Monday, March 31, 2008

Snore Away....Please!

Why does snoring have to exist?? What on earth can possibly be its purpose, except annoyance. Last night, I had to flee to the sofa to get away from Husband's raucous snoring. He works very, very hard all day long......and snores very hard at night. Sometimes, the snoring will cease if I gently shake his shoulder, prompting him to roll into a different position, but last night that didn't work. The rattling mass of sound started in again after a few seconds.

Therefore, today I stopped at a drug store and found these two hopefully helpful products. Husband has used Breathe Right strips in the past, so I was familiar with those, but never had I heard of Snore Relief before........I'm hoping it will cause me to not hear of snoring again!!

I'm headed to bed now.......and to see if these products live up to the promises on their labels.

Contributing to Art

This pile of pails is a contribution to art education.........How can that be? may ask. My daughter, the art teacher, phoned on Saturday to find out out if perchance we had some extra 5-gallon pails sitting around. She has a unit on papermaking coming up, and her students need pails for to stir up the paper mixture in. I wish I could watch that process.

Finding pails for her was not a problem, as our milk pipeline soap comes in them. Sunday, after church and lunch at home, I headed west to meet my daughter at the Dairy Queen in Story City------she lives in the Des Moines area------more than halfway for me, but we both thought a Blizzard sounded good!

My route to I-35 was on U.S. 20 out of Waterloo, a convenient way to zip through central Iowa, the road having been expanded to a four-lane in recent years. Great for driving.......but, not so great for scenery.......especially in the early spring with lackluster landscapes everywhere. The sky sported dismal gray clouds all day......the trees, when there were any, displayed murky charcoal tones, and the fields grimy brown and black.

One rather scenic spot on U.S. 20 is this high bridge over the Iowa River valley. I'm guessing the span is about a quarter-mile long. This photo was taken looking west.

Later, on my way back east across the bridge, I held the camera up and snapped a shot through the passenger window, out of curiosity to see what might show up. Here it is......looking south.......another dreary scene, over the Iowa River:


After enjoying ice cream treats and catching up at Dairy Queen, my daughter and I browsed the VF store at the Story City Factory Outlet. I've had good luck finding clothes there in the past. Today was no exception.......there were many CLEARANCE racks, and we each ended up with an armful to try then the store was about ready to close. So it was a fast try-on session and quick decisions. I ended up with half an armful to buy. They had tons of nice tops with three-quarter length choice of fashion for the past few years, as the upper arms get chunkier. A couple of the tops I bought are dressy ones, and as I drove home I realized that one of them just might work for my son's wedding this summer, IF I can find a longish, very dressy black skirt to wear with it. Hmm.......I've been dreading the thought of shopping for a dress for the wedding, so this might be just the ticket!


Does anyone know the song that begins with, "Black, black, black is the color of my true love's hair......"? We sang it in madrigal in high school. It kept going through my mind today as the dull scenery flew by. "Drab, drab, drab is the color of early spring in Iowa......". Yes, it truly is.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shooting the Birds

Ok, so yesterday afternoon I was prowling around the yard with the camera, trying to locate an elusive cardinal which I could hear, but never see. Sneaking around the corner of the house, I suddenly spied him way up in the tip top of a big soft maple tree.

Drum roll, he very FIRST cardinal photo ever! Not the clearest shot, I know, and his crest is unfortunately covered up, but this photo is exciting to me because, like I said, I've never taken one of a cardinal before, and the fact is, we rarely see cardinals here at our farm. This one showed up on Good Friday........who knows if he'll stay around very long.

I certainly didn't have to do any sneaking around in order to snag the following photo of a common, ordinary house sparrow couple. Sorry...... the male's pose isn't the greatest, but I liked the way the female looked, so that tipped the scale in favor of posting this particular photo of the pair. We girls need a break once in while in the appearance department.

Why bother photographing sparrows? Well.....His Eye is On the Sparrow.......right? So why not have a camera eye on them, too, once in while. Its not their fault we consider them common and ordinary.

Last, but not least, below is a Baltimore oriole's nest left over from last season. When the photo was cropped and zoomed on the computer screen, the colorful threads in the nest became visible. Sometimes, when making hay bales, we use plastic baling twine that is orange or blue, and obviously, the orioles make use of those threads to weave their nests, along with cow tail hairs, and fibers from regular sisal baling twine. Quite intricate work the orioles do, lashing the threads to the tree branches, and using their own version of knitting, crocheting, or macrame`.........whatever you want to call create their sack-like nest. Fascinating!!


It was fun babysitting the two little girls yesterday. One is almost two years old, and the other is four. The four-year-old likes to play with my daughter's old Polly Pockets.......the ones that are very tiny and have correspondingly tiny houses and cars. Polly Pockets aren't made that miniscule anymore, probably to prevent the risk of children choking on them. The two-year-old opened the toy drawer and tossed everything out, and then wandered around the house finding teddy bears to hug. She acted very frightened of Miss Kitty.......running to me, pointing at the door, trying to tell me to put the cat outside.

They enjoy looking at books, too, and being read to, of course. After a lunch of mac-and-cheese, we sat on the sofa and read "Snow White", "Cinderella", and "Heidi". The younger one fell asleep right away, and I almost followed suit. Then we watched an old VHS tape, "Madeline in London". Anyone remember Madeline?........."In an old house in Paris, all covered with vines......Lived twelve little girls, in two straight lines"........or something like that. And......."To the lion in the zoo, Madeline just said 'pooh, pooh' ". Its a story that's in my memory bank from way back in childhood------my mom must have read it to me.


Its great having the girls here, but impossible to get much of anything done (like I ever do, anyway). They constantly want me with them, and if I leave their vicinity for a moment, they come looking for me right away. Ah, yes, faintly do I remember being a mother to small children, and never getting anything done but taking care of them. How well I recall looking forward to their afternoon nap time, so I could accomplish some task.......or, better yet.......take a nap, too!!!


Here's wishing a relaxing Saturday to you!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mourning Dove

Fresh from the back yard this morning..........a mourning dove high in a pine tree. We usually have several pairs nesting around here each year. One time, there was a nest right on a branch near my clotheslines........each time I pinned laundry on the line, there was an eye watching me.

This will be a brief post, as I'm expecting two little girls to arrive any moment. They have to put up with me babysitting them while their mom runs errands in town.

Today's Dr. Dictionary word is "hullabaloo"! It means "a confused noise; tumult; uproar". When I was a kid in the 60's, there was a TV show by that name which featured mod dancing. My parents certainly didn't allow anyone to watch it at our house, but when I was at my grandma's, I would watch it with my older cousin. (Oh, the corrupting influence of grandmas and older cousins!) Another show called "Shindig" was similar to "Hullabaloo"........I remember lots of dancing......girls with solid hairdos and dresses of mod-print fabric. I nearly gagged the other day while browsing in a store's clothing section........those goofy prints are back in style. Ick!!! And the smock-styles that look like maternity tops........ICK!!! Who would want to wear that stuff????

Have a great day! Husband continues with the early-spring manure-hauling. That's exciting, isn't it. And I continue to rearrange and organize clutter in the house. I'm happy with the library area, though, and am excited to show the little girls when they get here. They like to sit in cozy corners and look at books. Ah.....the memories of many pleasant hours doing that same thing when I was young.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Railroad Photo Adventure

OK, here's the deal.......just as I stepped into the house after morning chores, my cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter beeped that a text message had come in. Good thing I heard it, for I rarely remember to check my phone for messages. It was from my son, informing me he had forgotten his retainer at home this morning, and would I mind running it to the school office for him.

My first thought was: Yes, do it. My second thought was: No......let him go for a day without wearing the retainer. Third thought being: By all means, yes, do it, and take the camera along and do some hunting for photo ops on this snowflake-filled morning. The third thought clinched the deal, so I quickly changed out of my stinky chore coat and jumped into the Envoy, backing it to the barn so I could shout my plans to Husband, who was running the noisy straw-chopper. I left out the part about photo-hunting.......he wouldn't see the need of doing that. If there's one thing I learned early on in my marriage, its this: if I get an idea to do something......the best thing to do is just do it, and tell Husband about it afterwards, because he rarely holds high opinions of activities not directly connected to cows and chores. Go ahead and criticize me as a bad wife, but we all figure out what to do to survive and thrive.

After dropping the retainer off at the school office, I headed for some roads down by the Wapsipinicon River. (If I would have told Husband I was intending to drive over by the river, he'd have frowned and said......"If you get stuck, don't call me.") I wasn't worried about getting stuck anywhere. The roads are a bit sloppy, but not deeply muddy.

My destination was an old metal of it I'll post another day. This photo was taken from that bridge, looking north towards a railroad bridge.

In thinking of this area, I had anticipated quietness, but instead there was a loud commotion going on in the woods to the someone cutting trees, possibly. Sure enough, when I looked down the railroad tracks, here's what I saw:

This machine was trimming trees on both sides of the tracks. Interesting......I'd never seen one of those before! This railroad track has seen increased use the past couple years, ever since an ethanol plant was built near one of the neighboring small towns. Obviously, a railroad track would need continued maintenance, including tree and brush trimming in wooded areas.

Then I looked the other way, and saw another vehicle coming down the tracks in the distance. See the stray branches on the tracks......maybe that next vehicle contains workers who will remove the branch cuttings that remain on the tracks.

I enjoyed my morning's adventure! And I learned something about railroad maintenance. My route home also took me past the old pioneer cemetery where many of my ancestors are for another post from there, also. Everything looks amazingly different in a snowy atmosphere like we had this morning. I'm glad now that my son forgot his retainer!! It gave me an excuse to be out and about!

I did put the memory card in the digital photo frame our kids gave us for Christmas, and Husband watched the photos from my morning's adventure while he ate lunch. He enjoyed them, but I assure you, if I'd have told him where I was headed earlier, he would have been way less than enthusiastic about it, and I have trouble tolerating that. Thus, its best to avoid it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Miss Kitty patiently awaits her maternity confinement........ in a couple more weeks, maybe. Can anyone make an obstetrical prediction from the width of her belly? At this point in her pregnancy, she's become very sensitive to being picked up, so we leave her alone as much as possible. She spent most of yesterday outdoors, hopefully discussing kittycare plans with her current hubby, Cal.......we think its him, anyway. Miss Kitty delivered her first batch of kittens last July.......she produced five, of which four lived past infancy, of which three still survive, of which two remain living here at our farm. We gave one to my niece.

For twenty-eight years of our marriage, Husband and I wouldn't think of allowing a cat to live in the house, but then in late summer of 2006, on my way to the barn one morning I heard a faint mewing in a bush by the house. It was a tiny kitten, apparently abandoned by one of the wild barn cats during the night. I put the little ball of fluff in a box, along with warm milk in a mayonnaise jar lid, and the kitty quickly started lapping it up. It was almost as if the kitten was a gift from Heaven........those spring and summer months of 2006 had been difficult for me, and this new kitten turned out to be just what was needed to help turn things around to the positive.
Our entire family fell hopelessly in love and bestowed on her the very original name of "Miss Kitty". We think she's quite beautiful with her golden face, fluffy white front, and white feet (take my word for it). These days, she is queen of our house, although she loves to spend her days outdoors. She is simply a wonderful cat, and adds something very special to our household......(and I don't mean the litterbox)! A few years ago I never would've imagined I'd ever write or say such glowing words about a feline. Who woulda thunk it.........


Sherry, of the extremely interesting and informative blog, "A Feather Adrift", informed me yesterday that she hasn't seen my header photo for a couple of weeks now. The header space stays blank for her after the blog page has loaded. If that's going on for any of the rest of you, please let me know in the comments, if you have time. The photo is of a road and farm field, topped by a sky full of clouds. Thanks!! A couple weeks ago I did redo the photo a bit, adding some color. That involved deleting the old photo and uploading the more colorful one.......and it seems to be possibly at that point that Sherry stopped seeing the header photo at all. It is visible when I view the blog, though.

Let's see, the Dr. Dictionary word for the day is "misnomer".........but, how shall I use that in this post?? It doesn't seem to fit anywhere. Oh........I know........yesterday in the comments section on his own blog, "Iowa Grasslands", Russell mistakenly referred to Country Girl as me, "Jeannelle"........which means the name he gave to Country Girl is a "misnomer"! Thanks, Russell, for providing an opportunity to use that word! Otherwise, I'd have been up a creek without a paddle. Russell has a cool clock on his blog now, too.

Have a superb day, everyone!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chasing the Sunset

Yesterday was OK, but with alot of sitting around doing nothing in the waiting rooms of the orthodontist and the optometrist, reading or dozing while my son had his appointments. He's ecstatic to be rid of the braces, and to be able to see the world more clearly.

Last evening, I needed to run up to the convenience store in our little town to fill Son's pickup with fuel (he can't drive there yet with just his school permit). I also remembered I needed to stop by at church and pick up Sunday School teaching materials for subbing next weekend. That led me to also remember to take along a couple sacks of pop cans to put in the can wagon in front of our Lutheran School, which is, of course, next to the church. The schoolkids collect cans for the refunds as an ongoing fundraiser. Church members and others leave their returnable pop and beer containers in the wagon, each can or bottle being worth a nickel or dime, which adds up to thousands of dollars of needed funding for the school each year.

Anyway, as I tip-toed through the mud to toss the sacks in the can wagon, I happened to look up and see this sight of the blackbirds on stark tree branches, outlined against the sky next to the steeple. And, guess camera was with me! Hooray! The steeple cross is facing west toward the setting sun.

A little while later, after spending $73 on fuel (gr-r!) at the convenience store, I was headed south on the highway toward home. Glancing to the west, I saw the sun setting in flaming majesty......this photo in no way does justice to the scene. Hurriedly, I pulled off on the shoulder to snap the photo, hoping no one would see me and think.......she's on her way to Crazyville again!

As the old pickup tolerated my jerky version of the manual shifting into first, second, third......I tried to keep watching the sun's show, and steer safely.......and then turned west onto the next gravel road to attempt to catch a photo shot at the moment when the glowing orb of the sun was perfectly a "red, rubber ball".......and, no, Cliff Richard's song was not serendipitously playing on the radio at that moment. HOWEVER, during my chase of the rapidly evolving sunset scene, THIS song was playing on the pickup's crackly radio.........."Sunset Grill" by Don Henley! I'm not kidding.

I missed the shot I wanted, and the ones I did get were blurry. My goodness, the sun's descent seems to speed up in those last few moments of sunset! Isn't that just the way life is see something you truly want, and poof!, its gone before you can get it in your grasp. And so, for a chance to catch a perfectly round setting sun on photo, I repine. "Repine" is the Dr. Dictionary word for today........I've decided to attempt to use each day's word in that day's blog post. We'll see if it works out or not.......and if I remember to do it or not.

Hey, there you go.......try to use a new word today......either in speaking or writing.

Enjoy Life's Mysteries

Believe me, I realize this is a strange-looking photo. I could ask if anyone out there in blogville knows what this is, but instead of being so annoying, here's the answer: Milkers in the wash vat.

Obviously, the photo has been edited to add a bit of color to an otherwise boring gray, silver, and black scene. I stare at these contraptions every day while they are being washed here in the stainless steel vat in the milkhouse. The vacuum pump does its vacuumy thing and causes the milkers to suck up the hot, soapy water over and over again, which then whisks its way through the milkline in the barn and then dumps back into the vat here, to be sucked up again, repeatedly. This goes on for about ten minutes-----then cold water is turned on and rinses out the milkers and milkline by the same vacuum process.

Anyhow, the other day I was standing there mesmerized by the rushing water and sounds and was thinking on an article I'd read recently about consciousness. The article theorized that possibly consciousness doesn't originate in the brain, but that the brain is a receptor for consciousness that exists outside of it. Similar to the milkers that are placed in the vat of water.......they aren't part of the water, but they take the water into themselves and make use of it. And while the water is inside the milker parts, you could consider it part of the milker........even though technically, its not. Someone seeing a narrow view of the milker full of water might think the water is part of the milker.......that is if they don't have a complete view of the entire wash operation. Which is comparable to us humans not having a complete view of what's going on in many aspects of our existence.

There, I'm revealing one of my deepest secrets.......if I suddenly found myself in college, I would study the mystery of consciousness. There's just a plethora of stuff we don't know about ourselves and the world we exist in. (Sorry....."plethora" was the Dr. Dictionary Word of the Day for today.) In the newspaper yesterday was an article about the construction of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe......a huge machine which will be used to study the miniscule particles that make up atoms. The article stated, "scientists hope that it will help them unlock some of the deepest, darkest secrets of the universe."!!??

I think its totally, fantastically exciting that there's so much we don't know about EVERYTHING!! Knowing that we know so little should keep us all humble.

Revel in the mystery of your world today!!

While you are busy with that assignment, I will be contentedly reading magazines in the orthodontist's waiting room as my son gets his braces removed, a happily anticipated event for him.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

STOP ahead for Easter

Here's how the sun looked this morning around 7:00 A.M. as I was headed to the Easter breakfast at church. The sun's appearance was the time I reached the church a mile and a half down the road, the glowing ball of sun had disappeared into the clouds, not to return on this Easter day.Accompanying me in the Envoy were three freshly-baked egg strata casseroles. The "youth" of our church traditionally serve the Easter sunrise breakfast........uh, what that means is: The MOTHERS of the youth provide the food. Back when my oldest child reached high school age, we had a genuine "Youth Group", which had officers and held meetings, and had activities, one of which was to conduct the Easter Sunrise service and serve the breakfast. Then along came very "confessional" pastors, who don't believe its proper for anyone else but them to conduct a church service, signaling the end of the youth doing the Easter Sunrise service.

Over the years, Youth Group activities have dwindled to nothing, but they and their MOTHERS are still expected to provide the Easter breakfast. I was talking to a deacon a couple weeks ago, and suggested to him that maybe the breakfast duties should be taken over by a different church group.......such as the MEN! (In the church I grew up in, the men's group served the Easter breakfast.) The deacon thought I was joking, but then indicated he'd consider the suggestion.......however, I think HE was joking!!! LOL

We served around 80 people for breakfast........not an especially impressive turnout. There was one church service, at 8:30 A.M., immediately following the breakfast. Our normal church service time is 10 A.M., which works out well with Husband's morning milking schedule, but an 8:30 service is too early for him to get to. Bummer.......he was unable to attend church on Easter! And, to top it off, this morning it was announced that our church services will be at 8:30 A.M. through May, to accomodate the available vacancy pastor! Needless to say, Husband is not amused about this turn of events. We attend a rural church, established by farmers over 130 years ago. Hardly any of the members have livestock anymore, though, and their minds are quickly forgetting what its like to have chores to do on Sunday mornings BEFORE church.

But, I shouldn't be a complainer on this most special of Christian holy days. Our younger two children were home, and my mom and stepdad came over, too. I fixed roast beef, mashed potatos and gravy, ham balls, corn, cherry/applesauce jello, cottage cheese, rolls. My stepdad brought a deliciously rich and heavy carrot cake. We all felt completely stuffed after this meal......and add in the fact that we also had partaken of that big breakfast at church.......oh, my. We were definitely well-fed today!

After clearing up the noon meal dishes, I tried to sit and visit with my mom, but even the cup of strong coffee in front of me could not prevent my eyes from becoming heavy and continually closing. I needed to lay down, so I asked Mom if she wanted to watch a movie with me.......that way I could sack out on the sofa. We chose "Roman Holiday"-------always a delight to watch, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck cavorting around the streets of Rome. My state of awakeness waxed and waned, but I was aware of most of the movie. I especially like the scene with "the mouth of truth".........anyone know what that is? I assume it is an actual location in Rome.

Hopefully, you had a wonderful and blessed Easter day!

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Red-Wings Trill & Thrill

Its a busy "day before Easter", but there was enough time to take a quick walk down the lane. Red-wing blackbirds are everywhere in the ditches and fencelines. This fellow's red badge wasn't glowing quite this brightly in real life, but he shouldn't mind the extra dab of color in his portrait.

On a fencepost across the road perched this competing songster. The two red-wings would trill and answer, trill and answer, trill and answer.......

I wanted to think that these two fellows were busy trying to articulate in song their pleasure at seeing me, but, of course, in actuality, they are competing tunefully for a mate. Ah, the romance of springtime! (Sorry, these photos are poorly arranged.) And, by the by, the I heard the first meadowlark song of spring this morning, too!
And, ah, in the photo below is the capivating scene (and smell) of Husband out in the field spreading cow manure. That man is one happy camper when he's able to haul manure this time of year.......he's doing it early this morning while the ground is solid.

Unlike the aforementioned red-wing blackbird males, the man in above tractor is not showing off in the field with the intention of trying to impress a potential mate.......or an actual one, for that matter.
P.S.----- I came back to add this, because I often assume too much, as in how much you may know about farming: Cow manure is spread on the field for the purpose of adding nutrients to the soil......manure is a fertilizer containing lots of nitrogen to help the crops grow. How handy is that.......a waste product that is useful!!


Well, best wishes today in your attempts to impress or attract, or in doing whatever your situation calls for! Everyone is probably very busy getting ready for tomorrow's Easter celebrations.......blessings to all!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm Sorry

This week is overwhelming, for some reason. Some areas of my house are in dire need of attention, so that's where my attention is going. There's an accumulation of books, and I'm trying to organize them and make a library out of part of a room. Actually, I should be getting rid of many of the books, but am unable to do so, for some reason.......I must be sick. And there is other clutter to deal with and curtains to be washed..........spring cleaning fever has taken over, and that doesn't happen to me very often, so I'd better take full advantage of it.

I'm sorry to not be getting to the blogs I enjoy reading, and I thoroughly understand if no one visits mine. That's not to say I'm not thinking of you.......Sherry, I thought of you in town the other day when I was stopped at a red light behind a van emblazoned with "", advertising services to "help you publish your life story", because Sherry is writing her life story on her blog. I don't have to look far to think of Russell at Iowa Grasslands blog, because grasslands are all around. CountryGirl.......I think of you everytime I take a photo and because, well, I'm a country girl, too! Kacey, at Wine on the were in my mind while I attempted to reposition my piano yesterday..........oh, my aching back! Mary's husband used to milk cows, so I know she understands the farm stuff.


The other day in town, I did break down and buy a new digital camera to carry in my pocket on walks. So here's a taste of how my little corner of the world looks right now:

Much of the snow has melted away, as you can see. (The black specks are birds.)

"Green, green...........goin' where the grass is greener stilll........", words from a song I vaguely recall. This hay field below is greening up in anticipation of several summer cuttings and balings.

This photo below shows why Husband wouldn't dare drive a tractor into this field at the present time. Our culverts and waterways are running full tilt with snowmelt water right now.

Tuesday, at 4 p.m., when I was exhausted after a day of housework, this text came in on my cell phone.....from my high school sophomore son: "We hav a bball banquet 2nite n i need 2 bring hot dish n if u cud come thtd b great."
Sheesh......thanks for the advance notice! I hurriedly searched the freezer and pantry and found ingredients to make a tator tot casserole. The banquet was its usual lame, lame event, but we parents are willing to endure much for our kids' sakes....right. I shouldn't complain, but most of the parents in this tiny school district are native to the district and remain attached to whatever cliques they were in in their former school days. Outsiders are on their own, believe me.
Today is Maundy Thursday. Out of curiosity, I just now looked up "maundy" in the dictionary. Its meaning has to do with when Jesus washed the disciples' feet. We have church tonight, and tomorrow morning for a Good Friday service, which oddly enough is one of my favorite church services of the year. For some reason, I'm moved by how we leave the service in silence and simply go home. Its very meaningful.
A blessed Maundy Thursday to all......and Happy 1st Day of Spring!!!


P. S. - About an hour after writing the above post, the first robin of the year appeared in our yard! Perfect timing, on this initial spring day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guess This & No Complaining

Well, today is gray, let me tell you........gray, gray, gray. And so was yesterday, when I ventured to town to have some fun shopping for groceries.

It was an awful day to be in town, and I wished I'd stayed home. The streets were a mess-----sloppy and littered with deep potholes. There was just enough fine rain coming down that I needed to run the windshield wipers, but they were annoyingly squeaky because the rain didn't provide enough water. If I turned them off, the rain on the window was annoying because I couldn't see through it! A no-win situation, it was.........and, yes, I'm competing in today's Ms. Complainer contest.......if there is one.

I was grumbling yesterday also because I had to drive Husband's pickup to town, due to the fact that Daughter had parked her car behind the Envoy and had flown the coop with a friend for the day and taken her car keys along. Around this farm, we normally leave keys IN vehicles, so I didn't even think to ask her about it before she left.......she, of course, has developed the sensible habit of removing car keys because that's what she has to do at college. And, that's how most of the car-driving world lives.......we on the farm are somewhat sheltered and naive, and today I paid for it.

Husband's pickup isn't that bad, really. It smells only faintly of cow manure. The cab is regular-sized, though, which doesn't leave much space for grocery sacks, but I crammed in as many as I could. We bought this high mileage '99 Chevy pickup a few years ago, and now our son drives the '88 Chevy pickup that it replaced. The '99 is rough-riding, because its a 3/4 ton, but at least it has a CD player, meaning I was able to enjoy my favorite driving music.

Let's see who can figure out the name of the CD. Its by a singing group with a talented lyricist, in my opinion. He's practicing art by painting pictures with words. Here's a few of the colorful images etched in the magnetic strains of this particular CD:


"My dad used to tell me I was lazy,
I got dance moves like Patrick Swayze.
I'm the leftover turkey for the world's mayonnaise,
The star next to the moon"
"And as I float along this ocean
I can feel you like a notion
That won't seem to let me go"
"I don't need nobody flyin' in my jet stream
Take the bus
Go on and get yourself your own dream
Leave a light on, so you can see
How to get back when you go,
How to get
How to give
How to make ends meet
How to lose
How to win
How to stay on the seat
How to use momentum
To keep the two wheels straight"
Well, an airplane's faster than a Cadillac
And a whole lot smoother than a camel's back
But I don't care how you get to me
Just get to me
Parasail or first class mail
Get on the back of a nightingale
Just get to me
I don't care
Just get to me
Get on the highway
Point yourself my way
Take a roller coaster that comes in sideways
Just get to me
I don't care
Just get to me"
"I got friends that ride into the storm
And ride out of the storm
With nothing they rode into the storm with
And there seems to be a price
For everything
You get what you pay for
Then you pay for what
You already thought
You bought before"
"I can see the red, white and free in you
You light the night up like the moon
And underneath your clouds
I see the blue
You're hopeless
'Cause you tell the truth
The stars are jealous of your shine
If you were mine
There's not a thing I wouldn't do
You're black and beautiful, yellow, tan
You're white as light and soft as sand
With greens and grays
And, oh. for days
A silver lining on the way
You cover everyone
Just like the morning sun
You turn me into someone I would rather be
You're coffee brown and bubble gum pink
And, oh, I think the shade of you is on the brink
Of changing all the ways I see the world
I could drown inside a single drop
Of all the kinds of things you got
And all the kinds of things I'm not
Might just give me a chance to see
From way up where you are
Above the silent stars
Just dancing in the sky
You're better than any rainbow
You're brighter than the sun
You look like my first day of summer
When the spring is on the run
You're gold, and more gold
And you're platinum, too
With snow-toned, copper attitude
I don't know what I'd do without you"
("Snow-toned, copper attitude".........I just love that line! Its my hair's motto, although I still work to hide those snow-tones!)
Preferably, whoever can give the name of the band and/or the name of the CD, will be able to do so without "googling" any of the lyrics!!! That's much too easy, although, I realize, if you've never listened to this band, you won't have a clue, just as I have no knowledge of songs I don't listen to.
Well, that's all for now......aren't you glad!! I must pretend to be a motivated little LOCOMOTIVE and get ON TRACK and get the rest of the groceries put away and do housework. Planning food for Easter Sunday is on tap, too. I sometimes could wish to focus simply on the meaning of special Holy-Days, instead of being required to focus on food!!! Here I go......complaining again.
Have a wonderful day and strive to be a non-complainer!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palmarum Typo & Oatmeal Cake

Sorry for the strange picture; I was goofing around with this photo of a clump of Queen Anne's Lace from our road ditch last summer:

Today is Palmarum, the Sixth Sunday of Lent, also known as Palm Sunday, the day Jesus was greeted by a crowd waving palm branches as he road into Jerusalem on a young donkey (John 12:12-15, Luke 19:28-38, Mark 11:1-10, Matthew 21:1-11. ) HOWEVER, this particular Sunday of the year is when Confirmation takes place at the Lutheran Church I attend, so very little focus is ever put on the Triumphal Entry story. The Gospel reading was from Matthew 27, relating the events of Good Friday. Idiot me has never understood why the Crucifixion story is read on Palm Sunday!
In the church bulletin this morning, there was a typo in the Introit which we read responsively. I love typos.......the typos of life are sometimes very significant! It was in Psalm 31:1, which correctly reads....."In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge......". Our bulletin had it printed as, "In you, O Lord, I have taken REFUSE......."! The noun "refuse" means "trash" or "useless stuff".......and, in a way, you can make that fit in the verse, too. We need to give God the trash and useless stuff of our lives so He can make something worthwhile out of it! Leave your burdens at the foot of the Cross..... that's what the church of my childhood used to emphasize. Maybe that was the message we needed to hear this morning.
I fixed taco salad for our noon meal today. While preparing that, I somehow started thinking about one of my grandmothers who had been a wonderful cook......of course, all grandmas fit that description when you're a kid. I looked up one of her recipes----for Oatmeal Cake----and quickly whipped that together for dessert. I used to watch Grandma cook.......she never measured ingredients......she just threw in handfuls of flour, sugar, etc. I find myself doing that more often as I get older.
Here's the very easy recipe for Ferne's Oatmeal might make good muffins, too:
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup quick oats
1 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped dates (optional)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chocolate chips
In bowl, place cut-up butter, dates, and oats; pour boiling water over this (I used hot coffee today in place of the boiling water) and mix until butter melts. Add other ingredients, except nuts and chips. Mix; pour into greased 9x13" cake pan. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350 for 23 minutes.
After lunch, my daughter and I installed the wireless router so she can connect her laptop computer to the internet here in our house.........and I will be able to use my computer at the same time. Yippee!!
After my cursor clicks the orange "PUBLISH POST" button, I intend to motate on out the door for a long walk.
A pleasant Palm Sunday is wished to each person who reads this!!
Ok......I've returned from that aforementioned walk. While fast-walking to a creek bridge and back, this excerpt from a song started playing in my head, to the beat of my footsteps......."HoZanna,HeyZanna,ZannaZannaHo,ZannaHo,ZannaHey,Za-a-anna.....".
Hey.....what's that tune from??? I ask, not because I don't know, but to see if you know.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Flying Girl & Cat

My college freshman daughter is home this weekend. She enjoys coming back to the farm so she can practice her flying skills!!

One of her good friends from high school days came over this afternoon and the two of them spent time outdoors taking silly photos. They gave this cat a flying lesson, too!

My daughter worked on her FAFSA this morning. I'm sure some of you know what that is. This is the ninth year I've had experience with filling out that charming form. Doing it online is not so bad. With our first two kids, we used the paper forms and snail-mail. I remember being SO nervous about filling out the FAFSA the first time.....worried we would do it incorrectly and cause problems with the college financing. Good grief. College is great, but what a loan burden kids end up with after graduation. Thankfully, our first two kids have gotten good jobs.

The flying daughter in the top photo can't decide what to major in. A degree in silliness would fit her quite well!

Kilroy the Killdeer is Here

"Kilroy the Killdeer was here"! Yes, he truly was, and of yesterday! (Where are the robins, I wonder!?)

I certainly did not take this nice close-up photo of a killdeer; it comes courtesy of the Wikipedia article about killdeer. Yes, as I trudged down our sloppy farm drive yesterday, this year's first sight and sound of killdeers caught my attention. They looked exactly like this fellow in the photo above.......standing on their little stick legs in the snowmelt pond in our field next to the driveway. Amazingly, icy cold water must not faze killdeers in the least, for the ones I saw seemed happy as larks to be wading in it. (I hope they won't mind being compared to larks........although not birds-of-a-feather, they seem to be friends, although the meadowlarks won't arrive for a while yet.)

Killdeers live an interesting life. They construct their nests right on the ground, making them out of little stones. In fact, killdeers seem to spend most of their time on the never see them sitting in trees or on fenceposts. If danger threatens their nest or their young, the adult killdeer will limp off, feigning a broken wing, to draw the predator's attention away from the nest or little birdlings. Isn't it amazing and intriguing how different types of birds and animals are blessed with specialized instincts!

By the way, young killdeer birdlings are the cutest darn things......last summer I saw a group of maybe ten little ones running along the road behind an adult (she must have been their daycare provider). The little ones look exactly like the mature killdeers, only in miniature, of course. Fun to see!! And killdeers can scurry very fast on their skinny stick legs......they almost look like little roadrunners!

The killdeers' call is distinctive, too, and is a common sound in the fields around our farm. Spring and summer wouldn't be the same without the killdeer's high-pitched whistle in the background of days and evenings. I have trouble describing bird calls, but killdeers don't seem to sing, or trill, or warble.......they have a whistly screech. Its not an unpleasant sound, though not exactly beautiful either.......but definitely recognizable!

I was going to write next that I have no idea where the odd name "killdeer" came from, but I quickly grabbed the "K" Worldbook and found the answer. Their name is associated with the shrill sound they sounds like "kill-deer", the encyclopedia said. Well, I'll have to take more notice of that now and see if its true. Oh, and guess what.......the explanation of their name is also given in the Wikipedia entry. Duh, Jeannelle.

We're in the Ides of March. I read last night that on the night before his assassination, Julius Caesar dreamed he sailed to the heavens and took the hand of Zeus! Supposedly, there was also a bird portent seen on the day preceding his death. It was a pagan habit, I guess, to take notice of such things in nature........although if portents occur, they are neutral, aren't they? Maybe its pagan simply to take notice of things such as dreams and birds. Do you know that originally the Latin word paganus referred to people who lived out in the country, as opposed to cities, where Christianity was concentrated. Fascinating!

Have a great day!

Friday, March 14, 2008


To NonnieM......a fellow dairy person, who has left comments here in the past:

I see there's a "NonnieM" at Wittenburg Trail, and wondered if that could be you. You did mention you were a Lutheran, I think. Its wonderful that spring has finally arrived......but it sure makes things messy in the cowyard, doesn't it?

Art Teaches a Lesson

This is one of my favorite paintings: "The Prairie is My Garden". I will talk about it later in the post.

Yesterday, after morning chores, I enjoyed a nice long walk on our sloppy gravel road, lined with snowpiles which are steadily diminishing, thanks to the sun's influence. The piles are chunky and now resemble big, dirty boulders. A neighbor was in his tractor pulling a manure spreader in his field near the road. Sometimes in very early spring, if the fields are solid enough, farmers are able to clean out cattle sheds and haul the manure to the fields before the ground becomes too soft to drive on. The neighbor and I exchanged hearty waves; he milks Brown Swiss cows on his farm. Our fields happen to not be fit to drive in, so Husband can't do any manure-hauling, and he's a bit frustrated about that.

Yesterday afternoon was spent painting a bathroom with Stain Killing Primer to cover some mildew spots here and there. We are blessed with spacious bathrooms, which is great, but also means a large ceiling to paint. Consequently, my arms and shoulders are sore today. As my paintbrush went back and forth yesterday, my mind was digging through shelves of ideas, trying to find fodder for today's blog post.

Finally, it hit me like a bolt out of the I was standing there PAINTING.........why not post a favorite painting and discuss a serendipitous lesson I once learned about ART. By stunning coincidence, fellow Iowa bloggers Sherry and Russell, at blogs "A Feather Adrift" and "Iowa Grasslands", respectively, have been including art and related commentary in some of their recent posts. Hmm........maybe that also influenced my choice.

In the household I grew up in, there wasn't much appreciation for art, so I didn't develop much interest in art. In high school, I wouldn't have been caught dead taking an art class......that was where the "dummies" and troublemakers congregated, so I thought. To my credit, however, when my kids were growing up, I did make sure they had plenty of crayons, pens, pencils, and sheets of paper, so they could draw to their hearts' content. But, the thought of any of them having a career relating to art never entered my head. Little did I know.

Our oldest child, a daughter, began college intending to major in Exercise Science. Towards the end of her sophomore year, she phoned home one day and said, "Mom......I'm changing my Art Education." I gasped and said, "What for?" I was worried she'd never find a teaching job in the area of art......schools deleted art from their curriculum when finances were I thought.

Daughter spent the first semester of her junior year taking art classes in Leiden, The Netherlands. She was able to visit many galleries and museums, seeing famous paintings and other artwork in places like London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Prague, Amsterdam. It was a fantastic experience for her......even though 9/11 took place just two weeks after she flew to Europe......but that's a story for another post.

At the end of her senior year in college, one Sunday afternoon we drove to Central College in Pella, Iowa, to attend the Senior Art Show, where students displayed a major art project they had completed. Our daughter had painted murals at the Pella Hospital, and her display was about that.

As we were walking around admiring the students' artwork that day, I suddenly became aware of a conversation going on behind me. It was between an art professor-----he was from the Netherlands and had a very noticeable Dutch accent, my daughter having had him as an instructor in Leiden------and apparently, one of his former students. The young woman had a baby in her arms and she was rather apologetically telling the professor that she was not working at the current time, but was a stay-at-home mom. The professor piped right up, and to this day I can still hear him saying this to her in his Dutch accent: "But you do some art everyday......right? You should do art everyday. You can do art at the kitchen table."

For some silly reason, it nearly brought tears to my eyes to hear his very kind and earnest words to his former student. Right then it was almost as if a veil fell away in my mind concerning the importance of art in peoples' lives. I could suddenly see things differently. And as I've been more aware of art the past few years, and have done some reading about it.......I've learned that inspirations that come to artists are almost like prophecy.....they lead the way into new vistas for the world and humanity. That may sound impossibly dreamy, but I believe it. Creativity and inspiration come from somewhere outside of this world.

My daughter was hired by a large high school, where there are four other art teachers, thus she's experienced excellent mentoring early in her teaching career. She also retains her interest in sports, coaching girls' basketball, track, and cross-country. I'm very proud of her and happy for her.......she's able to put both sides of her brain to use! She married a business teacher/coach, who is now an athletic director; they add up to one very busy young couple. (After listening to my son-in-law describe his duties as an athletic/activities director, I tell him he's basically the "Mom" of the school district. He agrees that's an apt comparison.)

Now I need to talk a bit about the painting included in this post. As stated above, it is entitled "The Prairie is My Garden" and was done by Harvey Thomas Dunn (1884-1952). I bought a postcard with this painting pictured on it at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, in the summer of 1975, when I was there with my parents and siblings. Here's the information printed on the back of the postcard: "This painting portrays the Dakota pioneer woman's determination to cope with the harsh elements of the prairie, and her love for the beauty of the land. From the Collection of the South Dakota Memorial Art Center, Brookings, SD; gift of Edgar M. Soreng."

Do art everyday.........including today!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It Be A Thistle Bee

This bee on a thistle photo was taken last summer and has nothing to do with this blog post.......sorry......its just a random photo.

This morning I arose determined not to spend time doing any blogging today. As soon as I stepped out of the house to make my way across the frozen slush to the barn, my mindset was changed by a wonderful, joyful spring sound........the first red-winged blackbird of the season trilled a greeting from high in a tree overhead! Normally, they hang out on fenceposts along the road, so this fellow must have been determined to let me know he had arrived. Bless his little heart!

I hadn't wanted to wake up, actually. The dream I was in seemed infinitely more interesting than my real life. In the dream, I had been surfing to blogs (first time I ever dreamed about blogging!), and was reading one written by an older woman (not a familiar blog in real life), when the woman suddenly showed up in my house! It took me awhile to realize she was the writer of the blog I was looking at......and then when I did realize it, I was unsure of whether or not to let her know I knew she was the blogger of that blog! Her blog did have a name; its a word that makes no sense, but I'll study it out of curiosity.

Anyway, enough of that meaningless drivel. Have a wonderful day, anyone who happens by here!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Idiotic Pizza Incident

There is no photo with it. It'll be tough, since there are only a gazillion photoblogs out there, but......BE can do it. LOL!

I did, in fact, compose this story BEFORE reading countrygirl's Hall of Shame post of yesterday, so this is not an attempt to mimic her story's subject and style. Remembrances of humorous situations are always out there floating around.....on the east coast, in the midwest, in the south, west, north......anyplace where memories exist!!

To my friends in blogworld, I hope you are having a wonderful day, devoid of any stupid incidents.......but, if one does occur, I hope you write it into a story!

This post will relate an incident I've long wanted to write down in story form. It will perhaps prove that no attempt to do a good deed goes unpunished, so beware of becoming involved in such things. Usually, its my own fault when stupid things happen to me, although this time, I don't think it was, but who can decide. The story is all true; I'm not creative enough to have made it up.

It happened on an uncomfortably warm and humid summer evening several years ago. Here on our farm that day we had done something unusual; we had chopped down a hackberry tree which had faithfully shaded our house for many years. I have an inborn aversion to removing trees, but this time it had to be done, because a few days before that, we had noticed the large tree trunk rotating as if on an axis as the wind blew, indicating rotting going on inside the tree.

It had taken most of the day to accomplish the tree's downfall. Husband wielded the whirring, burring chainsaw and the kids and I carted away branches and chunks of wood. Husband rode up in a tractor loader bucket to cut the high branches off first, then he climbed onto the tree to cut bigger sections. That made me so nervous, I couldn't even watch.......ditto for Father-in-Law, who had made his usual stop at the farm to check out the day's activities.

By evening milking time, the tree was completely down, and our yard was full of sawdust, leaves and sticks, and piles of variously-sized wood chunks. I felt completely not in the mood to cook supper, albeit feeling somewhat guilty for feeling that way, but I asked Husband if he would care if I went and got pizza from town. He said fine, so I phoned in an order for one large stuffed crust pepperoni and one large pan chicken supreme, to a pizza place in a town about 15 miles away. We happen to live about that far from three different towns, so by eeny-meeny-miney-moe, I made the choice that evening.

The drive to the pizza place was thoroughly enjoyable-----maybe that's why I wanted to order supper out-----just to get away for a little while and drive with the windows down to feel an actual almost-cool breeze on this muggy, still evening, our van's air conditioner having long ago given up the ghost. Most likely I had the radio cranked up, too, singing along, totally unaware of the idiocy which awaited me.

Once at the pizza place, I turned off the van (my biggest mistake), ran in and got the pizzas, jumped back in the van, turned the key, wouldn't start. It would turn over, but wouldn't catch, like non-fuel-injected vehicles used to do back in the old days, when they were flooded. I waited a few minutes and tried the key again, with no success.

I went back into the restaurant to explain my situation and ask if they could put the pizzas back in the oven to stay warm. Not a problem, they said. After a few more minutes, I turned the van key again, to no avail. My next move was the dreaded cell phone call home to tell Husband what was going on......he would not be happy to hear what was transpiring with me, because it would mean more work for him to do. Thankfully, my son answered the barn phone. I cringed as he hollered the sordid story of my situation to Husband down the barn aisle, the words mixing with milker pump humming, stanchion rattling, and cow mooing.

After a few seconds, my son informed me that someone would come to my aid eventually, when chores were done.

Thus, I settled in to wait, ruing the fact that I had no book or magazine to read. I was parked right by the side windows of the pizza place, and near to the door. Before long, a female employee emerged from that door with a pizza box and a soft drink cup in her hand. Her car was parked right next to my van, and I noticed she set the pizza and pop on the roof of her car while she unlocked her car door. Then I looked away for a few seconds, and happened to glance at her car in my rear view mirror as she pulled away behind me........the pizza box and pop cup were still on top of her car! I jumped out of the van, yelling and pointing at the roof of her car, trying to get her attention before she pulled into the street. She looked back at me right after she entered the street, and just as the pop cup tipped over, spilling liquid and ice down her back window, the pizza box sliding also down the window and trunk and onto the street. Well, I thought, that was that......that poor kid just lost her supper!

I climbed back into my forlorn van, and a few seconds later was very surprised to see the employee's car come barreling back into the pizza place parking lot. She pulled in next to my van, glared at me, slammed her car door, and went into the pizza place. Through the window, I could see her talking and my direction, it seemed. Then I could see her making a phone call. Then customers sitting at tables in the restaurant started looking out the window-----at me, it seemed-----but why would they be doing that??.

Lo, and behold, a few minutes later I heard a police siren and then a squad car with flashing lights pulled in and parked next to me and my van. The officer came over to my window and said, "What's going on here?" I replied, "I have no idea. You tell me."

Then he did proceed to tell me that someone had reported that I had THROWN a cup of pop at a car!!

I just shook my head, and told him what had happened, wondering how on earth that girl could think I had thrown a pop cup at her car, when she herself had set the pizza and pop on top of her own car!!! The policeman said, " sounds like there might be a misunderstanding here."

The policeman went into the pizza place and brought out the girl employee and the manager, and related to them what I had said. Incredibly, that girl acted like she had no recollection of the pizza and pop she had set on the roof of her car! I honestly wondered if she had very-early-onset Alzheimer's Disease or something. (OR, she had taken the pizza and pop without permission.....but, if that were the case, WHY did she draw attention to herself by accusing someone of throwing the pop cup at made no sense!)

As we were talking there by her car, I glanced at its roof and saw there was still a moisture ring there from the pop cup!!! I pointed that out, and then the girl said, "Well, maybe that is what happened." My goodness, Girl", I thought, "what in the world is wrong with you"??!! (Or maybe because my van is old, dented, and rusty, she stereotyped me as the type of person who would randomly throw a cup of pop at a stranger's car!)

Anyway......long story, short.......the "misunderstanding" got straightened out, and I sat for another hour before my son finally showed up to take me home. I never did go back in to get the pizzas......I was too upset.

The next day, the pizza place's manager phoned me and said he had fired the employee. As if I would be happy to hear that.....but, I wasn't.....I still wondered if the girl had a brain disorder of some sort. He also said there were more reasons for her firing than just the incident involving me. As for the disabled van......Husband had to hoist it onto a car trailer and take it to the repair needed a new starter. Husband is always thrilled to have the chance to enjoy activities such as that.

To that particular pizza place, I've never had the gumption to return. This story has prompted a few laughs occasionally in a conversation here and there, although, I must be careful lest the facts of the story get twisted and I acquire the reputation of being a pizza and pop thrower!!

Anyway.....what does the moral of this story boil down to?......FIX SUPPER AT HOME!!! Even though Proverbs 31:14 says that a good woman brings food from afar.....DON'T DO IT!!