Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I get advice

But sometimes I REALLY get advice.  A former co-worker, John, is a woodworker and does restoration work, and he told me step-by-step what to do.  I'm going to share it with you:
It's not hopeless, but it will be a little bit of work. Here's my opinion (for what it's worth.) DO NOT have it dip stripped! It will ruin it. They dip it in hot water and caustic solution which swells the wood. Then when it drys out it shrinks and warps further and cracks. Plus it will stain the wood black around the nails worse than what it already has. You cant' remove the black stains. It's true you can scrape the FLAT parts but be sure to take a file or something and slightly round off the corners of the scraper blade. Otherwise they will dig in and leave gouges that can't be removed. You can't scrape the lid because it's so warped it would gouge really badly. Take a hammer and nail set to the nails before you start so the scraper doesn't dig into them.
After you are tired of scraping, get some nitrile gloves and a qt. of KUTZIT stripper. Go OUTSIDE and apply it with an old brush. Do one side at a time. Remove it in about 20 minutes with med/coarse steel wool. Dip some 0000 steel wool in ACETONE and remove the remaining gunk. Do this again with acetone and a cotton rag like a town up bath towel. Make sure you do the inside of the lid if it has varnish on it. It probably doesn't judging by the way it warped. Sand the carcase all down till you are happy with the way it looks. Don't do the lid yet.
I would remove the legs and the nails holding them on and just make a rectangular base to lift it off the floor a few inches. You can cut a pleasing design in it pretty easily. It should be smaller than the outside by an inch of 1 1/4" all the way around. After you are done with the carcase you will fasten it from the inside bottom using a countersink bit and wood screws.
The lid has absorbed moisture on the inside, causing it to swell and warp. That's why it's important to varnish both sides of it. So now you can try to flatten it or have it sawed in strips and rejoined flat. If you want to try to flatten it try this on the lid next. It should probably be off already for ease of stripping the carcase. After it is stripped lay it in the blazing sun with the convex side up (inside) and let the sun pull the moisture out of it. The grass should be putting moisture in the other side. Bring it in at night and do this for a few days until the lid has warped the other way a little. This does not always work but it's worth a try. Screw three cleats to the inside to help hold it flat. Make sure they are short enough not to interfere with the lid closing. You can probably live with the crack in the lid and it will be part of it's history of being rescued from a barn. A latch on the lid would be worth considering as it would help hold the lid flat also.  
 It looks like a big job. But, break it down into smaller jobs. (1) lid and leg removal, and tightening up nails.( 2 ) scraping and stripping, (3) lid work. (4) make a base. (5) sand and stain and varnish. (6) Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Yes I do commision work but I have to work it into the other stuff I'm trying to do now. Here's another thought, it probably would be nice to have handles on it to help move it around. They would need to be rustic and match the latch !  

A little bit of work?  Sheesh.  I'm going to see how much it would cost to have a professional do it.  Yes, I know it wouldn't be necessary to "do it right", but John has given me a desire to see this thing done up the way he describes.

Lonely bird

The neighbors buy an assortment of poultry every spring and, one by one, varmints kill them.  Last years flock was no exception, but two guinea hens lived to see another spring.  Unfortunately, something has happened to one of those:  she might be somewhere setting on some infertile eggs, but my guess is that an opossum or raccoon got her (I do hope I don't get accused of killing her, as happened with an old rooster belonging to these folks).  
I've had guineas of my own in the past, and I know they are notoriously noisy.  However, as I remember, the ones I had did shut up once in awhile.  I don't know if it's just because she's lonely and looking for a friend, or whether I've simply forgotten how much they squawk.  I was really surprised when I got up at 5 AM and heard her out there in the dark with her constant "per-TWEET, per-TWEET".  If you've never been around guineas, here's a very short video that will let you hear her noise.  I need to check out my camera; lately my videos have not been up to snuff, and I'm wondering if I've accidentally changed a setting. Anyway, you can hear it just fine.  It's still being processed at present, but it ought to be available soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

OK, something is going on with the comments

There are seven comments on the last entry; it tells me there are seven when I'm looking at the entry.  When I click to go to look at them now, however, there are only two.  If you left a comment on that entry, rest assured I read it, because I receive comments in my email as I get them.  I don't know what's up with Blogger, but I'm sure they'll eventually get it straightened out.  

Help! Advice and thoughts, please

I have a walnut chest made by my grandfather, who died before I was born.  He made it for my mom to use as her "hope chest", so I would imagine he made it around 1930 or before.  When Mother passed it on to me, it wasn't in such great shape, and it's definitely gone downhill since it came into my possession.  At one point I decided to get it out of the barn (yes, the barn... somebody just slap the snot out of me, would you?) and take off the varnish with varnish remover.  This only added insult to injury.  

The lid is warped, but I could live with that.  It's just that there is SO much wrong with it!  I'm going to put some pictures on here to show just how bad off it is; they're the kind of pictures you can click on to make larger.  I am not a very patient person, but I could probably manage, over time, to sand the varnish off the outside.  I'd have to pay someone, I imagine, to do something with the legs.  Cliff thinks my mom was probably the one who put those big nails through the bottom to hold on a leg, and completely missed the leg (second picture down).  I imagine it would cost more than I want to pay to hire someone to take on the whole project.  Maybe I'd be better off having somebody craft something out of the wood, I don't know.  
When I was small, this chest sat at the end of my parents' bed; I believe Mother stored her sheets in it.  
Without any further ado, I'll put the pictures on here and wait to hear what my readers think.  

This shows where the lid is cracked at one end.  

Here are the infamous nails that missed their mark.

This little wheelie thing is hanging by a thread. 

The grandson's house

Before Cliff got started messing around with the Oliver yesterday, we went to our little town to take a saw to the oldest grandson.  He's renting-to-own a house there, and he has quite a cleanup job ahead of him.  
The place sat idle for several years, and there are fallen limbs everywhere.  A neighbor told Arick yesterday that everyone around had been piling their limbs in that yard for a long time, which explains how many there were.  

The house is old, and the boy has his work cut out for him.  There's an old cistern in the yard that must be either filled, covered, or fenced around.  Trees need to be trimmed.  The house has a new roof, so that's one thing Arick won't have to worry about.  He had a lawyer check the contract before he moved in, and everything is on the up-and-up.  We feel the price is right:  it's less than you'd pay for some new high-end vehicles these days.  

This was the first of several loads of limbs Arick hauled out to our ditch.  
I seriously envy him the celler inside his basement.  The house is on a nice, quiet street across the road from a "Missouri Century Farm".  
Here's hoping it all works out for our grandson.  It won't truly be his until he becomes the owner.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oliver 1855 update

This winter has not been a good one for working on old tractors.  Cliff's been itching to start painting some of the parts of his Ollie ever since he bought her, but it was not to be; we just couldn't get a break from the cold, rain, and humidity.  Today, finally, he got a perfect day for painting.  It started out cool, but warmed up rapidly.  The wind wasn't a problem, for once.  

This is the gas tank, which did not get painted today; once Cliff got it sand-blasted, he found a couple of tiny leaks that will need to be fixed.  

The parts were hung with care in front of the shop. 

Cliff once had a scary incident as the result of breathing paint fumes, so he's careful now to keep his home-made breathing device in place.  

Here he's moving a big ole tire back inside, after painting the wheel.  The whole thing outweighs him by a lot, and it makes me nervous to watch him moving it around.  
I convinced Cliff to take a vacation day today so he wouldn't be crowded for time.  He only works until midnight each night this week, since everybody has Good Friday off.  We might even get a motorcycle ride in before the big winds come in Wednesday.  

In my yard

This past winter was really hard on my English Boxwood bushes.  I first thought they were dying, but thanks to Mr. Google, I learned that this problem is called "bronzing"; it seems it won't actually kill the bushes, but the damaged parts will have to be trimmed off.  I'm waiting to see some new foliage come in before I start trimming.  These will certainly be some naked-looking shrubs for awhile, if I'm going to trim all those parts off.  There's a spray that, when applied in November and January, helps protect the bushes from bronzing.  Live and learn.
I've been finding lots of surprises in my yard lately:  I ordered some bulbs last spring that weren't to be delivered until planting time in the fall; in August, totally forgetting about my spring order, I sent for more.  So when all those bulbs arrived on the same day, I worked myself silly digging here, there and everywhere to plant them.  If it weren't for the strawberries along the sidewalk, I'd have had lots of room for flowers.  As it is now, I put crocuses along fences and sidewalks, and tulips amid the strawberries, and daffodils everywhere.  There's never any real order to my flower-planting, but this year I've outdone myself with the helter-skelter planting.  
So after a long, miserable winter, although I remembered that miserable day of digging and planting (oh, my knees), I didn't remember where I put which bulbs.  Now I'm having a wonderful time on my morning walkabouts in the yard discovering all these plants!  I've even found daffodils in places I don't recall putting them.  See, getting old isn't so bad; you forget things you've planted and are pleasantly surprised when you find them.  
As much fun as it is discovering all these flowers about to bloom, I will no longer order tulip bulbs in the spring.  That should fix my double-ordering problem.  I'm even going so far as to toss all catalogs from Breck's into the trash without giving them so much as a glance.  Because I'm afraid the temptation would be too much.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How do you catch a hard-to-catch horse?

Dave asked the question in the comment section of my previous entry.  What Adam finally did after the horses were getting a little tired of the game was to go get a bucket of feed.  Why he didn't do that at the beginning, I don't know.  Before he bought Sassy, Tude wasn't so hard to catch; but Sassy is a troublemaker (I have a name for her, but it isn't a very nice name), and when she takes off, Tude follows.  If you watched the video, Sassy is the half-Arabian who holds her tail up in such a fancy way and tosses her lovely head while running, as if she thinks she's the queen of the world.  
Cliff and I just happened to be out when Adam pulled up or he'd have had to chase the horses over forty acres; Cliff hollered at me, "Shut the gate to the lot," and I got it closed in time to shut them in.  
In summer when their bellies are full of grass, they can't be caught even with a feed bucket.  Adam only lives a couple of miles from here, and if I were him I'd come out without the trailer, put them in the small pen where we feed the cows, or in the stall, and then go home and get the trailer.    
The Internet is loaded with advice on how to train horses not to run away when you approach them, which proves it's a common problem.  My first horse ran when she saw a bridle or halter in my hands, and I always had to catch her with a bucket of feed.    
When I first bought Blue, he hadn't been ridden for a long time, and he'd run if he saw me coming at him with a halter.  I took to sitting in a lawn chair in his pen, reading a book and ignoring him.  Once I got him to the point where I could put the halter on him, I'd lead him to the yard to graze.  This was a treat, since he was in a dry lot with no grass.  If we hadn't taken that dry lot out when we brought the trailer house in, Blue would still be alive and well, by the way.  But I digress.  
Later on when he and I were well-acquainted with one another, if he started to trot away, I'd make a hissing sound and twirl the lead rope toward him to make him keep running.  Blue was slightly lazy, and after a very short time he'd get tired of the game; it was no fun to run if it was somebody else's idea.  Eventually he got to the point where if he even took one step away when I was approaching, all I'd have to do was hiss and he'd stop in his tracks.  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I was going to do an entry

Honestly, this weather (rain and cold weather every weekend) doesn't contribute to my mood; and when my mood is glum, it's hard to come up with a blog post.
However, I will report to my readers some things I've learned about gardening in the last couple of years.

I guess I could blame Cliff for this mistake, since it was his idea.  But I thought it was a good one and went along with it.  There's this area between the sidewalk and the rock-covered area in front of our house that Cliff thought would be an excellent place to plant strawberries.
Wrong.  The strawberries have sent runners up onto the rocks.  They need a lot more room than this space allows them.  I'll move some of the plants to the garden area this year, and destroy the rest so I can plant flowers there.
Another lesson I inadvertently learned was this:  Don't plant butternut squash plants near your strawberry bed.  The strawberries in the garden were in the right location; unfortunately, those rampant squash vines almost killed them all.
Strawberry lesson #3, which my daddy told me about years ago, but I thought I could do better:  Don't waste your time on ever-bearing or day-neutral strawberries.  Sure, they'll bear throughout the summer; but you'll be lucky to get a bowlful at one picking.  
This is what my garden area looked like yesterday before I tilled part of it and planted some things.  Just so you know.
I posted a video to Youtube this morning that could have been great:  Adam, who has two horses pastured here, was going to load them up and take them for their yearly vaccinations.  His horses are glad to see him most of the time, but when he brings the trailer, they are always afraid they're going to be put to work.  So they run from him.
Unfortunately, the video is not really that clear.  Also, another warning:  if you don't like bluegrass music, turn your sound off.  With that said, if you are not faint of heart and have a good imagination, feel free to watch a video of hard-to-catch horses.  
Oh, and the buckskin horse in the background?  That's our next-door neighbor's mare; she is pastured on our property, but she's in a different pen.  She enjoyed the chase as much as the other horses.  One more thing:  the dog joining in the chase is not mine; he's Adam's dog.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A gardening day

I've spent most of today outside.  It was cool enough that I needed a jacket most of the time, and quite windy.  But I sure enjoyed myself.  
Early in the day, I pulled weeds from around some flowers.  It was 32 degrees at the time.   
Right after noon I decided to see if the soil was dry enough to till; it was a little wetter than I'd have liked, but since rain is supposed to come tomorrow I decided to plant a few things anyway:  Alaska peas, sugar peas, lettuce, beets, radishes, and onions.  None of these should be hurt by a freeze.  
I'm worn out, but it's exciting to have some seeds in the ground.  I didn't plant potatoes because I'm holding out for Good Friday; here's hoping it's dry enough at that time to plant them.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Sadie and I went to the pasture after the sun came out this afternoon.  I saw Bonnie chewing her cud, so I lay down on my belly practically right in her face to watch.  Then I decided to let you guys watch too.  Unfortunately, I kept cutting her ears off in the video; but you can see she is definitely enjoying her little chew.

An alternative to bottled water

I first read about hydration bottles on the Oregon guy's blog.  Being from Missouri, I have to be shown; so I didn't order the high-priced bottle.  I figured it would probably leak, like all the other water bottles I've purchased.
Then last August at a family reunion, I noticed my cousin and her husband were carrying such bottles with them.  Here was my chance to find out in person what sort of product this was.  Of course my number one question was, "Do those things leak when they turn over?"
They assured me they don't.
"Where did you get them," I asked.
"Have you ever heard of Flylady?"
Well of course, who hasn't.  Marvin and Pauline had purchased their water bottles from the Flyshop.  The next day I ordered such a bottle for myself, even though Flylady charges $10 for shipping.  I was sold!

It doesn't leak.  It doesn't sweat.  The water inside stays cold for hours.  I LOVE this bottle, and it goes almost everywhere with me.

You can take the whole top off and put ice cubes in it.  My only complaint is that it holds just sixteen ounces, which isn't enough to suit me.  
I've been meaning to order another one for Cliff, and now that motorcycle-riding season is upon us, I figured I'd better get on the ball.  I went to Guy's blog this morning and searched, trying to find out where he got his bottle; I'm fairly certain his holds more.  I finally gave up on that search and went to, where I found what I was looking for:  A bottle that holds twenty-six ounces!
Yes, it's expensive.  But hey, how much money would Cliff and I be spending on plastic bottles of water along the way when we're out on the motorcycle?  It really makes me angry to think about paying for water, since there's nothing special about bottled water.  Some studies have even indicated that the plastic bottles put undesirable chemicals in water contained in them.  

I'm adding this to tell you that I should have looked harder on Guy's blog:  His is 26-ounce, and he got it at Home Depot for half the price I'm paying.   I tried to cancel my Amazon order, but it was too late.  That's what I get for being so impulsive.  

Television, cell phones, and modern-day mysteries

The poll on my sidebar was closed, and so I removed it.  Cable was preferred by nineteen people; if we were in the city, that would likely be our choice.  Out here, though, cable leaves something to be desired.  Fifteen people preferred Direct TV, seven liked Dish, four liked their antennae, and three didn't care for television at all.  The only surprise to me is how many more people preferred Direct TV over Dish; I'm wondering if my son stacked the deck on that one; Direct TV puts food on his table.  Honestly, I've had both and can't see a big difference in the two.  
Cliff has had a cell phone for four or five years.  In all that time, he hasn't found one he really cares for:  His pet peeve has been with all the buttons on the outside of the phone.  He carries his phone in his pocket, and the simple act of putting it in the pocket can turn off the ringer.  The only cell phone he was halfway satisfied with was a Razr, and it bit the dust in less than a year.  
We even went to the T-Mobile store and asked about a phone that didn't have all the buttons on the outside.  The guy showed us one, and we came home and ordered it.  Even with volumes turned all the way up, Cliff couldn't hear people he was talking to (he's very hard of hearing), and he couldn't hear the ringer most of the time.  So we switched phones.  I've hated the thing the whole time, but I don't use my cell phone much.  
Finally the time came when we could get a new phone without paying an arm and a leg.  
  It has no buttons on the outside.  It's unbelievably thin.  It's loud.  
I believe we finally found a phone Cliff likes!  And although I have my own cell phone back now, I'm thinking about getting one just like it.  
We are so far back in the dark ages, we'll never use the camera, the radio, or the MP3 player on this phone.  But that's OK.  We like it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The first concert I ever attended

On Facebook, there's this thing going around:  

"FIRST CONCERT YOU ATTENDED! Everyone please play! You may find it interesting to know what your FB friends first concert was. Copy & paste this on your profile, then put your First Concert at the end of this sentence:"  

I find things like this interesting: I notice the different type answers among various age groups.  
I thought hard, and finally decided my first concert was Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, around 1972.  We took our two small children with us and, as I recall, they were well-behaved for a three- and five-year-old; but then, both of them enjoyed music.  
So that's the concert I posted in my Facebook status.  
Later it occurred to me that wasn't my very first concert.  No, that would be Peter, Paul and Mary performing at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.  I was single and went alone, riding the bus to get there and taking a taxi home.  Odetta opened for them.  
It was sometime around 1964, I suppose.  
I'm not changing my Facebook status though; because really, who cares, and what does it matter?  
Do you remember the first concert you attended? 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A barefoot walk

Cliff and I had to go after one of his prescriptions this morning; which didn't leave us sufficient time to take our walk by the time I fixed dinner and we ate.  After he went to work, I dug a pair of shorts out of a drawer (yes, SHORTS!) and Sadie and I headed out; I decided to walk barefoot.  Oh, it's a fine day here in Missouri.  

Adam's horses haven't been back begging hay at the barn since they left the pen, early this morning.

Bonnie and Sir Loin have stayed out in the big pasture all day, too.  Notice the grass hanging from Bonnie's mouth.  

At almost nine months of age, Sir Loin could be weaned.  Probably should be.  But once he's weaned, I either have to let Bonnie go dry or milk her every day.  I'm really not ready to do either.  When the time comes, we'll either take him to Cliff's brother's place long enough for him to forget his mother's milk, or else haul him straight to the butcher shop.  I'd really like to bring him back here and use him as a heat detecter so I'll know when his mom is in heat; once we called the AI man, we'd take Sir to the butcher.  

   There's still snow in the shady, wooded areas.  

I walked barefoot through a small patch.  Just because it was there.  

Then, back at the house, I walked barefoot through the snow to clean the mud off my feet.  
I'm glad I got out and enjoyed today, because tomorrow's high temperatures aren't supposed to get out of the forties.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's true! Spring is here!

I don't remember what all I planted last fall, but I think this must be a crocus; please correct me if I'm wrong.  The snow melted and there it was, a bright spot in a soggy yard.  It's such a tiny little thing, it's a wonder I didn't miss it completely.  

The tulips have all emerged; I hope they wait to bloom until April, when my friend Joanna is here.  
The temperature is 52 at 4 P.M., so I took my baby tomato plants out for a walk and left them in the sun for awhile.  They'll get another breath of fresh air tomorrow, when it's supposed to get up into the sixties.   Maybe they won't look so pale after some sunshine.

Another Craigslist sale

I mentioned a while back that I sold my old Circle Y saddle on Craigslist; because it was a very popular brand, it sold quickly in spite of its age.  At the same time I listed my grandson's saddle:  it has no brand on it, but it's a comfortable, usable saddle.  He thought he remembered giving $125 for it at an auction, so I priced it at $150.  More than once in my life, I've been on the lookout for a saddle to go on whatever horse I had purchased, and been unable to find anything affordable.  If a saddle is serviceable, it ought to be worth at least $150.  
I got a few scam emails ("there's no need to sell your saddle... blah blah blah"), and some sort of automated phone calls asking if I'd take $100.  These made me angry, so I raised the price to $175.  I moved the ad to the top a few times with no genuine interest being shown.  
Last week a guy called from Kansas; his girl friend goes to school and works, but he wondered if they could come and look at it.  He said perhaps they could make it Sunday; he'd call if they were going to come.  
I dismissed the call because, after all, who is going to travel seventy miles to look at a cheap used saddle?  He did call back, though.  He and his girl friend looked it over, she sat on it to see if it was comfortable, and they bought it.  They had come so far, I let them have it for the original price of $150.  I also threw in some "Wipe", which keeps flies off horses while you're riding, and a couple of saddle pads.  They were happy, and so was the grandson when I told him to come and get his money.  
I still have an assortment of bridles, halters, whips, and bits that I may bundle together to sell, one of these days.  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

If only I had taken pictures

Last fall Cliff offered to plow my garden, and I turned him down; I think I had some harebrained experiment in mind that would not have required plowing.  After letting the idea hibernate all winter, I decided it wasn't a good one and told Cliff I wanted my garden plowed after all.  
When the spring thaw came, the garden area turned into a quagmire for a couple of weeks.  Then we started getting rain every other day.  Cliff was willing to plow, but the ground needed to dry out a lot.  I'd watch the forecast, knowing that all we needed was four or five days with no rain: our sandy soil drains really fast.  But the rains kept coming.  Thursday, after getting home from our motorcycle ride, Cliff suggested it might be possible to plow; the only way to find out was to hook up to a plow and try it.  
He took the little John Deere (I used to call it the Jap Deere because it was made in Japan, but some people felt that was a racist expression) and hooked up to a plow the size of Texas.  Oh yes, he had high hopes.  He managed to make it about fifteen feet before the little tractor spun out.  In its defense, it doesn't have the proper tires for such work; turf tires were never meant to bite into the dirt.  If I'd had my camera, you would have loved the video of this scene, which was reminiscent of "the little engine that could".  But that's rather like a fisherman telling about the one that got away, isn't it?    
I helped Cliff unhook the plow, which he left in the garden while he went after a bigger tractor:  Since the big Oliver is in an eternal state of being restored, he chose our brother-in-law's Mahindra, which was definitely up to the task.  
A big tractor in a small garden is pretty tricky, especially if there are trees and a fence at one end and a strawberry bed at the other.  I stood by, letting Cliff know when to raise the plow each time he approached the strawberries, and in less than ten minutes, the plowing was done.  
When we first went out to do the plowing, I had suggested Cliff make the garden six feet wider.  As I stood there watching the dirt turn over, though, I remembered how much it taxed my knees last year to try and keep up with the gardening and told him to forget the expansion.  
The garden is presently covered by six inches of snow.  But at least when the weather is right, I can get out there with the tiller.  Cliff's job is done.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Healthcare reform? Yeah, right

My Kansas City Russian friend has a different perspective from most of us, having grown up in the Soviet Union.  And you know what?  I'm starting to pay more attention to what he has to say.
Click HERE to see what he thinks about the health care reform we're being handed.  
Other than local school bond issues, I may not be voting any more.  What does it really matter?

Patrick's Saturday Six

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment at Patrick's Place, or put the answers in an entry on your journal…but either way, leave a link to your journal at Patrick's Place so that everyone else can visit! Permission is not granted to copy the questions to message boards for the purpose of having members answer and play along there. Enjoy!
1. Which was the first childhood story you remember being told to you by your parents or grandparents?  Do "Old King Cole", "Jack Spratt", and "Jack Be Nimble" count?  Because the first stories I recall my parents relating to me were Mother Goose rhymes.  
2. Which was the first childhood story you remember being read to you by your parents or grandparents?  A little Golden Book called "Cookie" about a dog who loved cookies.  I found a copy of it online a few years back, so I have the book again; I now realize it's actually poorly written, even for a children's book.  I think what I loved about it was the descriptions of cookies, which made me want some.  I liked "Little Black Sambo" because it made me want pancakes when the tiger turned into pancake syrup.
3. Which was the first novel you remember reading for your own pleasure, not for a class assignment?  Heidi
4. Which was the first novel you remember reading that really pulled you into the story?  Heidi; I could almost taste the cheese and bread that Grandfather made!  Do you see a pattern here?  I loved food!
You Are Alice

You are curious, brave, and inquisitive. You can't help but be interested in the world around you.

You are a bit of a loner and a total daydreamer. Your inner world is very colorful and vivid.

At times, your real life seems dull and completely unbearable. You wish you could escape to a whole other world.

While you have a wild spirit, you are quite gentle and polite. You tend to observe more than act - and you tread lightly.

6. Which childhood story would you most enjoy telling to your kids?  My favorite story to tell all little children is "The Three Little Pigs", doing silly voices for all the characters.

The Adrian swap meet

Yesterday was another nice day; normally we would have gone to Adrian on the motorcycle, but the weatherman was sure a change in the weather was on its way.  We did not want to be out on the Gold Wing when the temperatures took a plunge.  
The slide show pictures various items for sale at the swap meet.  Cliff only bought a couple of tools.  
   We ended up making it a full day of country-style shopping:  We drove through every tractor sales place we passed, starting with Cook Tractor in Clinton.  We stopped at a little store south of Warrensburg that specializes in Carhartt clothing, because Cliff could use a new coat.  Unfortunately, this place had higher prices than the local farm stores.  We stopped at Kleinschmidts near Higginsville, where I got myself another pair of Muck Boots... short ones for walking in the dew this year.  They were $50, as opposed to the almost $100 I spent for my winter boots.  Obviously, I am a Muck Boot convert.  I think Cliff is too.  
Oh, and today, the first day of spring?  

Here's what my house looks like this morning.

Friday, March 19, 2010

We sneaked in a motorcycle ride

Yesterday we had sunshine and temperatures in the sixties; the weatherman was saying that today things go sour and it will start to rain.  Tomorrow we might get four to six inches of snow.  With that in mind, Cliff took the day off work and cleaned up the motorcycle a little; shortly after noon we were off, headed to Scott's Bargain Barn in Excelsior Springs.  
I had tossed together our typical hobo lunch:  two cans of sardines, some Hi Ho crackers, carrot sticks, yogurt for me, an apple for Cliff, and a couple of 100 Calorie bags of cookies.  Even at sixty degrees, we were a little chilled from the ride, so we didn't touch the Diet Coke I had packed in ice and taken along.  
 I feel sorry for people who don't enjoy picnics.

The picnic table looked like somebody had been walking on it, so Cliff went back to the bike to get a plastic tablecloth we carry with us. 
Because of the nice weather, a lot of parents had brought their preschool kids to climb on the playground equipment.  I didn't get a good picture of them because I was afraid if I got too close and they saw a stranger taking pictures of their babies, they might think I was some kind of weirdo.  And honestly, looking at this next photo, I couldn't have blamed them. 

After we were done eating, we left the shelter so we could sit in the sun, and I decided to take a picture of the two of us by holding the camera at arms length and shooting.  I almost didn't share this because I look so silly, but then I thought, "My blogger buddies have seen me look silly before."

Cliff really enjoyed his after-lunch coffee in the sunshine.  

It's time for us to get the license for our motorcycle renewed, so we stopped in Lexington and got it inspected.  We also got a footlong cold-cut combo at Subway to share for supper.  
And now I say, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Things I love about the blogging universe

I can interact with people who aren't in my socio-economic class, and they accept me, at least online.  In real life, I'd never have the chance to chat with people in the advertising industry, or in various forms of television production.  
I'd never have gotten to correspond with the wife of one of the richest farmers in the United States and been able to see she's as down-to-earth as anybody in my little world.  
I wouldn't have had the chance to form online friendships with some fellows who happen to be gay who have shown me that they're not so different from the rest of us.  
Never would I have been able to laugh at the humor of a Catholic nun, or to feel like I was best buds with an atheist in Oregon.  
Oh, and the nurses.  Who knew nurses could be so funny?  But when I think about it, how could you survive being a nurse if you didn't have a sense of humor?  
I can't fail to mention the cop in Arizona who makes me laugh on a regular basis.
Then there are those Internet friends who have things in common with me:  bikers and farmers and a former Amish lady who knows how to milk a Jersey cow, and fundamentalist Christians and people barely getting by one day at a time, living hand-to-mouth.    
I can't help but love people who embrace what we have in common and accept our differences.  
They aren't usually angry: see, I have a problem with angry people:  they always have a way of making me feel they're angry at ME. 
I thank God for the diversity of my Internet friends, those who don't judge me, who accept me as I am.  So I happily accept all of you, and I choose not to judge you.  
You guys ROCK.

When I call my cows, they come running

An excellent entry for you to read

I read the blogs of two ladies who have inflammatory breast cancer.  If you had to choose some type of cancer to have, this would not be one you'd choose, because from what I've seen, you are never pronounced "cured", even if you live twenty years after it's found in your body.  
Susan had some bad results recently and is going for a biopsy today.  
Her entry today in her blog is one of the best I've ever read online.  It isn't funny; it isn't really sad; it just makes me think, and re-arrange priorities a bit.  
Click HERE.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

With a little help from my friends (and relatives)

The grandson didn't find it easy to take the back off my phone, but he got it done.  It just doesn't come off easily.  Oh, and it doesn't slide; it has to be pulled off.  I fed the boy a grilled cheese sandwich and some Sun Chips, and sent a quart of frozen chili home with him; that's all the payment he got.  
This afternoon my cousin Betty called.  She lives not far away, but we hadn't talked in awhile.  She had a problem:  Her computer wanted to do a Windows update this morning, so she clicked to allow that.  Then her screen went blank.  She figured since I know my way around the Internet, I might have a solution.  
After I was done rolling on the floor laughing, I told her that when I have a problem like that, I take my computer to Radio Shack and they fix it for around $100.  Hey, it's cheaper than a new computer.  
We visited awhile, and got back on the subject of her computer.  
"Say," I said, "have you turned it off?"  
"How can I do that?" she answered.  
Oh yeah, without the screen working, how would you go to start, shut down... etc.  
"Well," I said, "I guess you'd have to shut it down by pushing the button you use to turn it on; I know that isn't the best way, but sometimes you have to.  Be sure to hold it down for a few seconds."  
"Oh," she exclaimed, "everything turned off!"  
"OK, now turn it back on."  
Would you believe her computer worked, once it was on again?  
I feel like SUCH a geek.  I'm the woman who goes crawling to her daughter whimpering, with the slightest little computer problem.  
But I did learn one thing in my first year on the Internet:  If all else fails, reboot.  It's my mantra.  I repeated it to Betty several times before we hung up.

Why can't I figure out a cell phone?

I can't get the battery cover off!  The instructions look simple enough, don't they?  
It says "press the release button on the top of your phone and lift the cover away."  
There's the button, and when I press, it gives; but I can't BUDGE that battery cover.  The picture would seem to indicate the battery cover slides down, while the instructions say to "lift" it.  I've tried both methods to no avail. 
One of these days I'm just going to give up on cell phones.    
My grandson is going to stop by on his way home tonight and help me out.  

A new poll on my sidebar

I was getting ready to leave DISH TV today and go to Direct TV.  I had already signed up and scheduled the installation.  In the nick of time, I realized I might still have time left on my contract with Dish, and called them.  Sure enough, if I leave them before February, I pay a penalty.  So I called Direct TV and they cancelled my order.  
The one thing I was really excited about was streaming video.  I watch Dog Whisperer on my computer, and it would be great if I could watch it on my television instead; Cliff could even watch it with me.  
When I called Dish, the lady said they will have a receiver that allows streaming video in a few weeks.  Unfortunately, the cost will likely be more than I want to pay; it was going to be free when I signed with Direct TV.  
Dish did give me HBO and Showtime free for three months, so I got something out of the deal.  
I'd love for my readers to participate in my latest poll, up there on my sidebar.  Cable out here in the country is pretty bad, so that isn't a viable option for me.  We do get good antenna reception, and one day when streaming video is easier to obtain, we might even go back to using an antenna.  When Cliff finally retires, we'll be using an antenna for sure.  We'll be cutting back on a lot of things at that point.
By the way, did you notice I finally took the snowy picture off the header of my blog?  The picture on there now may not be beautiful, but it's what I see when I step out my back door.  And I was really sick of looking at the snow.

Do you shop at Whole Foods?

Then watch this video.

My songwriting "career"

One thing that was on my mind in 1981 was getting some of my songs published.  I was briefly a member of a group called "Kansas City Songwriters" in 1980, and performed a couple of songs I had written at a show put on by the group.  A local publisher named Frank Fara (Comstock Records) approached me, wondering if I'd be interested in having him as my publisher.  You can imagine my enthusiasm, because SOMEBODY WANTED MY SONGS!   
It was an exciting time, seeing those 45 RPM records with my name on them as the songwriter.  When I received my first royalty check in 1981 for $62, I didn't know whether to frame it or spend it.  Given our financial situation, I cashed it and spent it.  
My songwriting career went downhill from there; I received other royalty checks, but they were progressively smaller.  Frank Fara, I finally figured out, was just looking for songs to entice no-talent locals into signing contracts with him; they paid him big money to take them to Nashville and record, when they could have cut out the middleman and done it on their own.  A google search tells me he's doing his thing in Arizona now.  

  I still have those 45 RPM records of the songs I've written, five different songs.  I look at them and recall how excited I was to be a published songwriter.
I coulda had class; I coulda been a contender.  I coulda been somebody.  
I was disappointed for a few years that nothing came of those efforts, but these days?  Not so much.  It's been a good life, and I didn't have to move to Nashville to find happiness.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And then there was 1981

I haven't gone all the way through the 1981 diary, but one notable event occurred in the early part of the year:  I bought our twelve-year-old daughter her first bra.  
When I began looking at this particular volume of my life, I was confused for awhile at random things I had jotted down at the ends of various entries that had nothing to do with what I had written.  Things like "The sky's the limit" or "Good things will happen".  Or I'd mention "a vague, uneasy feeling".  No, I wasn't doing drugs or drinking.  
I finally recalled what was going on with me that year: I was testing to see if my feelings on a certain day were some sort of intuition.  I'd mention if I felt a vague uneasiness, or if I felt on top of the world, or if I had a good feeling about something.  It was a test.  And by the way, intuition flunked the test; after that year, I never put such nonsense in my diaries again.
Not to say I haven't had moments of intuitive feelings, but they have been rare.  
The most memorable was this:  My mom was living out here in the mobile home; I went with her to the doctor, and she complained to him that her legs hurt.  He gave her a prescription which we filled, and we came back home.  
A few days after that, she started feeling really bad and vomiting.  She could hardly get out of bed, and didn't want to eat.  So we took her to the hospital, where they kept her to run some tests.  They finally came up with congestive heart failure as the culprit.
I'd call her in the morning after breakfast and she would sound downright perky; breakfast was delicious and she felt much better.  When I'd call later in the day, she was sick and vomiting again.  This went on for a couple of days, and still, the only thing the doctor came up with was congestive heart failure... for which she did indeed have symptoms.  
After the third day of this, I went to bed that night, lay there puzzling over the situation for a while, and fell fast asleep.  
In the middle of the night (I will never forget this), I woke from a sound sleep and sat bolt upright, knowing what was wrong with my mom.  She had started feeling ill in the days after her doctor prescribed that new medicine!  If she was being given that med after breakfast at the hospital, that would explain why she felt better each morning and then got worse after breakfast.  
Next morning I called the doctor's office, but he wasn't in.  I told whoever it was on the phone about my suspicions, but I could tell she didn't take me seriously.  I called the hospital and spoke with the nurses who were taking care of my mom there, asking them to relay my ideas to the doctor or have him call me.  Nobody really seemed to believe me, but somewhere along the line, the doctor took Mother off that medicine.  She was home the next day, and never had any signs of congestive heart failure again.  The doctor, once he saw I wasn't going to pitch a fit or threaten to sue him, admitted I had been right about the problem, and said to make sure nobody ever prescribed that particular remedy for my mother again.  
I've always felt it was the hand of God that woke me up that night and told me what the problem was, because I woke up just knowing.  
Ever since that time, when Cliff or I don't feel well, I ask myself if it could have something to do with a prescription.  That's why it didn't take me long, last summer, to figure out that my chronic cough was being caused by my new blood pressure medicine; I stopped taking it and the cough was gone.  When Cliff was first out of the hospital after open heart surgery and was experiencing dizziness, I'm the one who figured out he was on too many blood pressure medications, took his blood pressure, and called the cardiologist's office.  The doctor had him stop taking one of his pills.    

Highlights from 1983

I spent a little more time looking through the old 1983 diary, and here are some highlights: 

I weighed 145 in January, 156 in February, and 161 on April 6.  Yes, I've always been a yoyo with my weight.
My dog Suzie died in January.
Cliff went bowling every Wednesday night during the early part of the year.
I had a Jersey cow and her heifer calf.
We were spending less than $50 a week at the grocery store, for a family of four.
I was walking 6 miles a day, sometimes 8, until we moved back here.  Then it was 3 1/2 miles a day.  No wonder my knees are shot.
For Valentine's Day, my son gave me a carnation and my daughter gave me a little box of chocolates.
The final episode of MASH aired on TV.
We got 4 inches of snow on March 20
We ate at Duffs often.  That's before the place got filthy and closed.  Are there still Duff's cafeterias in existence?  I think I know why my weight was ballooning.  As broke as we were, with Cliff working short weeks, how did we afford to eat out? These are things that make me go "hmmm".  "Poor people have poor ways," as my mother always said.
It snowed 4 inches on April 4, and I was griping about the weather a LOT.
On April 9, my son went to a Billy Squire concert.
Cliff's boss at the butcher shop told him, “I know you're not happy with how things are, but that's how it's going to be. We lost $30,000 last year.” Cliff was often working less than forty hours a week.
April 15, record low temp of 26.  I was still griping about the weather.  Some things never change.
I thought propane was high at 72.9 cents a gallon.
Son Jim flunked his first driving test.  Why?  Because he was driving over the speed limit.
Rachel spent a lot of time in 4H with her friend Kim.  In fact, it appears Chapmans may as well have adopted my daughter, she was at their house so much.
Jim passed his driver's test, May 31.
My parents moved back to Oak Grove from Branson when we moved back to this place.
I babysat two neighbor kids once we moved back; both of them are "friends" on Facebook now.
1983 was the first year I worked at the apple orchard, thanks to neighbor Bonita talking me into it.
Cliff started working at RB Rice, which raised our standard of living considerably.  I'm glad we didn't know then that it would only be three years until they moved to Tennessee.  

There were many notations about my cow and heifer being in heat, when they were bred, and when they were due to calve.  Reading these old diary entries reminds me how we were living "by the skin of our teeth".  It also makes me wonder how much better off we would have been if I had gotten a driver's license so I could have helped out by getting a job.  
"It's but little good we'll do watering last year's crops."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Check out this baby boy jammin'

Just click HERE.  Amazing.

25 years of dot com.

Twenty-five years ago today, the first dot-com Internet domain was registered.  It certainly didn't make a ripple in my world; I was probably more concerned about my son's impending graduation.  In fact, the Internet didn't mean a thing to me until 1998, when we bought our first computer.  
I have no idea how the Internet works.  How is it that I can type words onto a computer monitor that, with the touch of a key, are out there at that very second for the whole world to see (OK, 150 people, but who's counting)?  There's no wire transferring the words.  The words are stored somewhere, but how?  Where?  You can't touch them or see them as pages filed in a storage box.  It's all invisible.
It's possible to instant-message somebody on the other side of the world and have a conversation in real time.  Incredible.
We can do a Google search (or in my case, a Swagbucks search) and get information about any subject; of course, we must sort through it all and decide which information is from the proper source.  
When I'm sick, I can hunt up my symptoms and have some idea what might possibly be wrong with me before I head to the doctor.  I've learned, though, to never mention to my doctor that I looked something up on the Internet.  He'll say with a groan, "Oh yes, the INTERNET," as though it's his number one nemesis.    
The World Wide Web will forever be a mystery to me.  More than that, a miracle.  When I was a kid, I remember wishing I could make myself invisible; now I can, because you're reading my thoughts here, but you don't see me, do you?  I'm invisible!  
I'd love to tell you I don't believe in the Internet because, after all, I can't touch it or see it or feel it.  Surely it doesn't exist.  How can it be?  It isn't logical.  Common sense tells me something like this is impossible.  I wonder if anybody has ever published a book explaining why the Internet isn't real.  If such a book existed, I'm sure somebody would buy it and believe it.  I can imagine the slogans they'd come up with:  "The Internet is the Opiate of the People," for example.  
But just like certain other invisible forces in my life, I know the Internet is real because I see the results of its existence every day.  When I speak to it, I get the answers I'm looking for (always making sure the answers are coming from the proper source, of course). 

Who Has Seen the Wind?
Neither I nor you. 
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?  
Neither you nor I,  
But when the trees bow down their heads, 
The wind is passing by.

Christina Rossetti

Old diaries

I'm working on starting a private blog where I can vent about a few things that would get me in trouble here; it'll be mainly for some relatives and perhaps a very few longtime AOL friends; it really isn't anything that would interest most of my readers.
I wanted to get a time frame on certain happenings I want to discuss in that blog, and went looking through old diaries; turns out they were no help, since I had stopped journaling before the events for which I was looking occurred.  But I did find some stuff that took me back in time; so I got lost in the eighties for a while.
For several years I would make an annual purchase of a rather fancy daybook to use as my diary.  By the time I glued photos and stuck clippings in them, they weren't so fancy any more.  But they were what I wrote in during my most intense record-keeping period, and they are the ones I usually peruse most frequently because they're the ones with the pictures and clippings.  

I used odds-and-ends books as diaries before I discovered the fancy ones; since these aren't fancy, and don't have room for clippings and pictures, I seldom look through them.  This morning, though, I opened up the 1983 one.  Wow, what a year.  
For two-and-a-half years, we had rented out our old house here and lived near Oak Grove, closer to Cliff's job at the butcher shop.  In 1983 we moved back home; Cliff wasn't happy away from this place, so when the renters moved out that spring, we returned.  
1983 was the only year my son played high school football, and there was quite a bit of mention about his training.  My daughter didn't seem to stay home much back then:  she was always spending the night with one friend or another.      
The thing that really shocked me was that I complained about Cliff's attitude at times.  In later diaries, I was pretty careful (most of the time) to keep negative stuff about my husband to a minimum.  Why?  Because I knew some day I would die, and if Cliff read complaints I had penned about him, it would hurt his feelings.  
I'm not talking about anything major.  He was in a difficult place with his job at that time, and of course his discontent with work spread over to his family.  He hated living at Oak Grove, so that didn't help things either.  Actually, my griping on those pages comes across more as pathetic whining.  
So I looked at these mildly negative statements I'd written down for posterity and asked myself, "Should I tear out pages like this?  Or should I take whiteout to them?  Should I perhaps throw away the whole diary?"  
No, I won't do any of those things.  I'll remind Cliff here, in this public journal, that in 1983 I was still manifesting PMS regularly.  I'll tell him we all have bad days and bad years.  
So, Cliff, remember this if you ever read these old diaries.  I've always loved you.  I know if you'd been keeping a diary, you would have had many occasions to gripe about my behavior.  This goes for any other relatives, also.  My daughter was once reading an old journal of mine and found a petty gripe I had written about a relative I love dearly.  To all who may read my diaries after I'm gone, don't feel bad if I once wrote something negative about you.  I'm not even that person any more.   Remember, too, that those writings were originally meant for my eyes only. 
As Ree would say, "I'm just keepin' it real."

I want to garden

This is as far as my garden has gotten so far; there's a mixture of plants on the left that includes broccoli and cabbage.  On the right are my tomatoes.  Above those trays you get a glimpse of the seed potatoes I've cut up so the pieces can "heal over" before I plant them.  There are Yukon Gold and Kennebec potatoes.  I'd love to be able to plant some of them on St. Patrick's Day.
Cliff hasn't been able to plow my garden due to frequent rains.  We have sandy soil that drains quickly, and if only we could get three days straight with no rain, plowing would be possible.  
Meanwhile, I move those two trays of seedlings to the east bedroom before I go to bed, where they'll get plenty of morning sun.  Once Cliff is awake each day, I move them next to the two windows in my bedroom, which face south.  So far, that's the extent of my gardening this year.