Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. What do you tend to focus on the most?
   A.  The past.
   B.  The present.
   C.  The future as you think it will be.
   D.  The future as you are afraid it will be.

No doubt about it; I'm a live-in-the-present person.

2. Name three famous people (living or dead) whose blogs you would like to be able to read.

Joseph... the one in the Bible with the "coat of many colors"; Stonewall Jackson; I've been fascinated with his life every since I saw the place where he died, when I was visiting my friend Sue in Virginia; Jimmy Carter

3. How long have you lived in your current residence?  30 years in June  How much longer do you intend to live in the same place?  We'll live here until Cliff is too old or infirm to keep up with 42 acres; should he precede me in death, I'd sell the place and move.  I love it here, but I wouldn't even attempt to maintain the place.  And I don't drive, so I have no business in the country alone.

4. Take the
pointless quiz:  What color is your heart?  red 

5. How many of AOL's journalers have you met in person?  Of course I've met my son, my daughter, and my ex-daughter-in-law.  And three or four Internet friends from an old chat room have journals.  I've met a couple of them long before we had journals.  Just last Saturday, I met Toonguy, Sim, and Ksquester.      How many have you spoken with by telephone?  I actually dislike talking on the phone, and use it as little as possible.  No, except for the aforementionedrelatives, I've not talked to any journal friends on the phone.

6. RAPID FIRE Question #2:  Who or what is the most annoying:
   a) Politician
   b) Late Night Talk Show Host
   c) Color
   d) Habit
   e) Female Celebrity
   f) Male Celebrity
   g) Television Show
   h) Commercial
   i) Fashion Statement
   j) Word      

This shouldn't be such a hard question for me, but the truth is, I don't have that many things that annoy me, or at least I don't obsess on them.  I think I'll pass on this one.


Friday, April 29, 2005

Weekend Assignment #57: Beyond Our Borders

Weekend Assigment #57: Share some of your favorite Journals, Blogs and Web sites not on AOL Journals.

It'll have to be a web site, because the blogs I'm really hooked on are right here in J-land.  I'll sometimes peek at a few outside AOL, just because they're "a friend of a friend". 

I have some message boards I lurk on, and sometimes post.  The site I'm going to mention, though, is the one to which I go with livestock questions.  Especially the equine message board.  There are knowledgeable people to answer my questions.  If you live in the city, I doubt this one will interest you.  It's Homesteading Today.  I had a chance to buy a Jersey cow on their barter board once, she just wasn't quite the right age, and wasn't bred to a Jersey.

Extra credit: Find a link you think your mother might like. What is it?

I have two.  This cracks me up, in a way... but I believe these are the ones she'd be most likely to be interested in; I found them with the help of Google.  The first is Churches of Christ on the web.  As far as Mother was concerned, this was THE Church.  Everything else was just "denominations". 

The second is this:  The Worldwide Quilting Page.  After retirement, my mother turned out quilts like a factory!  Every family member has several of her quilts.  My ex-daughter-in-law recently found one in storage that was given to her and my son when they were married, and figured he might want it.  I'm sure he will.

A Horse of a Different Color

We spent $30 on a riding helmet, so Natalie's head will be protected when she rides Blue.  I guess that isn't too high a price for peace of mind... and the knowledge that she won't be quite so easily hurt, in the event of an accident. 

Cliff and I usually don't like the same stores when we shop:  He likes Clark Tool, or Sears.  I like WalMart, Sams Club, and Kohls.  But there is one place we both enjoy, and browse to our hearts' content.  Tractor Supply!  Cliff looks at all the farm-related stuff, tools, and such.  I love looking at the dozens of horse items.  Besides the riding helmet, I got Blue's next round of wormer and a new mane-and-tail comb, one with wide teeth.  Oh, and a sack of All-stock (feed for Blue). 

After doing our grocery shopping, we went to look at the horse I mentioned before.  She's a registered Foxtrotter, four years old.  A lovely dun mare (I forgot to take the camera).  BUT... she's too much horse for this old lady.  She was obviously scared to death when we approached, snorting and jumping back.  We saddled her, and I did get on.  But she refused to head away from the other horse waiting back in the pen.  I decided not to force the issue.  The lady who owns her assured us that she's ridden this horse quite a bit, back last summer.  She's just always ridden with the other horse beside her.

They're asking $1,200.  I'm sure they'd go down to $1,000.  It would be nice to have a mare, and the possibility of a colt in our future.  However, I'd need to spend money having someone work with her.  That could make her a mighty expensive investment.  I think I'll pass.

Besides, there's a huge Jersey sale in Seneca, Kansas, next weekend.  Jersey cows aren't as likely to hurt an old woman.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

We got doctors

Cliff has had pain in his heels for some time, but lately, it's been shutting him down... to the point he'd rather sit in his recliner than go to the shop.  That is NOT Cliff!  He hates going to doctors, but I made him an appointment, then proceeded to nag, cajole and threaten him so he'd keep the appointment.  And he did.  He has heel spurs, and not much can be done for them.  But the doctor told him about some inserts to get for his shoes.  Cliff bought them, and says they really help.  He can get cortizone shots if the pain puts him completely out of business.  Oh, and the doctor visit was a timely one anyway:  Cliff's blood pressure was high, so he now has one MORE BP pill to take.

I scheduled a mammogram for next Monday.  Now I've made an appointment with my orthopedist on Wednesday.  I guess it's a sign of old age, when you're seeing more than one doctor per week.  Geesh, this journal is starting to sound like "General Hospital".  There are reasons why I'm seeing my orthopedist, but I'll go into that later.

P.S.  We're going to look at a horse for sale tomorrow.  Of course I wouldn't think of buying another horse; I'm just window-shopping, that's all.  :-x 

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Blue has many riders

My next-door neighbor, Marvin, has four kids, I think; or is it five?  This is Anna, the twelve-year-old.  Her parents have promised her a horse, and she wants to practice riding so she'll be ready when the time comes.  Since Natalie has been riding Blue with no threat of danger to herself, I'm letting Anna ride, as long as I'm up to going out and supervising closely.  She's building her confidence, and as she does so, Blue is more content.

Her eight-year-old sister, Mariah, came along last time, wanting to ride.  This time they also had Spencer, their five-year-old brother, in tow.

"I suppose you want a ride too?"  I asked him.  He just nodded silently.  All Marvin's children are soft-spoken, and seem rather fragile.  Of course, I'm accustomed to my grandchildren who, like their grandma, are robust and loud.

So I spent the better part of an hour, giving tips on grooming and riding and, at the last, leading Blue around the yard with the two younger kids on his back. 

It's rewarding, though.  The look on Anna's face as she rides is priceless.

We intend to buy a riding helmet for Natalie.  I'll let Anna use if if possible... although she has a small head, so it may not work for her.  Maybe I should pursuade her parents to buy her one.  If they really ARE going to buy her a horse, she'll be needing it anyway.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mother's day is coming

I appreciate my mother.  She wanted a baby for so long, and finally got me.  She was thirty-two, and I was her first child to make it... barely.  She had what was then known as uremic poisoning.  I think it's called toxemia now.  They warned her that I might not live.  In fact, there was a chance that both she and I would die.

My mom had such high hopes for me.  And I don't think I ever lived up to any of them.

I didn't marry a good Church boy.  I smoked and drank back then, although never in front of her.  Not out of respect, but knowing I'd get a lecture if I did. 

When I finally returned to the Church, it was the WRONG church.  So we couldn't discuss religion.

I was never able to bare my heart to my mother.  I couldn't be myself with her.  She so wanted me to fit the mold she made for me, and I don't fit into anyone's molds.  I'm sure I disappoint a lot of people because of this.

And yet, she loved me.  She would have laid down her life for me.

She had me in Church at least three times a week.  That's a good thing, believe it or not.  I learned to listen to boring sermons at a very young age, and actually get something out of them.

For years, I blamed all my faults on my mother.  Then one day I woke up and realized I wouldn't be who I am without my unique raising.  I enjoy life as much as anyone I know; would I, if I'd had a different kind of upbringing?

So, here's to my mom.  I don't think I did half as good a job raising my children as she did with me.  I only wish she would have let me be myself.  I hope my two children feel free to be who they really are, with me. 

Here's the poem I wrote about my mom, the day I finally woke up and realized how hard she tried.  She requested that I read it at her funeral, which I did.

(c) Donna Wood

I didn’t have a mother who would party every night,
Or run out to the taverns and then come in late, half-tight.
I didn’t have a mother who would sit in clouds of smoke
And puff on endless cigarettes while those around her choked.

I didn’t have a mother who would take God’s name in vain;
She never said a cuss-word, even when she was in pain.
I didn't have a mother who cheated on her man:
I'm sure my dad was well aware she was his biggest fan!

I had the kind of mother who would read the Holy Book,
And never gave pornography a single, fleeting look.
I had a mom who went to church at least three times a week,
And never lost her faith in God, though times were often bleak.

I had a mom who always made me learn my memory verse.
When I was sick, I had a mom who served me as a nurse.
I got a lot of spankings, ‘cause I had that kind of mother….
But looking back, I wouldn’t trade my mom for any other!



I deliberately put Blue's ears in pictures taken on my rides.  He shares all this with me, and I want people to realize he's there.  I noticed today that he can identify the shape of another horse at a far distance.  Sometimes he'll catch the scent of a horse before he sees it, and whinnie excitedly.  Today, though, it was too windy for him to catch any scents.  I noticed some wind damage to farmers' sheds caused by our recent storm.  One metal barn had been completely torn off its foundation and left in a heap.

If you could have seen the gardens I raised for the first twenty-five years of my marriage, you'd be amazed at the size of the one I have this year.  I used to can green beans and beets, and freeze quarts of sweet corn and pints of peas.  I made lucious watermelon pickles.  It saved us money on the food bill, and I enjoyed doing it.

Once the kids left home, though, I'd can things and they'd sit there for years.  Cliff and I found it made more sense to buy our canned goods at the store, rather than produce them ourselves.  I planted small crops:  a row or two of green beans to eat fresh-picked, a few radishes for early spring enjoyment.  I always continued to set out lots of tomato plants.  I "put up" tomatoes even when I'd stopped all other canning.  After I got my present job, five years ago, I stopped all canning.  Still, I planted far too many tomatoes, just so I could share them with co-workers.  And share I did.

Well, this year, I planted only enough tomatoes for us, and perhaps our daughter.  Here's my garden for 2005:

There are five tomato plants and four pepper plants.  We've already caged everything because of my "wonder dog" Mandy, and her friend Buddy.  They'd undoubtedly have it all destroyed, otherwise. 

That vast, plowed area behind my garden is my mushroom neighbor, Marvin's, sweet corn plot.  He's on disability now, and hopes to make some extra money with a truck garden.

Monday, April 25, 2005

an update, pictures, and a poem

I called the pharmacy and found out I can take antiacids; I just have to wait at least two hours after the Doxycycline.  Whew.

I went looking for mushrooms and saw not a sign of them.  But you can see in the above pictures that my time wasn't wasted.

At my meeting with J-land friends Saturday, someone mentioned toad-licking (or was it smoking?).  This reminded me of a poem I wrote in 1991, after reading an article in the Kansas City Star.  To read about licking toads, click here.  Anyhow, I sent the poem to my new friends, and Anne says I must blog it.  So, here it is, in all its glory:

August, 1991 
(c) Donna Wood    
I've always read the papers, and I've read some funny stuff,
But I read something recently that struck me pretty rough:
It seems somebody figured out that toads will make you high.
You can lick 'em, or chop up their skin and smoke it, when it's dry.
The side effects are dangerous, but if you come through alive,
You can tell your friends you smoked a toad and, somehow, still survived.
The ordinary garden toad, they say, will get you by;
But that Colorado River Toad will really‹ make you fly!

I know it may sound funny, but I'd like to meet the guy
Who figured out that licking toads is going to make you high!
The first time he tried licking toads, had he had a couple drinks?
I wonder what he looks like, and I wonder how he thinks.    
He probably introduced his friends to the joys of licking toads;
Did they smear them with some jelly?  Did they try them alamode?
I s'pose one day somebody said, "This lickin' toads is grim; 
Let's kill the little fellas, and then we can smoke the skin! 

I'll bet they traveled near and far and searched the country through
Before they figured out that not just any toad would do.
One day, out in the Rockies, lickin' every toad he met,
Some weirdo hollered, "Over here's the best toad I've licked yet!"   
That poor old toad was popular:  they passed him all around.
The Colorado Spotted Toad was the best they'd ever found!
It's a psychedelic pleasure --- even better than LSD,
And with hop-toads running everywhere, you can have this thrill for free. 

Well, now it's made the papers, so the whole wide world will know,
And folks'll be lickin' and smokin' toad, anywhere you go.
You'll see them in the gardens, and in the middle of the roads
Pursuing that elusive high you can get from smokin' toad!   
Forget the crack and cocaine, and the marijuana, too.
That stuff is so expensive, when just any old toad will do.
It's a wonderful experience, a psychedelic thrill,
And the only little problem is, it could just get you killed!

I hate meds!

I had a tick bite that developed into a splotchy, bulls-eye patch that looked very much like Lyme disease.  Anne, the lady I met Saturday, had me send her a picture of the rash, and her husband (who ought to know, since he's a dermatologist... I think) said it was likely Lyme. 

But before Anne saw the picture, I went to my doctor's office Thursday and saw a nurse-practitioner.  I was armed with plenty of information, thanks to the Internet.  So I was surprised when she said they'd take blood and test for Lyme, because my information (Anne's husband confirmed this) says you won't test positive for Lyme until at least a month after exposure.  It had been less than a week since I got my tick bite.  But as much time as I spend in the woods each year, and as many tick-bites as I've had, at least figured I'd know if I had it previously.

I was given a prescription for a ten-day supply of Doxycycline, 100 MG, to be taken twice a day, with a large glass of water, to avoid esophogal problems.  I noted that anti-acids are not to be taken with this medication.  They interfere with it, somehow.

Today I got a call from the clinic:  The Lyme test was negative.  Big surprise. 

So, I told her my feelings about the blood test.  And also, that I'd read that the antibiotic should be taken for 28 to 30 days after the rash shows.

"So, do you want another Lyme test after thirty days?" 

"No, I just want enough antibiotic to make thirty days' worth.  And by the way, I'm having horrible heartburn.  Could you find out if there's anything I can take that won't interfere with the medicine?"  (Years ago, I had an espophageal ulcer; and I do NOT care to experience that again.)

She took notes and said the nurse-practicioner won't be in until Wednesday, but will get in touch with me then.

On the bright side, my blood sugar was 100, and I'd had a big breakfast that morning.  My cholesterol and all the other things they test for were perfect.

At the clinic Thursday, my temperature was 96.9, as always (if it's ever up to 98.6, it means I have a fever).  And my blood pressure was something like 120 over 65. 

I'm glad I am so disgustingly healthy, because prescription drugs sure don't agree with me!

Focus on God

I'm sharing another Purpose-Driven Life Daily Devotional here:

Focus on God
by John Fischer

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

Are you ever overwhelmed by so much spiritual advice that you wonder how you can remember all this stuff? Ever return from a seminar or weekend retreat and almost wish you didn’t go because now you have fifteen other things to add to your “to do” list in order to really be a good Christian? Ever feel like you are inundated with too many steps, principles, guidelines, yes, and even purposes, that you can’t keep them all straight?

Well good news, there’s really only one thing to remember: Focus on God.

If reading this devotional every day only complicates your life then unsubscribe; I am doing you a disservice. If they are true to what they should be, these words every day should simplify your life. They should bring you some relief. The success of The Purpose Driven Life is not that it gives people five more things to think about, but it reduces everything to five, and ultimately to only one thing: you were made for God, focus on Him. Phew! Thank you!

Ever notice how when you hear the truth, it’s like a knot coming undone inside you? And conversely, when you hear falsehood, it’s like someone is pulling the knot tighter? The truth lets you take a deep breath; falsehood chokes you.

If you need a degree in order to get it right, then it is probably wrong. The truth “uncomplicates” our lives. St. Peter is not going to be standing at the gate of heaven when you get there and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, but you were only a four point Calvinist. You have to have all five to get in,” because just inside that gate are a bunch of children who got in by being… well… children. If a child can’t get it, then it’s not the truth. Incidentally those children are there because they got one thing right: God is their Father and they are at His mercy. Focus on God.

Even the two great commandments Jesus gave us (quoted above) come down to one, because if you love God, you will love your neighbor. He gave us the second one to show us whether or not we were doing the first, as John later wrote: it’s impossible to love God and hate your neighbor (1 John 4:12, 20).

So focus on God. Get that one right and you’ll get all the rest. Phew!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Another great Sunday

It's been a full day.  Cliff and I, with the usual two granddaughers, as well as seventeen-year-old Amber, went to early Church.  When I got home I started the yeast rolls rising, rolled out noodles, peeled potatoes, and in general got dinner started.  I even made a pumpkin pie.  Rachel helped with cleanup, and then we saddled up to ride.  I planned to ride Blue, with Rachel on Buddy, but Natalie wanted to ride; and I felt she was ready to ride alone, as long as someone was alongside to guide her.  So she took my place.  As you can see by the pictures, everything went smoothly.  Then Kevin rode Blue awhile, with Rachel and Buddy (I think that's his name now).  Finally my grandson Arick rode Blue, and (this is the great part) I rode Buddy!  He performed better today than he has since Rachel got him.  I do believe he's going to work out.  It's going to be nice that two people can ride together sometimes.

On days like this, I feel rich as a king to be able to live in the country.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I met some J-landers today

OK, the original cast of "Inner and Outer Demons, the movie" met face to face today.  Maybe I should explain how this all started.

When I first started my journal in June, I often did searches for journals with interests common to mine.  For instance, I would go to AOL Journals and type in a word like horses.  That led me to one of my favorite Journals, Csandhollow's "My Day And Thoughts".

One day, wondering if there were people in my own area with journals, I seached J-land for "Kansas City".  The first one to come up was "Inner And Outer Demons".  I went there and discovered it was a brand new journal, with only a couple of entries.  "It's just some gay guy," I thought to myself, and went on to other things. 

But I returned to the journal.  This was a person radically different than me; in fact, I'm not sure we had anything in common.  But I kept going back.  He seemed very angry in many of his entries, but you could feel, somehow, that there was a real person with a heart there.  I began to leave comments, and one day got brave enough to e-mail him with a question or two.  For instance, I wanted to know how his parents handled his being gay.  He was very polite in the way he answered my questions.

Somewhere along the line, another person started leaving comments in Toonguy's journal:  another local person, Simwarford.  He seemed nice enough, and very intelligent.  After his leaving a few comments in Toonguy's journal, I e-mailed him and asked why he didn't have his own journal.  After all, he seemed to have plenty to say.  (Should I mention that Sim is gay too?)  He said he preferred to use Toonguy's journal as his own, and in the long run, it's worked out well.

One day it occurred to me that this whole situation could be the basis for a movie:  Right-wing, conservative Christian woman, age 60, starts having regular dialogues with two gay men.  Maybe something in the vein of "Driving Miss Daisy".  Perhaps a writer could fictionalize it and turn it into a thriller; or make it a tear-jerker with somebody dying at the end (the old woman?  one of the gay guys?). 

Later, a lady named Anne (Ksquester) joined the team, and then my daughter.  This, I felt, rounded out the cast of the movie, "Inner and Outer Demons".  

All my life I've pretty much stayed in my circle, and more or less tried to stick with people who believe like me.  A while back I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and meet someone I'd not ordinarily run into.  So we, the cast of an imaginary movie, planned a meeting.

Russ chose the place we'd meet.  It's the first bar I've been in in years.  In fact, even in the days when I drank lots of beer, I didn't go to bars.  But today I made an exception, and it was a great adventure.  We laughed, we hugged, we talked (well, Sim didn't have a lot to say, but the rest of us made up for him).  We all had an excellent BLT for lunch.

I'm learning that people can be interesting and fun, even if they have NOTHING in common with me.  I even forgive Russ for not liking John Ashcroft.  ROFL! 

Rachel and I both took pictures, but none of them turned out.  She ended up with one shot where you can actually tell who is who, and you'll find it on her latest entry.

My husband was relieved that Sim and Russ didn't try and "recruit" his wife; nor did they turn out to be axe murderers.

What an adventure today has been.

Journals make me re-think ideas

Regarding this question from Patrick, in my previous entry: 

4. Recent reports indicate that some pharmacists are refusing to sell their customers the controversial "morning-after pill" when the customer prevents their prescription. Should pharmacists be allowed to refuse to sell a medication for which a customer presents a valid prescription based on their own religious beliefs? 

My first answer, which I deleted, was no, a pharmacist should not be allowed to refuse the customer.  Then I pondered awhile, and decided to the contrary... yes, they should be allowed to refuse a customer.  But after reading some answers from other J-landers, and reading their well-thought-out reasons for their answers...

I don't know.  It's another of those issues where there doesn't seem to be any right answer, for me.  But seeing the other viewpoints has certainly made me think... and that's a good thing. 

Patrick's Saturday Six

This week, Patrick asked these questions from a non-AOL site, since so many J-landers have been having problems with journals.  Click here to find Patrick's new site.

1. If you could ask any question of the head honcho of AOL about the recent journal concerns, what would your question be? 

Why can't you restore Armand's journal which you deleted?

2. How many journals do you visit regularly in an average week...or...if you use a blog aggregator service like "Bloglines," how many journals do you have in your subscription lists? 

Just guessing, I'd say I visit 50 or more in a week, because I'll be reading one of my regulars and then check out some of the favorites they've linked, while I'm there.

3. Back in July,
I asked which of the Seven Deadly Sins (pride, envy, gluttony, anger, greed, sloth, and lust,) you were most guilty of. Now, it's time to pat yourselves on the back and figure out which one you are the least guilty of. 

I'd say lust.  But then, I'm an old lady.

4. Recent reports indicate that some pharmacists are refusing to sell their customers the controversial "morning-after pill" when the customer prevents their prescription. Should pharmacists be allowed to refuse to sell a medication for which a customer presents a valid prescription based on their own religious beliefs? 

Well, I guess that's no different than a doctor refusing to perform an abortion.  After all, the person can go to another pharmecy and get her prescription.  I had to re-think this one, and delete my first answer, by the way.

5. Take
this personality test: What type of personality does it say you are? Then go back to this page, click the link that matches your results. Read the description: how accurate do you think it is about you? 

My type is ISFP.  The description is somewhat accurate, but I wavered on some of my answers.  For a few of the questions in the test, I needed a third choice.... like "I don't care" or "I don't know", rather than having to choose yes or no.

SpringsNymph: You've received an unexpected windfall of $50,000. What home improvement would you spend it on?

I don't like much about my house.  I'd choose to pay off the $38,000 we owe on it, tear it down, and go buy a simple modular home to put in its place.  The only reason we haven't done this is that the bank won't let us tear down this old house while we owe them money on it.  And banks hate modular homes, so we can't simply re-finance and throw in the price of the modular.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

another journal for you to check out

The most heart-wrenching journal I read is "Watching My Sister... Disappear".  Click on the link if you want to read about a lady who is watching Alzeimer's disease take her sister away from her.  If I could only read one journal, this would be the one.  It could happen to any of us; I only hope to God, if it happens to me, that I have someone who loves me as much as the lady who keeps this blog loves her sister.


We're having lovely strong storms as I type this, at 6:15... the kind where it rains sideways. 

Since one of my tick bites looked suspicious (red ring around it), I went to the doctor today.  I'm now on antibiotics, just in case.  They took blood to send off, but from what I've read, you can never be sure if you have Lyme disease or not.  I'm not worried.  God has taken good care of me this far.

Marvin's daughters, ages eight and twelve, asked to ride Blue, so I let them to do that tonight.  I simply led the eight-year-old around, since she is SO tiny, unlike my seven-year-old granddaughter, Natalie.  The twelve-year-old, I allowed to ride alone, but I was very much at hand, watching closely.

The UPS man brought the cook-stove for my cabin, so once Cliff installs it, I can make coffee; that means I can soon spend the night back there, and I'm so excited about that.

After being off work this whole week, I'll work two days next week.  That's a good thing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

See some cute puppies

If you want to see the cutest puppies ever, check out this journal; her Yorkie babies are three weeks old now.  Click here.

my day

Look at those two trees in the distance:  between them, you can  barely make out my town's water tower.  If my daughter and son-in-law get the house they're trying for, they will be directly across the street from that water tower... you could almost say UNDER it.

I've been riding daily, but since nothing unusual has occurred, I haven't mentioned it.  Yesterday was blustery and cloudy, and I was afraid it would rain, so I turned around toward home about four miles out.  Today was overcast too, but I didn't think there was rain forecast; so when I felt scattered raindrops on my head a half-mile after I left home, I ignored them.  I rode in the river bottom, watching for that bald eagle I saw once, noticing how low the Missouri still is.  The only wildlife I saw was two deer we scared up, and that's no uncommon sight.  However, when I was about as far as I planned to get from home, there started a steady sprinkle.  What's more, I heard distant thunder.  Blue hates thunder, and I hate lightning.  Time to head home for sure!  I was damp by the time I got back, but not really drenched.  Cliff was worried, of course; he had no way to know how far away I was, and he respects lightning, too.

Around 3 PM I went to the cabin, figuring to read a book.  And I did.  In fact, I read several pages in two different books, and dozed briefly.  When I heard whooping and hollering nearby, I knew Marvin and family were coming over to mushroom hunt.  They chose to put forth most of their efforts in the deep gulch east of my cabin, and I could hear every word they said.  Judging by their conversations, I'd say they made quite a haul. 

When Marvin brought those mushrooms over yesterday, he told me I had better start watching for the big ones to pop up, and I told him my knees limit my mushroom-hunting.

"I'll find them for you," he said.  "And give you half."

"Marvin," I answered, "If you give me a couple of good-sized messes a year, I'll be happy."

If I'd agreed on taking half, I'd have always been wondering (knowing Marvin and all) if that was REALLY half he was giving me.  This way, perhaps I'll get some morels each year and not resent Marvin's presence on my place.

Of course, I can't help but wonder if I'll get any of the ones he found today.  But I'm the one who said "just a couple messes a year".

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

playing possum

I often used to accuse my children of playing possum when they were small, especially my daughter.  We'd be in the car returning home from a trip someplace, and she'd feign sleep because she knew her daddy would carry her inside when we arrived home.  I've played possum myself, a few times.  But until today, I had never seen a POSSUM play possum!

I went to the cabin at 2, before Cliff left for work.  I trimmed back some brush with the nippers, and sawed a couple of larger saplings down.  Then I sat on the porch, and Mandy joined me.  Today Buddy accompanied Mandy and me; I always try to sneak off when he isn't around, because he pees on everything, so I have to be careful what I lay down.  Buddy started barking furiously in the woods, and Mandy shot off like a cannon to see what the excitement was about.  The barking got close enough that I decided to go see what was going on, not thinking to grab the camera.  When I got to the action, I saw they were circling an apparently dead possum.  I looked closely, and it seemed dead to me.  Then I noticed that when Buddy would sorta goose him with his nose, he'd scrunch up his eyes tighter.  He was playing dead!  His tongue lolled out of his mouth, his eyes were shut:  Oh, this possum was GOOD at his game.

I hurried to the cabin for the camera, being careful not to trip over the tangled vines and underbrush.  As I got back, I saw the dogs had lost interest, and the possum was up and walking away.  When he saw me, he picked up speed, and I figured I'd lost out on a good picture.  But I called the dogs, and sure enough, when they saw their toy was alive after all, they started worrying him until he dropped and curled up tightly once again.  At one point, Mandy picked him up and dropped him, and he went bouncing down the hill like a ball.  When he landed, he was still playing dead!  Notice in the picture, he has sharp little teeth, and could have really put some hurt on those dogs if he'd wanted to!

Wow, what fun I'm having in the woods. 

One more mushroom entry

Actually, two skillets didn't quite hold all the mushrooms; when one was empty I had about a half-skillet more to fry.  We ate every morel, just Cliff and me!

Someone asked how I cook them:  First, I cut them in half and soak them in salt water at least two hours; I usually soak them overnight.  Drain the water off.  Now, my mom simply coated them in flour, and fried, but I dip them in a beaten-egg-and-milk bath and then roll in a mix of finely-crushed round crackers and flour.

As healthy as one might think mushrooms should be, they have virtually no vitamins.  And by the time you put all that breading on them and fry them, they are probably a health nut's nightmare.  Oh well, you gotta die of something.  Besides, morels are only around for about three weeks a year.


After years of sulking, griping, praying and crying over Marvin's taking all my morel mushrooms, a miracle has happened:  He came to my door this morning with a bag of over a quart of mushrooms he'd found!  And told me he'll give me half of whatever he finds on my place.  Maybe our kindnesses to his children are paying off.  I guess I'll stop calling him a mushroom thief.  ROFL.  Actually, except for this one little problem, Marvin has always been good to us, offering us use of his generator when power is off during ice storms, volunteering to plow a garden spot, and other kindnesses.  The Lord works in mysterious ways!

my cabin in the evening

I spent a couple hours at the cabin yesterday evening.  I had a few chores to do, like putting Contac covering on the table and getting the Deep Woods Off where it belonged.  When next-door, mushroom-thief-Marvin was a boy, his parents owned this portion of our land, and they had several trails where dirt bikes could climb the steep hills.  In front of my cabin, one such trail leads down toward the railroad tracks, angling toward the left.  When I rode Blue up it recently, I narrowly missed getting smacked in the face with branches and losing my glasses, because it had become so overgrown in places.  I took the lopping shears down the hill and remedied that situation, in less that fifteen minutes. 

My next clearing job is larger.  I want, somehow, to clear a big enough spot so I'll have one narrow, unobstructed view of the river bottom where I ride so often.  I started this task yesterday, but it isn't something that will be finished in a day or two.  I may even have to enlist Cliff with his chain saw, before I'm done.

I spent a lot of time on my porch in the woods, soaking in the peaceful aura and reading a poem or two. I did some browsing in a coffee-table-style book about native Americans... "The Mystic Warriors of the Plains".  It's a wonderful book with lots of pictures, and I now have a perfect place to sit and ponder, and appreciate, those who inhabited this land before me. 

My house sits right on the Santa Fe Trail, and also is in the path of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  So this land is saturated with history.

Mandy is a joy to have in the woods.  She'll head out on short jaunts through the brush, but never goes far from me.  She almost seems to worry about my well-being, as though she shouldn't leave me unattended for long.  If I go inside the cabin, so does she. 

Every time I'm at the cabin, I find it hard to tear myself away, even knowing I can return any time I wantto.  Oh, and I now have a propane campstove ordered.  As soon as I'm able to make coffee in the morning, I'll be spending an entire night.

I love it!

Monday, April 18, 2005

One more update

About the entry I made entitled "What Made Milwaukee Famous".... here's a wedding picture of the little boy I used to rock and sing to, with his bride and his parents (our friends who own a vineyard and winery).  By the way, it was COLD that day, and the wedding was outside on the deck.

updates, news and notes

Today I bought two containers of Deep Woods Off; one for the cabin and one for my home.  Now if I can just remember to use it, perhaps there'll be no more ticks invading my person.  As for the red spots the ticks left on me last week, those are gone.  That's a good sign there's NO lyme disease. 

Four boys went back to camp in my cabin Saturday night, but one had told his mom his cousin, Ryan, was with them, and he wasn't.  Once his mom uncovered that little untruth, she sent his big sister after him.  That left our renter's boy, Luke; his cousin who's been staying with him lately; and Marvin's boy, Quinton.  I worried somewhat about Quinton, since he's younger than the other two, and they're roughnecks.  But Sunday morning, everyone looked happy.  The cabin is intact, although there was a red, sticky substance all over the table and floor, and when I went back to inspect the place, ants were having a heyday.  I threatened them with eternal banishment from my castle, but of course I'll relent in my own good time.

Blue had his shoes re-set today, to the tune of $70.  I asked the farrier if it would hurt anything to wait eight weeks between visits, rather than six; this would save me a little money over the summer.  He said that would be fine and shouldn't cause a problem.

Through The Eyes Of Faith

This is copied and pasted from the Daily Devotional I receive from "Purpose-Driven Life".  The italicized portions are what really struck me, because this morning I spent a couple of pre-dawn hours at my cabin with Mandy.  Listening to the birds wake up in the woods is worship, to me.  Having my dog jump up on my cabin bed and curl up next to me is worship.  So many people miss out on the joy of life because they don't appreciate the small things.  And life is MOSTLY small things. 

Through Eyes of Faith
by John Fischer

You were planned for God’s pleasure, and bringing pleasure to God is called worship. Put these two things together and you can conclude that living your life as it was meant to be lived is an act of worship in and of itself. It would be good if we could get this concept and actually live our lives this way, but we have a tendency to miss the worship in the ordinary because we are looking elsewhere for the worship experience.

And people are looking everywhere. There is a movement afoot that can only be explained as a longing for a mystical religious experience, and by mystical, I mean something otherworldly. The huge outpouring of sentiment over the death of Pope John Paul II is one example. Interest in end-of-the-world apocalypse stories such as the Left Behind series would be another. The bestselling novel Da Vinci Code and NBC’s new dramatic series, Revelation, both show a rising interest is what one commentator called “religious mysteries.” And yesterday, on Larry King Live, a panel of “experts” explored the whole phenomenon of near-death experiences with a “hereafter.” What is going on here if it isn’t a growing spiritual hunger for a real experience with God?

Which is good and not so good. Good: in that people are seeking God — not so good: in that they have a tendency to look to the mysterious and otherworldly to find Him, and not into the more obvious day-to-day part of our lives. There isan element of mystery to our worship in that we are dealing with the unseen, but we are also dealing with the down-to-earth and the obvious, and if we had the eyes to see and the ears to hear, we would be finding God and mystery in the ordinary things as much as anywhere else. It’s like what Frederick Buechner wrote when he observed the childlike faith of people “who, like children, are so relatively unburdened by preconceptions that if somebody says there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they are perfectly willing to go take a look for themselves.”

In other words, they take the spiritual as something expected. People with childlike faith have no need to explain or explain away God in their lives; He simply is, and He is a part of everything they do. Spiritual things are obvious to children — even mystery. It’s all part of wonder, and worship is a kind of grownup wonder.

We don’t need to go outside of our normal experiences to experience God. We just need to believe, and starting with the eyes of a child, see everything we do through the eyes of faith.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Patrick's Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. If you played last week, did you actually go back to the very first edition of the "Saturday Six" to see what the first set of questions really were?  Were you surprised at the answer?  No, I'm too lazy.  I wish you'd tell me what it was.

2. When you signed on to AOL today, how many new E-mails were in your Inbox?  How many were in your Spam Folder?  Probably more than 20 new e-mails, because I get lots of journal alerts.  I never check my spam folder.

3. If there was one childhood friend from your youth that you could meet today to find out what happened to them, who would it be and why?  Honestly, I've not had a lot of close friends, even in childhood.  I suppose it would be interesting to know what happened to Billy Wyant, a little boy I played with when I was around 11.

4. How much weight would you like to gain or lose?  25 pounds  Whose body would you most like your own to resemble?  My own when I was 21.

5. What is the last CD or cassette you listened to in your car?  Probably Waylon Jennings "Dreaming My Dreams".

6. RAPID FIRE QUESTION #1:  "The last time."  When is the last time you:
a. ...Lied to someone you care about?  I don't recall such a time
b. ...Were tempted to reveal a secret that no one else knows?  Every time I KNOW such a secret
c. ...Payed a bill online?  The end of last month; I always make our house payment online.
d. ...Saw a movie trailer that made you want to see the movie it advertised?  Don't remember
e. ...Took an aspirin or pain reliever?  I take arthritis-strength Tylenol every day that I work, for my knee pain.
f. ...Hung up on someone?  The last time a telemarketer called.
g. ...Turned down an invitation to a party?  We always turn down the invitation to Cliff's Christmas party.  We're not dress-up people, and we're not partiers.
h. ...Filled your car's gas tank?  I don't drive, but Cliff filled ours a few days ago.  If he stops for gas, he always fills the tank.
i. ...Had an unexpected knock on your door?  about an hour ago, the renter's 14-year-old son, who is supposed to be camping in our pasture with other kids tonight, wanted the key to his house (his mom is gone).  I conveniently couldn't find the key.
j. ...Ate a meal that left you absolutely stuffed?  This morning; we had breakfast burritoes with morel mushrooms I'd found, and home-cured bacon on the side.

The outhouse chronicles

Cliff improvised an outhouse for me.  I think his work with the cabin is done!  Would you believe that a group of 4 neighbor boys are having the first campout in it?  Luke, our renter's boy; his cousin; next-door neighbor, Quinton; and one of the twins, Travis.  That's OK, it's a good thing to have the good will of young boys.  The more people who can enjoy this camping spot, the better. 

It's been a good country day:  Natalie rode Blue awhile, then Anna (Quinton's sister); then I took him up the road awhile.

sunup at the cabin

With flashlight in hand and my dog at my side, I headed back to the cabin shortly after 5 AM.  It was heavenly!  Whipporwills were calling, owls hooting.... just what I had in mind.  I am going to enjoy this place.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Here's my cabin in the woods!

Cliff has worked on this thing for a week straight, and he made it much nicer than I expected.  I just wanted a place to get away from people once in a while and enjoy nature.  The great thing is, there's less than $50 spent on it.  I'm a happy camper.  Cliff is always apologizing to me for not buying flowers and candy, and that sort of thing.  I told him this is worth WAY more than any dozen roses.  I know thirty pictures is a bit much, but I'm so excited!

FOUND: one mushroom, five ticks

I went for a long hike with my dog, looking for mushrooms.  My goodness, I've never SEEN ticks so bad!  At one point I looked down and saw four of them, crawling on my T-shirt.  Then I had to have Cliff remove one more when I got to the house.  In previous years, ticks seemed to like my head.  This year, they are enjoying my backside.  Anyhow, as you can see by the pictures above, my woods is a wonderful place to be... except for the ticks.

Cliff should get my cabin finished today, and set in place.  Since he's taking a vacation day and will be home this evening, I may get to spend tonight in it; he can stay here at the house with the granddaughters.  We'll see.  I'll take pictures of him moving it, when the time comes.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

a quandary

This morning after my bath, I realized there was an itchy spot on my left shoulder that I could only reach with my fingertips.  I turned my back toward the mirror, got my head as far around as it would go (picture that gal in "The Exorcist"), and realized I had a tick back there.  All around his new feeding place was a swollen, red circle.

Cliff gets home at 1 AM, and sleeps until 8 AM or so.  I leave for work before 5:30.  I figured this was enough of an emergency to wake him, so I shook him lightly, got a mumbled response, and told him my problem.

It wasn't easy for him, but he got himself enough awake to see the tick through squinting eyes, and removed the pest.

"Thanks," I said.

"Any time you want to come in here naked, I'm more than willing," was his answer.  Men and their one-track minds.  Geesh.

I was telling the ladies about this, at break, and one of my friends said, "If you put baby oil over the tick, he'll turn loose because he can't breathe."

I thought it strange I'd never read about this remedy on the Internet, but one never knows.

This evening I felt a strange itch on the OTHER shoulder, back so far I could barely feel what it was with one fingertip.  Sure enough... another tick.  I can't even turn my head far enough to see this one in the mirror.

Baby oil, eh?  OK, I'll try it.  Plus, I got some Sevin dust back there to stick to the oil.  I know you're laughing but hey, I use Sevin on my dog.  It's good stuff!

That was all an hour ago.  The tick is still there, and evidently will be until 1 AM, when Cliff gets home.  It's a good thing I'm a hillbilly, and not very squeamish.

update at 7:30  The tick is gone!  I don't know where, but evidently he did NOT like Sevin dust.

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment

Weekend Assignment #55: The IRS, in its infinite wisdom, is allowing you to deduct one thing from your taxes that you haven't been able to deduct before -- anything you'd like. What do you deduct and why? Yes, anything. And your reason for deducting it doesn't even have to be good -- this isn't an audit, you know. I'm just curious as to what you'd pick.

HOBBIES!!!   All hobbies should be tax-exempt.  This would cover my husband's tractor collection, my horse and all associated bills... and yes, even my computer!

Extra Credit: Do you wait until the last minute to do your taxes? Or did you have them done ages ago?

We usually have a refund coming, so I do our taxes as soon as we get our W-2's.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

the tastes of my childhood

Cliff and I sometimes get into a discussion about the favorite soda pops of our childhood.  That's "pop" for me (Iowa-born), and "sodie" for Cliff (born in the Lake-of-the-Ozarks-area).
I've wondered why he'd never heard of my favorite, Tyler Grape.  But with the help of Google, I now understand.  Tyler was bottled in Clarinda, Iowa... a few miles from where I lived as a child.  Daddy spent a lot of time across the road from the switchboard office in Guss, where we lived, talking to local men in Mitchell's blacksmith shop.  There was a pop machine there, and I could always talk Daddy out of a nickel for a bottle of Tyler grape; I can almost taste it now, thinking about it.  A Google search led me to Ebay, which has a Tyler bottle for sale starting at $9.99.  The seller had this to say:   "We are listing a 10 oz 1958 Tyler's ACL Soda Bottle from Clarinda, Iowa that is in very good condition with no chips or cracks. Bottle has the more uncommon blue and white ACL colors."  I did, in fact, buy the bottle.  

The brand of "sodie" Cliff remembers best is Polly pop, which I learned (once again with the help of Google) was bottled in Independence, Missouri.  I found an interesting story about the history of Polly's HERE

After my family moved to Kansas City, Vess became a favorite.  Mother would get a quart bottle of Vess strawberry pop, and a half-gallon of cheap vanilla ice cream, and create the world's best ice cream soda.

Tastes are such a vital part of my memories.  A search on the Internet tells me that Vess is still in business and can be bought in the St. Louis area.  I wonder if they still make the strawberry flavor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Monday photo shoot ... TIME KEEPS TICKING

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show us picture of something that to you represents the passage of time.

What you see here is Mandy, today, chewing on cow bones.  The cow was Betsy, one of my last Jerseys; she died of milk fever while I was accompanying my ex-daughter-in-law to the airport to pick up her Pekenese dog.  I don't recall the year, but it had to have been 1993 or 1994, because the year after the flood of '93, I remember finding lots of mushrooms near the stinking carcass of my cow.  Today I found a handful of them in the same place, so it must be a good spot.  To me, those bovine hipbones convey the passage of time better than anything I can think of.  Living creatures die, but life goes on. 

How many morels can you see beneath the Mayflowers, among the leaves near the bones?  The little greys are hard to spot.

"All In The Family"

Cliff and I own the DVD's of both the first and second season of All In The Family.  We love that show!  I've figured out the reason, too:  we can see our own faults and foibles in Archie, Meathead, Gloria and Edith; so we can relate to everything that happens on the show.

There's a lot of Archie in Cliff.... and I guess a lot of Meathead and Edith in me.  Every time we watch an episode, it leads to a discussion which probably makes us better people.  Maybe that's why "All In The Family" was such a hit.

Monday, April 11, 2005

reading stories to grandchildren

I have a cardboard box full of children's books that I keep upstairs in the junk room.  Most of them were bought at garage sales, although some (like the one above) were marked-down bargains at book stores.  I've had many of them since my nineteen-year-old grandson was a toddler.  An old Uncle Wiggly book, for instance, which has outdated phrases and language... but which Arick seemed to thoroughly enjoy, anyhow.

That book in the picture is a fun version of the three little pigs, and all the grandchildren have loved it... with the exception of Amber, who really never enjoyed having stories read to her.  At age three, she preferred to be in the floor playing with Barbie and Ken ("Kim" she called him) rather than sitting and listening to someone reading a book. 

Saturday evening, nine-year-old Monica asked where I'd put the box of books, and I directed her to the "junk room".  She toted the boxful of books down the stairs and started looking through them.  First she looked for the "Spot" books, all of which she and her sister had memorized by age three:  they have flaps you can lift up and read beneath, and kids love them.

Then she found "The Three Little Pigs", and was overjoyed.  "Grandma," she said excitedly, "remember when you used to read this and act like the people?"

"You mean when I did the voices?"  I responded, from the kitchen.


A brief pause, and then...

"Would you read it like that now?"

I was in the middle of cooking, and first I told her I was busy.  Then I thought about the enthusiasm in her voice and found a stopping-place in my work.  I went in the living room, sat on the couch between Monica and Natalie, and read, once again, the story all my grandchildren have loved:  I cryed for Mama pig when her three children went out to seek their fortune, and I growled for the wolf as he huffed and puffed.

Cliff was watching the girls' faces; he said their expressions were priceless.

I guess even children miss the "good old days" sometimes.

I like to think that when I'm long gone, my adult granddaughters will reminisce about the old days of their childhood, and one will say, "Remember when Grandma used to read "Three Little Pigs" and do the funny voices?"

Sunday, April 10, 2005

mushroom hunting... the EASY way

I went to the back of the grass pasture where we turn the horses out, to get them and put them in for the night.  There in a grove at the edge of my timber, on MY property, was my neighbor, Marvin, his son, and a couple of friends, looking for mushrooms.  Every year I catch him there; I've hollered at him, griped at his kids... nothing stops him from harvesting my mushrooms.  Some people say I should post the place "no trespassing" and press charges, but I wouldn't do this to a neighbor, especially a next-door one.  So, as I put the halter on Blue to lead him back, I simply glared at the group for a minute, then turned toward the house.  Next, I heard Marvin's boy hollering at me:  "Donna, Donna!"

I stopped and waited for him.  He said, "Here, we got some mushrooms for you."

It was only eight or ten small gray morels, about the same amount I found Thursday.  But added to what I already had, they'll make a nice main course for me and Cliff tomorrow.

Now, I know they didn't intend to give those mushrooms to me until I caught them in the act.  Nevertheless, I ended up with them.  The Lord works in mysterious ways. 

I told Marvin's son (he's about ten), "I really wouldn't mind you guys getting my morels every year, if you'd only give me a mess or two.  It hurts my knees to walk back here too much."

"Yeah, I know," Quinton answered.  Poor little guy.


about morel mushrooms

Some of you wondered if I'm in danger of getting a poison mushroom while collecting morels:  The answer is no; I've never seen anything that resembles a morel mushroom, which is why I don't gather any other variety.  There is something called a "false morel", but it really doesn't look much like the real thing.  Click HERE for pictures and information.

A lady at work found a gallon and a half of morels last week; she sells all she can get for $35 a gallon.

Toonguy said he heard you shouldn't wash mushrooms:  that is true with the ones in the store, but morels have those little crevices, and are hollow inside.  You must soak them in salt water to get rid of the tiny snails, spiders, and so forth.

Morels are NOT to be eaten raw in salads.  If I only find a couple, I saute them and put them in scrambled eggs.

Yesterday I walked around the place for almost two hours, looking for the elusive morels:  All I got out of it was a set of very painful knees, and one tick (so far).  I found a spot where my neighbor had made a haul. 

I never feel my time in the woods is wasted, though.  The little wildflowers are blooming in profusion, and now the redbuds are starting to show off, as shown in this picture I took as I headed back toward the house.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

1. Where did you buy the last fast food you ate?  Pizza Hut

2. What was the last movie you watched in a theater?  "Ray"

3. When you walk into a room, what do you think people notice first about you?  What do you wish they'd notice first about you?

I don't know what they notice about me, and I'd rather they didn't notice me at all.

4. You win a special lottery but you aren't allowed to keep any of the money.  Instead, it must go to a single charitable organization.  Which would you choose and why? 

To City Union Mission, because there but for the grace of God go I.

5. What was the subject of the most recent E-mail you forwarded?

It was "gunfight rules" for all the different branches of the armed forces, and I sent it to my son; funny stuff, especially since my son spent several years in the Army.

6. Without looking, which of the previous five questions would you most expect to have been asked in the very first episode of the "Saturday Six?"  After you answer, if you go back to the first edition, don't reveal the answer here.

Just guessing, I'd say the first question.

mushroom hunting

I found a few morel mushrooms Thursday, and hoped to find enough to make a decent "mess" today.  There was an area in my woods where somebody else had "struck gold"... looks like they found some big ones, too.  Anyhow, I'll fry these few for me and Cliff, and we can say we've had a taste of them.

Friday, April 8, 2005

If dogs wrote letter to God...

 If dogs wrote letters to God........

Dear God,
Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one

Dear God,
When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it the same
old story?

Dear God,
Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang,
the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a dog?
How often do you see a cougar riding around? We dogs love a nice
ride! Would it be so hard to rename the 'Chrysler Eagle' the
'Chrysler Beagle! '?

Dear God,
If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is
he still a bad dog?

Dear God,
We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals,
whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic
energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?

Dear God,
More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.

Dear God,
When we get to the Pearly Gates, do we have to shake hands to get

Dear God,
Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God,
Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to
be a good dog:
-I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they
throw it up.
- I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because
I like the way they smell.
- I will not munch on "leftovers" in the kitty litter box; although
they are tasty, they are not food.
- The diaper pail is not a cookie jar.
- The sofa is not a face towel; neither are Mom and Dad's laps.
- The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff
- My head does not belong in the refrigerator.
- I will not bite the officer's hand when he reaches in for Mom's
driver's license and registration.
- I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the
- Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is not an acceptable way of
saying 'hello.'
- I do not need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm lying under
the coffee table.
- I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the
- I will not throw up in the car.
- I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt
across the carpet.
- I will not sit inthe middle of the living room and lick my crotch
when company is over.
- The cat is not a squeaky toy; So when I play with him and he makes
that noise, it's usually not a good thing.

Dear God:
May I have my testicles back?

My oldest grandson's first car


That's my oldest grandchild, Arick.  There was a time that I could truthfully say NOBODY ever loved me as much as Arick, in his way.  That, of course, was in his toddler and pre-school years, the time when all children think their grandparents walk on water.

Then, around the time he was ten and his family returned from three years in Germany, he became his grandpa's boy.  Together they restored a Farmall H tractor, and it has a name-plate with "Arick" on it now.

As happens with all children, Arick grew up, and his interests changed.  He attended an alternative school so he could graduate ahead of most of his peers, and at age seventeen, was ready to start his adult life.  Of course, it's hard to get a job (not to mention a date) if you have no car; and Arick wanted, and needed, a car.

One day while I was at work, he came out and approached Cliff about co-signing a note at the bank for him, so he could get his wheels.  Cliff agreed, and tried to help Arick make the right choice from the cars at which he was looking.  When they went to the bank, Cliff was told that he'd have to put the loan strictly in his name, since Arick wasn't yet eighteen.  To my dismay, Cliff signed on the dotted line.

I have to say there was some tension around here on account of this loan.  We live pretty much hand to mouth (good credit sometimes means lots of payments) and I couldn't imagine a kid with no roots, a boy who has done pretty much whatever he pleased all his life, paying off $3,000.  If we ended up making the payments, it would be difficult.

That was two years ago, and with one exception (when Arick says he simply forgot) the payments were made on time.  This week I received, in the mail, the original note... paid off two months early.

I'm sorry I didn't believe in you the way your grandpa did, Arick.  Cliff was right.  I'm proud of you.

Oh, yesterday I asked Cliff, "If Arick came out asking you to sign for another loan, would you do it?"

"No," he answered.  "But he had to get a start somewhere."

Time for John Scalzi's weekend assignment:

Weekend Assignment #54: Tell us all a single piece of wisdom you've learned from personal life experience. It can be a small thing, it can be a big thing, a simple tip or trick or the most important thing you've ever learned from life. But whatever it is, you should be able to state it in one sentence. That way people will remember it easier.

Well, I can state it in three words, Just be nice.  But I'll take this opportunity to share a poem I wrote some time back with that title:

                       JUST BE NICE
                © copyright October 28, 2003
                        Donna Wood

I read Scripture every day
Ere my morning's under way.
I hear sermons every week
Complicated and oblique.
Topics seem to vary some,
But I've found this rule of thumb:
Here's the message, quite concise:
It comes down to, "Just be nice!"

We can argue, fume and fuss
Over what God wants from us.
You can search, and finally heed,
Almost any kind of creed.
I've found this most useful tool:
Jesus gave the Golden Rule.
It's such sound and sage advice
Meaning simply, "Just be nice."

These I learned before age three;
Mother drilled them into me.
"Jesus saves" and "God is love".
"Share with friends" and "Do not shove".
People make it too obscure,
But this teaching shall endure.
For success, this will suffice:
Do no harm, and just be nice!

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."  Matthew 7:12

Extra Credit: Tell us: Would you have listened to your own bit of advice as a teenager? Be honest, now. 

Even now I often fail to follow that advice.  It isn't that I don't try.  But "self" gets in the way.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005


Remember my "disappearing friend" entry?  If not, click here.

I received an e-mail whose sender sounded an awfully lot like someone I used to know.

Sure enough, it was my friend in Virginia named Sue (remind me to post the words to that song I wrote, one of these days).

It's always good to have you back, Sue!

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

What's Made Milwaukee Famous

                                 What's Made Milwaukee Famous   written by Glen Sutton

  It's late and she is waiting, and I know I should go home;
But every time I start to leave they play another song.
Then someone buys another round and wherever drinks are free ,
What's made Milwaukee famous has made a fool out of me.

Baby's begged me not to go so many times before:
She says love and happiness can't live behind those swinging doors
Now she's gone and I'm to blame.  Too late, I finally see,
What's made Milwaukee famous has made a loser out of me.

Cliff and I have always loved Jerry Lee Lewis.  Yes, we know he's a sleaze-ball.  But we love his music.

Back around 1977, we had some new neighbors, Barbara and Tim.  They had two children:  a little girl around five years old, and a toddler son, Troy.  Barbara and I got acquainted and went grocery shopping together often, and to garage sales.  My daughter enjoyed Barb's little girl, Mechelle.  And I loved the toddler, Troy.  Barbara found out about a group of ladies who met to quilt once a week, and since she was kind enough to take me grocery-shopping every week, I told her I'd watch the kids while she went to quilting.

Troy, Barb informed me, did not take naps.  This being unacceptable in my book, when I had charge of Troy, I'd rock him and sing.  Perhaps it wasn't the best choice, but I often sang that good old beer-drinking song... "What Made Milwaukee Famous".

Troy learned to love that song.  His vocabulary was limited, but on the second line, I'd sing, "... I know I should go home...", and on the word "home", he'd chime in; I can see him yet.  Before you know it, he'd be sound asleep.  Troy slept with his eyelids cracked open a bit, so you could tell when he was really asleep; his eyes would be open.

When all the neighborhood kids would be playing together, and Troy was with them, my two children would start singing, "It's late, I know she's waiting....,"  because they knew how he loved that song.

And Troy would start crying and say, "No!  mine song!"

Cliff and I attended Troy's wedding a couple of weeks ago.  Where does the time go?

My getaway cabin (also known as my playhouse)

Here's what my getaway cabin looks like today.  Cliff is getting lots of help from the neighborhood boys... I think they're planning on getting to use it sometimes, and of course, I'll let them.

A friend said she'd be afraid to stay in my cabin in the woods alone.  Well, there's less to fear on the back of my place than there is up here at the house, and I never lock my doors here; I'll be OK.  The whole purpose of this thing is to take the heat off Cliff.  I love to camp out; he doesn't.  Once my cabin is in place, if I take a wild hair to camp, all I have to do is pack my grip and walk about a quarter mile.  I love it.

Cliff and I had a nice day.  We got some guys to come out and fix our brick foundation where the cement between the bricks had deteriorated.  And, they're removing most of the useless chimney where our roof leaks so badly, and sealing it off.  There went the $600 I was saving for vacations.  I hope Cliff is right, and that this will fix our leaky-roof problems.

We had a great lunch of tuna-noodle casserole, and the left-over candied sweet potatoes from Sunday dinner.

Tomorrow and the next day, I'll work.  I'm rather looking forward to it, since I have a juicy piece of gossip for some of my friends there.  (I know, Christians aren't supposed to gossip.  This particular piece of gossip won't hurt anyone though; besides, I'm a fallable human.)

Monday, April 4, 2005

One of my favorite readings

 I first read this in Dear Abby or Ann Landers, and my kids were still living here.  I'm not sure why it stikes such a chord in me, but it does... every time I read it.

                          After A While

    After awhile you learn
    the subtle difference between
    holding a hand and chaining a soul
    and you learn
    that love doesn't mean leaning
    and company doesn't always mean security.
    And you begin to learn
    that kisses aren't contracts
    and presents aren't promises
    You begin to accept your defeats
    with your head up and your eyes ahead
    with the grace of an adult not the grief of a child.
    And you learn
    to build your roads on today
    because tomorrow's ground is
    too uncertain for plans
    and futures have ways of falling down
    in mid-flight.
    After a while you learn
    that even sunshine burns
    if you get too much
    so you plant your own garden
    and decorate your own soul
    instead of waiting for someone
    to bring you flowers.
    And you learn that you really can endure,
    you really are strong,
    and you really do have worth.

    And you learn

    And you learn

    With every goodbye, you learn.....

    1971 Veronica A. Shoffstall


to see your house as others see it

My getaway cabin will be at the end of that farthest point, before the hill drops off to nowhere.  Cliff hasn't figured out yet how he'll get the tractor out, once he hauls the cabin over there.  But where there's a will, there's a way.  Now, on to my subject.

A long-time Internet friend of mine, Lori, saw a picture of the outside of my house in this journal and commented that she wondered what the inside looked like.  Months went by, but the other day I decided to let her see the inside of my house, warts and all.  (Not the upstairs though... there are areas there that are more like a cancer than a wart!)

So, I took pictures of the entry hall, the bathroom, the kitchen and the living room from many different angles (I haven't forgotten the bedroom Lori; it's just that when I'm in a picture-taking mood, Cliff is always in there sleeping).  Lori sent me some pictures of her home, too. 

We agreed on this:  Taking pictures of your living quarters motivates you to clean house.

But the interesting thing, to me, was the way just looking at a picture can make you see things you hadn't noticed before.  For instance, the first part of my house anyone sees when they enter is my laundry area and hallway, and what an awful first impression it makes!  It isn't dirty, thanks to Flylady.  But it looks dark and cluttered.  Living in the country in Missouri means you must have coats and coveralls handy for any kind of weather, because it can be 70 degrees one day and zero the next.  We have no coat closet.  In fact, we have one tiny bedroom closet between the two of us.  That's it, folks!  So there's an assortment of jackets and coats hanging along the hallway, and boots on a shelf above the washer and dryer.  Taking those pictures has  made me want to actually DO something about my hall situation.

Even more interesting is the fact that, by george, my kitchen and living room don't look so bad.  I could tell you everything that is wrong with the way my house is set up, butthere are things I love all around me, and it looks and feels like home to me.  That's the up-side.

So, here's what you need to do:  Get your digital camera and take pictures from all angles, then look at them as though you were seeing your house for the first time.  You'll notice things you've never seen before, both good and bad.  Then you can be thankful for the good things, and figure out how to change the bad ones.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Ham ball recipe


Prep: 20 min. Bake: 45 min Oven: 350     Makes: 6 servings

2 beaten eggs

1 ½ soft bread crumbs

½ finely chopped onion

2 Tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

12 ounces cooked ham

12 ounces ground pork or beef

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup catsup

2 Tablespoons vinegar

1 Teaspoon dry mustard

1. In a large bowl combine eggs, bread crumbs, onion, milk, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, and pepper. Add ground ham and ground pork or beef. Mix well. Shape into 12 balls, using about 1/3 cup mixture for each ball. Place ham balls in a lightly greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

2. In a bowl combine brown sugar, catsup, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon mustard. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Pour over meatballs.

3. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven 35 to 45 minutes, or until done. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into meatballs should register 160 degrees). Transfer meatballs to a serving platter. Stir sauce into dish. Spoon sauce over meatballs to serve.