Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Instructions from the family doctor, from 1944

One of my favorite of Mother's keepsakes is a letter from the doctor who delivered me, in answer to a letter she had written to him.  I was born on July 7, so I would only have been a couple weeks old when this was written.  

I am so thankful my mom kept things like this.  

Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), she didn't follow the doctor's advice not to not spoil me.  She was in her 30's, and I was the first baby she successfully carried to full term, although she had a boy a few years before I was entered the world who went full term, but was strangled by the umbilical cord when he "dropped"; so he was still-born.  However, Mother did inherit a daughter when she married Daddy in 1932: my wonderful sister, Maxine, who has been a blessing to everyone with whom she ever came in contact.  Maxine was among those who helped spoil me.  


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Great fun at a tractor show

When Cliff and I arrived at Adrian (one of our favorite annual tractor shows), I followed him for awhile.  Then, as usual, I told him I had my phone, so he could call me if necessary.  And I headed off to see and do things I like more than Cliff does.  Don't get me wrong, I love the old tractors.  But there are always things I enjoy that he doesn't.  Like this, for instance.
An old church.  There's information telling where it came from, but I wasn't that interested in the specifics.  My knees don't like a lot of walking, and I needed a place to sit down in the shade.  

As I approached the door I heard singing.  Yes, they were singing the good, old-time hymns.  Man, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  I opened a hymn book and began singing my alto part at the top of my voice.  It was GREAT.  Mansion Over the Hilltop, In The Garden, and others I love.  I think we sang perhaps half a dozen before the time was up and the lady leading the songs said, "Come back next year."  (::note to self:: Get an earlier start next year.)

Next door to the church was an old school house similar to the one I attended in Iowa, only larger.  

Then I stepped outside the school and looked up the street of the little village...

And down the street.  

This is how all screen doors looked when I was a kid, only some were fancier.
Then I walked into sort of a re-creation of a long-ago general store, with other things thrown in.  I met a wonderful 86-year-old lady and discussed how much small towns have changed since our respective childhoods.  What a sweetheart she was.

This was the first artifact (?) I saw, once inside.

After visiting with the sweet lady for awhile (I wish I'd gotten a picture.  She looked like everybody's grandma), I went outside and tried to call Cliff.  Guess what?  No signal.  Well, I figured if I just sat on a bench on Main street, eventually Cliff would come along.  I finally got his phone to ring, but it went straight to voice mail and I told him where I was.  I sat on a bench with a couple of very nice gentlemen who, for some reason, seemed to think I was funny.  At one point a young man walked past eating home-made ice cream from a dish, and I said, "Where did you get that ice cream?  Because I need some of that!"

He pointed the way.  I knew the day was going to be perfect when I got to the head of the line and found out they had all sorts of fruit cobbler to go with the ice cream.  Somebody pinch me!  I must be dreaming.

Cliff showed up while I was still eating my ice cream (with cherry cobbler), so of course I directed him to the source of my sweet snack.  He chose blackberry cobbler, by the way.  

The Parade of Power started soon after that.  First came the steam engines.

We didn't stay for the whole parade, but our next-door neighbor, Randy, was there with his big Farmall tractor.  Cliff said we'd wait until he came by, then we'd go home.

Farmalls (and Internationals) were the featured tractors, so several of them came along before our neighbor showed up.  Many of them were hauling children, and in some cases, youngsters were driving the tractors.  

And then came our neighbor, Randy.  Cliff loves this tractor... it's unique because it was a four-wheel-drive before four-wheel-drive tractors became so popular.  It's sort of rare, so it's no doubt worth quite a lot to collectors.  I mentioned to a lady sitting next to me that Randy's our neighbor; she asked if these guys actually use these tractors on their farms.  No, they don't.  They have newer tractors to use in the fields.  

Shortly after this, we came home.  I enjoyed this day a lot, and I hardly looked at any tractors at all, while I was there.  There's more to some of these shows than just tractors.


Time flies

When we got our first computer, a Gateway model, I was advised to go with AOL because it was user-friendly; so I did.  I'd read about the horrors of chat rooms, but my curiosity got the better of me and I clicked myself into one.  Nothing people were typing onto the screen made much sense, and there were lots of spam links being shared.  It seemed there were fifty conversations going on at once.  

Every chat room I sampled was the same, until I saw a link to a website, "Christianity Today".  On that site were links to AOL chat rooms.  One was specifically for Christian women (turned out to be a meeting place for lesbians) and one was for Christian seniors.  There were several others, but with that senior chat room, I hit pay dirt and met some of the finest people I'll ever know, many of whom I still keep in touch with.  Some of them have died over the years.

I had no experience or training with computers, but in the chat room were people who could talk me through minor tech problems with the new-fangled, magical box that allowed me to visit with people all over the world in real time.  The two who instantly come to mind are Havok (spelled hav0k) and Westbilt.  Westbilt was a Baptist preacher with a great sense of humor, and he knew computers.  He taught many of us to defrag, get rid of cookies, and so forth.  Hav0k was self-taught, but knew far more than most of us about the workings of computers; he did play little jokes on us once in awhile, like the time he told us to hit three different keys in succession (or maybe it was all at once) and our computers all turned off.

Anyhow.  By the time I graduated the schools of Westbilt and Hav0k, I felt pretty confident about my computer knowledge, because I had learned the basics.  It was great fun learning keyboard shortcuts, and I absorbed new computer skills almost daily.

I marvel now at how much fun it was, because these days I hate trying to learn new things.  I just want everything to go smoothly without my intervention; then I'm happy.

Cliff saw a picture I shared on Facebook of me and the child we babysit and told me he wanted that shot as wallpaper on his laptop.  A simple enough request, something I've done countless times.  I emailed the picture to him, grabbed his computer, and right-clicked to get the job done.  

However, only the top half of my head showed in the huge, screen-wide shot; when I messed with the resolution, everything turned sideways.

How would I manage to shrink the picture so all of it showed, and then turn the picture the right way?  I tried one thing and another, becoming more frustrated each time.  Somewhere along the line I noticed it wasn't just the picture that was on its side... oh no!  Everything on the screen was now on its side:  the browser, the icons... everything!  And I was clueless. 

After considerable Googling and messing around, I got things turned the right way, but still, only part of the picture shows, as you can see above.  I'm not messing with it again, for fear of blowing up Cliff's computer.  


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Thankful for good times

We're still in a heat wave and drought, here in my part of Missouri.  My tiny garden looks pretty good, thanks to the good Lord and daily watering.  There's still no sign of blight on the tomato plants and some of the tomatoes are getting pretty big; I'm thinking if the plants keep doing this great, I might have tomatoes by the fourth of July.  BLT's for my birthday July 7, I'm hoping.  

Last Wednesday we went with Cliff's sister to Versailles to visit Cliff's aunt and cousin.  The next day, Flag day, was our anniversary; yesterday was Cliff's birthday, and today, of course, is Father's Day.  The morning of our anniversary, I went to the computer to make sure my social security had made its way to our checking account, as it always does on the second Wednesday of the month.  It wasn't there, and I panicked.  At 7 AM I called the Social Security number and was informed that the money had, indeed, been deposited.  At 9 AM I called the main office of our bank and was somewhat comforted to hear the problem was with their online banking, and they had techs working on it.  By noon, my money showed up.  I was reminded of the parable in the Gospel of Luke:  "And what woman, having ten silver coins and losing one, does not light a candle and sweep the house and search diligently until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin I lost.'  Likewise I tell you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Since I have Facebook, I didn't have to throw a party to celebrate.  I told all my friends and neighbors in a Facebook post until I'm sure they were sick of hearing about it, but perhaps some of them rejoiced with me.  I think it was noon before I felt relieved enough to tell Cliff happy anniversary.  If you knew how small an amount my Social Security is, you'd wonder why I even cared.  But what's mine is mine, and I want it!  

Friday we spent two hours opening a checking account at a different bank, not because of my disappearing money, but because they have made a big mess of our grandson's accounts there.  It's sort of a local bank, but if you're in the Kansas City area, let me advise you to steer clear of North American Savings Bank (NASB).  We aren't the only folks who've left them lately.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a big and busy day.  We went to the tractor show at Lathrop.  It's one of the better ones within easy driving distance, and one of our favorites.

Doesn't this take you back in time?
They're threshing wheat here, I believe.
The main problem is that it always seems to be very hot when this event takes place.  

Minneapolis Moline tractors were featured, and there were a lot of them.  These in the next picture are my favorites:
If you'd like to read the story of this model of tractor, built briefly in 1938, it's quite interesting, even for folks who don't give a hoot about tractors; you'll find the story HERE.  It's very rare, and these command a price that you wouldn't believe.

My problem with the tractor show was that air conditioning has spoiled me, and I don't do well in the heat these days:  I get to feeling sort of "floaty" and out of things.  That makes me worry that I'll pass out and be embarrassed to wake up with strangers gathered around me.  So I mostly just walked from one shaded bench to another and sat a lot.  It wasn't that unpleasant, but I didn't like the feeling I was having.  I did have a corn dog, my first of the year, but the corn bread on it wasn't quite done.  The home-made ice cream, though, at $3 for a generous serving, was excellent!  We went back home for a couple of hours, cooling off and dozing for awhile and then went to Truman Lake Opry to see one of our Country's Family Reunion favorites... actually, one of our favorite country singers ever since the 70's... Moe Bandy.  Here's a picture Cliff took of me with Moe in 2005 when he had his own theater in Branson.

Yeah, we've both aged since then (we're the same age).  Moe is so gracious with his fans and will spend as much time talking with them and signing autographs as they need.  I loved every minute of his show.  Cliff asked if I wanted to go up and talk to him, maybe get my picture taken again.  But I'm not a night owl, and there was a crowd of old folks like us already wanting to talk to him.  I was ready to head home.  

What an adventurous week it's been.  All's well that ends well, I say.  Oh, and according to the forecast, we're due for cooler weather and some possibilities of rain this week.


Thursday, June 07, 2018

How does my garden grow?

Those folks who have followed my pathetic gardening attempts over the last several years probably remember my frequent complaints about tomato blight and squash bugs.  I've moved my tomato plants to different areas each year, which is supposed to help keep blight away; sometimes it seemed to help a little, but not always.  This year when I told Cliff I was going to have a very small garden, he asked me how big I wanted it and proposed we put it just on the other side of the back yard fence in the pasture where we keep our calves.  I asked how he'd keep the calves from eating my garden and he said he'd put up some kind of fence.  

It's actually working out well.  So far (knock wood), no raccoons have made it inside the garden fence to knock little green tomatoes off the vines, so that's a big benefit and saves quite a bit of agitation on my part.  

I realize that if I followed all the gardening rules, I wouldn't have had such a problem with blight, but I'm lazy.  And doing things properly requires more work than I want to do.   So the blight has been my fault, I reckon.  Honestly, though, I don't know what I could do to prevent squash bugs, which have made it impossible for me to have cucumbers, melons, or any kind of squash.  Sevin dust has no effect on them.  Meanwhile I am tortured by stories of people having so many zucchinis they can't even give them away (but nobody offers any to me).  I can't manage to get a plant to grow to full size before the invasion:  Those nasty, sex-crazed creatures love to make babies beneath my plants. 

I have little faith that I'll escape the squash bugs this year, but I'm beginning to be hopeful on the tomato blight scene.

 This is how the garden looks from my back deck.  There are four tomato plants on the near side.  That silly, ugly little tree on the left is a Washington Hawthorn, one of the most useless trees I've ever allowed to grow on our property.  It has very sharp thorns similar to those of the Osage Orange (otherwise known as hedge trees).  One of those thorns crippled me for a couple of days until Cliff removed it from the bottom of my foot.  He said it was at least 1/4 inch long and had gone straight in.  It's one of the more painful operations he's performed on me in our married life, and I wasn't a very quiet patient.  

Here's one of my tomato plants, with not a speck of blight on it!  I guess tomatoes like it out in the pasture.  There are a lot of baby tomatoes setting on, too.  We're in a drought, but I water for an hour every morning.  That's another thing about gardening in a small space:  It's easier to water.

In a corner near the entrance gate of my garden, there's a compact cucumber plant growing.  Behind them are six stalks of corn.  Planting corn in hills worked great last year, so I'm doing it again.  Great method for small gardens.

Here's the zucchini plant, just waiting to be taken over by sex-crazed squash bugs.  On its right is a heavily-dusted eggplant.  Bugs love to turn eggplant leaves into lace.

There are four pepper plants in the garden here and there.  I planted a ghost pepper plant for the grandson and three bell pepper plants for us.

I planted a few okra seeds along the far side of the garden.  Also a few beets.

One day this week Cliff took the Little Princess back to our big mud puddle pond to catch frogs.  They came back with about 50 tiny frogs no bigger than gnats, and two larger frogs, one of whom hadn't quite made it to frog-hood... he still had his tadpole tail.

Unfortunately, he will never reach full frog-hood now.  We went to Walmart, and when we got back home I went inside and let the dog out, then back in.  Five minutes later while putting groceries up, I noticed something laying on the kitchen floor and it was this very almost-frog, dead as a doornail.  Gabe had found him dead, I'm sure, because he had been dead long enough to be dried out.  A cat, perhaps?  Usually cats don't bother frogs and toads because they taste unpleasant, but who knows.  I do know Gabe couldn't get in the tub they were in; even if he could have, he'd have turned it over in the process.  Oh well, there are frogs aplenty in this world.  After the frogs had been played with for two days, Cliff took all of the ones that were still alive back to the big mud puddle pond.  

Yes, our pond is so small it's almost a joke.  With no rain, it may actually dry up completely before long.

That's all I have for today.  

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Another tractor drive. Gabe tags along.

Cliff isn't terribly fond of tractor drives:  He's required to sit on a tractor, lined up with other tractors, moving at whatever speed the slowest tractor in the group is going, accompanied by two deputies, one at the head of the line, one at the tail.  At busy intersections, one officer directs traffic (or stops it) so our group can get across without being divided into sub-groups.  The drives usually amount to 10 or 15 miles one way over mostly country roads off the beaten path.  Believe me, that's a long, long drive in the sun (or even in the clouds) when you're going ten miles per hour.  Cliff gets bored.  I think mainly, he goes because he knows I enjoy it.  

The destination yesterday was the annual l"People's Choice" Orscheln store at Higginsville, Cliff decided rather than put a tractor on the trailer and haul it to our tractor club's meeting-place, he'd take his favorite, the Oliver 1855 his late brother helped him restore.  It's too big to load it onto our trailer, so we can only show it close to home.  He asked whether I wanted to ride on the tractor beside him, sitting on an upside-down bucket, or in the "Donna-carrier", seen here... picture taken on Gabe's very first tractor drive a few weeks ago.

 Well, the temperatures have reaching the 90's lately, and I certainly didn't intend to subject Gabe to that kind of heat (in full sun, no less).  So I opted for a seat beside Cliff on the tractor.

Saturday morning I awoke hearing the pitter-patter of rain on the windows and considerable wind blowing past outside.  I barely got my first cup of coffee made before the power went out.  So much for the tractor drive.  

Here in the boonies we have well water, which is brought to our house by an electric pump.  If there's no electricity, there's no water.  When Cliff got up a couple of hours later, I gave him the usual warning during power outages... don't flush.  You see, each toilet is good for one more flush after the power's off, since the tank is full of the water brought in at the last flush.  We don't flush until extreme circumstances make it necessary or until power returns.  I brought the cowboy coffeepot in from the camper and was hunting up potable water for Cliff's coffee when the power came back on.  Cliff turned on the tv to watch the weather; it appeared the storms would move out in time for the drive, but barely.  We decided to go.  The drive was on again!

One thing the storm did for us (since it only brought us scant rainfall) was to cool things off to such a degree that we both required a jacket when we stepped outside.  The weatherman said it would be a cooler day than the preceding ones.  Meanwhile, Gabe, who always knows when we're leaving, was following me from room to room waiting to see if I'd be putting shoes on, because that's a sure clue we're leaving.  He started to stress out a bit, keeping a close eye on my feet.  Poor pup, he'd have to spend six hours or so alone in his kennel thinking nobody loved him.

But wait, it isn't going to be so hot now, so Gabe can go.  Change in plans!

Cliff had left the Donna-carrier on the tractor the day before, so with no delay I put my dog on a leash and loaded him in with me.  Never mind the fact it was still raining lightly.  As my mother used to say, "You're neither sugar or salt, so you won't melt."

Thank goodness the sprinkles soon stopped, leaving behind only clouds in their wake.  

Gabe enjoyed the view:

Please note the leash in the picture:  I kept a tight hold at all times, because let's face it, if he took a plunge off there with us on the move, it would likely be disastrous.  My granddaughter bought this particular leash because she had planned to put her Shitzu through training, but changed her mind and gave it to me.  It has (make that had) a large, strong snap that is more easily handled by older folks with arthritis, and the whole 10-foot-long leash is just easier to handle than those cheap retracting leads.  I love it.  

He'd walk across me from one side to the other  

sometimes settling on my lap to keep watch.
Once in Higginsville, we went to John Knox Village rest home for perhaps fifteen minutes.  The old folks were seated in a line outside so they could see the tractors.  By the way, thanks to the rain, we only had five tractors on the drive, but there were lots of tractors waiting at Orscheln when we got there for the show; they just didn't do the drive.

One problem with having a young, energetic dog along:  I forget to take pictures for a blog entry.  It's like being a young mother with a baby or toddler along... you stay preoccupied with this little life you hold in your hands and everything else takes second place.  

So I have no more pictures, but another story.  I snapped the end of Gabe's leash to the tractor.  This worked fine until Cliff and I both walked away for something together.  Then he set up his high-pitched, squeaky whining because, you know, why would we leave him alone?  We did whatever it was we went to do and were back in five minutes or so, only to see no dog was there.  What?????  I walked to the tractor to see how he'd made his escape and at that point, saw Gabe socializing with some tractor people parked behind our tractor.  Whew.  

In that short length of time, he'd chewed through his leash!  The leash I loved so much!  Here I was at a tractor show in Orscheln's parking lot with no way to keep my dog with me!!  OK, enough with the exclamation marks.  

Cliff pointed out that Orscheln does sell dog supplies, after all.  He restrained my dog with what was left of the leash so I could shop.  I saw various kinds of tie-outs and leashes inside, but what I got in the end was a chain.  Yes, a 10-foot-long metal chain.  Let's see him chew through that.  I'll probably only use it on tractor drives.  

You may wonder why I would subject a dog to all this activity.  I've often wondered that about other people and their dogs.  Their dog doesn't appear to be having an especially good time and it's hot, so why?  

Well, it's about bonding, partially.  And also to give me something to fiddle with so I don't get bored.  By the way, Gabe actually does enjoy these outings.  People pet him, people he's never met.  As long as either Cliff or I stay with him, he's relaxed and happy.  I do my best to keep him away from any large group of people gathered in one spot, because I know some folks aren't dog lovers and Gabe does have a tiny problem with jumping up on people's legs to get their attention.

All in all, it was a good day for me and my Mini-Schnauzer.  And on this drive, he didn't get motion-sickness like he did on his first ride.  


Friday, June 01, 2018

My dog and I

Gabe won't be one year old until August, but he is old enough now that I have very few typical "puppy" problems:  he doesn't chew on things, and no longer digs things out of the trash can in the bathroom (yuck).  He's house-trained.  He's beginning to pay attention when I call him.  I can safely relax in the yard letting him run freely and know he isn't going to run away; oh, he may go out of sight behind the house, but if I call, he comes.  On the mornings our little girl doesn't come early, he and I are outside watching the day wake up.  He is a nuisance to the cats, but they deal with him.  He weighs about 17 pounds now, which I consider a perfect weight.  

He has become the exact dog I had hoped for:  My little buddy.

After his first trip outside when we first get up, Gabe demands some lap-time and petting, so that's how we start our day as soon as I get my first cup of coffee.

Sometimes he thinks about kissing me...
But I don't let dogs kiss me, especially on the mouth!  However, he may as well go ahead and kiss me, because that beard of his has been dragged through every kind of corruption a dog can find on a farm.  He seems to keep a collection of dried horse poop in the yard so when I call him to come in with me, he grabs a chunk of poop and brings it in.  I never notice it until he drops it on the carpet.  

Here he is guarding a piece of trimmed-off horse hoof.  He has these all over the yard, too, and sometimes sneaks them in the house.  I much prefer hooves over poop; I can pick them up and toss them, leaving behind no tiny chunks of manure on the carpet.  

He loves to fetch a ball and (usually) brings it back to me, so this morning I decided to see what he thought about my Aerobie Superdisc, which is a Frisbee for folks who can't throw a Frisbee very well (like me).  I've had a couple dogs in the past that lived to chase a Frisbee, Sadie in particular.  I tried it not long after I brought Gabe home; he was interested, but was too small a puppy to manage the Frisbee, so I put it up.  This morning I got it out, and it was a rousing success!  Well, except for the fact he kept running with it.  I'd ask him to bring it to me, he'd come running and go right on past!  He was so excited at this new toy and game.  I came in the house and got four tiny pieces of hot dog as a reward and gave him a piece when he stopped and dropped the Frisbee at my feet.  I'm pretty sure that will do the trick, because he is very food oriented.  

This little guy continues to cost us a fortune, because I buy expensive food for him and get him groomed every other month.  He loves traveling, but sometimes it isn't convenient to take him along.  We board him at Bed and Bones, the same folks who groom him.  They don't keep the dogs caged up.  The small dogs run and play together, and likewise the big dogs.  Gabe loves going there.  I'm thankful to have them out here in the country.

I intend to send the link to this entry to the people who blessed me with my little buddy.  They've had some misfortunes with their dogs lately and have been pretty depressed, and I'm hoping this will brighten their day.  Thank you so much, Rose, for bringing me and Gabe together.  He owns me.  

Cliff likes him too.