Monday, May 31, 2010


When we went to the concert Friday, we arrived ahead of time; there were some things going on outside Sprint Center that we figured might be of interest, and I was provided with some excellent people-watching opportunities.  Now I'll admit I don't get out much, and I'm as far from being a fashion diva as one can get.  But I noticed something I consider a travesty:  Women wearing cowboy boots with dresses, skirts, and shorts.  

Seriously, doesn't something seem to be wrong with this picture?  Notice the girl in the yellow top looking at me, wondering, "Why is the old lady in jeans and a T-shirt taking our picture?" 

Same boots, different angle.  Come on, people, cowboy boots are made to slip easily into the stirrups of a saddle.  Yes, there are dress boots you can wear when you go out to dance.  But with a dress?  When did this crazy trend start?


Now, what sort of socks do you wear inside those boots?  Tall ones?  Short ones?  Panty hose?  

I imagine all my readers are thinking I'm hopelessly out of touch; I know I am not one to comment on fashion trends, but this just seems so WRONG!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How Cliff is spending his holiday weekend

Cliff did not plan to put up any hay this year, because haying interferes with our motorcycle time.  Haying has to be done on a weekend when it's sunny and dry:  that's perfect motorcycle-riding weather.  We were going to have Adam buy hay for his horses and store it in our barn, and I'd feed it out for him; we'd buy hay for our cow(s).  
Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, we've had record rainfall totals this year, and the grass has gone wild.  It has to be mowed.  The newly seeded pasture is so rank that even if Cliff cut it with the brush hog, the cut grass would kill out new growth.  
So, on this perfect weekend when we could have taken a road trip, Cliff is haying.  
Friday he mowed.  I didn't get any pictures of that, for some reason.  

Yesterday, he raked.  I used one of the raking pictures for my new header.  That Farmall H he's using was a restoration project one winter; grandson Arick, around ten years old at the time, worked side by side with his grandpa.  Cliff had Arick's name put on it, and when he dies or moves to town, that tractor is Arick's.  Cliff tries to use it occasionally, since it isn't good for any old equipment to sit idle all the time.  (After seeing these pictures, I think I finally removed that fingerprint on the lens my son told me about days ago.)  

Today he's bailing, using the Mahindra tractor that we're taking care of for the brother-in-law who moved to St. Louis.  Cliff is an equal opportunity tractor-user.  He's gotten rid of a lot of his collection, though.  Last weekend he sold the John Deere 520 on Craigslist.  

Cliff bought the old round baler for $500; new ones cost thousands.  We could buy a lifetime supply of hay for less than the price of a new baler.  There is a different kind of cost, though, to using aged farm machinery.  

Every time a bale is done, Cliff has to stop the tractor, climb off, get up on the baler, and help it tie the baler twine around the hay bale:  Every. Single. Time.  Cliff's tried to make it work properly, but it just won't do it by itself the way it's supposed to.  At times like these, I realize it's a good thing we only have a little over forty acres, with only about fifteen of it in grass.    
So, how's YOUR weekend going?  Are you getting any motorcycle riding in?  Never mind, don't tell me.

Iris rested in the shade of a big bale of hay while Cliff toiled.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Iris had steak for dinner

One of the first articles I found online about whippets (Iris is half whippet) is that they counter-surf.  We saw evidence of this the first day we brought her home and left her on the back porch for a couple of hours; we returned home and found out she'd gotten on our chest-type deep freeze to look out the window and knocked the curtains down.  
She has been coming along so nicely that I let my guard down today, not even thinking.  I was only going to go to the hay field to see how Cliff was doing with his hay-raking; because it was so hot outside, I left Iris in the cool house.  On the counter was a brisket in cry-o-vac and two steaks I had laid out to thaw, one of them wrapped in plastic wrap.  
When I walked in the back door I saw the steak that was plastic-wrapped lying on the floor, still wrapped.  The other steak was gone, with not so much as a blood-stain for evidence.  I started giving Iris a lecture, and she, of course, acted very guilty.  After an hour or so I started speaking to her again.  
Lesson learned.  The articles I've read indicate that it's virtually impossible to stop this behavior, so I must remember that if there's no human in the house and we want to leave Iris, she will have to be put in her dog taxi or else be shut in my bathroom.   
It's actually her only flaw so far, except for her health problems... which seem to be on the mend now, by the way.  I think when there's no person in the house, she jumps up to look out the windows due to her separation anxiety.  This time she ran smack-dab into a steak.  Cliff tells me that when I leave her inside with him and go outside, she worries the whole time, running from one window to another until I return. 
On the plus side, the article I read said it's virtually impossible to keep whippets off the furniture; I haven't seen Iris on the furniture since the first week we had her.  When she has the run of the house at night, she either sleeps near our bed or in Cliff's bathroom.  Or in his bathtub if it's storming.  And of course, we don't leave her inside alone when we go someplace; we put her in her pen in the barn.  So the furniture problem is resolved. 

Donna goes to a country music concert

When I paid for tickets for Green Day so my granddaughter, Monica, could see her idols, I don't think her sister Natalie was into Green Day.  If she was, she certainly didn't make it known.  I told her at the time to pick her concert and I'd see that she got to see somebody she cared about; I'd get tickets for me, the granddaughter, and someone to be our taxi driver (in this case, my daughter.)  Cliff foots the bill for the tickets; I simply do the online buying.  Cliff is big-hearted like that.  Plus, he figures if I find a way to go to a crowded concert without his having to go, it's worth $70 a ticket.

Natalie's first choice to see in a live performance was Taylor Swift, but all her concerts have sold out before I could get tickets; the last one, I'm told, sold out in thirteen minutes.  And after last night, I'm glad.

Oh, the two opening acts weren't my cup of tea; they confirmed my belief that country isn't county any more.  Their bands were more rock than country.  And since I'm not familiar with their songs, I couldn't make out most of what they were singing.

The first guy was Justin Moore, who did one song I rather liked... Small Town, USA.  The video actually sounds VERY country, but at the concert his band sounded like rock to me.  I guess my main problem was that I couldn't make out the words.  Words are very important to me.

The next opening act was another guy I'd never heard of, Darius Rucker.  My daughter thought I surely recalled Hootie and the Blowfish from her youth, but I didn't.  Anyhow, Darius is the artist formerly known as Hootie.  When a very handsome black man walked out on stage, I was surprised:  You don't see a lot of black country artists.  The man is quite talented, but his band is very "rockish" for my taste.  My favorite of the songs he sang?  "It Won't Be Like That For Long."  Boy, can I relate to that one.

Since I don't care for modern country, I don't listen to any of it on the radio.  After seeing Brad Paisley perform, I can see I've been throwing the baby out with the bathwater, with my attitude about modern country music.  He's actually such a big star that I was familiar with some of the songs he sang, I just never paid attention to who the artist was.  And I could understand his lyrics, all of them; even the songs I had never heard before.

Maybe this concert was worth Cliff's money after all.  I can't even describe all the special effects, but the most unbelievable thing was when Allison Krauss showed up on stage toward the end of the concert to sing a duet with Brad:  Wow, it was really her!  What an amazing voice.  The audience went wild, myself included... until the song was over and Allison literally went "poof".  It was a hologram; we'd been duped.  I briefly wondered if all the artists and bands we'd seen were holograms.  Actually, it was an amazing trick I'll never forget.

My favorite song that Brad sang was "Letter to Me", in which he writes a letter to his seventeen-year-old self.

Yeah, I'm sure glad we couldn't get those Taylor Swift tickets.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A change in vacation plans

I've wanted to visit Montana and Wyoming for a long time, specifically Glacier National Park.  Cliff wasn't thrilled with the prospect of traveling that far, since I don't drive and he'd be doing all that driving.  But the oldest grandson was ready, willing, and able to go along and be the second driver.  So we've been making plans to go.    
In the past few days, the grandson has had some job changes:  it's a promotion of sorts, but it means he doesn't get vacation time for a year.  So much for his being the relief driver.  

There's no way I'm going to subject Cliff to doing all the driving to go that far, when he wasn't so thrilled about the trip anyhow.  I've already told him that, and he said it's the best news he's heard all day.  I believe we'll stick our necks out and opt for a motorcycle ride to someplace closer:  possibly Colorado (which we both love), or maybe South Dakota.  Heck, even Arkansas would be nice.  We'll see.  

Maybe next year we'll make Glacier National Park.   

Ever run a red light?

If so, I hope the things that happen in this six-minute video never happened to you.  

A snotty update on Iris (don't read if you have a queasy stomach)

It cracks me up the way Iris flops down in this position to rest.

We got Iris at Wayside Waifs May 1.  She was doing quite a bit of coughing; I chalked it up to kennel cough and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  She's had such a horribly snotty nose that I've gone through a box of Kleenex and a roll of toilet paper wiping that nose.  She patiently allows me to wipe off the snot; if she has an extra big amount of it hanging from her nose, she will actually come to me and lay her head on my lap, as if to say, "Here, fix this, will you?"  
Because she was showing no improvement, we took her to the vet, who announced that Iris did not have kennel cough.  
"When they have that greenish-yellow snot, it's something else."  
I wish I had asked what the "something else" was.  I'm thinking it's canine influenza, but who knows.   
He sent me home with a ten-day supply of antibiotic pills; Iris took the last one yesterday: she still has coughing fits and her nose still runs, although not quite as much as it did as its worst.  
If Iris wakes up coughing at 3 A.M., obviously I wake up too.  She'd be fine having the run of the house while we sleep, but who wants snot all over the carpet?  So I've put her in the pet taxi beside my bed.  And been awakened often.  
Much as I hate to, I'm going to start putting her in the outside pen at night until she gets over whatever it is she has.   I've been sleep-deprived long enough.
Meanwhile, Iris doesn't seem to feel sick at all.  She eats from four to six cups of Science Diet daily; for a twenty-seven pound dog, I think that's amazing.  She brings toys to me, wanting to play.  She chases the frisbee until she's overcome by a coughing fit.  She goes walking with me and stays ahead of me, looking over her shoulder from time to time to make sure I'm coming.  
If you're wondering why I haven't taken her back to the vet, our budget has been stretched to the limit lately by dog expenses.  I would take her back to Wayside Waifs and ask for another dog in exchange, but I really love Iris.  If she ever gets over this crud, she is going to be a super-wonderful pet.  Actually, she already is.  Just a little snotty, that's all. 


I sent in my original census, only to receive a letter a few days ago telling me our address had been selected to take part in the American community survey.  Yesterday, I got the form in the mail and sat down to fill it out.  
There were questions about what type of home I'm living in, and some asking whether we had running water and an indoor bathroom.  They wanted to know the amount of property taxes we pay, which is really going to confuse them because so far, the county hasn't gotten around to assessing the trailer house and new garage.  The census bureau has my phone number, and I'm sure they'll be calling me.  
They wondered if I was white, and I answered in the affirmative.  Later on, they wanted to know my ancestry or ethnic origin.  
Why could that possibly matter?  Here's the thing:  I have no idea what my ethnic origin is.  So in that space, I simply wrote "white".  Of course I had to answer the same questions for Cliff, otherwise known as "person number one".   I don't know his ethnic origin, either.  
I am required by law to fill this thing out, and I've done it.  
We had a real gully-washer of a rain a couple days ago, the kind that often reveals Indian artifacts in plowed ground.  So, that's where I wander as I finish my daily walk. 

That biggest rock is just that, a rock; although somebody had to have carried it on the property, since this hill we live on consists of windblown soil.  Any rock you find here was brought here by somebody.  The next-biggest object is a piece of flint, which doesn't occur naturally in these parts.  It was no doubt brought here by Indians.  You can see I found plenty of flint chips, but only one almost-perfect arrowhead.

This is the tiniest arrowhead I've ever found; it must have been for shooting birds.  
Maybe I'll go look for more.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Bonnie has quite a belly on her nowadays, doesn't she?  If she had settled when we had her artificially inseminated, she'd be due to calve now.  Unfortunately, she didn't.  So we took her to visit Cliff's brother's Angus bull; it's still more than two months before she calves, and I can't help but be a little concerned.  I hope she's able to deliver the calf when the time comes.  In the old days, Angus was a breed that was pretty safe to cross with Jerseys; the little Angus-cross calves had a low birth weight and small heads.  They were pretty much the breed of choice if you wanted to breed your dairy cow to a beef animal.  
Unfortunately, back in the sixties and seventies, big became better.  Cliff was a butcher at the time, and he saw the carcasses he had to move from rail to rail almost double in size.  So Angus bulls are no safer to breed to a little Jersey than any other breed.    
Bonnie has been the perfect cow for me, and when something seems "too perfect", I tend to wonder how it could possibly last.  So I worry:  I worry about hardware disease, mastitis, milk fever, and calving problems.  In the past, I've lost cows to all these things.  Oh, mastitis normally won't kill them, but the other things do.
I intend to milk Bonnie for a couple more weeks and then dry her up so she can put all her energy into the calf that is developing inside her.  This means that Sir Loin's days are numbered; he will be going to the butcher shop up the road.  The timing is pretty good, since our last beef (his name was Meat Loaf) has been mostly consumed.  
Sir Loin has been a pleasure to have around, playful and funny.  He's been able to take care of his mom's milk almost from birth, so I haven't had to milk Bonnie if I didn't want to.  It's been a great relationship.    
I really would like one more cow as a companion for Bonnie.  I don't want one that has to be milked, but I'd like one that's as tame as she is.  If she were to have a heifer calf this time, that would be perfect.  Here's hoping.  Otherwise I'll have to go in search of that elusive heifer, one that doesn't cost over $300.  Heifers priced that low are hard to find.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yes, my dog DOES watch the Dog Whisperer

You can google yourself silly with "dogs watch TV" as the search words, and everybody tells you that dogs cannot make out either sounds or images on television.  Iris proved this theory wrong the first week I had her; I was watching Dog Whisperer, and she attacked my television.  Yes, she did.  It scared me, and I reprimanded her.
Tonight I put together several clips of her watching Cesar; you will see her watching closely, but she will no longer attack, because she knows she isn't supposed to do that.  Instead, she takes out her aggression on her toys.  I'm afraid I've given her some mental issues.
I've noticed that not only does she recognize dogs on TV, she now recognizes Cesar as well.  When he does that "SHHH...!" thing, she ducks.
Of course you think I'm hallucinating.  But my oldest grandson was here this evening, and he's my witness.  Ask him.
With no further ado, I give you the video of Iris watching The Dog Whisperer.

Well, here's one for the books

We're anticipating my son's annual visit, which is coming up in less than two weeks.  We like to select one day during his visit when we invite Cliff's brothers, nephews, and others who might want to see Jim and his family while they're here.  
Cliff's brother, Don, was asking which day that would be; he'd like to plan on being here.  So I looked at the calendar and then sent my son a message on Facebook:  "Let me know if this is right: you will be traveling here on Saturday, the sixth. So you should arrive here Saturday night. I'm trying to figure out the best time to get all the family together (Don and his kids, etc.). Best I can figure, it would be Sunday the 7th. Or else Saturday the 12th. What do you think?"  
This morning my son had answered me like this:  "By my calender the 6th is Sunday, and that's when we are heading up there. We both work on Saturday.  The following Saturday is probably best."  
I went to the kitchen to look at my big Flylady calendar.  I fell off the Flylady bandwagon long ago, but I do like her overpriced calendars; you can see the numbers clear across the room, and the older I get, the more I appreciate that.  
How could it be?  My calendar had that Saturday as the 6th.  I rubbed my eyes, checked the month and year, and decided my son was crazy.  I checked the calendar on my Mac, and lo and behold, the sixth was Sunday.  Now who's crazy?  
I finally figured out the problem.
Look at the date of Saturday, then look at Sunday.  There are two 6ths there.  No wonder I stopped following Flylady:  She can't be trusted!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The first refrigerator I recall

I got this picture online, obviously.  You can see it's not very tall, and in my memories of our GE refrigerator, I was far shorter than the top of the door.  I had to look way up high to see the round thing on the top.  I've searched online and found that this model was manufactured from 1927 to 1937; I was born in 1944, so obviously ours was getting on in years by the time I was old enough to form memories of it.  Although I read HERE that hundreds of them are still working.  Isn't that amazing?  

What started this particular walk down memory lane was a segment on today's CBS Sunday Morning (one of our favorite shows).  
I wonder who got our GE when we were done with it.  I imagine my mom wanted something more roomy, because that little thing couldn't have held much.  
Another memory is provoked when I think about that refrigerator:  Back then, margarine (we called it oleo), was white, and wrapped in cellophane.  There was a little yellow capsule included that you added to the white margarine; you kneaded it into the oleo until it was the same color as real butter.   Somehow this was supposed to protect the dairy industry, I believe.    
Cliff actually remembers the ice man coming, when he and his parents and siblings lived in "the Shirley apartments" in Kansas City; he remembers them putting the sign in the window when they needed ice.  The only ice box I recall is the one that sat in my grandma's front porch.  


We buy cheap vanilla ice cream, mainly to have around when grandkids want to make a shake; these are the gallon containers the ice cream comes in.  What am I going to do with all these strawberries?  I guess I'll freeze them.  The trouble is, they're only just getting started.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  

Strawberries like to hide.  Notice all those little green ones waiting to attack me later on?  HELP!  

My daughter's dog, Hawkeye, is staying here while they vacation.  He likes to stay close by his people.  

He sleeps on our front porch when he's here.  I'd let him inside, but he's a walking hair factory.    

Iris stays near me wherever I go, although she does sometimes lounge around the yard while I'm in the house.  
I need to do something with those strawberries; I picked them before 7 o'clock this morning, and it's 1:30 now.  I can't just let them spoil.   

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our Saturday

Adam took his two horses away for the weekend, leaving next-door neighbor's horse, Snickers, alone.  Here's how she's been acting with her friends gone:

At the end of that half-minute video you'll hear a John Deere tractor starting up; Cliff sold his 520 on Craigslist, and the guy came to pick it up this morning.  Cliff is counting his money.  Also at the end of that video you'll see a crummy old trailer house that my mom used to live in.  It will soon be a thing of the past; because the people who have lived there for the thirteen years since my mom vacated it are moving.  I think the move will be good for all concerned.  Cliff is pondering how to destroy the trailer house; it ain't gonna be easy, folks.    

I love Craigslist.  Goodbye, 520 John Deere!

The peas in my garden are climbing up the fence very nicely, and there are already young pods on the vines.  On the right side of this picture are strawberry plants.  

Left to right in this shot you see potatoes, a row of cabbage and broccoli and cauliflower plants, and some onions.

Imagine my surprise today when I saw Iris actually go into her outside pen of her own free will and lie down in her little hidey-hole there.  

We went for a motorcycle ride; Cliff thought he had his strength back after his bout with a virus, but he was wishing he was home long before we got back.  He's OK, just still in the last stages of recovery.  

We went to Menards in Sedalia.  I LOVE that store; I want one in this area in the worst way!  

The end.

Let's make strawberry jam

If you've never tasted strawberry freezer jam, you need to make some.  Unlike cooked jam, freezer jam has a fresh-picked strawberry taste that will send your taste buds into a frenzy when you put it on your morning toast.  The recipe is on the instruction sheet that comes with a box of pectin.  
You'll need a quart of strawberries, four cups of sugar, some lemon juice, and a box of Sure-Jell, Pen-Jell, or any other brand of pectin.  
Smash the strawberries (I use a potato masher) and mix in the sugar, then let it stand for ten minutes.  
Then, boil some water and pectin for one minute.   
Add that to the smashed berries, stir for three minutes, and put in containers.
You don't have to be Mrs. Holly Homemaker to do this; it doesn't heat up your kitchen or make a big mess.  Let the jars of jam stand on the counter until it's thick enough (no longer than 24 hours) and freeze; of course you'll want to keep a jar out to use right now; it keeps up to three weeks in the refrigerator.  
I promise it'll be the best strawberry jam you've ever tasted.  About the only thing that could possibly go wrong with this is that, if you don't quite get the proportions right, it may be thinner than you want your jam to be.  In that case, make pancakes.  Strawberry pancake syrup is a real treat.  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Assorted pictures

I'm glad I don't have to have a theme to each entry; I blog the same way I plant flowers, a little bit of this and that all mixed up.  I know my flowerbeds drive a lot of gardeners crazy.  I'm not the type to grovel and beg and ask my readers what sort of stuff they want to read here; to quote Rick Nelson, "You can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself."  This time you're going to get some totally unrelated photos... not photoshopped, of course; because I'm too lazy for that.

Every once in awhile a hummingbird ends up in our garage.  They're liable to buzz around for hours before they find their way out.  Can you see him up there in the center, his busy little wings a blur?

This was taken Tuesday, a rare sunny day.  I was busy washing lettuce from the garden, and Iris kept bringing her squeaky toy over in hopes I'd play with her.  Unfortunately, that's the day Cliff got the stomach virus, so I appreciated the wilted lettuce all by myself.  Oh, Cliff ate some; he just didn't keep it down long.

There's a trundle bed right behind my chair here at the computer desk.  Iris somehow manages to get most of her body under there, a remarkable thing when you realize there's very little "underneath" to this bed; the second bed is under it.

I got a new pole on which to hang feeders and put it where Cliff and I can see it from our recliners.  When the orioles had to come to the porch to eat, the only way you could see them was to sneak slowly over to the door and hope they didn't see you.  Now we can watch them easily.   Now they won't be pooping on the chair on the porch.  You can click on this picture to make it larger.  There's a female on the hummingbird feeder and a male admiring the slice of orange at the oriole feeder.

Slow Internet

Don't you hate when your computer is suddenly as slow as molasses?  
I spend a lot of time farming on Facebook; so the first thought I had was, "Facebook is messing up again."  
Because lots of times, Facebook (or Farmville) is the culprit.  So I tried some websites that normally load instantly for me, such as Craigslist.  Good grief, they were barely inching along.  
I downloaded a Farmville toolbar to my Firefox browser yesterday, a toolbar that snags all the free gifts to my gift box automatically so I don't miss any goodies.  I know, most of you don't have a clue what I'm talking about.  But trust me, if you play Farmville, this toolbar is a must-have.  
Chrome is my browser of choice, but the toolbar only works on IE and Firefox.  So once I installed it on Firefox, I minimized that browser so it could snag all the gifts for me, and used Chrome for surfing.  
Last night, things were moving slower and slower.  My first thought was that I should not have downloaded that toolbar.  I always blame myself first for any computer problem, because I am such a non-techie person.  
Next thought to run through my head was this:  "Dang it, if this were a PC instead of a Mac, I could take it anywhere to get it worked on; now I'll have to get it to the Plaza in downtown Kansas City."  
This morning I turned on my computer and it was still slow.  Slower even than dialup, if you can believe that.  
"I've messed my my Mac," I thought.  
Cliff got up early this morning, opened up the laptop to check Craigslist and said, "This thing is barely moving."  
So it isn't my Mac!  It's the Internet connection!   
I called a Century Link tech.  
I always hate to do this, because I know it will involve a huge chunk of time and a lot of frustration as I turn off and turn on and unplug and replug everything involved with my computer, crawling on my hands and knees under a cluttered desk.  
Once I had explained our problem, the tech guy said, "OK, go to start..."
"I'm on a Mac," I told him.  "I don't have 'start'."  
"Oh; we're all Windows people here, so let me get some instructions."
I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, but it was unwarranted.  He did just fine helping me on my Mac.  
Just as I had expected, I was told to unhook the router; the computer was plugged in to a filter, and I removed that.  He told me to click on one thing and another, type in this and that (hash?), read to him what came up, turn things off, put wires into different holes.  Whew.   
But when we were through, my computer was up to speed once again, and I thanked the man.  
"One more thing," he said.  "How would you rate Century Link as an Internet provider?  Would you recommend us?"  
"That question really isn't applicable," I said.  "We're out in the country and don't have any other options."  
If I had a choice, I'd have cable; it's faster than DSL.  But I don't, so I didn't bother to tell him that.
"Well then, how would you rate the help you've just received, on a scale of one to five?"  
"Oh, you've earned yourself a five."  
"Thank you very much; is there anything else I can do to help you?"  
The things I have to do in order to play on my Farmville farm.  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

nasty virus

I'm not talking about a computer virus, either.  
Cliff went to work as usual Tuesday; he hadn't been there long when he called to say he was sick, and needed to come home.  So our ever-faithful son-in-law came over and picked me up, and we went to fetch my husband.  Since he rides to work with someone else, he had no way to get home.  
Now, Cliff is never sick enough to miss work, so as soon as he called I started worrying... because that's my job.  My concern kicked into overdrive when I saw him looking pale as a ghost.  He crawled into the back seat, lay down, and groaned all the way home.  Not good.  
Neither of us got much sleep that night, thanks to Cliff's groaning and dry heaving.  Yesterday morning I suggested to him that we pay a visit to our doctor's office.  In my head I was thinking he ought to go to the emergency room (what if it's his heart again?), but I didn't figure he'd do that.  
I made an appointment with a nurse-practitioner, and we headed out.  The son-in-law was driving again, because Cliff felt too weak and nauseous to drive.  Weak and sweaty, just like when he was having heart trouble.  
It turns out, though, that there's been a vicious stomach virus going around; Nurse Joyce said their office has been overrun with people of all ages with this complaint for more than a week.  I mentioned to her that when Cliff's heart trouble first showed itself four years ago, he thought it was indigestion.  So she ordered an EKG, probably more for my benefit than anything else.  She told us to pick up some Mylanta on the way home (we never have anything like that on hand) and to let them know if he didn't start feeling better soon.  By the time she called in the late afternoon to check on him, Cliff was indeed feeling better, and actually dozing a little.  By late evening he was able to eat a bowl of cereal, and he slept soundly all night.  He's still asleep as I write this entry.   
I suppose the fear of Cliff's ticker acting up again will always be at the back of my mind.  I still lean over him occasionally when he's asleep in bed and listen for the sound of his breathing, just to make sure he's alive.  
Isn't that silly?    

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Old dogs

The guy Cliff rides to work with saw our new dog, Iris, and said to Cliff, "That's an OLD dog; look how gray she is."

Wayside Waifs had Iris' age at three to six years old, but Tony's statement got me thinking she might be a lot older.  Shelters have been known to guess the ages of animals wrong.  And I worried about it for a little while.

Then I sat myself down and asked why it mattered.  Iris could be ten years old and still have another five years ahead of her; but even if she only had a couple of years left, if they're good ones, she's worth the effort.

She plays with her toys and fetches a ball and a frisbee.  She walks with a quick and lively step.  She already shows a strong loyalty to me.

I wonder if she thought, the day I brought her home, "This person who adopted me looks really, really old.  Will she live long enough to take care of me the rest of my life?"
I guess it goes both ways.
Ain't but three things in life that's worth a solitary dime....


As I begin this post, I remind myself how lucky I am that I can blog as I please.  If I bore some of my readers, they might stay away for days (or perhaps forever), but it doesn't matter.  I keep this blather going mainly to please myself.  Sometimes I will add an entry that I know is trite and meaningless (like most of this blog) just because Cliff's sister in St. Louis worries if I don't write something every day.  I'm not doing this blogging thing to make money or to try to attract thousands of readers.  There's great freedom in that, and I am thankful.  So today, I choose to tell you about my strawberries.  And of course, I am liable to include a picture or two of my dog; nobody will set up a blog with a huge following telling the world how boring I am or how sick and tired they are of my dog.  They SURELY won't be complaining that I'm making too much money doing this.  Although, hey, I'm up to $78.55 with Google Adsense.  When I get to $100, I get a check for that amount.  $100 every six years is better than nothing, right?  

This is today's pickins, about a quart.  We've had cold weather and rain for days on end, so the strawberries are slow to ripen.  I've been getting enough, though, for our cereal each day, and a nice bowl of berries for dessert sometimes.

Matthew 6:26: Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.   
My heavenly Father is feeding those birds my strawberries!  It's OK, though; there's plenty for us all.  When I'm picking berries, I can almost hear Miriam Makeba singing "Love Tastes Like Strawberries".

Here's what the birds left me, all coated with sugar and chilling in the refrigerator.  I'm hoping the strawberries will hit their peak when my son, his wife, and my granddaughter are here from Georgia.  I believe they're arriving June 6.

Cliff thought I was asleep, so he grabbed the camera and aimed.  I heard him moving around, opened my eyes, and asked him, "Do you want me to act like I'm asleep?"  He did, and I did.  Iris, I believe, was actually sleeping.     

Monday, May 17, 2010

It must be a plot

When we moved back here behind the barn three years ago, I started putting hummingbird feeders out for the first time in my life.  It didn't take long for the little cuties to find me, and I was ecstatic:  it was free entertainment, right on my front porch.  

They got used to my presence and allowed me to take videos and still shots of their antics.  All it cost me was a little sugar; I actually threw more sugar-water away, keeping it fresh for them, than they consumed.  (The feeder in this picture, by the way, is the one I misplaced and can't find.)    

When the hummingbirds left for the winter, I missed them; so I decided to see if I could attract other birds to my yard with a feeder.  Soon house finches and goldfinches showed up, and life was good.  Except, of course, for the cost of the seeds they consumed.  But it was worth it.  

Last year I saw one Baltimore Oriole at a hummingbird feeder.  Only one, and just that one time.  But oh, how I longed to attract more of those beautiful orange-breasted birds!  On a visit to the Wild Bird Center, I struck up a conversation with a lady who said she and her husband had a pair of them that returned every year.  "They love grape jelly," she said.  "And oranges."  

So I bought an oriole feeder, loaded it with the goodies they are supposed to like, and waited.   

It was never touched, and I gave up on the orioles.  I stored the feeder away in the garage.  

Just a few days ago, I began seeing orioles at the hummingbird feeder.  Not once, but several times.  Cliff would be sitting in his recliner and he'd see their bright orange little bodies flitting back and forth from one young tree to another.  I dug the oriole feeder out of storage and put grape jelly on it, four teaspoons.  In an hour, it was all gone, and I decided they would only get grape jelly once a day.  Because otherwise this project could run into some money.

"Maybe they'd like a little toast with their jelly," Cliff said sarcastically.  

I didn't worry about putting home-made nectar in the oriole feeder, because they seemed to prefer getting that out of the hummingbird feeders... which I had to secure a little better on their hangers because the big orioles kept knocking them down.  

I told my sister-in-law next door that I wasn't going to buy oranges for them because they're so expensive.  "Oh," she said, "you just put a slice out and it lasts a long time; they don't eat much."  

I bought a single orange, which cost me fifty cents; the first slice I placed there lasted about thirty minutes.  So, they don't eat much, eh?  I think they're going to have to make do with the jelly.  

The trouble with orioles is that they're very skittish and shy, so I can't get a decent picture of them.  My daughter got this shot when she was here Saturday.

So these days I find myself grocery-shopping for all kinds of birds.  I think they've been spreading the word that they've found a sucker.  I keep the contents of the hummingbird feeders fresh and wash them thoroughly every three days.  I don't throw out as much nectar as I used to, because it's getting mostly consumed by the hoards of birds descending on the place.  In fact, it's hard to keep ahead of them.  I don't cook my nectar; I simply stir it until it's dissolved and store it in the refrigerator, ready to refill the feeders.  I'm a nursemaid for a bunch of birds.  
They've definitely found a sucker.    

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Craigslist story

We sold a motorcycle yesterday.   
Cliff's Kansas brother, Don, was told by Phil, their Higginsville brother, about a motorcycle in these parts; a guy Phil went to church with was pretty desperate for money and needed to sell a Kawasaki 1200R ZRX.   This all took place last winter.
The Kansas brother figured there was money to be made on the bike, so he had Cliff go look at it.  Cliff knows nothing about Kawasakis, but he described it to him as best he could.  
Kansas brother's wife holds the purse-strings in their house, so Don asked next-door sister for a loan; if the motorcycle sold, he told her, they'd split the profits.   

We went to pick up the bike on a miserably cold and icy day, brought it home, and put it on Craigslist.
The first man to look at it made the mistake of offering us less than the asking price; it hadn't even been on Craigslist for a full day, so it would have been ridiculous to lower the price that soon.  In fact, we decided it was too cheap and raised the price.  
Cliff's brother Don came visiting, and he and Cliff decided to see how the Kawasaki ran.  They left with Don on the Kawasaki and Cliff on our Gold Wing.  When they returned, they had switched bikes.  Both of them were almost trembling with excitement, and I heard Cliff say something about going 110 miles per hour.  Don mentioned 140 MPH, but who knows?  He's always had a tendency toward exaggeration.  Shortly after their wild ride, they realized the title was missing: Cliff had put it in the trunk of the bike so he'd know where it was; Don had done a wheelie, the trunk lid popped opened, and the title had flown out and away.  
I removed the bike from Craigslist and Cliff put in for another title.  Once we had that, we put the &%$#@*& motorcycle back on Craigslist.  
Cliff got a call from a guy in New York.  "The guy sounded like a scammer," he told me.  
The fellow called again the next morning while we were on our walk.  Cliff was having trouble hearing him and handed me his cell phone.  The guy starts telling me he really wants this bike, but he'd like us to take it to a Kawasaki dealer and have them look it over.  
Now come on; we have a life here, and how would we know the guy was going to buy it after we went to all that trouble?  So I told him, "We think you sound like a scammer."  
One of my many fatal flaws is that I don't play games or pussyfoot around about saying what I think.  After all, Craigslist has a warning on the website saying not to deal with someone with the  "inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction."
 When we got back to the house, the man had sent me emails with the location (on Google maps) and address of his house, along with his home phone number.      
Then he called Cliff and said he was paying a man fifty miles from here to come and look the bike over; it was someone who took part in a message board dedicated to this particular bike, which, as it turns out, is fairly hard to find and has quite a following of folks who think it's one of the greatest motorcycles ever.   Who knew?

The man showed up to look at the motorcycle, took about five dozen pictures, and called the New York guy, describing the bike in glowing terms.  When he was done, he said, "I'm pretty sure he'll be buying the bike; he'll likely get a plane ticket, fly down here, and ride the bike back home."  
Well, you can't beat that.  
Then Mr. New York (who truly was a legitimate buyer and really did want the bike) checked on the title; because it was a replacement title and the miles were estimated, the state of New York wouldn't let him license it there.  "Now who's a scammer?" he asked Cliff.  
Insert a long sigh here.  Touche.   
Cliff said, "I'm gonna have to buy the damn thing myself and keep it around for Jim (our son) to ride when he visits."  
And then we got a call from somebody else, someone local.  He and his wife came and looked the bike over.  He liked it.  

We met them yesterday with the ZRX and money exchanged hands.  So far as I know, everybody is happy.  At least I know we definitely are!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kennel cough

Cliff mentioned the other day that perhaps we should go to a different shelter next time we're looking for a dog; after all, Iris is the second dog we've gotten from Wayside Waifs:  both of them have had to suffer with kennel cough almost as soon as we got them home. 

I've googled the condition many times, looking for answers.  I found one article by a veterinary that pretty much covers all bases:  Click HERE to read it in its entirety.   It explains why the shelter is not at fault.  Here are a few excerpts:  

(California) State law requires dogs usually be held in a shelter six days before they can be adopted.  During this time, the stress of shelter life and exposure to airborne bacteria make shelter dogs prime candidates for kennel cough, even if vaccinated. Although the symptoms can occur in three to five days from the time of infection, some veterinarians report the actual coughing does not begin for seven to 10 days.  Because even the fastest acting vaccines don’t provide protection for at least four days, shelter dogs may often look perfectly healthy at the shelter and start coughing almost as soon as they get home.  

Kennel cough is usually what veterinarians call “self-limiting.”  That’s a fancy way of saying you probably don’t need to take your kennel cough dog to the vet.  The problem will resolve all by itself in 10 days to three weeks.   Although it is caused by a bacterium, antibiotics are generally not needed.  

If you see a kennel dog you want to adopt, don’t be discouraged even if they are coughing.  Kennel cough is easily overcome.  Once a dog is taken from the stress of a shelter and given a loving home and some time to heal, you’ll soon forget about the cough.  But the dog will always remember that you gave him a home when others wouldn’t.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Around the yard

I picked these strawberries this morning after the rain quit.  There's about two cups.  Cliff and I will have a little cereal with our strawberries.  

This is a red iris; I guess that's as red an iris as they were able to develop, eh?  

I'm still trying to get a decent picture of an oriole.  I can see that they would go through a jar of grape jelly in a day, so I'm simply going to give them four tablespoons in the morning and that will have to do them.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What a thoughtful thing to do.

I received this letter from the University of Missouri; click on it to see it better, or press ctrl/+ to make it larger.

I have to admit it made me teary-eyed to read it.  But what a sweet thing for our veterinary clinic to do.  

Good grief, it just hit me this morning that I was putting my address on here for the world to see; now that approximately 150 people will be able to go to Google maps and find me, I've blocked out the address... which was slightly wrong, by the way.  But not wrong enough!   

Things about my dog, Iris

I spend lots of my time looking for her.  A while ago I searched and searched; standing in the guest bedroom, I could hear breathing, but couldn't see a dog.   Finally I looked under the bedspread at the foot of the bed:  
Seriously.  Iris has issues.  She likes to be totally out of sight.    
She doesn't shadow me from room to room as much now; I guess she has decided I'm not going to disappear within the house.  She does worry, though, if I go outside without her.  
Her kennel cough is MUCH better; I'd say in another day or two, all symptoms will be gone.  
She prefers to quench her thirst at the toilet, rather than at her bowl.  I'm OK with that.  
One of my big concerns was that I'd have trouble keeping her off the furniture, but she seems to understand what I want from her now; twice I heard the sound of something getting OFF my recliner, ran in to see what was going on and saw my chair rocking and Iris cowering behind the kitchen table.  Obviously she had momentarily forgotten the rules, hopped in the chair, realized what she was doing, jumped down, and ran and hid behind the table, hoping I wouldn't find her and yell at her.  (My yelling consists of a sharp "No!")  
She is well house-trained; there have been no accidents.  
She still shows no interest when Cliff and I are eating.   
At this point, my main concern is how she'll get along with other dogs; I watched another episode of "Dog Whisperer", and once again Iris stalked, barked and lunged at the dogs on TV.  Once she's entirely over the kennel cough, we'll introduce her to Hawkeye, my daughter's dog.    I want to try her out with a big dog before we get her together with my sister-in-law's mini-doxie.   
I had always heard that dogs can't make out television images, but one of these days I'll make a video of Iris attacking the TV dogs, just to prove that she does it.

Here's a Baltimore Oriole at my hummingbird feeder; notice the hummingbird on the right, waiting for the interloper to leave.  I have seen a couple of them eating grape jelly at the oriole feeder, too.  This is the first year I've had orioles hanging around.  They're flighty and easily scared, so it's hard to get a picture of them.

Missing dog

For a brief time in the wee hours of the morning, Iris was nowhere to be found.  

She's been going in her kennel quite willingly, so last night I didn't bother to latch the door; I just closed it gently.  

Somewhere around 5 A.M., our regular nightly thunderstorm awakened me.  Glancing at the kennel, I saw the door open and knew Iris was somewhere hiding from the storm.  She is terrified by storms.  I figured she was probably curled up in Cliff's bathroom, the one off our bedroom; that's where she usually goes to hide.  

But she wasn't there.  My next thought was that she was likely curled up on some furniture, although I haven't had to call her off any furniture for several days.  Nope, not there.  Nor was she in any of her hidey-holes where I often find her.  

Folks, I looked everywhere a dog could possibly be; it isn't a big trailer house, so it doesn't take long to search the whole place.  Nowhere could I find my dog.  I was really, really surprised that she wasn't in the first place I looked... Cliff's bathroom.  That's always been her favorite hiding place.  

Wait... surely she wouldn't have gotten in the bathtub?  

Indeed she had.  I peeked behind the shower curtain and there she was, curled up in one end of Cliff's bathtub.  

Look what opened up for me overnight.  

On another note, there's a heart-rending story about a pet up for adoption at Wayside Waifs.  I don't want him, but I sure wish he could find a good home.  He's been at Wayside for over a year, bless his heart.  Click HERE to read his story and see his video.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Silly horses

This morning, Cliff and I got the electric fence put up to keep the horses out of the lush grass that would have eventually led to founder.  We did this in the mud, by the way.  That two inches of rain left quite a mess out there.  At least the electric fence posts were easy to drive in the ground.  

I predicted to Cliff that Snickers, the next-door neighbor's twenty-one-year-old mare, would take off running and break through the electric fence; we watched the horses for a few minutes after turning them out, and although there was some running and cutting up, they all came to a halt at the new fence-line.  

But ten minutes later, a horse did run through it:  Not Snickers, but Sassy.  Somehow the other two horses knew something had happened to frighten her, and they ran through the gate back into the lot; Sassy was afraid to go back where she had just gotten shocked, but she stood at the big gate, which was closed, until Cliff let her in with her pals.   Then he fixed the fence.

I noticed six hours later that they were all still in the big lot.  There really isn't much to eat there; they've got it cropped to the ground.  Evidently they were afraid to go back out.  So I got a can with a little sweet feed in it and stepped through their walk-through gate.  Tude and Snickers hesitantly followed me, but Sassy did not.  No way.  She wasn't going out there to get hurt again.  

A while ago I looked out to see Snickers and Tude grazing happily in the electric-fenced-off area.  Where was Sassy?  

Right up there in the safety of the big lot by herself.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.