Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

All the dogs around here want to wish my readers a wonderful New Year.  
Here you'll see the grandson's Great Dane, Titan, whining until he gets Iris to give him her ball.





Next, you'll see Titan trying to make friends with Angel.


Angel is pretty scared of him, but she doesn't run away.  He'll bat those king-sized paws at her, but he never touches her with them, only smacks the ground beside her.  Titan spent most of the day with us yesterday.


He followed Cliff around for a couple of hours, as Cliff got on and off the tractor.  Titan is one of the best companion dogs I've ever seen; he wants to be around his people.  


The high spot of 2011 around here was Cliff's retirement.  We have both enjoyed it thoroughly.  Yes, money is tight sometimes, but Cliff is so relaxed and at ease knowing he doesn't have to go to work.  It was the right thing for him to do.  
As of today, my only goals for 2012 are to visit Wyoming and Montana, and to find another bred Jersey heifer or cow, since it looks like Bonnie isn't going to re-breed.  It would be nice if we could find one equal to her.  Yes, I do have Jody waiting in the wings, but she's still young, and it will be awhile before she can be bred.  
I am so thankful for everything we have.  




I wish every one of you, my readers, a wonderful 2012.  I see this is Leap Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Details about the logging operation


This crew moved pretty fast, but they still ended up spending the whole day here.  I told them I was sharing their activities on my blog, as well as letting people know whether I'm happy or unhappy with the price we get.  


The guy running the crew said to be sure their phone number was showing in a picture, so here you have it.  


Once a tree was down, the limbs had to be cut off.  


Cliff will be cutting up those big limbs to use as fuel in the wood stove in his shop next winter, after the wood is cured.  


That log the horses are inspecting was the biggest walnut tree on the place; it came off our original six acre plot, which had never been logged.  The other thirty-six or so acres was logged about twenty-six years ago, before we bought it.  For those who wonder if I'll have any walnuts to harvest, put it from your minds.  There are many, many younger trees that will be ready for somebody to log in another twenty-five years or so, and some of them are producing walnuts right now.  
I realize that some folks have concerns that we'll be ripped off.  Well, these guys have been logging on many local farms, and so far as I've heard, everybody is happy.  Monday a man will come and grade the walnut logs, and figure out how many board feet we have.  That's how the value of the wood is determined.  We get to watch the grading process.  Once the price is determined, the loggers get half the money and we get half.    


These twelve logs are on "the point", as we call it.  There are eleven more in other spots around our property.  I sent off our property taxes yesterday, and I'll be very disappointed if our proceeds from this endeavor don't more than make up for the amount removed from our checking account for county taxes.  
I asked the man what the lumber will be used for:  He said a lot of it goes to China, to be made into furniture.  Extremely wealthy people in China even use it for floors.  
I'll keep you posted on how this all turns out.  It probably wouldn't be wise to state the actual amount of money we get, but you will know whether or not there's a smile on my face, when it's all said and done.  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Logging

A very annoying local man with whom I've had dealings before came to us the other day, scouting out walnut trees for a logging crew to harvest.  Cliff talked to him about it, which is a good thing, because I usually end up angry after the guy says a couple of sentences.  
Anyway.  Cliff and I agreed that at our age, we could use the money more than we need the walnut trees.    
Those guys arrived before 8 A.M.  


I told them I'd be taking some pictures.  However, they started down at the bottom of our property, and I wasn't about to hike down there.  Cliff and I ate dinner at 11 and then went for a motorcycle ride, our first since the first half of October.  


Oh, we did see a little action first.  Take a look at my header picture, for example.  


It was exciting to see all that action taking place on our property.  

That guy dragged them all to the top of the hill and lined them up like so many lincoln logs.  As I type this, there are twelve laying there side by side.  There are more lined up in other places on the property.  
I'll have more to tell you tomorrow.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just one more thing....



Donna was five minutes ahead of her cue with her balloon... but she wanted to be sure the folks back home saw her effort....

(with thanks to my favorite photographer)


Tomorrow brings a new adventure

Yes, friends and neighbors, something new is going to take place on our property.  OK, not new in the history of the property, just something that has not happened since we've owned it.  
Don't get  your hopes up, it isn't that big a deal, but at this time of year I'll take any kind of adventure that comes my way.  
And so will you.  
By the way, I want to thank my readers for not tweeting or sharing the entry that told the world what my shoe size is.  I salute you!  

Got shoes, got tomatoes

I didn't go very far in my search for shoes this morning.  An anonymous commenter suggested I go to Walmart and buy a pair of Dr. Scholls.  Got to Walmart, tried them on, bought them.  Oh, I'm not done with my search for the perfect pair of shoes, but these are much more comfortable than the New Balance shoes I've been suffering with for months.  I figured for thirty bucks, I'd give them a try.  I'm keeping my list of shoe recommendations for future reference.  
There's something else I've been looking for:  flannel pajamas.  Not that there aren't plenty of them around, but good grief!  Since when do people pay twenty to thirty dollars for flannel pajamas?  
J. C. Penny has a lot of stuff on clearance today, so we went there; the cheapest marked-down flannels they had were $16.  I refuse to pay more than $10, so I may very well end up sleeping in sweats before this winter is over.  
I did get a coat worth the money, though.  Cliff said he's tired of looking at that long, red coat I've worn for three years, so he helped me pick out a new one.  If you need a coat, this is definitely the time to buy one.    


On to the subject of tomatoes:  My garden really let me down last summer, most of the tomatoes rotting on the vines before they got up to any decent size.  I didn't have enough to can, but I was able to try something new with the few extra tomatoes I managed to save.  I washed them, cut out the stems, put them in gallon bags, and froze them.  To use them I just immerse them in water for a little while and the skins come right off; they are then ready to be used in soups and stews.  The only drawback is that until you get them thawed, you don't really know how much you have.  I'm getting to be a pretty good judge of how many it takes to make two cups full, though.  
My tomato patch also redeemed itself by providing me with fresh tomatoes clear through November.  All my efforts weren't in vain.  

The shoe quandary

Back around Thanksgiving, I asked for my readers' suggestions for a comfortable shoe.  The New Balance athletic shoes I have now are so uncomfortable, I can feel every inside seam where they were sewn together.  So, although someone suggested New Balance, I won't be getting any more of those.  
I may as well go ahead and tell you that I wear size 11 wide.  Try finding that size shoe in the women's section of the shoe department:  It isn't easy.  The obvious solution would be to buy a man's shoe, size 8 or 9.  But when I can get my size in a women's shoe, they just fit better and feel better than a man's shoe.  I have no idea why.     
"Anonymous Lurker" suggested I go to Nike's online store, where they still have a model by the name of our old favorites, Oceana.  Unfortunately, because of my shoe size, they don't have much of anything that would fit me.  Even if they had my size I'd be afraid to order something I haven't tried on, because Nikes tend to run a little smaller than other brands.  
Paula suggested Earth shoes.  Karen likes Aravon, but we'd have to travel quite a distance, into the heart of Kansas City, to find those.  Margaret recommends her Brooks Ghost running shoes.  
One of my most faithful commenters, Taryterre, suggests Danskin shoes.   Small Farm Girl says Asics are the only shoes that don't hurt her feet, and Pat likes her Sketchers.  Kathy suggests Rockport brand walking shoes.  
I'm going to do some online research on all the brands you folks have recommended (except the New Balance), and Cliff may be taking me shoe-shopping today.  I'll let you know how it works out.  I see there are stores at Independence Center selling some of these shoe brands.  Oh, and if anybody has a favorite brand that hasn't been suggested yet, feel free to leave a comment here.  
Don't worry, if your brand doesn't work out for me, I won't hold it against you.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Things that make me go "hmmm".

I don't know when I added the little buttons that show up at the bottom of each and every entry I put on this blog, but I do know I am the one that added them; they didn't show up miraculously by themselves.  I suppose I added them thinking one day I'd do an entry that would be so thought-provoking, so loaded with wisdom, that somebody would want to share it with all her friends.  The buttons make sharing easy, and of course I want the world to have a chance to sample my vast knowledge.  Right.


Yeah, these little buttons.  I took this screenshot at the bottom of yesterday's entry.  You can scroll down and see it for yourself, if you like.  Bottom left-hand side.  
My entry yesterday was quite humdrum, nothing remarkable in it at all.  It was about Cliff waxing a car, for heaven's sake, with the usual picture of my dog thrown in.  
As you can see, seven people shared that on Facebook, and one person tweeted it.  
Now, I sometimes share something on Facebook that I've read on a blog, but usually there is something special about what I'm sharing.  A lady has cancer, for instance, and is showing extreme courage in her writings.  Or somebody reflects on how proud he is of his child, and why.  I'll share that.  And of course a blog post that makes me laugh out loud is worth sharing, because we need all the laughs we can get as we journey toward the grave.  
But an entry about a guy waxing his car?  Seriously?  You have Facebook friends who would be interested in this?    
So, because I'm retired and have plenty of time to ponder such things, I inspect each line of the shared entry closely in hopes I'll figure out why people share a particular entry of mine on Facebook or Twitter.  
Did I perhaps make an embarrassing typo?    
Maybe some guy was amazed at how neat and clean Cliff keeps his shop, because people do remark on that a lot.  That might make it worth sharing.  
Maybe one of my female readers wanted to let her husband know that it is possible to have such an orderly shop, so she put it on his wall with a note that says, "Here, dummy.  Look at this and then go clean up your shop."  
Perhaps they tweeted it with a note added that says something like this:  "Can you believe some idiot woman is wasting my time blogging about her husband waxing his car?  Check it out!"
The next entry down the page has five Facebook shares.  It's where I'm talking about the weather.  THE WEATHER!  
So.  If you are one of those who shared one of those entries on Facebook or "tweeted" them, I'd like an explanation.  Because I'm curious like that.  


*added later:  Somebody already tweeted THIS entry, and didn't take the time to tell me why.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

In Cliff's shop

Cliff washed the car yesterday.  Today he is waxing it.  


When we were newlyweds, he washed and cleaned out his car every week or two, and waxed it every month or so.  These days tractors get most of his attention, but he still keeps the car looking pretty good.  

Twelve ounces of this stuff costs $34.95.  Cliff says it's worth it; he makes it last quite a while, using it quite sparingly.  That's Glare polish, in case you are interested (and wealthy).

I bought this hair-remover glove at the Walmarts today for three bucks, hoping it might get rid of some of Iris' loose hair.

It got rid of some hair.  I also have a Furminator, but it seems to hurt Iris, so I hate to use it on her often.  

If you click on the above picture to make it larger, you'll see Iris dozing in her favorite spot in the shop, right beside the wood stove.

 See how shiny the car is looking in this picture?  You can see my guitar case in the background; Cliff always has his satellite radio going, and I decided to strum along to the country music on Willie's Roadhouse.  My fingers need to get toughened up.  By the way, this is not where Cliff parks the car; it is kept in the garage next to our home.


On the way back to the house, I noticed the two young cats all snuggled up on the cows' hay.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunny days



According to weather.com, the next ten days are filled with sunshine, with just a couple of "partly cloudys" thrown in.  Lots of highs near fifty degrees, no precipitation in sight.  So far I don't see it getting warm enough for a wintertime motorcycle ride, but it could happen.  A lot of bikers try to sneak in a ride on New Year's Day, just to get the year started off right.  I think we'll pass.    
After the past two winters, I'm fine with no snow.  It's pretty, but we've had our share.  An open winter would be nice.  
We've had loved ones in and out of the house for the past two days, snacking and chatting.  Unexpected presents have shown up.  People we care about are keeping their heads above water, which is sometimes hard to do at this time of year.  I'd say it's been a good holiday season for the family.  A good year, in fact.  
Our daughter has established a new family tradition the past couple of years, dispensing with the big Christmas dinner of the old days.  I have to say I like the change:  she and her family have sort of an open house all day, with seasonal snacks and treats contributed by anybody who wants to bring something, although a contribution isn't required.  It's low-key and informal and a perfect way to finish up with Christmas.  It fits our family just fine.  


I wish each of you, my readers, a lovely Christmas day that suits your style.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas fun (and my surprise gift from a reader)

Since we got out of the whole gift-trading thing, Christmas is very relaxed and enjoyable around here.  
Yesterday evening the daughter and her husband dropped by, right after grandson Arick and his girl friend, Heather, came over (with a nice little surprise for me, bless their little pea-pickin' hearts).  We thought Cliff was never going to join us; he had some Craigslist people outside, talking his leg off.  Unfortunately, they didn't buy anything, but that's OK, because Cliff got a lead on a local tractor club he plans to join.  
We all sampled the goodies I made, and had a wonderful visit.  
I opened my gift from New Jersey tonight, and of course I'll share it with you.  First, the note that was inside the Christmas card:



If I'm not mistaken, Vicki is the same person who sent me an egg beater that belonged to her mom.  I have used that egg beater three times in the past couple of days.  
Oh, the gift she sent me?  


This cute little item is made out of bird seeds, and I know there are going to be some happy birds around here when I hang it outside.  
I have had so many lovely comments lately on my entries, and I appreciate every one.  Nobody has a nicer bunch of readers than I do.  


Cliff was very happy the gifts I bought him.  
He and I were shopping a couple of weeks ago and he started looking for a certain kind of shirt.  "It's that kind of shirt Pat wears," he said.  
Pat is our brother-in-law, and I have never paid attention to what kind of shirts he wears, so I was no help.  Cliff didn't find what he was looking for that day.  However, Pat and Charlene were visiting last weekend, and I quizzed them about his shirts.
"Oh," he said, "you mean chamois shirts.  If you're going to buy one, be sure to get the nine-ounce chamois."  

He and Charlene named some places that carry that kind of shirt.  They warned me that they usually cost around $40 each.  
Sunday I did a Google search and found a great deal at Gander Mountain:  nine ounce chamois shirts that were normally $39 were marked down to $24.99, and there was no charge for shipping.  
I ordered two that evening.  Monday I got an email saying they had been shipped.  Wednesday morning the package arrived.  
Cliff unwrapped his package tonight, and he is a happy camper; he now has some nice, warm, snuggly shirts that will last for years, according to his sister.  
So far we are having a wonderful Christmas!  Tomorrow we'll spend some time at our daughter's house eating all kinds of snack foods.  It's gonna be a good day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Perhaps what a future Christmas will be like for me?

I received this in an email from cousin Edna.

A Senior Christmas
’Twas the night before Christmas at Rock-Away Rest,
And all of us seniors were looking our best.
Our glasses, how sparkly, our wrinkles, how merry;
Our punch bowl held prune juice plus three drops of sherry.

A bed sock was taped to each walker; in hope
That Santa would bring us soft candy and soap.
We surely were lucky to be there with friends,
Secure in this residence and in our Depends.

Our grandkids had sent us some Christmassy crafts,
Like angels in snowsuits and penguins on rafts.
The dental assistant had borrowed our teeth,
And from them she'd crafted a holiday wreath.

The bedpans, so shiny, all stood in a row,
Reflecting our candles magnificent glow.
Our supper so festive -- the joy wouldn't stop --
Was creamy warm oatmeal with sprinkles on top.

Our salad was Jell-O, so jiggly and great,
Then puree of fruitcake was spooned on each plate.
The social director then had us play games,
Like “Where Are You Living?”  And “What Are Your Names?”

Old Grandfather Looper was feeling his oats,
Proclaiming that reindeer were nothing but goats.
Our resident wanderer was tied to her chair,
In hopes that at bedtime she still would be there.

Security lights on the new fallen snow
Made outdoors seem noon to the old folks below.
Then out on the porch there arose quite a clatter
But we are so deaf that it just didn't matter.

A strange little fellow flew in through the door,
Then tripped on the sill and fell flat on the floor.
Twas just our director, all togged out in red.
He jiggled and chuckled and patted each head.

We knew from the way that he strutted and jived
Our social security checks had arrived.
We sang -- how we sang -- in our monotone croak,
Till the clock tinkled out its soft eight-p.m. stroke.

And soon we were snuggling deep in our beds
While nurses distributed nocturnal meds.
And so ends our Christmas at Rock-Away Rest.
’fore long you’ll be with us, we wish you the best.

Author Unknown

myths

Cliff and I have a three-month trial of HBO going right now.  The last time I downgraded our channels to save money, they threw that in for free, hoping, I suppose, that we'd get hooked and keep it (to the tune of $15 a month).  
That isn't going to happen.  There are SO few movies that hold my attention.  We paid $6 to watch "The Help" on Pay-per-view this week, and it was well worth it.  But a movie has to be really good if I'm going to waste time on it.  Thanks to the Internet, I have a short attention span these days.  
The thing about HBO is that even though the package consists of about ten channels, the same movies are rebroadcast on all those channels over and over again, so that before long, I've already seen the few shows that would interest me.  
Yesterday there was one movie that was worth my time, even though I saw it years ago:  Fargo.  Oh, it's a bloodbath, but it is so well done!  
Why am I rambling on about movies?  Because Fargo begins with these words scrolling down the screen:  "This is a true story.  The events depicted in this film took place in 1987.  At the request of the survivors the names have been changed.  Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred."  For years I believed that!
It's a lie.  Check it out HERE.   Or, you can watch the credits at the end of the movie and see this statement in tiny print:  "No resemblance to any persons living or dead."  
There's actually more of a grain of truth in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" than in Fargo.  I never saw the remake of the chainsaw movie, just the old one from the 70's.  It was so ridiculous it was laughable.   
Which brings me to emails.  Some people seem to believe anything they read in emails, and then they forward the falsehoods to everybody they know.  
There's the story that John Wayne accepted Jesus on his deathbed.    There is some truth in that one, since he converted to Catholicism toward the end of his life, but the story you'll read in an email is all dressed up in lies.  Because we love the Duke, don't we?  And we love a good story with a happy ending.
What is it about soda cans that inspires so many lies?  If you've received an email warning you about soda cans in any way whatsoever, it's probably fiction.  Oh, and those pull tabs aren't worth anything, either, except for their aluminum content.  Check out the dozens of myths about pop cans HERE.  
I can't believe people are still forwarding emails about a "virus that will wipe out your hard drive!!!!!"  
Anybody who has an antivirus and keeps it updated won't have to worry much about a virus.  Besides, most of the email warnings you read are about some virus from three or four years ago that is no longer a threat.  
Can you unlock your car door with a cell phone?  No way.  Is your personal information on your motel key card?  Nope.  
But if you'd rather accept all the garbage that comes your way in emails as fact, go right ahead.   
As for me, I'll go to Snopes and check out those little gems, unless it's so far-out that any fool would know it's a lie.  Then I won't bother.   


One thing I've learned over the years, most people don't want to hear that the emails they're sending out are fabrications.  So I don't usually tell them; I just hit the delete key.  


But don't you DARE tell me there's no Santa Claus!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas goodies

I haven't gotten a tree.  Yet.  I don't really plan on it, but if one should present itself to me, I'd probably grab it.  
One of Cliff's favorite Christmas treats is those pretzels dipped in melted almond bark; it's a goodie I had never made in my life, easy as it is; but this year, for the first time, I did it.  Then there's this:


CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS
 from COOKS.COM

1 box Ritz or Wheat Thins
1 (12 oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pkg. almond bark
1 jar peanut butter

Spread peanut butter on 1/2 box of crackers. Top with remaining crackers. Melt chips and almond bark over low heat. Dip crackers in chocolate/bark mixture. Let cool on waxed paper. Refrigerate.


Since I was playing around with almond bark anyhow, I also did this one.  I only made half a recipe, because my underwear is already getting tight, and Christmas isn't even here.  These things are REALLY good!  I know you can buy chocolate almond bark and simply use that, but the chocolate bark I've seen in the store is imitation, so I used the above recipe.  I always feel cheated when I get a taste of imitation chocolate.  
I intend to make a cheese ball tomorrow, and some cranberry bread.  That will probably be the end of my Christmas cooking.  This will, of course, be followed by our annual tradition of starting our New Year's diets, which will last, at best, until the Valentine candy shows up on the shelves at Walmart.  
You may recall that I wanted to get Cliff something to unwrap on Christmas Eve, since a stranger sent me a gift in the mail.  I ordered his gift on Sunday, it was shipped on Monday, and I received it yesterday, Wednesday.  And that's with FREE shipping!  It is wrapped and I placed it in the corner beside my gift.  Now we each have something to open.
Here's the bad part about gift-giving, and one of the reasons we dropped out of that scene:  I showed Cliff his package and said, "Now you have a present to unwrap."  
He said, "Oh great, now I have to go out and get you something."  


And that, my friends, is what's wrong with Christmas giving.  Once you feel obligated to get somebody a gift just because they gave you one, the whole spirit of the thing is ruined.  


But that's just my own humble opinion.    


You know, it just occurred to me:  What if that gift in the mail is from a stalker that actually HATES me?  What if it's a stink bomb or something AWFUL?  
Oh, wait, the person put her return address on the package.  I think I'm safe.  


Note:  Cliff read this post and said, "All right, I'm not gonna buy you a present then!"  
He got the message!


Now you can read an anonymous comment on this post where someone called Cliff a Scrooge.  Either that person isn't too familiar with my blog, they are pulling my chain, or they are as bad as me to "open mouth, insert foot".   My longtime readers know Cliff is all heart.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hamburger stew

OK, I'm now getting requests for the recipe for hamburger stew.  Folks, there is no exact recipe; it's SOUP, for heaven's sake.  It's nothing more than vegetable-beef soup, using browned ground beef for the meat.  You can pretty much make it the way you like it.  However, I did an entry a couple of years ago telling how RuthAnn told me to make it; you'll find that entry HERE.  
I won't be making much hamburger stew this winter because I have an abundance of soup bones from the last steer we butchered.  

Another Facebook reunion, and a song I wrote

Back in the 80's I worked at an apple orchard packing apples, most autumns.  The job didn't pay much, but it gave me a little Christmas money and got me out of the house for several weeks; I enjoyed it.  
One year I had a co-worker named RuthAnn Odell who lived just across the river.  When she and I worked side by side, we'd chatter away, and I picked up on bits and pieces of her life, enough to write a song about her.  
I ran across her name on Facebook recently and sent her a friend request.  She didn't remember me at the time, but she added me as a friend anyway.  
Clarissa, a Kansas City area lady who used to have a blog I read occasionally, is also a Facebook friend.  We were not personally acquainted, just blog buddies... although we later met briefly when I let her mushroom-hunt on our property.  She was one of the first people I friended on Facebook, as well as her mother (whom I found out I worked with in the 70's... small world indeed).  Clarissa was raised in the same area where RuthAnn lives, and her mother still lives there.  
Yesterday on Facebook I mentioned how RuthAnn Odell was the person who explained to me how to make hamburger stew, tagging her so she'd see the comment.  Clarissa commented on that, saying, "How many more people do you know that I know?"  
Stay with me here, I know this is getting confusing.  
Now, it's not so peculiar running into RuthAnn after all these years; we've probably been in the Richmond Walmart at the same time and didn't know it.  But I haven't written songs about that many people.  I mentioned the song to Clarissa, and she expressed disbelief, so I hunted it up, and RuthAnn gave me permission to share it.    
I remember the tune, but I am always reluctant to do a Youtube video of me singing and playing because my guitar skills are not that great.  OK, a six-year-old could do better.  My voice isn't so hot either, but I don't worry about that, because most great folk singers have crappy voices.  
Anyhow, I'll share the lyrics and you can make up you own country tune.  
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ms. RuthAnn Odell; this is her story, but this is my song:  




RUTHANN
Donna Wood, copyright October 1, 1988

The first time she got married, RuthAnn was just a kid
And really not responsible for everything she did.
Her husband started cheating when her little girl was two,
And leaving was the only option RuthAnn ever knew.
Transplanted to Missouri at the tender age of ten,
She'd still go back to Memphis to see Grandma now and then.
She's a little bit a Yankee and a little southern belle,
And she'll never get so old that she can't raise a little hell.

Chorus
Horses are her fancy now, and she rides all the time;
She's learned that everything works out somewhere along the line,
And she won't take any nonsense from anybody's man.
It's surely been a pleasure just working with RuthAnn.

She stood outside of Graceland with a group of girls she knew
And it happened one September that a teenage dream came true.
The King came out to greet them and he smiled and shook her hand!
That's still a treasured moment in the memory of RuthAnn.
The second time she married she was wiser, with the years,
But she kept her sense of humor through the laughter and the tears.
She says that she'll breathe easier when all her kids are grown
But they always will be welcome if they want to come back home.

first chorus, then...
Ordinary people doing ordinary things...
That's what I like to talk about and what I love to sing!
If I'd have known her longer then I'd have more to tell,
But it's here I'll end my story about Ms. RuthAnn Odell.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Odds and ends

One of my Kansas City Internet friends, Kevin, remarked in a comment that he just couldn't believe I was such a brat as a child.  
Kevin, believe it.  Oh, I didn't do dangerous things.  I was actually very moral, and believed God was watching every move.  I didn't lie.  I'd didn't steal.  I wasn't destructive. 
But I had a mouth on me that wouldn't quit.  Now, for the first twelve years of my life, my parents were switchboard operators in small towns.  So if my mom asked me to do something and I sassed her, or simply refused, she might come at me, but she couldn't leave the switchboard for long unless Daddy was there to take over; somebody might make a phone call, and they had to go through "Central" to do so.  So, I'd yell something at her, or refuse to do some simple thing: she'd get up and head toward me, and I'd go running outside, far far away.  When we lived at Eagleville, sometimes I'd climb up in a Box Elder tree so she couldn't get to me.  Oh, I got spankings, serious ones; they just didn't seem to do a lot of good.  
Normally I wasn't asked to do chores of any kind (can you say spoiled?), but if I was asked, I'd make a terrible scene and refuse, even if we had a houseful of company.  That's the kind of brat I was.      
The brat still lives inside me, but nobody these days tries to make me do anything I don't want to, so she slumbers peacefully.  Anybody who REALLY knows me will vouch for this, but I wouldn't put them on the spot by asking them to testify to the fact.  Of course my readers don't see this side of me.  Do you think I'd let let a brat take over my keyboard?  Not on your life!  
As Ree Drummond would say, "I'm just keepin' it real."    


I have had two different people say they'd like to buy Max, Bonnie's calf, when he's ready to butcher.  So if the first person backs out, I have a backup buyer, which is nice to know.  If Bonnie never comes back in heat, Max has eight more months before he is ready.  If she were to come in heat today and be bred, he'd only have seven months.  At this point, I've pretty much resolved that she isn't going to start cycling.  After a lifetime of dealing with cattle, you learn not to get your hopes up on things like this; it only leads to disappointment.    


Last night Cliff and I watched the Christmas episode from the first season of "The Andy Griffith Show", then the Christmas episode from the second season of "All In The Family".  Finally, we watched "It's a Wonderful Life", my all-time favorite.  That movie always reminds me that, even as bratty as I was (and still am), I've made certain marks on the world that aren't so bad.  When the movie ended, I told Cliff, "Now I'm wanting a Christmas tree!"  
But we probably won't get one at this late date.  Trust me, if I want one badly enough, Cliff will see that I get it.  He wouldn't want to stir up my inner brat.  



Here's my life's theme song.  Sing it, Dino.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A voice from the past

When I was a kid in Eagleville, Missouri, my world consisted of school, church, and family.  In many cases, these areas of my life overlapped.  For instance, Uncle Leo's kids went to the same school and church as I; they were in all three groups.
Last night I was surfing on the Eagleville.com website; I came across a conversation several of the readers were having about the old telephone system where my parents were operators, and saw a comment by someone named Marla, whom I remembered from the old days.  Facebook was mentioned in the thread of conversation, so I sent Marla a friend request.  
Now, I've always been a peculiar person.  You've probably figured that out.  As a child, I did not have close friends.  I was a mouthy, spoiled brat, so there wasn't a lot to draw people to me; I'm pretty sure my relatives wondered if I'd make it to adulthood without ending up in prison or the nuthouse.  However, I had "church friends" and cousins.  Those are the kids that have to play with you whether they want to or not.  God bless every one of them!  
Marla and her sister Judy were among my church friends.  
So after Marla added me as a Facebook friend this morning, I told her about my fond memories of her mother, Lois, playing guitar, and she and her sister harmonizing to a song called "Keys to the Kingdom".  I told her that Lois was the first person I ever heard singing the song "I Knew an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", and I  have sung it since to every child who entered my life who would sit still long enough to listen to it.  
Before I go on, I want to remind you that my favorite genre of music is folk.  I go to sleep at night listening to the self-created folk station on my Pandora radio.  I love the old-timers like the Carter Family and Jimmy Rogers.  


Marla didn't know all that, but because I told her how well I remembered her mother's singing, she shared an Internet link with me.  I clicked, and to my amazement I was able to hear the still-familiar voice of Lois Percell.  
Isn't it strange how things like this so often seem to happen around Christmas?    
Now I can't decide whether to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" or get my poor neglected Gibson out of the case and sing.

Plans for Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow

Since I want to move my rant down the page a bit, I'll talk about this:  Bonnie should have started her heat cycles when her calf was a month or so old.  He's past four months now, and we've seen no signs of heat.  Cows, by the way, come in heat every 21 days, give or take a day; it isn't hard to tell when they are in heat.  
Bonnie owes us nothing.  She's filled the freezer with beef twice.  She's provided most of our milk and a lot our butter since she gave birth to her first calf.  
Sometimes cows just stop cycling.  Sometimes they cycle, but fail to breed.  I'm sure there's a cause for either of these situations, but it would be expensive to delve into that cause.  So I just take what life hands me and make the best of it.  
Normally Bonnie would be bred by now.  I would wean Max, her calf, about two months before her next calf was due.  We'd butcher Max at that time, or else sell him.  We plan to sell, in this instance.  That money would go a long way toward financing a trip to Wyoming.  If Bonnie isn't bred, we'll probably go ahead and let Max nurse her a couple months longer than usual.  Then we'll sell Bonnie (and her calf, if we don't have a private buyer at that time) at the Kingsville sale, where she'll probably be bought by some big buyer and end up as ground beef in a supermarket somewhere.  That's how things go in the country.  That hamburger you grill at home was somebody's cow, steer, or bull at some time in the past.  
This gloomy picture is made brighter by the fact that Jody, who is over six months old, can be bred shortly after she becomes a yearling.  So in eighteen months or so, I should have another cow giving me milk and presenting me with a calf each year... hopefully a heifer calf or two!  Also, we plan to attend the Kingsville sale tomorrow, and you never know when a cheap, bred Jersey cow will go through that ring.  
As Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars says, "You never know WHAT is going to walk through that door!"

Everybody has a diet plan

And none of them seem to work, at least for me.  Every once in awhile I'll look at some new book on the market and realize it's just the same old stuff, wrapped up in new packaging.  
One thing that a lot of experts seem to agree on lately is that the low-carb plans seem to work.  Unfortunately, Cliff and I are addicted to carbs, and we already eat too much meat; we have no business adding more to our diet.    
What has worked in the past for me and Cliff is just plain old portion control, along with ditching the fried foods and desserts.  There have been times we lost weight like crazy, just because I stopped cooking the fatty stuff and began measuring portions.  
The worst problem with Cliff is that he wants either bread or crackers with everything he eats.  Lentil stew is wonderful stuff, but it's sort of a vegetarian chili.  Chili requires crackers (even for me).  
Right now we're on the old Christmas binge anyhow; I'll be making a cheese ball at some point this week... here we go with the crackers again.  But it will soon be time to pay the piper, and I'm already trying to formulate a plan.  Part one of the plan will be to stay away from Pizza Hut; this is getting easier, since their pizza just isn't as good as it used to be; they're scrimping on cheese.  


And now, a rant.  I have never watched a single Dr. Oz show, one reason being that Oprah is the one who made him famous, and I don't intend to put her in charge of my life.  Who set her up as a health expert?  Remember how many times she told her audience she had a miraculous new way to lose weight?  And remember how many times she put all her lost weight back on?  Yeah, just like I've done so many times.  
Anyhow, I suppose I have no right to rant about a show I've never watched, but it's my blog and I'll rant when I feel like it.  
I've heard (and seen on the Internet) people quoting Dr. Oz as though he were some sort of god (usually people who have more headaches and health problems than the average person, so his advice must not work so well).  Seriously?  You are getting your medical advice from somebody on television?  Somebody who believes you can talk to the dead?  A guy who has a psychic on his show and actually promotes him?  
And now he's teamed up with Weight-Watchers.  I'm sure there's money in there for him somewhere.
Give me a break.  


My blog, my opinions.  Feel free to comment, but please keep it civil.  



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Steak, baby. It's what's for breakfast.



We shouldn't be eating so much red meat, or for that matter, meat of any kind.  When it's free, though, it's hard to ignore.  We have resolved to sell my cow's next calf, even if we're getting low on beef.  When the time comes, though, I'm not so sure my resolve will hold, because this beef is prime stuff, and I've learned proper ways to cook it.  
I get all excited when I manage to cook a decent steak:  I never learned proper methods because we've never bought steak.  It's so expensive, and if I ruined it, that would be a lot of money thrown away.  Since we started having our own meat butchered, I've learned how easy it is to cook a good ribeye, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with a sirloin.  
Last time we went to St. Louis, we took Cliff's sister and her husband some sirloin steak.  His sister has been somewhat under the weather and they didn't plan to leave home, so she took a package of sirloin out of the freezer Friday, planning to cook it Saturday.  Later they decided, with her doctor's permission, to make the trip to Kansas City for Pat's family Christmas get-together.  Charlene didn't want to leave the steak unthawed in the refrigerator for two more days, so she brought us back our steak.  (How many steaks to you know of that have made the trip to St. Louis and back?)  
Cliff's next-door sister, Rena, is cooking spaghetti for dinner today and we're invited, so I said to Cliff, "I'm going to experiment with this sirloin; what do you think about steak for breakfast?"  
I'm sure you can guess what sort of response I got.  
I went to THIS SITE and read the various instructions.  I cut the sirloin into serving-sized pieces, dug out my meat hammer, and used the flat side of it on the meat as instructed.  Just for insurance, I sprinkled some tenderizer on the portions.  I did not use a marinade as the site suggests.  I chose method number 7 on the article for our steak, and followed it precisely.  
"Frying sirloin steaks is a popular cooking method. Turn the heat on high and sear both sides of the steak. Turn the heat down on medium low and cook the steaks on each side for 3 to 4 minutes until they reach your desired taste."
If I told you how tasty and tender that meat was, you wouldn't believe it.  I am now confident enough about this method that I wouldn't be afraid to serve it to guests.   

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My readers

Vikki commented on the previous post, asking me if I ever get second thoughts when a reader asks me for my address.  
Any readers who have asked so far have been long-time readers and commenters, and I was very comfortable sharing my address.  Honestly, it isn't all that hard to find somebody's address on the Internet if you know her name, and most people who regularly read my blog know my first and last name.  Zabasearch is the easiest method of finding someone's address, but I removed our names from that years ago.
I've had surprisingly few problems with readers of my blog.  Back in the old chat room days, a mentally troubled woman somehow got my phone number and called to "straighten me out".  She was attempting to straighten several people out at the time, as I recall, and even caused considerable problems in one lady's career.  That's probably the most uncomfortable Internet experience I've had.  
I don't get many negative comments on my blog.  Let's see, one was left by a guy from the old chat room: I had mentioned a gay blogger friend in an entry, and the guy said something like  "You call yourself a Christian" or something on that order.  I guess he thinks Christians aren't supposed to have gay friends.  (By the way fellow, if you are still reading me, I have a couple more gay Internet friends than I did back then.  As far as I can tell, it isn't contagious.)  


Then last winter after one of our heavy snows, I shared a picture of our house, snowy front yard, snow on the roof, and captioned it "my home, in the snow".  Some Kansas City reader who, of course, remained anonymous (coward), commented, "You call that a home?  It's a f***ing double wide!"  
Well, first of all, it isn't a double-wide; we couldn't afford a double-wide.  Second, anybody who thinks "home" has to consist of a fancy dwelling is not worth worrying about.  Remember the corny old poem that begins with the line, "It takes a heap of living in a house to make it home"? 
So, in eight years of blogging, that's about the extent of my negative experiences.  Two of these came from old chat room folks, so I'd blame those incidents on the chat room, not the blogging experience.  Meanwhile, I've "met" some wonderful friends online who enrich my world.  
Blogging is a perfect medium for me.  I don't make friends easily, I'm a loner.  I'm too lazy to put forth the effort it takes to maintain longtime friendships.  I'm not after fame or a huge readership, because again, I'm too lazy to put forth the effort it would take to keep things interesting.  I sit at the keyboard, type as the thoughts come, and usually publish the drivel without proofreading.  I'll read it later, or Cliff will read it, and discover all the errors I've made; then I go back and fix it.  
Because I'm lazy.  
Anyway, Merry Christmas to all my readers.  Thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin, and for not judging me for my weaknesses.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

A surprise gift

Yesterday we went to see Cliff's Aunt Gertrude, who is in the hospital at Jefferson City.  She has asthma, and they don't seem to be able to find anything to help her, except to give her breathing treatments every three hours.  Typical of her, though, she looked bright-eyed and happy, and kept trying to carry on a conversation with us until the coughing interrupted her.  I asked her if she had a good appetite (she always has had), and she replied, "Oh yes, the food is so good here, I eat like a horse!"
That's the kind of lady Aunt Gertrude is.  Who talks like that about hospital food?
  
Then we drove about thirty miles down the road to visit with a couple of Cliff's paternal cousins, Edna and Junior.  Junior cracks me up; he walked into the sandwich shop where we had agreed to meet and said to the waitress, "Give me a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey."
 A couple of years ago he had three little part-time jobs, and Cliff asked him if he was still working three jobs.  
"No," says Junior, "I only have one job now that I work real hard at."
"What job is that," Cliff asked.
"Keeping my recliner held down on the floor."  
It was a good day.  


When we got home, the mail lady had been here and left a package outside for me.  It was from someone in New Jersey.  It's a good-sized box, and it was wrapped in brown paper.  I thought to myself, "Have I ordered something from Ebay lately?"  
I haven't, not for months.  
Now, any time I receive a package in the mail, I turn into a child again.  I hefted the box to check its weight (very light), and brought it inside to open it.  The excitement was building.  I noticed the word "FRAGILE" on it.  
Beneath the brown paper, I discovered that the box was wrapped in Christmas gift-wrap.  
Well, I have a rule that I don't open a Christmas gift until Christmas Eve.  
Since we got off the gift-exchange merry-go-round years ago (thank goodness), I don't usually have much, if anything, to open.  Last year our daughter gave us each a home-made gift, so that's what we opened.  There is something about opening a present on Christmas Eve, isn't there?  
Thanks to Sitemeter, I know I have a regular visitor to my blog who lives in New Jersey... but how would she know my address?  
Well, whoever it is, and it may not even BE a blog reader, I love getting a surprise gift.  Don't worry, I am not expecting the Hope diamond to be in there.  But it's rather nice to see that package over there in the corner.  Now I'm thinking I should get a little something for Cliff, so he'll have something to open too.


If you think I'm silly to think one of my readers sent me something, I want you to know it's happened many times.  One reader gave me a year's subscription to Reader's Digest.  Another sent me a string of bubble lights for our tree.  A dear lady in Maine sent us a box of country-type, farm-y magazines that she was done with, knowing my husband and I would enjoy them.  My friend Jessica surprised me not long ago with an old 1975 souvenir from Dogpatch, in Arkansas.  So yes, it happens every once in awhile.  And each time it does, I turn into a kid again.

Because it's the season




I never get tired of watching this video.  Most of my readers have probably seen it; I've shared it here on my blog, and also on Facebook, more than once.
Perhaps you didn't know that the little boy getting all the attention is Ernie's son, Brion, who died in 2008 at the age of fifty-six.
Ernie was much loved.  He had a great variety show on television; he ended every episode with a hymn.  Big shots at the TV station didn't want him to do this, but he insisted that was something people liked, and he stood his ground.  The closing hymn became one of the most popular features of the show. Ernie recorded several albums of hymns.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who thought Ernie was a wonderful Christian man, but his son Jeffrey Buckner Ford says in his book that they never darkened the door of a church when he was growing up; they didn't say grace at the table.  They were not a religious family in any sense of the word.
Jeffrey's book shattered several of my illusions about Ernie.  
However, when I watch this video or any others that feature Ernie Ford, I can't help but love him.  His TV persona was a great guy, no matter what he like in real life.  When I think about Ernie, I'm taken back to a simpler, happier time.





For a brief history of Ernie Ford, click HERE.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pioneer Woman came to me in a dream.

Folks, I am seriously not making this up.  Last night I dreamed I was at Ree Drummond's ranch.  I met Ree, Marlboro Man, and one of the girls.  (The girls look a lot alike, and after all, it was a dream, so I'm not sure which one; but at my request, she took a picture of me with her mom.)  Evidently  I spent the night at the ranch, because I was there as Ree was making breakfast.  Unfortunately, I woke up before breakfast was ready.
Just my luck.  
So I pondered this dream, and what might have brought it on.  
I've been following Ree's blog, "The Pioneer Woman", since back in the days when she only had about 50 comments a day and talked about calf nuts and panties a lot.  (Not in the same entries, of course.)  Honestly, I feel as though I know her, so that alone could have caused the dream.  
Now, if you are one of those people who gag every time you see the words "Ree Drummond" or "Pioneer Woman", just move along.  There's no need to leave a comment.  You have your opinions, I have mine.  
Back to the dream:  I took an over-the-counter sleeping pill last night.  I suppose that might have been responsible for the dream, although those pills don't usually cause me to dream.  
And then I realized:  Ree has a Christmas show coming up on Food Network this Saturday!  Not only that, but she has a new cookbook ready that comes out on March 13.      


She wants me to spread the word!  Can you believe I'm getting subliminal messages from Ree Drummond?  In my sleep?  


Her show airs this Saturday at 11 A.M. central time, but it will be repeated a few times.  Click HERE for all the times.  To see what she as to say about her new cookbook, click HERE.  




I'm not making it up about the dream.  You know, they say if you tell a dream before breakfast, it will come true.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Scruples

Evidently I've lost some of mine, but Cliff's scruples are in fine shape.  
Someone we know went to the World War I Museum Sunday.  I was asked if we wanted to use their tickets, because the tickets are good for two days.  Since the museum is closed on Monday, that meant we could get in free on Tuesday.  We went to bed Monday night making plans to go to the museum.  
As we were getting ready to go yesterday, Cliff said, "I don't feel right about using those tickets."  
I told him I had no problem with it.  One reason I was glad for the free tickets was that there is no more money budgeted for that kind of thing this month. 
Now, when I talk about "no money in the envelopes", please don't think we are poverty-stricken.  We have some money in checking, and there is money in Cliff's billfold.  However, it isn't a budget if you keep breaking the rules.  Besides, a week from today the envelopes will all be full again; we can cut corners until then.  
Cliff has even offered to "loan" me money from his stash, and I could pay him back next Wednesday.  I won't do that because it would mean I'd be starting out behind next payday.  
So we didn't say much more about those tickets, but I knew I had to come up with some money, or Cliff would be uncomfortable all day.  So I got the two rolls of quarters I'd been saving for whatever frivolous thing might come up and handed them to Cliff.  
"Here's the twenty bucks for our admission."  
"Why are you giving me this?"
"Because if you don't feel right about it, it isn't right."  
The lady in the gift shop where we bought our tickets seems to think it was a little strange that two old fogies were paying her with a couple of rolls of quarters, but that's OK.  
Cliff got to keep his scruples.  
Uncle Sam is giving us a raise in January.  Between the two of us, we'll have $100 more a month.  Yippee!

Inside the World War I Museum

Horses were used a lot in the Great War.  Although this shows four horses, actually six were used to pull a caisson.  They were guided not by reins, but by men who were riding them; thus, the saddles. 


Airplanes played a small part in the war.




This thing is a far cry from the Bradley my son was in, back during Desert Storm.  There's a video you can watch that shows a guy driving a restored tank like the one in the picture.


 The war began in 1914, but the United States didn't get involved until 1917.  Once they plunged in, they put out plenty of propaganda to get everybody involved.  


Even back then, there were Harleys.  




There are dozens of firearms of various kinds displayed, but Cliff and I agreed this was our favorite.  We want one, just because it looks so cool.  Not that we'll every be getting one; we've heard they are highly collectable and very expensive.   


We spent about five hours there yesterday, and still didn't see the special exhibit that shows World War I from the German soldier's viewpoint.  Our tickets are good for two consecutive days, but we really don't want to spend two days there in a row.  
If you ever have a chance to go, this is a museum that is well worth visiting.  


As we exited the parking lot, I saw something strange ahead of us. 
"Look Cliff, that looks like a bunch of tents!  What are there tents set up in the middle of the city?"
I thought of my camera after it was too late, but what we were looking at was the Kansas City "Occupy" bunch.  The video above was made in September; the camp looked much colder and damper that this yesterday.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Something to do on a rainy day

Cliff and I have visited the World War I Museum before, but there was plenty of stuff we didn't see, so today we returned.  We arrived around 10 o'clock; unfortunately, so did three busloads of middle school kids.  We got herded in with them, and I have to say, it was a little scary.


So we got to watch the opening movie with some of the kids.  The movie tells a little about how the big war got started.  
We toured the place until noon, went out to the car to eat our lunch, and returned to the museum.  We still didn't see every single thing, but at three o'clock, Cliff said, "We'd better get out of here, or we'll get stuck in rush hour traffic."  
"But I wanted to pay a quick visit to Union Station," I said.  
Cliff was pretty sure we could walk there, so we asked a guy who works at the museum.  He told us how to get there.  
It looked like a long way down there, and there was light rain falling.  Wow, look at all those city geese.


I made up a new game on the way, a game called "See if you can keep from stepping on the goose poop."
After jaywalking across a couple of streets, we arrived at Union Station.  


Cliff said that tree must be twenty-five feet tall, but I told him I'm pretty sure it's twenty-seven-and-a-half feet tall.


Santa was at the end of this hall.  Since I haven't been a very good girl this year, I didn't wait in line to see him.


Then we had to jaywalk again and walk ALL THE WAY up a hill to Liberty Memorial.  Whew.  Oh well, we needed our daily walk.  


And while rush hour had started when we headed home, there were no delays.  It's been a pretty good day, for a rainy one.

Television news

Ever since we've had a DVR, we have made a habit of recording an hour or so of the morning local news. Our choice was Fox 4; it seems like they advertise twice as much as any other local channel, but we enjoyed watching their news team kid around.  They gave us a lot of early-morning laughs.  
That all stopped when their weatherman died.  I'm no longer using his name in any posts, because I don't like the Google searches that lead people here when I mention his name.  
After his suicide, Cliff and I immediately stopped recording the morning news on Fox 4, and switched to Channel 5.  We attempted to watch their news for a couple of days, but I don't think we've even looked at it for a week now.  I may as well stop recording the morning news altogether.  
I've been getting my weather forecast on the Internet at weather.com.  As for news, I don't pay much attention to the stinkin' depressing news anyhow, although I do get some news updates from local TV stations on Facebook.  Oh, and then there's Tony's Kansas City, and KC Confidential.  The comment sections on those two blogs are a real study in human nature. 


So I'm thinking Cliff and I probably aren't the only ones who abandoned Fox 4.  I'll bet their ratings are in the tank. 


This has nothing to do with my post, but I found it on Facebook and felt like it's a good reminder.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wash day (and a knee update)

Or "worsh day", as some of my aunts used to say.  It's cloudy and around forty degrees, heading for a high in the mid-forties.  I'm doing laundry and hanging clothes on the line.  My fingers got a little nippy, but otherwise it isn't too bad a day for handling wet clothes.  Google tells me it costs thirty to forty cents to dry one load of clothes in an electric dryer, so at most, I will save $1.50.  Oh well, it's something.  A penny saved is still a penny earned.  
I am down to thirty bucks in my grocery envelope with nine days until Cliff's payday.  I have a list that will probably use $20 of that, but I still think I'll manage without robbing other envelopes.  I'm also making a list of things I'm getting low on that I will buy after we've gotten our funds again.  These are things I would buy this week if I had an unlimited amount of money, but they can wait a few days:  Toilet paper, facial tissues, and so forth.  I think four rolls of toilet paper will last us nine days.  I buy that thin, cheap stuff, you know, but it lasts a long time.
   
I hate to throw food scraps away, and back when I had chickens or hogs, I didn't have to; those critters would eat almost any sort of table scraps except potato peelings.  It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that the barn cats would probably eat most of our garbage.  We don't have that much.  Well, I've found out they'll eat anything a pig would eat.  This morning I took out a couple of bread heels and two left-over biscuits, and the three cats actually fought over them!  
We've lost two of our feline stalkers; the young cats now stay at the barn when we take our morning walks.  Leave it to the younger generation to fizzle out and let the older folks carry on.  Only Mama Kitty still accompanies us on our walk, when she's at home.  She was gone for three days last week; I can only hope she wasn't out tomcatting.  Of course, that's going to happen some time or other.  You should have seen her devouring her food the morning of her return!  


Here's an update on my knee, for those of you contemplating a knee replacement:  I feel pretty much normal now; the knee no longer swells, even when I'm on my feet a lot, and I haven't needed so much as an aspirin for quite a while.  Cliff says he forgets I ever had surgery, since I'm very much back to my old routine and actually, I sometimes out-walk him.  The only time my knee gets stiff is when we ride for long distances, but all it takes is a few steps to get the stiffness out, once I'm out of the car.  At this point I have no problems and no complaints.  I'm supposed to see the orthopedist in February, but I'm going to cancel, since all she ever does is have a couple of x-rays taken, have me stretch out my leg, tell me to continue my exercises, and ask if there are any problems.  Then I end up with a bill for $50 because Medicare Plus doesn't pay for all of it, and I'm left thinking, "Why am I going back?"  
My right knee, which used to give me as much trouble as my left one, is obviously afraid it's going to be replaced, because it doesn't give me the slightest twinge of pain these days.  One of my home therapists told me this sometimes happens:  You get one knee replacement and the other knee gets better!  Doesn't make sense to me, but so far, so good.