Chili Today, Clean Tomorrow

First sock of the season!

I have on socks AND a sweatshirt.

There are rain puddles, as well as leaves and acorns, on the patio.

I have closed all the windows and doors. Put the fans away.

The remains of chili and cornbread litter the kitchen counter.

I am happy.

After the horrible winter last, I vowed not to complain of summer’s heat. I made it about 6 weeks before that vow was trashed. In my defense, it was one of the hottest Junes on record. The rest of the summer didn’t relent. Oh how I have whined.

I never complain about spring or fall lest they’re too wet. I love both seasons – one for it’s advent of outdoor living; the other for domestic nesting.

Years ago I read somewhere that it’s more efficient to do heavy cleaning in the fall rather than the traditional spring cleaning. The reason centered on the fact that most of us spend a great deal of time outside in the summer and track in dirt and sand followed by pressing our sweaty bodies into the upholstery. That is certainly true of me. Couple that with window fans, a dirt road, and my general disdain for cleaning, and one might understand how flippin’ grimy my house is.

This is especially disheartening given the work I did last fall and spring to clean. Except for the kitchen, the house was cleaner than it had been since before the car accident. All summer I have tried to summon the gumption to tackle the kitchen. It’s just been too hot to attack cupboards, walls, and appliances with bleach and caustic substances. Hell, it’s been too hot to do damn near anything.

Besides the filth, there was the invasion of the spiders. An arachnophobe would need a straitjacket should he or she wander into my home. While all the varieties common to this area are represented, Daddy Longlegs have had a population explosion.

I have giant Daddy Longlegs and baby Daddy Longlegs and teenagers, old folks and middle-agers. It’s the cat’s opinion that they were imported for her amusement.

Periodically, I suck some of them into the vacuum cleaner, but my ethnic cleansing did little to stem the tide of uninvited immigration. Since they don’t bother me and they do keep the other insect population down, I adopted a principle of peaceful coexistence provided webs weren’t built in doorways. (Nobody likes a face full of spider web.)

Today would have been a good day for fall cleaning other than the fact it was a perfect day to snuggle in blankets and read a trashy novel. The day was cool and rainy; and Babette was cuddly. I should have slung bleach around, vacuumed spiders, put the summer clothes away, and so on and so forth ad nauseam infinitus. But I didn’t. And I’m not sorry.

I’ve got on socks and a sweatshirt. It’s chill in this house and I’m fixin’ to make hot chocolate. Viva la Fall.

Morning Walk

Babette walking point.

Babette walking point.

Inexplicably, I woke up at 4:20 a.m. today – wide-awake and ready-to-go.  Morning is my least favorite time of day; I never wake up ready for anything other than coffee; and 4:20 a.m. is traditionally nothing but painful.  I have to admit that ready-to-go with nowhere-to-go can be quite pleasing.  Choosing what to do is much nicer than trudging out of bed with the day’s agenda already set.


I went through a pot of coffee and watched my patio go from lamp-lit, newly-fallen snow to dawn-lit snow.  The urge to grab the camera, a puppy, a coat and boots was irresistible.  I’ve long wanted to get photos of the old barn in the snow – not having to work today made it an especially good day to accomplish that goal as did the unusual circumstance of being alert in the dreamscape of a cloudy dawn on new-fallen snow.


Babette, the grande dame of the three puppies, was chosen.  I figured her heavy coat would protect her from the cold.  She’s a sweet little thing that rarely gets her fair share of attention, because the other two puppies are far more demanding.  I’m sure Babette thinks of them as incorrigible and obnoxious brats, which is a pretty fair analysis.


Babette and I headed out.  She headed down the road to my parents’ house and was quite confused when I called her back.  She then assumed we were getting in the car and waited patiently for me by the driver’s door.  I confused her again when I headed to the back of the house, but she readily joined me.

Old Barn

Old Barn


We visit the old barn now and again during the other seasons; but usually when I think to do it in the winter I’ve picked a day when it’s too icy, too muddy, or  too cold.  As soon as Babette figured out where we were going, she ran out front to protect me from marauding deer, renegade squirrels and the assorted wildlife residing in my little piece of the world.  She’s little, but she’s feisty.  If not for me, she’d be the alpha bitch of our pack.


We didn’t see any critters other than some soaring hawks.  The new snow wasn’t heavy enough to wrap us in that delicious silence of heavy snow, but it was so early that we were treated to a landscape still hushed by the moon.



Morning Moon

The old barn used to be accompanied by a small house.  Both were abandoned more than forty years ago.  The house burnt to the ground shortly after I moved here; and the ensuing decades have obliterated all signs of it.  Wild rose, grapevine, oak saplings, and shrub pine have taken its place. 


A few years ago, my dad was finally able to buy the land the barn occupies.  He tells me the barn is unsafe and needs to be torn down, but I don’t think he wants it gone anymore than I do. It has beautiful lines even as those lines move more and more towards the ground they used to rise above.  In this morning’s light, the weathered barn board, gray dawn, and white snow were soul soothing.   I’m no photographer and my camera is a relatively simple point and shoot, so I wasn’t able to capture the magic of it all.  Except for some flashes of color here and there, it was like falling into a black & white photo of a love affair with time. 


Another saggy grande dame.

Another saggy grande dame.

Babette and I continued our walk.  We found the lower pond frozen except for one small part.  We found tree stumps disappearing with the days and barbed wire merging with the thorns and brambles of wild plants left wild.  She and I peered very closely at things.  She because cataracts are forming and focus is getting hard; me because focus is always hard – my aging eyes having nothing to do with it.


Yesterday, I was sharing my favorite Youtube videos of West Virginia with some folks.  I commented at the time that sometimes I forget how much I love this place until I look at some of the images.  This morning had a similar effect.  This time of year, I don’t spend a lot of time outside; and I tend to forget that winter brings its own charms to both my landscape and my soul.  I may have to invest in heavy gear to keep my always-cold self comfortable.  I thoroughly enjoyed my walk.


Babette is curled up on her favorite pillow, deep in sleep.  Naps on lazy winter days are a hobby of mine.  It’s time for one, I think.  I have, after all, been up since 4:20 a.m.

Wild, wild turkeys couldn’t …

I’ve been promising myself, or perhaps threatening, to quit posting my meandering thoughts in inappropriate places and start a blog.  The idea being that reading me will be voluntary.  I’ve been thinking about this for years.

Today, while trying to photograph the W. Va Fur and Root sign that hangs in my kitchen, I noticed that the flock of wild turkeys were back.  The area I live in, a semi-rural area non pareil, has been undergoing explosive development.  My little piece of wild & wonderful has been getting a little less wild, but no less wonderful unless you count the spider infestation.  With some uneasiness it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen the phenomenally ugly old tom and his flock of willing followers for a goodly while.  I was fretting.

There he was.  This guy has stories to tell.  He’s quite tall, quite ancient and hideously scarred.  He’s been through a lot and I was glad to see that he’s still with us.  His flock is a noisy lot and the cacophony of of turkey chatter defies description on a qwerty keyboard.  I smiled to see him and the ladies looking for food under the wild rose.

So.  There I was with a digital picture of my beloved sign and a story to tell that was probably of no interest to anyone but me.  I fired up the laptop, set up an account, and here we are.  Or here I am.  And so, wild, wild turkeys couldn’t drag keep me away.