Friday, August 17, 2018

Tis the parade season

Local fairs are getting under way, so we have many opportunities to show off a tractor in front of lots of people.  Last week's fair and parade was in Norborne, and there was a huge turnout for such a small town.  As we passed by the spectators, we saw many guys giving Cliff a "thumbs-up".  At the end of the parade route, Cliff took a turn away from the rest of the parade participants in order to get back to the truck and trailer sooner.  Just as we got out of the hearing range for the folks watching the parade, from somewhere in the little 550 came a grinding, rattling noise from beneath us in the guts of that little 550 that scared us both silly, and made us think perhaps our tractor was ruined.  Our pride was totally deflated, replaced by despair.  At least there were no witnesses to the tragedy.

Cliff came home and totally tore the tractor down.  He knew it might damage his paint job in places, but he was determined to get to the bottom of things.  He found no problem in the innards of the beast and put it back together, feeling rather discouraged.  However, there was one thing that had been nagging at him since the terrible noise was first heard:  His first thought had been that the problem was in the brakes or brake housing; but the noise sounded to ugly for that he hadn't checked the brakes.  Turns out a couple of springs had dropped out of place and were rattling around in there.  He did not need to tear down the tractor, pull off the axels, and so forth, to fix it; but what's done is done.    

Tomorrow we plan to participate in the parade at Lexington.  Because this comes on the heels of last week's experience, I remembered to buy some candy to toss to the little beggers charming children watching the parade.  I remembered to buy $17 worth of candy at Walmart.
I was careful to buy candy that wouldn't melt on a hot day.  However, there are certain risks in bring M&Ms into our house, so I placed the candy, unopened, in the back seat of our truck and did not tell Cliff, who then promptly forgot about it.  

Yesterday (Thursday) the Little Princess and I were having a discussion.  I told her Cliff and I, and possible Gabe, were going to be in the parade at Lexington Saturday.  "And for once, I'm going to throw candy out for the kids!"

She said, "Donna, would you save me some of the sour ones?"

This threw me for a loop, because I had never mentioned the candy.  And as far as I knew, she hadn't had any opportunity to see it.  I was very confused!

When Cliff came in, I told him about this as the kid listened, and even he was totally flabbergasted.  Have we been babysitting a clairvoyant child all this time?

Then she said, "Remember when we went to get the mail?"

Last Monday, Cliff had a check he wanted sent as soon as possible and he'd jumped in the truck with it; Little Princess wanted to go along, so he put her in the back seat (where the candy was hidden in the floorboard).  Nothing was ever said about it until yesterday, when she asked me to save some of the sour candy for her.  I'm amazed, as much as anything, that she hadn't brought up the subject sooner, but she didn't... until I mentioned the candy myself.

I'm thinking she knew it was safe to mention it, once I let the cat out of the bag.  Of course I agreed to save her some.   


Friday, August 10, 2018

2018 State Fair (following a child)

One thing that never sunk into my brain when my own kids were small:  If you're taking them somewhere you think will be interesting and fun for a kid, you can't expect them to enjoy everything exactly the way you had pictured.  While babysitting the Little Princess for almost five years, that lesson has sunk in.  When we take her someplace like the zoo or a carnival, I let go of my expectations and allow her to seek out what interests her, because she is an out-of-the-box thinker.

We loaded up to go to Sedalia yesterday around 8:30.  We hadn't gotten twenty minutes away from home when the child announced, "Donna, I forgot my shoes!"

Cliff had something to say about this, but I assured him we'd be able to go into Walmart in Sedalia and find her some plastic sandals just like she had left at home.  I also took time to let her know it was my fault, not hers, that she forgot her shoes.  Relieved, she gave an eye-roll that seemed to say, "Oh yeah, I knew it had to be you!"  

Another thing I've learned since my own kids' childhood:  Always admit when something is your fault, or when you've made a mistake.  

Still, she worried about how we'd know her size, and wanted me to call one of her parents and ask them what it was.  I explained we'd just try some on her and see what fit.  As it turned down, all the summer sandals were marked down to $3; there was only one pair of pink sandals that fit her (close call), very similar to the ones she and I left at home.  Crisis averted.  

Opening Day at the Sedalia fair, low prices on fair foods are featured.  Corn dogs for $2, dippin' dots for $2 instead of $2.50.  We weren't hungry when we first arrived, so we simply walked until our girl saw anything of interest, then we'd stop and let her examine whatever it was.

First of all we walked into an air-conditioned building; it was already hot outside, so it felt great.  Someone was selling jewelry; she felt the need to touch every single shiny object in front of her.   

Not far from that was an item I personally checked out.  In fact, I still want it!
You can buy the stool, put it on any standard bucket, and take stuff with you in the bucket.  I can't think of a single reason I need it, but I want it, OK?  Even though I don't know what I'd do with it; I figured when we were ready to leave I'd go back and buy one, but I never gave it another thought.  Now, the seat was  $20 (or two for $30), so it wasn't cheap.  But this morning I went to the website thinking maybe I'd buy one online, and the price is even higher!  Oh well, it's probably for the best.

Next we spied a nice little playground where she enjoyed playing last year.

This one required a little help from Cliff.

We got to sit for awhile, so this stop was a bonus for us.  Between Cliff's hip and my knee, we're a mess.  Next, the conservation building.

That's a big one!

And then, out back... an eagle!  

Next, we found ourselves at the sheep barn.  
This is how they lead, manage, and pose the sheep.  I was amazed... it looks pretty difficult.  I wonder why they don't use halters.  Sheep aren't very bright, so maybe they can't be taught to lead.  Of course, hogs aren't restrained by ropes or halters, either.  But they're really smart, and learn to be guided with a stick.  

She acted the same way as with the jewelry:  If a sheep could be reached, she intended to touch it.  

We took a break to eat corn dogs and some not-good pizza, so our girl wanted to take a picture.  Sorry Cliff, but you made the face and it's funny.  

None of us had ever tasted dippin' dots, but we have now!  I like them.  

Feeding goats is fun.

As soon as she milked the cow, we headed for the car.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Finally! Good bread from the store

My blog entries are starting to remind me of Charlie Weaver's "Letters From Mama".  Most of my readers probably don't know who that is, so here's a sample: 

I used to think he was hilarious; nowadays he barely makes me smile with his cornball lines.

Anyhow.  I've been thinking perhaps I should just think of my blog as a letter with random observations, little pieces of my life like the drivel I pass along on Facebook all the time (and would probably do better consolidating on this blog).  If I start doing that, I'm going to have to make notes to myself, or I'll forget things I want to tell the world.  

Today I must tell you about the wonderful bread we discovered.

I've complained frequently on this blog about store-bought bread.  There was a time when bread was soft, fresh, and delicious for a week or more after you bought it, although it would eventually mold.  I remember as a kid I'd grab a slice of bread, peel off the crust, and make little dough-balls out of the rest, it was that soft.  Then I'd roll up the crust, which I'd tried to get off in one long piece, like you roll up cinnamon rolls.  

During our recent trip to Minnesota, we ran out of bread.  Our motel was in New Ulm, where we went looking for a grocery store.  The one we found uses customer loyalty cards similar to the ones our local Price Chopper issues.  The prices were pretty high anyway, but without a card they were even higher.  I couldn't find our usual (lousy) Wonder Bread, so I randomly grabbed a loaf of Sara Lee Butter Bread ($3.50).  Folks, it was the best mistake I've ever made.  Not only was it soft and fresh when I bought it, it remained soft and fresh for over ten days here at home (and didn't mold, but I think these days there's an additive that prevents mold).  Of course I went looking for it locally.  Dave's, our nearest grocery store, didn't have it.  Neither did the nearest Walmart, but it's a small one, so perhaps other Walmarts carry it.  I told Cliff, "If anybody has it, Price Chopper will."

Price Chopper is about 25 miles away, but the other day we were in Blue Springs and I struck gold.  There it was.  

Honestly, I may as well throw our bread machine away now.  I only bought it because we couldn't find any bread that seemed fresh to us, and every once in awhile home-made bread made up for that.  However, I don't trust Sara Lee to keep making decent bread forever, so I'm keeping the machine.  Too many times I've looked and looked for just the right thing, found it, and then they've stopped making it. 

I'm almost in the mood to have sandwiches for lunch after all the talk about good bread, but I'll go ahead with what I had planned.  


Thursday, August 02, 2018

A Dinosaur Adventure

It's really hard to get Cliff to drive into Kansas City for any reason whatsoever, but I thought the little girl would enjoy seeing huge, moving dinosaurs, and I was a little curious myself; so I resorted to nagging.  

Finally, just to shut me up, Cliff agreed to go.  "OK," he warned, "we'll drive up there and give those people a bunch of money, and the kid won't even think it's a big deal."  

I have to admit, he was sort of right.  At the age of almost-five, looking at the gigantic bones and fake moving dinosaurs certainly did nothing for her, although she tried to show some enthusiasm, for our benefit.  It was a pretty quick trip through the exhibit.  She spent more time digging for bones in the sand than anything else, I think because there were a lot of other kids playing in there.  

With that said, it was an enjoyable day as a whole (at least for the females in the group).  We got out of the house and saw some different things and people.  We had a picnic over near the Truman Library, which our little girl may have enjoyed more than the dinosaurs; she certainly was cheerful while she devoured her peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich.  None of the pictures inside the actual exhibit turned out well because it was semi-dark in there and we weren't allowed to use the flash.   

These first pictures were taken before we got our tickets, outside the entrance.  

And now, a picture that WOULD have been nice, if I'd had a chance to use the flash.  Keep in mind these things were moving all around us.  That's Cliff, with the child on his shoulders, if you couldn't tell.

Our girl is in the middle back there.  Yes, this was her favorite part, and she wasn't really trying to uncover the big bones, which was the object of the whole thing.  She was just playing in a sandbox.  

Yes Cliff, you were right, but wasn't it a good day?

Notice in the corner in back, a boy is covering his brother with sand.  Obviously our girl wasn't the only one who enjoyed the sand more than the big moving dinosaurs.

Then it was noon, and we were hungry.

The world doesn't have enough picnics these days.  

We two girls laid down on a blanket and took a selfie together.

However, on such a magnificent day as this one, we felt something was still lacking.... Dessert!  We all like McDonald's caramel sundaes.  

And we all lived happily ever after.

Here's a very poor quality, but also very short, video.  Perhaps it'll give you an idea of how the dinosaurs moved around.  Use your imagination, OK?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Random stuff

I always enjoy road trips, and Cliff often does when he knows there will be a tractor show at the end of it.  Unfortunately, he decided that this show, admittedly a good one, wasn't worth such a long trip.  

Folks in Minnesota are friendly and have that delightful accent, very much like the Wisconsin slang.  I love regional accents.  I wasn't actually looking for the most economical place to stay when I called to make reservations, but I didn't have a lot of choices.  In fact, we had to stay 45 minutes away from the actual show, because all the motels nearby were booked full.  Everyone else at the motel with us was there for the same purpose, so there were a lot of orange shirts, and even an Allis Chalmers tractor on a trailer parked out front.  

As usual, our meals on the road to and from the event consisted of sandwiches and raw carrot sticks (our replacement for the crunch you get from chips).  It's just so much easier than hunting down a restaurant, wondering what to order and how much it's going to cost, and then eating a meal with a bunch of strangers around.  Iowa has great rest stops along the freeways, with flowers blooming and lots of picnic tables... some shaded, some not; so no matter the weather, you can choose whichever you need for your comfort.  Oh, and we ate suppers in the motel room:  chili hot dogs the second night, the egg salad left over from our noontime sandwiches the previous night.  Not the healthiest fare perhaps, but neither is most of the overpriced stuff you get in a restaurant.  The only meal we actually purchased was on the grounds of the show at Hutchinson.  Proceeds go to the tractor club that puts on the show, so we didn't mind paying $8 each.   Below you'll see a small sampling of the tractors there.

I had downloaded three audiobooks from the library:  "Y is for Yesterday" by the late Sue Grafton; "The Zookeeper's Wife"; and "The Whistler" by John Grisham.  Sue Grafton has never been my favorite, but I thought she'd entertain us well enough.  We listened most of the way to Minnesota, but when we headed home Cliff confessed the author was taking too long getting things said; I sort of agreed, and we switched to "The Zookeeper's Wife".  I was getting into it pretty well (OK, I fell asleep once), but Cliff thought it was too wordy also.  Next time I'll just take a stack of Readers' Digests and see if that's condensed enough for him.   I'll probably get "The Zookeeper's Wife" for Kindle and finish it alone.  I can't listen to audiobooks much because they ALWAYS end up putting me to sleep.  

While I'm at it, I'll let you see Cliff's latest project, another "Donna Carrier" for another tractor.  It's small compared to the one on the Allis, but I think I can make room for my dog if I want to.
I'm not sure what the kid is doing there; perhaps keeping a piece of candy out of Gabe's reach.  

If you're wondering why Cliff put a blue umbrella on it instead of Oliver green, it's simple:  We already had this one.  And we're not fancy or picky, so who cares about the color?  Oh, and at least it matches the cooler.  

He's going to attach that metal thing onto the carrier somewhere to use as a cupholder for my bottle of water.  It was part of an automobile air conditioner when he salvaged it.  "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."

We have our choice of three events to which we can take our tractor this weekend:  One at Odessa, one at Dover, and one at Norborne.  I don't know who, if anyone, from the club is going to each fair, but Cliff wants to go to Norborne because we've never gone to their Soybean Festival before.  

Since our trip last weekend wasn't planned until the last few days before, it was no use calling our usual doggie motel to see if they had room for Gabe, so I called in a favor with my granddaughter, Amber.  A few years back I watched her Mini-pin, Sophie, for several days, so I asked if she'd be willing to watch Gabe.  She was fine with that.  Old Sophie has health problems due to her age, but Amber has another dog, a young Shitzu named Rory.  As it turns out, the two young dogs had fun, and so did the cat that lives there who went chasing Gabe around the house batting him with it's paw.  The good news is that since all the pets were so happy together, I was invited to leave Gabe there any time I needed a dog-sitter.  He wins, because he can sit beside a person all day like he does at home, and I win because I'm more at ease with him there, and I save $20 per night.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Borrowing digital books from the library

When I bought my first e-reader (a Nook) I found it rather difficult to borrow a library book.  I had to go to the computer to download the book, then click-and-drag it to the Nook after I'd connected it to the computer.  There may have been a better way to do it at the time, but that's the only way I could figure out.  

Things have come a long way, baby!  I use the iPad these days with a Kindle app, an Overdrive app, and, more recently, the Libby app recommended by my library.  So many books!

Because we're in a rural area of Lafayette County, my online library was from Trails Regional Library.  What a wonderful resource I'd found, with the ability to sit in my easy chair at home, check out books, and return them.  Of course, if it was a really popular book I'd have to put it on hold and wait for weeks, sometimes months.  But it was free and I'm patient, and thankful that at this point in my life I can check books out without making Cliff haul me to a library.  I felt rich.

Earlier this year when a friend came by, we were discussing libraries and their digital content.  She asked me what library I used and I said, "Trails Regional; it's the only one that's free to me."

"What about Mid-Continent Library?" she asked.

"I'd have to pay for a card there.  You have to be in either Jackson, Clay, and Platte County... or else work or own property there, in order to have a free library card."

"Oh no," she exclaimed.  "I'm in Lafayette County, and I have a Mid-Continent card."

I didn't think so, but I didn't argue.  When she left, I went to the Mid-Continent website to check.  Sure enough, I was right:
  • If you live, work, own property, or go to school within the Mid-Continent Public Library district service area (Clay, Platte and Jackson Counties, excluding the Kansas City (MO) School District and the municipality of North Kansas City), you are eligible for a library card. Visit any of our locations to apply, or complete our online registration form.
  • Also, if you live or own property in a library district with which we have a reciprocal borrowing agreement, you are eligible for a card. Visit any of our locations to apply, or complete our online registration form.
  • The following options are available to persons living outside of the Mid-Continent Public Library service area:
    • Out-of-District card -- New Out-of-District cards can be issued at any of our locations. New Out-of-District cards will be issued only to Missouri or Kansas residents living outside the MCPL service area. You must be present to register for an Out-of-District card. There is a fee of $65.00 (as of July 2018) and the card is valid for one year. Cards about to expire or expired can be renewed in person or by mail, phone, or email.
    • Research card -- Research cards will be issued only at the Midwest Genealogy Center. Research cards can be issued to U.S. residents living outside the MCPL service area (but inside the U.S.). You must be present to register for a Research card. There is a fee of $32.50 (as of July 2018) and the card is valid for six months. Research cards are not able to be renewed. (You may apply for a new card after current card expires, but the same new card rules will apply.)
  • If you live, work, own property, or go to school within the Mid-Continent Public Library district service area (Clay, Platte and Jackson Counties, excluding the Kansas City (MO) School District and the municipality of North Kansas City), you are eligible for a library card. Visit any of our locations to apply, or complete our online registration form.
  • Also, if you live or own property in a library district with which we have a reciprocal borrowing agreement, you are eligible for a card. Visit any of our locations to apply, or complete our online registration form.
  • The following options are available to persons living outside of the Mid-Continent Public Library service area:
    • Out-of-District card -- New Out-of-District cards can be issued at any of our locations. New Out-of-District cards will be issued only to Missouri or Kansas residents living outside the MCPL service area. You must be present to register for an Out-of-District card. There is a fee of $65.00 (as of July 2018) and the card is valid for one year. Cards about to expire or expired can be renewed in person or by mail, phone, or email.
    • Research card -- Research cards will be issued only at the Midwest Genealogy Center. Research cards can be issued to U.S. residents living outside the MCPL service area (but inside the U.S.). You must be present to register for a Research card. There is a fee of $32.50 (as of July 2018) and the card is valid for six months. Research cards are not able to be renewed. (You may apply for a new card after current card expires, but the same new card rules will apply.)
I didn't give up, although obviously I was right.  However, just to prove it to myself, I stopped by the Buckner location, told a lady what my friend had told me, and asked if that was right.  She asked where I lived; then she assured me I could, indeed, have a card there.  I didn't ask why the website says I can't.  Maybe it's proximity to a branch, since Buckner is only ten miles from our house.

Let me tell you, it's great.  If I put a hold on a book that has, say, 40 people waiting ahead of me, I don't have a long wait at all, perhaps a week or two.  I would assume this is because larger libraries are allowed to lend out more digital copies of a book at the same time.  So now, using the "Libby" app, I can choose from two libraries.  However, I don't think I'll be using Trails Regional much any more.  

Come on, folks.  If you're still paying money for books, QUIT that and use your local library.  Save your money for Starbucks, or anything else you love.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


A few days ago, Cliff went to see the radiology doctor, who told him he wouldn't need to see him for a year.  He addressed a few of Cliff's concerns, but he didn't actually do anything.  I guess there was nothing that needed to be done.  We didn't have to pay for the visit, so that's a good thing.  

Since our little girl isn't here this week, we are taking advantage of it.  Monday we went to McPherson, Kansas, to visit my ninety-year-old sister, Maxine.  I let her know we were coming, so she had some of our favorite foods waiting for us.  I had made Cliff promise to take me and Maxine to the Carriage Crossing, a Mennonite restaurant about 45 minutes from her home.  However, after eating the supper she had prepared Monday evening  I realized there were plenty of leftovers for the next day and scratched the whole idea of wasting time and money on food that wouldn't be half as good.  In comparison to the meal my sister prepared, any restaurant would have taken a back seat.  Cliff and Maxine were happy with my decision.  The trip to Carriage Crossing was going to take care of the birthday dinner Cliff owes me, so he is still in my debt!  The truth is, I seem to be less interested in eating out with every year that passes.  

me and maxine, 2018
We had a nice trip on our way to Mcpherson, taking time out at a rest stop at noon to eat the egg salad sandwiches I'd prepared.  The trip home is always frustrating because we usually leave after the noon meal; this assures we'll enter the greater Kansas City area in the middle of rush hour.  I have to say we are enthralled with our new Garmin, though!  It lets us know when there's a delay ahead, and figures the extra travel time into our arrival time.  It has other features Cliff loves, too.  I've always appreciated Garmin GPS devices, but this one is loaded with features we never had before.  We are impressed.

We didn't take Gabe, the Miniature Schauzer, as much as he wanted to go along.  My sister isn't a dog person.  She doesn't dislike them, but she doesn't especially want one in her house.  We do not take dogs into other folks' homes if they don't have dogs unless they are the sort of people who love dogs so much they actually want them there.  I've always felt it was rude to do so.  I've heard folks say, "If I can't take my dogs, I'm won't go there."  Well, I happen to value my 90-year-old sister more than my dog, so he got to go to his usual loving doggie hotel, Bed and Bones.  I really didn't think about him much yesterday evening when we got home too late to pick him up.  But this morning was a different story.  Early mornings are Gabe's bonding time with me, and I felt like a part of me was missing.  I normally begin my day letting him out of his kennel and taking him outside.  As soon as we come back in, he expects me to spend some time petting him.  What a desolate morning it was!  

We picked him up this morning and he was very happy to see us.

This weekend Gabe will have a different experience:  Cliff decided, sort of at the last minute and with me encouraging him, to go to the Orange Spectacular in Minnesota.  Again, we really can't take Gabe along.  I know there are motels that allow dogs, but I have no idea whether my dog would abstain from barking if we left him there alone.  So he's going to stay at the oldest granddaughter's house.  I told her a while back I'd pay her for her services, but she said that since I babysat her Sophie a few years ago, she wouldn't take anything.   She has two dogs, Rory and Sophie.  AND a fenced yard.  
Rory the Shitzu and old Sophie the Mini-Pin

The show we're attending is an Allis-Chalmers-only event; Allis Chalmers happens to be my favorite classic tractor.  I think we'll have a great time, but then any time I get to go on a road trip it's fun.  Our destination is an eight-hour drive from us, so I have some audio books from the library downloaded that will help pass the time.  Oh, and the high temperatures are forecast to be under 80 degrees when we're there, with lows at night around 60.  What a change that will be.
Wish us luck, and keep on the sunny side.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


Cliff and I went to the Mayview Picnic today, using our largest tractor (the Oliver 1855) as transportation.  They have a huge yearly tractor drive that usually involves 30 or more participants.  Most folks haul their tractors in on a trailer, unload them, and line up for the drive.  Since Mayview is only about fifteen miles from our house, it's one of the few times Cliff can drive the big tractor and show it off; it's too big to load on any of our trailers.  We drive there by ourselves, then line up with the others and go even further, although this year they abbreviated the ride because of the heat.  It's slow going, since some of the antique tractors can't go over six miles per hour.  In fact, I think Cliff is about ready to swear off tractor drives because they're so boring to him.  I, on the other hand, really enjoy it for the most part, but then I don't get out much.  I'll post pictures in another entry.

Gabe has gone on two tractor drives with us and loved every minute.  Today we were getting ready to leave and I let him go outside with us while we prepared the tractor.  He saw the tractor sitting there with the basket behind it that he's ridden in twice before, and immediately ran and jumped in, ready to go.  
It was a rather sad moment when I carried him back inside and placed him in his kennel, but it was for his own good.  It was far too hot a day to keep a dog out in the sun for hours.  

Now, on to my ramblings about things that have been running through my mind lately... I made notes during my ride in the basket behind the tractor, but it's such a bumpy ride, you can hardly make out what I jotted down.
First on the list?  Cows, horses, heat.  It has always amazed me that horses will stand out in full sunlight on a 100 degree day when there's shade available.  I realize that horseflies and other biting, stinging insects are more of a bother in the shade, but I would think being cooler would be a positive tradeoff.  Not so.  Very, very seldom do you see horses seeking shade.  Cows, on the other hand, know the coolest places to rest on a hot day.  They have to be out in the sun while they're grazing, but once their bellies are full they find some shade.  I learned long ago that if you want to know where it's coolest on a hot day, all you need to do is see where the cattle lie down to chew their cuds.  

Second item on the list is Gabe with the tractor.  I've already covered that.  

The third item says, quite simply, sing.  In a moment of quiet, early-morning pondering last week, this question came to me:  If I knew I only had a short time to live, what would I do differently?  The answer was almost immediate... I'd sing more.  I don't mean singing for an audience, or even getting out the guitar and singing.  I'd just open my mouth and sing more often for the pure joy of singing.  My husband, who doesn't sing too well, has mastered this art.  My parents sang around the house all the time when I was growing up, just because they felt like it... Daddy especially.  He sang randomly and often.  If you wanted to get my mom singing, all you had to do was put her in a rocking chair and hand her a baby; her first impulse was to sing.    

Cliff does have one rather endearing (or aggravating, depending on the day) way of getting stuck on one particular line out of some old country song, belting out the one line, and repeating it every five minutes or so.  But he SINGS!  Why is it I hardly ever sing "just because"? 

So today, riding in the basket behind the Oliver, I sang... mostly "Keep on the Sunny Side", but parts of a few other songs as well.  When I sang "Keep on the Sunny Side", I clapped my hands as I sang.  The tractors make plenty of noise, so nobody heard it but me.  Well, Cliff heard it a couple of times and thought I was hollering at him, but that's all.  I'd already told him about my plan to open up and sing, whether in the kitchen or the car or the garden.  So he'd turn, look at me, and smile when he realized I was singing.

It actually felt pretty good, singing for nobody.  I'm always resolving to do something or other like this and then not following through.  I hope I do better with this effort, which only involves myself and doesn't really require any effort on my part; one song a day would suffice.  Feel free to join me in this enterprise.  If Cliff can do it without even thinking about it, anybody can, although I hope you don't continually sing just one line from your current song-of-the-day.  

Sing a song, won't you?  It'll make you smile, and smiling always makes a person feel better.     

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Relaxing outside

My daughter loves relaxing in a hammock on her porch and decided I needed a hammock, so she bought one for me.  Unfortunately, she bought it as a Christmas gift, so I didn't get to use it for a long time.  On Mother's day she came out to supervise Cliff as he hung it for me, so her gift also became a Mother's Day gift, with Cliff putting in his efforts for Mother's Day... so it was also a gift from him.  None of the trees planted in my yard in 2008 were big enough to have branches that would support the thing (with my weight in it), so Rachel suggested it be hung on the big tree near Cliff's shop.

It was comfy and shade there, but anyone using the hammock (and there were several) was pretty much alone.  If folks were hanging out in the shop, the swing was too far from the group to join in discussions.  And if there was nobody in the shop, and I wanted to enjoy my gift?  REALLY alone, and yet far from the trailer house, where my Wifi lives.

I figured somebody must manufacture some sort of movable frame to support a hammock; and indeed, I found one on Amazon and showed it to Cliff.  He looked it over and said, "I could make something like that."  The grandson and Cliff have been obtaining various shapes and lengths of used metal lately at bargain-basement prices.

My birthday was Saturday.  Sunday Cliff, the grandson, and our son visiting from Georgia began construction.  Cliff called me to the shop when it was done, to make sure the hammock was at the proper height, and then it was moved to my front yard.

Last night I sat in that swing for a long, long time.  It was great, except for the heat.  I believe the temperature at the time was 96 degrees.  I sat there swinging myself by pushing with my toes on the ground wishing it were cooler and got an idea...

Right smack in front of me was the wading pool I'd filled for the child we babysit (and the dog, if he were so inclined).  I had light-weight clothes on and wasn't afraid to get wet, so I got out of the swing, went and sat down in the sun-warmed water, and then laid down, as much as possible, in order to get my top half wet.  

I was cool and comfortable swinging for another half-hour or so before I decided to go inside.  What a wonderful world!  And now my hammock is a Christmas gift, a Mother's Day gift, and a birthday gift.  And I'll even be able to use it in winter when Cliff is in the shop with a little heat on:  That swing and its frame will go in the shop!

Peace, my friends.  Keep cool if you can.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Useless little trees removed

Some years ago I received a solicitation from the National Arbor Day Foundation:  Join up for $5, get a dozen or so free trees, among which were Redbud, Dogwood... trees I actually wanted growing in my yard.  Trees are costly at nurseries, so I figured I'd be getting a real bargain. 

Well... not so much.  These were seedling trees, most of them under two inches tall.  Instructions told me to plant them in a cultivated area, like a garden, until they got bigger, so they didn't get lost in weeds.  I'm no great gardener, so all the trees died except the two Washington Hawthorns.  I was unfamiliar with the variety, but I should have known when they were the only survivors that I probably wouldn't want them.  It's been twelve to fifteen years, and here's all they've done so far.  Although the picture on the Internet shows flowers, this little misfit have NEVER flowered.  There's another one like him on the other side of the blue gate. 

Cliff has hated these pesky little trees for years, but I kept thinking they would turn into something decent eventually.  Then a few weeks ago I happened to step on one of the inch-long thorns of this tree, and it went straight in.  Cliff said there was at least a quarter-inch of a thorn stuck in my foot.  I usually have no trouble with splinters, ticks, or other unpleasant foreign objects pulled from my body, but I confess I made some groaning noises while he removed the thorn through the thick callous on the sole of my foot. 

Perhaps that influenced my decision to give Cliff permission to remove the unpleasant trees.  Anyhow, he was glad to do the job.  He'd be happy if there was nothing on the place that he or the grandson needs to mow around.  It was an easy job for the little John Deere to pull them from the ground.  He simply put a chain around the pathetic trunk, moved it back and forth a few times, and then backed up, pulling it right out of the ground.

You might hear our little Princess talking over the tractor noise on the following video.  She was concerned about the hole in the ground that was left behind.

I'm sorry, National Arbor Day Foundation.  But these trees had not one redeeming feature, and I kept them growing in hopes something wonderful would happen.  Hope springs eternal in the human breast.  Now they're gone.  

Happy Fourth of July!  We aren't celebrating until Saturday when our son is here.  I must say, after the noisy, exciting Independence Days we've had the past few years, it seems rather sad to have absolutely nothing going on for the fourth.  But since we retired, we barely know one day from another anyhow. 

Peace to you, my readers, and may none of your trees ever disappoint you. 

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Dear Country's Family Reunion

That's possibly how my letter to the producers of my favorite TV program will begin.  Or maybe "Dear Larry Black" or "Dear Bill Anderson".  

I binge-watch the show over and over again.  If any of the aging country singers mentions she's written a book, I'm all over that, googling until I find out if it's affordable.  I used to record all the (partial) episodes on RFDTV.  That was before Larry Black decided to have his own channel to show this stuff, a streaming channel available 24 hours a day.  Before they started the Country Roads station, I signed up to get two DVD's monthly for $10, each DVD a portion of one of their gatherings.  So we watched those, too.  

When they launched the streaming channel, the cost to subscribe was $10 a month; but they kindly decided, I suppose, that those folks paying $10 monthly for two CD's might feel a little cheated on the deal.  So for a period of one year, they are letting us, the buyers of the DVD's, have access to everything on Country Roads, a smart move on their part.  When my free year is over, I will cancel the DVDs and pay the $10 monthly to continue getting Country Roads.

I suppose it's a sign of older age that I've realized about all the pleasure I'm getting out of life nowadays is what I find on television, on the Internet, and in books.  Yes, it's come to that.  Having been a loner all my life, I also find myself considering those old country singers as close friends of mine (I've always had a vivid imagination).  I've watched the shows so much (the unedited versions can run for four to six hours, mostly just people talking about old times) that I find myself calling Jeanie Seeley simply "Seeley", because that's what my other friends (on the show) call her.  I cringe when I'm watching some of the older shows if someone calls Jean Shepherd "Jeanie", because she's made it known many times she hates being called Jeanie.  When I watch the last show Charlie Louvin attended I almost tear up when he says he's doing better and he's trusting the Lord to heal him, because I know it was filmed shortly before he died with cancer.  

Many older singers have rejuvenated their careers by being on the show.  I'm not sure how it will all end, since most of their fans are my age and older, but it's worked out well for them so far.  I wish they could outlive all their fans, but over thirty of those who appeared on the first show in 1997 have died.  

Oh, and the books they've written!  Jean Shepherd, Bill Anderson, Charlie Louvin, Georgette Jones, Moe Bandy, and others.  Many times I'll be watching an older show, as I was last night, hear someone mention a book he's written, and find it for $1.99 for the Kindle edition... you know, because they're older books.  Last night I bought a Kindle book by Georgette Jones, daughter of George and Tammy Wynette. 

I used to have questions in my mind that I wished I could ask some of my favorite singers, but now I don't even feel the need to approach them for so much as a picture.  If I watch Country's Family Reunion enough, I get the answers to any of my questions, with a little help from Google, on my nearby iPad.  Those folks are my friends!  I know about their partying days, how some of them got saved at some point and laid off the booze (but they still laugh, telling the stories of their youthful craziness), and their occasional lapses, falling off the wagon and then climbing back on.  When they do one of the "second generation" shows, the middle-aged children of some of the older singers know one another because they were mostly raised in Nashville and went to school together.  Some of the kids sound unbelievably like their famous parents when they sing.  Others, not so much.  

I've thought many times that there could never be a long-lasting series called "Rock's Family Reunion".  Most famous rock singers didn't live in a specific, central location and get to know one another.  Rock has nothing even remotely like the Grand Ole Opry to keep people coming back, getting together, and interacting.  It could only work for country singers (and gospel singers... think what the Gaithers have done). 

So I'm determined to write a letter of thanks to Larry Black, who thought up the whole concept, and maybe Bill Anderson, who hosts most of the shows.  I can't wait too long, because they're old too!  But in the meantime, I'm hoping this blog entry will get my thoughts centered on what I want to say to them.

They've put the gold in my golden years.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Instructions from the family doctor, from 1944

One of my favorite of Mother's keepsakes is a letter from the doctor who delivered me, in answer to a letter she had written to him.  I was born on July 7, so I would only have been a couple weeks old when this was written.  

I am so thankful my mom kept things like this.  

Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), she didn't follow the doctor's advice not to not spoil me.  She was in her 30's, and I was the first baby she successfully carried to full term, although she had a boy a few years before I was entered the world who went full term, but was strangled by the umbilical cord when he "dropped"; so he was still-born.  However, Mother did inherit a daughter when she married Daddy in 1932: my wonderful sister, Maxine, who has been a blessing to everyone with whom she ever came in contact.  Maxine was among those who helped spoil me.  


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Great fun at a tractor show

When Cliff and I arrived at Adrian (one of our favorite annual tractor shows), I followed him for awhile.  Then, as usual, I told him I had my phone, so he could call me if necessary.  And I headed off to see and do things I like more than Cliff does.  Don't get me wrong, I love the old tractors.  But there are always things I enjoy that he doesn't.  Like this, for instance.
An old church.  There's information telling where it came from, but I wasn't that interested in the specifics.  My knees don't like a lot of walking, and I needed a place to sit down in the shade.  

As I approached the door I heard singing.  Yes, they were singing the good, old-time hymns.  Man, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  I opened a hymn book and began singing my alto part at the top of my voice.  It was GREAT.  Mansion Over the Hilltop, In The Garden, and others I love.  I think we sang perhaps half a dozen before the time was up and the lady leading the songs said, "Come back next year."  (::note to self:: Get an earlier start next year.)

Next door to the church was an old school house similar to the one I attended in Iowa, only larger.  

Then I stepped outside the school and looked up the street of the little village...

And down the street.  

This is how all screen doors looked when I was a kid, only some were fancier.
Then I walked into sort of a re-creation of a long-ago general store, with other things thrown in.  I met a wonderful 86-year-old lady and discussed how much small towns have changed since our respective childhoods.  What a sweetheart she was.

This was the first artifact (?) I saw, once inside.

After visiting with the sweet lady for awhile (I wish I'd gotten a picture.  She looked like everybody's grandma), I went outside and tried to call Cliff.  Guess what?  No signal.  Well, I figured if I just sat on a bench on Main street, eventually Cliff would come along.  I finally got his phone to ring, but it went straight to voice mail and I told him where I was.  I sat on a bench with a couple of very nice gentlemen who, for some reason, seemed to think I was funny.  At one point a young man walked past eating home-made ice cream from a dish, and I said, "Where did you get that ice cream?  Because I need some of that!"

He pointed the way.  I knew the day was going to be perfect when I got to the head of the line and found out they had all sorts of fruit cobbler to go with the ice cream.  Somebody pinch me!  I must be dreaming.

Cliff showed up while I was still eating my ice cream (with cherry cobbler), so of course I directed him to the source of my sweet snack.  He chose blackberry cobbler, by the way.  

The Parade of Power started soon after that.  First came the steam engines.

We didn't stay for the whole parade, but our next-door neighbor, Randy, was there with his big Farmall tractor.  Cliff said we'd wait until he came by, then we'd go home.

Farmalls (and Internationals) were the featured tractors, so several of them came along before our neighbor showed up.  Many of them were hauling children, and in some cases, youngsters were driving the tractors.  

And then came our neighbor, Randy.  Cliff loves this tractor... it's unique because it was a four-wheel-drive before four-wheel-drive tractors became so popular.  It's sort of rare, so it's no doubt worth quite a lot to collectors.  I mentioned to a lady sitting next to me that Randy's our neighbor; she asked if these guys actually use these tractors on their farms.  No, they don't.  They have newer tractors to use in the fields.  

Shortly after this, we came home.  I enjoyed this day a lot, and I hardly looked at any tractors at all, while I was there.  There's more to some of these shows than just tractors.