Monday, December 24, 2007

Dining on the Dindon

Yes, I know, I know, I'm a bad blogger. It's just that I've been really really busy! Honest! There are tons of things I should be doing, (You DON'T want to see the list, trust me) but instead I spend most evenings sleeping on the couch. You see I've been working of late. Strangely the job started about the same time I stopped adding to this blog...hmmmmm... Yes, my close to a year long retirement has come to an end, and I am back to the mines, although this time I am mining other things altogether. I've been working with a barn reconstruction crew, quite a bit different than the old TV animation work. I'm outside every day in pretty much all kinds of weather, and actually enjoying it quite a bit. It's good hard honest work, and I can come home and tell my kids (somewhat piously) that TV is bad for them and they are best to avoid it. That always seemed a bit hypocritical given my last gig where I was responsible for creating it...

Anyhoo here we are, I've managed to find a bit of time and actually have something to write about. Lesley's mom is here preparing 'Butch' the turkey . (You may need to know who Stuart Mclean is to get that reference. Honestly, this turkey has less skin than a pot bellied stove and is actually missing an arm. Wing - whatever.) While she was stitching it up and warming the stove, Belle was by the back door barking. Now that the leaves are gone from the trees you can see into the fields behind our house, and she often barks at the horses there, and she had just come in minutes before from chasing squirrels away from the feeder. However, as Rose looked up she saw this:A group of wild turkeys wobbling along the opposite bank of the river. The dog was going nuts, the kids started shouting for slingshots and bb guns, (blood thirsty little imps) but I smartly grabbed the camera instead. Watching these blokes wandering so close to our house was kind of funny for me, as I have been reading a very old copy of Robin Hood stories, and just finished the section where Little John and the rest of the gang rescue Will Stutely from hanging. Now I'm sure that the Sheriff had no plans of eating poor Will, and I doubt the feral turkeys would have even recognized the pale, goose-bumpy, one armed, headless, naked, stuffed with breadcrumbs and held together with skewers cousin of theirs in my kitchen sink, but still, it struck me as odd, and while everyone looked intensely out the windows, I quietly latched the door. No one was going stop Butch from reaching my plate. Not my own stuffed to the gills stomach, not it's 'Utility Grade' classification, not a knife fight, and certainly not a roving pack of wild turkeys.

Have a great holiday!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Return of Swamp Dog!

Well, haven't had much to write about lately. No, wait, strike that. There's been so much going on that I haven't had time to write anything lately. Really, it's been nuts around here. The kids are back in school, Les is still working out of the house three days a week plus her Regent Theatre commitments keep her hopping. I'm now working 5 days with a local barn renovation crew. (The locals probably know which locals I'm talking about) The gallery is still open weekends and the occasional weekday. Plus life in general and all it's bits and pieces and comings and goings and goings on. Sheesh.

Well I've managed to get a few days off from my 'day job' to spend at home and work on my 'main job'. It was quiet today, and Les decided to open the gallery to pick up some early birds scratching around for this weekends Studio Tour. We were down there talking to some friends as a few people perused the bits in the barn. An older gentleman was petting Belle (who loves the attention she gets from people down there) We had a nice chat with the parents of a new friend of Leah's when I looked over to the dog, and my jaw dropped. There was enough fur around her and the poor gent for 5-6 dogs. He was shaking his hands in the air trying to get the fluffy stuff off, effectively making what appeared to be an ethereal, ghost like Belle twisting and floating in the gentle late summer breeze. He kind of forced a smile and suggested that the dog might be in need of a good brushing. I said something like 'yeah, she might at that...he-heh...' Then he waded his way out of the fur and off to the Cheese Factory. Les commented later that the left over fur on the ground looked like Baxter our cat had his way with the better part of the population of small critters in the County. Another good reason for me to brake out the rakes for this seasons yard cleaning marathon.

So, later in the day while enjoying a nice drink on the deck, I decided I should take a few moments and give Belle a thorough brushing. After pulling out what seemed like endless melon sized balls of fur I called it quits for a while, vowing to get back to it at lest once more this weekend. Les and I had dinner on the deck, with Belle, stimulated by the brushing snarfled after who knows what around the yard. As Les and I talked we'd occasionally check with each other if dog was in sight. I had taken her collar off to brush her, and she doesn't seem to understand the boundaries of our property. In less vigilant times we've spotted her wandering around on the other side of the road, or wading in the black ooze they've lovingly named 'Black Crik'. Well sure enough as the minutes ticked by we lost site of her for just a bit too long, and it occurred to me that if she had wandered into the river, it may be tough for her to get out. The river is about two feet lower than normal. and the shoreline is some serious muck. We raced down and sure enough, there she was, up to her shoulders in black, tarry, STINKY, bog-like mud.

She was labouring hard without getting very far, so I ran back to the house to get my boots and help her out. I grabbed a stick that would connect Les and I, just for some leverage really, I wasn't going into the water, just some shallow mud. I reached down and grabbed her, and got her out without too much trouble or yelping. We then played duck and cover as she continually tried to shake it off. while she walked back up the house, she made this gurgling kind of bubbling popping sound. That'll give you an idea of how much muck was stuck to her....

Les had the smarts to suggest taking her across the road to the public boat launch to wash her off rather than using up our precious well water. It took some coaxing to get her into that water, she did not want to go back in there. But this area is relatively clear and gravelly, so once she was in, she realized that she was safe, and after scrubbing her down a bit she swam around in circles till we eventually coaxed her out again. I've now manages to rinse her with the hose, and tonight she'll begrudgingly sleep in my studio, so as not to stink up the house, or breath more life into that hideous upstairs carpet.

Too bad I didn't have the camera handy to show you her 'black and tan' look, but here's one of her looking pretty miserable after her 'bath'.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Fine Post For A Sign Post

Well here's an unassuming brick post. A fine, upstanding, hard working, straight arrow citizen in the world of gate posts. Was it always this way? Standing erect and at attention as costumers strolled past? Would it surprise to you to learn that this very post had been sagging in the recent past? Mired in a lazy slump, and leaning heavily with the weight of the world on it? In fact, this post that you see before you was all of these things and more. (shame!) It actually looked more like this:
Yes it's true. Asleep at the switch and dreaming of days gone past where it had stood tall and proud. Waiting for the day when it could be returned to it's former glory. Waiting to stand in line proudly with his brothers. Well that day finally arrived.

Actually it was more like a month. I started digging a while back with the intention of straightening the post, but one thing lead to another (Long list of things from the doctor that you are just better off not knowing. Not because it's icky, but just because it's as I said, long...) and I was delayed in finishing the task. We were subsequently forced to strategically place 'garden art' around it to stop unsuspecting customers from falling victim to the half dug hole.

Well, with our short camping trip coming up meaning it would have to lean another whole week, plus me being firmly on the road to 'not-as-bad-as-a-couple-of-weeks-ago', I hunkered down and got to it. I picked the most hot and humid day around, but hey, who's complaining?

Here is the reason the post started to lean in the first place. A near by tree had been putting the screws to it for years. I had to drag the axe out of it's summer vacation to deal with it. Just to the left of my boot you'll notice a notch where the the root had been pushing against the post. Yeesh. Some peoples' trees.
And here's a wheel barrel full of reasons why my elbows are still hurting today. The tree is actually not that close to the pillar, but it's roots had spread wide...

So there you have it. The classic tale of a fallen soul with the unlikely twist of a happy ending. Now that it's standing straight once more, we've got plans to erect a ranch like sign bridging the gap between the two posts to beckon people forth-with. Actually more like 'ice cream-with', but we'll take 'em like we can get 'em.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Snappy Comeback

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger. It's been over two weeks since my last post, so here you go, a nice big fat one with lots of action!

The most exciting thing around here lately has been the invasion of the snapping turtles. Apparently this happens every year here, they are coming up on the lawn to bury eggs hither and yon. They spend hours digging up the not so grassy areas of the lawn, trying to secure a safe hatching place for their spawn. This big mamma was the first, and I spent quite a bit of time filming her from the safety of the living room. Lesley and Leah carefully made their way up to it for a closer look. I love that the beast still had the mossy duckweedy green stuff all over it from the river (which is quite some distance away.) She stayed out digging holes till well after dark. We had a very nice rainbow that same evening. It came after the supposed thunderstorm that never was.

Leah and I had gone fishing earlier that afternoon as well. I take the kids out now and then and we take turns casting the line out trying not to hook ourselves in the process. Quinn especially has a wicked cast, and the hook often comes right back at you.

We don't expect to catch anything as I've been using a cheap little rubber fake worm thing that has got to be extremely unappealing even to a clammy old fish. I guess I should say that I don't expect to catch anything. The point of the exercise for me is to get out in the canoe and have a bit of down time. The kids of course, often don't see things the same way as me however, so doesn't Leah catch the biggest damn fish after only about 10 casts. Now you have to understand, I don't want to catch fish, I won't use worms partly because it's gross, but also because what the hell am I going to do if we catch something? I can count the amount of fish I've caught on about one finger, so I really don't have any experience in catching and more importantly releasing fish.

It turned out OK though, Leah had the fish reeled right up in no time, and I scooped it out, deftly removed the hook, and held it in the water a second or two before it jerked away and was off safely. I wish I had brought the camera along to show you how big it was, but with Leah's apparent luck, we'll be able to catch another similar one sometime soon.

So now back to the original story about the current amphibian landing, or as I like to call it, T-day.

This morning as I was preparing to bring up about 30 billion buckets of water from the river for the veggie garden I noticed the cat stalking the compost pile. I've pulled the cat out of the garden several times while he was trying to separate some small creatures head from it's body. Usually a mole or chipmunk, or maybe a small rabbit. I stopped to watch Baxter (the cat) sniff and paw at a small opening of the heap, and noticed what I assumed was a mole retreating back into the pile of dirt and grass. Then about a third of the pile shifted. The cat and I both jumped, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. This was either a very big mole, or else an entire family of them. I scooped up the cat and took him into the house, grabbed a pitchfork and started to uncover the mystery guest. Sure enough, a giant snapping turtle was in there.
I carefully excavated around her while the kids took turn snapping photos. (no pun intended)Then I slowly slipped the shovel underneath her. She was not happy.
I then quickly but carefully carried her out of the garden.And placed her safely on the other side of the fence.
A fence by the way, that was supposed to keep out rabbits, but can't seem to keep out this brute. I may need to re-evaluate my anti-pest methods.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. The snapper promptly headed for home after we all left her alone.
(not even so much as a thank you I might add) I did find quite a few spots in the garden where fresh earth had been turned over, so now we just need to wait a few weeks till all the babies are hatched and they take over the garden. *sigh* From what I've heard this turtle phase will only last a couple of weeks, then we won't see them again till next year. In the meantime the kids have been warned to stay away from the waters edge. Too bad the cat won't heed the same warning

One last photo which I thought was appropriate given the dinosaur like invaders of late. Here is a shot of what could be the sun setting on a primordial swamp. No wait, it's just my backyard.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Residents

Quinn and I made a birdhouse out of some left over barn board a little while back, and we put it with a birdhouse that Leah had painted a couple of years ago. I set them up more as a visual thing than to have actual birds in them, figuring that at some point I'd have to put them in a place where they could stay. The birds had other ideas...

Bert: "Hey Charlie come and have a look at this!"

Charlie: "Hey, this is nice Bert, I love the rustic appeal."
Bert: "Yeah, I've got dibs on the red one!"

Charlie: (all echoy) "Hey it's really spacious inside!"
Bert: "Mine's got a loft!"

Charlie: "Could have a bigger front door though, oh well. I could stand to lose a few grams anyway. Sold!"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ed Lawerence is My New Hero

We've been spending a lot of time outdoors these days, getting ready for a busy summer of gardening, gallery running, and (hopefully for us adults) playing. The swing set went up about a week ago. Thanks to Steve (Quinn's future father-in-law)who happened by for helping us get it together. Here Leah is running up so as not to miss the photo-op.
By the way, I love photos that show the photographer in the photo. Not professional by any means, and I try not to include myself, but I do get a kick out of them.
We are also getting the gardens ready. This is a new little garden outside the store. It's kind of a garbage garden, as it features a big iron (wheel?) thingie we found, and also a wheel rim that we dug up from beside the barn. I figure it's easier to add that stuff to the garden rather than trucking it off to the dump. I put a little iron pot on the rim to get a bit of height. Now we just need some plants to go in it...I rototillified the veggie garden. It's big. It took a lot of rototillerfying. Did I mention how big it was? Let me tell you, big. So far we've collected some rhubarb with which Rose made an excellent crumble for Mother's day dessert. Even Quinn said it was "Kind not bad/kinda good." Here's another view where you can see the big rhubarb patch. Hard to see, but off to the right is a row of new tomatoes. We also plan to grow carrots, potatoes, lots of lettuce, and a few other eatables.Hey you! Stop running through my dirt! (we'll get some veggies in there soon...)
PS: I'm in that one too...
Speaking of intruders in the garden, a very short time after I shut off the rototiller and made my way indoors dreaming of giant salads grown a few feet from my door, Quinn looks out the window and spots this!
I mean for the love of Pete, I haven't even got the seeds in the ground and this little bugger is rummaging around. Luckily he was on the other side of the house, nosing in the neighbors garden, but I suspect he'll wander over with his buddies soon enough. Which brings me to this photo: Someone broke the cat! After a hard day of terrorizing the neighborhood fauna, (Our little mouse/bird/frog graveyard is filling up fast) the cat takes a power nap on the couch. He looks about the same way I feel after all the yard work. By the way, there really is no way to rotate this photo to make it look normal.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Bye Bye Birdy

So I'm working at the computer today, and I keep hearing noises coming from the furnace room, right behind me. I know it's a mouse, and he's crawled up and through the not so small holes in the pest grate covering the funace exhaust outside, and now he's making a nice comfy nest for him and probably some little hotty to make a litter in. I get up and investigate, bang on the pipe and try to scare him out. Then I run outside and poke long bendy sticks up there. Nothing happens, so I go back to the computer. More noises. Bang on the pipe. Run outside. Poke with sticks. Nothing. Go back to work. You get the idea. The dog now thinks I'm nuts, and I can no longer concentrate on work. Time for a better look.

Upon close inspection, I realize the noise isn't even coming from that pipe, but from the tin plate covering the chimney hole where the old furnace used to vent. If you saw the little furnace room, you'd understand, as this tin plate is right behind the pipe, and you wouldn't know where a noise was coming from till you crawled up behind the initial pipe. Made more sense that it was coming from the tin plate, as it sounded like a lot of fluttery ruffly noises rather than some scuffling little mouse. Unless he and the missus were already getting it on...

So now I have to get a screw driver and pry off the plate to look inside the hole. Sure enough, as soon as I get it off and pull it back a little, I see the back of a bird in there. Crap. Now what. I get a pair of big gloves, and a small fishing net, and wiggle up in behind the pipe. I take off the plate, and put the net over the hole, and try to reach in and grab the starling without killing it, or giving it a heart attack. After a few fluttery misses he decides he's going to play dead. He squashes himself right down tight against... wait for it, all the other dead birds at the bottom of the hole. That explains the smell coming from there when I took the plate off. Now I have to dig my fingers down between him and his dead comrades and coax him out. Eventually after my making noises somewhere between a stuck pig and a giddy school girl I managed to force him out, and carry him half in the net half in my glove to the open door. (I had the presence of mind to leave the screen door open so I wouldn't have to struggle with it) I shuffle him outside flip him out of the net and let him fly off, while I jellyfish on the front lawn. That was the easy part. Now I have to go back, reach in there, and pull out dead birds that have been in there for who knows how long. That is, and was very gross. Now I'm really squealing. The dog is cowering in the corner wondering what it could possibly have done to deserve such a noise. (It's not always about you, you know.) After bagging a couple of dead ones, I decide to call it quits, stuff the cover back on, and go outside for air.

After some time working in the fresh air, the kids come home. Then Les comes home, and we have to go pick up her bike, which has two new tires on it. That's all fine. When we get back, she decides to go out a little longer, and I go in to start dinner. The kids amuse themselves by taking turns crawling in a big blue rainbarrel and rolling each other down the hill. (I stopped myself from yelling out at them, they're going to have to learn for themselves sometime.) I went downstairs for something and low and behold, there it was, fluttering noises from the furnace room. Sure enough, some other stupid starling has found his way down the chimney, and can't get out. It's a foolproof starling trap.

I'm still grossed out from the last event, and I just can't get that smell out of my nose. Eventually Les comes home, and takes over dinner so that I can wire up the chimney opening before more fall in. Fly in. Whatever the stupid things are doing. Then I go back to the furnace room, pry off the plate, and try to get this bird out. This time, I have an audience, so there is noticebly less squalking on my end. The kids are around the corner, anticipating seeing a real live bird up close. Les is reaching in and holding the net in place so I can reach in and use two hands to handle the bird. He's leaning down tight against, Ugh, another dead bird. Guess I didn't quite clean it completely. Whap! The F#%&Er flies up into the net and whacks me in the face. I stuff a hand in there and hold him. Whew. Glad that's over. Whoosh-he's out now, flying across our downstairs. Now the kids are yelling, the bird is flapping and flying into every window in sight. The cat is there, trying to help I guess. The dog doesn't know wether to join in or run for cover. The bird is up, hits a window, down behind the little fridge, up again, across the room, into another window, and so it goes. Eventually, (with us all running behind it with our arms out like some bad cartoon) it runs into enough windows that it's stunned, and I can pick it up rather gently, and race the thing out the door with the kids in tow.
Quinn asks to pet it, but, seeing how it's just been nuzzling up to an un-countable number of dead buddies, (uncountable because I just don't want to look that hard) I say "no." And here he is a split second before take off. We only had one chance to get that timing right.I still can't get that smell out of my nose. Wait, I just took my hat off. Hmm. Maybe time to launder that particular item...

A Weekend Visit to the Galloping Goat!

Well we're open! The roller coaster season now begins! Here's Leah and Quinn putting the 'open' sign on for the very first time.
Ta-da!! Let's take a little virtual tour of the gallery. Here's what it looks like when you step up to the doors. This is the first display inside the doors.
Most people wander to the left when they enter, despite what we've heard from statistics. This is good though, it works better for us. Now take a moment and look back towards the entrance.
Here's Lesley's little section in the corner.
Turn the corner to find more goodies.
When you're finished browsing bring your purchases to the lovely clerk at the sales counter.
As you step out the doors, turn around and wave goodbye to the clerk. Come again! We've got lots to see outside as well, and I realize now that I don't have a wider picture of the outside of the barn, so I'll try to get some of those picture up so you can see the whole picture.
Thanks for visiting the Galloping Goat and come again!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Gallery Setup

Well with one week to go we spent last weekend setting up the gallery. Les is very excited.
Lesley's brother Chris came down to help us out. Here he is hanging wind chimes.
Greg Woods helps out with the construction of a sales counter while Angie Pajek keeps (or rather gets) the kids from (in) trouble.
Les tweaks stuff as Morghan looks for a good spot for some artwork.
Tim (that's me) takes a break with the dawg.
Here's a view of one corner of the showroom.

A look into another corner reveals some styrofoam. There is still a fair amount of polishing to do, including hanging curtains to hide some storage.
Here's a good view from the big barn doors.
A slightly different angle.
Lots of cool stuff hangs from the open doors to invite you in.
Even the local toads are excited. Hey you two, get a room already!