Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rising gasoline prices hit home

When I quit my job a few months ago, I knew I had to tighten my belt, so to speak.  Although I only worked part-time toward the end, what little I earned was fun-money.  I bought computer gadgets and airplane tickets with it, visiting Internet friends and participating in "Chat room reunions" around the country.  For each of the past two winters, my daughter and I visited my "snowbird" sister at her winter home in Mission, Texas.  I knew all that would have to stop.

Going to the state fair with my granddaughters was a pretty economical campout, so I was able to do that.  And I really feel like it was a vacation.

Now, with gas going up and causing other prices to go up, Cliff and I are trying to make more changes.  I worked very hard on a grocery list that, hopefully, will take care of our needs for two weeks.  Less trips.  There's a grocery store eight miles from us, but it isn't well-stocked, and the prices aren't the best.  Neither is the produce.  The stores where I prefer to shop are twenty-five miles away, in two different directions.  I decided to compromise by shopping at a rather small Super-Walmart, fifteen miles away.  Then Cliff said, "It can't be that much further to the big new one." So we went ahead to that one, but we checked the extra miles.  Seven miles, one way.  So the extra round-trip miles add up to fourteen.  That's about 2/3 of a gallon of gas in our car.  Probably it's worth that, but we'll keep it in mind.

Cliff said not to buy Diet Coke any more; he likes iced tea, and it's cheaper (and better for him, I think).  We've been eating out at least once a week, sometimes twice.  We're going to try and limit that to once or twice a month now.  I like to cook, anyhow, and Cliff always prefers to eat at home.

We had planned to go to the Old Thresher's Reunion in Iowa, this coming weekend.  That's out. 

As I told Cliff, we are blessed to have so many things we like to do here at home, so we aren't miserable staying here.  Of course, there's my computer... my number-one hobby.  And my horse.  I have the cabin, where I intend to spend twenty-four hours straight, at some point on this coming holiday weekend.  I'm having a terrific time learning to use my new camera, and that's turning into a great hobby too.  Cliff has his tractors, and the shop (which is where he'd rather be than anywhere else in the world).  I wonder when we'll see our son again, because I doubt that he can afford to come here, and I'm not sure we'll be able to afford to go to Georgia.

Cliff has about four acres plowed and disked, where he was going to plant alfalfa for hay.  Because clover seed is much cheaper, he's going to put it in clover and orchard grass now.

I'm digging out all my budget recipes, like the red beans and rice I used to fix all the time, and the lentil stew.  I'm buying store brands of most food items.  The quality isn't as good, but it'll do.

Other things run through my mind.  For instance, the hay the horses will eat this winter could be sold for $2.50 a bale, if we didn't have the horses.  So they cost us in more ways than one... the hay really isn't free.  The cows, of course, need hay too.  Those cows would bring a nice bundle in an emergency, but they are Cliff's cows, and if we had to sell them, I'd want the money to be for something he wants.  But it's nice to know they're worth a lot if we had to have the money.

I put all our 401K money into stable value funds for now, because I think there's a big chance of a recession... and possibly a depression.  At our ages, we can't afford to wait it out.

Cliff already rides to work with a co-worker.  He's given him one raise recently (up to $35 a week now) and is going to give him another raise soon, because he couldn't drive to work himself for that price.

I know from my own experience, most people will lose everything they own rather than cut back on spending.  They'll still make un-necessary trips, and buy silly things, even if they ought to be spending that money on clothing for their children.  And guess what?  I'll still be making stupid purchases here and there too.  I recently bought a new digital camera, for instance.  Not to mention the $20 tripod I picked up at Walmart today.

But I have cut back.  I can tighten my belt a lot more if I must.  I was raised that way, and I can, once again, be frugal.

Please don't think I feel sorry for myself.  I've been watching CNN and Fox news, and I see that life could be a whole lot worse.  God help those people in New Orleans.  God help us all. 

Indeed, I am blessed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Television, the early years

You folks who are in your mid-fifties to mid-sixties, click on the blue links and go back in time with me:

We moved to Kansas City in 1955, into a three-room apartment.  In the two downstairs apartments lived Uncle Clifford, with his wife, Aunt Mable, and their daughter, Alice, who was my age.  In the other downstairs (one-room) apartment lived Uncle Cecil and Aunt Helen, with their five children.  They only had one room, but at least they had their own bathroom.  Those of us in the other three apartments shared a "bathroom", which had no sink, and no shower or bathtub.  It was just a closet-sized space with a toilet inside.

Before we moved to Kansas City, I spent a week each summer with my sister and her family; they had a television.  I recall watching "Pinkie Lee" with my nephew Larry.  Pinkie gave away a Samoyed puppy on every show.  Another program I remember from that time is Dragnet.  "This is the city...". 

Larry and I watched The Lone Ranger on Saturdays.  I think I had my first crush on Clayton Moore... and perhaps on Jay Silverheels, too.  After all, Jay was a real Indian!  (If you read my journal a lot, you know I'm partial to Native Americans.)

My sister watched a daily afternoon show that Martha Scott hosted, because Martha's parents went to the same church she attended.  The show was "Modern Romances" and consisted of simple love stories, with different acters each day.  Years later, Martha Scott was Miriam in the movie Ben Hur.

Uncle Clifford and Aunt Mable, downstairs, had a television.  So when I'd get home from school, I usually checked in with Mother and then went to visit my cousin, Alice, to watch the Howdy Doody show.  I also remember spending an evening there watching Peter Pan... the version with Mary Martin.  Alice and I sat at a card table drinking tea and making toasts, saying, "Cheers, dahling".

My mom finally decided if she was going to keep me at home in the evenings, a television set must be bought.  It was supposed to be for my benefit, but I recall coming home from school and finding her in tears, watching "Queen For A Day".  Some poor misfortunate woman who had a terrible disease and a dying child only wanted a decent washing machine, and she got that and more, if she became queen for a day.

Mother even stayed up past 10 PM sometimes, to watch the original Tonight show... starring Steve Allen (Allen was our last name, so of course we assumed he must be a relative).

Television changed all our lives.  It took us away from the humdrum routine of everyday life and gave us a glimpse into another world.  But it also took us inside, and away from the front porch where neighbors chatted with one another, and kids chased fireflies. 

Wow.  Those were the good old days.

learning about my camera

There's nothing really noteworthy about these pictures.  Some are very similar to ones I've taken before.  I just wanted folks to see that I am experimenting with something beyond point-and-shoot. 

Having some extra time this afternoon, I set off to the cabin with my canine companions, with the new camera and the Camera User Guide in hand.  I'm learning what some of the various settings and modes are for, although remembering them is not easy.  I finally figured out how to delete individual pictures in the camera.  I never once tried to do that on my old digital camera.

It's fun to learn new things.  Now if only I can remember them.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A group I heard Saturday

The group that most impressed me Saturday at Verizen ampitheater was "Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band".

I've done a little research on them, and it turns out they are Latter Day Saints (Mormans).  They remind me a lot of one of my favorite groups, Sawyer Brown

What I caught from them was a healthy dose of positive thinking.  Search them out.  They're good.

Here are the lyrics to "Dream Big".

 And when you cry, be sure to dry your eyes,
'Cause better days are sure to come.
And when you smile, be sure to smile wide,
And don't let them know that they have won.
And when you walk, walk with pride: don't show the hurt inside,
Because the pain will soon be gone.

    And when you dream, dream big,
    As big as the ocean, blue.
    'Cause when you dream it might come true.
    But when you dream, dream big.

And when you laugh, be sure to laugh out loud,
'Cause it will carry all your cares away.
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself,
And it will help you feel okay.
And when you pray, pray for strength to help you carry on,
But when the troubles come your way.

    And when you dream, dream big,
    As big as the ocean, blue.
    'Cause when you dream it might come true.
    But when you dream, dream big.

Instrumental break.
       (Dream big.)
       (Dream big.)

And when you laugh, be sure to laugh out loud,
'Cause it will carry all your cares away.
And when you see, see the beauty,

(Dream big.)

all around and in yourself,
And it will help you feel okay.
And when you pray, pray for strength to help to carry on,
But when the troubles come your way.

    And when you dream, dream big,
    As big as the ocean, blue.
    'Cause when you dream it might come true.
    And when you dream, dream big.

Cliff got his motorcycle license today!

I didn't know Cliff when he had the Harley.  He bought his second motorcycle (in picture number 2) from my cousin, who was getting a bigger one.  The trouble with the second one was, a 350 CC motorcycle isn't big enough to haul two big people around.  So it wasn't long before we became the proud owners of a new 750 Honda.  At that time, all our friends had motorcycles, and we had some fun times riding as a group.  The problem was that we had to get a babysitter in order to ride.  You can't go far with two kids squeezed in between two adults.  The babysitter was always my mom, and my conscience wouldn't let me take advantage of her often. 

Cliff still had the 750 when we moved here in 1975, but he didn't ride it much any more.  It's always too hot, or too cold, or there's rain in the forecast.  So he ended up selling it. 

Ever since our kids grew up and left home, we have thought it would be nice to find a good old used bike just to take out on short trips... you know, maybe out to eat nearby, or visit Cliff's brother or sister, both of whom live within thirty miles of our house. 

But something else always takes priority.  Cliff's John Deere, or a horse.  Or my Dove guitar, or a machinery shed.

Cliff's sister and her husband recently bought a Harley, and they are on that thing constantly in their spare time.  It's great to see them enjoying it.  This past weekend they put over 650 miles on it. 

Now, I have no desire to go 650 miles on a motorcycle, believe it.

However, in a couple of weeks, the nearby Harley-Davidson manuafacturing plant is having a day when anyone with a motorcycle license can come in and ride any of several bikes there.  And you can also tour the plant.  All you need is a motorcycle license.  Cliff let his go, several years ago.

Today his sister's husband came over on his Harley, let Cliff tool it around the local park to make sure he could handle it, and then drove it to the nearest town with a license bureau.  Cliff  passed his test!  We'll have a field day soon.

Oh, one other incentive for him to get his license:  He found out you can rent a motorcycle for the weekend, for $150.  Why buy one (those Harleys are awfully expensive) when you can get it all out of your system that cheaply?

There is a risk here:  The reason the Harley people let any Tom, Dick and Harry ride these brand new bikes is this:  They know a certain percentage of people will want to buy one, after trying it out.  Since I recently quit work, there is no room in our budget for a new Harley.  The worst that could happen is, we'll start once again searching for an old, reliable motorcycle for under $1,000.  There are several on Ebay right now.

Yep, that's the worst that could happen.

And I don't think we'll do that.


(Methinks she doth protest too much.)

Back to School

John Scalzi has given us our Monday assignment...

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Back to School   Your Monday Photo Shoot: It's back to school season. Show us a picture of something that represents "Back to School" to you. Kids on their way to school, a stack of new text books, school supplies, parents leaping for joy... oh, wait, maybe not that last one.

Don't be afraid to reach back into the archives for this one; if you've got a great "back to school" photo from 1975, bring it on. I could show you a picture from my own back to school days -- the one from second grade, when I was dressed in pink denim from head to toe -- but no. No. And stop looking at me like that. It was the 70s. And my mom dressed me. Take it up with her.

Take or scan the photos, upload them into your blog or journal, and go to Scalzi's blog to leave a link. And welcome back to another year of school!

Well folks, I've used this picture at least twice before in my journal, but it goes so far back, it's quite a novelty.  How many of you have a picture of your classroom when you were in first grade, with the backside of your first-ever teacher in the foreground(shapely, wasn't she)?  Until the fifth grade, I attended an old-fashioned one-room country school.

I'm next to the back, right side.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

another nice Sunday

Another nice day.  Cliff and I visited a different church today.  I had recently complained to him that I never hear good sermons any more, so he took me someplace where he knew I'd like the preaching.

I promised Cliff spaghetti a few days ago, and today was the day to make it happen.  As luck would have it, my granddaughter Amber had spent the night, and she's a spaghetti-fanatic too.  Then Monica and Natalie wanted to come visit.  Their mom is on a quickie business trip to Texas (left today, comes home tonight) and I'll bet Kevin is loving the time alone.  I guess I'm not too bad a babysitter:  The girls want to come on weekends, after being here every day all week.

There's a slight chance of thunderstorms tonight.  We're hoping they don't happen, since Cliff is mowing the clover/orchard grass hay.  If we make it today and tonight without rain, there's none in the forecast the rest of the week, and then our hay will be fine.

Picture from Hometown

If you want to enter the Saturday Six, just copy and paste the questions to your journal; then, when you're done, link to that specific entry and leave the link at Patrick's Place.

1. What is your current desktop picture?  What made you select it?

This one, which with my new camera coming back from my cabin, Thursday evening.  I call it "Beyond The Sunset" after one of my favorite childhood hymns.

I chose it because it's so pretty, and I love sunrises and sunsets.

2. A close friend who you consider to be up to date on fashion suggests that you should update your look and offers to pay for a session with an experienced hairstylist you've never dealt with before.  Knowing that it's free, would you go?

No, I wouldn't.  I have naturally curly hair, which means that as long as I keep it reasonably short, I don't have to mess with it.  That's the way I like it.

3. When you do look in a mirror, what is the first thing you usually look at?

I avoid looking directly at myself.  I'll look at my hair to see if it needs combing, but I do not like looking at myself.  Which means I'm liable to leave the house with spaghetti sauce on my face, or a milk mustache.  Sad, but true.

4. Take this quiz:  Which Bugs Bunny character are you? 

I took this quiz on somebody's blog the other day, but I don't really care for the way they limit the answers.  Often, none of the answers apply to me, but I am forced to choose one or the other.  So I respectfully pass.

5. What label seems to describe you the best as a whole?

Wierd.  Or unique.  Or strange.  Depending on your point of view.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #60 from Stacy: Is there a specific person that you credit with your successes? and HOW did they help you?

I spent my life rebelling against my too-controlling mother.  However, if I were going to credit anyone with anything good in my life, I have to say it would be my mother, who in spite of her mistakes, always had my best interests at heart.

A story with a moral

I've received this in my e-mail before, but every time I receive it, it reminds me, once more, to get my priorities right:

 A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs . . I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."
And after that?" asked the Mexican.

With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my Friend, That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" said the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

And the moral is: Know where you're going in life... you may already be there.

You are exactly where you are meant to be at this moment in time.
Sometimes more is less.

I do love this story.  You see, for most of my life I seem to have been doing exactly what I wanted to at that time.  How could I have ever wanted more?

A "country" music concert with my daughter and granddaughter

We left home before 11, and arrived back home after 10 PM.  So you know we had a big day.  My biggest problem was that my rear end eventually got sore from all those hours of sitting on the ground on a blanket.  If I had it to do over again, I'd rent one of their low-to-the-ground lawn chairs for $6.  Hey, that's a bargain:  I saw hundreds of people guzzling $6.75 beers.  I bought a T-shirt, and a cowboy hat for Natalie's birthday.  No food.  I managed to survive eating animal crackers, Hi Ho crackers and peanut butter, and other snack stuff Rachel had tossed into a bag.

I don't listen to current country music; I'm stuck in the 70's and 80's honky-tonk sound.  But I love people-watching, so I enjoyed myself just fine.  There was lots of talent in the groups and singers performing, it's just that most of the songs weren't what I expect from country music.  But hey, this is the woman who went to Van's Warped Tour with the grandkids.  I can enjoy almost any music to some degree.

I did find one act I really enjoyed, and I'll be paying attention to them and perhaps buying some of their CDs.  "Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band".  They're good! 

My daughter posted some pictures of our day in her journal, too.  Check them out HERE.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I'm glad I didn't write that!

When I was growing up, the only kind of music I heard in my home was country music, or country-Gospel, on the radio.  But somewhere along the line I was introduced to Elvis and Pat Boone and Conway Twitty (who later turned country, but was a teen heartthrob back then), and I couldn't abide the twangy country stuff any more.  On Saturday nights my parents would listen to Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee, and I'd make a hasty retreat to my room to listen to something more to my taste on the stereo.

By 1962, (the year I graduated), rock and roll was changing.  The Beatles and other British groups came on the scene.  I didn't care much for their music, and I really couldn't find anything on the radio that suited me.  So I didn't turn my radio on much.

At that time, I worked with a woman named Lois Hedrick.  She talked constantly of some hillbilly singer named George Jones, and joked about all the things she'd do with him if she ever got him alone.  Finally my curiosity got the best of me, and I asked her  what station I'd have to tune in to, to hear this George guy.

So I heard him, and Kitty Wells, and Buck Owens and others.  At first I wasn't too impressed.  But at least, like Ray Charles says in the movie "Ray", the songs had a story.  They said something that made sense, even it was about cheating or drinking or dying or being a loser.  That hillbilly stuff grew on me, until the music of my childhood became the music to which I've lived the rest of my life.  I bought a guitar and found out you can play almost any country song with only three chords.  That sealed the deal for me.

So, I started leaving my radio on a country station all night, while I slept.  I'd wake up and hear Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings or Willie Nelson (before he grew long hair and a beard) singing, or Chet Atkins' guitar playing, and I soaked it all up like a sponge. 

One night in 1963, I awoke from sleep to hear the worst country song I'd ever heard in my life.  It was an old song even then, recorded in 1958, sung by Simon Crum (Ferlin Husky's alter-ego).  It still IS the worst.  But I smile each time I hear it.  It's obscure enough that the lyrics aren't on the Internet.  So I had to listen to this atrocious song at least a dozen times tonight in order to share them with you.  It begins and ends with a dialgue between a couple of hillbilles. 

This part is spoken:

"Aye doggies Lavendar..." 


"Hand me the screwdriver." 

"What you want it fer, Roe?" 

"I'm tryin' to fix the dad-blamed radio" 

"Well, if ya git it fixed you prob'ly can't get any country music." 

"I don't know so much about that Lavendar, they's still a few of us left." 

 "Yeah, I know; they's very few, at that." 

"Hush up. Aye doggies, I think it's workin'. It's country music, too!"

Now the singing starts:

More and more ever day, you hear more people say
That country music, that's the kind for me.
It's the kind that's sincere and to me it's been so dear,
And no other kind can take its place you see.

I can't get enough of that wonderful stuff,
I don't keer what people say.
Other kinds may come and go
Including Rock and roll,
But good ole country music's here to stay.

They call us everything for the way that we sing,
But I don't keer whut they say or do (de-doodle-do).
There are songs of all sorts
But country music's from the heart,
And son, I agree with you. 

(the chorus again... I can't get enough, etc etc)

spoken at the end:

"Aye doggies, I wonder if everybody feels that way."

"About whut Roe?"

"About country music."

"Well that's the way I feel about it."

"I know you do Lavendar, but whut I mean, I wondered if everybody does."

(you hear a knock on the door at this point)

"Aye doggies, somebody's at the door."

"Let 'em in."

"Come in."

"Yeah, come in."

"How-dee, friend."

"Whut do you think about country music, Hoss?"

"I b'lieve it's here to stay."

And that ends what I consider to be the worst country song ever written.  If you think the lyrics are lousy, I just wish you could hear it, because it's horrid!  But I have it on my computer, and I laugh out loud ever time I listen to it. 

I guess it's just so bad, it's good.  And it illustrates one more thing about country music:  Those country singers have never been afraid to have a good laugh at their own expense.

about founder (laminitis)

Some of you asked what "founder" means.

For a really technical article about founder in horses, with some pictures of what it does to their hooves, click here.

My previous horse, Pleasure Boy (that's him in the picture), was a big Tennessee Walking horse.  When people saw me riding him, they'd say, "Wow, that's a big horse!"

I allowed him to roam loose in the pasture alone (we have 42 acres) and he got fatter and fatter.  Riding him was almost like being on a draft horse, he was so big.  I liked the feeling of being on such a large animal.

One day I went out to get him, and he had a very noticable limp.

"Oh, he'll get over it,"  Cliff said.  "He probably just stepped in a hole and sprained his leg."

After a couple of days, he wasn't any better, so I called the vet.  He informed me that my horse had laminitis, also known as founder. 

It's caused, very simply, by the animal eating too much.  The vet told me Pleasure Boy could never again be put out on pasture all the time, and shouldn't have any grain the rest of his life.  But if I'd keep him on dry lot and feed him grass hay, he'd be fine, and I could ride again before long.  Founder is sort of a chronic problem, the way diabetes is in humans:  Managed properly, Boy could live a long, healthy life

The vet pointed out the big layer of fat on Boy's neck and said, "Always watch the neck; when you see a big fat neck like that, it's time to get them off grass before they founder."

After I got a job, I wasn't riding enough to justify the expense of a horse, and I sold Pleasure Boy.  Not many people besides me could ride him, anyhow.  He was somewhat temperamental.

Less than two years ago, I read the book "Seabiscuit", which led to my buying my present horse, Blue.  He had the biggest, fattest neck I'd ever seen on a horse, and although I was getting a good buy on him, I had a feeling he'd been foundered.  Oh well, I had gotten used to keeping a horse on dry lot.

While I was at work, a veterinary came and gave my newly acquired horse his shots.  Cliff asked him if Blue had been foundered (you can tell by looking at the hoof walls).  The vet said no.

But when the farrier came, he said that Blue had indeed been foundered.

I never understood why the vet and my former farrier didn't agree, but Blue did have that big, fat neck.  So he's been kept on dry lot since I got him, and simply turned out to grass twice a day.

This week, I finally remembered to ask my current farrier if Blue had been foundered.  The answer was a resounding "no".

Because of my horse's tendency to get fat, I probably will continue to keep him on dry lot; he's used to the routine anyway.  I won't worry so much about how long he's been on grass each day, though.  I might set the timer for a little longer than I have in the past.

I don't know what caused his current problem, with his hooves not growing well, and being brittle and breaking.  Possibly the drought had something to do with it.  We're getting rain every day now, so that's probably helping.  And I have that supplement ($75 for a bucket of it) which I mix in with a little grain, along with a couple of packets of Knox unflavored geletin.  Anyway, my farrier, Randy, says there is noticable improvement after only three weeks.

And that, my friends, is likely more than you ever wanted to know about horses' feet.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

back at the cabin

It's been awhile since I've spent quality time at the cabin.  But my son-in-law picked up my granddauthers at 5 PM tonight, so I headed back there with my dog and my new camera.  What a lovely place, and what a great time to be there.

Cliff and I had hoped to be able to spend the coming Labor Day weekend at the Old Thresher's Reunion in Iowa; but after spending $200 on the septic tank fiasco, I believe we'll stay home.  I'm thinking about becoming a hermit for 24 hours of that weekend, staying at the cabin.  We'll see.  Or, who knows:  miracles still happen, and perhaps somehow we'll find a way to get to Iowa.  It doesn't matter, because life is good.

When I first bought my horse some 20 months ago, I had the vet come to check him out.  I  told  Cliff specifically to ask him (I was at work) if Blue had been foundered; the vet said no.  Then when my former farrier came to shoe him, he said yes... Blue had foundered at some time in the past.

Well, my new farrier said yesterday that Blue had never been foundered.  That's GREAT news.  Also, Blue's foot problem is better.  The farrier said his hooves are starting to grow normally. 

He did some first-aid that should allow me to ride my horse again, if it ever stops raining.  I'm pretty happy about that.

I can picture myself having a decent Labor Day weekend after all.

Weekend Assignment #74: Got the Wants

This from our blogfather, John Scalzi:

There are things in this world that people need to have. This week's Weekend Assignment is not about those.

Weekend Assignment #74: Forget about the things you need -- Tell us about something you want. Preferably something useless and/or expensive. In other words: Toys! Something fun and/or sparkly and/or indulgent that you don't already have but wouldn't mind getting, if someone were offering.

It isn't useless, and it isn't a toy; but it's so far out of reach, I'd like to dream about it here.  I want a new house.  Not too big, because I don't enjoy housework.  Just something simple, all on one level, with lots of electrical outlets and plenty of closets, and central air.  I'd even settle for a modular home.  No, wait!!!!  For this assignment, I don't have to "settle".  I want a nice, all-brick home with a basement!

Extra Credit: Do you really think getting that toy would make you happier?

No.  As much as I'd love to have a new house, I've learned that happiness really does come from within.  There is nothing you can buy that will bring you true happiness.

How I learned to cook

My mom was a superb country cook.  She excelled at pies, cakes, and fried chicken.  She made wonderful pickled beets and 14-day sweet pickles, canning dozens of jars of such goodies each summer.  At Christmas-time, our house smelled like a bakery, a delightful place to enter if you'd been out making snowmen or sledding.

The trouble is, I didn't learn much from her.  I was a self-willed, lazy, rebellious kid, especially once I hit my teens.  And I think it was easier for Mother to bake without me underfoot, anyhow.

When I graduated high school, I got my own apartment and fended for myself.  It was nothing for me to have a half-box of raisins for my evening meal.  Or pancakes.  Or corn bread and milk.  I did fine like this for a couple of years, but every once in awhile there were things I'd get hungry for, but have no idea how to make.  My sister, always a great cook, had a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I'd seen her refer to when making cookies, and I figured if I had a cookbook like hers, I'd be able to cook like she did.  I worked for minimum wage, so coming up with the money for my Better Homes And Gardens cookbook took awhile.  But I finally managed, and bought one exactly like this:

  I still make apple pie exactly the way I learned it back then.  And my dinner roll and cinnamon roll recipe came from these pages. 

This is NOT the same cookbook, though.  I'm a sloppy cook, and after using it diligently for about fifteen years, it was in horrible shape.

In 1980 I received a brand new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for Christmas, and found out that there were some of the same recipes, but many had been changed or discarded.  I learned this just in time to cut out a few of my favorite recipes from the old book before I tossed it in the trash.

The new book had good recipes too, and I learned to cook some different things.  Still, I missed the old familiar tastes.  I regretted throwing away my old stand-by.

OK, now fast-forward twenty-three years.  I discovered Ebay, and found out there were many editions of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, going all the way back to 1930.  The first thing I did was buy the 1960's edition, just like the one from which I learned so much.  Then, one by one, I got every single edition... I think.  Oh, you'll notice a couple of Better Crocker cookbooks there, too.  Sometimes I get carried away.

When a new edition hits the bookstores, I buy it too.  My favorite meat loaf recipe is in the 80's book, and I can never quite remember which one that is.  So I look through three or four until I find it.

But at least half the time, I find myself going back to the sixties-vintage cookbook I started with.  In the newer, health-concious versions, peanut butter cookies just aren't the same, and the recipe doesn't make enough cookies to pass around to all my grandchildren.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'll try this again

I made one of the pictures too big when I did this comparison earlier today, and the more I tried to fix the entry, the more I messed it up.  My apologies to all who are looking at this comparison the second time.

First a picture taken with the old camera:

Next, a picture taken only a minute or so earlier with the new camera:

Living in the country isn't all roses....

Our bathroom stool wasn't flushing right, which is usually a good indication the septic tank is full; that means lots of digging for somebody.  Oh, the septic tank guy will do it, but it is very costly.  Even with Cliff doing the digging, it cost $190. 

Cliff and I couldn't agree on the exact location of our septic tank.  It's been eleven years since we had to have it pumped out, after all.  But he kept digging and probing, and finally struck the metal cover.  As soon as we took the cover off and saw that, indeed, our septic tank "runneth over", we called our old friend, David.  We were fortunate to catch him home for lunch, and within an hour and a half he was here.  David's a great kidder, always good for some chuckles; so as I was cooking dinner, I'd run out for my share of teasing every few minutes.

Cliff didn't have time to fill in that big hole before work, and there is rain in the forecast.  So things could get messy before this saga is over.

bargains, home upkeep, and other ramblings

Yesterday I went with Cliff to get a tailpipe put on our old gas-hog pickup (ten to 12 miles per gallon).  While this was being done, I perused the Kansas City Star to kill time, reading random articles aloud to Cliff:  "Kansas Teen Kills Mother"; "Lexington Bridge Demolition Begins today"; oh, and an interesting story of two Iowa women who were in town for a country music concert and ended up getting chased by a gunman demanding they give him their Lexus.

Having read all the interesting stuff, I started looking through Kohls' sale insert, and saw an incredible bargain!  The XXL George Foreman Grill (I have a small Foreman grill) for $59... and then they GIVE you a free microwave!  What a buy!  I actually convinced Cliff of this, and he said we might drive into KC today and take advantage of the offer, good for one day only.

I do love burgers made in the Foreman Grill; five minutes and they're done.  However, in the cold light of dawn, I realized (a) It would just be another appliance to store or sit around on my counter (b) I'm not in THAT big a hurry to get a hamburger cooked, and (c) I already have a perfectly good microwave. 

It's a good thing I came to this conclusion, because I believe we'll be needing that money to have our septic tank pumped out; there are strange things going on in my bathroom.  Cliff doesn't know about it yet, but I woke up thinking about it at 4 AM, which of course prevented my going back to sleep.  I wanted so badly to wake him up and tell him, just because I always feel better if he worries with me; but then there'd have been two of us unable to sleep.  No sense in that.  It isn't that expensive a thing to have done, it's just a pain to remove the top and have it emptied.  Oh well, it's been awhile since I've seen David, the septic tank guy.  His daughter and mine used to be best friends, and rode horses together in 4H.     

Perhaps you've noticed I haven't mentioned riding lately.  Here's why:  For some reason, Blue's hooves quit growing like they should, are chipping something awful, and will hardly hold a shoe on.  I now havehim on a special hoof supplement and two packets a day of Knox gelatin, as the farrier recommended.  He's coming today to replace a shoe Blue lost, and we'll see if all this is doing any good yet. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My new digital camera

When I had my small gathering of Internet friends here in July, one lady, Nance, had a camera that she was quite happy with.  It was a tiny little thing, but had lots of useful functions.  Her enthusiasm for this camera made a couple of us want one for ourselves; my Kansas buddy, Boo, acquired one shortly afterward... her first digital camera.

I've used and abused my old digital camera for over two years.  It was a gift to my husband for perfect attendence at work.  I've not attempted to learn anything about it beyond "point and shoot".  I lost its protective cover long ago, and have tossed it carelessly in my fanny-pack for many horseback rides and jaunts about the countryside and various fairgrounds.  The lens is scratched horribly, although I can't see that's affected the photos so far.

Anyway, I shopped online for awhile, e-mailing Nance more than once, asking, "Now what was the name and model of that camera again?"

I found a similar one somewhat cheaper, asked her what the difference was in the two, and she patiently explained it to me.  She says she is not a techie-type person, but her brother is, and he advises her.

Today two boxes were delivered by DHS.  Hmmm, I says to myself.  I only ordered one camera.

Would you believe the case for the camera was in a box by itself?

Isn't that nuts?  All that stuff for two tiny items and a little software and a couple of instruction booklets.  Here's a picture of the new camera in my hand, so you can see how tiny it really is.

It has a battery pack and charger, so there'll be no more buying AA batteries by the dozen.  It will even make little movies, with sound!

Am I the only person who thinks Nance ought to get paid by Canon for advertising their cameras?  They should put her on the payroll.

Oh, for anyone who'd like to check this little jewel out, here's the scoop:  Canon PowerShot SD 400.

I won't be retiring my old camera; it'll still be the one I toss around and take along when I'm riding, as long as it will work.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Monday Photo Shoot

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Double Up   As many of you know, yesterday marked the second anniversary of AOL Journals going live, and two celebrate all things two, here's this week's Photo Shoot:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of two of something.
Two of what? I leave that to you. But they have to be two of the same type of thing. Don't just put, like, a cookie and a Hot Wheel in the same picture and say it counts as two things. Two cookies, two Hot Wheels. You know. Double your pleasure and all that.

 How about two International Farmall tractors?  An "M" that Cliff plans to paint this winter, and an "H" that he restored a few years ago with our grandson, Arick.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

a nice day

Cliff and I picked up the two granddaughters in town this morning, and went to early church.  But first, we had BLT's, done a different way.  When my daughter and I met Toonguy at The Peanut, in Kansas City, we had BLT's that were grilled, with melted cheese on them; and I wanted to try and duplicate that.  Actually I think I did pretty well.

After Church, I got a call from an Internet friend from one of my message boards who was in Kansas City with the VFW, and I gave him directions to my place.  Then I started dinner (Tater Tot Casserole). 

My daughter is using our clothes dryer until they get their electrical problem fixed. so they were here for lunch, and most of the afternoon... waiting for clothes to dry.

My oldest grandson, Arick, was here with my favorite grand-dog, Dixie, to use Cliff's facilities (the shop and the garage).  He's painting a stripe onto his car.  His friend Lee was here too.

All the neighborhood boys were here at various times, although I didn't get them all in the pictures.

Then Cliff's sister and her (hilarious) husband came, and had me in stitches for over an hour.

It's been a good day.

a pit bull story, dedicated to Trucker

This is Mandy and my latest "grand-dog".  Folks, I LOVE this little pit bull.  I just can't help it.  She's smart and loving; she gets along with my dog, Mandy. 

I got an e-mail from one of my readers that I'd like to share:

" Hi,

I just had to write and tell you the story of TRUCKER.  We own a grading company which explains his name.       Trucker was a present for our daughter's 15th birthday.  We searched the want ads and went to some mighty unsavory places before finding him.  Some of the places we went to had many, many dogs chained to individual houses.  At one place there was a mother dog with 6 or 7 puppies running free around her.  Because the puppies didn't look exactly like the other dogs my husband questioned their lineage and the owner produced a dog that had been chained in a barn as the father of the pups.  The man had to restrain the dog so hard that he walked on his hind legs the entire time he was out.  The dog's eyes had a wild look that I had never seen in a dog before.  There was a set of scales hanging on the porch to weigh the dogs............Needless to say we did not get our puppy there.       Back to our Trucker...... As you said he was a lap dog and stayed that way until he was so large we couldn't hold him anymore.  He was the most intelligent dog I have ever seen and understood every word we said to him.  We (the 4 of us) loved him very much and we often mourn his loss and our neglect that caused it.       When the kids became teenagers they didn't have time for Trucker and my husband and I were just too busy with our business.  He spent a couple of years alone in a pen with only food and water and a few kind words and pats when being fed.  (Tears here)       We thought of trying to get him the home he deserved but all of our family and people we knew had small children.  Trucker could not be trusted with small children.  We think he saw them as small prey.  I don't know if he really would have hurt a child but from his actions it appeared that way and we never gave him the opportunity to see.  We could not advertise in the papers to see him because of the type of people that might fool us.  I'd have died to think of him in a man made dog fight.       One horrible night when my son went to feed Trucker and came back to the house with Trucker beside him.  Trucker's sick he said.  He tried to get him to come up onto the porch so we could see but Trucker refused.  He laid down on the ground with his head on Jason's foot and drew his last breath.  (Sobs now)       I loved him dearly but I would never own another pit bull.    Gotta go   Faye"     

love is in the air

Don't worry folks, this is as far as I'll go showing "cattle romance" in my journal.  Although this cow wasn't quite ready for intimacy, the bull obviously knew the time was at hand, because he stayed right behind her wherever she went, yesterday morning.  By yesterday evening, he was pursuing his ardor a bit more aggressively.  So, if everything goes well, this cow is likely bred now.  I wonder if she'll have twins again?  Those babies of hers are now three months old, and growing quite well.  Of course, they still steal milk from the other cow, so it's no wonder they're doing fine.  The surprising thing to me is that the other cow's calf seems to be getting along great, also.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Patrick's Saturday Six

1. Other than the "Saturday Six," what weekly or daily memes do you play most often?  (Please give a link to that journal.) 

I do John Scalzi's Monday Photo shoot, and his weekend assignment

2. If you could look back at photos you know of that were taken during your childhood, from your first school pictures to snapshots taken ten years ago, which one do you think would be the most embarrassing and why? 

The ones that most embarrass me are the ones where I'm wearing my "cat-eye" shaped glasses, back in the 60's.

3. What was the last thing you made yourself do, even though you really didn't want to?

I don't do many things I don't want to do.

4. Take this quiz:  How do you live your life?

You seem to be straight forward, but you keep a lot inside.

You're laid back and chill, but sometimes you care too much about what others think.

You tend to have one best friend you hang with, as opposed to many aquaintences.

You tend to dream big, but you worry that your dreams aren't attainable

5. What was the last book you started but never finished (aside from any you're currently reading)? Why did you stop reading it?

"An Unfinished Life", the biography of JFK.  It was just so long, and got bogged down in politics rather than personalities.  I still think I'll eventually finish it, though.

6. Are you named after  anyone?  Has anyone ever been named after you?

I was named after a friend of my mom's.  Nobody has been named after me.

meet my new grandpuppy

That's Dixie, my grandson, Arick's, new puppy.  I've always been leery of pit bulls, but I had never been around a baby one.  You'd have to have a heart of stone not to love this little girl.  She thinks she's a lap dog.  Mandy is somewhat jealous to see another dog on my lap, but she plays nicely with Dixie.  They run and chase one another, and have loads of fun.

Friday, August 19, 2005

School days, school days

Today was the second day of school here, and I took this shot of Monica and Natalie getting off the bus.  You can't even begin to imagine the memories this evokes.

Thirty years ago, my daughter started school, and got off the bus in that same spot:  she and our son, Jim, who was in third grade then.  Except for two and a half years when we moved to another district and rented this place out, that's where my kids caught the bus for most of their going-to-school years. 

Eight years ago, my grandson Arick  got off the bus here, also.  I remember the year that (for some reason he and I will never figure out) he was chosen for the lead part in the Church Christmas play, a musical.  Every afternoon after school, he and I would go over those lines, and I'd try to help him sing his songs on key... not an easy task, because he isn't gifted as a singer.  That is now a precious memory.  Arick told me he knows somebody with a tape of that play.  I'd pay a few bucks to have a copy of it, just because I put so much work into it.  If he ever wanted to give me a gift I'd treasure, that would be it.

I'm trying to recall why it was only Arick who came here, and not Amber.  Perhaps my ex-daughter-in-law will refresh my memory.  I believe Amber was going to day care.

Anyway, watching each day for the school bus to return its precious cargo to my house at 3:30 sure does stir up old memories.  I'm blessed to have had so many of my grandkids living nearby for the better part of their lives.

Got dreams?

All you dreamers, Click here!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

horses and flies

When I went to put Blue up after his hour-and-a-half on pasture, I noticed Tude had his face mask back on.  His owners bought it for him a couple of weeks ago, and he promptly lost it.  I found it and returned it to them; today his lady took it home and made some adjustments, and it looks like he might keep it.  The only trouble is, the other horses seem to be scared of him!  I'm sure they'll get used to it.

What a lovely dish!

Folks, I found this wonderful dish in the journal of one of the friends who visited here in July, and I'm sure I will be haunted by it until I try it myself!  Just look at this:

It's a taco ring.  Want the recipe?  Then visit Qwkwit and see how it's done.  I certainly foresee this in my future.  Click here.

it's so quiet! (and the bull is back)

The bull is back for his annual duty, for the third year.  Cliff went to his brother's yesterday to pick him up.  He said the old boy jumped right into the trailer.  He probably realizes he gets a whole new harem at the end of every ride.  The above picture leaves something to be desired, I know.  But I had the choice of getting in the shade closer to him (closer is not good, in my book) or driving him out into the sunlight, if I wanted a decent picture (I'm not driving him anywhere).  I just don't mess around with bulls!  So you have his silhouette.  I'm sure I'll get the opportunity to snap a better picture of him during the coming month that he'll spend here.

I've gotten used to my daughter's girls being here, and they started school today.  My goodness, it's quiet!  They'll get off the bus here this afternoon and, I'm sure, break the silence.

Mandy and I spent last night in the cabin, and had a wonderful, earth-shaking, window-rattling thunderstorm.  It was quite an experience, lying there feeling almost outside, and yet sheltered from the light-show outside my windows.  Mandy did not enjoy it as much as I did.  She hates thunder.  I didn't see any signs of more mice, so perhaps that solitary dog-food-fattened mouse I blogged about before was the only one back there.  The mouse poison I tossed around in the corners hadn't been touched (don't worry, I won't let Mandy get into it).

If the weather-guessers know anything about it, we're going to have two days of heat and humidity, then back to nice comfortable temperatures.  I do hope that's right.  I was really enjoying temperatures in the seventies!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Saturday, our last day at the State Fair

Saturday was our third day at the fair, but there were plenty of things we hadn't seen and done.  I decided once again to splurge on a meal, and bought our breakfast on the fairgrounds... biscuits and gravy.  I think I'm getting lazy in my old age. 

Those quarter foot-massagers  you see in the picture are placed strategicly all over the fairgrounds, but the only people I ever saw using them for anything other than chairs were my granddaughters.  Yes, they spent their own money for two minutes of having their feet jiggled. 

We had some time before the 9 AM horse show, so we browsed through the Army tent.  The girls each got a free beanie-baby kittycat there.

We tried to pick winners at the horse show, but the best our choices could do was second-place.

Then we strolled through some of the horse-barns, and past a Hereford cattle show, finding interesting things to fill our time.  The only scheduled event we planned was the 2 PM HoneyBear Dancers' show.  We had bologna sandwiches at the camper before noon, and the girls played around while I started washing dishes and putting things away for our trip home.

We wisely got to the dancers' tent more than a half-hour early, because the chairs filled up fast.  It was sultry, and I gave the girls strict orders to remain seated while I went into the nearby Industrial building for some free fans, courtesy of the Churches of Christ.  When I returned, Monica and Natalie had struck up a conversation with a middle-aged couple, and were telling them what a great show they were about to witness.  The people were NOT disappointed.

After that show, we went to see the card-stacker shown in yesterday's entry, and our annual visit to the State Fair was over.  It was a good time for all of us, and I'm thankful I got to do it one more time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

the weather at the state fair

When we arrived at the State Fair campground in Sedalia on Thursday, Cliff and I realized that they were in a worse drought than we were at home.  At least we still had green grass!  All the grass on the grounds was brown and dead.  Thursday and Friday, the girls and I had temperatures in the mid-to-upper nineties.  Saturday was worse, because of the humidity.  We were winding down, getting ready to end our visit to the fair.  We'd done lots of fun things, but had not seen the card-stacker yet.  There's a new Isle of Capri casino being built at Booneville, Missouri; and this fellow was erecting a model of it out of playing cards.

We were admiring his work, when suddenly both entrance doors (a double door on his left, and one on his right) were thrown open and a mass of humanity came flooding it, wind blowing in behind them.  A cold front had arrived, and with it, 70-mile-per-hour winds and driving rain.

As the left end of the card structure began to topple, the poor fellow shouted, "Shut the door, shut the door!"  To no avail, of course.  I was glad we weren't in the camper, but I was also concerned about what state the camper would be in when the rain and wind stopped enough for us to return.  Cliff was going to be there to take us home around 5 PM.

We ducked from one building to another, getting closer to the campgrounds each time, until the rain let up and became only a sprinkle.  Here's what the camper looked like when we got there.

As somber as Monica looks in this picture, the only real damage was that one bent pole that supports the awning.  You can see how brown the grass is here, too.  Tents had blown down, and I saw lots of awning damage on large RVs.  But as far as we saw, there was no major loss from the storm.

The camper is, at present time, set up in Cliff's shop with fans blowing on it.  Perhaps everything will be dried out by this evening so we can fold it up and put it away, probably until next year.  Cliff has decided gas is too high to go to go to the Old Thresher's Reunion in Iowa, as we had been planning to do.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Our Friday at the fair (Ride Day)

Friday at the fair is the day the kids always look forward to:  I go to Lowe's in July and buy a ticket for a wristband giving unlimited rides.  For three of us, that's $60.  Every year I wonder if I should forget buying one for myself; I really don't enjoy rides that much any more. 

Since the midway doesn't open until noon, we had plenty of time to see some other things.  We caught the Grizzly Falls bear show and went to the petting zoo, after a stroll through the machinery.

Shortly after 11 AM, we went to the camper for a lunch of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, and rested for awhile.  Then on to the rides!

We rode, and rode, and rode.  I abstained from some of the things the girls enjoyed.  Around 5:30, I was getting hungry, and really didn't want to go all the way back to the camper and eat.  So I decided to quit being a miser.  We ate in one of the food tents.  It turned out to be a high spot for the girls, because the HoneyBear Dancers came in to get hamburgers while we were there... and they remembered Monica and Natalie!  One of them asked, "How was ride day," remembering what the girls had told them at the previous day's show.

Then we went back for more rides.  Sigh.  Around 7 PM, I said, "Aren't you girls getting tired?  Don't you think we should go back to the camper?"

Fat chance.  But then nature intervened.  A storm was approaching, and the rides had to shut down for safety's sake.  By the time we got back to the camper, the rain was coming down, and thunder and lightning were all around, close.  Monica, as she reminded me, is afraid of thunder.  She burrowed deep under her pillow and sleeping bag, whimpering.

I sang "Amazing Grace" and "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing".  When I'd stop, they'd ask me to sing something else.  A wind was blowing so hard I wondered if the camper would stand up to it.  Then it abated somewhat, and the lightning and thunder weren't so close.

Monica still cowered on the bed.  I was getting tired of singing, and made this remark:  "When I was a little girl, I'd have been out playing in the rain right now."

"Can we?"  This from Natalie.

"Sure, go ahead."

"Noooooo," Monica said weakly.

But Natalie and I went out.  I sat under the awning in my comfortable lawn chair, and Natalie stomped, squealed and giggled in the rain.  Monica, not wanting to be alone inside, came out and watched for awhile.  It took ten minutes or so, but before you know it she was splashing and playing in the pouring-down rain alongside her sister, stomping in puddles and having a blast... oblivious to the distant lightning and thunder.

They must have kept at it for an hour or more, until I finally sent them to the showers.  This night, they slept soundly.  And so did I.

I'm glad I had the privilege of teaching them that it's OK to play in the rain.


Monday photo shoot

Once more, John has given us a photo assignmentI must say, this one is the most fun of any I've ever done.  If only my granddaughters could take a picture without blurring it.  But I'm sure you get the idea.  

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Shout, Shout, Let it All Out

For this week's Photo Shoot, I thought we might have some fun with catharsis:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Snap a picture of yourself having a nice, cleansing yell. Yelling about what? Oh, I don't know. Maybe your boss drives you nuts. Maybe your computer isn't downloading that video file fast enough. Maybe your car appears to be trying to figure out which of sixty seven different ways it should break down in. Maybe your kids want tattoos -- on their faces. Maybe your Journal was glitchy this morning. Or maybe you just really like bellowing. Really, it's all the same to me. Just get it on camera, load it up on your Journal or Blog, and leave a link. You'll feel better. We'll all feel better.

(You don't actually have to yell, incidentally. Just look like it. Really, how will I know?)

If you'd like to play, just take your yelling picture, put it in your blog, and go to John's entry and leave the link so we can all see it.

Thanks John!!!  I feel MUCH better now.

Make Money While You Blog????

Check this out:  Google adsense.

I know the old saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".  I'd like to hear from anybody who has tried this.  How much do you get paid?  Is it based on how many hits your journal receives?  Anyone know? 

well well

AOL has given me my journal back, except for two entries I added this morning where I was griping about AOL.  I wonder if that's coincidence?  I was threatening to start blogging at  It's much more user-friendly.  If I leave AOL, my journal here is gone, archives and all.  But before you know it, I'd have plenty to look back on at  I've started a blog there.  Made one entry in May, when AOL was having troubles.  I added one today with a picture, to find out if I could post pictures easily.  I may wean myself gradually... make one entry here, the next one there, until I know for sure it's satisfactory.

I'm not sure journals was the only AOL problem today.  I went into a chat room briefly and said hello.  The only other comment I made was " :-x ".  But something another person typed showed up in the chat as if it were me saying it.  You could get in a lot of trouble that way!  I can't say I'd be concerned about losing chat rooms if I left AOL.  The only one I care about is a private one with AOL groups, made up of trusted friends; and I can still go there with AIM.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Explaining number 6 of the Saturday Six

OK folks, some of my friends don't understand my answer to this question in the Saturday Six: 

6. If you were another person, do you think you would be friends with the person you know as yourself? 

My answer was no.  Here's why:  It says, "If you were another person".  See, if I were another "me", I'd get along just fine with me.  But I've not met many people who understand me enough to get through the armor and really be able to put up with me.  Cliff does well at it, thank the good Lord.  I don't fit in with most crowds.  I don't like the things women are supposed to like... shoes, clothes, makeup.  I have never fit into anybody's mold.   

As for the word "friend".  Some people call every acquaintance "friend".  I do not.  My real friends in this life have been few and far between, although there are many acquaintances I like.  (Joanna, Lona, Sue...  you are friends.)

Probably this is as clear as mud to most of you.  But I think my kids and my husband (and possibly a friend or two) will understand what I am saying.

Thursday night in the camper

One thing I've learned in the ten or more years I've been taking grandchildren to the state fair:  Kids won't sleep much the first night.  First of all, there's the excitement of knowing that the next day you can ride all you want.  Yes, Friday is always our ride day, and we all have unlimited-rides wristbands. 

Second, they are sleeping in a strange place with limited privacy, not nearly as comfortable as their beds at home.  And there's all the noise:  cars coming in the campground at all hours, people walking by, talking, on their way to the rest room.

For a wonder, there were no lines at the showers this year, so the girls and I got our showers taken by 9 PM.  We'd had a big day of walking in the heat and humidity, and we all needed our rest.  Especially me.  I had taken my comfortable chaise lounge lawn chair, the one I usually keep at my cabin.  It took up way too much room in the trunk, but I figured I could relax for an hour or so after the girls were asleep.

Back at the camper, clean and refreshed, I ordered them to bed and retreated to my lounge chair with a deep sigh of gratitude.  I closed my eyes and was just starting to relax when I heard, "Grandma?  Natalie's scratching her head and making the WHOLE camper shake."

Natalie had a case of head lice a couple weeks back.  Rachel took appropriate measures and checked her head carefully for the four days preceding the fair, pronouncing her louse-free.  But the scratching continued.

"There's nothing I can do about it here, Monica.  Nattie, try to stop scratching and go to sleep."

"I can't help it Grandma," Natalie whined.

A brief silence, and then... "Grandma?  I'm hungry." 

"Nattie, you had a corn dog on the way back here, and a glass of milk when we got to the camper.  You aren't hungry."

Soon I heard constant sniffing; Monica said, "Grandma, I need to blow my nose really bad."

"Hold on, I'll get you some toilet paper."

This done, I settled back into my chair, to the sounds of blowing about every 20 seconds... you could tell the blowing was producing nothing, however.

"Monica, quit.  Nothing is coming out of your nose, so quit blowing."

"I can't breathe very good."

"Did you bring your inhaler?"

"No," she answered pitifully.

Monica never had full-blown asthma, but she did have lots of breathing problems when she was younger, and had to do regular breathing treatments at one time.

"Do you want me to call your mom?"

"Yes, I think you should."

"You realize if she comes you'll be going home with her."

Monica, whimpering:  "I just don't know what to do."

Frustrated by this time, I decided to take action.  "Here's what you'll do," I said.  "You are not going to die.  If you have to breathe through your mouth, then do that.  Say a little prayer for God to help you breathe, and go to sleep."

And with that, I went to bed.  I think that's really all they were wanting anyhow... me in the camper with them.  Because there was no more talking.

You get the picture.  My chair was comfortable, but it held no peace and quiet.  Kids!

Saturday Six

Picture from Hometown

Here, from Patrick's Place, is the Saturday Six!

1. A reader to "Men's Journal" recently wrote about technological innovations, stating that there isn't any gadget he couldn't live without:  "To see how vital technology is, spend a few days in the backcountry without your phone, pager, PDA, laptop, cappuccino machine, or MP3 player.  You'll emerge cleansed and refreshed."  Could you go a whole week really roughing it with no modern conveniences?  Would you want to?

A week?  No problem at all.  I love to camp out.  I just spent three days without any of the above, except that I took my husband's cell phone just to ease his mind.  Now, longer than a week might be a problem.

2. What is the most you've ever paid for a:
    A) Shirt
    B) Pair of Shoes  $50
    C) CD or Album
    D) DVD
    E) Book  $45 I think
    F) Vacation  Around $1,400 for a week spent in a Colorado cabin... my husband, me, and my daughter's family.

A, B, C, D and E are not items I spend excessive amounts on, especially since I've discovered

3. Looking back at the answers to#2, which one was the most foolish?  The book.  I should have waited until I discovered

4. Take this quiz:   Which snack food are you?

5. There are three wells:  Love, Beauty and Creativity.  If you could only drink from one of them, which would you choose and why?  Love, since life without love would be a lonely existance.

6. If you were another person, do you think you would be friends with the person you know as yourself?  No.

Weekend assignment, a little late

John Scalzi gives us....   Weekend Assignment #72: The Ultimate Battle

Normally with the Weekend Assignment, I try to make assignments that bring us together -- assignments we can all share in with love and comity. But today, I want to use the Weekend Assignment as a platform to discuss one of the great divides in American culture -- a divide so wide that it tears at our national fabric and threatens to pit brother against sister, parents against children, husbands against wives. I am talking, of course, about the debate about which is better: cake or pie.

Pie is my favorite.  Warm fruit pie, out of the oven for about 45 minutes, with vanilla ice cream on top.  Home-made apple is the best, preferably made my myself, since most people don't add enough spices to suit me.

Extra Credit: Having chosen cake or pie, now admit your favorite variety of the dessert you did not choose. So if you chose cake, tell us your favorite pie. Prefer pie? Tell us your favorite cake.

I wasn't going to do this assignment, since I've been gone and it's a little past-due.  However, after reading it and pondering the extra-credit question, I got so hungry I had to make my favorite cake.  And I figured if the assignment was that motivating, then I had better take part.  Here's my favorite cake:  pineapple upside down cake, just out of my oven!

State Fair Pictures and Stories

Cliff had us set up on the campground by 10:30 Thursday, and once he left, we wasted no time in getting to the tunnel that leads to the midway.  Kids under twelve don't have to pay admission, and because opening day is bargain day, it was only $1 for me, as opposed to the usual senior rate of $6.

We all had a corn dog as soon as we found a stand selling them for the opening day price of $1.  Different food stands have different bargains, so you get your dollar corn dog at one, and a dollar Coke at another.  The girls started out paying for their own, but I realized that, at $3 a stop, I could afford the bargain stuff.  Not that I did them any big favor, because their money seemed to be burning a hole in their pockets.  I tried to tell them to spend their money wisely, but I may as well have been talking to the wall; finally, I just said, "It's your money.  If you want to buy a $3 lemonade, go ahead."

The highlight of Thursday was seeing the Chicago HoneyBear Dancers.  They're lovely ladies, and terrific dancers.  They take time to be friendly with all the kids in the audience, bringing them on stage to dance with them and then talking to them individually, after the show.  They gave three shows each day, and every one is different.  We saw their morning gig, and vowed to see a different one during our three days at the fair. 

Seeing the Tigers of India show made me want to go pet a tiger, but then I remember the guy in Vegas whose pet mauled him, and I changed my mind.  It really is amazing how docile these animals are.  The trainers seem to genuinely love their animals.

On each of our three days at the fair, we found some reason to stop by the Southern Baptist tent.  They're in the same location every year, and give out free cups of cold water and lemonade.  They have ballons for the kids, so the girls had a balloon to carry around while they ate their cheap food.  Our last stop there, a clown was making balloon hats, animals, flowers, and so forth.  Each girl gota silly balloon hat, which of course bumped anyone in the crowd who came near. 

Because it was hot and we needed to sit down by 3 o'clock, we went to the Budweiser tent to watch Jed Hughes perform (never heard of him before; he's from Australia and has sort of a mellow rock-type style.  Honestly, I don't see how any of these performers can do such a great job of singing, dancing, or whatever they do, when the temperatures are in the mid- to upper-nineties. 

We didn't watch the opening-day parade this year.  It's mostly antique cars with local politicians waving from the windows, and several old tractors... with a few marching bands and floats thrown in for good measure.  For an hour.  With us standing in one spot in the heat.  We could see it passing by outside the Budweiser tent, and when it ended, we left for the opening-day ceremony.

The lieutenant-governor was there to make a speech, in place of our new governor.  Only one Stealth Bomber flew overhead, instead of three, like last year.  But the girls were elated when they saw the Honeybear dancers were going to do a number... and ecstatic when the dancers acknowledged them, across the crowd.  We all got our free Hostess fruit pie and dragged our tired bodies back to the camper for a good night's rest.  Monica had eaten four corn dogs that day, and Natalie and I each had three.