Saturday, December 31, 2005

thinking back over this year

Although my body grows weaker, and develops more aches and pains all the time, every year seems to hold more treasures.  Yes friends, life gets sweeter all the time.

I went back to read the entry I made last New Year's Day and was actually impressed by it.  I still feel the same way.  If you haven't been reading me that long, click HERE to see what I'm talking about. 

Why has it been such a good year? 

Well, I went with my daughter and her three kids to Mission Texas to visit my sister in mid-February.  It was so much fun to see my grandchildren wading in the gulf of Mexico, collecting seashells.  And watching them pick grapefruits off my sister's tree.

My grandchildren started riding my horse, Blue, this year.  So did the little neighbor girl, Anna.  I'm glad I can share the pleasure of owning a horse with others.

Cliff made my dream of having a cabin in the woods come true, in April.  Mandy and I spent several nights there, and I often head back there to steal a couple of peaceful hours during the day. 

At some point in the spring, I gave up my job.

I've had some amazing horseback rides around the countryside with Blue, and came upon a train wreck last spring.

In May, one of our cows had twin heifer calves.  And the horse my daughter was considering buying tried to kill me.  There's still a dark area on my upper leg that the doctor said will always be there.  But I consider it a miracle that I wasn't hurt worse.

On Memorial Day weekend, my daughter moved to my little town (which she used to say would NEVER happen ... but I digress).

And I started babysitting my granddaughters part-time.

In June, our other cow had her bull calf.  And I went with two grandchildren to Van's Warped Tour for the second year.  And loved it.

My son's family came to visit in late June, and while he was here we had a family reunion with Cliff's side of the family on the weekend of the Fourth of July.  My son and I went together and bought Cliff a Glock, which really surprised him.

In July I had several Internet friends come to visit, and enjoyed seeing the local sights with them.

In August two granddaughters and I went to the Missouri State Fair for three days.  And I attended "Ya'llapalooza", a country concert, with my daughter and Natalie.

In September, Cliff and I went to "Harley Days" with his sister and her husband, which was probably the final push we needed to make us look around for a motorcycle to buy.

In October, we sold our beloved Allis Chalmers tractor and used the money to buy a Honda Gold Wing.

In November, we rode the motorcycle to Branson and got stranded there.  But it was fun.  And for Thanksgiving, we went to Wisconsin where Cliff's oldest sister lives.

December has been great too, with the exception of the terrible night my neighbor's house burned.  But it's been wonderful to see the outpouring of love and concern that has come about because of the fire. 

I wish my son wasn't so far away, so we could see more of one another.  But as long as he and his family are healthy and happy, I'll not complain.

Happy New Year to all my readers.  May next year be good for all of us.

God bless you, every one.







I clicked twice on the "save" button of that last entry and it double-posted.  I'm going to remove one entry, although a couple of comments will go down the tubes with it.

I've been tagged!

These are the rules of the game: The very first player chose a topic. In this case, the topic is FIVE WEIRD HABITS OF YOURS. You must then write a journal entry listing those weirdness you possess~as well as the rules of the game. Then, you select FIVE PEOPLE TO TAG and link their names/blogs in your entry. Go to their journals and leave a comment informing them they have been tagged by you and to read your journal to see in what way they have been nailed! Those five then MUST (note that I insist upon it!) write an entry listing their weird habits and tag an additional five people.   

Gee thanks, Jackie.  Almost everything about me is weird, so how do I choose?  Oh, and number 5 isn't a habit, it's a weird fact about me.  But it's what you get for tagging me. 

1.  I love getting up early in the morning.  So much so that, any time after 3 A.M., I have to force myself to stay in bed until 5.

2.  I am so picky about my coffee being "just right" that I won't let anyone put my creamer in for me.  I'd do without coffee rather than drink instant.  And if it's been in the pot over an hour, I won't drink it.  A thermos ruins it, but if it's my last resort, I'll drink coffee from a thermos.

3.  I'm almost obsessed with following recipes to a "T".  No guessing at the amounts for me:  I scrape the excess off a 1/4-teaspoon measuring spoon with a knife to make sure it's exactly right, even if it's an ingredient that isn't that crucial.

4.  I'm a total slob.  The only reason I ever clean house, or even bathe, for that matter, is for the people around me.  I could cheerfully live in a cabin with a dirt floor and no running water forever (I'd have to have electricity though, because I'd miss my computer).

5. I never went on a date until I was 20 years old.  I had the idea that, if someone really got to know me, they wouldn't like me; so I made sure nobody got to know me.  (there's still a little of that within me, by the way) 

I'm not tagging anybody.  I know, it's part of the rules.  But I never did follow rules too well.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Our railroad adventure for the day

I didn't grow up near railroad tracks, so most of these activities are as new to me as they are to my granddaughters.  I've often stood on the other side of my fence and watched trains pass, so close you could feel the ground shake; but that was the extent of it.

Cliff has told stories about how he'd put pennies on the track when he was a child, to smash them.  He said he must have really been young, because he remembers worrying that the coins might de-rail the train.

I believe my children went back to the track to smash pennies, too, years ago; I don't recall whether they had any success with the enterprise.

Anyway, this sounded like something Monica and Natalie would enjoy, so off we went.  I took Scotch tape along, thinking the pennies would vibrate off the rail before the train reached them.  Of course I knew the tape wouldn't last, but at least the train would make contact with our pennies this way.

Altogether, it took about ten pennies and two trains to give us three flattened pennies.  So now we each have a keepsake.

Oh, and the engineer of the second train that passed scooted over to our side and waved out the window at us!  You can imagine our glee at that.  There was much screaming and laughing. 

I'm glad I haven't grown up yet.  It's fun being a kid. 

Weekend Assignment

Weekend Assignment #92: Resolutions

Tick, tick, tick... time is running out on 2005, and as we look toward 2006, we have a few things we would like to achieve for ourselves in the new year. With that in mind, your (very timely) Weekend Assignment:

Weekend Assignment 92: Do you Have New Year's Resolutions for 2006? If so, share one (or more, if you like).

As usual, Cliff and I are going to lose weight.  I feel very good about this because we've gotten a head start on this (see my Wednesday diet updates), and are headed in the right direction already.

Extra Credit:
How did you do on your resolutions for 2005?

Lousy!  And yes, at least one of my resolutions was to lose weight.  I know this because it's always on my list. 

Join in on the fun:  do an entry about your New Years resolutions and drop the link in the comment section at John Scalzi's place HERE.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I love bones; my son-in-law doesn't

I've always loved nice old bleached bones; I don't know why, but they fascinate me.  So I decided to share this fondness with my granddaughters, while we were down at the railroad track.

They were quite receptive.  And there's a treasure-trove of all sizes of bones along the railroad track.

I suggested they bang some of the bones together and listen to the sound it makes; it was a wonderful percussion sound!

Monica found some railroad spikes, and banged those together.  Those made a nice sound, too.  We all smiled at the sounds we were making.

Monica found some creature's jawbone that was shaped like a toy pistol, and shot a few things with it.

Because the bones were very well cured and bleached, I told the girls they could put some in their coat pockets and take them home.


The girls' daddy doesn't share our fondness for bones.

From now on, any bones we find will be put up for safe-keeping at my cabin, where they'll be fully appreciated.


Walking the rails... pictures

We spent considerable time at the tracks; the girls were hoping a train would come so they could have that ground-shaking experience, but we gave up and decided to save that adventure for another day.

Yeah, yeah, I tried my hand at it again too.

Poor ole Tude

Tude has had a worrisome limp for some time now.  Adam, his owner, had the vet out weeks ago.  At that time, he kept the horse in the dry lot alone and administered antibiotics, and the limp appeared to go away.

Then it appeared again, and seemed even worse.  One day Tude would seem to be fine, the next he could barely walk.

The vet probed the sole of Tude's foot until he hit the sore spot (and got knocked down for his efforts).

So now, Tude has to be in the stall for two weeks, and can't be ridden for six to eight weeks.

He sure does want out of there!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"I Hear A Train A-comin'"


I had a comment on the recent post about my walk in the woods and down to the railroad track, asking if I'd walked on the rail: 

"Please tell me you walked on the rails too.  What good is a railroad track if you can't try to balance on the rails.  I'm 62, be 63 in Jan. but if I had access to a railroad I would certainly do some rail walking.  I can still handle that height without falling and hurting myself.  Another pleasure of childhood not available to my grandchildren."

Of course this meant another walk to the back of our property with Mandy, because I just HAD to see if I could do it.  I think I finally made it about ten steps.  I was never well-coordinated, even as a child.  Age hasn't improved my skills.  But it was fun!  And if Mandy knew how to operate a camera, I'd have asked her to take my picture.  Perhaps I'll take the granddaughters there one of these days and we'll all take pictures.

I heard a train whistle in the distance and decided to wait and get a shot of the engine approaching.  That silly train was moving slowly; I must have waited at least ten minutes from the time I first heard it whistle.   

Because I had seen the carcass of a dead dog near the track earlier, I sent Mandy back onto our property, not wanting to lose my dog to a train engine.  I needn't have worried.  When the train got really close, she disappeared quickly.

free pictures

Just in case you AOL members hadn't noticed it, AOL is giving 100 free photo prints for a limited time.  Thinking there must be a catch, I loaded 100 photos into an AOL album (which took quite a long time, and I'm on cable). 

By george, it's true!  I'm getting 100 selected prints of photos I have on my computer, and all I pay is $5.96 shipping.  I believe you could even save that, if you picked them up; but I don't drive and Walmart isn't that nearby.

I love bargains.  Now I can make a photo album for 2005 that everyone can look at without gathering around the computer.

For the link where I found this information, click HERE.  I don't think it will open for non-AOL members.

Wednesday diet report

Although I had warned Cliff that, after last weeks huge water-weight loss, we'd be lucky if we lost anything this week... he's seems a bit disappointed that he gained 1 1/2 pounds.  His blood pressure is up, too:  144/87.  However, as those of you who have dealt with BP problems know, it can flutuate for no reason at all.

We also had the obstacle of a big Christmas dinner.

As for me, I lost one whole pound.  But watch out next week.  I'll bet we both lose two or three pounds.

a walk to our back fenceline


Because I wasn't baby-sitting yesterday, and it was such a perfect winter day, once Cliff headed to work I went to the cabin and sat on the porch awhile.  As you can see, the path down toward the back of our place looked so inviting that I simply had to take another stroll.

I don't usually go all the way to our back fenceline because there's another 10- or 15-foot drop-off to get there; besides, it's often pretty soggy at that lowest spot on our place.  But this time, I felt like crossing the fence and standing on the railroad tracks (yeah, I'm 61, but the kid in me never grows up).

There's something exciting about being on a railroad track.  I've always loved to walk on them, measuring my steps from tie to tie.  Mandy seems to like it, too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Because a reader asked...

One reader asked me if there was a way he could help my neighbor whose house burned, and his family (four children).  Please don't think I'm soliciting, because I know you all have needs near your own homes; but because it was requested, I'll post this one time. 

There is a fund set up at the bank, and if you'd like to contribute, here's the address:

B & L Bank
205 South 13th Street
Lexington, Missouri 64067

Checks should be made out to the Hammond family Relief Fund.

To read about the fire, if you haven't already, click HERE, HERE, and HERE.

One more ride...

Cliff needed a haircut, and I was out of a few grocery items.  The temperature was in the 40's, heading for the 50's.  So, another "final" motorcycle ride of the year!

You'd be surprised how many groceries you can get into those compartments.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A December motorcycle ride

Ever since we bought our bike, we've been trying to get together with Cliff's sister and her husband to ride.  After all,  Thunder (their Harley) and Lightning (our Honda) belong together.

This was probably our last motorcycle ride of 2005.  It was 40 degrees when we started, which makes for a cold ride.  But as long as the sun was shining, we got by, and by noon it was 50 or more.  We put over 100 miles on Lightning today!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Special Christmas Day

In the front row:  Pastor, Monica, Natalie and Kevin's grandma.  In the back row:  Cliff, me, Brett, Rachel, Kevin, and Kevin's mom.  Please note the resemblance between Monica, Kevin, and Kevin's mom. 

Monica and Natalie had been wanting to be baptized for some time now; the pastor decided Christmas Day would be a good time, and it surely did make it a memorable time for our family.

Now folks, this Church of Christ born-and-bred gal believes in immersion.  But this is what the girls wanted, and of all decisions, this one is most personal.  So, they were sprinkled.

We've attended early services at this Evangelical Free church for a couple of years, and the girls have gone with us most of that time.  Once they moved out here, they became involved in vacation Bible school and AWANA.  They know most of the ladies at Church by name, and all of the kids.  They know the Apostle's Creed, which I have come to love, but it was never part of my religious upbringing.  So I don't know it by heart.

Kevin's mom was seen wiping a tear from time to time as the girls made their public confession, and I'll admit to getting a lump in my throat.

A Christmas to remember, for sure.


I've mentioned in this journal how crowded and hemmed-in I feel sometimes, living here.  Although we're in the country and own 43 acres, there are neighbors on all sides except to the north.  I thought when Cliff fixed my cabin up for me, I'd be guaranteed privacy there.  It turned out not to be so; neighbor boys appear out of nowhere sometimes, when I'm back there. 

If I grab my cabin-sack in spring or summer and head out the door, there are usually half a dozen kids gathered outside, either around Cliff's shop with him, or in our renters' yard; and one of them is sure to say, "Cabin time?  You goin' to the cabin?"

I know it's selfish, but I resent having to report in.  I resent people knowing when I'm heading to the cabin and inquiring where I'm going.

But that isn't what this entry is about.  As you know, my neighbor to the west, Marvin, had a tragedy; his family of six watched helplessly as their house was destroyed by fire.

I spend a lot of time at the kitchen sink, since I don't have a dishwasher; and because I love to cook, there are lots of dishes to be washed around here.  The window over the kitchen sink looks out toward Marvin's place.

I didn't realize how much I unconsciously watched the goings-on next door as I washed dishes.  Their pickup coming and going.  Visitors pulling in their drive.  The kids playing.  Marvin heading out to feed the horses, or puttering in his garage.  The four children running to meet the bus every morning. 

Now, except for the times they come to check on things or feed their horses, there's only the lifeless, burned-out shell of a house there, the reminder of a terrible event.

Even at night when everyone was in bed at Marvin's, there must have been some sort of light over there, because now when I go to the sink early in the morning to make coffee, I'm stunned by the absence of anything to the west; I have a gaping black hole in the night to look at.

Maybe I'm not so much a hermit as I thought.

At least their dog, Buddy is here.  I told Roxanna that I've been feeding him, and will continue to do so.  He'd never make it confined in town, imprisoned by a leash law, even for the few months it'll take them to rebuild.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Just checking in

I've been cooking, as I imagine many here in J-land have.  The desserts are made:  pumpkin pie, Oreo Dessert, and Ann Landers' Pecan pie.  I had to stop in the middle of making the pecan pie when I realized I had no sugar and no brown sugar.

"Cliff, call Rachel and see if she has any brown sugar on hand... and sugar, too."

When nobody answered at home, he dialed her cell and caught her at Walmart.  How convenient is that?  Anyhow, the pie crust and pecan pie filling had to wait until my daughter brought my essential ingredients.

Digging through the deep freeze looking for a couple of boxes of Cool-Whip, I saw a package of pork neck bones and decided to make soup for mine and Cliff's lunch.  Cheap and easy.  And mighty tasty, as it turned out.  Plus, there were bones for Mandy and Buddy to chew on when it was done.

We wanted to take a walk today, but it's been really a miserable-looking, drippy day.  We've had light rain ever since before I got up this morning. 

Cliff spent more time inside that he usually does, since there's nothing he could do outside.  At least he got to see the Kansas City Chiefs win, for a change.

My Georgia granddaughter, Lyndsay, called to thank us for her Christmas present.  I mailed it Monday, and it arrived today... just in the nick of time.

OK, I'm off to make a few deviled eggs.  The rest of tomorrow's meal will wait until tomorrow.

About our diets?  We're going to enjoy the meal tomorrow, while trying not to stuff ourselves too much.  The leftovers will be sent with anyone who will take them.  If nobody wants the pecan pie, I'm sorry, but it will be dumped in the trash.  I'm not safe with a pecan pie in the house.

But at least I'll have had my one piece, for the year.

Friday, December 23, 2005

playing an instrument can be dangerous

Because the kids got out of school yesterday for winter break, the fourth-graders were allowed to bring their recorders home.  Of course this meant I was treated to lots of music (the same two songs over and over).  Actually, Monica is doing well, and even knows which notes are which.  I'm thinking she might do well on a real instrument, later on.

Anyhow.  She asked if she could take the recorder outside and play it.  That sounded like a great idea to me!  But as she was coming back inside, somehow the door jammed the recorder back against the roof of her mouth. 

I believe her when she says it hurt.  And I pointed out that this is why we grownups tell kids not to be running around with things in their mouths.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I took a walk

Because Cliff had to leave for work at 9 this morning, we couldn't take our walk together.  So, I figured I'd get the dogs and walk in the woods.  Trouble is, Mandy was nowhere to be found.  Since Buddy was stretched out in front of the barn ready to go, I had a little company... very little.  Buddy is a hunter, and once we hit the woods, he was treeing squirrels or chasing birds; about all I had of him was his stacatto "Bark, bark... bark, bark" that lets me know he has something cornered or treed.  I'd have taken some pictures of him in action, but he was on the move so much he was never close to me.

Our snow is melted on the level  and the hilltops, but down in the woods and hollers where the sun never shines, as you can see, the ground is pretty white.

I returned to find Mandy lying right inside the barn door, soaking up the sunshine.  Buddy showed up about ten minutes behind me and had a quick snack in Mandy's pen.

They really love those new treats, but I won't be buying them often.  I think it's too much to pay for fourteen treats, one of which they can polish off in about twenty minutes.

Holiday Wars

This was in the purpose-driven Life devotional today.  Very well said.

Holiday Wars
by John Fischer

This Christmas, Christians have been caught in the throes of a war on semantics. We are seeing and hearing more “Happy Holidays” and less “Merry Christmases.” The beloved “Christmas tree” has turned into being a “Holiday tree." One television ad plays regularly with carolers singing: “We Wish You A Happy Holiday” to the tune of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”

One can surely see why a general mood of fighting back could prevail. I have seen numerous emails floating around with pictures of Christmas trees lamenting the secularization of Christmas. The underlying tone of these messages so far has been one of anger and partisanship, as if to say: “They can't take our Christmas away from us!”

It's an interesting question and one we need to consider seriously. If this a battle, on what level do we fight it? If someone wishes us “Happy Holidays,” do we respond with a hearty “Merry Christmas,” thus striking a blow for the kingdom of God?

I'm not so sure it's as important as all this. After all, it's Christ that is the issue, not Christmas. I don't even think Jesus cares very much about what we or anyone else call an evergreen with lights on it in December. Jesus never cared much about labels anyway; He always cared more about what was in the heart.

Here's how you put Christ back into Christmas: you celebrate Him as Lord of your life and ruler of your heart, and you love even those who want to take Christmas out of the Holiday equation. Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). He came to forgive sins -- mine… yours… everybody's. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Let's not let religious pride get in the way of the core message of the gospel. It's never been us against them; it's us for them. We mustn't forget that Jesus came to die for the very people who are trying to secularize our country.

In our zeal to keep Christ in Christmas, lets be careful not to alienate the very peoplewho need Him the most -- those who don't know Him. People are more likely to be set on the road to salvation by loving, caring believers who are secure in the hope of the real Christ living in their lives, and whose faith is brighter than any Christmas tree.

It's what's in your heart that really counts this Christmas. Let's not get so taken up with fighting to save a name that we forget to live out the reality of the hope of Christ to the world. If people end up encountering the real Christ of Christmas, it will matter little what we end up calling the holiday itself.


the warm heart of a rural community (neighbor update)

My little community... the Churches, the school, and individuals... are rallying around the cause and helping my neighbors in their trials.  Someone even has a furnished house for them to stay in until they decide what to do.

I talked to Roxanna yesterday, and she said both she and Marvin awoke and sat straight up in bed at the same time and somehow realized the house was on fire.  When she ran into her youngest daughter's bedroom, there were flames coming from the closet.  So it was truly a close call.  The kids wrapped up in blankets to run across the road to their aunt's house, so they escaped with no clothing... although of course the community is helping rapidly with that situation.

They were using a wood stove, but there are some indications the fire may have been caused by faulty wiring.  They have insurance, although she said it isn't nearly enough; they'd totally remodeled the house about five years ago, and probably didn't upgrade their insurance accordingly.

I just wanted to keep everyone informed about this situation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


As you can probably guess by my "happy" mood, we both did great for our first week:  I lost 8 pounds, Cliff lost 8 1/2.

Cliff's blood pressure is 9 points lower on the top number and 8 points lower on the bottom.

We've kept up with our half-hour walk five days a week, and we can both tell the calves of our legs have firmed up a lot.  And, we don't get short of breath so easily now.

I've been through this enough to know that we won't be showing this big a loss again in one weeks time, because so much of the initial loss is water weight.  I'd be happy with two or three pounds a week, and in the past, that's pretty much what I've done.  However, we're older now, so I won't expect too much.  When I get down to a certain point, I'll tell you what my starting weight was.

update on the fire

Obviously, Marvin's house (he owns it) is totaled; hopefully they have insurance, but of course there are so many things that can never be replaced.

His sister lives directly across the road, and his mom also.


I generally sleep very soundly in the middle part of the night.  So soundly, in fact, that I seldom even know when Cliff gets home at 1 AM and crawls into bed beside me. 

We don't lock our doors.  At 1:30 this morning I was pulled from whatever nether regions in which my soul dwells at that hour, realizing there was a woman in my house, calling my name at the top of her lungs. 

"Donna, Donna," she yelled desperately, "Our house is on fire!"

My first thought was that it might be Vicki, who rents the mobile home from us.  As I roused myself awake, I realized it was Roxanna, Marvin's wife, from next door.

"I'm sorry, Donna, I'm sorry (she was apologizing for waking me?) our house is on fire.  Marvin tried to put it out with a hose and he can't.  Call the fire department."  And she was out the door as quickly as she'd entered.

Of course I called 911, and they said someone had already called.  Then Cliff and I peered out the kitchen window; we saw no signs of fire or smoke for a couple of minutes; then flames shot through the roof.

It only took ten minutes for our rural volunteer fire department to show up, but with no fire hydrants out here in the boonies, it was pretty hopeless.  I really don't know whether any of the house can be salvaged or not; I do know this end of it still stands.

What a horrible sight, and what a hideous thought.  A family of six is out of a home today, so close to Christmas.  Anna, the quiet little girl who sometimes rides my horse, is one of the family members.

Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Suddenly It's Christmas"

I have a new favorite songwriter, Loudon Wainwright III (He wrote the theme song of "M.A.S.H.").  He's the type of singer who makes me want to write songs for myself.  Here are the lyrics to one of the songs he's written, appropriate to the season:

                                                    Suddenly It's Christmas

                                         Copyright ©1993 Snowden Music, Inc.

Suddenly it's Christmas,
Right after Hallowe'en.
Forget about Thanksgiving;
It's just a buffet in between.
There's lights and tinsel in the windows;
They're stocking up the shelves;
Santa's slaving at the North Pole
In his sweatshop full of elves.

There's got to be a build-up
To the day that Christ was born:
The halls are decked with pumpkins
And the ears of Indian corn.
Dragging through the falling leaves
In a one-horse open sleigh,
Suddenly it's Christmas,
Seven weeks before the day.

Suddenly it's Christmas,
The longest holiday.
When they say "Season's Greetings"
They mean just what they say:
It's a season, it's a marathon,
Retail eternity.
It's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.

Outside it's positively balmy,
In the air nary a nip;
Suddenly it's Christmas,
Unbuttoned and unzipped.
Yes, they're working overtime,
Santa's little runts;
Christmas comes but once a year
And goes on for two months.

Christmas carols in December
And November, too;
It's no wonder we're depressed
When the whole thing is through.
Finally it's January;
Let's sing "Auld Lang Syne";
But here comes another heartache,
Shaped like a Valentine.

Suddenly it's Christmas,
The longest holiday.
The season is upon us;
A pox, it won't go away.
It's a season, it's a marathon,
Retail eternity.
It's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.

No, it's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree;
It's still not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.

Our motorcycle is fixed!

Yeah, that picture was taken some time back.  My regular readers might recall that our beloved Gold Wing broke down in the middle of Branson in early November, and our daughter had to come and pick us up.  Click HERE if you have not read about it.

We could have taken our bike to a local Honda dealer; we'd have gotten it home in a day or two, if we'd done that.  But the price would have been half again as much as we'd pay at Hub Motorcycle.  Nobody has a bad word to say about this place.

The trouble was, in order to save us some money, they intended to get the part we needed (I call it an alternator, but there's another name for it) from somebody other than Honda; the part was back-ordered.  They'd have gone ahead and put the Honda part in, but it would have cost more.  And let's face it, we wouldn't be riding our motorcycle this time of year anyhow; so we let them store it for us.

Finally, today, we got the call.  "Lightning", as we named our bike, is ready.  It'll be $400.  But at the Honda dealer, it would have been $600.

Motorcycles, like horses or antique tractors or any other hobby, are quite a drain on the pocketbook.  I don't care, I'm ready to ride, as soon as the temperature gets above 45 degrees!

Oh, I'll have a diet report in the morning; stay tuned.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Monday Photo Shoot

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Decorations!

Twas the monday before Christmas (and Hanukkah! And the Winter Solstice!) and all through AOL-J, John Scalzi was saying, "you know, people have too much to do for me to make a complicated Photo Shoot this week." So:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show us the decorations!
Yes, time to pimp your seasonal decorating bug, folks. Show us what you got. Take the picture, post it on your Journal/Blog, and then go back to John Scalzi's entry to leave a link. Easy!

Well folks, I already showed you my tacky tree (here).  So I waited until almost dark tonight to take pictures of our pitiful attempt at decorations.  I've had a grandchild or two say it looks spooky, but I just like to think I have a candle in every window (and a big one on the porch) to welcome the Christ-child.  And hey, this is a lot easier than stringing lights outside!

That light in the upstairs window is a reflection of the flash on my camera.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Oh, this is good (don't worry, Jim and Rachel)

I got this at stormies's journal, and loved it so much I had to share.  And no, my children, I won't do this to you:

When I'm an old lady, I'll live with each kid,
And bring so much happiness... just as they did.
I want to pay back all the joy they've provided,
Returning each deed. Oh, they'll be so excited!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

I'll write on the wall with reds, whites and blues,
And bounce on the furniture wearing my shoes.
I'll drink from the carton and then leave it out.
I'll stuff all the toilets and oh, how they'll shout!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

When they're on the phone and just out of reach,
I'll get into things like sugar and bleach,
Oh, they'll snap their fingers and then shake their head,
And when that is done I'll hide under the bed!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

When they cook dinner and call me to eat,
I'll not eat my green beans or salad or meat.
I'll gag on my okra, spill milk on the table,
And when they get angry I'll run... if I'm able!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

I'll sit close to the TV, through the channels I'll click,
I'll cross both my eyes just to see if they stick.
I'll take off my socks and throw one away,
And play in the mud 'til the end of the day!
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

And later in bed, I'll lay back and sigh,
I'll thank God in prayer and then close my eyes.
My kids will look down with a smile slowly creeping,
And say with a groan. "She's so sweet . when she's sleeping!"
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids)

~ Author Unknown ~


Something I don't understand

There's something about J-land... perhaps I should say about the Internet as a whole... that I don't quite understand.

I've seen people say this in their journals:  "I am so behind on my journal reading; I have 2,455 alerts." 

OK, maybe they didn't say they had that many, but that's beside the point.  Folks, do NOT feel like you have to read my journal.  It's pure drivel.  There is nothing important in this blog.  If you miss out on reading an entry, I don't mind, and you need not lose any sleep over it.  The world will keep turning.  Bush will still be president when you wake up tomorrow.  The sun will come up and the seasons will change.

It's the same with e-mail.  I hear (or see) someone say, after being gone a few days, "I have 967 e-mails to read; I don't know when I'll find the time."

What, you don't have a delete button?  I have never in my life received any e-mail that was life-altering, or even important (unless it contained a picture of a grandchild).  I do check to see if there's e-mail from my Georgia son, but other than that, I delete the whole mess if I've been on vacation.  Let's get real here:  if there was something important, people would call me on the telephone!

End of rant.  Have a nice week.

Patrick's Saturday Six

Here are this week's "Saturday Six" questions. Either answer the questions in a comment at Patrick's journal, or put the answers in an entry on your journal...but either way, leave a link to your journal at Patrick's so that everyone else can visit!

1. How much of your Christmas shopping and holiday card mailing do you have left to accomplish? When do you expect to finish it if you haven't already?  I only buy for grandchildren, and that tiny bit of shopping is all done.  I have most of my cards sent; there's a stack waiting to be sent tomorrow, and unless I think of someone else (which I probably will) I'm done with them.

2. When giving gifts to co-workers or casual friends, how much importance do you place on the value of the gift you're giving them versus the value of the gift you imagine they're giving you?  I don't buy Christmas gifts for friends and co-workers, nor do I expect gifts from them.  It's all I can do to get something for the grandchildren.

3. What are you secretly hoping someone will give you for Christmas that you haven't specifically asked for?  It would be nice to receive a Jersey heifer calf or a bred Jersey cow.  I won't be getting that though; I don't know anyone who has $1,000 to spare. 

4. Take this quiz (if you haven't already!): Which Jones Holiday Soda Flavor are you?  I'm Pecan Pie Soda; sweet, but totally nuts.

5. Would you actually try that flavor?  No.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #78 from Carly: If you could step into the life of any fictional Christmas character -- Scrooge, Rudolph, Frost, etc. -- and live that part, which character would you choose and why?  ZuZu in "It's A Wonderful Life".  Because she's young and innocent and believes that "every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings".  Christmas is never as much fun as when you're a child.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The box in my bedroom

There isn't much to add to this three-picture story.  Would you believe they went to all the trouble to bring this box from home?

My cabin in winter

I hadn't been to the cabin for a long time, and I figured it would be a good idea to check on things back there.  Lots of mouse poison has been consumed, and recycled into mouse poop all over the tops of my Books Of Knowledge, and on the floor near one batch of poison.  I don't know where the mice went to die, but I didn't see any carcasses. 

It's amazing that a place can be so lovely in spring, summer and fall, and so forboding and desolate on a day like this.  Mandy wasn't put off by the seasonal weather; every atom of her being was looking for excitement.  She was SO happy when I told her we were "going to the cabin", she started whining at me to hurry; and she wasn't ready to leave when I told her we were going back to the house, but she reluctantly followed. 

Friday, December 16, 2005

Why God Allows Pain

This was sent to me by my good friend Tracy (I miss riding with you, Tracy).

This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen. It's an explanation other people will understand.

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed.  As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects.

When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said:  "I don't believe that God exists."

"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.

"Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist.  Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick  people?  Would there be abandoned children?  If God existed, there would be  neither suffering nor pain.  I can't imagine a loving a God who would allow all  of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument.  The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.  Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said  to the barber:  "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I  am a barber.  And I just worked on you!"

"No!" the customer exclaimed.  "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards,  like that man outside."

"Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is that people do not come to  me."

"Exactly!"  - affirmed the customer.  "That's the point!  God, too, DOES exist!  What happens is that people don't go to Him and do not  look for Him.  That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."


 This just in from the National Weather Service:


"Greater Kansas City" and "Kansas City metro" includes me.  We'll see.

Holiday eating tips (received too late to be any help to myself)

Just when I was about to give up message boards, I found this:

Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly.
Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it.
That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.  (disclaimer here:  I LOVE fruitcake, calories and all; but I think that's already been established.)

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

The bull goes home

THE BULL belonging to Cliff's brother has been here since June; the cows have been bred for some time, but since Phil's cows weren't ready for a boy friend, we figured the least we could do was board him for a few months, in return for his services.

Last year I was afraid to go in the pasture with him anywhere nearby; I've gotten over that fear for the most part, although he has the most unnerving way of staring at a person as long as they're in sight.

He's gotten so big that he could barely squeeze in the sliding door of the trailer; in fact, I think that's the only thing that made him even think twice about hopping in.  Every trailer ride he's ever taken has resulted in hot dates for him, so he ought to be happy about it.

So we now have about six months without THE BULL.  Then it all starts over again. 

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My daughter sent me this in e-mail... here are my answers

  1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? egg nog   

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa leaves them in my stocking and under my tree  

 3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored lights everywhere, I'm tacky.  

4. Do you hang mistletoe? I would if I could find some.  

5. When do you put your decorations up? No more than two weeks before Christmas.  

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?  Ham  

7. Favorite Holiday memories as a child? The time my mom and me went to a Christmas program at the Methodist Church and came home, and Santa had already been there.  

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?  Probably 7, but I pretended for a couple more years.  

 9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Nope.  

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him? Since my kids grew up, Santa gets nothing.  

11. Snow!  Love it or Dread it? LOVE IT, if it's gonna be cold, might as well be pretty!  

12. Can you ice skate? No, and I don't want to.  

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? a sled  

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?  family.

15.  What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? pecan pie, but nobody else in my family is crazy about it.  

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? the tree  

17. What tops your tree? a tacky, slutty-looking angel  

18. Which do you prefer? Giving or receiving?  Giving.  

19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol? Silent Night and Oh Holy Night  

20. Candy Canes!  Yuck or Yum? Yuck, but they're nice hanging on the tree.

my message boards

I go to message boards, you know.  People don't like other people, so they go to "private" message boards to badmouth the people they don't like on the "other" message board.

Someone on the first message board (not me, but it could have been) stays out of all the arguments and such, but she is a friend of someone that "some of them" don't care for.

She's religious.  So on the private message board, someone calls her the "church lady".

Next thing you know, somebody from the private message board wants prayers.  And goes to the "main message board" asking.

I'd bet the "church lady" will be on the front lines, praying.  Even though they made fun of her on the private board.

Isn't this childish?  I'm about to give up on message boards; and possibly the human race.

John Scalzi's weekend assignment

I did John Scalzi's weekend assignment in my memory journal:

the horses get to run

It's  a dreary, cold, windy day.  We took our walk this morning, and then went shopping.  We're always debating whether to go to Blue Springs Walmart, or cross the river to Richmond.  The Richmond store is never as crowded, being in more of a rural setting; and the road from here to there is not a busy one.  Both stores are good-sized and well-stocked.

Today we chose Richmond, and Cliff set the trip meter in the car so we could see if it was further there.  Well, it's only 21 miles.  So that will probably be our choice from now on.  We have a small Walmart 15 miles away, but it's just too small to be able to stock everything.

Although there isn't much for them to graze, I decided to turn the three horses out of their pen so they could feel free for awhile.  I knew they'd run, buck and carry on, so I had my camera.  Unfortunately, once through the gate, they ran so fast I didn't get any really good pictures of them running!    Snickers, the mare, ran out immediately; but the cowardly boys first circled their pen before passing through the gate.  In the first picture, you can see Blue just dying to get past Tude and run:

And next, you'll see the best shot I could get of them running.  Next time I do this, I'll have Cliff open the gate for them while I stand poised with the camera.

It's amazing how a dreary day can be lightened up by watching animals enjoy life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Oh, you HAVE to read this!

Just click HERE.

a couple of explanitory notes before I go to another subject

About exercise:  Cliff and I walk a mile and a half, five days a week.  My feet and knees won't do more at one time, but I'm thankful that the shoe inserts I got recently have made it possible for me to walk for exercise at all.  I'd like to pick up a good exercise bike cheap; I've used them before, and I don't think it would hurt my knees, used 15 to 30 minutes a day.  Years ago I literally wore out a Sears exercise bike.

About dieting during the holiday season:  Since I've already had all my favorite Christmas goodies (brown sugar fudge, fantastic fudge, fruitcake, home-made cheeseball, cranberry bread, etc.) I really won't feel cheated; I've already had it all this year.  And remember, on weekends there'll be one regular, high-carb, high-fat meal, with dessert.  If there's some holiday food I'm craving, I'll work it in at those times.

I usually base any "diet" on the food pyramid, which means I concentrate more on what we can have than what we shouldn't have, making sure we have lots of fruits and veggies.  This has worked very well for us in the past.  Cliff and I had maintained our weight at decent levels for over two years, until I got my job five years ago.  Left on his own, Cliff gained.  I did all right working because of the very active job I had... I walked all day long, for eight hours (that's also what finished off my knees).  Once I gave up the job, my knees felt better, but I gained weight.  I'll never be able to exercise vigorously like I did in the past to keep fit.  So I'm going to have to learn ways to be vigilant about my food intake.

As to HealthyGene's comment about Cliff drinking too much water:  Cliff won't be doing the water thing anyhow; he just can't force himself to drink a lot of water.  I'll be aiming for 6 to 8 cups a day, and those will be spread out throughout the day.  I've had four so far today. 

I love to eat out; Cliff wouldn't care if he never ate out.  When we do go out somewhere, we'll have to stay away from buffets (we'd just keep going back until we waddled like penguins), and we'll split one meal  between the two of us at other places.

We've done all this before and been successful; it will be a little harder now that we can't exercise as much, but we can succeed.   

As I said, it's about making right choices.  And this is the last you'll hear about "diets" until next Wednesday.  Really!  I promise.  I just wanted to answer some questions posed in the comment section of my other entry. 

"D" Day for me and Cliff

OK, enough is enough.  I've been steadily gaining weight since I quit my job, and of course it gets worse at this time of year.  I weighed this morning.  ACK!!!!  I'm as heavy as I've ever been, except toward the end of my first pregnancy.

I've been mentally preparing for this for some time.  Every morning, right after I tell God, "Good morning," I thank Him for giving me the power to make right choices.  Now it's time to start actually using that power, because the right things are always here to choose.

Cliff's been wanting to work on his weight too, so I guess we're in it together.  I wrote both our starting weights on the calendar, as well as Cliff's blood pressure numbers, since that's a problem for him.

I know the things to do... all the little tricks, like writing down everything that goes in your mouth, and drinking lots of water.  I have lots of low-fat, low-calorie recipes that we love.  It's finding the motivation that's hard.  When I was younger, I'd lose weight because I wanted to look better; that is no longer one of my reasons for losing weight.  At sixty-one years old, nothing short of plastic surgery is going to make me a glamour-puss.  I just want to feel better, maintain my health, and avoid buying a whole new wardrobe of jeans and sweats.

A few years back there was a marvelous free website called DietWatch where you could record everything you ate, and then a program on the site would tally calories and nutrients for you.  You could even enter the ingredients of any favorite recipe and that recipe would be on record, with nutrients and calories per serving, from then on.  The website is still there, but now it costs real money (or should I say plastic money).  As does the Readers' Digest ChangeOne, and Weightwatchers.  All of them are around $15 to $20 a month, and I hate to pay for something when I really do know what it takes to do it myself.

I happened to recall TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), and remembered hearing that they are non-profit; sure enough, they have many free helps on their website.  They ask you to make a user-name and password, but there's NO cost.

Then I found an anazing site,, that has calories for thousands of foods, including name brands and fast foods. 

I'm editing to add another helpful site that's been around forever, but is always being improved:  3 Fat Chicks

I have decided to cook one normal big meal on the weekend, because the family fellowship around that meal means a lot to me.  Cliff and I will either fall off the wagon at that time, or we'll limit ourselves.  I figure once a week, a big meal (within reason) won't kill a diet.

As I said, I know what works.  I'm hoping that making it public in this way will keep me honest.  If I fail, you, my readers, will be the first to know.

Of course, failure isn't final. 

Oh, and a promise to my readers:  I won't be going on and on about how little I've had to eat on a given day; that is SUCH a bore!  I'll simply mention my progress, perhaps once a week.  No more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

collectable plates

From the mid-sixties through the early 80's, my mom sold Avon.  I intend to do an entry on her Avon career in my memory journal, but right now I'll talk about the Avon Christmas plates.  EDIT:  Mother's Avon entry is now ready:  Click HERE.

When Avon started making a yearly Christmas plate to sell, Mother considered them an investment and bought each one as it came out.  She never did anything with them, just left them in the boxes they came in and stored them.  I really had no interest in them, or any of the other Avon stuff she hoarded.

When she moved out here, she asked my sister if she wanted them, and Maxine paid her a small amount for all of them.  Her husband, Russell, built shelves up high all around her little kitchen, and that's where the plates were displayed, bringing a little Christmas cheer to the place all year around.

Displayed thus, I took a liking to the plates.  I'd study them each time I visited Maxine, wishing I'd taken them.  And I started, right then, buying each new plate as it came out.

I picked up some of the older ones from a friend who was going out of the business of selling Avon.  I found three for a great price at a garage sale, and a couple at a tractor show flea market.  Before you know it, I had practically the whole collection. 

Now, at the beginning it was easy to display them.  There was a space over my cabinets where eight or ten of them could hang, and as I added to the collection, I put the others in different places on the wall.  Unlike my sister, I only displayed mine from around Thanksgiving until after Christmas.

It had already begun to be difficult to find a spot for every plate, and then we had some remodeling done on the kitchen.  The ceiling was lowered somewhat, and the spot above the cabinets was no longer big enough for the plates.

So last year I left the plates in their boxes, except for the newest one; they now come with a plastic stand, so you can set them on a table for display, and I set it on the library table. 

Yesterday when I got the ornaments out, the three plates from recent years were with them, and I set them under the tree on the library table.

This morning I realized that if I took my Indian plates down, I could replace them with some of my Christmas plates.  Just because I don't have room for them all, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a few of them.

After the New year arrives, I'll put my Indians back.

  Oh, and about the investment value of the plates?  You can pick up any of them on Ebay, even the oldest ones, for less than what they cost new.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Monday Photo Shoot

Here it is, from John Scalzi:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show us a series of pictures with a theme. "A series" in this case can mean "two" but three or four would be good. The theme could be anything you want, although it being the holidays, something holiday-oriented would be a good and easy thing to do.

Alrighty then.  Since tractors are a big part of life here, my theme is "kids and tractors"; the pictures are in no particular order:

That's a neighbor kid, Tyler, plowing.

That's either Tyler or Travis (I can tell them apart now, but this was some time back) and Luke, our renters' son.

That's my little Georgia peach, Lyndsay, at home on a garden tractor.  (It runs in the family.)

That's my son-in-law, Kevin, with Nattie, racing Cliff and Luke.

And this is my granddaughters, Natalie and Monica, last summer at the state fair.

I love a tacky Christmas tree

Thanks to my friend Bernie, from Colorado (a long-time chat friend) Cliff and I found a cheap fake Christmas tree today.  We'd never have checked Hobby Lobby if Bernie hadn't told us they had a big sale on trees.

I hate fake trees; in fact, if it were up to me, we'd not be having a Christmas tree at all, but Cliff wants one as long as we have young grandchildren around.  We paid $10 for this one, so if it only lasts this year I won't complain.

I put the lights on the little tree, but that's all.  When the girls got off the school bus and came inside, they were delighted to do the rest.  Of course, the first thing I asked them to do was arrange the holy family.  They love doing that, and will re-arrange them daily.

They love going through the decorations, remembering when they made certain ones at some Sunday school, or day care.  Yep, that's a tacky tree.  This is what a Christmas tree looks like when kids decorate it.  I love it!

All In The Family


Cliff and I both love All In The Family; we even have the first three seasons (the best ones) on DVD, and when there's nothing on TV to interest me, I turn to Archie Bunker.  That show lays bare any prejudices we've ever had in this country and makes me laugh at my own weaknesses, as well as the foibles of others.

My granddaughter, Monica, has watched a few episodes with me and Cliff, and enjoyed them thoroughly.  So last Friday, cooped up in the house with two very restless girls on a "snow day", I suggested we watch "All In the Family". 

One of my favorite episodes is the one with Sammy Davis, Jr.  He leaves his briefcase in Archie's taxi and has to come to the house to pick it up.  Archie is in awe of his famous guest, but all his prejudice against blacks come through... and Sammy makes fun of him in his own subtle way, without Archie ever catching on.  It's hilarious.  So I chose that one, thinking the girls would get a kick out of it.

The thing is, I was dealing with two little girls who don't know what prejudice is.  They sat there looking puzzled, not cracking a smile; so I tried to explain. 

"You see, Archie is prejudiced.  He thinks he is better because he is white."  They nodded, but still looked confused.

Sammy takes a sip of beer from Archie's glass, so of course Archie won't take another drink from that glass. 

"See, he thinks he's better, so he won't drink after Sammy," I said.  Seeing the lack of comprehension in their faces, I gave up.

Why should I spoil their innocence?  My daughter has done something right:  her kids don't understand what prejudice is!  Maybe there's hope for the next generation after all.



Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Sunday Seven

What are your top seven favorite Christmas songs? Use ASCAP's list for an idea starter, but you need not pull your seven only from that list. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, list up to seven holiday songs you like to hear this time of year.

I don't need anybody's list: 

1.  Silent Night

2.  White Christmas

3.  O Holy Night

4.  Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

5.  I'll Be Home For Christmas

6.  The Little Drummer Boy

7.  The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire)

If you'd like to play, just copy and paste the question, then leave an link to your entry at Patrick's Weekender.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

hound dog picture

I swear, I didn't kill that squirrel!

To build an igloo...

In my daughter's Friday memory entry, she mentions the time I helped her and her brother build an igloo. 

In the comment section of that entry, my son says this:  "Man, I was just telling my buddy about those igloos. I swear that year we had one right out the back door...that thing did last a long time. For the most part, I'm enjoying "global warming", but it would be nice to have another igloo year too. Oh, and how the hell did mom figure out how to build igloo's anyhow?!"

Well believe it or not, I remember exactly how I learned to build an igloo.

I was about eight years old when someone gave me "The Bobbsey Twins" for Christmas.  Lord only knows how many times I read that book through!

In that book, there were two sets of twins:  Nan and Bert, the older set; and their young siblings, Freddie and Flossie.

The younger twins built a snow-house, with the help of Sam, the stableman.  It ends up collapsing on Freddie, burying him completely.  (You can read this HERE.)  Then they rebuilt the snow-house.

"After that the building of the snow house was started all over again. The pile of snow was packed down as hard as possible, and Nan made Flossie and Freddie do the outside work while she crept inside, and cut around the ceiling and the bay window just as the others wanted. It was great sport, and when the snow house was finished it was large enough and strong enough for all of them to enter with safety. 

 'Tonight I'll poah some water ober dat house,' said Sam. 'Dat will make de snow as hard as ice.' This was done, and the house remained in the garden until spring came."

I hope nobody finds the dialect here offensive, but that's how the book was written; after all, this was a long, long time ago. 




Another kid-friendly recipe

This is a favorite of everyone in my family:  Tater Tot Casserole.  You can find all sorts of variations on the recipe on the Internet, and most of them ask you to put the tater tots (it can be off-brand ones) on the bottom, as the first layer. 

My daughter and I, however, have decided it's prettier with the tots on top, so I've settled on making it that way; after all, presentation is everything!  I first got this recipe from my ex-daughter-in-law's Aunt Dar.

                                                               TATER TOT CASSEROLE

2 pounds hamburger
1/2 cup onion
Mix together and cook till hamburger is nicely browned.  Drain.

3 cans cream of mushroom soup mixed with
1 can condensed milk

Spread the browned burger in the bottom of a 9X13 pan.  Pour soup-milk mix evenly over it.

Here's where I make an addition, hoping to add a little something healthy to a high-fat, high-carb meal.  I heat up 2 cups of mixed vegetables and spread them over the soup mix.  This was not originally part of the recipe.

Now place tater tots on top.  Bake for 40 minutes at 350, remove, sprinkle as much cheese as you like on top, and bake another 15 minutes.

It's equally tasty with the tots on the bottom, so feel free to make it that way if you like.

Kids love this, but so do any adults to whom I've served it.

Friday, December 9, 2005

I feel so special...

My buddy Robin is guest editor this week, and I'm one of her editor's picks!  Check out her journal and her other picks, won't you?  (I think she bribed Joe, of Magic Smoke, to get this special privilege).

more about my non-driving status

The entry I made that spoke about my plans should Cliff die before me provoked lots of comments, and a few questions, which I'll address here.

Next to the question, "What will you do if something happens to Cliff", the other question I hear the most is, "Why don't you drive?".  Someone asked that in a comment.

On all occasions when I've tried to learn to drive, the results have been disasterous.  And this includes driver's training at school in my junior year.  In fact, my instructer humiliated me beyond belief, making fun of my efforts to the three other kids who were in the car with us at the time.  Since then a couple of well-meaning souls have tried to assist me, thinking surely they knew some special trick.  I don't think I have a single friend who hasn't suggested that, of course, if I'd let them try, they'd teach me to drive.  I don't intend to risk a friendship in that manner.

Another question that was raised:  Does Cliff have plans, if I should die before him? 

We haven't talked about what he'd do in such a case, but I'm 100% certain he'd stay right here, as long as his health permitted.  Everything he loves is here.  He spends hours each day in his shop, before leaving for work; and in summer he's always outside fixing fence, putting up hay, and all the other things that go with living in the country.  They'd probably have to carry him out of here, kicking and screaming.

Cliff does seem to have one set of plans laid out though.  I once told him to feel free to remarry if I leave him a widower; my only request was, "Please don't let her have my guitar."

His answer?  "Oh, don't worry about that; she doesn't know how to play."