Friday, January 31, 2014


This afternoon I was cleaning the barn, the horses were out in the pasture so I had the gate leading out open a bit too much. The next thing I knew, Lady was in the barn and out the gate to freedom!

With her tail flying high, she made a couple of laps around the yard.

A detour into the shed to see what was in the Gater, nothing.

By the garden shed.... front of the garage......

.....across the yard......

....and back to the barn......

....because, dang it, it's not that fun to be free if you don't have any partners in crime!

She slowed down enough that I could coax her through the gate into their yard but had to beat back Chantilly and Spider who were chomping at the bit to get out.

Down the horse yard at a gallop with Chantilly in hot pursuit, past Lacey who was having an afternoon nap in the corn shuck pile.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Do you know how much I knead you?"

One of my favorite series of books is Chicken Soup for the Soul, especially the animal stories and I just picked up 'My Cat Stories' at a consignment store for 75 cents. One of the chapters is titled, "Do you know how much I knead you?" and it's all about how cats came into their owners lives. Many didn't plan on getting a cat but the cat chose them.

After our father died, we tried to get Mom a cat for company but she resisted. I had the perfect lap cat, Annabella but Mom said no. My sister, Sara, had the perfect lap cat, Angelina, Mom said no. But one day Mom opened her back door and small, black and white tuxedo cat walked into her house and announced that she could live there.

'Pretty Kitty' needed Mom as much as Mom needed her, when my sister took her to the vet for a checkup, they discovered she was very ill with a respiratory infection but was treated successfully and went home with pills. Kitty did not take kindly to the medicine and it took a neighbor, Dick, to come everyday and poke them down her throat. It takes a village to raise a sick cat.

We soon discovered that the mello Kitty was not so mello when she was well and she soon alienated everyone but Mom, who doted on her. Kitty was the child who could do no wrong. My brother, Tom, made her a scratching post and stool to sit on so she wouldn't tear up the furniture but that didn't stop her from working over the couch or chair. She played rough with Mom who soon sported scratches which concerned us. Kitty terrorized Rosanne's needy dog, Jr, and he carries those mental scars today.

Kitty could pull some disappearing acts that caused Mom much distress and sent me running to Whiting to search for her, but she always made her way back home. I had a feeling Kitty was hiding under the nearest bush and finally came out when she felt we had suffered enough.

As Mom's health declined, her ability to interact with people also declined and Kitty's temperament changed dramatically. She was the constant presence in Mom's life, it was a common sight to find them both in the rocking chair when I came to visit.

It was very traumatic for all when Mom could no longer live alone and had to move to the nursing home. Kitty could not go with her but a dear friend of the family had an apartment in the assisted living part and was happy to share it with Mom's cat. She adapted well to her new home and we could take Kitty next door to visit Mom. Mom did not adapt to the nursing home and within a week came down with pneumonia so we brought her home to live out her days. We brought Kitty home also and she took up residence on the hospital bed in the dining room, by the windows looking out on Mom's garden. Kitty stayed on the bed, only leaving it to eat and take care of her personal needs.

When Mom died, Kitty jumped off the bed and did not return. She became very upset with all the preparations that followed, so we tearfully returned her to Ione, it felt like I was saying goodbye to my little sister.  Ione was happy to have Kitty back but it wasn't long before she fell ill and went into the hospital so Rosanne took Kitty home with her. That was not a good situation, Kitty was very aloof and  Jr. was certain that every day would be his last. We found out Ione would not be returning to her apartment so we needed a permanent home for Kitty, she had been passed around long enough. Our nephew, Dale and wife, Cheryl, wanted Kitty to come live with them in Omaha and we all agreed it was a good solution. Kitty was welcomed like the prodigal child returning home at last and settled into her forever home. She shares the house with another cat and likes to sit on the porch and watch what is going on in the neighborhood but comes into the house when Cheryl calls her.

Considering what a snot Kitty started out to be, it was amazing how protective she became of Mom and how she adapted to being shuffled about much like a foster child. To know that she is in a loving home is a comfort to us all, this little cat has touched a lot of lives.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Zoe was in her favorite position tonight on the floor....

She lays on her back most of the time because she knows she is cute.

Zoe also knows it gets her out of trouble if she is being naughty.

Tonight, with -22 wind chill, I think she reveling in the fact that she is in a nice, warm house. She was doing the golpher look, with her feet curled on her belly......

.....when she sneezed, and all 4 feet shot into the air!!

Bruce and I burst out laughing, he said, "She's percolating!"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Clyde as a teacher.

Our special needs cat, Clyde, must be out of his teenage years. You know what it's like living with teenagers, they are slobs and don't care who knows it. Then they, well most, grow up and decide they no longer want to live in a pig sty.

Clyde's pig sty was his litter box, he didn't care what shape it was in, he would use it. Zoe found it appalling and averted her eyes and held her nose as she headed for the basement where she has 3 litter boxes to choose from and none are frequented by Clyde.

Clyde had a curious bathroom routine, after dropping an unusually pungent load, sometimes just as Bruce was eating breakfast, he races through the house, skittering and sliding in joy. I did not know a bodily function could be so liberating. That was usually my cue to go empty the litter box before we were overtaken by the fumes.

Lately though, I've noticed some unusual behavior, Clyde was in the downstairs bathroom, smelling the floor and wall and calling in the most mournful and deep voice, "MOWWWWW, MOWWWWW!" I carried him back to his litter box which he promptly used. I did change it then because it was rather nasty.

I use shredded newspaper for litter, it's cheap, free and bio degradable so I try to remember to change the litter frequently, usually my nose tells me but sometimes I put it off. One day last week Clyde started his fussing in the bathroom so I carried him to the litter box but found it in deplorable condition. I grabbed it and ran to the garage where I dumped the sorry mess in a dog food sack that I have for that purpose and raced back into the house. Clyde was on the rug where it sits, scratching a spot so I didn't stop to dust the box with baking soda, pulled the door open on the shredder and filled it with fresh newspaper. Clyde was humped and just ready to drop a load when I scooped him up and deposited him in the litter box. He staggered backwards. fell out of the box and landed bottom first into his waterer where a miniature tootsie roll fell into the water. As I was putting him back in the box, another fell on the rug beside the box. I steadied him until his equilibrium took over, then left him to the task at hand. Clyde stayed in the litter box quite awhile, probably trying to calm his racing heart,

 I cleaned his water bowl and put the other offending object in the litter box and took it back to the garage to clean it properly and get ready for the next round. It wasn't long in coming, I was in bed one evening when Clyde came upstairs and proceeded around our bedroom, sniffing walls and carpets and yowling.

"OH CRAP!" (Literally!) I jumped out of bed, scooped him up and headed downstairs, praying that Clyde had a firm grip on things. I found his litter box in bad shape so took it and him to the garage, I wasn't putting him down until I had the litter replaced. This time there were no accidents, Clyde must be getting used to the 'grab, dash and plop' scenario.

I do think Clyde will be glad to see green grass again because there is nothing more satisfying to him than using the great outdoors as a bathroom, as long as it's not too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, not at all rainy.

But for now, when Clyde speaks, I listen.

Friday, January 17, 2014

You just can't take some people anywhere!

Bruce and I are members of an exclusive club, 'The Three County Group', Mike and Beck live in Plymouth county, Anita and Chuck are in Sioux and we are in Cherokee. Restaurants in the area tremble when we walk in the door, causing much angst among the wait staff, actually it's just Chuck. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the terrible threesome had not been together for months and we had a lot to catch up on when we met at Germantown's bar, The Hideout, on Sat night.

We staked out a table in the corner of the back room, ordered up beverages and munchies and got down to business. Mike and Chuck try to outdo each other in the digs while Bruce attempts to keep peace. Beck, Anita and I tried to find out who decorated the least for Christmas and we all discussed such sensitive areas as showering together and 'shrinkage'. As the drinks flow we became increasingly certain we could fix all the world's problems including hair loss and halitosis.

There was a sign on the wall behind out table that in 2014 there were going to be prizes given away every night but no one working there seemed to know anything about it. We kept bugging our waitress about it and thought we should be the first ones but we got nothing. She did consent to take our picture for posterity.

We exchanged gifts and this lovely bottle was in Beck's gift bag. All I can say is, "Holly Nog, where have you been all my life!!!"

I emptied the bottle today and wished I had a giraffe's tongue to run it up inside the bottle and slurp out the dregs.

Anita made this delectable peppermint ice cream pie dessert and there isn't much left, YUM!

I gave them each a pan of frozen caramel rolls to bake for the Sunday breakfast, and some homemade beeswax hand cream and we reluctantly said our goodbyes, until next time. Besides the bar was turning out their lights, we took that as a hint.

And this photo proves that you just can't take some people anywhere.

This fine restaurant didn't have to fear their silverware would disappear but that $10.00 bottle of Heinz 57 sauce.....?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An Egg eating chicken, the scourge of a backyard flock!

Continued from craft-a-thon.....

As you know, I left Bruce in charge of my animal chores when I left for my sister's house. I do his chores every so often but he seldom does mine. He kept asking me in the days before what he needed to do and I kept telling him to just do chores with me Friday morning. That should have been the clue.

I tend to go over board on chore instructions, ask my brother in law, Foof, about the time he did chores when we were gone. Bruce's chore list was on a small tablet, mine was a page and a half of notebook paper.

"Now these horses go in the barn and get their breakfast, while these are outside and when everyone has eaten, then open all the doors.......the chickens need feed and sunflower seeds, don't forget to refill the water bowl.....the dogs and cats all have food, don't forget their water......"

I'm sure Bruce's eyes were rolling back in his head while he was thinking, "I'm positive I can keep them all alive for 24 hours!"

I told him the most important job I was entrusting to him was to get us an egg that day, not an easy job since I have discovered I have an egg eating hen in the coop. She has discovered that a pullet is laying in the pet carrier on the apartment floor, and got two eggs that week.

So I told him I was going to drape a gunny sack over the carrier and leave the door open to the apartment just wide enough for the hen to get through, hoping that would keep it dark and inconspicuous and avoid another catastrophe.

While I was gone, I wondered how Bruce was getting along, I knew he wouldn't go check as often as I do but was hoping he would be successful. When I got home Saturday and asked if he found an egg, he said no. I went out to the coop and found the apartment door was completely shut but, to my surprise, I found a lovely blue egg in one of the nests! YES!

That is where they are supposed to lay anyway and when she couldn't get to her old one, she decided to use the nest box. So I locked the apartment door and she has laid an egg every day since, always choosing the same nest. Today I watched her try out 2 others but this one must be 'just right.' This has also stopped the egg eater, the nest on the floor was just too tempting.
Bruce did such a good job that I will leave them all in his capable hands next month when the garden club ladies hit the road on a junking trip. As if we didn't have enough in our outbuildings and basement, come on, fess up!

And he has his buddy, Bruiser La'Rue to keep him company while doing the rounds.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


A few weeks ago, my niece, Nancy, decided to have a crafting weekend - at her mother's house! Sara was all for it and moved some furniture out so she could set up tables for each person. What a good Mama!

The first time Bruce and I were in Branson, we went to Jim Stafford's theatre where I caught a 'Cow Patty', anyone remember that song? His wife, Annie, had a little gift shop and I fell in love with her walls, they were all painted with trees, flowers and a picket fence all around. I have no painting talent so, unless I found something to help me out, I would never have a wall like that.

The next September, at the Clay County Fair, was a booth from St. Paul, MN called Beautiful Impressions and it was just what I was looking for!! There were kits with painting pads shaped as flowers, leaves, and birds with paint, video (that dates it!), and brochures to show how you too can have beautiful walls. I shelled out about $90 for every kit they had, you know they always give you a better deal if you buy the entire collection. And I wanted it all.

I brought home my kit and stashed it in the sewing room closet - where it stayed for several years. I got it out once in awhile and looked it over, viewed the video, again, and put it back. My plan was to paint the walls going upstairs and first they needed to be repainted.

I finally painted the walls and the kit still sat in my sewing room, I was too chicken to try it out on such a large surface. What if I goofed? Then I would have to repaint the walls. You will be happy to know, or not give a crap, but one day I took the kit to the basement and tried it out on an old window and it was fun. I painted another window and that was even more fun and then the kit went back to the sewing room for another extended stay.

Two years ago I decided to paint flowers on some cheap, white, Kmart tennis shoes for my Mom, my sister, and I and bought three pair. They sat in the sewing room and kept the paint kit company. I'm sorry to say my mother never did get her shoes before she died so I needed  find someone else who wears an 8 1/2 cheap, slip on tennis shoe. But realize they will always be Mom's shoes.

The invitation to a craft-a-thon with non-judgemental family members was just too good to pass up. It was time to sh*t or get off the pot, so to speak. I loaded my paints, brochures and 3 pair of shoes in my Land's End bag, some clean underwear, a tooth brush, my pill box (When did I start having a Pill Box for crying out loud??), camera and book in a duffel bag, a frozen pan of unbaked caramel rolls, slab of ham and a carton of blue, brown and pink eggs, compliments of Rosanne's and my girls, I didn't know the pig personally. I was in charge of breakfast in the morning.

I drove to Denison by way of Ida Grove and was wowed by the life size nativity scene in front of Byron Originals business.

I was the first one to arrive at Sara and Max's, Rosanne had giggly girls at her house and had to wait for hubby, Peter, to get home and Nancy was working till 6 or so. I was so busy looking at the frosty trees, I blew past the turn off to their house and pretty soon was in unfamiliar territory and then saw some smokestacks from Denison so had to retrace my steps.

Sara and I had the afternoon to work on our projects, I struggled, my shoes were not looking how I had imagined. Sara was working on a great scrapbook for a friend, she did say she hates to finish them because she never wants to give them away!

Rosanne and her faithful dog, Jr. arrived  with several bags bulging with paper, Cricut cartridges, punches, scissors, pens, glue sticks, lots of embellishments and something called Stickles, a glitter glue. I was really surprised she didn't pull a packhorse out of the car laden with all her treasures. She does have a method to her madness and was soon set up working on a Christmas album.

Nancy's husband, Frank and son, Joshua, brought all her scrapbooking stuff  during the day so she could get right to work when she arrived. Between her and Rosanne, they looked like they were settling in for weeks instead of a weekend.

Sara just had to run upstairs to her craft room for more supplies.

I looked like poor relation with my measly Lands End bag.

Saturday morning found Rosanne, still in her pajama's, working away.


Nancy arrived shortly after I crawled out of bed embarrassingly late.

Sara's husband, Max, took refuge in their bedroom so he could watch basketball in peace.

And faithful, Jr., hogged the couch ticking off aging Sophia, their cat, who then spent the day upstairs.

He wants to stay close to his Mama because she has left him a time or two and he's very nervous when she gets up and moves around.

After our late breakfast, I set to work on the last pair of shoes, trying something I read in Donna Dewberry's painting book and finally, I liked what what they looked like. Third time was a charm.

The unveiling, the pair on the left are the first ones I did, Mom's shoes, the middle pair I royally screwed up but was able to cover some of my mistakes and the ones on the right, I'm happy with. I haven't finished the one but I will.

Rosanne tried to get me to Stickle the shoes I wasn't that crazy about, she said Stickles cure everything!

I might have to try that later.

Nancy was right when she said if I hadn't been sequestered in the craft-a-thon, I might have given up and never finished the other shoes.

Nancy is quite wise.

It was a great time, we had plenty of food, wine and chocolate, important but I had left Bruce in charge of my animals and I was ready to go home and see everyone.

To be continued.......


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mollie's new toy

Today we needed to go to town to replenish the larder and we never seem to be able to pass by Bomgaars without stopping in. The one thing we needed, a new wood stove grate, they didn't have but they had lots of other bargains, it's that time of year.

In the clearance aisle is the 'Babble Ball' a talking pet toy, it sounds kind of like the Chipmnks everytime it gets jostled. All the way home, in the back seat, it kept us entertained with giggles, "Uh Oh!, Oh NO!, Look Alive!, Hot Diggety Dog!, Oh, Ya Got me!, La, La, La, La, Ya Baby," and other  nonsensical babbling. I was thinking of just keeping it for us. It was great value for $4.00.

We first tried it out on Clyde and Zoe, Clyde was freaked, he wanted nothing to do with it. Zoe stalked it and, when it quit rolling and chattering, tentatively tapped it with her paw but wasn't as impressed as we had thought they would be.

Mollie was totally befuddled with her first contact with it.

"Did anyone else  hear something?"
"I SWEAR this ball is talking!!"

"Can someone help me out here??"

Mollie finally decided a ball was a ball and should be retrieved, even if it was a freaky talking ball.

And anything her best buddy Bruce wants to play with, Mollie is game.

She will stand on her head for Bruce.

She will leap with joy for Bruce.

"This thing really does talk!"
Anything for her Bruce.

Zoe looks on in disgust.

"No self respecting cat would be caught dead chasing a ball like that, especially with all the dog slobber on it."

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Is it COLD enough for you??"

When I was a city carrier, a job I truly detested, and we had a cold blast, that phrase was what I heard more often than I can say from people inside their nice warm home as they opened their door to tug the mail from my frozen hand. Depending on the time of day and how many times I had already heard it, was how I formulated my reply, sometimes I was a bit surly.

The weather man has been telling us more than a week that we are in the path of a polar vortex and they were right. (How come, in the middle of the summer, when we are dry as a bone, that same weather man can give us a 90% chance of rain and it doesn't? Not Fair! Foul!!)

The temps started dropping precipitously Sunday afternoon as the sharp north wind picked up. Bruce was fighting a freezing fountain, yes, the darned fountain again. He was also doing up as many chores for the next day as he could for me since he was going to leave early for a farm meeting. We hunkered down in the house and listened to all the dire warnings of -20 by morning.

So how cold was it and how do we and the animals cope with it?

If you believed our pretty outdoor thermometer, you wouldn't be so cold. Unfortunately I had punched up the weather on our TV and found it to be -13, not as bad as predicted.

It was so cold, that Zoe, who doesn't like to use a litter box in the house, raced to her 'spot' and did her duty in double time and was ready to go back in the house.

"Dig, dig, measure, dig some more."

"Ahhhhhh, the pause that refreshes!"

The chickens were on the roost, basking under their heater which is turned on only in extreme weather. A thick layer of straw on the floor is great insulation.

Lucy has found Mollie's heated pad in her dog house and is now a permanent resident. Mollie has to arrange herself about Lucy and Stinky.

The cattle deal with this weather with full bellies, their corn with dried distillers grains starts the day out right. Then it's onto the feeders full of corn stalks and hay.

It was so cold that Bruce went over at 4:30 AM and covered the problem fountain with a tarp to try and keep it from freezing. It worked wonderfully, when I pulled it off, both sides were open,
WOO HOO! Victory!

The horses coped with the cold by having breakfast inside today, out of the wind and they got along very well. A few minor skirmishes but no knock down and drag out fights.

And it was so cold, our over exuberant  Mollie poked her head out of her house to see who was driving in.

"Oh, it's just you."

"We'll talk later, okay?"

Tell me how you handled the weather, if you spent the day in the basement by the fireplace and you know who you are!

I nearly forgot, it was so cold I put my pajamas under the covers of our bed, where they will be toasty warm when the electric mattress pad timer comes on.