Monthly Archives: August 2010

Teeter-Totter Cats

Standard

This has been the view out of my writing window. The small box cage contains a hen and six chicks. They hatched last weekend and our son gathered them to safety before the cats could make a snack of them. I kept them close to the house to monitor their health. The plywood provides shade from the harsh afternoon sun.

This little set up has been a constant source or entertainment for our kittens. They watch the little things incessantly, practicing their stalking abilities through the wire cage. Mostly they prefer to walk the length of the board.

Here we have our smallest kitten for a brief interlude.

She jumped free of it after this.

The most entertaining for me was Bella’s foray onto the teeter-totter.

Bella is the light cat standing in front of the hen. The dark smudges to the left are the little chicks.

Bella gave me quite a laugh this morning. First she walked the length.

Then scampered to the highest point. Cats love to climb as high as possible.

Now, her weight is tipping the board.

The board is dropping and she can’t figure out why the ground is getting closer.

There she goes to the other end to try to figure it out.

Now that dratted end is back on the ground. So back up she goes.

Now she is satisfied she is the highest once again.

Darn it! She’s lost altitude once again. What on earth is going on around here?

This definitely warrants investigation, so back down she goes.

Oooo! That small adjustment of weight has brought her into the air once more. Her perky little tail tells me her glee.

She is determined to decipher the mystery. After this shot, she jumped from the board, satisfied to be an ordinary ground cat.

She isn’t even interested in those tasty morsels on the opposite side of the wire.

I just wanted to share my piece of heaven for the day.

Love,
Jeannene

Advertisements

At Last… Chile Rellenos

Standard

Last night when I walked into the fresh foods section of my little grocery store, bags of fresh green chilies from Hatch, New Mexico greeted me. Without hesitation I opened a bag and drew in one long, lasting whiff of home. It was heaven to me. I come from West Texas, the dry desert southwest and all its beauty. Not to diminish the natural resources growing from its own soils, this section of the country is known for it green chilies. Labor Day weekend is the annual chilie festival in Hatch. Hundreds of pounds of the peppers are roasted over large rolling propane roasters, the savory aroma of roasted peppers wafting through the air and heralding the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I LOVE green chilies and everything you can make with them or anything to which they can be added.

This brings me to last Friday evening. On our trip to Alabama we stopped in the small town of Wynne, Arkansas, a small east Arkansas farm town about forty-five minutes from Memphis. After settling into our hotel we found a place to eat. We ambled into a tiny Mexican food restaurant across the street. The place was charming and dripped with atmosphere. All the tables were of brightly colored tropical somethings with chairs to match the table. We were taken in immediately.

From the menu we ordered our meal. I requested a No. 8 – spinach enchiladas, Corvette Man ordered a chilie relleno a la cart and our daughter ordered a taco salad. We gnashed on chips and wonderfully seasoned spicy salsa as we awaited our meal. When the food arrived, a large oblong platter was set before C Man. The dish contained a swath of perfectly melted cheese with a small scrap of green in the center of it. He fished the green morsel from the lake of cheese to discover it was a poor excuse for a chilie relleno – it was only a piece of green chilie and barely constituted a whole bite. He was sadly disappointed.

When I dug into my No.8, disappointment unfolded with the first slice of my fork, for the enchilda was beef and not the expected vegetable. Next to it lay a pork tamale – another disappointment. We ate our meals without complaint, unwilling to bring upon us some dreaded kitchen revenge. We made light of the whole meal, though, jesting about the chilie relleno, or lack there of.

This brings me to my meal. When I found those beautiful chilies I knew I had to make chilie rellenos for C-Man. The meal was a rousing success.

To make these, it is necessary to roast the chilies to remove the tough outer skin. I put these in the broiler.

This is what they look like when done.

Peel the skin from the flesh of the chilie.

The contrast of fresh versus cooked.

Open the chilie and insert a small bit of coteja cheese.

Dip the cheese stuffed chilie in a flour/egg mixture and lay in hot pan with oil.

Cook the chilie until brown then flip over.

The result is the tastiest low calorie meal around. These peppers turned out to be a bit spicy. Wonderfully delicious and satisfying.

Love green chilies.

Chilies are always a little piece of heaven to me.

Love,
Jeannene

Just a Note

Standard

This is just a quick cathartic note. I wanted to post people pictures, but time constraints impinge on the creativity of the post. I have been practicing taking people pictures. They are better, but not as easy as thing pictures. Any way, back to this post.

My world has turned upside down, but for the better. The new job has different hours, also for the better. Instead of rising before the sun, a gleeful 4 am, I am now awake as the sun rises! I drive to work in the daylight. The adjustment is getting home at 4:30 in the afternoon when, at 3pm, I had thirty minutes to myself to get the house together before children arrived from school. I will brag on myself (as C-Man so aptly reminds me – shine the light on myself). I have adjusted admirably, I believe. Dishes are washed in the morning and laundry finds itself in the washer in the evening. Dinner is cooked most of the time. Words find their way to the page after the evening bath.

Primarily edits make their way into the final draft. This process progresses slower than I would like, but I persist and it will be finished.

Our kids are firmly ensconced in their new school activities and we have only been back for a week. Catboy rises at 5am for cross country practice every morning and our daughter has started majorette practice, the first game looming in only one week. Football season… an Arkansas religion. The heat wave has broken into a cool tract of temperate climes to herald the crisp days of fall…we hope at least. Love the change of the season.

I leave you with this lovely sight from our front door a few days ago.

Truly a little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

Tranquility in the Pond

Standard

Sorry I haven’t written anything on this little blog in a week. It has been a busy week, but we pushed on and made it through. The weekend found us in Alabama visiting family. It was a wonderful visit and a great road trip. Of course, if you know me, I took pictures along the way. On this trip the vegetation was green instead of barely blooming. I found some interesting plants to record digitally.

We found this next item in a small overflow pond at the edge of a gigantic soy bean field in western Arkansas. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen these this size before.

Believe it or not this is a lily pad. A lily pad of this gargantuan size is expected in Texas, but we find these in Arkansas.

They appear rather innocuous in this picture, but they fill the small pond to over flowing!

Then there are the flowers blooming from these lily pads. The buds are huge, mammoth.

And the blooms are immense. What we have here are giant plants.

Then, as I searched for interesting settings to shoot, this is what I found…

Can you see him? Tucked under the immense shade of one of those fronds sits a toad. The leaf he sits on could swallow him up.

He is in his own little heaven. A puddle of cool water to sit in as the yawning shade of the overhanging leaf shields him from the harsh midday sun. He sits, lulled into lethargy by the mesmerizing calm of the pool.

This is what I look like in the spring when I pull my laptop out to the porch and force myself to work as a steady breeze brushes across beneath the over hang and transforms my world into a place where napping outside becomes more enticing that finishing the daily word count.

I wish I could fit on the green expanse of this leaf with the frog. He could share my little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

A Very Special Person

Standard

There is a very special person I wish to write about. This is for my Dad.

He was everything a dad should be. A little girl should always feel protected and special and cherished. He made me feel this way. He was my knight in shining armor. He was my protector. He kept the boogy man at bay. It was Dad who took care of everything in my small life so I never worried about anything. (I thought I probably should, but could never think of anything.) I watched him with a sense of wonder and amazement. He was the most beautiful man in the world to me. I believed every woman crossing his path secretly wished they could be married to MY dad, because was the best. He was the standard to which I measured all other men. It was a pretty high bar and very few guys passed the mustard.

My dad was the smartest person I know and he wanted us to be all that we could be, both intellectually and physically. But he didn’t push us, he pulled us. He set the example and taught us to think independently. He would always say “I don’t care how you do it, just get to this end…” He made us figure out the path.

He continued to teach anyone who would listen. He is teaching our son to work with wood.

I will never forget the years in grade school when, for the umteenth time, I asked him how to spell a word, any word. I knew what his answer would be, but I made the bold attempt regardless. “Go look it up,” he would say. The dictionary became my best friend. Look where it has put me today. I love the use of words!

Dad came from a line of fine craftsmen, wood-workers. All of my uncles make their livings with their hands. My dad loved to work with wood. Our garage was always filled with saws and drills and tools of all kinds. You could never get the car in there for the projects he had underway. We always approached the garage with trepidation for any kid was quickly roped into sanding some piece of wood. I hated to sand wood. It was a job requiring more patience and care than I was willing to put forth, not to mention elbow grease. That didn’t matter to him. He had six children and that meant twelve little hands were at his disposable.

Dad refinished the chairs that stood around the family table. You have no idea how many small pieces a chair consists of, and they all require dutiful sanding. He built numerous huge book cases for all the hundreds of books in our family library. He built each of us a small desk and over head shelf to hang on the wall. In a room where we had no privacy (I always shared with my sister) this small corner was my little haven. The items in the shelves were private as well as the space on the desk. Heaven help my sister if she ever touched anything on MY desk. Dad also built a couple of houses, beautiful houses. He did cabinets and shelves and more cabinets. He made tables and small pieces of furniture. I loved everything he created.

Dad also had a passion for cars. He loved to work on his transportation. We had an old Mercedes-Benz years ago. He and my mom redid the entire interior, upholstery, wood accents, roof interior. He and Colet did the same thing to an old airplane they bought – remade the interior. He constructed tiny amenities for the inside of their trailers. He always believed things could be improved upon and nothing was too difficult to accomplish.

Dad was the quintessential mechanic-always tinkering, always fixing a noise, always making it better. He rebuilt quite a few of his cars and his airplane. His mind was always churning. He was remarkable.

Did I mention my Dad flew jet planes for a living? He was an Air Force fighter pilot. Perhaps it was the freedom he experienced in the air that lent to his endless creative life.

He also taught college economics for several years while holding down a regular day job. He loved to teach. Hence: “Go look it up.”

Dad was also intensely spiritual. He lived with a fierce belief in the Almighty and a tangible reality that miracles did indeed occur. They happened in his life. My path in life was shaped in large part by my Dad. He taught me about prayer and faith and guarded those things savagely. I bless the Lord for making me his daughter and allowing me to know and love him.

My dad passed away Monday. He leaves a legacy in his wake: six children and sixteen grandchildren. He will be remembered as a man who touched the world with love and joy and a fierce sense of living. All those who knew him are better for it.

This was a good size section of my piece of heaven.

Love, Jeannene

I Need A Smile

Standard

This has been a very nice weekend, preceded by an equally glorious week. Unfortunately some startling news from my family has given me a heavy heart. There is nothing I can do about the news, but I find this perfect time to remind myself of the things that really make me happy.

The following are tidbits of my little piece of heaven. When I see them, I find my happy place inside.
This little thing, which isn’t really that little, but by comparison she still is, give me such a joy.

Right now it is so hot out there we have rigged up a large fan near her pen. Mama and Stormy make no bones about standing in front of it to keep cool. Horses are no dummies.

And these people make me happy.

So does he…

I can’t find all the other things in this massively inept filing system I have for pictures. But I can always come back to this girl.

Butterflies give me a sense of peace.

I haven’t the time or the inclination to include the thousands of other things. When it comes right down to it, I am really blessed and, despite the sad news, very much at peace.

Thank you for sharing my little piece of heaven tonight.

Love,
Jeannene

Perfect Design

Standard

I spent some time in my back yard this evening. It was warm out there, but it was full of life. Our son had mowed grass today. When grass is cut it sends all sorts of tiny little creatures into the air. These small creatures fly around and they, in themselves are food for the larger flying creatures. In the light of the setting sun, I watch all sizes of dragon flies flitting around, the waning light reflecting off their bodies. It is quite a fascinating sight. The dragon flies fly around eating those itty, bitty bugs.

In the process I discovered one dragon-fly on its perch.

It looks innocuous enough, this little bug.
….but upon closer inspection.

The incredible design of this fellow makes me wax philosophic. The design of his body is perfectly suited to balance a top this tiny sliver of grass. Tiny only in width, for is rises a good four feet above the ground.

It made me think about how we are all designed for a specific purpose. Often it takes a great deal of time to discover what exactly that purpose is, but we each have one.

Dragon flies are designed perfectly to sit on tall, skinny blades of grass.

It took me years to discover how much I enjoy writing and that the stories I have created in my head and speak out loud for my children are truly a symptom of this wonderfully contagious, happy malady. They scoff at the lives I create for people we don’t know. Who knew I possessed a creative outlet?

This beautiful creature balances by adjusting the angle of its body against the angle of his wings on the stalk of grass as its six spindly legs grab hold. How it stays is a mystery.

His design is perfect for his environment.

I am sure my design is just as in tune with my environment. I love living in the country. I love watching our animals and our children. I love working outside in the green and the heat. It all lends to a creative mind and flourishing imagination.

Today’s little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

A Sign of the Night

Standard

This week I find myself in entirely new surroundings. I am doing the same thing, but in a different place. It only takes me twenty to thirty minutes to get to work. It’s like a vacation. Eventually I’ll be working three twelve hours shifts at night – then I’ll be home for four days.

In celebration of my new shift I’m posting a sign of the night.

Last month the moon appeared over the tree line of our farm in the east and I needed some practice taking shots in the dim light.

I’ll be up with the moon soon.

The irony is I will be driving home in the morning light and driving to work as the sun sets. Until the winter. But for most of the year I will see fewer night hours on the road than I saw in the past.

I feel a little brain-dead tonight. I have completed half of the editing in the current WIP. It’s like a mad rush to get it all together. At the same time this is coming together, the characters of the next two works are talking and showing me who they are. There isn’t enough time to work at it all. I just keep jotting down notes on the new people and make verbal notes on my recorder for the WIP.

I guess it’s a good thing the juices are flowing at least. Count the small things as blessings.

And that is today’s little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

Transportation Old Style

Standard

Today I celebrate the end of a chapter of my life. I closed the door to a job I have held for the past six years. Six years. I didn’t expect to leave the security of this employment after I passed the five year mark. I never expected to stay at this position for this length of time. Seniority at this stage is advanced and the benefits are substantial – lots of time off. That alone lends itself to make one reflect about leaving a seasoned position to start at the bottom somewhere else to work her way back up the ladder. For me that had little effect. A change was in order and I jumped at it.

To celebrate something new, I give you something old. I give you something of the past. I present the tried and true forms of transportation prevalent some one hundred years ago. And it is a special joy for me, since my latest novel in placed in the old west.

Here are these wonderful wagon wheels as one would see them today.

Now, I take you to the past.

This buckboard is old and rickety.

Now it is ancient.

A donkey cart is simple today. A donkey is all that is missing.

Now we see it in the eyes of the past.

O close with more of those wonder wheels. Aged naturally, they instill a wonder in me. Where did they come from? What travels have they seen? What sort of loads did they carry? As a writer if have all sorts of stories floating through my head.

We found these treasures at the Bar Of Ranch feed store in Clinton, Arkansas. It is a feed store with fabulous cowboy furniture. This is also the home of Labor Day Chuck Wagon races.

And that my friends is my little piece of heaven today.

Love,
Jeannene

Horses Anyone

Standard

Sunday was the day to work outside. What a day! It was hot! Not as hot as today, thank goodness, but it was still hot.

It was the designated day to rework the roof on the horse stall. We had plenty of help and we started early before the heat set in. Two of our neighbor boys came over to help. They were a huge help at that. Awesome help. Thank you Grey boys

To get it all started, the mama horse and Stormy were moved to larger adjoining pen. This incited much running and plumes of flying dust, not to mention a wonderful photo-op. These two horses have been isolated from the rest of the herd. There was quite a bit of sniffing and some nipping to establish dominance. I love to watch the interactions.

I haven’t posted pictures of Stormy in two months. She is filling out beautifully and this is the most congenial baby we’ve had in seven years.

She loves to run. An excellent trait, for that is what she is bred.

She has a beautiful confirmation to go with her personality. I wish you could meet this horse in person.

Great lines from a couple of beauties.

Here is my riding mare, Naomi. (I named her Naomi because Corvette Man thought Naomi was a mouthful of a name for a little girl so I had to find another name for our daughter. I found something else to give that name to after all.) Naomi hasn’t seen Simcha (the mama) in quite some time. She has to undergo a greeting ritual with the mare.

Watching all this was our older girls. I love, love, love to capture these two. The beautiful contrast of their coloring and the similar facial features makes them so photogenic. By the way, they are mother and daughter.

They have to breath on each other to learn their scents. During this little ceremony, horse squeals erupted and some nipping ensued. Naomi is dominant, but Simcha has her own set of demands, which put her at the top today.

Here they are again.

They stayed clear of Naomi and Simcha so they watch from a distance.

Lovely,don’t you think?

Of course the heat took a minor toll on the Simcha today. Without her shelter to hide from the sun, she got a little hot. We spent the mid-afternoon in the 107 degree heat to make sure she weathered it alright. All of us survived.

My little piece of heave for today.

Love,
Jeannene