Monday, September 21, 2009

Maternal Instinct Wins Again

That's right - take a close look. That is a duck who has hatched a chicken egg. Mom is still sitting on a few eggs. I can't tell how many because she'll bite the heck out of me.

Still, I saw this and had to take pictures.

September 22, 2009

There are now two chicks in the nest!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love is the Drug - Dark Harbor

The Iroquois Club

He stands on the stage at the Iroquois Club - belting out a Doors cover with all the sass and sex appeal he's got. He's got a lot. He's lean, wide shouldered and slim of hip, with dark, tousled, rock-star hair, blue eyes and a young man's chiseled features.

The young woman across from me is all but drooling. She wouldn't get a second glance from him, in spite of the bright blond hair, she's got 'mouse' written all over her. She sips her Morgan and Coke, talking softly during the break, but her eyes never leave him.

"His name is Teddy; he just got back from three years in Iraq." She sighs, her name is Kaylynn. She was National Guard and served with Teddy. "He swore up and down he wasn't coming back here, but - you see where he is."

He moves to the bar, flirting with every female in range and downs some shots. I wonder how much booze he can take before he can't sing standing up. It looks like he's pushing his luck. Teddy has an easy smile as well as a roving eye. He is well liked, I can tell by the indulgent way the bartender is pouring shots.

His band mates don't look happy with the way he's knocking back shots. The lead guitarist makes a cut off gesture that Teddy ignores.

"I work down the street, day shift at the restaurant," Kaylynn smiles. "He comes in at noon for breakfast."

"We are friends, during the day. At night, he's like this, I hardly know him." She bites her lip. "He was my best friend in Iraq. I don't understand why he's like this now."

"He wanted to go active duty, make a career out of the Army or go into the Air Force. But he's wasting his life drinking and drugging, playing rock star and screwing everything that walks."

What she isn't saying is pretty clear - she's in love with him.

There is a collective pause, and heads turn. The woman walking into the bar is a stunner. Black hair to her hips, scantily dressed in a red leather mini-skirt, she's either some biker's wet dream or a dominatrix escaped from a brothel.

My money is on the brothel. She's not a young woman and she's got a hard look to her that should send any smart man running for home.

"Destiny," the name is said with distain. "Well, we know who Teddy's going home with tonight. He sings that song to her, you know."

Teddy plants a lip-lock on Destiny that makes my companion's eyes fill with tears. The break is over; he is hip-to-hip with the woman as they walk to the stage. He mounts the stage giving her smoldering looks that should have caught the ceiling on fire.

Destiny wanders over to the pillar next to us, leaning on it as Teddy wails out a Roxy Music cover 'Love is the Drug' as if she is the only woman in the crowded room. This close to her, I get a look at the tattoo on her shoulder, an upside-down pentagram. There are a couple more tattoos, roses, thorns and bleeding hearts. Her earrings are dragons. She's thin, always has been, being thin is a good thing when you're a cougar - hunting after young bloods.

Destiny is mighty attractive for a woman pushing fifty. Yeah, I know her age, as well as what she did to keep her figure. The signs of aging are muted at night; I wonder what she looks like in the harsh light of day. A lifetime of taking speed and snorting coke can be covered by makeup and hair-color, but to really look young takes more drastic measures. You've got to sell your soul, either to a plastic surgeon or to Satan himself.

Destiny doesn't have money for a plastic surgeon.

"That song is posted on Create Space," Kaylynn dries her eyes. "People are downloading it like crazy. They are getting a lot of attention, and good reviews. Enough to where they are putting together an album."

"Cory and Tony are working really hard on the album, but Teddy blows them off. He won't lay down the vocal tracks." Kaylynn shakes her head. "I don't know what's wrong with Teddy. He won't make up his mind to do anything. Not the Air Force, not the album, he's just partying with her and her creepy friends."

"You know who I'm talking about." Kaylynn takes her eyes off Teddy to look at me for the first time. "That creepy artist - Van Man Go. Teddy is over there all the time." She shudders. "What a skank! But Teddy acts like Van and him are best friends - all the time he's screwing her, and she's been with Van for years."

I have to smother a laugh. Van Man Go’s name has popped up once again. I give the girl some encouragement before I get up to leave. As I walk passed Destiny we make eye contact.

“Kitty, how’s it going?”

“Good band, hot singer.” I smile at her, raising my eyebrows. “Cindy’s son, isn’t he?” We partied with Cindy, before Cindy departed to places unknown. She came back with Teddy, stories of a groupie’s life and AIDS; without money for healthcare, Cindy lasted only a few years. Nobody knows who Teddy’s father is.

Destiny doesn’t like to be reminded of the fact that we go back many years, that I know the age she carefully denies. Her eyes sweep over me, I’ve been on the straight and narrow for more than 20 years; that knowledge bugs her, too. She takes a drag off her cigarette and blows the smoke at me. I smile and walk away.

There is a couple sitting in the corner, a long lean man in a sport bike leather jacket and a slim woman with long dark hair, Eric and June. As Teddy announces “Lights” by Journey, Eric takes June’s hand, inviting her to dance.

They take over the dance floor. Teddy’s voice is pure and soulful as Eric gathers June to him with a tenderness that glows in the smoky light.

Destiny rolls her eyes in disgust. What is between those two is very real, and she can’t stand being in the same room with that kind of love. She brushes passed me. Teddy’s watching the couple dancing. There is a longing in his eyes that comes out through his voice.

Kaylynn has her eyes closed, pretending that Teddy is singing to her, no doubt.

I take that image with me – thick smoke, neon lights – a singer silhouetted in red and blue crooning to a couple, slow dancing their way to falling in love; in a bar, in the Harbor, in Ashtabula.


Barnes & Noble: 'Swallow the Moon

Smashwords: 'Swallow the Moon'

Amazon US: Amazon US: Swallow the Moon - Dark Harbor

Amazon UK:

Amazon DE:

Amazon FR:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Horsing Around with a Manure Spreader

Cleaning stalls is a dirty job - for the core muscles and as an upper body workout - there is nothing like it. (rolling eyes) However, I've got three horses and limited energy. Then there is the lovely issue of where all that bedding goes. Nobody really likes to have a manure pile, even though it's fabulous fertilizer, in the back yard. (Besides the chickens, rooster Sony is King of the Manure Pile.)

We solved it all last week - bought a 'newer' spreader - as in manure spreader, here is the link. If you have horses or any animal that requires bedding with daily/weekly changes - check this gizmo out.

It grinds up the manure and bedding, spits it on the grass in a thin coating, that looks like it will dry up and rot immediately. Its only been a couple of weeks, so I can't claim that manure is the miracle fertilizer that we needed to get rid of ragweed or any of the dead spots. Nor does the thin layer fill in the holes that make mowing a nightmare.

This manure spreader wasn't cheap at $900 - though the nearest thing I've seen locally cost $2.5k. The construction and assembly is in line with the price - I'm impressed so far. It's handy, I can move it empty to the stall, clean up, move it by hand to the next stall. Hook it to the mower and go spread the wealth. (G)

In fact, it chewed up the chicken bedding, a mix of straw, shredded paper, feathers and manure, as well as all the old manure pile, easily. I spent three days filling and spreading just to see if there was something that would clog it up. So far, I haven't found anything.

What impresses me the most - everything my animals eat and all the bedding has become fertilizer. The manure pile that was a dozen feet long and three feet high is a thing of the past. I bought a bag of grass seed to sprinkle on each load.

Disney didn't visit my pasture, darnnit, no overnight 'shazam' but hey, it's not a two or three hour chore any more. I don't have to trundle huge heavy loads of soiled bedding to the pile and wrestle them to the top, then dump the mess.

In my mind, the wheel barrow emptying was always the hardest part. Try it in 6 inches of mud, where the mud sucks your boots off. We'll see if my lawn mower can slog the winter-time mud any better.

Honestly, I can't imagine winter without a sprained back or pulled leg muscles from cleaning stalls. I've spent the greater part of the last ten winters nursing my back and despairing while the stalls become a horrendous nightmare.This winter, when Ned broke my toe, I was laid up four weeks. Can you imagine the mess?

Will I be able to clean stalls, fertilize and seed the pasture all winter without getting hurt? I don't know. Will I have time to find out? Oh yeah.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Misty Morning Musings

A chill September morning, the sun isn't up. The mist is thick, a gray veil of chilled air that starts at the fence line and muffles the sight. The horses are mere shapes by the gate. They must be sleeping because they don't look up as I come out to feed the cats.

The chickens are already up, of course, with the rooster crowing his darn fool head off. A few ducklings are pipping 'where are you' as they follow the drakes out of the barn. They must be late sleepers because the momma ducks have already headed up the hill where the grass (and ragweed) is still high.

I've been working outside, since the weather cooled. Mowing and weeding, stall cleaning and spreading, planting trees and flowers until I can't move another inch. There are forsythia cuttings in pots, herbs drying, flowers still blooming and the porch needs to be uncluttered.

I trimmed the Japanese maple, though I wonder if it will ever be a tree again. A cold snap two years ago killed the slender branches, so now it looks like a sheared shrub. 

Last year's oak tree is a pitiful mess. It looks worse than the maple. Four feet tall and leaning despite all my efforts to straighten it. At least the redbud trees shot up this year. They were pitiful one foot tall twigs for years. They steadfastly refused to grow an inch. Maybe there is hope for the oak?

All the trees will be fed well this fall. We'll see if they decide to grow come spring. I've always heard that the roots grow first, then the tree grows into the roots. Also 'the first year it sleeps, the second it creeps, the third year it leaps.'

As I look at the horses, grazing in the round pen, I realize that I've got only two major projects left. One is turning the round pen into my primary garden, but before I do that - I have a horse to train.

I'm going back to my yard work today.