Friday, March 30, 2007

God bless my Internet friends (and other friends and family)

I did an entry at my Blogger site about Cliff's surgery last April.  It got me looking back in my journal here.  Wow.  I read the first entry I made about Cliff's heart problems and saw 85 comments.  I'm actually overcome with emotion.  I re-read every comment and thanked God for the caring people I've met by way of the Internet.

A lot of those comments were made by people sent here by Sugar, who lives not far from me.  She's recently been in the hospital (cancer surgery), and I intended to visit her during her stay in the hospital.  But she went home sooner than expected.  Which, I suppose, is a good thing.   Still, I'm disappointed I didn't get to meet her.

Hopefully I'll hear from her soon.  I so much appreciate the times she sent caring people to this journal to share my grief, worries, and concerns.

Sugar, if you read this... please get in touch.  I owe you.

And the answer to the Lipitor question is....

Yes!  Cliff can have a half-grapefruit, a couple of times a week.  Hey, that's better than none!   Actually, it's probably all he'd want anyway. And that comes straight from the office of his heart specialist.

Lipitor and grapefruits

Cliff is taking 40 mg of Lipitor at night before he goes to bed.  He has done so ever since his open heart surgery almost a year ago.

There's a stick-on note on the prescription bottle that reads, "Do not take with grapefruit juice."

I've done the research on the Internet, and read about the dangers.  Cliff can live just fine without grapefruits or grapefruit juice.  But does that warning mean no grapefruit juice at the time you take the pill?  Or no grapefruits or grapefruit juice ever?

My sister has returned from her winter stay in Texas, and brought the usual bonanza of huge grapefruits with her.  Three bushels.   If it's safe for Cliff to have one a day, or even one every other day, I'd like for him to be able to eat one.

I've heard different things:  Some say if you only have one grapefruit a day, and eat it in the morning, it's no problem.  Or if you eat them in moderation any time, you're safe.

I called the Walmart druggist, and his advice was to leave grapefruit alone; the Lipitor stays in your body all the time.

Then I called our family physician's office day before yesterday and talked to the nurse-practitioner, who wasn't sure.  But she'd ask Dr. D. and call me back.

She didn't call back.

Today I called again, and was told I'd be connected with Dr. D's nurse.  After waiting five minutes (it's long distance) I gave up. 

So I called the Cardiology group who diagnosed Cliff's blockages last year, and prescribed the Lipitor in the first place.  When you call there, you can be transferred to a nurse's line, leave your question in voice mail, and she'll call back with the answer after 4 PM.  In the past, she's never failed to call back.  So I'm hoping I finally get the answer from a health professional.  It's no big deal, really.  I'd just like Cliff to be able to share in the bounty
and get some vitamin C in the process, if he can do so safely.

Once I actually hear the rules from one of Cliff's doctors, I'll be satisfied with whatever answer I receive.

Stinky dog solutions

I do appreciate the suggestions my readers gave me about Sadie's rolling in stinky stuff, and I figured I'd better address your questions and solutions.

"my best bet is to find it, double bag it, and get rid of it"

" Maybe some kind of varmint poop - they do love possum and raccoon poop for rolling. You said it's not something dead, right?"

" Maybe you should check out the place where she is wallowing."

" It might be something dead. maybe you can get closer and find out?"

OK, here's the problem with "finding it and getting rid of it":  We have 43 acres.  The part where we walk is at the edge of wooded areas.  When I turn Sadie loose, she totally disappears at times, and that's when she gets stinky.  If I see her rolling nearby, all I have to do is shout "No!".  But she isn't usually in sight when she does her thing.

As to what the smell comes from, I don't have a clue.  If it's some sort of poop, it sure does have a different odor than any kind with which I'm familiar.  And since I've had many varieties of livestock, I've smelled a lot of varieties of poop!  If it's something dead, it's the same deal:  It doesn't smell like any carrion I've ever smelled.

A solution would be to keep Sadie on her leash.  But that half-hour of freedom is something she lives for.  She's a very active dog, and after being cooped up in the house with a couple of aging human beings all the time, I like giving her the opportunity to run free, even though there is the chance of her getting stinky, and even a slight risk of her running away and disappearing.

So I'll just hope for the best, and stock up on dog shampoo. 

Please forgive my making such a "crappy" entry.  (And for attempting to make such a lame joke, but what else are you going to do with poop?)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Innocent Man

The book I've been reading aloud to Cliff when we're traveling in the car is "The Innocent Man", by John Grisham.   We've enjoyed several of his fiction novels before.  But this one isn't fiction, and it isn't novel.  Not one bit.

Although it tends to bog down with details during the courtroom stuff, it's riveting, for the most part.  And makes you wonder what in the heck ever happened to justice.

Please read the book.

"If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in the death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you."

That's what it says on the dust jacket, and it's pretty much true.  Read this book.

Because if you're just a little weird, or perhaps march to a different drummer... you could just end up being blamed for some crime you didn't commit.  You might even wind up being executed for it. 

Thank God for DNA testing. 

a rant

In the last few months, Cliff's hearing aid seemed to be working less and less; it got to the point where I felt as though he may as well leave it in the drawer. 

Either it needed a tuneup, or he was losing his hearing completely.

So I called the ear, nose and throat place and told a lady the problem.

"Why don't you bring it in, and we'll clean it and check it for him," she said.

"OK, make us an appointment.  It needs to be in the morning, because Cliff goes to work at 2:30."

"Is 8:30 Thursday all right?"

"Sure, he can get up early enough for that."

"All right then," she answered sweetly.  "Now, his appointment is at 8:30, but you need to be here at 8 to fill out papers."

So this morning I got Cliff up at 6:30, about an hour earlier than usual.  The granddaughters weren't here, so I accompanied him.  We ran a little bit late, so we arrived at 8:10.  A lady was just turning on lights and unlocking the door.

We entered and told the receptionist Cliff's name.  She took his insurance card and driver's license and gave us a couple of brief forms to fill out and sign.  Filling out the papers took us all of five minutes.

Thank goodness we took the Kansas City Star along, and I had a Reader's Digest in my purse.  Because we sat.  And sat.  And sat some more.  Cliff was the first patient of the day, but he wasn't called in until 8:50 AM.

Why on earth did they want us there so far ahead of time?

I guess it was worth it, because they replaced filters and tubes in his hearing aid, and he can hear again... when he wants to.

So, forget the rant.  I'm thankful Cliff can hear once again.

*adding this note later... the reason for our wait was not because the doctor was late, since Cliff didn't see a doctor.   The young woman who unlocked the door to let us in is the one who gave his hearing aid a "tuneup".

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stinky dog

Sadie got a bath today; the second one this week.  Now, normally she goes for weeks and weeks with no bath; she lives in the house with us, and she isn't a stinky dog by nature.  But since spring has made its appearance, it looks like I'd better get used to bathing my dog often.

When we take our walk in the pasture, I turn her loose.  Sadie literally lives for these times.  She gets to choose where she pees or poops.  Oh, the freedom!  She can chase birds and squirrels and scare up wild turkeys.  She can sniff whenever and wherever she wants, for as long as she wants. 

And she can roll.

There is something terrible-smelling in the woods... I don't know what it is, it smells like nothing else in the world... that Sadie has rolled in twice this week.  It's pungent, and it's awful:  I'd almost say it's worse-smelling than carrion, which she also enjoys rolling in.  If I see her at a distance on her back, rolling vigorously, I yell "no", and she stops.  But she's out of my sight a lot, back there.

So it looks like, unless Sadie somehow figures out that the stink is the direct cause of the hated bath she gets later, I'm going to have the most-frequently-bathed dog in the county.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday Photo Shoot: Working Outside

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of people working outside. Because now the weather's right for it (mostly). If you have a photo in your archives of people working outside, that works too.

No problem John; I went outside and found Cliff working in the garden; I guess Travis is supervising.

(P.S.  For pictures of me working Libby in the round pen today, click HERE.)

If you play along, be sure and leave the link to your entry over at By The Way.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Meme from Robin, Toonguy, and who knows who else

Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following... They MUST be real places, names, things...

NOTHING made up! If you can't think of anything, skip it.

You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

Your Name:  Donna 

Famous Music artist/group: Doc Watson (or if it's last name, Iris Dement)

3 letter word:  dog 

Gift/present:  Duroc boar (I really did get one for my birthday one time, from Cliff.)

Vehicle:  Dodge

TV Show:  Dog Whisperer 

Country:  Dominican Republic

Boy's Name:  Darryl

Girl's Name:  Denise 

Alcoholic drink:  Daiquiri 

Occupation:  Disc Maker (that's Cliff's job description)

Flower:  dandelions

Celebrity:  Donald Trump

Food:  dumplings 

Reason for Being Late:  delayed 

Something You Shout:  "Dog!!!  it's a dog!!!"  (this makes my dog, Sadie, go wild.)


First night at the cabin this year

I ate supper here at the house, then mentioned the word "cabin" to Sadie.  Like Mandy, Sadie loves to go back thereDo not mention "cabin" or "walk" to Sadie unless you want to see her go into a frenzy of circling and whining.  No sooner had I said the word when my neighbor, Diane, called.  So I was left talking to her with a dog crying behind me.  I asked her if she knew who bought the ghost farm, and she informed me her two nephews are the new owners.  She doesn't know if they have any plans for the place. 

Here's shot taken at the farm a few days ago, looking north toward the river bottom.

I turned on the CD player, which had my Native American music CD already in it, and set about making a campfire; the atmosphere isn't quite right unless I have a fire and Indian music going.  I'll admit to taking a bit of a risk with the fire:  it was windy, and dead leaves are everywhere.  But I watched it closely and kept water handy.  And doused it when I went to bed.

Sadie is afraid of fire, so she refused to come around to the front of the cabin.  By 7 o'clock, she was ready to go to bed.  She parked herself on the sleeping bag as soon as I let her inside the cabin, and later when I joined her, she insisted on sleeping on my legs all night.

As night fell, I switched the music on my battery-operated CD player to a capella hymns that take me back to my childhood.  Songs like "Oh Why Not Tonight" and "There's a Stranger At The Door" that nobody ever sings any more.

After watching a peaceful sunset, I joined Sadie on the air mattress and had a nice, dreamless sleep.  (Don't you just love that gnarled old tree on the right?)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

My no-computer day, and other stuff

You'll find a report on my shut-down day HERE.  I made it just fine, and did not turn my computer on even once

Robin asked about the burning of the ghost farm.  It was a deliberate fire; the new owners may have plans for the property, and those old run-down buildings, as fascinating as they were to me, were a hazard.  There were at least a dozen sheds of various sizes.  I took pictures of most of them just last week.  Here's an example:

If kids got in there messing around, they could have gotten hurt.  Not to mention the fact that vacant, run-down buildings  harbor rats and other varmints.

I rode past the place
yesterday when it was really blazing, but Blue had no intention of approaching a snapping, popping, roaring blaze.  So I took pictures this morning; he didn't mind the smoke and smoldering ashes at all.

goodbye, Ghost Farm

One of my favorite haunts, on my horseback rides to the river, has been the Ghost farm.  That link takes you back to autumn of 2004, when I first discovered it.

I remember when old Mrs. Danner lived in this house.  Her son , who inherited the place upon her death, died of cancer last year.

I loved looking at the old buildings, wondering what sort of creatures they used to shelter.

Blue would stand patiently while I got down on hands and knees to photograph something special.

Like this broken teacup in the leaves:

Today, here's what the ghost farmhouse looks like:

Every shed, every building, has been burned.

Two things make me feel somewhat better:  On a recent trip to the ghost farm, I decided to bring the teacup home and put it in my cabin in the woods.  Happy memories.

And Old Mrs.  Danner's forsythia still blooms beside the road.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Especially for my daughter and my son

Dear children, my precious babies:

Your daddy and I are going to die.  Count on it.  Life will go on for both of you; and your children, too.  Trust me on this.  My parents died.  Cliff's parents died.  Our lives did not end with theirs, and we've enjoyed living right up to this day; we intend to enjoy tomorrow, too.

It's OK.  I'll be haunting both of you after I die.  You'll think it's your conscience, but it'll be me.  Because that's what mothers do.

Cliff will simply be laughing as you enjoy life, having fun with you and cheering you on... saying "that's MY boy", or "that's my baby girl."


Cliff and I have the strangest conversations

I've always planned on outliving Cliff.  Honest!  But lately, my gut feeling tells me that I'll go first.  This doesn't upset me, mind you.  But the two of us talk about such things.  It's a sign of old age, I guess.

So today, I mentioned to Cliff that I don't know how the 401K thing works.  Do you collect it all at a certain age?  Do you collect it even if you decide to go ahead and work for a few years?  We don't have a clue.

Then we got into the Social Security issue.  Cliff could sign up for his soon, since he'll be 62 in June.  If he socked it all away in an IRA, would that be smarter than waiting until he's sixty-six?  We don't have a clue.

Then I told him I intend to get most major debts paid off in the next three years.  Because if I died today, he'd not have any idea as to how to pay the bills.  So he'd better live at least another three years.

He said he'd probably just work overtime to pay stuff off (to keep from missing me, I think, but he didn't say that.)

Then we talked about if he died first.

"I'll have an auction as quickly as possibly," I told him.

"You'll have to have somebody help you get stuff lined up and ready," he says.

"Kevin (my son-in-law) will help," I said.  "And your brother, Phil."

"With all that stuff, plus the house and grounds, you ought to be set up pretty good,"  Cliff answered.

"Yep, even the car will sell, since I don't drive."

Now to younger folks, this probably sounds morbid.  But it's the strangest thing... Cliff and I have no trouble at all with such conversations. 

And that's a good thing!


Sadie's a short-haired dog, so you'd figure her shedding ought to be minimal.  I've had lots of terriers of different sorts, and they didn't shed so terribly.

But I swear, Sadie sheds cat hair.  That's what you find in corners, and along the edges of rooms:  balls of fluff, just like you get with cats.  It flies to places I don't even want to talk about.  Like, for instance, the kitchen range.  I find it in the bathroom, where Sadie doesn't even go, unless I'm giving her a bath.

Today I went out to work with my filly, Libby.  I put her through her paces in the round pen.  She's getting better and better at understanding my signals to turn, and when I give the signal to rest, she turns toward me immediately.  She is amazing. 

When we were done, I brought her to the barn for some grooming.  Dear Lord, the HAIR I encountered!  Huge handfuls of it.

I got on an upside-down bucket and groomed her from that point, so she'll get used to me being up there; I laid over her back on my belly to get her used to my weight.

I looked down at myself, and my T-shirt was covered in a layer of hair.


I came to the house spitting hair, wondering if it has lots of fiber.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

I've been thinking....

I have such a full life, and so many things to do without the Internet, that honestly, turning off my computer for twenty-four hours is no big deal.  Even as Internet-addicted as I am.

Now if I agreed to turn off the television too, it might be more difficult.

Or say I had to stop using electricity for that one day.  Which would leave me without water, because we have a well and an electric pump.  Ewww, no flushing.

But hey... only turning off the computer?  No big deal.

If it doesn't rain, I have a horse to ride, a motorcycle to ride with Cliff, even a cabin to which I can retreat. 

If it should rain, I have books to read and (if worse comes to worse) a house I could clean. 
And a guitar to strum.

What's the big deal?

I double-dog-dare you to try it.

Shutdown Day

This Saturday is Shutdown Day, the time when those who wish to participate will shut down their computers for 24 hours.  I do intend to take part, although this means my chief source of music will be silenced.  I keep all my music on my computer, and that's how I listen to it.

Wish me luck!

rain or no rain, I'm having fun

From the looks of the forecast, there'll be no trip to Branson this weekend.  I'm enjoying horses so much right now, I'm not too worried about it.

My grandson Arick comes out about every other evening after work to ride the paint horse that recently unloaded him; he likes for me to ride along on Blue.  Lately the girls have been going home in time for me to do that.  And I drag into the house about 7 PM, wondering where the time, and my energy, went. 

That horse is coming along well for Arick.  When he first started working with this gelding, it would hardly stand and let him get in the saddle.  Or even let him put the saddle on, for that matter.

I've been working with Libby in the round pen, and in spite of my lack of confidence, I must say she and I are both learning what to do.  Can you believe she is figuring out my pathetic signals to turn in the other direction?  Once we both know what we're doing, I'll have Cliff do a video of us.  Nobody warned me that I'd get as much of a workout in the round pen as Libby does.  It wears me out!

Kansas City Bloggers

I opened up my Kansas City Star this morning (a rare act in itself; I subscribed because it was so cheap, but seldom read it) and saw a feature article about local bloggers HERE.  There's another section about Kansas City bloggers, but I think you have to sign up in order to read that article.  I'm going to check some of these out later.

Searching out Kansas City blogs is how I found Russ and Anne, and eventually met them in person.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oh, you simply MUST see this!

I'm sending you to an entry Helen did where she links to a youtube video.  It's a four-year-old playing and singing like you've never seen.  I'm still smiling from watching it. 

Click HERE.

In answer to a comment

Kelly, from Georgia, asked this question in the comment section of the entry about my wanting to go to Branson:  "How will you manage a three day getaway with the animals and all though?"

We board Sadie, the dog, with the vet.  The horses are fine; in winter we feed them their hay in big round bales, and they have in-ground waterers; in summer, of course,they graze.  I don't feed them grain, except as a treat sometimes.  So they're good for a week or longer.  We have a renter here who is glad to feed the cats once a day, and I've already asked her if she'd bucket-feed the calf twice a day, should we get a chance to leave.  My daughter would be glad to do this for me before and after work, but Vicki, the renter, is right here, and she's home all day.  And loves messing with animals.

Once the calf is weaned, it will be acceptable to leave her for an extended period.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monday Photo Shoot

Your Monday Photo Shoot: It's Night! Take a picture. Naturally, taking a picture inside at night (i.e., where it's well lit and indistinguishable from day) won't do; take a picture that captures some of the quality of the night time. Also: No sunset photos. We'll save them up to do another time.

I searched through my pictures and found this one, taken in Branson, Missouri in November, 2005.  It's a shot of a section of 76 highway known as the "Branson Strip".  Obviously, traffic here moves slowly when all the music shows end.

Feel free to join in, and be sure to leave a link to your entry with John Scalzi.

Secret having her supper

Calf drinking milk

OK, hopefully this will give you the video of Secret drinking milk from a bucket.

A report on Secret

Secret has lost the dead part of her ears now, at least 1/3 of each ear.  I'm already getting used to her "odd" appearance, and not thinking much about it.

She still gets milk, but I dispensed with the bottle.  Now she just sucks it up right out of the bucket.  It's quicker, and I have less cleanup this way.   I'm including a video so you can see how fast she drinks her milk.  During the day, we're turning her out  in what used to be the dry lot; Cliff planted clover and grass there last fall, and if we can manage to keep horses out of there, there'll be plenty of grazing for Secret this summer.  Right now Sassy is spending a few hours there, when Jessica turns her out for exercise.

When a calf is able to consume 1 1/2 pounds of calf starter (grain) daily, she can be weaned.  Secret is eating that much now, but I intend to keep her on milk replacer for another month.  I want her to have plenty of nutrition.

As of this morning, the horses are still together, and no electric fence has been damaged. I saw this comment in my horse-video entry:  "When they run Chief off, are they snorting at him , or just the head wag, and trot menacing enough to make Chief get away from them ?"  No sounds were made by the horses except for Libby; when she raised her foreleg as though to stomp Chief, she squealed.

OOPS!  No video.  Will do an entry later with the video.

Monday, March 19, 2007

prayers and good thoughts, please

When my Mandy died, Sister Sugar sent people to my journal with good wishes and prayers.  Those were some of my most-commented-on entries.  Then when Cliff had his sudden surgery, once again Sister Sugar sent prayer warriors my way.

She's going through a cancer crisis right now.  Since she lives in my area, I intend to visit her in the hospital at some point.  Cliff has been informed that I'll be needing his taxi services, and he's happy (does he have a choice?) to take me there.

Meanwhile, I know Sugar would appreciate your thoughts and prayers.  If you want to leave a comment letting her know you are praying for her, it would be much appreciated.  You'll find her HERE.  She did it for me.  I'm happy to do it for her.

Oh good grief!

We'd have a chance to have a three-day getaway at Branson this coming weekend; the granddaughters are going to be cared for by their other grandma.  It would be so much fun, heading out on the Honda, stopping at Osceola for cheese... oh yeah.

So I checked for Kansas City weather, the ten-day forecast.

If they're right, we may as well forget it.

Oh, we could go in the car.  But that's no fun.  I'll bet we get it done sometime or other in the next month.   Who knows,  the forecast might be wrong anyhow.

And if we don't, I'll do my two-hour getaways riding Blue, like I did today.

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Time for a horse video

I think perhaps we're finally going to be able to put Chief, the paint, out in the pasture with the others.  He seems to be finally learning to play "horse politics" properly.  And he now knows where all the electric fence is located.

This video begins with Blue, Libby, and Chief, the new guy.  We removed Tude at first, and Sassy is in the box stall recuperating. 

The first horse to show ill will toward Chief was Libby, the baby of the bunch... my little sweetheart.  After that performance, she comes to the camera as if to say, “Aren't you proud of me?  Didn't I do good, chasing him off?”

When Tude is turned in with the others, he shows his true colors, and we find out Blue is equally a villain here.  Obviously the two geldings like to gang up on the new guy.

This is all normal horse behavior.  When Chief finally learns to keep his distance from the group, they'll gradually allow him closer until he's an accepted member of the herd.

If you don't care for Doc Watson's singing, feel free to turn down your volume.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The strongest man I know

I read an entry at Confessions of a Pioneer Housewife yesterday entitled "He's the strongest man I know".

It took me back a few years.

See, when I married Cliff in 1966, he was the strongest man I'd ever met.  He worked at a butcher shop from 1969 on, for several years.  He lifted half-beefs from one rail to another, because he was the only one there who was strong enough to do it.  I wonder why he had so much back trouble later on?   I could tell other stories, but I don't see that it's necessary.  Trust me on this.

When friends came to visit on weekends, there were always arm-wrestling contests:  Cliff won every time, except for that one time when he felt it would hurt somebody's pride.  So he winked at me, and then let that guy win.

After seeing what my husband went through last April with his open heart surgery, I'm still convinced he's the strongest man I ever knew.  Good luck Ree, but your Marlboro Man doesn't have a chance.

join me and Sadie in the woods

This morning before the round pen incident, I took Sadie out back for a nice run.  I didn't take the usual walk; instead, I went down into the "holler" east of my cabin, sat on the leaves, and tried out my new camera.  A bird was making such nice music (I think it was a cardinal) that I got the idea to share the music with my readers.  Turn on your sound, and you'll hear the woodsy sounds of birds singing (and leaves crunching, as Sadie runs around).

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a problem with the round pen

Adam came out bright and early this morning, anxious to break in the new round pen.  I had taken Sadie for a stroll, and as I came back, Adam had Sassie, his girl friend's mare, going nicely in a circle.  He told me he'd help me with Libby if I wanted, so I came inside to put the dog up, did a couple of things, and went back out to find disaster.

Sassy panics easily.  While circling in the pen, she just brushed against the wire side and it rattled.  That's all it took for her to "spaz" as Adam called it.  She cut up two of her legs pretty good, and all round pen lessons were off for this day.

Cliff pondered, looked at the raw materials we have on hand, and decided on wood all the way around the inside.  When I went out to take his picture a while ago, he said, "Yesterday I was a genius; today I'm a dumb-ass."

He was referring to Arick's friend, Lee, calling him a genius yesterday when he designed the gate for the pen.

We all feel really bad about it.  Adam and Jessica are taking it well, bless their hearts.  We couldn't ask for better people to keep their horses here.  For at least two or three days , they'll keep  Sassie in the box stall, and come and let her out for exercise a couple times daily.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Birthday dinners, horses and round pens

Rachel came, with Kevin and the girls, for her requested birthday dinner:  Potato soup, chili, and apple pie.  Grandson Arick came out to work with the horse he's breaking, and brought a friend, Lee, to ride with him; of course, they filled their young bellies up with soup and cobbler, before riding.  Lee had never been on a horse before.  Now granted, he's changed a lot since 2004 when the picture below was taken, but tell me if the kid on the right looks like a cowboy?  This was taken the first time I went with my grandkids to Van's Warped Tour.

So it seemed strange today, almost three years after taking the above picture, to see Lee riding Blue.

He had a successful first ride, and came back talking about how totally awesome it was, riding a horse.

Meanwhile, Cliff has spent the entire day finishing the round pen and working on a home-made gate for it.  Here you see our son-in-law, Kevin, Adam (who boards his horses here) and Cliff.

Below, grandson Arick and boarder Adam watch as Cliff and Lee mount the gate:

Cliff wants the gate to be self-closing, and they're testing it out here to see if his invention works.

The boys and Adam and I got in some good "horsey" conversation, and I handled Libby for awhile.

It's been a rather cold day, but a most excellent one.

Yooo hoooo, Rachel!

Your birthday apple cobbler is out of the oven.

Notice it's the same pan mentioned in this entry, the one your Grandma made your cluttered-looking birthday cake in.

Friday, March 16, 2007

So, what did we do about the horse problem?

This morning when daylight came, I wasn't at all surprised to find electric fence down, and Chief in a place where he didn't belong.  Time to figure out something different, and Cliff, as usual, came to the rescue.

Chief is going to be by himself, but not in the pen where we've been keeping him.  Because that's where we'd like to keep Secret, my Jersey heifer.  Cliff put $30 worth of seed there last fall, and a horse would have all the new growth killed in no time.

Once we had Chief where we wanted him, I put Blue with him for a brief test.  They did the usual horse-style getting acquainted, including much laying-back-of-ears and sniffing; then they got along fine.  So it's Tude who is the problem, just as I thought.  While Blue was there, he inspected the round pen Cliff has been constructing.  There was a huge pile of sand there that will eventually be the bed of the pen, and Blue just had to play king-of-the-mountain.

Chief only watched.

I brought Blue up, saddled him, and rode to the Missouri River after Cliff went to work.

Not a bad day at all, even though I had hoped to go to Branson this weekend.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

My horse's eye

You are looking into the eye of my horse, Blue; look closely and you'll see me, with my camera.  Who could keep from loving a creature with such kind eyes?

The newcomer

Last night after Arick was done riding, I told him to turn Chief (the paint horse) out in the pasture with the others.  Cliff said that since it seems he's going to be here awhile, we may as well do that, rather than keep him all cooped up in a small pen alone.  We had already discussed the fact that the electric fence would no doubt be torn down a time or two... or more.

Once it was daylight, I went out to check:  sure enough, the fence was down, and the horses were grazing in the mixed-clover pasture/hayfield.  So, Cliff started his day repairing the electric fence (not really a difficult task).  My job was to get the horses out of the plot they were in.  I accomplished this by putting halters on the two easy-to-catch ones (that would be Blue and Libby) and leading them out; the others followed.

We headed to the city to "pick up a few things".  On our return, I went to check the horses.  Again, they had broken through the electric wire.  Again, I led them out.  Cliff was getting ready for work, so this time I did the repair work.

Horses have to establish a pecking order.  When a new guy arrives, he's at the bottom of the totem pole.  It's rough being the new kid on the block.  And very lonely.

You see, when Chief approaches to eat with the others, Tude chases him ruthlessly away.  If Chief is near electric fence, he's gone through it almost before it can shock him; once it's on the ground, the other horses say, "Oh boy, there's the grass-that's-greener-on-the-other-side that everybody talks about!  Let's go eat!" 

It's a process they just have to go through.  Will Chief starve?  Nope.  He'll work his way up toward the others gradually; meanwhile, he'll learn to eat when the rest of the herd is otherwise occupied.  Eventually there will be a truce, although someone will be established as boss for the long term.  And I imagine there will be electric fence to repair again before it's over.

(Added later, 4:30 PM:  I had to mend the fence for a third time, but this round, Chief was the only one in there.)

(6:00 PM:  same as 4:30 PM, only fence was down in a different place... far, far from the house.  I'll have plenty of walking when this day is over.)

(7:00 PM:  Yep, Chief is in there again alone.  But this time no fence was down.  Obviously he jumped it.  ... it isn't that high.  We're not making money on this horse, and he isn't my horse; if this continues, I will pay the grandson's gas money to take the stupid horse home.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

horsing around

Cliff spent the morning working on the round pen he's building; for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a training pen for horses. 

Sadie and I took our walk early, and then I ponied Libby for well over an hour.  Both yesterday and today, I've taken her up the road and far from home, across plowed fields.  She's doing well, I think.  Since I really haven't figured out how to work her on the lunge line or drive her, I keep ponying her.  I figure it can't hurt.  I once heard a lady preacher say, "Do something, lest ye do nothing".  Leading Libby around the countryside as I ride Blue is my "something".

This evening Arick came back to work on his bronco, and he felt the horse might do better if I rode with him.  So for the second time today, I saddled Blue.  We went all over our 43 acres with Arick alongside us.  His horse acted up a bit, but at least there was no bucking.

This horse Arick is working with acts as though somebody has hit him in the head; in horseman terms, he's "head-shy".  When you reach up to pat his face, he dodges.  So this afternoon I went out, tied him up, and spent ten or fifteen minutes just petting his face... whether he liked it or not!

Yep, I've spent plenty of time today in the company of horses.  Don't be surprised if I start whinnying, as I eat my morning oats.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Answers to "the quiz"

So, here are the answers, in detail, to "the quiz".  And listen, even Cliff couldn't get some of these answers!

1.  What is my hobby?  The correct answer was D, all of the above.  That's why I never get any housework done.  I have to keep up with my hobbies.

2.  How many horses have I owned in my life?  1.  My first horse was Ginger, a silly, green-broke thing whose ignorance was only exceeded by mine.  2.  Then we bought a lovely unbroken dapple-gray Walking Horse filly whose name escapes me.  Cliff was going to try and break her, but every time he sat on her, she laid down.  We sold her to a neighbor, old Mr. Jackson.  3.  Shortly thereafter we bought an ancient Tennessee Walker, Old Gray.  She was homely because of her age, but she had a wonderfully smooth walk.  I recall putting my daughter behind the saddle, and the two of us riding to the butcher shop where Cliff worked (my son was in kindergarten at the time).  4.  Years later, we saw a bargain horse in the Kansas City Star want ads.  That was Lad, a Foxtrotter.  He was a real treasure: intelligent, loving, and loads of fun.   I only sold him because I  was holding down a job and didn't feel I was riding him enough.  5.  Six years ago, I felt an urgent need to have a horse again, mainly because a friend of mine had a stroke, and that made me realize that I wasn't going to be able to ride a horse forever.  So I  spent a ton of Cliff's  hard-earned money on a registered  Tennessee Walker named Pleasure Boy.  The local  Walking-horse breeder from whom I bought him, sold him for me when I  felt I  wasn't riding enough.  6.  Three years ago (or so)  I  wanted a horse again.   But I wanted one reliable enough so that  others  could  enjoy him (unlike Pleasure Boy).  Thanks to a coworker at Kohl's, I found  a treasure in  "Boogies  Midnight Rhythm  Blues",  a registered  Missouri  Foxtrotter.   You know him as Blue.  7.   I  thought it would  be nice to have a  second horse,  so someone  could ride with  me at  times.   I bought  "Crook",  otherwise known as  "the old  man".   Big  mistake,  and I cut my losses  quickly.   8.   In the Kansas City Star ads online last November, I spotted a bay Foxtrotter filly for $150.  That's Libby.  Bless her spoiled little heart, I love her dearly.
So I've had eight horses.  I did not count two that have been here that belonged to my daughter.

3.  Where would I live if I couldn't live in Missouri?  Colorado, you bet your sweet bippy.  I LOVE Colorado.

4.  Where was I born?  In Iowa, but it wasn't long until my parents moved back to God's country, their home state:  Missouri

5.  Cliff and I bought this place the year before our country's big bicentennial celebration.  1975

6.  We have four kinds of domesticated animals:  a dog, cats, horses, and a calf.  I hope to have chickens soon, although I'm afraid Marvin's dogs will kill them.  So I'm still thinking about it.

7.  My middle name, sadly, is Margaleen.  My mom had a friend by that name. 

8.  We own somewhere around 42 acres.

9.  I love most food, but my favorite is Pizza Hut Super Supreme Pan Pizza.

10.  I like mashed taters with milk gravy better than baked, fried, or scalloped potatoes.

And there you have it!

a few pictures from this evening

My grandson, Arick, came this evening to work on a horse he's supposed to be breaking that's been staying here.  In order to not worry myself to death, I figured I'd just go back to my cabin.  You know, out of sight, out of mind.  Sadie went with me and, as usual, enjoyed the serenity (and the many birds to chase).

However, there was no escape from worrying about Arick.  The stupid horse tossed him, right behind my cabin (I heard all the stomping and snorting, but refused to look) and when my grandson caught the dad-blamed nag after chasing it through electric fences back to the house, he rode it to the cabin again, where he stayed for a visit.

Darkness approached, and all of us (Arick, the stupid horse, Sadie and myself) headed back to the house.  On the way, I took a picture of the sunset.

Finally, I remembered to take a picture of Arick's pickup, so his dad in Georgia could see what it looks like.

And so, my dear readers, good night; and may God bless you, every one.

Let's try this again!

I'd suggest you turn you sound down on this, because the wind noise is awful; and the Gold Wing is so quiet, you can't hear it running anyhow.  I pieced together several clips, taken with my brand new camera.  I wanted to take you along on our Tuesday ride to Subway.  However, since this camera has more megapixels than its predecessor, I can't do as many minutes on the card.  So I had Cliff drop you off just past Pizza Hut, since that's where I ran out of space.  Hey, we almost got to Subway!  Missouri has a helmet law, so get your helmet on and ride with Cliff.

Just for my son...

My son left this comment on the entry about my daughter's birthday:  " The question is, who is watching the three year old while this one shows off?"

Knowing my parents, my three-year-old son's every move was being watched, laughed at, and commented on. 

So I looked through my scanned photos and found this picture of Rachel on her second birthday; you will notice she is here accompanied by her brother.  Obviously she had spent the previous night with her grandmother, or her hair wouldn't have been in curls.

An interesting thing I noticed:  The pan my mom baked that cake in is still in use, here in my kitchen.  She picked it up at a garage sale years ago.

Another interesting note:  The shadows behind my children are very clearly those of my dad and my mom, who was taking this picture.
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Monday Photo Shoot

The assignment from John Scalzi:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Post any winter photos you didn't get around to posting earlier. Because winter is going, going, gone, baby. Think of it as a last salute.

Here you go, John.  I took this on one of our morning walks, then never did anything with it.  It's part of the fence that divides our property from that of our next-door neighbor, Marvin.

Do you have a winter photo you haven't used yet?  Use it to say goodbye to winter, and be sure and leave the link to your entry over at By The Way.

a quiz... about ME

OK, everybody else is doing this; I think Russ started it, then my daughter latched onto the quiz thingie.  To see how much you know about me, click HERE.

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a special day

Shortly after midnight on this date in 1969, I gave birth to our baby girl.  Good grief, how can it be that my children are middle-aged?  Where did the time go?

Happy birthday, Rachel!

This picture was taken, I believe, on the eve of her first birthday.  She had just taken her first real steps without holding onto anything, in this picture; Cliff, my parents, and I were applauding this amazing feat, and Rachel joined on in the applause.

Monday, March 12, 2007

This is SUCH an honor!

Saturday we received a wonderful surprise in our mailbox; by coincidence, it arrived the same day as our income tax refund.  I didn't even realize Donald Trump knew where I lived, and now I find out he wants us to meet his son and learn how to become wealthy "the Trump Way".

Unfortunately, Cliff will be working that evening.  Anyone want my special V.I.P tickets?

Besides, we gave up on making our first million, years ago.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


OK folks:  nobody is more Internet addicted than I am.  But I plan to give this a try.

It's SHUTDOWN DAY, a time when all of us Internet-addicted folks get the chance to see whether we can survive for twenty-four hours without turning our computers on.

If I'm lucky, the weather will be grand and I'll be either riding my horse, or with Cliff on our motorcycle.  Or perhaps I'll be gardening?  I do have a couple of excellent books waiting, so if worse comes to worse, I'll read.

Wish me luck.  And join me, if you dare!

Life is about riding!

Yesterday the temperature was in the forties already when Cliff and I went for our walk.  Afterward, he went to do some work at our "dumping ditch" in the pasture.  We have our own landfill, I suppose you could say.  But Cliff doesn't just dump trash in there and leave it; he likes to keep our hills and hollers looking natural.  Besides, the county does checks from an airplane, and anyone with trash showing from the sky can be fined, and ordered to clean up the place.  So Cliff does an occasional burn, then uses the tractor and blade to cover any residue.  This week a neighbor boy, Tyler, has helped quite a bit.

I brought my two horses up to the barn, figuring to pony Libby again with the saddle on.  However, she'd been rolling in the mud: she was too wet to curry-comb, and the temperatures were too cool to hose her off.  I decided to forgo the saddle this time, but I ponied her, anyhow.  Is this a horse, or a pig?

After Libby's workout, I rode Blue down to the Ghost farm, poking around amongst the decrepit houses and sheds with my camera.  Then Cliff and I had a salad and were off on the motorcycle.  Good times! 

We discovered a lovely confederate memorial park at Higginsville that we've driven past many times but never checked out.  Someday when the world greens up we'll go back, and I'll do an entry about it, taking pictures with my new camera.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

brief cabin visit

Yesterday morning there was a quarter-inch of rain.  Cliff and I hit the road to pick up a few groceries, then drove to Olive Garden for the soup/salad/breadsticks deal.  By the time we got home, the day had warmed considerably.  Of course, it was almost time for Cliff to go to work.  The granddaughters got off school early, so after Cliff left we all agreed to head to the cabin.

Arriving at the cabin, I dug around in my cabin-bag and realized the key wasn't there.

We really didn't need to get inside, except I wanted to see if there was any mouse-poison left.  It's almost a quarter-mile back to the house, so I told the girls we'd just hang out for awhile.  Sadie was on the alert for birds, dogs, or wild varmints to chase.

So the girls went down the path; Natalie didn't stay long.  She and Monica have entered that stage of their lives where each thinks the other is stupid, ugly, and unlovable.  (Insert deep sigh here.)

After the girls were gone, I went to the cabin alone with a spare key and confirmed my suspicion that I'd locked the key inside last time there. 

I have to keep it locked or the neighborhood boys will use it as a party-house.

I discovered that only mice have been partying there.  Big time.  They've eaten every trace of poison I put out last time I was there.


Friday, March 9, 2007

a poem received in e-mail

I received this poem in e-mail from an Internet friend, Linda:

                              HEART OF A HORSE

When your day seems out of balance
And so many things go wrong.
When people fight around you,

And the day drags on so long...

When parents act like children
In-Laws make you think "Divorce,"
Go out into your pasture...
Wrap your arms around your horse.

His gentle breath enfolds you,
As he watches with those eyes...
He may not have a Ph.D.,
But he is oh, so wise!

His head rests on your shoulder
You embrace him good and tight;
He puts your world in balance,
And makes it seem all right.

Your tears will soon stop flowing,
The tension is now eased.
The garbage has been lifted
You'll be quiet and at peace.

So when you need the balance
From circumstances in your day
The best therapy you can seek-
Is out there chomping hay!

~Author unknown

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A visit from the farrier

This is Randy, our farrier, putting shoes on one of the horses that are boarded here.  Adam and Jessica are trying out these plastic (or something like plastic) shoes on both their horses this time.  The farrier had never used them before, so we're all watching with interest to see how they do.

Tude looks pretty laid-back here, doesn't he?  That's because he has to be sedated in order to have shoes put on.  He is rather drunk in this picture, and Jessica is holding his head up.

I had Randy trim Libby's hooves.  She did so-so.  Since I was holding her, I didn't get any pictures.  She did try, once, to kick him with her right hind foot.  I'm hoping she'll improve.  Those who know me know I have a tendency to cut my losses if there's a problem with a horse.  I handle her feet every time I have her out, and have never had a problem.  But of course it doesn't take long for me to pick out her hooves.  The farrier has to spend considerably more time on each foot, and put her in different positions.

a video taken while riding my horse

Ride through the woods with me

In yesterday's entry, I shared pictures taken on a 4-wheeler trail I discovered.  Today I'm taking you for a ride with me on that trail.  If you turn up your sound and listen, you'll hear birds singing in the background, and the squeak of saddle leather.

Keep in mind that the LCD screen on my camera doesn't work.  So my view of the trail, while filming, was pretty limited:  One eye closed, the other one peeking through the viewfinder.  It was up to Blue to stay on course without my guidance, and he did well.  We were going at a slow walk.  Let's not think about what would have happened if a deer had come bounding out of the brush.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

pictures from one of today's entries disappeared

Well, I see AOL has stolen my pictures again.  Hey AOL, I have made other plans.  Just keep it up.

And now, for your viewing pleasure...

Monica leads Libby

I had Libby in the front yard when the granddaughters got off the school bus, and each of them took a turn leading her.  You''ll see Libby spook a little when she sees Spencer on  his bike, and at the end, you'll see her acting a little spooked again because he's still in the driveway, out of sight of the camera.

Libby is as laid-back a horse as I've ever seen, especially for an adolescent; every horse on the place might be running scared from something, and she'll just stand calmly, watching them act like fools.  I'll have the granddaughters bring a bike out this weekend, so Libby can get used to it.

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today's ride

It was pretty cool today; in fact, when I was down on the river bottoms where the wind blows unhindered, I was wishing for my coveralls.   But when Blue and I were poking around in secret places, we were out of the wind, and I was quite comfortable.

We checked out the ghost farm first, and I took a few pictures there that I'll perhaps use later on my Blogger site.  Then we cut across the bottoms.  I planned to go on home, but I noticed a path through the brush that I'd never noticed before, although I've ridden past that spot dozens of times.

The path was made by four-wheelers, and it made an excellent horse trail.  I found some surprises along the way that made me smile. 

This is my favorite kind of ride, and I get the impression that Blue enjoys himself too, when we're nosing around, discovering new things.

(AOL took the pictures off this entry and many others; I took the liberty of putting them back, on this one.)

I just added these same pictures back for the 3rd time!  Good grief, AOL.  You are making blogger look more attractive by the day!

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I broke my digital camera

Yes, I did.  When I was in the yard with Secret day before yesterday, I had my little Canon in my coat pocket (it's usually in some pocket or other).  It was quite warm, in the sixties, and I removed my coat, figuring to sit on it while Secret grazed.  As I went down on one knee, I knew immediately that knee had landed squarely on my camera.

When I turned it on, I saw that I'd ruined the LCD screen.  I then took the movie of Secret grazing (a couple of entries down) to see if the camera still worked.  Obviously, it does.

However, I can't preview pictures now, or delete them from my camera (I can delete them from the card, VIA computer).  I can't change settings, because you read the settings on the LCD screen.  All I can do with it is point and shoot.

So I'll soon be buying a new one exactly like my old one, only it will be 600 megapixels rather than 400.  I'll use the old one for horseback rides, motorcycle rides, and other places where it gets tossed carelessly about.

I'm really hoping the same battery packs and cards will work in the new one.  Anybody know?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Ah, a close encounter

If you've read this blog long, you have probably noticed my love of folk music, and my total adoration of folk writers.  They express true, raw feelings of real people in a down-to-earth way, without all the electric instrumentation and drums that exist in popular country and rock sounds.  Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, John Prine, Loudon Wainwright III.  Oh, and so many others.

If someone wanted to bowl me over with happiness, they'd make sure I got to see every one of my favorite folk singer/writers in person when they come to this area.  It's like visiting Mecca, for me, to see such artists perform.  Really.

Trouble is, Cliff isn't fond of most of them.  If he doesn't like the sound (for instance, John Prine; I doubt anyone really considers him a wonderful singer), he doesn't care what sort of poetic words they've written.  He really likes the song "Bobby McGee", but he doesn't want to hear Kris Kristofferson, the man who created it, singing it.

And after the fiasco with Iris Dement and her big no-show in Iowa ("I don't know how you can stand her screeching," says Cliff), I know my chances of seeing any song writer in person are slim to none.

There was a little bright spot in my day today. 

I received this in e-mail:

Hi there, 
 I just read your beautiful blog by total accident and wondered where you are? I would love to record some of your stories in person if you don't live too far away. I am in Asheville, NC. 

So I answered, telling her I live in Missouri.

I got this in response:

Darn, too far away. 
(and in case you were wondering, I am Chuck Brodsky's wife -- people always ask sooner or later)
I'll keep reading your blog though. I just love it. 

Chuck Brodsky's wife reads my journal!

Next thing you know, Iris Dement will come calling (she lives in Kansas City part of the time, you know).
Here are the words to my all-time favorite Brodsky song:
                            G-ddamned Blessed Road
                                   Chuck Brodsky

For the kindness of strangers - I often give thanks
Some have fed me and clothed me - some have filled up my tanks
Some have taken me inside - of their humble abodes
Given me sanctuary - on this G-ddamned Blessed Road

It all fit in a backpack - with a sturdy metal frame
My map had routes to everywhere - I highlighted some names
I could've walked to China - I had that light a load
Nearly weightless when I set out - on this G-ddamned Blessed Road

I banded with some gypsies - they had a little camp
A garbage fire to keep warm by - from the cold & from the damp
They taught me about honor - and they handed down the code
Which I have always tried to live by - on this G-ddamned Blessed Road

Magic happens sometimes - and things will just appear
Some gone in an instant - but their memories are dear
My heart it gets heavy & my legs they get bowed
Hauling all my riches away - on this G-ddamned Blessed Road

The picture was in black & white - until color came one day
It was almost as if right before my eyes - the truth it became grey
Answers turned to questions -  I put my faith in the unknown
And I trusted it to lead me - along this G-ddamned Blessed Road

Alot of good books have been written - you can read every one
You can take notes and recite quotes as proof that you got your reading done
So many interpretations of the words of The Ultimate Poet
Who inspires me to write my own - on this G-ddamned Blessed Road

The distance was far greater - sitting face to face at home
Than it would have been from almost anywhere - if we'd been talking on the phone
I told her that I loved her - with a lump in my throat
Got in my car & drove away - down this G-ddamned Blessed Road

Now the world is at your fingertips - all you have to do is choose
Certain games you'll still play anyway - even though the odds are that you'll lose
So call it an adventure then - just the latest episode
Where you let yourself be tempted - on thisG-ddamned Blessed Road

Billboards tell you where to go - others tell you what to do
So you're left with having to decide for yourself - what might be right or wrong for you
My one and only question - is how to know how to know?
With all the answers people have for you - out on this G-ddamned Blessed Road



Monday, March 5, 2007

a calming video (or maybe a boring video)

Secret eating grass

For you harried city dwellers who need a few relaxing moments, here's your opportunity.  You can watch Secret graze.  That's it.  No tricks, no talking. 

You will notice junk in the background at the beginning:  That's my neighbor's property.  And you will notice junk (and a junkie mobile home) in the background later; that's our renters' place.  Yep, we're surrounded by junk.

I had better explain that Jersey calves are supposed to look that skinny.  All breeds of dairy cattle are thin, but Jerseys are the boniest of all.  When Secret starts eating more grain, instead of just nibbling a little, she'll smooth out and slick up; but she'll never be fat like a beef animal.

Sorry about the finger in front of the lens at times.