Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The finished Fireplace

Well, once again Kevin proved me wrong.  He actually finished the fireplace on December 20.  Since we were celebrating Christmas with family on the 23rd, I was relieved.  He modified the design a great deal since our floor plan is unique.  The fireplace sits in a corner and is angled.  That required us to modify the web image that sparked Kev's imagination.

We used pine to tie the fireplace with the stairs. Kev had the perfect piece left to use for the mantle.  It's three inches thick, just like the steps and the banister rail.  Since  it is the outside edge of the tree, it curves and isn't square, but it's awfully pretty.  Kev then built the lower shelves to hold our DVD player and Satellite receiver, moving them from the east wall, as seen below.
With the addition of the upper shelves, he created more space for me to showcase items.  Those shelves are "disappearing" shelves simply because we didn't want to put a side up against that angled wall.  It would have looked...odd.  

I like the firewood storage.  I thought about asking him to make one shelf on this side, but he veto'd that, and I think he was right.  We rocked the fireplace together.  It took about 5 hours.  I struggled with the layout of the rocks because I kept wanting them to fit perfectly.  They don't.  Kev did a lot of trimming to make them fill the space and they've grown on me...or I've let go of my idea of perfection. All in all, I'm happy with the end product.  I'm also eager to put away my Christmas decorations to see how I'm going to arrange "pretties" on the shelves.  

What's the next project?  Who knows!  It's now been a week since Kev has had anything to work on.  He's getting stir-crazy already!  We need to replace the Purple bathroom's tub and the skylight...we need to replace Kev's shower, and we need better cabinets in the kitchen.  But, I'd be happy if we didn't do anything for a few months.  I'm not sure Kevin can sit still that long!
Once again...before and after.  Quite a difference!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The NEW project

Remember when I said, "stay tuned" at the conclusion of the last post?  Well, it's time to change the channel.
My basement is complete.  Kevin won the bet.  Last Sunday, my living room looked like the above picture.  By the end the evening, it looked like this:

Notice the mantel is missing.  The fireplace trim is missing.  The wood that you see we discovered was simply a vinyl veneer adhered to sheet-rock.  What you can't really see is the wire mesh that now covers the sheet-rock.  If you look closely, you can see some stone laying in front of the fireplace.

That pointy piece of wood to the right side?  That will be a shelf.  Kevin found this photo below online:

And this is his goal for our fireplace. It's beautiful, and I like it.  However, I'm hosting Christmas on the 23rd.  I want this project FINISHED by the 23rd. I want my house "normal" by Christmas!

Our project will be amended, because our fireplace sits on a slanted wall in the corner and we'll use pine instead of oak.  But Kev insists that he'll be finished by the 23rd.  He's the only one in our house who thinks he can have it finished by the 23rd, and he's rather indignant that  none of us think he can get it done in 14 days.  

I'm annoyed by the whole project.  Why?  Because before we had the carpet laid, I asked him if he wanted to take down the fireplace mantle so the carpet would be all nice and flush and even.  "Nope" was his response, because he wasn't going to do anything else to the house.
That lasted 4 days.
And now my living room is tore up.  Again...

Friday, December 07, 2012

A very special quilt

Many many years ago, like sometime during the 1970's, my Grandma Woodruff bought a set of quilt blocks and floss.  She stitched four blocks and either tired of the project or got busy with another one.  One day, she showed it to me and asked if I would like to finish embroidering the squares.  I, of course, said yes.

 I manged to embroider 4 more blocks and then I put it away myself.  I think I got bored because I just didn't (and still don't) like embroidering cross stitches.  And, my knots weren't as nice as Grandma's.  She could tie a knot using one hand and that knot would be nice and big, tight and at the very end of the floss.

Then one day during the 1980's, my other grandma, Grandma Berends, needed a project.  So, I brought the remaining four blocks over to her and she finished embroidering them.  At which time, Grandma W. told me that if I'd piece the quilt, she'd hand quilt it for me.  So, Mom and I went shopping for fabric.  I wanted to match the green, but both Mom and Grandma B. thought we should go with pink.  And we did.

By this time, it was 1987.  I took the blocks and the pink fabric home and I pieced the dang thing.  I hated piecing it.  Hating having to stitch perfect straight lines, hated sewing all those pieces together.  I just hated it and vowed that I would never again piece a quilt. (I haven't, either!)

But, I got it done, and Grandma W. quilted it. She drew her own design on the pink borders.  She almost always designed her own quilting pattern, and she quilted a lot of quilts (like 40 some baby quilts for her great-grandchildren.)  I used the quilt for a time on my full-sized bed, but then some of the stitches (the embroidered ones) started pulling out (probably mine since I was the worst at making knots.)  I quit using it and put it away in an acid-free box, wrapped in tissue paper.  I got it out not long ago just to admire the work and to remember both of my Grandmas.

When Grandma W was quilting it, I knew it was special simply because it was something we three worked on together.  Now that they both are gone, it's even more special.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Almost finished

The first thing I noticed as I started to load these photos was that my camera lens is dirty!  So please ignore the little floating orbs.  They aren't ghosts, but are dust on the lens.

I took the week of Thanksgiving off from work and, as usual for me, spent the week working at home.  Kev is almost finished with the basement project.  I think I will lose our bet...but not by much.  His "complete" date was December 4, 2012 and we're close to that, but he has a wee bit of trim left and he'll be done.  

Which means that sometime, I will have to book a Guided Elk hunting trip for him.  Which means I have to save the money for that trip.  But it also means that I get to go along to watch!  It's a win-win situation!

So, one of my chores last week was to paint the basement, touch up areas, getting the main floor and the basement cleaned up.  I finished painting in the basement, and decided the original brown was just not working for me.  So, at 3 in the afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving, Miss Kat and I ran to town and bought a gallon of red paint.  Dragon's blood red.  I painted only this one wall red.

 I was still painting the first coat when Kev got home from work.  His first words?  "Wow!"

But, as it dried, he told me he really liked it, and we all agree that it warms up the basement.

We then went out to the shop and Kev brought in his Great-Grandad Chapman's saws and we hung them on the wall along with our Bear picture.  (Please forgive the blankets and such on the couch and the coffee table...Miss Kat decided to sleep on the couch where she could watch TV.)

Upstairs, we got our new carpet laid on Black Friday!  It photographs nicely, but it does have a dark nap to it that didn't show up well in the photos.

Kevin and I are famous for picking out carpet, and then discovering that the carpet we picked out was much lighter than we wanted.  (That's what happens when you pick out carpet looking at a 3 x 3 inch sample.)  When we picked out carpet this time, we purposely picked out something dark enough to hide dirt, cow poop and whatever else might get tracked in.  I think we succeeded.  It's a Stain-master carpet and we splurged on the Stain-master pad to boot.  It's nice and soft to walk and lay on.  It also makes the rest of the carpet in the house look awful, but we couldn't afford to re-carpet the entire house at this time...maybe next year...
 I had some paint touch up to do upstairs, but as I was painting, I discovered the paint, which should be the exact same color as what was already on the walls, was a wee bit darker, so I had to paint the entire room again.  (If I ever get my hands on the guy who mixed my paint in the first place, I think I might strangle him.)
  As we've traveled this saga, you might remember that I had brown furniture in my living room and this blue stuff was in the basement.  The brown couches did not go with the new carpet, so Kev hauled them downstairs and brought up the blue, which does look nicer.  He's all happy because he thought the brown couches were too soft.  He even brought up the recliner...which fits, but I don't think it balances the room, but I will let him keep it upstairs because it makes him happy.
Behind Miss Kat is where there used to be a door.  I need to find a new place to hang the sampler that's floating way above her head.  I'm thinking about moving it above the window and finding a new picture to hang where she's standing.  (See the recliner? Yeah...not balanced. Maybe a new, narrower end table would  help.)

So, our stair saga is almost complete. Kevin told me he wasn't doing another thing to this house for at least a year.  And then he looked at the fireplace, and said, "Except maybe for that fireplace."

Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 08, 2012

This morning

I found this on my fridge this morning, and it made me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Basement ceiling pictures

This is a pretty good shot of the beams that Kevin has installed along the ceiling in the basement.  

 Here, he and Andy are nailing in one of the panels between the beams.
 One section finished!
 Close-up of the pattern in the paneling.
And this is why I haven't been able to park in my garage for almost a year now...

Friday, November 02, 2012

Stair project update

Since I last posted pictures, not much has changed in the basement.  Kev has a month to finish, but it's iffy if he can simply because of our schedules.

We've been crazy busy since school started.  He's worked several weekends, we've had endless Volleyball tournaments to go to and we've been helping a friend who unexpectedly found herself divorcing.  She's got to move in the next two weeks, and we'll help, which takes even more time from our project.  (And we wouldn't think of NOT helping her, regardless of our own projects.)  Added to this are family commitments which we know we need to do, but it all takes time away from the Stair Saga.

Things NOT finished yet are:

  • the basement ceiling
  • painting
  • upstairs carpet
  • siding
We're working on them all.  We both hated the suspended ceiling that was in the basement, but weren't sure what we could replace it with, because we also dislike sheet rocked ceilings.  So, what we came up with was a wood ceiling.  Kev has built a "tray" around the outside of the room out of pine boards.  He's also built pine "rafters" or beams across in three places.  Now we are putting up wood panels between the beams to fill it in.  We also replaced the big florescent lights with spotlights (Canned lights?  whatever.)  Kev had to do some rewiring and some patching of sheet rocked walls and he's finally textured the wall where the stairs were and the wall upstairs where we took out an outside door.

I'm the painter, so as soon as I have a chance, I will paint the living room upstairs and the family room downstairs.  I'm thinking about using a different color downstairs, but will keep upstairs the same color.  

Carpet needs to be chosen and laid upstairs.  For a while, we thought about doing two types of flooring upstairs, making the living room and dining room individual instead of the same thing throughout.  But, someday I want to remodel the kitchen and do new flooring in there, so for continuity, and so I don't have three types of flooring upstairs, we're keeping the same carpet in the living room and dining rooms.  I finally got a hold of a carpet company who bring samples to the home and will figure the cost right there in our home.  I've heard good things about this company (based in Woodward, OK), so I'm eager to hear and see what they have.  We meet with then next Tuesday.

Siding...oh my has siding been a drama.  Since our house is a modular, the company which built the house had their own siding installed.  It's NOT a standard size.  It's lap, cedar siding, but it's made of 9 inch boards, not the standard 10, or even 8.  So I finally told Kevin to wait till summer when we can get James Hardy boards and do the entire house rather than siding the front now and the rest of the house later.  So, he's off the hook on siding.

I hope that we'll have it all finished before Christmas.  The terms of the bet will be discussed since Kev says it's not all his fault that it probably won't be done by the 4th of December.  (Besides, I'm in charge of the paint and the carpet...if I don't get it done, it will be MY fault!)

I'll try to get pictures posted of the remaining aspects of the project!

Now that the end is in sight, I wonder what his next project will be...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reading, reading, reading

I've been doing a lot of reading lately.  Maybe because we've been so busy that I haven't had much time to do anything else!  It helps that I can now read on my Nook, or on my iPad.

Last fall, the community college was thinking about making iPads a requirement for all students.  But the cost was being considered, so at the library, I ordered both a Kindle Fire and a Nook Tablet to see if they could be a good substitute for the larger iPad.  I played with both over the next few months and quickly found on nice benefit:

I could take one with me to the gym and actually read while I was on the treadmill or elliptical machine!  Do you have any idea how much quicker time goes when you aren't just watching your speed or miles walked, or even the news?  I'm able to read, keep my speed up (and sometimes go even faster if the book is exciting) and the time just flies!  Makes working out  at 5 a.m. almost enjoyable.

Then in April, the decision was made to go with iPads, and the school bought me one.  Technically, it belongs tot he school, but we were instructed to treat them as if they were personal items and use them for whatever we wanted.  So I downloaded the Nook and Kindle apps and switched to taking my iPad to the gym.  The larger page size means that I don't have to flip pages quite as often, but the size is a little cumbersome.

I still use my Nook some, but find that I'm  using the iPad more and more all the time.

Kevin also likes me reading ebooks because I can read without the light on when we are in bed.  He'll go to sleep, and I'll read.  With the iPad, the light doesn't bother him.  Besides the 2 apps, I also can read books from the State Library through their ebook collection, which is nice...but it's so popular that all the copies are taken and I usually have to wait for the book I want to read.  (The State Librarian in charge told me that she had to buy 58 copies of 50 Shades of Grey just to keep up with the demand.)

I have bought some books, and I've borrowed several from the library site, and I've read many many free titles that Amazon and the Nook have.  On top of that, I've even read several in print!  In fact, sometimes they will provide an author's first book free and to finish the story, you have to either buy the ebook, or get the rest of a series in print!

My wish list is long, long, long, long and we're coming upon the season of new titles!  I'm drowning under all the new titles I want to read!  What a rough life!

In January, expect to see another long list of titles!


My latest finish:

This one will go in my office, with other "reading" themed items.  I took it in yesterday to get it framed and found the perfect whimsical purple frame for it.  Can't wait to see the finished project!

And yes, I've started something new, but it's a gift, so no hints until it's finished!

Monday, September 17, 2012


As a parent, one of my biggest fears was losing one of my kids. I imagine it's a fear that all we parents have, most of the time, we just hold that fear inside and hope and pray that our kids will be ok.  I know several parents who have lost a child and in being with them, I know there is no other pain to equal the loss of a child.

I've "almost" lost Andy 3 times now.  Once, at this birth when he coded, once when he had pneumonia and his temp was 105, and this last time, a month ago.

What do you do when your child calls you on the phone and the first words out of his mouth are, "Mom, I totaled my car." You say, "What?"  That's what you do.  Because you're caught off guard and it's not what you expected to hear and then you wonder what the heck is going on.  I finally asked Andy just what in the world he was talking about which, I guess calmed him down enough for him to tell me, "My car is totaled.  I was in a wreck, I hit a car and another car hit me." what do you say?  I asked if he was all right, all the while hoping that the car he hit was minor and that he didn't hurt anyone.  He said he was fine, that he was still in the car, that he had a cut above his eye and that he thought maybe his wrist was broken.  He also said he'd called 911.

As he kept talking to me, details came slowly.  He was driving to his girlfriends and it was windy.  He'd driven through a couple of dust clouds, but they were small.  He then saw a bigger one ahead, hit his brakes to slow down and went in.  Next thing he knew, he was stopped.  He then knew that he was going to get hit because he knew there was someone coming down the road behind him.  He remembered the bump of that vehicle hitting him.

I said, hang on, your Dad and I will be there as soon as we can get there.   (I imagined the ambulance would be taking him to the closest hospital, which was probably 10 miles away.)  Andy then said, "NO.  I don't want you on the road.  It's bad."

Every parent out there knows what was going through MY mind, I remember thinking, "the heck with you kid, I'm your mother and nothing is going to keep me away when my baby's hurt."

We hung up, and I called Kev, who said, "Get over here, we're going."  He still had a patient, but called someone to cover and he was ready to go when I arrived.  At which point, Andy called and said they were transporting him to Dodge, so we pulled back into the hospital parking lot and went inside ER.

One nice perk of having a spouse work at a hospital is that he knew who to talk to, and where to go to wait.

But it was a LONG wait.  The ER staff said it was a 6 vehicle accident, but they were pretty calm, so I guessed that no one was hurt badly.  And we waited.  And waited. And waited.  Finally, the ambulance people showed up. And boy were they dirty.

It must have been a bad dust storm, because these guys were all the same shade of light brown.They had dirt everywhere. It was that fine, silky, filmy dust that sticks to everything and gets into everything.  I've never seen people completely covered in dust like they were.

And then Andy came walking in.  Dirty, but alive, well, with a sprain and a cut and some bruises.

One of the firefighters showed Andy and us a photo of his car...sitting on it's nose.  Which we hadn't know about until then.  And more details came out, making me say yet another prayer of thanks.  We even managed to get annoyed at our baby boy, because he was more interested in what the Firefighters/EMT's where doing than he was in being treated.  (He's studying to be a firefighter/Rescue worker.)  I am grateful he was there to annoy us.

Andy told us what happened, or what he remembered.  With each detail, we felt...anxiety, and fear, and gratitude.  And then we saw pictures.  And then I saw the car.  And, I cried.  Because at that moment, I realized just how close my baby came to losing his life, and how very lucky he and everyone involved in that accident were.  No one was killed.  Seven vehicles were totaled, and no one was killed, or seriously hurt.  It was a miracle that the cars lined up like they did.  Andy's car did end up on it's nose, and it was resting against a semi.  Someone had to break him out of the car. If the semi hadn't been there, like it was, then my baby wouldn't be here.  Or he would have been seriously hurt.  I'm thankful that Kev and I harped about wearing seat belts, because if Andy hadn't had his on, he wouldn't be here.  That seat belt kept him in the car and alive.  I'm thankful for the air bag.  It might have cut him, but it kept him alive.

I'm thankful that I still have my baby.

Here's a few of the pictures...

 This is the first picture we saw.  The dust is still thick in the air.   Andy's car is in the center.  That tire up in the air is his.  What is up in the air is the rear of his car.

This one, and the bottom one were taken at the car lot.  Seeing the car was much worse than seeing the pictures of the car.
I wasn't sure about posting about the accident.  But I am very thankful and grateful that someone up there decided to let us keep our child.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Potato Soup

Sometimes, I wonder about myself...

Last night, while driving home, I asked Kev how Potato Soup sounded for supper.  We had a cold front come through, and the temperature was 59 when we pulled into town.  It just felt like a nice, crisp, fall day, perfect for warm Tater soup.  So, we stopped at the Market because I needed some cream.  Kev likes a rich Potato Soup, and I didn't have any cream.

We got home, and I started peeling potatoes (because I didn't have any canned potatoes) and started cooking the soup.  I decided to cook the potatoes in chicken broth, for some extra flavor.  So, I went to the pantry to get a jar of chicken broth I'd canned last winter.  Unfortunately, I saw only a quart jar of broth.  I didn't want to use that much, so I kept looking for a pint jar.  Not finding one, I looked in the other pantry for a store bought can of broth.  No luck.  So, I grabbed the quart jar and dumped it in with the potatoes and carrots and started them boiling.

As they cooked, I'd test the potatoes to see if they were cooked by pulling one out and taking a bite off it.  "Hum, I thought, this potato tastes a little sweet."  But, I let them continue cooking as I prepared the bacon bits and got the cheese sandwiches ready to grill.  When I tasted them again, they were still a little sweet tasting, and I decided it was the carrot, that, you know, maybe our home-grown carrots were just sweet enough to make everything taste sweet to me.  I then dumped in the cream and went to do some cleaning up while the soup finished up.

That's when I grabbed the jar to put it in the sink.  I picked it up, sniffed it, and thought, "Now, that doesn't smell like chicken broth."  I tasted the sediment in the bottom of the jar and suddenly remembered the jar of Rhubarb Juice I'd made in May.   That lonely quart jar of juice...

Crap!  That's what I used.   Not Chicken Broth, but Rhubarb Juice!  I'd cooked my soup in Juice!

So, I carried my beautiful looking soup over to the sink, got out a strainer, and dumped it all in the strainer.  I gave the potatoes a quick rinse, and put them back in the rinsed pot and back on the stove.  I added milk (no more cream) and added some butter and the bacon bits.  Then I had Kevin come eat.

It was edible.  Still sweet, but edible.  Sort of.

Kev did a better job of eating his soup than I did. It just simply didn't taste right!

 I felt so stupid!  I was mad at myself for wasting a cup of cream and for wasting my juice and for not checking anyway the contents of my jar before pouring it into the pot.  How long have I been cooking?  Apparently, not long enough.

So, this weekend, I hope to can more broth, or at least buy some so next time, I don't act like a bonehead in the kitchen and create a disaster.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I am a very sentimental person.  I treasure and cherish items given to me be loved ones--especially home made items.  Like this treasure here.
 I know it doesn't look like much.  It is, after all, a simple pot holder.  It's rather worn and torn and obviously heavily used.  I have two of these pot holders.  They were made by a lady who's been dead many years now.  She lived to be 90 something and was a respected member of our community and was a friend of my Grandmother, Mrs. Osborn.

Mrs. Osborn was a very small lady.  I remember going to her house (which was a former hardware store) with Grandma to deliver eggs.  She and Mr. Osborn were always nice to see us, always offered me a slice of homemade bread or piece of gum.  Grandma didn't just deliver the eggs and leave; no, we would sit and visit for what seemed an eternity to me.  I remember the smell of their home and the rag rug on the living room floor.  It was huge.  Mrs. Osborn also attended our church.  She always sat in the second pew, close to the door.  I even remember once she passed out during the service.  She was all right, but I remember the scare she gave everyone in Church that day.  I also remember her telling me that when she was a child, she was scared of tornadoes and thunderstorms because her father got her family up one dark night and sent them all to the cellar during a storm.  She shared that it was a very long time before she would go to bed without her shoes on.  She was a very nice lady, and her potholders are a reminder of her.

"Mrs. Osborn's Potholders" are not just a treasure to me, but to the women of my family and to the women in the small community of Englewood.  In fact, that's what they are known as, "Mrs. Osborn's Potholders." Everyone knows what potholders you are talking about when you label them such.

 See, I actually have a new "Mrs. Osborn's potholder" awaiting use.  When Grandma B. died, and Mom, Sandy and I were going through the house, we found some "Mrs Osborn's potholders" that Grandma had stashed away.  While we didn't fight over the potholders, we did quickly split them up among the three of us.  I know that eventually, I'll have to break down and use these, but I can't make myself do so yet.
The old potholders with the new.  All treasures to me.

These potholders are also a treasure to me.  My bloggy friend, Karin, (Lovin' life at the end of the Dirt Road) sent these to me.  See, the pumpkin fabric you see in the background is the same fabric as my curtains.  (It has chickens on it, which you can't see in this photo.) Karin's a quilter but also makes these beautiful potholders.  They are so pretty and her stitching is very nicely done too.  Karin threatened me about using them--she wants me to use them, to get them dirty and to abuse them.  It's going to be hard, but I will do as she wishes.  But every time I use them, I'll think of Karin and her generous spirit.  Just as I still think of Mrs. Osborn every time I use those old worn out , handmade potholders.

Monday, July 23, 2012


June 15.  That's the last time I blogged.  I'm bad.  Very bad.

Let's's been 100+ since June 15.  No rain to speak of since June 15.  We've finished Miss Kat's summer Volleyball season.  She still has weight lifting and practice 2 days a week, which is good for her.  The garden is doing much better this summer than last.  We're eating lots of Zucchini and Summer squash.  I've canned and froze carrots, made pickles, and relish and even canned and pickled beets.

The last week, I've been busy being a substitute Mommy.  We found 4 orphaned kittens, but we lost 2.  They lasted a week, but both black kittens died on the same day, last Tuesday.  I'm not sure if we just didn't feed them enough, or if Fletch "mothered" them too roughly, or if they just weren't meant to make it.  We all were sad, but we're determined to keep the other 2 alive, and so far, so good.

I think the babies were 3 weeks old when we found them.  It's been two weeks and yesterday, I successfully got them both to drink and eat from a saucer and to use a litter box.  Prior to this, Fletch has been acting as the Mommy, and taking care of the hindquarters much like a mother cat would.  You do know that mother cat's lick babies bottoms to stimulate urination and defecation, right?  Well, Fletch has performed that duty for us since the day we brought the babies into the house.  Those kittens would eat from their bottle, and then waddle over to Fletch for their "bath".  They'd lay down or turn their hindquarters towards him, and he'd lick away.  He's not always gentle, and sometimes, he'd flip one end for end with is extra large tongue, but he mothered them!  I, for one, was happy to have him provide this service.  But, they are old enough now to be box trained, and it went fairly easily.  One pooped in my lap (on a towel fortunately) and one pooped on Andy.  Come to think of it, it was the same kitten...

Anyway, that was a signal to me that they are now old enough to go by themselves.  So far, I'm using a cardboard box with sand in it.  These guys will NOT become house cats, so I'm hoping sand will make for an easier transition to the outdoors.

I decided it was time to move towards weaning on Saturday when both kittens decided to chew on the bottle nipple instead of suck, and both attacked the bottle.  Moving to the saucer has so far, proven to work fairly well.  They still tend to suck up the milk rather than lap it, but I mixed some ground chicken meat up into it and they devour that chicken.

 We haven't really named them...maybe because we don't want to get too attached, but one is being called PITA (short for Pain in the A...) because he has to be held. Not on a lap, but on a shoulder.  He will climb up a body and not worry about any skin that is bare.  He (or she) has also been known to sink those tiny claws into lips and ear lobes, innocently purring all the while.

The other baby doesn't really have a name other than "Short Stack" or "Baby."  He's not as agressive of a climber, but does like to sleep nestled beside anyone sitting on the couch.  Either with us, or behind the couch.  This baby is a pale yellow tabby, so pale that he almost looks white.  A dirty, yellowish white.  PITA is solid gray, my favorite color for a cat.

We don't have any idea what happened to their Mamma.  We suspect coyotes.  We've lost several of our cats in the last two weeks (at least six), making us wonder if the drought has been hard on field mice and rabbits, causing the coyotes to resort to catching our cats.  I hope this trend ends soon, we depend on our outside cats to keep mice, snakes and other critters away.

Regardless, we're doing our best to keep the cats remaining at our place, including the two little hooligans living in my house.

Friday, June 15, 2012

backing up trailers

My Dad always believed that a "woman's place was in the home."  Don't worry about the logic of that statement, since his wife did a "man's" job at the elevator.  His belief applied to me since I was his daughter and he made the rules.

Because of this, I didn't go work cattle or help with any of the outdoor chores.  Dad didn't even want me to see him pull calves or repair prolapsed uterus's or castrate cattle.  It just wasn't "seemly" for me to see such things.  It caused several arguments between he and I during my teen years.  I hated his old fashioned views and believed that I could do anything I wanted to do.  Granted, I didn't really want to work as hard as Dad and my brother Steve did.  I disliked someone telling me I couldn't do something.

I still tend to be that way.  If you want me to do something, just tell me I can't do it.  Cause, I can guarantee that I will do it, just to prove you wrong!  Because of these "old-fashioned" beliefs, I never learned how to back up a trailer.  I never needed to.  Dad or Steve pulled the trailer.  I was just a passenger.  I never really even wondered how one backed up a trailer.  I assumed it was no different than backing up a car, except you had something behind you that you had to watch out for.

Then I started dating Kevin.  Who had a boat.  That we took to the lake.  Where Kev asked me to back the trailer into the lake so we could load the boat.  He assumed that being a country girl, I knew how to back a trailer.  I certainly didn't tell him anything differently.  Heck, how hard could it be?

So, I got out of the boat, went and got the Bronco, and attempted to back the trailer.  My first problem was there were lots of guys standing around near the boat ramp watching me.  My second problem was that stupid trailer just wasn't going where I thought it should go!  I had no idea how to get it down that ramp.  I'd try to back it up--straight back--and it would move from one side to the other.  I'd pull forward, get it straight, and try again, and it would move to the other side.  I couldn't figure out which way to turn that wheel.  I'd turn it to the left, thinking the trailer would go to the left, but it would go to the right.  So I'd turn the wheel the other way, but it still wouldn't go where I wanted it to go--straight down that ramp!  All those guys were watching me and I knew they were laughing at me because I couldn't back up that darn trailer.  I finally got mad, and embarrassed and turned the bronco off, got out, marched down to the edge of the boat dock and told my boyfriend that he'd just have to do it himself.

He laughed at me, then tried to placate me by calling me "darlin'" and  went up and backed up that trailer, slick as you please.  He made it look so easy.  Which didn't help my mood any.  I informed him that I would never back a trailer, and to never ask me to do so again.

He didn't, for many years; until the kids joined 4-H and had livestock.

Because Kev's job required him to drive 150 miles a day, getting the livestock to the fair, and to the weigh-ins, became my responsibility.  Kev always backed the trailer up to the gate for me, and I'd get the critters loaded up and would pull the trailer to town.  If I had to back it up anywhere, I would con my friend, Kim, into backing the trailer for me.  She knew how to back the trailer, and didn't make fun of me for not knowing how to do it.  This worked well until one day Kev said that it was time I learned how to back the trailer.

Ugg.  I hate having him teach me something because he'd get frustrated with me, I'd get frustrated with him, and we'd both wind up mad.  But he made me do it.  I got so I could back up the trailer if I had lots and lots of room because I'd have to pull forward and back up several times before I manged to get it where I needed the trailer to be.  Kev would be supportive, but would also laugh at me because I always got flustered and usually mad.

These past 2 weeks, Miss Kat and I have been going to the Hill and have been loading the barn tin on the trailer to haul to the salvage yard.  Kev told me that I'd have to be careful because I might have to back the trailer.  I assured him that I'd manage to do it without backing that trailer.

I was wrong.  The first day, I needed to back that darn trailer.  Since it was just Miss Kat and I, there was no one else to do it.  It took me a very long time, and several passes, but I finally got that darned trailer backed up and turned where we needed it.  We went down two days ago for another load and I backed it where we needed it.  This time, I didn't have to pull forward nearly as often.  And today, we went again.  Today, I only  had to pull forward once, and that was at the salvage yard.  Yes, I not only backed up the trailer, I did it in front of men who are not related to me.  And they didn't laugh and I didn't get flustered, and I got it in one shot!

I call that success.

I still haven't backed the trailer up in front of Kev, and I imagine when I do, I'll be nervous and will mess up simply because of his presence.  Now that I can back the trailer, I can't imagine there's not anything I can't do!  I am woman, hear me me back up the trailer!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Ridin' Miss P

It rained here Saturday night.  Not a lot, but we don't turn away any drops of rain.  I do know what caused it to rain...

I rode a horse

It's been 10 - 12 years since I've ridden.  Both the horse and I survived the momentous occasion.

Kev got up Saturday morning and asked me if I wanted to go to the ranch with him to pick up rock.  Since I think the ranch is just about one of the prettiest places on earth, I jumped at the chance.  He loaded up the trailer while I got dressed and we hit the road; leaving my sunglasses and my camera at home.

When we got to the ranch, Dad was on horseback, cutting out a sick yearling from the herd.  I could watch him ride and work cattle all day.  He might be pushing 70, but Dad still sits tall in the saddle. He wasn't very happy to have another sick steer, because he's lost several from this shipment.  He likes to keep his death rate less than 3%, and this shipment of cattle is ruining his percentage.  We helped him doctor 2 steers and I fed the other sick ones he had doctored yesterday while Dad and Kev drug out and disposed of a steer who died in the night.

After we helped with the sickies, Dad asked me if I wanted to ride his mare, Puta to the stables.

Did I hear him right?  Did  he just ask me to ride the horse to the stable, and did he really call her Puta?

Puta is a not-very-nice word in Spanish.  I was flabbergasted that my father said that word, and that he named his horse that word.  He informed me that yes, it was her name, and no, he did not name her.   (I decided to call her Miss P.)

I jumped at the chance to ride to the stables.  Fortunately, I was wearing my boots, so I was good to go.

Normally, Dad's work horses are 16 hands tall.  Apparently, over the last few years, he's decided he likes to be closer to the ground, and Miss P is not 16 hands tall which meant I could actually get my foot up in the stirrup without any trouble.  Dad's legs are still a little longer than mine, so I couldn't get my feet completely in the stirrups which mean Miss P would have to stay at a walk.  Dad assured me that she's a good gentle calm horse, so I didn't have to worry about her deciding to run off with me.

I headed towards the stables leaving the men to do whatever they were doing.  But, I forgot exactly how to get there.  Did I have to go clear back to the house? Or could I cut across the pasture and go in the back way?  I looked around and decided to take one trail that looked like it would circle back to the stables and we headed out.

Miss P wasn't really eager to go where I pointed her, but she acquiesced and we headed the junk pile.  Ugg.  I should have listened to the horse.  I apologized to her, and let her have her head and we headed in the right direction.  About this time, Dad and Kevin came back up the road looking for me.  They'd already been at the stables, and not seeing me there on on the road, got worried and headed back hoping I wasn't laying dead somewhere in the grass.  It was nice knowing they had such faith in my riding abilities...

They then made me pose for a photo, which Dad took using his phone.  (And which I hope never gets transferred to any other device or printed.)  The way they acted, you'd think I hadn't been on a horse in 10 years or so... I rode down to the stables, and we turned Miss P out with the other horses.

My day of riding was over.  But, I'm thinkin' that I just might not wait another 10 years to ride!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long lines

Big E wasn't a very big town, but we had two elevators, the CoOp, and the Bunge CoOp.  Mom  worked at the Bunge Elevator. Our house, which we bought right after my 8th grade year, was 2 blocks south of the CoOp.

During those days, most wheat was delivered to the elevators in farm trucks, not the big semi's that most farmers use today.  Farms were still family farms and they were pretty small.  Most of the Wheat trucks had been bought in the 50's and 60's and held 300-400 bushels.   Wheat trucks were usually driven to town by the wives, daughters, and younger sons of the locals.  Small trucks meant frequent trips to town which  meant long lines at the elevator, sometimes stretching from the CoOp past our house and out to the edge of town. There could be 20 - 30 trucks in line at any given time.  Many of the drivers knew to take a book along to pass the time.  Drivers either read, or visited with one another by yelling from truck to truck, or if the elevator was slow dumping trucks, they'd get out and congregate in small groups which would break up and re-form as the drivers had to move their trucks one to tow places forward in line.

I have to admit, sometimes the line of trucks in front of our house were annoying.  They'd be there from 10 in the morning until midnight or later.  The exhaust could be smelled in the house.  You could always hear the rumble of truck engines and the grinding of gears.  I would usually check a couple of times a day to see how long the line was, or how fast it was moving and sometimes, I'd check out the custom cutters.

There were a couple of times when I made treats for some of the drivers I knew.  I was in 4-H and I was always trying out new recipes.  I know that at least once I made cake donuts and gave some to some of the drivers sitting outside.  A couple of times, I had girls ask to use the bathroom and a few times, I was asked to "Call Mom and have her tell Dad that the line is really long, so I won't be back for a while."

Before I started working at the elevator, I envied the girls driving the wheat trucks.  They had a "job", and got to drive a truck to town, read, and talk to cute custom cutters.  I never dwelt on the fact that those trucks weren't air-conditioned, that they were slow, rough-riding, or that the girls were hot, sweaty and bored while waiting in line to dump their loads.  I also didn't realize how much pressure they were under to hurry to town, get dumped and get right back to the field to be reloaded and start the process all over again.

And yet, knowing that it wasn't that glamorous, I still miss those days of the long lines at the elevator.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Is Carol busy?"

Harvest is starting up around home.  It's 2 to 3 weeks early, but when the wheat is ready, it's ready.

I always get a little nostalgic when harvest rolls around.  While Daddy didn't have wheat (he's a COWBOY, not a FARMER), harvest touched our lives simply because everyone was touched by harvest.  Mom started working at the elevator during harvest in 1975 or 1976.  She just worked during harvest those first couple of years.  I don't remember what I did during those first couple of years.  I might have gone to stay with Grandma, or I might have stayed at home.  I might have cooked for Dad and Steve, but I don't remember doing so. I don't remember cooking for them until we moved to town.

We moved our trailer house into town in 1977, and I know I had to cook and do chores that summer.  In fact, Mom would leave me a written list of chores that were to be done by lunch time.  An addendum she always added to the bottom of the list was this phrase:  No swimming until chores are done.  MY DONE, not yours.  And, if she came home at noon, she'd check and quite frequently, I'd have to re-do my chores before I could walk to the pool.

It was about that same time that I had to take on the job of cooking the noon meal for Dad and Steve.  There weren't any Cafe's in Big E.  Dad refused to eat sandwiches, so I had to cook.  I was 13, old enough to cook one meal a day.

I'd decide what I wanted to fix, and then I'd call Mom at the elevator to find out how to cook it.  I knew she wouldn't be able to talk to me if they were busy, so when I called, I'd ask, "Is Carol busy?  Can I talk to her?"  If she wasn't busy, she'd tell me over the phone, how to cook meatloaf, or swiss steak, or how to fry potatoes, or how to make gravy  and I'd cook it for Dad, Mom and Steve.  Sometimes, we'd run a plate up to Mom, sometimes, she'd come home.

  I remember once when I called for instruction.  Bob, the manager answered.  I hated it when Bob answered because he always sounded mean.  "Is Carol busy?" I asked.  "YES," he yelled into the phone and slammed it back into the receiver.  Scared me half to death!  A little while later, Mom called me and said that it had been a rough morning and suggested I not call back that day. Believe you me, I didn't call back that day!  Bob later apologized to me, which didn't mean much to 13 year old me, cause he'd proved how mean he was.  Once I got to know him and could understand the pressures of harvest, I understood his reaction.  ( I can now look back and realize how annoying it must have been for everyone there to have me calling every single day, multiple times!)

That summer was the first summer Mom continued working once harvest was finished.   I still was a little leery of calling when I thought Bob was in the office, but I did call, I had to!  Dread filled my heart every time he answered.  I was so scared of him.  I learned to not call as often and to only call when I really needed Mom.  I would call her for cooking instructions, and permission to go to the pool, but I'd call Grandma for other stuff.  Grandma was't as good of a cook as Mom was, so I tried to not call her with cooking questions very often!  

I can't help but remember that time every single summer.  I still hate calling Mom when she's at the elevator--during harvest.  And, she's still working harvests.  She's retired, but she still is working harvest.   I still won't call here when I think she'll be busy.  I might get yelled at and hung up on!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Track season

Looking at those pigeon toes and knock knees, you'd never guess she can run.
But she can!  In her defense, Miss Kat is stretching or that top photo.  And in the second one, she's just coming out of her blocks.

At the start of the season, Miss Kat was running the 100 M dash, the 200 M dash and started the 4 x 100 relay.  As the season went on, she dropped the short dashes and picked up the 400 M dash instead.  The relay team changed and she was the only original runner at the end of the season, but had moved to the second leg which is a better leg for her.

That relay team left today for the State Track Meet in Wichita.

The girls run preliminaries tomorrow.  Kev and I can't be there, because there's this silly thing called work.  We'd much rather be in Wichita watching our baby run her little heart out.  Hopefully, we'll watch her run in the finals on Saturday.

The parents of the tracksters who went to State today made little "buckets" of treats.  I packed a cooler for Missy and packed her a box of Whales crackers (similar to Goldfish crackers.)  On the Whales, I put a note that said, "Have a WHALE of a good time!"  On her Ritz cracker packs with crackers and cheese, I put a note that said, "We sure think you are RITZ-Y!"  The Recees's cups said, "Hope you run your Reeces fast!  (Pretty lame, but it's supposed to be a play on the word...race. I had to explain that one to Miss Kat.)  The only note I forgot to attach was one on her Gatorade bottle...It said, "Gator-done!"

She didn't get to see what I'd packed as I took it by another Mom's house early this morning.  It was meant to be a surprise.  She texted me that she liked it all, and thanked me, but thought I was a little corny.

We've been very proud of her track accomplishments this year.  I've said in the past, she's a beautiful runner and to witness her achievements has been gratifying and very satisfying.  Nothing makes you prouder than seeing your kids succeed.

Gator-done Kat!

Friday, May 18, 2012


I went to a funeral yesterday in Colby.  It meant that I had to leave by 7:15 in order to get there on time.  I did, but I was almost late.  I'm one of those people who likes to be a little early, and NEVER late.  My arrival was later than I wanted it to be yesterday.  In fact, I was the last person seated before the family entered the church. 

As I was rushing to get into the church, I saw the family gathered outside, waiting for their entrance.  The Pallbearers were just starting to remove the casket of their grandfather from the hearse.  Standing off to the side, near the larger group of family, stood the new widow.  She looked so somber and deep in thought as she watched her grandson's start their work.  I can only imagine where her mind was at that moment.  In my mind, her standing there alone represented how she felt.  Her husband of 55 years was gone leaving her surrounded by a large family and yet still very much alone.  It was a poignant moment and I so wanted to stop and hug her before rushing into the church.  But, I didn't, because I also saw that  she needed that brief moment to herself.

The gentleman who died was the father of one of my friends, Sharon.  Denny, her father, was quite a character.   I met him shortly after meeting Sharon, as all the men in the family were avid bowlers.  In fact, that's where Sharon introduced me to her parents, the Bowling Alley.  Fritz, Sharon's mom, always tagged along and watched the men bowl while visiting with various other family and friends.  They were some of the most welcoming people I had met.  I've admired them for raising 9 good children and for adopting many of the people their kids drug home.  I was fortunate to be one of those drug in.

Denny's funeral was the first time I'd seen the Knights of Columbus present, and it was the first time I've witnessed military honors.  This one was special, because the honor guard was made entirely of family members.  They were a credit to their father, grandfather and uncle.

But what threw me was when Sharon introduced me to one of her nephews, (or aunt, or cousin) as her "best friend."  Now, I admit that we're close and are very much like sisters, but I'm not used to hearing someone refer to me as a "Best friend."  I felt honored and humbled, because I don't think of myself very good friend.  Maybe it was just the label that struck me, but it did throw me.

My brother once told me that I was blessed with the best of friends.  And I am.  WE are--Kev and I.  I know that I'm blessed by my friends, to to consider that maybe they feel blessed to have me as a friend is...almost inconceivable!  I was just doing what needed to be done.  I knew she'd need me.  Yes, she was surrounded by family and friends, but I knew that I needed to be there for her, so I was.  It was nothing special, and isn't it what any friend would do? 

I went to this funeral to honor a special man and his special daughter and yet upon leaving I felt like I had been honored.  Honored to be a part of the celebration of this man's life and honored to be called a "best friend."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kev's rustic coffee table

One of the first projects we did in this house was to install the pellet stove.  If you will remember, Kev found a big slab of black walnut wood and made this mantle.  He left the bark on it, and left it rustic looking.  At that time, Kev told me he was going to make a coffee table from the remaining slab, but he wasn't sure how he wanted it to look.

Then, this spring, 4 years later, he picked up some more pieces of the black walnut wood when he picked up the lumber for our stairs.  He told me he finally knew how he wanted to make his coffee table.  This is the result:

 He finally made his coffee table.  Two levels, one small piece resting perpendicular to the much larger table top.

I realize maybe the "legs" might not seem too impressive, but, see how clever it is designed?  The big stump was where the tree had branched.  Kev put the short piece of wood on one branch and the bulk of the table top rests on the other branch. He sanded the stumps making them as smooth as the table top.

It is beautiful. And, I have to admit, very unique.  I thought the wood grain was pretty before we sealed it, but once we poured the Tung oil on, the grain actually "popped".  It's a beautiful addition to our basement.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


 We were treated to a gorgeous sunrise last Sunday morning.  Kev and I were at the farm, hoping to get a Turkey on this first weekend of the season.  We did see 10 turkeys, but they wouldn't cooperate with us and Kev didn't get a shot.  But, we did enjoy the sunrise and all the green grass and wildflowers.
 Last year, it never greened up, so no wildflowers.  This year, we've gotten rain, and the prairies are so nice and green and the spring wildflowers are going crazy!
 Grandma hasn't lived at the farm since 1973, but her Spirea was beautiful this year.
 Her wild roses were beautiful as well.  I took a cutting of these home last year, but my roses didn't bloom this year.  I think they spent last year struggling to survive.  Seeing these at the farm gives me hope that my roses will take off and bloom in the future.
 I liked the wild flax.  But, I'm partial to blue flowers.  I need to remember to plant some flax somewhere at our place because it's so pretty.
 No idea what the yellow flowers are, but they were so pretty with the blue flax intermingled amongst them.
 Even the mustard was nice to see.  Granted, it's 2 feet tall, and is everywhere, but still, it's green!
Just a parting shot of the pretty flowers on our glorious morning at the farm.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Little Surprise

Sometimes, there's a BIG surprise waiting in the nesting box. 
 This wasn't one of those.
 This was a little surprise.
This poor little egg isn't much bigger than the quarter!  And, yes, it's a chicken egg.  Sometimes, this happens.  I'm assuming it's from my hen that is just now old enough to lay eggs. 
Her eggs are usually larger than this one.
We are also assuming it's empty, or almost empty.  We will not be breaking it open just to find out.  Instead, this little feller will have a home on one of my shelves.
Where it can live, safe and sound, AMEN.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Big day.

Saturday was Jody's big day.  Her wedding day.

Kev, Kat and I went back to Northwest Kansas this weekend for Jody's wedding.  We left home fairly early in the morning because Kev hoped to have time to drive to his former facilities to see patients and people he worked with before we moved.  I didn't have to be at the wedding site till rehearsal, at 6 that evening.  We dropped Miss Kat off with Miss Jenna in Colby, and we drove on to Goodland, then up to St. Francis and finally headed back to Atwood, which was the location for the wedding.  Since Kev had worked at the nursing homes in all three communities, it worked out well.

Of course everyone he worked with was happy to see him.  Some of the patients he hoped to see had died, so he was sad to learn of that, but he enjoyed seeing everyone and seeing the changes made in various facilities.  It was also great to see how green NW Kansas is.  All the flowering trees were in bloom, which is at least 2 weeks earlier than normal.

We checked into our hotel, and then Kev dropped me off at rehearsal and he met Lynn Dale for supper.  Rehearsal went well, and the rehearsal dinner was good.  What was best was just having some time to sit and visit and catch up with everyone.  Jody wasn't too stressed; but she  was at that point where she was ready to be done with wedding stuff and get on with the marriage. 

Saturday morning, we girls gathered at the church to get primped.  Jody had two gals booked to do hair and they were kept busy!  We bridesmaids all had our hair up and I sure wished I had stock in bobby pins.  There were tons used in our hair!

Pictures of the Bride and Groom began at 1:00, and the rest of us needed to be ready by 2:00.  The Bride, Jody, isn't known for her punctuality...but we had her ready and upstairs almost on time.  The photographer was giving her and Trent (aka the Groom) a couple of "alone" minutes.  I peeked in, but instantly got weepy and teary and quickly went back downstairs.  Lordy, I was in trouble.  But, I got myself under control and didn't cry again.  Weepy?  yes, but cry?  No.  Although Miss Kat told her Dad that I was trying real hard NOT to cry as I walked down the aisle.  I thought I had it under control by then...

It was a very nice and personal ceremony.  Trent is adopting Jody's youngest child, Josie and they had a special little exchange of vows--just the two of them.  Which was a cheek biter for me, (if you bite your cheek, you won't cry...)  Then, Jody's boys joined their Mom, Trent, and sister for a sand ceremony.  The sand ceremony signified they were all joining together as a new family and that once combined, their various colored sands could never be separated, just as their lives would never be separate.  It was very unique and very special to witness.

And then we partied.  There was the supper, the reception and the dance.  No one warned me, but I was supposed to give a toast.  I psyched myself up, and then couldn't do it.  Fortunately, Debbie, one of the bridesmaids, wanted to do it and did a great job.  She almost cried but managed to get through it.  People on TV give toasts and never cry...I wish I could say the same.  I wish I could have done it, but I wouldn't have gotten through it.  Remember, when I left CCC, Jody and I couldn't say good-bye, because we were afraid of the tears, so I hope she knows me enough to know the thought was there, but it just would make it out!

Jody has been in my life for many years.  I've watched and shared some happy times with her and some sad times.  I wasn't sure she was marrying the right guy the first time she got married, but I think she got it right this time.  Trent makes her laugh, and he understands that she's a crier.  She cries when she's happy, sad, and scared.  He's OK with that.  She's a calmer person with him--because he's there to support her and she doesn't have to be strong all the time.  She lit up every time she looked at him, and he did the same.  Since I haven't been around to watch this relationship grow, I was very happy to see what Trent gives her.  And, those friends of mine who do know Trent said that she does the same for him. 

I'm glad I was a part of it...

even IF I had to wear a damn dress.

AND...for those who wanted to see's a few. 
 Kev took time to teach Kat to two step.
 Jenna (Left) and Miss Kat (right)
 This little girl fell in love with Kat and Jenna and asked the girls to dance with her.  Then, after their dance, she burst into tears because some other little girl told her she wasn't a good dancer and that Kat and Jenna would never dance with her.  So, the girls danced with her at least one more time.  It was a proud Mama moment for me.
 We three girls.  Me, Debbie, and Melanie.  The groom's Aunt, Pat, made our shawls.  They were beautiful!
And...finally, one of Kev and our "almost" natural state.