Friday, December 31, 2010

On the Seventh Day of Chirstmas...

I did too much.

I had been very good to my feet during my first two weeks after surgery. These past three days or so, I've been testing them. They failed. I am back on the couch, and not minding at all, thank you.

Before I learned my lesson yesterday, I did some picking up in our basement. That's a no-no right there, walking down the stairs. Then I canned some turkey broth.

One of my traditional Christmas Day activities is to make turkey broth. When we clean up the kitchen, someone picks the turkey carcass. It's just 5 minutes more work to drop that puppy into a stockpot, add some veggies, and set it to simmer. This year, I made it even easier. I put all the ingredients into my covered roaster and left in a 225 degree oven overnight. The house smelled great in the morning, and all we had to do was turn off the oven, wait a few hours, strain the broth, and stick it in the frig. Once the fat had come to the top and solidified in the cold frig, we pulled it off to make an almost fat-free broth. We used it to make turkey soup and turkey pie (two of which went into the freezer) then had about 6 quarts left to can. One went back in the frig, and these five went into the canner. I'll use them throughout the cooler months to make quick suppers and lunches. And one can will stay in the cupboard so that, next Christmas, when I make stuffing, I can use turkey broth instead of chicken!

Although I was on my feet only about 20 minutes while doing the canning, and up and down enough during the day so that my "vertical time" was about 2 hours, total, my feet were pretty painful last night. Ibuprofen and sleep cure many things, though, and I woke up this morning ready to go again. We had to do some grocery shopping, as our cupboards were bare, except for random ingredients. But, never fear; I used a wheelchair. My feet feel pretty good, even after almost two hours in the store!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

We went to the 4H Christmas party.

But first, my family left me alone in the morning. They went off to work and play practice, and I stayed home for a few quiet hours. I spent them watching Precious, a disturbing film. Why I spent quiet time being disturbed is...disturbing itself. Still, I would recommend this film for adults who have made sure no one under, oh, 18, can be watching or hearing it.

Later in the day, I joined my extended family for our weekly lunch out. We started this when Grandma lived with us. Now, even though Grandma and Mom are gone, we can't give up the fun of getting together and spending an hour or more eating and catching up.

And, last night, we finally hit that 4H Christmas party. It's a yearly potluck in a local church's gym. It usually ends up with clusters of adults sitting together and catching up, teens playing cards, and kids of all ages playing basketball at one end of the gym. Last night we talked about riveting things; the price of corn, politics and the government as they affect small farmers, and how good the cherry/oatmeal pie was. That reminds me. I forgot to hunt down the maker of that and ask for the recipe. Durn.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

I woke up very, very early to find that someone had left the lights on on the Christmas tree when we went to bed.

In the quiet of the dark, early morning, it looked so pretty. I wanted to stay and just look at it...but I went back to bed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...


This was the fun kind of shopping, where I take Christmas gift money and spend it on things I'd like, but somehow never get around to getting.

I bought a new snowman. I have a shelf above my kitchen sink, where I put seasonal decorations. For winter, I use snowmen. Some of my snowmen had seen better days, so I retired them last year. This guy

is one of the replacements. Notice he's a farmer? And you can see our red barn there, on his tummy.

I bought some sewing things. A seam ripper, (those doggone things are always disappearing) some fabric-marking pens, and a nifty little contraption that lets me measure the hem length on my newly-made skirts while I wear them. A little attachment puffs marking chalk onto the skirt at whichever level I set for it. This is not something I would probably have bought for myself, and I am really grateful for the gift of being able to do so.

Oh, and a yoga DVD.

I like me some yoga, but I'm too cheap to actually pay for a class. So I have a few videos, and they're really helpful.

I stopped into Barnes and Noble, too, but I was disappointed. They didn't have what I was looking for. They could have ordered it, and they told me I could also try their online store. But I thought, "All these books, and none are the ones I want?" Guess my taste in books is too odd.

I overdid the walking thing today, and my feet are letting me know about it! They hurt, and I am back on the couch for the night. Oh, well, the shopping was fun. And I have some cash left over, so I'll get to do it again!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas...

I will head over to the doctor's office in a bit for a checkup of my feet.

I am hoping he will let me lose the Stormtrooper boots.

It's not that I don't like them. Oh, yeah, I can really rock the Stormtrooper boots. I'm stylin'.

They're not an easy technology for me. They have inflatable supports on all sides. The level of inflation seems to vary during the day, no matter how carefully I inflate them in the morning. So I'll put my feet into comfortable Stormtrooper boots in the morning, and then feel my squished feet going numb in the evening. Or they lose air, and I stand up to find no support at all. They have Velcro, which isn't as carefree as the inventor had hoped. Everyone knows when I put these puppies on, and the Velcro sticks to all kinds of things that have nothing to do with the boots. I have to do this at least once in the middle of the night. And, often, the Velcro on one has stuck to the Velcro on the other, so I'm disentangling things in the dark. -whine-

They're heavy. And the toes are open, so, when I've had to go out in the snow, I have to be especially careful, because the overriding concern is do not get the dressings wet. It's quite a sight when I come in and have to blow dry the Boots. But they do have amazing traction. I'm like a tank. Well, my feet are.

I bet John wishes he cold handle my whining like Darth Vader handled whining.

Update: Four more weeks in the Stormtrooper/Robomom boots. -pout- No driving until then. But the Ace wraps are gone, and I can shower!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On The Second Day of Christmas...

I see trouble coming.

On the First Day of Christmas...

We woke up. Well, most of us did.

We had things to do, after all. Family and friends were coming for Christmas dinner. There was a turkey to stuff.

There were treats to set out. Some of us wanted to start before the company came. We did.

There were rooms to tidy, tables and flowers to arrange, and candles to light. Mary tried using The Force

but was, I must say, unsuccessful.

When family had gathered, important business was accomplished. Gifts were sorted and distributed. And then opened.

Ethan was given a lovely gift in this pretty bag lined with camo tissue. If I told you his sister did this, would you be surprised?

Inside was his favorite drink...

But he reciprocated by gifting his sister with a...knife wrench. Some of you might recognize where it comes from, but, for those who don't..

Grandpa Peterman gifted all the kids with tool kits. Matthew's held a flashlight, which turned out to be a great present for Jip!

After presents, we feasted.

A Peterman Pastured Turkey was consumed. Well, not really. He was 35 pounds, after all, so we didn't consume the whole thing! And, no, I don't know why there is a round shape cut out of the breast skin. That happened at the processor's. I suspect they tested the birds for something; but why, I ask, did they have to cut a hole in the biggest one? Ah, well.

We also had stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, squash, corn, veggies and dip, shrimps, gravy, sour cream salad and rolls.


After the feast, and some "down time," dessert happened. We had key lime pies, pecan pie, fudge, cake, and many, many cookies. About half of the cookies contained Jack Daniels. I made sure they didn't go home. After all, open liquor in the car is against the law in Illinois, some of the cookies were topped with uncooked, liquor-laced frosting, and, although I know that's not the same as an opened bottle, well, you just don't want to take any chances.

At the end of the day, we were tired.

The house was no longer tidy.

Getting the big stuff taken care of, but leaving some of the mess for today, we got into jammies

and hit the hay.

Well, some of us did. Some of us were having too much fun in our new hat and jammies.

But, eventually, family went home, things quieted down, and we really did hit the hay.

That's about when the cat finally woke up...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Come and see what God has done for us!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

O Holy Night: Update

My favorite hymn for Christmas Eve. I remember it was also my mom's. I love finding different versions, and I haven't seen this one before.

So then I read the comments section, and my good friend Round, Unvarnish'd Tale shared a link to her congregation's Christmas Lessons and Carols Service. A much better version of this song than the one I included initially is available at that link.

Merry Christmas...from Afghanistan

I am often asked how I "can let" my kids be in the military. This question comes from well-meaning supporters of the war, who, nonetheless, worry about the young men and women sent far from home to work and maybe die in our behalf. I am also asked this by those who look with disdain upon our military as bloodthirsty glory hounds.

Although outside my house is a beautiful, peaceful snowfall and God's creation is singing soft carols in anticipation of the feast, the plain fact is that the feast is made necessary by the dark evil that lives within us all. Sin and its effects on this world, sickness, war, death, and all the rest, not only requested but required that an atonement be made. That atonement began with the birth of a baby, continued with the gory death of a young man, and ended with his shocking resurrection. I know, I know, it sounds more like Easter, but, much like we probably wouldn't have had World War II without World War I, we wouldn't have Easter joy without Christmas blessings.

So, quoting DBS, I wish for you and yours a sweet remembrance of the deeper reasons for the season. Please take time to remember those, whether you're grateful or not, who do hard work in your name, all over the globe. This is not the hymn I thought I'd be posting this morning, but it's definitely worth your time. Thanks to my friend, Kay Maiwald, for yet another special offering.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To Write, or Not To Write...

I'm talking about a family Christmas letter.

Years ago, I received 2 or 3. I like them. I like hearing what my friends are up to, even if (maybe especially if) they are friends I don't see very often. Others may complain about the bragging, the whining, the my-kid-is-better-than-your-kid-ness of those things, but I don't mind. I call it an education into the humanity of us all.

Well, years ago, I wrote personal notes inside my Christmas cards. Although I liked those Christmas letters, I hadn't yet gotten myself to the point where I could write one. Our move to the country, and the ensuing chaos that came along with kids in three different schools, critters in various stages of growth, a house to maintain and the work of just plain drawing breath, I decided I would write one.

The reviews, meaning comments from friends during the next year, were surprisingly positive. They liked me! They really liked me! This encouraged me, and I have spent many falls since then writing a concise rundown of each year.

About 5 years ago. for whatever reason, I got really busy and didn't get a Christmas letter done. I sent one out shortly after New Year's, but got many teasing comments from those same friends about my "Belated Christmas greetings." Hey, folks, news flash. While modern secular culture doesn't get it, Christmas is a season which begins on December 25, and ends on January 6. So, in that light, a card sent on January 2 is still a Christmas card.

But, I suppose, sending them out around the 4th of July, which I have considered, would be pushing it.

Two years ago, I returned to writing notes inside the Christmas cards. Some of what I wrote was a "stock" paragraph reviewing the year. The rest was personal stuff that the recipient would understand. But it took me more time than I had last year, so, no cards last year.

Now that I am (supposed to be) confined to my sofa for a few weeks, it should be easy-peasy for me to get my Christmas cards done this year. But...It's been tough, finding time. In fact, I haven't yet. So, if you get a card from me, and you get it after New Year's, keep in mind that, in my little world, Christmas begins on December 25 and ends January 6. 'K?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Another pile of global warming is outside my front window. Snow is always one of those double-edged swords. I love it. I love playing in it, looking at it, I love all the paraphernalia. The hats, and mittens, the boots, the hot chocolate (especially the hot chocolate!) the sleds, I love it all! (Except maybe skis. Never could handle those buggers.)

But, of course, there's a downside. Someone's gotta get all that white stuff out of the way so you can drive to the sled hill, to the store to buy chocolate, and, yes, I suppose, to work. Now, our Someone, Farmer John, grew up in the UP, where snowfall, apparently, isn't measured until it's in the double digits. He asserts that we don't get enough snow here to worry about clearing it. But I wonder, after 30+ years of living "here in the South," why he hasn't picked up on the different quality of our snow? It's usually wet and heavy, as opposed to the soft, powdery stuff he speaks of. So clearing it can be a bit of a problem.

We have a snowblower. It's a decent one, but it has it's issues. Farmer John hasn't always dealt with those issues in a timely manner, citing our "lack of measurable snowfall" as reason to not stress about rebuilding a snowblower carburetor. Instead, he leaves that up to his minions, who shovel and pile and sometimes write uncomplimentary blog posts about him.

But the Main Minion is down and out for about 6 weeks. The Stormtrooper boots aren't made for the snow, sadly, and so I worried about how to get this job done today.

Enter Desi, our neighbor across the street. Although we seldom talk to our neighbors, the country being that way, sometimes, he will always show up after (what we call) a measurable snowfall with his trusty Bobcat. In minutes, our driveway is cleared. It saves the minions hours of shoveling and cussing. And it's something we're very, very thankful for. Later this evening, I'll have John take him a Peterman Pastured Turkey in thanks. And maybe an adult beverage...

Monday, December 20, 2010

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

My favorite Advent hymn.

Thanks to my friend, Kay Maiwald, for pointing out this version.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

It's a cold but sunny day on the farm today. It's about 14 degrees, and we're headed all the way up to 19. Some flurries are expected, but there's not a cloud in the sky, so, we'll see.

We've been adopted by a new kitty. Burr is a young female, with a lovely black coat, a bob tail and a notched ear. Mary was able to live-trap her yesterday, so she went in for a rabies shot, a deworming and as much of a checkup as you can do on a feral cat! It was enough to ascertain that she's female, which we had guessed. It's likely that the notched ear means she was trapped before, spayed, and then released as part of a TNR program. She was uncooperative enough that it was impossible to find a spaying scar, but she is at least feline-leukemia-negative and vaccinated against that, distemper and rabies. I can let Mary pet her now! We're really happy to have her. Our outside cat, Dinah, is getting old enough that she likes to hunker down for the winter. Burr has moved into what used to be rat tunnels under our chicken house, so that should move them on to other, less feline-infested fields! She seems to be a decent hunter, and not totally unfriendly. She lets Mary touch her, and follows Mary around during chores, "talking" to keep her company. She must have had some human contact in the past. I just hope we haven't been adopted by someone's beloved kitty!

(I know some will wonder about taking a feral cat to the vet. I don't feel comfortable having animals on our farm like cats or dogs that aren't protected against, at the very least, rabies. That's just the kinda farmer I am. While she was there, it wasn't that much more money to have her tested and vaccinated for feline leukemia and distemper. In the future, I'll do those shots myself.)

Today Farmer John headed off for paying work, and Mary is waiting on her invalid mother. We are watching movies and playing in the cyberworld. Some laundry will be done, and I'll be teaching her to make homemade pizza later this afternoon. I'd like to do some Christmas shopping, meaning pick out some things and send minions to pick them up. We'll see how that plays out!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Doctor Visit

Headed in this morning to see how things are. This is how they look.

The pain has been infrequent and manageable. There is far less swelling than they're used to seeing, so I guess sitting on my...couch has been a good idea. I see him again in 10 days, and I'll have the Stormtrooper boots for at least 6 weeks. And I plan to be a good patient, so I have my feet in tip-top shape when I need them in May for Europe.

You can see the surgeon's initials on my feet. I told him that my mother always told me not to write on myself with marker, but he told me that doctors are allowed. Yeah, right!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Day After

Well, bunion surgery completed. Bunion surgery recovery begun...

So far, so good. Had some really strange dreams last night, no doubt helped along by the drugs they had given me. The pain is far less than I was led to expect. It started last night, and having been told that my doctor "really numbs up his patients," I was nervous. It wasn't bad, but I was concerned that I was still numb and would hurt more as time went on. But, this morning, I was able to walk around pretty well. The boots help; they're solid, but have rocker bottoms to help with a natural gait. On the other hand, sometimes I felt like one of those punching clowns. Specifically, like I was going to rock backwards and land on my back! But I think I've gotten used to it.

I've spent today sitting/lying on the sofa, letting my minions get me what I need. Mary has been a great help. John, too. Poor guy. He got about 3 hours of sleep last night, because of me, and then headed out for a full day of work. Mary's got some sinus crud, and complained a bit about going out in the cold for the horses. But she's also been doing laundry and making me coffee and lunch. And she and I watched a chick flick this afternoon.

Tomorrow I'll go to the doc and see them unwrapped for the first time. Want pictures? I'll leave it up to you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Ride in the Country

This morning we woke at dark thirty to take a ride in the country.

But first, we had to cuss and swear because the alarm, which should have been set for 5:30am, was set for 5:30PM. So we woke up at 6:45am, more than an hour late.

Then we had to cuss and swear because middle-aged bones and muscles are not excited about getting out of a nice, warm, flannel-sheeted bed into 66 degree air to dress for 6-8 degree air.

Then we had to cuss and swear because we realized we could not drive the truck into the backyard, due to snow.

Then we cussed and swore some more as we caught and carried 25 chickens from their huts to the back of the pickup. And some more, as they flapped their chubby little wings in protest. One caught me right good on the ear. I swore.

Guess what we did when we realized we'd made a wrong turn?

And when we realized that the roads we found ourselves on were still nasty from this weekends snowpocalypse?

Yes, we cussed and swore when we realized that we were later...and later...and later...than we planned, which was arranged around the schedule of our chicken butcher, who is NOT a nice man when people show up on time, much less late. Something about killing hundreds of flapping, living beings makes him grouchy on Kill Day.

But, you know, I've never heard him cuss and swear.

In the end, though, our chickens were delivered, and dispatched. Tomorrow, while I slumber in an operating room, our (dead) chickens will be picked up by our youngest son and deposited in our freezer.

I imagine he'll cuss and swear about something. He has such good role models!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Still in Iowa. The weather today looks more like March than December, although the potential exists to be snowed in here. Rain is falling, but it's beginning to be mixed with sloshy "wintry mix," and snow is to follow later this evening.

This week on the farm was frustrating. I mentioned preparations for my foot surgery. Among those included getting the animals to a point where 1 person can take care of them in less than half an hour morning and evening. It's not working. My farm crew, which works so well on other peoples' farms and ranches, is not as enthusiastic about our own. Our place is in constant disarray, which, usually aggravating, is now anxiety-producing. How will someone else find what is needed at the right time? Well, that will be their problem. I'll be communing with Netflix and travel websites, not the critters.

The house itself is in good shape; tidy and organized, with one or two exceptions. I'll clear those up on Monday. I need Tuesday for hunting and gathering, and, then, we'll be good to go, meaning good for me to be ensconced on the couch. I'll have a servant and a service bell. Yay, me!!

But, for today, that is all miles and days away. Today I get to see my favorite chapter of the Narnia Chronicles on the wide screen! Reepicheep, Aslan and Caspian...three of my favorite guys!! Lunch with another cousin, a Bourne movie tonight, German home cooking and good friends. Ahhh......

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nothing to do.....

We left home last night for a 3 1/2 hour drive. We got here (Iowa City) 7 hours later...

It would have helped us to not have had to drive through a snowstorm during the first third of our trip. It would have helped us if someone had remembered his meds and not made us stop in a strange pharmacy for an hour, getting them filled. It would have helped us if we had eaten before we left. Scratch that; road food and the break for road food are a pleasant part of our road trips.

Anyway, we made it here safely. John is off at a meeting in Cedar Rapids. Our cousins are at school and work for the day. Mary is still sleeping. And I am sitting on the sofa at 9:30am, drinking coffee, playing on the computer...with nothing to do!! Pity.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Busy Week

I always feel silly saying that my week has been busy. After all, isn't every family's week busy? You can plan and plan, but, with several personalities and agendas, all plans have to contain the caveat, "Unless..."

This week I've been getting busy to do nothing. Next week I am having minor surgery (bunions, be gone!) and won't be able to do much of anything for at least 2 weeks. So I've been cleaning, organizing and planning. Some aspects of this planning have NO room for "Unless," because I just plain won't be able to!

Tonight we head to Iowa City to spend the weekend with some extended family members who are also close friends. It'll hopefully be a relaxing way to prepare for next week. Unless....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ahhh.....Another peaceful, relaxing weekend.


It started with snow. Finally, a measurable snowfall. Only about 4", but enough to get the kids outside for an afternoon, enough to have to shovel off the cars, enough to make farm chores just a bit more complicated.

Then comes the cold. The high pressure, low pressure, whatever (I was never really good at meteorology) that comes after a snowstorm brings with it wind and low temperatures. Today's HIGH will be close to 18F. Right now it's 6F. Wind chills should bring us down below 0F. Some people would tell us that the horses should be in all day, but they're not. That's why they have fur coats, after all.

Miss Mary performed in our church's Boar's Head Festival this weekend. Her experiences remind me why we homeschool...and that's all I'm gonna say about that!! We also hosted a friend from Wisconsin, who wanted to see the Festival in hopes of bringing one to her congregation.

And today we're back to normal...whatever that is. Up at 7:30, first load of laundry in and critters fed before breakfast, computer time and cleaning/organizing to follow. A day in the life!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


There's just something about the first snowfall. Ours came today. The total accumulation can probably be measured in microns, but it snowed!

It's cold and damp. That's what happens for a first snowfall. It gets cold, (duh!) but not quite could enough. Much of the snow melts as it hits the still-warm ground. The damp just lingers in the air.

Later in the winter, when it's truly cold, the snow won't melt. It'll stay on the ground, the air will stay dry, and, although it will be cold, it won't be this damp-chill-through-to-the-bone-cold. I can actually handle 5 degrees better than 35 degrees. It seems backwards, but that's the backwardness that is me!

And this exhilaration I'm feeling at the sight of the first snow won't last, of course. As each successive snowstorm comes, yes, I'll enjoy it. I'll enjoy the crispness, and the stark branches against the grey sky, the red of rose hips against the white of the snow, the puffs of steam when people and animals breathe. Come March, though, this very same damp cold and sloppy snow will wear and tear on the soul. That's one of the things that makes spring, true spring ("wuv, twue wuv") so wonderful. That's one of the reasons I would really not enjoy a life in Florida, or Arizona, or even Tennessee. I need, really need a thorough change of seasons during the year. And I don't just mean hot season, less hot season, tourist season, migrating bird season, hot season again.

But for now, I'm enjoying the first snow, the first frosty fingers and nose, the last time I forget gloves and a hat for a while.

Monday, November 29, 2010

High Pressure

If the pounding in my head and neck are any indication, we're in for some storminess pretty soon. Or not. Maybe I'm just exhausted. We had an eventful Thanksgiving.

Without going into any detail, we traveled 19 hours; the usual round trip is about 13 hours. 6 of us in a 5-passenger car. We started out in two cars; one car whose fan motor gave up the ghost along the way, and another which gave up the ghost altogether. Too bad about $1000 was put into the car before it did!

This week will see 3 of the 6 of us moving out of here into another home. 2 dogs, a cat and a guinea pig will join them. I will be cleaning like a banshee. Yay, me!!

Still working on planning a trip to Europe, and am looking forward to (?) bunion surgery in the middle of next month. Stay tuned....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Advent of our King

The advent of our King Our prayers must now employ,
And we must hymns of welcome sing In strains of holy joy.

The everlasting Son Incarnate deigns to be,
Himself a servant's form puts on To set His servants free.

O Zion's daughter rise To meet your lowly King,
Nor let your faithless heart despise The peace he comes to bring.

As judge, on clouds of light, He soon will come again
And His true members all unite With Him in heav'n to reign.

Before the dawning day Let sin's dark deeds be gone,
The sinful self be put away, The new self now put on.

All glory to the Son, Who comes to set us free,
With Father, Spirit, ever one Through all eternity.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

God of Grace and God of Glory

God of Grace and God of Glory,
On Your people pour Your power.
Crown Your ancient church’s story,
Bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.

Cure Your children's warring madness,
Bend our pride to You control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Your kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Your kingdom’s goal.

Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Your salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving You Whom we adore,
Serving You Whom we adore.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


It's become tough to blog again. Part of the fun for me is taking pictures that I can use to illustrate. But my camera is, again, AWOL. Maybe this is the time to look for a new one, one that I can take on my trip to Europe.

Yes, I am planning a trip. When my mom passed away, she left me money with instructions to take my two sisters to England, Germany and Italy. I am planning that for next May, and I'll need more than my point-and-shoot. Does anyone with more camera savvy than me have any suggestions? I tend more toward mid-range in price and features, by the way, and I have access to lenses from my husband's stash. So, recommend away!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You?

We returned about 3am from one of our best family vacations ever, to the Smoky Mountains. Along the way, we had visited Fort Knox, where Jay was at Basic Training. Of course, we didn't see him, but we did learn later that we parked the motor home in the parking lot of his barrack. No one questioned us as we drove around post, seeing what we could and soaking up the atmosphere. (Those of you who have served are smiling at that, I know!)

We had disconnected our television antenna that summer. Our kids, 16, 11 and 6 at the time, had become zombie-like in the presence of a television, and the summer is just reruns, anyway. We went to video-only mode for the summer, and had just reconnected things for my sister and brother-in-law. They stayed at the house, caring for our animals, while we were gone, and John wanted them to be able to have TV if they wanted.

We slept in, which meant about 9am, and I had just sent John out to bring in suitcases so we could dress. The kids were up, some on the computer, and Mary watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, when my mom called.

"Turn on the TV," she said, knowing we wouldn't be watching. "The Arabs have blown up the World Trade Center." About 10 minutes after we tuned in, the second plane hit the south tower. (About two months later, we drove back to Fort Knox to see Jay graduate from Basic. We waited 45 minutes for a security check at the same gate we had entered in late August. At that time, no one had manned that gate.)

And now I have three kids in the Army, all of whom are off this weekend, drilling with their units of the National Guard. Thank you, guys. I miss you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Dog!!

This dog had me grinning from ear to ear. And it looks like the dog liked it, too!


School began today at Pine Ridge School. With only one full-time student, my workload should be reduced this year. But beginnings are always awkward.

We should have, and planned to have, started yesterday. But there were Interruptions, not the least of which was having to go to Kinko's to do the errand that got sidelined by a bashed vehicle on Tuesday. So today we started with Morning Prayer, then Geography, History and Math. Tomorrow we'll add Science, as Mary will be heading to the vet clinic to job shadow. Those vet clinic visits will be her Friday Science, but she'll still be doing bookwork at home.

History looks good. We're using The History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer. We'll read this to each other, alternating chapters. (She was ever so happy to learn she'd be reading this to me. Ever so.) I'd like to get through it by Christmas, so we can move on to it's sequel, The History of the Medieval World. We are planning a trip to Europe next May, and I'd like her to have a handle on the history of the places we'll be seeing. But I'm not going to rush it. If we make it through, yay. If not, well, we didn't.

The Seanster also joined us for half of our morning. I'll be teaching history to him, using the junior version of Mary's book. I have been using these for eight years now, and they're great. Even if you just have one around to hand to a bored child for reading, it's worth the money. The writing is clear and engaging, and reads like a really, really good story. It is not boring history, like you might remember from grade school. This one puts you in the action and makes you think. He was very interested in the story, not so much in the writing I had him do afterward, but left with homework that he got started on right away. One of the problems with living in this Eden is having a less than complete library. Our seems more geared to books as entertainment and pop culture than as learning instruments. Of the four well-known childrens' books I suggested to him to read about archaeology, our library had Sad. But at least he went looking.

So much for the first day. They say it's not really momentum until you've been moving ahead for three weeks. Only 20 days to go...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Bad news was, John had 5 furlough days and 5 mandatory vacation days.

Good news, my dad has a motor home, he lent it to us, and we planned a trip to Devils' Lake with all our kids.

Bad news, two of the kids couldn't make it, and John ended up working many of those furlough and mandatory vacation days.

Good news, we did get out of town for a bit.

Bad news, everyone left me with an errand to run yesterday and no cars to run it in.

Good news, the motor home is still in the driveway. Yeah, I'll look a little odd driving a motor home into Kinko's, but, hey, the errand will get done.

Bad news. Turning around in the driveway, I saw the tree. I cleared the tree. I didn't clear the limb hanging over the driveway. I tore the front side off of the motor home.

Good news. The material I tore off was soggy. There must have been a leak. Now the leak will be fixed.

And my dad said he wouldn't shoot me. This time.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

We cannot rely on worldly institutions to fight our battles for us. Christians have been called to be hope and light to a fallen generation; so let's speak God's truth in love and care for the most vulnerable in our churches and society. May God bless your efforts to really make a difference!

Life Quote from Lutherans For Life

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Missed a couple of blogging days...I was out working. For pay. Really. Someone pays me to do things. It's a wonderful world.

Today, after sleeping in, we got right on all those chores we've been putting off because we're busy working. For pay. First up; mow the lawn and garden. Next up, find out the push mower is shot, as is the belt on the riding mower. So the garden will wait until we find and buy another push mower. And the lawn will wait until about 2 hours from now, when Matthew returns from his "just an hour, Mom," lunch and trip to buy a new belt.

Next up, buy feed. I did that, having a nice conversation with Sue, the feed lady. Nice is relative. Actually, I learned that, if I find raccoon scat in my barns, I should wear a mask when cleaning it up. Apparently a friend of theirs didn't, inhaled some sort of spores from the dust coming off the dried feces, and ended up in the hospital with a horrible lung infection. Yuck.

After the feed, I cleaned out the turkey hut. It had been horribly neglected, and smelled gaggingly nasty. But I got all the yuck out and replaced it with fluffy bedding. Wait, no, didn't do that yet. Matthew took the truck, which had the bedding in the back of it. So the turkeys are chilling outside of their clean hut. Have no fear, little flock. When Matthew is back, you'll have your hut back, too.

Next up is digging through this archaeological region I call my desk. I would be mowing the garden, but, well, you know about that. I stayed up late last night, looking up information for our trip to Europe next spring, and made a mess of my desk. Before I go to work, I need to bring some order to it. So I'll end my report and let you get back to your lives! Toodles!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Wal-Mart-ing We Will Go...

Although most of my hunting and gathering was accomplished yesterday, we had to head home a little too early to get it all done. We really needed to head to the Wal-Mart, though. In fact, we were out of such essentials as toilet paper and paper towels.

I don't really like to shop there. I prefer local, small places. But there are times when only Wal-Mart will do. Like when you're out of toilet paper and paper towels. Where else can you get those things so cheaply?

I got up a little late this morning, but still had time to think through a few things while I prepped to go. Should I wear this? Or this? Actually, I'm not sure I have the build for the latter...snicker. And my hair. Should it be arranged like this? Yeah, no.

Actually, I ended up looking a lot more...boring. Plain red shirt, mid-calf denim skirt. -sigh- Such is my life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hunting and Gathering

Today is that magical day; payday! We get two of those a month, and that means Hunting and Gathering Day.

Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. They went out into the woods and fields, hunting meat and gathering other foods as they found them. I have the blessings of having had someone already do that for me, and my hunting-gathering is confined to places like Joseph's, Woodman's and WalMart (I know, I shouldn't. But I can't pay more than that for paper products!!.) So off I will go today, spending frivolously on food and drink the money my husband works hard to provide. Then comes the unloading...And the packing away...And the cuppa afterward...

I really don't mind Hunting and Gathering Days. They can be better than Laundry Days, doncha think?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday, Monday

Monday is one of those days when the housework gets done. The other is Thursday. Yes, I am one of those old-fashioned people that believes in housework. I don't farm it out to paid help; I do enlist the other people who live here.

Mondays, the stalls get raked out. Mondays, the beds get stripped. Yes, we wash sheets weekly, odd as that is to many. I remember my mom doing it, and I love the feeling of those clean sheets. So it's worth the work to me. Mondays, the floors get vacuumed, even though we have hard floors everywhere and no carpeting. Mondays, the frig gets cleaned out, and all the stuff that might turn green soon finds a new home in the trash. Other leftovers get slotted in for meals during the week. Oh, yeah, I make up a menu for the week. Sometimes it's just in my head, but, with Matthew and Keri here, we've been writing it out as much as possible. Mondays, the laundry gets started. Laundry for a family of 6 adults takes 2 full days to finish, but we get it done. Mondays, the bathrooms get cleaned, the trash goes out, the cat boxes get scooped, the garden shed gets swept...It's a lot of work, but it feels so good at the end of the day, to have it all done.

At least until Thursday, when it starts all over again!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Last night we got The Call. "I left a rack of hay on the hill for you. I need the rack back by 10:30 tomorrow morning."

That's how it works. The man who cuts the hay on the field behind our house regularly leaves us a rack full of hay when he bales. We unload it and give him his rack back...with a check for the hay. We usually have more time, though, to empty the rack.

This morning we were up at 6am, out at 7, to unload hay. I wish I had $1 for every time I though, "I wish I knew where my camera was." It's gone AWOL again. I had so many neat shots to capture for you. Mary flinging bales off the rack, the morning sun making her a silhouette. John moving hay from the hand truck to the hay tent, little beads of sweat growing on his Army Dad t-shirt. There was even a neat, artsy-fartsy one with soft strands of green grass hay filling the viewfinder, with a small, dried Queen Anne's Lace in the right lower quadrant. Can't you just see it?

About 10, with 120 bales in the tent and another 30-40 still sitting on the driveway, I had to head to work. I came home with fried chicken, beans and watermelon. Keri had made an apple pie. Jay and Kris brought the younglings. It was a nice evening.

Now I'll sit back and relax in front of a movie. Maybe this one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Bleeding Heart

No, this is not another garden essay, although I do have to do something about the bleeding heart. They're getting old...

But this is another matter. Tonight I am worrying about a 7 year-old boy named Joey.

Joey and His Friend came into the store today. I checked their groceries through, and His Friend, a 40-ish man who seemed to have lived a hard life, did not have enough money to pay. He was about $3 short. He said, "If it's OK, I'll just run get more money." I said it would be OK, and off he went, leaving Joey with the groceries.

Now, most people would have meant they were going out to the car, and that is what I assumed. But, no, this Friend left Joey at the store while he drove home for money. I didn't know this. Neither did the lady behind them in line. We waited, me cooing over her toddler boy, she asking about some specials...and Joey anxiously looking out the door. I noticed that he ran to the door about three times, then out the door. When he came in, said, "I can't find him," and began crying, I went to the parking lot with him. That's when we realized he had left.

Joey didn't know His Friend's phone number, nor where he lived (except that it was in the town where the store is, and that Joey actually lived in another town, just over the Illinois-Wisconsin border.) He did tell me his mother's name, stepfather's name, and where he lived...but he didn't know any phone numbers, or the street address.

My manager was no help, telling me that she had customers to help and couldn't help me with the increasingly frantic little boy. Checking through the nice lady with the toddler, I headed to the office to try and call mom. Surely she'd care that this friend had left her son in a grocery store? But, although we searched several phone books and tried to reach directory assistance, we never found a working number.

His Friend, whose name I still do not know, returned. It had been about 20 minutes. He claimed it was "only 5." He told Joey, "I would never leave my food, Bud, and I would never leave you." We looked like a bunch of fussy hens to him, I suppose, and they left. It was the hardest thing I could do, to let him go off with that man, but I had no one to back me up. The kid came in with him, so the kid had to leave with him.

About 20 minutes later, the police showed up. Someone--most likely Toddler Lady, we decided--had called. Finally someone at the store decided to step up for the boy; my manger (remember the one who had customers?) told the officer that "That man was intoxicated." About the only positive thing I could say about the guy was he probably was not. The officer thanked us for caring, and left.

I wonder if I'll sleep tonight?

If you have young children, (remember, Joey is 7) please teach them the basics. Kids as young as 4 can memorize their names, addresses and phone numbers. If nothing else, write it on the inside of a piece of clothing.

And for the sake of all you consider holy, keep kids under 10 with you. They're too young to go off with Your Friends, unless they know those things. Bad Things can happen, even to your kid.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lessons Learned

Some friends just stopped by, and dropped off their dog. They'll be doing college visiting this weekend, and needed a dogsitter. So Shiloh is at doggy camp for a couple of days.

While they were here, they asked for a tour of the garden. Hahahaha! You mean the garden that has become a weed field? Remember how I started this spring? Well, it's not that tidy anymore. As summer begins it's third and final month, things are pretty messy out there. And I am beginning to tally up lessons learned this summer.

Firstly, don't bite off more than you can chew. Our garden started at roughly 40'x60'. When I decided to convert to raised beds, I should have tallied to cost in cedar before I committed my brain to it. It's been easy enough to just say, "Hey, the money's not there for all of the beds. We'll make do this year, and finish up next." But my perfectionistic little brain looks out there and says, "Major fail." It's not, and I really do know it, but I have to keep reminding myself.

Secondly, plant things you know you're going to eat and enjoy. While we like zucchini bread, and zucchini boats, we get tired of them quickly. Why plant three plants? I won't do that next year. One will be enough. Potatoes. We'll need more of those. Tomatoes. More Romas, because I like to can sauce, but fewer slicing tomatoes, because they mostly took up space that Romas could have used. Grape tomatoes will always be there, though!

Weed. Weed religiously. Weed when it's cool, in May and June, when it's too pretty to do work. Because in July and August, when it's too blazing hot to do work, those little weeds you neglected in May and June will be as high as your eye. And you won't like it.

Plant in compost. We have grape tomatoes the size of some Romas you'll see in stores, which are half the size of our Romas. And the flavor....Yes, poop smells badly. But it imparts lovely flavors...Oh, get over it!

I hate picking beans. I hate it. The mosquitoes live under the leaves and leap out to feast when you reach under to pick. I love eating beans. I'll have to find a way to reconcile the two.

That's the beginning of my list of Garden Lessons Learned This Year. I'll have more, I'm sure, before First Frost. But that's six weeks away now. I'd better go see what I can get in the ground before then!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gold Star Mother

I found this clipping on my mom's dresser the other day. We were cleaning out clothes, jewelry and other items that she had collected through the years. I remember seeing this when I was a young mom, maybe 24-25 years old. I sobbed like a baby, thinking, "I hope that won't be my son." I had only one at that time, and would have gone bonkers if someone had told me, as I read this poem, that someday I'd have three, all serving in the military.

It's a little smarmy and silly, but it's all true.

She gave him birth and watched him grow
And dressed him up from toe to toe.
She taught him how to smile and walk,
To eat and drink and how to talk.
She made his lunch for school each day,
And she taught him how to work and play.
She urged him on and helped him choose,
And nursed each cut and bump and bruise.
She guided him from wrong to right,
And she told him how and when to fight.
But most of all, right from the start,
She gave her boy her loving heart.
While he, in turn, was more than glad
To give up all he ever had,
That you and I and other sons
Might never meet the blazing guns.
So let us pay our deep respect,
And solemnly let us reflect
Upon the grave she gave that we
Might carry on to victory.

She told me once that the clipping had come from her mother, who thought it was moving and shared it with her. There is no author cited, so I can't give credit! Thank you, unknown person!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the saddle, yet again!

Yeah, I took an unannounced blogging break. It just seems like there's one thing, then another, then five more. But I will try to be back for good this time.

Celebrated an anniversary this weekend. 29 years. I remember when only old people were married that long. Go figure.

Canned peaches last week. I think I'll freeze them next year. They always float in the jar, leaving me with half jars of peaches for all my work. Frustrating.

I spent yesterday helping my sisters clean out Mom's dresser. I found a poem I had been looking for for a LOOONG time. I will share it here tomorrow. It's titled Gold Star Mother. Bring Kleenex.

Today is planting in the garden, going through old, old, pictures, (some are pre-1920) and heading to work. But I've had some coffee and it's a gorgeous day. If I could sing in public, I'd be singing this today.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Back home again, after 3 days in a foreign land. Indiana, that is.

We came home to RAIN. It started out as simple rainstorm, and became a torrential downpour by the time we got to the house. Since we had planned a campout with our family for the weekend, we were plenty disappointed. We weren't going anywhere, just camping out on the farm, but it is still a disappointment. We still managed to grill some brats and have a nice family evening with all the grandchildren, children and an aunt and uncle thrown in for more noise. We may try it again tonight, although NOAA is still mentioning rain. We'll camp inside tonight, if it happens.

There are beaucoup tomatoes in the garden. I need to hit the WalMarts for some household products, and Woodmans on Monday for groceries. I also want to find some peaches and get them canned. The tomatoes and peaches will make for a hot, steamy canning adventure, but I'll be glad of it in the winter months. And that's what central air is for, right?

A jar of pickles hit the ground last night, courtesy of a helpful grandchild. He was trying to load pop into the frig so it would be cold, and out fell a half gallon jar of that cucumber salad I mentioned a while back. Never fear! There are also plenty of cukes in that garden, so we'll make more. It helps to have Keri here; she jumps in and cooks, slices, and even cleans at the drop of a mention.

So, there's my day. Feed critters, hit the farmers' market, WalMart and a local orchard. Come home, can peaches. Harvest tomatoes. Can those, maybe tomorrow, if I run out of steam (Bwahahahaha!) Grandchildren coming for supper and possibly a sleepover. A normal Saturday, here on the Farm!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On The Road Again

We've left the farm for parts south. Sometime last fall, I decided that we would take this week off, and head out for camping. Well, pardon me for assuming the weather would cooperate. Our intended destination to the north is expecting thunderstorms all this week, so we headed south, to Bloomington, IN, where John's parents live. We're being pampered by Grandma and Grandpa for a couple of days, and forgot our cameras, so we can't even document what we're doing. I guess I'll plan to not blog, so there ya go. Try to continue your life without me. C'mon, you can do it. Yes, you CAN!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pachelbel? Or Paganini?

Yes, I do know which.

We are not big on Praise and Worship services, and our congregation was having one this morning. We also had a friend riding at the Fair, so, between the two, we had a Perfect Storm that, yes, tempted us away from worship to the Fairgrounds instead.

I headed home when the rain started (another storm, a not-so-perfect one, this time) and was reading some e-mail. This song was played at our wedding, 29 years ago on the 22nd of this month. I saw this version this morning, thanks to a friend from Iowa, and had to share. My favorite part, if you'd like to know, comes at about the 4 minute mark.

I will apologize in advance, as some of what Ethan calls The Dark Language Which Must Not Be Spoken Here is used in the introduction. But it's a fun video, anyway! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Much, much news, here at the Farm.

Firstly, if you take a look at my Profile, you will see a slight change. Matthew has left the Army, and is driving home to Illinois today. Last we heard, about an hour ago, he had gotten himself into Missouri. We expect him home sometime tomorrow morning. Keri, who has been here for about a month, is thrilled to have him getting closer! He's not leaving military service, however. He's joined the Illinois National Guard, and will be reporting there in about a month.

Yesterday was our 4H Fair. Mary showed her horse, Wakiya, and her friend, Lindsay, showed my horse, Hope. Several ribbons were earned, some fun was had, and we have many stories to tell. We came home exhausted and overwhelmed, but it was a good experience overall. I'll be sharing some of it over the next few days.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Wisdom comes in many forms, and comes to us through many avenues. This morning, while checking my usual webpages, I checked out the latest cartoon at DBS. Well, he's also got a Facebook page, where, this morning, his wife was asking,"We all like a good motto, right? Do you have a personal motto?" Some of the wisest words I ever read are in those mottoes that were posted. Most, I am guessing, were posted by active or former members of the US military. We hope those guys and girls are using their noggins out there.

The greatest risk is not taking one.

The worst thing you can do is fail miserably and become the laughingstock of the entire free world.

If we're facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.

If you fall down 10 times, stand up 11.

It is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. (My personal permutation of this is It saves more time to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.)

If the enemy is in range, then so are you! (Of course, many of these have military significance. But I can also see civilian applications in them, even this one!)

When in doubt, get a bigger hammer.

Pain is good. It means you're still alive.

Smart people know the answers. Geniuses know where to find them.

When going through Hell, DON'T STOP, keep going.

If you can't duck it, well, you're supposed to do something to it that rhymes with duck. You can figure it out.

Illegitimus non carborundum. (Modern street Latin for don't let the...bad guys...make it hard for you. People in the military often use colorful metaphors. We call it Military Mouth at our house.)

Love many, trust few, and ALWAYS cut the cards.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do. (Someone was thinking seriously.)

Deeds, not words.

If Engineers were supposed to be sociable, the Army wouldn't have given us concertina wire.

I set out to save the world, but I saw something shiny. (That one's for Mary.)

Trust, but verify. (One of my favorites; I've used it since I was pretty young.)

Does it affect the fate of the free world? (When my kids would argue or bicker over some petty thing, I would ask them something like this.)

Find anything in there you'd like to make your own? Have one to add? I'd love to see them! Use the Comments page.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've Heard Enough

I've heard enough about President Obama's birth certificate. It seems there are some who can't let this drop. Here's my take on it. I'll pretend you care.

His citizenship is cloudy. He should clear it up. He won't. We have two choices.

Obsess about it and divide those whose principles, united, could effect some real change, as soon as this fall.

Let it go and get on with the work of restoring what has been degraded in the past two years.

Seems simple to me. I'm letting it go. Not forgetting, but letting it go.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


It means stew, or pottage, and it's derived from an Old English word meaning moose. (Go figure.) In Switzerland, it's a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts. My friend's mother, who was from Switzerland, introduced me to this yummy stuff when I was about 11. I found a recipe about 2 years ago, and make it often.

You need rolled oats, (I used the old-fashioned kind that take 5 minutes to cook) milk, yogurt, raisins, apples, bananas, blueberries (or three other fruits; I use these three) and nuts. Oh, and a little citrus juice and maple syrup or honey.

3 cups of oats go into a bowl, and you pour 1 1/2 cups of milk over them.

They sit for about half an hour; usually enough time to start the coffee, start a load of wash, let the dogs out, then back in, feed them, let them out again, and put 1/4 c of raisins in 1/4 c of hot water. They sit for 15 minutes. (Kind of a psychedelic photo, doncha think?)

While the oats and raisins are soaking, cut up a banana; I usually cut it in half lengthwise, and then slice it into 1/4 inch slices.

Grate three apples; the original recipe calls for them to be peeled, but, I figure, the more fiber the merrier.

Pour 1/4 c orange juice and 2T lemon juice over the bananas and apples.

I have used all orange or all lemon, but the mixture of the two seems "brighter," if that makes sense. Mix the fruit with the juices; the juices will slow down the process of the fruit turning brown, while it gives it that nice flavor.

When the oats are done soaking, pour in 1/4 c honey or maple syrup; I use the syrup.

It's not as sweet, if you can imagine that, and has a more mellow taste. I tried to get by with just 2T today, but I had to use the full amount. I'm such a conformist! This is also the time to add 6T plain yogurt.

I use Greek yogurt; this container is just 6 ounces, or 6 T, so, in it went. It isn't my favorite brand; this one is, but the one in my hand is the one I had available. Stir this all together.

Drain the raisins. Toss them into the mix. Add 1 c blueberries and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (any kind; I like almonds.) Stir gently together. I like this best with hot coffee, in my chair out on the deck, while listening to the birds sing. Your mileage may vary!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

The Good News of a crucified and living Savior does not trivialize human struggles--the struggles of women, of problem pregnancies, of difficult situations. It speaks to them! The Good News defeated death and brings real love and compassion and neighborliness to bear in dealing with human struggles in very personal and practical ways. Life, not death, is our source of help and hope.

Lutherans For Life

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

We had about 2" of nice, gentle rain last night. The garden and lawn are so happy; my horse, less so. Hope is not a "mudder;" maybe that's why she wouldn't get into the trailer again today. She did fine on Thursday, but balked today. That's probably the excuse she would use, but I think it's pure laziness.

We had Jackie and Bucky out this week for swimming in the pond. My desktop is also balking today, and my laptop is just too doggone slow to upload photos, so I'll have to wait until Monday or so to share the photos I took.

Friday night we had a special meal for my birthday. Keri and Kris were nice enough to make me ribs, corn on the cob, salad with raspberries and blueberries, and strawberry shortcake with cream whipped by Mary. It was a delicious meal, topped off with coffee and Bailey's, John's contribution. All in all, a good day.

Today has been grey until now. It's also been cooler, but still extremely humid. Enough to curl my stick-straight hair! As if I should complain. John will be home for the next two weeks, with short interruptions for paying work. We'll finally be getting done some desperately needed farm work. And some desperately needed rest.

For now, though, it's Saturday afternoon. The sun just poked out, the cicadas are humming, and it's a soft, quiet afternoon. Just right for napping. So, guess what I'll do next? Yep. Head to work. Have a nice evening!

Friday, July 30, 2010

They Fought For You

I turn 51 today. I want to thank all the men and women of the military for making it possible for me to have a safe, happy birthday. I will always be grateful.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Daily Work

It just never ends. I spent Monday and Tuesday just slogging through life, getting things done as I went along. Today, there's still a to-do list as long as my arm.

Someone who was not Christian once asked me if I really thought I'd like sitting on a cloud all day with a harp. Hey, after all this work...that would be delightfully mind-numbing!

Tried to mow the lawn today. Mower wouldn't start. Went shopping instead, for feed and hamburger for supper. (I have a freezer full of the stuff, but had forgotten to take it out to thaw. It was too late to try the plastic-bag-in-the-sink trick, and we don't own a microwave.) Sue at the Feed store and I had a little chat about the upcoming fair, and I ordered broiler chicks for mid-September.

After lunch, I made some chocolate chip cookies. The grandchildren will be over tonight, and, last time, I was told, "Grandma, you haven't made cookies in a while." It reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes; especially, the many times Calvin would list his dad's "approval ratings" as a father. I figured I wanted mine to be high, and I had butter and chocolate chips, so, what the hey, I made cookies.

I mixed grain, organized a little in the barn, and headed inside.

Now I have to start supper. What was it my friend said? "There's no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need any." Bah.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Family Business

I went today to help fulfill one of my mom's requests. In 1958, my parents had a son. Paul Lee lived only 24 hours, and was ultimately buried at the feet of my paternal grandmother, who had died only a couple of years before. My mom asked that, after she died, we move Paul to the foot of her grave (or thereabouts.)

That meant dealing with two cemeteries, two county governments and a funeral director. As if that wasn't complicated enough, 52 years had not been kind to the remains of a 7-month infant buried in a simple container. Eddie the gravedigger dug carefully, but all that was found was discolored soil. We filled a small container with it, leaving some and his marker at the original cemetery. We took the container to the new one, interring him right over Mom's heart/lap area.

We then went to a local, family-owned monument company, where we picked out what looks to be a simple, dignified marker. It will have a little camping (their favorite activity) scene along with the names of my parents and brother.

Every piece of this day was handled quietly, personably and with great respect. I am so thankful!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Wonderful Day

What a glorious day! I was up early, but not too early, and, after eating, headed for the garden. Got another planting of green beans, carrots, lettuces and radishes in. I fed the critters. I mowed the strawberries. (You know, I shoulda taken a picture of that. It would have helped when I post about the strawberry renovation I'm working on. Oh, well.) I picked the hot peppers. Then I got heat exhaustion. Really. I had been working about two hours, and realized I was hot, shaky, headachy and not thinking clearly. I headed inside, where I tried the Cure; a glass of water. Didn't work fast enough, so I got into a cool shower. What a lovely thing that was!

I recovered quickly, and, after lunch, got my minions to help me clean house. After a nap, I rode my horse. I haven't had time to do that in ages, and it was lovely. She's learning to neckrein, at the age of 18. As that appears, according to this website, to be about 42 years in human years, well, she's younger than I, and should be able to learn! But, given that I've never really taught a horse much of anything, I'm feeling pretty good about it. Especially since I ended my ride with a nice wash-up and a Shiner Bock!

Tonight Jay and Kris are cooking dinner for us; ribeyes, corn on the cob, potatoes au gratin (well, I did make those) and some of that cucumber salad I mentioned the other day. I can smell the mesquite and the potatoes, so I'd better let you all go. Here's something to enjoy while you're surfing the web tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

We had some terrific storms late last week, which gave us about 5" or so of rain. Rain is a good thing. I didn't realize how good until we moved to the country. Our income has never, and still doesn't, depend on the weather and the growing season, and may never depend on that. We've had lots of opportunities, though, to observe those around us who do depend on the weather and good crops to put food on their tables. By that, I don't just mean a good crop of tomatoes in the family garden. I'm talking about the folks around here, mostly corn and soybean growers, who work doggone hard to get a good crop each year. Sometimes they even get one.

Last year it really hit home to us, because the hay harvest was so nasty. We had already struggled with bad corn and soybeans causing our animals' feeds to go up significantly in price during the previous two summers. Finally it hit the hay, which is just dry grass, after all, and not so susceptible to weather and other factors. With the long, cool, wet spring we had, followed by a cool, wet summer, the hay was stemmy and sparse and often rotted in the field before it could be baled. The price went up, even for the garbagy stuff that resulted. Our "hay guy" drove up to Green Bay, Wisconsin, before he found hay good enough for his customers, which include one of the local feed stores. We paid painful prices for good hay last summer. While we're getting better hay locally this year, it seems the price isn't going down much. That's more a factor of people like us being willing to pay more last year; why bring the price down now?

This year, though, we seem to be getting good rain at good times. The temperatures and the sun seem to be cooperating to produce healthy plants and what looks to be a good crop, come September and October. Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

Along with the facts about abstinence, parenting, adoption and abortion, it is important for parents to talk with their teens before a crisis. Teens needs to know there is nothing they could ever do that could not be handled with God's help.

Lutherans For Life

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Funny

Thanks to my dad, a chuckle for you all;

All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom; the bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand. The guests in the front pews responded with ripples of laughter. Even the priest smiled broadly. As her father gave her away in marriage, the bride gave him back his credit card.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Totals

14 cups of grated zucchini, frozen in small packages for winter baking.

13 loaves of zucchini bread in the freezer. Make that 12. There's also a loaf of banana bread in there. (Elisha, Kris, Jay's fiance, says her mom freezes these breads all the time, and they thaw wonderfully.)

About a gallon and a half of dill pickles, um, pickling, in brine in the frig.

One chocolate zucchini cake, which everyone agreed was delicious.

A little more than half a gallon of cucumber salad dressed with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Yum. We'll probably get tired of eating it before we run out of it, but it's going to be "Yum" until then!

Six garlic braids, made from the garlic I dug on Monday. I also boiled about a third of those Red Pontiac potatoes from Monday. They'll be potato salad, au gratin potatoes, hash browns and other yummy concoctions over the next week or so.

May I go to bed now?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday--What To Do With All That Zucchini Edition

The Pack

We're a bit overrun with critters these days. We've actually got the farmyard animals under control; 2 horses, 4 sheep, 2 goats. The goats are headed for the freezer, as are 2 of the sheep. Then there are about 15 hens and 10 turkeys; those last are also headed for the freezer.

But inside...Inside...We have 4 dogs, 2 cats, a turtle and a guinea pig. Hammie the guinea pig is visiting with Keri, and the turtle is a hatchling we're fostering until fall. We've done this before; found a youngling outside in late spring, raised it until fall, and then let it go. The first time, I called the Chicago Herpetological Society for advice, hoping they would suggest we let it go. Ethan was younger, and was very excited to have found this little thing. It still had its egg tooth, which suggested it was less than 48 hours old. But, no, I was told that, at that age, they're raccoon bait. The best thing for the turtle (but what about ME?) was to raise it inside for the summer, and then let it go into a pond in the fall. So we did, and are doing that again with the little one we found this year.

The dogs. We have Henry, the 5 year-old corgi, who Mary took to obedience class this spring, placing 4th in the county. We'll be heading to State fair in late August. Skye is her dog, the Border collie mix she adopted this past winter. Skye was "too young" to go to class this spring, although she's been learning apace with Henry when Mary has time to school her. Jip, the Jack Russell mix, is not getting along well with Skye. He is more of a suburban dog than a farm dog, we're finding, and is going to need a new home. One of my jobs, now that we're out from under, is to find that home for him. And Rambo, the wonder Cheweenie, (chihuahua/dachshund mix) is also visiting with Keri, although John may hide him from her when she and Matthew move out and tell her he ran away. The two of them are forging quite the bond.

And the cats. We have Four Socks, who will stay here until she dies, which may be sooner rather than later, if she insists on continuing to escape periodically. And then there's Buster, I mean, Nero, who belongs to Jay and Kris. THEY'D BETTER COME GET HIM SOON, before John really gets tired of him jumping on the counters and falling in the toilets and digging in the plants and hiding in the cabinets, and scratching up the sofas and dressers and sleeping in the napkin basket and...

I know you've all met them before, but I thought I'd remind you of the chaos, I mean, joy, that fills our home. As I always say, "Pets add so much to our lives!"