Saturday, July 30, 2005

I wish I'd written that!


I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died.
They said for the last two weeks that he suffered and cried.
It made a big impression on me, although I was a barefoot kid.
They said he got religion at the end and I’m glad that he did.

Clayton was the best guitar picker in our town;
I thought he was a hero and I used to follow Clayton around.
I often wondered why Clayton, who seemed so good to me
Never took his guitar and made it down in Tenn-o-see.

Well, Daddy said he drank a lot, but I could never understand;
I knew he used to pick up in Ohio with a five-piece band.
Clayton used to tell me, "Son, you better put that old guitar away;
There ain’t no money in it, it’ll lead you to an early grave."

I guess if I’d admit it, Clayton taught me how to drink booze.
I can see him half-stoned, a-pickin’ out the Lovesick Blues.
When Clayton died, I made him a promise I was gonna carry on somehow.
I’d give a hundred dollars if he could only see me now

I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died:
Nobody ever knew it but I went out in the woods and I cried.
Well, I know there’s a lotta big preachers that know a lot more than I do,
But it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin’ too.

I've known several Claytons in my time, by other names.  This is how I feel about them all.  One, by the way, was named "Leona".

Yeah, I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died

About my horse's name

Blue was ten years old when I bought him, so obviously he already had his name.  I would probably have chosen something more masculine, or maybe given him a human male name like George, or Mike.  I am his third owner.  Horses usually live into their 20's, and sometimes past thirty years of age.  If Blue lives that long, I'll be 80.  That would be nice, for the two of us to grow old together. 

He is a registered Missouri Foxtrotter and, like all registered animals, he has a long name made up of parts of the names of some of his more famous relatives.  His sire was Boogie D's Midnight Rambler.  His mother's name was Copper Suzanne.  Both sides of his lineage show the most famous Foxtrotting sire I've heard of, Missouri Traveler.

Anyhow, my horse ended up with the name "Boogie Midnight Rythm Blues".  I suppose they could have called him Boogie, but I'm glad they didn't.  Sounds too much like booger.  Blue's a good enough name, except when I have to explain why I call him that.

And now you know.

(Yes, I do sometimes kiss my horse.)

a morning ride

I saddled Blue up about 6 AM; the weather is inching its way back toward the 90's for a daily high, and I wanted to get a ride in while it was still comfortable for my horse and me.

There was very little traffic on the highway, and it was a most pleasant ride to town.  I rode to my daughter's house and circled it, so if anyone was up and about, they'd see me.  It was obvious they weren't awake.

It surprises me how many people were up, enjoying coffee on their porches and patios.  I love the small-town, rural feel of this area.

About the pictures of my shadow:  As I'm riding, I look down at the distorted view of me on my horse and say to myself, "That's really me!  I have a horse!"

All my childhood I longed for a pony.  I got my first pitiful horse, Ginger, after Cliff and I married and had a couple of babies; she was not well-trained, and we certainly didn't know the first thing about training horses.  But I had my horse, and I rode whenever I could. 

I've had other horses, and most of them had some fault or other.  Lad, a Foxtrotter like Blue, was a pretty good horse, and I often regretted selling him; he was just young and not quite as trustworthy as you would like. 

More recently I had a Tennessee Walker, Pleasure Boy.  He had a wonderful, smooth gait, and I had fun riding him.  However, he wouldn't let us put a child on his back and then lead him.  My granddaughter, Monica, almost got stomped because of this.  In fact, Boy was pretty much a one-person horse.  Oh, and he refused to cross railroad tracks, which prevented my riding down by the river.

Blue, the horse I have now, is my childhood dream come true.  When I look at my shadow as I'm riding him, I know all the other horses in my life only paved the way toward this perfect four-legged gift from God.  All their faults only served to make me appreciate him.

Life is pretty darned good.

Friday, July 29, 2005

old coffee cans

In a recent entry, I mentioned the fact that my mom made disposable campstoves from coffee cans, when I was small.  That got me waxing nostalgic about the old key-wind coffee cans, which, of course, led me to Ebay; all my sentimental journeys seem to end there.  There were plenty of the rusty relics just waiting for some old lady to adopt them, and I did get one.  Someone had even saved the key to this one, which is why I chose it over the more popular Folgers cans.

I was trying to explain to a longtime, on-line (younger) friend of mine this morning how the cans opened. 

"Key?"  she asked.  "There were locks on coffee cans?"

How does one explain this?

Soldered to the bottom of the can was a key.  You took it off, attached it to the end of a metal strip around the upper part of the can and began to roll until you have removed the strip all the way around the can, thus freeing the lid.

Now, does anybody remember when they stopped putting coffee in the key-wind cans?  I seem to remember getting cut on those strips of metal as late as 1963 or so, when I was living in my first apartment.  I have Googled the subject with no luck at all.


The horse situation around here

I love pink-and-blue sunrises like this.  I was going to take pictures of our current horse situation, but realized it's still too dark... and I'm in the mood to blog about the horses NOW.  (By the time I got done with this entry, it was light enough to take the pictures you see above.)

Blue was the only horse on the place for over a year.  Then my daughter acquired her Arabian, and there were two.  After that one reared and fell on me (God was watching out for me; I shudder when I realize the many things that could have happened), I bought a very old horse down the road from here, at a pretty low price, so I could ride safely alongside children when they rode my Blue.

The trouble with old Crook, who was totally deaf, and blind in one eye, was that he refused to blend in with the other horses.  It's a thing you'd have to have seen to understand... but horses have their "pecking order" and Crook just would not give an inch.  Perhaps that was a result of his having been away from other horses for twelve years prior to coming here.

One thing I have learned in my sixty-one years is that there is a time to cut your losses.  So I found a buyer for Crook (I got less than half what I paid) and the equines remaining around here get along. 

Oh, our neighbor, David, is pasturing his mare on our property now, too; he lets Cliff use his barn for storage in trade for the use of our pasture.  We are also renting pasture by the month to a young local fellow, Adam, who wanted to get his horse closer to his home two miles from here.  So there are four horses on the place, three of which we'll be feeding this winter.

Welcome to horse country. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

a reason, a season and a lifetime

Of all the things I've received in e-mail over and over again, this one is the most meaningful to me.  I've learned so much from it.  It applies to my children, my grandchildren, my inlaws and ex-inlaws; it applies to my friends and my enemies.  I treasure these truths.

Reason, Season and Lifetime

People always come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,

it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty,

or to provide you with guidance and support,

to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.

They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are.

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time,

this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they just walk away.

Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON,

 it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.

They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall,

the season eventually ends.

 LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;

those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway);

and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life.

Back in the saddle again

With the morning temperatures in the 60s, it was an excellent day for a ride.  This was probably the first good, long session I've had with Blue in three weeks or more.  Early in the month we were preparing for the big family reunion.  Then it wasn't long after that my Internet friends came to visit.  Blue was already on the "back burner", so to speak... and then came the heat wave.

I've been letting him graze all day with the other horses, and what with the lack of exercise lately, I could definately tell he's put on weight.  So it's back to the dry lot for him, with a couple of two-hour mealtimes on grass each day.  I had one grass-foundered horse a few years back.  I don't want another.

Speaking of grass... on the way back home from the river bottoms, I passed what will now forever be known as "Lona's marijuana patch".  Lona had mentioned to me, online, that she had never seen marijuana in any form.  So we took my Internet buddies down this mostly deserted road to show them how pot does truly grow wild here.  Hemp was a big crop in this area, at the time of the civil war.

This has nothing to do with any of the rest of today's entry, but I'll throw it in.  Sunday Kevin and Cliff spent the better part of the day in our shop, working on Rachel's van.  They were nice enough to invite us to their house for barbecue and, not being ones to turn down good food (eaten in an air-conditioned dining room, by the way) we went.  That's my daughter and my husband looking on.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Most Excellent Day

Early today we had a phone call:  cattle were on the highway... were they ours?  No, they weren't.  That's always a good start to a day, to be scared that you might have a problem, and then find out you don't.

Marvin, next door, has quite a good-sized patch of sweet corn, and his daughter, Anna, had brought some over last night.  So we had corn-on-the-cob for lunch, along with fresh tomatoes and barbecued pork, using some of the whole hog (frozen of course) from our reunion July 2..

It's been sufficatingly hot for over a week, but this afternoon, relief came in the form of blessed, sweet, gentle rain.  The thermometer reads 68 degrees.  Thank You God.  (added later... so far we have an inch in the rain guage and it's still coming down.)  (added at 7:30 PM... 2 inches in the rain guage)

I got a wonderful gift in the mail from one of my Virginia friends, Joanna.

After Cliff left for work at 2:30, I, who never watch TV, decided to check the TV guide online, on the off chance I might catch a decent movie.  I discovered, on Showtime, one of the best movies I've seen in ages:  "Hope And Glory", from 1987.

I may as well go to bed; it can't get much better than this.

Monday, July 25, 2005

about my Monday Photo-Shoot entry

OK, some of you have asked what Mandy is looking at, in my Monday Photo Shoot entry.

Because it is so intensely hot here (97 right now), my intentions were to catch Mandy panting hard and fast, with her tongue hanging out one side of her mouth, to show how hot she was. 

She was panting, all right, but not quite vigorously enough for my purposes.  I lay beside her in the grass for some ten minutes, waiting impatiently. 

Suddenly she was up and running... she had seen a squirrel heading up a tree.  Yes, she's looking up at a squirrel in that picture.  Now you know.

"The Buck Stops Here"

When my Internet friends were visiting, and I decided we'd to to Truman Library, I made up my mind I was going to buy one of those signs like the one Harry had on his desk, in the presidential office... "The buck stops here".  I had seen them for sale years ago, and always wished I had bought one.

They had them for sale in the gift shop.  They are hand-made by prisoners, and the price for one is $55.  Needless to say, I came home empty-handed. 

"I'd pay $20, or even $25... but not $55!" I told whoever would listen.

After all my friends had gone home, I decided to check Ebay, and there it was!  At first I thought I was going to get it for $9, but it wasn't to be.  However, I paid under $25, shipping and all.  Included was a 100th-birthday commemorative, limited edition, 14-karat-gold piece with Truman's likeness on it.  The certificate of authenticity states that these were issued until May 8, 1985, after which the dies were destroyed.

I love bargains!

Monday Photo Shoot: How hot is it?

John Scalzi came up with this on what is, hopefully, our last day of killer heat in Missouri, for a while.

Your Monday Photo Shoot: In a picture, illustrate how hot it is where you are. This can be be something as simple as a picture of a pool packed with kids, or, if you want to get really creative, something more imaginative.

Well folks, it's sooooo hot that....

.... my dog, Mandy, is thinking of taking up tree-climbing; she figures it may be cooler up there.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I need feedback please

Yes, I know I'm doing far too many entries each day.  It's hot, so I sit in front of the computer most of the time with a fan blowing on me.  Anyhow....

I see these pools in yards everywhere.  My son has one (see it here) (give me feedback, Jim).

They're relatively cheap, and I know my granddaughters would enjoy swimming, on these hot days.  I wouldn't be above getting in with them.

Marvin, next door, had one set up for his kids, but it's gone now.  I ask Anna why, and she said, "The water turned green, so we deflated it."

My question #1:  How hard are these things to maintain?  Does it take a lot of time, effort and money to keep the water clear?

question #2:  The one that's 48 inches deep costs $297; the one that's 42 inches deep costs $218.  I'd be getting it mainly for a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old.  Which one should I get?


How old will you be when you die?

I chose not to take part in Patrick's Saturday Six this week, but I did one of the exercises on the "Six":  Two different websites help you calculate how long you are likely to live.

The MSN site (click here) says I'll live to be 86.

Blogthings (click here) says 85.

That's long enough for me!

Try it for yourself.

Getting ready for the Missouri State Fair

I have always loved the State Fair.  When I was a child, the only vacation my parents and I ever had was a two- or three-day stay at the Iowa State Fair, at Des Moines.  We'd borrow a tarp from a farmer, and Mother would somehow make a tent out of it, with one end over our car, sloping from there to the ground.  Oh what a great adventure it was!  We didn't have a lot of money for me to ride; I think I was allowed one ride each day, or perhaps two.  Nights on the campground, a few people would get "likkered up" and start hog-calling from one end to the other.  Daddy, although he didn't drink, joined in the hog-calling.  I thought it was hilarious.  Mother made a stove from a coffee-can by poking nail-holes in the lid (they were all metal then), putting sand in the can, putting a thimble-full of gasoline in the sand, and lighting it.  Hard to believe, huh?  I asked her about this five or six years ago, and she said that's how it was done.  Anyhow, that was how they made coffee, and cooked bacon and eggs in the mornings.

Cliff isn't a big fan of the Missouri State Fair.  Camping out in the heat isn't his idea of fun, and he says he can see everything he's interested in at the fair in one day.  So for years, I only dreamed of re-living my childhood vacations.

Then my son's family returned from Germany.  Arick was eleven or so and was spending quite a bit of time at our house; and I got a brainstorm.  Would Cliff feel comfortable with taking Arick and me to Sedalia, setting up the camper for us, and leaving us there for two or three days?

That was a solution he could live with, and for the next three years or so, that's how we worked it out.  Sometimes my daughter's son joined us, and one year her step-son went along. 

Then the boys outgrew the fair, so I skipped it for some years.

One day at break, I was telling the ladies I worked with about my State Fair adventures.  As I was speaking about camping with Arick, and the fun I'd had, I got another brainstorm:  Monica, my daughter's oldest girl, was seven.  Maybe she'd enjoy the fair with me!

That was a great idea that worked; and last year both Monica and Natalie went.  We'll do it again, in less than three weeks.  I think they're good for at least three more years of fair-going (maybe longer for Natalie), and perhaps when they're too old to consider it fun, Cliff won't be afraid to leave me there alone.

Oh, just for the record:  Girls are easier to take to the fair than boys, and don't get bored nearly as easily.  

Yesterday I went to Lowes and bought tickets for our unlimited-rides wristband.  This week I'll make sure the camper is ready.  I can't wait!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Ah, the heat goes on....

I've been babysitting two granddaughters for the past week.  Like most of the world, they're used to air conditioning.  So the heat is rough on them here.  They tucked themselves away in my little air-conditioned bedroom for hours, once they were back from morning vacation Bible School, watching cartoons.

They'll spend next week at Carthage with their up-to-date, air-conditioned grandma.  Hopefully by the time they come back here, it will have cooled down.  All the long-range forecasts say it's going to cool down considerably Tuesday, and stay 90 or below for the next few days, at least.  There's even a chance of rain, which we desperately need.

Cliff and I went to Adrian to a tractor show today.  We were there for perhaps two hours.  It's surprising how many people were willing to get out in the 100 degree heat; the grounds were crowded.  Our friends Joyce and Don, who were with us last weekend for the "Internet friends" reunion, were also there.  It's always good to see them.

Then we spent a couple of hours in the Family Center, a store in Harrisonville we both love; Cliff heads toward the tools and farm supplies, I look at all the "pretties" you can hang on your walls, and put on shelves.  Then I come home and search Ebay, where I find them for much lower prices (although I usually don't buy them).  They had a glider I'd love to have, marked down to $99.  But I hate to spend that much on a whim.

We're eating tomatoes like crazy... BLT's for breakfast, tomatoes and Ranch dressing for lunch, salad with plenty of tomatoes for supper.  You can't buy good tomatoes in the grocery store, so we enjoy them homegrown while we can.  My five vines are producing plenty for us and our daughter's family, too.

on second thought....

I looked at the long-range forecast:  after Monday, it's supposed to cool down considerably.  I think I'll wait until Tuesday and see if I still want air conditioning.  Unless it gets above 90, our old house stays pretty comfortable (this is what happens most every year, by the way... I think I'm ready to give in, then a cool front comes along).

Today: Plentiful sunshine. Very hot. High 103F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph.

Tonight: Generally clear. Warm. Low 82F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph.

Tomorrow: Mainly sunny. Very hot. High 101F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph.

Tomorrow night: Clear skies. Warm. Low 81F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.

Monday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 90s and lows in the low 80s.

Tuesday: A few thunderstorms possible. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the low 60s.

Wednesday: Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the mid 60s.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I give up

My mood is hot-and-grumpy!!!  But AOL doesn't give me that option.

Cliff and I have never had air conditioning, and it's been rather a point of pride with us.  Let the sissies rant on, wiping sweat and whining.  We were tough.  After all, our grandparents had to suffer the heat, and they made it just fine.

I've canned green beans and tomatoes on 100 degree days, which made the house temperature at least 110.  Oh yes, I was tough.

My mother told me, back around 1980, "When you get older, you'll find out you can't take the heat."

Yeah, right Mother.  Grandma didn't have A/C, you know, and she lived to be almost 80.  You always tended to be a negative thinker.  You told me I'd be laid up for several days a month when I started my period, and that I'd be in labor for days when I had my children.  It didn't happen.

Tony, across the road, gave us a big old window-unit air conditioner several years ago; and two years ago, we decided to use it during an especially hot spell.  It led to one of the biggest quarrels we ever had, and after a couple of weeks Cliff took it back to a shed in the pasture.  Don't ask me what the fuss was about:  All I know is I was right and he was wrong and he refused to listen to my side of the argument.

It reached 100 today, with a heat index of, I believe, 110.  I'm babysitting my daughter's two girls, and after spending their mornings at vacation Bible school, they've been retreating to my little bedroom to watch TV (we bought a cheap window unit for the bedroom at Sam's Club a couple of weeks ago).

Never in my life have I felt so grouchy, tired, hot and sick.  Yes, sick.  What happened to that toughness I always bragged about?  Could my mother have been right for once?  Did my age finally make me a wimp?

I got through today by thinking that it couldn't last long... that there'd be a cooling trend next week, and everything would be fine.

Then I looked at the long-range forecast.

Do you think if I made Cliff spaghetti for lunch tomorrow, he'd forgive me for making him take that air conditioner out, two years ago?

My mother was right.  Man, that's hard to admit.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Family Entry

This is Brett at one year of age: my third grandchild, and my daughter's firstborn.   Even at birth, you could see his resemblence to his daddy, Jerry.  He was his other grandma's first grandbaby, and she doted on him.

Sadly, I never got to bond with Brett as much as I did the previous two.  He was very young when Rachel and Jerry moved to Branson for a few months.  Later on, after they divorced, Rachel moved to Carthage, some three and a half hours away.

I do have some very unique memories of Brett, however:  I recall putting him in the little red wagon we had bought for Arick... walking to town, pulling him behind me.  There was still a grocery store in my small town of 780 people, at the time; and I'd buy him some grapes, or a box drink, which he'd somberly consume on the way home.

Brett never got excited about much.  Toss him in the air or tickle him as much as you liked, he remained, for the most part, unsmiling and sober.  However, he could do a great job of pouting, by the age of six months.

He hated mashed potatoes.  I didn't believe it when Rachel told me, and tried to sneak a bite or two into his mouth.  He gagged.  To this day, he hates mashed potatoes.

I was the first one to teach him to stand up and pee (while he was still wearing diapers).  I was so proud, and I pulled him to town in the wagon, right to his other grandma's house, wanting to show off his new skill.  She was not impressed.  In fact, she seemed to think I was some sort of pervert, teaching her grandson to pee in the yard like that.   

Bless her heart, Bonnie has been dead for a couple of years.  Nobody was ever prouder of a child than she was of Brett.  My daughter and I laughed at the way she always worried about "his little...." whatever.  If it appeared he might fall and bump his nose,she worried about "his little" nose.  If he stubbed his toe, she kissed "his little" toe.  You get the picture.

Brett is constantly in trouble these days.  Why?  Because he's sixteen! 

I love you Brett.  I'm so glad each of my grandchildren is unique! 


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

To an old chat friend, MaeIvy

I wish there had not been hard feelings.
For it could be me, where you stand.
I haven't forgotten the fun times
Way back when our old chats began.
There's no way to tell you my sorrow
Just knowing your man passed away.
I pray you a better tomorrow,
And rest, at the close of each day.

The grudges you're bearing against me
Perhaps I did cause, unaware.
We need not be best friends and comrades:
I know there are scars we both bear.
Just know that I'm thinking about you
And wish I could turn back the years.
I feel for your sorrows and heartaches.
And I feel the weight of your tears.

family entry

It's time for an entry on my grandson Brett, but first I have another family entry to do:  My husband deserves some special recognition.

When my birthday was coming up a couple of weeks ago, he asked me what I wanted.  Since I have pretty much everything I want, I told him not to worry about it.  Then I reminded him my Internet friends were coming, and that he'd have to take a couple of days' vacation time to guide them around (since I don't drive).

"OK," he responded.  "That'll be your birthday present; I'll run your friends around."

"That's as good as anything you could do for me," I told him.

Cliff likes people... no problem there.  But no matter what he's doing, and no matter where, he'd ALWAYS prefer to be home.  He isn't good at sitting and visiting.  In fact, he isn't good at sitting, unless he's worn himself out on our little farm.

He did an excellent job, going far above and beyond the call of duty; especially when you consider he doesn't hear half of what is being said.  Not only that, but from what my friends tell me, every time he got any of them away from me, he started telling them what a great person I am.  I guess that was his way of making sure my birthday present was the best.

I included all these pictures of Cliff with various kids because he is so patient and loving with children:  much more than I am.  He helped raise his younger siblings, and was pressed into babysitting before the age of ten, sometimes, when his parents would go out.  Perhaps that's what made him such a soft touch for kids.

I believe he has made, and is making, an unforgettable impression on the children in his life.  I believe long after he's gone, they'll remember him with fondness.  That will be his legacy; I, on the other hand, will likely be remembered as "the old grouch Cliff was married to".

Anyhow, thank you Cliff, for your good heart.  Thanks for the pedestal you've placed me on, even knowing my faults.  Thanks for telling people I am "the best thing that ever happened to you".

Because you, my love, are the best thing that ever happened to me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The last day spent with my Internet friends

We started our Sunday activities by eating at First Watch, highly recommended by Cliff's co-workers.  All I can say is, it's a breakfast-lover's delight!  They only serve breakfast, brunch and lunch.  Anybody familiar with them?  I can assure you they haven't heard the last of me.

Then on to Kansas City's City Market, where I had samples of the best watermelon I've tasted this year.  Unfortunately, by the time we were ready to head home, those venders were gone.

The Steamship Arabia Museum, I felt, was the highlight of all our sight-seeing.  Be sure and check out their website HERE

Wow, the weekend flew by.  I had a great time with some wonderful folks, and got to see local sights I'd never visited before.

I learned a few facts about Scotland, too: 

 Except for one tiny, harmless variety, there are no snakes there. 

Although they don't have tornadoes or hurricanes, they sometimes have 90-mile-per-hour winds.  There's one suspension bridge that is designed to flex and move a little, but when winds get that high, they have to close the bridge.

80 degrees is considered hot in Scotland.

You think our gas is high?  Try triple or quadruple that amount.  However, the Scots drive cars that get better than 40 mpg.  Oh, and don't even ask what cigarettes cost in Scotland.

That's just a sampling of things I learned.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Saturday with my Internet friends

Saturday was our hottest, most humid day... so wouldn't you know that's when we were outside the most?

We began our trek at Fort Osage.  It was erected in 1808 and abandoned in 1827.  It's a wonderful restoration, and the folks working there in period costume make it so much fun.  We spent longer here than I had figured we would, considering the heat and humidity.

Then we headed toward my home, but we first had to make a stop at the Corps of  Engineers park, near Napoleon.  This is a spot where you can get really close to the Missouri River. 

Our next stop took us onto a nearly deserted road where I ride my horse often, and where marijuana grows wild.  This little detour was for my friend Lona, who had never seen "weed" before.  She took a little snippet of it home with her.  Hemp was a big cash crop during the civil war, and that left a lot of it growing wild hereabouts.

Then to my house, where we drove out into the pasture near my cabin.  The original plan had been to have a hot dog roast in the evening, but because of the intense heat, we cancelled that.  Everyone who wanted to see my cabin took the opportunity, and we showed off Cliff's shop on the way out.  Mandy came to meet my friends, too... wondering where I'd been for two days.  Oh, and Cindy took a real keepsake back to the motel with her:  a tick.

It was 1 PM or later by the time we got to Lexington, a town steeped in Civil War history.  There are many antebellum homes still standing.  Everyone agreed the Mexican place was a good choice for lunch.  It's in the historic "900 block":  "The 900 block of Main Street was onceknown as the infamous "Block 42," a risqué saloon block which women and children were cautioned to avoid.  Legend has it that 42 saloons along with houses of ill repute, were located on this block, (which might not have been far from the truth), but in reality, "42" refers to the block number on city's plat map".  With our bellies full, we headed to the Anderson House.  The lady warned us it was over 88 degrees in the house, but most of us took the tour anyhow.  We had a wonderful young guide who answered any questions we had.

From there, we went back to the motel, gabbed awhile, and then went for dinner just up the road.  Cliff was great to drive us all around, and was so sweet to my friends, that I gave him leave to spend Saturday night at home alone, telling him to join us again in the morning.  So he didn't eat out with us.  Instead, he took the remains of our Arthur Bryant dinner with him and desecrated it with Gate's Barbecue Sauce. 


Monday Photo Shoot

John Scalzi's given us another task for our journals...

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Domestic Wildlife

I don't believe I've ever used this in an assignment, although I did do a previous entry on it. 

He isn't dead, he's only "playing possum" so the dogs will leave him alone.

The motel where I spent three nights

You never know what you'll get into with motels.  As it turned out, the Super 8 Motel in Blue Springs wasn't too bad:  it was reasonably clean, the rooms were plenty big, and equipped with a refrigerator and microwave, there was coffee 24 hours a day, and the rates were great.  Oh, and the employees were friendly and helpful.  That's the positive side.

We all had a couple of complaints:  The chlorine from the inside pool so permeated the air that our eyes burned, at times, when meeting together in the breakfast area to chat.  And the only thing they served for breakfast was donuts... no cereal and fruit.  If I can find a way to communicate with them on their website, I'll convey these thoughts to them. 

I'd rate our motel experience more positive than negative, however.


Our day in Independence

Friday was our day in Independence.  Cliff and I had seen the 1855 jail before, but it's always interesting to us.  And the Truman Library updates a lot, so there's always something new there.  It was mine and Cliff's first visit to the Truman home, and I'm glad we finally got to see it.  I enjoyed the wagon-ride around the square, with the driver telling us facts about Independence.  It's amazing how many wagons left Independence daily in the 1800's, setting out to make new homes in the wild west.  The mules pulling the wagon were patient and willing to do whatever was asked of them. 

Prechr's daughter lives in the area, and Cindy lives in Kentucky, so she took this opportunity to see her ten-month-old granddaughter.  Her daughter and grand-baby joined us at Rheineland for lunch.  Figuring it would be hard to maneuver through the 1855 jail with a baby stroller, Cindy hopped in the car with her daughter and said, "We'll meet you at the Truman Library."  Boo and Don, and Glenda and Rob, chose to browse the antique shops nearby while we did the library trip. 

We thought it strange, at Truman Library, that we didn't run into Cindy and her daughter.  When we were ready to leave, we talked amongst ourselves and decided they must have seen all they wanted and gone to the motel, so we returned there.  We didn't see Cindy anywhere, but figured she must be somewhere enjoying her granddaughter.  We went to our rooms to rest a bit, and that's when Lona got a call:  Cindy was still waiting at the library for us!  Lona and I made a flying trip back there, feeling so badly about what had happened.  It made for a good joke the rest of our time together though.  Everywhere we went, when we loaded into the cars, someone would ask, "Do we know where Cindy is?" or, "Don't lose Cindy!"

Just as we were going on our rescue mission for Cindy, Bill and Nance arrived from California.  These were the only ones I had not met in person before.  What great folks!

Arthur Bryant's barbecue is in a terrible section of Kansas City, and we had almost talked ourselves out of going there, until I learned that it was one place Bill and Nance were  looking forward to seeing.  They'd seen a program about Bryant's on the food channel.

What an experience that was!  Actually, the surrounding area wasn't as bad as we expected... we didn't see any drive-by shootings while there.  But the food!  They just heap your bread and meat all together and roll it up in a paper.  When you open it, it's a greasy-looking mess.  Glenda was rather appalled, I believe.  The servings were huge, and most of us had plenty left to take back to the motel.  Bill, however, was able to eat all of his at one sitting.  I enjoyed the taste of my burnt ends; Cliff said he really wasn't so fond of the sauce.  When he warmed up his leftovers, he used Gates sauce.  Arthur would no doubt turn over in his grave.

The heat was terrible, and Cliff and I were the only ones who don't normally have air conditioning.  Well, except for Glenda and Rob, but in Scotland it seldom gets hot.  Most of our activities on this day were inside, and that helped.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Honey, I'm HOME

I had a great time getting together with these friends.  Thursday night there were nine of us, since Qwkwit and Bill didn't arrive until Friday.  It's a shame, because they missed going to Stroud's with us.

Although it was Thursday night, there was a long, long wait at Stroud's.  More than an hour, I believe.  Finally we told them they could split our group if they needed to, and that's when we were seated.

Stroud's is in a section of Kansas City where it looks like everything around it has died.  You just wonder why restaurant in this place, amonst the crack houses and abandoned industries... with people waiting in line to be served!

I must say the chicken was good.  Glenda, our preacher friend from Scotland, ordered catfish, and I hear it was quite delicious also.  It was her first taste of catfish.

OK, the food was good, but the long wait wasn't.  The noise was a drawback, because it made it difficult to chat.  Neither was it fun when a child right next to us ate too much, too fast, and upchucked in the floor.  I missed all of this except the mopping-up, at which time I said to Cliff, "What are they picking up off the floor?"

"You don't want to know," he answered.

But as I told my friends, this is the kind of evening you laugh about a year from now. 

"Remember the time we all ate at Stroud's and waited forever, and that kid puked all over?"

Oh yes, it'll all be happy memories eventually.  In fact, it already is.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Redneck vacation on Ebay

OK, I'm very busy.  But I simply had to share this with you:                                           REDNECK VACATION

Today's the day!

My Internet friends start arriving today!  Cliff and I will go to the motel after noon and see who shows up.  It'll be a smallish group, eleven counting the two of us (unless we have a surprise guest or two; Susan from Texas was still thinking about attending as late as yesterday).

I've packed as much local sight-seeing into three days as possible, since it may be the only opportunity for our friends from Scotland to be in the area.  Glenda is a pastor with the Church of Scotland (click here to see her and read about her historical church). 

Although I've lived in the Kansas City area since the mid-fifties, we'll be seeing a lot of things I've never seen before, so I'm excited about that.  It's like I'm taking a vacation, but not having to travel far to do it.  I plan to stay in the motel for three nights with my friends; Cliff figures he'll probably come back home at night to tend to the livestock and the dog. 

I hope to be back to my journal Sunday evening with lots of pictures.  I appreciate all prayers and good thoughts during this time of fellowship with my friends.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Family entry... my first granddaughter

When my son's family had been in Germany almost two years, Amber was born.  About the time she was a month old, she, her mom, and her brother Arick came to stay with us for the rest of Jim's time overseas.  While Cliff and I bonded like crazy with Arick, Amber seemed to be strictly a momma's baby, and cried every time I went near her (quite unusual, since I normally get along great with babies).

Oh, but she was a lovely little child, and somewhere along the line she decided to accept us.

Later on, when Amber was four, she spent a month with us.  I started calling her "Beautiful Girl" all the time.  One Sunday at church a lady turned around and said to her, "What's your name?"

"Bootiful goryal," she answered.

She is a born shopper.  Unlike most small children, she never got bored when she went shopping with her mom.  She loved looking at all the "stuff" for sale.  She was forever fascinated with shoes, clothes and jewelry.  I once peeked open my eyes during a prayer at church just in time to see her reaching for a woman's dangling earring.  I recall her sometimes getting down in the floor in a crowd to examine someone's high heels. 

Amber is the one who uses my spare computer the most.  At age seventeen, she still spends an occasional night here.  She is the one who keeps my mind open to different kinds of music, and it's for her that I've gone to two "Van's Warped Tours". 

Her heart breaks so easily, I wish I could put her inside a bubble where she would never be hurt again.  God bless my "Beautiful Girl".

I have a busy few days coming up, and my entries may be few and far between.  But I still have four grandchildren to introduce to you.  I'll get around to each of them eventually.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

dogs on the chase

I spent an hour or so at the cabin this evening with Mandy and her best friend, Buddy.  Whatever it was hiding under the rocks in my fire circle, it wasn't very big:  I saw it out of the corner of my eye.  I'm guessing a ground squirrel.  Anyhow, these two silly dogs entertained me for a long time.

My first grandchild (another family entry)

I have to say I was not thrilled to learn, at age forty-two, that my eighteen-year-old son was going to become a daddy; I was still dealing with the fact that he'd be going into the Army, for heaven's sake!

When Arick was born, Kat wasn't done with high school, so she got a babysitter for her infant son.  He cried all the time (exactly as his daddy had done as a baby) and went through at least three babysitters in a couple weeks' time.  Finally I said, "OK... pay me whatever you are paying them, and I'll watch him."  Honestly, I was afraid someone would lose patience with my squalling grandchild and hurt him!

For some reason, I used to call Arick "Baby Boy", and he responded to that as though it were his name.  I recall, near Mother's Day, teaching him to say "momma" by putting my lips against his cheek and saying it.  He was barely six months old at the time, but he picked it right up.  His vocal skills were always amazing to me. 

He and his mom joined Jim in Germany when he was about six months old.  It broke mine and Cliff's hearts.  We didn't see him again until he was two, and here's what he looked like when he returned to the USA:

Arick had gotten over his constant crying, but he was a high-energy child who craved lots of attention.  I will always say that nobody has ever loved me as whole-heartedly and unreservedly as Arick did at age two.  One time I left for work at a local orchard on my bike without kissing him goodbye; Kat said he cried for an hour afterward.

I recall looking out the window one morning with two-year-old Arick at my side, and making the remark, "Hey, it's raining... it wasn't supposed to rain today."

"Maybe God shanged His mind," Arick innocently replied.

He's nineteen now, and still affectionate and free with his hugs.  I try not to know too much about his life because teenagers can drive you crazy with worry.  I just enjoy him the best I can.  I cherish every memory of my very first grandbaby.

Monday, July 11, 2005

getting ready to take my visitors on a tour

Cliff and I don't get out much.  He prefers to be home, where he's comfortable, and can putter around as he loves to do.  With my friends from Scotland coming to see the local sights, we decided we'd better make sure we knew how to get to all the places on our agenda.

Thank the good Lord we did a trial run!

We began the trek by going to Fort Osage, which isn't so far from home; we've been there, but it's been years.  We missed one turn, but caught our mistake early. 

Then on to Missouri Town 1855, in case we end up going there.  I'm afraid we went a few miles out of the way, but we found it. 

OK, on to the Kansas City historic eating places:  I had my directions in hand telling how to get to Stroud's.  Take I-70 to I-435, get off at 87th street.... sounds simple, doesn't it?  It would have been, except that you can't get on I-70 west for a stretch of many miles because of road construction.  The traffic is whizzing by on it, you just can't join them.  As it was, we ended up taking I-470 almost to Kansas, nowhere near our destination.  Time was getting away, and Cliff has to leave the house for work at 2:30.  It's a long story, but we finally found Stroud's.  For a world-renowned eatery acclaimed by food critics, this place is a dive!  It's clean, but you wouldn't believe the neighborhood it's in. 

OK, on to Arthur Bryant's, the barbecue that put Kansas City on the map.  I-70 all the way to exit 3C; by this time we knew how to get on I-70, and we knew there was no quicker and easier way to do it than the designated detour.  All we had to do was find Brooklyn avenue; after three or four wrong turns, we found our street.  And ended up at Gates Barbecue!  Well, we were both developing ulcers, and Cliff decided I'd googled directions to the wrong barbecue place. 

"It's OK," says I.  "Gates is famous too, and our guests might find it amusing the way the cashiers yell  at the top of their lungs, from the time you walk in, 'Hi, may I help you?'"

Upon arriving back home, I found out both barbecue places are on Brooklyn, about five blocks apart. 

Can you imagine what a fiasco it would have been if we hadn't gone on a test run, and had taken our guests with us for all this?  With Cliff trying to stifle an occasional bad word?  Not to mention the times he muttered something about my hair-brained ideas. 

All's well that ends well, and we ended up laughing about it on the way home.

Monday Photo Shoot

John Scalzi has given us a project that's bound to help us forget the heat:  Memories of Winter. 

"Your Monday Photo Shoot: Cool down on a hot summer day by posting one of your favorite pictures from winters past."

These are from the March, 2002, ice storm.  We were without electricity for the better part of three days.  That's me in the coveralls, in front of my house.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

back to my family.... my daughter

That's my daughter on her first birthday.  She had just taken her first shaky steps, and when we applauded, she clapped along with us.  I don't think she knew what the big deal was; she was just glad to see us all so happy.

After my experience with my son, I was prepared for a lot of sleepless nights when Rachel arrived.  It didn't happen.  She was a serene, contented baby who slept through the night at an early age.  It didn't take a lot of rocking or bouncing to get her to go to sleep.  All I had to do was lay her in her crib, and she'd coo and babble until her eyes closed.

Rachel was a loving baby:  by the time she was two or three months old, when I'd put her on my shoulder to burp her, she'd pat my back as I patted hers.

She has always loved to have people around her, unlike her "loner" mom.  Until she was six, we lived in places where there were no close neighbors.  So when we moved here, with kids on all sides, she was beside herself with joy!

Rachel got her affectionate, people-loving nature and much of her emotional makeup from Cliff.  She got just as many personality-traits from me, including one or two of my weaknesses. 

She's turned out to be a great mom with the patience of Job.  I don't recall ever hearing her yell at her kids.  She's a good step-mother, making sure that Kevin's son, Jonathan, gets to spend some quality time alone with his dad once in awhile, since he lives some distance from here.

As I write about each of my children and grandchildren, here's what I want you to know (of course moms and grandmas understand this anyway):  You might look at my child and see a run-of-the-mill, average adult.  But I see them as they were at every stage of their lives.  I see them taking their first steps, going to school, learning to drive... I still recall how they felt in my arms, as infants.  The defense mechanisms that are built into a mother's system don't go away.     


Internet friends are coming to see me!

Long-time chat room friends from Scotland, Glenda and Rob, are headed this way to spend a couple of weeks in Arkansas with another Internet friend, Lona.  They visited there two years ago, and saw most everything there is to see in Sam Walton country.  So, I've invited Lona to bring them to the Kansas City area, and we'll see how much we can take in, in three days' time.

One dear lady is coming from California with her husband.  She'll be the only one I've never met face-to-face before, but I've chatted with her for years, and used to have sound wavs of her, singing lovely Christian songs.

We're staying at a motel in Blue Springs.  Yes, Cliff and me too!  He's taking vacation days Thursday and Friday.  He tells me this whole gig is my birthday present, and that suits me just fine.

I haven't pushed to make this a huge gathering:  My main purpose was to take my friends from Scotland to some historic places, and if others wanted to hop aboard the bandwagon, they were welcome.

Most of the guests will arrive Thursday afternoon and evening.  I really don't plan to see any sights that day, unless Rob, Glenda and Lona get here early in the afternoon, in which case we'll drive the 10 miles or so from Blue Springs to Missouri Town 1855.  We plan to eat dinner at Stroud's, since it's internationally famous.  (personally, I prefer KFC chicken, if I could ever find a clean, non-greasy-floored one somewhere)

Friday we'll see the Truman Home in the morning, drive to Arthur Bryant's for some famous Kansas City Barbecue, and return to Independence to tour the Truman Library and Museum.  Friday evening, we'll have a hot dog roast in my pasture, weather permitting, back near my cabin.

Saturday we're going to Fort Osage.  Then to Lexington, Missouri, to have lunch at The Brewery; and then on to Anderson House and its Civil War battlefield.

Tomorrow morning Cliff and I are going to make the rounds, just to make sure we can get to all these places with no problem.  After all, we wouldn't want to get the group lost!  It's a total of eleven people, and I believe we can get them all in two vehicles:  My Kansas friend has a van of sorts (sorry Boo, I don't remember what it's called) and our car will hold five easily.  Cliff has already stated that Lona is going to ride up front with him.  Hmph.  Never thought I'd be displaced so easily!

Please send prayers and good wishes this way.  I've never been much of a coordinator, but these folks are good-natured and sweet, and will get along and have fun either with me, or in spite of me!

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Saturday Six, Episode 65

Picture from Hometown

Once again Patrick has given us six questions to ponder.

1. How many mirrors are there in your home?  three  If you could go for the rest of your life without ever looking in a mirror (but still know that you hadn't missed a button or that your hair was disarrayed, etc.) would you?  I have always avoided mirrors, so yes... if I could go forever without looking in one, I would love to.

2. What online abbreviation annoys you the most and why?  ROFLMBO, and I'm really not sure why.

3. What do you hate the most in this world?  anything (notice I did not say anybody) that hurts my children or grandchildren.  Whether it's jealousy or spite or just a lack of caring about their feelings; or even something as simple as a lack of enough money.  If it hurts them, I feel  their pain.

4. You decide to go to your next high school reunion.  What do you anticipate would be the thing most people said about you behind your back?  "Who's she?"  (I was a loner in school and had no close friends)

5. You learn that because of some galactic mixup in fate itself, you must restart your life tomorrow in a new place.  You will emerge as a person with a unique past and won't seem out of the ordinary to those in the new place.  You will retain the experiences and memories of your past, but the people you are closest to will believe that you are dead and gone and you would be prohibited from contacting them.  Where would you go and why?  Colorado, in the mountains somewhere.  Just because of the awesome beauty.

6. What are you most passionate about in this moment of your life and why?  Enjoying every minute, because time is flying too fast.

Friday, July 8, 2005

my son

I'm going to do a seperate entry on each of my children and grandchildren.  I'll start with my first-born, Jim.


That's Jimmy, aged nine months.  He was a colicky baby who puked and cried a lot.  Cliff and I, having both been spanked a lot as children, thought if we used physical punishment enough, our child would fall in line.  After all, we'd seen so many brats, and we didn't want to be embarrassed by a kid like that.  So we began spanking him around the time he was one year old.

We both realize now we were wrong.  Had I known how quickly babies grow to adults, I'd have cherished each time I had to rock him, or walk him or bounce him, to keep him from crying.

One thing I recall about my little boy is that he really didn't want anyone holding him except me and my mom, (and his dad, in a pinch) until he was past two years old.  We were the only ones who could pacify him during his fussy times.  One time when he got a little older and had an earache at my mom's, he cried for me until she had to bring him home. 

Jimmy didn't come with an instruction book, but bless his heart, he loved me in spite of all my mistakes.

He's approaching middle age now.  But I still see him as the baby who was unjustly spanked, but loved me anyway.  I know he isn't perfect.  But I will always be on his side in any altercation.  He's the one who taught me that even human infants can show unconditional love.

Stay tuned; my daughter will be my next family entry.

it's all in the (bovine) family

It was a good day yesterday.  Just outside Sam's Club parking lot, a farmer was selling Peaches-and-Cream sweet corn, and I bought a dozen ears.  After having some for lunch, I wish I'd gotten more!  Monica and Natalie love corn-on-the-cob.  The fellow was also selling peaches, and since that's something Amber, my teenaged granddaughter, loves, I got a few of those also.  They're pretty tasty.

Of course my birthday wouldn't have been complete without a visit to my cabin.  Mandy and I spent an hour or so there.  I have certain types of music I listen to in my place of solitude:  Indian songs, folk songs, very early blues and country (from the '20's to the 50's) and a cappela hymns (thanks to my discovery, online, of Dallas Christian Sound).  My cabin music collection will be complete once my Floyd Westerman CD arrives.

On the way back to the house, I caught all three calves nursing one mom.  Amazing, really.  And they all seem to be growing and thriving.  I'm not sure if it's just one cow that allows this, or whether both moms do, since I really can't tell them apart unless they're standing side by side.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

a hymn I listened to tonight

A great hymn I had forgotten, so appropriate for my sixty-first birthday:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

my son and his family, headed back home

It was nice to have Jim and his family here for a week.  Lyndsay, age four (five next month), has grown up so much since we had seen her last October, and acts so grown-up.  She used to be pretty picky at meal time, but now she eats almost anything you set in front of her.  This morning, they headed home to Georgia.  It's a rather sad departure, since we don't know when we'll see them next.

Debbie cooks a meal while she's here, and it's always something totally different than what we are used to.  So it's rather like going out to eat and ordering something you wouldn't normally have.  The things she comes up with aren't fast to fix, either!  She must have spent two hours putting the beef rollup things together that we had yesterday, and they were great.  Quite a change from my country-style meat-and-taters-and-noodles stuff, and a real treat. 

And now, Cliff and three granddaughters and I are going to Sam's Club and replenish our supply of milk, toilet paper, and other things we've been using like crazy during the past week.

Oh, by the way... I turned 61 today.  Birthdays just aren't as much fun as they used to be.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Taking the granddaughters to my cabin

I figured the kids would whine in the heat, walking the distance to the cabin.  But there was no problem.  Lyndsay said, "I thought your cabin was bigger than this."

She was quite impressed by the fact that I have a stove there.  We decided the four dwarfs who live outside are Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy and Sleepy.  

All three girls tried out my bed, with the air mattress.  And they all checked my lounge chair for comfort.  We failed to apply Deep Woods Off before we went back, so the mosquitoes rather discouraged our staying long.  We'd have been all right inside the cabin, but it's pretty stuffy there on these hot days.

my last effort

Last try.... if it won't stay in verse form, I'll just leave it here as is.

                           The Old, Old Song      Charles Kingsley

When all the world is young, lad,

And all the trees are green;

And every goose a swan, lad,

And every lass a queen,—

Then hey for boot and horse, lad,

And round the world away;

Young blood must have its course, lad,

And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,

And all the trees are brown;

And all the sport is stale, lad,

And all the wheels run down,—

Creep home, and take your place there,

The spent and maimed among:

God grant you find one face there

You loved when all was young.

our rental place

We put this mobile home here for my mom and dad to live in, back in 1986 when we first learned Daddy had lung cancer.  Daddy passed away in 1987, and Mother continued to live here until she decided she needed to move into a facility for old folks... I think about six years ago. 

We debated about what we'd do with the trailor:  My only chance of an unimpeded view from my house is in that direction.  I used to be able to see the sun coming up there.  I have houses around me in every direction except north, and Cliff's shop blocks that view.

Since our finances were tight, we decided to try renting the place out, although we had our doubts.  After all, the front door of the trailor is only about 30 yards from the door we use in and out of our house.  And what if we got the kind of renters that don't pay their rent, but refuse to move out when you ask them?

A family of four ended up moving there.  Dad was (and still is) a trucker, so he was seldom home.  The boy was nine, I believe; and the girl was eleven.  It's a small mobile home with only two bedrooms, and we didn't expect them to be there long.  We had a "no pets" rule, but that ended when they found a kitten in the middle of the road somewhere, and the daughter asked Cliff if she could keep it in their house.

Later on, we realized that we'd be getting rid of the dumpy-looking trailor once they left, anyhow; so we gave them permission to have a Mini-pin.  Before long, they added yet another, much-larger, dog to their household.

They're still here.  For the most part, they've paid the $275 monthly rent on time; when they couldn't, they'd pay half of it, and give us the remainder the next week.

However, that $275 is seeming  like less all the time.  The kids are older now, and other kids gather in their yard, hanging around until 10 PM and later.  I can't wear just my nightgown to go out to my barn in the dark, because I never know who's outside.  If someone in my house raises her voice (no, Cliff and I don't fight, but he's almost deaf, and I have to yell sometimes to get him to hear me) anything we say is liable to be reported around the neighborhood.

I want my privacy.  I want to look out my bedroom window and see the sun coming up again.  I want my home back.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

family times

I'm not doing a lot of blogging while my son's family is here.  We've enjoyed all the activities connected with the family reunion Saturday, and of course, all the fireworks and fun connected with Independence Day.  Today the portable johns and folding tables we rented have to be taken back across the river.  Life is good here, and I'm sure I'll soon be back to my two-or-three-a-day journal entries.

Here's a shot of Cliff supervising Natalie as she lights a bottle rocket.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

family reunion

This is just a sampling of the pictures, to let you know things went well at the reunion here at our house.  We never did get an accurate head count, but it was about 80.  Some folks who had said two days earlier they were coming, didn't show.  We expected that to happen; it always does, with any kind of gathering.  Everyone had a great time, it seemed to me.  There was lots of laughing and smiling going on.  The kiddies were all well-behaved, and got along great.

My horse, Blue, got some use, since I'd promised Cliff's cousin's granddaughter, Mercedes, she could ride when she came to visit.  Of course, if she was going to ride, others wanted to also.  I let her ride alone (with me in close attendence).  The others simply sat in the saddle while I led them around.

I'm glad we did this.  It was a one-time thing that I'll never forget.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Saturday six

1. A stray dog wonders into your yard, obviously weak, hungry and thirsty.  He is a very friendly dog, but if you feed it or give it water, you know that the dog won't leave your yard and you'll end up keeping him.  If you don't help the animal, he might die.  What do you do?  Most likely, I'd have Cliff shoot him quickly and painlessly.

2. You must lose one of the following:  a foot, a hand, an eye or an ear.  Which would you get rid of and why?  An ear.  My husband hears out of only one ear, and the quality of his life seems to be good.

3. Scalzi of "
By the Way" recently posted about the top unanswered questions in science today.  Click here and scroll down to the list of the top 25 biggest mysteries:  which one would you MOST like to have answered? 

None of those are mysteries to me.  Give me another option.

Joe, our AOL Journals Editor, says blogs are boring:  either everyone talks about pretty much the same topics, or regular people lead dull lives, he suggests.  So what keeps you reading other people's blogs? 

I read blogs because:  #1... my relatives are the authors.  #2.  I feel a connection with the author.  #3.  The person writing the blog is living a soap opera and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Lisa:  You are writing a bestseller book.  What kind of book is it (romance, mystery, science fiction, action adventure, historical, gothic, classic, fiction, non fiction, biography, other) ?   fiction 

What is your main character's first name and the setting in which it will take place?  Anywhere will do, and any name is fine. 

And give us a one sentence tidbit about the plot ...  Somebody killed somebody, and we have to figure out who did it.   

Mary:  Jim Elliot once said, "When it comes time to die...make sure all you got to do is die."  What do you have to do or would like to do before you die? I have done all the important things I want to do in my life.  I'm ready to die. 

Make a list of at least 6 things.  See my answers above.  And since you made the list.. will  you actually try to accomplish those things?  I've done it.