Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We never know what's going on with a person

A lot of us in the Kansas City area are bummed out today.  One of our best-loved weathermen, Don Harman, died; it's rumored it was a suicide.  He leaves behind a wife and a small daughter.  He was forty-one years old.  
The guy was always laughing and cutting up with the Fox 4 gang.  You would have taken him to be one of the happiest people in the world.  
Now I'm reading that he had been battling with depression.  Cliff asked me, "What could he have to be depressed about?"  
Of course, Cliff knows as well as I do that you don't have to have a reason to be depressed; clinical depression sometimes occurs simply because the body's chemistry is out of whack.  
I wonder if S.A.D. (wintertime depression) entered into this at all.   
I wonder how the morning crew at Fox 4 held it together today.  
I wonder how Don's family is holding up.
I wonder if perhaps the rumor I've heard is false.  (Nope, this article confirms it.)  
I wonder how many others around me are struggling with depression, perhaps even someone who seems to be the life of the party.

Don’s family has set up a memorial fund that will benefit local Kansas City charities. If you’d like to make a donation, the information is below:
Don Harman Memorial Fund
Benefiting local Kansas City Charities
c/o Tightwad Bank
1160 SE Highway 7
Tightwad, Missouri 64735

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Motorcycle Museum

While half the world was out shopping on Black Friday, our son and his wife took us to Warm Springs, Georgia, to visit a motorcycle museum.

It was actually more than a motorcycle museum:  There were old jukeboxes and collections of autographed pictures this guy had collected.  All stored in a bunch of decrepit houses that were a fireman's nightmare.  
Jim's step-daughters went shopping on Thanksgiving eve and were nice enough to invite me, but I don't do all-night stuff.  I can get up at 4 A.M., but they were heading out early on Thanksgiving evening.  I really appreciate their invitation, though!  
If you should ever be in the area and decide to tour the museum, keep in mind that FDR's "little white house" is also at Warm Springs.  Cliff and I toured it a few years ago, and it was definitely worth the time spent there.


I spent three days in coffee heaven while we were in Georgia.  
The coffee brewed each morning in the family's Hamilton Beach pot was so excellent, I finally asked my son, "What kind of coffee is this?"  
He showed me the package:  Maxwell House Breakfast Blend.  
That's it?  
All I can say is, in a world where most people seem to like warmed-up stump-water (weak coffee), this household had it right.    
I realize, of course, that it's all a matter of opinion.  My mother-in-law used to come to my house and fill her cup half-full of water, then pour coffee from the pot to fill the cup.  Yuck.  My sister-in-law next door is the same way.    
Anyhow, when you are the visitor, you take what you get and shut up; but the coffee I got during my stay in Georgia was to my liking.    
Another thing I don't care for (besides stump-water) is flavored coffee.  Oh, I like the McDonald's Frappe, but that isn't coffee:  it's dessert.  I don't even like regular coffee from a pot that's recently had flavored coffee brewed it in, because the nasty taste is still there.  I use plain, generic coffee-creamer; that's the only additive I want.    
Lest I forget, for those times when you just want one cup of coffee and don't want to wait forever, Jim and Deb have a Keureg.  
Cliff had a cup of Keureg-brewed coffee the evening of our arrival and said it was great.  Later on I found out those little individual K-cups cost about 75 cents each.  Wow!  For one cup of coffee!  
I finally allowed myself one cup of Keureg coffee; yes, it's very good.  It would be convenient to have a machine that makes one excellent cup of coffee, when you want it, in a matter of seconds.  But I only allow $280 each month for groceries.  I can't devote that much of it to coffee.  
I think we're doing fine with our Bunn, as long as we use good coffee in it.  
Besides, I really don't have counter space to have two coffee pots sitting around.  

Methinks I doth protest too much.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A cat named Possum

Four years ago when we visited our son in Georgia, I bonded with their cat.
I had no intention of doing so.  It just happened.  
When I'm a visitor in anybody's home, I am usually the first one up in the morning, rising between 5 and 6 A.M.  The one resident at my son's house who greeted me each day when I went to the kitchen to make coffee was Possum the Pussycat.  I did a blog entry about her back then.  

She was a fine, fat cat.  She would meow a "good morning", and I would reply.  We had some great conversations, she and I.  Although she was seventeen years old at the time, you would never have guessed it.
During our visit this year, she and I still had our morning conversations.  She's twenty-one years old, hard of hearing, and blind in one eye; but she greeted me politely each day.   

She's much thinner, although she seems to feel just fine, thank-you-very-much.  I'd find her on her favorite chair when I walked through the living room, and she would soon follow me to the kitchen.  After we had our usual conversation, she invariably went down the hall to the door of the bedroom where my son and daughter-in-law sleep.  

There she would sit, acting as though she thought if she stared at the door long enough, it would finally swing open.  

We humans discussed, several times, the fact that Possum can't possibly have much time left.  At one point I made the mistake of mentioning "Possum" and "death" in the same sentence in the presence of Deb's six-year-old granddaughter, Morgan.  

That's Morgan, in back, posing for a picture with her little sister.  She is eternally happy, unless you mention that somebody is going to die before long.  I don't even want to talk about how worried she was at the mention of Possum's mortality.  When it was time for her family to go home, she tearfully gave Possum a goodbye hug.  
Somebody just shoot me.  
Here's a video I made of Morgan in 2007 that I absolutely love.  Back then, she didn't know about death; she only wanted to be able to put her pants on all by herself.  It's a shame we have to lose our innocence at such a young age. 

Honey, we're home

We spent Thanksgiving with our son in Columbus, Georgia, this year.  Wow, what a long drive; it's somewhere between 800 and 850 miles one way.  We drove straight through on the way down.  We ended up traveling in the dark for over three hours, and Cliff hates that.  I read aloud most of the way down, which really makes the time go by fast.  We read "Now You See Her" by James Patterson and finished "Mudbound", which I'd started on a road trip some time back.  If you read "The Help" and liked it, you will like "Mudbound".  I was hoarse from all those hours of reading by the time we got to Georgia, let me tell you.  

That's Debbie, Lyndsay (my youngest grandchild), and our son, Jim.  

Friday we were all surfing the Internet together (the highs were in the 70's all the time we were there) and I wanted a picture of all that techie activity.  Since I couldn't be taking the picture and still be in the picture, a neighbor boy took my place.  

Lyndsay with neighbor kids.  

 Some of my son's grandchildren are shy, but not these two.  In this picture, I'm showing Morgan and Cambry (not sure of the spelling) some pictures on my Ipad.  
I took dozens of pictures while we were there, but I am pretty sure the general public doesn't want to see every single one.  

Cliff and Lyndsay getting in a few hugs our last evening in Columbus.

Coming home, we drove as far as St. Louis yesterday and stopped to spend the night at Cliff's sister's house.  That got us out of driving in the dark; this morning we headed home, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

For your Sunday

I was raised in the Church of Christ.  We didn't believe in instrumental music at church.  We learned at an early age to sing our parts.  I LOVED singing my alto part.  I personally have no problem with instruments of any kind in worship, but sometimes I miss the simplicity of a cappella singing.  Here are some examples of what I grew up with.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The old chat room

Back in 1998 when we got our first computer, I had read and heard plenty about the dangers of chat rooms; I swore that nobody would catch me entering such a cyber-trap.  
But of course, my curiosity got the best of me, and I cautiously clicked into an AOL chat.  The words were scrolling up the screen so fast it was impossible to read them all, and half of what I saw there was foul language and links to porn sites.  I clicked out quickly.   
One day I found myself reading an article on an AOL Christian community website when I noticed there were some chat rooms associated with the site.  I clicked into a couple of them and saw some actual conversations scrolling up the screen.  One was for women, one for men... I forget the various chats that were there, but one was "Christians 50+".  
There weren't a lot of people using that chat during most of the day.  Early in the morning it was pretty much the same cozy group, and we'd wake up together with coffee and pleasant conversation.  In the evening things got hectic in the chat room, and troublemakers sometimes showed up; but our morning chats were great.  
Thinking back, I realize how many of my old friends from the room have died.  
After the chat room disintegrated into chaos, I still kept in touch with several of my favorite people.  I don't do live chats or IM's these days, but I do have Facebook conversations with some of them.  
One of my old chat friends is Lori, who lives in Louisiana.  She is responsible for this stroll down memory lane.  Lori wasn't fifty-plus years old, but she hung out in the chat room with us seniors quite a bit.  Back then she had one little boy named Danny who was four years old.  She was, I believe, the same age as my daughter.  
This morning Lori posted a picture of Danny on Facebook.  He's seventeen, and all grown up.  I asked her, "Who stole your little boy and replaced him with a man?"  
I wouldn't take anything for my pleasant chat room memories.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Last year on Facebook, I made an attempt to post something for which I was thankful each day in November leading up to Thanksgiving.  I started out with gusto.  
By the time Thanksgiving Day arrived, I was boring myself.  Not for lack of reasons to be thankful; it's just that posting some different thing day after day, as though it were a job, just gets to be mundane.  
This year I saved my thankfulness for this one day, and I won't need to list that many items.  
I am thankful that in a huge world, this solitary and peculiar person found someone to love her.  
I am SO very thankful for my upbringing and my past:  for the parents and uncles and aunts and cousins and children and grandchildren God blessed me with.  They made me who I am, for better or worse.  They are with me, in me, in every breath I take.  
I am thankful that I am able to see and hear.  The older I get, the more I appreciate those gifts, because I've seen relatives lose them.  What a dreary world it must be to one who can't see or hear.  
I am thankful for the Internet, my window on the world.  I am thankful for all the friends I have made on this information highway, because honestly, with the exception of my husband, they are my only friends.  I have always a hermit and a loner, but somehow it's been easier to share my world with my Internet friends; we got to know one another without judging by appearances.    
One of my dearest Internet friends recently sent me an email that expresses how I feel at this stage of my life, and I'd like to share it here.  I wish I could give credit to the author, but I haven't found who that is.  

You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.
It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. And yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.
I know that I lived them all…
And I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams… But, here it is.. the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise… How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?
I remember well… seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like…  But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting gray…they move slower and I see an older person now. Lots are in better shape than me… but, I see the great change…  Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant… but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.
Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day!  And taking a nap is not a treat anymore…it’s mandatory!  Cause if I don’t on my own free will..I just fall asleep where I sit!
And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!!
But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over…its over….Yes , I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done ,,,,,things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done.  It’s all in a lifetime….
So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly!  Don’t put things off too long!!
Life goes by quickly.  So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!
You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life.. so, live for good today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember… and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!
‘Life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.
Make it a fantastic one.’

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Need a little help from my friends

I have bad feet.  BIG bad feet.  I've gone barefoot my whole life, only putting on shoes when I have to wear them.  I had my toenails permanently removed to get rid of fungus.  Yes friends, my feet are hideous.    
I went to visit Flylady this morning and was reminded that she wants me to put on shoes as soon as I get out of bed.  Her theory seems to be that if you dress for work, you're more likely to actually work, and there is some truth to that.  
Here's the problem.  I can't seem to find any shoes that are comfortable.  Years ago when we first began walking for exercise, Cliff and I discovered Nike Oceanas; they were so comfy, they could have been house shoes.  
Once Nike stopped making Oceanas, they haven't come up with another shoe that suits us.  
I don't mind paying a decent price for shoes, but I'd like them to feel good.  
If you, my readers, have any suggestions as to a comfortable shoe, I'd like to hear it.  After all, my readers steered me right on toilet paper; let's hear what kind of shoes you favor.  Keep in mind that I need a size that is larger than 10, so if their size range only goes to 10, those shoes are not an option.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stuff I've posted on Facebook lately

 We went to my granddaughter's basketball game last night.  She made a couple of valuable moves.  That's her on the far right.

We have a water softener, and we always flush.  But for some reason both bathroom stools had a brown ring at water level.  I had tried EVERYTHING to remove it.  I had tried every formula Google had to offer.  Nothing seemed to faze these nasty-looking rings.  In a last-ditch attempt at the search for an answer, I saw the mention of pumice.  I've never had any kind of experience with pumice, although I've read that it's good for smoothing up rough feet or something like that. 
I bought the above stuff, and it took off the stubborn stains in twenty seconds.  I tried it on a rust stain on my stainless steel kitchen sink.  It took it off.  
Now everybody knows I'm not Miss Good Housekeeping, so maybe I'm the last person on earth to hear about this product.  But if you haven't tried it, you should.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Highlight of my morning

In case someone thinks we are having problems with Thanksgiving plans this year (due to the previous mini-entry), we aren't.  Oh, there's always a wee bit of dysfunction involved in any holiday, but nobody is angry or hurt this year, so far as I know; as much as anything, it's the memory of previous years that makes me think about holiday planning problems.  Another thing: How do you like my new header picture?  Can you see me peeking around the tree?  I loved the tractor picture, but it just wasn't "me".  And now, on to some "fancy" poetry.
Coffee.  Wonderful coffee.  I cherish it so highly that I wrote two separate (mediocre) poems about it in one year.

© copyright September 18, 2003
Donna Wood

If nothing else should come my way
Worth mentioning in rhyme today,
At least the coffee in my cup
Gave me some cheer, and woke me up.

If, when I get to work today,
My tasks fill me with some dismay,
I will remember (as I should)
The coffee that I drank was good!

The experts say, “Give up caffeine.”
Such a proposal is obscene!
When I drink coffee before dawn,
It gives me reason to go on.

Life's little pleasures are the best
And help us, as we meet each test.
Thank God for each day I wake up...
And for the coffee in my cup!

(c) copyright May 22, 2003
Donna Wood

Who figured out you could make a brew
To cheer you so, when the day is new?
Who, in Africa, munched a bean
And felt effects of the drug, caffeine?

I’ve read that a man was herding sheep
That ate the berries, then couldn't sleep.
Then monks found out they'd stay awake
If they took a little "coffee break".

Turks were the first to brew the drink
That cheered the heart, and helped them think.
Then Arabs took it for their own:
Its taste and powers became world-known.

Here's to coffee, much maligned...
But a boon to man- (and woman-) kind.
When it's hard to rise and greet the dawn,
My cup of coffee takes me on.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The holidays do seem to bring out the "dysfunctional" in the families, don't they?  
We all do the little dance, trying to invite the proper folks so that no feelings will be hurt.  
We juggle the invitations, trying to decide which one we should accept so as to hurt the fewest feelings.  
Of course, the person with more than one invite wonders whose feelings will be hurt when she picks one.

And we wonder why people get depressed during the holiday season?  Give me a break.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shows I loved when I was a kid

Pinky Lee

Captain Kangaroo

Rin Tin Tin


My personal favorite, the Lone Ranger.

Roy Rogers

Wild Bill Hickock

Just wait awhile; it will change.

That's what everyone says about Missouri weather, and it's an accurate statement.  However, as I look back, I realize it applies to life in general.  
In 1975 we moved into an old two-story house on six-and-a-half acres.  It wasn't as much land as I wanted, but it was what we could afford at the time.  It was obvious to me that I'd have to learn to be happy with what we had.  
Then in 1986, the neighbor next door, Tim, decided to relocate and sell his house and sixty-plus acres.  Marvin, whose parents used to own that place, wanted the house but had no use for land.  We talked to Tim about a per-acre price.  Our finances just wouldn't allow us to buy all the land, but we felt we could handle the thirty-seven acres directly north of our property, so we refinanced, had it surveyed, and fenced it. Marvin took the rest of the land, about seventeen acres.  
This was an opportunity I wouldn't have expected in my wildest dreams, but there you have it.  We now had forty-three acres!  
Next, I spent years dreaming of being wealthy enough to build a house back off the road, away from the traffic and the people; a place with some sort of view besides somebody else's mess.  
We never became wealthy, but by hook or by crook (and good credit), we ended up in a used mobile home back here behind the barn.  I have a view now, and I got away from all the foot traffic across the yard.  
As it turns out, I'd have lost the foot traffic anyhow.  
For ten years or so, I felt I had no privacy.  The kids on the west would travel through our yard to visit the kids on the east, and visa versa, peering in our windows as they passed and later telling me what they saw ("I didn't know you had a TV in your bedroom").  We had that hideous rental trailer on the other side of our driveway, and the kids on the east and west often merged with the kids in the trailer, sometimes partying in the yard all night long.  If I stepped out the door, it seemed as though I had to answer to some kid who wanted to know where I was going and what I was going to do next.    
I may as well have lived in town.
Today the rental trailer is gone (one of the few changes that was actually of our own doing), Marvin's family, on the west, abandoned their four-year-old monstrosity of a house, and one of the families on the east abandoned their home also.  The only time neighbor kids come around is when they visit Cliff in his shop; yes, even the neighbor kids who no longer live here visit Cliff from time to time.  Where else can you go to change a tire or work on your dirt bike?  None of them care these days where I'm going or what I'm doing.  
At present the thing that bugs me is the unkept appearance of the abandoned homes on either side of us.  Siding is blowing off one, and the roof is blowing off the other.  Both are surrounded by weeds.  (Yes, I do get what I'm saying:  I wanted rid of the kids in the yard and they're gone, so now I'm complaining about the empty houses.  Obviously I cannot be satisfied.)  
But just when it starts to bug me that our property is skirted by shabby yards and ghost houses, I remind myself how quickly and completely things can change, with absolutely no intervention from me.  All the things I used to fret about fixed themselves.  My worrying and fuming didn't serve any good purpose.  The neighbor who once falsely accused me of killing her rooster, standing at my door and cussing me out at the top of her lungs, lives in town now, and greets me cheerfully when we happen to meet, as though we're old friends.  
As for the abandoned houses, who knows what might happen in two or three years' time?  Maybe we'll get some neighbors who actually mow their yards and aren't visited regularly by the cops.  
Now here's a confession:  I rather miss the excitement of hearing gunshots after dark and all the loud cursing that used to go on to the west.  I miss looking over there thinking, "Now what are they up to?"
I had my own real-life soap opera/reality show, and I didn't appreciate it.  We never realize what we have until it's gone.  
Whatever happens, I can guarantee you that things will change.  All I have to do is stay alive long enough to see it.
Oh, and let's hope the change is for the better.  Because we all know it can go either way.  
I just happen to have been extremely lucky thus far.   

One less deer to tear up my electric fence

Grandson Arick got his deer yesterday evening.  It has a strange set of antlers:  three points on one side, five on the other.  So it doesn't make a perfect trophy.  Since Cliff is an experienced butcher, he went ahead and skinned it for him.  The butcher shop closed before they got it done, so they quartered it and put it in trash bags for Arick to put in his freezer overnight.  Silly boy left his deer tag at home, so it's a good thing the deer police weren't around, ready to pounce.

That was our evening's excitement.  It took Arick and Cliff forever to get the beast back to the house.  After being shot, the deer had jumped the fence and run along the railroad track behind our place, putting quite a bit of distance between himself and our property before he died.  So he had to be dragged quite a way through weeds and muck.  There's no way to get a vehicle into that area.  Once they got him on our property, the tractor bore the prize home.  

Thursday Cliff's older brother, Phil, came for a work-day.  Every once in awhile they get together at our place or Phil's and help one another with whatever needs doing.  Cliff had a disk in need of repair, so they fixed that.  After I fed them cheeseburgers and snickerdoodles, they went to the back of the place and got some wood up that Cliff will use to heat his shop this winter.  

The farmer who found Cliff's ad on Craigslist for the Oliver fenders came to pick them up that day.  Iris was curious about the dog in the back of his truck.  

Cliff had the fenders painted and secured on a pallet, ready to go.  (I'm seeing a smudge on this picture; I just recently replaced a camera that put a smudge on every picture.  I certainly hope this one is on the outside and will wipe off!)  

The farmer's friend drooled all over Cliff's 1855.  

This guy has three tractors for Cliff to paint, if he should ever decide to do that for extra cash.  He also has some Steiger tractors:  He said he'd be willing to teach Cliff how to operate them and turn him loose in the field.  Cliff saw those beasts; they are so big they dwarf the 1855.   
It's been an eventful couple of days, and the weekend is just getting started.  
Oh, we heard nothing from the man in Iowa, so I still have "my" tractor.  Cliff plans to paint it before long, and then the guy will be out of luck if he decides he wants it, unless he wants to pay a much higher price.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Some Iowa guy on a tractor message board mentioned that he and his grandson were looking for a 550 Oliver that they could restore together; after checking with Cliff to see if it was OK, I posted Cliff's email address on the board and told the man Cliff had two of them, as well as a Super 55 (a similar tractor).  
He contacted Cliff and then they talked on the phone.  Cliff priced the best 550 for $3,500... it's my favorite, and the one he was going to paint next... and the more worn-out one for $1,200.  The man and his grandson drove all the way from Iowa to look at the tractors, and he talked like he'd be back after MY tractor, the good 550 Oliver; perhaps today.  No cash changed hands, however, and he hasn't called back.  
I haven't decided whether I want this guy to show up or not:  I personally talked Cliff into driving clear to Kansas to get that tractor!  It has power steering, something that's hard to find on an Oliver 550 tractor.  I've been looking forward to seeing it painted up like new.    
On the other hand, if both tractors, the cheaper one and the more expensive one, were painted and restored, they'd look identical sitting side by side.  What's power steering to me?  I don't drive the tractors around here.  For that matter, what's power steering to Cliff?  He wouldn't be using the tractor for farm work; he has a perfectly good John Deere for that.  So if the man buys my favorite tractor, it really doesn't matter.  
I should mention that Cliff has offered to call the guy and tell him he's changed his mind about selling that particular tractor.  I feel as though if someone comes all that distance (400 miles round trip) to look at a tractor, it wouldn't be right to back out now. 
We'll see if MY tractor stays or goes.  I'm going to assume that whatever happens is for the best, because that's usually how things work around here.  
As a result of posting Cliff's email on the message board, he also got a couple of inquiries asking whether he ever paints tractors for other people; they have seen the pictures of his 1855.  He is not so sure about doing this because he has no idea how to price his services. 

Yesterdays steak turned out just dandy, if a wee bit overdone.  It was tender and tasty.  
Iris is still sleeping in the bedroom.  She doesn't even get out of her bed until we are both out of bed, and at one point yesterday she was in there during the day, instead of in the computer room with me.  Who knows what goes through their little doggy-brains?  
Jody no longer has a headache and has forgotten she ever had those little nubbins of horns.  She already looks much better without them.  She is the color of a purebred Jersey, but the shape of her head shows her Holstein genes.  
Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow could be bred any time, but I haven't witnessed her showing signs of heat.  Come on, Bonnie!  Get with the program.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Until the last couple of years, I have been a failure at cooking steaks.  It all goes back to the days when I wanted my meat well-done; if there was the tiniest bit of pink in the middle of the meat, forget it.  I've since learned that steak well-done isn't usually a good idea.  
Even if I had been able to do a good job of cooking steak, who can afford it?  So I've stuck with roasts, something economical that isn't so easy to ruin.  
When we took Sir Loin to the butcher shop, we had him mostly put into ground beef; the only steaks we saved were the fillets, because they are tender no matter what.  You see, we had never had such a young, grass-fed animal butchered.  He hadn't been fed any grain, and we were afraid the meat would be tough (remember, I didn't know how to cook steak anyhow).  Cliff had the best roasts saved, but mostly we had a freezer full of ground beef.  That isn't a bad thing:  ground beef is versatile; you can make meat loaf, chili, tacos, stuffed peppers... the possibilities are endless.  
Once we tasted the steak we had saved from Sir Loin, we realized we had made a mistake.  That grass- and milk-fed steer was as tender and tasty as could be.  
So when we butchered Clyde this year, we saved lots of steaks and roasts.  
A year ago, with the help of the Internet, I managed to cook some steak without ruining it.  Oh, baby!  I closed my eyes and thought I was at Outback.  It just goes to show that you are never too old to learn.  
Of course, those steaks were fillets, the most tender cut in existance.  Today I will branch out.  
I'm cooking sirloin steak.  
From what I'm seeing on the Internet, it can be cooked just like fillets; I'm a little concerned at the words, "Sirloin steak is a cut that's easy to overcook."  
One recipe suggests using a meat mallet on it, but the other recipes make me think that shouldn't be necessary.  
I found a marinade that I'm going to use; perhaps that will insure tenderness.  

I have harped all summer on my lousy tomato crop.  While the vines went wild, the tomatoes produced were few and far between.  Most of them rotted before they could ripen.  There weren't enough to can, although I did freeze some whole, in baggies.  I've always heard you could do this, but had never tried it.  It works like a charm, and is easy to do.  I've used some of them in taco soup.  
A couple of weeks ago, with frost threatening, I brought in some green tomatoes I planned on frying.  Before I could get around to using them, though, they ripened, right there on the counter.  I tasted one, and it was just like a fresh summer tomato.  I brought more inside, and we are still eating delicious tomatoes.  It's good to know those vines are finally giving me back a little something for my efforts.  

And in non-food-related news, my granddaughter Monica turned sixteen yesterday; to celebrate the day, she went and took her driver's test... and PASSED!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jody lost her horns today

Ideally, a calf should be dehorned shortly after birth.  Back when I raised calves, we used dehorning paste for the job:  You shave the area around the horn (where it would be when it starts growing, because baby calves don't have horns yet) and apply the paste.  We just didn't get around to doing that with Jody.  So she will have a headache for a few hours.  

Take a good look at those horns; it's the last time you'll be seeing them.  

The vet brings the chute to the farm for a charge; the animal is completely immobilized for dehorning.  

Off come the horns, one at a time.  

This was cheap!  Another vet I called wanted to charge $100 for the farm visit.  We had Jody vaccinated and dewormed, too.  Hopefully, she will not be needing the services of a vet again.   
If you wonder why I wanted her dehorned, for one thing it makes her worth more if I sell her.  Also, a cow can hurt you with her horns, not meaning to do so:  Old Suzy, my first milk cow, once swung her head at flies while I was petting her and gave me a black eye.  
Besides, they're prettier without horns.   

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A family weekend

A couple of Cliff's cousins visited this weekend.  
Cliff has lots of fun memories of visiting Aunt Juanita and playing with her boys, Art and Doc.  That's Art and his sweet gentle wife, Lois; she's seventy-mumble and still working.  Some of her younger co-workers call her Grandma, and ask her when she's going to retire.  We've seen them at a couple of gatherings in the past two years, but we've always met at Golden Corral.  You can't have a good visit at a restaurant.  
Since they called and said they were paying us a visit, Cliff's brother, Don, came all the way from Kansas.  He and his wife spent the night at Cliff's sister's house next door.  

Edna, another cousin of Cliff's, spent the night at our house.  If Cliff looks strange in this picture, it's because he's eating corn bread and I told him to quit chewing for a minute.  Edna likes my corn bread, too.  
Now I have to tell you, Edna is in her late 70's and doesn't make a habit of traveling a hundred miles to visit somebody; so we were honored to have her.  I would never have gotten well acquainted with Edna had it not been for the Internet.  I knew who she was. because we used to visit her mother, Cliff's Aunt Margaret, when we were newlyweds.  But I didn't know her as a person until we began our email correspondence.  I love this woman.    

We all had fun talking about old times.  (Iris gave Cliff her ball and was waiting for him to throw it; it's all about her, you know.)

You should have seen these two characters clowning around... Cousin Art and Cliff's brother, Don.

Even the oldest grandson was here; it's deer season, you know.  He was waiting until later in the day to hunt.  

Since Cliff's sister had been shopping all day (along with Don's wife), we went to her house after she finally got home; Edna wanted to see Rena, and meet Donald's wife.  Just call us (me, Edna, and Cliff) the three stooges

This is Edna's mother, Cliff's Aunt Margaret: Look at the previous picture... can you see the resemblance?  

Of course, the icing on the cake was when my daughter and her family showed up today with our great-granddaughter.  I wish all of you could have such an intelligent, beautiful great-granddaughter.  But of course, they broke the mold when mine was born.  
I jest.  
Even for a loner like me, family weekends are special.  

Did I mention that a former neighbor kid got a deer while hunting on our place?  
Life is good.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fool me once, shame on you

Anyone who has followed my blog for long knows how much I love Iris Dement's songs.  I used to search the Internet reading everything about her that I could, just trying to get to know her.  One of the items on my bucket list was to see her live, in person.  Preferably with John Prine.
Back when she was living in Kansas City, she never seemed to perform close to home.  I'd watch her schedule and see that she was in New England, California, and even across the ocean in Great Britain a time or two.  Eventually I saw she had an appearance scheduled in Iowa City, Iowa.  Now that isn't anywhere near close to home, but it was as close to home as she'd performed since I'd become a fan.  You can read about the whole fiasco HERE, but to make a long story short, she was a no-show.  We wasted time and spent money on gasoline and a motel for nothing.  What made it so bad was that Cliff can't stand Iris' singing; he was doing it all for me.  As you can imagine, that didn't make him like her any better.
During that period of time, Iris cancelled several shows, supposedly because of her health.  I mentioned this in my old blog; a lady whose opinion I respect had this to say:  "Canceling an hour before showtime sounds like her peeps couldn't get her clean and sober enough to roll her out on stage. Too bad.  Mrs. L"  
Shortly after that, I listened to a live Internet broadcast of an Iris Dement performance.  She sure sounded as though she was under the influence of something at the time.  
I still love to listen to Iris sing; when I shuffle my Ipod, she comes up often.
A few weeks ago I saw that Iris Dement was scheduled to perform in Kansas City, and at first I was excited, and checked with my oldest granddaughter to see if she'd accompany me to the concert and be my driver; she said yes, even though I warned her she'd hate it.
But it only took me an hour to remember how much trouble and expense was involved that time we went to Iowa City and she didn't show.  Not that I think she'll pull that again, but why should I give her a dollar of our (admittedly sparse) funds after she cost us so much that time?
According to THIS ARTICLE, there is finally another Iris Dement CD in the works.  I can't wait!  Of course, I WILL wait until somebody sells it cheap on, because Iris owes me, if nothing else, an apology.  None of my money is going into her pocketbook.  
Do I think this little boycott will damage her?  No way.  Do I think this rant on Blogger will hurt her reputation?  Good heavens no.  
But I feel better.  

I think the recorded show where she sounded loopy can be found HERE.  You have to download it to listen, though (it's free and legal, and over an hour-and-a-half long).  Her guitar is just out-of-tune enough to bug me, and I don't have that great an ear.  Once she goes to the piano, she sounds much better.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh deer...

We hadn't seen many deer all spring and summer, but now that they're out looking for love, we're seeing plenty of them.  
Cliff and I walk in the midst of deer every day when we're out for exercise, but since we're usually chatting, the deer know we're coming and lay low.  We often see spots where they've bedded down for the night, and after a rain we see lots of hoof prints.
The other day I was calling Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow up to the barn; she was off to the north and began slowly making her way to me, mooing with every other step.  (She thinks I only feed her to shut her up, so she is very vocal.)  Max-the-calf was following a few yards behind her.  
As I watched them approach, a deer trotted by them headed in the opposite direction, passing not ten feet away from Bonnie; she didn't even give him a second look, and he didn't acknowledge her.  He just kept going north.  Max stopped and watched the deer as it went by, then suddenly turned and started chasing it.  
Who knows what goes through their silly heads?  Maybe Max thought it was an ugly long-lost relative.  
I do know we've mended electric fence almost every other day lately.  Deer, like cattle and horses, learn where the electric fences are; it doesn't deter them as it does livestock, but they leap over the fences easily once they know where they are.  This time of year when a deer's fancy turns to love, bucks and does unfamiliar with our property and blinded by lust are running through those wires and breaking them at an unbelievable rate.  
We've seen plenty of the critters lately, most of them within sight of our house.  I enjoy seeing them, I'm just tired of mending electric fences.  
Deer season starts Saturday, and Ryan, a young man who used to live next door, is going to hunt on our property.  I wish him the best of luck.   

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In case you didn't see me post this picture on Facebook

Our daughter, Rachel, had a big picture of Cliff's prize tractor done where she works; we framed it yesterday, and there it is on the wall behind Cliff.  He's really proud of that gift. 

You can see that Iris is watching TV with her ball handy:  In case any bird or animal shows up on the screen, she will grab the ball and run to the TV, holding it in her mouth, growling viciously as she chews on the ball.  Because she used to physically attack the television, we started telling her to get her ball each time she did it.  That way, she only bites on the ball and leaves the TV alone.  We still have to listen to the growling, but our television escapes injury.  Most of the time these days, we don't have to tell her to get the ball; she grabs it as she gets up to run to the television.  
I'm sure we could break her from this behavior, but it amuses me.  Cesar Millan ("I rehabilitate dogs, I train people") probably wouldn't approve, but that's his problem.  
Iris is a dog fully of neuroses and conflicts which, I'm sure, began in her younger days at her original home, wherever that was.  
Here's the latest strange thing with Iris:  Since we got her eighteen months ago, she has never wanted to sleep on the floor next to our bed, which is where I like my dog to sleep.  When we first got her I didn't know what sort of behavior to expect, and I kenneled her next to the bed; I figured that alone would train her to sleep there.  
Nope.  When I took the kennel to the garage, she began sleeping on the cold floor in my bathroom, about as far away from our bedroom as she could get.  For awhile I actually snapped on her leash and attached it to the library table beside the bed so she would be forced to stay beside me; she acted so mistreated that after a few nights of this I released her.  Finally she accepted the dog bed in the computer room, where she spent time while I was at the keyboard; she began spending her nights there too, unless it was raining or storming; then she hid in Cliff's tub.  
When she was sick Friday night and I had cleaned up the mess and crawled back in bed, she kept hanging around at my bedside.  So I got her bed from the computer room and put it at my bedside, where she curled up and slept the rest of the night.  When she spent a second night in that spot, I washed that dog bed and another one, so she'd have one in the bedroom and one in the computer room.  Maybe she was finally ready to sleep near me at night.  
She didn't like the clean beds, either of them.  But since she got them "broke in", she's using both:  one at our bedside when we're in bed, the other in the computer room when I'm in here.  
After all this time and all my efforts, she's finally sleeping where I intended.  
If you wonder why I even care where she sleeps, I once read a book, "The Second-Hand Dog", that suggested if you are away from home during the day and feel sorry for your dog being alone for so long, one way of bonding with him is to have him sleep next to your bed at night.  Some sort of "pack" thing.  When I first got my previous dog, Sadie, I put her bed in the kitchen; when I awoke on her first morning with us, she was as close to my bed as she could be, and that's where she spent the nights from then on.  And now, Iris is there too.  Maybe she's just showing her appreciation for me cleaning up that horrible mess at 2 A.M.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Winning friends and influencing people

Yesterday I told how a guy came to buy tractor fenders from Cliff, after seeing them listed on Craigslist.  I thought it was great that Cliff met a like-minded fellow who lives so nearby.  
I'll bet some of you think this is where I tell you the guy was a crook; we've all heard those awful Craigslist stories, haven't we?  But no, he was the real deal.
Last night, Cliff got a phone call from a stranger, a friend of the fellow who is buying the fenders.  Seems they have a tractor club, and this guy wants Cliff to join.  
Cliff has intended to join a tractor club ever since he retired, he just hadn't gotten around to it.  
Even though this club is mostly based on tractor-pulling, and that isn't Cliff's main interest, he's going to join anyhow, because if these guys like tractors they are his kind of guys.  This man suggested Cliff take the 1855 somewhere to a tractor pull they are planning, but of course we don't have the kind of equipment it takes to haul a 10,000 pound tractor around.  
The club is getting together this Saturday.  Cliff had to decline that particular meeting because we have company coming, but he'll plan to be free the next time.   
Meanwhile, the caller wants to come and look at the beautiful 1855 his friend told him about.    

*Cliff never joined that club.  We joined the Mid-Mo Tractor Club.

Monday, November 07, 2011

And in the e-reader race, Nook once again takes the lead!

The other day I did a blog entry saying e-readers are getting cheaper.  I raved about the fact that there is now a $79 Kindle, which I thought blew Nook out of the running.  Then an Internet friend pointed out the fact that if someone bought the cheap Kindle, they'd have to put up with ads all the time.  OK, so the Nook was going to cost considerably more, but it would probably be worth $30 or so to avoid ads.  
Today I got the news that Nook has reduced the price of the basic reader to $99.  Read about it HERE.  Oh, and there are no ads to deal with.  

Patsy, aren't you glad you haven't bought your Nook yet?

They sold their fenders for HOW MUCH?

When Cliff bought the money pit Oliver 1855, it had decent fenders on it, no big dings or dents.  However, he had been studying pictures of Oliver tractors on the Internet and decided he wanted fuel tank fenders on his tractor; not that he could ever afford enough diesel to fill them up, and not that he'd ever need a huge load of fuel.  He simply liked the looks of them.  We went to Cook Tractor so he could look through their junk fine used equipment and parts, and found what he was looking for.  

He paid $400 for the set; this came directly out of his tractor fund, so it didn't affect me.  This is his dream tractor; let him fix it up like he wants it.  
The other day Cliff saw some fuel tank fenders sell on Ebay for $800, so I guess he got a good deal on the ones he bought. 
About a month ago, he had me list the regular fenders on Craigslist, the ones that were on the tractor when he bought it; he asked $400 for them.  We bumped the ad up a time or two, but nobody had called about them until yesterday.  It was a guy who lives less than ten miles from here, and he wanted to come and look at the fenders.  
Turns out the guy is a fairly big-time farmer and is addicted to Olivers, just like Cliff is.  He's going to Tennessee before long to pick up a 2255 he bought down there.  
The guy drooled all over Cliff's big Ollie, said he'd never seen one look so good.  
Now, when you get two tractor addicts together, they're going to be talking awhile.  The guy was here over an hour.  He didn't leave with the fenders, because he told Cliff he'd give him an extra $100 bucks to paint them.  So, $500 will go back into the tractor fund, and Cliff made a new friend.  
Not a bad deal at all.  

Now if somebody would come and buy that 1655 we have listed on Craigslist, Cliff's tractor fund would be right back where it was two years ago.  

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The new header picture

About my new header picture:  Of course I have already posted pictures of the finished Oliver 1855 project, but our daughter has a professional-quality camera, and Cliff wanted some real glamour shots of his tractor.  She took a LOT of pictures and posted them on Facebook.

The picture my son chose as the best one had one little flaw; a green metal stool had been left in place after Cliff used it to climb up and put a different pipe on the tractor.  He suggested that Rachel have somebody photoshop the stool out of the picture.  Since Rachel works for a company that does photo-processing for professional photographers, she has the resources and knows the right people to work such magic, and the resulting photo is the one on the header.   Here's a slideshow of most of the pictures she took that day.  Unless you are a tractor aficionado, you'll probably want to skip the slideshow.

Toward the end, you'll see some pretty young ladies in the pictures; they are granddaughters Natalie and Monica.

First thing I read this morning on the Internet was that there was an earthquake in Oklahoma, and that it was felt by some in Kansas City.  Now that's getting a little too close to home.  Many years ago when we lived on our first acreage, Cliff and I were lying in bed one morning and felt a small earthquake.  What a strange feeling.  (Added later:  Cliff tells me he felt the quake last night and thought the dog was under the couch moving it, which would have been a feat in itself because our couch only clears the floor by about an inch.  I was asleep by then, therefore blissfully ignorant.)

Iris is 100% herself, back to watching TV with us and attacking any animals that show up on the screen.  Last night I knew she was fine when she started devouring the dog food that had been untouched for twenty-four hours.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Random: sick dog, Rolex watches, Internet friends

I was awakened at 2 A.M. this morning by Cliff saying, "What's the matter with that crazy dog, anyway?"  
It isn't unusual for Iris to have a restless night and jump in and out of the tub in the bathroom off our bedroom, so I just rolled over to go back to sleep... and then smelled dog-breath.  Peeking through barely-open eyelids, I saw Iris had her front feet on the bed next to me and had her nose about two inches from mine.
First I told her to go to bed, but then I thought better of it and got up to see what was going on.  I followed her through the dark living room and let her outside.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized there was "something" on the carpet in three places:  Obviously I had a dog with a tummy-ache.  I let Iris back inside when she scratched on the door, and moved her bed from the computer room into the bedroom, right beside my bed.  Normally she refuses to sleep at my bedside, but this time she seemed happy to be there and curled up in a tight ball.  I guess it's true, misery loves company.  I did a quick Spot-Shot scrub of the soiled places on the carpet and went back to bed, but I only dozed a little the rest of the night.  I'm not worried about my dog just yet; dogs do get bellyaches sometimes.   

We were watching Law and Order SVU this week.  We record all our shows on DVR so we can zap the commercials, but I couldn't help but notice that the main sponsor of the show now is Rolex.  I even stopped the DVR so I could watch a commercial.  
Don't these people know we're in a recession?  Who can afford thousands of dollars for a watch, in a day and age where nobody wears a watch any more?  Someone on Facebook pointed out that lawyers like to wear Rolex watches (status symbol, I guess).  But surely real-life lawyers don't waste their time watching Law and Order SVU.  I'd think they have enough criminal action in real life.  
A little searching online tells me that Rolex watches can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000.  I can think of so many other good things I'd do with that much money.  

Let's think about blogging friends for awhile.  You know, about the way we get to feeling as though we know a person whose blog we've followed for years.  
I've read "My Life and Times" for quite a long time.  Patsy lives in Arkansas, is retired, and has some physical limitations that keep her mostly house-bound.  Her opinions on politics make me smile, and sometimes laugh out loud.  She often mentions her relatives, especially her sisters, a couple of whom have their own blogs.  In her blog, she calls them by name; but when they comment, they are Sister-three or The Fourth Sister, etc.  So I'm trying to figure out which sister is which all the time, because I'm beginning to feel like I know this whole family.  Some of the comments they leave on one another's blog entries are hilarious.  
They all gathered at a funeral recently and a picture was taken of the group; I left a comment for one sister that I was curious as to what names went with the faces, and she satisfied my curiosity by posting the picture with the names written on each person.  I saved it on my desktop; now when Patsy mentions a sister by name, I double-click on that picture and see who she is talking about.    
When I do things like this, Cliff says to me, "You gotta get OUT this house!"  

We won't mention his obsession with Craigslist, will we?