Friday, November 30, 2007

the family reunion

I was raised in a family that had frequent get-togethers and family reunions; in my younger days, it seemed like they were far too frequent.

Cliff's family, especially on his father's side, wasn't much for reunions. He says it's partly because of hard feelings and old grudges between so many of them. Whatever the reason, the Wood family just doesn't gather in large groups, except at funerals.

I don't have a lot of the social graces needed to host such a gathering, but for some reason in the spring of 2005 (I think it was our daughter's idea), I summoned up the nerve to consider holding a "Wood reunion" here at our place.

Cliff began to call cousins to see if they'd be interested in such an undertaking, and when he got hold of his cousin Ken, he was met with such enthusiasm that it gave me courage to go ahead with the plan. Ken volunteered to supply a whole roast hog for the event, to be held in July.

There were a lot of no-shows, some from people who didn't even live that far away; but we still ended up with a nice crowd.

(Click on the picture to see it larger)
I clipped Ken and his wife and little grandson out of the picture so you could get a good look at him.

That's him and Cliff visiting, before most of the folks showed up.

Kenneth smiled almost the whole time he was here, and more than anything else, that smile made me feel I hadn't wasted my time having the shindig.

There he is with that grandson again.

We rode our motorcycle down to Sedalia a couple of weeks ago to visit Ken; cancer had returned, and we knew he didn't have long to live. The same grandson who was constantly attached to him in 2005 was still at his side.

So, if you're thinking about having a reunion in a family where it has never been done, or if you think not enough people would attend to make it worthwhile, here's what I learned: If it makes just one person as happy as our reunion made Kenneth, it's worth the time and trouble.

I'm so glad we did it while he was around.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


As a result of a torn meniscus in my right knee, walking causes me incredible pain right now. Sitting or lying down (as long as I don't try to turn over) I'm fine; walking or squatting, or just the act of getting from a standing to a sitting position or visa versa, hurts like crazy; badly enough that I groan or even yell sometimes. Because of this, I'm not presently doing much in the way of physical activity: no daily walk, no horseback riding. Even getting on the motorcycle is not worth the cost in pain. Lord knows I'm afraid to get on the bathroom scale, since I don't do much more than watch TV and surf the Internet. And I'm incredibly grouchy; can't you tell?

Arthroscopic surgery is scheduled for one week from today, and I have never in my life been so anxious to have a medical procedure done. I had this problem with my left knee, three years ago; the surgery ended the sharp pain at that time. My knees are still bone-on-bone arthritic, but that's a dull pain that I can live with for now.

At my last appointment I asked the orthopedist if I could have something for pain while waiting for surgery, and she wrote out a prescription for Darvocet. While it does take some of the edge off the pain, it surely doesn't dull it much, and it often upsets my stomach. I called the office to see if they had anything else in their bag of tricks. A prescription was called in for Hydrocodone. OK, this helps the pain quite a bit more, makes me a little fuzzy-headed, and.... gives me acid indigestion. And I only allow myself to take two, once a day, because of their reputation for becoming habit-forming.

According to everything I've read on the Internet, both these drugs are popular on the street as "party drugs". I tell you, dear readers, I feel like anything but partying after taking either of them! If two capsules make me feel the way these do, I can't imagine what you'd feel like after taking a handful.

Today I'll be limping into the dentist's office to keep an appointment. How can life get any better? I won't be taking any drugs before I go, because I don't need acid indigestion while I'm reclining in the dentist chair.

Meanwhile, I count the moments until next Thursday. And I pray that the procedure that helped my left knee will be effective on my right one.

Sorry about such a downer of a blog entry; it just happens to be my day to gripe!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cats on Tuesday

I don't normally participate in this meme; I'm really not a "cat person", and my cats live in the barn (quite happily, I might add).

However, I decided to take this opportunity to introduce you to a southern belle of a cat who lives in Georgia and kindly allows my son and his family to live with her. Her name is Possum, and she's seventeen years old (you'd never know it). I'm an early riser, and this cat greeted me in the kitchen every morning of my visit there, supervising my coffee-making.

Friday I decided to take a nap on my granddaughter's bed; Possum was already there ahead of me, but there was plenty of room for us both, so I laid down and dozed off with no problem. When I woke up, Possum was snuggled against me with her head on my arm, purring hard enough to shake the bed.

So I guess we're friends now. Please don't tell her I'm not a cat person.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I met the most extraordinary person this week!

I'm happy to introduce to you a true "free spirit". Her name is Morgan. She's two years old. Take notes, because you might some day see her name in lights. By the way, if I were ever to be persuaded to take in some stranger's child, it would be one exactly like this. Only for this kind of child would I give up my freedom.

Two new loves of my life

While we were in Georgia, our techie-smart son helped us out with some stuff we couldn't figure out on our own.

This is our our new Garmin nuvi 200W GPS. Circuit City honored their thirty-day deal to match any competitor's price, so we ended up paying $219 for it. What a deal! Cliff couldn't hear the Magellan GPS we borrowed from his brother to use on the way down, but this Garmin is good and loud. Almost TOO loud; I had to turn it down when I got a call on my cell phone! With the help of this baby, we had no trouble driving right to Cliff's sister's house in St. Louis, where we spent the night last night.

Cliff has had his XM radio for quite a while in his shop, but we didn't have a clue how to set it up in the car. Believe me, we enjoyed this thing on the long road home from Georgia. Thanks, Son! I only wish you could have heard me and Cliff helping ole Hank Williams and Patsy Cline and the others with their singing.

I met a blogger friend in Georgia!

Celeste, Pat, me and Cliff.

I've followed Celeste's AOL journal for four years or so. We have several common interests: among them, motorcycle-riding and horses; and I always figured I'd meet her eventually, since she's practically on the way to my son's home in Columbus, Georgia.

Bless her heart, I'm sure I got her and Pat out of bed Saturday morning when I called (Pat works nights), but they met up with us anyhow; we left my son's house at 4:30 A.M. Saturday, so it was still fairly early when we arrived at the Waffle House in Ringgold, Georgia.

Cliff enjoyed talking motorcycles with Pat, and we surely were glad to meet these folks face-to-face. To see her entry about our meeting, click HERE.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Morning person? You bet!

Anyone who has ever shared quarters with me for as much as twenty-four hours knows that I awake ridiculously early in the morning; some would even call it the middle of the night. Whether it's from my years of milking cows or just some inner programming, I don't know. It isn't what I'd choose, I assure you; but I'm stuck with it.

All it really takes for me to be content if I'm visiting someone is access to a computer at 4 A.M., rights to the coffeepot, and a space where I can turn on a light without disturbing anybody else. With all that, life is good. Here at my son's house, I have those things. These days I even supply my own computer.

Cliff and Jim have fine-tuned a couple of things on our motorcycle during our stay. Jim fixed us up with XM radio in the car and GPS in the car or on the motorcycle.

On the way down, we used a Magellen GPS we borrowed from Sadie's Unkie Phil (haaaaaaaaaa!!). We liked it so much, I found a Garmin at Circuit City for what I considered a good price;I ordered it online, and we picked it up an hour later.

Yesterday morning I decided to do some research on our particular Garmin and found it for almost $100 cheaper! Well folks, Circuit City has a thirty-day guarantee concerning prices: if you make a purchase from them and then find the same item cheaper within thirty days, they'll make up the difference.

Here's hoping they honor that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

direct from Georgia

We spent last night in a motel not far past Nashville; we were both awake by 5 A.M. and on the road before 6, heading toward Columbus, Georgia, to visit our son. We saw some beautiful sights along the way. Back home in Missouri, our trees are mostly bare; here, fall colors seem to be at their peak. These pictures were taken through a somewhat dirty windshield, but perhaps you can get the idea.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What to do with Sadie

When Cliff and I go on day trips on the motorcycle, we never worry about our dog, Sadie. She must have a bladder the size of a basketball, because I've known her to go as long as sixteen hours without needing to potty. Any inside dogs I've had previously were desperate to be let out as soon as they awoke in the morning. Not Sadie; I've given up trying to force her outside as soon as I wake up, because she simply won't get her mind on her business until she decides she's ready, often three hours later.

If we're on a weekend overnight trip, my daughter often fills in, driving over here and turning Sadie out for a bit; that's how we handled the situation the whole time Cliff was in the hospital for open heart surgery. Recently, the grandson who's staying at our house tends to Sadie just fine when we're gone.

Now, though, the grandson is working two almost-full-time jobs, and this is the daughter's busy season. And we're going to be gone a few days.

So today I'll try to find a satisfactory place to board Sadie. We've boarded her before, but I always feel guilty. She's so hyperactive, and of course she has woven herself into the fabric of our lives in such a way that it's hard to imagine her alone in a cage with a small run. Without us. Then there's the fact that those kennels are never open on weekends, so if you get home on Saturday, you can't get your dog until Monday.

Cliff and I are not the type to travel with a dog. We'd neither one be happy in such a situation, least of all with our particular dog. She's just too, too active to be confined in a pet taxi for hundreds of miles. The only place we take her is to the vet on occasion, or to her "Unkie Phil's"; that's Cliff's brother, who has acres and acres of room for a dog to run free. The "Unkie" part is something I made up to taunt Phil, who, quite honestly, doesn't like dogs much. But Sadie sure knows what I'm saying when I ask her if she wants to go there. We leave her outside when we visit, so I don't think Phil minds too much.

Anyhow, wish me luck in my quest for boarding facilities. Sadie will be fine. And it doesn't hurt me to go on a little guilt trip once in awhile.

Edited: I made reservations for Sadie, so she's taken care of for $15 per day. If the grandson can pick her up Saturday before noon, it'll only cost us $60. Not bad! And she's worth it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Introducing Snap Shots from

I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon products, display inline videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Merchero

I have a very talented cousin who restores classic cars as a hobby. What you see here is a creation of his unlike anything you'll see again, I believe.

He took a '56 Mercury (I think... hubby is dozing in his recliner so I can't ask) and a Ford Ranchero and invented the Merchero.

Those are Harley Davidson lights on either side at the top of the bed.

How about this nameplate? Isn't my cousin talented?

Fixing the interior of the Merchero is going to be Gerald's winter project. Right now, he sits on that block of wood if he wants to drive the car outside the shop.

Meet Mr. Kitty

Handsome, he is NOT. He isn't used to having his picture taken; I think he rather liked the attention this morning.

Almost two years ago, our neighbor's house burned and they temporarily moved into town. That left their outdoor cat, Mr. Kitty, to fend for himself. He could do that very well, but he would sometimes supplement his diet of mice and baby rabbits with dry cat food from our barn.
He's a homely creature for sure: the neighbor tells me that somebody across the road threw hot grease at Mr. Kitty's backside when he was a kitten, and that's why he has such a skinny, pathetic excuse for a tail. And then there's the way his big old tomcat head sits on a body that tapers to downright skinny toward the end. By the time the neighbors moved back out here, Mr. Kitty had taken to hanging around our place most of the time. I still call him the neighborhood cat, but I guess he's ours. He can often be seen crouching far out back in the pasture, waiting for a passing mouse. I'd be willing to bet that he catches more mice by himself than all the other cats combined.

Oh, we inherited Marvin's old "neighborhood rooster", too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I think my Jersey calf is a blond

We bought a Jersey heifer calf last February because I've missed Jerseys ever since I sold my last one, years ago. Secret was born during the worst cold snap of the winter, and it wasn't until we'd had her for a couple of days that we realized she was going to lose the ends of her ears. Later on, we noticed that the freeze had also taken her "fly swatter", the switch part of her tail.

A few months ago I decided Secret needed some bovine companionship, so we bought a Dexter bull (Dexters are a miniature breed) and made him a steer. They bonded quite nicely. We plan to get Secret bred to a Jersey bull sometime next spring, and after she has a calf for companionship, we'll butcher the Dexter, whom we named Meatloaf.

I've noticed lately that in all situations that require intelligence or problem-solving of any kind, my prize heifer flunks the test, while Meatloaf aces it.

I've made a video that gives an example of this. Please forgive me for the terrible quality of the little movie; I was trying to take it while carrying a can of feed in one hand, often backing up, and limping pretty much constantly from a bum knee which I'm scheduled to have operated on in December. (Arthroscopy, not replacement.) So you'll be seeing the ground a lot. Not to mention the horrible wind noise most of the time; you might want to turn your sound off. Apologies done, here's the video:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

About my previous entry

Mother kept each one of those items I blogged about yesterday for reasons of her own.

She kept the candy bar, I believe, to remind her of the beau who once bought her a Milky Way. I imagine that, in the middle of the depression, five cents for a candy bar was about all any hired farm hand could spare for his sweetie. I'm not sure if my dad was the one who bought it for her; I think she was also sweet on a couple of other fellows before she hooked up with him.

This is the entry Daddy left in Mother's autograph book when they were courting. I'd know his left-handed scrawl anywhere.

Mother kept several of those perfect attendance awards like the one in the picture. After completing the eighth grade, she returned to her one-room schoolhouse and took seventh and eighth grades over again, simply because she loved school and learning. She told me that her dad didn't think high school was a good thing for young ladies... he felt it made them too "worldly". So she didn't have that option. Oh, and the "Cora Smith" who signed the certificate was her teacher. Many years later that same lady was my fourth-grade teacher.

About the sale bill: My Uncle Leo eventually bought that farm and raised his family there. I don't know whether he bought it directly from my parents, though. We only could have lived there for a couple of months during the summer of my birth. I know this because I was born in Iowa in July, and the sale date is October. My parents never tried owning their own home again until 1957, in Kansas City.

This is my Uncle Leo's page from Mother's autograph book.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Some of my mother's keepsakes

A sale bill from 1944 when my parents sold the farm.

A candy bar wrapper from 1932

Perfect attendance in 1920.

(Well, it's almost wordless, right?)

Click on the pictures to see them better.

For more Wordless Wednesdays, click HERE.

Now playing: Chuck Brodsky - Restless Kid
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

About "snapshots"

Snapshots is, you know, that feature that gives a preview of links leading away from my journal, giving a popup "preview" when you hover the cursor over a link.

I just learned (thanks Celeste) that you can turn that feature off if you find it irritating (like my husband, who mutters to himself, "What the Hell?"every time a preview pops up.

Celeste gave instructions for turning Snapshots off better than I could, right HERE.

More pictures from Bothwell Lodge

I took this picture when we were at Bothwell last summer; the rest were taken this past weekend. There are thirty-one rooms in the lodge.

This picture looks down on 65 highway, near Sedalia.

A tube-type radio that actually still works. Of course, the sound quality leaves something to be desired.

A recliner chair. Lazyboy, it ain't.

Mr Bothwell kept bees, who made their hives in that space under the window on the sun porch. He'd remove the board that's off to retrieve the honey. In the foreground is a rollaway bed that he used to sleep on during hot summer weather.

Here you see a regular piano with an item scooted up to it that turned it into a player piano; move the thing back from the keyboard, and a real person could sit down and play.
This was Mr. Bothwell's bedroom.

The Bothwell Lodge is a Missouri State Historic Site: Click HERE.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A surprise at the Bothwell Lodge

Cliff and I rode the motorcycle to the Bothwell Lodge today; it's a huge place three stories tall... four if you count the basement.

Speaking of the basement: The lodge had its own power plant until the forties when rural electricity was finally installed. The lights were direct-current.

That's the huge coal furnace; it really didn't look this color, but it was so dark I had to use flash.

As we passed through a small passageway toward the stairs out of the basement, I noticed what I thought was a rubber snake....

but it was real! A black snake about six feet long.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What's on that antenna?

Cliff and I rode the Gold Wing to Hub Cycle today; one of the brothers who owns the place has an 1800 Gold Wing, and I noticed some sort of "growths" on his antennae.

See, down toward the bottom of each antenna?

Wait, is it.....

It's a woman, climbing up the antenna!

Cliff really liked these. And no, we will NOT be getting a set of these for our bike.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Today's motorcycle ride

I put some chili in a lame Stanley vacuum bottle, wrapped it in a towel so it would stay warm longer than an hour, and headed to Lone Jack, Missouri, where there's a Civil War monument and battlefield.

"Our Little Johnny". There's something so sad about that.

You gotta love getting a poem on your tombstone!

It was a little chilly, but a great ride, nonetheless.

Click on any pictures to make them larger.

Now playing: Jerry Lee Lewis - Sweet Little Sixteen
via FoxyTunes