Tuesday, June 27, 2017

the kid cooks, and then plays.

I've been allowing our little princess to help me in the kitchen for a long time, and it's finally paying  off.  Once a week she makes pancakes with my assistance.  Nowadays she doesn't make as big a mess, and goes as far as measuring some of the ingredients (pouring the milk into the measuring cup herself), cracking the egg, using my hand egg beater to mix the liquid ingredients, adding the liquids to the dry ingredients she has already mixed thoroughly, and stirring those together.  She scrapes the bowl as she stirs, like any good cook would.  She can name all the ingredients as I set them out for her:  flour, sugar, baking powder (sometimes she forgets and says baking soda), and oil.

She will soon be four years old, but it will be awhile before I let her do the actual cooking.  

I've had people online tell me I have remarkable patience, allowing her to do all this.  Well folks, I have a confession to make:  I'm a slob.  I barely keep house at all.  So here's the way I look at it:  How much is a little more mess going to hurt?

And does she ever LOVE eating pancakes!

On another note.  When little Princess arrived this morning, her parent was carrying a tote bag.  Once the bag was on the floor, I saw it was FULL of little toy things, similar in size to Little People figures.  My first thought was, "Oh no, something else to be strung around all over the house."  

As I was looking at it from a distance, she proudly announced, "Dalmatians!"

Trying to feign interest, I got up and went closer as she started removing them from the bag.  That's when my interest became real, because these were some of the cutest little things I've ever seen, and they are made plenty tough, so they'll probably last forever.  I don't know that there are 110 Dalmatians, but there are dozens of them, for sure.
Look at the detail!  Every single dog is different from the others.  Their legs are movable, so you can stand them up, sit them up, or lay them down.  I got down in the floor to play with them, although since they are new, the girl isn't sharing too well.  

Then Cliff got up.  He wasn't ready to get in the floor yet, so I brought in a cookie sheet the dogs could play in and do their tricks (yes, some of them do tricks.  

Thank you, Iowa grandma, for getting her these toys.  She loves them, and so do we.  Of course, they aren't staying here, but perhaps she will bring them another day and let me play with them.

Friday, June 23, 2017

"A Man Called Ove"

When I checked this digital library book out on my Kindle, I didn't realize the story was set in Sweden or I wouldn't have bothered.  I know I'm narrow-minded, but I like to read a book in which the characters use the same sort of currency I'm familiar with, and visit towns and areas I know.

After the first couple of chapters I was hooked.  Poor Ove couldn't kill himself no matter how he tried.  

This is one of those books that will make you laugh, cry, and experience every emotion in between.  Its my favorite of all the novels I've read in the past three years or so.  I don't think anyone would be offended by it, unless you don't like a minor character in the book being gay (I'm pretty sure homosexuality isn't contagious, especially just from reading about it), or if perhaps the word "bloody" seems like too strong a curse word.  Read the book, and learn that even the grumpiest curmudgeon can have a heart of gold.  And it all started with a mangy cat.

I bring up the book to tell you a story about Buttons, the cat.  He came here as a kitten with his brother Grady, who later disappeared (after we spent $70 getting him fixed).  Grady was playful and fearless and everybody's favorite.  We don't know if a fox got him or somebody took him because he was so amazing, but he is gone, and we were left with Buttons.

Buttons loves to park himself under the hummingbird feeder
When the kittens first arrived, they decided Cliff's shop was a great place to hang out.  I was a little concerned about the situation because Cliff has never been fond of cats, unless it's one that lives in the barn catches lots of mice.  But the little girl we babysit loved the kittens, so he endured the situation, even when I had to put a litter box in the shop after one of the cats pooped in the Oil-dry stuff under a tractor.  The two kittens immediately took to curling up in Cliff's favorite chair, although there are at least four similar chairs available.  Again, my husband endured the shame of being put out of his own chair.  Buttons still owns that same chair, although he doesn't spend nearly as much time in the shop as he used to.  

I was relaxing in the shade the other evening when I saw the grandson getting ready to close up the shop, and Cliff moseying toward the house.  Behind him, Buttons capered and romped, frolicking all around my husband and following in his footsteps.

I laughed as hard as I have in a long, long time.  You see, I had just read about the cat that Ove hated so much getting injured and finally being hauled into Ove's house to spend the rest of his days.  Cliff isn't a curmudgeon, but somehow a cat following playfully around him like that was almost too much for me to process.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Corps of Engineers Park

Sometimes Cliff and I take "our little punkin", as he calls her, for a four-wheeler ride.  Her favorite destination seems to be the little park down by the Corps of Engineers, near Napoleon.  I enjoy it myself:  It's a quiet, peaceful spot right on the bank of the Missouri River, with plenty of inviting objects for little climbers to conquer.  

Obviously it was a hot day; Cliff has a sponge on his forehead.  

I told my little buddy, "Step on a crack and you'll break your mother's back,",which she found hilarious and decided to step on every crack.  Some mothers get no respect.  

We usually spend 15 or 20 minutes and then head home.  

We all buckle up for the three-mile ride home.  

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

About Pawhuska, Oklahoma

"The town, originally known as Deep Ford was established in 1872 with the reservation for the Osage Nation, part of Indian Territory."  (Wilipedia)

"Other than cattle ranches nearby, local employment consisted primarily of a brick plant, a creamery, an ice factory, and a rock crusher.  The Osage Nation has opened a gaming casino here, hoping to generate revenue for the tribe."  (Wikipedia)

The headquarters of the Osage Indian tribe is located in the town of Pawhuska, and it takes up quite a large area of the town.  We visited the Indian museum, and I got what I thought was a perfect picture until I got it home and realized I must have moved while taking it, since it's slightly blurred.  Oh well, it happens. I was so excited at taking a picture of a real Indian, I was probably shaking.  

One point of interest was the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.  They give tours from 10 AM on; we were there at 10, but had to wait about 15 minutes.  The lady who showed us through the place had been called to substitute for whoever was supposed to be there that day.  She was a wonderful guide. 

The stained-glass windows are some of the most lovely you will ever see, and quite unique.  The Osage tribe paid for all the windows.  I took pictures, but the ones on their website are so much better, I'm using theirs.  

This one is my favorite.  They had to get permission from the Pope at the time to have a picture that included our native Americans.  Normally you only see pictures that illustrate Bible stories or saints.

The Sanctuary, as seen from the balcony.

This is one I took myself.  

This one was the favorite of our guide:  God (on the right) lecturing Adam and Eve for their sins.  You really need to see it in person to appreciate the details.

We learned that a handful of folks volunteer to feed up to fifty people, seven days a week.  Not all the volunteers are Catholic.  Wow!  I was impressed!  

The lady showing us through the place knows the Drummond family.  She asked if we'd seen any of them at the Mercantile, although she knew Ree was busy getting the latest issue of her magazine to the publisher.  I didn't even know she had a magazine!  She told us if we'd drive just a little further down the road we could see the house where Lad Drummond's grandparents lived.  It's now a bed-and-breakfast.

I should also mention the Osage County Historical Museum in Pawhuska, situated in the old town depot.  It's a cut above many of the small-town museums you'll find.  It doesn't open until 10 AM, but having nothing else to do at the time, we drove over there before 9 to look around the property.  

Of COURSE Cliff found a tractor-like machine to look at, and he looked for a long time.  He's outside right now, but when he comes in I'll edit this and tell you what he figured out about it, because I don't remember.  Some kind of super-heavy-duty winch, he says. Made by Case, a grand old tractor brand.

We learned that the first boy scout troop anywhere was right there in Pawhuska.  There's a stature commemorating that event.

A lady opened up the place early, and told us to come on in and look around since she was there early anyhow.  This is the sort of reception we got from everyone we ran into in Bartlesville and Pawhuska.  

I enjoyed our trip.  

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Confessions of a reluctant cat lady

Throughout my teenage years, I loved cats and sneaked them in the house while my parents were both at work.  This made for a few unpleasant moments, like when my mom started getting flea-bites on her ankles.  And the time my cat had kittens on a basket of clean laundry in a closet.  Not to mention the time Mother discovered a cat had been using the corner of a closet as a litter-box.

While I've had wonderful cats around the barn for years, I lost my earlier love for them, thanks in part to Cliff's attitude that had rubbed off on me: he hates cat hair, cat poop, and all the other side effects of keeping feline companions.  We both respected them for keeping the mouse population down in the barn, and there have even been a couple mother cats over the years that I can truthfully say I loved, as long as they were "over there".  I didn't pet them or try to keep them tame, since I didn't want them on my doorstep, or climbing on window screens ruining them.

A time came in the summer of 2011 when we were cat-free.  I was fine with that.  Then some neighbors suddenly had to move and didn't have the option of taking a cat with them.  They'd been gone perhaps a month when the mostly white female cat started moving new-born kittens over here into the lean-to of our barn.  I didn't intend to make them welcome, but the half-starved mother was so polite, and not pushy at all, that I decided to do the humane thing and feed her, taking great care not to pet her and her brood, lest they all end up underfoot.  
That yellow boy masquerading as Mom's tail is Jake.  He's still around.  When this litter was big enough, we packed up Jake, Mama Kitty, and one calico female and took them to the vet to be neutered.  The calico female later got stepped on by a horse, and Cliff put her out of her misery.  I don't recall exactly what became of the others.  

From the time she moved here, Mama Kitty began going with us on our daily walk.  This amazed me, since we were walking for 45 minutes every day, and that had to be a lot of steps for a small cat.  We'd go outside to walk and she'd be waiting for us.  

OK, I confess, at this point I was starting to get attached to this quiet, unassuming cat.  I still didn't usually pet her though.

Mama Kitty was a great mother.  I was amazed at how she taught her babies to hunt.  Click HERE to see an entry about that.

Cliff and I stopped walking when our aging knees and hips said "no more".  At some point after that, a couple of years ago, Mama Kitty disappeared for so long, I gave her up for dead.  I was amazed when she finally showed up as though nothing had happened.  

It got to the point where she would do this disappearing act pretty often.  Especially if we went someplace for a couple of days.  It was as though she was protesting our travels.  Even this year, when I went to Mexico for five days, I got home to find Mama Kitty had disappeared once again.  In a day or two she showed up, no worse for the wear.  Mighty peculiar, because Cliff was home all the time I was gone.  

So I decided to start paying more attention to her.  It wasn't hard, since I don't have milk cows, chickens, or dogs, these days.  I began petting her often when she was hanging around close by, and even began picking her up occasionally and letting her sit on my lap (I don't like cat hair on my clothes, but you gotta do what you gotta do to keep a good cat around).  I started giving her a tablespoon full of cream each morning.  Although she doesn't always drink it all, she shows up asking for it anyway, and politely licks at it a time or two.  She won't touch it if Jake or Buttons is around, though.  

Unlike her loud and rowdy son, Mama Kitty is very quiet.  She will meow politely when I talk to her, but it's at such a low sound level I have to listen closely to hear it.  

When I go out each morning to watch the sunrise, she joins me.  Sometimes she rolls over on her back, begging for a tummy-rub.  These days, she gets one.  

Jake has never been shy about begging for a tummy rub, but he never actually got one until lately, since I've been put under the spell of the resident felines.  This cat is a yowling, vocal mess.  He seldom shuts up.  

Buttons, the youngster of the group, has always been a love-bug, when he isn't trying to kill my hummingbirds.  

So there you have it.  Never again will I fail to show my appreciation for a good cat, so long as they don't insist on moving inside with me.  

Be kind to your cat.

Friday, June 02, 2017

An unplanned road trip

Monday, after a day of painting various pieces of metal for the Indiana Oliver (the last tractor he intends to paint), Cliff came inside and said, "Well, I have to let this paint cure for a couple of days.  If there's anywhere you want to go, now's the time."

Because this offer was totally unexpected, it took me awhile to think of someplace we could go that wasn't too far away for a two-day trip.  Then I thought of Ree Drummond's Mercantile in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and mentioned it.  I had not been pushing this idea before, simply because I've read the reviews:  everybody rates it highly, but there are long lines of people waiting to get inside and try the food.  Cliff would rather have a tooth pulled than to wait in a long line, especially to see something he honestly has no interest in.  After mentioning a trip to Pawhuska, Cliff didn't have much to say, and  I just decided not to push it.

Tuesday morning we each surfed the Internet for an hour or two.  Around 9 AM, Cliff said, "Well, what are your plans?"

"I really hate to make you do it, Cliff.  I think we'll pass."

"Hey," he said, "I'll be running around with my best friend, and we have the time right now."

That's all it took.  I figured we'd spend the night in Bartlesville, then get to The Mercantile so early Wednesday, there couldn't possible be a long line.  By the time I started the dishwasher, filled hummingbird feeders, and got to a point where we could leave, it was 10 o'clock.  I would have chosen to leave earlier, but that's another thing Cliff hates:  getting out of bed and hitting the road before he's managed to wake up all the arthritic joints in his body.

I threw two peanut butter sandwiches in a lunch box in case we didn't find anyplace to eat on the way, and it's a good thing I did.  It turned out to be our lunch.

We found a decent motel in Bartlesville by 2:30, checked in, and headed back out to find the Phillips Petroleum Museum.  The GPS got us there with no problem, parking was handy, and we had just a little over an hour before it closed.  Therein lies a problem, because Cliff could have spent three hours in this place, trying to read everything in sight.  We only had a little over an hour.

I enjoyed looking at the displays of old stuff.  

I'm always drawn to switchboards, since they were a constant part of my life until I was twelve years old.

We were within hearing distance of the lady who had greeted us when we arrived, and I asked Cliff, "What time is it?"

The lady said, "Oh, don't worry about leaving at four.  I'm retired and have nowhere to go.  You just stay as long as you like."

Cliff just couldn't do it, though... make a lady wait for us to get done.  I was very impressed with every Oklahoma resident I met on our little trip, from the lady who checked us in at the motel to all the folks in Pawhuska.  

At least Cliff got this one little perk on the way to visit the Mercantile.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Visiting the Pioneer Woman's Mercantile

I did not meet "Pioneer Woman" Ree Drummond today when we visited the Mercantile.  I've read the reviews, and I knew Cliff would be a total mess if he had to wait in line for three hours (it happens) in order to get inside the Mercantile.  My research told me that if you don't want to wait in line, the best days to go are Tuesday or Wednesday, and the best times of day are in the morning and evening... it's open from 7 AM to 7 PM.

That's probably the worst time to visit if you hope to meet one or more of the Drummonds, which I had no intention of doing anyway; I'm uncomfortable meeting famous people.  

When we got there, there was no line waiting to get in, and many open tables in the restaurant section.  I can eat anywhere, so that wasn't something I was worried about.  I just wanted to see the store, since I had followed the reconstruction of the place on Ree's blog.  

 That's me, in front of the Merc.   I need to pose a little better so people don't notice my crooked knees in the picture.  Oh well, just "keeping it real", as Ree used to say in her blog.  I miss how her blog was before she became famous.  

The restaurant area is actually very small.  I can see why lines form.  They probably didn't anticipate so much enthusiasm from Ree's fans.  

I took this from the stairs, looking down on the store part of the building.  Yes, the stuff is pretty pricey.  What do you expect from a tourist trap?  I wanted a coffee mug, but they sell out of those as soon as they come in, so none were available.   I made do with a T-shirt and a refrigerator magnet.  

Upstairs there's plenty of seating and a place to buy carry-out food.  This is where Ree usually shows up to meet folks and sign books.  How do I know this?  Because of this lady who guided us through Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (don't miss the chance to take that tour!):
She knows the Drummonds, and had only good things to say about them, especially Ree.  She asked if Ladd and the boys showed up while we were there; they often do, early in the day, and let people take pictures with them.  She said Ree is in the process of getting her latest magazine finished, so she knew she wouldn't be in today.  

Oh, and even though Wednesday is one of their slowest days, guess what we saw when we went past the building at 11 AM?  A long, long line.  

At least I feel better knowing they won't meet Ree.

If everything I've learned is correct, it IS possible to meet Ree or her husband, or the kids.  If you want to meet Ree, you'd better stand in line for lunch.  Be sure and ask about a trip to the Lodge when you're there.  You might manage that if they aren't filming for the TV show at the time.  

I've never been to a more friendly place than Pawhuska.  People are helpful and pleasant, and all the townspeople appreciate what the Drummonds have done for this once-dying town.  You can get on the Internet and find jealous people who say bad things about the whole family (just google something like "I hate pioneer woman"), but if you go down there and talk to the locals they have a different point of view.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I had plans

Last night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to envelop me, I decided today would be the day we'd clean the filthy carpet in the living room and hall.  Cliff has been wanting to call somebody to come and do the job, but I think the worst part of cleaning a carpet is the preparation:  moving furniture, vacuuming thoroughly... it seems to me as though the actual cleaning wouldn't be such a huge problem, once all the prep was done.  This morning I woke determined to get it done.

Noticing the eastern sky lighting up a bit, I took my coffee out on the back deck and soaked in the peace surrounding me.  A tiny wren perched on the fence and sang a lively tune for me.  I heard frogs croaking in the distance and various birds awakening, and by the time full daylight came, I heard the occasional hummingbird buzz past.  

I finished my coffee and walked around the yard awhile, strolling to the garden.  I surveyed the tiny (to me) plot and decided on a small vacant area to plant a couple more hills of corn.  I fashioned two hills in the lower right-hand area of the garden.  By the way, a "hill" of corn doesn't have to be an actual hill, just a grouping of seeds.  But since I'm in the process of spreading straw over the entire garden, I though it would be easier to see where my corn is if I made actual hills.  You can see the earlier two hills of corn I planted before, with corn plants about six inches high.  Since I now had the hills made and watered, I went inside to get the seeds I had wrapped in a wet paper towel and placed in an open baggie for germination.

I went back to the deck, sat down, and surveyed the pasture where the calves are; that's when I noticed how healthy the sour dock plants were looking.  Cliff has mowed that pasture twice this year, but within a week after mowing, those dock plants raise their ugly heads as though nothing had dampened their enthusiasm for taking over the place.  Early this spring I decided to wage a war on those hateful plants.  I knew the whole four-acre area was too much for me to tackle, but I decided to simply fight the ones within twenty feet or so of the yard, all the way from east to west, so I wouldn't have to look at them first thing in the morning.  I went out with a shovel at various times and dug the plants in that area up.  Of course I didn't get the entire root on any of these pesky plants.  Those longest roots must go down a yard or more.  But I figure at least it set the plant back more than simply mowing.  

Those broad-leaf weeds are my enemy!

Look at all those nasty seeds.  

Well, I decided I'd better go dig up a few of those while I felt so frisky.  When I got that done, I went in the house to prepare about two quarts of strawberries for eating, since I wanted some ready to put on cereal when Cliff got up.  Plenty for cereal and plenty for dessert at lunch, I thought to myself.  But wait, we don't have any shortcake.  

I love store-bought shortcake, but the other day we didn't have any, so I made the home-made kind, which over a period of two days we devoured (with a little cream poured over them... I wonder why we can't lose weight?).  Cliff remarked that he preferred the home-made variety to those little golden shortcakes in the store.  

Well, I'll just make some shortcake again, I decided.  (Recipe HERE.)

Cliff got up, we had our cereal, and I told him about my original plan to clean the carpet.  Then I put on some boiled eggs to use in the potato salad I intend to make at some point today and took the trash out.  

That's when I realized I had used up my initial energy doing so many other things, I wasn't going to mess with carpets today.  I was tired already!  And I still have strawberries to pick.

And now you know why I hardly ever do any housework.  It just isn't at the top of my list of priorities.    

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How does my garden grow?

Well, I'm a pathetic gardener now.  I planted a short row of lettuce, and one of spinach, early in the season.  I went out to harvest a little of each one day, stopped and assessed my "want-to", and decided I didn't want to wash all those leaves of vegetables.  As soon as it was dry enough, I tilled both crops under.  Cliff enjoyed the radishes I planted, though.  

And then the strawberries started coming on.  My mother was very diligent in seeing that her strawberries were picked clean every two days.  Since her birthday was in the latter part of May, she used to get strawberry shortcake for her special day.  If they were late in a particular year and there weren't enough ripe for everybody, she got the first bowl.  This year I was so lazy, I stopped picking them for four days, so of course some were rotting.  I could hear my mom exclaiming, "Oh no!  Those pretty strawberries are going to waste!"

So I picked a few more.  Then after three days, figuring they'd rotted and stopped bearing, I checked them and realized I could salvage a lot of them.  That's how my strawberry picking has gone this year; I just don't care much about any of it.  

Today the kid helped me, and she's a great little picker.  Oh, she misses more than she picks, but she knows to throw away the bad ones (if they're too rotten she won't touch them, though).  

Because of those young Norway Spruce trees in the background, I'll probably relocate my garden next year lest the tree roots rob nutrients from the things growing in the garden.  

Here's what this years garden looks like:
Strawberry patch in the foreground.  I have two hills of corn; a short row of green beans, and I just planted more today; three young cabbage plants; and a dozen tomato plants.  I have no idea how I ended up with so many.  I only planned on half-a-dozen.  This happens to me every year with tomatoes.  I have six hills of potatoes planted, I believe.  I planted them mainly for the kid, since she loves to help dig potatoes.  I don't have plans to freeze or can anything except tomatoes this year... and a few of these strawberries, if I can force myself.  

I have gotten rid of a lot of canning jars, and I need to get rid of more.  But you can't even give them away most of the time.  The Amish folks at Jamesport will buy them, but I think you only get twenty-five cents per jar.  

I have more than I will ever use again.

Every time I look at my jar collection, I know I should get rid of at least half of them; but then I remember how I bought brand new jars when we could barely afford to buy them, and how happy I was to see my pretty jars sitting on shelves in the basement.  It's like selling my children!  So I'll just keep them and my kids can haul them to the ditch when I'm gone.  Can you say "hoarder"? 

I've been spending at least an hour outside every morning lately, watching and listening to the world wake up.  The hummingbirds seem to be the early risers of the bird world, so I sit on the porch and watch them fight over the nectar in the feeder before I come inside.

I love my mornings!  Honestly, that's the highlight of my day.  It just doesn't get any better than a morning in May in Missouri.

Let's not forget about my cats!
The whole gang at feeding time
the boys

The only "chores" I have these days?  Feeding the cats and the calves in the morning... okay, and keeping the hummingbirds fed.  I'm going to suspend giving the calves their sweet feed for awhile, though, since the pasture is so lush they really aren't interested in grain.

We won't have our little princess next week, so I'm going to be plotting something interesting to do.  Look out, Cliff!