Monday, December 29, 2008

Of The Father's Love Begotten

We had a hymn sing yesterday morning. Pastor ignored me, (not really) so I didn't get to request this one. Here is it's story. And two versions.

This one is the pretty one. It's good.

But this is my favorite.

I love plainsong. Especially when sung by under-5's using hand motions and with their pants unbuttoned!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

First Hunt

Remember this? I don't usually post on a Sunday, but a momentous event occurred last night.

Little cat went hunting. The results were not pretty. For the vole, anyway. At first, he wasn't sharing with anyone. Especially not Henry.

But he was really proud of his first kill, and wanted to show us that he's worth the food and water we give him, not to mention the warm and cozy barn to sleep in.

Well done, good big little cat. We've been calling you Four Socks, kinda sorta after Two Socks in Dances With Wolves. Perhaps now we should change your name to Hunts For Voles.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Thaw

Christmas Eve, it was -3. Today, it's 49.

Christmas Day, the view out the back window was much like this, only moreso. The snow was up to the top of my barn boots, about 18". In fact, yesterday the view out the back window was like this:

This morning, the view was more like this:

That's less than 18 hours, folks. Imagine the water. Or, look at it:

Now, some people might heave a sigh of relief over this turn of events. Me, I just sighed...when I stepped in a puddle and realized that my barn boots had finally worn through! Nothing like wet, wool socks in the morning. But at least the girls were brave enough to venture out this morning.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Yes, today is. And check out EC's take on it. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

What a neat idea; a day to rest and recuperate from the fun of hosting 25 for turkey and ham dinner. The turkey and ham were OK; it was all the candy and goodies that I asked people not to bring! I know I gained a little this week; weigh-in on Monday will be rough!

Here, today, we slept in, except for John and Ethan. Ethan had a plane to catch at oh-God-hundred. Really; they were up at 4. He flew down to Dallas for the Texas Wing Winter Encampment (Civil Air Patrol.) If you check the Cadet Staff list, under Medical, that's our boy, Officer In Charge. No, we're not proud. When he returns from there, he'll be leaving home. -sniff- He'll be moving to Wisconsin Air Academy, to work on their Cadet Staff. From there, in April, he'll be off to Army Basic Training.

Then Jay brought the JP4lings over, to see John's parents again, before they went home. It was good, as always, to see them playing and laughing. The kids were cute, too.

Now the dishes are all, finally, clean and put away. We've had naps and computer time, so we're off to treat ourselves to a dinner where someone brings us the food. Happy Boxing Day!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Go, Be Home For Telling It on the Mountain

Here's two; one for Matthew (this song always makes me think of soldiers... Not the version I would choose first, but I think he'll like it better than the one I would choose!)

And one for favorite!

Oh, and while I was hunting, I found this. Great Big Honkin' Tissue Alert!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Holy Night

This is for my mom; it's one of her favorites. Here's it's story.

Which version do you prefer? I like Celtic Woman, but the violinist's eyes might be too creepy for a Christmas hymn. Josh Groban's voice...why have I not heard him before? Have I been living under a rock? Don't answer that. Just let me know which you like better. This one?

Or this one?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Wonder As I Wander

Claire reminded me of this folk song this morning. She has a good explanation of its origins at her site; click the link!

I always feel like I'm wandering, this time of year. So many deep truths to consider, and even act on, and I'm just a pretty stupid sinner here. But He leads me. I hope you get the chills from this rendition that I did. Maybe that would approximate what I'll be experiencing in a few I head out to feed the critters.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Farm Report

Have you ever thought about what it takes to get your food to your table? I didn't, for a long time. Now I do, because most of the farm work I do here is taking care of animals that I will eat someday. Some of you are probably grossed out or even offended by that. John once took a turkey dinner to a function. A whole turkey dinner, most of which (the turkey, the potatoes, the beans) had been grown here at Pine Ridge Farm. One of the attendees, on learning that he had "known" this turkey, refused to eat it. -sigh-

But, in short, get over it. Someone somewhere knew and raised every animal you eat.

So my farm report today will include some measure of what it takes.

When I got up this morning, I remembered that yesterday we received between 6 and 8 inches of snow. It's hard to tell, because we aren't close to the measuring stations, and wind blows pretty hard in this area. Even if we do have an inch or two less than elsewhere, it may be piled up in such a way that it appears we have an inch or two more. I fixed a bucket of milk for Jr, and headed out to the barn. The snow is about a foot deep now. That makes the gates stick, and, actually, Jr's sticks so badly that I have to kick it open. I let him out for the milk, because he shares quarters with the goats and they snitch from him. While he ate, a goat got loose. That's because, now that the gate was open, it wouldn't shut properly, as snow had fallen in and blocked its path. So I dug and chipped and still couldn't get the gate to close properly.

John showed up with buckets of water. We don't have water at the barn, so it has to be carried. In the summer, of course, we run hoses. But those freeze. John's regretting all the weekends he planned to run water to the barn and got distracted instead! Before he filled the cows' trough, he had to dig out their gate. After he filled the trough, he came over and dug and chipped and finally fixed the goats' gate.

More water had to be carried for the goats, hay for the cows, and more shoveling and sweeping had to be done before we were finished in the barn.

Next came the chicken coop. No digging had to be done there, because the little princesses won't go outside when that white stuff is on the ground! It's a hoot to see them sitting by the open door, looking but not venturing out. One time I managed to spook three out into the yard. They flew a few feet, but would not move from where they had landed. I had to go and "rescue" each of them, as they would have let their feet freeze rather than walk the three feet to safe, warm ground.

Water had to be carried for the chickens. Water can be more trouble than just having to be carried. Our faucets freeze up in the winter, and either need to have hot water dumped over them before they work, or, my favorite method, they need to be "huffed" on. You know what I mean by that, right? I cup my hands around the faucet, open my mouth, and breathe out, long and slow. Three "huffs" usually opens the faucet. Not this week, though. It's supposed to get so cold before Christmas that I'll resort to hot water. But that seems like a waste to me, most of the time.

Really, thinking about it, our farm chores are minimal. Just very physical. Farmers with many more animals than we do do more work than we do. How many of you would be happy to get up early on a snowy Saturday to go to a cow barn and meet the vet? How happy would you be to help him for an hour, knowing that that would put your milking chores back that amount of time? So, when you're done helping the vet do his job, you still have yours to do? That's what happened today at the farm where we buy our milk.

One of our neighbors is permanently bent and hunched from years of milking cattle. Another neighbor used to raise hogs. He was spoiled; he had automatic feeders that enabled him to just flip a switch and feed his piggies. But those aren't foolproof, as they found out more than once. His daughter remembers coming home from midnight Christmas Eve service and feeding hogs in her dress clothes, because the feeder took a vacation.

Farmers don't do that. And you should thank the good Lord for them. Everything you put on your table comes from their hard work and energy. I really think everyone should have to spend some time working in two venues; a fast food restaurant and a farm. In the one, you learn to be grateful for menial labor. (I doubt that, if you worked at Culver's for a month, you'd ever cuss out the drive-in kid for a silly mistake.) In the second, you'd learn just what it really takes to feed a family.

And I bet you'd be grateful for it!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Html Can Make Me Crabby

I can't figure out why the video is not embedding, so I have to give you this link instead. Please read the article and watch the video.

Notice the mention of global warming. Notice the conflict between animal feeders and animal hunters. Common sense may be losing a battle here. Hopefully, it will win in the end.

Half And Half!

Thanks to Cheryl for this!

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.

You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.

And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

This explains why, while I would love to have a house cat on my lap at night, I'd rather hike with a dog all day!

Homeschool Day

Homeschool Art Class.

Homeschool Recess

Homeschool Cafeteria.

Homeschool Study Hall.

Pretty soon the Homeschool Bus will be here....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Great White Way

You have an early call. It's Saturday, but there are extra matinees, because of Christmas, you know. You dress in your tuxedo, make your cue, and perform beautifully. The rest of the cast also cooperates. It's a good show.

You spend some time with your adoring fans.

And, when it's done, you knock back a cold one. Beautiful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Get Me From My Good Side

Well, we've given Half and Half or April or Mrs. No-Name time to acclimate, and so, finally, here are some pictures of the cow I went to pick up last week.

Of course, Ranchwife probably wants more than a head shot. So, Wendi, here you go.

And, since she's going to a ranch...the Quarter Horse shot!

Wendi, that's Bess behind her. Bess is about 38" at the shoulders, so that might give you an idea of size.

Animal photographer for hire!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Melody's Great Driving Adventure

I may have to give up on road trips. This trip to Wisconsin to get the cow was a doozy!

We left about a half hour late; that's not unusual for me. Not too far from home, I realized I'd left the IPASS at home, and was heading for the (lovely) Illinois Tollway. Back I went, adding another half hour. Having realized the night before that my halter was for a calf, a stop at Farm and Fleet was necessary...where we also picked up some shavings, (bedding for Mary's goat) some kitchen things, and some road food. Farm and Fleet...gotta love it!

Once on the road, I thought, "This is it! We're off!" Never think such things. No sooner had I done that, when the very nice lady on the radio said, "Long delays from Rte 39 to the Beloit toll plaza, due to an accident blocking two lanes." This is typical for Illinois roads, so I should have planned for it...but didn't! Not only was there an accident, but also the perennial road construction that IDOT likes to bless us with. An hour later, we crossed the Wisconsin state line; I could have done that in 20 minutes on side roads from our house if the Tollway weren't "faster."

I had looked at the map the night before, thinking that our destination was about 2-2 1/2 hours away. More like 3. So, having left at about 11, when all was said and done, and giving time for a burger at Culver's in Madison, we pulled up to the barn at about 3pm. We left about 5. It took that long to meet all the cows. Our "hostess" really wanted us to meet them, and see how she was "decorating" them with Christmas...antlers. You really had to be there.

If you had, the sights and smells would have made you sad. Let's just say that this was a true cow rescue, and leave it at that.

We loaded the cow, which meant I had to back the trailer to the barn. Wendi, I did it on the second try. It was a piece of cake! Getting out...not so much. She failed to tell me that I would need a 4-wheel drive to do that; I don't have one! Fortunately, a neighbor was willing to come and pull me out.

I was worried about leaving so late. The terrain where she lives is very hilly, and I had already been using 1st gear much more than I liked. With a full-grown cow in the trailer, it was even more fun. But we had to hurry; we needed to get to the vet for health papers, and she was leading us there at an alarming rate.

The vet was a peach. She was shaped like one, too. It made me worry when I said, "When is the baby due?" and she said, "Next week." Then she said, "I don't want to get into the trailer with that cow." No, sweetie, you won't have to. Let's let that baby incubate until it's ready, OK? After a brief check of the cow's eyes and general appearance, we had health papers and were headed down the road.

Now we had to deal with a 6 year-old boy who had been cooped up in a car seat all day and was getting hungry. We told him he could pick the restaurant for dinner; he picked Chili's. "Mom," Mary said, "these are tiny little towns. There's not gonna be a Chili's." "No, but Madison is an hour away; we'll find one there." But, each of those little towns was a source of disappointment for Sean. "No Chili's here, Grandma Melody. When will we find one?" "Soon, Sweetie." Finally, we did, and angels sang.

We finally got home just after 10pm. I had already decided that the trailer wasn't getting backed in that night. But April, or Half and Half, whatever her name is, needed to be unloaded. That's when we learned that she really wasn't halter trained. I mean, we got one on her, but she planted those feet and about had to be dragged to the pasture. Ever danced with a Jersey in the pale moonlight? (I didn't know I always wanted to say that!) But that's what happened. We pulled and poked and danced her across the farm, in the light of a full moon.

It was quite the day, and made me almost want to give up road trips. Almost. But she has to get to Ranchwife somehow!

On the road again...

Friday, December 12, 2008


Remember this post? Here's what it looked like the next day;

Notice the shovel. Notice the ruts; at the back of each are 1x6's that were used for traction. On the backside of that tree was another shovel. I know it was my fault this happened, but why can't I get the guys to put away the tools? This is not, of course , just this time. No, it's every time a job gets done around here. It's bad enough that I have to put the stuff away, but then there's the griping and complaining that I didn't put them away in the right places. -sigh-

But--look at this;

Yep, I backed the trailer straight up that long driveway, parking it in front of the garage without any impact. Yes, it took me a couple of tries, but I did it.

I'm sure you're rooting for me to break into a chorus of "I Am Woman," but that was nothing. Tune in tomorrow and read what else I did!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Buyer's Remorse

I don't know what I was thinking. I bought a horse yesterday. For my daughter.

Lord, have mercy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Despite Polly's encouraging words, there is now a trailer parked perpendicular to the driveway. The truck "pulling" it is stuck in the snow. John has to pick us up on his way to elder for Advent services, because, otherwise, we can't get out! We'll fix that after church.

Yep. I did the trailer part OK. I should have been less stubborn and asked Ethan to come out and direct, because, as I tried to back it into the parking slot, I rode right up on the snow next to the driveway. It's SO stuck.

My face is SO red.


I have an adventure coming tomorrow.

Through circumstance, I learned about a milking cow that was being sent to the butcher this week. Knowing that I had a few friends who might like her, I posted it to my online network. Lo and behold, within 5 minutes, Ranchwife had staked her claim.

Problem. The cow is in Wisconsin, and Ranchwife is in Wyoming. The weather is dicey, and travel back and forth is chancy.

Enter me. Tomorrow I will head to Wisconsin, where I will become a foster mom for a bred Jersey cow. She'll stay here until the weather is a little better. We're even OK with cold and wind, just not the sloppy ice we've been hit with lately. Then I'll load her up again, and take her to Chocolot's farm in Iowa, where I'll meet up with Ranchwife and make the swap. We may be swapping a horse for Mary for this cow, if all goes well...Stay tuned.

Have I mentioned I've never hauled a trailer by myself?

I'm all about the adventure!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let It Snow!

I'm inside today, rotting my brain with bad Reese Witherspoon movies. Now, give me a break. The roads were icy last night, then it rained, and now it's snowing. It's beautiful through the picture window; not so much through a windshield, I'm betting. I'm staying put!

Snowfall reminds me of hot chocolate, and, yes, accidents. Accidents remind me of policemen. Policemen reminds me of the time Grandma came home in a police car...

On our trip to Lithuania, we took a tour organized by the Balzekas museum. On this tour were probably 20 people. Three of us were under 30, three or four couples were between 40 and 60, and the rest were over 60. After touring Vilnius one morning, we were given the afternoon for "free time." We wandered around, shopping and sightseeing, as if we knew what we were doing. We were supposed to meet up for dinner at our hotel.

The three of us "young people" had seen a shop, further up the street, that we wanted to visit. Grandma and two or three other "over 60's" didn't want to take that walk. We agreed to meet up about halfway back to the hotel, at a shop that we all recognized, in about an hour.

Well, the hour passed. I bought some mammoth tusk, and was standing, waiting for Grandma...and waiting...and waiting... We waited about an hour, maybe a little longer. We were getting pretty worried when a police car came zipping up the street. It was about past us when, instead, the driver slammed on the brakes.

Seems that the "over 60's" had NOT GOTTEN LOST, but, rather, wandered a bit. There was much discussion about how to find us, with Grandma, of course, being correct. Really, she was, but no one was listening. One of the gentlemen, having been a police sergeant before he retired, flagged down a police car. (Fortunately, these "over 60's" were all Lithuanian speakers) They agreed to bring them to us, and off they went.

After driving for a bit and realizing that the former police sergeant spoke an almost-undecipherable Lithuanian, the officers began listening to Grandma. She described to the the shop where we were supposed to meet, and off, again they went. Finally they found us, and all was well again. There was much, "Take a few litas for your troubles," on the part of the lost ones, and much, "Oh, no, no, no, we couldn't," on the part of the policemen. Finally, good-byes were said, and we went off to dinner.

But we always like telling the story about the day the police brought Grandma home!

Monday, December 8, 2008


This is Rupintojelis. His name is pronounced roo-pinto-YAY-lis. It's Lithuanian. (No, he is not crooked. The photographer is!)

When Grandma decided, in 1993, at 80, to go to Lithuania, I decided to go, too. I thought 80 was a bit...mature to be heading to a just-freed-Iron-Curtain country without a companion. We spent 3 weeks touring the land her parents came from. It was a wonderful trip, and we came back with many stories. I'll try to share some of them this week.

But this guy came back with us, too. Notice his face. Yes, he looks like Jesus. Because He is.

Lithuanians have been carving an image of a worrying man into trees, posts, etc, for a thousand years or more. It probably started as a pagan symbol, which may date to the Sumerians. It had many interpretations; some saw it as a god, worrying about the state of the earth and its inhabitants. The Lithuanians were the last Europeans to be Christianized, which happened in the late 14th century. As the Church took root in the country, it took on pagan symbols for itself. Rupintojelis' face morphed into that of Jesus, and He became the One who would worry over His people.

When we traveled through Lithuania, we saw countless little souvenir sellers, with their wares spread on tables, floors, streets, and, even, in the case of on street seller of amber necklaces, hung all over their bodies. Many of them carried carvings and depictions of Rupintojelis. We could have bought one daily and had 21 different styles, although most follow this form; a worrying Christ, seated under an awning of some sort.

This simple souvenir took on new meaning for me last week. After I posted this, I was cleaning up in Grandma's room, and found Rupintojelis, carefully wrapped, on a shelf. I took him down and hung him, realizing that this was a great visual reminder for me to LET HIM worry about me and just get on with doing what he needs me to do today.

Which reminds me. I'd best get to it!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snow on the Farm Today!

Plenty of it. It's really pretty. See?

This weekend is our church's Boar's Head Festival. It always snows for this, and our director and Head Honcho sweat bullets about it all Friday and Saturday night. It makes travel difficult, but it sure looks great when you walk in past the life-sized Nativity, through the torches held by the Wassailers, and there's snow.

We celebrated a birthday at Pine Ridge Farm this week! Kris had a birthday on Thursday, and Sean was nice enough to tell us how old she is. Can you tell?

I told her she was being Hippie Kris that day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Thrift Store Deal

So yesterday I took that pile over to Bethesda Thrift. As I was unloading, another couple was there. The other lady and I noticed a leather coat with a fur collar on the pile of things that had just come in. Now, the thrift store is in The Big City of Crystal Lake, along with Sears, and that produce market I've talked about. While I was driving there, I was musing that I needed to replace my more-than-ten-year-old dress coat, and I'd like to get one with some fur on it, but that would be 1) politically incorrect and 2) expensive.

Never mind the PC when you're at the thrift store, right? As it turned out, the coat was too small for me, although it was JUST too small and it was a size 8, so I'm feeling pretty good again about the whole weight loss thing. I was just having the thought that it might fit Mary when the man who was taking in our collection said, "I have another coat with a fur collar..."

Camel wool and coyote. It fits perfectly although, Wendy, Mary is APPALLED that I would wear coyote. ("They're just so...ewww...")

I went to the front of the store to pay for my find. AT the register, they said, "Coats are buy-one-get-one-free today. You have to take two." Having been distracted by negotiations for the coat, and the fact that Sean was, by now, sitting in on Jay's piano lesson, me running behind at the thrift store and all, I temporarily forgot the leather one. I grabbed another, furry, one, that I decided I would just take to our church coat drive.

Until I was in the car, explaining my cool deal to Mary. THEN I remembered the other coat. I was bold enough to turn around and ask if they would swap my "extra" coat for the leather-and-as-I-found-out-MINK coat for Mary. They would!

They'll need some reworking (I'm taking off the bottom row of fur and adding buttons; it's a wrap-around right now) and alterations (EC? When are you coming?) but my total bill...$16.16.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No Paper?!

The printer is telling me there's no paper.

No Paper?! Whaddya talking about? There's PLENTY of paper. Look, right here. To the right of you. Or the left, I guess. It's on MY right. A whole wad of paper. Reams and reams of paper. A whole cart FULL of paper. All you hafta do is grab a bunch, move the thingy that holds the printed copies, open the cassette, and put the paper in. Close the cassette, move the thingy back, and press, "OK."

How hard was THAT? No paper.

Stupid machine.

Follow Me On This One

Seriously. Let me finish before you decide.

Over the years, I have developed this view of history. See, I always had difficulty with other gods. Why were they there? I believe in one God, and the idea of others always confused me. A class in ancient history introduced me to Mesopotamian/Sumerian theology, in a rough sort of way. I saw in it some parallels to orthodox Biblical theology and I thought, "Why?"

Well, if you look at the Bible as history instead of theology, just for a minute, it might make sense. Imagine that the world really DID begin with one family. Imagine that family did something heinous, and the One in control of their lives changed those lives drastically. What was once a walk in the park--literally--became a daily struggle for survival. The family not only struggled with the elements, but with each other. Eventually, branches of that family drifted apart, emotionally and even physically. Spreading out through the countryside, and struggling for life, their view of God coloring their view of the world, their legends and remembrances changed. What was once one unified theology became scattered, corrupted and confused.

One group kept as close as possible to the original theology. Their story, recorded in the Bible, is where I look for hope and life. Others look elsewhere.

This is all leading up to an article I found in an OLD magazine in the doctor's office the last time I took Grandma there. Appearing in body+soulmagazine, and titled, "The Zen of Raking," it read

For all the bonuses autumn brings, the season also ushers in one seemingly interminable chore: raking. But where many see drudgery, Buddhism sees an opportunity for cultivating calm. "When we apply a 'beginner's mind' to repetitive chores, we learn to avoid getting caught in distraction or constantly seeking new stimulation," says Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. Also known as "meditation in action," the Zen approach helps you hone your attention on the present moment while you get a chore done--in this case, rounding up fallen leaves. As you make your piles, focus only on the action of raking; when you feel your mind wandering, says Salzberg, concentrate on your breath or the feel of the rake to recenter yourself.

OK, now, stay in the moment. Don't be distracted, stay in the moment. That reminds me of another quote.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your bady, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Matthew 6:25-27

Now, it goes on longer, in the same vein. And it's something I have to think through more deeply, about how life is more important than food, and the body more important than clothes. But it's saying to me, "Yes, in life there is struggle. And you have to concentrate on some things in order for them to be done. But worry? Leave that for those who don't have Me. Let Me worry about you." For me, there is such peace in that thought.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Have a Quiet House

Ethan has gone to class. Jay and Kris took Mary and Sean skiing. I am alone until suppertime or so. I have brewed a pot of coffee, and am all set to sit down and read, read, read. Unfortunately, my utility room looks like this;

And this;

-sigh- I guess I'll be reading later. Much later.

An hour later, the utility room looks better;

There is still MUCH to be done, but I've made a pile

of things that Bethesda Thrift Store will be glad to take off my hands. Now it's time for lunch.

Yes, that is beet soup. Grandma would be disappointed, because there were no greens to add. But it's good! And that sour cream is NOT sour cream. That, thanks to Glenda, is Greek yogurt. I had seen it in the stores for years, but had never tasted it, until she waxed rhapsodical about it recently. Now I will probably not buy much sour cream for a long time. This is GOOD stuff!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Under The Weather

Yep, that would be me today. In more ways than one.

Last night was our first real snowfall of the season. We expect some more tonight. Of course, the mower was left out in the snow. The lawn furniture was left uncovered. And who worries about such things, I ask you? The mama, that's who. While I did get help from one kid with respect to the mower, and from another with respect to some shoveling that needed to be done, no one else around here wastes a minute of brain time in worrying about such things. Except for me.

It's an awesome task. Made even more awesome by the tasks of hauling feed and water for the animals. Because who gets up before God to do such things? The mama, that's who. I mean, I could wake the chilluns and get them out there. But, honestly, that's more work than just doing it. And if you're thinking, "Those kids aren't learning when you do things like that," well, I'll invite you to stop by and wake them up any day you've got the guts. Have at it.

So the weather got to me today. And the work got to me today. Which could be why my tummy is getting to me now. Or not. But, whatever the reason, I'm under the weather.

In more ways than one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday on the Farm

Actually, we haven't spent much time on the farm today...

This morning I rolled over and made John an offer he couldn't refuse. I said, "If you let me stay in bed another half hour, I'll let you go out and take care of the animals..." He must have still been asleep, because he got up and dressed, and out he went. Whoda thunk it would be that easy!

We took Mary to riding lesson today. Jackie, her instructor, has an old Arab-mix mare who is very sick. She began showing signs of diabetes about 3 months ago, and foundered shortly thereafter. Despite much doctoring and TLC, it looks as though Agatha may not make it through the winter. The vet will be out Tuesday for his assessment. At 23, Agatha has had a good life, so, despite her weakness, Jackie let her out into the late-fall air, along with her buddy, Ace, a Percheron. We stayed for a bit to watch them play, Agatha gimping along and Ace dancing like a foal.

Afterward, we visited the bank, where, wonder of wonders, they gave us money! We musta had some in there, right? It was a surprise to us.

Then it was off to dine at McDonald's, where we ran into my uncle. He's a farrier, and had been out working today, so we talked horses and politics for a while. At the end, he said, "Well, we haven't accomplished much, but at least we got a lot off our chests!" That's how talking politics IS for some people, right?

Then it was home again to start some beef broth cooking; canning will be happening tomorrow! I have some beets cooking, too. If I'm making beef broth, I may as well make a pot of beet soup.

This afternoon is house chores and then a matinee. A stop at Farm and Fleet is also in the picture.

Another day in middle America!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

You. Must. Go. Here.

Thank you, Claire.

And thank you to all of them. God Bless them, every one. Here and here and here are a few options, if you want to say, "Thank you" in a tangible way.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Over The River...

And through the woods...

Today we drove to Grandma's house; John's parents' house in Bloomington, IN. I don't know about this warmer climate they keep telling us they have here; it seems as cold as the frozen tundra of NE IL!

We'll be here for a couple of days, enjoying family and being thankful for every of our blessings. Please stop by tomorrow for a special Thanksgiving message!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Does this interest anyone else? Or is it just me?

By the way, I like what he says (mostly) and the point he makes...his delivery needs work. By this I mean you shouldn't open this around your kids.

Tell me what you think. About his message, not his delivery.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Don't Want To Do It

Mary just said that to me. I pointed out some things she needed to correct on a math test. I have always figured that the point is not to get a good grade; the point is to understand the material. Now, grades being the societal measurement, I do push for them to do their best. But I also allow them to correct mistakes. On a homework assignment, I allow them as many chances at it takes to get them all right; the rub is that they get only half a point the second (or third, or, sometimes, the fourth) time around. On an exam, they get one chance at correcting, earning half a point again for corrected work, and the grade at the end of their second chance sticks.

I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I pointed out what needed correcting; among other things, she had ignored the Third Commandment of Mathematics; Thou must use thy common sense, else thou wilt have flagpoles 9,000 feet in height, yea even fathers younger than sons. Her response to my correction was, "I don't want to do that." "What do you mean," said I. "I don't want to do corrections." I said, "I don't know what you want me to say to that," and walked away. Well, of course I know what she wanted me to say; "Oh, poor sweetie, of course you can skip it. Just go off and write more of your fantasy novel and we'll call it good. Or sleep. Or watch Avatar. Whatever you want." If only it worked that way...

If it worked that way, I would have been able to stay in bed when the alarm went off. Instead, I got up before the alarm. If it worked that way, I would have found the trough full when I got outside. Well, technically, it was full; of ice. If it worked that way, I would have $500 in my checkbook, with a notation next to it; for books and new clothes. I would find a store where I could buy first editions and a wardrobe, filling my shelves and closets, for $500.

Ain't gonna happen.

And so, when I look behind me...I see her correcting her math.

-whew- She won't be sitting on my couch, eating nachos, when she's 25.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Am Very Fragrant Today

No, I am not having a deodorant malfunction. I am raking and burning leaves. Actually, that part of my day is all done. The front yard looks lovely, except for the burnt strips. I usually rake it all up and truck it to our burn pile. This year, however, this chore got left until very late, and I don't have a lot of time. So I did what I'm calling the Dirty Method.

In this method, I mowed the lawn in ever-narrowing rectangles. This left long strips of leaves. Periodically, four times, to be exact, I got down off the mower and set the strips on fire. In a couple of days, I'll go out and toss some grass seed on top of the strips; the seed will come up in spring.

Right? I've never done it this way before, and I'm just guessing.

To complicate matters, I have two squads of soldiers holding maneuvers in my yard. Well, they like to think so, anyway. It's actually Ethan, Vicar, (who is about to leave our small town -sniff- for his last year at seminary) and a buncha kids who are airsofting in the cold.

I told them that if the farmhand (me) got shot, maneuvers were over.

Now I am done, and they don't have that worry. But I think I'll go make them some popcorn and hot chocolate. Aren't I a sweetie?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hey,Elephant's Child!

Thanks for the tips! Look what happened! I repot when it's done blooming, or do I wait until spring?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Busy Friday

I'll be cleaning house and hosting The Homeschool Moms tomorrow. So, in my absence, please enjoy a visit with one of my "favorite" "people;" Achmed, the Dead Terrorist. (And please forgive the language; it IS a hoot)


I need a secretary. I really do.

From about 9am until about 3pm, daily, I teach two children here in my home. Everyone I know knows this. My family, my friends, my grandchildren's school, everybody. And, yet, the phone never stops ringing. Five times already today. Sometimes my home phone, sometimes my mobile. Some of you who called are reading these words.

What part of "Melody homeschools?" is not getting through? Tell you what. Call Joy's and Jannah's school. Right now, or, if you're reading this after school, between 8am and 2:45pm, Monday through Friday. You can find the number in the phone book; you know the name. Ask for Mrs. Koplin or Mrs. Jones. See how quickly they come to the phone.

I know, I know, I could leave the phone unanswered. But, remember, I don't live alone. Someone in the basement answers and calls upstairs. Someone in the kitchen answers, but you won't leave a message. "Can't I just talk to her for a minute?" Or, you get the answering machine, but call back right away "Because it was important."

Try that one with Mrs. Koplin. I really do love you, and love talking to you. But I'm busy right now. Please leave a message. Either I'll call you back when I can, or, if it really is important, I'll hear the machine as you leave it and I'll pick up.

Or am I just a hopeless grump?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yet Another Update

30 pounds. I have lost 30 pounds. It seemed to take forever to get from 20 to 30, but, really it was only nine weeks. Not very long in the grand scheme of things.

One of the leaders was kind and said I must have reached a plateau. But I realize that I'm letting myself slip. At the beginning, I would have one, maybe two, days in a two week period where I would look back and find I had written "Ooops" across my points tracker for the day. This past six weeks or so, there are two a week, sometimes three, and, once, five. No wonder it took nine weeks, although I still managed to lose weekly. Small amounts, like .4 or .6, but they were still losses.

So I am back on the wagon, so to speak, again. I'm more serious, starting today, about what I'm eating and doing calisthenics (really, mixed Pilates, core strengthening and stretching, but calisthenics is shorter) after my walks daily rather than the once a week it had come down to. So we'll see how long it takes for the next ten. 15 to go!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do You Agree to Disagree?

This weekend, while driving, I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Freedom of speech includes the freedom to disagree." Now, I don't take issue with that. But I do sometimes take issue with the application of that. See, I have never had a problem with a discussion ending with, "I guess we just have to agree to disagree." (I guess the subject would matter. I once asked for a raise, was refused, and the conversation ended with my superior using that sentence. I didn't like it much) In many situations, the two parties continue their relationship as before, either avoiding the subject entirely, or knowing that, if they discuss it again, there's gonna be conflict. But, often, those words are said spitefully and in anger, and people are too hurt to continue a relationship.

What is wrong with two people having a difference of opinion? I mean, if two people had the same opinion, what would be the point of holding a conversation, beyond affirming each other? While that is certainly fun and valuable, too many "affirming conversations" get boring.

And yet it seems that, for some people, "agreeing to disagree" appears to mean "rejection of my opinion." Now, that can run in both directions. The words "agree to disagree" can be used to end things, dismiss me and my position as unworthy of discussion, and get the world "back to rights." (sarcasm intended) Or they can be used to signify that my narrow-mindedness is impossible to understand, therefore further conversation is useless. (sarcasm, again, is intended) At least that's how I've seen it.

But I really prefer this meaning; "Oh. We disagree. That makes sense, since we're not the same person. OK. I can accept that. I don't have to like it, but I will respect your disagreement with me. Can we still be friends?"

Sometimes we can. Sometimes we can't. The second instance makes me sad. I hope you find ways to agree to disagree with those with whom you...disagree.
In case you're following very little got completed this weekend. I didn't have enough lids to can all the broth, but 5 quarts were put away. Straw was loaded into the barn, and bills were paid. But the yard still looks like a rummage sale, and snow is starting to fly. I'm getting more tense than usual...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Once Again, It's Saturday

It's cold and blustery today; no snow, although there are dark grey clouds to the west. I'll be raking and burning leaves later, so I'll be staying warm.

We have GOT to get this place under control before the snow really comes. While the barn is full of hay, all the equipment that was moved out while the hay moved in is still OUT. Places have to be found for that stuff.

I have to go through the garage and sort Grandma's things that are going to charity from those that are staying. She was a smart cookie; she gave away or sold most of her stuff before she died, so that part has been made easy-peasy for us.

Bills have to be paid. This week we took 35 chickens to the butcher (remember those little cuties that lived in the breezeway for a while?) I made broth with three of them last night, so broth needs to be canned today. I'm also going to pick through all the meat and freeze it up for pot pies, etc, this winter. In the past, I have used old laying hens for canning broth. This was the first time I used young birds, so it's also the first time I have meat that we want to use.

And this house needs to get organized! I realize that that will be a month-long process or so, but it'll get there. Little bit by little bit.

By the way, the new Bond movie is lots of fun. The villain is dastardly and Bond isn't. The only difference is that the Bond girl got one kiss out of the whole deal. It was actually a neat departure from the usual. This Bond is a different character.

Friday, November 14, 2008


No cutesy-pootsy videos today. Sorry.

Today was hunting and gathering day. Mary and I visited the farm for our raw milk purchase, then hit Sear's for some Land's End goodies. I was surprised, though; $25 for ear wraps? I mean, they're cute and all, but, when the shoes were $19.99, why were the ear wraps so doggone expensive? We'll get ours at WalMart!

While in Sears, we ran into some relatives, who dragged us (kicking and screaming, ha, ha) to Chili's for lunch. Again, yowzers! $2.50 for a glass of iced tea? No wonder people are cutting back on their expenditures! We also made a quick trip into Barnes and Noble, for a spelling book for the Seanster.

Then we hit the produce market. It was a breath of fresh air. Good prices, great produce, happy people. awesome selection on all the shelves and in the deli...If you live close by, you have to try it!

We ended the afternoon with pumpkin roll and good friends, when The Homeschool Moms came by. I had to laugh at Grandma's wake, when I saw the flowers these ladies sent. I read the tag, "From Kathy, Heidi, Diane and Pam," and thought, "What beautiful flowers. I wonder who those ladies are?" Well, I don't think of them by name. They're just The Homeschool Moms! We had a good talk and the kids played hard. Only a few bruises, so it was a good day!

We're ending it at the movies. John called and asked me for a date, to see Quantum of Solace. Since Mary wants to go, too, it'll be a lot like when we dated, and my best friend would tag along. My favorite guy in the seat next to me, and that hunky Daniel Craig on the screen...What a great end to a fun day!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Indian Invasion!

Today I was visited by a small Indian. He really IS a Native American, having been born here and all.

He then made a probably-politically-incorrect video.

Ain't preschool grand?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Looper Gathering

They come from far and wide, on an erratic but happy schedule. Their only intention is mass intake of food and just plain "seein' ya."

As they are, technically, home educators, Seanster was, technically, being home educated. At Flatlanders.

The ladies in the first picture are, from left to right, from Texas, Nebraska and Ohio. In the second picture, the lady holding the baby is from Wyoming, and the lady to her left is from western Illinois.

Chicken pesto paninis, handmade potato chips and good friends. That's what I'm talkin' about!

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's been a long week.

It started with that awful phone call. Then I went to meet my aunt and cousins at the rehab center where Grandma died. We went to the funeral home to make arrangements, ending up with no less than 7 family members meeting with the director! The basic decisions were not difficult; spelling her parents' names for the director was! She was the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants; you try spelling Victor Dovidaitis and Agota Mikalauskas! But it was good; it made for some laughter at a tough time.

There were flowers to buy, calls to be made, and Pastor to contact. The wake and service were both held at our church, where she had been attending with us. The music and service were wonderful; simple and sweet. The sermon was all about what God has done for us through Jesus; comforting. We ended the day with lunch at a restaurant, and then a few hours at our house. I didn't think that much Bailey's existed in this world... It seems to be a tradition for our family; say goodbye, then have a quiet but relaxing party.

I have felt guilty this week because I actually shed very few tears. Times of extreme fatigue let me know that I really was feeling the emotions, but no tears. And really, there was no need for them. I am happy for her.

She knew her time was short; she said good bye to John and I on Saturday,
thanking John for being so good to her and telling us to be good to each
other. She was ready. She knew her Lord, and was even witnessing at the
rehab center! Another resident, obviously deep in Alzheimer's, was having lunch with her one day and kept repeating, "I'm not dead. I'm alive. But those people out there act like I'm dead. Maybe I should just pretend to be dead. Do you think I should?"

"No," Grandma said. "God will tell you when it's time for you to die." The other lady said, "Yes. Yes" and became very calm. It was beautiful to see.

She was so active right until the stroke that I really don't think she would have liked living in the condition she was in for an extended period of time.

So, I am happy for her, sad for us.

She lived 96 years; 96! Who gets to be 96? She traveled, spoke foreign
languages, and had a family who were crazy about her. She got her GED at
the age of 70 (her dad told her in the 1920's that there was "no reason for
a girl to go to high school to learn about cleaning and taking care of
babies,) and continued to college. She was 2 classes away from an
Associates' degree, but didn't feel up to taking them anymore. She swam
hundreds of miles a year until she was 92. Swimming, travel, gardening and
her family were her loves.

It's been a tough week. But I know I can say this.

See you later, Grandma.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

Four years ago, on the morning after election day, I set out for a 7 hour drive. At that time, I was making that round trip about every 6 weeks to buy organic feed for our animals. The route took me right up through Wisconsin, past the capital of the state. As this was in our old truck, equipped with a simple AM/FM radio, I had really only one consistent choice for radio listening. Wisconsin Public Radio being less than open-minded in it's programming, (is that graceful?) it was interesting listening that day. (Blood pressures were running high in Wisconsin, if the callers that day were any kind of representative sample.)

I hope that my friends and family will join me in taking a vow already taken by my friend (Can I call you that, Evan?) Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. Not only will it keep our country peaceful and civil, it'll keep us physically healthy, too.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thank You For Your Prayers

Thank you very much. Grandma passed away around noon today. I will write more about it, but not today.

Prayer Request

Grandma is not doing well. Family is coming from Florida, and decisions are having to be made. Please pray for strength and guidance.
And thanks for letting me use my blog for this!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Report

Today has been hectic and frazzled, hence the AFTER report rather than the BEFORE.

Hay has been purchased and unloaded into our loft. Now we just need to fill Alphonse, our outside-the-barn hay storage tent. The name? Well, we have "the chicken coop," "the barn," "the lawn mower shed," and "the garden shed." We shoulda called it "the hay tent," but we were dicey about calling it a tent, (although it is) and someone who had been reading something said, "Let's call it Alphonse." Must have been after some literary character, but the name has stuck. This year Alphonse has needed some repair and maintenance, so that's been being done. Just in time, because we really needed to get hay in there!

Mary had a riding lesson, and was offered a horse. She looks lovely, but there were enough questions about her to cause Mary's instructor, Jackie, to say, "Take a pass." There's another horse out there.

We visited Grandma. She's not doing well, and we're worried about her. If I hear one more person say some permutation of, "Well, you can't get your hopes too high. She is 96," I think I'll cause bodily harm. But we were able to have a short conversation, and I cleaned up her nails a bit. She likes them neat and tidy.

John and Mary took Arya, her yearling doe, off for a "date." Yes, it's that time of year, when the daylight shortens and the thoughts of goats turn to reproduction. Arya woke up today in full heat, so she's off to Mrs. Landeck's barn for a rendezvous. We'll be looking for kids at the first of April.

I'm trying to continue the process of getting the house under control. Two weeks of being torn up to put in the flooring took it's toll. Not to mention that I realized, in the chaos, that we were more than well-stocked with toys. I'm trying to weed through them and whittle us down to about 10 "classic toys." That should be good for the JP4lings, don't you think? But it does seem like an impossible task right now.

Dinner is up for grabs. I had planned on having Kris and Sean over, (Jay is at drill and the JP4lings are with mom this weekend) but John and Mary aren't going to be back in time for a nice dinner, so we're postponing it until tomorrow. And with that, I think I'll head off for more toy sorting.

I'll see you Monday!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Praise Be To God

Another one comes home.

That would be my church, my grandchildren's school, and one terrific chaplain.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I wish you could have been there.

We took the Girl Scouts to Cody's Farm today. We had a presentation on what the farmers do all year, a snack with apple cider, a hayride, a walk through the corn maze, and each child picked a pumpkin. ANY pumpkin they wanted, regardless of long as they could carry it. (All for 5 bucks each)

What enchanted them the most was the Hereford herd (say that fast ten times!) When Cody called them to the fence for "interaction," the kids decided their moo-ing was doing the trick. Actually, it was the hay Cody was throwing, but it looked like this;

I wish you could have heard them.

And the Herefords responded appropriately;

Their moo-ing was a little more realistic!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Acquisition

So Mary goes out on rounds with our vet today. They gelded a horse, trimmed teeth on an alpaca, and saved the life of a pig.

And a kitten.

As they drove home, they saw a grey tabby fluffball in the middle of the road. Dr. Morrissey said, "You wanna pick it up?" Mary said what any 13 year-old girl would, "Uh, huh." By the time he stopped, it had run off into the woods. They figured it would be safe.

Fifteen minutes later, I was driving her down the same road to confirmation class. There, on the side of the road, was Fluffball. I, being of sound mind and body, lost my senses, and said, "Should I stop?"

Fifteen minutes later, after romping through the woods trying to catch a kitten, I walked up to the truck, carrying said kitten by the scruff of the neck. It is now ensconced in the back of our pickup, with food, water, and some toys the Seanster said it NEEDED.

John is not impressed, the JP4lings are over the moon, and Mary is bummed, because it may go to their home instead of ours. The Name Game has begun. Sean wants Fluffy, as do the girls. Mary wants Pedro. Kris wants Elvis. JP4ling#3 wants Queen Fluffy.

I'm holding out for Gigantor, King of the Wilderness. But that might not do.

Because we don't know what gender it is yet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Revels Are Now Ended

For about 5 years, I have been taking my kids to Milwaukee Shakespeare, a non-profit theatre company, and the only one (in Milwaukee) devoted exclusively to the presentation of Shakespeare. Among the plays we saw were Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, and, over the past three years, the Richard II-Henry IV cycle, which was to end this year with our favorite play, Henry V.

We saw plays in small auditoriums, listened to actors describe their work to students ranging in age from 5th grade through high school, participated in a terrific acting workshop, (where Ethan and I learned some fun stage fighting) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Alas, we few, we happy few, were not enough to keep such a production company functioning. Their major source of funding pulled all financial support from Milwaukee Shakespeare. From a press release dated today;

October 28, 2008 - Milwaukee Shakespeare is closing its doors due to lack of available funding.

Despite generous support from private and public local, state and national foundations and granting organizations such as UPAF and the NEA, the company’s primary source of operating funds is the Argosy Foundation. Due to the current financial climate, the Argosy Foundation has eliminated support from Milwaukee Shakespeare in order to put itself in the best position to continue to grow and support the community in the future. For this reason, Milwaukee Shakespeare cannot continue its season as planned. While ticket sales have been at a record level so far this season, ticket income only provides a fraction of what it costs to keep a non-profit theatre company running. Milwaukee Shakespeare has been actively seeking and achieving outside support, but the growth has not been sufficient to withstand this loss in its primary source of funding.

Milwaukee Shakespeare has been honored to produce in such a theatrically rich city and proud of the productions they’ve done over the past nine seasons. The Milwaukee Shakespeare board and staff will begin working this week to determine the best way to close down the company’s operations.

For any questions regarding Argosy, please contact the foundation directly.

I literally want to cry. We saw these plays at $6 a seat. Chicago Shakespeare, which is actually closer, has "cheap" seats available at $48. And this was not cheap theatre. This was the real deal, well done, thoroughly entertaining and educational. People like Shylock, Brutus, and Harry became members of our family. And so,

You do look, my son, in a moved sort,

As if you were dismayed. Be cheerful, sir.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air;

And—like the baseless fabric of this vision—

The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep…

We wish your peace.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reformation Day

My favorite version. I haven't sung it since I left the ELCA. One thing I believe the LCMS does wrong. Oh, well, life goes on.

A mighty fortress is our God, A sword and shield victorious
He breaks the cruel oppressor's rod And wins salvation glorious.
The old satanic foe Has sworn to work us woe!
With craft and dreadful might He arms himself to fight.
On earth he has no equal.

No strength of ours can match his might! We would be lost, rejected.
But now a champion comes to fight, Whom God himself elected.
You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is he!
Christ Jesus, mighty Lord, God's only son, adored.
He holds the field victorious.

Though hordes of devils fill the land All threat'ning to devour us.,
We tremble not, unmoved we stand; They cannot overpow'r us.
Let this world's tyrant rage; In battle we'll engage!
His might is doomed to fail; God's judgment must prevail!
One little word subdues him.

God's Word forever shall abide, No thanks to foes, who fear it;
For God himself fights by our side With weapons of the Spirit.
Were they to take our house, Goods, honor, child or spouse,
Thought life be wrenched away, They cannot win the day.
The Kingdom's ours forever.

(Lutheran Book of Worship, #229)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Farm Report

Correction; She is Dr. Maureen. Mea culpa. Carry on.

Today is cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Company is coming for dinner, and the living room is still in the dining room. Floors are finished and purty, and furniture needs to be replaced. We've had some interruptions, but that has been Job One today.

The vet was out this morning. Yesterday Bess was in heat, and was, well, lets just say she was confused and became interested in Selena, our older doe. I, for whatever stupid reason, ran into the pasture and got between them, suddenly realizing that that was not a smart place to be. Thankfully, I was able to get the goat out without becoming involved in any cow romance myself. Today, Selena was limping hard on a leg that was injured about 3 years ago, so Dr. Michelle came out to check on things. Two shots and vet wrap later, (bill to come...) Selena feels better, and so does Mary.

Mary had a riding lesson, I've had coffee, and we're waiting for John to come home with lunch. It's a beautiful day, except for having to spend it inside, cleaning! A fall chill in the air, and a heavy breeze; not quite a wind. But bright, warm sunshine everywhere. Hope it is by you, too!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Civil Air Patrol

Although I'm told it's not good and the timing is horrible, Ethan has made a YouTube video of his involvement with Civil Air Patrol. Just because I like people to see my kids, I'm linking it here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Remember this post? How prophetic I was.

With Grandma in the hospital, I am learning a lot about dealing with hospital staff. Some of it I'm even happy about.

There's the "techs," as they're called at this hospital. I assume they would be CNA's or LPN's in some other place or time. They're the ones who do the physical work; lifting, changing, cleaning patients. They're overworked and hassled and their time with the patients could be called "quantity time," as opposed to "quality time."

There are the RN's. They're busy filling out paperwork, recording the vitals the techs bring them, and "interfacing" with the doctors. They're overworked and hassled and spend little time with the patients.

There's housekeeping, who come in once a day to move the dirt around and smile. They're overworked and hassled, and their job really doesn't lend itself to spending time with patients.

There's the senior services lady, who came and kindly explained all the services they offer, but that we can't take advantage of, because, in our reactionary manner, we have taken Grandma into our home. If she were in HER home, or A home, they could help her. But our situation, well, it just ain't normal.

Yesterday I met the discharge coordinator, whose job it is to help us bring Grandma home from the hospital. Since, in her case, this likely involves a stint in rehab, this means "coordinating a placement," essentially, finding a bed for her somewhere. Right now, the rehab center her doctor wants her in "has no beds." The DC is giving me lots of information about nursing homes, and I'm playing dumb. "But these aren't rehab centers, and her doctor wants her in a rehab center." "Well," said with a condescending smile, "Doctor may want something, but it may not be possible." And, in the next breath, "They'll let me know sometime today if something will open up tomorrow. But we can't keep her here for weeks, waiting for something to open up."

I'm getting the distinct feeling that that this may translate into, "She's 96. If we send her to rehab, she'll take a bed from someone younger. Who might recover better. Who might have a better chance of staying recovered. Who certainly will have a better chance of living longer, hence justifying our efforts and expense."

But, of course, we don't outright say such things.

Not this year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Am So Sad

Since last Friday, I have heard of three kids whose feelings were somehow hurt at school. One 2nd grader shaved her eyebrow, cutting herself, because someone at school teased her about a unibrow. A 2nd grader should even know about this? Another mom told me how badly she felt for her son, who was being caught in the "5th grade shuffle," that splendid time when friendships change and cliques form. Actually, as recently as 12 years ago, when my oldest was going through it, the 5th grade shuffle didn't happen until 7th grade. Another mom told me how her daughter cried last night because her "friends," in 8th grade, are all ignoring her because another "friend" has told them they should.

Aside from the common themes of rejection and hurt feelings, these conversations also shared a discussion of homeschooling, brought on not by me, but by the mom. All said, "I'd really like to do it, but I can't." Can't what? Can't take your child away from a situation that is hurting him or her? Can't face the option of bringing the kid home to be loved and taught, not abused and taught? Some moms, my own included, can't understand not wanting your kid to go through this. After all, don't they have to learn how to deal with people who don't like them in order to grow up and function in society?

By the way, that happens at home just as well as anywhere else. See; Sibling Rivalry.

What made me sad was the same phrase, repeated each time, "I can't do anything about it. It tears me up, but I can't." Why not? What have we as a society done when parents feel helpless to help their own children learn about life? Why can't a parent feel comfortable, and not "odd," in taking their child out of a stressful learning environment and bringing them into one that has much of the stress (no, I did not say all) removed?

We give the influence and control over our children over to other people who don't love them as much as we do. And then we're sad when they're not loved like we love them. And then we feel helpless to do anything about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I have been. It's been a rough week.
I have been installing and finishing the wood floors in our living room. Now, I tried to take photos, because I know how you wait with bated breath for my photoessays. But I had misplaced my usual camera, and, being a creature of habit, didn't know how to get the photos from the replacement camera, through my computer, to this blog. Once I had figured it out, I had other things on my mind.
Grandma had a stroke yesterday. While she terrified us, it turned out to be relatively mild, and her doctor is very optimistic about her prognosis. I'll tell you what I know as I know it, you know?
And now I must get back to varnishing. I use a fleece-type applicator on a broom-length pole, drawing it across the floor to apply the varnish. Think Venetian gondolier, in flannel shirt and jeans, in a smelly room. Yeah, that's about it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh. My. Good. Word.

And I thought I didn't have time for deep thinking....Thanks to senorsock for the heads up, and please be patient. It takes some time to load all the gadgets and gizmos.
And, no, I never thought I'd agree with this guy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some Thoughts

Bear with me. With upwards of 10 people to feed, clothe and keep happy around here (the actual number varying widely, and often changing mid-day) I don't really have the time for deep thinking. But I have been tossing some ideas around in my head, and I thought I'd let them out.

About this pro-life thing. I've been thinking that I'm not sure the movement is taking the right tack. I mean, babies are cute and lovely and I'd have 5 more if I could, but this is not a generation that gives a rip about someone else. If they can't be reached by showing life in the womb, by describing the horrific ways in which women who have "made a mistake" are kept from "being punished by a baby," then it needs to be made more personal.

Perhaps a discussion could be started about end-of-life issues. We already discuss euthanasia, and how "it should be available for those who want it." How about those who DON'T. What happens to those who age less than gracefully and find themselves to be "non-contributing members of society?" What happens when (not if) society comes to the point of totaling up medical costs, labor, energy, etc, to "keep these people alive?" What happens when (not if) it comes down to minimal resources TO keep "non-contributing members of society" alive?

I have been thinking that, if we let the pro-choice folks have their way, it's only a matter of time before we look to our elderly as burdens. Heck, we already do. I see that first-hand. It's only a matter of time before we decide that no one should be "punished" by having to take care of Grandma when they'd rather be spending their middle age years traveling and having fun. It's only a matter of time till we try to convince Grandpa that he really doesn't want his money pumped into the medical industry, does he, and he could save a lot by talking to Dr. Kevorkian now.

And it's only a matter of time before we are old enough that we'll be the Grandma or Grandpa.

Please don't start with me about how we're too caring for such things. About how no one would be forced to do something they didn't want to do. Talk to me sometime about how many of my personal friends have been abused by physicians who didn't want to care for them through high-risk pregnancies, and even pregnancies where defects were identified and moms were told it was "their child's right" to not have to live "like that." Let's have that conversation someday.

If you can't support pro-life initiatives because a precious little child, who may be destined for greatness, will meet his or her death by suction or saline or some other monstrosity, do it for yourself. Do it for the day when you will be strapped to a gurney and told to say a permanent goodbye to those you love. 'Cause it's coming.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Again!

I gotta get an imagination...that title auto-filled! I've used it before.

This week was Farmer John's week of vacation. Every fall we try to take a week and organize things for the winter. This year it was an abject failure. We started by tearing out our ancient, stained and vile-smelling living room carpet. I just couldn't be cooped up with that thing for an entire winter again. So now my living room looks like this;

I will say, this house was built 40 years ago, when they used actual wood for the plywood for floors.

We toyed with just varnishing the plywood and waiting until spring to worry about putting in a real floor, but let's just say our terriers had other issues besides running away. Hence the stained carpet...and plywood. So we were going with Plan B, painting the floor. We were resigned to living with Sandy Beige floors for a few months.
But then, we were out shopping, and found a deal we couldn't refuse. And so, now my front hallway looks like this;

21 boxes of unfinished red oak flooring. Yee-haw! I love sawdust and polyurethane! Even more...I love what the floors look like when it's all over. The thing is, other couples would have organized this better. Other couples would have bought the flooring at the beginning of the week off, not at the end. Then they could have done the installation over the course of the week, not in little bits in the evenings or on the weekends. But not John and I. Oh, no, we LIKE chaos in our life.

That's why we're having a garage sale today.

And this is what passes for "life in the fast lane" on the farm!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Conversationally Speaking...

Ethan participated in a conversation at his last National Guard drill. Participants were himself, another private, and a staff sergeant who is a medic, has been for 35 years. For those not militarily blessed, here's a glossary; MOS=job in the Army, 64-W=the designation for combat medic, and 11B (also called 11-Boomer here)= the designation for infantryman.
I'm sharing this with you because I thought it was a hoot. Your mileage may vary.

Pvt. 11B "What's your MOS?"

Ethan "64-W."

Pvt. 11B "A medic? Geez, why? How hokey is that? (etc, etc)"

SSGT (listening nearby to conversation that shouldn't have been happening in chow line, anyway) "What's YOUR MOS, private?"

Pvt. 11B "11-Bravo, Staff Sergeant."

Ethan "64-Whiskey, Staff Sergeant"

SSGT "Oh, are you one of my medics?"

Ethan "Yes, Staff Sergeant."

SSGT "Well, 11-Boomer, what's the effective range of a (names a weapon.)"

Pvt 11B "I don't know, Staff Sergeant."

SSGT "64-Whiskey, what's the effective range of an IV?"

Ethan "I would guess, Staff Sergeant, the length of the tube?"

SSGT "See here, 11-Boomer, Pvt. Peterman seems to know what's going on. Do you?"

Pvt 11B (think Eeyore speaking, here) "No, Staff Sergeant"

SSGT "And, 11-Boomer, which private here has chosen an MOS that is 75% female?"

Pvt 11B (still channeling Eeyore) "Pvt. Peterman"

SSGT "And, 11 Boomer, who's gonna have a date on Saturday night?"

Pvt 11B (Eeyore again) "Pvt Peterman"

SSGT "Get your chow."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Shhh...Quiet Announcement

Tomorrow is Farmer John's birthday. His birthday has a 9 in it.
We're heading out this afternoon for a night away from the farm and all it's...joys. Yes, there are many joys here, more than there are trials. But sometimes you just gotta get away. We'll come home tomorrow.
So tonight will be dinner out, pool time, and quietness. Much quietness. Tomorrow will be wood floor shopping with no kids and not much of a schedule.
See you tomorrow night!