Sunday, January 22, 2017


I woke up with a song in my heart this morning, so in spite of the fact that Cliff was still sleeping, I picked up my guitar and started right in on "Mansion Over the Hilltop".  I love singing that happy , lively song, but it reminds me of some thoughts I used to have as a child.

By the time I was twelve, I was paying pretty close attention to the sermons in Church.  Now, I was raised in the Church of Christ, so lots of the sermons seemed to be about what was wrong with the Baptists, Methodists, "holy-rollers", and... worst of all... CATHOLICS!... otherwise known as "the antichrist".  But sometimes a preacher would talk about heaven.  

Many of the hymns we sang were about heaven's streets of gold and mansions.

*disclaimer:  I'm not trying to put down the Church of Christ.  I wouldn't trade my upbringing for that of anybody else.  I still love a cappela singing, too.

I'd try my best to picture the golden streets, but usually became bored after a few seconds because it just didn't sound that great to me.  Even today it doesn't.  I've never longed for a mansion... too much upkeep!  OK, if you're rich enough for a mansion, I suppose you can afford a maid, but I don't want that either, because hired house-keepers and maids will gossip, and I live in a small community where gossip spreads quickly.  If you have shared a secret with one or two people in a small town, you may as well assume the whole town knows it now.   

But I digress. 

The gold streets?  Seriously, does that sound like fun to you?  If my horse Blue is waiting for me in heaven, I hope he has wings, because he'd slip and slide down every hill on streets of gold.  

As I grew older, I painted a picture in my own mind of what I wanted heaven to be, and doggoned if it didn't end up looking a lot like where I live right now.  Lately, even that scenario has changed, although I still like to think of my home as a little piece of heaven, clutter and all.

These days I want to go to Grandma's house when I die.  I hope she has a house on 40 acres in heaven that looks and feels just like the home she had in Harrison County, Missouri.  The silence was amazing there.  She lived off the beaten path with very few cars passing. and if one did, all you heard was the crunch of gravel.  She never had a television, although she had a couple of "soaps" she listened to on the radio in the afternoon.  She crocheted while she listened to them, because she wasn't one to sit and do nothing (I didn't inherit that trait).  I'd walk outside and wander through the woods across the road and wade in the creek, talking to myself occasionally (I stopped wading in the creek after the leeches, though).  

I'd walk down the road to Zion Church of Christ and walk right in, because it was never locked up; on a hot summer day it felt about ten degrees cooler than outside.  

When I saw a path leading into somebody's field, I'd follow it to see where it would take me, never thinking about the fact I might be on private property.  I strolled around Grandma's pasture, seeing the cows graze.  In the evening as the sun set, Whippoorwills called to one another.  What a wonderful sound!  Grandma, like most grandmothers back then, wore her hair in a bun, but when it was almost bedtime she'd let her hair down and brush it.  Just before bed she liked to read a chapter from the Bible, and then she'd write in her diary something like this:  "Was hot.  Donna is here.  Picked green beans today."

And I'd go to sleep in a feather bed, worn out from my travels, anticipating a new tomorrow.  

Yeah.  When I die, I just want to go to Grandma's house.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

For a lady named Mary

I've been struggling to find anything lately to blog about, but one of my readers, Mary, left a comment here today that has given me a topic.  Here it is: 

"Donna, you sometimes write as if you think of yourself as a person with antisocial & rude tendencies. Having read your blog for years (I still think of you as Mosie), your actions never bear that out. Perhaps you feel awkward at times among others who you believe are OTHERS, but still you appear to be a nice & even generous person who happens to view herself too harshly." 

Now, you can tell from the tone of the comment that this lady is a kind and considerate person.  From what I've seen of her (she's a former blogger who just recently began blogging again) she is someone I wouldn't mind meeting.  I was going to respond to her by email, but as I say, I'm in a dry spell here in this Blogger jungle and I'm grasping at straws.

I'm not so sure I've ever referred to myself as antisocial, although I have tendencies in that direction, especially in winter.  And much of the time when I'm rude, it's accidental.  I AM a loner and introvert, but half the population is introverted to some extent, according to the Internet sources, some folks more so than others.  Here's an example of how I can be rude without realizing it.  

When I'm out shopping, I put myself in a bubble.  My own daughter could walk right past me and I wouldn't know it, because I deliberately shut people out when I'm in a crowd.  That's how I deal with it.  I sometimes don't speak to people I know (because I don't see them), so I've been considered stuck-up.  I'm one of those people who gets in your way in a crowded aisle because I don't even realize people are there wanting to get past me.  

Standing in the checkout line, I will stand daydreaming and crowd the person ahead of me without ever knowing it; when Cliff is with me, he'll tell me what I'm doing and I'll back off.  The other day he wasn't with me in Walmart and I caught myself pushing my cart farther ahead than I should have, barely giving the poor lady ahead of me room to use her debit card.  When I realized what I was doing I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry I've been crowding you.  Sometimes I just get in my own little world.  I'm sorry."  And I backed up.

"I can tell," she huffed.

"I really am so sorry," I said.  

She grumbled something else, paid for her purchase, and left.  

I felt terrible about it, but the customer behind me in line said, "Well, I accept your apology in her place."

The lady at the register agreed with her.  Of course, I was embarrassed, but their kind comments helped.  

"Oh well, we don't know what that lady is going through today, do we?"  I said, and made a mental note to pay more attention to those around me at the checkout.  Better yet, I'll make sure Cliff goes in with me.  

Now, about my being such a WONDERFUL person... you've never met me.  Of course I'm not going to write in my blog about the hissy-fit I threw at some friend or relative, or the way I pout and won't speak to folks sometimes when I'm mad.  Anybody who's known me personally for very long has seen that only-child side of me more than once.  It's there in the background all the time.  I don't mention it on my blog when Cliff and I have a disagreement, unless I can put some funny or positive spin on it.  Few people are going to air their dirty laundry on a public blog.  So perhaps I do come off looking better than I really am.  

I'm not such a bad person, but I often don't deal well with people.  Somewhere along the line I decided to be myself and accept who I am, because I don't know how to be anyone else.  And since I do accept myself, sometimes I make light of my faults here on the blog.  I don't feel I'm putting myself down.  

Of all the Apostles in the Bible, Peter is my favorite because he was always sticking his foot in his mouth, just like me.  I figure if Jesus could put up with Peter, He ought to be able to accept me too.

Just remember, Mary, you don't know anybody if you've only seen them online.  I sometimes refer to my peculiar ways to keep things honest.  I don't want to be guilty of painting myself as perfect, wonderful, generous... of course I have good points.  And I have some bad ones you haven't even guessed at.  

I'm human.

Thanks for the input, my friend.  I missed your comments during the years you were gone, and I'm happy to have you back.  


Monday, January 16, 2017

What a long weekend!

Roads were icy, church was cancelled.  I can't seem to settle down to reading a book lately, but I watched more TV in the last two days than I usually watch in two weeks' time.  We have Netflix, thanks to the grandson's generosity in letting us use his account, and Amazon Prime video because it comes with our Amazon account.  So there are plenty of options.

If I were the only one here (thank God I'm not), I would get rid of Direct TV, but Cliff loves football and hates watching commercials, and I'm not going to take away his main pastime as long as we can afford it.  Saturday as we sat listening to sleet pecking against the windows, I mentioned "Smoky and the Bandit"; we agreed we'd both like to watch it again.  Netflix didn't have the movie, but on Amazon we could rent it for 24 hours for $3.99.  Cliff said, "That's nothing.  Go ahead, let's watch it." 

It was worth it.  I watched Pulp Fiction at some point while Cliff was watching football.  Netflix has a remake of "One Day at a Time", a show I enjoyed in the '70's; I've fallen in love with the new version.  It's much better than the old one!  I mentioned this on Facebook and a friend suggested I watch "Alive Inside", a Netflix documentary. which I confess was the best thing I watched all weekend.  People living in rest homes who hadn't responded positively to anything in years came alive when they heard familiar music from their past.  Very touching.  I told my Facebook friend that I'll now stop worrying about dementia and start making a list of songs I think will bring me to life:  the old hymns people hardly sing any more, plenty of folk songs, and some classic country.  Seriously, if you get a chance, watch the movie.  We loved it.  Netflix has many fantastic documentaries.  I enjoy some of the stand-up comics, too.  I've loved good stand-up comedy ever since "The Danny Thomas Show"in the 50's.  I'd watch the show each week in hopes they'd show Danny doing his routine in a night club, even though there was never more than two or three minutes's of it.    

It's raining this morning, which means we probably won't have Cora for at least a couple of days.  Rain puts her daddy out of work.  I recall when Cliff worked construction jobs how I hated never knowing how much money was coming in.  

I try not to even think about the political climate right now because there are things I can't control that make me very uneasy.  Let's just say I'm scared, and let it go at that.  Blah.

The fox I hadn't seen since before the last snow appeared in our back yard yesterday.  I was relieved to see him, but a little nervous that he was so close, knowing how foxes like chicken dinners.  A friend told me it's their mating season, so perhaps he was looking for a girl friend instead of lunch.  

That's all I have today.  God bless us every one.  

Here's a song I can't get enough of lately.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Icy morning

The local news stations have had a blast predicting Icemagadden all week long.  It was originally supposed to start on Thursday and last throughout the weekend.  Here it is Saturday and yes, we do finally have ice.  It isn't a heavy coating that would cause power lines to break, but it could certainly cause an older person to break if she (I) slipped on it.  I sprinkled dry laundry detergent on the back deck and steps so I can safely get to the grassy areas of the yard, where I'm not likely to have a problem walking.  A Facebook friend reported that her husband saw cars off the road due to slickness.  We're scheduled to receive a larger amount of ice tonight and into tomorrow.  That means filling containers with water just in case, because when the power goes out, we have no water available.  Just one of the joys of living in the country with a well for your water supply.

I have weaned our two steers, so of course they think they're dying of starvation while putting away about half-a-bushel of grain (calf starter) and half a bale of the best alfalfa hay I've ever seen.  In another week they'll be three months old.  No more mixing up milk replacer twice a day!

The tickets have been purchased for my trip to Cozumel with my daughter and her husband.  We won't be staying at a fancy resort, but with a longtime friend of theirs.  To be honest, I think I'll feel more comfortable with that type of lodging than I would with a fancy resort where I'd be constantly embarrassing myself and my family with my lack of "class".  I am going to have to buy a swimming suit, and I don't look forward to that.  I don't go around mirrors much these days.  (You don't need to click on that link.  I just happened to remember a song title as soon as I typed that last phrase, and put the link there for my own benefit.)

My only outside chores now:  Make sure the barn cats have food and water, keep the calves in hay and (unfrozen) water and feed them grain twice a day, and tend to the chickens.  Only one of my pullets is still laying; I guess the sub-zero temperatures discouraged the others, because normally pullets lay eggs throughout their first winter.  I suppose that one egg costs me about $3 if you figure in the cost of chicken feed.  But I don't keep chickens to save money, I just enjoy them.  Even though there are only four of them, they do dispose of a lot of our table scraps.  They especially enjoy stale bread.

For some reason I can't attract desirable birds to my feeders, just sparrows for the most part.  Since those sparrows eat a large share of the chicken feed when I leave the chicken house door open, I don't feel inclined to watch them eat up all my song-bird seeds, so I'll probably give up on attracting wild birds this year.  I hung out a couple of those thistle-sacks that used to draw finches here, but haven't seen a single finch at them.  I imagine the problem is that I haven't put any feeders out for two or three years and the birds gave up on me.  

That's all I have for this morning.  Here's hoping our power lines don't go down.  Now I'll just hunker down and try to stay safe.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Working on a conveyor

The past is a funny thing:  Suddenly a long-buried memory will come back to me at the most inconvenient time, a memory that brings resentment or sorrow.  Here's what interrupted my meditation this morning.

In 1977 my children were eight and ten years old, and I decided I'd do well to get a job, after staying home with my kids for so long.  We lived on the same property as now, so we were pretty much "in the boonies".  Cliff said, "You aren't going to hold down a job.  (I think he was afraid to get his hopes up)  It's been so long since you held down a job, and you can't even drive.  How would you even get to work?"

At that time there were several factories in Lexington, eight miles away.  I called a neighbor, Rosie, and asked her about those places and whether she knew anybody working at any of them that wouldn't mind having a paying rider.  Indeed, she did!  That's how I met my friend Carol, as loyal a friend as I've ever had.  She'd been left a widow with four kids, and any extra money would be a blessing to her.  She was always on time and never missed work.  I had a job at Whitaker Cable!

My job classification was "forming operator".  A conveyor went round and round:  Each person had a wire or two to put in place, and toward the end, people taped the wires in such a way that the cable was all there, ready to become a vital part of a shiny new car.  

If you've ever worked at a conveyor, you know that it takes teamwork:  If you get behind, it puts everybody past you behind, and those people aren't usually too happy with that situation.  

It was my first day; I hadn't held down a job in over ten years:  I started out behind and stayed behind.  I fought back tears.  The only thing that kept me there was Cliff's statement, "You aren't going to keep a job" replaying in my head.

The people on my left were unaffected by my slowness, but I was holding up the line for the people on my right.  Fortunately, the two ladies on my right had tasted of the milk of human kindness and began helping lay my wires, as well as doing their own part of the work.  I can see them in my mind's eye now, although I only recall the name of one of them:  Sue Hufford.  They said not a word, just pitched in and helped me out.  Within a week I was doing it all by myself.  

It wasn't until two or three years later I learned how cruel people can be.  We were all working in one area, close enough to converse, and one woman said, "Remember how we used to try and make people quit on their first day at work?  We'd let them get so far behind they'd just walk out."

A group of them began laughing at how funny that was, the way they sometimes made people quit within their first hour.  Roars of laughter ensued.

I had learned to like some of these ladies who were laughing at the discomfort they had caused others, so I was speechless.  

Thank God for those two ladies He placed to the right of me, because had it not been for them, I would have been one of those who walked out in the first hour of working at Whitaker Cable.  

Thank God for nice people, and may He help me forgive the ladies on the left.  I truly wish this memory had stayed buried, but maybe it will serve as a reminder to me to "be the nice one".  


Monday, January 09, 2017

Catching horses

In the previous entry, I addressed the fact that the electric fence was down and we needed to move the horses away from where they were, which was with the calves, eating their expensive feed and hay.  Cliff's method is to chase the horses from one place to another, using an off-road vehicle if necessary, to guide them along.  That's a process that can be fun for the horses, who consider it a game, and frustrating for the people chasing them.

My methods are those I learned from books written by Mark Rashid that I stumbled onto when I first bought Blue, "Considering the Horse".  Blue hadn't been ridden much for a few years, but he was gentle and quiet when I tried him out before buying him.  Once we got him home and bought a saddle, I rode him around the place a few times.  After perhaps half-a-dozen rides, he began running from me when I went to put a halter on him; he had figured out that a halter meant he was going to have to work.  

There's nothing more frustrating than a horse that runs away when you're wanting to ride.  

He was in a smallish lot, so he didn't have far to run, but he could certainly stay out of my reach.  I'd started reading Mark Rashid's book and saw a suggestion that it might be good to spend time with your horse when you aren't trying to put him to work.  So I got a lawn chair, took my book outside, and sat in Blue's pen to read.  It wasn't long before he was easing closer and closer to me, and soon he was by my side letting me scratch his neck.  Next time I went out I took the rope and halter.  When he came up to me, I rubbed his neck with the halter.  Soon we were great friends, but he still had a tendency to run if he thought he was going to have to work.  Because it wasn't a big pen, he didn't have far to run.  When he'd take off I'd start swinging the end of the rope and making a hissing sound to keep him running.  Soon he'd tire of this, slow to a stop, and let me walk up to him with the halter.  I felt like a regular horse whisperer.  

Blue, shortly after I got him, with granddaughter Natalie, 2004.
Here's what I learned from Mark's books that allows me to catch most any horse (I'm not talking about wild mustangs... I don't break horses!):  Do not approach a horse from the front, and don't make eye contact.  Approach him from the side, slowly, still not looking at him.  If he starts to move away, stand still, or even retreat.  Silly as it sounds, once the horse is pretty close to you, give a deep sigh every once in awhile.  I don't know why, but this seems to calm them.  Don't look directly at him though.  Now, if he'll let you, reach a closed hand to his neck and rub with your knuckles (You are not to "pat" a horse as you would a dog... they like a rubbing motion).  Usually after a little while doing this, you can put the rope over his neck and put the halter on.  

I gave my cousin, who is not a horse person, one of the many Mark Rashid books I used to own, and she said, "That book isn't only about horses, it's about people, too."  

So true.  Mark's books aren't filled with boring rules and instructions.  He tells stories to illustrate his points, and the stories would hold anybody's interest.  And, as Betty said, you learn some things about people, as well as horses.  My favorites were "Horses Never Lie" and "A Good Horse is Never a Bad Color".

I can't break and train a wild horse.  I may not know a lot about horse anatomy and diseases.  But if you have a horse you like to ride, and he always runs from you, I can probably get a halter on him.  Unless his name is 'Tude.  There's an exception to every rule, isn't there?  Actually, I did catch 'Tude once after his master had chased him for an hour, but it wasn't as easy as what I've described above.  'Tude is a professional work-dodger, and when he used to be with the herd, he'd see to it that you didn't catch any other horses either, by keeping them all running with him.  Now that he's in solitary in a smaller pen, Adam has no problem catching him; he seems to know there's no hope of getting away.

I am so thankful to Mark Rashid for teaching me enough about horses so that I was able to have a genuine friendship with my last horse, Blue.

Oh, and we used my method yesterday to get the horses where we wanted them.  I put a halter on one of the mares, led her out, and the others followed.  Yes, it was that easy.  

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Problem solved!

Cora's parents have five horses living on our place.  They are very little trouble to us and, in fact, make my life more pleasant.  No animal is the world is more beautiful, powerful, and photogenic than a horse.  However, there are certain problems come with having horses around.  
A lot of the trouble is with pecking order:  Being herd animals, somebody is always trying to take the lead of the group.  Once the leader is established, things go fairly smooth... usually.  But a horse's personality sometimes clashes with others in his group for no reason anyone can fathom, and therein lies a tale.  

'Tude, Adam's first horse, was the leader here, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  For years it was just him and Sassy.  Life was good, except that they became so bonded to one another you could hardly do anything with either one when they were separated.  Sassy was sold and other horses made their entrance.  With Cora's mom, you never know what horse you will wake up to tomorrow, but at present she has two mares here (my favorites).  Adam now has a huge younger gelding, Huck, in addition to 'Tude; 'Tude looked at Huck as competition and chased him away from the herd every chance he got.  Eventually 'Tude was so rude (I'm a poet) that Adam and Amber decided to keep him in a pen with Cora's pony, Dixie.  

That didn't work.  Although 'Tude seems to think he's quite the stud, he HATES Dixie.  He cornered her, kicked her, and bit her unmercifully, so out she went with the herd, which now consists of Amber's mares, Cora's little pony mare, and Huck.  Dixie is still shoved away from the group by the other horses, but at least they don't try to kill her.  

My calves are behind the house, with an electric fence behind their hutches to keep them from straying too far out in the pasture.  Cliff recently allowed the horse herd into the rest of the behind-the-house pasture temporarily, thinking they'd enjoy some winter grazing.  An electric fence separated them from the two steers.  

This morning I glanced out the window and saw the horses were in with the calves, eating their $5 per bale alfalfa hay with gusto.  We could see the electric fence was broken.  The calves huddled in a hutch together, peeking out at the invaders.  "They'll be all right until after Church," Cliff said.  "We don't have time to take care of the situation before Church."

"Well then, let's just stay home and fix it.  I hate to have something like that bugging me all morning."

That's all I needed to say.  Cliff had one method in mind to get them out of the pasture and I had another, but we got it taken care of.  There will be more about my method in another entry. 

My escorts

Everybody knows I don't drive, and am always looking for a willing escort to go with me to various concerts and plays in Kansas City.  The oldest granddaughter, Amber, never was in the running as an escort because I somehow didn't think she'd want to be bothered with the kind of stuff I like.  

I realize my love of folk music doesn't mesh with anybody else's idea of good music most of the time.

Recently Amber told me she'd take me to some of my events once in awhile, if nobody else wanted to go.  She's the one who took me to see "A Christmas Carol" last month.  

Many of the events I want to attend have afternoon shows on Saturday and Sunday, which works great for me.  I'd rather be home in the evening, thank you very much.  I mentioned to Amber that I had tickets for Arlo Guthrie, but that I was sure she'd hate him.  I later sent her a video.  Her answer was something like this:  "Well, Grandma, if you can't find anybody else to take you, I guess I could.  But I really don't want to."  

Arlo will be performing on a night when working people would like to go to bed at a decent hour.  In my mind I lined up my occasional chauffeurs and did an "eeney-meeney-miney-mo" and realized no grandchild of mine would want to sit through a couple hours of Arlo, especially if they had to go to work next day.  

So I approached Cliff, who gave me the usual, "No way in HELL...".

I explained to him how willing Amber was to get in the mix with my other taxi drivers, but if I forced her to do this, she might never want to take me anywhere else.  Besides, all my granddaughters have jobs and won't want to be up late on a Thursday night.  

Then I said, "Yes Cliff, you are going to have to take me."   

Fast-forward to this morning:  I was explaining to my dear husband how John Prine got into the music business, how he hobnobbed with all the country stars in the 70's; how he was a postman before he went to Nashville and, after hearing Bob Dylan and, later, Kris Kristofferson, said, "That's where I belong, right between those two" and moved to Music City.

"He doesn't only sing when you see him in person," I said.  "He tells stories about the songs, how they were written and why."

Then I added that I expect Arlo Guthrie, when we see him, will do that too... tell stories.  

"By the way," I told him, "Rachel (our daughter) is the one who took me to see John Prine, so you didn't have to go.  And she did it with no idea who he was, and she had to go to work the next day.  I'm pretty sure she hated it, but I had a great time and will never forget it."

Here's the thing:  I could whine until some grandkid finally agreed to go just to shut me up, but I don't want to "burn out" the people who are willing to haul me to concerts.  And my family members are the only people brave enough to accompany me out in public, knowing I'll likely embarrass them in one way or another.  

Cliff is going to have to take this one for the team.  

Next time Green Day is in town, some of my volunteer taxi drivers may get their reward.  It had better not be this year, though, because I have a lot of pricey adventures planned for 2017.  So far it looks like Green Day will be out of the country a lot, so perhaps it will all work out.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


Cliff complains often about the fact that you can't get fresh bread any more.  I agree with him, but it doesn't bother me as much because bread isn't such a priority with me.  We've decided it must be the preservatives added these days that make all bread seem not-so-soft, with such a tough crust.  Bread doesn't even grow mold any more, so there must be preservatives, right?  

We've tried every brand out there.  I get so tired of hearing about it, I've threatened to make Cliff choose the bread at the store himself, and that way the decision is out of my hands and I'm guilt-free.  I've asked him why nobody else complains about stale bread.  His theory is that it's been so long since anybody tasted decent bread, they don't know what "fresh" tastes like. 

For at least two years of my life, back when my kids were babies and I was in my "little-house-on-the-prairie" phase feeling like a real pioneer, I made all our bread.  I recall having several loaves in the freezer before I gave birth to my daughter so I wouldn't have to make bread for awhile after she was born.  If you do a search for "bread" on this blog, you'll find isolated instances of me making home-made bread in more recent years, but not as a regular routine.

I love making bread, from start to finish.  I especially enjoy that ten minutes of kneading the dough.  I like to let the loaves cool for just a little while after they come out of the oven, then slice off a heel with the electric knife and spread butter on it, so much butter it drips off the edges.  Obviously, home-made bread shouldn't be part of our lifestyle.  But if that's the only way to have some fresh bread in the house, I'm willing to make it.  I'll take one for the team.

In 1968 we were living in our little house on 20 acres.  The only source of heat in the house was a stand-alone, propane heating stove in the living room.  At some point in its history, the stove had a fan to circulate the heat around the room a little, but by the time we bought the place the fan no longer worked.  When people came to visit in cold weather, they'd leave their coats on and huddle around that stove.  The only heat in the kitchen, unless I was cooking, was what drifted in from the living room.  

Bread dough doesn't rise very well with room temperatures in the 50's.  One time I was making donuts and the dough wouldn't rise, so I brought it in the living room and set it behind the stove, where it promptly tried to bake on the side closest to the stove, ruining the whole batch.  Good times!  I recall my daughter's first bath after I brought her home from the hospital in March of 1969:  It was too cold to bathe her in the kitchen sink, so I got a washpan with some warm water, made a pallet right in front of our pathetic heating stove, and bathed her one limb at a time, keeping the rest of her covered.  Even at that, her chin quivered with the cold. 

Later we bought a new heating stove with a working fan to circulate the warmth.  Cliff also put a wood stove in the basement under the kitchen, so the linoleum-covered floor wasn't like walking on ice cubes any more.  We had moved up in the world! 

And so much for bread-making memories.  Someone has to go give a couple of calves their bottles, and I don't see anybody else volunteering.  It's 4 degrees outside.   

Have a peaceful day.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Am I married to a cheapskate?

Cliff put new strings on my guitar Monday.  He isn't musical, but he is much better at putting strings on than I am.  He puts them on, I tune them.  It's been at least four years since I re-strung my guitar, probably more.  I know the strings had been on there since before I sang at church the first time, and that's surely been three years or more.  I've never worried much about dead strings because nobody heard it but me anyhow, but evidently I'm going to be singing once a month as long as I go to this church.  So... new strings.

Once the new strings are on the instrument, the ends of all six strings are waving about like a wild hairdo and need to be cut off.  Cliff, for a wonder, didn't have any pliers on him that would cut the excess string ends off.  

"Aren't the side-cutters in your pliers drawer in the shop?" I asked.  

Yes, he said.  I told him I'd go get them next morning and do the job.

However, when I opened the drawer, I didn't find what I wanted.  There was a pair of side-cutters with a little bitty mouth (?) on it, but it had been used under duress, because there was a chunk out of the cutting part.  Back at the house I told Cliff I didn't find what I was looking for, and described the ones I wanted.  

"Oh, those," he said.  "They're in the toolbox of the John Deere.  I'm afraid I've been pretty hard on that pair too."  

Later he went out to putter on his current project, and I started wondering just how much a pair of side-cutters cost.  Why wouldn't he get a decent one?  We aren't rich, but surely we could afford any kind of pliers a man might use.   

It didn't take long to find what I wanted, and it was a brand name I recognized with excellent reviews.  I ordered them without mentioning it to Cliff.

They arrived today.  I opened the package, handed them to Cliff, who was sitting on the couch reading a book, and said, "Now, when I go looking in the toolbox for some side-cutters, I expect to find these in the pliers drawer."  

He laughed for five minutes.  I still don't know what was so funny.  When he stopped laughing, he said there was a different long-nosed pair out there that would have worked just fine.  

Yeah, right... if you don't mind a hole broken out of the cutting edge.  These new ones are the kind I'm used to, and they only cost $5.65.  Why on earth... oh well.  I gave up trying to understand his logic long ago.  Everything will be fine as long as those shiny new side-cutter pliers are in the drawer next time I string my guitar, which probably won't be until the year 2025.

Oh, these cats

If I were writing a book today, the first line would be, "It was a cold and snowy day".   Maybe it would be a "who-done-it", with me searching for footprints in the snow.  There were no footprints in this morning's accumulation, though.  Most mornings, winter or summer, Jake-the-orange-tomcat wanders from back deck to front porch and back again, hoping I'll come out, go to the barn, and feed him.  This morning not a single footie-print did I see in the fresh, clean snow.  Buttons, the yellowish kitten, is often hanging around in back too.  He's developed a taste for the calves' milk replacer; he follows me to the fence where I stand to feed them and licks at the foamy milk-slobbers that drip from their mouths as they suck.  I took pity on the two youngsters last night and put them in the shop, where the temperature seldom drops below freezing.  They are about half-grown now.
Here they are waiting for me to dish up their canned food.  Can you tell they're impatient?  

I've always had cats around the barn, but I paid them little attention except to feed and water them.  Since I have less livestock these days, the cats are getting more of my time.  I'm learning new things about feline creatures.  For instance:  Cats don't like to drink water if it's too near their food.  After getting those two kittens, I was perplexed at the way the water in their dish in the barn (beside their cat food) never seemed to diminish, and yet as soon as they got in Cliff's shop, they'd run to the bowl of water the grandson keeps there for his great dane and drink for five minutes straight, as though they were thirsting to death.  I did a google search and found my answer HERE.  Once I moved the water to the other end of that part of the barn, the level went down significantly every day.  The boys do still seem to like to drink from the dog's dish, though, as though they think they're getting away with something.  Mama Kitty and Jake drink from the in-ground horse waterer most of the time.  

There's another sort of a problem with Grady that sent me to Google.  Keep in mind I had no experience with litter boxes in the past, so it was a surprise to me.  Buttons does a fair job of covering up his mess in the littler box in the shop, but Grady?  Never!  He poops and leaves, with no effort to cover it.  Once in awhile he actually gets in the litter box and then poops over the edge, onto the floor.  I had a REAL nice mess to clean up the other day on his account.  Honestly, is there anything that smells worse than cat poop?  Google tells me this is not an uncommon occurrence.  I found several theories, but I don't think anybody actually knows why it happens.  You can go read HERE, but there are many web pages about the problem with, really, no specific answer.

My hopes are that in summer when the shop doors are open all day, I can remove the litter box and the youngsters will go outside to do their business.  Yes, I know:  Man plans, God laughs (and so do cats).

I'll close with a picture of a fox we see almost every day, sometime between sunup and noon, in the pasture north of the house.  He appears to be hunting, probably moles:  I've seen more moles this year than at any time in my life.  There were mountainous molehills in our yard that I stumbled over in the darkness as I went to chore.  They are just as numerous in the pasture.  You will see Mr. Fox pounce every so often.  I always wonder if he was successful.  

This was taken at quite a distance and then cropped, so it isn't perfect.
Mama Kitty and Jake often come from the pasture with a mole, so with their efforts as well as the fox's, I hope there is a depletion of the mole population by next year.  

Peace!  Spring is only seventy-some days away.  

Monday, January 02, 2017

So, how's it going with the Keurig?

I don't like coffee that has been sitting in a coffeemaker for long, so I've always made a point of drinking the three cups I've made for myself every morning pretty fast.  Cliff gets up later, and I'd make three cups for him at that time, sometimes four.  I buy our Kirkland House Blend coffee beans at Costco and we grind them as needed so our coffee's always fresh.  

When I first bought the Keurig, I ordered various kinds of K-cups, including some off-brand ones on Amazon.  I was over-zealous with my purchasing when Keurig had a 30%-off sale; I should have gotten a sampler pack and done some taste-tests.  Many of the K-cups make some very strong coffee:  However, there's a difference between good strong coffee and lousy strong coffee.  Cliff didn't care for any of the stronger varieties, so I ordered some of these:
 These work well, and Cliff was happy to be drinking coffee made from our Costco beans again.  I liked this option too, and was wishing I hadn't been so enthusiastic about ordering all that coffee from Amazon and Keurig.  This is definitely a cheaper alternative than buying the pre-made K-cups.  However, I force myself to use one of those stronger varieties every other time I drink a cup of coffee, because I don't like to waste money.  

The only problem I find with the use-your-own-beans things is that there is some muddy-looking coffee at the bottom of my cup when I'm done; so I ordered some of these, which work great:

Now our favorite coffee is perfect.  

In spite of its strength, I enjoy the Starbucks House Blend.  Cliff and I both like the 8 O'Clock K-cups from Keurig:  they don't make such strong coffee, and they are cheaper on the website than other brands.  For awhile, I would drink a couple of cups of coffee from the Keurig, then make Cliff his usual three cups in the coffeepot when he got up.  After lunch I'd make four cups of coffee in the Bunn and we'd each drink two cups.  However, I confessed to Cliff that when I make one cup of coffee at a time in the Keurig, I don't rush to make a second cup.  When I do have that second cup, I no longer want a third one, at least not as often.  And the coffee is consistently good.  So I stopped drinking coffee out of the Bunn entirely.  A couple of days ago, Cliff said he wouldn't mind using the Keurig exclusively, as I was doing.  So I drained the water out of the Bunn and put it in a closet.  It's nice to have that space back on the kitchen counter.  

I still grind our favorite coffee beans to use in the reusable K-cups, but of course it isn't quite as freshly-ground as we're used to.  I grind enough for six or eight cups and keep the ground product in a sealed pint jar so they don't get too stale.  It works, and is still our choice.  Of course, by the time I go through all the pre-made stronger varieties I bought that I'm forcing myself to drink, my tastes may change.  

Maybe a good cup of coffee really is worth more money.

The one thing I'm wondering is this:  With two coffee-drinkers using only the Keurig, how long will it last before it dies and I have to buy another?

We shall see.  

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Welcome, 2017

Happy new year, all you party animals! I'm the one who went to bed at 8 PM like always and got up at 3 AM, like always. There's a pretty night sky outside; I know this because I went to let Titan, the grandson's dog, out to pee as soon as I'd had a cup of coffee. On the way back I snatched my cheese ball and some crackers and chips from the shop, where the family gathered yesterday, because I plan to eat junk food all day (my last hoorah for a while). I might make some broccoli-and-cheese soup, just in case Cliff wants something besides junk food.

Meanwhile, I have a week to make up my mind whether I'm going to Cozumel with my daughter and her husband in March (hint: I'll probably go, since Cliff seems to be all for it and is willing to fund the trip if necessary).

Everybody talks about what an awful year 2016 was, but for me personally, it was a good enough year. Cliff and I stayed out of the hospital and haven't had serious illnesses. Why on earth would I let the death of some rock star or movie star affect my life? Especially those who were so old that any fool would know it was their time to die. But that's just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions.

I have more aches and pains as I age, but that's normal. Forgetting all the political nonsense and looking at my own life, it's been a decent year. This past election certainly brought out a lot of folks' true colors, and that's all I'll say about that.

One by one, as people have shared political memes and such on Facebook (both left and right), I've clicked on the drop-down arrow beside their updates and opted out of seeing whatever person originated said post before the friend shared it. This has made a positive difference in what I see. The election is over, people.

I have no resolutions this year, and no advice except to tell the younger folks to walk and run and skip as much as you can. Dance and sing and listen to the music of life, because a time might come when your body just won't let you do those things any more. Above all, enjoy children at every stage of your life and learn from them.

"A little child shall lead them."

That's all the "words of wisdom" you'll get from me, but here are a few words from the Bible:

Ecclesiastes 12The Message (MSG)

12 1-2 Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,
Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,
Before your vision dims and the world blurs
And the winter years keep you close to the fire.
3-5 In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.
Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.
The shades are pulled down on the world.
You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.
The hum of the household fades away.
You are wakened now by bird-song.
Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.
Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.
Your hair turns apple-blossom white,
Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.
Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,
While your friends make plans for your funeral.
6-7 Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.
Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.
The body is put back in the same ground it came from.
The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.
It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke.
The Quester says that everything’s smoke.