Beautiful Coloring & Preview

Marilyn colored a sneak preview I put out of Birds in Beards 2: Dead Poets Edition. Didn’t she do a fantastic job? Love the crazy hair color! 


Birds in Beards 2: Dead Poets Edition is probably going to be ready in the next couple of weeks.  It’s cooking. It’s getting close! Soon. 

No comic today, but… this is funnier, probably. 

Arting and Stuff

1. Decide on a theme. (In this case: Birds in Beards 2: Dead Poets.)

2. Research. Poets? Poems? Birds?

3. Decide on a subject. (In this case: John Burroughs.)


4. Decide on an animal. In this case, a Cardinal (because it is a snow bird, and Burroughs had a poem about snow birds).

5. Sketch in pencil.

6. Draw in pen.

7. Erase pencil.

8. Maybe I put it into a coloring book. And maybe I burn it! It all depends. Artistic Temperament. It happens.

P.S. There were two new lambs this morning: both female. I am so happy about that. They are both black— top hats! Felted top hats! This is what we will make with their wool, if they survive and thrive.

The God and Goddess of Thunder

Last night, we had a wicked thunderstorm. It happened around one AM. I thought for sure the storm would cause Chyoko to finally have her lambs, but no go. Instead, the Zanimal had a crazy story to tell in the morning. 

Our two cats both love the Zanimal lots. They like sleeping with her. These days, Grenix sleeps with her. Last night, though, Tigery started missing the Zanimal. Tigery attacked Grenix in the middle of the night, over Zanimal in bed, during the thunderstorm.

Their attacks were vicious and noisy, and they coincided with the flashes and bangs of the thunderstorm. Every time they attacked each other in the night, over top of Zanimal’s body, the thunder clapped. Zanimal, in her half awake state, felt as if the cats were controlling the thunder. Every time the cats attacked, the thunder clapped. 


They were clearly the god and goddess of thunder.

Zanimal slept late this morning. She claimed something kept her up. 

There were no new lambs.

Conniving Hens and Roosters of Malice in the Icebox of Hell

Our chest freezer broke last week, and the refrigerator broke this week- this week, when I was supposed to butcher chickens. Coincidence? I think not. 

We bought a new freezer and a new refrigerator. This was the new refrigerator: 


And then… you have to wait 24 hours to stabilize the temperature. And then… 

The temperature stabilized at sixty degrees. In the freezer. On the day I was supposed to butcher chickens. 

Coincidence? 

Those chickens. Talking. Always talking. What are they talking about? I don’t know! I don’t speak chicken! All I know is, new refrigerators are supposed to make things cooler. And it didn’t. I mean, ten degrees cooler than the house. Basically, it wasn’t working. And I couldn’t butcher chickens. Because they would rot and we would all get salmonella and die. 

Coincidence? 

We got another refrigerator to replace the first one. The first one to replace the broken one. (Not the first one, really, that was the broken one.)

It looks like this: 


So different! So cool! 

It works, and you know what that means. Thirty-eight degrees inside the refrigerator. Those chickens’ days are numbered. 

An Upper Midwestern Spring

We have so much to do around here in Spring. There are lambs being born, meat chickens to take care of, plants to start indoors and transplant, mowing, weeding, planting, end of school stuff, planning for summer stuff, 4-h events, registering for the fair, getting all of our ducks in a row for summer camps and classes for the Zanimal. Other people say, with a smile, “Wow, it’s spring!” and we who live on farms laugh nervously and say, “Yes, Wow.” But we mean wow in a different way. Add to that all, for me, a book release. It’s a bit overwhelming. So, I’m just going to jump around here a bit, ready?

Part 1: Lambing Season

We’ve got lambs! Four lambs, now. We may have four more by the end. Professor Batty came to visit between two lambs and four lambs.  I’m happy to say Viola finally had her lambs! Two of them, both black, one male, one female. The morning before last, I went out to check on her, and they were just born- still gooey. She was licking them off. She seems proud of herself, as she should be.

The following day, I was going to castrate the male (in case we want to keep him- I hate the logistics of separating a male all of the time, so I just castrate them) and Zanimal was super excited for me to show her how to do it! So, I did. I used the “*teeth” method. Joking. I used the band method. She hugged the lamb and I — well, you can imagine. She hugged the girl lamb, too, and I docked her tail. Zanimal is now “Official Lamb and Sheep Hugger.” Whenever I need a sheep to hold still for me, I am to call on her, and we will do a Good Cop/ Bad Cop deal: she will hug them and I will hurt them (albeit for their own good, of course).

  • Some shepherds bite off the rams’ balls with their teeth to castrate them. It’s effective. Yep. Not crazy at all.

    Part 2: The Self Portrait

Speaking of the Zanimal, at the end of the year, she just brings home backpacks full of trash. Among all of the crap, I found this gem:

A self portrait, clearly. I really like a few things about it.

  1. It’s not symmetrical. The one thing I’ve learned from doing lots of portraits is that people are not nearly as symmetrical as I thought they were. She seems to know that instinctively.
  2. She didn’t show it to me. She doesn’t care about this portrait. She’s modest, maybe. I don’t know. I’m just glad she didn’t put me on the spot about it.
  3. It looks like her- which is an important aspect of a portrait, you have to admit.

Part 3: Summertime

So, today I was mowing and weeding and putting a tarp up for Viola and her lambs to lie under (it’s hot). And tomorrow, I’ll do more of the same. And next week, more of the same, plus the Zanimal is home from school.

Things speed up over the summer. Wisconsinites wake up one day and come out of their holes and there are parties! Parades! Beer Festivals! Art Fairs! Brats! Bands! And on and on, all summer long, and then we’ll look back and wonder where it all went? And every year, I think What the heck am I going to do with this kid all summer? Because I like her, I really do, but I feel a bit of pressure to be entertaining or educational. Creative. I’m a creative type, you know. It’s expected of me. But I also, at heart, feel that children do better when they entertain themselves. So there’s the constant, “Let’s do this fun thing! (After this list of chores.)” But also the, “Do your own thing, I’m busy!” kinds of days. And also, of course, the “Let’s go to the lake. It’s hot” kinds of days.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is, I may not be blogging much. We’ll see.

Part 4: The Mystery of the Runners

When we first moved here from Colorado, we lived on the Isthmus in Madison, and we noticed all of these nearly naked people running by. Just running by, all summer long. Always, they looked straight ahead and did not acknowledge that we were there. Fast people, wearing shorts and shoes or shorts and sports bra and shoes, and that was all. And we wondered where they all came from, and where were they all going? After living here a few years, I *discovered that they just wake up one morning and say, “It’s time.” They take off their clothes, put on their shoes, and they start running around the lakes. And they run all summer. They never stop running. Day and night, they run, until the nights get cold again. And then they stop. They put away their shoes. And they sleep until next summer.

Of course, there are outliers- there always are, with any group. There’s the lady who runs up Gammon, all the way to Woodman’s West, at any time of day. What is her deal? Sometimes you’ll see her on PD, too. I mean, she only runs on the busiest roads. And long distances. You can be in town all day and see her twice, seven hours apart, running, still running. So strange. Lately, she’s been carrying a cell phone and talking on it constantly while she runs.

I, too, have taken up running- indoors. On a treadmill. After injuring my ankle a few years ago during a mud run, it took a year to heal, so I am very wary of uneven terrain. Baby steps. I’m starting again on a treadmill. I listen to The Gist while I run. The Gist is the perfect time: about 27 minutes. Two miles, plus a cool down lap. A nice jog. I imagine Mike Pesca running beside me, never getting out of breath, interviewing famous people, right there in my basement. This is not strange. This is where I belong.

Part 5: Too Much Sun

Is it just me, or is this the most rambling thing I’ve ever written on here? I’ll blame it on the sun.

The Ghost

My daughter brought this book home from the fourth grade book swap. 

The fourth grade book swap just isn’t what it used to be, is it? They grow up so fast. Sigh. 

Inside the back cover, we read that this book is about a newly divorced Londoner who goes to Vermont and stumbles upon a two hundred year old diary of a beautiful lady, who manifests to him in person, somehow. 

The end of the synopsis reads, “In The Ghost, Danielle Steel brilliantly interweaves past and present, bringing to life two stories, centuries apart, in a timeless novel of courage, healing, and love.”

Sounds great for a nine year old reader. Except, it needs horses, doesn’t it? I suggest Steel change all of the characters in this book to either horses or puppies, to make it more palatable for the fourth grade book swap crowd.

Although, in defense of including it, it does actually say, “Everybody reads Danielle Steel” on the back cover.


What is up with this author photo, by the way? I so want an author photo of myself like this. Could anyone help me with this?