A full week of grey weather--noon looking nearly the same in terms of the absence of light as at daybreak or at evening.
The air has been thick with moisture--a mizzle-drizzle, fog, sometimes accelerating to a quarter hour of pelting cold rain.
Even on overcast mornings the backyard is busy with birds.
We have several varieties of woodpeckers who drill into dead branches --or into the yard-light post.
This is a red-bellied woodpecker--a strange name for a bird whose red coloring is displayed on his head. The markings of the back feathers resemble its larger cousin, the flicker.
Blue jays hoot and dive, prodding at the pecans which litter the ground beneath the tree.
The gentle and beautiful cardinals bounce over the ground.
Always there are sparrows.
I chopped down sunflowers on one of the last bright days in November, working only part way up the row before it was time to come inside and prepare lunch.
Although the standing sunflower stalks are untidy, the finches are happy to alight and
pluck out the seeds.
Bird-watching, greeting the day, assuring that I am out of bed in a timely way, consumes a good deal of feline energy first thing in the morning.
It is necessary to crash on a bed for a mid-morning nap.
The hitching rail at the Mustard Seed Store--to accommodate Amish customers.
I had plans--a mental list of 'things to do' during this week with Jim away.
Most of my plans were shoved aside by necessary tasks.
A house showing appointment has been arranged for early on Sunday afternoon.
I decided that various oddments would be best moved to the Pellyton farm rather than trying to tidy around them.
I spent several hours sorting the dozens of CD's which have lived in an old dresser.
Some went into a box for the charity shop, most were arranged in plastic storage boxes.
I removed the drawers one by one from the dresser, hauled it out to the garage/entry, freeing up space in the guest room.
The boxes, along with other items, went into the van.
I stopped at the courthouse before heading to the farm on Monday, needing to inquire why we hadn't received a property tax billing.
This inquiry used up over an hour as I traipsed to various offices, gave addresses of past and present property and finally succeeded in handing over a fairly large amount to satisfy our obligations.
At the farm, I found Pebbles the Horse in a poor way.
She has had so many bad turns during the past two years, has rallied, even been coaxed into sometimes swallowing her Cushings meds.
Her condition has deteriorated swiftly this autumn and I begged Jim to put her down rather than move her. For whatever reason, he couldn't bring himself to do that.
My heart ached for the elderly mare as she lurched down the hill, whickering to me in greeting.
I ranted aloud my protests that she should have come to this.
I refilled the manger with hay--hoped that she would be sensible and stay in the big stall out of the wet, but by the time I had unloaded the van and drove back down the lane she was out on the
It was not a surprise to find her down on Wednesday morning.
Mose Miller was at the farm before me with a 'driver' loading yet more of the machinery and tools from the lower leather shop.
"I thought the horse was dead when I got here," he told me.
Mose had taken hay to where Pebs had fallen near the fence.
She couldn't get up, but raised her head to snatch at wisps of the hay.
I knew what needed to be done--but how?
The details are too harrowing to write--too painful for an animal lover to read.
Mose sent me to a compassionate neighbor who came and with quiet kindness ended the life of the old horse. I sat on the ground, holding her head and stroking her face, until this fine gentleman asked me to go to the house and wait until it was over.
Several men at the Mustard Seed rallied round, helped me contact yet another area man with a backhoe.
Arrangements were made to bury Pebbles there in the pasture, her last home.
The man, Steve, phoned me next morning when it was done to let me know that he had accomplished the task
'with respect for the animal.'
It was a difficult and exhausting day--made bearable by the kindness and practical help of our new neighbors.
A last sad footnote on returning 'home' was the discovery of Mamma Hiss-Hiss, the feral cat we've been feeding, lying dead in the road.
I slept little that night, beset by gruesome images--wondering how those who endure the blood and horror of war are ever able to sleep again!
I was back at the farm again this morning.
Did I mention that along with various and sundry household plunder I conveyed the four barn cats to the farm on Wednesday.
I installed them in the back entry/washroom with a big bowl of kibble, two bowls of water--and a litter box.
I dragged in two small wooden stands left behind by the Millers and positioned them under windows so that the cats could look out at their new world.
Willis dealt with this move with his usual aplomb; the girl cats huddled in distress on a shelf.
On Monday I will let them out to explore the yard and the little barn.
Their internal 'bearings' should have reset by then.
We persuaded Howard that his bits of furniture moved from Wyoming would be safely stored in the farmhouse until he needs them.
He and Jim positioned the table and chairs in the dining area with the hutch on the wall at the left.
I took up a checked cloth--and happened to spy a Christmas basket centerpiece in the top of a box I had put in the basement.
I took my red teakettle to place on the warming shelf of the wood range.
Howard's lodgepole bed and the two undistinguished dressers he found after moving here have been set up in the downstairs bedroom.
I brought bedding on Wednesday and later added the quilt.
Jim will begin the work of installing electricity in the house next week.
He has suggested that he may stay there some nights rather than make the 40 mile round trip
I paced through the house, upstairs and down--thinking how we may arrange furniture, partition the space to install bathrooms.
Although there was nothing I could do there, no task I could undertake without electric power, I wished I could stay, make a fire in the big black range, listen for the hum of the kettle
coming to the boil.
I placed a battery-operated clock on the top shelf of the hutch, unpacked the few bowls and plates I had brought with me.
Next week I will locate mugs, bring teabags and instant coffee, perhaps some canned soup and a box of crackers to place on the pantry shelves.
I want to live in this house, learn how the sun shines through the windows in all seasons;
Reluctantly, I said goodby to the barn cats, assured them I would return.
Down the basement stairs and out under the sun room, to stand for a moment looking
into the misty woods.
Looking north toward the carriage shed.
"Home" again, tires swishing on wet pavement--adjusting the windshield wipers to deal with varying amounts of rain.
Home to make up the wood fire in the basement, trundle the vacuum cleaner about, tidy the
The cats reminded me it was time for their 'tea'--milling about as I took an apple pie from the freezer and popped it in the oven.
I peeled potatoes, sliced celery and onion, made a cheese sauce for a hearty casserole.
The boy cats jumped into the sink, forked potato peelings out of my waste bucket.
Expectant feline faces, cats sitting in a row--waiting.
'Right,' I announced. "We'll all have our 'tea!'
I switched on the electric kettle, took down a mug.
Out with the cat dishes, snap the top from the tin of fish-y food.
Dole out dollops of cat food, referee so that the greedy ones don't push aside the slower eaters.
Tea and a grilled cheese sandwich for me; a few minutes spent planning for new curtains, measuring fabric, plotting how to make that bought for three windows suffice for four at the farmhouse.
A long week--weather that does nothing to lift a weary heart or restore a tired body.
An exchange of 'messages' with my sister, a phone call from Howard.
A glance around at what I have accomplished to make the house presentable.
The sound of rain beating down outside.
Nellie-Cat pads down the hallway, reminding me that it is late and time for bed.
Jim will be home tomorrow evening.
We will get through the house showing on Sunday.
Next week work can begin on the farmhouse.
We will build a fire in the black range and the kettle will hum.
Perhaps the sun will shine!
Pebbles in Wyoming