Friday, February 23, 2018

Dogs, checkbooks, etc.

We'll be going on an overnight trip with the tractor club in April, this time to Illinois to see the Caterpillar museum (and many other things).  The club secretary tried getting this trip together for last fall, but there weren't enough people interested at the time; she needs a certain number of folks on any bus trip to pay for the bus and driver.  Cliff and I couldn't go then because he was getting radiation, so we were among the first to volunteer this time.  Gabe will be staying at Bed and Bones, where we take him for grooming.  They have excellent ratings and are praised by local folks.  The grandson and Heather used to take Titan there, and he loved it.  One time we delivered him to Bed and Bones for them.  When we made the last turn to get there, he was up looking out the window and wagging that huge tail of his; he couldn't wait!  Gabe will have to spend parts of three days, and two nights, since we leave so early the first morning and get back so late the second day.  I won't worry about his treatment there (check the reviews!), but I will worry about what's going through his head.  Maybe after spending some time there, he'll be more comfortable staying in the future.  Let's face it, there's no place for a dog on a bus.

Last Sunday we took him with us to get some hay for the horses.  He seemed to enjoy the 20-miles-one-way trip, but about five miles before we got back home, he puked in the back seat.  Cliff doesn't deal well with such a situation, although it cleaned up nicely (I did the cleanup).  So I ordered something that would let us both rest easier:
We don't take him many places, just on short local trips.  But eventually we might.  So we'll be using this until he (perhaps) outgrows car-sickness.  I average at least $30 a week spending money on this dog, probably more if you count the expensive food I get him, the grooming, the toys... so far he's been worth it.

This is my checkbook.  It's 48 years old, having been given to me by a teenager (probably 16 at the time) named Tom Dent, back when my children were small.  Tom was quite a presence around our place back then.  He rode a dirt bike like a pro.  He could ride a wheelie on that bike all the way through town when Oak Grove had their parade, front wheel never touching the ground.  He was a hero to my children:  My four-year-old son would pretend to be him, trying to lower his childish voice in an attempt to sound like an adult, saying, "Hi.  I'm Tom."  My daughter simply loved him.  He'd put both the kids on his motorcycle at once and take them for brief rides around the yard and driveway.  I even recall him taking my kids and Cliff's brother, Don's, three kids with him all at once on the bike, back when my sister-in-law's dad was dying and I had them for a week.  Fun times.  Anyway, this checkbook has come to have a sentimental value to me.  It was a gift given for no reason or occasion; I guess Tom just wanted to make a checkbook and had to think of somebody's initials to put on it.  (You can see the "W" in the upper corner of the picture if you look closely.  The "D" is above it on the cover.

As you can tell, it's in horrible condition.  I'm trying to find a way to get new stitching on it.  I went to a Tandy store, but they only sell the leather-working stuff, they don't fix things.  They suggested I check the business cards on the bulletin board.  The closest thing I could find to what I was searching for was people who work on saddles.  Next time we're in Amish Country, I'll see what I can do to get my checkbook cover fixed.  If I can't, I will STILL carry this checkbook.  I was going to have it cremated with me, but my daughter says she wants it.  One thing about it, we stick to cash for almost everything these days and pay our bills online.  So it doesn't get a lot of use.  

Oh, I want to thank any readers of mine who click on the ads here.  Yesterday Google placed $100 in my checking account.  This is the second time they've paid me $100 for doing something I would be doing anyhow, with no thought of being paid.

I can tell by the balance on the right that Cliff's payday was Wednesday.  Our checking account balance is usually in the two- and three-digit range.  


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Current happenings

Here you see our current "herd" of cattle.  The boys are ten weeks old and looking great.  Because they were going through the expensive milk replacer so fast, I weaned them at about the earliest age of any calves I've had; but I did my homework and did things right this time, with no scrimping on grain and such.  Some of the articles about dairy calves suggested they can be weaned at four weeks, but I didn't have the heart or nerve to do it that early; they got to keep their bottles until they were eight weeks of age.  Now they get two large coffee-cans full of calf starter (mixed grain with dry milk in it) daily... that's for the two of them.... plus two or three flakes of good alfalfa hay, and all the grass hay they can eat.  I probably spend fifteen minutes daily tending to them.  Cliff does some of the heavier stuff, like carrying water to them sometimes, and moving hay around to a convenient spot for me.  Last week he put a stretch of electric fence in their pen so they'll know what it is when we turn them out to grass.  They contacted it the first day, got shocked, and haven't gone near it since.

Yesterday I dug around in the freezer trying to decide what we'd have for dinner and found a quart freezer bag of chicken broth with just a few bits of chicken in it.  I retrieved it and thawed it in the microwave.  I peeled and chopped potatoes, celery, onion, and carrots into the rich broth.  Then I threw in a handful of frozen okra, some barley, and a little cabbage.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper, took a taste as it cooked and knew it was going to be good; then I remembered something I bought in Mexico last year while grocery-shopping with Brooke. 

I really didn't know for sure what I was getting, but it appeared to be cubes of dried tomato product.  How handy would that be for soup, right?  Besides, it was a really cheap souvenir.  I've had it almost a year and never thought about it, but yesterday, after getting my soup perfectly seasoned, I remembered it.  I decided to put two cubes in and see what happened.  You'd be surprised at how much tomato color showed up as the cubes dissolved!  

I took another taste of my soup after this new addition:  It would have been delicious except for the SALT!  I had already added my own salt and done a taste test, so the only thing that could have made my soup taste like brine was the tomato cubes.  I picked up the little box and peered at it until I finally saw the word "sodio".  That must be the Spanish word for sodium, right?  If so, it says one cube has 45% of a person's daily allowed amount of sodium.

Well, I watered it down as much as the pan would allow.  The soup was wonderful, but still too salty, although Cliff thought it was great.  We probably didn't get any more salt that we'd have gotten eating a meal out, but I never cook anything that salty at home.  Oh well, live and learn.  I'll know how to use my tomato cubes next time, and I won't be putting salt in the soup until after they're added.   

That's enough of my drivel, except for a picture of Gabe positively ROCKING the eyebrows, beard, and 'stache (that's what the cool kids call a mustache, right?) after a trip to the groomer.



Monday, February 19, 2018

Adventures with Gabe

Sometimes Gabe is smarter than I realized.

Ever since he started learning that he needs to go outside to potty, his method of letting me know has been to go to the door and sit quietly, sometimes looking at me and sometimes looking at the doorknob.  The problem is that the chair I occupy a lot (far too much, these days) faces away from the door toward the TV.  So I don't even realize he's at the door.  What happened for a while was this:  He'd patiently sit at the door, I wouldn't notice him, and when he'd waited as long as he was willing to he'd find a place to "do his business" in the house.  

This hasn't happened for a long time because when I'm sitting in that chair, Gabe has trained me to always know his location.  If I look around and don't see him, I panic, even though he hasn't had an inside accident for a long time.  I'll say "where's Gabe", and Cliff might tell me where he is, or else the dog will hear his name and come running. 

My daughter and the grandson's wife have been telling me, "Get a bell and he'll learn to ring it when he wants out."  I searched online and got some confirmation that this indeed works.  I wondered how on earth he'd even know he was supposed to "ring" it, but they assured me this worked for lots of people.  Once I got the bell and hung it on the doorknob, each time I took him out I'd shake those bells to ring them.  Although most information tells me that dogs sometimes learn this the first day, after a week the only time I heard the bells ring was when I shook them.

Sometimes, though, I would hear a faint scratch on the door and there Gabe would be, wanting out.  The trouble is that when I'm busy in the kitchen I need a louder noise than a scratch.  

Yesterday Gabe happened to want out while I was watching him:  He went to the door, touched his nose to the bells, and sat.  But there wasn't any ringing!  The bells need to be shaken pretty hard, and Gabe hasn't the ability to make them ring!  Who knows how long he's been doing this?  

So.  As much as I really don't want something hanging on my wall two feet above the floor in the hallway, I guess I'll be donating some more money to Amazon for this:
The little girl we babysit isn't here this month (her mom had some surgery), but I have an idea the bell will be ringing often when she comes again.  Actually, she's old enough now to limit her experimentations with things, so that won't be a problem.  I'll tell her to have fun with it for a few minutes, then I'll tell her that's enough.  She'll stop.  She's so grown-up now.

We've bought a shock collar, but haven't done anything with it yet because we want to use it properly, so we're reading everything we can about using one.  Gabe has to learn to come when called in all circumstances or he'll wind up dead in the middle of 224 highway... or maybe injured by some other grouchy dog.  If the shock collar doesn't work, we'll be spending bundles of money on a trainer because, by george, I like my dog and I've said too many unnecessary goodbyes to dogs I loved in the past.  I don't want to do that again.  

Guess what?  Trainers use a shock collar too.

I hope the world is treating you well, dear readers.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I feel so guilty

Gabe loves to eat.  There isn't a finicky bone in his body; drop something on the kitchen floor and he's on it, even pieces of raw fruits and veggies.  With dogs I had in the past, I would fill their food bowls when they were empty.  They got along just fine and didn't get fat.  This boy, though, has started to expand outward rather than upward and onward.  The weight actually looks cute on him, but the Mini-Schnauzer breed tends to have several problems that can be brought on by their consuming too many calories or eating the wrong foods, pancreatitis being the main problem.  It occurs in 5% of mini schnauzers.  Diabetes is another issue related to diet.

This is the first dog we've had that isn't allowed "people food", so that isn't a factor, as difficult as this was for Cliff, because he likes to feed dogs.  Gabe has the same problem as Cliff and I:  He loves to eat.  The breeder thought he'd eventually weigh 13 pounds, and he's pushing 16 already (I'm glad he got bigger than 13 pounds, though).  I've been asking relatives how much food they give their little dogs, and their answers astonish me.  I can't imagine making a dog get by on so little sustenance.  Cliff's sister only gives her 13-pound Dachshund half a cup of food daily, although she does keep canned green beans around to treat her with.  Half a cup!!!!  My oldest granddaughter keeps her Shitzu on a strict diet, too.  Both these ladies are following the strict advice of their vets.  By the way, both dogs look healthy and are not a bit skinny.

I wish I'd asked my vet last time we were there whether my dog was overweight, but Gabe was a growing puppy and I wasn't concerned about it.  Now I'm worried enough that I'm limiting his food.  First I took it down to a cup-and-a-half daily.  I couldn't bear to give him less!  Once I did that for a few days, I decided to take it down to one cup daily, which is still more than either my granddaughter or my sister-in-law give their dogs.  I feel so sorry for Gabe!  I let him out of the kennel around 5 AM each morning, but I make him wait until seven for his half-cup of breakfast.  He finishes it post haste, licks the bowl, then sits beside the bowl and stares at me.  I can't stand it!  But rather than feed him more, I divert his attention by throwing a toy across the room for him to fetch.  His second meal is at 4 or 5 in the evening, another half-cup. 

This morning I was digging around in the freezer and came across some cooked beef bones, so I dug one out and gave it to him.  I feel much better now.  He's been happily gnawing on that bone for over an hour, and my guilt level has decreased somewhat. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

It seems most anything I buy these days causes me to either want or need something else connected to that item, so the money originally spent on the extras eventually exceeds the cost of the original item.  

I learned the hard way that our Culligan-softened water kills Keurig coffee makers.  The first pot lasted three or four months, I think.  Keurig replaced it at no cost, but that one died even a quicker death.  Actually, neither of them totally died:  We still use the second one, but we can only use it with our ground coffee in a little wire basket, because the K-cups stopped working on both Keurigs.  The wire basket let a few of our grounds through, so I ordered tiny filters for them; I found those on Ebay at 1/3 the price of Amazon.  Ss you can see, even though I don't buy K-cups, that Keurig keeps me spending money anyhow.

Then there's the Instant Pot.  I wanted to make a cheesecake in it, but I needed a special pan that would fit inside the IP, so I got that.  Then I read that if I cooked foods with onions or other smelly ingredients, I'd need two silicone rings; one for smelly foods, one for desserts.  So I ordered a couple of extra silicone rings.  This week I realized how helpful it would be to have a glass lid for the Instant Pot and ordered that.   I could go on, but I'll spare you the rest of the details.  Why is it everything I buy leads to me buying more "stuff"?

Of course I'm going through the same thing with Gabe, but I knew that before I got him.  Dog food; the usual costs of owning a puppy, like neutering and vaccinations; grooming and boarding; and so forth.  He does cause me enough smiling and laughter to make it worth the money spent, though.

Here's another problem I've had with using an Instant Pot.  I'm finally getting comfortable with it and finding recipes with accurate amounts and cooking times:  The first time I cooked a chuck roast in it, I googled recipes to find out how long it should pressure-cook and I found everything from 35 minutes to 90 minutes for the same size roast!  I figured I'd start with 45 and go from there, and ended up re-starting the cooker at least three times before the roast was done.  Even then it could have used a little more time.  The learning curve everybody talks about is, in my case, related to the fact there's too much wrong information around.  I needed to learn the right times on my own, as it turns out.  

Another problem, now that I'm using the Instant Pot so often, is I'm so excited to try making the next luscious meal that I tend to go ahead and cook it, forgetting half of the stuff I cooked yesterday is sitting in the refrigerator as leftovers.  Then I have two meals of leftovers to juggle around so they don't rot before I reheat them!  If you've been reading my blog awhile, you know I hate throwing food away.  Any recipe I make has at least two meals' worth of food, since it's just the two of us and we don't take seconds.  I think after we eat the kraut and kielbasa today at noon, I'll be at liberty to make something new again.  I'm thinking broccoli and cheese soup.

While I'm on the subject of my new-fangled contraptions, I found a recipe for my bread machine (which has never forced me to buy anything extra except bread flour and yeast, by the way) that's the best I've made yet.  The directions say to let the yeast dissolve in water, but after reading a few of the reviews, I didn't do that.  The bread rose high and delivered a nice, soft loaf of white bread just like I used to make by hand in the old days.  If you're interested, the recipe is HERE.  There's also a recipe we like that uses a mix of bread flour and whole wheat flower:  Honey-Wheat bread.  

With all the horrible things I'm hearing on the news lately, I think I'll just crawl back into my cave and pull the hole in after me... not a difficult task for a loner, and I get better at it the more I practice it.  Meanwhile, I bid you peace. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Shopping trip to the city

We're thirty miles from Costco.  There's no way I can tell you that we save money going there, as many trips as we make... possible twice a month.  We probably burn enough gas to suck away any savings we're getting.  But, as I told Cliff yesterday, the only places we go are places we shop these days.  So if I'm getting cabin fever and our little girl's daddy happens to be home with her due to weather issues, I suddenly decide we need to go to Costco, and we'll stop by Aldi on the way there.  Of course it goes without saying that we'll go by Walmart on the way home, because that's just the best place for buying certain things.  

I'd like to tell you we spend hours out there shopping, but we can leave home at 9, hit all three of those stores, and be home shortly after noon.  That's because I'm a really fast shopper, from years of being a non-driver and having a husband waiting in the car for me.  Now it's the only way I know how to shop.  

Aldi is my favorite place for good-quality, reasonably-priced produce.  I always get a three-pound bag of Fuji apples there:  They're smaller apples than most stores sell, a size we much prefer these days.  I usually get a head of cauliflower and some fresh broccoli, too, and some huge sweet peppers that would cost twice as much at any other store.  I always buy eggs there (large eggs at 59 cents a dozen, and Aldi "large" is equal to Walmart's "extra-large".  If we aren't going on to Costco, I get milk there too.    

We buy whole-bean coffee at Costco, and butter.  I hardly ever purchase more than five or six items, so you see there's no justifying the trip.  Yesterday, as I often do, I bought one of their rotisserie chickens, which are noticeably larger than the ones at Walmart.  For $4.99, we bring it home still warm, I throw a couple of potatoes in the microwave and open a can of green beans, and dinner is ready in 15 minutes.  We get at least three meals out of one of those chickens.  The first day I take a leg and thigh, Cliff takes some of the breast meat, and we feel like we're eating out, but at our own table.  Then I dice up the rest of the chicken and freeze two 2-cup amounts of chicken to use in recipes I use regularly, like this one:

This recipe also calls for chicken broth, as well as the diced chicken, but I have that taken care of:  About once every other month we get one of those chickens.  I save all the bones in a bag in the freezer, and when I have quite a few of them, I make broth.  That's what I did with part of my afternoon yesterday.  This morning I bagged up my broth and got seven bags, each holding 1 1/2 cups.  The above recipe isn't the only one I use that calls for chicken broth, so it will get used before too long.  Meanwhile, I keep all it in the deep freeze.  

Cliff accused me of extreme frugality while I was making the broth yesterday, but saving money is just a small part of why I do this:  I hate the canned broth in the stores; that stuff hardly even smells like chicken, and it doesn't "gel" up in cool temperatures, like my home-made stuff.  It's an insult to pay so much for an inferior product.  But look at this rich stuff from those Costco bones:
The broth in the measuring cup goes into our jambalaya today.  I'll cook a couple of sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot to have with it, and that will be dinner (lunch, to you city folks).  

And there you have it:  A woman doing a blog entry about her trip to the city to grocery shop.  Isn't this exciting?  


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Winter crawls along (but time still flies).

Cliff needed to have the propane tank at the shop filled.  He and the grandson burn wood to heat it when they have some, but they've used their stockpile.  The shop needs heat available because there's always something to be done there, and who wants to freeze to death while they're working on cars or tractors?  Heat is only needed when there's actually somebody out there, because even when it's zero outside, the building is so well insulated, it stays above freezing.  Anyhow, filling two propane tanks is an expensive proposition... to the tune of over $800.  On a positive note, we won't have to buy any more propane, probably, until next November.  When the furnace doesn't run, the only appliance in the house that uses propane is the kitchen stove.

During winter I crave grapefruits and oranges, but for the past several years the prices on citrus fruit have been outrageous.  Throughout the many years my sister was a winter Texan, she would bring back bushels of grapefruits and share them.  Placed in the refrigerator, those grapefruits would last for weeks.  I'd eat three or four a day sometimes.  When I was a child, my mother would cut a grapefruit in half and sprinkle sugar on the halves, but at some point as an adult, I found out I could peel them and eat them with no sugar, and they tasted just fine.  My sister finally decided she was getting too old to drive all those miles to and from Mission, Texas, alone, so that ended my grapefruit gluttony.  I'd look at the fruits when I grocery-shopped, but couldn't bring myself to pay that much.  This year, though, I decided to bite the bullet and spend a dollar apiece for them.  After all, some people drink three or four Pepsis or Cokes a day, sugary drinks that really have no redeeming features.  Why was I too cheap to buy citrus fruits that are good for me?  Now, every time we're at Costco, I buy a bag of huge grapefruits and eat one every day.  I'd love to have some good oranges, but so far this year the ones I've purchased have been so sour I can hardly eat them.  

Arthritis is a strange thing, isn't it?  The pain often increases or decreases for no apparent reason.  You wake up one day barely able to walk, and think, "Well, I guess this is how it's going to be."  Then days later you realize your pain level is less (never totally gone, though) and thank God.  I've often heard people say the weather affects their arthritis pain, but I've never thought that applied to me until this past week or two:  My leg and knee pain has really increased, as well as the "old Arthur", as Cliff's mom called it, in my hands.  I've mentioned this to Cliff, and he's told me his pain has been awful lately, too; he has a lot more arthritis than I do, in more joints.  If he lays in bed on his left side, his hip hurts.  When he rolls over to his right side, it's his shoulder, which is slightly deformed from years of meat-cutting and butchering.  He has a rough time getting comfortable.  I'm thankful that I've not had pain that disturbs my sleep (what little sleep I get, all five or six hours).  When I'm laying in bed, I'm pain-free.  

Here's something that occurred to me during my time of increased pain levels:  I was limping, and even resorted to taking Tylenol a couple of times, but I have still been enjoying life:  Reading good books, watching television shows I enjoy, even walking my dog eight or ten times daily in sub-freezing temperatures limping as I go.  Yes, you can be hurting and still enjoy life.  Isn't that great?

Speaking of dogs, Gabe is doing great, and makes me smile and laugh all the time.  He can't get enough snuggling, it seems.  Cliff has never cared for dogs living in the house, although I've forced several house dogs on him.  But he does like Gabe.  He frequently mentions how smart the dog is, and how cute.  This is not something he's said about other dogs I've had.  He's especially glad we don't find dog hair all over the place, although "non-shedding" isn't quite accurate, even though Schnauzers are supposed to be non-shedding.  When I brush him, the brush will gradually fill up with soft hairs from his undercoat.  But you never find more than a random stray hair or two on the furniture.  The weather has been so nice lately, I've wished for a tie-out for Gabe, so he could be out enjoying the fresh air and playing with his cat.  I'm going to buy one on my next trip to Walmart.

My goodness, this entry is a multi-subject ramble, isn't it?    


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Time flies

Cliff and I talk often about how fast the time zooms past these days.  It shouldn't be a surprise to us, since we noticed years ago that the older we get, the faster time flies.  But really, now time seems to travel at the speed of light!  Even January and February, when the time used to drag, now zoom past until the days are a blur.  We fill our little weekly pillboxes up, blink once, and suddenly the week is gone and we're refilling them again. 

For some reason, my monitor wasn't working over the weekend.  There's a plug that gets bumped by a dog or a child and loosened sometimes, disconnecting the monitor.  But I checked them all, and later on Cliff did too.  For two days, the monitor didn't work, then one day I came in, checked it out, and it was working again.  I was going to do an entry Saturday, but all I had was the iPad.  Even with a keyboard connected, the iPad is not the best way to update a blog.  Sometimes I really wish I'd just gotten another laptop rather than a desktop two years ago; I'd use it more, because I wouldn't have to get out of my chair.  Out of curiosity, I looked at refurbished laptops on Ebay and found some really cheap ones from trusted sellers, with a 90-day warranty.  I'll remember that next time I'm in the market for a computer, but I'll probably chicken out because they're used.

Earlier I was sitting here trying to do this entry with a fifteen-pound Schnauzer on my lap, which doesn't work too well.  Gabe has outgrown my lap.  He's fine if I'm sitting in an easy chair with padded arms to contain us both, because he'll get partially on me with the rest of  his body in the chair beside me.  But when I'm sitting in a computer chair, there just isn't room.  Also, he sees my fingers moving on the keyboard and paws at them, typing a few letters of his own in the process.    

We had actually gone three weeks or more without seeing the little girl we babysit; the weather kept her dad from working, for one thing.  I told Cliff it's been good for us, because we won't always have her around and we need to be made aware of that.  I survived her absence better than he did, I think, because of Gabe, who is like having a toddler around: he keeps me active and alert whether I want to be or not.  Here are some shots of him in the last half-hour, trying to convince me to let him help me with my blog.

"the look"

one ear down, one up

He even stands up trying to look me in the eye.  Little con man, he is.

But he's my buddy.  We've survived a lot, he and I.  For a couple of weeks there he was puking almost daily, but that no longer happens.  Then I thought he was hard to house-break until I finally realized I just needed to pay closer attention.  He stands quietly at the door staring at me, and if I miss that signal for too long a time, an accident happens.  I'm better tuned to him now and he hasn't had an accident for a long time.  I tried letting him sleep beside our bed on a dog bed for a few nights, loose in the house, but woke up to accidents one morning.  So now he's back in the pet taxi at night.  He really doesn't mind at all; he walks right in there when it's time for bed.  When we go somewhere without him, we fence him off in the kitchen with his bed to lie on and some toys, and he's fine after an initial outburst of crying when we walk out the door.  

Our tractor club is planning an overnight trip in March  to the Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Illinois.  They were going to go last fall, but couldn't get enough people.  Cliff was doing radiation at the time, so we couldn't have gone anyway.  Now we're ready to go, if enough folks sign up.  It will be a nice getaway. 

Enjoy your day.  All we are assured of is this minute, so take advantage of every second.  If all else fails, get a puppy.  That'll get your mind off the cares of the world.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Good morning!

I made donuts for breakfast.  Not really from-scratch, but made from canned biscuits.  I imagine everybody knows about this trick:  Take the biscuits out of the can, make a hole in the middle, and put them in hot shortening.  I use the Fry-Daddy.  They're not Krispy Kreme, but they're not bad, especially if you never buy donuts anyhow and they're the only ones you ever have.  Take them out of the hot grease when brown, dip in a powdered sugar glaze or a mix of sugar and cinnamon, and eat.  This is like a once or twice yearly treat, but when the kids were small I made them often.

I read a passage in the Old Testament this morning that reminded me of a sermon I heard years ago.  It's the only time I ever saw this particular young man, since he was a guest speaker; but I always remember good sermons.

In the passage (Exodus 15:22-27), Moses is leading the Israelites through the wilderness.  Three days pass without any water, but finally they find some in a place called Marah, which means bitter.  The water was so bitter they couldn't drink it, and they began complaining.  Moses throws a piece of wood in the water and it's no longer bitter.  There's another sermonette in this, but I won't go into that, because I'm pretty sure nobody comes to my blog for a sermon.

The story goes on that when they left Marah, they came to Elim, which had twelve wells of good water and seventy palm trees.  

When the preacher came to this part, he told us that he and a friend of his, when they fell on hard times, would tell one another, "Elim is coming!"

And ever since that time, if things are going bad, I tell myself, "Elim is coming!"

Isn't it peculiar that some speaker I only saw that one time impressed me with a story I've never forgotten?

OK, moving right along, I'll once more sing the praises of my dog:  I'm always up two or three hours ahead of Cliff, so Gabe and I spend a lot of bonding time then.  I take him out as soon as he's out of the kennel, then one more time before I wake Cliff.  He evidently knows this routine well.  I'd taken him out for the second time; he was on my lap this morning when I said, "Get down; it's time to go get Cliff up."

He jumped off my lap and ran to the closed bedroom door.  When I opened the door, he went around to Cliff's side of the bed and put his paws up on the bed to look at Cliff.  Really?  He knows what I'm saying?  If I ever teach him to bark on command, I'm just going to send HIM to wake Cliff up.  

I have complained that Gabe is the hardest dog to housebreak I've ever had, but I think the truth is that I sometimes don't see him when he needs out.  See, he sits at the front door and stares at me when he wants out.  My chair is situated in such a way that my back is toward him when he does this, so he's telling me in his own way that it's time, but I don't know it.  Then an accident happens.  That's my theory.  If only he'd bark to get my attention!  I've had several people tell me to put a bell at the door and he will learn to ring the bell when he wants out.  Where would I put the bell?  On the doorknob?  I know it works, because people tell me they've done it.  

Now, if you're one of my Facebook friends you can just cruise right past this next story, because I've shared it there.  But many of my readers aren't on Facebook, or aren't my Facebook friends.  Here it is:

When I first got Gabe and was trying to teach him some basic commands, he refused to come to me when he was loose outside because he was having too much fun. In the house, he'd come. Outside, not so much. I googled everything I could find on the subject and somewhere came across this advice, which I can't quote word for word: If your dog is heading toward danger and you don't yet have him trained to come on command or obey "no", lay on your back, wave your hands and feet in the air, and yelp like a puppy.
Hmmm, I thought.
I tried it in the house and it worked, but who knows what would happen outside; sounded too good to be true.
This morning, since the ground is frozen (no mud) and Gabe hasn't been off-leash outside for days, I let him loose and he followed me to tend to the calves. We hadn't been out long when a neighbor's white dog that shows up here a couple times daily came into our yard. Gabe saw him and happily went running toward him. The white dog turned toward home, Gabe following fast. I yelled "Nooooo" loud and long; he stopped and looked back at me, then turned and ran to follow the dog. I could see I probably would have to walk to the neighbor's to retrieve him, because he really wanted to play with that dog. I could see Gabe heading for life on a leash forever.
Then I remembered that crazy advice I'd read.
It takes me awhile to get down on the ground, but I managed, and then I rolled on my back and began kicking my feet (sort of like peddling a bike), waving my arms in the air, and yelping at the top of my lungs.
As soon as I did this, Gabe turned and ran toward me at the speed of light. At the same time, the neighbor lady opened her door and started calling her white dog.
So now I know the trick works, but here's my question: What were the neighbors thinking when they saw their 73-year-old neighbor lady laying on the ground kicking and waving and making loud, piercing noises in these single-digit temperatures? Did they think I'd had a heart attack?
That's the part that makes me laugh.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Meanderings and musings

Let's start with toilet paper, shall we?  Seven years ago I became incensed at the high cost of toilet paper.  I was also unhappy about the fact that a sheet of toilet paper keeps getting narrower, so we were paying more and getting less.  I opened the subject for discussion on my blog, asking my friends which toilet tissue they found to be the cheapest (you can read the entry and comments HERE).

After their input, I opted to go with the cheapest recommended brand I could find, which turned out to be Scott.  You had to use about 2 yards of it, but I was on a quest to save money.  Unfortunately, Cliff got tired of it very quickly and said he'd pay for the toilet paper if I'd just get some decent kind.  He was already paying for it, so I shopped around for other cheap brands that might fit his requirements.

Possibly too much info here, so beware:  I'd been playing this TP frugality game for a couple of months when we went to visit our oldest granddaughter at an apartment she'd just moved into.  While there, I needed to use the facilities.  Being used to the cheap brands of tissue at home, the kind where you needed to pull off about two yards of paper if you didn't want your fingers to break through it (but it was CHEAP), I was very pleased with whatever it was she had available.  Stepping out of the bathroom, I asked her, "What kind of toilet paper is that?"

"Charmin Extra Soft," she answered.

OK, so I'd buy that wonderful stuff for Cliff and I'd use the Scott in the other bathroom.  Everybody would be happy.  Yeah... in HIS bathroom everybody would be happy, not in mine.  After gravitating to his bathroom more and more, I resolved to start buying Charmin after the cheap stuff was gone.  We'd cut corners on something else, by george!  You only live once, and at our ages, we'll keep life's simple pleasures as long as we can.

It didn't take long to notice a roll of Charmin lasted SO much longer than a roll of Scott that I was spending less in the long run.  So even though there are only two of us here, when I saw Costco had $4 off their already decent price on Charmin this month, I bought two huge packs of it (limit 2).  Who says you can't learn anything from your grandkids?

That's the toilet paper story.

I will only mention one item about the Instant Pot.  I finally made rice in it:  Perfect!  However, I had to figure out how much water to use.  One source said 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, which seemed strange, because cooking in my double boiler I use a 1/1 ratio.  Another source suggested 1 1/4, and yet another, the 1/1 ratio.  Part of the problem was that the various kinds of rice cook differently.  One source, the one with the 1 1/4 to 1 ratio, said rinse the rice first, drain, then add it to the water.  That's the one I chose, and yes, it was perfect.  This was the first time I've ever used any button other than "manual" on the cooker.

And now, on to a random memory from yesterday.  I don't even know what brought this up, but Cliff and I were talking and I jokingly said, in a whiney manner "I'm just an old dirty dishrag.  Everybody throws me around and uses me like an old, dirty dish rag."

This is not the line of talk you normally hear from me, but I was joking.  As soon as I said it, I was immediately sent on a trip down memory lane to the only person from whom I ever heard such a statement:  It was the '70's, I suppose.  I was working on a conveyor at Whitaker Cable in Lexington.  Sometimes one of us would get behind, so the boss might assign someone to be a "rover".  This person would go to whichever of the several conveyors might be in trouble, help whoever was behind, and then go wherever else help was needed.  One day a lady whose name I can't spell... sounds like Neeawawna... was the rover, keeping things running smoothly.  I can't tell you a thing about her, but I remember the unusual name and I can actually picture her perfectly in my mind's eye.  The factory wasn't air conditioned and could be as hot as 100 degrees in summer; this lady was doing her job as a rover and stopped near me to help, saying, "I feel like an old dirty dishrag, the way they throw me around."

Thanks to one statement she made forty-some-odd years ago, although I really never knew her well, I thought of her yesterday, then told the story to my husband.  Now I'm sharing it with the world.  Folks, you never know what silly thing you might say that might be the only thing someone recalls about you.  Isn't life grand?  I wonder if that lady is still alive.

As I figured, Sally knew the lady's full name:  Neawana Creason.  I guess she died several years ago.  "She had red hair," Sally said.  I do remember that.  I can't even imagine why I have such a vivid picture of the woman in my mind, because we didn't really work side-by-side where I'd get to know her.  And I can't tell you why I remember exactly what she looked like, and this one silly little story.  I'm awful at remembering names; I believe her first name stuck with me because I always wondered if it was an Indian name, and I loved the sound of it.   

Sunday, January 07, 2018

More ramblings

It's a messy day outside, cloudy and drizzly.  Some folks say there was black ice on the roads earlier, but I didn't find ice on the sidewalks when I took Gabe out.  The temperature is above freezing, the first time in a long time.  Our rain gauge has about 4/10 of an inch at present.  That would have made a pretty snowfall, but after all the cold we've had, I'm glad it's rain.

I've gotten pretty familiar with the Instant Pot lately.  We brought our meat home from the butcher shop yesterday and I cooked a package of cube steak in it... unbelievably tender and good!  I put in a rack and put sweet potatoes above the meat, but they were very over-cooked after 35 minutes.  We ate them, though.  The meat probably would have been fine with 25 minutes, too, rather than 35.  There's a learning curve with these things.  I check recipes online, the cook times and all, but some of them just don't work for me and I have to cook them longer.  I am getting attached to the Instant Pot as I learn more about it.  

I use it once every couple of weeks to make steel-cut oats:  I make a four-serving portion and store it in the refrigerator for quick, hot breakfasts.  Actually it's five or six portions for us, since we have a smaller portion to allow calories for a piece of buttered toast.  This isn't anything like the oatmeal I've always had; you actually have something to chew, instead of something you could drink with a straw.  It was inspired by a breakfast I once had at Cracker Barrel.  I call it "apple-pie oats".  I add a cup of Craisins, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a diced, peeled apple, bring it up to pressure, and cook it for 10 minutes.  Then I let it let it release naturally.  I still haven't tried the cheesecake recipe in it, because we always have some other sweet thing around.  We can't handle two things tempting us at once.  

It seems we just get over one cold and go right into another one, but I see the same thing is happening to most of my Facebook friends this winter.  

Tomorrow I'm going to get my eyes tested at Walmart, first time in two years.  I'll take that prescription to Costco and get some glasses.  We may not do both tomorrow; it depends on whether we have our little girl with us... I rather doubt it, since it's rained all day.  That might put her daddy out of work.

I ordered the kid a child's camera on Amazon before Christmas.  She was SO proud of it, knowing she could take pictures any time she pleased.  Unfortunately, it died, wouldn't recharge or anything.  I returned it and got my money back, then found an adult camera on Ebay for about the same price.  She will be happy to find that waiting for her.  I'll have to get a memory card for it tomorrow, though.  The one I returned used one of those tiny cards.  

We still haven't left the place for days, so it will be strange going out tomorrow.  I just hope Cliff is up to it.  He's slept so much today I finally woke him up and made him check his blood pressure, which turned out to be somewhat high, but not scary-high.  If it doesn't go back down soon, I may be forcing him to see the doctor.  

Gabe is wondering what sort of losers he lives with:  I've been busy with one thing and another today (making chili and processing my last turkey frame of the season) and haven't played with him much.  Every once in awhile he just HAS to have some action, so he'll grab a toy and run from one end of the house to the other several times, just to get some excitement.  

And that's it for what's going on at our house!


Thursday, January 04, 2018


Since I haven't been off the place in a week, you'd think I wouldn't have much to blog about.  However, I can always scrape up few ramblings to share.  Don't fasten your seat belt, there won't be any excitement.

Mama Kitty is still in the mouse-killing business.  Apparently she's killed at least two mice and one mole today in this bitter-cold weather.  I went out to take a picture of her eating her first mouse (because I'm hard-core like that), but she had it eaten by the time I could bundle up and get out the door.  Later she carried a mole up on the porch, played with it for awhile, then began eating it.  Then a while ago Gabe the Mini-Schnauzer went outside with me; we came back in, I came to the computer, and then heard him munching on something at my feet (when you hear a puppy munching, you must always check it out!).  Avert your eyes if you don't want to see mouse parts, this is almost too hard-core even for me!  It's the back half of a mouse.  Apparently Mamma Kitty couldn't finish her third mouse of the day.
This pup would eat anything, and since he's a Schnauzer, I have to wash his beard frequently because you never know what he's been into.  I never thought I'd be washing a dog's face!  

Cliff went to the butcher shop down to road today to watch them cut up our beef.  The two halves on the left... that's one of our Holstein steers.

Glen Nadler, whose family established this business many years ago.  

We'll be bringing home the meat after it's been frozen for a couple of days.  During the busiest part of deer season, they always stop taking in hogs and cattle and do nothing but deer.  Even though they're back to doing livestock, there is still some deer being worked up, Cliff said.  

I believe I've slipped back into my true hermit mode:  I haven't left home in a week and really don't care whether I do or not.  I've only seen Cliff and the oldest grandson in that time... oh, and Cliff's brother, who is out in the shop right now; I said a few words to him.  Our little girl hasn't been here because her daddy works construction, and it's too cold for him to work.  I have read several library books on the iPad:  "A Dog's Way Home" by W. Bruce Cameron, "The Forgotten Man" by Robert Crais, and "Coreyography" by Corey Feldman (sad, but it held my interest, which I can't usually say about Hollywood autobiographies).  

So I'm mostly reading, and cooking when necessary.  Gabe hears plenty, though.  I talk to him all the time.  Cliff, being hard-of-hearing, is always asking, "What did you say?" and I tell him I was just talking to the dog again.  Gabe thinks I'm always right, so who better to talk to?    

I thought for sure I had the flu for a couple of days:  I was achy and had a cough, sneezes, and a runny nose, as well as a low-grade temperature.  I even threw myself a pity party, but nobody attended.  However, today is the third day and although I still have the coughing and sneezing, I feel fine otherwise.  I'm pretty sure the flu would have lasted longer and hurt more. 

I'm thankful all is well here, and I hope my readers can say the same. 


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

What a way to wake up

I awoke around 3:30 this morning, pretty much the normal time for me.  Having been a bit under the weather, I decided to take a Day-time Alka-Seltzer Plus first thing.  I opened the blister-pak of two and put the two gel-caps on the little table beside my recliner (where I've pretty much spent all my time for two days).  I then got some water, set it beside the gel-caps, sat down, and allowed Gabe-the-Mini-Schnauzer on my lap, where he usually spends the first two or three hours of each day on my lap.  I closed my eyes for a couple of seconds, but opened them when I felt Gabe straining toward the table beside us.  I opened my eyes while pulling him back and noticed there was only one gel-cap there.  Oh no!  Had he swallowed a pill that quickly?  He eats anything and everything!  I got up and checked in and around the chair, even turning the chair over.  I double-checked again on the little chair-side table:  Nothing.  I shook out my clothes and shook the blanket I'd had over me, all to no avail.

The active ingredients in these particular pills are acetaminophen, dextromethorpan, and Phenylprine Hydrochloride.  The one that worried me most was acetaminophen, since it causes liver failure in an overdose.  This 13-pound dog apparently had just swallowed 1/2 an adult human adult's dosage.

I searched Google for advice:  Most advice was to give the dog 3 mg of hydrogen peroxide to make him vomit.  I don't keep that stuff in the house, since it's useless: ( Parents and school nurses might insist otherwise, but researchers have found that hydrogen peroxide has little ability to reduce bacteria in wounds and can actually inflame healthy skin cells that surround a cut or a scrape, increasing the amount of time wounds take to heal.)    

Google also told me to get the dog to a vet immediately, but of course this would involve my waking Cliff up.  He doesn't wake up gracefully, especially for the benefit a dog,  It would also involve doing a search for overnight vets and driving to the city.  Cliff doesn't drive to the city gracefully, either.  Not to mention the amount of money one would have to pay a special animal doctor who stays up all night!

However, Gabe has lately been vomiting after he eats and drinks too fast.  What if I let him eat and drink all he wanted?  That ought to make him regurgitate, right?  I totally filled the water bowl and put a very generous portion of his dog food in the other bowl, and the pup was glad to oblige me.  He cheerfully ate all the dry food, so I gave him more.  He didn't quite make it through that.  After half-an-hour he still hadn't vomited, so I got some canned food, positive that would do the trick, since he puked up the last serving I'd given him, at which time I had resolved to never feed him canned food again.  

He was peacefully snoozing on my lap after eating so much, unaware of the danger he might be in.  I'd pat his head thinking pleaseGod, pleaseGod, pleaseGod please let him be all right.  Gabe would look up at me and then flop his head back down and sleep.  

At some point I went to sleep with him still on my lap.  At 8:15 I awoke to the sound of Cliff making coffee in the kitchen.  Usually Gabe jumps off my lap and runs to greet Cliff when he arises, but this time he slept through it, not giving a sign he even knew Cliff was up.  When I told Cliff about my worries, his first question was, "Did you actually see him eat it?"

"Well, no," I answered, "but I've looked everywhere it could have possibly fallen."

However, when I walked back into the living room I realized there was one place I hadn't checked:  the other recliner on the opposite side of the table where I'd placed my pills.  I tipped it over and there was the missing gel-cap.  Whew!  

I'll be a lot more careful with pills from now on, let me tell you.