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!