Sunday, December 31, 2006

WARNING: Gaither Gospel video with Jeff and Sheri Easter

It works!!!!  Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings on me in 2006.

the past year

I've been looking back at the archives of this journal to see exactly what went on this year.  Because if I rely on memory alone, everything centers around Cliff's heart surgery in April, and his remarkable recovery. 

Up to the time of that surgery, it seems the world revolved around our Honda Gold Wing.  We started out with a New Year's Day ride (temperatures were in the 50's), and rode every time the weather permitted after that. 

In January, I see I was posting lots of pictures of my dog, Mandy.  She had gotten over most of her irritating puppy-like behavior and was becoming a good, laid-back farm dog.  Then on January 27, her life ended, leaving a hole in my life that is still there.  Most of the time I try not to think about her, because if I do, I cry.

Cliff insisted we go get another dog immediately, and that's how Sadie came to live here.  I didn't choose her, she chose us.  Every time we passed her cage at Wayside Waifs, she'd rub against the bars of her prison as if to say, "Take me, take me!"  With all her energy, we may as well have gotten a puppy.  She's good for us though, because if we tarry too long in the mornings before taking our walk, she nags us by whining, until we go.  She LIVES for that walk, and for fetching the sticks we throw.

I see that no month went by without a few horseback rides, or motorcycle rides... until that fateful day in April when Cliff was told he had to have heart bypass surgery immediately.   We didn't have time to worry about it; the doctors put everything into fast-forward.

That was the scariest time of my life.  Even now I am affected by it:  I heard Cliff groan loudly in his sleep awhile ago, and I woke him up to make sure he was all right.

While Cliff was still on medical leave,  we made a trip to Branson, and spent a week in Colorado.

I spent the two or three months following Cliff's surgery worrying that he was doing too much... which he was.  But he survived.  I did too, but barely!

He was unable to ride the motorcycle for three months, and when he did get back on it (long before the doctor  wanted him to) he found out he was really too weak to handle 800 pounds of Honda.  But he rode anyhow, and started working out, to build up his strength.  

Our son made his annual trip here in July, and shortly after that, Cliff went back to work.

Last week Cliff had an appointment with the heart doctor, who released him to do anything he wants to do, no limitations.  That good news was tempered with the news that, indeed, a lower portion of his heart was damaged... but doctor says his heart is compensating for it, so he's fine.

No matter how much I read over the archives of my journal for this year, I can't seem to focus on anything other than how close to death Cliff was, for who-knows-how-long; he was having angina every morning when we went for our walk, and we didn't recognize it.

2006 could have been the worst year of my life.  It turned out to be one of the best.  I still have my husband with me.  Thank You, God.

Our attitudes have changed:  In the past, Cliff took all the overtime he was offered, at work.  It was extra money for his projects, you know.  Now he not only turns down overtime when it's offered, but he frequently takes Fridays off, if the weather is nice enough for a motorcycle ride.  We figure five years from now, if we're both still around, we wouldn't remember what we did with the money he made working overtime; but we might remember the good time we had on a little road trip we took that day.

Happy New Year to all my readers.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

rainy days

Cliff bought a very-well-used disc mower last spring.  It's much better for mowing hay than the old-time sickle mowers, but no way could we justify spending $5,000 or so for a new one.  After all, we only put up about five acres of hay, total.

So, the fellow who sold us the old mower said it was working fine when he parked it (those words always throw up a red flag to me).  Cliff got it home, started mowing our first alfalfa crop, and didn't even get across the field once before something-or-other broke on it. 

He got that fixed, and next time he used it, something else broke.  He'd had heart surgery and wasn't able to work on the thing; so he put that project on the back burner and used the trusty old sickle mower the rest of the hay season.

New parts for the old mower may as well been gold, judging by the prices.  So Cliff made some calls to tractor junk yards, looking for used parts.  Finally he found the parts he needed... a three-hour drive from here, near Nevada, Missouri.  He'd planned on going today; then he woke up to rain and couldn't decide whether he wanted to go in this kind of weather.  In fact, he didn't think he would go, and I settled in to watch "Dances With Wolves".  At 8:30, he suddenly decided we would go, and we had to leave quickly because the place closes at noon on Saturday.

I knew we'd be on the road at lunchtime, and since we're trying to lose a few pounds, eating out isn't a good option.  What could I grab quickly that would serve as lunch?

I recently read that sardines are a good choice of fish because they are low on the food chain.  So I bought a few cans, even though I've always considered them "hobo food".

I gathered up two cans of sardines, a stack of Ritz low-sodium crackers, a baggie of carrot sticks, a couple of apples and two bananas.  I iced up the small cooler and tossed in three Diet Cokes (caffeine-free, of course).  And I did this all in the space of five minutes.  With all this, PLUS putting Sadie in her  outside pen, I forgot my purse.  Thank  goodness Cliff had cash to pay for his mower parts.

I've had a cold, so I couldn't read "Cross" aloud to Cliff non-stop, but I got over halfway through it, just reading part-time.

I will tell you that sardines in mustard, on crackers, isnot a good food to eat when one is driving.  But we managed.

Cliff wants to go down to that junk yard again, just to look at stuff.  Some people get their kicks in strange ways, don't they?  However, it sounds like it might make a good motorcycle trip when the weather is nice.

Friday, December 29, 2006

My funeral

When I was younger, I hated funerals, and avoided them as much as possible.  Somewhere in my forties, I decided they weren't so bad.

Going to funerals was like a family reunion, really.  Everyone sharing memories of the dear departed.  It was sorta nice.

Sometime in my fifties, I started thinking about my own funeral.  Of course, it wouldn't really matter what happened to my corpse, because I intended to be in a better place.  But I like graveyards and tombstones, so I pictured myself having a simple funeral, a burial in my little town's cemetery, and a marker with my name on it.  Markers are important because they tell the world that, at one time, you existed.

Now that I'm in my sixties, though, it really doesn't matter.  I wouldn't mind knowing my ashes would be scattered back at the cabin, or down by the Missouri river at farmer Steve's place.  I rather like the idea, in fact.  I would still like a marker to tell the world I had been here, though.

But if that bothered my relatives, it's OK, whatever they do.  Anything that gives comfort to the living is fine with me.  The dead aren't bothered by silly details.

Cremation, with ashes left to be scattered, is much cheaper.  Just so you know.

My soul isn't going to care.

a bonfire at the cabin

The temperature neared 60 by 2 o'clock, and Natalie reminded me of my promise to have a wienie roast at the cabin, if there was a warm-enough day during Christmas vacation.  So we loaded up the little red wagon with hot dogs, marshmallows, and other necessary items, put the halti on Sadie, and headed off.

It was a nice, relaxing time, and the only reason we came back at 5 was that it was getting dark.  And the girls' parents were liable to pick them up at any time.

It really is fun to play with fire, and there's just something about the popping and crackling, and the smell of smoke, that calms the soul.

a meme from Russ

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?  I don't look at myself in the mirror.

2. How much cash do you have on you?  None.  I don't drive, so I'm always with Cliff.  And he's a never-ending source of money if I need something.

 3. What’s a word that rhymes with DOOR?  Poor

4. Favorite planet?  Earth

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?  It was probably some stranger calling to talk to "Darryl".  (See entry on my Blogspot journal HERE.)

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? Waylon Jennings singing "Good-hearted Woman".

7. What shirt are you wearing?  I'm in my flannel pajamas and robe right now.

8. Do you label yourself? crazy old lady who rides a horse all over the countryside and camps out in a cabin in the woods.

9. Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently wearing? New Balance

10. Bright or Dark Room? bright

11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you? troubled

12. What does your watch look like? I don't wear watches; now that I have a cell phone, though, I often use it as a timepiece.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night?  Sleeping like a baby.

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?  Never received a text message.

15. Where is your nearest 7-11? 7-11?  What's that?  Remember, I'm in the boonies.

16. What’s a word that you say a lot?  "Potty?  You wanna go potty?"  (to Sadie)

17. Who told you he/she loved you last?  Either Cliff or the granddaughters.  They all make a pretty-much regular practice of telling me they love me.

18. Last furry thing you touched?  Sadie, my dog.

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?  Caffeine and aspirin.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed? None.  Thank God for digital cameras!

21. Favorite age you have been so far?  the 10 years from age 40 to age 50.  My body was still in fairly good shape, I had grandbabies to play with... those years were GREAT!

22. Your worst enemy?  myself

23. What is your current desktop picture?  My two horses in the snow.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone? I suppose it was "goodbye" to the granddaughters when they went home yesterday; I was asleep at 1 AM when Cliff got home from work.  Unless "someone" includes animals:  In which case the last thing I said was, "Potty?  You wanna go potty?"

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be? money, please.

26. Do you like someone? Of course.  I like most people.

27. The last song you listened to?  "That's The Way That The World Goes 'Round" by John Prine

28. What time of day were you born?  I don't remember.

29. What’s your favorite number?  7

30. Where did you live in 1997? Right here in the boonies.

31. Are you jealous of anyone?  I don't think so.

32. Is anyone jealous of you? According to comments I get on this journal, yes.

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened?  I was working at Kohl's Distribution Center.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? It's never happened to me; I don't do many vending machines.

35. Do you consider yourself kind? probably about as kind as the average person.

36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? I consider tattoos unsightly, so if I had to have one, it would be someplace out of sight.

37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?  Spanish.

38. Would you move for the person you loved? You bet I would, in a heartbeat.

39. Are you touchy feely? No.  I wish I were more so.

40. What’s your life motto?  "Life is short; ride the horse (or motorcycle) every time the weather permits."

41. Name three things that you have on you at all times?  my clothes? 

42. What’s your favorite town/city?  My favorite town would be my little town as it was in 1975 when we moved here: the banker was kind; there was a grocery store and a drug store; Buddy's hardware was convenient, and he gave good advice and instant credit; and the town fair was a big deal.

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?  I don't remember.

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?  Within the last month.  My friend Lona was in a rehab facility, and I tried to send her a letter once a week during her stay.

45. Can you change the oil on a car? I can't even DRIVE a car!

46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?  I'm not sure what to count as a "first love".  The boy I had a crush on in high school?  Or the only other guy besides Cliff that I ever dated?  Either way, I don't hear anything about them.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry?  Only back to my great-great grandparents.

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy? I'm not sure I've ever dressed "fancy" in my life.

49.Does anything hurt on your body right now? As I sit here, no.  When I get up for another cup of coffee, my knees will twinge, but not too badly.

50. Have you been burned by love?  Only once.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.


John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment

Weekend Assignment #145: 2007 Resolutions

Weekend Assignment 145: Make at least one resolution for 2007.
You'd think this one would be easy:  I'm going to try and lose 3 1/2 pounds.  Sounds like a piece of cake, right?  After all, I've lost forty pounds in the past year.  But I'm so close to target that I just can't make myself knuckle down and lose those last pesky 3 1/2 pounds.

Extra credit: Did you keep your resolutions for 2006?  You bet I did.  See above:  I lost forty pounds.

If you want to do the weekend assignment, be sure and leave the link to your entry over at John's place.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


While riding through farmer Steve's woods headed toward the Missouri River, I happened to notice this thingie strapped to a tree.  It had a red eye and looked a little like a camera.

I posted this picture on a message board asking "what is it?", and got this reply: 

"Game tracker, Deer walk by it takes photo, records time of day he/she were there."

Another fellow had this to say:  "They've become very popular over the last few years as they've came down in price. You can now pick up a bottom-end model that takes regular 35 mm film for as little as $50. You can also spend several hundred for a digital model with all the bells and whistles. We have half a dozen of various sorts at our hunting camp, and have got some very interesting pictures, not just of deer, but raccoons, bobcats, turkeys, coyotes, and bears. Bears don't seem to care for the flash much--the last picture on one of the cameras was of the inside of the bear's mouth! It didn't do the camera any favors--we sent it in to the company (which I don't recall off the top of my head) and they kept it for display on their 'wall of fame'."

So I have a mental picture of Farmer Steve or his boys watching their film and seeing me taking a picture of them taking a picture of me.

Thank goodness they know who I am, and I have permission to ride on their land.

You can bet I'll be looking around me carefully when I have to make a "pit stop" during the course of a ride, from now on.


According to the weather-guessers, our weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse, with rain possibly starting tomorrow and sticking around for three or four days.  So I left the granddaughters in Cliff's care and went for a ride, just in case it's my last chance for awhile.

Blue and I wandered through the woods along the river for about an hour.  I couldn't help thinking about an article I read in the Kansas City Star: 

"Barges on the Missouri River may be an endangered species.

For the first time since 1951, the amount of cargo hauled by barges on the Missouri River this shipping season was estimated at less than 200,000 tons, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That was just a fraction of the cargo hauled on the Mississippi River, and a northern drought is partially to blame.

“We had the lightest year we have ever had,” said Roger Harris, vice president of operations for Magnolia Marine in Vicksburg, Miss. “We can’t seem to get any water.”

A years-long drought in the upper reaches of the river in Montana and North and South Dakota has contributed to the decrease in traffic. The drought has depleted the northern reservoirs so severely that the corps is unable to release enough water to bolster levels downstream.

River levels have hit record lows in Kansas City and are barely covering the drinking-water intakes."

It was a pleasant ride, and the turkey frame soup I made before I left this morning really hit the spot.  Blue had to settle for sweet feed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I guess I'm unique

I've noticed I'm the only old lady in my town wearing Carhart coveralls.

I've noticed I'm the only old lady you'll see along 224 highway, and on the local gravel back roads, riding a horse.

I think I'm the only old lady in town who listens to John Prine, Floyd 'Red Crow" Westerman, and Kris Kristofferson, enjoying them all.  I confess to also listening to Green Day occasionally.

I wonder what planet I came from?  Or maybe it's my town that's weird.

"Everybody is out of step but my Johnny."

Longtime Internet friends

Because of the recent, very serious illness of my friend Lona, I've been thinking a lot about all the friends I've met online.  Lona, by the way, finally got to go home for good the week before Christmas.  She mentioned in a chat room this morning that she hasn't been shopping since September, when she first got sick.  That's a long time to be indisposed.

Lona was one of the first Internet friends I met in person.

Some of my old chat room buddies, I haven't met face to face; and yet I feel I know them quite well.

I started out in an AOL Christian senior chat room, although I wasn't sure I qualified as "senior" (I was 54).  It wasn't as crazy as most chat rooms I had briefly checked out, and I gradually became comfortable carrying on typed conversations with strangers.  Only they didn't feel like strangers for long.

Because it was a "senior" chat, most of the people were in my age group and older.  Thinking back, I realize how many of them have died.

But there was one younger lady who chatted with us regularly.  Her name was Lori, and she's about the age of my daughter.  She had one little boy, Danny, and kept us informed of his antics, and cute things he said.

I remember her being asked sometimes, "Wouldn't you rather hang out with people your own age?"

She continued to "hang out" with us anyhow.

Most of us adopted her as our own.  We went through a very moody pregnancy with her, then Becca was born and Lori was back to normal.

I've been seeing pictures of Lori and her family forever, it seems.  And hearing her kids' voices, too, because she used to make sound wavs of them and send to us.  We'd even play some of them in the chat room.

Next she had Mikey, after a not-so-moody pregnancy.  And recently, baby Aaron.

Yesterday she sent me a video (no easy process, since she's on dial-up) of twelve-year-old Danny playing a keyboard, with Mikey toddling around him.  It was amazing, seeing those kids who live in Louisiana come to life before my eyes.

I'm just musing here, thinking how much the Internet has expanded my world and let me get to know so many unique people.  Indeed, it has enriched my life.  Thanks Lori, for keeping babies in my world.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Year's Resolution #2 (no surprise here)

Cliff and I went back to our old, pig-out ways for two days.  My weight had already begun creeping up from a low of 147 a few weeks ago, as a result of evening snacking.  And alas, yesterday after the holiday feasting, I weighed 151.5.  (This morning, though, it's 149.  Whew!)

Cliff had gotten as low as 211, very briefly.  Yesterday he weighed 215.

It amazes me how we enable one another when it comes to over-eating.  It's as if I say to myself, "Oh, he's eating chips?  I should get some too!"

Anyway, we now have new motivation after being reminded how easily we slip, and I am aiming for 145.  Cliff is going for 200.  I usually do entries like this in my healthy-living journal, but because it's a resolution, I'm posting it here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

New Year's Resolution #1

Anyone who owns horses needs to know how to tie a bowline knot.  I've learned it before, then quit using for so long, I forgot it.  Since I own two horses, I should get enough practice to commit it to memory again.

I found instructions HERE.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I rode today

Blue rolling

Actually, I rode farther than I should have this afternoon; my knees are good for a couple of hours before they really start hurting, and I was a half-hour from home at the two-hour mark.  I was gone long enough that Cliff called me on my cell, worried about me.  I wish I could remember to take a couple of aspirins before I leave.

Because the ride was longer than usual, and Blue kept up a very brisk pace all the way, he was pretty worn out afterward.  He usually rolls a lot more than this video shows.

Found on a message board

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Barbaro walks again

Check out the video of Barbaro, the racehorse, walking.  His foot and leg look mighty strange, but he appears to be happy, ears up and alert.

You can't keep a good horse down.

(note:  You may have to watch a commercial before you see Barbaro, on this clip)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cliff's appointment with the heart doctor

Today was Cliff's six-month visit with the heart specialist, although it's actually been eight months.  The doctor was very pleased that he is still losing weight, and asked how he's doing it:  Cliff pointed at me; and the doctor asked, jokingly, if I could come to work for them.  He said they have patients who could use my help; seems the biggest problem with heart patients is they don't exercise, they won't quit smoking, and they don't want to watch their diets.

One thing worried me when I first heard it:  The EKG (why do they call it EKG if it stands for electrocardiogram?  Shouldn't it be ECG?) shows that the bottom part of Cliff's heart isn't working as well as it should.  I quizzed the doctor on this, and he said it's nothing to worry about, because the heart is compensating.  Damage was probably done when Cliff was having angina for so long. 

As is usual for Cliff at the doctor's office, his blood pressure was more than ten points higher than it is at home.

No more appointments with the specialist for a year.  Doc would still like Cliff to lose a little more weight, which of course we are working on.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Would you like to see how well Libby gaits? Here's the video!

Watch one horse teach another one

Ideally, Libby's head would be even with Blue's shoulder when I'm leading her.  We haven't achieved that yet.  But at least she's quit laying her ears back and threatening to bite, and she has almost stopped balking.

And she has a smooth, head-nodding gait, just like Blue.  She will be a comfortable ride with no bouncing.

In the final segment of this, watch how poor Libby almost seems to be saying, "Hey lady, you are too heavy!"  Also, notice the two interested horses in the background (not my horses, they are boarded here), who seem to be very fascinated with all these goings-on.

Monday, December 18, 2006

OK, so I'm not so photogenic

All I wanted was a new picture for my sidebar, just me and my two equine friends.  Alas, it was not to be on this day.  Rather than scrap the pictures, I decided to share them with my readers.

Part of the problem is Blue's big ole crested neck.  If you don't get him at just the right angle, he doesn't look so pretty.  His heart, however, is lovely at any angle.

Do you think Libby will look good in red?

I was the highest bidder on this saddle for Libby, on Ebay.  $78, shipping and all!  Probably poorly made in India, since most cheap leather saddles are; but I didn't want to invest a lot of money in something that's just going to be on her back while I lead her around on Blue; also, I have no way of knowing what size saddle she'll need when she's full grown.  

This one is a regular quarter-horse tree size. 

It'll serve my purposes just fine.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Patrick's Saturday Six

1. Christmas cards must be mailed by Monday to arrive on time. Do you think you'll make the deadline?
I'm not sending cards this year.  Although at the last minute, I decided to do a brief Christmas letter for folks we don't see much, telling mainly about Cliff's heart surgery and our gratitude that he recovered so well.  I haven't sent them yet, and probably won't get them all sent tomorrow.

2. If you had to restrict all of your Christmas shopping to one single store, which one would you choose?  I'm not Christmas shopping this year.  But if I were, I'd probably choose Walmart or

3. If you had to restrict all of the shopping others did for your Christmas gifts to one store, which would you choose?  "The Family Center" at Harrisonville.  They have saddles, you know.  Actually, I am not expecting anyone to shop for me, since I'm not shopping for them.

4. Take the quiz: Which Jones Holiday Soda are you?
I think I'll pass on this quiz.

5. You're invited to a Christmas party and are required to bring a dessert. What would you create for the occasion?  Oreo dessert, what else?

6. How many Christmas parties have you been invited to this season? Only one, the party given by Cliff's employer.  How many have you attended so far?  Bah, humbug.  Er, uh... I mean none.

If you want to play along, be sure and leave a link to your entry at Patrick's Weekender.

of horses, saddles, and tractors

I need a saddle for Libby.  I won't be riding her until April, if then.  But I want her to be getting used to the feel of a saddle on her back when I'm ponying her.  So, my Grandson, Arick, took me to a horse action.

I hoped to pick up some old, no-name saddle for under $100, but alas, the cheapest one sold for $165 or thereabouts.  Except for English saddles, which brought around $40.  But I like having a saddle horn to grab onto, if the going gets rough.  So I passed on those.

I came home, looked on Ebay, and found out I can get a saddle for under $75, shipping and all... brand new.  These are cheaply-made saddles, to be sure, mostly made in India.  But since my main purpose for it will be to get Libby used to the feel, what does it matter?  And who knows, I might actually end up loving the saddle.  I found a seller with great feedback, and I have my bid in on a saddle.  The auction ends in a couple of hours.

We shall see.

In a recent entry I told about our acquiring a tractor that needed repair; the transmission wasn't working.  Well, Cliff weighed his options and decided that, since he didn't need the tractor, and he really wasn't in the mood to put a lot of time and money into it, he'd put it on Ebay.  It sold with no problem, and the fellow from St. Louis who bought it came yesterday to get it, with cash in hand.

Not a bad weekend so far.

Friday, December 15, 2006

horses are cheap

The reason I have my prize filly, Libby, is because horses are cheaper than they've been in years.  I look at the ads and I'm amazed.  My grandson goes to horse auctions often, and he says they're practically giving horses away.

Which makes me thankful that I have Libby, because she is a total prize.  But I worry, wondering what will happen to all these "cheap" horses.  Will traders buy them, hoping to make money on them later?  When supply exceeds demand, sometimes bad things happen.

I hope no bad things happen to all the young horses like my Libby.  Dear God, please help them find homes where they are loved and appreciated.

Of course, then I have to think about all the mongrel dogs that nobody wants.  Please Lord, remember them too, at this season when we all recall a stable and a special Baby born, surrounded by animals.

"The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes...."

fun day

As we were taking our morning walk in the pasture, Cliff decided we ought to go for a motorcycle ride, since the forecast was for temperatures near 60.   Sounded fine to me, just so we're home in time for the girls to get out of school.

But Cliff came inside at 9 AM, ready to ride, telling me he'd started the Honda.  The temperature was barely above forty degrees, and I was less than enthusiastic; but hey, I'm game for a ride almost any time.  I put on three sweatshirts, and pulled a pair of sweatpants over my jeans... then my leathers.  I could barely move, but by george, I wasn't going to freeze!

Cliff sold his chaps because, since his weight loss, they were much too big.  He's going to take mine as soon as I get the smaller ones I ordered from Ebay.  But for today, he had no chaps.  He wore coveralls, and soon admitted it was really too cold to be out on a motorcycle.  We went to a place across the river that Cliff loves, Scotts Bargain Barn.  There isn't a thing in there that interests me, but he can spend hours looking at nuts, bolts, and other assorted boring things.  I was prepared:  I had my Readers' Digest with me, and sat outside in the sun reading while he had a blast shopping.

This afternoon I ponied Libby for the longest time yet, and she did the best she's ever done.  At first she kept laying back her ears and threatening to bite Blue's shoulder or my leg,  but as soon as I'd make the "wrong answer" buzzer sound, she'd stop.  After the first five minutes she started behaving and stayed right at Blue's shoulder, where she's supposed to be when I lead her.

After that session, which lasted probably forty-five minutes, I groomed her and led her around the yard.  The local Walking Horse breeder and trainer drove by, rolled down his window, and yelled, "Hey, where'd you get that mule?  I'll give you a hundred dollars for her if she's got papers."

Ha ha.  So funny I forgot to laugh, as my kids used to say.

Anyway, it's been a good day.

By the way, the temperature never did get much over fifty.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One year ago today

On this date in 2005, right smack in the middle of our yearly holiday binge, Cliff and I decided we had to do something about our weight (click HERE to read about that decision):  I weighed in at 188, Cliff was 277.  We'd done it before and we'd do it again... hopefully for the last time. 

Now, we really don't "diet" in the traditional sense, because we allow ourselves to have any food we want, in moderation, except that I limit fats drastically here at home.  I try to dwell on what we should have, rather than what we shouldn't.  For instance, if I realize I've only had three servings of fruits, I'll grab an apple.  If I'm low on vegetable intake for the day, a carrot or a stalk of celery is taken, like medicine.  We totally ban second helpings.  I weigh portions of meat and fish, and I measure our cereal; it took the granddaughters awhile to get used to such strange behavior.   One cup of Cheerios looks pretty pathetic, until you slice a banana in with it.

That's the course on which we embarked.

We started walking again every day, but only a half-hour, as opposed to an hour in the past.  An hour takes a huge toll on Cliff's at-home hours, causing resentment on his part; and I knew my knees wouldn't like an hour of wear-and-tear.  So we figured we'd use moderation in our exercising and be less likely to drop out.

Little did we know, that day, that Cliff was already having heart problems, and that in April he'd have his chest opened wide for major reconstruction.

But after that surgery, the heart doctor told us, "You're already doing the right things; just keep doing them."

It's amazing how things work out.

Today Cliff weighs 213 pounds, and I weigh 148.  We've lost enough weight between us to make a whole other person.

Timing is everything, and I give glory to God on that score.  We started eating properly and exercising at a critical time, before we even knew there was a problem.  A friend came to visit and told us Cliff's "heartburn" might be something more serious, so we made an appointment with our doctor, just in case.

Wow, what a year it has been... and yet, one of the best years of our lives!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

working with Libby... a short video

Libby's lessons

The snow is only a memory now, and the temperatures are headed for 60 degrees.  It's a perfect day for enjoying my horses.  The part of the film where I'm on Blue leading Libby was only the start of that lesson; I took them out to the point and back twice, later on.  Libby sometimes lays back her ears, and has acted like she wants to bite either Blue's shoulder or my leg.  But I do my "wrong answer" buzzer noise and she straightens right up.

I'm sure that horse people will see me doing things wrong, but I do the best I can.

I took a short ride on Blue, between Libby's lessons.

Because I know my healthy-living journal doesn't get a lot of traffic (nothing is more boring to read about than diets and weight loss), I'm going to mention sparkpeople here.

I first read about it on a message board; if I knew who had mentioned it there, I'd thank them personally.

Best of all, you can sign up for free.

Perhaps you aren't interested in calorie-counting, but you can also track nutrients and sodium on the site, and find out if you're getting enough vitamins on a daily basis.  I especially appreciate knowing about sodium, because I try to limit ours.  Except on Subway's "Hooray for Tuesdays", when we have those subs twice in a day:  way over 4,000 grams of sodium, on Tuesdays!  I try to keep us under 2,000 a day the rest of the time, and usually succeed.

You can enter your own recipes, ingredient by ingredient, and their calculator will figure the calories, nutrients, and so forth for you.  Then you can save that info for future entries into your food diary.

It helps you keep track of your water intake, too.

Plus there are lots of exercises, and an exercise diary.

OK, that's it for my commercial for sparkpeople.

Try it; you'll like it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

telephone questions

We need a new telephone.  Oh, the one we have here in the house works just fine, and it really doesn't get a lot of use, since I'm not one to talk on the phone.  But I lost the book of instructions that came with it, and I don't recall how to take people off, or add them too, the saved numbers:  consequently, about a third of the automatic-dial-number folks are dead, and the rest have long-since divorced, and changed phone numbers and locations.  Out of seven numbers, only one is still correct.  Another problem with it is that a couple of the number keys are sticky, so if you don't push them really hard, they don't register.  Cliff is deaf in one ear and can't listen for the "beep" with each key-punch; consequently, most of his efforts to dial anybody result in his loudly questioning the telephone's mother's morals, followed by my saying, "Here, let me dial it."

This one is a corded phone.  Because we sometimes have ice storms in Missouri that leave us without electricity, corded is nice:  You can still use them, power or no power.

But since we have cell phones now, that's no longer an issue.

So, I think we'll go cordless this time around.  We do like having a digital answering machine, so that has to be included.  Here's what stumps me:  What is the difference in 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz?  I've found a nice, cheap phone with everything I need at Circuit City online (click HERE); it has great customer reviews.  But it's 2.4 GHz.  What's a GHz anyhow?  (Don't answer that part of the question, I really don't care.)

Speaking of phones, we have trouble using cell phones in the house, I guess because of our metal roof.  I wonder if an antenna would help?  I googled a bit and found out there is such a thing for cell phones.

How about it, dear readers?  Any telephone advice for us?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Finally, a ride

With all the recent snow and bitter cold weather, I hadn't ridden in about ten days.  There's a strong wind out of the south that isn't very pleasant today, but once I was down on the bottoms, the bluffs kept the wind at bay; in fact, I forgot how windy it was until I topped the hill you see in that last picture.  The fields were pretty mushy, and that made Blue work hard.  But I think he was glad to get out and about.

I'm not abandoning this journal; I simply intend to split my entries between here and Blogger.  You'll find the Blogger link in the upper left-hand corner where it says, "My newest blogging home".

Friday, December 8, 2006

How about a little good news?

I visited an orthopedist today to see what he thought about my knees.  They've been bothering me somewhat more, lately.  I get more knock-kneed all the time, and there's a point at which knock-knees can get so bad as to make knee replacement surgery difficult.  This was really the main reason I wanted a doctor's opinion, since it has been two years since I've had x-rays.

I do have pain, but it isn't crippling or unbearable pain.   My knees don't hurt  me during the night, or disturb my sleep.

X-rays were taken.  Doctor said I have a long way to go before I'm so knock-kneed that it would be a concern.

I mentioned to him that I take a half-hour walk every day, and he advised that I stop doing that; it's just causing more wear and tear on the joints, which in some places are bone on bone.

Then Cliff began telling him how he and I have walked together since his open heart surgery and have lost significant weight.

After hearing that, the doctor changed his mind about walking. 

He said that after looking at the "big picture," the walking does the two of us, together, more good than harm.  Yes, my knees will give out sooner.  But who knows when, or how much sooner?

He said I am one of those people who would be a candidate, when the time comes, for partial knee replacement (click HERE).  I told him I'd heard that if you have that, it would mess up the chance of having total replacement, if it should become necessary later.  He said that is totally untrue.

So there you have it.  As long as the pain isn't too bad, I can keep right on doing whatever I've been doing.

About my other journal on blogspot:  I will probably do about half my entries there, and half here.  We'll see how it works out.

Eating for health

I did an entry over at Blogger about my lack of Christmas spirit this year, and it got me thinking about how our eating habits have changed in the past year.

It started a year ago, our dieting.  We cut fat and calories drastically.

After Cliff's heart bypass in April, I made other changes, like banning trans-fats from our house and keeping cholesterol intake low.

Because we neither one have great will-power, the best way of not eating too much of the wrong things is to simply not have them around.

This means no fruitcake.  No Christmas brown-sugar fudge or sugar cookies.  No cheese ball.

It means baking stuff that tastes better fried, and trying not to think about what you can't have.

The rewards are here in plain sight, every time we get on the scale.  But I sure do miss eating anything I want, any time.  Especially at Christmas.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

pictures are back

Looking back through my journal, I see my lost pictures have returned.  That's a good thing, but now I think I'm rather hooked on my new journal over at Blogspot.  I'll probably be jumping back and forth for awhile, trying to decide.  Now that I've found out I don't have to use HTML over there, it's much more attractive to me.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

I'm not going far

I'll still be on AOL for as long as they exist.  But I'm going to gradually learn the ropes of Blogger and see if I can't keep a journal over there.  You won't find much in the way of entries as yet, but I'm learning.  I don't think AOL will be with us forever, and I don't want to lose any more of my memories.  Click here for my new blog.

I went back and added, for the third time, some of my "you've got pictures" albums from AOL.  Somehow I don't expect them to be there when I get up in the morning.

AOL pictures are fixed?

So, the word over at Magic Smoke is that our picture-problem with journals is fixed. 

Some people say their pictures are back, and some of us still have no pictures.... I had even put some back yesterday, and  now they're gone again.

I wonder if it's the paying customers who have their pictures back?  Maybe free AOL isn't so great after all.

More and more, I'm tempted to do a journal someplace else.

Sharing a laugh with you

I just got the biggest laugh over at one of my favorite journals, Lone Star Concerto.  If you want to start out your day with laughter, head right on over there and check it out.  We all know what Walmart can be like during the holidays, don't we?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

horses in snow

I decided to add some pictures through the "You've got pictures" feature again, to see what happens.  I'm also going to go back to some recent entries and try to add the albums that went missing, because I can still see them on AOL, they're just gone from my blog.  If they disappear again, I'll have to start using pictures like this big one.  Trouble is, when I want to share quite a few at once, the big ones make my journal load slowly.  In fact, the AOL pictures feature was one of the main reasons I've stayed with AOL, lately, for blogging. 

Monday, December 4, 2006

AOL???? NOW what?

So, many of our "You've Got Pictures" albums have disappeared from our journals.  What's up with that?  I went to Magic Smoke to report it, and noticed others are experiencing the same thing.

With the cold and snow outside, I don't have a lot to blog about.  I did go out and play with Libby for just awhile this afternoon, so she wouldn't think I'd forgotten her.  She is just like Blue:  Not only does she allow you to hug her, but she practically begs to be hugged.  I brushed and curried her, and my hands smell "horsey" right now, but I rather enjoy it.  So I'm not in a hurry to wash them.  (I know how stupid that must seem... you horse people will understand.)  When I took Libby back to the pasture and removed the halter, she stayed right there, wanting more affection.  Then Blue came over and asked for some attention also.  What sweet horses!

I have made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to see about my knees.  As much as I hate it, I think I'm about ready for knee replacement.  Walking in that snow really did me in.  And if I'm going to be laid up for any period of time, I'd rather it be in winter, not in good horse-back riding weather!

Saturday, December 2, 2006


Cliff and I went shopping today; he simply had to have some new Carharts, since his last ones appeared to have been made by Omar the Tentmaker.  Cost a fortune, but Cliff spends too much time outside to not be protected from the elements.  Of course we also had to stop by Walmart.  It was pretty crowded, and this was our first time for using the automatic checkout.  It works!

Yesterday's sledding with the granddaughters was so much fun that I decided to set out on my own today and try a bigger slope.  It really was a thrill, but that walk back to the top was a killer.  I made, perhaps, a half-dozen trips, then I quit.  Although I did take Sadie for a slow walk in the woods afterwards.  She misses our daily walks, since we haven't been walking in the snow.

That last picture is so funny; I was in here surfing, stepped into the living room to ask Cliff something, and caught him asleep, with Sadie on his lap!  He may ask me to remove it when he sees it, so you'd better get a good look while you have the chance.

Yep, he wanted it to be deleted.  So it's gone.

Of course, if any special family members want to see the pictures, I don't think Cliff would mind my sending them in e-mail.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Oh noooooo

I just found out John Prine is going to be appearing in Kansas City, February 3, at the Uptown Theater.  My chances of seeing him?  Slim to none, after the recent Iris Dement fiasco.  I don't think Cliff could sit through a John Prine concert anyhow. 

Oh well.  I can dream.

Hmmm, my oldest granddaughter wants me to attend the next Van's Warped Tour with her.  I wonder if she could be persuaded to scratch my back so I would later scratch hers?

In the good old days....

When I was a child growing up in Iowa, my parents would tell me about winters when they were kids, and on through the 1930's, when they were newlyweds.  The drifts were so high, for instance, they could walk over fences and not know there were fences there .

Mother told about her parents hooking up horses to the sled to go to Church in wintertime, and her parents had  heated bricks to  put next to the kids' feet, so they'd stay warm.

OK, let me tell you about winters when I was a kid.

In Iowa, when I went to a one-room schoolhouse, I recall Mama walking to school with me because the car wouldn't start, and it was so cold she was afraid I'd freeze to death if I had to walk to school on my own.

When there'd been a heavy snow, all us students attending Skinner School in Taylor Country would take our sleds to school, and we spent our recess time sliding down wonderful hills.  Sometimes we made trains, one kid hooking his feet in the sled behind him, and all of us would head down the hill together.

I remember the winter I prayed for snow... the first time I ever recall praying for something specific and selfish.... and it really snowed the next day!  (Hey, it works, I thought to myself; I only wish it had worked so well when Daddy was suffering from lung cancer.)

After we had moved to Kansas City, I recall snowstorms so powerful that school was canceled for days at a time.

There was the year we went 100 miles north to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving, and we ended up traveling back to Kansas City at a snail's pace, barely able to see the road for the snow coming down.

Oh yeah, when I was a kid, we had some real winters.

a few changes

That's me on the left, aged fifteen.  With cousins on my dad's side of the family.  See?  I've always enjoyed playing in the snow.

I'm not going to leave AOL or vacate my journal here; however, I'm going to be accessing my journal through the Firefox browser.  You see, AOL has been lagging lately, making it hard for me to access journals and websites.  I would have used my Opera browser, but it won't show some of the journal pictures.  So I've decided to give Firefox another chance (I used it before, until it started crashing on me a few times a day).

I can still get my AOL mail and alerts by way of  I've added most of my favorite journals to bloglines, except for those few it won't accept.

I'm not going anywhere; I'm just making things less complicated for myself.

Thanks to Penny, of Firestorm Kids, I'll be using Photobucket for many of my pictures (when AOL is too stubborn to let me upload).  I hope to get to the point where the only time I actually have to sign onto AOL will be for the few times I want to enter an AOL chat room.

We'll see how this goes.

Fun in the snow

When there's no school, the granddaughters usually sleep in, since their brother Brett is at home with them until they wake up.  Then they call us and Cliff goes after them.  The trouble is, our Mercury Marquis doesn't get around in the snow at all.  He made it back to our driveway with the girls, but couldn't get to the garage.  So, he decided to back down the road and have another run at it.  Big mistake.  Finally, with help from a neighbor kid, he got the thing inside the shop.  By that time, he was pretty grumpy.

I kept my distance; in fact, I took refuge with the girls and their sleds.  After several trips up the hill with a sled, I might be taking a nap soon.


Split Pea Soup

Someone asked for my recipe for split pea soup, so here it is, right out of my old standby, Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

                                SPLIT PEA SOUP

2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups dry split peans, rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth (I make my own, when I boil chicken)
one 1- to 1 1/2 pound meaty ham bone or pork hock
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
dash black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion

1.  in a large saucepan combine water, split peas, broth, ham bone, marjoram, pepper and bay leaf.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2.  Remove ham bone.  When cool enough to handle, cut meat off bone; coarsely chop meat.  Discard bones.

3.  Return meat to saucepan.  Stir in carrot, celery, and onion.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaf.

Crock pot directions:  In 3 1/2 or 4 quart crockpot, combine split peas, pork bone, marjoram, pepper, bay leaf, carrot, celery and onion.  Pour water and broth over all.  Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.  Discard bay leaf.  Remove ham bone; coarsely chop meat, stir meat into soup.

Serves 4

Nutrition facts:  303 calories, 3 g total fat (1 gram sat fat), 13 mga chol., 605 mg sodium, 47 grams carbo., 19 g fiber, 24 g protein.  79% vit A, 6% vit C, 5% calcium, 18% iron

exchanges:  3 starch, 2 very lean meat

Winter Wonderland

The weather-guessers had been predicting we'd get from one inch to 2 feet of snow; how's that for allowing yourself a big margin for error?  I figured we'd get no snow at all, because we usually don't.  But we have five or six inches of white stuff out there.

Cliff said the ride home from work was horrible.  He gets off at midnight, and it was still snowing and blowing then; they couldn't see the road most of the time.  I didn't ask how long it took them to get home, but I imagine it was double the usual, at least.  I didn't wake up when he came in.

Another snow day for the girls.  I know they'll have plans to play outside, but I don't think they'll stay out long; it's just too bitter cold.