Friday, November 27, 2015


  1. the expression of gratitude, especially to God: 
Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day and we celebrated with the Lundquist family where we had turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and all the rest of the trimmings, eating ourselves into a coma. Before the meal it is tradition to hold hands in a circle and say what you are thankful for. Most were a form of being thankful for family, some for the food we were about to partake. The list in my head was so long, I had to shorten it to family and good health.

From the time the news of my diagnosis of lymphoma was known, I received numerous cards and letters from well wishers. Some from people I had never met but they knew someone who knew me and that I was in desperate need of prayers. I have saved all those cards and letters in a tin box that was part of a gift package from a good friend. Yes, you get presents when people learn you are seriously ill, this one contained a bottle of wine but unfortunately Murphy beat me to it because we weren't home and it was left on the porch. The bottle of wine shattered on the cement step and ran down the back where a toad lived, I hope he enjoyed it. Others sent gift cards, prayer shawls, homemade candy, Sherri's Berries, a care package full of essentials from another cancer survivor, and comfy lounging clothes for those down days. And then there was  the food! From the garden club members, neighbors, friends and our church family, it was overwhelming.

The tin box has been in residence on top of the tv for the last year and it was time to purge, I'm trying to do that all over the house and this seemed a good place to start! I sat in our quiet kitchen and read each one all over again, some made me laugh and some made me cry. 

The friends, there more than one, who regularly sent cards just to let us know they were thinking of us and later celebrating with us.

The totally unexpected note from a lady I barely knew but we had spent a couple of hours together in a tornado shelter waiting out a storm.

The family members who drove at least 6 hours out of their way to deliver some care packages and hugs of encouragement during a particularly low period.

The sister and a neighbor of another family member who sent such lovely cards and letters, a complete surprise.

A nephew who lives in the electronic age, who cared enough to find a card, write a note and mail it, that made me cry even though it was a funny card.

The little girl who belonged to the TLC club in a Storm Lake after school program, where they made colorful get well cards and delivered them to the oncology department at the BV hospital. When I felt better I wrote back to Kayla in care of the school and I later received letters from both her and her teacher. Her teacher thanked me for writing back to Kayla, that it told her she made a difference in someones life. That she was important.

Never underestimate the power of a card, whether you let the card say what is in your heart, or along with a heartfelt letter. I recently visited my former co-worker who has  been challenged by a life changing illness herself. She said the out pouring of love from everyone has been humbling and she is going to remember that when others are in need of encouragement.

I was at the bottom of the box, the only things left were some dead bugs and dust bunnies and fond memories. The urge was strong to hang onto the cards but I was stronger, I shredded the appropriate material for Clyde's litter box and used the rest to build a fire in the wood stove. You will be happy to learn that they not only warmed our hearts, they warmed our bodies.

And I can't even put it into words what they did for Clyde.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I spy, with my little round eye, something hairy and dangly...

That sounds like something either naughty or creepy and it was neither, instead it is adorable and I wonder if it is a hummingbird nest?

I was captivated this fall with the hummingbirds I had at my feeders, I spent a lot of time on the patio watching their aerial antics.

Last night was going out to shut up the chickens and something high up in the locust tree caught my attention, I could tell it was made out of horse tail hair and it was dangling from a branch. Too high to reach with the ladder but today Bruce brought the loader over to split wood for the stove. After we unloaded it into the garage I directed him to the tree and hopped into the bucket.

"Going up!"

It was higher than the loader would reach but I managed to pull down the branch and then snag the tiny nest that had fallen from it's place in the tree and was hanging by a thread.

It measures 2 1/4" across on the outside and 1 3/4" on the inside, made by intricately weaving horse hair that I combed from their manes and tails. Around the outside are some grasses and even a couple of strands of the netwrap that Bruce uses when he bales hay.

I tried to compare it to some common household items, a mini beany chicken, the sewing tape measure and a magnet off the refrigerator.

Then I held it in the palm of my hand and bugged Bruce to take a picture of it while he was engrossed in the State Football championship game that he was watching on the internet because it wasn't televised. He went along with it and got this picture but when he tried to do it straight now, the camera acted up and he went back to the game.

I managed to get a photo of the inside without him and wondered if it truly was a hummingbird who made this, it had to be an awfully small bird.

When I was watching the hummingbirds, I saw a couple of juveniles that weren't too sure of themselves, could they have hatched right here in my backyard?

If someone out there is an expert on bird nests, feel free to chime in but you can bet next year I will have the feeders out early and all summer, hoping to attract more hummingbirds.

I'll also probably have a permanent crick in my neck from looking up in the trees. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How cold was it last night in Iowa?

Cold enough that Larry Jr. sacrificed his dignity for warmth!

And the hen looks none too happy about the whole thing.

You've heard the old adage, "Marry a big woman, shade in the summer, warmth in the winter."

Larry has himself a big one.

Friday, November 20, 2015

♫We are the Champions, my friend....♫

But first, we must go back to the first of this week when we were expecting to work cattle bright and early Monday morning. Late Sunday afternoon I brought out the Kitchen Aid and mixed up a batch of caramel rolls, raised and rolled, spread with butter, sugar, cinnamon and a touch of brown sugar. (I did that once because I didn't have much cinnamon and Bruce pronounced them the best he had ever eaten so I've kept it up.) Then I rolled them into a log and cut into halfway equal pieces and place them in a pan with more butter and brown sugar, yum, yum! Then they went into the refrigerator and when I woke up in the night, I went downstairs and pulled them out to raise, went back to bed and got up early to bake. 

For some reason I never get a good nights sleep when I'm baking rolls for morning but the guys appreciate them. I have a feeling if I didn't provide rolls, we would have a revolt on our hands and I'm not taking any chances.

Then we awoke to rain, heavy rain, downpour rain, soaking everything and everyone and resulting in a cancellation of the cattle working. With rain in the forecast through Wednesday, our appointment was rescheduled bright and early Friday morning. Snow was forecast but not starting till 1 PM so I wrapped the rolls in aluminum foil and put them in the freezer.

Thursday was supposed to be the best day but we had a date at the UniDome in Cedar Falls to watch our hometown team play for the 8 man football championship!! Three years ago in their first 8 man team, they played and won, great celebrations spread throughout the land!! The next two years they made it to the semi-finals but couldn't quite do it. Next year we will enter a whole grade sharing with Remsen Union and will be back to 11 man football, this was their last chance and they went into the semi-finals undefeated and won that game the Thursday before.

MMC and Don Bosco played the first game at 10:10 so that meant I had to drag my sorry butt out of bed at 5 AM to get the horses fed and turned out before we left. When the alarm went off, I groaned, "And who thought THIS was a good idea??" Bruce, bouncing out of bed, wide awake, (it's just disgusting, I tell you!) said, "Oh, it will be alright." But the joke was on me, the horses were nowhere to be found and who could blame them? Their usual breakfast time was no earlier than 8 and sometimes as late as 9:30.

We set off from home, stopping in Meriden to pick up Grassy, after one stop for food and a bathroom break, we arrived at the dome just before kickoff. The wind was blowing up a gale and it was COLD!! (I have to admit I was glad we weren't home working cattle.) Mother Nature was promising a big snow, now beginning in the morning, for us so along the way Bruce called the vet clinic to reschedule to yet another day and the only one we could get was next Wed afternoon. 

Our boys started cold, 'The Dons', as the announcer called them had 14 points on the board before The Eagles regrouped and went on a 30 unanswered point run. We were ecstatic, yelling, jumping up and down, high fiving and letting our boys know how proud we were.

This little girl was cheerleading with her friends, the only camera I had was the cell phone so most of my photos didn't turn out.

Then 'The Don's' regrouped and started scoring again, almost catching up, but our boys would score again to stay ahead. It was a hard fought battle, our team had 21 players to the 38 of the opposing team, our boys never gave up, even though they had to be exhausted. In the end, only 5 points separated the two teams and our boys were the champions!

Bruce and Grassy wanted to stay for another game, I had my Kindle with a book loaded so I was okay but that game was becoming a blowout so we left. On the way home we stopped at Sac City to eat at The Cattleman's restaurant who won the best burger in IA in 2011. I had to try it, the mushroom swiss burger and was not disappointed and was very, very full when we left.

We were coming up L-51, nearly to Meriden when suddenly we saw first fireworks and then lots of red and blue flashing lights. The fire departments from Marcus, Meriden and Cleghorn with support from the Sheriff Dept. met our boys coming home and paraded them through the towns so we joined in the parade!! Bruce was honking his horn and laughing like a kid again, making as much noise as he could! People came out of their houses and lined the streets for the impromptu parade and our boys, riding in style in a luxury bus that the Marcus Action Club sprung for, got to see the community pride in them.

We all ended up at the high school gym where different leaders in the school and community spoke of their admiration of the hard work that the boys and their coaches put into becoming a championship team.

Their head coach, Kyle, who looks like such a kid himself, gave an impassioned speech about how hard everyone worked and the disappointments they faced in other years. He told the boys that they didn't do it by themselves, that God was certainly present to help them along and if they thought they could do it alone, they were mistaken.

The gym erupted in cheers, clapping and whistles, ACLU - STUFF IT!!! It was getting late but people weren't in any hurry to leave the gym, we talked to several people before finally leaving for home.

Mother Nature was good to her word, we woke up to a winter wonderland, a sudden awakening to all the things I had not done yet. Like cover the gazebo, with 8 inches and a now, winter storm warning looming, it was time. I had to drag out the ladder, find the tarps and the bunge cords, Zoe, no more gazebo time this year. 

(But, as I turn around to see her keeping me company, something tells me she's not going to let it keep her awake at night.)

Not to be outdone, our temps are going to plunge, so tank heaters and heated water bowls had to be found and installed, other waterers dumped and put away till next spring.

We had a bit of lull in the snow right before noon, giving us a false promise of it ending but it was just Mother Nature jerking our chain. The snow and wind picked up, now the visibility is down to about a quarter mile, we are snug in the house with plenty of corn and wood to keep the home fires burning. Our animals are all well fed and watered and some even have heated beds.

All is right with the world.....

....except for an annoying drip at the top of the stairs.....

....that my big strong hubby investigated and discovered it was snowing in our attic!!!!

Upon further investigation, he found a small hole at the peak of the roof and plugged it, what the hey? I thought our metal roof was supposed to stop any problems?

So once more, we are snug and warm and drip free, and all is right with the world.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thoughts of our French Family and other wanderings of my mind.

I'm sure you all are as heartsick as I am about the tragic events that the cowardice terrorists brought upon Paris last weekend. Our entire family immediately thought of Jean-Pierre Deagostini and his family who live in France. I did not have JP's current email but my sister in law, Mary Ellen did and emailed him right away. 

Years ago my parents decided to host a foreign student for a month one summer and by the luck of the draw, they received Jean-Pierre. He became one of the family, we all fell in love with him and he with us. Over the years our parents, my oldest sister, Sara and hubby, Max and Denny and Mary Ellen all traveled to Europe different times to visit JP and his family who had come and visited us. JP came one summer and traveled all over the western US with one family member or another in their campers.

JP loved to come out to my acreage and ride horses, here he is on my gelding, Spook.

Then one summer he came with his new wife, Valerie, and about 8 months later they had their first daughter, Emeline and a few years later, twin daughters, Marion and Celia`. We heard on Sunday that all of the family was fine, although his oldest daughter, Emeline and her boyfriend had tickets to a concert on Monday night (tonight as I write this) at the same venue where so many innocent people were slaughtered. 

He wrote "But life has to go on, we will not change our way of living, otherwise, the terrorists would have win!
Fights against terrorist organisations (and our protection measures) will carry on...
I attach one of the latest family picture to finish on a more joyful note..."

As I was digging around in my pictures tonight, trying to find the one of JP and Spook that I knew I had, I kept finding other pictures that I had forgotten and things that I'd clipped to save and felt I needed to end this on a bit of levity.

So in no particular order....

 Mom, lower left, me upper left and Rosanne, upper middle, at a garden party with a prize for the best garden hat. Mom won hands down, Rosanne with her biker bride helmet was a close second.

Our twin boys, Smitty and Spike, orphaned at a car wash in town when their mother was killed. As soon as I heard about it, I had to bring them home. They were best buds, always entwined as they slept, it was hard to know where one left off and the other began.

Smitty sleeping in a basket of clean clothes, see his 'mitten paws?'

He was 'pouring' out of the basket, I should be so limber.

I had a plastic chicken, orange, sitting in the flower bed. Videlia, was walking by her one day, turned around, went back and proceeded to kick the crap out of her!

"You stupid chicken, all you do is stand there all day!"

She started to walk away, turned around and gave her another few kicks just for good measure!

Videlia was 20 years old when she died, and once in a while she would still lay a blue egg.

Around my 40th birthday, my family was camping at Blue Lake by Onawa and Bruce and I went down to visit. Peter, my brother in law, had a recumbent bike that I tried to ride but was unsuccessful. To keep me from getting all banged up, Rosanne, Tom and Sue duct taped pillows to my arms and legs, and slapped a helmet on my head.

Don't I look like one of those 'special kids'??

Rosanne held me up.... 

....gave me a push, I frantically pedaled.....


I was not cut out to ride such a creation but thanks to the pillows, I didn't get hurt.

Then I ran across this........
......AWWWWWW!! See why I keep him around!

(But I never cashed it!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Today is Veteran's Day, a day set aside to honor our veterans and active members of the military, but every day should be Veteran's Day. The first thing every morning we should thank those who have served and those in harms way for the freedoms that we take for granted. 

Bruce's golfing partner, Leo, his son, Tom, who served three tours overseas and his two daughters, Peyton, on the right, and Lilly brought us a wonderful present. A flag pallet that we set up in front of the barn.

Bruce saw the pallet the three painted for Leo and Theresa this summer when he was picking up Leo for their weekly golf outing and admired it. It is beautiful and really shows up when you drive in.

After taking pictures of the girls and their creation, they discovered the barn and Bruiser, what kid can resist playing in a barn full of hay bales.

The dogs were delighted to play with them and knocked them down several times.

The pair is standing on the room of my tack shed, contemplating jumping to the bales below, I told them it's just like dance class. Go for it!

Peyton was the first to go.....

....Lilly followed her big sister's lead....

....and landed none too gracefully. They had a ball, Tom finally had to haul them out or they would have stayed all day.

Before they left, they wanted to see the chickens so I rounded up some chicken treats for them to give out.

It was a fun morning, they can't wait to come back again and the dogs took a well deserved nap.

I salute you, Tom K., brothers, Tom, David and Denny, brother in law, Max, nephew, Mark, great nephew, Jesse, brother in law, John R., hubby Bruce (who was in reserves but never thinks of himself as veteran), friend, Elizabeth and all the other unnamed people who unselfishly gave their time to protect us.

Thank you.

Thank a veteran today.

Edited to add words of wisdom from Bruce, we were out stacking split wood, listening to a Veteran's Day program on the radio. He said, "Now, more than ever people need to be thankful to live here, looking at all the chaos in the world."


Sunday, November 8, 2015

The little shed that could..... useful once again!

This is the story of a little white shed that resided on the outskirts of the small town of Larrabee, while kids were growing up it was a playhouse, a fort, a library and when the kids outgrew it, a junk catcher. I was listening to 'Swap Shop' one day, a free service on our local radio station to buy, sell or giveaway unwanted items and heard the shed advertised to give away.

FREE?? I love FREE!!

I hot-footed it to Larrabee to check out the little shed, it has it's issues but was structurally sound. My niece, Kaiza, was a little girl and I envisioned making it into a playhouse for her, I was very excited! I hired a local guy to move it to the farm, right in front of Leo's shop for easy building, for the mere pittance of $50.

And it sat......well, you just don't jump in without a plan. And boy did I have plans! I wanted to put in a loft and a little seating area with a cute little table and chairs I purchased. I also bought a cute little cabinet to hold all of Kaiza's treasures while she was playing in her playhouse.

But first the roof needed to be replaced, I procrastinated, I wasn't a carpenter so I guess I kept thinking that some night the fairies would magically appear and put a new roof on it, it didn't happen. I still had plans, I just knew it would make the cutest playhouse but then reality struck. I came to the conclusion that Kaiza was not the type of kid to play by herself. She would not use the playhouse like I imagined.

So it day my oldest sister, Sara and hubby, Max were here, Sara spotted the playhouse and fell in love with it. Their great granddaughter, Hannah, would LOVE it. I thought about it, for a total of 10 seconds and said, yes, Hannah could have the playhouse. We loaded it onto their trailer and away the little white shed went to Denison.

Where it got a new roof and skids underneath to facilitate moving, and then it sat. Another two years went by, Hannah grew up and out of the playhouse mode so Sara and Max asked me if I wanted it back. How could I refuse, it would make a cute garden shed, they loaded it back on the trailer and brought it here. I leveled a spot in the back yard, put down bridge planks for it it set on and Bruce carefully moved it into place.

Where it sat, it had a new roof but still needed new siding, windows and door. I'm still not a carpenter so I procrastinated more, two years more. We were planning on going out to WI so my chore girl, Jillian, drove over to go through chores with me. She has a small flock of chickens and they needed a coop upgrade. She was telling me about a coop made of pallets she saw on Pinterest and was trying to get her dad, Tim, to build it. After she left, I looked over at my little shed and the lightbulb went on. I called Tim and said I had their new coop should he accept the challenge. He came over the next night, I pointed out the good, new roof and skids, the bad, and the just plain ugly in other places. He couldn't accept it soon enough, he said trying to build a coop out of pallets was a nightmare!

As soon as we had a break in the farming, Bruce loaded the little shed on the pallet forks of the tractor....

....well, he tried to load from the front but the pallet forks were trying to pop out the floor so we went to plan B. He loaded from the side and that worked well except he was driving blind! We only had about a mile of gravel so I drove the gator along side and guided him.

We met our neighbor, another Tim, mowing the roadside so of course we had to stop and talk, meanwhile taking up half the road with the shed. Finally someone else came along so Tim had to turn around the mow the other direction and we continued on.

Tim wanted the shed parked by the garage to make it easy access to tools and power, Jaylene just shook her head. She said it would still be sitting there next spring, she of so little faith!!

The next day I drove past their house on the way to town and the little shed was already looking better, the worst end had new siding on it and the door in that I took over. I was so impressed! Tim really went to town, he put new siding on each side, Jillian painted, new windows were put in and the entire shed insulated inside with new nest boxes. It was ready for occupancy.

Last week we took the tractor over to move it to it's permanent location. This time we knew it had to be loaded from the side.

Up and away....

....Bruce carried his precious load with me directing the little shed to it's final resting place.

Jillian was grinning from ear to ear and not just because her boyfriend was here to celebrate the auspicious occasion.

Bruce and I were just as happy, me that I no longer had to look at the unfinished building and Bruce, that he could breath a sigh of relief that one day I wouldn't say, "Oh, honey.......!!

And I have no doubt the little red shed is happy also, it's useful once again, not sitting out with the weather with wind blowing through the windows and the holes in the siding.

It does have to put up with chicken poop but there are trade-offs to everything.