Monday, May 28, 2018

It's HOT

We had a great day yesterday with my daughter, her husband and daughters, and Brooke, the friend with whom we stayed in Cozumel last year.  Brooke had two grandchildren with her, granddaughter Monica later brought her niece along, and of course Natalie had baby Amara with her.  Children add a lot to any family day, don't they?  They always have plenty to play with at my house, due to the fact I've been buying toys for the little girl I babysit since we first began watching her.  That means I have toys for any age from birth to five years old and up.  Our little girl has pretty much outgrown the Power Wheels Jeep, but Brooke's grandchildren loved it.  The five-year-old figured out how to turn, back up, and so forth within five minutes.  Then she and her 3-year-old brother were off to the races.
Ezra was sound asleep with his head flopping around, but his grandmother said something to him and he opened his eyes for a bit.  Before long he was inside on the couch, sound asleep.
Just about the time I think I'll start disposing of all these toys, kids come around and play with them, and I realize what a wonderful thing it is that there are things that keep children content and occupied.  By the way, Gabe the Schnauzer was enthralled by the kiddies.

Later on the daughter drove them around in a larger toy.

All these pictures, by the way, were shamelessly stolen from the Facebook accounts of others.

So we had a nice day, even with the incredibly hot weather.  We're pretty parched here.  People north and south of us get nice rains; last weekend, camping, we probably got at least 4 or 5 inches of rain.  But locally we got 1/4 inch, barely enough to keep the pasture growing.

I do believe global warming is a real thing.  I was thoroughly convinced of it when we were in Glacier National Park looking at what was left of a glacier that used to take up far more area, as shown by a picture.  Click HERE to read about it.

Yesterday was a great day.  Today we have no plans, although we might see Brooke, Rachel, and the kids at some point.  I thought about making Cliff take me fishing, but I've heard fish don't bite well when it's hot, and Cliff and I don't deal with the heat well anyhow.  Which reminds me of one of my favorite Mark Chestnut songs:

It certainly isn't too cold at home here, but I do love the song.  I hope everyone enjoys this Memorial Day.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Shopping local, apple pies, and a holiday weekend

The daughter and her husband came to visit last Tuesday evening, as usual; she suggested we do a cookout/holiday meal this weekend.  I was all for it.  We have too few of those family get-togethers these days.  Her husband said, "I'd rather not do it on Monday.  I'd like to relax on my last day before I go back to work."

So today's the day.  I volunteered to make potato salad and the usual Oreo Delight.  Yesterday I realized I needed another box of Cool Whip and a couple other things and told Cliff we needed to go to the store.  He asked which store.  I said, "I think Dave's will do it, although there's a big chance he won't have his advertised specials.  But surely on the Friday before Memorial Day, he'll have them."

I really would love to do more of my grocery shopping there.  You see, I remember how great it was back when my little town had a grocery store.  When we moved here, Walmart didn't have groceries, and it was twenty-five miles to the nearest town with Walmart and large stores, both of which had lower prices, and great bargains.  We didn't buy everything at the store in Wellington, but it sure was handy when we ran out of something.  Back then we had a gas station, a drug store, a hardware store, and a bank in our town.  Over the years they all shut down, one by one.  Now we only have insurance agents and a mini-mart which is also a gas station, but since we have to leave town to get anything else, we buy our gas on those trips.   There's also a catfish place, but our budget keeps us from going there more than once a year.

My point is that Dave's (formerly Harold's) is the nearest actual grocery store we have, and I'd hate to see them shut down.  I think it's ten miles away.  I try my best to shop there, but I'm often disappointed.  I'm not put off by the prices at all.  It's a home-town store, and they don't have the muscle to compete with Walmart, which is another 10 miles from Dave's, in Richmond.

I went in the store and grabbed a cart.  The first thing I saw wasn't even on my list:  Apples that had seen better days, marked down significantly.  "Oh, Golden Delicious!  They're great for pies, and apple pie would be a great addition to our Sunday cookout," I thought.

Then I went on to gather some bargains... but typical for Dave's, everything bargain-priced was gone.  I ran into the manager and asked if they had any of the Thousand Island Kraft salad dressings in back someplace.  "I doubt it," he said.  "But the truck comes in tomorrow."

"But I live in Wellington," I said.  "Oh," he replied, chuckling.  "That isn't far."  No explanation, no apology, no offer of a rain check.  For some reason this hit me wrong, so I said, "Well, I guess I'll go on to Richmond then."

So I went back through the store and put back the five or six items in my cart (except for the apples), because I'm not that person who just dumps unwanted groceries any old place, even when I'm angry.

So we went to Richmond and got what I needed.

I don't know when I've made an apple pie.  Cliff and I can't leave them alone once they're made, and ever since Thanksgiving two years ago when the granddaughter-in-law's grandma brought pie, I've given up making pie because I know someone who makes them better.  Sandy's crust is magical.  She has no recipe, like many old-fashioned cooks.  She even tried at one point to make pie crust and measure ingredients and write it down, but found it an impossible task.

Since I had plenty of apples, I decided on cobbler, rather than pie.  Not the biscuit-topped cobbler or the cake-topped cobbler.  I wanted the kind Grandma used to make, which is basically a big, rectangular pie.  I mixed up the crust and got ready to peel the apples.

I took a taste of the first apple I peeled and realized it was NOT a Golden Delicious.  It was one of those tasteless Granny Smiths.  Well, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I forged ahead.  

The cobbler just now came out of the oven, and it looks OK.  Cliff didn't eat breakfast, so I'll let him sample it pretty soon. since he was hovering over my shoulder a while ago when I peeked in the oven.  I'm a little concerned about whether I used enough sugar:  I know how much sugar I need if I'm using Golden Delicious (not so much) or Jonathan (a little more).  These stupid Granny Smith apples, I know nothing about.  If it's too sour, we'll just plop some vanilla ice cream on it and hope for the best.  


P.S.  This cobbler is as good as any I ever made.  The only way it could be better is if Sandy had made the crust, but I'll take it.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Well. Here I am.

This morning's sunrise behind my favorite cottonwood tree
It almost looks as though I'm gradually getting out of blogging, but that isn't my intention.  Morning has always been my time to blog, and there are many mornings our little girl gets here at 5:30 AM.  Don't ever try blogging with any child from ages one to five around... or, in the case of girls, from ages one to infinity, pretty much.  Girls like to talk, and they want 100% of your attention while they're talking.  That isn't every day, though.  The thing is, once I get in the routine of NOT blogging, I forget about it.  

Of course, I forget a lot of things these days. 

I'm not organized, so the old "a place for everything and everything in its place" doesn't work for me.  I'll bet I spend more time hunting for my camera than I spend cooking.  It's only by the power of prayer that I locate anything:  After one of my futile searches in all the likely places, I remember God is right there and ask Him to help me find the object.  Somehow, with very few exceptions, I'll remember what I was doing with the object, or where I was going with it last time I had it, and walk right to it after consulting God.  Cliff thinks it's hilarious that I assume God has no more important things to do than help me find my camera or shoes or purse or iPad, but every time I find something with His help, I whisper, "I give You the credit for this"; not so loud that Cliff hears it, though.  See, I have this running conversation, mostly trivial, with God all day long, so it's only natural I'd ask Him for help.  I also have running conversations with my dog, but he's no help at all.

Gabe was well-behaved, staying mostly in the back seat of the truck, curled up and sleeping

Cliff, Gabe the dog, and I went camping last weekend at Harry Truman State Park, to try out our camper.  We were very much prepared to stay a couple of days.  I even talked Cliff into buying $10 fishing rods, and he dug the old tackle box he had when he used to go fishing out of the attic.  He says he doesn't really like to fish, although it used to be a favorite pastime of his until we moved to the country and he discovered the joy of owning tractors.  I haven't fished since I was a kid.  Ever since I found out people over 65 don't have to have a license, it's been bothering me, because I hate to miss a bargain of any kind.  So, we were ready to fish... and then the rain started the first morning we were there.  It rained, it hailed, it blew; at one point after dark, a guy came and suggested we take cover from the coming 60 MPH winds, but we didn't; we live in a mobile home, and we laugh at 60 MPH winds.  I cooked.  Cliff read a book on his Kindle.  The rain made it seem sort of cozy for a day, but when it was still raining the next morning, we were sick of it and went home.

We learned that the refrigerator, stovetop, and oven in the camper work great.  Oh, and the bathroom worked great!  If we'd been without a bathroom in the camper, we'd have been drenched every time we went to the rest rooms.  The second night we discovered a little leak, which Cliff has since worked on.  I'm a doubting thomas and expect it to still be leaking when it rains again.  Cliff is confident it's fine.  Keep in mind I didn't expect the refrigerator, toilet, and oven to work... but they did.  I used to be SUCH an optimist.  I think I've turned pessimistic in my old age because when the worst happens, you've already expected it, so it doesn't take you by surprise. 

So we still haven't gone fishing.  Cliff hates dressing fish, and only likes to fish if he's catching something.  One of these days I'm going to beg him to take me to Maple Leaf Lake, not far from here, and we can try our luck there.

Who, me?  I NEVER chase cats!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Our vintage RV

We aren't the type of people to restore anything except tractors (OK,  we don't restore tractors; Cliff does), and after our "new" camper sat here awhile, I was sort of afraid of what we'd find.  So far, though, the good outweighs the bad.  These things aren't made to last forever, and this one is a 1986 model of a brand that no longer exists.  On the bright side, the sellers said the tires were new, and they appear to be so; I'm thinking the folks we bought it from, who only bought it last year in May, must have bought them.  The reason they were selling it?  They upgraded to a newer and larger camper.  They bought this one to see if their family would enjoy the camping lifestyle, and obviously, they did.  

Whatever fastened the waste tank to the floor of the camper had given way and let it drop, causing a leak where it fastened onto the tank, but Cliff kept working on that until he got it fixed.   After pulling it up and sealing it, he filled it with water to see if it still leaked.  It did, slightly, so he got out the J.B.Weld.  Seems to be holding without a leak now.  He put the stuff on the roof in case of leaks.  Finally he ran an extension cord to the camper to see what worked and what didn't.   We were surprised to find the refrigerator working!

Speaking of things working, there's a radio/CD player with a terrific sound, and an electronic whatever (on the left in the picture below) that tells how full the tanks are, how the battery is holding out (if you're using a battery for lights and such).  There's a clock on it, but we couldn't figure out how to set it.  Sounds like a job for our daughter.  

This week I've gone out there several times, wiping out cabinets and such.  I did a few things to it this morning, then my buddy Gabe and I relaxed on the very comfortable bed through a few random sprinkles that came through.  I was reminded of my old cabin days, and decided if we don't end up camping, I'm keeping it for a getaway cabin.  While I was daydreaming, Cliff joined us.  Deciding to help clean things up, he yanked the curtains down, knocking the mini-blinds behind the couch.  Those curtains aren't much, and could use a washing, but good grief, his enthusiasm was tearing up my my cabin our camper.  

Here's our camper, which really needs a name, but I haven't figured one out yet.

The propane tanks are empty, so Cliff was going to use an old one he had (the smaller one) for a trial run.  We weren't sure if the tanks that came with the thing would even work, or if anybody would fill them, having had no experience with such things.  But I have a nephew who works at an RV place, and he told me to look for a stamp on the handle part of the tank; if the date is no more than 12 years ago, there should be no problem filling it.  Score!!!  It was last filled in June of 2015.  Cliff had already found out the stove works, oven and all, by briefly hooking up one of the small tanks.  

Next, the inside, looking toward the front end:

And next, the view toward the back end:

We wanted a small camper, but this is still more than we really wanted.  We were looking for something that had cooking facilities, a potty of some sort, and a comfortable bed that wasn't on the ground.  We'll never use all the storage spaces in this thing.  But it isn't huge, and Cliff said he can't even tell he's pulling it behind him when it's attached to the pickup.  

If you think we're about to tour America now, you're wrong.  Our truck gets 10 MPG and gas prices are going up.  Who knows, we might make Arkansas.  Or we might just get well acquainted with Missouri's state parks.  Or I'll have Cliff pull it back to my old cabin spot so I can camp out with my dog.  

Actually, Cliff thinks he could get our money back and possibly more if we put it on Craigslist.  We made a little money last year on the popup camper we never used, and this thing didn't cost much more than the popup.  

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Gabe's big day

Up until today, Gabe has only had brief little rides with us in the car or pickup.  For one thing, he pukes easily, and more often than I'd like.  OK, I'd rather he never threw up.  And when I remember times he vomited every other day, I'm thankful that it's just a couple times a month or so.  But still... if you're with Cliff, who wouldn't choose to have a dog and can't stand vomit... you don't want your dog puking in his vehicle.

However, I knew we'd be outside for hours, and it seemed like it would do Gabe good to be with a crowd of people he didn't know, ride on a tractor, and have a major road trip (50 miles).  I realized it would hinder my picture-taking, because I intended to have him on a leash at all times, with the leash firmly attached to me.  I knew it would be like going someplace with a toddler, and it was.  However, he did really well.  Yes, he puked, but we were in the Donna-carrier behind the tractor, so when he started retching, I placed him on the floor of the thing and let him puke.  Most of it went right through the grilled bottom of the carrier and down to the road, and I wiped up the remains with a wet wipe.  All in all, it was a good day.  I didn't let Gabe climb on people's legs as he always wants to do, and pretty much kept him away from the people.  I understand that most folks like their own dogs, but aren't that fond of someone else's.

Here's what we were doing:  One of the members of our tractor club, Joe Kipp, died last year in December.  His wife wanted the club to do a memorial tractor drive at the time of her husband's funeral; however, the weather was horrible and most of the club members are anything but spring chickens.  Add to that the fact that the flu season was starting out to be the worst in years.  So our club president told the lady we'd schedule a drive for later.  Today was the day.

Gabe, riding to the tractor drive in the pickup.  He looked out both side windows often, but finally relaxed.

This is my dog and me, as seen by Cliff from the seat of the Allis Chalmers.

This is what my dog and I looked at on the tractor drive. 

Gabe just looked out the door at the big, wide world, but I wouldn't let him jump out into it.

Before we headed off to Kingston from Polo, I saw this.  I'm not really sure what was happening, but you see things like this all the time at tractor drives.  Today one of our members couldn't get his tractor restarted, but somebody had a chain they hooked up to his tractor and pulled it;  that got it started.  When you're dealing with tractors that are anywhere from 30 to 70 years old, stuff happens.

Gabe enjoyed the scenery. 

Finally we arrived at the Kingston city limits.  It's only six miles from Polo, but that's a long way on a tractor.

This doesn't show all the tractors; there was a great turnout for Joe's memorial drive.  We stopped here to use the rest rooms (older people need restrooms often), but they were locked up.  So we all agreed to "hold it" and relieve our bladders later. 

Here's the view from a different direction.

Finally we arrived at the Kingston city limits.  It's only six miles from Polo, but that's a long way on a tractor.

Then we gathered around Joe's grave; it's right beside the graves of his parents.  He was a veteran of the Korean War.  You'll find his obituary HERE.

I really liked this way of honoring someone, so if Cliff goes first, I'm keeping this in mind.  Hey, I wouldn't even mind having it done for me after my own death, and I barely know one tractor from another.