Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

Practicing contentment, Paradise is wherever I am at the moment. But this is maybe a "specialler" Paradise, because it contains horses and friends and elevations not reached in northeastern Illinois.

Tuesday was Farmers' Market night in Casper, so Ranchwife enlisted our help. We enjoyed a reasonably nice evening, punctuated with a quick rainstorm. Some shopping of our own was done; somewhat touristy Wyoming hoodies and a search for a denim skirt. Fresh cherries from Montana at the market...cute cowgirls schmoozing the Box Lady, helping her pack her wares while they eyed a particulary pretty one. It rode home on the dashboard of the truck. Supper at Wendy's (note the last letter; this was Dave's Wendy's, not our hostess's kitchen) and bourbon and brownies before bed.

To sleep, perchance to dream...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, Monday

It really was one for the books here at the Bar LL Ranch and Lutheran Ladies' Academy.

A broken saddle in the morning caused a visiting cowgirl some tears and (unnecessary)embarassment. It also caused an early return to the ranch house, some guilt for other cowgirls who didn't stay to help Dad gather cattle, and a pair of broken sunglasses for Your Blogger. (I was leading a saddle-less hors, they fell, and he stepped on them!)

A rattlesnake encounter on an afternoon ride to meet Dad caused the littlest cowgirl to fall off her pony. Fortunately, the size of her pony allowed her to be almost on the horse while simultaneously hitting the ground. She almost got another chance on a steep hillside a little later, when her saddle slipped up onto her horse's neck. That crisis was averted.

Late at night, a real crisis befell the Bar LL. Tulie, the wonder Jack Russell, went out for her evening constitutional...and didn't return. Rancher heard the sounds and believes an owl was the culprit. She is being deeply mourned this morning. Baking and chocolate therapy has been applied...but nothing makes up for a missing cold nose or snuffly neck. Tulie is and will continue to be greatly missed.

On the positive side, a bear was sighted in the morning ride. While that could also have been a negative, he headed in the other direction and just made for a cool experience. Cowgirls spent some quality time in the round pen with horses, polishing skills on both sides of the saddle. Moms had a relaxing time with coke...and rum. (Which may answer the age-old question, "Why is the rum gone?") And a delicious spaghetti supper was followed by peach cobbler assembled by cowgirls. Yum!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ahhh...Vacation!

I wish I could show you pictures. I can't. Ranchwife and I were just talking about her lack of a wireless modem, and I don't want to load my pictures onto her computer.

So, imagine if you will...a wide, green meadow, bisected by a babbling creek. Set on the creek, a brown ranch house. Three or four outbuildings, two corrals. The meadow is between two hogbacks.

Early in the morning, you open your eyes to hear turkeys. Outside the window, two or three turkey hens are shepherding their young through the meadow. Walking along with them is a young elk cow. Beyond them, three horses standing in the morning sun.

Then the Border collies and Jack Russel terrier see the elk, run at her barking and carrying on, and the morning peace is broken. A cow up the hill lows (that's what they do; they don't moo. Remember Away in A Manger?)

May as well get up. It's gotten noisy!

Coffee. Bacon. Cute little cowgirls with bedhead and sleepy eyes. Cool, crisp air.

Vacation mornings can be like that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Clarification

Elephant's Child, in this blog post makes a very good point about an occurrence in the Lutheran world that was long in coming, but inevitable.

This is NOT Your Blogger's Lutheran church. It is another body which calls itself such, but believes so differently as to be another animal entirely. This announcement has, as I said, been expected by me for about 15 years. But it is not something I agree with.

I hate that I sound bigoted and close-minded. But the Bible I read--and which both Lutheran bodies call vitally important to ther beliefs--doesn't agree with this decision. It just doesn't, and there's no other way to say that.

Where the Heck Am I?

I'm traveling again.

Tuesday morning we got up early and set out on our next road trip. Actually, we set out late in the afternoon, after Rambo the Amazing Cheweenie took off across the fields. Keri's dog decided to get himself lost, so we postponed our leave-time until he graciously decided to reappear.

We set off across Illinois and Iowa to the German's. It annoys people when we designate them by their ancestry, doesn't it? But these friends have made it easy by using their ancestry as their last name! How wonderfully kind of them! And how wonderfully kind of them to host us on our trip westward. We flopped into their house shortly before midnight, fell sound asleep, and woke up in the morning. After some visitng and eating, we headed off to the West.

Long after dark, but before midnight, we arrived at Ranchwife's house in Wyoming. She and the Rancher were surprised to see us arrive EARLY! (Well, OK, 10 minutes early, but those who know us know that's a BIG DEAL.) Driving across Nebraska in on again-off again rain made for a long day, but we made it.

And today we extended our fun. Mary headed off with the Rancher and the Cowgirls to shoe horses. I set off with the Ranchwife for a road trip to Colorado. My tushie will never be the same! Three long days in a vehicle...I told her tonight that I didn't want to offend, but I was really glad to be getting out of their truck. Then I said, "Please don't make me drive anywhere tomorrow." "No," she said, "we'll be working in the bean room tomorrow!" Woot!

The Rancher and Ranchwife raise grassfed beef. Our trip to Colorado was made to deliver cattle to a processing plant, bean soups and dip mixes to a couple of stores, and then to pick up frozen meat for the return trip. The Ranchwife also makes and sells bean soup and dip mixes, and that's what we'll be doing tomorrow.

I sure know how to take a vacation, don't I? Remember last year's trip out here? Pulling calves...Makes the bean room look appealing..

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family Reunion

We're in Indiana today, where John's family is gathered for a reunion. The site is an historic village where John's dad plays miller, sawmill worker and, ocassionally, blacksmith. The farm is being well cared for by three cute little girls. I am using my iPhone to post this, and it's not letting me (because I'm not asking it correctly, I'm sure!) post picture. I'll send you some Monday!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Road Trip!

I mentioned a road trip. I suppose it was more of a field trip.

My cousin in Iowa has a daughter who is a little younger than I. OK, much younger, but old enough to have a daughter the same age as Mary. She and Sophia are actually three weeks apart in age. Sophia came for a visit of a little more than a week. It was a great visit; we did fun things and all enjoyed each others' company, but, like all good things, had to come to an end. So Nola and I met in Rock Falls, IL, for lunch and a kid handoff.

While Sophia was here, she joined us at the fair. We saw the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.




Mmmm...Draco.
And we visited Ronald Reagan's boyhood home in Dixon, IL.



They actually said the words, "Who is Ronald Reagan?" NOW I feel old. They found out who he was.

We did some shopping, some swimming, some just-plain-laziness, and some cleaning, too.

We visited Dixon just before the handoff. That occurred over lunch at a lovely deli in Rock Falls, Arthur's Garden Deli. Homemade-style food and good company! Nothing like it!

Next week Mary and I will hit the road again, to visit The Ranchwife and her crew. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

40 Pounds

I have lost 40 pounds through Weight Watchers.

See this pallet full of bags of salt?




I found it at a gas station while on a road trip today. Each of those bags weighs 40 pounds. Here's one up close and personal.




See down on the bottom, it says 40 pounds? That's how much extra weight I was carrying around until this past year. Imagine carrying around a bag of water softener salt...every day...everywhere. It makes me tired, just thinking about it. I don't think all the chocolate in the world is worth being that tired all the time.

Well, maybe if it was chocolate ice cream.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"'Life wins!' This message offers true 'good and help' for those in a crisis pregnancy. It points to a God who demonstrated the value He gives to life in the womb when He entered a womb. It points to a God who forgives mistakes and says, 'Go, and from now on sin no more' (John8:11b.)"

Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's Show TIme!

No goats this year. Horses. We learned about a whole new section of humanity; Horse People.

Wakiya was washed and primped.




Mary was washed and primped. We drove to the fairgrounds. Mary showed Wakiya in a Showmanship class.





She placed fifth. Please don't count the contestants.

She showed her instructor's horse, Bucky, in English Equitation and English Pleasure.





She placed 4th and 2nd, respectively.

She did OK. She was satisfied with her placings, and knows where she needs to improve. She was, overall, proud of herself. And so are we.

She was disappointed, however, when the drizzle of morning became the pouring rain of afternoon. Classes were cancelled, keeping her and Wakiya from competing in the costume contest as a knight and her valiant steed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Recycling

No, this is not an encore presentation of my blog. So get over that thought RIGHT NOW.

Despite my conservative, free-market, capitalistic bent, I really believe in recycling. When our garbage company started curbside recycling, (that was at our last house) I was very happy to jump into it. Yes, I could have taken my recyclables somewhere for years prior to that, but I would probably have used as much gasoline as raw material we would have saved by recycling.

At this house, our garbage company has required recycling since we moved in. We had to pay for our recycling bin, which irked me, but I did it anyway. I have carefully saved this and that and have almost memorized which companies use which number of plastic in their packaging, so that I can buy the recyclable ones and MAKE A DIFFERENCE, GOSH DARNIT!

This past spring, our garbage company decided that they were sick and tired of picking up our recyclables. Or that they were sick and tired of paying the guys who pick up the recyclables. Or they were sick and tired of something, because they cut back on our recycling pickup. Instead of coming weekly, they now come every other week. Or, really, the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month. We discovered the difference when we held onto the recyclable from the wedding until the following garbage day, thinking they came every other week, and that we had to. Yes, we had trash piled in our garage. Yes, there were bugs. Regardless of how well we rinse cans and bottles, there re still microscopic scent germs that permeate the packing material, and send out signals inviting flies and picnic bugs and the like to do some natural recycling. When we finally set the stuff out, we found that we had waited for no reason; the previous week was the right week. Bummers.

It seems to have happened again, except that I know they didn't come last week. So, this week, we set out our recyclables. Today was the day. It is 9:30pm, and our recyclables still sit out there.

Enough! I said, and looked online for places I could take our own recycling. I know of the local scrap yard for aluminum cans. But, honestly, we don't use that many. Most of our stuff is paper, cardboard, or glass. You know, you can't take that stuff anywhere yourself anymore? If I were a business, I could. But, as a private home owner, I have to rely on my garbage contractor. And he's not willing to come and get it. I just can't stuff that stuff into cans. For one thing, I don't like to. This stuff can be reused, and it should be. For another, I would have to buy 1, maybe 2, more garbage cans to accommodate the extra bulk of the stuff I used to recycle. My frugal self, as teeny as she may be, doesn't want to spend the money.

I even called our garbage provider that last time, asking why they changed their policy. "Cost cutting," I was told. I said I'd be willing to pay a little more to go back to weekly recycling pickup, rather than have the infestation that was in my garage. I even left such a message on the voicemail of the president of the company, after being told that I should do so. Does it surprise anyone that, after two weeks, I am still waiting for a return pone call?

So I'm stuck with a pile of glass, cardboard and cans sitting out by the curb. I will call the garbage guy tomorrow and ask why they didn't come and get them. Maybe I'll let you know why. If not, don't lose sleep. You'll need the brainpower to accomplish the extra thinking you're going to have to do to figure out where to sleep when your house is full of trash because no one will come pick it up anymore! I wouldn't surprise me if that came to pass. "Cost cutting," you know.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"We live in victory and we share a message of victory. Christians have the most powerful and positive For Life message in the universe! The victorious message that 'Life Wins!' is tailor-made for addressing the life issues as they affect God's people."

Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb