Wednesday, June 30, 2004

good old Blue

Debbie wanted to give Blue a try, and he behaved like a perfect gentleman.  He walked nicely around the yard, didn't object to Lyndsay being handed up... and then Deb decided to go out to the pasture and step up the pace a bit.  Well, my perfect horse Blue, who has never really bucked with me, threw her!  And then stood there waiting for her to get back on (it's a good thing Lyndsay wasn't with her when this happened).  I guess Cliff and Jim went running to her aid, but once they realized she was OK, Jim said, "I wish we'd had the camcorder, now that I know you weren't hurt."

Arick came here from work and announced that his girl friend is not allowed to see him, after their little slip-up last night.  

I wanted to get pictures taken at Wal Mart or Sears or something, but Arick's time is so limited with his new job, I may not get it done.  I was going to have one picture taken of Jim, Deb and Lyndsay, and one of Arick, Amber and Lyndsay.  Oh well. 

"hump day" at home

Jim, Debbie and Lyndsay made it here at exactly 7 PM; they'd left home at 6 AM, and of course they gain an hour coming here.  I had some supper waiting for them.  They've both lost weight on the Atkins diet:  Jim has lost 50 pounds!  I'll take a picture today and add it, hopefully.  Lyndsay is growing and changing, at almost four years of age.  Sixteen-year-old Amber will stay here while her dad's around. 

Arick came for his dad's arrival, and his 16-year-old girl friend drove over to meet everybody.  Her mom, who keeps her on a tight rein, called to ask if she was here.  Well, at that moment she was not, since she and Arick had made a run into town, two miles away.  I think Mom was upset, but I couldn't help it.  In this day and age I can't blame a mother for worrying;  I just wonder if these two kids have done something to make her so suspicious.  Arick, by the way, is in training for a new job, some sort of manager position.  He'll have to dress up, wear a tie, and all.  Once he's trained the money will be nice, but he'll be on salary, so it may not be all it's cracked up to be.  At age 18, he's already figured out that construction work isn't a dependable source of income.  He may as well learn these things while he's young.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Company's coming!

Some of you other AOL journalers, HELP!!!  How can I get my journal time to show "central daylight time" instead of eastern?

This evening my son Jim, his wife Debbie, and my granddaughter, Lindsay, should be here from Georgia... and possibly one of Deb's daughters and a friend.  I haven't seen them since April.  We usually try to visit them at Easter, when Georgia is spring-green and lovely.  This year I talked Cliff into driving to Plains Easter Sunday and attending Church where Jimmy Carter is the Sunday School teacher.  What a thrill it was to have our picture taken with a former president!  At work, they've really tightened up on "green sheets" (approved unpaid time off) but I managed to get Wednesday and Thursday off.  I'll try to enjoy it, because once we get into August, unpaid approved time off will, once more, be a thing of the past.

I buy Jim and Debbie a couple of season tickets to Kansas Speedway each year as a sort of "reward" for making the long drive to Missouri with my youngest granddaughter; they're quite the Nascar fans.

I took Blue out for an hour or so last night, knowing I wouldn't be riding this evening.

I can't believe we're already doing big, heavy winter shoes at work!  That's what I did all day yesterday, and my hands ache from it.  They offered VTO (voluntary time off) for my department, and about half the people went home before we even started working.  That's another thing that will soon stop until after the Christmas rush ends.

Monday, June 28, 2004

My Perfect Horse

I've owned several horses in the past, and a couple were pretty good ones.  I'm not a horse expert.  If a professional were to watch me, she'd get a good laugh.  I never did understand "leads" (something about a horse using the proper front leg first when it turns).  All I know is to get on and ride.  I've always said I would not keep a horse on the place if I'm not riding it occasionally.  That is no longer a true statement, because I'm now owned by a horse named Blue.  He isn't just a pet, he's my friend.  And as far as I'm concerned, he has a home here till he dies, whether I ride or not.

Blue would rather eat than do anything else, but in the morning when I take him his hay, he won't start eating until I've given him a few hugs and pats.  He loves kisses on his velvet nose, and thrives on well-placed scratches.  Cliff has never been a big fan of horses (they tear up fences and chase cattle) but he's become a grudging admirer of Blue.

It wasn't thus when I first got this horse.  He hadn't been ridden for at least three years, and was fat and out of shape.  After an initial ride when I first got him home, he decided he'd be boss:  When I saddled him and tried to mount, he'd strike at me with his front foot, and try and cow-kick me with his back foot, very dangerous practices.  I'd go out to the pen intending to pet him, and he'd lay his ears back and act like he was going to bite me.  I could have cried!

But somehow in all my Internet surfing, I discovered Mark Rashid and ordered his first book, "Considering the Horse".  He told of experiences he'd had with individual horses, and I put some of his ideas into practice.  Within a month, Blue was a different horse.  My daughter told me yesterday, "Now that I know Blue, all other horses are nags."  I couldn't have said it better myself!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

dreary Sunday

Monica and Natalie went to Sunday school and Church with me this morning; it was completely different from church as they know it, but they seemed to be OK with everything.  I'm in a rainy-day mood, which is appropriate for this cool, drizzly Sunday.  I could easily cover up my head and sleep the day away... or eat myself into oblivion.  So far I've not done either, although I did have a little nap.  We warmed up spaghetti for some of us and made grilled cheese for the rest.  Then Cliff watched over Natalie while she did the dishes.  I've played quite a bit of Scrabble online with my Virginia friend, Sue, today.  I'm glad I rode Blue yesterday when the sun was shining.

April, the calf we gave a shot, was chewing her cud this morning; so she must not be too sick.  If I end up working five days this week, it'll be the first time in ages.  In another month, any extra days off will be rare, and it will be like that until the Christmas rush ends.  I'm seriously thinking about losing my perfect attendence and taking an extra day off now and then.  You can get three days in a row off (if you call in each day) and they only count that as one occurance against you... and it takes twelve occurances before you're fired.  Each occurance comes off your record a year after it's made.  I don't intend to do this till after July 17, though, because that will be my year's perfect attendance, and I'll get an extra day off with pay for it.  I still have two vacation days left. 

Rachel and the kids left, and I headed upstairs to do more straightening  and cleaning... when company showed up.  It was Richard Earl (I babysat him as a kid, he's in his mid-thirties now) and his wife and their two very active (enough said) kids, ages 2 and 4.  By the time we pushed the kids on the swing, helped them jump on the trampoline, carried them each out to pet the horse and the cows, and gave them the customary tractor rides, I was worn out.

a full Saturday

Yesterday I rode down in the river bottom again; the wheat has all been harvested, and the corn and soybeans are looking good: the corn is more than head-high and tasseling.  When I rode up the driveway, Rachel was here with the girls:  Cliff had requested that they spend the night.  We went to see Garfield at Cannonball Six theater; I think I enjoyed more than the girls did.  Natalie showed signs of boredom before it was over.  Cliff's comment was, "Well, it's no Finding Nemo."

The cows were in the lot where I let Blue graze for an hour daily; I was going to run them out, but April, our oldest calf, pooped when she got up and had very severe scours.  We still had the filled syringe with the shot Cliff got for the calf that died, so we managed to give that to her.  While we had the cows up, Cliff sprayed them for flies.  We're just going to have to keep an closer eye on the health of our calves.  I've always avoided putting Blue in the pen with the cows because of the way most horses chase cows, but yesterday I did it:  I might have known, he's so worried about eating all he can, while he can, that he didn't even seem to notice the cows!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Since the traffic to my journal is picking up a bit, I wanted to post a picture of my husband's little collection.  The third one from the far end is the one he used as a workhorse for years, an Allis Chalmers D-17 series IV.  The little John Deere 4400 toward this end is the new workhorse, and uses a lot less gasoline (make that diesel).  Would you believe Cliff had the nerve to buy that on MY birthday last year?  I got even, though, when I made him buy me a horse for Christmas.  We love old tractors, and have gone to many antique tractor shows across the country.  My favorite ones are the Rollag, Minnesota show, and Old Thresher's Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Friday, June 25, 2004

done shopping

That picture shows what my tomatoes look like; I tried putting my hand there so you could see the size of them.  I've been following one of AOL's weekly choice journals, Dad's Tomato Garden.  He's in Tennessee, and he's way ahead of me.  Of course, my friend BooDotte is in my area, and she's way ahead of me too.  I always was a bit slow. 
We had breakfast this morning at Bob Evans, then shopped a lot and spent too much money.  But there should be things to cook this coming week for our company.  It's only 70 degrees here at the warmest part of the day.  I get sometimes tickled at Cliff and his brother Phil on their cell phones, and other times aggravated:  no matter where we go or what we're doing, Phil calls Cliff, and there I sit listening to one side of a conversation that usually is nothing of interest to me.  However, it's worth the cell phone bill just to know Cliff stays in touch with one of his brothers that much.  And normally I'm at work when all this goes on.   
Because my horse, Blue, was foundered at some time in his past, he can't just stay on pasture all the time; he'll be on a permanent, lifelong diet.  Every day I lead him to a pen where tall grass flourishes, and leave him for an hour.  Then I lead him back to his dry lot.  I know it's a cardinal rule to wear shoes when leading a horse (or milking a cow, for that matter) but it always seems too much trouble.  Today, once again, Blue stepped on a toe as I led him to supper.  Will I wear shoes next time?   Probably not. 
I'm still throwing stuff away upstairs.

Friday (off work again)

It seemed too hot to ride yesterday, although I would have anyway; but around 4 PM a north breeze came through and cooled things off considerably, making it perfect for a ride.  I went to the river bottom, where they're almost done harvesting wheat.  There's a certain mulberry tree I "park" beneath down there and eat mulberries, and let Blue eat mulberry leaves.  He seems to be handling his fears caused by the fireworks a little better, although you can see him looking, a bit wild-eyed, toward the twins' house as I saddle him up.  Of course there have been NO fireworks here at my place since he threw me. 

 Yesterday while going through stuff upstairs, folded in with some old long-since-paid bills I found a 1994 series EE $100 savings bond belonging to my son.  He used to get them deducted from his pay when he was in the Army.  When I called to tell him about that, I found out they plan to be here Tuesday night!  I haven't seen my youngest granddaughter, Lindsay, since Easter... so I'm ready.  Oh, in my rummaging and tossing stuff upstairs, I also found Rachel's (my daughter) first marriage license and her birth certificate, which she'd been wanting.  Today we'll shop, and get as much food in the house as we can to be ready for company.  Saturday the 3rd, my sister Maxine, in Kansas City, North, is having us all (including my daughter Rachel's family) over for a barbecue.  Her one son (from Kansas) and two grandsons (from Oklahoma) and great-granddaughter will be there.  I don't know how long it's been since all of us have been together, because with Jim living in Georgia, he didn't even get back for Mother's funeral.  So I'm looking forward to it.  Just for the record, my sister is the one living person I most admire.  She's as nearly perfect as a person can be, but doesn't have the kind of attitude many "nearly perfect" people have.  I love her dearly.  She's sixteen years older than I am, and has always been a guiding light for me. 


Thursday, June 24, 2004

today wasn't wasted at home

I wish AOL would give more options on "mood".  You can't type in your own word, you have to choose one of theirs.  Cliff just went to work, and I think he's getting over his disappointment at losing a calf.  He buried it this morning, using the John Deere with the bucket loader.  It really was the biggest, nicest calf of the three.  I told Cliff I will take total responsibility, because I am the one who used to raise 50 bottle calves a year, and I knew better than to leave it out there in the pasture Tuesday when we saw it had scours.  Had we brought her up then and given her a shot and electrolytes, she would have made it.  However, "it's but little good you'll do watering last year's crops", so we'll call this a lesson learned.  Next year when the cows have their calves, we'll keep them close to the house.  And we'll have emergency meds on hand in case we get a sick calf again, because these three cows are much heavier milkers than any beef cattle we've had before, and too much milk is usually what causes baby calves nursing their moms to get diarrhea. 

I walked with Cliff this morning, then came home and went through more of my mom's stuff.  I also cleared out a bunch of my own junk... after all, do I REALLY need 25 issues of 1970's vintage Mother Earth News magazines?  I did, however, keep my Better Homes and Gardens magazines from the fifties.  Maybe next junk run I'll toss them, but I love looking at those old ads and reminiscing.  I loved the fifties. 

I'll ride Blue pretty soon down to the river bottom to see how it looks with all the wheat harvested.  I imagine once they bale the straw and get it out of there, they'll plant soybeans.  Farmers' crops are doing fantastic in this wet year. 

can't sleep

The cow whose calf died woke me early bawling for her dead calf, and I finally got up (at this ridiculous hour).  Because Tracy's mother-in-law died, and my alternate ride, Pam, took this day off, I have decided to call in my remaining paid personal day.  I'll stay home and hopefully go through more of my mom's stuff.  I don't have as many options for a ride to work as I used to, but I'm usually still pretty well set. 

The DC will be closed tomorrow, so I'll have a four-day weekend.  Next week's schedule at work is for forty hours, so they must be expecting work to pick up.  There'll be a three-day weekend for the fourth of July.  Next Thursday my son and his family from Georgia will be here for the races at the Kansas Speedway, so I'm glad for a long weekend then.  I will probably try to "green sheet" (unpaid approved time off) one day while they're here.  I'm about out of vacation time, and will need my remaining two vacation days to go to the Missouri state fair with my granddaughters, in August.  

My local horse expert tells me my horse isn't gaiting properly since he was re-shod, and I have to agree that he's a pretty bumpy ride lately.  For some reason it's hard to find and keep a good farrier.  My assistant supervisor at work, Kathy, said she has some names she'll give me.  I'd just like to try someone different:  I don't know of anyone who cares for Mr. Johnson's work, but he was the only one I knew to call.  He's much too expensive.  The $80 for a first shoeing was pretty much normal, but $70 for a reset is out of line. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

sad subject

The Muslem extremists are beheading innocent people; we lost a lovely calf whose death we could have prevented; and I heard the saddest thing from a friend at work this week:

About four years ago, the church I attended was shocked and shamed when a deacon (also a member of the band and choir) who was a schoolteacher in a public school was found to be having relations with a sixteen-year-old female student.  He was sent to prison, where he remains, I believe.  Had this happened across the line in Kansas, he would not have been imprisoned.  His wife divorced him and remarried.  Now for the saddest part:  Sunday, Father's Day, his seventeen-year-old son committed suicide.  Every time I think about this, it makes me so sad.  The boy was in a Christmas play with my grandson, years ago, and had all his lines memorized by the first practice... and said them with feeling.  Now he's gone. 

back to work... I think?

Yesterday I dialed the "hot line" at work and found out I could stay home if I wanted to.  So, that was what I chose.  I went on a walk with Cliff, and then decided to look for the elusive new calf that Monica, the cow, keeps hidden.  I figured I'd just ride bareback on Blue, since I was pooped from the three-mile walk I'd just taken.  The twins next door were already lighting off firecrackers, and I noticed Blue was jumpy and scared when I went to put the halter on him.  That seemed strange, since he wasn't afraid of firecrackers last night.  He kept snorting and looking toward the noise, but I paid no heed.  I did say to myself once, "You are silly to try and ride him bareback, as upset as he seems."

Now, getting my old body atop a tall horse bareback is no small feat.  I stand on an inverted five-gallon bucket and, with great effort, pull myself on.  Blue has always been patient with this.  However, firecrackers sounded and he decided he was being attacked, and he reared a bit and off I went.  He didn't have a clue what had happened, just stood there acting upset.  Needless to say, I saddled him before getting on again.  I do believe the neighborhood boys have been shooting bottle rockets at him to see him run, since he wasn't at all scared of firecracker sounds yesterday!

Cliff was mowing in the pasture, and we did find the calf.  She seemed energetic and fine, although she obviously has diarrhea (scours).  Probably getting more milk than is good for her system.

I went through a few of my mom's things and tossed a lot.  I also took books out of my bookcase in the living room that I haven't looked at in months, and delegated that space to my collection of Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks.  And I put some current pictures in frames that held six-year-old pictures.  There's plenty more to do, though.  While doing all this, I watched PBS' "American Experience" about Jimmy Carter.  The show, like the man himself, was fascinating. 

This morning I'll call Pam, a lady in town, to see if I can ride to work with her.  Tracy, my normal ride, is staying home due to the fact that her mother-in-law is dying of cancer... Hospice has been called in.  This is a lady about my age, probably younger.  Her oldest son is the age of my son.

4:40 PM.  Tracy's mother-in-law, Peg, died today.  In other sad news, the last of our three calves... the one born last Thursday... died of scours today.  Cliff and I noticed the problem yesterday and let it go, so this is something we could have prevented.  I tell myself these are Cliff's cows, not mine, where in the past the cows WERE mine... but I should have insisted he get something for the calf's problem.  Hindsight is 20/20, and I'll bet we don't lose another calf to scours again.  Another lesson learned. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

letting Blue have a social life

Yesterday evening, they closed highway 224 to traffic for a couple of hours so people could walk, ride bikes or ride horses along that route to commemorate Lewis and Clark's passing through here two hundred years ago.  In celebration of this event, this stretch of 224 has been designated a "scenic byway", with signs put up at intervals along the road. 

My reason for joining this group was to give Blue a bit of social time:  I feel sorry for him, not being able to see other horses here.  And he really did enjoy the company!  It got to be a bit boring, since we poked along at a snail's pace (except for Dale McCoy and his prize Walking Horse, who left us in the dust and never looked back).  I could have joined him, but then Blue would only have had the pleasure of one horse's company.  The Wellington-Napoleon school band played for us as we passed Earl Borgman's house (see picture above).

By the time I got home afterward, it was 8:45, and I usually am in bed at 8 on work nights.  So this morning I'm feeling a bit groggy (at 4 AM).  I called the "hot line" to work and discovered that they are offering VTO for today, and I do believe I'll take it; I only worked three hours yesterday.  I won't have much paycheck next week, but that's when the renters pay the rent for the month, so that will make it up. 

Cliff and I haven't seen the newest calf (born last Thursday) for three days now.  The cow, Monica, has her hidden somewhere... we hope!  We both looked off and on all day yesterday, and the three cows and two other calves would be contentedly grazing.  Although we know it's typical for a new calf to sleep a lot, hidden away by the mom, for the first week, we still are a bit uneasy not seeing her. 

I planted a small row of green beans.  We had a Pizza Hut pizza for lunch, thanks to my wheedling and whining that "I never get any pizza any more, since you and the twins go to Pizza Hut when I'm at work."

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Father's Day

Back to normal routine.  I got in a short ride on Blue yesterday, and saw our newest calf (Stormy is what I'm calling her).  Cliff and I walked this morning.  I skipped church simply because I wanted the day at home before going back to work.  Amber is here, as is usual on weekends.  I have some good-sized tomatoes on the vines, and brought in a nice sweet pepper. 

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Time to head home

My suitcase is packed with dirty clothes and keepsakes for family.  I'm eating a cherry turnover for breakfast that I picked up at the Farmer's Market yesterday.  Soon Joanna will be taking me to Dulles to start my journey home, and by noon I should be safely there.  Thank You Lord for friendships made on the Internet and for this wonderful land in which I live.  Another man was beheaded in Iraq yesterday, and that awful news serves to remind me to cherish the freedoms I have, and all the things for which this country stands.

Last night, courtesy of Joanna's boss (Mr. Twit, otherwise known as Bryan) we went to Wolftrap theater and saw "Riverdance".  By the time the enthralling performance ended, I was under the spell of the entire cast... and hopelessly in love with Shawn Beglan, who is probably young enough to be my grandson.  Last night was icing on the cake... a perfect way to end a delightful week.

Friday, June 18, 2004

almost time to go home

Today we left the house at 7:30 and caught the bus at Joanna's church (75 cents) and rode to where we could board the Metro subway.  We managed this with no problem.  We got to the Smithsonian museum of Natural History area early, and I did some souvenir shopping until it opened at 10:00.  We saw the big dinasaurs, the Hope diamond, and other interesting exhibits.  After 1 o'clock, we got a couple of goodies at the Farmer's market and boarded the Metro.  We had a tense few moments when we heard an announcement telling us to get OFF the Metro train we were on and get on a different one.  If we missed our bus at the end of the line, we'd have to wait another hour and a half in the hot sun.  However, we made it... although it was a close call.  As I write this, we're resting up to go see Riverdance tonight at the Wolftrap theater.  I can't believe at this time tomorrow my Washington, DC adventure will be no more than a happy memory... a dream Joanna helped make come true.  I told her earlier, this trip has been sort of a "sampler".  When you go to a nice dining place and don't know what to order, sometimes you can get a sampler platter.  Then when you return, you know what to order.  If I come back to DC (I hope I can get Cliff here) I will have a few ideas of where to go and what to do.  We've done something each day to make it a notable entry into my Washington, DC, memory book.

A better day

AN ANGEL NAMED ASTRID (written June 16)

Yesterday we were supposed to tour the memorials in Washington, DC. We had it all planned out, but the day turned sour right off. When we got to the parking garage and lot for the Metro, there was not a single space. And there were lots of other people circling and looking besides us. Finally, about 11 AM, we decided to find something easy and close to home and start again in the morning. We went to Mannassas battlefield, which was enjoyable and educational. It's humbling to realize that the ground you're walking on has been drenched by the blood of ancesters. However, when we left there, a rock hit Joanna's windshield, leaving a "star" about the size of a fifty-cent piece.

This morning, we left at 7:30, figuring that would give us time if we had to change any plans. Plan A was to go park in the parking lot at Joanna's church, in Centreville and catch a bus to the place where we could get on the Metro. Plan B: we'd drive to Dulles (very near Joanna's home), pay the $12 parking at the New National Air and Space museum there, and take the bus from there. Plan C: We'd call Joanna's friend, Steve, and have him take us to the Vienna Metro.

Armed with all these backup plans, away we went. There was plenty of room in the Metro parking lot (good sign) and we went to the bus stop and prepared to wait for about a half-hour.

That's when an SUV pulled up at the bus stop, and a trendy-looking young career-woman type rolled down the window and asked, "Do you want to go to Washington, DC?"

It turns out that, if you have at least two people with you, you can use the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane and get into town much faster. She had been called in to work, and didn't want to crawl through traffic.

After yesterday's problems, Joanna and I were simply astounded at this "angel" we felt God had sent us. It simplified our day so much, and got us to the Vietnam Vet's memorial a half-hour before the trams even started running. Not only that, but Astrid, our heaven-sent Taxi driver, was a wonderful conversationalist. So the time we spent with her fairly flew. She even gave us her cell phone number in case we were still there at 4 PM, so she could pick us up; but in the heat and humidity, neither of us was ready to stay that long.

And it was just this morning I was singing to myself, "Be not dismayed, whate'er betide; God will take care of you...."

So, that's how things went yesterday.  I bought our dinner at Sweetwater Tavern yesterday evening.  It rains every evening, but not all that much.  And it hasn't once interupted our plans.

We saw:  Lincoln Memorial, JKF's grave and all of Arlington Cemetary; WWII Memorial; Vietnam Memorial (although most of it was boarded over... they are adding new lighting); a glimpse of the White House.

Those memorials are touching beyond words, as is Arlington.  I'm so glad Joanna gave me this opportunity!


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Wednesday evening.... 12 hours later than last entry

Well, just to show the best-laid plans of mice and men "gang aft aglay" (and women too) we went to the parking garage for the Metro and circled for over an hour, and found not one space!  By then it was getting late, so we decided to throw in the towel for today and go someplace else after lunch.  We chose Manassas battlefield, which really was a good choice.  There's a sacred feeling about the place, as I realized that the blood of our good ancesters soaked much of the soil I was walking on.  We then went by Joanna's chiropractor, Dave, so she could get a little adjustment... she isn't used to walking as much as what she's done this week.  I must say she looked more relaxed walking out of his office than she did going in.  

The most troubling thing that happened all day was that a rock or stone somehow got flung against the windshield of Joanna's car and put a star in it about the size of a half-dollar.  She's already talked to her insurance agent, and it sounds hopeful that it can be fixed reasonably.  Even on a day where things didn't go right, I've enjoyed myself; more than anything, I have felt sorry for my friend and her frustration.... but she seems to have weathered it well.

Tomorrow we'll try the Metro again, but we will start early, and we have not one, but TWO backup plans.  Here's hoping!

Wednesday morning

We saw the National Air and Space Museum yesterday, and took one another's pictures in front of the Enola Gay.  I got Cliff a couple of too-expensive souvineers; I know he would have absolutely loved the place, because he loves anything with engines.  We went to Joanna's favorite grocery store, Giant, and picked up a few items, including some lovely rolls that made the BEST sandwiches for our lunch.  I read, and we watched a bit of Dr. Phil, Oprah, and Biography together.  Oprah had a fellow telling us how to become millionaires, and Joanna was taking notes until she fell asleep in the middle of it all.  Joanna made some lucious spaghetti for our supper which, along with a salad, was as good as anything we could have gone out and gotten.  I have roll dough rising, so we'll have cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Today is Cliff's birthday, and I'll call him later on when he's had time to get out of bed.  Who knows, we might have a new calf at home, and if we do... and it's a heifer... we will have doubled our herd size from three to six in a single year!

Monday, June 14, 2004

A Full Day

We picked up Sam in Maryland and went on to Baltimore.  It was almost noon when we parked, so we looked for a place right away, and settled on a seafood place... McCormack and Scmick's.  The food was excellent, but I'm not used to eating so high on the hog two days in a row; I think tomorrow we'll just see about picking up a sandwich.   Our time at Baltimore was spent at the National Aquarium:  First we watched the trained dolphins, and then went on to see all kinds of aquatic life on several levels of the building.  I think it's the first time I've met an octupus face to face. 

We did have an adventure getting out of Baltimore.  Sam is used to being on the other side of Inner Harbor, so wasn't quite sure where we were.  And Joanna and I neither one had a clue.  We did get a nice tour of downtown Baltimore, though, and several ethnic districts... in fact, we saw several of the ethnic districts more than once.  Finally Sam called Lou, her husband, on Bnana's cell phone, and he talked us out of Baltimore.  Whew.  And then the traffic!  It took us at least two hours to get home AFTER we dropped Sam off.  I did get one chuckle as we sat parked on 495 though:  Beside us was parked a van with lettering on it that read, "Holy Spirit Heating and Air Conditioning; Pay Less and Get Blessed".  I found that hilarious.

We've had some of those great Nathan's Hot Dogs, cooked on Joanna's Nathan's grill.  I have to get one of those, just to cook my hot dogs.  She says they're good for ribeye steak, too.

Another full, fun day, and we're both tired to the bone.

The start of my second day here

5:AM  Yesterday we went to Mount Vernon, which was quite enjoyable.  We ate at the restaurant there... good food and not a bad price.  There was quite a long line waiting to tour the place, but it moved along at a fairly good pace. 

Jake is accepting me pretty well now.  In fact, as I type this, he's on the floor near me, meowing for attention!  I slept like a baby last night.  Today is my 38th wedding anniversary!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I'm in Virginia!

I had a wonderful trip.  When the plane took off from KCI shortly after 2:30, I noticed we were following the Missouri River.  Since I live close to the river, I watched for landmarks and actually located my home!  It was so exciting to me to see my place from the air, and see the ripe wheat where Blue carries me so often.

Before I left I went for a last ride, and went through the cemetary.  Far back from the road, in the old part of the graveyard, were two foxes watching me.  As I headed toward them, one immediately ran into the woods.  But the other sat and watched me; he'd turn to leave, then circle, sit on his haunches, and watch my approach again.

I'm getting into the good graces of  Joanna's kitties, and as usual, Joanna and I talk non-stop.  It seems we always have something to talk about.  Life is good!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

another half-day at work

We picked up our new Mercury Grand Marquis.  What a car.  And an added bonus, it has a CD player!  Our car payments remain the same as they were for the Explorer, so we can handle that.  It was clean when we got it, but we drove home in the rain.    I put straw around my tomato plants.

I took a vacation day for tomorrow, too.  We'll take care of our car insurance and do a little shopping for Cliff, so he'll have something to eat while I'm gone to DC.  It's almost time!

All day long I couldn't find the new calf, Junie.  Her mom had her hidden someplace.  Tonight I went out and there she was, running with the herd.  April is glad to have a playmate, she won't leave Junie alone.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

a normal work day

Our new supervisor at work is making herself felt.  None of her changes have so far affected me, but I'm braced!

It's a cool day with light rain.  A new heifer calf was born around noon to Spook.  We had wondered if she would have any mothering abilities, but she's doing great.  If Monica (the cow) has a heifer calf, we will have doubled our herd size in the first year. 

I filled out a green sheet for tomorrow; Cliff will pick me up at 10 AM and we'll go get our new car.  I can't wait! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

I only worked half a day

There just isn't a lot to do at work.  Yesterday the ones who were there ended up sweeping floors toward the end of the day.  So, when they offered EQ (early quit) I found a ride home with a co-worker, Cindy.  I was hoping we could go pick up our car, but Cliff was back at Higginsville chasing tractor parts.  However, we did get everything out of the Explorer and the original radio put back in it... also took the hitch off it.

Every once in a while I like to get on Blue with no saddle, just to see if I still can.  Believe me, it's an effort!  I have a 5-gallon bucket I stand on, but it's still an ordeal pulling myself onto his back.  I'm always very proud when I once more get up there.  I just ride him bareback around the yard and pasture at a slow foxtrot or walk.

However, I did take a long ride in the heat of the day, later on this afternoon.  When we got back I hosed Blue down to cool him off quicker.  I thought about turning the hose on myself.  It's 87, but feels hotter to me.

Monday, June 7, 2004

My busy day off

I awoke around 4 AM, got up and made coffee.  I could tell it was going to be a hot day, so I decided to get my daily ride in as early as possible.  By 5:15, as it was barely starting to get light, I was at the barn with Blue.  We had an outstanding ride, going at least twelve miles, with Blue in a peppy foxtrot all the way.  I ended up wishing I had skipped the coffee, though:  I had to find woods or tall weeds three times while we were out.  I'm glad my horse is patient with me while I'm mounting and dismounting.

I was home by 7:15, and Cliff was already up.  I put Blue out to pasture, came inside, traded my boots for walking shoes, and went for a three-mile walk with Cliff.  In the back of my mind I was planning on picking some cherries and making jam today.

It was not to be, though.  Cliff needed to take a tractor part to Higginsville, and wanted my company.  Besides, he was going to Orschelns (a farm supply store) and I needed some fly spray for Blue.  I'm not sure how much good my company did Cliff, since his brother kept him occupied on the cell phone about half the time.

I decided we'd have taco salad for lunch, and when we returned home, I got hamburger out to thaw.  We started discussing how we dislike our Ford Explorer, and recalled test-driving a couple of program cars (Mercury Marquis) a few months back.  "I wonder if they're still up at Richmond?"  I said.

With 2 1/2 hours till time for Cliff to leave for work, away we went to Richmond.  Yes, they still had both of the cars we had lusted after six months ago... and the price has gone down.  Who knows what will happen next?

With insufficient time to make taco salad, we went through a Taco Bell drive-up and got a couple of Burrito Supremes.  Those are way too messy to eat in a car, especially for the driver.  As if that didn't make driving difficult enough, Phil called once again on the cell phone, and talked for another twenty minutes, while I held the pitiful remains of Cliff's burrito.

When we got home this time, Cliff had 35 minutes to take his shower, get ready for work, and make his lunch.  What a day.  No cherry jam as yet, but at least I had a wonderful ride.

Sunday, June 6, 2004

Day's end on Sunday

I arrived home from church to find my daughter, her husband, and their two girls here.  Fixed a quick lunch, then Rachel and I went shopping for groceries and also went to Kohls and Sam's.  Cliff is always glad to get out of the grocery run.  Rachel rode Blue when we got back, and Cliff took the girls to the park.  Kevin stayed here and watched the race on TV.  We discussed the incredible horse race that took place yesterday, and how Smarty Jones lost his third part of the triple crown.

Church Day

For many years, I attended New Life Assembly of God.  My friend, Carol, invited me to ride with her years ago.  That's how I chose that church.  I don't drive, and Cliff is not big on Church attendance.  It's fifteen miles to New Life, and Carol's health is declining; so I made the decision to choose a church close enough to home that, if need be, Cliff could take me and then pick me up.

My choices were:  The local Baptist church, which has shrunk to almost nothing in attendance; a Methodist church, about which I know nothing at all; a non-denominational Pentecostal church; and the old German Church, which left the United Church of Christ and allied itself with the Evangelical Free denomination.  I have a friend who drives right past my house to attend that church, so I chose it.  Diane seems glad to have me.

I am enjoying the traditions of this Church... saying the Lord's prayer each Sunday, and the Apostle's creed.  I had not attended churches before that made these a part of each Sunday's agenda.  Just before worship begins, someone rings the 100-year-old bell, and I get goosebumps every time it tolls.

The membership includes a lot of white-haired and balding folks, but I think that's how it is with most small-town churches... and I'm getting more gray in my hair all the time.  I'm just glad I have a place to worship God. 

Saturday, June 5, 2004

a good ride

I decided my horse, Blue, just need a little encouragement to keep up a good "foxtrot" and used a switch sparingly on him yesterday.  So today, he was ready to keep up the pace during our whole ride.  It was most enjoyable, except for two dogs across the road who chased us for a half-mile down the road.  One is a Blue heeler, and he insisted on nipping Blue's heels (I just saw the humor in that wording).  Coming home he started it again, and I turned Blue toward him, in a open field, and more or less dared him to chase us until Blue connected with a good kick!  I got so much pleasure out of that!  It made a sound like someone splitting a ripe watermelon with a hammer, and the dog went yelping away.  If people cared about their pets, wouldn't they keep them at home?  I hosed my tired horse off with cold water from a hose... he loves that... and turned him into his pen to rest. 

Saturday at home

I made the cherry pie today; it's tasty, but I tried to cram too many cherries into one pie.  So of course, it boiled over.
Last night Cliff and I saw George Jones at Ameristar Casino.  It was sold-out.   This poem tells how I felt:
© copyright June 5, 2004
Donna Wood
The old man doesn't sing as well as he did, years ago.
The booze and cigarettes and drugs were hard on him, you know.
They used to call him "No-show Jones", but these days he shows up,
And when he gets a drink, it's simply water in his cup.
He sang the songs we love to hear.  Of course, we knew he would.
His voice got raspy toward the end... but oh, those songs are good!
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes"
"Why Baby Why" and "Choices".  Yes, the old man paid his dues.
And we went wild at every number, clapping loud and long:
So many pleasant memories are are summoned, by each song.
If he could only speak the words, and couldn't sing a note,
We'd love him just the same, without his famous, golden throat!
No matter what befell me, George was singing through it all:
He sang when I was single, and when my two kids were small.
And he was crooning when the kids grew up and went away.
Sweet memories are stirred by every note he sings today.
He only sang an hour, when it all was said and done.
I paid a lot to see a has-been, born in '31...
But George is such a vital part of everywhere I've been,
I don't regret the money spent:  I'd do it all again!


Friday, June 4, 2004

picking cherries

I went to work at the DC today, but there wasn't much to do.  So after hearing a very trivial announcement from the top dog at the place, a group of us went to Bob Evans for breakfast, then home. 

I cleaned my horse's water tank to get rid of algae, staked a few tomatoes (and I do have some pea-sized tomatoes now) and picked cherries.  I hope it's enough for a pie.  I would have made the pie, but I wanted to ride Blue, my horse.  And there just aren't enough hours in the day to do it all.  So, I took a ride down along the Missouri River bottom along the edge of a wheat-field (which is almost ready to harvest).  I returned in time to go for a haircut at 5 PM, then Cliff and I came home to a meal of pork chops, baked potato and corn.  He's usually at work in the evening, but we're going to Ameristar Casino to see George Jones.