Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Barn cats

We had been catless for a year or two; it wasn't really our choice, because we like to have cats in the barn that will kill the mice and rats, as well as the pesky sparrows that poop on Cliff's tractors.  However, the last few cats who came here to live either decided the barn was their personal litter box or wandered off into the night, never to be seen again.   
I've seen ads on Craigslist, people who had free barn cats that were spayed and neutered.  But when you bring adult cats to a new place, they often leave as quickly as they came, so I remained catless.  I even had a Facebook friend offer me some cats, but I was afraid they would be too tame.  The trouble with cats who have been pets is that they don't stay in the barn; they come to the house and make nuisances of themselves by sneaking through the door every time it opens, or climbing on the window screens and leaving holes for the flies to get through.   
After the neighbors to the west abandoned their house, I started seeing some cats lurking around what used to be my cabin; it appeared to be a mother cat and three kittens.  I started giving them milk every time I milked the cow, and later bought some cheap cat food to supplement the milk.  The mother cat was obviously a pet, but if she came too near the house to suit me, I could hiss and she'd run away.  I refrained from petting her because I didn't want her at the house; but I could tell she would have enjoyed being petted.  
Little by little, the cat family moved to a wing of the barn, so I began feeding them there instead of at the old cabin.  However, there were now only two kittens, one a calico about half the size of the other.   
A couple of days ago the cats disappeared.  When I'd call "Kitty-kitty-kitty", they didn't come running as was their custom.  For thirty-six hours I didn't see any cats, although I faithfully left milk and cat food for them.  
I decided perhaps the little girl whose pets they once were had come and gotten them, although as wild as the kittens were, I couldn't see how she would have loaded them up.  
This morning I went to milk and there the cats were... minus the calico runt.  So now I have two cats, a mother and a daughter.  I'm hoping neither of them disappears.  Perhaps the coyotes I heard yesterday morning ate the runt.  These things happen.


That's the mother in the background at the milk pan.  


It's really hard to get both cats in the picture.  They can be posing prettily, but when I approach, they jump down and head their separate ways.  The kitten is on the pile of boards. 


Mother Cat, begging me to please pet her.  I think I'll call her Lucky, because she reminds me of a good old mouser by that name that I used to have.


Miss Lucky, Jr., posing prettily.   
So, here's hoping neither of these disappear.  I'm getting a little attached to them.  Lucky is behaving so well, I think I'll let my granddaughters pet her next time they visit... but only if they pet her in the close vicinity of the barn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things were going so well, and then...

My friend Jessica has been gushing all over Facebook for months about a barbecue joint called Oklahoma Joe's.  The more she talked about it, the more I wanted to try it.  Problem is, both locations are an hour away from us, on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area.  I have suffered in silence all this time, but yesterday I broke the news to Cliff that I simply had to eat at Oklahoma Joe's to see what I was missing.  
So today, we went.  The Kansas City, Kansas, location is ten miles closer, but the Olathe one seemed like more of a direct route; the GPS gave the same travel-time to get to either one.  We chose Olathe.
We arrived around 11:30 A.M. to see a line of people that reached almost all the way to the entry door.  They have a very good system, though, for moving people along; so we weren't standing long.  I got the Z-man sandwich my friend recommended; Cliff got a barbecue plate of sausage and brisket, with a side of beans.  
We both loved the food.  The regular barbecue sauce was as good as any I've had, and Cliff agrees.  He tried the hot sauce; I took a tiny taste, but it was really too hot to suit me.  Even Cliff, who likes hot, spicy seasoning, preferred the regular sauce.  
When we left I was fulfilled and happy.  We'd never drive that far again just to eat at Oklahoma Joe's, but if we were passing through to visit my brother-in-law at Elk City, Kansas, or if we were on our way to Colorado or points farther west, I'd pick up another sandwich like the one I had today.  
We found a Dairy Queen and got a mini-blizzard for dessert, then stopped by the Walmart in Oak Grove to get a couple of Cliff's prescriptions and some groceries.  That's where my mood changed.
Medicare Complete wouldn't pay for our prescriptions; they wanted us to submit to our "other" insurance.  
We haven't had any other insurance since Cliff retired!  And it seemed strange that they paid for the prescriptions we got for Cliff only two weeks ago.  
A lady working in the pharmacy called Medicare Complete twice, and then came and told us we really needed to call them ourselves.  
So we sat down on a bench at the pharmacy and did just that.  We dealt with two different ladies at Medicare Complete, and they were both courteous and helpful.  I was put on hold for about thirty minutes while one lady transferred me to another, and that was rather discouraging, mainly because I didn't know what the outcome would be.  
It turns out Cliff's former employer contacted them within the last few days to notify them that he was insured with them.  We can't figure out how that happened; I do know the oldest grandson just received his insurance card from the same employer, and we wonder if there was a mixup there:  same last name, and similar address.  If that's the case, I wonder if Arick's insurance will be cut off as a result of our mixup today. 
All's well that ends well, but we sure did spend a lot of time in Walmart, talking on the phone.  Whew.  I have to say that the ladies at the pharmacy were patient and helpful, as were the ones we spoke with on the phone.     
On a side note, I hope all the Pioneer Woman fans caught her new show on the Food Network last Saturday.  Cliff watched and enjoyed it with me; he really likes Ree.  I know she has her detractors, but Cliff and I are diehard fans.  She comes across, we think, as REAL.  We love the ranch scenes incorporated into the show, too.  Sure she's rich.  She deserves it.  I hope she gets even richer.  
So there.

Adventures in milking

As I mentioned in my last post, I am really getting sick and tired of Max, the calf, not taking more of Bonnie's milk.  I took it upon myself when he was nursing to get on the other side of the cow so he wasn't bothered by my presence, peek under her belly, and watch him nurse.  At one point I reached across under the cow and hid his favorite teat, a front one.  He keeps that one very well emptied, and only takes a little from the back quarters.  If I took away the front teat, he would move on to the back one on that side; however, I could tell that his nostrils were blocked by Bonnie's capacious udder when he was partaking of that back teat, making it a little difficult for him to breathe.  Not impossible, just slightly difficult.  So he's been choosing the easy route.
Hmmm; what to do, what to do.  
Since I've been having to milk every morning anyhow, I decided to put Max in the stall overnight.  That way I can milk from the cow's right side and he can have what's on her left.  I've done this with Bonnie's previous calves when I needed milk.  This plan, I thought, would help Stupid Max come to a realization that the milk in the back is every bit as good as the milk in the front, and maybe he'll soon become an equal opportunity sucker.  
I awoke this morning to a bovine chorus which, loosely translated, is this:  "Mommy, I'm dying of starvation!"  "My baby, my baby, I want to feed you and I can't get in there with you!"  All this repeated ad nauseam, resonating clearly through my open bedroom window.  
I got out of bed, quickly drank a cup of coffee, grabbed my bucket, and went to the barn.  
It was no trick getting Bonnie in the barn and in her stanchion; after all, there's food there.  Once I had her secured I went out and slid the stall door open, turning Max loose.  Now all he had to do was take two or three steps, see his mother through the open door of the barn, join her, and latch on.  
He did step through once, but promptly left, bawling his head off.
This made Bonnie nervous, and she stomped around some and mooed an answer to her baby.  He answered back, but didn't come near the open door.  
When a cow gets nervous, she poops and pees.  A lot, and often.  So there I was snatching my bucket up and dodging excrement and urine every minute or so, pitchforking out the manure so I didn't have to have my bare feet in it as I milked, and resuming the milking procedure when the coast seemed clear.  A couple of times I set the bucket on a stool and went out to try and guide the calf into the barn with his mother, to no avail.  Finally, when I was almost done milking the two teats on my side, Max entered and I shut the door so he couldn't leave.  And at long last, he discovered the breakfast bar.  
I noticed that when he's really hungry, he doesn't care which teat he sucks on.  
I'll repeat this whole procedure every morning until Max starts emptying the cow's udder on his own.  I plan to make cheese with the two gallons of milk I brought in today.  Last time I attempted making cheddar cheese, it turned out to be crumbly, similar to feta cheese.  It's delicious, and we're using it in salads.  I hope my efforts this time actually produce something like cheddar, but I won't be unhappy with more feta-type cheese.  
Oh , due to the fact that I was outside before daylight, I heard something I had not heard in ages:  Coyotes were howling!  In the old days when I milked several cows and bottle-fed calves twice a day, I often did the chores in the predawn hours, and most mornings I'd hear coyotes yipping and howling.  I had forgotten how they raise cain when they hear a train whistle.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How my day went

I mentioned to Cliff last night that I'd like to go for a motorcycle ride.  
This morning I woke up and realized there was a load of laundry that seriously needed to be washed and hung on the line.  So I filled up the washing machine early on.  
Cliff got up and we ate breakfast (Cream of Wheat).  While he enjoyed his third cup of coffee, I did my therapy exercises.  As I was doing the last couple of them, Cliff got on the exercise bike for his daily five minutes; we're hoping that will be a good "warmup" before we walk, and perhaps his back will benefit.  
Then he accompanied me to the clothesline and helped me hang some wet clothes, and we walked.  
Now, I'm a little bit disgruntled that Bonnie's calf isn't taking more of her milk.  Her two previous calves were taking every drop by this age.  I want to be able to leave home for a few days, and until that calf takes more milk, we can't go anywhere.  It reminds me of something I saw on a sign in front of a church recently:  "If you want to see God laugh, show Him your plans."  
He must really be having a good laugh right about now.  We had all sorts of travel plans that have been put on hold.  
Cliff asked this morning where I wanted to ride, and I told him I really didn't care.  He suggested we visit a cousin of mine about twenty miles from here, and I told him that wasn't a long enough ride.  But then he started giving me other options, and when he mentioned Marshall, Missouri, I agreed.  It takes you through lovely farm country on roads that aren't too busy.  Because Cliff shared some of his junk money with me the other day, I told him we were going to use some of the funds in the "fun" envelope and eat out.  I figured there'd be plenty of places to eat in Marshall.  
When we got there, we did see several places:  Pizza Hut (no thanks, the only Pizza Hut we like is in Higginsville); Subway; Taco Bell; and a few others.  But, as I told Cliff, "None of these are ringing my bell.  Let's just save money and eat at McDonald's."  
That's what we ended up doing, to the tune of $4.25.  We ate off the dollar menu.   Two McDoubles, one small order of fries, two apple pies.  Water was our beverage of choice.  I mentioned to Cliff that the 25 cents tax was less than I expected.  
On the way home we stopped at our favorite orchard and bought a few peaches.  In Lexington, we went by the library and I got a library card in my name:  now I have both mine and Cliff's cards with which to check out e-books.  
I noticed it was after 2 o'clock, so I asked Cliff to go by Sonic; Happy Hour was on, and I wanted a large diet cherry limeade... Route 44 size, $1.  However, the tax was thirty-five cents, and Cliff insists on tipping those girls who deliver the order.  So it actually cost $2; had I known that was going to happen, I would have passed on the happy hour thing.  If only Lexington Sonic had a drive-through window!  Oh, and there's supposed to be a maraschino cherry at the bottom of the limeade; there was none in my drink.  I was ROBBED!
Cliff filled up with gas and we headed home (long way around because of road work, but I had my drink to help pass the time).  
It was a nice little getaway, so I'm going to forget about the $2 limeade WITH NO CHERRY AT THE BOTTOM.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Comments


6 Comments

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Blogger Sonya said...
Oh I would be so stressed if I had to read a book in two weeks. lol Sounds fun though. I don't know what swagbucks is but I've seen people posting they got them on FB. Ya'll have a good Sunday. We are getting ready for church (the new one) and leave within the hour. I'm goofing off for 30 minutes. lol
5:34 AM
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Blogger Angela said...
I like the library feature, too, but one thing that always gets me is that when a book I've been on hold for comes available, it always seems like I'M not available to read it. Putting that 2-week limit on something I have to read right then takes the enjoyment out of the whole process. Having said that, though, I absolutely love that little nook.
6:09 AM
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Blogger Carolg said...
What are Swagbucks? Sorry but thats something I've never heard of before, I don't think we have them in Europe. Carol
6:13 AM
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Blogger I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...
For the most part I've enjoyed the free books on my Kindle. I love the fact that I no longer have stacks of books laying around the house. I read so much that over the years I'm sure I could start my own library. Glad you are enjoying the nook. Either one is a great investment. Hope your Sunday is a wonderful one.
6:47 AM
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Anonymous Lindie said...
Do you check in with your Nook on Fridays for their free book? I have several from that.
6:51 AM
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Blogger darev2005 said...
Still haven't gotten the hang of reading e-books. Bothers my eyes something fierce. Maybe when i get new glasses next year it will be better.  
Dave, you may have tried a backlit reader, which is hard on the eyes just like a computer monitor is.  The basic Nook reads exactly like a real book; you have to have a light turned on (or daylight) to read it.  
Lindie, most of the free books on Fridays don't seem to be anything I would read, although I have read a couple of the freebies. I wish I had gotten one last Friday that Angela mentioned on Facebook; she said it was a good one.  
CarolG and Sonya, if you go to swagbucks.com you can open an account and then use the Swagbucks search engine rather than Google.  As you do searches, every once in awhile you will be informed that you are given some swagbucks.  You can exchange the swagbucks for e-gift cards to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble or Paypal, then use them online.  Any time I accumulate 1,200, I buy an e-book for my Nook at Barnes and Noble.  I don't think it would matter what part of the world you live in, since it's all done online.   I first learned about Swagbucks when I noticed one of my regular readers came to my blog every day via Swagbucks.  I googled Swagbucks and also asked in my blog for information about it.  It isn't as good a search engine as Google, but most of the time it will get you what you want.  There's no gimmick, really, except that you might see some advertising at the top of the search page.  If you use a search engine, you may as well be getting paid for it.  I love freebies.  

I'm still loving my Nook e-reader

Barnes and Noble has come up with a new-and-improved Nook, but I'm very happy with the one I have; I hope it keeps on ticking for years.  
I don't spend money on books; for the most part I read library books checked out here at home.  The only way I "buy" a book is when I use the Swagbucks I've earned doing Internet searches, and of course, that costs me nothing.  At present I have 860 swagbucks; when I have 1,200, I'll be able to purchase an e-book from Barnes and Noble.  When I get a book in this manner, I try to make sure it's one I really want and might want to re-read someday, because it will be on my Nook forever if I so desire.
One drawback to checking out library books for an e-reader is that there's a waiting list for popular books, sometimes a very long one.  For instance, "The Help":  I put a hold on it weeks ago; I'm now number 5 on a list of 103 people.  Wow!   
Another drawback to checking out library e-books is that you can only have four books on hold at one time, but I'm about to take care of that problem.  When we went to get a library card, I told the lady that we didn't two cards; so we got a card in Cliff's name.  Next chance I get, I will also get a card in my own name.  That will make a way for me to have eight books on hold at one time.  This wouldn't be necessary if it weren't for the lengthy waiting lists.  
Right now I'm number one on the lists for "The Lincoln Lawyer" and "A Big Little Life", so there's a good chance I'll have two books to read at once; but of course, I have to have them read in two weeks' time, because after that time the books magically return themselves to the library!  


I just finished "Up From The Blue" and couldn't put it down.  I love reading a book that makes me want to keep on reading until I reach the end!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Here's why I never get anything done

Three entries on one day?  I know!!!
Cliff and I went for our walk this morning; as we got back to the house, he remarked that Jody's halter (Jody is my four-month-old heifer) looked like it was a little snug.  
"I don't think so," I told him.  
We entered the house and I said, "OK, I have to get those morning dishes done; they've set there long enough."  
And I headed toward the kitchen.  As I passed the trash can, I noticed a strong odor wafting therefrom and set the trash can on the porch to be taken care of after the dishes were done. 
Back in the kitchen, I noticed Iris' dish had no food in it, so I went to the back porch and returned with a scoopful of food.  Just as I was about to dump it in the bowl, I saw that the water in the other side of the bowl looked a little murky; no wonder she's been drinking from the bathroom stool.  
So I set down the scoop of dog food, took the dish to the sink, and scrubbed both sides thoroughly.  Then I filled the food side and went to get non-softened water, which we get from an outside hydrant and keep in the refrigerator in a jug.  The jug was almost empty.
I took it outside to the hydrant and filled it.  On the way back, I looked at Jody and decided perhaps Cliff was right about her halter; it did look a little tight.  Setting the filled water jug on the back steps, I went into Jody's pen and loosened her halter by one notch.  I'm glad I listened to Cliff.  
When I turned Jody loose, she ran to her feed trough, just her subtle way of letting me know it was empty.  I went to the garage and got her a can full of feed.  When I dumped it in the trough, I noticed she was covered with flies, so I went up on the back porch and got the fly spray.  That got rid of the pesky flies, if only for a short time.  I picked up the full water jug on the steps and went into the kitchen.  
"Finally I will get to the dishes," I thought.  
I started running the water, but there was the used paper milk filter in the sink.  I carried it to where the trash can should have been, but of course it was still on the porch.  I went out, pulled the full trash bag out of it, and brought in the empty trash can.  Of course I got a fresh bag and lined it with that, then tossed the used milk filter in.  
Back at the sink I turned on the faucet, squirted in a little dish detergent, and thought to myself, "This would make a pretty good blog entry."  
I left the dishes soaking and came here to tell my story.  
Can anyone relate?  
OK, I'm going to wash my dishes, which ought to be well-soaked by now. 

This computer desk sure is dusty; I'd better do something about that while it's on my mind, or I'll forget.
Hold the phone!!!!  Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, is on Paula Deen!  The dishes can wait, and so can the dust.

I'm going to be rich!!!!!


I can't believe anybody falls for these schemes, but I've seen television shows where they interviewed folks who lost everything they owned because they fell for the scam.

I am Mrs. E. Hassan , I am suffering from 
cancerous ailment,When my late husband was 
alive he deposited the sum of 10.8 Million Great 
Britain Pounds Sterling which was derived from 
his vast estates an investment in capital 
market  with his bank here in UK. Presently, this 
money is still with the Bank. Recently, my Doctor 
told me that I have limited days to live due to 
the cancerous problems I am suffering from. 
Though what bothers me most  is the stroke 
that I have in addition to the cancer. With this 
hard reality that has befallen my family, and me 
I have decided to donate this fund to you and 
want you to use this gift which comes from my 
husbands effort to fund the upkeep of widows, 
widowers, orphans, destitute, the down- trodden, 
physically challenged children, barren-women 
and persons who prove to be genuinely 
handicapped financially.

 It goes to show that you have been destined to 
be great and I implore you to be as honest as 
possible in this dealing as the spirit of my late 
husband will be with you always and will also 
bless you for your effort in seeing that persons 
are brought out of their predicament.It is often 
said that blessed is the hand that gives. I took 
this decision because I do not have any child 
that will inherit this money and my husband 
relatives are bourgeois and very wealthy 
persons and I do not want my husband
hard earned money to be misused or invested into ill 
perceived ventures. I do not want a situation 
where this money will be used in an ungodly 
manner, hence the reason for taking this bold 
decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know 
where I am going. I know that I am going to be 
with the Almighty when I eventually pass on. 
The Almighty will fight my case and I shall hold 
my peace. I do not need any telephone 
communication in this regard due to my 
deteriorating health and because of the 
presence of my husbands relatives around me. 
I do not want them to know about this 
development. With God all things are possible. 
With the help of my lawyer I will also issue you 
a Letter of Authority that will empower you as 
the original beneficiary of this fund. My 
happiness is that I lived a life worthy of 
emulation. Please always be prayerful all 
through your life. Please assure me that you will 
act just as I have stated herein. Hope to hear 
from you soon and God bless you and members 
of your family.
 
I have discuss this matter with my Lawyer, he is 
going to work with the Bank and secure this 
funds from the UK Bank where it is been kept 
for safe custody in a very proper and legal 
manners and he will make the arrangement with 
the Bank in your name, as the new beneficiary 
of the fund and also my next of kin, to move 
the fund from England to meet you in your 
country with your data.  However, be informed 
that all the expenses attached to your 
documentations, paper work or attorney fee will 
be taken care of by me. Therefore, you do not 
need to pay my attorney any dime whatsoever. 
 
My Attorney is Barrister J. Robinson. Do email 
him at once and let him commence with the 
transfer modalities, his email address is: 
(email and telephone number deleted just in case somebody were to take this guy seriously.)
 
 but note that you must ensure that this is not 
disclosed to anybody until the money has been 
successfully transferred to you because of 
security reasons on my side. As for how I got 
your email, it was gotten after a proper white 
page search via your area zip code with the help 
of the lord leading me.You are implored to use 
this funds for the less-privileged, widows, and 
orphans, destitute and indigent persons in the 
society. Please, do your best to see that the 
dreams of my husband Sir Hassan of blessed 
memory and my dream is fulfilled and make 
sure this is kept confidential  until the transfer is 
completed and the good works of charity 
commence, as you are the only one contacted 
for this and aware of this too.

Too much month at the end of the money

I hadn't held down my first job very long before I discovered that certain months have an extra payday.  It happens four times annually if you are paid by the week, and it's truly a wonderful thing.  Here's how I always paid my bills:  Make a note on the calendar of the amount of the bill, on the Friday closest to its due date (or sooner, if there are too many bills due near the same time).  On payday, check the calendar and pay the bills written on that day.  It must have worked, as we have kept a spotless credit record through the years.  Anyway, on those months with a fifth payday, we could buy some clothes or fill our propane tank or pay property taxes or eat out.  Sometimes we'd just blow some of it.  (We hadn't heard of Dave Ramsey yet, so we never gave a thought to saving any of it.) 
Oh, how I miss the extra payday!  With Social Security, we are paid by the month, and that means the extra payday works against us!  


(ignore the little notes on the I-calendar; I do.)

 Cliff is paid on the third Wednesday of each month.  That means there are five weeks between our "paydays" this time.  There's one extra Friday in September, but no extra money allotted.  What a disappointment!  We're going five weeks between "paydays".  
I told Cliff I was going to be buying as few groceries as possible, and explained that I had to make our money stretch farther this month.  The two envelopes that seemed to be suffering the most were the "grocery" one and the "fun" one.  This is not good, since I am chomping at the bit to go on a little trip on the motorcycle.  Or a big trip.  Cliff is ready too, although with the state of his back lately, I'm not sure we'll be going anywhere.  But I digress.
The calf is taking more milk all the time, and any day now the cow is liable to come to the barn with a nearly-empty udder.  Once that happens, we can leave any time we like.  But not, of course, if our "fun" and "grocery" envelopes are depleted. 
A couple of days ago, Cliff spent time at our "junk pile" down at the ditch, loading things like an old tractor frame; heavy, obsolete farming equipment and parts; old washing machines and dryers; and other metal objects onto two trailers.  Yesterday he had the oldest grandson come over with his pickup and hook up to the heaviest one; he hitched the other trailer to our Mercury.  


I rode in the car with Cliff and took this picture of the junk Arick was hauling.  I only went along for the ride; I figured the money was going into Cliff's tractor fund, and I didn't really think there would be all that much money anyhow.  
Turns out they gave him a check for over $700.
"Wow," I drooled, "that's going to fatten up your tractor fund pretty good!"  
"Yeah," he said, "or any other fund."  
When we went by the drive-up window of the bank, Cliff cashed the check and handed me $200.  
"Do what you want with this," he told me.  
He also gave the grandson gas money.  
Whoa!!!  
I put one hundred dollars in the grocery envelope and one hundred in the fun envelope.  Problem solved for this month, but the next time this happens, I intend to be better prepared.  I don't think we have all that much junk left to haul off.  
All you working stiffs who get paid weekly or bi-weekly, enjoy those "extra paydays" while you have them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The mystery is solved!

My follower in France left a comment on yesterday's post; here's what she had to say:

Hello - yes, I am your follower in France, actually the satellite does not quite 'pinpoint' me correctly - I live in St Romain sur Cher which is in Centre. However, I am English and found your site via another English blogger that I follow. I really enjoy your daily updates on life in the countryside in USA - We also live in the country surrounded by farmland and animals. Now your mystery is solved and you know who I am. I will try to comment from time to time and will continue to follow your blog.Regards Carol
Carol, don't feel under an obligation to comment.  Compared to how many people read this drivel, it's only a small percentage who comment.  I do thank you, though, for satisfying my curiosity!  I think it's fantastic that we country folks can find common interests even though we are widely separated by geography.
Speaking of comments, here's one my friend Ora left this morning on Facebook concerning this picture of our guests:  "Is that your little "cabin house" in the background....and those tall trees....are they those pitiful looking little twigs you planted some years ago....?????? wow...I need to plant some like that...what are they called???? hugs all day....and that Pat and Celeste...awesome couple for sure!!!"
Yes Ora, that is my former cabin; perhaps you missed the entry I made about us moving it up here because I never used it any more.  And yes, the trees you speak of are the Lombardy Poplars we planted a short three years ago.  You need to know a few things about them before you plant them, though.  They don't live long, so I imagine in another three years they will start dying at the top.  We knew this when we planted them, but we wanted something temporary until the Norway Spruce got a good start.  In fact, Cliff will probably take them out this winter.  Another thing you need to know is that they send roots far out into your yard and sprouts will start growing.  Here in the country, we had to make sure and put the trees far away from our septic tank and lines, because there can be a problem with that, too.  
We put those trees there to get some privacy from the (ahem) people who lived there; the trees also made a convenient blind where I could hide and watch some of the crazy carryings-on over there.  Yes, I'm that nosy neighbor whose curiosity is aroused when the cops descend on a house next door.  Now the house is deserted, and if I understand things right, it will have to stay deserted for a year before anybody else can buy it from the bank.  The house on the other side of our place is similarly deserted.  One thing about it, the neighborhood is much quieter these days.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Speaking of visitors...

There is someone who regularly visits this blog who lives in France.  You can see the statistics on this screenshot I took.  

Ever day the person comes here from a link at THIS BLOG, which I have followed since the old AOL Journal days.   
Hello, France!  Feel free to comment here, any old time.  

Visitors

When Celeste called Tuesday evening to say they wouldn't be here until Wednesday, I told her to let me know when they left Moberly, Missouri, the town where they had camped out for the night.  So yesterday when she called as instructed, I told her we would ride toward them on 24 highway and meet them at Casey's General Store in Carrollton; I thought it was right on 24.  I told her if there was any problem hooking up to call us.  
"Trying to meet someone like that never works out," Cliff told me.  "Somebody ends up waiting on the others forever, or something goes wrong.  Are you sure there's a Casey's in Carrolton?"  
"What could go wrong?" I asked.
Silly me.  I forgot that half the roads in Missouri are "under improvement".  Just as we got to the edge of Carrolton we were re-routed onto a detour.
Then after asking a resident, I found out Casey's wasn't on 24 anyhow.  It's on 65.  
Thank goodness Celeste follows orders well.  She called and we met at a BP station; there they were with their motorcycles.  All's well that ends well, and we escorted them, through all the detours, to our house.  
  This is the only shot I have of them so far.  Hopefully I'll remember to take a picture of them before they hit the road for Reno, Nevada, today.  
I fixed them enchilada casserole for lunch and cheeseburgers for supper; Celeste asked, "Who are we eating?" and I told her it was Sir Loin.  
For desserts we had bread pudding and peanut butter cookies.  Since I never make these things for me and Cliff, my husband was a pretty happy camper.  "I don't know when you've made cookies," he said, munching away.    This morning we'll  have biscuits and gravy, another rare treat around here; that should adequately get the travelers through the first part of the day, a day that is predicted to be considerably cooler than the 99 degrees of yesterday.  
We saw an article in the Gold Wing magazine once about a group of motorcyclists you can join where you host other travelers as they pass through your area, giving them bed-and-breakfast for the night; they, in turn, will take you in when you're near them.  It seemed like a great idea until I saw pictures of some of the residences:  These were well-moneyed folks with mansion-like residences where this crass hillbilly would never be comfortable, and I couldn't even imagine them spending the night in our mobile home; so we thought no more about it.  
However, I have followed Celeste on her blog and on Facebook long enough that I knew I would be comfortable with them staying at my house.  So this is working out just fine.  Maybe we should start our own bed-and-breakfast group for ordinary, not-so-rich people.    

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Like my new header picture?

I got tired of looking at the picture of a very pregnant Bonnie.  After all, she has that big old baby who is two weeks old today.  Max has learned a lot in his short life.  He and his mother seem to avoid the side of the ditch where he fell in over a week ago, so they've both learned something on that score.  Max already knows what happens when he touches an electric fence, so he stays on the proper side of them.  He does hang out with Jody a lot, as closely as he dares with an electric fence between them.  


Max is taking more milk all the time.  Originally I was bringing in two gallons of milk every morning; it's now down to one gallon, and I figure within another week I won't have to milk at all unless we need some milk.  That means we won't be so tied down at home and can go places and do things.  
Our friends did not make it here yesterday evening.  I talked to Celeste on the phone before bedtime, and she said between the breakdown with her bike and the extreme heat (99 degrees), she couldn't go on any further, so they camped.  I expect to see them some time today.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Random

In our efforts to cut spending, Cliff and I went to Aldi's today.  Now, I'm not all that familiar with the place, but I've been in there enough to know their stuff is cheaper than Walmart's house brands.  We got a lot of stuff and spent only $41.  
However.
Because their coffee is half the price of what I usually buy, I decided to try it.  Don't do that; it isn't good.  It doesn't even have that wonderful coffee smell you expect when you open the can.  However, there's a fairly worthless store in Lexington called "Save-a-Lot" that has wonderful coffee.  I don't know what the price is like, but I know it's cheaper than the 8 O'clock coffee I love so much, and it's almost as good.  I tasted it when we were visiting Cliff's cousin, Edna.  
We used to get name-brand bread.  Since Cliff retired, I've been buying Walmart's brand.  Today I bought a loaf of bread at Aldi's; it will be the last bread I buy there; it seemed like week-old bread.  Now, we don't use a lot of bread, so we keep it in the freezer and I get out what we need for immediate use.  But I don't like putting stale bread in the freezer!  
Speaking of saving money:  In spite of the record-high temperatures all through the month of July, our electric bills have gone down.  Yippee!  I'm only doing two things differently:  I seldom use the dishwasher, and I hang clothes on the line whenever possible rather than using the electric dryer.  
Cliff and I are expecting friends this evening.  Celeste and Pat, from Georgia, are riding their motorcycles across country, and they plan to spend tonight here.  I became acquainted with Celeste through her blog on AOL Journals, and one time on the way home from visiting our son in Georgia, we met the couple briefly.  Celeste seldom blogs these days, but we are Facebook friends.  Celeste had a broken clutch cable on her bike about the same time they crossed into Missouri, so that will delay their arrival somewhat.  They are, however, on the road again.
I visited my orthopedist today for a followup, just to make sure things are going OK.  X-rays looked fine, she said.  I told her my knee still swells often, but that it doesn't hinder me from doing anything I want to do.  I'll see her again in six months.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

The hoist project is finished.

Recently I shared pictures of Cliff erecting a structure intended to support the bargain-priced hoist he bought last spring at a swap-meet.  It needed some work, but Cliff got it working in no time.  
My daughter happened to be here to take a picture the day Cliff actually got the hoist raised to its intended spot.


That plastic barrel is to house the hoist when it isn't in use and protect it from the elements.  


Here you see Cliff putting the hoist to use.  When he's done using it, he'll slide it back into its little barrel-house.  
By the way, Cliff never wore shorts until he was past fifty; then we started walking for exercise, and I convinced him he'd be much cooler if he'd wear shorts.  For a period of two or three years, he did wear them; then he gained weight, they no longer fit him, and he stopped wearing shorts again.  
This year, with one-hundred-degree temperatures for so long, he decided to be brave and buy some shorts.  He's still uncomfortable wearing them in public; he says he feels silly having people see him like that.  I guess that's because he never wore them for so much of his life.  Nowadays unless he's doing something outside or in the shop (weed-eating, welding) that dictate his legs be covered, if it's hot, he's wearing shorts.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm a cattle baroness.

Jody, on the left, is almost four months old.  She's been weaned awhile and is eating lots of grain.  The halter is on her because I am teaching her to lead.  Actually, she seems to have been born knowing how to lead.  Most calves, when you start trying to get them to follow you, will balk and refuse to move; some will even "sull up" as Cliff calls it, and fall on the ground with their eyes rolled back in their heads looking dead as a doornail.  (Strange expression, that.)
But Jody only put up a struggle the first time I had a rope on her; since then, she has followed me anywhere I lead her.  She does think it's fun to butt me, but I smack her with the end of the rope when she does that; she'll learn.  Once the fly season is over, we'll have the vet out to remove her horns, vaccinate her for whatever he thinks is wise, and remove an extra teat.  Yes, she has five.  It likely wouldn't produce anything, but I want it gone.  
I bought Jody because Bonnie, the cow in the background, refuses to give me a heifer calf.  
Bonnie was perfect when we bought her, but at this point she is battle-scarred:  Last year she got mastitis in two quarters, and one of those quarters quit producing entirely.  This year the other quarter with mastitis is, for now, giving good milk.  But once a cow has had mastitis in a quarter, you can bet it will show up again at some point.  Bonnie also has a displaced hip, which causes her to limp somewhat.  This problem was caused either by giving birth to those gigantic calves she always has, or else by one of those huge bulls she has to support when she's being bred.  Anyhow, she's had this slight limp for at least two years.  Cliff hadn't noticed it until I called his attention to it this year.   
Because so many things can go wrong with a milk cow, I wanted a backup, so I bought Jody.  She isn't pure Jersey, but she'll do in a pinch.  
Right now Bonnie is keeping us tied down at home because her calf still isn't able to take all her milk.  So I'm milking every morning.  Hope is in sight, though; today I got less milk than I have been bringing in (or pouring out).  Max's appetite must be increasing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Enola Gay

Let me preface this entry by saying that I believe Harry Truman had no choice but to give the order to drop the bombs on Japan.  That's my opinion; we are all entitled to an opinion.  Those people intended to annihilate all of us or die trying.
Now I'll get on with my story.
I usually go to sleep listening to my Pandora radio.  I've created four stations, but I usually listen to the folk station.  Every once in awhile I'd hear someone I believed was Pete Seeger singing a song called "Enola Gay".  It's a war protest song, and it haunted me for weeks.  Finally I did a few searches online and found out it wasn't Pete Seeger at all; it was some guy named Utah Phillips.  
I do love discovering a new folk singer, even if he's dead by the time I find him.   
Here are the words to the song:


Enola Gay

(Utah Phillips)
Look out, look out from your schoolroom window! 
Look up, young children, from your play! 
Wave your hand at the shining airplane, 
Such a beautiful sight is Enola Gay. 
 High above the clouds in the sunlit silence, 
So peaceful here, I'd like to stay. 
There's many a pilot who'd swap his pension 
For a chance to fly Enola Gay. 

 What is that sound high above my city? 
I rush outside and search the sky. 
Now we are running to find the shelters, 
Hearing sirens start to cry. 
 What will I say when my children ask me, 
Where was I flying up on that day? 
With trembling voice I gave the order 
To the bombardier of Enola Gay. 

 Look out, look out from your schoolroom window; 
Look up, young children, from your play. 
Your bright young eyes will turn to ashes 
In the blinding light of Enola Gay. 
 I turn to see the fireball rising. 
"My God, My God," all I can say. 
I hear a voice within me crying, 
"My mother's name was Enola Gay." 

 Look out, look out from your schoolroom window; 
Look up, young children, from your play. 
Oh, when you see the warplanes flying, 
Each one is named Enola Gay.

But I really wanted to let you hear this Utah Phillips singing his song, and there wasn't any such video on Youtube.  So I made a pathetic attempt at finding pictures of the Hiroshima tragedy, making a slideshow, and adding vocals of the guy singing the song.  Lord only knows how many copyright violations I'm guilty of, but here it is.  If I get tossed in jail, please send me some postcards.

Motorcycle ride

We ignored threats of rain this morning and opted to go to a tractor show in Hamilton, Missouri.  First, though, we stopped in Richmond to check out a car show.  Cliff's brother was supposed to be there with his car; when we didn't find him, Cliff called and found out he had found something more important to do. Here's a slideshow I made of some of the photos taken at Richmond:



There was a fellow there with an interesting collection of spark plugs:


Who would have imagined spark plugs could be so complicated?



pictures on my computer

When I leave my computer for awhile, a slideshow of all the pictures on the hard drive begins, and it keeps going until I come back.  Sometimes I'll just take a seat and watch in awe, looking at pictures I had forgotten ever taking.  This morning I saw a picture taken not so long ago of a couple on their anniversary, holding their cake at an angle so you could see the picture of them atop the cake.  
They're divorced now.  
Or I'll see one of the twins next door helping Cliff several years ago, back when they were little and cute, before they started chasing girls and before one of them had cancer.  
I don't know where to find the pictures on my computer, so I watch until the slideshow moves on to another picture and then stop the show.  
I only wish there were some way to stop the slideshow at a certain point so I could yell, "Hey, Cliff, come and look at this; here's something I hadn't thought of in a long time!"  
But of course, you can't stop it, and there's no way to find the location of the picture.  If I touch the mouse or keyboard, the slideshow is done.  
It's very frustrating.  
We went to Sedalia yesterday, intending to see all the things we missed at the state fair when we went on Monday.  
We should have watched the morning news.  
There had been 100-mile-per-hour winds, blowing down tents and shutting off the electricity to much of the city.  We noticed lots of billboards down as we approached the town, and then saw that many of the stoplights weren't working.  We weren't allowed onto the fairgrounds, so we went to a city park, ate our picnic lunch, and came back home.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

considering the inevitable

Patsy reminded me in a comment on the last post that if either Cliff or I move on to the golden streets, household income will decrease considerably.  
Indeed it will, and when that happens, whoever remains will be making some fast changes.  
My Social Security makes the house payment, pays the water softener bill, and puts some money in savings for emergencies.  There's no way this household will remain solvent without it.  
As I have said many times, I would have a sale of farm equipment and tools, and sell the place; I think even in this depressed market the place would bring what is owed against it; but if not, I could just abandon it to the bank like a couple of neighbors have done with their places recently.  I would then move to an apartment in a town or city with sidewalks and a city bus service.  
I don't really know what Cliff's plan of action is, or whether he has one.  I do know his boss told him, when he retired, "If you ever need a job, come on back."  
That job is one that he could still do at the age of ninety, as long as his mind was good.    
It's a bridge that one of us will cross when the time comes.  
For now, everything is working.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One month on Social Security

We stayed on budget for our first month on Cliff's Social Security, but I have tweaked it a little for the coming month.  
$280 for groceries for a month is plenty for us (we have beef in the freezer, remember, and milk from Bonnie... and we don't do convenience foods).  However, I'm used to having our budgeted funds divided into weekly periods, $70 per week.  So the first week I spent $70 just because that's what I always have to spend.  Second week, I didn't spend $70, so I used a portion of that money to eat out.  It was as though I simply had to spend that amount each week.  By last week, there wasn't much left in the envelope and I had to cut my grocery list to stay under budget.  
So now my goal is to see how much less than $70 I can spend each week, and hopefully we can have a little guilt-free fun with what's left on the last week of our pay period.  
I plan to get to know Aldi better.
I like getting our regular prescriptions at Walmart, but because our Medicare Plus wants us to buy our prescriptions online, they only let us purchase one month's pills at a time locally.  If we lived in town near Walmart or Target or any big drug chain, it wouldn't be a big deal.  Since we're fifteen miles from such places, it's pretty aggravating.  Next month when Cliff has his regular doctor visit, we'll have the doctor write new prescriptions, and we'll start getting them by mail, three months supply at once.  It's cheaper that way, anyhow.  I just always preferred to pick them up in person.  At some point before the end of the year, Lipitor goes generic, which will save us some bucks.  
I've allotted a litte more money for the "fun" envelope, and also for the "misc." envelope.  Let's face it, I had to use my stash of quarter rolls to go to the state fair.  I have no quarters left, and I do want to be able to do something fun once in awhile.  When Cliff was working, all these extras came out of his pocket.  Now his allowance isn't big enough to support the frivolous things in life.  What little he gets is his, and when I stay out of it, it seems to be plenty. 
My worst shock was the cost of fuel, which , it turns out, comes to over $400 a month.  It isn't that we travel a lot; it's the diesel and gasoline for the tractors that makes the bill so huge.  That should start to get better as mowing season ends, but meanwhile I was $100 low on my estimate of how much we'd be paying for fuel for all the vehicles.  
The budgeted amount for doctors and prescriptions, pets and critters, and clothing seems to be on target.  I won't have to mess with those envelopes at all (knock wood). 
I realize inflation is going to make this game harder down the road, but for now, I seem to have the pesky budget under control.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A couple of poems

For Michaela, who wanted me to share a couple of poems I've written.  These are both from 1993.


THE INDIANS KNEW
Donna Wood
No one can really own the land: the Indians knew it best,
And laughed to see the settlers, as they moved from east to west;
They'd watch them build their homes and clear the land till it was bare
While birds flew in unhindered, for no man can fence the air!

No one can ever own the land: the Indians had it right;
You may as well hold back the sun, or parcel out its light.
Though fence surrounds a property, it will not stop the deer
From moving freely to and fro, at different times of year.

No one can truly own the land. The Indians knew it well.
Yes, you may write up deeds, and even boldly buy and sell,
But talk to all the earthworms and the garter snakes and moles:
Tell them the land is yours, and tell them where to dig their holes.

Enclose your precious property and hoard each blade of grass;
Post signs that warn, "No Trespassing", but they will never last!
This earth belongs to everyone who ever drew a breath,
And someone else will claim it when you close your eyes in death.

I seem to hear the Indians, in my spirit, laughing still.
The white man claims to own the land, each valley and each hill;
He plows and discs and harrows it, and sows his precious seed---
But after he's asleep at night, the deer and rabbits feed!


FROM A SERMON BY ROBERT SCHULLER
 Donna Wood

An oriental peasant in a far-off, ancient land
Had neither monetary wealth, nor slaves at his command.
He owned one horse, while all his friends and relatives had none:
That was his wealth --- that, and his handsome, healthy teenaged son.
Unexpectedly, his horse broke loose and ran away;
They vainly searched for him, and neighbors gathered 'round to say,
"What bad luck, for our friend to lose the only horse he had!"
The old man stroked his beard and murmured, "How do you know it's bad?"

Time went by, till one day thundering hoof-beats filled the air;
The horse came home: behind him, he led twelve unbranded mares.
"Ah, good luck's come your way again," said all those loyal friends.
"How do you know it's good," the man responded, with a grin.
The horses needed breaking, to be any good at all.
As his son rode a bucking mare, his leg broke in a fall.
The neighbors said, "What bad luck to befall this handsome lad.
The old man stroked his beard and answered, "How do you know it's bad?"

A war broke out, and all the youths in every little town
Were sent to fight oppressors on a bloody battleground.
One youth was left behind because he couldn't stand, or run.
I'm sure you've guessed it: that one youth was our old peasant's son!
You see, what looks like bad luck may be good luck, in the end;
Sometimes a loss is just another chance to start again!
So when misfortune comes along, try hard to not be sad:
Perhaps bad luck? But wait a minute --- how do you know it's bad?


From Poetry to Prose

I used to write a lot of poems; I don't, anymore.  There was a time I wrote a poem almost every day and sent each one out to a list of folks who wanted to be included on my "poem list".  Many times I'd sit down at the keyboard without any idea what I was going to write about, and sometimes those turned into some of my best poems.  
Every once in awhile, I'll meet up with someone at church or while shopping (or even on the Internet) who will ask if I'm still writing poems (or songs).  I tell them no, and they seem disappointed.  
Until now, I had not stopped to think about why I stopped writing my poems.  Today I only had to think about it for five minutes before I realized what happened:
Blogging took the place of my poems.  It's so much easier, not having to figure out a way to say something and make it rhyme.  
Oh yes, my poems do rhyme.  I never was a fan of free verse.  I like the old nursery rhyme rhythms, the lyrics of the old standard songs, the words of songs in the church hymnals, the honky-tonk songs from the seventies:  my very heart beats in time with such words.  
I'm the first to admit that a large percentage of the poems I wrote were mediocre at best, and some of them were just plain awful.  And yet, sometimes I'll look through a box of typed-off poems I wrote years ago, find one I don't even remember writing and think to myself, "Wow, that's pretty good!"   
But for the time being, blogging satisfies me.  The only thing I really miss about the poems is that I could put more personal feelings into the rhymes and disguise the facts slightly; although the readers might sense my unrest or dissatisfaction, they couldn't figure out exactly what it was (or who) I was talking about.  In this blog, I share nothing personal.  
Perhaps you thought my discussing UTI's or breast reduction was about as personal as it gets, but no.  Those are simply discussions about this aging body.  It's my opinions about others that I try to hold in.   I try very hard not to talk negatively about neighbors.  That's getting easier, since both of our next-door neighbors deserted their homes.  
When we had the renters living in the old trailer that's gone, it was really hard not to rant about some of their craziness:  We rented a place to four people and ended up with eight living there half the time; that's a problem because there's an old, tired pump supplying water to all residences on this place, and a crowd like that really puts a strain on it.  Of course, we'd be the ones footing the bill for a new pump, so I suppose it didn't matter to anybody else, although if they had been without water for a few days, I'm sure they would have hollered.  We agreed to let the renters have one dog, and next thing you know there were two.     
I've learned that's the way it goes with renters.  Give them an inch, they'll take a mile, without even a thank you.    
Perhaps I should start writing just enough poems to get the taboo subjects off my chest.  But I think I've gotten too lazy to put forth that much effort.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Animals know where to go for help

Although it's happened many times in my life, it always surprises me when an animal comes to me and lets me know there's a problem they can't solve alone.  If you've been around animals much, you've experienced this, I'm sure.  It's very touching, and in some ways, I consider it an honor.  
Dogs seem to know they should go to their masters when they're hurt or ailing.  Even cats, independent as they are, know when they're in need.  
When I was fully nine months pregnant with my son, there was a very wild cat in the barn on my parent's place where we were renting a mobile home.  She had new kittens, and I went out and looked at them sometimes.  Mother Cat, of course, jumped out of the nest and kept her distance.  
The second day I went out to see the kittens, a tomcat was in the middle of killing one of them.  I was frantic with worry over this situation, and I took the three remaining kittens into the house.  The mother followed me at a distance; I opened the door, got back from it and laid the kittens on the floor where she could see them, and she came on in.  I then spread a blanket on the couch and put the kittens there; Mother Cat jumped up and started nursing them.  
I was already past the due date for my baby to be born, and I realized I was going to soon be in the hospital for three days, and when I got home, I'd have my hands full with a baby; I hoped against hope the tomcat wouldn't come back again, and took the babies back to the barn that evening.  
The next morning I opened the door to go outside and there was Momma Cat with two babies:  she had carried them to me, to be taken care of.  I told her I was sorry, that I just couldn't do it, and took them back to the barn.  We had started with four kittens; now there were two.  
Before the day was over, the tomcat murdered the other two kittens, and in my pregnant, hormonal, emotional state, I cried for hours.  That cat asked me for help and I had denied her.
  
Several years ago we had a couple of Limousin cows.  They were huge, beautiful cows, and they had lovely, big babies.  However, I quickly found out they didn't want me messing with their calves.  One of them had twins in 2004, and while the calves were newborn and easy to handle, I wanted to check and see whether they were male or female.  That cow butted me down a hill fast enough to make my head spin.  Not long ago I related this tale to a local farmer; he said his daughter raised some Limousin heifers for 4H, trained them to lead and showed them at fairs.  They were absolute pets, he told me.  "But you couldn't think about getting close to their calves."
Well, mine weren't pets.  I'm not even sure they liked me.  
However, when one Limousin cow's calf figured out how to get through the fence to the neighboring property and she couldn't follow, that cow bawled and bellowed until she got my attention, then followed me back to the house until I got some help.  You can read the story in my old journal HERE.  
So it was no surprise to me yesterday that Bonnie left her calf and came bawling to me; neither was it a surprise when I started walking toward the back pasture and she took the lead and led me straight to her baby.  Animals know where to turn when they have no other place to go.  
That's more than I can say for a lot of humans.  
"This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles."  Psalm 34:6