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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I AM "McGyver"!!!

Today was QUITE the day. I got up and got my regular Tuesday routine ordered. I set out bacon and sausage from the freezer, planning to make the guys some breakfasts. I made several phone calls, getting information as far flung as cat spaying, homestead tax exemptions, and Texas prison commissary regulations. I wrote letters, hung curtains, decided supper, and had laundry going. I did debate myself on whether or not I was actually going to go to the library or not- our home internet really stinks. I was going to get a few gifts ordered, and check on some job web sites, plus grab a few new books to read. I had my second load of clothes in the washing machine when I decided yes, I WOULD go to the Post office and library.
I gathered my books. I put my package and letters to be mailed into my book bag.  I made sure all the windows were locked, the sliding patio door secured. Made sure my keys were on purse; and set out the door, locking it carefully behind me. I got into the car and reached for my keys, attached to my purse.
No purse? Only my book bag?
This cannot be right. A second and third look confirm: I do NOT have my purse. My purse has ALL my keys- both car and house. Tom carries our shared cell phone on a regular basis, unless I am traveling. No cell phone.
I am locked out of the house. My car keys are inside the house. It is 39*- the high for the day already passed.
Assess the situation.  The well house is not locked, and has a heater inside. I walked to the well house and turned the heat up a bit. Then, back out to check all the windows and doors. Sure enough... all are securely locked. I carried the ladder around the house, checking every window. No one has left one unlatched. I tried the doors... All are locked. I tried the "credit card"  latch release. Doesn't work here. After much searching, I found some wire... I discovered I cannot "pick" a lock, as some of my children are adept at.
Back to the warmth of the well house. There is a small bench in there... not comfortable, but a seat at least. And in the fridge in the well house- a bottled margarita! (So the day isn't a total loss!)
I have more than six hours before I can count on anyone being home. What do I do? Fend off neighborhood dogs and walk a couple of miles to see if anyone is home? Stay near the house where I know there is heat and water? (And, as I discovered, paper towels in the unlocked car, so "necessities" could be taken care of... and HAND SANITIZER!)
I stayed home. Do I sit in the well house for the six plus hour wait?
 I decide that this is as good a time as I can be forced into accepting to transplant the rose bushes that are in the way of the carport. The tool shed is not locked. I retrieve the shovel and post hole digger, and set to work. Just over an hour later, I have three adequate holes excised into the rocky soil near the fence line. The rosebushes are moved. I return to the well house and warm up again. I decide to carry the letter to the street mailbox- not a long task, but chilled in the cool air.
The sky remains heavily overcast. I trudged back to the house, and warmed again in the well house. There is no comfortable place to sit. I have nothing to read. Perhaps I can nap? I settle into the back seat of the Lincoln. I have small travel pillows I keep in it, and Tom had left a jacket inside. Whoo hoo! WARMTH! I laid down in the back seat and TRIED to nap. Giving up at about a half an hour, I made use again of the roll of paper towels, and hand sanitizer. Cold weather really makes ones bladder active! I returned to the car, hoping to try again for a nap. Only three and a half hours until someone gets home!
I had a sudden thought... if only the brown shed were not locked... there is a corded phone in it. I might be able to plug the corded phone into the phone jack outside the house, and call for help! But, Tom never leaves the sheds unlocked. It was a miracle that the well house was not locked! I looked... and it appeared the brown shed was NOT padlocked. Could this BE? I hied myself to the shed.
Indeed, it was open. There was the corded phone, right where I had thought it to be! AND... a most necessary item- a telephone line cable. I took the phone and cable up to the house.
*Sigh*... the most hoped for plans of cold persons can be soon thwarted. The outside telephone connection port was screwed closed. I had already searched for tools. No screwdrivers.
 But, it occurred to me- a dime can sometimes work as a screwdriver. I searched the cars, and found a lone dime amidst the toll road quarters stash. At first, the dime refused to turn the screw- but at last it broke free. With arthritis and COLD fingers, maybe it took longer for me... but the phone box was at last opened. Only to discover there was no phone jack. I sighed my disappointment. I followed every wire in the box. Then I saw a small panel that flipped open- with a phone jack behind it! I plugged in the telephone, and was relieved and gratified to get a dial tone! I called the cell phone- and when Tom answered, i told him, "I am FREAKING McGyver!"
He called Sam and Dan to see if anyone could come to my rescue. They were farther away than he was. So Tom headed to the house to let me in. I was locked out a little more than four and a half hours. We decided that instead of just thinking about, and discussing a set of extra keys, it is time we put one out in the woods.
In my "distress", I was never in danger. Despite the cold, I had a warm place to go to. I had water, juice, even beer if I wanted. (YUCK!) I had just eaten, but there was food to be had- as well as a means to cook it if I had really been hungry. I learned that to get into this house, one would have to BREAK something. I was reminded that winter is upon us, and I NEED to keep an extra jacket and a blanket in every vehicle. I had many internal debates with myself: What is a real crisis? I had everything I actually NEEDED. Do I waste the afternoon waiting to be "rescued"? Or do I accomplish things that need done?
I am so grateful that God reminded me of the things I could use in my time of need.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November's End

Yes, I am still alive!
This month has both flown by, as well as dragged on- if that is possible. I was surprised to see Thanksgiving items marked down at the grocery store... Ii was an effort to remember that yes, indeed, we are past Thanksgiving.
It was just Tom and I and the twins for the meal here. I prepared as if there were still a double fist of us to feed... but made a smaller turkey, and fewer pies. Mom and Ralph had dinner with Robbie, Dad, and Kathie, but came up the next day... bringing us more pies! (As well as a bedroom suite that Dad and Kathie have been holding for me for a number of years now.)

The house is starting to come together. I got the kitchen painted, a pegboard hung to store my cast iron on, a couple of shallow shelves above the pegboard to help alleviate the clutter on top of the fridge. We got bright LED lights in most of the darker spots that already had lights. (Still need my budding electrician to install some lights in the really dark places!)

I got a few pictures and art hung on the walls. Despite following the exact instructions on the 3M Command (R) strips, several items have fallen. One frame broke into bits... :( I will be having to decide exactly where things will live and use a few discrete nails to hang items up. The walls are already full of hundreds of holes from the previous owner's 30+ years of incessant over decorating.

The internet here really stinks... our "hotspot" is a mildly tepid spot on its best day. We have applied for and paid the installation fee for the fiber optic internet to be installed- they say it will be between February and June.

Tommy graduates CFNI December 9th!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Howdy, Friends

We are completely out of the Magnolia House! Keys turned in, utilities off. Those weirdo owners of the Magnolia house declined to even meet us for a final walk through. Had us drop the keys off!
However, it looks as good as it could possibly look- certainly a sight better than when we got it.
   The boxes of stuff remain to be unloaded here. I have been trying to do SOME every day... but failed miserably today to empty even one. Today, I ran errands and bought groceries. I hope I am not coming down with the miseries- Tom has been sick. I grumped at him when he repeatedly sneezed all over the kitchen, without even TRYING to cover his face. Yesterday, I didn't leave the property at all, and got the bedroom at least to a point one can walk in and feel able to sleep. Piles of "stuff" everywhere is just NOT relaxing. I admit, I will need to re-arrange the closet at a later date... but the stuff is out of sight!
  So far, our Thanksgiving plans look like this:
1) We are NOT going ANYWHERE
2) Tom mentioned deer hunting
3) Sam mentioned we should order a goose from Fresh Market.
4) Tom mentioned we need to invite Connor and Alana over for a few days.
5) My Mom and Ralph may come up the weekend/ day after Thanksgiving

As to accomplishing  any of the above:
1) a) In order to not go anywhere, I need to make no advance preparations
2) a) Deer corn has been set out
2) b) Mention made of needing a deer license. This will require:
2) b) 1) Getting Oklahoma driver's license
2) b) 2) Hunters ed. class for Dan and Sam
2) c) Sighting in of firearms
2) d) Clearing of firing lanes
3) No one has called Fresh Market at this point
4) I have not contacted Jennifer for requesting Connor and Alana to visit

I did pick up a few little Thanksgiving type items. Pickles, olives, a cheater bag of stuffing, some fresh sweet potatoes, pie crusts. So far, all the turkeys I have seen are more than I want to pay per pound. I guess I can say a temporary goodbye to a diet... I got little Andes creme de menthe chips to bake into some cookies!
I hope to get some pictures taken of the new place, and then be able to upload them! The little "hot spot" isn't so hot for internet. It uses data like crazy, So I am resigned to much less online time for a few months. (I am writing this offline, and will attempt to connect to publish!)

Thank you all for your prayers.

A sad note: Grand daughter Nickole's other Grammy, Lynn Harris, passed away last week. Services are still pending. Until she got sick, Lynn kept me posted on Nickole's antics.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It' done! We are Home owners!

Not that we are quite done moving yet. One snag after another. We did close on the 10th, with great reluctance and much pushing from the realtors. The sellers were not out yet. They cleared the house, and had the well house (with locking storage and electricity) almost cleared by the time we did the "final walk through". They were going to need extra time to clear the outbuildings. We said we could give them a few days.
They were down to a few piles in the yard when we left Monday night, as far as stuff from the house went. We went back to the leased house after cleaning on the new place. Tuesday, Tom decided to go ahead and take the day off and MOVE! He rented a UHaul, something I had not wanted to do. Too much, too fast! The Uhaul was loaded with the big stuff, including the deep freezer and the refrigerator. To load a full freezer, it has to be emptied out. then moved to the truck. then refilled. then transported. And emptied, then moved from the truck. Then re-filled.
So we get the Uhaul to the new place. Those piles of stuff they had left in the yard? Now piled into the well house. They had promised to return "Wednesday or Thursday" for the rest of their stuff. Our options were to take the stuff we needed to put into the well house back to the leased house and unload the Uhaul there, or make do at the new place. I ended up with Tom's mechanics tool box in my front room, the air compressor in the bedroom... the freezer and fridge on extension cords on the covered front porch.
The sellers were no shows on Wednesday and Thursday. Late Thursday evening, we got a relayed call: They called their realtor, who called our realtor, who called us... they would be here bright and early the next morning (Friday the 14th.) We had planned to leave for Ohio Friday morning, but Tom was uncomfortable in leaving the place unattended. We waited. Tom grew more and more fretful. A text from DIL Paula helped... reminding us these people had so much stuff of their own to move, our stuff should not be endangered. About 2pm, with the sellers once again not showing up as promised, we headed to Ohio.
Vacation there is a post unto itself. Hopefully soon!
We got a call from Sam about 5:45 PM. He had just arrived at the new house after work, to let the dog out. The sellers showed up right behind him. They dropped off a Uhaul and left again. They returned Saturday morning... and instead of clearing out any of the THREE outdoor storage areas, they filled the Uhaul with yard stuff. Promising again to return before the week was out, they left us with locked storage units we couldn't use. We returned on the 23rd. They still had not been back.
They finally showed up on the 28th. They didn't bring a Uhaul, but a flatbed trailer. After every centimeter was full... they left the rest to us. (Last minute tearing a built in shelf off the outside wall of the shed!!!) We had three loads (so far) for the dump, and two to a thrift store. We have another of thrift stuff and another of trash/ hazardous chemical waste still to dispose of. But they are out, and we can finish moving in.
We have a "hotspot" prepaid device for internet. Very spotty service. The satellite internet had a 2 year contract- and the electric company will be offering fiber optic services in about 5 months. They start construction in our neighborhood on Jan. 12, and expect services within 120 days.... at half the price of satellite for twice the data limits.
My root canal hasn't quite happened. The odontist took off the temporary crown, cleaned out the cavity, and worried over the massive dormant infection of the bone around the root. She told me to TAKE the antibiotics which the dentist had issued to use "if needed". She disinfected the tooth, packed it with more antibiotic stuff, and re-set my appointment for the 15th of November. I have a couple more days of antibiotics left.
I will post more when I have some time. This move is really sapping my energy!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Ducks are in the pond!

I can't say that all of our ducks are in a row... but they all seem to be swimming in the same pond!
To clarify: Mr C and I are buying a house. We are set to close Monday the 10th.
I have been trying to make sure everyone is on the same page- including reminding people that Monday is Columbus Day. I expected our loan officer would not be there, but he says yes, he will be there.  It is Mr C's regular day off. The sellers are suppose to be moved out. The paperwork is all in order, and in the proper hands.
I have even packed about six boxes.
God worked things out so that we even have HELP to move!
Ben and Paula, their kids, and Paula's brother Eric are coming to visit Monday evening. (They were planning to come even before the house was ever on our horizon.)
Becky and Stephen and their kids are coming Tuesday evening. Again- the visit was co-ordinated more than a year ago!
My Mom and Ralph are coming up tomorrow to help out for the week.
Jennifer is bringing Connor and Alana just to visit everyone Wednesday night.
So, Wednesday, we are having a big spaghetti supper.  We will have 21+ people there!
I have run into a few snags... like "no internet"! (After being told there was/ wasn't /was for sure/ now there is for sure NOT internet available.) Looks like we will have to go satellite for about a year- then our electric company will have Fiber optic internet service available.
Guess it goes without saying, I am quite excited. I get to see my Mommy, I get to see most of my kids, I get to see most of the grandkids, and I get a house!

I got a crown yesterday... Not the queenly gem encrusted kind. The kind that costs about the same and allows you to continue to consume food. But once the dentist got my poor chipped and broken tooth all cleaned out... she tells me "Oops! You need a root canal! There was old infection beneath the filling that was drilled out!"
She stuck my shiny new crown down with temporary cement. The endodontist can't see me until the 26th. Afterwards, I will go back and get the crown glued on tight!
Hah. Just caught another duck trying to waddle off! I have to drive to Jay, OK, tomorrow and become a member of the Farm Bureau, or they can't insure us Monday, and the deal will go skittering off track again.
Looks like sewing the stuff for the kids is getting pushed back for awhile. Too much on the plate.