Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Babysitting on a busy day

Notice the troubled look on Cora's face?  She is a little under the weather.  Babies are smart!  She may not be able to talk, but she has communicated to me and her mother, in no uncertain terms, that she has a sore throat.

This is the only picture I got today, because I was trying to get a head start on tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner.  Cliff helped me with a lot of stuff, and teenaged granddaughter Natalie showed up to lend a helping hand with Cora, who acted as though she had known my granddaughter her whole life.  I wish I had gotten a picture of them together, but my mind was on pies at the time.  

Cora shows her intelligence in so many subtle ways.  I can tell you that her favorite song is Amazing Grace.  If I sing it to her in an attempt to put her to sleep, she won't go to sleep.  She just opens her eyes wide, listens, and smiles.  It was also my oldest grandson's favorite song.  One time when he was about four years old, he asked his mom to sing it to him.  She never went to church much and didn't know the song, and she can't carry a tune.  Arick was very put out when she couldn't sing it to  him the way Grandma did.  

Anyway.  Even on busy days when Cora is fussy, she is a prize.
If I watch her eyes, I can tell she knows what comes next in Patty-cake Patty-cake, and her eyes get wide just before I say, "Throw 'em in the oven". 

She still only listens to one silly book about "Moo".  Unless she is really grumpy, she lets me read it all the way through and looks at the pages as I turn them.  That is the only book she likes.

You are probably thinking, "Oh, what a silly old woman.  She just thinks Cora is smart because she loves her."  

I do love her, but I know a smart baby when I see one.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Back in midsummer, I began having problems with extreme dizziness, especially if I bent over to get a pan from a lower cabinet, or in the garden while picking tomatoes or pulling weeds.  At times, all I had to do was tip my head forward, backward, or to the side.  No other symptoms, just dizziness.  
Back when I was a teenager, it was a common thing for me to get dizzy when I suddenly stood up after sitting for awhile, especially if I had been reading a book.  But that was due to low blood pressure, I found out many years later, which seems to run in my family.  
What I experienced last summer was much more extreme and happened often.  Sometimes I would wake up in the night, roll my head to one side, and feel like I was on a carnival ride (which was actually sort of fun).  I'm not one to run to the doctor unless I feel it's absolutely necessary, so I consulted Dr. Google and landed on a website I trust (there are lots of quack sites out there):  

Causes of vertigo may include:
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV causes intense, brief episodes of vertigo immediately following a change in the position of your head, often when you turn over in bed or sit up in the morning. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo.
  • Inflammation in the inner ear. Signs and symptoms of inflammation of your inner ear (acute vestibular neuritis) include the sudden onset of intense, constant vertigo that may persist for several days, along with nausea, vomiting and trouble with balance. These symptoms may be so severe that you have to stay in bed. When associated with sudden hearing loss, this condition is called labyrinthitis. Fortunately, vestibular neuritis generally subsides and clears up on its own. But, early medical treatment and vestibular rehabilitation therapy can be helpful in speeding recovery.
  • Meniere's disease. This disease involves the excessive buildup of fluid in your inner ear. It's characterized by sudden episodes of vertigo lasting as long as several hours, accompanied by fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear and a feeling of fullness in the affected ear.
  • Vestibular migraine. Migraine is more than a headache disorder. Just as some people experience a visual "aura" with their migraines, others can get vertigo episodes and have other types of dizziness due to migraine even when they're not having a severe headache. Such vertigo episodes can last hours to days and may be associated with headache as well as light and noise sensitivity.
  • Acoustic neuroma. An acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) is a noncancerous (benign) growth on the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to your brain. Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma generally include progressive hearing loss and tinnitus on one side accompanied by dizziness or imbalance.
  • Other causes. Rarely, vertigo can be a symptom of a more serious neurological problem such as a stroke, brain hemorrhage or multiple sclerosis. In such cases, other neurological symptoms are usually present, such as double vision, slurred speech, facial weakness or numbness, limb coordination, or severe balance problems.
The first one on the list sounded like my problem:  Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  Digging a little further, I learned that the problem usually goes away on its own eventually.  
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you're spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is characterized by brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo are triggered by specific changes in the position of your head, such as tipping your head up or down, and by lying down, turning over or sitting up in bed. You may also feel out of balance when standing or walking.
Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it's rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. You can receive effective treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo during a doctor's office visit.
Of course I did learn to be careful when bending over, holding onto something as I did so.  If I needed a pan that was in the bottom cabinets, I would pull a kitchen chair across the kitchen and sit on it, rather than bending over.  The only thing that worried me was that I had committed to babysitting an infant, and I was concerned that I might have an episode while picking her up or laying her down.  
As strange as it might seem, I only had one dizzy spell after I started babysitting Cora and then it was gone.  Done.  Over with.  Poof.  

About a month ago, Cliff had the same thing happen to him.  It seemed like his lasted even longer than mine, and I was about to make a doctor appointment for him.  On the day I mentioned seeing a doctor to him, he had his last dizzy spell.  It was gone as quickly as it had begun.  No, he wasn't faking, because for two or three days, every time he got up from a sitting position he would exclaim how thankful he was that his dizziness was gone.      

The thing I find most peculiar is that both of us had this problem, one at a time, so close together.  I guess we've been married so long that we even have to share our vertigo.    

Monday, November 25, 2013

About my pity party

First of all, about a half-dozen people let me know, in one way or another, that they understand and share my feelings:  Some share my wintertime depression; others, my lack of people skills (who knew?).  I closed comments on the blog entry, but in spite of my request for no comments on Facebook, some commented anyway, just to let me know I'm not alone in some of my feelings and traits.  I forgive them (ha!).  
I imagine the wintertime depression thing affects more people than we imagine:  After all, we can't just go around wringing our hands and saying "Woe is me, I'm depressed," because nobody wants to attend a pity party.  We put on our happy faces and make it through winter, and yes, we do survive.  For the most part, nobody even knows we had a problem with our moods.  
I came across a blog post that helped me get things in perspective this morning:  Click HERE.  Did reading the article help my mood?  Not really, but it makes me realize there are worse things than being a little "down-in-the-dumps".  
I wish I had a dollar for everybody who has suggested over the years that I get a fancy-schmancy light therapy lamp.  Well, Houston, we have a problem or two with that.  

Oh, wait!  I think I see an available plug-in here, under my computer desk!  

Yeah, the house was built in the early 1900's, back when all you needed was a place to plug in your radio and maybe a lamp or two.  In this kind of situation, you quickly learn which appliances and electric-powered items use the most "juice":  Around here, we don't run the vacuum, watch TV, and use the microwave simultaneously.  Choose one, or sometimes two, but never all three, or else you'll be running to the fusebox to turn the power back on.

This, by the way, is not a "pity me" post.  We've made weird choices around here in how we spend our money.  We could have done without some things and re-wired the house, I'm sure.  We're just not "house" people, so home maintenance is at the bottom of our list.  Maybe it isn't even ON our list!  We preferred to build a shop and buy cows and horses and computers and tractors and motorcycles.  Notice I'm listing both our indulgences, not just Cliff's.  As long as we have a place to sleep and cook, we're fine.         

I'm just keeping it real, and chuckling as I do so.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter doldrums

Folks, I've been in a slump that started with our move here to the old house and continues unabated, aggravated by the cold weather and approach of winter.  I've been pretty sure for a number of years that I suffer from S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder).  In the past, one of the best cures for this was going for a daily walk with Cliff.  Thanks to knee pain, there are no more daily walks for me, a fact that accelerates my somber mood.  

You won't often see me having a pity party here, so let me just get it off my chest this one time, OK? 

A teller at our bank asked the other day, "So, did you get done moving?"  
"Yeah, I guess so.  I can only hope we find a way to move back to the trailer house within a year."  
Both she and the lady next to her expressed amazement.  "You'd rather live in the trailer house?"  
"Yes," I answered, "but it isn't about the house, it's about the location.  Back there, I look out my windows and see nature:  trees, wide-open spaces, my cows, an occasional coyote or deer.  Living in the old house, we may as well be living in town."  
They were speechless.  

Everybody is all about their house.  Not me.  I'd rather live in a one-room cabin (with electricity and Internet, of course) back behind the barn than to live here in this house, right on the edge of the road with neighbors so close I could throw a rock in any of three different directions and hit one of them.  

Another problem is that, thanks to my reclusive nature, I don't have a huge network of friends.  I have lousy people skills because I have so little in common with other women.  I don't care about clothes, shoes, fashion, home decorating, shopping, and all the other feminine pursuits ladies are supposed to have.  Thank goodness for all my Internet friends.  I don't normally bare my soul to them, but they (you) are my network of friends... mostly invisible, but still.

I was raised the only kid in our home.  My sister and brother were gone by the time I was two.  We lived in rural areas, so I learned early on to entertain myself.  I played with Mother's chickens and the kittens in the barn.  When I was enrolled at the one-room school in Iowa, that was probably the first interaction I had with other kids on a day-to-day basis.  I can tell you that even then, I was more comfortable with my books and imaginary friends than I ever was with other children.    

Sometimes, growing up, other children would chide me for being too loud, or for not quite behaving in ways that were acceptable.  I was peculiar.  

So by the time I reached adulthood, I had learned it was safer to keep my own company.  I'm strange, I'm different, I say things that seem to insult people even though I don't know I'm insulting them at the time.  Something deep inside my brain whispers, "If they got to really know you, they wouldn't like you."    

I'm disabling comments for this entry because I know there are people who want to try and make me feel better about myself.  I'm sharing the link on Facebook but would really prefer it if my friends didn't comment on it.  "Like" it if you want.  See, the trouble is, everybody thinks they can help by something they say.  Everybody wants me to be happy, and I appreciate that.  But I'm almost seventy years old, and I don't think my nature is going to change at this late date.  

One thing I do know:  Along about March, when robins return and I start planning my garden, my attitude will be much brighter.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Look who's back

Cliff was helping me get some stuff that was in the garage back at the mobile home.  As we stepped outside,  I saw a flash of white behind the barn.  
"Look!  It's Mama Kitty!"  
Sure enough, it was her, looking no worse for the wear.  

I went in the barn to make sure there was plenty of food for her and Jake.  She seemed pretty hungry, but doesn't appear to have lost any weight.  I wish she could talk and tell me where she's been.  I wonder if she ventured into a barn or shed and got shut in.  We'll never know, but this gives me one more thing to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving.  

I kept trying to pet her, but since I don't normally do that, she kept backing off and looking at me as if to say, "What's up with you?  Are you crazy?"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Missing cat

For three days now, I have not seen Mama Kitty.  I'm pretty sure she's dead.  She wasn't one to wander across roads, or even to neighboring properties, very much.  Since we had her neutered, she had no reason to go elsewhere.  Cliff thinks perhaps a coyote or fox got her.
I've been accustomed to finding two cats outside my door when I awake in the morning:  Jake, yowling and complaining, and Mama Kitty, a cat of few words: waiting silently, ready to lead me to the barn where they are fed... just in case I forgot where their food is kept.  

Mamma Kitty moved here when neighbors moved away and left her and her children behind.  I had no intention of taking her in, but she sneaked her way into my heart, winning me over with the resourceful methods she had of feeding her kittens.  She scrounged in the garbage and hunted for food.  Not a day went by that she didn't kill a mouse, a bird, or a rabbit.  Whatever it took to keep her family from starving.  To see her in action, click HERE.  

Most days she went with us on our walk and stayed with us from start to finish.  

Through the fallen leaves

and even in the snow.  

I know we can find another cat or two.  A local farmer has already offered me some, and if I take a couple and they stick around, I'm sure they will catch mice and rats, because they are already barn cats.  

But where do you find a cat that will take walks with you?  

I'm gonna miss that cat.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dusting off my blog

I'm not one to skip blogging for long, but remember, I am babysitting four days a week.  It isn't that I don't have time, it's just that I'm all wrapped up in Cora's cuteness.  I do try to make a daily entry in her private blog, which today consisted of two videos.  

The son-in-law came by tonight to tell us that he knows someone who is paying a ridiculous price for grass-fed beef (he thought maybe $6 a pound, but wasn't sure).  He thought maybe we might want to sell some of the grass-fed beef in our two freezers.  You bet your life we do, although I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I charged someone $6 a pound.  If we connect, and if it works out, we might find a use for George, the steer, next spring... right here at home.  

Chickens:  I haven't mentioned the chickens in awhile, but they are still laying.  I got them so early in the year that I really expected them to stop laying eggs before now (for the winter), but they are all working.  I still turn them out each evening for a couple of hours. 

Cows:  I need to get out there and take a picture of my herd (count 'em, four head).  They're doing well.  All three females are coming in heat every twenty or twenty-one days, and George-the-steer is eating like crazy so that somebody can have grass-fed, hormone-free beef next year that won't cost them $6 a pound.  One heifer, Gracie, would be the perfect age to breed in January.  The youngest, Penny, won't be the ideal age to breed until May.  Right now our plans (if they don't all die before then) are to purchase a bull in March:  One heifer will be past the ideal age, one will be just right, and one will be a little young but will probably do OK bred early.  Ideally we'd get a young Jersey bull, but if we have to, we'll settle for an Angus.  It's a shame we can't just rent a bull, but nobody does that these days.  Artificial insemination is out of the question, since the guy I tried before works a full-time job, so the timing is never right unless the cows come in heat on weekends.  Besides, he really doesn't like making a trip for just one cow at a time.  

I was afraid Cliff wouldn't keep up his daily walks after I stopped, but he's still going strong.  Iris and Mamma Kitty try to keep him honest.  So far I haven't gained weight as a result of not being able to go for my daily walk.  

Our son, his wife, and our granddaughter are coming for Thanksgiving, so I'm going to do my best to make it a traditional celebration.  

Over and out.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cliff gives skinning and butchering lessons (warning: pictures of deer being butchered)

Arick's girl friend's dad and brother each shot an eight-point buck early this morning, opening day of deer season.  All of them wanted Cliff to teach him his professional method of dressing and cutting up a deer.  I say professional because Cliff was a butcher for over twenty years.  I don't think I need to add any more words, so I'll just show the pictures in order.  


They are taking all the meat off the bone.  Once that's done, they'll take the meat of both deer a mile down the road to the butcher shop, where it will be made into beef sticks and summer sausage.  One deer down, one to go.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bus trip to Iowa: The Dumont Museum

The bus parked at the Dumont Museum and Gloria, our tour leader, went inside to see if they were ready for us.  When she came back out and got on the bus, she said, "Oh, you'll like it as soon as you walk inside and see that train!"  
I think she was surprised that this museum wasn't only about tractors.  
I got the biggest kick out of seeing everybody gather round that train display once we were inside, walking around it to see all the detailed handiwork:  One section has cars from the '50's, with a drive-in-movie actually showing a moving picture.  In another area there was a hospital, with ambulances outside flashing their lights and a helicopter with its rotor turning.  There's so much action that you could never take in every single detail.  The looks on my fellow travelers' faces reminded me of the expressions you see on children's faces at Christmas, right after Santa has made his appearance.  

My favorite part of this attraction is that Lyle and Helen Dumont are there, strolling from one room to another, giving everyone the opportunity to ask questions.  They love to see people enjoying their collections, and they like to answer questions.  There is an article HERE that includes an interview with the two.  To know them is to love them. 

They have quite a bit of Roy Rogers memorabilia, although they trimmed it down somewhat.  Helen said she noticed that not many people spent a lot of time looking at that part of the museum, so they boxed up some of it and sold a few things.  I imagine it's because most of the people who idolized Roy and Dale are dead now.  Like most people my age, I loved Roy.  I asked Helen how they got to be personal friends with him and his family.  She said her husband, Lyle, just made up his mind he was going to meet the man.  He called the museum, which at that time was in California, and got on good terms with a lady who worked there.  He asked her if there was any way he could meet Roy, and she told him, "If you come to the museum at 9 A.M. when it first opens, he will probably be here."  
They flew out and did get to meet Roy; their personalities "just clicked", Helen told me, and they became such good friends with Roy and Dale that they would go there and stay for a couple of weeks, touring the local attractions.  They still keep in touch with some of Roy and Dale's children. 
Roy and Dale only had one child who wasn't adopted.  She was born with Down's Syndrome and only lived for a couple of years.  Dale wrote a book about her called "Angel Unaware".  My favorite piece in the Roy Rogers collection is little Robin's baby crib, because I remember the book from when I was in junior high school.  I told Helen I was glad they kept the crib and still have it on display.  

Yes, it's a tractor museum too, with every rare Oliver tractor ever built.  When Cliff restores an Oliver, he gets his decals from the Dumonts.   
Lyle operating his train set
Sigourney is off the beaten path, but I don't think you will be disappointed if you go out of your way to see the museum.  Lyle and Helen are the real treasures of the museum, so if you go, be sure to visit with them.          

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bus trip to Iowa, part three

As we left the Kinze facility and headed to our motel, people began discussing what we might to on Friday morning, since we were finished with Kinze.  I kept telling Cliff, "The Dumont Museum in Sigourny is right on the way home!"  

I was telling him this repeatedly in hopes he would take charge and tell our tour guide about it, because she was frantically trying to find someplace that might be of interest to members of a tractor club.  She had called Farmall Land, which was a good distance out of our way, and some other tractor museum.  They all closed in October.  The owner of Farmall Land would have opened up for us, but he was out of state.  She suggested that we might go to the Amana Colonies, but hey, we would only have about four hours to spend.  I don't think that's enough time to do much at the Amana Colonies.  Plus the fact that a bunch of antique tractor nutcases might not be thrilled at that attraction anyhow.  

Oh, and by the way, she never got a return call from Mr. Kinzebaw, owner of the Kinze plant.  Like I said before, there is a three-year waiting list to see his tractor collection, and we were no more special than anybody else on the list.  

When we went to supper, Gloria was sitting in the front seat of the bus as we exited.  Since Cliff refused to pass any information along, I blurted out, "There is a tractor museum at Sigourney, Iowa, and it's on our way home, and they WILL open for us."  

She asked me how to spell Sigourney, but there were about a dozen hungry people behind me wanting to eat, and I was holding them up.  I figured she could ask me questions inside the restaurant.  As it turns out, she mentioned it to someone else in our group who had heard of it, and they told her enough about it for her to do do a search on the Internet on her IPad.  

By the time we were done eating, we were scheduled to visit the Dumont Museum.  Then back to our motel, which didn't look too promising on the outside but was clean and almost fancy on the inide.  It's the first time I ever stayed in a two-story motel room with a dining room and two televisions IN our room.    We ate a typical motel breakfast Friday morning and were on the road by 9 A.M.  It was only thirty-five miles to Sigourney, Iowa, so we didn't have far to go.  

A couple of folks asked me if we had been to the Dumont Museum before.  I told them that yes, we were there in 2009.  And that ANYBODY would enjoy it.      

Stay tuned for more.   

Veteran's Day

My father never enlisted, nor did my husband.  Cliff tried to sign up when his best friend joined up, but he was too overweight.  An old doctor once told him he should have tried again in a couple of years, because by then the Vietnam conflict had gone on so long that the military was taking anybody they could get.  Well, by then he was married with a baby on the way, so any thoughts of enlisting were long gone.  Thank goodness!    

This is my brother-in-law, Russell.  A kinder, more gentle man never walked the earth.  I never heard him raise his voice.  I can't imagine what horrors he must have seen during his time in the service in World War II.  

This is my mom's brother, my Uncle Paul, who also served in World War II.  Mother kept the letters she received from both of these soldiers, written from overseas.  I still have the letter from Uncle Paul congratulating her on my birth.  

Due to the kindness of one of my very best Internet friends, I was fortunate to be able to stay at her place for a few days and see some of the sights in Washington, DC.  She served as my tour guide, and one of the things I got to see was the then-new World War II memorial.  

We can't forget my son, who participated in Desert Storm.

God bless our veterans.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cliff hit the jackpot!

Three weeks ago, Cliff decided to buy a buffer.  Don't ask me what it is, all I know is it is something he can use when he's restoring old tractors.  After looking into prices, he decided he didn't need one THAT bad and stopped looking at them.  

Yesterday evening a Facebook friend messaged me to say she had not one, but two of them, and Cliff was welcome to them.  Today we looked her up.  Of course, we had to get a picture, because if there is no picture of an event, it didn't really happen.  Right?

  Cliff's getting pretty good at taking pictures.  

I like this one.  I'm not sure if Cliff intended to take it or not, but you can tell we are having a good conversation.  

In case you missed the picture of me and her sister, I'll throw that in too.  There is some family resemblance.   

I just came back from the shop, and Cliff is like a kid at Christmas.
He actually brought home three buffers.  This big one needed a minor repair job, something about the brushes, but Cliff already has it working.  The buffer on the right is an air tool that Cliff can use with his air compressor.  

This one worked great on the first try.  So Cliff has three, count 'em, three, working buffers.  I did offer to pay Judy something for them, but she just wanted Cliff to have them.  I don't think she has any idea how happy her generosity has made him.  It will be interesting to see which one he likes best.  One thing he especially likes about all of them is that they are from back in the days when things were made to last.  

Touring the Kinze facility

As you drive past the Kinze plant, you will notice some rather strange-looking displays out in front.  

One of their huge planters, standing on end, and...

A stack of their grain carts.  

Cliff took a picture of me beside our tour bus, although this doesn't show much of the bus, does it?

Each person in our group had to sign his or her own personal waiver.  I signed it without reading it.  I also signed Cliff's waiver, which horrified one of the ladies, since we were each supposed to sign our own.  So far, though, I have not been apprehended for my crime.  

We watched a brief video explaining how Mr. Kinzenbaw ended up with this huge operation, which has about 1,000 employees and is always hiring.  Wages start at $20 per hour, which is decent for a rural area, I'd say.  Read about Kinze's core values HERE.    

Cliff was impressed with the whole plant operation.  I was more impressed with the man who founded the company.  He and his daughter, who is now running the operation, treat their employees like they would want to be treated.  They buy nothing from outside the U.S.A. that can be found here.  They try to purchase materials as close to home as possible.  In case you are wondering, they are not union.   

  To start our tour, we walked half a mile through a tunnel that was originally for employees, so they wouldn't have to walk through inclement weather to get to the production facility.  

One thing Cliff appreciated was the fact that we were given devices to put in our ears so we could hear the guide clearly.  Notice the sign in the background that says, "Our next inspector is our customer".  

This is a planter under construction.  I took quite a few other pictures throughout the building, but they probably wouldn't be of interest to many people.  I will tell you that all the employees seemed relaxed and not at all rushed or overworked.  If you were to order one of these through a dealer, your order wouldn't be filled until sometime in 2015.     

I am not going to explain the big tractor.  I don't really understand much about it, but for awhile Mr. Kinzenbaw was re-powering tractors (says Cliff).  This is one he built... "Big Blue".  I certainly hope Mr. Kinzenbaw or his daughter never stumble across this entry:  They will laugh at my ignorance.  Read HERE to see a history of the company, although I don't see any mention of this tractor.    

After we finished our tour, we found our motel.  Because the original plan was to tour the plant on Thursday and go back to the innovation center on Friday, and we had already done both, the question arose, "What can we do tomorrow before we go home?"  

Our fearless leader, Gloria, was certain that she could talk to the owner himself and persuade him to show us his tractor collection.  She assured us that her persuasive powers were amazing.  I knew this wasn't going to work, since there is a three-year waiting list to see the collection, and nothing made us any more special than others who were waiting for the tour.  

Stay tuned for Part 3.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Riding to Iowa on a bus (part one)

Our destination was the Kinze Manufacturing Plant in Williamsburg, Iowa.  Our group of twenty-nine tractor club members were going to get a tour of the huge facility where planters and grain carts are built.  Cliff is always interested in how things are made, but he did not sign up because of the plant tour.  He mistakenly thought we were also going to see Mr. Kinzenbaw's tractor collection, one of the largest such collections anywhere.  He had already paid for the tour when he found out there is a three-year waiting list to see those tractors, and tours are only done twice a year.  He was sorely disappointed when he learned at one of the club meetings that we were only doing the factory tour.  Personally, I was just excited to be going on a road trip!

Standing in front is Gloria, who was in charge of the tour.  She is a fun person.

We drove to the auction house where our tractor club meetings are held, and Cliff parked beside the other early arrivals.  We boarded the bus and left at exactly 6:00.  We planned to stop at the Dinner Bell Cafe in Eagleville, Missouri, for breakfast.  

I consider Eagleville to be one of my hometowns, the others being Guss, Iowa, and an unincorporated area of Kansas City known as Harlem.  Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with two sisters I knew at Eagleville in the mid-fifties.  We attended the same church, and we also went to school together for a couple of years.  The older one, Marla, is my age and lives not far across the Iowa line from Eagleville.  She and her husband joined us for breakfast and we talked about old times.  I told Marla how her mother was the first person I had ever seen, closeup, playing a guitar.   It made a lasting impression on me.  I was so disappointed when she stopped at one song (The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly) and put the guitar away.  Lois is gone from this earth now, but you can hear her singing and playing her guitar HERE.  

Marla and I noticed immediately that our husbands seemed to be kindred spirits.  It was a great visit.
  It took several tries, but we finally managed to get a decent picture.  At first we were sitting at the table with a window behind us, which bleached us out entirely.  

Breakfast was OK, although it took a long time for the waitress to serve everybody.  That put us behind on our schedule, but on the bright side, Marla and I had plenty of time to chat.  When we arrived at Williamsburg, there really was no time to eat, but there was a McDonalds nearby, so those who were starving grabbed something there.  Cliff and I simply ate some of the snacks that were provided on the bus.  

Stay tuned for more about the trip.    


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Bye-bye, garden

We didn't make church today, since the oldest grandson spent yesterday and most of today helping Cliff fix fence on all sides of our property.  It was in terrible shape, but Cliff said it ought to keep our cows at home.  We are so thankful for Arick's help, since I can no longer navigate the hills and hollers.  In fact, I no longer walk with Cliff.  I really miss it, but it was causing me so much pain it ruined the rest of my day.  Cliff said I had better stop, so I don't wear my knees out any worse than they already are.  That is the last I intend to talk about my aches and pains.  
I do miss our daily walks terribly, but we do what we must.  
I was going to go take pictures of the guys fixing fence, but they were so far toward the back of the place that I gave up and came back to the house.  I did take the new header picture on my way back, though.  

This afternoon I went to the garden and started cleaning up the mess.  

Looking to the north, there's a row of turnips which I hope to share with my cousin Betty, since Cliff hates them, and I can only eat so many.  Just on the the other side of the turnips is the strawberry bed.  I do not garden properly, so I didn't thin the strawberries and I never cover them with straw.  I'm lazy.

I got the tomato plants, cages, and posts all removed from the garden.  Now I have 10,352 green tomatoes to pick up and haul off.  This is still looking toward the north, where you can see that Cliff has put out a hay bale for the cattle (all four of them).

Looking south, in the foreground you can see the tastiest carrots I've ever grown, planted late in the summer.  Beyond them are a few remaining beets.  The chickens are turned out every afternoon, even though there isn't that much for them to forage at this time of year.  

The house next door has been vastly improved.  The new neighbors have a horse-boarding operation, and the lady gives riding lessons.  Her husband is a local farmer, but we notice him doing a lot of work around the barn, too  We see them putting the horses up at night, and in the morning when they let them out it's fun to watch the horses running for the love of freedom.  

This is the horse barn, with an indoor arena.  

Because of the rain last week and the fact that baby Cora's daddy works construction, Monday was the only day we had her until I begged her dad to bring her over for a few hours on Thursday (for free, of course); I told him we were having withdrawal symptoms.  We are so attached to her at this point, we'd probably pay THEM if we had to, just to be a part of her life.    

Friday, November 01, 2013

If I ever get diagnosed with cancer...

And of course, it's quite possible.  Seems like everywhere I go, somebody's talking about a friend or relative who has just been diagnosed, or has died, with cancer.  It's everywhere.  Perhaps it always has been, but I sure don't recall hearing about so many cases at one time.  Maybe it's just because the population has grown so much.  As far as I know, I don't have it.  But then, who knows what lurks inside our bodies?  


The other day I mentioned on Facebook that if I ever find out I have cancer, I'm not going to talk about it on the Internet.  And then I got this HUGE outpouring of sympathy from my Facebook friends for the cancer that I might someday have, people telling me I would need their support, or that they would be angry if I didn't tell them.  

Here's the thing:  From what I've seen online, and I am not talking only about my daughter but about bloggers I've followed, the first thing people say to a person diagnosed with cancer is, "You're so brave."  

Maybe it's just me, but I think you are taking away that person's right to cry or be scared.  You have put a label on her that she now has to live up to, at least in public.  

My daughter once again has cellulitis in her arm, so it's another round of antibiotics for her.  It keeps happening, over and over, and she's sick of it.  

When she told me about this yesterday evening, she caught me right in the middle of a moment of hilarity, laughing so hard at Cliff that I couldn't even talk and tell him why I was laughing.  And then, the bad news.  Which reminds me I should remember that when I'm having the time of my life, there are others who have having their lowest moments, usually unbeknownst to me.  But I digress.   

If I had fought my way through cancer and all these after-effects happened to me, I wouldn't want to feel as though I had to act brave.  I might want to cry or shout or be angry in full view of everybody.  I wouldn't want to hear your "look on the bright side" or "at least it isn't ...." remarks, even though I would know you meant well.  By the way, I am the queen of "saying the wrong thing at the wrong time" so I really can't throw stones at anybody.  

This isn't my daughter's opinion, it's mine.  We have many opposing opinions and ideas, partly due to the fact that I'm an introvert and she's an extrovert.  I wouldn't want anybody to think I was repeating her thoughts; she has never said anything like this.  I still think I might not tell "the Internet" that I had cancer.  Or maybe if I decided to tell them (you?), I would demand that they NEVER call me brave or strong.  I'm not brave and strong now, and cancer certainly wouldn't turn me into a superhero.