Monday, June 25, 2018

Pampered Pets in Peril!

In this week's news, it rained more than it does in 6 months in Seattle, thunderstormed in great, rolling boomingness, Ann mowed more grass than exists in Seattle and can be heard muttering about slopes and ditches, and Caitlin installed two air conditioners that look like shit but work great.
Plus cordless blinds. Oh how I heart cordless blinds! Who knew?!

In addition, the pets proved that they are city-born and raised and are going to have to do a little learnin' to survive around here. (I'm well aware that I will regret that flippancy if anything happens to them.)

So we heard a caterwauling that roused us all from our various spots to find that a local brute whose balls are so big he waddles, had pinned Sailor to the ground without even touching him. Most cat owners know that if you just approach another cat it runs but this one looked at me, like, hey, whaddya doin in my space, I'm beatin up a cat here! (in my account he's from New Jersey).
I got closer and closer and still he just looked at me and I picked up a stick and then all of a sudden thought, geezuz if you're such a communicator, why don't you try that before whacking the shit out of a fellow animal?
So I started talking in my head and out loud saying something to the effect of, go ahead, walk away, nobody will come after you, not even my silly barking dog, and I saw his eyes flinch a little and look away, like cats do when searching for a way out, and I squatted down lower and blinked my eyes slowly and dropped the stick and kept crooning. Then I made the mistake of looking over at Sailor:  his claws were completely gripped into the earth and he was actually shaking. Which prompted, I'm ashamed to say, the impulse to annihilate BigNuts as Ann dubbed him, with my sheer ferocity and will.
But I kept talking and he took a step away and I moved in closer to Sailor in case he got any ideas about chasing and finally BN strolled away, one stiff-legged step at a time, so beautiful and dignified, if waddling. Sailor, unlike any other cat I've know, came right to me and let me pick him up and then curled into my neck as I carried him away from the scene. While I'm glad he's not torn to pieces he's got to learn to at least spray all around the property...
Because I have no pictures of this here is one where Sailor has just eaten most of a squirrel he caught earlier in the week: Note the bulging belly.

Waterline on hair
In a far more serious incident, Bodie the stubborn Chow, who used to be afraid of water, almost drowned in his enthusiasm to get into a deep creek. (I know there are many of you who don't find it fun to hear suspenseful stories that involve animals so I'm telling you up front all is fine.) He has learned that if hot he can get his feet wet, then goes into joyful dancing at the relief. But now that he has a long coat he wants more water so he keeps jumping into shallow creeks, complete with mud, and probably giardia and leeches and slimy things best not discovered. So Ann was walking him, heard the familiar plop of him going in, and then, that tone that every mother fears, a sharp yip of fear. Bodie never expresses anything like that so she rushed to the scene and found him in over his head and trapped behind a kind of under-cut part of the bank and a big root mass. He stared at her with huge eyes and was shaking. She jumped in and turns out the water was up to her neck and she grabbed him but he chose to climb UP her body to the bank.
Which was not the final bank at all so she had to then pick his 53-pound self and lift him up to another bank, then scramble out herself through poison ivy and mucky ickiness and then yes, praise the baby J,  lift him one more time to the final bank. He walked for about five minutes glued to her side but then commenced with pulling on the leash all like, look! A creek! I can jump into it! isn't that cool?
Bodie's launch pad

Ann's electronic keys and wallet took only a few days to dry out...
We have also attended a goat gallop fundraiser,
found someone to hay our vast field (even trade), bought more shit at stores than we have in a lifetime, and are loving loving loving life on our little farm that is only a farm cuz it has a barn.

Also, to brag a little about how much unpacking there was and where we are now:

Thanks so much for the cards and phone calls, we are slowly making some acquaintances but miss our friends friends friends!


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Greeeeeeeeeeeeen Acres

Hello, folks,
Thanks for all the feedback on my last post. Seems y'all like pictures of the country.
So in this week's news, we got through a ton of boxes but anyone who has moved may know this particular phenomenon: You find the soap but not the dish, the coffee but not the scooper, the incense holder but not the incense. WTF?
Can you spot Ann here?

We have had our brains scrambled for so long that this threw us for a bit until we realized that the secret powers of West Virginia have been healing us when we sleep. We don't fall asleep so much as pass out, then rise to the sound of a rooster, a gazillion different birds and um, this character.
Click the link for approximate sound...

Yep, sometimes three in the morning. it always seems to crack us up.

So I had never seen lightning bugs in my whole life except one time in Germany when I was 16.
Here, they are all over our yard every night, especially when it's warm. After a few nights sleeping downstairs in what we thought would be our room we took the mattress upstairs and lo and behold, the window filled with the white oak, full of ... magical lights! If we wake in the middle of the night we can see the whole tree winking. This is roughly what it looks like, I cannot capture them on my phone.

We had been trying to figure out if we should have bottled water carted in or get a filter on the sink. Given WV's history with mines figured it was prudent.
Then the previous owners, whom we love, let us know about a fresh water spring. We found it and filled up several jugs with water! Incredibly fresh. Woohoo!
Yesterday we had to fire up the riding mower as the grass was getting too long. Turns out there's a starter problem - "Oh, you just jump it from your car," says previous owner.
In the best of circumstances I hate using jumper cables and this was a car battery to a lawn mower battery, the usual dangers amplified by the risk of blowing up the smaller one.
Ann and I stood over the mower with cables in hands, going over the mantra. Connect last cable, pull down choke, turn key, step on brake, hope it turns over. A 3D version of rub your belly and pat your head. I don't know how to do this.... we each muttered at various times. But we persisted...
Three times and it caught!
Here's where I threw the jumper cables cuz they were getting hot.

Ann taking off 

Never saw her again. 

I got very excited that the garbage truck would pick up any number of bags, unlike Seattle, in any number of receptacles, unlike Seattle.
Early on Monday morning I saw the truck stop, lights blinking, and then go on down the road. No pickup!
Turns out we had not paid our bill of $19.95/month in advance. Must be buried in this box somewhere...

With the jumper cable incident I was struck with how we were ready to call some guy or the previous owners, but when you're in the country you need to depend on yourself more. Ann already knew this of course but I was always ready to call someone. I was very proud of us for persevering. And of course it poured hard that night so now the pets tracks in huge clumps of cut grass into the house.

Find the cat in this picture.
The pets are deliriously happy. Watching Sailor track every little bug and whiffle in the grass is an argument for taking the risk of liberating a cat. He has a million hiding places and always comes back when I call him. Strange cat. There are more animals than we would have thought including toads and bunnies. He is killing but not eating moles. Ann says they must taste like dirt.
Sometimes it feels like we've stepped into some kind of English countryside.

Thanks so much for the cards in our mailbox! So nice to hear from you! More soon, let me know what you want pictures of, unless it's less of Ann and the pets, in which case you cannot change my mind....
Love from P Road!

Monday, June 4, 2018

We're here!

Hi folks,
Photo by Elea Carey
We have landed safely. We are so happy but also exhausted. So the writing will not be great but hopefully evocative. I'm sorry I am not writing individual hellos, I just want to catch you up on the general stuff and then will start checking in.

Ann took off with Bodie and met up with her friend Elea a week ahead of Caitlin and Sailor. While Bodie was a great traveler she was unable to go many places as it was too hot to leave him in the car.

Hence, his utter relief at having his own fenced yard and own cool concrete slab to lie on.


So far, he lies on that much of the time when he's not romping through the fields

Sailor escaped the night before he and I were to fly out. His calming drugs turned him into a maniac. Hence any of you neighbors who heard me calling him from 3 to 4 to 5 to 5:30 when he finally came home, forgive me.

We caught another flight a few hours later and he was largely a good kitty as he eventually realized he was destined to lockup forever in his little kennel without ever seeing the sun again.

He peed twice, but fortunately I had pee pads and my friend Diane advised making a stack of them which I just removed as needed. Smart!

The house is beyond expectations. You may recall we bought it without my ever having seen it before. It feels much like our Seattle house but with two extra rooms and a huge
Field. Four acres. A big honkin plot of land.

It has its own racetrack and hoceka. We could have our own Dance there!

First meal at home.
We've just learned the truck won't get here till Friday. That means camping some more which is tricky but we're getting used to it. Who brings a card table in her trunk on a cross country trip? Ann Pancake.

We have been to Walmart four times, three times more than I've ever been in my life.

Sailor can't go outside till at least tomorrow. I think he will come back but I know I can't keep him in, that's our agreement for him coming back.

We are checking each other for ticks.

We slept in about an hour just lying in stunned silence touching feet. We made it babe, was the gist of the conversation.

We have not been to Dairy Queen yet.

When a chip reader did not respond, the disgusted clerk said "did it just froze again?

We have a barn and a root cellar and a riding mower.

Okay, here's the most important part. It is a quiet bred of absolutely real living. Yes there are cars going up the road but you hear each of them at a time, no steady droning. The birds are loud and boisterous and happy in the morning. They are free to be.
The air is very fresh and if you get hot you open a window and it immediately cools. There is green everywhere, from trees to grass to bushes.

People are incredibly friendly. It is calm. I feel my shoulders unhunching
Taking over the one surface....

View from the house

Shitake mushroom growing thing

I am going to lie there most of the day tomorrow. 
Still our field.

Where would you look for a light for this hallway? If you said inside the closet you'd be right...

Original coal chute!

View from the field.

House on left, root cellar in the middle, barn on right. 

Daisies Ann had waiting in a cup for me. 

View as you do the dishes.

Sailor freaking out again. 

We miss you. Come see us. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The unconscious wag

I recently went through a stressful time involving hospitals and other cheerful places. In my ever-earnest attempt to understand people through animals, I noticed that there are simply some people who, no matter the situation, react pleasantly. It's in the unguarded, startled moments where you learn this. (No surprise to me, though no less disappointing: my own reactions to being startled are not good, I won't even bother to insert a porcupine picture here.)  

The other day pup Bodie was in a new situation and couldn't have been more guarded. His ears flattened and he began licking his lips, eyes darting. Then I said his name and his ears went up and back down immediately, his tail wagging, though uncertainly. He couldn't help it. He saw me, he wagged. Hearing this, my friend Lia knew exactly what I meant. She remembered a time her dog Ruby lay exhausted from a long hike, splayed on the floor. No movement. People came and went but she didn't raise her head, continuing to sleep in her deeply committed dogly way. But during one pass Lia called out her name and wham, tail began wagging. Just the tail. No other movement.

There's nothing like coming into a hospital room to see many people you've never met before attending to your loved one. When one of them wags their tail it can mean everything.

These two are simply Grace. 

It's that leap

Ridiculously joyous dog time. I think if you watched this every morning you could keep perspective most of the day. 

Last wish, granted

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Change is bad! Change is bad!

Having lived with cats all my life I was quite surprised to learn how much dogs love routine. Cats love routine as well of course but they're usually the ones to create it and then cause you, with mind control, to perform it. Unless of course they don't like it anymore and stop suddenly, leaving you to feel like the fool they know you to be.
But dogs' routine is practically choreographed; they can literally trip you up if you change the sequence of the food and the water bowl in the morning. They might even spend a second or two looking confused, perhaps staring at you compassionately to see what is wrong with you.
The last few mornings in the Sullicake household there was big clinging from both pets. We couldn't figure it out. Had there been a loud explosion while we were gone? Had we been neglectful in our hourly ministrations throughout the day? Was it perhaps an impending disaster only they could sense?
Nothing so dramatic but nonetheless disturbing.
One of us had been having trouble sleeping, and so was lying abed while the other got up and did the morning ritual alone.
But it was not the same! It was different! It was bad!
And so, to mitigate the disaster, we began re-enacting the morning ritual when the other person got up. 
Clinginess stopped. 
Part of me says oh good lord. Another is secretly pleased that our ritual means so much to them.
So here it is, our morning ritual.
Morning alarm. A stirring from all beings but Elder Cat.
Snooze button.
Second alarm. Bodie sits up, listening for stirring. There is none. He lies back down.
Humans lie in bed talking. If this goes on too long Bodie puts his front paws on the bed, which we think is cute but try to discourage. Wonder why he keeps doing it.
Finally one of us says "Ready?" and all creatures move into motion to the Staging Area.
This is where the humans sit down on the rug and pet and pet and pet the animals. You're probably beginning to see why clinginess happens if this step is skipped.
Bodie does Paw and Dimitri does drive-by head-butts and if Bodie is particularly happy, such as after Ann has been gone on a long trip, he will do roo-roo-roo to the ceiling and then we all get up and move to the kitchen where the exact same meal as yesterday is prepared and served into one large bowl and one tiny bowl respectively.

If only one of us does all this and then the other finally gets up, even if the pets have had breakfast, we must return to the Staging Area for petting.
There is one alteration that is welcome, however, which is new treats. Change is good!

How about you, what are your morning rituals and who created them?