Tuesday, February 24, 2015

♫Oh, I WISH I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner....♫

Bruce and I were coming home from Sioux City tonight and right outside of Hinton, we saw the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile!!!!

So be alert, those of you on south, it could be coming to a city near you!!!!

Clyde - 3 -- Zoe - 0

We have been overrun with mice this winter, they scurry in the wall, run laps in the ceiling, visit under the sinks and leave their nasty droppings and sometimes come face to face with one of the three cats in the house.

If you were a mouse, who would you fear most? Zoe, who has all her faculties and keeps a sharp lookout for enemies who invade her domain?

Who believes the best way to catch a bird is to try to blend in on the roof of the bird feeder?

Who practices her wrestling moves on the other cats?

Who stays in shape climbing trees?

Who runs a tight ship keeping the dogs in line?

"You don't understand the concept of personal space, do you Mollie?"

Who does Yoga everyday?

This is called, 'Upside down Cat.'

Who practices her moves on the Turbo Go Round, perfecting the rabbit kicks?

And still manages to get several 'cat' naps a day to refresh her.

Or would you fear Clyde, who was accidentally poisoned as a baby and has suffered a severe case of palsy every since? 

Clyde spends his days searching out the best spot to nap.

While Zoe is patrolling the great outdoors, Clyde is keeping an eye on the back yard from the upstairs bedroom.

And spends winter days keeping the couch from getting up and walking away.

With a time out for a snack and another nap in the nearby rocker.

Well, if you put your money on Zoe, you would be wrong, yes, she can catch a mouse but can't do the dirty deed. All she wants to do is play with them and inevitably loses them. The last one was just a couple of mornings ago, Bruce and I were rudely awakened at 5 AM by a "Squeak, squeak, squeak!" By the time Bruce got the light on, Zoe was searching our bedroom, "He was here just a minute ago!" Oh, man, Zoe, not again. This is the third mouse that we have seen Zoe have and lose in the house and this one was way too close to our bed. I didn't want to wake up with a disease ridden mouse curled up in bed with us!

Clyde, on the other hand, gets so excited, "It's a REAL LIVE MOUSE!" The mouse doesn't stand a chance, Clyde chomps and dispatches the little vermin in one, swift, fatal blow. He makes the attempt to clean up the scene by eating the evidence but he just can't stomach the hind quarters. Luckily for me, Bruce is the first one up, found the evidence on the kitchen floor and gotten rid of it, much to Clyde's dismay.

"I was playing with that!"

And Ghost?

Where is she in the mousing department?

"I'm not eating no stinking mouse, I know where the bowl of cat chow is."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Things that make us happy

Today was the Spencer Ag show, something we go to every year, I woke up feeling like a new person so, after my daily shot, we headed north. There are speakers, agricultural displays, a great lunch and lots of giveaways. You have to be there to win so we stayed to the bitter end, they were drawing for 25# of meat from the Ruthven locker and drew two names, neither one who claimed it and the third time was a charm for me!


Even better was that the prize was not for 25# but 50#!!  Ruthven was only about 12 miles east of Spencer, we would never be so close, it was open until 5 so away we went and claimed my winnings in hamburger, about 10#!!!

See Brucie smile???

There isn't much Bruce loves more than a big juicy hamburger and we were getting a little low in that department in my quest to empty the freezer. I know what we are having for dinner tomorrow.

On the way home we came into the little town of Petersen and had to slow down for a herd of deer who were tromping through town as though they owned it. I didn't have my camera but did have my tablet and finally got a few pictures.

They were very cooperative and stayed around while I fumbled with the tablet and wished I had my camera. That's it, I'm never leaving home without it! They are neat to watch but I can only imagine how tough it would be to try and garden with this gang terrorizing the town.

It was just getting dark when we finally arrived home and I went to the chicken house to gather eggs and put the chickens to bed. The girls are really stepping up these days, I found all these eggs in one nest and not a one was frozen.

My two little Serama girls are finally laying.....

....these tiny little snack eggs.

 Hardboiled, sprinkled with Cookies seasoning, served on a Club cracker with mayo, celery with peanut butter, a few almonds, grapes and a glass of wine.....


And that is what makes me happy, tonight, tomorrow will bring a whole round of other things, stay tuned.

Feel free to tell me what makes you happy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day musings

Valentines day is hyped up, to make people, mostly men, feel guilty if they don't get their significant other that giant, 6 ft. Vermont Teddy Bear, or that sexy lingerie, or at least run into HyVee and pick a ready made flower bouquet and/or a box of chocolates off the ample display right inside the front door. Anyone would have to be unconscious to miss it. 

I was asked once about how I felt about Valentine's Day and I said it wasn't as important as how you are treated every other day of the year. It's easy to feel warm and loving toward your spouse while vacationing on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai, golfing next to the ocean, without a care in the world.

Or feeding the collection of peacocks at a tourist trap where Bruce shelled out 50 cents for a handful of corn, all the while thinking of his bins full at home.

True love is when your hubby rises long before the sun comes up to get his chores done on chemo day, so he can drive me to Storm Lake and spend all day in a chair next to me while I sleep. 

True love is driving me to Cherokee every morning for my daily shot and then stopping at Casey's for a donut treat, even though he is on a perennial diet all winter. (Yes, he get's his own donut.)

True love is tending to my needs while I lay on the couch looking like death warmed over while recovering from chemo.

True love is when Bruce gave up his big TV in the living room on Saturday so I could watch a Hallmark  marathon of Signed, Sealed and Delivery, because I was laid out on the couch.

And true love is suggesting we celebrate Valentine's Day a week early at our favorite restaurant, Archie's in LeMars with our friends, Mike and Becky.

I think Becky needs to get out more.

So however you spent this Valentine's Day, at a fancy restaurant or home with a Casey's pizza, I hope it was with people you love or fond memories of those who have gone before us.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Even though I have managed to make some respectable Danish, croissants and caramel rolls, I struggle with bread and dinner rolls. They either come out not baked through or like hockey pucks and with each failure I became more despondent. I decided to give it one more try, carefully measuring all the ingredients, getting the right balance of liquid and flour - and when I pulled the pan out of the oven, I discovered I'd created BREADZILLA!!!

Evidently my dough was a bit too wet, the loaf rose and blew like Mount Vesuvius, bread dough cascading down each side and consuming the pan. It could have been molded into a bread wig. I was ready to give up, then heard that my friend, Eva, was making 30 dozen dinner rolls for a scholarship dinner at the school, all by herself and by hand. I asked if I could come observe, take pictures and learn from a master bread baker, I even offered my services of washing dishes.

Eva was hard at work with her first batch of dough, she measured, mixed, beat and kneaded, all the time giving me her tips.
 Don't use soft water to activate the yeast, salt interferes with that process - Eureka! I never knew that!
 Do use a thermometer to determine the correct temperature of the liquid, do not go over 120 degrees! 
Add flour sparingly and knead, knead, knead.
The final ingredients should be salt and fat, refer to tip #1. Eureka!
Eva said the sweeter the dough, the less it should be handled, now I know why I'm successful with sweet rolls. Pizza dough, on the other hand, needs to have the crap beat out of it, that is why you see these guys slinging it around in the air above their head. Which I have never tried but I'm up for the challenge.

Eva made 37 dozen rolls in one day, by hand, she's The Woman! I decided today was the day to take my new found knowledge and make a loaf of bread that was edible.

Eva mixed all 37 dozen by hand....

.....I believed that is why I purchased a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

Moving from a whisk to a big spoon, Eva continues mixing flour into her dough....

.....while my Kitchen Aid's whisk goes merrily around and around the mixing bowl.

It's time to get tough, Eva scrapes her dough out of the pan, onto the counter and begins kneading....

.....while I switch out the whisk for the dough hook and let my Kitchen Aid earn it's keep.

You don't want to get in an arm wrestling contest with this woman!

It is still a crap shoot about how much flour to use but after the dough pulled away from the sides and formed a ball......

.....I used another tip from Eva, the Window Pane Test. You take a ball of dough and start stretching until it makes a little window pane, if it falls apart, it needs more flour or kneading. I think it's ready!

It raised for an hour, I punched it down, stretched it into a rectangle, folded in thirds and fit it in  the pan.

After another raising, I was getting my hopes up......

.....no Mount Vesuvius this time!!

But will it taste as good as it looks??

Yes, YES, and YES!!!!!

I really should have made a loaf for Bruce too, Burp!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chemo #?, I've forgotten the number, underway.

Today was 4 weeks since my last chemo, where I'd received a higher dose in my quest to get done and I did pretty good, I thought. So I was pumped to ask Dr. Wender to up the dosage again to a full compliment of drugs, but he burst my balloon by telling me my counts were not high enough. I was barely able to handle a 3/4 dosage again and would have to have several more shots to build me up for the next time which is going to be stretched out into another 4 weeks. That came as a surprise because I have felt well enough, every though I came down with a bad cold last week and I'm still coughing.

"Well,", I told him, "That is why you get paid the big bucks!" I think he took a little offense at that, he said he doesn't get it all! But he didn't hold it against me and we left on good terms. It was very quiet at the 'Halls of Healing', as Bruce calls it, I had my choice, so went back to the solitude and privacy in the back alcove that holds three chairs. Bruce had some errands to run and I would soon be in La-La Land after the Benedryl IV so he left and I pulled out my tablet to read.

I have never seen any children there, until today. Soon an Asian mother came in with an interpreter and two little girls, one who was sporting a purple wrap on her wrist and she hopped up into the chair next to mine. The nurses pulled the curtain between us and I tried to concentrate on my book but kept overhearing the conversations. They were explaining to the interpreter the treatment schedule, every day after school for a week and then in home visits from a nurse. They had trouble with the IV that was in the little girl's wrist and had to re-do it, but she was very brave and didn't cry. It made me cringe. They ended up not staying long but I felt depressed for the family, how hard it would be to have to go through this with a child.

I like the back room because I don't feel like getting involved with any other patients there, if that makes me a selfish person, I'm sorry. It was still pretty quiet in the clinic when a man claimed the chair the little girl had left and he immediately started giving the nurses a hard time so I knew he was one of the regulars although I don't think I'd ever seen him before. When Bruce came back he talked to Mike a lot, found out he is barely 50, started out with throat cancer and then it developed into lung cancer, both sides. He has come every week for I don't know how long, for chemo. I was dozing most of the time, between being awakened to check vitals so caught some of their conversations. Mike seems to have a rather dysfunctional family and he knows he has a tough road ahead of him but is trying to make the best of it.

I took the girls at the clinic a Valentine's treat, cheesecake stuffed, dark chocolate dipped, strawberries, that I found on Pinterest and that made their day. Just before we left, my nurse, Shari, said she had something for me and brought a beautiful prayer shawl that was made by Loops of Love from a group at Albert City and that brought tears to me eyes. This is the second prayer shawl I have received, my niece, Anne from Gardener, KS sent me one shortly have I started. When I get down I only have to look around me at all the love that is shown, some from complete strangers, to pick me up and shut down the pity party.

And then there is Zoe with her favorite yellow birdie that was a gift from our friends Lisa and Jeff in the animals Christmas stocking a year ago, who knows how to cheer me up.

"I love my little birdie."

"I rub you against my cheek."

"Rub, rub, rub, rub....."

"....sniff, sniff....who have you been hanging around with?"

"Clyde?" "Ghost??"

"You need a bath!"

"Much better."

"Rub, rub, rub...."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Believe it or not, there are people out there nuttier about chickens than I am!

For instance - I have NEVER taken my chickens to a flea market, perched on the top of a stroller!

My sister, Sara, is in Florida for the rest of the winter, smart move as it's C-O-L-D out there today, and found this man with his four, feathered beauties, checking out the deals at a flea market.

Oh, how I wish I had been there!!

Sara said none of the hens were tethered, they seemed perfectly happy riding around in style, happily posing for pictures.

Chickens Unite!! Demand your own stroller!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Forecast is a 4 lettered word - SNOW!

I was settled in yesterday morning, coffee in hand, still in pj's, ready to build a fire when Bruce called with the news that we were supposed to get from 5 - 7 inches of snow and could I help clean cattle yards.

RATS! No lazing around, instead I donned my clothes, quickly fed the horses and went over to mount my trusty Mustang skid loader. My job was to clean the three bay loafing pens and even though I've done it for 20 years, I still duck when driving the skid loader inside, it seem so low.

My manure pile grows as I drag the dirty bedding out and push it into the alley.

Bruce is cleaning another yard, he drives by with a Big Load.

My pile grows as I finish with the third pen.

The challenge is to get this big bale of corn bedding into the yard and bed the pens without the cows coming in to 'help.'

Oh, Oh, Busted!

Luckily the cows were not overly hungry and left me alone.....

....I rolled out the bedding....

....and filled each pen. You would think the cows would appreciate a nice clean bed, wouldn't you?

But N-O-O-O-O, it takes an average of 2.7 seconds for the first cow to make a big, sloppy, smelly deposit. You would think they could do that outside.

Bruce brought more corn stalk bales in for the feeders.

My job is to cut and pull off the net wrap...

...before he dumps them in the feeder, this one was very fluffy and covered me with dust and shucks. I quickly covered my camera to protect it but my coat was not so lucky and I sneezed the rest of the day.

The girls weren't all that thrilled about getting corn stalks for dinner.

Sorry, 46.

"Corn stalks? Seriously??"

Well, the weatherman was right on, the snow started Saturday about 1 PM, continued all night and the wind kicked up, filling all the cattle yards and bunks with snow. So I was called into duty again this morning, me and my trusty Mustang pushed a lot of snow.

Mollie and Murphy are not fazed by the snow and cold, to them it's a great day.

Murphy is intently watching for rabbits.

There has to be some rabbits in here somewhere!

"I'm on a trail, Murphy, stick with me!"

After all the cold and exercise, a nap felt good, then we had our own little Superbowl party with Sliders, potato skins, a veggie tray and a couple of brewskies with the fireplace doing it's thing in the background.

After the cold and exercise, food and booze, I'm not sure we will make it though the Superbowl but I can always watch the commercials tomorrow on the internet.

That and the food is the only reason I do Superbowl.

What did you have for your party?