Monday, August 29, 2011


I woke up this morning. Alone. Jack and Ed had slipped out of the house before dawn to go fish the Elkhorn Creek near Frankfort -- a bit of father/son bonding before Jack leaves for Germany. The sun was up higher than usual and still I considered rolling over and going back to sleep, like some teenager who stayed up too late.

Instead I headed out for my morning ritual of walking to the end of the drive, touching the red flag on the mailbox for good luck before turning around. It's only about a mile, but every morning I see something new. It might be geese flying overhead, a green snake slithering through the weeds, or a hawk gliding through the skies. I sometimes hear a donkey braying, or a cow mooing, a horse neighing, or a quail bob-whiting. Last week it was foggy and the sun was shinning through a million spider webs strung between tall dried grass. It looked more spooky than Hillcrest Avenue in October.

After my walk, I puttered. It's my favorite way to spend a morning. I watered the bourbon-barrel planters on the back porch and each of my dozen fruit trees. I changed our sheets. I made some mint tea and some hard boiled eggs. I weed whipped around the house and cottage. It was such a pleasant morning. It was quiet, and cool, and I was alone. But it was the good kind of being alone – alone, but not lonely. 

I know my boys will come bounding in later this afternoon, hopefully with a cooler full of smallmouth bass. I also know that I better quit puttering and head into town for some groceries as there is nothing worse than a hungry Jack with no food in the house. So, I'm off....

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Beginnings

Hurricane Irene is headed for the East Coast and so I headed for home yesterday afternoon. I had been in Baltimore, getting Mary settled in her first apartment. I had planned to leave after dinner and drive partway home, but decided to get on the road a few hours early and get out ahead of the rain. I pulled into our drive at 11:59 p.m., happy to be home.

But my heart is hurting a bit. I woke up missing Mary. If only we had one more morning to snuggle together and talk about what we were going to do today....

Mary, Maggie and Jack had brunch with us last Sunday. It may be a while before we are all together again...
...But life goes on. Mary starts her junior year as a graphic design major at MICA on Monday. After living in the dorms for two years, she and roommate Hanna have moved into a third-floor apartment about a half mile from campus in the Mount Vernon cultural district. It has hardwood floors, high ceilings, and a tiny fire-escape balcony. As of yesterday, it also had a bed and mattress from IKEA, a love seat, a bookcase with baskets and red bedside table. A special thank you goes out to friends Hanna and John for putting all the parts and pieces together. (I'm hoping Mary will send a photo and blog post so all can see her new digs.)

Before Mary left for school, she googled her address to confirm the zip code and discovered that Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, grew up in her very apartment building. She took that as a good sign that her life was destined to be interesting this year. I hope it is, in all the best possible ways.

So here's to first apartments, new school years, being 20-years-old and up for grand adventures. Have fun baby. Be safe. xxx

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tornado Alley

My neighbor told me recently that our little part of Dover Road was known as Tornado Alley, not the most encouraging thought. But all in all, we survived yesterday's storm relatively unscathed. Here's the count:

Down yesterday evening:
  • 12 tomato plants
  • one row of late corn 
  • (the only) 4 pears on our tree 
  • one tin rooster.

Up this morning:
  • electricity and a dry basement
  • 10 tomato plants 
  • and one tin rooster, relocated to our back porch
Hoping all our Louisville friends fared as well. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I am Woman; Hear my Chainsaw Roar!

I don't think Helen Reddy was singing about the how great it feels to fell a tree with a brand new chainsaw, but I'm telling you, it was empowering. It was loud. It was a bit scary. But it made me feel like "I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman (hear me roar)."

One of the things I've experienced about moving out to the farm is a growing desire to know how to do things; to understand how things work; to not be reliant on other people to fix everything/tend to everything. I want to know how to change the furnace filter, plant my garden, unstop the disposal. The problem: these skills don't come easily to me (and to be honest, I'm not sure they come that easily to Ed either). So, when we bought our chainsaw at the Simponsville Stihl dealer, Bobby Cottrell had to show us how to start it and how to properly use it so as to not cut off a leg instead of a log. The problem was that we then didn't use it for a month and forgot all he told us. So last Saturday, we went back to Cottrell's and admitted to Bobby that we needed another lesson. It was kind of embarrassing.

This morning Ed and I headed out to clear a swath around a huge tree whose beauty was lost among vines, honeysuckle bushes, deadly briars and small locust trees. Ed did most of the chainsawing and I followed along with the garden clippers. When we got toward the end, I took over the chainsawing -- just to prove that I could do it.

In the last month, I've learned to:
  • drive our zero-turn mover in a fairly straight line
  • can peaches, dilly green beans and beets
  • drive a manual transmission pickup truck
  • weed whip without going through the whole spool of line in 5 minutes
  • operate our Polaris Ranger
  • change the furnace filter
  • till the garden with the attachment that brother-in-law Steve gave me
  • water the Maple trees out front with the rain barrel loaded on the back of the Polaris
For most of these tasks, I've had someone to teach me. For example, Maggie was at my side as we canned the dilly green beans and beets; Friends Karen and Ken provided advice and good company while we cooked up batches of peach preserves and chutney; Jeremy, our contractor, came over one morning and went over all the mechanical doings of the house; and Ed gave me a lesson on the mower. But some of the skills are only learned by trial and error and some of the errors if caught on video might make a strong entry for "Funniest Home Videos" (i.e., Mary and I trying to tilt the rain barrel to get out the last of the water for the trees).

Stay turned. For as Ms. Reddy's sings:

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go...