Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'm sure spring is coming!

Where it once was a frozen tundra, it's now mud.  At least the top two inches is mud; under that it's frozen.  
This kind of mud makes walking a real adventure.  Thank goodness for my Muck boots.  
I almost lost my balance a couple of times, and wouldn't THAT have been messy?  
I know spring is coming, because I can finally see the ground in parts of my yard!  
The trees know spring is coming, too; look at the buds.  
The hyacinth knows winter is almost over.  
So today, I planted tiny tomato seeds in my miniature greenhouse.  There were four spots left after I'd used all the tomato seeds, so I put cauliflower seeds in those.  
Last fall I bought a crepe myrtle tree really cheap; I planted it in the front yard and it seemed to thrive, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering how it would fare in winter:  Crepe Myrtle is really a southern tree.  However, the information attached to it at Home Depot said this was a variety developed for our area.  When the winter weather turned so vicious and stayed that way, I had my doubts whether that tree would make it.   
The best I can tell, it's dead.  It's no big loss; I think I only paid $5 for it on clearance.  But I know not to try crepe myrtle again; it's a tree... or shrub... of the south.  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our first (and probably last) Angel Food box

I still believe Angel Food Ministries is great for some people.  But after picking up our box today, I can see it isn't going to serve our purposes.  
There was a box of spaghetti and a can of spaghetti sauce; I make our sauce from scratch to avoid all the sodium, and I'm pretty sure mine would taste better than sauce from a can, although we'll use it.  
There's the four-serving frozen lasagna, which is in my oven as I'm typing this.  That isn't something I'd ordinarily buy at the store.  Again, lots of sodium.  If I want some good lasagna, I'll bribe my daughter into making me some.  Although it won't be very good for us, but it WILL be good.
A pound of hamburger... we still have some of the steer, good old Meat Loaf, in hamburger form in the freezer.  
A container of 2% milk.  We have a Jersey cow that supplies our milk, unless I get lazy.    
There's a small pork roast and four top sirloin steaks; Normally I only buy a roast when we're having company, and I almost never buy steak; but we'll use it.   There's some chicken breast, which is something I do like to have around for stir-fry.
We'll use the three pounds of potatoes and the pound of carrots, as well as all the frozen vegetables that were included in the box.  We like our veggies.
For someone who doesn't (or isn't able to) cook from scratch a lot, and isn't worried about sodium and cholesterol, I think the Angel Food ministries would work great.  
For me and Cliff, not so much.  There's too much overly-processed food for our tastes.  But I would not have known if I hadn't tried it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hopefully on the mend

Cliff took me to CVS so I could get some antibiotics from the Minute Clinic.  I was number five on the waiting list.  Although there were two nurses, it seemed to take a long time waiting to see a nurse; but once I was in there, I realized why.  They have to enter all your insurance information into the computer.  
As the congenial nurse was doing all this, I said, "I'll bet you spend more time messing with insurance stuff than you do actually doctoring people."  
"You're right," she said.  "That's why I like my other jobs; I only work here on Friday mornings."  
"So, do you work in a doctor's office the rest of the time?"  
"I work at a doctor's office one day a week, and at the jail three days a week."  
Alrighty then.  
Anyhow, I told her I had a sinus infection.  She took my blood pressure, listened to my lungs, looked at my throat and in my ears, asked me some questions, agreed with my diagnosis, and sent my prescription to our local Walmart via the Internet; she also told me to get some Mucinex.  
Because I have Cliff's insurance and also Medicare plus, I didn't have to pay her anything.  That's nice.  
I think I'll live.

I'm getting one of these

It's a cane until you need a seat; then it's a chair.  I saw a couple of elderly ladies using these at a tractor show, and I've been wanting one ever since.  It would be a lifesaver.  
I cancelled my orthopedist appointment because I don't want to be down for the count through the best part of spring; I am going to wait until fall, perhaps October.  I can still sit on an upside-down bucket to pick green beans in the garden.  I definitely WILL see about getting it done in the fall, though.  In fact, I'll probably schedule an appointment for late July to talk to the doctor about it.  
I find the results of the poll on my sidebar about churches paying taxes quite enlightening:  It looks to me like the citizens of this country need to be allowed to vote on this issue.  
Cliff's going to take me to a Minute Clinic today so I can get some antibiotics to get rid of this sinusitis.  I'm tired of my face hurting, not to mention the sore throat.  I was going to see a nurse-practitioner at our doctor's office, but they couldn't take me until Monday.  
Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Old photos... Who'd have guessed?

The Beatles, 1957

David Bowie and Liz Taylor

Charles Manson

George Clooney

Jane Fonda


I just can't believe it.  It started happening in 2006, and I had all but forgotten about it.  
I get calls on my cell phone for the guy who previously had my number, Old Darryl.  
I first blogged about it HERE.  
I learned his last name HERE, and found out the cops were looking for him.  His last name is Wallicker or Walliker or Walicker... who knows how it's spelled?  I've tried googling him with every spelling I could think of with no success.
And then there was THIS TIME, when some so-called "friend" of his decided to get in touch with him after three years of his not having the same cell number.  
Today it was someone in India, judging by the accent, asking for Darryl and mispronouncing his last name badly.  
You know, the funny thing is that I was glad, after all this time, to be getting a call for old Darryl; I've kinda missed him.


I like some of the things about Cliff's four-day, ten-hours-a-day work-weeks.  I like the fact that we have three-day weekends to go on motorcycle trips to St. Louis or Arkansas.  
But I hate it that Cliff gets home at 3 A.M., because at least half the time I wake up when he comes in.  He's quiet as a mouse, doesn't turn the lights on; he does all he can do to keep from waking me.  It just doesn't work.  
When I entered middle age I began having trouble sleeping through the night.  Oh, I have no problem initially going to sleep when I hit the sack (usually before 10 P.M.); I'm out almost as soon as my head hits the pillow.  But I wake up two or three times during the night; sometimes I go back to sleep, sometimes not. With Cliff coming in at 3 o'clock in the morning, I guess it's so close to my internal clock's wakeup time that I just can't go back to sleep.  
I never allow myself to get out of bed until four, and once in awhile I do go back to sleep.  More often, though, thoughts will come into my head that only make me more wakeful.  
This morning, for instance, I started thinking about my scheduled appointment with the orthopedist Friday. After walking around that tractor show last Saturday, looking constantly for a place to sit down, I came home and made the appointment.  I was pretty darn sure I was ready for a new knee.  
But lying in bed wide awake at three o'clock, it suddenly occurred to me that the six to eight weeks I'd be recuperating would take place at one of my busiest and favorite times of the year:  Springtime.  Even if I were to get into the operating room next week, I'd be out of luck during March and April when it comes to gardening and motorcycle riding.  And believe me, with the winter we're going through, I need those activities badly.  
Of course, while I'm in bed wide awake pondering such problems, at some point I start thinking of coffee.  I try shoving the thought away, but it won't leave, and I almost salivate thinking how good my Eight-O'clock Coffee is going to taste.   I peek at the clock and see I still have a half-hour until I'm allowed to get out of bed, and I start pondering my grandchildren's affairs, wondering how any of them are going to survive in this messed-up world.  I shove that out of my head and start thinking of stupid things I've said and done in the past that I wish I could take back, even things from my childhood.    
I've talked to a lot of folks who have trouble sleeping through the night; it seems to be a common problem with women middle-aged and beyond.  At least I don't have to go to work all blurry-eyed any more.  I suppose that's the bright side.  
If I have several problem nights in a row, I will take an over-the-counter sleep aid, and that often gives me a decent night's sleep.  I don't take Tylenol P.M. like many folks do because I don't have pain... only sleeplessness,  And I don't take sleep aids often because I don't want to develop a dependence on them.  Besides, they leave me feeling rather groggy for a couple of hours the next day.   
So here I sit blathering away on the keyboard, trying to decide if I should cancel my appointment with the orthopedist, or if I should go ahead and consult her, perhaps telling her I want to wait until November to do anything major.  
I'm going to go get another cup of coffee while I'm figuring that out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do you know what these birds are?

I can't take pictures of them at the feeder because they detect movement at the window and leave, no matter how sneaky I try to be.  They're ungainly and ugly, and stay in a flock.  I took pictures of them on the fence and the satellite dish and cropped them.  If you recognize them, let me know.  They must be very common, as many of them as I see.  Click on the pictures to make them a little bigger.

Thanks to Penny, I believe these are cowbirds.  It seems their reputation is as ugly as their appearance.  Stupid bad birds, eating at my feeder.  Shoo!

Pioneer Woman on television again

Yes, Ree's off the ranch for a couple of days.  This morning she was on Fox and Friends; they only gave her about two minutes, but then they had a longer segment on the aftershow, which also shows her singing like Ethyl Merman.
Tomorrow she'll be on Good Morning America.  
I love seeing Ree Drummond; she's a natural for television.  
Click on the links if you want to watch either one.  
OK, here's a link that combines both videos.  Click HERE.

Just rambling, as usual

Seven or eight years ago (long before Cliff had heart surgery), I used to tell people that if Cliff left me a widow, I'd move to senior citizen's housing in Colorado Springs and live the rest of my life there.  Cliff's youngest sister couldn't believe I'd consider moving away from everybody like that, and I think she even worried about it sometimes.  I was dead serious about the plan.
At some point during the past few years, that idea has become unrealistic to me.  I'm too tired to even think about heading to Colorado.  I don't drive, so the chances of my taking daily walks in the Garden of the Gods are not good.  
As we took our walk yesterday, I told Cliff about my change in plans.  
"Probably," I told him, "I'd move to the apartments where my mom lived before she went to the nursing home.  There's a Walmart and a senior center close by, and my doctor's office is there."  
"You could have quite a good auction sale, if it's set up right," Cliff said.  "before you sell the place.  There's a lot of valuable stuff in my shop, not to mention all the tractors."  
That's when it struck me:  I couldn't live in the apartments where Mother lived; you can only have $2,000 to your name to live there.  I'd have proceeds from selling the place and proceeds from this huge auction Cliff is so worried about.  
"Oh, I know!  I'll live in a house like the one Helen rents (she's an aging former co-worker of Cliff's).  It's designed for seniors, and people come and pick her up and take her to the senior center every day.  So that's settled.  Now, what are you going to do if I die first?"  
"I don't think that's going to happen."  
"You don't know; I might be eaten up with cancer right now, or I might drop dead from a heart attack tomorrow."
"Well then," he said, "I guess I'd stay right here and play with my tractors as long as I'm able."  
I never thought I'd see the day I'd be having conversations like that with my husband.  
While we were walking and talking, we got a strong whiff of skunk odor.  
"That means spring is coming," I told Cliff.  "A biker friend on Facebook said skunk odor is a sure sign of spring!"   
You'd never know it today, though, with these single-digit temperatures.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grazing snow

Oops, I accidentally made the video at the bottom private; I've fixed that now.
The cows are allowed in an area where the horses can't go, a newly seeded grass field.  Horses nip grass off so close to the ground, they'd soon kill off all the vegetation; that's just how they are.
Cows can't graze so close because they have no front teeth on top.  They also don't chew their food:  they graze, swallow the grass whole, and go somewhere later to relax and regurgitate their food and chew at their leisure.  Of course, this is what we call "chewing cud".
Lately I've noticed that Bonnie and Sir Loin have been spending more time in that little field than they do at the hay-ring.  There's no nutrition in snow, but they had their heads down grazing all the time.  So I approached them to find out what was going on.
Closer investigation showed me that where they've walked, the snow has melted to the point where they can eat grass.  Here's a fifteen-second video of Bonnie eating grass; you'll have to agree she makes it look and sound quite yummy.

Planning meals

As we're eating one meal, I'm usually planning my next one.  Cliff thinks that's weird, but that's because he never had to prepare all the meals.  I've explained to him that some things take longer to cook, some things have to be thawed, and you can't just go into the kitchen half-an-hour before dinner and wonder, "What are we going to have for dinner?"
By the way, I notice over on Meesha's blog, both in his entry about the visit to California and in the comment section, that there are people who actually consider restaurants a big factor in where they live.  I guess it's because I've lived in the boonies most of my married life and cooked most of our food from scratch.  Somehow I just can't imagine that being a factor in where I reside.  Culture wouldn't enter into the picture, either.  We're not big on culture around here.  But I digress.
At least once a week we'll have salmon at dinner (our noonday meal) because it's supposed to be especially good for us; we buy it frozen in individual four-ounce servings.  I microwave a potato and fix broccoli or spinach, and viola, we have a quick, easy, and nutritious meal.  I can do that meal really fast, with a minimum of fuss.  
We have our low-fat chicken jambalaya and chicken gumbo often.  Either of those is a meal all by itself.  Both of the recipes require tomatoes, and so does the chili I make often in cold weather.  This is why I'm going to run out of my home-canned tomatoes within four to six weeks, and then I'll be buying canned tomatoes again until July when, hopefully, I'll have producing tomato plants.  
This rambling entry was all brought about by my trying to decide what to cook today.  I have some low-fat bran muffins in the oven for breakfast, but I'm not sure yet about dinner.  I'm leaning toward Tuna-noodle casserole with some sort of vegetable on the side.  For Cliff's work-lunch and my supper, there's just enough hamburger stew left for the two of us.

Good grief, how is it that we're getting any reception on our television?  There's about a quarter-inch of ice on everything.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Remember when cigarette ads were on television?

More doctors smoke Camels:

Lucky Strikes:

Lucky Strike means fine tobacco; it's toasted:

The longest winter ever

Cliff said yesterday that he's going to start selling his motorcycle in September and buying a new one in April, because we've only had one motorcycle ride since October, thanks to the weather.  You can see the resignation in people's faces, and hear it in their tone of voice: there's a feeling that winter is never going to end.  I've given up looking at the ten-day forecast because it doesn't seem to offer any hope these days.
 Oh sure, highs of 38 are a definite improvement; but that's almost March, for pete's sake!  Meanwhile, I read things like this on Fox 4's weather blog:
Remember last week we posted some information from Pleasant Hill concerning how this winter is are some quick updates as of 8PM...(KCI reporting 5.1" snow so far...a bit more is coming tonight)
14 days of 1" or more snow that has fallen...this ties a record...the other years were 1888-89 and 1911-12
This is now the 9th most snow in a snow season (Oct-June)
This is the most snow (35.5") since 1961-62
5.1" today is a new daily record
For METEOROLOGICAL WINTER (December-February) this is now the 2nd snowiest (53.3" in 1961-62 is the highest)
Totals for N KC through N MO are in the 6-10" range...with the highest being Gallatin @ 12"
We're tying and breaking records around here.  And it doesn't help that certain people in Georgia and Arizona (and now Oregon?) taunt us with their balmy weather.  
I must give the weather-guessers their due:  They've been very accurate with their forecasting this past year. 
Cliff and I agree that the older we get, the harder wintertime gets for us.  I wouldn't mind having perhaps a two-week break from this weather on a sunny beach somewhere, but it isn't going to happen.  I'll just keep holding out for springtime.  
By the way, I remember that snowy winter of '61-'62 that Fox 4 mentions.  I even have a picture or two.  Snow wasn't the only thing on the agenda that winter:  My mom had cancer and was told she was a goner (she wasn't, as it turned out), and I was getting ready to graduate that spring.  

Sunday, February 21, 2010

hamburger stew (or soup)

One autumn when I was working at the local orchard grading apples, one of my co-workers was Ruthanne Odell.  She was a fun person to talk to, and we talked every chance we got.  One day in the course of our conversation, she said, "I think I'll make hamburger stew tonight."
"What?  I've never heard of hamburger stew!"
"You've never made hamburger stew?  I'll bring some in a thermos tomorrow, and you can taste it."
It was very good, and I asked her what was in it and how she fixed it.  
"You brown some hamburger with onion; then you put in enough water for the stew and add carrots and potatoes.  And barley, but not too much, 'cause it's kinda slick-like if you use too much.  Then toward the end, add a little cabbage; I can't use as much as I'd like, 'cause my kids won't eat it if there's too much cabbage.  You can add celery if you got it." 
"No tomatoes?"
So I went home and created the first of many batches of hamburger stew.  It's really just vegetable-beef soup, using browned ground beef for the meat.  I experimented and found I wasn't afraid to use more barley.  After several years, I started adding some canned tomatoes, simply because I like to pack all the veggies into a dish as possible.  Vegetables are good for you!  
When available, I also add some okra... not too much, or you WILL have some slick soup.  
Every time I make hamburger stew, I think of Ruthanne, and remember how a simple conversation led to one of our favorite wintertime dishes around here.  
And it amazes me that I still remember that conversation with someone I haven't seen in thirty years.

Western Farm Show, part II

More things we saw at the Farm Show:
This is a New Holland tractor designed to look just a little bit like a very popular model from years ago, the Ford 8-N.
Here's what the 1949 model looked like.  Cliff and I think it's a great idea, introducing a Retro tractor in honor of a beloved old model.
Cliff tried on a John Deere for size...
and I tried on a different one.  Sorry about the blurring in some of these shots:  I couldn't use flash because it created a glare, and without the flash I got some blurring.
Cliff would love to have one of these; unfortunately, $10,000 for a lawn mower just isn't in our budget.
This is the chow line; we had a great barbecued-brisket sandwich.  Golden Ox was doing the cooking.
Looking down from the second floor into the hallway.
We saw a lot of BIG equipment.  
We got plenty of walking in, and got home long before the roads got slick from the sleet.  It was a good day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My latest poll

Over there on the top right, you'll see my latest poll:  Do you think religious groups should have to pay taxes?  
Now I'll tell you truthfully that if I could choose WHICH religious groups could be left out of paying taxes, I'd probably vote no.  Because don't we all think we know which religions are the right ones?  And of course, my church is better than your church.  (I assume everyone knows that is said tongue-in-cheek.)
But honestly, who can say without a doubt which church (or even which religion) is right?  
So I say churches, synagogues, mosques, Buddhist temples, and all other religious groups should, indeed, be taxed.  
That's just my humble opinion.

Western Farm Show

If you're looking for a farm show, you know you've arrived when you see this:

One group of people I did NOT expect to see at a farm show:  Nuns.
And they weren't just there to stand around and look pretty.  Oh no, they were checking out the farm equipment and picking up literature to take home with them.
There were lots of future farmers there, too.

These are some little Mennonite babies; there were lots of Mennonites at the farm show.
Isn't that a sweet child?  I think he's had his picture taken a few times before.  Notice the words on his shirt.  (You can click on the picture to make it bigger.)  

Friday, February 19, 2010


Cliff and I hardly ever begin a day without checking the weather, but today we wanted to get on the road and get to the Western Farm Show.  We were on I-70, only ten minutes away from our destination, when it started snowing a lot... huge snowflakes.  The temperature outside, according to our car, was 38.  If it didn't get colder, we'd be fine; but our Mercury is terrible on snow and ice, and we were scared.
"Let's see if we can hear the weather forecast on the radio," I said.
I never listen to regular radio, but it was almost the top of the hour; and back in the days when I listened to radios, they always gave weather near the top of the hour.
I guess that isn't true any more; we heard ten solid minutes of advertising and then twenty solid minutes of classic country music.  While we were waiting to hear the weather, Cliff turned back toward home.
"I'm not risking it," he said.
We got as far as Blue Springs and saw no snow falling.  "Oh look, it's stopped," I said.

"So, do you want me to turn back around?"
"Let's try it."
And we drove right back into a blizzard.
I know, I know.  We should have been able to figure out what would have happened.  I guess we'll just hit the show tomorrow or Sunday.  I'll bet we take the pickup, though.  Just in case of inclement weather.
So on our way home (the second time) we stopped to buy groceries and other necessities at the nearest little Walmart.  My list was small, and our purchases barely covered the bottom of the cart.
And the cost?  $76.
All right, so Cliff's hearing aid batteries were $13; and that giant package of toilet paper was $14.
Am I the only person who can't tell the difference between "extra soft" TP and "extra strong"?  None of it seems very strong to me.
While I'm ranting:  We've always bought Crest toothpaste.  Why can't we just walk in and pick up a tube of Crest without having to look over twenty varieties with different tastes and consistencies and strong points?  It's the same with Tide detergent; you have to spend ten minutes trying to figure out which one is right for you.  How many kinds of Tide are really necessary?  I'm sure when Cliff retires I'll be going back to store-brand detergent, but I really can tell a difference with Tide.  So for now, we'll fork out the big bucks for it.   
Seventy-six dollars indeed.  Hmph.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A brighter day

When we walked this morning, the sun was shining for a change.  When I went outside to turn the horses out a while ago a loudmouth songbird of some sort was singing beautifully in the coffee bean tree.  I could swear I smelled spring approaching.  The silly cold I had, in case you hadn't already guessed, is retreating, and I feel much better.  
Cliff and I have decided we'd better get passports if we're going to Montana, just in case we want to cross over into Canada.  We've never had passports in our lives, but I was able to find information that tells us what we need and what we must do.  Seems to me that for $100, it ought to be good for more than ten years, but what do I know.  
I haven't had anything remarkable happen today, so I'm hard-pressed for an entry.  We're thinking of going to the Western Farm Show in Kansas City tomorrow, so perhaps that will provide me with some blog fodder.  It's a shindig for real farmers (as opposed to pretend farmers like us), showcasing the latest agricultural machines and products.  Cliff enjoys seeing the new tractors and equipment, even though he could never use most of it and couldn't afford it anyway; and any time there's a crowd involved, I get to people-watch.  I hope I don't forget my camera.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I have a cold

It isn't a serious thing, there's no fever or chills.  Yesterday it began with a terribly sore throat.  Now, we women learn early on that we must pamper ourselves when we're under the weather, once we're grown, because nobody else likely will; and that's what I do.  Last night before going to bed, I applied Vicks over my neck and chest because that's what my mama did when I was a little girl; somehow just smelling that stuff, I can feel my mama's hands rubbing my back and my chest thoroughly, smearing me up like a greased pig; that was so comforting when I was a sick kid.  
I don't take decongestants because they make me feel worse than the cold.  Consequently, I woke up at 2 A.M. all stuffed up and never went back to sleep.  That's no big problem, since I don't have to do anything if I don't feel like it.  Except pamper myself.  
When I came to my computer this morning, I noticed something on AOL health about putting a lemon and a hunk of ginger root and some honey into a blender, mixing it, and then straining it.  I didn't do that, but I did mix some honey with some ReaLemon Lemon Juice, and then added a little ground ginger.  Whoa, that was so soothing to my throat!  You must all try it, next time you have a cold.   Later today I had a cup of green tea and added some of the honey-and-lemon mix to that; very tasty.
Today my cold is at the stage where water is running out of my nose at the most inconvenient times, so I'm carrying a box of tissues with me everywhere.  I skipped my walk today, much as Sadie hates it when I don't go with her and Cliff.  
I wanted comfort food, so I made meat loaf, mashed potatoes, cooked cabbage and Harvard beets; oh, there's nothing wrong with my appetite!  Funny thing, Cliff seemed to think he was the one being pampered; it's one of  his favorite meals.  But I made it especially for me.  The oldest grandson happened to show up right after we finished eating and polished off the potatoes and most of the meat loaf.  
So, what do you do to comfort yourself when you have a cold?  What makes you feel better?

By the way, I want to thank all of you for your comments, emails, and "smoke signals" letting me know you care about my loss of Blue.   You are such good people.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In remembrance

I originally said here that the Christmas tree ornament didn't have Blue's hair in it; I was wrong.  It's the pendant that doesn't have horsehair in the actual clay.  The ornament does.  And by the way, Cliff seemed pretty impressed upon seeing these things.  He pronounced them "pretty neat".
The day we bid goodbye to Blue, I happened to remember that somewhere on the Internet I had seen something about people who make horsehair pottery, using your horse's hair.  I thought of it in time to clip some hair from Blue's mane and save it.
I found several sites where such pottery was done, but I finally found my way to; I liked the idea of having a necklace with Blue's hair attached; I liked the idea of a Christmas tree ornament with Blue's name on it (no hair was used in the making of the pendant).  
I contacted Deborah, made arrangements, and send a check.  As soon as she received it, she got started on the work.  
You can click on the picture to make it larger.  I really doubt if I ever wear the necklace; I'll more likely hang in on a nail, along with the little slogan my friend Ora sent me, some time back.  None of my times in the saddle were wasted.

See the horse on the necklace?

Blue's name is on the bottom of the pottery.
Deborah returned the unused horsehair, and I put in a baggie and put it inside the pottery; I also put Blue's registration papers in there.
Now you may be like Cliff, and think this is just plain morbid; but I like having something created in Blue's memory.
Ora, your little gift fits in perfectly.

This is one of my favorite videos made looking between Blue's ears, and it really seems appropriate now.

Morning roll call

I don't suppose I'm the only senior citizen who, upon awakening each morning, proceeds with a roll call of her body parts to find out how they're going to perform that day.  
The knees receive attention the minute I get out of bed and start to walk.  This morning, after several days of pretty bad pain, they didn't have much to say; I guess I'll forget about the call I had planned to make to my orthopedist.
  Taking my daily walk in the snow has not been easy on those poor knees; you're probably thinking, "So, why are you walking?"
As long as I can limp along, I will walk; it's good for body and spirit to get outside and move each day, even if the weather isn't great.  Worst case scenario, I will wear my knees out to the point where I'll get knee replacements.   
This morning's roll call received feedback from a normally non-complaining member, my throat; it was raw and burning.  Cliff has managed to pass his cold along to me, the first cold I've had in two years.  After gargling with warm salt water and taking a couple of Arthritis-strength Tylenol, I believe I'll make it through the day.  
All other body parts seem to be present and accounted for with no feedback, so I'll call it a good day.  
Our Dish satellite receiver began throwing fits on us just before Superbowl Sunday.  It would suddenly lose signal, reboot itself (I know that isn't the term, but you know what I mean) and start working again after ten or fifteen minutes.  It did this once a day, at different times of day, for three days.  I called Dish after the second incident and was told I'd have to call while it was actually happening.  Next day, it happened and I called:  I was put on hold for ten minutes, and by the time someone got to me, the problem was over.  The fellow talked to me awhile and asked various questions, finally deciding to send us a new receiver, for which we'll pay the postage.  
I let the box set on the couch for three days after it came, and finally decided yesterday to tackle it.  I couldn't make heads or tails of the instructions, so I called for assistance after hooking up all the wires.  With the tech guy's help, I got the receiver and remotes working.  
Afterward, though, Cliff and I noticed that the picture doesn't cover the full screen of the TV; there's a black area on all sides of the picture.  What's up with that?  I'm sure I could call and get help with it, but I think I'll just wait till our next-door neighbor's day off; he installs Dish systems for a living.  
Oh, and after I talked to Dish and they said they would send a new receiver?  The problem we were having never happened again.  I'd probably have been better off just sending them back their new receiver and keeping the one I had.
I hate trying to figure out technical stuff; it stresses me out.  
Oh, by the way:  Eight O'Clock Coffee still tested best in a Consumer Reports taste test.  Yes, they even beat out Starbucks.  

Monday, February 15, 2010

Everybody talks about the weather...

This winter has been terrible.  I have never been so sedentary for so long a stretch.  Yesterday the Fox 4 weatherman said that in the average January and February, we have twenty-four days when the temperature gets above fifty; this year, we've had only two such days.  
Those brief, warmer spells are the times Cliff and I normally bundle up and go for a motorcycle ride.  It's those times that get us through the winters and keep our spirits up.  The motorcycle hasn't been out of the garage in months.  In fact, I believe late November was the last time we rode.
I certainly hope this year isn't setting some sort of trend for the upcoming winters.  
So, we surf the Internet.  Cliff plans the work he'll do on his Oliver tractor, I plan my next garden.  We discuss possible vacation plans, and weekend trips we hope to take this summer.  
Regarding yesterday's entry about Blue:  I finally understand what people mean when they talk about "closure".  In composing that entry, I realized that I hadn't allowed myself to grieve properly.  Sharing my thoughts with the world brought my feelings to the surface, feelings I was keeping buried.  Indeed,  it gave me closure, as painful as it was.  I thank you for all your kind words.  

Sunday, February 14, 2010


This is an entry I really don't want to do; I've put it off for a month waiting for the right time, but really there is no right time to tell you that my horse Blue is dead. He's been such a big part of this blog that I feel I owe it to my readers to let you know.
Now, I could make up any kind of a story, and only my immediate family members would know the truth, but I'm just not wired that way. I wish I could tell you that Blue's demise couldn't be helped, but that would be a lie; I simply didn't pay enough attention to details. I told Cliff yesterday that my lack of vigilance these days makes me wonder if I even deserve to own a dog.
On a recent Sunday, Cliff put Blue down for me. That was not the only option we had, but it was the only one that made sense to us. Blue was suffering, We don't have an endless supply of money, and our facilities are less than ideal. Perhaps people who don't have the funds to do everything perfectly shouldn't be allowed to own horses.
Blue was indeed my dream horse. He babysat this old lady through many adventures, and I'm thankful for every day I had with him, and for all the pictures and videos I have of him.
There will be no more horses for me; Adam still keeps his horses here, and I interact with them every day, giving them treats and turning them in and out. So I will still be posting pictures of horses occasionally in my blog.
Please don't ask questions about this, and try not to judge me too harshly. I'll still mention Blue sometimes, because I treasure his memory and I want to remember him.
Rest in peace, Blue.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cliff's new laptop

So yes, we got Cliff a new laptop; the five-year-old Toshiba didn't have much memory and had gotten slow as molasses in January.  The new Dell (not a high-end model) arrived today.
I put all Cliff's favorites on it and he began surfing.  He agreed that it's faster, and the pictures are sharper on it.  
Then he needed assistance logging onto his gmail account, so I helped him.  Upon logging in, I saw all these old emails he's read already.  
"Cliff," I said, "Why do you have all these emails here that you've already looked at?"
"Oh hell," he said, "They're funny.  I like to look at them again."  
"But they're cluttering things up," I said.  
"No, I want to keep them; they're funny."
Alrighty then.  Let's leave twenty already-read emails there.
He's come a long way in the past year, but he has a lot to learn.  The tabbed browsing still throws him for a loop.  
And sometimes he wants me to move something, or fix something, that's impossible.  
Don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of him.  I'm the woman who has to ask her daughter to figure out how to use a digital picture frame.  
Getting old ain't for sissies.

Girls' Day Out

I spent a most enjoyable afternoon with my daughter and granddaughters.  We had soup and salad at Olive Garden, then did some shopping at Sam's Club; they still don't have my almonds.  And no, the four of us didn't have any wine; the waiter (who the girls deemed as "cute") hadn't removed the wine glasses yet.

Then we went by the dreaded Blue Springs Walmart; I was going to stay in the car because that place runs my blood pressure up, but I decided to risk it; things turned out fairly well there.  
Cliff and I seldom buy Valentine cards or gifts for one another, but since we were there anyway, I considered it.  Until I saw the crowd in the Valentine card aisle, that is.

Does everybody wait till the last minute?

I squeezed up amongst them briefly and looked at a few Valentines, only to realize that none of the verses and lines on those cards sounded like anything I'd say, even the joke ones.    
Thanks, Rachel and granddaughters, for a fun outing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hoping Cliff's ticker continues to do well

I don't think much about Cliff's four-way heart bypass surgery, these days; it will be four years in April since he underwent the procedure.  He works four days a week; he enjoys life.  Except for the trip to the doctor every three months, our lives are just like they were before.  
And then I saw that President Clinton was admitted to a hospital with chest pains and had stents put in the following day.  
I started googling to see just how long it had been since he had his four-way heart bypass, because... should this be happening to him?  Might it happen to Cliff?  
A doctor at Johns Hopkins said, "It's not all that unusual six years out from bypass surgery to require such a procedure."
I was quite happy not thinking about such things.  I quit looking up the survival statistics long ago.  
Thanks a lot, Mr. Clinton.  Now I'm depressed.  
Maybe this will keep us on track with our diet.  
Cliff's younger sister called the other day, concerned by my occasional mention of a "bucket list".
She asked, "Is there something you're not telling me?"    
Yeah, I'm sixty-five years old!  But I thought she knew that.    
There's a feeling we have that there isn't that much time to do things we want to do; especially concerning the Gold Wing, because we both know that if we live for another ten years, we'll probably be giving the motorcycle up.  
And of course, financial considerations will eventually stop a lot of the fun things we do now.  Cliff won't always be able to hold down a job.
So there you have it, Charlene.  That's why we have a bucket list.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


We went to Sam's Club today for the specific purpose of getting almonds; for years I've bought a great big bag of them there for around $10.  When I'm eating right, it really helps me out to have whole, unsalted almonds around.  Believe it or not, I can nibble on a quarter-cup of almonds for over a half-hour. 
Today, all they had in the big bags were sliced almonds.  This happens a lot at Sam's Club: a product I absolutely love and have purchased for years is suddenly gone.  
On the way in, I had noticed some big plastic jars of almonds, so I went to check those out.  OK, the almonds are salted, but they'll be fine for munching, I thought.  And then I caught sight of something I had never heard of before:  Chocolate almonds. 
And what's more, the sign beside them said they had the same number of calories as regular almonds.  I checked the label.
OK, I'm always ready to try a new product.  I got one jar of regular, salted almonds, and one of the chocolate ones.  Back in the car, I opened the jar of chocolate almonds, tasted one, and fell instantly, insanely in love.  I gave Cliff one, and he, too, was smitten.
I'm not so sure I'll be able to hold my consumption to nibbling a quarter-cup a day, but I'll give it my best effort.  

Things I remember about my one-room schoolhouse days

I remember my first day of school; when Mother and I arrived, there was only the teacher and another mom with her little boy, Carroll; they suggested the boy and I go play on the teeter-totter; I don't think either of us really wanted to.
At some point in my first year of school, I decided at first recess to slide down the teeter-totter as though it were a slide.  This turned out to be one of my worst ideas ever, since I picked up what felt like dozens of splinters in my buttocks, and I could do nothing but sit on the source of my pain all day long.  As soon as I got home that day, I told Mama what happened; she had me lay face-down on the couch while she removed the splinters one by one.  What a relief!
I remember, on bad-weather days, playing "Upset the fruit basket".  I loved that game.  Do children ever play that any more?  
There was a sandbox-table in the front of the schoolroom on the right; if we got our assignments done, we could go there and play quietly.  A little boy and I were playing there, and I just couldn't stop whispering to him; Mrs. Eighmy tapped me on the head with her pencil to shush me, and it broke my heart.  I loved my teacher.  
I remember us students singing "Who Can See The Wind" and "This is My Father's World".  
I recall a Christmas program where we sang, "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth".  We used licorice-flavored gum to cover our two front teeth so it would look like we had lost them.  
I used to walk home from school when the weather was good; I have no idea how far it was, probably a mile or so.  My mother warned me to never accept a ride from anybody because some murderer she heard of had lured a little girl into his car, cut her in pieces, and thrown her body parts out the window of his car, one piece at a time, as he drove.  So when the father of one of my schoolmates offered me a ride home, you can bet I refused!   
My mother had all kinds of horror stories to fit any occasion.  Like the one about some little kid that swallowed too much chewing gum and had to be taken to a hospital where they operated to remove the big ball of gum from his stomach; or the lady who bit her fingernails and swallowed the bits of nail she chewed off, and they lodged in her appendix and cause appendicitis.  
I remember taking bread-and-butter sandwiches as my school lunch, and Mother explaining to the teacher that we had other things to eat, but that's the only kind of sandwich I liked.  Mother didn't want anybody thinking she didn't feed her child properly.   
And that's todays walk down memory lane.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I love taking a walk in the snow

I love walking in the snow.  I like how the world is all sparkly and clean when snow is on the ground.

I love how the woods looks altogether different when snow is on the ground.

I love the way the shadows of trees fall across the path upon which I walk.  I love seeing my footprints in the snow.

Life is good.

John Prine said it best

People who are sad - sometimes they wear a frown
And people who are kings - sometimes they wear a crown
But all the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down

People without love - sometimes build a fence around
The garden up above - that makes the whole world go 'round
But all the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down

So cold, sometimes it gets so cold

You may love your wife - you may lose your family
You may lose you mind - just to keep your sanity
But the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down

People that are glad - sometimes they wear a smile
And people without dreams they walk the extra mile
But all the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people dwn
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down

Skinner School

The only reason I have pictures of Skinner School is that the magazine supplement that came with the Des Moines Register had an article about the school.  I've often shared the pictures contained in the article, but it occurred to me that my readers might like to see the articles.  Just click on them to make them large enough to read (I hope).  That's me in the bottom picture, second from the back on the right-hand side.