Goodbye QueeQuee!


IMG_3419One of my daughters adopted a guinea pig a few years ago.  My girl was in her own apartment, going to school and noticed two guinea pigs, each in their own cages, on the floor in the shared hallway.

She called and asked if she should adopt them, as he already had one guinea pig.  I suggested she try the females together, as adopting the little boar would mean more and more and more pigs.

She took her home.  After a time, my girl came home with Munchkin.  Munchkin was the name she was given by her former family who left her in the hallway after the novelty wore off.

Munchkin became #15 in the strange collection of animals I cared for daily.

Some time later, my daughter left, with Munchkin.  Seems Munchkin liked my care, liked the goings on and became depressed.  She hid in the corner of her roomy cage, didn’t say or do anything for a few weeks.  I said, “Bring her back.”

Once home with me, it was business as usual.  Back to the routine, the treats and the level of nutrition and care that I’m famous for around here.  I started calling her QueeQuee, for the cute sound that she makes.

We moved north, and QueeQuee was in a tiny pet carrier, and took the 19 hours in the truck very well, better than the ten other pets I carried in the truck.  In fact, she held up better than the humans, it seemed.

Now, living in a tiny house, we’re well packed in.  Mark, being a tall man with broad shoulders, feels like a sardine in a can.  Each pair of rabbits has 16 square feet of living space and QueeQuee had a cage thought to be good for rabbits.  As you can probably guess, I take space and comfort seriously.

I didn’t handle QueeQuee much, though she did get pets and lots of attention, I knew she would appreciate burrowing in someones sleeve or coat, or just being stroked and held more often.  If the right family came along, I would give her up, but not for any reason other than she was wanted.

We joked about QueeQuee never being able to die, because of the level of care she received.  If I sat in my chair, she was about 3 feet from me, and usually came out from her hiding spot to sleep near me.  She’s a very sweet little animal, gentle, too.

In passing, a coworker of my daughter’s, (Home Depot) mentioned that the third or fourth hamster had died and the child wanted another.  My daughter mentioned QueeQuee ‘taking up space.’

Sure, she was taking up space, aren’t we all?

I invited the family over to meet us and QueeQuee.  I wanted to find out if the potential adopters would continue giving her the level of care I insisted on.  I needed to see how the nearly 5-year-old little girl behaved with QueeQuee.

The visit was wonderful.  The child, quite bright and personable, inquisitive and sensitive, seemed an ideal fit.  QueeQuee would be in the living room with the family, not put in a bedroom or hallway. The bonus for QueeQuee is that she would be handled.  She always purred when I stroked her and I know she will love being adored.

The parents, loving and responsible, called later to say that QueeQuee had peed on Dad.

I made sure that the family knew that there was no shame in bringing her back to me, if “Squeaker” didn’t work out for them.  I had every intention of caring for QueeQuee until she died.  IMG_3421

This is how it should always be.  One family entering the home of another, making the adoption of a precious life much more personal.  We look into the eyes of one another.  We ask questions, we get answers.  I feel confident that “Squeaker” is going to get a lot more attention than she did with me.  And Mom assured me that she would continue the level of care I had been so dedicated to providing.

I told the Aubrey (the little girl) about how some cultures dress the guinea pigs in costumes to match their own, in high Princess fashion, and the winner’s life, spared for another year.  Sounds a bit like the presidential pardon for turkeys, on Thanksgiving.

Everyone should have a second chance, or third.  QueeQuee’s in her fourth home and perfect of all.

The space where she lived is empty now.  When I make my rounds in the morning and evening, I say “Hi, QueeQuee,” or “Goodnight, QueeQuee.”  It’s odd not having her here.  However, I’m extremely happy for her new and better life.



A Day in this Life


I’m highly distracted by this

When I went out this morning, I stuck my hand into the horses water bucket.  One less degree and it’s ice.  I filled a dutch oven with water, heated it and poured it into their drinking bucket.

We’re expecting four inches of rain this evening.  After tending to my horses, I check the rain gauge each morning.  Coastal conditions and maritime climate patterns typically sneak rain in under cover of darkness.

No matter, we’re generally prepared.

“Mom, can we make her a quilt for Christmas?”

My live-in daughter has a new and nice boyfriend, and he, a little girl. My head started spinning.

Hours of cutting fabric if I agreed!

Cutting is the hardest part for me now. She agreed to do all the cutting.

We chose fabrics from those stacked in my studio, and when I offered instruction for precision cutting, she, who knows everything already, reminded me that she was an art student, and had learned to make precision cuts in college.  Well, okay then…

Fun for a child

Fun for a child

After putting the top together, we purchased red flannel yardage and a high loft polyester batting.

I was so disappointed by the ‘loft’ of the batting, that I made two layers and it’s as warm as a towel just out of the dryer.

The quilting is simple – in the ditch.  What does that mean? Stitching exactly next to the seam lines.

Not my best work, but who's looking?

Not my best work, but who’s looking?

It’s done, wrapped and ready for a little girl to love.

Lots to look at.

Lots to look at.

I’m still working on my granny square afghan, and have raveled two more sweaters, both white.  I’ve used all  the gray sweater yarn. I’m set on exploring my neighborhood for some natural dye materials today.

Classic Granny Square Style

Classic Granny Square Style

The equine vet came out to visit Amadeus.  He’s not improving or deteriorating. He’s locked in a stall with lots of bedding.  It’s comfortable and restricts his movement, as well as encourages him to lie down.  I have nothing more in my bag of tricks – I’m using all I have.

It’s always something.

My son called last night.  He lives in Santa Monica, CA, and his wife and daughter, live in Peru.  My daughter in law is quite ill.  She’s felt death breathing on her twice.  I know how that feels. It’s not frightening, just an odd realization of life force leaving one’s self. A unique torture.  What is the meaning of gravity now?

Positive thought.

Mark went crab fishing again, and brought home ten crab.  If you’ve never had crab that’s come from the ocean just a few hours earlier – there is no crab sweeter.  We ate for two days and froze the rest in milk.  Next ten, the limit, we’re planning to can for the off-season.

One of the bowls of cleaned crab ready for the cooking pot.

One of the bowls of cleaned crab ready for the cooking pot.

Mark does all the cleaning.  My daughter and I don’t watch. He kills them humanely, cleans them before cooking, as they are scavengers and eat anything.  Drop a crab into a pot of nearly boiling water? Not appealing.  Cleaning them first makes for sweet, clean and tasty shellfish.

We’re  just outside of the fog belt, the sun’s playing with my eyes exactly where it was snowing, just an hour earlier.

If I close my eyes too long, it’ll be raining again.

Orchids in Spring

Orchids in Spring

I’ll set my sight on the promise of all that the rain brings in this most unusual place in the world.  Rain heralds the promise of all the beautiful, rare and unique gems to come.

It’s something wonderful.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!


That’s the advice, an idiom stemming from a truth.  The health and age of a horse  generally determined by teeth and hoof condition, though there are other indicators of both.

I’ll be looking a gift horse in the mouth today.  I’m not looking forward to it.

Amadeus, nearly four-year old gelding, isn’t eating anything except fine particles of hay.  He’s having difficulty walking and is generally depressed.  When he does eat, he quids, which means he chews the hay into a ball and spits it out. All of his feet are hot.  I think I’m dealing with two or three separate problems.

Close little herd.

Close little herd.

I took this photo in June of this year, and that’s Amadeus in the center.  You can see how mistreated my equine are. The hoops are for them – when we play together, I toss the hoops over their heads, on to their necks.  Eventually,  Amadeus and Starlight get too close and the game is over.  Getting closer to the treats is more fun, which are in my pocket and they know it.

The following shows Amadeus playing with his ball and feeling fine.


The hot feet could be from infected heel bulbs, which are at the back of the hoof and are swollen.  We’ve made “shoes” for him, cut from a gardening foam kneeling pad and wrapped around his hoof with Gorilla tape.  I soaked his feet in epsom salts last night, for a good cleaning, first.  All three equine are getting petroleum jelly rubbed on the heels and frogs.

We have mud here, and it’s higher than their hock bones.  There’s bacteria present in soil, no doubt and taking a toll on their hooves, especially the soles frog and heel.  For now, they’re relegated to the paddock, where the mares get irritable and pushy.  It’s the driest place I have for them.

Yesterday, I wrapped Amadeus and Starlight in thick plastic and taped it tightly, then let them out into the larger area, where you see them playing last July, featured in the above link.

I didn’t have my camera with me, as usual, but they reminded me of two big kids who were wearing ice skates for the first time and just got pushed on to the ice!  I had tears in my eyes as I laughed heartily at their entertaining slipping and sliding!

When I cut the skates off later in the day, I found tiny mud puddles, though it seemed to help keep their feet moderately free from mud.   Starlight didn’t know what to make of them, and walked like a Hackney Pony!

Starlight lifted her feet like this!

Starlight lifted her feet like this!

My mother bought Amadeus for me when he was six months old from someone in Atascadero, California, who raised miniature horses as a ‘hobby.’  No one wanted him and I thought that Starlight could use a pal, as she is closer to his age than Brandy, the old fart.  It cost more to have him shipped from Atascadero to the desert of SoCal, than for him.

Amadeus is nearly four now and in past months, we’ve found a few of his teeth.  I recall looking at his face and one of his front teeth was gone!  I thought he has rammed into the wooden fence rail during play, but realized it was a baby tooth and a new one would soon take its place. As I know it, between the ages of three and five, new teeth come in.

He could be losing a tooth, and the first tooth on top (called a ‘cap’)  could be putting pressure on the tooth coming in.   Or, it could be that because of chewing, he has some little points that have developed on his grinding teeth and in chewing, the point rubs against his cheek.

I had their teeth “floated” before I moved up in May, 2011.  Floating – odd term for filing off the points.

Next action?  Sticking my fingers in there along the side, to find any sharp points.  If I find sharp edges, I’ll need a special file and my special Mark to help me with the project.  I’m hoping to keep my fingers intact.

It’s not fun messing with a powerful little animal weighing over 300 pounds.  The first day I started treating his feet he was terrified and so sore, that he reared up on me, twice.  This makes him much taller and I’m smart enough to notice the signs and get the hell out-of-the-way.  I went back to him with patience and understanding.

There is an equine dentist who makes the rounds here in rural Crescent City, CA.  My farrier and equine vet told me the starting price and that the horse is drugged.  There’s no part of that idea that I like, so I’ll be looking a gift horse in the mouth today.



Tracing my ancestry, I uncover tidbits that make my eyebrows go  sky-high along with my signature “Hmmmmmm?” expressed in low to high notes.

I'm with ya!

I’m with ya!

Based on my amazing  powers of lateral thinking, logic and intuitive deduction, a recent discovery sets me wondering whether I should dig deeper or let it go.  So far, I have done nothing with my discovery, and will await the support and comments of my readers, which I value highly.


When seeking information or attempting to ‘locate’ an ancestor, I look at other family members, neighbors, events, or anything remotely related or questionable.  At times, I end up hopping down the bunny trail, so to speak, and then there are times like these –

About three months ago I noticed a record which had my grandfather’s name, (Henry Duato) his birth and death years, and the city in which he was buried.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t access any information or look at the record, as the family tree was ‘private.”  You see, folks on the ancestry site have the option to keep things to themselves or share what they have learned with others.  All my work is public, so anyone can view and take advantage of my research.

I sent a message to the person, and after months, I heard back.  He allowed me access to his family tree, and told me that he knew nothing of my grandfather – only that he had married his grandmother in later years.

After discovering where he’s buried, when he died, I didn’t think there was anything else to look at.  Al contrario!!

This applies perfectly.

This applies perfectly.

My grandfather, who is extremely elusive, had an unusual middle name and passed it down to his son, my birth father.  I discovered the death of my birth father through the ancestry site – and that’s another story.

Mrs. Henry Duato the second, had two children around the time she was with my grandfather.  Was she married to her first husband when the first of the two children, mentioned above, were born? I haven’t found source documentation yet.

One of the two sons wears the unusual middle name of my grandfather.  Delora.  This isn’t a name that you pull out of the air or even off of a list of baby names.  Delora?  Who names their son Delora?  It’s a woman’s name, the English equal to Delores.  The young man must have been teased incessantly.



You may know that in Hispanic culture, the mother’s name is often used as a middle name, and more likely it’s a surname. I’m guessing that Delora was my grandfather’s mother’s name. Many cultures honored and celebrated their parents, grandparents and other loved relatives, by carrying forward their names.  In large families, even given names were used repeatedly!  Perhaps that explains why so many folks ‘went by’ a nickname, either assigned or chosen.

So, the person who allowed me access to his private tree, appears to believe that his grandmother and  her first husband are his grandparents  and Delora is his father. Also, a second son born, was given the name Henry, this information gleaned from a couple of obituary records.  Does this seem a bit too coincidental to you?

I’m seeing a red flag and worms squiggling everywhere!

Which red flag should I ignore?

Which red flag should I ignore?

Need a clincher?  There is a personal notation in regard to Delora.  His Aunt and Uncle raised him for the first four years of his life, until his mother “came back” for him.  Yikes.  Where did she go?  Did she run off with my grandfather?  And why are these two offspring carrying names of my grandfather?  Were they having an affair?  Were they married?  Did someone get caught?  What?  And how do you leave and come back, to take a four-year old baby away from the only parents he’s ever known?  Ouch.

I haven’t asked the man anything yet.  I removed the middle names from my father and grandfather records on my family tree, leaving only the letter “D.”

If Delora was my grandfather’s son, then he would be my uncle. And the son of Delora would be my cousin. There may be other offspring from the couple, though  living people are completely private and difficult to track via internet.

I’ve thought for weeks about this.  I have no wish to hurt anyone.  Does a man have the right to know who his father was, if I am indeed correct?  Am I obligated to start spilling out the can of worms?  Conversely, do I ask or say nothing? Did Mrs. Henry Duato just happen to like the names Henry and Delora?

Agent Mulder

If I am correct, then the man who offered me a look on his private tree is a blood relative.

You may recall that my birth certificate lists a man’s name who is not my birth father, and if my mother hadn’t stopped me from seeking him out in my early thirties, and told me who my true father was, I would not have known.  My DNA test and family tree lineage proves my mother’s moment of truth.

With this knowledge, what would you do? A little something?  A big something?  Nothing? Ask a vague and leading question?


Is it selfish of me to want to know more, to know who I belong to? Will my wish for the truth be squashed to save the heart and feelings of another human being, related or not?  Finding the truth is a little cumbersome at times.



Time to make the donuts and other (not so) goodies!


I wake up naturally at 7-7:15 am – I’m ready to make the donuts, so to speak.  Here it is, 365 days of the year.

I throw on warm clothes, cut up some carrots for eight rabbits and one guinea pig and hand them out.  As soon as they hear me, they start dancing and swirling around, waiting for the start to their days.  Making the rounds, I visit four rabbit stalls (two in each) and QueeQuee, who’s already squealing.

They live inside with us, four ‘stalls’ and one  cage.  They take up quite a bit of  room in our tiny house.  Rabbits can’t be left outside – we have fox and other predators and they are sensitive and easily frightened.  I heard one of my rabbits scream once and I hope to NEVER hear that sound again.

Amalie & Didier in their living space, remodeled recently.

I grab a coat, hat and mud boots, go outside to my hay barn, collect the morning meal for my horses, who are watching my every move.  We had quite a storm recently, and attempting to keep the horses from sliding and even falling in the slick mud requires dedication, caring and plenty of physical exertion.

Amalie & Brandy, socializing, in the outdoor areas, several months earlier.

Dipsy waits by the front door now.  Since my daughter brought a kitten in, Dipsy rarely comes in the house.  She’s mad.  I’ve been coaxing her in, and she’s lying on a footstool next to me. The footstool has a name – The Stump.  Guess why!

Dipsy, before she got mad at us.

I feed her on the porch, as requested.  She won’t eat inside anymore.   After she’s done eating, I force her inside, to keep her from stalking and killing any of the Oregon Junco who visit each morning during this time of year.

Oregon Junco, here for the winter.

I wash some green vegetables or herbs for the rabbits.  Every rabbit requires 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh greens daily.  It gets expensive, and some days I gather dandelion, plantain and other edible greens.  Sometimes, they eat better than we do!  I may offer dried pumpkin or squash seeds that I’ve collected and dehydrated,  a fresh apple twig or top off their hay boxes with fresh hay.  Am I done yet?


I think so.  Now, it’s time for a cup of coffee.  I’m ready to do some research, write or crochet – nothing taxing.

But wait!  A few days ago, I wanted to go to the beach!  Point St. George, here we come!  Armed with a big plastic bag, two grabbers or pickers for beach trash, we went, after getting dressed, of course!

Tide was low, and the ocean beautiful as usual.  Anemone plentiful, and though we picked up a bit of trash, we didn’t get much that day.  The trash bin was full, so I hung my nearly empty trash bag in front.  Think anyone will take a hint?

I didn’t bring my camera.

Hey! How did you two get in here?

On the way to the beach, I noticed a woman with a small canvas sack walking in the grass, in front of the conifers along the roadway. Just ahead, a blaze of color!  She was gathering the fungi,  the classic Amanita muscaria, or Fly Amanita!

I decided to continue on to the beach, and look at the roadside on the way back, to see if she’d harvested the fungi.  She had, but there were some left, so we stopped and I pulled a few for study.

Stock pic of Amanita Muscaria, very well recognized classic mushroom

For three days, I couldn’t find my reference guide.  I kept the ‘shrooms in the fridge until I did.  Once identified, I put them next to the can for compost, on the floor.

I did see one yellow Amanita with the crowd. Looked just like this one.

Eating this fungi is not recommended, and since I don’t trip, I won’t be eating them.  According to David Arora, in All That the Rain Promises and More…, Fly, Panther and other Amanita  have intoxicating properties, known for centuries.  This group has potentially dangerous and unpredictable side effects.  They are, however, deliberately eaten by some people for the consciousness-altering effects.

As my mushrooms sat in a bag, they deteriorated quickly, and a brown puddle formed before I realized it.  They’re much larger than you may think they are.

That’s my hand and a mid sized Amanita.

After  I tossed them away, my left palm tingled for a few hours, even though I washed my hands immediately.  Ingest this ‘shroom?  I think not…

Salad plate sized Amanita

After tossing them, I did some research and found a website which offered about a pound of these, NOT FOR CONSUMPTION, at $255.00.  I’m aware that mind-altering ‘shrooms grow readily here in the Pacific Northwest, but no amount of money will drive me to collect for sale.  Further, it’s illegal in California to sell a magic mushroom.

I can’t do it.  I sure could use the money!  My family and animals need me, more than  I need the risk. Peligro!!

I’m looking forward to taking the Mycology class in January at the local Community College this year.

Sadie & Yoshi, my retirees & my first pair of rabbits, who desperately needed a home together. Tight is right!

Peligro! Risque! Danger!


For a good time, there’s no better place than home.

Recently, Mark went out crab fishing.  He’s one of the good guys – won’t keep the females or undersized crab.  Unfortunately, most other folks do,

and this will have serious consequences for the future of the Dungeness Crab.

We’re in agreement.  The commercial crab fishing season pushed forward

to December 15th, and this is the second push forward.

I wish there were someone on the docks here,

to put a stop to the short-sighted harvesting methods.

Mark brought home a two-pound crab.

My daughter, Mark and I stood at the counter and ate it together.

Watch out, coming through!!

How do we cook such a monster?

We think it inhumane to drop a living creature into a pot of boiling water.  Sure, crab are a bundle of nerves.  Do they feel pain? Some say yes, some no.  Regardless, we choose not to boil them alive.

An instant death by cracking the back over a counter edge works for us.  This crab went limp instantly when he smacked it one time against the side of his workbench.  Before that, the crab was a menace, threatening at every chance to make contact with one of those pincers!

Smile for the camera!

When Mark pulled the crab up from the Pacific, it had already torn one of the pincers off of another, smaller crab.  The competitor was thrown back, sans one pincer.

As a teen, I enjoyed taking the bus to my favorite Deli and buying a crab submarine sandwich.  Those days, crab was really crab and de-licious!  I’d missed it over the years and never dreamed I’d taste crab as fresh and fine as that.

Our fresh crab was no more than two hours from the Pacific Ocean to our mouths.  The taste was exceptionally delicate, buttery and beyond comparison.  I look forward to more of the same, if only the folks would not think of  one meal, but many meals.

Do you like me now?

To get a good idea of just how big the crab is, Mark is 6’4″ and weighs 230 pounds.

Tomorrow, more dangers in the Pacific Northwest!

A Question of Love – Part Two


Antique embroidered motto, in my home.
Words to live by.

Certainly, those of you who read my blog are wondering where I’ve been.  I’m still here. I’m working long hours in researching my family tree.  While doing so, I seek information on the lives of my more recent or notable ancestors.  In time, all will be in a book.  I have more stories to tell than I can write here.

If you haven’t read the first part of a-question-of-love I’ll suggest that it’s a good place to go now.

Through the miles and space, time and wonder, I’ve connected with a descendent of Florence Patton. So!  She was loved after all, and continues to be!

How can this be? .  Were we in the right place at the right time?  My instincts, and hers, indicate that we’re highly intuitive and our inner light reached one another through the spirit of the deceased and the brightness of our own inner lights.

Together, we’re working on discovering who the UNKNOWN marked sites are, which now have names scratched into them.  You see, Florence Patton’s maiden name was Booth. Florence had children.  I learned this through census records before I connected with her descendant, who wishes to remain anonymous.   I respect her wish to keep certain things private.

She’s not anonymous to ME. She lives in another state.  She asked for a photo of a relative’s gravesite through a well-known website, and though it, I felt compelled to contact her, even though her request had been fulfilled.  I wasn’t thinking about Florence or the name of the person in her request.

What do you think?

I think, it truly IS, a Question of Love.  My heart is so full of it, it’s spilling out into the world, to reach anyone whose heart is open to it.

More to come. First I have to visit with Florence…

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