Friday, December 25, 2015

Good Morning! A Blessed day to All!

The house is coming along... Unpacking, unpacking, and more unpacking. And hanging pictures!
 These two water color prints were done by Tom's sister Angie. They have been packed away for several years- waiting frames.
 They hang near the china hutch!
This very pretty lithograph has been boxed up and moved several times... always waiting for me to get it framed. This move, I was determined to finally do so. I measured it, and carried the measurements AND a small tape measure with me! I visited several thrift stores, and found this beautiful matted frame holding a lithograph that I thought was really awful. It was the perfect size... and $5.00. The peaceful shepherd scene looks like it was always intended for this frame. (Unfortunately, it did suffer a mishap. I broke the glass in putting the back onto the frame. The new glass was $23!)

I am so excited... Becky and the kids are headed this way today. And if Mr C has learned of it, he is keeping quiet. He does know Tommy is coming up for a few days, tomorrow. Tommy had planned to ride with Becky. Becky had planned to arrive Sunday. But there is a major storm system that is threatening to drop 3" to 11" of snow over the weekend across the route she will be driving. Her sweet hubby encouraged her to come early... and that interfered with a commitment Tommy has tonight. Still, we shall have four of the kids here for his 60th birthday! (Ben couldn't get off work, but he and Paula may get to come next month.)

Mr C discovered the guitar before we moved, so has had that part of his birthday gift presented to him already. I have quite a bag of smaller gifts collected. Two of his sisters went together and sent him a gift card, which arrived yesterday.

When he got home last night, he mentioned that he had forgotten he needed to take a covered dish to work today, and had thought of running to WM for something. However, it was 5:58pm. WM closed until 7:00am Saturday at 6:00 pm. Even at a scant mile from here to there, 2 minutes just wasn't enough. I was going to send some "sweet and sour" green beans. Tom was reluctant, and said he would just not take anything. Turns out he doesn't LIKE my S&S green beans, so assumes no one else would either. I got up at 5 and made some scalloped potatoes that he took quite willingly.

 I have stuff laid out thawing now, to make a lasagna. Becky is doing Trim Healthy Mama, and Tom and I are attempting to get back on plan with THM... so I am going to use zucchini instead of pasta in the lasagna. I can make a big pan of it up, and it should be ready by the time Becky arrives. Depending on how early she starts this way- and how often she has to stop-  she could be here before dark. And dark sure comes early!

On the downside of this visit... it is supposed to rain for the next three days straight. Local weather guessers are predicting a record breaking amount of rain. So the kids will be trapped inside a vehicle for nine or so hours, and then inside the house for the next several days. Last week's rain had us worried that water pooling in the yard was going to run over the foundation and into the house... and that wasn't record breaking rainfall.
Guess I best be getting on with the unpacking + laundry + sweeping, mopping, and general clean up + guest set up! Have a blessed day and Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

One week in the new digs....

Progress is being made daily in getting unpacked and settled. We have now actually cooked and consumed three or four meals here. Some pictures are hung. Some curtains are up. Since all the bedrooms had blinds, curtains aren't an absolute necessity. The back door  had no coverings, so I got magnetic curtain rods and ordered some sheer panels. The back door faces a field, so sheers are good enough to prevent folks seeing inside, yet let in enough light that perhaps  my plants may live.
There are FOUR windows in this place- not counting the back door (French doors). Dan thinks we should count the peephole in the front door as a window.

Yesterday, I got the box of bathroom stuff unpacked. I noted that the little hanging cabinet was held to the wall by a single screw- but that screw went into a stud. Two hours later... a mighty crash- sounds of breaking glass. The  cabinet had fallen from the wall, taking out the poorly placed TP roll holder in its descent. The lone screw remained in the stud... The plastic L bracket had broken. I cleaned up the mess, re-boxing everything for now. My losses included a bottle of essential oil, a recycled cat food dish that held the bottles of oil, and a recycled candle jar that held Q-tips. (As well as the Q-tips, being covered in glass fragments.) I have stuff on hand to repair the wall where the toilet paper holder had been placed. Tom and I had previously discussed its poor location in regards to use... it was already pulling loose through the sheetrock. The cabinet just finished the removal.

We finished clean up of the Vaughn house. Yard and all was looking quite well when we turned over the keys. Or, sort of turned over the keys. Former landlord was supposed to have met us there. When they didn't show or call, I texted them. They called to allow as they had had a change of plans, we should just leave the keys in a designated location, and they would mail us our deposit. Saturday was the final page to that chapter of our lives.
The Vaughn house was where son Chris got married. Where Bill Joe called to let us know the tornado was bearing down on us, from his vantage point at the XNA security tower. (missed us by 1/4 mile!)
It was where Becky found out she was pregnant with Tyrel, on a visit to see us. It was the place where I got the terrible calls about Bill Joe, and about Roger. It's where several pets passed on.
It was the only place any of our grandchildren remember us living. A place full of good and bad memories.

We are looking at this house as a temporary measure, while we continue to house hunt. But Sam and I have decided to treat it as if it is long term. To be comfortable here. To bloom where we are planted, even if it seems like just being uprooted and over-wintered in a garage. Thus, curtains are going up, pictures on the walls. The dining room table placed where we can (and do) actually eat on it.

I have gone through some long packed boxes. One was packed back when WalMart bags were blue! I tossed many items I had held on to... time had cured the sentimental issues with many of the items. I uncovered some things I had wondered where they had ever gone- I found a little knick knack that had been given to me when I was at the hospital birthing Christopher... I discovered it on his birthday. (He turned 36 a few days ago).
Speaking of birthdays, our "LG" Becky will be 30 tomorrow. Wow. Happy Birthday to Becky!
I suppose I best hit "publish" on this post, and get busy. I still have so much to get done.
Thank You for reading!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Here We Are...

If there is no other place around the place, this must be the place, I reckon.
Or so Curly said.
There are other places around this place. For the first time in more than 20 years, we have a house in town.
I had expected/ hoped for a slow move, taking the week. Instead, I got a wham bam/ here I am move.
With the exception of hauling off trash, and a few items in the well house, and the canoe... we are all moved. The old house is cleaned. If I were moving to it, I would take a look and not need to clean. It is nigh spotless. (Unlike what might be said of our new digs).
So now, the unpacking begins. Lots of elimination still to do. I am trying to bear in mind, we are downsizing not only in physical space, but soon in number of people. We moved to the old house with six people, and that was a few months after having eight people at home.
Ten years there. Wow. That was as long as we lived in our Marlow home... maybe longer by a few months.
We have a new phone number as well as a new street address. Contact me if you need it. Blessings... ~Tammy~

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

*sigh of relief*

For the first time in weeks, I feel like I can relax ... if only mentally. We found, and were approved for, a place to rent.
We were left with very few options on what we could do, and still be out of here before the 18th. We had not found a place to buy, and just stopped focusing on buying for now. We will have one year to look- as we couldn't get a six month lease. The rental application process is a very trying experience in the modern era... a $30 PER PERSON application fee for those over 18. And we are ALL over 18. In a "happy coincidence" (as Aunt Jean would say, Divine Appointment), this property management company also manages a couple of properties for the people who have been our landlords for the past 10 years. When the management firm recognized their names as our former landlords, and spoke to them, we were able to do only TWO applications, rather than four.
I go sign paperwork on Friday morning. Tom will be signing on Monday, but this will give us the weekend to get started with some of the cleaning/ moving.
I know it *should* be clean when we move in, but I am squeamish and will need to clean it myself- at least the wiping of shelves and scrubbing of bathrooms. Since we have already been packing, I have a week to get stuff transported and unpacked as we go. A "slow move", rather than a fell swoop. One of the boys' bosses has kindly offered to let us use his truck and trailer next weekend.
The place is in town... it will certainly be an adjustment all the way around. Daniel and Sam have never lived in town.
I don't know when we will be moving our computer stuff over- or when I will have TIME to blog again.
Call me, or leave a comment if you need the new address. (Don't send us mail at the old address past the 9th or so.)
Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Here we are, the day before Thanksgiving. Not where we thought we would be, even a few weeks ago. I had thought we were having Thanksgiving Dinner with Tom's family in Ohio. Instead, we are still driving around looking at houses, even today. Packing boxes.
We don't even get to have the grandkids for Thanksgiving, as we would of done since we are in town, because there is no place to put them. We sit among boxes and packing materials. We eat off of TV trays, as we can't get to the table.
As I may of mentioned in the past, I really hate last minute things.
Today, we drove out to the storage unit we have rented for the past 11 years... and guess what? The owner is retiring... so even that stuff will need to be moved. Someplace.
Breaking with tradition... we are having bratwurst for Thanksgiving meal. I had suggested steaks, but Sam thought brats would be good. I cooked a turkey a couple of weeks ago, and just haven't bought another. We have been trying to 'eat down' the stuff in the freezer.
Tom's vacation week hasn't been much of a "vacation". We haven't found anywhere to move to, but we have been looking. Everything isn't yet packed, but we have been packing. It seems like every time we think we have found a place- the door shuts. While we technically have until the 18th to be out of this house, reality will make that more like the 14th. That is Tom's last day off before our deadline. He gets home after dark... the boys both work until dark-thirty... and I am realistically unable to move most of this stuff by myself.
We do have a lot to be Thankful for.
Blessings abound.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Winds of Change

I had to drive in to town a few days ago. A cold front was moving in. The sky was glowering and bleak, and the winds were whipping the leaves from the trees. November was announcing that Winter is upon us. A word dropped into my heart, as I marveled at the fierce raining of leaves from the trees and the wind buffeting the car.

The winds of change are blowing.
They are blowing hard and fierce.
Prepare for Winter coming.
Make warm your snug nest.
Changes are coming.
Prepare your heart.
Changes are coming,
 stripping bare.
all you need is to let go,
let blow.
Like the leaves from the trees
moving on.
The dormant season is here.
 The time for unseen growth.
Let go, and let the winds blow.
 The winds of change.

As most my family and friends know, we are having to move. This time, the house actually DID sell. We have to be out by December 18. That is a month from tomorrow.
Our own search has not fared well. Yesterday, we almost "settled". We made a verbal offer on a place that "would do"... but neither Tom nor I really liked . At.All. But, it was "adequate". And we could "make it work".
After getting home, before the offer was signed and official.. we changed our minds.
If you are making one of the most major purchases of you life... do you settle for "It will do"? Settle for, "I hate it, but we have to do something?" Do you spend more money than you have ever spent in your life on something you really don't LIKE? So, We are back to looking. We may have to find an apartment for a few months.
God knows what we need. He has that perfect place out there, waiting for us.
Keep us in your prayers!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Two posts in two days.... What do you mean I am procrastinating?

Sigh. It is true. Since I know we HAVE to move... somewhere... soon. I really OUGHT to be packing.
Instead I balk. I spend a part of each day scanning the real estate web sites for potential homes, I suggest possibilities to Tom, we do some drive-bys. I play games of solitaire, and I Skype with my family. Very deftly avoiding packing.
Yesterday I cooked a turkey. I had thawed it several days ago, planning to cook it Monday. Sam asked me to please not cook it Monday, as that was the day of the Chili dinner fund-raiser at the Mennonite church, and the boys planned to attend. So, I didn't cook the turkey Monday. I set out a small packet of carne asada steaks, to fix for Tom and I.
Since I have been home without wheels, and Tom getting home early (his last week of training classes!), He went with me to buy groceries Monday afternoon. I got a call from Dan on our way home: "What was I making for supper?"
"Uh, aren't you going to the Chili Supper?"
"We got the date wrong, the Chili Supper is tomorrow" (Tuesday.)
I had to stretch the carne asada to feed four. (Slivered up, cooked with cabbage and onions... it was good!) But this also meant I HAD to cook the turkey yesterday- it was well thawed. Which also meant it was cooked on the Chili Supper night. A fifteen lb. bird for two people. Yes, we generally do have leftovers. :) We just happen to have a LOT of leftovers at the moment. Not only turkey... the boys brought home leftovers from the chili supper.
 Tonight: choose your meal!
This is Veterans Day. We have many veterans in our family. And it is also grand daughter Dakota's fourth birthday! She was born 11/11/11.  Happy birthday to little "Critter".

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

And what a week it has been!

Friday, Mr C got Sam's truck running. Hooray! I "assisted"... if you want to call going to the gas station to buy gas and following the repaired truck home "assisting".  Friday night started out as busy as could be for my fish fryer job. On an average night, I use up the first five gallon bucket of thawed fish somewhere between six thirty and seven.  This week, I was ready for the second five gallon bucket by six. Then it slowed down... and I didn't quite use up the entire second bucket.
Saturday morning, Mr C and I went to see a house. We even put in a very good offer. (This surprised me, it usually takes a week or more for any offer to be made on a potential house.) After two full days of suspense, we got an answer! The home owner accepted an offer from someone else. So we are back to house hunting. (I don't remember if I mentioned that a person who has looked at the house (we live in) three times now, told me he had made an offer to our landlord. He had not yet heard back whether his offer was accepted or not, but this does make our finding a place imperative.) And we haven't heard a word from our landlord.
I have remarked that it seems all we have to do is make an offer on a house- and it sells. To someone else. This has happened three (or four) times in the past couple of years. We are a boon to the people selling homes in NW Arkansas.
I am at peace with not getting this particular house, yet unsettled at not knowing what we are going to do. I have been told interest rates are going up in January... all these years of low rates, and  we don't buy. Then when we HAVE to buy, rates go up? I am pacing the floors.
Please be lifting us in prayers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

And I am doing this.... why?

Sometimes we get into ruts without even realizing it is happening. I am sure everyone has probably heard the story about the woman who was making her Grandmother's recipe for roast beef. She always started by cutting the roast in half. One day, her own daughter asked her, "Why do you always cut the roast in half?" And the woman didn't know. She called her Mom, and asked her why did the roast need to be cut into half before it was cooked? Her mom didn't know, but it was how HER mom had shown her to do it. So she got in touch with her mother... who had the answer. "Because the whole roast wouldn't fit into my roasting pan." Three generations had done something a certain way, for what was an inconsequential reason.
  Sam's truck (still) isn't running, so we have been sharing two vehicles. I took Sam to work this morning, and when I got home had to turn around to take Daniel to work. We have been doing this a couple of weeks now. Last week and this week, Tom has had a class at work, lasting from 8-3:30pm. So he gets off before either of the twins when they are working their regular jobs. As I was driving Daniel over to the Oklahoma state line, I realized- I was driving him over and would be needing to pick him up tonight, when he could well have driven himself. I didn't need the car for anything today. Tom would be home well before Sam needed to be picked up. I was driving him to work because I have needed to have the car on other days. Whether to run errands, or pick up Sam before Tom got off at 5:30... it had become one of those things a person does, because we had BEEN doing it like this. I could of saved more than a gallon of gas!
On another note entirely, I am certainly enjoying one thing about the cooler weather. "Winter" foods. Tonight (I am sorry, Trim Healthy Mamas!) is Chicken and Dumplings. I used leftover roasted chicken leg quarters, home canned poultry stock, leftover mashed potatoes, chopped carrots, celery, and onion.Dash of sage. Once that simmered awhile in the slow cooker, about half an hour before Mr C was due home, I cut up some frozen biscuit dough and dropped the lumps into the boiling soup.
 I have had three bowls now.
Must. save. Some. for. boys.

In the past two weeks, I have made beans; chili; soup; roast beef; stew; soup; saurkraut, taters, and brats; and now the chicken and dumplings.
Comfort food.

Monday, November 2, 2015

And... it's November!

Sam's truck is still not fixed, although the parts (fuel pump assembly) have been ordered. The entire gas tank had to be removed... it is sitting out on the porch awaiting the new pump. O'Reilly was going to have to order the pump... some $500! But we found one from a reputable place online for "just" $300. Meanwhile, I am playing taxi, with more than 100 miles each day put on the car. Tom has a class he is in the midst of- three weeks long. It is disrupting his "groove". It is five days a week, instead of his usual four days.
Another disruption: the time change. Can we just pick a time... one way or the other... maybe split the difference? and stick to it year around? Our older electronics changed themselves back an hour LAST week.... which was wrong. Now it is dark by 5:00 pm, and makes me crazy! (Oh wait, maybe I was already crazy...)

Since Mr C can't do the Monday morning grocery shopping- I have had to do it. In order to NOT add an extra trip into my taxi service, I head on over to town after dropping off my last worker. Aldi doesn't open until 9, I drop Dan off at 8:00. So I get the WalMart items first. Today, I was just finished at WalMart and walking into Aldi across the street, when I got a text message. The realtor wanted to show the house. Not a 24 hour notice, a "we want to show the house in 2 1/2 hours" notice. I was in the middle of buying groceries...
So, I bought my groceries. Got home, and put them away. THEN started in on the house. Basically, I had to empty last night's clean dishes from the dishwasher, and load in this morning's crop. I had to sweep... these floors ALWAYS need swept! I don't care if they were swept three hours ago, I can sweep up a half a dog if I swept again now. And the little faux lady bugs are swarming. I have cleaned hundreds up off the floor, out of the sinks, off the walls and beds. I just slid stuff from the boys rooms out of sight... my bed was already made, and the bathrooms had been deep cleaned Saturday.
Turned out this guy had looked at the house before... he MAY be making an offer.
Here is my project, I covered the notebook with fabric to make a photo album:

And that's about all for now. With Mr C home early, I can get supper going sooner! Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Not Much Doings

Howdy, Y'all.
In my last post, I said Summer hadn't got the memo that Fall is here. Fall did make itself known this past week. Tom even turned on the furnace yesterday for its trial run. (It's fine. And all the dust is now burned off, so even better when we do have to have it.)
Sam's truck wasn't quite as fixed as we thought it was. It ran almost a week, then, on his next day for class... he called and said he was having to have it towed. $100 and a new fuel filter later, it was running fine. Until Mr. C drove it to work. It is still sitting in the parking lot there, having stopped running (again!) as he was on his way home for lunch. Mr C has spent three days troubleshooting- and one or two more tests will determine if it is the fuel pump. A second $100 was spent on a fuel pump relay- so if  the new relay isn't bad- it is looking more and more like the fuel pump. Meanwhile, we are sharing two vehicles getting four people to work.
Mr C's routine is being disrupted for the next 3 weeks. A class from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM, Mondays through Fridays. Eight hour days instead of ten... so an extra day to get up. Not that he isn't already UP... but they have thrown off his groove. Mondays are grocery store days, and running errands. Mowing the lawn (Which is about done for the year, anyway) and house hunting online.
For "my birthday present", I went to town and hit Hancock Fabrics and the Hobby Lobby. I got a big three ring binder, and fabric and padding to make my own custom photo album. I also got a 12x12 "photo album" and refills at Hobby Lobby. I wasn't paying good enough attention, and ended up with scrapbook pages- 50 sheets of 12x12 plastic covers that aren't sectioned off to hold photos. (I remedied that by ordering some photo pages to fit the 12x12 album from Amazon!)
I also got some fleece to make a stuffed animal for a grandbaby. I know what I WANT it to look like, but I am not always successful on translating my vision to actual fabric. Looking on Pinterest for patterns just gave me even more ideas.
 Yesterday, I got my sewing machine out, but before I could set it up, I went in search of the iron. I THOUGHT I knew just where it was in the pit of despair laundry room. Mr C had teased earlier that he guessed he was going to have to clean up his own dresser, since he had given me quite a few weeks and I hadn't done it. His dresser is in the laundry room. The laundry room here not only holds his dresser, but a full sized mechanics rolling tool box, a six foot chest freezer (for those of you who may have six foot chests), a washer and dryer, a refrigerator, a kitchen Mini-island/ microwave stand, a small portable storage pantry, a dehydrator, and a closet overflowing with items that I refuse to take to storage. (The storage unit isn't climate controlled, and all my books come out mildewed, and photos ruined.) There is a whole lot more stuff in this room, which is more of a garage than an actual laundry room, as we lack an actual garage. ANYWAY- the room is a perpetual disaster area. I couldn't find the iron. I chided myself: "What are you doing starting a fun project when this room looks like this?"
  Tom was off working on Sam's truck, but Dan was here. I set him to lugging and toting.. and we emptied the room of all but the major appliances and stuff inside the closet. By the time Tom got back, the entire living room and kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off, as I had stuff stacked everywhere. With his and the boys help, I scrubbed the room down, pushing appliances away from the walls and sweeping and mopping. I did some rearranging... and eventually most of the stuff found its way back into the laundry room. (I found the iron!) And left out my three totes of crafting and sewing supplies. I can work on my photo album cover this afternoon without guilt!
  This morning, I took people to their jobs, then bought a small supply of groceries. Mostly, it was NOT groceries, but cleaning supplies we were out of. I would think it weird that we run out of all the cleansers at the same time- but we really don't. We run out of something, and substitute some other product, until it too, runs out. We continue substituting things until we are out of everything... so it seems we have to buy it all at once.
I suppose I will get started on my projects. Have a blessed day!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"To Infinity... and Beyond!" (Or at least the year ahead...)

This week marked my 55th birthday! Thank you to all who remembered it.
My birthday buddy, Kimber Ann turned six. I am trying to keep up with the grands birthdays- and get each a gift. Keeping it under $20 is hard. I have sent magazine subscriptions to some- to remind them CowGranny and Umpaw think of them all year, NOT just on their birthdays. I try to keep the parents in mind as well... some tolerate small piece toys such as Legos better than others. :) .
In a few weeks, Dakota and Althea have birthdays. It looks like we may be abandoning the Individuals to fend for themselves this Thanksgiving. (As we once did Ben and Tommy.) Mr C has his final week of vacation, and wants to go to Ohio. (Where he can watch Ohio State beat that team up North). Anyway, while there, I am hoping to have a party for his 60th birthday. Phase one! It will be more than a month early, but will be a chance for his family to gather and join in the celebration. With the boys staying home, we won't have to take Jaffa along. (He DOES know when he is being left behind. It upsets him.)
Then, Phase TWO! On Tom's actual birthday, the kids are going to all try to be here on Dec. 27th. December birthdays are hard- everyone already has Christmas plans and such. (I can talk birthday plans here... Mr C read my blog ONCE, several years ago.)
Daniel and Sam are talking of trying their winter hike that they missed doing last year, while Sam is out of school for Winter break. Just over 200 miles, and that here in Arkansas.
The detox has been a rollercoaster. I went off completely while visiting in Texas the one weekend. I went off for my birthday- not that I got any treats other than wine, and a flour tortilla! I can't say I have noticed feeling any better. That is, until I went OFF the program. Then I felt awful. So it must be doing me good, right? "They" say the first several days of detox makes you feel like you have flu. I felt like I had flu after the tortillas, and wine.
Oh yeah, I also fell off the program at work... those hushpuppies! After last Friday, I ought to be cured of my hushpuppie addiction. I make the pups. I am supposed to try one, and have another person try one. (Over the course of a typical Friday night, I usually eat several.) My test one was HORRIBLE! Apparently, a lump of salt managed to stay intact until I bit into mine. Nothing like an unexpected mouthful of salt to send you spitting into the trash can! I was afraid I had ruined the entire batch, but no one else got a salty one. Good for the customers that I got the ONE bad one. And good for me- my brain decided I could avoid further snacking on hushpuppies! (Another good: I work ONE night a week!)
I am growing accustomed to the taste of stevia. At first, I just couldn't stand it at all. Becky told me it is probably the aftertaste of whatever they mixed with the stevia that I don't like. I researched stevia online, and came to the conclusion that if I were not using it as a sweetener, I should be taking it as a supplement. It is actually GOOD for you, and sweetness is a side benefit. So I got the purest form I could find- and really, it isn't nearly as bad when it isn't mixed with carriers. It seemed expensive, a little salt-shaker sized bottle was over $12. But I compared it to white sugar prices- and found out that serving to serving, they are about the same price. The little bottle of powdered stevia has as much sweet in it as two and a half BIG bags of sugar.
Learning to cook without flour and sugar has been getting easier. By "flour", I mean the typical ground grains. I use almond flour, coconut flour, and (some) rice flour. I use vegetables in place of pasta products. (I can't believe how much the guys all LOVE the pizza crust made from cauliflower.)
Perhaps by the end of the year, I will have some weight loss. (Not GAINING is a positive!)
That's about all from here... I am officially a "senior citizen" now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October! (Wait, WHAT? It's already the middle of October!)

It seems fall is ambling along masquerading as summer. With weather still quite warm, it is a debate some days as to whether we will turn on the AC or not.
Fall still hasn't settled into a routine... unless lack of routine is the new normal.
Just over a week ago, I had a call from Chris. We chatted the allotted time, during which Mr C came home for lunch. I reviewed Chris' call with him, and Mr C remarked how we needed to get to see Chris more often. It had been nearly a year since I last saw him, and the previous time was more than THREE years back.
I spoke to Becky, who hadn't seen Chris in quite awhile. She would like to go with me on a visit. She arranged child care with "Granola" (Thank you SO much, Nola!). The best time for both of us was either immediately, or quite a distance down the road. We opted for immediately.  So, last Thursday I headed to Texas.
On the way down, I made a spontaneous decision to stop in Shawnee to see if I could find where my great grandparents were buried, and where my Great Granny Daisy Gibson had lived. I knew the house was gone. OK, last time I was at Great Granny's house I was not quite 10 years old. Shawnee has grown tremendously in the last 45+ years. From the freeway (Which probably didn't exist in 1970!) there are five (Three, sir!) exits. I chose one at random. I remembered the cemetery had large rock walls surrounding it, and knew GG's house was west of the main road where the cemetery was located. If you ever read Dean Koontz, you have probably heard of psychic magnetism. I seem to have the same ability as Odd Thomas in that regard. I drove down the highway, hoping to see the rock walls. Suddenly, there they were- but on the opposite side of the road I had expected. So I was in the wrong lane entirely... and the gates were closed. But being in the wrong lane meant the GG's house should be an easy right turn, and over a block or so. I turned... and sure enough, found where her house had stood. It was a tiny, tiny lot- I doubt anyone would THINK of building on one so small these days. Turning around, I went back to Fairview Cemetery.      

As I wandered around with my camera, the maintenance crew asked if I needed assistance. They marked off where the graves should be, and assisted me in locating them. I learned that Beard's actually founded Shawnee. I didn't stay long, but was glad to "pay my respects".

I stopped overnight at my Mom's house, where Tommy met me. We hung out with my Mom and Ralph for the evening. It was such an abbreviated visit! The next morning, I forced Mom to go to Aldis with me. (I think she may go back!) Then I was on the road to Becky's. Ben and Paula were at Becky's and Stephen's... waiting the long overdue Mom! When one takes a shortcut, one should never take for granted one will
"remember" the exact way... I forgot a zigzag in Coleman... and ended up almost back to Abilene before I realized my mistake. (Add an hour and 20 minutes on for the shortcut!)
Ben and Paula didn't stay too late, as Ben had to work Saturday, and Becky and I were hoping to be on the road by 4:00.

It was actually closer to 4:30 before we were finally underway.
We hadn't gotten terribly far- the second town past Becky's house- creeping along at the town's very slow speed limit, trying to see the lanes (Boy, do they need to repaint the stripes!) when suddenly- THERE WAS A DEER!
I couldn't avoid it- I hit a wee small deer. It wasn't much bigger than a medium sized dog. I pulled over to check for damages... there were no damages! And looked for the deer. It was gone. So whether I just knocked it over and the body of the car passed over it, or whether it was injured to the point it hobbled away and died, we don't know. I know the tires didn't hit it.
The rest of the trip was without incident.
It was Picture Day, which we didn't know before we arrived. I got the first "good" picture of Chris in more than six years. It was good to get to visit. I wish it were not so far to travel- or that I could of stayed overnight.

Since we had traveled all that way, and were only another 45 miles to the Gulf- Becky and I headed down to spend a few minutes on the beach. Sadly, the wait for the Port Aransas ferry was 90 minutes. Becky and I both needed a potty break- so we turned around. After grabbing a bite to eat and relieving ourselves, we drove to the Corpus Christi end of Mustang Island. There was much going on in Corpus- we were on a minor surface street, and got quite turned about. It probably took us a good hour and a quarter to find the causeway to the island. Once we were actually on the beach, we didn't have much time. Becky did a bit of wading... her first time to get to play in the waves without having to keep an eagle eye on children! There were almost NO shells along the beach- most of the ones were saw were happily occupied by the pretty little mussels we watched burrow beneath the sand with each incoming wave. All too soon, we had to face the five and a half hour drive back.
We walked in the door, wiped the salt water residue from our bodies, and collapsed into bed.  It was a wonderful, first time ever Mom-Daughter road trip.
Sunday, we decided to just visit with Ben and Paula, rather than go to church. Tyrel opted for church with Granola, Stephen had to work, so Becky and I and the girls went to San Angelo. It was dark as we got back... and I had to head home early Monday.

Whether it was from going off the detox program and eating all sorts of sugar and flour foods, or whether I caught a mild gastrointestinal bug... I had a MISERABLE drive. With numerous stops. I made it to mom's house shortly after noon. She fed me soup, and gave me the cutest shovel bird for a birthday present.

 I headed out before 1:30... my planned route altered due to construction warnings and lane closures. And so much for altering plans to avoid construction and lane closures. After enduring something like 200 traffic lights (do not even SUSPECT I exaggerate!) and 80+ miles of road construction (with lane closures, flagmen, and one spot that even had the highway dug down to compacted soil with NO pavement!)... I made it home after 8:00pm.
Yesterday was back to the detox program.
 Sam called in the late afternoon. He had been headed to school (after work!) when his truck just stopped running. As we were already down to three vehicles for four people, it is good I was home with the car! A friend helped Sam get it towed home. Mr C took off early and also assisted. Today, I am the chauffeur. Tom studied some YouTube videos... and found a reset button on Sam's truck this afternoon. It started and ran! So, MAYBE? it is fixed.
This has been a long one... but you are caught up with me now! Write me a letter, give me a call, send me a card... or even comment here! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Almost October

The Individuals and I went to the Taylor Family Reunion in Broken Bow over this past weekend. We had a very nice time. My Uncle Johnny was there, as well as my brothers Ricky (Eric) and Robbie. Rick's daughter Laura and her husband Chris also made it out, so Mom had a nice turnout from her group!
The entire reunion was small this year- even counting inlaws and outlaws! I hope that some of the family can really try to make it next year- last Saturday in September! (If you marked your calendar NOW, then you would be able to say NO to other plans on that date... just saying!)

Tomorrow my brother Roger would of turned 50. I have been thinking of him so much, and of Bill Joe, Granny, and the other losses the family has had in recent years.

We started our week Monday with our usual grocery store run. (It also began my detox attempt!) We got home, and got the groceries put away. I was still up to my armpits in items we had come home from the reunion with. As usual, it was piled about the front room... and now the kitchen had that post-shopping war zone look. At that moment, we have someone pull into the driveway... a realtor was here with a client to show the house. Dishes in the sink from breakfast, floors not swept, boys rooms utter disasters, dirty clothes on the bathroom floors and toothpaste residue still in the sinks.
The showing agent said they had called the listing agent and arranged the viewing. The listing agent had NOT let us know. Mr C let them in anyway... and we learned in their tour of the house, the potential buyer had driven from Checotah, OK... which is pretty close to two hours from here. We tried to be gracious under pressure. Not sure if we made the final cut of the places the woman would put on her list to show her husband.... I don't even care.

I had been trying to do a detox- starting with just the detox herbal drinks, water, and some juice. This was to last two or three days, followed by adding veggies to the list, and then meats. (I still planned to leave out grains and sugar for even longer.) Best laid plans and all that... I was about to fall out shaking with low blood sugar by 3:00 pm. I had to put food back on the list!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Crazy day

It was a busy week last week- the house was shown TWICE within a 24 hour period. On Wednesday night, I went to a picnic given by my bosses at the Spoon. That was quite fun. I watched the pre-dinner baseball game- and the twins participated in it, on opposing teams. By the time they were ready to eat, I had to come home. It was time for the blood pressure medicine I try to take at the same time each evening.
  I took it easy over the weekend- and let so much of the house slide. The boys both worked every single day all of last week. Dan had people vying for him on Friday, so he put two of them off and worked Saturday AND Sunday. Sam helped Dan build fence Saturday, and Dan took neighbor Anthony on his errands Sunday.
  Monday, Tom and I did our weekly shopping. He mowed, and Dan sort of had a day off- but used it on errands of his own. Today, everyone was back to work. I requested rooms be neatened and beds made before they took off. There were no showings scheduled, but the agent had said there might be times when I would have little notice.
  I put some mail out, and happened to see two horses trotting, untended, down our road. The speed limit here is 55- and hitting a horse would be bad for all concerned. I walked towards the horses, which came willingly to follow me. I saw another lady parking her car in the road and hurrying my way. Turns out she was just concerned, they were not her horses either. Someone had told her where they saw the horses emerge, some quarter mile up the road. (Half a mile from where they were when I saw them). I have NEVER seen a horse on that place, but helped this lady walk them back into the long driveway, which she blocked afterwards with her car.
  Just then, someone pulled into MY driveway, and didn't come back out. I had left the house unlocked, as I was just outside, if down the road a piece. So I scrambled for home. It was a person whose Garmin had led him to our address... he had only intended a drive-by. I ended up giving him the nickel tour- mess and all. At least the beds were made... although I was rather embarrassed that my box of wine was on the counter beside a fifth of vodka! (The vodka being one of the purchases yesterday, to make some herbal tinctures! It doesn't have a "home", as I have never needed a place to locate it before now.)
  The lady who I had helped wrangle the horses had called the county... and a couple other people. Every time a vehicle slowed down and seemed to be looking, I asked if they were looking for missing horses. All were, but just to see that they had not strayed back into the road from the neighbors drive. Then the Sheriff's department sent an officer. I spoke with him, as the lady had left after she called. He checked and saw the horses actually in an enclosure, where they might stay, unless driven away. It had a low rope across the opening... and plenty of the neighbor's hay!
I am keeping an eye out for people looking for the horses, or the neighbor to get home. The sheriff's deputy said he'd probably get two calls- one to report the horses found, and another to report them stolen... and thanked me for helping.
  Altogether, little was accomplished today- unless the house hunter decided he really likes the place! (In which case, I need to be packing soon.)

Monday, September 14, 2015

The quest continues...

The surgeon says, conclusively, I do not have carpal tunnel.
I "might" have a pinched nerve bundle in my neck. (Suggests an MRI).
I "might" have a rheumatoid disease... as was inconclusively indicated a couple of years ago. (Says see a rheumatologist).
I am NOT cool with spending money to no purpose.
If a pinched nerve was found... what then? I am sure they would call for physical therapy. Rheumatoid disease? Nasty medications with awful side effects.

I am not sure WHAT to do at the moment, but here is where I am leaning: A "cleanse" with fasting and perhaps some herbal teas. A trip (or several) to a chiropractor... a person NOT quick to prescribe drugs to mask symptoms, and will work with me instead of drugging me to zombiehood. A beginning regime of light, strength building weight training, possibly coupled with yoga. Testing some combinations of Essential Oils.

Don't get me wrong, I am not ruling out medical interventions... I just prefer that as a last resort, rather than a first call. I went down what seemed the obvious course: it looks like carpal tunnel- a simple fix for that if the brace failed to work. After 6 months, it was much better, but not "fixed", so I saw the surgeon. The surgeon who today told me, "Medicine isn't like McDonalds! You can't just walk in and get what you want fixed to order!" He admits he thought this was carpal tunnel, but the electrical resistance test is within normal parameters, so it can't be CT". His course of actions are "more specialists" and tests.
OK, CT is ruled out, time to see what diet and exercise and other natural remedies might CURE, BEFORE calling out heavier artillery.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Howdy! Guess a few updates are in order...

First of all, Doctor visits!
The surgeon was visited on the 1st. He assured me he "stopped counting carpal tunnel surgeries (he is a hand specialist) at 1000, and that was several years ago." He is "90% sure I have carpal tunnel which will require surgery"... but just to be sure, he sent me to a neurologist. He won't do surgery without the neurologist report. (So... is this why Doctors "practice"? After thousands of surgeries, he isn't sure I have carpal tunnel?)
   I saw the neurologist last Thursday for an "electrical resistance test". I would hope every is fairly resistant to be tasered repeatedly. This Doctor assured me it wasn't an actual Taser. "Tasers have prongs which shoot out from across the room.", he said. This one was applied directly to my skin, with conductive gel for a good jolt. The nurse had told me that I would have some small needles inserted into various places in my arms and hands. "They are real small needles, like acupuncture- not like hypodermic needles." I guess she's only ever HEARD of acupuncture... because these were NOT the small needles. This was more like sharpened electrical fencing wire- I have seen finer gauge hypodermics used on horses!
   The Doc's only comment about the results of the test was "You have been putting off this surgery for awhile, haven't you?" as he directed me to make another appointment back with the surgeon. (Who will discuss the test results with me.) The repeat visit at the surgeon's office is Monday the 14th.
   Yesterday was the blood pressure follow up visit with Dr. Benjamin. 127/70. (SCORE!) I admitted I have only been taking 1/2 of the prescribed dose. He was good with that, since I got good results. We also discussed the stinking seasonal allergies, which have resulted in my annual respiratory infection. I left the office with four prescriptions. One antibiotic, one "dose pack" of prednisolone, and two different nasal sprays.
Daniel and Sam were featured in last week's local newspaper. They were headliners, the lead story above the fold! (Second story, bigger picture... Bird eating a bug!) (Yeah, there is that much local weekly news.) The guy didn't get his facts straight. He made the hike sound like Sam's idea... after Daniel's three years of planning, Dan was credited with "going along with his brother." Sam's trail name of "Link" was given and explained. (It is the name of a video game character who plays an ocarina. Sam carried his ocarina along with him and played it at rests.) Daniel's trail name was Folklore- which was not given in the story. The story called him "Ocarina"- a fabrication by the writer. ("Folklore" was given to Dan when he mentioned they could expect rain during the coming night, based on the activity of the birds around their camp.) Pretty much every quote from Dan was attributed to Sam, and Sam's quotes attributed to Daniel. Still, front page!
On the first of the month, I hit a local truckload sale, and bought 80 lbs. of chicken leg quarters. (Maybe I ought to write a chicken cookbook!) We have had BBQ grilled chicken, grilled chicken, chicken casserole, Mexican chicken casserole, chicken pasties, cold chopped chicken on salad, and tonight: chicken gumbo! (Lest you think that is ALL we have eaten- last night we had beef and bean burritos, and one night- grilled pork chops.
I got to work 6-11 today at the Dayspring warehouse. Tomorrow, The Spoon!
I got sculpey clay to make some items for little gallon jar terrariums, but haven't gotten any further than buying the clay and "pinning" ideas on pinterest.
That has pretty much been September so far. Thanks for reading!
I also want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Grandson Gavin, who will be 9 on the 11th, and my brother Robbie, who shares the day.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Life (is) going on...

Daniel made it home, having had a great hike in the Pecos Wilderness with a great group of friends. Before many days went by back here at house, he had landed not one, but TWO part time jobs. He is helping the neighbor of a friend build a fence, as well as working as a part time laborer for a local landscaper.
They have an interview with the Gentry Newspaper this weekend.
I was musing this morning about what the Twins learned on the AT. For one thing, they learned to appreciate hot meals and daily showers! With the two of them both working long hours on a daily basis, I have observed they have learned to plan ahead. They plan out their meals to carry in their lunch boxes- and even go get the items needed. Work (and school) related items are laid out beforehand, not relegated to last minute rushed searches. Some things, we still need to work on. Walking in the door is much the same as most folks experience with teens and school aged kids... a trail forms behind them. With this house being on the market (again), I need it kept looking neat. I figured one way to help contain the trail of dirty laundry would be to have a basket for it in their bathroom. The bathroom is too small for a basket- a problem I decided to solve by placing the laundry basket into the bathtub, where it is hidden by the shower curtain. When they need to shower, the basket can sit on the floor in front of the toilet.
I went into their bathroom this morning. The basket is sitting on the floor in front of the toilet... on top of a mound of dirty clothes. Really guys? REALLY?

Yesterday, the real estate dude came by to take pictures. I cleaned up as best I could, trying to make the place look good and spacious for the pictures. Why would I DO that? Something that would make the house more appealing to buyers?
We are a few weeks shy of having lived here 11 years... permanent renters. If the house doesn't sell, we continue to sit here- flushing our rent money down the drain every month. If it does sell, we HAVE TO MOVE. "We" seem set on the path of least resistance. If not forced into motion, we stay motionless.

My visit to the Doctor.... that was Monday afternoon. I was there for a referral to a carpal tunnel surgeon. I wasn't stressed. I was placid and happy to finally be getting a start on getting rid of carpal tunnel. I took a book. I read and waited- knowing before I ever arrived, my Doctor takes his time with every patient. I expected to be there until after 5:00 pm for my 3:30 appointment. I was mildly unhappy, but not shocked or terribly disturbed when my weight was taken. I've gained a couple of lbs. since my last visit, but lost more than 14 lbs. of the bulk I'd put on in the last few years. I was shocked at my blood pressure being 189/100.
Doc was NOT happy with that. I told him it was a higher than normal reading. By then, I had sat quietly another half hour. He took it again, and it was down a tad- 179/94. He said I wasn't going to have surgery unless it was down and staying down. So he put me on BP medication.
Mr C was even less pleased than the Doctor. He looked up all the herbs and dietary things I should be doing to have great BP like he does... set out the ones we had on hand and had me make a list of the ones I needed to get.
I got started on BOTH the medicine and the natural remedies. Mr C suggested I start out at half the Doctor's prescribed dose. It has been 3 nights of the herbal stuff and 1/2 the daily dose of Metaprolol... and I woke to 107/ 70 this morning. Guess they are working!
I have been keeping a record of multiple daily readings, taking the herbs, and walking. I go back to see my Doc on the 9th. Meanwhile, I have a preliminary visit to the surgeon on the 1st of September.

Friday, August 21, 2015

End of Busyness

We had a nice visit with Benjamin and Paula and the kids. Jasher was a busy boy. Two year olds can make you tear your hair out one minute and laugh until your sides ache the next! Our dog, Jaffa, learned how to very deftly avoid Jasher's attention. Jasher is so polite- he almost always says "Please" and "Thank You". And those big brown eyes- let's just say he could of been in a lot more trouble if he hadn't figured out how to melt people with them.
Althea will be 9 months old in a few days. She is SUCH a happy girl. She demonstrated how she can climb... and she is just starting to "cruise". She seemed to not mind CowGranny holding her, and would laugh and laugh with Umpaw. "heh-k-k-k-kkkkk. heeee hhhkkk- heh- kkkkkk." Her laugh is so funny!
   We tried several new/ different recipes during their visit. Paula is working on some health issues by dietary modifications. I managed to make an edible batch of quinoa. I cooked a pot of completely unseasoned black beans, which we used in several recipes. We turned them into tortillas for enchiladas, and for fajitas. The seasoned mixture made tortillas that taste very much like the Frito-Lay bean dip I remember as a kid!
   While making the tortillas, we thought of how much the tortillas resembled chocolate pancakes... so the next morning, we used some of the black beans as a base for cocoa pancakes. Different seasonings, different proportions- you'd never know the bean base was cooked in the same batch!
Paula brought her vitamix. Wow. From grinding grains to making ice cream- it is quite the useful tool! (I couldn't talk her into forgetting it when they left...)
Ben got to visit some old friends while he was here.  He and Paula took the kids to the Wild Wilderness Safari Park. I hope he enjoyed his down-time as much as we enjoyed having them here.
   Sam has started electrician school, four hours one night each week. He is working full time as an apprentice. He seems to be enjoying it. Daniel's last day of his current hike is today. The group heads from New Mexico back to Texas tomorrow, and he is due to fly back to Arkansas Sunday morning.
When the world wakes up and doors start to open for the business day, I have phone calls to make. Tom has been reminding me all week to call to get the ball rolling on finally having the carpal tunnel surgery. I have a couple of other calls to make at the behest of others. At some point today, I NEED to try to nap. I usually try to sleep in on Friday mornings, as I work 3 -til- after cleanup at the restaurant.... usually 10:30ish. Tonight is Chicken- Fried Chicken night...  the monthly special that lands in my corner! It is one of the hardest nights on the carpal tunnel arm.
This morning I got up to see Ben and Paula off on their journey back to Texas. I had gone back to bed (5:35am!) and JUST dozed, when Mr C came in, flipped on the light and exclaimed, "SWEETY! You have gone back to bed!".
"Uh, yeah. I work tonight!"
He'd forgotten. I laid there another 20 minutes, and didn't even come close to dozing... so I got back up. He and Sam were soon out the door to their jobs. And here I am. The quiet, empty house. A couple of stray toys we keep here for when the grands visit are laying forlornly abandoned. An empty coffee cup, a skillet I never got around to washing last night.
I miss my kids. The hustle and bustle and chaos. The noise and messes. I COULD go clean the little finger and face prints from the sliding glass door. Give the dog fresh water (again) since those who had such fun in adding kibble to the water bowl are gone. It's sort of sad to wipe away the little reminders of their visit, though.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Home again, home again, Jiggety Jig

We are back to Arkansas- the twins successfully retrieved.
We arrived at the designated camp site at Baxter State Park on July 28th... and before too long, here came our intrepid duo! They delayed their summit until Wednesday, when Tom endeavored to accompany them.
Summiting was never on my horizon. I planned to make Katahdin Falls, then return to camp. Bright and early on Wednesday the 29th, we four set forth. The guys being much faster hikers than myself soon left me behind. I strolled up the trail, having most of the day to make the 1.2 miles to the falls. Upon reaching what I THOUGHT was Katahdin Falls, I discovered my new camera had not held a battery charge... it was dead as could be! GRRRR! I visited "The Last Privy on The Trail", sat at the Falls awhile, and headed back down the Trail towards camp. I was swimming against the current... meeting well over a hundred hikers hoping to summit Katahdin! Elderly people, fat people, small children (even though the rules say you must be older than 6 to climb above treeline!), a blind lady, a couple of people using canes...
Heck, was I just a wimp? The log in sheet at the trailhead was up to six pages long when I reached it going back... and most were GROUPS, using one line sign in for all.
 I puttered around camp awhile, hiked back into the unsullied woods behind our camp site. I walked the camp area, explored the stream. Charged my camera, took pictures, passed out goodies (Little Debbie treats) to hikers... until about 11:00 am. That was about the time we had figured I should leave to drive to the opposite side of the mountain and meet the boys.
The official guide says it is NOT recommended to try to summit Katahdin, hike the Knife's Edge, and try to return to Katahdin Stream campground in one day. Simply takes too much time. As it turned out, the advice was for weekend hikers... but we didn't know that. The drive around the mountain did, indeed, take a full 90 minutes to cover the 16 miles.
I was waiting when Dan and Sam appeared... and Sam told me that as he was brag calling/ texting family and friends from atop Katahdin (one of the few places in Baxter that actually has cell reception!) that Becky called to say Gma Arlene (Tom's mom) was in the hospital after having suffered a heart attack. This was ALL we knew. We found one DOT of cell coverage as we drove back towards camp at Katahdin Stream campground, and spoke to Tom's brother. Arlene was doing well after three stents had been placed in the blood flow to her heart. We lost contact almost immediately.
As it had turned out... Katahdin IS a tough climb. Tom had turned back without making the summit. I had already left to drive around the mountain before he got back to camp. (Very few of those who had headed to the summit actually made it!)
We told him about his Mom, and as ready as he was to break camp and head to her side, we figured it would be better to wait until morning to do so. Camp was paid for, and we were settled in. Breaking camp and leaving would of had four exhausted travelers forced to find shelter soon after hitting the road, had we left.
Tom asked me about the Falls... and as it turned out, I hadn't made it to them! They were another short climb around the hill from where I had been. My camera freshly charged... I did the hike up the mountain again. Once more, I was going against the flow. All those hikers who had been hopefully trying to summit were headed down.
The spot where I had been that morning was full of mostly nude Swedish hikers splashing about in the ICY stream! I wended my way past and got to see the Falls! Not wanting it to be a hike "just for the pictures"... I sat and enjoyed the solitude of the Falls for awhile before heading back to camp. The Swedes were dressing as I came back past. They passed me by as I strolled back down the trail.
The next day, we broke camp and headed to Ohio. We drove until late that night, and then slept a few hours. A second day of driving put us to Tom's Mom's house just before dark. She had beaten us there by an hour or less.
We spent the rest of our Ohio time doing "Sonny-do" chores and just relaxing as best we could.
Arriving home some 10 days later... the first thing we see- our porch is gone!
Whoever stole it replaced it with a nice new one. Going inside, we had turned down the AC to 90 before we left. It was marginally cooler than the 97* temperatures at 8:00 pm outside. After unloading, I was setting to work to prepare supper. Opening the freezer... GACK! *GAG*... The refrigerator had gone out on us while we were gone. Everything was spoiled. It was running- feebly  blowing tepid air across the ruined food. A formerly frosty mug fell out when Tom opened the door to ascertain my claim to the spoilage was accurate... shattering all over the tile floor and cutting his foot. Sam cleaned out the rotted foods, Dan cleaned up broken glass, while I tended Tom's foot. Then Tom and Sam went to town for something to feed us all... and Daniel worked on alleviating the visual stress associated with returning from a long trip.
Monday was errands: Returning the rental car. Buying regular groceries. Alerting the landlord to the broken refrigerator. Contacting prospective employers for Sam.
Results: We learned the new porch is phase one of house overhauls. The owners are once again putting the house on the market. (Their offer to us wasn't even in the same ballpark as what Tom expected, much less anywhere near the same page!)
Sam was put to work the very next day, with his new employers setting up his schooling as well as paying for it. Daniel and I went to Texas and retrieved the dog.
Jaffa was so glad to see us... he made sure we couldn't leave without him. We TRIED to get out of the house and keep him inside, just to see if it were possible. It was not.
So, here we are... back to Arkansas. Expecting Ben and Paula this weekend! July and August have been quite busy.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

PSA: Driving Etiquette/ Turn signals

Perhaps just too much is going on in my normally placid life.
I went to visit my friend Cindi this morning- her birthday is tomorrow, and I wouldn't have another opportunity to see her until we return from getting our intrepid trail hikers.

I found myself on a stretch of highway through town- a big ol' white truck ahead of me. It's not only going slower than the speed limit by a great deal- it is slowing down. Slower, slower... what is going ON with that? Then, brake lights, and the guy turns right, into a construction site. Oooo-Kaaay! Now I know why he was going at a strolling pace down the highway.

But I would of known sooner, and not been left wondering... and perhaps even been afforded an opportunity to pass, had the driver used these little devices that come standard on every vehicle in the USA these days. The little thing called a "turn signal". When someone uses a turn signal properly, other drivers don't have to wonder about your intentions. "Oh, he is going to turn RIGHT at the construction site!"

Turn signals are usually found on the steering column. The "Steering column" is that post that the steering wheel is attached to, that disappears through the dash of the car. "Turn Signals" look like small rods protruding from either the left or right side of the steering column. Depending on which side your turn signal is mounted on, you tap it from the top to indicate you plan to turn one direction, tap it from the bottom to indicate the opposite direction. The tapping of the rod, either up, or down, will activate a blinking light on the exterior of the vehicle. In most cases, the turn signal cancels itself out after you have completed the turn. Not only should you indicate your intention of turning, you should also use these clever devices to let folks know you plan to cut them off. (AKA "change lanes").

Here in the south, turn signals are no indication one does, in fact, intend to turn or change lanes. Often, the blinking light you see on an approaching car simply means that the "turn signal" was activated before the car was purchased, and the driver has no clue it is even on. (If you do not actually witness a person's turn signal being activated, never assume they do, in fact, plan to turn. This lack of assumption may save your life!)
If you are unfamiliar with the "turn signal", please take a few minutes to explore them on your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in "Park" (the big "P" on the control indicator.) Start the vehicle. Locate the rods protruding below the steering wheel. Try tapping the rod up. Exit the vehicle, and you should see a blinking light on the front and rear of the vehicle, on one side or the other. Tapping the rod downward once will cause the blinking to stop. Tap it down again... and the blinking light will appear on the opposite side of the vehicle!
USE the turn signal EVERY TIME you plan to turn or change lanes! It is a simple courtesy that could save your life.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I would rather not set a new record on bad years...

2012 has my permission to hold the all time title for the rest of my life.
But this week is stacking up as a Very. Bad. Week.
My BFF Angie's daughter Katrina was killed in a car accident Friday morning. Trina was 21- would of been 22 in November.
My friend of the past 11-ish years, Cindi. In the past 2 years: Lung cancer, double bypass on her heart, bleeding ulcers almost bled her out, brain tumor... she has fought a hard battle. Turning from atheistic views, to believing God MUST have a plan for her... and this week learns the cancer is not only back- but is at stage 4. Her life expectancy is: "Longer if she keeps fighting". I got the call from a mutual friend on our way to Kathie's birthday party Saturday.

My Mom got a call on her way to the party. A good friend of her and Ralph, who has been bounced around the doctors who have given him several incorrect diagnoses the last few months... collapsed with what is now said to be a cancerous tumor on his spine. One doctor said even if the tumor is a benign cancer, the spinal damage is already done and he will remain paralyzed. (On the good news side- he wiggled his toes, there is hope for recovery!) (Steve)
Saturday night Mom got a call from her brother in California- their niece's son was found passed away in his bed. (Debby)

My cousin Jeanie was unable to attend Kathie's party... her husband Ronnie had a "mini stroke" and is in the hospital.
My former DIL's Mom is in the hospital with a severe stomach inflammation. (Lynn)
A niece, and a former sister in law have both been in the hospital the last week with blood clots in their legs. (Susan) (Cami)
DIL Paula requests prayers for healing of kidney issues.
Kathie's cousin (Judy) is having rejection issues with a heart transplant.
So, my prayer request list is rather lengthy.
Kathie had a good turn out for her party. Thank you to all who came, and all who sent cards. We know there are very valid reasons many who would of liked to have attended, could not. For those of you who MEANT to send a card, it isn't too late... her birthday is another week off. You have time to mail a card!
My mom and I had a few chuckles. I am becoming more my Mom every day. First of all, we both brought a few party decorations. We did NOT duplicate one another. However, we did exactly co-ordinate colors... turquoise blue and shades of purple! I had bought balloons, she bought crepe paper. And they MATCHED. This was NOT discussed beforehand.
This morning, I got up and got dressed. Mom arrived at Dad and Kathie's a short while later. Mom and I were wearing coordinating peach colored shirts... matching sneakers (same brand and color), and we both had matching boo-boos at the same spot on our legs. Totally unplanned.
We had a great time getting to see Becky and Tommy, Becky's kids, and Connor and Alana. (Our hopes for seeing Gavin were dashed once again.)
Jaffa looked quite unhappy at being left behind for his visit with his "grandparents". But he was following my Dad around all afternoon, and his "uncle" keeps sneaking him treats. He is going to be spoiled rotten!
Another week, we will be Maineward bound!

Friday, July 17, 2015

So many plans, so much to do...

and then, suddenly, you can't do anything but cry.

My best friend for more than 32 years lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last night. I have known Katrina since (before!) she was born.
Grief and pain overwhelms me. I'm sure some degree of PTSD- My heart just hurts.
I know there is nothing I can say that will help Angie, nothing anyone can do but be there as she walks the hard road ahead.
Please be praying for Angie Brown and the rest of her children.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gardening to the Min! (Not Max)

This year's garden has been very minimal here. At my insistence, Mr C planted more tomatoes than he normally does. We seldom have enough tomatoes to can. He planted corn TWICE... and we have like, five stalks come up, total. One wee row (maybe 6 feet?) of pole beans, a wee row of peas. Then about a dozen bush bean/ runner bean plants where the corn didn't grow.
He planted two bell peppers, four jalapeno peppers, and two "cayenne" peppers. The one jalapeno planted in a container is still alive. The other three all fell over/ were uprooted by high winds and too much rain. One bell pepper plant lives. The "cayenne" pepper plants- they are producing EXTREMELY hot peppers that are some 10"-14" inches long. Very pretty peppers. Oh, and squash. Of the six or so zucchini that came up, we have had maybe six to 10 squash off of them. The half dozen yellow squash plants have been profoundly prolific. After purchasing and eating a spaghetti squash, I planted a couple of the seeds. One squash plant came up, and is fixing to bloom!

The blight hit the garden again this year, despite the precautions we took. The tomatoes are fading fast, but we are harvesting a decent crop as the plants deteriorate. Today I brought in 30 tomatoes... including a number of green ones that had fallen from the vines. In the pressure canner at the moment, I have five pints of green beans, and two pints + four half pints of "rotel" tomatoes. Once the fire is off beneath the canner, I need to make a fast trip to town for some supplies. The next batch of goodness will be some lovely green tomato relish. This stuff is perfection used as a sauce over chicken cream cheese enchiladas.
Yesterday, I made our first batch of fresh salsa. I used ONE of the "cayenne" peppers, and it about set my mouth on fire! I haven't 'canned' salsa in more than 10 years... it is so much better fresh! But maybe I shall give it a whirl Monday or so. (Too busy in the meantime!)
I think I have "put up" at least a dozen jars of green beans from our little plot. I have frozen what squash that comes faster than we can eat it- and I have been serving a LOT of squash! I used the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) recipe for cauliflower pizza crust, but used squash instead. It is a "keeper" recipe!
Meanwhile, I have been continuing to "forage" the roadsides, making several batches of blackberry jelly. I thawed and used some of the twins home made apple cider in an attempt at cider jelly. I think I got cider syrup instead, as I didn't follow the recipe. I feared it would be waaaaay too sweet if I used as much sugar as it was calling for. But apple cider syrup is great on apple pancakes!

For our very minimal garden this year, we have been very blessed by God's abundance!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Whoot! Got an extra day of work!

Friday afternoon, Staffmark called. They needed someone to "build boxes" Monday and Tuesday at Dayspring. By first break, my arm felt like it was falling off. I did discover a way to improve my speed. They had several extra people show up from different departments to help... so we ended up with only one day of work instead of two. But that was a day I didn't have otherwise. I ended up with four tape gun cuts and one box cut before the day was over. I joked that they were going to go broke keeping me in bandages!

I don't know why my brain goes off the reservation sometimes. Us box builders were shown to take the cardboard flat that was cut to shape. Fold in the short sides, and one long side. Tape across, and stack it up. The stacks of built boxes kept getting knocked over, so three of the others started stacking them in holding boxes. Once we had a number of boxes built, we went back and put four 6"x6" calendars in each box, taped the final long flab down, and set aside again for labeling. I timed doing it this way- how long did it take to process 50 completed/ filled/ ready to label units. Then I tried taking the flat cardboard, putting the 4 calendars in the center, and folding the cardboard into the box around it. ONE strip of tape to completion. I could do 50 units in 20 minutes... including a trip to the band aid dispenser. I skipped three or four steps. It used half the amount of tape. Worked myself right out of the second day's labor!

I got back the pants I had sent the twins. They said cotton was too hot, too heavy, and stayed wet too long. They failed to warn me to open the box outside. I may be airing the house for days! I best remember to take them clean clothes to wear in the car when we go get them... and have them at least sponge bathe before we get into the vehicle with them. The pungency of the clothes alone made my eyes water!

The garden caught blight again this year. We got very few zucchini, and the tomatoes are about done- we have been bringing in a good amount daily to finish ripening on the window sill. The last batch of green beans Tom planted are JUST starting to produce, while the first ones are about spent. I think I have canned six or seven jars of beans this year, and very few tomatoes as yet. The blight is causing green ones to drop- so I am thinking of making some of that wonderful green tomato relish this week.

I am up to 86 miles walked since the last day of May. I hope I have stamina enough building up to do the 2 1/2 miles from our camp site to Katahdin Falls! I understand it is almost straight UP the trail- climbing from 1106 feet to 1647 at the Falls, before the REAL climb hits for those headed to the top of Katahdin! (5268 ft!) Tom plans to go to the top, as will the twins. I have zero intention of going to the top.

Guess I best get busy here. I've got green beans and tomatoes calling my name. (Or calling me names. It's pretty hard to understand vegetable-speak.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Yes, there was a tornado. Missed us completely...

I am guessing the tornado that hit Gentry (about 7 miles from us) was during the time yesterday evening when Tom and I were looking out at the pouring rain, and it was coming down so hard we couldn't see across the field to the neighbors' houses. Nothing to indicate a tornado here. We did get 2.7 inches of rain in 36 hours.

My tomato sauce ended up as pizza sauce. REALLY tasty. I made a THM inspired crust using cooked squash, coconut flour, eggs, parmesan cheese, and seasoning. When I mentioned the pizza to Sam over the phone, he said it sounded more like a casserole than pizza. Tom assured him, it was very much "real" pizza with crust. We were pleased. It also didn't leave us feeling bloated afterwards.

This is Friday, so my work day. Tonight, I am pretty sure it is beef tips on the menu. Of course, *I* will be making the fish, hush puppies, and chicken fingers.
I TRY to sleep in on Fridays. No such luck this morning. I was up before 6. My brain was humming with everything coming up the next few weeks.
Next Saturday is Kathie's party. We will be taking Jaffa down with us, and bringing Connor and Alana back. We are supposed to get to see Gavin while we are there. I hope we do! Connor and Alana are spending the coming week with "Uncle" Becky, and then leave for camp the morning after we get back from East Texas.

That week will be VERY quiet here- Jaffa staying at his grandparents house. (Shhhh! I think he is their favorite grand-dog!) I am sure he is looking forward to seeing his 'cousins' and Uncle as well.
I decided to put off final gathering/ packing for each trip for that week. I have been putting items in pre-staging areas as I think of them.

We will not much more than get back to here, when the twins are taking off for Zesch Trek. I haven't even asked where they are going this year. Seems the Pecos Wilderness has been the destination every year the twins have gone, thus far. But the Trekkers have gone to Colorado in the past. (Maybe some day they will come do the Arkansas mountains!)
While the twins head to Texas/ Trek, Ben and Paula are coming to see us!
Seems we are going to be busy EVERY weekend/ week from now until late August. (Starting tomorrow with a cookout/ baby shower at a friend's house.)
Yesterday was my step-Dad Ralph's 81st birthday, as well as my FAVORITE Son in Law Stephen's 29th birthday. Kathie's party is the 18th, but her birthday, as well as nephew Tony's birthday are actually the 27th. Before that, nephew Luke on the 20th, and grandson Tyrel on the 25th. (The 25th was also Tom's dad's birthday.)
Tom and I will have our 31st anniversary August 3rd. Looks like we could easily be celebrating it at Niagara Falls! Whoot- first time to do anything "major" on any anniversary. (Yes, I know it is simple coincidence we are doing anything at all this year. The anniversary just happens to fall in line with plans laid for other reasons.)
Have a blessed day, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It's a rainy day, It's a rainy day! it's raining outside and I can't go out and play...

That was one of Bill Joe's favorite Sesame Street songs.
It IS a rainy day here. I am not sure when we last remembered to empty the rain gauge- but it had five inches in it just now, and it's a steady downpour. The radar indicates a long, long band of storms, crossing us mostly lengthwise.
So, I am not out walking today. Didn't walk yesterday or Monday.
I picked the garden yesterday, in the rain.
Today, I have my first tomatoes to do something with, other than just fresh eating. We have been having fresh 'maters daily for more than a week, but the abundance has now overwhelmed our daily use. I pureed a number of them, and have them cooking down in the wee crockpot. Seasoned up Italian, they may be pizza sauce tonight. Or perhaps spaghetti sauce. I intend to try a THM pizza crust made of squash tonight.
Our intrepid hikers have less than 350 miles to go to reach Mt. Katahdin! I was packing up a box of goodies to send them to sustain them through the 100 Mile Wilderness they will soon be reaching. I have the largest sized Priority Mail box full and sealed, and the smaller Priority Mail box within an inch or so of capacity.
Just trying to decide what to send to fill that last bit of space. Please pray for the guys as they tread these final, dangerous segments of the trail.
On the home front, things seem to be perking along regarding Kathie's 80th Birthday celebration. As a reminder, that is July 18 from 2-5 pm. If you aren't attending, I urge you to send a card. Contact me for information if you need it.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Victorious Day?

This morning, we had pancakes for breakfast. Both girls gobbled them down. Alana and I went out and picked the garden- peas, green beans, and squash. We noticed the blackberry vines in the side yard were ripely laden, so we picked those. That sort of set the path for the day.
We put on the bug deterrent, remembered to take water and hats... and set out berry picking the local roads. Nickole quickly grew tired and opted to sit in the car. Alana and I found a LOT of perfectly ready bushes along the roadsides, and before long, had enough for a second batch of jelly.
We returned to the house, where Mr C had arrived for lunch. He had taken out the plates of leftovers from the week so far, and everyone got to choose what they wanted to eat. Nickole had a hot dog. Alana had brats and sauerkraut. Mr C had a brat and we shared the leftover wings. Everyone was happy... two meals in a row!
For the afternoon, the girls and I needed to can green beans, make jelly, and wanted to make some simple skirts. I remembered Alana and I had found some "fairy stones" on our hike earlier in the week. We also planned to make those into necklaces.
We started with the green beans. Alana and I had those jarred up and in the pressure canner in no time!
We dug out my craft tubs... and the girls found material they liked. But no elastic. The berries were cleaned and ready to go... and I realized we had no pectin.
Clearly, a trip to town was in order.
As soon as the beans were done cooking, we set off.
The girls each chose a new fabric for a skirt- not having to settle for what I had on hand. Alana chose Minions. Nickole chose Strawberry Shortcake,  "Because I love Strawberry Shortcake even more than I love my Mom... and THAT's a LOT". We got elastic.
Alana reminded me we had planned earlier in the week to do berry stained T shirts. So we grabbed a couple of white T shirts. I got the pectin... we headed home.
Sam had called while we were out... he needed me to get an overnight order in for some prepackaged "real" back packer meals before they hit their next long trail segment. I got that done... which delayed the doing of stuff here.
The berries were cooking down while I made Nickole's skirt. Then the girls decorated the white shirts with berry mash and blackberry juice. I got those hung out and supper on to cook moments before Mr C got home.
We had tacos. Nickole ate two. I was informed that they were a lot better than the AWFUL food I have been making her eat all week.
(Most of my kids and grandkids think I am a great cook. I can hear Nickole now telling her kids what a terrible cook her CowGranny was!)
So it was a successful day as far as food went with the Princess.
We finished supper, I got the leftovers put away, dishwasher reloaded. I got Alana's skirt started. Mr C put in a movie I found at WM I knew he would enjoy: Earnest P. Worrels Greatest Hits. It had a couple we had never even heard of.
Alana's skirt was complete. I brought the girls beautifully stained T shirts in, and tried setting the stains in the dryer before washing all their clothes.
(The washing turned out to be the undoing of the shirts :(
They just look dirty now- All their pretty patterns are faint grey stains. I probably bought stain resistant shirts or something.)
Before the movie was quite over, we did our necklaces. Nickole was bored and finished a simple necklace quickly. Alana took her time- both turned out nicely.
I am pretty sure we have everything gathered and cleaned up for their returns home tomorrow. They have their skirts, and jelly, necklaces, and T shirts. Plus Alana is taking home one of the jars of beans she did herself. (Nickole was NOT interested in taking beans home!)
It has been quite a week. Or almost week.
I'm still under the weather- probably would of been in bed the entire time if I hadn't started a bout of prednisone.
Tom and I have carbed out- totally NOT watching the diet. My walking was far less than it had been. So looks like we start fresh next week!

The shirts before washing

Alana and Nickole
Showing off their new duds!

It's all in the presentation....

The picky picky princess was not pleased with last night's supper, for the most part. After a quick post-swimming snack of heat and eat chicken strips, the girls settled in to watch a movie while CowGranny got supper started.
We were having chicken wings, kale with bacon, and grilled squash.
I expected the wings would be the only food Nickole would like- the kale and the squash being on her suspicion list.
The wings went into the rotisserie to get nicely browned and tasty. Really simple. Kale was washed and torn to bites. I cooked bacon in my cast iron skillet, pushed the bacon to the side, and quick cooked the kale in the hot bacon oil. I left out the onions and mushrooms I usually put into this dish. The squash I simply sliced into rounds, sprayed with cooking oil spray on a pizza pan. I seasoned lightly with garlic powder and smoked paprika, topping with tiny sprinkles of parmesan cheese. Then I grilled them. They looked like wee little pizzas!
Nickole protested the kale, but ate it after seeing I was right- it was already in her mouth and she would keep on having the taste in her mouth until she swallowed it. Took less than 30 seconds for her to eat her kale. (She didn't die.)
She asked what was the (squash). I told her they were wee little pizzas. She picked them up and ate them. Both of them. No arguments, no griping, no negotiating.
It was the chicken wing she protested. It wasn't a chicken strip.
 (I know, the chicken strips were at lunch. This is still chicken.)
 (She only likes WHITE meat.)
(A wing IS white meat.)
 (How is she supposed to eat the BONES? The BONES can choke you! )
  (You eat the meat from the bones and don't eat the bone.)
(She doesn't LIKE chicken!)
 (Yes you do, you asked for seconds at lunch.)
Alana finished her supper- including the squash, which she isn't a huge fan of- and was having cherries and ice cream for dessert.
(How come Alana gets to have cherries and ice cream?)
(Because she ate her supper. When you eat your supper, you can have some too, if you want.)
(I DO want some. Right NOW! I do NOT want my supper. I want ice cream!)
(That's not the way it works.)
Yes, she ate the chicken.
And she got ice cream and she got cherries.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visit with 1.2 and 2.1, up to day 4...

I came home from work early on Friday- my dear co-workers and boss taking pity on me. I felt SO awful. I took some generic Nyquil type stuff and crawled to bed. Saturday, Mr C suggested I cancel going to get the girls. I told him how disappointed Nickole (2.1) would be, and if I had what HE had had last week, I should be better soon. He got ready and drove me to get the girls. I was so grateful- I just wanted to go to bed once we got home.
Saturday night was pretty laid back. We watched Nickole's FAVORITE SpongeBob movie. Jammies were put on and everyone got to bed just after dark. Sunday morning, I got up and made the promised pancakes. I asked if blueberries were desired- and got an enthusiastic YES!!! (Nickole told me they are her and her daddy's FAVORITE!)
Fortunately, I added the blueberries to individual pancakes and not the bowl of batter. Apparently REAL blueberries are NOT Nickole's favorite. But she tried them, and then I made her a pancake without blueberries. She ate every bite!
After breakfast, we got dressed and got our containers, and we went blackberry picking. Alana (1.2) was having a wonderful time. Nickole had fun with the concept. She DID pick some berries herself. I had to laugh when, at one point, she suggested Alana and I take her bucket and pick the berries FOR her, and she would just wait in the car.  The idea didn't fly, and she helped pick more berries.
When we got back to the house, Grumpaw had been working in the garden. He brought in peas, green beans, and squash. I washed all the veggies, and the girls helped me deal with them.
Alana snipped the ends off the beans, and Nickole hulled the peas while I cut up and bagged squash.
Alana and Nickole both sampled raw squash. We got the peas bagged and frozen, and the beans refrigerated for later use.
Then we made the blackberry jelly. While I tried to get pictures of every step, I later discovered my camera was malfunctioning, and it was taking short, blurry videos and not photographs on many of the attempts.
Once the jelly was made, and cooling, the girls did custom labels for each of the jars. I toasted some 15 grain bread, and we had jelly toast. 15 grain bread was another new food for Nickole. She thought it was "too hard to eat", but managed to finish her 1/2 slice of jelly toast. (This was her decision. I told her it was her choice on whether to eat it or not when she grumbled that she guessed she would just sit there until bedtime and NOT eat it. I hadn't even mentioned her sitting there until bedtime, but hey, if that was how she managed it at home, I went with it! I told her how sad we were going to be for her to be inside sitting by her jelly toast while we were outside at the campfire, having s'mores after supper...  apparently 15 grain bread was not entirely intolerable.)
We did indeed set up a tent... and discovered that it should of simply been pitched in the trash, rather than packed up and stored! Broken zippers and torn screens and a good deal of aggravation aside, we took that tent down and set up a different one. The bedding, pillows, and toys were carried out. We had a campfire. Pottied endless times, involving unzipping the tent door, which tended to catch on the fly every. single. time.
Mr C set up a hammock to sleep in nearby, and suggested I would be better in my bed. (The coughing up gunk was worse, and every breath was a wheeze). I came inside and checked my social media... and learned that while there was no rain in the forecast, the local weather station had us under a severe storm "pop-up" advisory for our county. A possibility of large hail and 70 MPH winds.
I alerted Mr C, and we made a precautionary decision that everyone should come sleep inside.
Breakfast Monday was "minion" cereal. I had opened a new carton of milk... the gallon(?) of Almond milk in the plastic jug had run out. This was a cardboard carton of exactly the same stuff, but not in the plastic jug. This upset 2.1.... she suddenly didn't LIKE this milk (which she had been drinking by the glass full for 2 days without problem.) Since we couldn't go do our plans for the day until she finished her cereal (It was already lunch time when she awoke at 11:00 am), we waited for her to decide the milk wasn't damaging the cereal and eat.
Then we grabbed stuff to pick blackberries (just in case) and some towels (just in case) and water (having learned our lesson about forgetting water the day before) and took off. We drove to Hobbs State Park over East of Rogers. (Stopping for a chocolate dipped cone along the way!) We hiked TWO trails, of 1/2 mile each. The tall shady trees kept the paths cool in the 89* heat. The girls enjoyed the various lengths of the stream we were near, feeling how cold the water was (FRIGID!) with their hands as we observed frogs, butterflies, and dragonflies.
After the hike, we stopped in at the Nature Center. Wonderfully air conditioned! They have taxidermied animals of many varieties native to Arkansas. (I dropped my camera once... and it seems to now be working fine, no longer taking the video clips when I want still shots!) There were bear, bobcats, wild turkey, bats, raccoons, and many variety of birds on display. We got to see live snakes and a three toed box turtle in glass cages.
Leaving the nature center, we drove over to War Eagle Mill, and watched the water powered mill wheel turning. We didn't go inside, as 2.1 was more interested in the stream powering the mill. THIS is why I tossed towels into the car! Alana and Nickole waded near the small sandy shore, gathering shells and attempting to catch minnows. The water is MUCH deeper and there was so much LESS beach due to the higher water level as compared to when Becky and Paula and I were last there. We hadn't been there long when quite a number of other families began to show up... and it was getting crowded. So we headed for home.
Supper was grilled pork chops, deep fried green beans sprinkled with parmesan, and roasted cauliflower. Nickole found the pork chop acceptable, but it took quite awhile to actually TRY the green beans (I had put 5 beans on her plate, and about a teaspoon of cauliflower.) She was crying she was AFRAID of her food. Eventually she ate 1/4 teaspoon of cauliflower and two green beans. She didn't die.
Alana loved the entire meal.
Today's plan is Jones center for Ice Skating.
 But first, breakfast...

Friday, June 26, 2015


I certainly am a wordy person! This is my 1000th post to this blog.
Of course, this is over a period of some 7+ years.
I woke this morning with a sore throat and coughing up gunk... not an auspicious beginning. Not so much a sore throat, as raw. Getting some Thieves oil on my neck to stop it now!
I am trying to tie up loose ends before I have to head off to work... Tomorrow I go get Nickole and Alana.
I totally blew the THM diet this morning. I had pre-sweetened "kid cereal" with almond milk. It was made from rice and wheat. I immediately got stomach cramps and reacted as if I had ingested lactose... so I am wondering if perhaps a subtle gluten allergy may be as much to blame for some past problems as milk products?
I have lost weight between THM and walking.
I have missed walking the last few days. Wednesday I skipped the walk because I had been "ill" during the night Tuesday. (I hate tossing cookies!!!) I felt better by Thursday morning, so set off to the west, turning south on the first road. I hadn't gone more than 100 yards when I saw a truck coming from the opposite direction. It was travelling slowly, but there were two big dogs chasing it. I recognized the neighbor dog we call "Special" as one of those dogs. I didn't want to have to deal with dogs, and I REALLY didn't want to have to deal with Special, so I turned around and got back around the corner. The dogs had given up chasing the truck, and headed back south.
I figured I would just continue on East of the house and finish my walk.
We hadn't seen Special around for more than a week, and wondered if her people had got rid of her, or finally starved the poor dog to death. Seeing her IN THE DISTANCE satisfied my wondering about what had become of her.... I really didn't need her to see me and insist I needed a guard dog for my walk. When I made it safely around the corner, I was relieved. Whoot! Close call.
Just as I reached the driveway passing Special's people's home, there was a great rattling and shaking in the brush and tall grass... and out leaped a bear!
Oh wait... it wasn't a bear.
It was Special... and she was SSSSsssooooOOOOoooo glad to see me and can she go with me on my walk? and oh look I'm all wet! here let me shake oh now you are wet too but you looked too warm out here and here I am so glad to see you aren't you glad to see me let me leap up on you and lick at your face and dance circles around you and stray into the road the cars always stop
Yeah. One wet, exuberant dog had seen me after all. Between her house and mine, no less than five cars had to completely STOP for her being in the road. Several slowed way down. ALL of the drivers glared at ME. Special gave me escort home, where I just gave up on the days walk. (.8 total mileage)
I usually cut my walk short on Fridays due to working all evening- I don't want to be worn out before I get there. Storms this morning, and me with stuff still to do, so I didn't even TRY today.
I am on a break from vacuuming the house. I've got beds made for the girls, kid friendly food stocked in the cupboard. Just half the house left to complete on floors, plus once over in the bathrooms... Ready as I can get.
Still wish I were getting to have all the kids at once!