Friday, May 30, 2008

"How Can I Get On A Plane On Saturday When I'm Having So Much Fun?"

I said to the Rancher last night (actually, this morning; he had just pulled a ginormous calf from a petite heifer and we were all a little punchy.) Rancher and Ranchwife sure know how to show a girl a good time!
Ranchwife and I will blog in depth about it later today, but here's a rundown.
A cow who won't stand up.
A bottle baby who didn't make it.
Two pulled calves; one lived, one didn't.
A snakebit horse who had to be run to the vet.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner served, despite the chaos.
Six loads of laundry, five loads of dishes. One day. But who's counting?

I need to go home and get some rest. But I'm having so much FUN!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I've been traveling this week. EP and MSP are spending some time with Ranchwife, so I was nice enough to drive them here. Well, OK, it's also nice to get away from home for a bit. Can you blame me?
Along the way, we visited Chocolot and her fun family. I'll fly home Saturday, leaving the kids for a couple of weeks, and then fly back to bring them home. I'll be doing all kinds of fun things (read, fun here, work back at home!) but, never fear, I'll be here! I just may be erratic. Well, MORE erratic!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I hope you had the chance today to hear at least part of the President's Memorial Day speech. Except for the bird in the background, listening was a moving and enjoyable experience.
It made me think about the sacrifices made for the lifestyle I enjoy. It made me wonder what I've done to honor those sacrifices. What's more, what have I done to do my part to protect my own lifestyle and freedoms? Some very nice people have pointed out that I've raised three soldiers. Yeah, but that part's pretty much done. I felt very challenged by the President's speech to find another outlet for service in my future.
It's not enough to let someone else sacrifice. It's not enough to let some other young person give up their freedoms for mine. It's not enough to encourage him while he endures Basic and further military training. It's not enough to be thankful that he got on a boat or plane and flew to a foreign country to face death for me. It's not enough to pray for healing when she comes back scarred inside and/or out because she protected me (well, really, it's everything, but I think you get my point.) It's not enough. It's my responsibility to see that he knows I appreciate what he did, and that I value my freedoms enough to fight for them here at home while she fights for them overseas.
I hope you will consider that, too.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

You know, I know Memorial Day is special, but, why all the hoopla and what should I do about it?

Just in case you were wondering, this might help. Here is another place.
This one should be able to clear up why those guys are on the street corners handing out paper poppies, AND it has one of my favorite poems on it. Check down at the bottom of the page. If you don't get at all emotional, you are a robot.
I mean that in the nicest way.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I am...excited to report that the terriers have returned. They wandered about 4 miles this time, over fields and highways. I am so...happy that they are safe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tonight the middle JP4ling graduated from kindergarten. I know, I know. Some of you are wondering why or how you can graduate from something, and then continue being educated. But, please, these little boys and girls were so cute and so proud! Give them some grace.
They sang some songs to show us what they'd learned.

They listened to a short sermon which encouraged them to remember, "Jesus loves you!"
Then they got diplomas

They smiled for pictures

And continued smiling as they processed out, brand-new first graders!

But the smiling didn't stop. There were special pictures. With Daddy

With Teacher

And with a BFF!

Then it was time for a cooky and punch, and home with Daddy for bedtime.
Tomorrow she and her little brother will be here to help Daddy with a project I have him working on. Big sister is still imprisoned in school...but summer vacation is coming!

Homeschooling Again

Today we were out for lunch with the grandmas and the aunts. We were talking about how MSP used to run cross country and track with our church's day school, until along came a new coach who doesn't really care for homeschoolers. It became so difficult for MSP that we just quit.
My aunt and cousin both agreed that teachers shouldn't like homeschoolers, that we work directly opposite each other. I disagreed; I think we complement each other. After all, I don't think a teacher would want me around; I might micromanage her classroom too much. (Not really, but I would express myself.) And, to be fair, I sometimes find motivation in what the classroom teachers at Zion are doing. Anyway, my aunt turned to MSP and said, (conversation follows)
A: MSP, do you really like homeschooling?
MSP: Yes. I can do my work when and where I want, and I don't have to be up at 6am to catch the bus.
(short digression about what happens when she doesn't do her work. :) )
A: But what will you do when you get a job and have to get up at 6am?
MSP: I'll get up at 6am.
Duh. A 13 year-old had to tell her that!
I could go on, but I really intended to blog today about some global warming stuff I found yesterday, sort of as a spin-off from the (somewhat one-sided) conversation we had yesterday about gas prices. But, you know. I really don't have the energy. Or the inclination. If any of you are still interested in getting all lathered up about something that isn't happening, (we've been getting cooler, not hotter, for the past decade) let me know. Otherwise, I'm heading outside to plant a peach tree.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hostage Crisis

That's how it feels when I pull up to the pump.
Living out in the country is wonderful. The fresh air, the fresh foods. Really, it's terrific. But the driving...
There is no public transportation here, unless you count, "Can you stop by and pick up MSP? I'm running late and she'll be late to choir otherwise. I can bring Sarah home afterward?" We try that as often as possible.
But the reality exists that getting a gallon of milk involves 20-30 minutes of fossil fuel consumption at best. Going to the doctor means about 60 minutes. Getting to good shopping is 60 minutes; a museum or concert as much as 120 minutes.
And I'm talking engine running, driving, not 60 minutes there, back, and in the doc's office.
Way back in the time of the dinosaurs, when gasoline hit -gasp- $1.97 a gallon, I SWORE I would not touch a drop if it got over $2. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!! I was so silly. And I'm sorry I said it. The oil producing nations must have heard me somehow and taken it as a challenge.
It really is ridiculous. I don't need to rant on prices; you KNOW how much gasoline costs. It's time to look for alternatives.
Sadly, the hybrid car doesn't seem to fit the need. They're too expensive and small for even an average family. Yeah, two toddlers fit in the backseat of a Prius, but try that trick when those toddlers are teenagers! The gas savings is great if you commute in city driving. But, out here in the sticks, most of John's commute is at 55-65 MPH (65, yes, is the legal limit.) A hybrid would not be efficient here. [I would be all for saddling up to go into town, but there are no hitching rails in Marengo. (Hard to believe, but it's true!)]
Something's gotta give. When do we stop being sheeple and get really mad about this?

Monday, May 19, 2008


We have spent the past two weekends working around here, trying to clean up and fix up for summer. Normally, we would have done this in late March or early April, but, between John starting a new job and the ridiculous weather...I mean, come on, it's May 19th, and the furnace still runs at night!
Last weekend was trimming out a treeline. This weekend we tried to trim out the pond, and till the garden. Since it's still too wet to do a good job tilling, my poor broccolis (sown January 21st!) will just have to hang out in the greenhouse for a couple of more days. I don't know why I'm bothering; they're probably too stunted to really grow even when they get outside.
I did have some success with raspberries, though. We lost some during the winter, but gained more shoots from other plants. I transplanted yesterday, filling in the rows with plants I hope will be supplying us with yummy berries for years to come! And the strawberries...blossoms galore! I hope we can keep the birds out of the patch!
Plants aren't the only frustrating tings around here. The new sheep are not getting used to us, which makes moving them to and from the pasture very problematic. MSP is better at it than I am, so, when I feed them, they have to stay in the goat pen and eat hay. That should teach 'em, right? Even when they get out in the pasture, the goats and cow are really nasty toward them. We're in the process of dividing our pasture. They should get their own "sanctuary" soon.
Oh, and the terriers are gone again. Durn microchip. They'll probably be found, identified, and we'll get them back.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

If You've Ever Wondered...

Every so often someone asks me why I would let my kids join the military. I usually find that offensive, although I don't express that. Who am I to LET someone do such a thing? Occasionally we discuss why they joined. One of these days I may have them explain it to you. Until then, please read this post by The Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-
Snake. He tries to explain why he did.
Other bloggers;
How many times do you have to check your blog before you find spelling, punctuation, grammatical and usage errors? I've checked that last one 4 times and it still seems like I'm missing something!

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Was Born in a Small Town...

Well, it was small when I was born. It isn't now.
John grew up in this small town.Once upon a time, there were only 450 people in this town. The population now is closer to, well, less than that. You try to find the exact number! I did, with no luck.
What do you do in a town so small? Also once upon a time, John and a friend were walking downtown. They saw two dogs. One was a male, one was not. The friend said, "Well, at least the dogs have found something to do." I'll let you figure out what it was.
Marengo isn't as small as Grand Marais. The 2000 census said we're up near 6500 people. We don't have the scenery or the potential for tourism, but we have our own unique sights in town. Just this past week, as we drove right down State Street, we saw Mr. Levin, a prominent businessman here in town. He was standing on the center line, holding a bag with two goldfish in it. No one was surprised. That's Marengo!
It's worth mentioning that Marengo is named after one of Napoleon Bonaparte's victories. This week MSP and I were learning about Bonaparte in her history lessons. She learned about him, about the battle, and about Chicken Marengo. Guess what we ate for dinner last night..sans crayfish, egg and sabre?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I have been incredibly busy and distracted, and, so, have not been able to blog. My deepest apologies to both of my readers.

Tomorrow I send two of my boys off to drill. Once a month, National Guardsmen (and Reservists!) head off to drill. The sarcastic among us call it being "a weekend warrior." Those of us who know and love them know that they give up quite a bit to practice rescuing us from the bad guys. Our oldest will give up a weekend with his kids. In fact, in June, when he "practices" for an entire month, he'll give up, well, the whole month, including Fathers' Day. Our youngest will give up helping us clean barns and trim brush. I guess we're really the ones making the sacrifice there! But, in the end, being a weekend warrior is tough. Tougher than you might think.
Let's talk about deployments. When a unit deploys, members put their lives on hold. They stop receiving their civilian pay, and, instead, receive the "massive" military salary we pay our soldiers. Do you want to know how many soldiers' families get by on food stamps? I didn't think so. Do you want to know about the stresses on military families and marriages? I didn't think so. But there is hope; read about it here and here.
Now, hope and help are, well, helpful. But the stresses and sacrifices these men and women make so you can sleep well at night (favorite quote here) deserve your eternal respect, regardless of your personal views on violence and war. And, if you can't muster some respect...come see Mama! She'll show you how....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers' Day!

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World
by William Ross Wallace

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky--
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Just watch and listen.

Thanks, Julee.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

There Be Sheep Here!

Quick--which movie?
Also quick--sleep report; a little over 7 hours! Woo hoo! I feel tons better. Eight hours tonight...

Yes, Pine Ridge Farm now houses Leroy and Rascal, two Southdown wethers who will one day grace our table and that of another family we know. I know, I know, some of you are not happy with that. But WE are.
Leroy and Rascal arrived last night. They were bred and raised by some friends of MSP's. These are reject 4H projects; not that there's anything wrong with them, there just wasn't enough right to put them in the show ring. But they're really cute and will grow really well, and, we hope, taste really great. One of these days I will learn to post MY OWN pictures. Yeah, I must confess, I am posting John's right now. And he has none, yet, of Leroy and Rascal. As you can guess, if I'm not sleeping because I'm too busy, adding in learning how to download pictures from my kinda-new camera would just take away sleep, give me more pain, and cause me to gain weight as well. And when I have fresh chocolate chip cookies in the house, I don't need another reason to gain weight!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lord, Have Mercy

It's been coming at us fast and furious since Saturday. Rest? What's that? Constant motion seems to be the design for us these days. I have been trying to blog at the end of the day, but I tend, instead, to fall into bed, exhausted. It's been family pressures, yard work, (the ground is finally drying, so mowing and raking can finally be done!) and animal-tending (spring is lovely, but brings its own challenges.)

I would say I'm suffering now from mild sleep deprivation. Of the 34 psychological effects listed here, I have 15. An article in the Los Angeles Times from October of 2006 (here) says, "In April, the Institute of Medicine issued a report confirming links between sleep deprivation and an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack and stroke." Apparently, it is likely that the American increase in obesity can be linked to sleep deprivation, in that it effects the way our bodies produce hormones that help us digest food. We can even put ourselves at greater risk for early stage Type 2 diabetes by skimping on sleep.
So, why am I blogging at 6:30-isham, having fallen into bed around 11pm? Because today Grandma needs to be at an appointment for a new hearing aid. Which may alleviate some stresses as well!
I promise to do all I can to get 8 hours of sleep tonight.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Has Hell Frozen Over?

Today I found myself agreeing with Mayor Daley of Chicago. It was surreal.
Here's how it happened. I was listening to radio news while coming home from driving my very cute granddaughters to school. The guys were discussing the May Day immigration rallies. Mr. Mayor was quoted as he "rallied the rally" as saying, "Chicago was built by immigrants. Chicago loves immigrants!" (BTW, I had to paraphrase, as the coffee hadn't kicked in. I gotta wonder why I was driving!)
Well, of COURSE Chicago was built by immigrants. No one questions that. My own family has roots in Lithuania, England, Germany, Norway, and a host of other European countries. All of those countries have many, many representatives in the Windy City. Of COURSE Chicago loves immigrants; immigrants run the businesses, pay the taxes, visit the attractions, buy the products, etc, etc. Descendants of immigrants continue the tradition.
I don't think anyone argues with the love or high regard held by Americans for immigrants. Maybe those who we call Native Americans might not be too happy with immigration, but, for the most part, most Americans realize the need for infusions of "new blood." Most of us are proud to live in a country that is popular for immigration.
What most of us DON'T like is ILLEGAL immigration. There is a difference between the way Vytautas Dovidaitis (my great-grandfather) came to this country and many of the immigrants whose "plight" concerns us these days. (By the way, "Dovidaitis" bothered spell-check. One of the alternatives offered is "Natividad's." Hmm...) The difference is that Great-Grandpa entered LEGALLY. (And don't get me started on what he didn't expect to be given when he arrived!)
Look at it this way, and I acknowledge it might be a bad analogy.
Say you own a company, a successful company that hires often and where many people want to work. Along comes John, applying for a job. During a background check, you learn that John was convicted a while back for stealing from your very own company. Do you hire John? I don't think so.
Illegal immigrants have already committed a crime. Moving them through the immigration process so we can be "fair" and "inviting" is a slap in the face to Bill, John's younger brother, who never stole from the company and even followed all the rules your company set up for new hiring. How about moving some of the "Bills" to the head of the line, so we can be "fair," "inviting" and "SMART?"

Dream House...

Have you ever thought about what you would spend money on in your home and what you would not? I mean, besides the usual budget concerns. What would you find worth spending money on and what would make you take a pass?
We were discussing bidets on a webring to which I belong. I can't say why. I think it was one of those conversational turns that sometimes happens. Anyway, we discussed what the things cost and what they're used for.
It reminded me of a trip I once took to Lithuania, where we noticed that there was a wide range of toileting facilities, often surprising. For example, a very nice restaurant might have a restroom that reminded us of a really bad gas station. Another place might include fluffy towels and bidets. You know? But the explanation was that that part of the house/establishment might not be the most important to someone.
So what would you spend money on? What luxury, or otherwise, item would be on your "short list" in a new home, or for a remodel?
I remember buying our first house, and finding that the closets had no lighting. I had always lived with Mom and Dad, and their closets were well-lit. I didn't think about it; I just assumed closets had lighting, and was disappointed. That became an important item for me in the next house. Sadly, I got distracted by other things, and our next house also had dark closets. Finally we bought this house, and, you guessed it, lighted closets. Not that I would spend a fortune on this, but it IS nice.
I would spend money on hardwood floors. Despite appearing fragile, they are very easy to clean and care for. Having farm dogs has taught me that easy cleanup is critical; that's all I'm going to say about that.
I would also spend money on a roomy, brightly lit utility room. I would put in wide, open countertops with bins beneath for folded laundry. (Then I'd send the kids to put away their bins.) I would include TWO wash sinks, because buckets and things always seem to be drying in mine when I want to use it! I would have a wall with a built-in ironing board and ironing station (with military kids, yes, things get ironed here!) I would include a laundry chute (which I already have) and bins for sorting dirty laundry (which I do not.)
Can you tell that's something that really bothers me?
I would LOVE a bidet in our bathroom. There. I said it. If it's too personal for you, well, why are you reading a blog? After I work out and do farm chores in the morning, I need a shower, at least if I want to be around other humans during the day. I like to get into bed all clean and drowzy; that often means another bath in the evening. A bidet might help save water around here!
I would spend money on a library. I've seen 8x10 rooms with beautiful paneling called "libraries" in some homes. No, no, no. Mine would have shelving everywhere to store my ever-expanding collection of books. It would have enough room for a small seating area; maybe a loveseat, for when I read with the kids or John, and a comfy chair, for when I read alone. A wood-burning fireplace would be a must, as well as a small sink, refrigerator, and a coffee maker, maybe a Keurig.
Now, most of you wouldn't think of this, but I would spend money on a slightly larger and certainly more organized barn! We need a couple more stalls, real stalls, not the glorified pens we have now, and hay storage has always been a problem. Also storage for grain and other feeds. We use galvanized cans, and they take up a lot of space. I would like a grain room. We also need a better garden shed and a central location to store rakes, hoes, etc. It's so aggravating to go looking for a shovel in the barn, and then remember I had it across the yard in the garden, only to get to the garden shed and find that John took it to the garage.
So. What would you spend money on to make your house your "dream?" I've given you a topic. Discuss. I have to go set up a savings plan!

**UPDATE**Forgot something. Thought about it, but forgot. That dream utility/laundry room would have TWO (count 'em, TWO) front-loading washers and dryers; a REAL dream home would have commercial-grade equipment. Whether you have 10 kids, 1 or are empty-nesters, there comes a time when one washer is not enough. Be prepared, Scouts!