Thursday, August 31, 2017

Life on the Waterloo bottoms (part 2)

I'd like to make note of the fact that Jim wrote this little history of his childhood in 2006, over ten years ago.  Some readers didn't notice that fact in the previous entry, and thus had the mistaken idea that he is in his 70's now; you need to add eleven years to that.  Still, this is someone who is ten years older than I am and led a much more primitive life than I, as a child.  I didn't realize there were people of that time who lived without electricity.

Part 2 of a series
see part 1 HERE.
Jim Perrine

During these years we moved to my grandpa's house on Waterloo Hill, although my dad continued farming in the Waterloo bottoms.  I forgot to mention that our farm equipment (plows-cultivators-planters-animals) all had to be moved to the safety of the hills during flood time.

I must comment on my dad's perseverance and stick-to-it-ive-ness for staying with our little tenant farm all those years that I was around (1934-1953).  It would have been beyond me to have endured the obvious pain and heartache of seeing one's efforts being drowned by the yearly floods.  My mom is my hero for sticking it out as his wife.  Probably not many wives would have that strong will.  Living those years on Waterloo Hill was an experience that I can recall like yesterday.  The big plus was that my cousins Jack, Randy, and Geraldine lived across the "holler" from grandpa's house.  Grandpa had moved out to live with his daughter Lillie in Waterloo, an unincorporated community.

Grandpa's old house was a two-story structure that had a huge living room/bedroom combined; I was always amazed at the I-beam, which was a huge hewn log.  The kitchen area was the only other downstairs room.  The furniture was much the same as described in our little bottoms home.  The land encompassed probaby four or five acres on Waterloo Hill.  The upstairs in Grandpa's house was one big area.  This is where I slept each night, with a tin roof over my head to keep me from the elements.  I still recall the rain pattering down on that roof:  It's very pleasant to recall that time in my life.  Outbuildings were a one-car detached garage or shed; a nice barn to house horses, mules, and farm equipment; a chicken house; and an outhouse for a toilet.  Again, no electricity, no running water:  the Perrine family had, in fact, no modern conveniences as we know them today.  We always had a battery-powered radio that was played at noon only, to get the news of the day.  Very few, if any, weather reports were available.  My dad would insist that we go to the cellar if a storm even threatened, and I think my respect for bad weather comes from him.  I still remember hovering in the cellar during storms with a kerosene lantern as our light.

Experiences from living on Waterloo Hill:

Arrowheads!  After a good, heavy rainfall, my cousins and I would head for the nearest plowed field overlooking the river.  There must have been an Indian encampment in that bluff area, because we found numerous artifacts glistening in the bright sunshine after the rain.  I remember trading a huge sack of perfect arrowheads for a sack of Bull Durham smoking tobacco.  We needed our butts whipped, but boys were boys, I guess.  We hid the tobacco in a corn shock:  the first time it rained, our tobacco was ruined.  

Here's something that happened one day as I stepped out of our outhouse with my trusty rubber gun:  A rubber gun was crafted out of a 1 X 4 piece of wood, made to look like a rifle.  The board was notched five or six times to hold a piece of rubber inner tube stretched from the end of the barrel to each notch.  A leather strap was the trigger; when pulled, it allowed the rubber "bullets" to be fired ten to thirty feet.  We kids played rubber guns like kids today play paint ball.  But back to my story:  As I stepped out of the outhouse, the meanest damn rooster on the place headed for me and backed me up next to our barn, prepared to flog me.  I immediately prepared to swing that rubber gun like a baseball bat.  When that rooster flew at me with all his fury, I swung and connected for a Babe Ruth home run by hitting that old rooster smack in the head.  He immediately went down for the count.  I was stricken by the fear of knowing I had done my folks' rooster in, so I picked him up and hid the body under trees in the holler.  For several days I didn't see that rooster.  I knew the folks would wonder what happened to him.  But wouldn't you know he showed up again alive!  However, he was never so aggressive with me and my rubber gun again.

Entertainment on Saturday nights usually entailed going to the cousins' house across the holler and listening to the Grand Ole Opry on their electric radio.  Mom and Dad would sometimes have a game of cards there, and drink home brew that Dad's cousin had made.  Occasionally they would go to a dance; my dad played banjo/guitar/french harp by ear).  Mom had grown up in the prohibition and flapper age, and she was quite a sight doing the Charleston; she taught me how to do it for a class play in high school in later years.

My last anecdote from this period involves the old road that led to what we call the Canyon Road.  It was a road with dirt sides that extended 20-30 feet straight up; a lot of farm vehicles used the bottom land.  I used to enjoy walking the old road because numerous names were carved way up the sides of the dirt walls.  I even carved my own on the lower level. 

Note from Donna:  Our address is Old Canyon road, but there are no steep dirt walls here.  Perhaps the road used to extend farther back.  These days it dead-ends.  

Other random memories in no particular order: 

Mr. Kincaid looking out the top second-story school window, spotting kites flying, and stating, "Now I know where they are!"

At age six, pestering "Ol' Jocko", Happy Goodloe's monkey, in back of his station and watching Ol' Jocko grab my first-grade picture from inside the cage and eat it.  I cried and cried, and probably called him some of my aunts' favorite names.

Christmas at our Waterloo Bottoms home was usually a piece of fruit and homemade candy, but few presents.  In 1940 Mom wrapped up my old toys to open on Christmas:  When you don't know any difference, it doesn't make any difference.

Halloween, 1949-1950:  Halloween in Wellington was a night of mischief; today it would be called vandalism.  It was the stated goal of each group of young folks to turn over more outhouses than the others.  Some town folk resigned themselves, some waited for the perpetrators and tried to grab them, some braced their outhouses to keep them from being turned over, and some moved their privies forward three feet to allow those guys to (hopefully) fall into the mess.  The last time I went to push over sheds or outhouses was when, after pushing one over, a man we knew ran out on his back porch and cried, "Halt or I'll shoot!" just as I had my head of steam up.  It was too late:  I saw the flash of a gun and heard the sound, so I stumbled up that dark alley to end up in the Baptist Churchyard looking for holes in my body.  As it happened, he was using blanks, or I would have died that night.  I thanked God and promised never again.  That's a promise I kept.

The day school let out for summer vacation every year, I took my shoes off and only put them on for trips to town.

In 1944-48 I recall visits to my grandmother and step-grandpa at their home between Rolla and Fort Leonard Wood at Waynesville.  I remember the clear water rivers where we played.  I visited the home of a friend who took me back in the woods and showed me his log cabin home with no floors, orange crates for a table, and straw for bedding.  I felt like I was really rich and blessed, living in the Waterloo bottoms.

I remember bouncing along in our old 34 Chevy with my mother driving me out of the Waterloo bottoms so I could catch the bus to Wellington School.  Sometimes through dust, other times mud and water up to the running board.

The first day of school with Mom:  My teacher, Ms. Webb, had us students introduce ourselves; when she came to me I just looked at my mom and said, "You tellum, Mom, you tellum."  Boy, was I shy.

Attending the Wellington Fair in 1948, I walked past what appeared to be a box with a moving picture.  "What is that?" I asked the guy.  He replied, "Son, that is a television."

Hitchhiking to Wellington or walking there or riding my bike, to be able to meet the guys on the dirt basketball court on the school grounds to play basketball for five or six hours, with only a break to have a Pepsi with a bag of peanuts dumped in it for lunch. 

To read the next chapter of this story, Click HERE.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

One man's story of growing up in the Waterloo Bottoms

Just a note from me before we start.  Cliff and I live at the top of a wind-blown river bluff that is popularly known as "Waterloo Hill".  This comes from the fact that before you head up this hill from the west on 224 highway, a mile from us, there is a small unincorporated place called Waterloo.  Nowadays there's only a handful of houses there.  What used to be the Waterloo Store is in the process of returning to nature, walls and roof crumbling and decaying.  North of that are the flat river bottoms where I so often used to ride my horse: that's where this story begins.  In the previous entry HERE, I explain how I learned this story and got permission to share it.  Notice it was written 11 years ago.  Some have been confused by this, placing Jim at a younger age than he is.

MY STORY:  BY JIM PERRINE of Waterloo Bottoms
July 25, 2006
First in a series

To write an account of my life to date seems a monumental job at this time.  Seventy-one years is a long time to try to reach back and come up with happenings that can only be recalled through my mind's eye and remembrances, but that is what I will attempt to do.  These memories will be what I experienced from childhood advancing through my present state of elder retirement.  A still youthful approach to life in spirit is enjoyed at this time.

(note from Donna:  At this point he gives birth and death dates of family members which I will omit, and some interesting details about the lives of his parents; I decided to move on to his own early recollections.)

My Life (Aged birth to 7 years, 1934-1941)

These tender early years were spent in the Waterloo River bottoms, as my dad was a tenant farmer.  Some may not be able to recall their earliest years, but for some reason I have vivid recollections of my early life in the Waterloo Bottoms.  Our home was a three-room box type which consisted of a kitchen and two small bedrooms.  The old cook stove was a kerosene gravity-fed stove; there was also a stove that was fired by wood or corncobs.  There was a homemade kitchen table and chairs where we ate our meals.  As I think back on those early years, we probably lived on a subsistence-type tenant farm.  We had a cistern that caught rainwater off the roof for drinking.  I remember a smoke house where the saltbox held bacon, and hams were hung from the ceiling after being cured by my dad.  Meat was from hogs only, and I can remember Mom and Dad and myself sitting around the table with a kerosene lamp providing the only light, cutting up fat to be rendered into lard.  We had NO electricity, NO phone, NO refrigerator.  We had an icebox that occasionally would hold 25 pounds of ice if the iceman happened to come; or we would motor to Wellington (four miles) and bring ice home.  Mom would can the meat in quart jars in which sausage balls were suspended in grease that would harden and turn white in the jars; tenderloins the same way.  

My dad's tenant farming gave us a third of what we raised.  Two-thirds went to the "rich" landowner named Gates who lived in Kansas City (to me this was a thousand miles away).  Our nearest neighbors were my grandmother and my mom's two sisters and brother.  We also had neighbors across the road, but no kids for playmates.  I literally had little contact with kids, except for my cousins who would come and visit at times.  I was always glad for company to come.  

I guess the dominating factor in my life from ages one through seven or eight was the Missouri River, which was only 50 yards from our house.  I say "dominant" because it forced us out of our home to flee to higher ground, usually to Grandpa's house on Waterloo Hill, but occasionally to Wellington to live with friends of my parents in the old red brick house overlooking the Missouri River bottoms.  Usually we stayed two or three weeks.  As for me, I sort of enjoyed the company, away from Waterloo Bottoms solitude.  The River was not controlled by levies until the 1940's.  Therefore, we were at its mercies every year.  Coming back to our little house was not a chore my parents looked forward to, I can only imagine.  The house, which was secured to a giant elm tree by a cable to keep it from floating away, had to be scrubbed and shoveled out for all the sand that accumulated on the floors. 

My poor mom repainted and worked hard to "make do" in the little shanty we called our home.  My dad would get down in the cistern by lowering an old wooden ladder, scooping sand and water out with buckets.  How the final cleaning was done, I am not sure!  I can remember being in a small boat coming down into the bottoms to check on our home and belongings and having to duck our heads as we passed under the telephone and electric lines that went to our neighbors.  The only plus from that constant flooding was that I had the biggest and best sand pile in my front yard that any kid could hope for!  

Living as close to the river as we did, I was severely cautioned about getting close to the water due to the peril of drowning.  I cannot swim well today because of the fear I had as a young boy.  I recall going over to the levy, standing on it and shouting up the river so as to allow my voice to come back as very distinct words rebounded as an echo... off the water and dikes, I suppose.  As I remember, some of them were those "cuss words" my young aunts had taught me to say at a very tender age.  I really thought the river was sort of magical in a way, to be able to echo my words.  

These experiences have left a permanent,  indelible impression upon me, and I wouldn't trade for anything the ways they have impacted my life.

Click HERE to go on to the next chapter.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A quick update on Cliff

We met Cliff's oncologist/radiation doctor this morning, and really liked him.  After talking to him, I really feel Cliff has chosen the right path.  He's very pleasant and easy to talk to.  

The next step is for Cliff to go back to the urologist, get markers put in for the radiation, and get started on the female hormones (gotta do some shopping for purses... haha).  It always takes 3 or 4 weeks to get at appointment with him, but Dr. McDonald told us this morning that "fast-growing" when you're talking about prostate cancer is nothing like "fast-growing" when it refers to lung cancer or breast cancer.  We needed to hear that.  He said once we get in to see the urologist, there will be no problem moving on with the radiation.

The radiation will go on five days a week for nine weeks, but probably won't start for at least a month due to the length of time it takes to see the other doctor.

Finally we have some sort of idea of the timing and a plan of action, which makes us feel better.  

I'm feeling much more positive now, and I think Cliff is, although, like most men, he doesn't always share his feelings completely.  


Coming up in this blog

As Cliff and I plod through doctor visits, tractor shows, and random happenings, and with no  livestock except the feline variety, I sometimes struggle to keep my blog up and running.  However, I was recently handed a gift that I've been given permission to share with you.

A former neighbor who grew up next door to us recently told me her uncle had written sort of a history of his life.  Because he was born and raised within three miles of where Cliff and I have lived since 1975, she thought his story would be of interest to me, and indeed, it was.  Cliff and I, once we started reading, could barely put the story down until we were done.

A couple of days ago it occurred to me that Jim Perrine's story would likely inspire anyone who reads it, and also illustrate the sort of character that built this country.  Some of my local readers might recognize his name.  His parents, Oliver and Marie, were also my neighbors until they passed on.  His sister and her husband raised their family next door to us, and it was their daughter Ronda who allowed us to read his story.  And yet, I never met him personally.  I asked Ronda to find out if he would object to my telling his story to my readers;  he gave his permission.  

The story is a little long, so I may condense it somewhat.  It's all interesting, but I understand the attention span of people reading a blog isn't always up to too many details.  So I may omit some passages.  I debated whether to tell the story in my own words, but decided for the most part to leave it in the author's words, as I did when I serialized my Mother's story years ago.  Changing the words sometimes changes meaning, and you need to see the story as he tells it.  I will have to spread it across several entries.  I hope I do it justice.  

Some of the most popular blog entries I've ever done were the several I did that shared my mother's story.  If I do Jim's story properly, it ought to equal that series in readability and content.

If some of you have not read Mother's story, you'll find the links to all the entries right HERE.   That will give you something to read until I get this new project going.   

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A report on grumpy me

Forget about my husband; this is all about me.  It's been a strange week of little things going wrong.

A cap came off a tooth, a cap which can probably be glued right back on.  But I couldn't get in to see the dentist Thursday and they're closed Fridays.  It's a lower tooth that shows up really plainly when I smile.  Just call me snaggle-tooth.  I'm going to church this morning anyhow, since I've missed the last 2 or 3 Sundays.  I'll try not to smile.  This will prepare me for living the rest of my life toothless.  

I appreciate the tips and advise given by my readers, but you haven't given me anyway to come up with the money it would take.  Our savings wouldn't pay for the cheapest new car you can buy, and it sure won't pay for implants, the only thing that would work for me.  

While all you ants were putting away food for the winter, I (the grasshopper) was fiddling my heart out.  I don't tell this stuff to get pity, because the situation was caused by my actions.  I do brush my teeth, but I've never taken care of them like I should.  Around 1980, Cliff was working at the butcher shop when his boss said, "I'd like to provide dental care for my employees out of my own pocket."

Since I, at that time, had a gaping hole left by a tooth that had been pulled, just to the left of center (which is also how my politics these days can be described, but I digress).  This dentist was leery of trusting me when I said Cliff's boss was paying, but he went ahead.  Root canals and bridgework and many sessions with the dentist ended up with a full mouth of teeth.  Shortly after this, the boss decided to discontinue dental insurance, and I can't say I blamed him.  Anyway, I still did not have a beautiful smile.  My teeth aren't pearly white, they're a little crooked, but oh man, I could chew, and I wasn't afraid to smile!  Until the bridgework began failing, I faithfully flossed and brushed, because you almost have to with bridgework in place.  Eventually two bridges on the bottom had to be removed because some of the teeth supporting them failed.  Then it was back to just brushing.  

"Oh well," I said, as grasshoppers frequently like to say.

I have six teeth on bottom and six on top (I think six... some of the top teeth are bridgework).

Now if my friends would kindly tell me how to fix these teeth any other affordable way than to pull them all, I'd love to hear it.  I used to follow a blogger in Arkansas named Patsy.  She would have understood my situation.  

Dentists want to talk about implants, but check the cost of those, remember I'm not rich, and give me your practical solution to this situation.  On the bottom there isn't even anyplace a bridge would work any more.  I don't need pity, because I have no doubt had I planned better when I was young, this wouldn't be such a severe problem.  We get by nicely on our Social Security, but that's our income.  We don't do credit card debt any more, especially not for the amount of money dentists charge.

That's one reason I'm grumpy.  Here's the other story:  Most of my adult life, I've been plagued with chronic bladder infections, otherwise known as UTI.  As I get older, it's more frequent, and a search of the Internet tells me that's common.  If you go to a doctor frequently for the same cause, they want to shuffle you off to a specialist.  I did this once, and the uroligist seemed to have the attitude, "Why are you even here for a simple bladder infection?"

So I buy AZO for the discomfort and drink gallons (literally) of water.  That usually gets me by.  Doesn't get rid of the infection, but often the symptoms become bearable for weeks at a time.

This last round, though, was persistant, so I finally cried "uncle" and made an appointment with the nurse-practitioner at our doctor's office.  We always use her, because she's nicer and listens better than the actual doctor.  I peed in the cup, placed the cloudy liquid in a cubbyhole that is accessible from the other side, and followed a nurse to a room where I was seated.  I was dreading what might come, knowing they're going to tell me all the right things to do to prevent this, things I've known about and done forever.

But this time was different.  Nurse Stephanie mentioned that as women grow older, these recurrent UTI's tend to be more persistent and frequent.  She suggested I take Bactrim for a week, then begin taking a maintenance dose of another antibiotic regularly.  I was SO grateful, and looking forward to trying it!  She has one more trick up her sleeve, so if this doesn't work we'll go there.  

I had no idea what Bactrim was, but I began taking it and my moods went all wacky and I felt slightly nauseous.  That's when I realized it must have Sulfa in it; on checking the lable, I saw it did.  Sulfa had always messed with my stomach and made me grouchy, angry, and depressed.  In all the articles I've read about side effects of sulfa, I've never seen mood changes and depression listed.  But I know that's what it does to me.

However, if I can put up with the side effects (and if Cora and Cliff can stand me) I'm taking every last one, and counting the days until I take the last one Thursday. 

I'm sort of reluctant to post this entry, because I'm whining.  I see so much whining on Facebook, I hesitate to do it here.  But since I'm under the influence of a drug that hates me, I'm whining and don't care who knows it. 

I may as well go out to the garden and eat worms.  

In case I've depressed any of my readers, here's a video of a film taken in 1928 that cheered me up.  I even smiled.  Nobody was around to see my snaggle-tooth.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A report on my husband

Today was Cliff's appointment with the Urologist.  Neither the bone scan nor the CT scan showed any cancer.  However, since it is the fast-growing type of cancer, something must be done.  The two options given for Cliff this morning were surgical removal of the prostate, or several weeks of radiation five days a week.  Cliff's first choice was surgery:  It sounded simple enough, just an overnight stay in the hospital.  The doctor was fine with that, but he started inquiring into Cliff's cardiac history.  Then on the information at hand, he saw the operation four years ago mentioned, the gall bladder fiasco:  8 days in the hospital and 3 or 4 miserable weeks at home with drainage tubes coming out of his chest and belly.  He said there very well could be problems with scar tissue, since that involved doctors poking around the inside of Cliff's body cavity.  

He said with either treatment, surgery or radiation, Cliff's chances would be about 80%.  

Next move is an appointment is with an oncology radiologist.  Then probably back to the urologist.  Now get this:  He will be given female hormones to shrink the prostate before the radiation treatments.  He will have hot flashes.  This has given Cliff a whole new topic for corny jokes, and I'm already tired of them.  "I guess we should buy some chick flicks for me to watch."  "Well, at least Obama fixed it so I can use either bathroom."  "I guess I should go in Walmart with you and check out the new fall blouses."  

Ha Ha.

Cliff said to the nurse who came in ahead of the doctor, "They told me it was fast-growing, then made my appointment 3 weeks ahead!"

He chuckled and said, "It doesn't grow THAT fast."

On another note, I'm getting ready to get dentures, if I can find a dentist who won't try to sell me implants that cost $10,000 per tooth.  This means before long I'll be running around toothless for a couple of months.  I may not do much running around; I might plant myself at home.  Wish me luck on this adventure.  I might enjoy being toothless so much I won't want any teeth.  That's how it was with my father-in-law.  

If anybody has recommendations, I'm listening.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht

That's an old Yiddish proverb that some translate to this:  "Man plans, God laughs."  I have had many occasions in my life to use that quotation.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe God sits on his throne laughing when bad things happen to us.  There is a natural order to things; we often don't know how various events in life are related until years after the fact.  I believe some of the terrible things that happen in life do turn out, in some way, for the best.  Here's an example:

I think it was in April that I told Cliff I'd like to go on a bus trip to New England.  He hates to drive, and I don't drive, never have; he won't get on an airplane.  And when we do take long vacation trips, they never turn out well:  We drive around aimlessly, getting lost and wishing we were home.  Cliff agreed it might work out well to let somebody else plan the trip for us, booking the motels, planning the places of interest, and hauling us around.  It worked for our train trip last year!  Then I told him the price, and he faltered:  $2,595 apiece, and that doesn't include most meals.  

I assured him I was fairly confident I could put back enough money by the time it would be due so we wouldn't have to touch our emergency fund.  Now, if you knew how small our emergency fund is, you'd laugh at the notion of even calling it that.  It wouldn't handle most major emergencies you run across in life, but that's the way we roll.  We live on the edge.  

I stayed away from Amazon, changed some other spending habits, and, as of last month, was within $500 of having the total amount.  I was stoked!  Finally, we would have a vacation with no snags, no unpleasant surprises and no worries.  

Then we found out Cliff had cancer.  Since we don't yet know what the treatment will be, we can't plan on a trip in October:  The best-case scenario would be radiation treatments, which can take an extended time to complete.  Or, if the cancer hasn't spread outside the prostate too extensively, there might be surgery.  Right now, our future is uncertain.  I needed to cancel the trip we'd already reserved with a $400 deposit.

I had read the cancellation policy before I booked, so I understood we could cancel, this early in the planning... IF the company was on the up-and-up.  I figured they'd keep the $400 deposit, but that's life.  You take risks.  I went to the tour company's website to see how I should go about getting a refund.  They wanted it in writing, so I figured I would call to make sure I did things properly before I sent the letter.  The call went to voice mail:  I left a message explaining we'd just found out Cliff had cancer, were uncertain about the future, and needed to cancel.  

Nobody returned my call that day, or the next, I think.  I started getting anxious.  

Then my call was returned:  The lady politely explained that the other person in charge had been with a group on a trip to New York, and she had been out of the office for a couple of days.  She assured me that I did NOT have to write, she would take care of it, but I had already put the letter in the box thinking since nobody answered the phone, maybe the letter would get their attention. 

Yesterday we received a check in the mail refunding our $400 deposit.

I learned early on in life that some of the worst things that happen in a person's life turn out, in the long run, to work to her advantage, and could give you many examples from my own life.  This incident is just the latest example:  Our share of paying for Cliff's two scans would have been $500 if St. Mary's hadn't scheduled them both for the same day.  As it was, we had to pay $250.  

We had to cancel the trip of a lifetime, but we have some extra funds to handle random medical expenses that come our way.  Bet-case scenario, we won't use all of it and can start planning a trip for later on.  Worst-case, it won't be enough, but we at least have that much in reserve, which is a good feeling.     

I'd like to recommend Kincaid Coach Tours.  The lady who contacted me was polite and understanding, and explained to my satisfaction why she didn't return my call immediately.  We got our deposit back in full.  We may never have the funds to plan such a trip again.  But if we do, I will have no qualms about booking with them.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Happenings, on earth and in the skies

Around home, there are a few notable dates in our future.  Tomorrow night is the Perseid Meteor shower, which will reportedly be the brightest meteor shower in recorded human history!  In an unusual state of affairs, I won't be going to bed at my usual 8 PM tomorrow evening because I am attending a Green Day concert with granddaughter Monica!!!!  I generally try not to use exclamation marks often, but I just can't help it today.

Yes, the group is outside my realm of musical interests for the most part.  But several years ago I introduced Monica to their music for the first time and took her to her first Green Day concert.  I love their mellow songs and pretty tunes, of which there aren't many.  Here's a favorite: 

However, I do love the energy and excitement that is present at any concert, especially any sort of rock concert.  

Then after I arrive home from my night of depravity, I get to watch the heavens declare the glory of God.  

Speaking of which:  We are in the path of the big eclipse coming on Monday the 21st!!!!  Yep, more exclamation marks... hey, I know people who use those in almost every sentence.  An Internet friend I originally met in Blogland sent us the proper viewing glasses, three pairs, after I procrastinated getting ours.  In a perfect world, Cora will be down for her nap by the time the eclipse starts and ideally it will be a sunny day.  In a four-year-old's world (she turns four tomorrow), who knows?  She is pretty regular with her nap-times, though, unless she happens to sense my excitement.  And in Missouri, which is never the perfect world weather-wise, it could be cloudy and raining.  Right now the weather-guessers say partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain.  Last time we had that same forecast, we received seven inches of rain.  Oh yes, and tonight Cliff, our daughter, granddaughter Natalie (I hope) and I are going to opening night of the state fair to see Sawyer Brown perform.  I've seen them twice before and enjoyed their high-energy performances.  However, two of them are in their mid-sixties and three are in their mid-fifties.  They may be in wheel chairs, for all I know.  

Now, for the question everyone has:  Cliff sees the urologist a week from today, on the 17th.  I have had a CD of the CT scan since the day it was done, which I will give him.  I assume the doctor will have received the information on the bone scan.  That is all we know at present.  Since it definitely is cancer, I am assuming Cliff will then be referred to an oncologist.  That's just a guess, and it's all we know.  I will let my blog readers know the results of that visit after it happens.  


Saturday, August 05, 2017

For the love of Oliver tractors (warning: Many tractor pictures included).

Cliff really wanted to go to this tractor show at Marshalltown, Iowa.  Since he seldom wants to drive anywhere, I always jump in the middle of things when I see a road trip ahead.  I convinced him we should just head on up there and see those Olivers!  Didn't take too much convincing.  

We packed a change of clothes, figuring we'd look the tractors over, spend a night at some nearby motel, and then head home... or to my Allen family reunion.  Whatever.  I just wanted a road trip.  I checked out an audiobook onto the iPad, from our library (John Grisham's "Rogue Lawyer") and left shortly after 7 AM.  Turns out I had already read the book, but I didn't remember some parts.  And it really helped Cliff pass the time.

All kinds of tractors, all colors.
Whoa, look at that GREAT BIG TRACTOR!

What a nice Massey Harris!

Before there was Oliver, there was Hart-Parr

This is a Canadian Oliver.  It's pretty much the same tractor as an Oliver, but in Canada they called it a Cockshutt.  

And now, the Oliver tractors!!!!

We loved this next one!  Cliff has no idea what sort of GM motor was in it, but he said "it looked like a V12 or something".  We both wished we could have heard it running.  Cliff said it was probably best he didn't hear it... he says he might have messed his pants.   (I know... ewww...)

The owner of this John Deere had the fanciest, finest seat for his wife we've EVER seen, so I took a few pictures.  Seriously, this is wonderful handiwork.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Cooking with the little princess can be risky

The child has been helping me mix and measure the ingredients for pancakes for a long, long time, probably since she was around 18 months old.  On her first attempt at cracking eggs, she ended up with no pieces of shell in the end product and no busted yolk.  Unfortunately, she didn't get it in the cup, so it slid around on the counter... but other than that, she did great.

At first I'd let her mix the dry ingredients with a spoon.  Before long, I began measuring out the liquid ingredients and letting her pour them one at a time in a separate bowl from the dry ingredients.  Then I let her use the hand egg beater (given to me by a long-time follower of my blog when my old one broke).  She wasn't really well coordinated enough to do it rapidly and well, but I'd let her do it awhile before I needed to take over.  

Nowadays I get out all the ingredients and set them on the counter, but let her pour them in appropriate measuring cups, and then pour them into the mixing bowls.  I still do some of the measuring, but talk to her about it as I do ("this is one cup.  This is 1/2 a cup.  Which cup is bigger?").  I do let her level the measuring cups and spoons with a knife for me.

Today I felt adventurous and asked her if she'd like to do the actual cooking.  Oh yes, she was excited at the offer.  I preheated the cast iron skillet, one of my larger ones, and had her get on a kitchen chair as close to the hot skillet as I dared to put her.  I made batter for a lot more pancakes than we actually needed (Cliff and I only have one good-sized pancake each, since we're back to watching what and how much we eat).  I told her she could practice with a few small ones.  I half-filled a glass two-cup measuring cup, thinking I'd guide her on how much batter to put in the pan.  I set it beside the skillet, turned around, and in that instant she poured more than a cup of batter in that pan, where it ran all over the bottom of the skillet.  It now sits on the stove with water in it, waiting for me to clean the mess.

I grabbed another skillet and forged ahead.  

Part of the problem with the actual cooking was that she had to follow my instructions about not touching the hot skillet.  It was awkward for my little vertically-challenged charge to reach to the middle of the skillet without touching the edge.  We made a couple of tiny practice-pancakes, then a larger one.  Once it was done I was going to put it in the practice pile, but she wanted it eaten.  So Cliff had a rather imperfect pancake.  We did another practice, then she said, "This one is going to be mine."

While she was eating, I made my own pancake.  By the time I was done with mine, Little Princess had finished hers, and we made a couple more practice pancakes just because we could.  She's already getting better with flipping them.  

She isn't ready for the big time, but she'll make somebody a great little cook someday.  Although as independent as she is, I'm not sure she'll want to cook for anybody but herself.

After making this entry, I thought I had better return and add one little thing I left out.  You know, in the interest of full disclosure:  When I turned back toward the child and saw her in the process of pouring a cup-and-a-half of batter in the big skillet, I yelled, "Oh, no!" loud and sharp.  The smile left her face and she puckered up.  I immediately put my arms around her, apologized for yelling, and told her she was doing great for her first time, and that she just needed a lot of practice.  She cried into my shoulder for 20 seconds or so, and we returned to cooking with her hurt feelings soothed.  

Oh, and I'm going to look for a cheap griddle for when our little chef is making pancakes.  With no tall sides to avoid touching, she'll be able to maneuver a lot more easily.