Okay, I gave up and finally updated my Word Press, managers of my blog site, and everything looks different. Will I be able to load photos? Lets check:

So far so good. Only took me a trip upstairs to find my old computer on which I found navigation instructions. I have no idea how the formatting on this new system will look when published. It’s a journey we’re on together.

Anyway, I took this photo this morning to illustrate the large bat-wing mower, powered by Fish and Wildlife, which is taking down the ocean of grasses and wild flowers earlier planted by same. The wild flowers did grow, but were quickly overshot by the Astoria bent grass, a troublesome invasive. They will spray with something called Springer, to which the flowers are supposed immune, in the hope to give the flowers competitive edge next year. We’ll see.

But the title of this piece is loss. Let’s start with David and Caroline, who arrived Monday evening, we being the first stop on their epic road trip to, well, that’s a good question. They hadn’t yet decided on Monday evening. But by Tuesday evening, when Larry and I had begun our watering system for the gate plantings (it’s Hot here, like high 90’s.) D and C walked down the road for an evening stroll and discovered that one of the calves had been stuck behind the barbed wire enclosing one of the streams. This would account for the loud, relentless moo-ing we’d been hearing all afternoon.

Larry and David undertook to crawl under/through the fence to, um, what? lift the calf out? Which probably weighs 200# by now, but, something had to be done. The land inside the stream fencing is rough, weedy, and, in my opinion, too dangerous for a couple of oldish tenderfoots to attempt. Didn’t listen, and, amazingly, the threat they represented to the poor lad caused him to scramble through the barbed wire, to no apparent ill effect. Momma came running, and we supposed the drama to be over.

But there are 16 calves, and we could only account for 15. Where was the last one?

Later that night, well after dark, the distraught moo-ing continued. A neighbor texted to say that she’d tried to get across the fence (a really really bad idea — not only barbed wire but electric — to comfort the cow (how do you even try to comfort a cow?) Bless her heart. This was enough to persuade Larry that we had to call Ryan, the cow’s owner.

He said there was nothing to be done until morning when he’d come over and try to find the missing baby. The moo-ing went on all night.

The baby was found the next morning. His head had somehow been caught in the watering tank. He didn’t drown, but suffocated. Ryan sent someone over to collect the body, and to amend the tank housing. He was philosophical, says loss accompanies the business, that the calf had not suffered, but died within seconds, that nothing could have been done to prevent his death. The cows were moved to a different pasture.

The neighbors have not been so sanguine. The tanks (four of them) were designed and build by an engineer from NRCS as part of the stream-protection grant. Something must be done. This seems such a human impulse. We will inform the agency of the problem. Meanwhile, the mourning continued through the days and nights, hard to hear. I saw Caroline walk down the road and try to extend human comfort to the mother, who stood alone in the corner of the field nearest to the tank. I do not know if her sentiment was received.

But. David and Caroline! What an amazing couple. Caroline believes that Hawaii is responsible for her cancer, or at least partly culpable, and so she doesn’t live there. Of course, that is where her home is, at least so long as David’s job is in Hawaii. So she travels. Apparently they have gamed the credit card points system to a degree that approaches genius. David keeps the home and the cats, and seems perfectly content with their arrangement.

They eat according to a plan that is narrow to disappearing. Caroline records every bite onto a digital site, and her will power can move the mountains, drain the oceans. She wavers not. And listen to this. Her entire wardrobe travels with her. Everything she owns. In two suitcases. Normal suitcases, not trunks. She is cheerful, mindful, entertaining. She laughs, she rescues each tiny insect and removes it outside. She believes in the transcendent. David adores her.

Now they’re on their way, perhaps to Canada, perhaps to Montana. We may or may not be advised. God speed. And our life sinks back into the comfort of habit. We have a real dinner, which includes, you won’t be surprised to hear, sausage. As we speak, Larry is outside talking to the crew we’ve engaged as a test to care for our lawn. The lawn looks beautiful. It has taken two men three hours to accomplish what Larry manages in an hour and a half. I’m not paying them for three hours work every week! Larry says. There goes my idea that he might relax and enjoy a game of golf every now and then.

The installation of sky lights in the attic/snug/whatever room goes on in fits. The actual installation is now complete, but the wiring of overhead can- lights may be undertaken next Wednesday. The wall-boarding? We seem to be a project that is slipped into interstices of the contractor’s real jobs.

Now it’s time to post this and see what travels across the ether. Sorry there weren’t more photos! Maybe next time?

Last Friday we flew to LA…
“Wait. You FLEW to LA? I thought you hated to fly.”
“She does,” Larry said. “Last fall when we drove down here she said that was it. From here on in we’d fly when we came. But I guarantee next time we’ll be driving again.”
I know, but the flight was so turbulent, plus, there was no water in the galleries for coffee of tea. No water? They even fly a plane with no water? Used the restroom and there was a hand pencilled sign telling us not to use the sink. But what about . . .? Oh, never mind.

The graduation was impressive, the 150th graduating class of Loyola, oldest school in Southern California. Charlie conducted the choir Friday night for baccalaureate, and it was exciting to see him in his element. On Saturday morning the 300 boys marched in, heard speeches, and were proclaimed commenced. There were 6 or 7 special awards announced, and Charlie received that of the student who most exemplified the values of St. Ignatius and a Jesuit education. Nice! Do they know he isn’t a Catholic, we whispered. I wanted to post a photo of him in the middle of his proud family, but my computer pitched a fit at the idea, swallowed all that I had written, sulked, and wouldn’t wake up until this morning.

The party Saturday night was vintage Allison, who knows how to throw an amazing shindig (though she wouldn’t use that word.) We got to meet Charlie’s friends, chat with the other grandparents, friends we’d met over the years. Good food, and the wine flowed. On Sunday we went to All Saints to see Charlie’s last performance in the church choir. It’s an uber-liberal church, welcoming all, wherever they may be on their journey’s of faith, except Republicans. Or so Peter tells us.

Another plane ride (sigh, heavy turbulence) and we’re back at the farm, picking up the threads of farm life. It’s been an unruly week, of which my computer misbehavior was but a piece. Tyrone, our builder, arrived yesterday morning to begin installing the skylight windows in the room above the garage. We needed to pick up some propane, and go to Harbor Freight in Albany to acquire a set of ramps. Truck batteries, both of them, were dead. Okay, on to Plan B. We’d go the the garden shop to pick up some plants, etc., using the SUV, of course. On our return we found a note from Tyrone. A family medical problem had to be addressed, he hoped we’d understand, would try to get back to us next Monday.

Next day, Triple A came to start the truck, and while that was going on, I decided to walk down to the river, and passed by a pastoral scene:


Back at the barn, Larry told me that he’d tried to water the new plants by the gate and found that the well was dry. WTF? It’s been raining for a month. How could we run out of water? This is serious! But apparently the automatic watering system for the lawn had been far too comprehensive, and maybe the well would replenish, given an hour or so? In any case, the truck was running, so we could head for Albany and pick up the ramps. Which you might think are some exotic spring vegetable, but to clarify:


Fingers crossed, we turned on the faucet from the “dry” well, and found the missing water. Whew. I don’t have a photo of the watering procedure, but here it is: We fill a barrel on the back of the ATV with water and drive to the gate. I climb up and hoist a bucket-full of water out of the barrel and hand it to Larry, who pours the water onto the plants. While I can climb up onto the bed of the ATV with the best of us, getting me down is something else. I will leave that to your imagination. You’re welcome.

Changing the subject, we now have our bull in the pasture with the cows and calves. Sort of completes the picture. He is massive, but seems to be perfectly gentle, composed, like Ferdinand. Which we will call him, whatever his name may be. Actually he probably doesn’t have a name. He is just 38, according to the tattoo on his shoulder. So far, no cow sex to be seen, which is fine. One doesn’t really want to watch.

Larry went out to spray the weeds in the yard and under the fruit trees. Just came in. It’s pouring! This was not forecast by the weather people who live in his phone, so he is not happy. We’re going through a patch, I tell him. He isn’t consoled, but has come in and is eating lunch, so life goes on.