November 30, 2008

The Snowy Day

This is the new view of the lake from our beach. Sweet Potato said, "I can't believe we ever swam in there," and that was before it was buried in snow. I can't believe we'll ever swim in there again.

The flakes started to fall this afternoon just as our leaf guy finished de-leafing the yard. That was lucky. No leaf muck to clean up in the spring! Every time it snows I think, This is it! I'm not going to see the ground again until May. Then it melts. I think the weather goddesses are easing me into this whole snow thing.

We took Buckaroo out for a snowy walk down to the dam. He liked it until he refused to wear his mittens and his hands froze, and then he cried because he was cold but didn't want to go inside to thaw. He likes the book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, especially the part where Peter knocks a tree with a stick and the snow plops onto his red hoodie.

I have to say he did look a bit like Peter out there today. "He walked with his toes pointing in like this. He walked with his toes pointing out like that," we repeated to him as he waddled along.

To coax him back to the house we made up new lyrics to "Five Little Duckies": "Five little duckies waddled through the snow one day, over the hill and far away, Mama Duck cried, 'quack, quack, quack, quack,' but only four little duckies came skating back." If you've never heard that particular Raffi song, don't worry. It has a happy ending.

In other news, my first New England T-Day was a success, except that not everyone serves yams at Thanksgiving. I didn't know that. I thought yams were a T-Day staple, right up there with the bird and the stuffins. If I had known we'd be yamless I would have offered to bring my own.

Also, not everyone serves whipped cream with apple and pumpkin pie. As far as I'm concerned, without whippy, there is no point.

Next year I'll be prepared for these things. There's always a learning curve.

Here's the craziest thing: I had to say grace-- me, probably the least religious person at the table, saying grace. R's mom clearly wanted it to be said but wouldn't say it herself, and no one else would offer it up, so there I was, all "Dear Heavenly Father." Just for the record, my god is not a father because, ya know, I have issues with fathers. So I guess in addition to being the biggest heathen at the table, that makes me the most polite.

Oh, and we talked to Obo! I said, "Aren't you glad we stole this land away from the Native Americans so you could come and visit us in the summer?" He said yes. He didn't say much more than that, but he giggled a lot, which was a very good sound.

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November 25, 2008


R was wrong. I really think those weather goddesses are teasing me, but this morning: no snow! I've never been so happy to see rain.

According to the weather report, no snow all week! A reprieve. Shew.

So now I can tell you how I've fallen into the leaf ridiculousness: R spent a good long time de-leafing the gravel on Saturday, and we still have huge piles of the things all over the place. We've decided to hire someone to scoop them up and away because R would like to spend some time with his family on the weekends instead of wrestling the leaf blower.

Then yesterday I came home from acupuncture with Buckaroo asleep in the back, and I sat in the car and watched our neighbor rake up all of her leaves and make a huge mountain of them right on our property line, right where we have to look at them and where the next big wind will toss them willy nilly into our yard-- except that I guess it will all be covered in snow soon, but still.

I know last week I was all about the leaf love, but this week I'm a bit miffed. I told R we need a fence. I've turned into Mr. & Mrs. next door. (Did I mention they put up an ugly chicken wire fence on our property line, on the other side of the house from leaf mountain, to keep our leaves from blowing onto their lawn?)

However, our fence will not be ugly chicken wire.

R, though, doesn't seem to be bothered by leaf mountain at all, and he's the one who did the work, so maybe I should just let it go. Bah! Leaf Shmeaf.

Oh, and somewhat unrelated-- Last night, on the way to Sweet Potato's parent-teacher conference, I noticed how beautiful the bare white birches are growing beside all of those gray leafless oak trunks. I really need to get outside at night more often.

November 24, 2008

The Weather Channel is Sometimes Wrong

Everyone who lives on our little lake says it's about 10 degrees colder here than it is at the bottom of the hill, and I guess the bottom of the hill is where they measure the temperature and all that good stuff. Anyway, it was supposed to begin snowing officially tomorrow, and it did get up to about 38 today, so I was all blissed out with today's clear skies and relative warmth, enjoying my post-dinner book and chocolate when R said, "Come here for a minute."

He guided me to the window in the den, turned off the inside lights and turned on the porch light. There it was: tiny, furious flakes of snow flinging themselves all slanty against our deck and sticking there.

I said, "Maybe it will be gone by morning," with the most hopefulness I could muster. R said no.

Here's the thing: I do love snow. I think it's all beautiful, covers up all the uglies, and I'm fascinated with the way the flakes fall and how you can follow the path of one or you can let them all blur together. It's the same thing I do when driving past an orchard: Follow one tree, let them all sweep past, repeat. And with snow, as with some trees, one can see which way the wind goes.

The thing is, I have this personality where I require leaving the house and making contact with other adults in order to be happy, preferably in a coffee shop or bookstore. I don't have to know the other adults or even speak to them, I just like to have them around. Maybe their presence requires me to act more sanely. This is why I must go somewhere every day. You know how when you're really sick, and you stay in bed all day recovering, and then when it's sleepy time you don't want to go to bed because you just spent the whole day there? At least that's how I feel after being sick all day, and that's also how I feel if I stay home all day. By the time the dark rolls around, I need out.

I'm afraid the snow will hinder my ability to get out. I'm afraid of ice, of crashing big. I'm afraid my car will break down, and I won't have cell phone coverage, and I'll be found frozen to death in a snow drift with Buckaroo strapped to my back. Plus, all the other things I haven't even considered.

Mostly, though, I'm afraid that my fear will keep me home, lonely, I'll start to lose my mind, and I'll want to go back to California for good.

Still, there are bazillions of people who live with the snow. They must get used to the driving conditions, staying indoors, snow shoeing. It can be done. I'm leaving myself sticky notes all over the house that say, "Get Over It," and I think I will. It's just that I haven't even approached it yet, and it feels like approaching Mt. Everest. Tomorrow is my first lesson in Getting Over It.
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November 23, 2008

Our Space

R spent all day painting our bedroom, and it's cozy. We may have to warm up the ceiling a little but haven't quite figured that out. The three walls you can't see are a warm goldy color. I'd show you a picture, but it's messy. Get to that later. Miraculously, R and I each went googling for lamps and chose the same one.

Maybe next weekend we'll tackle the head board. Woo hoo!

Meanwhile, R says he can live with his parents' old bedroom furniture, but I'm not so sure-- or maybe I can live with it if we completely change it.

November 22, 2008

The Big Freeze

I really believed that I couldn't go outside if the temperature was below 32 degrees-- that I would instantaneously frost-blossom into an ice cube. Turns out I was wrong about that, and in fact 35 degrees has come to feel toasty warm-- if there's no wind. I told my California friend, Laura, that it was in the mid-30s here yesterday, and I felt warm enough to take Buckaroo to the park. She said I was out of my ever-lovin' mind.

Sweet Potato is keeping a sharp eye on the lake, waiting for the freeze. One morning this week she walked down the path to wait for her ride to the bus and came rushing back inside, "The lake has ice on it!" she squealed. As I was still sleeping, I was not quite so thrilled with the information and groggily told her she was going to miss her ride.

When she returned home that afternoon I gave her a long lecture about never going out on the ice alone.

This morning it looks like it may have snowed during the night and the lake has about an inch of ice on it. I feel sorry for those poor fish; that's gotta be a rough life. If I were a fish, I'd want to live in Hawaii. Also, if I were homeless-- or at least I'd pile my kids in a wagon and hitchhike to Florida. Then I'd join a church. These are the crazy things I think about, but it's good to have a plan, right? I also have a whole plan for what to do if I fall through the ice, but that's another post.

As a human home owner, though, I seem to be acclimatizing myself (and I just learned that word). I don't always need the thermostat set at 71 now and most days set it at 69. Baby steps. I should add that our wood pellet stove warms the house to about 65, so I'm really only use the furnace to bridge those few degrees.

Other tidbits: Yesterday I told my friends that Sweet Potato had a minimum day at school, and they all looked at me like I'd said she had a Flooferflaggen. "What's a minimum day?" one mama asked. "Is that the same as a short day?" asked another. Apparently it is the same as a short day. R says it was called "half day" when he was in school.

The gas station people here have removed that little lever that allows one to pump gas no-handed. You know, you push down the lever and let the gas pump while you run inside the store and use the restroom or make monkey faces at your grumpy toddler through the window. I can't imagine why they would remove this handy device. At least it's not like Oregon where all the gas stations are full-service and then one feels required to tip.

Kidlet news: Sweet Potato has become quite sporty at school, she tells us. They played soccer in gym, and she played so well on defense that the team captain said, "You should play forward!" A few days later she captured the flag in a rousing game of the same name. This is the same girl who cried hysterically and clung to my leg the first time she was guided toward the soccer field. Wonders.

We've booked Sweet Potato's first solo flight to California for Thanskgiving weekend. I'm just not going to worry about that.

Buckaroo is speaking sentences. His favorites are: "I like it!", "I did it!" and "I didn't" which really means, "I would prefer not to do that thing you are asking of me, Mother. Thank you anyway."

Grown up news: R is very happy at his new job and testing all kinds of brand new technology. Buckaroo and I are making an effort to drive down there once every two weeks to meet R for lunch. The office is near Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, so it's a multi-purpose trip.

I have invented a new drink for myself. It's decaf chai vanilla tea (hot) with egg nog instead of cream and sugar. Oh, how I love a nog! Maybe that's why I feel warmer.

November 17, 2008


I didn't get the whole leaf thing. Yesterday the wind was blowing 19 miles an hour. I was walking through the parking lot after Christmas shopping, my cart chock full of toys, when a gust came up and nearly knocked me flat. I had to hold on to the cart to keep it from tipping, and then I thought we'd both go over. Turns out I'm fairly strong.

Photo Courtesy of Concord Library

Meanwhile, our neighbors are at home trying to blow fallen leaves into piles, and the wind is just blowing the leaves back in their faces. Mrs. Next Door said they hauled sixty-five garbage cans of leaves up the hill.

I understand wanting a neatly groomed yard, (or I would understand if we had something other than gravel beneath our detritus) but rounding up mountains of leaves in raging winds is not something I ever intend to do, much to my neighbors' dismay. They're concerned about everybody else's foliage blowing their way.

These are the same neighbors who cut down three trees over the summer to mitigate the insanity of autumn.

"What's the big deal?" I asked R today exasperatedly. So they have a messy lawn. So we have messy gravel. Besides, aren't leaves good for growing what's beneath them?

R says the big deal is that in the spring when the snow melts the leaves are sopping, so there's no blowing them, only raking. Also, nasty little black flies hunker down under the leaves for the winter, and they get really irritated when raked.

He also said there's no way in Hades he would have chased the leaves in yesterday's wind, so I'm not altogether wrong about that.

Today, as I was taking Buckaroo for what should be our daily walk to greet the horses, I saw that our neighbors were still battling the leaves-- I really can't believe there are any left on the trees after yesterday's howler, but down they fall-- and then two of them-- neighbors, not leaves-- ganged up on a third to have the leaves blown from the dirt road.

Flies Shmies I say. It all seems a bit fanatical, but maybe I'll be singing the autumn blues next year. If that's true, I'll be raking up Ginkgo leaves along with all of the oaks. I can't wait!

November 16, 2008

Birthday Blessings

I had a darn good birthday weekend, despite almost being knocked on my arse by the dagnabbed wind.

Woke up Saturday morning to prezzies-- my favorite way to start a day. R gave me a shiny new compootier (or yap top as Sweet Potato used to call them). Sweet Potato made me a card with the word "honorable" in it, so you know it was a good one. My sweet mama sent me a vest that looks like it's made of orange shag carpet, in the best possible way.

We hopped down to the in-laws, dropped off the kidlets and had a leisurely dinner at The Melting Pot. Yum. If you haven't heard of it, it's all fondue. We had cheese with lager, broth with burgundy, and chocolate with caramel. So tasty. When we returned R's mom had made carrot cake, and everybody sang, and I wished for -- please goddess please-- not too much snow.

Today, after R and I spotted our first redbellied woodpecker at the birdfeeder, I had brunch with my new mama friends. That's us in the picture. Clockwise from the top row: Red Mama, Doula Mama, Tri Mama, Green Mama, Frog Mama, Me, and Hockey Mama. It was really fun, and I am still amazed that I've made seven fabulous friends (FMF was supposed to make it but has a nasty case of bronchitis).

I told them not to bring me gifts, but they ignored that and brought things to help me brave the ravages of winter.

R took the kids to Ashland to visit Grammy, so I had the rest of the afternoon to go Christmas shopping. I even found my way around without GPS. I think I took a few circuitous routes, but in the end I got to where I wanted to be.

Back at home there was a tree waiting for me, a bare-branched Ginkgo sent by some of my friends in California. The card read, "Some things thrive no matter where they are planted," which made me cry some hearty tears. I can't wait to see the green leaves unfurl and turn gold-- another prezzie to get me through winter, but first we have to decide where to plant him and what to name him. Maybe Duckfoot.

I think a birthday boost was exactly what I needed. I feel so loved.

November 14, 2008

Dad in a Blue Suit

Warning: You may not want to read this while eating.

The night before last my dad finally spoke to me in a dream. He was here at the house, early in the morning-- still dark outside. He was dressed in a blue suit. In real life, I'm not sure I ever saw my dad wear a suit. This one was hideously bright blue, and my dad was young and thin with long blond hair and bucked teeth, the way he looked when I was five.

I was making pasta for some reason, standing at the kitchen table testing it for doneness. My dad came in from the back of the house carrying a square, black composting bin. He set it down on the table and said, "Don't you think it's time you start taking care of this?" The bin was empty and the worms were crawling out of it on all sides trying to escape.

I freaked out about the bin being so close to my food and then I was worried that the noodle I was chewing was actually a worm, and I spit it out.

I was so mad that he brought that bin into my house, and I was thinking, I do not have time to deal with this. I grabbed the bin, being careful not to touch the worms, carried it out the front door and threw it as far as I could over the front porch.

Unfortunately, I'm not so strong even in dream land, so the bin landed with a thud on its side right next to the house. I looked at it sitting there in the dark with the worms crawling over it, and I realized I'd have to clean it all up later, and I was angry.

If that's not a symbolic dream I don't know what.

At first I thought my dad came all this way to tell me I need to take out the garbage, but then I realized it wasn't just garbage it was the organics. I do have a whole love-hate relationship with the composting pile in the woods behind the house. I know it's a good thing, and I'm glad we throw our food scraps out there, but I don't want to see it. I don't want to smell it, and I certainly don't want to know if there are worms in it. I know worms are happy and they're doing good stuff to the earth, making nice rich soil. Still, yuck. When I have to empty the organics bucket I try not to breath. I lift the lid on the pile to one side so that I can't see what's on the other side, and sometimes I even close my eyes.

I'm not as bad as Sweet Potato. She wraps a scarf around her mouth and nose, wears rubber gloves and a hoodie.

Anyway, I think my dad made a deal with the devil or maybe he had become the devil so he could be who he was before the drugs and alcohol, and that's why the blue suit. He was telling me to get the rot out, to stop being afraid of the worms because they need to do their thing to make it all better. Maybe. I'm still angry about the criticism. He could have at least said, "Hey, I've missed ya darlin."

November 12, 2008

Food for Thought

Today Buckaroo and I visited our new best friend, Amherst Mass. We went because there's a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's right next to each other and just because we like to get out of the house.
Also, I've been reading You: Staying Young by Dr. Oz and another really old guy who looks young, and they say, among other things, to eat turmeric three times a week. I was inspired to make a menu for the week -- ok, so it's Wednesday already-- that included an abundance of turmeric. With the shopping list in my hot little hand, Buckaroo and I scooted West. At least I think it was west.
It's a beautiful drive out there, winding, piney, and rocky with nary a misplaced dog grooming salon to mar the scenery.
Buckaroo slept in his car seat while I munched on my home-made "No-More-McDonald's-for-You-Missy" trail mix and listened to another podcast of This American Life.
We arrived at Whole Foods just as Buckaroo was waking, and we shopped our little hungry hearts out. We even discovered that Buckaroo loves satay tofu-- which he calls fo-fu-- especially if he can stab it with a fork.
On our way home we drove past all of the little brick bookstores, bakeries, toy shops, and the many students riding bicycles to and from the university. It made me nostalgic for my Chico days. We had to hustle home, though, to meet Sweet Potato after her long day at school. When we did arrive home I announced that Amherst was where Sweet Potato should go to college. Unfortunately, she has her college eyeball set on Berkeley where she plans to room with her cousin. That girl's gotta mind of her own.
In any case, we must get back to Amherst very soon and check out Food for Thought Books.

November 10, 2008

Buckaroo Goes to Acupuncture

Buckaroo still has his allergy/food intolerance problemo, so I've decided to try anything to fix him up. Today we met with the acupuncturist, and while it all seemed kind of hocus-pocus voo doo-ey, I'm trying really hard not to be skeptical because I'm worried that my skepticism will negatively impact the results. Here's how the appointment went:

Doc asked me for a list of Buckaroo's known allergies and his favorite foods. Then I touched Buckaroo while she had me hold different glass vials of the various allergens and squeeze my fist as hard as I could while she pushed down on it. Using this method she determined that Buckaroo has food sensitivities in varying degrees to wheat, dairy, corn, peas, pork, beef, potatoes, and vegetable oil. Then I held the vials while she rolled a poky thing up and down my back and I did some heavy breathing. She doesn't have to do the treatment on Buckaroo because as long as I'm touching his skin, without crossing my legs, the energy will flow through me and into him.

After we did that a few times, she gave us a bottle and dropper of distilled water that has been energetically altered by a computer to mimic the treatment we had today. That water will help alter the message in Buckaroo's body telling him that he's allergic, so instead he'll have a message telling him he's not allergic. She has an eighty percent success rate, so I am not scoffing.

Buckaroo was nervous at first, but he warmed up and was soon holding his own vials and counting breaths with the doc. Of course, his counting is a little spotty, but she didn't seem to mind. In the end, he hugged her leg and ran out of the room showing everyone his bottle of drops. A success.

Today we just worked on a few of the allergies, so we have five more sessions before we knock them all out. Send us luck and help with positive thinking.
PS. R took this picture of the lake yesterday.
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November 9, 2008

Sunny Sunday

It's chilly out there, but the sky is blue, and the sun is shining-- perfect weather for our family portrait. It rained all weekend, so R and I were anxiously watching the skies this morning. We took Buckaroo and Sweet Potato up to our neighbor's farm and Kate, our new photographer friend, took some shots of Buckaroo in his favorite spot-- on the tractor. Sweet Potato very much enjoyed her photo shoot as well.

Meanwhile, the birds and squirrels were taking advantage of the break in the rain to feast at our bird feeder. Since R changed the birdseed we've had a flock of Black-Capped Chickadees hanging around the house. I think of them as raccoon-birds. Black-capped bandits.

The other day I found two completely peeled acorns next to the dog pen. I think maybe there are so many acorns that the squirrels are getting picky.

Other random thoughts: Yesterday, as we were driving to our tiny local airport for breakfast so Buckaroo could watch the planes, R and I spotted some guys collecting money for The Salvation Army. It would have been hard to miss them, actually, because they were standing right out in the middle of traffic at a busy intersection.

That seems to be the thing to do around here: stand out in traffic collecting money for various organizations. Back in California only the homeless stood at busy intersections asking for money. Everyone else stood in front of the grocery store.
R and I are almost finished de-wallpapering the bedroom! R got smart and wet the underlayer of paper with water and vinegar, so much easier. Next stop, paint!

November 8, 2008

Obo at the Table

Warning: If you are like me and have never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer because you think it's totally ridiculous, you might not want to read this because one day a friend might convince you to give Buffy a chance, and you could, like me, end up watching the entire horrific series on Netflix, and then you would be very disappointed because I'm about to spoil the best parts.
Tonight we placed this leopard in the spot at the table where Obo would normally sit. They don't look much alike, except maybe something about the eyes, but it was nice having Obo there in spirit.
Since Obo left us, we don't hear much from him. He does not enjoy writing letters or emails or talking on the phone, so it's hard to imagine what life is like for him now. That's what made me think about Buffy. In one of season finale Buffy throws herself from scaffolding to save her sister's life (you really just have to watch it). When the next season begins, Buffy's friends don't know if Buffy's gone to heaven, hell, or just some alternate dimension where people wear edible shoes. They want to bring her back, but they don't know if she'll come back like Angel did when he returned from hell and was all hunched and drooly.
We're pretty sure that Obo is not in hell and is standing as straight as he was the last time we saw him.
Willow decides to bring Buffy back from wherever she may be, and in what is probably the best TV I have ever seen (Buffy, the Musical) Buffy sings about her time in a heaven-like place and makes her friends feel pretty lousy about reviving her. So that's how it is.
I hope that England is heavenly for Obo right now, but I guess we won't find out until we bring him back in a couple more seasons.
Meanwhile, we've decided to name the leopard Obo.

November 7, 2008

This & That

I've been so domesticated this week. I spent way too much money at Michael's, but I (sort of) made this lovely fall wreath. Actually I just bought the wreath and some beady things, and R did the magic crafty combining thing that I cannot do. Isn't it pretty? I probably could have made the wreath out of all the fallen branches in our yard. Well, I couldn't have, but somebody could.
I also bought plate pedestals to display the plates Obo and Sweet Potato made many summer moons ago. I have to buy a few more before they're all displayed, but I think they break up the wood on wood on wood monotony a little.
Plus, I finally replaced the frame for the wedding picture that the movers crushed. It's beautiful and makes me happy.
Oh, and that reminds me-- we're having our family portrait taken on Sunday at our neighbor's farm. Well, it's a family portrait minus one. That's the price of procrastination I guess. We'll have another one done when Obo returns this summer.
In other news: R was in a car accident yesterday. He was rear-ended by a rude-O who gave R a hard time for reporting it. When R called to tell me what happened he said, "The good news is that statistically I won't have another car accident." I'm pretty sure he was thinking of that moose I've mentioned, but he didn't come right out and say it. He's somewhat cranky and sore but otherwise ok.
Sweet Potato came home from drama class and said, "Guess what! I have to strangle someone." Apparently, she is a killer weed in the school musical and must strangle an innocent plant-child. She is less than thrilled and says there's no chance of being a happy-fairy milkweed now. I had no idea there was murder in Godspell-- or I thought there might just be the one biggie. Is that blasphemous?

November 6, 2008

Scorpion Insights

There sure are a lot of meat raffles around here. It seems like every organization -- Elks, Bucks, Does, Lions-- they all want to give away meat. There must be a plethora of cows.

The leaves are almost gone. I have on my to do list "grit the stairs" meaning that we need to put that gritty tape down so we don't slip and break our necks. I thought we needed to do this before snow (I guess we missed that window), but it turns out that the stairs are so slippery from the piles of wet leaves that grit will do us no good whatsoever. R says we need to enter and exit through the basement. Harumph.

One must learn to put the scarf on before the bolsa. I've never liked the word purse, and I decided just now to call it a bolsa forever. I keep getting myself all tangled up in the scarf and bolsa combo, probably because I wear mine diagonally. Untangling in public is somewhat embarrassing-- as is losing one's car in the parking lot. I'm not used to the parking lots yet.

Today Buckaroo and I hit Barnes and Noble where we thought about Christmas presents. That's one thing about the cold: It makes me feel like we should have skipped the candy collecting and gone straight to caroling. I hope people carol around here. Even though I've never caroled, it seems like a New Englandy thing to do.

Today is rainy and warmish, with a high of 58. It feels like a California winter day. I've learned to check the temperature before venturing outdoors, something I've never had to do before. It's funny how the cold doesn't look any different from the inside.
Here are the books we're reading:
The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears
No Cry Sleep Solution (still)
Fortress of Solitude
Schooled (teen lit)-- we're actually listening to this one.
Sweet Potato is also reading Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism and is anxiously awaiting the release of The Tales of Beetle Bard.
Buckaroo is totally into the Olivia books, except for Olivia and the Missing Toy, which is a bit too frightening for him. We didn't make it past the toy going missing.

November 2, 2008

Turning the Calendar Page

Well, I took off my weenie hat about 30 minutes before Halloween started and broke open the box of decorations. R dashed around the house with me hanging bats and witches and propping up our fake gravestones.
When Sweet Potato came home we threw together her witch costume, transformed Buckaroo into a skunk, and boogied down to the FMF's house. I have to say, All Hallow's Eve wasn't nearly as chilly as I thought it would be, although some people did mention that it's usually a much colder holiday.

Sweet Potato darted off with the big kids fairly early, and that gave me a twinge of the saddies, but she's her own woman these days. As Buckaroo was running up the street shouting, "house! house!" (as in "Let's go to the next house and get some candy! Why are you walking so slowly?!") leaving a trail of pawprints behind him, I remembered Sweet Potato's first foray into trick-or-treating. She was two months older than skunk boy and dressed as a tomato. She didn't want any part of it and shook when I took her near the front door. I was so disappointed because -- as I've mentioned-- I love candy, and even nine years ago I was a bit too old to parade the streets as a tomato and ask for candy. I did drag her to a few houses. I thought she needed to face her fears, but she just shook more violently. My mom says it was child abuse, but Sweet Potato doesn't seem to be scarred, and she's come home with a bag full of sweet loot every year since.

Buckaroo, on the other hand, that stinker sure could charm the candy from the ladies.

The next day, the beginning of my birthday month, R and I decided to hike the mountain overlooking the lake from the opposite direction. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the trail head. R wanted to trail blaze, insisting that we'd bump into the trail eventually. I insisted that we'd get lost in the wilderness and neither one of us had a pocket knife or flint. We veered from the trail for a while, and I kept trying to remember everything Bear Grylls said when I watched him at my parents' house last Christmas, but for some reason it's hard to concentrate on what Bear is saying.

We stumbled around for a while and eventually ended up in someone's back yard. From there we walked the very long road home. It was cold, but the sky has been the bluest with long streaks of white clouds, like a marble, with plenty o' sunshine. Plus, we saw a few cool things:

1. Pheasant hen in our neighbor's yard. Also, just after I took the opposite photo of R and the sleeping Buckaroo in the maple leaves, we startled a couple of pheasants into flight and the sound of their wings hitting the ground was like a mini-stampede.

2. Which maybe should have been 1: a cemetery. Just right out there on the road, across the street from somebody's house, is a graveyard. It's so small that I never noticed it while driving. The cemeteries out here are so interesting. They just pop up any old place. I imagine they must pre-date city planning. We didn't stop to investigate this one as Buckaroo was singing a chorus of "Meelk, meelk," and the only thing that would quiet him was when we'd jog side by side chanting R's old call and response Navy tunes. We improvised the words, and my favorite was "Heeeey Sweet P--! Put down your candy and run with me . . . ." because she did stay home to enjoy her Halloween booty.
3. I don't know what these red-berried sticks are, but they're so brilliant against the dull swamp background I had to take their picture.

4. The folks out here sure do love their rock walls. Here's what Traditional Masonry magazine has to say about them: "Traditional dry stone walls have many benefits. These 100 percent recyclable walls become stronger as they settle, are earthquake-resistant, and can last for hundreds of years if built correctly. Because dry stone walls are free-draining compared to mortar walls that require weep holes and a drainage system, they don’t need the elaborate foundation of poured concrete. You can build in any weather — you don’t have to worry about your mortar setting. Finally, stone is unmatched for beauty."

The thing that baffles me is how the people who built them, at least a hundred years ago, could drag all of those stones up these hills when I can barely drag my own bum up and down the hills. Plus, the walls go on for miles and miles. They had some kind of energy. It's probably the non-processed food they were eating, but that's another post.

5. We were so happy to see our little lake when we finally returned, and we saw that The Keepers of the Lake had "pulled the boards" which means that the lake is draining now. It lowers about four feet, I'm told, and then freezes over. Sweet Potato can't wait to have adventures on the ice. I've never walked on a frozen lake, and the thought of it makes my tummy do a spazzy-floppy thing, but I'm trying to overcome that feeling.

Then today I went to Pickity Place with the Mass Mamas and piggied out. Yum! I had to balance out all of that exercise somehow.