Thursday, March 31, 2011


Iris does so many things that baffle me, I could go on all day about her.  Here's just a small thing:  When Cliff goes in to take a shower before he goes to work (or any time, actually) he shuts the door to the bathroom.  Evidently this worries Iris; perhaps she thinks he'll drown in there, or maybe she doesn't like him using the tub where she hides out when there's a storm.  Anyway, here's what she does.

And there she stays until she hears the doorknob turn.  Once Cliff is out of the bathroom, Iris goes back out to one of her beds in the living room or computer room and worries no more.

We have our winners

I didn't make a video of Cliff drawing the two winning names this time because I had him draw while he was still in bed, half-asleep.  You'll just have to trust me that it was a fair and square drawing.  
When I'm doing something like this, I can't help but root for people I know in real life, or people who have been blogging buddies for years.  Root as I might, neither of these winners are people I can say I "know" in any way, except that one has been a reader for a long time.  That would be Vikki.  Not Vicki, but Vikki.   She entered just yesterday evening by email, so I have her contact address and hopefully she will soon learn she's a winner.   
My other winner is someone I've never seen or heard of commenting here, Lisa from California.  I notice she has a blog with some very fattening and yummy recipes; she and Ree should get along just fine!  

Lisa, I emailed you, thanks to the fact that you have a profile that includes your email address.  

Vikki (also from California), you deserve this prize, bless your heart.  You've been reading and commenting on this blog for a long time.  

I'll try to get your books in the mail in the next couple of days.  And remember, I wouldn't have been having this giveaway if Ree hadn't sent me the books.    

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Tomorrow morning Cliff will draw two winning names in the drawing for Pioneer Woman's cookbooks.  I certainly hope people will check in, since I don't have email addresses for many of you; if you don't check in either here or on Facebook within a week, we'll draw again.  

Good luck, and may the best two persons win!   

Twin talk

I have heard all my life that identical twins have their own special language when they are babies, but I had never witnessed this for myself.  Somebody posted a video on Facebook yesterday, and I re-posted it.  I want to share it with my readers who don't follow me on Facebook.  It's obvious these boys are having a genuine conversation.  Part of it seems to be a discussion of a missing sock, but who knows?

Without a pickup

This was taken at our daughter's house shortly after Christmas, 2009.  That's about the time Mother Nature decided it was time to bring real winters back to Missouri, and she's been at it ever since.  

We bought our first pickup in 1969; it was the first new vehicle Cliff ever owned, and it became our sole means of transportation at the time.  That was an exciting time for my husband, whose family had never owned a new vehicle due to a bad credit record.  Many years later, Cliff co-signed with his parents and they finally purchased their first-ever brand new pickup, a Toyota.  
My father-in-law always accused us of having lots of money squirreled away, but all we really had was good credit.        
We had two children when we bought that 1969 Ford Ranger, but back then there were no seat belt or baby car-seat laws, and we made do.  We'd put two-year-old Jimmy between us, often standing up in the seat (hey, don't judge; he survived, didn't he?) and I'd hold the baby, Rachel, on my lap.  Later on, Rachel and Jimmy both sat between us.  If I'm tallying it up right, we've owned five different pickups over the years, only one Chevy in the bunch.  We finally caved in around 1980 and bought an old Plymouth car because the kids were getting big enough that the cab of a pickup just wasn't big enough.  I think from then on, most of the times when we had a pickup, we also had a car.  Two vehicles, even though I never did drive.  But living in the country, a person needs a truck to haul hay and hedge posts and firewood and livestock.  
Cliff drove our old 1988 pickup for the final time last weekend, down to southern Kansas where his brother had a buyer for it.  Even though the truck sat in the garage most of the time, there's a helpless feeling, knowing it's gone.  We'd owned it since 1989, and in two more years it would have been a classic and would never have needed a new license again.    
When Bonnie needs to meet up with a bull next fall, things will be a little more complicated:  we'll have to borrow a pickup in order to hitch up to the livestock trailer so we can take her for a conjugal visit.  The grandson lives nearby, so we can borrow his truck for a day or two and let him drive our car.  That would be our simplest solution.  If Arick's truck isn't available, we'll be driving 25 miles to Cliff's brother's place and borrowing his pickup.  With the price of gas that won't be cheap, but we'll do what we must.  Of course, any time you borrow a vehicle, there's the chance that it will break down, which means whoever is driving it at the time is responsible for repairs; that's always been the rule in this family.  
I'm wondering if Cliff and I should get a reasonably-priced newer pickup (not brand new, ever) and use it as our sole transportation.  It's just the two of us now: you know, trade in the old Mercury...  maybe when we're too old to ride the motorcycle.       
Somehow it just doesn't feel right, not  having a pickup.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

For lack of anything better

Cliff has been needing new glasses for quite awhile now.  The last two times he's gotten glasses, we went to Gerry optical because his employers give him some sort of discount there.  Discount or not, the glasses were sky-high, I believe upwards of $400.  Because we were there anyhow, a couple of years ago I got some glasses there, too.  
It was an expensive venture, to say the least. 
 My daughter has been singing the praises of America's Best for years, and I decided it was time to pay attention to her.  Cliff didn't seem to have any objection.  
In his case, you can forget about the two-pairs-for-$69 deal; he has no-line bifocals, and he likes the kind of glasses that turn dark when you step outside into bright daylight; he also got about every other possible option offered.  He could have gotten one pair of glasses for $200, which is far cheaper than his last glasses.  For $40 more bucks, he decided to take the second pair (the eye exam was free).  He got two different styles of frames, which he thought was great.  If he doesn't like his glasses for any reason, they can be returned, with a receipt, within thirty days.  If his glasses are broken or scratched within the first year, they'll replace them, for a small fee.  
My next glasses should cost me $99 for two pairs unless I want no-line bifocals; I'm not sure how much that adds to the price.    
I've carried $300 around in my (Dave Ramsey) clothing envelope for quite awhile, and had even stopped adding money to that particular cause because we hadn't used any money from it for months.  Obviously, we don't buy a lot of clothes.  I decided to count Cliff's glasses as clothing (he does wear them, after all) and paid cash from the clothing envelope.  

On the down side, America's Best is located right next to Olive Garden, so you can guess what happened to some of the money we saved on glasses:   Soup, salad, and breadsticks.  Funds for that came out of Cliff's billfold, so it really doesn't count.  
Take note, ladies:  this is feminine logic at its finest.      

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I know that spring is coming; it's just around the bend.
I'm sure that warmer temperatures will visit us again.  
Next weekend, so they tell me, the weather will be nice
But now things are in limbo, the world as cold as ice.   

Sonya left a comment wondering what I'm doing, with Cliff gone.  Let me assure you it's nothing practical!  I imagine most housewives would take this opportunity to straighten their closets or deep-clean their cupboards.  Not me.  This return of winter weather has me a little depressed; after only two days of springlike weather with buds swelling and seeds in the garden popping up, it's as though it never happened.  Now, I realize this little pause in springtime is a good thing:  The peach tree has blooms on the verge of opening; had those blooms opened up before this cold snap, we would have lost this years' peach crop.  
This does little to help my mood, though.  So I've gone into hibernation mode.  
Of course I spend time on Facebook's Farmville, although I must say I'm getting a little tired of it.  Once spring is here full force, I'll probably do as I did last year and leave my farm untended, blocking it from view.  Zynga has messed with my little Farmville world more than I would like anyhow, giving me a new farm in England.  However, crops will only grow on one farm or the other, so I have to stop all development on my old farm if I want things to grow in England.  I think this whole England thing was supposed to breathe new life into the game and get people interested, but it's making me lose interest rapidly.  My apologies to my readers who neither know nor care about Farmville, but I thought I'd throw that in.
I've been reading a lot.  I am so glad that Jeanie steered me toward the Nook, as opposed to Kindle, because I am reading a lot of library books.  Right now I'm reading "American Rose:  The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee".  It's holding my interest quite well.  
Last week I started reading "The Saxon Chronicles", but I grew bored with all the blood, guts and killing and returned the book ahead of time after reading perhaps 1/4 of it.  The book had some great reviews; it just wasn't my cup of tea.  Books I have on hold are "Washington, A Life",  "Let's Take the Long Way Home", and "My Father at 100" by Ron Reagan.  Let's hope those don't all become available at once, because I'm number one on the waiting list for two of them, and number two on the other.  Even with this weather keeping me house-bound, I can't read that much!  
This morning I'll milk Bonnie, and later on I'm going to the church that we locals call "the old German Church".  A neighbor invited me for "friend Sunday".  I think the two granddaughters are going to accompany me, although sometimes they plan things for a Sunday and then decide they don't want to get out of bed early enough to go anywhere.  
When I spoke with Cliff on the phone yesterday, he sounded like he was having a blast with his brother.  This was perfect timing, since we have such incredibly bad weather; he would have been scrounging for something to keep him busy in the shop, here at home.  
So that's how my weekend of "batching it" is going.  Life is on hold until spring returns.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tempest in a teapot

Or, mountains out of molehills.  Remember how worried I was about a missing year of Cliff's wages?  The guy with SSI told us we needed to find the records for that year because it could make a difference in how much Social Security Cliff draws each month.  
Well, I dug through old income tax folders, but didn't find any older than as 1992; the missing year was 1986.  I talked to the IRS folks, but their records only go back eight years.  
So yesterday, Cliff called the Social Security number.  Now that in itself was interesting, because I usually do the calling about things like that; but we knew they would insist on speaking directly to Cliff, so he figured he'd just make the call himself.  He didn't know about the automated person with whom you have to carry on a conversation for about ten minutes before you can speak with a real person.  He didn't even realize it was a robot, so he'd start to explain something and the robot would rudely interrupt him.  This happened three or four times before it finally hit him what was happening.  I couldn't tell him, because he only has one good ear, and that was covered up by the telephone.  
He ended up talking to two different "real people", spending at least an hour on the phone.  But what finally happened is that a lady told him to estimate his income for the missing year.  That wasn't too difficult, because it was the middle year of three that he worked for R.B. Rice.  
Here's what we learned:  The worst that can happen is that Cliff draws what he was already expecting.  If SSI accepts the estimate for 1986, he might get more.  
Good grief, with all the years he's worked, and considering this missing year was back in 1986, how much difference could it make?  Maybe a couple of bucks, if we're lucky.  
So all that stewing and worrying was really for nothing.  It reminds me of an old saying I picked up years ago:  "Ninety-five percent of the things we worry about never happen."
Or, as Mark Twain put it, "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's always something

Cliff's brother, two hundred miles from here, found someone who wants to buy our 1988 Ford pickup and is willing to pay almost $4,000 for it.  Trouble is, the pickup has to be transported to Kansas.  I don't drive, remember, so Cliff can drive it there, but he didn't know how he'd get home.  Between him and his brother, Don, they finally devised a couple of different plans of action, depending on what's available Sunday.  
Don is a professional mechanic, and he has some projects he thought Cliff would enjoy helping on, so Cliff figures he'll stay there a couple of nights and come home Sunday afternoon.  I have no desire to go sit in a house in Kansas while Cliff and his brother are playing grease-monkey, so as much as I hated to send Cliff on a four-hour drive alone, I stayed home.  Those people don't even have Internet, for pete's sake!  That, and Don's wife and I have very little in common.  
Cliff was about sixty miles from home when I thought of his meds.  I went to his bathroom and checked:  sure enough, there was his weekly pill-holder.  He'd forgotten all about his pills.  
Now, one of my readers has cautioned me that a person should not suddenly stop taking Lipitor; her husband did that and passed away very shortly afterward.  
Cliff would only be missing two nights pills, but I don't like risk-taking when it comes to my paycheck husband.  
I called the local Walmart and told them my story; the lady there assured me Cliff could pick up enough of his prescription meds at any Walmart to get him through the weekend.  
Sure enough, the druggist in Independence, Kansas, hunted my husband up on the computer and got everything taken care of in short order.  I called Cliff and told him to stop by and pick up his two-day supply of pills.  He sounded relieved.   
All's well that ends well.

It's winter again

Missouri weather is doing what it does best:  Keeping us all guessing.  It's raining and windy now, with snow in the forecast for the weekend; the forecast doesn't have us reaching the sixties again for a week or more.  Cliff had our studded snow tires taken off the car yesterday, wouldn't you know.  Such is life in the midwest.   
Someone commented on yesterday's entry that the chicken-feed-sack dresses must have been itchy:  I guess the person was picturing burlap sacks, which were great for hauling a baby pig someplace, or picking up walnuts, but weren't used for clothing.  The sacks I'm talking about were 100% cotton, which in my opinion can't be beat for comfort.  They had delightful flowery and checked patterns, as you can see in the picture below.
Thanks to Meesha for a heads-up on this picture.
I believe Mother may have starched my dresses lightly.  I remember her mixing up starch and... cooking it?  Could that be right?  Maybe I'm mixing up starch with wallpaper paste.  Some of you people who are as old as I am, help me out here!  Personally, I neither starch nor iron.  Ironing is against my religion.    
Mother also used bluing when she washed white clothes and sheets.  I can picture a bluing bottle in my mind's eye, with a cork stopper and dried dark blue stuff around the rim; I steered clear of bluing bottles when I was a kid because it could be very messy stuff if spilled.  Speaking of cork stoppers, I think that's what was on bleach bottles, too, when I was a kid.  
Obviously this entry is going all over the place, so just bear with me.  
Yesterday our mail-lady delivered the camera I got on Quibids, and I used the two fifteen-dollar Walmart cards I won to help pay for two bags of grub killer.  Moles are really making themselves at home in my yard.  There is a mole-free area out there around the battery-powered mole-chaser I paid $35 for at the home and gardens show; yes, friends and neighbors, the gadget works!  We'll see if it lasts long enough to be worth the price.  Oh, and if you click THIS LINK, you'll find them for $19.99.  Of course.  
Another thing I got from Quibids was a $25-dollar gift card for;  I applied that toward the purchase of a 400-count sheet set that ended up costing me less than $15, shipping and all.  So yes, I got a lot of goodies for $76, and I have not done any bidding there since.  Truthfully, it's so much fun, it scares me!  I go watch the crazy bidding every once in awhile and console myself with the fact that the only things they have I'd really want, now that I have my camera, are the Walmart gift cards.  They auction off a lot of Ipads (they usually go for less than $50), but I already have one of those.   
After doing the entry about our blacksmith neighbor, I did some research on Zabasearch and found out that all six of his kids still live not far from where they were born.  I only knew the three oldest, the others having been born after we moved to Missouri.  But I remember quite a bit about those three, including the night I caused the boys to set their bed afire, and the event that made me stop playing with them.  I can't help but wonder if either of those boys remembers any of that.  I looked for them on Facebook, but only one girl, out of six kids, is on there, and she's one of the younger ones.  Her Facebook account doesn't seem to be active.    
It's probably just as well.   

So far there are twenty-three names thrown in the hat for PW's cookbook, with six days to go before Cliff draws the names of two winners.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Remembering Hampel's store

Here's your daily dose of Baby Donna:  I'm standing beside our mailbox in Guss, Iowa.  You'll usually see me wearing a bonnet in my baby pictures because I was so bald; my mom got tired of people thinking I was a boy.
There was one other place of business in Guss, Iowa, besides the blacksmith shop:  Hampel's store, just a short walk up the road.  In fact, you'd be able to see it in the above picture if it wasn't for the mailbox hiding it.  The shed you see was behind Hampel's store.  If Mother had an old hen that had stopped laying, she'd wrap a twine around it's legs so it couldn't escape and I'd carry it upside down, squawking all the way, to Edgar Hampel; he'd give me some change (not much, maybe a nickel) and put the hen in a cage in that shed to be shipped off to market.  Edgar always had a cigar in his mouth, and the smell of his cigars permeated the store.  

Here's the abandoned store as it looked in the mid-nineties.  There used to be gas pumps out front under the overhang.  By the way, that's my mom in the picture, and she was also in the blacksmith shop picture on the other entry.  
Edgar and Blanche lived in the house next door to the store, which you can see here.  She kept a wonderfully stylish home.  She had Better Homes and Gardens magazines stacked neatly on an end table, and the interior of her house looked very much like some of the pictures in the magazines.  Back when Canasta was all the rage, my parents went to card parties at the Hampel's house.  I went too, of course; but I wasn't playing cards; I passed the time however I could, patiently waiting for snack time.    
Walking into Hampel's store, on the right you'd see bags of livestock feed just inside the door, stacked almost as high as my head (which probably wasn't that tall... I was a kid).  I loved to climb up on top of that pile and survey the store from my perch.  I remember once playing Old Maid with some little boy atop the sacks of feed.  The feed came in cotton print material that was used by most housewives to make clothing.  My mother made most of my dresses out of chicken-feed sacks when I was small.  
To the left as you entered was a case displaying various wonderful flavors of ice cream, and I ate many an ice cream cone in that store; oh, the agony of having to choose between butter-brickel, black walnut, and chocolate ice cream.  Toward the back of the store there was a display case with cookies of various sorts.  What fun it was to look through the glass and admire those lovely cookies!  
Hanging from the ceiling were those big, slow-moving fans that stirred the air during hot summer weather.    

There was one of these signs on the screen door as you walked in.  

And a soda machine like this.  

My parents must have kept a running tab at Hampel's, because I remember asking for some frivolous thing I wanted to eat, and my mother answering, "We can't afford it." 
"Can't you charge it?" I asked. 
Mother laughed and laughed, and tried to explain to me how things weren't free just because you charged them.  It didn't make any sense to me.  From what I'd seen, you picked up whatever you wanted in the store, said "charge it", and went home with it.    
On the fourth of July, everyone in the community bought a few fireworks and gathered together in front of Hampel's store to light them off.  I was afraid of the "chasers", which were then commonly called by a name that is no longer used, and I don't want to get in trouble by saying it here.  We used the same term when playing "Ring around the Rosie".  Looking back, it seems horrible and racist; but we didn't know what we were saying.    
Those were good times.  I wouldn't trade my childhood for anyone else's, spoiled little girl that I was. 

Time to give away PW's Cookbooks

I still have two signed copies of Ree Drummond's cookbook, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks".  I think it's time these cookbooks found a home.  

Sure, it's been out awhile, but I'll bet lots of people would still like an autographed copy of this book.  Most of Ree's recipes aren't what you could call "heart-healthy", so I don't use a lot of them, much as I love the chicken spaghetti.  I actually wanted the book for the pictures and stories.  Everybody knows I'm a big fan of Ree Drummond, so if she wrote a book about auto repair, I'd probably buy that, too.  
Her current book, "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels", is still quite popular; I notice there's a constant waiting list for it at the library.  Thank goodness I have my own copy, and read it as soon as I received it; my daughter has it borrowed now.  

Anyway.  If you'd like a chance at one of these two books (autographed!), just let me know in the comment section here, or on Facebook, or in an email.  We'll draw a name from Cliff's hat, just like we did last time.  Please have your entry in before Cliff wakes up next Thursday, please.  (No, I don't have an exact time; sorry.)   
This time I'm not putting any restrictions on it.  With the exception of my daughter and my son, even relatives are allowed this time.  My daughter and daughter-in-law already have the book anyhow.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Look what I found about our Iowa blacksmith (previous post)

Alvin Lawrence Mitchell, Creston
(From the Adams County Free Press, Thursday, November 8, 2001 [page 2])
Alvin Lawrence Mitchell, 84, of Creston died Nov. 3, 2001, at Greater Community Hospital in Creston. Services were 2 p.m. Nov. 7 at Coen-Beaty-Pearson Family Funeral Service in Corning with the Rev. Lowell Schaff officiating. Burial was in Maple Grove Cemetery at Guss. Memorials may be directed in his name. Coen-Beaty-Pearson Family Funeral Service in Corning was in charge of arrangements.
Mr. Mitchell was born Sept. 24, 1917, to William Lee and Ruth Ann Lawrence Mitchell. He attended Corning schools. He married Lois Darlene Ridnour Feb. 26, 1940, in Shenandoah. He was a blacksmith, farmer and square dance caller, living in Guss, and Adams County until he moved to Creston in 1995. Mr. Mitchell was a member of Guss Maple Grove Church, Boots and Bows Square Dance Club and Southwest Iowa Callers Association.
Survivors include wife Lois Darlene Mitchell of Creston; four sons, Gary (wife Marilyn) Mitchell of Corning, Lloyd (wife Karen) Mitchell of Corning, Darol (wife Pam) Mitchell of Prescott, and Joe (wife Sandy) Mitchell of Ottumwa; two daughters Ronda (husband Terry) Plowman of Creston and Monica (husband Gary) Briley of Creston; brother Paul Laverne (wife Osil) Mitchell of Corning; 30 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; mother and father-in-law; and great-grandson, Jeramie Mitchell.

Now I never knew he was a square dance caller or a farmer, but I was just a kid.  So I wouldn't have known or cared about either one.  My parents used to play cards with Alvin and Lois, and I played with their three kids.  My Internet search shows they had three more children after we moved to Missouri.  

When I was a little girl

The first house I recall living in was the switchboard house at Guss, Iowa.  Now, Guss wasn't an incorporated village, although you can still locate it on most maps.  It consisted of half a dozen houses, a blacksmith shop, a grocery store/gas station, and a Methodist church.  I have letters my mother received when we lived there, and they were addressed "Villisca, Iowa".  So that was our official address. 

There I am in front of the switchboard house.  Mother and Daddy both did duty at the switchboard as "Central".  When a storm crossed the telephone wires or caused other damage to the lines, it was my dad's job to go fix that.   Daddy also helped out on Ted Davies' farm sometimes.
Directly across the road from our house was Alvin Mitchell's blacksmith shop; Daddy could often be found in that cave-like place, smoking his roll-your-own cigarettes and visiting with Alvin and whatever local farmers happened to be there.  
Things I recall about Alvin's blacksmith shop:  The peculiar smell of burning coal and hot metal.  A calendar with a sexy lady, I think maybe Marilyn Monroe, that my dad sometimes commented on. I didn't understand his comments, but he always had a big smile on his face when he looked at that calendar.  There was a pop machine there, and when I could talk Daddy out of a nickel, I'd buy myself a bottle of Tyler grape.  
In the mid-nineties, my nephew and his wife, my mother, and I went to Guss to take some pictures in what used to be a tiny community.  We were doing this because my sister and her husband were about to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary, and her son thought it would be fun to have some pictures of the area where his parents first met.  

This is what the blacksmith shop looked like on that visit; I'd venture a guess that it's totally gone by now.  No wonder it seemed so cave-like!  It barely looks tall enough to stand up in.  Isn't it strange how, when we visit places we knew as children, the buildings always look so small?  

Doing this entry, I wonder if some grandchild of Alvin's will end up on my blog, reading about his grandpa's blacksmith shop.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A walk around the yard

The main thing I'm getting from Miss Springtime right now is promises, but I do have a couple of blooms showing.  

The tiny crocuses, for instance.  But they're so small!

The pansies I put out just last weekend are already getting with the program.   

I won't have long to wait on this daffodil!  

These are buds on the lilac bush.  

Hyacinths are getting ready to show off, but no color yet.

The day lilies survived the winter,

as did the Iris.  

The peaches are about ready to bloom, which rather worries me:  According to the forecast, our temperatures are supposed to dip below freezing Friday or Saturday night.  I'd sure hate to lose my peaches.     

And now, I leave you with Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow, who has lots of cud to chew now that there's green grass growing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Odds and ends

Grandson Jonathan came up from Carthage to visit his family and requested my potato soup.  The secret to my potato soup is lots of cream, so I milked Bonnie for four mornings straight.  She doesn't give a lot of milk these days, although as the grass gets greener, her output increases.  Because the winter was so bitter cold, I let the calf have all her milk for two or three months straight and bought our milk at the store.  I'm glad I am not forced to milk my cow come rain or shine.    
For many years, I milked anywhere from two to a half-dozen cows and fed their milk to baby calves, so I was tied down to the milking routine in a big way.  Believe me, we never went on vacation, even overnight; I had to be home for the twice-daily milking.  Not that I really cared, back then; most times we really couldn't afford a vacation anyhow, and Cliff has always been a home body.  And I did love my cows and calves.

(Click on any picture to see it in more detail)
I found this picture from the mid-1990's.  Now, why I was hand-milking a cow when I owned a bucket milker, I can't tell you.  Maybe she had just freshened (had her calf) and I was just getting enough out to relieve the pressure.  Notice my bare feet: see how close the cow's hind foot is to my left foot?  That poor foot was stepped on many times over the years, but that didn't make me wear shoes.  A podiatrist took x-rays of my feet a few years ago and asked, "When did you break your toe?"  
Let me count the times and ways.  I remember over the years how children and adults would ask why I never wore shoes, and I really had no answer except that it's one of my many eccentricities.   I just feel much freer when I don't have to wear shoes.  

Cliff's shop is located in the area where I gardened back then.
This picture was in the previous entry, but I like how it shows all the calf hutches in the background.  I'd pour the milk into a bucket and then pour it from the bucket into half-gallon calf bottles and feed the babies.  I had hangers for the bottles that hung on the panels in front of their hutches, so I didn't have to stand and hold the bottle; I'd just walk along hanging the full bottles, refilling them as needed for the next calves in line (each calf only got one bottle-full).  
There are reasons for the individual houses for calves:  Young baby calves get sick really easily, and if they're cooped up together, germs spread like wildfire.  Another problem is that after they've had their bottle, they tend to nurse on one another, whether it's on the little udders of the heifers or on the umbilical site or one another's ears.  This can cause problems of various kinds.  So I'd keep the calves separate until they were well weaned.  Believe me, I spent a lot of time cleaning those hutches and carrying fresh water and calf starter (grain) to each calf.  It was fun, and I'd love to do it with just one calf again; but not on the scale that I did back then!  

This is my daughter's handsome son, Brett, with one of many Sparky-dogs we've had.  For years, I would consider getting no other breed of dog than fox terriers or rat terriers, and I always named them Sparky.  The breed is highly intelligent, and they'll usually let you know when a stranger is on the property; and yet, they're great with children.  There's a blog I enjoy reading because it has lots of pictures of squirrel dogs, and those remind me of the terriers I've had in the past.

This is Brett again.  Yes, I kept chickens back then, too.  And occasionally turkeys and geese and ducks, and sometimes goats.  When the kids came to visit, they thought they were at a zoo.  

At that time I had a varmint-proof chicken house and pen; even the top of the pen was covered to keep predators out.  That's the only way you can keep poultry around here.  
That's enough strolling down memory lane for awhile.  Looks like I have an application to fill out, and a $57 check to write to the IRS, so I can get a copy of our 1986 tax return.  *sigh*

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Back to the 90's

I've been searching for our 1986 income tax records.  As always, I got sidetracked and ended up reminscing and scanning pictures from the 1990's.

Oldest grandson, Arick, with my parents.  Daddy had cancer and lived less than a year after this was taken, I believe.  

Here I am posing with a chow we had back then, Brandy, in front of a garden.  In the far background you can see several individual calf hutches; I'd sometimes have fifteen or twenty at a time.  I also kept calves in the hog-houses in the background, on the left.  

My two oldest grandkids stayed with us for about a month one summer.  Arick kept me hopping, let me tell you.  

This is how happy I look after finding morel mushrooms.  Nice outfit I'm wearing, eh?  

I wish my backside looked like that nowadays.  I was babysitting Arick while his mom finished school, and I walked every day back then.  Arick loved it.  

The more I look at these old pictures, but more I realize why my knees are bad.

spring rain

Friday Cliff took a vacation day from work and we went to Colonial Nursery.  I was out of dormant spray for my fruit trees, I wanted to buy some Yukon Gold seed potatoes to plant on Good Friday, and I was in the market for some pansies.  

Pansies are one of the few perennials that can be planted this early, and I need to see some flowers blooming.  Only one of mine is starting to bloom, but it won't take long.  I love the little old-man faces on pansies.  I got them planted up next to the house on the north side, so they won't get too much sun and heat.  
I also planted carrots and beets in the garden, and some iceberg lettuce.  I don't usually have much luck with head lettuce, but it can't hurt to try.  We eat lots of salads, and lettuce is so very expensive!  I know iceberg lettuce isn't the most nutritious, but I love the crunch of it.  Many years ago I managed to get a bumper crop; as I recall, part of the secret is to thin the plants so they aren't crowded.  Oh, and pray for the weather to stay cool until it's mature.  
Exciting things are happening in our bedroom these days (now, get your mind out of the gutter).  Is it a sign of old age when you find gardening to be the most exciting thing in your life?
Our bedroom, since it has south-facing windows, is doubling as a greenhouse.  

The tomato seedlings are starting to grow the first of their true leaves.  

See, there in the middle of each seedling?  It's like watching your baby take his first step!  

These are the tomatoes on the other side of our bed.  I have four varieties; as you can imagine, I have far more tomato plants than I'm going to need.  But hey, it's a long time until they can go out to the garden; I'm sure I'll kill at least half; most likely some will die of thirst, and some might be lost to the elements when I take them outside to harden them off.     

Finally, most of my pepper plants have germinated.  It took them easily twice as long as it did the tomatoes.  I have too many of these, too; but since they don't take up as much room as tomato plants, I'll probably plant them all and give the extras away to friends.    
I somehow bought too many envelopes of sweet pepper seeds.  If you are a gardener and would like my extra packets, I'd be glad to send them to you.  You can plant them directly in the garden after all danger of frost is past, or you can start them inside as I have done.  If two people are interested, I'll divide them between the two.  If more than that want them, we'll draw names.  The varieties are:  Yellow Monster, Horizon pepper, Chianti pepper, and California Wonder.  If none of my readers need pepper seeds, I'll pawn them off on a neighbor or save them until next year.  

I still have two of Pioneer Woman's cookbooks to give away, but we'll do that at another time.  
Oh by the way:  Happy first day of spring!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Social Security problems

The time has come for Cliff to file for Social Security; we did that this past week.  Yesterday, we got a letter from Social Security.  
There's a problem.  It's our government, right?  
Of course there's a problem.  
Cliff worked for R.B. Rice in 1985, 1986, and 1987.  When he started working there, Sara Lee was the company that owned R.B. Rice.  The next year another outfit bought R.B. Rice; I think it was General Foods, but who knows.  In 1987, Sara Lee bought R.B. Rice once again.  And then, the local R.B. Rice company shut down and moved to Tennessee, and Cliff was out of work.  
For some reason, Social Security has no record of Cliff working in 1986.  Now, we know he was working at R.B. Rice, but so far I haven't found our income tax records from that far back.  I'm not sure I have them.  The man we spoke with today said it could make a difference in how much money Cliff draws from Social Security when he retires.  We're at a loss here.  
Is there a chance we could contact R.B. Rice?  Trouble is, Cliff's employer shows up as Sara Lee, not R.B. Rice.  During the missing year, Sara Lee wasn't the owner.  
If I remember correctly, back in those days we went to H & R Block to get our taxes done.  I wonder if they have records from that long ago.  
Cliff has worked steadily since 1962, and somehow that one missing year could change the amount of money he draws in retirement.  Good grief.  
On the other hand, there's good news:  It seems I'm going to be able to collect spousal benefits now, which supposedly is going to let me draw "significantly" more social security.  I wish I had some idea how "significant" the difference will be.  I'll find out in a couple of weeks when they call me.  
I hate having issues like this.  

*update:  I called the number for H & R Block; they only have records going back four years.  The lady I spoke with suggested I contact the IRS.  

*update #2:  My Jewish friend, Meesha, left a link in my comments that looks very promising.  There's a form to fill out, and it's going to cost me $57.  If they can't help me I get my money back; if they do help me, it's well worth the money.  I wish I could tell you folks how many times Meesha has given me good advice, not to mention good recipes.  The only times I have ignored his advice is when he gives his opinion of Apple products; now I'm starting to wonder if David led me astray on this subject.  

My adventures in online bidding

As I told you yesterday, I spent sixty dollars for one hundred bids at Quibids.  I spent about sixteen dollars total on shipping and handling for items I won, which included vouchers for more bids.  
This morning I won another $15 Walmart gift card as well as a $25 gift card for  I then decided to simply bid on one premium item, a $200 Walmart gift card, until all my bids were used up.  
I didn't get the huge gift card and my bids are gone.  I told Cliff, "That's it; I'll quit this game while I'm ahead.  Don't worry, I won't be charging any more bids to our credit card."  
Honestly, I now understand what makes people stand for hours at a slot machine!  It's just that business of knowing there's a chance of winning.  

Click on this picture to make it larger and you'll see all my activity and what I won.  Subtract sixteen dollars for shipping and handling fees and you'll see that I came out ahead (the camera is exactly what I wanted, and it's $110 at Best Buy).  $76 dollars went into these wild, wild bidding sessions, and I won over $150 of loot.  It was fun, I have my camera, and I'm done.   
The camera and one of the gift cards have been shipped already.  
If you have a gambling problem, do NOT try this website!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If it sounds too good to be true...

It probably is.  I believe that.  However, once in awhile when it seems too good to be true, it turns out to be true anyhow.  I'll tell you about my experience this morning, but the story won't be confirmed for a few days, not until I receive the goods.  That's when we'll really know.  
I discovered QuiBids this morning.  You pay for some bids ahead of time, then use those bids on items you want, at a cost of sixty cents per bid.  
Folks, this is not the sort of risk I usually take, but after watching a news clip about it, I purchased $60 worth of bidding power.  
"Cliff is going to kill me for this," I thought.  "But I have to try it."  
I looked the site over to see what was up for grabs and decided not to even attempt the Macbook Pro or the huge flat-screen television.  
Most of you have read here about my need of a new Canon Powershot SD camera, right?  I've put off buying one, waiting for a spare $110 to show up in my checking account.  There was one of those up for auction, and I decided to get my feet wet.  I clicked, was outbid, and clicked again (at a cost of sixty cents per click).  
Eventually I won, so I got the very camera I was going to buy anyhow; it should show up in the next five days or so.  It cost me exactly $11.07, including shipping and handling.  New.  In the box.  
At worst, you could say it cost me $11.07 plus the sixty bucks I spent on bids, but I still have most of those left to use on something else.  So it's still a bargain.  
But wait, I wasn't done:  I decided to stick with the cheaper items (because I figured I'd have a better chance at winning those) and got a $15 Walmart gift card for $2.12 (that's with shipping and handling added).  
Then I did a penny auction that won me fifteen free bids for one cent... plus a buck handling charge.  OK, so that one might not have been such a deal; if it cost me $1.01, it isn't free.  Live and learn.
Luckily, they only let you win three items a day (twelve in one month), because I can see where this could be addictive, and I'm sure if I got too big for my britches, I'd end up losing.  Once Cliff reads about this, I'll guarantee you he'll be keeping me accountable.
The way they can afford to let you have an $1,100 computer for $27 is that there are all these people bidding, at sixty cents per bid; the site has no problem making money off this thing.  

I did some searches about QuiBids.  There's a item HERE explaining how they make their money.   
You can read HERE some guy pushing, another similar auction site.  I'm sure there are many others.  I'm going to dance with the one I started with and see if I come out ahead.  I'll bet if I stick to $15 Walmart gift cards, I'll do OK.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Springlike weather and growing things

We're supposed to have a high temperature near 80 tomorrow!  I have a row hoed and ready to plant my St. Patrick's Day potatoes.  I may plant some beets and carrots if the soil dries out just a wee bit more; also sugar snap peas and head lettuce.  
A couple of the pepper seeds have germinated... finally!  Yesterday I went ahead and put my tiny cabbage plants out; they look no worse for the wear today.  Cliff says he's been seeing rabbits frolicking around near the garden area when he comes home from work at night, and rabbits love peas and lettuce.  We may have a problem.  I don't imagine rabbits are easily trapped, because they are vegetarians.  What would I bait the trap with?  They have everything they need growing all around them.  One thing I have to say about the neighbor's previous pesky dogs:  While they were around, no rabbits were seen near the place.  
It's still five or six weeks until I put out my tomatoes and peppers, so they have a long time in the house yet; poor things, I have such a reputation for killing house plants.  I'm really trying to be vigilant this time, though.  
Last year, my friend Ora sent me a recipe she found somewhere that's supposed to help prevent tomato blight.  While I really don't think it will help, I'm going to try it.  Here's the recipe:  

Tomato Blight Buster
Use this mix to ward off many common tomato diseases from your newly transplanted tomato seedlings.
3 cups of compost
1/2 cup of powdered non fat milk
1/2 cup of Epsom salts
1 tbsp of baking soda
sprinkle a handful of the mixture into each planting hole...for additional disease defense, sprinkle a little powdered milk on top of the soil after planting, and repeat every few weeks throughout the growing season.  

I was talking to another friend, Carol, on the phone the other day; she said someone told her to put a teaspoon of soda in the hole before you plant the tomatoes to prevent blight; as you can see, there's soda in the above recipe.  So who knows?  Maybe it's just the right mix of mumbo-jumbo that'll keep the blight away.  
I wish I weren't so skeptical.  Also, I'm a little worried that Iris will get a whiff of milk in my tomato patch and start digging.  
I'll keep you posted.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

News and notes from around the homestead

I'm back to milking Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow when we need milk.  Good stuff, that raw milk.  
We had about five inches of snow yesterday; it's gone today.  In the garden, the lettuce, spinach, and radishes are up.  Only the peas have yet to germinate, but of course they take longer.    
I mudded in some onion plants today.  I've always used sets in the past, but my onions would split and rot, and didn't keep very well; I'm hoping by using plants I'll get better results.  I found an excellent website that seemed to be telling me the plants make better keeping onions than the sets.  
Yesterday I bought a few seed potatoes to plant on St. Patrick's Day; I'll get some Yukon Gold seed potatoes later on to plant on Good Friday.  
The tomato plants in the mini-greenhouses are almost all up, although they haven't put on their true leaves yet.  The peppers are still taking their sweet time; every day I have a long talk with them, telling them the tomatoes are way ahead of them so they'd better hurry up.    
Hyacinths are poking through the ground in the flowerbed.  So are last year's tulips, but of course they won't be as pretty as they were their first year.  
I'll get back to my regular blogging before long; right now, that's about all there is to tell.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Yesterday the temperatures barely got above freezing, but Cliff and I went to a friend's house and brought home his tiller... the kind of tiller you pull behind a tractor.  Cliff hooked up to it to the John Deere, and within a half-hour, each garden plot was a perfect seed-bed; we returned the tiller to its home and waited for snow.  
Yes, you read that right.  Snow.  This morning the ground is white, and there's a mix of snow and sleet coming down.  It won't last long, because the weather-guessers are forecasting temperatures in the seventies for Thursday.  
Meanwhile, the most exciting news around is that seeds are sprouting in the mini-greenhouses placed all over my bedroom.  I've learned over the past few days that different varieties of tomato seeds germinate at different speeds.  The Legend tomatoes showed themselves three days ago, but the other varieties are just now beginning to come up.  None of the several varieties of pepper seeds I planted have sprouted.  Saturday I took my cabbage plants out to get them used to sun, wind, and cooler temperatures; Sunday morning I started out with them and decided to check the temperature first.  They stayed inside all day because it was cold, even for hardy little cabbages.      
Cliff has a dentist appointment this morning, so while we're out, I'll probably pick up some seed potatoes.  Who knows, I may yet plant a token few potatoes on St. Patrick's Day.  I usually plant most of my potatoes on Good Friday, which is late this year, April 22.  
I love my morning Eight O'clock Columbian coffee, which you can get as whole-bean or ground.  That first cup of the day is heavenly, and I always think perhaps I should have made more than three cups.  By the time I've drunk all three cups, though, I don't want any more.  I've seen people who could drink coffee from morning til night, but once I reach my limit I don't want more unless I have a cup after dinner (the noon-day meal).  

Here's something that strikes me as funny:  Cliff has picked up the habit of calling guys "Hon" in the course of conversation.  Now, he's called women "Hon" for years, but not guys.  Here's what I think happened:  

When I went to work in the year 2000, the twins next door gravitated over here and practically lived with Cliff every day until he left for work at 2:30.  They'd been pulled out of school and were allowed to spend time however, and wherever, they wished.  It worked out well for Cliff, because he isn't a loner; and as much as he liked me bringing in some money, he missed my presence.  
The twins loved all things mechanical, and picked up a wealth of information from Cliff.  Not only that, but they were excellent helpers, willing to jump in and assist him with any task, no matter how unpleasant.    
I believe they were eight or nine years old when they first showed up, and being cute little boys, Cliff called them "Hon" a lot; back then he wasn't sure which boy was which anyhow, so this worked.  Once the boys discovered girls, they stopped showing up regularly, but they still keep in touch with Cliff by phone, and they'll stop by the shop once in awhile to bend his ear.  Travis has often confided in Cliff, saying, "You're like another grandpa to me."
They're probably twenty years old now, but when Cliff is talking to one or the other on the phone, I'll hear him calling them Hon.  And now, any man on the street is liable to be addressed as Hon.  I've seen Cliff get some strange looks, believe me.  He said one of his co-workers asked him the other day, "Did you just call me Hon?"   

One of the twins now has an aggressive form of cancer and will soon be undergoing surgery followed by months of chemo.  Now, those of you who think it's nuts to pray for people, just go on your merry way, because this isn't a laughing matter; but Cliff and I, and more importantly, Tyler and his family, would really appreciate all the prayers anyone can send in this young man's direction.  Any brand of prayers.  This is a serious situation.  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Growing things

These are tomato seedlings; they germinated overnight.  I purchased this seed tray at Home Depot, and I like it.  When it's time to put them in the garden, I can plant the whole pot.    

The pepper seeds I planted the same day aren't showing signs of life yet, but I'm sure in the next day or two they'll rise to the occasion.   This is the Walmart seed-starting greenhouse.  This will be the third year I've used one of these, so obviously I like it.  When it's time to transplant, the little peat bundle lifts right out.  This is the cheapest greenhouse I've used, by far.  You can also buy replacement peat pellets and use the same tray next year.  Win/win.  

The lettuce seeds I planted in the garden over three weeks ago were waiting for a day of sunshine with temperatures in the 60's.  While Cliff and I were enjoying a motorcycle ride to Chillicothe, tiny lettuce seedlings peeked through the topsoil.  

Yesterday I started "hardening off" the cabbage plants that have been residing in the house.  I'll leave them out a little longer each day and hopefully set them out by next weekend.  This seed-starter tray is from Home Depot, and I don't really care for it.  The soil that came with it is loose inside each little plastic pot, and I'm not sure how I'll go about removing them when it's time to plant them.  I may use a spoon or something.  Even when wet, the soil is very loose.   

Oh, and check out this link from The Old Farmer's Almanac that tells how to have an herb garden in a bag.  Click HERE.   Looks pretty much foolproof, and would be great for a city gardener with little space.


I still haven't ordered a new camera.  I've been using the photo-editing tools that come with Iphoto to edit out the big blotch that appears in the sky, on all my outdoor pictures.  I will be getting a camera before long, it's just that we have some doctor and dentist bills that will be paid first.  
We're very close to the Missouri River; you can see it from the highest point on our place, back at "the point".  However, I haven't been successful in getting it to show up in a picture.  The other day while taking our walk, I gave it another try from different angles than I normally use.  

Click on this to make it larger (by the way, I see my blotch; I didn't edit it well enough).  In the middle of the picture near where the land meets the sky, you can see the Missouri River.  I think.  

I can see the river in this shot, because I know where to look:  behind a distant line of trees.  Most of the water you can see here is not the river, but simply water standing in the river bottom.  

I spent a lot of time down there when I rode my horse, Blue.  I miss him, but I can honestly say I don't miss riding... except that I miss going to places I will never visit again, because you can't get there with a car.  

Places like the ghost farm.  

It was fun riding over fields that are so often flooded, planted with soybeans and corn.  Sometimes I'd see the actual harvest going on.  

I loved riding right down to the river's edge.  

I think Blue enjoyed it, too.  

I'm so glad I took literally hundreds of pictures during my time with Blue.  I've very thankful that while I was still able to ride, I had what was, for me, the perfect horse.    

Rest in peace, my friend.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blogging since 2004

Holly left a comment recently stating that she can't believe it's been three years since we moved back here behind the barn; she wondered how long she's been reading my blog.  Well, Holly, it's been a lot longer than three years.  I know this because we were fellow J-landers at first; we did our blogging on AOL Journals.  
When AOL journals shut down, we were able to transfer those journals over to Blogger; I'm so glad for this, because there are a lot of memories in the words I put out into the Blogosphere back then.  My granddaughters were staying here after school and during summers, and we had lots of adventures.  I was still holding down a job.  My mother died in 2004, the year I started the journal.  It's a shame that I stored so many pictures on AOL, because they shut down their picture-sharing site along with journals; so while my blog entries made the trip to Blogger just fine, the pictures were lost.  I do have them all on my computer, thank goodness.   
Because my son lives in Georgia, I thought it would be interesting back then to find some bloggers in that great state; you know, so I could sort of keep my finger on the pulse of Georgia and perhaps know what was going on in my son's world.  Many of them still blog; Holly is one of those.  I went over to My Country Life to see if I could find an early comment from her, but I got tired of looking.  I was amazed, though, to see how many of my original commenters are still in touch with me, one way or the other.    
Other Georgia folks I got to know back then are Carlene and Celeste; Cliff and I met Celeste and her husband on our way home from a visit with our son.  I was right here reading Carlene's blog when she shared the awful news that she had lost her husband, Danny.  
Early on in my AOL days, I searched for some Kansas City bloggers.  I didn't realize what a small forum AOL Journals really was, and I only found a handful.  One local has remained with me:  Toonguy.  He was, I believe, my first commenter, and I'm sure I was his.  He had an online friend, Sim, who followed his blog and mine; and rather than keep a public journal, Sim put his thoughts in mine and Toonguy's comment sections.  My daughter and I met Toon and Sim face to face, as well as Anne, who doesn't blog these days... but she's on Facebook with me; and these days her husband is our dermatologist.  True! 
Once I moved to Blogger, I found more Kansas City blogs than I ever imagined existed.  I get most of my local news these days from Tony's Kansas City; I never link to him because he insists on putting pictures of almost-naked women on each and every entry.  I'm not a prude, but it cheapens women, in my opinion.  Plus, the pictures he uses make me look really bad by comparison.  He and two lady Kansas City bloggers I follow were on the local public radio station yesterday, and I enjoyed hearing the voices of people whose words have only been in print, in my world.  May's Machete has shocked me a time or two... I don't get out much... but I like her.  Average Jane claims not to be all that average; perhaps not, but she seems quite normal by my standards.  I've read her for quite a while, too.  

I hate to single anyone out, but I have two favorite local bloggers.  Meesha, the only Jewish person I've ever met... and the only person born in Russia!  And Dave, a photographer who has a wonderful Kansas City picture blog.  He's the culprit who kept insisting I needed to switch to an Apple computer, so I hold him personally responsible for the fact that Apple won't let me upgrade my Ipad to the new model; if it weren't for him, I'd never have owned an Apple product.  Neither of these guys has been on the radio, although I'm pretty sure if someone got the two of them together, they could do an interesting comedy skit.    
Blogging has made my life so much more interesting, not because of the words I put out there, but because of the commenters and fellow bloggers whose words and pictures I take in every day.  
This is the best hobby I've ever had.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The story behind the new header picture

I mentioned before that we found some lovely brome-and-alfalfa hay not far from home, hay of such perfection that we figured it was just what Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow needed.  We already had lots of hay, and it's fine for the horses; but Bonnie has spent the winter with a leech named Clyde sucking the lifeblood out of her, at every opportunity.  We wanted something special to ration out to her until the spring grass is ready to graze.  
We also bought some range cubes so she and Clyde would have some extra protein.  
Now, Bonnie has an appetite like you wouldn't believe:  she lives to eat.  Lately she is getting range cubes in the morning and brome-alfalfa hay in the afternoon, and she expects it all the time.  
Cliff and I were going for our walk a couple of days ago and came upon Bonnie and Clyde grazing at brown grass in the pasture; once Bonnie saw us, there was no peace.  She starting mooing at us and began to follow us toward home, and that's when I took the picture.  She just assumes it's time for feed; why else would Cliff and I be out walking around?  
So that's the story.  
Regarding my previous entry, it was suggested I email Apple to tell them my plight; I did better than that.  I called them.  That's how I found out I bought my Ipad six days too soon to get a refund.  The entry was a last-ditch effort that I do not expect to bring results, but I feel better for doing it.  

Our Mercury has been acting up lately.  For the last year or more, it has spells of refusing to engage the cruise control.  This doesn't affect me, since I don't drive.  When it's being stubborn, Cliff fiddles with it; when I say, "Why don't we just get it fixed?" he answers, "Oh, it works when it wants to."  
And he fiddles and clicks and mumbles, and sometimes it starts working; other times it doesn't.  
Now we have another problem.  Yesterday we were heading to the doctor for Cliff's regular appointment; I knew the car was taking its time heating up for some reason, but thought nothing much about it until Cliff said, "The heater isn't working."  
OK, now this affects me.  
"Why don't we take it somewhere and have somebody work on it?"  
"Oh, it works when it wants to."  
Well isn't that special; meanwhile, I'm freezing.  I wondered out loud whether this might affect the air conditioning this summer, since the fan not running seems to be the problem.  
"I'm not going to borrow trouble," says Cliff.  


Dear Apple

If I had purchased my Ipad six days later than I did, you would have given me either $100 back or else let me trade it for the new Ipad 2.  
Come on, give me a break.  Please?  
I just did an entry in this blog about being a confirmed Apple user.  Doesn't free advertising count for something?  

Let's see if Apple is as attentive and vigilant as CenturyLink has been to my complaints.

Spencer Tracy

I mentioned the fact that I watched "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner".  Actually, I watched it in two segments.  Ever since I've had the most recent scourge (cold?  flu?  virus?) that took hold of me, I can't stay awake past 8 P.M., and I started nodding off just past the halfway mark of this most excellent movie.  So I watched the rest of it the next day; Cliff watched that part with me, agreeing that was some great acting.    
I mentioned to him that Spencer Tracy died shortly after the movie was completed, and Cliff asked, "What caused his death?"  
"Cancer, I suppose," I answered.  "I read that Katherine Hepburn brought him to the set early in the day so he could do his parts and then leave, because he was in bad shape."  
One just assumes that, if it was known he was dying, it must have been cancer.  Not so, however.  
Thanks to IMDb, I got the real scoop.  He died of a heart attack, most likely brought on by lung congestion and diabetes.  He was close to the age I am right now.  Here are some interesting facts I found about Mr. Tracy, thanks to IMDb:  

    Tracy suffered from severe alcoholism and diabetes (from the late 1940's), which unfortunately impacted his willingness to accept several tailor-made roles in films that would become big hits. Although his drinking problems were well known, he was inarguably considered one of the best actors in Hollywood among his peers (he had a well deserved reputation for keeping co-stars on their toes for his oddly endearing scene-stealing tricks) and remained in demand. A few weeks after completion of Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), during which he suffered from lung congestion, he died of a heart attack.

His Catholic beliefs precluded ever divorcing his wife Louise, though they lived apart.

Tracy was offered the role of The Penguin in the TV series "Batman" (1966) before Burgess Meredith. He said he would only accept the role if he was allowed to kill Batman.

Katharine Hepburn, his frequent screen partner and longtime flame, never watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) because it was his last film and watching it with him gone was too painful for her.

Was seriously ill with emphysema as well as diabetes when he made his final film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).

He was making a cup of coffee on the morning of 10 June 1967 when he suffered a sudden heart attack. Katharine Hepburn found him dead on the kitchen floor.

[on acting] Come to work on time, know your lines and don't bump into the other actors.
]on drinking] Hell, I used to take two-week lunch hours!
I couldn't be a director because I couldn't put up with the actors. I don't have the patience. Why, I'd probably kill the actors. Not to mention some of the beautiful actresses.
[on being asked why he was always billed above long-time companion Katharine Hepburn in their films together] Because this is a movie, you chowderhead, not a lifeboat!
The kids keep telling me I should try this new "Method Acting" but I'm too old, I'm too tired and I'm too talented to care.
[on why he never left his wife for Katharine Hepburn] I can get a divorce whenever I want to. But my wife and Kate like things just as they are.
This mug of mine is as plain as a barn door. Why should people pay thirty-five cents to look at it?
I'm disappointed in acting as a craft. I want everything to go back to Orson Welles and fake noses and changing your voice. It's become so much about personality.
It is up to us to give ourselves recognition. If we wait for it to come from others, we feel resentful when it doesn't, and when it does, we may well reject it.
Even when my throat is completely tired out from acting, Luckies still get along with it fine.
There were times when my pants were so thin, I could sit on a dime and know if it was heads or tails.
The physical labor actors have to do wouldn't tax an embryo.
Write anything you want about me. Make up something. Hell, I don't care.
Why do actors think they're so God damn important? They're not. Acting is not an important job in the scheme of things. Plumbing is.
Actors have no damn place in politics, period.
[on Jean Harlow] A square shooter if ever there was one.
[on Gene Tierney] Although she was beautiful in her films, they couldn't quite capture all of her. Fortunately, I did even if it was late in my life.
[On why actors should avoid political activism] Remember who shot [Abraham Lincoln].
[To Ernest Hemingway at dinner in the Stork Club] Sometimes I think life is a terminal illness.
Poor guy, surely he knew diabetics should't be drinking; I guess he just couldn't stop.  Actually, once you realize he had diabetes, was an alcoholic, and smoked Lucky Strikes until the day he died, it's amazing he lived past the age of forty.