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Archive for June, 2010

postheadericon Why I HATE, HATE, HATE Grasshoppers

photo by Pawel Kabanski/Flickr

Welcome to my nightmare!  I really, really have a thing about grasshoppers.  If they’re the itty-bitty type, I will squish them in a heartbeat.  The giant ones send me flying into the house and then begging Mr. MoonCat to go out to extinguish them.  The sad, sad thing is that I can tell you exactly when this trauma-induced phobia started.  Please shelter the children from this story of horror….

It was a warm summer day when my mom, my sister and I were driving up into the foothills to visit my Gramma.  The fields were all golden brown with the breeze causing ripples that looked like waves int the dried grass. We had the windows down, the sunroof open and were enjoying the trip…until..a GARGANTUAN grasshopper decided to terrorize me and end my “live and let live” lifestyle forever.

photo by DRB62/Flickr

This mutant terrorist (easily over three inches long) was on his assignment to GET JULES when he bounced off of my arm and landed inside the car.  He was on the headrest behind me and managed to get tangled in my hair.  I was screeching for some help, but my horrible, unfeeling mother and sister were laughing too hard to assist me.  The foul creature then decided to travel down the back of my tank top, scratching me all the way!  (If you look closely at the photos of the horrible creatures above and below, you will see their hooks, claws, and spurs…)  Anyway, his mission was obviously a one-way trip as he made the fatal mistake of continuing his path south and ended up IN MY UNDERWEAR!  (So you don’t think I was riding around in just a tank top and undies, my Wranglers tend to gap at the small of my back and my undies follow suit sometimes.)

photo by Bossco/Flickr
Now to add insult/embarrassment to my injuries:  Mom was slowing the car down to take an almost hairpin turn – while in hysterics, I remind you.  I took advantage of this to bail out of the car, drop my pants AND underwear and proceed to stomp the life out of the suicidal demon bug.  The mortifying part comes into the story due to the fact that there is a ranch house located right on the turn.  At that particular moment in time, standing under a tree with their horses, were 4 or 5 of the ranch hands.  They saw the whole dang thing and were laughing, whooping and hollering.  With absolutely none of my dignity left, I pulled up my drawers, waved to them like a parade princess and flounced back into the car.  I didn’t speak to the other inhabitants in the car for the rest of the trip.

Once we got to Gramma’s house, she was the only one who showed me any sympathy.  That is until Mom looked at my back.  I had vivid scratches all over my back with a couple of them even a bit bloody.  I think she felt a bit bad after that, my sister didn’t.

So, now you know the cause of one of my most irrational fears.  This is also why Mom didn’t say a word this morning when we were at the kitchen table and I suddenly went screeching at top speed outside with my basket of herbs.  Something similar to the photo below was sitting on top of my catnip, LOOKING AT ME.

Hopper from A Bug’s Life/California Adventure

postheadericon The Gardener’s Morning – Sunday Selections

The Gardener’s Morning by Howard Dolf is our latest addition to Sunday Selections. Enjoy this lovely poem and imagine yourself in the morning garden.
The Gardener's Morning at Red Barn Blue Skies

The Gardener’s Morning

 The robin‘s song at daybreak
Is a clarion call to me.
Get up and get out in the garden,
For the morning hours flee.


I cannot resist the summons,
What earnest gardener could?
For the golden hours of morning
Get into the gardener’s blood.


The magic spell is upon me,
I’m glad that I did not wait;
For life’s at its best in the morning,
As you pass through the garden gate.
– Howard Dolf

postheadericon Meanwhile, Back on the Farm

It seems like I’ve missed several of my regular “What I See Wednesday” posts lately so I’ll catch up a bit today with some pictures of what we’ve been up to around MoonCat Farms.

What I see when I take my tea out in the front yard and watch the sun come up:
Chandler & Cailen
We want toast too!
I’ve been shelling a bunch of these: (isn’t this a beauty of a pea pod?)
Doing a bit of sewing on these pretty little squares when I’m in the mood (not often, lately):
Patiently explaining to Mr. MoonCat exactly WHY the mints must be kept in planters:
Harvesting and drying lots of these marigolds and calendula blooms:
Now I’m off to experiment with recipes I’ve been playing around with that incorporate some of the mint and calendula that I’ve been picking.  Happy Weekend my friends!

postheadericon Winner – Anjan Book Giveaway

Congratulations to Nydia!  You’re the winner of this lovely book, Anjan by Larus Einarsson.  I’ll email you shortly for your mailing address.  Thank you for all for your comments and great summer reading suggestions – I’ve added them all to my list!

Don’t forget to enter the drawing for The Love Ceiling which ends 6/30.  We’ll also have the contest to name the colt Wedgie coming up for my 200th blog post – stay tuned my friends 🙂  Congrats again Nydia.

For those of you who didn’t win this time, Anjan is available HERE from Amazon.

postheadericon TLC Book Tours: The Love Ceiling Book Review and GIVEAWAY

I’d like to welcome all of you who are stopping by MoonCat Farms for the first time via the TLC Book Tour.  I hope you’ll enjoy this review and will stay and get to know us a bit.  Thank you as usual of course to our regular visitors and friends!
I was thrilled to be included as one of the tour hosts for the lovely author, Jean Davies Okimoto and her book: The Love Ceiling.
From the publisher:
After the death of her Japanese American mother, sixty-four year old Anne Kuroda Duppstaad finds the courage to confront the toxic legacy of her father, a famous artist and cruel narcissist, and begins pursuing her life-long dream to become an artist in her own right.
The Love Ceiling draws readers into the soul of a universal theme for women:  the pull between family and creative self-expression.  It is the story of a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mother and a grandmother, and a journey into creativity.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the publicists touting the book as a “coming of age novel for readers over 50…60…70…80…90…!”  I’m in my early 40s and I could see bits of myself in both the main character (64 yr old Annie) and her daughter Cass who is 32.  I would definitely change that blurb to include the 30 and 40 somethings as this book really does cover issues facing women in each of those decades as well as the older generations.  I’ve read several other glowing reviews of the book with many of the women even younger than I feeling the same way – “It’s For Us Too!”
One of my favorite spots in the book is something that I took to heart:
Ninety year old Martha Jane is setting up her easel and clips a small card to the top.  The card is hand lettered, in spidery script:
“Use the talent you possess,
For the forest would be silent
If no birds sang but the best.”
She notices Annie watching and explains, “It’s like a Bible verse for me.  I want to remind myself of this each day before I begin, otherwise, one can lose faith – even at my age.  I certainly won’t be Grandma Moses, but I can’t let that stop me, now can I?”
The author flawlessly weaves such tender and important moments into the story.   She introduces us to some lovely characters who we were left wanting more of (such as Martha Jane and their artist-turned mentor Fred).  But she also balances this out with the true-to-life, not-so-nice people who populate all of our lives.
The relationship between Annie and her dying mother as well as the relationship with her abusive father really highlight the influences parents can have on their children’s adult life.  This plays out as well when we start seeing things from daughter Cass’s perspective and the relationship she has with her own parents, Annie and Jack.  It’s interesting and dismaying when both Jack and Cass dismiss Annie’s part-time job as something small and frivolous.
The initial idea of the book comes from the author’s personal experience with an older aunt who was an accomplished painter.  When Ms. Okimoto visited her, expecting to see a bright, lovely studio – she was dismayed to find that her aunt was painting in a dimly-lit basement.  The title comes from the main character’s weary reply to a question from her husband:
‘”There’s a glass ceiling for women, Jack,” I stared at my painting in the dim light next to the washer and dryer. “And it’s made out of the people we love.””

I think so many women will end up doing as I did and reading this book in one day.  I became so enamoured of Annie and her story that I only surfaced for drink and restroom breaks and went back to catch up with her immediately.  If I were to have to find something negative or possibly less-than-glowing, it would be that I was left wanting more.  Of course this would actually seem a positive to me as it shows that the author has woven a fine story that you want to continue being a part of.

There is a reader’s guide at the end of the book that I think would be great for book clubs.  A lot of different discussions could be sparked by various points in this book.  The author has been involved in chats with book clubs across the country and can be contacted via her website.

Read more about the author Jean Davies Okimoto and be sure to check out the other great reviews The Love Ceiling has been receiving on the Jean Davies Okimoto’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Tuesday, June 1st: Book Club Classics
Wednesday, June 2nd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, June 3rd: Dolce Bellezza
Monday, June 7th: Lit and Life
Wednesday, June 9th: Rundpinne
Monday, June 14th: Joyfully Retired
Thursday, June 17th: Luxury Reading
Monday, June 21st: Erasing the Bored
Wednesday, June 23rd: MoonCat Farms Meanderings
Thursday, June 24th: carpe libris reviews
Monday, June 28th: Feminist Review
Wednesday, June 30th: Crazy For Books

Jean Davies Okimoto has graciously offered a copy of The Love Ceiling to one lucky MoonCat Farms reader.  I will announce the winner on June 30th.  Please leave a comment letting us all know what the last book is that you read.  PLEASE BE SURE TO LEAVE A WAY FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU.  You can gain extra entries by blogging about, tweeting, and/or posting about this review and drawing on Facebook.  Just be sure to let me know what you’ve done to get the extra entries!  If you don’t want to wait for the drawing, The Love Ceiling can be purchased on-line.  It would make a thoughtful gift for the women in your life.

Thank you so much to Endicott & Hugh Books, Jean Davies Okimoto, Lisa and Jennifer for this great opportunity and lovely book.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review and received no monetary compensation. The author has provided a copy of the book for the giveaway.