Saturday, April 30, 2011

You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

Sassy was originally purchased as a horse for Adam's wife.  He'd ride Tude and the wife would ride Sassy.  Eventually Adam got rid of the wife, but kept the horse.  If he leaves for a few days  of riding, he takes both horses and takes turns riding them.  Sassy, a half-Arabian, gives him the most comfortable ride of the two.  Tude, however, is his first and favorite.  
The two horses are best buddies.  If they happen to get separated, they'll whinny and run the fence until they're back together.  They do things for one another, as best friends do.  For instance:


Yep.  They'll simultaneously scratch one another's itches.  


video

Friday, April 29, 2011

Her name is Jodie

She is mixture of Jersey and Holstein, but she is colored like a Jersey; she's bigger than most pure-bred Jerseys.  She seems very healthy and lively.


Bonnie is worried about this new addition; I think she wants to be its mommy.


Are you my mommy?


Are YOU my mommy?


Little Jodie was scared of me at first, so I had to get her in a corner, straddle her, and force the bottle into her mouth.  Once she got a taste of milk replacer, though, she decided she liked me.
I wanted to name her after one of my favorite cows from the past:  At first I was going to name her Mary, after my best-ever registered Jersey cow (who only presented me with heifer calves all her life).  But Mary was a purebred, and this baby isn't.     
So I thought of all the mongrel milk cows I've had in the past.  There was Suzie, but no cow could live up to her reputation.  There was Koko, but that isn't a fitting name for a light-colored cow.
Ah, but old Jodie, a half-Holstein, half-Angus cow we bought from my parents:  now there was the perfect animal to use as a namesake.  Jodie, the cow we sold to a neighbor who then kept getting out of their pasture and coming back home.  Jodie, the cow who always started peeing when she let down her milk as I was milking her.  
So Jodie it is.  God willing, you'll be seeing a lot of her on this blog.


Perfect day for a motorcycle ride

But I doubt we'll be riding.  Cliff had a previous commitment to help his brother (who always comes through for Cliff if he really needs help), and then there's the calf I'm supposed to get a call about today.  


And then there's a problem with Sassy, one of the horses who lives here.  Yesterday she figured out she can get into the tall pasture with Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow.  Nephew Mike saw her going in; she simply followed Bonnie through the gate as though she'd been doing it all her life.  
Now, Sassy's owner has been putting her in the stall at night because of her tendency to gain weight.  Cliff and I have put up a stretch of electric fence that limits the horses' pasture experience, keeping them off all but about five acres of grazing.  
I figured I'd have trouble getting her out of the six-inch-high clover and grass, but she let me halter her and lead her back to the horse pasture.  I put up a dummy wire at the gate, figuring she'd think it was electrified and leave it alone.  No dice; she was right back in there in no time.  
So, I put her in the stall for the night, and this morning I confined her to the large lot, which is where I took this picture.  You can see what horses do to limited pasture:  They literally eat it in the ground.  If you don't like that, you can give them the freedom to roam fifteen or twenty acres and watch them founder.  Ruined pasture or ruined horses; that's the choice.  
Anyhow, when Cliff gets home from helping his brother, we'll rig some different sort of new gate for Bonnie, one through which no horse can enter without getting a nasty shock.  

Tomato plants and Jersey heifers

I went shopping, expecting to come home with a couple dozen tomato plants.  I ended up with six.  What ever happened to those little six-packs of tomato plants that were so reasonably priced?  I did find some expensive four-packs, but mostly what I saw were individual plants priced at over three dollars each.  Wow.  I guess sticker shock happens with anything we buy these days.  
I may have an announcement to make this evening or tomorrow.  There are these people on Craigslist who buy up calves from dairies, saving the dairy people the problem of dealing with dozens of individuals coming to their farm and buying calves.  These folks on Craigslist then sell the calves at a profit to themselves.  Usually they only have bull calves, but one particular dairy is selling all the heifer calves born in the next couple of weeks.  They are Jersey, Holstein, and holstein/Jersey cross heifers.  
Some of you might recall my experience with Secret, who turned out to be sterile, try as we might to get her bred.


This is Secret (on the left) with Bonnie, right after we first bought Bonnie.  Soon after this picture was taken, we hauled her to the sale barn where she brought half the price we paid for her as a baby.  Yes, it was a losing proposition all the way, although at least I enjoyed raising her.  This pretty much soured me on buying baby heifers.  
However, I kept seeing these people with their ads on Craigslist and finally called them.  I told them if they could come up with a heifer that looks Jersey, I'd take one.  
Baby calves get sick easily, so it's a risk.  Plus the fact that she might end up like Secret:  There's no guarantee she will breed and have a calf.  
And of course, I'll have to make somebody else mix the milk replacer and feed her for awhile after my surgery in a couple of weeks.  But I've decided this may be my only chance at getting another Jersey calf to raise.  I do have someone who says we can take Bonnie to visit her Jersey bull when the time comes next year, but that might result in another bull calf.  
So, wish me luck.  We'll see how this pans out... I'll believe I'm getting a heifer when I actually see her.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I love Pete Seeger, and times really don't change much


This was back in the 60's.

What Did You Learn in School Today?

Words and Music by Tom Paxton

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody's free.
And that's what the teacher said to me.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes.
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong.
It's always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.

What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad.
I learned of the great ones we have had.
We fought in Germany and in France.
And some day I might get my chance.
That's what I learned in school today.
That's what I learned in school.


Assorted things

All those tomatoes I raised so carefully and pampered in my bedroom?  Not doing so well.  One of my readers said they had tobacco mosaic, a form of blight; could be.  I set a bunch of them out, and some were absolutely being reborn as they grew new leaves.  Others, not so hot.  And then something, perhaps cutworms, decided to take them all down, the good, the bad, and the ugly... like a lumberjack chops down trees.  I've never had a cutworm problem before, but there's a first time for everything.   So today is our shopping day; I believe we'll head to Blue Springs and buy some tomato plants.  Hey, I tried.  I think next year I'll skip all the mess of trying to raise my own seedlings and let the professionals do it.  Oh, and when I set my new plants out, I'll be putting paper cutworm collars around them.  At least my pepper plants are thriving!  
Morel mushrooms are loving this cool, damp weather.  Nephew Michael is finding lots of them every day; I get to pick through them when I want morels for dinner, and he sells the rest at the going rate of $25 a pound; we all win.  Trust me, anybody who is physically able to climb those hills and hollers on the back of our place deserves $25 a pound.  
Cliff and I had planned to travel to Le Sueur, Minnesota, this weekend to one of the biggest tractor swap-meets ever.  However, there's a  50% chance of rain for Saturday, the main day we'd be there; Cliff doesn't want to drive eight hours (he hates travel) when there's that much likelihood of rain.  So we'll pass.
On the up side, Friday looks like an absolutely perfect day for a motorcycle ride, so that's what we'll be doing if the weather-guessers know what they're talking about.  Temperatures near 80, not too windy, sun shining.  I would love to have taken a three-day weekend to go to Arkansas on the bike, but they are being flooded so badly, I think we'd need a boat to travel there.    
I have day lilies and iris getting ready to bloom, and my pink hibiscus is sending forth shoots.  The Crimson King maple tree Cliff bought me for mother's day last year is leafing out nicely.  At my age, it's good to be able to see another year and notice trees actually making progress year by year.  Cliff made fun of me for planting trees because of our age and how slowly they grow; I told him if I'm lucky, I may even live to see the Golden Rain Tree bloom.  That will be my next goal; I have no idea how long that will be, since I only became acquainted with this type of tree two years ago.  
So that's your update on what's happening around here.  I'm going to put on some clothes, get the dog, and go for a walkabout around the yard and garden.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Flooding

I've had several people ask me about the flooding in Missouri.  Fortunately for us, the flooding has stayed to the south and east of us.  We're getting just the right amount of rain to keep the gardens growing, and just the right amount of cool weather along with it to make the morel mushrooms happy.  We received an inch of rain a couple of days ago, and another 1/2-inch plus yesterday.  Thanks to nephew Michael, who is having success mushroom-hunting on our property, we had morels for dinner yesterday.  


He found a lot more yesterday and offered me some, but I told him to keep this batch; fried stuff isn't really what we should be eating two days in a row.  
Midlife Mom asked yesterday if the hepatitis Cliff and I had was similar to what Naomi Judd has; no, it isn't.  Hers is a much more serious type, Hepatitis C.  Naomi used to be a nurse, and she has always assumed she somehow contacted the disease during that time.  We have a nearby neighbor, a former schoolteacher in our district, who lost a lot of blood during the birth of her last child and had to have blood transfusions; she contacted Hepatitis C, and now, twenty-four years later, she is on a liver transplant list.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Giving blood

Today I will have my first experience ever of donating blood:  I'm donating it for my own use when I have knee surgery three weeks from today.  
There have been many times I wished I could donate blood for someone, but it wasn't allowed:  I once had hepatitis A.
  

"Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation that affects your liver's ability to function.You're most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who's already infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don't require treatment, and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.Practicing good hygiene — including washing your hands often — is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Effective vaccines are available for people who are most at risk."
I didn't even know I had it until after the fact; I never got very sick, and wouldn't have figured it out except that as newlyweds, we went camping and Cliff spent the whole time in the tent, vomiting.  When we got home he went to the doctor, who looked at his yellow eyeballs, asked him a couple questions about his red urine, and said, "It sounds like you have hepatitis; Who were you with four weeks ago that could have given this to you?"Well, as it turned out, I was the culprit.  We recalled that one Sunday when we went to my parents' house for dinner my mom had exclaimed, "Look at the whites of your eyes!  They're just as yellow as can be."  She mentioned that my skin, too, had a yellow cast.  I had an constant uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach at the time, but since I was slightly pregnant, I figured that was the cause.    
Although my case of hepatitis was mild, Cliff's was scary-awful; the doctor wanted to hospitalize him, but we didn't have insurance and Cliff begged out of it.  I didn't know anybody could upchuck that much for so long, and it seemed like it took him forever to recover.  To this day, there is no medication to take for hepatitis.  
By the way, we've all heard of certain diseases a person can "catch from the toilet", and some of those stories are myths.  But any doctor will tell you that you can, indeed, get hepatitis from the germs in a public facility; this is another reason why you should wash your hands after using the rest room.  You can also get hepatitis A from eating contaminated food in a restaurant; all-you-can-eat buffet, anyone?  
So today, for the first time, I'm giving blood.  For myself.  And I'll be charged the same price as if it I were using somebody else's blood.  
The trouble with having had hepatitis A is this:  When you mention you've had hepatitis, doctors tend to freeze in place as though you said, "I have leprosy."  Then they carefully quiz you until they are 100% sure it was the "A" variety of hepatits that you had, because they don't want to mess with someone whose had the other varieties.          

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

This is a day full of memories for me, although I don't have "church" memories of Easter.  
The Church of Christ didn't celebrate Easter or Christmas; I guess in some instances this has changed, since Max Lucado's congregation seems to celebrate both holidays.  But when I was a kid, we did our Easter at home, and we never discussed the religious aspects of it, for the same reason we didn't have pianos or other instruments in church:  The Bible didn't say to use pianos in church, or to celebrate Christmas and Easter.  (I know all about instruments being used in the Old Testament, but the way I was raised, that was for the Jews.  So there.)  As an adult, I've enjoyed many Easter services at churches of various denominations, and loved the organs, pianos, and orchestras of all sizes that I've heard at churches.    
Still, Easter was a wonderful family time.  There was usually a new dress and new shoes, not that I was ever thrilled by that. Shoes never did do much for me, nor did silky, scratchy, uncomfortable store-bought dresses .  Give me the home-made cotton dresses made from chicken-feed sacks, any day. 
There were Easter egg hunts with cousins, and huge dinners with lots of chicken and noodles, ham, deviled eggs, and other goodies.  
Good memories.  
Families are all so scattered these days, and many of the ones who live nearby feel forced to eat three Easter dinners in one day to keep everybody happy, so they can't actually enjoy any of them.  Buying ham will break the grocery budget, and let's not even talk about the cholesterol, calories, and sodium.  
It's just one more thing that has become too much bother, I suppose.  
Cliff and I will probably have something stir-fried, and a low-fat brownie with a half-cup of ice cream for dessert.  
I'll walk around the yard and garden several times to see if anything new has popped out of the ground, and there's an iris I'm checking often, because you can see it's about to bloom.  The red leaves on the Crimson King maple tree Cliff bought me for Mother's Day last year are showing.  It's nice to know that such an expensive tree made it through its first winter here.  
Mushrooms are being found on our property; I found a few on my own, early in the season, not enough to make a "mess", but enough to dice up in some scrambled eggs; I paid for them with elevated knee pain for a couple days.  Morels are just one more thing I've lost interest in.  It just isn't worth the effort and worry, no matter if the whole town sneaks in and steals them.    
Of all the things I've lost, I think I miss my enthusiasm the most.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Various things

Last Sunday we went to visit a co-worker of Cliff's to get some very heavy pipe; Cliff is going to use it somehow in the frame he's building to hold up the $100 hoist he bought a couple weeks ago.  


For several years, I thought I wanted a gazebo; these people had one that might actually be affordable, made from the top of an old grain bin.  I was impressed with their ingenuity.  However, at this point in my life, I've decided it wouldn't be worth all the trouble of retrieving such an item.   At this point in my life, very few things are worth the trouble, to tell you the truth.  


  Cliff's latest toy, the Oliver 1655 Diesel tractor, arrived Tuesday.  He's already fixed one thing on it; I wish I could recall what it was he fixed.  


And there it sits, with Cliff's other, larger project in the background.  No, that one isn't finished, and you can thank Missouri weather for that:  It's always either too cold or too humid to paint, and until Cliff gets it painted, he isn't going to be putting all the parts back on it.  He'll have more opportunity to catch the weather just right for painting when he retires.  


And now, on to the garden.  Last weekend, although it's early, I set out a row of peppers, as well as two tomato plants.  For some reason, my tomato seedlings are really starting to look sickly, even though I have them outside in a safe place and have been watering them daily.  So last night, I set out more of them.  If there's a frost warning, I'll cover them with straw; that has worked in the past, except for the time there was a really hard freeze in May.  


The problem might be that the little plants are overcrowded in those tiny pots; notice the roots sticking out.  


These pepper seedlings have received the same treatment as the tomatoes, and they look great.  Oh well, I never claimed to be a master gardener.   
I had some potatoes all cut up and ready to plant on Good Friday, as is my tradition.  However, since the forecast for the rest of the week sounds soggy, I went ahead and planted them yesterday evening; at least the moon sign is right (plant root crops in the waning moon).  My St. Patrick's Day potatoes are almost all up and growing now.  





Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I'm reading

We're back to unseasonably cool weather, so all the yard-and-garden fun is on hold.  So far the temperatures haven't dipped below freezing.  Because I started more pepper plants than I can possible use, I planted a row of them last weekend; I also set out two of my tomato plants.  Oh, and I have some corn up.  If we get a frost or freeze, there's plenty of stuff it could affect now; one year we had a freeze on May 10, I believe.  Peas, lettuce and spinach love the cool weather, and are doing great.  Even a hard freeze won't affect those crops.  
Meanwhile, the furnace is kicking on from time to time and I'm curling up with my Nook.
There are two library books on my Nook right now.  "Washington, A Life", is 1,100 pages long.  It's extremely interesting, but I won't get it even half read before it goes "poof", so I have already gotten in the cyber-line to re-check it out; you can't renew books on the Nook, you have to check them out all over again.  I'm fifth in line, and that's OK.
The way the Revolutionary War is going so far as I've read, I don't know why we're not still British subjects!  What a bunch of losers those ragtag soldiers appear to be, running from battle at the first sound of a musket, deserting at will, and the few brave ones get killed.  Honestly, if I didn't know how it turned out, I would think England was going to win.  As for George, one minute I love him for his courage... he truly was courageous... and the next minute I don't like him much for his snooty attitude about people of a lower class than himself.  Oh, and did you know they used to shoot or hang people for deserting?  Did you know Mr. Washington had his personal slave with him all through the war?  His wife was fairly close at hand a lot of the time, too.  
I needed a break from watching my side lose a war, so I checked out "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter", which I can hardly put down.  It's been a long time since I've been this riveted to a book, and I'm going to cut this short and get to it now.    

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If you have an hour to spare

I happened to go to PBS.org this morning and something caught my eye there:  an episode of American Experience (one of my favorite shows) telling about a huge famine in Russia in 1921.  You'll find the video HERE.  We've had so many depressions, recessions and wars around the world since 1921 that this isn't even thought of.  
My mother was only a child when all this happened; that's how long ago it was.  Herbert Hoover, who has always gotten a bum rap as the person responsible for the Great Depression (as if any one person could have caused it), was in this case the great humanitarian.  Maybe he's the one who started all this business of America trying to fix the world, but after watching this program, I realize perhaps that isn't always a bad thing. 


 Orphanages were packed wall to wall.


Thousands of Russians were dying every week; people were digging up corpses and eating them.  Butcher shops were closed down for selling human flesh.  


Dogs, cats, and horses were eaten.


The Americans who were sent to administer the programs set in place to distribute food got sick from typhus, caused by lice, and some died.   


 I wonder if it will come to this in America?  The way things are going, I wouldn't be surprised.  
Anyway.  If you have almost an hour to watch it, it's a very interesting episode.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life is good for Bonnie-the-Jersey-Cow

She eats until she's full, grazing for all she's worth.  Cows can put down a lot of grass in a short time because they don't chew their food; they swallow it whole and it goes to the rumen, which can hold up to fifty gallons.  


Once the food she's eaten is nice and soft, it goes to the recticulum, where it's softened and digested even further and is formed into small wads of cud.  Each cud returns to the cow's mouth and is chewed forty to fifty times, then swallowed.  The food has two more stomachs to go through, each one softening and digesting the food a little more.  
This time of year, with all the green grass Bonnie is eating, we won't talk about what comes out the other end; sufficient to say it's pretty liquified and nasty.  


Bonnie loves this time of year, and I think she's secretly glad her stupid son won't enter into the pen with the new grass.  


Sometimes it's nice for a mom to get a break from the kid.  


Clyde doesn't like the situation much, but we all have to grow up sometime.  


  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stupid calf

I reported on April 4 that we put electric fence around the tender new grass, and fixed a gate that would allow the cows to enter while keeping the horses out.  In fact, we have restricted the horses from a great deal of the grass on our forty-plus acres, due to their gluttony which could lead to founder.  
It was no trouble at all to get Bonnie into the enclosure the first time; I walked through the gate, shook a can of sweet feed at her, and she followed me with little hesitation.  This ain't her first rodeo.  From that time on, she has entered and exited at her pleasure.  
Clyde, on the other hand, refused to follow his mother.  He stays out grazing with the horses, and if he decides he needed a drink of milk, he'd bawl at Bonnie until she joins him on the outside.  
A couple of days ago, I got Cliff to help me and we literally forced Clyde into the electric-fenced area by crowding him through the opening.  He resisted for all he was worth, but we finally got him in where he grazed that tall, succulent grass and clover like there was no tomorrow; I figured the problem was solved.
Oh, if only it were that easy.  Once in, he refused to go through the gate to get out.  There's no source of water in there, and I doubt he's getting enough milk to take care of all his hydration needs.  
So, Cliff and I tricked him out of the pen (very much against his will, I might add).  
Here's how it stands as of this morning:  


    There's Bonnie, in the electric-fenced enclosure.


There's Clyde, out there where it's slim pickin's.  


I wouldn't mind, except that Clyde is our next beef; I'd really like to have him on that tall, lush grass and clover, growing for all he's worth.   
Stupid calf.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cliff's at it again

It was almost time to go to bed last night when Cliff decided to take one last look at Craigslist.
"Well, lookie here," he said.  "There's a 1655 Oliver Diesel at Concordia for $3,500!"
Knowing that particular tractor tends to sell for $5,000 and up, and likewise knowing that there was more than enough money in Cliff's tractor fund for such an item (since he sold the pickup), I urged him to call about it.  There was no answer, but as I said, it was bedtime.
This is actually the model of tractor Cliff was looking for when he found and bought the behemoth 1855 Oliver.  He couldn't find a decent 1655 around, so he bought a bigger one.  Not that he's sorry of that, mind you.
Cliff left a message, and the man called back this morning.  Cliff asked the usual pertinent questions; the man told him the tractor runs, the front end is tight, and it needs a seat.  There was no battery in it, and no diesel fuel.  Oh, and it hasn't been started in awhile.
 So when we left this morning, Cliff took some starter fluid, a battery, and five gallons of diesel.


When we arrived, there the poor tractor sat, outside in the weather where it had been parked months ago.  I've lived with Cliff long enough that I feel quite judgmental about people who leave their tractors outside.  Abuse is what it is, abuse of the highest order!
This fellow just had a quadruple bypass a month ago, so he wasn't up to messing around with a tractor.  It was obvious he expected to sell it without having to start it up.  He said it's always been hard to start in cold weather, etc. etc.  He didn't feel up to working on it.
"Cliff can get it started," I told him.  "All you have to do is stand back and watch."
Cliff hooked up the battery, poured five gallons of fuel into the tank, and they started cranking.  The man grabbed the can of starter fluid and started spraying with reckless abandon (Cliff winced, because it isn't good to use that much starter fluid; later he asked me, "Didn't you hear those lifters knocking?"
Here's a brief video to show you what I'm talking about.



So, Cliff gave him half of the price to hold the tractor and asked him if he could deliver it; he agreed, if Cliff would pay him for his gas.  Hopefully he will get it here by next weekend.
And we now own four Oliver tractors:  one Super 55, one 550, one 1855, and one 1655.  I do believe Cliff could actually sell this one and make a little money... maybe.  He'll probably get attached to it, though, and just add it to his tractor harem.

Friday, April 15, 2011

From an early bird

I'm pretty sure that if I didn't drink coffee, I'd sleep later in the mornings; not because of the effect of caffeine, but because I love my first cup of coffee so much that if I wake up and it's after three or four o'clock, it's all I can think about.  
Some days, that first cup of coffee is the highlight of my day.  Yes, I do lead a pathetically dull life.  
So this morning, I let myself get out of bed at three, and now I sit at the computer feeling sleepy in spite of the three cups of coffee I just polished off.  The only thing that prevents me from going back to bed is that I know I'd be crawling out every fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, because that coffee has to go somewhere.  Coffee in, coffee out.  We all know the drill.  
So here we go with the memories.  
When I was a kid, my mother was possibly the world's most enthusiastic Stanley Home Products customer.  All the household cleansers she used were Stanley products; our hairbrushes were from Stanley, as was our bubble bath and shampoo.  My mother sang the praises of Stanley Degreaser and Germ-trol to anyone who would listen.  
Mother went to a lot of Stanley parties, and of course, where Mother went, I went.  Babysitter?  I never even heard that word until I was old enough to be the babysitter.  
Actually, I enjoyed Stanley parties.  
The Stanley hostess would start things off by passing a tray of little gifts around:  pencils and small tablets with the Stanley name on them; little square sponges that my mom would use to remove makeup; and various other items that really weren't worth much, but even back then, "free" meant a lot to me.  
After the freebies were passed around, the hostess would go over the history of Stanley Home products, telling how a couple of brothers, I believe it was, started the business in a barn.  Back then, we went to so many Stanley parties, I knew the story by heart.  
Next there would be games, which I loved.  The Stanley lady usually let me play along, and once in awhile I'd win something.  I'm sure the prizes were not geared to children, but it didn't matter.  I loved to win!  We usually played some sort of word games that didn't require us to leave our chairs and move around.  
After the games, the Stanley lady would demonstrate several products.  My favorite was some stuff in a bottle that you rubbed on yourself... arms, legs, neck... wherever... and rubbed until it was almost dry, at which time little hunks of rolled-up dirt started appearing; my knees could always be counted on to contribute plenty of dirt.  Gross, eh?  Oh, I did love that demonstration because, after all, my knees were the star of the show!  
After the demonstrations, Stanley catalogs were passed around and ladies made out their orders.  There was always a little bit of begging and arm-twisting as the lady holding the party, along with the Stanley lady, tried to talk others into giving a party (you got "credits" if somebody booked a party from you).  My mother had lamps and other items from the Stanley parties she threw.  
Then came the best part of all:  refreshments.  There would be coffee and tea and cake and cookies; it was a happy time indeed.  After that, the ladies would chat for an hour or so, and we'd finally head home, my mother looking forward to the day when she'd receive whatever goodies she had ordered.  


Stanley and Fuller Brush went together at some point; their products can still be purchased online.    

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

knee replacements and motorcycle riding

I'll try to explain this the best I can, since I've been getting several questions about it.  
Cliff and I have never had a wreck on the Gold Wing, never.  However, we've dropped it several times, I'd say an average of three times per year.  
Gold Wings are heavy beasts that don't turn real sharp.  So on occasion, say if we ended up on a dead-end road and had to turn around in the road, Cliff has dropped the bike.  We just pick it up and head off, hoping nobody was watching.  
Quite recently he parked in a parking lot that wasn't very level.  The bike started to go down before we got off, and he said, "Put your foot down and help me."  
I did, and we got the motorcycle picked up.  Now, this is no big deal as long as a person has the parts she was born with.  But you see, that's my left foot and leg we're talking about, so if I were to put all that weight on my left leg with an artificial knee, real damage could be done.  
It isn't wrecking I'm scared of; Lord knows, if we had much of a wreck, we'd probably have a lot more to worry about than my knee.  It's dropping the bike when it's at a stand-still (or turning sharply) that could wreck my knee.  
If you damage a knee that has a replacement, it very often can't be fixed at all.  You just can't always put Humpty-Dumpty together again.  
If we could figure out a way to afford to have our motorcycle made into a trike, I'd be a happy rider again.  
Believe me, I'm pondering that and hoping I come up with something.  


On another note, my cordless mouse keeps losing contact with my computer.  So I get another mouse and use it; then that mouse loses contact with my computer and I switch back.  This is the nuttiest thing I've had happen on a computer lately.  It isn't a battery problem, I switched batteries.  

Back from the orthopedist

After consulting with my orthopedist, I made a date for a total knee replacement on my left knee.  I've put this off for seven years, had a couple of temporary fixes, and gotten by.  But considering the fact that right now I have Cliff's insurance plus medicare, which means it will be almost totally paid for, I can't see putting it off any longer.  So in about a month, I'll be getting the deed done.  
The biggest concern I have is this:  I should forever stay off motorcycles once I've had this surgery.  We had a lot of plans for trips on the bike.  I wish we could find an affordable three-wheeled bike, or have a conversion done to our Gold Wing; because that would really cut the risks of injury to my knee.  I'm not promising I'll stay off motorcycles anyhow.  But I know I should.  
Other than that one concern, I'm ready, willing, and able.      
Between now and my surgery date I have to have some of my own blood collected so they can use it for me at the time of my surgery, and I have to get some pre-op tests done.  The time is going to fly by till the big day!

flowers

In the summer and fall of 2008, when we first moved out behind the barn, I went crazy with flowers, and planted several different kinds of  daffodils.  


  I brought these from our old yard; the original bulbs were given to me by Diane, a neighbor down the road.  Maybe these are jonquils instead of daffodils; you can read about the differences HERE.  
I kept looking at catalogs from nurseries and ordered flowers as if there was no tomorrow.  I purchased an assortment package of daffodil bulbs which are still surprising me in the spring.  


This one is different.  


Absolutely lovely! 


After the winter we've had, we deserve all this color.  


While I was poking around in the flower bed, I noticed a group of strange plants emerging from the ground.  There were several of them, all alike, so I knew they had to be something I had planted and forgotten.  


I recall being fascinated with pictures of Asiatic lilies last summer, so I think that's what these are.  


I looked up this picture of asiatic lilies online; these resemble my emerging plants.  However, I have little recollection of ordering them or planting them.  


It's no wonder I lost my gladiolus corms.    


These days, when a flower catalog shows up in the mail, I discard it without looking at a single page.  I have enough flowers!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gladiolus

Last spring Cliff and I were in Sedalia and I picked up some really cheap gladiolus corms at Menards.  I'd never had that particular flower before, but at a price of $2.50 for a couple dozen, what could I lose?  I already knew they don't survive Missouri winters, but did I mention they were cheap?  
The flowers were lovely while they bloomed; one day last fall I had nothing better to do than dig up those corms.  I read that they should be kept in a cellar, and we don't have one.  So I put them in a container and went out to the shop where Cliff was busily puttering away.  
I asked him if there was a good place in the shop that wouldn't totally freeze in winter, and yet wouldn't get too warm if the heater was on.  I needed a place to store my gladioli corms.  We discussed two different locations, and I can't recall which place we settled on, but I went out today searching in both places.  
"What are you looking for?"  Cliff asked.  
"Remember when I brought some bulbs out here to store for the winter?" 
Of course, he has no recollection of bulbs or any conversation about them, and in fact got pretty darned huffy about the whole thing.  
My gladioli corms have disappeared without a trace, and I KNOW I put them in one of those cabinets.  
If I get new ones this year and dig the corms in autumn, they're going to the grandson's cellar where they (hopefully) will be safe.  

My cottonwood tree

That's my favorite cottonwood tree, as seen from my back yard.  I've blogged about it several times.  


I've told how I love the whispering sounds the leaves make in summer, when there's the slightest breeze.  


Obviously, someone with a gun doesn't appreciate my cottonwood tree as I do.  I hope my tree survives this damage.  

A walk around the garden

These are the peppers and tomatoes I'm in the process of hardening off; I take them outside every morning and leave them in a place protected from the wind for four or five hours.  The tomatoes don't look so good, but as long as I watch them carefully and keep them watered, they'll survive.  


I know this because the two plants on the left came out of the same group, only I started hardening them off earlier.  Meet Gertrude and Heathcliff, as well as the two pepper plants, George and Gracie.  Don't they look healthy?


Red cabbage 

carrot seedlings

beet seedlings

leaf lettuce

spinach

potato

peas

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ah, sweet Internet

Finally after about thirty hours, Embarq gave us back our Internet.  
It was only coincidence that I had bought myself some time for the Ipad a few days ago:  I wanted to acquaint myself with the workings of the thing so I'd know how to access the Internet if we are on a road trip.  Ipad does give you a sweet deal in this regard.  I don't have to purchase monthly access all the time, only if and when I need it when I'm away from home; normally, when I use it here, it uses our wi-fi.  It sure saved the day today.    
First of all, I wanted to call my orthopedist, but I didn't have her number anywhere.  Who uses yellow pages these days, anyhow?  Not that we ever had big city yellow pages, here in the boonies.  So I remembered my Ipad Internet access and surfed until I found Dr. Strong's phone number.  Sweet!  
Cliff was anxious to order the brake he needs for the hoist he got working and we hunted that up also; it should be here in a day or two.  With postage it will probably cost around $75 dollars, so that hoist is still a steal.    
My potatoes are coming up; I have my two pet tomato plants, Gertrude and Heathcliff, pretty well hardened off and ready to plant.  I'm working on two special pepper plants now; I've named them George and Gracie.  By the weekend, they'll be strong enough to go into the garden.  


I feel much more normal, now that I've entered a blog post.  I'll probably sleep well tonight.  

Short and sweet

Our internet has been down for almost 24 hours. I'm doing this entry from my iPad, just because I can. Cliff got his hoist running. Now all it needs is a brake and it will be ready to use.
I have an appointment with my orthopedist Wednesday morning. We shall see what she has to say.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cliff's purchase

I realize most of my readers are ladies and don't know a hoist from a joist (just like me).  We're heading to Platte City in a few minutes, but I came back to leave a link to an item like Cliff bought.  Notice the prices, although Cliff says you can get a used one for $1,000 sometimes.  
That's why he figured it was worth risking $100 to buy something he would use a lot:  for instance, if he works on the blades on his riding mower, he'd lift it with this hoist.  He has a hoist already, but it isn't electric.  
To see the brand of hoist (it's a half-ton) we're going after, click HERE.  

Swap meets, broken purchases, and gardening

That's about the extent of my life at present.  Yesterday we wanted a destination for our motorcycle ride, and there was a swap meet sponsored by an antique tractor club at Platte City; seemed like a good idea.  
Friends, if your husband messes around with old tractors and is going to a swap meet sixty-five miles from home, do not ride your motorcycle.  There were all kinds of "man toys" there, most of them pretty big and heavy.  
Cliff bought an older drill motor, which was no big deal; it fit in the trunk of the motorcycle.  And then he found a big electric hoist and started salivating.  
"How much do you think it would cost?" I asked.  
"Oh, around $500 at least."  
About that time the owner of this particular batch of junk approached, and Cliff said, "How much for that hoist?"  
"Well, there's a story about that," the guy said.  And he went on to explain that it didn't quite work right, and said he'd take a hundred bucks for it.  
This is the sort of challenge Cliff loves because he might be able to get it working; although at $100, it's somewhat of a risk.  Of course there was no way of getting it home on the Gold Wing.  So Cliff gave the man some money to hold it and we'll go after it today in the car.; you know, because gas is so cheap and all.  
I'm not griping; stuff like that comes out of his tractor fund, so it's neither here nor there to me.    
I've put up fence for the peas to grow on, and I risked planting two short rows of corn, mainly because Cliff noticed some farmers already planting corn.  It's early yet, but it might not get killed by frost.  I'm going to risk setting out a couple of tomato plants in a few days, too.  
Yesterday I ate seven grapefruits, all by myself; I'm not even a bit ashamed about it.  I've already had two today, and I plan to try and surpass yesterday's record.  
Trees are getting leaves, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing.  I now await the arrival of my first hummingbirds of the year.  

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The weather has straightened up to the point that I can go outside every morning at first daylight and see which flowers are blooming, and what seeds have germinated and sprung up in the garden.  That's how I like to start the day.  
Once again I'm having quite a problem with my knees; going uphill or ascending steps is very painful lately, so that I limp my way along during much of our daily walk.  I think I'm going to have to let Cliff do the hills by himself, and I'll walk around on the level until he rejoins me.  
So here I am weighing the consequences of going to the orthopedist.  Unless I go, I don't know whether I have other options besides knee replacement.  If it's time for knee replacement, do I want to be laid up in summer?  We'd have to cancel our motorcycle plans, and I doubt that I could do much gardening while recuperating.  On the other hand, right now we have two insurances:  Cliff's plan from work, and my Medicare Complete; once he retires, it will only be Medicare.  I can't help but think about the people I've heard of who developed staph infection after knee surgery and almost died.  There are so many things to consider, but of course if I don't go to the orthopedist, I won't be making any decision.  
OK, my whining is done for this day; after all, it could be worse:  My knees don't hurt when I'm sitting or lying down.    
My sister, as always, brought back bushels of grapefruit from Texas.  They are especially appreciated this year, since there was no crop last year.  
Grapefruits must have been fairly cheap when I was a kid, because I remember we had them fairly often.  Mother taught me to eat them by slicing them in half, sprinkling a teaspoon of sugar on each half, and digging my spoon into each section one by one, bringing out a nice little juicy spoonful of fruit.  When I had gotten all I could with my spoon, I'd squeeze the half-grapefruit onto my plate, pick up the plate to my mouth, and slurp all the juice as though drinking from a cup.  I never did have very good table manners.  
Nowadays I stand over the sink or step outside, peel the grapefruit like an orange, eat the pulp from each section and toss the bitter membrane.  There's no need for sugar on these Texas grapefruits.  
If we don't go for a motorcycle ride today, I'll mow the yard.  It's looking pretty bad.  
I haven't been blogging as much lately, nor am I reading as many blogs as usual.  I guess I'm just in a slump, or maybe it's spring fever.  I don't know when I've ever been so happy to see spring arrive as I am this year.  

Thursday, April 07, 2011

From tubs to showers

Funny, I get some of my best memories when I'm taking a shower.  This morning when I was in there, it occurred to me that I've only been taking showers for perhaps ten years; before that, I filled the tub and took baths.
If it weren't for the stiffness and aching joints of old age, I'd still be taking baths.  Although I'll admit, now that I'm used to showers, I like how fast they are, and how much less water I use.  We have a well with plenty of water, but the old pump isn't going to last forever, so any wear and tear we can avoid is a good thing.


You can see the galvanized tub in the lower right-hand corner of this picture of my kids playing in my washing machine.  Yes, I did use a wringer washer in 1970.  I didn't have to carry the water from outside, though, like my mom did.

When I was a child we didn't have a bathtub.  My parents and I took sponge baths all week long, and then on Saturday nights Mother would put the galvanized laundry tub in the kitchen, heat water in the teakettle until there was enough to warm the cold water she'd put in there (carried in from the pump outside, in buckets), and we had our Saturday night baths.
We all three used the same water:  I got to use it first, while it was clean and fresh; Mother was second, and Daddy was last.  If I was really filthy, Mother scrubbed me off with a washcloth before I got in the tub.  My knees were always dirty, thanks to the fact that I only wore dresses and I crawled and climbed around a lot (tomboy that I was); Sometimes mother would put Ajax scouring powder on the washcloth to use on my knees, and by the time she was done, my knees were red from the scrubbing and I was hollering "ouch".
By the time we moved to the city, I was twelve years old and getting pretty big to sit down in a round tub.  I'd sit cross-legged in the tub to get wet, stand up and soap up, and sit back down to rinse off, if I remember correctly.
I loved my yearly visit at my sister's house in Gladstone, because I could take real baths in a real tub.  I just couldn't get enough!   
Our first couple of houses in Kansas City didn't have showers or tubs, but when my parents bought their first house in Harlem, we finally had a bathtub.  I'd soak in the tub until I was wrinkled as a prune, with the bubbles from bubble bath purchased from Stanley Home Products piled high around me.  I felt as though I was in the lap of luxury.   
And now I only take showers, remembering the good old days of tub baths.  
Thanks for joining me on another trip down memory lane.    

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Weighty matters (and a picture especially for Patsy)

Perhaps some of my readers recall that I set out to lose some weight back around New Year's.  Our doctor threatened Cliff back then, saying he was going to end up diabetic if he didn't lose some weight; then he pointed the finger at me, saying he knew I was the one putting food on the table.  
I've lost twenty pounds, and my weight has stayed at 166 ever since the colonoscopy prep got me down to that point.  No, I haven't really lost any pounds since then, but I pat myself on the back for not gaining.  I got rid of most of my pregnant-looking belly; I now appear only about four months pregnant, instead of seven.  
Cliff keeps losing the same five pounds and gaining it back, through no fault of my own.  Oh, I suggest eating out about once a week... Pizza Hut is a favorite... but I make up for those excess calories with the meals I prepare at home that day, so it works out well.  If we have something not-so-good-for-us at home, like fried catfish, I no longer cook two skillets-full, and I don't make the corn bread and fried potatoes that I love to serve with it; I substitute a small baked potato and some broccoli or spinach or green beans.    
Cliff's problem lies in meals he eats without my supervision.  Catered dinners at work, for instance, although he's done rather well at sticking to one portion on those.  
Weekend before last, Cliff spent two days and nights at his brother's house in Kansas, without me.  Don's wife is a good cook.  She made, among other things, a coconut cream pie, and practically followed Cliff around with it until it was gone.  
I'm not faulting her; Cliff is a cook's dream.  He loves to eat and is very appreciative of the efforts made at preparing a meal.  Everybody loves to feed him.   
I'm not faulting Cliff, either.  He absolutely can't help himself when he comes face to face with coconut cream pie, or any pie, really.  Had I been there, he would have felt accountable and would have stuck with one serving, without my saying a word.  Looks like if he heads down there again, I'll be going along.  Boredom never killed anybody.  
What bothers me about this whole situation is the way I feel when something like this happens.  My mind knows Cliff wasn't thinking, "Oh boy, Boss Donna isn't here with her whip, so I'll show her; I'll eat all the stuff she doesn't want me eating."  
Nope.  He was thinking, "Coconut Cream pie!!!!!!  I haven't had pie in months!!!!  I love pie!  Pass the pie!!!!"  
In fact, I know Cliff well enough that I can say assuredly he had extreme guilt with every bite of that pie.  
 But when he came home and had gained that five pounds back that we'd spent three weeks getting off him, here's what I felt... not what I thought, because I know better, but what I felt:  
"He doesn't care about my efforts.  He doesn't care that I would love to make pie because I like pie too, but I can't make it because he would gain weight.  He doesn't care if he gets diabetes and goes blind and has limbs amputated as long as he can eat pie."   
After all, it's all about me.  Right?
What really makes this so childish of me is that I have my own set of eating problems; if I didn't, I wouldn't be just "holding my own" with regard to weight.  I'd still be losing.  I'd stay away from Pizza Hut and I'd stop having a gallon or so of popcorn every night for supper.  
Since nobody ever threatened me with diabetes, I suppose I figure I'm doing OK.  
I may be childish, but at least I can admit it: maybe that's why our marriage has lasted so long.  Or maybe Cliff is just a very long-suffering person.  



My Arkansas bloggie-friend, Patsy, was disappointed that I failed to use this picture in the previous entry.  So here you go, Patsy, even though this probably doesn't go under the heading of "weighty matters".

Hello

Cliff wondered yesterday why I had not posted an entry.  The truth is, I simply have nothing of interest to share.  Bonnie-the- cow is still happily munching away at the new grass.  Clyde hasn't found a way in yet, and may never find the gate.  It doesn't matter:  there's grass outside the electric-fence enclosure, it's just not as lush; and his mom makes sure to join the big baby and let him have his milk every couple of hours.    
You know the old saying, "In springtime, a young man's fancy turns to love"?
My fancy turns to baby calves in the spring, and I'm wanting a calf so badly I'm beside myself.  Of course, the ones available that I'd like to choose from are an hour from here, and we have no way of transporting a calf.  Plus the fact we really have no money set aside for the purpose of buying a calf.  So I'm a bit in the dumps over that.  


The tomato plants in my bedroom are growing well.  I'll probably harden off a couple of them and set them out early, with plans to cover them on the coldest nights.  


We're having fantastic weather and beautiful sunrises.  


Bonnie just can't get enough of this tender new grass.  I took two pictures similar to this, but in the other one, I had unwittingly caught my husband taking a leak in the background (it's great to live in the country) right after our morning walk; so I chose this shot.  
I'm reading "Washington:  A Life" from the library.  It's surprisingly interesting, portraying George Washington as being just as human as the rest of us, with the same faults and foibles.  It's based in large part on his correspondence.  There are over a thousand pages, and at this time of year I'm not certain I'll get it finished in the two weeks I'm allotted by our library; but I can always check it out again.  With e-books, there's no option to renew.  
On this note, one of my readers who lives in Illinois is also a Facebook friend; she posted on her status that she needed a library card but couldn't afford the arm-and-a-leg she'd have to pay to get one.  Can you believe that in some parts of the country there are people who have to pay a huge fee for a library card, based on the amount of taxes they pay?  One of this lady's friends commented that it would cost over $600 for her to get a library card.  
This just doesn't seem right to me, and if my circumstances were like this, I'd be blogging about it and writing congressmen.  Meanwhile, I will be very thankful for my free library access.  
I leave you with a few seconds of Bonnie, grazing heartily.  She makes that grass look so good, it almost makes me want to try it myself.  





Monday, April 04, 2011

Around here

It was windy yesterday (Sunday) and although we heard lots of motorcycles going past on the nearby highway, we opted not to join them; we had a good ride Saturday.  
After we had a nice stir-fry for dinner, Cliff went out to make a way for the cows to get in the new pasture, without letting the horses in.  Horses founder if they have too much to eat, so they certainly don't need the lush spring grass.  I went out to help, although it surprises me how much I'm limited by my arthritic knees.  


  This is the entryway Cliff made for the cows over a year ago, on another new pasture.  The area we turned them on yesterday is the part you see on the left, the plowed ground in the picture.   


 Here's the project, half-done.  Cliff runs electric fence above the entryway so the tall horses won't even try to get in; if they did, they'd be in for a rude shock.  


I had to coax Bonnie through the entrance the first time because she's used to electric fence going across that spot; but once she was in, it didn't take her long to find the tender grass.  Clyde hasn't gotten up nerve enough to enter yet, but eventually he will.  It took Sir Loin three days to follow his mom onto the new grass, back in November of 2009.  Bonnie ate her fill, exited the enclosed area to be with her son, and then returned to graze.  We had wondered if she'd find her way out without help, but she is a smart little cow.  She was in and out several times yesterday evening.   


  Yesterday morning, the first of my daffodils finally decided to bloom.  


So did the hyacinths.  It's about time!   


Today Cliff is taking me to the Social Security office so I can show them our marriage license as proof I'm married to him.  They have to see my marriage license before I can have the raise I'm supposed to get when Cliff retires (spousal benefits or something like that).  My goodness, is it possible we will have been married for forty-six years in June?