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!

Monday, August 26, 2019

And ANOTHER fun weekend!

We began planning this particular road trip on January 14th; that's when I reserved a motel room and a golf cart for a huge tractor show in August, The Half-Century of Progress, at Rantoul, Illinois.  The $100 per day for a golf cart is some of the best money we've every spent.  The show is held on the grounds of an airport, "Rantoul National Aviation Center", formerly known as Chanute Air Force Base; we saw very few people actually walking through the exhibits; even young folks all had some sort of motorized thing to get them around the place.  Lots of folks brought their own golf carts, garden tractors, or anything else that would propel them around the huge grounds.  They do have to keep their speed below five miles per hour, whatever they use.  It's an orderly crowd, and a friendly one.  You can strike up a conversation with almost anyone you see and it's like they are old friends.  

This shows people riding various vehicles they brought from home to ride, heading to the entry of the show.  
I did get accused of having a southern accent at one point.  This happens frequently, although I've always lived in the midwest.  Here's what caused with my "accent":  When I graduated high school, I spoke the King's English.  Never would an "ain't" be heard coming from my educated lips; why, back then I was embarrassed by my dad's use of the word "ain't" and the overalls he wore.  That all changed when rock and roll evolved from Elvis into the Beatles, a group I didn't like or understand at the time (I like some of their stuff now).  Anyway, at the time, I worked with a woman who talked a lot about her country music, especially George Jones.  I asked her where I could find the station she listened to on my radio dial and became a country music fan overnight, even buying myself a cheap guitar so I could sing Honky-tonk Angel.  Those country singers all had accents that came through, even in their songs, and I guess I admired that, because I began talking like Loretta Lynn without even realizing it.  I've been stuck with the fake southern accent so long, it's natural to me now.  

The motel we booked was pretty crummy, but it was cheap; and while the hallways smelled of musty cigarette smoke, our room was very clean.  It was a Motel 6, so no breakfast was served; I solved that by taking the electric skillet:  We had bread and gravy the first morning and then pancakes for supper.  The second morning we each had an egg sandwich.  I'd also taken along some cantaloupe and grapes, so we had fruit whenever we wanted it.  

It was a long, six-hour drive from Kansas City to middle Illinois, but we weren't delayed by road work anywhere and made good time.  I picked an audio-book at random from the public library, Sue Grafton's "'P' is for Peril", written in 1986.  The first half of it was pretty slow, with very little action.  Still, it made the miles go by faster.  Coming home, the story got more interesting; unfortunately, we didn't finish it before we got home.  Maybe we'll listen to the rest during our after-dinner siesta time.  We need to know how our heroine stymies the bad guys!

One of the best things about the weekend was the weather!  It could have been raining, or it could have been 100 degrees; however, we had highs in the 80's, with downright chilly mornings.  You don't often see that in August.  It was perfect weather.  

Like much of the country, Illinois farmers have had far more rain than they'd like.  At one point we chatted with a man who goes to the farms checking the crop damage so they can receive the money that's theirs from crop insurance.  He's seen some claims that yielded checks over half a million dollars, he said.

I'll be back with more tomorrow.  This is just a start.  I will leave you with a couple of pictures, one before and one after restoration.  Yes, it really is the same tractor in both shots.

Lousy picture, I know.  But you get the idea.

This tractor was professionally restored.  The finish on it is like you'd expect to see on a car; these old tractors weren't that shiny when they were brand new.  The cost of having these people restore a tractor is far, far beyond anything we could afford, though.  It's a good thing Cliff can paint his own.

Time to get Cliff out of bed.  I'll be back tomorrow with more stories of our wild weekend (ha!).

Monday, August 19, 2019

It's been a fun weekend

Saturday we had a parade in Lexington with our club.  Cliff has made three different carriers for me to sit in behind the tractors.  Now we only have two, because he sold one with the little Farmall Super C; actually, that one wasn't so much a carrier as a simple seat for me to ride on.  No matter how I'm being transported behind any tractor, Cliff and I are amazed at how people laugh and give us thumbs-up when they see us.  They think it's the funniest thing ever seeing a woman ride behind a tractor like that.  So this is us Saturday toward the end of the parade.

There were a lot of tractors in the parade.

Now, Sunday Cliff took me to the Truman Lake Opry to see Bill Anderson.  My poor husband was pretty indifferent about it, since he never cared for the man's singing.  I didn't either either, but after finding out what a prolific songwriter he is, and watching him in discussions with the other country singers on Country's Family Reunion, I've learned to love him.  

As it turns out, it was a great show, and I was glad to see Cliff applauding enthusiastically for the music, and laughing at the jokes.  Old Whisperin' Bill is a really good showman.  I took my copy of his book to get it autographed, but I sure had to stand in line for awhile to get it done.  That's me down there, turned around talking to some of my fellow fans of the 81-year-old man we came to see.
You don't see many young folks here

So I got my book autographed and got my picture taken.  Cliff blurred the picture of the signing, but at least this one turned out fine. 
Don't you suppose he gets tired of wearing a big fake smile for about 100 lady fans who just want to get a picture with him before he dies of old age.  I asked him about that, and he replied, "Somebody's gotta do it."  

Cliff agreed with me that the hairpiece Bill was wearing yesterday was the best one he's ever had.  We watch Country's Family Reunion shows that cover a twenty-one year period, and some of his hairpieces weren't all that flattering.  Seriously, this is the best ever.  

Bill told some good jokes, some we'd never heard before.  He also told a few life stories.  Here's one I enjoyed:  Bill said he met up with Jamie Johnson and Buddy Cannon back in 2006 with the idea of collaborating on a new song.  As they began, Bill said, "I really didn't bring any ideas today."  Buddy Cannon said, "I don't have anything either."  Jamie Johnson said, "Well... I'm in the middle of a divorce."

Bill said, "What country songwriter couldn't make a song out of a divorce?"  And they began writing the song "Give it Away".  (What you see next are paraphrased, since I wasn't recording or taking notes on what Mr. Anderson was saying.)

At one point, Bill said to Jamey, "I don't think you want the word "flung" written into a song."

Jamey answered, "But that's what she did!  She flung the ring at me!"  So the words remained in the song that was a giant hit for George Strait.  

When that front door swung wide open
She flung her diamond ring
Said, give it away
Just give it away

So, in 2007 when the song became song of the year of 2006, George, Bill, and Jamie rose and went to the stage.  Bill did the usual brief thank-you speech thanking everyone involved in his career.  George Strait, the same yada yada yada.  Jamey stepped up to the mike and said, "I want to thank my ex-wife for divorcing me..."

Before I stop, I want to let you know that not every song Bill Anderson wrote was so great.  For instance, "Peel Me a Nanner, Toss Me a Peanut"; or "Walk Out Backwards so I'll Think You're walkin' In."

Yes, it was a fun concert and a good weekend.  Oh, and here's the autograph in my book; If I hadn't seen him sign it, I wouldn't even believe it says Bill Anderson... because it doesn't!  It's the real deal, though:  I looked up other autographs he's done over the years, and this is pretty much it.     

Monday, August 12, 2019

It'll be hot today

They are forecasting 95° for today's high.  Notice how I used the symbol for degrees, rather than typing out the word?  I use that shortcut so seldom, I never remember how to do it, but today I googled it.  Will I remember tomorrow how I did it?  Probably not.  On a Mac, I simply do control-option-8 and there's the magic little circle.  Simple enough, but my head is already filled with things I barely recall.  Why add another?  

We didn't go to the reunion yesterday.  The more we discussed going 400 miles round trip to spend a couple hours with people, half of whom we don't know, just didn't seem worth it.  Next Saturday is the Lexington Fair parade, in which we plan to participate with members of our tractor club.  Sunday we'll see Bill Anderson at the Truman Lake Opry.  I never cared much for "Whisperin' Bill" as a singer, but after watching Country's Family Reunion for a few years, I've seen how many songs he's written in his life, and I always admire great songwriters.  For a list of his songs that have made the country charts, click HERE.   But he wrote countless others, too.  If he takes time to meet his fans, as so many of the artists do at Truman, I'll have him sign the book he wrote.  

The next weekend we'll be going to Rantoul, Illinois, to a big tractor show.

We're planning a trip to Colorado with the grandson and his wife before long, too.  Here's hoping we find some things they'll enjoy with us.  I hope we don't run out of funds before we get all these things accomplished!

I've decided to try and teach Gabe to bark on command.  Today I managed to get a "speak" out of him twice after about 20 minutes of trying, but I doubt it's sunk into his brain yet; I gave him a treat each time he managed to bark after I said "speak".  It shouldn't be hard for him, because he's an expert at barking wildly at the window when he sees someone he knows!  People did warn me that Schnauzers are "barky", and Gabe is no exception to that rule.  

Speaking of Gabe:  We were taking a walk a couple mornings ago, just as the sun was coming up.  As usual, he was on the leash.  I wasn't paying attention to him, though.  I was lost in my thoughts until I realized he was pulling way harder on the leash than he usually does.  I looked up to see him almost nose-to-nose with a skunk!  I'd give a pretty penny to have gotten a picture of them, but I was more worried about putting some distance between us and Mr. Stinky.  I knew we had a little time, since the skunk had his face toward us instead of his butt.  In fact, through all of this, I never got even a hint of skunk smell, which is really unusual.  The skunk watched our retreat, then turned and walked away, taking his sweet time.  This morning I didn't go for a walk, but when I let Gabe out the door I saw him running toward the front of the garage in the dark and realized there was something there.  I had the flashlight in my hand, and approached the lump in the dark on the concrete; it was a possum, and Gabe was right there sniffing at him.  I'm not sure what it takes to make an opossum bite (they usually just act dead instead of fighting), so I got Gabe to pee and then herded him inside.  Oh, the joys of living in the country.  

I tried something new yesterday.  I think I've mentioned I've been taking turns between the Baptist Church and the Methodist Church in town on alternate Sundays.  Well, because the Methodist Church shares a minister with a larger congregation in Odessa, nine miles away, they have church here at 9 AM, and do Sunday School afterward.  The preacher leaves before Sunday School so he can get to Odessa by 10:30.  At the Baptist Church, Sunday School is at 9:30 and church is 10:30.  I decided to see how it would work going to both places every Sunday.  Cliff would drop me at the Methodist Church, I'd walk four or five blocks to the Baptist Church afterward, and Cliff would pick me up there.  

You're probably thinking, "Wow, two churches in one day!  You must really be religious!"

Not especially... "religious" is sort of a negative-sounding word anyhow; But I do need Jesus in my life, and I like to go to Church; I often think of myself as God's special needs child.  I like to sing the hymns with people.  I know I'm always saying I hate small talk, but somehow at church I don't mind it in those brief minutes before and after church.  Now I need to start learning the names of a few people.  I hardly know anybody in our town, and I've lived here since 1975.

I'm thinking about our mid-day meal now.  We had some eggs that needed to be used, so I cooked hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot.  They're so easy to peel when cooked in a pressure cooker.  So I made deviled eggs yesterday.  I sent some home with the oldest granddaughter, and Cliff and I will have deviled eggs for our protein at dinner.  I'll slice some tomatoes and maybe make glazed carrots and green beans, and that ought to be plenty.  Oh yeah, as I was pulling blight-killed leaves off a tomato plant, a whole branch with immature tomatoes came off in my hand, so I guess I'll used the tomatoes off that branch and have a few fried green tomatoes.  I love them, but it sure is a messy business making them, dipping them first in milk, then flour, then eggs, then crumbs.  All those bowls, and the counter gets messy.  But then, what else am I doing?  

Have a great day, faithful readers!  There aren't as many of you as when I posted the link to every entry on Facebook, but I'm after quality, not quantity.  


Friday, August 09, 2019

Just living my life

There are not many notable happenings around here, but here's a milestone:  Gabe has finally figured out that if he barks at the door, someone will let him in the house a lot faster than if he just sits there.  Now I'm wishing he'd learn that barking to go OUT would work, as well.  So the first time Gabe wanted out after Cliff went to the shop this morning, he went into a sit position right at the crack of the door, which has always been his way of saying "I want out".  Today I noticed him quietly sitting in position to be let out, so I thought I'd show him a better way.  "Watch this," I said to him.  And I gave a sharp "bark" and opened the inside door, then closed it.  "See?  When I bark, the door is opened.  Now, you try it."

He wagged his stubby tail and stood up; he just didn't get it.  He was probably thinking, "Do you call that barking?"  Maybe sometime in the future he'll figure it out.

We went to the state fair as planned yesterday, but my knees weren't in the mood to let me walk as much as I did last week in Omaha.  So we didn't do much except eat the bargain-priced food we really shouldn't have been eating:  We had corn dogs (2 for $4), a large slice of pizza that was surprisingly good (2 for $4, I think), Dippin' Dots, $2 each, and some ice cream for $2 off the regular price.  There's not much to do at the fair, compared to the old days; as farmers dwindle, so does the fair.  Oh, we did stop by the tent where the Budweiser Clydesdales were put up:  Each one was 18 to 18.2 hands tall, browsing at perfect, green alfalfa hay as though they weren't really all that hungry.  We were heading from there toward the exit when a lovely young lady driving a golf cart slowed down as she approached us and asked, "Do you need a ride?  May I take you someplace?"

"You betcha, young lady!"  I told her I didn't see any wings on her, but that she looked like an angel.  She said, "I'm in disguise today, that's why you can't see my wings."  Great comeback.  She told us there were three other people driving around in golf carts, and that we should flag any of them down if we needed a ride.  

It really was a good day for walking around the fairgrounds, for those who could comfortably walk.  The temperatures didn't get out of the 80's, and for the first couple hours the sky was cloudy, keeping it nice and cool.

On the way home Cliff needed to get something at his brother's south of Higginsville, but said he figured I wanted to get home to my dog.  I told him Gabe would be fine, and Phil's house was on our way anyhow.  I went in the house to visit with Faye while the guys brutalized an old, out-of-service mower to retrieve a tail-wheel Cliff was going to add to his own mower.  

This is what he and Phil removed from the the mower

The wheel they took from the old mower will go in the middle, between these two wheels.  Cliff will have some fabricating to do, since Phil's wheel isn't at all the same as these.  He hopes adding a wheel will make for smoother mowing on uneven ground.

Here you can see the new skid-plate Cliff actually bought from the John Deere dealer.  The mower had been used improperly, tipped forward, Cliff says.  Anyhow, when Cliff brought it home from the auction and tried it out, it was tearing up (scalping) pieces of sod as it mowed.  He hopes to get that all fixed, but I don't think he's certain how he'll do it yet.  Odd jobs like this require a lot of moseying around the object to be fixed, and sometimes Cliff even resorts to pulling up a chair, sitting down, and staring at whatever he's working on for an hour or so as country music plays behind him... then somehow he'll figure things out and get the job done.  

That's his story, and he's sticking to it.  I just thought he was tired and wanted to sit down, but apparently it's simply part of the process.

What should I run into in Phil's house but a brand-new, two-week-old great-grandbaby!  They have several great-grandkids of various sizes, but I had the good fortune to get hold of an infant!  Her 18-month-old sister was there too, but she was far too independent to waste time on some old lady she didn't know.  I often forget how good it feels just to sit in a rocking chair holding a sleeping infant.  That baby's head fit perfectly on my arm, and she was snoozing in my lap for perhaps twenty minutes; it was better therapy than an hour on the beach, so very relaxing.  

I guess this entry just reminds me that you can have a good time at the fair even if you're only there for a couple of hours and run into an angel.  You can go into a two-story country house expecting to visit with a sister-in-law and ended up holding a tiny baby, singing to her and enjoying every minute of it.  

I do believe I had a great day yesterday.  Don't you?


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Leftovers. Dangerous?

My mother took a casual approach to leftovers.  She never disposed of food lightly, and if nobody else was interested in the leftovers she placed in the refrigerator, she'd eat them herself a little at a time.  Because we were seldom sick with belly-aches in spite of her frugal ways, I'm probably not as cautious about tossing food out as I ought to be.  But I've survived so far.  I remember some time ago a facebook friend... I don't recall who it was... mentioned she had accidentally left something out on the counter overnight, something she had just cooked that evening.  She threw it in the garbage!  I said nothing, but I knew I would have at least served it the next day.  There aren't flies in most homes these days to lay their eggs in food left out where maggots can hatch and grow into more flies.  

Friday I made taco soup.  Arick is usually off on Fridays, and he joined us for dinner.  I accidentally left it on the counter Friday night, but put it in the refrigerator Saturday morning when I got up at 4 AM.  Saturday after we were done riding in a parade with our tractor club, I heated it up for Cliff's lunch/dinner/whatever-you-call-it.  

I would have had some myself, but I had gone to the fair thinking I'd get a corn dog before coming home.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a convenient way of getting to the stand selling corn dogs because when the parade was over, we had a tractor on a trailer behind us; you just can't go any old place pulling a big trailer.  So there I was with an intense craving for corn dogs, but nothing I could do to satisfy it.  Now, don't leave comments telling me to get one at Sonic:  Theirs aren't greasy enough to be in the same class with corn dogs you buy at fairs, where you get the faint smell of cow dung as you are eating.  On the way home it occurred to me I had hot dogs in the freezer, and I have a Fry Daddy deep fryer.  I could make my own, as I used to do often when our kids were at home.  

Unfortunately, when I got the Fry Daddy out of the cupboard, the electric cord wasn't with it.  So I ended up eating two plain, ordinary, boiled hot dogs on bread, with a slice of cheese wrapped around each one.  Tasty, yes (I like hot dogs).  But in no way did they taste like a corn dog.  So I ordered a new cord for my Fry Daddy, hoping the craving would hang around until the cord arrived.  I'm still waiting, by the way.

I had hot dogs, Cliff had more taco soup because he doesn't share my enthusiasm for hot dogs.  That was Saturday.  Sunday was the Allen reunion.  That's my dad's family reunion.  We hadn't been to the store in over a week.  I was out of sugar, so there was no way to make a dessert.  I always have ground beef, and keep cans of various types of beans all the time.  So I settled on Old Settler's Beans.  Then I noticed I had quite a few potatoes and made potato salad.  

There was so much food at the reunion!  Three of us had taken potato salad, so I knew we'd be bringing some of ours home.  We also had a good portion of Old Settler's beans left.  Someone had brought an extension cord with three or four plug-in spots for the slow-cookers, but for some reason mine wouldn't work.  Someone commented, "That's how they are.  One day they're working, then you leave home and they've quit working."  I was pretty sure my almost-new slow cooker had not stopped working, but sometimes I know when to keep my mouth shut, and besides, Old Settler's Beans don't have to be piping hot.  However, when I got home I plugged the crock pot in and it worked just fine.  Now I'm wondering if anybody's slow cookers were working after they were plugged in.  It's a mystery, for sure.   

Yesterday, Monday, I asked Cliff if he had any problem with eating tater salad and Old Settler's beans for dinner.  Of course he did not, since he loves those foods.  I did the arithmetic in my mind and decided it wouldn't kill us, even if both the items sat around for a couple of hours on a picnic table Sunday on an 85 degree day.  I think those leftovers were even better than the first day.  

Today I told Cliff it was more of the same if he could handle it, or he had the choice of taco soup left over from Friday.  That's what he chose, leaving perhaps one cup of soup in the pan.  I had more of our reunion food, and there was perhaps 3/4 cup of potato salad and a handful of the beans when I got done.  When we were done eating, I told Cliff, "OK, we've hung on to all this stuff long enough.  I'm going to throw this little dab of food in the garbage disposer."  

You'd have thought I shot him the way he hollered out "Oh no, don't do that!"

I knew I'd get that reaction, and the only reason I told him in the first place was that next time he was looking in the refrigerator, he'd be bound to ask where the potato salad and the beans had gone; I hate to see him disappointed.  It took me ten minutes to explain that you just can't keep food around forever and keep heating it up and eating it.  He may not have been satisfied with my explanation, but I have my limits on how long to keep leftovers, and this stuff has gone the distance.

I have another reunion this coming Sunday, my mom's family.  I've been skipping this one for several years, but Cliff thinks we should put in an appearance.  So unless something comes up, I suppose we'll go.  It's farther away, a two-hour drive.  I really do HATE leaving Gabe in his kennel for six hours, but I know he'll be fine.  

P.S.  The Missouri State Fair opens day after tomorrow, the 8th.  Various foods and beverages are selling at a cut price on opening day:  One stand may have ice cream cones at a bargain price, another will have cheap soft drinks, and yet another one will have corn dogs.  I've been trying to talk Cliff into taking me to watch the Kansas City Chiefs practice in St. Joseph, which he says he will NOT do.  But I've never had trouble getting him to take me to opening day at the state fair.  Maybe I'll get my corn dog then.  

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Books can be magical

I've mentioned before how much I liked the book "All Over But the Shoutin'" by Rick Bragg.  I read a lot of books; Sometimes I choose a book because it's popular, or I'll pick books by certain authors whose writing I enjoy.  John Sandford comes to mind.  I look at reviews, and at the New York Times best seller's list, although many of those are romances; I don't like romances unless the love story is part of a larger story, because they tend to start out with two people hating one another (or barely tolerating each other) and by the end (surprise surprise) they're madly in love.  Besides, some romances get a little mushy and sillly for my tastes.  

If a friend recommends a book, and I know I've enjoyed some of her recommendations before, I'll read that.  I do pay attention to genre, because there are some great books out there that I wouldn't necessarily like, even if my friends do.  

As I was reading through Rick Bragg's childhood, I noticed a lot of his growing-up experiences were very similar to my husband's childhood.  Once I finished the book, I started "suggesting" to Cliff that he would really like the book.  OK, I suggested it a lot, to the point it almost became nagging.  I just knew he'd relate to the story, and I couldn't see him going on with life without first reading that book!  

He knows how to tune me out.  After all, it's summertime and there's plenty to do without reading books.  

When we had decided (OK, I decided) we'd go to Omaha, I wanted to find an audiobook in the library's collection that would keep us interested during the three hours plus it takes to get to Omaha, and the same amount of time returning.  I didn't have anything specific in mind.  Then I happened to notice there was an audiobook version of the book I was (and still am) reading, also by Rick Bragg:  "The Best Cook in the World".

It's another good one, with more stories about the author's childhood and a lot of his family background.  "If Cliff could hear a little of this book and find out how good it is, I'll bet I could get him to read the other one," I thought.  That was my plan, then.

We don't have a bluetooth speaker in our old 2003 Mercury, but I have a cheap little thing I bought on Amazon for the books we listen to in the car that booms out the sound just fine.  The iPad isn't loud enough by itself for Cliff to make out the sound, but when I connect it to that little speaker, it transforms the narrations just fine; if we listen to a really good book, the miles melt away.  

Once we were on the fringes of Kansas City, we began listening.

The magical element is this:  Rick Bragg himself is the one reading the book: once his voice begain coming out of that speaker, I went to a whole new level in my appreciation of his writing:  When that warm, lazy, Georgia/Alabama drawl began describing Rick's mama's food, I could see it (and smell it) in a whole new way, although I had read that part of the book before.  He starts right out describing things his mother cooked, and it sounded incredible with his voice carrying it to my ears.  (Warning:  Do not read this book on an empty stomach.)

It was like poetry, really, that voice.  Cliff agrees.  We laughed our way through several chapters on our trip.  I'm still reading the latter part of it, but I sort of wish I were still listening:  You can see the cotton fields, hear the chickens cackling, taste the moonshine in your mind, in Rick Bragg's voice.  

So.  Don't read this book.  I'm serious, do NOT read the book, "The Best Cook in the World".  Listen to the author read it.

I'm sure it's in your public library, so you don't have to buy it.


Friday, August 02, 2019

We've been to Omaha

We were discussing perhaps going to Colorado this week or next, but we changed our plans, deciding to go there in September instead.  We've always gone in the hottest part of summer, so this might be a positive change.  Maybe it'll be cooler in September.  However, I wanted a minor road trip right now.  We were discussing going to Omaha last spring, but about the time we would have gone, most of the country started being flooded.  I-29, the road we take to Omaha, had water over it for a long, long time, so I put the trip on the back burner.  There is still water right up to the edge of the highway up around Craig, Missouri.  

As we left our motel yesterday morning to start home, Cliff told me he intended to gas up before we left the city, but both of us forgot about it.  We were twenty miles out of Omaha when Cliff thought about it, and gas stations aren't plentiful along that stretch of highway for quite awhile.  Finally we saw a filling station sign ahead at an exit ramp.  However, our relief was short-lived.  As we neared the station, it was obvious it had been flooded and, at least for now, abandoned.  And we were just then starting to get to the worst stretch of road, as far as flooding is concerned.  

The old Mercury gets decent gas mileage, but was below a quarter-tank.  I fretted and stewed.  Several miles beyond our first try we saw two gas stations just beyond the exit ramp ahead of us; I was afraid to hope, since it was obvious the flood waters had been there.  As we approached, though, we saw cars at the gas tanks and knew we would be OK.  I was doubly happy, because I needed a restroom.  

This particular stop had a restaurant attached to the station, and rest rooms would have been between the two.  When I got out of the car, I realized the whole building was deserted, and my heart sank.  Everything was closed, with the gas pumps being the only thing working.  But people were getting out of their cars, I saw, walking to the building and going around a corner; I decided to follow them.

The one on the left is the women's restroom.  I just couldn't get a full shot of it.  Am I glad somebody put these portable toilets there!  They were pretty much like a real facility except the stalls were a little crowded.  

We left Omaha sooner than we intended:  The plan was to get up, check out at the motel, and go across the river to Counsel Bluffs where we'd go to a highly rated railroad museum with great reviews.  Then we'd go next door to the squirrel-cage jail, then find something to eat, and possibly get home around four o'clock.  However, when we pulled up to the museum shortly before it opened, we realized we'd been there with our tractor club at some point!  OK, Cliff realized it before I did.  First I thought he was wrong, but as I looked at that building, I remembered things we had seen there and knew he was right.  The strange thing is, I can't find any blog entry about the museum.  I thought I'd blogged about all our trips with the tractor club.  

I doubt if our club will be going on any more trips; there aren't enough people who really want to go, and you need a certain amount of folks for the bus owners to make any money.  This year some club members wanted to go to Branson, but Cliff and I have been there so often, I'm not sure we'll ever go back.  The glory days are behind them at Branson, and they have little that appeals to us now.  So I suppose we'll choose our own road trips when we can.  I've pretty much given up on Maine, just because it's so very far.  Cliff has no desire to drive that kind of distance, and I have no desire to try and force him to do it.  His older sister would go along if we went, and she'd help with the driving, but it's still more driving than he wants to do.  I don't blame him... that's a lot of miles to cover.  And the cost of joining up with a group bus trip is ridiculous.

There aren't any earth-shaking places of interest in Omaha, but we found things to see and do.

Omaha has a lovely riverwalk that, I believe, is a work in progress.  There are park-like areas, and a pedestrian bridge.  All that area was flooded for awhile, and some of the trails on the other end of the pedestrian bridge aren't open, but it was a lovely place to walk around on a cool, cloudy day.

I took this while standing in the middle of the pedestrian bridge.  Cliff said, "Doesn't it seem funny that we could get on a boat here and float to within a mile of our house?"  

The way that water was rolling, you'd have a hard time convincing me to get on a boat in that river!

I was amazed at how much walking I was able to do before my knees gave out, and after a night's sleep, they were back to their normal level of hurting again, which isn't so bad.  The bridge is a mile long, but we only went to the center and back.  We walked all over the riverwalk park, got something to eat, and then went to the Joslyn Art Museum.  We looked at exhibits on our own for 45 minutes, then joined a group and followed a guide around, learning a little about the exhibits.  

I liked this one of Venus, apparently getting ready to go out on a date, but meanwhile using her mirror to give me a dirty look.
And look at these fallen angels!  I wonder what evil deeds they're getting ready to do?

Over and out!  I shall see what I can get into today.  Oh, by the way, it's my dog Gabe's birthday.  He's two years old.  

Yours truly,