Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sisters

This was sent to me as an email. I loved the message. I think it is incredible that we can now be 'sisters' via the Internet, too! The images are just some of my "sisters"!

 
A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance  upon her daughter.

'Don't forget your sisters,' she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need sisters. Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them.'

 

'Remember that 'sisters' means ALL the women... your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women always do.'


What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman thought. Haven't I just gotten married?  Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her mother. She kept contact with her sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her mother really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, sisters are the mainstays of her life.


After more than 50 years of living in this world, here is what I've learned:

 THIS SAYS IT ALL:

Time passes.

Life happens.

Distance separates.

Children grow up.

Jobs come and go.

Love waxes and wanes.

Men don't do what they're supposed to do.

Hearts break.

Parents die.

Colleagues forget favors.

Careers end.

BUT.........


Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you....Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers, Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family: all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

There are more than twenty angels in this world.

Ten are peacefully sleeping on clouds. Nine are playing. And one is reading blog posts at this moment.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Monster Redux

Oh, it has been such a busy week and I don't have a post for Farmgirl and Farm Friend Friday. What to do? Hmmm...what did I write about last year? Oh, here it is. This is last year's post for April 29. Things are almost the same; the sun is shining (finally) and the squirrels are scampering about. Sadly I've lost my sweet Monty and Tucker hasn't learned the delight of chasing squirrels. Hopefully our barn cats will take over Monty's job!

 Let me introduce you to one of my other four-legged friends. This is Monty. Monty is our Zebrador. This is Mr. Mellow. This is Mr. Meek. This is the sweetest, kindest, wimpiest dog you could ever meet.



Today I discovered a different side of Mr. Mellow Monty.....I saw the Mr. Hyde side, and it wasn't  pretty!

Meet Mr. Federation Squirrel. AKA: Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, striped gopher, pest, squinney, nuisance, leopard ground squirrel, PITA (pain in the a$$), #%(%#@$^.

Awwww, isn't he cute?!

Our sunshine and warmer weather has brought more than bursting buds and dandelions. We now have these critters scampering around our yard, road and pasture. They seemed to have enjoyed winter under the snow in their snug squirrel dens. Ma and Pa squirrel seemed to have raised a banner crop of younguns in their magnificent burrow systems. Burrows and horse hooves do not go well together. Being the animal-loving kind of person that I am, and also having found no other way to stop these critters, I have obtained a "Have-a-Heart" trap. I bait it with peanut butter and oatmeal which is apparently irresistible to these critters. Then, I take a jaunt into the country side and release the pest cute little guy in open area, where hopefully, no one will care whether they have a new addition to their neighborhood!
So, today (Are you already predicting the gruesome story that is about to unfold? Have you put two and two together?) I saw a number of these guys scampering in Pippin's pasture. I set up the trap, and withing 15 minutes had myself a squirrel. Thinking about conserving gas, I dumped carefully placed the first victim cute, little guy, into my 'Homer' Bucket, and placed a basket over the top to keep him in.
I caught my second little guy within 30 minutes and was able to have him join his pal in Homer's bucket. Mr. Monty watched with interest. I went on about my chores, stepped out of the barn to find Homer on his side, and one (1) ground squirrel, rather maimed, in Mr. Monty Monster's mouth. One lucky guy evidently scampered to freedom. I turned my back, telling the monster to 'have at it', with only the slightest queasiness as I went up to have my PB & J sandwich.
Hmmm, maybe I can teach an old dog new tricks and I can dispense with being the middleman in this odd food chain!

Check out other neat stories at Farmgirl or at Farm Friend. Happy reading!



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tucker - Next Draft Pick for the Bronco's??

The game goes something like this:



Dreaming [X]: Tucker, come.

Tucker [O]: Uh, what? But, I can smell the deer that were here earlier. They were here. They were over here, too. Oh, and one came this way.

Dreaming: Tucker, come! (throws ball to entice 'bad' dog)

Tucker: But, but... What about the... Oh, goody,the ball! (he charges towards the ball)

Dreaming: (moves to intercept speeding bullet!)

Tucker: (blind sides Dreaming with a perfect tackle at the knees)

Dreaming: (picking herself up and watching the lightening bolt disappear behind the barn) Tucker, COME!! Dammit!

Tucker: But, I wanna see if the pigeons are in the barn. Zzzzip.... Yup, there goes a bird. Can I jump high enough?

Dreaming: OK, Tucker, let's go back into the barn to see if there is another bird. Gotcha!!

First Down - 12 to go!

What's It?

This is one of my newest gadgets. And no, it is not some device for torture!

What's It?

Here it is from another angle.

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Here's a hint...
It is used with one of the items shown below.

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The gadget is a bottle capper. I bought it at a beer supply store where I also bought some 22 ounce beer bottles. I 'bottled' a yummy beer bread recipe for a craft fair. I made the labels (the one on the back has the instructions for making the bread). 

My boys are featured on the label :-)   I used Photoshop to make the label a bit more artsy.

Did you know what the gadget was used for?
Oh, you'd like to have the recipe? Here it  is:

1 Cup whole wheat flour
1 Cup flour
2/3 Cup crushed oatmeal
1/2 Cup (packed) brown sugar
2 T baking powder
2 Tsp salt

Directions:
  • Assemble and mix all of the dry ingredients. No, you don't have to try to stuff it all into a bottle!
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Lightly grease a 9 x 5 x 3" loaf pan
  • Combine dry ingredients with 12 oz of beer
  • Mix just until moistened
  • Pour into the prepared loaf pan
  • Brush with 1/4 C melted butter (optional)
  • Bake for 1 hour until golden brown
  • Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan


Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tap, Tap, Tapping

Once upon a midnight dreary an early morn, while I pondered weak and weary and wished to be snorin',
Over many a Dreaming of a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door window below.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door window below -
Only this, and nothing more.'






Did you find our visitor in each picture? Our visitor is a very silly Robin. (Sorry about the quality of the shots - it's the best I could do without glasses and it seems that my poor camera had some difficulty with this thing flitting in and out and the subject just wouldn't sit still so I could get his picture nicely framed and...and...!)

This is the third morning that Robin Quixote has fought the mighty bird in the window.

Oh, and yes, that white stuff is snow. We had a dusting of it last night. Hooray... a bit of moisture!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Project - Week 14: Bit by Bit - moving forward

This week was pretty ho-hum as far as the project goes. We didn't get anything truly spectacular accomplished, but did tie up loose ends on some things, so I feel that we are moving forward. I didn't get pictures, so even this post is going to be 'ho-hum'!

This week we:
  • put up the bird houses I  won at the auction - oops, forgot to get pictures. I'll try to get some and put them up. The bird houses are really quite cute.
  • painted the master bathroom - well, except for a few spots. I ran out of paint and had to go get more for just a few areas and some touch up.  Arghhhh!
  • installed the range - it is a dual oven gas range with 5 burners. On Sunday I actually heated up a pizza for lunch!
  • put the tub back and installed the new faucets. I have a hand-held shower in the tub - so, I may actually take more baths than showers! I had to crawl as far into the access panel as I could with a can of spray foam. The hose for the hand-held shower kept getting snagged on a piece of wood that holds the tub at the correct height. We decided putting foam under that wood might stop that from happening.
  • finished the tile around the tub and began tiling the shower
  • painted the master bedroom
  • put back some of the fake rocks around the fireplace. When we got the house about 10 of the rocks had fallen off. I mortared them back in place... but in doing so, knocked a few more off. How frustrating!
Oh, wait. I do have a picture of the shower. This has been pretty slow going because the face of the shower seat is not perpendicular near the edge of the seat. My hubby had to shave off the back of the tile, about 4" down on all three face tiles. To do this he has to take a cut that goes into the tile about 1/8". He has to do this over and over again until he has cut the entire back. Also, the tile saw uses water that splashes all over the operator's hands. It was 45 out. The water was really cold. Poor hubby! Well, you know what the say, "Cold hands, warm heart!"


    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Sunday Stills TNC: Wildflowers and Flowers

    April showers bring.....
    the Easter Bunny?

    OK, so this week's challenge is flowers - but the Easter Bunny does have flowers on his vest! Since it is Easter, I decided to pull this picture out of the archives... the long-ago archives.... like 20 years ago! My best friends (my very talented, artistic best friends) made this costume to entertain the children in our fairly small town. Mr. EB would don the costume for Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, for Easter bunny parades and for Easter egg hunts. the usual stuff.  He visited schools. He was a glutton for punishment. Kids would pull his tail, step on his toes and punch him. The temperature inside the suit and mask was always 10 - 20 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature and temps in coastal SC could be rather warm in the spring.  Even Mr. EB's children didn't know their dad was in the suit. It was a deep secret! This Easter bunny has long been retired, but it was fun to find the picture and have an entire bouquet of memories spring forth!


    But, kids, especially 5 year-old kids, think they know everything. Mr. EB's son thought he knew that dad was in the suit, so I took a turn at being the Easter bunny and visited the classrooms, while dad just happened to drop by! In case you have ever wondered what 'Dreaming' looks like... here she is!



    Oh, flowers. That's right. This challenge is about flowers. Where we currently live.... we have none.

    Zip!

    Zero!

    Zilch!

    Not even a dandelion yet. So... back to the archives and the EB theme, but this time with flowers!  Since I didn't take any new pictures, I scanned some old ones and then tried to make it a 'photo' learning opportunity by enhancing some of the pictures with Adobe Photoshop.

    Here is one of my guys with Mr. EB in front of a beautiful bank of Azaleas. We lived in coastal Carolina in this picture. You won't find this where I live now!

    Photo was brightened and annoying spots on the picture were removed with the cloning tool.

    Here's another shot of son #1 searching for eggs among the Camellias. 
    Shadows were lightened

    Here's a close up of the flowers. It doesn't do them justice. 
    But this particular tree had beautifully marbled blooms.
    I cropped the picture where my son just found the egg. The edges were blurred and the light areas where daylight showed through the leaves was smudged . I couldn't get much improvement on the sharpness since it was a scan of a photo, perhaps if I had a better scanner.....

    And since we don't want son #2 to laugh at his brother's 'ancient' pictures being published and not receive the same treatment.... Here is #2, on another year, with Mr. EB and again, you can see the beautiful Azalea's in the background.
    I brightened this one and had great fun removing a person walking behind the EB using the cloning tool.
    (Ah, wouldn't it be sweet to so easily remove our annoyances?!)

    Happy Easter to everyone! Enjoy your spring flowers! I'm sure I hope we'll get to see them soon enough!

    Visit more Sunday Stills challenges to see some beautiful flowers.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    ....And That's No Bull!

    Hay, Pippin, I'm back. 
    Pi-ip-ip-ip-in? Where are you?

    Nom, nom, nom.  Wower here.  
    Nom, nom, nom.  
    Drnmdt nno ooo wrghw gawrghn.

    Don't you know it's not polite to talk with
    your mouth full?

    I said, I didn't know you were gone. 
    Nom, nom, nom.

    How could you not have noticed? Didn't you
    see my Mrs. Owner trying to persuade me
    to go into the big white box on wheels? Didn't
    you hear me neighing to you? Didn't you see
    me going around and around in circles
    until I was wet with sweat? Didn't you
    hear the truck pulling out as I called
    plaintively to you?

    Nope, didn't hear a thing.

    I guess ripping and chewing grass makes
    too much noise. Geesh.
    Well, anyway, you missed all of the fun.
    Ha ha on you!

    Fun? Something better than eating?

    You bet!  I got to go to the lesson place
    today instead of you. And, guess what I got to do...

    Hmmm, if it was anything like my lessons you got to

    turn to the left,
    turn to the right,
    go fast,
    then slow,
    until you get it right.


    Big deal.

    Yeah, OK, so we did some of that. But,
    the lesson lady said that because we were 
    so good we could play for a bit. Did you hear 
    that? We were really good! We musta been 
    better than you! The lesson lady let this animal 
    into the arena. Pippin, let me tell you, at first I
    was scared for my life. That thing had horns 
    sticking out of it's head! A fella could get hurt 
    by something like that, like, I coulda been gored!!


     
    Horns? 
    So, it was like the silly goats 
    we saw a few weeks ago?

    No, no, no. This thing was waayyyy bigger! 
    Why, at first glance I would have guessed 
    it was three times my size.

    Source

    Well, maybe not that big. I guess it really 
    only came up to my shoulder. Well, maybe 
    up to my elbow. I guess it wasn't that big after all.

    So, big deal. Nom, nom, nom.

    Oh, but Pippin, it was.  This thing made 
    very strange noises and it smelled awful. 
    I got to show that thing what kinda horse
    I am though. I got to push that stinky thing 
    around and tell it where to go.
    Ya know what?
    That thing was scared of me!
    Ha, I am the horse!


    Read about other interesting happenings around the country and around the world by visiting either link below. 


     

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    What's It?

    No, no, Tucker, it's not a bone!

    What's it?




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    This is another version of the same tool.
    I made this to help when we were installing the floor.


    Need another hint?
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    These are most often used in wood working.

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    They take the place of pencils and rulers.
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    This is a scribe. It is an antique scribe, but you can still buy them (and make them) today. There are times when they are more helpful than measuring something with a ruler and marking it with a pencil. The wooden screw peg on the scribe allows the user to move the block up or down the bar to the desired size. A nail on one end scratches a mark as you draw the scribe down a length of wood. 

    We used the scribe I made to mark where to cut the floor boards by the door. The sill plate made it difficult to measure the size of board we would need, and it was important for the wood to fit snugly against the sill. The scribe fit under the sill plate and in moving the scribe along the wood by the door the nail on the scribe scratched a line on the floor board to show where we needed to cut.

    Evidence: Hubby does know how to vacuum after all!

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Welcome Followers

    Hi there, new followers. I'm so glad you are coming along on my dream-ride! Sometimes my life is a bit crazy, but usually the ride is pretty predictable and safe!




    I'd like to welcome Deborah Jean from Dandelion House. Deborah Jean has far more energy than I do! She does a lot of 'home making': home cooking, home growing and home schooling. Deborah Jean hosts "Farmgirl Friday" - a link to lots of blogs from folks who are interested in farm-related topics or who are farmer wanna-be's! She's a busy lady and I'm so glad that she's taken the time to find my blog and come along with me.

    Welcome to Kritter Keeper from Farm Tails. I feel so terrible. Kritter Keeper had to tell ME that she has been following my blog for a while. Kritter Keeper lives up to her name. She has lots and lots of critters - both domestic and not so tame, that she cares for. She has a beautiful farm and puts up all kinds of dreamy pictures! I don't know why I didn't catch on that she had joined my parade, and I apologize.

    If there are others of you that are following and I haven't realized it...please leave a comment and tell me. Sometimes I  can be thick like that! Generally if someone has taken the time to click on that button to follow me, then I get curious and check out their blogs and follow them! It's a 'follow the leader in a circle' type thing!

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    The Project - Week 13: Playing Hookey

    This week we took a few days off! At the time it felt great, but both my hubby and I were disappointed that we didn't get more accomplished. However, maybe that break will provide the inspiration to move forward...and work harder and faster!

    As I write that, a Daft Punk song comes to mind (OK, not my usual music... but baby son introduced me to it!) I had to share this creative video (oh, and yeah, what I wouldn't give to have either one of those bodies!) The intro is boring, as far as a visual goes, but it's clever once the song gets going!



    If you prefer to see a male hunk version...click here!


    This week we:
    • Tiled the tub deck and half of the tub front. I sealed the tile, so we can now connect the tub's plumbing and finally finish the front and the back splash.
    • Began to focus on the shower. We received the shower column. This has spray nozzles, a hand held shower and a 'rain head'. The unique thing about this set-up is that we can have all of the nifty features of an upscale shower without having to plumb each water source. I also put in the bottom row of tiles. Now I can build on those as we continue to tile. We bought the shower doors and discovered that we needed to extend a wall in order to install them correctly. The previous doors were Jerry-rigged and we decided not to follow the previous installers lousy solution.
    • Picked out our granite slabs for the kitchen. The granite has been fabricated and will be installed at the end of the month.
    • Picked out the tile we are going to use as the back splash in the kitchen and more-or-less settled on the pattern we intend to use.
    • Returned our extra lumber to Lumber Liquidators. Since it has been over 30 days we can only get store credit. So, exactly how long will $287 in floor cleaner last???
    • Went to the draft horse auction. We didn't buy a draft horse! We didn't buy a cart! We did leave with 3 bird houses and some 'Christmas Crap' that I successfully bid on.... One large carton for $15.00!!
    • Bought two more trees...arrghhh!! One of the 'big box' stores had evergreens at an irresistible price.
    • Leveled the knee wall in the kitchen so the granite will 'fit'.

    Shower Column

    Tile in progress - it should be finished next week after we connect the tub to the plumbing.

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Sunday Stills: Favorite Restaurant

    This week we were given a food challenge. We were to pick our favorite recipe or if so inclined we were encouraged to go out for dinner and show y'all what we like about the restaurant. Will lunch do? How 'bout a take out dessert? This is my newly discovered favorite restaurant. It's a little Italian bakery. The first time we visited the owner/chef came out and told us, in heavily accented English, that we "shoulda tella hima whata we wanta and he will feex eet for us". They also serve dinner, but with our schedules we haven't been able to get there late in the day.... can't wait!








     For more visits to great restaurants, or to see some super pictures of food, visit the Sunday Stills site. Mmmmm, yumm! Enjoy a calorie-free visit!

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    A Tale of Two Trees

    I live on the edge of the high plains of Colorado.  We are on the border of a harsh area. It is windy. It is dry. It can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.  The soil is either sandy or clay, neither of which have much naturally occurring organic matter that helps sustain plant life.  Only the toughest plants survive. Trees are often only found in areas along streams or in pockets among folds in the undulating prairie where moisture might collect.  As you drive through the prairie you will also see clumps of trees off in the distance that mark a homestead established many years ago, perhaps before the dust bowl era. I can only imagine the stories the trees could tell!
     The lovely(?) deer are resting among some of the older trees at our new house. These are the types of trees you might see dotting the countryside. However, a bit further east of this house you wouldn't see the naturally occurring pines - all you'd have is prairie grasses and a few scrub oaks and possibly current bushes.


    Trees are a precious commodity here, cared for and coddled, and certainly never taken for granted. Our new home has two red maple trees that may have been planted as recently as six years ago. If that assumption is correct, the trees would have been very expensive, based on their size.

    Someone at some point loved those trees, but they are now the victims of neglect. I'm writing this entry to show you my trees (OK, for most of you this probably sounds very silly, but coming from the plains where the only trees around are those planted by someone...we value our 'tall' plants!)  but more importantly, to seek suggestions and advice from all of my farm friends and farm girls that may know something about trees!

    Here are the trees. They anchor our garden area which is enclosed by a picket fence.

    The tree on the right is not so much a victim of neglect, but a victim of it's species. The tree has a co-dominant trunk. Maples often do this.


    At some point, maybe in last April's heavy snow storm, the weight or the wind, partially split the tree at the junction of the two trunks.

    This is a very weak point in trees like Maples.  It looks like the tree's resources have begun to repair the damage at the base of the wound. However, the top of the split still has raw, open wood. I doubt that it will be able to heal, especially as the tree leafs out and the wind has more to grab.  So I am having an internal debate, well, and yes, a debate with my hubby about what we should do.... and when.

    1. We can ignore the split and hope that it continues to mend (and hope that it doesn't split down to the base some day during a storm.)
    2. We can cut off one of the co-dominant trunks. Probably the one on the right.
    3. We can drill a hole and put a bolt through both trunks to try to stabilize them.
    4. Your thoughts??

    The tree on the left has a different set of issues.


    Generally I've been told to cut suckers off. No problem. But, my information on pruning cautions against pruning off branches that are larger than two inches diameter as it might leave the tree with less resources


    Some of the suckers are that size, or larger. Might it cause the same problem? So my options with this tree include:

    1. Cut all of the suckers off.
    2. Cut half of the suckers off this year and half next year.
    3. Do nothing and enjoy my Maple bush!

    FarmGirls and Farm Friends... I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions. I also plan to visit other's sites. Click on the links below to do the same!



    Goldilocks and the Three (hundred) Houses

    This house: is too small has no back yard only has a tiny bathroom needs appliances is too dark only has a one-car garage is too cl...