The Hat

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I received this hat as a Christmas present a few years ago. I thought it was the dumbest hat ever. The earflaps? Man, what a dork. I put those down and immediately make the “L” on my forehead.

And the lights on the bill? What’s up with that. And camo?? I don’t do camo. I don’t own anything camo.

But ya know…. It’s come in handy. Cold as it’s been, those ear flaps are invaluable.

And the lights, well, that saves me from holding the flashlight in my mouth. Because sometimes I drop it in the chicken pen and then I do actually hesitate for a couple seconds before I put It back in my mouth figuring a little dirt never hurt anyone. But that hat. I groan everytime I put it on and I’m thankful that it keeps my ears warm.

In his book, “Semi True”, Russ Ringsak says, “I couldn’t blame nature for trying to murder me but I wished she wasn’t in such a hurry.” Yeah, really. Does it have to be this cold?

You know it’s cold when I get this many water bucket stumps piled up.

I’ve got a small outside water tank with a tank heater in it. I put the frozen water buckets in there while I put out corn (which is supposed to be for the chickens and ducks, but seems in the winter, only the turkeys and deer find it.) After doing the corn, I can just dump out the ice from the buckets, refill, and take back to the chickens. They don’t actually drink much. The 50 chickens drink maybe a gallon per day.

Meanwhile, my ducks that won’t come eat this corn, some of them, the ‘wild’ ones, are down in the pond.

I know it’s cold when the pond gets ice on the edges. The water comes from springs, through the pipe, under the ice at the top of the picture.

Although since the hawk got a duck in the pond last week, I don’t put corn out there anymore. And the ducks aren’t that interested in going over there anyway.

This is Humphrey being curious about the hawk. Humphrey is very curious about everything.

Ever gotten a gift you don’t like yet still find valuable?

Fond Memories

The Child I wrote about in “Child-Proofing” in December has come and gone (almost two weeks ago by now). Our schedule pretty much revolved around hers for 4 ½ days. We read stories, ate together, watched short videos my sister (her grandma) had brought, and she played with misc. items when sitting in the booster seat at the table, which was one of her favorite places – it was like her “office”. We got out the rhythm instruments and found she loved dancing to a good beat.

We tried to get things done while her daddy put her down for naps. She pretty much respected the boundaries I’d created (cloth hiding shelves, etc.), and we showed her which cupboards had the pans she could play with, and where “her” corner was, complete with a doll napping in a crate-bed – modeling behavior we hoped to see! She spent quite a lot of time at the kitchen sink “washing” dishes.

Unfortunately it was quite cold the entire time, so we didn’t do much outdoors. We bundled up for outings to visit Great-grandma Hope every day, and went out to eat once.

Although I am mostly relieved to have my life and my house back, I kind of miss the little tyke. But am glad we have some photos to show my mom, to jog her memory about who was here and why.

What’s your fondest memory of someone who has visited you?

Today’s post comes to us from Occasional Caroline.

I don’t really have a bucket list, but for quite a while I’ve thought it would be delightful to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. It’s tough to predict when to be there, but last year I thought I had it nailed. I found a website ( ) that predicts and tracks the probable peak bloom days for the annual display. Without knowledge of this website, you probably do not know that there is an “indicator tree” that helps the National Park Service fine tune the prediction of Peak Bloom. For reasons too complicated for me to comprehend, one particular tree hits stage one of the 6 stages of blossom development nearly 2 weeks before the all the rest; the others usually follow on a predictable timetable. Usually, but not in 2017. 2017 was not a typical year in DC, on many levels.

The latest information and forecasts on when Washington DC’s cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin will reach peak bloom in Spring 2018.

But I digress. In late February, due to a very mild winter in the nation’s capital, the indicator tree indicated that the 2017 bloom would possibly be the earliest in history and particularly spectacular. The original prediction was March 10-13. The earliest ever recorded was March 15, the latest, April 18, and average somewhere around the last week of March to the first week in April. The whole show lasts 1-2 weeks, from buds to petals on the ground and green leaves on the trees; and peak lasts 2-3 days. That time frame was particularly convenient for us to take a trip last spring, so the planning began. We decided to leave on March 11, the day after our granddaughter’s 7th birthday party. We hit the road (yes, we drive on vacations) early Saturday morning, heading east. The plan was to be in DC from the 13-15 and then spend a week in the Williamsburg area. Day one was going well until we started hearing reports of the cold snap hitting the East coast. The NPS started pushing back the prediction for peak cherry blossom bloom. Suddenly the buds were encased in ice and it might possibly be the first no-bloom year in history. Peak, if there was to be one, would be at least a week later than previously predicted.

Time to rethink. Go to Williamsburg first, spend the week there and go to DC on the way home. Good plan. No problem changing reservations, peak Williamsburg season and peak cherry blossom season do not correspond. Remember the cold snap hitting the East coast. Yep, that includes Virginia. We weren’t looking for Florida weather, but 20s? Blustery, frigid winds? For days? We made the best of it, we went to the attractions that were open; most opened April 1. We were there March 13-20. We had a good time in Virginia and there was going to be at least a 50% of normal blossom “peak” on March 25, it was now March 20 and time to leave Williamsburg. Husband had been fighting off some insidious eastern US disease for a day or so, but seemed to be winning. It wasn’t peak yet, but this might be the closest we’d ever get, so we scheduled a Cherry Blossom bus tour of DC for the next day, that would require getting up pretty early, but we could handle that. Right? Nope. The illness won during the night and a feverish, achy, mess of a man was not going to make it from Williamsburg to DC and enjoy a bus tour that day. Well medicated and much later than our original plan, we headed west without ever seeing a single cherry blossom.

I have a new cherry blossom plan in mind now. My chiropractor tells me that his uncle lived in Traverse City MI, which is known (at least in Michigan) as the cherry capital of the US. If they have cherries, they must have cherry blossoms, right? While checking it all out, I discovered that a shortcut to Traverse City is to go to Door County WI and take a ferry to Traverse City, thereby going across Lake Michigan instead of around it, and with a boat ride to boot. I’ll just look at pretty pictures of the DC peak, and head for Wisconsin next time I have a yen to see cherry blossoms.

Have you ever fought with Mother Nature?

The Cats of Yore

Oh, where are the cats of yore, those aloof, independent creatures who disdained we mere mortals unless it was dinner time,  and who were happy to accept a few scritches before they had enough and left to find a nice, solitary napping place?

We and our daughter have welcomed an entirely different breed of cat into our respective homes over the last year. I call these the needy cats, and they are interesting to live with. Daughter tells me that her cat, almost 9 months old, is either on top of her or following her around her apartment.  She wants to play with daughter all night, hence kitten’s banishment from the bedroom so daughter can sleep.

We adopted a 5 month old rescue kitten in October. Her name is Millie and she believes that the  best place to be is right by our side. She loves to sit on the counter and watch us wash dishes.  She wants to supervise when we cook. Any food we eat must be hers, too. We have tried to dissuade her jumping and intrusiveness with water from a squirt bottle, but that backfired. She really likes water.  She hurls her body against the closed bathroom door so it opens, and jumps in the tub even if the faucet is turned on. Wherever I sit, she plops herself in my lap, demanding to be petted. At night I am awakened by her gently patting my cheeks with her paws.

Given the tufts of hair between her toes, the tufts of hair in her ears,  and her extremely long and very fluffy, luxurious tail, we think she may be part Maine Coon. Perhaps that could account for her personality.

This is also the first time we have cats without having terriers, too. The terriers did pretty well with the cats (as well as any terrier can do with creatures they consider vermin).  The dogs would pursue and bark if the cats were too active or jumped on the table or counters.  Maybe the dogs squelched  the cats’  full expression of their personalities.  All our new cats are rescue cats. Perhaps they are just so grateful to us that they can’t stop thanking us.

The header photo is of Millie in the bathroom sink. The other photo is a head shot of Millie after we caught her with her face in the cream cheese. She provides lots of photo opportunities and topics for conversation, which are somewhat redeeming qualities.

What kind of personalities  have your animals had?

Jurassic Coincidence

Last summer I read a string of books that I didn’t enjoy – all from my self-imposed “lists”. I beat myself up for a bit and then went to the library website and typed in “dragon”.  All kinds of books came up, from all the Ann McCaffrey books to The Black Dragon River (a book on a journey down the Amur River) and then Dragon’s Teeth by Michael Crichton.  I’d never read anything  by Crichton (not sure how I managed that) so I put it on my waitlist.  This was the book that his wife found among his papers and published posthumously.

I just finished it and really enjoyed it. The postscript shed light on which characters were fictional and which were historic.  Charles Marsh and Edward Cope were real people – famous in paleontology for their 19th century rivalry.

Fast forward 24 hours. I just started A Brief History of Almost Everything by Bill Bryson (about the only Bryson I haven’t read yet – but that’s another blog).  As I got to Chapter Three, suddenly he is talking about Marsh and Cope and their rivalry.

I understand in my head that coincidence is just coincidence, but sometimes in my heart I wonder how I can go six decades and never discover something, then within a day or so, run across it again. And we’ve talked about it here before – including pointing out that it is common enough that there is a phrase for this – Baader Meinhof.  We’ve even put this phrase in our Baboon Glossary.

But it still amazes me when it happens.

Any coincidences in your life lately?


I spent more time this weekend clearing out unwanted stuff in the basement.  The three camping cots were donated to the homeless coordinator at work.  Girly, twin size bedding was donated to the thrift store operated by a service provider for our developmentally disabled citizens, and I tossed all of daughter’s dorm room Christmas decorations from her freshman year. Then I got to the shelving where we store things from our parents we don’t use but still have.

We are the proud owners of my mother’s cut glass punch bowl, along with 12 glass cups and a glass ladle.  We also have her silver service, as well as my mother-in-law’s silver service.  I started to reminisce about the fancy lunches, family wedding receptions, and  other soirees from my childhood and young adulthood where those things were used.  I remember having to choose with care which aunts would sit at each end of the table and pour out the coffee at my wedding reception. They had to be different aunts than the ones who got to cut the wedding cake for so it could be served.  Nice memories.

Husband thinks we should keep the punch bowl.  I would like to keep the silver tray from my mother-in-law’s silver service and have it replated, since it is large with a pleasing design but has some of the plating worn off.  I can live without silver coffee and tea pots.  They just don’t have parties like they used to.

Tell about some parties you remember.

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