Monday, June 30, 2014

Hen and chickens in action

Notice how Mother Hen's voice and manner of speaking changes when she calls her kids to eat.  I am SO enjoying this family!


Facts about the doctor who helped bring me into this world (see previous entry)

Google is an amazing thing.  I read something from my past that has a name with it, I look up the name, and there are some facts about that person.  I googled "J. Clark Cooper, Villisca, Iowa" and found these things:

Birth: Jun. 26, 1877
Buchanan County
Iowa, USA
Death: Jun. 8, 1962
Red Oak
Montgomery County
Iowa, USA

Jay Clark Cooper was the son of James and Janetta Cooper. He graduated from Quasqueton High School in 1894 and taught country school for a short time. He entered the Medical College of the State University of Iowa and received his medical degree in 1902.

After graduation he began practice at Defiance, Iowa. On 26 Aug 1902 he married Mary P Moore in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. In 1904 they moved to Villisca, Iowa, and Dr. Cooper continued practice there until 1962. At various times he studied in Chicago, New York, London, and Vienna.

During Dr. Cooper's time in Villisca he delivered over 4000 babies and was the first physician called to the scene of the gruesome Villisca axe murders.

Dr. Cooper and Mary had two children, Dr. Clark N Cooper and Dr. Margaret Cooper. Dr. Cooper died in Red Oak, Iowa, at the age of 84 years.

So he was in his fifties when I was born.  Oh, and I was one of over 4,000 babies he delivered.  He must have been an inspiration to his two children, since both of them became doctors.  The weirdest thing about Dr. Cooper, though, is his connection to the infamous axe murders:  The story can be found online HERE.  Dr. Cooper was the coroner at the time, so when you google his name, the axe murders are the first thing that comes up.  There are pictures included in the article of the house where the people were murdered.  I understand it's a favorite place for ghost hunters.  Last year (or was it two years ago?) we were up that way and ate a picnic lunch in Villisca.  I do wish we had taken the time to tour the house, but I had forgotten all about the story until we were long gone.  

I wouldn't have been looking for ghosts, though.  I don't believe in them.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A letter to my mother from the doctor who delivered me

I lost track of this particular letter for quite a while, and was afraid I had somehow tossed it away.  But the grandson, in the process of remodeling our old house, found a few things I neglected to move, and this letter was among those things.  

My mother lost one baby full-term and had a couple of miscarriages before that.  During her pregnancy with me, she developed what was then called uremic poisoning.  These days there is another name for it, but the name fails me right now.  If you read the words in this letter, you will see just how dangerous it was.  My parents-to-be pretty much assumed that either my mom would die, or I would.  They were asked whether they should concentrate on saving baby or mother, and I remember my dad saying that he told them by all means, save my mother if it came to a choice.  Remember, he lost his mother and his first wife to death in childbirth.  

There are two pages to this letter.  I'm making the pictures larger than I usually do.  I know it's too big for my blog, but as long as people can read it, I'm happy.  I will do other entries, and this one will gradually be pushed to the bottom and nobody will know the difference.  I was born in Iowa, but evidently we moved back to north Missouri shortly after my birth.  

  It seems Mother had written a letter of thanks to the doctor who was present when she finally managed to give birth to a full-term, live baby girl.  I remember her telling me that the doctor told her, as soon as I made my appearance, "It's a little Mary Jane."  

OK, here's page two:

The letter is postmarked July 22.  I was born on July 7.  There is just something I treasure about this letter.  I have to tell you that my parents did not heed the good doctor's advice to not spoil me.  Oh well.

Another tractor drive: touring an apple orchard

We knew there was a chance of rain ruining the drive.  When I got up, I checked and saw little risk of precipitation until around 3 P.M., at which time things got riskier.  Cliff decided to watch the TV weather-guessers, who said rain was coming right then.  Now that's quite a difference in forecasts, so Cliff called the club member who was in charge of this little ride and asked if it was still happening.  Yep, he said.  It was.  

So Cliff loaded the old Allis onto the trailer and we met up with the others at the city park in Dover (population:  very few).  There were fewer tractors on this drive than on any I've attended, but it was one of our better ones.  

This is Levi, the grandson of the local peach orchard owner, who rode on this Ferguson tractor with his grandpa.  

That's the trolley that most of the women usually ride on.  When I took this picture, the guys were making use of the seats while we waited for starting time.  There has to be a permit for these things, and a schedule, because we have a cop along keeping us safe, and he has to know exactly what comes next.  I assumed we paid for the escorts out of the club fund, but turns out it's free.  

Our main destination was Rasa Apple Orchard.  That's Norman Rasa, who was a wonderful tour guide.  That's my old apple-orchard boss Larry on the right.  These days he only has peach trees in his orchard, which is now managed by his son.  
We learned that the Rasa family established the orchard in 1922.  Of course it was much smaller then.  It's a family operation, with the brothers, their wives, and their children who are old enough all having a part in it.  I asked him if they all get along, and he said yes.  Then he explained how the work load is divided up among them.  There is also a cattle operation on the property, and one brother takes care of that, along with the haying and other work that goes with it. 

 Norman's main job is to oversee the orchard.  They have six year-around employees, but they hire around forty people to work in the shed during harvest as well as the migrants who pick the apples.

Times have changed since I worked for Larry.  The government has a whole bible of rules to follow, and there are federal inspectors visiting, even during the off season, checking everything out.  The machinery that sorts the apples is high-tech, and Norman said the replacement value of all the computer-run equipment would be at least a million dollars.  

Everybody is looking at the book of regulations.  That's our police escort on the right.  

Those small trees were planted last year and already have apples.  The apple trees I bought take five to seven years to bear fruit, but these have a special root stock that lets them begin bearing fruit early.  Because of this, all the trees have to be staked, or the weight of the fruit would pull the roots out of the ground and down would go the tree.  

Norman said that so far, this is the best apple year they've had in a long time.  When I made the comment, "... if it doesn't hail", he gave me a look that seemed to say, "Shut your filthy mouth."  They expect the harvest to begin in mid-August, which is usual.

  Large parts of the orchard are surrounded by electric fence, since deer were doing a lot of damage.  

We could see for miles and miles in all directions, at this point.  If you look at the farthest tree line, you can see a glimpse of the Missouri River.  Not the two bodies of water in the foreground, but way back there. almost to the skyline.

I always buy my apples at the Rasa Orchard retail stand.  You can travel a few miles farther east on 24 highway to what seems to be a more popular place, but the apples are never the quality I get at Rasa, and they are higher-priced.  Once in awhile I go to Waverly, just to see if anything has changed.  Nope: Still less quality for more money.  Only about five percent of the Rasa apples are sold through the retail stand.  The other ninety-five percent are shipped to Walmart, Kroger, and HEB.  Their juice apples go to Louisburg Cider Mill in Kansas. 

This was probably the best tractor drive I've been on, mostly because we did something besides just ride around on back roads at twelve miles per hour.  It's a shame there was such a low turnout. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I was born left-handed, like my dad.  I vaguely recall my mom, on my first day of school at the one-room schoolhouse, informing my teacher, Mrs. Eighmy, of my "infirmity", and the teacher asking her if she wanted me to learn to write right-handed.  Mother said yes, if possible, because things are so awkward for left-handers.  She added the "if possible" because Daddy always told the story of how his first teacher tried to get him to switch to the right hand and he adamantly refused.  

I don't recall having any problem with it.  My handwriting has never been the prettiest, and I always wondered if I would have had neater handwriting if I had been allowed to remain a lefty.  But the switch was no problem for me, perhaps because I had never learned to write with my left hand.  

I have also wondered at what age I started eating with my right hand.  Did I always use my right hand to hold my fork?  Perhaps Mother encouraged it from my earliest days.  

Here's the thing:  Even now, at the age of seventy, there are still a lot of things I do as a lefty.  Cliff notices this a lot more than I do.  I only think about it when my left hand becomes disabled.  Last week I was doing some pruning and pruned the tip off the index finger of my left hand.  It bled profusely, and Cliff helped me get it wrapped up nice and snug.  For a week I've been attempting to keep that bandaged finger clean, and it's very frustrating for me.  When I wash dishes, I normally hold the dishes with the right hand and wash them with the dishrag in my left hand; if I do it that way now, the left hand is the one that gets soaked, so I'm switching band-aids when I'm done.  I've become aware, these past few days, that I pull weeds better with my left hand, and try as I might, I will finally find myself using that hand.  This means dirty band-aids.  All I'd have to do is slip on a glove for the task, but I never go outside with the intention of pulling weeds.  I go to see how things are growing, or perhaps to tend to the chickens, and can't help but notice the weeds.  I start pulling them, not thinking about keeping my bandaged finger clean.  By the time I realize what I'm doing, I figure it's already dirty and keep on right on pulling weeds.  Yeah, you can switch a lefty's writing hand sometimes, but you can't take the left-handed leanings away.  

On another note, the electric fence around the garden is working great.  My tomatoes are safe.  It's rather funny to see the cats avoiding the garden area, as well as the chickens, when I turn them loose.  Some of them have obviously gotten zapped.     

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Foiling a varmint and enjoying my chicks

Let me just say that I appreciate the things Cliff does for me.  Of course, he wants fresh tomatoes too, but I don't think he would have gone to all the work he's done today just for his own benefit.  Tomatoes are the main thing I want from my garden.  If all else fails, that's fine, but I want home-grown tomatoes.  Some pesky varmint (or varmints, plural) has been eating green tomatoes every single night:  Pulling them off the plant, eating 1/4 of each one, and getting another.  

I really hope it's possums rather than raccoons, because possums don't bother sweet corn; coons do.  Someone figured as how it couldn't be a raccoon because they like water with their food.  Listen, if you camp out in any state park in Missouri, you will soon learn that those evil creatures will eat anything they can get their paws on.  One time when the oldest grandson and I were in our popup camper at Watkins Mill State Park, he woke me up:  "Grandma, Grandma," he called as quietly as he could and still wake me up.  "Shine the flashlight over here."  
A raccoon was IN the camper with us, eating a loaf of bread.  Nothing to drink, just the bread.  So there you have it.  They will also open your ice chests if you don't secure them and dig out hot dogs and other goodies.  The only animal that has done more damage to Missouri state parks would be geese:  Watkins Mill used to have the nicest, sandy beach at the lake there.  Then the geese took over, and last time we went, you pretty much were swimming in goose poop if you dared swim at all.  

  Anyway, here's the plan:

It's low to the ground and all the way around the garden.  Cliff was going to plug it in directly to 110, but realized that might kill the cats, as well as varmints.  So we'll get back the fencer we loaned to the daughter.  I hope her dogs have learned their lesson by now about digging under the fence.  

I am really enjoying my hen and chicks.  It's been a long time since I've had them around, and once I go outside, I can't stay away.  I thought I only put twelve eggs under that hen, but there are thirteen chicks.  I guess I wanted one for good measure.  
Cliff thought I would be letting Mama hen and her babies out during the day to roam free, but I reminded him of the brazen fox that trots around here in broad daylight, showing no fear of us at all.  Not to mention hawks.  Nope, until they outgrow this little coop the chicks stay there.  I will probably remove their mom when they are three or four weeks old and get her back in the egg-laying business.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Good news, bad news

First, a look at my Golden Rain Tree:

Next, the good news, ten babies and two more (at least) to come:
I suspect the two lightest-colored ones are from Chickie's eggs.  Remember Chickie, who used to be my pet?

Now for the bad news:
Now they are picking my tomatoes at night.

Either a possum or a coon.  

They're still eating them right on the vine, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happenings around the place

Two days ago I noticed I had a couple of tomatoes turning ripe.  My mouth was watering!  I am so ready for a fresh garden tomato.  But yesterday my hopes were dashed.  

Some pesky varmint had himself a feast.  You can tell the chickens didn't do this.  It was somebody with teeth!  The tomato was still attached to the plant when I found it, but I brought it inside to show Cliff.  Later on, I took it back outside and put it on the ground near the caged tomato, hoping that if the varmint came back he would finish this tomato rather than ruin another one.  This morning it was gone.  

I should have baby chicks by this evening:  Before we went to Iowa, one of my Buff Orpington hens went broody.  Once we returned, I had Cliff get my little portable chicken coop and put it near the chicken house,; I put some straw in it and made a nest, put some eggs in it (a dozen, I think) and placed the hen on the nest.  Not all settin' hens like to be moved, but this gentle lady didn't mind at all.  This morning when I checked the eggs, at least one was pipped, a couple were peeping, and I heard pecking in a couple of others.  Apparently the rooster has been doing his job correctly!  The eggs were fertile.  

I really need to take a video of what goes on at the chicken house first thing in the morning:  The rooster is always the first chicken off the roost, strutting about and crowing non-stop.  Heaven help the first hen that follows him off the roost, because Romeo Rooster only has one thing on his mind, and he is in hot pursuit.  That first hen gives him a run for his money, but she's doomed.  She is going to get some lovin' whether she wants it or not.  It's laugh-out-loud funny.  

We are enjoying it back here in the trailer house where we can see the sunsets and sunrises every day, without leaving the house.
  This was the view last night.  

We can also see the cattle herd from the house, most times.  Here they are this morning:
Yes, I have turned the boys out with the herd.  All of them had become acquainted through the fence, so it's quite natural that the calves hang with the adults.  That keeps them out of a lot of mischief they would get into on their own.  

My garden is pathetic this year.  I haven't even got all of it planted, and can't summon up enough interest in it to care whether things do well or not.  Meh.  I'd rather play with the baby when she's here.  

Speaking of the baby, she should be here soon, so I had better get out of my nightgown and into daytime clothes.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Spent the morning at a tractor show

Cliff wanted to check things out at the Lathrop show and see whether he might want to haul a tractor over there tomorrow (Saturday).  It was hot, even early at 9 A.M.  I had forgotten how spoiled I am.  I do go out in the heat and do things, but if I get hot I retreat to the air conditioning.  I've turned in to such a pansy over the last six years!  Anyhow, Cliff decided with the price of fuel, it wasn't worth loading up his big Oliver and hauling it sixty miles with a truck that gets about eight miles per gallon under a load.  He said he was going to stay home and mow the pasture, but then he and I had a discussion and decided we will go again tomorrow and get there in time to see the Parade of Power at 1 PM, since we didn't stay to see it today.  

I did enjoy my morning.  Because it was the Gathering of the Orange, Allis Chalmers tractors were out in force.  Our tractor club president was there with his wife, in the Allis tent.  He had three tractors there.  This was the biggest of the three
As you can see, he has some wheels for sale.  

You can tell a lot about a guy by reading the signs on his tractors.

Then I saw a tent FULL of Allis Chalmers tractors, all painted up and pretty.  I couldn't wait to see them.  OK, maybe I just wanted to get in the shade.  As it happened, though, I did get to hear some stories.  You KNOW how I love stories.  

A friendly lady was there who obviously had something to do with the collection.  "Does one person own all these tractors?"  I asked.  
"Yes, we own all but four of them at the other end that belong to some friends."  
"Good grief, how did you get them all here?"  
"Six tractor-trailers."
Obviously some people have more funds than we do.  

We talked about one thing and another.  She and her husband are from Vandalia, Missouri.  She said Lathrop was about as far as they ever intended to haul their tractors.  She told me the stories of a couple of their Allis Chalmers tractors, but I'll share my favorite one.  

When Linda was in the eighth grade, she developed a crush on a freshman.  Finally she got the nerve to invite him to a hayride, and from then on, they dated.  

As a teenager, her then boy friend was known to be a hard worker, and a neighboring farmer wanted to hire him to farm 160 acres.  The kid, if he did that, would have to use his dad's equipment.  Being a dreamer, and knowing his uncle had traded in a two-year-old Allis Chalmers WD 45 at the local dealer's place, he went to look at that used tractor.  He told the dealer he didn't have any money, he was just checking things out so he would know, when he DID have some money.  Then he asked the dealer if he had a good used three-bottom plow and a disk on hand.  Yes, he did.  
"If I had any money, how much would it cost for the tractor, the plow, and the disk," he asked.  
"$1,200", the dealer told him.  
And the kid went home.  
The next day he came home from school and there at the house sat the tractor, the plow, and the disk.  
"Do you know anything about this stuff?"  his dad asked.  
"I don't know why it's here," he answered.  
And he went in the house and called the dealer to ask what was going on.
"I want you to have that tractor," the guy said.  
"But I don't have any money."  
"It's OK.  You can pay me when you are able."
"My dad isn't going to like that."  
"Son, I walked to school with your dad when we were kids.  You tell him to stay out of this, it's between you and me."  
So that's what he told his dad, and his dad just smiled and walked away.  
And here he is, with that same tractor... and with his wife Linda, who told me the story.  

When they were still dating, he took a tool box off an old combine and added it as an extra to the tractor.  And put her name on it.  When he took the tractor to have it re-done a couple of years back, he told them to remove it, since it wasn't original equipment.  "Oh no you don't," Linda told him.  "I want it on there, and the year we started dating.  The kids will always remember when we got married, but I want them to remember the year we first met."  

 I just love a good story.  Don't you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My last hard Bible (part 2)

I was sitting in my favorite chair in the living room this morning when, out of the blue, there came the thought, "When is the last time you looked at your real Bible?"  

These days I use the Bible Gateway app on my IPad Mini.  I can type in notes if I want to, and there are some handy helps included with it.  I even have an app for the One-Year Bible, so I can read through the Bible in a year without dealing with the heavy paper-back book (if I remember to read it every day, which I haven't lately).  

So once that question came to mind, I assumed I was supposed to go get my real Bible and look at it.  Yes, friends and neighbors, I do believe Holy Spirit nudges us sometimes.  I came to the computer room, opened the closet, and there it was, up on the shelf where I put it when we moved back to the trailer house.  I took it to the living room, sat down, and opened it up.

Wow, I forgot that I bought that Bible in 1995 with money I was given for singing "Daddy, Carry Me" (a song I wrote) at Uncle Orville's funeral.  I think I also sang "One Day at a Time".    

There are lots of quotations written on those blank first pages, some from Nancy Blansit, a pastor's wife who was teaching Sunday School at the church I was attending.  Some from televangelist Joyce Meyer.  

It's a mess, isn't it?  Sloppy writing, every which way.  

There are certain verses marked because Rusty Douthitt preached a sermon using them.  Some are marked because at the time I read them at home, they had a particular significance to me, and I made note of that.  I saw a note in a margin that said Randy Ruiz preached on that passage:  I had to look him up on the Internet to find out he was an evangelist.  I remember nothing about the guy.  A note next to Psalm 40:3 tells me some preacher named Dan Livingston preached on that verse.    

This Bible has personality.  It speaks to me, and my notes remind me of things I once learned through my own experience, some of them lessons it wouldn't hurt me to re-learn.  I can make notes in my Bible Gateway app, but they aren't right there in plain sight, alongside the verses, where I will notice them.  

I think maybe it's time for me to start reading in my last hard Bible once in awhile, and carrying it to church.  I'll leave the Ipad in the car, after I've "checked in" on Facebook at Journey of Faith ministries.     

My last hard Bible (part 1)

I have a story to tell, and this is simply the teaser.  I didn't want to put these lyrics and the Youtube video in the same entry as the story; it would make too long an entry (not that I've been bothered by that before).

I assume Kasey Chambers wrote or co-wrote "Last Hard Bible", but I'm too lazy to keep Googling, and I didn't find a quick answer.  The song really has nothing to do with the entry I will do next except for the title.  "Hard Bible", you see, refers to a real paper-and-leather Bible, as opposed to an "e-book" on the I Pad or Kindle, and that's what I will be addressing later.

All the Youtube videos of Kasey singing the song were with live audiences, so it was hard to understand the words, but I found an excellent cover of the song.  I see this young lady has other songs on YouTube, and I intend to check them out.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pigs eat kale

First, let me say that Cliff and I survived another anniversary (June 14, our 48th) and he survived another birthday, making him sixty-nine years old.  From now until July 7, we will be the same age.  Then I will once again be a year older than he.  The big seven-oh.  

This weekend there is a tractor show in Lathrop, Missouri, featuring "The Gathering of the Orange", so there should be a lot of Allis Chalmers tractors there from all over the country.  This is of particular interest to us, since we are back in the Allis Chalmers mode.  However, Cliff is thinking of taking his big Oliver, since it's painted up and pretty.  I do wish the Allis was painted.

I planted kale in the garden this spring, not sure if I would like it or not.  But I was anxious to try something new.  Then we got into a drought and I ignored the kale, along with most of my garden.  Once the rains started, I had a bumper crop of viney weeds that I've been fighting.  Yesterday I thought perhaps I should sample the kale that is now flourishing.  I checked the Internet for harvesting and cooking instructions and learned that it should be picked when it is no bigger than the size of one's hand.  Too late.

I picked an armload of the stuff and tossed it into the pigpen, and was amazed at how enthusiastically they scared the stuff down!  Years ago when I had an abundance of milk from my cows we mixed up milk and wheat shorts, or middlings, to make slop:  pigs love that stuff and grow like weeds on it.  Well, I do believe these pigs like kale as much as my pigs of old liked their slop.  You don't have to take my word for it.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Fiftieth Wedding anniversary

Cliff and I aren't much for weddings OR anniversaries.  But we received an invitation that we simply could not turn down.  

We didn't even live in this community when they got married.  They look so very young, don't they?  It's funny how the right people come into our lives at just the right time.   Neither Cliff nor I remember how we first got acquainted with them.  I was raising baby calves back then, and they had a dairy.  Maybe that's how we met in the 80's.  Perhaps I was buying bull calves from them.  

There came a time when Cliff was out of work for quite a spell.  Emmett needed some help around the farm, and Cliff needed something to do (and loved everything about farming, even though he was born a city boy).  It was a match made in heaven.  They paid Cliff with dairy bull calves for me to raise, so I had something to do that made a little money too.  When Cliff spent a day there, he ate the noon meal with them.  Their son, Jonathan, once told Cliff, "I like it when you are here for dinner, because we get dessert when you're here."  

I had some Jersey cows at the time, and Emmett knew how to do artificial insemination on cattle.  I had him order semen from a Jersey bull for me, and he came and bred my cows free.  

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.  This family turned hard times into one of the most memorable periods of our lives.  They moved away some years ago, but we were glad to touch bases with them again.

I saw a lot of people from my little town at the gathering today.  There were also several people from the church I used to attend.  It was a good day.

Their youngest daughter, Martha, reads my blog.  I should have asked her how she found it, but it doesn't matter, really.  

And Martha, if you are reading this, the Lathrop tractor show is next week; we drove up there to make sure.  So we didn't miss it and we will be there next Saturday with a tractor.  Possibly Friday too, but Saturday for sure.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Blast from the Past

Recently a great-nephew, Brian, messaged me on Facebook to tell me he had sent me something in the mail.  Honestly, I couldn't imagine what on earth Brian would be sending me.  With any luck, I thought, maybe he was sending me some of his art work!  

Well, I hadn't received whatever it was (we had been in Iowa for three days), but I went to the post office and there it was, along with a letter of explanation.

Sometime around 1986, you, Rachel, your parents, and Russell & Maxine visited us in Edmond.  You'd had some car trouble on the way and had to leave a car somewhere along the way.  
I know all this because while Rachel, my dad, and Russell went to retrieve the car, you played and sang for us and I recorded it.
I wanted to send you a copy of the recording --- you'll hear your singing and playing, comments from the peanut gallery, more comments from the grown-ups, and a diagnosis on the cause of your car trouble.  The recording quality isn't great, but the content is priceless.  
I've always been drawn to musicians, and I attribute that to your influence.
And, because I'm sure I didn't back in 1986, I'd like to thank you for singing and playing that day.  It has meant so much to me.

And he signed it with his big ole artistic "B".  

This is the cover Brian made for the CD he sent.  That's me, singing to him (at a different time, I think).
Here's a funny thing:  Brian and his brother were just kids then, and there were two songs I always sang for children:  "The Old Sow Who Had Three Little Pigs" and "The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly", so I sang them on this occasion.  Before I sang the songs, I mentioned a lady named Lois Percell, the person who introduced me to "The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly".  She is probably the biggest reason I learned to chord on the guitar years afterward, and I only ever heard her sing that one song.  She was fixing dinner and that was all she had time for, but I never forgot it.  I wish I had thought of sending her a letter, telling her how she inspired me to get a guitar and, later on, write a few songs.  However, her two daughters are Facebook friends, and I think I've told them.  

On the CD Brian sent, I sang a song, "Baby Boy", that I had written for Arick, my first grandchild, who was in Germany at the time because our son was stationed there.  I also sang a home-made song that I had totally forgotten about called "Be a Believer".  


You're a very special person.  There's no one quite like you.
No one's thoughts are quite the same, and no one's point of view.
We're all individuals.  That's what makes the world go 'round.
Stand tall and hold your head up, and you'll make it, safe and sound.
               Be a believer.  Keep on believing. 
               Just give the best of what you are, and there is nothing you can't do.
               Hard work and confidence will take you anywhere you please.
               There's nothing that can stop you if you believe in you.

Now friends, I love Missouri.  It's the finest place on earth,
And you know I love America, the country of my birth.
This country's seen some hard times and I know she will again,
But if we all believe in her, we'll make it in the end.
               Be a believer; stand for your country,
               You know the pilgrims paid the price so we could have our liberty.
               Believe in justice and in equality.
               Believe in patriotic pride and help to keep our country free. 

Don't let folks discourage you, don't let them get you down,
There's Someone who will help you plant your feet on higher ground.
Just lift your eyes to heaven:  There's a Father up above,
He hears you when you pray to Him and He sends you all his love.
               Be a believer.  Believe in Jesus,
               Believe in all the things He'll help you do when no one else is there.
               Be a believer, keep on believing,
               For if you believe in Him, you'll always have a friend who cares.

Sometimes I look at poems and songs I wrote back then and ask myself, "What happened to all that enthusiasm and optimism?"

I miss it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Kinzenbaw tractor collection: The grand finale of our Iowa trip

Last year in November, Cliff and I went to Iowa with our tractor club and, among other things, toured the Kinze Manufacturing plant.  You can see my entry about that HERE.  While we were there, all the club members signed up to see Jon Kinzenbaw's private tractor collection at some time in the future; there's up to a three-year waiting list for that tour, since he only shows his tractors twice a year.  However, the mother of the the little girl we watch knows some of his family members and pulled some strings to get us there sooner.  Several weeks ago, I got a phone call from Jon's secretary, who added us to the spring tour and emailed me the information we needed.  

 Since we were in group two, we would see the tractors first, and then came the plant tour, which we had already done in November.  Cliff opted to head for home once we had seen the tractors.  

We entered Jon's farm through open gates and went straight to his shop, where others were milling around; two guys who help him with restoration and upkeep of the tractors were there to answer questions.  

Cliff enjoys seeing anybody's shop, but this one was especially interesting to him.  

Cliff liked the idea of having all the basic tools on wheels, so a person could take them to the tractor he's working on.  He asked one of the two employees where Jon paints his tractors.  Turns out he hauls them to the Kinze plant to get them painted.    

We knew our tour would soon begin when Jon Kinzenbaw arrived.  

He had the most Farmall H tractors I've ever seen in one place.  "H" and "M" tractors are three deep on the left.  It was very difficult to take pictures.  There were always several people in the way, and the lighting wasn't the best for photos.  

Tractors were stacked two and three high in some of the sheds.  Jon said they try to start all of them at least once a year.  

The man isn't prejudiced:  He likes tractors in all colors.  

Some people rode an elevator up to the second floor of this shed.  I took the steps.  

Looking across the field from the second story of the shed.

These tractors were suspended by chains.  

I may do more blogging about this tour.  Right now, I'm really tired of sitting here waiting for pictures to load.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

AT&T angels

This is just a little side note from our road trip.  

When we switched to AT&T from T-Mobile, I picked out a phone for Cliff online.  I should have known better.  In the first place, it was sort of a smart-phone, although all the people I know who have those say it was the craziest thing they ever saw.  When you get a phone that even teenager granddaughters can't figure out, you know you have really messed up.  Cliff and I don't text or email or any of that stuff from our cell phones.  We talk to people on the phone, and that's the extent of it.  

So Cliff has hated his stupid phone from day one, and I have hated it right along with him.  I kept thinking that when he was due for another phone, I'd get a simpler one.  He wanted a flip-phone with nothing fancy about it.  

His hated phone had been needing  charges frequently during the last several weeks; while we were in Iowa, it totally stopped charging.  We found out we could use it if it was plugged into the charger; otherwise, nothing.  I have a Tracfone, and buy a small amount of minutes each month.  Because we had moved and I had been making lots of calls (especially to CenturyLink), my minutes were gone, so I left my phone at home.  It's frustrating to be two hundred miles from home and not have a working cell phone, and of course at the back of my mind I was wondering if we could ever get a phone that Cliff would be satisfied with.  

Desperate, we decided to find an ATT store somewhere on our way back to Williamsburg from LeClaire.  Thanks to Siri, a lady who lives inside my Ipad, we found there was one just off the freeway in a mall in Coralville, Iowa.

We walked into the store and were met by a young man who worked there.  "How may I help you?" he asked.  

I told him our story, then explained that Cliff wanted a simple flip phone with no frills.  

"I have such a phone," he said, "but it would require a two-year contract and cost $36.  You need to go just around the corner to Target and tell them you want an AT&T Go flip phone.  It won't cost much.  Then bring it to me and I will help you set it up."

The guy was an angel sent from heaven.  

We did ($15), he did (no charge, but we thanked him profusely), and Cliff is a happy camper.  

Just a little fringe benefit from our trip.  

It worked great.  There was a minor glitch Saturday, though:  Cliff could receive calls, but when he tried to call someone, he got a message, "emergency calls only".  Using my visiting sister's phone, I called AT&T for help.  I wasn't optimistic, having heard bad things about their customer service.

I don't know about their customer service in general, but the lady I made contact with was an angel sent from heaven.  She needed the make and model of the phone:  Of course the make was on the phone, but no model number.  She patiently started describing flip phones, asking if that's what mine looked like.  Finally we found the right one.  Then she asked me to take the back off.  My sister and I both tried and failed, so she tried to describe to us how to take the back off the phone.  Everything she asked me to do, it seems neither my sister nor I could figure out, so the lady had to explain even the simplest things, and gradually talked us through everything.  She removed the old phone from their information, system, whatever you want to call it, and added the new one, and Cliff now has a working cell phone.  

Chuck Brodsky

I hope I see you later - 'cause it's time for me to go
That's my ride that just pulled over - and it sure was good to know you
So go answer your calling - go and fill somebody's cup
And if you see an angel falling - won't you stop and help them up?

    We are each other's angels - we meet when it is time
    We keep each other going - and we show each other signs

Sometimes you'll stumble - sometimes you'll just lie down
Sometimes you'll get lonely - with all these people around
You might shiver when the wind blows - and you might get blown away
You might lose a little color - you might lose a little faith

    We are each other's angels - we meet when it is time
    We keep each other going - and we show each other signs

Thank you for the water - thought I was gonna to die out here in the desert but you quenched my thirst
Let's break a little bread together - I've got a little Manna - it was a gift
From someone who was passing by and offered me a lift

    We are each other's angels - we meet when it is time
    We keep each other going - and we show each other signs

Our third place of interest last Monday: the John Deere Pavilion.

As you can probably imagine, this trip to see a gigantic tractor collection come Tuesday turned into three days of tractor stuff:  In other words, Cliff's idea of a perfect vacation!  And at this point, we had yet to see the main attraction.  But we sure found some nifty stuff along the way.  I'll just share a few pictures taken at the John Deere Pavilion.    

This logging machine actually "walked".  Unfortunately, if I remember the story correctly, it proved to be impractical because it was too slow.  Cliff isn't inside with me, so I can't ask him.  

People are allowed to climb aboard any of the tractors and machines on display.

Now that's a BIG combine!
And to think it all started with this hand flail.

Cliff and I climbed up into the cab of the huge combine.  This was the view from inside.
A combine cab is a nice place for a selfie, right?

A rice harvester, sold only in China.

A tractor that needs no driver.  It isn't on the market yet.

After going through all that machinery, we stepped over to the gift shop.  I bought the Little Princess a John Deere shirt and a John Deere green toy tractor and truck.  I took my time looking at things and then looked around for Cliff so I could tell him I was done shopping.  I couldn't see him anywhere!  
I finally found him in a little room, watching videos about tractors.
This entry is mostly pictures simply because I didn't absorb a lot of the information.  This wasn't my favorite part of our mini-vacation, but obviously Cliff had a great time.