Sunday, January 31, 2016

Slowly but surely, she's learning to trust.

Remember Luna, the heifer calf named for the full moon near her birth last October 26?  Even though she was too young to wean when I sold her mother on New Year's Day, I kept her.  Because she had been running free beside her mother since birth, she was "wild as a March hare".  

My main concern was to somehow keep her from getting the stark-haired, puny, pot-bellied look that most early-weaned calves get.  I offered her a bottle early on, but she showed no interest whatsoever.  A two-month-old calf can't be forced to take a bottle, especially if she's so scared of humans that you can't get within reach of her.  My only option was to give her all the calf starter she could eat, which within two weeks was two large coffee-cans full daily.  At that point I stopped increasing the amount, because I do have my limits; she still gets two cans full, though.  She looks well-fed and healthy a month after being orphaned, so I guess I'm doing the right thing.  

My second concern was getting her gentled.  We put a halter on her as soon as her mother was gone, just so we'd have a way of restraining her or working on her if necessary.  So far the only thing I've done with the halter is to loosen it twice.  That's twice in a month, so she IS growing!  However, eventually I'll start tying her up for an hour or so at a time to get her halter-broke.  I'm waiting until she builds a little more trust.

The frigid temperatures over the early part of January worked in my favor, since Luna's bucket of water froze often.  Three times a day I'd carry warm water out to her, and she was soon waiting expectantly for her drink when I showed up.  I'd pour the water on top of the ice to melt it and step back; she'd go right up and start guzzling.  

When she began cleaning up all the feed in front of her and had to wait until I showed with more, it wasn't long before she figured out I was also the one responsible for putting feed in the empty bunk.  By this time if I shut the door to the barn when she was eating, I could walk up to her and eventually pet her and rub her neck.  Oh, she would walk away from me, but if I stayed right beside her and kept following her around, she would stop and allow herself to be handled and petted.  She's still somewhat touchy that way, but she's better all the time.  I took Cliff to the pen with me today so he could take some pictures of me with Luna, but with two people that close she figured it was a trap, and we didn't get a decent picture.  Later on I went out with my camera and managed to take a few pictures to show you that she is, indeed, coming around.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Recently a certain young lady who shall remain nameless was discussing the problem of a ring in her bathroom stool that refused to be cleaned off.  I told her how I discovered the wonders of a pumice stone, which easily and quickly gets rid of rust stains, hard-water rings, and so forth.  

Horrified, she said, "You mean you put your hands down in the water in the stool?!?!"

I had to collect my thoughts a bit before I told her, "Well, I guess you don't have to; you can just use the end of the pumice stone to scrape, and you'd be holding onto the other end."  

What I was thinking was, "What's the big deal about that?"

I raised two babies who only ever wore cloth diapers; disposables were just being invented when my daughter came along.  Wet diapers went straight into a diaper pail half-filled with water and detergent.  A poopie diaper was baptized in the bathroom stool and sloshed up and down.  Not only did my hands dip down into water in the commode, by the time I was finished they were flailing about in a genuine poop soup.  I'd hold onto the diaper and flush and, if it didn't need further rinsing, I'd wring it out with both hands and place it in the diaper pail.  Then I would flush again, and of course, thoroughly wash my hands.  

Now I'm thinking about the time some people who shall remain nameless had a grandchild visiting at their house and, when she needed changing, found they were out of wipes, which they seemed to think was a disaster.  Finally they resorted to using a couple of washcloths for the cleanup; They threw them in the garbage when they were through.

We didn't have wipes when my kids were babies.  We had washcloths, and nary a one got tossed.

Now, I tend to feel "holier-than-thou" on matters like this, but I realize it's just a different time, and we all follow the customs of the society in which we live.  For instance, if I explain to younger folks that all I had for a rest room when I was a kid (until I was twelve) was an out-door toilet, they cringe.  Especially when I tell them that you could look down in the holes and see a pile of everybody's poop down below.  In summer there were always spiders, and sometimes a snake lurking.  In winter?  You haven't felt a genuine draft until you are sitting in the outhouse when your bottom bared to the frigid winter air; and what a nuisance to have to put your coat on just to go relieve yourself.  Thank goodness for the covered chamber pot under my bed in winter!  Kudos to my mother, who took the pot to the toilet to dump it, and then scrubbed it clean.  

As I was pondering these things this morning, it made me wonder how my grandmothers rinsed the poop out of diapers, or even my mother when I was a kid.  With no indoor water, all water was brought into the house in buckets.  I suppose they had a certain dishpan or something for diaper-rinsing, but then they'd have to toss the stinky water outside or in the slop bucket on the back porch, and then clean out the pan so it wouldn't stink up the house.  

Now that I think about it, what did the Native Americans use for diapers two hundred years ago?

It's a wonderful time we live in.  

However, if someone dropped a baby on my doorstep to raise, that child would wear cloth diapers.    

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Multiple Personalies

If you didn't think I was nuts already, this will probably push you in that direction, but don't blame me:  I got the ideas from a book entitled "Skinny Thinking".  If you click on that title it will take you to the author's website; when you get there you will say to yourself, "Oh great!  It's just another diet come-on that is going to ask for a lot of my hard-earned cash.

I haven't spent a penny on anything you find for sale on the website.  When I first got the book it was free for Kindle, which is the only reason I got it.  I see it's ninety-nine cents.  I've never gone to the workshops nor bought the lessons.  In fact, there are parts of that tiny little book I've skimmed over without even reading.

This entry isn't about diet or losing weight though.  It's about one simple concept that should help me do other things besides just eating right, and here it is.  All of us have three individuals within:  The Child, the Critic, and the Wise Witness.  I have let the Child run the show most of my life.  She tells me things like this: "Go ahead; you deserve it."  "Life is short, and you're not getting any younger.  You only live once!"  

There is also the Critic.  This is the part of me that, when I decide it's time to make some improvements in my life, whether it's eating properly or just being nicer to people I have a problem with, says, "You know you can't do that!  You've tried and failed in the past, and here you go again, setting yourself up for another disappointment." 

Of course the child then takes the ball and runs with it, because she didn't want to change anyway.  Win/win.

When I first discovered this book, I found one tip that really, really helped me with losing weight.  When I'm on the right track and the inner Child (I often call her the Brat) starts throwing a hissie fit for some ice cream or pizza or a second serving of chili, I just bring the Wise Witness forward to tell her this:  "Not now.  Maybe later."

Somehow if the Child knows that she'll eventually get what she wants it, she is content to wait (and she will, only not as much as she thinks she wants, nor as often as she wants it).  And she has a short attention span, so by the next day she will have forgotten about even wanting it.

Hang in there, this may turn out to be a long post.

So this morning I was talking to God about my inner selves and said to Him, "Why can't I take that same concept that works with my diet and use it in other parts of my life just as successfully?"

He didn't answer, of course, but I mulled it over.  The Child wants everybody to act in whatever way she thinks they ought to.  She's a hypocrite.  It's OK for her to do whatever makes her happy, but being an introvert, if somebody else makes a misstep, she just cuts them out of her life.  Who needs them anyway?

The Child decides to try and be a good little girl because she has memorized that verse in the Bible about throwing the first stone, but in spite of her intention a judgmental thought comes to mind and the Critic steps in and says, "See there?  Once a hypocrite, always a hypocrite!  A tiger can't change her stripes."

Maybe the principle works better with eating habits because I eventually see results:  My pants are looser, the numbers on the scale are getting progressively less.  I can't tell the Child "Not now, maybe later", because if you're going to be a nicer person, you can't go deliberately plan to go back to being a naughty person later.  

Of course, you can always get back up after you fall, which is what we need to do:  Forgive ourselves and go back to doing right.

That's about as far as I got with this thought process, but going back to God I said, "You know what the trouble is?  I like the Child!  She's cute and funny, and it's a blast watching her do whatever she wants!  (By the way, when I picture the Child, I see a picture of me as a two-year-old.)  

All this was pretty much a waste of time, both my time and God's, not that He has a problem with lack of time, because I found no real solution  But it was interesting to think about, and maybe eventually this thought process will lead me onto higher ground.  (I can already hear the Critic in the background, laughing.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I'm a Woman!

We love our Amazon Echo, whose name is Alexa:  They didn't give us much choice for a name, it was either that or Amazon, I think.  I use her for a timer, and as a way of adding groceries to my shopping list.  But mostly, I make her play my Pandora stations.

The thing I probably enjoy most is that with our Amazon Prime account, I can ask her to play almost any random song, even a golden oldie, and she will do it.  Sometimes I'll catch myself singing a thread of an oldie song to Cora and realize I only know one line.  "Alexa," I'll say, "play 'Blueberry Hill'."

Or Jailhouse Rock or Cora's favorite dance tune, Barbara Ann.  Cora's speech isn't quite plain enough to command Alexa herself, but she when she makes a command and fails, I repeat it and Alexa plays.  Cora's all-time favorite is Old McDonald, which she requests as "Ee-I-ee-I-oh".

Yesterday out of the blue I began singing "I'm a Woman".  I know the chorus and one verse, but I wanted to hear the whole thing.  As it turns out, I had to buy the song by Peggy Lee, because it wasn't available otherwise.  It didn't cost anything though, because with Amazon Prime, if you choose not to get your free two-day shipping, you get a credit for digital downloads.  Anyway...

I wonder if most of my readers are familiar with the song.  I imagine if nothing else, some of you recall a commercial that featured it.

Anyhow, I got the song, commanded Alexa to play it, and had to laugh out loud at the words.  This has to be one of the greatest pieces of word-crafting ever!  (That line with the "shiverin' fits" cracks me up.)

I can wash out 44 pairs of socks and have 'em hangin out on the line
I can starch & iron 2 dozens shirts 'fore you can count from 1 to 9
I can scoop up a great big dipper full of lard from the drippins can
Throw it in the skillet, go out & do my shopping, be back before it melts in the pan
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again
I can rub & scrub this old house til it's shinin like a dime
Feed the baby, grease the car, & powder my face at the same time
Get all dressed up, go out and swing til 4 a.m. and then
Lay down at 5, jump up at 6, and start all over again
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again
If you come to me sickly you know I'm gonna make you well
If you come to me all hexed up you know I'm gonna break the spell
If you come to me hungry you know I'm gonna fill you full of grits
If it's lovin you're likin, I'll kiss you and give you the shiverin' fits
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again
I can stretch! a green black dollar bill from here to kindom come!
I can play the numbers pay the bills and still end up with some!
I got a twenty-dollar gold piece says there ain't nothing I can't do
I can make a dress out of a feed bag and I can make a man out of you
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, and that's all.
There's a really good Youtube video of Peggy Lee singing this, but it wouldn't allow me to embed it on the blog.  So I chose this not-so-clear one from the old Johnny Cash show.

Plugging along

Each time I get us back on track with our eating, I use the Sparkpeople website. Over the years I have added many of my own recipes, so it's pretty easy to keep track of all the foods we regularly eat.  If you type in all ingredients of any recipe you use, even your own creations, and add how many servings that recipe makes, the website will figure calories per serving for you and you can add that food at any time with one click.  When you put the recipe on the site, it takes a little time to do it, but it's there forever.  Abandon Sparkpeople for two years, return and sign in, and all your recipes are there.  

Perhaps abandoning the site is the reason we never seem to make it more that two years!  

Along with calories, you can also track most any nutrient you want; add a nutrient you would like to keep track of and it will be on the daily tally forever unless you remove it.  

What I've noticed is that it's very difficult to get the recommended amount of protein, and I eat some meat most days.  Fiber is another one that's difficult to maintain at the proper level... also magnesium and potassium.  

This shows my nutrient goal on the left, followed by my intake for the last seven days.  Notice how seldom I actually meet the minimum daily suggested requirement for protein.  The calcium levels are pretty good due to the fact that I take a calcium pill daily; also a magnesium pill, although I had forgotten to add that to my daily grouping of pills (which can be added each day with one click) until today.  I take a fish oil tablet, a multi-vitamin, a calcium pill, and a magnesium pill, and all of them are figured in my nutrient total.

In light of the fact I have meat almost daily, it amazes me that my protein comes up lacking.  That makes me wonder how on earth vegetarians get their quota.  

It doesn't worry me, because my parents didn't have a lot of meat in their diets and my mother lived into her nineties.  Daddy might have lived that long too, had it not been for lung cancer.  He had a very strong heart.  

Here's what I ate yesterday.  Have a blast laughing at my "dinner", but that's what I usually have for supper every night.  Cliff has a salad or Lean Cuisine dinner.  I do go to bed hungry at night, but I turn in early and eating that sort of supper works for me.  For the same calories I could have a Lean Cuisine dinner, but I like the nuts.  I can make them last a long time!  Oh, if you wonder what's up with all that cream?  That's how much I use all day in my coffee, it's just easier to add all of it at once.  Gotta have it!

This is probably of little interest to anyone but me, but it's what I have for today.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I can walk!

I've never been totally unable to walk, of course, except during most of my first year of life.  But about two years ago, I had to stop going for those brisk walks I'd taken for years.  My knees just couldn't take the pounding.  Four years ago I had a knee replacement on the most painful knee, my left one, so I could once again go for my walks.  For a year or so, I took my walks; then the replacement knee started hurting just as painfully as before the surgery.  Obviously, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have the surgery.  As I understand it, nine out of ten people who have knee replacements are thrilled with the results.  My good results just didn't last.  Truthfully, though, I don't know many people who have had the surgery who challenge their surgical joints by walking vigorously for forty-five minutes daily, so maybe I should have just turned into a couch potato.  But hey, I could have done that without having surgery.  

I've had people insinuate that I probably didn't do my therapy as I should have.  Believe me, I did.  

One of my pet peeves is hearing others who are happy with their new knees tell me, "If you had gone to MY orthopedist, you would have had better results."

Really?  How do you know this?  I think I just happen to be that one person in ten whose results weren't the best.  Get out there and pound the pavement for an hour every single day and see how happy you are with your replacement.  End of rant.

And now, on to my topic.  Arthritis is a strange and unreliable thing,  The pain will sometimes get better or worse for no apparent reason.  Cliff and I have discussed this a lot.  Either of us can be in pretty extreme pain with "old Arther" for six months or a year, and then one day we realize that we haven't had to take a Tylenol or Ibuprofen for weeks.. it just happens.  Of course we've seen it go the other way, but personally, I always thank God for the respite.  I'm never pain-free, but if it's enough improved that I don't think about it all the time, I'm grateful.

I stopped taking any sort of supplement for arthritis some time ago and was expecting to have more pain, but this just happened to be a time when I started feeling better.  I'm sure it had nothing to do with ceasing to take glucosamine; I've started and stopped taking it many times in the past.

For years, Cliff and I went for walks in our pasture together, unless it was pouring rain.  Even in single-digit temperatures  It's amazing how quickly your body warms up when you're walking briskly.  As long as I kept moving, my feet didn't get cold, either.  I used to walk alone along the highway, but after Cliff had open heart surgery, he joined me; that's when we took to the pasture.  He kept on walking for a while after knee pain stopped me, and then one of his knees started to get gimpy too.  He tried to push through the pain, but alas, he just couldn't do it.

This is the first time we've attempted to get back on track with our eating habits without being able to walk for exercise.  Notice how I refuse to use the word diet, because that implies it's a temporary thing.  It has to be permanent, something we can live with; I think the closest we've gotten to "permanent" is a couple of three-year stretches, but maybe some day we will stay with it.  

Anyhow, not being able to do any decent exercise, along with our being older all the time, means the excess baggage is really slow to leave.  I'm putting in fifteen to twenty minutes on the stationary bike, but in my opinion it's a pathetic excuse for exercise.  Oh well, "do something, lest you do nothing" is my motto.

On an unseasonably warm afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was meandering around the yard and thought, "I wonder if it would put me out of commission if I just walk to the back of the pasture."

Off I went, and made it just fine, although admittedly, that wasn't such a long walk.  Still, it's the first time I had gone back there under my own steam in a long time.  

Yesterday I decided to take it further and see just how much of our old walk-in-the-pasture I could do without paying consequences.  However, I resolved just to mosey along, because I know if I went at the pace we once did, it would batter my knees and I'd be hurting for days.  It's bone on bone, after all.  OK, the artificial one isn't, and I have no idea why it hurts exactly the same as the other one.  But it does.

I poked along at about the speed one uses when window-shopping, taking over an hour to go the distance that used to take thirty minutes.  But I suffered no undue pain afterward, and I felt no worse for the wear when I got up this morning.  

I don't intend to make this an every-day thing, but just the idea of getting out in nature once or twice a week thrills me.  I have missed it so much!  I especially need it in wintertime, because sitting in the house constantly really gets to me.  

I know "Old Arther" will be on the upswing at some point, but while I can, I will be going for an occasional walk.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter is in full swing (ramblings)

Cliff and I tell one another that winter doesn't seem as long these days, because when you get to be our age, all time flies.  And yet, January and February always find me wishing for spring.  My mom used to say, "Don't wish your life away", and that's really what it amounts to, but it's harder to live in the moment this time of year.  

Speaking of my mother, the other day I recalled how she would say somebody was having a "conniption fit" and asked Cliff if he was familiar with the term.  He was, but neither of us remembered hearing it since we were kids.  I looked it up online and lo and behold, there it was... "a fit of rage, hysteria, or alarm".  I even found an explanation of the difference between a hissy fit and a conniption fit.  By the way, after writing this paragraph, I notice that spell-check approved of conniption but not hissy, wanting me to change it to hussy.  

Things that make you go "hmmm".

Thanks to a smart TV in the living room and a Roku in the bedroom, we have plenty of shows to watch in the evenings.  I discovered a couple of television series' we'd never watched that ended their run long ago: "NYPD Blue" (on Amazon Prime) and "West Wing" on Netflix, which our grandson Brett generously shared with us so we pay nothing for it.  Both of these shows had long runs, so we will be watching them for awhile.  We're in the eighth season of NYPD Blue and just started the other one.  We love them both, especially West Wing.

I'm reading, of course, although the last two "real books" from the library were not my style and I probably won't finish either:  "The Dog Master" is just downright silly.  I've read two books by this author that I really liked, both from a dog's point of view.  This one, though is supposed to be telling how primitive man first tamed the wolf, the ancestor of the modern-day dog.  Once I got to the part where a boy and girl in love wanted to get married but needed the permission of the boss-woman of the tribe, I was done.  I have trouble people that long ago married at all, and I doubt many of them were faithful to one partner.  I'm thinking they all bred like rabbits.  The other book I'm struggling with, "Code Name Verity" is probably a good one, but it's confusing to me and I'm tired of forcing myself to plug on.  Yesterday I got notice in email that a book on my waiting list was waiting for download to the Kindle, so I began that one.  It grabbed my attention right away, but it's a horror story!  I don't like to read those!  For lack of anything else, though, I probably will go ahead with it unless I get too scared, because it does hold my interest.  The book is "The Heart-shaped Box", and it begins with a man buying a ghost on Ebay.  (Insert an evil laugh here.)

Oh, guess what?  I recently found out I have tinnitus, and I'm enjoying it.  Cliff has been plagued for many years with a loud ringing in his ears; it's a real curse.  But my version isn't a ringing, it's a sound like the buzz of outdoor insects on a spring night that makes me feel like I'm sleeping at the cabin I used to have in the woods.  I don't know when, or even if, I would have noticed this except for my thirty-minute meditation time in the mornings.  I guess it's because my mind is quiet and resting with no thoughts allowed to disturb me at that time.  Anyhow, the other day the furnace stopped running and in the quiet following, I heard far-off crickets and cicadas and for a minute thought I was going nuts because... in the winter?  Yeah, I'm not supposed to be thinking, but some things have to be noticed.  I shoved the thought away and pulled it out later in the day.  Now that I'm aware of it, I hear it all the time.  I just hope it doesn't get any louder.

That's all the craziness for this entry.  


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This kid

Cora always takes a nice nap after dinner.  It is seldom more than fifteen minutes before she's zonked out, usually less.  Today was a different story.

She has a head cold, which hasn't made her a bit sick, but keeps her running for the tissues.  She can blow her own nose now at age 2 1/2, although the snot doesn't always end up on the Kleenex.  I gave her a dose of the decongestant her mom left this morning, thinking it might help un-stuff her nose so she could sleep better.  Ha!  

We went through the usual before-nap routine:  Potty?  Check.  Baby doll?  Check.  Favorite blankie?  Check.  Shades pulled?  Check.  Pandora playing soft lullaby music on the Roku?  Check.  

I generally lie down with her until she's fast asleep.  If she seems a little restless I tell her "hush" and "close your eyes" and she rolls over and is gone.  

Not this time.

Cora got in my face and asked me if I missed her, which she says all the time, even though I'm with her.  I gladly accepted a hug and kiss and told her, "I can't miss you when you're here with me.  Go nite-nite".  

For an hour-and-a-half she stood on her head, did somersaults, hid beneath the covers, undressed her baby doll, hung her feet and legs off the side of the bed, and ignored my pleadings to shut her eyes and lie down.  Oh, she'd shut her eyes tight, then peek through the little slits between her eyelids smiling.  At one point we heard Cliff rattling around in the kitchen and she asked, "What's that, Donna?"  

After ninety minutes of this, I got up and stood by the bed, looking at her.  She got up, picked up her blankie, and walked across the bed holding out her arms, smiling as I picked her up.  

Maybe she'll sleep really good for her parents tonight, because I sure didn't have any luck.  

We came into the living room where Cliff was reading.  "Here she is, Cliff,"  I told him.  "She's your responsibility now; she never did go to sleep and I've had it.  It's like she's drunk!"

"I'm not drunk Donna," she exclaimed, looking at me as seriously as though she actually knew what I was accusing her of.  

Life with a toddler is not for the faint of heart. 

I wonder what they put in that decongestant.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Disconnecting, sort of

I mentioned just before the New Year that I was going to trim down the time I spend on Facebook, and stop a lot of the useless posting and "sharing" things there.  So far I've been pretty successful at not sharing things that others post:  The inspirational sayings, some of which I love; the interesting news stories, for the most part, because hey, other people have the ability to watch the news, I just won't be the first one to tell them.  A couple of times I have caught myself seeing some inspirational thing that seems to hit the nail on the head and I catch myself in mid-click before I stop.  Where I used to do perhaps 15 updates or more in a day, I'm down to three or four, and one of those is a link to my blog entries.  I still do that because at one point I stopped, and several friends said they wanted me to post a link to blog entries because otherwise they forget to check for new entries.

I put the IPad down now if people are having a conversation, or if we have visitors or are the guests in someone's home.  This has not been easy for me, first of all because at least half the people around me are playing with a device during a conversation:  that's their business and has nothing to do with me, but old habits are hard to break and I want to join them.  Also, sometimes conversations lag and get boring, or are of no interest to me:  I get bored!  Poor me.

Now that I'm not participating in this behavior, I understand how alone and ignored others must feel when they are one of the few people in a group actually paying attention to what is being said, or trying to keep a conversation going when nobody is truly listening.  Even if you're just checking the phone and hear a little beep that tells you somebody texted you and then check it out, it's a clear sign you are more concerned about who might be contacting you than you are about the person in front of you.  Oh, you have kids and have to keep checking on them?  Somehow we survived without all this "connected" stuff until the late nineties.  I hope I don't sound holier-than-thou, because believe me, I am still struggling with this issue in my own life. 

Here's something though:  Yesterday a relative visited with his eight-year-old daughter, a little girl I get along with quite well.  We all had a nice visit in the house, ate (chili and potato soup), and visited some more.  Then the guys went to the shop, leaving me and the child alone for a couple of hours.  She and I talked and she showed me some dance moves and, in general, we had a good time.  But guess what?  When the adults went to the shop and I was alone with the eight-year-old, I got out the IPad.  Now, she was playing on an IPad too, and this younger generation is used to being half-ignored and half-ignoring others, so I'm sure she thought nothing of it.  

But does this mean that I don't consider a child worthy of my full attention?  I'm still pondering that, because I know she was content with what we were doing.  And yet at one point when she was attempting to do handstands, she looked at me and said, "Hey, you weren't looking; I almost did a handstand!"  

I'm doing my best to stay disconnected from the Internet now when Cora is here, although I could do better.  Every once in awhile I can't resist that siren call for another moment and I pick up the computer or IPad.  I make it brief, but it's still a distraction from the real world.  

Dear Lord, what's become of us?  Who ever thought we'd come to a time when we prefer the company of an electronic device to real, in-the-flesh, human beings?

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Variety meats

Truly, when it comes to meat in the freezer, this is the land of plenty.  Cliff and I shouldn't even be eating much meat; lately we have gotten back to measuring portions and, once again, changing our relationships with food.  

As a side note, let me tell you how great Cliff is doing!  When we started this business of "getting back on track", I gave him a stern lecture:  "It's up to you how well you do.  I am not going to be your mother or your jailer this time, telling you what you can and cannot have.  If I see you eating something that isn't what you should be eating, whether at home or away from home, I am not going to say a word."

He has exceeded my hopes!  He's on-board with me this time.  Any time he's lost weight in the past, he always gives me the credit for it.  This time he can pat himself on the back while he's at it, because he is making a gigantic, successful effort to police himself.  And now, back to the topic at hand.

We do go ahead and have meat most days, because what are we going to do with it?  Somebody has to eat it.  We do share with various relatives sometimes, but right or wrong, we are eating it.

Yesterday I was digging around in the freezer and, as usual, kept tossing beef hearts and tongues and liver out of my way while I looked for ground beef.  (At least I used up the ox-tail in some soup this week, so I didn't encounter any of that.)  

Years ago I cooked some tongue and canned it in the pressure canner.  It was delicious, actually.  It tastes like (get this) beef.  If we didn't have half a cow in the freezer, we'd appreciate it and eat it more often, but when you have lots of meat, tongue and organ meats go to the bottom of the list.  We love fried liver, but someone with heart issues shouldn't have it very often.  For that matter, people with weight issues shouldn't be having much of fried-anything.  

I decided to grab a tongue and do something with it, even if I had to freeze it after cooking.  While I was at it, I picked up a package of liver... do you know how many packages of liver you get when you butcher just one cow?  A LOT!  "If nothing else, I'll boil it and feed it to Titan," I told myself.  For those who don't know, Titan is the next-door grandson's dog.  

I pressure-cooked the tongue for an hour and put it aside to cool.  By the time I was ready to do something with it, the liver had thawed and, searching the Internet for a recipe, I settled on liver loaf, something I've never tasted... but do you know any other ways to use liver?  I don't.  

Judging by the recipe ingredients, it's definitely not diet food, but I thought I'd slice it and freeze it in serving sizes (if it was any good) for quick sandwiches sometime when I don't want to cook.  Here's the recipe, which I'm pretty sure none of my readers will be trying:
1 lb. liver, slices
3/4 c. boiling water
1 med. onion
1/2 lb. pork sausage meat
1 c. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. celery salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
4 slices bacon

Pour the boiling water over the liver and simmer 5 minutes. Remove the liver and grind with the onions through the meat knife of a food chopper. Add to the stock with the remaining ingredients except bacon. Place in loaf pan, top with bacon and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Now, by the time this stuff was ready to come out of the oven, it was four o'clock.  Cliff walked in the house just as I was taking a bite to see if it was any good, and said, "What's that?  It smells GREAT!"

I took a moment to chew and swallow and my little bite and answered him. "It's liver loaf.  Surprisingly, it tastes very good!  It's not as liver-y as I expected."  

And I gave him a small bite to sample.  

Now friends, when we are eating properly we are very hungry at 4 P.M., but we know it isn't long until supper.  If we're too hungry to wait, we go for an apple or banana.  But the smell was killing us, and the tiny taste only made things worse.  So we agreed to have a liver-loaf sandwich at five o'clock with one slice of bread.  It was delicious, although I'll admit at that point almost anything would have tasted great.  

Later I wrapped the rest in foil.  I'll probably put it in the freezer today.  I intend to slice the tongue and put it in the freezer in portions also.  If it were just Cliff and me, we'd have some for dinner today, but there's a possibility we'll have company.  I would never offer liver or tongue to guests.

Stay tuned for our next adventure in eating:  Pickled Beef Heart.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Cliff's Christmas present arrived today

Yes, it's late to be getting Christmas presents, but we didn't order these until Christmas Day.  Someone on Facebook shared a picture of some signs a guy makes to sell, and Cliff was almost drooling at the one that said "Oliver".  I urged him to buy it.  He insisted it was way too expensive.

"I think you should get that one and an Allis Chalmers one too," I told him.

"That's crazy.  Where would I put two signs in the shop?"

"Oh, you were planning to put them in the shop?  I thought maybe you'd fix them some way so they would attach to the the back of the Donna-carrier we put on the tractors that I ride in.  You know, switch signs depending on which tractor we're taking in the parade."

"I never thought of that.  That's a great idea!"  (See?  Sometimes I do get a great idea!)

So I contacted the guy, asked him to make a couple of changes in the Oliver sign so our names would be on it, sent the money through PayPal, and the deed was done.  

He doesn't only do tractor signs:  Here are a couple of pictures I downloaded to show you.  

The guy doesn't have a website, but if you are on Facebook and wish to contact him, just do a search for BarnArt Hopper.

We're going to be the envy of everybody in our tractor club!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


After recently stating here that the chickens were safe from the threat of being sold, I sold most of them.  I sold the five pullets, I think... I'll explain that in a bit... and received some cash and a rooster in trade.  I've learned that chickens sell fast on Craigslist; the first guy who called took them, and I got other calls even after I took the ad off.  The guy came from Platte City, which is no small trip.  I will admit I sold them cheap, ten bucks apiece.  I probably should have asked fifteen, but hey, I'm happy.  I sold all the young pullets that were just beginning to lay.

Here's the thing:  The older hens aren't on strike for all that long, and three hens lay plenty of eggs for me and Cliff.  Why feed so many that I don't need?  Which of course brings up the question, "Why get a rooster?"  

Well, I enjoy hearing a rooster crow in the morning.  The hens are happier with a rooster around, too.  And it's more fun to watch them all roaming about the yard, watching the rooster call them to him when he finds something tasty, even though he's lying half the time.  If you toss a crust of bread to the flock, the rooster will hurry to get there just so he can take the credit for it.

I kept three hens:  Mama Hen, who makes another reason I wanted a rooster, because I want the option of letting her hatch some chicks; Chickie, my pet Araucana; and the white leghorn-type hen a neighbor gave me.  She sold their flock, but this hen escaped the hunt, and thus ended up here.  I will know which hen lays each egg now, because one lays brown eggs, one lays blue-green eggs, and the other one's eggs are white.  The rooster is a lovely Araucana, reputed to chase small children.  He won't chase Cora but one time!

The reason I'm not sure whether I sold the five pullets is that they are all Buff Orpinton, like Mama Hen who hatched them out.  So they are identical to their mother.  The buyer and I went in the chicken house and caught those wild pullets one-at-a-time, and I think Mama Hen is the one remaining.  But I'm not sure.  

To further confuse the issue, I found a brown egg in the nest today.  It wasn't a tiny egg like the pullets had been laying, but it seems awfully early for hens to start laying again.  I didn't expect them to go back to work until late February at the earliest.  However, Chickie has also started laying, and there's no doubt about the fact that it's her, since she lays blue-green eggs.  

So that's the chicken story.  

Luna, the calf, is eating calf starter pretty well and drinking water.  She's still leery of me, but I can rub her sides and neck now without her acting like she's going to run through a wall.

I have mentioned lately that I have been starting my day with meditation.  I've wondered how many of my readers think I have gone totally berserk because of that.  Well, I happened to watch CBS Sunday Morning, one of my favorite shows, and there was a segment about meditation that confirms my own experience.  A man lists all the things it can do for you, and I will affirm that it's all true for me except for the "helps you sleep" part.  My sleep is still as crazy as ever.  I don't worry about it so much, though.  So there's that.

Monday, January 04, 2016

My newest project

Luna has been around for a couple of months, ever since her mother gave birth to her.  However, once Grace and the two Holstein calves she adopted went to their new home, she immediately became a project... and a bit of a problem.

This is nothing unexpected.  I knew it would happen.  Luna hasn't been handled by humans at all; she has run with her step-sister and -brother, nursed from mama when she got hungry, and enjoyed life.  The two Holsteins, getting the same treatment, were never really that scared of people.  But Luna was as wild as a March hare.

We had no problems getting the three animals I sold into the barn, and I was able to shut the door on them before Luna joined them; away the family went to their new home, leaving our wild baby girl alone in the small lot behind our barn.  Hope, the soon-to-be yearling heifer, was out in the big lot across the fence from her.

I really hate to wean Luna at two months of age.  The last calf I weaned that early, a steer, ended up ugly and pot-gutted, and I hate to see this classy little heifer turn out like that.  Unfortunately, the chances of getting a calf of that age to take milk replacer are slim to none.  Yesterday evening I took some out in a bucket thinking that if nothing else, the calf's thirst would make her try the stuff.  No dice.  Not only that, but I couldn't get within ten yards of her.  I needed her in a smaller space.  

This morning I got up at three, after sleeping sporadically during the night.  After drinking coffee for a couple of hours I bundled up and stepped outside.  I shone the flashlight beam around the little lot as I stood on the porch, and realized the calf must be in the horse stall, which we had left open for her.  Maybe I could sneak out and shut the door!  That would put her in a much smaller place where I could work on gentling her down.

No dice.  The snow thawed some and then froze back, creating a crust on top that crunches so loud when you walk through it that there was no way to sneak.  The calf came frantically out of the stall, bawling.  

I opened the door to the milking room of the barn and fastened it back, thinking maybe Luna would go in there out of curiosity.  Came inside to give her time.  Went back out, going the long way around so maybe she wouldn't hear me coming.  Sneaked to the front of the barn, only to have her look through the barn from her spot in the back lot and bawl piteously for her mom.  

It finally occurred to me to put the big tame heifer, Hope, in the barn.  I gave her some feed in a pan, left the back door open, and Luna was in like a flash, happy to see someone she knew and trusted.  I shut the door, let Hope out a side door, and Luna was contained in the barn.  It's a bigger area than I'd like, but there she is.

Notice Mama Kitty hiding from this terrorist in her domain
  I spent the better part of an hour just sitting on a stool talking to her and then walking around with her, talking.  I finally got to the point that I could rub and pet her all over, and I've been back out a couple of times to check on her.

I have very little hope of this calf ever taking milk replacer.  I'm keeping her away from water until this evening, hoping that if she gets thirsty enough she will drink milk replacer from a bucket and find out she likes it.  After that, I 'll forget trying to make her take milk and just keep water out for her.  She'll probably start eating plenty of calf starter once she figures out she's going to starve to death otherwise.  I may sprinkle some dry milk replacer over it, for what good that will do.

There was a time I would have gotten this heifer in a corner, straddled her neck with she and I facing the same direction, and stuck the nipple of a calf bottle full of warm milk replacer in her mouth; these days I wouldn't even attempt to overpower a calf this size.  Even if I could, I'm not sure she'd take it, but it would have been more likely than any of my options.  Years ago when I was raising calves, Steve Gates sold me a calf whose mother had died.  The calf was at least six weeks old.  I stuck him in a hutch, which enclosed him in a small space so I could wrestle him.  He was pretty wily.  I would stick a bottle in his mouth but he refused, every time.  Finally I got the tube-feeder and gave him his milk replacer that way.  I thought after a couple of times he'd take the bottle, but no.  For the next six weeks or so, I tube-fed that great big calf.  Not only that, he'd be waiting anxiously for his meal just like the other calves, but I had to climb in the pen with him, straddle him, and stick the tube down his throat to force-feed him.  At least he stopped fighting me, so it wasn't difficult any more.  I kept offering him a bottle occasionally, but he never would take it.  

So we'll see where this adventure leads.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Look in my window

One of my blogger friends, Sister-Three, likes to compare reading someone's blog to "looking in their window", which I think is an apt description.  The more I thought about it this morning, the more I agree.

I've had blogs I followed faithfully for years that eventually made me feel as if I knew the author:  You start seeing patterns in her days and learn the rhythm of her life (or his, but I only read three or four male bloggers).  Sister-Three's sister Patsy was one of those I felt I knew.  I loved her for her sometimes almost brutal honesty.  I never had to wonder how she felt about a person or a topic.  She died some time ago, but a couple of her relatives still follow my drivel, and I read their blogs.  

Back to this "looking in the window" comparison.  I can learn a lot about someone by looking in her window while she lives her life:  Is she a good housekeeper?  Is she rich or poor?  Is she religious or spiritual?  Does she like to read?  Is she lazy?  What sort of music does she like?  

But if that lady knows someone is watching her, she's going to be careful what she says and does with the shades up, or the blinds open.  So we bloggers, if we're smart, take care how we behave while we're in the public eye.  

I've had regular readers of my blog more than once tell me how wise I am, and I almost laugh out loud.  Trust me, nobody I know in real life has ever accused me of being wise, because they have seen all the stupid things I've done and bad decisions I've made throughout my life!  Obviously I've kept a few things in the back room, so the window-peepers can't see them.  And please stay out of my closet.  Whatever virtues you think I may have, I will guarantee that for each one there are several vices or imperfections in my storage room and closet.

When Ree Drummond first began blogging (The Pioneer Woman) , she was so real and charming and funny.  Now, of course, she has a TV show and is famous, and can't really have the fun with her blog that she did back then.  Ree picked up a lot of haters who actually started whole blogs about how they hated her and what was wrong with her.  They have gone to great length to discredit her, going so far as to find out about indiscretions of various relatives, right down to traffic tickets (who cares, and what does it have to do with her?).  They complain that she has used her blog to make money and, since she already had plenty of money, it must be a sin to make more.  They research her recipes online and accuse her of stealing them (aren't most recipes in the public domain anyhow?)  Since Ree wasn't disclosing all this stuff, that makes her a terrible person in their eyes.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  It's life.  It's a normal human trait to hold back a lot of information about yourself to others and we all do it.  

So welcome to my window, and enjoy peeking in.  Sometimes I might even invite you inside... just don't go down the hall or look in the corners too closely.

By the way, my windows aren't that clean.

Friday, January 01, 2016

No resolutions, I'll just take things as they come

I'm taking one day at a time in 2016.  I have started letting go of things that need to go, like my expectations of what I wish would happen.  Instead, I'm waiting to be surprised by life.  I'm still enjoying the Message Bible:  I'll read a passage first in King James, then in the Message Bible, so I'm able to to get something for myself out of both versions.  Psalm 105:4 is the verse I want to keep in mind throughout the coming year:  "Keep your eyes open for God, watch for His works; be alert for signs of His presence."

Good advice.

Yesterday I let go of Grace the cow, along with the two Holstein calves nursing her.  A man is coming to get them Sunday.  A year ago I was thoroughly enjoying my little herd and watching one cow raise several calves.  However, I find that I am not really enjoying these creatures now, they are just out there on their own, doing fine without my intervention.  I hardly even look at them.  Cliff takes hay to them.  He probably sees them more than I do, and the cows really aren't his thing at all.  Doing something just because I did it last year is no reason to continue, and every morning after meditation when my mind is quiet, the thought was coming to me that it was time to let go of Grace.  When I finally decided to do it, I had no reservations at all, and I have no regrets now.  I am keeping Grace's two-month-old heifer Luna, and I still have Hope, the 11-month-old heifer.  I am making no specific plans for them.  I will wait and see what my wants and needs are as time goes by.  

So far the chickens are safe.  Cliff is, too.  

My garden will shrink drastically; I've said that for the last four years, but this time I am sticking to that intention.  

God willing, we will celebrate fifty years of marriage June 14 of this year; I don't want any receptions or parties, it will just be another day.  We have a train trip to the Grand Canyon planned before long, which will be paid for by Grace-the-cow, although that has nothing to do with why I'm selling her.  

I would love to go to Colorado this year too, but I'm giving Cliff a chance to think about it and see if that's what he wants.

When we got married in 1966, I'm pretty sure there were a lot of people who would have been willing to bet we wouldn't make it a year; I know Cliff's dad was in that group, because he was vocal with his opinion.  We'd only known one another about six months.  We decided to get married the day before we did the deed, without any prior planning.  We were raised in families that were as different as they could be, except for the fact that neither his parents or mine had ever had much money.  

Yet here we are.  It's funny how life turns out.