10 October 2014

Major Conundrum

So, it seems that when I get pregnant I redo our library. Did I not mention I was pregnant? That’s probably because all five people who read this already know and there doesn’t seem much point in mentioning it again. Anyway.

When I got pregnant with The Goblin Child I cleaned and painted the one spare room to make a library downstairs, theoretically so we could bring my books down leaving room upstairs to put all the stuff (junk) that was in our soon to be nursery. Now that we are doing this kid thing again our downstairs library is going to have to go so we can add a new nursery. This is very sad for both of us, although it should mostly be for me the room is full and my scholar of a husband is yet to include any of his vast selection of books to the mix.

Our upstairs is not an upstairs like a second floor in a normal modern house. It is more of an attic requiring going nearly outside, onto the back porch and up to a narrow room squeezed into the peak of the roof . We treat it as an attic, a handy place to store the things we should get rid of and the treasures that there is simply no room for down in the living quarters of our tiny closetless house. Baby clothes currently not in use, Christmas decorations, heirlooms with too much sentimental value to get rid of but no earthly use, things like that.

We rented a storage unit in town and hauled as much stuff as we could in, leaving us with clear access to half of one of the two rooms. The goal was simple, paint the walls and pull up the shag carpet keeping the well worn, vintage linoleum. After painting the salmon colored walls it became clear that the ceiling was not cream colored but lemon yellow and HAD to be painted too, no problem just going to need a little more paint. The pee green carpet pulled up easy enough revealing a little more wear on the linoleum then the sides had shown, not a big deal but I also found a corner where the linoleum pulled easily away from the beautiful wood floor underneath. We had talked about pulling it and going with the wood but didn’t want to chance it being glued like the kitchen, which I  have not finished yet. Hey, life got in the way what with summer, gardening, being pregnant and a small change in priorities that require a nursery before a finished kitchen floor. Once you get used to it you hardly notice the glue patches that I couldn’t get up. Ok so we live like red necks, what ever.

The linoleum came up easy as could be, until I got to the seam. Not that it came up hard after that but the wood floor underneath changed considerably. Unlike the soft whit washed finish of the rest of the floor is suddenly looked varnished and well worn maybe even sanded in spots. I don’t believe it was. I happen to know that when the house was built wood floors were horribly out of style and the owners covered them as quickly as possible with the previously discussed linoleum. Leaving us, luckily, with  the equivalent of brand new wood floors. The floor up there doesn’t look any different from the rest of the house. There doesn’t seem to be a drop of finish, the white wash I think is left over from plastering the walls and not caring that any dropped on those tacky wood floors they were going to cover immediately after they finished the walls. So what caused the varnished look?

I theorize that it could have been water damage. The roof on that side leaked considerably before we tinned it. Could water have soaked through the linoleum and caused it to leach something onto the the wood beneath? Could they have used pre-used lumber for the floor? I have seen barns built of everything from used fence posts and telephone poles to paneling from old houses with the wall paper still intact. Our forefathers were resourceful.

I suppose the cause is beside the point, now I need to figure out what to do with it. I would really like the floor to stay softly white washed. I like the whole room in white. Do I need to sand the parts that are good? Do we have to finish it like the other floors we have redone downstairs? I would like it to stay not shiny. It is going to need something though right? As I did mention I am pregnant. I am also the only one with any time to spare, hah time to spare what a joke, and with the whole pregnant thing I can’t be inhaling too many fumes.

Do I try to sand and match the varnished looking parts to match the good parts? Or do we leave them and call it character?  After all it is just our attic, even with our library up there, no matter how beautiful I envision it being when finished,  how often will anybody see it? If we continue to pack it as full as it was before its slight remodel not much of the floor will be visible any way.

So dad, what do I do?

6 October 2014


My hard working farmer husband spent the weekend getting the combine into running shape. Corn harvest is right around the corner and wheat harvest was hard on the poor thing. There were a few major breakdowns that they were able to baby along and make it through with but needed fixed before running again.

Friday and Saturday we (The Goblin Child and I ) worked around the house and were glad to see him for meals, Sunday afternoon we went to visit them.

The Goblin Child was so glad to be helping her dad. She climbed into his lap and offered him tools and assistance. He was crouched awkwardly under the side of the combine trying to hold a light and replace parts while his father stood to the side and offered advice. He didn’t kill any of us.

He very patiently let the child help even getting her more toys (nuts and bolts) for her to play with. Come to think of it he spent most of the weekend letting her “help” him.

1 October 2014


Some people do these things regularly. The rest of both my husbands and my families for example. They head off to spend weekends doing whatever fun things people do without gardens and animals and other family that need taken care of. We managed to escape last weekend for that once, or twice, a year trek to see my family!

We loaded the child and as many pumpkins in the car as we could fit and headed south. On the way down we explored Kansas, a state at least as unappreciated as Nebraska. My farmer husband comes from a long line of farmers that moved up to where we are now from the tiny town of Lost Springs Kansas. Or somewhere in the vicinity of. So we sought it out. It was in a beautiful area with lots of rolling hills and trees.

The town of Lost Springs itself was… Interesting.

Not much remained, an empty school and some formerly beautiful houses. A herd of dogs laying in the street to greet visitors and many derelict falling down buildings. Many of them still inhabited.

Missouri was as beautiful as ever. Even if we were still to early for the leaves to be changing. But most important we got to see the Greatest Grandma and the other Grandma, second greatest I’m sure. The whole family to be exact. The Goblin Child was getting a little cranky about the car ride by the time we arrived, it is possible that she wasn’t the only one, but as soon as we pulled into the driveway she jumped out of the car and went to playing with her cousin as though they saw each other ever day. Of course she was immediately infatuated by her uncle Justin, a funner uncle and father I have never seen.

We rushed around all weekend doing fun things, we ate at Lamberts, home of the throwed rolls( I believe one of us could’ve eaten a whole meal of fried okra), rode the Ducks ( I was afraid we were going to lose the child into the water for sure, she was really trying) went to see Jonah (absolutely awesome, even if the child didn’t make it through the whole show) and spent a day at Silver Dollar City ( no roller-coasters for me or Stephanie this time). It was great, it went to fast. With so many things to do it seemed like there was never enough time to sit and visit. Seeing each other so seldom I suppose there is never enough time to spend together.

All to soon the time came for us to head home. tearful good byes were said and reluctant children loaded into car seats as we head home. The whole first day of travel The Goblin Child wanted to know where Justin was. I’m sure she missed everybody else too but she loved Justin mostest. We managed to find fun things to do on the trip home, a night spent in Nebraska City, at Leid Lodge no less, where we spent a days worth of pent up energy swimming in their beautiful pool. and a quick mosquito laden stop at one of the apple orchards.

As always, if only there was more time. There is always more family we would like to see and more time we would like to spend with the family we get to see. Maybe next time. I’m ready to go again already.

Wood working at Silver Dollar City
Wood working at Silver Dollar City


There were all sorts of animals on stage during Jonah. Cattle, birds, a camel, one very well trained donkey, I loved watching for the well hidden cues they gave him, and horses. The horses were so well trained and behaved beautifully. The noise and crowds didn’t bother them at all and most interesting to me was that they were Arabs, not a Quarter horse in sight. Loved it.

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.