“The heavenly solitude, the pacifying trees, the blue night that was a good counsellor, the peace of wild animals—” ~ Colette, from Claudine and Annie

Orage vu de Petit-Croix by Thomas Bresson (FCC)

But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from The Little Prince

Monday afternoon, partly sunny, 82 degrees.

Well yesterday was interesting. Temperatures in Roanoke were hotter, and the AC in the truck doesn’t work; by the time we got home, my eyes were dry and hurting from the wind coming in the windows. We picked up the two female Nubian goats. They already have names: Sylvia and Roberta. Sylvia I can handle, but Roberta? Never liked that name. She’s young enough that maybe we can switch her name to Bobby. We’ll see.

Unfortunately, Sylvia had her babies prematurely, and neither survived. One died on Saturday, and the other died before we got there yesterday. Bobby is still pregnant, so we’re hoping that everything goes okay with her. The woman from whom we bought them says that she thinks it may have been a mineral deficiency. As Bobby is Sylvia’s daughter, we know that Sylvia can have successful pregnancies, so at least there’s that.

All of the animals were worked up by the time we got home. Tillie and Bailey went for each other, but luckily, Corey and I were both on hand to break it up. Roland is hoarse today, so he must have been bleating for hours, which makes me feel guilty, but we couldn’t take him with us because we thought we’d be bringing a baby goat home. At the moment, Roland thinks that he’s one of the dogs; it will be interesting once he’s bigger to see if he still acts the same way—i.e., wanting to take an afternoon nap on the couch.

“Not only rational and irrational, but even inanimate creatures have a voice, and speak loudly to men, and it is our duty to learn their language, and hearken to them.” ~ Ralph Austen, from The Spiritual Use of an Orchard or Garden of Fruit Trees

We’ve learned that the temperatures here on the ridge tend to be a bit cooler than surrounding areas. I think that it’s because we’re pretty much situated in a bowl, so we always have a good breeze. The downside is that breeze can really be a fierce wind at times. We’ve been discussing shelter issues for the outside animals, and we had talked about one of those metal buildings, but I’m afraid that if it isn’t fixed properly, the wind will just pick it up and drop it.

Thunderstorm in Victoria by Ryk Neethling (FCC)

More than once we’ve wished that we could have a barn building like the Amish. Remember that beautiful scene from the Harrison Ford movie Witness? But we’re missing one or two of the key components for such a thing: people and lumber.

Ah me . . .

Yesterday, just as we were getting ready to leave for Roanoke, Dallas showed up. I knew that he would because Corey had slipped and told him that we were going to Roanoke. I was afraid that he’d come while we were gone to try to take Sassy back, but he didn’t bring the horse trailer. Instead, he said that he was coming to fish in the ponds, which is fine, as long as he doesn’t try to take back the last horse that we have.

“I must wash myself clean with abstract thoughts, transparent as water.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from Nausea

I took the opportunity of having him in front of me to confront Dallas about still having Napoleon, but he claims that he still needs him for stud. Originally, he had told me that he’d only have Napoleon for two weeks, but I should know by now that he just tells you what he thinks you want to hear and that the truth rarely escapes his lips. I did tell him that Sassy is lonely as horses need the company of other horses, and I pointed out how overgrown the pasture is getting, so he ultimately agreed to bring over some more horses. We’ll just have to see, I suppose.

Storm over Cayuga by Adam Baker (FCC)

Look, I know that technically, the horses belong to him; I’m not unaware of the reality. But we take much better care of the animals that are here than he ever could, not to mention the fact that when he first brought the horses here, he said that he was giving them to me. But again, it’s the matter of him saying one thing while meaning something completely different. We’ve learned that he has a habit of taking things back when he gets mad at someone; he’s done it repeatedly with different people—he giveth and then he taketh away.

Dallas is a prime example of being both a boon and a curse. And quite frankly, we’ve had way to many curses in the last few years. I tire of them. I tire of never getting ahead, never making forward progress.

“Animals, at least, don’t experience fear until it’s upon them, immediately. But our nerve reactions can convey worry about the future, until the fear insinuates itself into the present, into everything.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from a letter to Eddie Cohen, September 11, 1950

We hit rain on the way home even though the forecast had not called for any, and then as we neared the ridge, it was apparent that there had been a big storm while we were gone. I think that’s part of the reason the dogs were so riled when we got home. Tillie is very afraid of storms, especially if no one is around to comfort her, and I think that Bailey senses that unease.

Storm by Jim Sorbie (FCC)

As we came down the drive, the trees were heavy with rain. So everything was close to the sides of the drive, almost as it was the first time that we came to the ridge, and everything was so overgrown. At least the gas company fixed the part of the drive that had washed out, but they just cut into the side of the mountain, which is essentially compacted soil, so it’s a temporary fix at best. The next big wind and rain storm will undoubtedly wash out more. It would be nice if they’d build up the embankment with rock, but unfortunately, we have no control over what they do with the drive.

I saw the big excavator that the company had parked on the side after carving more of the mountain side on the drive, and I told Corey that it’s too bad that we don’t know how to hot wire it and use it for a few days. We could scoop up some of the loose gravel that’s around the wells and dump it on the drive. Or we could dig out a hole for an in-ground pool. I’ve always wanted to drive something like an excavator—how awesome would that be? It’s an interesting fantasy.

“The sky is lowering and black, a strange blue-blackness, which makes red houses pink, and green leaves purple. Over the blowing purple trees, the sky is an iron-blue, split with forks of straw-yellow. The thunder breaks out of the sky with a crash, and rumbles away in a long, hoarse drag of sound.” ~ Amy Lowell, from “Before the Storm (III)”

This morning the dogs were doing their fierce, alert barks, and Corey looked out the window to see a bear in the pasture again. Oddly enough, Sassy didn’t seem to be afraid of it. She was at the trough and took a few steps towards the bear. I’m hoping that it’s the same bear and not another one. Knowing that one bear is nearby is unnerving enough; I’d hate to have to wonder about several.

I do wonder, though, where he or she was hibernating; I’m hoping the bear is male because a female with cubs can be very vicious when in protection mode. We haven’t really come upon any caves in our walks, but I would imagine that there have to be some around here. Here’s hoping the dogs will be enough to keep the bear from coming too close. Corey says that Llamas and Alpacas are good to have for herd protection. That’s something to think about for the future.

Thunderstorm over Nevada by Stuart Seeger (FCC)

The future is something I don’t really want to think about at the moment. We find ourselves in a precarious position yet again, and truthfully, I’m really tired of living this way, never really knowing how we’re going to survive, pay the bills. The fear of losing everything yet again never seems to be far away, and the really weird aspect of all of this is that I know that we make more money than many people around here, and trust me when I say that living on my disability is not making a lot of money.

Again, I know that if we can survive the year, that things will change, that getting started on a farm is precarious at best, but damn I’m tired of precarious. I’m tired of always worrying. I suppose I’m just tired, but who isn’t any more?

More later. Peace.


Music by Welshly Arms, “Legendary”


The Trees are Down

—and he cried with a loud voice:
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees—
(Revelation)

They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of the branches as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas,’ the loud common talk, the loud common laughs of the men, above it all.
I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding a large dead rat in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.
The week’s work here is as good as done. There is just one bough
   On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
             Green and high
             And lonely against the sky.
                   (Down now!—)
             And but for that,
             If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never have thought of him again.
It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas’ have carted the whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.
It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,
             In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the great seas.
             There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
             They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying—
             But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
             ‘Hurt not the trees.’

~ Charlotte Mew

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“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.” ~ David Benioff, from City of Thieves


“I have started to dream profusely day and night. The blood is circulating again. I write in my head.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary; 1939-1947

Sunday afternoon, partly cloudy, 54 degrees.

Last night was a real bugger. The dogs wanted to go out frequently; it seems like it was every five minutes. Around 7 a.m., I took half a sleeping pill and tried to get a few hours. This afternoon,  I’m zombie-fied.

Let me back up. Last night, Corey came home with a breeding pair of miniature Nubian goats. We’ve been talking about starting with the goat thing, and yesterday afternoon, he was really at loose ends, so I told him to go buy some goats. Problem solved.

When he got home, we had some pretty strange reactions from the various animals: Sassy the horse began snorting, tossing her head and generally acting unhappy. She’s never done that before; I wonder if she has some antipathy towards goats. All of the dogs wanted to see what was in the truck, and when they were put in the house, Maddy scratched at the door and whined like mad to get out. During the night, Bailey kept wanting to go outside, and when I opened the door, she would immediately turn left and head down the side yard. I didn’t follow her, but I assumed that she was going towards the chicken run, which is where Corey had put the goats last night so that they would be safe. Then Bailey would come back inside and whine at me.

Over and over and over. So annoying, and I was very not amused. And then I realized that I was mindlessly looking out the window and only to see the very dense dark that surrounds the property at night fade as dawn began to appear. (It is lovely, however, that from the side living room windows we can watch the sun set over the ridge, and from the side window of the spare bedroom we can see the sun rise.)

I was not greeting the dawn on purpose as anyone who knows me can attest that morning and I are not on the best of terms. I am even less amused today as my head feels like it’s in a vise, and my hands hurt like crazy (I’m currently out of my eggshell membrane).

“Even when
I sleep I dream I can’t sleep and I’m standing there looking
down at them, the night pouring from my hands.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

Today Corey has the goats out in the yard, both of them on long leads so that they don’t bolt. The end of the yard before the dropoff was apparently a goat pasture as there is still a small goat shed down there. Unfortunately, that’s one part of the yard in which the fence hasn’t been repaired, so we cannot put them there as of yet, hence the leads. I am ambivalent about that far pasture, though. I mean, what about bears and coyotes?

I know. That whole worrying thing.

Apparently, the guy from whom Corey bought the goats kept them on long leads and moved them around his property each day. It’s not an ideal solution, but I suppose that it will work for us temporarily. However, the goats need to have room to move freely, preferably in areas that are overgrown.

As soon as I saw the pair last night I immediately named the female Daisy, but I haven’t figured out who the male is yet. Daisy is quite gentle with a very pretty face, which might be an odd thing to say about a goat. She is black with sable markings. The male is mostly white with black markings and a pair of beautiful horns.

The only thing about goats that I don’t like are their pupils: horizontal. Weird and kind of freaky. I probably feel that way because too many horror movies use goat imagery for demons, and that’s stuck in my head somehow. But Daisy is the farthest thing from demonic looking, and she is very sweet-natured. I still have to work on the male.

“It’s good to fall asleep here. I lie on my back and don’t know if I’m asleep or awake. Some books I’ve read pass by like old sailing ships on their way to the Bermuda triangle to vanish without trace . . .” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “How the Late Autumn Night Novel Begins”

Yesterday was Eamonn’s birthday. I sent him a text, which was much harder than it needed to be. The phone situation around here is no better, and frankly, I’m at my wit’s end over it. I need to call some doctors and pharmacies, and I simply cannot get a freaking signal that will last more than 15 seconds, which is why I didn’t even attempt to call Eamonn and chose to text instead.

I realized later in the afternoon that yesterday was probably at the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Norfolk, something that Eamonn, Alexis, and their father have traditionally made a point to attend. I’ve never been to the parade, nor have I wanted to—too much noise and way too many drunk people on a Saturday morning.

I plan to write Eamonn later today to see how his birthday went and if he did anything besides the parade. It goes without saying (so I’ll say it) that I really miss seeing him, especially on his birthday, something I would have normally made him a special meal for, at the very least.

“I can still see the dark
blur at the edges. I don’t sleep anymore, my head is full
of this insomniac light.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

At the moment, the house is quiet as most of the dogs are outside with Corey. Tink is the only one inside, and she’s deep into her afternoon nap. She has gotten too big to sleep in my lap while I type, but that didn’t stop her from trying to do so yesterday afternoon. Neither of us were comfortable, so I moved her to the couch, and she immediately fell back to sleep. She’s really grown so much since we first got her, and Freddy has really grown. We’re certain that he will end up being our largest dog, but he’s still a little scaredy-cat over pretty much everything, and he doesn’t realize that he isn’t small any more. At least he isn’t afraid of towels any more.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the quiet, but I’m chilly. We’re trying not to build any more fires, but the last few nights have been quite chilly. I always get cold when I’m not feeling great, and at the moment my legs, my fingers, and my nose are cold. The legs I can cover, but what do you do about a cold nose when you’re sitting in the house? And as for the fingers? I mean, I can’t really put on gloves and hope to type with any accuracy.

I have no plans to go for a walk today; I just don’t have the energy or the inclination. It’s already going on 3:30. It took a bit to find today’s poem and song, so I’m already behind before I even start. I don’t think that I’ve ever posted anything by this particular poet or performer before, so that’s new.

The only good news is that I think that I’ll be able to post the pictures that I took the other day. When I sat Corey down yesterday to help me with the problem I was having with importing, I showed him what I had been trying to do, and of course the first time that I tried, I was able to import a photo without any problems.

I really hate it when he gets that told-you-so, smug grin on his face . . .

“It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.” ~ Kim Stanley Robinson, from Icehenge

I realize that this post isn’t incredibly engaging or revelatory (you wouldn’t believe how many times I just misspelled that word, and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why: relevatory is not a word, dumbass). Blame the brain fog and the cold nose and fingers.

I was tempted to skip posting entirely, but if I did that, then there would be the recriminations and regrets and general bashing of my otherwise solid self-image, and we wouldn’t want that, huh?

So let’s see . . . goats, insomnia, spelling errors, cold body parts, dogs, kids . . . Anything else? The daffodils are blooming. Hooray. Exciting podcasts? More of “Case Files” (out of Australia) and “Root of Evil” (the Hodel/Black Dahlia legacy). YouTube videos? Not really. Skincare discoveries? No? Well, damn. Boring as usual.

More later. Peace.


Music by WILLN’T, “Four O’clock in the Morning”


Winter Insomnia

How many winter mornings waking wrongly
at three or four
my mind the only luminosity
in the darkened house . . .
my wife richly breathes
her eyes turned deeply in
on dreams.

I am alert at once
and think of the cat
coasting on its muscles
from closet shelf to bureau
grave and all-seeing
caring not at all.

The face…..the faces
waiting
toward ponds
empty-handed and with tenderness
hoping the hourly day might melt and flow.
One could reach out,
there might be a daily salvation

Out the windows slowly
a dull light is covering the
world without end:
snow patches and mud ruts,
the neighbor warming up
his car.
The world refuses
to bless
or to be blessed.

~ Richard Tillinghast