1. The heat is on. And so are wildfires. There is a fire in the Southern Sierra, by Lake Isabella (near Bakersfield), a good six hours south of us. I heard this morning that it has burned 60 homes with 1500 structures threatened. It is zero percent contained. The drought has turned the Sierras into a big pile of kindling. The pine trees are drought stressed and so bark beetles have been killing them off right and left. This past year 26 million (yes MILLION), pine trees died in the Southern Sierra. This brings the total of dead pine trees, in the past five years of drought, to 60 million. Here in the Northern Sierras, we have dead pine trees as well. We've lost a few on our property and they are visible everywhere you drive; stands of brown trees mixed in with the green. Fire season is just one more reason that I dislike these hot, dry summer months so much.
2. Brett has been busy. He finished up the mowing and weedwacking. We won't get any more rain until late fall so he won't have to mow again. Nothing is growing (except in the garden) and the grass is brown stubble. When we muck the pastures, our jeans are covered in fine dust. The horses keep a layer of dust on their coats, which helps protect them from flies.
3. Brett also painted the porch that wraps around the house. He's been wanting to do it since we moved in, but other projects have always taken priority. I'm not sure how it got bumped to the top... it couldn't have been the fact that we are hosting a BBQ for my department tomorrow, could it? Brett has this compulsion to have everything Better Homes and Gardens perfect, whenever we have guests. He threatened to power wash the barn aisle, as well. Me? I cleaned the barn bathroom and called it good.
4. Tex and I have a new area of focus. He's rock solid, and cool as a cucumber, with me standing next to him on the left, putting on his fly mask, and discussing life. Last evening, I thought I would stand on his right (since he is very skittish on that side) and see how that went. He flinched, and flinched, and flinched -- and then he backed away. This morning, I started on his left as usual. Since he can't seem to handle me walking in front of him and approaching his right side from the front, I went around the back. I ran my left hand along his back as I walked to his tail, scratched his butt as I rounded the back, and gave him soft, friendly rubs as I walked back up the left side to his shoulder. He didn't flinch, but he wasn't totally relaxed either. I stood there, shared a few cookies, and told him he was a brave boy. There are so many layers to this horse; it is going to take years to work through them all.
5. Next week Camille and I are going to be in Big Sur for a few days. We take a trip together every year; a mother-daughter vacation. We started the tradition when she was in high school. I took her on a trip as her graduation gift and we had such a good time, we decided to do it every year. Of course, that first trip was a big deal trip (France and London), and the four since then have been California destinations. This time we will be "glamping" -- staying in a yurt on the rugged California coast; drinking champagne, eating sushi, hiking (slowly on short easy trails since my foot still spends most of its time in an air cast), talking and laughing. I can't wait.