Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Comings and Goings

This herd of turkeys was on some sort of mission yesterday afternoon when I drove this route to town.  They live near Betty Berger Pass on North Kootenai Road.  

With prominent "No Hunting" signs along the fencelines, turkeys and deer live the good life on the Berger farm.  

So, these birds were not in too much of a hurry to get out of sight cuz they knew the likelihood of their ending up on someone's holiday platter is pretty slim. 

I didn't have time to ask them any questions while taking their photos because I was on a mission of my own----to pick up a bag of Purina Puppy Chow.  

With all the comings and goings today, I figured I'd better have everything ready for Puppy Pick-Up Day, which starts bright and early Friday morning.  

Each day of relative quiet here at the Lovestead makes me all the more aware of how much it's gonna change for a while as Little Liam makes his adjustment and as Kiwi and Foster make their adjustment to Little Liam.  

The nice part about puppies is that plenty of good comes with the deposits and the active teeth. 

Today is a definitely a day of comings and goings. 

Annie is traveling to Kauai for her Thanksgiving break.  She just texted that she's been upgraded to First Class on her flight this morning, so the trip is starting out well.  

Should be fun for all of us to enjoy the island life vicariously as Annie does her exploring of yet another new traveling frontier on her very active docket.  

The locals among the family are staying home for Thanksgiving and two brothers are coming from Montana and Oregon, respectively.  A third brother will come up this weekend after spending turkey day with his daughter in Plummer.  

Bill just had to go to work, and that was painful for him to leave the house this morning because the ZAGS have gone to the Bahamas and their first game of the Atlantis Tournament is coming up soon-----at 9 a.m. PST on ESPN2.

Guess I'll have to yell and scream to make up for all those who have to go to work.   

The ZAGS will be playing the University of Washington Huskies-----a first meeting after many years of not playing each other.  

Both teams are strong (they each scored more than 100 points in their last game), so it should be a nip-and-tuck nail biter. 

When we go to Hunters on Friday to pick up Little Liam, many folks will be headed to the mountain.  Yup, Schweitzer is looking really pretty this morning with its deep pink hue, thanks to a lovely sun and a clear day. 

Skiing will commence Friday and through the weekend.  I've read there's not a LOT of snow up there, but with the snow making machines, the runs are reportedly navigable. 

It's definitely looking like some good days ahead as the snow we received yesterday has ceased and the landscape is mostly white and beautiful.  Cool, crisp weather will keep it that way, and nobody's complaining.

Happy Wednesday.  GO ZAGS!  Safe travels and much holiday cheer to all! 

In the "This Just In" department, Sandpoint's Cindy Wooden won't be home for Thanksgiving.  She has headed off to Africa to cover Pope Francis' latest trip.

And, a few minutes ago, she posted this selfie aboard the Vatican jet while the Pope was visiting with the Vatican Press Corps.

You can read about Cindy's life as the Vatican Bureau Chief for Catholic News Service in the latest Sandpoint Magazine, available around town or you can view the flip version online at

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Of Jail Bait, Butterballs and Duct Tape

It's transport Tuesday.  Butterball will take a trip over to Colburn later this afternoon where its final feast preparations will be made. 

Our turkey day will be held at my sisters' home, as will the Christmas feast.  I finally came to the realization that our house is just too small for a crowd of any size.  

So, I proposed to my sisters that they host the holiday dinners, and I'll be happy to do the summer and fall barbecues where bodies don't have to sit around like sardines in a can.  

Their house is not big, but it has a lot more wiggle room than mine.  So, they seemed okay with the idea.  Looks like we'll have at least nine at the table on Thursday. 

Part of the agreement involved my offering to purchase the turkey and provide several other ingredients for dinner, including rolls, jelly, sweet 'taters, cranberries and turnips.  

Turns out my sisters already had cranberries, so mine will be put on hold for another day. I never have to purchase too many turnips because seldom do I see anyone asking for a second helping at the table.

But Mother always had turnips at the table, so we keep up the tradition, and most everyone samples a bite or two. 

I bought Butterball last week at Yoke's and figured I'd drop the bird off a few days early. 

My sister Barbara, head turkey preparer at the Tibbs sisters' house, refused to accept delivery of the 22-pounder until today.  

I tried to assure her that Butterball would be stored in an ice chest, which could sit on her deck in the cold air until stuffing time. 

"I don't want a turkey in an ice chest on my deck," she emphatically announced, suggesting that hungry dogs might come along, break into the chest and make off with Butterball just like those Bumpus hounds did in Jean Shepherd's classic story about the Easter ham. 

"I can put duct tape around the lid," I suggested.

That ignited even more indignation from the older of my younger two sisters who, apparently in a holiday spirit, have been putting postings on Facebook lately, suggesting where exactly I might fit in the sister dynamic.

The most recent:  we three are part of a prison gang. and I'm the sister who teams up with Barbara at cracking the security system, while Laurie, Barbara's cell mate, escapes with a bed sheet.  

This time they even added our dear friend Ruthann Nordgaarden who "sucks up to the guards."

I just don't understand why----if we're all a bunch of thugs about to make a prison escape over the river and through the woods before Thanksgiving----that having duct tape on the Butterball ice chest sitting out there on the deck for all the hungry dogs and the public to see should bother Barbara so much.  

Seems to me that if we've gone to jail, we've already diminished any sense of dignity we've spent our entire lifetimes earning.  

A little duct tape to hold the turkey in place isn't gonna harm our public personas THAT much. 

Anyway, Butterball has remained in an untaped ice chest at my house, out of sight from hungry dogs but in the midst of Kiwi in the garage.  

Kiwi is a dignified dog, unlike the Bumpus hounds, which were always hungry and crude as they lived next door to Jean Shepherd's childhood alter ego with their equally disgusting hillbilly family.

Not once has Kiwi gone over to the ice chest to sniff out Butterball.  She's a blue-blood dog, for sure. 

Well, as I said, today is delivery day, and I have a feeling Barbara might be out in the barn when I show up with Butterball, so I have prepared the storage container and will place it on her deck. 

When she comes up from the afternoon barn chores, she'll easily find Butterball as the ice chest has been labeled and secured shut.   

Then, she can continue the turkey transport into the house where the big bird can gradually thaw and get ready for Thursday morning's official stuffing ceremony.

And, speaking of birds, our rare bird is still hanging around near the sliding-glass door. 

Yesterday, a noted local birder called up, reported to me that my friend Terry Gray who lives in Moscow had called him and told him he'd better get on over to the Lovestead.

Rich Del Carlo walked into the house in time to see the Brown Thrasher fly off. He hung around waiting for it to return, but no luck.  I even sowed sunflower seeds on the ground around the feeder. 

This bird is pretty sly and vigilant.  It knows when a crowd shows up, so it hides (and not inside an ice chest). 

When the crowd dies down, the bird comes back and starts foraging on the ground around the feeder.  

I spent some time yesterday afternoon watching and snapping a few far away photos as it swooped in and out from the feeder area.   This morning, it was back.

So, we're hoping the rare bird sticks around.  We've promised that we'll never stuff it inside an ice chest and duct tape the lid shut. 

I hope it believes us. Besides, if I did something like that, that jail bait story with my sisters might come true, and I'd have to ask my friend Ruthann to do some sucking up to get me out in time for Thanksgiving. 

Happy Tuesday from the Lovestead Butterball Transport Center.   

Monday, November 23, 2015

Window Watching

It's that time of year when I spend considerably more time than usual watching "the watch."  

And, when one watches them watch, interesting situations and even "rare birds" may appear in the scene. 

I don't know who enjoys "the watch" more----the squirrel or the dogs, but I do know that after Bill and my watching the watchers yesterday, the squirrel would really like to be friends with either Kiwi or Foster.  

After Foster spent some in-house watching time with SQUIRREL, he went outside and watched some more.  As Bill was watching through the window at his desk, he summoned me over to join him.  

The squirrel and Foster were watching each other on ground level.  And, as I stood, there, the squirrel even came over toward Foster, halting at about two feet away. 

Foster just kept on watching, so the squirrel returned to the tree. 

As with most squirrels, ours is quite the acrobat.  So, we often enjoy our own version of "American Squirrels Have Talent," in the warmth of our living room.

As for Kiwi, she likes to divide her watching between the squirrel and the horses.  The horses don't mind, and they don't stare back like the squirrel.  

They just keep on eating but occasionally get reprimanded for some mysterious pasture infraction----maybe they're sticking their tongues out while nibbling grass.  

I don't know. 

After years of watching the dogs engage in these sudden but brief fenceline outbursts of growling and running back and forth several times,  I have yet to figure out what horses have done wrong. 

Anyway, as yesterday proceeded, watching outside action from within the living room got more interesting. 

I was talking on the phone and watching out the sliding glass door when a strange bird touched down at the feeder. 

I even interrupted my friend Helen, blurting, "What kinda bird is that?"  She didn't seem to mind or know the answer, so our initial conversation continued.  

Well, later, I was actually outside when I saw the strange bird again.  It took off from our kennel and flew over to the feeder, landing on the ground, scurrying around and making strange blowing sounds. 

I went into the house, grabbed my camera and prayed the the bird would hang around long enough for me to take a photo. 

It obliged. 

Later, while looking at the photos, I concluded I'd never seen a bird like that, but time did not allow me to thumb through the bird book.

So, this morning, I went on our class website and sought out information from my friend Terry (one of our region's most respected birders) and/or my friend Janet, who's watched a bird or two in her lifetime.

Well, Terry solved the mystery, and now I do know that a rather rare bird has visited the Lovestead.  And, another friend, Don Shaffer, seconded Terry's comments.  

Terry Gray This is a very lost bird. Looks like a Wood Thrush, a very rare visitor from eastern North America that lives in damp shaded deciduous woods. What a cool bird to have as a yard bird! This looks like a FIRST RECORD for Idaho and if it remains I am sure Birders are going to want to see this bird if it is ok to you???
LikeReply1 hrEdited
Terry Gray Oops. It is not a Wood Thrush but is a Brown Thrasher, still a very rare bird for north Idaho considered a rare 5 Species with only 3 - 10 accepted records and this may be the first record for the Idaho Panhandle.
UnlikeReply11 hr
Don Shaffer Birds of North America page 226 describes a Brownthrasher..... Would appear to be rare in North Idaho.

Pretty cool what can happen while window watching.  So, the dogs and the humans around here are gonna keep up the winter fun.  

After seeing the "rare bird" yesterday, I remembered that it was Thanksgiving Day last year when the true blue jay showed up at the feeder and stayed for a couple of months.

So, I went to Co-Op and bought some peanuts, just in case it decides to come back for its Thanksgiving meal.  

If not, I'm sure the squirrel will happily perform for peanuts, and, for sure, we'll be watching! 

Happy Monday. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Just Sunday Stuff

Leaf trees are pretty much empty, which means no more major leaf pickups which means the lawnmowers could be put away for the winter. 

The little bit of leftovers from this year's leaf drop can provide me some minor raking duties, and even if I don't get them all cleaned up, the lawn will look pretty nice for spring.

Ironically, the yard looks a whole lot better than it did during most of the summer when the intense heat dried it up, turning it yellow. 

In other news, our water came back around 10:30 yesterday morning.  We survived the inconvenience just fine, and we're thankful for the quick work of those who found the leak in the main and repaired it. 

Lots of hard-working folks are out there, making sure the rest of us can lead lives of relative comfort, and their efforts and extra hours on the job are so appreciated.

Yesterday, Bill fixed a gate leading into the first pasture.  Dang thing is so heavy, and its upper connection to the post where it's attached went bad.

The last few mornings of taking horses to pasture have been extremely difficult with that gate----so heavy and so ground into the ground from that weight---that I could barely budge it. 

Now, it's on new hinges and attached considerably higher.  The gate swings open and closed with ease, making it much easier to hold a horse and open the gate at the same time.  

While Bill worked on the gate, I moved the lawnmowers to a shed down the lane and then covered them with a tarp, weighted down with dozens of pieces of wood.  Hope the tarp stays put when the next wind blows through.

We enjoyed the ZAGS game last night with more than enough pizza, salad and munchies. Since we're so short of sitting space here at the Lovestead house, Maryann brought her own chair.  

She said it was pretty comfortable sitting down there on Foster's level while watching the ZAGS pull off a big win with more than 100 points. We also celebrated her recent birthday with cake and ice cream.

Speaking of birthdays, I'll let my blog editor off the hook this morning, hopefully with no errors, as it is Helen's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Helen.  Thanks for your sharp eye each morning. 

Bill is taking off for Spokane today to watch the Lady ZAGS play and maybe even the game afterward.  Willie and Debbie are accompanying the Young Lady Bulldogs from Sandpoint High to the game.  Should be a nice treat for all.  

I'll keep track of animals while everyone else is in the big city.  

It's a lovely Sunday with appreciated running water and without a whole lot more to discuss, so I'll just leave it at that. 

Enjoy your day. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Diary of Pioneer Woman at the DRY Lovestead---Hopefully Brief

Let's just say the day hasn't started so well. 



"There's no water."

Not good words but at least the coffee maker is set up the day before WITH water. 

That said, the routine has changed abruptly this morning.  

Initial Internet surfing usually comes AFTER the morning bath.  

I'm hoping the morning bath comes sometime this morning, but I won't hold my breath.

We're also hoping the water outage is NOT limited to the Lovestead.

Not that we wish ill will on our neighbors, but knowing that it's a water system problem and not an on-site broken pipe somewhere at the Lovestead would be reassuring. 

At least the Internet doesn't know I'm using it in a not-so-squeaky clean state. 

But wait! Yes, it does because I've leaked the information . . . no pun intended.  Nothing is really leaking around here so far today except my information. 

I have had time to read through the morning news on the Internet, and some of the ugly world events have hit home, albeit indirectly.

Brussels is now on high alert.  Our friend Koen, whom we met in Dublin at the geocaching event which Annie scheduled two years ago, owns a taxi company in Brussels.  

I've written him a note, and he has written back, telling me this is so hard to explain to his children.  He says Brussels is like a ghost town. 

I told him my water problem seemed pretty insignificant compared to how they're living their lives at the moment. 

At least, we are inconvenienced but feeling relatively safe to go out our doors, for now anyway. 

Update:  I have now learned at 5:46 a.m. that we are not alone in the water outage.  My neighbor Janice reported that up north on South Center Valley Road, she has no water and, like me, is very happy that she prepared the coffee maker last night. 

It's about time for me to go out and tell the horses they should be very happy that their water trough is full.  

Stay tuned.  More to come in the "Diary of Pioneer Woman . . . ."

Back again:  I've produced a video on how pioneer women prepare the bath water when their tap water doesn't drip.  

Video production was something to do while the water was warming up in the kettle on the stove.

Other people in the Oden Water System family are getting up now and noticing the "no flush" signal on their toilets.  Well, actually, you do get one flush, but that's it, and that happens so fast you don't have time to think about preserving that toilet water for future deposits. 

People were wondering if the the people who run the water system know that the water isn't running.  I responded that they probably know and that they probably haven't had a very good night.  

During the summer of wind storms, we were without water for a couple of days on at least one occasion, so we know we need to plan for the long haul of no-drip living. 

Bill and I have both taken our Selle sponge baths, and, after watching my instructive video called "Improvisation," I'm sure a few more in our neighborhood have too. 

We shall monitor this situation closely, as the Lovestead is supposed to host the ZAGmania food fest tonight.  

For a brief time, I thought we could probably manage since we're just putting pizzas in the oven and throwing salad in a bowl, but then I remembered that we have no outdoor john here.  

So, if no water, we'll probably have to transport our feast ingredients over to my sisters' house.  

It's a setback, but we'll survive.  Much worse things are happening in the world, and we're not hiding inside our house for fear of being shot or blown up, so that's a good thing. 

More later . . . . off to check the faucet.  I'll update as the day's events unfold. 

Happy Saturday.  Run, WATER!  Go, ZAGS!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Finding Liam

Twas a sunny, crisp day in a pretty place far, far away from Sandpoint when I found Liam. Late next week, we'll return to that place in Eastern Washington and bring Liam home to the Idaho Lovestead. 

Somebody on Facebook commented on Liam's photo and said, "Love at first sight."  

That it was.  

"I've picked the one I want," I said----in all of 30 seconds----to Liam's human friends who had carried the three little boy puppies outside their house for me to see.  "Which one do you think?"

"The little one," one sister guessed.

"Nope, the big one with all the chrome," I responded. In my mind, chrome on horses and pups relates to the white markings.  

Somehow, in my experiences, it seems that a bond is formed almost immediately when a lovely creature sends the message, "I'm yours."  

That's how it was with Lefty when I picked him from 25 of his closest foal friends at a Ronan ranch eight years ago.  My sister had picked him the week before.  So, surely it was meant to be that Lefty would come to Idaho. 

I feel the same about Liam.  When I picked him up from the pen where he and his brothers were playing, he settled right into my arms, almost immediately meeting my eyes with an expression indicating that he felt perfectly comfortable with me. 

I don't know how the first meeting will be with Kiwi and Foster, who remained in the car when we paid Liam's family a visit yesterday near Hunters, Wash.

I suspect there will be some awkward, maybe even snarly moments when he first arrives home, but that probably won't last long, once the playing begins. 

Bill and I are both prepared for "puppy duty."  We've done it before, and we'll probably have a few nights when puppy duty isn't all that fun, but it's the big picture that counts.

Liam is as cute as he can be, so we'll let the love overrule the inconvenience of cleaning up a mess or two or hiding every shoe or boot in the house. 

Liam comes from a beautiful setting in a area I've never been before.  

Hunters is 28 miles from Springdale, in the heart of ranching country.  It's also where one of the huge Washington forest fires devastated the landscape in the mountains. 

Its open, rolling hills and long-established ranches added a wonderful dimension of bucolic charm to my puppy hunt yesterday.  

Liam's human family, which includes nine children, live a life of independence and old-time values in a "Little House on the Prairie" setting.

During my visit, we talked horses, wolves, Alaskan fishing, family life, Border Collies and---would you believe---the ZAGS!

Yes, even in far-off Hunters, Liam's family follows the ZAGS. 

It was a lovely experience, meeting little Liam Love, the adorable pup, sure to add a joyful new chapter to life at the Lovestead.   

And, having met his family, I think he'll be coming to us with a wonderful foundation where love for animals and each other definitely abounds.

Twas a good day's pilgrimage to Hunters.  I found Liam and discovered, for the first time, another patch of remote, rural beauty. 

Happy Friday.   

Thursday, November 19, 2015

TBT: It's a Black-and-White Kinda Day

I'll be seeing black and white today, and probably falling in love. 

By day's end, we could be looking ahead toward the arrival of a new member for induction into the Lovestead Border Collie Nation.

Twas eight years ago about this time of year that the photo above was taken of Brooke, Todd and Kea. 

I'll never forget coming home from an author conference in Southern Idaho to find not two but THREE pups racing around the house and four family members loving every minute.

It was a crazy, lovable scene, punctuated with a few------well, you know what puppies do!

When Willie and Debbie decided to get two pups AFTER my friend Mow had decided on one pup, Annie decided that Mom needed a pup too.

The Slaney family of Post Falls happily sent four BC's our way for distribution. 

So, Kea joined Todd, Brooke and Webster as in this active and energetic circle of "puppy love."  

Two months ago today, we lost Kea.  Hearts were broken, and very sad, frustrating times followed.

To say it has not been an easy fall after the loss of our beloved Kea is beyond understatement. 

After five weeks of daily tears triggered by reminders at every spot where Kea had shared her love with that characteristic wrap-around my leg coupled with her longing, loving look into my eyes----to be followed with "I love you.  You are a lovely dog," I finally regained some control over the sadness. 

Kea rests south of the house in a grave adorned with a potentilla and two lavender plants (given to me by the Viras of Ephrata).

I visit that grave almost every day and assure her that she is a lovely dog, that she is loved and that she is so missed. 

I think Kea would approve and probably second the motion that the joy of the Border Collie Nation must live on. 

Not that it doesn't still with Kiwi.  

She is a very happy 10-year-old, always there on these mornings since I've gone back to cleaning barns, always with a strategically placed pine cone for me to fling out the door and for her to race and grab for the next round. 

Our little Foster is a member of the Border Collie Nation, even though he's an Aussie.  

We happen to love Aussies---both four-legged and two---so of course, Foster can consider himself a naturalized BC. 

Today I will probably start a new chapter in our Border Collie Nation by visiting a home where the humans love their Border Collies as deeply as all other Border Collie humans do. 

You see the problem with Border Collie owners is that they have a hard time shutting up when they want to tell all the wonderful stories about their beloved dogs.  

These same people virtually go ballistic with any and all Border Collie sightings, anywhere in the world or on TV commercials.  

It's a deep love.  

I hope to add another dose of that deep love to our farm and to our family. 

I think Kea will approve.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Through rain, through snow, through wind, through sleet----this trio passes through, always grabbing a bite or two, always sneaking, always racing off after I take their picture. 


Ours is on.  We have no horror stories to tell . . . . yet. 

We were not among the many "powerless" in our area.

And, since it's dark out there, we can still assume that we have no damage from those forceful, loud winds which pummeled the region overnight. 

My sisters were powerless for most of the night.  Theirs came back on about 3 a.m.

Their telephone rang about half an hour ago with welcome news.   

No school. 

That makes them happy because now they can see in the daylight if their place suffered any damage from the wind. 

Even though we never lost our power through the entire storm, I did spend about an hour in the dark at a PEO fundraiser last night. 

I see this morning that my daughter-in-law did the same at another fundraiser.  Debbie and her friends spent their time in the dark at the Hive in downtown at a benefit for the local food bank where Debbie now works. 

By the way, Debbie, if you're reading this, tell Alice I bought a turkey yesterday at Super 1 and told 'em to save it for the Food Bank.  

Alice says they need 900 turkeys to help out local families this year, so if you're reading this, you're local and have some extra cash, you can buy a bird at any grocery store, and the grocer will see that it gets to the food bank. 

Money was really flowing at the fundraiser I attended.  All those dollars for gift baskets, centerpieces and a variety of crafts  go toward scholarships for young women. 

At both fundraisers, there may not have been light BUT there definitely was power in the name of "people power," aimed at doing good for others feeling powerless or for young people striving to enlighten their minds. 

I have now been outside this morning to assess.  Five pieces of metal flew off the eaves on our shop. One board on the barnyard fence separated from its post.  

Lots of little limbs scattered around the yard and, on Bill's tour of the woods, he counted three tree tops broken off.    

We were fortunate. 

This morning I went out to a barn where two horses spent a comfortable night, seemingly unaffected by the storm.  Last night was their first night spent confined in their box stalls. That's where they'll stay overnight for the rest of the winter. 

That means I'll be back to the morning routine of feeding, cleaning stalls and putting out the food for each night's meal. It also means I'll be listening to the radio a lot more in the morning.  

I always like the change to the winter morning routine and, along with listening to music, I enjoy those thinking periods while cleaning barns.  

This morning I'll be thinking a lot about yesterday---where we had three weather patterns in 12 hours-----pretty snow, ugly slop and scary winds.  

I'll also think about stuff going on in the world where it seems like everything is SO extreme these days.

Whatever happened to middle-of-the-road common sense?  

I'm thinking that many self-appointed pundits out there are developing a new style of thinking, thanks to the constant input from other social media pundits and from 24-hour news which takes one topic in the news and beats it to death.  

As soon as a new topic comes along, it gets beat to death, and all those minds who were so judgmental about whatever yesterday's situation happened to be, immediately switch gears and start some new ranting or pontificating on the latest topic, calling upon their vast storehouse of knowledge. 

Often they forget, in their newest rant, that they might just be contradicting some of the other strong views espoused and clung to so passionately in the past. 

Only problem:  one wonders how, in these swiftly moving cycles of reactive discussion, how they have time to fill their minds with new and adequate knowledge to engage in such omniscience.  

I think about that a lot and wonder when or if we'll ever return to a society that takes time to learn about things in depth and to make sure of facts before sharing opinions.

Just sayin'!

I used that little sentence above because it seems to be the in-vogue two-word conclusion for whenever we can't think of a better way to simply shut up. 

At this point, on a day where the sun has returned, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Off to the barn to do my shoveling and my thinking. 

Happy Wednesday.   GO ZAGS! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday TwitterdeeSNOWDAY

"Make sure she can start it," I heard Bill Pagano, Sr. say from his desk off in the corner of the lobby at Sun Rentals. 

A few minutes later, while standing near the second Mantis tiller the staff had brought out for me to take home on my rain check, I heard another announcement from another employee coming out the door.   

"He says to make sure she can start it,"  the staffer told his co-workers.  

I had tried to start the first machine, right after the employee fired it up on the first pull. Three pulls of the cord and nothing.

This situation yesterday morning was a lot like the mini tiller had behaved last week when I brought it home to work up my garden.  

That day I tried starting it so many times that I wore a blister on my index finger---even through my gloves. 

Midway through my attempts to get the thing working that day, I called the rental agency, seeking clues on what I must be doing wrong.  It had all seemed so simple at the shop, but, of course, I hadn't tried to start it there.  

The mechanic did.

After an hour or so of frustration and a litany of bad words that afternoon I finally gave up and took the tiller back to the rental agency.  

The counter clerk gave me a rain check, telling me I could come in any time in the next month to get a tiller.

So, yesterday when the machine refused to start with my woman's touch, I felt for certain that these guys had me pegged as a dumb woman.  

That was my assumption---not theirs---but I'm guessing those thoughts may have crossed their minds when I brought the tiller back the first day and the mechanic started it right up. 

"What am I doing wrong?" I asked as the two guys stood next to me during yesterday's visit. 

Then, one of them grabbed the cord and pulled and pulled.  No start'em!  

Sigh of relief from me!

They called the mechanic.  He took it into the shop and later, one of the staff members brought out an identical tiller with a blue ribbon tied to it. 

Turned out IT was a different tiller.

"Is there something wrong with the other one?" I asked, trying to stifle my glee that I didn't look so dumb after all. 

"Got a carburetor problem and air bubbles," the mechanic explained, and that information explained exactly why I had had so much trouble with it last week.   

The guys worked on the second tiller, started it up a couple of times and then asked me to do the same.

First pull, and it started easily.  I was happy.

I took it home, and once again, the machine started easily.  

I happily worked for about half an hour tilling up the garden to almost a powdery stage. Then, after a short break, I came back to top off the job, to make sure I hadn't missed any spots. 

Once again, the tiller started like a dream.  

Thirty seconds later, something didn't feel right.  I looked down and found a segment of one of the handles had broken off. 

"Oh, goodie," I said out loud, thinking those guys and Mr. Pagano were really gonna get a hoot out of this.  Upon closer inspection, I saw the remnants of a weld.  

Thank God.  I hadn't broken it after all.  The weld had simply given way.  

I washed the tiller, filled the gas tank and took it back to the shop where I met no skepticism whatsoever.  

"These are old machines," the employee told me, "but you'd better go inside and tell them."

It was a busy place, so I walked back outside and saw Mr. Pagano.  When I told him the weld had broken on the tiller handle, he simply asked, "Did ya get the job done?"

"Yes," I said. 

"Good," he responded and went about his business. 

I endeared a good amount of frustration on a job which should have been very simple, but I came away, very pleased with the service and, at least "outward" patience the staff and owner of Sun Rentals showed me. 

As a side note, I must give a shout out to the owners of A to Z Rentals also.  When a small tiller was not available, the owner immediately called Sun Rentals to see that I would have what I needed that day.  

The best part, besides these two businesses and their wonderful service:  my garden is tilled and now covered with about four inches of snow.  

Truly the nick of time.  

Yes, the weather forecasters said there might be snow today, but I don't think anyone expected this much.  It's heavy stuff and even heavier now that it's turned to rain. 

And, this afternoon, they've promised us "hurricane force" winds ripping through the area through midnight.  

So, we'll be buttoning down the hatches and hoping for the best.

At least, most of my preparation for the winter ahead is complete, especially due to some nice guys at the rental agencies.  

Small town stuff at its best!

Happy Tuesday.