Saturday, October 19, 2019

Boy, do I have stories for you!

First of all, Cliff had an appointment to take a stress test.  He’s been wheezing a lot for a long time.  When the insurance company sent a nurse to the house as they do ever year, I mentioned the wheezing.  She listened for it and heard it.  Sometimes he can be at one end of the couch and me at the other and I'll hear it.  She told him he might have COPD and that we should see our regular doctor and see what they said.  

The nurse/practitioner at the doctor's office heard it too.  She said it could be something related to his heart, so before anything, she wanted him to do a stress test... not the nuclear stress test though.  Cliff told her he didn't think he could do it because he gets out of breath too easily, and she said, "Well, let's try it and see."

But when she took his blood pressure it was 190 over 90.    She quickly took him to the emergency room in a wheel chair.  They took blood for some tests and did a chest X-ray.

Now, I don't normally post blow by blow details on Facebook when I'm in the hospital with Cliff, but I had already "checked in" at St. Mary's Hospital.  When something seems like it might be serious, I wait until it's over to post anything.  But I had already started by saying we were there, and after awhile, friends were asking questions and relatives wondered why we had been away so long.  So I was updating my whole Facebook family was worried.
Five hours later Cliff got a room, and the top number on his blood pressure was 165, so it was heading in the right direction.  My daughter and I bade goodbye and as soon as I got home, I went to bed.  This morning when my daughter and I got to the hospital, it was 124 over 70.; in other words, perfect!  They hadn't given him anything or done anything to bring it down, except his normal meds minus his blood pressure pill (of all things) but we will be seeing the cardiologist soon.  

My husband looked pretty bad last night, and his face was red as a beet the whole time we were there.  This morning, normal color.  The grandson said Cliff hadn't felt good for two days.  My crazy husband didn't tell me because I always make him go to the doctor.  And so it goes.

And that leads me to my other story:  Last night, sitting in the emergency room cubbyhole we occupied, I heard the "PING" of an Instant Message.  Of course I was getting a lot of those at the time.  I looked to see who it was and it was Jimmy Capps, the session guitar player whose Facebook page I follow.  Cliff and I read his book and really liked him.  "Cliff," I said, "you won't believe who just instant messaged me!"  And I read the first lines the guy had typed to him.  "I am not smart enough to know the right words to say how much your likes and comment has done for me. All I can say is THANK YOU from a very grateful soul for your love and support all along" 🙏

It seemed like it might be Jimmy Capps, not that I would know, but if Cliff hadn't mentioned "scam", who knows what would have happened.  He asked about my husband and I told him we were in an emergency room waiting for a room.  He said, "Please don't tell anybody about this call."  Well, I thought, of course that makes sense.  He'd have everybody calling him.  He wanted to give me his private number so he could "reach out to me"  if I was having a hard time I could call and talk.  I told him we have plenty of people around us to talk to. 

I should have known by all this it wasn't him.  Because guess what?  I'm fairly sure it wasn't.  I don't know if I would have realized it, had Cliff not said something.  You see, I went to the Jimmy Capps Facebook page I follow and at the top of the page Jimmy's wife Michelle had put a warning: "If you get a message or friend request from “Jimmy Capps, it isn’t Jimmy. Someone has set up a fake account using hispicture. 😕 This is the only page he has, and it is a fan page. Thanks, ya’ll! Michele."

After reading that, would you believe he messaged me again today?  That cinched it, and I told him, "I don't want you to contact me any more.  My husband says you are a scammer."  His answer? "OMG".

Sure, every seventy-six-year-old man types OMG when he is texting.  a senior citizen who has a much younger, lovelywife isn't going to be wasting his time messaging old women.

But for a minute there, I thought I was going to be a special fiend to Jimmy Capps.  I felt so special.

I'm fairly happy about it though, because it gives me a story for my blog.

Be safe on the Internet, folks.  Don't be like Donna.  

Monday, October 14, 2019

Things should get back to normal

Yeah, with one thing and another, I haven't stopped to think about a blog entry.  I've spent a lot of time getting used to my new computer.  Saturday we had our tractor club's weinie roast at the local peach orchard.  I took my guitar and sang.  Honestly, Cliff seemed more nervous about this than I was.  As for myself, I wasn't nervous, thanks to the church folks at Journey of Faith wanting me to sing there.  That got me used to singing in front of folks again.  

I sang three songs songs I wrote myself.  And I read one poem.  Now, here's the thing:  I already knew that when you sing at an outdoor event with food involved, most people are eating and chatting (especially when you're on your own to introduce yourself).  I knew most wouldn't be listening, and it it seemed as though NOBODY was listening, I had decided beforehand to stop at one song.  However, as I sang and looked around, I noticed a few people really paying attention.  So after the first song, I just sang to the ones paying attention.  Some went on talking, which bothered Cliff, but not me.  I had warned him of this!  He was just on pins and needles, scared somebody wouldn't like my singing, I guess.  Obviously he's never looked around when there's a music act at our town fair, because it's the same thing.  Maybe half the crowd listens, if that.  If everybody had seemed interested, I would have done another couple things, but I decided to quit while I was ahead.  There weren't as many people as usual in attendance, probably because it was 32 degrees that morning with frost on the ground.  

We did a tractor ride to Lexington, probably 7 or so miles from the orchard, to Anderson House.  There are lots of Civil War bullet holes in the walls of the place, inside and out!  On the way back to the orchard we went through the Macphelah cemetery to remember one of the club's founding members who passed away last winter. 

I thought I'd lost a cat.  Jake, Mama Kitty's son, didn't show up at chow time for a few days.  When I mentioned this to the guys, Arick said a yellow cat had gotten run over nearby and thought it was probably him.  But yesterday old Jake showed up, looking no worse for the wear.  He seemed really hungry, though.  

Cliff had a problem with the Oliver 1855 tractor, our biggest tractor.  He said he was really afraid it would be some expensive, hard-to-fix problem; turns out he and Arick found the problem and fixed it without any expense at all, and very little trouble.  They've also been working on Arick's John Deere lawn mower, and found whatever it was that had caused long-term problems with it.  So that's fixed too.

Today Cliff saw a tractor on Craigslist that may be worth the money.  It's in Payola, Kansas, over 80 miles away, but that's not so far to go look at a tractor; we've gone a lot further in the past!  Arick thinks he and Cliff need a new project to do together.  

There are lots of turnips growing with the other stuff in Arick's wildlife plot, so I've been helping myself to some.  Cliff never liked turnips; he'd try them, but one bite was enough to make him "turn-up" his nose in disgust.  There are only about half a dozen foods that he doesn't like.  He is not very picky.  But he's never liked turnips.  I looked on and found 150 recipes that contain turnips!  I wanted to see if there was anything I could do with them that Cliff would like.  I also wanted to look for a recipe that would taste like my mom's turnips, and I actually found one.  I passed over it a few times because of the silly name of the dish:  "Thanksgiving Day Creamed turnips" (who cooks turnips for Thanksgiving?).  When I finally noticed the word "creamed", I checked the ingredients and thought it might be what I was looking for.  Mother served many vegetables "creamed"... carrots, peas, and sometimes creamed potatoes. I cut the ingredients for the sauce in half, though, because I just wanted enough to coat each slice, not enough so the turnips are floating in it like soup.  Also, the recipe said boil the sliced turnips for 5 minutes, pour off the water, cover them with fresh water, and cook another five minutes.  I didn't do that, because I was sure my mom didn't.   

I told Cliff I finally found a way to make Mother's creamed turnips, and he took a small bite.  Then he took another BIG bite, and about four more.  "Yeah, I'd eat that," he said.  Now that amazed me.  

We've had three lovely autumn days, counting today, with highs around 60.  Tomorrow sounds like the same sort of day.  Nice days to hang all the clothes out on the line.  There's just the right amount of breeze, and the sun is shining.

Enjoy this lovely time of year, won't you?  I will get back to a regular blogging schedule eventually, I'm sure.

Your friend,

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Where have I been?

Well, folks, I got a brand new Apple Macbook.  And therein lies a tale.

I'm semi-familiar with using a Mac, having used Mac Minis for a few years.  However, I was using a keyboard and a monitor I already had, because that's what you do with a Mini; which is why they are Apple's cheapest option for a computer.  The current Mini is running so slow, especially when working with photos, that I avoid it at all costs.  A tech said he could put a solid state drive in it for $500; he said it's slow because the system can't handle the latest updates.  So I could have spent less money doing that.  But I do like the idea of having a laptop, sitting in an easy chair to write my blog, which is the only thing I couldn't do to my satisfaction on the iPad.  There are apps for blogging, but I found those wouldn't let me do a very long entry because after a certain point, I couldn't scroll down to write more.  Pictures were a problem, too, with the apps.

So here I am, the proud owner of a brand new but more expensive Macbook ("expensive" is one of those words you could qualify by asking, "more expensive than what?).  

It reacts smoothly and quickly when I surf.  I actually do like it very much!

BUT:  On my Mac Minis, I never spent the time I should have to learn many of the perks, shortcuts, and so forth of a Mac.  The older I get, the less I like having to learn new things, and I've always been lazy, going with the flow.  So I made do and thought nothing of it, using my own workarounds.  You know, being too embarrassed to ask questions of my Mac-wise friends because I knew I'd appear stupid.

Guess who's doing her best to learn those tricks now?  This seventy-five-year-old woman, that's who.  And I'm getting there.  You see, I hadn't used a keypad for ages.  For the most part, I used the apps on the iPad, only going to the computer if I wanted to do a blog entry.  

I believe I've gotten used to the keypad on this thing, although I'm still learning new swipes and gestures to use.  Because it's a 13-inch Macbook, the keyboard is sort of scrunched up, more compact than the one I've been using, although I'm doing pretty well with it now except for the letter "P", and I've just about gotten over that slip.  My pinky finger just doesn't want to reach to that exact spot for some reason.  

I have a whole story to tell you about the process it has taken me to actually USE this computer.  All my life I've bought new computers, fired them up, and used them within a half-hour of getting them home.  My experience with this one allowed me to do that.  But when I began getting my Apple ID and such, things got hairy.  This time, through no fault of the Apple corporation or my Macbook, it was a journey in realizing how difficult old age can make things, because I get flustered so easily when learning new things.  I will be sharing this story with you to let you know that everything came out right in the end.  

Don't you hate it when people tell you the end of the story first?  But I hate sad endings, so I like to know a story will end well, before I read it.

As to what I've been doing?  After I transferred the files and folders to this new computer from the Mini, I began a task I've needed to do for years:  I'm cleaning up my photos, starting with 2007.  They would go back to 1998 when we got our first computer... no,, it was probably the second one, because I didn't have a blog at first...  anyhow, back then I didn't even know how to post a picture online.  Most of my computer skills through the years have been self-taught.  In other words, I had a fool for a teacher, because I was clueless.

I'd take ten identical pictures to make sure I got a good one for my blog, but I never took time to delete the ones I didn't want.  There wasn't any organization as to where the files lived on my computer, and sometimes I will find there are several copies of the same picture in different places.  I hadn't been giving myself a way to find any one single picture I wanted to see because I just didn't know how to access them.  I'm fixing that as I go, so if I want to see pictures of Cliff, I can type in his name and all pictures of him show up.  Of course I should have done all at the time I downloaded the photos and was done with them, but as I said, I'm lazy.  Now I'm paying for it.  

I'm only through about half the year of 2007 with this project, and there are 12 more years left to go through; so I'll be doing it for quite a while.  Wish me luck!  On the bright side, in more recent years I haven't taken nearly as many pictures.  So it should get better.

Yours truly,

Thursday, October 03, 2019

About Gabe, my dog

There's no doubt Gabe is MY dog.  Most of the time if he is going to lounge beside somebody... and that's pretty often... he chooses me.  If I tell him we are going to let him go bye-bye with us, he jumps and runs and spins like crazy and even gets in his living-room bed, trying to chew it to death; but i Cliff heads to the car without me, Gabe won't leave the house until I leave.

There is one time of the day Cliff gets some attention, though.  I get up early, could be any time from three to five AM because I'm naturally an early bird and love the quiet of early morning hours.  Usually Gabe is ready to get up whenever I do, although when it's as early as three, he will sometimes choose to sleep another hour or so.  I shut him in his kennel at night now, because a while back he had a couple of accidents near the front door.  I guess he thought his sitting by the door like he does all day would work when I'm asleep, as though he could transmit his needs from the living room to my sleeping brain.  When he's in the kennel, he will whine, on the rare occasion he needs to go out, or even yip a bit.  I have said to Cliff, many times, "He isn't the brightest dog I've ever had."

I thought I'd never get him to bark when he's outside the door wanting in, but he's finally perfected that.  However, for the life of me, the only way I can get him to bark when he wants OUT is to walk over in front of him where he stays in perfect "sit" position like a little soldier.  I then repeat the word "Speak" over and over and over until finally he will bark (but first he will let out a little growl in his throat).  I keep trying, but no results so far, unless I go through that ritual of saying "speak" until he gets tired of hearing it.  You have to admire him for his skill at manipulating me to do things that make Cliff shake his head and sometimes snicker, of course.  Gabe and I are always good for a laugh when I try to teach him anything.

Gabe sits beside me in the old recliner before and after he's had breakfast, while I'm cruising Facebook and playing Words With Friends.  He eats at 4:30.  Cliff usually has no reason to get up at a certain time, he simply doesn't like to sleep in, these days.  If he lays in bed too long, his arthritic shoulder on one side and his arthritic hip on the other hurt him.  So, at his request, I wake him at 7 AM.  By this time I'm done drinking my three cups of coffee, so I make three cups fresh for him.  Gabe knows my routine, and he has ideas of his own at this time of day.

I bought a package of well-made toys at Costco for Gabe.  He isn't one to play with toys too much, but when he does, he can be rough on them, and these toys last.  When he isn't playing with them, I toss them in his wire kennel, and he sleeps with them at night.  Now, picture this:  It's five minutes till seven and I see Gabe go right over to the bedroom door and sit.  When he does, I know Cliff already got up, although how Gabe can hear him walking on a thick carpet, I have no idea.  If one of his toys is available, he will have one in his mouth as he waits for the door to open, or else right beside him.  If the toys are all in the kennel, which stands open all day after I turn Gabe loose, he will dart inside it and grab a toy as quick as a flash, like he's sneaking.  This is an every-morning happening.

 When this was taken, I had already kissed Cliff on the cheek a few times and told him his coffee was ready.  Gabe got tired of waiting for him to get out of bed, because it takes Cliff awhile to get everything "woke up" so he can actually walk.  I, too, have this problem.  Yes, those are my shoes under the bed, and the random socks laying there are some Gabe took out of my other shoes.  He has a sock fetish.  

I have to take a minute to let you know as I was in here typing, Gabe actually went to the door and barked, with no coaching and without me even in the room!

While Cliff was waking up, Gabe decided it was a good day for the zebra rather than the horse.

 I always call him out of the room when Cliff gets up because my husband doesn't like a dog bothering him when he's half asleep.  Gabe remembers, every single time, to bring a toy out with him, because he gets it out especially for Cliff each day.

This is about all Gabe does with his toy.  He lounges with Cliff awhile and chews on his toy.  Once in a blue moon, if Cliff's in the mood, he'll throw the toy and Gabe will go after it and bring it back.  

Same routine, every single day.

By the way, here's a link to the Kinzenbaw website entry where they mentioned me and included a link back to my blog.  Click HERE.


Saturday, September 28, 2019

It rained on our parade

Yep.  It began gently raining around 4:30 today.  It's been a slow, boring day, and I was really hoping we'd be able to participate in the Wellington Fair parade, which was to start at 6:30.  Cliff had been reading, watching TV, and napping his way through the day while I was getting restless.  Our daughter always has a party during the fair, and they have a delicious meal; then suppertime drew nearer.  Cliff and the grandson were sitting around making small talk.  I told them it was probably about time to eat at Rachel's, but they didn't seem to hear me.  Finally I decided to get some action going.

"I think we should just get on the tractor.  It's barely raining at all, and who knows, it might stop by parade time.  We could go to Rachel's house and eat and see what the weather does."  Cliff obviously thought I was crazy, but once in awhile he'll give in to something just to make me let me look like a fool so he can laugh at me later.  I put Gabe in the kennel and we went to the garage where the tractor and the "Donna-carrier" were waiting to go.  Cliff dug out the rain suits we bought when we had the motorcycle.

When we arrived at Rachel's, people were eating already, so we helped ourselves too.  I had her take a picture of me in the people-carrier wearing my rain suit, but it wasn't on my phone when I got home, so something went wrong.  No biggie.  While we were eating, it began thundering pretty close to us and raining harder.  That's when we decided to return home. 

Still, the ride in the rain got me out of my funk.  Sometimes people need to do something silly, outrageous even.  I was singing and laughing all the way home in the rain!

It reminded me of when my parents and I lived in the Harlem section of Kansas City and both parents worked.  One day the rain was pouring down while I was home alone... I would have been 12 or 13... so I found an umbrella and went walking barefoot in the downpour.  There was a popular song at the time that I sang as I splashed along.  That memory is as clear to me as though it happened yesterday.

This morning Cliff and I went to the car show in town. 

Earlier this week when I went for my walk, there was one day the spider webs were everywhere, even on the ground!

This is sort of a random entry, so don't mind the subject change.

How about pictures of my favorite car in the car show?  

Leave it to me to take four pictures of my favorite car without ever getting a shot of the entire car.  The reason it's my favorite is that when Cliff and I were in our early 20's, we went car shopping.  We had a toddler, and I was pregnant with my daughter.  The salesman at the Plymouth dealer obviously didn't think we were old enough, and didn't look prosperous enough, to consider buying a new car.  He made us feel like second-class people, so we ended up going elsewhere and buying a Ford pickup instead.  But I've always remembered how badly we wanted that Road Runner.  Cliff has said many times it was probably for the best; when he was that young, he had a pretty heavy foot, and was ready to drag-race anyone at the drop of a hat.  One time we had groceries in the back seat and some guy decided to race with us right there in Independence, I think on 24 highway.  A cop noticed and turned around, so Cliff did a quick turn onto a side street and headed home.  Yep, my husband was quite the outlaw in those days.  

It's still raining.  I saw on Facebook that the parade did go on, so I almost wish we'd stayed, but as Cliff said, we'd have been riding the tractor two miles home in the dark, as well as in the rain.  

We'll try to stay alive another year and hope for no rain on fair day.


Friday, September 27, 2019

I attended the tractor club meeting

When Cliff first joined the two of us up with the tractor club, I didn't go to meetings with him.  I figured he was retired, and this would be something he could enjoy with other guys.  After the first time he attended the meeting, he told me a little about the meeting, and said it was going to be hard to get to know all the people, because most of them were strangers to him.  And he said, "I missed my sidekick."  That'd be me, if you don't know.  So for a time, I went with him.  We both got to know some of the people, and this summer I've been staying home; Cliff doesn't mind going alone now; he's met some people.  

The club doesn't have meetings in November and December because people are busy with the holidays, although we always have a Christmas dinner with them in December.  I decided since next month will be the last time to get together for awhile, I'd attend and let folks know I'm still among the living.

There's a guy, Larry, who runs a local peach orchard that I used to work for, back when he also had apples there.  This was a period of time when I was writing songs and poems every once in awhile, and I'd share some of those with co-workers, my boss, and his wife.   I'm going someplace with this, so be patient.

Our meetings are very informal.  In fact, mostly everybody just sits around visiting.  Oh, they go over the events they've been to since the last meeting, and talk about events coming up.  But there just isn't a lot of "business" to handle.  Afterward, everybody eats snacks, because some of the wives bring goodies for everybody.  Cliff loves this, but I am not one to eat at 8 PM, so when I go, I sit and visit with him and others while he eats.

So last night we were at the meeting.  We'd been at it for maybe fifteen minutes when Larry came in late, and got up in front to let everyone know when we should line up for the parade in our little town tomorrow, and to discuss the wiener roast we always have in October at his place.  So he's telling all this stuff, suddenly sees me, quits talking, and says, "Hey, Donna Wood!  You need to bring your guitar and do a program at the Christmas dinner."  Yeah, in the middle of the meeting.

"Oh no," I said.  "Oh, no way."  

I don't know these people that well, most of them, and I am NOT a performer.  

"OK," he said, then how about getting up a little program (program???  I'm no entertainer!) here at a club meeting?"

"No, I'm not doing that either."

So he starts telling everybody about the poems and songs I've written, and about that "thing you've got on the Internet", and how great I sing (he's tone-deaf, so I'm not sure how he knows).  I looked around at the crowd and said, "He's talking about my blog.  If any of you are interested, I can tell you how to find it on the Internet.  

I told Larry I was not going to sing at a tractor club meeting or at the Christmas dinner (bigger crowd than I need).  

He dropped it until after the meeting was over, but as we were heading for the door, he said, "You won't do a program for Christmas, huh?"  Nope, I would not.  "What about at the wienie roast then?"

"Well," I said, "that would be a more appropriate place."

"So you'll do it?"

"I'll think about it."

I probably will, although I think he's expecting a full-blown program.  I am NOT a public speaker.  I might sing three songs, and I might read a couple or three poems for them.  I've made the mistake of being asked to do a "program", doing it, and when I'm almost done, realizing I've outstayed my welcome.  Pretty embarrassing.  That old Vaudeville saying "always leave 'em wanting more" is always good advice.  

Two people... one gentleman, the other a lady... asked how to find my blog.  I assured them it wasn't at all as interesting as Larry thinks it is, but I told them to type "just me donna" in a search engine and that should get them here.  If my two new readers found this blog, welcome.  I'll leave a few interesting links for you, because lately I'm not so sure I've written anything of great interest.

My mother decided to write her story, years before she died.  I've read and heard my mom's stories from her youth many times, so there wasn't much in the story I didn't know.  However, going through a period of "writer's gap", I dug her story out, serialized it, and turned it in to eight blog entries.  I had more readers of those entries than I've ever had at any other time.  So, if you'll click HERE, it gives you clickable links to the entries in the order they should be.

Here's an item of interest to my tractor club people, and one I'm rather proud of.  It's my entry about the Kinnzenbaw tractor collection.  The thing I'm so proud of is that somehow the folks at Kinze Manufacturing found the entry and added the link to their company blog.  That entry, from 2014, still gets from seven to fourteen visitors each week, over five years after I wrote it.  Click HERE to see the Kinzenbaw tractors.

Another series of entries is about Jim Perrine, a man who began life three or four miles from where I live.  He tells about his childhood living on the Missouri River Bottom, about going to school in Wellington, and later on, becoming a coach and principal in Higginsville, Missouri.  His niece found it interesting, brought it to me, and I got permission to serialize it in my blog.  Because he was from the area, his story was of interest to a lot of local people.  So I shared the links on Facebook and, once again, had a very popular group of entries.  You will find the first entry in his story HERE.  At the end of each entry, there is a link to the next part of the story.  

Boy, it got hot again!  It's been so nice this week, I thought somebody had messed with the thermostat when the air conditioner wouldn't quit running.  I asked Alexa the temperature and found it it was over 90 degrees.  

But every morning feels more like autumn than the day before.  


Wednesday, September 25, 2019


I finally decided to update our Garmin Nuvi, after two years of faithful service.  As I was sitting at the computer impatiently waiting for all the maps to update (or whatever else the update entails), I said to myself... well, wait, let me back up and say that Bill Burr's voice in my head is gone, but after watching Jeff Dunham today, I'm hoping he'll be the next voice doing my "thinking" for me.  He, or one of his puppets.  

Now.  I was sitting here idly waiting for our Garmin to update and said to myself (since no comedians are speaking for me), "Self, you owe all three of your readers a blog entry.  Surely you can come up with something, anything.”

As it turns out, this was a good thought, because I got the notice it will be three hours until my GPS is done.  From past experience, if it says three hours, it'll probably be more like six, with our 5.8 out-in-the-boonies Internet speed.  Or maybe more, because CenturyLink has people cutting brush off the lines at present; it may be unrelated, but I've noticed a lot of people complaining about their phone lines going dead.  Today we've been going back and forth from no Internet to the usual speed in a matter of minutes; it's happened at least five or six times.  I'm picturing limbs landing on phone lines, causing problems with telephones and Internet, and the people getting it off the lines so it will start working again.  This is probably all wrong, but let me have my little fantasy, OK?  

Cliff and I made a big discovery the other day.  When we were at my sister's a while back, I told her we never used to go into a Dollar General Store, it was just easier to get everything at Walmart.  However, we found some things that are especially low-priced.  Also, it's handy if we need milk, and nothing else, to get it at Dollar General; or when I let the cats run out of food.  The best bargain of all is found in the greeting card section.  You can get really nice cards for a dollar or two.  Maxine said she likes Dollar Tree, too, saying Cool-Whip is always a dollar there.  Well, I had been in a few Dollar Tree stores, and all I noticed was a lot of cheap knick-knacks (I call them dust-gatherers).  I just couldn't stop thinking, "What would you want that costs only a dollar?  How good could this stuff be?"

Well, the two of us went into Dollar Tree and found several things to buy; Cliff even bought some pool noodles that were on clearance for fifty cents.  I went back to the freezer to see if they had Cool-Whip, and there it was, just like Maxine said.  I shouldn't have looked, though, because I saw a food item in that freezer section that is an achilles heel to both of us.  Why are we so food motivated?  I don't know, but we saw some of those delicious Snickers ice cream bars that cost twice as much in Quicktrip stores... and yes, they were a buck each!  We bought two and ate them as soon as we got to the car.

So, Monday I told Cliff I wanted to eat at PT's in Oak Grove; I wanted us to split one of their huge tenderloin sandwiches and a half-order of onion rings, because even splitting it, it's almost too much for us.  As we drove past the brand new Dollar Tree in Oak Grove, I said, "And there's our dessert!  A Snickers ice cream bar!  I assume all Dollar Trees have them, right?"
"I'd think so," Cliff said.

Not so.  Brand new store, but the freezers quit working.  Really?  Oh well, we went to Quicktrip and paid twice as much, so we got our ice cream anyway.  

The updates are 14% loaded now, and there are still three hours and ten minutes to go.  


Friday, September 20, 2019

Various topics: Bill Burr, the morning walk, and weeds

I'm like a teenager when it comes to comedians, or actually, anyone on TV I really, really like:  I get crushes on them; yeah, I even get girl crushes on a few woman.  Dolly Parton has been on my "girl crush" list for many, many years (surely you realize I'm not talking sexual attraction).  Perhaps the reason why Cliff and I have been married so long is that we both have a sense of humor, and we even enjoy the same comedians.  Anyway, my latest comedian-crush is Bill Burr.
Just look at that babyface
This morning, imagine my surprise when I realized the voice in my head (when I'm talking to myself but my lips aren't moving) is the voice of Bill Burr.  Hey, I like the guy, so I enjoy that voice.  Maybe he'll eventually start telling jokes as I take my walk.  I won't leave a video here for you, since he sprinkles the F word liberally throughout his routine.  But Cliff and I go into a flurry of anticipation when we hear that guy is coming out with a new video on Netflix.  By the way, his voice in my brain never says a curse word.  When I'm alone in the house, I have fun with Bill's voice in my head.  I may be cooking and suddenly wonder if I put the vanilla in the batter; I will ponder awhile, then say, "Bill?  What do you think?  Did I or not?"

Now that you know I not only hear voices but also answer them, I'll probably lose the few readers I have... but wait!  Everybody wants to watch a train wreck, so I might get more readers!  Yeah, that's the ticket, you get to watch and see if Cliff puts me away.  

The furthest two trees on either side of the path Cliff mowed are walnut trees.  When my cabin was back there under those trees, I called the one on the right the Old Chief (it's the one that leans to the left from a wild grapevine making it bend some) and the one on the left Brave Warrior.  I loved laying in the cabin on a windy day because of the sound in those two treetops.  Gabe and I felt pretty special that Cliff mowed our path yesterday in the awful heat.  

I saw many of these spiders (above center) on our walk today, big old fat boys (or girls).  I wanted to get one of them in the middle of her beautiful web, but when I got the camera too close, they did the same as this one and started climbing a long strand back into the treetop.  Gabe happened to notice a terrapin in the weeds near the path and showed it to me, sniffing it from one end to the other.  I took a picture, but apparently didn't shove the button hard enough, because there is NO picture of a box turtle in the last group I downloaded.  According to the Missouri Conservation department, there are no true terrapins in Missouri, but I had mistakingly learned to call them that.  The proper term is box turtles.

Last year I read that Monarch butterflies are endangered because the only thing they eat is milkweed leaves, and farmers have taken up a lot of the land where weeds used to grow by planting crops.  They suggested we should go to a nursery and buy some milkweed plants; I bought one, and was thrilled to see a Monarch caterpillar (larvae) on it, although I never saw it make a chrysalis.  I'll never know what happened to it... maybe one of the birds I feed had it for dinner.  

Anyway, many of my flowers are done blooming for this year, so I was pulling weeds and cutting down some flowers.  There is a vine that insists on invading my flower bed every year.  As I was jerking about 20 years of vine out that had wound around the tops of some flowers, I noticed there were pods on it and, on inspecting them, realized they were milkweed pods.  

So I'm the fool who went and bought a milkweed plant when I had plenty of milkweed plants at home.  They are different varieties of milkweed, since the one I bought is not a vine; but Monarchs like all of the varieties of milkweed.  I'm going to watch for someplace near a sunny fencerow where I can plant the seeds in the pods.  I'll make this place a Monarch Butterfly hotel!

That's it folks!

Yours truly, 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Hello friends and neighbors!

I don't have anything blog-worthy, but here I sit anyhow.  It's hot today, has been all this week; but before you know it, we'll be watching for snow.  It's been a lot cooler this summer than last, though, as I'm reminded when I look at our electric bill.  They compare the last 12 months to the previous year, and most of them have averaged cooler temperatures, and our bill has been less both those months.  I also keep the thermostat higher lately so the A/C doesn't run so much.  We never had whole-house A/C until we got this trailer house, so I don't even know how hot or cool most people keep their homes.  For five years or so, I'd set it anywhere from 74 to 76.  For the past couple months, I've been easing it up to 78 or even 80, and doing fine for the most part.  It isn't as though I'm doing hard labor in here:  More often than not, I'm reading as I sit almost directly under the ceiling fan.  I stay plenty cool.

Since I got the Instant Pot, I don't know when I've used a slow cooker, except for carrying food to group dinners so it will stay warm.  I decided to re-familiarize myself with using a slow cooker.  We need to go to the store, but not until tomorrow; I looked at recipes until I found one I had all the ingredients for, cheesy chicken and rice.  It was supposed to have a box of prepared Zatarain Rice added at the end, but I only had ordinary white rice.  I did have three chicken breasts and the cream of chicken soup called for.  It got nicely done, but both Cliff and I thought it was somewhat lacking in taste; perhaps if I'd had the proper rice, it would have tasted better.  It wasn't bad, just boring.  

Apparently this is a great year for watermelon:  A neighbor across the road has given us several, and the two bigger ones must have weighed 30 pounds or more.  A lady at the Baptist Church said her garden has gone crazy with watermelons too.  I'm still attending two churches every Sunday and actually, loving every minute of my association with both.  It's sad to see so many of these small-town churches shrinking like they are, but people just don't feel the need to go to church any more.  It's a busy world these days, though, with both the husband and wife usually working all week; I can see why they need to spend time at home when they're not working.  And so many are unbelievers these days; I surely wouldn't expect someone who's an atheist to attend church.  

Things just aren't as cut and dried as they once were.  Nothing is simple any more.  Maybe it never was; maybe it just seems simple to us when we're children.

I'm reading "The Liar's Club" currently.  It's a non-fiction work written by Mary Karr about being raised in a dysfunctional family.  In the introduction, she writes, "... I chose to write 'The Liar's Club' as memoir instead of fiction:  When Fortune hands you such characters, why bother to make stuff up?"  Oh yes, it's very interesting.  For our trip to visit my sister, we listened to an audiobook, "Explosive Eighteen" by Janet Evanovich.  I don't recall if I've read anything of hers before; it's pretty light reading.  I didn't care for the way it ended... she just sort of tied everything up in the last couple of pages. all at once.  There are lots of chuckles though, and the lady reading the book is great!  She does the voices for everybody, and sounds convincing, even when she's talking for the male characters.  Many times if a woman is reading the book we listen to, Cliff can't make her out very well and we have to give up on it after a few paragraphs.  

We are really enjoying Ken Burns' documentary on PBS this week, "Country Music".  

We have a parade to take part at Higginsville this Saturday, and the next Saturday is our little town's parade.  That will probably be it for this year.  I can almost feel autumn breathing down my neck!

This is a diffuser.  You set it on a burner on the stove, and whatever is in the pan you set on it won't stick.  It's amazing.  The handle of this one used to be brown, but you see, I store it in the oven with the skillets.  One day it sort of slipped over to the side of the oven and I didn't see it when I took out the skillets.  I don't recall what I was baking, but Cliff and I kept thinking something smelled hot.  I said, "It sort of smells like someone is burning wood chips, like when you barbecue or smoke meat."  Yeah, I was smelling the wooden handle.  I used this today when I was making rice pudding, which ALWAYS sticks without a diffuser.  

I do hope all my readers are doing well.  I'll leave a chuckle for you:

Yours truly,

Friday, September 13, 2019

Visiting my sister in her new home

Jonathan apples have been picked at the local orchard.  My sister, her son's wife, and a grandson's wife wanted some Jonathan apples and couldn't find any for sale in Oklahoma City, so I volunteered to take some to them.  Honestly, I just wanted a good excuse to visit my sister and see how she was doing after her latest move.  When I got their apples from the orchard, the lady there said they hardly sell any Jonathans; she said if they took them to Arkansas they could sell them, because they still cook down there.  The owner of Rasa Orchard told us a couple of years ago that they would eventually take the Jonathan trees out; he said Walmart won't even buy them from him.  I would think they would at least keep half a dozen Jonathan trees for the few people who want them.  

We had no problems at all with traffic, either going or coming home.  It was a smooth trip all the way around, and we had a lovely visit.  Maxine's son, Larry, with his wife, ate lunch with us.  They thought it would be the only time we could visit with no interruptions, since they were in charge of their three grandchildren while their daughter-in-law is away on a job-related trip.  Two of them are in school, and the youngest is in preschool for four hours or so.  There's another child (a girl) on the way.  These three are a lively bunch, and it was a hoot trying to get a good picture of them together.  I do have pictures, so without any more delay I'll introduce you to William, age 2, who decided I am the devil and refused to even look at me; Benjamin, age five; and Caroline, I believe age 7.  You will see by these shots that my nephew and his wife have their work cut out for them.  They brought the children by to see us after picking them up from their schools, and I just wanted a picture of the kids.  Benjamin is missing in the first picture, having gone on a search for an M and M’s.

Benjamin is absent here because he went to get an M and M out of the M and M machine in the guest bedroom.

 Benjamin came and got his sister.  I guess he figured she'd like an M&M too.
William is still avoiding looking at me

Things went from bad to worse
Grandma Debra stepped in to try and restore order

William tried to make a break from the hostage situation

William wasn't happy, but I was fast on the trigger and got one picture... with one kid smiling and two who would rather be anywhere else.  The lovely Caroline is a sweetheart; she read a book to me, and read it perfectly!  I was going to cut Debra out of the picture because she's blurred, but look at her!  She is posed to grab William in case he runs away.  Grandparents need to have nerves of steel, hearts of gold, and speed.

They are good, smart kids, but little William is two, and you never know what a two-year-old is going to say or do.  We've all been there!  

Maxine and I, just outside her front door

Us from a distance.

Here's something I thought was interesting:  A baby shoe worn by Maxine's father-in-law, who was born in 1886.

We enjoyed the visit.  Next spring or summer, we intend to go back, stay at least one more day, and visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, among other things.  I  hope by then the new baby is born, and maybe William will realize by then I'm a little ornery, but I'm really NOT the devil!


Monday, September 09, 2019

It was a busy few days

Cliff and I had planned a sort of impromptu vacation for this time period:  We were going to go to Colorado with the grandson and his wife.  I love Colorado, but for some reason I had a nagging feeling the time wasn't right for us to go.  Examining these feelings, I considered our cash flow:  We can only manage one good road trip a month, for the simple reason we don't charge anything we can't pay off in full each month.  We went to Omaha last month, then the big Illinois tractor show.  I wasn't so sure we could cover five days in Colorado after paying those two trips off (yes, we have savings, but not for frivolous use).  So, the money being tight was part of my "uneasy feelings".  Another thing was that in the back of my mind, I recalled the grandson working considerable overtime in the past month, and mentioning he was saving back the extra money to give the old barn here on the property a facelift.  I had a feeling all his saved money would end up being spent in Colorado.  I explained this to Cliff, and he told Arick to go ahead and take that week off, but rather than going to Colorado, the two of them would work on the barn.  

Now, this isn't a sturdy old 100-year-old barn with huge timbers in it for strength.  It started life as a garage, somewhere in Grandview, Missouri, I believe.  Cliff used the roof rafters from an old two-car garage for the roof of the main, middle part of this barn.  At the time I had the bright idea that we should just put the roof on the poles of the future barn, and as we got money, we could buy the tin for the roof and add the sides.  After about three years of that roof on poles standing out there, useless (although we did get the metal roof on it), we used a credit card and finished the rest of the walls; bad move on our part.  The side "lean-to's" were added later on, at different times.  

The grandson could probably have built a new pole barn almost as cheaply as he fixed up this one, but he wanted it to remain like Cliff built it.  Believe me, his work was cut out for him.  Nobody else would have wanted to fix that old thing, but he wanted it to always be Grandpa's barn.  He was in for some unpleasant surprises.  Once they took off the boards on the front, they found a lot of the wood behind those front panels were also rotten and had to be replaced.  More work!  

So, Thursday and Friday, August 30 and 31, Cliff and Arick tore the boards off the front of the barn.  

Arick's brother-in-law, Aaron, knows a lot about carpenter work and promised to bring a friend with him on Saturday and Sunday who works as a carpenter for a living.  Those two saved the day, because neither he nor Arick is good at the measuring that needed to be done.  Without Aaron and James giving up two days of a precious three-day weekend for us, I don't know how it would have gone.  And all they got for their efforts was a meal I cooked for them each of those days.

Cliff had an easy job that day:  He mostly just sat on the tractor and lifted them or lowered them as needed.  None of his work over those ten days was hard, but I know he was on his feet more during the ten days he and Arick worked on this project that he had been in years.  

So on Monday, Labor Day, it was back to Arick and his grandpa, by themselves.  And they were the crew for the duration.  They've done more painting than anything else.  Cliff had boards on the barn that made white stripes, as you can see on the top picture.  Arick decided it looked fine without those; as Cliff said, it will be easier to paint it when the time comes, without all those white boards on there.  Arick saved the letter "W", though.  Our friend Tom Dent made that for the original barn and he was the one that put it up at the peak.

By the way, there will be a door on the middle part of the barn, an actual garage door; I imagine that will improve the look.  The guys are going to fix sort of a half-door over that opening to the right of the main barn, to cover up from view the precious collection of scrap metal that they use in various projects.  That is where Blue's stall used to be, but Cliff took that out quite some time ago. The section on the very right with the white door is where I milked my cows.

I continued fixing meals for Cliff and Arick through this Saturday.  Now Arick is back to work so maybe he can get some rest from his "vacation".

We had a nice relaxing Sunday; Rachel's family came over, including some grandkids, and we had a nice visit and watched the kids being toted around on the bucket of Cliff's tractor and learning how to drive the side-by-side.  

Good times!

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Getting down to the nitty GRITSy. Among other random thoughts.

Sorry about the yellow highlighted letters.  It's highlighting the search words I used to find it.
After reading the book "The Best Cook in the World", I was left wanting to try all the recipes listed in it, especially the one for grits.  The only experience I've ever  had with grits was when my kids were small:  my mom had an Avon customer whose husband was a trucker, and he mysteriously brought home all sorts of sugary cereals and other such prepared foods that were "left over".  I thought nothing of it at the time, then lately as I think about it I realize he may have actually been stealing it from work.  But that's none of my business, whoever the guy was.  "Be sure your sin will find you out".  That's Numbers 32:23 in the Bible.  Now, back to my introduction to grits:

Among the other food items (ill-gotten gain) Mother passed on to me from the trucker's wife was instant grits.  I had no idea what one does with grits, but it looked a lot like Cream of Wheat, so that's how I fed it to my kids, after tasting it to see how it was.  After that, I had no interest in grits.  Cream of Wheat was available in stores, so why buy an imitation?  

But this book made me long for the actual experience of eating old-fashioned grits like it was fixed by the poor mountain folks in the Appalachians.  My first problem?  I couldn't find anything at Walmart but quick grits.  Also, the recipe I was following called for yellow grits, and I haven't found those anywhere for a reasonable price.  I did find some old-fashioned white grits on Amazon, and settled for those.  This morning I halved the author's mother's recipe because I already had breakfast.  This was my first mistake; I should have cooked the grits according to the box they came in, since the grits I cooked were so dry as soon as I mixed them in, I knew something wasn't working.  I kept adding water, as little as possible each time, to be able to even stir it.  However, after all that effort and thinning, when I added the small amount of cayenne, some black pepper, and a hunk of butter to the finished product, Cliff and I agreed that we both like it.  We were quite surprised.  

Remember a while back when I said I was going to take a break from Words with Friends for a few days?  Well, I did that, but it didn't cure me by any means.  I am still addicted to the game.  Now I will tell you, if you aren't familiar with how the game works, that some of the words they let you use are ridiculous, words like "QI" or "hae".  But if you just make up a word that isn't a word, the computer won't let you use it.  You eventually learn to roll with the flow; it they count it as a word, I'm going to use it.  You gradually memorize all these "non-words" that aren't really words, so you can use them in a pinch.  There have been two people who have complained about the type words I use.  There is a rather primitive message system that lets players chat as they play; I'd rather it weren't there, since it's often used by spammy folks acting like they are army majors looking for a poor old woman to take to the cleaners.  I found if I take my own picture off my profile and either put my dog or a picture of my husband and me together, nobody tries to romance me.  But here's the message that went on between me and some person I'm playing today:

That's the last I've heard from the person.  Below is the game she/he and I are/were playing.  
By the way, that individual wasn't as rude as the other guy (below) who complained using cuss words.  He accused me of not using words at all, although the game was accepting them as words.  I assume he meant to type "this guy" instead of "this gay", but who knows?  Since he seems to be a word expert, he could be anything. 

Oh yes, you run into all types playing Words with Friends.  

Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Overalls, spiders, and cornhusking

Last winter I did a blog entry entitled, "The Journey from overalls to jeans".  We couldn't find Cliff's brand of overalls anywhere.  He tried other brands, but none of them suited him.  He had about three pairs that were faded, grease-spotted, and old, but we knew they couldn't last forever.  We bought him a pair of cowboy cut Wranglers, but they still mostly stayed in the drawer unless he was going somewhere.  He just can't be happy in jeans because there's no place for his pliers, and he can't go anywhere without pliers.  The old overalls got rattier and rattier as he wore them to the shop.  He did not make the journey to jeans.

I looked online to no avail.  There was a brief glimmer of hope a few months ago when Feldman's suddenly had some Big Smith Overalls in stock, but they were not sized properly.  The checkout lady there told us a different company was making them.  I searched online again.  I kept landing on searches like "Walls Big Smith" and thought perhaps Walls (they make coveralls and such) had taken over.  Turns out they were the ones who had the brand in the 2000's for a few years, but I believe they went bankrupt... or maybe it was only the Big Smith portion of the company that went belly up.  

Now the Dickies company makes them.  I didn't know this, though, until Cliff actually managed to do a web search on his own; you see, I had given up looking.  But Cliff, unbeknownst to me, did a search and said, "Hey, you can buy Big Smith overalls right here online."

Sure enough.  He wanted me to order them from the site he was looking at.  I think they were $29.  However, by the time you added shipping, it would be more.  Also, I remembered last fall when Feldman's had the ones that were all sized wrong.  If we got some of those, we'd have to send them back, which means paying yet more postage. 

"Why don't we go to Feldman's again," I asked "since they had them last year when nobody else did."  

He wasn't especially thrilled with the idea, but I told him at least he'd be able to try them on there.  So we came home with a couple of pairs; the cost was a little higher than the online price, but if we needed to return them, it would be easy.  He will live each day a little happier in overalls, hopefully for the rest of his life.  I'm tempted to invest in about 10 pairs, in case the company folds again, but Cliff has been known to change sizes in the past, and that can go either way, up or down.  I don't want to be stuck with a bunch of overalls he can't wear.

We are having a glorious day today, highs in the 80's, sun shining.  I knew it was going to be that sort of weather, so rather than walk in the dark at six AM, I waited until Cliff and I had breakfast.  Then Gabe and I walked in broad daylight.  I think I"m done walking before sunrise.  Last Wednesday I wanted to take a walk before we went to Illinois the next day, so at six o'clock my dog and I headed out.  Turns out the spiders are getting ready for winter, and half of my walking path was blocked by cobwebs... which I couldn't see because it was DARK!  Is there anything creepier than running smack-dab into a full cobweb, right in the face?  I think not!  After the walk I tried to comb my hair and there was so much sticky webbing in one spot I couldn't get a comb through it without pulling out some hair.  I'd never have thought a cobweb could do that.  So today as I walked I swung a stick in front of me to clean out the cobwebs ahead.  Yuck.
Cliff has made the paths plenty wide, but the wind can blow those webs all the way across, allowing the spider to build a beautiful trap for unsuspecting insects that fly through, not to mention unsuspecting people.  

Up ahead of us in the above picture, webs were everywhere.

The second day we were at the show in Illinois, they announced that the world-champion corn-husker was going to husk some corn.  Nobody was quite sure where that event would take place, though, so we ran around on the golf cart for at least half-an-hour before we finally stumbled onto it.  I was interested in this event because my parents both husked corn, back during the depression.  Daddy bragged that Mother could husk as fast as any man he'd ever seen.  Mother saved Daddy's cornhusking knife from those days, and I still have it.  Here's a picture I took of it years ago for a blog entry:

So we found the spot for the event and waited with several others.  Finally the man showed up and some spectators gathered around to husk with him, but there weren't any horses with the wagon they'd need.  They gave up and used a four-wheeler for awhile.

Our champion cornhusker!  By the way, he wasn't in any hurry Saturday.  He knew it wasn't a race.

Finally the kid with the horses showed up.  Cliff and I figured he may have stayed up a little late the night before.  Kids these days!  There was a horse and a mule doing the pulling.

Cornhuskers, one and all.  At least for a day.  The ears of corn were pretty small, because after being delayed by rain last spring, they had to plant a variety that would grow fast enough to be ready in time for the show.

                                                      That wagon is old!