Archive for the 'Country Living' Category

“November came down…”


“November came down, skies like dark slate, winds bitter.” — John Jakes.


More sky drama.


The sky is a drama queen.

Dear Wednesday,

It looks like fall is finally peeking around the corner and cooling things down here. All last week, it was unseasonably warm, which I should say, isn’t really all that bad here compared to back east. The sun is strong, yes, and you feel the heat if you’re not in the shade, but it’s a dry heat, which is far more comfortable than those 90% humidity kind of late summer days you get back by you. Here, if it’s hot, you just stay in the shade, or go up higher into the mountains where it’s cooler. And no matter how hot the day, once the sun goes down, the breeze picks up and things cool down considerably.

The one thing this new house doesn’t have is central air conditioning, which would be a deal breaker back east, but here, it’s manageable. We keep the shades drawn against the sun during the day, and then open the windows to sleep. The house cools down over night with only a few fans running in the windows. The other night, we could hear coyotes howling somewhere close in the hills, through said open windows. It added an little extra chill to the evening, you might say. On Sunday morning, I saw a lone one trotting through a field on my way home from dropping E. at choir practice. Pretty wild.

But still, once you get to the end of September, it’s hard not to be impatient with the heat, so I was glad to see that the forecast was going to shift into cooler 60-degree days. Of course, to make that happen, we had to have one hell of a thunderstorm, which finally arrived on Monday afternoon just as I was driving to pick up the girls from Conservatory. Within ten minutes most of the streets downtown were flooded, and visibility was practically nil. Ugh. I made it, though, and the rain let up long enough for us to make the 20 or so miles up the highway to home. We saw quite a few nasty accidents in the clean up stage, including one flipped VW bug, which upset A. to no end. Once we got home, the sky opened up again, and dumped another ocean down onto us, but we were safe home by then, and once that storm blew away, the air was cool and crisping and finally it felt like fall. The cool weather has held all week, and it feels damned good.

Speaking of the sky, I have to say that around here, she’s one hell of a drama queen. Today, we stayed home and got a good chunk of school work done. Around mid-afternoon I drove down to the store for meatloaf fixin’s, and when I finished my shopping and came out to my car, the sky looked like this:


The darkest part is, of course, pretty much exactly where my house is. I was only in the store 15 minutes. 20 tops. And when I went in, the day was bright and clear. I guess she felt like no one was paying enough attention to her, because for the rest of the afternoon, she was all dark and moody-like.


I snapped a few pictures when I could as I drove home.


This one is my favorite, I think:


And the funny thing is, in the end, it never even rained. The clouds eventually just blew through and away and now the sun is out again, and the air is still cool. I guess the sky just needed someone to notice her.

She’s such a drama queen, isn’t she?

Well, look at that. I got all the way through this post without moaning about how homesick I am. But you know that I still miss you terribly.


Coming up for air.

Well, we made it.

Sort of.

We’re down to one dog now, and the movers didn’t arrive with our stuff for an extra 8 days, which was no fun, and we didn’t get our Internet service up and running until yesterday afternoon. But we’re here, and I have a working kitchen, and the ability to type on a normal keyboard, and now that our crazy dog is no longer with us, I actually have time to write.

I suppose I should write it all out, what happened these past three weeks, because someday I’ll be sorry if I don’t. But it’s hard because I’m grieving. That damn dog was such a pain in the ass, but I loved him. Four years I worked with him, and all for what? One week into this move, we had to relinquish him to a shelter. Because instead of calming down here in this bigger house, he just got crazier. I’m 100% sure we did the right thing, but still.

I miss my dog.

Post-Rainstorm Backyard Drama.


MR. MALLARD: Good morning, dearest. Isn’t it lovely that the rain has finally stopped?

MRS. MALLARD: Yes, it most certainly is a glorious morning, if not a little overcast.


MR. MALLARD: Would you care to join me for a morning dip in this most glorious, private little pond?

MRS. MALLARD: Of course, darling. But first, I must do my stretches.


MR. MALLARD: Of course, dearest. Take all the time you need.

MRS. MALLARD: Thank you most kindly, darling. You should join me, you know. Remember what the doctor advised.

MR. MALLARD: Yes, I remember, dearest. You are so kind to think of my health.


MRS. MALLARD: It’s only because of my most deep affection for you, darling. Now, doesn’t that feel better?

MR. MALLARD: Yes, very much. Are you ready for our dip, dearest?

MRS. MALLARD: Yes, I’m so very looking forward to it… but wait… what’s THAT?


MR. MALLARD: What, my dearest? What troubles you?



MR. MALLARD: Oh yes, that’s the dog that lives nearby. Don’t trouble yourself one moment about him, dearest. All he ever chases is that yellow ball that makes such a dreadful squeak.

MRS. MALLARD: Are you certain, darling?

MR. MALLARD: Quite certain, my dear. See how he’s looking for it right now? He won’t trouble us at all.


MRS. MALLARD: Well… I suppose you’re right.

MR. MALLARD: Of course I’m right, dearest. Now, let us enjoy our morning swim.

MRS. MALLARD: I don’t know, darling…. Isn’t there also another dog that lives near here?


MR. MALLARD: Well, yes, but you know she never leaves the porch when it rains. I doubt she will bother us in all this wet.

MRS. MALLARD: But darling… don’t you see? The rain has… STOPPED!

MR. MALLARD: Yes, that’s tr——



Silver linings, brighter sides.

It’s raining.

It’s been raining all week, really. But not exactly raining. It’s been misting all week. The sky is a perpetual dull gray, and we leave the lights on all day long in the house, otherwise we’d be sitting in a dark gloom feeling like we never really woke up that morning. Here’s a shot of my gloomy, neglected garden from earlier today:


We’re not planting much this year: just a few tomatoes and squash to tempt a new buyer, maybe. I’ll miss my garden and all that asparagus RegularDad talked me into planting last year, but the truth is, I haven’t had much time for gardening the past few summers, mostly because of these guys:


The one on the left chomping on the tennis ball is Jack. The other one is Lily. It’s misting out, so Lily can’t leave the porch. She might get a drop or two of water on her, and that would be THE WORST THING THAT EVER COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO HER. So, no matter how much I coax and cajole her, when it’s raining, she just stays on the porch.

Jack doesn’t usually mind the rain, but he’s worried that someone might at any given moment START PETTING LILY so he needs to stick close, just in case. Because if someone STARTS PETTING LILY, he’ll need to horn in on that immediately.

Meanwhile, Lily stares forlornly out at the dreadful wet day, wishing it were dry so she could go find something truly disgusting to roll in, or possibly some poison ivy to rub up against so that later on, she could pass it on to me. ‘Tis the season.

Seriously. I could be standing there holding a raw steak, and she’d be like: “But it’s RAINING. You bring it to me.”


Other than that, she’s pretty normal, though, so I shouldn’t complain.

Jack, on the other hand, is definitely Not Normal. I stopped blogging right around the same time I stopped gardening. It was the year we got these dogs, especially Jack. In the interest of complete and total honesty, I ought to repost that first shot of them to give you a better representation of these two animals:


There. That’s better. That’s pretty much what brought my garden, this blog and a significant portion of my life as I once knew it to a screeching halt.

In less than 3 weeks, I’ll be putting these two on an airplane, along with our three cats, and flying them one way to Colorado. According to airline rules, I am not permitted to medicate or tranquilize them. I’m all: Okay, dudes: YOU deal with them, then. I’ll be up in coach wearing headphones, and when people starting wondering what that noise is coming from the underbelly of the plane, I’ll scratch my head and pretend I’m just as perplexed as they are. And then I’ll pretend to take a nap.

So, yeah, anyway… it’s raining. It’s been raining for days. It will continue to rain and mist and be generally gloomy for a few more days, according to the forecast. Here’s my 13 year old waiting for a ride to her call time.


She’s been performing in Richard III every night this week. The final scene is the great battle between Richard and Richmond and their armies. That scene takes place outside in a field across the street. Each evening, we members of the audience follow the actors outside into the gray drizzle and watch Richard die his terrible, inevitable death. So far, the skies have been kind to the players: gray, dreary mist — perfect for this scene — but no utter downpour that would make it impossible to wage the battle.

I suppose this weather isn’t uncommon here in Pennsylvania, but I never have gotten used to it. I lived out west for twelve years, mostly in Colorado, where not only does the sun shine more than 300 days a year, but you live at least a mile closer to said sun, if not more. You get used to that brightness, I guess, because when we moved here seven years ago, the first thing I noticed was How Dark It Was Here.  Even when it’s bright, it’s still a little bit dark. All those leafy trees lend their own shadows to things.

I’ve been back to Colorado twice in the past few months, house hunting and visiting friends. And each time, the bright sun in the big sky was like this warm welcoming committee and I remembered what it was like to live in full sunshine, where 55 degrees feels like 70, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to that light greeting me most mornings, instead of this dreadful endless gloom.

So, I’m torn, I guess. I wish we could stay, but that sunshine… it calls to me. Just a little.



Barefoot and frog in hand.

It’s how we raise ’em round these here parts.

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