The cabin is rather large; I designed it to have enough room for all I needed until I go up yonder. Thus, the room over the built-in 2 car garage is the Art Room and Library. I have been reading since I learned to walk but did not begin acrylic floorcloth painting until I got here and read an art book on that very subject. I ordered a roll of sturdy canvas and went to it! These pictures are of the first floorcloth I ever made.
The color in the print area isn’t as white as it once was, the floorcloth was rolled up and stashed in a corner for far too long.
Here’s the whole thing. I finally decided to actually use it and now it is a prominent part of the living room!
No, not Yogi Bear (though I do really like that ol’ dude!), it’s what I call yogurt. I’m down to my last cup of yogi today so…
It’s time to make more! I need to use a spoonful of the last cup to make the new batch, sort of like sourdough bread only made with milk!
The fermenter is just a mild heater. Once the heated milk has simmered at 185 degrees until done, cool it to 115 degrees F and mix the spoonful in well. Fill the clean cups. Put the little lids on! Leave the covered fermenter on all night and in the morning, we have eight more cups of YOGI to enjoy! Yum!
I made some peachy preserves and put a glob of that into each cup of yogi I get out, but more on the peaches, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, cherries, raspberries and the multitude of apples later!
(Another short story. Why not? Ukraine is in the news so much…)
Emo felt satisfied that he’d left that worrisome and fretful life behind and at last headed out to find his dear sister Mia. The only family he had remaining after wrecks and Covid, he really wanted to see his sister safe. From O’Hare to Warsaw would take a while, yet he though the time would seem to fleet by faster than the last seven months with no word at all from her. The Ukraine/Russia peace agreement took too long, for sure.
He got the supplies he needed and headed out to search for the medical outposts where she’d be likely to be. He recalled again about their last argument as she went to board the plane to Warsaw, how he told her they needed nurses here in the USA and all. She’d just extended her open hand to him to push him away and left anyway.
Most of the medical places were mainly abandoned but he did get info on where some were yet in operation. He visited every one with no luck. He filled his jeep tank from his Polish jugs as he went, glad to have bought so many. Then his smile melted as he arrived at a mass gravesite being unearthed. Oh, the stench! No way could anybody ID these rotting bodies!
He found the DNA trailer in the assembled investigation array. He explained his task. The Bulgarian scientist said he’d need something of hers to compare his results from the grave with. Emo unzipped his pack and brought out a small case he’d hope to not need. He lifted the small doll and handed it to the scientist, saying Mia had cut a swatch of her own hair to make it.
No matches there but he did get a copy of the report so he would not need to pull that case out again. The map he got pointed him to the next, then the next and then the next huge graves. He’d got used to sleeping in the Jeep and eating the military rations. After six of those sites, he came to an area still guarded. He was allowed in with instructions to stay alert as landmines were all over the place.
He’d need to head back to Warsaw soon for more gas if the next couple places went bust. He pulled up to the trailer after being quickly checked by guards, then more guards appeared at the trailer. He had to get out of the Jeep with his pack and hand it over. They proceeded to check his pack and all in it. The men passed the doll around laughing, giving him odd looks. A young woman hurried from the trailer and swiped the doll from them.
“Where’d you get this?” She shook her head briskly and started to repeat the question in Ukrainian when she saw Emo. “YOU! You came!” She ran over to him and their exuberant hug made the guards nearby and at the entrance applaud and whistle happily.
Here’s a short story that seems appropriate for today. Hope you like it!
Not Always the Way You Hoped
Emily still trudged around the curve and down the steep gravel driveway to the mailbox as she’d done every day she could remember. Routine. The hope she’d get some sort of notification about her soldier son had turned into routine. She maneuvered back up the gravelly drive thinking about the vast deserts of the Middle East, the awful battle and attacks she’d seen on TV. As she climbed the porch steps to the front door, she abruptly smeared away tears and forced up a thought of time. Too much time had passed for good news.
Inside and in the kitchen, she laid the silly catalogs on the counter. After a few minutes, she shook her head in disgust; angrily, she internally shouted at herself to stop fixing her attention on that damned phone. She’d nearly died from birthing that boy, she’d helped him with his homework, she’d got him a bike he’d went nuts over. With no daddy to help, she’d even showed him how to use a bow and arrow and stuff like that. She halted that recurring train, derailing it. Maybe it would have been better if she’d died.
In an effort to keep busy, she cleaned up the mess in the house systematically. Finding a sealed bag of chocolate chips that had fallen behind the shelves put her into auto. Before she knew it, a cookie sheet, mixer and mixing bowl had appeared on the counter. Cookies? Lordy, Chet had craved chocolate chip cookies, stuffing them into his pockets and all. The chips were close to expiration and needed to be used…
She sat stiffly on a kitchen chair dragged between the counter and the front door. She gazed steadily at the pile of cookies, smelled them, felt the heat from the oven. She did not hear the van pull up but did respond to the furiously barking dogs. She went to open the door. A van? The side door slid back and a woman with a child about two years old, maybe more, got out.
A’Dila had a strong accent but knew English very well. The little boy the woman had passed to her snugged in closer as she nudged the front door shut with her foot. When A’Dila dragged another chair over, the boy raised his head and the stack of cookies grabbed his mind. Emily reached and tugged the plate closer.
Emily had nearly finished reviving the spare bedroom in a steady and controlled manner as A’Dila described how Chet had been a prisoner for quite a while, how he’d escaped, how the wide area had been shut down with no communication allowed in or out. They’d decided to become a family. After a halting sob, she finished with how her dearest love Chet had been shot in the head as he planted vegetables in the sandy yard. Then more clearly, she added how a charity group had rescued her and her beloved son.
That night, watching some sci-fi series episode, Emily closed her eyes and thanked the Lord, God and all Heaven as she heard little Chet pull a cookie from his pocket and then bite a big chunk off.
Fruit is on the way! Apples of several varieties, a couple kinds of peaches, a fair-sized group of blueberries and already prolific strawberries! The cherries, lemons and grapes may take longer but are doing well, too.
The lemons are potted so I can keep them inside in the cooler months. They sat inside in through the winter and early spring, nearly leafless. I fretted their continuance. Then a blossom coincided with a warm day. Outside they went and so in and out until mid-May, when the night temperatures were good for them. I got one lemon last year…how many this year?
As many are aware, I live far out in the Kentucky woods on 100 acres of wild forest in a log cabin I designed and built. From the get-go, I have wondered why there are trees of several types that mysteriously start bending, usually a few feet up the trunk, and continue or even twist as they grow larger. Examples:
Sure, if a new tree is growing on a hill or monkeys start swinging on them, they’ll bend. These don’t fall into either category. There are many more around here, too. So why this Shag Bark Hickory or that Post Oak? Mystery indeed!
Trying to keep busy sewing dresses, skirts, jackets
or painting on canvas
Weeding the garden
Making bread, yogurt, cookies
Job ripped from me, no friends, no pay, alone
Reason for eating regularly?
Reason to keep my heart beating?
Reason to imagine soaring sheep?
Sheep bleating in the clouds – yes, I could pull another crazed story from my brain. Forget it.
Today? Cozy in my homemade jammies and housecoat, what about today? Get dressed!
Too much sewn , I don’t need more bread or yogurt, nowhere too hang anymore paintings, all outside is dormant. Another story or book? Nobody reads them, so why?
In the early morning sun’s shadows, I walk to the end of the long gravel driveway and see the wild yellow narcissus plants budded out. I look closer. Many new ones, the established ones have big, tinted buds, and there! There are a few in bloom! Spring’s grand harbinger! Possible hope? Barky nudges my knee for a pat and wags her tail.
“Sir, the last communication with the submarine occurred at 0331 on the 5th of this month. May I play the message now?” Lieutenant Matthew Masert acknowledged the Captain’s nod and ran Captain Arnold’s message:
“Alert! We are being surrounded fore, aft, starboard and port by Russian subs. This started when we completed our Kamchatka assignment. Now we’re halfway to …”
Captain Ensano frowned. “That’s it?”
A week later, no further word from the Possama nor had any searches succeeded in discovering any reason for the boat to be missing. Russia denied any activity around the sub at all. The USS Possama became another lost submarine in the Pacific, flags at half-mast.
Captain Arnold laid his cards down with a grin as the other three officers of the Possama fanned their hands out in defeat. The Captain took the last package of chocolate cookies and quietly secured them in his satchel. His comm unit vibrated. He reached for it and held it close to his ear. He replied in a whisper, “We’re ready but do not make any outside communications yet.” He pulled the cookies out slowly and opened them with a shove to the officers as he rose and went forward with care to not pant too loudly. Perhaps this ultra-silence could end soon!
Later that evening, Lt. Masert trotted to the Captain’s quarters and knocked, hoping Ensano hadn’t hit the sack yet. When the door opened, Masert stood at attention and stated, “The USS Possama is now found.”
Captain Ensano clenched his hands before his chest, almost as a prayer. “Is the crew alive?”
“Uh, Sir, the submarine just pulled into Ballast Point, all alive.”
“San Diego? That boat is out of Hawaii! Que Demonios?” His arms fell limply to his side.
“Admiral Musavel wants us to make way to San Diego for an update with no mention of this to anyone.”
Ensano stepped lively on his way forward on his Destroyer USS Kentucky and reached the Control Room. Soon they were in the lane to southern California. He laid on the power as this he did not wish to miss!
The meeting room had past Admorals’ pictures in an array around the walls. Captain Arnold stood at the podium in full dress uniform and greeted his old friend Pablo Ensano, Admiral Musavel and several others not familiar to him. When they all got seated, he began.
Arnold straightened his lips side to side and closed his eyes for a couple seconds, then appeared more relaxed and spoke. “Welcome all. First, I apologize for causing anxiety over our lack of any signals. I have a reason and I believe the ruse was absolutely worth it.
“We took photos and recordings at the Kamchatka mission site. As we left, Russians ganged up around us and tried driving us to the west. We did not want to end up in their custody, so we opened our torpedo hatches and were immediately fired at. We pushed the reactor as high as it would go and sent out a decoy. It worked but we pretended it did not, with us opening some valves to let out bubbles. We settled into a low spot and cut all services. At least one Rusky sub observed us for nearly a week before leaving and thank God for that as the O2 had gone down to beetle crap. We eased on some vital services and searched for any sign of Rusky presence. None! We left as swiftly yet secretly as we could and beelined here.
“They probably kept monitoring south in case we tried to get back to Hawaii, so we came here due west with as much stealth as we could muster. You see, we caught proof of a temporary installation of Ruskies near Alaska, under an extending shelf with buoys floating around above them that were not left by fishermen. I have all the data including cryptic signals being reviewed now.”
Arno stared at the attendees and tapped his right foot. “No comments?”
Ensano stood. “You went back into your days in the country! You played possum!”