Sunday, July 28, 2019

Passing on what he knows to another generation

When we first got married and moved to the country in the fall of 1967, Cliff knew very little about farming.  He'd grown up in Kansas City.  But he had farming fever BAD!  Daddy sold us an old Minneapolis Moline tractor with very little braking power, dirt-cheap.  Our first 20 acres was hilly, and a nephew of ours had a close call, riding with Cliff and Phil; in fact, Cliff pushed him off the tractor to save him, just in case things turned bad.  The kid was about five, and he still hasn't forgotten that push.  

Later Cliff got a Ford 8N with a brush hog, so he could mow the pasture.  

He started working at the Country Butcher Shop and sometimes picked the boss's brain for farming information, since he knew quite a bit about farming.  A co-worker, Gene Wyzard, may he rest in peace, was also a big help.  There was no Internet then, so you couldn't just look up "how to plant pasture grass" or "how to raise alfalfa for hay".  You had to find out from someone who knew about it.  The information Cliff got from those guys really helped him out,; but there were other things he learned from simply doing it wrong, trying something else, then trying yet another way, over and over until something finally worked.  

There wasn't a barn on our property, and I was milking a cow we bought from my parents.  Suzie had to be milked, rain or shine, twice a day.  I needed to get her inside for milking, but had no place to put her.  We also would need a place to store hay.  We were broke, but somehow came up with the money to buy the lumber and steel panels to build an open-face pole barn.  Gene Wyzard was on hand to show Cliff how to measure and build a simple building.  Every little victory was a big deal for us, and we couldn't have done it without friends helping.  Cliff's brother Phil caught the move-to-the-country bug after helping Cliff put up fence, mow weeds, and do other odd jobs that go better with two people.  He later bought a place in the river bottom only a couple of miles from where we live now, and his house floated away in a flood... but that's another story.

Since our oldest grandson bought this place, he's been good medicine for Cliff.  Finally he has somebody who wants and needs to learn some of the lessons he learned the hard way.  The grandson living next door has worked out very well, especially for Cliff, because truly, Arick and he are best friends.  When Arick is home, Cliff has a ready-made helper who does the heavy lifting and is about the best help he ever had.  And he gets to pour information into him, so he won't have to learn the hard way like Cliff did.  

Arick has been preparing the ground for a wildlife food plot, and today he planted the mixture of seeds with Cliff standing by giving advice, if needed.  I think it's two weeks too early for planting, but what do I know.  Arick bought an old seeder yesterday, since the one we used for years pretty much fell apart.  They had to work on it to get it to go on the tractor, but it didn't take long.

Cliff has trouble getting up and down, so that's another way Arick comes in handy.

Once they got it all set up, Farmer Arick went out to sow the seeds.  Cliff gave him some last-minute tips and sent him off.

We stood and watched for awhile.  I went on to the the house with Gabe, and Cliff came after awhile to eat dinner.  I looked out the window and saw Arick still out there, but on a different tractor, the Farmall H... his own tractor, the one he helped Cliff restore when he was eleven.  He was driving over the seeds with a harrow to give them a little covering.  I could hear the tractor running in the distance; Cliff, being hard of hearing, could not.  

At one point I told Cliff I didn't think the tractor was running.  I went to the back porch to check and saw the grandson had gotten off the tractor and was looking at the innards of the thing.  Before long, he came to the house and said it just stopped running, like it would if it were out of gas.  Cliff finished eating and we all went to see what the problem was.  I stayed at a distance awhile.

Within ten minutes they solved the problem; Cliff said dirt probably got in the carburetor.

On the way back to the house, Cliff pointed out what he thinks is Johnson grass.  Not good!

And then, rest for the weary.  This is a scene you'll see almost daily around here:  Grandfather and grandson, just being together.  Sometimes I walk out there and nobody is talking; Cliff will be listening to his old-time country songs on Sirius  radio and Arick will be surfing on his phone, or maybe playing a game.  Other times they are deep in conversation.  The other night I was in the swing in our front yard and heard just bits and pieces of conversation.  I couldn't make out any words, just voices floating up to me on the breeze from the shop, almost musical, punctuated by Arick's laughter every so often.  And I thought how blessed Cliff is to have someone to help him do the things he loves, someone to talk to about "guy things".  Some evenings when Arick gets home from work they'll sit out there like that for two or three hours.  

Best friends.  Isn't God good?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

I have a guest post

I was perusing Facebook when I noticed an interesting post by a former neighbor.  After seeing the whole story with pictures, I knew it would make for a great blog entry.  Her name is Mariah, and she grew up right next door to us.  She loves chickens the same way I've always loved cows, and keeps a few hens in her yard in Napoleon.  Before I go any further, I need to tell you she's twenty-two years old, and she has a two-year-old son.  I include this information because to look at her, you'd take her to be ten or twelve years old.  I imagine her petite body has something to do with the fact she has Cystic Fibrosis; she has probably used up all her calories trying to keep breathing.  You'd never know she has a problem, though, whether on Facebook or in real life.  She has a sweet and energetic spirit.  And now here's the story, in her own words and pictures.  By the way, Polish is a breed of chicken, for you city slickers:

"Last night I found my last Polish at the bottom of the coop, lifeless, dirty, and a little worse for wear. Almost as if something tried eating her, even though the coop was locked up tight.

I never thought I'd be giving a chicken a bubble bath in my kitchen at 9:30 at night, but hey, life happens. Anyways, I think I found the culprit."
"The things I do for these birds.  Also to add, Peanut (the hen) is doing great today! This guy is going to be driven across town and released."

At this point one of my granddaughters commented, "Thanks for saving the snake.  He was just trying his best to fulfill the circle of life."

Mariah answered, "He tried really hard to get away.  I had both hands on him, pulling him out of the coop, one foot braced against the wall.  Like a cartoon."

So she put the snake in a tote container...

...and gave him his freedom someplace else, saying, "Enjoy your new home, Dude.  Don't come back, though.  I like my chickens."

Mariah ended her story with a shoutout to her man, who she said did nothing to help.  He told her, "That's your thing, Babe."  However, her two-year-old son son brought her a bucket when she asked him to.

So they all lived happily ever after.  The end.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Strange things happen as I age

There are many things that happen as I age that I don't (or won't) talk about.  I'll just say that my mother didn't warn me about all the things that happen with age, so surprises happen from time to time.  You finally learn to expect things popping up.

However.  Arthritis is a strange and fickle thing; when I first began having knee pain, I felt it getting steadily worse.  I finally quit walking for some years because it made my knees hurt.  Then, as I've mentioned here, I found if I walked every other day and took my time, I was OK.  Well, this morning as I walked, it occurred to me I've walked for six days straight, and my knees hurt no worse than usual.  Of course they always hurt, but it's nothing I can't live with.  But the thing I don't understand is this:  Why does it hurt less than it did five years ago to walk?  I've done nothing that would make the arthritic knees better.  I hope I'm not jinxing myself here.  

This morning I took some pictures as Gabe and I were walking:
I took this picture right out the door, the sun just coming up over the trees to the east.

This was about halfway through our walk, with the sun up a little farther.  

Gabe is really doing well on the leash.  He seems to understand he can only go so far, so he hasn't been pulling at all.  

The red rectangle is where our trailer house sits.  See that spot of red toward the top of the picture is my cabin, which was long ago hauled up here and turned into a chicken house which turned into a junk-storage shed.  I walk down a hill to the west and back where the path is hidden by treetops, then to where the cabin was and back, then down almost to the east side of our property and back.  I also walk around the pond... just above that almost-square plot of pasture... down a small hill and back.  There are a couple of steep slopes that make my heartbeat pound in my ears, and a couple of times I paid attention and actually heard my arrhythmia in action; the beat would be steady as a clock ticking, then after ten or twelve beats, it would skip one.  

United Health sent a nurse to our house to do an in-home check on us a few years back, as most of the Medicare insurance companies do. Listening to my heart, she noticed the arrhythmia; she actually called the doctor insisting they fit me into their schedule the same day, so I got a little concerned.  However, they weren't concerned, so I'm not either.  Once in awhile I'll ask them if my heartbeat is still irregular, and it is.  I'm just thankful I don't have atrial fibrillation like my mom did.  

I had one of those nights when I woke up at one AM and couldn't go back to sleep, so I got up at two and read.  Gabe has switched his sleeping spot lately:  He prefers being under our bed instead of in the kennel.  He joined me in the living room after awhile and stared at me, wishing I'd go back to bed, but he finally joined me in the recliner.  I usually go to bed at 9, but Gabe goes to bed around 8:30, occasionally getting up and standing in the bedroom doorway staring at me as though he can will me to join him.

Back to my knees:  Three years ago we went to a swap meet in Minnesota, a HUGE swap meet.  By the time we had walked around there for an hour, my knees were shot.  I was in some real pain.  I found a bench, and for most of the day I just sat there watching people.  When we got home, I decided I wouldn't be able to walk around all the events we attend, so I figured I'd buy a mobility scooter.  Seriously, at that time I felt like I'd have to have one, or else stay home even more than I already did.  Keep in mind that I was babysitting a very energetic toddler then, too.  Some days after following her around, my knees were in bad shape.  I did use the scooter quite a bit in the yard playing with Cora, and we took it to a couple of tractor shows.  Now, it wasn't a heavy-duty scooter, and it wasn't made for gravel or wet grass or huge hills.  But it served the purpose, and it only cost a little over $600.  Anyhow, for the last couple of years, it's just been sitting around in the way.  When our son was here earlier this month, he mentioned that those little scooters bring $500 all the time on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.  "But I didn't pay much more than that for it, new," I said.  He said that didn't matter.  By the way, the same scooter is $100 higher on Amazon than when I bought mine.

First of all I put an ad on Craigslist.  For some reason, they rejected it... they don't give a reason, you just look and find out your ad wasn't posted.  So I put the same ad on Facebook Marketplace, where it posted, and got many inquiries in instant messages about it.  Yesterday it sold, so I have most of my money back.  We have learned that Marketplace surpasses Craigslist as a way to sell stuff.  The last tractor Cliff sold was listed on both, but most of the interested parties had seen it on Marketplace.  Apparently,  Craigslist is going the way of the dinosaur.  

Alrighty then!  It's about time for us to go shopping.  Sweet cherries are still on sale everywhere, and I'm still not sick of them.

Have a great day, won't you?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

I shall now blog about my dog (again)

We love our pets, don't we?  And especially as we get older, dogs seem to take the place of children in our lives.  I bought my Miniature Schnauzer knowing the little girl we babysat for five years would soon be leaving us,, realizing there would be a terrible hole in my life without her.  So I got a dog.  In some ways he's a poor substitute for the beautiful little girl who chattered constantly, making us smile.  On the other hand, I don't worry about scarring him for life with my pathetic attempts to train him... that's always a worry with children, at least in my case; not so much, with dogs.  I constantly wondered if I was doing my best with Cora, knowing my best was never all that great.  

With a pet, it's simpler.  Just feed them, be nice to them, even spoil them rotten if you want to.  Dogs never become juvenile delinquents, as long as they are loved; they might have behavior problems, but theirs are minor compared to behaviors human children display once they reach puberty.  Dogs don't become drug addicts or alcoholics, and you can get them fixed so they won't be spreading babies with different daddies around all over the place.  With human kids, that's always a possibility.  Especially if, like me, you're a less than stellar parent.

I may have a dog so spoiled that visitors can't stand him, but that's their problem.  

Meanwhile, my dog keeps me laughing almost as much as a child would, and he stays a child all his life.

Gabe seems to have a problem with my church attendance now that Cliff doesn't attend with me.  When Cliff went, I put the dog in the kennel for the brief time we were gone.  But now Cliff drops me off and quickly returns home, so I leave Gabe free in the house.  When Cliff comes home alone, Gabe drives him crazy running to both ends of the house looking for me; if he goes outside, he looks around a bit and comes right back to the door wanting in, continuing to behave as though he thinks I've been kidnapped.  

The second time Cliff came to pick me up at church, he let Gabe ride along, and he's been doing that ever since.  So now Gabe tries to force him to go outside to the car while I'm gone; Cliff lets him out thinking he needs to pee, but he runs straight to the car.  You see, I normally don't go anywhere without Cliff, since he drives and I don't.  I'm the chief caretaker for the dog; I'm the one who feeds him.  He constantly lays on my feet in the recliner, or beside me.  He's used to Cliff being outside somewhere while he and I are in the house.  But until recently, he's never known me to be gone without my husband.  This is a big concern to him.  

I can go for slow walks in the pasture at least three days a week without my knees hurting too badly; walk one day, skip one day.  It takes me 50 minutes to walk the distance I use to traverse in 35 minutes, but it's still exercise, and I enjoy being out there in nature.  So does Gabe, and I started out letting him run around unleashed as we walked.  However, I finally got tired of the stick-tights and thistles getting embedded in the hair on his face, legs, and belly and started using the leash.  Giving him the freedom to run led to so much pain for him when I combed out the stick-tights, it wasn't worth it.  He's taken pretty kindly to the retractable leash.  He pulls hard on it when we first take off, but unless he sees something interesting he'd like to chase, he settles down and doesn't fight it much. 

Actually, on our last walk the leash probably saved us both from an uncomfortable situation.  We were walking out behind the little pond in the pasture when I caught a whiff of skunk perfume.  That isn't unusual; there are many mornings I walk out into the yard and am greeted by the odor of Pepe Le Pew.  So we kept walking, when suddenly the smell became overpowering!  Obviously we had ventured too near this skunk for his comfort, so he used his defenses.  I actually think I heard the sound of his stomping his back feet on the ground as he sprayed... he was close, off in the brush to my left!  If Gabe had been off leash, I have little doubt I'd have had a very stinky dog on my hands.  As it was, I wondered if any of the smell had settled on us; it seemed like it took forever to walk our way out of the fumes.  

Once we got back around the pond and on to the next portion of our walk, we scared up a deer in the brush, and of course Gabe tried to chase him.  Lord only knows where he'd have ended up, running after a deer.  Yep, I think the leash is a good idea.  

I'll leave you with a picture of my little buddy.  He was relaxing at my feet in such an ungainly position, I squirmed out of my spot behind him to take a picture.  Honestly, I don't even know what kept him from falling off that footrest.

Anything for a laugh, right?  That's Gabe's motto.

Yours truly,
Gabe's best friend

Monday, July 22, 2019

Perhaps clothes DO make a difference

I've always hated dressing up.  Most of my life I've simply worn T-shirts and jeans in cool weather, or t-shirts or tank tops with shorts in summer.  It's been my uniform.  I wore nothing but dresses when I was a child, because that's what little girls wore, and school required it until the year after I graduated (just my luck), at which time girls started wearing jeans to school.  I went through some of my mid-life years wearing dresses to church (partly because someone gave me a bunch of them), but the truth is I was never comfortable wearing dresses as an adult; I guess I was making some concessions to popular opinion at that particular church at that time, trying to fit in (that never works).  In these later years, I've worn jeans exclusively; many women wear them.  Some even wear shorts.  

I didn't wear T-shirts to church though; I'd watch the Walmart bargain racks and get a cheap blouse occasionally that was perhaps one step better than a t-shirt.  One of my favorite quotes is "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."  (Henry David Thoreau)

I have a Kohl's credit card, and a year or two ago when one of their huge sales was going on I decided to actually buy a couple of decent tops.  I think at that time I was between churches, so I didn't buy them for church.  My thinking was that we are going to be going to funerals at this stage of our lives (maybe our own), and it wouldn't hurt me to look a little better.

Now get this:  People who have known me for years began telling me, "You look nice," or they'd compliment me on the top I was wearing, one of two I'd purchased at the time.  I still had no makeup (and likely never will), and had tennis shoes on, but suddenly I looked "nice".  So I got to the point where I'd put on a blouse or other nice top just to go to the grocery store.   

I decided I may as well have a larger selection of tops.  When Kohl's puts clothing on sale it's usually at a good price, and then if you have a charge card and get one of those thirty-percent discounts in addition, you can make a haul.  So each time they gave me a 30% discount I'd buy something.  I didn't spend a lot at a time, and as is our custom, of course, I paid each bill in full when it came due.  

So now if we happen to go to a concert... that happens twice a year at most, on average... I browse through my new tops and feel pretty good about myself.  I've spent my money wisely.  I know this because I'll be waiting in line at a rest room and some stranger will say, "I love your top!"

Really?  I must have better taste than I thought.  Just today, when we were at the license bureau, as I got out of the car a lady said, "Oh, I like your top!"  

It isn't a fancy one at all, and I found it peculiar, once again, that strangers walk around complimenting me on my choice of clothing.  I could sort of understand folks who've known me for a long time saying something complimentary, simply because it's a departure from what has been my normal garb; but strangers on the street?   It boggles the mind.  

Anyway.  I do have a nice variety of tops to wear; I just took a count:  Ten!  I have ten decent tops!  And usually the only place I wear them is to church or to Walmart, so they ought to last awhile.  

When I sat down here at the computer, it was to blog about my current adventures with Gabe-the-dog, but clothing came to mind, so that's what you get.  If nothing earth-shaking happens between now and tomorrow, I'll ramble about my dog in the next entry.


Friday, July 19, 2019

Garden victories, garden woes

I'll begin on a positive note:  We had BLT's yesterday with tomatoes from our own garden.  If bacon wasn't so bad for us, we'd have them again for the next three days.  The bad news on this score is that it won't last.  Every day I pull off more blighty leaves and branches.

As you can see in this picture, there are some big tomatoes that are almost ripe, and I have more ripening on a table outside.  However, every plant has evidence of blight.
See the brown, dried-up leaves?  Every day I pull off more of them.

So I'm not really expecting to have tomatoes for long, but I will enjoy them while they're available.  Next year, if I even have the inclination to try again, I may try using fungicide.  I used it long ago with some success, then later on I tried it without much success.  We'll see.

On the other hand, cucumbers are doing well, happily climbing the garden fence.  Just so you know, all that tall grass is not in our yard, it's part of the pasture.  For years I had problems with squash bugs killing all my viney plants.  Last year I never even saw a squash bug when I let the cucumbers climb; if that turns out to be the case this year, I might consider doing the same thing with a squash plant or two.  If I have to give up on tomatoes, I'll need to plant something else in their place (as if anything could take the place of a good garden tomato).

Wednesday Cliff got a call from the radiology doctor where he went for radiation, reminding him of his appointment yesterday:  We didn't even know he HAD an appointment!  On his last visit to the urologist, he was told he might get to stop taking the female hormone shots next time, and that wish of Cliff's came true!  So eventually he will lose the hot flashes and other side effects of the drug.  He always complains that the doctors just make him come in so they'll make more money, and that he's wasting his time.  Yesterday, for instance, he said, "That doctor could have told me everything on the phone.  All he did was ask how I was doing and answer a few questions."

I told him before he complains about doctors, he should remember they've saved his life at least twice.  I'm sure he was heading for a heart attack before his bypass surgery; and the doctor who operated on him after his gall bladder exploded told me after surgery, "He could have died!"

Since we were sort of in the vicinity, we stopped at Costco after the doctor visit.  Among other things, I wanted one of those big, Costo rotisserie chickens.  We got home around noon.  I baked a couple of potatoes in the microwave and heated up and seasoned a can of green beans to go with our chicken.  I always grab a leg and thigh; Cliff prefers breast meat.  Today I'll use two cups of the chicken to make our low-fat chicken jambalaya.  We'll get at least two more meals out of the chicken, possibly three more, after today.  

This morning I was praying for a situation;  actually, I was praying for a person (no blood kin) who caused the situation because, you know, we're supposed to pray for those we'd rather smack in the face.  But then I found myself doing such a ridiculous thing I couldn't believe it:  I was telling God how He should fix the whole situation!  I hope I'm not the only person who's ever done that.  I did apologize to Him, and even had a little laugh at myself because, really... who do I think I am?  

Honestly, I've learned that the main thing prayer changes is the person doing the praying.  When I have a conversation with God about things, it gives me a different perspective.  Let's face it, the only person I even have a remote chance of changing is myself, anyhow.  

I finished the great book I was reading yesterday and am now reading a delightful book by Robert Hillman, "The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted".  It's supposed to be a three-hour-and-12-minute read, so I'll likely have it done by this evening.  It reminds me of "A Man Called Ove", which Cliff and I both loved.  Speaking of Cliff, I finally got him to start a Chet and Bernie book, and after reading awhile, he said, "I think I'm gonna like this book."

OK, it's time to head to the kitchen and start the jambalaya.  

God bless all my readers.  You are the cream of the crop!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Cooking for a crowd

Years ago, I cooked lots of big meals.  We had some Thanksgiving dinners with twenty or thirty people here, and I did most of the cooking back then because I loved to do it.  I knew how much food I needed to cook, and I prepared ahead of time to have all the proper ingredients on hand.  I made light rolls from scratch and somehow managed to let them rise twice and get the timing right so they'd come out of the oven when the turkey (or roast) was done to a turn and the noodles were ready for the table.  

Not so, these days.  We don't have many meals for the masses these days, and that's a problem each summer when our son comes to visit.  Oh, we don't have huge numbers of folks when he's here, but it's more than I'm used to, and I'm cooking things I don't often cook for the two of us.  Things get a little "iffy" at mealtime... will there be enough for everybody?  Will I have all the needed ingredients?

This year, the grandson took vacation for the week his dad came, as did his wife.  Our son-in-law who lives a couple of miles away had knee replacements this year, had been back to work for a week afterward, and then took that week as vacation.  This crew doesn't make up a huge crowd, but when you mostly cook for two, it's still a challenge.  The first morning I made biscuits and gravy and managed to screw up the biscuits (I know, right?) and make an insufficient amount of gravy.  I redeemed myself on another morning, though, with a double batch of perfect biscuits and over a gallon of gravy.

I will say I did better this year on buying the ingredients I would need:  Ten pounds of flour, ten pounds of sugar, plenty of rice, a fresh bag of raisins.  Oh, and three dozen eggs.  The one thing I didn't consider was milk; up until two years ago, I milked a cow and never lacked for milk and cream.  But now our milk comes from the grocery store, and I forgot how much of it is consumed, both by cooking, and by people who love to drink milk.  So there were three separate runs for milk during the week.  Planning a meal is harder than it used to be!

Overall, it's a nice problem to have, because we get to see our son for a few days each year, and that's what it's all about.  It was nice making the "cookie of the day" each day, and rediscovering desserts I never bother to make for me and Cliff (brownie pudding, yes!  With ice cream on top while it's still warm).  Once, while digging around in the deep freeze, I found apple pie filling for one pie in the depths of the thing.  I had prepared apples by peeling and slicing them, mixing them in the sugar and cinnamon necessary, and putting them in a pie plate to freeze; then I took the frozen product out of the pie pan and placed it in a gallon baggie.  

All I had to do was make the crust, put the prepared-and-frozen filling in it, and bake it for a half-hour longer than I normally would.  It was delicious!  I hope I get myself off the computer and into the kitchen this fall when apples are ready at the orchard, because I wouldn't mind having enough saved, ready-made fillings for half-a-dozen pies.  

Awhile back I bought a device that was supposed to teach Gabe not to bark at people; a reader wanted to know more about it so she could try it on her dog.  There are several kinds, but if you want to see one similar to mine, click HERE.  Now let me give you the bad news:  After a month or so, Gabe figured out it didn't hurt his ears all that much and began barking again.  The thing still works, but it no longer works on him; push the button all you like, but there's no result any more.  I do think it helped him learn to mind me better and obey my commands, though.  When you read reviews on the thing, you'll see it doesn't work for all dogs.

Until next time,


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ah, the fruits of summer

It's the peak of the sweet cherry season, so the price per pound is great; I've eaten enough cherries to make me a little ill more than once.  Seedless grapes are reasonably priced too, and melons of all kinds.  I love most any fruit.  I still buy bananas every week, too.  Right now, while trying to make up for our excesses when our son was here, we're reaching for fruit as a snack.  Of course, I bought so many varieties of fruit last week I forgot about the seedless watermelon I bought and took to the refrigerator in the shop until today.  I was almost scared to cut it for fear it would be too far gone to be delicious, but it's as good a seedless watermelon as I'll ever find; none of them are as flavorful and sweet as the old Black Diamond watermelons with seeds aplenty.  

We've both been missing our little girl, the one we babysat for five years... Cliff especially.  So I made plans with her mom and we had her here yesterday for the day.  

 This picture is a little misleading; our new "couch" only seats two people, so she is sitting on a raised portion between the two of us and looks taller than she is.  She's still beautiful, isn't she?  We did pretty much anything she wanted to do for the day.  She always gets the Little People stuff out and gets one or both of us to play with her when she's here, and goes around looking for certain toys, I think to make sure we haven't gotten rid of any of "her stuff" yet.  We went down to the Lion's Club park in Wellington and watched her slide down the slide.  Cliff pushed the merry-go-round for her, but found out it was making him dizzy just watching.  He has a lot of problems with dizziness these days.

For awhile Cliff and Cora picked up Sweet-gum balls off the ground, and she dumped them down the slide to see how they'd roll down.  We took Gabe along, and after we'd been there awhile I let him off-leash.  He did great!  If he trotted too far in any direction I'd say "no, come!" and he'd obey.

Then we went to the Corps of Engineers Park, which we've always called "Cora's park".  She's always enjoyed throwing sticks and rocks into the Missouri River, and that's how she spent her time there yesterday.  

She was throwing big pieces of gravel; there weren't any big rocks around there.  I can actually see the gravel in mid-air here.  Cliff is self-conscious wearing shorts, and will want to kill me when he sees pictures of himself in work boots and shorts for all the world to see.  

Here she is getting ready to launch a stick into the Mighty Mo.  I kept Gabe on the leash at this little park because it's right off 224 highway.  

Anyhow, we enjoyed our day with her.  I'm sure when she's at home she's outgrown most of the toys she played with three years ago, but it seems to delight her to go down memory lane with us and play with the stuff she always had here.  That's fine with me.  

A couple of months ago Cliff had an eye bothering him.  I stayed home, he went to the doctor.  The nurse/practitioner looked at it and informed him there wasn't anything in it, suggesting it might be a "floater".  So he came home; he still feels something is wrong with that eye.  Anyway, after two months Cliff got a bill from the doctor's office saying we owed $200; the insurance wasn't paying it.  We tried to think of anything Cliff had done by our doctor that could have amounted to that much, but could only think of that simple visit, which couldn't possibly have cost that much.  Today I called to see what was going on:  Turns out they still have Cliff's insurance from last year in their computer.  His visit in May was the first visit of the year, and he hadn't updated our insurance card for 2019.  All we have to do is take his card to them so they can change it.  Whew!  I can't believe the actual bill for a visit to the doctor is $200.  

Alrighty, I'm going out to search for a cucumber in the garden.  I'll be back around in a day or two.  Oh, I'm done with Rory Feek's book and now reading "It's All Over But the Shouting".  I highly recommend it as one of the best books I've read in a long time.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

This and that

We have mostly hot weather now, but that is to be expected here.  Summer is a good time to read, once the temperature is in the 90's.  In other good news, I brought in three tomatoes to ripen on the table.  They are getting so nearly ripe, and I didn't want to chance leaving them till the last minute, only to see them killed or devoured by vile insects.  You can see there's already some damage to them.

I'm reading Rory Feek's book, "Once Upon a Farm".  It's an easy read and he's a decent writer, so I'm enjoying it.  In one chapter he mentioned a book his mother had told him years ago he ought to read:  "It's All Over But the Shoutin'".  I immediately laid Rory's book down, grabbed the iPad, and checked to see if my library had it.  Sure enough!  And it's been out long enough, there was no waiting, so I checked it out.  After reading a few chapters, enough for me to know it's going to be good, I finally put it down and went back to "Once Upon a Farm", because I get confused enough without reading two books at once.  I asked my Facebook friends if any of them had read "All Over But the Shoutin'" and found out several had, and they loved it.  So that's waiting in the wings.

In Rory's book, the first paragraph of one chapter caught my attention because it's something I could have written about myself.

Yes, I love Mondays.  And sunrises.  And a new year.  I've always loved new beginnings that promise a chance for a brand new start.  Although to be honest, I think my love of Mondays came about after both kids were in school.  Cliff went to work, they went to school, and I was alone for the day!  I could garden or read a book or really, anything I wanted to do... without interruptions.  The world was mine.  I still love my alone time, which is why I don't complain too much about waking up most mornings at three or four o'clock.  

Let me tell you about my cooking marathon during the week of Independence Day.  When our son comes in from Georgia there are certain things he really likes to eat, and I try to fix many of them while he's here.  It's all terribly fattening, starchy and sugary stuff that Cliff can't resist.  Rice and raisins (rice pudding to some folks), home-made biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls, and all manner of cookies.  Very few vegetables, because our son has never been a big fan of vegetables except potatoes.  It's one week out of the year, so what can it hurt?  

Then Jim leaves, and I have to get back to cooking lighter and moderating portions for our own good.  If I have any younger readers, let me tell you this:  Weight takes ten times longer to come off since we turned sixty as it did when we were in our 20's or 30's.  But, here we go again.

Remember how I said I was going to give up Words with Friends?  I'm still in the process, but remember, I promised myself that I would finish all the games I already had started.  Here's the thing:  Some people only make a move once or twice a day.  When I kept thirty or so games going all the time I didn't notice this fact, because the folks who make a lot of moves daily, like myself, sort of took my mind off the slowpokes.  Even though I have turned down everyone who has wanted to start a new game, I still have some games in the air.  Funny thing is, now that I have decided to take a break, it isn't even fun playing against the few competitors I have left (except for one lady who's really good at the game that I finally beat last week for the first time... I may keep her).  Human nature is a crazy thing; my nature is obviously crazier than most.

Yesterday we had a tractor drive with some of the folks in our club.  The tractors left Mayview at 9:30, took a break around 10:30 or 11, and arrived at noon in Napoleon, where we had a delicious meal that was prepared and served by the Lions' Club of Mayview.  There was pie for dessert, and not any old store-bought pies, either.  These were made from scratch by people who know how to make a pie.  After we ate, the plan was to drive back to Mayview, but since we were only two miles from home and had enough riding in the hot sun, we just went home.  Cliff's brother went on the drive too, and had some problems with his tractor; so he went to our house too.  Then he and Cliff loaded his tractor onto our trailer and we all went to take it home to Phil's place at Higginsville.  We took Gabe along, which of course made his day.

Cliff thinks from now on we'll skip the tractor drives and just do the parades.  He gets bored, going through the countryside at 8 miles per hour.    

When we were getting ready to leave with our tractor yesterday morning, I shut Gabe in his kennel; he always whines a little when we leave, but not for long.  This time, though, after watching Cliff load up the trailer I came back to the house to use the bathroom and heard Gabe howling like a wolf... a wolf with a soprano voice.  I guess we shouldn't have taken him bye-bye so much; now he thinks he's being abused if we leave without him.  I have to admit it made me feel sort of bad to leave him howling.

I believe I've rambled enough for one day, so I'll wish you all good cheer and will be back soon to regale you with more non-adventures.

Yours truly,

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rough patches in life

We usually glide smoothly along through life, Cliff, Gabe and me; the last few months, though, have presented us with a few sticky problems; nothing life-or-death, you understand.  We're doing fine financially and, for our ages, fairly healthy.  Things like the CarMax saga keep coming up.  It's just a matter of several plans seemingly going awry here and there in clusters.  I say "seemingly" because I have learned that oftentimes, events that seemed to be bad at the time turn out to be some of the best things that ever happened.  

Meanwhile, I look to my Creator.  

Back in the 1940's, my parents were having problems with my half-brother, Jack.  He'd been raised by my dad's aunt and uncle after his first wife died giving birth to the baby.  When my parents got married a few years later, they tried to take custody of him, but the Aunt would not let him go; my folks would go get him when he was a little older, but Aunt Sadie would come and haul him back home with her.  She had raised him from birth so my dad could work:  Daddy's mother had also died in childbirth, so he lived with his dad, his brothers, and one sister, Gladys... I think she was about 14 when Daddy brought his daughter, my sister Maxine, into the house.  As I recall the story, I believe Aunt Gladys quit school to raise the baby girl that apparently Aunt Sadie didn't want.  But Sadie claimed Jack as her own until he was 12 and started to get in trouble; then she couldn't handle him and turned him over to my parents.  

Yesterday Cliff said, "Kids these days don't know what "poor" is."  "No," I answered.  "and our generation really has no clue about it either, compared to what our parents went through."

Imagine one little girl, aged 14, not only being the cook and housekeeper of a farmhouse, but taking on an unwanted (by Daddy's aunt and uncle) two-year old, doing all that in extreme poverty.  When Daddy and Mother married, they brought Maxine home to live with them.  She has been a blessing to everyone she's met, and still blesses the world with her grace.  But I've digressed.

So my parents were having problems with a very rebellious teenaged boy; Mother poured her heart out in a letter to her mom, my Grandma Stevens.  Grandma wrote Mother in answer, and I have that letter.  My grandmother had been widowed in 1938 and lived alone after her youngest son, Leo, married and moved a short distance down the road with his wife.  Grandma never drove a car, so Uncle Leo and his wife took her anywhere she needed to go; when their children were big enough, they helped Grandma Stevens out in many ways around her yard and house.  

I'm going to type the whole letter here; it speaks volumes to my spirit.  I have no doubt she cried as she wrote the letter, and I know for certain my mom would have cried as she read it.  I'm leaving all spelling and lack of punctuation exactly as she wrote it, except for adding periods to make it easier to read.

Dear Lola and all.  
Well Lola I will try to rite you a few lines.  I surely do sympathize with you all.  It sure was bad.  I sure hate it so bad.  It just made me sick Lola when I read your letter.  I sure feel so sorry for you all.  Now don't take all the blame on yourselves.  You were doing your best for Jack but he is just at that age he don't know what he wants to do.  I hope he soon straightens up and trys to be a man and do what is right and I pray for him and you all that he will straighten up.  Lloyds (this refers to my mom's sister and her husband) and Leo (mother's youngest brother) were here today and read your letter.  We were all sick about it.  Couldn't hardly eat at all.  So you have all our sympathy and whatever you do don't go back on your dear Lord.  he is your very best friend and will  help you if you just pray and do your duty to your lord.  I prayed for the last 4 years my son Paul would be spared to come home and see me and live with his wife & I feel my prayers were answered. (Uncle Paul fought in Germany in World War II) so I have faith he will hear your prayers if you just won't forsake him.  I feel he has been with me the last 7 years to give me strength to go on here.  It's been hard & I have tried not to complain.  Been times I would give anything just to go somewhere & see some of you children.  I want to come up so bad & I think now since Lloyds have tires they might go and take me.  Leo would in a minute if his car was fit but it isn't & he wants to pay you folks some.  Hope all are well.  Sure hope you feel better by now.  Am so glad Donna is well.  Hope she stays that way.  We had it real cold a few days.  Had some snow.  Wish I were there with you tonite.  Maybe I could comfort you some.  Lola we all think of dear old dad when we are in trouble but our heavenly father is the one to look to.  I hope and pray you will all be better and every thing will be alright so just keep praying and hoping for the best.  Lots of love to you from your mom with deepest sympathy.

As I read this letter, I feel I can handle anything.  I'm so glad Mother kept this and left it behind for me.

Enjoy this day, won't you?  We never know which day will be our last on this earth.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Our experience with CarMax

Sit back, folks.  I have a story for you.

Let me preface this story by telling you that many of our friends and relatives are fans of CarMax.  That's why we decided to look at cars there after hitting a few other places first to find out exactly what sort of car we wanted.  We were looking for something with good gas mileage, and something Cliff, with his arthritic bones, could drive for long distances without discomfort.  Also, thanks to Cliff's preference, it needed to be white.  I know, right?  Also, we didn't want a car payment, so we had a price range in mind.  

The first car the pleasant salesman showed us something that was priced right, and Cliff thought it would probably do.  When we got out of the car, there was another car right beside us that was a 2018 and had very few miles on the odometer.  Unlike the first one we tried, this 2018 Nissan Sentra was white and in like-new condition.  It cost more than we had intended to pay, but after test-driving it, we both really liked it.  It even smelled brand new!  The ride was smooth as silk.  

"Well," I said, "if the payment were small enough, I'm sure we could handle it."

We went inside with the salesman.  I asked him what kind of interest their loans charged.  He said if we had good credit, we could get 3.99%; nobody has cheaper interest than that, he said.

We do have great credit, but our credit union often has better interest rates than most other sources.  We told him we wanted to go there and see what they could do.  After doing a credit check, the loan lady said because the car was so new, we could get 2.99% interest.  We took a check to CarMax and were told we could pick up our car the next day.  We also took care of details like property tax, which CarMax does for their customers, and the paperwork we'd need to insure the vehicle.  

Then we signed some papers, and agreed to return the next day to pick up our almost new car,  We went back to the booth where our salesman did business and were chatting with him while we waited for them to tell us our car was ready when someone on the intercom called his name.  He disappeared through a door and was gone awhile.  When he came back, he said as they were washing the car and getting it ready for us, the transmission totally stopped working.  However, they would take it to Nissan and get it fixed.  At this point, we weren't only disappointed, we were also a little wary of these people.  Were they feeding us some kind of line?

I asked the salesman how long a wait we'd have; he thought probably two weeks.  On the way home we went to our insurance man and set up the insurance on the car.

Two weeks passed and we heard nothing, so after another three days, we called CarMax.  Guess what?  There was more wrong with the car than the transmission:  There was a bent frame, something wrong with some "pan" (what do I know about cars?), and I don't know what all else.  They would either let us find another car, or give us back all our expenses so it would be as though we had never bought the car.  

Easy for them to say, but we had to see the insurance folks in hopes they could fix the mess we'd created.  Thankfully, even after two weeks, they were able to get the car off our insurance.  So another waiting period began, and two weeks later we'd heard nothing.  Had they paid off the loan?  Had they taken care of the three-year warranty we'd paid for?  

Thursday I got a call from a lady at CarMax:  She asked if we'd received a lien release.  "I haven't received anything at all," I told her.  "We didn't even bring that car home."

Apparently communication isn't one of CarMax's strong suits.  They don't even tell their employees what's going on!

Today, finally, we are at peace with this whole mess.  Nobody called me to let me know what was happening with the money we'd left with them, so I called and talked to the manager.  He assured me they had the lien release and had returned the money for our three-year warranty onto the credit card we had used to pay them.  By the way, our son said the car should have still had a factory warranty as new as it was, so we shouldn't have had to get any other warranty.   

All's well that ends well.  But these people have no communication skills at all!  As I said, we know lots of people, our son included, who love Carmax.  We don't.

And honestly, after a month of waiting for a paid-for car that didn't materialize, at this point I'm ready to keep traveling in our old Mercury, which is almost old enough to be considered a classic.  Who needs a new car?  

OK, we'll probably look around for a car at some point, but when we find one we like, the deal had better go smoothly.

Just color me thankful, because this story could have ended in worse ways.  

Monday, July 08, 2019

I've made a deal with myself

Strange way to begin a blog post after ignoring my blog for days, right?  

The title has to do with an addiction.  I'm sure that sends my readers trying to figure out what my problem is, so I'll put your mind at ease.

I've pretty well conquered any addictions you might be thinking of, but this one would seem rather harmless:  It's a game called Words With Friends 2.

I love the game!  I'm not even that great at it, but once I got hooked, I couldn't stop.  I consistently played as many games at once as they allowed me.  Oh, the glorious feeling when I beat someone who was more skilled!  Oh, the grief, when I lost to someone who usually never wins.

I've had many Internet addictions:  The chat rooms, Facebook, reading other folks' blogs, Farmville... I could go on, but you get the idea. 

So I'm going to stay off WWF for at least a week.  When I go back, any day I don't post a blog entry will be a day I won't allow myself to play my favorite game.  Yes, friends and neighbors, I'm putting myself in time-out.  Either I straighten up, or I'm doomed to life without my favorite game.  You've missed out on so much lately, thanks to my lack of motivation when it comes to blogging.  Just this past week, our son, his daughter, and her baby have been here from Georgia.

Cliff and six-month-old Maelynn
Also, our oldest granddaughter took her mother to Cancun and left her sweet little dog with us.  Gabe loved having a little friend, even though Rory stole his bed all the time.

Gabe with his Shi-tzu girl friend Rory
I turned 75 years of age (no picture for that, but I look the same as the last picture I've shared with you, whenever that was).

And yesterday, for my birthday, the pump on our well quit.  It wasn't too much of an ordeal, though.  Cliff and Arick got a new pump at Menard's, and within four hours we had running water in the house once again.

How could they help but have good fortune with Gabe as a supervisor
So.  I still have a few WWF2 games to finish, because I didn't want to leave my opponents hanging.  I'm turning down new requests for new games, although it's hard, because I've played with many of these people for weeks or months.  But it's only a game!  It isn't real life.  

I should be checking in more frequently now with my random stories.  I'll leave you with these words of wisdom and hope to have something for you tomorrow.  

Thanks you for putting up with my stuff.