Thursday, November 22, 2018


So after the best summer ever we had about a week of fall and suddenly it's winter.
The air conditioners we had so painstakingly installed needed to be put away. Yes, we could have stuffed old shirts around their edges but we figured simple, right? What could happen? Turns out Ann's way of changing out the AC is to simply push it out the window.

Yeah, after many moments of "now I'm going to lift... and then I'll push.. and then you'll hold, and you got it? Yeah, you have the top? Yep, and the bottom? Yep." And then
a sort of inhuman cry from Ann Pancake.
I have always said to test a marriage you should move a mattress together. We have actually, finally learned how to do that, so perhaps I was a bit overconfident in thinking we could remove an AC from a window.
As I silently made my way downstairs (did I mention this was the second floor window?) I was thinking, in about 20 minutes this is going to be funny.
Next step: Lower the unit into its box, so clever were we to keep it, weren't we? Did you know that on the back of an AC are vents that are filed to razor sharp edges in order to... fuck I have no idea what the purpose is, but I can guarantee you that if you hold the unit by the back, you will slice the pads of ALL your fingers.
Those are teeny tiny razor blades.
Both of us bled all over the floor, the box, and finally shoved the whole bloody mess into storage.
And it WAS funny!

In other news...
We got a new dog!
Her name is Mica and she is from the wonderful Preston County Animal Shelter. We are still not sure how we got her. We were visiting two other dogs we liked, came into the office to chat with the staff and asked what her story was, because she was completely cowering in a corner like she'd been seriously abused. The next thing we knew, the warden had brought her out and asked if we wanted to walk her.
"Did you ask her to bring her out, babe?"
"No, did you?"
Much head shaking.
So we figured it was our usual spirits at work. We couldn't get her off our mind. We brought Bodie to introduce her, brought shirts we'd slept in to help her learn our scent, and walked her several times a week. Each time she came out of her shell a tiny bit more, but always shaking terribly.
We chose her partly because she was good with cats, and so, when I was on the floor with grief about Sailor, we became completely caught up in acclimating Mica to our house, to Bodie, to warmth, her own bed, and regular meals.

First meeting.
Bodie has calmed down since she came, and we have a new snuggle biscuit in the house.
Welcome, Mica!

Winter coat, with reflectors.

Natural order of privilege. 

Quickly learned.

Her own bed, and perpetual state of disbelief.

First walk, tail up!



Thank you to every critter, human and animal, who helped me out in the last few weeks. I could, seriously, not have done it without you:
Mica, Bodie


Charlie Brown
Thor and Loki
Preston County Animal Shelter kitties

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


I never understood the expression "Make hay while the sun shines" but they ain't kidding. All summer long it has been raining heavily and we have been waiting for the mysterious Mr. Burke to come hay our four acres.

So you do this cool trade, where the whole thing that's as high as an elephant's eye is suddenly mowed down, baled, stacked, and carted off, all for free. Their part is they get to go sell it. Any farmer will tell you they get the sweeter deal but if you don't have any animals to feed, not enough brawn to stack and no hay mows to fill hay is just hay, and there's a lot of it. [That's pronounced maow.]

So every day it was dry we'd hope Mr. Burke was coming, and then he never would. Finally when Ann called again she got his wife who was very very polite but assured us he would come. As in, stop calling us. 
Finally, out of the blue on the first dry morning of four days of no rain, up the driveway came a tractor with an umbrella over it!

And: 92-year old Mr. Burke!
First thing he said when I went out to meet him was: Do you want me to do this every year?
He's been mowing here for 50 years but he just wanted to check.
So he took his little tractor and cut the whole field into furrows.
And then he went away.
And the next day he showed up again with another attachment, which turns out is the bailer. This machine is all the more impressive because all around us are farms with giant attachments that bale up the hay and put plastic around it while the driver is watching TV or something. No shade to those farmers but old school doesn't even begin to describe Mr. Burke's operation.

He scoops up the hay, it turns into rectangles, the baling twine whisks around it and out comes a stack, one at a time, chug chug all day until you got many square piles of hay.
He put them into long piles...
...then ran over them with the bailer and magically, they turned into rectangles!

Shoot, I can't get it to rotate so you'll have to turn your computer... (Dana?!)
First thing I did was go check: yep, you sure can't find a needle in one of these.
Then some strong young men appeared out of nowhere and threw the bundles into piles. Turns out they were his grandsons.

I kept three of these to put around the firepit. Not too close though. 
Then two huge flatbed trailers arrived, hitched up to the trucks and then the guys stacked the bales about a story and a half high, lashing them down from the top and then they wobbled off into the sunset.
Cat with sunset and mowed field.
If you don't think that's cool well then I don't know what.

Two holes, which later spread to three. Then four.


In other news, some of you may know that yellow jackets are not bees. They're wasps. And apparently have no real value. They have had a heyday this season and everyone's complaining about them.
In more pangs of guilt I must add that they were right by the door and when we stopped to greet people or say goodbye we were right under them.

Cowboy hat, balaclava, goggles, long-sleeve shirt and pants in 85-degree heat, snow boots, and gloves.
So after much contemplation guilt, frustration and more contemplation and asking a vegetarian friend (Thanks Diane!) I decided to "eradicate" them. I bought a seriously poisonous pesticide, suited up and sprayed 'em at dusk.
The next day they were in my office. Dying. We still don't know how they got in, the window was closed. I spent the day moving slowly, especially when I got up or down, or moved my mouse. It seemed only fair. 

Don't look at the barn, look at the screen.

The thing about deciding to kill something is you think that's it. But when they don't die you have to kill them again.
And again.
And again.
I sprayed them every night for four nights. Then, in a salute to their perseverance and the fear of creating radioactive bees (I also tried peppermint and dish soap), I stopped spraying them.
They seem calmer. I prefer to think of them as deciding to share the space quietly with us but they're probably drunk or completely intellectually impaired now.

More evidence of letting things go: Ektomi (the spider) snared two bees within ten minutes. Around my Buddha statue. 

There are at least four other nests in the ground, which we have allowed to stay.
This morning we found a giant wasp hole that had been unearthed by something. I say anteater, Ann says bear. We have fun here in the country. 

New gig

This is about all I saw of them. They said nary a word the whole trip. 
I uttered a desire to help with animal rescue and suddenly found myself transporting young cats who were scheduled to be put down that day if someone didn't come get them. I love to drive, the cause was just, and it was beautiful. But it was 2.5 hours each way (look up Hagerstown, MD) so perhaps a bit of a long day. And they weren't friendly, as I learned when I absent-mindedly stuck my finger into one of the air holes like I do with Sailor.

Lessee what else... I cannot seem to get a good sunset but this is pretty good. 

I know you're wondering about Bodie so here's a pic. No, he's not dead, just rolling in the grass after taking an illicit mudbath. 

Found us a bbq place. Ann ate all of this and some of mine... Another Appalachian said, Now that's how you make beans! (boiled within an inch of their life in bacon grease).

The Pride

Nope, it's not a GLBT thing, it's what they call the WVU Marching Band, of which Ann was a proud member while a student there. She was first trumpet. So we just had to watch them practice.

Happy girl 
Okay, thanks for reading all the way through. I know I was a bit chatty. Hope you enjoyed it, and keep them emails coming!
The Sullicakes