Thursday, February 28, 2008


Hey, I gorged myself on Chinese food last night with my parents, who are finally home from FLORIDA. So today I am suffering lower-gut rebellion due to MSG, sat-fat overload. I might have to sneak some "Neigh-lox" out of Princess' stash today.

In the interim, I wanted to post some non-original, inspirational pieces that hang on my bulletin board--because I am totally visual and if I can't see it, I don't think about it.

"The Essence of Compassion"

"Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and wrong...because sometime in your life you will have been all of these."

This second piece I copied out of a magazine some time ago and have meant to tatoo it to my children's forearms sometime soon:

Manners are about showing consideration and using empathy. But they are also about being connected to a common good; they are about being better. Respect and consideration are traditionally due to people for all sorts of reasons, some big, some small. Here are 20 (most lapsed) reasons to show special politeness to other people:

1. They are older

2. They know more than you do.

3. They know less than you do.

4. They got here first.

5. They have educational qualifications in the subject under discussion.

6. You are in their house.

7. They once helped you financially.

8. They have been good to you all your life.

9. They are less fortunate than you.

10. They have achieved special status in the wider world.

11. You are serving them in a shop.

12. They are in the right.

13. They are your boss.

14. They work for you.

15. They are a policeman/teacher/doctor/judge.

16. They are in need.

17. They are doing you a favor.

18. They paid for your tickets.

19. You phoned them, not the other way round.

20. They have a menial job.

This is excerpted from Talk to the Hand:The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door) by Lynne Truss
Read, apply, repeat, as often as is necessary...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yeah, yeah...

I know I should be getting a lot of grief over the whole "I know spring is coming" post last week. Today, after I filled the bird feeders, there were at least 20 goldfinches! They were everywhere. Handyman said "they're like rats"; he was joking. They are just the teensiest bit more yellow. But then again, they were all at my bird feeder because there isn't anything else to eat within 100 miles!! I cut down some suckers growing off an apple tree stump a couple of weeks ago and now when I look closely I can see that some little somebody has been gnawing that bark to a fare-thee-well. Everybody's hungry. The starlings have shown up too.

I have a love/hate relationship with starlings. Of course, you've heard that they are not native to North America. They were brought into New York by some idiot zealot who decided that every bird mentioned by Shakespeare should be brought to the US. So he arrived in NY with 20 starlings and let them loose. Can you believe it? Those hideous creatures blot out the sun on occasion.

So what's my love/hate? Well, I tell my kids everyone deserves to eat, even if you're ugly. But then, they don't just eat, they chase everyone else away, they eat all the food and then they try to nest in our gutters, under the gutter covers. They don't just nest in our gutters, they trap the females in the gutters and refuse to let them out. Sort of an avian version of a burka. I hear them scrabbling and fighting, INSIDE the gutter in the spring. Then the downspouts are clogged, and eggs must drown.

So Handyman usually shoots a bunch of them every spring. Today when he saw them he said, "Go back to wherever you came from." I said, "They're like illegal aliens." No papers, no birdseed. What was funny about it was that Handyman had just read about our legislature considering an illegal immigration legislation and it said that other states that had passed this legislation had seen a tremendous drop in their IA population. The illegals had literally fled those states. Those states' school populations had dropped; their welfare had lowered, etc. It didn't take ugly raids, just inhospitable environments. I don't know how that works at a birdfeeder.

At least I don't have to provide education and healthcare.

So much to blog...

so little time. I've been limiting my time online, since I limit my kids' time online, it seemed a little unfair that I could jump on at the drop of a hat/chore, while they had to complete all day's worth of works before they can get on. I would love to blog lots more, because goodness knows I have a lot to share and I'm sure it's all worthwhile!! ;)

Raining slop here today. Lovely, as usual. I have my little beach calendar hanging nearby so I can gaze upon it and go to my happy place. My poor kids look at it and say "what's that?" It's a beach, Honey. Where the wind always blows and the sun is out, a lot and there is no snow or big, dripping boots.

Handyman cut my hair yesterday. What a scare/relief. It turned out fine, just what it needed. But the process was a little stressful. His fingers barely fit into the scissors and he was determined not to hold it flat between his fingers like a real hairdresser but to just press down and cut straight across my back. He did do two layers, so that was a help, and it does look much better. I wanted to put the hair out for the birds, but we've done that before and watched hair (ours and the dogs') rot in the flower bed for months.

I have almost paid off our Menards bill--it only took a whole month of sending some amount of payment every day by online bill pay. It's kind of fun and very motivating to check the balance every day and watch it trickle down. It will be paid off this week and then I'm onto the next highest one. I have Dave Ramsey's smiling face looking down on my computer, encouraging me to push on. I can't wait to be out of debt and it will be awhile, but I think about the things we will be free to do when we are not enslaved anymore. I am looking forward to buying flowers for my gardens. Not hand-me-downs (which are great and appreciated), but specific items that I would love to have. With our situation, we should be buying one evergreen a week for the next ten years to get our perimeter more established. We will buy a bigger ATV with attachments too. We could certainly use that. And it will be fun to buy it without signing our lives away.

#2 passed her Hunters Education test last week. I am so proud of her. It was 100 questions, multiple choice, the same test adults take to get their hunting licenses. She did not go out in the hall to have it read to her, but did the whole thing herself and passed with an 85! I had a moment of homeschool mommy-panic when I realized she had never taken any test like that, let alone that long, but she was a trooper!

4H will be gearing up soon and we've signed up for several new things, foods, cake decorating, gift wrapping and this year we'll have two dogs in the dog program. Gift wrapping sounds like a "sport" for the grossly precise but #2 wanted to do it. I love to wrap, myself, having been a wrapper for a book store for many years at holiday time. But I don't know if it's necessary to be judged on the basis of straight edges, seams and corners...

I have been working very hard to not leave laundry in baskets, sitting around for--weeks. It's my downfall. I don't mind doing laundry one bit. I like the warm clean smell when it comes out and I don't even mind folding. But I have some kind of completion issue. Flylady says not to even start a new load before unloading the previous one, but I can't go that far. I have too much piling up. So I've been through about a week without stalling out.

We are getting ready to stake out the riding ring, whenever the slop isn't hip deep. It will require cutting down several old, overgrown apple trees, so I want to get that done ASAP, or I will hear "we can't cut down apple trees when they are blooming..." and then it will be June before we even start. We were going to get bees this year, but held off to get our debt paid downs some more. So there isn't a bee excuse (they need the blossoms). Of course, I love apple blossoms too, but I want a place to ride more, sooooo, they gotta go!

Homeschool convention is coming up too. I always look forward to that. I think I am taking #1 with me this year, for the first time ever. I think she will enjoy the exhibit hall, a lot.

Well, it's time to feed, again. Reno stood out in the rain for too long last night and is still a little damp. I don't want him doing that again. I put a new bale of shavings in their stalls last night because we're about out of sawdust. This morning both of them had shavings stuck to the sides of their heads! So cute--it lets me know that they were laying flat out in the new bedding. I love to see that. Resting peacefully lets "mommy" feel good.

Snow's flying again, but I read a post at Kate's blog where she talked about spring arriving in South Carolina and how she was enjoying the flowers and that gave me a little hope. Now that the eyesore is gone from our "backyard", I am hoping to get some lilacs planted in that spot. Handyman and I sat down in the living room last night, gazing out to the north, watching the snow and it was so relaxing not to see that icky reminder of what our home used to be.

Well, this turned out to be quite the hodge podge of a post. I'll try to be more together next time. Time to eat!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ack! I'm it!

Tracey has tagged me for a meme. It's the old name 5 things about yourelf gizmo and here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself with pictures.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.
Have fun!
So, here are 5 things you really don't want or need to know about me.

1. (No, I am not in this picture, but it is about me...) I get made-from-scratch-with-real-lemon-zest, lemon meringue pie for my birthday, EVERY year, because I am a SPOILED, only child. There is no better cook than my mother, who has been gone for 7 weeks to FLORIDA, and she makes me two pies.

2. My husband is the absolute coolest guy, ever. He has never yelled at me, never told me to shut-up and never said my ideas are/were ridiculous, ludicrous or impossible. He's made me into a remodeling monster: "What do you mean you won't rip out the dining room ceiling to move that ductwork so I can have a bigger opening to the kitchen?!?" (This is an actual quote from me regarding our current project.)

3. I have wanted a Pembroke Welsh Corgi since I first met them when I went to work on the "A" hunter circuit. And, since I am a spoiled only child, married to an indulgent gentleman, I got them. We are on our 4th and 5th corgis and will probably always have them. This particular specimen is the best dog I have EVER owned, in my life, without a doubt. He was the leftover of a litter and Handyman didn't want to leave one puppy (we were buying the other one), so we cut a deal on the pair--best decision ever.

4. I love to bowl with my dad, at the bowling alley or on the Wii. He's a great teacher and a good sportsman--very fun to play with. We don't bowl very often so we talk football instead. (You can see where I get my hair...)

5. Red is my favorite color. It used to be green and before that yellow, but now, in my middle age, it's red. I want to be noticed--I have strong opinions and I'm glad to share them--red seems to scream "It's all about me" and since I am a SPOILED only child, I'm drawn to it.

And just in case you think one of those factoids is weak, here's an extra one for good measure...

6. I could really use a professional hair dresser who specializes in middle-aged, long hair required, no money--need highlights symptoms...

I'll tag BFF Debbie , EEEEMommy, Melissa , and #1 . BTW, that whole dining room ceiling thing is still not settled...just ask me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I know you'll laugh...

but I've seen the signs. Spring is definitely coming. My bear-skin horse, RENO, is shedding. I thought it was just wishful thinking, but he is definitely letting some loose and today #2 and I both noticed that the goldfinches are just the teensiest bit more yellow than they were last week. It was sunny here today which is a real treat. We shovelled off the paved part of the drive and played outside, even though it barely went above 20. Tonight is bitterly freezing, but we were able to see the lunar eclipse from inside the house--spoiled!

Anyway, horse blankets are back on tonight, but he is definitely shedding. He has more faith than I do, anyway. His blanket--which would cover any normal couch in my house--is toasty, roasty, I must say. It was a bargain from State Line Tack, for $59 plus shipping. When it came, I almost cried because I thought there was no way it would fit. It is gargantuan! It came the day of a precipitous temperature plunge and I was so worried that it wouldn't arrive in time. Then when I opened it and laid it across three dining room chairs I was about beside myself with dismay.

#1 suggested we just go try it on him...the giant cat is now laying across my forearms as I try to type. My elbows are sagging under the weight and I feel sensitivity leaving my finger tips. Anyway, we lugged the monstrosity out to the pasture, trying to keep it clean, since I knew I would have to send it back. He came wandering up and we heaved it up over his back. He had measured exactly 82, so I had ordered an 84, just to be sure. Well, sure enough, it was a teensy bit too long at the tail, but is a high neck cut, so I have to leave it loosely buckled so he can get his head down to eat. Buuuuuuuut, the belly straps just barely made it under and I had to remove the hind leg straps altogether, because I could tell they would rub on his mega-hairy inner thighs!

I kept loosening the belly straps and loosening some more! He looks like the biggest hunter green sofa you ever saw! Because of the high neck style, his topline looks much higher than his 16hh height. Pretty hilarious really. The blanket quality is great for the price. Much better than what I had originally purchased for him on Ebay. It was a great deal because it was "butt ugly", tan and teal plaid! Handyman told me to spend more money rather than get that, because he is all about the visual--hates ugly. Fortunately for him, the "leisure suit" as I dubbed it, didn't fit and had to be returned.

So now I have one horse that looks like a giant green sofa and the other looks like an LL Bean duffle bag. Princess' blankie is hunter green with black skirting around the bottom. I think I'll have my mom add faux handles to it this summer, just for fun!


Can I just say that no matter how much I love the internet, I'll never, ever stop loving the library and its contents. I do not feel happy without books around. I carry them with me wherever I go. Our car is awash with them. Every room in our house has books or magazines. Fortunately, Handyman is with me on this. And it is certainly an asset when it comes to home educating.
When we moved here five years ago, my cousin helped us carry quite a bit of stuff in, mostly boxes of books. I remember him saying to me, "I'd better never see you without a book in your hand," after carrying box after heavy box! I just laughed!

Here's a picture of my dream hangout:

This is from Trinity College in Dublin, I believe. Can I go today??
This came from a great link posted over at Living Life Between the Trees--
(I also liked the Madrid one--but it didn't seem big enough!)
Choose your favorite here!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Found this amongst my 389 unread emails...

A Life That Pleases God

By Micca Monda Campbell

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." Romans 8:5 (NKJ)

The Tennessee Women's prison has an unusual baptistery in their chapel. It's a coffin. For these women, being baptized in a coffin is a powerful visual of their death and burial with Christ. Thereafter, the coffin, which is a permanent fixture in the chapel, becomes a daily reminder that they are no longer slaves to sin and enemies of God. Their old way of living is dead, buried, and gone; and they are now free to live a life pleasing to God.

This is such an awesome truth in ours lives that Billy Graham says, "We should meditate on the truth that we are dead to sin and alive to righteousness, until returning to the old way of living is unthinkable."

While it is true that we are dead to our old life, staying dead is another matter. Often, our dead flesh will raise its ugly head and try to influence our thoughts and actions. If we listen long enough to its demands, we suddenly find ourselves at the graveyard fervently digging up our old flesh, so that it can perform its sinful deeds.

Christians have a responsibility to put to death their old nature through daily surrender or else they cannot live a life pleasing to God. They will begin to think only of themselves again and ways to gratify their flesh. However, those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit will live a life of righteousness free from sin. Those who follow the Holy Spirit will not think about fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Their thoughts are occupied by God's Word, His ways, and purposes.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8, "Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely an admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." So, what dominates your thoughts?

If we only think of ourselves, what we want and our rights, then eventually we'll find ourselves going down the wrong path, one that leads to a stinky life. On the other hand, thinking on things that are pure and worthy brings forth life that is pleasing to God and a witness to others.

If you are in Christ, then the flesh no longer dominates you, my sister. So stop visiting the graveyard. Instead be led by the Holy Spirit by dying daily to your old way of thinking and living. Then, the Spirit of God can create in you a pure life that releases a sweet, pleasing aroma.

Dear Lord, I confess that I often visit the graveyard to free my dead flesh. Help me to keep that person in the grave by yielding solely to Your Holy Spirit so that my life will be pleasing to You, in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Sometimes I worry...

I worry that I'm a wanna-be. I worry that I really don't have enough gumption to do the hard stuff. We're planning our outdoor riding ring, and I really, really want it because right now we have to ride in our barely-big enough pasture and that's kind of tough on the grass and the inexperienced riders. Soooo, I'm fired up to get it going. But it also means that I'm going to have to show what I've got...I've never really had total responsibility for training a horse since high school and that didn't really count because he was trained already and it didn't matter what I did with him anyway.

Then I went to college and competed there, which involved absolutely no horse training whatsoever because you draw a horse's name out of an envelope, get on and make the best of it. And I was good at equitation, really good. I started thinking I was pretty hot stuff, actually. And maybe I was, at equitation, which is not horse training.

And then I was a riding instructor at a couple of summer camps and then I was sure I was really something. Because it was pretty obvious that I was the best rider at the WHOLE camp! And they knew it and so did I! I went off to instructor camp to be certified and I got certified as high as is possible until you're 21, which I wasn't, so I KNEW I was something and I had the certificate to prove it!

And then I grew up and got an office job and a sports car and a little rental house. And then I met Handyman and I had enough money to take lessons again and I called the first yellow pages ad that mentioned the word dressage and I met my friend Kate, who'd just had a baby and she needed a part-time instructor. Wasn't that neat? So then I started teaching beginners at a real event barn, for real money. And I had prestige, a little bit.

I didn't have a horse or even a saddle but I had my finger in the pie again. It was great. I stayed with Kate through several locations and years. She came to our wedding; we all went to Rolex; we had kids the same year. I took lessons from her for years, but didn't have a horse, so I was never really "there". I didn't compete. Didn't have a horse, didn't have a trailer, didn't have the money. I had the head knowledge, but no proof. Could I make it around a cross-country course? Do I even want to?

Last summer I was the timer at the finish line of the event put on by Kate's stable. I timed each rider as they crossed the finish, beginner through advanced. I watched each one, young, old, good, bad, strong and weak. And I wondered, do I really do this? Or am I just a pretender? Really??

I have a darling large pony who may be a great...don't know yet. Can I do the right things, the right way and turn her into something wonderful for my kids and other little girls who would like to try? You know those actresses who accept the awards saying, "I keep waiting for everyone to find out that I'm not really that good at it, that this is all just a charade"? That's me. Can I do it?

There was a great quote in the Clarence Thomas book I just read. He said it came from Bobby Knight, former coach of Indiana University. It went something like this, "Everyone has the will to win. But do you have the will to do what it takes to win?" Thomas used this quote to motivate himself to train for a marathon and then to train for his Supreme Court nomination confirmation, which turned into much more than a marathon, as we all remember.

Do I have the will to do what it takes to succeed? Sometimes I worry.

Here's to the little guy...

I go to a teeny, weeny, small-town pharmacy. The kind where the pharmacist, who is the owner, has his kids' graduation pictures propped up on the glass counter. They have a couple of each thing in stock, not 457 each of 12 billion items. The storefront is glass from top to bottom and the automatic door (one person wide) is kinda slow to open, probably because it's old.

I didn't go there at first. I went to Stuff-mart, like the rest of the lemmings. But I hate Stuff-mart, and not for those reasons I hear a lot. I hate it because it feels dirty and dingy and seems poorly lit. (My husband does lighting for a living, so I'm somewhat sensitive in this area.) Poorly-lit translates to me as unsafe and dirty. Anyway, I think I went to Stuff mart for a prescription one time. It was at night, when poorly lit shows itself at its best, and there were about 100 people in line and the pharmacy helpers were wearing computers strapped to their wrists, in a borg-like way.

Now I love Star Trek, a lot. Captain Picard was the coolest, handsomest bald guy, ever. But the borg deal was pretty intimidating. So there I was in the poorly-lit, dirty store, waiting with 100 other yutzes for my kid's med, being waited on by a minimum-wage borg. I didn't like it. I remembered that the little pharmacy in my little town had a drive-through window and a sign that said free delivery and I thought I should at least try it.

When #3 was born she didn't gain weight the first month, probably due to the fact that I did not eat enough because I wanted to prove I was super mom and could lose weight fast, home educate my children and breastfeed a newborn. Bad plan, bad results. Well, the pediatrician wanted to give her some straight zinc supplement, I think, because she also had a lot of rash on her body. The pharmacist at the little pharmacy could get it made up faster than Stuff mart, so we went there.

So I kept going there. #3 has to taken an antibiotic every day until after her surgery in May, so I have been going there monthly for four+ years now. They recognize me when they see me at the window and usually don't ask my name. It's good to be infamous.

The reason for this whole posting is to say that yesterday, after I had called in a refill for #3, I totally forgot to pick it up. She takes it at night, so I didn't think about it until almost 8 pm, long after the little pharmacy closed. I know, I know, Stuff Mart would probably be open, but wait until you hear this...I called and left a voice message on the emergency pharmacy line, groveling and begging to be able to pick up #3's medicine, ANYTIME this weekend that would work and Mr. Pharmacy owner called me back within 5 minutes and offered to meet me this morning, Sunday morning, at the drive-through window at 10 am. No problem, he said.

I had a strong hunch that he would do this for me, because a couple of years ago, out of the clear blue sky, Handyman had a kidney stone. Absolutely unexpected, and when the hospital sent us home with pain prescriptions on a Sunday morning, I called and left a message asking if I could get one filled before the night began, since Handyman had gotten no relief from the first three doses of morphine at the hospital, and I was afraid to be without any meds that night. Mr. Dave, the pharmacist/owner had called me right back and met me there that afternoon, opening up just for me, for a $9 prescription. I have not forgotten that and I probably won't. I don't care if I never get a $4 generic, Mr. Dave has my business as long as he has his. It's just one of the great things about small towns, and about this country.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day dinner

Hooooooweee, did we have one. Handyman can be a master in the kitchen. We got our Costco rebate check and decided to blow some of it on real meat, as opposed to what we eat most of the time, chicken, chicken, Laura's lean, but low-flavor, ground beef and the occasional fish thing. So he picked up some slabs of beef tenderloin and we yanked out a Fine Cooking magazine from Christmas that we had lusted after.

We roasted a whole head of garlic for garlic-mashed potatoes (from Pioneer Woman this week); he marinated some shrimp in red wine vinegar, olive oil and cajun seasoning and then grilled them for an appetizer. I found some asparagus in the drawer, that was still good! and I broiled them with a little olive oil and kosher salt. There was our usual salad, which was certainly the least important part of the meal, and a bottle of Dancing Bull red zinfandel. I confess, I had planned to make Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake, but didn't get back from the grocery and barn soon enough to make that happen. Fortunately for me, we were too stuffed anyway.

I don't have a picture of the shrimp because they were gone VERY quickly. Here is the magazine from which we took our recipe:

and here is an actual un-retouched (because I haven't learned Photoshop yet) picture of Handyman's dinner plate:

The pool of white next to the steak is a creme fraiche-dijon (fresh cream for those of you in Rio Linda) sauce that was AWESOME. The meat had a crust of fennel seed and rosemary. Yum, yum. I dipped my asparagus in the sauce, and my potatoes, oh, and my fingers. Way too good. The kids liked the meat, as long as it wasn't too pink and we didn't use the word "cow". They loved the asparagus, especially #3, who pretends she is a rabbit. And mashed potatoes are always a hit--Thank you pressure cooker!

My man, he can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never, never, never forget he's a man!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My funny valentines...

Because Handyman is at Hunter's Education class with #2 and we are not celebrating until tomorrow, I will hold off on the whole sordid saga of how we met and were instantly in love, and he didn't tell me his name and I hunted him down like a trophy elk...

Instead, I'll show you the real lovers around here:

His Royal Highness, The Love Machine, in his crock. (This is in our dining room, and when he is asleep in it, he snores and it echoes.) If you want snuggling, this is your guy. He'll sleep anywhere touching you but would most prefer to have his nose touching your lips, breathing your sweet ?? breath as soon as it leaves your body. He wants to knead every inch of you into perforated mush before settling in, however. One of his favorite lounges is, me, when I'm on the computer. He also enjoys laying a large part of himself on the west end of the keyboard.

He will sleep in any number of locales...

(We removed the dolls for their own safety.) Or here,

Goldilocks, he ain't...

Sorry, Mr. Electric Company, the cat sat on my bills.

All's well that ends well. Wishing you could have a bud like him this Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

I'll try to be fair

Since I started off the day by complaining and whining, I will try to balance it out somewhat...I abhor it when my progeny complains, so I need to work on my attitude a little.

I am excited that the days are getting longer! I can tell that they are! This is not a positive reflection on my state, since it is the result of my longitude or latitude or GPS or something. But, I know that they are. I was able to feed, empty five muck tubs using the poop cart (no snow for the sled), and muck out before dusk!

I broke two muck tubs (Handyman will be unhappy.) I was just a little upset that not only do I have to endure this life on Hoth (thank you #1), but the muck was actually frozen into the buckets. Give me a stinking break! It's not enough that the hens have frostbite on their combs, even though we lubed them up...not enough that the horses have frostsicles on their whiskers, the poop is frozen into the tubs. So I dropped them and kicked them and heaved them around until I broke two of them. Then I complained that they were cheap.

I think I was supposed to be mentioning things that I'm glad about...what were they? Oh, I am thankful for the anti-viral medicine that makes my COLD sores go away. Way thankful. I was glad to see a glowing orb in the sky today, albeit briefly and it gave no heat. I am glad for orange extension cords that go for miles, even under flowing rivers of ice. I am thankful for sawdust and the friendliest pony in the world who wants to bite the handle of the poop fork while I'm using it. I am thankful that my horses are so gentle that I can move all around them without concern, unless I have a shred of carrot left in any pocket in which case I could be knocked to the ground and mauled.

Did I mention that my husband has been out of town for months? Okay, three days. He's on his way home now. I'm so glad because I'll probably have to haul water tomorrow and it's snowing tonight, again. Oh, my parents called from FLORIDA, so I could go through their mail for them. And they're not going to be back until a few days later than originally planned. Hey, no problem! Their dogs are eating the frozen doots about as fast as I can bring them up from the barn...

Gotta go put on those blankies. It's a balmy 19.2 here. I've been wearing these same jeans (fleece-lined) for two days now. Nowhere near my record.

Sick of winter

I know, I know, I say it a lot. I hate winter and I'm not to keen on this state. I have lived in this state, mostly, since 2nd grade and I just feel no loyalty to it. It isn't beautiful. It is completely inconsistent weather-wise and it doesn't seem to have the best of any world.

It is my strong desire to move away from here for our retirement, if not before. I want to go to southern Virginia, or North Carolina and I might consider Tennessee, haven't look into that too much. I would like to be able to get to the ocean in a reasonable time. At least hurricanes give you several days warning! My MIL told me last night, "don't move to TN, all those people just got killed in tornados." I asked her if she had ever known anyone who's been killed in a tornado? "No." Well, I don't think I can write off an entire state because they had some folks killed in a tornado--especially since we had tornado warnings here, LAST WEEK!! In February!

Only in this ridiculous state can you have 55 degree days, 0 degree days, snow storm warning, flooding and thunderstorms in a 10-day period. Absolutely ridiculous. No wonder my parents went to FLORIDA for 7 WEEKS and want to move there.

To make me feel better on this Monday morning, I will post pictures of my garden site, which instills hope in my shrunken-frozen heart:

Doesn't that just get you excited for spring?? Me neither.

Have I mentioned that my husband is gone. He will get home tonight, hopefully before the snowstorm. Need I remind you that I have four dogs, three cats, two daughters and a teenage girl who is sure she's adopted, and two chickens living in this house!

I think it's obvious that I haven't made coffee yet this morning. Oh, I hear a rooster crowing--in my kitchen!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rare avian sighting!

Yesterday, before the Arctic Santa Ana's kicked into high gear, there was a rare sighting at our birdfeeder!

It is the rare Toeless To-Hee, common to South American grasslands! What was it doing this far north at this time of year? This magnificent specimen is identified by the gorgeous white mane and brilliant green-black tailfeathers. (It also prefers water from pharmaceutical buckets, which we used to draw it into our flower bed!)

This 4-5 pounder is a terrific example of the species. They are considered a delicacy in many countries, but not here at Netherfield. Here, all fowl are our friends. Especially disabled ones...

Especially when said disability was due to the cruelty and stupidity of others. We have captured this specimen for further study/protection from the elements. He is happily ensconced in a habitat specially designed to keep him comfortable.

I was a little concerned for him yesterday when I was making CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP in my pressure cooker, but he seems no worse for the wear. (We, of course, do not use the name in his presence.)

He even had a run-in with the bird-dog in residence yesterday. While he was sunning himself, thinking about how nice it is to have such great care, someone carelessly opened the front door to welcome guests and out shot the bird-dog extraordinaire: (note vicious alien eyes)

who is visiting while my parents are in FLORIDA for 7 WEEKS! (note the calendar behind her bed where she keeps track of how many days are left until she can return to her yard that has a fence where she can gambol at will.)

Fortunately, our guests were able to rescue the rare toeless toe-hee from the mouth of the vicious canine interloper.

What a circus!

Three dog night

It is waaaaaaaay too cold here. Handyman is out of town and the high today is 13 degrees with strong winds (my favorite combination!) When Handyman is gone, my bed somehow gets loaded up with "people" looking for snuggling. Night before last, #3 slept with me because we had a friend over for #2. So it was me, her, Tasha the corgi, Jake the 14 lb. cat, Sadie the recluse cat and eventually Tucker the wonder dog.

Darcy, the kitten enjoys going into the garage to catch rodents in the feed bags. Last night she wouldn't come in because it was still 35 degrees when we went to bed. By this morning, it was 16 degrees and she was ready to return. When she comes in, she tries to rub against the dogs. It is so funny, they will have none of it and she just thrusts herself at each dog, trying to rub along their length, then flopping over on the floor while four dogs dance around her waiting to go out. What a brave soul she is! I love her personality.

Today I did not even let the chickens out. However, I did take off horse blankets while they went outside for awhile. They get so itchy on their chests and the hair loses its loft with the blankies on. So when I go out for mid-morning snack, I'll check them. Reno has winter hair like a bear--no joke. I haven't seen hair that long on a horse, ever. It's funny.

Our geo-thermal says "auxiliary heat", so that means the electricity has kicked on the after-burners. If Handyman were here he would put a fire in the woodburner, but I am not doing that. It tricks the thermostat into thinking there is enough heat in the house, which is a BIG, FAT LIE. So the furnace doesn't come on, the living room has 8 sq. feet of heated space and the rest of the house shrivels down to 50 degrees or so.

Oh, and I have two chickens in the kitchen today. Sir John is joined by Dixie who lost her back feathers in the summer and won't regrow them until the next molt--what a goofball! Dixie doesn't like living in the shower. Where John stands sedately in the shower when you open it to feed him, Dixie tries to run out the door. Obviously she doesn't get the whole "bird dog out in the kitchen" thing.

Maggie--the bird dog--is constantly taunted by the whiney clucking she hears coming from the bathroom. John doesn't vocalize during the day, unless he crows every now and then. Dixie, on the other hand, talks to herself constantly. It must be a female thing. Maggie stands in the kitchen/laundry/kennel area, stretching her neck as far as possible to listen to that "bwaaaaaaak, bwaaaaak".

Whereas John has a degree of dignity, Dixie personifies the stupid chicken stereotype. I'll try to post a picture of Dixie and Falco--the world's smartest hen.

Gotta go get dressed and eat something besides coffee with nesquick and whipped cream! ;)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hospital Trip P.S.

Thanks for the kind/supportive comments regarding #3's testing at the hospital. I was neglectful in not mentioning that she did take a dose of Versed before the test and what a blessing that is. It is "conscious sedation" where she is still awake (barely) and aware, but then doesn't remember anything that went on.

She is completely unaffected by the whole thing--unlike me--who has watched/participated in it way too many times. I am thankful that she, like her sisters, will be completely cured once surgery is over. Our urologist told us that even 25 years ago, children were dying of this condition, without anyone ever knowing why!! Their kidneys would become damaged and fail and there wasn't any treatment.

Just one more evidence of God, for me. The mysteries of the universe are never solved, they just open up more amazing opportunities to see the hand of our Creator.

Today's funnies...

Conversation with #3 (who is four)...

Me: Did you like the chicken noodle soup today?
Her: Uh-huh.
Me: It didn't seem like you liked it very much.
Her: Mom, I ate seven four.
Me: Seven four?
Her: Yes.
Me: What is seven four?
Her: (holding her arms in a circle in front of her belly)Seven four is this much.
Me: A lot? Oh, you ate a lot.
Her: Yes.

Then, #2 and her friend (who are both nine) come in from outdoor hiking and announce that they want to play "disaster camping" in the living room. I say fine, have fun. When I come in later, I say, "How's disaster camping going?" fully imagining floods or storms or something.

They say, "Fine." I say, "What's the disaster?" They say, "Our plasma TV has been stolen!" I say, "That's a disaster??" and they say, "It cost $99,000!"

Wow--forget dust storms or tornadoes or hurricanes, the loss of a tv now qualifies as "disaster". I'd better get in touch with FEMA.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hospital trip

Sorry it is taking so long to get caught up. Tuesday was spent at the children's hospital with #3 doing her sort-of annual void study test for urine reflux. It's a fun one--catheterize your bladder and fill with contrast dye until you want to burst, then make you pee on a towel on the xray table, while we all gather around to watch and take pictures! Yippee! No pressure!

And she still has it, in fact, a little worse. And the pediatric urologist sees some changes in her kidneys and so.......we're going to surgery! Yessirree, I'll be spending Mother's Day weekend in the hospital. The best part is that it's a new hospital with private rooms! Not like the last two surgeries with #1 and #2 where I had to spend three days sleeping on a fold-out vinyl chair in the same room with hacking, phlegming toddlers in gorilla cages, crying all night and their parents crammed onto another folding chair/bed. Did I mention that I had to carry my poor child to the bathroom multiple times a night where she cries while she pees while her poor little bladder is recovering from being lifted out of her body, cut open from stem to stern and laid flat and both ureters are carved out of the bladder wall, pulled through and re-stitched in more biggie.

I know it sounds horrendous, but I LOVE our ped. urologist. Love him. He does the surgery himself and #1 and #2 are totally recovered and well and will never deal with the issue again. He told me if it were his daughter, he would probably choose surgery as well. I have insurance issues and peace of mind issues. This will use up any money we would have spent on a vacation this year!

This little stinker cost us $7000 just to bring into the world and it'll be about half-that to meet our deductible. I wonder what she's worth??

Trying to keep warm by making her own sauna.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Movie Reviews

Handyman and I have actually been able to get some movies watched lately. Which is a change for us. We looooooove movies. Handyman is in the movie business. But somehow we just never get to watch them. We get them from the library, all the time. We keep them. We look at them. We scan the boxes. Then we take out the dogs, hay the horses one more time and fall asleep in our clothes and start all over again a couple of hours later.

Well one thing we did differently is we started getting #1 out of bed a little earlier in the morning. That is definitely one "problem" with homeschooling. I was raised to never wake a sleeping child and I still have trouble doing that. Even when said child wears the same size shoes as I do! But, once we started making her get up and do dog chores with us, even if she went back to bed for awhile, it made it much easier to get her to sleep at night.

Anyway, our recent viewings included: About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates. Weird, boring, strange and Kathy Bates full-frontal nudity--not my cup of tea. Then we tried Sweet Home Alabama, which one of my dear friends told me she loves--we hated it. We like chick flicks, usually, but this was a little too trite. We stopped halfway through.

Also, there was Failure to Launch with Matthew McConaghey and Sarah Jessica Parker and Terry Bradshaw and Kathy Bates. This time it was Terry Bradshaw who was naked. That was actually much more tolerable than Kathy Bates, let me tell you. It was humorous and a little over the top. Oh, also the sidekick from National Treasure is in this. He plays, a geeky sidekick. Hmmmmmm.

Then we caught Bride & Prejudice. You may know that we are big-time Jane Austen fans, naming lots of our pets and our place after Austen icons. So, of course, we could not turn down a Pride & Prejudice take-off; this one set in modern-day India. It was pretty cute. It's important to know the original story. There are musical numbers, in Indian, lots of bright, beautiful clothes and still the important P&P touchstones--Mr. "Colley", Wickham, and the silly sisters.

Next up, Mission Impossible III. Now I used to be a Tom Cruise fan and I still feel it, but now the weirdness of scientology taints my appreciation of that smile. Anyway, it was pretty good. The stunts are always awesome. The violence is pretty icky and constant, but I admit, I like action films. There were some story strings left hanging, but overall, enjoyable. Of course, the special features/making of things are always what we watch, since Handyman's in the biz. (That night when I went out to the barn, on the ATV, I could hear the theme song running in my head as I sprinted into the darkness on my little machine!)

The next night we watched Die Hard With A Vengance with Bruce Willis. The weird thing here was the same Asian girl that had been in MI III, Maggie Q, is also in Die Hard WAV. I was surprised she would be cast in two similar movies. In MI III she's on the good side, but not in DHWAV. This story was excellent. And the sidekick for the aging Mr. Willis was the guy who is the Mac in the Apple commercials. He was terrific. The perfect foil for John McClane. Violence quotient is pretty high, but the stunts were cool, except for about 10 minutes almost at the end. They definitely "jumped the shark" with the semi/jet sequence. Overall, still enjoyable.

Little tough to sleep after those adrenaline-pumpers! I see Handyman has brought home something restful from his brother's collection: The Bourne Ultimatum--no yawning tonight!

BTW--The Bourne trilogy is now our standard to judge action films. The best, our favorites on multiple levels: writing, stunts, and best car chases of ALL time. Watch them in order if at all possible. Highly recommended. The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and the Bourne Ultimatum.

Gotta go hay!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Winter play hits the kitchen/kennel/laundry area

We had girls here playing all day yesterday and here is the result in our kitchen/kennel/laundry/rooster area:

Ahhhhhhhh. A mother's work is never done--especially when it includes animals. You know, Handyman grew up without animals, at all. His brother is very allergic to everything about them. Can't really even touch them. So Handyman, who once got ringworm from holding a barn kitten up against his face at his grandma's farm, wanted animals. In fact, I told the vet I married him because he was one of very few men, like my dad, who loves cats.

The cats begat dogs, and the dogs begat more dogs and then there were chickens and then hooved mammals walked upon the land. And Handyman said that it was good. Seriously, we love 'em and they begat messes that just never end. The great news is that today's paper says that dog owners live longer (on average 3 years longer), so Handyman and I should easily reach 135. Dog owners are also more fit, it says. Probably because they have to bend over to pick up poop and work more hours to pay for the healthy food that begats less mushy poop.

I think this post started on the topic of children, who also begat poop, but I've pretty much outgrown all those issues. Kids just begat mess. I told a friend the other day that my Christmas letter said I consider myself a snake herder. I can never, never, NEVER get it all done at one time. Whatever room I am rescuing leaves 7 more that are in the process of being dismantled. And these kids are the children of a serial remodeler, so they know dismantle-ment. They have seen what a house can be reduced to.

Today's puzzle is put the items in the cabinet where they belong. This particular challenge begins with a simple need for the stick blender chopping head. Now, the motor is in its little container, with cord wrapped and banded (because I put it away). But the chopping end is not. But, while I'm looking for it, I notice that the soup mugs are on every shelf in said cabinet. As I relocate them to the top shelf where they go, I have to move the pyrex measuring cups back to the shelf where they are supposed to be, which means I have to move the juice glasses back to the shelf where they are supposed to be, which means I have to return the rubbermaid things back to the cabinet where they are supposed to be, which means I have to put the bag of pretzels back on the shelf where it is supposed to be, which means I have to put the big jug of popcorn oil back where it is supposed to be, which means I have to put the plastic pitcher back in the cabinet where it came from and then, Handyman hands me the stick blender chopper from the sink.

Now why do I have children unload the dishwasher, you may ask? Exercise--for my body, for my patience and my sense of humor. ;)


The hawk that killed Sara was not the same hawk that was in our garage last week. I told the girls we could not hate all hawks. They get hungry too and this is a lean time of year for birds of prey. Everyone deserves to eat and hawks prevent us from being overrun with vermin.

The other important lesson was that Sara was outside the pasture fence. Hawks can definitely get them inside the pasture fence, but those that wander independently run a much larger risk. We lost Flora to a coyote when she was out and across the driveway. We lost Reggie when he flew outside the fence and we lost precious Maria to a hawk when she was outside the fence. I try to tell the girls how that "hedge" of protection is just like the one Mommy and Daddy have around them and when they choose to leave our protection by disobeying, then they are vulnerable to an attack, just like the hens.

I noticed last night that when you dial our home number on Handyman's cel phone, a picture of Sara comes up. :(