Thursday, December 31, 2009

Prayers, please

Once again, I ask for your prayers and positive thoughts for "our little Kody", the kid Cliff and I jointly babysat for a couple of years, way back when. I still recall teaching him the motions to "Eensey-Weensey Spider"... although when he said it, it came out, "Pidie, Pidie". But he did the motions perfectly!

I've told you before about his wreck, and the burns he suffered. He returned home Monday, but the skin grafts have become infected and he's had to go back to the hospital today.
Please remember to pray for Kody, if you are a praying person.

baking woes

Recently I used a pumpkin-bread recipe to make some squash bread. It was very tasty, but seemed more like cake than bread. I decided to make more of it today; in the process, I figured out why the last batch tasted so cake-like.
I didn't notice the added cup of flour at the bottom of the recipe before! I was excited to know that this time my bread would actually BE bread, until I found out I didn't have enough flour (I was doubling the recipe so I'd have a loaf for the freezer). I needed another two cups, and I only had about a cup-and-a-half.
Now, I have a key to my sister-in-law's house next door and permission to go in and borrow foodstuffs any time I need to; but somehow it didn't seem worth all the effort of putting on my Muck boots, bundling up, wiping my feet once inside her house, and hunting down the flour. Besides, the cake bread was good before, and I used only half as much flour as I should have.

New Year's Resolution: In the coming year, I will sit down and read through a recipe to the very end before I start mixing it up. And I will make sure I have all the ingredients before I start.
Yeah. That's gonna happen.

Bad news

My snowman's eyes, mouth, and one of his potatoes buttons lie scattered on the ground. I decided perhaps I should bring the stocking hat inside; he'd never miss it at this point. Unfortunately, it's frozen tight to his head. It's a good thing that's our spare hat.
Notice the underlined text? I don't want it underlined, but this is what happens when I delete a picture while making an entry, then put words where the picture was. I'm sure none of you have troubles like this.
My main problem is hard-down laziness, because what I should do is start over from scratch; that's way too much trouble, and turns something fun into a job.

For my next project, I've been eyeing this mountain of snow Cliff has piled up next to the old garage. If I can persuade him to coat the outside with water for me, I'm thinking of turning it into a snow cave. The temperatures are supposed to stay really low through the weekend, so it should last awhile if I get it done. I figure as long as I'm doing things like this, I won't be worrying about mundane things like housework.

When's the last time you made a snowman?

Yesterday after Cliff left for work, I took Sadie out to the pasture for a walk, which is no easy task with snow on the ground. I didn't walk all of our usual paths, but I got plenty of exercise.
The temperatures were right at, and even perhaps a little above, freezing. I noticed when I tossed Sadie's stick that the snow clung to it... much to her displeasure. The snow which was so dry when it fell was now a wet snow. I made a snowball just to make certain.
"I wonder if any local kids are making snowmen," I said to myself (or Sadie, or God... I'm never sure quite who I'm talking to at times like this). "Wouldn't it be funny if there was a snowman beside the driveway when Cliff comes home from work in the middle of the night?"
Back at the house, I started rolling the big ball of snow that everybody makes for the lower part of a snow person. I don't recall that being such hard work! I had to sit down in a lawn chair and catch my breath a couple of times. Before I was done, I could hardly move the thing, it was so heavy.

Sadie didn't have a clue what I was doing, but she had fun running around me while I labored at my task.

I had to become creative to add the details to my snow person: the nose, of course, is part of a carrot. But I didn't have any coal or buttons for eyes and coat buttons. I thought about looking in Cliff's shop, but that would have meant I'd have to go in the house and get the key. No thanks.

So I cut those huge eyes out of a scrub pad that was lying on the garage floor, and I used little potatoes for the (very crookedly placed) buttons. The arms are pieces of dried-out Okra plants.
Now I'm sure you've seen better snowmen before; but have you ever seen one made by an old lady, all by herself?
I'll bet it gave Cliff a big laugh.
Below is another of those Sadie videos that I took during our walk. You'll hear my heavy breathing as I talk to her because walking in the snow will make you breathe like that; and you can see how the wet snow was clinging to the stick. I'm sure her barking irritates other folks, but dogs are like children: Your own are adorable, everybody else's are brats.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's cooking in my kitchen

Remember about a month ago when
I put my leftover turkey in bags and put them in the freezer?

Today I'm making a double batch of Jambalaya, using four cups of that turkey, a quart of my home-canned tomatoes, diced chopped sweet peppers frozen last summer, and home-made chicken broth. I notice I only have one more freezer bag of broth (1 1/2 cups); I start to panic when I get that low on broth. So many of our healthy, low-fat recipes call for it. So I'm pulling a package of chicken leg quarters out of the freezer in order to replenish my supply.

Don't worry, I'll be removing that bay leaf.

To go with it, I found the cutest little butternut squash -

Just the right amount for a side dish for two people. I'll put a tiny bit of brown sugar in the hollowed-out place and microwave it for six or seven minutes.

Want a low-fat, good-for-you, one-dish meal for the new year? Try my Better-Homes-and-Garden version of Chicken (or turkey) Jambalaya.


1/3 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 14 ½ ounce can of chopped tomatoes

1 ½ cups chicken broth

2/3 cup long grain rice

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (I add chopped garlic with the onions, peppers and celery and skip this ingredient)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 to ½ bottled hot pepper sauce, or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I prefer cayenne)

1 bay leaf

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1. In a large skillet cook celery, onion and sweet pepper in oil till vegetables are tender but not brown.

2. Stir in undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, uncooked rice, basil, garlic powder, pepper, hot pepper sauce, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or till rice is tender. Stir in chicken or turkey; heat through. Discard bay leaf. Makes 4 servings.

354 calories, 12 grams total fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 68 mg chol., 610 sodium, 32 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 27 grams protein. 15% vitamin A, 37% vitamin C, 22% iron.

The end of the Decade? I think not.

Patrick, of Patrick's Place, blogged about this subject, which is what got me looking around on the Internet. Most sources say the present decade doesn't end until December 31, 2010.

It really doesn't matter to me, since I've never known a new year or a new decade to actually change anything about the way my life is going... unless I changed my attitude. Now there's something that will change your life: a good old-fashioned attitude adjustment. Nowadays, that takes too much effort on my part; I've gotten lazy.

New beginnings used to fill me with hope, and that hope helped me change my attitude. I was one of those people who resolved to lose those extra Christmas pounds and actually got the job done; Cliff would lose weight along with me. These days, my resolve has flown out the window. I've stopped making resolutions because I no longer keep them.

I do have one tiny resolution this year: When I talk about what year it is, I'm going to say it differently. Ever since 2001, I've said it like this: two thousand one, two thousand two, etc.

Now, back in the 1900's I never said "one thousand nine hundred one", or one thousand nine hundred two". No, it was "nineteen one", or nineteen two". Or maybe "nineteen 'oh' one".

So, come New Year's Day, I'll be calling the year "twenty-ten". Right or wrong, that's how I'm saying it.

Isn't that an earth-shaking resolution?

Hey, at least maybe I can keep this one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The last of the garden

Some of the butternut squashes are starting to spoil; others are wrinkling up, although so far this hasn't seemed to hurt them. I brought the worst-looking ones in from Cliff's shop; little by little I'm microwave-cooking them (after cutting off any spoiled portions) and saving the cooked insides for pies, cakes and muffins.

It takes about twelve minutes in the microwave to cook one squash.

This is the end of the potatoes from last summer's garden.

I made this crustless squash pie using the pumpkin pie recipe that's on the can of Libby's pumpkin. When making a pumpkin or squash pie without a crust, I add about a half-cup of flour to the ingredients to give it some body.
Of course, the potatoes and squash aren't really the end of my summer garden, since I still have lots of canned tomatoes, relish, and pickles.

Our old pickup

That Oregon guy often blogs about his pickup, and it got me thinking about our 1988 Ford.

The old truck has been with us through thick and thin. We bought it in 1989, barely used. At that time we didn't think much about what kind of gas mileage it might get, but we were in for a shock: at best, it gets twelve MPG.

These days we only use it when we need to haul something, or pull a trailer. Or, as in the past few days, when we need to get around in the snow and ice. Our Grand Marquis is not front-wheel-drive, and it's pretty much helpless on bad roads.

Our oldest grandson wheedled and begged, a few years ago, for Cliff to sell him the truck. Cliff told him repeatedly he wouldn't be able to afford to drive it, but he persisted, and also promised that any time we needed a truck, we could use it.
Finally Cliff gave in. He didn't make Arick go to a bank for a loan; he just told him to pay a certain amount per month and it would be deducted from the total price (an amount which neither Cliff nor I can remember). He paid faithfully, but after several months, the cost of gasoline for the pickup started to hurt. Cliff mentioned one day that he missed having a truck around when he needed it, and Arick said he'd let us have it back and we could keep the money he'd paid on it if Cliff would co-sign for another truck, a newer one that wouldn't use so much gas.
So, old Brownie was back home. Arick did pay off the loan for which Cliff co-signed, in case you were wondering. But then he would, knowing he'd have me to contend with if he missed a payment.

On the right side, there's considerable rust near the bumper ...

... and above the tire.
There's none on the driver's side because about sixteen years ago, Cliff had a little incident with a trailer, and that part was replaced by insurance. These days we don't keep full coverage on the truck.
I need help getting into it now, thanks to knee problems. The truck is pretty high off the ground.
A neighbor kid keeps offering to pay $3,500 for Old Brownie. I remember how we missed her when Arick had her. Besides, if we were to sell it to a neighbor kid, Cliff would probably feel responsible for every little thing that went wrong with it.
When the truck turns twenty-five, if it lasts that long, it will officially be an antique; we'll get a collector's plate and never buy another license plate again. I say we hang onto it. It really owes us nothing.

My new boots

I've wanted a pair of Muck Boots ever since I noticed people at Homesteading Today were raving about them, but I just couldn't make myself pay that much money for snow boots. Yesterday Cliff finally got tired of hearing me whine about not being able to walk far with Sadie because of the snow drifts (the snow was deeper than the tops of my shoes); so he said, "Let's go to Kleinschmidt's and get you some danged boots."
First I went online, so I'd know how the pricing would be; can you believe there are over a dozen different styles, priced from $77 to $169? What could be so different about all these kinds of lined rubber boots?
We couldn't believe the crowd at Kleinschmidt's; evidently a lot of people got money for Christmas and wanted cowboy boots, because most of the time we were there, there was a line of people waiting to pay for boots.
After trying three different kinds of Mucks on, I still couldn't really tell a difference in the models; but I ended up with the thirteen-inch-tall "Muckmaster", which set us back almost $100. As we were paying for my boots, around noon, the cashier told us they'd sold six pairs of Muck Boots so far that day.
Back home, I put them on and went out with Sadie toward the pasture. Unfortunately, now that it warmed up, the snowdrifts have settled and compacted so that it's impossible to walk through them... boots or no boots. I actually got stuck in one for awhile!
My feet didn't get cold, though. I bought these more for cold weather conditions than for snow; we don't get that much snow here.
Cliff and I were having a discussion about cold weather, and he said, "I hope we don't have any pipes freeze here in the trailer house."
I told him I was pretty sure it got below zero last year, and we didn't have a problem. He didn't remember it being that cold, but I found out WDAF TV has the information I needed to win our "discussion".

This is January and February of 2009.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I can't help it

I love this song!

Now I understand

You probably wonder what cave I came out of, to not know how Feta cheese should be used.
Thanks to a reader, I know now that it is not for cooking.
That's probably where my Fancy macaroni went wrong. Maybe I'll give it another chance one of these days.
Thanks to the Internet, I found out I can freeze Feta cheese in small batches and use it in salads, of which we'll probably be having many, very soon.
Have you ever met someone who refused to share a prized recipe? I wonder if this is the reason: They're afraid people will take liberties with the recipe and then blame them for the dish's failure. I've had it happen to me.
I am already so tired of winter! I'm too old to wish my life away, so I won't do that. But I'm starting to see why snowbirds like my sister spend the cold months in the South. I think I'll start haunting the seed catalogue websites and planning my next garden; that should get me out of my funk. I've been known to plant peas and lettuce in February; that isn't so far away.
I actually bought some milk yesterday at the store. As I told Cliff, since I don't have to milk the cow, I'm not going to, during this miserable weather. It isn't the cold temperatures that get me, it's the mess. It's really hard to clean up an animal that spends time lying in a dirty shed trying to stay out of the cold. Back when I milked lots of cows, I thought nothing of the cleanup part of it, although I really had no option anyway.
Since Bonnie's calf takes care of the milk, I don't have to worry about it. I like having that freedom.
I'm back to playing that silly "Farmville" on Facebook. It's never too cold to milk my cows and raise crops there! You can even have snowdrifts and snowmen next to your garden, and things will grow just fine. The only way crops will fail is if you don't harvest them in time, and even then it's no big deal. I find it humorous that it isn't children playing these time-wasting games: it's adults like me.
Here's my farm; as you can see, my cows are all in the dairy barn, nice and clean. The snowdrifts given to me as gifts by my neighbors have no effect on the rice and watermelons growing nearby. Kind neighbors come by while I'm sleeping and fertilize my crops for me, chasing away foxes and pulling weeds.
In real life, the only weed my neighbor would pull on my property would be the morel mushrooms that pop up in the spring; or the marijuana that grows wild at the back of the place, a result of the crops of hemp raised back during the Civil War.

These are my barns, and you can see I have a tractor that makes my plowing go faster and a harvester (the blue thing) that helps me harvest faster. Oh yes, everything is up-to-date on my farm. To show you how amazing this Internet world is: John, whose farm, as you can see, is next to mine, is the man who interviewed me for my job at Kohl's in the year 2000. He's a wonderful person, but I would never have expected to have heard from him again, since we don't run in the same circles or live near one another; we really aren't even all that well acquainted. And we neither one work at Kohls any more.
But one thing led to another, and here we are playing silly farm games together. Another of my Farmville neighbors was my first assistant supervisor when I started at Kohls... one of the best bosses I ever had. Another neighbor is my sweet, funny Jessica.
Say what you will about Facebook. I'm loving it!
I'm also loving how easy it is to take screenshots with my Mac. I'm loving how easy EVERYTHING is with my Mac!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My people are back!

I need to get rid of my Sitemeter, really I do. I watch it and worry and fret and wonder where all these people come from - or where they've gone. For the last month, my readership has dropped daily. I kept telling myself it was because of the holiday season, but of course, being an only child, I was asking questions like "Am I boring them to death?" or "Is my S.A.D. showing?" Or even, "Do they hate me?"
Today, Christmas is over and my people are back! You haven't forgotten me after all.
Now, about that Fancy Macaroni: First of all, I think I added too much macaroni; it was pretty dry. Ree said not to add it all at once, but I didn't see that part until it was too late. Second, keep in mind that I substituted different kinds of cheese than the recipe called for.
I still prefer the old Better-Homes-And-Gardens recipe for macaroni and cheese. But that's just me.
This won't keep me from trying more of Pioneer Woman's recipes. Because I'm still loving that tasty Chicken spaghetti recipe of hers, not to mention the yummy chocolate sheet cake.
Oh, and if the poll on my sidebar keeps on the way it's going, I am definitely going to switch to Costco when it's time to renew my Sam's Club card.


Hello. I'm Donna, and I'm a cheese addict.
I always tell people my favorite food is pizza, but that's mainly because of the amount of cheese on top of it.
I also love macaroni and cheese, made from scratch, baked in the oven; unfortunately, Kraft has created an entire generation of kids that prefer the kind from a box, with fake cheese. I'll admit I like that kind too, but I really loved the old-fashioned kind.
I am not, however, a cheese snob. I'm American cheese all the way, with perhaps some medium cheddar to nibble on as a snack. If I'm feeling really daring, I'll have a few bites of pepper jack.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking at Pioneer Woman's cooking section the other day. I seldom look at that portion of her blog because it tends to make my arteries clog shut and my blood pressure climb... and that's just looking at the pictures!
I saw this recipe called "Fancy Macaroni". I've been able to think of nothing else for days.
Ree says, "Choose whatever four cheeses you'd like - sometimes it's fun to play around."
Then she goes on to say she is using Gruyere, Fontina, and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Folks, not only am I unable to pronounce those, I've never even heard of two of them.
Sam's Club has a huge selection of cheeses, so I decided while I was there to look for those exotic-sounding cheeses. Indeed, I found three of the four; the cost for each of them was about five dollars an ounce. Seriously! I did buy some real Parmesan (as opposed to the dry kind in the green box) because the price wasn't so bad on that, and we'll use it on spaghetti later on. Who knows, I might even let my daughter use some for lasagna if she agrees to invite us over to help eat it. And just to show I'm not afraid, I bought some Feta cheese (it wasn't so expensive).
I'm using Ree's recipe as a guideline for a supper dish tonight to go along with our meat loaf, but I'll be calling it "Not-So-Fancy Macaroni", because I'm using Feta, cheddar, and Parmesan cheeses. I'm also cutting the recipe in half; it makes far too much for me, Cliff and his sister. However, if it's good, I might make it at a later date for company.
I'll let you know how it turns out.

Woo hoo, we escaped to the big city!

This is what our country roads looked like when we left the house this morning. We had to make a stop in Oak Grove to get gas.

QuikTrip was very busy, with people waiting in line for a pump.

It's very painful to fill up our pickup; it has two tanks, and gets ten to twelve miles per gallon; now you know why we don't use it often.

Over sixty-one dollars. Nice.

At least I-70 is dry.

Sam's Club wasn't crowded.

There was no other place to put our stuff; good thing I didn't buy much.

Then we went to Smokehouse Barbecue.

We had deep-fried cauliflower dipped in Ranch dressing

and split a sandwich. After all, celebration was in order: we survived cabin fever!

The country roads were looking much better on our way home.
Thanks, Cliff, for taking me away.

We finally got out of the house

The roads are treacherous, but our old pickup is a four-wheel-drive. Even with half-worn-out tires, it took us up the hill to our daughter's house in style. Rachel took this picture of us arriving; notice Hawkeye, the wonder dog, running around the front of the pickup to greet me. I'm pretty sure if you asked Rachel and Kevin to name the best dog they ever had, they'd say Hawkeye. How many dogs will howl at the slightest suggestion, just to entertain his people?
Speaking of best dogs, someone got the impression from my previous entry that I was calling Suzy a terrier. Believe it or not, when my sister-in-law bought her at a pet store, they claimed she was part terrier; I don't think so. I always figured she had some sort of spaniel blood in her, but you know how it is with mutts: you never really know, unless you're personally acquainted with their parents.
It was good to get away for the first time in three days, and our daughter lives less than two miles away. They still had plenty of Christmas junk food, and Rachel made some hearty soup from a home-made soup kit someone gave her for Christmas.
I don't know what it is with me, but after I've eaten dinner, around one o'clock, I get really sleepy. It doesn't matter where I am, even on the back of the motorcycle; my eyes get heavy and I fall asleep (that sounds more dangerous than it is). So yesterday I reclined on Rachel's couch and drifted off as usual. I awakened to snide remarks about my snoring, my husband telling them I always snore like that, and my daughter saying I sounded like her coffeepot.
Oh well, I got my nap in, didn't I? I can take the abuse.
If Cliff thinks we can safely get out in the pickup today, I'm wanting to go to Sam's Club. We'll see how things go. Those of my readers who have tried both, I'd like to know whether you prefer Costco to Sam's Club, and why. I'll make a poll on my sidebar, but would appreciate hearing the reasons for your selection in the comment section of any entry.
I took the Christmas tree down yesterday; there were so many needles on the floor that my Dyson got plugged up several times, but we finally got the worst of them. I'll leave my Avon Christmas plates up through the month of January, because I enjoy them so much. I'll also continue using holiday mugs for that length of time. Then I'll remove all traces of Christmas until next year.
I wanted to put a nice, wintry picture on the header of my blog, and I'm happy with the picture of Sadie running toward me down in the "holler"; however, I have tried every color of the rainbow for the wording on there, and nothing works very well. White seemed to show up better than any other choice, but it's not really satisfactory either. Until I change pictures, that will have to do. I changed where I put my usual quote because it was totally illegible on that particular picture.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The best dog I ever had

It wouldn't be Sadie. She qualifies for the "most hyper", or perhaps even "funniest". Also one of the smartest dogs I've had. She's nowhere near the "best".
We had a wonderful German Shepherd, Chip, that would perhaps come in second-best; and the first rat terrier we owned was such a good dog, we went through half a dozen others trying to replace him. We finally figured out that couldn't be done.

Our mongrel Suzy, though, had it all: Looks, personality, loyalty. She loved life and she loved people. Cliff's youngest sister sent her our way because her then-husband hated the dog; Charlene said, "If she stays here, she's going to die."

You'd think, since she'd been kicked, beaten and abused by Charlene's husband, that she'd have had a mistrust of humans, but she never showed the slightest trace of that. Perhaps her joy at being freed from the confines of a pen in the city overcame all the baggage from her past.

Suzy even knew where our property lines were, and wouldn't cross them unless she was in pursuit of a rabbit or squirrel. Unfortunately, it was such a pursuit that got her killed.
If there's a doggie heaven, Suzy is there.
Take some time to think about the best dog you ever had; what made him or her the best? Got pictures? I'd love to see them.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Question for dog-lovers (or observers)

Cliff's sister's mini-Dachshund loves to come over and eat Sadie's food. Oh, it's the same kind of food she has at home (only bigger bites), but she will absolutely gorge herself when she's here.
She likes to get a piece of Sadie's food and bring it to the living room, where she'll drop it on the carpet and gobble it up right down to the last crumb.
My mom's mini-poodle did the same thing, many years ago.
Not so with my mongrel, Sadie; she eats her food right at the dish, glancing to the right and left as though watching for some interloper to sneak in and take her food.
So, readers: If your dog exhibits this behavior (eating on the carpet), please let me know; also, tell me the breed of your dog. I'm wondering if it's a small-dog thing.
We know dogs descended from wolves. What is it in their genetic makeup that makes them want to eat their food on a soft, padded area? I'm sure it's an instinctive behavior, but not all dogs exhibit it.
Did wolves seek out a nice grassy area in which to eat?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Let's figure this out!

*after posting this, I went to Google and found an answer that makes sense: "in the wild the pack leader would eat the food first,and while the pack leader is eating the rest of the wolves would run in for a bite and take the piece of meat,in the woods and eat it in there. until the pack leader was done eating. after he/she was done eating then they would all eat together at the kill."

I got brave enough to take Sadie for a walk

It's bitter cold, but Sadie and I both had cabin fever today. I'm the poster child, you know, for S.A.D.; and I really needed to get out in the fresh air. It took all the effort I could summon up, believe me.

I left with the intention of avoiding the drifts, but that was impossible. I knew I wouldn't walk the full distance we always do, because it's very hard to walk with boots and coveralls on. I glanced down in a "holler" and realized if I went down there, I'd be out of the wind. I descended into the quiet woods; it was, indeed, quite pleasant there. Sadie found a stick and I threw it for her several times.

And then I realized that I was going to have to climb up out of there, through the snow. That's when it hit me that I'm sixty-five years old, and if I'm going to do stupid things like this I should take the cell phone along; I could have a heart attack!

Then I remembered there's no signal down in the holler anyhow.
I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least there was snow on the ground, so Cliff could track me and find my cold, dead corpse.
Oh wait, with the wind blowing so hard, tracks fill in about as quickly as they're made.
Evidently the freezing rain last night coated the path before snow fell, because I'd take one step up and slide back down two. Puffing and panting, I'd sit down in the snow until I got my breath, with Sadie poking a stick in my face trying to get me to throw it. Once I got my breath, I'd proceed with my ordeal.

That may not look like much of a hill to you, but you should have seen my struggle; it was nothing short of heroic!

Finally I got over to the side of the trail and pulled myself up by those brushy plants you see on the right. Looking down, the slope seems more formidable, doesn't it?
I won't be taking that walk again; not in the snow.
My knees are killing me.

Snowy morning update

Cliff's awake; he asked, "How much snow did we get?"
I told him there's no way of knowing, since the wind has blown some places totally bare and piled up drifts in others. I don't imagine we got more than two inches.
Before he woke up, I put my coveralls and boots on again and went outside. I took water to thaw the gate-latch. Then I pondered the situation for a while.
Bonnie will usually follow a can of feed anywhere: Did I dare let her out the front door of the barn, which would mean letting her free into the whole wide world, and try coaxing her into the front door of the horse stall so she'd at least be inside with her calf?

That meant getting her out the door on the right, through a snowdrift, and into the sliding door on the left. Without letting her moose of a calf out.

I had success with this project. When Cliff is fully awake, dressed, and caffeined up (another hour, probably), he'll figure out how to free them from their confinement.

This picture, by the way, illustrates why Bonnie can't use the open-face shed. Although the horses tolerate her and her calf pretty well, they're not about to share this small space with cattle. Once we get the sliding barn door open, we'll leave it ajar so Bonnie and Sir Loin can go inside out of this awful wind.

What a morning

Because I wanted to freshen up our milk supply, I took Sir Loin away from his mom last night and shut him behind the sliding door of the horse stall. Because otherwise, he wouldn't leave any milk for me.
I knew it was going to be miserable this morning, but it's only going to get colder; so I figured I'd be wise to get it over with.
If I'd known what I know now, I would have skipped the whole thing and bought a half-gallon of milk at the store.
First of all, the sleet and freezing rain had frozen the chain that secures the gate to the small lot; try as I might, I couldn't loosen it. I could have come to the house to get water to pour on it, but it didn't seem like too big a deal to go around to the front of the barn to get access to the livestock. It turned out to be a bigger deal that I thought, since I ended up wading through three-foot-deep snow drifts.

I put down my bucket with the udder-cleaning towel in it and got a full can of sweet feed for Bonnie, who is usually waiting right at the barn door to get in. This morning, she wasn't. She was behind a shed at the rental trailer, trying to keep out of the strong winds blowing out of the west. When I called her she started bellowing her complaint, and finally came on around.

This is inside the barn.

Poor Bonnie just wanted in.

She really wanted in.

She dived into that feed as though she hadn't eaten in weeks. I got my share of the milk, turned her out, and discovered to my dismay that the sliding door I needed to open to let Sir Loin out was frozen shut. The sleet and freezing rain had gotten in the track. I pounded, I threw my body against it, all to no avail.
Now I'm waiting for Cliff to wake up and help me figure out what to do. Meanwhile, I opened up the door to the milking part of the barn so Bonnie could get out of the wind. I hope she doesn't tear anything up in there.
How's your Christmas going so far?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And the winner is....

Midlife Mom! Contact me with your address, dear; looks like a Christmas gift for your DIL. I wish I had a copy of PW's book for every single one of you.

If you want to purchase one, I notice they're much cheaper on than in the book stores. If you want it autographed, Ree has said that if you send your book to her, she will autograph it and send it back. She's already done that for a lot of people. I copied the following direct from her website:

"If you would like me to sign my scrawly, curly, loopy, deeply disturbed signature on a cookbook for you (or someone in your life), I’d be happy to oblige. Just send your cookbook to:

Pioneer Woman, 
P.O. Box 749
, Pawhuska, OK 74056

Please stick a Post-it (or scrap of paper) in each cookbook with the specifics (recipient’s name, etc.) and I’ll sign away. I’m happy to write special messages."

Sadie has cabin fever

When Sadie first adopted us, she was a fairly quiet dog. Unfortunately, Cliff and I found out we could get her to bark at key phrases, and it was rather entertaining during the long, dark hours of wintertime; these days, almost anything sets her off if we use the right tone. It's especially bad on days like today when the weather keeps us housebound. And since there isn't a lot else to do except watch DVDs of the old Dick Cavett show, I incite her to bark frequently.

a word of clarification

A couple of my readers were concerned about whether Angel made it home after her little escapade. Trust me, if she hadn't, Rena would have missed work and called the cops, private investigators, or whatever it took to find her spoiled little dog. Angel is her baby!

An early-morning visitor (and unexpected expenses)

Around 4:30 this morning, Sadie came to the computer room and led me to the front door, acting as though she might want out. This is unusual, because she usually sleeps in until at least 8 o'clock.
When I opened the door, my sister-in-law's soaking wet, eight-pound mini-Dachshund burst in. How in the world Sadie knew she was here, I don't know.
Sister-in-law has to go to work today, and evidently she let Angel out to potty; Angel, hating rain like all get-out, came over here thinking I'd let her in. I didn't, though, because how would Rena find her runaway if I had her inside? I told Angel to go home. Five minutes later she was still begging at the door, but next time I looked, she was gone.
Cliff went in the basement of our old house (Rena's house) a couple of days ago and noticed the water heater was leaking. It cost us over $600 for a new heater (including installation) yesterday.
Merry Christmas to us.
Did you ever know it to fail? Something unexpected and costly so often seems to happen near the holidays and tax time. Thank God such occurrences aren't as devastating to us as they once were, but it still pinches the budget.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another package in the mail

Today I received the eggbeater a reader graciously passed along to me. And it's oh, so much better than a new one from Walmart, because this is an eggbeater with a past. It has a story to tell; and you all know how I like stories. In fact, it's a widely traveled eggbeater that has been in regions I've never visited. At this point, I'm not sure I want to use it; I might just hang it on the wall and think about where it's been.
Vicki wrote a note that I'll share with you, because things like this make blogging such a rewarding pastime.

Click on the note to make it larger.
Vicki, you won Cliff's heart by mentioning his tractor.
By the way, to those of you who sent me Christmas cards in the mail, thank you so much! I didn't send cards this year, but your cards are appreciated; they remind me that you are more than just vague, vaporous spirits lurking on the Internet: You are real people.

Just to tease you, here's "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" that we're having a drawing for, halfway in its package and ready to go to the lucky winner.

And here's a preview of the autograph inside the book. Entries are accepted down below until 6 P.M. tomorrow evening (Christmas Eve).