Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: neighbor kids playing on the roof

Sorry about the poor picture quality, but I was at quite a distance and taking the pictures through glass. That's a two-story house.

For more Wordless Wednesdays, go HERE.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dinner with some pleasant folks

My sister, when she isn't in Texas for the winter, lives not so far away in Kansas City, North. Her only son, on the other hand, lives way out in Kansas; and her two grandsons are in the Oklahoma City area. We don't see Maxine all that often, and we hardly ever see her son, grandsons, and their families. Her son, Larry, and his wife Deborah were in town with their granddaughter, Emalee. So Maxine invited us, as well as our daughter and her family, for a meal.
Rachel's girls blew bubbles with Em.
She's a bit shy. Her grandma wanted so badly for her to show us how well she could read (she's six), but no way was she doing that! She did give us all a big hug when we left, though.

My sister makes the best lemon pie I've ever tasted, and that's what I had for dessert at her house yesterday. She got the recipe years ago from the newspaper: Ann Landers' Lemon Pie. I could absolutely eat the whole thing, and I even thought about it as I drifted off to dreamland last night. Her daughter-in-law, Deborah, asked for the recipe and requested that she write in on a card for us. I'm going to share it with my readers under its new name, and in my sister's handwriting: Maxine's Lemon Pie.

Please don't invite me to your house if you're making this pie. I don't know when to stop, and visions of lemon pie haunt me for days afterward.

By the way, Maxine only uses fresh-squeezed lemon juice, not the bottled stuff.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My cabin

My original reasons for wanting a cabin in our woods were these:

I like to camp out; Cliff does not.

I wanted someplace to escape the feeling that there were always eyes on me; no matter where I went in our old yard, somebody was lurking. I said many times, "I may as well live in the city!"

I wanted my dog to be able to sleep on my bed sometimes.

I love the woods.

I enjoy a campfire.

So, Cliff kindly rebuilt a discarded pool house someone had given us years ago, and there was my cabin. I used it almost once a week, the first summer.

The next summer, Cliff was recovering from CABG surgery (heart bypass) and I really didn't want to sleep anywhere but beside him.

Last year I went to the cabin perhaps half a dozen times.

Originally I had visions of cooking breakfast and making campfire coffee. In reality, though, I found it preferable to walk to the house, once I awoke in the morning, and have some really good coffee. The only cooking I did at the cabin, as it turns out, was to put hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick and roast them.

Still, when the crowds closed in on me, I loved having my retreat. Cliff built me a crude outhouse there, but I usually ended up "going" on the grass. That's because I rather feared what might be lurking in the outhouse after dark.

This year, I've spent exactly two nights at the cabin, and here we are at mid-summer.

The thing is, now that we're in the mobile home, I'm not overrun with kids and dogs and noisy motorcycles. I seldom see any dogs here except for Sadie, and I can barely hear the idiot on the four-wheeler who used to grate on my last nerve.

Oh, and I bought a fire pit, so I can have a campfire right here at the house if I so desire.

Tuesday evening I decided Sadie and I would sleep at the cabin. We went back around 7 P.M., and I started a nice bonfire before I inflated the air mattress. I ate supper at the house, so there was no food this time.

Notice the grass grown up in my fire ring.

Sadie played with a young toad for over an hour.

It's still relaxing back there, and enjoyable. I went to sleep to the music of frogs and cicadas, with my dog beside me.

I believe I'll keep the cabin, even if I only use it three or four times a year.

Monday, July 21, 2008

We rode the Gold Wing today.

Because of all our moving and improving the place this year, we've not been taking enough time to ride our Gold Wing. A couple of weeks ago, I informed Cliff that we are going to make it a priority to get at least one good ride in every week.

Unfortunately, it was time for Cliff to mow, cure, rake and bale two different hayfields, so we weren't able to carry out our intentions. This week I decided to get our ride in early, before some task comes along to steal away our fun.

Cliff is the type person who can't stand to be having fun if there's something he should be doing at home... except when he's on the motorcycle. That seems to be the one thing he can actually let himself enjoy; in fact, riding is a tension-reducer for him, and I can feel his cares float away as we ride.

When we left home, we didn't have a specific goal in mind; but I suggested we go across the river to Richmond, Missouri, and take any blacktop going east or west out of town. Actually we went on through the town to a road we've been on before in the car when we were going after sheet metal at a place run by Mennonites; but we'd never gone past that location.

We went through the town of Cowgill, which seems to be on its last legs; and then through Braymer, taking back roads all the way. We love the country blacktops: There's little traffic to contend with, so we can go at our own pace and enjoy the views.

These faded old falling-down barns are almost a thing of the past. Most of them have caved in and disappeared.

Any time Cliff sees a tractor for sale, he slows down enough to see what model it is. He isn't shopping for a tractor, it's just a fascination of his. He decided this was a nice one.

Coming back through Richmond we found a nice place for our usual picnic: a can of sardines, carrot sticks, crackers, a banana, and a Diet Coke. The day was heating up pretty fast, but there was nice shade and a cool breeze in the park.

This airplane is displayed in the park. I don't know what its significance is.

By the time we got home at 12:30, it was getting too hot for riding. As I came inside the house, once again I thanked God for my air conditioning. As I type this, it's 95 degrees outside.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Busy, busy

When Cliff mowed the clover/grass hay, there were chances of rain forecast for almost every day. He decided to go ahead with mowing and hope for the best. No rain came, and he got the hay baled yesterday. The good thing about big bales of hay is that he moves them with the tractor: No tedious loading little square bales onto a wagon, then unloading them in the barn, in 90 degree heat.

Here's just one thing I love about living in the pasture: I can watch the haying process from the comfort of my air conditioning. Once Cliff puts up the bales, I have a clear view of the point where the horses often graze.

The horses aren't interested in hay now, but it'll look good to them this winter. We have more than we need, so we'll be selling some.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Hitchhikers!

Cliff and his sister with her dog Angel, mowing clover. (Click on the picture to make it larger.)

busy times around here

That's the porch being added onto the front of our home. I wonder if the roof will be added tomorrow?

In the evening, I can sit on my front porch and watch the horses in their favorite lounging area. We have no idea why they don't go to a nice, shady spot. Oh no, they'd rather stand in the direct sun in the heat of the day so they can make life difficult for Cliff when he wants to get a tractor through that gate.

Cliff is mowing the grass/clover field as I type this. We call that particular tractor "Big Ugly" because that's what it is: big and ugly. Actually I got that name from somebody on a message board, and I don't think they were talking about a tractor. But it fits the old Case, anyhow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are Americans really whiners?

The price of gasoline is affecting us all, of that there is no doubt.

What we all tend to forget is that we in America have it better than most of the citizens of the world.

My parents told me about the Depression (with a capitol "D").

I know what hard times are.

So far, Cliff and I haven't had to give up anything to which we are accustomed. Of course, we don't smoke... if we did, that would be the first thing to go.

I am sure that when Cliff retires in a couple of years, we'll feel the squeeze.

But we'll cope, and probably get by much better than people did in 1932. Or than people in Africa do today.

I've never had to go to bed hungry.

I've never been without adequate clothing.

If it should come to that, I'll start complaining... maybe.

Or perhaps I'll remember what a good life I've had, and keep my mouth shut.

I just can't help counting my blessings.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Got a dog that sheds? (thanks for the heads-up, daughter Rachel)

The worst thing about my dog Sadie is her shedding. Even though she's short-haired, she has an undercoat that puts more hair in my house (and in my Dyson) than you can imagine.

Cliff's sister Rena lives next door now, and she loaned me this little item:

It's the Furminator!

Can you see all those hairballs I got off Sadie? That isn't even half of them; some blew away. And I'll bet if I wanted to spend another hour, I'd get three times as many.

And Sadie can rest SO much better now that she knows she won't be shedding as much. I just took this shot of her under the baby bed in my computer room; it's her favorite spot, especially when I'm at the computer.

I see the Furminator is pricey, but I say it would be worth every penny.

An early-morning ride

With temperatures most days going into the 90's, it's been too hot to ride Blue during the main part of the day. Last night I put him in a pen near the barn so I could enjoy the early-morning hours today.

The sun was just coming up as we traveled the road to the river bottoms. (I need to trim Blue's bridle path; he's looking a little bit "punky".)

We had to wait for a coal train to pass.

Then we headed east with the sun directly in our eyes.

We've had an abundance of rain this year, and there was still water standing in some areas; the egrets enjoy these places.

Hopefully if you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see egrets in the water and also flying away. You can also see my little town's water tower in the distance.

Shadow against the wheat-stubble.

Can you see the tiny new soybean plants?

Heading home, I enjoyed the verdant landscape: Tassled corn in the foreground, dark green soybean field in the distance.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More on my blue canning jars

Some research on the Internet has led me to believe the jars pictured in my previous entry were made between 1923 and 1933.

This goes along with a story my mother often told me.

Mother acquired a lovely little girl (around four years old, I believe, at the time) when she and my father married in 1932: my half-sister, Maxine, whose mother had died giving birth to our brother.

Someone asked Maxine if she was getting plenty to eat now that she had a step-mother (she called Mother her "foot-mama" at first).

"Oh, I should say we do!" Maxine reportedly replied with great enthusiasm. And then she started naming all the individual things they had been eating, including many canned goods given to them by my maternal grandma as sort of a wedding gift... peaches, green beans, jam, and so forth.

I like to think these old jars are the ones Grandma gave to my parents, full of things so delicious that the flavors and abundance amazed a little girl who had been without a mother for a while.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Old canning jars

I'm still working on clearing out the "junk room" in the upstairs of our old house. I've really been dragging my feet on the closet-full of canning jars; I recall buying so many cases of them when money was truly tight. They seemed like a treasure to me at the time, and I proudly filled them with peaches, green beans, tomatoes, blackberries, and jams and jellies of all flavors.

In my older age, I grew weary of the whole gardening-and-canning process; I ended up throwing so much stuff away because it got old before Cliff and I used it. And the truth is, it just isn't fun any more.

But I kept my jars. A whole closet full of boxes and boxes of canning jars.

I resolved to give them all away; after all, I don't think I want to do much canning in the future.

Then I thought about the way prices are rising and decided to keep half of them.

As my sister-in-law, Rena, and I began hauling them to Cliff's shop, he figured we'd better keep them. After all, we may have to garden and can to survive.

But when he saw how many I had, he hollered "uncle" and said, "We have plenty; give the rest away."

I agreed, but there were certain jars I had inherited from my mother with which I cannot part.

The beautiful blue jars. I assumed they were all identical, but then I looked at the bottoms and saw different numbers and letters on them:

There's an underlined 9, an underlined G or 6, and a couple of zeros. All of this means something to a collector, I'm not sure what; the information I got from Google is limited.

Those seams down either side also date the jars somehow; if I understood what I read, I think it means they were made before 1937. But I might be wrong.

See the seams?

Oh, and the delightful flaws in these old jars. I'm not sure how well it will show up in the pictures, but there are bubbles in the glass!

Now for a special treasure....

Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason!

It has even MORE bubbles in the glass; I'm assuming it's the oldest of the lot.

But what makes these jars special for me is knowing my mother used them for years before passing them on to me; maybe my Grandma even used them! I have used them all, not even thinking about their possible worth. (Their worth isn't really all that much, by the way: Anywhere from $5 to $25, best I can determine.)

So, now that you know I can't part with them, do you have any suggestions for their use?

Somebody just shoot me.

Added later: I found an informative article with a chart which explains how to date Ball jars by the way the logo is made. Click HERE and scroll to the bottom.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mixed feelings about Wal-mart

Flipping channels a couple days ago, I happened upon a movie telling what's wrong with Wal-mart.

The movie has torn me in two.

See, with the money crunch we're all experiencing, I go to Wal-mart because they have the cheapest prices, by far.

But after seeing how they treat their employees, I wish I were rich enough to shop elsewhere.

The pitiful economy has made me a slave to Wal-Mart; I hate that idea.

Now, the part about all their goods being manufactured in China doesn't bother me so much, because I worked at Kohl's Distribution Center for almost five years. So I realize that the stuff most retailers sell originates in China; don't blame Wal-Mart for that.

But seeing that movie certainly put a bad taste in my mouth.

And yet, where else will I get $4 prescriptions?

I hate being in a position like this.

At least I guess I could drop Sam's Club and switch to Costco; do you suppose that will make a difference?

going to the dogs, and motorcycle riding

I realize my posts have been rather disconnected lately, but that's life.

Cliff and I have been taking daily walks in our pasture for three years or so; in fact, it was those walks in the pasture that were causing Cliff to have angina, which got him to the doctor in time for his life to be saved by a four-way bypass. His sister, Rena, is living next door now, and she's started taking walks with us. She has a tiny miniature dachshund, Angel, who keeps up with us in spite of her short legs.

Our daughter and her husband are working long hours this week, so they dropped their dog, Hawkeye, off this morning. He walked with us also. Hawkeye and Angel have no idea what the big deal is about those sticks we throw for Sadie, but they sometimes make an attempt to get the stick, just in case it's a chewie of some sort.

In this shot, they all seem to be taking stock of the area. This is right behind my cabin.

I informed Cliff last weekend that we absolutely must make riding our Gold Wing a priority; it's been sitting idle much too often, what with our moving and then all the rain we've had. I have resolved that we shall ride at least once a week. Cliff agrees, and says I'm the best wife ever.

We had errands in four different towns: Oak Grove, Odessa, Higginsville, and Richmond. None of these towns are on the way to any of the others, but we decided to make it a nice, leisurely ride and covered them all.

Notice Cliff's name on the bike. Our errand in Odessa was to get our names on the Wing: Cliff's name is on the left; mine is on the right side.

I don't know if you can see him when you click on the picture to make it larger, but he's in the shelter in the background.

We took a picnic lunch, which we ate at a city park in Richmond. We were gone four hours, and came home relaxed and refreshed and in time for Cliff to head to work. Bummer, eh? He's used all his vacation and sick days but 3, so he has no choice but to keep his nose to the grindstone until November, when he gets ten more days.

They're talking about going to four-day workweeks where he's employed; we're hoping and praying this happens, because we'd have three-day weekends every week. It sounds too good to be true.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Two tractors are better than one

When our son was visiting last week, he helped Cliff mow the pasture; they got done in record time.

You'll find more Wordless Wednesday entries HERE.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Random family pictures taken on the Fourth

I'm sharing these mainly for relatives who read my blog. Click on any picture to make it bigger.

Nothing says "Independence Day" like watermelon and champaign poppers (not to mention a Wal-Mart bag).

Granddaughter Monica hadn't seen her brother Jonathan in a while, as evidenced by the look of joy on her face as she runs to greet him.

Cliff's cousin, Edna, as well as her daughters, came to join us on the Fourth, helping to make our day extra-special.

Cliff with his siblings; half-brother Phil didn't make it, so he's missing in the picture.

Granddaughter Amber with her dog, Sophie. I'm sure she will hate this picture, since I've never yet taken a shot of her that has her approval.

My son, my husband, and grandson Arick make this a three-generation picture.

Nothing spells "fun" like a muddy kid and a muddy four-wheeler. That's Trevor, nephew Scotty's son.

Granddaughter Amber and her dad did some competitive bowling with her Wii.

Amber listens in as her brother and grandfather have a conversation.