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Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

And then the rains came … or, turtling-up

Posted by joeabbott on September 22, 2018

2017-01-16 13.09.02With my training trip for our successful Mt. Rainier bid, I have been on the go every weekend for about half a year now. Friday approaches and I’ll have both Saturday and Sunday planned, I get through those, and back to work. Initially it was hard to overcome the inertia of winter and build up momentum to keep going: the preparing for an outing and its imageattendant details, becoming physically strong enough to maintain the pace, and ensuring gear was ready before the coming outings.


After that, it was exhilarating to be operating in a zone where I could hike, bike, or mountaineer with ease, keeping up with my friends or enjoying time with my spouse. Throughout these adventures I battled foot-pain that was unrivaled in recent years, with any trip more than 6-miles being amazingly painful. I could stop and rub my feet out, but that was a short-term fix of limited efficacy on long outings. Fortunately it was less pronounced while wearing snowshoes (which I did a lot) or biking (which I did a bit) and in late season Suzy helped me acquire some insoles that did marvels.


But, as my outings continued, so too did the mess grow in my garage, the staging area for my many adventures: 4 different pairs of boots, the same number of backpacks, multiple pairs of snowshoes, bikes, a tire pump, stoves, filters, first aid kits … you name it.

2018-07-02 12.00.28DSCF2386

And then there were the small household projects that I’d get to: putting the summer fans away in the loft, the bucket I promised to make a “sifting top” for so Suzy could clean soil in the garden to remove rocks, the stash of electronics gear, stones and sharpening tools … just a lot of the things you need for a semi-active life put on hold. A picture of my workbench might be called Still Life of a Suburban Homeowner. It all fed a treadmill of go-go-go that was energizing but starting to sap me. You see, I really do hate to live in a messy space.


And then the rains came.

Yup, I not only looked forward to them but almost needed them. Last weekend I passed on a hike due to some mild sprinkling. We got the garage mostly in order, Suzy’s stone-separating sifter was finished (sorry, love … just as it starts raining Sad smile), and we nearly completed a sign for our house numbers at the new property. Not a bad weekend. But, it didn’t rain much, just some misting and enough to hide behind the excuse of “rain”.

imageToday, however, I awoke around 5AM to glorious gushing! Trees were wind-blown to the point I heard one crack, rain would come in sheets and then buckets, and all sounds of anything but the rain were drowned out … literally. By the time I got up, around 6:30AM, the rain had slowed to a patter and the world was sufficiently saturated. As if knowing we had a new routine, Trasper, our social cat, curled up atop the fuzzy blanket on my lap as I read the paper … rather than his usual quiet mew to see what was outside. It’s good to just pull your head into your shell now and then and “turtle-up”.

imageBut, lest this sounds like I’ve fallen from an active lifestyle just a bit too quickly: my legs are sore from spinning class both on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as an after-work hike of 6-miles with 2100’ of elevation gain on Wednesday, Suzy and I will participate in the Smithsonian sponsored Museum Day today (Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry being our target), and tomorrow we have a last-of-the-season bike ride with a trip to the Old Goat Farm afterwards for an end-of-the-season plant sale. Maybe not everyone’s version of turtling up, but it will work for us.

My fall activities are not as exciting or glamorous as hiking in beautiful or challenging areas, tidying up is hardly the exercise in body or discovery as taking new trails, but it’s part of life … part of my life … and every bit as valued and valuable.

Thanks for dropping in and hoping your fall activities are just as rejuvenating.


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Exorcising after exercising

Posted by joeabbott on September 15, 2018

I enjoyed a long (as in 5-day) weekend hiking in a far-off corner of Washington state. As I settled in for the 8-hour car ride back home, I fantasized about my reception upon getting back: a big hug, long shower, maybe a second shower, maybe another hug, and some quality time with those I left behind for almost a week. What I got was something altogether different and this post will be my attempt at purging those “challenges” so I can get back to my charmed life of quiet pleasures and a happy existence.

Invisible Fence

The first thing I noted when I got in was the Invisible Fence beeping like crazy … maybe two beeps a second. Every now and then we need to reset a RFI outlet the fence is on (we’ve never been able to determine why) but those beeps come once every 4-5 seconds. So, I drop my sweaty gear, overloaded pack, and remnants of road trip snacks and tried to reset it. No luck. The beeping was driving me insane and I was quickly ramping up from dozy backseat lethargy to rip-it-off-the-wall angry.

When Suzy came down she got the brunt of my “what’s wrong with this thing\why haven’t you tried fixing it” questioning, and I understandably crushed my hopes for a welcome home hug. As we flitted about trying to make it stop, she said something that didn’t sink in until later: with all the construction from the project next door going on up at the corner of the lot, I didn’t realize the beeping was coming from our Invisible Fence unit. With that she went off the call the Invisible Fence folks and do some online research.

Her comment didn’t sink in until my next story, “The corner of the lot” … but let me warp time and jump ahead a bit.

In the process of talking to the Invisible Fencing folks, Suzy learned how to silence the alarm: just hit one of the small buttons on the inside of the circuit panel. Easy enough … unfortunately we didn’t learn how to do this until after we’d fixed the problem and it wasn’t beeping. To see how this worked, we forced the unit to beep by unplugging it … which beeps every 4-5 seconds. And because I wasn’t sure if I held the button or just pressed it, I held the button … which, in addition to silencing the unit, enters you into a “change the settings mode”!!


I was so thrilled at being able to change the settings that I did just that … and promptly messed up our system. Yup, I broke the Invisible Fence system.

It took another two days to iron things out but let’s just call this a three-fer: first I come home to insane beeping, then I ruin my welcome home reception, and I finish off the day by destroying the Invisible Fence. Bad news rising.

A final note … the settings should properly be: Mode=8xx (800 series model), L1 Freq=10k (the collars are on a 10k frequency), L1 Signal=Outdoors (kinda makes sense), and Mask=Xmit (the default setting).

The corner of the lot

OK, so after Suzy’s comment about activity from the construction on the vacant lot going on sunk in, I put on my backyard shoes and headed up to the corner and, as I entered Chickenville, it was apparent why the Invisible Fence unit was beeping off the rails: we no longer had a fence in that part of our yard.

The short story is that as the construction crew was putting a bulldozer onto a flatbed truck, the flatbed’s front wheels came off the ground and the bulldozer operator backed off hurriedly. The story is a little confused but his options were to back into oncoming traffic or toward our property. He went for our property and struck a corner, taking out about 30’ of fence in one direction and another 10’-20’ in the other direction.

The confused part is that there’s a massive amount of damage … not just a few boards out of place, but entire uprights with their concrete base pushed over, mangled wires from the Invisible Fence system, and splintered boards. Someone mentioned the bulldozer was down the hill on its side, which would explain the damage, but the bulldozer was upright and back toward the road when I saw it.









Anyhow, after reviewing the damage, I got the name of the owner of the moving company and his number. Nope, didn’t call the police, didn’t get a moving company name, and didn’t get the insurance company. I’m something of an idiot on this one but let’s just agree that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

Anyhow, with Chickenville ripped open, our chickens were free to run out and our cats no longer had their Invisible Fence keeping them in … and, anyone walking by can now survey our backyard. Suzy got the pets corralled and we went to work on a temp fence: about 20’ of plastic fencing and a few T-posts for stability. We stapled the plastic fence to the standing parts of the cedar fence and then used the T-posts to give it shape. I then went to work on splicing the Invisible Fence wire. I should mention we did all this by flashlight as the sun had set an hour earlier.

While I was gratified to no longer hear beeping when we got back into the house, my workshop bench got trashed in my search for a stapler (and the right staples), my electronic fix-it gear, and all the stuff that had built up just prior to my long hiking trip.


As a last note on the fence, we ended up turning this over to our property insurance. When I first called the owner of the moving company, he was apologetic and insistent that he’d take care of things. But, he never returned my calls, never took a second call from me, and there was no activity for a few days. The adjuster will call us Monday so we can get our fence back up.

And other stuff

Compared to a bulldozer taking out your fence and an expensive Invisible Fence system not working, the final few challenges seem minor but they added to a “should have stayed in the mountains another couple days” sorta feeling.

With the Invisible Fence not working, we’d kept the cats inside so we opened a few windows; one being a window on the side of our house that we don’t often open. But, upon trying to close it, we found we couldn’t! After a small bit of debugging we found that the sides keeping the string in a groove on a nylon wheel had deteriorated and now the string was getting lodged into a part that it shouldn’t.

It’s a reasonably simple fix and a reasonably inexpensive part … but why now? Yes, I’m starting to mope.


While I was cleaning up … from five days out and a lot of labor putting up a fence and splicing wires in the dark … I must have felt my face needed a good scrubbing, because scrub I did! So much so that in the process I somehow rammed my pinkie up my nose so hard that it still hurts! I’m not sure how I managed to do that this time! I mean, I’ve been washing my face for decades now and can honestly say I’ve never had this problem before. But, it still smarts … which is a funny word to use in a sentence about doing something so stupid.

And that’s about it. Yeah, a few other smaller things went wrong but I think the black clouds that settled over us have passed on and we can get back to our simple lives. We still need a new, permanent fence … but we have a guy lined up. And we need the Invisible Fence system returned to normal, but we’re certain that just needs to be arranged. And the window that hasn’t been opened in days just needs a part that’s readily available on Amazon … I’m sure we’ll get to it in priority order.


Since all the madness I’ve received my welcome home hug, a number of hot showers, and quality time with Suzy and the cats. We have a couple ragged edges to tidy up but I’m hoping that posting this story will clear the air here and allow us to return to our normal. Those of you who weather these minor challenges with more grace than I have my regard; I, for one, appreciate a quiet, happy existence.

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King Dork

Posted by joeabbott on September 3, 2018

What makes me pose like this?

2017-08-05 11.25.33V__CE97

These photos are separated by about a year and I’m striking the same, goofy pose: left fist rammed somewhere into my back-ribs and beaming like I’ve done something awesome.

Granted, I had been doing awesome things: with Tim (left) I was biking and hiking in the Cascades, and with Kenny (right) I was enjoying a reunion of sorts on the Seattle waterfront. Equally awesome in different ways. But that pose!

Note to self: find a better “I’m having a great time, let’s capture this” pose. And stop touching Tim … he’s clearly uncomfortable with it.

I was just sorting through photos and saw these two cringe-worthy shot and thought I’d share. If you’re with me and photos are being taken, remind me to do something more natural with my left arm. Thanks for looking in!

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People teach me stuff

Posted by joeabbott on August 26, 2018

OK, please understand that I just got up after a pretty rough night so my usual topics of video games, hiking, and woodworking are somewhat distant from my mind, and thoughts of “if I were in the middle ages, would I have died?” are a bit closer to top-of-mind. I’m not sure what happened, but I had the touch of something … and that touch left me with a massive headache, sweating, intermediately super-hot and terribly cold, sensitive to light and noise … I even tossed my beloved pet cat from keeping me company and the bed; he was a couple hundred degrees! Anyhow, I’m over it and was just cruising some of the webs and saw this quote by Kurt Vonnegut and it touched me deeply and I thought I’d share:

Kurt Vonnegut… go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

The first part of the quote was snipped because it was coming off a longer conversation (you can read it here) and, not surprisingly, Kurt was making a political statement. I say “not surprisingly” because this is what Kurt did, it’s part of who he was. And while I have absolutely zero problem with the other parts of his comments, it’s the stuff on practicing arts that touches me deepest.

I’m a closet artist who suffers most from my inability to demonstrate any remotely passable skill in the arts arena. That and a fear of destroying something or using up a resource on a bad attempt.

I have a block of soapstone Suzy bought me decades ago, still sitting at the foot of my home office desk, waiting to tell me what it wants to be. I have colored pencils and sketchbooks in the cupboard above them … they are still sharp from the original purchase. I have a video game called Dance Central that was to teach me how to get my groove on, a harmonica in the drawer I toss my keys into when I return home. I will sometimes belt out a line from a song I’m listening to while I’m driving (always alone) and immediately wonder if I were out of tune or if it was flat … I never reflect on enjoyment it might have brought me just to sing.

It’s odd because one of the things I find myself saying most to Suzy is that I don’t care a lot what other people think about me. I try not to take that to extremes but my mountain bike is powder blue and pink … I got it for a great price and it does a good job. My hiking clothing is old and out of style: I wear teal blue Lycra shorts … when was teal a fashionable color? Still, I haven’t noticed the old fashion keeping me from making it up many a mountain. And I take ribbing from my friends for playing some video games not because I enjoy the game, but because they’re easy enough to get Gamerscore quickly; it’s fine to me if they don’t “get it” … I’m enjoying what I’m doing.

And yet, thinking about the arts I have a paralysis to start because it might not be “good enough”. I absolutely have to work on that.

But, that’ll be something for me to tackle another day … today, enjoy the above Kurt quote and see what it tells you about yourself. Hopefully it’ll touch you deeply enough you’ll enrich your life and others by creating something. Today I will pace myself so I don’t relapse into whatever had me last night and I’ll enjoy a 23rd wedding anniversary dinner with Suzanne tonight. With her partnership we’ve created a pretty good life together.

Thanks for coming by.

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It’s all in the context

Posted by joeabbott on April 27, 2018

When I hear Suzy utter a “Gah!” and we’re on the streets, I look for an exceptional interaction or individual somewhere in the crowds. When she gives that same “Gah!” at home, I reach for a newspaper or magazine to usher whatever bug, beetle, or critter outside that’s somehow made its way inside.

When I heard “Gah!” earlier today, I replied with, “I’ll go get a cart.” You see, we were at a place that was selling plants and I knew my miss had espied a must-have something or other. When I asked about her current find she proclaimed, “It’s on my list,” then added, “The undersides of its leaves are fuzzy.” Reading my expression she finished with, “That’s all,” all the while sympathizing with an individual who might need more to make a plant special than the fact that it has fuzzy undersides to its leaves.

As a side note, somewhat related, we expanded the plant storage we built a few weeks back. That’s all … thanks for dropping in.

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I’m tired … but a good tired

Posted by joeabbott on April 24, 2018

imageWell, these past few days have reminded me of a line in the opening to David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding in which he says something like: In order to write about a life, you have to live it. The book Theft by Finding is the published Sedaris diaries where he gives a nod to the fact that in order to have something to write about, you need to be away from the desk … or, in my case, the keyboard. So what have I been doing with my time? Glad I asked myself … let’s go!

Saturday was the sort of interstitial day you have when you’re between big things; in my case it was work and a week-long vacation. So, Suzy and I went to the movie Black Panther, a Marvel comic book superhero extravaganza in which a good man becomes king and also has a snazzy cat suit that empowers him beyond imagining. Or, beyond imagining for me but the folks at Marvel had things well-in-hand as the titular king does incredible things.

While I enjoyed the movie I did so no more than any other superhero movie. It was great in all the ways a multimillion dollar affair can be great but it had a lot of heart, and that seems to have played well to audiences and critics. It was a fine way to spend an early afternoon.

After that, I came home and started building a small station for storing some climbing gear and allowing it to dry. I now need some 16”x30” plywood and my table saw is behind a bunch of stuff … so, things stopped there until I can clean up that space.

And then Suzy and I frittered away our evening and I turned in early.

On Sunday I hiked to Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier with a friend. We only got to 9000’, so we didn’t make it to Muir itself, but we put in a long day on the snow and enjoyed some spectacular weather. I can’t imagine not sharing more later, so I’ll leave it at that. And that was the day … not much left in terms of time or energy for anything else!

On Monday Suzy and I had a work day. Sort of.

For a couple days our cat, Trimble, had been acting ill, as if something was caught in his throat. He’d make a snotty *snerk* sort of sound, wretch a bit, and occasionally vomit clear liquid. It was clear because he hadn’t eaten anything in a couple days. And that’s dangerous for a cat who is so lean. The vet email over the weekend led to an early morning visit … it was the first time he’d had to be taken to a vet in years, as our vet will make house calls … and, even though he was improving, we our Trimble to the vet.

While he was acting better, he still wasn’t eating, and so our trip entailed: manual inspection, x-rays, blood and urine samples, subcutaneous fluids, syringe feeding, and a lot of TLC. It was a good vet (Island Cats on Mercer Island) but it blew the budget for veterinary services by a mile. We still haven’t heard back but we came home with a new pet. While Trimble had been sleeping a lot, spending time under the bed and looking a bit manky, he suddenly had an interest in going outside, being awake, and was generally sociable. Not sure if he’s “over” something or just had his share of adrenalin, but I awoke with him at my side and was happy for that change.

After getting back from the vet, we had lunch out and then it was chore time. While I mowed and edged, Suzy weeded. While I hauled and spread compost, Suzy weeded. And while I got out the deck furniture, umbrella, and corrected some hose situations, Suzy weeded. I think she gave me the easier tasks to avoid me learning the demoralizing labor that is weeding, and I appreciate it. But you should see the yard, folks … looking great for spring!

After that we had a little dinner: chicken Marsala with mushrooms over rice. Simple and tasty. While I cleaned up and did dishes, Suzy baked for a potluck she’ll have today and then I played some video games. A very fine day.

I’ll post more when life allows me the time to do so … but, we expect temps in the 70°s here this week and I am on vacation. Wishing you the finest of days … like the ones I’ve been enjoying!

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I’ve been away overlong

Posted by joeabbott on April 7, 2018

Well, folks … “life” happened to me.

Busy busy days at work, splitting time on the weekends with Suzy and climbing, and my ever-present interest in video games have eaten all my time. I’m reading a few books (I’ll share reviews shortly) and trying to have a quality of life, but had found myself always on the go.

And when that happens, I kind of “turtle-up” and find solace in stealing time back from obligations.

I will say that one of the great things about a marriage, or any long-term relationship, is your significant other has the time to learn about you, read your moods, and respond. Suzy must have noticed I was feeling a lot of pressure and she took me away last weekend. Yup, a real vacation, just she and me. It was very fine and I’m still smiling in the afterglow.

But, my office is a mess, my garage is a mess, and I can’t even take the next step at a woodworking project I have going , so it’s time to reclaim my life and put some things in order. And it’ll start with a few posts in an effort to clean this area up  …


Sorry to have been away!

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Valentine’s Day

Posted by joeabbott on February 18, 2018

WP_20180218_09_43_51_ProValentine’s Day with Joe and Suz was a special time … also known of as “Cold and Flu Season”. As a result, we shared a very nice meal prepared by Suzy, exchanged homemade cards, and then sat together holding hands on the couch. A syrupy, maudlin moment only tainted by our mutual blowing of noses, deep-chested coughs, and a bit of mild sneezing. If it gets worse, public authorities will erect barricades outside our home to keep a contagion from spreading.

But, we’re on the mend.

One of the things that made the day even more special was a card and note my mother sent us. She acknowledges Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts, but sent her note just the same and I can’t tell you how much we love that woman. She makes our lives better in so many ways.

First there was the simple card: velvety to the touch and festoon with rhinestones; it acknowledged us both and was simply signed. Big smiles all around at the thoughtfulness. But inside there was more!

With prior letters she’s included little square cards that you open for a motivational or thoughtful message. The front encourages you to embrace the day with mine saying:

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. – Ruth Ann Schabacker

WP_20180218_09_44_50_Proand Suzy’s saying

Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will …  — Johann Wolfgang von Goerthe

For two people who could easily get lost in self-pity, these messages could only help rally the spirits and ask us to keep an eye on the horizon. Good stuff.

And finally she included a couple of crisp two dollar bills, each bearing a Post-It proclaiming: This is for you! (from the Book Fairy!!)

Included was a small note saying this:

Just thought I’d send you one of Uncle Joe’s $2’s. Among his things, Dana and I came across a pack of over 60 two dollar bills. I didn’t have the heart to spend them, and finally decided on how to move them along … So every now and then, when I go to the library, I take along one of them with a little post it on it, like this one … And I roam around in the children’s book section and where there’s an empty spot, between rows of books, I’ll leave it there on the shelf, kind of low down … so a little girl or boy will come across it  Smile I’ve been doing this for a couple years now, and have about 10 or so left. I’m sure there librarians who come across them, are wondering who this “Book Fairly” is. We’ve recently built a new Shoreview library, near the old one which is now offices, so I’ve moved my business over there… it’s a fun diversion for me – I’m sure UJ is chuckling. And I’d love to be a fly on the wall so I could see the little one’s reactions. And their mother’s reactions! Such are the games that we Ancient Ones love to play!

WP_20180218_09_45_27_ProWell, she can consider the Book Fairy to have conscripted a couple of helpers out in Seattle!

One little Valentine and so much heart I can’t stop the smiling for how special and welcome that card was. As for Suzy and me? Well, it’s four days since V-Day and we still have cold symptoms but are planning to take a walk through a park somewhere … either today or tomorrow. We’re “untying the ribbons” but they’re coming off slowly.

Thanks for dropping by … I hope you didn’t catch anything!

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Are you a player or a critic?

Posted by joeabbott on February 11, 2018

A while ago my company changed CEOs and it wasn’t long before the “new guy” started showing his differences. While the prior CEO was a rah-rah sort of cheerleader, full of bravado and inspiring the teams with a booming voice and a spirit full of war cry, the new fella was much more understated and cerebral: a thinking man’s boss. One of the habits he’s formed is to have a monthly talk with the employees.

imageHe’ll arrange a time (we’re too big of a company to all meet in one place) and folks will dial in … a few people can find seats in whatever building he’s speaking from (he moves it around to be fair and give everyone a chance to attend in person). At the session he’ll talk about whatever’s on his mind or relevant to the business, share his thoughts, and take questions. During the last “all hands” meeting he asked if people were critics or players?

The distinction, he went on to explain, was more apt for team sport descriptions but one that touched him deeply. I will be doing his telling an injustice by missing details or just plain being wrong, but I recall him saying that one of his friends called to his attention the behavior of players on a team who were on the sideline: they watched the play on the field intently, both their team and the opposition. They read the play, they note how an athlete (in any position) approached a situation … they learned from what was going on in an attempt to improve their play!

ImageCompare that with pundits, experts, or critics … folks who are already confident in their competence and have no vested reason to improve. Those people sit back, watch only the most active play, and opine on what went wrong and why. There’s superficial, if any, learning and they serve themselves and their audience by treating them to an explanation based on a preconceived summary.

He asked if we were players or critics.

This likely touched me deeply as I’ve found myself taking the role of the critic lately. Complaining to my wife about how things are messed up at work, bitching to coworkers about a situation we have, and generally kvetching about any minor irritant or problem at work … without contributing anything toward remedying the situation. In short, I’ve been a pretty crappy employee. Sure I work hard, put in hours, come up with creative solutions based on my experience, but I’m not pushing myself to learn, I’m not solving any problems unless they’re assigned to me to solve … I’ve stopped growing.

Now, I’m being super-harsh on myself, but I know I have a good job and have always convinced myself my employer gets the better deal. But I can do more than I find myself doing now. I can reinvigorate my passion for learning and being that guy who hears people carping and says, “let’s fix it!” Yeah, I’ve slowly drifted into the critic persona but it’s time I get back in the game.

While it has all sorts of wrong connotations, I’ll say it anyhow: I am a player. How about you? Think how awesome it’d be if everyone just did a great job: made your customers feel special if you wait tables at a restaurant; made a suggestion to someone based on their purchases in a shop if you’re a bookseller; or found creative solutions that allowed a team to feel great about what they’re delivering if you lead teams. The ways you can be a player and contribute to a culture of growing and success are too many to mention here … and I’d miss many if I tried.

Stop listening to me. Go out and find ways to be awesome that feed you and improve the world for others, too. And, if you want to know more about my CEO (he’s recently written a book), this will tell you a bit more about him and his ideals.

As always, thanks for dropping by.

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Yeah, blog that

Posted by joeabbott on February 3, 2018

DSCF1675I have a small pile of items sitting beside my computer in what I’ll consider the “blog that later” pile. The unfortunate reality is that most of it won’t be mentioned here … or anywhere else … again. I get distracted, I look at it later and wonder “now what was I going to say here?”, or it just fails a relevancy test that’s, admittedly, pretty loose. And then there’s the fact that I mostly just blog Saturday and Sunday mornings, and those are becoming fewer and fewer for sitting in front of the computer.

You see, my arm is on the mend!

So with feeling better and all, I’m starting to be a bit more ambitious with my time and that means getting out with Suzy or getting back into climbing. On the one hand, our house plans are starting to settle in and we have stuff to do there; on the other, I got a bit depressed and overate during the holidays and need to work off a bunch of misery-fat. And yet, I don’t like ignoring this channel, so I plan on doing a bit more blogging and maybe using some weekday time to catch up.

For today, I want to talk about a topic Suzy covered in her blog … the death of one of our chickens. Suzy did a better job than I could of talking about the hen; I’ll try not to repeat too much. In short, one of our longest-owned hens died.

P1000421We got her a while back, her hatch-mates being two other hens we have that made up (until recently) our “top three” hens … all others have come from more recent hatchings. I guess she was over five years old. As one of our most curious birds, she ranged far and wide in our hard, well beyond Chickenville boundaries.

That was in her earlier years; of late … meaning the past several years … she was just a member of the flock: secure in her #2 pecking position and never more than a wingspan from either #1 or #3. As I read Suzy’s post on her, I silently kick myself for not remembering more about her without a prod; she’d just become “one of the chickens”. Like a friend you have who reminds you of a great summer you shared and yet it wasn’t at the forefront of your mind when you talked to them.

For me, she was one of the hens who mostly stayed out of arms reach when we sat on the bench and tossed them simple scratch and peck treats. I’d give her a grab when I could (I’d give all of them a grab when I can), pop her on my lap, and if she’d stay, I’d let her eat from my hand. Not the Black Star: she’d always jump down immediately. But, she wouldn’t run; rather, she’d turn and look to see if I still had those treats in my hand and, if possible, would I put them down for her.

She appeared to pass away without injury or trauma; we found her lying in the duff in the coop shelter. I felt badly we didn’t find her earlier (we were away for the day) because it meant the other hens had to step either over or pass her on the way out of the coop. And yet, chickens can be jerks and the flock seems unaffected. While it makes sense … none of the younger batch is likely to ascend to #2 position over long-timer #3 and this doesn’t change the relative positioning of numbers 1 and 3 (now 2) … it’s hard to lose a hen and feel bad for it, when the rest of the flock seems unaware. Such is the life in a prey\flock animal’s existence.

I’ll end here, without a real end. Hope you and your pets (or those in your care) are well and remain so. Thanks for dropping by.

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