Saturday, February 28, 2009

Over the Hill?

I'm trying not to be insulted, since I know it was unintentional. The letter from my Church kindly solicited by ideas about a social gorup "for single and/or married people between the ages of 25 and 49. The survey goes on to list both adult and family activites and gauges my interests in them, given that they have somehow targeted me as being in the "raising a family" bracket. Probably because I have a seven year old son in CCD (Sunday school) classes.

Why would I be miffed? Well, in one year - I won't be able to participate in this group. I will effectively be too old and will have to consign myself to playing bingo with the "over-the-hill-gang". (Our Church calls it the Prime Time club, but we all really know it's the old people club.) I am not quite yet ready to hang out with the retirees. I have, in fact, only just again begun this vocation of raising a child and it will be some years before I am finished. Dh, three years young than I, laughed, saying they have me gumming my food already. He can laugh - at three years younger than me, he won't yet have his AARP card arriving.

With people working longer, living longer, and having their children later, will we have to break out of the school grouping mentality and not group people by age but rather by interests? I do hope so.

This topic reminds me of friends we recently caught up with over dinner. Both about sixty five or so, the husband will often ask for a senior discount. He is always careful to point out that he is not yet qualified, but his wife is. Fortunately, she has a sense of humor.

Of the two newest chickens, one is a rooster. I will name him Travis.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Going Green

I have tried, whenever possible to make more energy efficient choices. It is difficult to do in a house that in a previous life was a sieve, but we try. I recently replaced our electric fence charger with a solar one. We recycle, compost, and use all food for either dogs or chickens. Several years back, I began replacing all of our light bulbs with the more energy efficient fluorescent spirals.

A selling point for me on these bulbs was that they supposedly last years and years. Guaranteed to last five to eight years! Because it seemed I was constantly replacing a light bulb somewhere, I began to replace each blown one with these long lasting, guaranteed-to-last bulbs.

And one just burnt out. Then another. And I know it hasn't been five years. (Or has it? In my advanced years sometimes I forget things.) I got to thinking how easy it is for them to make such a claim - lasts 20 years!!! Who keeps all the receipts and packaging to prove that this light bulb is only three years old and clearly did not live up to the guarantee? I am lucky to find my car keys. Although, sometimes I do have packaging and receipts laying about, though it isn't that I am planning to get my full five years from a $4 light bulb, but rather my piles of unorganized mess. Ah well, such are the injustices of life.

Mist today. Looks like Scotland.
Reading: Outliers
Watching: The Other Boleyn Girl

Cauna, our Americauna chicken who lays blue-green egg, produced one this week. (She is very old for a chicken laying.) Otherwise, we get two bantam and two brown eggs a day.

The horses are shedding - a sign that the days are getting longer. Horses shed (or alternately, grow coats) based on the hours of sunlight in a day. Spring is coming!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Ash Wednesday

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Monday, February 23, 2009

My Town Monday: Bats in the Belfry

The Sauer Building remains the only complete Victorian commercial building in my town after a series of fires from in the 1800s to the early 1900s. With the exception of this building, our historic commercial district buildings date back only to the first decades of the 1900s. I have found one reference saying the building was built in 1815 and another says 1875. Which is it? I'll need more research.

When I first moved here, the first floor housed an old-fashioned, Mayberry RFD style hardware store. Times and StuffMart being what they are, the hardware store closed and became a "laser technology" store, with air conditioning.

For some time, I never gave the old building a thought, though I don't know why not. Look at the windows. Don't they make you wonder what is up there? Well, at one time, I had heard that in the early 1900s, it was used for dances on the weekends. That intrigued me somewhat, and thought it would be something to have such a space available for our teen homeschool group. But then I got busy with other things and soon forgot about it.

Fast forward to a recent teen dancing/costume party, and I thought again of the old building, once known as the Opera House. It turns out that the space above the store once was used for dances, basketball games, school productions and plays, even rollerskating. It has a stage and the original fixtures. (I am wondering if that means in the bathrooms as well. Likely.)

The room(s) have been in disuse mostly (one reference to rolling bandages there in WII) since the school gymnasium was built in 1912. Our thought turned to the possibility of an old fashioned dance floor there when contemplating future contra dance sessions for our teens. Yet, a friend recently emailed and said that some years back, the owner took her up there to see it, and it was a "bat hotel". That means holes - and possibly damage. It definitely means guano.

I am saddened by the recent news of family and friends who are sick. One beautiful young lady with melanoma on her scalp, dh's aunt with liver cancer, and most recently, my dear brother, George, who will undergo radiation for colon tumors, likely cancerous. Though out of my control to help them, my prayers and thoughts go out to them. May God hold you all in His loving hands.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby!

There are times when I feel too old to have such a young child, to be the mommy of a seven year old. Then you'll call me and show me the joy of discovering a particular bird or bug. You'll laugh and race me to the barn or wonder aloud at the formation of stars in the night sky. You challenge me to crawl up the hill from the creek after looking for fossils, and let me watch in amazement as you discover mathematical principles on your own. And you hug me, and make me feel like gold as you tell me I'm the best mommy you ever had, I tell you I'm the only mommy you ever had, and we laugh at our joke. You make me happy. I only wish this time would last forever. Happy Birthday, William.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just a Few Disjointed Notes

A note to Jennifer: I loved, my dear neighbor, when you in jest said that God was testing you with this weather to see if you meant it when you moved from Florida to Kentucky. It occurs to me as I see the white-out conditions outside right now that by living nearby, I have to participate in your test! It is a good thing that we dearly love your family, or I might have to hold this snowfall against you. At any rate, I've not seen a winter this "difficult" in a long time, and perhaps it is just part of the cycle of the Earth.

Buffy, not the vampire slayer but the old hen, has mites. She also has extremely long toenails. You really have to be an animal lover to bother to treat a chicken crawling with cooties and to clip her toenails.

Rotten wood does not burn very well. We are down to our last sticks of wood, and the HVAC guy says our little Mitsubishi Mr. Slim heater has blown its charge - no freon. Because we live in a technologically challenged area, it will take him at least a week to research it and find out why. Hence, I better start scaring up some wood. Dh bought a chainsaw and is out cutting right now. This is only to heat the one room that doesn't have electric heat, but if it is unheated, it makes the rest of the house cold. In my next house, we'll have a real furnace, not radiant heat (although it is quiet).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Phone Envy

Like PITA, my two year contract is up on my cell phone. Two years ago, I was talked into writing my name into cement that I would pay through the nose monthly to be able for anyone to reach me anytime: in the bathroom at StuffMart, as I hurtle down the highway, if I am visiting family in another state. There are both positives and negatives to being so accessible.

What did we do before cell phones, I sometimes wonder, yet live I did in such times. In fact, I don't believe I had a cell until I was well into my thirties. My kids have never known life without computers or cell phones. Unlike me, they don't ponder the magic of signals that in seconds transmit around the country looking for me and on finding me, make my phone ring. They've never had to have long conversations while attached to a corded phone. With instant email, they've not had to wait for weeks to correspond with someone in another far off place, or had to search through microfilm at the library to find some fact for a research paper. Advantages?

Yes, of course, there are. Yet, today, it is hard to "get away", to stand on an overlook surveying nature and to be alone with that. Some peace is lost in being so accessible. Yet, I will renew (or get a new) contract for phone service mainly as I want to be available to my kids at all times should there be an emergency, such as they really, really need new socks while I am at StuffMart and could I pick some up?

After forgetting two appointments yesterday, dh says I need a Dingleberry where I can store all my calendars and reminders. More and more of my acquaintances have iPhones and iTouches and whole computers stuffed into little tiny devices in their pockets. The monthly service cost puts me off, and while I admire them as others hold the devices for me to see like they were photographs of their newest puppy or grandchild, I am stingy enough to not want to pay the hefty monthly fees associated with them. Will it really keep me up to date, in touch? Or, does our technology make us more isolated than ever?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Purple Columns


Dear February,
I've had it and it is time for you to leave. We've had to put up with your fickle changes in temperature, from temperatures less than 20 degrees F to 60 degrees F in the same week. We've had ice, a foot of snow, more ice, rain, clouds, lost power three times, and a gloomy cloud cover that has everyone running to their Bibles to look again at the words that predict the end times.

Today, we are expecting high winds, hail and possible tornados. My lights are flickering and I've had to reset my digital clocks twice. I thought I should check in on my blog before you once again point out my inexcusable unpreparedness for natural disasters.

Fine, there went the power and I have not yet posted this blog. Just great. This post was written at 8:20 in the morning. We'll see if I get to post it. Luckily, this computer runs on battery, and I have not lost this post entirely. Neener-neener, February. Go blow your winds on that.


Postscript: The power has returned. 9:13 a.m. This is like living in a third world country.

Anna has begun watercolor classes, an interesting new venture. At class yesterday, an elderly student was telling everyone else that her "hip" has been recalled. She'd had hip replacement surgery on both hips, and the implant was recalled, though she doesn't yet know why. This could be fortuitous as one side never really was right (could it be that it is recalled for this reason) and one would expect that the company doing the recall would pay for the surgery to reclaim the bad hips. On the other hand, the poor woman has to go through the surgery again.

When you homeschool, and some of your classes are online, having the power out is a problem.

Phantom (my pony) seems to like being in with the miniatures, and has even show a little aggression. You may think this a negative, but it is not. You see, he's never fought back, stood up for himself. He needs to be able to see that if he tries, he can push other "people" around. When they are not fighting, he loves his little pet ponies, and they stand close to him under his tail or by his chest.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blogaversary Posts

I never did get around to my list of favorite posts since I started blogging years ago. Going back through all the blogs, finding favorites and making a list seems to be an overwhelming task right now, although so does balancing the checkbook, which seems to take priority. So, with that in mind, I thought I might just pick one (or two) blogs each Sunday, take the day off writing - so to speak. I'll start now. These two blogs are re-posted because of all the blogs I've written, they've gotten the most hits. It is one of my favorite stories as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lime Green Shoes

My son, W, suddenly grew out of his new gym shoes, as children will and so, we made a trip to the local superstore. For some reason, young W loves to try on shoes. The most colorful catch his eye first. He admires greatly the red sparkly Wizard of Oz shoes for girls, the flowered sandles and yesterday, the plastic lime green shoes with bright yellow soles. As I scanned the rows of shoes looking for just one pair of size 9 boys' gym shoes, W had made his choice. He had his shoes and socks off and was trying on the pair he had to have.

I tried to distract him with the boys' shoes that lit up when the wearer walks. Uninterested, he asked me to tie the lime green shoes. He proudly walked the aisle. The shoe clerk who had been helping me walked up with an "oh, my!". At $5 on sale, I decided that the easiest course would be to buy the shoes, and let him wear them around the house, getting the light-up Thomas the Tank Engine shoes for real wear. But no, he wanted to wear these home, and the helpful clerk said that it would be allowed, as long as I kept the tag for checkout.

So, we made our way through to the front of the store, my son sporting undoubtedly girls', lime green shoes. Amusement fought with shame in my mind. What were people thinking of me to put my boy, decked out in grey sweatpants and a navy windbreaker, in lime green shoes?? W walked proudly, enjoying it all. Amusement won out. People definitely could see him coming. I briefly thought that if I lost him in the store, at least he'd be easily located by the color of his shoes.

We went on our way to pick the girls up at their horse riding practice. The reactions of people we met cheered my day and made it well worth the $5 purchase price. I laughed all day.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lime Green Shoes Part II

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Good Clean Fun

Our town has little to offer young folks on a Friday night. We have no skating rinks, no bowling alleys, no malls or laser tag. Some young kids will gather on warmer nights in the parking lots in front of the sad, worn movie theater until the cops chase them off. Yet, when I say I homeschool my kids, the first question I get is about socialization. What about the prom?? (That, of course, is the whole reason someone should send one's progeny to a public school.)

Last night, I was privileged to be the chaperone at our homeschool group's teen group's annual costume party. Dressed in outfits from Bon Jovi to nineteenth century belles (one whole group dressed as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), the kids played card games, ping pong, and learned the Virginia Reel. They laughed and danced and danced. And I wondered - why aren't we providing more kids with this kind of opportunity? Why don't we work off all that energy with more fun like this?

Lauren was beautiful as "Emma" from the book "Emma" by Jane Austen and Anna was fun as a French artiste. Moi, I dressed up as a demoted black belt. I had found a black tae kwon do outfit at a thrift store but wore my own brown belt with it. We had to stop to buy pop at the pony keg (some regional dialect there for you) and I had to strip down to the pants and a tshirt, for fear someone might take me on and test if I was really a black belt. I came back to the car to see Anna with her hand over her mouth, hiding her moustache from cars parked nearby.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lots of Art

We had the pleasure of attending the gallery opening of the artwork that won the "Gold Key Awards" of the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest. Anna won one Gold and two Silver Keys. The person who had hung the exhibit must have had a sense of humor, for she hanged Anna's painting Temptation above another painting that had just legs and windows. The legs from the painting appear to be William's (in the upper painting).

The girls were amused by the sculptures of heads. This was a self-portrait by another student.

Last night, we watched Anna receive her awards. We are very proud of her accomplishments and are happy for her.


The youngest of our chickens that hatched this year firmly declared himself as a male today, and he didn't crow (if you were wondering).

Today: put out a round bale for the bigger horses who seem agitated that the field is nothing but mud. They are happily munching away.

William and I explored the creek today. We found some feathers where something had a midnight snack. We are investigating what bird it might have been. We'll report back.


I had an honest drawing and Travis won Cloudia's book. I'll get it in the mail to you on Monday, Travis.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Little Boy Hands

My friend, Christine, mother of three boys, did not warn me that little boys' hands smell. She did warn me about gym shoes, but not hands. One of the tasks I have as William's at home piano instructor is to make sure he shows up at his lessons with his formal piano instructor with clean hands, fingernails neatly trimmed. Upon inspection, his hands smelled. Badly. I sent him to scrub and later in the car:

Me to William: Your hands smelled like Cheese Doodles!
Aside to Lauren who accompanies us: Why would they smell like Cheese Doodles???
From the back seat where Wm sits: I know, but I'm not going to tell you.
Lauren and I look at each other.
Lauren: I know why, too.
William: Don't tell her.
Me (catching the drift): Are you telling me your Cheese Doodle smells like a Cheese Doodle?

Later, I watched as William's instructor showed William how to move his fingers, carefully holding each finger and making the correct motion. Each day, he manipulates little fingers that have been God-knows-where. Lauren is considering studying piano pedagogy as a career. I wonder if that degree comes with hand sanitizer, and I image her sniffing each little hand before every lesson, having been well taught by her brother.

Anna's Most Recent Oil Painting Finished

Suggest a title for her.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Have Worms

Lauren tells me that the term "brain worm" describes when you have a song stuck in your head. I have brain worms constantly. In fact, I have an entire colony of brain worms that retain the songs that Lauren is practicing on the piano. Should we lose electricity, no problem. I have music always in my head from her hours and hours of practice. The downside is that sometimes, I want the worms to be quiet. Like RIGHT NOW! The upside is that Lauren plays beautifully and the music is quality. Brahms' Rhapsody is playing right now.

Only one word needed to describe Kentucky right now: Mud.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I Almost Choked

Although his feast day was February 3rd, our Church gave the blessing of St. Blase today after Mass to anyone that cared to come forward. I pushed William forward, given all his allergies and adenoid problems. As we stood in line (the slow one of course), William asked what we were doing. So, I explained the deacon would say a prayer that William would be saved from throat diseases while holding a pair of crossed candles to his throat.

"Won't they burn me???" he asked.

The candles are unlit, of course, for safety reasons.


Phantom (pony) is continuing to be beat up by the other horses, resulting in injuries. We have put him in with the miniature horses, and it seems to be a good setup for him as they make good buddies, but the paddock is too small. I'm not sure what the long term plan is going to be. Perhaps I shouldn't keep him.

Buffy (chicken) is also getting beat up by Aloha Mo (rooster) to the point of a bleeding comb. She is old and doesn't deserve it, and I don't know what the long term is going to be for the chickens either, as I can't give Buffy away, but I only have two coops. And, one is falling apart.

Can you tell I'm not having a good day?

Update on my dad: I saw him yesterday and he continues to progress!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Aloha from Kentucky

Locked in a frozen world here, I escaped to Hawaii, Waikiki to be exact. I listened to the unfamiliar sounds of a language I don't believe I've heard spoken. I followed a woman, June, on her spiritual growth and journey. I met her dog, Kimo, and wondered aloud if June was related to Cloudia. I met an "auntie" that I hope was real.

Cloudia writes that the book is largely autobiographical, and that Kimo is real (you'll have to read the book to find out why she points this out). So, if you are one of the many people that virtually travel to Hawaii via Cloudia's words and beautiful photos on her blog, you can read more about her through her book, ALOHA Where You Like Go?

I have decided to share Cloudia's book with one lucky reader. You can be the next to receive this copy of Cloudia's book. These are the conditions:

1. I will chose the recipient from those that post a comment on my blog stating they'd like to be in the drawing next Tuesday.
2. You must agree to read the book within one month and review it on your blog.
3. You then will send the book (at your cost) to another reader of your blog that is willing to do the same.
4. Although the book is registered on (which might be the best way to track it's location), you will include the link to the blog that sent the book to you and a link to the blog that you sent it to so that readers can follow where the book has been and is going.

If it works well, I will do this with the books of other bloggers and have a place on my sidebar to track books I've "released". I wanted to start with Cloudia for her words often touch my heart with her kindness and I am intrigued that she lives in Hawaii on a boat. (I try not to hold that against her.)

Ashes, Coffee, and Cannibalism

Last Sunday, our family was driving through the snowy streets toward home. We passed the town cemetary, and for no particular reason, I turned to dh and said that I ought sometime to go in there and pick out my "space". Dh's reply was that I would not need a space, given that he was going to have me cremated should I die before him.

Now, he knows that I don't want to be cremated (it is now here on record!), especially after hearing on the radio that when a body is cremated, it makes the bones very brittle but does not dissolve you completely into a pile of ashes like Wiley Coyote on a Roadrunner cartoon. They then take the bones and grind them up. Dh says he's going to borrow my friend's Vitamixer.

Huff. No, I said, I saw Meet the Parents. Remember when grandma or whoever's ashes are knocked off the mantel by the cat which then proceeds to use the ashes as a litter box. No thank you. Bury me with a tree planted on top. My body will nourish the tree.

No, dh insisted. He'll cremate me and use a spoonful each day in his cereal. He laughs. A chorus of "EWWWWWW" comes from the kids in the back. No, maybe he'll just put a spoon in his coffee each morning. More "Ewwwwwwwwww!", this time I join them. That is just gross. Well, he said, they do call it a crem-atorium. I will leave this life and become coffee creamer. Just what I always aspired to be.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

He didn't marry me for my housekeeping skills

I received an email from dh, who has been out of town but is returning today, thank goodness! He had to stay an extra day, unexpectedly in Las Vegas (poor thing) where it is 65 deg. F instead of 20 deg. F:

I went to put on my white tshirt this morning. I always carry an extra set of under clothes in case of travel delays. It was a white pillow case. No arm or neck holes...

Oh well.

I swear it was unintentional.

Winter 2009

For a week, my world came to a stand still. The house went cold and silent. When we would go home to check on things, it was lifeless, a shell that could easily be removed with no consequence to humanity.

As the week progressed, we realized many things. That our place on this planet was not this building, the ability to heat it, water to drink from it's taps. It was the people who lived in it, the people who lived near it, the relationships we had in our community.

After the power was restored, I heard a familiar regret (mingled with relief) in the voices of friends. Regret, you might ask? Why would anyone regret the end of such an ordeal?

All schedules were cancelled. Technology was largely unavailable and people began to seek each other. Staying with friends and neighbors, or hunkering down with family in front of wood stoves, people came together.

I don't know how one fully thanks friends who gave up their privacy and homes to take others in, but it was repeated in this crisis across our community. We had the pleasure of gathering with friends over the four days we were out of our home, enjoying each other's company in the absence of our normally busy and independent lives.

Kindness was evident everywhere. People slowed their lives, and asked about the welfare of others. Friends remarked that they wanted to retain these lessons, to remember to connect without waiting for a crisis. Times like these truly change one's priorities.

Now, as you know, cold is not my forte, and I was delighted to be staying with neighbors who found the snowfall to be a novelty, having just moved from Florida. (I agree with them that this storm was God's way of seeing if they truly meant it when they moved to Kentucky! Are they here to stay?)
Jim, the father, gave our kids a lifetime memory. He hooked up his Gator to a string of sleds and pulled the kids about his field. After, William said, "Thank you for pulling us around. Now we'll know what to do with our kids when we have them."
(Photo courtesy of my friend, Becky.)
Sledding was a daily activity.

Jim and Jennifer's house was filled with families coming together, and later, we all went into town to the Irish pub. Here is the table full of kids that went with us. The adults enjoyed their meal at another table.
Like the blizzard of 1978 which brought my family together for a week in front of the fireplace, my kids will remember this winter like no other, as will I. We remain indebted to our friends and neighbors who nutured us both mentally and physically through this time.
On Sunday, while doing our horse chores, we saw the power company trucks rolling down our street like the Allied forces coming to liberate the country. Dh and Lauren jumped up and down, trying to get their attention, but only appeared to be cheering the workers on. Shortly after, our lights came back on, though it took until 11 p.m. that evening before our house was warm enough to return.

I am finding it difficult to get back in the saddle again. Perhaps this is because we've had more snowfall this week, cancelling most activities on Tuesday, when we got over four inches of snow. It remains frigid here, and just motivating ourselves to do horse chores takes a monumental effort. I am told it will warm up later this week. I do hope so.
Aloha Mo (rooster) has a girlfriend. He was integrated during this cold with the four large older hens, and "Hawk", a reddish mutt hen, fell head over heels. He guards her as she lays her eggs, and they roost together at night.
Phantom (pony) is a bit skittish and picked on by other horses. One probably scared him and he ran into something, leaving an upside down V-shaped cut on his face. It required about five stitches and five staples, but seems to be healing well.
My blogging routine is ruined, but I am working on trying to get back into the "habit". There is so much to do to catch up.


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