Friday, August 12, 2011
In the first photo, although it looks like the sun rising, actually it is a drop of moisture that had fallen on my camera lens that I didn't notice until I saw the picture.
Peace to all!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
So, rather than whine about something of which I have no control, I shall share Dennis' recent trip with you. Enjoy the brief escape.
A lone Nicaraguan player, coming to the stadium early to wait for his game.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Looking back through the blog, there was a lot of talk about the weather. Around here, that has been the focal point of most folks' lives. At the beginning of the year, we had a lot of snow and ice. Then came spring and we had an unprecedented amount of rain and several tornadoes. I will always remember this because for two months this Spring, a bull dozer sat in my yard. But it was only in operation about half of that time because the ground was so wet and the rainfall was so fierce.
Now we are in late summer and what we wouldn't give for some of that rain right now. Ponds are dry, lawns and fields are parched, and cattle prices are low because the market has been inundated with animals their owners can neither need or water.
I don't like the sound my boots make when I walk around the mountain. Each step I take is a constant reminder the grass is so dry and brittle, it breaks off down to the bare earth, leaving an ugly footprint in my wake.
This was the year we were to have grapes in the vineyard. It began very promising. Each row had an abundance of clusters and our mouths would water every day as we checked them and monitored the growth. Then the rains came and they stayed wet far too long. Mold and rot set in. We had hopes for the clusters that survived. Then the long hot dry summer came. Despite being watered every evening around sunset, many of the survivors simply burned up and shriveled on the vine. At the moment, the Cynthiana is hanging on. But I have learned not to be too optimistic when it comes to things controlled by weather. We are definitely not in control. I have realized this year I could not be a farmer...the uncertainty it just too much for someone like me with an overly-controlling personality. I have no control over this at all and it frustrates me. But.....there is always next year!
Despite the weather, some wonderful things have happened this year. We have made a lot of progress on the mountain. Our mission to tackle a major project each year (we are eight years in now) is rolling along. Because we chose outside projects this year instead of inside ones, the work we have done is more obvious.
We cleared some unusable land, built a pond (now we need rain!), and are almost finished with the outdoor kitchen and fireplace. We see deer almost nightly now in front and they are mesmerizing to watch. We are hoping the pond will be a water source for all types of wildlife, but because of the lay of the land, we can't actually see in it from the house, so the creatures who need to bathe or drink or just cool off will have an element of privacy.
Dennis has traveled the world this year with his new job. He has gone to places we might not have initially considered as travel destinations, but after being there, he always found something unique and interesting, and with the exception of the very dangerous environment in Venezuela, he would look forward to returning to each country.
So far, this has been an eventful year. I am hoping to have the projects finished by Fall, and Dennis home a wee bit more so we can enjoy them. We live our lives in increments......he will be home 3 days on the 10th, 2 days on the 25, etc. We have to pack everything into these tight containers of time, but we have been doing this for so long, we know no other way. I guess our "normal" is like everyone else...........it's what you become accustomed to.
I look forward to the Fall, my favorite time of year, and what it holds for us all.
Best wishes to you and yours!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Most evenings, usually between 7:00 and dark, another family comes out of the shelter of the deep woods to visit the salad bar that is the freshly planted grass on the cleared land in front of our house.
They seem to be getting braver as they spend more time in the open. I know they see me watching them from the upper deck, sometimes with a camera, but usually just in awe of their beauty and grace.
I wish they weren't so brave. They are in danger and don't realize it. There are people who live nearby who love guns and seem to love killing things. How someone could purposly take the life of something so beautiful and perfect for their own personal pleasure is beyond anything I can comprehend. It isn't a sport if the one being hunted can't shoot back.
So, I will protect these beautiful creatures as best as I can and hope the evil nearby can not see over the fence and find out find out they are here.
I am so grateful they let me look...........hope you are too!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
So it is with a bit of reluctance on this quiet Sunday morning that I decided to share with you these lovely lilies I found in my rock garden early this morning while out taking a walk. Any one of those five extraordinary people could paint the subject with more identity and imagination. I cannot draw a stick man that would be recognized as a stick man.
But I, with my modest (meaning inexpensive) camera could not pass up the opportunity to capture these beautiful, fleeting treasures from the earth because I wanted them to be seen by eyes other than my own. I hope you agree.
Peace to all!
Friday, June 3, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Dennis and I would work in the hot sun, side by side, snipping clusters of grapes from the six rows of vines as we discussed politics, music, mutual friends and current events. In my vision of that day, we would be so excited to see our dream come to fruition after over five years of planning that we could hardly contain ourselves as we carried the buckets of fruit back to our kitchen.
I think about that day a lot.
Two weeks ago, the Chardonnay grapes were abundant and beautiful as they began to blossom and hang down from the cordons. The quantity of the clusters was almost overwhelming.
But then on May 23, we got an enormous amount of rain.....so much rain it sat on the ground for days. Soon after, we noticed a distinct change in the beautiful green grapes. Some of them began to turn dark.
After consulting the professionals, we learned two very distinct and somewhat disappointing things. First, all of the grape clusters that were discolored would have to be removed. And secondly, our plan to grow organically would have to change in order to preserve our fruit.
So, today in 93 degree temperatures and without Dennis, I had to do what was technically the first cutting to protect future growth. And it was sad.
At the end of the afternoon, after carefully examining and clipping two rows of Chardonnay, vine by vine, branch by branch, I ended up with these two buckets full of precious grapes that we could no longer use.
But there always is an up side to a dismal situation if you look hard enough. And my up side was surrounding me.
This mountain really belongs to the many inhabitants that live deep in these wood...we are just the caretakers. I don't see them often, but their presence is always with me. Sometimes, I feel their eyes on me as I work and there is evidence of them everywhere.
After my disappointing harvest today, I decided there was only one thing that could be done to justify our loss.
So tonight, when my fellow mountain inhabitants come out to search for food under the protective blanket of darkness, they will find a surprise. Deep in the woods, in various locations, the table will be set with a feast of Chardonnay grapes........ all they have to do is show up.
And my long walk back to the house this evening wasn't near as sad as the walk I had made earlier in the day to the vineyard.
UPDATE: So far, the rows of Cabernet and Cynthiana grapes are doing fine.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Back in the day, the Little River Band came out with a beautiful song that I always felt was just for me, even though obviously I knew it wasn't. The title was "Cool Change" and it was about an Aquirus (like me) and the importance water played in his life. "I was born in the sign of water, and its there that I feel my best...........". I completely "got it" when I lived on the Gulf Coast and found I could stare at the ocean for endless amounts of time and never lose my fascination with it. The sense of peace and calm it brought were very therapeutic.
Maybe that is what I am trying to recapture with my little pond project here....who knows? I suppose I don't get upset about the mess that this is right now because I look at it and see, not what it is right now, but what it will be one day soon. And that mental image takes be back to the days sitting by the water on the beach.
So indulge me through these little challenges that make the story more interesting. I PROMISE......a thing of beauty will be at the end of the story.
Early Monday morning, this was the stream flowing out of the hole that was put into the side of the pond to prevent it from overflowing. As water will always do, it took the path of least resistance.....down the bank into the ditches that run along the sides of my narrow steep driveway.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
This following picture was taken April 27th, 2011.
The muddy water is a combination of enormous amounts of rain pounding soft fresh earth and a muddy pond bed. We have a series of unfortunate events at the moment........all of which can be repaired when the rains stop and the sun comes out.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
And, those of you who know me well will not be surprised at all to learn we are right in the middle of a major excavation project up here on the mountain. Lots of clearing, digging, rearranging of earth........which, combined with an enormous amount of water = MUD! Mud everywhere..........more mud than you can possibly imagine and as far as the eye can see.
I am a klutz. No big secret there. Everyday walking for me is an adventure. So, picture if you can my early morning walks, through the mud to see what the previous night's storms have brought. Every step looks like this!
If I step too quickly, the sucking power of the mud is much stronger that I am and I step right out of my boots. However, if I linger a fraction of a second too long, I just sink deeper. So walking through this is a very delicate balance..........but a fun challenge, nevertheless!
Monday, April 25, 2011
The stump grinder's big yellow machine got bogged down in the mud. We got my black 4-wheel drive truck to pull it out. My front tires got stuck in the mud. So we got the stump grinder's green 4-wheel drive truck. Both driver's side wheels buried up in the mud. Then we got Dennis 4-wheel drive side-by-side to try to pull it out...........you know where this is going.
Fortunately, the man in charge of this project is the sweetest guy EVER. He left his daughter's track meet to come up here and pull us all out with his bull dozer.
I sort of expected him to ban me from proceeding with any projects without his supervision. But I got off with just a "look"........you know, the kind of look a parent gives a child who has really screwed up and should have known better.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I opened the kitchen door that leads to the enclosed upper deck so the sounds and smells of the rain could come inside. I went outside briefly and when I came back in, I caught a a slight movement out of the corner of my eye.
Bo is my 100 pound alpha male dog who hates everyone but me who lives on the upper deck and to my knowledge, has never stepped a foot into the house. Bo is a tough guy and is not shy about reminding people of that fact. But, he loves me dearly and would protect me through thick and thin so I have had to fight keep him throughout the years, due to his many undesirable antics.
Apparently Bo was seeking a shelter from the storm better than his dog house and sleeping bag on the deck. He never moved and inch or even blinked as I walked toward him, asking what the heck he thought he was doing. I assume he thought he was perfectly camouflaged.
This immediately reminded me of people who park in other people's clearly marked parking spots. Obviously, this boy can not read.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
For some strange reason, when this pond was originally built in 1967, there was no back side. After the water reached a certain level, it just spilled out into the woods, finding its way down the mountain into the lowest elevation. That plan made for nice waterfalls and streams but is an odd concept for a containment pond. As you can see from the photo above, there is a distinct delineation in the color of the soil on the outer right side bank and the back bank. This is because the entire back bank had to be built from the ground up. This is the area where the water previously just flowed out into the woods.