Monday, April 30, 2007

A visit to the cabin

This is my cabin in the woods. Actually, it's an old poolside shed somebody threw away. My son-in-law salvaged enough materials for Cliff to rebuild the thing and make it habitable. It's my retreat. Sometimes I spend the night there. Other times, like today, my dog and I spend an hour or so and have our spirits renewed.

This is the back of my cabin. There are two black walnut trees in front of it that I call "the old warriors". They stand guard over my cabin. The one on the left leans protectively over toward the right.

I can't turn Sadie loose at the house; she'll run away. But usually it's safe to let her run free at the cabin. She loves to fetch the Frisbee.

It was pretty warm today, and Sadie stood on the porch at the cabin panting like crazy. I think she's learning to like the Floyd Westerman CDs I play back there.

I happened to see a female cardinal acting as though she was wounded and dying, so I figured she was trying to draw me away from her nest; sure enough, I found it.

I bought these sheets of cardboard with sticky stuff on them to catch mice in the cabin. So far it's never caught a mouse, but I'm glad to be rid of all the spiders and bugs that got trapped there.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

a motorcycle ride

The trees had started to leaf out nicely three weeks ago; then we were hit by a week of hard freezes at night, which killed all the green. They are now starting to make new leaves again,thank goodness! The landscape is very bleak when the trees are bare.

Somebody owns a LOT of cattle! One thing about it, the hard freeze didn't ruin pasture-grass. It sure did hurt our alfalfa at home, though; we won't know how much damage was done until we mow it and see if it grows back properly.

I'm sure there's something really valuable to somebody here. I do enjoy going to swap-meets. You never know what you'll find, and it's a great place to people-watch.

or dog-watch.

Or find yourself a slightly-used car.

We usually avoid freeways when riding the Honda; but I had a hankering for steak, and there was only one way to get to Longhorn.

We hardly ever get appetizers, and of course we don't need the salt and calories. But once in a while, you just gotta splurge. These are firecracker chicken wraps. We really didn't taste any chicken, but they were sinfully good!

So was this.

And we were home in plenty of time for me to ride Blue. And for us to have a nice visit from the daughter's family, dogs and all.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Napoleon Elevator

I took Blue out this morning to the next-nearest town from here. It's a nice little ride up the highway, and I have a couple of friends, Shirley and Carol, that I figured to visit there. After finding nobody stirring at either house, I rode by the old grain elevator and realized it held an interesting story for my blog readers.

The elevator sits right smack-dab on the Missouri River. Cliff and I bought feed there for our livestock for many years. Unfortunately, the place closed a long time back. I had heard that somebody was using it for living quarters, and as I was snapping pictures from a distance, a man drove down the driveway in a pickup, parked, and motioned for me to ride my horse on down.

He asked me if I'd like to see inside. I didn't need to be asked twice! I dismounted and tied Blue up at a rail.

The fellow introduced himself to me, and I wish I could recall his name; but in the excitement, I totally forgot it. Anyhow, he said that when Cliff and I are out on the Gold Wing sometime to come by, and he'll give us a tour.

And if he's not there, we're to sit on the patio and watch the Missouri River roll by if we like.
I learned that this guy is sixty-eight years old, still working, and, in addition to all his other hobbies, he flies. I can't wait for Cliff to meet him and see the place.

Turns out they really don't live here, but they do spend lots of weekends. Especially in summer. He calls it a "hang-out". He has buddies he rides his motorcycle with, and they often come here to relax.

Don't you love all that "stuff"? He said there's lots more at home. He even has a car collection he'll eventually be bringing out, once he gets the back shed emptied. Oh, see that motorcycle in the background to the right? I think there was a motorcycle of some sort parked in every room in the place.

He bought this stove at an auction about forty miles away in Chilhowee, but he said he was told it originally came from the hardware store in my little town.

This is part of his kitchen area. It's the place where the sacks of feed used to be stored when we patronized the elevator. Unbelievable.

I'm sure there's a story behind most every item there, and I'd love to hear every one. Unfortunately, it was 11:30 AM when I left, and I had four miles to ride to get back home. And I knew Cliff would be ready for dinner.

Can you see the patio they built on the back of the elevator?

I told Cliff's sister about this adventure tonight when she called, and she thought I was crazy to enter that place with a man I'd never met.

That's funny. I don't feel any crazier than usual. And Cliff didn't seem to be worried about it.

Click on pictures to see more detail.

my wedding cake

I'm convinced that I was born with some sort of birth defect that left me lacking many of the inclinations females are supposed to have. Shoes, for instance. And purses. What's the big deal? And who cares if they match?

Oh, and engagement rings. When I see women gather around oohing and ahhing over the rock on somebody's finger, I just don't get it. What's it supposed to prove? That you found a sucker who has a good enough credit rating so he can go into hock to pay for that ring?

And I have never liked weddings. Up until I was about thirteen, I could put up with them, if for no other reason than the mixed nuts, cake, and punch afterward. But after I was forced to participate as a candle-lighter in my cousin's nuptials, I never wanted to attend another one, ever again.

I had to wear this shimmering gold-colored ankle-length dress that was not me at all. There were rehearsals on school nights when I'd rather have been doing homework, for pete's sake. And I was just getting over some version of the flu; I had that tickle in my throat where you know that if you cough once, you'll be hacking and gagging for ten minutes straight. Right during the vows, I got that tickle, and it was all I could do to hold back that cough; my face got all red and my eyes watered from the tickling, but I couldn't start coughing in front of the three hundred plus people in the pews.

So. When Cliff and I decided to get married, we simply got married. No cake, no guests, no gifts. No fancy wedding dress. No rings.

Which was dandy for my own part, but my mother felt very much cheated. She had looked forward, for years, to giving her hermit daughter a big send-off. I didn't even tell her I was getting married until after the deed was done.

Mother baked wedding cakes, back then, and loved doing it. She made some really nice ones, too. A big part of her dream for my wedding had been to bake a wedding cake for me, and she was not going to be denied.

We went out to my parent's house for Sunday dinner, perhaps two or three months after tying the knot. I don't recall who else was there, but I do know there were others. I was in the only dress I owned at the time because we all went to Church together that morning. Cliff's sister had fixed my hair in a totally different style than I ever wore, and my curls didn't cooperate well. We walked into my parent's house, and there it was: a wedding cake big enough to do justice to the King of England.

There weren't enough people there to eat so much cake, but never fear: Mother made the bottom two layers out of Styrofoam. By George, her daughter was going to have the biggest and best wedding cake ever, one way or another!

Don't you just love the looks on our faces? And the way we're dressed, alongside that fancy creation of my mom's?

Mothers. You gotta love 'em.

Thursday, April 26, 2007



1. I can usually tell you the price of propane
2. I know how many miles it is to all of the three nearest Wal-marts.
3. When I hear sirens, I wonder where they’re going, because chances are they’re going after someone I know.
4. I have to feed my dog inside, because neighbors' dogs would eat her food if I put it outside.
5. The cats on this place live in the barn.
6. I can rank, on the basis of foulness, different kinds of poop: horse-poop is the least foul, hog do-do is the worst (although dog- and chicken- crap are close runners-up).
7. It doesn’t bother me to squat and potty outside, or inside an outbuilding (although I try to make sure nobody’s around first).
8. I can identify smells that city people can’t: freshly-mowed alfalfa, billy goats, silage, sweet feed, and as mentioned in #6, all sorts of manure.
9. I can look at a cow and tell you whether it’s beef or dairy, and often, what breed it is.
10. I own Carhart coveralls and rubber knee boots (chore-boots), and wear them when needed.
11. When we pass the cemetery and I see a new grave, I wonder if it's anybody I know.
12. When it rains, there are mud-tracks in our entry-hallway.
13. I don’t have to pick up my dog’s doo-doo.

Find more Thirteen participants HERE.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

So, my brother-in-law was taking a picture of my sister-in-law, my husband, and me at our Branson motel; but notice the kid upstairs mugging at the camera.

I know, it's supposed to be wordless. But the person who started WW says there ARE no rules. Ha!

To see more WW entries, click HERE.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The newlyweds

Anytime we're staying in a motel, I'm awake at my usual time... which means 5 AM at the latest. I wake up dying for coffee. And most motels don't have coffee ready until their breakfast room is open. At the Ozark Mountain Inn, breakfast was from 7 AM until 10 AM.

Of course there was that little bitty coffee pot in our room. But those things don't make the best coffee. I tried to take a shower very quietly, then figured I'd check out the breakfast area just in case somebody made coffee early.

Since we were with Charlene and Pat, who like to sleep in, I didn't want to make a lot of noise. So I crept out. Or I would have crept out, but Charlene had things battened down so tight that I ended up banging something-or-other trying to open the door. She had the regular lock, the dead-bolt lock, and that thing that lets you safely peek out a two-inch crack in the door to see who's knocking, all secured. That last one is the the one that banged.

Darn it. Oh well, maybe they'd go back to sleep.

I arrived at the door of the breakfast room at 6:45, fifteen minutes early. I tried the door to no avail, and sat down on the stairs right outside, waiting.

A lady came out and said, "We don't open until seven."

"I know," I said. "I'm just waiting here."


About five minutes later a couple joined me with the same purpose in mind: Coffee. And the same lady showed up to tell them, "We don't open for breakfast until seven."

The couple and I commiserated about our caffeine addictions, and in the course of things, they told me they were newly-weds. They had just gotten married Friday, and they were on their honeymoon. We discussed the ridiculous cost of weddings these days (their wedding was small, but not quite as small as mine).

"Well, I hope it works out as well for you as it has for me," I said. "I've been married almost forty-one years."

"I don't think I'll live that long," the man replied. "By the way, are you from Lebanon, Missouri?"

When I told him I wasn't, he said I had a lookalike in Lebanon, where they lived.

So I have a twin someplace.

Once in the breakfast room, I asked them if I could take their picture to share with my journal-readers, and they agreed. I'm used to the look I get when I ask this question. Anyhow, here's the happy couple:

Riding my horse through the graveyard (video)

Bolivar? In Missouri?

We went on a motorcycle ride to Branson Saturday with Cliff's sister and her husband; you can see them up ahead of us in this picture of us crossing Truman Lake.

Coming home, the brother-in-law felt the need for protein and stopped at a McDonalds. Cliff and I had eaten at the motel, so we strolled around and soaked up some local facts about Bolivar, Missouri. Click on the picture and you'll be able to read what the marker says.
Indeed, it's a statue of a South American hero right here in Missouri. And a town was named after him.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My brother-in-law's sunburn

We rode our motorcycle to Branson this weekend, accompanied by Cliff's sister and her husband on their Harley. Cliff's sister's husband was horribly sunburned during the ride:
Poor Pat: You can see the lines where his sunglasses protected him from the evil rays.

Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer had nothing on Pat.

Wow, looks painful, doesn't it? And this is my FAVORITE brother-in-law! At least maybe he'll be all healed up before we go biking to Colorado in July.

Friday, April 20, 2007

today's ride

With more daylight hours, I'm getting time to ride in the evenings after my two granddaughters go home. Today their dad got off early, so that gave me more time than usual.

This land is owned by Farmer Steve; that house is where he and his family lived until sometime after the mid-70's.

I tried to imagine what it must have been like to live in such a place, with a view of the Missouri River bottoms that goes on for miles. What was it like to awake in the morning to this scene? But of course, it's the river bottom, so no doubt it flooded at times.

I rode near the river, just because I don't usually see it at this time of day; and I can never get enough of the river.

As I rode along the dam, I saw quite a little crowd over at the next levee: Farmer Steve was planting something, and his son was burning dead weeds off the dam. His wife had just driven down to see how he was doing...
.... along with a couple of grandchildren. Now, here's what I really regret: The kids petted Blue on the nose and I forgot to take pictures. The oldest girl asked if she could ride Blue, and I told her yes, as long as I led him. She was all smiles. Then the tiny, youngest girl wanted to ride, so we put her up in the saddle and told her to hold on. Her face was wreathed in smiles.

"Oh, I wish I had a camera," the grandma said.

I pulled out my camera and handed it to her.

Unfortunately, she didn't press hard enough; so the picture didn't get taken. I found this out after I got home from my ride. And that little girl has a million dollar smile, believe it.

Hopefully they can bring the kids up here to my house before long, and we'll try again.

I discussed the old farm house with Mrs. Steve; she told me the flood of '73 ran them out of that house, and said that they are still trying to make up for damage done and money lost in the flood of '93. I'm so glad I don't farm for a living.

She agreed that, yes, it was a lovely place to live... except for the flood factor.

As I rode off, Farmer Steve went back to his planting.

I'm very appreciative of the fact that these people welcome me on their place to ride my horse. Great folks.

(Click on any pictures to make them larger.)

about me

I think people get the impression that they know me well after they've read my journals for awhile; I suppose in many ways, they do.

But there's an aspect of my personality that doesn't often show through in my blogging life that I'm going to share now:

I'm totally a hermit at heart. I could spend the rest of my life without seeing or talking to another person except Cliff, and I'd get by just fine. The main thing I have against where I live is the total lack of privacy. Even back in the woods where my cabin is, you never know when somebody is liable to show up. (Especially during morel season.) Wasn't it Greta Garbo who was famous for saying, "I vant to be alone"?

My sentiments exactly. And it seems to get worse, the older I get.

Cliff has often said I don't need people around, and I'd say that's pretty much right, except that I do need him (he's not always so sure about that point, but it's true... and no, not just for his money-making abilities).

Because of my solitary ways, I suppose the second thing goes without saying: I am very self-centered. I'm not as compassionate as I ought to be; I have to work at empathy; it doesn't come naturally.

All this may go back to my childhood, because I was the only child in our household after my sister got married when I was two years old. We lived in various country places without a lot of neighbors around, and I learned early on to make my own entertainment and play make-believe alone. Daddy once told me that when I was small, I liked to have other kids come to visit, but I was glad to see them leave, too.

That hasn't changed.

So now you know.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

God loves you

I so love this video. My neighbors may not love me; my children may have problems loving me (although I know they have no choice). When I'm at the end of my rope, I watch this video and see the face of my dear friend, Virginia... because it's her daughter singing the song, and there is such a family resemblance.

There are no accidents in life. Thank you, Virginia. And thank you, Chonda.

Because you sang this particular song, I look to the future in a better way.

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen ways my horse costs me money

Yesterday was the yearly visit by the veteranarian, which you can read about HERE. Hence, my Thursday Thirteen:

1. Shoes and/or hoof-trimming. My farrier charges $35 for a trim, $85 for shoeing a horse. It has to be done every six to eight weeks.

2. Wormer 6 times a year
3. Vet once a year (at least)
4. Hay. If you raise your own, there's a cost to that also. Boy, is there.
5. Horse treats, carrots, apples
6. Grain; I don't give my horses much grain, but I keep it around as a treat anyhow.
7. Tack... saddles, bridles, bits, lead ropes etc. etc. You wouldn't believe!
8. Doctor bills for yourself after you’ve been thrown, kicked, or stepped on
9. Books to help you understand your horse, books and videos to show you how to train your horse.
10. Cost of a cell phone, so you can check in with husband when on a long ride alone.
11. Any or all of a dozen different kinds of fly repellents, masks, and what-have-you, none of which work very well or give the horse more than temporary relief.
12. Fence repair because horses insist on leaning on, reaching over, and pushing down fences. The grass is always greener on the other side, you know.
13. A yearly fee to the MFTHBA association in order to keep the horse officially registered. Or a larger, lifetime fee that you know you'll never need.

For more Thursday Thirteen participants, check HERE.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wordless Wednesday... my husband, one year later

Cliff, right out of CABG surgery on April 20, 2006

My husband today, during a motorcycle ride.

Thank You Lord.

For more Wordless Wednesdays, go HERE.

I have answers to your questions

Midlife Mom said... Does your horse stay out in the pasture all night? I don't dare do that here as we have bear, coyotes, and even the occasional bobcat as we live right on the edge of the woods.

Yes, all the horses are out all the time. Although coyotes and bobcats are plentiful around here, I've never heard of them bothering horses or cattle. I do put my baby Jersey heifer up at night, but more because of roaming dogs than wild varmints.

BarnGoddess said... Blue looks so big in his photos. How many hands is he? He also looks like he has a big smooth stride.

I think Blue is 16.2 hands. Yes, he is very smooth to ride.

I thought I was done with horses for life when I sold my last Tennessee Walker. Then I made the mistake of reading "Seabiscuit" and got an overwhelming urge to have another horse. I mentioned this to a co-worker at Kohls, but I told her it needed to be just the right horse: a horse I could depend on, and one my daughter and grandkids could ride if they so desired (unlike my last horse).

"Oh, I'll bet I can find you a horse," Jessica said.

It wasn't long before she was telling me about someone who worked with her husband who had two Missouri Foxtrotting geldings for sale; he was asking $1,400 for either.

By the time I got around to calling about them, he had come down to $1,000 for my choice. One horse was nine years old, one was eleven.

"How big are they?" I asked.

"Oh, they're around fourteen, fourteen-and-a-half hands."

Just right, I thought. With my arthritic knees, I don't need another huge horse like my last one.

So my daughter took me to see the horses; the fellow saddled up the youngest and I realized I needed a ladder to get on him. This horse was much bigger than fourteen hands!

When Cliff took me back to choose a horse and bring him home, I hadn't really picked a favorite. They looked identical, except one was about two inches shorter. I was favoring him just for that reason, but I told Cliff I wasn't sure.

Cliff asked the man, "If you were going to buy one of these for your sixty-year-old wife, which would you choose?"

The guy thought a minute, then nodded toward Blue... the smallest of the two, and the youngest. "I guess I'd take him."

We loaded him up, the man gave me a bridle, and we brought him home.

That's how I ended up with my horse. Pure, blind luck, I'd say. Or the providence of God.

The day after I got him home, the local horse-trader came to see him and offered me $1,500. Gee, I'd just bought him!

"How tall do you think he is?" I asked, knowing R.D. would know just by looking.

"Oh, I'd say he's at least sixteen-and-a-half hands," he answered.

And this was the smallest of the two!

A week or two later I bought an old, used Circle Y saddle in a little tack shop for $300. It has an 18-inch seat, I believe, which means it's made for a fat person. But it's always felt just right to me. Sometimes I think I'd like one of those cushioned Tucker saddles that cost about $2,000; then I ask myself if I'd enjoy riding any more with a fancy saddle than I do with my beat-up Circle Y.

Nope. I'm getting by just fine.


This morning I woke up before 5 o'clock, as usual. I was on my second cup of coffee when I remembered the granddaughters wouldn't be here before school, and I suddenly realized I could take a morning ride!

When I went to get Blue from the pasture, I knew perhaps I should have started earlier... day was already breaking.

But I don't get this chance often, so I figured I might as well go for it. I could hear Blue thinking, "Hey, lady, you just got OFF my back less than twelve hours ago."

And the sunrise did hold possibilities, even yet.

We had to wait for a long, long train to go past, in order to head toward the river. Blue loves trains, for some strange reason.
We hadn't gotten as far as the river yet when I noticed the sun was coming out of hiding, and was officially "up", peeking out from behind the river bluff on which I live.

Heading toward home, I noticed what a long shadow my horse and I make, this early in the day.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I'm NOT an evening person....

But the grandson came out after work this evening, wanting to know if I could ride with him again.

"Yes," I told him rather reluctantly, "if the granddaughters are gone by six."

They were, so Arick and I once again hit the roads on horseback. This time we rode to the Missouri River bottoms. Chief, the horse he's breaking, is still a little leery of cars passing on the highway. But he seems to enjoy his job of being a saddle horse. He insisted on keeping up with Blue, which is no easy task. It's hard for a trotting horse to stay even with a gaited horse. Chief's ears were up all the time, and he was obviously having fun.

And to think that I pronounced him a lost cause, only a month ago.

I'm learning to like this boy. Now that it's almost time for him to go home to his owners.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Riding with my grandson

That's my grandson riding Chief, a horse he's breaking for some people; he had just been thrown by the horse before I took this picture in March.

After more than a month, I have to admit the horse is behaving pretty darned well. We rode through fields and along the highway with cars and motorcycles buzzing by, and he only spooked a couple of times.

When we got back home after a couple hours of riding, I asked Cliff to take pictures of us.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Blogging stuff

I enjoy my site meter.

Thanks to the site meter over at the right, I can tell what website refers people to my blog, and sometimes, a reader's location: That isn't too accurate, since it gives my location as Brinktown, Missouri; or sometimes as Bucyrus, Kansas. And I think it tells me my journal buddy Astaryth is in Illinois; she's actually in Florida! So don't count on that part.

I can always see how much time a reader has spent here, and how many pages she reads. I know whether they've clicked on a link, and have been surprised to see how few people click on any of the links I plant here, unless it's something I'm really, really promoting hard.

This blog isn't very old, but I notice more and more that readers are coming here by way of Google. Often they typed in "hamburger stew". More times than you can imagine, actually! Or "horses", or "round pen", or "how much grain to give my horses". I'm not usually high up on the google page, but people seem to stumble in, anyhow.

Many readers come to check me out after I've commented in other blogs; they've read my Blogger profile, which lists this blog, and they come to see what I'm like, what sort of person has been reading what they have to say.

Then there are my faithful AOL journal readers, who usually come directly here from My Country Life.

I really enjoy that about site meter. It's free, and I recommend it to anyone who blogs. By the way, if you click on my site meter, you can see the same information I do. In case you get curious. Of course, I'll be able to tell that you clicked on it. Unless you click on something else afterward, because it only gives one out-click per person per visit. Obviously, I have too much time on my hands or I wouldn't have figured all this stuff out.

Now, about the Google adsense ads on the right: I've had them on my blog for a few days and I've earned $1.09. And that was made in the first twenty-four hours after I added it. I'll leave the ads there for a few days; if that's all they're going to net me, they'll go bye-bye in a couple of weeks. That just isn't enough for me to put up with clutter on my blog.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hard-to-catch horses

My grandson, Arick, has been "breaking" a horse he's keeping here at my place. I put the quotation marks around it because I feel that, to properly break a horse, you need to spend considerable time with him. Arick has averaged about two hours a week. It's partly because of the weather we've had, partly because of his work schedule and, on weekends, because of his love life.

Now to give the devil his due, when Arick brought the horse out here, he couldn't even get a saddle on him, and he got tossed off him early on. Now he's riding him with no problem. So he's doing what he is being paid to do.

Only, he can't catch the horse.

After watching him chase and coax for about fifteen minutes last night, I went out and got the horse for him.

I'm no horse whisperer. But I learned from Mark Rashid and my horse, Blue, how to catch a horse.

When I first bought Blue, he hadn't been ridden for three years. After I got him here, reality hit him: Good grief, this woman plans to work me to death!

So he ran from me every time I approached with a halter.

Mark Rashid's books had some tips: Never approach the horse directly or quickly... keep a shoulder toward him. Don't look him in the eye. When you get about six to eight feet away from him, stop (still looking away) and sigh loudly and deeply. What really works best, if you have all the time in the world, is to turn your back on the horse, have a seat, and read a good book. Eventually he'll make the first move and approach you. (It worked with Blue, although one of the neighbor boys asked Cliff why I was reading to a horse.)

I must be doing something right, since I'm the one people come looking for when they can't catch their horses.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

In order to make up for my very negative 13 last week, I'll offer the flip side of the coin:

Thirteen things I like about where I live:

1. The changing seasons

2. Pasture for my horses

3. The Missouri River

4. Lots of back roads and fields where I can ride my horse in peace and quiet.

5. The alfalfa field, which provides hay for my horses and calf

6. My cabin in the woods

7. Hearing trains go by

8. The history of this area (Santa Fe Trail, Lewis and Clark, Civil War, Harry Truman, etc.)

9. Branson is only a three-hour motorcycle ride away

10. You can get to Colorado from here in one day

11. Wildlife: Although coyotes and foxes will kill any poultry they can get hold of, there’s something magnificent and free about them. I like seeing deer, even though they cause wrecks. Oh, and a flock of turkeys in the pasture. I especially like to see vultures floating above my cabin. (But I don't want to see them too close-up.)

12. “The point”. It’s the highest part of our 40-plus acres, and you can see far across the Missouri River from there.

13. Memories. We moved here when my children were six and eight years old. Although memories reside in the mind more than in a physical place, I do have a certain grudging affection for this old house because it’s where I raised my kids. Recollections of graduations, grandbabies, pets, and holidays are in every dusty corner.

View more Thursday Thirteen participants HERE.