Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Break in the Action

MSP and John are at the fairgrounds tonight, feeding the troops and working the 4H food booth. Hey...both involve copious amounts of food and starving animals! They've left me home with JP4 and the JP4lings, who came for the day and stayed through supper. The kitchen is cleaned, all is quiet, and I can blog.

Thanks to Claire for pointing me toward this piercing and illuminating discussion of a current phe-(o)bama-non. Check it out so we can discuss it. I'll wait.

Didja love the "occasional detour in the odd weed and a little blow?" How about deposing Hillary and Bill and "their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites?" I spit on my screen when I read about "his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media." There were so many other fun references I just had to share, too. Hope you liked it!

PS. My uncle, who lives in Miami, has an acquaintance who is Cuban. (Actually, he's now American; should we trust him? After all, he left a workers' paradise to become, you know, an American. I digress.)
His friend, who is old enough to remember, says that the last time someone was elected who promised so was Fidel Castro. God have mercy.

Show Day!

Yesterday, as I said, was long. But now, show day is over for another year. I hesitate to write about it, because it exposes the dark side of some 4H events. If I say that many of the exhibitors at our county show are children and grandchildren of the superintendents of our show tent, does that hint at why I call it the dark side? If I say that many of those kids are less than enthusiastic about their show day, and yet still pull in ribbons, does that make it clearer? I hesitate to talk about it, because it sounds like sour-grapey parental whining. But, when it's pointed out to you not by your kid or yourself, but by another spectator, well. Well.

As in all competitive events, things can be aboveboard and fair, or a little questionable and unfair. It's life this side of Heaven, and, although we want to protect them from it, our kids need to experience it and learn how to handle it with class.

Two observations were made in the show ring. One is that kids will work hard, even when they see no result coming from their work, if they love it. And two, if you're going to be around humans, and bending over and twisting your body around, don't wear 1)white pants and 2) a black thong. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Some pictures of the day.

Little goats need pedicures, too.

The only kind of showgirl I want MSP to be.

Oh, and ribbons were won. She received 6 4H blue ribbons for her goats, which means she worked hard on her project and it showed. She earned 2 reds for her chickens and eggs; that means she could learn a little more there, and she will. It was her first year in the poultry tent, after all. She earned blues for her projects I talked about on Monday. The first, on body conditioning scoring, also earned a merit; one of three in the class. The second, her box, is gathering lots of oohs and aahhs in the 4H barn. Overall, it's been a decent year for her.

She still would have liked at least one rosette. But, who wouldn't?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Looong Day!

Today was court with JP4. And the goat show. And my birthday. And we possibly have a boarder moving in. I'm going to bed now, but will tell you all about it tomorrow.
Good Night!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Setting Up

Setting up MSP's exhibit(s) at the fair wore me out today. Complicated by something strained in my foot, which left me knowing I should be sitting somewhere with it elevated and iced, the day went something like this;

7am New alarm clock goes off. While the CD player included does not work, the alarm certainly does. Sit bolt up in bed, sure a runaway semi is coming through the bedroom wall.
7:10am Hit the snooze...again
7:20-8am Up, out of bed, browsing through my usual morning websites.
8am Have a quick cup of coffee with JP4, who is mid-commute. It's a tough one; he works for our neighbor, in their home office.
8:20-9am Try to get in some exercise. The foot won't let me walk, so I ride the nasty exercise bike instead. Nasty.
9am-12:30pm I have no idea what happened to this time. I know I helped MSP finish trimming the kids, and we did some other stuff. What it is is beyond me. Why does time work like that?
12:30-1:15pm Have lunch with JP4, who wonders how he's going to handle his killer commute and then the long walk down the hill for free lunch with his mom. I tell him, "It may not always be free. One day you may show up and I'll say, "Oh, lunchtime! Where are you taking me?" Lunchtime entertainment provided by Chad Vader.
1-2pm Run out for gasoline and to pick up straw for stall bedding. Fill the truck tank but forget (until I open the tailgate to load straw) the mower tank, which was in the back.
2-4pm Return home to find MSP and her fair equipment sitting patiently by the barn door. Load the gate, two hog panels. to keep the kids from squirting through the sides of their pen, and show box into back seat of truck. Load a bale of hay in with the straw in the back. Realize the doors won't shut with the hog panels in the back seat. Pull them out and try to slide them under the bales. Try to shove them under. Get MSP to climb in and lift the bales so you can try again. Shove again. Yes! They make it! Load 2 adult goats and 2 kids into the back of the pickup. Head to the fairgrounds. Two miles down the road, realize you've left the veterinary health report--necessary for check-in--in the house. Turn around, get the papers, and head back out. Arrive at fair. Unload straw into pens, fluffing appropriately. Fit hog panels into sides of pen. They don't fit, and you have no fence cutters. Try another configuration, and it works. Tie panels in place, and realize that the end of one sticks into the aisle. Wonder if visitors will see it. Re-tie, because they probably won't, and you don't want your daughter's pen to be the site of injury this weekend. Water goats. Chase goat in neighboring pen away from your goats' hay, and relocate hay. Head over to the poultry barn, to drop off egg exhibit and discuss lack of pullorum testing. Learn that three birds still at home are young enough to not need it. Helpful superintendent of poultry barn tells you, "You can just go get them and bring them back." Daughter says, "Oh, good." You do not.
4-6pm Hit grocery store for buns for tonight's burgers. Run home for three chickens. Return them to the fair, installing them in their pen. Run into friends and have a chat. Feed goats grain, change water, and head home. Try really hard to stay awake; actually, not too hard, as daughter is chattering about how HORRIBLY TIRED she is. Start grill and wait for dinner.
7-9pm Eat dinner, take garbage to the street, and clean kitchen. Head for shower. Notice bruises and think about extreme fatigue. Panic about leukemia symptoms. Hit self upside the head, remembering all the loading, unloading and reloading that certainly caused bruises...and fatigue.

I LOVE the fair.

Monday, July 28, 2008

So It Begins...

County fair week started today. We have already discovered our mistakes, or at least some of them. Chief among them is Mom forgetting to take the chickens for pullorum testing when MSP was at the Ranch. So no Pine Ridge chickens will be shown.

Today we went to General Projects Day. This, for those not in the know, is very much like those Oscars that are given out beforehand. When you show up at the Fair, you can see them displayed with their pretty ribbons and then go see the crowd-drawing livestock classes. MSP earned a blue for her project entitled "How To Body Condition Score a Goat," which also won a "merit." Sadly, no pictures exist.

But I did take a few of her presenting her "Heritage Arts/Non-original" project. For this, she took an old toybox which was made by my grandfather and repaired by hers, painted the lid with an original design, and revarnished. Here she is, being judged.

She earned another blue from the judge, who cooed and ahhhed over the "heirloom which will be treasured (by MSP) forever."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Aunt Bessie babysat the kids. She does this every year with the new crop of kids, and always with a calm, quiet demeanor. It really is fun to watch. After I turned off the camera for this clip, she raised up to see where they went to!

Tomorrow afternoon we take livestock to the fairgrounds, and MSP will be showing goats on Wednesday. I'll keep you posted; betcha can't wait!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


What a beautiful day in Illinois! The high was predicted to be 87, and I'm betting we made it, but it was dry and comfortable. The day started at 7:30 with a trip to Starbuck's, followed by blueberry picking at this farm. Recognize it?

Yep, the McCann's have blueberries, too. I was a little disappointed in the picking, though. Between the Japanese beetles and the funky weather, (warm days and cool, even cold, nights)(which may be wonderful for humans, but not so much for ripening blueberries) the pickin's were slim. And the sizes were very varied. (Say that one fast, why doncha?) But we managed 4 pounds in an hour. I've ordered 20 pounds from Michigan this week; it's still within 100 miles, as the crow flies, so it's still local, right?

MSP and I did some ridin' today. Bucky, the new boy at the stable, is our current favorite. Sweet, cuddly, and gentle, he's also fun to ride. I'm remembering those muscles I worked so hard to develop some thir--never you mind how many years ago. It's possible an equine may be living here soon, on a trial basis, if nothing else.

Got my walk in today, although a little late. Did some shopping for the fair; healthy foods! (Do Twinkies count? MSP HAD to have them!) I bought water, cottage cheese and diced peaches. There was grain to mix and a barn to sweep; lots of maintenance today. Maybe John or I will get the lawn mowed this weekend. I say we should just put the sheep on it!

Have a lovely Sunday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Addition

Happy Birthday To You, Happy Birthday To You, Happy Birthday Bratty Little Sister, Happy Birthday To You!

The Evil Big Sister

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Yes, like Pioneer Woman, I have a missing dog. I have TWO missing dogs. Yeah, they did it again. This time, they've been gone for a week, and no phone calls. Henry, the Good Dog Who Stays Home, is very lonely.

While my emotions are a little more conflicted than hers, in that these guys have caused enough trouble that I won't miss them if they don't come back, (yes, I said it) it is disconcerting to have them gone and not be sure of what happened. So, in memory of them, I will show you a video by Beeker, the sweet Muppet after which one of them was named.

I will add that this video gets as...spastic as life with them always is, or was.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Selling a Car

We are trying to sell an old pickup truck. We've tried before, with little luck. Yes, it has a high number on the odometer, but we know how well it's been maintained. Yes, it means making trips to the gas station more often than anyone would like, but, for a truck, it does get decent mileage. No, it's not dress-up pretty, but then, a 1993 pickup shouldn't be expected to be dress-up pretty. We've priced it about 25% below it's Blue Book value, but we've gotten great use out of it and don't feel badly letting it go for a good price.

But it's just gotta go. We are running out of room in the driveway!

Now, this is the other side of the story, but I thought you might like this. It's called "Obi Wan Kenobi Buys a Used Car." Enjoy

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Can't Fight City (or County) Hall

For some reason unknown to any logical person, there are two houses on our "street" with the same address. We learned this right before we moved in here. We tried calling the county and having it changed...but they weren't having any of it.
The reason this is possible is that the city of Marengo calls our "street," which is actually a state highway, by another name in town. So, there is our address, which could be (but isn't) 123 State Highway, and his address, which is 123 Street in Town. Same number, same street.
It causes all kinds of problems for giving directions. "Now, at this intersection, turn right. You are about 4 miles from our address. You will see the number in town, within a mile of where you are, but keep going until you're about 4 miles out of town. Then look for it." About 10% of the time, someone will call and say, "Why aren't you answering your door?" We've had service people be completely confused and head back into the office. I even have a message printed on UPS labels when I order online, if I get the option to make a comment; it says, "We are about 4 miles north of the town of M." We've had friends knock on his door and ask for us. He's very good-natured about it, as was the lady who lived there before him.
This comes up because today two packages were delivered to his house, instead of ours. He called to let us know, but we were out for the afternoon. I headed down there as soon as I got home, but he was out. When I got back here, I found that he had just left, after dropping off the packages! I called to thank him and we had a very nice conversation about his military service, and his gratitude for our sons'. I wondered how he knew our kids were in the military, and then I noticed that the packages were from a company called Special Ops. Now I feel badly. He ran them up here because, "I figured he'd need them right away." What he doesn't know is that Special Ops is ...a paintball company. MAP ordered some paintball equipment "for when I get home," and had it delivered here.
Do you think I should call him back and tell him?

Monday, July 21, 2008

An Update was my 4th Weight Watchers meeting. It's been an official month. I gotta say, this thing WORKS. I've lost 12.8 pounds, and, yes, we count every tenth! I'm eating and feeling better, and I think I look a little better. I'll let you decide...

I've been told my face and neck are thinner, and the arms have lost a little of their "extra room." I'm pinning my pants so they don't slide down; my cousin, who joined a week before me, says, "We should have such problems!" I wore a skirt yesterday which I haven't worn in ages, because I didn't like how it looked. I liked it yesterday! Yes, changes are happening. (Did you notice the hair? It didn't add much to my weight loss! Yes, I checked!)

So much for me. How are you?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation...

So the grandchildren and their dad are over for supper. Fajitas were consumed...Yum! Then Grandma and Grandpa unwittingly provided some entertainment. We sang. Little did we know our singing would be so HILARIOUS. And, no, it wasn't the was the lyrics. (Were the lyrics? Whatever.)
We started with"two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun." JP4 couldn't stop laughing. He thought it was SO funny. Next came "Have it your way, have it your way, Have it your way at Burger King." We continued to "You deserve a break get up and get MacDonald's!" That began a medley of Barry Manilow jingles. We were a hit. We're still, half an hour later, getting requests for "that pickle one" or some other little ditty.
Little did my mom know that all that tv watching and radio listening would translate into entertaining the grandchildren.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Yucky Bucket

I was chopping veggies the other day, something I'm doing over and over again since joining Weight Watchers, and it struck me that I was THROWING AWAY THE TRIMMINGS.
Now, 11 years ago, when we first moved to Pine Ridge, Mary was 2. We had one of those plastic compost bins which, once we started having chickens and goats and all the rest, was hopelessly too small. Now we have this system, which really isn't photographed properly. Suffice it to say that it composts MUCH MORE than the little Rubbermaid plastic compost bin did.
I digress. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah.
MSP was 2. She loves her daddy, and would wait VERY ANXIOUSLY for him to come home at the end of the day. One of their daily jobs was to walk out to the compost bin each night. They would take The Yucky Bucket, our term for the thing that held the trimmings, and dump that day's trimmings into the container. Then they'd visit the pond, and swing a bit, and, as years went by, visit other critters, at least until we got rid of the little bin.
I have long since stopped collecting trimmings. It got problematic, in stages. The first stage was when Dad started doing farm chores and didn't go out with MSP to the compost. That led to the second stage, when the compost job was passed from kid to kid, with varying levels of enthusiasm for the task. Third stage was when the buckets started disappearing, although they'd show up again, usually flung in some corner to be found while someone was mowing or something. Someone would take them out, but neglect to bring them in. Eventually, all were lost, never to be seen again.
Last fall, I decided to revive The Yucky Bucket. Now, instead of putting the trimmings on the compost pile, they would go to the chickens, or the pigs, depending on the season. I even bought a new bucket with a snap-down lid; this would, I thought, trap odors. It did. It needed to. The Yucky Bucket got hopelessly Yucky, as people neglected it. Taking out The Bucket became part of Cleaning the Kitchen, as sweeping the floor and wiping the counters always had been. Alas, just as THOSE jobs often got neglected, ("But Mom, you said to wash the dishes, not sweep the floor...") so did dumping The Yucky Bucket, which got yuckier and yuckier...
Which explains why the pigs never got the corn husks from yesterday. I could have run them out myself, but I was in the throes of preparing dinner. I could have sent one of my minions, I mean, children, but that then becomes problematic. First of all, I have to re-explain WHICH compost bin they go into. ("The first one honey, with all the other new stuff.") Or, better yet, argue about whether they should go to the pigs. ("But, Mom, there's not enough to go around, and they'll just fight.")(Like I care.) And then there's the following-them-to-the-door-reminding-them-to-pick-up-the-ones-they-
Mommies of not-yet teens, I shouldn't tell you this, but I must. Sometimes it's easier to just do it yourself, and it gets easier the older they get.
Which is why I threw the corn husks in the trash.
Call Al Gore.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Here's a link to a newspaper article that describes how we spent our day yesterday. Local Soldiers Get Set To Deploy to Afghanistan
JP4 is a member of this unit, and they will be deploying later this year. He will be staying behind, having served two deployments and having family business to attend to here. He is anxious to go, but knows he'll be needed here just as critically.
The guys are, in general, young and anxious to serve. Here's a prayer that they'll return safe, sound and whole.
(Oh, and the little guy in the photo is a whole lot cuter in person. Especially as he kept Daddy running back and forth all afternoon, between the chairs set up for family briefings and the door to the outside.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Farm Report

We had a WHOMPER of a storm last night. The power went out, making us late for a Starbuck's date this morning. We were meeting JP4, who also slept in, so, no harm done!
I was up around 3am and thought someone had pulled into the driveway. Instead, when I checked, I found that the lightning was so bright and so constant it looked like headlights pulling in and moving around the front yard. Shortly after, the rain started. I was back to sleep, but John said it came down in sheets, buckets, and wheelbarrows, and it shows today. We have standing water everywhere, including up on the hill above the house. When I walked today, the water lapped into my sneakers UP ON THE HILL. That often happens after a rain down by the pond, but this was on "the high ground."
Of course this makes chores today problematic. Again, the lawn looks like a forest...and can't be mowed. The stalls were cleaned, but don't look it. I can't put shavings back down until they dry a little...which could be next week sometime! (I'll put bedding in before the critters go to bed, don't worry!) And the air has been running. although it's not 80 yet. It's just. So. Sticky.
So, that's about it. Rain, rain and more rain. Some trees and branches cracked and down, but no major damage. We call it flooded, but I'm sure Iowa and Indiana would call it a spring sprinkle. So it's not so bad.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Visitor

Spiderman visited me today.

He shot webs in my kitchen. (He always cleans them up.)

He helped me feed pigs and goats, and carried the eggs. (I'm told the superhero standing next to him is Icewoman.)

He rode with me to pick up MSP, who had spent part of the week out of town with a friend.

And he ate lunch with us. (That's MSP, preserving his secret identity.)

And then he swung home for tacos and time with Daddy. Betcha didn't know Spiderman liked tacos, didja?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Can It Be Any Clearer Than This?

What is it with me and videos this week?

OK, remember; it's not about you. It's not. If you make it about you, well, just watch;

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Oh, good! Susan has given me something to write about today.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

Hmmm...I'm getting old enough that I don't always remember what I did yesterday! But...Ten years ago we were celebrating our first year at Pine Ridge Farm. We were starting our first year of homeschooling. And we had just been through our oldest son's first year in high school. We had no idea of the turmoil he was going through and would affect us so profoundly in the years to follow.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (in no particular order?)

----Pick up the lawn mower deck; Done. It meant a long drive to a small town east of here, to a welding shop run by the least talkative person I've met in a while!
----Check out the interesting-looking farm stand I've been meaning to stop at for years; Done. I'm not sure it's a long-term new friend; I'd rather buy more local veggies, and a lot of theirs come from elsewhere.
----Take a nap; Done.
----Finish the laundry. One load of jeans left to dry and fold.
----Watch a movie with John. Tonight we'll continue the Jack Ryan mini-movie festival with Patriot Games.

3. Snacks I enjoy

-----dark chocolate
-----Starbuck's Java Chip ice cream
-----cashews and fruit...or dark chocolate!

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire

-----invest in alternative energy research
-----build a large farm/orphanage where kids could grow up with animals and farm work
-----include, on the farm, housing for disabled veterans, who could recover and enjoy the presence of kids, animals, and farm work
-----tell John to retire and help me with all the veterans, kids, animals, and farm work!

5. Places I have lived

-----Illinois. I was born here, grew up here, went to college here got married here, had kids here...and want to die somewhere else!

6. Jobs I have had

-----ice cream scooper
-----receptionist at an outdoor music theatre
-----teaching aide in a school for kids with behavior issues
-----home day care provider

7. People I want to know more about

Hmmm...Some don't blog...but, maybe, Jenny? Barb K? Kristi? Wendi?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Grab a Box of Kleenex

Trust me on this one.
This is for the moms and dads.
And for the young men and women; write your mom. She likes the letters as much as you do. E-mails are good. Phone calls are better. But write once in a while.
And Make. It. Home. That's an order.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Zechariah 9:9-12

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Belated 4th of July Post

I really wanted to, and knew I should, post something like this yesterday. I really did.
But I was chopping potato salad and smoking brisket.
It was wonderful.

As is this:

How many of you followed this suggestion yesterday? Maybe you don't know her, and didn't read her blog, but, how many of you thought of the young men and women who stand between you and evil? If you didn't, don't feel badly. They wouldn't want you to. But, please, pray for them now, and in the future. Pray for their health, their well-being, their safe return. Pray for their families. Pray for their patience, their forbearance. Pray for the people of this nation, that we would dedicate ourselves to a sense of honor, a life of courage, a commitment to something greater than ourselves, that we would defend this nation and each other.
And pray for peace, for an end to the necessity for armies and navies.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What Up?

Good friends coming tomorrow afternoon to stay the weekend. I've been busy making preparations...
3 grocery stores. 2 full refrigerators. 1 trip to the doctor with JP4ling#3, while Daddy was at the armory (He has strep, but Dr Henning says to let him go camping this weekend, anyway, because "He looks great, he'll be full of antibiotics, and it's gonna be a GREAT weekend to be camping!") 45 minute nap, 1 company bed made, basement cleaned (well, tidied) supper finished, dishwasher running.
Time for round 2...MSP wants to bake a cake, laundry needs to be started, and it's only 8:30pm. Plenty of today left! Ta ta!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

This Just In!

Mama Hen took the chicks out of the coop for the first time yesterday afternoon.
Of course, on their first outing, they had to have a snack.

Can't you just hear it?
"Mommy, do I have to eat it all?"
"No, sweetie, some is for your brother and sister. Just eat some. Hurry up, now, and I'll show you the water fountain"
Today she's instructing them in the "scratch and peck" method of bug hunting!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


One of our favorite movies as a family is Men in Black. That's one of the many we quote OFTEN. One of our favorite quotes comes from an exchange between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones;

Will: People are smart.
TLJ: An individual person is smart, but people are stupid.

That seemed, for some people, to hold true for the American people in the last election. Apparently the only people who voted for Bush were barefooted, gun-totin' NASCAR fans who couldn't get a coherent thought put together if it bit them on the toe. I once received a Christmas letter (a Christmas letter!) bemoaning the "fact" that "the American people let us down" by voting for Bush.
This morning, I found a quote which I found interesting, in light of the above. I was on the Starbuck's website, checking out points values (gotta have our priorities for spending those Weight Watchers' points!) and I clicked on The Way I See It. If you click on that, I think you'll find the quote I found. If you don't want to bother, here it is.

In three decades of polling, I’ve found that while individuals make mistakes in judgment, America as a whole rarely does. A collective wisdom emerges from a poll or vote that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
-- John Zogby
Pollster, president and CEO of Zogby International.

This from a guy who puts dinner on the table by conducting polls and talking with the American people. And he sees us as having "collective wisdom." And, if you check out his site, he doesn't appear to have values or priorities consistent with "us" barefoot, gun-totin' NASCAR fans.
What if he were right?
What if the American people actually KNEW what they wanted, without being told by Someone Else who Knows what we need and Knows how to get it?
What if we WERE capable of thought, of rational action in our own best interest?