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Category Archives: country life

A Season of Waiting


A February sunrise at our place.

It isn’t quite spring, but perhaps the coldest weather is over.  Still, it’s too early to plant herbs or tomatoes or peppers or squashes.  It’s too early to plant berry bushes or fruit trees.  The seed catalogs have come in the mail, and they tempt me with their colors and their promises of fresh, juicy flavors.  The trees are still bare and the grass is still brown, but the birds have started chirping more, knowing that the days are getting longer, and there is just a little time before spring breaks out.

The busiest season of ice carving is coming to an end.  After two months of extensive travel, late nights of barely sleeping, and carving so much his hands swell, Husband sees the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s nice to have the income.  But it will be nice for him to be able to relax, as well.  And after some rest, the work on the house will resume – the milling, the shaping, the fitting together of beams.  But this week, there will be the catching up on sleep, the organization of paperwork that was neglected during the crazy months, and the preparation for a different kind of work.

One of the busiest seasons of teaching is ahead.  We’ll do state testing this week, and then we’ll have just one more week until spring break.  Then March, April, and May will be filled with students’ research projects, field trips, another round of testing, choosing materials for next year, and all the other craziness that accompanies the end of school. I try to work ahead and get things ready, knowing that no matter what I do, I’m never truly prepared when the cyclone hits.  For now, for just a little longer, I enjoy the calm before the storm.

For now, we wait.


A To-do List


Split and stack the firewood

Make sure there’s enough kindling

Put the bicycle away, out of the weather

Pull out the warmer bedding

.           the heavy blankets

.            the down comforter

.           maybe even the flannel sheets

Drape afghans on the backs of chairs,

.           ready for evenings of reading, cuddled up

Stock up on cozy teas and hot chocolate

Assess the condition of the insulated boots

.          the long underwear

.          the hats, gloves, and snow pants

Shut the big window on the chicken coop

.          but make sure they have enough light

Give the rabbits more straw, to help them stay warmer

Put some soup on to simmer

And enjoy the winter

The Summer of the Mouse

This cat is the nicest, cuddliest, sweetest cat ever.


But this summer, she’s been slacking off.

This summer, we have caught fourteen mice in our trap under the kitchen sink. Fourteen! What happened to our fierce hunter? Is this the same cat, who, just six months after we got her, joyfully deposited a dead mouse at my feet on Christmas morning? Is this the same cat who spent the following six months killing mice out in the field and bringing them to the back porch to win approval?

Perhaps we should cut back on her allotment of kibble. Maybe she’s gotten spoiled by evenings on my lap, head rubs, and belly scratches.

After all, just the other day when I was singing her a song, she actually put her paw on my mouth with a look that said, “Hush. Just be a pretty face.”

Perhaps she is spoiled rotten.

But just when I think she has turned from mighty hunter to worthless lap-cat, she kills another mouse, as if to prove to me that she’s worth it.

And the purring and cuddles are pretty nice, too.


Bernadette Smart is the main character in the middle grade novel I’m writing. She has a vivid imagination that takes her on all sorts of adventures! Bernadette also has a cat. His name is Mr. Wiggles. Next month, I’ll share a story about Bernadette and Mr. Wiggles.


The best day for it

If I had to get locked out of the house in February, this was the right day for it to happen. The sunshine makes the unseasonably warm 58 degrees feel just perfect. The birds are chirping happily, and just beyond the pasture where seven horses graze, the corn stubble simmers in the afternoon light. A perfectly blue sky is a canopy above me.

I admit, I am awfully hungry, and my back aches a bit from sitting in this wooden lawn swing for the last two hours. But all things considered, being locked out of the house hasn’t been nearly as bad as it could have been.

Still, we should have another key made so we can hide it outside.


Just a little patience…


No one has ever accused me of being too patient.

Never in my life has anyone said, “You know, Karen, I think you might be the most patient person in the world.”

So the fact that, after two and half years of living in a double-wide trailer, there is still no visible evidence that we’re building a house.

Meanwhile, more shingles blow off the roof with every wind storm and I swear the floors are getting more uneven every month.

Still, there are definite benefits of taking it slowly.  We’ve been thinking a lot more about making the house off-grid, or at least using as much alternative energy as possible.  Solar, wind, wood, and propane would be our main sources of energy.  But that means researching types of solar panels (did you know there were different types?), different types of wind turbines, and even wood cookstoves.  We also need to think about what electricity-hogging appliances we’re willing to do without.  I have already learned that it would be a lot easier for me to give up the dishwasher than the microwave.  (Without a microwave, I’d have to plan ahead a lot better for thawing meat for dinner or for reheating leftovers for lunch.)  I’m totally cool with hanging our laundry on the line when it’s warm and sunny, but what about months like January and February?  Or those weeks when the perfect line-drying weather comes on Tuesday or Thursday when I’m working, and on the weekends the deluge comes?

It’s a different mindset for sure, but one we’re entertaining.

In the meantime, I just have to be a little more patient.  And hope the shingles stay on the roof.


Cause and Effect

Last Wednesday afternoon, one of our roosters attacked me.

Last Wednesday evening, we ate him for dinner.


Attacked! (?)

It isn’t uncommon for  me to see wildlife when I’m out on a run.  Ducks, hawks, killdeer, and of course squirrels and deer often cross my path or come near to my route.  So yesterday as I ran, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear a rustling in the leaves behind me.  Deer, I surmised.  But how would I have startled the deer when I was already past them?  I turned to look. Three animals stared me in the face, and rather than fleeing from me, they hurtled toward me!


I froze.  What does it mean when goats run toward you?  Was I being attacked?

I could just see the headline: “Runner Attacked by Goats Remains in Critical Condition.”

But when they reached me, they stopped.  Where had they come from?  A property three houses south of us has goats, but I was four or five houses north of our home.  It would be strange for them to come so far.  Unsure of what to do, I turned to go, but they followed me.  What now?  Were they friendly?

I scratched one on the head, then another.  Finally, I decided to walk to the closest house to ask where the goats belonged.  But as soon as I turned toward the home, my new little friends galloped back up the lane and behind the house.

Perhaps the goats were hoping for treats.  Maybe they were bringing me their Christmas greetings.  Perchance they just needed a little love.  Whatever the reason, I was surprised and delighted to meet three new four-legged friends.