Sunday, June 27, 2021

Rain every day

We had planned on going to a tractor show at Adrian yesterday (Saturday), but the forecast didn't seem too promising, with rain chances popping up all through the day.  It was the one tractor show I really hate to miss, but as Cliff says, the grounds would have been so muddy from rain that fell the previous days, we would have had to wear our Muck boots to walk around; that would have made for a miserable day.  I had been looking forward to time out of the house doing something different, however, and spent the day mostly moping and watching Netflix, which is a sure road to depression for me, but sometimes one must take time out to feel sorry for her spoiled self.  

I think there are enough green beans in the garden to pick the first ones now.  Yesterday I cooked some beets from the garden and made Harvard beets, a favorite of mine.  Today I might cook some more beets and pickle a few of them for the coming week; I hope to make borscht before long, too.  

No tomatoes have turned ripe, not even the cherry tomatoes, but there is no sign of blight on the plants!  The only things I did differently this year?  Normally I put cages around the tomatoes, then mulch them deeply with straw.  After a comment about blight from fellow blogger Ed, of Riverbend Journal, a while back, I decided to mulch them with straw as soon as I set the plants out in the garden instead of waiting to cage them.  I also decided to forget about the cages and let the plants crawl over the mulched ground, the way my mother and grandmother did theirs.  Maybe it's coincidence, but I've not gone this long without seeing blight on my tomato plants in many years.  Another annual failure of mine is zucchini:  squash bugs usually destroy the plants so quickly, I'm doing well if I harvest two zucchinis before bugs kill the plant.  I only put out one plant this year, but so far, no squash bugs.  Of course, now that I've mentioned these things, I've probably jinxed myself and the plants will all be dead by tomorrow.

There is still some rain in the forecast for every day this week, but the chances of it happening on any given day are much less.  We've received four inches of rain over the past three days, so the garden isn't hurting for moisture.  There was flash-flooding around our area, but nothing that affected our home on this wind-blown river bluff.  

I'll leave you with a picture of my two guardian angels (devils?) this morning.  I had to convince Gabe to lay there awhile with his partner in crime; he doesn't enjoy the cat's presence in his chair nearly as much as the cat enjoys his.  I finally gave him permission to move to his bed on the floor beside my own chair, so everybody is happy now.

Do you see the look I'm getting from Gabe?  "How humiliating," he's thinking.

After I give Gabe permission to leave, Blue  stretches out and gloats:  "This was my plan all the time," he says, grinning.  "That dog needs to be put in his place."

Thursday, June 24, 2021

They keep predicting rain

We are indeed needing rain, but all we're getting so far is a teaser consisting of far away thunder and sprinkles.  Tonight, they say, will be flash floods, gulley-washers, and sweet, sweet raindrops.  That's more or less what they say, but then you see the chances and realize we have a 40% chance of a passing thunderstorm.  Until I see it, I'll keep on using the soaker hose on my tiny garden.

Oops, I just looked at the weather; Kansas City is getting a fairly decent rainfall right now, and their weather often comes directly our way.  Oh, me of little faith.  As a matter of fact, I can hear the rainfall picking up now.  We shall see.  Below are pictures of my garden, taken just before the rain started.  I have different plantings of corn, beans, and beets.

A week from today our son arrives, and we're going shopping today in preparation.  We will stop at the thrift store and leave several boxes of stuff.  Yesterday I decluttered two closets and I'm so proud of myself!  You can see the floor in both of them now, and there are far fewer clothes in them.  I have a huge box full of children's books that I want to go through, keeping just my favorite ones.  Yes, MY favorites.  The ones I enjoyed reading to Cora the most when I babysat.  

Cliff works on his tractors every day.  He hasn't gotten the big White out of the barn yet; he's spending his time putting the 1650 Oliver back together.  He sold some Oliver weights yesterday thanks to Facebook Marketplace, weights that were for a different Oliver than he has.  Old weights bring good money, thanks to the many fans of classic and antique tractors.  My husband is $350 richer today, thanks to two heavy hunks of metal that he didn't need.

I made my favorite coconut cookies yesterday afternoon.  The recipe doesn't make a lot of cookies, but that's good, because I didn't want to heat up the house any longer than I had to.  The recipe says to cook them ten minutes, but I cook them for thirteen.  My oven is accurate, so I don't know why most cookie recipes say to cook them for 8 to 10.  

That's about all I have to say today.  I'm simply waiting for Cliff to decide when he wants to get up, get dressed, and go to Blue Springs.  Wow, it's really raining now!  Yea-haw!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Don't you love it when things work out?

Cliff sold the fairly new John Deere he'd bought around Christmas and immediately began searching the Internet for another tractor.  The John Deere disappointed him in several ways, but he made a killing on it when he sold it, so it's all good.  I hated to see the air-conditioned cab go, because of Cliff's asthma, but it just wasn't big enough for a large man.

Little did I know the tractor he needed was right under our noses.  There's a retired farmer living right down the road from us; we once bought a 550 Oliver from him.  That tractor had a problem that Cliff thought he'd be able to fix, but it turned out to be more than he could handle, so he sold it.  I had been very excited about that 550 because it had a history, a story.  So I was very disappointed when it didn't work out.  One evening several days ago I went to the shop looking for my husband.  The grandson was out there, so I asked where Cliff was.  "Oh, he went to talk to Earl about buying his tractor."

What???  That was the first I'd heard of this.  When Cliff finally got back home, I asked what kind of tractor he was interested in at Earl's house, and he answered, "It's a White tractor with a cab."  Remember, Cliff's favorite brand of tractor these days is Oliver; Oliver was taken over by White around 1975, and they produced the White Field Boss tractor for, I believe, four years.  Cliff always thought Whites were ugly, but apparently he has been doing some research and found out they're a very popular classic tractor, partly because of the powerful Perkins engine.  People who own them are crazy about them.

In talking with Earl, Cliff found out he hadn't been able to get on a tractor for four years, so the tractor was of no use to him.  He also had an Oliver 1650; he'd taken the gas tank off long ago to fix some hoses (or something... I'm no mechanic), so it was totally immobile.  It would have been difficult to get it on a trailer, so Cliff decided to try and get it home with a car hauler.

By the time their conversation was over that day, Earl said he'd talk to some people and see how much he should get for the tractors.  By the way, that White tractor cab is air-conditioned!  Earl bought a new pump for it not long before he parked it.

Talk about something being too good to be true, this was it.

Cliff called yesterday, and Earl had settled on a price for both, sold together.  Cliff found it reasonable, so he and the grandson went yesterday evening and brought the White home.  It runs like a dream.  It needs some TLC as far as cosmetics go, but it's a great tractor.

 Today I went with Cliff and Arick to take some pictures of them bringing the Oliver home; with the gas tank off, it's just a big hunk of heavy metal.  At least they didn't have far to take it.  The grandson was a little nervous about the method of transport Cliff chose, but he did his part.

Isn't this a beautiful place?  

Earl's family has farmed this place for well over 100 years.  His wife, a retired school teacher, is very knowledgeable about local history.

And here they are, the former owners,saying goodbye to the last tractor to leave their farm.  They are wonderful folks.   

We'll cherish these tractors.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Thinking ahead to Independence Day

Our son has always tried to visit us around the fourth of July; it's become sort of a tradition.  We invite a lot of the relatives on Cliff's side of the family and have a potluck dinner.  The grandson often smokes ribs, brisket, and so forth, and spends lots of money on fireworks.  This year we are celebrating on the day before Independence day, but it will look, taste, and sound like the fourth!

Last year someone mentioned home-made ice cream; in years past, when I had Jersey cows, I made a lot of ice cream in a White Mountain freezer and ate a large portion of it myself.  However, the kids grew up and left home and we didn't really have many large get-togethers.  I couldn't eat a quart of ice cream at a sitting any more.  The wooden bucket of our old ice-cream freezer dried up and fell apart from disuse; the only person who ever talked about home-made ice cream was Cliff's sister, Rena, but I no longer had the Jersey cow's cream and the raw milk, and I figured if I made a gallon of ice cream, I'd end up putting on who-knows-how-many pounds.  

I picked up a cute little electric ice cream maker that doesn't even need ice, and once in awhile I'd make myself a quart of ice cream in it... I even made some for Rena a time or two.

So when someone mentioned home-made ice cream last year on the Fourth, I told them I didn't have an ice-cream maker any more; however, Rena hadn't arrived yet, and I remembered her saying she had bought one at a garage sale, although she had never used it.  So I called her and asked her to bring it.  I actually had enough cream and milk on hand, because when my son is here I do a lot of baking and cooking; one of his favorite things is rice-and-raisins; I use plenty of cream making that; it's actually a sort of rice pudding.  I like whipped cream on some baked goods, too.  But I digress.  Rena said she'd bring the ice-cream freezer if she could find it.

When she arrived with it I came inside and mixed up the ice cream:  4 eggs, 6 cups milk, 4 cups cream, 2 1/2 cups of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of vanilla.  We are not afraid to eat raw eggs around here, but the government doesn't recommend it.  Unfortunately, Rena didn't bring an essential part of the ice-cream freezer.  A nephew did his best to cobble up something that would make what we had work, but alas, it was not to be, and the ingredients were wasted and thrown away.

So a couple of weeks ago I remembered all that, and decided to throw caution (and money) to the wind.  I had to go to Ebay to find a White Mountain freezer, and I'm too ashamed to tell you how much it cost; however, I've had experience with cheap ice cream makers over the years; the gears are plastic and break easily; only a White Mountain will do!

Yes, it's electric.  I would rather have had one with a crank you turn for half an hour, like our old one; I'd even have been happy to turn that crank as I usually did in the old days, but this was what they had.  So now we have to buy rock salt and a big bag of ice, and everyone's wishes from last year will be fulfilled.

I'll leave you with a little video of Gabe playing with his neighbor, the black Golden Doodle named Klouse.  Klouse is the sweetest-natured dog I've ever seen, and is very gentle when he plays with Gabe.

By the way, we called a heating-and-cooling guy who lives in our little town 2 miles away; he came the next morning and had it back running in no time.  

Thursday, June 17, 2021

It's officially hot weather

The weather forecast says we'll make it to 100° today.  That's just part of living in Missouri, so we take the bad with the good.  Cliff and I may be a bit more uncomfortable than most of our neighbors, since our air conditioner decided to stop working yesterday.  I called the folks who installed our furnace five or six years ago... they did something with our A/C at the time, something involving a coil; the lady said it would be ten days before they could even come out!  I decided to go very local, so I called a guy who used to come and put freon in our A/C every summer, although I thought he had retired.  I'm pretty sure he did, but he said he'd be out this morning, so perhaps he will save the day.  I really think we should invest in a new air conditioner before next year, but there are so many shortages of things like that everywhere, I wonder if it would even be possible to get one.

Did I mention the A/C decided to quit on Cliff's birthday?  Happy birthday to Cliff!  We have now entered the period of a few days when my husband and I are the same age; that lasts until my birthday on July 7, and then I'm older again.  We celebrated fifty-five years of marital bliss on Monday by going to PT's in Oak Grove and splitting a tenderloin sandwich and a half-order of onion rings.  I was afraid I'd be sorry later, since it doesn't take much to upset my stomach, but I got away with that delightful meal; you won't find a better tenderloin sandwich anywhere.

If your interested, there is a reason why our wedding preceded Cliff's birthday by two days.  You'll find that story in THIS ENTRY from 2007.

I mentioned to Cliff that I would really like to attend "Not Long Ago, Not Far Away" at Kansas City's Union Station.  I was surprised when he willingly agreed.  He doesn't like going to Kansas City for anything; he just knows we'll both end up dying there, killed in a drive-by shooting.  But he's been to the Union Station a few times and considers it a safe destination, and even sounded somewhat interested in the event.  It's sold out for weeks, but since it will be there until the end of the year, I'm sure we'll be able to find a time that will suit us.  I'm not going to book it so far ahead, though; at our ages, who knows what will happen to us in three months?  Ha!

This Saturday and next, we'll be going to a couple of tractor shows not too far away.  It's supposed to be cooler this Saturday, so I look forward to the outing.  Our son will fly in from Georgia July first and stay for several days.  His wife is caregiver for her mother, so she can't join him.  His daughter Lyndsay has been joining him the past three years of so and bringing her daughter, but she has a new job this year and can't take a vacation yet.  

I'm feeling pretty good about life right now.  No complaints today.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Go for a sunrise walk with me

I was surprised at how cool it was this morning:  67°!  I probably should not have been surprised, since we had a storm night before last with 80-90-miles-an-hour winds out of the north and very hard rainfall for a little while.  We received an inch and a half of pounding rain, although Kansas City, only 30 miles away, hardly got any rain; they did get the wind, though.  Usually our strongest winds come from the west.  Since there is a garage at the west end of our trailer house, we hardly know it's blowing.  This time the wind howled against the north side of the feeble, cheaply made mobile home, but it did no damage at all.  Those tie-downs they use beneath a mobile home must really work, although to look at the device, you wouldn't think so.  Our electricity was out overnight, but that was the only real problem from that storm.  The grandson and his girl friend, of course, also lost power, so I invited them over yesterday morning for a pancake breakfast.  There's a reason I always buy a gas stove; power outages are more common in rural areas.  I dug out our old camper percolator for Cliff's coffee and he was happy.


 Anyway:  The outside air was so refreshing that Gabe and I started our walk before the sun was up.  I took pictures to share with you, my readers. 

This is taken before we were too far from the house.  The grandson seeded it with ryegrass for a cover crop.

The sun peeking through the treetops

I looked back toward home; there's our house!

That far distant area is on the other side of the Missouri River.

Can you see Gabe?  I told him to sit, but was surprised that he obeyed, because the morning dew was heavy and COLD.  I know this because I always walk barefoot; there is something magical about letting my feet touch the earth; I felt this way even as a small child.

At this point the sun had finally shown itself through the trees

Looking north across the river again

Yes, Blue went too.  I don't encourage him to come, but he saw us sneaking off.  He never stays with us and I worry about him when he doesn't return with us.

You can see the roof of our house as well as the next-door neighbors home.  We have close neighbors, which is why I cherish the north part of the property.  That's the only place where I can look out of a window and see no signs of people!

At this point, I'm almost home; that's my favorite old cottonwood tree.

I rinsed the grass off my bare feet at the end of the house, then went up the sidewalk and through the front door.

I am so thankful I have a wonderful area away from civilization where I can take a quiet walk with my dog (and cat).

Friday, June 11, 2021

All is well

We went back to Blue Springs for my haircut (again).  I walked in and sat down, since I was early.  Michelle was working on a customer and the other lady, the one who was supposed to cut my hair Monday, was also there.  That lady, I think her name was Cher, came right up to me and graciously apologized and said she was paying for my haircut with Michelle.  I told her I knew from her behavior the other day that it was not a just-for-fun phone conversation she was having; in fact, the other hairdresser who was there when all this happened had told me she had been on the phone for two hours before I got there.  Turns out there was some sort of glitch online that would not allow her husband to pay his employees, so it was indeed a critical call. 

I had an order to pick up at Kohl's while we were in town, so at least we once again killed two birds with one stone in Blue Springs.

I have an appointment Monday (grastro doctor); then Tuesday the nurse-practitioner at our regular doctor's clinic will see me.  My blood pressure numbers are where they should be now, so I don't imagine the meds will have to be changed any more for a while.  Next week I see the cardiologist, and if all is well, I should be done with doctors for a time.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Appointments: the bane of my existence

My husband and I normally live a tranquil and perhaps boring existence here at Woodhaven Acres.  We have meals at the same time each day and watch the same TV shows each evening.  Twice a day at about the same times, I feed the dog and cats.  However, until lately, I didn't realize how much I like the sameness of our ordinary lives.  We've both had fairly recent trips to emergency rooms, but for the past few days, I'm been uneasy and a little angry, and I really didn't understand why; this morning, though, I had a revelation:  It's all these appointments that are driving me crazy.

Monday I had an appointment to get a haircut.  I'd only been to this particular place once, for my most recent haircut.  I had mentioned to my sister-in-law that people were charging $25 for haircuts out here.  With my naturally curly hair, almost anyone can cut my hair in 15 minutes, and they're done; why wouldn't a senior citizen get a reasonably priced haircut?  Rena suggested her beautician, Michelle; she has a shop in Blue Springs with two other ladies.  They all charge $15 for a haircut, but Rena highly recommended Michelle.  I went to her for the first time and was very happy with her services.  However... did I write down the name of the place?  No.  Did I remember which person to ask for if I called for an appointment?  Nope.  

So when the time came that I was looking like a brunette Little Orphan Annie (or Raggedy Ann), I called Rena for the number.  Did I ask where the place was?  No.  See how crazy I am?  I called, though, and made an appointment.  Since I didn't recall the lady's name who gave me my last haircut, I just made an appointment with whoever answered the phone; I'm really not very picky anyhow.  I was scheduled for last Monday at 2 PM.  Since it's in Blue Springs, we left around 10 AM figuring to get groceries at Aldi and pick up other things at Walmart.  I had an Amazon return, so we stopped by the UPS store with that.  Then we went to visit Cliff's sister until time for my haircut.  I asked Rena to remind us again how to get there (we won't forget it now).  She was unhappy that I chose another hairdresser at that place, since she had tried all three and only liked the way Michelle did her hair.  I reminded her I'm not picky.

We got to the beauty shop at exactly at 2 PM.  I walked in and saw only one woman working on a customer.  I told her I had a 2 o'clock appointment with someone (remember, I have a problem with names).  She said, "OK, you must be here for _____; she's in back on the phone.  Insert a name there, because I don't remember her name either.  Ha!

The woman would come to a door in back with her cell phone at her ear, talking.  She motioned for the other beautician to start taking the customer who had come in for a 2:30 appointment, never acknowledging my presence at all, and disappeared into the back room again, occasionally peeking out but never saying anything to me.  I waited twenty minutes, and decided enough is enough.  After all, Cliff was waiting in the car!  I asked the woman who was working on the customer if she could get me an appointment with Michelle for a later time, so now I have a new appointment for tomorrow.  Really?  Two trips to Blue Springs in a week for a haircut?  Oh, and Cliff had an appointment yesterday with his new cardiologist... in Blue Springs.   And next Monday he has an appointment with the urologist in Lee's Summit, but two hours before that, I have an appointment with my gastro doctor in Blue Springs.  And since I've been in the process of finding a new blood pressure med that works for me, I have to make an appointment in Oak Grove for next week sometime so the nurse/practitioner can see if we have the right pill yet; I've been taking my blood pressure twice daily for two months... last month the dose she had given me wasn't strong enough, so she doubled it.  I think we have it right this time, because for the last several days my blood pressure has been running around 125 over 58 or so.  

Today a guy is coming to clean the carpet.  Will I ever get back to my regular schedule?  Somebody just shoot me!   

At least now I know why I've been so "off".  It's all these appointments.  I'm thankful for the doctors who are keeping us alive, but I'll be glad when things settle down, for sure.    

Friday, June 04, 2021

I've been reading

I have really enjoyed my reading lately.  Both books are a departure from the who-done-it books I usually read, but I'd recommend them to anyone.  I have learned a lot from each of them.  I picked them from off the New York Times best sellers; one is pretty current, and the other is from the 2007 list.  Unless someone recommends a book they think I'll like, that's how I pick most of my books.

The first book is "Such a Fun Age".  Honestly, I almost didn't check it out just because of the title; I don't know why, but it just didn't sound like anything great.  It's fiction, and actually has a little bit of a who-done-it effect toward the end, although nobody was murdered or robbed.  It's a very easy read, one of those books that have you laughing, crying and being surprised; and all the while, you are learning things from a different perspective.  

Here's a review that I agree with whole-heartedly:  “In Such a Fun Age, Emira Tucker’s relationships with her employer and new boyfriend culminate in an unexpected, combustible triangle so ingeniously plotted and observed that my heart pounded as though I was reading a thriller. This is not a world of easy answers but one in which intentions don’t match actions and expectations don’t match consequences, where it is possible to mean something partly good and do something mostly bad. The result is both unsparing and compassionate, impossible to read without wincing in recognition—and questioning yourself. Such a Fun Age is nothing short of brilliant, and Kiley Reid is a writer we need now.” –Chloe Benjamin, author of The Immortalists

I've only read 20% of my other one, but I have no doubt I'll enjoy it all the way through.  It's the one I chose from the 2007 best seller list.  The author is Mildred Armstrong Kalish, and as far as I can tell, it's the only book she ever wrote.  The reason I readily chose this non-fiction book is in the title:   Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.

First, I spent the first eight years of my life in Iowa farm country, walking to a one-room schoolhouse and living in a small, tight-knit community.  Some of my best childhood memories are from that part of my life.  And second, my mother loved to tell me stories about the depression.  My parents were married in 1932, and I loved hearing her tell how things were in "the old days", even as a very small child.  This book is custom-made for me.   

The weather today is ideal, although I'll be closing windows in an hour or so when things heat up so the A/C can go to work.  Gabe and I took a lovely walk while it was still around 70°.  It's so green and peaceful back there in the pasture, where birds chirp in the woods and all is right with the world.  I remembered to apply Off to keep the ticks away from my ankles and the mosquitos away from the rest of me.  I hate the smell of the stuff, but it's either that or get carried off to the Missouri River by mosquitoes!

I don't have much else to say, so I'm on to other exploits.


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

It's a new and wonderful day

We have had mostly cold, cloudy, wet weather this spring (while getting very little actual rainfall).  So my usual seasonal winter depression keeps coming back sporadically.   Blah.  I just can't help it.  However, today is perfectly delightful.  For the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, when I took Gabe out at 3:30 AM, I saw the moon and stars shining, and smiled broadly at the heavens.

That's the sun!!!

My garden in the early morning light

OK, I'm back.  We had to take Gabe to the groomer, so he'll be gone most of the day.  In his absence, I decided to take the grandson's girl friend's pup for a walk.  He's four months old, I think.  Since the grandson and his girl friend both work all day, Arick fixed a pen up for him out by our old barn; he can go inside or outside there.  When they get home in the evening, he becomes a house dog for the night.  He is very friendly, but when he came here, all he knew was his old home where he was born, and he was scared of everything; he's gotten a lot better about that. 

He likes to be where his people are, so I didn't think he'd try running away in the pasture.  He frolicked all around me, but he kept looking back from whence he came, and once he couldn't see the barn, he balked at following me.  I had a fanny pack loaded with treats, so during most of my walk I had to cajole him and talk baby talk to keep him with me.  I need bigger treats for this Golden Doodle pup, because he'd try to get one off my palm and knock it in the grass in his enthusiasm.  I poured the praise on him each time I seduced him to my side, patting him vigorously.  Once I was ready to head back to the house, he stayed far ahead of me; he knew where he was going.  However, he would stop once in awhile to make sure I was following him.    

Gabe gets grumpy with Klouse and his energy

It seems strange to call a black dog a Golden Doodle.  

I am feeling really well lately, and I think a lot of the reason is that I'm not eating after 5:30 or 6, so I don't eat the last three hours before going to bed.  Also, after a phone call and discussion with my gastro doctor's nurse-practitioner, I have cut my four-times-a-day pills to two, and that is working just fine.  So while my mood has been rather sour, my stomach is doing a happy dance.

Life is good.