Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two checks

Last night, I wrote out two checks.

One was the final payment of our Camper.

The other was the final payment on our Diesel pickup.

I can't express how happy I am to have those two payments GONE. It's a big step towards reaching a goal I have. My goal is to get everything paid off. By paying these two off, we now only have payments on the tractor and the car. The car will be paid off in less than a year. The tractor has 2 years left. If I can manage it, I'll pay both off early too.

But, well...I also have another motive for paying these off now.

See, I can drop the insurance coverage on both. The pickup can now go from full coverage to liability only. And the camper will have a lower premium as well. And I need that break because...

well because....

We decided to buy Andy a new car for graduation.

And, yes, it's a secret. So if anyone tells'll have to deal with Kev. Andy doesn't suspect at all, because his father has said for years and years and years, "I had to buy my first car, so don't expect me to buy you a car." And, when Kev first suggested it to me (yes, it was his idea,) I couldn't believe those words were coming out of his mouth! But after thinking about it for a couple of months, and after driving the Ranger recently, we decided we really needed to do this.

The Ranger has 250,000 miles on it and it's starting to show its age. In addition, Andy will need something more dependable to drive to and from school. And, good lord, a lumber wagon is smoother than that Ranger is anymore! The Ranger needs to retire.

We found a nice car, newer than the one we drive. The price is right. We can get some money on trading in the Ranger, so we decided to do this. Then I checked into insurance. And almost had a heart attack! Car insurance for teenage boys is frighteningly high. Ridiculously high. Insanely high.

So, Kev and I decided we needed to see what we could do to save a little money. And when I was paying bills on Monday night, I realized that I only had 6 coupons left on the pickup. So, I called to see what the balance was. It was so low, that I could afford to pay it off...early! And, I knew that the camper was also almost paid off. Called for the balance on it, and paid it off too!

Now, I can not only put some cash into savings every month, but we can also afford to buy our son a new car! And, we'll save some money on insurance too.

I can't wait until graduation morning, because he's going to be stunned. Shocked. Thrilled. of you who will be joining us that'll get to see his excitement with us!

So just remember...keep your mouths shut for two more weeks!

(And, yes, this is safe...Andy never reads my blog...)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Honor Roll

Last night, we attended the High School's Honors Banquet. Each year, they have a banquet for those students who have been on the Honor Roll for both semesters.

Andy has been on the Honor Roll since we've been here. In fact, I believe he's been on the honor roll all but one semester while being in High School. There were several Seniors on the Honor Roll this year. Well, I guess several is the appropriate adjective when you have a class of 18, and 8 kids made the Honor Roll. However, of that 18, three kids were International Students, kids who are here on an Exchange program. Two of those three kids are boys.

The only "local" boy to make the Honor Roll was Andy. I think that makes him pretty special; being the only local boy on the Senior class honor roll. Interestingly, each of the other grades also only had one boy who made the grade. (Hummm...maybe these boys were only on there for affirmative action...) Anyway, we all know that when it comes to book learnin', girls are smarter than boys.

That's what I thought growing up...see, of the top 6 kids in my high school class, 5 of us were girls. Actually, we girls probably were the top students of the top third of my class. And, the trend was the same in most of the classes in my school. Today, I know that all women aren't smarter than men. But, it took me a while to appreciate that someones intelligence isn't necessarily reflective on how well they did in High School.

But, I'm still very proud of my son for being the only boy in his class who made the Honor Roll for the past two years.

almost finished

Take your right hand. Hold it up in front of you, where you can see it. Place your index finger approximately one inch from your thumb.

That's how close we are to having all our inside projects finished.

Photos will follow...eventually.

The bathroom is all but finished. I need to touch up some paint, and that's it.

The pellet stove wall is rocked and we have a mantle in place. All that is left on it is to finish the trim on the window. Well, and I need to decide what "pretties" I want to put on the mantle. Right now, it's holding an elk antler. I'll probably leave it and add something else. I haven't decided if I should add curtains, or a valance in the window yet. But, that can wait, the important thing's that close to being finished.

I have one curtain sewed and up in the dining room. I've had the fabric for over a year, and have finally figured out what I wanted the curtains to look like. I think I'll be able to finish them this weekend.

Both of the previously mentioned projects should also be finished by this weekend. Then...then we'll be done with inside projects. Well, for the time being. We're never completely done. I swear, we could build a house and once we moved in, we'd start remodeling something.

Once the inside projects are finished...we'll move on to the outside projects. Kev wants to get some landscaping done around his pond...before graduation. We have two working weekends left before graduation. Will we reach our goals? Stay tuned...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Prairie Dogs

I've been trying to go for a 2 mile walk every day around Lake Charles, a small "lake" on the college campus. Wind or calm, I've walked around on the fitness trail that winds around that part of campus. I really enjoy the walk, it goes uphill and down, wanders around the lake and through a Prairie Dog town. There are usually a couple, or more, Canadian Geese on the lake and sometimes there are even Ducks there. Most days, there are even fishermen, as the State Wildlife Dept. stocks the Lake with fish--even Trout. There's often a couple of Jackrabbits around too.
The most common animal I see are Prairie Dogs. Since the trail wanders through a Town, it's only logical that I'd see many "doodle-dogs." They bark at me constantly. Some bark at a distance, some let me get pretty close to their hole, barking the entire time, and then at the last minute...bang! Down the hole they go! But, it's a constant sound as I walk the one mile route.

They are rather funny creatures. When they bark, they wag their tails. Just one sharp wag, with each bark. It almost looks as though the movement of the tail up and sharply down, is what forces the sound from their mouths. It makes me wonder...if a doodle dog couldn't wag it's tail; could it bark?

I've been around Prairie Dogs my entire life. One of my earliest memories is going out with Daddy to set poison out for the "Dogs." See, they destroy a pasture with their burrows and tunnels. Snakes like to share tunnels. Cattle can step in a hole and break a leg. Horses can trip in a hole and throw a rider, or break a leg. Rattlesnakes who live in Prairie Dog Towns bite livestock. The dogs eat all the grass, leaving none for livestock. Thus, most ranchers I know want to eliminate towns and dogs.

Way back when I was a little girl, it was legal to poison with Cyanide. That what I remember most, Dad stressing and scaring us when he told us to not touch the stuff. Never ever. "It will kill you faster than you can say help." The message got through. I never touched the stuff.

I remember watching him put it around holes. Can't remember if he put it in the hole, if he had gas capsules or what. But I remember watching him set poison out. My brother and cousins liked going out on a Sunday for a little target practice. My husband and son also enjoy going "doodle-dog" hunting. I've been along, but haven't shot any myself. I'm ok with it, because I know what a nuisance they are, and the dangers they present to Farmers and Ranchers.

Even knowing all this, I've enjoyed walking through the town. Except, I've noticed that the grass is gone, and without grass, the dirt really blows. As the dogs bark at me, I'll bark back, or comment to them, or just watch their fat little bodies run around.

Two weeks ago, something was missing as I walked. No one barked at me. At first, I thought that maybe...just maybe the dogs were all underground. Then I glanced over and saw a body lying near a hole.

And, it dawned on me. They had been...controlled...eradicated...removed....eliminated...

I knew the local population was too large.

I knew that near-by businesses had recently taken care of their population. The school did too.
I counted 4 living Prairie Dogs that day.

I understand the reason for it, but walk was lonely.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our .5 child

They say that the average American family has 2.5 children. We must be average, because we have a .5 child. We just lost her for a few years.

In 2001, when we bought our place north of Colby, we boarded a horse for a college student, Andi. (Yes, it was confusing, we have our Andy and our new Andi. But, it's easier to remember names that way.) Andi was from Oceanside, California. A world away from Colby, Kansas. But, she was coming to school in Colby and she brought her beloved 21-year-old Arabian horse, Prince.

We had just bought the house and had these corrals and nothing to put in them. Boarding Prince for Andi was a perfect match for both of us. She was an excellent "renter". She took care of Prince, kept his pen clean. And, we quickly got to know her and adopted her into our family.

Prince was a big baby. Andi had had him 5 years or so by this point. When she bought him, he was still a stud, and had been used for breeding. But, Andi wanted to ride him, and not worry about him acting like a stud. So, she had him neutered. Six years later, I'm not sure Prince really knew that he wasn't a stud anymore, because he still reacted to the girls. Anyway, he was really well behaved except he hated being alone. He could not tolerate being alone and would panic. For a couple of weeks, Andi borrowed a horse from another student. Then we had my Dad bring up Mac, one of his lame and retired horses to keep Prince company. They got along wonderfully, and we had Mac and Prince...and Andi for 2 years.

Besides not being able to be alone, Prince also had a special diet. Andi mixed Sr. Feed with Rice Bran and Oats with warm water twice a day. When the weather was cold, Prince got to wear a blanket. In the summer, he got vinegar in his water to keep the flies from biting so bad. And he got showers with Panteen shampoo.

He was spoiled. He was Andi's baby. And, we all grew to love him--Andi too. After her first school year, she moved into a room in our basement and rented it from us. I liked having her around. She came and went, but also interacted with our family. The kids adored her, and she them. We began calling her our ".5" child.

Andi graduated and left our family after 2 years. We greatly missed her. But, we kept in touch by letters. Andi is extremely dyslexic, and reading and writing are very difficult for her, but she wrote letters. You just had to make sure you read them phonetically rather than by how words were spelled. We kept in touch as she moved to horse ranches in Texas and Kentucky and England and Wisconsin and Germany.

And then we lost her. One of her return addresses was rather difficult to decipher, and we lost her.

So a couple of weeks ago, as Andy started sending out his graduation announcements, I contacted a friend at Colby. She was able to get a current address for Andi's parents (who had moved from California to Oregon.) We sent the announcement there.

And yesterday, I get a phone call from Andi! We found her! She found us! And, she's wanting to come see us for Andy's graduation. Timing...the timing really worked out for us. Andi is back in the states, and is going back to school. She had to get an official transcript, so contacted the school in Colby. Prior to this spring, the school still had the Oceanside address. So, if Andi hadn't have come back to the states, and contacted the school, we wouldn't have found her. And, since we moved a year and a half ago, the Colby Post Office probably wouldn't have forwarded our mail, so she might not have been able to find us!

We found each other. We found each other, and we're going to see each other again. This time...this time, I'm going to do better at keeping her found. It's not that easy getting a .5 child, so I'd better keep her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mom, I have to take Kat to the Hospital now.

"Mom, I have to take Kat to the Hospital now."

That was Andy's opening sentence when I answered the phone last night as we were coming home from work.

Now, what would go through your mind if you heard that sentence instead of "Hello?"

I instantly started thinking of ways she could have hurt herself. My first thought was that she cut herself with a knife. Andy didn't sound too panicked, so it couldn't be too severe, but still had to be bad enough for him to tell me he's taking her to the hospital...which is 20 miles from home.

That was my thought in the split second before he started his second, and following sentences; "She's emptied the dishwasher, re-loaded it, wiped down the counters, put everything away, swept the floor and she even mopped up the dog prints...without being told."

(I laughed too.)

I have to admit, this is probably the first time she's taken any initiative and has done any cleaning without being told to, without me nagging, or threatening her. It was rather nice.

When we got home, she proudly showed me the clean kitchen. She even threatened me about keeping it clean.

It didn't stay clean, because I had to cook supper, but once supper was finished, Andy and I cleaned it again.

Just when you think you know your kid...they go and do something nice. She just might turn out all right after all!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's Mrs. Allen's fault

Someone just asked why I decided to become a librarian. And I told them that it was Mrs. Allen's fault. It is.

Mrs. Allen was our elementary librarian. She was also a family friend, as she had taught my dad at the Sunnydale school, the country school that Dad and all his siblings attended. In fact, Sunnydale was the last country school in Meade County, and Mrs. Allen was the last teacher. After Sunnydale was closed, Mrs. Allen taught in Englewood, where she taught my Aunt Sandy and many other people in our community. When the school consolidated with Ashland, Mrs. Allen became the grade school librarian, and thus was my librarian.

Mrs Allen was a small woman. She did not stand 5 feet tall. And she was tiny. Tiny bones, tiny features. She looked like a 60-some year old doll to me. She might have been a tiny woman, but she was strong, and stern. You didn't talk back to Mrs. Allen--she was one tough cookie!

I was in second grade, and I already loved to read and help Mrs. Allen. In fact, if you were good, she'd let you help process new books. I remember helping by gluing the pockets in the back of books and putting the check out cards in them. I felt so important doing that work! I liked watching her label books too. At that time, she still utilized that black "stuff" that was painted on the bottom 2 inches of a spine. Then she'd take a white stylus, or pen type of thing, and carefully write the call number on the spine. At times, she'd let me paint the black "stuff" on the spine. You had to be real careful because it could stain, and you had to stop at just the right spot. I can only remember doing that job once, probably because it was messy.

Sure wish I knew what that stuff was called. It wasn't long after that year when everyone switched to typed labels. I don't think you can even buy that black "stuff" anymore.

Anyway, I liked going to the library. And I loved helping Mrs. Allen. One day, I was shelving Easy Readers for her and noticed that all the books were at the front of the bookshelf, leaving all this empty space at the back of the shelf. Well, that didn't make sense to me, so I pushed all the books to the back of the shelf.

Mrs. Allen came by at that time and got very upset with me. She made me stop (I'd pushed back 2 shelves full of books.) I was mortified. I'd done something very wrong, and I was in trouble. And, what's worse, it was Mrs. Allen who was upset with me. She made me re-face the books on the shelf. In other words, she made me put all the books on the shelf as they should be, at the end of the shelf, with all spines lined up neatly at the edge of the shelf. I had to fix the two shelves I had messed up, and I had to do 2 more shelves, just as reinforcement.

But, the nicest thing about it was that while she disciplined me, she also took the time and explained why library books were shelved that way, turning this disciplinary action into a teaching moment.

I think it was her explaining why something was done that way made me curious about why other things were done a certain way. And, from that moment on, I wanted to be a Librarian. And, from that moment on, I've been picky about how books on a shelve should look. It's almost an obsession now, I have to stop and re-face a shelf if I see it's contents aren't lined up perfectly with the end of the shelf.

So, I guess I can blame two things on Mrs. Allen...1. Me becoming a librarian, and my obsessive-compulsive need to have shelves neat and tidy.

This is totally not related to me...but it's a Mrs. Allen story.

Mrs. Allen was the new teacher when Dad was in 4th grade. After school one afternoon, early in the year, as he was leaving, she asked Dad what he had learned that day. "Nothing" was his response. Mrs. Allen looked at him and said, "Well, if you didn't learn anything today, I guess you'd better stay until you do learn something."

And, he had to stay after school.

Dad says he learned his lesson--and whenever Mrs. Allen asked him if he'd learned anything that day, or what he'd learned that day, he had an answer!

Mrs. Allen is gone now, she's been gone for a very long time. But, this tiny woman is remembered. And, that matters.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Miss Kat' at the DAR award ceremony

Miss Kat drew a poster for the local DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) competition. She placed first locally, at State, and took 2nd at the District level, which consists of 9 states. When they gave the awards, they went up by age, from First Grade on up. Thus, the little girls in this photo. They were first, second, and third graders. Miss Kat is a 7th grader, and only competed with other 7th graders.

This look says, "M.o.t.h.e.r. stop with the camera already."
This look says, "Fine. If you won't stop, I'll just make stupid faces to annoy you like you are annoying me!"

And this, this is my beautiful girl. She cleans up as nicely as her big brother does.
The awards ceremony was held at Fort Dodge, the Kansas Soldiers Home. After the military abandoned the fort in the 1890's, it was made into a Soldiers Home. There are small cottages there for Soldiers--usually elderly who can care for themselves. There's also an assisted living area, and a Nursing Home. Veterans can live there, as can the wives or widows, or mothers of veterans. It's a unique community.

Da pictures

Who are these people? Were they really at a Prom? Yes...yes, they were there. At the Promenade. From the left...Miss Kat, Bailey, Andy, Tate and Dual. I have no idea who their parents are...
Every boy deserves a kiss from his Mama at Prom...even if he's totally embarrassed! And, I even embarrassed his father! this is a cute couple. I've seen them both very dirty. Very grungy. Believe me, they clean up nice!

We even made them pose at home. Poor kids! Would you look at the size of those hands on my son? He's got big hands!

This....this is what my bathroom looked like when Bailey was finished getting ready. Yep, it took a lot of work to get her to look like that! (well, she thought so, I think she's beautiful even when she's not all dolled up. Andy too...)

Da Prom

I have some pictures from Prom to post. And, I hope to do that tonight. I've also got a couple of pictures of Miss Kat getting her award. I'll post them too. Tonight. I promise! Maybe. I'll try. I really will.

I think Andy had a great time at Prom this year. His date was Miss Bailey, and she looked beautiful. They both clean up real nice. Miss Bailey started getting ready around 2 in the afternoon. Andy, he drug himself into the shower around 4:30. I told both to be ready by 5:30 because I wanted pictures at home before they left. It was rather fun watching Miss Bailey get ready, and comparing her frenzy to Andy's 5 minute shower. And, he wasn't going to shave. But Bailey told him to shave, so he did. It didn't matter that I told him to shave, and that Kev told him to shave, and Kim told him to shave...the one to convince him to shave....Bailey.

The kids went to Prom at 6. The Junior parents cooked supper and then the kids were ready for the promenade. We all went up to watch that. My Mom came up as well. It was fun seeing all the girl's dresses, and the guy's choice of tuxes. They all cleaned up real nice.

Highlight of the night for me was winning the After-Prom Committee raffle. I won $500! How exciting! I've never won anything fun before. What will I spend it on? Probably Andy's graduation present. I'd really like to get myself a nice SLR Digital Camera, will wait till later, after I get the camper paid for, and the car, and maybe the pickup.

Which reminds me of the "low-light" of the weekend...I dented the fender on the diesel pickup. Yep, I was backing out, watching what was behind me and forgot to watch for the basketball goal pole beside me. Ladies, when you do something like this, and you're afraid to tell your husband, do it when you have company. He won't yell as long or as loud. You will, however, have to put up with snide comments, and bad jokes from both your husband and from your company...

Back to the Prom...

After the promenade, the kids had their dance, then they had "After Prom". And finally they had a "After-After Prom" Breakfast at one of Andy's friend's house. He and Miss Bailey got home at 5 a.m. Tired, but both said they had a great time.

For me, as a was bittersweet. My little boy has only one major mile-stone left in this, his senior year. Boy, it's going fast.

Friday, April 03, 2009

so I'm at this conference

This week, I'm attending the annual Kansas Library Conference. This year, it's a joint conference in Wichita with the Mountain Plains Library Association. It's a pretty big conference, and it's been a good one.

I've got a fantastic hotel room, nice pillows, and bed. A tub that's long enough for me to stretch out in, and good speakers. It's probably the best conference I've been to in a very long time. Librarians are interesting people to go to a conference with. Most of the interesting things don't come out in the sessions, but come out in the evening. Lots of parties. Lots of alcohol consumed. Of course I don't do any of that kind of thing...

On Wednesday night, I went to supper with 5 colleagues and one of my software company representatives. It was fabulous. We ate in the hotel restaurant, which has recently gone to a menu where they only serve locally produced foods. We had a cheese platter of local cheeses from Yoder, an Amish community near here. Farmers cheese, sharp Cheddar, and a smoked horseradish cheese served with a peach chutney. Wonderful. I had a steak which was nice and tender, and we had cornbread. Fabulous fabulous cornbread topped with a chive butter. It just melted in my mouth. We topped our meal off with a chocolate bread pudding which was really good too! And, all was served with wine. A nice red wine and a wonderful white wine.

I preferred the white. In fact, I had about 4 glasses of wine. By 10 p.m., when we all stumbled off to bed...I was feeling that wine. I'm not a wine connoisseur. I'm just a country girl who never had wine until I went to college, and then seldom had any wine of quality. So wine is a mystery to me. But I sure liked that white wine! (I think it was from Australia.)

Last night, we 2 year college librarians went to supper at a Latin restaurant. I had fish tacos and a chocolate Tres Leches cake. That cake was to die for! O my, it was so rich and creamy. No wine, I settled for a Mojito, and just one. Two nights of spectacular food, rich food. Food that I won't get at home. It was fun trying new things. The converstaion was good too.

Most of we 2 year librarians have been around for 10-20 years, so we meet up every year and visit and share our problems, and our success stories. We need that--we need someone to understand what we're going through. We need to bounce things off each other. Because, after all, who can relate to problems in a library better than another librarian?

I'm an anomaly among librarians...I'm a country girl at heart. I garden and can most of my food, I hunt and shoot. I have yet to meet a librarian who is as redneck-y as I am...especially an academic librarian. Most of the folks I had supper with last night live in large urban areas. They drink lots of wine, a wide variety of wine. Most are "urban-ites," and have no interest in rural things. Those who do live in smaller communities struggle with the "lack of culture." Me, I'm more uncomfortable in their world!

For example. I've never flown anywhere. I've never gone to a major conference--a national conference. Do I want to? I don't know. I'd like to, but...not alone. And, big cities make me nervous. I'm a fish out of water, and I know it. I'd like to go, and I'd probably figure things out, and make it fine, but I really would prefer to travel to a major conference in a major metropolitan area with someone who's done it before. is my last day at the conference. I should get home tonight around 5. I know I'm going to get back to my normal life in a few hours. I'll be glad to get there. Tomorrow, Miss Kat is getting an award from the local DAR for a poster she drew. It's Prom for Andy. Tonight, I'll go back to just being Mom and wife...

But for the rest of the day...I'm one of those crazy librarians at the conference.