Thursday, December 31, 2020

Living through a pandemic year

The pandemic became real for us in March, when we went to Costco the day after the shut-down, and there was no place to park in their huge parking lot, as well as a long line of people waiting to get into the store.  We left, because who wants to fight that crowd?  Within days, you couldn't buy toilet paper, paper towels, and laundry products anywhere.  Empty shelves greeted us.  Meat processing plants closed, so if you found meat of any kind in the store, it was three times the usual price; this caused many people to run to butcher shops and order half-hogs or a whole cow, so many people that butcher shops are probably still processing orders from March.  I wonder if people even realize how much meat is in a whole cow.  Meanwhile, since we had some meat in the freezer, I waited it out; soon the prices were back down where they belonged.  

I always have a tiny garden of some kind... two or three tomato plants, if nothing else.  This year I raised some very good sweet corn, green beans, okra, and eggplant.  We had enough tomatoes to eat fresh in spite of the usual blight.  I even had enough to freeze a few quarts for making chili and spaghetti sauce.  This past fall I harvested about a bushel of turnips and ate them all myself, little by little.  I cooked the last ones two weeks ago.  I had begun to think there'd be no garden at all last spring, because Walmart didn't have any seeds.  The hoarders had done their work!  I decided I wanted to play with some baby chicks, but people were hoarding those too!  Then I found out Odessa, a small town south of us, had chicks, so I got three pullets.  While I was there, I noticed they had plenty of garden seeds, and that's when I began appreciating small-town retailers.

I don't plan to do any more canning, so when I saw someone in the Kansas City area wanted some canning jars, I told them they could have most of mine.  A couple in their sixties or seventies who had never raised a garden thought they were going to need about a hundred canning jars.  They remembered their parents raising big gardens, and they were going to raise their own food, since everything was so scarce in the stores.  I sent them away with all those jars, knowing in my heart they'd be probably be lucky to use ten of them, because first gardens often don't turn out as expected.  Not to mention that gardening and canning can wear out even a young person!  But I let them leave with their high hopes still intact.  

When the chicks got too big to keep in the house, I didn't know what to do with them.  After trying one thing and another, they ended up back in the old chicken house.  Cliff and the grandson had stuff stored in it, but they moved some stuff and then curtained off the other stuff in half the structure.  It has worked, with only two hens and a rooster I acquired later from a neighbor.  A dog killed one of my hens.  (Make that two.  I just took food out to them and I only have one hen and one rooster.  The neighbor's pack of German Shepherds strikes again.)

At the beginning of the pandemic, a very talented local fellow began playing his guitar and singing, making a video each day of a different song.  I did the same for awhile, but I'm not a good enough singer to do it forever; people would be wishing I'd shut up, I'm sure.  On Mother's Day the Baptist Church re-opened.  I never felt much of a covid risk there because it's in a building made to hold 150 or so, and there are usually about 25 people attending.  It was easy to social distance.  Later the Methodist Church opened again, with the stipulation of wearing a mask through services; it's another small church with few members, so I went there at 9 AM and then walked to the Baptist Church where service began at 10:30.  Life feels more normal when I attend church services.  

I had been telling folks for years that I wanted a solid-gray kitten.  The grandma of the little girl we used to babysit brought us one from Iowa in May, and I named him Blue.  I haven't enjoyed a cat that much since I was a child.  He is so much fun, and spends a lot more time in the house than I ever intended. 

The grandson went through a divorce in summer, and that put some gloom in the atmosphere for awhile.  He has moved on now and is back in circulation with a lively social life.  Cliff said he went to play poker last night with friends.  He's dating, too.

Cliff and I flew to Georgia in October to visit our son and his family.  It's amazing we didn't catch the virus, because we were shoulder to shoulder with people in the airports.  I stayed away from Church the next Sunday, just in case.  I surely wouldn't want to give that awful Covid to anyone.  We really did enjoy our trip, though.

We skipped Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, but due to warnings about holiday gatherings causing the pandemic to get worse, I once again stopped going to church.  Depending on how things look nine days after New Year's Day, I intend to return on the second Sunday of 2021.

This has been a year of learning how divided we are as a nation, and how much hatred people have been harboring.  Some folks would rather listen to conspiracy theories than to believe doctors.  A friend was here yesterday and mentioned that her husband refuses to wear a mask.  "He must have voted for Trump," I said.  Of course he did.  

I have to say, this year ended with a bang for us.  Cliff got the tractor he'd been wanting.  I won a ring made from a half-dollar that he's wearing.  I got a wonderful new kitchen stove.  I hope that's setting the tone for 2021!  Not that I want to get a lot of "stuff", but I like surprises of any kind.  

I'll likely be going to bed at 9 PM tonight, like I do every night, so I'll take this chance to tell all my readers how much I appreciate every one of you, even the ones who never comment because they creep over here to see if I'm going to put my foot in my mouth or make a fool of myself in some way.  Hey, that's my job!  

God bless us every one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

My husband's tractor saga

This morning we've had every kind of precipitation I know of except for hail:  rain, sleet, and snow.  It's all supposed to change to rain this afternoon, so that means it's a day to stay inside and make potato soup; I've already done that, plus making a pumpkin pie for dessert.  The soup's done, so now the flavors are marrying for a couple of hours until noon.  The pie may not be cooled enough for our noon meal.  We shall see.

Because the weather is so nasty, I've let Blue-the-cat stay inside all morning, although it worries me that he may go dig a place on the bed and potty on it when I'm not watching.  I put him out a while ago.  This being the first snow he's ever experienced, he let me know he was not a fan and wanted right back in.  I shut the door for a few minutes.  When I opened it up to look out, he was on the porch glaring at me, but I saw his footprints in the snow at the bottom of the steps, so I'm hoping he did his business while he was out. 

Cliff and I were talking this morning about how amazing it is that we had enough cash on hand for him to buy that tractor.  We remember a time when we went to the bank for a 90-day note if we needed $800 to buy a Jersey cow.  We never had anything in savings.  Now here we are paying cash for a tractor that cost as much as some brand new cars.  All that cash came from his hobby.

I haven't always had a job away from home, so during the roughest years, Cliff was the only one bringing in money.  I worked at Harman industries for about three years, then Whitaker Cable perhaps four years altogether.  I worked at the local apple orchard off and on for minimum wage (but it was my favorite job ever), and then the Kohl's Distribution Center for four years.  We've been married fifty-four years, and that's the extent of my working away from home.  When you consider the fact I never drove and we live in the country, it's a wonder I worked that much.  

I say all that to tell you that I've always done what I could to see that Cliff got something for himself out of his labors, once the kids were on their own.  I wasn't contributing much money to the household, and I felt he deserved something for his efforts, and for the years when he had to watch his money fly out the window to pay bills.  Sometime in the 1990's, he went to night school and took GED classes, then got his GED.  That got him a job with a next-door neighbor that required a high-school education or GED.  That was the best job, as far as pay scale and benefits, that he ever had in his life.  

I was all about paying bills off once he got to the top of their pay scale, but it occurred to me that it was about time he had some of his own hard-earned money for himself.  We often talked about how, when he retired, we'd have a nice big shop built for him, but eventually I said, "You know, if we don't have money for a shop while your working, how would we manage to have it when you retire?"

And I talked him into refinancing the place and building that shop.  It's one of the best decisions we ever made.

I plotted and planned ways to get him some spending money.  One time I talked someone at Tractor Supply into letting us put an air compressor on layaway, a big purchase for us at the time.  Then I told him to go to HR at work and sign up for the credit union; we'd have them take five bucks out of his check every week.  After awhile I realized we didn't miss five dollars a week at all, so I had him increase the amount.  When he retired, I think we had them taking out $50 a week:  This was his money to do with as he pleased, whenever he wanted.

I went to work at Kohl's in the year 2000, and was there for over four years before my knees wouldn't let me do all that walking any more.  Then I got my Social Security.  A lot of the money I made at Kohl's went to pay off bills so we wouldn't go into Cliff's retirement owing a lot of money; by the time I retired, the only payment we had except for utilities was the payment on our place, and it wasn't much.  Cliff piddled with his tractor hobby a lot during those years.  He'd buy one, then sell one, but he didn't usually end up making money on them; he did well to break even.  Tractor restoration is very expensive hobby.  At least he was always able to buy another tractor after he sold one and he was doing something he loved.

After he retired he continued with the tractors.  The icing on the cake of our retirement was that the oldest grandson bought our property and remodeled the old house.  We bought a used mobile home and put it behind the barn, and that's where we live.  It isn't much, but it's fine for someone like me, who doesn't even decorate.  Now we have no bills except the ones you can't get away from like insurance, electricity, propane, and so forth.  I told Cliff, "If you sell a tractor, you keep the money to do with as you please."  Thus, his "tractor fund".

There were times I'd mention something I wanted and he'd say, "I'll get that for you with my money," but I never took him up on that, ever.  I still remember the years when he only got five bucks out of a $100 paycheck and had to use that for gasoline to get him to work.

That's why I am so thrilled that he was able to get the magnificent tractor he needed, wanted, and deserved.  He did a lot of reading yesterday and today; in fact, he just now finished these two books.

Isn't life grand?

Monday, December 28, 2020

We found Cliff's tractor

Yesterday morning Cliff saw a new ad on Craigslist for a John Deere with a cab.  The price seemed right:  It's a 2013 model (before regen came into play) with only 300 hours on it.  It was about 30 minutes from home.  Yes, we were looking for a Kubota, but the only reason we weren't considering John Deere tractors was because they usually are higher-priced.  Well, that, and the fact that we didn't really care for the way the latest models look.

When we arrived at the seller's home, it was obvious this man was pretty well-heeled.  The whole place was neat and picturesque.  I had Gabe along, and I hated to let him poop in a field near the barn, because even the field looked like something out of a picture.  He had two tractors, the same model; but the one we were looking at was the basic model, while the one he's keeping is a little fancier.  Both looked brand new.  He bought the tractor from a friend who was the original owner so he could leave the mower on it rather than putting it on and off his other tractor all the time.  He'd had it three years, and only used it for mowing; that's also what the original owner used it for.  The mower behind the tractor in this picture does not come with it, but the quick-hitch and tractor weights do.  And we have a mower anyway.

The seller was exceptionally nice.  I told Cliff I got good vibes from him.  (The field behind the tractor is where Gabe left his mark.)

So Cliff gets to take most of the money out of his tractor fund to get a cashier's check and he will be the owner of a tractor-with-a-cab.  The guy said the air conditioner in the tractor will freeze you to death.  

Cliff would like to keep our "Little Johnny" for mowing the yard.  Considering it's a 35-horsepower tractor, it does a great job of mowing, except for the trim at the edges and around things.  This one wouldn't do as good a job of it; for one thing, the wheels would leave tracks. 

So now the search will be over and Cliff will be broke for awhile, but I believe he will be very happy with it.  When I woke him up, I asked, "Well, are you scared, or are you happy?"

"Happy," he said enthusiastically.  "I've been playing with it in my head all morning while I was lying here."

Maybe 2020 isn't ending so badly after all.  I won a ring for Cliff (he wears it all the time), he found his tractor, and I quit spending so much time on Facebook and got back to blogging regularly.  

  It's funny how things turn out, isn't it?

P.S.  Cliff's been on the exercise bike where he can see out the window into the pasture and saw Blue kill two moles in a 15-minute period.  Good kitty!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

My dog is so spoiled, nobody likes him

Yes, it's true.  People don't tell me they don't like Gabe, but I know they don't.  He's irritating and needy.  He often refuses to come when he's called.  He raises the roof barking at people approaching the house, especially people he likes!  Yesterday I told Cliff, "If we were at someone else's house and they had a dog exactly like Gabe, I would hate him."

But as it is, he's my jealous, loud-mouth dog, and I love him.  I baby-talk to him and tell him he's my puppy and make him beg for treats.  I would love it if he had some manners, but I put up with him because I'm the one who made him the way he is, and sometimes, he's my life-line.  

My long-suffering husband just puts up with Gabe the best he can.  When we have visitors, Gabe won't leave them alone: he has to jump onto laps and smell their breath.  Sometimes, for the peace of our guests, I put him in his kennel and shut him in.  At least he willingly stays in there with no whining or barking (unless he hears a UPS truck drive up).  

The neighbors across the fence from us have German Shepherds that they turn loose sometimes.  The dogs run over here and go down to our woods where they chase deer, so it pretty much ruins any deer hunting on the place.  One of the dogs acts particularly vicious, barking when I go to the chicken house (next to the fence that separates our properties).  That's the one who came running over and snapped at Gabe recently before I could pick him up; he's one reason I take Gabe out on a leash most of the time, because Gabe will bark at the killer dog to get his attention, and the German Shepherd answers with growling and snarling and sometimes, runs over here to settle the score.   

And then there's my outside cat, who causes few problems for anyone.  I suppose you could call him an inside/outside cat, because it's true he spends probably four or five hours a day inside, napping either in Gabe's dog bed in the living room or the dog kennel in the bedroom.  If nature calls, he goes to the front door.  Once in awhile I catch him on our bed or dresser, or even on a kitchen chair, considering whether he should risk jumping onto the table to eat butter:  At times like that, I swipe him down to the floor with a forearm.  When I'm ready to put him outside and he isn't ready to go, he runs from me, getting underneath a chair or under my bed where I can't reach him.  Cliff thinks that's the best spectator sport ever, watching the cat sneak behind or under a chair with me trying to catch him.  If he hides in Gabe's big kennel, I'm forced to get down on hands and knees (ouch), crawl halfway into the kennel, and pull him out.  If he's under the bed, I get the broom and poke at him until he goes running to another hidey-hole.  My husband just laughs.  After all, it wasn't his idea to invite these animals into our home.

Blue-the-cat sleeps outside at night, I'm not sure where.  If it's above freezing, he and Mama Kitty often come running out from under a small shed out by the shop when I've called them to breakfast in the barn.  The last two nights, when we had single-digit temperatures, both cats had some other spot to sleep; yesterday Blue came from somewhere inside the barn.  He always eats like he's starving.  I come back to the house, and about five minutes later Blue is at the door with a full belly.  He and Mama Kitty are always waiting on the front porch for the four-thirty PM feeding time, when I give them canned food.  Cliff watches me get Gabe's supper first, then put cat food in two different dishes (Mama eats her food on the porch outside, Blue on the enclosed back porch) and feed them separately because  Mama Kitty refuses to eat with another cat; she'd sooner go hungry.  

Cliff says I milked cows and raised calves for so much of my life, I can't do without chores... so I've made a chore out of feeding my pets!  He may be right about that.  I used to go out before daylight with a flashlight in one hand and a milk bucket in the other; now I go outside with a leash in one hand and a flashlight in the other and watch a dog pee and poop.  Sounds like choring to me!

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas day.  We did OK.  Cliff talked to one of his sisters, I talked to my sister.  Granddaughter Monica, her husband, and great-grand-daughter Brynn, who is about to start walking any day, stopped by briefly.  

And now the new year approaches.  I'm watching the Covid numbers, but so far my plan is to return to Sunday church services January 10.  That will keep me at home until we see how the numbers of new cases have been affected by people celebrating Christmas and partying on New Year's Eve.  As I've often said, it's easy to social distance at both churches I attend, and I wear a mask besides.  I just felt it might be wise to stay home during the holidays.  Other than quick visits to a couple of grocery stores, we've done pretty well with that plan.

After two frigid days and nights, we'll be in the fifties today.  Hallelujah!  

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Day

When I was growing up, my mother started cooking pies, cakes, and fudge before Thanksgiving and then never stopped cooking seasonal goodies until Christmas.  She made fudge, the old-fashioned kind that doesn't contain marshmallows; white divinity; pink divinity; and brown sugar fudge.  She didn't spare the nuts, either.  If a recipe said to add 1/2 cup of nuts, she'd use one cup.  When she'd made all that candy, she'd set a bowl of it in the living room and one the front room, where the switchboard sat in a corner; when someone stopped in to pay their phone bill, she'd offer them some candy.  I'd go from bowl to bowl and take out all the brown sugar fudge for myself, because it was my favorite.  I never cared much for chocolate fudge, but I would eat divinity.  I wouldn't have liked it without nuts though; that's what made it worth eating.  When I make brown sugar fudge, I make it for myself; nobody else is crazy about it.  I probably wouldn't like it so much if it weren't connected to my past.  

This morning Cliff surprised me with a Christmas gift:  a can of Topsy's popcorn.  Now, this is the third can of popcorn this year for us.  When my daughter or granddaughter Amber get us that gourmet popcorn, they get half cheese flavored and half caramel.  I eat nothing but the cheese flavor until it's gone, then I will eat some caramel.  Cliff likes both, but I think caramel is his favorite.  So Cliff got me a whole big can of cheese-flavored popcorn!  He says it's all mine.  

So, I ate several handfuls of cheese popcorn.  Then I licked the pan in which I made the brown sugar fudge, and there was a lot of it to lick!  Next I made hot hamburger dip for Cliff and the oldest grandson and whoever else might show up in the next couple of days; I can't stand to eat it because they like it made with the HOT Pace Picante sauce, and that's more heat that I want in my food.  Medium Pace would be perfect for me, but I had a taste anyhow.  After eating all that assorted garbage, I noticed my stomach was feeling a little off.  So I took a pill and stopped eating for awhile.  I believe that fixed the problem.  Trust me, I've learned to pay close attention when my stomach is telling me to quit.

I woke up with a song on my mind this morning, and since I don't have much to say, I'll just put this on here and call it a blog entry.  I hope you are having a great Christmas day. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

the day before Christmas Eve.

 Christmas is practically here, and we have no plans.  Zero.  I've never been one to get too excited by the Christmas season anyway, but it does seem strange it's going to be just another day.  We haven't exchanged gifts for many years.  Our daughter and her husband always have a gift for each of us, and our oldest granddaughter does too.  They know we don't expect gifts from anyone, but they get us one.  

I thought about putting up the artificial tree we've only used once, but then I remembered I usually get tired of having a Christmas tree in the way and then I dread taking off the ornaments and putting all that mess away.  Yep, I'm a genuine grinch, although I'm in better spirits than yesterday.

Of course I enjoyed Christmas as a child, and when I had kids of my own it was fun playing Santa.  When I was growing up, my family didn't celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday:  The Church of Christ didn't tell anyone not to celebrate, but they didn't have the Christmas plays at church, or Christmas-themed sermons.  I never knew what the word "advent" meant until I was middle-aged.  The church I grew up in believed in following the New Testament literally, and since the Bible doesn't say to celebrate Christmas and Easter, it wasn't mentioned in sermons or Sunday School.  In those days, though, even public schools had plays reenacting the birth of Christ, and we kids would sing the newest children's Christmas songs:  "All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth", and "Frosty the Snowman" are two I recall.  

While our church didn't have Christmas programs, my mom always took me to the one at the Methodist church down the road; I'd come home with a brown bag that contained an apple, an orange, some nuts, and a few pieces of hard candy.  At home, we'd have a Christmas tree with piles of gifts under it, and Santa came faithfully, usually bringing me something I'd asked for.  He never came through with the black-and-white Shetland Pony I longed for in the Montgomery Ward catalogue, though.  I had to wait until I was married to finally have a horse.

I enjoy watching "It's a Wonderful Life" each year during this season and "A Christmas Story".  I just read an article about something that happened in the making of Christmas Story:  Ralphie daydreams about being a cowboy killing bad guys with a BB gun, and the script says he's supposed to spit.  I'll let you find out for yourself what happened next; click HERE for the rest of the story.  

My wish for all of us is that we see the end of Covid-19 soon, but at this point I don't know whether it will ever be completely eradicated.  I wonder if it will be like the flu and morph a little each year.  I wonder if the covid vaccine will only work in 50% or less of the population, like the flu shot does.  As I think about it, I realize this thing we've all been living with since March might be with us a lot longer than we ever imagined.

Covid is the elephant in the room that makes us all a little crazy.

All I have to do is make it through the winter without making people want to put me out of my misery.  When spring comes, the world is a happier place.

One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

I'm moody lately

It's winter, so it's normal for me to be out-of-sorts on occasion.  But the pandemic, along with the fact that America is so divided about everything from politics to Covid, adds to my problem.  Even though I have unfollowed (as opposed to unfriending) most all my Facebook friends, I still end up seeing the hatefulness and stubborn attitudes that I have tried to avoid.  One thing for sure, I am going to unfollow the small-town groups except for my own town (they don't usually argue), because those town groups are where the disagreements show up the most.  One person posted three simple words on one town's page:  "mask, or no mask?"  That started the most ridiculous argument I've ever seen, with about 20 people commenting one way or another.  I have no problem with people who don't want to wear a mask, I just wish they'd stop bragging about it.

You're thinking, "Just scroll on by."

I'm a crazy woman at best, and with seasonal depression, I seem to zoom in on idiotic behavior just to torture myself.  So I will unfollow those towns, both for my good and for the good of my poor husband, who has to live with me.  And even for my readers, who would much rather read something besides a raving old woman letting S.A.D. rule her feelings.

I found something good today on Facebook, though.  A folk singer-songwriter I like, Chuck Brodsky, shared a video he'd found that made me emotional, and I don't even know why!  I told Chuck I had tears in my eyes after watching it.  He must have had some idea why I was emotional, because he put a heart by my comment.  :D  Isn't Facebook silly, with hearts and thumbs-ups and happy faces (or angry faces) beside comments?  As if they made it all up for children.   

Maybe if I keep watching the video I'll figure out why it makes me want to cry.  

Monday, December 21, 2020

We received the ring I won

Can you believe the mail ran on Sunday?  It's the first time I ever heard of that happening.  I guess our little post office was running over.  Anyway, the ring made from a half-dollar arrived in the Sunday mail.  

We went to look at another 880 Oliver tractor for Cliff's project, but it had things wrong with it the seller didn't mention, and he wanted far too much money for it.

If you want to read about how the fellow who donated the ring makes those rings, here's an entry from the Blind-Pig-and-the-acorn explaining how you, too, can make a ring from a quarter.  Click HERE

Sunday, December 20, 2020


I've noticed ads for Curiosity Stream on Facebook for quite a while, but I decided today to find out what the Internet has to say about it, since the ad told me I could subscribe to it for a whole year for $12.  It's a holiday special.  For that price, and knowing Cliff likes documentaries, I signed up.  I believe he'll be using it quite a bit; as I type this, he is watching something about animals from the ice age, specifically saber-tooth tigers.  

The website claims to have over 2,000 documentaries, with more being added, so Cliff will be in documentary heaven.  What a nice Christmas present for him!  The programs we've peeked at so far are well done, many of them originally made by BBC.  Captions are necessary for Cliff, and I had a little trouble figuring out how to turn captions on. Apparently we'll have to set the captions for each individual show when we start to watch it, but I can live with that.  

Speaking of Christmas presents, I got an email today saying USPS will deliver my package (the ring made from a half-dollar) on Monday!  My readers assured me it would eventually get here, and they were right... or am I counting my chickens before they're hatched, since it isn't in my hands yet?

Gabe, Blue, and I went for our little walk in the pasture.  It's a bright, cloud-free day, and I needed to soak up some sunshine for awhile.  This morning I set a reminder on Alexa for 5:30 PM so I'd remember to look at the "great conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn. tells me it may be partly cloudy by then.  I hope they don't cover up what I'm wanting to see.  

The Chiefs are playing at 3:30, so I'll be watching that game.  Cliff has always recorded all the football games to watch at his leisure, fast-forwarding through commercials.  He hates watching games live.  But since I got the football bug, I want to see the Chiefs live.  I like to hear the commentators talk about the teams and individual players.  I know so little about football, sometimes I learn something by listening to them.  Cliff likes to get rid of all that talk.  I've tried to get interested in teams other than the Chiefs, but I just don't care who wins or loses when it's not my team.  Today's game will still be recorded, so if Cliff wants to do something else, he can still watch it later.

I'm reading a book I stumbled onto that I really enjoy, although I'm not sure how others would like it.  We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It.  The author, Tom Phelan, tells about his growing up on a farm in Ireland.  There are several funny moments.  I enjoy it because some of the problems they had with pigs and horses and cows remind me of things that have happened to us on our "pretend" farm.

I'm about ready to go heat up some leftovers.  Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tractor woes

Remember when Cliff sold off the last of his classic tractor collection, intending to find a used 7040 Kubota tractor with a cab and front loader?  He loves his little John Deere, but once in awhile he'd like a little more "umph" than an under-fifty-horsepower tractor can provide; we'd like one with a cab because Cliff has developed asthma in his later years; the heated cab in winter and A/C in summer would be helpful for his breathing.  If we lived in Texas or Georgia, that 7040 Kubota might be feasible, because there are a lot of them for sale there.  Unfortunately, we live on a hill looking down on the Missouri River in God's Country; surely everybody knows that God's Country consists of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas.  When you try to find a certain kind of tractor, it always seems to be a thousand miles away.

The particular tractor he's looking for can be found nearby, but without a cab.  The model he's looking for could even be bought new, around the desired price range... without a cab.  There are other problems with buying new, though:  First of all, if we buy anything from a dealer, it will be taxed.  Real farmers don't have to pay the tax.  We have always been "pretend" farmers.  The taxes on $30,000 are significant and actually put the price of the 7040 out of our range.  

But there's another big issue that explains why certain used tractors are not being put up for sale, and that's Regen, pronounced re-gen, accent on the first syllable .

What does regen mean?  I found an article HERE that explains it, although it's still way over my head.  Here's a snippet from the article:  "The device used to deliver clean emissions is called a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), and it can get gunked up with soot every now and then. The cleaning process is called the regen process. Your tractor has a dash symbol that tells you when regen is necessary. The symbol is the same across all major brands."  

Just click the link in the above paragraph if you want to know more.

You can thank our politicians for regen.  They're all about clean air, you know, and apparently tractors have been polluting the atmosphere for many years.  My own opinion is that farmers are in the minority, so any law that might hamper them can be voted in by the majority of folks... who live in the city and never heard of regen and probably don't worry about where their food comes from.  But I could be wrong.  I may be looking at things from the wrong perspective. 

There's a reason I tend to think farmers don't like it:  They're keeping the tractors we want to buy second-hand.  They are hanging on to what they have because that regen process, if not done right, can really mess up a brand new tractor, at great cost to the owner.  Cliff follows the Kubota board on Facebook.  It's amazing how many people are saying they want a new tractor but they don't like the regen, so they're keeping what they have.

So I don't know what will happen with our search.  Cliff has his stash and surfs the net every day looking for the tractor he wants.  Perhaps a miracle will happen.  A different tractor isn't a necessity, not by a long shot.  But Cliff did without a lot of things he'd like to have had, throughout most of our lives together.  I like to see him happy.  Right now, he's just happy that I'm so happy with my new stove.  But I wish he could find that tractor. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

My prize may never reach me.

Remember the ring I won from the Blind-Pig-and-an-Acorn blog, made from a half-dollar?  I have tracking numbers for it, so of course I've been tracking it like crazy.  Well, here's the status; apparently, my ring has either disappeared entirely or is languishing in a corner of the Kansas City, Kansas, facility.  This, of course, is no fault of Tipper's; things are crazy right now with the postal service.  But I had been worrying about it, feeling very disappointmented.  Yesterday I had a little talk with myself:  "Were you having a nice life before you won the ring?"  Yes, yes I was.  "Do you think your life will change if you don't get that ring?"  No, actually.  I want the ring, but it won't change my life in any way after I get it (if I do).  "Did you lose any money in this transaction?"  Not a penny.  "Then quit thinking about it; if it shows up, you'll be surprised.  If it doesn't, the disappointment won't  kill you, so count your blessings." Below you can see what the tracking shows me; it's been the same for days:

Then, on a brief visit to Facebook this morning, I saw this at the top of my status:

I actually smiled at the thought.  It isn't all about me.  There are hundreds of people waiting for a package right now; I'm not the only one worried.  I'm sure many of those folks are waiting for much more valuable packages than my ring.  So I'm appreciating everything I have right now, especially my new Samsung Kitchen range!  The last time I bought a stove, which wasn't that long ago, I bought the cheapest one I could find.  I don't need bells and whistles, all I want to do is cook and bake.  Well, in the old days, that would have worked, because most products had quality built in.  Times have changed; the cheap Kenmore was terrible:  The burners all had "hot spots" where the flame was orange instead of blue, and was hotter.  The oven took over 20 minutes to preheat, and didn't brown biscuits on top, even if you practically burned the bottoms.  I was the one who made the mistake of buying "cheap", so I intended to live with my mistake.  I'm 76, how much cooking am I going to be doing between here and the grave?    

But the other day as I was complaining about my baking results, Cliff said, "So buy a new stove."  I told him it was my mistake, so I'd live with it, yada yada.  I don't know what all was said, but I did decide to take Cliff up on the offer.  It's a good time to buy a kitchen stove, because they are on sale everywhere.  If you want to see the one I bought, click HERE, although we paid about $75 less than the current price.  The flames of the burner are all BLUE!  The oven preheats in five minutes!  I'm going to experiment with the convection oven, too.  

It's all in the perspective:  Here I am with the stove of my dreams, and I've been worrying about a ring that might or might not arrive.  Sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees.

I digress briefly to show you what I have to put up with when I'm trying to write a blog entry.

I'm leaving you with a video from a talented man who was born and raised in our school district; would you believe at one time he was deaf, or near-deaf?  Josh's father once told me the story; I wish I had it for you, dear readers, but I'd get it wrong if I tried to tell it now.  Long story short, he got a cochlear implant, and all is well.  

What an age we live in.  I hope you enjoy Josh's playing as much I do.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Sharing my mother's life story... again

Yes, it's a rerun.  In 2009, I serialized a story my mother had written:  She called it "My Life in the Twentieth Century".  It was one of the most popular group of blog entries I've ever done, and it was all in her own words.  We were away from home most of the day, today:  Dentist appointment, haircut for Cliff, and shopping; so I'm sharing my mom's story rather than let this day go by without blogging.  I'm putting a link to each entry, in order.  

Chapter one

Chapter two

Chapter three

Chapter four

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Some of my thoughts on my mother's story:

Random thoughts 1

Random thoughts 2

Random thoughts 3

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Well, someone asked for it

One of my readers yesterday wanted to hear me sing Star of the East, the song I mentioned in my previous post.  It's hard for me to share a video of myself singing because I am aware of my vocal imperfections, as well as my limited skills at guitar playing.  So I did a video, but it's a short one, just a little over a minute:  One verse, with the chorus that I can't find on any version of this on the Internet.  My mom bought the sheet music, and that's the chorus it gave.  It is also, as you will be able to tell, the part of the song that was higher-pitched than I can comfortably sing, but I did it when I was six, and I'll do it now. Consider this your Christmas card from me.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Star of the East

According to the calendar it isn't winter yet, but it sure feels like it.  Not necessarily because of the weather, although it is in the low 20's this morning, but because I'm in the winter doldrums.  I've been on a roll since I stopped living on Facebook, blogging almost every day.  But now, I find very little to write about because I don't do much.  Oh for the years when Cliff and I were both so active:  I rode my horse along the Missouri River bottoms behind our place, taking pictures of my adventures.  When the weather was fit, Cliff and I would go for rides on our Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.  We'd ride to Branson, and sometimes down into Arkansas.  Boy, I had plenty to write about then!

Now the horse is long-dead and the Gold Wing is long-gone.  We only go to necessary places:  Walmart, doctor appointments, dentist appointments... and who wants to blog about that kind of stuff?  Maybe I should re-post my mom's life story that I serialized on this blog years ago.  Everyone found that quite interesting!  

Because winter affects me as it does, I've started meditating again in the mornings to clear my mind.  It really is calming, to be able to dismiss any thoughts for a few minutes.  A thought comes to mind, I recognize it, then let it drift away for another time, like a pretty cloud in the sky.  Yesterday out of the blue a song came to mind, which I properly dismissed.  But later, after meditation, I thought of it again and managed to recall the title:  Star of the East.

I allowed memories inspired by that song drift over me, and I was a little girl again.  My mother was always making me learn some song or other when we lived in Iowa.  She must have thought I was a great singer, because I got volunteered quite a bit to sing at school functions or small talent contests.  I did love to sing; my parents sang all the time around the house, or riding in the car.  I'd join in with them if I knew the songs.  Daddy was particularly fond of "Lay that Pistol Down", not to mention a couple of mildly off-color songs he'd launch into enthusiastically out of the blue that caused my mom to say, "Oh, Everett" as though it was awful, only she was always smiling when she reprimanded him.  But I digress. 

One winter Mother had me learn Star of the East so I could sing it at the Christmas program at Skinner School, which I attended for my first three or four years of learning, beginning with grade "primary" when I was five.  I guess Kindergarten wasn't part of the vocabulary in rural Iowa at the time. 

This article was obviously in the Des Moines Register on April 22, but that picture looks like it was taken in February, doesn't it?  

I figured maybe the song was one of those "one-hit wonders", because I recall hearing others sing it a time or two at Christmas programs way back then, but never since.  My only connection with it was that I had to learn it and sing it somewhere.  I must have learned it well, because I still know every word of it, over 65 years later.

As I pondered the song, humming it to myself while I thought of the words, I became curious as to where that song originated.  It seems to me a very pretty song, although I had a bit of trouble with the high notes as a kid.  Why haven't I heard it since 1950?  It sure beats "Grandma got run over by a reindeer"!

The Internet has all the answers, so I surfed my way to Youtube where I found out Judy Garland recorded it in 1941.  But who wrote it?  When was it written?  To my surprise, I found out it was a hymn from the 1800's!  There was one bit added to the sheet music version from which I learned it: that's the part with the high notes that I had trouble with.

Judy Garland does the song superbly.  What a voice she had.  That's a high compliment from me, considering all I listen to is folk, country, and old hymns.  

Friday, December 11, 2020


When Cliff came in from the shop at 5:30 yesterday evening, I told him I'd done a blog entry.  He's my proof-reader, and believe me, I need one!  However, he forgot to read my entry and I, too, forgot about it.  This morning I asked him if he read it after I went to bed.  Nope.  As soon as he ate breakfast though, he got right to it.  He caught a couple of things:  One was in yesterday's entry, and fixing it involved removing a photo of a tractor.  Why?  Because I thought it was a side view of the better tractor, and it wasn't.  It was the parts tractor that he's finished already and parked in the barn.  I couldn't find a picture of the good tractor, so I removed the wrong picture and a sentence I'd written.  The other mistake was from two entries ago, where I had typed "wrote" instead of "write".  Probably because I decided to change the sentence around and forgot one word.  As I told Cliff, everybody who intended to read this has already seen the flaws, so I'm just changing the errors for myself and him, I suppose.

Here's a funny thing.  I don't even drive a car; I know very little about the workings of tractors or anything else mechanical.  If I'm describing a tractor or if I explain something Cliff is doing to a tractor, it's because he's sitting right beside me telling me what to say, although I do sometimes re-word what he says.  Ever since he bought the parts tractor, and later, the tractor he intended to fix up, I've been confused.  They are both the same series of Oliver tractor and they're both old; they look alike to me.  But he'll say, "No, that's not the parts tractor.  It's the good one.  You can tell, because one's a diesel and one is gas."  

No, that doesn't help me at all.  I've never paid attention to how you differentiate a diesel Oliver from a gas Oliver, and I'm busy trying to learn to write left-handed.  So I don't have time to take a course in tractors 101.  However, I do think I will know which is which at this point: 

the parts tractor has flat fenders...

and the fixer-upper has curved fenders... 

I can remember that!

There were times when I've gone back fifteen years in this blog to read an entry and found typos, so anyone who reads this mess regularly is probably used to my sloppy "style".  I'd never have made it as a secretary, that's for sure.  Or if I had, I'd be like Mrs. Wiggins. 


Looks like it's going to be a gray day here.  We had some light rain this morning, but not enough to amount to anything.  I'll take it, whatever is sent.  The past two days have been perfect, so I won't complain about today.  I have things to keep me busy, and I believe I'll be able to do my full 30 minutes on the recumbent bike.   

I've been writing in different sized fonts lately, wondering which is best for the reader.  I usually use bold when I'm done because long ago, some people thought the print was hard to read.  This time I didn't use bold.  I'd appreciate input from readers:  Does this seem too small to read comfortably?  Is bold a better choice, or should I abandon it?  

Thursday, December 10, 2020

My Day

Yesterday Blue-the-cat, Gabe-the-schnauzer, and I (Donna-the-human) went on our usual walk to the edge of the woods.  When I turned around and started back to the house, Blue didn't seem interested in joining us, even when I called him.  I don't think it's more than a quarter-mile back there, so I figured the silly cat would come home on his own.  He surely knows the way, since he's made the trip several times. 

Three hours later he still hadn't come back, so I put Gabe on the leash and we went north through the pasture again.  When we got near the turnaround place, I began calling Blue; he came right out of the brush and was ready to follow us home... finally.  I should have left him back there, because I'm almost positive he'd have come home by 4:30; that's when I feed the cats their canned food.  Food is mighty important to Blue.  But any time he's missing, I picture coyotes or foxes feasting on him, or an eagle flying off with the cat in his claws.  Since Blue is an outside cat, I see that gruesome picture in my mind quite often.  Old Mama Kitty is at least 13 years old, and she's still around.  Surely Blue will make it as long.  But I worry.

Because I took two walks yesterday, I'm paying today with sore knees.  No walk today, and I only spent 15 minutes on the exercise bike.  I have had a productive day, though.  I had a tiny roast in the freezer:  one pound, six ounces.  I told Cliff it was a two-person roast, although it was a wee bit too much for us at one meal.  I made mashed potatoes and gravy and heated up green beans.  While the roast was in the Insta-Pot, I made rice pudding.  Cliff was pleasantly surprised.

This morning I wrote my sister a much better left-hand letter than the one I was going to send.  I needed the practice, right?  I thought I did my best job yet on her letter, so later when I was getting ready to send a payment in the mail, I thought it was time to try writing a check left-handed.  First, though, I used my left hand to write my return address on the envelope.  I used a pen writing the return address first.  But I'm not as proficient with a pen; it's as if they have a mind of their own.  After seeing my poor attempt at writing a return address, I realized I'm not ready for prime-time yet and used my right hand for the check.   

What's Cliff doing on these beautiful days?  Well, he got everything done he intended to do with the "parts tractor"he turned into a working one, so he parked it and got the other 880 Oliver out; this is the tractor he bought with intentions to fix up.  Everything seems to be working on it, except that it needs a rear end.  The man who sold him the tractor told him he had no idea what was wrong with it, but it makes a loud noise when it's put in reverse.

I don't know where he'll get another parts tractor.  He saw a cheap one Monday on Facebook Marketplace, but it sold before he had a chance at it.

That thing between the hose on the left and the stool on the right is a power takeoff (PTO).   I'm sure my readers will find this fascinating.  

I guess we are still looking for a used Kubota 7040.  And now, to find another 880 parts tractor and hope my husband resists the urge to get it running.

The two cats are at the door demanding their supper, and it's almost that time.

And that's what's happening today at Woodhaven Acres.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

I'm just rambling today

I'm still practicing my left-handed writing.  And now I'm also printing left-handed.  I didn't intend to do that, since I was never, ever taught how to print.  Of course I taught myself at some point, but that's easy after you've learned "cursive".  Who started calling it cursive anyway?  It was called longhand when I was going to school.  

I've found many helps along the way, like this site.  There are books, too; lots of them.  I bought one for five and six-year-olds.  And yes, it is very helpful.  I'm doing a page or two daily.

Why?  It's all because I was born left-handed like my dad, but was switched in school because the teacher asked my mom whether she wanted me to write left-handed or right-handed.  Mother told Mrs. Eighmy she'd prefer right-handed because it's an awkward world for lefties. 

I don't send Christmas cards any more, but I got one for my sister.  I'll write another note on the inside of her card, but I wrote a very sloppy note to put in the card so she could see my poor attempt at writing with my left hand.  Then I wrote some lines at the top of that note with my right hand that were sloppier than my left-hand writing!  Cliff's been telling me my left hand writing looks better than my right, but that may be because I take my time.  Below is my note:  I am embarrassed to show any of my hand-writing, but I may as well keep things real.

Maybe Maxine will get a laugh out of it, if nothing else.  I don't believe any silly thing I decide to do surprises people.  I march to the beat of a strange and unique drummer.

Blue, the cat, has been seen with a dead mole in his mouth a few times, so he's sure to be a good mouser.  I let him inside earlier; Gabe was scuffling with him roughly, as he always does, and evidently Blue decided he was tired of it:  I don't know whether he bit Gabe or scratched him, but in the middle of the confrontation, Gabe yipped and quickly put some distance between himself and the cat.  He needed that lesson, so I don't feel sorry for him.  He plays far too roughly, partly out of jealousy, no doubt.  He is a very spoiled dog.

We are having some of the best autumn weather I've seen.  October and November gave us some cold, cloudy weather, but we had more sunny days that cloudy, with pleasant temperatures much of the time.   

Next week it's time to get Gabe groomed; he's also due for his yearly appointment at the vet.  There goes any extra money we might have had, but he's worth it as long as we have it.  It's all because I can't tolerate, or keep up with, hair in the house.  The only non-shedders seem to be dogs that must go to a groomer.  I've had folks tell me there's nothing to grooming a dog, that I should do it myself:  Well, look at my handwriting!  You can imagine what sort of haircut I'd give a dog, if I can't even write legibly.  

We let my parents have a poodle of ours one time.  After a year or two of my Mom cutting Meliah's hair, and both parents feeding her anything she asked for, the classy little poodle we gave them turned into a fat, ugly mutt.  She lived to be 17 or 18 years old, but the last few years of her life she had a terrible odor and scratched a lot.  I'm fairly certain she had developed allergies that could have been corrected if they'd checked with a vet, but my mom hated to spend that much money on an animal.  Now that I think of it, Meliah may have been allergic to Avon:  Mother was an Avon lady for several years, and she used Avon soaps to bathe the dog.  When Meliah developed that stink, Mother would spray her with Avon cologne, which blended with the dog's stink and only made it worse.

Yesterday I put a different picture on my blog header.  I use Safari browser most of the time.  I had no problem putting the picture on, but I couldn't find how to change the font color on the picture.  I googled for help, I tried one thing and another; none of the directions worked for me.  Then it occurred to me to use the Chrome browser, since Google owns Chrome as well as the Blogger platform.  Bingo!  There were aspects needed to work with fonts that didn't show up on Safari.  I guess I should just go back to Google for all my browsing.  I've put it off because Google doesn't like some of my Safari passwords and I don't want to mess around change them.  

I believe Gabe, Blue, and I will go on a short jaunt across the pasture.  Have a great day, wherever you are!  

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

The Villisca axe murders

I spent the first ten years of my life in Taylor County, Iowa.  During those years my parents and I moved at least 3 times, but our address was always Villisca.  My parents were switchboard operators, back when you had to call "Central" even if you only wanted to talk to your neighbors down the road... unless they were on your party line.  Our house was where you went to pay your bill; we were "Central".  For a brief time my parents were switchboard operators in Villisca, but the place I remember best was Guss, a small, unincorporated town with a blacksmith shop, our switchboard house and a general store; our mailing address was still Villisca.

It was on the Internet that I learned about the famous axe-murders in Villisca, and a grisly tale it is.  When I first read about it, I asked my mother if she'd heard the story.  She had not.  More recently, I asked my sister who is 14 years my senior if she was familiar with the axe murders.  Nope, she wasn't.  I understand the reason, of course:  those murders took place in 1912.  Just Google "villisca axe murders" and you'll find enough to keep you reading all day long.  I'll share a link here just to get you started; it's one of the shorter accounts, and you'll find it HERE.

Of course there are ghost stories; you can pay $10 and tour the place, or spend the night there for a minimum of $428 for up to six people.  Cliff and I have gone right past Villisca a time or two in the past;  I wish we had done the tour.  

There have been several stories about the house on some of those ghost-chaser television shows.  In my opinion, ghosts are like Santa:  If you don't believe in them, you'll never see them.  Cliff and I toured the Stanley Hotel once; the tour guide wanted a volunteer to stand in a certain place where some people in the past had "felt something weird" going on.  I volunteered, but told him I didn't believe in ghosts, so he was probably wasting his time.  I felt nothing.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

A visit to Aunt Gertrude's house

I have often wished I had more pictures of the inside of my Grandma Stevens' house.  I made so many good memories there as a kid.  But there were no digital cameras then.  You had to buy film and flash bulbs ahead of time, and often the pictures came out faulty in some way when you had them developed.  With my allowance, I couldn't afford to waste film by taking three or four shots of the same thing just to make sure I'd have a good picture.  

I do have pictures of Grandma's house in my mind, of course; but if I had photos to remind me, I'd see many details I've now forgotten.

This subject is on my mind because while looking at my Amazon Photos "on this day" pictures a while back, I saw several I had taken at Cliff's aunt's house in Versailles.  Oh, if only I had pictures like that taken at my grandma's house, I thought.  Then it struck me that Aunt Gertrude was like a grandmother figure to so many people, and a friend to everyone, I'd better be thankful for these pictures that let me go back to the time when she was happy and relatively healthy, hugging everybody and feeding all who came through the door.  So I'm going to put some of those pictures here to keep her memory alive.  It isn't like my own Grandma's house, but it's full of the same spirit of love and giving that she had.  I don't know what the occasion was on that day, because normally you wouldn't see Aunt Gertrude running around the house in her robe.  Was there a funeral, and perhaps she was waiting to dress until nearer the time?  No, she must have been recuperating from some illness, because otherwise she would have been in every kitchen picture, hovering over people.  And no plastic cups would have been used, if she'd been her usual self.  

I'll never know, unless one of the other guests remembers more than I do.  I do know she was very finicky about her appearance and would probably turn over in her grave if she knew I was showing these pictures to anyone outside the family, what with her not being dressed to the nines.  But I want these memories to be readily available for those who loved her.  

Brothers:  Phil, Donald, and Cliff, in Aunt Gertrude's kitchen.

Her kitchen was tiny, but it was the heart of her home.  She could pack a lot of people around that table, and she'd put so much food on it that there was hardly anyplace for our plates.

Cliff's Aunt Lois, his brother Phil, and his cousin Darrell, Aunt Gert's oldest son.  The aunt and Darryl have passed on.  

That's Aunt Gertrude's younger son standing at the table.  See how little space there was for the table?  Obviously the guys are just having a snack at this point.

Looks like Darrell was the cook that day.  Their cousin Dale is at the table in this shot.  I guess Darrell fixed the meal that day, perhaps on the grill; or maybe that pan he's tending is full of beans.

Cliff's brother Don, having a smoke on the porch after the meal.  Cliff misses him every day.

Darrell, Aunt Gert's son, is no longer with us

Doesn't that look like any grandmother's house you ever saw?  Pictures everywhere!  This reminds me what a pathetic grandmother I am.  It's a good thing kids usually get two sets of grandparents; that way they have a better chance of having at least one normal pair.

Cliff's sister Charlene, Aunt Lois, Donald, Aunt Gertrude, and Cliff

This entry is here to refresh my memory from time to time, and to honor one of the most loving people I've known:  Cliff's Aunt Gertrude

We all loved her so much.