Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Winter is coming soon, or so the mice think as they have begun moving indoors - my indoors. I realize the irony that I will try to save any living thing, (and in fact once raised rodents - hamsters) but I regularly trap and kill mice. I show no mercy. I showed the fat one I caught last night to Lazarus to motivate him. Quite a good mouser when the mood strikes him, he growled and hissed at the dead critter.

We live in an older house near the woods, with easy access. The mice must consider us their winter home, their Florida trailer park. (Do they call themselves Snowbirds?) We were alerted to the situation when Lauren began dancing around in the kitchen after a mouse ran out of the spaghetti box, over her hand and ran across the floor. Three dogs and a cat gave chase, while I directed them as to which way to go and yelled, "Get it! Get it!" The cat and Daisy injured it to the point I was able to get it by the tail and put it outside with the cat who I'd hoped would finish the poor thing off. Later, all the dogs spent some time sniffing and pawing at the base of the wood box, so I fear that it must have escaped to be killed another day.

Soon after, a mouse jumped out of our pantry onto my shoulder, ran down me onto the floor. Okay, I thought, this is war. I reorganized the kitchen (putting dry things in a less accessible cabinet) and began laying traps. I've caught several already. I dispose of their bodies in secret so that I don't have to play 20 questions with William about his mother, the mouse serial killer.

Farm Notes:
Roxie, the foal, loves to groom Lazarus the cat.
Roxie and Quid (Lauren's horse) have a bazillion ticks (ew!). They are little tiny ones, and difficult to locate in Roxie's fuzz. No wonder she's always itchy. I thought we were past this time besides the fact that I've never found ticks on our horses before.
Had Jorgen (Gotland pony) adjusted by the chiropractor yesterday. He needs it twice a year at least, having had some major unknown injury prior to our purchase of him. His back and jaw go out and he is visibly quite sore. After treatment, he ran up the hill, tossing his head, obviously feeling his studly self again. The chiropractor visit itself is another whole blog. Later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


"Porkchop" (self-nicknamed) came into the Church thrift store today. A stocky black man, he's a bit disconcerting when he talks to himself. Today, he was loudly repeating "THAT!" for no apparent reason. He's a minor celebrity in our town, but he's no Otis Campbell of Mayberry fame. There was no concensus by residents in interviews for our local paper as to whether Porkchop is mentally retarded, mentally ill, or just plain different, but I don't believe he's the town drunk. There is also no concensus as to whether Porkchop is harmless or no.

Mostly, you'll see Porkchop on the streetcorners in our town, lifting a hand to wave at passers-by and sometimes shouting out to them. He stands talking to people that walk by. Sometimes, people will call howdy to him. I don't think I've ever seen him without his signature white hard hat, but the other day, I saw him with a gold one. Today, he was hatless, his bald head shining over the t-shirt table. I asked him where his hat was.

"Oh, I'm working today," he claimed. At what I know not, for to my knowledge he has no job except unpaid town greeter.

I asked about the gold hat. Oh, he told me, that was his special hat and that hat meant he had something good going on that day. I retreated to the back of the store to sort more clothing donations, when I heard a ruckus up front at the cash register. Porkchop had only fifteen cents, though he had items that cost more. Chuck, my co-volunteer, challenged him a little, but let him go, saying he'd catch Porkchop next week.

Our small town has it's small town mentality but I've often over these past twelve years been warmed by the genuine affection shown to people here that are a little different. It's nice to have someone acknowledge your wave as you drive by.

Monday, October 29, 2007



An article in National Geographic focused on the secrets to a long and healthy life. The gist of the article was that to live longer, we must exercise (WHEN?) and avoid meat, wine or any kind of alcohol, sugar, and caffeine (meaning chocolate, too). Doing so will help you to live an additional 4 to 10 years.

Now, in between bites of her tofu salad, the 112 year old described the highlight of her days as when she takes a nap. I don't know about you, but if giving up all of the above results in sitting for a decade in a nursing home, waiting for a diaper change and my nap, I'd rather have my filet mignon, wouldn't you? Who wants to live to be 112, I ask you? Maybe 100. So I'll assume that my lifespan is 100 years, and that by eating meat, drinking a glass of wine now and again, and eating gobs of chocolate, I'm giving up that last 12 years. I think it's a bargain.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Yesterday, Wm. came downstairs in the morning and declared, "I dressed myself!" and climbed into my lap. Still sleepy, he gave me a long hug, said "I love you" and looked up with a beautiful smile and his big eyes - and farted. Then, laughed. Boys.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Yesterday, some stuff fell out of the sky. Rumor has it that it was rain. I haven't seen it in so long I wasn't sure. This is my favorite time of year. It is beautiful in color, cool but not cold, and great outside weather. It's hard to get going in the morning, though, as I would love to just like in bed with the windows open and listen to the birds and feel the breeze.

Farm Notes:
The white silkie chicken sat on her eggs to the end. Not one of five of them hatched. Her mate sat with her the whole time, practically on top of her. I feel sorry for them.

We've "flipped" the horses, meaning flipped their schedule. They are in the barn at night now, and out during the day. Their coats indicate that winter is coming whether I want it to or not.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Walk Like a Man

Photo: Wm and Daddy working on the front flower bed. They removed the ink berry plants that masqueraded as landscaping. (I'll not be getting any awards from Better Homes and Gardens this year.) Note: the red adult-sized snow gloves.

Today, Wm and I took a pickup truck load of stuff to the dump. When we got there, he got out his gloves and said, "Now, we're going to get dirty like a man!" The 1970s feminist in me bristled. "Mommy gets dirty, too!" I exclaimed, thinking that I was protesting something that most women would deny ever happens to them. Still, it seemed the hightlight of his day to visit the dump. He was chucking wood out of the pickup with pure joy. Keeping him physically active is a constant challenge.

Today's activities on the farm: went to the dump, did laundry, dishes, floor, cleaned bathroom, fed chickens, groomed horses, went to the hardware store for a socket wrench to demolish the pool, watered the pasture with newly aquired sprinklers, hooked up trailer and hauled two horses to riding lessons, unhooked trailer and drove to get a round bale of hay. Returned to put round bale in the pasture, unloading it by driving off really fast (Lauren claims this is the "hillbilly way" but it worked) and then returned to pick up trailer and horses. Returned home to off-load horses and make dinner. Drank some wine. Now, time to read to Wm and go to bed.

Just so you know how our family works:
Lauren noticed that dh had a hole in his jeans and declared, "Dad, you have a hole in your butt." We all spent the next half hour laughing because as we all know, everyone does.

Burning Time

When you should be studying or paying bills or doing the dishes, instead you can burn time staring at this dancer who is making the email rounds. I saw it only clockwise, and thought the description fit me well. Dh, however, is definitely more left-brained, and also only saw her dance clockwise which gives me one data point discounting the scientific accuracy of this test. Lauren taught me to reverse her by staring at her foot on the ground.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Taking Down Memories

As I worked on removing the vinyl liner and some of the decking around the pool today, I paused as a wave of sadness came over me. I thought of all the friends that have sat around its edge. I thought of hot summer nights of squealing kids swimming with the daddy. All three of my kids learned to swim in the pool. Now, it lays with it's age showing, a shell of its former self.

William, only five, won't likely remember this pool, won't remember the summers we spent near it. It was a good pool.

Not Good Enough

Last week, the girls were slated to take the CLEP (College Level Examination Program) Test to get college credit for Freshman English. Like a very poor role model, I left some details to the morning of the test, including stopping at the bank on the way to the test to retrieve the girls' passports kept in the lock box. To take the test, you are required to have a photo ID.

Again, showing my superb organizational skills, I was brought up short by a dark bank with a sign declaring it closed for Columbus Day. Just great! I don't really understand the connection between Columbus and bank holidays, but this really threw a monkey wrench in the morning.

Returning home, I called the testing center which adamantly refused to budge on their rule that test takers must present a valid, government-issued, photo i.d. Lauren had her learning permit for driving, but Anna had no other i.d.

I can tell you the exact hour of the day of the week she was born, in what hospital and the doctor that delivered her. I can tell you that I was the first human to touch her head. I could show records charting her growth, tell you what her favorite foods are, and how she has little freckles on her nose. I can tell you her clothes size, her shoe size and that she prefers long tunics to short tops. But that, that isn't good enough.

Instead, I could take a valid birth certificate (which has no photo, so could be anyone's birth certificate) to the courthouse, get her photo taken and that government employee could issue a photo i.d. swearing that the person in the photo has the name on the card. But the mother of the child? No, that's not good enough for identification purposes.

Anna was rather relieved, wanting to take the test at a later date anyway. She smiled as I told her that they'd let Lauren, but not her, take the test. Myself, I will not wait next time until test day to have all my details covered.

P.S. Lauren passed, and now has 6 hours college credit!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Blogging on Blogging

Every now and again, I go a couple of days without blogging. It begins to feel okay to not blog, since I have so many other useful activities to fill the time, like eating and paying bills. I'll get to thinking I'll not write anymore, and see what it feels like. Just about the time I'm thinking I'll quit this nasty habit, someone will mention how an entry made them laugh or how they feel it keeps me more in touch with them. It's hard to resist. Ego is such a small word for such a big emotion.

If ever I think I could become a serious, money making blogger (yes there is such a thing), I visit Notes from the Trenches, who gets as many comments in a day as I get people just reading. That knocks me down a notch. I can see her photos are a little better than mine (okay a lot better) which I suppose would be helped with a digital that you can actually see what you are shooting (my screen is now broken).

Adsense by Google (see ads in the margin) will not be making me rich, despite my grand illusions. In the almost three years I've blogged, I've earned almost $70. I say "earned" though I've not seen a penny. They pay based on the number of clicks on the ads, but only after you achieve $100. At this rate, I only have a little over a year to go and I'll make that $100. Wonder what that works out to per hour?

Perhaps I should count my riches in the number of people that I call friends who I've made smile a time or two.

Future Pilots?

Boys at the controls during a tour of a regional airport.

Girls take a turn.

There was a time when a good looking guy turned my head. Now that I have the most good looking guy all married to me, the sight of a good looking guy has my mind calculating.

Mmmmm....6'4". Too tall for Lauren. Born in 1983. Mmmmm.....too old for Anna. Oh, well. Maybe - hanging around getting one's pilot's license is an interesting way to meet well-heeled guys though, eh? Oh, the shameless mamma. I guess this wasn't supposed to be the purpose of this field trip.

A Sign of My Times

Dh and I were laughing the other day that when a woman is younger, she looks at the other women at a gathering and thinks, "Boy, I looked as good as anyone there." But as we age, the conversation turns more to, "Boy, at least I don't look any worse than anyone there."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Boys Need to Do

I let him go up and down the ladder to deliver supplies. Of course, he would not be satisfied until he actually sat on the roof of the shed dh was reroofing. That lasted 5 minutes until he said, "I'm bored!" That experience tackled, he climbed down the ladder and declared he was going to the garage to get another hammer, as he needed to practice his hammering.

So two hammers rang out yesterday, both accomplishing important work.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Dh says I smell good - I've been working on removing stickers from the horse trailer. I now have a new perfume: Eau de Goo Be Gone. Must be a man thing.

We put up 120 bales of hay this morning. The woman who came with my "hay man" and is his daughter, threw the bales up three high faster than dh and I could stack. "Slow down and let them catch up!" Joe hollered to her.

"I'm almost half-way to fifty," she joked, boasting at her strength and ability, and I guess denigrating ours. She must have thought we were younger than we are, which I guess is a good thing. But a 47 yr old, and a short one at that (I'm half her size) can't sling hay bales like a long shoreman. I'm going to be sore tonight!

Had two horses trimmed. We couldn't even pull the shoes off of Quid, Lauren's horse, because of her terror of the farrier. She even had a sedative. We're going to have to tranquilize her. We're headed now to visit Ginny, who is at a local barn for training.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Missing Link

Perhaps I'll find that it's a pack rat. Yes, that's it - somewhere in my house there is a hole in the wall where this rat lives. In there, he has every pair of scissors that I own, several rolls of transparent tape, my tweezers, about 20 fingernail clippers, all my permanent markers, rulers, the stapler, and added just this week, my potato peeler. Now, tell me, why would this pack rat want a potato peeler?

Unless....No, it couldn't be that a little boy would think that the potato peeler was perfect for peeling the bark off of twigs. Nah. It has to be a pack rat.
Update: If you find the pack rat's hole, could you ask him to return my potato masher, please? I need it to make applesauce.

Bought $40 worth of apples today. Big kids pick fast. I guess I'd better get preserving, squishing, drying apples, or eat a lot.
Photo by Christine
BTW, look at this face. Are they sure it was Eve that did the tempting?


Ever get "forward"that everyone you know sends to you? The latest in my inbox is the email about the Invisible Woman (link to excerpt) that is from a book by Nicole Johnson. In it, the writer laments that she is often invisible to her family, working diligently to mother and care for them, not immediately seeing the results. She bolsters her self-esteem by comparing her job to the building of a cathedral:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

I loved this part, identifying with having faith that I am making good choices for my family even though I won't see the end result for years to come. (Truthfully, though, I see a good deal of results right now.)

Because it was forwarded to me without credit to the author, I did a quick Google and found her name right away. I clicked on several links to see that some bloggers have put the whole excerpt on their blogs without given credit. (Can you spell plagiarism?) Anyway, in my clicking I ran across a group called Alt Support Childfree, a group of people that consciously choose not to have children. I was completely taken aback by the angry and mean tone. Still am. I looked past that though and tried to listen to the message and found some truth in it.

This author becomes a martyr in her words and actions. She has become invisible to her family only because she's allowed this to be. We've all made choices, and we must stand up to those choices. I'm not saying that being a stay-at-home mom isn't hard, that sacrifices aren't made and willingly. It is likely the hardest job in the world. I'm saying that if we are invisible, if we feel we are not being heard, we need to voice that to our families or make other choices - find other outlets. I will say that I do get this martyr feeling once a month, however, but I recognize it for what it is.

I make no apologies for staying home and building my cathedral. It will be very beautiful.

Farm Notes
We are off to pick apples today at a local u-pick-it. William says, "MOM, when are we going to go already?" so I've not proofed the above very well. Please be kind to me.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


If you have a young child, you probably hear the word "why" more often than a person ought. "Why" challenges my knowledge of the world and stretches my memory to it's limits. Maybe that is why I continue to read a lot and learn - trying to keep up. For example, I bet there's not a mother among us that has not been asked why do men have nipples too? They obviously don't need them. Up until now, I have given the answer that God put them there for decoration. I've got a better answer today!

I've been reading Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different-And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men, and in Chapter 3, it says:

It may surprise you to know that all young creatures start life being female. The Y chromosome that makes a baby into a boy is an 'add on' chromosome that starts to act in the womb, to give a boy the extra bits he needs to be a boy and to stop other bits growing. A male is a female with optional extras. That's why everyone has nipples, though not everyone needs them.

Well, that solves that mystery of life!

Farm Notes
I've not even been outside yet.
The chicken coop has been moved, but I need to clean it.
The stud next door was gelded about a month ago, and at night, we hear squeals and donkey-like brays as he and Jorgen determine who's boss.
I need to measure the roof of the shed - it needs new shingles.
The pool, now defunct and empty, is collecting acorns and leaves. I need to dismantle it soon. I look at the decking on the pool and think of building a clubhouse for Wm. Think. Not do.
The days are alarmingly short.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Down the Road


Once a week, I volunteer two hours at a thrift store run by my Church. For two hours, I unpack clothes, refold them, hang them up, arrange knicknacks on shelves, throw out less desirable donations and straighten the shelves. Each week, I look forward to going. I am often asked why I do this, why would I work for free?

There are many answers, but the most telling would be that my time there puts me in touch with part of my community that I might not otherwise get to know. I've come to be comfortable with a large black man always wearing a construction helmet, talking to himself and shouting at cars that pass by. That's "Porkchop", a sort of dubious celebrity in our town.

I've exchanged buenas tardes with Angelica who tells me the sweet story of how her non-English speaking father could not understand why everyone stared at him when he wore his esposa's sweatshirt, until it was explained to him that it read "World's Greatest Grandmother".

I worry over the morbidly obese woman who can hardly walk, but even more worrisome, has a van so packed with garbage with a space only big enough for her body that I wonder if she is a hoarder. She buys more stuff even as we are closing.

Sometimes, I marvel at the two black women friends that come in, so enjoying each other's company and talking up a storm, and that with my white ears, I can't understand them at all. They have a secret language.

John wasn't in this week. He's Hispanic and friends with Chuck, my co-worker. John washes dishes at local restaurants and seems to be alone here. I wonder how he came to our area.

The woman who mops the floors at McD's stops by with a friend, their English non-existant. They're followed by a man who sweeps through daily, looking only for Derby glasses. Another regular laments that she hasn't found anything to buy that day, yet another day asks me how she can keep from collecting more things and learn to discard.

This week, an Amish woman and her baby came in. I dared to ask her (not wanting to intrude) if she was with the men painting the bank in town? Yes, she told me, that was her husband. I told her truthfully that they were doing a beautiful job and that it was appreciated. She smiled widely, but said nothing. I noticed that Amish do not have very nice teeth, or at least she didn't, young though she was.

I get to see Raidy and RuthAnn, the elderly couple who runs the store, who would otherwise not be of my acquaintance. RuthAnn tells me how happy she was that I was in her line at Communion last week. Chuck talks to William, who is always with me, and says that he saw a boy dressed fancy at Church last week that looked like William. "That was ME!" William squeals.

So in this rich, 98% white county, I see a richness in diversity in a small shop on a side street. Do you not see that I am the one that receives?

Farm Notes

In my last blog, I wrote ""Miniature horse foals cannot walk upright on laminate flooring in the basement. Ask me how I know." Dawn wrote: How do you know? Well, Dawn, the foal will slip under the electric fence and come running anytime she sees a human. One day she was with me while I worked in the garage, and I forgot she was there. Our garage is a walkout from our basement, and forgetting she was there, I walked into the basement to put away a toy, leaving the door open . The next thing I knew a terrible clatter, much like Santa's reindeer on the roof, was in the room with me. It was Roxie, who'd followed me in. I had to support her weight to get her out, as the laminate floor was like ice to her hooves.

Ginny, Anna's horse, has gone to training at a local farm. We drove her there with her best bud, Quid (Lauren's horse), put her in a stall, and prepared to leave. That's when the fireworks began. She is quite pushy and buddy-sour, aside from the general issue of needing more training. We expect it to take at least several weeks. The other horses will surely miss her.

There are dead leaves everywhere. I hate dead leaves. I love the fall. What a contrast in sentiments.

Got the horse trailer fixed - lights, brakes, broken window. I wonder if Walmart needs night help?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Of Grave Concern

Within a short horse ride of our house lies a large property belonging to a local television station. It was purchased for the construction of a weather station tower. Local horseback riders have benefited by the station looking aside if anyone rode there. While not given permission, we were also not prosecuted. That is, if we did not ride and scare away deer during hunting season when executive big-wigs came to prove their manliness.

In the late 1800's, this property had been a farm, and until recently, the old farm house and barns stood derelict and a shell of their former selves, housing buzzards that would take flight and scare the horses out of their skins.

On one ride or two, we came across a graveyard. Intrigued by the possible history of the place and the story of the people, we decided to return with a camera and a notebook. But of course, it took many more rides to finally locate the overgrown plot. Lauren in particular was intent on finding it.

Today, she and Anna located the Duncan cemetery, likely the owners of this farm in the 1870s or so. We are going to take the photos and information to the local history museum to see if they can tell us more about the Duncans. The farm was on a route from the Ohio River to a spring in our town we know from a previous visit to the history museum. Several of the stones marked infants or a daughter age six.

Sadly, I hear that the property is to be sold and my guess is that it'll be subdivided for yet more houses.

Farm Notes
Dry as a bone. I did manage to weed my herbs and found some parsley, oregano and a few other herbs surviving despite my neglect.

Picked a bunch of red Cubanelle and Hungarian hot wax peppers. Tasted some of each and found them to be sweet, not hot. Yet, when I went to clean my contacts.....Well, let's just say that I've not been drinking should you noticed that my eyes are bloodshot.

Miniature horse foals cannot walk upright on laminate flooring in the basement. Ask me how I know.

We are preparing to store as much hay as we can stuff into the barn. It has been a bad, bad year for hay and people are rushing to buy it like Louisvillians run to buy milk and bread because we could get snow flurries. Truly, people are already paying upwards of $6 a bale here where we normally pay $3.50. So, we're going to buy a bunch now, for even our hay guy will raise the price in January.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Been Busy

With the change in weather, we've been outside more, trying to catch up a bit with a yard let go during extreme heat and drought. We've also enjoyed getting out to ride a bit more. Keeping up with girls studying dual credit high school courses keeps me hopping as well. I am again learning my French language skills and immersing myself in Algebra. Life is good - and full.

Farm Notes

The chickens are not laying - nada. They are lucky that it is 2007 and that I have no idea how to butcher a chicken, nor do I want to learn. On the other hand, the silkie pair that I've verbally given away to a friend have finally started to lay and are sitting on eggs, so that they cannot be moved right now.

Quite a scare yesterday - a man stopped and rapped on our door. If a stranger comes to our door, either they are Jehovah's Witness members or a horse is running down the road. He told me that a mini and her foal were running down our road and inquired if they were ours? We rapidly prepared to get the truck to go see, but soon discovered that the horses in question were not black, like Maggie and Roxie, but buckskin. The man had put the horses in a neighbor's fenced yard, but we were never able to find them. I hope that they were found and put back where they belong. My heart got a good workout in my temporary scare.

I've decided I'm not a gardener, yet I feel ecologically I should try to grow things. Yet, I'm such a dismal failure at it - not enough time. However, I have enough hot peppers right now to supply a Mexican restaurant. They evidently like hot, dry weather and total neglect.


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