Peevish Pen

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

© 2006-2018 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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pawpaws 2015

The pawpaw harvest down along Polecat Creek this year wasn't very good—nothing like the 2013 harvest.  Last week, I rode the 4-wheeler down to the bottom to see what I could find.

There are plenty of pawpaw trees, but very few had any fruit. And the fruit had ripened a few weeks earlier this year than in previous years. Maybe the hot summer and the recent dryness had something to do with it.

Even the few pawpaws I could find weren't very big. Some trees didn't have any.

Consequently, the whole harvest was maybe two dozen, and not all of them were good-sized. This is it:

If you've never before eaten a pawpaw, it's a custardy fruit. You cut it in half and spoon out the contents, taking care not to swallow the numerous seeds.

 A pawpaw tastes a little like a banana, but a lot better.

Maybe next year we'll have a better harvest.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Desk Cats

Every evening, after a full day of doing cat-work, Jim Bob likes to sleep on my desk. Tanner likes to join him.

Two cats on the desk makes for crowding.

Tanner likes to cuddle other cats even thought they don't especially like cuddling him. He also likes to wash—and be washed by— other cats. Sometimes Jim-Bob will oblige.

 Sometimes Tanner gets a little pushy.

. . . and sometimes the situation escalates.

So Jim-Bob tells Tanner who is the boss.

Their fights usually result in things avalanching off my desk.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Silage Cutting

One of the signs of impending autumn is the cutting of corn for silage. The GMO corn across the road was cut a couple of weeks ago. It had gotten really tall this year and was kind of oppressive. This is how it looked in mid-August:

With so little rain in the area, the corn had been getting progressively drier. 

On Friday, August 28, cutting began in earnest. When I came home from a meeting, debris that had blown out of the silage trucks was all over the road.

 While one truck went to the dairy farm down the road to unload, another returned, while yet another was being filled.

Now a few rows  of dead dry corn still stand here and there, no doubt for the convenience of dove hunters. Dove season started September 3.


One little problem for the dove hunters, though—no doves.

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Sunday, September 06, 2015

Making a List Meme

I saw this on Blue Country Magic, who got it from Sunday Stealing, who stole it from Love me some surveys:

1. Do you like making lists? 
Not especially—I don't even do grocery lists, unless you count the print-out of the Kroger e-coupons. When writing a story, I might make a list of important plot points—but those can change as quickly as I can hit the delete key.

2. Do/did you play sports with your siblings? 

My only sibling was born and died four years before I was born, so no. While I may have played croquet with some neighborhood kids over 50 years ago, I was a free-range kid and was thus fortunate enough not to have to play team sports. I didn't even like to watch sports when I was a kid. Still don't.

3. Would you rather go to a University or a community college? 

A university—because it offers a lot more in the way of classes and cultural events. A university offers a lot more educational opportunities than a smaller college. But some community colleges can have doggone good classes.

4. What’s your favorite kind of bread? 

I don't eat bread. Gluten-intolerant and diabetic. But the bread I remember is the "light bread" that my Grandma Ruble used to make. It would be impossible to duplicate that now, because the wheat changed in the 1970s. In 2007, I blogged about the recipe here.

5. What toppings do you like on your pizza? 

I don't eat pizza. See #4 above.

6. What color or design does your shower curtain have? 

My showers have glass doors. No need for a shower curtain.

7. What kind of car does/did your mom drive?

My mother didn't drive.

8. What’s on your cell phone’s home screen? 

I have a Tracfone. It has a generic home screen.

9. Do you like to watch the National Geographic channel? 

I probably would if I had cable or satellite. But I don't.

10. Are you the type of person to correct a survey maker’s grammar and/or spelling?

I have been known to do so, yes.

11. What color is your microwave? 

Black with a beige—no, bisque—top to match the stove. The back-up microwave in the downstairs kitchen is white.

12. Do you have a fan in your bedroom? 

Do you mean the kind that circulates air? If so, yes. Do you mean someone who applauds and seeks my autograph? No.

Note the cat pull-cord on my bedroom fan.

13. Mountain Dew or Sprite?

Neither. They're equally high-fructose nasty. I haven't partaken of sodas for years.

14. Does it rain a lot where you live? 

Not lately. The lawn is drying up  . . .

. . . and my garden is dry, too. The kale I planted here is a lost cause:

15. Do you shop at Walmart regularly? 

Only to buy cat food.

16. Does it bother you when animals lick themselves?

The great thing about cats (and some other species) is that they're self-cleaning. It doesn't even bother me when they lick each other.

17. Have you ever been to a Trader Joe’s?

No. I don't even know where the closest one is.

18. What’s the longest time you’ve ever been stuck in traffic? 

Not more than an hour. And that was on interstate long ago. I don' travel much now, and I avoid interstates whenever I can.

19. Do you wear black a lot? 

Yes. Black goes with everything (except cat hair).

20. Are there stairs in your house? 

Yes. Do I use them? I rarely use the stairs to the attic. I use the stairs to the lower level a couple of times per week. If they didn't have handrails, I'd rarely go downstairs.

21. Have you ever held $500 in cash? 

More than that, actually. But not lately.

22. Do you like onions on your burger?

Yes, but all the burgers I eat are bunless (See #4 above.)

23. Could you ever give yourself a shot? 

Duh! I'm a diabetic. I do that on a daily basis. I can also give shots to horses, if I need to.

My insulin pen and the needles.

24. Do you wear shoes in the house?
Sometimes. But I'm more comfortable barefoot and find it easier to balance barefoot.

25. Have you ever worked as a cashier?

No, thank goodness.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

1967 Firebird

One of the first things I did after I'd signed a teaching contract back in the spring of '67 was to order a new car. I selected a Pontiac Firebird, which had just come out a month or so earlier. I drove it for over 10 years and put about 100, 000 miles on it. Then we stored it for a couple of decades.

In 2010, we sold it to a guy just down the road. Here it is leaving, though not under its own power. It hadn't been drivable for years.

Today, the Firebird, newly restored, returned to visit me.

Its faded paint had been restored to its original color.

It had new carpet and the seats had been cleaned. The interior looked great!

It was good to see the old car again. This time, the Firebird left under its own power.



Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Found Plott Hound

In mid-August a skin-and-bones-thin Plott hound began roaming the Novelty section of Penhook. The stray hound was skittish, and—while he liked to rest under our green oak—I couldn't get closer than about 20 feet before he'd take off.

 I figured that maybe he'd been running something and wouldn't quit until he was far from home. Or maybe he went on a journey in search of a lady dog. I felt so sorry for him that I started leaving food under the tree. (My policy: Never let a hungry animal go hungry.)

He started putting on weight and let me get closer and closer. Eventually I could touch him. He was a very clean dog (ears were clean, no fleas, only a few recently-acquired ticks which I removed).

He's a nice-looking hound, obviously well-bred, and must belong to someone. He's good with cats, is respectful around a horse, and has no interest in getting involved with the cows across the road. He followed my husband's tractor down the road a few days ago and happily hunted while my husband bush-hogged the trails at the farm. In fact, he returned here before my husband did.

True to his Plott nature, the hound does hunt at night, and he "treed" something in the grape arbor the other night. (I didn't go out to check just what.)

He is, however, difficult to keep penned-up. While he goes willingly into our kennel, where Maggie and Harley get along fine with him, he will not stay in the kennel. Apparently he can escape from a 5-foot high chain-link fence. [Update: he can unlatch the gate.]

He is too large and active a dog for an elderly couple, so we can't keep him. Plus, I think he must have an owner somewhere. But who, and where? It's possible he could have travelled a long distance.

Do you know this Plott? Can you help him reunite with his owner? If so, leave a comment.
(Or give us a call. We're the only Mushko in the Franklin County phonebook)

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