Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How about some "Country"?

Tom and I have been out and about for a couple of weeks, shopping for a tiller. We need one in working order... NOW. Due to circumstances beyond MY control- obtaining a working tiller was put off repeatedly during the pre-Spring season. Spring is here NOW! And finding a tiller or fixing either of the elderly two machines we have has not happened. We have gone out two days in a row, and came back empty handed trucked. On the way home the first day, Mr C realized we had not even checked our most local farm and ranch store. He completely hates to shop there. However, if they had a tiller, he was willing to at least look.
I called the store. The phone was answered by a younger sounding female... who seemed completely clueless as to what a rototiller (tiller) even was. She put me on hold to begin the torture procedure. Horribly loud "country" music was blasting into my ear. (Daniel has previously observed, stores play country music to discourage loitering.) When I was just about to hang up so that I could stop the blood coming out of my ears, a young male picked up the phone, asking to help. He, too, seemed clueless as to what exactly a rototiller was. I had to describe its purpose, but finally he decided that yes, Atwoods does indeed have tillers in stock.
Tom and I had almost made it home by that time, so I did some online comparisons to other nearby farm and ranch stores. The next day we set out again, Atwoods as the first stop. Atwoods lived up to their usual standard. We looked over four tillers before we found one that had all of its parts intact, and wasn't about to fall apart. Seriously, the first three were missing nuts, bolts, oil plug, almost rusted through... and were being sold for "new"- at the price of new. When we finally found one that seemed OK, we decided we weren't chancing the buy. (On a previous experience with Atwoods, we purchased an extension ladder. Got home, and discovered the ladder's safety catches were broken, rendering it useless as an extension ladder. We returned it, where our money was refunded, as it was the only extension ladder they had in stock. The clerk asked the manager for help in completing the transaction- should she tag the ladder as damaged/ remove from stock? The manager said no, he would just discount it and sell it "as is". A week or two later, I had to go back into that store. The ladder- the SAME ladder- was back in stock. It was NOT marked damaged- and it was not repaired. Some other person will someday get that ladder home and find it damaged! That just seems dishonest. We had to make an extra trip to return the ladder- and while we may only be a dozen miles from town, someone else might live much farther away.)
Another thing I dislike about Atwoods is that the merchandise is often without any price tag to be found. You have to take the merchandise to a register, or corner a reluctant employee to inquire about price. This store is poorly lit, and often seems quite dirty... plus there is the vomitous country music blasting. (Sam puts on an obnoxious twangy tone of voice, "Thanks fer listenin' to Aitch E Ail Ail ! Awl Kuntry, Awl the ty-em! That's  station H-E-L-L, all country, all the time!")

We moved on to other (CLEANER!) Farm and Ranch stores (Orscheln, and Tractor Supply) that also play country music, but at a less deafening volume... however, we still came home without a tiller. Tom spaded the earth into submission in the previously tilled up area- and we MIGHT have to settle for a smaller garden this year, awaiting repair of either of our currently owned tillers.
*** In Other News***
I have an appointment this week to get a diagnostic mammogram. A lump- which the doctor believes is a fluid filled cyst- has been found. As it is rather painful, I am hoping they will consent to draining it, as has been done with other cysts I have had.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Five years

I hardly know what to say. Five years ago today was the last time I spoke to my son, Bill.
Most days, I do fine. Some days, the least little thing sets me off in tears. Yesterday, a co-worker mentioned she hoped we get a good snow before the winter is over, so that she and her grandkids can run barefoot through the snow. Tears sprang right up in my eyes, and I was sobbing before I could stop myself. The poor woman thought she'd said something wrong- trying to quickly explain how walking barefoot in the snow for a few minutes was an old custom to strengthen the immune system.
  But I had remembered Bill, and the barefoot in the snow incident, and it just hit. I miss him so much. (When Bill was about nine, we had a big snowfall. He asked to check the mail- and ran out the door in his bare feet. A few minutes later, Becky heard him crying,  "Bring me my shooooooeees!" as he laid in the snow with his cold feet in the air.)
  He's been gone 1825 days.
Most of the time, I am comforted. We talk to one another in my dreams from time to time. I always seem to know I am dreaming, and that he is gone, yet there we are.  We laugh and talk, and when it is time for me to awaken, he says goodbye, and I wake up with a light heart. And there are times when I reach for the phone to call him, and the loss hits so hard.
More often than not, I can laugh at the good times we had.
This was a big anniversary- five years. First, it was one month... then two, six months, a year. My heart still hurts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Small change(s)

Last week's casserole was a big hit with the guys. Tom ASKED to take leftovers for his lunch the next day! When I have time, perhaps I can add it to "Cooking with the Cow Crew".
Friday saw me washing dishes at The Wooden Spoon- and I was offered (and accepted) more hours! I am now Assistant Culinary Utensil Sanitation Specialist on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10-3. That starts TODAY! Today, being Valentines Day, the Spoon is having a rare non-Friday evening opening. Normally, The Wooden Spoon is open M-F, 10:30- 2. Then on Friday evening, 5-9 pm. On these rare occasions when the Spoon has a special opening, they take reservations, such as tonight. I get to work tonight as well- so it is almost working a double. Not quite, though, as I only have five hours this morning, then perhaps five more this evening.
I like working at The Spoon. Nobody yells at me. People do not cuss, at all. People help one another in every task, if help is needed. We all have a common goal- to cook, serve, and clean up. And everyone helps. If I fall behind in dishwashing, people step in and help put away dishes, or scrub stubborn pots. If I am all caught up, I find ways to help. Last week, I got to help the salad maker prepare the carrots for the salads.
The owners of the Spoon work with people when they need time off, so I can go with Tom on his vacation weeks- something I couldn't do with most jobs.  Starting at 10 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will give me time to do my garden chores, and take care of the chickens when we eventually get them. Getting off at 3 leaves time for canning, if I need to,  and cooking supper. Fridays I will be working 8- about 3:30 or 4.

My Dad's 80th birthday is coming up in a few more weeks. Grand Daughter Alana's is the day before Dad's- she will be an amazing 14 years old! Even closer than Dad's birthday is Nickole's. Nickole will be 8! Dad doesn't want a party- feeling his 75th birthday party was quite enough of a disaster. (They were robbed during the party, and less than a week later, Bill Joe passed away.) So, we are honoring his no- party wish. However, I want to ask everyone reading this, to PLEASE send him a birthday card! Contact me if you need his address. His birthday is March 6th, so please mail your cards by the 3rd or 4th.) Maybe his grandchildren can enclose pictures of their families- I haven't sent him any swiped pictures in a long time, and little ones grow up so fast. (He also likes dark chocolate caramels with sea salt, and loves to read- if anyone wanted to send a gift!)
For now, the time has come to prepare for work. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Happy, Happy

It is easy to make me happy!  I was feeling quite terrible on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I plugged along at work Friday, trying not to whine TOO much. Saturday, I barely got out of bed. By Sunday, I felt quite a bit better. It was a warm, sunny day, with barely any breeze at all. Tom and the boys changed oils and cleaned vehicles, while I sat on a log and "minded" the burning brush pile. The guys had already split the larger branches and lesser trunks of the downed trees that had shaded the garden area.  Sitting in the gentle winter sun, by a nice bonfire, doing non-strenuous work was just what I needed.
Monday, Daniel was granted an unexpected day off. Once Tom and I got back from our WalMart run, Dan unloaded and put away the groceries. Tom napped; I unloaded the pantry, and explained to Daniel what I wanted to do to organize it better. I needed a couple of narrow boards to add a few shelves, which I planned to make from leftover plywood already on hand. Once Tom woke up, I dragged him into my project. (I had intended to do the laundry room cupboard, which also needs a shelf... but one project at a time is about all we had room for!) It was five thirty by the time we finally finished the pantry. I still had to put everything back into the pantry, cook supper, clean the kitchen... there was no time for the laundry room! I can probably use a couple of the makeshift racks I had in the pantry to remedy the laundry room cupboard.
Today (Tuesday!) I ran the errands we missed out on yesterday, and picked up the items we missed getting Monday. A miscommunication at the grocery store left us without tea. It was not on my list, but I thought someone had said we were out of Sleepytime. I asked Tom, who was looking for our brand of bread, if we were out of Sleepytime Tea. He said no. So I got my Constant Comment  and some Matcha tea, and we continued our shopping. Then at bedtime, someone asked if we had bought Sleepytime. I said, "No. I asked Dad if we needed it and he said no." From another room, Tom called out, "I thought you asked me if *I* had gotten the Sleepytime. That's what I said NO to!"
So, we missed tea... and peanut butter. The last tablespoon was used up this morning. I already had to go to Aldi for our cheese, chips, yogurt, and produce. What's one more stop?
I am actually quite pleased over my errands over all today. 38 mile round trip, eleven stops, and I was home by twelve-thirty. (That's not even counting that I was two miles from the house on the trip out, when I realized I had left my over-due library books on the couch. I had to turn around to get them!) Filled the car with gas, went to the library, post office, bank, Lowes... to apply for a job. (Which I couldn't, because, even though they have a banner out front that says "NOW HIRING!", they do not, in fact, have any openings.) From Lowes, to Wal Mart for the peanut butter and tea. Then to another bank. An (unplanned) quick stop at Dayspring card outlet, then Aldi, Tractor Supply, and finally, a quick drive through at Panda Express for a lunch bowl.
I had to stop at Tractor Supply to get a new "live trap". The "live traps" come in two packs- a large with a small. Our last two pack, we got at Atwoods. On about the seventh or eighth possum captured, a piece was lost from the larger trap. Tom continued to use the smaller trap. Last night, yet another "ugly kitty" was caught. Tom sat the cage behind the car so he wouldn't forget to take the ugly kitty off and release it "elsewhere". He left the trunk open to remind him of the cage behind the car, and came back inside to get ready for work.
As you have probably guessed, it would of been better to set the caged animal next to the driver's door, rather than behind the car. Tom jumped into the car and backed right over the cage! Fortunately, the possum was just fine. The cage was damaged beyond salvaging, and once the critter was released, the cage was tossed into the dumpster. This is probably the tenth or eleventh opossum caught trying to get under the house, so we really do HAVE to have live traps set pretty much all the time.
Since getting back from errands, I used my favorite purchase of the day to organize my mugs and glasses in the cupboard. An "expandable" wire mesh shelf from Aldi ($4.99) gave me two more feet of room in the cabinet where my cups and glasses live! Happy, Happy me!
Now, I suppose I'd best get off the computer and go prep supper. I am going to make enchiladas with chicken, avocado, and green sauce. Corn tortillas, to stay off the flour products as much as possible, and will likely make it as a casserole, rather than actual rolled enchiladas- just because it is easier. (Also, I've noticed the guys eat less when it is casserole, as opposed to rolled enchiladas.)
Have a blessed day, Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Still alive!

With the really terrible internet connection and speed, it seems I have nearly stopped blogging. Here it is February, and this is what? my second post of 2017?
Benjamin and Paula came to visit this past weekend, and we had a great time. Jasher is very much his daddy all over again. Little Althea tried hard to keep up with Jasher, but came away with a number of  bumps and bruises.
The boys (so hard to think of all my sons as men!) helped Tom take out several trees shading the proposed garden area. The trees also leaned far over the neighbors fence, with long reaching branches. One branch broke off a few weeks back and took out a section of fence. As the trees came down, we could see it was only a matter of time before they came down on their own, being hollowed and ant filled in their hearts. Tom built me a bin for compost.
The guys (and Paula) played Frisbee- and as usual with this bunch- it became a very physical sport. All the guys were sore from tree felling, fence repairs, and Frisbee. While the trees were coming down, the fence was taken down and moved out of their gravity path. The boys took turns demonstrating mad dance moves- or as they called it - "Ninja skills"- to the neighbor's curious herd of cows. The cows stood back far enough to avoid contact with these strangely gyrating humans. Jasher and Althea got out the preschool ride-on toys that the former owners left here. Jasher had a great time being pulled way too fast around the yard by his Daddy and Uncles. When Jasher had had enough fun and tumbles, Daniel and Sam took turns pulling one another around in the little car. The next day, Jasher decided the driveway and yard were too rough to ride on. He pulled the smaller car to the top of the storm cellar, which has a sloped concrete roof and a smooth metal door. He pushed the car around for a bit- testing how it landed when pushed off the cellar roof- a drop of 10 or so inches. Then he invited Bill Joe Althea to go for the first test ride. Althea obliged. She extracted herself from the wreckage before any adults could intervene... and helped Jasher get the car set up for another run. It reminded me so much of Bill Joe's grand ideas on how something fun really OUGHT to work. Floaties on his feet to try and walk on water. A tarp duct taped to his wrists and ankles so he could glide off the roof off the barn like a flying squirrel. (Thankfully, his glide belly flop from the roof of the barn was cushioned by a manure heap.)
Today, I got the last of the bedding washed and folded. The small hand and face prints are (sadly) cleaned from the door glass. The toys are back in the cardboard box, to be carried out to storage until the next visit. The house is terribly quiet.
In other 'news'... I am working on Friday mornings as the daytime dishwasher at The Wooden Spoon. I was concerned about my ability to DO the job, but so far, I have managed. I think both my times to do it have been "slow" days. I stayed on top of the incoming dishes, and fell behind a few times on putting away, when others would help out as their tasks slowed down. I do come home completely wiped out! It is the kind of job where the day passes quickly, because you don't stop. I still have applications out in other places, but haven't heard back from any of these.
That's about all from here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

One To Ten

Here it is January already- the tenth!  Tom and I made a trip to see Miss Katie and the West Texas bunch over New Year's weekend. She is certainly a bundle of cute, only just beginning to plump up. (If I had better internet access, I would certainly share pictures!)
The Bolt Internet company was out this week, taking measurements to lay the fiber optic lines, to get us a super-fast internet speed. They won't even be started until February, we are told, and it could be June before we actually have it out to our house. Meanwhile, we growl in frustration at the poor "hot spot"- both for its slow speed and unreliability, as much as for its expense.
I have an application in for desk clerk at a new Holiday Inn Express being built in Siloam Springs. Meanwhile, I was asked to come back to the Spoon as a part time Culinary Utensil Sanitation Specialist, on Friday mornings. I am going to TRY. It is a very physical job.
  The last week or more seems to have been run, run, run! Errands almost every day, even the days I intended to stay put. Yesterday, Tom and I split the running. He went for groceries, I accompanied The Individuals to a surgical evaluation . They are both having wisdom teeth removed next week. We got home and got busy on a few chores, only to remember at the last instant, it was the day of the Mennonite School Blood Drive. I made a really fast supper, and we were off to donate blood. Getting home after 7:00, the boys opted for a second supper. I got the clothes washed earlier into the dryer... (at least I was TRYING to. I got the load from the dryer, and returned to find Sam putting the wet clothes in. When I thanked him, he said: "I'm always right here to serve my own interests!, Uh, I mean, You're welcome, Mom". I laughed.
On the homestead chores lately, I decided it wasn't terribly imperative to clean out the martin houses. Instead, I cut down the dead flower canes from the hibiscus and other standing flower stalks. Tom and Sam worked on clearing deadfall, rocks, dead leaves, and errant weeds from a non- yard section adjacent to the designated garden plot. This was to be the bee area. After an entire afternoon of work, Tom and Sam decided on an entirely different place for the bees. That's just how things go when you are figuring out a new place. Sam will be ordering his hive kits and bee "nucs" in the next couple of days. (A "nuc" is a nucleus of bees. A queen and a start of workers. Sam is getting two.) (We have to go GET the nucs, in late May. But they have to be ordered now, before they sell out. Sam found a supplier about an hour and a half from here.)
The weather has been cold and windy, overcast and just a touch unpleasant outside. Too "blowy" to try and remove a tin roof from the last dog pen. It warmed up enough to take off one layer of coats as I worked.
 The winds have now changed directions, blowing in warm from the south. Today is supposed to be in the upper 60*s! I have a pot of beans on to cook/ soak. The library to get to, as well as the inevitable return trip to the grocery store. It seems like, without fail, the moment we get back from the grocery store, a new list starts. Items we run out of right that day, which no one realized was running low. Items we REALLY needed, but failed to be written on the list. It was amusing to me yesterday, after we divided lists, and got home- Tom and I had duplicated items! One list was for our small, local health food store. None of us were going in that direction yesterday, not even close. However, the boys and I made much better time getting all the way to Bentonville than we had anticipated. With a solid 45 minutes to spare, I was less than a mile from the large health food store. I got the items I remembered from that list. I got home to find these items already on the shelf. Tom had gone out of his way to go to the more local place.
The boys have an "after-holiday" party this evening... a late Christmas party, if you will. (The Spoon was far too busy during the holidays to have their annual employee shindig!) The theme this year is "Retro". We stopped and shopped for gifts for them to trade. While shopping, I actually picked up another item Tom and I had mentioned getting for the homestead- and then put it back down. A peeve of mine is not being able to find a marked price on items, nor on the shelf! So I walked out without getting a mineral block to put in the woods for attracting wildlife.... and just as well. Tom came home with one himself!
If the weather co-operates this coming weekend, we have several trees to fell. A large branch from one fell across the neighbor's fence on Christmas Day. This tree, and its nearby companions are not only hazarding the fence, but would make the garden spot a bit too shady. Tom got the materials to repair the fence, which we will have to take down for a section, to drop the trees. Once the trees are removed... (more than just cut down- also cut and split and MOVED) we need to start tilling the garden spots. Give the roots a chance to die off, the ground cover a chance to compost before planting time.
I am LOVING the path the boys have been working on. It really is like hiking one of the beautiful State Parks. I can hardly wait for it to have complete loops. The leaf blower was a great idea. (Sam invested in a leaf blower. A pretty smart thing when you live on 30 acres of trees.)
(I have mentioned Sam working the property several times... Dan does too. But he has been off gallivanting the country during several of the most recent projects. :) )
That's my update. Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

End of the year...

This year really has flown by. We moved TWICE... not a lot of fun, I can tell you. I got to have quite a few of the grandkids visit over the summer. That WAS fun! We have been getting settled into our OWN home, for the first time in more than a decade. We got a new grand daughter- Katie Sterling Jones was born to Becky and Stephen on Dec. 17th. Our son Stephen (TOMMY!) graduated from Christ for the Nations with a certificate in World Missions. Daughter-in-law Paula is graduating any day now, as a Master Herbologist. Sam is midway through his second year as an apprentice electrician.
There is ALWAYS something to do here on the homestead. We have been planning a nice sized garden, and are currently in the "but first" stage. The stage where you want or need to get something accomplished, but first you have to do something else that is time consuming and/or expensive. This home sits in a heavily wooded area. There is little sunlight available for a garden. While we really want to get the garden areas tilled up, we first need to clear out some trees. Clearing out trees will also mean removing some stumps. And in other areas, we will need to build some raised beds, as the main soil here is more stone than soil!
This past weekend, Tom and Sam and I were busy tearing out some eyesore dog runs. These were chain link enclosures with corrugated metal roofs. (Rooves?) One came away intact. Another came to pieces. The third is still standing, as we ran out of daylight and gitty-up. We MAY be able to re-purpose the frames as greenhouses. Some of the metal can go to the recycler, and we may be able to re-purpose part of it. (I am hoping to use a portion to make a compost "bin"... BUT FIRST we have to decide where we want the compost bin!)
Maybe I can use part of the corrugated metal to construct a poultry house. There are so many predators, I doubt we can manage totally free range poultry. I need guineas to reduce our tick population, and I want some chickens for eggs and possibly dinner. But First, we have to make a place for them.
The boys want to build an outdoor, wood fired pizza oven. I envision it also having a grill side- as the current grill is one of the little city park style, maybe 12"x15" . NOT big enough for company!
We (mostly the Individuals and I) have been discussing the merits of a farm stand garden. The nearest "bigger" town to us, Siloam Springs, has a lovely Farmer's Market downtown two or three times a week. I can grow a few items that not only will WE enjoy, but which could also make profit enough to BE my job.
Sam plans to have his honey bees started this spring, so by fall, we would be able to offer local honey. If we can get the chickens going soon, we could offer organic, cage free eggs. I can put out a selection of Paula's PBJ Herbal products. Perhaps offer aprons. I can do jellies, and my mom suggested some baked goods. I am hoping to have a large variety of peppers in the garden, and create my own chile powder and spice blends. I am also hoping that our woods does produce a good crop of morel mushrooms!
This summer, Camp CowGranny just might have to be a concentrated week or so of as many of the grands as we can get, at a time when Becky may be able to come and assist me, if I DO have a regular job by then.
That's what's up with us! We are supposed to have internet (reliable internet!) before summer. I will be so grateful! This "hotspot" is temperamental, unreliable, slow, ... and EXPENSIVE.