Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Ups and Downs

Twas the night before Christmas……

....when Ross and I set off for the Christmas Eve service at church, and had gone about 2 miles…..when, what to our wondering eyes should appear,…….. no, not a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, just….

......pitch black!

Yes, the headlights on our car went out. This was not good!
It was rather unnerving, to say the very least. I sat stunned, in panic mode. Fortunately Ross was driving and had the presence of mind to turn on the flashers, which still worked, and thankfully, gave us enough light to drive back home and swap my car for his.

Now we’ve only had this car since July and while it’s not new, it’s much newer than his, and supposedly the better vehicle! Our mechanic has had it for the last 2 days trying to find the problem…keeping it overnight to drive home himself, hoping it would have another ‘episode', but naturally it wouldn’t act up for him. Murphy’s Law, you know. So far, after checking everything he can think of, this knowledgable man hasn’t come up with an answer because his diagnostic instruments can’t detect where the problem is if there is no problem!! Grrr. He wants us to drive the car until it happens again and then bring it back. OK! I’m really looking forward to repeating that experience!

We wanted to drive it on the 3.5 hour trip tomorrow evening to have our Christmas celebration with our son, his wife and our 2 grandsons on Saturday. Taking the other car is an option, but it doesn’t ride nearly as well, and makes our backs ache. We've opted for comfort, so instead of leaving tomorrow night after Ross gets home from work, we'll go Saturday morning and come home on Sunday.


The girls and Ko came on Christmas Eve and we enjoyed a bottle of wine together. While watching little bits and pieces of "It's a Wonderful Life", we arranged the presents under the tree. Kylie and I cried when Zuzu said her famous line in the end, and Kathy laughed at us :)

I thought of Tammy and her new grandkitten, Clarence.

I took this before it got too crowded

We nibbled on cookies

Yes, The sugar cookies were frosted and decorated!


Christmas morning dawned bright and blanket of snow for this Christmas Day. I came downstairs to find Ross looking very green around the gills. He had woken up with some sort of nasty virus.....nausea and a splitting headache! The poor man could hardly function. He ended up sleeping most of the day, leaving us to open presents without him.

Here's Kathy in a "Mad Bomber" hat that Akio gave her.

Unfortunately he couldn't be with us because he spent Christmas with his lovely mom.

He also sent Ross a "Mad Bomber" hat which, I think, was his favorite present :) Ross got up in the early afternoon and opened just a few of his presents, then snuggled up in his recliner wearing the hat because he had the chills, and went back to sleep. The girls thought this was a perfect photo op.

They are their father's daughters!

Before he went back to sleep Ross managed to sit for a moment at the table for a photo, but the sight and smell of food was a bit much for him.

Our very good friend, Nancy, came in the morning to open presents with us, and brought her famous cream puffs for our dessert, as is her custom. She sat with us for a glass of milk and shortbread cookies (her favorite), before going to other friends to share their Christmas dinner.


Kylie and Ko arrived home just a few days before Christmas from a wonderful 12-day honeymoon in Paris and Brussels. They couldn't get away back in September after their wedding, so had to delay the honeymoon until December. If you'd like to read about it and see some pictures, you'll find it here, on Kylie's blog. I promise you'll have a laugh at their adventures :)

They brought us the most delicious chocolates from Brussels. Truly, I've never had anything like them. They're amazing! Posted by Picasa


I always love this week between Christmas and New Year...a time to relax and rest, after the hectic weeks leading up to Christmas Day. School is out for the week and I can catch up on things I want to do.

Tomorrow will be Ross's last day of work. His health is causing him to take an early retirement. He has plans to do lots of woodworking and is looking forward to finally having the time for it. I think I'll be glad to have him home?? I'll let you know how it goes!

I hope you're all having a nice restful week!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Reason for the Season

Our nativity used to belong to my dear mother MIL. It brings back fond memories of her every year when I assemble it at Christmas time.

Jesus, The Savior is born! Without Him there would be no reason for the season.
May God's gift of love be your gift this Christmas.

These weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are always so busy, but it's finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
The decorating is done and the cookies are baked, but the sugar cookies have yet to be frosted. I've made a dent in the wrapping today and will finish that up tomorrow.

We'll have our girls and Ko home for Christmas Eve and day. It's always such a blessing to have at least some of our children home at any time, but it's especially fun at Christmas. Our son and his family will go to his MIL's for a big family gathering. We'll have our Christmas with them next weekend. We sure will miss those little grandsons!

The Nativity at our church Posted by Picasa

I'm looking forward to the time when I can visit you all again. I'll soon be catching up with those of you I've missed lately. It's been so much fun getting to know you all over this past year and I look forward to many more visits during 2007.
Until then dear blog friends, I wish you a wonderful and joy-filled Christmas, surrounded by the love of your family and friends.
May that sweet spirit of friendship that we share brighten your New Year and last the whole year through.
And may the blessings of peace and love fill your homes and hearts.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Card from the Cat

The strangest thing happened last Thursday....we got a card in the mail from Jasmine! Can you believe it?

I think I can do this. How hard can it be?

It was postmarked Lexington, KY, which is very puzzling! I'm thinking she must've surrepticiously e-mailed it to Cucoo and had him print it and send it for her. Do you think they could be in cahoots on this? I know she's a smart cat, and could probably lick a stamp, but addressing the envelope might be a problem. She wrote a clever poem on the inside too. I think she had to have a little help, don't you?

Now let's see, I think you tap these little squares....

This is one amazing cat we've got here!

Oh yeah, look at that!
Looking good! I am one clever cat!

She's very creative, don't you think?

Cucoo and friends

My guess is she's in Cahoots with the purple-haired bird...the tall one with the skinny green neck. You all know him as Cucoo, from Sandy's blog.
Funny thing is, Cucoo and friends showed up here the other day, out of the blue! Jasmine seemed very excited to see them all.
I made a little kiddy-sized jug of eggnog and tiny little cookies for them. They sure had big appetites for a bunch of skinny birds, and friends. Well, one actually ate like a hog and another had the manners of a dog. The gingerbread man however, couldn't have been more polite.
We had a lovely visit, and then they all piled onto their bike and off they went again, into the wild blue yonder...back to Kentucky I assume. I hope they told Sandy where they were going because that's quite a long trip!

Now to act nonchalant... Posted by Picasa

You have to understand, I've been under a lot of strain lately with the Christmas rush and all. It could explain my lunatic state of mind and this crazy post :)

P.S. I'm happy to report that the barn cats are all safe and well. We've been confining them to the milkhouse each night and letting them out during the day. We haven't seen any more signs of the raccoon, but there's no snow on the ground, so we can't see any tracks to tell if he's still around or not.
That picture of the barn in the previous post was taken last February. We haven't had that much snow yet. We had a little on the ground during the week of the attack, but it has melted since then. We're having rain tonight! This week the temperatures have been mild again. It's been weird weather for December. Last Friday while putting the kids on the buses at school it was raining lightly and there was a rainbow in the sky! I don't remember ever seeing a rainbow in December before!
Sorry I haven't had much time for visiting and posting lately. There just aren't enough hours in the day for me to get all the shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping and everything else done, and blog too! I'll catch up with you all soon.
I hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Marauding Raccoon!

The milkhouse is the small part jutting out in front. The raccoon tracks were found on the far right.

It's been a while since I posted, partly because this is such a busy time of year with Christmas preparations. However, we’ve had quite a week here on the farm! I've tried not to make it a long story...but it's quite a saga and I couldn't seem to condense it to just a few words. So my apologies for being so long-winded.....
The trouble began on Tuesday morning when 2 of our barn cats were viciously killed. My husband found the first one in the barn when he went to feed the cats very early before he left for work. He left a note for me to check on them if I had time. Luckily I wasn’t called to sub that morning so up I went, feeling horrified to think an animal had attacked one of our cats, and hoping I’d find the rest of them safe.
Several of them had been afraid to come in the barn when Ross fed them, but now they followed me inside. A head count had me breathing a sigh of relief to find most of them there, looking skittish, but alive and well. The milk left in their dishes was icy cold (I’ve felt like we’re living in the frozen tundra this week with the frigid winds and temperatures we’ve had), so I carried it to the house to heat it up, and was gone about 10 minutes. When I returned a terrible sight awaited me…another cat had been attacked! I won’t even try to describe my horror at this point! Finding no sign of the intruder after a quick check with pitchfork in hand, I herded the remaining cats into the milkhouse where they would be safe and placed the food dishes in there with them.

Alice and Pete

I then called Ross at work to pour out my tale of woe, and he suggested I call Leo, a friend of ours who is a trapper. He didn’t answer the phone so I left a message. I then thought to call our neighbor, Wesley, who is my friend Chris’s son and works 1o minutes away on the family farm. He came right over and brought his gun.
He found tracks outside the barnyard door that looked like they might belong to a possum (they can sometimes get really mean), but there was no animal to be found. The only thing to do then was close up the barn as best we could and hope the critter didn’t return.
Leo, our trapper friend arrived a little later and found more tracks in front of the barn down by the place where the manure spreader is kept. He thought it was either a raccoon or a possum. The animal had obviously come up the bank from a brushy area and gone into the barn through the large opening above the spreader after Ross had closed the barnyard door earlier, blocking that entry.
Leo and I checked the barn and then came back out to the spot where he’d seen the tracks. He looked over the bank…… and there was the culprit: a very large raccoon, half hidden under a big log!

Dinner time! Lily is the little light colored calico on the right

As we looked, it backed out and peered right at us, seemingly unafraid. Unfortunately Leo’s gun was in his truck 50 feet away so he hurried to get it. Meanwhile the raccoon and I just stared at each other while I willed it to stay put, wondering at what a beautiful, innocent-looking creature it appeared to be…fluffy and healthy….not at all as I imagined a cat murderer should look. But alas, just as Leo approached it turned and ambled under the log and off into the brush. Try as he might Leo couldn’t find it, and we failed to entice it back out into the open even with a raw hamburger. Leo set a trap that evening and we secured the cats in the milkhouse again, resting easier with the expectation that come morning the marauding coon would have met his maker and peace would be restored once more to the barn.

Dear old Grady

Early in the morning I hurried to check the trap….and to my great disappointment found it empty!
For the past two evenings we’ve repeated this procedure and still the raccoon has not been caught. We haven’t found any new tracks so maybe the animal has left the area, but the thought that it’s still out there somewhere, perhaps awaiting the opportunity of another cat meal, makes us very uncomfortable. Leo removed the trap this morning and I’m relieved to have that deadly contraption gone, even though the coon is still at large. With the snow we now have on the ground he thinks he may be able to track the coon and find its den if need be. What a blessing it is to have such good friends and neighbors as Leo and Wes, who are willing to go out of their way to help us in a time of need.
On Tuesday morning I brought Jasmine into the house and thankfully Ross has agreed to let her stay. I told him there’s no way I was going to lose that cat to a murdering raccoon! We’ve always had at least one cat in the house until a few years ago when it became convenient to leave them all in the barn so that we could travel and stay overnight with the kids without having to worry about a housecat.
She acts as though she’s always lived in the house and has made a very smooth transition. She’s a ‘talker’ and loves to cuddle. So far she seems to like Ross’s chair best for sleeping. He says he smells better than me :)
I wish I could bring all the cats in and keep them warm and safe, but of course, that’s just not feasible. I’m feeling blessed to have at least one.

Jasmine...the pampered one! Posted by Picasa

Of our 20 barn cats 17 are now accounted for. Poor sweet Alice and dear little Lily were killed, and dear old Grady is missing. If you click the link on Lily's name you can see the lovely picture that my friend Judith took of her when she visited the farm in October. Cleo and Sophie were missing but Cleo showed up last night and Sophie came into the barn this morning. What a relief it was to see them! Sophie and Toby are limping and each has bite marks on the sore foot. We’ve given them penicillin shots and Toby is feeling much better already and is eating well. Sophie was starving and feeling poorly this morning, but was acting much better and eating hungrily this afternoon. She has just had her first shot this evening and with luck, will be feeling better tomorrow morning. We hope and pray the raccoon wasn’t rabid, and so far the evidence leads us to believe it was probably just hungry.
The poor kitties have been terrorized but they seemed happy and secure in the milkhouse tonight. Let’s hope tomorrow and the days following will be better and safer for them.