Sunday, May 27, 2018

Shopping local, apple pies, and a holiday weekend

The daughter and her husband came to visit last Tuesday evening, as usual; she suggested we do a cookout/holiday meal this weekend.  I was all for it.  We have too few of those family get-togethers these days.  Her husband said, "I'd rather not do it on Monday.  I'd like to relax on my last day before I go back to work."

So today's the day.  I volunteered to make potato salad and the usual Oreo Delight.  Yesterday I realized I needed another box of Cool Whip and a couple other things and told Cliff we needed to go to the store.  He asked which store.  I said, "I think Dave's will do it, although there's a big chance he won't have his advertised specials.  But surely on the Friday before Memorial Day, he'll have them."

I really would love to do more of my grocery shopping there.  You see, I remember how great it was back when my little town had a grocery store.  When we moved here, Walmart didn't have groceries, and it was twenty-five miles to the nearest town with Walmart and large stores, both of which had lower prices, and great bargains.  We didn't buy everything at the store in Wellington, but it sure was handy when we ran out of something.  Back then we had a gas station, a drug store, a hardware store, and a bank in our town.  Over the years they all shut down, one by one.  Now we only have insurance agents and a mini-mart which is also a gas station, but since we have to leave town to get anything else, we buy our gas on those trips.   There's also a catfish place, but our budget keeps us from going there more than once a year.

My point is that Dave's (formerly Harold's) is the nearest actual grocery store we have, and I'd hate to see them shut down.  I think it's ten miles away.  I try my best to shop there, but I'm often disappointed.  I'm not put off by the prices at all.  It's a home-town store, and they don't have the muscle to compete with Walmart, which is another 10 miles from Dave's, in Richmond.

I went in the store and grabbed a cart.  The first thing I saw wasn't even on my list:  Apples that had seen better days, marked down significantly.  "Oh, Golden Delicious!  They're great for pies, and apple pie would be a great addition to our Sunday cookout," I thought.

Then I went on to gather some bargains... but typical for Dave's, everything bargain-priced was gone.  I ran into the manager and asked if they had any of the Thousand Island Kraft salad dressings in back someplace.  "I doubt it," he said.  "But the truck comes in tomorrow."

"But I live in Wellington," I said.  "Oh," he replied, chuckling.  "That isn't far."  No explanation, no apology, no offer of a rain check.  For some reason this hit me wrong, so I said, "Well, I guess I'll go on to Richmond then."

So I went back through the store and put back the five or six items in my cart (except for the apples), because I'm not that person who just dumps unwanted groceries any old place, even when I'm angry.

So we went to Richmond and got what I needed.

I don't know when I've made an apple pie.  Cliff and I can't leave them alone once they're made, and ever since Thanksgiving two years ago when the granddaughter-in-law's grandma brought pie, I've given up making pie because I know someone who makes them better.  Sandy's crust is magical.  She has no recipe, like many old-fashioned cooks.  She even tried at one point to make pie crust and measure ingredients and write it down, but found it an impossible task.

Since I had plenty of apples, I decided on cobbler, rather than pie.  Not the biscuit-topped cobbler or the cake-topped cobbler.  I wanted the kind Grandma used to make, which is basically a big, rectangular pie.  I mixed up the crust and got ready to peel the apples.

I took a taste of the first apple I peeled and realized it was NOT a Golden Delicious.  It was one of those tasteless Granny Smiths.  Well, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I forged ahead.  

The cobbler just now came out of the oven, and it looks OK.  Cliff didn't eat breakfast, so I'll let him sample it pretty soon. since he was hovering over my shoulder a while ago when I peeked in the oven.  I'm a little concerned about whether I used enough sugar:  I know how much sugar I need if I'm using Golden Delicious (not so much) or Jonathan (a little more).  These stupid Granny Smith apples, I know nothing about.  If it's too sour, we'll just plop some vanilla ice cream on it and hope for the best.  


P.S.  This cobbler is as good as any I ever made.  The only way it could be better is if Sandy had made the crust, but I'll take it.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Well. Here I am.

This morning's sunrise behind my favorite cottonwood tree
It almost looks as though I'm gradually getting out of blogging, but that isn't my intention.  Morning has always been my time to blog, and there are many mornings our little girl gets here at 5:30 AM.  Don't ever try blogging with any child from ages one to five around... or, in the case of girls, from ages one to infinity, pretty much.  Girls like to talk, and they want 100% of your attention while they're talking.  That isn't every day, though.  The thing is, once I get in the routine of NOT blogging, I forget about it.  

Of course, I forget a lot of things these days. 

I'm not organized, so the old "a place for everything and everything in its place" doesn't work for me.  I'll bet I spend more time hunting for my camera than I spend cooking.  It's only by the power of prayer that I locate anything:  After one of my futile searches in all the likely places, I remember God is right there and ask Him to help me find the object.  Somehow, with very few exceptions, I'll remember what I was doing with the object, or where I was going with it last time I had it, and walk right to it after consulting God.  Cliff thinks it's hilarious that I assume God has no more important things to do than help me find my camera or shoes or purse or iPad, but every time I find something with His help, I whisper, "I give You the credit for this"; not so loud that Cliff hears it, though.  See, I have this running conversation, mostly trivial, with God all day long, so it's only natural I'd ask Him for help.  I also have running conversations with my dog, but he's no help at all.

Gabe was well-behaved, staying mostly in the back seat of the truck, curled up and sleeping

Cliff, Gabe the dog, and I went camping last weekend at Harry Truman State Park, to try out our camper.  We were very much prepared to stay a couple of days.  I even talked Cliff into buying $10 fishing rods, and he dug the old tackle box he had when he used to go fishing out of the attic.  He says he doesn't really like to fish, although it used to be a favorite pastime of his until we moved to the country and he discovered the joy of owning tractors.  I haven't fished since I was a kid.  Ever since I found out people over 65 don't have to have a license, it's been bothering me, because I hate to miss a bargain of any kind.  So, we were ready to fish... and then the rain started the first morning we were there.  It rained, it hailed, it blew; at one point after dark, a guy came and suggested we take cover from the coming 60 MPH winds, but we didn't; we live in a mobile home, and we laugh at 60 MPH winds.  I cooked.  Cliff read a book on his Kindle.  The rain made it seem sort of cozy for a day, but when it was still raining the next morning, we were sick of it and went home.

We learned that the refrigerator, stovetop, and oven in the camper work great.  Oh, and the bathroom worked great!  If we'd been without a bathroom in the camper, we'd have been drenched every time we went to the rest rooms.  The second night we discovered a little leak, which Cliff has since worked on.  I'm a doubting thomas and expect it to still be leaking when it rains again.  Cliff is confident it's fine.  Keep in mind I didn't expect the refrigerator, toilet, and oven to work... but they did.  I used to be SUCH an optimist.  I think I've turned pessimistic in my old age because when the worst happens, you've already expected it, so it doesn't take you by surprise. 

So we still haven't gone fishing.  Cliff hates dressing fish, and only likes to fish if he's catching something.  One of these days I'm going to beg him to take me to Maple Leaf Lake, not far from here, and we can try our luck there.

Who, me?  I NEVER chase cats!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Our vintage RV

We aren't the type of people to restore anything except tractors (OK,  we don't restore tractors; Cliff does), and after our "new" camper sat here awhile, I was sort of afraid of what we'd find.  So far, though, the good outweighs the bad.  These things aren't made to last forever, and this one is a 1986 model of a brand that no longer exists.  On the bright side, the sellers said the tires were new, and they appear to be so; I'm thinking the folks we bought it from, who only bought it last year in May, must have bought them.  The reason they were selling it?  They upgraded to a newer and larger camper.  They bought this one to see if their family would enjoy the camping lifestyle, and obviously, they did.  

Whatever fastened the waste tank to the floor of the camper had given way and let it drop, causing a leak where it fastened onto the tank, but Cliff kept working on that until he got it fixed.   After pulling it up and sealing it, he filled it with water to see if it still leaked.  It did, slightly, so he got out the J.B.Weld.  Seems to be holding without a leak now.  He put the stuff on the roof in case of leaks.  Finally he ran an extension cord to the camper to see what worked and what didn't.   We were surprised to find the refrigerator working!

Speaking of things working, there's a radio/CD player with a terrific sound, and an electronic whatever (on the left in the picture below) that tells how full the tanks are, how the battery is holding out (if you're using a battery for lights and such).  There's a clock on it, but we couldn't figure out how to set it.  Sounds like a job for our daughter.  

This week I've gone out there several times, wiping out cabinets and such.  I did a few things to it this morning, then my buddy Gabe and I relaxed on the very comfortable bed through a few random sprinkles that came through.  I was reminded of my old cabin days, and decided if we don't end up camping, I'm keeping it for a getaway cabin.  While I was daydreaming, Cliff joined us.  Deciding to help clean things up, he yanked the curtains down, knocking the mini-blinds behind the couch.  Those curtains aren't much, and could use a washing, but good grief, his enthusiasm was tearing up my my cabin our camper.  

Here's our camper, which really needs a name, but I haven't figured one out yet.

The propane tanks are empty, so Cliff was going to use an old one he had (the smaller one) for a trial run.  We weren't sure if the tanks that came with the thing would even work, or if anybody would fill them, having had no experience with such things.  But I have a nephew who works at an RV place, and he told me to look for a stamp on the handle part of the tank; if the date is no more than 12 years ago, there should be no problem filling it.  Score!!!  It was last filled in June of 2015.  Cliff had already found out the stove works, oven and all, by briefly hooking up one of the small tanks.  

Next, the inside, looking toward the front end:

And next, the view toward the back end:

We wanted a small camper, but this is still more than we really wanted.  We were looking for something that had cooking facilities, a potty of some sort, and a comfortable bed that wasn't on the ground.  We'll never use all the storage spaces in this thing.  But it isn't huge, and Cliff said he can't even tell he's pulling it behind him when it's attached to the pickup.  

If you think we're about to tour America now, you're wrong.  Our truck gets 10 MPG and gas prices are going up.  Who knows, we might make Arkansas.  Or we might just get well acquainted with Missouri's state parks.  Or I'll have Cliff pull it back to my old cabin spot so I can camp out with my dog.  

Actually, Cliff thinks he could get our money back and possibly more if we put it on Craigslist.  We made a little money last year on the popup camper we never used, and this thing didn't cost much more than the popup.  

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Gabe's big day

Up until today, Gabe has only had brief little rides with us in the car or pickup.  For one thing, he pukes easily, and more often than I'd like.  OK, I'd rather he never threw up.  And when I remember times he vomited every other day, I'm thankful that it's just a couple times a month or so.  But still... if you're with Cliff, who wouldn't choose to have a dog and can't stand vomit... you don't want your dog puking in his vehicle.

However, I knew we'd be outside for hours, and it seemed like it would do Gabe good to be with a crowd of people he didn't know, ride on a tractor, and have a major road trip (50 miles).  I realized it would hinder my picture-taking, because I intended to have him on a leash at all times, with the leash firmly attached to me.  I knew it would be like going someplace with a toddler, and it was.  However, he did really well.  Yes, he puked, but we were in the Donna-carrier behind the tractor, so when he started retching, I placed him on the floor of the thing and let him puke.  Most of it went right through the grilled bottom of the carrier and down to the road, and I wiped up the remains with a wet wipe.  All in all, it was a good day.  I didn't let Gabe climb on people's legs as he always wants to do, and pretty much kept him away from the people.  I understand that most folks like their own dogs, but aren't that fond of someone else's.

Here's what we were doing:  One of the members of our tractor club, Joe Kipp, died last year in December.  His wife wanted the club to do a memorial tractor drive at the time of her husband's funeral; however, the weather was horrible and most of the club members are anything but spring chickens.  Add to that the fact that the flu season was starting out to be the worst in years.  So our club president told the lady we'd schedule a drive for later.  Today was the day.

Gabe, riding to the tractor drive in the pickup.  He looked out both side windows often, but finally relaxed.

This is my dog and me, as seen by Cliff from the seat of the Allis Chalmers.

This is what my dog and I looked at on the tractor drive. 

Gabe just looked out the door at the big, wide world, but I wouldn't let him jump out into it.

Before we headed off to Kingston from Polo, I saw this.  I'm not really sure what was happening, but you see things like this all the time at tractor drives.  Today one of our members couldn't get his tractor restarted, but somebody had a chain they hooked up to his tractor and pulled it;  that got it started.  When you're dealing with tractors that are anywhere from 30 to 70 years old, stuff happens.

Gabe enjoyed the scenery. 

Finally we arrived at the Kingston city limits.  It's only six miles from Polo, but that's a long way on a tractor.

This doesn't show all the tractors; there was a great turnout for Joe's memorial drive.  We stopped here to use the rest rooms (older people need restrooms often), but they were locked up.  So we all agreed to "hold it" and relieve our bladders later. 

Here's the view from a different direction.

Finally we arrived at the Kingston city limits.  It's only six miles from Polo, but that's a long way on a tractor.

Then we gathered around Joe's grave; it's right beside the graves of his parents.  He was a veteran of the Korean War.  You'll find his obituary HERE.

I really liked this way of honoring someone, so if Cliff goes first, I'm keeping this in mind.  Hey, I wouldn't even mind having it done for me after my own death, and I barely know one tractor from another.  


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Just a few observations

Ever since we moved to the country in 1967 and started playing around with pigs, cows, chickens, and other assorted farm animals, I've noticed how little Hollywood knows about farm animals.  Sometimes it's just the small details; other times, the stupidity gets to the point of being ridiculous.  I've seen the same thing in books I've read.

I was reading a book one time (Nora Roberts I think) in which the main characters lived on a cattle ranch in some far-off state like Wyoming.  Cattle start disappearing one at a time.  I don't recall the story line, but as it turns out, the thief was going out to a herd of beef cattle, putting a halter on an animal, and leading it away to a spot where he'd then kill it.  Cliff and I had a good laugh at that, since nobody walks into a herd of beef cows with a halter and leads the cow out.  Your run-of-the-mill cow would walk or trot away before the stranger got to her.  If she did happen to stand still, you'd never get a halter on her, and if you managed to get it on, you wouldn't be able to lead her anywhere, since cows have to be trained to lead.

I realize you can't expect city folks to know this, but if I was writing a book or producing a television show, I think I'd at least talk to a farmer about what goes on with cows.  

I've been watching a show on Netflix, The Ranch.  I first began watching it because I like Ashton Kutcher's looks, and continued watching... well, because I like Ashton Kutcher's looks.  There's WAY too much unnecessary cussing, but I put up with that to watch the two brothers bantering with one another and their dad.  It isn't what I'd call a great show, but it entertains me... mostly because of their total lack of knowledge about cattle. 

On one episode, cattle prices were down and our ranchers were going broke.  On the next episode, cattle prices had suddenly increased to the point where the ranchers were thinking about buying more land.  Within the plot of the story, it couldn't have been over a couple weeks between episodes.  Cattle prices don't normally go up that fast; seems like the bottom can fall out pretty quickly sometimes, but it usually takes a couple of years for them to get back where they were before the market fell.  

The boys call their friendly veterinary frequently to check on a sick cow.  Now, this is a beef cattle ranch; but every time they have the vet over, the sick cow is a friendly Jersey (dairy breed, not beef) wearing a halter, tied to a post and chewing her cud.  Oh, and the floor around her in the barn is spotless, no poop or pee anywhere, the cleanest wood-floored barn I've ever seen.  So the cow obviously isn't sick (chewing her cud?), doesn't defecate, and is trained to stand patiently when tied to a post.  But she is part of a beef herd, with no mention of anybody milking the cow, who would HAVE to be milked, because her udder is huge, and a calf can't take that much.  Besides, I see our ranchers taking store-bought milk from the refrigerator on occasion.  

It's mind-boggling.  Maybe I just need to get out of the house if I'm thinking about all this, right?  After all, it IS a comedy, and I'm getting some extra laughs from their mistakes.  


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

At last, Spring comes!

It's been quite a winter, hasn't it?  People killing other people all over the world, political scandals... and then there's the weather.  It had been months since it was warm enough to go outside and watch the sun come up.  This morning I needed a coat, but the wind was still and the sky was cloudless; this means, of course, that I didn't see a fantastic sunrise, because clouds are needed for that perfection.  But it was just so good to be outside to see the sun.
So lovely

 Gabe decided to eat some watermelon.  The Holsteins wonder why.

As I trimmed fruit trees, I was serenaded by the resident mockingbird.  Glorious!  Just what I've been hungering for.

Yesterday was perfect.  Cliff helped me get a new, much smaller garden spot in a different location:  Behind the house, in the calf pasture (fenced away from them, though).  I only intend to have three or four tomato plants and perhaps four pepper plants.  In any leftover space, I might play around with something else, but it won't be much.

Gabe was outside with us all day yesterday and stayed near one of us all the time.  I took him out with me this morning and he tortured cats while I trimmed at the fruit trees.  Perhaps he won't always have to be on a leash, since he did so well yesterday.  

One interesting note:  Early in our garden-planning yesterday, Cliff got on the tractor; Gabe has a habit of running in front of it when it's moving, and we don't trust him to have enough sense to get out of the way.  So Cliff got on the tractor holding him.  After that, every time my husband started the John Deere, Gabe jumped on.  We won't talk about the way he kept jumping off a moving tractor after half a minute or so every single time, causing me a series of mini-nervous-breakdowns.

I'd love to have a video of Cliff and Gabe on the tractor, but the only camera I had with me was my new smart-phone.  The sun was shining so brightly, I couldn't even see what I was aiming at.  Right then and there, I made up my mind to carry the digital camera with me outside, because it's quicker and easier to use.

It's morel season, although nobody around here is finding a lot of them, just a few little greys.  We need rain, and soon, if it's going to be a decent mushroom year.  As for me, I've almost lost the taste for them, and haven't been able to climb the hills and hunt them for years anyway.  One thing that always heralds morel season is the Redbuds blooming.  My dear departed friend Christine gave me a baby redbud tree four years ago.  It's about ready to burst out in bloom.
When I walk past the tree, I always think of Christine.  

She loved full moons, gardens, springtime, her family, all of nature's creatures, and most of all, Jesus.  I'm so glad I met her during her brief time on this earth.  


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Our first smartphones

We have never wanted smartphones.  For one thing, we didn't want to spend that much money for Internet time.  When I heard what people were paying to stay wired to the Internet constantly, I shuddered.  We neither one actually use a phone much, especially me, so about a year ago I switched us to Consumer Cellular:  $40 a month for the two of us.  However, since I DO like being wired to the Internet on the road, I'd pay $25 every couple of months for cellular coverage from ATT for my iPad.  If we went on a long trip, that $25 worth might only last a month, but otherwise it was good for two or three months.  It was all we really needed in order to stay connected while away from home.  

Unfortunately, Cellular didn't have the best coverage out here, so that caused a few problems.  Also, they only had two choices in flip phones:  I took one model, Cliff chose the other.  The reviews were horrible on both.  I figured they'd probably be OK for us, even though they did leave something to be desired.  Cliff, because he's about half deaf, had trouble hearing his phone.  He doesn't like to talk for an extended period of time because he can only make out phone conversations with his right ear; his right arm gets tired after awhile, holding the phone to his ear.  Bluetooth would probably work well for him, but he didn't want to learn how to use it.  I hope we can change that one of these days.  I think it will change his life.    

So T-mobile came up with a plan for seniors:  for two people, it's $70 monthly for unlimited Internet, with no added taxes or other charges.  Yes, that's $30 more than we paid Consumer Cellular, but we were getting pretty unhappy with them and didn't have Internet.  I know I won't be buying cell coverage on the iPad any more, so that helps make up for the higher phone bill.  After navigating on my new phone for a couple of days, I'm fairly well convinced I won't be buying another iPad when my present one dies, or if I do, it'll be a used one from Ebay.  

We bought two of the cheapest phones T-mobile had.  I like mine, but Cliff is having a rough time getting around on his.  He's never used any devices with apps, and once he opens an app, he isn't sure what to do with it; when he's done with it, I keep telling him to close his apps; he asks how, I show him.  We've repeated this process many times but it doesn't seem to stick with him.  Part of the problem, I believe, is that he just doesn't mess with it enough.  He needs to sit there and navigate to one thing and another to get familiar with it rather than hoping he'll soak it all up by osmosis.    

He can bring up the camera, but can't figure out how to take a picture.  Yes, we've been living in the stone age.  Another problem, his huge fingers.  Keeping his fingers off the screen when he's holding it is a challenge for him; his fingers look like sausages (thanks Lee J.; your description was accurate and I'm keeping it.)

The grandson came over at dinnertime to get out of the way of his wife's house-cleaning, and we started bombarding him with questions:  How do I do this?  How can I find that?  "You mean I have a flashlight on this thing?  Well I'll be damned!"  He cleared a lot of unnecessary apps off Cliff's phone and put other apps in a handier spot.  I watched and learned a few things too.  My daughter used to be stuck with this sort of task, but now the grandson lives closer, so he's elected.

I'm sure most of my readers have used smartphones for years and think I'm an idiot, but this is a whole new ball game for us.  I'm a little ahead of Cliff, thanks to my use of an iPad... not to mention the fact I've logged many more hours online in general than he has.  I wish there were a simple solution to his clumsy, big fingers.  Maybe when we receive the protective cover I ordered for his phone, it'll give him more outside edge to hold onto.  He really wants to figure it out, and I guess that's a start.  

Life is good, time is short, and learning new things is good for us, in spite of how much we hate having to do it.  


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Peoria Riverfront Museum

By the time we left the Caterpillar Visitor's Center, it was around 3 PM.  We hadn't had a meal since nine o'clock that morning, although there had been snacks on the bus to help keep body and soul together.  We voted on whether to go to Golden Corral or Red Lobster.  Golden Corral won, but not by much.  So we went to Red Lobster for our meal the second day, after visiting this Riverfront Museum.

  You can enter the museum from the river side, coming from the parking garage, or the street side, which is where our bus driver let us off so he could go gamble at the casino.

Folks, this place was great!  I could have spent eight hours here:  The museum contains Abraham Lincoln items, tells the whole history of Illinois, and has one Imax-like movie (amazing!), two other movie theaters showing various films of interest, and a planetarium.  I probably didn't see half of that, but I sure enjoyed what I saw.   

Here's most of our group getting ready to check the place out.

looking toward the depot, Lincoln and Perry Como (I'm still laughing about someone pairing these two up)
A portable desk used by Lincoln

Where the Emancipation Proclamation was drafted

I wasn't caught in the act, but I broke a rule with the above picture.  There are signs all over the place about not using the flash when you take pictures, but at this point I hadn't seen the signs.  So I desecrated this desk by using my flash.

 Posing beside Lincoln makes me look fat.

Mary Todd's rocking chair

Lots of other items of interest, too...
John Deere's plow, the item that started an entire business!

Let me suggest you take a good look at the museum's website (click HERE) to see all they have to offer:  There's a theater showing movies made in Illinois over the years, an Imax-type theater that makes you feel you are part of the documentary you're watching, and a planetarium.  You could stay in the place all day long, and have something to do.  

My two souvenir cups, one from Caterpillar and one from the Riverfront Museum.

I'm sorry I took so long getting back to this, but I've been in a funk with this business of having December weather halfway through April.  It happens.  It's Missouri.  But I don't handle it as well as I did in my younger days.  Things seem to be looking up now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gingerbread for breakfast

I have started working on the second entry telling you about our bus trip, but it's tedious and I need a break from all the picture-loading and link-searching.  So I'm here now to make a confession:  I had gingerbread for breakfast today WITH whipped cream.  Not Cool Whip, but real whipped cream; as real as you can get in the store, anyway.  I've lived with cream from Jersey cows most of my life, so it's hard to believe the store-bought stuff is genuine, although I know it is.

I have been wanting gingerbread with whipped cream for ages, but that isn't Cliff's favorite.  For the first few years of our marriage, if Cliff didn't like something I cooked, he didn't tell me.  That's my fault, since I took it as a personal affront, even criticism, when he told me.  It was a long time before I was mature enough to let him tell me the foods he would rather not be served, but eventually he found out it was safe to be honest with me... at least, about food.  He doesn't hate it, but if there's any other dessert around, he'll pass on the gingerbread.  So I stopped making gingerbread.  By the way, Toll House cookies aren't his favorite either, but I didn't stop making those because most everybody else in the family loves them.  As for the gingerbread, nobody seemed to miss it, so I deleted it from my life.

For some reason gingerbread with whipped cream came to mind a few months ago and has haunted my imaginings ever since, but we are both trying not to let our weight get out of control, and Cliff doesn't like it.  I'm surprised I haven't actually had dreams about gingerbread.  

Our daughter and her husband come to visit, most Tuesday evenings.  I don't fix supper for them because Cliff and I don't eat an actual meal in the evenings, and if I fixed them something, Cliff wouldn't be able to resist.  However, when my daughter and I messaged, she said they wanted to come and bring their daughter and her new baby:  She asked if I could cook something, but said if I didn't want to, they'd get a pizza on the way home from work.  I figured Cliff and I could break with the usual routine once, and told her I'd make sausage-and-corn-bread squares, simple fare that's easy to make.  Most all the family members like it.  At my age, if they didn't, I wouldn't much care.  I stopped carrying folks on a chip a long time ago.  Entitlement stops at my house.  

But I digress.  People coming for a meal means someone will eat dessert if I make it.  I found a gingerbread recipe that sounded like my old one but made a smaller amount than in the old days, using a 9X9" pan rather than 9X13.  When it was done I took a bite from the corner of the pan and knew I'd hit pay-dirt.  When it was almost time for the group to arrive, I whipped a cup of cream.  

Dreams DO come true.  I didn't eat any of the sausage-corn-bread; I had a big piece of gingerbread with whipped cream on top for supper.  WOW, it was as good as I remembered!  Cliff asked me whether I'd be mad if he had a piece, what with his history of not liking it.  I told him to go ahead, which he did.  He had no comment afterward, so I assume it still isn't his favorite.  The son-in-law, on the other hand, not only ate a piece, but asked if I'd mind if he took a piece for his lunch in the morning.  This raised his status in my book by two points.  

This morning there was half a bowl of whipped cream left in the refrigerator.  I found the biggest piece of gingerbread, dropped it in the bowl, and ate all that with a smile on my face and a cup of coffee by my side.  I wish I'd taken a picture, but your mental image of me with my gingerbread will have to do.  

I'm sharing a picture taken last night of me with my newest great-grandbaby.  I apologize for the high-water breeches I was wearing:  In January I must have had a premonition that the coming several months would be harsh ones, because I bought some men's flannel-lined jeans when stores first started putting winter clothes on clearance.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of choice on the leg length of the remaining Carhartts.  No matter, I figured.  I wouldn't be wearing them anywhere except at home.  

A Bible verse comes to mind:  "For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid that shall not be known and come abroad."

And now the whole Internet has access to a picture of me in my too-short jeans.  Notice Gabe trying to check out the baby.  He wasn't jealous, just curious.  Probably he was thinking, "Hey, this seems like another kid.  I like kids.  Why isn't it running, like the one that is always hanging around does?"

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Caterpillar Visitor's Center

 After a five-hour-plus ride, we all stood up gradually and got our bodies moving off the bus and into the Caterpillar Visitor Center.  Click on that link and you can read all about it.  You can even scroll down the page and see "take a virtual tour" to go through the whole place by yourself.

 As soon as we were in, we looked down on the museum.  The big truck that takes up the left-hand side of this picture isn't real, since the weight and girth of an actual Decatur-built example could pose some structural issues for the building.
These 340-ton behemoths are 25 feet tall, cost about $5 million, depending on options, and redefine the term “monster” truck. They are so big, in fact, that few of the 4,000-strong Decatur work force has ever seen one fully assembled. More than 30 feet wide and too large to be driven on any road, they are shipped in sections to the mine sites where they work. It then takes a team of 20 skilled mechanics and fabricators working 24 hours a day for 11 days to put it together.
 I think Cliff and I both look silly in this picture, but this shows you how huge the tires really are. 

What a truck!

This explains how "Best" became "Caterpillar".

I enjoyed the story of this cute little antique dozer.  All the old ones here are on loan, owned by a family in California.  To read the full story, click HERE.

There were several simulators allowing the big boys to experience what it's like to operate heavy equipment.  Cliff tried it for awhile, with a guide giving him a hand.


One lady in our group asked me, "So, do you really enjoy tractor shows and museums like this?"

Indeed I do.  First of all, it's a road trip.  But I like any sort of museum with old things, and I'm interested in the stories behind them.  I love stories, always have; especially true ones.  I love the sense of history you feel, looking at things that were brand new before my parents were born.  It's part of America!

More tomorrow, from the Peoria Riverfront Museum.