Friday, October 30, 2020

A Sunday in Georgia

 A few more pictures from last weekend.

This is Jim's shop; Mae is standing in the doorway, probably saying, "PaPa, PaPa..." because when Jim is in sight, that seems to be all she wants to say.  

Our son's new tractor gave Cliff an extra motivation for visiting Georgia.  Isn't it cute?  Jim used the back-hoe to move some pretty sizable rocks on his one acre of land.  It may be a small, but it's mighty.

Mae wanted to show us how it's done. 

This is a picture of me encouraging Mae to splash her feet in a puddle, which I loved to do as a kid.  I think she already knew what to do without my encouragement, though.  We had a nice, steady rain just before this was taken.  If you wonder what I'm carrying around, I didn't have my camera along, so I used the iPad as a camera.  I thought I'd packed my camera and lost it on the plane, but when I got home I found my camera, parked right where I put it when I decided to charge the battery.  I have to say, I can't believe that's me, so skinny-looking!  I don't have to diet any more because I just can't eat as much as I used to, so I maintain my weight without thinking about it.

Daughter-in-law Deb wondered if this was a murder hornet.  It was alive when this picture was taken, but Cliff promptly squashed it before we could decide.

There we are, visiting and watching TV.  Granddaughter Lyndsay had been out late the night before at a pumpkin patch event.  She and Mae were catching up on their sleep.  That's my son's foot; thank goodness his feet resemble his dad's rather than mine, or I'd be cropping them out of the picture.

Taken Sunday:  We were enjoying the view from the back porch while digesting our breakfast.  Carolyn, Deb's mom, even came out to join us, walker and all.  They have several outside cats, and Carolyn has a favorite that she called over to her to pet.  

I wish I'd gotten a picture of Deb's mom while she was petting the cat, but I didn't think to take one.  Here's one of Deb cutting Carolyn's toenails.  Deb was accused of hurting her, but there are plenty of witnesses who will testify she wasn't harmed in the least.  Carolyn is my age, which makes me realize it could be me in that condition at any time.  We never know what the next day will bring.

Sunday Jim smoked some meat and we had a great dinner.  Deb invited all the local family members over, so there were kids playing everywhere in the pantry and in the woods.  Then came time for the Chiefs to play... and we found out they weren't showing the game down there.  However, somebody did some magic and made it happen anyway.  What a great game, and it was fun watching it with our son while the rest of the world carried on around us.

I'm so glad we went.  I appreciate Jim making the trip to see us every year, but it was fun to share their lives for awhile, too.  Deb and I agreed that really, two days is plenty of time if you're just going for a visit.  After that, it begins to get tedious for guests and hosts alike.  The hospitality was appreciated; Their home was one of the better bed-and-breakfasts we've found.  OK, we've never been to a bed-and-breakfast, but our experience there was a good one and we had plenty to eat.

By the way, the grandson was to feed the cats for us while we were gone.  I called him to see how it was going and he said, "I haven't seen the gray one at all; just Mama Kitty."  This tended to cast a slight shadow on our trip, but I put it out of mind for the most part.  When we arrived home, I got out of the car calling "Kitty kitty kitty, here Blue," and he jumped off the front porch running to meet us.  Arick said he still had not seen him in the time we were gone, so he just left the food out; each time he returned, the food was gone.  

All's well that ends well.

Enjoy a Georgia rain, won't you?  I wish I could send it to California and Colorado.  You'll hear Jim talking in the background.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

I've quit posting links from my blog on Facebook

It has always bothered me to share the links of individual blog posts on Facebook; I would resolve to quit doing that, but then four or five Facebook friends would say they really wanted me to share the links there because otherwise, they forget to check the blog.  I'd give in and go back to sharing the links.  I'm done promoting it that way.

In the first place, my blog doesn't need huge numbers of readers.  It's for me to have a way to look back at my past 20 years and remember things I've done or people I've met.  It's also a way for relatives to keep up with what we're doing.  When I shared the link on Facebook, it felt like I was pandering for readers to come and read what I had to say.  If I mentioned on Facebook I was going to stop sharing it there, just to give them a heads-up, they'd say "please don't".  That made it appear I was trying to get people to beg me to stay.     

This time, I didn't say anything to anyone on Facebook about it, I just stopped sharing the link.  At the same time, I've been trying to have less presence on Facebook in general.  Some days I still catch myself sharing too many memes and jokes, but compared to the past, I've definitely slowed down.  Social media turns life into a garbage dump, before, during, and after the elections.  I need to limit it for my own mental health.  

Yes, my readership dropped from eighty to thirty, but the people who remain are good, long-time readers who feel like friends to me.  For some reason, I actually get MORE comments directly on my blog now, perhaps because some people would read it from Facebook and then comment on the link on Facebook, which is the easier way.

So the divorce between my blog and Facebook is set in stone.  I feel much better about that situation, and you know what?  Not one person has mentioned that they haven't seen a blog post lately.  In other words, people were scrolling down Facebook, bored, happened to see the link, and having nothing better to do, clicked it to see if there was anything unusual or interesting.  I'm not all that social a person, and I'm peculiar in many ways.  I imagine less that 5% of what I write would appeal to most folks, because I have very little in common with them.

With that said, I'll be back in the morning with some more pictures and words about Georgia.

Arriving in Georgia, and our first day there

 As soon as we got off the plane and entered the building, I called our son, knowing he was waiting for us.  He was up front of this massive group of buildings, and we must have been somewhere near the back of the place.  I asked a lady who worked there in some capacity how to get to the people waiting to pick us up, and she pointed to an escalator nearby that headed down.  We dutifully went down, but saw only a hallway; there seemed to be a row of elevators a few people were waiting to board, but we saw no escape, nor had the lady mentioned elevators.  Going back to the upper level, we saw two men talking, one of whom was closing the bar in which he worked.  I asked him the same question I'd asked the lady earlier... how do we get out of here; he started to tell us, then said, "If you wait about five minutes till I clock out, you can just follow me."

The young man with him said, "Come on, I'll show you."

As it turns out, they left together, so we followed them back downstairs and found out those people weren't waiting on elevators, they were waiting for the doors to open and let them board the "plane-train".  Who knew?  At its fourth stop, our rescuers bade us goodbye, telling us the next stop would be ours.  Finally we met up with Jim and Deb, who had known we were there because I had called... but I had stopped talking to Jim in the middle of the call, so they had no idea what was happening with us.  Whew!  Thank God for people who help old, ignorant travelers, or we'd still be wandering around the place.  And thank the good Lord I was born a woman, so it doesn't bother me at all to ask strangers how to get out of a place.  Men, as I'm sure you've noticed, don't ask for help.  It embarrasses them.

It was after 9 PM when we de-planed, and it took an hour and fifteen minutes to drive to their home near Columbus.  Georgia is in a different time zone, and I think it was around midnight their time when I went to bed.  Cliff probably wasn't far behind me, but who knows?  I was sleeping like a baby.  

Saturday morning, we made the rounds.

Here's their house, with a porch on the front, and one in back.  They've always rented before, so we were anxious to see what made them finally buy a house; it wasn't hard to figure out!  They're in the country, with access to a fishing lake.  It's so peaceful and quiet; there is some traffic going past to the lake, but that's about it.  Do you see that huge plant in front of the house, all the way to the right?  It's a banana plant with little bananas on it.  Unfortunately, even Georgia isn't warm enough for the bananas to make it to maturity.    

Jim, Cliff, Deb, and I got in the golf cart and our son proceeded to give us a tour of the neighborhood.  I'd love to have a golf cart.

   Jim found a boat that needed some fixing, repaired it, and now goes fishing at Goat Rock Lake.  

This was my view from the back of the golf cart.  Look at all those Georgia pines.

We got back to the house and found granddaughter Lyndsay and her daughter, Maelynn, waiting for our return.  Here's the picture that has 100 likes on Facebook.

We saw Jim, Lyndsay, and Mae in July when they came on their yearly visit.  We hadn't seen Jim's wife for quite a while because her mother has lived with them since having a stroke, and Deb is her caretaker, so it's hard for her to get away.  Jim and Deb have both lost weight since we'd seen them.  

We absolutely love their place:  The house sits on one acre and is at the edge of government land, so there won't be anyone building a house near them.

Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


When it comes to the corona virus, I'm a believer.  I want you to know that right now, because I've seen people on the Internet say it's a hoax.  So why would we throw caution to the wind and travel at a time like this?  After all, we're old.  

I don't know, but we did.  We haven't been to visit our son and his family in Georgia for a long time, and he faithfully visits us every July.  He and his wife bought a house in the last year or two, and recently he bought a cute little John Deere tractor Cliff was interested in seeing.  We also have a great-granddaughter down there who is at a fun age.  

We always drove down before, a 12- or 13-hour journey.  Cliff has to do all the driving, and long trips absolutely wear him out these days.  Originally, the grandson was going to go along and help drive, but the trip would still wear us out, no matter how many drivers there were.  I looked at air fares and found them fairly reasonable, while knowing Cliff has resisted flying ever since his one and only commercial airline trip to Seattle for the metal plating company he worked for.  Surprisingly, it wasn't difficult to get him to consider flying this time; maybe he thought it was just a good day to die.  

Everything I've read tells me that because the air in planes circulates so often, there shouldn't be much chance of exposure to germs.  Of course, the airports are another story.  At least masks were worn throughout.  And by the way, every one of the three planes we boarded was full... not a vacant seat anywhere.  And they are using all the seats now, so people are shoulder to shoulder.

I think one of my husband's fears was that we wouldn't be able to navigate the airports and find our flights, but I assured him we'd be OK.  From 2000 to 2005, when I was working at Kohl's Distribution Center and had a little extra money, I flew alone several times:  I went to four or five "chat room reunions" to meet up with Internet friends I'd met in an AOL Christian chat room, as well as visiting my sister in her winter home in Mission, Texas, a couple times. I'll admit that I bungled my way across the skies and through airports, knowing very little about what I was doing; but I learned that if you ask for help, there's always someone who will help and advise you.  I remember one time I was walking a long hall in some big airport where I had a layover, not knowing where to go next.  It was late in the day and not another soul was in sight.  I walked and walked, finally coming out of the passageway, and saw a lone janitor.  I told him where I needed to be and he led me to my destination, which was quite a way from where he was.  I don't care if I'm embarrassed, I will ask someone... and someone always helps.  I'm not sure Cliff likes my methods, but he did find out how many kind, helpful people there are in the world.

Kansas City International Airport has always been easy to navigate, a small airport you could hardly get lost in if you tried.  That may not always be true, since they are in the middle of a big expansion, but I don't think it will be so huge that you have to ride a plane-train from one location to another, as we did when we landed in Atlanta!  I purchased our tickets and our daughter Rachel printed them off for me.  Twenty-four hours before leaving, I checked in online, something I learned from Rachel when we went to Mexico a couple of years ago; it's a good thing I did, since the plane was overbooked; at least two parties had to wait until the next flight.  

Oh, wait!  I must tell you about this:  As you may have noticed, Cliff wears overalls all the time.  He had asked Rachel, who travels frequently for her job, about all those metal buttons and hooks on his overalls.  Would they be a problem, going through security?  She assured him they wouldn't; she told us that at least we wouldn't have to take our shoes off because of our ages.  Well, the lady directing us through the X-ray DID have a problem with overalls, lectured us, and told me, "Have him wear slacks next time!"  But in the world's busiest airport in Atlanta, when we headed home, they had no problem at all sending him through with a smile.

 There was a layover in Charlotte, with a nice cushion of time for us to find our connection.   We were to land in Atlanta, where our son was picking us up.  While we waited for our next plane we ate the sandwiches I'd brought along (yes, I'm a cheapskate).

....... to be continued  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

I'm just not in the mood to blog

I just couldn't get myself in the mood today to do a big entry about our visit to Georgia.  Jet lag?  I can't imagine why, since it's only a two-hour flight from Atlanta to Kansas City.  I'd rather think this early snowfall numbed me and made me lazy.  I will do my best to share pictures and stories tomorrow.  It's cold and gloomy outside, so perhaps I have a touch of winter depression.  It's going to warm up gradually, and there will be sunshine by the weekend! 

My sister Maxine called to tell me she has some health issues:  She got sick a few days ago and was taken to the hospital; the doctor said she has a couple spots on her pancreas.  She's back home now, but they'll get her into a different hospital sometime in the next few days for an MRI and a biopsy; the hospitals are overloaded due to Covid.  Whether it's cancer or not, she will have to be operated on.  I'd appreciate prayers for my almost-93-year-old sister.  She came through a couple of major surgeries before, and I hope and pray this goes well for her.  Her attitude is accepting but positive.  As she told me, "Everybody has to die sometime, and we all know I won't be around forever."

She is the one remaining link to my childhood.  She took her turn walking the floor with me when I had colic in 1944.   

I leave you with a picture of two of the baby Tennessee Walking Horses next door.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

I wanted to do something for my hens

 After a rather sleepless night of thinking my two hens had been slaughtered, then realizing they were alive the next morning, I wanted to do something for them.  First of all, I need to tell you that I didn't quite teach those chicks the proper way to sleep when they were in the house being babied and petted.

The natural way for chickens to sleep in on a roost:  They are born with the desire to roost high, away from predators.  Of course when they have no feathers, they simply sleep in place, because they don't have the ability to fly up onto higher ground.  My chicks were raised in a big plastic tub; when they grew enough to roost on top of their waterer or feeder, they would jump up on either one.  This was a messy business, because they would then poop down in their food or water.  Yuck.  But it's their nature to roost, and they were doing their best.  Then there came a time when I thought Cliff had helped me fix up the ideal home for three future egg-layers:  A calf hutch, with attached fencing in front of it.  Now they could eat grass and bugs all day in the sun or shade; they would have a happy life there, right?

Not quite, because I guess I didn't make clear to my husband that I wanted to be able to move the house and pen (a chicken-tractor).  The three half-grown pullets would poop and scratch and within a week, there would be no edible grass for them unless they were moved.  It's the grass they eat that makes those bright orange egg yolks that have more flavor than store-bought, cage-laid eggs. 

See the difference in color?  The egg on the right is from my hen; the one on the left was bought in the grocery store; imagine how surprised I was to see that the store egg was a double-yolker!  Normally you won't find those in store eggs.

Anyhow, since their calf-hutch-and-pen couldn't be moved, it wasn't going to serve my purposes and intentions.  That's when Cliff, frustrated, said he'd just clear out half of the old chicken house for me.  So the chickens are there, house-bound, unless I turn them free.  Therein lies danger, but I'm hoping they'll stay close to home without so much time to wander.  After one got killed, there developed a strange situation:  The two tamest hens were very close and always stayed together when outside, but for some reason, Spook wasn't included in their little circle.  I got all three chicks at the same time, so why two of them seemed prejudiced toward Spook is beyond my understanding.  Anyway, with only Spook and Corona remaining, they don't stick together very well.  Spook seems to be a couple french-fries short of a Happy Meal.  She's somewhat afraid of me, and has a tendency to wander off across the road by herself.  

Here's another current "problem":  The chicks never learned to sleep on the roost!  They will perch on the roost during the day sometimes, but at night they huddle together in the same corner on the floor.  This is a unique problem, one I've never had before, and I'm sure it's because they didn't have any experience with a roost until they were almost grown.  Unfortunately, chickens poop several times a night, so they are squatting on poop from the previous nights.  (Chickens are nasty.  No wonder we worry about salmonella on the eggs we buy.)

So after thinking my remaining hens had been slaughtered all night recently, I wanted to do something for them.  I happened to recall that a next-door neighbor recently posted on Facebook that her girls had some roosters for sale; the chickens over there are the girls' project and responsibility, and they get the egg money, I believe.  I messaged her to see if they still had roosters and told her I wanted to buy one.  My hens need a man to keep them in line!  Plus, I knew he would roost, and perhaps the hens would follow his example.  Besides, I like to hear a rooster crow.

The rooster is white.  Maybe my hens are prejudiced?  

They did not follow his example the first couple nights, so this morning around 4 AM I went out, picked the girls up one at a time, and set them on the roost with the rooster.  Maybe they'll get the idea.  Oh, and I have yet to hear my rooster crow!  I get myself into the most ridiculous situations with animals, don't I?  Oh well, it gives me purpose in life, trying to teach ignorant chickens how to act like chickens.  Don't be surprised if you see me in the yard flapping my wings and crowing, trying to show the rooster how to act.

I do believe the pandemic has pushed me over the edge.  Pray for my sanity.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

It was like a bad dream

I have two hens, Corona and Spook.  I only turn them loose around 4:30 and shut the chicken house at dusk as soon as they go in for the night.  Even so, after losing one of my house-raised chicks to some animal a while back, it scares me.  You'd think I'd quit letting them free if I'm worried for their safety, but it makes them so HAPPY!  Any time I go in the henhouse, whether to get the two eggs or give them some garbage, they attempt to sneak around me and escape; when I block the door so they won't leave, Corona still squats down in front of me so I can pet her or pick her up.  

Last night I waited a little longer than I should have to shut the door, so it was almost dark.  I intended to a take the flashlight with me but forgot it.  I always peek through the door before I shut them up and say, "Are you girls in there?  Good night, ladies."

They usually have a quiet answer for me, as though they are singing in a whisper.  Last night one chicken answered, but her voice sounded like there was something wrong with her.  I peered in more closely and saw only one hen, and my heart stopped; I even felt around for the other one.  So, one more dead hen, and the other one perhaps injured?  I didn't have the heart to go take a look with flashlight in hand, afraid I might witness a bloody scene.  I came to the house so sad and disappointed that the tamest, sweetest chickens I've had since I was a kid had been brutally killed.  I told Cliff, "I think we are out of the chicken business."  He said, "That's awful, and they just started laying."

I actually had to fight back tears when I thought about my poor hens having to die a miserable, bloody death, but I managed to squelch the feeling because I seldom cry, and didn't intend to start bawling over a couple of stupid chickens.  I woke up at 2 AM, early even for me, but I was thinking about my hens and couldn't settle down to sleep again.  When Cliff got out of bed later, I told him I was going to go survey the damage in the hen house, since it was finally light enough to see.  

Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to look in, and both hens greeted me; they had been there all the time and were fine.  All that misery happened entirely in my imagination.  I was so ready to accept their loss that I didn't even go back out last night with the flashlight to see if perhaps I had been wrong.  I would probably have gotten the two hours sleep I missed, knowing they were fine.  This, my friends, is what negative thinking will do to you.

A couple days ago, my friend Paula mentioned her beloved cat dying, and now I'm wondering if I had been feeling her sorrow and thus imagined my hens had been slaughtered; stranger things have happened.  The mind is a funny place sometimes.  

You see, I can relate to the grief of losing a beloved pet.  Picture me sitting on the ground in a pasture, cradling Old Jersey's head in my lap (she was my first Jersey cow) and crying while she died from milk fever, which can normally be corrected by putting something-or-other in a vein... but the vet came three times, and it didn't work; we suspected hardware disease, but never knew.  Picture me worrying about my Sadie-dog, mutt that she was.  She couldn't eat and had a choking cough that I found out later was a piece of bone in her throat; calling my son-in-law to take me to the vet because Cliff worked nights and needed his sleep.  We didn't have the kind of money they would charge me to operate and get the bone that was firmly stuck in her throat... they tried and tried, but couldn't get to it without surgery.  I had to tell them, sobbing, to put her down.  One of the saddest times in my life, and yet?  Life without a pet to laugh at and care for and love doesn't seem like living to me.  I will have a pet as long as I am able to care for one, and I'll cry when each one dies.  Nowhere else on this earth can you find that non-judgmental kind of love... although animal experts tell us animals are incapable of love as we know it... and you can even love a goldfish, as I learned from Paula.  Yes, their goldfish had lived with them for many years.  It did tricks!  At my house, a goldfish might last a week if it's lucky.  Theirs died just a few days before their cat did, bringing a double grief for the family.

  This morning Paula wrote a letter to her dear departed Freddie and shared it on Facebook.  I asked her if it would be OK to share it here because I have some kitty-loving people who read my blog.  I warn you though, you may want to keep a tissue nearby as you read it.


My dear Freddie Cat, I really miss you, and I just want you back. I’m not sure why God chose to take you in a year full of messes, and a month full of even more, but I trust His judgment way more than my own, my precious kitty. Your mama brought kitty love to our family from that moment we found her scrounging for a meal in our trash can. Shortly after, you and your siblings arrived in her chosen special place, the lower bunk of the boys’ beds- and Timothy’s nightly residence. Who would have ever guessed what you would give us over the next 16 ½ years of life. I never would have guessed what a huge hole you would leave in my heart when you died. You were a holder of secrets I told only you; a comforter when nobody even knew I needed it. You listened to me when nobody else would. You loved me unconditionally when nobody even knew I felt like no one cared at all. Oh, Freddie, I wish you did not have to leave. I can’t believe how many times Psalm 139 has come to my mind in the last few days. I know it is for people, but I think it applies to you too. God did knit you together in your mother’s womb, and He saw and knew you in there before your parts were even formed. He also knew all of your days and that your end would be Friday, October 16, 2020, around 1 in the afternoon. He even knew that your last breath would just barely be taken in my arms. I only hope you knew you were there at that point. He knew all that even before I laid my eyes on your cute little fluffy body (well, technically, your wet, slimy body right then) when your mama birthed you on my little guy's bed. All the other pussies pretty quickly gained their little kid names, but you were still nameless until Freddie just stuck. You and your siblings were so much fun. You guys grew to race and romp all over the house. You had fun whether it was playing on the bed with David and me after the kids went to bed, snuggling with all of us, or racing down the hallway as little balls of terror. The day came too soon when we had to find homes for you all. One of you would get to stay. Every child pretty much wanted to keep a different piece of your fun family. I tripped over you one day as you were playing, and I wasn’t quite sure you were ok. In the end, that was why you got to stay. Of course, you were already very special to me at that very young age anyway. You grew into quite the teen, always bothering your mom. You weren’t perfect. One day you were just having fun playing the xylophone when you slipped and got really stuck. Before I could stop her Rachel tried to help and you attached yourself to her head. I know you didn’t mean to hurt her, but boy did you. Michael did a great job making sure you were afraid of nothing, but this made you a gentleman too. As you got older, you became the top cat of the neighborhood. Nobody could beat your scrappy self. I, on the other hand, got to clean you up after some ferocious messes. They rarely required the vet, but boy, we got good with the peroxide. You were only a few years old when you started having kidney issues. Then came kitty allergies. I think trying to give you pills was the worst thing I could ever do, and about the only time I ever questioned your love for me! You gained weight and were a fat old cat but still king of the neighborhood. I’m not sure there was a more loyal friend to be had. It wasn’t just me you were loyal to. I clearly remember, not that long ago, when a big ferocious and menacing dog stood at our fence ready to eat Max and you slipped through the gate and chased that howling, and by then whimpering, dog off out of sight down the hill. What a funny sight! Of course, turnabout is fair play, and a cat must remain loyal to his somewhat pesky little relatives. There came a day when little still blue-eyed Violet was rescued from the bush that tried to eat her by the clothesline and she joined our crew. How she was a bother to you. You didn’t care to play, and that was all she wanted. She bothered and hounded you, rode down the hallway attached to your side, and you just sighed. Eventually, you gave up, and along with Max, decided you were stuck with her. You almost always chose her side to stick up for and were the referee between the two of them. If you heard a hiss, you would come running and glare at both. If that wasn’t enough, you would go after Max, because, you know, he is a dog after all. Sarah adored you and helped you lose the extra weight you had. That really helped as you dealt with a heart murmur, Cushing’s disease and the stuff it entailed, and the ever-constant kidney stuff. You must have known she was trying to help, as you started a running campaign up and down the hallway every morning before everyone but you and I were awake for a few weeks about that time. I miss you in the mornings incredibly. My quiet times with God aren’t the same without you cuddled up against my side or laying on my legs. Going to bed and waking up are no longer favorites. I miss you most then. You will never know how much I wish I had put you on my bed your last night with us, when you couldn’t get there yourself. I knew you were uncomfortable and didn’t want to hurt you. My heart hurts so, my dear kitty. When I roll over, I no longer bump into you at my side or run into your face on my pillow, or your body trying to wrap around my head. You were such a good cat, and I miss you. The biggest problems you gave us were meowing and scratching the doorframe to go out as soon as we sat down. I guess I can replace the frame now. Nothing ever could convince you not to scratch it. I know that time helps to heal, but I cried when I hung the laundry, knowing you lay lifeless nearby. I cried when you didn’t come down the driveway to greet me after church yesterday. I cried when you couldn’t come to join me last night and this morning. You will no longer follow me down to the garden or try to follow us on our walks around the neighborhood. I miss all the meows that sounded like you were saying hello, and all those other words you learned to say. I know you were just a cat, but I loved you, and you loved me back-always. Thank you Freddie for being an extraordinary cat, and thanks to my God, who always knows best, for giving Freddie to my family. I miss you, Freddie.

Rest in peace, Freddy. If you run into a Jersey cow named "Jerz" or a dog named Sadie or Cookie or Brandy, or my horse Blue and so many others, tell them I wish I would have done better by them... and thank them for their service.

Friday, October 16, 2020

I am enjoying the two hens I have left.  Each of them lays an egg about 5 days out of a week; the hens are pretty well synchronized, both laying about the same time of day.  That time-of-day will gradually get later each day, then they'll skip a day, then lay an egg in the early morning after they've had their day off.  When we have leftovers that remain longer than leftovers should, the chickens get anything we don't want, at least as much of it as they can eat.  You'd be surprised at how many table scraps two chickens can put away:  moldy bread, leftover sweet corn, almost any sweet dessert.  The raw apple cake I made was just too much for me and Cliff to handle, and the grandson is still losing weight and only eating every other day.  There were three smallish pieces left.  Cliff said, "Are you sure this is moldy?"  "No," I answered, "but considering the nature and color of that cake, it would be difficult to see mold until it turned hairy."

That seemed to diminish his appetite for cake.

I remind myself that these hens could easily get killed just like their sister did, and I hope/wish/pray it won't happen again while telling myself not to be too angry or sad if it does.  I don't turn them out now until after 4:30, and with the days getting shorter, that only gives them two hours or less before it turns so dark that they go to to the chicken house for the night.  When I let them out of their house in the evening, they immediately begin eating grass; I often see them running after bugs, too.  I'm getting over a dozen eggs a week from Corona and Spook.  If I didn't bake so much, that would probably be enough for us, but I love to bake.   

I have been wanting a goat lately, one I can milk.  Cliff has had so much trouble from goats in the past, he has always said "No more goats!"  We've had them eating fruit trees and killing them, climbing on top of cars, getting stuck in fences with their horns on one side and their head on the other.  They're mischievous and curious, but they are also very loving.  I have lately been telling people, "If Cliff dies before I do, I'm getting a goat."  I say it mostly for the shock value, and perhaps to joke around with Cliff, but I truly would like a milk goat.  Yesterday he announced I could have a goat, although I never actually asked him for one.  I could hardly believe my ears!

So he wondered today if I have checked out goats for sale online.  I did a brief search yesterday, but I don't want one now.  Goats kid in the late winter or early spring.  I actually want to wait until early 2021 to look for one in earnest, and I want to start with a baby, which means I wouldn't be milking my goat for another year after that.  At my age, that's allowing a lot of time pass.  By the time she could have babies, I might not be able to walk, let alone milk a goat!  But the thing is, baby goats are so cute and affectionate, and even if I only had one for a pet, I don't think she'd be much trouble.  We have some adequate fences that would keep her where she's supposed to be, and if worse comes to worse, it's possible to use four livestock panels as a goat pen.  I'll have fun thinking about this project, whether it comes to fruition or not.    

Gabe is at the groomer's.  I keep forgetting he isn't in the house with me:  I was cooking dinner, slopped something onto the floor, and called for him before I remembered he wasn't here for cleanup duty.  

It's sunny, cool, and lovely.  Jacket weather, for sure.  A day goes by so fast any more, it almost makes me dizzy.  I always thought it would be boring to be old, but I haven't been bored in years!  Somebody needs to slow this little black train down. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Guess who's back?

Yesterday I decided on potato soup for dinner. I usually tell Cliff what we'll be eating at noon if I've decided what it'll be before he leaves the house; most days I have decided by then, because he doesn't often go out to the shop until  between 9:30 and 10:30 AM. That means if the noon meal is going to take much time, I've already started it by the time he's out the door. At least half our meals are warmed-up leftovers, though. Today it was potato soup and corn bread, made yesterday. I had informed Cliff that I was going to make a small batch of soup because although I like it, I don't want to eat it all week. I have a real problem making a "small" amount of soup, even when I start out with good intentions. It's OK, though, we finished it today, and it really tasted good. I wanted the leftover ratatouille out of the refrigerator, so we shared the last of that. It's a strange thing to serve when you are having potato soup, but we didn't mind. It will likely be the last ratatouille this year; with cold temperatures coming Sunday, I don't think there will be any more eggplants growing big enough to use. 

 I have good news!  Mama Kitty was back, an hour late for her supper last night; I'm sure Her Majesty didn't want to appear over-eager.  I had the food ready and waiting, and she tried to act finicky, but failed.  She was grooming herself in the first picture, then decided to take a nap on the porch, in the second.

And here's one of her a taken a week ago.

I took a short video when I was hanging out with Gabe and Blue this morning.

 Bye for now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

There is change in the air

No, I'm not talking about politics (although one can only hope).  There is a cold front coming later this week.  The mornings have been pleasant with a cool breeze, temps in the fifties. There was a brisk wind all day yesterday, so I used extra clothespins when I hung our sheets on the line; of course, with the breeze, they were dry in an hour or so.  When I take Gabe out at 4 AM, it feels autumn-like.  Starting tomorrow our highs will be in the 50's and 60's, with lows coming dreadfully close to a frost this Sunday.  I don't consider that bad weather, maybe just normal for October in Missouri.

I enjoyed church at both locations yesterday.  It's Pastor Appreciation Month, so we're having an appreciation dinner next Sunday for the pastor of the Baptist Church in town.  There have been a few more people in attendance lately, for which we are all grateful.  I'll be cooking a few things to take to dinner, so I won't attend the Methodist Church that day.  

Cliff bought two 880 Oliver tractors recently:  One was considered a parts tractor that he'd use to fix what is wrong with the other one.  The parts had set outside for five years and hadn't been running even when it was parked.  Cliff just couldn't stand walking around it wondering if he could get it running, so he fiddled around with it and soon had it running.  I peeked out the window to see which tractor I was hearing and wasn't surprised it was the parts tractor.  I will tell you, though, that sometimes that's the easiest part.  There is so much more to consider when a tractor has been tossed aside for years, so it will likely remain a parts tractor.  He isn't having the greatest success with his brother's tractor, so it's taking longer to get everything right.  He only works on it when Phil is here to work with him, so it's been set aside for the last four or five days.  I took a very short video so you can see the old junker still has a little life in her.  It isn't running smoothly, but it runs!

I've related how I feed the two cats a little wet canned food in the evening.  Mama Kitty has been hanging around the house quite a bit since I started doing that, but last night we got in the car and left for a couple of hours, so the dog and cats were going to eat supper an hour late.  Although Mama Kitty had been on the porch when we went on our errand, she was nowhere in sight when it was time for her to eat, and I haven't seen her all day today.  I think she pouts when I don't feed her the way she's wants to be fed:  She's lived in our barn for years and never seems to leave the property, but you just let us go on a road trip for a couple of days and she'll be gone sometimes for a week afterward.  I have pronounced her dead right on this very blog at least four times, but she's made it 12 years!  About the time I think I will never see her again, she shows up acting as though nothing happened.  

I have a unique problem around here:  I use bacon grease to season green beans, and I put bacon grease in the skillet when I'm making sausage gravy.  However, bacon is expensive, and two people can only eat so much of it.  The thought crossed my mind yesterday that there should be a store that sells bacon grease.  After all, there is precooked bacon you can buy, so they must do something with the grease.  I finally thought of Google (duh) and typed in "Does anybody sell bacon grease?"  

Turns out the answer is yes, but it's $14.99 for 14 ounces, which is less than a pint.  If you buy a gallon it's just $21.99, but good grief, who wants a gallon container of something sitting in the refrigerator for years!  Keep in mind, there isn't any room for a large refrigerator in a trailer house; normally that isn't a problem here, but I do have to be careful how much I put in it, or something will get lost or hidden.  I guess I'll just keep buying bacon and use the grease sparingly.

I recall when my Uncle Leo had a hog butchered, they would keep their five-gallon bucket of lard in the entrance to the cellar, where it would stay relatively cool.  Then they'd just keep a small amount of it in the house.  

I will just have to be sparing with my bacon grease.  It isn't good for us anyway... but when did that ever stop me?  OK, that's enough of my greasy talk.  Here's a picture I took of Mama Kitty atop the chicken-house-that-used-to-be-my-cabin, day before yesterday.  I don't recall ever seeing her up there before.  I imagine she had her mind set on a bird landing in the tree behind the chicken house, but in this picture, she is sleeping like a baby.

I hope everyone is having a good day.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

This pandemic has changed me

From March, when the lockdowns began, until July or August, I whined to Cliff about all the things we couldn't do.  I grouched and pouted.  In July we decided to go ahead and spend time with our local relatives, taking our risks; this gave me a better outlook.  We didn't make that decision lightly.  I know it could be the death of me and/or Cliff.  He has gone to most of the tractor club meetings, although nobody uses a microphone during the meeting, so he hears virtually nothing, but at least when the meeting is over he can visit with people.  He doesn't like going to church, which is where I get my interaction with others, so I strongly encouraged him to go to his club meetings, if only to see some other people.  But honestly, I've about lost interest.  He doesn't like the tractor drives that sometimes last for hours.  There are all kinds of tractors in those drives, so everyone has to go as slow as the slowest old tractor in the group.  Cliff doesn't care for poking along on gravel roads in the country, although I always sort of enjoyed that part of our agenda.  We're missing the annual weinie roast today.  They are driving from Lexington to Higginsville to tour the power plant there, then driving back for the bonfire at the orchard.  With Cliff's lack of enthusiasm, I really have no interest in going.  It's his hobby, after all.  

An amazing thing happened in August:  Suddenly, I didn't want to go anywhere and I didn't want to eat out.  In the past, if Cliff was getting in the car to go get tractor parts, I was right there with him... just to get out of the house.  Now I tell him to go ahead, I'm staying home.  This surprises me as much or more than it does anybody.

The latest way I've surprised myself is that I've stopped living on the Internet.  Suddenly Words with Friends went sour for me.  Then, with all the political unrest on Facebook, I stopped giving that particular corner of the Web my attention.  No more watching TV and  playing Words with Friends at the same time and getting very little joy from either.

Speaking of watching TV:  I mentioned yesterday the book I'm reading, "Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah.  He mentioned somewhere in the book that he was a comedian, so I looked for him on Netflix.  I love good standup comedy!  Sure enough, he had five shows on Netflix; I watched one this morning and enjoyed it thoroughly.  I've loved stand-up comedy ever since I used to watch "Make Room for Daddy" in the 50's:  On the show, Danny Thomas played a comedian who worked in night clubs and was often shown doing an act in night clubs.  I would stay glued to the screen every week when that show was on, just hoping he'd do a little stand-up comedy on that episode.

Many comics seem to think the more dirty words and phrases they use, the funnier they are, so I was pleased to find out Trevor Noah isn't as bad as some of them, although he'd probably offend lots of folks.  I love Bill Burr's standup routines, but he wears out the F-word using it so much.  Yes, I still listen to his podcast and watch him on Netflix.  What can I say?  He makes me laugh.  I need to laugh!  But I digress:  I'm just happy I still have four more shows of Trevor doing standup... and I'm glad to know he has a regular show on Comedy Central, too.

On another note, now that I'm spending less time on the Internet, I think I might be losing my "writer's block" of the past several years.  In the middle of my meditating yesterday morning, eleven words, part of a line, came to me.  Of course, I sent that little line on its way like a passing cloud, as one is supposed to during meditation; but when I was finished, the words came back to me and I wrote them down.  Today I have, so far, a verse and a chorus... about me!  We'll see if it goes anywhere.  Would you like to know what the words were that came to me?  You wouldn't?  Well, here they are anyway:  "If I were to write on a blank sheet of paper..."  

Yep, that was it, but I've gotten twelve lines out of it so far.  

Moving right along:  My garden keeps giving.  I haven't really been paying attention to what's out there, knowing there can't be much.  But I bent down to check a plant today and there were three lovely eggplants ready to use, so  I made a quadruple batch of ratatouille.  We never tire of it, and it's good for us.  It's a vegetarian dish all the way, made with tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, garlic, zucchini, and eggplant; I'm fairly sure it would be ok to put in the freezer for later.  I had a setback making it, at the start:  I was peeling the zucchini when I realized it was a cucumber, not a zucchini; Cliff and I had picked them out together at the store yesterday and thought they were zucchini!  I should have known better.  Perhaps you recall I've made a new rule that we will never again make a trip to the store for one item; well, Cliff really likes ratatouille and wanted to go after zucchinis, so I let him, although I feared he wouldn't find any in the town of Lexington; but he did.  Then I saw the price he'd paid, and felt bad.  It cost five bucks for four zucchinis.  I grouched about it some, but Cliff said we'd still have a lot cheaper meal that we would if we ate out.  This isn't the season for that particular vegetable (or fruit?  OK, I googled it; it's a fruit).   But even in season I pay a pretty price for zucchini.  I always had squash bugs killing the plants before they bore me anything to eat, so I don't plant them; and I don't know where all those people are I've heard about who run desperately after strangers trying to get rid of their huge crops of zucchini.  I guess that goes to show you I really don't have close friends.  

I'm finished here.  Behave yourselves, won't you?

Love, Donna


Thursday, October 08, 2020

Early morning thoughts

 At some point yesterday, Cliff made this comment:  "You should write a book.  You could tell about all the stuff we've done... the fun we had with our motorcycles, you and your horse, our tractors..."

"It's being written now," I answered.  "It's my blog.  I've been blogging since 2004 and I'm still at it.  That's the reason I keep at it, so my story will still be here when I'm gone, for better or worse."

I first began blogging on AOL Journals.  Theirs was a simple blogging platform for a beginner.  John Scalzi would suggest easy photo projects to the AOL bloggers about once a week, if I remember correctly; I was babysitting my granddaughters after school at the time; the girls and I had fun with those projects.  I was working at Kohl's Distribution Center.  Unfortunately, AOL was losing its popularity during that period and warned those of us who were using Journals that they were closing it down.  At the same time, they were going to do away with AOL photos, which was where I stored all the pictures I'd put in my journal.  They came up with a way for us, the AOL Journal bloggers, to move our writings to Blogspot (or Blogger), which is now run by Google.  Unfortunately, the pictures I had included in my AOL entries didn't make the trip to Blogger.  "My Country Life" is still online, you can find it HERE.  Once I had it transferred, I decided it best to make a new beginning, but I kept the old one for the memories:  it was during that AOL time that I visited my friend Joanna and toured Washington, DC, with her. 

This year is a difficult time in my blogging life; actually, in EVERY facet of my life.  The pandemic has limited our activities significantly, and the political scene is depressing.  I'm practically off Facebook now, and would make it official except for the connection with my family.  This past week I realized I was finally bored with Words with Friends. I removed the app from my phone; that was bound to happen sometime.  In the past I was addicted to Farmville, but eventually it just wasn't fun any more.  I won't ever get rid of Facebook, I suppose, but I don't see myself making Facebook my first stop every time I open up the laptop any more, which is what I've done for years.  

Cliff asked me to find him another library book to read.  I have to say, I'm learning what sort of book he enjoys.  While he'll read one of my favorite who-done-it books, if that's what I offer him, he really likes biographies and other true stories.  When I go to the virtual library, there are books suggested on the site, so I'll see what those look like, then go to Amazon to see what sort of reviews they've gotten.  This time I chose a book called "Born a Crime" for him.  The author is Trevor Noah, who grew up bi-racial during apartheid.  I read a little of the first chapter and decided I'd check it out for myself too, since there were other copies available.  My husband and I can have our own little book club.  We're learning about a part of the world we haven't paid much attention to, and the author has a great sense of humor.  I've laughed out loud a couple of times.  

Now, this "other copies" thing seems crazy to me.  It's a virtual book, something you can't actually feel or see.  I would think there could be unlimited numbers of books; how hard is it to make copies of a virtual book?  I suppose it helps authors make money with their creations:  some people want to be the first one to read a popular book, and they aren't going to wait until fifty others read it first.  I'm still amazed that people will buy physical books (clutter in the house) or pay Amazon to let you read some of their books every month (but not the current best-sellers) when you can own a whole public library full of books on a device you carry in your hand wherever you go.  What a waste of money!  Yeah, I should talk.  Like I never wasted any money on something that didn't make sense?  Ha!  

Have a wonderful day.   

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Husbands and wives

 I confess that for about two hours each morning, Cliff and I sit on the couch after breakfast and surf the 'Net.  We have random conversations with one another announcing some news item we saw on Facebook or sharing the fact that one of our mutual Facebook friends has a birthday.  And half the time, Cliff is looking at jokes on some crazy website.  I like a good joke, but I can read them quietly.  My husband laughs vociferously while commenting on whatever he's seeing:  "Oh, that's funny!"  "HAHAHAHAHAHA"  "Where do they come up with this stuff?"  

Sometimes he feels compelled to let me in on the humor, holding his laptop at an awkuard angle and giving me plenty of time to see it.  He and I do share a sense of humor, especially when it's just the two of us so we can say anything we want, so I do look at it.  Unfortunately, most of the jokes are not funny to me.  At least half of the videos show somebody stupid doing something painful to themselves, which only makes me feel their pain in my imagination; not funny; some of them are a little naughty... but they go overboard.  

Now that I think of it, the oldest grandson is the one who gave Cliff the link to that site!  I have a good notion not to wish him a happy birthday today.  

Yesterday I remembered having an app in the past that gave me most all the major magazines online at no charge, so I downloaded it again on the iPad.  Even though I had used the RB digital app in the past, it took me awhile to change the password I'd forgotten and figure out the whole process, but after about an hour of struggles, I was reading about Aretha Franklin in Rolling Stone, and later, a Life Bookazine about Johnny Cash.  Why had I ever abandoned this wonderful app? 

This is a tiny sample of the many magazines available.  There is a search feature so you can type in the name of any magazine to see if they have it.

This morning I decided Cliff needs this wonderful added benefit from our library, but it was even harder than doing it for myself.  For one thing, you have to subscribe through the library or the app is no good.  But when I went to the library on my MacBook, it fought with me because I was trying to log into the library with Cliff's library card.  I'd type it in, the computer would replace it with mine.  And through all this, my husband is next to me laughing like a jackal and sharing little random comments with me.  I finally remembered I made an account for Cliff on my MacBook, logged out of my account, and logged into his.  Sure enough, that worked for setting things up.  

But the iPad he uses for reading books is still registered to me, so I had to argue with the app for awhile in order to get Cliff signed in.  Before I could finish doing that, he got up, stretched, and said, "Welp, I'm gonna go ride the bike now."  

"Oh man, I almost had this done (I think).  And now you're going to take your iPad?"

Insert long sigh here.

So he's on the recumbent bike and I'm using the peace and quiet to let my readers know about the hell I live with!  (That's one of Cliff's favorite expressions:  "You can see the hell I live with."  He's usually talking about me when he says it, so I just thought I'd borrow it and use it on him.)

At least I do have him wanting the app now, since I found tractor magazines in that huge mountain of magazines.  If these were normal times, I could take my library and the iPad to the library and they'd help me do these sorts of tasks.  However, I have a book laying her that I checked out about two months ago that I can't just take it back any old time, because I'm not allowed in the library due to the pandemic.  The Lexington library doesn't have an overdue charge, so I'm OK.

So today you get a tiny glimpse of the craziness inside our house.

Have a great day.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Guess who has had three baths in three days?

 Gabe, that's who! 

I've hung four loads of clothes on the clothesline today.  I usually let Gabe go out with me; he likes to go back into the pasture behind the house and sniff around, digging at molehills and such.  However, I got involved today in hanging the last batch of clothes and forgot to keep my eye on him, and he pulled another disappearing act.  I told Cliff, "He's probably down at the ditch, and he'll likely need a bath when he returns."

It turned out to be a prophecy.  After twenty or thirty minutes he showed up at the front door, wanting in.  "Stop," I said to him.  "Let me smell your back.!"

He acted sheepish and tried casually strolling away, but I caught up and sniffed his back, which is normally where the most stink is concentrated due to him laying on his back, feet in the air, wriggling around... totally in love with the smell of death.  But no, his back still smelled like the soap I'd used on him yesterday... had I gotten a reprieve?  

Then I got wind of the same putrid odor he had on him yesterday and realized it was coming from his face.  I didn't have to get too close to that nasty beard to verify the fact that he'd no doubt been EATING the nastiness.  Meanwhile he made a run for his cage and went to the farthest back corner of it.  I grabbed the back of the kennel and tipped it forward, which got him out of hiding.  

So he's clean again.  I have resolved to keep bathing him every time he comes home stinking.  Maybe he'll figure out why I'm doing it and eventually become a classy dog.

Wish me luck on that.  It isn't over until the farts come, which will probably be about the same time the Chiefs start playing tonight.  Just in case, I'm laying a book of matches close by.

The most humiliating part?  I'm pretty sure Cliff thinks it's funny, him and his smart remarks.  

"Get a dog, she said.  It'll be fun."


Sunday, October 04, 2020

My dog has no class

Yesterday I let Gabe out and forgot about him.  When I finally went looking for him, he came running to me pretty quickly, which relieved my troubled mind.  However, when he joined me on the couch, I realized he'd been rolling in something dead... probably the rotting remains of my dead chicken in our yard, which I did find a day or so after the dog or dogs killed him in my yard.  There wasn't much left except feathers and yellow legs.  I realized at the time Gabe would end up rolling in it once it was "ripe", but I thought I'd just keep an eye on him because there wasn't much to pick up.  Like most good intentions, that's the closest I got to actually keeping him away from the corpse.  So he got a bath yesterday because he stunk to high heaven.  

I hate having to bathe a dog: I end up as wet as the dog, and so does the kitchen floor.  "Why don't you just bathe him in the bathtub?" Cliff asked.  "Because I can't get down on my knees without extreme pain," I answered.  I didn't bother to mention that I get soaked worse bathing Gabe in the tub than when he's in the plastic tote I use as his bathtub.  

Today I got home from church and warmed up dinner, since we had plenty of scalloped potatoes left from yesterday, as well as green beans.  I fried four sausage patties to round out our simple meal (there was still apple pie left, too).  As we settled onto the couch after dinner, Gabe came to lay down beside me on the couch, and that's when it hit me:  Gabe had rolled in carrion again.

So here we are, Gabe and I.  He's wet right now, but he smells decent yet again.  Two baths in two days' time.  I'm sure he doesn't even connect the bath with his stink, which he seems to think is the most wonderful cologne in existence.  But don't you love the way dogs act when they finally get out of the bath?

Leave it to me to fall in love with the Kansas City Chiefs at a time when Covid is going around.  One of their players, Cam Newton, has the virus.  They have postponed the game to Monday or Tuesday, but I imagine if anyone else tests positive they'll stop playing.  It's like this monster virus just reaches in and causes bad luck wherever it lands.  The preacher and his family went on a much-deserved vacation last week and had to come home two days early because a friend who was checking their house found their basement full of water.  I felt so sorry for them.  More things are going wrong, in every direction I turn.  Not to me, other than my dead chicken, but all around me.  I keep finding out somebody else I know has cancer.  It's an ill wind that blows no one any good, the old saying goes, meaning a loss or misfortune usually benefits someone, but I don't know anyone who is benefitting from the pandemic; I'm sure someone is.  Maybe some of us will use it as a learning experience.  

My garden is done except for the weeds, the turnips, and green tomatoes, some of which we had yesterday for dinner.  The fried green tomatoes really hit the spot, and I do believe I'll make some again in the next couple days.

I will certainly be glad when the election is over so the political ads will be done.  I have unfollowed so many political posters and anti-mask whiners on Facebook, it's rather boring now, but it's peaceful!  I may leave the settings like that permanently.  I can always go to a person's status and see what they're saying and doing, but when it's every other post on my status, it drives me nuts.  (I know, I didn't have far to go.)

Since not much is going on, I guess that's all I've got.  Be as safe as you reasonably can be.

Yours truly,