Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, don't let the door hit you as you leave.

I suppose I should stay positive:  Rather than remember Cliff's terrible brush with death in April (yes, the surgeon said he could have died), I should celebrate that he lived and recovered fully.  

Rather than mourn two cows, a yearling heifer, and a newborn calf that died this year (half my herd), I should thank God for plenty of meat in the freezer and the four remaining young cows.  

Instead of recalling all the things that have gone wrong with my daughter's procedures this year, I should be thankful she is a cancer survivor. 

Let's not even talk about the move back to the old house.  

The brightest spot in our lives has been Cora, the baby we watch.  She isn't here that much, but we treasure those times when she is in our lives.  I'm thinking I need to find me a five-day-a-week baby to watch next time.  

As for resolutions, the only one I have is similar to the one last year:  I intend to maintain my weight.  Since going for walks hurts too much these days, I need to figure out some other kinds of exercises that don't involve my knees.  I have some weights I could work with a little for upper body strength, and there are plenty of exercises I know I can do.  I just need to push away from the computer and do it.

I have been spending a lot of time at the new computer, partly because I've been going back through those old poems I wrote years ago.  Even the lousy ones often tell a story of something that happened back then, good or bad, and once I get started reading those, I can't seem to stop.  Someone I used to work with asked yesterday, on Facebook, if I had ever written any poems about her.  We worked together in the late 70's, and that was before I got my first word processor, so I told her I really don't recall.  That little conversation reminded me that somewhere, probably stored in the garage at the mobile home, there is a spiral notebook with words to songs I wrote back then.  When the temperatures warm up I'll go digging and see what I can find.  

But I digress.  

I really just want to wish all my readers, Facebook friends, and real-life friends and relatives a Happy New Year.  I survived 2013, and I'm heading into 2014 full throttle.  Won't you join me?       

Monday, December 30, 2013

My blog is messed up.

Yep.  I've somehow damaged it beyond repair.  However, it seems I can still post entries, so as long as I can do that, I'm not leaving.  This little spot on the Internet is where I store my memories and feelings, and I really need it, just for me.  

Over the last few days I have come to realize that I no longer need a dog in my life.  I'm tired of the hair in the house and the needy-ness.  Once Iris is gone, I think I am done with dogs.  In fact, if I could find someone who would treat Iris in the manner to which she is accustomed, they could have her, but I think that is highly unlikely.  I've had one person say he would like to have her, but he was going to keep her outside, in a pen.  

I don't THINK so.  

Cliff and I ventured out to the city today.  I had him make a stop at Kohl's because I wanted some pajamas that fit, and I figured they would be marked down.  I was right, although fifteen bucks seems a little high for after Christmas.  But I've been wearing those old extra-large pajamas for a year now, with them almost falling down when I walked, because, you know, nobody sees me in my pajamas except Cliff.  But I am really tired of holding my pajama bottoms up when I walk.  My new medium-sized ones are a great fit.   

Athletic shoes were marked down, too, probably in anticipation of people making New Year's resolutions to start walking or jogging so they can lose weight.  I've really wanted to try a pair of Asics, but unfortunately, Kohl's never has them in my (huge) size.  So I bought my usual Nikes at a decent price.  

I would love to brag and tell you that this morning I was four pounds lighter than I was four days ago.  It is the truth, but tonight I ran smack-dab into a bag of caramel corn, so I'm not confident that things will look so good in the morning.  

Just keeping it real, that's all. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013


The Christmas goodies got me.  Thanksgiving didn't help, but until ten days ago I was staying within one pound of the weight I consider ideal for me:  145 pounds.  Now remember, on New Year's Day of this year, I was one-eighty-seven, so I did well for this whole year... until the past few days.  I decided to eat, because at what other time do I get the chance to eat gourmet popcorn, cheese ball, hot hamburger dip, and summer sausage to my heart's content?  I can take it off, right?  

Yesterday I weighed 152.  Today I'm 150.2.  I've purged most of the tempting foods from the house and I'm back to proper eating.  I hope to be back at, or under, 145 by the end of January.  Cliff has ten pounds to lose, and I'm not so sure his heart is in the effort of losing and maintaining any more.  Time will tell.  

You know, when I began my weight loss last year, my goal was to get to 160 and maintain that.  I was doing so well when I reached that weight, I re-set my goal at 150, and then later at 145.  That is a good weight for me, and I'll hang onto that goal.  

The next mention I make of my weight will be when I'm back at 145.  

Our country cable Internet leaves a lot to be desired, and it has really been slow over the last couple of days.  Yesterday I decided to re-design my blog; due to the poor Internet speed, I wasn't on my toes as I should have been and lost my whole sidebar.  Perhaps it's for the best, because I do like the uncluttered look of things now.  

If Suddenlink doesn't get its act together, I will be going back to DSL from Embarq.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

cleaning the hen house

When I moved the chickens to the hen house, I covered the floor with a bag of pine shavings.  That was back around the first of June, and I had never changed the bedding since then.  I had Cliff pick up a couple bags of pine shavings the other day.  Today being a fairly decent day, I figured it was time to clean the stinking hen house.  
It actually wasn't that hard a job:  First I turned the chickens out.  Then Cliff pulled the tractor up close to the door, so all I had to do was get the snow shovel full of bedding and poop, walk out the door to the bucket of the tractor, and toss it in.  Because it was dry material, the combined poop and bedding weren't heavy.  The worst part was the dust I stirred up, but I can handle that.  Cliff spread the old bedding thinly over my garden.  Ideally I would have composted it, but I don't compost. 
 My chickens now have the best-smelling chicken house around, at least for today.

    I have six hens, although I think only five of them are laying, since the most eggs I have ever gotten in one day is five; one of the hens looks rather scraggly and pale, and I'm betting she is my non-layer.  They have made do with one nest, the one on the right; but often when I went out with feed or water, I would find two hens squeezed into that one nest.  So while the place was relatively clean and good-smelling, Cliff added another nest.  He seems to have some sort of allergy to chicken dust.  It makes him break out and get all itchy.  So I do my best not to have him do anything inside their house.  

During the winter the chickens have to drink out of that container, because if the regular waterer were to freeze, it would ruin it.  I have a rock in the bucket so they don't tip it over.  When the temperatures are freezing or below, I take out hot water from the kitchen faucet three or four times a day and pour it over their ice to thaw it.  This seems to give them enough water to drink.  

Another thing Cliff did for me while it was clean was put that board at the bottom of the doorway, so the shavings wouldn't end up outside.  Here's hoping I remember it's there, rather than stumbling over it when I go in and out.  

I throw "scratch" out for the flock, and they come running.  That little guy on the right was given to me by Cliff's brother, who said I needed a banty hen if I intended to have a setting hen to hatch eggs.  Unfortunately, that "hen" turned out to be a rooster.  He has to go.  

Now I have to wait and see whether the hens will use their new nest.  I also wonder if they will hesitate, going over the board in the doorway.  Chickens are scared of anything new; you should have seen them the first time I opened their door to let them out when there was snow on the ground.  It took them half-an-hour to decide it was safe.  This is why we call cowardly people chicken, because chickens are afraid of anything they don't recognize.  


One of those lost poems I found

© copyright February 17, 2004
Donna Wood

All in all, I've had a wonderful span
(For one who so seldom has worked out a plan).
I think of so many ways I have grown,
And demons I've conquered and angels I've known.

Something inside me has oft wanted fame,
And wished for more people that knew me by name.
But I've remained someone that most will forget...
Even demons I conquered, and angels I've met.

Too often invisible, I choose a place
In any available, untaken space.
Daily, my rhymes take their form on a screen
About demons I've conquered, and angels I've seen.

I’ve danced with demons and let them hold sway,
Unwittingly driving some angels away;
And I have reaped fields full of tares that I’ve sown
With demons beside me, and all angels flown.

Sometimes you can’t tell a foe from a friend:
I pray for discernment, before journey’s end.
At times, demons stood and applauded my choice,
While other times, angels had cause to rejoice.

Now, almost sixty, I'm fully resigned
To taking whatever sweet comfort I find.
The love of my husband... the search for a rhyme...
And angels and demons I've met in my time.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Best Publicity Stunt Ever

Read all about it HERE.  Big surprise, huh?  

Hey, if you don't like what I have to say here, get your own blog.  The reason I started blogging is that I got tired of people trying to shut me down on message boards and public forums.  This is MY little spot on the Internet.    

Lost poems found

I think my first computer had Word for a word processing program, and my second had WordPerfect, which I liked better.  But after those two computers, a word processing program became a very expensive extra.  Fortunately, there is a free one out there that works just fine, and that's what I used for the past several years:  Open Office

When I got this computer the day before Christmas, one of the first things I did was download Open Office.  However, when I went to my documents to make sure I could read my recipe collection and the poems I wrote from 2002 to 2006, all I got was gibberish.  Keep in mind, most of them were written with the program I was trying to use to open them.    

The poems aren't great.  In fact most of them are mediocre to bad; but at the very least, they are a way for me to go back and see what I was thinking about on certain days.  So I was somewhat dismayed to think I might have lost them forever.  

When I tried to open a poem or recipe, I got a message saying that I apparently needed Microsoft Word to access them.  So today I got to thinking that even if I had to buy Word (for over $100) it would be worth it to salvage my poems.  Thank goodness I found out I could have it for a one-month trial before I bought it, so I signed up for that.  After about forty-five minutes of waiting for it to download, I went straight to my documents to see what would happen.  

FAIL!  At this point I got a message that I needed Word Perfect to view the files.  

I went to the Corel website and downloaded their thirty-day free trial.  


I should have looked over the website more thoroughly, though, because there is actually a free download that I'll get when my thirty day trial is over.   I could have skipped the trial offer entirely.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My new camera

This is what my new camera looks like.  I've found out it isn't really so hard to use as I figured it would be.  I've taken lots of pictures and videos of Cora when she's here, pictures to post on her private blog, so I'm getting used to it and learning when to change the settings, when to use the flash, and when not to.               

I planned to take lots of family pictures on Christmas day using my wonderful camera.  When I took it out to take the first picture, though, I was informed that the battery needed charging.  Well, OK.  I still have my little pocket Nikon, so all wasn't lost.  I came inside to start charging the battery.

The charger, which was plugged into an outlet the last I knew, wasn't anywhere to be found.  This really concerns me, because I know Cliff had no reason to fool with anything at that particular outlet, and I have no memory of moving the charger.  None.  Cora can't even crawl, and Iris isn't allowed in the bedroom.

Next thing you know I will go for a walk and be unable to find my way back to the house from the pasture.

I told the family gathered in the shop about my problem.  Rachel said, "But wait, can't you charge the camera by way of a USB connection?"
"I could," I answered, "if I hadn't chosen to disable that option."  

That's one thing that will change after I receive the new charger I ordered yesterday.  I will make sure the battery can charge by connecting the camera to my computer.

A nice, low-key Christmas Day

Since we weren't expecting a huge crowd, we would have done fine fitting everybody in the house.  My daughter, however, wanted to hold to our tradition of partying in Cliff's shop.  

Rachel spent a lot of time in that lounge chair.  She said it was more comfortable that any of her chairs at home, including the recliner (she's still sore from surgery).  I tried to get her to take it home with her, but she said there was really no place to put it in her living room.   Cliff's sister Rena, on the left, came to join us for awhile.  Iris is watching for reflections or shadows to chase, which is how she spends a lot of her garage time.

On the right are Monica and her boy friend.  

Granddaughter Natalie was beginning to get rather bored at this point.  

We played Mad libs a LOT.  This was one of our best ones, although it might make you realize how twisted our family really is.  Hey, there's a free Mad Libs app! 

Grandson Arick, who had two other Christmas events to attend after he and Heather left our place.  

Our daughter brought over an extra Christmas tree they weren't using so I could handle my ornaments.  

Seems like I don't get many pictures of son-in-law Kevin, but there he is.

Rachel wanted to show Cliff what a "selfie" is, so she took this picture.  A year ago she was bald.  What a difference a year makes!

Recently an old schoolmate of Rachel's came by with some notes her husband had written about his best friend.  She remembered that I've been known to write a song or two and asked if perhaps I could work his words into a song.  It's been years since I've done anything like that, but I came up with something I thought would work.  They came by the shop and I sang the song for them.  I guess they were satisfied with it:  Sherri said she saw her husband wiping a tear away while I sang.  

Or maybe my singing is just that bad.  

All in all, it was a wonderful, laid-back day.  Yes, I ate too much, and will again today, because I'm not about to toss that chili-cheese dip or the cheese ball in the trash.  I haven't even weighed this week, but I will when the goodies are gone, and when I do I'll let you know how much I'll have to lose.  Oh yes, I will lose it, and quickly.   

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My best to all

I wanted to have a real tree this year, but I was going to put it in Cliff's shop because the living room here at the old house just doesn't have room for a Christmas tree.  Oh, I have the small, fake, already-decorated-in-the-box tree that fits just fine.  But after two or three years with that, I missed handling the old ornaments that have been around for so long.  I really didn't want a tree around too long, so the plan was to go cut a tree the weekend before Christmas.  And then the weather happened:  freezing rain and some snow.  Since the Christmas tree farm we use is only open on weekends, that blew my chance for a fresh, real tree.   

I could have gotten a pre-cut tree cheap, had we driven to Blue Springs yesterday.  There's a Christmas tree lot there that is very open to bargaining on Christmas Eve.  Somehow, at that point, I was out of the mood.  

We're spending  today in the shop, with local relatives dropping by whenever it's convenient.  We'll be eating junk food all day:  gourmet flavored popcorn, cheese ball, summer sausage, hot hamburger dip... yes, Cliff and I have put on a few pounds over this holiday, having thrown caution to the winds, knowing that the season of temptation is about over.  I will be cooking chicken and noodles and possibly mashed potatoes to go with them.  That's the nearest anyone will get to "real food" today.  

My daughter finally got rid of the last drain from her surgery.  Things seem to be looking up for her, thank goodness.  She and the son-in-law spent the day yesterday shopping, then came here so she could set up my new computer.  I stayed with Windows 7 after hearing so many complaints about Windows 8.  My son-in-law gets my Mac Mini, which my daughter will wipe clean so Kevin can start with a clean slate.  

I hope all of you have a wonderful day with family and friends.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Your boss may be wrong, but he's still your boss."

I remember my dad making this statement more than once, long before I ever knew what it was like to hold down a job.  Once I did get a job, I understood it all too well, and the words came back to me many times over the years. 

So, your boss gives you some task that is harder than what your coworker is doing?  That isn't fair, you say?  Perhaps not, but the boss is the boss, no matter whether he's fair or not.  

A certain TV personality shared his beliefs, and his employer put him on hiatus, and people are saying the employer is taking away his freedom of speech.  

I say no, his employer is just doing what bosses do:  Old Phil still has the freedom to say what he thinks, and he's still talking.  Now, if cops had arrested the guy and tossed him in jail, that would be taking away his freedom of speech.  Just think about that "God hates fags" bunch.  I don't know anybody who likes their agenda, but it's a free country, so they get to state their beliefs in public, just like anybody else can in America.  Until you are arrested and jailed, I don't see that anybody is robbing you of your rights.  

And nobody is taking away the boss's right to fire you.  

The one thing very few people are talking about is that this guy who is all over Facebook and in the news also said this:  "I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person.  Not once.  Where we lived was all farmers.  The blacks worked for the farmers.  I hoed cotton with them.  We're going across the fields, they were singing and happy.  I never heard one of them, one black person, say 'I tell you what:  These doggone white people'... not a word!"

Of course they didn't say anything against white people.  It was the south, and they would have been strung up if they said anything negative!  

They were singing... and happy?  Did you ever listen to the words of the old negro spirituals, or even to the blues songs of later years?  They were singing because the only way they could get by with stating their feelings was to put those feelings into song.

We're talking about the south here, after all.

Happy happy happy.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Learning about Russia

I recently read "The Secret Holocaust Diaries".  As always, my curiosity was aroused about several things.  Of course it takes place in the 1930's and 40's.  It shows what happened to a Russian family during those difficult times, as seen through a young girl's eyes.  

Now, here's where my wandering/wondering mind led me:  Nonna mentioned various towns in Russia where she lived as a child.  I said to myself, my Russian friend Meesha comes from Odessa. I'm going to see how far that is from where the author lived.  

So I went to Mapquest and asked for directions from one town to the other.

In the process of doing this, I noticed that when I hovered my cursor over Odessa, it said Odessa, Ukraine.  The other town, on the right, was in Russia.  How could this be?  
So I went to Meesha's Facebook page and asked, "This may be a silly question, but is Ukraine a different country than Russia?"  

Turns out it is.  But it's no wonder I was confused.  There's the title of Meesha's blog, for instance:  "Kansas City with the Russian Accent".  I recall seeing the statement, somewhere on his blog, this statement:  "From the mind of one Russian Jewish American".  

I think he needs to change the name of his blog to "Kansas City with the Ukrainian Accent".

 Here I go learning more geography.  My head hurts, trying to take all this stuff in.

Meanwhile, my wandering mind has led me to some photos of the Ukraine.  I wonder why I have always pictured all those countries in that part of the world (Russia, Germany, etc.) as being stark and gray.  Maybe that's a result of my watching too many old black-and-white war movies.  I saw some pictures of lovely countryside in Ukraine.  It seems they do a lot of farming there. 

So I wondered if the countryside in Russia is as lovely as that in Ukraine.  Guess what you get when you search for photos of Russia?  Pictures of maps, that's what.  Oh, and this:

Maps and buildings.  That's what the search for Russian pictures got me.  If I had to choose between Ukraine and Russia, I guess I'd choose Ukraine, just judging by the pictures.  

I just found out I need to be more specific when I do a search.  I tried Russian agriculture, and here's what I got.

  Then I searched for "Russian countryside".
I wouldn't mind having this framed, hanging on a wall.

So there are green things growing in Russia, but notice the gray, cloudy sky.  

Now my wondering mind wonders if I am going to be sued for snagging these pictures from all over the Internet.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A match made in heaven?

So here's the deal.  When Cliff spotted this Craigslist ad and read it to me, I asked him, "Where is this guy?"  
"Kansas City," he answered.  
Hmmm.  I don't think there are many bulls inside the Kansas City limits. 

Honestly, I hate to even have a bull on our property.  Bulls are horny creatures (they are male, so what else is new?) and loaded with testosterone.  This means if you catch them in the right mood, they might decide to kill you for sport just because they can.  But you know, if I am going to have cows, they're no use to me unless they can get pregnant once a year.   

Today I called the guy and asked him where he lives.  Turns out he is less than ten miles from us.  I asked him if he had facilities that would allow us to bring a heifer in heat to his bull.  He does indeed.  Grace is old enough to be bred, and she is due to come in heat on or before Christmas Eve.  I told him I would GLADLY pay him $50 if she could spend twenty-four hours with his bull.  

My only hope is that he doesn't sell or lease the bull before then.  Maybe we can even work Crystal in before the bull is sold.    

Just some pictures

I'm trying to get used to my new camera.

Penny, born last March

  At times like this George forgets he's just a lowly steer.  He thinks he's a bull!  I'm sure Penny is worn out from this, but she keeps hoping he might be able to perform.  This is a terrible picture that should have been tossed, but I wanted my city slicker friends to see how we know when to take a cow to visit the bull.  If the cow doesn't run from somebody trying to "ride" her, you know she is ready.  

This is Grace, my current favorite.  She is old enough to breed, and I have found a man just a few miles from here who will let us use his semen-tested Red Angus bull if he doesn't sell him too soon.  We can take her to him, rather than bringing a bull here.  This is wonderful, since Penny is too young to be around a bull.    

She's darker than most Jerseys, possibly due to a tiny bit of Holstein blood in her background.  But her stature and body type are Jersey all the way.  

This is Crystal, Bonnie's calf born in November of 2012.  I won't need to milk her, but the fact that she's half Jersey will mean she will probably have plenty of milk to raise a nice calf.  

Here you see George in hot pursuit of Penny.

Good old George.  He'll make some good meat for somebody's freezer next spring.  

I'm still getting eggs from my chickens.  Now that we have neighbors who actually keep their dogs at home, I can let them run free most of the day.  

This is another shot I should have trashed, but I was trying out the zoom.  It's been an overcast, foggy day, so I am really anxious to try this shot again on a clear day.  The farm you see is probably two miles away from here, on the other side of the Missouri River.  I don't see a house, so I guess the farmer must live somewhere else.  That's probably very wise, since the farm is in a flood area.  

I've had a revelation

I've been a Mac user for four years.  It's been rather fun pretending to be a Mac snob, although I'm not sure it counts when a person gets into it the cheapest way possible, which means buying a Mac Mini and using the monitor, keyboard, and mouse I already had.  

I really thought I was a confirmed Mac user, until I recently purchased a new camera; the Mac wouldn't let me download several of my pictures and videos when I tried to load them, giving me some message about format being wrong.  When you are taking pictures and/or videos of an adorable baby, this can be very disappointing.  I had almost decided to return my new camera and get my money back, when it occurred to me to try loading my next batch of pictures to Cliff's laptop.  

They loaded perfectly.  Now just wait, I'm sure you're thinking it's a problem that could be fixed by taking my Mac to an Apple store and getting it tuned up.  After four years, I've probably done several things to mess up my computer, and someone with the proper knowledge could get it working just like new.  But I no longer want it fixed, and I don't want another Mac.  

Today, since Cora's grandmother from Iowa is watching her, I took my camera out to the pasture to practice a little.  I came back, loaded them on Cliff's laptop, and began trying to figure out how to get them to my Mac Mini so I could do a blog entry.  

Just to show you how stupid I really am, I have been unable to put the computers on a home network in such a way that so I can access one computer from another, here at home.  But that's another story that has nothing to do with the Mac.  

As I was thinking about emailing a dozen pictures to myself, suddenly a voice from heaven seemed to speak to me, saying, "Why don't you do your blog entry on the laptop?"  

I think I even felt a gentle hand patting my silly head for not seeing the obvious.  

(Cliff isn't here today, which is why I didn't have to listen to his complaints about my tying up his laptop, or his wise cracks like, "What's wrong, the Mac won't do that for you?".)  

I began to go through the pictures I took, deleting some, renaming the ones I kept.  I edited a video I took yesterday, and realized that I LOVE the way Windows stores pictures, putting them where I can easily find them and making it SO simple to rename them.  And I was reminded that Windows Movie Maker ROCKS!  

I'm glad I've had my little Mac experience, but I'm going back to Windows.  I even have my next Dell picked out (at less than half the cost of a Mac).  Who knows, it might be here in time for Christmas if I order it today.  

P.S.  The Ipad will always be my device of choice, so I do have that particular loyalty.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why is a retired couple babysitting?

I don't recall explaining this before.  If I have, just pat me on the head and keep in mind that I'm getting up there in years.
Adam is the guy who has kept his horses here for several years.  It's worked out well for all of us:  He gets to keep his horses less than two miles away from his home, and we get a little extra money.  

Adam got married not so long ago, and he and his wife found themselves expecting a baby.  It wasn't what they had planned, but you know how things sometimes happen.  

I got to thinking how wonderful it would be to have a baby in our lives, so I broached the subject to Cliff:  "What would you think about us babysitting Adam's baby?  We've sold the motorcycle, and we're not likely to be traveling; your sciatica acts up if we travel over a hundred miles in the car.  We're pretty much stuck at home anyway."  

Cliff jumped on the idea like a dog on a bone.  Trouble is, I was afraid to approach Adam with my idea.  "What if he has somebody else in mind?  Would he feel obligated to accept our proposal, even if he had somebody else in mind?"  

So I mentioned the idea to my ex-daughter-in-law and my granddaughter.  They are related to Adam, and I thought maybe they could approach him with the idea.  

They sort of agreed to run the idea past him, but it never happened.  

So one day when Adam was out here messing with his horses, I got up the nerve to ask him if he had a babysitter in mind for their little bundle of joy.  He didn't. I told him Cliff and I would be glad to watch their baby, and he seemed happy with the idea.  I promised him we would spoil "it" (later "it" turned out to be "her").  

When we found out we were going to be babysitting Cora, we were elated.  We talked about how much fun it would be.  I told Cliff that if I had to, I would give up the cows and chickens, just for this opportunity.  If the baby took up a lot of my time, I would give up the garden for a year or two.  We were ready for anything.   

We still are.  I think we probably do spoil Cora a little, because I am not one to let a baby cry.  If I have to walk the floor with her, so be it.  If I need to rock her until she goes to sleep, wonderful!  It feels good to have a baby in my arms.  We really don't have that much going on around here, so when Cora is here, she is our number one priority.  Of course we get some money in the deal, but honestly, I don't even count on the money.  It surprises me when Cora's mom says, "How much do I owe you?"

Because it really isn't about the money.  

Cora makes us laugh.  She warms our hearts.  This has been a match made in heaven.  Sometimes I almost have to pinch myself, because I can't believe we are lucky enough to have someone trust us with their precious baby.  She will move on eventually, of course.  When she does, we may be putting out the word on the local grapevine that we are looking for another infant to babysit.  Hey, if you can't afford to travel and have to stay home, you may as well be doing something you enjoy.  

When you are as old as we are, and have been through a few kids, grandkids, and kids you babysat, you realize how short the time is.  Is the baby fussy because she has colic, or she's teething, or maybe "somebody" spoiled her a little?  It doesn't matter, because in a few weeks or months she'll be over it and will be giving you hundreds of hugs and kisses.  Life is so short! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bad seed

I used to watch Oprah occasionally.  During the month of December she would feature nice products, tell all about how wonderful they were, and then tell everybody in the audience that they would find those nifty things under their seats to take home with them.

Yesterday at my daughter's house, we were watching Ellen.  She had some guy telling about all these wonderful techie-type playthings and how much they cost.  When they were done with the list, she announced that every audience member was getting EVERY SINGLE ONE of those toys.  There was some other show before Ellen where they gave everybody nice gifts, too.  

Someone told me I should go to the websites and enter to win stuff the audience gets.  Yeah, that gives me one chance in 900,000.

The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice.  I confess, I do not rejoice for those people.  I WANT FREE TOYS!  Why should they get presents just because they happened to be present at those shows?  

Obviously, I am still the same spoiled little fit-throwing kid I always was. Maybe I'm just a bad seed. 


*Although there is some truth in this entry, I wrote it tongue in cheek.  I'm just confessing to some jealousy, that's all. 


Friday, December 13, 2013

A day with our daughter

Rachel underwent a tram Flap reconstruction Monday, since other means of breast reconstruction had failed.  Click HERE if you want to see what sort of surgery she had.  

She's doing amazingly well, but the doctor did not want her to be at home alone for a while.  Her husband can take off work to be with her at any time, but he doesn't get paid while he's off.  As we all know, the bills go on, no matter who's had surgery.  So yesterday Cliff's sister, Rachel's aunt Rena, stayed with her.  Today Cliff and I went over and hung out with her and her two dozen four dogs.  

It was fun and relaxing.  Cliff read on the Nook.  I surfed on the Ipad.  At one point I even stole a couple of the pillows Rachel was using to prop various parts of her body up, stretched out on the couch with a throw over me, and took a nap, with the smallest of the forty-two four dogs asleep on my belly.  Watching out for one's daughter is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.    

We drank coffee.  The three of us worried together about my daughter's constipation (it always happens after surgery and pain pills, right?) and had some laughs.  Cliff and I applauded Rachel when she finally came out of the bathroom, victorious.  

We sent Cliff for pizza.  I found a pumpkin roll in the kitchen and Cliff and I shared a slice of it.  

The granddaughters came home from school, and our watch was officially over.  

As we got in the car, I said to Cliff, "This was a good day."  

"Yes," he said, "it was."

It's Me

I haven't had much material to blog about.  Obviously.  It's wintertime, so I pass the hours reading a LOT of books.  I'm not good at book reviews, so for the most part I don't blog about what I'm reading.  However, a little meme on Facebook got me thinking this morning, and here is the gist of it:  In your status list 10 books you have read that have stayed with you in some way. Don't think too hard as they don't have to be great or the 'right' kind of book.

On the list, I mentioned the whole set of "The Book of Knowledge" as one work.  Just thinking about that triggered a flood of happy memories.  

As a child, I always wished for a set of encyclopedias.  Back then, salesmen would come to our door selling them for such exorbitant prices that I knew, even as a kid, they were way out of our range.  When I had free time at school, I would often pull out a random volume of Encyclopedia Britannica and leaf through the pages.  

The summer I was twelve, I think, my mom took me to Chillicothe to spend a week at a preacher's house so I could go to their vacation Bible school.  (For readers who knew me back then, the preacher's name was Joe Lemons.)  Joe and Lois had a set of "The Book of Knowledge", and I remember spending hours curled up in an easy chair in the corner of their living room reading from those volumes.  The Book of Knowledge was more than an encyclopedia set:  There were poems and stories and... well, I was hooked, that's all I can say.  I probably did more reading that week than I normally did in a year.  I knew I would never be lucky enough to own those books, so I wanted to read as much as possible while I had my chance.  

I was probably fifteen or sixteen when my parents began frequenting a weekly auction in Riverside.  I was walking along one of the tables of stuff that would be selling one week and noticed a box that contained every volume of "The Book of Knowledge".  I asked my mom to bid on it for me.  I think she was probably the only bidder, so those books went home with me.  Now, this was an old set, probably from the thirties, but that bothered me not at all.  Once again I went into a reading frenzy.  Many of the poems that are still my favorites today were discovered in those musty-smelling pages:  "Jenny Kissed Me", "Even This Shall Pass Away", "Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening" (and others by Robert Frost), "Waiting", "November".  Somewhere along the line, I moved away from home and the books didn't.  I was done with them anyhow.  

When my daughter and her family moved into the house where they now live, a set of "The Book of Knowledge" from the fifties was left behind in their basement.  I latched onto them and kept at my cabin.  Once the cabin was forsaken, I tossed the books, but I did enjoy reading bits from them as part of my cabin experience.  

That set of books changed my life in more ways than I can count.  Just for the poems alone, those moldy-smelling old volumes were priceless.  



Saturday, December 07, 2013

The barn cats

 No matter how early I get up in the morning... sometimes it's as early as four o'clock... Jakie is waiting at the back door (the only door we use in this house) for his breakfast.  I apologize for the poor quality of the videos here, but I used the Ipad instead of the camera because I don't have to wait so long for Youtube to process them.  On this first one I forgot I had it set for video instead of a snapshot, so you have a two-second video.  But you get the picture.  I often wonder if he spends the whole night huddled against the door, or if perhaps he stays on the front porch until he hears us stirring around.  It's seven degrees right now, and there's a barnful of hay the cats could hole up in, but they hang around the house as usual until breakfast is served.

I only have the two barn cats now, Mama Kitty and her son Jake.  Since the weather turned cold, they are eating twice as much as they were before.  I like to feed them early in the morning, because I want their pan empty by nightfall.  Anything left overnight is likely to be eaten by raccoons, opossums  rats, or skunks.  

I pour their cat food into an pan, and they both start eating like they're starved.  But then Jakie will crowd his mom out with his big old tomcat head, and she's left looking at me as if to say, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"

Yesterday I placed an old dirty bowl next to the pan, thinking Mama Kitty might have a better chance if she had her own serving.


But Jake just goes back and forth between the two containers of food as though he thinks one might be tastier than the other.  And his mother looks up at me as if to say, "Can you believe this kid?"    

Just so you know, they have a heated water dish near their food.  It would be nice if the chickens had it so good, but there's no electricity at the henhouse.  So when it's bitter cold like this, I make three or four trips daily with hot water to thaw the ice for them.  

Friday, December 06, 2013

Learning geography from works of fiction

Geography and world history have never interested me at all, especially when they concern some country that had nothing to do with the history of the United States.  I've known a little about the extreme poverty in India for years, of course.  It's one of those places I conveniently put out of my mind, because it seems it would be an impossible task to change the lives of millions of people who are starving, so why lay awake nights worrying about them?

I'm reading a book entitled "Secret Daughter" about a girl adopted from India.  The story goes back and forth between the U.S.,  where she was raised, and India, where she was born.  I am intrigued by the author's descriptions of Indian food and decided to get online and see how far I would have to travel to taste some of that kind of fare.  Apparently the closest place to me is the Habashi House at City Market.  Reading reviews of the place, I noted that the reviewers liked the food, but a couple of people said it was more like Pakistan cuisine than Indian.
Now, here is the round-about way my mind works:  Seeing the country of Pakistan mentioned in the reviews, I recalled that I once worked with a young Pakistani man at the apple orchard.  He had an attitude and a smart mouth, and I decided I wanted nothing to do with that part of the world.  Prejudice happens.  Yes, I judged a whole country by one person.  But I digress.

Here's how little I knew about that part of the world:  As I searched for reasons as to why an Indian restaurant would have Pakistani food on their menu, I found out Pakistan (the green area on the map above) used to be part of India.  Good grief, how different could the food be if the countries are that close?  I made my way to the Habashi House website and learned that they bill their food as "middle-eastern".  That covers all the countries I'm learning about.  I wonder if they serve chai, the tea everybody in my current book is drinking all the time.  

I'm discovering a lot of facts about the middle east that I never knew or cared about before.  Recently I read "A Thousand Splendid Suns", a work of fiction by Khaled Hosseini. The story is set in Afghanistan.  This morning, looking up the location of Pakistan, I noticed that those two countries are next-door neighbors.  Who knew?  OK, probably everyone but me knew, but some of us have to be tricked by fictional works into finding out about these things.

So here I am reading fiction and learning about geography and the history of countries to which I never gave a thought.  And I want to taste their food.  

Look at me, getting all educated and stuff!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

One of my favorite poems just hit home

Here's the poem:  

Jenny Kissed Me
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me. 

One of these eggs is not like the others (the story of Chickie)

See the blue-green egg at the top?  Chickie laid her first egg today!  

May 30th of this year we were at Orscheln's when I happened by the baby chicks.  One cage had a sign that said "Araucana pullets"; inside the cage was one lonely chick.  I thought it would be fun to have one hen laying a different-colored egg, so Chickie came home with me that day.  Once I got my "house chicken" home, I noticed she was missing a toe.  She had obviously injured herself in some way, there in the cage, which is probably why nobody had bought her.  She didn't seem to miss the toe.  

I got rather attached to my pet.  

I felt sorry for her, being raised all alone, so Cliff gave me a mirror to put in her little apartment.  She liked her new friend and hung out with her all the time.  

By the time Chickie got this size, she was smelling up the house pretty bad, so I put her in a wire cage in the chicken house, figuring the bigger chickens and she would get acquainted.  In the evening, as you see here, I went out and let her know I still loved her.  

The other chickens did not accept her when I turned her loose in the house, but she was a smart little pullet.  She found a spot where she could escape their murderous attacks, and I fed her on her special roost.  

When it came time to roost for the night, she ascended even higher.  The chickens all get along these days, but Chickie still roosts up there, alone.  

And now she has started to pay for her room and board.  I'm so proud.  

Monday, December 02, 2013

On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand

When I was a kid, that was my favorite Church song.  It was happy and upbeat and had great four-part harmony.  The reason the song came to mind is that I was upstairs this morning and happened to see this old songbook, copyright 1940:
Right down the road from my Grandma Stevens' house was the Zion Church of Christ.  This paperback hymnbook is from that church.  My mom wrote "Zion" on it at some point, probably thinking nobody would know where it came from after she was gone.  I would never forget, though.  Zion memories are all tied up with the grandma memories.  Sometimes I'd stroll down the road from her house, walk inside, and play church all by myself; the doors weren't locked.  I was the preacher, the song-leader, and the congregation, all in one.  Trouble is, I could never make a sermon last over five minutes.     

I see aunts and uncles and Grandma in this picture.  There were only two doors in the building, both in the front.  

I think they closed the doors of Zion sometime before 1960.

That battered old songbook has seen some hard times:  One time Big Creek got out of its banks and flooded Zion Church.  I was at Grandma's when it happened, and I remember watching her hang all those books on the clothesline to dry.

This was my favorite song.  But the strange thing is, I can't find this song, with this tune and chorus, anywhere on the Internet, so I'm going to fix that.  This is what I consider to be the REAL "On Jordan's Stormy Banks", because this is the one I grew up with.  

You get to watch Cora being cute while I sing.  That way you have something fun to look at.

Youtube has the "I Am Bound For The Promised Land" version by many different artists.  Different tune, different chorus.  I'm sure it's the oldest version, but that doesn't make it the RIGHT one.  

It's all over but the turkey frame soup

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, but it's the worst time ever for a person trying to maintain her weight.  Because I have maintained so well up to this point, I decided to throw caution to the wind, eat whatever I wanted for three or four days (that's how long Thanksgiving food stays around, after all) and then get back on track.  

I was expecting at some point to feel my jeans getting snug, but that didn't happen.  Of course, I don't wear my clothes tight, so there's always a little extra room in those jeans anyhow.  Cliff said he could tell his clothes were a bit snug.  

This morning I got on the scales with a sense of dread, which turned to elation when I saw I was only 1.6 pounds over my target weight.  I'll be rid of that by the weekend!  I hope Cliff fares as well.    

Yesterday morning I awoke with the feeling that I had overdosed on white flour, sugar, Velveeta, Crisco, and Cool Whip.  I was craving fresh fruit, but except for two bananas, there was none in the house.  Before the day was over we drove to the store and came home with tomatoes, grapefruits, oranges, and apples.  

Today I'll make turkey frame soup, which we'll have for dinner, and I'll freeze some in two-serving portions to have for other quick and easy December meals.    

Gracie, the oldest of my three heifers

We are still pondering how we will get my three heifers bred.  We will probably buy an Angus bull, keep him for a couple of months, then sell him.  If it weren't for Penny being so young, we could do this next month, but she really shouldn't be bred before March at the earliest.  Three cows bred in March would mean three cows having calves in December.  That could be tricky, too.  

After all our misfortune with cattle in the past year, I have toyed with the idea of selling them all, cutting my losses, and moving on.  But I do enjoy my Jersey cows.  

Here's a rare picture of me, Cliff, and our kids.  It isn't often the four of us are in the same location at one time.

And that's all I have for now.