Friday, February 26, 2021


I was in the sixth grade when we left the farm where Daddy was a hired hand and moved to Kansas City.  I cried for weeks, perhaps months, for my old way of life.

I'd been a free spirit there, after all.  Mother worked all day in a dry goods-grocery store, and Daddy was busy with farm chores.  I could play with the calf in the barn that belonged to the cow Daddy milked twice a day.  There were kittens in the same barn.  I watched setting hens hatch out their babies.  In May, I found wild strawberries along the roadside, and in July there were blackberries, back in the woods.  I was in heaven, and nobody bothered me at all.

Daddy shot my old dog, Cookie, before we moved to the city.  She had a huge tumor on her belly that dragged the ground, and she was at least ten years old.  I remember hearing the gunshot.  It was a mercy-killing, but it was rough for me.

We got an apartment in Harlem, an unicorporated village just across the Missouri River from downtown Kansas City.  I had cousins nearby, and that helped me make the transition from country to city.

Most people, when they hear "Harlem", think of New York City.  Well, Kansas City's Harlem was all white folks, but it was a very poor neighborhood.  There were times I felt unsafe on the school bus.

However, I found some pleasant diversions in Harlem.

Back then, the big airport in Kansas City was the Municipal Airport, and it was only a few blocks away.  Every time a plane took off, it messed up our TV reception.  In summertime, I'd walk down there and watch airplanes taking off, and dream about the romantic places they were headed.  Me and my mom once met Pat Boone's plane when it landed, and on the front-page picture in the Kansas City Star, you could pick out me and my mom reaching toward Pat as he got off the airplane. 

The lady in the left-hand corner, foreground, is my mother.  Her head is covering up my face, but that's me on the left in front of her.  You can see Pat Boone clearly in front of everybody.  She is holding my camera because I had hopes of getting close enough to Pat Boone to have a picture taken with him.  Fat chance!

And then there was the levee.  I'd go up there, walk right down to the riverbank, and watch the strange (and sometimes nasty) things floating past.  I could go right up to the ASB bridge and climb steps that took me to the top, where cars whizzed by.  Below, you see my father leading me and my cousins down the river side of the levee.  I went down there alone, many times.  That's the ASB Bridge in the background.  Back when this picture was taken, it served cars and trains.  Now it's only used by trains... I think.

Underneath that bridge I'd see evidence of the places where hoboes had camped:  traces of campfires, whiskey bottles, and sardine cans (now I find out sardines are one of the safest seafoods to eat, because they are at the bottom of the food chain).

That's some of my Allen cousins.  I loved to go up those steps to where the cars were zooming across!  There was a sidewalk all the way across, and I suppose when the bridge was built in 1911, a lot of people walked across to downtown Kansas City.  Mother and Aunt Ruby did that once.  I thought it was great fun!

These are some of my Allen cousins (my dad's side of the family).  They spent a week with us, shopping for school clothes.  We all had our new can-can petticoats on.  You gotta love the 50's!  This was our yard in Harlem, looking across the street.

My parents became home-owners in Harlem, then sold that house and escaped as soon as possible to "Kansas City, North".

Isn't it strange that I can have so many good memories of such an impoverished place?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

I'm out of my element

I'm messing with family trees now, which can be pretty dangerous:  I am hopeful of doing a family tree for my husband, as well as getting my own family tree done.  On my mother's side, my cousin Pauline has done an excellent job of investigating and has us going far, far back.  Thanks to WikiTree, I've found more information about my father's geneology than I've had before.  

I know Cliff's mother's line (Silvey) goes back a long way, thanks to the fact I once saw a huge chart at a reunion in the Ozarks once.  The Silvey tree goes back to Charlemagne.  That impressed me greatly at the time, and I announced, "Hey, look at that!  Charlemagne is on there!" 

Whereupon a distant relative made a racist comment insinuating ole Charlemagne might have been from Africa.  But I digress.

I somehow have created a daughter that never existed, and here's what happened:  I listed my daughter on my family tree, then also added her to my husband's family tree.  Suddenly I had two daughters named Rachel, born on the same day.  There is a merge feature, and I will eventually find out how to use it.

The reason I've never tried to do all this stuff is because it takes time to learn things, and I never want to take the time.  I was very happy to see a lot of relatives added to my dad's family tree immediately, simply because a second cousin has done one.  That is encouraging.  

Cliff doesn't get it.  He doesn't understand why anybody cares about the people who "made" us.  I had to force him to do his DNA, and he still doesn't understand why I'm so fascinated with it.  He has many, many second cousins and beyond that have shown up on 23 and Me.  

I did my DNA with  We are both about as white as people can be.  All these years I wanted to think I got my curly hair from Africa.

Here's what my DNA says about me:

Here's Cliff:

Wish me luck, and let's hope I get rid of my daughter's non-existent twin before long.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Mother's autograph book

This is an old post, copied and pasted from my old blog that has been deleted.  I found my deleted blog by going to "Wayback Machine".  So the one aunt I mentioned who was alive when I wrote it is, of course, not living now.

My mom saved things.  Not useful things with monetary value, but "keepsake" things that reminded her of pleasant times.  Letters by the score; an old candy bar wrapper and a chewing gum wrapper given to her by some beau; even some guy's cigarette that had been drowned in horseplay as a bunch of youths were cutting up and having fun (the tobacco long since disappeared, leaving only the paper with a burnt edge, but it's in an envelope with writing on it that tells the whole story).  Mother passed away early this year, and I've rather enjoyed looking at things she saved. 

One of my favorite things out of Mother's store of keepsakes is her autograph book.  I think she may have gotten it for Christmas in 1931, since the earliest dated entry is from late December, 1931.  Some of the names are only familiar to me because I heard Mother speak of these folks fondly as old friends, through the years.  Some would eventually be her inlaws, like this one:

That's my Aunt Gladys (one of my few aunts still living), my dad's sister.  All my mom's siblings had an entry.  Here's one from Uncle Carl, who passed away last year:

But here's my favorite, and if it weren't for the familiar, left-handed scrawl, I wouldn't know it was the man my mom ended up marrying in December of 1932... my daddy.  For some reason, he only signed his initials:

It's history!  Maybe only my history, but it's precious to me.  And some cousins at Sunday's reunion asked me to scan some pages for them.  Which is the reason I am sharing them with you.


Monday, February 22, 2021

A letter to my mother from her sister, Ruby

I went to my original Blogger blog to copy entries with some of my mom's letters only to find out my old blog, the one I transferred from AOL Journals, has been deleted.  It isn't there.  I panicked, then went to Google for help.  There's a site called "wayback machine" that brought it back for me, so I can copy the important entries and put them here.  I will be predating them as I find them, so these will at least be here while I'm using this blog.  They will be showing up one at a time.

Here's the content of a letter to my mom from her sister, my Aunt Ruby, written in December, 1938. It tore my heart out the first time I read it. This was before antibiotics, and you can read between the lines and see that she thought her baby (about age 2, I think) was dying. For the most part, I used her (mis-)spelling. See if you feel what I felt, reading this. By the way, my cousin Gerald lived into his 80's, dying a couple years ago. Before he was born, Aunt Ruby had lost an infant daughter to pneumonia, which probably is the reason for a lot of her concern here.

Rippey, Ia.

Tuesday nite

Dear sister Lola:

I was sure glad to get your letter today, Lola. You don't know how much good it done me. It's so dreadful lonesome so far from everyone I know and my dear baby so sick. He has pnuemonia. We have had the doctor twice. He is coming back.

Well now it's Wednesday morning. That's as far as I got when Gerald took suddenly worse. We worked with him till 10:30 then called the doctor back again. He has had convulsions and was out of his head, talked so crazy. He had pluercy and Lola he is still awful sick. The Dr. is coming back again today. Can you every realize how awful it's been. We never got stritened up even and in a neighborhood and don't know a soul. Even had to get a strange doctor. He's from Rippey & he sure seems nice. He has been so good every time he cam but what I want is my baby to get well. The Dr. says he is doing alrite but that it takes time. I wish I was close to some one I knew. Mrs. Hank has been up the last two nites & stayed with us but she has 2 little kids and can't stay away. Poor little Gerald is so sick I haven't wrote Mom yet. We are a mile from the mail box and I can't get away u no. But I thought maybe L (her husband, Lloyd) could go at noon and mail them.

Lola, Lloyd wanted me to tell you to be sure and not mention him not being well when you rite post cards because our mail is rite with theirs and they bring it when they get theirs so don't mention it ever on a card. I think he is improving but we can't think of anything now only our baby.

If little Gerald gets well that's all the Xmas L & I ask for. It is costing a heap but what's money. If you can't have your Lovin little babies so our Xmas won't be what it might. but just so Gerald gets well. I sure did wish for Dr Gunn. It just made me sick to call a strange Dr. but we couldn't wait to get one so far.

I'll be so glad to see you kids come up.

I will stop and send this to the box by Mrs Hunt. The Dr. came again while ago & Gerald is an awful sick boy yet. The Dr will be back again. I'll let u know when I can but u write and come.

Your blue sis


Saturday, February 20, 2021

 I've been looking through the daily poems I used to write between 2000 and 2004, when I worked at Kohl's Distribution Center.  Since my goal was a poem every day, I usually just threw any old thing together in the morning, because I had to be at work at six AM.  Some I wrote are "almost good", and could be improved; some of them, although the rhyme scheme and meter might be perfect, are trivial and downright stupid.  

I don't consider the one I'm sharing to be "good" in any way, but I know what triggered it.  My knees were never a problem until I worked at Kohl's.  They popped and cracked, but I don't think I had any real pain until 2002.  After three years at Kohl's spending every day walking on concrete as fast as I could, I was in incredible pain by end of each day.  I wrote a few whiny, self-pitying poems like this one. 


February 4, 2004

Walk while you can, young person; 

Frolic and jump and play.

For once you get arthritis, dear,

All that just goes away.

Bad health comes to haunt you,

Sometimes without a warning.

Before you know it, you are taking

Medicines each morning.

Read every day, my children; 

Cherish what books you find.

Age does a thing to vision.

And you may end up blind.

Aches and pains will visit.

Each dawn, I wake with pain.

I limp and take my Tylenol

And try not to complain.

Life is still worth living,

And until things get worse,

I will not pack my bags to leave,

So do not send the hearse.

Isn't that silly?  And this is AFTER I changed a few things in the lines.  I can't even believe I saved some of these.  It gets worse, though:  I stumbled across one poem I wrote about toe fungus.  I won't be sharing that one.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Snow is melting

We waited until 10:30 AM yesterday to drive the 15 miles to Oak Grove Walmart to pick up Cliff's prescriptions; we'd heard some of the back roads were still treacherous, but we didn't have any trouble.  We went to the bank to get our cash for the month, since the bank is just across the road from Walmart.  Cliff was having so much trouble breathing, he said we'd go on to Costco for our glasses, but we'd just get them and leave.  Since he could barely make it to the garage, I didn't think he could have walked all over that big store.  It was noon when we departed Walmart, so we went to PT's for a tenderloin sandwich, which we split and ate in the car.  It's a great place to eat.  From there, on to Costco. 

We saved thirty cents per gallon on gasoline at Costco.  

Cliff got a different kind of inhaler, as well as steroids and an antibiotic.  It was probably the steroid that had him feeling better by evening.  Today he can breath much better, but he tires easily because he hasn't been about to breathe for so long; that keeps him from doing anything.  He went out to tackle the world this morning and came dragging back to the house wondering what happened.  Now he's at the shop again.  He is very happy to be able to breathe!

I read that 58% of asthma cases are inherited:  Cliff's youngest sister has had it most of her life.  His half-brother, Phil, has had it for at least fifteen years.  His Aunt Gertrude suffered with it for her whole life and was in the hospital several times a year toward the end of her life.  Cliff's mother died from asthma:  She couldn't get her breath lying in bed, so she would sleep in her recliner, which is where she died, still in her sixties.  She was working for the widow of a doctor in Oak Grove, living with her and caring for her.  I think maybe they were taking care of one another, really, but his mom was the one getting paid.  

For quite awhile, we've used someone else's Costco account.  I had my own card, with my picture on it, but it was given to me by a former co-worker because she had one Costco card she hadn't assigned to anyone.  That was wonderful, because I didn't have to pay that yearly fee.  We used it to get Cliff's previous hearing aids and our glasses.  This time, though, they've changed the rules; you have to be paying for your own membership to get those perks.  So in order to get his hearing aids at Costco, we had to get our own card.  Believe me, it was worth it, considering their hearing aids are $1,800 instead of $5,000 like they are so many places.  My Russian Jewish friend on Facebook was the one who told me about their hearing aids and glasses.  He's saved us a lot of money along the way.  He also cost me some money once.  I had always wanted to travel by train, and... well, let's say he encouraged me and told me some of the ins and outs of train travel.  For our fiftieth anniversary, Cliff and I rode a train to the Grand Canyon.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  If I played the lottery and won, I would take the train from Chicago to California.  That won't ever happen, but I can dream.  

Cliff paid quite a bit for his first hearing aid, and it was only for one ear because he was too deaf in the left ear for a hearing aid to help.  He got the cheapest one they had, and hardly ever used it because it picked up background noise, but it didn't help him hear people talk very well, especially in a crowd where everybody talks at once.  He said it sounded like a chicken house to him.  Then he went to Costco for his next one, which worked much better.  They still couldn't do anything for his left ear.  However, he actually used this one.  It worked, and he could push a button to help with the background noise.  

It got to the point his hearing faded again, so he went back to costco and they turned it up for him.  Not only that, but technology moves so fast that they now had the ability to get his deaf ear working with a hearing aid!  

After three years, they couldn't upgrade it any more.  But the new ones are better yet, and he can hear people on the cell phone now because these connect via bluetooth.  It's a miracle!  When he lost so much of his hearing, I figured he'd finally get so deaf that a time would come nothing would help; instead, the hearing aids keep improving faster than his ears are fading, and he's hearing so much better.

I do have great good news!  The Kansas City area Covid numbers are dropping by 50% every week lately.

The temperature is 29 and is supposed to get down to 14 degrees.  The snow is melting like crazy already.

Is that Spring I smell around the corner? 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A commenter made my day.

I wasn't quite feeling up to par the last couple of days; my acid stomach came back to haunt me.  It was my own fault:  I'm on Omeprazole full time, have been for a few years.  Every once in awhile I try to wean myself off it because of the side effects, which include difficult, burning, or painful urination (I have a history of UTI's); stomach problems (really?  I'm taking it for my stomach acid!); lupus; and a myriad of other problems.  I'd not taken one for a week, and the burning tummy was back with a vengeance.  I took two, waited the necessary 20 minutes and ate like I'm supposed to... just some soda crackers... and spent a miserable day.  Yesterday I took one capsule and felt a lot better.  Today I only took only one and I am back feeling pretty good.  I won't skip any days for at least a week.  They had me on 2 a day for a long time, and I'm just happy to be able to get by with only one.

A new visitor to my blog named Jim left a comment here about an old blog entry of mine; that comment is the very reason why I allow people like him to comment; many bloggers won't take that chance.  I rarely get spam in my comments, but I delete them as soon as I find them when I do.  It's worth leaving things open to all comers.   Here's the entry his Google search landed him on.  He left a link to a youtube video that had me smiling the whole time I listened to it.  I'm a fan of Arlo and Pete Seeger anyway, but this was just what I needed this morning. 

Cliff's asthma is really acting up.  He's a typical man, so he tries to hide these things from me until it gets so bad he gets nervous about it.  He always thinks he can "wear it out".  That may have worked when he was younger, but at our ages, it isn't wise to put things off; he can barely walk out to the garage.  The last three days, his chest has been hurting, so I wouldn't be surprised if he has pneumonia.  We called the pulmonologist; he ordered prescriptions for an antibiotic and something different the for asthma.  When the back roads have had time to thaw a little, we'll go get the prescriptions.  Oh, and Cliff has an appointment next Wednesday that I didn't even have written down, so he can talk to the doctor about any issues.

So I've been doing any outside work, most of which is my job anyhow:  I've shoveled off sidewalks and porches and gone to the mailbox and made several trips to the chicken house every day.  Don't forget taking Gabe out to potty!  The temperatures are going up into the 50's next week.  

While I was doing my chores today, I took my camera outside into the sparkly morning.

There are no clothes on the clothesline today.

Here's the pussy willow my cousin Betty gifted me.  In the background is my "bodha tree" otherwise known as cottonwood.  Like the old song says in the movie "Tammy",  it really does whisper in summer.

It doesn't show up as well as I'd like, but the bottom half of the rooster's wattles (the thing hanging down below his beak) is as black as can be.  It got frozen.  I'm wondering if that part will just wither up and fall off; I've seen slightly frozen combs on their heads before, but never the wattles.

Alright then, I'm outta here.  We're going to Walmart for the prescriptions.  Our new glasses are ready at Costco, but Cliff isn't sure if he can walk that big store, and he'd die before he'd be seen riding a mobility scooter.  Men!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Listening to the music

I envy people who can listen to music on a radio or device all day long.  I love various kinds of music, but if I listen to it an hour or so, even my favorite music drives me crazy and I have to have silence.  I used to listen to songs as I cooked, but at this age I need to concentrate on what I'm making.  Every time I try listening to my favorite podcast or CD while cooking, I will mis-measure something or leave an ingredient out.  Dementia?  If that's what it is, I hope it helps me forget the past year, because I've been depressed so often this winter, some days.  If I let myself think too much, it takes all the strength I have not to cry, although there's no reason I should feel that way.  

Enough of that!  

Spring is only a month away; I'll be fine then.  I'll probably be OK once it gets up to 40 degrees, to be honest, because when I can walk around freely outside out in the sunshine, I'm happy.  I saw stars in the sky when I took Gabe out this morning and wondered whether we'd have sunshine today. says it will be sunny this morning in Wellington, then turn to partly cloudy.  I get most of my weather reports on; that way, I can check the forecast any time of day without having to listen to 500 commercials before I find out what the weather is!  I can also type in other towns anywhere in the world and see how they are faring.  Yesterday I checked the temperature in Mission, Texas, where my sister and her husband went every winter to escape the cold of Kansas City.  After he died, she still drove down there alone until she was around 87... over 1,000 miles from Kansas City; then she sold the place.  It was 27 there yesterday, so I suppose the grapefruit crop is ruined for the year.  

2021 is saying to 2020, "Hold my beer and watch this!"

I don't know if poor Mama Kitty would have lived through these brutal temperatures without her converted ice chest to sleep in, although I imagine she would have survived.  She spends 24 hours a day in her igloo cooler keeping warm as possible, only getting out to drink, eat, and relieve herself in the snow.  Her condo is right outside the front door, so if I open our inside door to check on her, she comes out and lets me know if she wants to eat and drink.  Yesterday I tried my best to get her to come inside to eat.  She's having none of that!  She doesn't want to be trapped anywhere; that's why I'm surprised she uses her little house on the porch.  Of course for at least six hours through the night, she has Blue snuggling with her, which probably doubles the heat her body is getting.  Blue is in the house all day while it's so cold, except when he needs to go outside.  He and Gabe have been my salvation during this hard winter; between the two of them, they lighten my mood and make me laugh, even on the worst days.  A couple of days ago, Blue stayed out long enough to kill a woodpecker, play with the carcass for a half-hour or so, and then leave it on the porch as a gift for me when he was done. 

Evergy is doing that thing where they say they will shut off electricity for 30 to 60 minutes for everybody at different times.  The grandson said he didn't think they are doing it in the country.  I hope he's right, because we have a well with an electric pump.  We are without water when we don't have power:  No flushing, no dish-washing, no showers, no coffee for Cliff or tea for me.  However, we'll deal with it if it happens.

Here is what keeps me laughing:  The escapades of Blue and Gabe.  We get to watch these wrestling matches several times a day; the cat is always the one to attack first.  He slinks and stalks Gabe, then surprises him by jumping on top of him... and the wrestling begins!

Monday, February 15, 2021

Hard times in 1939

I was looking through my poem box when I noticed a yellowed old envelope between a couple of pages of poems .  My mother saved a lot of correspondence throughout her life, and this turned out to be a letter written in 1939 from an aunt and uncle.  This must have been the time my dad was a hired man for Ted McCoy, since they were wanting my parents to talk to a Ralph McCoy.  My 93-year-old sister remembers Ted McCoy.  I'll have to ask her about this Ralph, next time I talk to her. 

I didn't know Uncle Raymond and his family very well.  I remember them coming to visit us in Eagleville in the 50's, and then one time they visited us here, in the 70's when my mother and dad were living on our place; Daddy had lung cancer, which usually doesn't end well; so I imagine Uncle Raymond wanted to visit his brother one more time.  They had moved to California in the 50's, I think, and lived there for the rest of their lives.  

 My dad, like several uncles on both sides of my family, made his living working for farmers; they changed jobs a lot during the Depression.  This, of course, is all before my time; I was still five years in the future when this letter was written.

Ridgeway, Mo.

                                                                                                                                                  Jan. 8, 1939
Dear Bro and Sis and Children

Well we received your letter this afternoon and was very glad to get it. 
How are you folks?  We are fine.  Raymond working everyday.  I am not doing much of nothing.  I have been piecing on a quilt the last week.

It seems a little behind time to think about Christmas but we had a swell time and certainly received lots of nice presents and got lots more today.  I certainly got lots of dishes.  Guess that is one of the main things in housekeeping.

Well I think Raymond is getting dissatisfied with his work here.  So he said for you to go and see Ralph McCoy and see what kind of a deal he wants to make.  We want $30 a month, a hog to butcher, and a cow to milk.  For you to find out when he wants us to move in?  Please ans. by return mail or as soon as possible.

What did you folks do today?  We stayed at home.  My folks and the neighbors was over to spend the day. A fine time, first time my folks had ever been to our house.  Our little house isn't very nice looking but we seem to be awful happy and contented here.

We haven't saw Dad Allen's since Wed. night they was down awhile.  Dad Seemed to be feeling pretty good.  Saw Bill and Gladys this eve.  They are fine and they have two awful sweet kids.

Raymond said for you to go up and see him the night you get our letter.  Looks like we're asking a lot but maybe we can do that much for you some day.

Well I will close hoping to hear from you soon.
Write and come down                                                                                                      Oodles of love,      
Raymond and Marie
P.S.  I want him to give me wood to chop

Hard times, weren't they?  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

South Padre Island memories

 I try and remember to look at all the "on this day" photos at Amazon Prime.  Boy, am I glad I looked this morning!  My daughter, her three children, and I were visiting my sister in Mission, Texas, sixteen years ago today.  I don't drive, so my daughter had the job of driving us from the Kansas City area to Mission.  I've always told her she should have been a truck driver; give her a big bag of chips and a Diet Coke, turn up the radio, and she'll drive for hours.

These photos showed up on the perfect day because right now, it's officially one degree here; that's supposed to be our high for the day.  Oh, but these pictures!  I remember this day well.  We had a picnic on the sand dunes because a little sand on a meal never hurt anybody:  Why do you think they call them sandwiches?  

Maxine sold her Texas place about five years ago.  Boy, I wish some other relative would get a place down there.  I will never again taste the sweetness of grapefruits straight from the tree, warmed by the sun.  I have to force down the sour grapefruits I buy at the grocery store.  

Feel free to imagine yourself on a beach at Padre Island.

Me, my sister Maxine, and 3 grandchildren at the top of a lighthouse just before crossing over to South Padre Island.

Apparently my daughter was taking the pictures.  

The water was cold! 

finding seashells
finding seashells

I'll leave you with a poem I wrote, this one in March of 2003 when I was working at Kohl's.

Donna Wood

I'll go to work this morning and I'll process clothes and shoes.
The time will fly, as always, if there's plenty work to do.
I'll watch my fellow workers, and I'll study all their ways,
And try to find some meaning in the things I learn today.

Perhaps I'll write a poem about all the people there.
If someone needs compassion, maybe I'll be one who'll care.
Or maybe I'll be self-absorbed and wish they'd go away:
No matter what occurs, there are some things to learn today.

And when this day has ended, I may have some deep regrets
If I've responded wrongly toward the people I have met.
But even if I did things in a false or selfish way,
It's all part of a process, and I'll learn some things today.

The only day that's wasted is the one where nothing's learned.
Of course it's nice if I have fun and there's some money earned,
But my eyes are wide open to a much more lasting pay:
The best reward for living is the things I've learned today.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Alaska Hat

Back around 1980 or so, Cliff's sister divorced her then-husband.  His brother worked in Alaska, and at some point he gave his brother and my sister-in-law some keepsakes.  Cliff's sister ended up with a couple of those and passed them on to me, and that's when I found out it's possible to fall in love with a stocking hat.  Before I show you the picture of me  wearing the hat today, I'll show you this one that's as old as the hat, so you will know I didn't always look like an old hag.  I was no beauty; I've always had dark circles under my eyes and ugly teeth, but I wouldn't mind looking like that now.  I wouldn't mind having the dog back, but she's crossed over the rainbow bridge.

I got this dog, Suzie, from the same sister-in-law who gave me the hat

Yes, this has been my favorite hat for over forty years, and it's still not falling apart.  I used to call it my lucky hat.  I've probably gone on enough winter walks in that hat to have walked across the state of Missouri and back; when I was milking, I'd lean my head into the cow's flank, and the hat kept my hair from smelling like a cow, as well as keeping me warm.  Cliff  has a Carhartt hat now that he prefers.  

So why am I talking about the hat?

This is a box full of poems I haven't looked at in perhaps five years.  Around the year 2000, and for the next few years after that, I printed off every poem I wrote and saved it; I was attempting to write a poem every day (some were really awful).  

For the last two days I've had the strongest feeling that I needed to look through the poems in that box.  I found one I'd written about the Alaska hat, right on top, and didn't get any further.  I don't think that's what I was supposed to look for, but .  I would have looked further, but I thought I could use it for a blog topic, and I needed one today.  I've omitted one verse, and it's the funniest part of the poem.  But there are personal things in it my sister-in-law would kill me for sharing on the Internet.

March 6, 2004
Donna Wood

It's just an old, black stocking cap that I've had now for years.
The weave is thick; it fits just right, and covers up my ears.
It says "Alaska Pipeline Project" on a yellow patch.
Although I've searched for ages, I can never find its match.

It's not at all becoming, but it's comfortable and warm.
I've worn it out to milk the cows through many winter storms.
I've owned the thing through thick and thin, through skinny and through fat,
And I am quite attached to it.  I really love that hat!

When spring arrives and I put my beloved cap away, 
Then fall approaches, and I've often felt a deep dismay
Not knowing just exactly where I put the thing last fall,
But knowing I MUST find it, or I can't go on at all.

It's funny how a silly hat would mean that much to me.
No other cap would feel the same or have such history.
I can't explain my fondness for the hat, or tell you why;
I only hope it doesn't fall apart before I die.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Everybody talks about the weather

Mother Nature wants attention, apparently, so she's decided to try and freeze everyone in the midwest to death.  All told, I probably spent a miserable hour outside yesterday, bundled up like a mummy tending to animals.  We've had highs around fifteen degrees up to now, but guess what?  Sunday the high for the day will be one degree, with a low of minus seven.  I'm staying home!

The thought of one more week of weather this cold is depressing, but when I feel like having a pity party, I remind myself that for the first 12 years of my life, I had to use an outside toilet, privy, outhouse... in Iowa and north Missouri, we called them toilets.  If you've never sat down on the cold wood of a privy seat and felt the north wind blowing against your bare butt about 40 miles an hour as you relieve yourself, you've never lived.  Those toilets were drafty!

At least my mother put a chamber pot under my bed on the coldest days of winter, so I didn't have to go outside first thing after waking up.  She even emptied the pot, later on in the day.  No wonder I'm spoiled.  On cold nights she would also put a hot water bottle by my feet to help warm me up when I first hit those cold flannel sheets.  No wonder I once asked Mother, "Are we rich?"  She laughed at that, but I was serious!  With a pot under the bed and warm feet IN my bed, I felt like I was in the lap of luxury. 

The first inside bathroom we had was in Harlem, an unincorporated area of Kansas City.  No more going outside to the toilet!  For a few months we lived in a tiny three-room apartment with RUNNING WATER (didn't have to carry water into the house a bucket-full at a time).  There wasn't any hot water, but we were moving up in life.  Oh yes, and we shared the bathroom with two, and sometimes three other families, but we were all related, and that didn't seem like a problem to me at the time.  

We only lived in the apartment until my parents found jobs and got back on their feet financially, after losing their job at the switchboard in Eagleville.  They weren't fired, but times were changing and those switchboards were no longer needed.  Gone were the wooden telephones with a crank on the right-hand side that hung on a wall in most homes.  It was 1956.

When I got home from school, both my parents would still be at work.  An aunt and uncle lived in the apartment directly below us, so I'd go down there and watch TV with my cousin, Alice.  It wasn't long before my parents bought a television; Mother said otherwise, they'd never get to see me, because I'd be down there with Alice, watching TV.  

When we first got the television, and before my mom found a job, I came home from school to see her crying in front of the TV more than once.  Why?  Because she was watching "Queen for a Day".  Sometimes she was crying sad tears because some ladies told such unhappy stories; other times, she shed happy tears when the woman with the most pitiful story won the prizes.


Memories.  That's what keeps me going these days.

I'm just putting this picture here because it makes me smile.

And just in case you want to see what my mother was crying about... 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Good news!

 When Gabe and I made our first trip outside this morning, I looked down at the cat condo expecting to see Blue peek out... but Mama Kitty came slinking out, followed by Blue!  So now there will be two cats sleeping in there together, keeping one another warm.  I was sure MK would rather die than cuddle up with some wannabe cat, but obviously she chose comfort over everything else.  I am thankful they are going to be OK when the 10 below zero nights hit us this weekend.  I intend to take the rags out of the condo and put straw in it instead, because several articles I read online say that's the warmest solution for them.  Other than that, my job is done.

I have a video of a crazy cat and a picture of my pets to share.

Lately Gabe has made a point of using Blue as a cushion to sit on like you see in the picture below.

Gabe does this two or three times every day.  He seems to think he is humiliating the cat, but Blue isn't bothered by this at all, although the look on his face seems to ask "Why?".  I guess I should cut the tags off my dog-and cat-beds, right?    

In other good news, Cliff and I received our first covid vaccine shot, the Pfizer kind.  March 3 we will receive our second one.  I have a sore arm, just like I always have had with the flu shot.  Getting the shot was quick and easy.  We only had to wait fifteen minutes afterward instead of the thirty minutes others have said they had to wait.  

Stay warm!  This morning at 6:30 the temperature is 10 degrees, but it's plunging even lower for the weekend.  We could get into the below-zero territory and stay there for a few days.  It's depressing, but we have heat and a warm, dry place to live, not to mention plenty of food.  I'm thankful for that, and so happy that the two cats have decided to cooperate in order to stay warm.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Cat worries

We're having single-digit temperatures, and soon we are forecast to have a LOT of below-zero days.  It's miserable now, and I feel so bad for the animals.  Especially old Mama Kitty.  She carried what was left of her litter of kittens over here when her owners moved, 12 years ago, and never left.  Mama Kitty scrounged for a living for a while before I took pity on her and her brood and started feeding them.  I didn't want her to become one of those window-screen destroyer-cats, and I didn't want her hanging around at the front door, so I fed her and her babies in the barn and didn't pet or handle them.  

Mama Kitty (MK) has lived on her own before she came here, eating out of trash cans or killing mice to eat.  She does not want to live in a house with people.  Put her inside a building and she panics.  One time we set a hav-a-heart trap near the chicken house to catch a raccoon; Mama Kitty smelled the bait, went in, and was trapped until morning.  When I found her and opened the cage door, she flew out.  And now, if she sees a baited trap, she ignores the bait.  When we go somewhere nearby in the car, Cliff often leaves our garage door open.  Usually MK will be in that garage sitting on the seat of a Famall B tractor as we approach, but by the time we are in the garage, she has streaked out of there.  She's been shut into buildings a few times and does not intend for that to ever happen again.

She didn't show up for supper on Sunday, and yesterday I still had not seen her around.  Then after noon, I went in the barn looking for something and there she was, greeting me with her almost inaudible "meow". I gave her some dry cat food, then came to the house to get some wet food for her, for which she was very thankful.  She's usually a slow eater, but she made that wet cat food disappear pretty fast.  I took out a little water, knowing it would turn to ice before long.  I take the chickens hot water to pour on the ice in their water pan and melt enough for them to have a drink.  I do that twice a day, and they seem to do OK with that.  

I plotted and schemed:  How could I make a warm place for her?  Cliff has a little space heater going in his shop to keep the water from freezing, so maybe she'd be OK in there.  I tried to call her out of the barn and lead her to the shop, but I should have known better.  She wouldn't even touch one foot to the snow, when I opened the door of the barn.  I had cat litter from when Blue was a kitten, and I had the pan to put it in, so I took that to the shop.  Then I picked MK up and carried her into the shop, shutting the door behind us.  I should have known better, because she remembers being accidentally shut in there a couple times.  She went crazy.  

So I tried something else:  When we first got my cat, Blue, Cliff took an old ice chest and cut a hole in the side for a door; you've probably seen this suggested for feral cats on the Internet somewhere.  It's a small enough area that the cat's body heat will keep it somewhat warm in frigid temperatures.  I took it to the barn, thinking perhaps if she got in it she might feel warmer and like it.  Ha!  I opened the lid to put her in, because I knew trying to thread her through that hole that serves as a door would terrify her.  Well, when I put her in via the top, I couldn't even shut the lid fast enough to hold her in.  So I am at the point where all I can do is take her food and water.  She's lived through at least 11 winters, maybe more.  She'll likely be fine.  But I still had a slight problem.

Remember, I said Blue would not be be a house cat.  Now that it's cold, he does spend most of his daytime hours in here with us.  If nature calls, he goes to the door and waits for me to open it.  He's almost perfect as a house cat, but if I let him stay in at night, he'll be on counters and tables and tearing up the curtains; he needs to be supervised.  I've never kept him in at night, but I know his ways.  And I will NOT have a stinking litter box in the house.  I could take him to the shop at night; he'd be fine.  But he's a destroyer, so I'm scared to do that.  He was still a small kitten when he completely ripped up a $300 tractor seat that was ON THE TRACTOR all by himself.  Twenty years ago he would have died for that infraction, but Cliff has gotten soft in his old age.

All day I stewed about what to do with Blue at night when it's below zero.  I've been putting him out the door when I'm ready for bed, hoping he has a nice, snuggly place to sleep somewhere; but I sure did feel guilty.  Well, enter the cooler condo Cliff set up last June.  I brought it to the front porch, threw some comfortable rags in it, and hoped for the best.  I was pretty sure that Blue would take to these night quarters:  He's one of the smarter cats I've had, and he is fearless.  He's never been trapped or hungry or hurting, and for the most part he trusts me... especially if food is involved.  So I placed a small dish of dry cat food in one corner of the "condo".  At 9 PM I stepped out, opened the top, and lowered Blue into his new bedroom.  As I shut the lid, I heard the sound of cat food being crunched between Blue's teeth.

This morning, 4 AM, I snapped the leash on Gabe and took him for his morning constitutional.  I went out the front door, turning on the porch light to see if I still had a cat.  I paused about five seconds, then Blue's head was peeking out the door of his bedroom.  He chose to stay there while Gabe was doing his business, so it is a smashing success!  I wish I'd gotten a picture with his face looking out at us, but I had just gotten out of bed and Gabe was in a hurry to get his job done and get back in the warm house.  Stepping out into 6 degree weather while half asleep is something I wouldn't recommend, but millions of dog owners do it every day.  By the way, so far there is no awful odor emitting from Gabe's posterier today.  I'm hoping he's over his gas problems, because we don't have any more book matches left in the house.  I ordered some from Amazon, though:  Matches are the best defense against bad cases of gas, whether it's coming from animals or humans.  It's redneck air freshener!

I highly recommend this cat house.  After all, my genius cat approves of it.  I'm thinking of renting it out on Airbnb or VRBO.

Monday, February 08, 2021


Cliff asked me to choose him a new library book to read; he finally finished the one about  General Pershing right after reading a book about General McArthur.   Makes me yawn to think about such books.  I don't really mind choosing a book for him.  He would have no problem just browsing the library with the Libby app and picking something at random.  But he has specific tastes in books, so I will find a book, then check out what others say about it and how they rate it; this is how I find my own choice books, too.  

Several years ago, I noticed a lot of people talking about Ken Follett's writing; one man on a message board I frequented was in the process of reading every one of Ken Follett's books, then he'd send it to someone on the message board when he was finished; I don't know why he didn't either check out a library book or keep the book to read again, if it was so great.  I figured with such a popular writer, I'd surely enjoy him, so I bought Pillars of the Earth on my Kindle.  I just couldn't get into it; I I don't know why, except that the setting seemed so bleak and depressing, and everybody was poor and miserable and building cathedrals..  

But since I had already spent the money and owned a copy of the book, I offered it to Cliff, who at that point wasn't doing a lot of reading (he still had a job).  He devoured the book, raved about it, in fact.  I told his younger sister how enthusiastic Cliff was about it, so she read it and loved it too.  I always thought I should go back and give the book another try, but never did.  Oh, and guess what?  A while ago I wondered whether I had bought a Kindle edition of the book or a genuine book, so I checked the Kindle app:  there it was.  So, since Cliff had so enjoyed a Ken Follett book ten years ago, I though I'd find a book by the same author.  Normally, with a very popular author, you have to put his newer books on hold before you get to read them; the older the book is, the more likely it is that you will be able to check it out immediately.  Not so with Ken Follett.  Many of his oldest books still have to be put on hold.  

I did well, though, choosing a book from 1992 that takes place in World War II, Night Over Water.  Cliff does most of his reading during the half-hour he rides the exercise bike.  Today I heard the noise that tells me Cliff was done with his 30 minutes, but ten minutes later he still hadn't come out of the room, so I went and peeked in there.  He was sitting on the bike, not pedaling, but reading... and he stayed there like that for at least another half hour.  He told me it's great, so maybe I'll just keep getting him another Ken Follett book until he's read every one.

For those of my readers who don't care about reading, here's a mental picture of my daily life with a dog:  Yesterday we settled in to watch the Super Bowl and I sent Gabe out to potty.  I knew I shouldn't have sent him out alone, but it was 7 degrees outside!  We burn our trash in a barrel that's seen better days.  It's not your typical burn barrel; it's used to be a big fuel tank, I think.  Eventually it fills up and Cliff has to pick it up with the tractor and haul it somewhere, even with the burning.  There's a hole in one end of the barrel near the ground.  If Gabe can fish anything out of that hole to eat, he'll do it.  I knew he was gone to long just to have peed and pooped.  When he finally came to the back door he had a burned package of some sort, about the size of my shoe, in his mouth.  I opened the door a little and made him drop it out there.  When he came running through that back door, a foul odor came with him, a smell that I cannot even describe.  The grandson was over here to watch the game with us.  We were all speechless, so I knew a bath was needed... it was either kill the dog or bathe him.  Cliff put the game on pause (should have just left it paused, the way it turned out) and Gabe got a bath.  But do you want to know the rest of the story?

He's had the worst gas of his life today.  The worst thing about that is that when it's cold, as soon as the furnace comes on, he lays on the register until it quits blowing:  This circulates the hot farts and sends them to my battered nostrils faster.  

You can see the register showing near his foot.

"Get a dog," they said.  "It'll be a nice companion for you."

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Sleeping with the enemy?

Back in June when Blue was just a kitten and I was keeping him in the back porch at night, I got him a bed.  He hardly ever used it.  When I began letting him in the house with us I brought it in here, but he still wasn't interested, so I put it up.  The other day I happened upon the cat bed and brought it in:  There's a gray chair beside his cat tree that he takes long naps on; if he ever starts shedding, he won't be in the house so much, but for now, he's OK.  I brought his bed in and put it on the gray chair.  

His Majesty approves.

But earlier this morning, I walked into the living room to see this and just had to laugh:

Gabe told me he now identifies as a cat because he was born with the wrong body.  What is this world  coming to?

OK, my friend wants to compare my left-hand writing with my right-hand writing.  First I'll share part of my morning scriptures I wrote with my left hand; I used the New International Version:

Next, the rest of the same group of scriptures, but when I turned the page I switched to the King James Version and my right hand (and didn't use the flash, so the page looks a different color).

I'm surprised it's so much the same in both!  The right-hand writing is a little neater, that's all.  If I ever get the left-hand writing down pat, it looks like my handwriting won't change much.

Here's something to think about today:

Friday, February 05, 2021

Time moves on...

I was shopping in my deep freeze for something to fix for dinner (noon meal).  My wandering eyes happened to land on a package of sliced ham left over from our Christmas ham, and I asked Cliff, "Would you rather have ham salad sandwiches, or a warm ham sandwich with cheese melted on it?"  He chose the latter.  Either way it would have made an easy meal, and I didn't care which he chose... although I do love melted cheese.

A longtime reader of my blog who lives in Canada messaged me yesterday asking if I'm still practicing left-hand writing; I am, but I am not practicing as often as I should, so although I'm improving, I really should be improving faster.  As it happened, though, I had followed the dotted lines and colored the picture in the workbook (for five-year-olds) yesterday.  Yes, I follow the dots, then color the picture.  I always hated coloring.

Back to my Canadian friend:  She had come across something that she thought I might like to use for my left-hand-writing practice:  It's a 28-day devotional plan geared toward love (Valentines Day approaches); the preacher in charge of this suggests people will get more out of it if they not only read the verses, but copy them down each day.  So yesterday and today, I did copy the portion of the day.  I'll post what I copied here so you can perhaps tell whether I'm getting any better.  I put a check-mark at the beginning of the next-to-last line because I miss-copied one word:  I should have written "God" but I wrote "he".  The meaning is the same, and I didn't want to scratch out "he" with the pen, then insert "God" after that, because that would make my attempts at writing look terrible.  Maybe I should stick with pencils; they come with erasers.

However, in the interest of improving dexterity, flexibility, and strength in my left hand, I color.  I bought myself a box of 20 crayons first, but once the point is worn away, it's impossible to stay in the lines because the pointed end of the crayon is too fat!  So I ordered some of those "gel pens for adult coloring books".  They were reasonably priced, but using them to color is like trying to color with an ink pen... although they are still good for increasing dexterity, I'm sure.  I only wish I liked to color.  I just lack patience; I like to get something done and out of the way!  Or, you know, figure out a way to get out of doing it; I'm good at that.

Mama Kitty is off her feed:  She ate about 1/3 of her wet food last night.  Normally I don't feed her anything but dry food until 4:30 PM, but I wondered if she'd eat this morning, and gave her a little wet food.  She ate about half of it.  

I called the place in Lexington where they are giving the covid shot and left our names, and she had told me she would call when they could take us.  Well, yesterday the lady called and had a time for both of us to come; wouldn't you know it was exactly the time when we will be in Independence getting our eyes tested at Costco.  So I declined.  She said she'd call when they get some more vaccine in.  I think those shots are soon going to be much easier to find, though.  

I'll soon be making our ham-and-cheese sandwich, so I'd better quit blogging and get us fed.  I made banana bread earlier, so that'll be dessert.

I am eagerly looking forward to the Super Bowl.  It could go either way, but I sure am hoping for my Kansas City Chiefs!

Keep warm, my friends.  A large part of the country is going to be very cold for the next week and maybe longer.  It will pass, and we'll be planting gardens before you know it.