Friday, July 31, 2015


Because of our record rainfall, this has been a good year to discover just how well the various tomato varieties will (or won't) perform.  While there are NO tomatoes producing as they should, or escaping blight problems, some are more promising than others.  

I tried two heirloom tomatoes, Mr. Stripey and Black Krim.  Mr. Stripey obviously doesn't like wet weather.  We have not had one bite of a tomato from that plant, and the way things are going, we won't.  The Black Krim is producing a few large fruits. They really are tasty, but Cliff doesn't like them because they are ugly.  However, the taste is like that of the old Ponderosa tomatoes I used to love so well:  Low-acid, large, and meaty.  Sort of a beefsteak tomato... and I believe I've found one of those I will try again:  Brandy Boy Hybrid.  It isn't doing the greatest this year, but I believe it will do well in a "normal" year.  It bears large, meaty fruits that taste like my Ponderosa.  Oh, how sweet it will be to taste such a tomato again.

My main tomato crop is made up of Celebrity plants, which normally survive the curse of blight to a great extent.  They are giving me some fruits, but in a normal year I would have canned dozens of quarts and be giving tomatoes away.  I won't be canning tomatoes this year.  

I tried two other new hybrids, the most promising of which is Big Daddy.  Twenty years ago I would plant two varieties of tomatoes in my garden:  Big Boy and Rutgers.  Because of blight, I gave up on both of those, but I believe Big Boy lives again in the Big Daddy plants!  None have ripened, but there are HUGE green tomatoes there, and while the plants have quite a bit of blight, it isn't as bad as the others, and so far none of the green tomatoes have spots on them... did I say they are HUGE?  The other new variety I sampled is Cloudy Day hybrid.  It's handling the blight as well as could be expected, but the tomatoes are pretty small.

So, next year, God willing that I live to see it and can still walk to the garden, I'll plant Celebrity as a main crop (as usual) and Big Daddy and Brandy Boy for the table.  I noticed that a search on the Burpee site no longer brings up the Cloudy Day hybrid, so I imagine it was a colossal failure with everyone.  I don't mind cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes, but I don't especially want a plum-sized tomato.

There you have it, a tomato review from a mediocre gardener.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Meet Erin, as I answer her milking questions

Someone who had never commented on my blog left her first comment the other day.  Since the name she uses to comment on Blogger is Erin from Iowa, I left a question for her in the same comment section, asking in what part of Iowa she lives.  She came back with this response, still in the comment section: 
"Hello again! I live in a loft style apartment in downtown Des Moines,Iowa. My three daughters also live in DSM with their families. I am deaf and lip read. I have lots of windows so I enjoy gardening with my houseplants. I also keep busy cooking, baking, reading, knitting, sewing, the list goes on. One good thing reading your blog did for me was made me realize I could get a breast reduction. Which I did in 2008. Five pounds off each side! I tell folks get two five pounds bags of flour and hold them to your chest. That's what it was like. So I thank you for being so forthcoming and helping others. :)"

I don't get nearly as many comments in my comment section as I once did, chiefly because I share each entry on Facebook as soon as I finish it.  (That's too soon, because I often find myself fixing typos and correcting stupid mistakes after several people have read it, but being polite folks, they don't say anything.)  These days most of the comments on my entries are on the Facebook update.  So this was a nice surprise, and a reminder that you never know whose life you may be influencing.

On my last entry, she posted some questions.  Being a city gal, she doesn't know any of the old-timey farm basics, and was curious.  So I'll answer those questions for her and my other "townie" readers.
"Do you have a post showing the steps taken to home pasteurize milk? How to get the cream off? How to store the milk and cream. You never know when city folk might find a source for the real deal."

If you click on THIS LINK, you will see how to pasteurize milk at home.  If you want to spend $400 or so, you can order a pasteurizer (click HERE).  

Around here, we drink raw milk.  Yes, we do.  In the interest of world health, let me give you a warning from our government, because we all know they have our best interests in mind:  

Why raw milk is dangerous

Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. Yes, it’s true that it’s possible to get “food poisoning” or foodborne illnesses from many foods, but raw milk is one of the riskiest of all. Raw milk and products made from raw milk (such as cheeses and yogurts) can cause serious infections, such as SalmonellaListeria, and E. coli.

What happens if you get sick from raw milk

Getting sick from raw milk can mean many days of diarrhea, stomach cramping, and vomiting. Less commonly, it can mean kidney failure, paralysis, chronic disorders, and even death. The seriousness of the illness is determined by many factors, such as the type of germ, the amount of contamination, and the person’s immune defenses.
Speaking of immune defenses… it’s important to remember that some people are at higher risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk. The risk is greater for certain age groups, such as infants, young children, and older adults. It’s also particularly risky for pregnant women (and their unborn babies) and those with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV/AIDS.

Friday, July 24, 2015

When things get old, they are labled "vintage"

When I strain the milk I bring to the house, I often wonder whether my metal milk strainer will outlast my need for it.  In case you are wondering what a milk strainer is, I did an entry about straining milk HERE.  Click on the link and you will find out more than you ever wanted to know.

I know it's silly to be sentimental about something like a milk strainer, but I'm nuts that way:  I've had that thing ever since my parents sold us our first milk cow in 1968.  They threw in the strainer with the cow, and although I've had several periods of cow-less-ness (how's that for a word?) since that time, I can't bring myself to toss it.  It's a good thing, since at this point I'm using it again.  Lord only knows how old it is.  I only found out yesterday that this type strainer was made to set atop the old milk cans, back when any small farmer could milk a couple of cows and sell the milk for cheese-making and the cream for butter-making.  If you checked out the entry I linked above, you saw the pictures of the way I use it, which is exactly how my mom showed me.  

One part of my milk strainer is broken, and I handle it gently in hopes it will last me as long as I need it.

It's like that about a third of the way around that disk.  This is the part that goes on top of the paper filter, to hold it in place.  

I Googled "milk strainer" last night and found that they can still be purchased, although the new ones are not made exactly like this one.  Most of them are stainless steel, smaller, and come at a high price.  I don't plan to buy one, but I was curious.  You know, just in case the day comes when that metal thing falls apart.  I wouldn't invest a lot in something to strain milk because, at my age, even if I live another twenty years (God help my knees if that happens), I know I am liable to stop milking cows at any time, either out of necessity or out of weariness.

I made an interesting little side trip in my Internet travels yesterday; I stopped by Ebay, and found out the old milk strainers are labeled "vintage" and are used to make things like lamp shades.  Really?  I have to say, that made me smile when I first read it.  I've seen some ugly lamp shades in my time, but I think a metal milk strainer would out-ugly all of them.  I found one strainer almost exactly like mine with a buy-it-now price of $42, except the part I need even has a fancy little knob to hold onto when you place it down in the strainer!

I don't suppose I could get them to sell me that part and keep the rest of the strainer for a lamp shade (yes, I am still smiling at the thought of a lamp shade).

I think if I am VERY careful, I can make that poor old piece of metal in my vintage item last me as long as I need it.  Here's hoping.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cookies and butter and other good things

If a recipe calls for butter, I try to use the real thing.  Don't get me wrong, if you use the right kind of margarine (oleo, as we called it when I was growing up), you can't tell a huge difference.  Using "the right kind" is the secret.  

I've heard so many women say, "I can't make good cookies."  

I used to wonder how this could be.  If everybody follows a recipe, it ought to turn out the same for all of them, right?  But in talking to people, I've found out that not everybody knows there's a difference in margarines.  

I learned the basics of cooking from the old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  For the most part, my mind was a blank slate when it came to learning to cook, because although my mom was a great cook, I paid very little attention to her efforts until they showed up on the table, ready to eat.  When I moved into my first apartment at the age of eighteen after my dad's work relocated, I bought the cookbook that was to teach me many of the basics, one I still use.  I've also bought every updated version since then.  But I digress.  

There you have it.  If the recipe calls for "butter or margarine", use the proper kind of margarine.  Most people won't know you used a butter substitute.    

Because I can afford butter, that's what I use.  There is a difference when you use the real thing, but it's subtle.  Butter costs around $4 a pound these days, but if you buy it at Sam's Club or Costco, four pounds at once, it's around $2.50 a pound, I think.  

Cliff and I will go to our tractor club meeting tonight.  Several of the women take cookies, cakes, and various types of snacks for after the meeting.  Sometimes there is such an abundance of goodies that most of it gets carried back home; other times, it's a meager feast.  We often take cheese, summer sausage, and crackers, which is quite popular until a couple of other people bring the same thing; then we bring a lot of ours back home.  I don't always take anything, but I don't want to seem like a moocher, so sometimes I chip in.

The other day when we went shopping, I needed butter, but we didn't need enough items to go to Costco.  So I reluctantly paid almost four bucks for one pound of butter at Walmart.  Cliff reminded me about the meeting coming up, and I told him that since the peanut butter cookies I made the other day made such a big hit around here, I was going to make a double batch to take to the meeting.

But the recipe calls for butter.  I hate to use that expensive stuff making cookies, but it's what I have.

Of course, I do have a couple of dairy cows.  Grace gives 2% milk, I always say.  She doesn't give a lot of cream, and what she does give isn't rich and thick, the way I like it.  So I let some calves take her milk twice a day, and when I want milk and cream, I milk Penny:  She only gives about half the amount of cream most purebred Jerseys would (she's part Holstein), but at least the quality is good, and it's enough for my coffee.  I usually milk two of her quarters out once a day, in the morning; in the evening I let calves have it all.  I bring in a little over a gallon of milk each morning, skim off the cream twenty-four hours later, and give most of the skim milk to the pig.  Boy, does that pig come running when he sees me pouring milk into his trough!  
Back to the butter:  I asked myself if I really wanted to milk Penny twice a day for two or three days to get a decent amount of cream to make butter and decided it would be worth it.  A pound of butter free!  So yesterday I churned, which simply means I put about seven cups of cream in a gallon jar and shook it for thirty minutes.  Then I drained off the buttermilk (happy pig), washed the butter with cold water, and VIOLA!  I had a pound of butter.

Today the toddler and I will make a double batch of peanut butter cookies.  That is, if I can get Cliff out of the house long enough to stop playing with her.  

We sure do enjoy that little girl.

Monday, July 20, 2015

People are the motivating factor

When I started going to the small church I currently attend, by my third Sunday there someone said, "Don't you sing?" or "Didn't you used to sing?" and from then on, I kept getting requests to get up and sing.  I wasn't comfortable with doing that, because it had been years since I had sung and played my guitar in front of a group of people (and I'm a lousy guitar-strummer and a mediocre singer).  This wasn't that artificial "Ah, shucks, folks, I can't sing" sort of thing you so often see from someone who is really dying to perform (we've all seen that, haven't we?  And you KNOW that person is DYING to have an audience).  

I seriously didn't want to do it.  But I finally acquiesced.  After half-a-dozen times or so, I became comfortable with the whole thing; after all, it's a small group of people I sort of know, people who laugh at their own little mess-ups.  And I soon became very thankful that I had a chance to share some songs I wrote in the 70's and 80's that otherwise would have gone with me to the grave; truthfully, I had forgotten how really good some of those songs were!  These folks began to call me "songwriter", and sometimes I would protest that I used to be a songwriter, but I don't write songs any more.  My protests fell on deaf ears for a long time, but finally, yesterday, a lady asked the question:  "Somebody said you don't write songs any more... is that right?"  

"Yes," I said, "that's right."  

"Why not?"  

Well, that stumped me at the time.  "I don't know, the songs just don't come to me any more," I said.  And then threw in, "Of all the things I've lost in life, I think I miss my enthusiasm the most."  

Which, I think, had very little to do with why I've lost the inspiration to write songs any more.  By the time Cliff and I got home from Church, I figured out the answer to the question, and it's a simple one.

I stopped writing songs when there was no longer anybody to listen.  

Back when I was writing songs at a pretty good pace, I always had some group of people I could go to and say, "Hey, I have a new song.  Would you like to hear it?"  

People would call me occasionally and ask me to write a poem or song for some special occasion, and like magic, I would come up with something that wasn't too bad.  

When that stopped, when there was nobody to sing a new song for or share a new poem with, the motivation was gone.  If you don't use it you lose it, and I no longer had any inspiration.  Still don't, really, even though I now have a small group of people who would listen.  But it's gone.  

Just now the thought occurred to me, how many people have I failed to encourage or applaud, people who might have gone on to do great things with some talent of their own, if only I had done my part in motivating them and their talents?  Maybe all they needed was someone to listen.  

Kris Kristofferson once talked about writing songs for people who don't listen, but he obviously had more self-motivation than I.

If you waste your time a-talking to the people who don't listen
To the things that you are saying, who do you think's going to hear
And if you should die explaining how the things that they complain about
Are things they could be changing who do you think's going to care?

[There were other lonely singers in a world turned deaf and blind
Who were crucified for what they tried to show
And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time
Because the truth remains that no-one wants to know

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My current cattle plans

I do plan to sell Penny this summer, but not yet.  She is supplying milk for three calves and one pig:  free food for them all!  I intend to keep her around so those calves, and the pig, will keep on growing and doing well.  I could feasibly wean the calves any time now, but in order for them to do well, I'd have to buy grain until they are at least five months old.  They get some grain now, but not a lot, because of the milk they're getting.  The pig doesn't require milk at all; I could buy a complete ration for him at the elevator.  But that isn't free, and the milk is.  By the way, he LOVES his milk.

I'm thinking I will put Penny up for sale sometime in September.  I advertised her before she calved last spring, but I deliberately overpriced her.  When I put her on Craigslist this fall, the price will be reasonable.  I will probably price her at $1,200 and possibly take less if I must.  If nobody buys her at that point, she will have to go to the sale barn, which would be a real shame for such a good cow.  Dairy cows mostly sell for slaughter at the sale barn.  

 As you can see, at the present time, dairy cows are in plentiful supply on Craigslist, and there isn't all that much demand for a cow you have to milk twice a day.  However, none of those listed are in this area.  I guess they advertise on Kansas City Craigslist because they can't sell the cows in their own area.  

The whole reason for this plan is that I would like to go someplace overnight at times, and I can't as long as there is a cow around that has to be milked.  Grace, my other cow, is a superb nurse cow, and accepts as many calves as I can put on her.  This means the calves can take care of the milking.  If we want to leave, we shut her in a lot with whatever calves are getting their nourishment from her, make sure she is fed and watered (Grandson will be here to make sure of that), and we're good.

There is one slightly tricky detail for this fall.  You knew there would be a catch, didn't you?  In early November our tractor club is taking a two-day trip, and I intend to go.  Grace is due to calve in late October.  If she ends up going much over her due date, we could be gone when she calves... last time we tried that, a calf died because it was too big for a heifer to birth easily.  However!!!  Grace isn't a heifer, she's already had a calf successfully.  AND she is bred to the runt Jersey bull we took to the butcher shop this week, so the calf should be small.  Another catch is this:  If she calves early or on time, she will be giving too much milk for one calf and I will have to hope and pray I can secure a couple of Holsteins from the dairy at Higginsville at that time and get them all, the mother and calves, comfortable with one another before the trip.  All these things look perfectly logical on paper, but old Murphy, with  his stupid law, is always right around the corner waiting to spring into action.  

Worst-case scenario?  We skip the trip and lose the $300 we paid for it.  

It's only a one-night, two-day trip.  Please say a prayer for us and/or send good vibes our way, and don't forget to keep Penny in mind as you do so.  I really don't want to send her to slaughter; she is gentle (doesn't move a muscle when I'm milking), young, and bred to a Jersey bull.  

But I will, if that's what it takes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


My mother, although a great cook herself, never actually taught me to cook.  I think she loved to cook so much that perhaps it was just easier and more enjoyable to do it herself rather than bother with me.  On the other hand, I don't think I really cared to learn.  Oh, Mother would buy the occasional Chef Boyardee Spaghetti kit that I might make for supper for the two of us when she got home from work (Daddy worked nights), but that's about the extent of it.  

In the seventh grade I took my one and only course of Home Economics.  The only thing I actually got out of the class was how to make baking powder biscuits, which nobody in my north Missouri clan, on either side of the family, ever made, to my knowledge.  

It was probably a couple of years later that my parents and I went home for dinner with a couple from church; the lady, named Goldie, made biscuits with some sort of subtle difference in them:  They tasted better than mine, but I didn't know why.  When we went home I mentioned it to my mom, who said she hadn't seen the lady do anything out of the ordinary to those biscuits.  Remember, though, that as far as I know my mother never made baking powder biscuits in her life.

In 1962 I got an apartment and was on my own.  I bought a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and learned to make cookies and cakes and breads.  Once in awhile I'd make baking powder biscuits, and did a pretty good job of it.  Of course, when you live alone, you aren't in need of a lot of biscuits.  There were a couple of other times, though, that I tasted biscuits with that subtle difference, that "something better", and each time the cook was from the south, anywhere from southern Missouri to the deep south.  What did they do, I wondered, to make something so simple that much better?

In 1966 I got married.  Now I lived with a man who appreciated biscuits, light rolls, cake... any sort of thing that came out of the oven!  Later on, both my children were bread-lovers too.  I discovered Bisquick, which makes some dang good biscuits, not to mention pancakes, and for years I actually forgot that somewhere in the south, there were cooks who had found biscuit nirvana.   

In the past several years, having plenty of idle time and access to the Internet, I remembered that, even though everybody loved my biscuits-and-gravy, somewhere there were better biscuits to be made.  I Googled and pored over recipes:  The chief difference in the ingredients found in southern recipes seemed to be the use of buttermilk and self-rising flour.  After some experimentation, I decided that Gold Medal or Pillsbury self-rising flour made slightly better biscuits than the store brands.

My biscuits still didn't have that pure southern magic, but using the recipe on the bag of self-rising flour, they were getting closer.

Recently I tried a different recipe that used no shortening; it was from an Arkansas cook whose recipes I've used several times, so I tried them.  Cliff and I, however, agreed that we liked mine better.  There were two things in that recipe, though, that I decided to add to my own:  She added 1/4 a teaspoon of baking soda to the flour (something that's already included in self-rising flour) and brushed the tops of the biscuits with melted bacon grease, butter, or shortening.  Next time I made biscuits I added these steps.  Cliff couldn't tell any difference, but I was pretty sure I could.  

Last week I made biscuits using my new knowledge.  Cora was here and distracted me while they were in the oven, so I went to attend to her needs.  On returning to the kitchen I exclaimed, "Oh, my biscuits!  I'll bet they're burnt!"  

But they weren't.  They were darker than usual, but those biscuits were the best I had ever made, and they tasted exactly like those I'd had at Melvin and Goldie's, back when I was fifteen or so.  I repeated the same steps this week, and once again, we had perfect southern biscuits, ones that are almost as good cold, left-over, as they are fresh out of the oven.

I've reached biscuit nirvana!  But now, of course, I'm craving biscuits.  And Cliff and I really shouldn't be eating biscuits all the time.  

By the way, I can still make plain old baking powder biscuits in a pinch, and I'm probably the only one (except maybe Cliff) who notices the difference.  Yes, the difference is that subtle.

I'm adding this note over a year later:  After this blog entry, someone gave me a tip that turned out to be the crowning glory for my biscuits:  Melt butter in a cast-iron skillet, put the biscuits one by one into the skillet, sides touching, making sure to turn them over in the butter so both sides are buttery.  Yes, it took this final step to find actual biscuit nirvana.  What a journey this was, but so worth the effort!

I also learned to add a scant 1/4 teaspoon or so of baking soda, even though the flour is self-rising.  Seems to make a slight difference, when I don't forget it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"This is my Father's World"

So many of my readers mentioned here, and on Facebook, that they had never heard this song.  I chose to use a video from Vimeo because one of my very favorite readers doesn't like the whole Google thing, and Youtube is a part of Google.  However, the only thing I can do is share the link.  There's no way of embedding a video from Vimeo that I can see.  

Click HERE.

Other factors enter in

Regarding that last entry, it isn't just politics that has me in this slump; there are several factors.  For instance, this record rainfall we've had this year.  It's no use to complain about the weather, but I have to admit it's been getting on my nerves.

Everyone who has watched me blog about my gardening efforts for several years knows that in my garden, tomatoes are the priority.  Everything else can fail, and if I have tomatoes I will be happy.  I only ask for enough tomatoes to eat fresh, although in most years I have lots left over to can.  This year, I will be very surprised if I get enough for a BLT.  The plants are all blighty, and the green tomatoes, while plentiful, have spots all over them.  Some of them are rotting on the vine when they are no bigger than a walnut.  Someone asked if I had any green tomatoes to spare recently and I had to tell her no; there aren't any green tomatoes out there big enough to use for anything. 

Potatoes and corn have done well.  The only problem with the sweet corn has been the earworms, and they should be less with subsequent plantings, since I've been dusting the silks with Sevin.  I'd trade all the corn for a few tomatoes, though.

I can afford to buy tomatoes, but I've yet to find anyone selling home-grown tomatoes that actually taste home-grown.  The local peach orchard guy is in our tractor club, so I guess I should go down there and harass him, just to see if his tomatoes are decent.  In fact, I think I'll go see what Cliff is doing as soon as I finish this entry.

I long ago stopped expecting any zucchini, since the squash bugs kill my efforts before I can harvest more than a couple of zucchinis.  I hear legends all the time of people who give away so much zucchini that people run from them when they approach.  Alas, nobody has ever offered to share their produce with me.  Every year I plant a few seeds, every year the bugs have a feast.  

Here's another thing, and it's my own doing:  I have painted myself into a corner with the cows.  The timing of their freshenings and pregnancies has made it impossible for me to leave home for over twelve hours at a time.  I am considering perhaps selling one, but I need the wisdom of Solomon to help me decide on which one!  I love them both, you see.  Grace is a wonderful nurse cow, so she is very handy to have around for raising calves.  I don't even have to milk her, as long as there are calves to take her milk.  She is the one, by rights, that I should keep, because that would allow me some freedom.

I force Penny to accept calves, but she has hated the idea from the first; although if she ever has her own calf that survives, that might change.  She is the one that gives the good milk and rich cream and she is gentle and easy to hand-milk.  However, she is timid, and I'm pretty sure I would never get her to accept anybody else's presence in the barn lot, even if I found someone who was able to do chores when I'm gone.  All the time I'm outside choring after the cows, I struggle over this problem, but even as I type these words I know that Penny is the one that needs to go.  

The thing is, I am past seventy, and if there is someplace I want to go, I need to be able to do it.  We can't do a huge amount of traveling because Cliff has a hip that bothers him if he does a lot of driving, but if we could only go to Arkansas for a night, it would be nice.  We might be able to make it to Colorado one more time, who knows?  I can always get another cow in the future.  In fact, I have a five-month-old Jersey/Holstein heifer right here, waiting in the wings.

All this mental turmoil that I've caused for myself adds to my cloudy mood.

If I ever make a decision, I will be letting my readers know.

By the way, life is good.  I won't be doing any more of these "woe-is-me" entries.  When I look around and see people with real problems, I realize how blessed I am.  If I so desire, I can sell every cow and calf on the place; there is nothing and nobody to keep me from doing that!  I need to wake up and smell the roses; I do believe the very act of creating this entry has helped me with a decision.

I still want a good tomato, though.  


I have the blogging blahs

Ennui has overtaken me.  Don't you love that word, "ennui"?  It was a vocabulary word I learned in my senior year at good old North Kansas City High School.  Because our school mascot was Henry Hornet, our vocabulary words were called Henry Hornet words.  Childish, I know.  I was a senior, for pete's sake!  Anyway.  When I learned that word I seized it as mine, because it described my day-to-day life:  A feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest.  Come on, hasn't every teenager felt that way during certain periods of her life?

Or, in the words of Ecclesiastes, "Vanity of vanities.  All is vanity."

To a person of my age... by the way, I had a birthday July 7th... the changes in the world are difficult to take in, and while I often try to insulate myself here on my own little piece of land, sometimes the magnitude of it all overtakes me.  A baseball team changing its name because it's offensive?  A piece of cloth suddenly being banned from everyplace in the country because it represents bigotry?  It's a piece of cloth, people!  I'm not saying all this is wrong, I'm simply saying I don't understand it.

I just want to be five years old again and go back to Skinner School, where we said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning (without "under God" because they hadn't added that yet).  Sometimes the teacher, Mrs. Eighmy, would sit at the piano and we would sing songs.  Other times she would play records and we would sing along with those.  Lately I've been remembering a sort of hymn I learned in that one-room country school that resonated with me the first time I heard it, a song I had not heard at the Hepburn Church of Christ, but one that sank right down into my bones and became a part of me.

This Is My Father's World

The United Methodist Hymnal Number 144
Text: Maltbie D. Babcock
Music: Trad. English melody; adapt. by Franklin L. Sheppard

1. This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

2. This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

3. This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad! 

This was a song with which I could identify!  You start talking about skies and trees and birds and rocks and rustling grass, and you are talking about the world of my childhood.  

Anyway.  I am checking in, and maybe this will get me jump-started.  Or not.  Meanwhile, you will find my heart at Skinner School in Taylor County, Iowa.  Things seem so much simpler there.  I'll be sitting in the next desk from the back, learning what there was to learn in 1950.