Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pudgy Poom

I do believe Poom's getting a tummy.  I've been putting him outside when I leave in the morning and this evening discovered that he'd figured out how to work the cat door.  Clever kitty!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


School continues to take front row center of my life right now.  I've been at this long enough now to know that this is always the way it is at the beginning of the school year -- and yet, every year it feels more all-consuming than the year before.  Whether this is how it really is or simply my perception when I'm in the middle of the soup of the first few weeks of school is anyone's guess.  All that I do know is that I'm having to paddle mighty hard just to keep my head (barely) above water.

It doesn't help that the weather is still very warm.  It's cooled down from daytime temperatures in the low 100's, but it's still in the 90's, which means that I'm having to spend several hours watering every afternoon/evening when I get home.  I'm generally not back inside until around 8:00 every evening.  That leaves only time for making dinner (such as it is) and then getting ready for bed.  I comfort myself that soon the initial rush of school will be behind me and I can settle into a more comfortable routine.  But I'm not there yet.

As the seed  heads mature, they droop farther and farther down
The sunflowers in the pumpkin/corn patch are stunning.  Some of them are now over 12 feet tall -- they loom above me; faces hanging down over me like benign but curious aliens. 

A fat praying mantis has set up shop in this one

Sunflowers are one of my all-time favorite flowers and I can't imagine having a garden without them. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Poor Orphan Garage Cat Colony

Suddenly it's Sunday night -- where did the weekend go?  I drove home Friday afternoon, dead tired and with my head jam-packed and whirling with school, school, school.  As I turned up our little road, there, at the head of our driveway, grazed two delinquent cows who had broken out of our neighbor's pasture.  They were safe and in no danger of going anywhere, so I said "Hi," and drove on up to the house.  Bruce was outside watering the herb garden by the house.  He got a kiss and I staggered in to change my clothes -- a minute later he yelled for me LOUD.  He and a fat little rattlesnake, looking mildly irritated at having been squirted with the hose, were having a staring contest with each other (as snakes have no eyelids, the snake was winning).  Bruce and I have the rescue rattlesnake routine down:  I get the snake tongs and a lard bucket from the barn while he and the snake eyeball each other. Then he nabs the snake with the tongs and lowers it into the bucket.  This particular snake got relocated to the far corner of our property, where we sincerely hope it remains. 

And thus began my weekend.  Although I spent a lot of it working on school stuff, all the small dramas of Frogpond diverted my attention -- in a good way. 

Poom demanding his vittles

Poom is settling in more and more.  We've taken to calling him Poom-Bot because the name seems to fit.  As he feels stronger and healthier, he's becoming more and more spunky (read:  obnoxious).  At mealtimes he's at his most manic -- although filling out and no longer starving, he's still very much driven by a fear of not receiving his next meal.  This will, no doubt, pass; but for now the other cats give him a wide berth at feeding time. 

The four of them have taken to eating in the garage (where Max originally used to have all his meals).  They complain of being neglected orphans, but nothing's wrong with their appetites either. 

All Frogpond cats continue to do a mighty fine job of eating us out of house and home.  What troopers!

And, while some noses may still be out of joint by our newest addition, I think we're well on our way to melding everyone together again into one jolly, dysfunctional Frogpond family. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Upper, Right Hand Corner

Thursday's here -- and not a moment too soon.  This first week of school is always a killer.   Monday and Tuesday passed in the traditional whirl, but I was a little surprised by how easily everything was going for this first week. 

However, by yesterday afternoon I finally  began unravelling.  I knew this because I lost my patience when giving out directions to my classes and then having to repeat them.  And repeat them.  And repeat them.  The directions involved the complex task of writing their names on the upper right hand corner of their papers and placing the date underneath.  I showed them exactly where their name goes on my own sample paper under the document camera.  I explained how it was important that everyone's name be in the same place so that I didn't have to waste even a moment hunting  for it.  Then we got to work writing our names in that elusive upper, right hand corner while I patrolled the desks, checking to see that they were following directions.  I saw a name in the middle of the top of a paper, with the date beside it.  I smiled patiently and then held it up to show the class where not to put their names and dates.  I demonstrated again where they were to place their names.  The students nodded and looked intelligent.  Then they looked down at their papers...and proceeded to scrawl their names in many, many other places...

OK, so I've been doing this for 30 years now and know that we will pass this huge bump in the road that we encounter (unfailingly) every single year in the first week of school.  I know that my students are not stupid and that I'm not a horribly ineffective teacher.  It's mostly just that after a summer of running around barefoot, my class of nine-year-olds is not in a place where such mundane directions as where to place their names matters or even registers in their brains.  At least, not yet.  It will -- and very, very soon.  My mental survival depends on it.

This afternoon we have our first school lockdown drill.  I'll be sure to let you know how that goes...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Plum becomes Poom

Plum's come a long way in 16 days. 
Day 1
Day 16 (Look at that little belly!)

As Plum's gotten fatter, sleeker, cleaner and happier, he's also gotten spunkier --  Arby would say more obnoxious.  Much.  Arby's right, of course

Now that's what I'm talking about!

To learn why Plum is now known as Poom, please watch the following video:


Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of School

The first day of school 2012 is now behind us -- all 50 students and their two teachers made it through with flying colors.  I can already tell that this is going to be a magnificent year. 

That said, I'm off to bed.  When I got home in the afternoon, I watered the orchard garden, the upper gardens and the shrubs on the hillside; fed and watered the ducks, ducklings, geese, chickens and horse.  Once inside, I fed the cats, and then stepped (barefoot) into a slippery mound of cat barf in the hall, hopped on one foot to the kitchen where I washed the other foot off in the sink.  When I went into the laundry room to get a rag to clean the floor with, I splashed cold water on an angry mouse who'd fallen in the laundry tub.  I caught the mouse in a paper bag and let it out on the hillside.  And then I lay down for awhile. I was exhausted; not from my first day of school, but from sorting out all the misadventures that occurred here while I was away.

Goodnight, World!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Day Before the First Day of School

I have no time for much of anything but getting ready for the two classes of 4th graders marching in tomorrow.  No time Frogpond photos and I watered the trees on the dam tonight by the light of a fading sky.  I worked most of the day yesterday in my classroom (with help from Becky and Bruce) and spent today lesson planning and shopping for school supplies. 

I'm pretty much ready.  My toenails are painted.  The laundry is done.  I've written out my lesson plans.  I bought fish tanks for the two 4th grade classrooms.  Gradebooks put together.  Test results analyzed.  Pish -- I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Almost.

It will be a relief when the first day of school is behind me. 

However, I'm very happy and excited to be back to teaching.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Home and School

Plum's home!  He arrived in his new carrier, wearing a plastic "the cone of shame" around his neck.  We'd decided to have him recuperate in my office/guest bedroom instead of letting him back in the barn.  He was a little nervous, being inside a house (I think for the first time), but what really upset him was that thing around his neck.  We watched him unhappily bumping around the room with it for a few minutes and then took it off.  So much for following doctor's orders.  However, Plum's being good about not worrying his tiny incision (there are no stitches to pull at), so I think we made a good call on that one.

The temperature hit 101 degrees yesterday, so I'm glad that Plum is inside where it's cool.  No pictures this morning -- I'm off for my first day of district and school meetings.  My classroom is still looking very, very rough.  Actually, it's a disaster zone in there right now.  I decided to do some moving around of furniture and daughter Becky and I are also putting up new bulletin boards.  Stacks of dusty books, papers and other educational junk are heaped up all over the place.  The room is a shambles and actually looks much worse than it did last week -- but this is pretty much I do things every year.  Yesterday afternoon, our principal popped his head in to ask me a question, looked around and innocently (with an evil gleam in his eye) asked, "Wow - what happened here?"  I suppose I could have lobbed a dusty book at him, but (being of sterling character) didn't.  Both of us know that every year, when the students march in on the first day, the room is somehow, miraculously ready. 

Last night I didn't get home until 8:30.  Bruce had a glass of wine and a spaghetti dinner waiting for me.  Today other daughter, Liz, will come to help me put more order in the classroom.  Tonight is our Back to School Night, where the parents come to see the classrooms and get an intro to the coming school year.  My teaching partner, Sue, and I do our presentations together because I teach all the 4th grade language arts and she does the math.  Her room looks pretty good right now, so we'll be meeting in there.  My classroom door will be locked, the lights off, and the curtains drawn.

By Sunday night my room will be ready.  I'll post pictures to prove it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hot (but not Stinkingly)

Miracle of miracles!  When I got home from working in my classroom yesterday, the temperature was only 99 degrees!  Not quite grab a coat weather, but when the forecast was for 104, reason to celebrate. 

We even had a few sprinkles from the scrim of transluscent clouds that were helping to block the sun.  While I was watering, I couldn't figure out how droplets from the hose were managing to find their way to the top of my head.  It took a few minutes to realize that they were dropping down from the sky.  I'm brilliant!

Just before the sun set, there was even was the barest hint of a rainbow.  You have to squint your eyes in order to see it in the picture -- but it's there.

I didn't realize that a very small lizard was sitting inside the dry birdbath, so when I filled it he got a bath.  I think that he didn't mind too much, because is remained in the water with just his head above the surface for about 30 seconds.  It looked like a teeny-tiny alligator in there bobbing his head.  Naturally, he zipped out when he noticed I'd pointed my camera at him.  Cute little guy, though.

It was a subdued sunset, but lovely nonetheless. 

Today's supposed to reach 101 degrees, but even that's not so bad (better than 108 - it's all relative).  Fingers crossed that today is like yesterday.

Plum only arrived last week, but when I passed the tack room where he's been camping out I expected him to be there.  Yup, I've already grown attached. 

Bruce is on his way right now to pick him up from the vet's.  We never actually spoke to Dr. Mike, who performed the neutering operation, so he thought that Plum's horrible condition was due to our lack of care.  Aaack!!!  Dr. Mike is a very good vet (he's the same doctor who put Sarah down with such kindness last autumn) so he contacted us about this -- his voice mail was diplomatic, but we could tell he was determined to do right by Plum.  The office staff and other vet quickly let him know that Plum was a rescue who we'd only had a week and things were soon straightened out.  That was an immense relief -- I hated that anyone (even for a minute) would think that we would starve a creature in our care.  I also greatly respect Dr. Mike for making the tough call to follow up on what he originally thought was animal neglect. 

Bruce had a nice chat with him this morning prior to leaving to pick up Plum.  Dr. Mike ended by saying that Plum was a very lucky cat.  Bruce smiled and replied that we were also lucky to have Plum.  I agree.

It'll be good to get him back home where he belongs.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stinking Hot

I was on a roll yesterday when listing my litany of what constitutes stinking hot weather, but stopped too soon by miles.  So I'm now adding...

Last night's sunset (Bruce's picture)
Stinking hot is so hot that, as I'm watering the first of six garden beds, the water reduces to a trickle and then I'm left standing holding a limp hose while the sun beats down on my head.

Stinking hot is so hot that the well is still recharging at 11:00 pm and the only water we have is in the small tank on the hill and two small plastic jugs in the house.

Stinking hot is filling the duck waterers from the tank on the hill.

Stinking hot is sitting in the house watching the Olympics closing ceremonies while coated with the filth and sweat of a day spent outside working in Frogpond dirt and not being able to take a shower.

Stinking hot is Bruce and I (along with three dogs, a cat and a curious horse) making the long walk down to the end of the lower pasture in the dark to check on how the tank is filling.

Stinking hot is shining a flashlight down into the top of the tank and discovering that it's only a fourth full.

Stinking hot is finally giving up on our getting water that night and bringing a pot of water into the shower and doing my best to wash off the worst of the day's grime.

Stinking hot is the water gurgling back into the taps just as I'm drying off.

Stinking hot is when you've just had five days of over 100 degree heat, and the forecast is for at least five more days of the same.

Stinking hot is a forecast for a hotter day tomorrow than today.

Most of all, stinking hot is worrying and fretting about our well situation for the remainder of the summer.  Friends who live in areas with summer rain or who have city water that's always available at the turn of a handle often don't get my obsession with water or why I bite my nails after a dry winter. It's because of what's happening right now:  the water table is unable to sustain our well, the pond shrinks down to a puddle, and the garden dries up.  In short, without water, things die.

This morning I'm carefully watering the gardens I didn't get to yesterday.  Then I'll take a short shower to wash my hair before going to work in my classroom for the rest of the day.  Bruce will be calling for a water truck to fill our tank, which we'll have them do on a regular basis.  When it's stinking hot, you do what you must do in order to keep things going.

I so wish it had rained last winter.   

There -- I got it all out.  I also must add that for us this shortage of water, while a misfortune, doesn't impact our livelihood or ability to put food on the table.  We still have our day jobs and the ability to buy enough water for our needs to tide us over until next winter.  For farmers, ranchers and others who depend upon water to earn their living (or, more fundamental than that, to simply stay alive), lack of water is a disaster on multiple levels.  My heart goes out to them.

I'll admit that I've been feeling just a bit silly lately for confessing on this blog that when it rains I go out to dance in it.  That feeling's been banished:  next time it rains, joyful middle-aged me will be out there, barefoot and twirling in the raindrops.  And that's a promise.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lemonade Weather

Yesterday's high temperature was 106 degrees and today's reached 108.  If I were feeling poetic, I'd call this "lemonade weather." 

But it's too hot to feel poetic, so I think I'll just say it's stinking hot. 

So, exactly how hot is stinking hot???  I'll tell you...

Stinking hot is so hot that the chickens gather around their water pan, panting like little bewattled dogs.

Stinking hot is so hot that chickens also stand in their water pan and continue to pant.

Stinking hot is so hot that the turkey vultures are too lethargic to fly and spend the morning gazing at a pond the color of antifreeze.

Stinking hot is so hot that the Indian corn simply throws in the towel and turns to crisp.

Stinking hot is so hot that the pumpkin plants are all wilty and begging for a drink two hours after they were last watered.

Stinking hot is so hot that all three dogs disappeared under the porch to dig lairs in the cool dirt early this morning and haven't been seen since. 

All of that (and so much more) is stinking hot.  That said...

...here and there, all through Frogpond, there are those who not only endure, but thrive in this heat.


If they could speak, I think they'd call this "lemonade weather."

And they'd be right!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Plum's Grapes

Yesterday Plum discovered the tack room next to the stall he's been ensconced in . This is a much more comfortable space, with its concrete floor where he can stretch out and soak up the coolness. We're in the midst of a heat wave with the temperatures reaching 106 degrees, so he was happy to move one room over and stake claim to his new and improved kingdom.

Which made it all the more unfair when a very unwilling and yelling-all-the-way Plum made his first trip to the vet today.  It was a day of surprises for all three of us.  The biggest was that when Bruce and I lugged him in, he was a lanky, six to nine month old kitten.  When we lugged him out again, after pokings, proddings, needles, and a thermometer up the butt, he was a 1 1/2 to 2 year old adult cat.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  The boy barely tipped the scales at eight pounds, but after the nice lady vet had checked his teeth, she informed us that our kitten wasn't a kitten.  After I'd picked myself up off the floor, I asked hopefully if Plum had been already neutered.  She checked under his tail, smiled and said, "No," and then invited me to feel his nuts, which I did.  Grapes!  Petite, well-concealed grapes, to be sure, but grapes all the same. 

The second - and best - surprise was that all of his bloodwork tested negative for feline leukemia and heartworm.  We got the results six minutes after the blood was drawn (this clinic is pricey, but very, very good), so we knew where we stood before we ever left the clinic.  If he'd tested positive, I'm not sure what we'd have done...but he didn't, so I'm done thinking about that.  Clever Plum!

We left the clinic with one newly adult cat in one hand and a complimentary "New Kitten!" bag in the other.  It was pink!  The vet tech rather sheepishly handed this to me as we were leaving -- when Bruce made the appointment, he'd told them we had a kitten, so we got the "New Kitten!" bag.  Plum doesn't give a fig for anything that smells of vet.  Arby, however, has already played with the tiny pink catnip mouse and the bag of tasty treats will soon be history...

Plum has an appointment for this coming Tuesday to have his mini-grapes removed.  We opted for the overnight, full service neuter instead of the cheaper in-and-out clinic.  As small and thin as he is, we want him to have overnight care (the vet tech also offered to brush out all the stickers from his tail while he's still sedated).  He's definitely not "tom catty", but everyone's life will be a lot easier when he's been lightened a bit under his tail.  Hopefully he can then begin adjusting to life inside the house. 

When we got back from the vets and I let him out of his carrier, he stalked right back into "his" tack room and, rather grumpily, settled right back in. 

Little does he know what's in store for him next Tuesday.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Plum Settles In

Three days later: Plum's quite the resilient kitty.  Doesn't he have a noble face? 

I pulled off two more bloated ticks today, and think that he's finally free of the last of them (five in all).  He's spent most of his time behind the bins in the stall where we keep our cages and feeds.  Now that he's established a home base, I'm encouraging him to venture out a bit from the hot and stuffy barn.  I set up a cage across the stall door and he's enjoying scoping out the yard from the safety of his new perch.  When it all gets a bit too much, ie, dogs, other cats, geese or whatever, he can quickly zip back inside behind the bins.  As we're entering a heatwave (it's supposed to get up to 110 degrees by tomorrow), I'm relieved that he can get out to some light and fresh air if he chooses to.

Multi-Pass comes closer...
...and closer...

...while Plum wisely chooses to remain oblivious
Naturally, the other cats' noses are out of joint at the arrival of yet another feline. There's lot of hissing and some name calling (from a safe distance) on both sides, but no one wants to fight.  I'm confident that they'll all eventually work it all out with only a few scratched noses here and there.

The next step is to get Plum out to the vet for a complete checkup and his first shots.  He'll also be booked for the all-important surgery to have his own very small "plums" removed.  Shhh -- don't tell.

Yeah, and here we were wondering how to spend all that extra money we didn't know what to do with...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I made a startling discovery yesterday -- this is my last full week of summer break.  Without actually studying a calendar, I assumed that I had one more week sandwiched in before the new school year lurches to life.  I was extremely wrong about this.  Next Thursday we have our annual district and site teacher meetings and additional meetings and such planned for Friday too.  While it's true that all of this is scheduled for the end of the week, the real angst (other than being hit by the brick that summer is pretty much over a week sooner than expected) comes because our Back to School Night is also set for next Thursday evening.  This means that my classroom will need to be pulled together for public (ie, parent) viewing by then. And pulled together it will be -- I just thought I'd have another week before I needed to commence pulling in earnest. 

So, true to form, instead of working on school stuff, today I did Frogpond stuff:
I hauled the ladder into the orchard and picked plums off our old Santa Rosa plum tree.  The fruit is small (large marble to around ping pong ball size) and colored a blotchy sort of greeny/purple/pinky-orange.  Not terribly attractive by supermarket standards:  they look like they came from someones garden (which they did).  However,  they have rustic charm and an intense sweet/tart flavor that is addicting: after you eat one, you absolutely must reach for another.

Turning them into jam, however, is definitely labor intensive.  Today I picked them from the tree, lugged them up to the house, and then washed, pitted and chopped nine cups worth.  In a pot with several peaches (for a bit more juice) and sugar, they bubbled for about half an hour.  The house smelled heavenly.

Sealed in jars, they looked like this:

What amazing alchemy turns the greenish flesh into this gorgeous deep amber color?  Who knows.  All I do know is that cooking up eight pints of plum jam feels like magic.

On the downside, I still have half a lard bucket of plums to go.  Tomorrow.  Or the next day.

Here is the other plum that landed in my lap today.

I found this skinny little boy (a half-grown kitten, by the look of him) sprawled out on a feed sack outside the barn this morning.  He ducked into a stall when he saw me, but came out of hiding when I came in with a can of catfood and a bowl of milk.  He is the most shockingly emaciated cat I've ever seen -- skin and bones.  But such a pretty boy -- look at the lovely dapples on his side. 

He was only a little skittish -- he wanted very much to love on me, even as the food I gave him sent him over the moon.  He ate, sat on my lap, drank milk and allowed me to pull ticks off of him. 

Lord, we so don't need another cat.  But here he is, and, while we may not need him, he needs us. 

Plum of Frogpond
I'm thinking we'll name him Plum.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Twelve Years

Yesterday Bruce and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary and, saints be praised, the day was very different from our disasterous jaunt to Santa Cruz several weeks back (bumper to bumper traffic and going through hell and a day finding a place to finally park the car). 

We set our sights considerably lower for our anniversary outing.  As I had to get my blood drawn at the clinic lab, we decided to go down together to get that taken care of and then have lunch and do some shopping.  The blood draw went very quickly (no waiting!), and then we settled down for an amazing lunch at Osaka Sushi.  The meal was everything a good meal should be -- authentic, unpretentious and delicious, with quick service.  Afterwards we steeled ourselves for shopping for household staples at the Costco mega-store.  Even that was fun, with lots of reasons to laugh.

And that was our anniversary: a humble enough sort of day, and yet everything that a day spent with one's best friend for life should be. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rags (plus one)

 Here are my cleaning rags plus one "guest" rag, just washed and hanging on the line.

Rosario and Maria (Agueda's on vacation), our lovely cleaning ladies, came yesterday for their monthly reaming out of the house.  They industriously swept, mopped, scrubbed, and dusted all day long.  They also shook out rugs, washed all the windows (inside and out), cleaned up one dead mouse (hidden and stinking underneath my weaving basket), and changed the linen on the beds.  From eight in the morning until two in the afternoon they worked, only briefly stopping to eat.  Oh, and once again, they brought their wonderful homemade burritos for my lunch too. 

In view of their fabulous work ethic and because they also take such good care of me, I will never bring up that they keep grabbing one of my expensive sage green Egyptian cotton washcloths and putting it to work alongside the other rags I provide for them.  They have done this three times now.  I finally sheepishly took the precaution of washing and tucking away all of the sage green towels in the set.  At least, I thought I did -- I obviously missed one. 

Never fear; Rosario and Maria found it and once again put it through its paces as a humble rag.  It didn't seem to mind, but now it looks slightly worse for wear and smells like cleaning product. 

I'll never say a word -- they would be mortified if they knew.  (Actually, as I objectively look at this picture, I can understand why they'd look at the color and think that it has to be a rag).

Today is strangely overcast and a monsoonal storm will likely sweep through northern California this afternoon and evening.  Although any rain during this hot, dry time would be welcome, the lightning that may also come is not.  Last month we had another such storm and over 400 lightning strikes were recorded; one of which caused a nearby wildfire. 

If there's one thing we don't need around here, it's another fire this summer.  We'll be sticking close to home today, just in case. 

Arby and I are, however, enjoying the lower temperatures today -- only in  the mid 90's.  Now if we were just to get a nice rain shower with NO lightning...
My garden helper

Thursday, August 2, 2012

First Day of August

When I got home yesterday, my brain was fried.  Our little 4th grade team of three teachers worked from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the language arts benchmark tests for our grade level -- no breaks, no stopping for lunch, NO COFFEE.  We stopped for nothing, as one of us had to leave at two, and we were determined to be finished with all six assessments by then.  If we hadn't finished, we'd have to come back for another day of fun, which is something that none of us wanted to do.   We met that goal and somehow got it all done right on the nose at two.  Sort of amazing, actually. 

Fuji apple trees are thriving
When I got home, all of Frogpond was waiting for me in the sizzling August heat.

Raspberry seedling

Ripening pear

Infant cucumber

Plums ready for picking
Young blackberry plants are tied up and have finally reached their first guide wire

 The orchard garden is doing well -- much better than last year, even though it's still a struggle keeping everything watered through our ghastly summer heat.  The tree roots and canopies are transforming our rocky plot along the driveway into a micro-zone suitable for agriculture. Even the cats are finally doing their part, hunting the gophers that can gnaw down half the garden in a few short days.

Shed snake skin

We also have one or more hungry snakes who have moved in and are, I assume, dining on rodents. I've seen one lovely snake in person, so to speak. The other only left his worn-out suit of scales as a calling card.  We like our snakes fat and happy!

The first tithonia bloom
The corn/pumpkin/sunflower patch suffers more from the heat than the orchard garden as it's blasted by the sun shining full on it every afternoon.  However, it, too, is gamely hanging on.  We'll have a few pumpkins this year (at last!) as well as a number of small ears of Indian corn. 

Our largest pumpkin is now the size of a basketball

Once again at the end of a hose (glass of wine in other hand)

We're grateful to accept whatever our motley but courageous gardens offer up to us.