Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked and Walked and Walked and Walked

I am, after all, descended from pioneers - Mormon pioneers to be exact.  My great-great grandparents walked across most of continental United States to settle in Utah.  That's a lot of walking.  Over mountain ranges, even.  I haven't been walking quite that much but I have been walking alot.  Yesterday I walked for 5 hours and that Primary song started going through my head.  "Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked".  There's more to that song but I can't remember it.  Just that line kept repeating in a loop in my head.  Today I walked for 4 hours.  I was canvassing for washing windows.

This weather is a gift for us - so mild and sunny.  You don't usually get both mild and sunny at the same time in the Okanagan in the winter.  So much for "La Nina" This is much more like "El Nino".  And the timing couldn't be better for us.  We need to have our affairs in order before we leave the country.  And despite my best efforts to save money ahead for this time there has just been one thing after the other all fall.  No one huge thing - just an accumulation of medium and small things.  Well, I guess Andrew's braces was a big thing...  Anyways, we are grateful for the weather.  I am booked now for washing windows to the end of this year.  That means tomorrow I won't have to walk so much.  Just 2 - 3 hours to get started on next week (next year).

Luckily I like walking....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Musings

Its almost 9:30 and the evening has wound down.  We went to the Alliance Church for their Christmas Eve service which I enjoyed.  We made quesadillas for dinner.  We teased each other good naturedly.  We each opened a present and Eryn and Tyler and Kaetlyn and Nadia left for other engagements.  I finished my last present and cleaned up the sewing room so that my sister Martha could sleep in there.  My brother Layne will be sleeping on the couch.

Its all quiet, just Christmas carols playing on the computer.  Martha is already in bed along with Rhiannon and Drew.  Layne and Dean are in the basement making music.  I just have the stocking left to do.  I am left pondering how things are the same and how things are different.  It amuses me how much pleasure it gives me how important some of our traditions are to my grown children.  Great fuss is made over when everyone can come to decorate cookies.  And I remember my own childhood and decorating sugar cookies - remember those little ball bearings that could crack your tooth and destroy fillings?  You never see those any more.... And I wonder how it will be when there is no one to decorate the tree...  Will I even do it if they aren't here to do it with me?  Children and family really are the point of Christmas for me.  I have had, until now, a steady, unbroken chain of young children and babies in my Christmases.  My daughter and my youngest sisters are the same age, after all.  Now Rhiannon is 11.  There is no one who even pretends to believe in Santa.  In fact, this year there will be no Santa gifts under the tree in the morning.  In lieu of Santa gifts we are going to Mexico as a family for Dean's 50th birthday.  We leave on January 11th so we actually be there for the day of his birthday. We are all pretty excited.  Andrew picked up his passport today so that is it.  We are a family with passports. We can cross the boarder together.  So we just got each other small gifts.  I made almost all of my gifts which isn't really different.  But this Christmas has a different feel.  A more grown up feel.  Its good different.  I know it is unlikely it will be like this forever, with all my children here around me.

I am going upstairs now to fill Andrew and Rhiannon's stockings... one of those things that hasn't changed yet.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'd better write now...

Or it will be another two months and I won't have written and I'll have to join the ranks of certain lame brothers who blog and then don't.  (and I'm not going to even mention another)  Anyway, wow, it has been more than 2 months and Christmas is almost here.  In fact, if Dean wasn't sleeping in Kaetlyn's old room which has become my sewing/knitting/crafting room, I wouldn't be on here.  I would be busy making things for Christmas.  (Dean is sleeping in there because I have the flu and he doesn't want to get it).

I have been awake since 3:30am which is really much to early to stay awake.  I woke up because I had to go pee.  But I laid there for an hour and couldn't fall back to sleep.  So I got up and wrote my cousin a reply to her e-mail that she sent me last October.  What kind of lame cousin is that that takes more than a year to answer?

I am in denial that Christmas Day is now less than a week away.  I have so much to do.  So much to make.  And I'm going to have to have a nap today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Toast

25 years ago today I was in the Richmond General Hospital recovering from the trauma that was my firstborn's birth.  A quarter of a Century between then and now, she has been with me for more than half my life.  Although with 11 younger siblings I had plenty of hands on experience with babies but she was the one who initiated me into motherhood.  I can see her still as she was then - already asserting her personality and working her hands and feet out of any wrap that I or the nurses put her in; her intense murky blue eyes taking everything in.

So many changes we have lived through together - some happy, some not.  Many great ideas that weren't really that great - all those mercurial things you do in your 20's  (that I did in my 20's...)she was there for.  And she was always one of the best things about my life.

Last night we had a party to celebrate her 25 years on the planet.  I put everything into it.  We had vegetarian chili and artesian bread that I made myself and home made french bread and artichoke dip and hummus - all made by me.  The floors were washed and the rooms tidied.  And I roasted squash and cooked beets and made 2 rebar chocolate cakes (amazing!  Turned out the best I have ever done!)I worked all day starting at 4am.  And as I worked, I thought about her and what I would like to say at this 1/4 of a Century celebration.  People started arriving.  It was loud.  We visited and ate and worked together.  And by the time we were singing and eating cake, I was far too exhausted to say any of the things I had thought of.  So here it is:

A Toast

To my beautiful, talented daughter who has graced my life with love and laughter and friendship - more than I ever hoped for and more than I deserve.  To you, Eryn.  Who can find the words to describe all that a daughter is - all that you have been to me.  Who can find the words to describe the amazing unfoldment I have been honoured to witness as your mother?  A beautiful, creative, musical soul, a young woman who knows her own mind.  Someone who is not afraid to speak up.  A determined, courageous, brave person who I am so inexpressibly grateful to know.  Here's to you, Eryn.  I love you!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

In the name of science

Today was an interesting day.

Last week it became clear that one of Draga's lambs (the one named Sol by Amy) was not doing well.  I pulled out my sheep books and began to administer all manner of 'cures' but to no avail.  On Saturday evening, he collapsed and had a seizure right after going pee.  I thought he would die but he didn't.  He never got up again on his own but he lived until sometime last night.  I continued to administer to him faithfully and hopefully.  All the while continuing to read voraciously in my books and online for some clue, some clear answer.  More than anything I wished I just KNEW more.  I wish I was trained as a vet so I could have some clear idea of exactly what to do.

Then when I found him this morning and Dean and I lifted him out of the sheep shed, I decided that I would do a 'post mortem' to see if I could determine the cause of death.  So later, after Dean was at work, I put my knife to his belly and cut him open.  Arguably one of the hardest things I have ever done  The minute I pushed the knife in, pee gushed out and it gushed and gushed and gushed and gushed.  He had a urinary calculi (urinary stones) that had blocked his urethra.  He died from his bladder rupturing.  All the reading I have done since, seems to indicate that there was nothing that could have been done to save him once had had the stones and it became lodged.  He doesn't fit any of the criteria for a sheep likely to get stones.  It was just a freak thing.  A metabolic disease.  And somehow that makes me feel so much better.

I went through so much during this week of tending to a sick lamb.  My first reaction was to berate myself for my ignorance and my inadequacies - to blame myself.  Which made me feel almost desperate to 'fix' him.  I processed and wrote and prayed and contemplated.  And gradually I came to an entirely different place.  And when he died, although of course, I felt bad, I was okay, too.   And I accept that this is the way that he needed to die.  And once I discovered that he was not diseased, I decided that I would feed him to the dogs.  So I set about butchering him.  After all, its not that different from a chicken, is it?  It was hard and unpleasant but it was also exhilarating that I could actually make myself do it.  I still don't think I could kill a lamb but maybe I'm getting closer... 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Boy

Seen here walking his sister down the 'aisle' (or perhaps down the garden path is more apt) 'the boy' has put up with a lot growing up with 3 sisters.  I talked him into homeschooling for grade 4.  For grade 5 he returned to school but by November he was back home and this time it was his idea.  Once we found a home at SelfDesign, we sailed through homeschooling happily until grade 10 when he was too old for SD.  After that we tried several different online courses.  None of which he completed.  We contemplated him going back to school and I worried a lot and felt like a bad mother.  Online courses were never his thing.  Sitting solo in front of a computer doing schoolwork was not his idea of fun.  And neither of us really wanted for him to go to school, either.  I wish I could have provided him with a few mentors and a small learning group.  I think he would have really thrived in that.  But alas in Vernon it was not to be.  Last year he would have graduated.  Of course, he didn't.

However, this fall he is going to College.  After taking the placement test in which he tested out at grade 10 English and grade 8 math, they put him in the appropriate upgrading classes. They expect him to be done upgrading early in the new year but we are giving ourselves until June.  And then he will take the trades entrance exam with the goal of taking the studio woodworking course and getting an apprenticeship in cabinet making.

Right now he is housesitting for Eryn and Tyler while they are in Europe.  He's cooking for himself, looking after the cats and keeping the place tidy and when I dropped by the other evening, there he was sitting in the living room doing his math homework.  And most amazingly, he is waking himself up in the morning.  Incredible.  Eryn says he is the baby of the family and maybe its true.  Somehow I never worried about  how Eryn or Kaetlyn would wake themselves up when they left home. And I can assure you that when they were 17, they knew how to use the washing machine... Or maybe its just that he is sweet and huggable and everyone's favourite brother...

Whatever it is, I am so proud of him.  I wish I could have had a glimpse into these days 2 years ago.  I would have worried a lot less and I wouldn't have been so hard on him, either.  And I wish I had been more persistent with that unhelpful person at the College last year who told me he couldn't go there until he was 19.

Anyway, there you have it, an update on the boy.  Who would have thought he would be my first college student?

Friday, September 02, 2011

All Alone

So I have managed it. Andrew is in Kamloops. Rhiannon and Dean are camping with Rhiannon's friend and her dad. I am alone. My whole life, as the oldest of 12 children and someone who became a mom at 21, to be all alone is premium. The house is quiet. I have Skydiggers playing off of the computer. I am going to eat whatever I feel like whenever I feel like it. The sun is slowly fading from the sky. The house is a mess but I will slowly clean it and it will stay that way. And right now I am going to do whatever I feel like... now, what is that?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Off to the IPE

This year (year of the rabbit, don't you know!) despite my misgivings, Rhiannon and I entered rabbits into the fair - the IPE - Interior Provincial Exhibition. Rhiannon has been begging to for some time. She entered four rabbits and I entered 2. Really she entered 11 because one of her entries was for doe and litter - Vivica, our fawn Satin Angora and her cute litter of 7 babies born July 5. I meant to enter Lars, my white Satin Angora buck and Charlotte (said with a French accent), my French Angora but I had to substitute because I ended up having to shave them both because of their mats.

I must say that we have been having a great time. Along with a woman from Winfield (who we know because we bought our first Satin Angora from her) we set up an area where kids could come and hold the bunnies. Whew! Was that ever popular! Basically I had a line up all day. We had to forcibly close it down to go get lunch and then to leave at 4:30 with people begging to just please hold a rabbit... I could still be there, I think. Our angoras have been a huge hit.

Although there are not a lot of rabbits entered into the fair and when you are the only one in your class, you come in first.... In one category Rhiannon and I were competing against each other and we tied for first. We didn't really have an competition. Okay none. So we have a lot of firsts, haha. But the big news is that one of our rabbits won Best in Show. So that means that out of all the rabbits, (there are about 30 or so) she was judged to be the best over all rabbit. She is one that we bred here on our own farm. A gorgeous chestnut daughter of Lars and Velveteen. Here she is. You can see how lovely her coat is. Rhiannon is pretty excited. She gets a trophy to take home and a sac of rabbit pellets.

Here's the fine young rabbit that I entered. I named him Cappuccino. I think he is rather gorgeous. Hopefully we will get some buyers for these lovely rabbits. We're working on it!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to it

Well, after all those big dramatic posts, its hard to just pick up again and tell you about the everyday things I want to tell you about. Its been a very busy summer with lots of guests and lots of fun. Maybe a little too much fun. It has been wonderful to see people and spend time but it has been alot. I figured it out and from the time that Layne arrived on January 10, until last Monday we either had company or were company for all that time except for a total of 5 weeks. And that stress - most of the times a good stress - has taken its toll. Last weekend when we dropped my friend's daughter back in Calgary and spent a few days shopping and doing Calgary things and then came home, we were alone at last. We've just been quietly doing our thing. When I looked at the forecast and saw that just this past weekend would likely be the last good hot days of the summer, Rhiannon, Drew and I went to the beach every day. Just the three of us (well, Eryn and Tyler showed up on Sunday but they don't count). Dean was in Canmore with Redfish in case you are wondering. My garden has suffered and I haven't put up as much food as I usually have by now. We're getting back into the groove. Here are some images from our fun and very (overly) full summer.

End of May girls at the beach. Shopping marathon for mother-of-the-bride dress. (Thanks again, Ronni! I really couldn't have done it without you!)

George the disable chicken brought in to die in peace ends up outliving all his compatriots and even survives the wedding. He eventually died with full bowls of food and water in front of him on the evening of July 21. Dean buried him and shed a few tears...

Lots of cousin time over the wedding

and after

Lots of walks with Iris... we still miss you!

Rabbits for sale!

Lots of rabbit babies

Fantastic August weather and New Denver here we come! Beautiful lake, good friends, good food, lots of music and lots of talking over card games. Perfect holiday!


Rabbit time and rabbit projects!

Friends hanging out and doing all the summer things - parties, water slides, matinees and the beach!

Calgary time: shopping, Callaway and the Calgary Corn Maze:

Fanciest dinner ever! Can you say carnivore heaven?

Driving back to BC in the rain....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Too Soon

Things have just been intense around here this summer - kicked off by the wedding, which was intense in lots of strenuous and happy and sometimes stressfull ways. But the last two days have been intensely sad.

Iris, our wee, beloved pup, died just after 4am yesterday morning of the dreaded puppy disease Parvo. We are devastated.

On Saturday morning Rhiannon and I took Zeus, Jodi and Iris to the dog beach in Kal Park. Its the first time any of us had been to that beach. Zeus especially enjoyed swimming in the lake. Jodi and Iris went for obligatory dips and Iris cavorted around on the rocks.

Later that evening she refused to eat her dinner and during the evening walk she lagged behind a bit more often smelling things.

Rhiannon woke me up at 4:30 because Iris was throwing up in her room. I went to pick her up and saw the circles of bile on Rhiannon's carpet and I was afraid it was Parvo. Jodi got Parvo the day Rhiannon was born (also after hiking in Kal Lake Park) and it looked just like what was under the crib in Rhiannon and Drew's room. I took her to bed and cuddled with her but she threw up in my bed. I took her outside and sat with her and saw watery bloody diarrhea come out when she pooped. I knew it was Parvo then. Jodi was 19 months old when she got it - much older. Iris was only just over 4 months old.

Now Jodi was sick for two days before we clued in and we took her to the vet where she was on IV fluids for a week before she was well and able to come home. I immediately started treating Iris according to the instructions in my Herbal Handbook for farm and stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy who was a vet and also using internet resources. She kind of stayed the same all day. We administered fluids orally and analy every 14 minutes to half an hour. She continued to throw up and have bloody water come out her anus. But she held. I stayed up with her all night. I stayed outside where she seemed to get comfort from laying on the cool earth. I brought her inside around 2am. I dozed in half our stints. Around 3am she started to decline. She lots muscle tone and wouldn't let me give her any fluids. Blood started to pour out of her anus when she was just laying there. She just layed with her head on me. Her eyes were still clear and she looked so deeply into my eyes around 3:30 - almost pleadingly. I knew she was sorrowful to be leaving us. Then just after 4am with my hands on her, she took her last breath and her heart slowly stopped beating. The moment of death is as profound as birth. Suddenly she was gone and all that was left was her black furry body - a mere shell with out the black sprite.

I cleaned up and threw myself on Jodi and cried and cried. We had got her to be Jodi's apprentice and she was gone before her. We had imagined having her for years and years - imagined her moving out with Rhiannon. We imagined her comfort on the sad day when Jodi will leave. And she was gone. We had her for 6 weeks that seemed like both a very long time and a very short time. Dean and I cried and cried. And then tried to go about the beginning of our day. Rhiannon woke up just after 8 and I had to tell her. It was so horrible.

We burned a candle for her yesterday and we wrote our good-byes. Last night we buried her under the lilac bush near the house. Its marked with a stone and a cross. We only had her for 6 weeks but she was firmly inbedded in our family. In that 6 weeks she was walked twice a day everyday. She slept under Rhiannon's bed every night. She played with all the people working preparing for the wedding. She went to the wedding. She went camping and to the lake. She was a sweet dog without any of the usual puppy vices. No shoes were chewed, no holes dug. She only had to learn to not pee in the house which she had almost mastered. She loved to play, to sit in our laps and she loved people. She loved running with all the nieces and nephews when they were here. She was the most loving sweet dog I have ever met. And she unabashedly and persistently loved Jodi who at first resisted her and then gave in. I see them curled up beside eachother in the back of the car when we camped. Or on the porch. Jodi even let her share her territory under the table which she shares with no other animal or small child. They say a puppy makes an old dog older but Iris made Jodi younger. I see them running ahead of me through the field to start our walks. Iris running circles around Jodi nipping at her tail and Jodi making the dog laughing sound and twisting around to get her. So happy - both of them. She was a little perfect drop of joy and love in our lives.

Right now there is an unbearably big hole in our life where she was. Right now we are missing her terribly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Amazing Grace

I had the sense as we entered the last week before 'the wedding' that it was a lot like labour. If you are pregnant, you know that it is inevitably coming and once it starts, you know that there is nothing to do but be completely consumed by the process until it is over. For me, it really was like a birth. Only done much better than the first time. The first time I was very alone. Sure her dad was there and my parents were even just outside the door. But I hadn't been allowed to eat for 2 days before the birth because they were inducing me and soon after the birth everyone cleared out, the hospital kitchen was closed and Norm refused to go and get me food. I have never been so hungry. After that no one visited me and Norm didn't even want to give me a ride home. I was back to work in our business just 3 days after she was born. He made it clear that she was 'my thing'. It was lonely My mother had twins 6 months before. Katie came to help me once a week but other than that I was on my own.

Not so this time. Layne, who has been helping with the preparations since he arrived in January (including shovelling out the chicken coop and other stinky jobs) was here all day on the Sunday before with Zach helping to get ready. Then, Katie and Brent arrived that day, the 12, just after he left and set to work. They worked all day everyday getting things ready - cleaning kitchen drawers and windows and stripping and waxing the floors. Planting blueberry bushes, black currants, cucumbers and cantaloupe and weeding my garden. Helping me finish the shopping - especially forcing me to get the bra I needed. And shirts. We bought 3 shirts for Dean before it was approved.... The week whizzed by. I sewed flower girl dresses. Katie felt guilty if she wasn't working. We swept and washed and shopped and delivered food.

My friend Bozenka baked and cooked for the dinner until she couldn't stand on her arthritic ankles any more. She gave me all the best that she has working in an inferior kitchen and dealing with delays, shortages, and inexperienced help. The food was a masterpiece. Her sister, Goranka, along with her husband, Thomas and son, Daniel even travelled all the way from Calgary to help making this most amazing wedding dinner. They did so much for me and my daughter! I am truly fortunate to have them as my friends. Bozenka's help extended even to the slaughtering, plucking, gutting and cutting up of the meat birds who became the chicken portion of the dinner.

Bozenka's daughter, Jelena, (an amazing film maker) travelled on the greyhound to film the whole proceedings - she started with the wedding preparations and then the bridal party and then on to the wedding and the reception. I can't wait to see it! It will be so nice to watch it when I am relaxed! And of course when she wasn't filming, she was helping in the kitchen, running errands and making sure everything was as perfect as possible.

Laura arrived with camera gear and new lenses in hand to be the photographer. She was there, making a record of everything and when she didn't have a camera in front of her face and she wasn't making camera plans, she did whatever needed to be done.

Layne and Zach were there to help along with Avereigh who arrived with John. That group of strong boys (Drew, Ave, Zach, Douglas and Josh) could be seen doing heavy lifting and assembling as tables and chairs and tarps were erected. They did anything I asked them to - carry flower pots in from the garden, hang up hanging pots. They were awesome!

People showed up to weed, to deliver little white Christmas lights, to drop off food and baskets of flowers. Even Andrew's girlfriend, Chelle, arrived on the bus Wednesday night and worked her butt off doing whatever was needed for the wedding. I love that girl!

My brother Doug arrived on Thursday afternoon. The tarps that had collapsed the night before (like I told them they would if it actually rained...) were fixed by the tarp meister Brent and Doug and his boys. They were everywhere, doing everything. A whirl of activity I didn't have to direct. Mostly I shopped and sewed.

John, Brenna and Alysha drove all night, stopped off at Becky's and then arrived here on Friday morning. Without even a nap (except for Alysha) they went right to work in the kitchen. And they worked and they worked and they worked. John picked up all the dishes and delivered them.

Auntie Heather and Uncle Dennis - the only representatives of their generation from the bride's side of the family - arrived on Friday afternoon - twinkly lights and iced brownies in hand and immediately chipped in. Even up to the time the ceremony was about to begin, there was Uncle Dennis, pruning lilac bushes. Without me having to say much, they were just in there. Auntie Heather covering tables with table clothes. Funny, did she realized she used the one that Grandma B gave me for a wedding present? Somehow I just felt better with them there. They set up camp at the back of my driveway so they were right on site Saturday morning.

Friday evening Ronni arrived from Calgary on the plane. Picked up by Katie (I was sewing) and immediately set to work buying last minute things, working in the kitchen, making sure people got fed. And in general keeping me organized.

Friday night my sister says to me, "tomorrow, you be the mother of the bride (and the flower girl seamstress) and I'll be the wedding planner" and with that she took over. She took care of every detail. She made things happen and I can't even write about it without tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt so loved and so supported and I am so grateful there are no words. (and I have to blow my nose, now) Oh, and did I mention that she did all this with a box of kleenex attached to her hip while popping allergy pills because of my 3 cats?

Bethany arrived and put finishing touches on the decorating - beautified my bathroom and helped arranged the tables outside.

Saturday morning (I was sewing) even Becky came to help in the kitchen. And Katie and Ronni worked and worked and worked.

Brent hoisted Eclipse who in the end, weighed more than the 80 lbs the rotisserie was intended for, onto the BBQ and began what he had been preparing for a year to do. With his best foodie instincts, he BBQ'ed the lamb to perfection. He could hardly sleep the two nights coming up to it, worrying about how it would work out. It was amazing. It was the best lamb I have ever eaten.

Katie did my hair while I was sewing. I finished sewing at 12:30 - in time to have a bath to shave my legs, and get dressed. Delanie did my make up. And then the impatient marriage commissioner was there, standing in the middle of the patio.

Ronni was running the last errands - which included buying Andrew shoes. It was Andrew holding up the wedding as he tore off his clothes and got his wedding clothes on. Then the music was playing (All is Love by Bjork) and Dean and Andrew were walking her down our porch stairs.

The wedding commissioner was terrible. In addition to being impatient, she got their names wrong at crucial moments. She called Eryn "Rachel Eryn Kleyh" and Tyler, Taylor.... although it was great fodder for jokes for the rest of the evening... c'mon. If you were a marriage commissioner, wouldn't you practise saying the names?

Then there was the ribbon ceremony. I read a poem by Maya Angelou that Ronni had looked up and written out for me the night before. And we all tied ribbons around their joined hands. (wedding party and family) I was last. Did I say something profound? No. I told them that I could hardly concentrate on the ceremony because I was so distracted by the imperfections in the patio bricks...haha. We all laughed. (but not so long ago, they were no laughing matter...)

Katie and Ronni helped prepare the food. They helped serve the food. Ronni didn't even get a chance to do her hair or make up for the wedding. I just want you all to know that really she usually looks very classy and well put together. I have always envied her sense of style. John, Alysha, Brenna and Christian took orders and delivered food. Kaetlyn and Nadia, after helping in the kitchen, also helped dish up the food.

My friend, Louise, arrived on Saturday morning and didn't leave until midnight. She helped make the food, dish the food, clean up after the food.

I wavered between feeling guilty that everyone was working so hard and being overwhelmed with gratitude, buoyed up on the love of my siblings and my friends. And then the dinner was over, the speeches were said (I didn't make notes; I forgot half of what I wanted to say) and the music started. The white twinkly lights were softly glowing and the music was fun. The dance floor was full of my nieces and nephews and my brothers. And then I was able to be right there in that moment. Dancing near my brother Jordan and his wife, Tracy, holding hands with Maria on one side and Mary on the other. Soon there was a little circle of nieces and it was perfect. It was absolutely perfect. I was in the middle of all my joy, buoyed up and supported by the love of my family. I felt it in that moment - so pure, so wholehearted, so selfless.

Eventually the music changed and I went back inside where nieces and nephews were falling asleep watching Harry Potter, and we cleaned up the kitchen and started putting the rented dishes back in their boxes. It all wrapped up around 1am. I drove Eryn and Tyler in their car to the room at the Illahee Inn that Laurel booked for them. Katie followed and drove me back home. Then we started bringing in the platters of food and finding ways of fitting it in the fridge. By 3:30 we were sitting in the kitchen, too tired to go to bed until Brent came downstairs and got us on our way.

And that was the wedding. Such an incredibly intense experience. There is still the glow of love around here left over from the 7 of my 11 siblings who were here and my Aunt and Uncle who travelled so far to be here and my friends Ronni and Bozenka, who would do anything for me. Because they love me. And and Goranka, Thomas and Daniel and Jelena and Louise who did so much for the love of me and Bozenka and my daughter. And I am so grateful to have experienced that so fully and completely. Will Eryn ever really know what was done for her?

Monday, June 06, 2011

In my dreams...

In my dreams, the day is sunny, the flower beds are perfect and radiantly full of blooming flowers. My vegetable garden is artful and beautiful and completely free of weeds and crab grass. The food is perfect and we don't run out of anything. Katie and Brent make sure I get everything done. My sewing aunties (Mina and Elaine) swoop in and finish all the sewing with typical aplomb.

In my nightmares, my garden is overrun with crab grass. I run out of money for the food. The dresses are pinned together at the back and the sheep get out and eat all the flowers just hours before it starts.... and we have a torrential downpour.... all day....

Monday, May 30, 2011


Like Laura, with our many childhood moves, I was often lonely and longing for a good friend. My young prayers were regularly heartfelt pleadings for friends. I have certainly been blessed in my life with very good friends. Ronni and I have been friends for almost 20 years now. The weekend before the May long weekend she swooped in to help me. At that time my garden consisted of one bed with early plantings of lettuce, mustard, kale, etc. and 9 overgrown beds that would have looked better in the lawn... It was so overwhelming I couldn't bring myself to start despite 60 tomato plants which were almost ready to be planted. She hates gardening. Her garden consists of 5 pots of herbs on her patio that she complains if she has to weed once or twice. But she was there, spade in hand, digging and weeding one of my largest beds. Pretty soon Dean joined us and tackled one of the worst beds. By the time she left, it was starting to look a lot more like a garden than a weed patch! While I spent every waking moment in my garden, she cooked and cleaned and made her usual gourmet quality food.

Then she took me out for the dreaded job of finding my 'mother-of-the-bride' dress. We went to every store in Vernon and Kelowna that carries women's wear. Did you know that patterns are in this year? And I needed a solid? And did you know that all those little original-looking boutique shops really carry just the same thing but at different prices? We saw the exact same dress in almost every shop only varying in price from $75 - $200. The stores were almost closing and we had not found a dress that I loved. We had one reserved as back up but I hated the way it made my knees look - which showed. (And I know all you knock-kneed sisters know what I'm talking about!) We stumbled upon a Melanie Lynn shop with 30 minutes to spare. We had the nicest sales lady we had had all day. And we got my dress. Its dark blue. And its rather form fitting. (I wanted a full skirt but there is no such animal in solid colour in Kelowna or Vernon). Ah, the elation of having that difficult problem settled.

We were all along for this long day of shopping - Eryn, Andrew, Rhiannon and Ronni's daughter. Eryn had taken the girls to H2O about half way through the day. So now, mission accomplished, we picked them up and went out for dinner. A wonderful long dinner at Kelsey's in Kelowna where we talked and laughed and shared good food and lingered there for more than 2 hours. It was the perfect ending to our day. One of those moments that you try to memorize to remember often.

The next morning our mission was shoes for R & M who are the flower girls at the wedding and for me. We managed to get them all at the Vernon Mall. Then we drove them to the airport and saw them off. It was a whirlwind visit but we got so much done. It was the support that I needed to feel like I could actually do this. She left with my heart full of gratitude for this friendship. It has been a long one and it has been a reciprocal one. I have been there for her in the same way. It is one where we spend a lot of time laughing and we have done our share of crying, too. It is such a great gift to have a friend like that. She whooshed in and with typical Ronni style, she just got everything on track with her complete belief that it could be done.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Checking In

Oh, I have lots to say but not time to say it. Less than three weeks until the wedding now (20 days) and there is so much still to do. I wonder how I will get it all done! Every second of my day is full. The only reason I have time to write right now is because I am waiting for the puppy to finish eating before I take her with me to move the electric sheep pen. Wait a minute! What's that, you ask? Yes, at this insane time we got a puppy... She's a border collie X Australian shepherd. She is Jodi's apprentice. Jodi is 13 years old now - my soul sister - and not as able as she once was. This winter arthritis really started to hamper her left back leg. So we have been looking and thinking about puppies for awhile. I was astounded to find mutts going for $300- $400 and pure breeds upwards of $1000. So we have been keeping our eye out for the right dog - believing that the right dog would come for a price we could afford.

Then the last time I was at Briteland picking up chicken feed, there on the back of the delivery door was a sign saying "Border Collie X Australian Shepherd puppies born in March $150". I took the number and called right away. But the woman was out of town so we had to wait a couple of days but I did find out that there were 2 dogs left. She got back on Wednesday so while Rhiannon was in tap class, Dean and I took Jodi (for approval) and went out to the reserve to see this dog. We drove up, opened the door of the car and she barrelled towards us. We were hooked. The other dog was a male that they had decided to keep. She is almost all black with just a wee white tuft on her chest, under her chin and on two of her toes.

She was for Rhiannon to take over Jodi's duties. When we got home Rhiannon was already there but in the bathroom. She came out to see the little black face. They are fast bonded already. The little black pup has been named Iris and she shows all the signs of being a smart, easy-to-train dog. Except for the potty training so far. She lived her life outside where she was born and we are still working on the whole where to go to the bathroom thing.

So there is your bit of news. Likely you'll be able to meet Iris at the wedding she is almost 3 months old so not a wee pup (Jodi was only 6 weeks old when we got her). Jodi is gruffly tolerating her and enjoying the extra attention she gets as we make sure we are 'fair'. The cats are all hissy but we think they'll warm up. I have pictures but I don't have time to upload them right now. So you'll have to wait.

Off to work now....

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Throw Away Vote

I am actually very offended by the concept of the throw away vote - that somehow in this democratic country, expressing your view on election day however it is that you do it could be 'throwing your vote away'. Nonsense. I think the real ideal is if everyone voted. If everyone did, I think we would have a very different government.

I suppose in the very old days when there were only two parties, things were simpler. There was always a clear majority. With the arrival of the NDP, that ended that. And now there is the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party as well. I think the expanding list of political parties more accurately reflect the variety of points of view in our country. I don't actually think there is anything wrong with a minority government. What I do think there is something wrong with is a group of adults (mostly men) who can't manage to work together effectively - who are continually back stabbing each other, showing each other up, undermining each other, etc. in an effort to either stay in power or seize power. Pathetic. Really. No party has ever represented every single Canadian. Stephen Harper's less than most. Yet he persists in ramrodding neocon agendas. And of course the only reason we are having an election right now is because the NDP and the Liberals thought that with the revelation of Conservative corruption in the last election that they had a chance to grab the power. C'mon. I'm not stupid. Why did they choose now to bring the government down? There have been lots of other chances. I think its true - Canadians don't want another election. We want them to grow up and work together. At least, that's what I think.

When Dean gets home from work we will drive down to the elementary school and exercise our democratic right. I am voting Green. I am voting Green because I don't really think there is another decent choice. Conservatives think that the way to improve things is to give breaks to huge corporations which in turn, out of the goodness of their hearts will create more jobs. Despite the fact that this particular theory has been well proven to not work so well as corporations take their tax breaks and use them to set up jobs in third world countries (a move, I might add, that is rife with systemic racism as we underpay their citizens and grossly pollute their countries). Liberals in power for decades in this country - what do they really stand for anymore other than wanting to get back in power? They are responsible for the mess that is our current health care system thanks to Paul Martin. Like the Conservatives when they make cuts it is the poorest and least franchised that feel it while their friends in big business are rewarded. Then there is the NDP. I know Jack Layton knows how to scrap. What I am uncertain of is if he knows how to cooperate. They are controlled by big Unions which are not so very different than big corporations. Their stand on the environment lacks teeth and specificity. They believe in Universal Childcare but they don't support parents in looking after their own children.

I am voting Green because I think the environment is the biggest issue facing us. The dichotomy between the economy and the environment is a false one. Without an environment, there is no economy. Just ask those people in the Southern US how their economy is doing right now. But the Green Party is far from a one issue party. Elizabeth May was actually a Conservative and served in Brian Mulroney's cabinet. She believes in income splitting which would help families that have one parent staying home to look after the children. Right now my sister, Katie and her husband Brent would be better off tax-wise if they both had two crappy jobs. But because Brent works and Katie is at home, they are penalized. She also believes in supporting parents to look after their own children. I am all for supporting families where both parents want to work but I am frustrated in the systemic lack of recognition and support we give parents who want to look after their own children. Like a daycare worker is somehow more qualified than I am. There are plenty of statistics that show that children do better when a parent is home to look after them. Of course there are many factors that go into that (like socio-economic status) but it almost seems like we are pushing parents out the door to drop their kids off at daycare. We need good daycares and daycare workers should be paid better than they are AND we also need to support those parents who have the desire to be there for their own kids everyday. Its only fair. The Green Party platform is the only one that really make sense to me. It seems like common sense and listening to Elizabeth May is like a breath of fresh air - no wonder they want to keep her out of the debates! It is both fiscally and socially responsible - a balance seldom seen in Canadian politics. And she isn't afraid of taking on the real issues of our day.

And that is not throwing away my vote. That's putting my vote right where I believe it should be.

Anyways, in case you were tired of reading about lambs, there is my political rant for the year. I'll shut up now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


There are no more white birds in my back yard (well, except for an Ameracauna and a silky). Andrew helped me slaughter and butcher the last 7 today. Wow. This has been intense! Wedding preparations. The chicken for the dinner is now ready. Not only did we slaughter them but we cut the chickens up and then de-boned and cubed the breast and packaged it all separately. I am so grateful to the help that I had. I would not have been able to do it without the kind help of friends.

I am riding a wave of exhaustion right about now. Last weekend we did 14. This Saturday Bozenka and I did 12 birds (with Dean's help for the killing). Monday I did 10 more with the very able help of Louise. And today with some assistance from Drew I finished off the last 7. It is an all day event whenever it happens. I am sitting here at the computer to tired to remove my blood spattered clothes and have a shower.

The end of the meat birds is always a bit like putting down a heavy piggy back. Tomorrow morning I do not have to get up and move the chicken tractor or fill up their 10 gallon waterer. I don't have to feed them 5 times a day.

And that's good because there are about a million other things I have to do to get ready for the wedding....

And the weird thing? All the meat chickens are dead except one. But he's not in the back yard. He's here, in the house. Yes, George the chicken (Chicken George?) lives. Weird, eh? He seems happy enough. His muscles are wasting away. About all he can move are his wings and his head and neck. We put him out on the lawn in the sunshine on the weekend but he only flapped his wings and looked happy. Dean was too afraid an eagle would swoop down and take him so he was closely watched. Every day Dean makes sure he has food and water and cleans up his poop.

Irrational, sure. But its one of the things I love about my husband. There seems to be a purpose to George's life. Not like his compatriots. He won't be feeding us or the dogs. But he brings something to us, nonetheless. Eryn insists we can't tell if he is happy but we think he is. He gets petted and talked to and looked after. He's still got the look in his eye that led me to call him 'my little friend' and prompted me to bring him in from being trampled to death in the mud by his faster growing friends. Who knows how long George will live. Not long, I'm sure. But as it is, the disabled chicken has survived all his able bodied brothers (who have taken up their new abode in my freezer).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Euclid gives more answers

This morning Eirina was pawing the ground and I knew that my third set of lambs was on its way.

Here are the two little hooves emerging. Do you know what my first thought was? Despite having 2 white parents, Eirina does not have 2 'white' genes. And one of her colour genes hiding under the white is black. Yes, its true. Those were my first thoughts. And those details are now carefully recorded in my sheep genetics book. I know, rather geeky... I have always found genetics fascinating! I think if I didn't get a degree in psychology, I would have got one in biology.

Here he is. Yes, our fifth boy. And he turned out to not be part of a set but a single. But he's enormous. Our lambing has followed a weird pattern so far. The lambs have gotten progressively bigger. Euclid, as he has been named, is bigger than Draga's two born on Saturday and they are bigger than Lifa's two born last week. And the weather has gotten progressively colder for each lambing. It was snowing this morning as Euclid entered the world.

As you can see, not only does Eirina have a black gene for colour but she also carries the recessive spotting gene. You can see here, that she is indeed related to Draga. (Draga is the daughter of Eirina's great-great-grandmother - they are both decended from the same black, polled ewe who is a great milker). In fact, when Draga saw him, she thought he was hers (he looks like Mila of last year) and started nickering for him to come to her.

Take a look at those horn buds, eh?! Eirina was a pro and pushed him out with almost no assistance. And he was lively and quick onto his feet. Already so big he has to kneel down to nurse.

Here he is against her so you get an idea of the scale of him.

There you have it. 5 lambs in 7 days. My flock has gone from 6 to 11. I will sleep peacefully tonight. Only Brida left to go and she looks like she has a ways to go yet - her bag is just barely starting to develop.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New Batch of Boys

I have a routine now for when I have new lambs. The first day they stay sequestered in their lambing pen. Then for day 2, I tie all the other sheep out and let the mom and babes out of the lambing pen to cavort unmolested around the sheep field. At the evening, before I let the rest of the sheep back in, I put mom and lambs back in their lambing pen for the night. I do this until they are a week old. By then the lambs can run fast enough to get away from any sheep and they respond to their moms well enough to come when she calls.

Draga had practically become spherical! This morning when I walked Draga out to her tether, her tail continued to stick straight out. Anytime I looked out at her, I could see that her tail was still sticking straight out. Mid morning, I went to take a closer look and found an amniotic sac hanging down. I took her off the tether and she practically ran back to the pen and over to the corner.

Rhiannon watched from a perch in the walnut tree.

It didn't take long for this guy to come out. I did help a little. He presented with one foot forward and one tucked back so I fished out his other front leg and helped push her vulva back over his big head. One little black boy. Well, hardly little. Actually he is bigger than Lifa's babies who are almost a week old!

She set to work licking him off. She birthed him on top of hay instead of the nice straw I had out in a couple of other spots so there was lots of green stuff stuck to his sticky wet wool. Within minutes he was on his feet and then his brother was on the way.

Here's Rhiannon with lamb #1, keeping him out of the way so Draga could focus on lamb #2. You can see how big he is, can't you?

Here he is, even bigger than the first. I put a towel down to try and help with all the hay debris.

Both looking for milk. It didn't take long for them to find it. And that was it - just two lambs but they are a nice big size! Look what long legs they have!

I settled them into a lambing pen. They are doing very well. The twin white lambs have been checking them out through the slats. Before long I know they will be a gang of ram lambs and I will be reminded about the origins of the word 'rambunctious'...

So, born on Amy and Bethany's birthday (and Owen and Christian's). Any name suggestions? (remember they are food...) We were thinking Beetroot and ?

I can sleep well for a few nights now.... Eirina's next!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Feasting from the Garden

Last night we had our first feast from the garden. I made spanakopita with nettles instead of spinach and potent garlic scapes and we had nachos with lots of green onions. Perhaps those don't sound like they go together but they were really good.

Here are my dependable nettles. That was the first time I had ever made spanakopita, first time I had ever used phyllo pastry, too. I must say I did a better job of the filling than handling the pastry. But it still tasted awesome!

Our first feast from the garden is one of family's seasonal rituals. In the past it has always been nachos with fresh green onions but while I was scoping out the green onions to see if they were ready yet, I noticed just how well the nettle was coming a long and I suddenly had the idea to make Spanakopita. Seemed only fitting on the day our first lambs arrived. Are you eating anything from your garden yet?

Monday, April 11, 2011

And A Little Lamb Shall Lead Them

I know it is supposed to be child. Humour me. Dean was in Banff this weekend being a Guitar God (his quote). They got stuck behind a terrible accident where two semi's took out a bridge. And the detour had a detour. He would have been home by 5pm but instead he was home by 3:30am. So when he woke me up, I decided to go and check on the sheep. There they all were, everything the same. Except, hang on! Where is Lifa? There she was in the far corner and I knew as soon as I shone my light over there and instead of one set of eyes reflecting light there were four.... or what? She had twins! Twin white ram lambs. Little Lifa who was born less than a year ago herself. Not only did the LAMB (she is considered a lamb until she is 18 months old - so that would be this November) give birth first but she gave birth to twins which is very rare for an Icelandic ewe to do on her first lambing. Last year I was so pleased with Eirina for giving birth like her mother did - easily with no help from me when I wasn't even looking! I am even more pleased with Lifa who did the same and with twins! And they are a nice size, too! Bigger than she was.

It was still dark (dawn is just barely lighting the sky as I write this) so I was having a hard time getting her into the lambing pen where she would be safe from the other sheep and have time to get well bonded. Eventually I used the leash and carried the lambs.

I hadn't seen them eat yet and so far she didn't seem keen on the idea. They were getting cold - their mouths were only lukewarm. So I got in the pen an sat down in the straw and worked out the waxy plug from each teat. I attached the smaller lamb first (currently being called 'little brother'). First I squirted milk into his mouth and he caught on. While he slurped, I held 'big brother' inside my coat. After he had slurped himself into tiredness, I did the same for 'big brother'.

This one is little brother. You can see that he doesn't seem to have the phaeomelanin factor. And on the geeky side, they are both white so I still have no clue about the colours lurking underneath Lifa's white.

As for the hot udder theory.... well, yesterday morning I checked them all. Draga's udder is still hot but Lifa's was hot yesterday, too. So the theory worked for her. However Draga's onto 72 hours here...

Right now I smell like lamb birth. Its a great smell! I'm on my way back out to check on them again!

PS. I've done that and they are both nice and warm and resting together while mama eats hay.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sheep Geekiness

Still waiting for lambs. It appears that my observations were not correct. Sometimes ewes have what is called a 'false heat' and then have a proper heat about 10 days later. If that is correct, then Eirina will be the 15th and Lifa the 18th. In the meantime, Draga seems to be in labour. Isn't she huge? Last night it was below freezing so I set my alarm for every two hours to get up and check on her. She isolated herself from the rest of the flock and her bulk seems to have shifted back. She is even more enormous now, if that is possible.

For bedtime reading I have been reading the lambing sections in all my sheep books. Last night I was reading Ron Parker's "The Sheep Book". I learned that last night when the milk bag is hot to the touch, lambing is less than 36 hours away. So this morning I went out and touched Draga, Eirina and Lifa's udders. Only Draga's is hot to the touch. So there, is your first bit of sheep birthing trivia.

Here's your next bit. The size of the milk bag is in part due to the ram because the hormones for bag development comes from hormones from the lamb inside. Interesting because I made sure that Renauld came from a good milky mother with a large milk bag. I thought it would mean that he would throw good milky daughters. Maybe it will have some effect but all my ewes make large bags and are very good milky mothers. So the size of lambs a ram throws is not only determined by the genetics of structure but also by the effect the lamb's hormones have on milk production. Fascinating, eh?

But here is the real geekiness. Awhile ago when apparently I had nothing better to do... I decided to try to decode my flock's colour genetics. I found this great article and this one, too. Together I was able to make sense of this somewhat complicated thing. So here's what I learned. There are basically 3 sets of genes that control the colour and patterns of a sheep. The first (factor B) is the base colour. All sheep come in one of two colours - black or brown. Brown is recessive. And white is not a colour, it is a pattern that is dominant over all other genes. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The next is factor A which is the gene for patterning. There are 6 different pattern possibilities. Solid pattern is the most recessive and white pattern is the most dominant. I learned studying this that Draga does not have the badger face gene. She has the spotting gene and I think she also has the mouflon gene. Mouflon is the opposite of badger face. Mouflon is a dark sheep with a white belly and stripe going up to the bottom of the jaw. It is hard to tell exactly because of her spots. But I am pretty sure she is both spotted and mouflon. But spots are not a pattern gene.

Spotting or not spotting is the third gene called factor S. Spotting is recessive to no spotting.

There are also some other minor genes that affect colour. One is the Phaeomelanin Factor. This is a gene that "allows the wool follicle to produce a pigment called phaeomelanin which has been described as tan, yellow or sometimes red. It has been seen most frequently on the head, legs and tail of white sheep."

So then I set about decoding my sheep's genes. ( I told you this was a really geeky post... still reading?)

Renauld was the easiest. For one thing, I get to see several examples of his genetics every year. Also he has several recessive traits which eliminates a lot. This is what I know about him:
Factor B black brown
Factor A solid solid
Factor S no spotting spotting

Because Renauld is a registered ram, I could even go onto the Canadian registry and get really geeky. I knew he must have a gene for brown because he has had brown lambs. If he was black/black, he would only have black lambs. And sure enough, on the registry, I discovered his mother was brown. I knew he must have the spotting gene because he had two spotted lambs last year with Draga. And obviously he has two genes for solid because that is recessive and he is solid.

Next up: Brida, my brown ewe.
Factor B brown brown
Factor A solid solid
Factor S no spotting ?

If she ever has a spotted lamb, then I will know she has the spotting gene. If she does carry the spotting gene, there is only a 1 in 4 chance she will have a spotted lamb.

Next up: Draga, my spotted ewe
Factor B black ?
Factor A mouflon? solid
Factor S spotting spotting

So far Draga has had 3 lambs (stillborn the first year) and they have all had the base colour of black. I know Draga's mom was solid black. But she could possibly carry a brown gene, too. I will know if she ever has a brown lamb.

Next up: Eirina, my white ewe
Factor B ? ?
Factor A white ?
Factor S ? ?

I know both her mother and father were white. So there is a real possibility that her two pattern genes are both white which means I will never find out what is underneath that because those are dominant over everything else. So far she has had one white lamb. I will find out more sometime soon...

And last: Lifa, Eirina's daughter
Factor B ? ?
Factor A white solid
Factor S ? ?

Because her father is Renauld, I know that she has only one gene for the white pattern and must have one for solid. There is a 50/50 chance for her to have a coloured lamb and that will tell me what colour(s) she has hiding under the white. And that will also give me a clue to what is under Eirina's white, too.

Both Eirina and Lifa have the phaeomelanin factor. The both have a rust coloured band across the back of their necks, rust legs and a little rust coloured tail.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Day of the Tomato

No lambs yet. And I am getting more and more tired. When it finally happens, I'll be so tired, I'll sleep right through it. Right now my concern and anticipation wakes me up early every morning. Monday it was 3:20. Tuesday it was 4am. This morning it was 5am. I stumble out of bed in the dark and down the stairs. Throw on my coat and the headlamp and some clogs and go across the driveway to the sheep pen. Nothing. Yet. It is, of course, inevitable. And although I am on high alert, I am not as anxious as in previous years and I do have a certain amount of confidence in their ability to give do it on their own.

In the meantime I have been busy with tomatoes. My friend and I ended up with 215 seedlings.... yah.... So the last couple of days we have been busy transplanting. We each took 60 for ourselves and some for friends and there are still a lot left over! She took some and I took some of the leftovers. Here are the ones I have.

I am feeling very organized this year. Before we started transplanting, we inventoried them and then planned which ones we wanted to have and added them up. Otherwise we get carried away. 215 seedlings is the evidence of just how carried away we get. And 60 tomatoes is already a lot! So now I know exactly how many of each kind of tomato I have.

All available appropriate space is covered in pots and yoghurt containers of tomatoes. What kinds did I go with, you ask? (c'mon, you could ask!)

Here's my exhaustive list:
1 Mortgage Lifter
2 Orange Cherry
10 Large Italian
6 Oxheart
4 Long Pointy Tomatoes (LPT)
1 German Gold
5 Dr. Wyches Yellow Tomato
5 Red with Orange Stripes
3 Old German
1 Money Maker (you must hear James Brown singing when you read that one...'shake your money maker')
2 Yellow Globe
2 German Pink
1 Orange with Green Stripes
5 Cherokee Purple (from Amy)
2 Black Krim
2 Moskovitch
2 Green Zebra
2 Silvery Fir Tree
3 Purple Pear
1 Early Latah
2 Pink Striped

There did you get that far? 60 (or so... might be 61...) tomatoes. Summer dreaming.... Did I tell you it was sleeting here today? Mixed snow and rain? Yup it was.... In that way, I'm glad there aren't lambs yet. Please warm up!