Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Long Road Home

So, I just got home last night from a trip down memory lane. I won't even go into the white-knuckle drive home over Lookout Pass late last night but, suffice it say, the extra money it would have taken to fly roundtrip from Missoula would have been worth double the amount! Note to self, Montana still gets snowstorms in late March so plan accordingly.

Memory lane was actually my late grandparents' old farm in West Texas, Circleback area to be specific, where my dad was raised. Don't worry if you're not familiar with it as it's just a crossroads in the middle of acres and acres of farmland. I was lucky enough to spend some of my early summers there, running wild through the corn and cotton fields, swinging in a tire swing in a tree next to the house, slurping down Big Red soda (anyone familiar with it?), eating watermelon fresh from the garden and whittling sticks on the front porch with Grandpa and my brothers. Well, as it happens, life goes on, grandparents pass away and farms are sold but, as it also happens, people like to return to their roots so, on a blustery March day, my dad, my brothers and I made a pilgrimage to our old stomping grounds.

The farm has been deserted now for 30 years but it's funny how the memories still linger. The front porch is still there where we sat and whittled happily away, the tree with the tire swing has fallen over and been sandblasted by the blowing sand but I could almost see the tire swinging in the wind. The chicken coop where my brother, Michael, once got himself trapped inside is still standing silently in the corner behind the house and, if you listened closely, you could still imagine the clucking of the hens who once lived there. The screen door that lead to the kitchen was hanging listlessly from it's frame but the squeak of the spring and the happy slap it used to make as we ran in from a summer's thunderstorm still rang in my mind.

As for the farmhouse, it is a silent sentinel surrounded by land that has been placed in the soil bank and which has been allowed to return to the native grasses of the plains. No one comes to visit any more except for the coyotes and other creatures who wander through occasionally. It just sits there quietly, waiting. But the memories; the good and the bad, the ones of working the land through brutal winters and even crueler summers, of families, of children wrestling, fighting, laughing, loving, of friends and family visits, of lessons that snapping turtles really do snap and rattlesnakes are nothing to mess with, and of finding out that there is a big, wide world out there just beyond the horizon, and discovering that the road home is a long one.....yea, those memories still linger....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Searching For The Sun

I have been hovering and watching my little trays of peat pods like a mother hen watching her eggs and I am so proud and happy to report I HAVE SEEDLINGS! I know, I know, this is something we've experienced since planting our first sunflower seed in first grade but, all these years later, it still amazes me. I ran around looking for Erik and made him come and gaze at these brave, little starts struggling up through their damp peat moss. Look at these gorgeous little guys! One day...nothing! And the next....PLANTS!

Now that I've gotten this positive reinforcement on seed-starting, I am like a junky looking for my next fix. I can't pass up any seed stands and I dream of all the plants I could grow. Erik is threatening to cut off my "garden budget" if I don't start controlling myself but he'll be changing his tune when I start harvesting the first butternut squash, or Anaheim chile! Or pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, Walla Wallas, basil, sage, tomatoes (2 varieties), spicy and sweet mesclun, zucchini, watermelons, jalapenos, beets, carrots, peas and beans.... Hmmm, ok, I admit, I've got a problem.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Harbingers of Spring

Wow! What a beautiful weekend we had! Sunny, warm and gorgeous which sent me straight into full gardening mode. I raked, trimmed, pruned and planted and rejoiced at the change in seasons. I was thrilled to see my garden coming back to life. Take a look at the crocus poking through the lavender and lamb's ear. They are practically exploding with color! So nice to see after a long winter of white, gray, black and brown.

Well, since I was in full gardening esctasy, I lost my mind and actually decided to start some seeds. I am horrible at the whole "house plant" thing. Give me a patch of dirt...anywhere!, and I can make magic happen but, hand me a plant and tell me to take it inside and the plant and I both struggle along until I can eventually get it back outside. Be that as it may, I am really tired of being at the mercy of whatever seedlings our local Farmers Market participants have decided to grow so I got the bee up my bonnet and, voila!, I am now hovering over 3 trays of peat and seeds. I even took it so far as noting in my dayplanner when I should see them sprout and when each plant should be mature and full of bounty. Hmm, I just hope I can get them up and keep them alive until I can get them outside. Cross you fingers for me!

If my plan succeeds, I should be rolling in various peppers, pumpkins, Walla Wallas and tomatoes not to mention giant sunflowers, carnations, candytuft and sweet peas. Oh, and did I mention the herbs? Yea, sweet basil, cilantro, and oregano and I'm bound and determined to find organic peppermint so my friend Lori and I can brew our very own peppermint tea.

So, be prepared, folks, for gardening updates from now until the first snow flies. Until then, happy gardening!

Friday, March 7, 2008


Well, I realize it's been awhile since my last post so I thought I'd get something up. I managed to catch a pretty bad cold and it really wiped me out and since I've been hanging around the house and haven't been up to much, I thought I'd use this time to give my dog, Chloe, a little face time.

Chloe is the dog I said I absolutely did not want. There were really ony 2 criteria that I was adamant about when we were looking for a buddy for Riley: 1) It needs to be male and 2) No Labs (sorry, Lab-lovers. They're great dogs but just a bit too happy and goofy for me). I was hoping for a large, male German Shepherd since our old man had recently passed away but, you know what they say about the best laid plans.... Chloe was one of the smallest of her litter, was female and, gasp, obviously a black lab cross. But, as I was reaching for one of the larger male puppies in her litter, she just crawled up on my shoe and wouldn't budge so, heck, who am I to say no to fate? Plus, the one thing we do know about Chloe is that her mother was an AKC registered German Shepherd so we were hoping that would temper the Lab enthusiasm level. Erik likes to say that Chloe is a German Shepherd in Black Lab's clothing. Personality-wise she is all German Shepherd but in looks she is truly Black Lab.

She is the other athlete in the house and is never happier then when she sees Erik pulling out his running shoes. We call her the Stealth Bomber because she is so quick and silent that she can swoop in and around you and you never see her coming. She has also been known to swoop in, take your legs out from under you and disappear before you even hit the ground. You'll just find yourself flat on your back wondering what the heck just happened. It drives our other dog, Riley, insane the way she swoops in and out and, at one point, he got so frustrated that he started to try to grab onto her as she'd run past him. We had to put a quick stop to that behaviour though as most of the time, instead of stopping her, he'd be left standing with a hunk of her flesh in his teeth. (We never said Riley was the brightest bulb in the chandelier.)

Chloe is fluent in 4 different languages; English, French, Spanish and Sign Language. If you even think the words "Walk", "Park", "Drive", "Camp" or "Treat" you might as well get to it because Chloe will start screaming which alerts the other two to what's going on and then you have a swirling mass of doggie-ness on your hands. She plays "Seeing-Eye Dog" for Daisy who is partially blind and Search and Rescue is one of her all-time favorite games. You can never get lost if Chloe is anywhere nearby and good luck at having privacy during your bathroom break while hiking or camping. She just assumes you want to be found and pointed out to everyone.

She's shy and sweet but will take down a St. Bernard to save one of her own, is too smart for her own good, has a tail like an otter and can launch a wineglass like a rocket.... and we are so lucky to have her in our lives.


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