Friday, September 30, 2011

Stupid calf

A week ago, I thought Max, the calf, was finally able to consume all his mother's milk.  Every. drop. of. it.  I rejoiced, because when he reaches that point we can leave home and not worry about Bonnie getting mastitis from an engorged udder.  
For two days I didn't have to milk her.  
Then I had to start milking again, because each morning she'd show up with two quarters that were so filled with milk they were solid to the touch.  I had gotten my hopes up for nothing.  
Yesterday morning I saw that the two quarters on her right side... the side I milk... were full and ready to be milked.  I put feed in the stanchion, opened the door, pinned it back so it would stay open, and began to milk.  Pretty soon Max came through the open door.  He always does this, and I let him nose around the barn while I'm milking.  It keeps him easy to handle, and comfortable with my presence.  Because one day, you know, we'll load him and take him to the butcher, and I'd like it to be easy when we load him up.  
This time, he went to Bonnie's left side and starting nursing.  That's the side he'd already sucked dry.  Meanwhile, I was milking away on my side of the cow.  Max butted at Bonnie's udder from his side, which is something calves do when trying to make their moms let down more milk.  All the milk was on my side, so he was wasting his time. He butted again and again.  Then he came around to my side.  
"Oh no you don't," I told him.  "Not on MY watch.  I've already started milking; I'm going to have to wash this bucket when I'm done.  You are NOT getting any of it now.  You should have sucked while the sucking was good."
He returned to his side of the cow and started butting at her udder again.  I grabbed the stock prod (a harmless fiberglass pole you use to smack cattle with when you want them to move, not the kind that shocks them) and started reaching under Bonnie's belly to smack his legs.  I wanted him to get out of my life.   
I could have milked out a gallon of milk and let him have the rest from my side of the cow.  The trouble with that is, "the cream is in the strippings", as my dad used to say.  The last milk you strip from a cow's udder is the highest in butterfat.  Cliff and I don't need cream, I'll be the first to admit.  However, since I've been making butter with the cream I get from Bonnie (no, we don't need butter either... do you want to make something of it?), when I am forced to milk a cow, I want all the cream to which I am entitled.    
Max finally gave up and went outside.  I came in with my milk and strained two gallons; there was still about a quart left for the cats.  When I went out, Max was doing his best to get milk from his mother, but of course she had none left.  
The up side of this is that he must have been hungry enough to keep her sucked dry for twenty-four hours, because this morning her ample udder was floppy and empty.  Once again, I have made it for a whole day without milking.  
I'm not going to get my hopes up.  But I really, really wish that calf would become a glutton.  

Google pays

I've had this Adsense on my blog for a long time.  Five years, maybe?  The way it works, you don't get a check from them until you reach $100.  It amazes me that anybody clicks on those ads, but obviously somebody does.  I got my first check today!




God bless each and every one of my readers who ever clicked on an ad.

Progress on the 1855 Oliver (especially for Fernan)

My message-board and blogging buddy, Fernan, left a comment on the previous entry complaining that he had not seen any pictures of Cliff's tractor project.  I was going to wait until it was finished, but Cliff says he understands a man being impatient about Oliver pictures.  He has one wheel to paint, one decal to put on, and the back of a tractor seat to buy.  Then it will be done.  Click on any image to make it larger.












Thursday, September 29, 2011

Haunted Pandora

This is my Pandora Grace Internet radio.  It's connected wirelessly to my modem and can play any of my Pandora stations.  I used to go to sleep listening to it; I still do when Cliff stays up later than I.  I go to bed, fiddle with the "sleep" button, which is now set for thirty minutes, and drift off to dreamland listening to a variety of folk artists.  I have other stations, but I almost always choose the folk.  
If Cliff somes into the bedroom, you can bet Bob Dylan will start singing, or somebody else who sounds a lot like Bob Dylan.  Weird. 
Cliff hates Bob Dylan.  
Evidently, in fiddling with the buttons and knobs on the radio, I must sometimes set the wake alarm accidentally.  Because we'll be going about the usual routines of the morning and suddenly folk music wafts from the bedroom.  I go turn it off; in five or ten minutes, it turns on again... snooze alarm, maybe?  And this scenario will repeat itself two or three times.  Weird.    
Whatever it is, I don't deliberately set any sort of alarm to wake me.  We're retired, and anyhow I'm doing well to sleep past five A.M.  
If Cliff goes into the bedroom when the radio is freakishly playing, chances are Bob Dylan will be singing.  Once in awhile it's John Prine; Cliff isn't fond of him, either.  It's all "caterwauling" to him.  This morning Bob was singing "Oxford Town", which tells the true story of a college that wouldn't admit black people.  That's what I love about folk music:  the stories.  
Now, out of this very clear (to my mind) set of words Bob was singing, all Cliff picked up was, "What do you think about that, my friend?"
And Cliff assumed Bob was asking him how he felt about his singing, and laughed uproariously.  I went in and quoted the whole verse to him and explained what it was about.  I think he was surprised that Bob Dylan was actually singing some words that made sense, because I'm the first to admit that not all of his songs do.     


Oxford Town, Oxford Town
Ev'rybody's got their hats bowed down
The sun don't shine above the ground
Ain't a-goin' down to Oxford Town.

He went down to Oxford Town
Guns and clubs followed him down
All because his face was brown
Better get away from Oxford Town.

Oxford Town around the bend
He comes to the door, he couldn't get in
All because of the color of his skin
What do you think about that, my frien' ?

Me and my gal, my gal's son
We got met with a tear gas bomb
I don't even know why we come
Goin' back where we come from.

Oxford Town in the afternoon
Ev'rybody singin' a sorrowful tune
Two men died 'neath the Mississippi moon
Somebody better investigate soon.



Maybe if these folks had been singing the song Bob wrote, Cliff would have enjoyed it more.


Do not open email from my AOL address

It's been hacked, obviously.  And good old AOL refuses to let me change passwords, try as I might.  I did cancel my account, but (good old AOL) they say they won't close it till the end of the billing cycle, even though it's a free account and there is no bill.  I was getting far too much spam at that email addy anyhow, but I do hate the fact that my email is sending either porn or virus's or some foul thing that I wouldn't knowingly send.  I should have closed the AOL account years ago; this is what I get for procrastinating.   
My gmail address is on my profile if you need it, and many of my old AOL friends are familiar with my Yahoo account.  I think I'd be wise to go change the password on those while I'm thinking of it.  


This added later:  I sent an email to the AOL address from my gmail account and it bounced back, so hopefully nobody will be bothered with any more pesky virus or spammy emails.  You know, Gmail lets you see from what areas your account has been accessed and actually lets you know if somebody in, say, Thailand, accesses your account.  This happened to Cliff; since he was notified and we changed his password before anything had been sent out.  It happens to the best of us when we don't make a habit of changing passwords often enough.  Someone emailed and said, "So, you have a virus?"
Nope, because I didn't click on the link in the email I sent myself.  My email was hacked, but I don't have a virus.  

Autumn

Yesterday we once more set out on a motorcycle ride.  Cliff needed to get some stuff at Scott's Bargain Barn in Excelsior Springs.  I've mentioned it in this blog before; that place definitely isn't a lady's idea of fun shopping, so I took my Nook along, and while Cliff meandered through the junk aisles, I read.  Presently I'm reading an excellent book that I checked out of the library's e-book selections.  Stargazer, a school teacher in the state of Washington, has reviews of books she's read on the right-hand side of her blog.  She highly recommended "Cutting For Stone".  Somehow I'm having trouble finding time to sit down and read it, but the two hundred pages I've read so far keep me on the edge of my seat, and I spend lots of time when I'm occupied around the house wondering what's going to happen next.  Between motorcycle rides and other interruptions like laundry and cooking, I'm just going to have to make the time.  One problem I have is that I can't read in the evening; even the best of books put me to sleep after 7 PM.  And of course this perfect autumn weather lures me outside often.  There's an idea!  I should take the Nook outside.  
After Cliff was done shopping it was lunch time, and the GPS directed us toward a Subway.  Unfortunately, there was a Chinese place in the same strip mall, so you can guess what happened to our healthy, low-calorie lunch:  it went down the tubes.  
After sinning eating, we went to Cameron to visit with my cousin and his wife.  


The leaves are changing color quickly.  We can see a difference every day.  


The autumn color is supposed to peak in this area around October 15.  


Mother Cat and her brood of two are staying in the barn most of the time, but sometimes Mom likes to try out my lawn chair.  We saw her carrying a mouse or mole to the barn the other day, and the biggest of her kittens practically fought her for it.  It's good to know they are doing the job for which they were intended.  When I go out to milk the cow, they lead me to the barn as if I might lose my way, and meow constantly until I feed them some cat food.  Then they get a drink of warm milk when I'm done milking.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bye-bye, Facebook... maybe

I deleted my Facebook account.  Unfortunately, they give you two weeks to think about it and come back. So I must be strong for that period of time.  There are some things I will miss on Facebook.
1.  Keeping in touch with relatives I hardly ever see
2.  Being able to instantly share a picture without having to write a blog entry
3.  The ability to instantly share a funny joke, picture or story
4.  Keeping in touch with my long-time Internet friends, including some people from the old chat room
5.  Sound advice from Remo


Things I will not miss:
1.  The games.  I know that's hard to believe, considering I used to love Farmville so much, but I haven't played it for months.  My home in Yoville has been sitting untouched for two years or more.  Of course, with my account deleted, all my neighbors who collected points for visiting my house and my farm will miss me.  
2.  The constant changes.  I've learned to distrust people who promise me change and assure me I'm going to love it.  They lie.  
3.  The holier-than-thou folks who try to tell me the changes are so easy to adapt to and that it's all very simple.  So I'm a moron.  Big deal.  
4.  My son and daughter, since their presence on Facebook has been almost non-existant lately.  


We rode the motorcycle to Cameron today, so this is the first time I've had a chance to sit down at the computer since early morning.  The weather is so perfect, it's unbelievable.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Facebook changes

I'm seriously considering deleting my Facebook account.  I mean deleting it permanently.  It isn't just the changes they're making, it's also the way they own you when you aren't even on the website.  Cookies track where I go twenty-four hours a day.  I know, they're not the only ones that do this:  Google is another culprit, and I'm not about to stop blogging.  But add together the changes Facebook is making and the "big brother" aspect, and I've had it.  
I stopped playing Farmville long ago; I went back and tried it again recently and it bored me silly.  So that's not a problem.  The best thing about Facebook is keeping up with relatives that I normally wouldn't keep in touch with.  That has been wonderful, and I will miss it.  
But then I think about how many good books I could read in the time I spend on Facebook, not to mention the household chores that often go undone, and I think getting rid of it might be the right thing to do.  
I'll let you know; I'm going to ponder it for a day or two.  Meanwhile, how about a picture of my granddog, Titan, who came to visit me today.


Look at the size of that foot.

I fell in love yesterday

I didn't take a picture of my new love interest, but I wasn't expecting to fall in love with him; I was just along for the ride.  
My oldest grandson and his girl friend have been looking for a Great Dane puppy.  We were discussing this with them out in the shop Sunday, and Cliff said, "Phil's boy had some Great Dane puppies for sale a while back."  
Phil is Cliff's brother.  His son, Jeremy, indeed had been selling some puppies, although I figured by this time they were all gone.  So I went to his Facebook wall and asked if he still had puppies.  
"I'll message you," he said.  
He had one black, eleven-week-old puppy left.  I got him connected with Heather, and they made a date for her to see the pup after work yesterday.  
Because Cliff's brother lives in a rather isolated location, Heather asked me to ride along and show her where they lived.  Her car is small, and I wondered if I'd be in charge of controlling a moose-sized pup for the twenty-mile trip home, but I agreed.  
When we arrived at their farmhouse, Jeremy and his girl friend were in the yard with the pup running freely around their feet.  OK, so he hadn't gotten to moose-size yet, but his feet had!  I got out of the car prepared to fend off a jumping puppy, but he didn't jump on us.  When we walked, he'd follow along beside somebody's (anybody's) feet.  
Heather and Jeremy sealed the deal and discussed shots and wormings and dog food and ear surgeries, and we went to load Titan into Heather's little car.  I volunteered to sit in the back seat with him and restrain him; I started to lift him in, but he was heavier than I realized, so Jeremy got him loaded, and I followed.  This back seat was tiny, so I stretched my legs across the back floorboard toward the other door and the pup immediately nestled onto my lap.  Well, he nestled as much of his growing body as would fit on me, anyhow.  And for the whole trip to my house, he stayed right there, every once in awhile trying to snuggle in a little deeper.  Several times he lifted his head, looked me in the eyes, and doggie-smiled, as if to say, "I really like you." 
But he never once licked me.  I don't like licking dogs, so that was another plus. 
Yes, by the time I got out of the back seat with my newfound love, I was hooked.  I never saw that one coming.  


Here's a picture Heather took of him on her way home from here.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cheap eats

I noticed recently that an entry I did about Angelfood Ministries was getting a lot of hits; today I went to check their website just for the heck of it, and I found out they have ceased operation.  
We tried Angelfood Ministries one single time.  I believe we paid $32, and got a small box with not many groceries in it.  A lot of what was in the box was overly processed.  I recall there were some steaks, a cheaper cut, that I used in stir-fries and for beef tips.  And there was a frozen pumpkin pie ready to be put in the oven.  
This was before we butchered Bonnie's first calf, so we had a use for the beef.  However, I didn't need a frozen pumpkin pie.  It was the year we had so many butternut squashes from the garden, and I could have used them if I wanted a "pumpkin" pie.  I've never been one to buy baked (or ready-to-be-baked) goods, unless I see an angel food cake marked down because it's been around awhile.  Of course I buy the occasional cake mix, simply because the mix is cheaper than a cake made from scratch.
Looking at the contents of the box of food we got that day, it seemed to me as though a person could have bought similar items for the same price (or less) at the grocery store, especially if she took advantage of weekly specials.  Still, there are people who buy lots of processed food, so the Angelfood thing might have worked well for them.    
When we bought my Jersey cow, Bonnie, I felt we had paid a ridiculous price.  But I wanted a healthy purebred Jersey cow in the worst way; not because we needed milk, but because I love Jerseys.  As I recall, the people were asking $1,500 for her.  I think they let us have her for $1,300.  I had my lovely, gentle, beautiful Jersey cow, so I was happy.  
Her first calf was a boy.  He nursed her until he was a year old, then we took him to be butchered.  We were amazed at how much meat he made!  The only actual money we ever spent on him was the fee to have him butchered, which was over $200.  We never bought grain for him at any time.  Meanwhile, we were getting from one to two gallons of milk a week from Bonnie, more if I wanted it.  
I'm fairly sure that if we were to figure how much Bonnie has given us in the way of food, she has darn near paid for herself.  
With Bonnie's help, we eat cheaply.  We've been eating taco soup and split pea soup for the last five or six days.  Of course, we ate lasagna twice at Rena's house; the ground beef she used in it (and what I used in our taco soup) was courtesy of Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow's first son.  
For breakfast we alternate between oatmeal and farina (Cream of Wheat).  We have an occasional bowl of Mini-spooners, usually when Cliff sleeps so late that I'm starving, so I go ahead and eat.  
Even in this year of lousy gardening, I don't have to spend a lot of bucks on food.  For that, I am thankful.  And guess what?  I could still trim the budget even more if I had to.  I wish I could say the same about gasoline.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Crooked roads

We were in Versailles at Cliff's Aunt Gertrude's yesterday when Cliff's cousin, Darryl, gave him a tip.  Now, he's had motorcycles before, and he knows what kind of road is perfect for riding on the Gold Wing.  
Over five years ago, he told us about a road near Eldon that goes past Burger's Smokehouse; he said it had lots of sharp curves and nice hills.  Aunt Gertrude heard him telling us how to find the road and said, "Oh, who would want to take that old, crooked road?"  
Cliff's younger sister and her husband were with us that Saturday on their Harley; we indeed found the road and enjoyed it to the fullest.    
The next day was Easter Sunday, and we rode our Gold Wing to church in Oak Grove.  
Two days later, Cliff was in the hospital for open heart surgery.  When Aunt Gertrude heard about it, she said, "No wonder!  He probably had a heart attack from riding on that old crooked road!"  
Anyway, we've learned to pay attention when Darryl tells us about a motorcycle road, so yesterday when he said State Road "D" was a good ride and was newly paved, that's the way we chose to go.  
I was sitting there enjoying the pretty sky and the hills and curves when I realized this would be a great video opportunity.  My little Canon Powershot takes decent videos, and that way we'd have a reminder of our fun day.  Plus I could share the ride with the Internet.  
Cliff and I aren't spring chickens (surprise surprise), and are pretty tired when we get home from a ride.  I was very anxious to get my video made, however, so I came in and loaded it to my computer and then used imovie to edit it.  I don't mess with editing enough to remember what to do, and I'm not at my best in the evening anyhow.  But I was anxious.  I wanted to remove the wind noise from the over-four-minute clip and add music.  
I have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of songs on my computer.  I opened itunes and started looking for a song that was between 4 minutes and four-and-a-half minutes long.  I saw one by Merle Haggard, "Are The Good Times Really Over For Good", that was the right length.  I added it, hoping against hope that the copyright police on Youtube wouldn't strip it off as soon as it loaded.  It's a pretty old song... that was in my favor... but Merle Haggard still has quite a bit of popularity.  
Sure enough, after all that work, Merle's song was removed.  I did not want a silent video; a song breaks the monotony.  I didn't want to spend my whole night finding a song the right length that would make it through the gate intact, so I just started looking at John Prine's list of songs.  I have more songs by him on the computer than probably any other artist, and he's not famous enough for Youtube to worry about.  The heck with four minutes, I decided.  I'd pick a song and trim the end off the video to fit the song.  Good grief, it was almost bedtime!  
And that's how I came up with the video in the previous entry.  First of all, I know that only about a third of the readers will bother to watch a video.  I realized some people would probably find the lyrics offensive, and I knew that 90%  of the folks who listened would wonder how anybody with so little singing talent ever made it to a recording studio:  That song was recorded at John Prine's first appearance after having surgery for throat cancer several years back.  His voice has gotten steadily worse since that time.  Why do I listen to him?  Because I love the lyrics he writes.  He makes me laugh, and sometimes he almost makes me cry.  
Anyhow, I got up this morning resolved to find the proper song and redo the video, one that was the right length and that might seem appropriate for my video.  Once again I went down the list and made a note of every song that was the right length.  
When I came to Moe Bandy's "Americana", I stopped my search.  I wasn't sure about the copyright thing, though.  But I hoped Moe might be enough of a has-been that he wasn't in Youtube's catalog of copyrighted artists.  
This time, my wish came true.  And here you have the amended video with a new sound track and a couple of things added at beginning and end.  


Saturday, September 24, 2011

A good day indeed

Cliff's brother, Donald, called in the middle of last week to say he was going to ride his motorcycle (a Gold Wing) up here from his home in southern Kansas.  Cliff told him to call when he was ready to leave and we'd meet him halfway.  He called, we headed out.  We rode and rode and rode.  Finally we arrived at our meeting-place.


There he was, smoking and smirking.  He informed us that his calculations had been a little "off", and we'd gone forty miles past the true half-way mark.  Oh well, as we bikers like to say, "It's all about the ride!"
We got home shortly before 6 PM and Cliff's sister, our next-door neighbor, had lasagna ready for us.  Wow, can life get any better?  Where are you going to find a renter who cooks supper for you?


And a delicious supper it was!  Donald's wife wanted to be here, but she doesn't like to ride on a motorcycle.
We've missed our old motorcycle-riding buddies, Charlene (Cliff's younger sister) and Pat, her husband. They're way off in St. Louis these days.


But today Rena rode with Don on his bike, so we had some people to ride with.  Here you see Cliff, Don, and Rena ready to ride.  It was a blast.


Here they are behind us.  Oh, we took so many back roads and twists and turns, you wouldn't believe it.


If you'd like to ride along with us, here's a video.  I originally put a Merle Haggard tune with it (Are the Good Times Really Over For Good) but YouTube's copyright cops caught it.  So I did it over with an Iris Dement-John Prine song.  One thing about folks songs, they are so little-known that nobody cares about copyrights.   Enjoy the ride.


Pioneer Woman on TV

Thanks to the DVR, I haven't missed a single episode of Ree Drummond's show on Food Network.  Not only that, I've kept all but one episode on the DVR so I can watch them again.  I didn't come up with this brilliant idea of keeping them until after I had deleted the first one.  Obviously, I am a diehard Pioneer Woman fan.  
I've never been a fan of cooking shows.  At my age, I've accumulated all the recipes I'll ever need, and then some.  And let's face it, Ree doesn't exactly cook health food.  I've probably only tried three or four of the recipes in her cookbook, simply because of the high calorie content.  It isn't her cooking that makes me love the cookbook or her show; it's the scenes from the ranch.  
For instance, I finally got to hear Marlboro Man and the kids talking!  I've read The Pioneer Woman blog for years, and seen all the pictures, but now I know what each member of the family sounds like.  Watching Ree's show is like being invited to the ranch, only I don't have to worry about what to wear or how to act.  Cliff, by the way, enjoys the show with me.  
There are only two more episodes left, although I'm sure the whole series will be shown over and over again.  Food Network might want her to do shows, and Ree may want to do more episodes.  Time will tell.  
Meanwhile, I hear she is working on another cookbook.  
I do wish they'd put the TV episodes on the Internet for those PW fans who don't have satellite or cable.  I guess we can't have everything.  
I have not yet bought a copy of the book Ree wrote for children, "Charlie the Ranch Dog".   I do intend to buy one, though.  After all, I have a great-granddaughter.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

stats

Da Rev recently talked about his stats:  How many hits his blog has had up to now, where the readers come from, and so forth.  I took some screenshots of my stats to share with you.  (Click on the pictures to make them larger.)  
Notice that the post "Putting the canopy back on the 1855 Oliver" had 602 page views over a two-day period.  See the spike on the graph, over to the left?
That happened because I posted the link to that blog entry on Tractor Tales.  Those folks like to see what's going on with Cliff and his tractors, so once in a blue moon I'll share a post with them.  Now the thing that always surprises me is that there aren't that many people who actually converse on Tractor Tales.  Obviously, however, there are hundreds who read it and never say a word.  Cliff says, "Maybe they're like me and can't type."  
Anyhow, if I want my average stat count to jump immensely, that's all I have to do.  I have even picked up a few regular readers from amongst the Talers, and also some Facebook friends.


This shows the referring URLs for a week, and illustrates the same thing.  The reason the top graph has two sources at Yesterday's Tractors is that I posted the link to that entry on two different message boards:  Tractor Tales and the Oliver board.  
Many people come to my blog through a link saved to favorites, so they don't show a source at all.  For those of you who do that, just let me say I'm honored to be among your favorites.  


This shows the most popular posts of the last week.  "What do you do with old hankies" always gets some hits; it must be a common problem, trying to figure out what to do with all those hankies.  Usually "going barefoot all the time" brings a few people here throughout the week, too.  
Thanks to all of you who regularly take the risk of coming to this blog only to find nothing of interest... and yet you return and give me one more chance, again and again. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things you learn when you reach retirement age

You learn to love McDonald's when you're retired.  Oh, you may have spurned it all your life, but not now.  You can get a senior coffee for fifty cents when you're on the road.  You can make a meal from their dollar menu:  two cheeseburgers, two apple pies, two waters:  $3 for two people.
You learn to whine, and even cry.  After my daddy died, I couldn't understand why my mom was always telling people on the street, and on the phone, "I'm just a poor old widow lady."  
Seriously, it was embarrassing.  
Fast forward to our retirement.  I'm not a widow, but I have learned to whine, and even turn on the tears when I can't seem to get any action from the Social Security people or the Medicare folks.  My phrase is this:  "We're living on a fixed income; what are we going to do if you don't help us?  We can't get by like this."    
When my granddaughter, Amber, was very young, her mom would dial me up and put my sweet little granddaughter on the phone.  "Hi, Amber," I'd say.   
"Hi Grandma," she'd answer in a perky, happy little high-pitched voice.  
"How are you, Amber?"  
Instantly she'd start crying and begin to tell me about all the injustices her mother had heaped upon her.  I never met anybody who could turn on the tears like Amber.  
And now I'm doing it.  
It's true!  I went to Walmart pharmacy to pick up the only prescription drug I take, for my blood pressure.  I was informed that Medicare Complete wanted our other provider to take care of it.  
We have no other provider, but I knew what was going on because I went through all this with Cliff a couple of weeks ago.  Through no fault of our own, we had been thrown in pharmaceutical jail.  
When it happened with Cliff, it was pretty urgent that we get that prescription that day.  He had taken his last one, and it was something the doctors seem to think he urgently needs.  It's no use to whine at the people working at Walmart, because it's none of their doing.  So I sat on a bench at Walmart for an hour, talking on the phone to Medicare, until I had it straightened out.  
For some reason, the insurance that Cliff had at his job was still listed as a provider, even though they cancelled him when he retired on July 6.  
Once we got him straightened out that day, I gave it no more thought.  That is, until I went for my prescription yesterday, and the same thing happened to me.   I was going to have to go through the same rigamarole for myself.  
My blood pressure meds are pretty cheap, even without insurance.  So I opted to pay $22 out of pocket and go to the comfort of my own home to deal with Medicare.  The lady at the pharmacy told me to keep my receipt; when we got it straightened out, she would run it through again and reimburse me.  
I called Medicare once, talked to some guy, and got cut off after thirty minutes.  I called again, and the lady who spoke with me said they would call me in twenty-four hours.  
They didn't.  
So this afternoon I called them again, and got a man who obviously could not have cared less.  His only advice was for me to call the pharmacy and see if "the flag" had been removed. 
I did, and it had not been.  
I went outside to the shop where Cliff is spiffing up the Oliver 1855 and told him, "I'm going to call one more time, and this time I'm going to cry."  
I did, and it worked.  
Once you're living on Social Security, all you need to do is mention the fixed income situation and start crying.  It works with Dish Network, Direct TV, and CenturyLink.  Best of all, it seems to work with Medicare.  
The flag has been removed and I'm out of pharmaceutical jail.  
I wonder if there are any job openings on soap operas.  I can cry at the drop of a hat, and I'll even drop the hat.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Out of the weeds

I went out to my weedpatch garden in hopes of finding a tomato or two.  No luck; the vines are healthy and vigorous, but the tomatoes have rotted before they ripened.  Very depressing.  I might have known something new would come along to stifle my tomato-canning plans.
I glanced over the rest of the crabgrass and saw something red gleaming there.  Hmmm.  That's not the tomato patch.
Lo and behold, it was a beautiful, big sweet pepper turned red.  Then I saw a yellow one and a couple of green ones.  I went to get a basket because my hands were pretty full by this point.  The basket says "eight quarts" on the end, but is what I usually call a peck basket.


I'd almost be willing to bet there are that many more out there; you just can't see much for the weeds.  There are hundreds of jalapenos, too, for which I really have little use.  When I ordered a packet of mixed peppers seeds, they were in the mix.  Maybe my daughter would like some of these pretty peppers to grill with their next meal.
I had a little trouble navigating through the pepper plants because the twelve sweet potato slips Cliff planted right after I got home from the hospital have sent out treacherous vines.  Directions said to allow them six feet on each side of the row, which we did.  Those vines must be on steroids, because they've stretched out twice that far!
My cousin who visited last week brought us some huge sweet potatoes which we wasted no time in consuming.  One was so big we had to quarter it to get it to bake in the microwave.  Of course, sweet potatoes continue to grow until frost, but I decided to dig just one hill up and see what I had.  I wasn't expecting much.


Ok, so the huge one my cousin brought us probably weighed more than all these together.  Still, these are some nice sweet potatoes.   Again, it's an eight-quart basket. 
So although I've done nothing but complain about my garden of weeds, we got at least a dozen cabbages, a nice early crop of corn, better radishes than I have raised in years, beets, carrots, and now peppers and sweet potatoes.  I won't go into detail explaining the things that did not do well, since they probably made up 2/3 of the garden.  But hey, I got something.  I'm still undecided about whether to even put forth the effort next year.  But you know, when spring starts beckoning we all go a little crazy.  If only there were a guarantee that I'd get some tomatoes...

Making butter

Some of you had questions about home-churned butter.  If you'd like to try it yourself, buy some whipping cream at the store, put it in a jar or other container that seals tightly, and start shaking.  Make sure the jar isn't over half full; One-third full is probably ideal.  The faster and harder you shake the container, the sooner you'll have butter.  My daughter used to work at a day-care, and they would let the children make a small amount of butter all by themselves, giving them each a quart jar with a half-pint of cream.  
It's so easy, even a child could do it, as the old saying goes. 
Does it taste fantastic?  It does if you like butter, because that's what it tastes like.  Butter. 
Do I salt my butter?  I used to, and for spreading on toast and such I actually prefer it salted.  However, since I store it in the freezer these days, I leave the salt out.  
As you can imagine, since we are two people in their sixties who can't quite keep their weight where it should be, one of whom has had heart issues, we don't consume a lot of butter.  That's why I deemed 1/3 cup portions to be about right for our table use (and popcorn use).  
When the butter is churned, you're left with buttermilk, but it is nothing like cultured buttermilk you buy in the store.  It's only suitable for using in baked goods.  And since I'm STILL bringing in a gallon of milk every day (sigh), I have plenty of regular milk for cooking and baking.  
Yesterday the cow had less milk in her udder when she came up than she has ever had since this calf was born, so I am hoping against hope that he's starting to consume more milk.  When that happens, I'll only milk once or twice a week again, as I've done in the past; then I won't be making butter because there won't be all this excess cream I have now.  
*added later:  once again, I only got 1/2 gallon of milk.  Things are looking up.


If there are any more questions about home-churned butter, feel free to ask.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lovely day for a ride

Since we rode the Gold Wing yesterday, I figured today was a day to get some things done.  


I sorted laundry and threw a load in the washing machine.  


I skimmed the cream off three gallons of milk and put it in my Dazey churn, which I bought off Ebay years ago, and is about the same age as I am.  I figured after Cliff and I took our walk, I'd churn butter.  
As we were getting ready to go for our walk, Cliff listed several things he could do out in the shop, then said, "But I'm seriously thinking about going for a ride to Jamesport; the Amish might be harvesting corn now."  
I took the top off the churn and covered the jar with foil.  I hung out the load of clothes I had washed.  I made a picnic lunch and made coffee for the thermos.  I went out and milked Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow.  
I left the piles of clothes on the floor and away we went.  


When we stopped by our favorite orchard just the other side of Lexington, the early Fujis they had were in ten-pound bags, and they didn't have any seconds.  $7.50 for a bag.  
"There are other orchards up the road," Cliff said.  
So we went on to Waverly, where nothing was labeled as #2, but all the Fujis looked terrible and could have been graded as #3:  sunburnt and cracked and ugly!  I worked at an orchard for many years, and I know what a good apple should look like.  They wanted $7.99 a bag, the same sized bag that Rasa Orchards were selling for $7.50, but their apples were good.  
Well, we weren't going to be coming home the same way, so I bought some ugly, overpriced apples.  But NEVER AGAIN!
We did have a lovely ride up 24 and 65 highways.  


There are lots of towns with buildings that look like this.  
We picnicked in Chillicothe, and then went to Jamesport.


When we saw a lady driving a horse-and-buggy, we knew we were almost there.  


We saw some Amish fellows getting ready to pick corn, but Cliff didn't stop to watch, even though there was a place near this where a car had pulled off the road.  Oh well, you aren't supposed to take pictures of them anyhow, so this one will have to do.  


Here you see a parking lot for horses.  All that dark stuff?  Horse poop.  
We did some shopping at an Amish store and came on home by a different route, Highway 13.  


We spent $21, but there's lots of good stuff here, and it was all much cheaper than in the store:  garbanzo beans, black beans, split peas (I'm making split pea soup tomorrow!), several different kinds of spices, popcorn, dried banana slices... I bought some of those last year, and loved them.  
Cliff says next year when we go up there, we're taking the motorcycle trailer.  
So, after a nice ride, I came home and looked at the clothes on the kitchen floor and decided to leave them there for tomorrow.  


I sat in my easy chair and churned butter.  




I got out a cookie sheet and measured out 1/3 cup servings of butter and a single one-cup serving that I'll use in baked goods of some kind.  Butter made from unpasteurized cream doesn't keep as long as store-bought butter, so I am freezing it in small amounts to keep it fresh.  
So, that's how my day went.  How was yours?
  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Putting the canopy back on the 1855 Oliver

This task turned out to be more difficult than anybody imagined.  The canopy had been off the tractor for a long time, stored away where the fresh, new paint wouldn't get scratched.  For some reason, the bolt-holes absolutely would not line up.  In fact, the slideshow/video I made of it doesn't show the final success because I wasn't there to watch.  
You see, one of Cliff's helpers, my grandson's buddy, had his baby, Kinsey, along: 

My grandson's girl friend tended to her for awhile.  
When she started getting sleepy (the baby, not the girl friend), I took over and sang her to sleep; then I brought her into the house and of course, stayed inside while she slept on the couch.
  
Cliff is still asleep as I do this entry, so I can't ask him for details; but from what I heard last night, getting that canopy bolted up involved torches and drilling and some damage to paint in certain places (also some graphic language).  Another one of my grandson's friends showed up after I came inside, so there were plenty of helpers.  
I had the easy job:  Watching a sweet baby and cooking hamburgers for all the helpers when they were finished with the impossible job they had to do.  
Try to ignore my grandson's T-shirt.  Redneck young men will be redneck young men.  I asked what the shirt was about.  It seems Arick and his girl friend went to some female full-contact game... football?... (shuddering) and that's where they bought the shirt.  I was going to remove the photos that actually showed the words, but then I decided against that.     
As of right now, the slideshow has a soundtrack.  However, Youtube might remove it before long due to copyright laws.  "Joy to the World" isn't really how the guys were feeling anyhow, so it's no biggie.   



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Civil War celebration




It was a damp, gray day yesterday, just like today is turning out to be.  Much of the time there was a fine mist, and it even turned to light rain a couple of times.  There was a chautauqua tent where we watched a Civil War doctor explain the methods that were used on soldiers with battle injuries.  Various other interesting demonstrations were going on there throughout the day.  
We took the Civil War tour bus and leaned lots of interesting facts about homes and buildings we see all the time in Lexington, our nearest good-sized town.  If I could locate a book with all these facts, I'd buy it.  
And, we watched the parade.   It was, indeed, raining on our parade as we watched.  I had hoped we could go to the reenactment of The Battle of the Hemp Bales at 3 P.M. this afternoon, but alas:




Oh, the battle will go on, rain or shine; I just don't think I'd enjoy standing in the rain to watch it.  One interesting fact learned yesterday:  At the time of the Civil War, 40% of the population of this county (Lafayette) was made up of slaves.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Eventful weekend

Last night, Cliff, his sister, and I went to a benefit for our neighbor, Tyler, who has rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  We were only going to show our support for Tyler; figured we'd stick around for a half-hour or so and come back home.
However, the band started playing and sounding pretty good, and next thing you know, we'd been there for three hours.


My grandson and his girl friend were there.


So were the folks who used to be our renters.


That's Tyler, the guest of honor, with some young lady.





In this video, Tyler is on drums, his twin brother Travis is playing bass guitar, and their dad is on keyboards.  They are a very musical family.  Country musical, that is.  When their dad and his sister were growing up next door, at one point I bought an old piano just so Donnie and Ronda could come over and sing for me and with me.   Their parents (Tyler's grandparents) were also excellent singers.
Here's a video of the twins' aunt, Ronda, singing.  Of course you realize the quality is lacking on this type of recording, but hopefully my kids will be able to take a walk down memory lane by watching it, if nothing else.

Friday, September 16, 2011

updates

Our ex-son-in-law did not have the open-heart surgery yesterday as expected:  it will either be today or Monday.  There's a big possibility that his surgeon will be the same one who performed Cliff's CABG; that's a good thing!  
On the preceding post, I should have warned you that you do have to answer some questions about certain Missouri stories before you can vote on my second cousin's photo.  I understand we can vote every day, so for those of you who have the time and inclination, we'd appreciate your help.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A favor, please

A cousin of mine, one of the magical group of 1944 girl cousins, lives with her husband on his original family farm, now a Missouri Century Farm.  One of my cousin's daughters submitted a picture of her great-grandparents, the first owners of the property, to a contest put on by the state of Missouri.  
If you would go to THIS LINK, scroll down, and vote for photo #27, I know Rhonda and her family would appreciate it.  The little boy in the photo is Rhonda's dad.  




In case you've forgotten, here's a picture of the magical 1944 girl cousins (I'm second from left):


Lela, the one on the left, is the one living on the family farm.  Now go on and vote.  I don't ask many favors, do I?

Non-political

It's time I sit down and type something, if only to push Ron Paul on down the page.  
My cousin Pauline and her husband, Marvin, spent the night with us.  They're on their way to St. Louis to a funeral.  We had a nice visit, and they brought us some apples, huge sweet potatoes, cucumbers, eggs, and other goodies.  These are people who do things like the Amish in a lot of ways:  canning, juicing, preserving.  Blight never troubles their tomatoes, and they are the winners in any battles with squash bugs.  
Can you tell I'm jealous?  Well, I envy their success, but you'd never find me putting all the effort into it that they do, so how can I be jealous? 
My garden this year was almost a total failure and I had Cliff mow the main plot.  It was that bad.  Our early corn was good, and the cabbage and carrots.  The tomato plants are taller than my head, but I haven't gotten as many tomatoes off a dozen plants as I would normally get off one plant.  Seriously, I may totally swear off gardening again.  
My daughter's ex-husband, Jerry, is having heart surgery today; one artery was 95% blocked.  Prayers would be appreciated.  We all care about Jerry.  
Meanwhile, Cliff had his routine blood test Monday.  His sugars are high for about the third time in a year; the nurse who called said he isn't diabetic, but he needs to watch his carbs, fats, and proteins. The doctor yelled at us about this not long ago.  He wants Cliff to lose fifteen or so pounds because, as he put it, "If you go on like this, you will be diabetic!"  
*sigh*  
I think Max is taking a little more of Bonnie's milk, but I'm still getting about a gallon once a day, mostly from one back quarter.  
This is a boring entry, I know.  But it's the best I can do today.  
By the way, it was 45 degrees this morning when we woke up.  Winter is approaching!  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I seldom get political

I saw this very old video of Ron Paul as a much younger man, talking the same kind of sense as he does today.  Feel free to pass on by, because I pass by most political posts myself.  I feel better putting it out there, whether anyone else watches it or not.


Full-moon insomnia

I said to Cliff last night, before I went to bed, "I ought to just take an over-the-counter sleeping pill; there's a full moon out there, and I never sleep well during a full moon."  
Unfortunately, I did not take a pill.  
Oh, I went to sleep not long after going to bed.  Then at some time before midnight, I awoke and heard the unmistakable sound of my dog, Iris, jumping in the bathtub of the bathroom just off our bedroom.  Normally she only retreats to the tub when a storm threatens, but the sky was cloudless.  I mused on this, then managed to go back to sleep.  
At two o'clock, I woke again, and evidently Iris heard me stirring, because I heard her jump out of the bathtub and come to my side of the bed.  I reached down and stroked her head for awhile; when I'd stop, she would nudge my hand.  
What if she's sick and needs out, I thought.  So I whispered to her, "Do you want out?"  
She did the characteristic stretch that dogs do when you ask such a question, which usually means yes.  I got out of bed; Iris led me to the living room and plopped down in front of the couch in her favorite TV-watching position.  Obviously she wanted another insomniac to keep her company, but I went back to bed.  Within five minutes, I heard her climbing into the tub again.  
Cliff woke up briefly and I told him I should have taken that pill, but 2 A.M. is too late to take one.  Then I heard Crazy Neighbor pulling up to the house next door, the house on whose loan he has defaulted... a house with no electricity, but he seems to be staying there anyhow.  This was the second time during the night that I heard his car over there.  He has a court date in three weeks, so maybe then things will quiet down.  
I heard a train whistle at the back of our place, which set off a chorus of coyotes howling.  
At this point I'm wide awake, and I start pondering the mistake at the bank.  Yes folks, for the first time in my life I actually caught a bank in a mistake.  I had written check number 2476 to pay a bill in the amount of $78.37.  Saturday I received an overdraft notice in the mail saying check number 2476 was for the amount of $240.76; the bank had paid the check and charged me a $20 overdraft fee.  
You can imagine how this messed with my mind, waiting until Monday morning to call the bank.  The lady I talked to yesterday was courteous, and by this time I had cooled off so that I was nice to her.  Turns out it wasn't my bank that made the error, it was the bank on the other end.  She explained it all to my satisfaction, and said she would get the money back into my account.  The trouble is, at our rinky-dink bank, transactions don't show up online until the next day.  So, at 2:30 in the morning I was lying in bed wondering if that had been taken care of.  At 3 A.M. I finally got up, made coffee, and found out that, indeed, everything was fixed and my money was back in my account.  
Then I checked Facebook and saw there was a rash of insomnia amongst my Facebook friends.  It never fails; after all, it's a full moon.  If I were the type person to believe in  astrology, I would wonder if it affects me because I am a cancer... a moon-child.  
I received a lengthy email from my friend, Maria, yesterday; I mentioned her in yesterday's entry.  She still reads this drivel, and said she prints off all the recipes I include in my blog and gives them a try.  Maria is of 100% authentic Italian heritage (and proud of it), so I'm glad to know she likes my hillbilly recipes.  Ah, sometimes I wish we could go back to the old chat room days.  There was a core group of us that felt like family.  Then I remember the stinkers and troublemakers that came on the scene and disrupted things, and I have no desire to go back.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Impatient cow

When I go into the milking barn, I have to lock the door behind me or Bonnie opens the door and enters before I'm ready.  It isn't that she is anxious to be milked.  No, she just happens to know that she is going to get some sweet feed when she goes to the stanchion.  Food is her primary motivator in life.  In other words, she fits right in with us.  


First you will see her opening the door. Then after I lock the door, she keeps on trying.  


And now, back to regular blogging

I spent some time yesterday watching shows about 9/11.  Back in 2001, I recall leaving the TV off because I couldn't bear to watch any more footage showing what had happened.  Now, enough time has passed so that I can take it in in small doses.  
In 2001, I was keeping in touch with several of my old Internet chat room friends:  Joanna was near Washington, DC, so of course she was shaken by the fact that the Pentagon was attacked.  Maria was in Buffalo, New York, close enough to the World Trade Center that she felt the attack was right in her own back yard, so to speak (Maria, do you still read this mess?  I have been trying to reach you by email).  I was working at Kohl's distribution center when my associate supervisor made the rounds to tell all of us that a plane had hit World Trade Center.  Cliff and I had spent the previous weekend in Arkansas, staying one night with another Internet friend (also a real-life friend) who had plans to fly to Texas on the morning of 9/11 and meet one of her daughters.  Then the two of them were going to board a plane together and fly to Washington state and visit another daughter.  So when I heard about a plane crashing into a building, my first thought was that my friend was flying that day.  As it happened, she got stranded in Texas for a few days and eventually rented a car and drove home.   
I know some people don't want to hear any more about all that mess that happened ten years ago.  The wonderful thing is, they don't have to.  You can change the channel or turn off the TV and computer and do other things.  The main thing that motivates me to participate in Project 2,996  is the occasional comment like these: "Thank you for doing this for my friend" "Thank you for the personal, moving tribute; Christopher was a distant cousin that I never knew.  Thanks to your comments, I now have some insight into what a wonderful person he was." 
I am still home-bound with my cow, whose calf is perfectly happy to partake of the milk from the front teats, with an occasional hit on the two back ones.  This has worked out well for Cliff, who feels he has an obligation to take me to see the Grand Canyon but would much rather stay home and work on his 1855 Oliver tractor.  He's sandblasted and primed the hulking beast, and before you know it, it will look as though it came fresh from the factory, with bright Oliver-green paint, new decals and all.  
Remember almost a month ago when we came home from the state fair and found Bonnie's calf had fallen into a canyon?    Up until that day, Bonnie had a favorite shaded spot right at the western rim of that canyon where she would go to escape the heat.  There is a large, grassy area at that side of the ditch that we call "the point".  It has always been a choice grazing area for any animals living on our place.  But since Bonnie's calf fell into the ditch, she has not been anywhere on the west side of that ditch!  There's plenty of grazing in other places, but it can't be coincidence that she stays away from the area where she lost her baby for a few hours.  She used to spend most of her time over there.   
So, life goes on here; we are still having a string of perfect, autumn-like days that make a person happy to be alive.  I have a feeling that if the weather holds, we will at least get in a motorcycle day trip in the next day or two.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering Thelma Cuccinello

Thelma, aged 71, loved to travel.  Her daughter, Cheryl O'brien, was a travel agent and had booked a trip for her on American Airlines 11.  Thelma was going to visit her sister and brother-in-law in California.  
She had taken up golf at age 70, and planned to spend some time on the links during her visit.  


She was skilled at making quilts and all sorts of crafts, and left many such mementoes behind with family members and friends.   


Christmas was Thelma Cuccinello's favorite holiday, a time when she could deck her house in Wilmot, N.H., with all the ornaments and decorations she had made over the years. And not just her house. Her eldest daughter, Cheryl O'Brien, who lives in Bedford, Mass., recently opened a box of Christmas wreaths, only to realize that every one had been made by her mother. "She made the skirt for our Christmas tree, the decoration for our mantlepiece," Mrs. O'Brien said. "She and Dad would go nuts at 
Christmas."


You can read her profile as shown on the Chicago Tribune HERE.  If ever there was a "perfect" mother and grandmother, I'd say Thelma was such a person.


This is a part of Project 2,996.  For links to more tributes, go to the Project 2,996 website.  

Remembering Linda C. Lee; she lived a joyful, fulfilled life.

After reading the comments on previous tributes I have done, I couldn't possibly miss the opportunity of doing another one.  I randomly picked a World Trade Center victim, began what I figured would be a hopeless search for information, and struck gold.  For more tributes of the 9/11 victims, go to Project 2,996.


First of all, I found a tribute with her picture on the World Trade Center Memorial site.  Ms. Lee, age 34, was a senior associate at a financial services firm.  On September 11, 2,001, she just happened to be attending a technology conference at the trade center.    


She listened with her fullest attention," said Tiffany Norwood, her friend since kindergarten. "She wanted to know exactly what was going on in your life. 
Ms. Lee had a love of adventure, Ms. Norwood said. In high school, the two girls would sneak off from their homes in Camp Springs, Md., to New York for the weekend. As young women, they would sweet talk New York cabbies into letting them drive the taxi. 
"She had an amazing ability to make and nurture friendships," said Stacey Harris, another close friend. "She made you feel like you were her only friend." 

I found the following words left by friends at her online obituary site: 
"I met Linda on a consulting assignment at Morgan Stanley. She had a good heart and she was very giving. Working with her was challenging. I found her to be very bright, patient, tolerant and understanding. I was at Morgan Stanley when she left the firm to further her career. I am stunned and so very saddened by this. Why God took such a wonderful person from us is something I will never understand." 

"Linda was an exceptional person with a generosity of spirit that was beyond words. I was always in awe of the way she approached life. She was excited to be alive and be in New York City and see and do and just experience. I think we ate in every restaurant in the East Village.
Linda saw the beauty and joy in things that most people would never notice. And when you were around her, you couldn’t help but see what she saw. And she always saw the good in people, unless of course, those people insulted her friends." 



I was glad to see that there is a memorial scholarship in her name.

Project 2,996

To understand Project 2,996, you need to go to THIS LINK and catch the vision its creator had in mind.  The idea is to make sure that the very ordinary people who died as a result of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, be remembered in a positive way.  
I did not choose to do a new tribute this year, perhaps because of laziness; although I tell myself that after ten years, it gets harder to find sufficient information on the Internet about these people to give them a proper tribute.  If I didn't have such a very busy day today, I might perhaps take the time to try and find another person to whom I could give tribute, even at this late date.    
However, I'd like to give you the links to all the tributes I have done for this project.  Keep in mind these are people who got up and went to work on what seemed like an ordinary day.  It could happen to any of us on any "ordinary" day. 
You might want to read the comments on these entries; some of the friends and relatives left comments thanking me for the tributes to their loved ones.  That made it worth the effort. 


Christopher Sullivan


Derek James Statkevisuc


Veronique Bowers







Thursday, September 08, 2011

Perfect days

We are indeed having a run of perfect days.  After having highs of over 100 for so long, and an almost-month-long drought, we now have snuggling weather at night and daytime highs in the seventies.  
The hard cheese I'm making is in the cheese-press.  Who knows what it will turn out to be?  Last time I followed the instructions for hard cheese, I ended up with feta cheese.  Later I looked at the feta cheese recipe and it was nothing like what I had done, so I guess the cheese fairy switched it somewhere along the line.  I really wish I could repeat that episode, because we have been loving the crumbly feta-type cheese in salads.  
How do you like my cheese press?  I'm using a wine bottle (from a local winery) full of water for the weight.  Tonight the cheese comes out of the press, gets wrapped in cloth, and will be stowed away in the refrigerator.  Cliff made the press for me out of a piece of PVC pipe.  
I'm pretty sure my experiment with making cottage cheese in the crock pot is a failure.  Oh, I have some curds to work with, but they are funny-colored and rather chewy.  Back to the drawing board.  
I went out in the pasture a while ago to see what the cows are doing with their time.


On the way back there, I noticed that some coyote, fox, or other varmint had feasted on bird recently.  
Bonnie was off grazing by herself.


The kids were in a nice, brushy place where it was cool.  Jody has a thing in her nose to discourage her from trying to nurse Bonnie.  


It might look uncomfortable, but it doesn't slow down her grazing at all.  
Also, while I was in the pasture I took a couple of shots of Adam's horses for possible future header photos.  Bonnie has been featured there so long, she is liable to think she's a movie star or something.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Today's activities

Perhaps you've noticed a decline in my blog posts in the past few days.  Everything is dandy, but nothing memorable is going on.  
Cliff is finally sandblasting the Oliver 1855 that he purchased two years ago; both yesterday and today, I heard the sandblaster going most of the day.  He goes to the shop after our walk, comes in for dinner at noon, then goes back to the shop and stays until six or seven P.M.  
This puts me in hermit mode, reading.  I finished "The Help" this morning.  I'm now reading Dean Koontz's "A Big Little Life" about his wonder dog.  I have to confess this one is a little boring to me, since I've had dogs that can do about anything his retriever could do.  OK, so his dog was better-behaved than any I've had, but other than that, he wasn't so unusual; his dog didn't even watch TV, for heaven's sake!  It's a short book, so I'll go ahead and read it all.  
I'm still being forced to milk the cow once a day.  This morning I saved a gallon of milk that I'll make cheese with in the morning.  I already inoculated it with buttermilk.  Also, I skimmed some milk so I can try a new method of making cottage cheese, using a crock-pot.   I have a chunk of home-made cheddar-type cheese already aging in the refrigerator, coated in paraffin.  Ideally it's supposed to age for a month, but I doubt if my curiosity will let me wait that long.   
I churned some butter today, too.  I was down to one egg in the house, so I looked up a cookie recipe that uses butter and only needed one egg:  snicker-doodles!  The recipe doesn't make many cookies, but then Cliff and I don't need many cookies.  
When Cliff came in for dinner, we watched the latest episode of "Closer" on our DVR.  When he was heading toward the door, he bent over to give me a kiss as he thanked me for dinner, and dumped sand on my upturned face!  His hair was loaded with sand from all that sandblasting.  
Tomorrow will likely be another uneventful day, so don't be surprised if there's no new entry.         

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

What we ate Saturday and Sunday

Cliff's sister and her husband were sleeping at our house over the weekend, but they knew they'd be visiting other folks Sunday.  I wanted to have some food around that they could warm up in the microwave in case they returned hungry.  
Because we have lots of beef in the freezer, I try to incorporate it into our meals, rather than use something I would have to go out and buy.  So, I made meat and corn bread squares, a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook recipe.  This has a higher-calorie content than Cliff and I need on a regular basis.  
We really love it, so I like to find an excuse to make it once in a blue moon.


MEAT AND CORN BREAD SQUARES
Printed from COOKS.COM

1 lb. ground beef
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. dried onion
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 (16 oz.) can tomatoes
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chili peppers, drained
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. corn meal
2 tsp. baking powder
2 beaten eggs
1 (8 3/4 oz.) can creamed corn
1/2 c. milk
3 tbsp. cooking oil
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

Brown ground meat. Drain fat. Stir in next 4 ingredients then stir in undrained tomatoes and chili peppers. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.Combine flour, corn meal and baking powder. Combine eggs, corn, milk and oil. Stir into dry ingredients. Add cheese. Stir until moistened. Spread half of batter into a greased 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Spoon meat mixture over that. Top with remaining batter.
Bake at 375 degrees about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve with salsa if desired. Serves 6.


So, we had that, and as an alternate easy-warmup dish, I made Taco Soup.  Cliff and I finished it off last night after our guests were gone.  


TACO SOUP
Printed from COOKS.COM

1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg taco seasonings
1 pkg dry Ranch seasonings
2 large cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can Rotel tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can whole kernel corn

Brown meat and onion. Drain. Add seasonings. Drain beans and corn. Add to meat along with tomatoes. Simmer until well blended and hot. Eat and enjoy.Add a bit of grated cheese or sour cream and this simple soup is perfect for cold nights.

Iris-Come-Home

Cliff's St. Louis sister and her husband were here for the weekend; because they had several people to visit while they were in the area, we had our son-in-law do his Labor Day grilling magic on Saturday.  That way Pat and Charlene didn't have to stick to a schedule during the rest of their visit.    Kevin hadn't even gotten started with the cooking when thunder boomed in the distance; before long, he was grilling in the rain.  
My dog, Iris, had safely tucked herself away in the bathtub.  She is terrified of storms, and seems to think it's safer in Cliff's tub than anywhere else.  When Charlene and Pat arrived with their dog, Mindy, I told Iris that Mindy was here.  That bit of news overcame her fear, and she came out of the bathroom, growling and barking, to greet Mindy.  
Iris and Mindy followed all of us out to the shop, which is where we hang out for many of our family get-togethers.  When it thundered, Iris cowered underneath Cliff's desk.  


At one point, she became brave enough to come on out and get on granddaughter Natalie's lap.  Shortly after I took this picture, thunder boomed nearby.  After that, we didn't see Iris for fourteen hours.
Nobody noticed her leaving, but when the festivities ended, I realized my dog wasn't around.  Natalie and I called, Cliff whistled; all to no avail.  
Now I want you to know that I did not shed a single tear during this time, but I did lose some sleep.  Remember, my two previous dogs died young:  One was hit by a car on the highway and killed, the other choked on a splintered pork bone and had to be put to sleep.  But these circumstances, so I felt there was hope for Iris.  
She likes to be at home with her people, and I figured that unless she was so far away that she was totally disoriented, she would come scratching at my door once she had calmed down.  If she happened to be totally lost and far from home, she has tags on her collar, and she is microchipped.  She loves people and wouldn't be hard for a stranger to befriend.  I believe most conscientious folks would track down her owner if they found her.  
Oh sure, there was a devil on my shoulder whispering, "What if she's been hit by a car?"  
I ignored him, prayed some, and vowed not to cry.
We woke up to a sunny Sunday morning; I fixed biscuits and gravy for everybody, and then went for a walk in the pasture with Mindy, who really looks forward to a run in the country when she visits.  While I was gone, my two sisters-in-law went up and down the highway looking for Iris.  
Everybody else went to Cliff's shop to hang out, and after returning from my walk, I picked up my Nook, hoping to distract myself with the excellent book I'm reading at present (The Help).  
You can imagine my joy when I heard my granddaughter yell, "Grandma, Iris is home!"  
We don't know where she spent the night.  She acted somewhat guilty upon her return, but I was so glad to see her I didn't even scold her.  I just let my stinky dog crawl up on my lap and continued with my reading.


  Cliff thought he should take a picture of the grand reunion.