Saturday, January 31, 2009

Charitable contributions: advice, please

I love going to Church, and Cliff is happy enough to attend with me. He does, however, have a problem with some of the begging-for-funds that goes on there.

Now we both agree that the inspirational message and the lovely singing done by the choir is worth something. Cliff is willing to give them $25 a week; I'd rather give more.

Cliff isn't a stingy person, and I think we could come to a compromise if we could find a trustworthy charity to which we could donate. It could be Christian-associated or not. I don't care, and I doubt that Cliff does.

I just want to know the funds are going to go to people who need it, and not to some rich guy who's running the organization. I like the American Cancer Society and St. Jude's Hospital and Mercy Hospital, in Kansas City: How do I know if they'll use my money wisely?

Is there a watchdog agency where I can go for advice? Do any of you know?

I'll take suggestions. Just give me some way to find out if it's for real.

Unexpected windfalls

I have a new great-granddaughter. I know the customary thing to do is to announce it as soon as you know there's a pregnancy.

But these days, things aren't always preplanned. Sometimes there are no wedding bells preceding the birth announcement. You wait around, scared to commit, because you aren't sure you'll ever have any access to the baby.

Well, I met my great-granddaughter yesterday, and she's lovely. So far, so good. I hear she'll be visiting tomorrow. We'll see if we can't get a four-generations picture, just because that's what my mom's family always did. I have to keep those old family traditions going.

That's Kami with my son-in-law, taken last night.

Isn't she beautiful?

Today's motorcycle ride

First off, let me tell you it wasn't a fun ride. Oh, it was fine when we were heading north, toward home. But the intense wind took the fun out of most of the trip; still, it was nice to get out on a day when the temperature made it up to 70 degrees.

There's a farm store in Warrensburg that Cliff likes to browse through, so that was our destination. On the way down, I mentioned that I've always wanted to see the statue on the square of "Old Drum", so we went there first.

I love old courthouses.

We found Old Drum.

It was so warm and pleasant, a lady was sitting there reading a book.

Finally, I got to see the statue. Unfortunately I didn't get to see his grave, because I wasn't able to find out exactly where it is.

Be sure to read the story of Old Drum. I think he looks a lot like my pesky neighbor dog, Buddy.

I enjoyed the pictures painted on buildings near the square, too.

And all the old buildings. This used to be the Masonic Temple.

discussions sparked by blogs

Some bloggers are able to start discussions with their ideas, and the comment section of each of their entries takes on a life of its own. These discussions get so interesting that I'll return often throughout the day, just to see what sort of things people are saying to one another there.

That Guy in Oregon is one of these. He also has a gift for sparking ideas in my mind that become entries here on my own site. And he's the person who prompted me to stop buying bottled water, to shop at my local grocery store more frequently, and to use re-usable shopping bags. Pretty influential person, eh?

The Kansas City Russian Jew is another one who is able to inspire exchanges of opinion in comments, although I wish more people would jump in sometimes. What I like about his comment section is that it's easy to subscribe to any responses left to a particular post, so I don't have to keep going back to check on what's being said; each comment arrives in my email.

Now, back to that guy in Oregon: There are two things he's given me to blog about lately.

Recently he mentioned antique shops, and wrote, "The worst thing that all these stores have in common is paintings and 'art work' (for lack of a better term) which are bad depictions of American Indians and Jesus."

This forced me to look at my eight "Mystic Warrior" plates in a new light. In their defense, the Indians really do look like Native Americans. Don't they?

However, I do believe they could be classified by some (or most) folks as "cheesy".

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

I also have a set of four "Jesus plates" that were sold by Avon. *sigh*

Guy said this: "I am curious as to what the circumstances were for these objects created and purchased in the first place."

Well Guy... they just spoke to me. What can I say? I've got this thing about Indians. I always wanted to be one.

On a different day, in another entry, Guy talked about how coins are losing their value, and it reminded me of my stash in the bedroom. I've had that blue decanter since 1960, by the way. My mom had some sort of home interior party and that thing just... well, it spoke to me. Mostly it holds pennies, but I slip in an occasional dime. No other coins will fit through the opening.

That pint jar beside it is my quarter jar. Now, quarters add up to nicely. When I finally get that jar full, I should have between $70 and $80.

Do you have a coin stash?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Secret came home today

I'll be honest and tell you that I have very little hope that she's bred. She's been with three bulls now, and my past experience tells me that bulls aren't shy. Typical male, you might say.

I've raised Secret from the time she was ten days old. I know she isn't a freemartin, because she does come in heat. But for some reason she hasn't become pregnant.

No real farmer would have given her as many chances as we have, but we're not real farmers. I really love this heifer. Still, she's neither my child nor my dog, and she can't stay if she can't have a baby. It's called "cutting your losses".

I've been through this sort of thing before. So if Secret comes in heat again, she goes to the sale barn where somebody can take his chances on her. I'll eventually buy a Jersey cow that's either bred, or has a calf by her side.

Horsing around

Janice and Susan over at 5 Minutes For Mom are hosting a photo contest with the theme of "Horsing Around". The winner will win a $100.00 gift certificate to A Rocking Horse To Love. They have some of the most adorable kids furniture and play sets! I just happen to have a brand new great-granddaughter who will soon be needing a rocking horse.

I remembered this shot of my horse Blue with granddaughter Natalie from a few years back. It's one of my all-time favorites and I figured, "Why not?"

So if you have a moment, go over and share your love for this entry. The first part of the contest will be narrowed down to 20 finalists. You can help get us on that final list by leaving a comment on their post about how you just adore and love our entry. I'M ENTRY NUMBER 51. Finalists will be posted February 10th.

I found out about this giveaway from Izzy 'N Emmy.

The world's friendliest bank tellers

Our little town no longer has a gas station (except for a mini-mart that's open limited hours). We have no grocery store, no drug store, and no hardware store. When Cliff and I moved out here in the '70's, we had all those things, but once Walmart got within twenty-five miles, one by one all local businesses closed up.

We do still have a bank. It's a tiny branch of a larger bank, and the business hours have dwindled over the years. But thank goodness we can still drive about two miles and get our banking done.

All the employees there over the years have been very sweet people (our favorite banker, Larry Wims, for one), but these two ladies really take the prize.

The lady on the left hasn't been there that long, but Cliff and I have conversations about her all the time. That is one happy lady! I want to find out what church she goes to; I could use a dose of that! Or maybe she isn't even a church-goer. Cliff seems to think she's happy because she has an excellent husband. I told him maybe she doesn't have a husband at all... maybe THAT'S why she's so happy.

So, ladies: Consider this your "thank you" for just being you. Cliff calls you "the sunshine ladies".

(I told them I was going to blog about them, and that they could find my blog by going to Google and typing in "donna just me"; there's one reader who arrives here that way every single day. I guess she doesn't know how to use favorites.)

I wonder if it's MY town?

Tony's Kansas City directed my attention to this little gem of information: Nelson-Atkins museum featured on "Wife Swap".

The museum part isn't what I found to be really interesting, though. It's this: "The show will include a family of three boys with a passion for sports and paintball from a small town near Kansas City. The swapped wife who takes over this brood is from San Francisco and is Oxford-educated."

I wonder if it's my small town? Or my former small town? It could be! Although, the way word gets around my community, I think my friend Tracy would have known about such a thing and told me. Nothing gets past Tracy.

Maybe I'll at least recognize the small town.

When Cliff worked on Friday nights, I usually watched Wife Swap, even though it's staged and silly. Now that he's off Fridays, it's pretty hard to get him to allow that particular show to be seen in our house. I'm going to try and get him to make an exception tonight.

Speaking of Cliff, he goes back to the 4:30 to 3 A.M. schedule next week, and we're going to try something different with meals. Since he'll be sleeping until 11 A.M. or so, he's going to drink coffee for a while and then we'll eat dinner (that's lunch to most of you, but it's our main meal of the day). Shortly before he leaves for work at 3:30 P.M., he'll eat breakfast. OK, maybe we won't call it breakfast. But it's going to be his usual breakfast fare, which alternates between oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, chocolate Malt-O-Meal and shredded wheat. He'll take the same type lunch to work as always, which normally consists of something left over from previous meals that he can warm up in the microwave.

Pioneer Woman gave me some food for thought yesterday:
If something happens and I don’t blog about it…did it really happen at all?”


Thursday, January 29, 2009

About that Jersey cow

Yeah, this one. She's sold. But the man conveniently has lots of other heifers in various stages of pregnancy.

No thanks. Let me bring Secret home first and see if she's settled. We'll likely go get her in the next three days.

If she isn't pregnant, then we'll talk.

By the way, Meatloaf is history. Just so you know.

My very favorite Elvis song

For my granddaughters

I really, really want this animal


With any luck, she'll be gone soon so I can quit worrying about it.

If the link doesn't work, that's good; it's a sign she's sold.

*editing this to add: I mentioned on Facebook that I'd like the money to buy a cow, and at least two people sent me cows for MyFarm.


My little herb garden

This morning I was reading Deb's "Keep it Cheap" blog and found instructions for a one-pot herb garden.

I've been toying with the idea of having some herbs growing in the house for a long time, but considering my history of killing any and all house plants I touched, I pushed it to the back of my mind.

However, reading that tutorial really gave me the gardening fever; and I already had the herb seeds here, waiting for spring. Unlike at my old house, there are some south-facing windows here!

I made little signs so I'd know what's what, because I'm not all that familiar with what most herbs look like.

I really hesitated to blog about this because I don't have much faith in these plants thriving, but I'm throwing caution to the wind. You folks can share the adventure with me, whether there's a happy ending or not.

Patience will be required, because it can take up to ten days for the seeds to even germinate.

Here's hoping!

Something worth reading

A cancer survivor blogs about what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer.

"The minute you are diagnosed with cancer, everything changes. One day, you’re just like everybody else…. and the next minute, you’re a cancer patient."

Check out Toddler Planet.

Thursday Thirteen: Edition "D" (illustrated)

I'm really having fun with this. If you'd like to go through the rest of the alphabet with us, be sure and leave a link to your entry at Izzy 'N Emmy.

1. Dogs. Life would be so dull without them.

2. Dove. I have a Gibson Dove guitar

3. Dandelions: I think they're pretty!

4. drivel: That's what my readers are subjected to on my blog.

5. dollar: It ain't what it used to be.

6. diapers: I still prefer cloth ones.

7. depression: is it, or not?

8. dictionary: something I haven't used since I discovered the computer.

9. daffodils: one of the earliest signs of spring

10. dairy: For years I wanted to have a dairy. Was I crazy?

11. diary: I have diaries for parts of seventeen years.

12. dilemma: America has several to solve.

13. Dean Martin: I really like his singing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

That's all?

Cliff has known all week that there was going to be a meeting at work today concerning the economy and the state of the company.

He just called me on his break and told me that basically, the news is this: There'll be no raise this year.

He and I are both fine with that. If that will help keep the company's head above water, it's a good thing.

Thank God for Cliff's job!

We are still walking in favor and living the dream.

Living in "the switchboard house"

Brad had some questions about today's post in which I mentioned living in a switchboard house.

"Was 'the Switchboard House' part of the phone company? That kind of switchboard? I've always wondered how the long distance operators knew how much money you put into the payphone back then."

Brad, back then in rural areas and small towns, the switchboard was in the living room of a house. Whoever was employed by the phone company to be "central" (the phone operator) got to live in the house as part of their compensation. My parents were responsible twenty-four hours a day for tending to any calls that might be made through our switchboard.

Now, people were polite and didn't normally use the phone at hours when we might be sleeping, unless it was an emergency... or unless they'd imbibed a bit too much. So I don't think my parents' sleep was disturbed too often. My mom paid a neighbor girl to come and stay with the switchboard when we went to Church three times a week. If we went somewhere overnight or on vacation, we paid somebody, usually a teenage girl, to stay at our house and be the operator.

As far as the payphone goes, our little town had one public phone that I remember. It was in our living room, just inside the door, and I imagine if you used it you simply handed over the change to my parents.

I recently did an entry about switchboards: you'll find it HERE.

Sadie, my lapdog

Sadie is too big to be a lap-dog, but since she's the only dog I have, she and I make do. She isn't allowed on the furniture, but we (yes, even Cliff, once in a while) do invite her onto our laps sometimes. She knows there's a chance when she sees us put up the foot-rest of our recliners and throw an afghan over our legs. She likes being able to look out the windows.

Who could resist that face?

Curtain stretchers (and other memories)

My parents moved a lot as I was growing up, but we lived in the switchboard house at Guss, Iowa, for at least seven years. Many of my fondest childhood memories are linked to that home, and most of the snapshots taken of me as a baby were taken in front of it. I included Skinner School in the slide show because that's my first school, the one I attended when we lived in Guss. I remember the "Uncle Sam" mailbox that's pictured here.

I remember what much of the inside of that house looked like. I recall sitting on the front porch on a summer evening with Daddy, the radio inside broadcasting "the fights" (boxing matches) blaring through an open window, and my dad getting so involved in the action that he was squirming in his seat and throwing punches. He was a big fan of Joe Lewis.

Some other things I recall from those seven years of my childhood:

Every spring Mother would take down the lacey curtains in the living room, wash them, and put them on the curtain-stretcher so they'd dry wrinkle-free. I remember running around the stretched curtains in the yard and peeking through them. The whole living room smelled clean and fresh when the curtains were brought back inside, after drying in the sun.

I recall Mother using pants-stretchers, too, on Daddy's pants; a Google search tells me that those are still available!

Flour-sifters. When I was growing up, flour was always sifted before measuring it and adding it to your mix. In fact, I still sifted flour after I got married, back when I made all our bread. I still have a sifter, but I only use it when I make an angel food cake, or an "Elvis Presley's favorite pound cake", from scratch; that happens about once every five years.

I recall making baby dolls out of clothespins like these. I'd take an ink pen, draw a tiny face on the top part, and bundle my "baby" in a Kleenex tissue. I believe my mom showed me how to do this. (Oh, and she had taken an outgrown baby dress of mine and sewed it up at the bottom for a clothespin holder to take out to the line! I just remembered that.) She also taught me how to shape the silver inside wrapper from my piece of Juicy Fruit gum into a chalice. She showed me this while sitting in Church, probably trying to occupy me. But I digress.

Egg beaters were in common use in the '40's and '50's. Fact is, I still use one, if the only thing in a recipe that needs beating is eggs. It's much easier and faster than getting out the mixer and dirtying up a mixer bowl.

And that's today's trip down memory lane.

A coming depression?

Cliff says almost daily, "This thing will affect us before it's done." Of course in small ways, it already has.

While his job appears secure at present, we know about that old snowball effect. Who knows where it will stop?

Meesha, at Kansas City with the Russian Accent, addresses this topic, and there's quite an interesting discussion in the comment section of his entry from yesterday. If you'd like to check it out and perhaps add your opinion in comment, it's HERE.

Of course, we all know that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eating from historic dishes

In an entry a couple of weeks ago I shared pictures of the old ice cream dishes that belonged to my mom's grandmother, mentioning that it seemed like a shame to have them stored out of sight all the time.

My friend Lona emailed me with some advice, and I copy and paste this from her note (all my old chat room buddies call me "Mo", and I love it):

Mo, I enjoyed reading about the ice cream dishes, i have so many of my grandmothers dishes .. she was married in 1900 so most over 100 years old.. since my mom was an only child and I was too.. they all came my way. Many sat on top shelves in moms kitchen, Then after her death, a few of them i used on occasion. But a few years ago i thought.. my kids are not that interested in these things, and I might as well use them.. and I have used many of them in the past years. I eat my salad out of a beautiful painted china bowl.. I know its an antique and probably worth some bucks, but also decided I was worth it..LOL. So put some ice cream in those and really enjoy them.. it will taste so good.

Today I decided to do just that.

Cliff thought it was a grand idea!

Not only that, but my daughter's family will be here Sunday for a Superbowl/taco party. And we shall eat dessert from my great-grandmother's dishes.

Check out Antique Mommy today

Antique Mommy is always a great read, but today she outdid herself.

Imagine yourself looking for a job and figuring out a resume that will somehow make your housewife-and-mom skills sound useful to a prospective employer.

Go on over there and read "The Resume".

I promise it will make you smile.

Just call me Speedy!

I've been quite free with my complaints about Embarq at times. That's the advantage of having a blog: When I complain, there's somebody out there to hear me. I seem to feel better after I've ranted and raved about things that frustrate me.

Here's a strange thing: Every time I rant about Embarq online, one of their customer-service people finds that complaint and leaves a comment offering to help. I assume they use search engines to find such items.

My Internet connection had been slow ever since we relocated last summer. I couldn't seem to get any satisfaction out of Embarq for quite a while, but finally I managed to at least get my price lowered so that I wasn't paying for more speed than I was actually getting.

But it was so S L O W on some of my favorite sites, like Pioneer Woman and Patrick's Place, it reminded me of the old dial-up days. I got tired of sitting here waiting for a blank page to load, and again complained, right here. Embarq Joey emailed me, reminding me that he had offered me to help back in November. I thought then that I could put up with slow DSL for a lower bill: wrong! Joey and I exchanged emails, and he gave me a phone number where I could reach him if nobody showed up to fix the problem.

An Embarq service person came out last week and did something to the telephone lines between here and town; I then upgraded to the highest speed available to me (nothing to brag about, but twice what I had been receiving before). Much better!

Embarq Joey, thanks for your help; I can really tell a difference now. If I can find time to complain about my telephone company, then surely I can give them a good word when things come together and work out for me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Girl Scout cookies

So I see the already overpriced Girl Scout cookies are giving less bang for the buck.

I believe the Girl Scouts of America is a great organization. I never joined because (a) I'm not a joiner, and (b) my parents couldn't afford it anyhow.

I would, however, be glad to donate something to the organization.

Here's what bothers me: Those overpriced cookies only give the troops about fifty cents per box sold.

Now folks, I'd rather those Girl Scouts would come to my door and ask for an outright donation. I really don't care for their cookies, and I'd gladly give the price they ask for a box of lousy cookies directly to the local troops.

Is that too much to ask? Couldn't we at least have that option?

It's that time of year

I notice I don't have half as many updated blogs to read lately. Everyone seems to suffer a slump this time of year.

Even my own blog bores me silly. Let's face it, when you're reduced to blogging about Medicare and the stocking caps you own, it's a desperate situation.

Cliff and I do take our daily walk, covering our mouths and faces in the coldest weather. Sadie doesn't even notice the temperature, but romps and chases after sticks as usual. I could tell you stories about her (with illustrations or videos) but it's all been done and seen before.

I take my camera everywhere, but nothing seems camera-worthy. The landscape is dull brown; the sun doesn't shine. I'd love some snow, but I'm not optimistic that we'll get enough to brag about.

Cliff, who could never understand my preoccupation/addiction to the Internet in the past, spends four hours at a time on the laptop surfing Craigslist and Yesterday's Tractors. What else can one do when it's this cold? He went to clear brush Saturday, but his feet got numb after an hour or so. Yesterday I said to him, "That laptop is a nice little time-passer, isn't it?"

And he agreed.

Today we went to Sam's Club, Cliff, Rena and I. I didn't need a thing; I just wanted to do something outside this house. I bought some oranges and strawberries, hoping those would give me a taste of sunshine.

Rena treated us to lunch at Smokestack Barbecue; I ordered fried cauliflower and made it my entire meal: I love that stuff!

Time does drag, this time of year. I guess at my age, that's a good thing; might as well make what's left of my life stretch out a little longer.

I'm going to sit down with my guitar and sing a few folks songs and ramble down memory lane. Perhaps I'll conjure up some long-forgotten tale from my past.


One of Minnie Pearl's much-used jokes was this: "I'm too young for Medicare and too old for men-to-care."

It appears that I'm no longer too young for Medicare. At least, I won't be after April.

Thanks to the discussion and advice in the comment section of the entry where I asked advice for Pat, I'm much better educated. This just goes to show that when you reach out to help someone, you often receive help yourself in the process.

Ma said, "Even though I'm still working I was told to sign up for Medicare a and b as my insurance coverage changes to a different plan with 65 You might want to check on that with Cliff's coverage. I'd previously thought I get the same, but no, Medicare pays first then my work coverage pays 2nd."

Celeste said, "Listen to Ma. SS also advices you to sign up as you will have to wait until open enrollment if you do not sign up by 65th BD. Most employers insurance change when someone is 65. It usually becomes a supplement policy after that."

And Patsy said, "Donna when you are 65 sign up for medicare, I didn't because I had good insurance and was working. I reasoned even if I had to pay a deductible on my insurance it was better than paying insurance cost for medicare. Guess what when I stopped working the medicare charge was larger because I had not enrolled when I was 65."

So I called our insurance; they don't care if I sign up for Medicare or not. As long as Cliff carries this insurance, I am fully covered. So much for having to pay for Part B.

So I said to myself, "Why worry about it then? I'll wait until Cliff retires."

But your comments concerned me, so I went to the Medicare website.

Ah-HA! It looks like I do need to sign up for Medicare in the three-month period before I turn sixty-five. It appears to me that if I sign up for Medicare A, that won't cost me a cent. I'm sure the people at the Social Security office will advise me further; I'll write down all my questions before I visit them.

Thanks to all of you for your advice.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Tale of three stocking hats

At least once a year I blog about my favorite winter hat. No other hat is as warm and comfy, or as static-free. I milked cows for twenty or so years wearing this very stocking cap. Somewhere along the line Cliff borrowed it and realized it was the best stocking hat he'd ever come across.

So for a long time, we shared it. If it wasn't time to milk the cows, Cliff was allowed to use it.

We acquired this perfect hat as a result of Cliff's youngest sister getting a divorce back in the 70's. Her ex's brother worked on the pipeline in Alaska and had given it to them as a Christmas gift. Charlene had no use for it, and I latched onto it like a dog on a bone.

Once in awhile Cliff would stay outside past milking time, and I was left hatless. So when I stumbled upon another stocking cap that I'd had for years but never worn down in the depths of a junk drawer, I decided to try it out. It wasn't as good as the Alaska hat, but it was a close second. Debbie, a co-worker of Cliff's, had given it to me for Christmas in 1980 or 81 and it was still like new.

Now Cliff and I each had our own cold-weather hat.

Every once in awhile the Alaska hat comes up missing, and both of us worry and fret until it shows up again. During one such disappearance two or three years back, Charlene took pity on us and decided to look for another hat that would be just as serviceable and warm as our favorite.

She found this at a Harley-Davidson dealer. Her reasoning was that Harley riders ride in all kinds of weather, so this ought to be the warmest hat in the world.

Now I appreciated the thought behind her gift, but please... look at that hat! It doesn't even have any edge to turn up! It hung unused on a peg behind the door at our old house we moved, and then I put it in a drawer.

Recently I ran across the Harley hat and realized it might possibly be made to wear under a motorcycle helmet; I put it with our other gear to try out in cold weather.

Thursday when we left on our ride, it was in the upper thirties and I remembered to put it on.

I can't begin to tell you how much warmer my head was with that hat lining my helmet!

So, Charlene, from the bottom of my heart I thank you: This hat didn't serve the original purpose for which you bought it, but it now has a much nobler purpose; it helps keep me warm on those winter-time motorcycle rides!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bread pudding recipe

Midlife Mom asked for this, so here it is, straight out of one of my newer Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks.


4 beaten eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups dry French bread cubes or regular bread cubes
1/3 cup dried tart red cherries, dried cranberries, or raisins (I used raisins)
1 recipe Whiskey Sauce (optional)

1. In a bowl beat together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, orange peel and cinnamon. In an ungreased 2-quart square baking dish toss together bread cubes and dried fruit; pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture.
2. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or till a nife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly. If desired, serve warm with Whiskey Sauce. Makes 8 servings.


1/4 cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 beaten egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon

1. In a small saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, egg yolk, and water. Cook and constantly stir the mixture for 5 to 6 minutes or till sugar dissolves and mixture boils. Remove from heat; stir in bourbon. Serve warm.

Looking toward spring

Cliff had to buy license for our pickup yesterday.

We can drive eight miles to the license bureau and stand in line for an hour, or we can go on across the river to Richmond, where there's a branch inside the Orschelns store that always seems to get us through in ten minutes or less.

While Cliff was getting his license plate (by the way, this is for the pickup we thought was old enough to have a one-time, antique plate; turns out we can't do that until it's 25 years old), I strolled the aisles and came upon some garden seeds that were five packets for one dollar. What a small price to pay for a ray of hope! Yes, it's still winter; but if we had a time when the ground thawed briefly, I could sow that lettuce and it would be just fine. The peas and radishes can be planted in March. I've seen it snow on peas and not hurt them at all.

Recently I was sitting in a dentist office and discovered a magazine called "Missouri Life".

I came home, looked up the website, and subscribed. This is just what Cliff and I need to plan our motorcycle jaunts! It's always more fun riding if we have a destination in mind, and this is the very thing to help us plan.

In this first issue we received, Mexico, Missouri is featured. There's nothing that cures the winter doldrums like dreaming about spring and summer activities.

Fast Friends: Fast, but not Loose

original artwork by Kathy. Please ignore the spelling. That's what makes it so charming. LOL

"The Friends Award isn't about being the most popular blogger or having the most read blog. It is just because you consider the author a friend. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

I received this award from Kathy, one of my long-time AOL journal friends. There's no way I can pick out eight people to receive it, though. I consider so many of my faithful readers to be my friends.

When Cliff went into the hospital unexpectedly for open heart surgery, I came home and did a journal entry about it. The next time I peeked in, that entry had 85 comments from caring people. I don't know why it helps in times of crisis to see people saying, "I care" in one form or another. But it does.

Then there was the time that Mandy, my dog, got hit on the highway and died. Sixty-six people expressed their concern.

So if you've ever reached out to me in any small way, whether in times of joy or sorrow, consider yourself a recipient of the above award.

I am so grateful that our AOL journals were able to be transferred to Blogger, even though most of the pictures didn't transfer; there are so many memories in my old journal.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I love a bargain, and I hate to waste money.

Every time Cliff and I are in Richmond at Walmart, I check out the meat that has been marked down 40% because the "sell by" date is almost up. Today I spotted a package of nice center-cut pork chops. We don't eat a lot of meat of any kind, especially pork; but I can't pass up a bargain.

Rather than freeze it like I usually do my bargain meats, I put four of them in the bottom of a Corning Ware dish, spread Stove-top stuffing over the meat, and spread a can of cream-of-chicken soup over that. I covered it and baked it for almost an hour.

Someone I once worked with told me about this simple pork-chop fix, and until we changed to healthier eating habits I fixed it often. It really is better than it looks. Normally I used Cream of Mushroom soup, but I didn't have any today.

I can always find marked-down bread at that Walmart, too; and today was no exception. I bought a square loaf of sour-dough for a buck.

This time it wasn't such a bargain; it was pretty dried out.

"Oh well," I told Cliff. "You win some, you lose some."

After he went out to the shop, I remembered another dish I used to make a lot: bread pudding. I figured we may as well have two unhealthy items for supper, because I really hate to throw out that bread; I paid good money for it. With whiskey sauce poured over it, it is hands down the best bread pudding I've ever made. Of course, the fact we haven't had it in years might be a factor.

Granddaughter Natalie was here to help us eat this bargain-based meal, and when Cliff's sister gets home after twelve hours of working, she'll be glad to have supper ready and waiting. Tomorrow Cliff and I will have nice, healthy Chicken Gumbo. With maybe a small piece of bread pudding for dessert.

Do you have advice for my blogging friend?

I'll be sixty-five in July. So far I don't have to worry about Medicare because Cliff is working; so we have wonderful insurance.

If you have experience with Social Security and Medicare, Pat could surely use any advice you have for her.

Her blog entry is a wake-up call for me, since it wouldn't take much to put me in the same ill-fitting shoes she's wearing, only with three times the spending money she gets each month.

Go on over there and advise her if you can.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Strange motorcycle indeed

We saw this peculiar machine at Bikes to Trikes today.

It has a V8 350 Chevy engine. It looks huge to me, sorta like a motorcycle trying to be a pickup.

If Cliff decides to try this one out, I ain't ridin' along.

Another good riding day

Knowing there's bad weather coming soon, Cliff took a vacation day and we left at 10:30 on the Gold Wing. I came up with a couple of destinations for us, since it always seems to go better if we are "heading someplace". Even if we get there in a round-about way.

At the bike show we attended recently, we found out there's a place in Lees Summit that can convert a regular motorcycle into a trike: "Bikes to Trikes". We've been thinking we'll eventually have ours converted, if Cliff gets to the point that he can't handle 850 pounds of motorcycle. But several people have had doubts whether he'd like driving such a machine, and today he got his chance to find out.

The guy quickly offered to let us try this lovely trike out. I told Cliff to go ahead without me first.

We went in and looked around at the work they were doing.

We met their dog; I made the mistake of petting him, and he set up a howl like you wouldn't believe when I stopped and walked away.

From there we went to the other side of Harrisonville and had dinner at Kurszeils Country Meats. Someone had told us about this place way back when, and they weren't open when we stopped. It made a great destination for a motorcycle trip.

The place isn't fancy, but Cliff said that tenderloin sandwich was the best he's had in years. I had a decent Reuben sandwich.

Another good ride sneaked into the month of January.

Oh, and we really didn't care for the ride on the trike; it was bumpy, and turning felt strange because we're used to leaning into the curves. There's no leaning with a trike. So if we get one, it'll be when Cliff is really, really old and weak.

my Bodhi tree

A guy in Oregon talked today about how he misses his "Bodhi tree", a tree under which he could sit unobserved and seek enlightenment.

I don't necessasarily find enlightenment there, but I get a certain sense of peace when I'm in sight of my favorite cottonwood tree. In "Little Big Man", there's a conversation between Jack Crabb and Old Lodgeskins that goes like this:

"I don’t understand it Grandfather...Why would they try to kill women and children?"

"Because they are strange. They do not seem to know where the Center of the Earth is."

When I've spent time in the shade of that tree, I feel as though I've been reminded where the center of the earth is.

It grows in a low spot in the pasture. These days if you're standing, it's possible to be observed there because the neighbors built a monstrosity of a house to the west. But I have some healthy Norway Spruce trees growing that will eventually block them, God willing.

Left to right, you can see the rental place, the horse's shed, our barn, our mobile home, our garage, and the roof of "the monstrosity". However, if one sits on the ground leaning against the trunk of the tree, the civilized world is blocked out. It's a great spot to take Sadie and play Frisbee.

Cliff hates the sticky little pieces of fuzz that cottonwoods shed at a certain time of the year, and I'm really hoping that doesn't become a factor in whether this tree lives or dies, now that we live closer to it.

I need to take some time to watch "Little Big Man" again. I love that movie.

P.S. Pictures were taken this morning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Good grief!

I'm going to delete two posts about the C.a.r.t.e.r/C.l.i.n.t.o.n S_N_U_B

Yep. I don't mind a few google searches leading people to this lowly blog, but one hundred in a day? Nope.

I feel MUCH better now.

Thursday Thirteen: Edition "C"

1. Chickens: I wouldn't mind having a couple of them.

2. Cats: I like them as long as they live in the barn.

3. Coffee: The only reason for getting up in the morning, and one of the chief reasons for living.

4. Clara: My beloved grandma's name

5. Confetti: I've made a lot of it out of old newspapers and magazines.

6. Cows: one of my favorite animals

7. Cigarettes: I gave them up sometime around 1980.

8. Candy: I wish I could give that up.

9. Carter Family: they practically invented country music

10. Cash. Johnny Cash. Enough said.

11. Church of Christ: The church I was raised in, with a Capella singing. I have them (and my mom) to thank for my Bible knowledge.

12. Carolyn: one of my cousins

13. Cross: 1 Corinthians 1:18: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

This really is a fun exercise. If you decide to go through the alphabet with us on Thursdays, be sure to leave a link to your entry at Izzy 'N Emmy.

Hope arrived in the mail today

Indeed, hope came in the form of herb seeds for my spring garden.

I was making spaghetti sauce one day recently and wondered why I'm not raising all those spices myself, rather than buying them. Now, my green thumb waxes and wanes; so I wouldn't bet the farm on whether any of these tiny seeds makes it to adulthood. But it's worth the price I paid for the uplift my spirit received when I opened the package. Stay tuned to see what happens.

Heartened by the promise of a garden, I Googled for some variety of tomato that is blight-resistant and found a relative newcomer developed in, of all places, Oregon.
Check it out. Notice that it's not blight-free; nobody has come up with a tomato that's guaranteed not to get blight. But it appears to be the most resistant of any tomato thus far.

Celebrity tomatoes have performed pretty well for me in the past, and those will likely be my main choice when I go to buy plants. But I think I'll order a packet of Legend seeds, just for the fun of it.

Spring lies ahead, and that's change we can believe in.