Friday, March 30, 2018

Drum roll please: THE SUN IS SHINING

It's been quite a while since we've seen the sunshine around here, so I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see the sun coming up in a cloudless sky.  As I type these words, it's still shining.  However, the forecast shows a good chance of snow on Easter Sunday (also April Fool's Day; I mentioned this to the young man who carried my groceries out today and he said, "Yeah.  Poor Jesus."  

I'm still sinking deeper into my hermit mode, realizing this is probably the lifestyle that's always been most comfortable to me, so why fight it?  Here, there's no danger of my saying the wrong thing and later finding out whatever I said was inappropriate or embarrassing.  My dog is good company, refusing to be offended or embarrassed by any of my words.  And Cliff is used to my eccentricities.  As I read over this paragraph again, I realize it might appear I've had something cause my retreat from the public eye, but I can't think of anything like that.  It's just me.

I'm spending less time on Facebook.  That isn't really something I set out to do, but as I draw inward, I pull away from others and feel less comfortable when I'm out in public.  Facebook is about as public as one can get, and it doesn't fit me so well these days.  

I've been reading up a storm, though.  I do most of my reading on the iPad, choosing books from the library to read with the Kindle app.  I have a lot of titles reserved, but it may be awhile before I get to some of them.  I just finished a book by Fredrik Backman, author of "A Man Called Ove".  This book is "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You I'm Sorry".  It took me awhile to warm up to it; I had problems figuring out the imaginary fantasy land where a little girl and her grandma spent time together, but once that started making sense, I loved the story.  Cliff liked "A Man Called Ove", but I didn't recommend this one to him because I figured he'd think all the superheros and trolls were ridiculous, and bail out early.

Oh my goodness, the books I have on hold:  Three more Fredrik Backman books; "The Mountain Between Us" by Charles Martin (I'm number 45 in line waiting for one of 4 copies; "Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk" (that doesn't even SOUND like something I'd read, but I must have heard or seen someone recommend it; "Sisters First", by Jenna Bush Hager; "Fire and Fury", by Michael Wolff; and "Never Look at the Empty Seats", by Charlie Daniels... I'm number 17 in the waiting line for that, with only two copies available.

It seems strange to me that they limit the copies of cyber books a library can loan out.  Why couldn't they just make more copies?  It's all out there in the invisible world of cyberspace, right?  So there's no valuable space taken up on a shelf.  Oh well, I'm just thankful there are free library books to read, without my having to make a trip to the library.  

After finishing my book yesterday, I looked on the library website for something that's available right now.  
Seeing this, I thought the author must be some sort of comic.  I can always use a laugh, so I checked it out.  All I had to do was read a couple of pages to find out the guy is pretty funny, but he isn't actually a comedian.  He's a sportscaster.  I'm sure some of my readers knew this, but I'm not a sports fan.  I'll read his book, though, if it holds my interest.  Cliff likes football, so maybe he'll be interested in reading it on his Kindle.

Thursday Cliff got blood taken for the PSA test that will tell if the radiation did its job.  The doctor's office will call with the results.  

I guess that's it for today.   



Thursday, March 22, 2018

Chief cook and bottle-washer

I take my job as Cliff's cook seriously.  It's easy, really, since he likes almost everything in the way of food, and so do I.  Anyway, since I'm the cook, food is never far from my mind.  Many times I go to bed knowing what tomorrow's dinner (the noon meal) will be.  If not, I figure it out in the early-morning hours.  Because we don't have an actual meal in the evenings, there's no planning to do for supper, and none for breakfast either.  Usually that's cereal with fruit, or steel-cut oats, which I make in big batches in the Instant Pot and put in a sealed container in the refrigerator to use through the week, heated in the microwave.  Cliff usually likes an egg sandwich once a week.  OK, he'd have that every morning, left to his own devices.  But I'm in charge here!  

We only went to three of the local Lenten fish-fries this year; tomorrow is the last one for the season, and I don't think we'll go.  For some reason, I haven't been so crazy for fish as I was last year, and since we'll likely be eating at Jack Stack Barbecue in Martin City on Saturday, I think we'll save our calories for that.  I've fought a craving for Tuscono's for over a week, but that might have to wait until the next weekend.

For some reason I awoke this morning with no noon menu planned, and it was 9 AM before I even considered it.  We've had every cut of beef known to man lately, and I wanted something else, something easy for this lazy wife to cook.  My first thought was tuna-noodle casserole, since we both like it just fine.  Even the picky kid we babysit will eat a little of it.  During the times we weren't so well supplied with beef, we had that a couple of times a month.  

Then I remembered the can of salmon in the cupboard, and knew what to fix:  Salmon patties!

Now my belly is full, but the house smells very fishy.  While I was waiting to make dinner, I recalled there was half a package of that phony chocolate we dip pretzels into around Christmastime, and had a brainstorm:  You can spread peanut butter between two round crackers and dip it into melted chocolate (even the phony stuff), and it's delicious!  If you haven't tried it, you ought to.  So not only did we have a delicious meal of salmon patties, real mac-and-cheese (not the blue-box kind the Kid likes... it was home-made), and mixed peas and carrots; we also had my surprise dipped-cracker dessert!

Why am I talking about food?  Because that's what I'm thinking about half the time.  Not obsessing over things I can't have, because we can have anything we want.  Just planning ahead.

Here's a food item I've had on my mind lately:  Gingerbread!  When the kids were small and I was milking a cow (when wasn't I milking a cow, back then?), I was always baking something:  bread, pies, cakes, cookies; and nobody worried too much about calories then.  One of my favorite things was gingerbread, still warm from the oven, with real whipped cream on it.  Believe me, Cool Whip doesn't hold a candle to genuine whipped Jersey cream!  In later years I learned Cliff didn't share my fondness for gingerbread, so I quit making it.  I'm not saying he doesn't like it... there are very few sweets he doesn't like... but he'd rather have some other kind of cake.  Cake is his favorite, pie is mine.

It's surely been at least 25 years since I made gingerbread.  Now I'm longing... yes, even lusting!... for some, but ONLY with real whipped cream.  And I don't have a milk cow.  There are a few people around here selling raw milk, but I don't trust them.  If I'm going to pay $5 for a gallon of milk, I want to know it's fresh from that morning's milking.  Raw milk with the cream on top sours more quickly than pasteurized milk, so I want it fresh when I buy it.  I'm picky about people selling eggs, too:  I want to KNOW those eggs aren't over a couple of days old when I buy them.

I buy cream at the grocery store for cooking and for our oats.  I assume it'll whip, since it says "whipping cream" on the label.  But the stuff tastes like it's been evaporated and reconstituted.  Perhaps whipped, with a little vanilla and sugar mixed in, it'll taste like it's supposed to.   

I'm going to try it, but not until our chocolate-dipped crackers-and-peanut-butter are gone.  We can only handle one kind of dessert in the house at a time.  


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Always plenty to eat

Cliff and I were both poor, growing up.  We stayed pretty poor most of our married life, too, although I was always sure not to call us "poor", even in my thoughts; honestly, I didn't often even feel poor.  People who go around talking about being poor have a bad case of what I call "poor-mouth", a condition that creates a feeling of inferiority, as well as a feeling that the rest of the world owes you something.  Just my opinion.  If you talk poor, you're going to feel poor.

My mother often talked about how poor everybody was during the depression, but she never gave me any sense that our family was poor at any time after I was born.  In rural Iowa, although there were some pretty big-time farmers, the kids at Skinner School all dressed the same:  boys in overalls, girls in home-made dresses.  Nobody seemed more prosperous than the others.  We moved to Eagleville when I was in the third grade, and everybody seemed equal there, too.  

I've said before that when I was a child, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted.  Mother was a wonderful cook, but she only made big meals on Sunday, when we usually had company.  We didn't have meat often, except for the fried chicken on Sundays and once in a while, some hamburger.  Daddy never was crazy about meat anyhow.  In fact, he wasn't too worried about a big fancy meal.  We usually had Cheerios or Wheaties around for breakfast.  I guess Mother cooked dinner and supper, but I didn't always eat what she cooked.  One evening after supper she overheard me talking to neighbor kids about our evening meals.  They told me they had pork chops... that I remember... and named off whatever other two or three items they'd had.  I told them we had bread and gravy.  When I went inside, Mother took me aside and informed me we'd had about five different dishes on the table at supper, including mashed potatoes.  I had simply chosen to eat what I loved best:  bread and gravy.  She was embarrassed that the neighbors would think she only cooked gravy for supper.   

Like all kids sometimes do, I'd tell my mother there wasn't anything to eat, and she'd go into the same routine, every time:  "Lands sakes, there's milk in the refrigerator, and we have crackers and bread and graham crackers!  Eat some bread-and-milk or crackers-and-milk."

Back then, my choice of the things she always suggested was graham crackers and milk, followed by toast and milk with sugar sprinkled over it.  I still love graham crackers soaked in milk, and lately I've indulged several times.  Those graham crackers turn to mush in a bowl of milk, and taste better than any kind of pudding, in my book.  One day at dinner when the kid was here, I had some for dessert.  She's always been pretty choosy about eating unfamiliar things.  But for some reason, she wanted a bite of my soggy graham crackers.  The minute it hit her tongue, her eyes lit up, a smile broke over her face, and she gave me two-thumbs-up.  Since then, not one day at my house has gone by without her having graham crackers and milk.  She also loves fresh home-made bread, so I try to make bread on days she'll be here to have a slice or two.

I may have eaten some strange things throughout my life, but I was never forced to eat something I didn't like, and I've never been hungry.  

Cliff and I have always enjoyed good home-cooked food, and we've yo-yo dieted most of our lives:  Lose 20 pounds, gain back thirty.  We'll throw the small sizes away, just knowing we'll never have the fortitude to get thin enough for them again, and six months or a year later we're losing weight and wishing we'd kept them.  We both shed a lot of weight and kept it off after his heart bypass, but after two years we started slipping and before you know it, we'd gained all the weight back.

We're on a different track now.  Last summer I was having some stomach problems.  I'd been to our nurse-practitioner, but none of the anti-acid solutions helped me a bit.  On my birthday, July 7th, I was sitting on the back deck watching the world wake up and scolded myself for going to the doctor for a stomach problem that was most likely caused by what I was putting into my body.  I made some changes.  Within a week I was feeling better.  On my birthday I told Cliff I was cutting back on a lot of things and would try to cook appropriate meals.  I told him I was going to stop buying ice cream, but if he wanted some we could keep it out in the big freezer so it wouldn't tempt me.  "No," he replied, "I need to get rid of this gut."

He weighed 272, I weighed 167.  We had both been heavier than that at other times... I've gotten perilously close to 200 in the distant past... but my goal was to feel better, more than to lose weight.  We gradually shed pounds.  We weighed every weekday, leaving weekends for eating out, or having more calorie-laden meals.  The only exercise we can either one do is ride the stationary bike for short periods, but we did that sometimes.  

In October we were 252 and 153.  From there on, we... especially Cliff... would lose weight nicely all week, then we'd weigh on Monday and he might have gained anywhere from two to five pounds!  But overall, we were maintaining.

In mid-January I was 151; Cliff weighed 245.  All this time I had only been cooking one meal a day, two if we had a breakfast that needed to be cooked.  I was making the old-fashioned stuff we liked.  Not so healthy, perhaps, but we neither one felt cheated.  Cliff had been eating a salad most nights.  I didn't have any supper.  Oh, I was eating something:  Sometimes one piece of bread with peanut butter, sometimes a boiled egg and a string cheese, or a banana.  Usually nothing that added up to more than 300 calories.  Cliff was still regaining a bunch over the weekend, then spending the whole week taking it back off, eating his salad at night.  I was pretty much where I wanted to be, eating anything I wanted but watching portions.

I told Cliff, "You know, if it wouldn't bother you to do as I do in the evenings, I'll bet you'd lose more weight.  I'm not sure if you could do that, though.  You never liked to skip a meal."

"Well, I'll try it," he said.

I'm still at 151, sometimes ducking below 150 and back.  Cliff, this morning, was 238.  Maybe we've found something that works for us.  

And I've still had plenty to eat.  


P.S.  I came in here at 3:30 and started this entry.  With very few interruptions, it's taken me over two hours to get to this point.  Between changing words and phrases, re-arranging paragraphs, and thinking about what comes next, it takes a lot longer to create this drivel that it takes for you, my dear followers, to read it.  I think that's a lot of the reason I don't blog as much these days... each entry is such a commitment!   And I babysit most weekdays.


Monday, March 19, 2018

There's always something to blog about

It's true.  Even when it seems as though nothing is blog-worthy, motivation will find a way.  I've always smiled at those who comment about "what an interesting life" I lead.  I will tell you that some of the most interesting stories around here are inspired by the child we babysit, but I don't like to put her "out there" by way of this blog, since I have no idea who, or what sort of people, access it.  I talk about her a lot on Facebook, where I have some selection of who my audience is.  But I don't use her as blog fodder (there's a word only my country-raised readers will understand).  

I started this particular blog in 2006, but I blogged on AOL Journals for two years before that, until they shut that feature down.  I imported the contents of that journal to Blogger.  Most of the photos didn't make the trip, since they were hosted by AOL, but all the words are there.  If you're interested, you'll find that portion of my writings at My Country Life.  Near the beginning you can read about my visit to our nation's Capitol, thanks to my friend who lives in that area.

Someone commented on my last entry that I should perhaps base some of my blog entries on my opinions, but I don't do well with controversy.  If you want to know my political leanings, I tend toward Libertarian; the other two parties left me long ago... I didn't leave them, they left me.  

As for religious views, I wouldn't touch that subject with a ten-foot pole, except to tell you I believe in God and I love Jesus.  What I would like to say about my religious beliefs, or any other beliefs I have, is this:  I could be wrong.  I hesitate to put those words here, simply because some Christians take offense at it.  But I'm human, and willing to recognize the truth:  I could be wrong.  How else do you explain the hundreds of Christian denominations that exist?  And many of those groups believe they are the only ones who are right, and that they alone have the key to heaven.  Somebody, somewhere, is wrong.   

You see, I don't like controversy.  I'm not good at debate.  My brother and sister were grown and gone by the time I was two years old, so I didn't get the opportunity of learning to argue, having been raised mostly in a rural setting with few neighbors.  I developed a vivid imagination, and conjured up fascinating imaginary friends (mostly Indians) who never argued with me.  I wandered the woods at Grandma's house alone when I was there, loving every minute of it.  Wherever I was, if I got tired of pretending, I read books (more pretending, really).  I was spoiled:  I seldom had chores, and I could eat whatever I wanted, any time I felt like it.  I've conquered eating-all-the-time in my old age, but I still have a lazy streak a mile wide, and if need be, I can still use my imagination.

I grew up with no running water and an outside toilet; this didn't change until we moved to the city when I was twelve.  I'm amazed at the way the younger generation is so finicky about using outdoor facilities if they happen to come across them.  You want controversy?  This business of disposable diapers for women who don't work outside the home seems ridiculous to me.  I do remember the stench of a diaper pail, but it still makes sense to me to buy something you can reuse, rather than something to fill up landfills (please notice, women employed outside the home get a pass on my statement).  I had no problem rinsing a poopy diaper in the toilet when the kids were babies, something I've seen younger folks cringe at when I mention it.  When my kids were in diapers, I was using a wringer washer.  This meant I had to wring everything out that was in that stinky diaper pail before I put it in the machine.  Before my daughter was out of diapers, we bought (on credit) an automatic washer, and then I just poured the whole contents of the diaper pail in there and put it through a spin cycle before washing.  

But all those things pale in comparison to the way they did things when my parents were young.  None of my life seems like it was a hardship at all, when I remember my mom's stories.  

So, there you are with today's meanderings.  Looking back over the words, I think the most controversial topic in this entry is my opinion about disposable diapers.  Surely I can't get in too much trouble for that, right?  However, my training in Internet controversy came from an AOL Christian chat room, back in 1998; by the time I got through that, I swore off chat rooms AND Internet squabbles.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

I'm trying to keep my blog alive!

The problem is that nothing of interest happens here.  We go shopping, sometimes if only to have an outing, and that's it.  Then we come home to sit around surfing or reading all day, and we watch television in the evening.  I cook a nice noon meal each day and experiment with the electric pressure cooker.  The grandson comes over to visit most days after work.  The daughter and her husband usually come to visit after getting off work on Tuesdays. 

So there's my life.  I guess I just completed this entry. 

Part of this inactivity is due to the fact Cliff hasn't been feeling well.  He's had several painful symptoms for which there seemed no reasonable cause, and he was sleeping away his time.  Of course once cancer has interrupted a person's life, every random pain or affliction seems to remind one that the "Big C" could return.  Especially if a couple of the painful areas are at, or near, lymph glands. 

Early last week, I suggested to Cliff he visit our family doctor, but he said something like this: "I don't know what they'd do about it, even if I went."  However, on Thursday I called and made an appointment with Stephanie, the nurse-practitioner we both prefer to the actual doctor.  I couldn't go along, since the appointment was scheduled for 3 PM; I knew our little girl would be down for her nap at that time. 

Stephanie listened to Cliff's symptoms and told him several different things it might be, from shingles to arthritis and several things in between.  She decided he should try a steroid, Methylprednisolone, and see what happened.  It's in one of those packs where you take six pills the first day, then one less each subsequent day until they're gone.  Now, I hate steroids, and couldn't imagine what good they would be for his symptoms, but I do trust Stephanie, who told him if they didn't help, they'd do an x-ray, but the insurance wouldn't pay for an x-ray until they tried this first. 

Cliff got his pills.  I gave him a whole sermon on what I hate about steroids. 

The next morning, after taking the initial six pills, Cliff got up saying, "This is the first day I've gotten up without that same old pain in ages!  Surely this stuff wouldn't work that fast, after only one day." 

"I'm going to go kiss her (Stephanie) right on the mouth," he said with enthusiasm.

So now he's had three days of feeling decent.  Yay!  He will be getting a PSA test this week, and we're hoping for a low score. 

BREAKING NEWS!!!  We're going someplace next weekend.  OK, so it's a swap meet, but hey!  It's in Adrian, which takes us "sort of" in the vicinity of Martin City, which has one of the best fried chicken places, a superior steakhouse, and a pretty decent barbecue.  All that in a town with a population of less than 700 people.  How will we ever decide which place to patronize?  Since we have a freezer full of beef, I think it will be either chicken or barbecue. 

You know, as I look back over this boring and depressing blog entry, I realize Cliff and I are practically living out a song John Prine wrote years ago:  "Hello In There".

Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more
She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy
We worked together at the factory
But what could I say if he asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do"


Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"

So if you're walking down the street sometime

And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello"

Sunday, March 04, 2018

The subject is bread

I love my bread machine.  I still buy most of our bread, though, for a variety of reasons, calorie content being the main one.  But another reason has been that the slices of home-made bread made in the machine didn't lend themselves to folding over, once it cooled down.  I'd make a loaf of bread and slice it.  We'd make toast with it for a couple days, maybe have a sandwich; then I'd put the rest in a bag and put it in the freezer.  From that point on, if we wanted home-made bread, I'd just take out however much we needed out.  

I'm telling you all this so you'll know we did not become bread gluttons.  Until the last couple weeks, that is.

I've found all my best bread recipes on  I settled on THIS ONE as my white bread recipe, and THIS ONE that has a little whole wheat flour.  Both of them produce good results, but never matched the bread I used to make by hand all the time, back in the 60's and 70's.  

And then I found perfection, a machine-made bread that folds over on itself and tastes great!

Actually, I found what I considered a rather imperfect recipe, read everybody's comments about it, and learned from them.  Then I added a little of my own knowledge from the past and changed things.  Here's how the recipe looked when I discovered it:

    "This recipe is easy and foolproof. It makes a very soft and tasty loaf of bread with a flaky crust."


  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package bread machine yeast
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start.

First of all, I wondered why the yeast had to sit for 10 minutes in the water.  That's how I used to do it making bread the old-fashioned way, but all the machine breads I've experimented with have risen nicely without doing this.  I read through the reviews and ratings and found some advice from someone who obviously knows her bread:

"The basic recipe is good but has some issues: 1) "Bread Machine Yeast" is just another name (purely for marketing) for "Instant Dry Yeast" (IDY) which is INSTANT and therefore does not require pre-proofing in water. Simply add it to your dry ingredients and continue without the "dissolve and foam" step noted. There, you've save 10 minutes! 2) Active Dry Yeast is not Bread Machine/Instant Dry Yeast and it *does* like to be pre proofed as noted in the original recipe. Active Dry yeast is in little round beads about the size of a pin head. Instant yeast is very small and more like little threads of yeast, much smaller than Active. You would need about 25% more Active yeast than Instant. 3) Salt: Salt is normally 2% of a recipe's flour amount. Here we have 410g of flour (check the metric version) so we want 8 grams of salt, or about 1 1/2 teaspoon. The recipe as given is therefore missing 33% of the required salt which is more than just a "taste" problem. Salt will not only improve the taste of your bread (this or any other) but is needed to help the gluten's strength by tightening the gluten strands a little. Bread with too little salt will not only taste bland, it will also be too soft."   

I took her advice not to waste 10 minutes soaking the yeast, but I ignored the advice to add more salt, even though she gave scientific reasons for it.  I might try it in the future, who knows.  Another change I made... I traded melted lard for the vegetable oil.  It has to be melted, of course, for ingredients to mix well.  During Cliff's years of working at the butcher shop, lard was free, because nobody wanted it.  They'd come to get their pork, but leave the lard.  So Cliff brought it home if I asked him to.  Who knows, that may have contributed to Cliff's heart problems, because I used it in cookies, pie (excellent crust), cakes... everything I baked.  Shouldn't I be concerned about using it now, in the bread?  Nope.  I'm sorry, but we don't have an eternity to spend on this earth, and I intend to eat things that are good.  I told Cliff yesterday, "I guess I should feel guilty for not feeding you the right stuff."  He didn't answer, so I don't know if he was thinking I'm trying to get rid of him, or if he's on board with my "eat, drink, and be merry" attitude.  ::shrugging::

Back to the bread recipe.  My friend Brooke gave me some packets of powdered whole milk when I visited her last year, and I remembered my old recipe in the 60's used milk rather than water.  So I dumped a couple tablespoons of powdered milk in with the dry ingredients.  That's it for my changes, although during the first mix of the ingredients in the machine, I peek in and see if I need to add a bit more water.  Sometimes I need to add a tablespoon full, sometimes not.  

The bread rose so high the first time, it touched the top of the bread maker!  Obviously it hadn't hurt anything to do without the 10 minutes soaking the yeast.  When it was done, Cliff and I were amazed at the result.  That's how home-made bread is supposed to taste!  And yes, you can fold a slice over on itself for a quick sandwich.    

But.  There's always a BUT, isn't there?  It's so good, the two of us somehow were going through a loaf of it every three or four days.  My weight, which has stayed gloriously the same for the last several months, began to creep upward.  Cliff's too.  

"It's the carbs," said the grandson.  "No," I said, it's the fact that there are 143 calories in one slice of this home-made bread, and only 40 in the fake store-bought bread that goes by the name "Wonder".  Plus the fact it's so GOOD!  Yesterday, after resolving not to make bread more often than once every other week, I was fixing dinner for the daughter and her husband and the grandson and his wife.  It occurred to me that some nice, hot bread would go great with our meat loaf and mashed potatoes.  

I can now tell you that our four guests all raved about the bread, so it's unanimous.  It really is that good.  Here's my advice to you:  Do not make this bread.  Once you taste it, you will be able to think of nothing else;  the knowledge of warm bread you can make any time you choose will fill your every waking moment, and haunt you in your dreams.  Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.  

That's it for today, except for this item:  We bought a camper.  It's old and has lots of problems, but it was in our price range.  Actually, I wouldn't have bought it due to some of the issues it had, but Cliff liked that it was so small, and he especially liked that it has a gooseneck hitch instead of a fifth-wheel.  You see, Cliff often uses other trailers around here, and it would have been a big chore to remove a fifth-wheel hitch in order to hook up another trailer.  For my part, it was cheap enough that I consider it a disposable item.  If we get two years use out of it, I'll be plenty happy and maybe I'll make a chicken house out of it.  It doesn't stink inside, it isn't filthy.  If we end up not using it, Cliff thinks we can sell it and get our money back.  I'd still buy a cheap slide-in camper, even now, if I found one cheap enough.  That's what I really want.  All we need is a bed, a table, and a potty, and room to stand up inside.  


Friday, March 02, 2018

Spring is coming

I'm not planning on much gardening this year; perhaps six tomato plants and three or four pepper plants.  Possibly some radishes planted early, so they'll be done by time to set out the peppers and tomatoes.  We'll see.  I've condensed all my activities, those things I can't give up entirely but no longer have the energy (or youth) to deal with.  Having two calves that almost raise themselves at least gives me the joy of having cows and the pleasure of watching them grow.  I'm pretty sure we won't need more beef when they're big enough to butcher, and I'll probably lose money selling mine (one is the grandson's).  But it makes me happy to have a couple of bovine creatures around, and how to you put a price on happiness?  

I sort of miss my chickens, and yet I'm glad I got rid of them.  They ate so much feed, the eggs they gave me probably cost about $5 per dozen.  Since Aldi sometimes has eggs for less that a dollar, it's hard to justify having fresh-laid eggs from my own hens.  For the past month I've been scheming and plotting, trying to figure out a way to have a couple of chickens that will fend for themselves:  Years ago I had some banties that roosted in the barn and fed themselves on grass and bugs.  Of course in winter I tossed them a little grain, but for the most part, they took care of themselves.  Cliff doesn't remember this, but we put a board or tree-limb or something near the rafters of the lean-to on the barn.  I raised the chicks till they were big enough to fly onto a roost, waited until after dark one night, took them all to the roost in the barn, and that's where they spent their nights from then on.  I guess once they woke up on their new roost, it felt like home.  The rooster turned pretty ornery, though, chasing grandchildren when he got the chance.  One Sunday while I was at church, Cliff got mad at him for attacking him.  He had a club in his hand at the time, swung it at the bird, and killed him.  He says he wasn't trying to kill the poor thing, but....

Of course, this would involve my raising some chicks.  Ah, there's the rub.  We have a little house made for that purpose, but the pesky varmints have learned how to invade the space and find the all-you-can-eat buffet.  The more I think about the difficulties, the less I want chickens.  I guess I'd better stick with my two calves.  So far I don't have any varmints willing to attack a cow.    

I've had my Amazon Echo for a long time, but I keep finding different things to listen to.  I often forget about Tune-in Radio being available on Alexa:  With Tune-in, you can listen to any radio station from anywhere in the world.  I used to have an Internet radio that did the same thing, but once I got Alexa I realized I no longer needed the radio.  Of course, nobody else would need it, either, what with most folks using their phones and computers as radios.  So it's a dinosaur, headed for the trash.  I've mostly been listening to WSM from Nashville.  Yesterday I enjoyed listening to their traffic reports, since I have an Internet friend near there who has a long commute to work.  There were terrible traffic jams caused by rains.  I mentioned to Sonya that I'd thought of her while hearing about the problems, and she answered me with a picture she had taken of the traffic jam.  It was a mess.

If any of my readers remember how we searched for, and found, a popup camper last spring and then sold it in the fall without ever using it, you won't believe this:  I'm looking at used campers AGAIN!  No popups, though.  The reason we never used that one last year is that it just seemed like too much trouble to mess with, setting it up and taking it down, rain or shine.  We need something we can just climb into and go.  Ideally, it would be a slide-in pickup camper, but the newer ones are expensive (even ten-year-old ones) and have slide-outs we don't want or need, and most of the REALLY old ones are gone.  Most of the pull-type campers have those slide-outs, too.  We only need a bed and a potty, very little space.  I am finding a few that are priced right, but we have put off going to look at them because they're all more than an hour's drive away.  I figure the way we're going, we'll be out of the mood by the time we find one that's in decent shape, for the right price, within 45 miles from home. 

Our weather is much nicer lately.  We even got two inches of rain to break the drought we had all winter.  What better way to end these tedious ramblings than to talk about the weather, right?  However, this was a productive entry for me, because I may have talked myself out of two hare-brained ideas in the composing of it:  Chickens and campers!  (Not really.  I'm still scheming.)