Friday, July 31, 2009

Chickens and Tomatoes

Our tomato stand on the front porch. Dad can sit in the shade with his radio and watch for customers (our neighbors). It's nice to chat with them, and they love the yard.
Here are the Buffs! Don't they look fine?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Miss Oddball

I put my chickens out into their yard/coop arrangement on Monday, although it was cloudy and cool, and I had my doubts. I was prompted to move them because they were beginning to fly up and perch on the wire of their enclosure in the barn. I didn't want them getting lost in our piles of junk where I couldn't reach them, but a snake most certainly could.

The very day I moved them, one, the oddball, bonus chick Murray McMurray Hatchery sends with an order, came up with a bad leg. The limb was splayed out horizontally from the hip in the wrong direction while she sat, and she couldn't stand on it. We inspected it for a break, but could find nothing wrong. She was also eating and keeping up with the baby flock, though it was a pathetic sight to watch her flapping and hobbling after them. Al thought we should kill her, and I would have if she was sick or suffering. She was neither--just had a bad leg. I've seen animals get along with a missing limb before and do alright, so I gave her a chance.

You can probably guess where this is going. This morning, Thursday, Miss Oddball is standing on her good leg and holding her injured leg in the correct position, even if tentatively. She is placing some weight, tentatively again, on the bad leg when she walks. The great thing is that she is upright, not sprawled on her belly. Where it will go from here, I can't say, but for the moment, it looks good.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Complete, Utter, most Enjoyable Waste of Time

I've been very busy. *cough, cough* That is, I've been very busy doing what I want to do--write little stories that have absolutely no worth whatsoever. Worthless and yet I think about them night and day, especially at night when I wake up with a phrase or a thought and grope blindly for pad and pen. In the morning, I decipher these blind scratchings and try to find time to develop the idea or use the dreamed-up phrases. Between tomatoes, dogs, chickens and Dad, mowing the lawn and the other jillion housechores, there's not much writing going on, but that doesn't keep me from thinking about it.

Below is the latest endeavor, a taste of where my head has been. Be warned that this story and the race and creatures involved is out of its usual, rich and complex context. Nevertheless, I felt it had more general appeal than many of my others, which only make sense if the reader is steeped in the lore of Azeroth.

And share: How the Raptor Got Her Stripes

Though not shy, Moyja is reserved. She’ll laugh and smoke and tell tales with a body all night round the fire, but she’ll tell little about herself. She won’t say how her Da died or how the grief of it and her loneliness and fright afterward, though she was young and adaptable, nearly ruined her. She won’t tell what she and that boi, Deishi, did up in the red canyon alone. She won’t explain how an island girl, refugee in Sen’jin, ended up managing the wares and finances of a guild in Silvermoon. If she does talk about herself or kin, it’s always to another troll, Mai Mai for one, although she’s been known to waggle her tongue after too much rum.

When the troops at Stonebreaker Hold gather for stories, Moyja’s glad to share from the vast collection of tales in her head--just not those few she keeps to herself. Tonight she tells several, each in her turn. Only the single Tauren at the Hold, slow and dignified, rises to speak in his turns. The rest, orcs and trolls, sit relaxed and tell their stories more casually. This is the frontier, a forward base, so their storyfire is rough, just the smoker in the inn. Leaving the orcs to their rotgut, Moyja smokes instead. The Tauren, an elderly druid, shares the bowl and the mild pleasure of the herb with her.

Moyja’s last tale is old, one of the earliest tales she learned from her Da, one of those make-believe stories told to whelps. When it’s her turn, she passes the bowl to the Tauren to free her hands for the story-telling and pays careful attention to her orcish so all will understand her.

Way back when trolls live only undah da trees, some in da cool nort’, some in da warm sout’, b’fo’ Muddah Sun ‘dopted us, b’fo’ we build temples n cities, dere be a troll, Daki, who tame da first raptah n teach she ta carry ‘im. Dis raptah be da same coloh all ovah, ‘ead ta toe, capapie; pearly-silvah like moonlight.

When Muddah Sun lit da world n reveal da rainbow, Daki discover ‘e blue skin n ‘e golden ‘air like Muddah, n ‘e joyful wit’ da oddah trolls, who laugh ta be bright. Only t’ing make Daki sad be ‘e raptah, ‘lone o all da beasts, still pearly-silvah like moonlight. Daki’s clan, ridin’ on orange tigahs n pink n purple chocobos (‘member dis be long time ago), tease ‘e, ‘cause only ‘e mount pearly-silvah like moonlight.

“Daki,” say one, “Chu raptah so pale. Be she ill?” Anoddah jus point, slap ‘e knee n laugh. One, a pretty, girl troll, roll she eyes n toss she ‘air n look to a shmexy troll warriah ridin’ an orange-n-black stripe tigah. It be all more den Daki can bear (‘specially da girl).

Next night, aftah Muddah Sun paint da sky She second time, Daki mount up ‘e raptah, pearly-silvah like moonlight, n head fo’a secret place ‘e know, spot ‘e used t’go swimmin’ in da warm springs. Fact, da lost land where ‘e first find da raptah n tame she, Un’goro Cratah. ‘Course, lands different in dose days b’fo’ da Sundering n places close today, once distant. Places distant, sometimes toss side-by-side. I don’ know ‘ow fa’ o ‘ow long Daki travel, but ‘ventually ‘e arrive at da Cratah where watahs steam n black pools ooze. Parrots live ‘ere, b’loved by Muddah Sun, who paint dem ‘specially colohful.

Daki, b’sides bein’ a sensitive troll, be a great ‘untah, n ‘e got a plan to make ‘e raptah bright. Daki ‘unts parrots, lots n lots o parrots, red ones, blue ones, green parrots. When ‘e kill n pluck ‘undreds o parrots, ‘e coax ‘e raptah, pearly-silvah like moonlight, right into one o da black, oozin’ pools of ta’. ‘Ow ‘e get she t’do it, we never know, ‘cause she a girl raptah, fastidious ‘bout she looks. When she emerge, she not pearly-silvah like moonlight; she black n sticky, jus’ as Daki plan. One by one, ‘e apply da colohed, parrot feat’ahs to ‘e raptah’s sticky ‘ide, but ‘e not got enough o all one coloh. Lot of green ‘e got, so ‘e start wit it, but den ‘e add a row o blue, den green again, til ‘e raptah mos’ly green all ovah wit’ blue stripes, n a few pink n a few red, quite bright!

To set da feat’ahs, Daki ride ’e raptah t’Fireplume Ridge in da center o da crater, where ‘eat o da lava bake da black ta’ n feat’ahs firm to ‘e raptah’s ‘ide. No longah she pale, pearly-silvah like moonlight, n Daki start ‘e journey back ta da clan, eagah ta show dem (‘specially da girl) ‘e brightly-colohed n striped raptah.

In triumph, Daki ride inta ‘e village. She-raptah prance proud in she feat’ah coat o many colohs n waggle she tail jaunty as dey parade pas’ da troll girl, who look n look wit’ eyes gleamin’ like fiyah n fresh blood. When Daki offah da girl ‘e ‘and, she leap up on da raptah’s back n share ’e ride. Not long aftah, she share ‘e life, n dey make toget’ah a bambino, a li’l whelp.

Da raptah, turns out, come from Un’goro Cratah wit mo’e den feat’ahs. Inside she stable, she build a nest o straw n lay a purple egg ovah which she fuss wit’ great concern, ‘llowing no one close ‘xcept Daki. Aftah much anticipation by all, da egg finally ‘atch n out spring a tiny, male raptah, not pearly-silvah like moonlight at all, but emerald green wit’ an undah-belly o delicate pink n stripes o sunny yellow!

Evah since, raptahs born wit’ bright stripes on rainbow-colohed ‘ides, n trolls still ride dese mounts, who still waggle dere tails jaunty wit’ pride in dere looks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bountiful July

How many times did Dad complain that his zinnias weren't as bright and bountiful as he'd like? And how many times did I say...just wait, Dad, they'll come on...

Marigolds that self-sow each year. Not much now, but like the zinnias, they'll come on in their own time. In my gardener's eye, I see them bold and gold. Soon, very soon...

Fuzzy picture of the 4 o'clocks, which we do not enjoy as we should, because they bloom in the evening. But sometimes, when the night is mild, I step out on the porch to find them glowing in the dark.

Every year, I strive to do picture-justice to the crepe myrtle, which are the royalty of my yard. I fail miserably in these two pictures, above and below, but use your imagination with me...

Dry, hot weather always causes the leaves of the paper birch to yellow and drop, as now. They're pretty and a harbinger of autumn to come, scattered over the plumbago.

This butterfly and his kin are all over the purple coneflower, but here is a stray I chased in order to put his pic on the internet. He's famous now!

Perfect, and it's not the only one. Loads of large, rounded, smooth-skinned, delicious fruit this year. We're eating them sauteed (green and red), fresh on salads, sliced on sandwiches, grilled on fish, chopped up in pasta. It is truly a bounty, and we are appreciating our marvelous, tomato fortune as we indulge in the grandest of the summer fruits. See below!
Not as bountiful, but nearly as satisfying is a wagonload of onions, fresh dug from their bed (below).
When I let it go, propping up here and there, weeding out what threatens to mar it, then I end up with this carpet of impatiens each year. Below, the cilantro happily co-exists with the flowers. Above, a sunflower from the birdseed I offered this winter.