Friday, June 30, 2006

me, featured on the journals page?

Yeah, I have one of the featured Monday-photo-shoot entries on the AOL journals main page.  This might make Blue famous yet, you think?  If you're reading my journal as a result of coming here for the first time through the journals main page, leave a comment and let me know.  It's always good to meet new readers on my way to having 100,000 hits on my blog.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

the picture in the previous entry doesn't tell the whole story

In that aerial picture of our property we appear to have a wonderful forest at the back of our place.  Anyone for a walk in the woods?

Well, here's the deal:  If you see trees there, it's because the slopes are so steep that you can barely navigate them without hanging onto vines.  There are caverns in which you could set our two-story house, and you'd still look down on it.  Our house sets on a river bluff of wind-blown soil, and slopes clear down to river-bottom level back at the railroad tracks.

In other words, that land is pretty much useless.  Hence, the trees.

I can't even say very many positive things about the trees, because the previous owner sold the big ones to a logging company; the only old trees left on the place are defective ones that wouldn't have made good lumber.

Am I complaining?  Nope.  Every morning when Cliff and I take our walk back there, I thank the Lord for such a place.  It isn't really mine, you know.  Nobody owns land, in my opinion.  It will be here when we're dead and gone, with someone else holding the deed.  I look out over the river bottom from the highest point on our property, and feel I own the hundreds of acres of bottom-land stretching out before me, just as surely as I own our 43 rugged acres.

I originally said that shot was taken in 1980, but after looking it over, Cliff and I realized it had to have been taken much later than that; my mom's mobile home shows up, for instance.  It was put there in 1987.

Another note of interest:  The back of our place, at the railroad tracks, is 750 feet above sea level; the front of the place, where the house sits, is 873 feet above sea level.  Few people are willing to scale that hill in back!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

our land, as seen from the sky

This is GoogleEarth's view of my home.  You can see the curve of the railroad track at the back of our place.  See those three "fingers" of land reaching into the woods?  Cliff and I walk down and back on every one of those, every day.  It isn't on this outdated map, but my cabin sits on that middle "finger".  The finger on the left goes to the western edge of our property, where Marvin's land joins ours.  The finger on the right goes to the eastern edge of our property.  So you can see, our place is narrow and long.

an hour at the cabin

Sadie knows the word "cabin", just like Mandy did, and was anxious to go when I mentioned it.  But it's 90 degrees, and so hot and still back there, we didn't stay long.  I don't throw the frisbee very straight, and lost one in the brush when it veered off to the left.  I'll probably find it next winter when the leaves are off the trees.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monday Photo Shoot

John Scalzi has given his Monday assignment, and I'm giving it a try.

"Your Monday Photo Shoot: Find an interesting pattern or texture somewhere in your home. Take a picture of it."

Technically it isn't in my home, but I consider all our 43 acres as my home, so here's my entry:

Probably not too hard for you to guess, eh?

The "textures and patterns" photo is simply a closeup of Blue's hair.  That's him, at the back of the herd, grazing; I found the horses happily munching today, with those lovely clouds in the background.  I couldn't resist taking a picture. 

  Cliff and I take our walk through that part of the pasture each morning.  I realize how blessed I am to be able to see this kind of beauty around me any time.

Oh, my tongue!!!

Cliff loves pineapple so much that when we're at Sam's Club, we buy a case of Dole chunk pineapple in its own juice.  Dole is noticeably better than the off-brands, which is why we buy it.

Yesterday at Sam's, Cliff noticed fresh pineapples in the produce section, and one of them followed us home.  At dinner today (dinner is our noon meal, by the way) we had that pineapple for dessert, after my looking up the directions for peeling it.  We each took half, and it was scrumptious.  (Okay, okay... I know that's a lot.  But according to, a whole fruit is only 227 calories.)

As I ate, I noticed a peculiar sensation on my tongue, and asked Cliff if his tongue felt funny.  "A little," he said.

The more pineapple I ate, the worse the sensation got.  You could call it somewhat painful, in fact.

I went to Google and typed in the words "pineapple" and "tongue", and solved the mystery.

"Pineapples are delicious, and they're good for you, too. They are a good source of fiber, manganese (a mineral which aids digestion), and bromelain (a group of anti-inflammatory enzymes). I wouldn't worry too much about the tingling you feel in your tongue when you eat pineapples. It probably means you have a mild allergy to bromelain. Some people develop a rash and/or itching in response to the enzyme."

For the whole article, read HERE.

I'll be eating my pineapple from a  can, from now on.


I can't read any journals other than my own, unless I go to Internet Explorer to read them.  I read one of Helen's entries, and I see she is having the same problem.  Come on, AOL, fix this problem!

Oh, this is great

One of the journals I enjoy reading is "Patrick's Place".  He used to be a J-Land blogger, but left when AOL started putting the ads at the tops of our blogs.  Patrick makes me re-think my opinions sometimes; he has the ability to clearly explain why he holds this or that belief, and even if I don't agree with him when I'm done reading, at least I'm then able to look at things from a different perspective.

Today he shared a story he'd read that is quite thought-provoking.  It applies not only to the business world, but to communities, families, and churches.  Check it out HERE.

Monday, June 26, 2006

doctors and aging

Used to be, Cliff and  I wouldn't either one see a doctor once a year.  After we hit fifty, our trips to the clinic increased, but it was usually for something simple:  menopause, in my case, and blood pressure meds for Cliff.  Or the occasional sore throat, or sinus infection.

When I was younger, I did have some recurring cystitis problems, but for some reason that ended thirty years ago.  Until last week, when bladder infection reared its ugly head again.

It's always been an easily treated problem, and after only one day on the meds, I felt much better.  Of course I continued all three days of my prescription.

So today I went back to the doctor to get the all-clear.  Only I didn't get it.  What I got was an appointment with a urologist.

Gee, Cliff went to the doctor for heartburn, and ended up having bypass surgery.  I went for simple cystitis, and here I go to a specialist.

Getting old isn't for sissies. 

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Are you ready for a commercial?

I love Circuit City!

First of all, they give free shipping on any order over $25, when you order on line.  Since I don't drive, I appreciate this little perk.  I get most of my printer ink cartridges from them, by mail. 

I love reading the reviews of products on their website, too, so I can get an idea of what customers think about the product I'm thinking of buying.

Back around Christmas, our DVD/VCR player quit working, although it wasn't all that old.  Circuit City had a good buy on one, so I ordered a replacement.  I unhooked the old one, put the new one in its place, and then decided to give the old one just one more chance:  sure enough, the older one worked fine (probably another one of those famous "operator errors").  I boxed up the new one and, next time we went to the city, I returned it to the store with no problem, and no restocking fee, although a sign on the wall led me to believe there should be one.

If you've followed my journal recently, you saw that I bought a laptop, brought it home, and had problems with it.  I took it back to Circuit City, told them it didn't work, and chose another model.  I later found out the problem was with me (operator error again), not the computer.  But those folks had let me exchange it with no questions asked.

Well, I figured my laptop was in need of a case, since we'll have it in the car quite a bit, using our GPS.  Checking Circuit City online, I found an excellent buy on a case.  The price was $52, but there were two rebates that went with it, taking $30 off the price.  Wow, now that's reasonable.

I received the package, and was totally happy with my laptop case.  Then I read the instructions for getting my rebates.  I needed a copy of the UPC barcodes, which I had, and a copy of the e-mail confirmation to send with each rebate request. 


I didn't save my e-mail confirmation, which serves as the receipt for online purchases.

On the box my product came in was an 800 number to call.  I think someone in India answered, and I did struggle a bit to understand him at times, but by george, he talked me through the Circuit City website to a place where I could get copies of the e-mail I'd lost; and also helped me find where to print off my rebate forms.

It's almost like the old days.  You know, back when "the customer was always right"... even when he wasn't.

Circuit City has a customer for life, here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A night in the cabin

This is only the third night I've spent back at the cabin this whole year.  Cliff's gone, and I didn't have to worry about being here for the granddaughters this morning, since it's the weekend.  So I grabbed my opportunity.

As always, it was most pleasant.

I talked to Cliff, and he found out they're staying at the car show one more day.  He seemed disappointed, and I said, "You sound like you're ready to come home."

"I AM!!!" was his answer.

Well, if he's going to be gone another night, Sadie and I may stay at the cabin again.  We'll see.

I had planned to have my coffee at the cabin this morning, but the stove back there has a problem.  That's why I returned to the house so early.

Friday, June 23, 2006

So THIS is where Cliff is

When Cliff called tonight, I asked him the name of the car show he's attending, and Googled it.  It's "Back To The Fifties Weekend.", if you want to check out the website.  Cliff says he's met lots of nice folks, and has seen unbelievably beautiful cars.

On another note, the results of Cliff's recent bloodwork arrived in the mail today:  Total cholesterol, 107 (desirable is less that 200); HDL, 40 (desirable is over 44, but he's close); LDL, 50 (desirable is less than 70); Triglycerides, 84 (50 - 150 desirable).

The doctor himself wrote, at the bottom of the page, "These #'s look good!  Stay on Lipitor 40 and repeat, 1 yr."

I'm doing a happy dance here, and Cliff is doing one in Minnesota, I'm sure.

About having Cliff around all the time

I've heard so many women, throughout my life, talk about how their husbands, after they have retired, get on their nerves.  So I've often wondered if that's how it would be with me.

I've had a ten-week sample of what Cliff's retirement will be like, and I'm relieved to know that my hunch was right:  He doesn't get on my nerves at all when he's home all the time. 

He's not a person to sit idly in the house, so I really never figured we'd have a problem.  He spends most of his waking hours either doing necessary chores around our 43 acres, such as pasture-mowing or fence-mending, or else in his beloved shop, creating and inventing, and doing upkeep on his fleet of tractors, our two vehicles, and the garden tractors and lawn mowers.

Now, I'll admit I've been heard to say, during the course of these ten weeks of his recuperation, "He's driving me CRAZY!"

That was when he was doing things against doctor's orders, and I was afraid he'd do damage to himself.  But that's the only way he's gotten on my nerves at all.  And I've pretty much ceased to worry about his doing too much, at this point.  He's learned to pace himself, and sit down and rest when he needs to.

I've had a little preview of Cliff's retirement, and I can now say, truthfully, that I'm looking forward to it.

I think I've mentioned it before, but this whole thing has made me very thankful for Cliff's good job, and for his insurance.  He hasn't missed a single paycheck; his usual weekly amount is direct-deposited to our checking account every Friday morning, just like when he was working.  His employer switched insurance plans recently, and I was nervous about how much we'd owe when all was said and done.  But things were taken care of quite nicely, and we'll be able to pay our part of the bills off in a few weeks.

Indeed, we are blessed.

When the cat's away...

During the creation and editing of this entry, only the third picture shows up; we'll see what happens when I actually click "save".  If you only see red "X's" on two pictures, it's an AOL problem of some sort, no doubt.

Wednesday morning, Cliff went off on a road trip with his brother in his classic car.  Somewhere in Minnesota there's a huge car show, and that's where they are now.  Tomorrow they'll arrive home... I hope.  They've been working on the car in the motel parking lot, with the help of some other classic-car owners. 

It's been strange, after having Cliff so close at hand for ten weeks (yes, it's been that long since his surgery), not seeing him for days.  This is probably good for both of us, but it feels uncomfortable, having him away. 

He's found out there's not much way to eat heart-healthy, low-sodium stuff when you're eating out; the best thing he can do is limit his intake in general, and he's trying to do that, he told me on the phone last night.  At least he took plenty of good stuff in a cooler, for snacks.

Meanwhile, I've been eating junk while he's away.  Not snacking between meals, mind you.  Just eating the stuff I usually don't.  Popcorn for supper, grilled cheese sandwiches... oh, and the granddaughters and I had biscuits and gravy this morning for breakfast.  It's a good thing I don't drive, or I'd  be going to Pizza Hut's noon buffet.  I'll be very surprised if I show a weight loss this week.

We got over an inch of rain yesterday, for which I'm very grateful.  Our Dish-TV dish has been installed, so we now have wonderful reception (and yes, Joanna, Grissom does look even better).  I can call the rinky-dink cable company July 7, when our contract is up, and be rid of them.  From now on, I'll pay for TV, phone, and Internet as one bill, at Sprint.  We've had both Direct TV and Dish before, and I realize there's the drawback of losing television during storms.  It's worth it to have a sharp, clear picture. 

That's about all the odds and ends I have today.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Here's a little exercise I got from Toonguy and Robin

1-What do you want people to say about you when you die?:  "I miss her"
2-How long does it take you to get ready to go out?:  about ten minutes
3-If you were an animal what would you be?:  a cow, with nothing to do but eat, have babies, and chew my cud.
4-What's your biggest fear?:  dying a long, lingering, painful death from cancer.
5-What’s your most prized possesion?:  My horse, if animals count as a possession.
6-What’s the funniest word you can think of:?  right now I can't think of a single word that's funny.
7-Do you get along with your parents?:  they've both passed on; when they were living, I pretty much always got along with my dad; my mom and I often clashed.
8-What do you look for in the opposite sex?:  kindness (I know, that's not very sexy, but it's an honest answer)
9-What was the most difficult thing you had to do?:  I haven't had many difficult things to do, which is pretty good, considering I'm almost 62.  I'm thinking of one thing from twenty-two years ago, but would rather not talk about it in a public journal.
10-If you were given one day to live what would you do?:  Ride my horse down by the river and then spend the rest of the day with my husband.
11-If you could relive any day of your life either for good or to change it what would it be?:  I believe even bad days work out for good in the grand scheme of things, so I wouldn't change anything.
12-What's the worst feeling in the world?: loneliness
The best?: knowing you are loved
13-If you could meet anyone who ever existed who would it be? why?:  Jesus, in the flesh (I've met him in the spirit already); I have some questions for him.
14-What was the meanest thing you ever did as a little kid?:  I swung a kitten around and around by its tail... more than once.  Every time I think of this, I worry about myself.
15-What have you learned about love?:  Even a loner like myself needs it.
16-How have you changed in the past year?: I've lost 40 pounds, and since Cliff's heart bypass I've come to appreciate him more.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Another story that is with me every day

I read this in either Ann Landers or Dear Abby, also.  And in Guideposts.  But it's stayed with me ever since:


A young man was out on his manhood quest one fall day, trying to decide what task he would under take to prove his manhood, when he came upon a tall mountain, topped with the first snow of the year.

"This will be my test," thinks the young man to himself as he started to climb.

The climb was hard and long, but the young man completed his task. Then as he rested on top of the mountain he heard a soft voice... "Help me," it said.

The young man looked for the voice, and there he found a rattlesnake dying in the snow. The snake pleaded with the young man to save him from the
cold, but the young man said "No, mister snake, for if I pick you up you'll bite me and I'll be the one that dies".

"No No," said the snake.  "I shall not harm the one that is to save me. If I do, surely I shall die in this

The young man gave this some thought and decided to help the snake, so he picked up the snake put him in his shirt and started his long climb down the mountain.

When they reached the valley below, the young man removed the snake from his shirt and placed it gently on the ground; then the snake struck and bit the man.

"Why did you bite me?" pleaded the man.

The snake just looked at him and said, "You knew what I was when you picked me up!"

Whether it's a monkey on your back or a spouse with whom you are having problems, or even a child who isn't quite living up to your ideals... this holds true.

It's like the lyrics of the George Jones song...

"... living and dying with the choices I've made."

You chose to pick up the snake.  Don't blame anyone else.

Truly, it was YOUR choice.

After a while

I first read this either in Dear Abby or Ann Landers, back when our daughter was still living at home with us (twenty years ago or more?).  It has always touched my soul.

After A While
by Veronica A. Shoffstall

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good grief, is this post #4 for today????

I've had cable Internet for a few years now, and they offered a deal I couldn't refuse last year...  if I'd sign up for TV and Internet both, and if I agreed to a full year with them (or be penalized for leaving early).  So we left our Direct TV satellite dish and went to cable for our TV, as well as Internet.

Folks, you can't imagine how terrible our TV reception is with Cebridge.  Especially the local channels.  Still, I loved my cable Internet, so I got by.

Then Sprint became a contender:  They said they'd give us DSL and telephone and Dish satellite TV, and send one combined bill each month for all three.  The cost for all this was about the same as our lousy Cebridge connection (which, as yet, doesn't offer digital TV to this area... can you say "the stone age?") 

My year is almost up with Cebridge, and I'm wired with Sprint.  Thursday our dish will be installed, and we can start enjoying our new digital TV as it ought to be enjoyed.


Colorado keeps calling me

Cliff hopes to talk the doctor into letting him go back to work around the first of August.  Truthfully, he'd be better off at work, and wouldn't be working nearly as hard as he is at home.  For instance, he's spent this whole forenoon twenty feet high on a ladder, painting the barn.  In the hot sun.

Anyway, we'd like to take a vacation in July, while he's off with full pay.  The granddaughters will be with their other grandma, so we won't be so tied down.

I want to see Montana, I really do.  But every time I look at costs, Colorado whispers in my ear.  From what I've found, lodging near Glacier National Park is at least twice the cost of my favorite section of Colorado, which is Salida, in the banana belt very near the 14ers.   That area isn't terribly crowded, like some parts of the state. 

It's 824 miles to Salida, compared to 1,670 miles to Glacier National Park.  With the high price of gas, that's a factor.

Taking the pop-up camper would make either trip considerably cheaper.  But I want more than canvas and screen surrounding me in bear country.  I cook in the camper, after all; and if Smoky the bear should come sniffing around, the smell of food might be more than he could resist. 

We'll see how much our budget can stand, when the time comes.  But if I were placing bets, I'd say it'll be Colorado.

fair games

Saturday morning at our little town fair, there are lots of games for kids and adults.  Tickets for the rides are given as prizes to the winners. 

Oh, I didn't get a picture of it, but Monica won the pickle-eating contest.  Ewwww.

Sadie wants to play

Every morning I go through this routine with Sadie:  She wants to play, and it's 6 AM.  She knows I'm eventually going to take her out to play Frisbee (that takes the edge off her energy, so I can handle her for our walk later).  But since the Frisbees are out of her reach, as a gentle hint that she needs to fetch something, she'll find a piece of a Chew-eze and lay it on my lap.  I'm supposed to stop what I'm doing and throw it.  Sometimes, though, I don't want to.  So she tries to make me feel guilty.  Who can resist that face?

Yes, I did go play Frisbee with her for about 10 minutes.


Monday, June 19, 2006

No cows on the place

In another entry I told of our attempt to load up two cows and a calf to go to the livestock auction last Monday.  We got the pregnant cow loaded, but the cow with a calf by her side was suspicious, and would go nowhere near the loading area.  So we took the cow we had in the trailor, although we hated to make two forty-five-mile, one-way trips in our ten-miles-per-gallon pickup, when one trip would have sufficed.  But you do what you must, and a bird (or cow) in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Ever since, we'd been buttering up the remaining cow, giving her grain and hay... each day giving it to her just a little closer to the loading area.  Yesterday Cliff saw his chance, and got her and her calf loaded a day earlier than planned.  So we made the trip to the salebarn once again. 

We'll likely have a cow or two again someday.  I still want a Jersey heifer calf to raise.  But if we go with beef cows, they will NOT have Limousin blood in them.  These ladies were 1/4 Angus, 1/4 Shorthorn, and 1/2 Limousin; and I believe the latter part of their genetic makeup was what made them so dangerous when cornered, and so untrusting.

Having milked cows for many years in the past, I like cattle you can pet and hand-feed and spoil.  We had a Brown-Swiss/Holstien cross cow once named Koko who, when she bloated, stood passively as Cliff put a tube down her throat to get rid of the gas... with no restraints on her at all, except for a halter which I was holding loosely.  Now that's trust! 

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My printer is working now

I tried to get my Canon S330 printer working a few times yesterday, with no luck.  Not even with the installation disk.

So my daughter was here today, and when I mentioned it still wasn't printing, she looked interested:  I told her to feel free to mess with it, if she so desired.

Now, when Rachel tackles computer problems, she has the tenacity of a bulldog; she doesn't want to call technical support, and she doesn't want to lose.  She checked connections and tried to install the printer in different ways.  No luck.  An hour later she was still at the computer, using Google.  "Ah-HA," she exclaimed.  "It says here there are issues between Canon S330 and Windows XP!"

Well, big whoop.  Besides, my last computer had Windows XP, and the printer worked.  Still sounds to me like I'll be buying a new printer.  Oh well, they're pretty cheap.

Pretty soon I heard my printer making noises as though it was working, so I turned to see what was going on.  Hey, it was printing!

"What did you do?"

"I went online and got the drivers for it."

Amazing.  And it didn't cost me a cent.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Father's Day, part 2

So, since it's Father's day, I think I should put in a word for Cliff.  We married, and he told me he'd raised all the kids he wanted to, already (he had been the oldest kid at home, and was often pressed into service to babysit his younger siblings).

I won't tell you how it happened, but I sorta tricked him into becoming a daddy the first time.  And our baby boy cried constantly.  Just when I felt like I couldn't take another minute of the noise, Cliff would fire up my dad's garden tractor (we own that Sears lawn tractor now, thanks to my lovely sister) and he'd haul Jimmy around on it until he went to sleep.

And when that baby became a toddler, if we needed something from town (I never drove) Cliff would take baby Jimmy along, asking him, "Do you want to go to the store, Bunky?"

Jimmy would say, "Tor Bunky?" and climb into the pickup.  Boy, I appreciated the break so much.

Cliff didn't want kids when we married.  But he sure did love the ones he fathered.  He still talks about how good it felt when our little girl hugged him, and patted his shoulder... at the age of six months.

Happy Father's Day, Love of my Life.  I'm so glad I still have you with me.

Father's Day

My daddy wasn't perfect; he'd be the first to tell you that.  But I remember sitting on his lap while he read the Sunday comics to me, and I loved it:  I must have been five years old or younger, because after that I could read for myself.

I remember how my Daddy thought all my jokes were funny.

I recall a time when I had an appointment at the beauty shop.  I walked there from school, and Mom picked me up, and when we got home, Daddy was crying because I hadn't come home on the school bus.  Mother forgot to tell him about the appointment, so he thought I'd been kidnapped.

Daddy had a temper.  He really didn't care what folks thought of him.  And "stuff" didn't matter much to him.  I didn't inherit the temper, but I got lots of the other traits from him.  Ask Cliff.

Nope, my father wasn't perfect.  But he thought I was the greatest.  He loved his other two kids, too.  He was just right for me.

Patrick's Saturday Six



What vegetable can you not get enough of? Baked sweet potatoes!

What vegetable that you've actually tried cooking do you hate, no matter what is done to it?   Hard as I try, I can't think of a single vegetable I hate.

2. Have you ever given your father one of those tacky flashing ties as a Father's Day gift? No  What's the "worst" gift you've ever given your dad?  My dad wasn't gift oriented, and I don't remember

3. When is the last time you donated clothes to a charity drive? We took a trunk-full of stuff to the "clothes closet" about two weeks ago.  If you had to guess, what percentage of the clothes in your closet right now no longer fit?  I just got rid of the stuff that doesn't fit, so I'd say 0%

4. Take the quiz:
Where should you spend your summer vacation? 

You Should Spend Your Summer in the Mountains
You're quiet, introspective, and a great thinker.
You need a summer vacation that gets you away from the crowds and the heat.
So retreat to the mountains, where you can clear your head.

5. If you could spend one week anywhere in the world or two weeks at home relaxing, which would you choose?  I relax at home a lot, so I'd choose London, England.  Or maybe Washington, DC.

6. Do you tend to be more of a morning person or a night owl? If you could, would you become the opposite?  Morning person all the way.  I wouldn't change it, but I DO wish I could sleep past 3 AM.

If you'd enjoy playing along, make your entry and then leave the link at Patrick's Saturday Six.

I'm all set now!

After using a laptop for over a week, this regular monitor seems HUGE.  I am up and going with the new desktop, anxious to find out if my grandson's friend can really save all my pictures and documents from the old computer to this one.  The only little problem I'm having so far with this new setup is that it won't recognize my printer, even with the installation disc.  I may have to get a new printer; we shall see.

Someone asked, in my Branson entries comment section, didn't I have a laptop I could use on the road for journaling?  Well, in a motel I could.  But I don't have Internet in our popup camper.  The laptop will be going places with us, though, because of the GPS system.

Cliff decided it would be simpler around here to get rid of the two cows and stick with horses, so last Monday we corralled them in the lot and tried to load them.  The one who's already had her calf, though, refused to be cornered and, in fact, didn't even come close to that area for days.  So we took the one pregnant cow we had on the trailer.  She was only 50 pounds short of weighing a ton!  Now, that's a big cow.  We think we have the other cow set up to load this coming Monday; we've been treating her with sweet feed in a trough, and will move the trough closer to the corner we load from.  Wish us luck.  I've never been fond of these ornery cows, so it doesn't bother me to see them go.  The one that's still here knocked me down last year, and I haven't forgiven her.

Cliff spent most of the day waxing his motorcycle; I guess he figures if he can't ride it, at least he can keep it looking pretty.

Friday, June 16, 2006

These boys do more than haul hay

So, our little town decided to have the fair in June instead of October. 

The fourteen-year-old twins next door, Travis and Tyler, the very ones who have helped Cliff haul hay for three years now... the ones who can get on a tractor with a trailor attached and back it into a barn without a problem... the boys who can tear down a motor and rebuild it... are musicians!

Years ago, I sang with their dad and his sister for fun, when they were teenagers.  One year we even sang at the fair.

Their dad still sings, every chance he gets.  He plays a mean keyboard, and obviously the family talent goes on and on, because the boys amazed me tonight.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Around the countryside

I hate that I couldn't get that sunrise shot without the light poles in it, but by the time I got to a better location, the colors had dimmed until it wasn't spectacular any more.

Looks like we'll be baling the pathetic little batch of hay this evening.  With no rain, alfalfa doesn't grow much.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy anniversary to us

So, how did we fare on our diets while in Branson?  Click HERE to find out.

Today is mine and Cliff's 40th anniversary.  I would have forgotten entirely about it, I think, had our son-in-law not mentioned it a couple of days ago.  We're not much to make a big deal out of holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries.  I used to use this as a good excuse to eat out, but we've had a little too much eating out the past few days.  We got a really cute card from our daughter (yes Russ, it was Hallmark).

I will say that 40 years sure goes fast.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Adventures of this day

Cliff had to go to a lab to have blood work done, and we'd never been there before.  So we decided to try out the GPS system we bought for the laptop.  It worked great!  Because of a traffic jam, we had to get off our route, and a lady's voice kept telling us to turn around and go back to the freeway.  Once we got near our alternate road, the system adjusted and told us how to get to our destination the back way.  We were amazed!

While we were in Branson, Cliff noticed one of our tires was looking pretty bad, so we decided to go to Sears and tire-shop.  We went in at 9:30, when the doors opened; within fifteen minutes, we had our tires picked out.  Cliff asked if it would take long, and the lady, looking around at her empty department said, "No, there's nobody else here."  I noticed a sign that said "One-hour installation".  Sounds good.

We window-shopped in Sears for awhile, then I suggested we take our half-hour walk in the mall.  Cliff agreed that was a great idea, and by the time we finished our walk, the car would no doubt be ready.

Yeah, right.

Nobody was even near the car when we returned.  By now there were other customers waiting, and I noticed other vehicles were being worked on while ours sat on the rack.  Another hour went by, and we struck up a conversation with a man in the waiting room.  He said last week he'd sat waiting for four hours while they got around to putting his new tires on.  I asked the lady about the one-hour thing; she said that doesn't count aligning the tires. 

About this time I remembered I had my camera, and of course I just KNEW my readers would like to hear my rant about Sears.

We finally got out of there at noon, exactly.  Two and one-half hours.  If you're in the Kansas City area, I suggest you not get your tires at Sears, unless you like waiting around for hours.

Our daughter got some freebie lights for Cliff the other day, and he needed fluorescent bulbs for them.  So we made a quick trip into Sam's Club.  Check the picture to see how we got an eight-foot-long box into a Grand Marquis.


Monday, June 12, 2006

The Branson Landing

When Cliff and I were first married, and then when our two children were babies, we'd go to Branson and stay at the Branson City Campground.  It was cheap, and right there in town, convenient to everything... although there weren't nearly as many attractions back then.  Silver Dollar City was just being built up around Marvel Cave, and I think there were only two music shows.  One of them, the Baldknobbers, even had their show in a building right at the edge of the park

Cliff and I had heard about the Branson Landing; in fact, when we were there in November on the motorcycle, we were going to go check out the construction, but they were keeping the general public away.  We couldn't get near it.

Now, many stores there are open for business.  There'll be a riverwalk type place where you can stroll along the lake shore, and at night there'll be light shows.  I know this will be great for Branson, but it really doesn't appeal to me much.  I'm not a shopper, especially not in trendy stores where the sales people look down their noses at me (or it feels like they do).

I liked it better when you could set up a tent on that spot and fish at the waters edge.


Noplace like home

We were on the road as soon as the granddaughters got on the school bus Friday, and in Branson by noon.  Heading into the tourist mecca, we saw a "tourist information" sign, and because I wanted to get one of the free magazines that abound in that area (they contain dollars-off coupons for various shows and attractions), we stopped in at the first one we saw.

Bad mistake; they were pushing time-shares:  You listen to a sales pitch for a couple of hours and get $25 tickets for $5.  Now, I'd do it, myself.  We had a really cheap Branson vacation a couple of years ago by doing this.  We got practically free tickets to two shows, and they handed us a nice, crisp $100 bill at the end of the pitch.

Cliff, however, would rather spend his own money than listen to hours of hard-sell salesmen making a pitch.  If you tell the first guy you aren't interested, they send you to the boss, who offers you a secret "better deal".  Yeah, right.  I'm going to invest $100,000 in something that will never actually belong to me.

The time wasn't totally wasted, although when I asked for the coupon book, the girl said, "They don't do that any more; everybody got tired of all the coupons."  (Needless to say, once I stopped in at the right place, I got my coupon book.)  Anyway, she  said she could sell us the Baldknobber tickets we were interested in.  Not at a discount though.  But it would get us on the sixth row.  So we bought tickets for Saturday night. 

The Showboat Branson Belle is right next to the state park where we set up our camper, so we opted to do the cruise at 4 PM Friday. 

The food was great.  The cruise itself got somewhat ruined, though.  We'd no more that set off from the dock and hadn't evenfinished our salads  when Cliff said, "It looks like we're making a sharp turn and going back."

Turns out a lady with one of the tour groups had gotten sick, and we had to dock, wait for the ambulance to pick her up, then wait for the boat physician to re-boardafter the lady was safely heading to the hospital.  There's a half-hour or so of time between the meal and showtime when you can stroll the decks and enjoy the cruise around Table Rock Lake.  Most of this time, in our case, was spent at the dock, rather than cruising.  Oh, we made a brief little foray in a circle around a tiny island, but that lasted only a few minutes before we heard the announcement that the show was about to begin.

The show was enjoyable, although the songs weren't our kind of music.  Todd Oliver and his talking dogs were pretty funny, but since Cliff's hearing isn't the best, even with a hearing aid, he missed a lot of the jokes. 

I won't even try to describe their act, but there was a Russian couple that did a breathtaking show on  the little stage.

I'm sorry that we were docked on most of our riverboat cruise, but that was simply a twist of fate that wouldn't likely happen next time.  Would I recommend the Showboat to others?  Yes, if you enjoy show tunes and great food, it's probably worth the money.  It isn't something we'd do again, though.  I'd take the same amount of money and go see the Dixie Stampede!

Friday, June 9, 2006

See ya later

It's going to be just a short vacation, and high temperatures are forecast to be in the 90's.  But I'm rarin' to go, with camera in hand.  I'll try to take lots of pictures so I can share our visit to Branson with all of you.  I'm even taking the tripod, so I can take shots of Cliff and me together, lounging around the campsite.

See you soon!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Rest in peace, old Dell computer

I got the word tonight that it would be cheaper to buy a new computer than to fix my old one.  That's the bad news.

Here's the good news:  All the stuff that's on my old computer's hard drive can be transferred to the new one I just ordered from Dell, once I receive it.  And I got a great deal: $400 instantly off, and free shipping.  That special deal is no longer offered on the Dell website, but I had put it in my shopping cart a week or more ago, just in case, and when I ordered it tonight, they let me have the deal!

As I mentioned before, the old desktop is 3 1/2 years old, which is fairly old in computer years.  Especially considering it operates in bad conditions in summer.  Lots of dust and no air conditioning.  And gets heavily used.

So, that's the scoop.

Sometimes my journal friends make my day

I got to thinking about Cliff's open heart surgery, which was seven weeks ago today, and went back to read entries I made during that time.  Reading all those kind words of support my readers left just bowled me over.  I don't know if I was so stressed I didn't read them all at the time (or they didn't sink in), or if perhaps some comments were made at a later time; but there were several there I don't remember ever seeing.

Go here to see the most comments I received on any entry:  the words of support there are unbelievable, many from people who had been through the same thing.  Then as I was looking at the comments on this entry, I saw a peculiar screen name I'd never seen, and the person signed his comment by saying, "this is Brian".  I tried to think which Brian it might be, since I know a few of them.  Studying the screen name again, I realized what it meant, and knew it was my nephew's son.  I hadn't seen that comment before; I'm sure glad I went back and read them.  

You folks are the greatest.   

Branson, here we come!

We decided it's time for a weekend vacation, so I'm getting ready to go to Branson.  I've reserved a camping spot at Table Rock State Park for two nights.  The camper hasn't been used since the Missouri State Fair last year, and probably would have been sitting idle all this year if not for Cliff's heart surgery... because we'd have been going everywhere on the motorcycle. 

We want to go on the Showboat Branson Bell dinner cruise, for sure.  Except for the meal there, I'll be cooking healthy stuff in the camper.  It's supposed to be hot,  so we might take in one of the IMAX movies in the heat of the day Saturday.

I know we should see different music shows that we've never attended, but we love Moe Bandy and Mickey Gilley so much, it's hard to stay away from their places.  Cliff and I are stuck in the 60's, 70's, and 80's, when it comes to country music.  You know, the redneck honky-tonk drinkin'-and-cheatin' songs.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

rhymes and hotties

I think I've mentioned in this journal my recent discovery of "CSI"...  The reruns of the original. 

 Joanna came all the way from Virginia to get me hooked on this show I'd never watched before, which led to my developing a huge crush on Grissom.  I now watch two hours of CSI every evening, on Spike.

I had been skipping my "daily poem" lately, and some of my fans mentioned this.  So I forced myself to write the following rhyme:

I’ll try to write a poem, since I’m in the house alone;
I’d better do it quickly, for the girls will soon be home.
I’ve rhymed all my adventures as a grandma and a wife:
There’s not that much excitement in my silly little life.
I’ve written verse on every subject I can talk about:
I’ve rhymed some prayers for rain, when we were going through a drought;
I’ve done some several poems on my husband and my pets
(And most of them were feeble works I’d just as soon forget).
And yet, I do have readers, and some say they miss my rhymes,
So I’ll attempt to make some poems about my life and times.
I’ll try to look around me and see different things each day,
So when I write a poem, I’ll have something new to say.
And now, my gentle readers, it is time for a confession...
Here's a major reason that I miss my rhyming session:
The time when once I wrote my poems (I cannot deny)
Is now spent watching Grissom gather clues on CSI.

It was a pitiful attempt, but that last verse is true.  If it weren't for CSI, I'd probably sit at my computer and write one of my mediocre poems every night.  Anyhow, guilt took over, and I jump-started myself with that poem.  Then I received the following poem from one of my readers in California.  She's also a long-time chat friend.

Donna's Poems
I've read them all and saved a few
Her life is fascinating
To a woman such as I
Who'd soon be abdicating
City life all crowded in
And find my farm life waiting,
But now I know that I can see
Just what that farm wife's waiting
With joy to watch; her favorite boy,
Who criminals berating,
Calms all our fears, (and such cute ears)!
With DNA debating.
I like to read of farm and Blue
But nowI am equating
Those cows and corn and maters,too,
With Hunk who's so elating.
I forget the farm so soon.
For CSI's fine rating.

Now, Cliff was already having fun with Grissom, pointing out how bow-legged he is (I said, "Yeah, Cliff... he rides a BIG horse."  (Of course everybody knows real cowboys are bow-legged from riding horses all day.)

Now that he's read Colleen's poem, he calls my hunk "squirrel ears".

We sure have fun around here.

Pictures from today's ride

I left at 5:15 this morning, got home at 7:20.  That's about all the riding my knees wanted to do.

I just realized that first picture is the perfect entry for this weeks Monday Photo Shoot... a picture of anything starting with the letter "M".  How about MORNING in MISSOURI?  That's two M's.

Wait a minute... there's the Big MUDDY, the MISSOURI River.

All that in one photo.

about air conditioning and Cliff's heart

We do have a window unit air conditioner in our bedroom.  Cliff and I just put it in the window this morning.  And we're looking at a larger one for the kitchen-living room.

However, keep in mind that Cliff's hottest hours are from 3:30 to midnight, at work.  In summer, temperatures are in the 90's inside that building.  So home is the least of his worries.  In fact, AC at home could perhaps make him even more vulnerable to the heat at work, because he wouldn't be used to it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

about the previous entry

Folks, believe this:  No way will Cliff go to work without the doctor's approval; the place where he works won't allow him back without an all-clear from the physician.  So if you thought he was going to sneak back without the doctor saying he can, that isn't going to happen.

Now, about the heat.  Cliff said today that he likes to spend money too much to try and live on social security just yet.  He said that in answer to my suggesting he take disabled social security.      We'll have virtually no other retirement money coming in except social security, so it would clip our wings quite a bit if he had no job.  Cliff does have a 401K plan, but he only started with that about 10 years ago.  It'll soon be enough to pay off our place if we had to, or buy a brand new car (that isn't what we'd get though); not much retirement security.  We'd also miss the wonderful insurance and other benefits he gets from his job... like the way he's drawing full pay right now while he's off work.

It's his decision, his risk.  The doctor said the main danger of heat is that Cliff might pass out.  Now, we've already had several days here in the 90's with no A/C.  Cliff took it easy and made it just fine.  They've been doing open heart surgery since the 1950's, and most folks I knew back then didn't even have A/C. 

I believe God will guide us and show us what's best, and I'll trust Him to help Cliff make the right decision.

Remember the old hymn?  "Be not dismayed whate'er betide; God will take care of you.  Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you."

Cliff's visit to the cardiologist

The cardiologist seemed totally pleased with Cliff's progress.  That's the good news.

Here's the not-so-good news:  Cliff's next visit there is December 21.  They're calling this a six-month checkup, but six months would have been October 24.  Just like today was the one-month checkup, even though it's been seven weeks.

Anyhow... this would mean Cliff won't be going back to work until after December 21. 

It could be worse:  He draws 100% pay for three months (till the end of July), then it drops to 80%; I'm not sure how long that lasts.  We can manage pretty well on that amount, considering I'll soon be drawing my little bit of social security money; I'll get my first allotment in mid-September.

But Cliff isn't real happy about being off work that long.  He's thinking of waiting until the end of July, then seeing if the doctor would approve him to go back to work if he lets somebody else lift the dies to his machine.  His job is not physically demanding at all, except for the occasional lifting, a few times a night.

Heat is a concern at work, too:  the doctor acted like Cliff should retire rather than risk the 90+ degree temperatures at work in summertime.  Cliff figures he'll be fine, and really, I do too.  Sometimes we just don't have all the choices we'd like.

All in all, the news IS good.  Cliff's doing great, feeling better every day, and can now lift 20 pounds rather than 5.  The 20-pound limit stays in force until six months after surgery.

I'm just glad to have him here.

conversation between my daughter and her girls

My daughter related this to me, and I figured my readers might enjoy it.

This morning she and the girls were having toast; Natalie asked her, "Couldn't you butter the bread first, then toast it?"

"No," Rachel told her.  "That could start a fire and burn our house down; then we'd have noplace to live."

"We could live with Grandma," Nattie suggested.

"No," Rachel said.  "Me and Mom get along fine, but we wouldn't if we lived together."

"I noticed you and Grandma don't talk much."

"We get along fine," Rachel answered.  "I mean, if she's on the computer I try not to bother her."

"Why?"  asked Monica.

Then Natalie came up with this jewel:  "You mean just like you don't bother a dog when it's eating?"

Geesh, I didn't know I was THAT bad.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Hop Clover

Throughout our married lives, Cliff and I have called this plant lespedeza, a legume that more or less grows wild in native pastures hereabouts.  Because there is a variety of lespedeza that is considered a pest (sericea lespedeza) I did some googling to make sure that wasn't what we have here.  In all that surfing, I learned that all the lespedezas have purple flowers.  So, what on earth is this stuff growing like crazy out on the point?

I asked a question on my favorite message board, Country Living, and quickly got my answer.  It's hop clover.  It grows in dry, infertile places.  But at least it's good for cows and horses.

An old country store

You'd never know it now, but thirty-one years ago, when we moved here, this was a little country store/gas station.  It's a mile down the road from us.  An old fellow owned it, and kept a few staple items in stock.  Seems like only yesterday. 

Wow, things like this make me feel old!

All around the countryside

Since Cliff gets up early with me while he's off work, he's able to be here with the granddaughters until they head off to school.  That frees me up for early-morning riding.  I left the barn at 6:15, and got back at 7:45 to find the girls outside, waiting for the school bus.  I put Blue in the stall with a bite of feed and Cliff and I walked in the pasture.  It's a lovely day so far, nice and cool.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

About my cabin

Someone asked, in a comment, if I'm spending nights in my cabin this year.  Yes, I am.  Once, before Cliff's heart problem was diagnosed, Sadie and I slept there.  And another time, a couple of weeks ago, Cliff, Sadie, and I spent a night there together.  I have hesitated to stay there without Cliff because, after his hospital stay, I had no desire to sleep away from him.  All the time he was in the hospital, when I was sleeping on a roll-away bed beside him, I was wishing I could crawl onto his hospital bed with him; but of course, that would have been painful for him at the time.

The cabin is there waiting for me, and I am ready to spend a night there with my dog; the problem now is that my air mattress has sprung a leak, and I must buy a new one.  The mice keep trying to take over, but they find the poison and die; still, my cabin smells rather "mousy".  This only makes me appreciate what our pioneer forefathers went through.

I shall get a new air mattress and spend a night at the cabin.  Stay tuned.

garage sale buy

Our town-wide garage sale was a bust, really.  Oh, I got some nice towels cheap, and a nice cage for $10; it's really a rabbit cage, but I'm thinking of getting some banty chicks next spring, and the cage would be the perfect place to start them.   But very few people participated in the sale, and there weren't many customers, either.

At our last stop yesterday, there were two brand-new, in-the-box water slides, each marked $1.  How could I go wrong, with hot weather here and two granddaughters at my house every day?  I believe I got my money's worth yesterday alone.

computer stuff

About half the time, this laptop was pulling the same trick as the one I returned:  after being turned off and back on, it wouldn't access the Internet.  This was a dead giveaway that the problem was not with the computer, but with the person at the keyboard... that would be me.

I found out that if I'd unplug the cable connecting laptop to modem and plug it back in, I'd have Internet again, although not always on the first try.  Remembering a conversation I'd had with a cable company tech, I mentioned to my daughter that he'd said ethernet is more reliable than USB for connecting to the modem, and she thought that sounded right.  So, I'm now using ethernet.  The only reason I wasn't using it before was that USB was all I'd known.  I'll let you know if this is the end of my problem.

While Rachel was fooling around with my computer stuff, and as long as my regular PC is at the geek kid's house, she suggested we sort out all the wiring mess behind the computer desk.  It was worse than a Chinese puzzle, trying to find what wire went where.  Part of the problem was that Cliff, in his zeal to make things neater, had put twist-ties and even metal thingies to hold all the wires in a neat bundle and route them along the edge of the desk.  That's fine, until you get rid of something, or need to trace down a problem.  There were wires there leading nowhere, having once run to computer accesseries I no longer own, or have replaced.

We also unhooked the webcam and microphone, because I haven't used either in years.  I used to make wavs of myself with the mic, but it's been so long I've forgotten how.  If I ever decide to use them again, they're here.

Now, if only my computer comes home working like it ought to, things will be great.

I laughed recently when a friend told me that, although she has a newer computer, she uses her eight-year-old model, just because she "likes it".  I understand now, because even if I had all my pictures and documents off my 3 1/2-year-old PC, I'd rather have it than a brand new one.  The only reason is that "I like it".  This is a first for me, because I love configuring and buying new computers.

I intend to get an external hard drive now, for sure.  Enough of this business of wondering if every picture I took in the past year is lost for good.

Oh, our cow, Lucy, had a bull calf yesterday.

Friday, June 2, 2006

So, where have I been?

I told you in this journal that I bought a laptop on Monday.  I was happy.  My main computer was being looked at by a computer geek, and if he couldn't fix it, someone else could.  Or, I'd have a good excuse to order another desktop from Dell.

My brand new laptop was serving me well.  I un-installed the 60-day free trial of Norton anti-virus and in it's place, installed AVG, a free antivirus I've used for years.  I also installed the free firewall I always used with no problem.

Then I installed the software for the GPS system we bought Monday.

Some time Wednesday, I turned on my laptop and it no longer connected to the Internet.  It also refused to shut down, part of the time.

I tried and tried, and then called my cable provider.  The tech guy said my computer wasn't recognizing my modem.  He suggested I re-install my cabel-modem disc.  I tried that.  Nothing happened.

Today I took the Compaq laptop back to Circuit City, and they let me choose a different laptop.  I didn't have the box the Compaq came in, but nevertheless, I was allowed to trade it for a different computer.  I came home with a Toshiba this time.

There are things I prefer about this laptop anyhow, and I did pretty much the same things as I did with the Compaq:  uninstalled the trial antivirus and firewall, installed my AVG and Zonealarm firewall, added the GPS.  Rebooted at a command after updating Adobe Reader, and guess what?  When the notebook computer came back on... there was no Internet connection detected!

I could have cried.  After rebooting a couple of times, I got my connection back, which is why I'm here typing this.  But I'm scared, now, to turn off the computer!

Obviously the computer I returned wasn't faulty; it was something I did.  But what?

I never had this problem with my Dells, nor my Gateways.


I will say, though, that the Circuit City people were obliging and polite.  And much more accessable that Dell would have been.

I'm signing off, but not turning my notebook computer off tonight.  Wish me luck.