Monday, February 28, 2011

Seeing what I want to see

The entry I did this morning got me thinking about the way I read books and see entirely different themes than the author intended.  For instance, in the book "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret", what I saw was a little girl's search for God.  The story actually deals with all the things girls of that age worry about:  a bra not filled out, when and how to kiss a boy, and what it might be like when she gets her period.  What my eyes saw was a story about somebody searching for God.  It isn't a religious book, by any means.  If I remember correctly, after trying different religions, Margaret decides to keep on dealing with God one on one like she's always done, and not worry about churches or synagogues.  I guess I should read the book again, just to see.    
I recently mentioned here that I'd read "Just Kids"; I said it was about Patti Smith (a rock singer I honestly hadn't heard of before) and the hippie lifestyle; Patti was the author of the book.  
Well, all that is in the book, and that's what grabbed me.  That's what I saw.  However, the book is actually about a photographer I had never heard of, Robert Mapplethorpe.  It starts with him on his deathbed, tells his story, and ends with him dying from AIDS.  When I blogged about the book, I didn't even mention him.  It seems he's quite famous and even has a foundation named after him.  
Those drugs he took must have done something for him.   
This business of seeing and hearing what I want (or need) happens with sermons, too:  The preacher's words will sink right into my soul and I know exactly what he's getting at; he's stepping on my toes.  Then I compare notes with someone else who was present at church that day, and when they tell me what they got out of the sermon, it might as well have been a totally different sermon AND preacher.   
Selective hearing and selective reading.  I guess I'm guilty of both.   

I once read a book...

My daughter was in the fifth grade when she brought a library book home from school and laid it on the counter in the double-wide mobile home in which we lived at the time.  I picked it up, casually started reading, and couldn't put it down.  
I finished it that same day.  
The book  was entitled, "Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume.   
It was about a pre-adolescent girl raised in a non-religious home who went searching for God.  I really don't know why the book, written for young folks, appealed so much to me; I wasn't searching for God.  He was right there and I knew it.  
As Rachel brought home other Judy Blume books, I read some of those, too.  One, I recall, was about a young boy who was overweight.  All the Blume books were good, but none grabbed me like that first one I read.  
The book had such an influence on me that God and I have an inside joke about it.  
(He gets it, in case you're wondering.)  
After certain kinds of days, I'll crawl into bed at night, give a sigh, and say, "Are You there God?  It's me, Margaret."  
God and I both have a chuckle, and I go to sleep knowing that tomorrow things will work out just fine.  
Whatever Heaven is like (and I really hope there's some green grass and flowers and Jersey cows there, because gold doesn't appeal to me) I see myself standing at the gate saying, "Are You there God...."  
Hopefully he'll chuckle and say, "Come on in; and by the way, your name is Donna, not Margaret." 

Thank you, Judy Blume, for writing a book that has stuck with me since 1980.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

So, I guess it's another $100 camera for me

Thanks for your input on my camera problem, Dave and Meesha.  Since I can get a new Canon SD Powershot for about $100 at Best Buy online and get it sent without any shipping charge, that's probably what I'll do.  I couldn't find any source that was cheaper.  
There's no sense in my getting a camera with highfalutin' features, because I wouldn't use them.  If you look in the dictionary under "point-and-shoot", you'll probably see me mentioned in the description somewhere.  I don't like to change settings.  
I could most likely get some other kind of point-and-shoot camera cheaper, but I hate change, and this is the third one of these little prizes I've owned.  I know it like the back of my hand.  I like the way the lithium battery stays charged up for weeks, even with fairly heavy use.  I am one person you won't see at some one-time event saying, "Oh darn, the batteries are run down."    
I like the way the Powershot fits in a pocket, since it's about the same size as a pack of cigarettes.  I like the videos I take with it.     
My Powershots have never done me anything but right.  The one I had before this one still worked when I retired it, even after I sat on it; the viewfinder was busted, but the camera took pictures just fine.   

How do you like the February fog?

My new header is from the same spot as the other one, except today there's not much to see but fog.  Don't worry, I'll put the other one back on soon.  The fog today is as thick as pea soup... which is what we're having for dinner today, by the way.  

This is my dog in the fog.  

This is the back of my house in the fog.  

The ugly spot inside my camera lens seems to be spreading like cancer; I'm wondering if there's someplace I could take my Canon SD 1100 to get it worked on.  Anybody know?  I hate to have to buy a new one if this one can be fixed for a reasonable cost.  On the other hand, if the repair would cost as much as a new camera, forget it.  It is a relatively cheap camera.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

One more time...

Second verse, same as the first.  At least this time it isn't as cold outside.

Books I've read lately

Thanks to my Nook, I've read more books in the last month that I read in the previous two years.  I've been surprised to find out that some of the free books really are good ones.  "The Apothecary's Daughter" by Julie Klassen, is an example.  I just finished it a couple of days ago and enjoyed it.  It was recently featured as a Friday freebie, but I see it isn't free now.  
Thanks to the fact that I use Swagbucks as a search engine, I've gotten over $40 worth of Nookbooks free; I trade in my Swagbucks for e-gift cards and buy books I wouldn't otherwise spring for.  Most Nookbooks cost $10 or less, so I'm loving my Swagbucks.  
If you haven't read "Water for Elephants" and have a Nook reader, it's only $5; it's one of my favorite books of all time, and Cliff enjoyed it, too.  I didn't download it, since I kept the paperback.  .
The very first book I started reading on my Nook was Anna Karenina.  I got to page 669 (of 1180) and then decided to take a break and read "At Home" by Bill Bryson, which I found quite interesting, even though at times I got a little more information that I would have liked (yuck).  
Since then, I've read a couple of shorter books.  I will get back to Anna Karenina, trust me.  I've gotten acquainted with the characters and I want to see what happens to them all.  
I've just started "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet".  Excellent, so far!  When I'm shopping for Nookbooks, I check the synopsis of the story and read a few of the customer ratings.  Doing this, I have yet to be disappointed in a purchase.  
Of course, I've read three or four library books on my Nook, too.  I do get impatient waiting for some of them to become available; there's a waiting list for e-books, just as there is for real ones.  Also, I've had some problem at times getting the library book from my computer onto the Nook.  
Since I bought the Ipad, I have both the Kindle app and the Nook app installed on it.  I still don't care for the backlighting, though. I prefer the actual e-reader.  
Now, I know a lot of people say they'd rather hold a real book in their hands: something tells me they haven't tried reading an entire book on an e-reader, because I find it SO much easier to hold, and I don't have to worry about what to do with the book when I'm done.  
However, if I'm at a garage sale and see a cheap book that looks interesting, I will buy it.    
Meanwhile, I probably have enough books on the Nook to last me for two years, even if I didn't download any more. 

It's been a good winter for reading:  the current mess outside my window wasn't supposed to amount to anything, but it looks to me as if we got at least four inches of snow.  Way to go, weathermen.  You're all fired.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things that make me go "hmmm".

Why is it I can't make Jello without getting it all over the counter and the bottom of the bowl, and then dribbling the mess all over my refrigerator?
Why can't I make Harvard Beets without splattering beet juice onto the stove and nearby counter?  (At least it doesn't stain quite as badly as red Jello.)  
Why do I spend at least fifteen minutes a day, every day, looking for my shoes and my purse?  It's not like I live in a big house!  
Why do I always search Craigslist for Jersey cows and bobby calves and gaited horses when I know I'm not going to be buying any?  
Why do I eat when I'm not hungry?  And why is it I can control my appetite all day long, but after five o'clock all I want to do is eat?    
Does it mean my life is really boring when the highlight of my day is the first cup of coffee in the morning?  
Why does it seem as though everybody is crazy except for me and Cliff?  (And sometimes I wonder about Cliff.)  
Why don't I spend more time cleaning house and less time on the Internet?  (Don't answer that.)
Why do I feel so holier-than-thou when people who consume "health" supplements and shun tap water have more health problems than I do?  That's just not the Christian way!  (Not that I've ever been any great shakes at following the Golden Rule.)  
Why is it I complain about the crazy neighbors, then practically break my neck looking out the door to see what they're up to?   
Why do I pinch pennies, nickels, and dimes on groceries and then go buy something totally unnecessary like an Ipad?  
Why is it that as soon as I brag that my dog doesn't do something objectionable, she immediately starts doing it?  (It was the same with my children when they were small, too.)

OK, enough of that, unless I think of more to add later on.  In answer to Patsy's question, yes; Clyde will be heading for the freezer sometime around August, good Lord willing.  If we don't have room in the freezer, I know somebody who would like to buy him for beef.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New header picture

I took the shot as the dog and I were walking back on the point this morning.  I was tired of looking at all the snow every time I visited my blog, so here's a header picture with some green in it, thanks to the fact that some farmer planted winter wheat last fall.  

Here's the original picture before I cropped the grapevines out of it.  Perhaps if you click on this picture you may be able to see the Missouri River behind the line of trees... or maybe not.  I spent a lot of time riding my horse, Blue, down there.  

It looks as though Clyde is dead here, but he's only resting.  

plodding toward spring

Yes, Cliff still plans to retire; he said he just gets scared when he thinks about being on a limited income with very few resources to fall back on.  Hey, we've gotten by without a net for years; we'll do whatever we must.  
The Western Farm show is coming up this weekend; it's a trade show for real farmers, not for dabblers like us.  There will be few, if any, items we need or can afford.  But it's a fun outing in February.  I follow the Western Farm Show on Facebook and snagged four free tickets, which saves us ten bucks on our two tickets.  Cliff's brother, Phil, plans to go along.  I'll hand the extra free ticket to somebody walking toward the ticket booth at the show.  
We attended last year, and I blogged about it.  

My kitchen-window herb garden is doing well.  Left to right, that's chives, parsley, and basil.  Basil obviously doesn't care for cool temperatures:  The pot at the back had as many seeds planted in it as the one in front, but it was very near the window during that miserable cold spell we had.  Not many of the seeds in that pot made it.  I'm thinking in a week or two I can start snipping at the leaves of these little plants.  

This is the mini-greenhouse I bought at Home Depot; I prefer the much cheaper versions from Walmart because in this one, the soil doesn't fill the space allotted.  From the closest to the back, we have:  oregano, lavender, dill, cauliflower, and two rows of cabbage.  I've never been able to get lavender to grow, and it looks like that isn't going to change.  I should not have put these herbs in the same container with cabbage and cauliflower, but I did.  We'll see if any of this stuff lives long enough to make it to the garden.  In a week, I'm starting my tomato plants.   
Because of the salt content in our softened water, I bring water in from the outside hydrant for my little plants.  Just something else to sit around and clutter my counters because, you know, I like containers of water sitting around.  
Pillows.  Let's talk about pillows.  For over two years I've had a stiff neck that comes and goes.  Daily Steals had a memory foam pillow at a good price, so I bought that; it was an improvement, but it wasn't really my cup of tea.  So I went searching through the house and came up with a softer, and less thick pillow than I've been using.  Problem solved!  I guess I just don't need that much pillow.  
Exercise.  Let's talk about exercise.  Cliff and I walk almost every day, but I've wanted to do just a wee bit of upper-body training.  I bought an exercise mat, hunted up some dumbbells, and started doing a few basic moves that ought to be good for me.  I'm looking for some printable exercise instructions; Sparkpeople has some, but a lot of theirs involve sitting on a large ball.  I don't own a large ball, and if I did, I'm not sure I want to try balancing myself on one and exercising.  I might hurt myself.
I'm sure you won't be surprised to read that world food prices may rise.  So what else is new?  Gas prices go up, so do food prices.  I hope my garden does well this year.  
Nobody ever sings the old hymns I grew up with.  Here's one that's been on my mind for a few days.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Yesterday I said something to Cliff that included the phrase "when you retire in June," and he said, "If I retire".  
I don't know if he's seriously reconsidering, or if he was testing me to see my reaction.  Perhaps when he gets up and reads this he'll let me know.  
We've been counting down and making plans for months.  Now, if he really decided to work because he'd rather, that's fine; it's his decision.  I reminded him, though, about the brevity and uncertainty of life at this age.  We've talked about the possibility that some morning one of us might wake up and realize the other is beside us in bed, cold to the touch and dead as a mackerel.  (By the way, why are mackerels any deader than anything else?)  
I reminded him that if he doesn't retire and then has a stroke that messes with his mobility a few months later, he'll be sitting in a wheel chair wishing he'd had some retirement time while he was still able-bodied.      

On our walk yesterday, we got to talking about "stuff", and the way we value it.  We discussed it in the context of Cliff's dad.  That's him sitting in the chair, holding my oldest grandson, Arick.  That's a very young Cliff on the left, and my son, fresh out of basic training, on the right.   
Anyhow, Cliff's parents never had a lot of valuables, nor did they own a home.  They never had a brand new vehicle until Cliff co-signed with them for a little Toyota pickup, back in the seventies.  
But Cliff's dad would lie awake nights worrying that somebody was going to steal his stuff.  Now, granted, Cliff's parents lived in some not-so-nice neighborhoods at times.  So it may have been a legitimate concern.  But had a thief taken everything he owned, he wouldn't have been missing much.  
Cliff remembers the time the house they were renting burned to the ground.  He came home from school and the house was gone.  
He has certain happy memories of this event because neighbors and school kids donated all kinds of clothing and other hand-me-downs, among which was the only bicycle Cliff ever owned.  He did regret losing all the strawberries his mom had just put in the freezer, though.    
Cliff laughs about the way his dad thought each of his possessions was worth three times its actual value, whether it was an old clunker of a car or a 9/16 box end wrench.  He kept his treasures under lock and key and worried about them constantly.  
I asked Cliff, "If you added everything up that your dad owned when he died, what would have been the value of it?"  
"Oh, I don't know.  Not much."  
"Do you think $500?"  
"I doubt it was that much.  Really, all he had was a few tools, and I'm the one who bought those for him."
We reflected on the way we humans value our stuff; we're like two-year-old children playing, grabbing our toys and yelling, "mine" if we think someone else is going to play with them.  What Cliff and I realize is that we're only here for a few more fleeting days; every day we're here, that stuff matters less and less.  If it's worth anything, somebody else will own it when we're gone.  In a few years, someone might look at a tractor and say, "Cliff really liked that old Oliver"; or somebody might strum a Gibson guitar and talk about how I treasured it, even though I seldom played it.  
But we won't be aware of any of that.
In less years than you think, our names won't be on anybody's tongue unless they're reading their family tree.  My grandma had one of the largest-attended funerals around Harrison County when she died.  Today you'd do well to find anybody up there that's ever heard of her.  Reminds me of the old epitaph written on tombstones:
Remember me as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you must be,
Prepare for death and follow me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time flies

Since I needed a new prescription for my blood pressure medication, I had a doctor's appointment today.  Dr. G. is always overbooked because everybody loves him as much as we do, even though he yelled at us last October about Cliff's weight gain.  The lady in the office wouldn't book me with a nurse-practitioner because she said it's been a long time since I've seen a doctor.  Hmph.  It hasn't been that long, I thought.  She offered to give me an appointment with Dr. H, but I told her I don't care for him.  
Some time back, we booked Cliff with Dr. H.  He shuffled through the late Dr. D's notes and gave us the three prescriptions Cliff needs; unfortunately, he looked at the wrong note and prescribed the wrong strength of Metropolol.  Now, I could understand this happening, because there had been changes in the past; so I figured he probably skimmed past the most recent one (a time-release) and saw the one Cliff originally took.  The prescription he sent home with us was double the strength, and not time-release, and Cliff was to take it twice a day.  
What I hold against the man is this: he wouldn't listen to me when I called back and said, "This is not the dose Cliff takes; if he takes this, his blood pressure will drop far too low."  
Oh no, he tried to figure out a reason why he'd changed the prescription and was not going to change it.  I was almost in tears by the time I finally convinced him.  The man is young, but that's no excuse.  Doctors need to listen to their patients.   
So, the office lady suggested Dr. John for this visit.  I didn't even know they'd added yet another doctor, but I said yes, I'd try him.
Today I met this doctor, and I liked him just fine.  I told him I usually see the nurse-practitioners, but that the lady in the office insisted it's time I saw a doctor.  He looked at my charts and said, "Yes, I'd say so; the last time you actually saw a doctor was in 2006."
Wow, that was the time Dr. G stitched my leg up, just a few days before Cliff's heart surgery!    
Honestly, there isn't that much for a doctor to do with a healthy specimen like myself, but he asked all the right questions:  "Any diabetes in your family?"  My mother.  "Any heart disease in your family?"  My mother took a prescription to help her frequent atrial fibrillation, but she lived to be ninety-two.  "Why was your blood pressure medication changed?"  Because the first one gave me a chronic cough.  "That's very common," he said.
He listened to my lungs and heart and my stomach (seriously, my stomach?  He probably heard it growling from hunger).  He asked about my last mammogram, and I told him it was around a year ago just before my breast reduction.  He made a note of this surgery, since I'd never mentioned it to anybody at this practice before.
"Have you had other surgeries?"  
I told him about my minor knee surgeries, and that I have knee issues but so far have avoided knee replacement.  
"When did you last have a pap smear?"  
No way, Jose.  Just leave me alone unless I get symptoms, OK?  I had enough of the embarrassing pelvic exams over a span of thirty-five years, and I never got over the blushing.  
I didn't say all that; actually I just told him it had been a long time, and he moved on. 
"Have you ever had a colonoscopy?"  
No, I would have, but I never knew who or where to call for an appointment.  I explained to him that one of my dad's brothers died of colon cancer, and that my sister had some issues a couple years ago.  
"I'll call and take care of the appointment," he said.  
They're supposed to call me and set up an appointment; we'll see if I finally get this done.  I know all about the procedure, having heard first-hand stories from many relatives.  Everyone says the worst part is the preparation.  They all say to stay very close to a bathroom during that time.  
My worst worry is having to spend a day without coffee, but I'll live.  

Here's something I'm wondering:  One of the most common search phrases that brings people to my blog is something like this:  "Can't stop coughing" or "coughing my head off" or "coughed for three years".  
I just happened to connect the coughing to my first blood pressure medication on my own, then did some Google searching to confirm my suspicions.  But I wonder how many people have a chronic cough without ever connecting it to their meds.  I wonder if doctors ever quiz people about this, or warn them this can happen.  I can visualize people on Ace inhibitors losing sleep from all that coughing just like I was, never knowing the cause.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

I guess this is what they call "February thaw".

We broke the previous record high yesterday, so of course Cliff and I took full advantage and went for a motorcycle ride.  It was already sixty degrees at 5 A.M.
The only foreseeable problem was the wind, which gusted to fifty-five miles per hour at times.  Believe me, that's no fun on a motorcycle, but as I told Cliff:  "If we're going to be going on a long ride this summer, we'll have to ride in wind, especially across Kansas; it's a windy state."  
I will tell you that the blast of wind hitting us as we crossed the Congressman Ike Skelton bridge was frightening, and as we left the bridge, with it's barriers that had partially blocked the wind, it felt as though we were going to fly away to Illinois.  It wasn't nearly as bad when we were going back home, thank goodness.     
Cliff wanted to go to Scott's Bargain Barn at Excelsior Springs, a place we often use as a destination when we only want a short motorcycle ride.  It's a dirty, run-down place that holds very few items of interest for me, so I took my Nook along.  That way I can spend my time reading and Cliff doesn't feel rushed because he knows I'm occupied; he can spend a lot of time in that place.  I took a quick look around and then went out into the sunshine to read; with Nooks and Kindles, you can read in direct sunlight, unlike the net-books and Ipads that glare in the sun.
 Scott's Bargain Barn sells all the parts you'd need to build any kind of trailer, and they also sell ready-made trailers.  This turned out well for me, because I stretched out on a trailer to read, using my motorcycle jacket for a pillow, and soon went to sleep.  We'd picnicked at Sunnyside Park in Excelsior Springs, and I always get sleepy after lunch.    
We took the motorcycle trailer with us in order to get groceries at Richmond on the way home, so we made full use of our gasoline dollars.  Cliff says gas is over $3 a gallon in the city, but it was $2.97 at Richmond.  When we first bought our other Gold Wing, we did a lot of grocery shopping on the motorcycle, and we didn't even have a trailer then!  You'd be surprised at how much you can pack into the trunk and saddlebags of a full-dress motorcycle!   I enjoyed these shopping trips, but Cliff sometimes feels it's too much trouble to hitch up the trailer for such a brief trip.  So we don't do it nearly as often as we did the first year we had a Gold Wing.     
Temperatures are to be in the fifties today; I may scratch out a place in the garden and plant some lettuce.  Freezing doesn't bother lettuce, and it will be there to grow when it warms up again.  
By the way, I noticed yesterday evening that this one super-warm, sunshiny day gave a green cast to our brown grass.   Yippee!  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Bobbsey Twins (and other stories)

I still remember the first two "big" books I received.  They were a Christmas gift from my school teacher, and I felt quite grown-up to hold in my hand some books that were so much more impressive than my favorite Little Golden Books: "Little Black Sambo" and "The Little Engine that Could".  
One of the books, "Heidi", seemed difficult, so I put it aside to read the other one:  The Bobbsey Twins, the first in a series of many.  I couldn't put it down.  I later owned "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country" and "The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore", and one other one about them flying in an airplane.  None held the magic of the first, though.  
Because these books were originally written when my mother was a kid, they are old enough to be a free download on the Nook; so I nabbed that first one I ever owned, just for the memories.  It's the one that taught me how to make a dollhouse out of a shoebox, and how to make a sturdy igloo by pouring water over the top of a pile of snow to make it strong.  I later used that knowledge to help my kids construct an igloo in the seventies.  
Heidi was a difficult read for me, but it drew me in right away because it was about a little girl who went to live with her scary-but-nice grandpa, and got to spend her days romping in the mountains barefoot, playing with goats.  Now, at that time I'd never been around goats, but it seemed like it would have been a wonderful life.  I would read about Grandfather making cheese and I could almost taste it.  I'll admit I got bored when Heidi went to stay with the little rich girl, but I stuck with the book until it was done, even re-reading it at least once.   
I have no idea how old I was when I received these books; I only know that we still lived in Iowa.  I'm thinking perhaps I was in the second grade.   
Now I'm reading a library book on my Nook called "Just Kids".  It's a biographical book by Patti Smith, a name that wasn't familiar to me; seems she's a rock singer.  I chose the book because it seemed to portray life in the hippy culture, back in the sixties and early seventies.  I was raising babies then, living in the country.  I'd have fainted if somebody had so much as offered me a joint, but I had a secret fascination with hippies, Woodstock, communes, and the whole back-to-the-land movement.  It all seemed so romantic.
Patti drops a lot of names throughout the book, at least half of which I'm not familiar with because I was listening to country music, not rock.  However, she and her friends hung out at times with Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.  Those names made me sit up and take notice.  
The venereal disease and crabs, however, left me shuddering and unimpressed.    
Books give me glimpses into places I don't have the nerve to go in real life.  Sometimes I'm glad it's only a glimpse.  
Now I'm going to go cyber-shopping at Barnes and Noble; I'm using all the Swagbucks I receive searching the Net to get myself Barnes-and-Noble gift cards.  Free books, best-sellers I wouldn't normally shell out the bucks for.  Sweet!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We're back to our regular daily walk

Well, perhaps you couldn't call our walk "regular" just yet.  It's pretty full of adventure and surprises.  

In some places, we're still wading snow.  Thank goodness for our Muck boots.  

In spots, the snow melted and then re-froze on our path, so we had to walk beside the path unless we wanted to ice-skate, which we were neither one inclined to do.  

We've seen deer tracks and raccoon tracks in the snow, but this one really puzzled us; it went on for yards and disappeared down a ravine.  From a distance it looked like a tractor tire track... a tractor with one tire.  We're still puzzling over this one.  

It's hard to tell, but there are rivulets of water running in this shot.  Thawing is a wonderful thing.  I could learn to like mud.    

To those who offered suggestions on my problem with the disappearing library books on my Nook:  I know the books disappear after two weeks.  That isn't the problem.  I check out the book, which puts it on my computer.  I immediately connect the Nook and drag the book to it.  
Sometimes I can find it and read it after I do this; other times it's nowhere to be found.  However, if I try to drag it to the Nook again, I'm told the book is already on there.   
What puzzles me is that it's only an occasional thing, because I go through the process the same way, every time.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hope springs eternal

Yesterday my seeds arrived in the mail, just exactly at the time I needed to start some of them in the mini-greenhouses.  I won't start tomatoes and peppers yet, but I have some cabbage and cauliflower seeds that can be started right now.  This is an immense boost to my spirits.  
Cliff took the day off yesterday.  He has only four months left to work, and four weeks of vacation time coming:  Obviously, he can pretty much take a day off any time he pleases.  He sowed clover seeds on the pasture while there's still a little snow on, changed oil in at least one of the tractors, and in general, puttered around the farm and the shop all day, coming inside only to eat dinner at 1 P.M.  I fried the last bag of catfish that was left in the freezer, figuring our fisherman neighbor will be fishing again in a month or so.  In spite of the fact that I occasionally fry something we shouldn't be eating, Cliff has lost exactly twenty pounds, and he's not done losing.  I'm still at this phase of losing one pound, gaining two, losing two pounds, gaining one; you get the picture.  I've lost fourteen pounds all told, but I don't think any more excess weight is going to budge until I can get outside working in the garden.  As I've said before, as long as I can hold my own, I'm ahead, this time of year.  

My dog, Iris, tends to have a doggy odor about her most of the time, but I usually just put up with it because I know it isn't good to bathe a dog too often.  Yesterday, though, she spent a lot of time outside, and now that our snow is turning to mud, she was a very dirty doggie by the day's end; so I gave her a bath.  Trouble is, she'll be getting this dirty every day, now that the temperatures have moderated and snow is turning to mud; I suppose from here on, I'll simply be hosing her off like I did last summer when she kept diving in the filthy little pond chasing frogs.  It's rather cool for that, but if she's going to be in the house, I have no other choice.
I've been reading a lot of library books lately, thanks to my Nook.  Funny thing is, once in awhile a library book seems to disappear during the process of moving it from my computer to the Nook.  Other times, the book shows up just fine.  I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong, I just don't know what, since it works most of the time.  One thing about it, it costs me nothing.  The book just disappears from my computer (and the Nook) after two weeks.  Still, I'd like to figure out this mystery of what happens to some of the books.  
The more electronic gadgets I have, the more mystery I seem to have in my life.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Apps. I love apps.

Here are all the apps I've loaded onto my Ipad... not those four at the bottom, but all the others.  The only one that has disappointed me is the Sparkpeople app:  It won't let you put a percentage of their measurements on, which makes it pretty useless.  For instance, Saturday I was trying it out; we had a rare breakfast of two pieces of bacon, one piece of whole-wheat toast with margarine, and one egg.  I was very sparing with the margarine on the toast, using about one teaspoon.  The only measurement I was given on the app was one tablespoon.  On their website I'd be able to add .33 tablespoon, but the app won't let me do that.  So that one is going bye-bye.  I can go to the actual website on my Ipad and do things right.

I've already purchased something on Ebay and paid for it using that app, so it's good.

Pandora is my favorite!  Not only does it play my Pandora custom-made stations, but it gives me information about the artist while I listen.  I must say, I've been disappointed in the Apple sound quality on my Mac Mini, but the sound on the Ipad is outstanding.  Here, listen for yourself:

Yesterday I saw flowers blooming, and tomatoes on the vine!

No, it wasn't a dream.  My daughter called and asked if I'd be interested in going to the garden show in Kansas City.  Listen, with the winter we've been having, I'd pretty much go anywhere somebody wants to take me.  By the way, we're starting to see brown grass where the snow was a week ago.  I never thought brown would look so good!  

Green growing things looked even better.  

So did tomatoes.  On a blight-free plant, even, which is something I don't expect to see on my property any time soon.  I'll settle for the hard-won tomatoes, in spite of blight.

I did not realize there were so many varieties of orchids.  

Yes, those are real birds.  I find owls to be among the most beautiful of creatures.  

This is some sort of hawk.

There's a sucker born every minute, and I'm the one who bought one of these.  After I got home I googled this thing, and there were more complaints than praises for it.  I just get so desperate to rid my yard and garden of moles that I'm willing to try anything.  Truthfully, the best remedy we've found is to use grub-killer in the spring.  It doesn't totally get rid of the pesky critters, but it reduces the population by about 95%.  If they can't find grubs to eat, they tend to move on.  

Rachel and I both admired this state-of-the-art fire pit.  Of course, if it were in my yard, somebody would have to pull weeds or weed-eat around it.  So it's probably a bad idea.  

These folks were drumming up business for their dog-training enterprise.  There were other people giving free samples of dog food and some kind of dog chewie stuff that is supposed to clean dogs' teeth. Iris didn't care for the sample of dog food, but she loved the tooth-cleaning biscuit, totally devouring it within five minutes.  She loves it when I bring home a treat.  

   I seriously wanted this sign, but for ten bucks?  Nope.  I spent all my mad money on a mole-chaser that probably won't work.  

I took a picture of this chicken-house to show Cliff, but the more I look at it, the more I realize the design is flawed.  Back to my chicken tractor plan.  

After the show, we went into an Aldi's store so my daughter could do a little shopping.  I didn't have plans to buy anything, but there was still money in my Dave Ramsey grocery envelope and I saw some bargains.  I had not seen thirty-nine-cents bananas in a long time!  Aldi's round snack crackers are $1.39, and Cliff prefers them to Hi-Ho or Ritz crackers.  I noticed their canned tomatoes were forty-nine cents, as opposed to the Walmart brand for over eighty cents.  It's a shame we have to travel twenty-five miles to an Aldi's store; we just don't buy enough groceries to justify the trip.  
To polish off our outing, we hit Sonic for their happy hour.  I got myself a 44-ounce low-calorie cherry lime-aid for a buck.  That's a huge drink, and I surprised myself by drinking every bit of it right down to the cherry.  
Thanks for a fun day, Rachel!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big bird

(Click on the picture to make it larger)

That's a dead deer along the roadside, just down the hill from where I live.  A young eagle is feasting on deer meat.  He's been hanging around that area for days.  My daughter and I were headed to Kansas City to the garden show when we passed this guy; I said, "Oh man, I didn't get a picture!"
Rachel got to a place where she could turn around and we went back for this shot.  
Honestly, this bird is so homely it's hard to believe he's an eagle.  But what other kind of local bird is that huge?  You can probably do some googling and find out at what age the Bald Eagle gets his white head.    
On the way home after the show, down on the other side of Levasy, a full-grown eagle soared over us, flying low.  I guess it's just a time for eagles to show up.  

My latest toy

You folks are not going to believe this, after all the soul-searching I did before buying my Nook e-reader.  The thing is, and I tell Cliff to remember this also, once he retires, a lot of this buying fun-but-needless things is going to stop.  
So it was almost Valentine's Day, which Cliff and I largely ignore except for my using it as an excuse to eat at Olive Garden.  The more I surfed and studied, the more I wanted an Ipad.  I began dropping this bomb on my husband in small doses.    
When these gadgets first came out, I recall saying to my daughter, "Why would I need an Ipad?"  
She replied, "You don't."  

Well, you may think you don't want  or "need" one, but don't be surfing too much and window-shopping, or you'll find out different.   
Now I realize that those of you who have fancy phones that surf the Net are used to this type of thing.  We've never needed such phones, nor could we justify the expensive plan that would be required to use them.   
My first reason for wanting an Ipad was that it's a compact way to carry my computer with me.  I've already added all my music and some pictures from my computer.  If we manage to go on some motorcycle trips after Cliff retires, space is at a premium in the little trailer we pull.  The Ipad is, first and foremost, a very compact computer.   
As I studied the situation more, I found out that by buying an Ipad with 3G capabilities, I can get on the Internet, for a fee, any time I want, without signing up for a full-time plan.  Whoa!!!  So when we visit Cliff's sister in St. Louis, I may be locked off their wi-fi, but I can buy some Internet time for $14.  Sweet!  
Don't get me started on the apps.  Discovering all these things about my Ipad, I get the same sensation as when I watch beautiful, extravagant fireworks displays:  Each one is better than the last.  I went to PC Mag's website to get suggestions for the best apps to download.  I didn't load a lot of them; many were games, and I don't need games.  But there are some dandies.  
There's an App for ABC television that lets you watch any of their shows on the Ipad.  News apps from most any local or national TV station.  All sorts of weather apps.  Epicurious gives me recipes; I type in the ingredients I want to use, this app gives me a recipe.      
Now, you ask, what about my Nook?  I find I still prefer it for reading, although I did add it to the Ipad; you never know when Cliff and I might want to read books at the same time.  I also added Kindle.  
My daughter asked yesterday why I hadn't blogged about getting the Ipad.  I don't know, maybe I felt a little guilty at spending so much of Cliff's money on foolishness, although he gave me the go-ahead before we got it.  Or maybe I was so overwhelmed with its greatness I was speechless.  
Whatever.  Now the whole world knows.      

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Warmer weather

It was almost shirtsleeve weather today; what a welcome break from the bone-chilling cold.  
Yesterday I went for my first walk in days; there was a crust on the snow, which was still about four inches deep, even after a couple days melting.  My calves are letting me know about it today; that business of breaking through the crust atop the snow is very tiring.  I walked again today, but not nearly as far as usual.  I'm trying to build up to it again.  
My daughter and her family came to visit, bringing along my great-granddaughter Kami.  I can't believe how grown-up she acts.  

Rachel saw I was preparing to take some pictures, so she fixed Kami's hair a little bit.  

Here you have a dog-whisperer in the making.  Actually, there's peanut butter in the ball Iris is working on.  Kami found this very interesting. 

When it comes to farm equipment, you have to start kids young these days.  Last summer you couldn't get Kami on a tractor, so she's coming along nicely.  

As usual, Cliff's working on a project.  Kevin, the son-in-law, is supervising.  Or maybe he's just visiting with Cliff.  

On the other side of the shop, grandson Arick is working on his truck.  

Laying on the cold concrete just seems to be the thing to do today, but not for me.  
I've enjoyed my Nook; it's been a good day for it.  

Lincoln Park Inn

This song was written by Nashville's storyteller, Tom T. Hall.  It's one of my all-time favorites.  It came up on my Ipod while I was mopping the kitchen, and as many times as I've heard this song over the course of more than forty years, it still blows me away.  A mini-soap opera in a song.

My name's in the paper where I took the boy scouts to hike;
My hands are all dirty from working on my little boy's bike.
The preacher came by and I talked for a minute with him;
My wife's in the kitchen and Margie's at the Lincoln Park Inn.
And I know why she's there cause I've been there before,
But I made a promise that I wouldn't cheat anymore.
I try to ignore it but I know she's in there, my friend:
My mind's on a number and Margie's at the Lincoln Park Inn

Next Sunday it's my turn to speak to the young people's class,
And they expect answers to all of the questions they ask.
What would they say if I spoke on a modern day sin
And all of the Margies at all of the Lincoln Park Inns?
The bike is all fixed and my little boy is in bed asleep;
His little old puppy is curled in a ball at my feet.
My wife's baking cookies to feed to the Bridge Club again.
I'm almost out of cigarettes and Margie's at the Lincoln Park Inn
(And I know why she's there)

Friday, February 11, 2011


Isn't that fantastic?  I went out to take the cover off the hot tub so I could warm up, and noticed the setting sun spotlighting my naked cottonwood tree.
I was thirteen years old when Tammy and the Bachelor came out.  I had no way of going to see the movie, but the theme song played all the time on the radio.

Of course I identified with the song because when you're thirteen years old, you're always in love with somebody or other.  The words to that song are embedded in my heart.  

I hear the cottonwoods whisperin' above,
"Tammy ... Tammy ...
Tammy's in love"
The ole hooty-owl
hooty-hoos to the dove,
"Tammy ... Tammy ...
Tammy's in love".

Does my lover feel
What I feel
When he comes near?
My heart beats so joyfully,
You'd think that he could hear.

Wish I knew if he knew
What I'm dreamin' of
Tammy ... Tammy ... Tammy's in love.

Whippoorwill, whippoorwill, you and I know
Tammy ... Tammy ... can't let him go
The breeze from the bayou keeps murmuring low:
"Tammy ... Tammy ...
you love him so".

When the night is warm,
Safe and warm,
I long for his charms
I'd sing like a violin
If I were in his arms.

Wish I knew if he knew
What I'm dreaming of
Tammy ... Tammy ...
Tammy's in love

What I didn't know back then was that cottonwood trees really do whisper.  I didn't find that out until we bought this place; at that time there was an old cottonwood tree in our front yard.  In spring, summer, and fall, with our windows open and a breeze blowing, that tree whispered.  

It was a damaged tree, hollow in the center.  Cliff was happy to bring it down because of the sticky fluff it dropped at certain times of the year that put little spots on our vehicles.  Oh, and by the way:  Hooty-owls actually did hoot from the branches of that tree.  I miss them.    
I still like to stroll out there in the pasture on a breezy day and listen to my cottonwood whispering.

Vanity Fair Questionnaire

I found this meme over at Here, there, and everywhere.

Quickly name a unique item you have in your house:
A necklace made with the actual hair of my deceased horse, Blue
What are your two favorite names?
I don't have any favorite names.
What do you consider a necessary luxury?
Oh, but I have so many!  I guess the chief one would be my computer with Internet.
What type of car would you like to drive?
I don't drive, but I'd love it if we had another Cadillac, one that was brand new.
What is your favorite color and has it changed over the years?
Blue is my favorite, but when I was a little girl I liked red best. 
What quality do you most admire in a man?
Niceness.  That's it.  I like a man that's nice.
In a woman?
Same as above
What is something you long for?
I have now, or have had in the past, most of the things I've longed for.  Right now, I simply long for spring.
If money were no object what would you buy yourself?
The crazy neighbor's property next door, so I'd be rid of them and their eyesores.
What charity would you donate a million dollars to?
City Union Mission has always been my favorite charity.
What book have you just finished reading?
"Black Heels to Tractor Wheels".
Name one book that made an impact and why?
The Bible, of course.  It framed my childhood and has stayed with me in adulthood. 
Name one liquid always in your fridge?
non-softened water from the outside hydrant, because softened water doesn't taste good.
Name one food item always in your fridge?
milk  (I really fought the urge to say mold)
What could you eat everyday?
Everyday I drink…
five cups of Eight O'clock Coffee
TV Guilty Pleasure:
Shall I admit it?  Judge Judy and SuperNanny.  
TV Show I Don’t Miss:
The Good Wife!  I've never missed an episode yet.
Name a favorite fictional character from a book.
From a movie:
George Bailey from "It's A Wonderful Life"
What phrase or motto do you over use?
"poor people have poor ways"
I own a lot of:
new-fangled Internet-related gadgets
I collect:
I try to avoid:
People (I know, I'm awful)
One thing I know:
I could be a lot better person than I am if I weren't too lazy to make an effort.
Everyday I:
see that Cliff is fed, play on the computer
The last time I wrote a letter and mailed it was:
I haven't written a real letter in years.
Dog or cat?   Dog, of course

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nita came forward!

Indeed, just as I was making plans to hold another drawing for "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels", the elusive Nita stepped in to claim her prize.  Nita, be sure to contact me at with your address, and I will send the book on its way.  
Ah, she's done that.  She's another Missourian!


As winter made its way into mid-Missouri last November, I zealously kept the thermostat at 65 degrees during the day, and turned it down to 60 at night.  I like a cool room for sleeping, and besides, propane is expensive.  
I kept that routine with diligence throughout December.  Then January brought sub-zero temperatures that wrapped around my house, seeped into my bones, and wouldn't leave.  I began to wander through the house with a blanket wrapped around my body.  The house seemed too cool at times, but I'd look at the thermostat, and it showed that the furnace was chugging along doing its job:  set at 65, it reaches 72 before shutting off, and lights off again at exactly 64.  So why did I feel so much colder than I had i December?  
As the bone-chilling cold lingered, I found myself nudging the thermostat upward to 68, then to 70.  I stopped turning it down before going to bed.  The heck with the cost of propane; we're on the level-pay plan anyway, and so far we're more that $500 ahead.  
That's what this winter is doing to me, turning me into a wimp.  The longer it goes on, the more heat I need.  
I'm so ashamed.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bargains and windfalls

Last week when Cliff and I were at Walmart, we saw rack after rack of coats on clearance.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it), we're neither one in need of a casual coat.  If I could find a nice coat worth the money, one to wear when I go shopping or someplace, I'd grab it.  I've been perusing Kohl's and Target clearance online; so far, nothing has been cheap enough to suit me.   
I filed our income taxes Friday.  Although I've been confident that our refund wouldn't show up in our checking account this soon, I've checked every day.  Funny thing is, I was looking for that big fat federal refund; so the measly little $500 state refund sat there for two days before I noticed.  And trust me, we're not so wealthy that we consider $500 to be chicken feed!  It just goes to show that if your sights are set too high, you can miss the treasure that's right in front of your eyes.  I still can't believe a refund showed up only four days after I filed our taxes online.  
I have to visit the doctor's office before I can get any more of my blood pressure pills.  Yesterday I called to schedule an appointment with a nurse-practitioner and was put on hold.  After five minutes of waiting, I gave up.  I'll try again today.  
It's snowing; so what else is new?  This round isn't supposed to amount to much.  The forecast low for tonight is five below zero.  The forecast for Sunday has a high of fifty predicted, and highs should remain in the forties and fifties for the following week.  Won't that be nice?  
Cliff has a review and a raise coming up at work.  This will be his last raise, I believe, before he retires.  From what I've seen since I've been on Social Security, we'd better enjoy it.  Raises are few and far between when you're retired.  And the raises you do get are downright pathetic.  I keep raising the percentage of his check that goes into 401K, knowing this is our last shot at retirement savings.    
That's your daily report from Redneck Central.  Have a great day, everybody!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Nita, you are a winner... come forward

I'm still trying to flush Nita out of the brush so she'll come and claim her prize.  I'm hoping if I put her name in the title, she'll be more likely to notice.  You folks who entered to win Black Heels had better keep your eyes open, because if the prize is unclaimed Monday morning there will be another drawing for it.  I've saved the names in the bowl, just in case.  
I finished my own copy of "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" today.  The ending was perfect, but it left me wanting more; do you suppose Ree will write another book taking up where this one leaves off?.  The book takes the story a little farther than Ree's online version on her blog, going on through their first year of marriage and the birth of their oldest daughter.  
Cliff is next in line to read it.  


When I was small, Mother would sometimes fix sauerkraut and wieners.  I never cared for the kraut, but I liked the taste of the hot dogs that had been cooked in it.  Mother made her own kraut back then and canned it.  That's something I've never tried, mainly because I never became a big fan of sauerkraut.  Oh, there were a couple of times during my marriage that I bought a can at the store and heated it up; I just didn't care for it.  Too sour. 
That's why it's strange that a couple of weeks ago I suddenly developed a yen for kraut.  It's high in sodium, but quite low in calories, so I decided to see if perhaps I liked it any better these days.  I bought some turkey kielbasa to cook with it, another high-salt product that isn't too high on calories.  We do very well limiting sodium most of the time, so once in awhile we go ahead and enjoy something salty.  
I was shopping in a local grocery store and saw that kraut came in two different sizes of cans.  I chose the larger can (hardly any calories, remember).  I believe the price was something like $1.83, which seemed high.  Then I happened by the refrigerated cases and noticed plastic bags of kraut there.  Comparing the price and the amount of kraut in both the bag and the can I'd picked up, I saw the bag was the better bargain.  
Now I'm still not sure what triggered my craving for this dish (I knew I wasn't pregnant), because it was always too sour for my taste; but I wanted some, so I'd try doing some experimenting with it.  
Next day I googled a few things and got some ideas:  One recipe suggested rinsing and draining it in a colander; several others said to add brown sugar, which seemed like a good idea to take some of the tartness away.  
Then I got on Facebook and asked the question, "Does anybody have suggestions for cooking kraut?"  
I got some excellent ideas!  Some folks cook it with baby back rips, some with pork chops.  
The first person to answer my query said to put brown sugar on it, and some caraway seeds.  Someone else mentioned apple, so I sliced the last apple in the house and added that.  The first person came back yet again and said to serve mashed potatoes with the kraut, an idea I knew Cliff would like.  Yet another person said, "Always buy the kraut in a bag; don't buy the cans."
How about that?  I was just trying to save money, but the bag had been the right choice anyhow.  
Choosing bits and pieces of all the ideas I'd been handed, I managed to make the first batch of sauerkraut in my life that I would call delicious!  I have added it to my grocery list again; I can almost taste it now.   
Oh, and I will never have kraut without mashed potatoes.  Ever.  

We won't talk about how the house smelled after I'd cooked it.

There's HOPE in the forecast

First of all, let me say this:  Sonya, the runner-up in my giveaway, has reported in.  Nita, the big prizewinner, has not.  I've saved all the name-slips except for the two that were drawn yesterday.  In the event that Nita hasn't claimed her prize by next Monday morning, there will be another drawing for the grand prize.  Nita doesn't have a blogger profile, so I have no way of contacting her. 
Now that I have that out of the way: the weather-guessers are predicting snow again, but they say it will only be a dusting.  Worst-case scenario they're giving is three inches.  After what we've had in the last month, that's not a bad forecast.  Not only that, it gets better as we look ahead:

That takes us up to mid-February.  Of course it could get down to zero again and snow a lot, even up through March.  But we know that cold spells aren't likely to last as long, and snow hopefully won't stay on the ground for weeks, as it's been doing.  Right now I refuse to think about the mud in my future after the snow melts.  

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Genesis 8:22

On another note, I'd like to refer you to a blog entry worth reading over at Cliff's second cousin's site.  Click HERE.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, February 07, 2011

We have a winner and a runner-up

The winner of "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" is Nita.  Here's what she said when she entered the giveaway:  Nita said...
I'd like to throw my name in the hat even tho I read the book as she wrote it. An autographed copy would be so nice. It's been fun watching her grow so to speak. Nice give away...
If airline tickets were free? I'd still have to drive. Don't trust that many people with my life anymore....haha  
By the way, Nita, there's more of the story in the book than you've read online.

There was also an "Anita" who entered, but did not win; I'm mentioning this because I wouldn't want any sort of misunderstanding that would lead to disappointment.

The runner-up, Sonya, gets PW's cookbook.  Here's the comment she left for her entry:  Sonya said...
Oh wow, I would love to open my Island magazine and just pick any spot. lol This magazine helps me with my constant need to be near ocean and sand. The latest article I read was about Antigua. George has been there and wants to go back. Warm and tropical with mopeds to ride about the island. He said it was not Americanized and that would be fun to see what life is like. I have never been on a moped but willing to learn. lol So many places to visit that looks enticing. I didn't realize Ree had this book out. That is awesome. She is something else! I finally got the cookbook.  

Well Sonya, now you have two of PW's cookbooks.  This one is autographed, however.  Perhaps you can use the one you just bought as a gift for someone.  

If I sounded extra excited about Sonya winning, it's because we've been blogging buddies for so long.  My daughter met her in person once.  Actually, I would have been that excited for any of you that I'm familiar with for any reason.  

If the two winners will email me with their addresses at, I'll get the books in the mail in the next day or two.  There are still two cookbooks left for a future giveaway!