Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving up the helm

November, the trees have given up their leaves to nurture the seeds that have fallen on the ground over summer, and now stand naked, impervious to the cold northern winds, and stand alone against the gray winter skies.  They no longer can hide the brown and black squirrels that scamper up and down their trunks, or the woodpeckers knocking soundly against the bark for insects now deep in their winter sleep. The huge black turkeys roost in the top most branches, leaving the ground open to the coyotes who look up into the night air hoping one may just be close enough to lunge at and pick up an easy meal.  Huge eagles now fly low, with the crows hassling them at every air current, along with the beautiful white breasted hawk that sits alone watching these events with curious eyes.  So begins my nemesis.....enclosed by four walls, watching, waiting, for the first snowflake to make its appearance, and cover the brown bare grounds with a white quilt that will erase the summers escapades and quell the thunderbolts chased by lightening rods across the darkened skies.

Its the season of the great bucks, now turned the color of the tree barks, so as not to be seen by the hunters.  This year there seems to be a surplus of deer, which is quite unusual as it has been quiet the past 4 or 5 seasons.  I watch as the sun lays low in the west, and a 8 pointer  slowly marches over the hill and takes a look at the bounty before him.  My alpacas are watching from the far side of the pasture with quizzical looks to ascertain just what this marvelous creature has in mind for the evening.    He holds his head proudly as he walks to the fence, and sniffs the cool evening air for that ever evasive doe.  He stands at the fence for a minute or two, looks at the alpacas, while my lone goat prances around excitedly and the alpacas lower there heads and continue to graze on what green forage that has been left by the frosts of past weeks. The pasture does not hold the prize he is looking for, so he continues back to wood line, stretches up on his back legs, and leaves his scent on the tall oak, paws the ground a bit, and take on another oak further down the way...and then finally disappears into the woods.  A few minutes later, a another nervous shadow appears, three does sprint across the field headed for the other side of the ravines, not ready yet for the marvelous buck that has been searching for them earlier.   His time will come, but not tonight, and the owls will hoot the story to the moon as darkness settles over the homestead.

I have been keeping a wary eye on the hawks and eagles  this fall.  There seem to be many more than usual, and tell tale signs of feathers shows that my chickens are now on their menu as well.  I have watched them swoop in and fly off before any one of us can get outside with their prize caught up in the sharp talons to a destination deep into the woods.  Angel, one of my big whites, barks to no avail, as they know that there is no harm so high in the sky. I can hear them laughing as they circle, chattering their plan of attack, waiting for the prime opportunity, and sailing down with out hesitation, afraid of no one.  It is their land now, nothing can find cover to hide from the wide wings of destruction.

Thanksgiving will soon be here, and I am giving up the helm.  Ever since the children were little, Thanksgiving was held at our place, my former husband was gone for the week deer hunting, and this was our celebration of the fact.
Now we will go to Michigan, and Lisa and Larry will be hosting the event, and though this may be a little sad, to give up this task, it is to my benefit.  Our house is way to small with the dogs, and all my "Stuff" anymore, and I don't have to clean and put away all the things that do not surface again till I tear everything apart looking for them.  Sometimes that may take months.....and the turkey will not have to be cooked squeezed in between all the other things that the oven must prepare.  Plus there will be no leftovers in the refrigerator that last for weeks, if not frozen immediately after everyone leaves.  This will be a first, we will leave early, providing Tim is home, on Thursday morn, and return that evening, free from all the cooking, cleaning, baking and all that stuff....the queen has left the building.  The only problem will be Tim's schedule...will he be home, or on the road...there is no rhyme or rhythm anymore to his job, and we must fly by the seat of our pants instead of making plans.   But we will know the weekend before, and plan accordingly as Lisa says it could be on the weekend....or Friday....or ...sometime in that week.....only the future knows.

The weather has turned now to cold, very cold, like 14 above this morning, the first day of deer hunting, the shots ring out like crackling icicles across the moody sky.  This is the weather that finally rinses clean all my ambitions of garden work, and turn to the fine art of window watching as I turn scraps of material into pieces of quilts, or crochet long pieces of wool into rugs.  My little corner of the world now consists of yarn strings that have caught on my boots and make cobwebs across the entire house, material scraps that look like confetti strewed on the floor changing the direction of the tile.  Bolts of material stacked precariously on chairs waiting for the magical cut of the scissors to proclaim their fame.  In the middle of all this I sit, like a child among mountains of toys, just not quite sure which one I will play with on this cold, quiet, awesome day.

The gourds are gathered in the garage, and new ones drying in the greenhouse, ready to become spectacles of wisdom this coming new year. I just have to gather a few more tools to begin crossing the road into a new vision of  colorful scenes to tell the story of winter dreams. It is always good to have new anticipations for the coming year so as not to become lost in the heavy winter clouds that fall to the ground.

This is the time to wish all a wonderful holiday blessing, of Thanksgiving and all the holidays that come to the many days of this ending year.  In giving up the end of this old year, and entering into the depths of the new year, we each give up the helm and become captains of new dreams, talents, and begin afresh. So much to look forward to, so much to wonder about, entering the new realm of the unknown is no longer a worry, but just another road to travel.  Taking the curves slowly, forever going forward.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Train leaving ...all aboard

Have you ever felt that a train wreck was ahead, but you just weren't quite sure where or when it would happen.  Well this homesteader has almost hit the end of the tracks. Our Life Trains carry a combination of passenger cars and freight cars across the countries of our life, dropping a few here, and picking up a few there.  Sometimes it is up hill, sometimes downhill, sometimes the whistle blows,  and sometimes the engine comes to a dead stop,..... could be a bear on the track, boulders from the top of the mountain, or the bridge is out.  We pick up passengers on the way, and drop them off some where in the years ahead, always picking up new ones, and sometimes they stay awhile, leaving their baggage with you, or maybe they carry your baggage for awhile. But the passenger cars always have room, and the freight cars keep filling up.

Take this last year for instance.... the mountains were getting steeper, as the severe illnesses in our the family are quietly filling one of the freight cars....consquently this old steam engine was puffing along, slower then usual, pulling more as the weight from the cars were added on.  First came the layoff, a car or two flew off the track...adjustments were made, rail spikes straightened and on over the hill we went.  Then the old truck finally became to expensive to repair, and went the way of the junk yard heaven....that sadly took one car to fill, but could be emptied if we found a new truck.....soon. The railroad bridge trestle became fragile when the generator went down, and it took $700 for someone to say, "Ah, yep, the motor must be rebuilt to the tune of $2500, or we could buy a new generator for $3500 or more. Into the freight car went the generator next to the truck that hadn't yet been replaced....since there just wasn't enough coal in the coal car.  But that wasn't the end , I looked back and saw there were still more empty cars waiting ...... the Pellet stove that we heat the house with, and have a garage full of pellets stored for the winter, became the next casualty... as there is no one within a thousand miles that can figure out why the pellet rotor will not drop its pellets  including the conductor we bought the stove from... However that freight car is still running empty, because finally, some one from the state of Washington is going to trouble shoot on the phone with hubby to see what the problem is...but only after we had already paid out $250.00 for a new circuit board that someone thought for sure was the problem....toss that into the box car...also.....on its way back to manufacturer (who by the way normally does not take merchandise such as this back) as it was not the quick fix we had hoped for.   OK, so now the temps are down to the low 20's and 30's, snow is on the ground, and I have to turn on the super expensive electric heat to take the ice off the coffee and pile on the sweatshirts..find the feather quilt........another box car starting to fill.    If you think things came three at time ....right???....wrong...little did we know.....Box car number 4 was being added to the train and was rounding the bend......this time however the new occupants were boarding at the station to help our carry luggage..big time.

Last week in the mail came a small bright orange colored postcard, ....flashing red not cross.....signal gates are coming seems as though our one and only working vehicle had been recalled to the Barron Ford dealer for a defect that could be lurking in the undersides.....when it was built.  I almost threw it in the garbage, but since those signal gates were still down and caution lights flashing , decided to call and make an appointment to get the car checked out.  Now to those who know me, the gas pedal in my car seems to have this penchant for peddle to the metal,.... now I say ....its because of my heavy boots, yet that doesnt cut it with the conductor, ....most people call it speeding,.... but in this county with all the PUTZERS who the hell would know. So if you can see your way through all the steam rolling up from the engine wheels, this could have ended in a run-a-way not to pretty situation.  While sitting in the showroom, with a beautiful new Ford car taking the place of the steam engine in my imagination at my feet, out came two very serious looking gentlemen from the garage area....and very gravely sat down in the chairs next to  me....and proceeded to explain that the Ford Company will not let me drive my van home.  IT seems as though there is a crack in the rear axle of my car, due to the defect when it was made....eleven years ago.   HUGE boulders have fallen on the track, and theres no one to push them away .....the train has stopped.  Tim is in Kentucky, on 18 wheels, dealing with his own miseries, and the steam engine here is stalled and quickly running out of coal.  Ford company will give me a check for $3400.00 for the car, which is very generous, since it is 11 years old, and has made contact with about three deer in the last year, (the deer won). And  so maybe..the salesmen who have been listening to this scenario ask.......would I like to look at the cars on the lot, while they call Enterprise and rent another car for my pleasure at their expense. AHAH! These were the new passengers aboard that would carry my luggage for a change....I looked, at the used vans, saw a beautiful red truck with a snow plow but at a price that couldn't move those huge boulders off of the track.  It seems as though they have already checked 100 cars or more, and mine was the first one to have the defect the salesmen tell me, and the cars on this lot go very quickly...I wonder did they have this defect also and should I settle fast in case they get on the cattle car at the back of the train..
 Enterprise was out of rental cars, so they loaned me one of the vans that was offered for sale on the car lot.  Small boulders moved...... I loaded up a few things from my now defunct car and headed into our little town to talk to my favorite Mechanic, at Skyway..."Take the deal" he smiling said as he headed for his own computer....and quickly found another Van that was only a couple of hundred dollars more than that check will be.  And he will even go into Chippewa to check it out, if it is measures up to his standards, he will bring it home, and we wait for the check in the mail, and I keep the rental car until all the boulders have been removed from the track.  The last passengers have come aboard and repaired the tracks, cleared out these particular boulders and I can start climbing that mountain one more time.  However, I am running out of allotted coal for steam power for this year, and we still have a month and a half of travel.

So tell me.....passengers with me on this great escapade of life,..... am I the "Engine that could" ...and can I  make to the other side of the Pass, with time to spare, or will the tracks be buried in a land slide of snow and ice, and the fire go out?......................Oh by the way...did I tell you that I carry a snowmobile in the Caboose?.........Just in case.....................this is the north country ya know!