up games with the realistic blood and gore. I just like the mindless, simple ones.

Over the years, I've definitely had my favorites. I played a simple version of Mahjjong, and Welltris, a 3D version of Tetris. I wish I could find a version of that which would be compatible with today's computers. That was so fun.

I love Bubble Spinner, Yahtzee, Hidden Objects games, and Solitaire games, with my favorite being Spider Solitaire. The best game I've ever found like those are Pretty Good Mahjjong, which combines solitaire with mahjjong tiles.

I also love the silly little game, Click only Red.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cats hide in the darndest places or don't leave the pantry door ajar

Junior hides in the pantry
The other day I was preparing dinner when I heard the weirdest sounds coming from the pantry. I wondered if there was a mouse in the house. That is always a humorous event, what with five cats lurking around, always anxious for something fun to play with. I don't like the idea, but I was ready for anything.

I opened the door wide, already ajar. I almost didn't see Junior, alias Boo, the Bug, Buggar, or whatever else comes up at the time, who was way back in the far corner, past the toaster, mixer, mini food processor, roasting pans, and mini tool kit, curled up among a stack of empty egg cartons. I was saving them for my friends who raise chickens. The noise I heard, a kind of squeaky sound, suddenly made sense as I watched her snuggle up to one of the styrofoam cartons. 

So much for the neatly stacked, bagged egg cartons. At least I don't have to deal with a dead mouse. 

And once discovered, out she came. She'll probably have to find a new hiding place, since this one has been found!

Junior flees the pantry

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gardening--I might as well laugh...

My green thumb has to be a recessive gene, because I have more trouble trying to grow food here in Arkansas than anyone should have to. I keep trying though. One day I am going to figure this out and will have the world's greatest crops to eat all summer, have a pantry filled with canning jars and a freezer brimming to capacity. At least that is what I dream about.

Granted, this year, I didn't put much effort into it. Since my husband, John had a stroke a year and a half ago, I've been relegated to chief household chore meister, cook, therapist, and animal tamer--we have cats. Truthfully, I'm lucky to get the yard mowed. I did however, get a container garden going on the deck. I planted some tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and a couple of flowers. The result is, as always, a mixed bag.

This pot of Basil, that I shall call "Count," fills a huge 20" pot, shown left, with its intoxicating scent, is attractive all on its own. It would be a success story for anyone, but the beauty of it is, I didn't do a thing. This was last year's garden plant, wintered over inside. The plant died--I have very little luck keeping Basil growing all winter. When I cleaned my sun porch this Spring, I placed this pot on the deck. The seeds that had fallen previously began to sprout and this is the result. I just love how it turned out.

I think it is time to make a little pesto, yes?

You can't get much more neglectful than this pot of Bermuda grass, at right. I call it "Shorts." I actually hate this stuff because it invades every garden and tries to wipe out every plant I have ever dug into what little soil I have.

This stuff is a scourge, for sure, but doesn't it make a pretty plant when it is contained in a pot?

At least that was my thought.

I have no idea what was growing in this pot before. I suspect a tomato plant, but whatever it was, it is long gone.

Shorts will be having an abortion the moment I see seeds form. And, it will be cremated in the Fall. But for now, I kinda like it.

One of my success stories, except for last year, has always been my favorite Serrano peppers. This year is no exception.

I just love these things. The heat is just about perfect. They might be a touch hotter than jalapenos, but it is a different kind of heat. And, they have such a wonderful flavor when cooked. They make delicious salsa, taco seasoning, and can be added to chili, or any other tomato-based dish.

This plant, "Peppy" like Count, is from last year. I dug it out of the garden and brought it indoors. I got a pepper or two while it was inside. It was really happy when I brought it out in the Spring, once it was warm enough. Peppers don't like the cold, so I was careful to monitor the temperature before I subjected Peppy to his new environment.

I think he liked it, because almost immediately, he started growing flowers and making babies.

And then there are the tomatoes, the one thing I really want to grow more than anything. For some reason, I am just unable to make it happen. This is one of several I have in pots on the deck. Thank goodness for the farmers in the area that are much more skilled than I. Only once in the 11 years that we've lived here have I canned tomatoes. A friend, who is no longer with us, was overrun with tomatoes and donated to my cause.

These pictured above happen to be Black Cherry tomatoes. The plant was doing really well, growing some beautiful fruit that was just nearing its ripening phase when I saw a rotten varmint squirrel carrying off the one I had been eyeing for weeks, in its fat little cheeks. This literally means war. I've begun playing Annie Oakley with a BB gun and mostly I just scare far! As much as I love little animals, I see squirrels as evil thieves.

Anyway, a little fertilizer has encouraged this plant, "Tommy" to begin again. I still have high hopes for my garden.

A green bean plant seeded itself in the garden, which I have totally ignored this year. I've harvested one bean from it. There are lots of flowers though, so it behooves me to keep my eye on it.

And then, there's always next year.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Woodland surprises

It seems we've become a wildlife sanctuary or adoption service for newborn fawns.

I was surprised this morning to look outside and see Hannah had returned.

She was lying in the tall, unmowed grass, beneath a tall oak tree.

I accept responsibility for the unkempt backyard. Too much wet weather, a week of suffering with a bad back, and frankly, too many other things to do,  have all kept me from it. I don't worry about such trivial matters; I know it will be there when I'm ready. Now, Hannah gives me another excuse for not getting to it. I certainly don't want to disturb her. I was positively joyous to see her again, just hangin' out in a place that she, and apparently her mother, consider to be safe.

So, just when I was feeling pretty good about the accepting wildlife around here, I glanced out the front window. I saw something moving in what was once a flower bed. I haven't gotten around to that either this year.

Ironically, it was the deer population that ate all my flowers, raccoons, squirrels, and armadillos to name a few, that dug out tulip bulbs and a myriad other plants, that have changed this into just a bunch of overgrown unidentified plants.

When I first saw something moving, I thought it might be our cat, Timi. She likes to hang out in the Russian Sage plants. It makes her smell nice. But then I saw those unmistakable ears. I had to get a little closer. It was another fawn, just lying in the weeds, chillin'.

I'd seen a baby romping with her mother within the last couple days. I wondered if we had one or two little ones around. Now I know.

So the backyard fawn is Hannah. The front yard fawn is Dawn fawn. As I crept a little closer to her, she bolted. Dawn fawn will not allow petting. I doubt Hannah would either anymore. They have probably both been instructed by prospective Mom Deer to stay away from the crazy stalker lady with the camera. I'm sure she tells them to just pose and be cute, but don't let her touch you again!

That's OK, I've had my thrill as noted in a previous account of getting to pet Hannah. I'm happy now, but have no idea if I will ever be able to have flowers again. Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I'm a little bit country, and more so every day

I admit, it isn't always easy to adapt to being a country girl, but it is so worth it.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to watch a doe with her newborn fawn scampering around in the backyard. In fact, I shot a video to mark the momentous event.


I watched until the fawn lay down at the base of an old cedar tree, right in the backyard. I could see it from most of the windows of the house, and certainly from the deck.

She looked to be sleeping quietly as her mother went off into the woods. I named her Hannah.

This morning, I went to check to see if Hannah was still there. She was. I knew how young she was, so I was worried that she was no longer alive. Upon closer inspection, I realized that she was breathing.

Since I know nothing about newborn fawns whose mother is nowhere to be seen. I watched her mother give a glance over her shoulder as she bounded into the brush. That was the last I saw of her.

Not knowing what to do, I sought out advice from the Internet. I learned that what I was seeing was not uncommon. Often times mothers will leave their fawns for as many as 12 hours while they eat and sleep. I feel good knowing the doe entrusted her baby to the crazy lady on the deck with a camera. If she is the doe I suspect she is, she knows I am harmless. She has seen me aim my viewfinder her way many times.

As noted, I checked to see if Hannah had a scab over her umbilical cord. She did. I didn't need that to tell me she was a newborn however. It was pretty obvious that she was brand new to this beautiful world in which we live. I lifted her tail--no problem there. She had no puncture wounds and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.


As I was performing my cursory examination, I took the opportunity to faun a little over this adorable fawn, petting her soft coat and touching the many spots on this beautiful, perfect, little creature. I didn't think once about how annoyed I get when the deer in the neighborhood decimate my vegetable garden and eat all my flowers. Instead I was mesmerized by the sheer wonder of this tiny critter.

Just as we were starting to bond, our resident mama cat, Timi happened by. Hannah must have been startled because she got up on those long, skinny, and unsteady legs In a blink of an eye, they not only held her upright, but she almost gracefully leaped away. She entered the woods at about the last place I saw her mother. Perhaps she is going back to her birth location. I hope so. I just hope her mother finds her and nurtures her. She deserves no less.

I hate not knowing what will become of her. No doubt I will be a nervous wreck until I see her romping around with her mother once more, as it should be.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Stuff happens; and sometimes that is a good thing

This morning, I heard the doorbell ring. When I went to answer, a young man asked if I needed any tree trimming done.

CHMusings: Tree trimming
My mind raced as I thought about the tree that not only sprawls over the bedrooms of the house. Some of its branches actually scrape the roof. It has been a concern of mine for some time, especially with the storms we have been having of late.

It also poses a danger to our heat pump/air conditioner. In the winter, ice on the branches falls into the motor and causes it to seize. We've enjoyed that expense more than once.

Needless to say, I had been thinking for some time that we needed to do something about this.

While there is always a danger in hiring people you don't know, there was something about this guy. For some reason I had a good feeling about him. We chatted for a little while about what needed to be done with this tree. We agreed that its proximity to the house and other trees would make falling it a little tricky. We decided that a good trimming would work just as well. So, I said, let's do it.

tree trimming 2
tree trimming 1

I couldn't be more pleased. I will be happy to call Ben Frost next time I need work done. He and his partner did an excellent job and at a reasonable cost.

They trimmed the branches, cleaned the gutter, and swept the roof.

trees trimmed
Now for the icing on the cake. There are no low hanging branches for the squirrels to use to get to my backyard birdfeeder, via the roof.

If only house painters, bathroom re-modelers, power washers, and flooring experts would ring the doorbell, I could rest easy.