Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another day older

My grandma always said the older you get the faster time flies by. The older I get the more I realize how right she was.
Yesterday was my birthday.
I feel like I just had the last one a couple of months ago… and here I am tacking on another already. My son asked if I was now 51... I said “Yes, we’ll go with that!” He just smiled and gave me a hug. I’m choosing to believe it was one of affection rather than sympathy.

I got several nice gifts from my family, which is always a plus. My older daughter and her family gave me a nice soft robins egg blue robe and slippers. My Mom gave me an adorable snowman snow globe to add to my collection of snowman items, and a nice set of kitchen knives since mine have been disappearing. My younger kids gave me a cute snowman dessert set. My hubby helped me to build a padded headboard for our bed which I’d been wanting to do for a long time. Since it was MY day, he even let me cover it in a floral girlie fabric that he might otherwise have vetoed.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

With the holidays coming up…

I am in a rush to get my Christmas shopping done.
Ebay and online stores are all too happy to help me in my quest. I HATE going into stores, and even more-so, Malls. I don’t wanna be surrounded by crowds or stand in line waiting to spend my hard earned money on overpriced junk. I don’t want to have to walk 10 miles to find 2 gifts. So I shop online and have it all delivered. Can’t beat that for convenience!

I go to Dollar General and buy their best Christmas wrap. By Thanksgiving I have 26 gifts waiting for the Christmas tree to go up so I can once again get to the stuff on the top shelf of my bedroom closet. It’s fun being able to feel like Santa for a day. It’s even more fun to feel like a kid on the receiving end.

This year my youngest child is an official adult. I’ve decided in honor of her now being one of us underprivileged self-supporting folk, I am going to refocus my gift list. I will no longer splurge on spoiling the kids and spending more than I can afford to make them feel spoiled. Instead, I‘m going to spoil my spouse of 22 years. For far too many years he’s gone without so others could have more and I’ve decided it’s about time we shift to a new way of thinking. I know what it feels like to be one of the martyrs at Christmas. I’m sick of it and I dare bet he is too; Even if he’s too humble to say so out loud.

Well, I’m beyond being humble. I want to feel like a kid at Christmas again. I want to get gifts and have the magic that used to be Christmas land in my lap for a change. I don’t expect the kids to have enough maturity to want to repay the many years of expensive gifts and effort we’ve given them. But I do plan to reward myself for 34 yrs of sacrificing as a parent so that my kids would have a special time. I have bought a gift for dear hubby that will knock his socks off and put him into a state of shock. When he gets back in his semi the day after Christmas, he’s going to feel like he’s been upgraded from Economy Inn to a Hyatt Regency. He’s going to have an Inverter so he can power a microwave… a Tv and DVD player, a coffeemaker, or whatever else his big sweet heart desires. If he gets stuck in some Interstate rest area during a snowstorm he will be able to have a warm meal, entertainment, and a nice cup of coffee to keep him comfy. He’s done without far too long. It’s about time he gets something for himself! It will lift my spirits just to see HIM get spoiled for a change!

Bah Humbug children…
Merry Christmas life partner of mine.

The puppy pile is dwindling

In the past 11 days I've sold all but 3 of my dozen Labradoodle puppies. I've been lucky to find so many really nice families looking to share their lives with my dogs. Only 2 have gone to families with little children. 2 have gone to unmarried young adults. the rest have gone to nice middle aged empty-nesters much like my husband and myself.

I love that Mama dog is ready to see the pups go. She greets each couple coming to pick out a pup as her next new best friends. She wants them to pet her, cuddle with her, and when they leave, to take a pup with them. LOL She's tired of the milk teeth and tiny claws tearing at her. She's tired of the pups hogging the attention and getting so much of my time. I've watched her as each of the pups have been taken, and see no sadness in her. She's a wise old girl... she knows the time has come.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Too much fun!

Too much fun!

I've got blisters on my hands
and grass stains on my knees
from kneeling, digging in the dirt
planting my sweet peas

My hair is streaked with highlights
my skin red from the sun
so the bulbs I planted and watered
will sprout before May is done

My nails are chipped and dirty
fingertips bruised and sore
there's still some grass on the front lawn
I obviously need to do more

My body's growing weary
every joint is screaming in pain
I don't want to drag out the hose again
Please God make it rain

Just when I think I'm finished
planting for this year
along comes a neighbor with more plants
I need to get it in gear

A gardeners work is never ending
there's always more to be done
'cause once you're hooked you cannot quit
it's just too darn much fun!

John and his pal Jack

John spent most of his 74 years building things. He worked as a mason and had the wore out knees and shoulders to prove it.
Six days a week for nearly sixty years he'd shown up at work; done his job and gone home again to his quiet little apartment. Some nights he sat with cool compresses on his arthritic joints, but most of the time he drank a bottle of Jack Daniels to numb the pain. He and Jack were familiar friends. It was Jack alone who welcomed him home. Jack who could make him feel better. Jack who kept him company.

John prided himself on his work. He had little else to think of, since once he got home he stopped thinking at all. He could work as fast, as hard, and do a better job than any of those young guys the boss seemed so intent on hiring. He often said They didn't care about the job, they just wanted the paycheck. Their minds were full of wives, and family, and bills.

John had never fallen into that trap. He remembered watching his Father work himself to the bone for his Mother who was never satisfied, his brother who was always sick and needing Doctors, and medicines they couldn't afford. John swore at an early age that he would never allow himself to be trapped like that.

John could take you for a ride around the city and show you the hundreds of buildings he had worked on (If anyone had cared to see them.) The straight lines of the brick and mortar hard proof that he'd earned his keep. He didn't owe the world a dime and never got anything that he hadn't earned.

John had all he needed with his work. It paid for his apartment, supported his drink, and had let him build up a tidy sum for his retirement. He'd worked till he was 72, then quit when his back just couldn't take no more. So John sat at home. With Jack. And watched out his window as others scurried back and forth racing to make a living, chasing after kids, running errands for their wives who surely could have done it themselves.

Johns patience with women had long since wore out. His Mothers whining and praying had done no good. In the end Joe had died in spite of the Doctors and money they'd spent. Then when he thought that perhaps he might get a bit of her time, she had shrunk into herself with a grief that she never came back from. Damned women!

Johns routine hadn't changed. He still woke with the sun and passed out by supper time. Even Jack didn't seem to be able to comfort him like he used to, but John didn't complain. Who would hear? He'd be damned if he was going to ask for help now. He'd done for himself and would continue to. Even though the arthritis was making his joints swell with fire and his gut burned until Jack numbed it. When he could no longer walk to the store, he had his things delivered. Oh how he hated those delivery boys who always stood with their hand out hoping for a tip! He gave them a dollar and thought that was more than they were worth. His order was always the same, so it's not like it was hard for them to pick his stuff out and cart it around the corner.

Sunday he had salmon on toast. Monday canned soup. Tuesday he had the rest of the salmon. Wednesday fried ham and beans. Thursday he liked that chicken in a box, Friday sometimes he'd splurge and have the bar downstairs fry him up some of that fish that smelled so good coming up through the vents. By Saturday he ate his leftovers and prided himself on saving a days meal expense.

John used to read the daily paper, more often than not a day or 2 late after the bar was done with it and he could scoop it out of the dumpster. He'd read it less lately, as the steps were getting too steep to climb just to read bad news. He had no company. No friends, or family left to bother him. He changed clothes when he remembered, and bathed when his skin began to crawl. No one bothered him even on the rare occasions that he did go out because the smell alone told them He had nothing they'd want.

John passed away one night alone in his bed. His heart gave out and he died as he'd lived; quietly, unknowingly. His absence noticed only by Jack, who sat un-drank in the cupboard. Some might say his spirit left him that night. Those who had once known him knew it was gone long ago.

Demon, fly like the wind!

I'd like to share with you one of the most exhilarating joys I've experienced. I feel privileged to have had such an adventure. I only hope I can tell my story well enough for you to enjoy it as well.

Since my pony was young and foolish like I, we made a perfect team for such a stunt!

Just sitting atop an animal with such beauty and strength is amazing. To be unfettered by the comparatively slow human legs I was born with makes me feel as if I'm flying. Getting in rhythm with the movements of the horse, you can almost believe it's a part of yourself. The effortless rocking of it's wide back pulls you forward as you watch the massive muscles in the shoulders rippling. It's mane flies back, waving like a flag over a conquered land. For a time you are more than you were. You are part of a history so noble and free that your heart can barely comprehend the enormity of it. You are there because this creature allows you to be. It shares with you the joy of running with the wind.

I have always loved animals. From the time I can remember I had pets of one sort or another. I had dogs, and cats, and rabbits, and a snake. I had a baby raccoon, and fish and a bird. Yet as much as I enjoyed them, I had always wanted a horse.

My first memory of riding a horse was when I was about 4. I clung to the saddle as tight as I could not out of fear of falling, but to resist any who might try to pull me off before I'd had my fill. I leaned forward and smelled the neck of the horse, ran my hands along it's sleek neck and knew that some day I would own one. There was never any question of if; it was simply when.

When I turned 12, my parents had gotten tired of my begging and told me if I were to have a horse I'd have to buy it myself and pay for its keep. Rather than the stumbling block they expected this to be, this became my incentive to work long hard hours at any job I could find. I babysat 6 days a week, picked cucumbers till my fingers bled, helped clean up debris from a flood. No job was too difficult with my goal in mind. Toward the end of summer I finally had enough money that I approached my parents and announced I was buying a horse.

Never one to go back on his word, my Father shrugged his shoulders and took me around the countryside looking at a variety of horses for sale. When I saw Demon for the first time I knew I had to have him.
His one blue eye stared out at me as if challenging me to try to best him. His spotted body was red and white. His long tail dragged the ground and he had a fire in him that spoke to me.

By winter, Demon and I had become great friends. He would hear me coming and pace the fence waiting for a glimpse of me. He enjoyed our rides as much as I did, even though there was ice and snow to trudge through and the going was a bit slow.
One particular day we were both feeling the constraints of winter pulling us down. We had gone for rides, but had been cautious, fearing a slip and a fall would be more than we'd bargained for. Demon was frisky, tossing his head and prancing, and begging me to let him go... just this once. I held him back till we got off the road, then neither of us could stand it anymore. Once we reached the field, Demon was bursting to break into a canter. His trot broken every few strides by the gathering and tucking of both hind feet; we crossed the field this way, testing it out for icy patches and both wanting more. Finally we reached the end and turned around. Looking that half mile back, we both knew we were finally going to let go and fly.
I tapped Demon lightly with my heels and off we went. Snow flying in a trail behind us like a hurricane in a powder keg. Faster and faster we went until our hearts were singing and we both knew there was nothing in the world we'd rather be doing.
Since the field was flat, the snow had drifted in places and Demon had to hop to make it through. So up he'd jump like a reindeer ready for liftoff, with me firmly planted and just along for the ride. I let him have his way, and he turned, running again in the other direction. Back and forth we flew with a joy that few have known. Finally winded, he slowed then stopped; his sides heaving, nostrils flared and steam rising off his flanks.
He shook his head as if to say "This is what I was born to do!" and stomped in the snow before trotting back to the barn.
On cold winter nights if I step out into the moonlight and close my eyes, I can imagine myself back in the saddle. I can smell the warmth of Demon and remember how it felt to fly.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Einstein from birth to 9 weeks.

Just 9 weeks ago we had a litter of tiny Labradoodle puppies born. There were 12 of them and I got a little camera happy taking photos when they were 24 hrs old
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Over time I've tried to take pictures frequently to help show the steady progression and growth.
At 11 days: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

3 weeks:
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5 weeks:
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6 weeks:
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7 weeks:
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8 weeks:
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and 9.
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Mama and 4 of the remaining 5 boys at 9 weeks:
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Till eventually they will look like THIS: Although this handsome boy belongs to someone else.
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Quite a transformation isn't it? And usually accomplished in just over a years time. These dogs are amazing. I'm blessed to get to witness their growth up close.

Coming full circle

I never attended kindergarten, so started school as a first grader. I remember we were SO proud to learn that ours was the biggest class to ever attend Coral City Elementary. We had 3 Amish kids, 7 of us "English" and most of us were together through jr high, and some through graduation. The 10 of us in our 2 room school house made quite an impact!
Our nearest neighbor was about 1/4 mile away and they were an old couple. She was a sweet grandma type, and he was a grumpy old scrooge. Even my mother was half afraid of him.
They had raised 12 children, so had grandchildren my age. My current home sits on a corner of what was once their farm.

Coming back here to retire has been like completing a circle. When I dig to plant flowers, the soil is familiar to me. When I look down the road I see the school my father and I attended. Beyond that are the houses my grandfather built. One for himself, and one for my parents. This is truly HOME. There is no anonymity here... and we are never really alone. If the movie we want to rent is out, chances are if we ask, we will know the person who has it and could just drop in and watch it together. If our car breaks down on the way to town, before long someone we know will stop and offer a ride. This is community...people being there for each other. It does still exist.

I recently took an early retirement. My husband drives semi so is gone much of the time. If I get lonely, I simply go to town. My kids joke that I can never get out of the local grocery without stopping to speak with someone. Old teachers, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, or friends all shop there. We catch up on each others lives, share a laugh, and both feel better for the experience.

I have lived other places, but never better places. Even though I am the only one from my family to still live in the immediate area, I don't plan to ever leave. Of my 3 grown children, one feels the same way I do. He plans to make this his home. His fiance' came here to be with him, and she too has learned to love it and feels at home. She's gotten to know many through her jobs in retail and says she is glad to have ties AND friends in such a place.

My father died many years ago, but I know he would be proud that I have chosen HIS home as my own. He would love that his grandson plans to do the same. When he has children, they will be the 6th generation to be raised here. That's the great thing about circles... there is no end in sight.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Not breeding again until spring.

With winter coming, I don’t plan to have another litter of pups till spring. Wisconsin winters are too harsh for me to want to be out several times a day, and too harsh for a newborn litter of puppies to struggle through. My Dr tells me I should avoid being outside for any length of time when it’s below 20 degrees, so if I can’t handle it, I sure can’t expect babies to!

I’ve got extra food and antibiotics on hand for the dogs, an extra bale of wood shavings for bedding, first aid supplies, and if worse came to worse, would just bring the ones I have now all in the house with me. We could keep each other warm. A puppy pile is 101 degrees of love and warmth and I know my dogs well enough to be welcomed into the middle of it.

I have Moses, an apricot Standard Poodle male who is a house dog full time and thinks of himself as my shadow. He is a big baby, but surprises me occasionally with a big deep bark. He’s Daddy to my litters, but prefers to have the house to himself.

Canada, a Black Lab female who has big healthy beautiful Labradoodle pups with Moses. She’d always been an outdoor dog, so when I got her just a few months ago, she showed me that she had no idea of house manners, house training, and was quite a bull in a china shop when brought in. We built her a deluxe doggy duplex, a 32’ x 32’ dog run and bring her in only when we have time to spend with her. She’s a sweet mellow lab, but doesn’t know how to be a lady inside.

Lily is the runt pup of Canada and Moses’ doodle dozen litter that was born just 8 weeks ago. She’s white, angelic, and developed a kidney stone, so has been on medication,. A special diet, and will be with us for quite some time to get her back to health. We’ve accepted that we’re going to get too attached to her to let her go after all this special attention, so she’s living in Moses house (whether he likes it or not) and learning to be a house dog while she recuperates. She may get sold later, but it’s doubtful. I don’t think my heart could take it.

I’ve sold 6 of the doodle dozen so far. I have 5 males left, and many people checking out my Tinkerdoodle web site to check them out. The pups that have sold so far are doing wonderfully in their new homes, so I’ve been getting rave reviews from their new families which makes all my work worthwhile.

The cuties that are left, aren’t the lesser quality ones by any means. One thing you learn with Labradoodles is that they’re as unique as the people who love them. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and coat types. The most predictable thing about them is that they’re highly intelligent and have wonderful temperaments. The ones I have left to sell are cream, apricot, and white. They’re all starting to sprout the gorgeous doodle coats they’re so identified by, and I’m confident they’ll sell soon. It’s simply a matter of connecting with people who want a male of these colors. Until that happens, I get to enjoy them.

I would love to find another female to breed, but I will take my time since she has to be a good quality Lab with a mellow personality, great health, etc. I can’t compromise on any of these qualities since they will be reproduced. So between now and spring I will keep my eyes and ears open and when the time is right, I know she will come along.

Until then, I’ll just enjoy what I have and take a breather over winter. Come spring I’ll pick up the pace again.

Why my man won't carry my purse

Several years ago we had just entered Wal Mart when I realized I'd left my purse behind in the car and our only check book was in it. Hubby decided that he'd rather go get the purse than stand and wait for me while he tended 2 small children, so he dashed out to retrieve it for me. His longer legs would be quicker than my short ones anyway, so I agreed.

He made it out to the car, grabbed my purse, and was headed back to the store just as a carload of teen aged boys drove through the parking lot. The driver slowed down, stared at him, and in a very loud voice, announced to the others "Look at that fag in the cowboy hat carrying his purse!"

Hubbies face turned red... his pulse doubled... his temples throbbed, and if he'd have been wearing his six-guns, there'd have been a shootout right then and there! He glared, they sped off, and he half ran back to the store with the purse tucked under his arms where he hoped no one would see it. Entering the store, he saw us and literally THREW my purse at me. He was so mad he could hardly speak, but finally managed to tell me what had happened. I of course, being the loyal and supportive wife that I am, instantly got the giggles. Which just added to his fury.

We made it through the store and picked up most of what we'd come for, but hubby was mad as a wet hen and wanted nothing more than to get home. All the way home, he sat in stony silence glaring at everything and nothing. Every few minutes I would start to giggle again, which just made it worse. I really couldn't help it. It's like when you're in church and you know you should be solemn and respectful but someone does something dumb and it's ten times funnier than normal just because it's totally taboo. Once you start, it just gets away from you!

So here we are 15 yrs later and hubby still won't carry my purse. If I happen to forget it, he tells me that I can go get it myself. Short legs and all. ;)

Mortified by a 2 yr old

When my youngest child was 2, we took her and her 4 yr old brother to Pizza Hut. Naturally, since she was recently toilet trained, she insisted on checking out the bathroom before we went to our booth. So hubby took brother to find a table and I took little sis to see the bathroom decor.
When we came back out, Hubby and big bro were seated across the room waiting for us.
Between us and them was quite a crowd of people working their way through the room and slowing us down. So being a typical 2 yr old, my little darling reached up and patted the person ahead of us on the butt, trying to get through.

Just as HE turned to the right to see who was copping a feel of his backside, SHE darted left and ran to her Daddy leaving me to stand there alone; looking guilty as sin. He of course assumed that I had patted his fanny; went to his table and shared this news with his female companion. I didn't even bother to try to defend myself, because I had been caught red handed (and faced) even though it was circumstantial and totally unfounded!

So I got to my family, told hubby what had happened, and his guffaws filled the dining room for the rest of the meal. Meanwhile, I had daggers being glared into my skull by the woman whose mans' buns got patted. Our little darling is now 19, and to this day that story comes up every time we go to Pizza Hut. Some things you just never quite live down. blush

First snow of the season

We had snow and sleet today with 50 mph winds; Mother Natures' warning to us that she's beefing up for what's to come. The ground's too warm for the snow to last, but it's not too warm to snow, so eventually the ground will cool off and the snow will settle in for the winter as well.

I am like an old bear.
I know the Wisconsin winters. Have lived through enough of them to know what's required of me if I want to survive and be comfortable. My freezer and pantry are stocked. I have fuel for heat and lanterns. I have batteries for the flashlights. I have 24 rolls of toilet paper. (Something I NEVER want to run out of!) I have evaporated and powdered milk so I can at least cook even if the jug goes empty. I have frozen bread dough so we can have sandwiches. I have cans of soup, packets of tea, cider, hot chocolate mix and an extra canister of coffee. I will not starve or go thirsty.

I have an extra blanket and my quilts on the beds. My winter clothes are out and ready to be wore. I bought a pair of polar fleece pajamas with pants and an extra pair of big warm slippers.
I now have my medications delivered by mail, and order them early so I always have plenty on hand.

I have bought totes so if my electricity goes out, I can put my food in them in the garage and it will stay frozen. I have stockpiled pet food, payed ahead on the natural gas, and have the snowblower and shovels ready for whatever may come. There's antifreeze in the car, books yet to be read, and good warm coats, caps, and gloves in the closet. We just added insulation to the house, sealed the roof, and wrapped the water pipes. All in all, I think we're prepared. As much as one can be anyway.

If worse comes to worse I will call all the dogs and make myself part of a puppy pile. 101 degrees of warm love and furry cuddles will always save the day.

Some dread winter, and head south like the birds. Others of us, like old bears, settle in; ready and willing to hibernate and ride it out until spring arrives.