Thursday, December 29, 2011

Someone`s Biological Clock is Wound Too Tightly

Morning all! I`m just pouring a fresh cuppa, so why don`t you join me? It`ll keep the frost from settling on your nose!

I just had to pass along this little surprise Miss Yodeling discovered yesterday afternoon. It seems that one of our broad-breasted hens, Bertha (She is indeed named after Bertha Butt from the song 'Troglodyte' by the Jimmy Castor Bunch. You all remember that song, don`t you?) has decided that the end of December is the perfect time to lay eggs!

Why Bertha has chosen the middle of winter to make a nest is FAR beyond me! Usually, turkeys are seasonal layers, starting when the amount of daylight is increasing nicely, like say, April. I can`t imagine that our BB tom, Andre, is fertile. I know that drakes and ganders don`t become potent until late spring, again directly related to the amount of light. She has been working on her little nest for awhile, since most hens lay an egg every other day and she had nine in her nest. One got broken, which is why most BB hens aren`t very successful brooders. A bird that weighs over thirty pounds is rough on eggs!

Of course, Mister`s eyes widened in glee when he saw the bounty! Now, the remaining eight eggs are in an incubator. We`ll candle them in a couple weeks and see if anything is growing. I have serious doubts but, hey, you never know, right?

I also wanted to give a warm yodel of welcome to Ann Thomas and drmomi! Howdy and welcome to the hillside farm, where the critters are nearly as goofy as the goatherders!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Radio Ga-Ga

Yes, I stole that line from the awesomely fantastic group Queen, but it really fits this post. Come on in gang, drop down and I`ll pour you a fresh cuppa!

First, before I get going on the radio story, I hope everyone in blog-land had a great holiday season! Christmas on the hillside farm was a grand one. Seems we all must have been exceptionally good this year. Me in particular, but I`m always good so that`s no surprise. *Whistles innocently* Santa brought me a new range! Now I won`t have to lie on the floor to light the pilot for the stove anymore! That floor gets lower and lower every year for some odd reason. I also cleaned up in the Grecian department, with a new calendar all about ancient Greece and the movie ‘The Eagle’ which I saw in the theater and adored. Can a woman have too much Greek in her life? I think not.

Okay, so now, let`s get to the drama of my morning. Today was another physical therapy day for my mother-in-law, so down I go around 8:30 this morning to fix her coal stove and gather her up. I hadn`t warmed up my truck since I didn`t realize how cold it was. Yeah, I had been out to do chores earlier but that don`t count. I was still warmed internally by java juice.

We head down the road, chatting away about this and that, when I realize that my beloved classic rock radio station isn`t on. GASP! Has someone dared to touch the knob?! I couldn`t imagine it, since turning the radio knob is a crime punishable by several hours of harping. Not meaning to be rude, but now beginning to get twitchy, I reached over and cranked the volume up in the middle of what my mother-in-law was saying. I smiled at her and mumbled something about music. Nothing came from the speakers but static. I began to perspire.

“Oh, this is bad.” I said and fiddled with the knob, fine-tuning desperately. “The Met is off the air!”

“Guess you`ll have to listen to hillbilly music,” my mother-in-law commented.

My eyes widened. The truck weaved just slightly as I kept fiddling. Now don`t get me wrong country music fans, I sort-of enjoy country tunes if they`re the old performers. Conway Twitty, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Freddy Fender, you know? The stuff my mother listened to while I was growing up and trying to drown out her music with KISS and YES. It`s just, to me, all these new country singers sound the same. I`m sure folks that aren`t into rock or metal say the same thing about those genres too, though.

“Uhm,” I brilliantly replied and began searching for a rock station with desperation. “There`s got to be another classic rock station somewhere.”

Well, sadly, it seems there isn`t in this neck of the woods. There are a hundred and fifty-three country stations, one classical music station, and several stations that play rap/pop/dance or whatever the Sam Hill kids call their tunes nowadays. I flew past someone who sounded like that Beiber kid as if Satan himself was the disc jockey. As the panic set in I landed on a station that was playing something that sounded like a woman singing while mixing a cake with the blender set on warp nine. I think it might have been some new club song. Either that or she had her booby caught in that warp nine blender. I began to have mild palpitations and my mouth felt dry.

“Zeppelin,” I coughed weakly. “Must………..find……..Zeppelin.”

Fortunately, through all this gasping, wheezing and general hysteria (Ah Def Leppard, where were you when I needed you the most?) my mother-in-law was, as always, pleasant and non-judgmental. She simply watched me mumbling incoherently then smiled when I cussed out the truck driver behind me who was getting antsy as I drove and searched for some rock music. Finally, by the grace of the gods of rock and roll, I stumbled into a radio station that was playing The Monkees. Granted, that group isn`t The Who but it was much better than Justin Beiber. I sighed. Then the next song came on. It was Billy Joel. I began to weep silently and turned the damned radio off.

“We`ll just talk,” I muttered, to which, my mother-in-law smiled once more and nodded.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

From all of us on the hillside farm!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mister Makes Cookies

Hey gang! Man, I`ve missed my blog and all my blogging` buddies! *Big hug*

Life here on the goat farm has just been coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs crazy over the past week. Between taking my MIL to her physical therapy appointments twice a week (She is doing great after her knee replacement surgery!), Christmas shopping, wrapping, school events, cookie making and now the last round of edits on ‘Of Gods & Goats’, I haven`t had time to wind my watch!

Speaking of cookies, we had a rather funny thing happen here the night before last. At least, I found it funny, Mister on the other hand…..

It started after dinner when Mister came back from tending to his mother`s coal stove for the night. He wanted to make cookies. Miss Yodeling had made a batch for her friends the previous night, and I guess he got in the mood for peanut butter No-Bakes. Since none came home from the high school, it was either make more or go without! So he opted to try his hand at cookie making.

I had already done the dinner dishes and informed him that I didn`t mind if he made cookies, as long as he cleaned up afterwards. I figure three sink-loads of dishes in one day is enough, right ladies? He agreed and so I tottered off and went back to play some X-Box. (That darn Skyrim is SO addictive!)

Mister turned the TV on, the hunting channel as usual. How many times can you watch a man shoot a deer before it becomes a tad repetitive? Must be a guy thing. Anydoodles, he could be heard out in the kitchen, gathering his ingredients of Quaker Minute Oats, vanilla, peanut butter, Crisco and milk. Out came the wax paper and several sheets were ripped off. After a small search for my measuring cups that I had to assist in, he was good to go!

Miss and I could hear him stirring and stirring, melting the Crisco and sugar and then adding his other ingredients. He was really enjoying himself! Those No-Bakes are a real breeze and within a couple of minutes, he had them all spooned out and cooling on his sheets of wax paper. He gave us a thumbs-up as he passed Miss and I in her room, then out he went to stoke up our wood stove for the night.

I returned to my game, and dragon killing, and Miss got back to her whatever it is she does on her laptop nightly. Chatting I`m sure. Mister came back inside and started up the hall. It was then that a bellow filled the house as he charged into the kitchen, madder than a wet hen. Two cats flew past the doorway to Miss Yodeling`s room like Lucifer himself were on their bushy tails.

I looked over at my daughter. She looked at me, and we exchanged a smile. Must be Lu-Lu and Lucius thought some peanut butter No-Bakes sounded really good too! The dogs got the cookies that the cats had nibbled on.

Hmmm, I wonder if the dogs didn`t put the cats up to it?!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Word of Mouth for Kids - It`s a Tie!

Ho-Ho-Ho! I thought about trying to wriggle down the chimney for this final book review for kids, but given that I had three series stuffed into my bag, I figured I wouldn`t fit through the flue. That`s right, three series. It was a tie for the twelve and over age range. These three authors, and their books, made it down-right impossible for me to pick one favorite over another, so I stopped trying and simply decided to run with all three since each deserves a recommendation. If you have a young adult in the house, and they`ve never had the pleasure of reading the trio of book sets coming along, do order them for your soon-to-be or already is a teen, because each series has unforgettable characters and stories that will thrill older kids as well. Okay, let`s get this literary jingle-bell hop hopping!

The Harry Potter Series

What can I possibly say about Harry and his buddies that hasn`t been said already? This is one of the best series of books that I`ve ever read, period. Ms. Rowling spins a wonderful and dramatic story centered on the young wizard, Harry Potter and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The world of Hogwarts School, the inhabitants and the villains are forever etched into our world and conscious. There is everything a reader would want in the Potter books. Action, adventure, scary moments, love, loss, drama, humor, dragons, magic, Quidditch ( A game played on flying broomsticks) Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and one of the most memorable bad guys ever to slither across the earth – Lord Voldemort. I`m not scared to say his name. And, if I recall correctly, the Potter books are accepted in the Accelerated Reader (Or AR for short) program that many schools participate in. A win – win for kids and parents alike!

The Percy Jackson Series

Ah, Percy. I do adore your series so. As does my daughter and many of her friends. I know, this may sound a little biased coming from me, but this series of books about the young demigod son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, may just eek past Potter for me. And here is why, aside from my obvious love of all things Greek. This series teaches as it entertains. And the kids won`t even realize that they`re learning, but they are! Rick Riordan, who has inspired me more than I can say in my own upcoming series of Grecian-flavored books, does a tremendous job of taking those dusty old Gods we were forced to read about in high school and breathing new and hip life into them. Do they use the term hip anymore?? Well, whatever term the kids use, these books are it! Percy, Annabeth (The daughter of Athena and a mortal man) Grover the satyr and all the kids at Camp Half-Blood will take readers on a chariot ride jam-packed with gods, monsters, pens that become swords, laughter, sadness, close calls and first kisses. And just like Mister Potter, the Percy Jackson books are also in the Accelerated Reader program.

The Hunger Games Trilogy

The story of Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year-old girl who lives in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, where the countries of North America once were, will move your tween - or teen - or even you to tears. Then, before your cheeks are dry, you find yourself cheering Katniss on as she steps in for her younger sister to participate in the Hunger Games, a yearly televised event where participants aged twelve to eighteen, from every district of Panem, engage in a battle where only one can survive. These three books will have you gasping, laughing, weeping and, at times, sitting in stunned silence. Written by Suzanne Collins, the trilogy moves through the story of Katniss, but also addresses the unrest that is bubbling up in the Districts that surrounds the Capitol. Katniss, Peeta, Gayle and Haymitch will become beloved friends as you race, and I do mean race, to turn the pages. The books have an incredibly compelling life-or-death plot. They are wildly entertaining and at times disturbing. I do wish to point out that the books deal with a very violent premise - teens forced to fight each other to the death to survive using whatever means are necessary. There is very little physical romance. I have seen some comments about the violence, which would probably be rated PG-13 nowadays, but I did want to mention that in case any parent may have qualms. I myself had no problem letting my daughter read them, but others may. The Hunger Games are also included in the Accelerated Readers program.

For more information on the AR program.

To find which books are on the AR list.


And that wraps up my Word of Mouth for Kids reviews. I hope they`ve helped folks find a book, or two or even three, for their children or grandchildren for the upcoming holidays. As you can tell I am an avid voice for reading to your children and encouraging a love of reading early in their lives. In this day and age of text talk and Twitter, where the attention span of kids seems to get taxed if they go over a hundred and forty characters, reading is more important than ever. So I`ll leave you with a quote from Ronald Dahl`s book ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ that you may, or may not, agree with.

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray

Go throw your TV set away

And in its place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Genetics of Peeking, Shaking & Poking

I`ve been pondering on genetics lately. And no, not any in-depth pondering like the kind those scientists do in their sterile labs. They probably call their pondering ‘Theorizing’ but it all means the same thing, which is, someone standing around with a fresh cup of java and a blank look on their face as they meander mentally. If you live with me that airy expression is a familiar one. I drift off all the time. During dinner my husband or daughter will snap their fingers in front of me and I`ll jerk back to the meal, a sheepish smile on my face and mutter something about plotlines or dialog.

My latest drift-off from reality occurred this morning and is directly related to Alvin and the Chipmunks and new proof that present peeking is inherited. Okay, sure, it`s a leap from DNA to singing rodents, but stick with me, I`ll get things sorted out soon. What began this sojourn was a link a friend of mine posted on Facebook. It was that classic (We don`t use old in this house. Classic sounds so much more elegant, don`t you think?) Chipmunk`s tune ‘The Christmas Song’. Does anyone know if Alvin ever got his hula-hoop?

Seeing and hearing that song took me back in a flash to my childhood. I went back in time to when I was perhaps eight. All I wanted was ‘The Chipmunks’ album. For those of you who, like my fifteen year-old daughter, do not know what an album is, it is a record. A record is a round bit of hard vinyl that when the needle of a record player was placed upon it, music issued forth through some terrible speakers. Yes, the sound quality was abysmal and the records got scratched terribly and leaped about or stuck, but neither we kids nor the brontosaurus that grazed outside the windows of our cave seemed to mind.

So, there I was, the morning of Christmas. I was the only one awake and what to my wandering eyes did appear, but a package under the tree that resembled an album! I have to assume it was probably around three in the morning, or some hour equally as ghastly to adults. I crept closer, lifted the record-shaped package and peeled the paper from it as carefully as I could. There, smiling back at me were Alvin, Simon and Theodore. I was beyond delighted!

Then, I stuck the tape back down, stashed it back among the other gifts and high-tailed it back upstairs. As I waited for my mother to wake up, something weird started to happen. The high of knowing what I had gotten began to diminish. I had become a Peeker even though the name tag had stated strongly not to. I can`t recall what else I got that year, or if my mother knew I had peeked although I`m sure she did. We mom`s know all. I had learned a lesson that dark Christmas morn. I would never again allow my genetic disposition to ruin a surprise! We won`t dally discussing any other part of my disposition, but rest assured it`s always sunny.

A few years have passed since I learned my lesson about peeking, poking and prodding. I now do not want to know what I`m getting before I open the gift. I also do not want to know the ending of a movie or book ahead of time, so please friends, don`t tell me! My husband also suffers from this malady. According to my mother-in-law, he has always been this way. His skills are so advanced and honed over time that he can tell the material a garment is made out of without shaking or poking, or so he claims. Perhaps he is a mutant with an X-gene?? Since I haven`t seen any spandex stashed in our closet I have to assume not. Darn shame, that is. I could get into hanging out with Wolverine.

Now it seems my daughter has inherited this most dreaded of holiday genes. I cannot prove that she is wound up in clandestine holiday nosing around but I have some scientifically based suspicions. Last night I moseyed into her room, to play a bit of X-Box, and there on her desk was a big chocolate bar that we had bought for one of her friends. My right eyebrow rose. She had asked about it earlier in the day and at the time I was busy, so I told her I`d dig it out before bedtime, since it was in the bags that contained her and her father`s presents.

“I see you found that candy bar for Samantha,” I said with suspicion. She looked up from her Spanish worksheet and a halo popped up over her golden head. I was nearly blinded by her innocence.

“Oh yeah,” she commented nonchalantly, her eyes going from the candy bar to me then back to her Spanish homework.

“And what else did you find in the bag that was in?” I asked and folded my arms over my chest.

“Nothing,” she quickly replied. Perhaps TOO quickly I wondered? “I only looked for Sam`s gift.”

“Uh-huh,” I mumbled.

I sighed and sat down. Honestly, she was doomed from the start. Not only did she inherit poor eyesight, her grandmother`s toes, her mother`s love of pierogies and her father`s nose, it seems she also got the Peeker gene. I had been hoping it would skip a generation or at least be recessive. Oh well, it could be worse I suppose. She could have inherited my husband’s Must-Control-The-Remote gene. Or does that genome only get passed to male offspring?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Madame Poe`s Inspirational Rumble-belly

Ah the joy of owing dogs. Sometimes our canine friends can give us inspiration even when they`re being as bad as a dog can be. Case in point - our thirteen year old yellow Lab, Poe, who suffers from hip dysplasia and yet can manage to find ways to get herself in trouble as if she were still a pup! Yesterday morning our Grand Dame went outside in the wee hours to heed Mother Nature`s call, along with our other two dogs, Trinity, our black Lab, and Tinker, our beagle. It was very early, perhaps ten after four, and I had yet to get my zombie cure into me. As I sipped on coffee the dogs were out doing what dogs do, which, in this instance, is climbing onto the picnic table and dumping a large tub containing deer scraps onto the ground.

It`s deer rifle season here in Pennsylvania, and my brother-in-law had bagged a doe on Saturday. Thankfully all the entrails had been left in the woods, but all the other assorted renderings from rib cages to fat, had been tossed into a large blue barrel by my husband and my brother-in-law. The hide would be sold for a few bucks (There`s a witty pun in there somewhere) and the rest were to be taken on the mountain for the skunks, opossums and raccoons to find. There is very little for the wildlife left now.

It seems our old, arthritic dog, the same one that needs help getting into our truck, found the fortitude to climb onto the picnic table and scatter a feast, not only for herself, but for the other dogs as well. Of course, while this was occurring, I was staring at the walls, hair askew, trying to get as much java into me as I could as quickly as I could. After realizing how long they had been gone, I started calling and finally the pack came back to the house, all licking their lips. When the sun rose, and my brain was filled with the rush of coffee, I saw the scattered offerings and sighed. I knew someone would pay the piper. When Mister got home, I showed him the carnage and he argued up and down that it must have been a bear. Poe was too old to climb up on the table as she had done many times in her younger days.

After careful crime scene investigation, the muddy dog prints on the top of the table showed my spouse inconclusively that it was a dog, and a large dog, that done did the deed!

Sure as shooting, Madame Poe has a terrible case of rumble-belly this morning. You know the sound of a gut churning and rolling over itself? It was that grumbling sound, accompanied by Madame Poe scrubbing on the hallway walls (Don`t ask, it`s something she has done for years when she wants out) that both my husband and I woke up to this morning. I have scolded the dog, myself and my husband soundly. But this morning, as I was drinking my zombie cure, I had a thought. Given the hour, I was impressed by having a thought at all, let alone a deep one! As Madame Poe`s belly gurgled and bubbled it came to me that even though the old girl had been very bad, she also has shown me something pretty important.

She has shown me that despite her age, her sore hips and arthritic joints that she is still willing to climb to reach her goals. She isn`t letting a little thing like old age stop her from getting what she wants, even if what she wants makes her suffer afterwards. This member of the silver-muzzle clan was determined not to let her age impede her. That`s a lesson I think many of us who are now over the fifty birthday candles milestone can take to heart. Just because it might take us longer to get to the top of the table then it used to doesn`t mean we shouldn`t try.

Thank you, Madame Poe, and your rumble-belly, for reminding me to never give up scaling the picnic tables of life.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Word of Mouth for Kids - Goddess Girls

I hear jingle-bells! Must be the holiday season is coming on fast and furious, so I`ll leap into another seasonal recommendation for young readers! This time I`ll pass some word of mouth about a truly delightful series for girls in the eight to twelve year range called ‘Goddess Girls’, written by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.

This series came to my attention, as so many books do, when my dear Indie bookstore owner, Kasey, showed them to me one night at a writers group at her store, which can be found here if you wish to stop in and visit From My Shelf Books.

She placed them on the table and said “Why didn`t we think of this?” and after reading six of the books so far, I`m asking myself the same question! The series is about the Greek gods, but they`ve been made over and now are young kids, most under the age of thirteen, who attend Mount Olympus Academy.

Principal Zeus oversees the academy with his staff, which include among other mythological creatures, a Cyclops that teaches Hero-ology! There are other classes of course, like Beauty-ology, Beast-ology and Revenge-ology, since we all know how well trained Greek goddess are in revenge spells! All the Gods are there, Athena, Ares, Apollo, Hephaestus, Dionysus and the list goes on and on!

Each book is aimed at young girls and delivers a strong message. In ‘Athena the Brain’ Athena, the smartest girl at MOA, has to learn how to deal with being the new GG (Goddess Girl) in school and how to handle the meanest girl in history – Medusa. In ‘Persephone the Phony’ Persephone learns that going along just to fit in isn`t always the best way to live one’s life. ‘Aphrodite the Beauty’ finds out that sometimes the godboy who`s the cutest and strongest (Ares) isn`t always better than the godboy who is gentle, fun and kind yet uses a cane (Hephaestus). ‘Artemis the Brave’ worries about living up to being called ‘The Brave One’ even though she feels fear when facing Minotaur’s and the smelly Geryon in Beast-ology class. Of course, Artemis discovers the bravery inside her at the end, and also figures out that some godboys, Orion in this case, are just a lot of flash and starry eyes!

I cannot speak highly enough of this series! They are clever and witty, fun and filled with adventure, and are chocked right full of Greek mythos! Anytime a writer (Or in this case, writers) can find a new way to bring the Greek pantheon to life and make it appealing to kids, I am the first to leap into my chariot and ride across the sky announcing it to the mortals below. Ms. Holub and Ms. Williams add a perfect touch to each Goddess Girl, making them relatable and likeable. They each have their own problems and are trying to come to grips with having funny and odd feelings about the godboys in their class, yet, the girls are their own Goddesses, and romance doesn`t overshadow the tone of the books. Well, aside from Aphrodite, but when she and Isis get into a contest to see who the real Goddess of Love is, romance will have to win out, right?

If you have a young lady between the ages of eight and twelve, I think she will love the Goddess Girls series as much as I do!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Confessions of a Gaming Mom

Hello, my name is Vicki, and I`m a video game mom.

*Support group murmurs ‘Hello’*

I play video games, daily if possible. When I buy a game, nine times out of ten, I say it`s for my daughter but it`s for both of us. Add this to my comic book habit and you can plainly see where my mind is most days (Aside from burly Greek gods and winsome goatherders that share a bed with burly Greek gods.)

Sometimes, I play them when my daughter is at school just so I can get an extra hour in slaying dragons, or being slain by dragons, which is most generally what occurs. I know, it`s really an odd past-time for a mother who is up in the ‘Slap a Classic License Plate On Her Fanny’ age range. I blame my video game habit on my mother, who was a gaming mom as well.

Before my daughter was born I can recall spending hours, sitting with my mom playing games on an old Nintendo. She played about as well as I do, but that didn`t really matter. We laughed and laughed as we struggled to get through a level. I think it was the combination of enjoying game play as much as it was the time spent just sitting beside each other and chatting as we died, repeatedly and in very gory and glamorous ways!

Now, I have my daughter to play with, since my mother passed over several years ago. And, I can see the same bonds forming as we spend time with controller in hand. There are nights that she and I end up in tears as I bumble around, battle axe in hand, trying to take down giants and mammoths only to end up as paste. As we play, we`ll chat, much like my mother and I used to, about everything and nothing.

*Stops talking and ponders for a moment*

You know, I came to this group in hopes of maybe finding a way to curb my video game habit. I mean, is it wrong to want to get ‘Assassins Creed - Revelations’ for a Christmas present as much as my teenager does? I thought that it might have been, but after coming here and voicing my concerns, I see that it isn`t wrong, or odd, or even weird. There are good things to be said about gaming and I think I just stumbled upon one. The time spent with your child.

Sure, some folks allow the game system to replace interaction time with their kids, and that`s not good. But if you can share something, especially with a teen that is going through the turbulence of high school, and if you can spend an hour or two just sharing day to day stuff…..then it isn`t a problem at all, is it?

So, I guess I don`t need this support group. All I need is another box of rechargeable batteries, my Nord warrior and a few hours spent giggling with my daughter.

And that copy of ‘Assassins Creed - Revelations’, of course.


A big yodeling welcome to Jim! Thanks for coming up the hill, hope you enjoy your visit!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Word of Mouth for Kids - Hobo Finds A Home

Ho-Ho-Ho! The holidays are upon us and it`s time for doing all that shopping that I`ve – I mean we`ve put off. I thought it would be fun to read and recommend some children`s books over the next few weeks, since there is no better gift for a child than a book and a love of literature. What I`ll do is review books in three different age ranges – four to eight, eight to twelve and twelve and over. That should cover every child, grandchild, nephew or niece anyone may have on their gift-list.

Our first Word of Mouth for Kids will be for the four to eight year old ranges, although even younger children will enjoy ‘Hobo Finds A Home’ written by Hobo, as told to Kevin Coolidge, read to them. Kevin and his lovely bride, Kasey, own our local independent bookstore ‘From My Shelf Books ‘in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Hobo is a fixture in their bookstore and the official greeter, when he`s not napping.

I must say over the past year or two I`ve had the privilege of meeting with, chatting to and having various authors sign my copy of their books. But never have I had the honor of being able to give the writer a belly rub while having my elbow, or chin, head-bonked!

The story begins with Hobo, a lively kitten, who lives on Farmer Brown`s farm. Hobo isn`t like the other farm cats though, he doesn`t like sleeping in scratchy hay or getting stepped on by clumsy cows. One day the feisty feline decides he`s had enough and he leaves Farmer Brown`s farm. Off he goes into the world, and at first, he has grand adventures. He pretends he is a lion, he plays with sunbeams and butterflies and he sleeps under the stars. Hobo feels as if he were the king of the world!

But then he begins to feel lonely and hungry. He starts to miss Farmer Brown, the itchy hay and even those clumsy cows. He tries to make friends in the woods, but the opossum family he meets only wants to lie around and the black-and-white spice kitty makes him run away from its terrible stink.

One day, Hobo is walking down the road and begins to follow a man. The man notices that Hobo is hungry and when they get to the man’s house, he feeds him some tuna. But Gonzo, a big fat cat chases Hobo from his tuna dinner. The man takes Hobo inside, so he doesn`t have to fight with fat cats, opossums or spice kitty’s. Hobo moves in, gets the house suited to his liking, finds a lovely spot in front of the fire, gets his own bed and soft pillow, lots of food and most of all, Hobo finds a new friend and a home.

Hobo tells a wonderful tale. His story is warm and funny (I loved the term ‘spice kitty’ for a skunk!) and relays a very important message about friendship and family that even a non-reader can grasp with ease. The artwork is bright and friendly and colorful. It`s a perfectly paced story for a young child, not too long and not too short. If you are looking for a book to gift that special young child in your life with this holiday season, I highly recommend ‘Hobo Finds A Home’.

Oh, and as an extra incentive to purchase Hobo`s story (not that you`ll need one) a portion of the profits from the sale of the book are being donated to the Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries in North Central Pennsylvania. So not only will you be giving a beloved child a delightful book, you`ll also be helping unwanted pets to find new friends and homes.

Just like Hobo did.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting the Turkey to the Table

Hello there gang, drop on down and let`s shoot the breeze!

Today Mister and I got our Thanksgiving turkeys done. It`s been a few years since we dressed a meat turkey but it`s kind of like riding a bike as they say. Since it`s that time of year and folks seem to be interested in home butchering more and more, I thought I would share with y`all how we did our bird for the big day this Thursday. We started out with two, one white and one bronze broad-breasted tom.

Mister has decided to keep two bronze hens and one tom for breeding. We`ll see how that goes since the only way these broad-breasted turkeys successfully reproduce is with human help. Due to humans breeding for huge breasts, the toms are now too large to allow them to copulate with the hens well. Mister and I are still going around about helping the turkeys. I won`t go into vivid detail, but I can think of better ways to spend my time then pleasuring a tom turkey, if you get my drift.

Anydoodles, the sex lives of our turkeys aside; this is a squiky post, so anyone who has a sensitive tummy about the butchering process may not wish to read any further. It`s also a pretty image heavy post but hopefully it will be informative.

Okay, onward we`ll go with how we yodeling goatherders butcher and dress a meat turkey. Let me apologize for the photo quality now. Some of the images are a tad blurry. I did ask Santa for a new camera this year, so we`ll see if I’ve been good enough!

First off, these are the butchering tools we used –

-A good sharpening stone for the knives, a lung scraper and a propane torch. Make sure your knives are as sharp as you can get them. The lung scraper is a handy gizmo that we bought for chickens but rarely use for turkeys, who have larger chest cavities, but they`re a nice little thing to have on hand. The torch is for singeing the hairs after plucking.

Also, we have this book (One of many on raising and butchering livestock) on our homesteading bookshelf.

It`s a very comprehensive book and one I recommend to anyone thinking of raising turkeys. The author`s name is Leonard S. Mercia, in case you can`t read his name well. As you can see, ours is pretty dog-eared from lots of use over the years.

The night before you butcher any bird, it`s recommended that you remove their feed. This will help make sure the bird’s crop is empty. I`ll not show the beheading process, that`s even a tad too ugly for me. We don`t use a chopping block for meat turkeys like we do for chickens. We`ve found over the years that too much damage is done when we use a block and axe. Plus, the meat turkeys are so large I can`t handle them while Mister chops.

How we begin things is by gathering the bird, arms around their wings please because they will flog you into a coma if a wing gets loose, and then hang them by their feet upside-down on our swing-set. Now it`s time for that very sharp knife. Mister quickly and cleanly cuts their heads off. Then we allow them to hang for a bit to bleed out and stop flapping. This system works well for us. The birds don`t do any damage to themselves in terms of bruising of the meat or possible broken wings from flopping around on the ground.

While the turkey is hanging we`re busy with getting things situated for scalding. This is our set-up -

-A twenty-five gallon galvanized trash can atop a propane turkey fryer base. The water has to be at 140 degrees. You don`t want a boil. We place a thermometer in the water and when it`s at temperature we then remove the turkey from its foot-holds and dunk.

You really want to work the bird up and down well in the scald water for thirty seconds. Make sure you get the legs and tail well immersed. If you go longer than thirty seconds you`ll begin to cook the skin. After the scald we begin plucking and picking! Ye-Haw!

The best suggestion I can give folks is to take your time with plucking. Don`t grab too big of a handful of feathers or you might rip the skin, which is what I did here on the bronze bird I was working on. Oops!

I have the most trouble with wing feathers which can be quite stubborn. Those I have to sometimes use pliers to remove one by one. Most generally we can get a bird pretty cleanly plucked in fifteen minutes.

Okay, so we`ll move along and now the turkey is feather-free.

We then singe the bird lightly, to remove hair-like feathers.

Don`t apply the torch to the carcass or the skin will get scorched. Once the singeing is complete we move onto cleaning the bird out. Mister removes the feet at the knee joint while they`re still hanging, so he doesn`t have to fight with the ropes. If you have really large bird, you may wish to get some help getting the turkey down from the ropes. Then he cuts out the oil gland found on the tail of the bird and tosses it into the scrap pile. Mister slits the skin on the back of the neck then cuts the neck off and places it aside for giblets.

Then he reaches into the cavity and removes the crop, which hopefully is empty. He carefully cuts below the crop to remove it and into the scrap pile it goes.

Then we flip the bird around and start at the rear. This is the vent (Anus) of the turkey.

Mister carefully cuts around the vent to loosen it, ties it closed to ensure no fecal matter escapes and then makes an incision about two inches above the vent.

With one hand he reaches inside and pushes the organs up and out of the cut above the vent.

Be careful while cutting not to slice the intestines. Then he lifts the viscera up and out of the slice and disposes of what he does not want to keep. I`m no fan of giblets but my husband is, so he always keeps the heart, liver, neck and gizzard. The gizzard is kind of tricky to cut, take care not to cut into the inner sac or lining of the gizzard.

This is the gizzard and how Mister begins his slice.

The gizzard contains grit that the bird picks up to grind up their food.

Turkeys do not have teeth, although, rumor has it that hens do but they are very rare. Sorry, I couldn`t resist. *Giggles like a loon*

After the bird is dressed out we then wash it thoroughly with cold water from a hose. Sometimes we truss them and sometimes we don`t. After we wash the carcass as well as we can, we then double bag it and place it in the fridge. I bought clear, unscented thirteen gallon trash bags but you can order specially made freezer bags online that work really well, but are pretty costly.

Also, the giblets are washed and bagged for someone (Not me) to eat.

Place the bird into the refrigerator as quickly as possible to get that body temperature as low as you can as fast as you can. Then you can freeze it, if you wish. We`re not freezing ours for Thanksgiving, but are simply refrigerating it until Thursday since we prefer them unfrozen if possible.

And there you have it! The Yodeling Goatherder way to have a farm-raised, free-range turkey for your Thanksgiving platter! The two toms we butchered today weighed in at thirty-five pounds for the white and forty for the bronze! I`m roasting the bronze for Thanksgiving and am seriously wondering if it will fit into the roasting bags I bought.

I foresee many hot turkey sandwiches and pots of turkey soup on the menu for a week or so after Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bear Necessities

Howdy gang! Boy, it`s been awhile. Come on in and have a fresh cuppa!

Sorry I`ve been so sparse over the past week. Life has just been one big pain-in-the-rear, tossing one thing after another at me, but, onward we must climb, correct?!

I`ve always been a person that tries to not let life`s trials pull me down too low, so aside from a few illnesses (Miss over the weekend, Mother-In-Law having knee replacement surgery on Tuesday and Mister struggling with a staph infection in his leg) we do have some uplifting things to relay! Sometimes you have to shove the grey clouds aside to find the sunshine, but it`s always there!

First off is this!

Mister got this bruin on Tuesday morning before he left to go with his sister and mother to Williamsport for her surgery. (Ma is doing fine and will be moving to a nursing home nearby for a few weeks of rehab tomorrow!)

Now this girl isn`t the biggest bear in the woods I`m sure, but she sure was a trophy for hubby, since she was his first bear AND he took her with a bow. She weighed in around 150 live weight, which isn`t too shabby. We had a WCO come out and do what they do with bears when the stations are set up during rifle season. He pulled a tooth and measured her. We had a nice chat with the fellow when he was here. After letting her hang for a day yesterday we had the fun job of skinning her out for a rug.

Mister has lots of experience from his trapping days with raccoons and such, but he`s never done a bear for a rug. I`ll make sure to show you all how the rug looks when it comes back from the taxidermist. As for the skinless bear, you don`t want to see it. It looks like some sort of zombie dog from a horror movie! We did keep some of the tenderloins, so that will be a new taste experience!

What else is new? The writing for NaNoWriMo is coming along really well and I`m hoping to have reached my goal within the next few days. Then hopefully I can devote a bit more time to my poor dusty blog. Oh! This weekend we`re going to be butchering our meat turkeys for Thanksgiving, so I plan to take my camera along and show y`all how we dress out our holiday bird! I can already taste it….*Drifts off into carbohydrate overload fantasy*

So, that`s the news from the hillside farm, what`s new on your spread?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Where The Wild Eyelashes Roam

Howdy gang, drop on down and I`ll grab the pot. The coffee pot I mean, not the weed pot. Who the heck needs me being any dopier than I usually am?!

The other day I was pondering. I sometimes ponder in odd places, like the grocery store or the drug store or while driving. This time I was pondering while I was drying off after a nice hot bath one evening. It came to me as I was applying some moisturizer. I stood at the sink, in my Iron Man lounge pants and a red matching tank top, minus my glasses, so I was on tip-toe with my nose about an inch from the looking glass. I stopped applying face cream and gaped at my eyelashes. Now I know I`ve mentioned before how they seem to have disappeared. What perplexed me was where they could have gone. I don`t ever find any on my pillow case, although with all the dog and cat hair it might be hard to differentiate, but I don`t seem to have eyelashes stuck to my lips when I wake up.

Where could they be going, I`ve been wondering. Eyelashes just don`t one day decide to pack up and leave town, do they? Where would they go if they did? Would they hitchhike to someone else`s eyelids? That hardly seems feasible. Maybe they go to some exotic locale to lie in the sun and sip on drinks with paper umbrellas while they discuss the merits of different mascara manufacturers, or bemoan those dreaded eyelash curlers. That also, upon further reflection, didn`t seem to be a viable answer.

Then, as I was slowly rubbing moisturizer on my neck I discovered where my eyelashes have moved to. They didn`t go to the Florida Keys or Mexico or even Arizona where it’s hot but dry, nope! They had simply shifted to a new neighborhood under my chin. I have to assume that this new stomping ground is to their liking, since they seem to be growing like weeds down there, like they used to when they still resided on my upper eyelids. Sure, they did leave a forwarding address of short lashes but it would have been nice to have been notified of this odd move beforehand.

You know, just a small note saying something like-

Dear Vicki,

We are tired of hanging out over your eyes and wish to live under your chin. It`s less irritating down there, and shady as well! Please don`t buy any more mascara, unless you wish to darken us as we chill out under your chin. Oh, we have heard rumors that your leg hair is thinking of moving into our new neighborhood. We hate to be judgmental, but we feel your upper lip would be a much better place for those leg hairs that used to need shaving weekly but now only require a razor every two months. Thank you for your cooperation and years of lengthening and thickening. Tell the new hair on your upper lip we said hello! Enjoy your post-menopausal years!


Your Eyelashes

PS-Do keep in mind that we are not fond of razors or tweezers or wax. We do, though, think brightly colored beads braided into us would be most festive come the holiday season! Tatty bye!

Darn pity I thought as I reached for Mister`s razor in the medicine cabinet. They had written such a nice letter too.

Also, I`d like to give a big yodel of welcome to Kate Spencer! Welcome aboard, Kate!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Great Milk-Bone Dilemma

It had to happen eventually.

Yesterday morning, around four-fifteen A.M. (Way before I had enough java juice into me to make my brain function properly), we experienced ‘The Great Milk-Bone Dilemma’. Mister had just left for work and I had stumbled out into the living room muttering ‘Brains’, my left slipper missing and in the mouth of a certain Black Lab. All three dogs were doing the Pee-Pee dance at the door. I removed my slipper from the mouth of the black lab, so it didn`t end up lost in the weeds, shoved the soggy footgear onto my right foot, (It was early, don`t judge me) rearranged slipper to correct foot then pushed the door open. Out they went like they were holiday shoppers and it was Black Friday at Toys `R Us. Also one yellow cat snuck out, I assume hidden under the belly of one of the Labs, since he can`t hide successfully under the beagle. Too low of an undercarriage you see.

I made my way to the pot, poured, creamed and sugared and waited. As I waited I sipped and tried to understand why I had been dreaming about being on the Enterprise. It was a pretty good dream, what there was of it. Number One was showing me to the holo-deck for some reason. Maybe I was planning on reliving the battle of Troy? Who knows? Anydoodles, I stopped wondering why I dream the things I do and went to the door to let the three dogs back in. The foursome, me and the trio of eager canines, tripped to the cupboard and opened the door. Well, I tripped and opened the door. Stifling a yawn I reached into the box of Milk-Bones and found only one snack. Oh dear. I gave the three dogs a worried look as I pulled the lone doggie biscuit out. I had forgotten to buy dog snacks! That is nearly as bad as forgetting to buy cat nubbies!

“Uhm, guys, we have a problem,” I said, turning around to see three dogs waiting with expectant looks in their brown eyes. “We only have one bone and three dogs.”

I don`t think they saw the difficulty because math isn`t their strong suit.

“I can break it in half but that still leaves one dog out,” I told them. Poe shuffled a sneaky look down at Tinker. “Why shouldn`t Tinker get half?” I asked the aged yellow Lab. “Is it because he`s shorter than you two girls or because he`s a guy?”

She rolled her eyes as if the answer should be obvious.

“Okay, well we`re not discriminating against gender. So, which one of you three has misbehaved the worst in the past day?” I asked. Six eyes moved nervously around the room. They weren`t going to cop to anything it seemed. I frowned. They wagged their tails. This was too complicated a mental task with only four swigs of coffee in my bloodstream!

What to do, what to do I ruminated. As I stood there deliberating, the three dogs really turned on the charm. You all know that look. I was torn. Then I snapped the bone in half and their eyebrow whiskers rose in anticipation and their ears perked up. Except for Tinker. His ears are too long and droopy to perk up, although they do hang nicely in his gravy dog food every night.

“Tell you what I`m going to do,” I said and reached into the cupboard with my left hand, “Two of you get a biscuit and one of you will get a cookie!”

They looked unimpressed. “A human cookie,” I added with a smile. “Now, who wants the Milk-bone and who wants the human cookie?” I inquired, pleased as punch to have figured out a solution to the great dilemma. Poe shot Tinker another bad look. Tinker licked his chops. Trinity dropped the sneaker she had been holding.

Hmmm, guess this one was going to be tougher than I thought I sighed. I took the only available option my sleepy brain could come up with at four-fifteen in the morning. Each dog got a sugar cookie, the broken biscuit went back into the box and I made sure I stopped and bought another box of Milk-Bone`s before I went to my luncheon date with two of my fellow lady scribes.

Talk about a crisis neatly averted!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Hobgoblin Goat Queen

The Hobgoblin Goat Queen


It was Halloween eve down in the goat barn

And the old mama does had prepared quite a yarn

They`d made up a grand tale to make their kids scream

`Bout a spooky grim wraith called the Hobgoblin Goat Queen

As the moon fell behind the nude limbs of the trees

Their kids all came in and fell down to their knees

A cold chilly wind howled through the barn eaves

It rattled the doors and rustled dead leaves

Every kid in that barn Nubian, LaMancha and Sable

We`re hunkered down tight in their comfortable stable

Then out of the herd stepped great, great-grandma Fawn

Her brown fur was sparse and her front teeth long gone

She cleared her long throat and coughed up a cud

Her ancient old eyes chilled those wee kids goat blood

“This tale that we tell has been told `oft before

It`s considered quite factual in noble goat lore

On Halloween night when the human kids trick

For treats that would make any caprine kid quite sick

We goats stay inside safe and snug in our homes

This night is when the Hobgoblin Goat Queen roams

Now the humans don`t see her meandering near

They`re too busy with costumes and candy I fear

But we goats don`t care for such silly old things

Because only we goats can hear those bat wings

You`ll know when the Hobgoblin Goat Queen is quite near

You`re hooves will tingle and your ears will feel queer

You`ll inhale a smell that is rank and offensive

Then you`ll hear a deep blat that will leave you quite pensive

And just when you`re sure your heart can`t bear anymore

That Hobgoblin Goat Queen will leap over the door!”

At that very instant a most terrible sight

Jumped over the barn door and caused a great fright

Every kid in that barn let out a loud bray

And buried their heads deeply into the hay

The does then all laughed like some hens like to cluck

For the specter was none other than Auron the buck

He had gone to great lengths to add to the fright

His head was all cobwebbed, his beard painted white

The kids slowly peeked from amid the hay chaff

Then one kid by one they started to laugh

So be very careful when you leave your safe home

For the Hobgoblin Goat Queen may be ready to roam

Keep far from the goat barns that you may pass

Just to be safe and cover your *Insert word that rhymes with pass here*

Now of course I don`t know if old Fawn`s story`s true

But would this sweet goatherder ever fib to you?


Poetry by V.L. Locey

Happy Halloween!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

First Snow & NaNoWriMo

Good Friday morning gang, drop on down and I`ll grab some mugs.

I hope the past week has smiled down upon you and yours! It`s been a long, tiring week for Mister and I. He`s been on ten hour shifts and rolling out at four in the morning is starting to wear him down, and me as well. Thank goodness the weekend is coming, we can both use some rest! Not that there`ll be much resting, I`m sure. He`ll be up to go hunting and I`m already slated to run my child hither and yon (Which is just on the other side of the Marsh rumor has it) in order to help her with her chorus fundraising.

So this is a warning in advance for family members who read along. Be prepared for the puppy eyes from your niece when we show up! This fundraiser will pay for an overnight trip to Washington D.C. for the kids. Mister asked what going to D.C. had to do with chorus when he saw the booklets. We got the usual teenaged shrug from my child so I suggested that perhaps they would sing ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’?

What else? Well, as the header says NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is about to descend upon we writers.


This event is run by the Office of Lights and Letters and encourages writers to pen a novel in thirty days, the goal being 50,000 words by the end of November. I have once again signed up to participate and plan to use this year’s event to get a large portion of the second novel in my ‘Gods & Goats’ series done. So, if anyone out there is also participating, give me a holler! I admit I`m really keyed up to start the second book, there`s just SO much to cover and so many fun things I have planned for y`all!

I will try my darnedest to keep my blog posts updated but if I slack off in both writing and reading other blogs, I apologize in advance. Since I`m chatting about my obsession with writing, the novel that’s done is coming along well. I now have the second round of edits back and am hoping to have that chore completed before NaNo kicks off on the first.*Crosses fingers* The artwork is coming along nicely and should be quite fun and quirky with a homespun feel, which is what I was hoping for.

That covers the book and NaNo news, so what else do I have to pass along? *Ponders and sips java*

Oh, there`s this that blew in yesterday.

Uh-huh, that`s snow. I was less than impressed to see this arrive so early. Along with lows in the twenties this is a taste of winter that I wasn`t particularly hungry for.

On the goat front all is settling down in the barn. Auron seems a tad weary though. The other day Mister and I had to laugh at the poor, bedraggled man. He had three does in heat at once. Talk about not knowing whether to poop or wind your watch! He literally didn`t know which way to turn with three lovely ladies all vying for his attention at the same time. We had to snicker at him and his predicament! The Sable and LaMancha does over at my buddy Marcia`s are doing good. Two have been romanced by their chosen fellows. We`re still waiting on Calliope but she had come into heat two days before they went over, so it will be another week or so until she and her beau meet. Then we`ll be able to bring them home and that will be that for this breeding season.

Well, guess I`ve bent your ears for long enough this morning. I had best get my rump in gear and head to the grocery store. Before I forget, which I do very easily, a big yodel of welcome to Bri Clark! Welcome to the hillside farm, Bri!

Have a great weekend gang!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Nursing Home List

Come on in and have a fresh cuppa gang!

The other day I was meandering about, reading my favorite blogs, when I came across a post by a good friend of mine, Michele Strangis Stefanides on her blog ‘Life is short - Write it all down.'Michele is a member of my two writing groups, a published children`s author and one heck of a great and funny lady! On this particular day she had posted a list of things that she wishes those who may be taking care of her in a nursing home to know. I roared with laughter at her list and thought to myself, ‘Vicki, you need to make one of those too!’

So I did. Below you will find my wishes for those who may be left with the pleasant chore of keeping me happy in my dotage. Please do note that I am already a particular woman and that, I`m sure, once I hit seventy I`ll be even more particular and far less subdued. I may, in fact, grow vocal and be willing to discuss personal things that would never have been discussed previously. Or, I may just be me with silver hair and an offbeat view of things, who knows?

Okay, here is my list for any future caregivers.


I like classic rock and metal. Do not EVER come into my room and turn on Billy Joel. I will grow angry and will commence to say bad words and wave my cane at you in a threatening manner. Metallica, KISS, Rob Zombie, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, ZZ Top and Lynryd Skynyrd will be fine, thank you. Avenged Sevenfold, Nickelback, Godsmack and Led Zeppelin are also good musical choices. A poster of Sully Erna from Godsmack would not be looked upon unfavorably. If he is shirtless in this poster, so much the better!

I prefer to watch TV shows that do not deal with celebrities or reality. Do NOT turn on any television shows that deal with stars dancing, singing or other such nonsense unless it`s Simmons Family Jewels. Gene Simmons and his family are the only accepted people in the reality show genre. Do not allow any hunting shows to play either. I have watched over a billion hours of hunting shows and do not wish to see any more in my golden years. If my husband is in the same room with me, then slip him some sleeping powder in his Metamucil shake.

Also, cartoons are fine but they must be good cartoons. And by good cartoons I mean anything I watched when I was a kid. Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry will keep me merry and pleased and humming along. Any of the new stuff will make me cranky and may result in me chasing you down the hall using my walker as a weapon.

Movies are fine, I adore movies. Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Rocky Horror Picture Show and any film with Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey Jr. are guaranteed to keep me silent and placated in my lift chair for hours. If you place a spaghetti western in, I cannot say that you will not be hit upside the head with a bedpan.

I love to read. I`ll be a happy elderly camper if I am given access to books. These books must deal with hot and spicy bedroom antics, Greek gods, vampires with black daggers or werewolves that have wide and hairy chests. If you are a male attendant, using your powerful upper body to show me how the dark hero looks will be received most favorably. Again, if my husband is sharing my room, the Metamucil/sleeping powder trick can be used here as well.

I like my food to be simple food. I also like plenty of it. If you place a plate in front of me that has a sprig of parsley and some tiny little two ounce slab of meat, I will grow irritable. Do not serve me salad as a side dish. Give me potatoes in any form, pasta under any kind of sauce and a fresh glass of goat milk, not that watery skim stuff they sell in the grocery store. If necessary, I will bring a goat with me to supply my milk needs. She can stay in my room and Mister can milk her, if he`s not out cold from all the doctored shakes he may receive. I also adore Milano cookies, just in case you need to placate me at some time.

I will require my weekly comic books as well. Make mine Marvel, thank you. If you forget and buy some DC comics I may grow rather testy and tell you where you can cram Hal Jordan and/or Bruce Wayne. Indie comics are okay, although they must be either Hellboy or Darkness. Don`t think that I won`t know if you try to slide me Deathstroke as opposed to Deadpool. I will, trust me.

I will also require a laptop so that I can write. This is my last and most important stipulation. Do not even think of shirking on this one, or you will have an irate old woman on your hands.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Word of Mouth - Mermaid

Hey there gang, come on in and we`ll pass along more word of mouth! This time around we`ll be chatting about the novel ‘Mermaid’ by Carolyn Turgeon. I had the pleasure of meeting, and having my copy of her book signed by Ms. Turgeon at a recent author event at my local indie bookstore ‘From My Shelf Books’ in Wellsboro. She is a warm and delightful woman and her fey spirit shows in this latest novel. Ms. Turgeon also has a book out titled ‘Godmother’ which deals with the true story of Cinderella`s fairy godmother. I plan to grab that one as well on my next trip to Kevin and Kasey`s shop. Let`s get into a little more about ‘Mermaid’ though, shall we?

I know most of us are familiar with the classic Hans Christian Andersen fable ‘The Little Mermaid’ and also, many of us have seen the Disney movie based on Mr. Andersen`s classic tale. ‘Mermaid’ is a retelling of this beloved story but it has a definite twist that is darn ingenious. In Ms. Turgeon`s telling we get the story from two sides, the mermaid Lenia and the princess Margrethe. As per the original story, Lenia dreams of the world above the sea and one day rescues a handsome man from a shipwreck. She falls for him instantly as she carries him to shore. Now, this is where we get a nice little twist, because it`s at this time that the Princess Margrethe is brought into the tale. While standing in a convent garden, where she is hiding from her father`s enemies in the South, she witnesses the mermaid coming to shore with a half-drowned man. By the time the princess reaches the shore, the mermaid is gone.

As Margrethe nurses the stranger back to health she discovers that she is falling in love with him, and that he is the son of her father`s Southern enemy. The princess feels that Lenia brought the prince to her for a reason so she devices a plan that will hopefully bring peace to her shattered land. Of course while all of this is occurring on land, beneath the waves Lenia has come to a decision about this prince that has stolen her heart. She decides to do whatever is needed to return to him, even if it means giving up her legs, her home and her voice.

Ms. Turgeon spins a clever and perfectly written love triangle that keeps you riveted until the end of the book. The characters are well crafted and I found myself torn between who should win the prince`s heart. I felt deeply for both young women as they experienced their first love. The plot moves along at a lovely clip, not too rushed or too slow and the details are glorious! I was especially drawn into the realm under the sea that was so artfully crafted by the author. This is a heartbreaking and dark story though, make no mistake about it. For anyone thinking this is a little child`s book think again! There is pain, suffering and sex. The love scenes are nicely done I`d like to add, since that is an important aspect for me, the steamy lover of spicy affairs that I am!

I found ‘Mermaid’ to be a joyful and at times tearful read. Anytime a book can take me to the summit and then pull me to the depths of emotion I have to applaud the author and make sure I pass along the good word. I highly recommend ‘Mermaid’ to anyone that is looking for a love story that is poignant and compelling and highly imaginative.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Liners-10/19

"Are you sure our Push-Me-Pull-You Halloween costume is on right?"

As always, everyone is invited to play along! Simply put your one-liner for the above photo in the comments section. Also a big yodel of welcome to MaSugar32! Welcome to the hillside farm!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Love Is In The Air

And so was something else! Howdy gang, come on in and we`ll sit a spell!

I hope everyone had a nice weekend? Ours was damp but nice just the same. We seem to be stuck in this funky weather pattern here in the Laurel highlands. We get a couple nice days then we get a few days of rain. I hope this pattern changes before the really cold air arrives or we`ll be up to our keister`s in snow! But enough with the snow worries, right? This weekend marked the beginning of ‘The Love Fest’ for our goats. Yes indeed, this is the weekend that my buck Auron has patiently (If you call screaming in Nubian at the top of your lungs patient) for weeks – Nay, months – for.

First we did a clean-out of the goat barn because once the white stuff piles up, we can`t haul the manure. And secondly, everyone likes a nice clean place for romance, am I right?

Some of ladies were wondering why we were snazzing things up.

After the barn was clean and smelled of fresh bedding things were all in place for caprine lovey-dovey. Sunday morning we rounded up the two Sable`s and the LaMancha. Those three ladies had reservations at my friend’s farm with some handsome fellows of their own breed. The love train is pulling into the station!

Miss picked a fine looking guy for her beloved LaMancha Freya, and this strapping fellow will be the one to make whoopee with the Sable does. I gave Jennifer a firm speech about accepting the gentleman`s suit and waiting to come home and give her attentions to my Nubian buck. This is the strapping Sable buck that Jennifer is slated to romance.

The arrival of new girls really got this pen of bucks attention!

She has been known to do this in the past. If she listens to my words or not remains to be seen but she had better! Not that I don`t enjoy the love children as much as I do the papered ones, but for showing purposes, the truer the kids are to breed standards the better. And that last little Oopsie looks decidedly more like a Nubian than a Sable with his long ears.

While we were over at Marcia`s Miss took the time to cuddle with a new addition to Marcia`s barn.

Ain`t he just adorable?? She also had a litter of kittens that I was eying, and smooching, but I didn`t come home with one! It was tough though let me tell you. I can easily see myself being an old woman with sixteen cats inside the house and a herd of goats outside. Heck, I`m already half-way there!

When we returned home it was time to lead the big man and his half-Nubian/half-Sable sidekick down to the barn. Actually, it was more a case of Auron leading Mister! Ares followed along, wondering what all the fuss was about. Silly wethers I`m sure Auron was thinking. Well, maybe he wasn`t thinking about the wether that kept him company all summer. His mind was on something else I am sure.

Sadly, I didn`t get any pictures of Auron and the ladies. The darn batteries on my camera died. *Frowns* I`ll try to snap some over the next few days. There is nothing funnier than a buck with his tongue hanging out sideways! Or maybe it`s just me and my offbeat sense of humor? Also I really want to apologize about the quality of my pictures lately. My old, and beloved, digital camera got broken. *Gives icy look at Mister and Miss* during a round of rough-housing and I ran to buy another one. This camera I have now is a cheapy and it shows. I plan on asking Santa for a new one though, so hopefully those images will improve after the holidays.

So what did you guys and gals do over the weekend??

Friday, October 14, 2011

Word of Mouth-The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Time for a little Word of Mouth again my friends! It surely does seem that my mouth runs a lot, doesn`t it? This time around we`ll be chatting about the crime drama ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ written by the late Stieg Larsson.

Crime drama`s aren`t my usual genre. I`m more a Para/Rom kind of girl, but every so often I like to take a break from the vampires, werewolves and other assorted sexy type things. After hearing much praise about this book I picked it up one day when I was at my local indie bookstore. Now that I`ve torn through it I am very glad I did.

The story centers around the mystery of Harriet Vanger, a member of one of Sweden`s wealthiest families. Harriet disappeared over forty years ago. After all the those years, Harriet`s aged uncle seeks to finally try to discover exactly what happened to his niece. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist that has just been convicted in a libel suit, to investigate the now cold case. Mikael is aided by a young woman, Lisbeth Salander, a tattooed, pierced and very troubled computer prodigy. What they discover as they dig deeply into the past and the dark secrets of the Vanger family is truly frightening and mesmerizing.

I won`t go into detail about the mystery so I don`t spoil anything for anyone, but it is a shocker let me just say that. Mister Larsson has crafted a wickedly suspenseful book. It is wonderfully plotted and perfectly paced. It`s sexy, darker than hell, shocking, complex and engrossing. Once you pick it up you cannot put it back down.

The characters are fascinating and very human. They have huge foibles and yet I was drawn to them, especially Lisbeth, although Mikael is quite the investigative reporter. There was something so compelling about Lisbeth and her gritty world that hooked me immediately. The background setting of Sweden was chilling and fascinating and added just the right touch to the mood of this psychodrama. This may be the best crime drama I have ever read. Everything is just so tight I can`t find one bad thing to say about the book.

On my next sojourn to my indie bookstore I plan to grab the next novel ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ so that I can see what happens next with Mikael and Lisbeth. If you like a book that keeps you up all night, then do pick up this debut novel from Mr. Larsson.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ears, Artists and Fall Fun

Good morning gang! The pots fresh and the sugar bowl and creamer are filled, come on in and have a sit-down!

I hope everyone had a good weekend? Ours here on the hillside farm was busier than usual but it was fun busy, which is quite a bit more fun than work busy. Friday afternoon my buddy from high school dropped in for a visit. It`s so much fun to catch up with Judi and George and spend time strolling down memory lane. Although, there are some memories that I wish my eager-eared child didn`t overhear. Why is it that when you`re calling teenagers to come do some work they can`t hear well, but when someone is telling tales about you when you were sixteen and chasing after that good-looking blond guy up the block, those teen ears pop open wide?

As I was gabbing away with George and Judi Mister and Miss ran over to the high school to cheer on our team for the homecoming game. They won!! Yippee!! Go CV!! Of course the homecoming game means that the semi-formal homecoming dance is the next night. We had done our shopping a few weeks ago and so that freed us up for a jaunt to Elmira Saturday to attend my first ever comic con!

Man howdy, was I excited! My comic man, Jared, had worked his butt off to set it up and it was a huge success! There were artists galore and writers selling their independent comics. Also I got to meet and chat with Khoi Pham, an artist from Marvel comics. He was a delightful man, witty and pleasant and signed one of the comics he had drawn for me. Well, not just for me, there was a long line to meet and greet a famous artist of course. Here is a sample of his work for you non-comic folks. This is actually the cover of the comic that he autographed for me -

I know, right? He is REALLY talented. I would have shown you pictures of Mr. Pham and me as we chatted but I gave my daughter the camera and asked her to snap a few shots. When I was skipping – I mean walking to the car where Mister was waiting (All that comic nerdiness is hard for him to handle at times) I asked her if she got some good shots. She blinked at me. What she was looking at through the viewfinder I cannot say, probably cute comic guy fans, but it was not me or that Marvel artist. Kids. Sheesh. Aside from the lack of pictures it was a great time. Thanks to Jared for giving us fans such a wonderful day!

After we got home from the comic con we got busy with chores and Miss then got herself all loverly for the homecoming dance. She had a good time we were told on the ride home.

I spent Sunday doing the housework I had tossed aside for important things, like comic cons. I got the bed stripped and then commenced to do five loads of wash, run the vacuum, clean the cat box and whittle down more of the edits on my book. I think after I post this I`ll get back to fixing my boo-boos and hopefully by the time Mister gets home today, the first round of corrections should be done! *Crosses fingers, toes and eyes* Damn….it`s hard to type when you`re all crossed up.

So, how was your weekend?