Loosely related odds and ends


It nearly blew us away! Last night’s tornados hit the town 40 miles west of us and the town 20 miles east of us. Weirdly and fortunately, nobody has reported any injuries. Several properties sustained damage however. According to the paper, someone spotted a tornado right by where Grandpa Daddy works, but I guess it didn’t touch down. We had a tornado drill at home, since we don’t have a nice basement to go down into, but a creepy, snake infested, sand crawl space. *shudder* (We didn’t see any snakes so that was good, the foam seems to be working.) I practiced dropping the kids down there, and packed a laundry basket with dried fruit, diapers and some toys for playing in the sand. The drill went well. By the time the storm was close enough for us to actually go down into the crawl space, it had turned south and we never went down. I have the basket ready for next time.

We were a little concerned, since my step son lives in the town west of us. When we finally got ahold of him, we found out he had quit selling vacuum cleaners, moved and is now living with his daughter and girlfriend. We are happy that they are together now. He needs to see Joy grow up, and be a part of her life, however it would have been thoughtful to tell us that he had moved. I hope this is the answer to my prayers about their little family. Being in the same house is a start to being responsible – I hope. Personally I think his worst problem is that he let himself down, by getting Miranda pregnant. While none of the rest of us are impressed by this, (it’s not like she was the only unplanned baby in our family last year) we like the young lady and certainly don’t consider the birth of a baby to be a tragedy! Get over it and move on. He is currently working for a local railroad. Gainfully employed and with his family. Thank you God.

So the rain total for the last 8 days is 7.5 inches. Our garden was under water for the second time in a week, and most of our lawn was as well, you just can’t tell because the grass is tall. I hope I get a chance to mow it for the second time this weekend.  Our garden, see the tomato plants??  That is running water in the foreground.May 08-39

Last night the phone went out. I thought it had something to do with the weather, but it still is on the blink. I am supposed to clean the church this week, and I wanted to today, but I am stuck waiting for the phone guys to show up. I forgot to clean last time. They have three of us scheduled, so if someone can’t, then hopefully someone else will remember.

Our phone company has been threatening to dig in a cable so we can have fast internet. We keep getting propaganda in the bill about this particular service. When I called however, they said it would be a couple of years. Last summer I drafted a petition and had the neighbors sign it, mentioning that we are all interested in high speed internet through them. When I spoke to Doug the phone guy, about it he said he could move us up a few months into 2008. I confirmed the timetable again last week, still before the end of the year. Turns out he is the guy they sent to fix the phone today. In a thinly disguised bribe, I gave him a Netflix trial card. He asked me about Netflix for some odd reason, then bragged accidentally that he has high speed internet, and wants to watch movies on it. I kept my mouth shut and refrained from decking him. He also remembered being at our house two years ago and digging a Hershey’s kiss wrapper out of an unused phone jack. Thanks Jane. I am sure this all is very exciting to you folks, but I am nearly beside myself. I can’t wait to join the information age with the rest of the world. I love living in the country, and getting rid of dialup will be my last hurdle to happiness. Maybe. Well, you know, it will make my life easier.

I signed Jane up for pre-school today on the way to the church. She can ride a bus to pre-school, I just have to take her to the bus stop. The same one Mae goes to, but a different bus. My baby girl is growing up!


What is your favorite movie quote?

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This is more of a paraphrase, “We’re 105 miles from Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, a half a pack of cigarettes it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.  Hit it!”  Blues Brothers


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10 things I miss about being a kid


  1. My brother
  2. Exploring the canyon and hills behind our house
  3. My 66 Ford pickup
  4. Sour cherry pies
  5. Running the swather and eating sunflower seeds
  6. 4H
  7. Playing house (I found out that it is more fun in theory than in practice)
  8. Skinny dipping in the crick
  9. The smell of sagebrush
  10. Playing A Team in the barn loft

I still find plenty of time to play with my kids, but they don’t get the hang of A Team for some reason.

Here is Mae’s list of things she likes about being a kid at age 5

  1. Playing Barbies
  2. Playing on our swingset
  3. Playing with her sister
  4. Going to church
  5. Watching kid tv in the morning with Dad
  6. Special treats, like pop
  7. Birthdays
  8. Talking to Grandma on the phone
  9. Coloring

Letter to the Editor


I recently wrote a letter to the editor, with some facts about our representative, mostly to the effect that a nonpartisan group has ranked him consistently in the bottom 10% for effectiveness across several paramaters, as in the whole house and in his class and his political party and in his committees.

What is surprising is that three people have called me about it.  Fortunately all three have been quite complimentary, one was the guy running against him (who hasn’t a prayer of a chance) and another was one of his ex-colleagues in the state legislature prior to his current job.  It would never occur to me to call some idiot who wrote something in the letters to the editor column, whether I agreed or not.  I guess if someone calls offended I will tell them I have known him longer than they have and nothing I wrote was opinion, it was all fact.  I really hope that doesn’t happen, because I will get flustered and won’t be able to remember what I was going to tell them.

I am taking the kids for pictures tomorrow.  I asked for a battle-hardened photographer, one who could get all four looking in the same direction and smiling naturally if possible.  That seems too much to hope for, but I am eternally optimistic.




Mom, don’t read this. Stop here and find something else to do. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

I told the kids I was going to clean the fish tank today, as in stay out of trouble while I am doing this. Janie said she wanted to help. They are her fish after all, she really enjoys them. She cleaned the algae off of the mermaid with what she calls Dad’s toothbrush. It is an old one of course. Then she supervised me cleaning the gravel with the suction thing. Mom, you gotta stop reading now, I mean it.

This morning I awoke to the dulcet tones of my husband shouting “Holy $#!&”. We had another snake in the house, this one a granddaddy garter snake. It was huge and in our bathtub. We don’t know how it got in the tub, it couldn’t have made it through the drain, it has a screen on it. We could see some dirt tracks on the ledge of the tub, so we speculate it came up through the overflow for the tub, but that had to be a squeeze for him, he was enormously thick, like about the size of 50 cent piece. GD said if this keeps up, we are gonna move.

Then, he confessed to what I have long suspected, he would “rather not” handle snakes. He kind of hinted around that maybe I should take care of it. I pointed out our unspoken agreement, I do poopy diapers without complaining and he does pest removal. We don’t have a screen on the bathroom window, so he just tossed him out the window. Hopefully the dog got him.

My step dad, my knight in shining armor, is supposed to come help me do some honey do projects next weekend, like snake sealing. Last time he was here, he got sick, so he didn’t do much, and I understand. I hope Mom is feeding him lots of vitamin C, and you better not be reading this Mom. If you read this and change your mind about coming, I may never forgive you. Now that the snakes have made it to our end of the house, GD has taken some serious interest in getting the problem solved.

Your basic update on my kids

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I had a baby on a Thursday morning (obviously a few months ago). The ladies go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the teacher sends home notes in their back packs to keep me in the know. Our neighbor helpfully took the kids to school that Thursday. Paul and I came home from the hospital on Saturday evening. When Tuesday rolled around again, the neighbor offered to take the ladies to school again, and I let her. I sent them off with their coats and back packs. As is my habit, I looked in each back pack when they came home, and found a note that had come home on the previous Thursday informing me that Jane would have show and tell Tuesday. Oops. I asked Jane what she did, and she pointed to the ponytail holder with a jingle bell attached that has been riding around in the bottom of her back pack for months. Later Mrs. Z said she did a great job describing it, and demonstrating the bell.

This time, she took Paul. Mrs. Z did an awesome job getting her to tell about the baby. When she asked what the baby eats, Jane said “Nummies” which of course means both breast and breast milk at our house. Paul behaved himself well, he smiled when called upon and did not cry. He even let the other kids hold him a little.

We spoke with the lady who evaluated Jane the other day. She said her language development is on schedule. I guess for some reason, she is just hard to understand. I don’t have too many problems, but others do. She continues speaking while inhaling, (can you do that?) so the lady suggested visiting an Ear Nose and Throat doctor to see if maybe something was blocking her vocal cords. I remember even at four months, she sounded like a baby pheasant. The last time she visited an ENT, he pulled an enormous gob of foam out of her nose. Our Dr ran blood tests as well and said her lead levels and iron levels are normal. Abnormalities would be indicators of pica. I guess it is a relief to know that Grandpa Daddy’s calling her Weirdo (in a kind way) is justified. I haven’t made a decision about the ENT. It might just be that she does her own thing in her own way. Maybe I will ask our Dr for his opinion when we take Paul for his (*gasp*) six month checkup next week. How can he be that old?

Jane picked all of my daffodils a couple of weeks ago, right before we traveled west. Then last week, she picked all of my tulips. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I know why she is doing it, she wants a bouquet like a “wedding bride”. I guess our iris plants don’t do much, so they are safe.

Mae taught herself to read. We have been paging through Dick and Jane for the past two or three weeks, sounding out words, then last night GD came home from voting with a sticker that had a V that looked like a checkmark and said Nebraskans Vote. Mae said “That says vote” then she and GD sounded out Nebraskans. She blows me away. I stand in awe of my daughter, and I feel sorry for her Kindergarten teacher this fall! The principal said they work at keeping the kids with others at the same reading and math levels. This will probably mean Mae will be reading with the first graders, and maybe doing math there too, miss “I can look at my fingers to add numbers”. (I still look at my fingers to add numbers.)

Leo has some vocabulary quirks. He can’t say dog or cat, but he can say Bob the Builder (badabulda) and Firefighter (fififirefire) and Schoolbus (poobah). He also tells knock knock jokes, which nobody else understands. Usually they involve “knock knock,” “who’s there?” “Knock knock” etc.

Paul is smiley and happy and spits up all the time.  That is about it for him, no awesome rollovers or even sitting up by himself, although we do his baby calithenics.  While on his back we practice running, walking, kicking, boxing and clapping, then we do three sit ups and then we practice rolling over once from back to front.  This is a vigiorous workout for a baby!

I hate naptime on nice days. Leo needs one everyday, and the ladies need one today too, but I would rather be outside having fun with them right now. Then this evening we have to go to a rehearsal for Saturday’s dance recital, so when they get up we will have to hustle to get a sitter for Leo then off to town, with not enough time to play.

Spring Cleaning

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I had the ladies help me clean the playhouse this afternoon, in lieu of a nap.  They had fun, and we got all the leaves and desiccated worms swept out.  Then I gave them a basin of warm water with a squirt of Palmolive in it and told them to wash their dishes.  They use them in the sandbox too, so they get plenty dirty.  They had a blast.  Some day I will post a shot of our playhouse, I don’t have the patience to do it today.

I got GD a plum tree for our 11th anniversary this year.  We used to have the world’s ugliest plum tree living in our yard and I complained for 9 years before he removed it.  So I replaced it, in another location.  We planted the tree yesterday, and I measured our grass.  Some of it is literally knee high.  Not very much, but we need to get the mowing deck on the lawn tractor.

This week is full of the last day of pre-school and two dance rehearsals and a recital.  We went to my stepdaughter Janine’s graduation this past Saturday.  She was lovely, and eleventh in her class!  I hope she comes to the ladies’ recital, we asked her to.  Now that school is out, she has fewer excuses.  She is planning to go to school for dental hygenistry.  They may not call it that at her school.  You couldn’t pay me to stick my hand in someone else’s mouth, that is gross, but I am glad people want to do it. 

We hung out at her house and played some drum/guitar game on the Xbox, or something, which confirmed my sneaking suspicion that I am not musical.  The band members (on the screen) actually walked off the stage at one point in disgust for my drumming skills.  We got to see the grandbaby, Kay, and took our first family photo since 2004 which included all of the kids.  Kay and Paul really hit it off, so did Leo and Janine’s other half brother, Tyler.  Tyler is three, but he was really happy to have another little boy to play with.  I guess if we ran in the same circle as GD’s ex-wife, the could be friends, but then that would be a little too weird for me.

They were having a hog roast, but we didn’t stay that late.  We took the kids to eat at Ole’s in Paxton.  Jane is in love with her Zebra and her Sad Baby, the polar bear.  Ole was a big game hunter, and he has a full mount of a polar bear. And then on the walls they have displayed probably a thousand mounts, including a zebra, an elephant, and a giraffe, which we ate underneath.  They also had some more typical mounts like a jackalope and a buffalo and deer and moose and elk and well, you get the picture.  The food is pretty good, but the ambiance is great.  It is right along the interstate if you ever are traveling through.  I better get the dishes done.

A Positive Outlook

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“Always look at the bright side of life.” I believe the great philosopher, Monty Python said that, and he was right.

My mom loves me. She loves me so much she got me a box of fancy chocolates from Whole Foods, so they are definitely healthy. I got them home to find out they had melted into one ugly but tasty piece of chocolate. I wasn’t planning to share them anyway. I guess when you take out all of those poly-unsaturatedhydrogenatedcarbohighfructosecornsyrupfats, you remove some of the stability as well. So now when I want some chocolate, I take it out of the fridge and gnaw on it. Then I lick my fingers. I wasn’t planning to share it anyway.

Today GD looked out our kitchen window at what was a cute row of tulips last year.  This year only four came up and only three bloomed.  He commented disparagingly about how our use of salt to keep our walk safe in the winter had killed the flowers.  I pointed out that Mae had just today complimented me on the pretty flowers.  He saw what wasn’t there, and she saw what was.  (in his defense, she probably doesn’t remember what it looked like last year)

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

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 It literally took two hours to upload these darn pictures.  Ridiculous! Then of course, I realized that I had just downloaded the photos from my camera then uploaded them here, without switching them to right side up.  I guess if you really care, you can twist your head.  I don’t wanna tie up my phone line any longer, so here they are.  My apologies.

DSC00386Now that mud season is in full swing, I am wanting to fix my mudroom. It is broken. The shelf next to the laundry tub has eggs to be washed, tub toys, baby shampoo, vaccine guns and a calf drencher. If you don’t know what that is, just imagine what it might take to force feed a 100-900 lb animal. Not only an incongruous mixture, but unsafe as well.  

The kids can’t hang their coats up, so they end up on the floor alongside the bag of cat food and the bag of calf manna (formula). Muddy boots reproduce in the dark corners of the room, and left handed gloves weep for their worn out and tossed mates. Four coats (a jacket, a warm school coat, an older coat for helping Dad and an extra odd jacket) per person, let’s see, 4X6=24 plus throw in a couple extra chore coats and three pairs of coveralls plus snow pants for everyone. Yeah, we are easily looking at a minimum of 35 articles of clothing. Obviously we don’t need the snow pants or heavy coats now, but if I stow them somewhere, I will spend two weeks trying to figure out what I did with them while my family freezes this fall. DSC00387

The whole shoe situation is a mess. We have shoes all over the place, and no good place to put them. GD won’t toss any of his. He even has a pair of homing boots. I have tossed them three times and they keep ending up back in the mudroom. He doesn’t wear them, but he can’t get rid of them. I just counted 28 pairs plus four half pairs of shoes in there. What are we the Marcos family? Personally I like to keep a couple of old pairs of tennies around so when I need to wade out in the corral, I don’t have to ruin my newer ones, but 28 pairs seems excessive. To do a little math, 28 divided by five is over five pairs a person (Paul is currently shoeless). I try to keep some off season stuff in the trunk, but it just isn’t handy for shoes, they make a mess or we forget them, and it isn’t vented.

I am unable to change the cap situation, GD has to wear a nice one to work, because he is a manager and all, but he can’t bring himself to toss one that still has wear in it, so we have, let me count them, 25, which have some sort of tire insignia on them, seven of which are official “company” hats. Then there are the “dress” caps, which don’t have the store insignia on them, but are advertising something else, like Caterpillar or (*gasp*) the Huskers. I also counted seven caps which fall into the miscelaneous category, neither tire nor nice.  I think I heard somewhere that if you wash caps, guys will no longer wear them, they loose their patina or something. Might be I could try that, but it is like a vacuum, more will come home from work and we will be at square one.DSC00385 I told him of my plans to do some serious arranging and mentioned the vaccine guns etc.  He suggested keeping them in the top cupboards of our pantry.  I pointed out that I have had a 13 gallon bag of caps he was previously unable to part with stored up there for the past 8 years.  He had the good grace to look sheepish.  We probably could put the calf stuff there but it is maybe a little too out of the way, I have lost stuff in those cupboards before!

The only thing I like about the room is the wall of cupboards. I keep boxes (*blush*) in the left side one, (in my defense, it is too small for our vacuum, but I put the broom in there once and couldn’t figure out what I had done with it for a month, we won’t discuss that further) home canned and pantry stuff go behind the middle two doors then my tools and paint and so on in the right side. Actually I like the laundry tub and the toilet you can get to without walking on the carpet as well. DSC00389

 The room has two doors, one leads from the garage via the laundry room, to the left of the potty (if you are sitting on it, the right if you are facing it ) and another which comes off the hallway to our kitchen/dining room by the sink.  You see this is what happens when you don’t have an experienced contractor help you with your addition plans. You have a maze of small weird rooms which don’t have the space to properly achieve their stated purpose.

I need serious help. I plan to get a cupboard to hang high behind the door (or maybe in the laundry room) for the vaccine guns, and some sort of hook things for the kids’ coats. I also have a bag of dance stuff I would like to put in here as well. I can’t hide many of the coats behind doors because frankly they need to be aired out. Probably I need to commission a cabinet for next to the sink, 2X2X3 with two deep drawers on glider things. Otherwise I am at a loss. Money is definitely an object, but so is my sanity at this point. If anyone has advice or experience in organizing mudrooms (aside from contacting Extreme Makeover, Home Edition) I would be glad to listen.

DSC00388We came home from vacation once to find our “friends” had made this to hang off the mirror of the work pickup. We had asked them to keep an eye on the livestock, and apparently they had a little too much time on their hands. It is so heavy it pulled the mirror off the windshield, but it gives our mudroom a nice cedar smell…

I went mattress shopping and found a bench/coat rack piece I am considering. We could put the current season’s school coats and backpacks on the hooks, but the down side is this piece will have to be in our dining room/kitchen. Would you want something like that in your dining room for actual use and not just for the looks?  If I get it, I would junk a fairly unattractive piece which collects a lot of dust in that corner.  It is not a formal room, obviously, just a big table with junk piled on one end and a sticky laminate floor with a dusty old ceiling fan above.



We got our branding done today. The weather was beautiful. Grandpa Daddy just finished a set of corrals on our west place this morning, it was so new the wood sparkled! By the end of the day we had baptized the whole thing with cow manure. GD also has a list of things he needs to fix so the setup will work better next time. ofrf-066

We have some friends who help us work our cattle, city people who did not grow up around livestock. How do you teach an adult to work cattle? They stand too close, are too loud, are in the wrong spot, can’t tell a pregnant cow from a new mama, and the worst of all, they can’t intuit what the boss is wanting, when what he says doesn’t make sense! I gained this wealth of knowledge in much the same way my husband did. Our dads yelled at us. This is a time honored method of teaching. For generations now, fathers have been yelling across the corral at which ever kid is not doing the right thing. The yelling is important, because a smart kid will listen to what is going on and will avoid making the same mistake his sibling just did. It isn’t wise to go off on your friends though. I didn’t realize it was so instinctive until GD pointed out to me what one guy was doing. When I replaced him, things suddenly started going smoothly. How do you tell a guy with a Civil Engineering license that he needs to stick a 2X4 behind the last cow so she doesn’t back down the alley! Fortunately GD’s nephew usually helps and he is savvy. He probably got yelled at by his grandpa and his dad.

GD went off on Mae early on, telling her to “just shut up!” My SIL was offended, but I have lived with the child for several years, and I can understand that it is hard to think when she is rattling, and I am sure she was making the cattle nervous. She did fine after that, staying out of the way and being relatively quiet.ofrf-036

I grew up working cattle the old fangled way, with horses. GD’s father sold his last horse years ago, and used four-wheelers and squeeze chutes after that. They have their place, nobody we know ropes, so a chute is a necessity, but when a calf climbed out, I was the only one who knew how to wrassle it. I had the front, and two guys who both weighed more than me were holding the back down. I guess it is like learning to do long division even now that we have calculators. You still need to know the basics.

ofrf-024 Some of you might recognize the back of this guy’s head.  He has moved on to younger wrassling partners.

There are many things my husband and I don’t do well as a team, but we do pretty well working cattle together, and I don’t think a lot of couples can say that.


We go tomorrow to pick up Jane from her extended stay with Grandma and Papa. I guess I will go clean up the kitchen while these darn photos upload. I have been on the internet loading photos now for over two hours. ofrf-041 Longhorn calf.

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