Sunday, October 31, 2010

A tool to help you decide

I found this link on Facebook.  If you're undecided on which way to vote Tuesday, click HERE.    
This is for anybody of any party, and I found it useful.

There's something missing

Here you see Sassy and Tude watching a livestock trailer take Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow away; she's heading off for a romantic tryst with a Polled Hereford bull.  She should be ready to come home next weekend.  
I really miss her.  
It reminds me of the way I felt when my kids were toddlers and my mom would take them home with her for a day.  Somehow the house just didn't feel right with them gone.
Bonnie doesn't spend a lot of time near the house, and there are days when I only see her a couple of times, briefly.  But I always know all I have to do is yell, "Sook, calf," and if she is in earshot I'll hear an answering "Mooooo", and then she'll come running full-speed toward me, her calf in hot pursuit.  I know it isn't affection for me that makes her answer my call; it's her desire for sweet feed.  But it's still nice to know I can count on her to acknowledge me.  
She's due to come in heat Thursday or Friday.  Hopefully the deed will be done by Saturday and my cow can come back where she belongs.    
By the way, the only reason Sassy and Tude are showing such interest in this event is not that they're concerned about Bonnie leaving.  It's the trailer that caught their eye; where there's a trailer, they've learned, there's liable to be a new horse they haven't met.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A person really has to watch

I have kept a Reader's Digest subscription going for years; the size is perfect for slipping in a purse (or lunchbox, in Cliff's case) so it's handy for those times when we're somewhere waiting, for instance at a doctor's or dentist's office.  The articles are brief, so you're not committing to a lot of time when you start reading.  I've learned a lot from Reader's Digest.
However, my subscription lapsed, and I've decided this is one thing we can easily do without.  I know it's time to renew, because they've been sending me bills for a couple of months.  But I didn't renew, so why are they sending me bills that sound like I re-subscribed?   In fact, they've sent me two magazines that I shouldn't have received, and the tone of their little notes make me feel more like a freeloader with each reminder.
I found a phone number on the bill Thursday and gave them a call.  I explained the problem to the customer service person and gave her my name and address.
"Oh," she said, "you're on automatic renewal."
What?  I never asked for that!
She took me off the plan and graciously told me I could keep the two magazines that I wasn't supposed to receive.
I just wonder how many people renew their subscriptions who otherwise would not, if they hadn't been bullied into "automatically renewal"?
The same day, I received a credit card bill charging me $1.82 in interest; I had made no purchases, so how did I rack up interest?  We're down to three credit cards, and I still have to weed at least one of them out; I just haven't decided which one.  I've gotten rid of Kohl's, Home Depot, Sears, and two gasoline credit cards.  I kept these for years because credit card holders get special deals; it was really hard to destroy my Kohl's card, because that's where I buy shoes, and sometimes I got 30% off a sale price as a card-holder.  Still, we do not need all that plastic filling up our billfolds.
If I get angry with any of my remaining three card providers, they are history.  I was ready to tell somebody that when I called Chase card customer service.
This summer we used that card to excess (the Arkansas trip and lots of diesel fuel for tractors), and in the end it took me three months to pay them off.  We swore never to let that happen again, even if we have to sit at home for the rest of our lives.
The lady explained to me that ours is a revolving charge account and the $1.82 is carried over from the previous month.
Just as I was getting ready to tell her what she could do with my account, she said, "Oh, wait; I think I can take that off your bill.  Yes, I can; it should show up as being removed within a few days."
So I still have a decision to make about which card I get rid of.  I'll wait and see if that $1.82 really is removed before I decide.



Here's a video to show you how my dog, Iris, plays with shadows.  She also plays with beams of light, and chases birds flying overhead.  She's nuts.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How times have changed

I've been looking through some of my older cookbooks, and found these menu suggestions in a 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook.  Click on the picture to read it better.




Just think, half the children back then weren't overweight like nowadays, either, even with all that meat, potatoes and bread.  Of course most of them didn't have television; computers and video games hadn't been invented yet.  They probably went outside and played tag and hide-and-seek.  I imagine they had to help with the chores around the house and farm, too.   

Why we don't want a motorcycle camper

Because it keeps coming up in comments, I'm going to tell you the specific reasons why we don't want a camper to pull behind our motorcycle.  
The top reason is that they cost $3,500 and more, at least for the models on a website someone gave me.  Now, if we were twenty years younger, we might make such an investment.  But our motorcycle-riding years will come to an end in a few years.  
The second reason we don't want a camper is that we wouldn't have nearly as much storage space as we have with our Aluma trailer.  Most of the space would be taken up by the material that makes up the camper.  
Let's say we head out one morning with our leathers on, because it's cold.  As the day warms up, we start shedding clothes.  Do you know how much room those leather jackets and chaps require?  It's simple take them off and toss them inside the trailer.  We love having it for suitcases and clothes and, of course, the laptop (just in case we find someplace with wi-fi).  There's lots of room for everything we need inside the trailer, and we can strap a tent and sleeping bags on the top.  


This thing is sturdy enough to stand on, if you had a notion to.  Cliff says he can't even tell it's there, as we travel down the highway.  Notice the shelf in front where we can put a cooler.    
So no, we aren't interested in a camper, unless somebody is volunteering to buy it for us as a gift.  Even then, we'd probably opt to leave it home so we could take our nice, roomy trailer.  

I hate goodbyes

Yesterday, with the threat of frost looming, I said goodbye to my garden.  I found a few decent-sized green tomatoes to wrap in newspaper for later ripening; I brought half a dozen sweet peppers in, and I pulled up some turnips that were big enough to use.  
Because we haven't had much rain in the past month, the turnips didn't get as big as they should have, but the ones that are usable are sweet and good.  Cliff hates turnips, so I shared them with a friend, not knowing that would make her day.  I thought my mother was the only person ever to get that excited about turnips.  
I pulled up the last of the green bean plants and picked the usable beans off the vines.  
It was a bad year for tomatoes and potatoes, and yet the garden has kept us supplied with all we needed or wanted in the way of vegetables, ever since sometime in July.  A neighbor informed me that nobody around here had a good potato crop this year, which made me feel somewhat better about the situation.  We don't have good storage facilities for them anyhow; it's just that it's more fun to harvest and peel big potatoes than small, goose-egg-sized ones.  I'll be using my last few of them today, so I need to add potatoes to my grocery list.  Of course, it's just me and Cliff, so we don't use a lot of them.
Never before have I had such an emotional attachment to a garden as I have this year.  I'd wake up in the morning wishing daylight would come so I could go outside and see what had transpired overnight:  new blooms, seeds germinating and popping out of the ground, something new to harvest.  Oh, and for the first time ever, I managed to keep a zucchini plant alive until fall; little victories like that are hard to find out in the big, cruel world, but I found them daily in the garden.  So yesterday, knowing the season is over, I was sad; it was like saying goodbye to a dear friend.  
And the Lord knows how I hate goodbyes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A blog I recently discovered

I'm proud to tell you about this one, because the lady is almost a relative.  Well, I guess you could stretch things and call her a relative:  a second cousin by marriage, or something like that.  She's Cliff's cousin's daughter.  
Were it not for Facebook, I wouldn't even know who she is.  I've heard Cliff talk about her mother Willa, and her aunts and uncle, about the times he had with them as a kid.  
I knew her grandmother, Cliff's aunt: when Cliff and I were in Versailles, we'd go by and visit, in her later years.  
I was "friended" on Facebook by a couple of Cliff's cousins, and later got a request from this Angela.  
"Angela who?" I wondered.  "I don't know any Angela."  
When I saw Cliff's two cousins were mutual friends of hers, I knew this was some relative of Cliff's.  
This happens a lot on Facebook.  I usually go ahead and friend them, then never think about them again.  
But somehow as I was poking around on Angela's wall, I saw she had a blog.
(If you aren't familiar with Facebook, I realize how ridiculous all this "friend" and "wall" stuff sounds.)  
I was blown away by this lady's writing, so very introspective and thought-provoking.  
She's a genuine author, folks; she just hasn't written her book yet.  Or maybe she has, but it hasn't been published.  How would I know?  I barely just found out who she is.      
Go meet Angela at her blog, "If My Life Were a Book".

An incident from 2006

I originally told this story on my AOL blog; there's a link to that on my sidebar, but if you found this story it would be without pictures.  Because when we imported our AOL journals to Blogger, the pictures were left behind.  So I'm re-telling the story, with pictures uploaded.


One Saturday in April, 2007, while entering the barn, my bare leg made contact with one of these livestock panels.  


Specifically, with that blunt, sticking-out end.  
Because it was Saturday and our insurance makes us pay a certain amount to use the emergency room, I had Cliff do some first-aid, telling him he could take me to the doctor on Monday for a tetanus shot.  


Here's what it looked like when he was finished.  
So two days later I called for an appointment with a nurse-practitioner, and we went to the clinic.  


I was taken to an examination room, and a nurse came in and removed the bandages.  She left the room, and I heard a nurse-practitioner whisper to her, "Is it bad?"  
"Oh, yes," answered the nurse.  
Gee, all I wanted was a tetanus shot.   
Well, back in those days I was always looking for something that would be an interesting blog entry.  So when Dr. G came in to do the first, deepest sutures, I asked permission to take pictures.  He seemed puzzled, but assented.  


This, by the way, is the same Dr. G that Cliff saw this past Monday.  


Then a young doctor-in-training finished up with the outside stitches.  


My favorite nurse assisted.  


Not bad work, for a doctor-in-training.  
I really felt they were making mountain out of a molehill, but at least I got my tetanus shot and a few pictures.  
Five days later, this whole incident was overshadowed by my husband's emergency open-heart surgery.  Compared to that, my little procedure was indeed a molehill.  
As the old Sesame Street song says, "The big becomes the little when you move it back a bit."  
I got pictures for my blog from that adventure, too.

Back to our Sunday shopping trip

I can hear it now:  "What?  You're not done talking about shopping?"  
Listen, any shopping I get to do beyond grocery shopping is a memorable experience for me!  
As we left Sam's Club, I said to Cliff, "Since the day is shot anyhow, we should go to Bass Pro Shop and look at the tents; if we're going to go camping when you retire, we need to find a tent we can stand up in.  Besides, we need to check the place out, and with the Chiefs playing, maybe it won't be too crowded."  
Bass Pro only recently came to the Kansas City area; we've been to the Springfield location in the past, but hadn't visited this one.  We'd heard horror stories of crowds and high prices.  
"OK, so Bass Pro is that way," Cliff said, motioning toward the east.  
"No, I'm pretty sure it's in the direction of Kansas City," I told him.  "It's west."  
So Cliff headed south.  Seriously.  
We circled this way and that way, with a few u-turns and Cliff using some colorful language, before we finally arrived at our destination half an hour later.  The place was not crowded at all.    
Most of the tents we found were either not tall enough, or far too big for us; we don't need a four-room tent, thank you very much.  In fact, there was only one tent that seemed right for us.  It's six feet tall at the peak.  


 I took a picture of the box so I'd have the brand and name of the tent, because I wanted to go home and do some research.  It's the Columbia Bugaboo II Family tent.  
I must have spent two hours reading feedback from people who had purchased this tent, first on the Bass Pro site, then on Amazon.com.  The price is the same on both websites, with free shipping from Amazon.com.
There were dozens of glowing reviews, some cautioning to be sure and use the sealant that comes with the tent so it won't leak at the seams.  I'd say 90% of the feedback was positive; I was impressed.  
But two of the negative comments trouble me:  these were people who stated that the poles shatter easily.  This made me visualize me and Cliff, with a motorcycle as our transportation, being stranded in the middle of the night in a rainstorm in a collapsed tent.  If you're in a car, you can sleep in the seats in an emergency.  With a motorcycle, I guess the only option would be to take refuge in the campground toilet.  
Just how much of an adventurer am I, really?  
It's food for thought.  
By the way, did you know that Bass Pro Shop allows dogs inside the store?  


We looked at some really nifty camping devices, discussed whether canned heat is hot enough to make a pot of coffee, and then went home, where Cliff watched the Chiefs win on our DVR.  
That's it for our Sunday shopping day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Dave Ramsey supports my husband's tractor habit

Once I got on track with my envelope system, I decided to make myself stick to them no matter what, because once Cliff retires I won't have a choice; I figure I may as well train myself for lean times.  
If I need or want a grocery item, and that includes paper goods and other non-edible items on my list, I pay for it from the grocery envelope.  If there's no money in the envelope, I don't buy it; that hasn't happened yet, though.  I've stayed well below my $70 weekly allotment for groceries.  
If I want to eat out (it's always me that wants to, not Cliff), it comes either out of the grocery envelope or the entertainment envelope.  I know I should make up my mind and stick with one or the other, but this gives me more options.  
Cliff gets $120 a week for pocket money; he pays the guy with whom he rides to work $30 weekly ($7.50 daily), but the rest is not accounted for.  He buys gasoline with a credit card and we pay that monthly.  That bill isn't too outrageous because Cliff doesn't have to drive to work.  Up until six months ago, Cliff's "allowance" was $100 week a week, but he seemed to be running out of money all the time, so I increased it.  
Here's what would happen before:  I'd get a yen for pizza or Olive Garden or Subway, and Cliff would pull out his billfold.  Or we'd go into Orscheln's and buy a sack of sweet feed for Bonnie, and Cliff would pull out his billfold.  You get the picture.  
Now you'd be hard pressed to see me wanting to eat out, because it comes out of my envelope!!!!!  No way am I going to fritter away my grocery or entertainment money on such stuff, when I have plenty of cheap (or free) food at home.  If Bonnie is out of sweet feed, there's money in my "pets" envelope for such purposes.  
So Cliff ends up with about $80 left over each week.  He told me once to stop getting him so much money, but I told him to enjoy it while he's still working and just put it in his tractor fund.  When he retires he'll be able to buy paint and parts for his projects.
Now, I know Dave Ramsey would rather have me putting that money in savings.  But I haven't taken his course, so I make up a few rules of my own.  
Besides, we already have our emergency fund built up.

I've made my decision on an e-reader

I haven't purchased it yet, but Nook is the clear winner for one reason only:  Once I have my library card, I can check out and read books on the Nook.  That's right, friends and neighbors, I won't have to depend on Cliff to take me to the library, because I will be able to check out books from home!  
Thanks to Astaryth (Jeanie) for giving me a heads-up on Nook originally, and for sharing the information about the libraries.  Even our lowly little hick-town library has joined the modern world!  
Kindle is the cheapest, but it is not on the library's list of compatible readers.  Books can be downloaded to a PC or Mac, but I spend far too much time in this chair now; I certainly don't need to be sitting here to read a book.  Besides, I'd be distracted all the time: I'd be reading a chapter and think, "I need to check my email" or "Oh, my potatoes are ready to harvest in Farmville."  
Now all I have to do is wait until the price of the Nook drops for Christmas.  If I'm able.    
The Ipad was never in the running.  It's just too pricey, and I have no need for a multi-purpose device.
  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

From today's garden

That big four-gallon bucket holds small green tomatoes for a friend to use.  She likes to make green tomato pickles.  I'm sure Jack Frost is casing the joint, so I'm glad somebody has a use for these.  there are turnips in the other big bucket, and small eggplants and peppers in the gallon ice cream buckets.  
I know I said recently that we are sick of ratatouille, but I hate to see the eggplants go to waste; ratatouille is the only low-calorie way I know to use them.  

Back to our shopping trip

Cliff and I were only inside the Penny's store for fifteen minutes; that's how we shop, especially now that we're on the envelope plan.  We picked up the things we were after and exited the building.  On the way to the car, I said to Cliff, "Since Sam's Club is right across the street, I'm almost out of those hot almonds; let's run in there and get some."  
"Oh, now I see the real reason for this trip,"   
"No," I protested, "You had to have some underwear, and so did I."  


But see, I have a new addiction.  


I had already been buying the salted ones, and the chocolate ones too.  But on a recent trip I saw this new-to-me flavor and bought a jar; I was instantly hooked.  I usually have 1/4 cup of almonds every evening, but that has increased to 1/2 cup since I found these babies.  As if I was in need of another high-calorie snack!  I was trying to google information about these almonds and found them on Amazon.com for $45 for two jars; the two jars cost me $18.00.  Whoever is selling them on Amazon probably picks them up at Sam's Club and makes a killing!    


The only other thing I bought at Sam's was a couple of boxes of these; Cliff calls them "little candy bars", but they're only 130 calores apiece, and make for a quick dessert for him when I don't have anything else on hand.  
Speaking of calories:  Cliff had his regular visit with our family doctor yesterday.  We had both been seeing the nurse-practitioners for the past couple of years, ever since our beloved Dr. Deblase left the practice because of cancer (and later died).  I love the nurse-practitioners, but every once in awhile I feel Cliff needs to see a doctor, what with his heart issues and the various medications he takes.  So I called a few weeks ago and made an appointment with Doctor. G, who is always in high demand.  As usual, I went in the exam room with Cliff, with a list of things we needed to talk about.  
Doctor G amazes me with his memory; I have not been to see him in five years, and  he asked how my knees were doing!  
He listened to our concerns and asked lots of questions, and then he got down to business.  A couple of times in the past year, Cliff's sugars have been borderline high.  He says Cliff absolutely has to take off the twenty-five pounds he's put on in the past four years.  That, he said, will solve the blood sugar problem.  
"As we get older, our pancreas starts to wear out," he told us.  "The more weight you carry, the harder your pancreas has to work, but if it's slowing down because of age, it can't  handle the extra work."  
Sigh.  
He said, "I'm telling you this in front of your wife because she is the one who puts the food on the table."  
Flashback to Sunday's fried catfish, and the apple cobbler for dessert.  
So yes, Cliff and I have to get down to business.  I know it's OK to break the rules and have fried fish or a piece of pie once in awhile, but we need to do it less frequently.   

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shopping trip

Cliff and I went to a fundraiser dinner at the school yesterday; we'd purchased the tickets from granddaughter Natalie.  Since we were already planning on getting out of the house, I informed Cliff we were going to do some shopping.  You can imagine the reaction I got from that suggestion.
Cliff, however, needed underwear.  He's been giving me excuses for a long time about why he was still wearing various sizes (his size changes from one year to another) of raggedy underwear.  While he was still laying in bed sipping his coffee yesterday morning, I started removing the contents of his underwear drawer and tossing it on the bed.  
"Look at this mess," I said.  "When's the last time you wore any of these boxer shorts?"  
(He went through a brief phase of trying to wear boxers... it had something to do with riding the motorcycle, I think.)   
He agreed that he didn't like them, and said he'd take them to the shop to use as rags.  
We don't get Cliff's underwear at Walmart.  His mother brought him up in J.C. Penny underwear, by george.  Stafford brand.  They are not cheap.  
But I have an envelope with money for clothing.  Every week twenty bucks goes into the envelope.  
We don't shop for clothes often, so I figured that envelope would never be empty.  We've spent more on clothing that I thought we would, but we haven't drained the fund dry yet; of course, nobody has needed shoes so far.   
Cliff decided since I was forcing him to go shopping, he needed some new T-shirts; he has a whole drawer full of perfectly good ones, but all of them have some kind of stain or other, mostly grease stains from his playing working in the shop.  I'm a terrible laundress; I never check for stains.  I don't check pockets, either.  I'm basically lazy.  So shoot me.   
Of course his mom taught him to only wear Stafford T-shirts.  We picked up two packages.  On the way to the cash registers, I nabbed myself a couple of packages of underwear.  Ten pairs of men's whitie-tightie underwear, six T-shirts, and three packages of ladies' underwear:  $98.  
Boy, am I glad we have envelopes.  In the old days I would have used my Penny's charge card and figured out how to pay for the stuff next month when the bill came in the mail.  I no longer have a Penny's charge card.
See?  It's possible to teach an old dog new tricks.  
I'll tell about the rest of our shopping adventures in another entry.  
So now you know more than you ever wanted about the underwear in this house.  I wonder if Cliff will approve this entry when he wakes up?  If it disappears, you'll know he didn't like it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

bottle calves and rest homes

I have mentioned on this blog that I had contacted some people about buying a calf to raise alongside Clyde.  I called them a second time to see what happened, and the lady told me that the dairy from whom they buy their calves had not called them as yet.  
Friday I got a call asking if I still wanted a calf, because now they could get some.  I explained that my plan had been to put the calf on my cow alongside her own, and she could raise them like twins.  
At this point, Clyde would be double the size of a newborn calf and would crowd it out until it starved.  
"I'm sorry," I told her, "I just don't need a calf at this time."
"Would you be interested in one next spring, perhaps February or March?" she asked.  
I mulled it over quickly.  February and March we probably won't be going on any motorcycle trips.  I wouldn't try to put a calf on Bonnie at that late date, but I could raise one on the bottle with milk replacer.  Or, I could try weaning Clyde and sneak a new calf on Bonnie.  
I told the lady I'd be interested in a calf in early spring.  She said she'd call.  
We'll see what happens.  


Cliff and I just had a discussion about nursing homes.  Not a pleasant discussion, believe me, although we were laughing a lot; sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.  My mother got to the point that she felt she wanted and needed to be waited on and watched out for, and she put herself in a rest home.  It worked well for her until she got to the point that she couldn't do anything for herself; then it wasn't so good.  
Nobody actually mistreated her.  It's just that nursing homes do not have the staff to tend to bedfast patients constantly.  
If we're mentally able, Cliff and I agree we'll take care of one another.  I have told him, though, that if Alzheimer's should set in, to please place me in a home.  The time would come where I wouldn't know the difference anyhow.  
Barring that, if things get bad enough, there's housing for old folks, apartments where we would still have our privacy and could lock our doors.  I could do that all right, I believe.  I would still have the freedom to get out and walk around the block if that's what I wanted to do.  I'm don't know how I'd do with a nursing home where I couldn't lock my door and shut people out.  
But we all do what we must.
I've often told Cliff I'm going to live with my oldest granddaughter if something happens to him.  She asks very little of me and is easy to get along with.  
Cliff said, "You'd have to move her mother out first."  
Well yes, there's that.  Amber is a momma's baby; I couldn't ask her to kick out my ex-daughter-in-law (who has multiple sclerosis) just so I could move in.  
OK, so it's senior housing.  That's fine.
If something happens to me, my daughter says Cliff can live with them.  She's said the same about her mother-in-law, so I always tell Cliff I hope he and Linda have fun in my absence.   
We laugh, to keep from crying.  


Oh, and by the way:  my husband approves this message.

Nice day yesterday

The kind neighbor across the road blessed us not long ago with a gallon freezer bag full of filleted catfish.  He suggested I semi-thaw it and package it in smaller portions, but I hesitate to re-freeze any meat, especially fish.  I decided to invite my daughter's family over; there were six of them coming, and two of us.  That bag of catfish looked like a lot more than eight people would be able to eat.  My daughter likes to take pictures of her food and post them to Facebook.


Frying all that catfish kept two skillets occupied for a half-hour.  


This is my daughter's plate:  slaw made from our last head of garden cabbage, scalloped potatoes, green beans (store-bought and doctored up, I didn't have enough from the garden), corn bread, and catfish.  Folks, if you've never tried Louisiana Fish Fry, you simply must!  We like the New Orleans style; it's spicy, the way we like our fish.  If you want it really spicy, dip the fish in buttermilk first; this gives a thicker, crispy coating that almost makes you want to slap your grandma.  Oh, and we did manage to eat most of the catfish.  
Pardon that expression, I think I picked it up from Cliff.  


Grandson Brett had to put brakes on his car; Kevin helped.  


The great-granddaughter finally got past her fear of tractors and got the feel of this one.  


And she looked good doing it.   


Here she is pointing out something to her dad, who is celebrating his birthday today.  
So, all in all it was a good family day.  I can sure tell I'm getting older, though; cooking a big meal absolutely  wears me out for the rest of the day!  
By the way, my Canadian secret admirer is back, reading every entry I've ever done on this blog. Hello, Canadian reader:  If you ever make it to current entries, let me know what led you here and why you find my every word so interesting.   As I write this, you're still back in 2007.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

T-shirts. I got 'em.

I brought my winter clothes in from storage last week.  They lay piled on the guest room bed for a few days because, until I put away some summer clothes, there was no space for them.  
Finally I tackled the job of bagging up the summer shorts; this being Missouri, I left one pair in the drawer just in case.  
I no longer have dress-up clothing.  None.  Nada.  I have some slacks and sweaters I can wear to church or to a funeral, but not a dress do I own, nor any fancy pant suit.  I got tired of buying something semi-dress-up, never wearing it, and watching it go out of style in my closet.  My summer uniform is T-shirts and shorts.  In winter, it's sweatshirts and jeans or sweat pants.  
I figured I'd put away most of the T-shirts until next spring, so I dug through the contents of three drawers, only to find T-shirts I forgot I owned and had not worn in months... maybe even years.  
See, when you have so many, you end up using the same five or six that are on the top.  At least that's what happened to me.  
I have two (count 'em, TWO) Travis Tritt shirts.  I really like Travis, but he hasn't had a hit song in years; I imagine if somebody saw me wearing one of those shirts, they'd be thinking, "Travis who?"  I've had these so long that in the picture on each shirt, Travis' hair is still really long. 
There's a George Jones shirt I bought at a (pathetic) concert a few years back.  I probably haven't worn it more than four times.  Why did I buy it?  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  I did wear it once when we went to see Moe Bandy in Branson; Moe asked me, "Where did you see the Possum (that's George's nickname)?"
Of course there are the motorcycle-themed T-shirts:  One from the Hub resort in Arkansas, two from Biker Sundays at the motorcycle church, one from Ted's in St. Louis, a couple of Gold Wing shirts.... you get the picture.  
Folks, I ended up with a bulging trash bag full of nothing but T-shirts that will be stored for yet another winter and then put back into three drawers next spring.  
I think I've uncovered my hoarding tendencies. 


I have two Pioneer Woman T-shirts that have never been worn because they are far too small for me.   Maybe I should have a T-shirt giveaway on my blog.  

Meet some more of my readers

Since not everybody reads the comments on my blog, I'm sharing what these readers had to say.
 Sherry said.. OK: I'm a long time reader that does not comment on blogs much, but I love to read about 50 of them, I love your style and your down home, say-it-like-it-is attitude, love the stories and I can relate to almost all of them.......hugs, Sherry  
It's good to meet you, Sherry.  Thanks for your words of encouragement.
 Rural Rambler said...Good Morning Donna! I am a regular reader here. I am not always silent :) I enjoy reading about you and your husband's plans to retire and your bike trips. Oh and I just enjoy all your posts really. I found YOU through MY sitemeter. And your right, embarq has us living some places I have never heard of!
I am conflicted about sitemeter. It kinda creeps me out and actually keeps me from going to some blogs. Not just sitemeter but all the counters and locators. No privacy if I want to come back here a hundred times in one hour or stay here for three.
I have a Nook and I love it. Still like library books and buying books but it sure is convenient out here in the boonies!  
Sitemeter needn't keep you from visiting certain blogs.  If you want to remain anonymous, instead of clicking on the link to the blog, right-click and choose the option "open link in incognito window".  It will still tell your operating system and your IPS, but location and other information will be "unknown".
 Lucy said...I am not new but have not been coming in until a few months ago. I like your entries so I keep coming back
Yes Lucy, I visit your blog occasionally, and I have it listed on my sidebar.
Nancy said...I read regularly and have for a long time. I normally leave comments as nerves05 but my name is Nancy, I speak every now and then. I enjoy reading your blog and is one of the first i open everyday. I don't remember how i stumbled upon your blog but i read it once and been coming back every since. I live in Florida. Never been up north ever. But i'm a country girl. Most folks don't think florida is country. but it is. It's not all beaches, bikinis and fast lifestyles and transplants. I'm a true floridian born and raised who lives in and loves the woods. Which is why i love your blog. Your simple easy going life style appeals to me. Believe me when i say that it's a true complement.
I love animals. I have hogs, chickens, dogs so your stories are interesting to me. I love food and gardening so i like hearing about that as well. And i love to hear about you and Cliff, just hearing about how you guys, enjoy each others company is just wonderful.
I'm 37 i'd like to think myself and my hubby will be the same way in another 20 years.
So thats my introduction and how and why i hang around :-)  
Nancy, I remember you from way back, but now I know where you live and something about your lifestyle.  Thanks for this.  Cliff and I visited Florida once to go to a tractor show!  The state is a little sandy for our tastes, but I've found that when you are born and raised in a certain part of the country, it's home sweet home.
Forty Pound Sack said...Hi Donna - I visit your blog often but this is my first comment to you. I honestly can't remember how I found you the first time but I, too read your mother's story and loved it. It made me think of my own mother, who is busy trying to untangle the roots of her family tree. I'm pretty good at snooping on the net, so once in a while I get to help her search someone out. I have a 99% success rate, so far, so hopefully she's let me continue helping.
I love your stories!
I have a cousin who is doing genealogy on both hers and her husband's families.  It exhausts me to see how much research she has done.  I don't have the patience, but I certainly enjoy seeing the fruits of her labors.  I'm sure my mother would be thrilled to know how many people are enjoying her story.  She was a great story-teller, and as a child I loved to hear about how things were "in the olden days".  
If anyone else wants to step up and share, feel free; I love hearing from all of you, and I imagine my other readers do too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cliff's four-day work week

I don't even remember when Cliff started working the four-day work week.  It seems like at least a year, but who knows.  
We've learned to deal with it because, you know, he always gets a three-day weekend.
That sounds good, doesn't it?
Except that for four days a week, he gets up at mid-morning, eats breakfast, goes for a walk, eats dinner, and goes to work.  Oh, and on Friday, he's so tired he's a zombie.  
He and Tony, the guy he rides to work with, are given the choice of going back to a five-day week every three months.  They've decided that when the time comes to make that choice, they're going to go back to a five-day, eight-hours-a-day, work week, at least for three months; because they do have the option of going back to four-day weeks if they want to.
I've learned to deal with either schedule.  What's time to a hog?
A hog, you ask?  What are you talking about?  
This comes from an old Jerry Clower story:  A salesman approached a hog farmer and said, "Mister, if you buy my hog feed, your hogs will go to market two months sooner."  
The farmer answered, "Oh well, what's time to a hog?"  
So we'll see how Cliff and Tony do, going back to a regular schedule.  One thing about it, no matter what his schedule, Cliff only has to make it until next June.  Then he retires.

Some of my readers speak

I've heard from a couple of my mysterious readers, although I still haven't found out who my Canadian follower is; he hasn't been back, so perhaps he got his fill after an hour of reading my past entries.  Sitemeter tells me that another Canadian emailed that post to somebody; maybe that was a friend of my stalker, letting him know I'm onto him?
Anyway.  I appreciate those of you who stepped forward and introduced yourselves.    
Meet Nancy:
Hi Donna! I'm your UMKC reader and I have a list of about 8 favorite blogs that I open in tandem each morning before I start working and occasionally at lunchtime. I'm not a teacher or the janitor, but a staff member who works with graduate students . . . I'm the thesis/dissertation format checker! I live in Independence so I like that I recognize the places you talk about in your blog and I was raised in rural Kansas so I enjoy the stories of your cows and gardening. I sent you a recipe one time for squash fries. I think I found your blog through a comment that you made on the Midtown Miscreant blog a couple of years ago. I really enjoy that you update nearly every day. I'm also big fan of the Pioneer Woman blog--I think I found her blog from yours, so thank you!
I remember you sending the recipe, Nancy, and I made those fries more than once.  
Here's Nita: 
I may show up as unknown. I found your blog on PW a long time ago and follow you on my blogger dashboard. My dh and I live in SWMo and have horses, garden and ride an HD Roadglide. I like the way you write and enjoy your stories. It is like visiting you and Cliff. Thanks for sharing!  
Candice said...

I read somewhere that only 9% of your readers will ever comment. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but there are some people out there that will LOVE your blog, but for various reasons, will never let you in on it.
Let me say I'm surprised to see a comment from Candice, because she has such a large following AND works as a nurse.  Oh, and has a couple of young children.  So I'm amazed she has time to comment on any blogs!  She is hilarious and outspoken.  I will warn you that her blog is not G-rated; if some curse words don't bother you, then you might want to read her views on child-raising HERE.  Get ready to laugh.  
If any more of you silent readers want to come out of the closet and introduce yourselves, feel free.  If not, that's all right; I appreciate every one of you, even the silent majority.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sitemeter

I love checking my Sitemeter, not so much to see how many people have been here, but to see their location and what brought them here.  Most of the readers show up as spending zero minutes here, even when they've read and commented on an entry.   
Once in I find that someone has spent a lot of time reading on this site; now, if Sitemeter shows them as only reading one page and being here for forty-five minutes , I know they just clicked onto my blog and left the computer to do something else, like I often do.   Right now, though, there's someone in or near Calgary, Alberta, Canada who started at the beginning of this blog and is reading his/her way forward.  They've been on my blog for an hour and viewed thirty-eight pages!  
Quite often, I find people spending lots of time here reading my mother's story; I can understand that.  But I'm trying to imagine why anyone in Canada would be interested in the drivel I put into this thing on a day-to-day basis.
I have a reader who shows up as being at University of Missouri, Kansas City, which makes me wonder if a teacher is reading this, or perhaps the lowly janitor.  
There's a quite regular visitor who comes here by way of my daughter's blog almost daily and appears to be coming from Rutherford College, North Carolina.  Whoever that person is, she's using a Mac.  
Embarq users show up as being from towns that aren't even near where they really live, but at least the state is right.   
More and more, people come here showing up as "unknown", which means they're using the "open link in incognito window" option.  I wish they wouldn't do that; I don't get to see where they are!  At least I can tell what sort of operating system they use, and how long they stayed.  
Am I obsessive-compulsive?  You bet. 
Blogger folks, did you know we can get stats like these on our dashboard now?  It gives a lot of the same information in a different way; I'm used to my Sitemeter, so I'll probably keep it.    
Meanwhile, I wonder why so few of the people who read this mess ever comment.  I guess they just don't have anything to say.

All these new inventions

I've been studying up on these new-fangled e-readers for quite a while.  My friend Joanna has a Kindle.  




My Internet buddy, Jeanie, has a Nook.  They're comparably priced, and both have decent ratings.  If prices on these things get down around $100 at Christmas, I may get one.   


All this research led to my studying up on the Apple Ipad, which starts at $499.  No, I won't be buying one of those.  But it seems as though this thing could replace a laptop.  It has a web browser; you can get to your email; it's an e-reader.  


I wonder how long it will take Microsoft to come up with an equivalent to the Ipad.  It's bound to happen, isn't it?  Surely they want to make money from this new phenomenon.  If and when they do, it's bound to be much cheaper than the Macintosh product.  
What an interesting e-world we live in.  You just never know what's next.


Ohhh, news flash:  Microsoft plans to have their answer to the Ipad by Christmas!  And wait, what's this?  Dell Streak?  And here's something called the Eee Pad!  
Competition is bound to bring prices down.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here's what's cooking today

I promise you will think you've died and gone to heaven when you eat this.  I've been making it since my kids were barely into their teens; it's better than any of the ready-made stuff in the stores, even Topsy's.  Be sure to use real butter.  If you want a printable recipe from the Better Homes and Garden site, go HERE.

OVEN CARAMEL CORN

Makes 9 cups Prep time: 20 minutes Bake: 20 minutes

ingredients

  •     Nonstick spray coating
  • 8  cups  popped popcorn (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup unpopped)
  • 3/4  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/3  cup  butter (No substitutes)
  • 3  tablespoons  light-color corn syrup
  • 1/4  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/4  teaspoon  vanilla

directions

1. Spray an 18x12x2-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Remove unpopped kernels from popped corn. Place popcorn in pan; keep warm in a 300 degreeF oven.
2. Butter sides of heavy 1-1/2-quart saucepan. Add brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Cook and stir over medium heat to 255 degree F, hard-ball stage (about 4 minutes). Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla; pour over popcorn. Stir gently to coat.
3. Bake in a 300 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Stir and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from oven; spread onto a large piece of foil and cool completely. Break into clusters. Makes 9 cups

nutrition facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 9 cups
  •  
  • Calories171, 
  • Total Fat (g)7, 
  • Saturated Fat (g)4, 
  • Cholesterol (mg)18, 
  • Sodium (mg)113, 
  • Carbohydrate (g)27, 
  • Fiber (g)1, 
  • Protein (g)1, 
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You gotta have heart...

Or maybe not.  I opened the package containing the beef heart and was surprised to see that it had been cut open. so it wasn't shaped like a heart.  Cliff, former butcher that he is, informed me this morning that the USDA inspecter has to open up the heart and peer inside, just as he has to inspect the liver and other organs.  Who knew?  
I prepared a box of Stovetop Stuffing, put the heart in a crock pot, and spooned the stuffing on top.  Because heart is all muscle, I figured it might not make its own broth like a roast does and I added a little water.  Too much, as it turns out, because the stuffing was more moist than it ought to be.  I took a picture of the sliced heart this morning, with a container with the stuffing next to it.  This is not a lovely presentation, I know; I'm not Pioneer woman.  I don't have the patience to put everything on a fancy plate and take twenty-five pictures of it.  The crumbs of stuffing on top of the heart look nasty, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it was a decent addition to our noonday fare.  In the interest of full disclosure, I'll show you the picture.  


I sliced it pretty thin with an electric knife.  We usually try to have a three- to four-ounce serving of meat, so we each had three slices.  It was really tasty with the stuffing.  Yes, I mean that.  I expected it to be tough, but it wasn't.  Along with it we had stir-fried zucchini and smothered okra, since my garden continues to produce.   
We will probably have more tomorrow; after that, I'll give a little each day to Iris until it's gone.  She will not eat liver, either cooked or raw; but I found out she loves heart!    
I could freeze the leftovers, but I have a feeling the container would eventually float to the bottom of the deep freeze, only to be found when I defrost.  
I had no qualms about eating heart; it didn't bother me to think about what it was or where it came from.  If we didn't have much meat, it would actually be a treat.  But because we limit our meat intake, this is not the form of meat I personally would choose as my main course.  
Now, quit your gagging and go on to something else.

Ding-ding-ding.... we have a winner!

OK, so there wasn't a contest.  But an anonymous commenter said, "Looks like cosmos," and from the images I found by way of Google, I do believe that's what my mystery plant is!


Thank you, Mysterious Person.  This is why I allow anonymous comments.  


The only thing that does not ring true is this, since mine are eight feet tall:   "Cosmos give you a big bang for your buck. Growing carefree from seed, these annuals (meaning they grow just one year) fill a flowerbed with color and are great cut flowers. Cosmos grow anywhere from 1 foot to 3 feet high, depending on the variety."

Read more: How to Grow Cosmos | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_6745_grow-cosmos.html#ixzz12of2WFoI

More flowers

A lot of the flowers in front of my house are faded, but they still brighten up my world.  

Marigolds don't fade.

I'll probably miss the Impatiens at my back door more than any other flower, after Jack Frost pays his first visit.

The plant that ate my home

When I removed the strawberry plants from the flowerbed in front of my house in July, I was left with quite a bit of unplanted space.  July isn't the best time to plant anything, but I had a ten-cent packet of annual flower seeds and decided to use those to fill in some of the empty spots.  The name of the flower was on the packet, but I didn't pay attention; nor did I read any description of the plant.  I threw away the packet as soon as the seeds were planted.  


There used to be more of the huge stalks, but I cut back quite a few of the vile tentacles that threatened to kill a daylily plant.  


The flowers aren't really much to brag about.  If you're wondering why I don't just remove the plants, it's because I want to see just how tall they will grow.  If I ever happen upon a packet of such seeds again, though, you can bet I'll run like the wind to get away from it.  Frost will soon kill everything, and then I'll chop the pesky plants down.  


I do hope some day to find out what it is.  


Flowers everywhere!  They'll soon be gone, but it won't be so long until I'll be watching for the first hyacinths and jonquils, then the tulips, and finally the iris and peonies and day lilies.  
That is, if I make it through the winter;  we're never guaranteed our next tomorrow.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beef heart

Every time I dig in the freezer for something, I see that package wrapped in butcher paper that says, "Beef heart" and go right on digging.
We've butchered several animals over the years, and the only hearts I ever remember eating is chicken hearts.  I think I probably kept them in the freezer until they got old, and then tossed them.
Today I bravely took Sir Loin's heart out of the freezer and, using Google, studied methods of preparing a beef heart for human consumption.  I recall my mom saying she loved heart and dressing; in the oldest "Better Homes and Gardens" cookbook in my collection, circa 1935, I found a recipe for that dish.  Put stuffing in the heart, sew it up, and cook for three or four hours in a little water.
Sew it up?
Google has given me various methods of cooking heart:  slicing and grilling, slicing and frying, cooking in a crockpot.
I found one recipe I'd love to try HERE, but I don't have any sausage on hand.  I guess I'll just put it in the crock pot with an onion and a little water and see what happens.

Motorcycle accidents

Any time I see a motorcycle accident mentioned on the news, I pay close attention, because Cliff and I are fully aware that a person is not as safe on a motorcycle as he is in a car.  
Motorcycle deaths have more than doubled in the United States in the past nine years.  One reason cited is older riders on more powerful bikes; that would be us.  
Almost 60% of motorcycle fatalities in single vehicle crashes occur at night.  One of these occurred in the Kansas City area over the weekend.    
That is not us.  We avoid night-riding like the plague.    
One thing Cliff and I have a hard time understanding is the number of biker bars seen along scenic byways; we pass them and see dozens of motorcycles parked there, and we know full well that many of the drivers of those motorcycles are drinking; we've gone inside and seen them doing it.  Drinking and driving is crazy enough in an automobile, but on a motorcycle, it has to be one of the stupidest things ever.   In 2005, one in three motorcycle deaths were alcohol-related.  I found that information HERE.  That's one statistic Cliff and I won't be taking part in.
The motorcycle accident that worries us most is the kind that happened locally over the weekend, not twenty miles away from us; you can read about it HERE.   An eighteen-year-old woman failed to yield to a motorcycle.  I wonder if she was talking on a cell phone or texting.  You can do everything right, and still get killed by an idiot, or a kid that thinks she's invulnerable.
I don't obsess about these things, although the statistics are terrifying.  Cliff makes every effort to keep us out of harm's way, and I say quite a few silent prayers while riding.  
It won't be long before we voluntarily end our motorcycle-riding phase; hopefully we will know the proper time to do that.  
Meanwhile, we sure are having fun.  I do hope we get to safely take that one long road trip before we retire the Gold Wing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A choice for Bonnie

Actually, Bonnie has no choice in the matter; I will make the decision for her.  
Cliff's brother is purchasing an Angus bull in a couple of weeks.  I wouldn't have to worry so much about the size of the calf with an Angus.
But an Angus calf would be solid black.  
How boring.  
Cliff's friend Tommy has a registered Polled (hornless) Hereford bull.  Clyde's daddy was a Polled Hereford, and he is such a handsome calf.  
I think we'll choose to take Bonnie to visit Tommy's bull in hopes that we might finally get a heifer calf.  
Maybe third time is charm, after all?  
By the way, if Bonnie ever has a heifer calf, I will name her myself.  I only let my readers name the calves I'm going to eat.    
I might even name her "Ree", after Pioneer Woman
If it's a girl.

Pancakes ala Donna

Cliff and I seldom have pancakes unless granddaughters request them; after all, pancakes topped with syrup is mostly flour and sugar, not the best thing for anyone's body.  Personally, I prefer waffles to pancakes, but I never fix those when we have company because there's too long a waiting period between waffles.  
Yesterday Cliff made it known that he wanted an egg-and-cheese sandwich on white bread for breakfast today; that's our version of Egg Mcmuffin, not something I make often, and not a personal favorite.  Obviously, home-made whole wheat bread I isn't Cliff's choice; he was very careful to specify white bread.  
So this morning I got a couple slices of white bread from the freezer and made Cliff his sandwich.  Then I decided I'd fix myself something I like:  deep-fried pancakes.  
OK, maybe they're not totally deep-fried.  But I like my pancakes fried in a lot of oil so they crunch when I take my first bite.  Nobody else likes greasy pancakes, so far as I know.  Usually when granddaughters are here, I fix them (and Cliff) nice, ordinary pancakes.  When everybody else is through, I pour a liberal amount of oil in the cast iron skillet and make mine.  I get it sizzling hot and pour in the batter.


It's really messy turning over a pancake in all this hot grease, but I've pretty well mastered it.  The taste is a lot like funnel cakes, except nobody gives you maple syrup with funnel cakes; so I don't like them.  


Ah, look how crunchy and crispy it's getting!  
So there you have it:  I took something that was already bad for me (flour and sugar) and made it worse by adding as much fat as possible.  
Hey, I only do this perhaps four times a year!  Oh, and I take a nice strong anti-acid tablet like Pepcid before I eat.  Oils are not kind to my digestive tract.