Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

© 2006-2019 All rights reserved

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kitty Christmas Eve

Twas the night before Christmas in rural Virginia . . .

. . . and the kitties were nestled all snug in their beds. . . .

Camilla, that rug's not your bed!

Jim-Bob, what are you doing in there too?
You cats had better get to bed!

Jim-Bob: "Should I sleep in my basket?"

"Or should I nestle in this bed?"

Chloe: "Mommie and I haven't taken our baths yet."

"There's a spot right over here. . . ."

Santa Claus is on his way. Anybody seen Santa Claus?

Jim-Bob: "I haven't seen Santa Claws. But I found his hat."

Chloe: "Do I look like Santa Claws?"

Sorry, Chloe. Santa Claus looks like this:

But let's make sure our tree is ready . . . 

. . . because it isn't Christmas until the little horse sings:

Merry Christmas to y'all! 

May y'all have a good night!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

Tonight is the darkest evening of the year. Or at least the longest night. The winter solstice arrives a half hour after midnight. For the past few days we've had ominous clouds. Take a look at these from  Monday evening: 

Is the big cloud swallowing a smaller one?

Is this cloud really a giant hand?

These clouds are moving from north to east.

To the west, the clouds open in a circle.

These clouds over Chestnut Mountain just look creepy.

This morning was drismal. The cats went out but didn't go far. Most came back in at midday to escape the rain and wind. Only Jim-Bob, who apparently had lots of cat-work to do, stayed out until late afternoon.

Olivia, Eddie-Puss, & Dylan sat on the deck for a while.

Eddie-Puss and Chloe.

The tiny white dot at the right is Jim-Bob. That space is his office.
His sister and mother are on the deck.

The pin oak holds a few leaves yet.

Chloe visits Jim-Bob in his office.

Shavings clinging to Melody's hair show that she slept in last night.
Superstitions and traditions cling to the winter solstice. For instance, the winter solstice is a time that ghosts might be active.

This morning, I took several pictures of Melody grazing. Only one looked odd. Did a giant snowflake fall and I didn't notice it at the time? Or what?

Your guess is as good as mine. But it's the winter solstice, so strange things can occur.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Season's Greetings

But what season is it? Could it be  . . . 


What's going on with Mother Nature? Except for a few days, this December has been very warm. One week from Christmas and things are in bloom. Take a look:

The rosemary by the gazebo is in bloom.

This chrysanthemum is still in bloom.

This little white thing is blooming, too.

Ditto for this dianthus.

The lilac has sprouted new leaves.
Will it bloom soon?

The forsythia near the road has a few blossoms.

The vinca is blooming by the wall . . . 

. . . and in other places in the backyard.

Daisies are blooming in the pasture . . .

. . . and the pasture is as green. . .

. . . as the pine trees.

The sky is as blue as a bright spring day.
Despite the springlike weather, some plants hint that Christmas is coming.

The holly is loaded with berries.

Ditto for the nandina.

Many trees sport bare branches.

SEASON'S GREETINGS to you, whatever this season might be!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Ornaments

Today I received some neat homemade Christmas ornaments from a member of my crit group. The ornaments are miniatures of my books:

They're made by pasting copies of my book covers around Post-It notes and adding a ribbon. (Directions for how to make these ornaments are here.) I think they're so cool! Here's how they look on my tree— which is a ficus, not an evergreen:

They fit right in with some of my other ornaments, don't you think?

Here's the full effect—it just isn't Christmas until the little horse sings:

Blatant commercial message: In case you are inspired to give my actual books as Christmas gifts, Ferradiddledumday and Stuck are conveniently for sale on both Barnes & Noble and

Thank you Marcie and the other members of the Crit Group for the book ornaments! Thank you Polly and Robyn for the singing horse!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mistletoe & Holly

Mistletoe and holly are traditional Christmas decorations, but their decorative uses predate Christmas by centuries. Mistletoe, used in rituals by both Druids and ancient Greeks, is a parasitic plant that grows high in trees, usually oaks. We have some growing on one of our farms. Do you see it?

Look closer.

Or even closer.

Usually  it grows high in the tree on the outer edges of a slender limb, so forget trying to climb the tree or using a ladder to get it.

If you cut down the tree—or even cut off the limb, there'll be no more mistletoe. American mistletoe is parasitic. Seeds dropped by birds take root in the tree itself and the mistletoe draws its nutrients from the tree.

So how do you harvest mistletoe? Carefully. The best way is with a rifle. If you're a good shot, you should be able to shoot off a big enough piece for decorative purposes but still leave some growing.

Since I have very little mistletoe, I don't think I'll be using it as a decoration this year. However, I do have a huge holly tree in my backyard. Here's a close look:

And a look from a bit farther back (that's the old gazebo behind it):

And, just to give you an idea how big the tree is, here's the house in the background:

Sometimes, Spotz the barncat likes to "levitate" in the holly. Do you see her? (These pictures of Spotz in the holly tree were taken last year):

How does she get to ends of the branches without falling off?

Here's her secret: A wild grapevine grows through the holly tree. Spotz climbs the grapevine and sits in the spot where the several vines form a place to sit. 

I wonder if I can persuade Spotz to climb for mistletoe?

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