Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Perspective

Yesterday John came home to tell me he had heard an Amber Alert. You know, one of those emergency messages telling you to watch for certain people, or a certain vehicle, because a child is missing. This one said that the dad had taken his two little kids.

What a horrible experience for those kids. They're supposed to trust Dad, and here he whisks them away from Mom, who they live with, who takes care of them, who they love. Yeah, they love Dad, too, but now he's not acting right, not taking them home like he's supposed to. How scary.

Or is it? Having had a very little experience with people divorcing and dealing with custody issues, I now have a different perspective. When one party is always late returning the children to the other, how can we be sure that the kids are really "taken?" Or, when one party, even the one who is always late, refuses to allow even a minute of tardiness to the other, how can we be sure the kids are really "taken?" Has Dad had car trouble, hasn't been able to reach Mom, and Mom decides, after 15 minutes of tardiness, that Dad has "taken" the kids? She calls the police, who issue an Amber Alert. Yes, I realize we live in a time of cell phones, but we also have dead zones. And dead zones are not always cellular infrastructure. Sometimes they are in attitudes; toward divorced moms vs divorced dads, for example.

I realize that most Amber Alerts are real, genuine, and the kids need to be found. But, after watching this process for a little while, there will always be a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "Did he/she really take the kids? Was there an accident, a misunderstanding? How can we be sure?"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If Only...

My littlest cousin turned 3 this past week. Her mom and dad are having a party for her this weekend, to which I was graciously invited. When I asked her mom, "Is there anything Paige JUST CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT???" I received this response;

Well, when I ask princess Paige she wants: In order....

kiddie car
a pig with glasses (a pretend one)
a racoon
a toy
something for bed
a boat (one you can wind up)
a choo choo train
another toy

Isn't that the sweetest list ever? Don't you wish your life was so simple that ALL YOU WANTED for your birthday was a pretend pig...with glasses? (Shhh...don't tell her, but I'll be looking for that pig tomorrow. And I'll probably tie a ribbon around it's neck, with chocolates attached!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Yep. I'll be waiting a long time for this one!

I planned to blog today about that song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. I did a little reading yesterday and thought about that geology professor of mine. His research into the lyric was pre-Internet. He actually had to go to the library and look it up! Imagine! How...retro...

I had received an e-mail a while back talking about the song as a catechetical tool for Catholics during persecution. I wondered about it, and asked a friend who was Catholic if that was a possibility. He hadn't heard about it, but thought it made some sense, given that the Catholics were persecuted for a time in England where the song may have originated. (There are some who say it might be French; those French always trying to grab the spotlight!)

My reading didn't give me much of an answer. The official position is, "Maybe maybe not." (Quick...which movie??) So you can tell people that this is a way to remember the catechism...or not. It works like this.

Or you can see the song as just a fun song, sung to add to the celebration of Christmas. In that case, you might like this video.

Either way, Merry Fifth Day of Christmas!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The 4th Day of Christmas

I am waiting for my 4 collie birds. I know, I know, you always sing "calling." But it's really "collie."

Way back in college, never mind how long ago that was, a friend and I gave our favorite professor (he taught Sedimentology; look that one up!) a Christmas card that included the carol with the lyric "collie." We all talked about the collie/calling thing, and he did the research. Turns our "collie" refers not to the dogs, but to the color of the birds. They were meant to be black as in, coal--ie. So now you have another useless piece of trivia rattling around in your head!

This week John is rattling around the farm with us, thanks to an annual factory shut-down which also keeps the engineers home. It'll be a challenge for all of us, as he knows how the farm should really be run, doncha know? But it'll be fun, too. Today is a trip to see Sherlock Holmes.

I am also waiting, along with those birds, for my desktop computer to be functional again. We can't figure out what happened, but it looks as though the video card just decided to quit. Or maybe it's something else; it's acting that flakily. So John is working on that while I blog on my laptop. It looks like we'll be making a trip to Best Buy tonight for some component or another!

Monday, Monday....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Recovery

Yesterday was fun and furious, without the furious. Much was eaten, much was given, and, yes, much was drunk. We had all three boys home for the first time in three years, and it was wonderful. They shared most of a bottle of rum, the older two trying their darndest to inebriate the youngest. It just didn't happen. He outlasted both of them, even with all their "training!"

Today we are being hit with what appears to be the tail-end of the snowstorm that hit the Plains this week. The prediction is for 2-5 inches of global warming; we already have that, and the day is only half over. We shall see.

It's a good day for visiting, drinking coffee and watching the snow fall. I think I'll get off this computer, and do some of that. I'll leave you with this to brighten your day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Around the Farm

I finally got the camera out this week.

Tuesday morning, we had large, fluffy flakes of snow. I took the chance to make a little Christmas message for you all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

SO Close Now!

What Hope! An Eden Prophesied

What hope! An Eden prophesied Where tame live with the wild;
The lamb and lion side by side, Led by a little child!

A shoot will sprout from Jesse's stem, A branch from David's line,
A Prince of Peace in Bethlehem; The fruit of god's design.

As banner of God's love unfurled, Christ came to suffer loss,
That by his death a dying world Would rally to the cross.

Come, Jesus, come, Messiah Lord, Lost Paradise restore;
Lead past the angel's flaming sword--Come, open heaven's door.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

-whew- Not even 3pm, and it's been a day already!

It's time, first of all to announce that JR Cheeseburger has met his destiny. He left here on Tuesday. He will be back, but in little white packages. It was time. I'll let you know how he tas...I mean how it all turned out.

We also sent two goats to the the same place JR went. One of them was sold to an acquaintance, and the other is in our freezer now. Such is late fall on the farm.

We left home at 9:30 am; got home just a little bit ago, about 2. It was supposed to be a quick trip; up to get the goats, over to deliver the one, and back so John could get to work. Before we left, arrangements were made to stop and pick up some hay at a friend's. On the way, we passed WalMart, and remembered some things we needed. The feed store is close by, so why not detour and pick up some things that should run out on Christmas Eve (a decidedly inconvenient time?)

Well, Brenda at WalMart was feeling talkative. She was telling us how much she preferred living here to Colorado, from whence she moved just last winter. She got me thinking about Wyoming and we ended up talking for half an hour. The feed store meant another little chat, about chickens, raising them in the winter, and their dietary needs.

(Got a little compliment there. Bruce, who co-owns the feed store with his wife, Sue, said to John, "Your wife sure knows a lot about animals. Did she grow up on a farm?" "No," said John, "in Hoffman Estates." They both had a chuckle over that one. I guess because I feel like I don't know everything need to know about these critters, and I read about them obsessively, I've learned enough to fool a farm boy. Bruce grew up around here, and grows pork, poultry and sheep. A feather in my cap!)

Anywho...the goats were picked up, and the hay, and we set to unloading things. This year was a bad year for hay around here, and the stuff we picked up could almost be used for bedding. Bruce and Sue will be getting more business from me for horse feed, I'm guessing. We are checking out another angle; hope it works! They got another visit from us today, anyway; when they loaded the feed, he and John grabbed the wrong kind. I was chatting with Sue and didn't notice. We went back to make the exchange, returned the hay rack to our friend's farm, and then headed down to deliver the goat. Then we picked up some shavings for bedding and headed home.

Now I just have to make beef broth, which I hope to can tomorrow. I also need to do some baking for Christmas presents. Other things on my lists include checking the checkbook and cleaning for company tomorrow. Oh, and the Christmas tree might get up today.

Hope you have a good evening!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dry Spell

It seems lately that I just don't have anything to say. At least nothing I feel like spending time on. I try blogging early, but something always gets in the way. I plan to get to it later in the day, or before bed, but I'm just plain pooped. I guess the farm work (cleaned and organized the barn today) and the housework, plus schooling Mary (which I can't take much credit for these days. She's pretty smart, that one) and the Christmas prep have just sucked the blogginess right out of me.

So if I don't post with any regularity, you know it's not because I don't want to!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joy, Joy, Joy

Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Joyful, joyful we adore thee, God of glory Lord of love!
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee, Praising Thee, their sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, Drive the gloom of doubt away,
Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day.

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living, Ocean depth of happy rest!
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Fountainhead of love divine;
Joyful, we Thy heav'n inherit! Joyful, we by grace are thine!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Remember those days when Friday was THE day? The beginning of the weekend of party time, of sleeping in and lazing around? Bwahahahaha!

Then came adulthood, and the R word. Responsibilities. Some people take on responsibilities, and some people have responsibilities thrust upon them. All of us have a mixture of both, and many of us take them on. Some of us ignore them, but that doesn't happen often here at Pine Ridge Farm.

This week we've been hit with snow and killer cold. Much like late spring, which will bring a sudden jump of 20 degrees or so, late fall has had a drop of 20 degrees. Today's high is predicted to be 8 degrees. Some of you are chuckling right now, thinking, "Bet you wish you'd picked Texas or Tennessee or Arizona about now." But then I would miss out on the sweet, lilac-scented days of mid-spring, or the crisp, golden days of fall. Nope, I'm happy right here, right now.

It just takes some planning and no small amount of courage to roll out of bed in the morning and head outside for chores. I am blessed with a husband who takes the early-early shift and feeds hay. Mary and I head out about 9 to feed grain and let the critters out for the day. Even in this cold, they're loving being outside, doing their normal pasture parade. Wakiya rolls in the snow; we call it horsie snow angels. Hope tries, but, as soon as her back hits that snowy field, she jumps up, acting surprised that she's hit something cold.

Yesterday and today I'm dealing with some very sore upper body muscles. JR has decided to play with the cord leading to the trough heater, and he's unplugged it a few times. Wednesday I hauled 8 5 gallon buckets of hot water down to the trough to refill it. (It's normal for us to haul about 20 gallons a day to that trough, which is shared by Hope and JR; between Wednesday and Thursday we hauled about 120, mostly hot water, to thaw the frozen trough.) I knew at the time that it was hard work, and now I have the sore muscles to prove it! Ethan did it for me yesterday, twice. JR, the stinker, has only 5 days until he meets his destiny, so I guess we should let him have his fun. But it isn't fun for us. Along with that has been the stall cleaning and finding a spot for JR during these really cold nights. I know, I know, cattle all over the US are standing outside in these frigid temperatures 24/7. But this guy is such a wuss. He throws such a fit when he's left outside, bellowing and hollering, that it's easier to clean up after him than to put up with it. So he's been sharing our "barn" with the 2 goat ladies. It's a disaster, but, as I said, it's only for a few more days.

This weekend we'll be building a stall into that building and figuring out a way to heat our trough that may or may not be steer-proof. Wish us luck! The horses right now are spread out between two pastures, and one has no heated trough. This means we'll be hauling water two or three times a day all winter. It's worth the time this weekend to save time the rest of the season. Both horses will move to the same pasture, where there is shelter for these frigid nights, and we can drop down to one trough. We'll be sending JR and two of the goats to Mr. Jones this next week, which will drop the feed bills and the workload. But we'll still be hauling water, since we didn't take the time this summer to run pipe down to the barn. It'll just be in smaller amounts on our time, instead of having to hustle to keep our critters hydrated.

So much for my whining and complaining. Best get to it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Day in the Life, Part 2

I talked a while back about documenting my day, threatening to share it at a later time.This is that time. If you are one of those who writes things like, "I'm tired just reading about that," in the Comments sections of people's blogs, get a Gatorade. You're gonna need it.

Yes, I actually did these things in the time slots indicated. I picked one heck of a day to document.

8-9am Wake up, check Yahoo, sort laundry and start a load. Unload dishwasher and reload. Strip bed, dress, make coffee and breakfast, read Facebook.

9-10am Finish e-mail, wake Mary, fold and put away clean towels, switch laundry, vacuum basement.

10-11am Finish basement. Field phone calls, work on housework schedule, check bank balance/webpage, (why doesn't it balance?) watch Boomer Alley. Switch laundry.

11-12noon Get Mary started on Math, Ethan on raking and burning leaves. Go to WalMart for stuff for supper and feed store for animal feed. Check on progress when home. Lunch. Planning for week, do a little yardwork.

12-1pm Calculate Weight Watchers' points for the day; 10 left! Switch laundry. Start dishwasher, wash basement floor.

2-3pm Water break. Flat on my back on the sofa for half an hour (funny thing; this was one of my busiest days in recent weeks, and I managed a rest. I don't get that on most other days, even when I have more down time.) Made bed, tidied and vacuumed bedroom.

3-4pm Switch laundry. Clean bathrooms/wash floors, wash dishes that didn't go into dishwasher, check chickens.

4-5pm Wash (more)dishes, call veterinarian, vacuum living room, sweep kitchen and breezeway, feed animals, get mail, switch laundry.

5-6pm Read e-mail, do nails (we're talking clipping and filing here; no fussing with polish) talk to Mary about 4H paperwork.

6-7pm Supper at Joe's Place

7-9pm 4H meeting

9-11pm Talk with John, watch TV, read e-mail, brush teeth/wash face, fall into bed.

Dare I add...7am, next day; start all over again?

Good thing we're the "weaker sex;" think how much we'd show up the guys if we were a little stronger, girls!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Day in the Life

A man comes home from work one day to find his wife's car sitting in the driveway, doors open, hood up. In the living room, he finds a half-naked toddler eating Cheerios and cat food, watching Barney. In the kitchen the refrigerator door is open, milk and orange juice spill together on the floor, the dog, wearing a bonnet, is tied to a table leg, and a preschooler is finger-painting on the wall.
Up the stairs, following the trail of Goldfish crackers, he finds an infant sleeping in a bed made of towels on the floor. Dirty diapers spill from the trash can and the delicate aroma is far from delicate. Panicking, he races into his bedroom to find his wife in bed watching television, eating chocolates.
"What's going on," he says, concern in his voice. "Are you OK?"
"Yes," she smiles.
"What happened here today?" he says, hysteria in his voice.
"Well," she says, "you know how yesterday you came home and said, 'What do you do here all day?'"
"Yes," he says, caution in his voice.
"Well," she says. "Today I didn't do it."

Monday, December 7, 2009


Rejoice, Rejoice Believers

Rejoice, rejoice, believers, And let your lights appear;
The evening is advancing, And darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising And soon is drawing nigh.
Up, pray and watch and wrestle; At midnight comes the cry.

The watchers on the mountain Proclaim the Bridegroom near;
Go forth as He approaches With alleluias clear.
The marriage feast is waiting; The gates wide open stand.
Arise, O heirs of glory; The Bridegroom is at hand.

The saints, who here in patience Their cross and suff'rings bore,
Shall live and reign forever When sorrow is no more.
Around the throne of glory The Lamb they shall behold;
In triumph cast before Him Their diadems of gold.

Our hope and expectation, O Jesus now appear;
Arise, O Sun so longed for, O'er this benighted sphere.
With hearts and hands uplifted, We plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth's redemption That sets your people free!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

Cinnamon rolls made, frosted and plated for Legion bake sale. Check.

Animals fed. Check.

Heading out to Grandma's, then home to prepare for PFC Ethan's unit Christmas party. (They actually call it a Holiday party, but we all know what that means!) Heading there by 2:30.

Saturday Farm Report says...not too much time spent on the farm today!

Friday, December 4, 2009


I grew up in suburbia. White bread, marshmallow suburbia. Where all the lawns were green and mowed, all the children joined Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, all the families went to church (or some religious observance was made) and where the Joneses were not just the neighbors, but also those people who dictated how you lived your life, in that you had to keep up with them.

Well, not exactly.

Although I grew up in this community, right next door to this quintessential suburb, so quintessential that it served as the model for the community in this television sitcom, I learned more about diversity during my years of public school in suburbia than I have since, including the years I spent in the open-minded atmosphere of a state university. Well, maybe I have learned some more about it recently, as my kids became members of the US Army.

See, I don't think that people remember that the suburbs were started by soldiers, and Marines, and airmen and sailors. These men and women returned from war and service, and, using their government benefits, bought homes and started raising families. My parents did. My dad left the Marines in 1957, and their home (they live in their first and, so far, only home) was purchased with a VA loan.

Their wives (not my dad's, but that's irrelevant!) and husbands were often from foreign countries, and their children had mixed heritages that were celebrated. Or they were used to being around people of all different stripes, and seeing how they worked together for a common purpose, and the differences didn't matter; what mattered was what people could do together. Anyway, that's how it was when and where I grew up. We didn't need Diversity Days; we lived them. Gary wouldn't come to school on Rosh Hashanah; we all talked afterwards about how he had celebrated. Liz's mom (who was Japanese, but had a Polish last name, thanks to her Army husband!) brought sushi to school and we all were grossed out by the seaweed, but it tasted GOOD! We'd go to Estella's house to visit, and challenge each other to eat the hot peppers her dad kept in a dish on the table, just like his family did back in Mexico. Things like that. Little things, but for a kid, they were big, and a part of normal life.

Different religions, too. My sisters and I were raised around the Lutheran church; the Michnicks next door were Catholic. So were the Gonzalezes, two blocks over. The Castles were Jewish; so were the Shores. Berna's mom was Muslim; her dad, fresh out of the Air Force, was not. It didn't seem odd to us to go Christmas caroling to all of these homes. The other families seemed to appreciate it, too, even when they didn't celebrate Christmas. No, we didn't agree on what religion meant, but they knew we were trying to make the holiday time more fun, and they enjoyed that. (The Castles always gave us apple strudel. No; that was not the only reason we caroled there!)

So much for the white bread suburbs. So much for the sterile, isolated lives we were supposed to have lived. There were many reasons I didn't like the suburbs, and have chosen not to raise my kids there. But I would never say I didn't learn about other cultures there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Please, Just Stay Home

I have been substitute teaching these past couple of days, and I'll be going in tomorrow. Miss Piel, it seems, is very sick. Someone has to corral her 5th grade class, and it looks like it's me.

Substitute teaching is a somewhat sick (hee hee) way to make a living. You sign up to wait around and hope someone has the bad luck to be unable to report for work. How do you suppose it feels to be waiting for someone to get sick, or have a death in the family, or have a child who gets sick and needs them to stay home?

I suppose you're thinking the title of this has something to do with asking those people to give me a chance to earn some money. Well, in a sense it is. But, not really.

See, Miss Piel really doesn't want to be sick. She feels the need to be with those kids, and she'd really like to come in, regardless of how she feels. Sensibly, however, she has decided against it.

But that doesn't happen often, does it? More often, someone comes down with a cold, or the flu, or the current creeping crud, and come in to work, anyway. I remember a friend telling me about a local steakhouse, and how she worked there. She told me, "We have really good steaks. It was tough the other night, though. I was so sick to my stomach with this flu, and I had to carry these plates of food to people. I almost hurled right in their dinner!" Yeah, right. And breathed whatever all over them.

How many times has it happened to you, that you catch this year's flu from the girl in the next cubicle? Or from your best friend at work? Or your husband brings it home with him from the office? That's how I got last year's flu. I was miserable for a month, all because someone "needed" to be at work, and John brought it home.

The irony is, that if those who are sick would just stay home for three days or so, the office would not suffer the loss of weeks of productivity. That's what happens when the crud creeps from person to person; it's not like everybody gets sick at the same time, right? Each successive victim lengthens the effect of the bug.

So, please, think of that when you get sick next time, and decide it's not so bad that you can't go to work. Stay home, instead. Keep your germs to yourself. Get your rest, take your meds, drink your fluids. Get rid of it. Then come back in to work.