I sort of accidentally overwrote my Scent Diary for Feb. 9-15. Whoops. Nothing much happened anyway – the kids were out of school due to frigid temperatures (there are places in the county where students have to wait for a very early bus that they have to walk half a mile or more to reach). We did a TON of laundry, and basically got back into the swing of things after our San Antonio trip.
Monday, Feb. 16 – Cold. Snowing. Yay!! This is the first time all winter we’ve had serious snow. SOTD is Soivohle Centennial, for warmth, because it’s blusterous and in the single digits temperature-wise. The CEO has canceled his morning classes.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 – It was fairly warm today, in the low 30s, and the boys went out to play in the snow. It’s too powdery to be good sledding snow, but they were having some success building a snow fort with our neighbor, seven-year-old Zach.
One more of Gaze’s ewes lambed, but the lamb had a fairly serious birth defect and was either stillborn or died shortly after its umbilical cord was torn. It was sad. SOTD was Parfum Sacre, wonderful cozy rose-incense-vanilla.
Wednesday, Feb. 18 – Back to cold temperatures, and school is still out, but The CEO went off to Va Tech today. I worked on some sewing and laundry. SOTD was vintage Emeraude parfum de toilette, mmmmm. Took the boys in for their dental cleanings; took Gaze to get a haircut.
Thursday, Feb. 19 – Chilly weather. The dog is HAVING A TOTAL BLAST in the snow, by the way. He loves it. Took Gaze for his orthodontist checkup, and did some grocery shopping. Worked on farm books stuff. SOTD was Memoir Woman, because I love it so.
Friday, Feb. 20 – Really COLD again today. It was 3F when I got up at 7:15. Brr. SOTM: testing Uzac Satin Doll and Caron Pour Une Femme, both modern chypre things a little too light for this weather. SOTA: Escada Margaretha Ley, yummy ylang/white floral/coconut tropical thing that packs some serrrrrrious sillage. This is a good thing when it’s 6F by 1 pm. Go big or go ho-
Oh. Wait. I AM home. Never mind. I’m going big anyway.
Saturday, Feb. 21 – Started out by testing Bogue Maai, which has been described as a chypre Amazon on a panther. Did I get that? Um, nope. We were supposed to get snow, turning to sleet, later on today but it started early. Ugh. Fire in the fireplace, cleaning up the house.
Taz left the C volume of the encyclopedia out on the dining table, and I was about to fuss at him for it when it occurred to me: hey. My kid still reads the encyclopedia. I can’t really complain too much about it. (Yes, he knows how to Google. But there’s no computer in the kitchen/DR area. Or in the kids’ bedrooms, either.)
New lamb today! This one’s another boy, and he seems to be doing just fine. So now we have Precious, Sweetie, and George, and they are JUST SO CUTE. We might keep Precious, so far the only ewe lamb, but I expect the other two will go on off to market. I’m deliberately not thinking about it. SOTE was Shalimar Light.
Watched “Patton” with The CEO and the boys this evening, and crocheted some on Bookworm’s afghan. I’d never seen it, and I don’t think it was meant to be a funny film, but I spent about half the time cracking up at something Patton just said. The man was an egotistical nutcase/genius, and the utter temerity of his unfiltered comments were just… well, I kept thinking to myself, No way did he really just say that! IMDB, however, reports that a lot of Patton’s dialogue was watered down from his real-life commentary. HOO boy.
Sunday, Feb. 22 – Nasty weather this morning. No church today due to icy conditions. It’s much warmer today than yesterday (from about 8F to 53F) and the driveway was clear by afternoon, but this morning we weren’t going anywhere. Ugh. SOTD was Chypre d’Amboise (a cheapie eBay find), followed by Soivohle Centennial. Made two more mobcaps for the community chorus Broadway concert this spring; our director wants most of the chorus dressed as extras from Les Miserables. Taz shoveled the driveway for us and did such a good job.
After church small group/youth group this evening, we went to the Chinese buffet place for dinner. I really don’t recommend being the last diners at a buffet – the selection is bad and the food condition not stellar (dried out/greasy). The hostess did tell me that if we wanted anything specifically, to just ask her and they’d make it, but at that stage we just wanted to eat what was there and not wait on anything else. The tea was good, though.
So the kids found a cave in one of the pasture fields on the farm. This was back in the spring, actually, when a school friend of Bookworm’s and Gaze’s came over to shoot Airsoft rifles with Gaze. They found something that looked sort of more than our usual “hole in the ground,” which we have plenty of because this area is highly karstic and prone to sinkholes and small caves. There was no time then to explore the cave.
Grey came back on Sunday afternoon with his caving equipment and good flashlights and ropes and whatnot, and he and Bookworm went slithering into the cave to see how far it went. They could see from the opening that it would probably be big enough for one person to enter and get out, and possibly for two people, so they took the appropriate precautions when entering an unexplored cave and went in.
There is a big rock in the center of the opening, and it’s necessary to scramble to one side or the other in order to pass it, but once inside the main room, the space opens up. It’s tall enough for most people to stand up in, and is about the size of our kitchen (10 x 10, approximately).
There’s a secondary room to the left, and from it you can see an opening to the surface where light comes in, as well as two small tunnels too narrow to explore. To the right of the main room (entrance at your back) is a tunnel with several tiny side passages.
There are stalactites and stalagmites forming in the cave, showing the presence of water and minerals. This fascinates me.
The kids spent all afternoon in the cave. Don’t think I’m going in it! But it’s cool to know it’s there.
Scent Diary, Summarized, May 7 through June 3, 2014
I have not been keeping a good diary recently. It has been pretty busy here, with attending end-of-school activities and planning for some summer ones, so I’ve only got some “here’s what’s going on around the place these days” notes. HOME:
As for the house and yard, they look pretty good. We’ve been getting some good rain interspersed with sunny days, so the grass is thick and green and the trees are beautifully full of leaves. The fruit trees are leafed out well, and there are even baby apples on one of the trees – I think it’s the Gala. I got the annuals (pink zinnias and those tall Mexican orange marigolds) planted in the front bed, and the hanging baskets (pink and red geraniums and hot pink vinca) up on the porch, too.
The peony bush we planted near sweet Hayley-dog’s grave seems to be thriving. We all miss our doggie. It’s the little things, you know? Like I’ll be getting home in the evening and thinking, “Look at the time, it’s Food the Dog O’Clock – oh, wait. No, it’s not. Sigh.” Or we miss the thumping tail on the landing in the morning, or we don’t hear barking when someone pulls up in the driveway… We miss the canine affection, too.
We do want another dog, but not yet. Probably by the end of the summer we’ll start looking; I’ve already been looking online at the animal shelters to see what’s available right now. There are a few dogs close by but nothing that automatically jumps out to me to say, “I’m your new dog!” We have set some criteria: House-trained (that one’s non-negotiable). Not a puppy, and not a senior dog (I don’t think we could stand to lose another one within a couple of years). Medium size, between 25 and 45 pounds – Hayley was on the upper end of that range. Not a yapper. MAN, I hate a yappy dog. Barking is one thing, but a high-pitched constant yap? NO. Absolutely not. We’re flexible on breed; we’d probably rather not have a purebred dog, but we wouldn’t turn a shelter or rescue dog down if we had a connection to one that happened to be a purebred.
We decided last year when Silvia died that we would not get another cat; Taz is allergic to them. While we wouldn’t get rid of a cat (particularly an elderly one) for that reason, it’s enough of one that we felt we wouldn’t add a cat back to the household.
We do need to pull out that dogwood tree in the front yard that struggled for a few years and then finally gave up the ghost last summer. It’s the middle one in a row of five, so I think it would look odd to put in something else there, but that means getting as much of the old root system out as we can since the dogwoods are at least eight years old. I also lost one of my Knockout roses over the winter. One of them was pretty stressed by Japanese beetle attack, and didn’t survive the cold. The other one? Looks great. Go figure. I did buy another Knockout – the standard color one, instead of the pink it will replace, but I think they’ll look nice together.
It ended yesterday. Graduation for the high school was actually last Friday, because that date was set early. However, due to some late bad weather, the superintendent was forced to add a couple of days of school for everyone not graduating. I notice that the high school parking lot was pretty empty Monday and Tuesday, though, so I bet a lot of kids just skipped those last few days.
Gaze had a good year both academically and with regard to extracurriculars. He was selected as trombone section leader for next season’s marching band, and was also voted “Outstanding Trombone Player” and “Outstanding Rookie” by his peers. I was very proud. He’s only a rising sophomore, but the band had a run of several years with no trombone section marching – I think because Mr. Butler, our previous director, didn’t want to have only a few trombone players. He opted to have those few switch to baritone horn, which has a similar range, instead. There was no trombone section all the years Bookworm was in band. But now there is – and that means that Gaze is one of the oldest players in that section. I think he’ll do fine as he’s very responsible. In any case, his FFA team was successful, his academic challenge team (social studies) was the champion, and he was a member of successful cross-country and track teams as well. Also, this year he’s grown several inches.
I must say, it’s awfully nice to look at the mantel shelf and see Gaze’s Outstanding Rookie trophy right next to Bookworm’s. We never expected that, and there for awhile Gaze was pretty insistent that he wasn’t going to march, that was Bookworm’s thing, he didn’t want to put that much work into it… Well. He thinks he made the right choice now.
Taz struggled to some degree academically this year. Partly that was due to his lack of interest in organization, and partly that might have been due to his having to face some challenges that neither his brother or sister faced. It’s a good thing that his school now offers Algebra I for those 7th graders who might benefit (that was not available for Bookworm in middle school) and an online language course (not available for either Bookworm or Gaze), but it’s the first time he’s ever had to really put some effort into school, and, well, in a lot of cases he just didn’t. He pulled several B’s this year. However, he ran track, and came in second to a very accomplished player in the school’s chess club tournament. He’s grown too – Bookworm might have half an inch, or maybe even less, on him now. The CEO and I were (pleasantly) surprised to find, at Taz’ 7th grade award ceremony, that he’d been voted “Most Attentive Boy” by his peers. All I can say is, they sure don’t live here. Good to know that he pays attention in class, though!
Bookworm herself had a good year as well. She would tell you that she wasn’t happy with her grades, but The CEO and I were fine with them. I think her current GPA is approximately 3.65, somewhere around there. She seems to have decided that she will be majoring in chemistry, and I think she’s on the right track. When your college freshman kid complains about Spanish and Calculus, but says that Chemistry is “easy” and “fun” – and comes home talking excitedly about all the “cool things” they did in class and lab? Well, that’s a good indicator that she may have found her niche. She got plugged in with Yale Students for Christ, which is the campus branch of Cru (which used to be known as Campus Crusade) and a church she likes in New Haven. She loved playing with Yale Precision Marching Band for football, basketball and hockey, and she had a total blast with her buddies on the ultimate Frisbee team.
Bookworm, we just heard yesterday, will be doing a summer internship in Louisiana, for a paper mill there. She’ll be assisting one (maybe more) of the chemical engineers at the plant in conducting efficiency testing on some of the equipment used, and hopefully will be able to either assist in a research paper or present her own. I’m a little bit nervous about her being 14 hours away for eight weeks, but I think it’s a terrific opportunity. She’s really excited about the possibilities. She leaves on Sunday.
It’s hay season. Ergo, it’s busy. Not just with racing the weather, either – The CEO has spent a lot of time fixing tractors that got through the winter fine. Haymaking seems to put more demand on them, and since almost all of our tractors are approximately my age, they need a lot of maintenance. Bookworm and Gaze have been helping Jeff work some cattle (treating them with dewormer, giving them their shots and ear tags and the like).
The cows look good. There’s lots of grass.
Gaze will be attending Camp Cougar this summer, which is an intensive four-week physical education course that can take the place of PE during the school year. Drivers’ Education class time is included, as well as a ropes course at the nearby Boy Scout camp, white-water rafting, caving, and some other fun activities. However, if you miss any part of any day – you can’t receive academic credit for the course, so he’ll be BUSY.
Then, of course, there will be summer band practices which he will need to attend. And pre-camp (for section leaders and rookie marchers). And band camp itself. ACK.
The CEO has to go to Denver for another National Cattlemen’s Association meeting, so this summer we will be joining him there in Montana to do a little exploring at Yellowstone and Glacier. That ought to be fun. We made plans before we knew about Bookworm’s internship, but we might be able to change her flight ticket and allow her to join us for at least part of the trip, assuming that she could get a few days off around July 4th.
I’ll be keeping Taz as busy as possible.
I have been wearing my spring scents and testing some new things, but just yesterday I got out some of my summer-only fragrances. Things that went INTO the bedside cabinet: DelRae Amoureuse, Chanel No. 19 EdP, Jacomo Silences PdT, Deneuve, Guerlain Chamade, Penhaligon’s Violetta, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, DSH White Lilac, L’Arte di Gucci EdP, vintage Jolie Madame parfum, Amouage Memoir Woman, Ralph Lauren Safari, and my vintage Emeraude PdT.I’ve been rather addicted to Safari recently, by the way – it is a warm green as opposed to a cool green like No. 19 or Silences.
Things that came OUT of the cabinet and into the hatbox on the dresser: Ines de la Fressange (the first one), Hermes Kelly Caleche EdP, YSL Paris Pont des Amours, Donna Karan Gold EdP, Hanae Mori Haute Couture, Cristina Bertrand #3, Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl, Moschino Funny!, Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, and DSH La Fete Nouvelle. The current rotation also includes Le Temps d’une Fete, Ferre 20, and Mary Greenwell Plum, as well as my vintage Chanel No. 19 EdT,because those only go into the cabinet in the winter. I’ve also got decants of DelRae Wit,Chanel 1932, and Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipo for summer use.
I have a whole set of 7 Oriza L. LeGrand fragrances still to review as well.
And, oh yeah, I still hate purple.
What’s in your seasonal rotation, if you have one? I know you blokes and sheilas Down Under are heading into winter…
The CEO, Bookworm, and I headed out in the Gator so we could get up some cows on Sunday afternoon, about 4:30. It was hot, but not ridiculously hot – 85F, with a little breeze – and the Gator is open, so when you’re going 15mph it feels like you’re speeding, and the wind blows your hair back, even if you are wearing a Virginia Beef hat borrowed from your husband. We went to the barn lot, down the gravel road lined on both sides with fences hung with honeysuckle vines (smelling heavenly on the hot wind!), and in through the Seven-Acre Field, calling the cows and bull that were in that field out of it. The grass was tall and headed out in that field, so that grass seeds kept flying at us, stinging my arms, as the Gator went through it.
What The CEO needed was a particular portion of the herd to move from one field through another to the small field he uses as a staging area for the barn lot. The barn lot is largely dirt, through years of use, and it holds a disused barn and the working pens and headchute. Generally the cows don’t want to go in there, because it’s not full of grass, and of course it probably smells like cow distress. In the same way that it’s difficult to entice the cat to get into the cat carrier when the only place she ever goes in it is to the vet’s office, where someone will poke her and prod her and mess with her teeth and give her shots, it’s hard to coax cows to go through a gate into a dirt field where they’ve been poked and prodded and given shots. They’re not that dumb.
The cows started the afternoon in a small field that’s referred to as “Weston’s,” so called because The CEO’s father’s first cousin Weston used to live in the house that adjoins it. Weston is a Presbyterian minister, he’s 78 years old, and he hasn’t lived in that house for probably 50 years, but it’s Weston’s Field by long habit.
When we got to Weston’s Field, The CEO started calling the cows to see if he could just call them into the next field without chasing anything. “Whooo, cows, come on. Whooo, cows, come on.” He dropped me off in what’s called the Back Side with a sorting stick (a three-foot length of black plastic pipe) near the gate and told me, “Stand here and don’t let ’em go down the hill. Make ’em go that way,” pointing toward the wooded area at the top of the hill. He and Bookworm went into Weston’s Field in the Gator, making sure that no animal had been left behind, as cows began coming into the Back Side.
Sometimes they’ll come willingly into a new field, because they’ve come to associate the “whooo, cows” call with fresh grass. I like to imagine that they’re thinking, “Hey, they just opened up a new section of the buffet! Come on, girls, let’s go!” In this case, they came happily into the new field and immediately started munching. If you’ve never been close to a group of 60 large animals, all munching at the same time, it’s interesting. It’s loud.
Cows are interesting, anyway: for one thing, they’re big. Most of ours are of mixed breed, what’s called a “commercial herd.” In our area of the country, that generally means a mixture of Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Charolais, and/or Gelbvieh genetics, and we’ve got elements of all those breeds in our herd. Most of our cows are black because the coat color, from Angus genetics, is dominant. However, because Simmentals and Gelbvieh are multicolored, Herefords are red with white faces, and Charolais are white, the dominant black coat doesn’t always win. We’ve got red cows, brown cows, dull yellow cows, white cows, even grayish and orange cows, making up about 25% of the whole herd, as you might expect if you remember your Mendelian genetics from high school: the incidence of dominant phenotype is about 75%, with recessive phenotypes presenting about 25% of the time. The white face of the Hereford breed comes out fairly often, with white patches on the faces of black cows. (My father-in-law had about five color designations for cows: black, brown, red, white, and yaller. Yaller could refer to anything from yellow to beige through gray to that odd orange color.)
We also happen to own about 15 Beefmaster cows, purchased secondhand from an enormous ranch facility in the western states that went bankrupt. Beefmaster is an acknowledged breed on its own, consisting of 50% Brahman, 25% Hereford, and 25% Shorthorn and especially well-adapted to the dry, hot conditions in the western US. They’re good big cows that usually have big healthy calves, and they’re good mamas – but they’re flighty and sometimes aggressive. They have independent streaks, which is somewhat contrary to the herd instinct that tends to be pretty strong in domesticated cattle. Cattle are like deer and antelope and wildebeest and all those herd animals that you’ve probably seen documentaries about on Wild Kingdom: wolves or dingoes or cheetahs cutting an animal out of the herd and hounding it until it’s alone and exhausted. Cows are no dummies when it comes to safety, and they like to stay together… unless they’re Beefmasters.
But back to what I was saying: cows are big. A full-grown commercial cow will generally weigh about 1100 to 1400 pounds. They have big liquid eyes and ridiculously long eyelashes and you can see the muscles move in their flanks as they walk, and if a cow managed to bump into you, you’d probably fall down. Our cows tend toward calmness, except for the Beefmasters, and unless they have newborn calves to protect, are not prone to aggressive behavior. (Of course there’s always a couple of wild, nervous ones, but by and large they tend to be pretty calm.) They have big teeth and big jaws, and the munching sounds are loud when they eat, whether it’s grass, hay, or silage.
Bulls weigh in at anywhere from 1800 to 2200 pounds, depending on breed, age and condition, and they can be five to six feet tall at the shoulder, making some of them as tall at the head as NBA players. Most of our bulls – we have six on the farm, and two more bull calves that won’t start earning their keep for another year or so – are purebred Angus, and although they’re more aggressive than cows, they are relatively gentle. We don’t have any of those “Beware of the bull” signs posted; they tend to ignore humans unless they think they’re getting access to fresh pasture or hot babes. (True bull factoid that inordinately irritates me, because of the correlation to human male sexuality: Bulls like cows. They really, really like cows – all cows, regardless of the color of their coats or the size of their udders. But they love heifers. We’ve had relatively calm-natured bulls plow right through barbed wire fences to get to a field full of young cows.)
So these cows came into the Back Side and immediately started to munch. They kept grabbing mouthfuls as Bookworm and I walked behind them, calling things like, “Cows, move!” and “Let’s go, ladies!” Then a few of them took off into the pond, and it was a pain to get them out of the water and moving forward again. Then the vanguard got spooked and headed down the hill, away from the gate into the Seven-Acre field, and we had to let them run awhile and get calmed down before getting behind them again and driving them up the hill toward the gate.
Here’s another thing about cows: they may look really slow and stupid, but they can run fast. We’re not talking racehorse fast here, but definitely faster-than-humans fast. Bookworm can almost keep up with them, but then she’s in great shape. A good sprinter, which she’s not, might be able to outmatch a cow over a short distance.
Eventually we did get the cows into the Seven-Acre field, and The CEO said to us, “I’ve got to go open the gate into the barn lot. I’ll be back.” So Bookworm and I stood on top of the field and swatted at bugs and panted (me more than her), while The CEO wrestled with the gate. We couldn’t quite see what was wrong with it; all we could see was that it wasn’t moving and he was doing something to it. The cattle went through their regular roll call, cows bawling out for their calves and calves bawling, “Mom! Hey, Mom!” and then, once they realized all were present and accounted for and nobody was chasing them, they settled down to munch grass, standing in the small area of shade under a black walnut tree.
The afternoon had slid into early evening, and the sky had gone a softer blue. A breeze stirred the hair about our foreheads, bringing with it the weedy, astringent odor of trampled herbage and a faint whiff of honeysuckle from the fencerow. Bookworm whirred her sorting stick in the air, for something to do, and from the Whittaker Woods field, we could hear a woodpecker absurdly loud in its pursuit of bugs. Birds sang. The breeze blew about us again, this time bearing the animal smell of cattle with the hot-bread smell of grass seeds drying.
Cows munched. We swatted at bugs. Wind blew, birds sang, the woodpecker thocked at his tree again. It was peaceful.
And then The CEO opened the gate and came back up the hill toward us in the Gator, and it was off to the races again, driving cows along the fence to the corner and then down the hill toward the gate. I’ve done this before when the cattle get to the corner and run down the hill and up the other side, and then they get to the gate corner and sheer off, going the other way. The Seven-Acre field is relatively small, but if you find yourself chasing a couple dozen tons of animal around it, it’s plenty big. However, this time it worked as it was supposed to work, and the cows went through the gate into the barn lot.
So after much congratulatory chatter, we got into the Gator and headed home, down by the Old Homeplace, by the spring, down the gravel lane I am now calling Allée des Chévrefeuilles, and turned the corner for home. The sky had gone periwinkle blue, and my clothes were wet with sweat, and the air-conditioned house felt like a little piece of heaven. We ate dinner very late, after our showers, and stumbled to bed early.
The next day there would be another bunch of cattle to move.
The 4040 is dead. It caught on fire yesterday afternoon – probably due to something electrical – and although we were able to put the fire out, the tractor is sitting a blackened, immobile hulk out in the middle of a field. (Many thanks to the New River Valley Regional Airport, and the Dublin and Newbern Volunteer Fire Departments. You guys are the best.)
The tractor will probably continue to sit there, useless, for some time. The ground is very wet because of all the rain and snow we’ve had, and there’s no way to tow it at this point without creating a mud quagmire. (Ever see My Cousin Vinny? That kind of mud.)
The CEO is understandably bummed. The thing’s insured, but not for anything near its replacement cost. Also, that tractor is one that’s typically used every day to feed hay to cows in the winter; one of the other tractors will have to be modified with a hay carrier. This means: a lot of extra work, a lot of cash out of pocket, and a lot of worry.
The good news is that no one was hurt. Which brings me to the Other Important Stuff: please, if you haven’t already done so, consider donating to organizations offering relief to Haiti. We only lost a piece of equipment, not our home or our hospital, church, school, police department, food, clean water, neighbors, or family members.
Here are a few reputable organizations who’ve been doing good work in Haiti for decades, if not longer, and who could use a little help right now:
UNICEF, the American Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders you’ve probably heard of as well. All are well-regarded for their everyday charitable work and for fiscally responsible behavior. I have personally donated at one time or another over the years to all of these organizations and am satisfied that none of them are scams.
Image is 1982 John Deere 4040 tractor at fastline.com. It’s not our tractor – ours is a lot older, and a lot dirtier. I just couldn’t get out to the field to take a picture of ours. Plus, it would probably depress me.