23 September 2014

Movies and Religion

In bible study we are reading the book of John.

It was mentioned in class that there was a movie of the book available on you-tube. One of the women bought the movie and offered to let anyone borrow it who would like. I declined.

I don’t think I could sit through three hours of that. We would have to borrow the DVD if we were going to watch it, our internet is quite slow and three hours of buffering would be way more than I could handle.

I sometimes wonder if something is wrong with me.

Can’t sit through the book of John but I found Black Death to be deeply moving on a spiritual level.

It was one of those movies Netflix is always sending us, that we don’t remember ever having heard of much less adding to our list. I didn’t think I would like it, I hated every movie in the previews leading up to it. That is not usually a good sign for a movie. There was a good bit of gratuitous violence that I really could have done without and I thought it was going to be ghost story type of scary. I had just had nightmares from watching Dark Shadows which is so not scary, I mean seriously it had Johnny Depp how could it be scary, and this movie was scary. So I made my poor patient husband promise with the start of the show to walk with me on my many nightly trips to the bathroom. I knew bad nightmares were coming.

In the end it was about religion and witch craft in it’s truest and most dangerous form, but mostly the control of evil over people and the weakness of even the most devout of hearts. I can’t even begin to describe what exactly about it was so moving, it’s been a week now my memory is short, but I was glad not to be watching a ghost story.


22 September 2014

Goodnight Kisses

The child had decided to give up sleep. She was no longer tired but wide awake in the middle of the night, often appearing at our bedside asking to cowor or watch T (color  and T.V. for the non-child speakers). No matter that every time we put her right back to bed, she persisted. The only way we were able to convince her to go back to sleep was to sit in the rocking chair next to her and wait. If we decided to soon that she was safely asleep and tried to sneak out she would jerk upright from her pillow and demand that we ssst (sit that is).

After a month of that she has decided she is tired again. Finally we are getting a, mostly, full nights sleep. She is still usually up by five thirty, we are happy to turn the T.V. on by then if it allows us to go back to bed for that last treasured half hour.

Last night after a late evening at friends, where she spent the evening playing with those fun older kids, she was ready for bed. We put her pj’s on before leaving for home in hopes that she would be asleep by the time we got home. She was not. After getting in the door and getting our things put down we told her it was time for bed. She didn’t argue.

I told her to say goodnight to kitty who was twining about our legs. She crouched down reaching with both hands for what I thought was going

We love kitty, the feeling isn't usually returned.
We love kitty,sometimes kitty loves back.

to be one of her over enthusiastic embraces. Instead she braced on either side of kitty to give it a nice gentle kiss goodnight.

Passing Daddy we stopped to say goodnight and she happily kissed his cheek.

Lovingly amused by her uncharacteristic sweetness her loving father told her to say goodnight to Daisy. She bent over and gave Daisy a sweet kiss on the top of her head.

Proceeding to the bedroom  she walked over to the bed and climbed in. Saying goodnight, I missed my kiss, I left her there and she stayed. We are so happy to return the the good old days of a child who sleeps. This added sweetness isn’t too bad either.

10 September 2014

More Adventures in the Life of Smoke The Wonder Horse

Guest post by Tammie

Smoke, same weekend, different story.

Sunday, big ride out by Rockford for the McHenry County Horse Club.

Saturday. Trail ride moved to new location, D didn’t want to ride there. Could we choose a different ride?

Sunday. The four riders from our barn met at eight, as planned, but with a trip to Rush Creek to ride without the group. All to go in our trailer. So, out comes the trailer with two nearly flat tires. Seemed strange since we used it two weeks ago and it was fine. But we filled the tires, waited, checked them twice and they seemed to be holding. We gathered up our horses, loaded the two horses that can load, and the two that can’t, decided D would follow in her car and bring an air compressor just incase. 

About five miles down the road I notice the two tires are looking low. I began to look for a shoulder wide enough and long enough for truck and trailer to safely get off the road. Found a side road and a good shoulder just past it, but one tire was all the way flat and the other could not bear the weight, so we stopped blocking one lane of what ended up being a very well used road. We all hopped out and took in the sight. What to do with four horses and two flats? D thought we could change them. We only had one spare. I decided to admit defeat and call for help.

Hooray for husbands! Especially mine. He can fix anything and has always come to save me when I do something stupid. He would be there in a half hour. In the mean time, what should we do with four horses? S and T were directing cars around the trailer and on to the main road. We needed to move out of the road. So we unloaded the horses and slowly moved the trailer till it was out of the road and as far onto the shoulder as possible.

Oh look here come the police! Yay, we need more help! Nice guy, but no, we really can’t move the trailer down into the grassy area below the shoulder. Perhaps he has never maneuvered such a long rig and does not realize you can’t just go down the side of the hill? Oh good, we can leave it were it is and he will put out flairs.

Does anyone just want to ride home? Three of us will, one says no way!

Suddenly an epiphany! D has a trailer just down the road! We unhook the broken trailer, leave S and T holding the horses and go get the trailer. 

We get back a half hour latter and Monte has come. I make the decision the first two horses to go will be the two that load. This is very upsetting to the owners of the two that can’t as they feel their horses hate each other and will not stand beside each other in the two horse. This was a big deal in loading the first time, and careful consideration was made in who stood where. Too bad! Teach your horses to load or get your own trailers! (Smoke turned out to be the only one who just. got. in.) Came back let the other two try to load theirs. Came back again and Monte and D were all done and waiting for the truck to come back. (Monte had used our spar and the spare off D’s trailer).

Waved good by to Monte, started to leave in the Subee and discovered the keys in my pocket were for the truck!

OH NO! STOP MONTE, DON’T GO!!! Too late, he was gone. Called him, he stopped somewhere down the road and Debby drove I off to find him. 

Finally all back at the barn where we belonged. Monte took the trailer home so he could work on it, every body else had their tack in D’s trailer and we were ready to ride  the trails right there at the barn. But no, my things were still in my trailer. Oh well, there was still Indy and his things. All ended well, especially for Smoke cause he never did have to go for a ride!


6 September 2014

Getting What we Need

Guest post by Tammie.

Isn’t it great how God gives us what we need instead of what we want?

Smoke was so good today, he usually is, just not in the way I want him to be.
I always think it would be nice if he were softer,and maybe a little more fiery, you know,
a little more like Skip, or Tally, or some hot and snorty, beautifully collected baroque horse.
But no, he is Smoke. Undeniably hard mouthed, only interested in pleasing himself, but none
the less kind, careful of riders that don’t pretend to BE riders, if you know what I mean.
Today we had company ride with us, a lady from our club. And Tracey with her big Belgian mare.
It looked stormy as we mounted, and thunder rumbled in the distance, but our friend had trailered
over and was determined to ride. So we rode out, to the gate at the bottom of the hayfield. And the storm drew near.
Cobalt clouds, angry rumbles, lightning barely seen on the edges of our vision. Still, Anne was hesitant to 
go back. Tracey’s weather app showed bright reds and yellows over Woodstock. Maybe it would go south.
One of us insisted we ride back to the barn and wait a while.
We almost made it. We stopped in the area between Dicks house and the pasture full of horses, checking weather
apps and trying to decide if we should give up our ride, just hanging out and watching the clouds.
The storm arrived with a blinding flash, a deafening clap. The horses in the pasture bolted. The horses we were 
riding bolted. More flashes,actual lightning bolts looking like they were hitting just past the trees, in the hayfield.
Smoke halted after his first jump, the other two, in a few leaps, still jigging nervously. Now everyone agreed:
the barn was the best place to be. As the first giant drops hit, Smoke calmly allowed me to open the gate, let the
others, now trying to lead their horses, through. We closed the gate, and in the blinding rain  Smoke
trotted past the others to the barn. Just as we got there he suddenly froze and for a second stood quivering, and bunched.
Then another crash and flash simultaneously. Guess he felt it coming. He stepped forward I slid off and we were in.
Strangely the other two horses fought going in, Annes for only seconds, Tracey had to stay out in the storm for another 
five minutes or more before her horse would come in.
Smoke stood in his place looking worried and dripping water. I stood thinking how much I love him!
I am past the place in life where I need a wild horse. It is so nice to have a steady dependable horse instead!


1 September 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

Not that we have been challenged, we don’t do facebook thank you very much. But all the same we are not fans. Not just because of the mindless herd mentality behind it but also because, well because of all these things that as usual the great Mike Rowe says better than I ever could:

Hi All,

Since yesterday was apparently National Dog Day, (seriously?) and since my second-to-the-last post triggered a variety of observations around my apparent failure to “rise to challenge,” as it were, I’m weighing in with another image of young Freddy, who like his master, has decided to forego The ALS/Ice Bucket Challenge.

I mean no disrespect to the 500 or so individuals who have publicly challenged me to participate. And God knows, I’m in near constant need of a cold shower. But as a guy who has represented some rather large, profitable companies while running a non-profit foundation, I’ve got some opinions on the subject of persuasion, especially as it applies to fundraising. And I’ve been struggling with how to share those thoughts in a way that will not make me look like a douche-bag.

First of all, I tip my hat to the marketing genius that conceived of this device. Thanks to The Ice Bucket Challenge, The ALS Association has collected $75 million dollars in donations. That’s up from just $1.9 million over the same period a year ago.That’s amazing, and totally unprecedented. And if we lived in a world of unlimited philanthropic resources, it would be fantastic news. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where generous people of finite means must allocate their charitable giving with discretion – in the same way they allocate all other expenditures. In this world, more money for ALS means less money for Heart Disease. More for Malaria means less for Diabetes. More for AIDS means less for Alzheimer’s. And so forth.

It’s not exactly a zero sum game, but the cannibalism factor in charitable giving is a very serious problem. According to the experts, 50% to 70% of all the money collected as a result of the Ice Bucket Challenge will directly impact future contributions to other charities in an equal and opposite way. In other words, if The ALS Association collects a $100 million – as it’s on track to do – other charities competing for the same dollars will collect between $50 and $70 million LESS. Thus, the largest donations do not necessarily go to those charities that serve the most people or do the best research – they go to those that who market themselves in the most effective way.

This informs the way I give, and the way I solicit. It’s one thing to sell cars or trucks or jeans or paper towels. God knows, I’ve been there, and I’m comfortable with the consequences of pushing one brand at the expense of another. But in the non-profit world, the stakes are bit higher. I’m reluctant to participate in a challenge that’s raising so much money for a small association, especially when it impacts other research that will eventually save the lives of millions. That’s the cold and shitty calculus of charitable giving.

Of course – I understand those who see it differently. If my Dad or my brother was among the 6,000 diagnosed with ALS every year, I’d be standing under a shower of freezing water, waving my checkbook in the air and challenging the world to get on board. I remember when my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer – I would have done anything to fix it. In fact, I took off my pants and challenged the world to donate the cost of their favorite pair of jeans to help find a cure. I get it.

But here’s the thing – if you decide to give charitably, it’s important to understand everything you can about the way your money is going to be spent. That’s not happening here. The spectacular success of the Ice Bucket Challenge is not the result of a conscious, collective commitment to rise up against a terrible scourge; it’s the result of a marketing campaign. Consequently, a foundation accustomed to working for decades on a million dollars or so in annual donations, will now have to manage a $75 million jackpot. That worries me, as it should anyone who has ever studied the fate of lottery winners. That’s not their fault, but it doesn’t change the situation, and I’m not inclined to challenge more people to send more money to coffers that are already overflowing.

Some of you will remember a recent post about my friend, Jill Brown. Jill is a stuntwoman who got a brain tumor and lived to tell the tale. http://www.refinery29.com/2014/01/60263/brain-tumor-story Last year, she asked me to sponsor her in a walk to raise money for brain tumor research. She didn’t like asking, and I don’t blame her. Asking people for money is never fun. Even for a good cause. But Jill was very grateful for a second chance at life, and determined to support those suffering from the same condition that she overcame. So she personally called everyone she knew and explained why she walking, how the money that she raised would be used, and why the research was so important. Consequently, she raised a tidy sum for a great cause that was near and dear to her.

Point is, Jill did several difficult things. She vowed to walk, at a time when walking wasn’t so easy. She committed her time, her energy, and her passion to a cause that mattered deeply to her. And most importantly, she made the whole thing personal. That made me want to help her. Not just because she’s my friend – but because she was helping herself.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is different. Here, people I’ve never met give me 24 hours to either write a check to a charity I’m not familiar with, or dump a bucket of cold water over my head. Tell me honestly – if that precise challenge arrived to you privately, via the US Mail, what would you do with it? You’d throw it in the trash, right? But a public challenge is not so easy to ignore. Online, everyone is watching. Your friends. Your co-workers. Your clients. Maybe even your boss.

When it comes to asking people for help, I don’t like to put them in an awkward position. So the only challenge I’m issuing today is to Freddy. If he can refrain from peeing on the floor, I’ll send a check to the local shelter. Beyond that, I’m staying dry.

Again – to anyone who’s been affected directly or indirectly by ALS, my heart goes out to you. And to those who challenged me mikepersonally, I know your heart’s in the right place. So I’m going to reserve the right to dump various substances over my head at a future date for whatever reason I deem appropriate, and encourage you all to ignore the gimmicks, get informed about the charities you wish to support, and contribute generously to whatever cause resonates with you.


31 August 2014

Kindness of Strangers

After church today we decided to give Pizza Hut a try. We never eat there but I have been craving their pizza, or more accurately the crust. We walked in and were seated, the only people there besides a gentleman eating alone in the corner. After we ordered the place filled up and we payed little attention to the other patrons.

Our food took a while and I was a little grouchy about not getting our appetizer until after our pizza. I do tend to get just a little cranky when hungry. The manager walked over to our table and said our meal had been taken care of. Not because our order had been lost. Nothing to do with them at all.

The gentleman who had been seated upon our arrival had finished and paid for his meal shortly before this occurred. We had glanced his way,  but paid no attention other than to note that we didn’t know him. For some reason, completely unknown to us, he decided to pay for our meal. We will never be able to thank him, we can only hope to return his kindness to someone else. I hope this will serve as a reminder to us to do unexpected nice things for strangers or, even more difficult, for those we know and love.

The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.

28 August 2014

I was Wrong

I decided to cook some of my mystery squash today. One I thought would be spaghetti squash like, the other I assumed would have acorn squash like qualities.

I had it all planned, we would have spaghetti for supper and acorn squash for dessert. I cooked them both in the morning and left them to cool. This afternoon when I returned to them I was in for a big surprise.

The bright yellow pumpkin thing was soft and smooth, with an incredibly sweet smell. Just like acorn squash.

The little acorn looking thing was still sweet smelling but stringier. Kind of like spaghetti squash.

These crosses are weird. I didn’t use either for supper but if I could recreate that big yellow one I would have the perfect pie pumpkin.

26 August 2014

Pumpkin Genetics

I love pumpkins, I may have failed to mention that. Probably not.

I love genetics, especially horse color genetics, they fascinate me.

So when I inadvertently took up pumpkin breeding the color genetics behind them intrigued me greatly. Why do most of the volunteers turn out white? Is white really the dominant color gene of pumpkins? I realize that most of the vegetables we eat today do not naturally come in the colors we are used to, but pumpkins not naturally orange? It boggles the mind.

So says I who lovingly grows pumpkins in every color of the rainbow, and grey. Mostly grey.

For a couple of years I planted Lumina’s, a large and beautiful white pumpkin. Or they were the first year after that the same packet of seeds produced lop sided little blobs nothing like they were supposed to look and now most of my volunteers look like this:

The other thing that amazes me are the seeds I saved and planted from ONE gourd. One Gourd. Every plant that came up produced a different type of gourd. I planted quite a few of the seeds hoping to get at least one plant. It worked. I wasn’t expecting this though:

Apparently plant genetics are going to take as much careful study and attention as horses. If they had put genetics in this context durring school I may have become a geneticist. Probably not but I would have paid attention at the very least. I need to do some google-ing.

25 August 2014


I don’t think it is possible to keep up with every thing that always needs done in August. This is the least necessary so nothing gets written.

It has been an incredibly busy month, doing what I can’t even begin to remember. School is going again, we had a big birthday, The garden is going crazy. It is impossible to keep up with the produce.

A couple of weeks ago some friends came over and we had a canning bee. We put up approximately sixty pints of salsa, pickled beans and pickles. It was exhausting and it was great fun with brownies and homemade ice cream. There is so much more that needs canned I think we will have to do it again.

We, just us this time, canned our first batch of green beans in the pressure cooker. I have always been terrified of them but have friends who go about using them with not a drop of fear, peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing, so we gave it a try. We haven’t eaten any yet but they look good and we didn’t die. Always a good thing. I have been looking at other pressure cooker canning recipes and we are definitely going to try that again.

I put up our first batch of oven roasted tomatoes last night. It is the easiest and my favorite method for preserving tomatoes. Slice them in inch thick slices and put them on a pan in the oven for an hour or so, let cool, put in freezer bag in freezer. Sounds hard huh? They have great flavor and I can put a batch on while I cook supper, no extra mess or fuss.

The corn is ripe, finally. Getting past sweet corn stage quickly we need to start freezing some, soon.

The pumpkins are going insane. I love it. I left too many of the volunteers but I think the planted ones are doing okay out in that jungle anyway. I love the weird mixes we end up with though.

We have eaten our first watermelon but they and the cantaloup seem to be taking forever to get ripe. All this beautiful cool wet weather isn’t helping them any.

10 August 2014

Happy Birthday, Small Goblin Child

Today was your birthday, I have not written you a long elaborate post like last year. We were too busy canning tomatoes, sorry for ignoring you all morning, and throwing you a birthday party. The tomato canning is nice to have done, the party too for that matter. I can only hope that as you grow older you will realize that my willingness to go through with this whole party thing is a great sign of my love for you.

Party we did though. I think/hope you enjoyed it. Much to my surprise I did. You and your friends seemed to have a blast on the play ground where you continually tried to kill yourself on toys to big for you. You are our little monkey with no fear and no sense. Anything the big kids do you are sure you can do with no knowledge of what it means to fall.

Tired of the hot sun and worn out from playing we went inside for cake and ice cream or more accurately ice cream cake and snacks.  Almost all of your friends were there, so much for the whole one friend per year rule (one friend to first birthday, two friends to second and so on). We packed the room full with everything from a new born to sixth graders. And their parents of course, even a few friends without children, just along for the fun.The candles scared you so we helped you blow them out, you weren’t to sure about the cake either. But decided it was fun to lick it off the candles.

This year you figured out how to open presents, even if they got tossed over your shoulder immediately after. Along with a couple of the new toys, the children, revived by food, quickly resumed playing. I was so glad not to be trying to host it in our house. You all ran and jumped screaming at the top of your lungs. There were only a couple of crashes, those crazy boys they like to play rough. Some of the parents, me at least, had a chance to sit and talk quietly planning play dates and canning bee’s. The other parents, mostly the darling husbands who are excellent fathers kept an eye on the kids. By the time people started to head out you were exhausted. Your, usually, favorite play mate kept touching your things and you were not your usual cheerful sharing self. How dare he want to play with you and your new ball. My, you get grouchy when you are tired.

We made it through clean up with out too many screaming fits as long as one of us held you at all times. We are not sure that we are going to let you have anymore birthdays, the fun and excitement is simply more than you can handle. You were sound asleep by the time we got home. Really, we are already planning next years party. I wish I had gotten more pictures but we were to busy having fun. Maybe I will get some posted another time, right now I am worn out and going to get some sleep.

Happy Birthday, our sweet little Goblin Child.