Sunday, February 24, 2019

Recycling leftovers

One thing I learned at my mother's knee:  Don't waste food!  My mom went through the depression, so she knew what it was like to save every bite that was left from one meal in hopes it would help fill out the next one.  Unlike many of the things she taught me, this was a lesson that stuck for life:  Don't waste food!

One of the advantages of being the cook of the household is that you get to make anything you want.  Cliff isn't picky, so as long as I don't serve him oyster soup, yogurt, or turnips (about the only things he hates), he's happy.  However, sometimes I get a hankerin' for something while there are still leftovers in the refrigerator that need to be consumed.  Right now there's one serving of broccoli-cheese soup left from yesterday, half a breast of a Costco chicken bought on Friday I planned to eat yesterday (easily enough for a main course for the two of us) until I got a hankerin' for brocolli-cheese soup), and one serving of chicken jambalaya (made from part of the Costco bird).  I figure Cliff or I will eat the jambalaya this evening.  Or the broccoli soup... or maybe we'll toss a coin tomorrow and see who gets the soup and who gets the jambalaya.  I put the chicken breast in the freezer, but one day this week it will become chicken salad for sandwiches.  And then I started peeling potatoes for potato soup (my hankerin' for today).

I've made broccoli-cheese soup twice before, using different recipes, but yesterday I just looked at a couple of recipes for suggestions and played it by ear.  It was by far the best I've made.  Both recipes called for chicken broth, so I pressure-cooked a couple of Costo chicken skeletons I had in the freezer to make the broth.  We don't throw away poultry bones in this house. 

This morning I found myself dreaming about breakfast buffets, Golden Corral's in particular.  I think the reason I'm always day-dreaming about breakfast buffets is the idea that you can have all the good breakfast items in one meal.  Let's face it, there's nothing they can serve for breakfast that I can't make at home.  But it make no sense for me to make waffles, bacon, sausage, pancakes, eggs, cinnamon rolls, gravy, etc. etc., for just two people.  We can only eat so much!  And to be truthful, what I really want the most in that lineup is scrambled eggs with cheese sauce poured over them.  So what I need to do, rather than make Cliff take me to breakfast thirty miles away, is make some cheese sauce, scramble some eggs, and pour the sauce over the eggs.  I can't even do justice to a buffet any more, try as I might.  By the way, I still haven't lost my holiday pounds, speaking of buffets and other downfalls. 

So what did we have for breakfast?  Something that is so very simple and cheap, I often forget it exists:  French toast!  One of the best ways to use bread that's too dry, although I'd say bread pudding is the VERY best way to use old bread... not that either of those options is going to help me lose my holiday poundage.  

Cliff and I had our great-granddaughter, Amara, here for a few hours yesterday.  She and Gabe are pretty good buddies:  He was always a bit of a problem with Cora when I watched her, because she is so energetic she runs everywhere she goes.  Gabe fed on that energy and at first would go running after her biting at her clothes and sometimes tearing them!  Finally, he figured out if he picked up a dog toy or something to keep in his mouth while he chased her, he would have to refrain from biting her and thus, stay out of trouble.  Amara toddles slowly, as any toddler should.  Once Cora began walking, she thought she was Andy Granatelli and couldn't waste time moving at a snail's pace.  While I'm talking about Cora, I might mention she is no relation to us.  I believe one of my readers commented, calling her my granddaughter.  She feels like family to us, after having her here from the age of two months until she was five years old, but I just happened to be the lucky one who got to babysit that little talking tornado.

Now, here's Amara.  You will be surprised at how well she took a beating from my dog.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Everybody talks about the weather

 Our weather has been very interesting the last few days, and I saw it "up close and personal" Friday.  Let's start with Thursday, though.  We saw the weather forecast that foretold a snow storm coming.  We weren't desperate for food; we never are.  If we're out of bread I can make some in the bread machine.  If we're out of milk, I have powdered whole milk in the cupboard.  I wouldn't want it on my cereal, but it's fine for cooking purposes.  So why would we make a trip to a Blue Springs grocery store?  

Bargains, that's why.  Considering it's twenty-five miles to Price Chopper in Blue Springs, they don't have any prices that truly make it worth the trip for us, but we've been housebound so much lately, I'm ready to go anyplace Cliff is willing to take me.  We weren't doing anything else, and Cliff said he didn't mind.  Just before we got to our destination, I realized I didn't have my billfold; I'd gotten it out of my purse to hunt up my Medicare card that morning, laid it down beside me, and forgotten to put it back in my purse.  Money wasn't the problem.  Cliff always carries a nice little stash of cash with him.  But in order to get those great bargains, I needed my Chopper Shopper card.  It was at home in my billfold, twenty-five miles away.

"Maybe they can look me up on the computer," I said.  "I'll go on in and see what I can do."

I asked an employee about it and he said, "Oh, that's no problem.  Just tell them your phone number and you'll be fine."

Right then, when he said this, I couldn't help but wonder how long the phone number they had on file had been there.  I couldn't recall ever changing a phone number at Price Chopper, and I've had Chopper Shopper cards for years.  What if it was our old land-line number?  But I'm no negative nelly, so I assumed everything would work out for the best.  I put all those wonderful bargains in my cart and went to the checkout, where I found out that sure enough, I didn't know the number they had on file.  I don't remember any of my old numbers.  The lady said, "We can put your cart in the cooler if you want to go home and come back."

I told her where we lived, and she agreed that wasn't an option.  I went in Aldi's and got a couple of items with Cliff's money and we headed home.

That evening the forecast hadn't changed:  There was a huge storm coming, with plenty of snow.  Friday morning around 9 AM, Cliff asked if I wanted to go to Price Chopper; there's one at Grain Valley, which is a little closer than Blue Springs.  "Really?  You are willing to go again?  What about the weather forecast?"

"It isn't snowing.  We'll go now and get home before the snow hits." 

So away we went, on a mission that really made little sense.  One reason Cliff was so willing to go was that I had chili made, and he was really wanting some Fritos for chili pie.  Fritos were $1.79 a bag.  Yes, you had to buy five bags, but they stay fresh for ages until you open them.  Oh yes, and Oreos were $1.99 if I bought five packages.  I always stock up on them so I can make everybody's favorite dessert (Oreo Delight) for family gatherings. 

We hadn't gotten five miles from home when we drove into a snowstorm.  It was like a white-out!  We got within sight of Price Chopper and saw the parking lot packed with cars.  We should have turned around and gone home right then, but no.  If the parking lot didn't scare me, the lines at the checkouts should have, because those lines went way back into the aisles.  I said to an employee, "Is everything gone?"  "Well," she said, "if you want bread or milk, you'd better hurry back there and get it; it's going fast."  

Every time I'd glance out the window in front of the store, I saw the snow really coming down hard.  I grabbed a couple of the wonderful bargains, but when I got to the Fritos, there were only two bags left, and I needed five to get that cheapest price.  Oh, and those two bags were jalapeno flavor, which I'd never tried.  Even though it was a strange flavor, and even though I would probably be paying over three bucks for a bag, I grabbed one, because that was the main item Cliff was worried about.  This whole trip was turning out to be a disaster.  

I went to the end of one of the long, long lines, quite frustrated.  I had a little pep talk with myself.  You know, stuff like, "Well, you can't do anything about it, so stop fretting."

(But I could have done something.  I could have turned and walked out the minute I saw the crowd in the store.)

A man ahead of me seemed to know me, so we visited a little.  This happens to me all the time:  Some friendly person will seem to know me, but all I can figure out is that the person is vaguely familiar.  That's because I don't look at people, so I never recognize anyone.  Besides, maybe the guy was just friendly.  But when it came his time to check out and he gave them his phone number, it was a Lexington number.  He probably knew me, might even be someone from the tractor club.  I'll never know.  

Then a woman in a line several registers down waved, calling me by name.  This person didn't even look familiar to me!  We hollered back and forth a couple of times about the weather, but I had no idea who she was.  One thing about it, she was friendly.

(Later a cousin's daughter told me on Facebook, "It was good seeing you in the long line at my Price Chopper this morning.  What an adventure!"  Now I feel better about not knowing who she was!  I don't think I've ever met her face to face; her mom goes to the family reunions, but she doesn't.)

I told the lady at the cash register, "I'm going to say a prayer for you folks working here.  Your customers get to go on home, but you have to be here with these never-ending lines of grumpy people all day long."

When I stepped out into the storm, I realized we'd gotten at least two inches of snow in the forty-five minutes or so I'd been inside, and it was coming down so hard and fast it was scary.  It was a slow drive home on back roads, trust me.  Cliff hung onto the steering wheel and said very little.  It took us, I'm sure, at least forty-five minutes to get home from Grain Valley.  We walked into the house around 11:15 AM, about the same time a terrible pileup of vehicles occurred a few miles away on I-70 in which one woman lost her life.

We always have a good supply of food here, and we've laughed at the crazy people who run to the store at the mention of bad weather.  This was the first time I've ever experienced such a mess.  I assure you it will never happen again.

The jalapeno Fritos were pretty good in our chili pies, though.  I'll be buying them often.

All told, I believe we got four or five inches of snow.

Full of gratitude (and who knows what else), I remain...

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Here we go again

This was yesterday's entry, but I messed it up so badly, it's taken me 24 hours to come back to the computer and try to fix it.  Guess what?  I just didn't bother to fix it completely.  I'm sick of this entry!

Yesterday our temperatures got up into the 50's.  Today we've plunged back into the deep freeze.  Honestly, I'm grateful to have the mud frozen again.  Our yard is ruined.  when we moved hack here to what once was part of the pasture, we planted grass in our front yard.  It was so nice!  But over the years, thanks to four-wheeled traffic, moles, drought, and mud, real grass is non-existent.  It's so bad, I doubt if there's even any crabgrass growing any more.  I'm hoping to convince Cliff to assist me in tilling up the front yard (he's thinking, "Oh, you mean poor old Cliff gets to do it") and planting grass again.  Of course we'd need to put out some grub treatment or the moles would have it ruined again in no time.  Dreams of spring in the middle of winter, right?

After reading about coyotes killing so many small dogs, I've decided to keep Gabe on a leash when we walk in the pasture.  I hate this development as much as he does:  His chief joy was being able to run as fast as the wind and head down into the hollers.  Just watching him in action made me joyful.  Typical of terrier-type dogs, he pulls on a leash something awful, but my oldest granddaughter passed  something on to me that she couldn't use:  A harness that won't let him pull.  I'd tried the Halti head halter back when I had Sophie, but this kind was new to me.  It goes across the dog's chest.
It isn't as severe as the head collar, but it does work.  Although my dog can't run free any more, I want him to have some room to sniff around, since sniffing is his favorite hobby when he's outside.  When he's here at the house, I use the six-foot leather leash the granddaughter gave me when I first got Gabe.  Don't you love it when your dog gets hand-me-downs? I love that leash, although when Gabe was a puppy he kept chewing off the metal snap that attaches to his collar.  Cliff re-attached it each time, so now it's only about 4 1/2 feet long.  I finally ordered a new one a couple of days ago (surprise, Cliff).  Anyway, I got out the retractable leash I hate because it gives him some room to roam while I'm slowly walking in the pasture.  The first time I took him out with the halter and leash, he broke into a run as soon as I opened the gate, as was his custom.  It was a short walk, because when he got to the end of the leash he came to a halt.  After the first five minutes he seemed to get used to it and didn't fight it much, so I've actually found something the retractable leash is good for.

I feel in need of a road trip, but this time of year isn't the best time to travel with the weather around the country like it is.  Cliff doesn't tolerate long car trips, so I've been trying to think of someplace not far away where we could go, someplace with museums and places of interest; We've been all over Iowa with our tractor club folks so there's not much left to see there. I wouldn't mind going to the Flint Hills again, seeing some things we missed before, but not in winter; We had a great time in Lincoln, Nebraska, but I think we saw everything there was to see there.  There are blog entries HERE and HERE about that trip.

So this morning my mind went in all directions, trying to think of someplace far enough for a road trip, yet not so far we couldn't get there in one day; guess what came to mind?

Colorado!  That won't work in winter, though.  I guess I'll just stay home and plan a summer trip to Colorado.

Have a great day.  There will probably be another entry soon, because I have other things to say.  

Your bumbling blogger,

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Is it spring yet?

We’ve had a time with this weather.  Our driveway turned into a sheet of ice from the thawing, then freezing back.  Can you believe there’s still nasty weather coming every other day this week?  At least the temperatures are going to be more bearable.  Gabe hasn’t been for an outside run in days; I was afraid to try taking him to the pasture, since there are slick conditions even on the grass, and I’m at an age where I don’t want to fall.  I’m thinking I may have to stop letting Gabe run loose anyhow, after seeing this from a Facebook friend in Massassachusetts.  

I’m posting this for the Boxford Dog Officer who is not on the internet or a member of this group.

Over the last few months, coyotes have attacked over a dozen dogs of all sizes in our town.

Dogs that were just a few feet away from their owners, at various times of the day, were victims and only a couple were able to be saved after extremely large vet bills.

The survivor dogs and their families will never be the same after such a horrific ordeal!

Poultry and livestock are at risk as well, so are your guard type dogs that the coyotes consider competition.

This is not a joke and if you keep poultry make sure that they are in predator proof environment. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS FREE RANGE, Because Really It’s A Free Lunch For Coyotes!

I’m not in Massachusetts, but Missouri has as many coyotes as any state, I’m sure.  Cliff and I often happen to look out the window to the north and see one loping across the pasture.  They are one of the main predators of chickens, but even when I kept chickens, I admired coyotes; I simply tried to make sure I penned up the hens at night.  However, I’m thinking I had better keep a leash on Gabe on our walks, as much as he loves running free.  He’s often out of sight, down in ravines, and it wouldn’t be hard for Wily Coyote to snatch him; he’s fast, but he’s no Road-Runner.  I’m trying to set up a plan, though, where I go to an area of the pasture where he doesn’t get out of my sight.  I’ll sit on the ground and read while he runs around and gets rid of some energy for fifteen minutes or so, then leash him and go for our walk.  Here’s hoping.  In summer, I can sit and read in the hammock with him running, and he doesn’t take off for parts unknown.  

Believe it or not, I’ve been having a problem finding a good book for the last several days.  I’ve returned several of them without reading past the first couple of chapters.  One book, “Cherry”, seemed to consist of nothing but a man and his girl friend staying high on injectable, illegal drugs constantly.  I went to a chapter about 3/4 of the way through to see if there was any redemption, but nope.  They were still doing drugs.  I don’t need that kind of negative hogwash, and I’m not patient enough to read the depressing stuff looking for the good in it.  It’s highly rated, but not the kind of thing I read.  I’m reading “The Hideaway” by Lauren K. Denton, but it turned out to be a love story, which has never been my favorite type of book, and pretty predictable (like most love stories).  I was struggling, about halfway through, and decided to see what was happening later in the book.  Yep, predictable.  However, lacking anything else, I decided to go ahead with it.  Next morning I began reading and realized some things weren’t making sense.  That’s when I realized I hadn’t gone back to my original spot, so I’d missed out on some elements of the story.  I backed up until I figured everything out (predictable), then went on reading from there, so I missed 1/3 of the whole story and still know everything that happened.  There are bright spots on the horizon, though.  A blogger friend in Arkansas mentioned the book she just read, “Inheritance”, by Dani Shapiro.  It was so good, she read it in one day.  I checked the Amazon reviews and immediately put it on hold at the library.  The estimated wait time for me?  Eight weeks.  By the time I get it, I won’t remember why I even wanted to read it, but that’s OK.  If it’s good, it’ll hook me by the second chapter.  And I’m sure it is good.  In other positive news, there’s a new book in the Chet and Bernie series coming out in July!  Chet, a big, black dog, is the narrator of these books, and does a great job at seeing detective work from a dog’s point of view.  That isn’t as silly as it sounds.  If you like dogs and detectives, you’ll like these books.

The grandson mentioned he had company coming for breakfast yesterday morning, so I jumped at the chance to make some cinnamon rolls, first ones I’ve made since July when our son was here.  I made a lot, so I sent one pan to his house and kept the rest here.  The son-in-law was in the shop working on a car yesterday afternoon, so Cliff took some out to him, with a carafe of coffee.  Cliff and I had a couple of them for breakfast this morning, too.  Still, there are about eight left, and I’m hoping the grandson will come and eat a few.  We don’t need them around tempting us every time we walk through the kitchen, and I’d rather not throw them in the trash.  

For my friends who have Netflix, I highly recommend the movie “Bernie”, based on a true story.  There are some great laughs in it, you get to see the main character talking to the man whose part he’s playing in the movie, and the people are so real, you will feel as though you’ve met them.  And it isn’t even R rated!  It might not be the best for children of a certain age, simply because there are some undertaker scenes and a death or two.  But Cliff and I don’t always like the same movies, and the grandson watches even different kinds of shows than we do... but we all three agree this movie is great.  Another one we enjoyed on Netflix was “Hell or High Water”, but there’s lots of killing in that one.  Can you tell I have cabin fever from all this being iced in?  I normally refuse to watch television during the day, but yesterday I found myself binge-watching “One Day at a Time” and “The Ranch”.  I can only force myself to watch “The Ranch” for two or three episodes at a time, though.  It’s pretty corny, most farm facts mentioned are off-kilter, and I get tired of a father and son yelling and cussing at one another all the time.  I actually found myself getting depressed yesterday, watching all that arguing.  

Well, that’s enough for today.  I’m doing my very best to do a blog entry at least three times a week.  If I go longer than that without an entry, I lose my mojo and don’t enjoy blogging any more.  If I force it (like most entries lately) and talk about trivial things, it keeps me coming back.

Life is good.  Spring is coming.  Global warming is real, but I don’t see anything we can do about it:  I don’t know how it works, but scientists say it’s the reason our winters are harsher.  Not to mention the hotter summers.  Scientists have made a believer out of me, now that I’ve finally read a little about it.   “You can’t tell much about the climate or where it’s headed by focusing on a particularly frigid day, or season, or year, even,” writes Eoin O’Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s all in the long-term trends,” concurs Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.”

We have this day, this hour.  Let’s not spoil today by worrying about something we can’t change.


Thursday, February 07, 2019

Iced in

It's a bitter cold, windy day, although not so slick on the grass and gravel as yesterday.  We got enough sleet and freezing rain this morning that it actually roughed up the surface areas so it's possible to get a little traction.  Yesterday I was afraid to step onto our gravel driveway, it was so slick.  Today, no problem at all.  I had a little problem opening the gate, though.

Ice wouldn't let me open the latch, but I went back to the walk-through gate, kicked it and jiggled it a few times, and got it open.  After five minutes outside, I knew I wouldn't be taking my usual walk all over the place.  I could have withstood the 13ยบ temperature, but that wind was awful!  Just for Gabe's sake, I went on back by the pond while he ran down in the surrounding ravines, disappearing awhile and then coming back to touch bases with me.  

Even dead weeds are pretty when covered in ice.

Gabe was excited to find a hole in a tree.

So right after I took this shot, to Gabe's dismay, we headed for the house.  

I see no reason to get out of my bedclothes today.  I don't picture anyone coming to visit.  However, we did have a special visitor yesterday.  Our little Cora came by for a few hours, first time we'd seen her in a month.  I get a kick out of her when she visits.  I moved a lot of her books and toys around after I stopped babysitting, so most things aren't quite where they used to be when she was here regularly.  Now, when she visits, she checks to see what's here and what isn't.  She does not like change, and if she played with something one time, two years ago, she considers it hers forever.  Yesterday she looked through all the books I kept after she entered pre-school, but couldn't find "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".  I can't imagine I would have given it to Goodwill or to some other kid, because it's a good one to have when children visit; and I have a nine-month-old granddaughter who would eventually like it.  But try as I might, I couldn't find that book.  I told her I'd keep looking for it, and she was OK with that.  

Another thing she will do every time she comes is to get out the Little People and make one of us play with her for a short time.  It's like she's checking to see if we've forgotten how to play with her.  When she was a toddler, she liked to play hide and seek with Cliff, but now that she's five years old, there's no way to hide from her in this little house.  There are very few places an adult can stay concealed here.  She kept begging Cliff to hide, and he kept telling her it was impossible.  As they were having their little discussion, I said, "Cliff, remember the game 'Hide the Thimble'?  Why don't you two use some small toy and hide that, the way kids used to hide a thimble?"  

That worked great, and we all had fun with it until her dad picked her up.  Sometimes I amaze myself.  

We had biscuits and gravy for dinner yesterday, so I let Cora play with the extra biscuit-dough, just like the old days.  She used my rolling pin to roll it out really thin, and I said, "That looks more like pie crust than biscuits."  Her face lit up, and she said, "Yah, it's pie crust!  Can I have a pie pan?  I'm going to make a grape pie for you and Cliff."  

"I don't have any grapes," I told her.  

"Grape jelly, silly!"

So I gave her a little pie pan, she shaped it just right, and we placed her "pie crust" in the oven with the biscuits.  When it was done, she spooned grape jelly into it.

You can see Cliff's plate in the background, with what's left of his biscuits and gravy.  We told her we were so full, we just couldn't hold much pie, but we had a bite of it.  Tasted like very thin biscuit dough with jelly, for some reason.  

I had fried a pound of sausage and took out about half the patties, setting them in a dish on the back of the stove-top.  When my back was turned, Cliff carried them to the table.  I noticed he had a sausage patty on his plate and asked, "Oh, you're eating some sausage?"  "Is that all right?" he asked.  

"Sure.  We can spare one patty.  I intend for us to have sausage, eggs, and warmed-up biscuits in the morning.  That's why I didn't put them on the table.  But go ahead and eat that one."

He agreed that was a much better idea than just eating them all at one sitting.  

Wish us luck.  We always worry that we'll lose electricity when there's ice on the lines and a brisk wind blowing.  I do believe we're done with the sleet and freezing rain, for this round anyhow.

Stay warm, my friends.  Enjoy the day.  I have books to read, and so does Cliff.  I'm glad to be alive.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

It's a good day

We had about four days of mud, so Gabe and I didn't go for a pasture-walk; His only outings were taken at the end of a leash, and he was only out long enough to do his business.  It's just too much trouble to have to give him a bath after every walk.  I don't mind combing stickers out of his beard, but I I don't think it's good to give a dog too many baths.  He already has dry, itchy skin from laying on the heat register every time the furnace kicks on.  Anyhow, as much as I enjoyed the unseasonable temperatures over the weekend, I'm glad to see the ground frozen again.  Gabe and I were able to go for our walk and still keep our feet clean, and we both loved it.  

I need some good, comfortable leather walking shoes.  For years I only bought Nike brand walking sneakers:  I walked three miles or so every day for exercise, and they were comfortable.  Back then I walked along the road and in a little local park for exercise.  Some years ago I decided to walk in our pasture.  I'm a morning walker, so when dew was on the grass, I got wet shoes and socks.  So I simply started walking barefoot when weather permitted.  When it was muddy or too cold, I'd wear my Muck boots, and mostly just used my sneakers for going to town.  I need to buy some shoes now, but I see no reason to buy sneakers.  The least amount of dew on the grass gets them wet, so I want some good, comfortable leather walking shoes for going places.  They'd clean up better and keep my feet dryer at those big tractor shows we attend.  Back before I was married when I was working in a factory and on my feet all day, I wore deerskin leather walking shoes that were perfect.  I guess they don't make those any more.  I'm not looking for something terribly cheap.  I want comfort and durability.  Wish me luck.  I have big feet, so it's sometimes hard to find the shoe I want for my size 11's.

A while back I was trying to explain to my sister, her son, and his wife how much I love going barefoot.  The best feeling in the world to me is walking through the cool, green grass on the first spring day, I told them.  The second-best feeling is walking on plowed-up garden dirt.  When I was telling this to them, they looked perplexed.  So, hoping to enlighten them, I said, "It's sort of like the feeling of coming home after a days work and taking off my bra!  It's freedom!".  Which I think only confused them more.  

You just don't know how happy I am on that first day of sixty-degree temperatures after a long winter, when I can go outside without shoes.  I feel like I'm a part of the earth, like I've been set free.  I feel sorry for people who don't "get" this sensation.  Cliff, for example, is a tenderfoot who won't even go barefoot in the house, and yells like he's dying if he steps on a grain of rice,... probably even a cooked grain of rice.  Not that there's rice laying all over my floors, but there's always something that he'd consider to be crippling when stepped on.   When I talk about the wonders of going barefoot in the grass, he just shudders, checks out, and thinks about other things, as though his feet hurt just thinking about it.  

I've shared the following poem before, but it seems appropriate to make it part of this entry; I jumped down off some hay one time and landed on a metal door-stop that did considerable damage and took awhile to heal; that's when I realized how much I owe to these feet of mine:

 I’ve taken walks for many years. I seldom miss a day;
It’s then I seem to hear from God, and find the time to pray.
I took for granted two good feet that carried me along,
And seldom thanked the Lord for them… till everything went wrong!
In fact, I griped about my feet, so hideous to me,
And several sizes larger than a lady’s feet should be.
Shoes were so confining that I didn’t wear them much,
Except when going shopping, or to Sunday school and such.

Now, when a person won’t wear shoes, her feet get stained from grass
And spread out even larger, and look unrefined and crass.
The calluses grow thicker, and unsightly scars appear
From all of the abuses heaped upon them, year to year.
One day my foot was injured as I went about the farm
(Keep tempting fate for long enough, and you will come to harm).
The doctor took some stitches, and it put me in such pain
That I could see there’d be no walks. That fact was very plain!

Well, now I can appreciate the things my feet can do…
So many years I’ve used them, and they always got me through.
Who cares if they’re not sexy feet, or delicate or small?
I’ve learned to thank my Maker that I have these feet at all.
Two weeks I couldn’t take my walks; my foot was slow to heal,
But I can count my blessings with a gratitude that’s real.
This whole experience is one I hope I don’t repeat,
But one thing I have gained from this: I’ve learned to love my feet! 

In closing, let me share a comment someone made on my "open gates" entry:   

I enjoy your blog and have been reading it for years I starting reading it because of the cows, 
when I was young we milked cows and sold the cream on Saturday my dad and I would go to 
town in a horse drawn wagon {1952} I know the feeling of giving up things like a big garden 
and chickens. My dad was cotton farmer 80 acre farm. Thanks. donjacks Muskogee oklahoma

I truly do blog mainly for myself, not for an audience.  Most of my family doesn't even read it... 
they know enough about my life that reading about it bores them.  And yet, hearing from 
someone who has never left a comment even though he's been reading for years makes me 
happy.  So yes, I do appreciate my readers.  Thank you for commenting, Don.  

Try to get outside and look at the trees and the sky, won't you?  Bundle up first, though.


(Don't ask why this entry is multi-colored with several fonts used.  It's a long, boring story about 
a woman whose techskills are limited.)

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Open gates

We have no livestock on the property now.  Cliff and I both catch ourselves looking out the window to make sure the calves are where they should be, then realize they're hanging in a cooler waiting for the butcher.  It’s just hard to get used to, after so many years of keeping cows and/or horses.  We’ve gone through this before, getting rid of the last cow or the last horse.  But before, there was always the thought that we could get other cows and horses if we so desired.  This time, it seems permanent, and it takes getting used to.  

Last night I went to the barn to feed the cats.  The gate I always walk through to get there was standing wide open:  for about five seconds, panic gripped me, turning my blood to ice.  Then I remembered it doesn't matter, since there aren't any cows in the pasture.  Still, as I passed through the gate, I made a motion as though to shut it behind me, because just the sight of an open gate causes me so much anxiety.  But I saw it was firmly blocked with a rock or something.  Obviously somebody had intentionally left the gate open, planning for it to stay open.

You can see two open gates in this picture, but the narrow one in the forefront is the one that bugs me.  The other one only leads to the pasture, so it's safe.
I went on and fed the cats, then back to the house, where Cliff sat in his accustomed place on the couch.  “That walk-through gate to the barn, did you block it open?” I asked.  

“Well, yes.  We don't have any cows now.  Is that OK?”

“It just drives me crazy to see a gate open, that’s all.”

"If it bothers you, go ahead and shut it.”

And I actually would have, but I couldn’t move the chunk of irregularly-shaped concrete that was holding it open.  I decided to keep my mouth shut and learn to live with open gates.  

I know, it sounds like I’m a crazy woman, wanting to shut gates for no reason.  But if you’ve ever stepped outside to an open gate, then taken a head count and found out cows are missing in action (or even worse, the horses), you understand that feeling of hopelessness that ensues.  Every sort of awful thing that could possible happen to livestock goes through your mind:  “If a car hits one, we’ll be sued for damages.”  “What if a neighbor’s bull breeds that six-month-old heifer?”  “How will we ever get them back in?”

The instant a cow or horse gets outside a pen, he knows he's free.  He’ll kick up his heels and head for the hills faster than you can say "I hate cows and horses".  Horses are the worst, because of their speed and high-strung temperaments.  You might have four of the gentlest horses in the world running together, and if they all get out together, you might get a bucket of feed and walk up to the gentlest one, slip a halter on it, and lead it home as the others follow.  My horse Blue never ran from me if he got out.  But if you have one ornery one, just one misfit outlaw with a lot of extra energy and a rebellious spirit, she will take off running and bucking and the others will join her, just because it’s fun.  The old saying is true... one bad apple spoils the barrel.  Good luck getting these animals home.  

But I’m going to try and get used to open gates.  It’s time I faced reality.  

We aren’t going to have any more livestock on the place.