Monthly Archives: June 2010

Evidence of Summer Pests


Today was my birthday. It was an awesome birthday. For the first time in years I was actually at home. On top of that, most of my children were at home and I spent the whole day with them. It was such a great day I bought them a gift. I just enjoy their company and the fact that they are a part of my life. It is a piece of heaven.

Our oldest, the one with the hog, bought himself a new truck today. He traded his smaller truck for a Nissan Titan. It’s a beauty don’t you think? He found after driving a small truck for a year, it was too small for his needs. This from a single white male with no real girl friend. But… This is one nice truck.

The truck is only an aside. What I really want to address today is the pesky critters who have found a ready meal in my tomato garden. I have had tomatoes munched on through my few short years of gardening, but this year they are absolutely voracious.

Tomatoes are my favorite summer fruit/veggie.

These are a perfect example of this year’s crop. They are delicious.

Beautifully shaped and satisfyingly delicious.

Juicy and plump. So tempting to take a bite out of. I know first hand how wonderful these tomatoes taste. Unfortunately these temptations are not beyond the reach of some little animal who has found my garden and made it its own table.

These are only small snacks for some rabbit or skunk or something.

But this…. This was one greedy little critter.

I prefer to forget the painful loss of those perfectly good pieces of fruit and remember this instead.

We will enjoy the tomatoes that have not become varmint fodder and I will let go of the loss.

This is my little piece of heaven today.


Check Out This Hog


I had a small adventure this afternoon – a good one.

Our older son came home to visit this weekend. He lives in Mississippi. His newest toy is a brand new Suzuki Boulevard. It is a beauty too.

This kid (he is always a 15 year old kid to me and will remain so for the rest of his life) has been shopping for a bike for a year, so this is not a fly-by-night purchase. He knew what he needed and how much to spend.

He looks great, doesn’t he. I am his mama and pride will always play a large part of my perception.

The BIG thing today was the set of Vance and Hines pipes installed on it. They make that bike roar! I wish you could see his face when he throttles up the gas. It is priceless.

He took me for a ride this afternoon. I haven’t been on the back of a bike since I was seventeen. This hog doesn’t have a bitch seat on it and my prevailing fear was toppling off backward. He assured me that would not happen.

You know what? He was right. I did leave wet sweaty places on his waist and thighs where I grabbed him for security. We took a seven or eight mile trek out and by the end of the return trip I relaxed enough to allow the air flow to dry the wet spots a little.

It was quite an experience to have that much air blowing over you.

I had to have a small souvenir of the experience.

Having most of my kids home is always a big chunk of heaven.


More Family Members


I wanted to introduce you a couple more members of our family. I am reserving our newest additions for a later post.

Corvette Man and I raise thoroughbred horses. These girls here have been with us for a while.

This gray mare is about seven years old. She is out of Laredo Rose, whom you will meet later in this post.
We call this girl Tikvah. Her registered name is Ha Tikvah which means ‘the hope’ in Hebrew.

She is by a big gray stud – Cinnamon Creek. I believe you can see the resemblance (gray).

She has a wonderful confirmation and I love her coloring. Those brown patches are just dirt. They love to roll in the loose sand.

Rosie is my favorite. She was our first horse, came to us in 1996. She is registered as Laredo Rose and is an excellent short distance, speed horse. She was the first horse to rear up on me. She was the first horse to unseat me, which wasn’t any big feat – trust me. She was the horse that inspired me to learn to ride… Because if I didn’t learn how to stay on a horse’s back I would be nursing way too many bruises for a, then, forty-year old woman.

This girl is a bit aloof, but she will comply when you firmly assert your authority and your will.

They look like night and day, don’t they? They are beautiful girls, though.

They may be mother and daughter, but they get along like sisters – in a good way. They are my girls.

This is a beautiful piece of heaven.


Our New Addition


This weekend our other mama cat finally revealed her baby.

Of course I heard frequent mewing and scratching in the attic space above my head and knew without a doubt where she had stashed the little fellow. It was only a matter of time before the big reveal.

Friday night, in the middle of the night, C-Man and I heard the loudest tiny mewing we’d ever heard. A flashlight shining on the front porch revealed an unfamiliar tiny little dark ball of fur. His mother was else where and he crouched there waiting for her.

It’s a male and he is covered in soft, fluffy hair. Here is another shot in natural light.

He sits crouched in fear the whole weekend. At first he ran away, but as we handled him he would just sit like this until we scooped him up into our arms. He is so soft and cuddly. I’m so glad the mama only had one little guy.

Another animal crossed my path this weekend as well. Our 16 year old took me out driving Sunday afternoon. In an effort of self preservation I instructed him to take an infrequently traveled back road with some exquisite scenery. It was a lovely drive and in the thickest forested area we encountered some of these.

Now, if I had been a little quicker on the draw I would have captured the fawns facing me, but hesitation yielded this shot.

They can bound away pretty darned fast.

We had a really great weekend.

I came away from my writer’s group meeting Saturday inspired and have 3000 words into this chapter. Yeah! I am almost finished with the story of this book… then comes the editing. I am so pumped because I know exactly how to finish it up.

This is all my little piece of heaven for today. Thank you very much.


Heat Anyone?


I want to talk about my first country crisis. For some reason I thought about this on my way home from work. I didn’t really see anything specific to trigger this memory, it just sort of came to my mind and I have this urge to record it for posterity. Of course the 97 degree might have had something to do with it. Some sort of mental reprieve from the incessant heat.

I have to preface this with a little history. I have lived all my moderately long life in the southern part of this country (except for the five years we lived in Germany, five glorious years). Eleven of those years were spent in Montgomery, Alabama where the percentage of humidity oft-times equals the temperature in degrees. Another eleven years were spent in the desert heat of El Paso, Tx. Long, hot, dry summers and brief, moderate winters – wonderful sun and very little cold. The short of it – I am cold blooded and can only truly survive basking in the sun on a rock, not under a snow-covered, ice laden stone.

When we moved to the Midwest, it was after a life time of hot summers, warm springs and falls and really short, tolerable winters. That didn’t mean an occasional ice storm didn’t strike once a year or that on rare occasions an errant snow snow storm didn’t make its appearance. On the whole, I was a warm weather gal and accustomed to short three month winters and piped in gas for heat.

That brings me to our move to the Missouri. We moved into a farmhouse in the country. The house was heated with gas heat and the gas supplied was propane. I had never seen a propane tank before in my life. If I had, and it was entirely possible, I had no idea what I was looking at. My gas experiences were with natural gas. A mysterious tube in the ground piped gas into the house and made the heater work. The thing about propane tanks is they require someone to check the gas level and then have them filled when the gas gets low. The real kicker in this scenario is I had no idea this was how gas was maintained and that I was the one responsible for checking the gas level. You have to remember I lived in the city and utility checking was done by the utility company. My brain was still in the city and anything we needed would magically take care of itself by some guy in a truck.

Our first winter in the Midwest was hands down the coldest winter I had ever endured. To add insult to injury an ice storm dropped four inches of sleet which was subsequently covered in six inches of snow. To top it all off, I started a new job where I was the boss and was required to set a good example for those around me. The third day into my new employment, I awoke to a bone chilling 36 degree house and an external temperature in the twenties. I was beside myself. I called C-man, who worked nights at the time, and he quietly informed me we must be out of propane. OUT OF PROPANE!! I yelled it to myself. How do you get out of propane?? Why didn’t anyone tell me to check the tank? Why didn’t he check the tank?

Cold, cold, cold.

He suggested I take a hot bath and turn on the oven for some heat and be sure to call the propane company first thing. I was livid. I had three small children to get ready for daycare and school and how was I to keep them warm? It was freezing cold and I had an aversion to cold weather, let alone getting my family ready in near subzero temperatures. Worst of all, why hadn’t I been told about the propane tank?

Everybody took a hot bath, an undersized hot water tank required bath water sharing, and dressing in a hurry to bundle them all up. When I turned on the electric oven and some of the burners for some warmth at breakfast, the fuse tripped so that route to warmth was thwarted.

I did manage to beg the propane company to fill the tank that very afternoon. This day was only the beginning of diverse horrible winter encounters for that week. I was baptized into winter that week. You have no idea.

I will just always think about something like this to get me through any more cold winters.

Now we live in warm Arkansas and this is but a pleasant memory.

And that’s what makes this a little piece of heaven.


A Tower…of Sorts


Today I wish to share something with you that my family, my kids especially, believe to be ridiculous. To me, though, I find this sort of thing fascinating. I always take an interest in the unusual, albeit banal. When I stopped to take pictures of this, both my kids moaned in retort and tried to hide inside the car, by slouching as low as a six-foot tall teenager can slouch in VW bug. I pressed on undaunted. One thing I learned from my mother, don’t bend to the crowd and forge on to blaze my own path. I do that with relish and this post is a testament to it.

I have never seen one of these things until we moved to Arkansas. These unusual structures make an appearance after heavy rains; originating as mud and then drying into hard-packed dirt. I couldn’t believe the answer to my inquiry the first time I saw one.

It is that little thing in front of that great big rock. It looks like a mud brick or a little mound of adobe.

Now you can see it more clearly. I challenge anyone not living in Arkansas to make wild guess as to what the heck this thing is. Here… I’ll give you a couple more close-ups with details.

It is a small tower constructed of globs of mud, that have hardened in the sun to this crusty texture.

Believe it or not there is a small opening at the center of this top of this tower. It is almost indiscernible, but it is there.

Now for the big reveal…

This is a crawdad mound! Crayfish live in the soil around here, the water table being higher in this area than others evidently. When it rains, crayfish must dig themselves out of the deluge and this is a result of their attempt at survival. The tower is all the mud from the inside of their den. Corvette Man tells me if you lower a piece of bacon tied to a string through the hole at the top, the crayfish will grab it with its pincers and hang on. All you have to do is raise it up any you have a small piece of supper. That is of course if you eat that sort of thing… I wouldn’t touch it, sorry.

A unique piece of heaven.




At the end of the school year tryouts began for next years 8th grade majorettes. It was a three-week long process of buying the right baton and attending after school practices and twirling and twirling once she came home. At the end of the three weeks my daughter was astoundingly adept at twirling that baton between her fingers and tossing it into the air and catching it! I was amazed I tell you.

Tryouts did not pass without some mishap causing the judges to reschedule another tryout day shortly before school let out. Our daughter found her name on the list after the first tryout and we were all ecstatic to have a twirler in the family. Coach called shortly there after to confirm a snaffoo in the results of the judging. Three days later, though, she arrived home, all smiles and announced she truly is a majorette in the band next year. The caveat to this is she will have to continue playing the clarinet. A loathsome task, but nonetheless a necessary one to be a majorette.

She has great form doesn’t she. I love the way she tosses that baton.

Watch as she catches that thing with natural grace. Amazing.

I can’t even begin to twirl it in my hand and she stands there relaxed and at ease.

That skinny rod just pops into her hand effortlessly.

She is so cute. My youngest… look how big she is already. I’m starting to have motherhood withdrawal symptoms. I can’t believe she’s been here only thirteen short years.

This child is another little slice of heaven for today.


Back To Nature


This weekend was spent in the crowded concrete jungle of Branson, Mo. We drove in pouring rain Friday morning, braving the down pours through the passes and peaks to get there. Within four hours the heat bloomed into a sweltering humid day, so out of the ordinary for Missouri. We spent most of the day attending meetings, meeting new people and learning new things – none of it to do with writing, but interesting all the same.

When we drive, since writing is just not possible in the car, I take out my camera and wait for any awesome shot to present itself. Unfortunately, nothing was shot worthy during the buckets of rain. Fog filled every Ozark valley, if it wasn’t lying low on every hilltop, masking the spectacular views.

The drive home was a vast difference from Friday. Sunshine and clear skies gave me ample opportunities for picture-taking. One place I have longed to capture on film (I use the term loosely since this is a digital camera) is a waterfall tucked into the foliage of small gorge. We have passed this scenic view for the past ten years and it has become more picturesque with time. Today Corvette Man pulled into the area and I jumped out to capture the sight.

It’s beautiful isn’t it. Arkansas has numerous photographic opportunities. The most intriguing thing about this particular photo-op were the creatures walking over the stones of the waterfall.

I had only stepped onto this wonderful metal bridge to take this shot and two deer stepped across the water. I could tell you I waited for hours until something that unique showed up, but I can’t embellish my encounter with such blatant falsehoods. Today I choose to take the high road.

Do you see those two doe on top? Stunning coincidence, don’t you think? Not to mention the beautiful scenery.

Thank you for allowing me to share this little piece of heaven.


Just a Little Something


Tonight I need to post just a little something. I intended to post something last night but I was side swiped by a glitch in my work schedule. I left work at 2pm and ran an errand before coming home when my supervisor called me saying:

Jeannene, you were supposed to work tonight. I missed it on the schedule.

OMG! I looked at that schedule twice and didn’t find my name, either. Be there in 45 mins.

Needless to say, I jumped back into my car and drove back into the big city to work the remainder of my forgotten double shift. The caveat to that is that I was off today and spent the day with my kids. Tomorrow we go to Branson for a long weekend.

Another great thing about this week is the climax of my WIP is shaping up swimmingly. To celebrate this grand occasion of just being Thursday of a week in June, which happens to be summer and I love the wonderful season of summer with its warm days and sultry nights, I’m posting some more flowers.

My favorite summer flower of them all is the tiger lily. These were the best I could do close to home, since we don’t have any growing on our farm, yet.

Some of these look a little peaked, but there remains the rich orange in some of the blooms.

What montage of summer flowers wouldn’t be complete without Queen Anne’s Lace.

And that is today’s little piece of heaven.


Keeping It Real


I have to write something I actually know some little thing about and the following things give me some sort of security in my ability to write. The truth is I have struggled for the past day to order all the events coalescing into the climax of my WIP. Yes, I was given the revelation of tying in an event from the middle of the book to the villain and using it to convict him or kill him – I haven’t decided which or how. He is more complex than my feeble brain can deal with at the moment. Actually, I want him to suffer miserably for a protracted period of time, but I am such a wuss. Coming up with something cruel and equally as clever is stretching me. I will be a better person when its over, but now…. We will enjoy the simple tangible forces of nature.

So I will talk about a couple of real life pictures that give me a sense of peace and resolve.

As I worked on my porch the other day I glanced out over the back pasture and noticed a new set of weeds had sprung up out of the prolific grass. They are my favorite color – purple and spoke to me.

Come look, Jeannene. Come see me.

I padded out there with my camera, feet clad in a flimsy set of flip-flops, a shame for a woman living on a snake infested farm, and snapped some nice shots.

Buzzing amongst the bud were a couple of bees, which I actually managed to capture on “film”.

Bees make me think about my neighbor down the road who keeps bees. These could very likely be some of his and hopefully they will make an abundance of honey this year.

Then yesterday, as I took my son driving (he is 16 and learning) we stumbled across some cone flowers.

They are simple, straight forward and not really very lovely, but they are uniquely themselves and I find them immensely interesting.

I was disappointed the color in the leaves was so washed out, but it is in its natural state.

The simple things in life can free you from worthless chatter between the ears and give you focus and purpose. I feel a great weight has been lifted.

Today’s slice, as most, seems to be found in creation.