Tuesday, March 30, 2021

little tidbits from my life, in no particular order

 I finally spoke to the neighbor whose German Shepherds kept coming over to use my yard for a toilet and then proceed to try and kill my dog, Gabe.  She said she'd keep them up, then told me my three chickens had been coming over there.  I told her I'd find a home for the chickens, and within two days, the chickens were gone.  A few days later, the dogs are running loose again a lot of the time.  I chased one home yesterday. 

I am really content with the home I found for the chickens, though:  A young woman who grew up next door was glad to take them.  She said her oldest daughter, maybe eight years old, had been wanting chickens.  When she brought our cage back a week later, she said both hens now come running up to them and they can pick them up any time.  So so my coronavirus hens have made a little girl very happy.  I do miss my fresh eggs; believe me, there's a difference between really fresh eggs and eggs from the store.

This morning when I was practicing my left-handed writing, I reached a milestone:  I noticed I was writing at about the same speed I use with my right-hand.  Go, me!  It shouldn't have taken me that long, but I wasn't writing enough every day to improve.  Once I started writing about what I read in the Bible every day, it's like a switch turned on in my mind (or in my hand?) and everything worked properly.

I have met some challenges left-handers face, though:  Spiral notebooks!  What an aggravation.  My left had has to try and write neatly while laying on metal spirals.  I found out they make left-handed spiral notebooks and went as far as adding it to my Amazon cart; then I realized that since I use both sides of a sheet of paper in a spiral notebook because I'm cheap, I would be dealing with the metal on one side anyway.  Duh.

My dog knows a lot of human words that most dogs don't.  For instance, if I've been sitting down for awhile when he asks to be taken out, I will have to go pee first, because my bladder is the same age of the rest of my body.  As I get out of my chair, I'll tell him I have to go to the bathroom first, and he will head down the hall to the bathroom before I am fully standing, to monitor my activity.  And he has finally learned to go where I point when I see him going the wrong direction; some dogs seem to know this instinctively. but Gabe had to learn it.

  I always put the shock collar on him to go on my walk now, and seldom have to use it.  Even when I do use it, I use the "vibrate", not the shock, unless he is about to go somewhere he could be run over or get hurt.  When that happens, I yell "no" and use the shock.  I've only done that two or three times, and it isn't turned up nearly all the way.  He enjoys our walks in the pasture so much more now, because he can run around in my vicinity without having to walk at my slow pace.  If I see him getting too far away, I'll either call him to me saying "come" or else I'll have him sit/stay until I get closer.  He minds very well with the collar on.  Without it, he might obey, but he's like a two-year-old child.  I'll say, "Gabe, come!"  He'll turn and start to come, but then he will stop and smell something, and I'm once again hollering "come" several times.  But I sure am glad the collar lets him off the leash, because I don't worry about him seeing a rabbit or a strange cat and disappearing into the woods for hours.

I have let my cat in the house all winter because my cousin told me they don't shed in winter.  Sure enough, cat hair was not a problem at all.  But yesterday Cliff came in the door for dinner saying, "The cat's shedding."  I asked which cat, and he said Blue.  "How do you know?" I asked.  "I was petting him, and hair went everywhere," says my husband  So, those of you who thought he'd be a house cat forever will now find out you were wrong.  We are going to put the Igloo Cooler on the porch away, too... the one Cliff turned into a winter cat-bed.  They both still use it on cool days and nights, but they don't need it, and it needs to be off the porch.  It was a great solution for those below-zero temperatures.

The strangest thing in the previous paragraph is that Cliff admitted he was petting a cat.  When we got married and bought our first twenty-acre farmette, I had another Mama Kitty living at my parents' house; I had tried to keep her in my apartment, but that cat had been raised outside and didn't like being a house cat, so my parents took her.  Cliff and I bought our first country home and I claimed my cat.  Cliff hated her, and all cats; he considered them creepy.  He thought their purring was actually a growl.  Since my cat had been a house cat, once in awhile she would sneak in when somebody was opening the door:  He would hiss at her loudly and shove her out with his foot!  Once he saw her killing a rat about half her size, he gained respect for her.  But we have been married fifty-four years, soon fifty-five; and I don't think he ever petted a cat in his life until Blue came along.  Blue has even been on his lap a couple of times.  The cat's personality makes it hard not to like him.  

The grandson wants better fence around this place he bought from us, and it definitely needs it.  He and Cliff and the next-door neighbor are going to be putting new fence up between our place and theirs.  He's willing to buy fence and do his part on his section, so they have already done a little bit of "getting started".  Arick gets home from work before 3 PM, so he and Cliff can get a lot done before bedtime.  It doesn't look like rain will stop them; there aren't many rain chances in the next ten days.  It seems every year we start out with a rain deficit, then barely get enough rain to grow the crops all summer.  Global warming, maybe.

Is that enough trivia for you?  Cliff's on the exercise bike, so he won't be proof-reading it for 20 minutes or so.  I always proof-read it too, but I usually miss something.  Sometimes we both do.  

Enjoy this spring day.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Choosing books for myself and my husband

There was a time Cliff would spend a whole winter day reading library books on my oldest iPad.  These days, he only reads when he spends his half-hour on the recumbent bike, or when he is waiting in the car for me while I'm shopping or waiting for an appointment somewhere.  His eyes bother him if he reads too much, so that may be why he doesn't read as much as he used to.  Or perhaps the pull of the Internet has a stronger magnetic field that lures him away (been there, done that).  Since he does read so infrequently, and I'm the one choosing books for him, this presents two problems:  First, the library only allows three weeks to read a book, then it automatically returns itself to the library.  I've managed this slight problem by only choosing books at least three years old, so there is usually a library copy available, and a good chance that he can renew his loan if he isn't finished in three weeks.  That way, if he hasn't finished the book in 3 weeks, I can simply check it out again for him.

Since I'm left with the job of choosing what he reads, I am beginning to understand his interests.  He just finished a book I had read and enjoyed, "We Were Rich and We Didn't Know it" By Tom Phelan.  It's a biography of a man's childhood in Ireland.  He liked it as much as I did.

My husband will sometimes read one of my John Sandford books for a change of pace, but he prefers non-fiction, especially biographies.  Yesterday he got on the bike with the iPad and found he had reached the end of his book; I was at church; so he got off the bike, because nobody can stand the boredom of an exercise bike unless he is reading a book or watching TV, something to pass the time.  In the car when he picked me up at church, he said, "I need a new book."  So this morning I surfed my way to the 2015 New York Times Best-seller list, because six-year-old books are no longer among best sellers.  I checked to make sure the library still had the book I was choosing; it was available, so I got it for him.  I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy it.  He seems to like books about generals and wars.  I choose my own books the same way, but mine are mostly fiction.  I very seldom end up with a book I don't like when I choose a former best seller with good ratings.  Amazon even tells me a little about the book, and whether it sounds like something I'd enjoy.   This is why I never cared for Amazon's free-to-read books:  They have never had the books I am looking for.    

Cliff does know how to return a digital book, and he can check a new book out.  But he doesn't type, so he's a slow surfer (one finger).  He would never have the patience to research his books and find something he's fairly certain to enjoy.  I don't mind looking for books for him; in some small way it's one way to pay him back for all those years he was working at a job and I was at home playing with my cows and bobby calves (male baby calves you buy from a dairy when they are 3 days old).  When I get grumpy with him (it happens), I remind myself once again of all the work he did while I was gardening, canning, or tending animals.  I didn't even consider what I was doing "work", because it was fun.  This is also why I'm so diligent to see that he has some money to spend on whatever he wants, these days.  I remember those weeks when he only had gas money to get to and from work. 

I just now got up and let Blue, the cat, inside to eat.  He isn't going to be much of a house cat now that spring is here.  He stays outside all day, hunting birds and moles.  Oh, and since I tilled the garden, he thinks he has the biggest, best sandbox ever.  He and Gabe frolic around me and have a blast when I'm in the garden.

Yesterday Blue was trying to catch a sparrow that was in a tree tormenting him.  He was almost at the top of the tree, trying his best.  Cliff got the rifle and shot the sparrow for him, which made his day.  About that time Gabe and I went outside, Gabe saw the cat eating something and ran over and got a bite of... sparrow?  I ran limped over and pried his mouth open to see.  He must have swallowed it, right?  Well, apparently he got a mouth full of feathers when I wasn't looking, because the next morning I went into my she-room (guest bedroom) and there were little bird feathers all over the carpet.  Schnauzers have that beard that somehow disguises the fact that they have a mouthful of something nasty, and he's always sneaking something in.  Usually, it's an entire mole, totally hidden in Gabe's mouth.

We're going to have a windy-but-sunny day, high of 72.  

I'll take it.

P.S.  I guess he's going to like the book I checked out for him.  It's five minutes to eight, and he's been reading since 7:30.  He was only checking to see if it would work for him, but he's still at it.  My work is done.  :D


Friday, March 26, 2021

I build walls

I'm always telling people I'm not normal.  I realize everybody is different from everyone else in many ways, but I'm "more different" than most and was probably born that way.  Living in Guss, Iowa, for the first seven years of my life put me in isolation simply because Guss was an unincorporated little burg with about 15 or 20 residents, and very few children.  Oh, there were two little boys across the road around my age, but who wants to play with boys?  Actually, I played with them quite a bit, because my parents and their parents played cards often.  However, at some point some hard feelings must have arisen between those neighbors and my parents, because it seems they cut all lines of communication.  I wasn't ever told why, but my mother said things many years later.  I think perhaps she might have said something behind their backs that hurt their feelings, but I really don't know.

The thing is, since I had few other children around, I learned to like being alone.  I'm sure when I got together with other children, I lacked many of the social graces (I still do).  Children aren't shy with their words to others, and can be very critical.  I learned at school that I talked too loud, and repeated certain words too much.  I began building walls then; I made myself as invisible as possible, minded my own business, and went home to happily play pretend games by myself, at home.

We moved to Missouri, away from the one-room schoolhouse.  Eagleville is a small town with a small school, but it was big compared to what I was used to.  There were a lot more children to deal with.  If we played any game at recess where sides were chosen, I was one of the last picks.  Always.  It didn't matter, because I was invisible.  I never ate in the lunchroom at school.  We moved to Kansas City and I ended up in one of the largest schools in the state at the time, North Kansas City High School.  With the exception of two girl cousins my age, I had not one real friend.  Don't feel sorry for me, because truthfully that's how I was most comfortable, behind my walls.

Nowadays when I read blogs, I notice most women like to run around with girl friends to movies, or shop together and eat out.  I don't like shopping, I'd rather watch movies at home, and I don't eat out all that much.  You see, I practiced being invisible starting with the first day of school in Iowa and have really gotten skilled at it.  

I have had close lady friends:  Carol, Terri, Shirley.  Two of those have died.  But even with them, I ended up distancing from them at some point, although we'd still talk if the occasion arose.  I did consider them "best friends".  But I built my usual wall, so we didn't get too close; if I get too close, I'll get hurt.  My mind knows this isn't the way it should be, but I've trained for invisibility for almost 77 years, and it's all I know.

I think perhaps I began blogging so I could tell stories while remaining invisible. 

I'm just keeping it real, folks.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Just ramblings

This is the theme song of a funny show we're watching on netflix Amazon; I think it's going to become my personal theme song. It makes me happy.  If you're wondering who the people are in the video, they are the stars of the show, "New Tricks".  The song was written by one of them, Dennis Waterman.  Don't be surprised that it's another British show.  My DNA is over 90% British.   

We had Thai food yesterday for the first time and enjoyed it.  It's in Blue Springs, 25 miles away, so I also got some groceries at Aldi; that's closest one from our house.  I hate to make a dead-end trip if we can't do two or three things to justify it.  

This is my spicy JalapeƱo beef and pad Thai

Here's Cliff's plate.  He had pad Thai and cashew chicken.  We got different things so we could try one another's food.  The lunch menu was reasonably priced, even for us cheapskates.

I cannot believe how fast time flies every day.  I would have guessed old people would be bored, and time would drag.  I don't do a lot around the house except cook and clean up the mess afterward, but I still seem to always be doing something that cuts into my playtime.  This morning I was up around 4 AM.  I always read my daily portion in the one-year Bible, and now I summarize what I read in a notebook just so I'll have my left-hand-writing practice every day.  That takes some time, but I still enjoy my Bible.  I  eat my breakfast by 5 AM because I'm hungry.  I often make grits and put them in the refrigerator to heat up later, so I might have a small bowl of that.  I like cereal pretty well too, and will eat that occasionally.  Sometimes I just eat enough to satisfy me until I wake Cliff up at seven, then eat with him.  Of course, since I take omeprazole first thing out of bed, I must eat something within 15 or 20 minutes; usually I grab a couple of saltines for my "something".  The nurse-practictitoner insists that's how it needs to be taken.  If I get up and feel any faint burning in my esophagus, I take two.  That happens about once a week.  I have learned to pay attention to my stomach!  

I'm still reading about King Alfred the Great; he had stomach troubles that plagued him all his life.  Experts today think he had Crohn's disease.  The pain was so terrible that even when it wasn't hurting him, he lived in dread that it could hit him at any time.  I know that dread, although thank the Good Lord I do not have anything as bad as Crohn's.  I worked with a lady whose husband had Crohn's; it's an awful affliction.

I got Cliff fed and coffee'd up, washed dishes, made up my mind what we'll have for dinner, cleaned the top of the kitchen range I love so well.  I didn't think I liked the black top of it, but that is the easiest-cleaning stovetop I've ever had.  I had sort of ignored it for a couple of days, but I cleaned it up this morning.

Don't look too close though, because I still have to clean off the front around the knobs.  That's bread pudding sitting there for dessert later.  I tasted it and left the teaspoon in the corner, thinking Cliff might want a bite for a preview, but he is waiting until he can have a whole (small) serving.  I had some stale hamburger buns, but I also had to use two slices of bread to make four cups.  I don't make this dessert very often.

It's about time to get dinner started now, so I'll get busy.  It seems to take me longer to prepare meals than it used to.

Here's something I read in Proverbs yesterday:  "Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you."  Proverbs 11:17, New Living Translation

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Hope for people who can't hear

My husband has had quite a journey with his deafness.  It began when tinnitus that was gifted to him instantly, suddenly, out of the blue, on his way home from work one midnight.  One second his ear was fine, the next second his left ear was ringing so loudly it affected his hearing in both ears.  That was back when I had my first computer, a Windows 98 Gateway.  I googled everything having to do with tinnitus and found it's caused by not protecting your ears from loud noises; many people suffer from the condition, and there's no cure.  I read that some people keep a radio playing in the background so they won't notice the ringing in their ears; I bought him a Sirius radio for his shop; that thing plays "Willie's Place" all day long most every day and is probably the most-used gift I ever gave him.  If he only goes to the shop for 15 minutes in the morning, he'll often leave it playing all day. 

I asked doctors if they could do anything for tinnitus, but there's no cure.  Oh, you'll find things on the Internet that mention cures, but good luck with that.

We couldn't afford the top-rated hearing aids back then, so he started out with one hearing aid for his right ear, the cheapest model they had at the high-dollar hearing aid place.  When they tested the left ear, there just wasn't enough hearing there to work with.  That $800 hearing aid pulled in background noises, so even if Cliff tried to talk to one person in a crowd, the noise from everybody else talking drowned them out.  We started using closed captions back then, and although I don't think my hearing is too bad, it seems I have come to depend on it by association.

Because of having only one hearing aid, Cliff couldn't tell which direction noises were coming from, with or without his hearing aid; it was a little funny when I'd yell at him from the east and he'd turn his head every other direction before he located me.  You need two good ears to detect where sound is coming from.  Not that it mattered much, because he seldom wore the hearing aid, only putting it in when he was desperate to hear something.  It seemed to be his cross to bear for the rest of his life.  What a lousy break, right?  If you can't participate in conversations and all you can reply is, "What?", it's embarrassing.  Cliff would sit and say nothing; others assumed he was just quietly listening.

At the time he got his first hearing aid, he got the only kind we could afford; there were other, better ones, but prices went up to about $3,000 for only one ear.  A Facebook friend told me Costco sold hearing aids at much cheaper prices.  We had a little more money to spend this time, so I urged Cliff to get a new one at Costco.  As before, the lady said they couldn't do anything about the right ear, so he was getting only one for his right ear, again.  I don't remember what it cost at the time, but it worked much better and cost no more than his first useless one; it fit sort of behind his ear instead of inside it, and there was a button to tap if he wanted to shut down background noise.  It wasn't ideal, but it was enough of an improvement that he wore it most of the time, and he certainly did hear better with it.

A couple of times he went back to Costco and they'd tune it up to help him ; obviously if they had to do that, his hearing was getting worse.  When he went for the second tuneup, the lady wanted to test his  left ear again, and this time they were able to sell him a second hearing aid for that ear that worked so well, the difference was like night and day.  The next time he went back, they tuned it as high as it would go, and it was showing some wear and tear.  Time for a new set.

Now, all this time I was convinced that eventually my husband would get so hard of hearing, he'd get to the point he couldn't hear at all and hearing aids wouldn't work.  But the lady at Costco assured him that hearing aids are getting better all the time.  I think this set was something like $1,800 for both, maybe a little less than that.  His hearing is unbelievably better.

I wish I had known the future of his hearing journey when it first began, but I simply saw him getting deafer and isolated as he aged.  I am so very thankful that hearing aids get better all the time, while at the same time becoming cheaper.  I worried for no reason, but that isn't unusual for me.  

All my uncles (farmers with noisy tractors), had impaired hearing as they aged, and I think they all had hearing aids eventually.  I remember aunts complaining, "He refuses to wear his hearing aids," or, "Those things won't do him any good in his shirt pocket!"

If only they'd known.  But I don't suppose the improvements would have come soon enough for them.  

Technology rocks!

Monday, March 22, 2021

I don't garden the way I used to

 We had a lovely visit with our daughter, her husband, and granddaughter Natalie with her son, Ivan.  I went out and got my short row of spinach planted.  I've only planted cool-weather crops, which can usually survive even a frost or light snow.  Every year I check the Missouri Extension service guide that tells when to plant various vegetables in central Missouri (THIS LINK).  Some things, like lettuce, spinach, and peas, won't do well at any other time of year; You have to plant them early.

I used to have huge gardens, canning and freezing huge amounts of food.  No more!  Two old people don't really eat enough to worry about doing all that work.  Last year at the beginning of the pandemic I saw an ad on Facebook Marketplace, someone wanting to buy some fruit jars.  I contacted them and told them I'd give them mine, free.  Oh, I held back a few in case the urge to can something hit me (unlikely); I even gave them my big pressure canner, but kept the smaller one... again, just in case.  As I tell Cliff often when I'm starting another garden, "I don't even know if I'll keep up with the garden, or whether it might be my last one."

I've learned to allow myself to change horses in midstream.  

My tomatoes always get blight.  I've seen all the things you can do to keep blight away, but I don't have enough energy for that, so I plant three or four plants that don't die as fast as the older strains, and hope for the best.  Some years we have tomatoes for the table for three weeks, then blight kills them.  The last couple of years we've had tomatoes to eat fresh most of the summer, although they got pretty ugly at the end of season.  I still remember the first year I dealt with tomato blight:  It was 1980, we were renting out the house here and living at Oak Grove (long story) and I didn't know what was wrong with my poor plants.  Before that, any tomatoes I grew were perfect!  Where did it come from?  One year in the 70's I had so many tomatoes I was hauling them to work in five-gallon buckets for people who wanted some to can.  Those were the days. I do put the tomatoes in a different place every year; I don't even plant peppers where tomatoes were the previous year, because peppers will die from blight too.  

These days I make no plans to can tomatoes, although last year I had some to freeze, which was nice when I made chili.  One or two plants would keep us eating fresh tomatoes daily if it weren't for blight, but since it's out there, I usually plant three or four.  I'm trying to plant small amounts of most things at different times.  For instance, I'm only planting two cabbages now, but in three weeks or so, I'll plant a couple more.  I plant one small row of green beans, then three or four weeks later, another row.  I like to be eating fresh things from the garden all summer.

In this business of getting old, a lot depends on keeping up my strength and keeping down the arthritis pain as much as possible.  Arthritis is a strange bird.  The same knees that have me limping through a week sometimes, will for no reason at all quit hurting as much for weeks at a time.  There's always pain, but sometimes it isn't so bad.  On the days when it's worse, Tylenol helps.  I appreciate that I can do as much as I do, because my husband suffers a lot more arthritis pain than I do, and there's the asthma he developed in his old age that slows him down.  He is much more limited than I.  

However, he has had a project going for three days out in the shop:  He a took a set of forks for three-point hitch and changed it to a quick-attach hitch for his biggest John Deere, which is a category 2.  That might sound simple, but he has spent about 8 hours a day out there messing with it.  He said he's almost done with it.  When he loads up the bucket in front of the tractor, the back-end of the tractor comes up, even though there's fluid in the tires; so he needs weight on the back end for ballast.  The reason it has taken him so long is that he doesn't buy material to build this sort of thing; he goes to his scrap-metal pile and finds something that might work.  We've lived paycheck to paycheck all our lives, so we have had to adopt the old Depression motto:  "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." 

It's been wonderful!  I love my husband dearly, but I also like having the house to myself sometimes.  He knows that very well, after living with me for almost 55 years.  I'm not sure, but that may be the real reason for his project.

The light wasn't too good with the shop closed up this morning, so I used a flash.  Cliff will toss the weights below on there

And that's what's happening in my neck of the woods.


Sunday, March 21, 2021


We've had lots of rainy days in the past several days, but not lots of rain.  Even though it was cloudy and damp for about five straight days, the precipitation was about 2 3/4 inches of rain, over the whole week or more.  But because it came so slowly, every precious drop of it went down, down, down in the soil, where it was sorely needed.  And only two days after the last rainy day, I tilled the garden.  There was a time when we had clay soil; you don't dare till clay dirt until it has time to dry out:  Till it when it's too wet and you'll have the biggest, hardest clods you've ever seen!  Here on this river-bluff hill where we live now, we have wind-blown, sandy soil that built this hill.  It dries out fast.

A few days ago I planted some radishes and beets.  I wanted to get some seeds planted so I could watch something grow.  No matter what happens, the radishes will be fine.  I'll admit I'm a little early on the beets, but they can handle some cold.  I also planted some peas, the kind that you eat pod and all, and some onion sets.  Today I'll add a row of spinach.  

Oh yes, I am grooming two cabbages for my early garden.  The other peat pots have two sweet pepper plants and one eggplant, which I just started yesterday.  They can't go outside until late April, unless I want to think about covering them when there's a risk of frost..

 I love tilling the garden.  People seem to think that's hard work, but other than turning it around at the end of a row, it's child's play.  It propels itself forward, so all I have to do it guide it.

It's a long, narrow garden.  I may not use all of it.   

The next two pictures were taken during my 20-minute walk yesterday.  Each of the pictures is showing where we used to walk every day.  There are four different paths to our old walking path; here you see two of them.  I just choose a different one every day now that I can't walk as fast or as long as I used to.

The pussy willow is awake.

Every picture gives me hope.  I'm going to go out and plant some spinach seed today at some point.  

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Books: I'm in love with Alfred the Great!

I'm just finishing up a book, The Scent of Rain and Lightning, by Nancy Pickard.  I've had some problem with characters in the book.  I get the sons all mixed up, and I don't really feel the author developed the characters enough so that I can feel I know them.  But that might simply be my old brain, which has more trouble keeping things straight than it used to.  It's set in Kansas, way off the beaten track... it's in the area of Kansas everybody wants to avoid.  Mentioned often in the book are the Testament Rocks, sort of a badlands area in Kansas, caused by an ocean that was there before time began.  When I googled "testament rocks kansas", what I found was Monument Rocks, so there is such a place, far in the southwest area of the state.  Click HERE to see some pictures and information.  If we ever drive to Colorado again, I'd like to take a side trip and see the rocks.  I doubt that happens; Cliff gets so uncomfortable driving long distances, and we have been talking about flying to Colorado and renting a car once we get there.  We'll see.

We are watching "The Last Kingdom", and somehow I've been attracted to King Alfred the Great.  This is the first time I've been so interested in any real person from so long ago, unless you count some of my favorite Old Testament Bible story characters; Alfred died in 899, for heaven's sake.  Like any book or movie, The Last Kingdom plays fast and loose with the truth, so I wanted to read about the REAL King Alfred.  I am also watching "The Crown", and it was a remark made by Queen Mary on that show putting down Phillip (Queen Elizabeth's husband) that motivated me to find more information.

Queen Mary Yes, but he represents a royal family of carpetbaggers and parvenus, that goes back what? Ninety years? What would he know of Alfred the Great, the Rod of Equity and Mercy, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror or Henry the Eighth?

Greater than William the Conqueror or Henry the Eighth?

  1. Alfred was born in 849 at the royal palace in Wantage. He became king in 871 and died in 899.
  2. He had four older brothers who all ruled as king before he did.
  3. As a boy of four he accompanied his father Aethelwulf on a pilgrimage to Rome.
  4. By 870 Northumberland, East Anglia and Mercia has all fallen to the Vikings. Wessex was the only Anglo-Saxon kingdom to hold out against the Vikings.
  5. In 870 Alfred and his brother Aethelred fought nine battles against the Vikings.
  6. In 879 Alfred won a decisive victory against the Vikings at Edington.
  7. After defeating Guthrum the Dane, Alfred made him convert to Christianity and then adopted Guthrum as his foster son.
  8. In 886 he recaptured London and set about renovating the city.
  9. Alfred's fortified towns or burhs formed the basis of the English system of boroughs and shires.
  10. Alfred believed that all free born English boys should receive an education and he set up a school at his court to educate his sons, as well as those of the nobles and others of lesser birth. 

"Alfred’s defensive genius lay not in the creation of burhs, then, but in the way he adapted earlier strategies to suit the drastically altered military demands of the Viking age. His first steps towards a reliable and more constant system of military service ensured the continuous availability of troops. But the glories afforded him in popular imagination as the architect of “fortress Wessex” no longer, it seems, stand."

So, I found a book, "The Golden Dragon, Alfred the Great and His Times", not at my library, but on Kindle, and paid money for it!  It was pretty cheap, though.  It won't be an easy read, and I won't even guarantee I'll make it to the end; but I will buy however many books I must to find out what the real man, Alfred the Great, was like.  One Google search tells me that people are giving credit to Alfred for some of the things his  son did when he became king.  Hey, he raised the boy, right?  He probably taught him how to do things. 

Cheers!  (That's for the tea in my cup, which is the strongest thing I drink these days.)

These boys are a mess
These boys are a mess.  

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I have never tried thai food

Today we'll go to Buckner to the bank.  It's Cliff's payday, and we need some cash for the next month.  Also, I need to go get my prize at the library:  Mid-continent Public Library had a winter reading challenge; all I had to do was read five books in six weeks, and I get a free cup.  The library wanted us to read more books about Missouri, or written by Missouri authors, although we didn't have to stick with that.  I read a Bill Geist book about his working as a teenager for an uncle at "Lake of the Ozarks"; "The Virgin of the Small Plains", set in Kansas but mentions Kansas City;  "You've Been Volunteered",  by Laurie Gelman: a funny little book about a mother who does her duty at her children's school; and "The Weight of Blood" by Laura Mchugh, a Missouri native.  The fifth book on my list, "The Lying Game", had nothing to do with our fine state, but it's the book I was halfway through when I decided to take the challenge and get a free coffee mug.

They do this challenge every year, January to March.  I'll gladly do it again.  I have not been in the best of spirits, and this actually challenged me to read, whether I wanted to or not.  My very favorite was the Bill Geist book, because I laughed a lot while reading it, and so did Cliff, after I introduced him to it.

We haven't gotten our stimulus funds yet.  I was writing out a check for our propane bill; we had our tank filled at the house, and also the one behind the shop, and because of the recent frigid temperatures, of course the prices went sky high.  So I had two separate bills to pay.  I wrote a check for the largest amount, the house propane, and slipped a note in with it:  "I'll be sending the rest of what we owe as soon as we get our stimulus money."

Now, the lady who handles all the billing is, I believe, the wife of the owner of the business, and she has no sense of humor.  So I can imagine what's going through her head, although we always pay our bills in a timely manner.  But I had a good laugh about it, and so did Cliff.  And yes, what I said in the note was true; I only wrote it because I knew she would take it in a negative way and would probably be thinking they wouldn't get paid for six months.  I know, I'm awful.  But I'm sitting here smiling.

"But Donna, this has nothing to do with Thai food."  

Yes, I know.  I put the title there not realizing I'd be blogging about books.  But I'll address Thai food now:  I've always wanted to try it.  I saw someone mention it on a blog and was reminded, yet again, that I have never had the opportunity.  I figured Thai restaurants were rare; I've never noticed them anywhere.  But there is one in Blue Springs with great ratings, and Cliff has agreed to take me there soon.  We could go today, but I have my Irish meal ready to cook:  Corned beef and cabbage, another thing I've never tried before; I'll make it in the instant pot.  I like most foods, really; I just don't get out much.  I was in my 40's before I ever ate in a Chinese restaurant.  

And that's the way it is on another thundery, rainy, dark morning that will morph into a good day... because it's payday!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

It's a good day

A couple of days ago, Cliff brought to my attention that there was a lot of chatter on Facebook about Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond.  My husband actually spends more time on Facebook than I do these days, although his main reason for being there is that he's watching for bargain tractors on Marketplace.

I must have been the last person in the country to learn that Ladd Drummond and his nephew got very banged up in the process of battling high winds that were spreading fires across Kansas.  In fact, it turns out Ladd was walking around with a broken neck!  In case I'm not the only one that didn't know about the accident, the link is HERE.   

I am really wanting a road trip or a day trip or an overnight stay somewhere, but at this time of year, it's hard to settle on a destination that doesn't involve tractors.  It isn't really vacation time until May and June, so a lot of attractions aren't open at present.  There are so many places within four or five hours from our home, but we've already been to most of them.  I wouldn't mind seeing the Flint Hills area in Kansas again, or traveling on those crooked Arkansas roads through the hills.  

I have always wanted to spend a night at The Elms, in Excelsior Springs; that's about 45 minutes away.  However, there aren't a lot of things to do around there except for museums and such telling about the healing waters.  We do enjoy museums, though. 

I think we've seen everything there is to see in the state of Iowa on our tractor club bus trips:  An aviation museum, several tractor museums, railroad museums, even an art gallery.  Speaking of which, I wouldn't mind visiting the Nelson-Atkins Gallery of Art in Kansas City again.  We spent a great day there with a sweet lady as our guide, back in 2013;  You can read about that HERE.

So that's the state of my life:  I just want to go!  Not to any crowded places, and not to party.  I just want to be somewhere different for awhile.

I'm never satisfied, am I?  Hey, life is good here.  In spite of my rather curdled attitude lately, I have plenty to enjoy; I laugh every day about something, and we eat well.  It's more difficult than it used to be for me to keep a positive attitude, but I'll go down trying.  I need to learn from my pets, who simply live in the present, never concerned about what the future will bring.  

The present is really all we have.  

Sunday, March 14, 2021

March always plays with my moods

Margie said my font has been so small she barely sees it.  Have any others of you had this trouble?  I've made it bold, thinking maybe that would help.  

We had three or four days last week when the temperature climbed past 70, and it was glorious.  Cliff plowed my garden, I ran the tiller over the clods, and then poked a few radish seeds in the ground.  I'm going to start some cabbage plants in the house in peat pots, just to have something in the house to remind me spring is almost here officially.  I rejoice at the thought of spring!

And yet, after a series of lovely, although very windy, days, the sky has been cloudy.  Every day rain is predicted; every day we get a few sprinkles, never more than 1/4 inch in 24 hours.  I don't do well during cloudy times, so I've taken to watching Netflix, even during the day.  For some reason I can't get interested in reading right now.  It seems we are watching a lot of shows from Great Britain; that's quite a switch for me.  I used to avoid British-made shows.  I could never get used to the accents, and struggled to understand the lingo.  However, Cliff has used closed captions for many years, so that helps the issue.  Right now we're watching "The Last Kingdom", which takes place in 800 AD in what was becoming England.  This show sends me to the Internet often to read about the Danes living in Britain, so I am learning some history, for what that's worth.  Before that, we watched Poldark, which I believe begins around 1200 AD.  On Sunday nights we watch PBS for "Call the Midwife" and "All Creatures Great and Small".  Oh, and yesterday, we started watching "The Crown".  I've always said I don't give two hoots about what happens with the royals in England, yet here I am, watching their shows and googling their history.

Cloudy days make me watch TV, which numbs me further.  It will pass.

Cliff talked to his oldest sister yesterday; she told him one of her granddaughters has already gotten the stimulus money allotted to her children... quite a significant amount, because more children, more money.  I can't believe they received it so fast.  And how did they receive it when banks don't add money to our accounts during the weekend?  Cliff used to put his phone on speaker, and I could hear their whole conversation.  Now I only hear his side of conversations; the other person's voice goes straight to his hearing aids, via bluetooth.  I guess I could call his sister myself with my questions, but let's face it:  It's a nosy question I have no business asking.  Yes, dear readers.  I am nosy. 

I have decided I need to stay out of the genealogy game.  Wikitree keeps telling my my dad's first wife could not have given birth to my half-sister because she was only 14.  I'll bet back in the 1920's, there were plenty of shotgun weddings involving fourteen-year-old girls, and younger.  I can get on my computer and access Ancestry through the public library, but it isn't the full version.  Plus the fact I'll probably mess things up if I  keep going with this family tree stuff.

I haven't set any clocks forward yet, and that is likely to cause me to be late to church.  Will I remember to spring forward in time?  Only the shadow knows.

This whole page of blather you just read, if you made it this far, is brought to you by my clouded, dreary mind.  The old motto, "Do something, lest ye do nothing", is appropriate:  It's what I do when I'm stumped and can't think of anything to write.

Have a nice Sunday.

The Rainy Day, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Surprises from the deep freeze

I often freeze leftovers.  In winter, I'll make two batches of chili and freeze some in quantities that would be perfect as a meal for me and Cliff.  I have some chicken dishes that have two cups of cooked chicken listed in the ingredients, so there's almost always some cooked chicken in freezer bags, 2-cup quantities.  I buy those ten-pound bags of chicken leg quarters, boil them, and put all that cooked chicken in the freezer, minus skin and bones, as well as pints of the broth, which has much more flavor and fragrance than the canned stuff.  It's handy for my casseroles, but it's also a nice addition to most any soup.  

I am still trying to tone down some of those efforts at saving food for later, because we don't have as much company at meal times as we once did, and if I freeze things on too big a scale, they end up freezer-burnt by the time I find them.   

I usually begin pondering what I'll have for dinner (noon meal) the day before, but I didn't begin thinking about today's meal until about 9:30 AM this morning.  

My husband isn't picky.  If I'm not in the mood to cook (a rare happening around here), he doesn't mind if we just have a grilled cheese or chicken-salad sandwich, because usually we do have a regular meal, because I enjoy cooking.  

We always have plenty of canned and frozen vegetables available, but I was at a loss for a main course; so I opened the deep freeze, gazed at the bounty therein, stirred things around, moved packages... and found a gallon freezer bag full of broth that had even some poultry meat frozen in there:  Obviously I had frozen it to make noodles, I figured.  

I normally make noodles for holiday meals, but we love them any old time.  Noodles are part of my family history; Grandma Stevens made noodles any time the family got together at her house.  

So noodles, just for Cliff and me, would be a real treat.  It made things easy for me, because we like our noodles over mashed potatoes.  We're not afraid of carbs!  I know, I know... I should hate carbs and whole milk and butter and sugar, but I love fat (not on me, just on my tongue where I can taste it).  So I asked Cliff if it was OK to just have noodles and taters.  Of course, that was fine.  Hey, it can't be any worse for us than french fries and Whoppers (guilty pleasure); we'll just pretend we're eating out, so carbs won't count.

We began eating, and it was delicious, except for... well, the noodles were as tasty as ever, but there was something different (in a good way).  It took about half-a-dozen bites before it hit me:  "Cliff!  This isn't chicken meat and broth.  It's turkey broth and meat from a turkey frame someone gave me after thanksgiving.  I froze it so we could have turkey frame soup, and I'd only have to add the noodles and veggies."

Turkey frame soup is another favorite, and we look forward to having it every year, after Thanksgiving.  One time I got on Facebook and told all my local friends that if they weren't going to use the frame of their turkey after their big dinner, they could give them to me.  Boy, did I rake in the turkey bones!  Used every contribution, too, over the next year.  But I digress.

We declared our turkey and noodles to be a rousing success.  From now on, I may have trouble deciding whether I want soup or noodles when I boil down my turkey frame.

And HERE is my mom's noodle recipe.

(Our pasture is really turning green already, just so you know.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

In other news and events

Cliff is going to the urologist today, his usual yearly checkup.  He did the PSA test last week at our regular doctor, to be sent to the urologist; he is one of the 15- to 20% people who happened to get the fast-growing kind of prostate cancer; 80% of prostrate cancers are slow-growing.  Every year that the PSA test comes back zero or close to it, we breathe a sigh of relief and continue with our lives.

And now I'll tell you about a horseback ride I took on March 7, 2007.

In 2004, I bought a Foxtrotter gelding, a brown horse named Blue.  He was not my first horse, but he turned out to be just what this old woman needed at the time.  I felt like he was almost babysitting me as  I rode him around the countryside for miles.  Riding a horse, you can hear birds sing and dogs bark.  accompanied by the clip-clop of the hooves on blacktop or gravel.  He and I had some adventures from time to time; I'm going to share some pictures taken about a mile from my house as the crow flies.  Our home is about a mile south of the Missouri River.  I used to ride west down a hill on 224 and turn at the first road going right; from there, I would ride to the river, riding all over the fertile bottomland.  There is only one house along that road that is inhabited now, but there was a deserted house where my women's Baptist Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Danner, used to live.  Any time I was riding past the house, I'd remember the late Mrs. Danner.  The house is very near the road, and I had assumed there was nothing there but that house, and maybe one outbuilding.  On this day I went up the driveway and discovered there were falling-down structures everywhere, as well as another house!  Almost like finding a ghost town.

The Danner House, seen from the road

The chicken house?

The outhouse!

Perhaps a shed where they milked a cow

Blue was patient while I explored

I never knew this house was back there.  I couldn't see it from the road.

When I first saw this cup I got the strangest feeling:  The flowers on it looked so delicate, laying outside a deserted house in the leaves left from the previous fall.  I pondered it from the saddle before I decided to ride through the woods toward home.

I was surprised to find road signs on paths through the woods that day; no doubt the four-wheeler riders put them there.  They don't ride down there as much any more:  they had been driving through the farmers'  crops all the time and were finally made aware of the fact they'd be in trouble with the law if they kept causing the farmers grief.  I had to smile at the signs, though.  There were others at different locations.

Here's a closer shot:

I rode the long way home that day, and couldn't forget about that fragile, broken cup laying among the leaves.  The next morning it was still on my mind, so I saddled up my horse and rode right back down there.  I wanted the cup for a souvenir, a keepsake.  It's a good thing I went and got it, because it wasn't more than six months before a man burned every one of those old buildings down.  I happened to ride my horse past as they were doing it.

I still have my souvenir, a chipped old cup without a handle that looked so lovely laying on the ground.  Even now, as I look at this picture, it feels as though it holds some sort of message to me.  A secret, perhaps, to help make the path ahead of me a little brighter.  I'll get it figured out one day.  If nothing else, it reminds me of the wonderful adventures I had with Blue.

Monday, March 08, 2021

I appreciate my cat. God bless my small-town veterinarian!

Blue came home starving.  He demanded food, so I gave him dry cat food, but sparingly.  I had to put him in the laundry room so Gabe couldn't steal his food.  He is in every way his old self.   

Gabe smells Blue on the other side of the door and wants to join him for breakfast.
Gabe knows Blue is on the other side of that door

The vet had to give him his antibiotics by injection, since he couldn't hold pills down, and it must have worked well.  Blue meowed all the way home and when he came inside, after spending a minute or two using his scratching post thoroughly, he filled his belly.  He, Gabe, and I went outside together for a few minutes.  When I was ready to bring Gabe inside, Blue accompanied us.  Now he's walking around wondering where he's been since Friday morning, checking out all his favorite spots in our home.  And he is drinking a lot of water.

He loves being at the top of the tree.  Sometimes I feed him there so Gabe can't bother him.

He wanted to see if anyone had been sleeping in his bed

He scratched and stretched and scratched again.

Of course Blue had to check in with Mama Kitty...

And God bless small-town and country veterinarians everywhere.  My cat is healed, for a paltry $120.  Notice the first charge on the bill is not actually a charge; it's a deduction.  I was paid back for the pills I couldn't use for Blue.  Cliff's  St. Louis sister used to bring their dog across the state when they were visiting relatives because he was so much cheaper than St. Louis vets. 

I am grateful to God for hearing and answering my prayers.

Friday, March 05, 2021

My cat has been under the weather

My readers have probably figured out that my "outdoor" cat spends a lot of time inside.  Because he is such a well-mannered, handsome, brave, playful, intelligent feline, he gets to stay inside all day if he wants to.  I don't leave him in at night because sometimes I sleep very soundly, and he doesn't have opposable thumbs to open doors when he wants out.  

About two weeks ago, I told Cliff more than once, "Blue i's not his usual self.  He just lays around all day."

About the time I'd say that, Blue would start wrestling with Gabe and Cliff would say, "See?  There's nothing wrong with him.  Look at him playing."

He insisted on going with Gabe and I on our walks, too, falling further behind every day.  But I knew he was "off" somehow  Then we noticed him limping.  We did a quick examination of his right back leg and saw no problems.  Next, he gradually lost his appetite.  He couldn't finish the wet cat food he always gets at night.  His limping got worse, then is didn't seem so bad.

He stopped eating altogether.  We have never spent money on cats, except for neutering, spaying, or food.  Sort of a policy, really.  It was the same with my parents, although they didn't spend money on dogs either, until both of them got old and fell in love with Meleah, the Poodle.  Even then they never had her groomed.  Mother just snipped off hair willy-nilly with her sewing scissors.  And they let her eat anything, any time.  So she was a fat, ugly dog that stank, but she was loved for 17 years.  Mother did finally spend money getting the dog's teeth pulled, and again when she needed to be put out of her misery.  But I digress.

Finally on Tuesday, with me holding back tears,  Cliff said, "Let's take him to the vet."

"We can't do that.  If his leg is broken, that could cost a thousand dollars or more." 

By this time I had been crying every day over that cat.  I called the vet and told them what was happening; I was told to bring him in at exactly 4:30 PM (when the office closes) and they'd look at him.  By the time we left, I had discovered the wound on his leg, because it was swollen and easier to notice.  At the vet, they said his temperature was 103, about 2 degrees above normal.  Doc said he had an infection from the wound; he said it was some sort of animal bite: perhaps another cat, or maybe a raccoon.  The way Blue hunts moles all the time, one of those could have bitten him; they have sharp little teeth.

The vet counted out some antibiotic pills into a small plastic baggie, gave him his first one, and told me to give him one each day.  Now by this time Blue was vomiting often.  If he lapped up some water, he'd be vomiting before long, with only foam coming up, followed by dry-heaving.  

I called the vet back, and he had me pick up some pills at his office to settle Blue's stomach.  I was to give him one of those, wait 30 minutes, and then give him his new antibiotic.  

He kept the antacid down for half an hour just fine, but 25 minutes after I gave him the antibiotic, he threw it up.

So he is hospitalized.  

I have cried and cried over a silly cat for two weeks, and have been in a deep depression.  If only I'd have taken him to the vet sooner.  If only I had checked his leg more closely.    

The most touching thing I saw during Blue's sickness was on a day when he had stayed in his bed almost all day, barely stirring.  I was walking to the living room from the kitchen, glanced down at Blue in his bed, and saw that Gabe had brought one of his toys from the bedroom and laid it down beside Blue, as if to say, "Hurry up and get well, so we can play!"  

Even this morning, as bad as Blue felt, he saw Gabe resting in the recliner and jumped up beside him.

I hope he's OK.