Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Saturday to remember...

Here she is one year older~~~~...still a charmer with sparkling eyes and a smile that lights up a room.


This is what I've been busy with for the past few days, taking as many photos of this little lady as possible.
Well, she loves the camera and gosh if she isn't good at it too.

Her favorite thing to do while she was here?

Draw, draw, draw.
I have lovely pictures drawn by her.

She also is a *kidder* with a wonderful sense of humor.
I really didn't want her to go.
It was tough enough having to work straight midnight to 8AM shifts while she was here and try to have plenty of time to visit.

Saturday was a toughie. I was SO tired when I got together with the whole family. But Ariel, Dennis, and Lily hit it off like old pros.

Unfortunately, I had a shift to do and had to bow out and hit the sack to sleep before my night morning shift.

But it was a memorable moment.
Three Grandchildren all together in one place at the SAME time!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So What is Thanksgiving??? Really?

There is a definition for it. It eludes is supposed to be about pilgrims and indians and such...but modern day has turned it into something else...

When my kids were little and Larry was on duty, we had the most exotic Thanksgiving dinners possible.
One year while we lived on Elder Court the kids wanted Hotdogs. And hotdogs is was. Yummy...we spread out a blanket and made it into a picnic.
So simple.
Me and the boys.

Thanksgiving means to me getting together and having a nice meal with immediate family. To me that was my kids, my hubby, and the dogs.
WHAT??? You say???
What kind of Thanksgiving is that???

Well it was...peaceful.
Not a lot of dishes.
...and everyone got to do pretty much as they wished. The kids would play [or fight occasionally], I'd go for a walk with the dogs, or we'd go out and play in the fresh air.

As a child my Thanksgivings were a mad crush of relatives all crowding into a house with tables and chairs scattered all over. Food fights with cousins were occasional entertainment until an adult stopped it.
One time my sister poured half a container of salt and pepper on her squash--she detested squash and hoped it would be declared un-edible.
Mom came into the 'kids' room and tried to make her eat it.

My sister led the barf brigade. We laughed. But her trick worked and she was never forced into squash again. [or was it my brother that did that??? my memory is fuzzy, but it was sure funny at the time]

Soon we graduated away from the BIG 12 hour drive to have a big family Thanksgiving. Things got a little more peaceful then.
It was just us ... our family, and of course the dogs.
We ate, we then did things all day that we felt like doing.

No squash barfing, no food tossing...
We spent the day goofing off, after helping with the cleanup of course.

Now as an adult I find myself being tossed back into the big family Thanksgiving again.
Okay, not a problem.
But I do think the kids ought to have their own room where they can have some good ol' fashioned food tossing. Perhaps even one of them will think to pull the salt and pepper trick on the yucky food they have been served.
Then the kids ought to dress up and head out to play ...

My aunts and uncles always shooed us kids out for fresh air. I think it was so they could talk adult talk while we were out of ear shot.
It was the playing with cousins that I liked best.

Well tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
Stay tuned to see what happens!

No squash barfing brigade.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Last night I got off at midnight and headed for home in our first real snowfall.

Yes, it was quite slippery and the snow was coming down so hard it was hard to see where the road was.

[This is my gravel road...I turn at that bright yellow spot, this was the only place I dared to stop and take a picture!]

Sort of a white knuckle drive. Although I think it could have been worse if there was a lot of traffic on the road. I of course drove sensibly and took my time. After all, who else is out there hogging the road at that time?

I awoke this morning to a beautiful winter landscape. I'll be out in it later today to enjoy it.
Today is my the beginning of my weekend, so I'm lounging a bit this morning.

Last night I was asked by my sarge if I'd consider full time if it was offered. I did say that I would have to take it under consideration and learn more about the full time schedule and how it works, along with the insurance and other benefits. He then asked me if I'd consider an NSO position. This is a step up in pay of $5 an hour. I'd be silly to turn that down.

I completed all of the company's testing and finished my final Saturday night with a 100% score. This makes me 'senior' to the other person that was hired at the same time.

Well that is all work related and not very interesting.

But I may get to go out riding today!
Yahoo! No one will be on the neighbor's 300+ acres of land. I'll be dressing Opal in orange and 'driving' up deer.
If nothing else, it'll be fun to photograph!
Have a sweet Monday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dad and Music

It was a dad thing. Dad loved music, but not rock n' roll, country, and other popular music. He loved classical, Hawaiian, Mexican, Slack String Guitar...
Well you get the drift.

Last night while 'on duty' I pulled out a CD from my backpack to take out to the guard house for some late night listening.
One of the other guards asked what kind of music I liked. I smiled and told him ... anything just about [except perhaps hard screaming rock and rap music].

Later on, with not much to do [my paperwork done], I watched out the window and listened to music and reflected on how I learned to appreciate more than just rock n' roll and country.

As a kid I can recall dad putting a record of Classical music on the turntable. One time ... he offered me his head phones and told me as I grimaced at the thought of 'boring' music, that I had to

*Close your eyes and see if you can find the story in the music*

I recall myself sitting cross legged on the polished wood floor of the living room, using both hands to hold up dad's heavy ear phones...eyes closed, conjuring up mythical creatures and horses [of course horses...every little girl imagines herself galloping away on a horse!].

It was then that I discovered that music could take you anywhere you wished to go and what a wonderful escape it was.

From then on, I never listened to music ... instrumental, quite the same again.

So you can listen... and you can imagine...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Oly Camera...

I went down to the creek yesterday to just do some *chillin* before going to work. Morris of course went with me.

We enjoyed sitting out of the wind and the quiet music of the creek. It was very relaxing to sit there and just NOT think of anything.

We shared some snacks....and he did his dog~thing running around smelling and of course *watering* all the important rocks.

I took some pictures with my handy dandy pocket camera whose time is coming to an end. The memory card slot doesn't always work. Sometimes it takes a bit of gentle tapping to be able to take a photo.
But the Olympus Stylus 410 has been with me for 4 years. It has taken literally thousands of great photos for me.
Nothing like having a 'camera' on you at all times.
It has withstood more than the company had advertized. Yes it has its limitations as a point and shoot camera, but some ... no... many of my very best photos have been taken with it.

I've had 4 magazine covers published with photos from this little camera. Professionals seem to pooh pooh the power of these little pocket cameras.
But it is far easier to drop a camera into your pocket or into a pouch on your belt and climb through the woods ... than try to carry an SLR along with a tripod!

And whoops, dropping it isn't a disaster. Yes, I've done that too.

I am looking to stay with Olympus to replace it in the future. I really hate to let this old friend go.
Jiggle, smack, open, close...sigh. Viola! I can take a picture!

I am considering replacing it with an Olympus Stylus 1030 SW. I searched and drooled over SLR's but kept coming back to a camera that is waterproof, freeze proof, and shock proof. Something that will take my everyday hikes and rides and survive like the 410 did.
If I had my choice I'd have a new SLR AND a point and shoot.

But I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Right now, I can get my old camera to work...still.
It will become an emergency when it know it will!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh My My

My November has been interesting so far.

Last night as I sat in the guard house somewhere around 10PM ... I began to notice that the chain on the green shaded lamp was jiggling.
It was the power from the Turbine...the Power Plant turbine.
My two way radio antenae fact the whole building was vibrating.

My supervisor explained to me that it was the 'monster' turbine that caused things to vibrate and pointed out that I wouldn't notice it so much during the daytime as so much was going on.

I felt the rumble throughout my body...
What power...Power Plant indeed.

The wind whipped up in gusts over 30 mph, dust obliterated the truck sitting in front of the guard house and an eerie whistle moaned through the windows.
I wondered for a few moments what it would be like to sit in the 'shack' during the middle of a viscious blizzard.
I imagine my chances of doing so are fairly good.

When the trains go by...the blow their horns. I was told I'd get sick of them, and I may, but they are a welcome distraction in the middle of the night.
By the way, the do go too fast for me to 'count' the cars'.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Night songs

Last night we spent some time in the cold cold cold woods. We were trying out a dog on 'loan'. A coon hunting dog named Rebel. We had tried a dog named 'Juice' who was young and showed some promise from the same fellow who is loaning us Rebel.
But Juice didn't have the Juice. He wouldn't bark up a tree and sing a song.

I guess that is one of the reasons I like going out hunting at night when the temps are 10* and the wind is blowing through you, chilling you to the bone.
I like to hear the night songs of a hound on a tree.

Besides it is great exercise and fun to try and locate a dog in the the rough terrain.
Of course we have lights, but half the fun is getting there.

Unfortuneatly for Rebel, last night he was 'tricked' by the racoon who had left scent on the trees but have vacated the area.
He found us 'slick' trees. Which means nothing was hiding in the branches.

But I still enjoyed the evening.
Cold windburned face, cold toes and fingers...but hey,
I got to hear
the night song...
Rebel has a pretty voice...
Okay, I liked it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Once upon a time...again

Well I've been thinking about it since last year on July 13th when I traveled to Kenosha to watch my oldest son run a half marathon.
I recalled how fun it running was, but that I really wasn't a marathoner, nor was I a half marathoner.

My distance of favor was a 5k or 3.1 miles. The area I live in now doesn't really have the opportunities I had when I lived in the suburbs of Chicago for competition and distance racing.

But the other night I decided that I needed a goal. I needed to get my body back into better shape, especially my shoulders and my elbows.

Ed pictured here:

Ed had suggested that I come back in 2009 and do the 5k race. Of course he will be doing the half marathon. But he planted a seed of 'inspiration' in the back of my mind.

This little voice kept saying...'Why not?'
This other one kept saying...'You are silly!'
And I decided to challenge the doubting voice.

You will notice that the photo of me is from 1986...eeeeks.

But today I started out again. I took the first steps. I ran to the tobacco shed [1/4 of a mile?] and back home.
I didn't push it because first, I'd forgotten how to dress for running in the cold. I got TOO hot too quickly.
But the strides came naturally and it FELT really fine. Yes it did.

Morris liked it too, he ran with me.

So begins another journey back to the races.
Gosh, I'm even psyched.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Color my world today...

I just got home from a midnight to 8AM stretch.
I had a blast.
At 5 after midnight a 'bottom ash' truck driver came in.

He was a smarty pants and knew of course that I was a new kid on the block.
Me: *Name sir?*
Him: *Dick Tracey*
Me: *You look more like hmmm....*
Him: *John Wayne?*
Me [catching on now]: *I was going to say Batman...but I think ... Elmer Fudd!*

Him [Big HUGE Grin]: *Can't fool you huh? Jeff is the name and I give everyone grief!*

A note about Fly Ash and Bottom Ash and how it is recycled in a coal powered plant:

'A byproduct of coal pulverization is fly ash. Heavier
particles, bottom ash or slag, fall to the bottom of the
burning chamber and the lighter ash particles, fly ash,
remain suspended in the exhaust gases. These fly ash
particles are removed by the electrostatic
Dairyland has taken proactive measures to recycle
this ash residue. Nearly all of the bottom ash is
recycled and used to help build rural township roads.
The bottom ash acts as a strengthener for the road
base and is then covered with a paved surface such
as asphalt seal coat or concrete.
Likewise, nearly all of the fly ash is recycled for such
uses as an additive for cement and concrete blends.'

Anyway I had a fun 'day' at work, enjoyed meeting some folks I hadn't worked with yet and was pleasantly surprised at how everyone helped each other out.

When I left this morning my Captain asked how it was going. I gave him the thumbs up...cuz you really is going.

I watched the sun lighten the skies over the bluffs that oversee the Mississippi river. I enjoyed myself even while standing in the cold and checking in construction workers.

Now how crazy is that???

By the way, I'm making a trip to Cabelas tonight to get some more of those silk sock liners and some high tech long johns.

Oh I like staying toasty warm while at work.
Well it looks like it is time for me to take a nap so I can get on with my day.
These funky shifts put your biological clock out of whack.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I love my dog..

How cute is he?
Poor guy is so confused with my new work schedule...Friday night he panicked when I left at 11PM to go to work.
Hubby said he ran around the house barking and whining like a nut case. He thought Morris would come to his senses and go sleep on the couch like usual where I leave him my old sweatshirt to cuddle with.
Nope, he was not happy.

When I got home Saturday morning he was beside himself, wiggling, then taking off and running madly around the house.
One thing I CAN say about the little fellow...he is fantastically entertaining.

And he is a great 'napper'.
Around 10AM, I decided to go to bed to get my sleep from the shift I'd just done. I crawled under the covers, and shut the bedroom door to just a wee crack.
No sooner did my head hit the pillow...did I feel this warm furry body slide along my back. Then I heard a big sigh.

And both of us went to sleepy land.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Planning for our Christmas

I know it is early to talk about this...but I'm going to anyway.

Everyone seems fascinated with the events of today. No one of course is immune. People are afraid for their jobs.

The little mom and pop specialty stores on our Main Street who struggled before this economy are struggling harder now.

Will they make it the year?

I don't know.

People I've talked to are not spending money unless it is on something they need. Everyone is cutting back. Christmas may be more like Christmas was intended to be this year.

The gifts will be more heartfelt and not 'just unthoughtful spending' least in our family.

And why not?

Why not get back to a more meaningful Christmas, not a Christmas where everyone shops like mad to impress their family and friends.

What is wrong with jellies and jams, homemade breads, or little treats?
Or...Gosh, what about just getting the family together for a nice meal?
[NO reader, I have NOT forgotten Thanksgiving...but the stores are chock full of Christmas stuff already and it really aggravates me!]

That brings up the subject of Thanksgiving...well, I will address that in another post okay???

Work and play

Well I'm done with training and started the 'real deal' on Wednesday night. I got called back to work on Thursday morning and worked yesterday's busy shift in ever changing weather.
I'm sure the picture above may imply that my job is terribly boring. I can guarantee that it is not.
I have reports to fill out on the night shifts and all sorts of busy work.
The day shift is chocked full of activity in comparison...tonight I work the midnight to 8AM shift. Things are fairly quiet on that shift except in the early morning when construction workers come in.
Yes, I like it.
Yesterday I covered a day shift ... it was my first day with so many things going on and I was tickled when one of my supervisors who does things 'by the book' seemed pleased at my 'catching on' quickly.

One of the things I need to do it get a collection of music for those nights I have to spend 2 hours at a time by myself at 'the gate'.

That's one of the things I need to make a list of and burn off onto CD.
While searching today I came across this old classic from Mason Williams, Classical Gas:

Well, while the sun is giving a peek at us, I'm going to put on my mud bogging boots and get outside for some fresh air.
Then take a good 'afternoon' nap and see what the 'late-early' shift is like.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just some more fun...

Kids books.
Well I always wanted to write one, so here is my chance at writing quite freely in the form I want and combining it with photography.
I can combine two of the things I really love into one project.
And I have NO fear of a rejection slip from the publisher because it is a self published book.

Right now I am using Blurb for my books. I'm pretty happy with it, except I'm looking to have some more variety with my page layouts.
I've read the BlurbForum and there are useful hints and helps to do a layout yourself in the form of a PDF file.
Yikes. That might be a bit technical for me.

Maybe one day I can grab theses individual little 'bed time' adventure books and put them in a larger book with chapters.
Let the fun begin...
It started with
Crazy Squirrel and Happy Hedgehog's Farm Adventure
has progressed to
The Big Woods...

These characters have already plotted their next adventure...

Another Crazy and H...
By Val Ewing

Sunday, November 09, 2008

When the weather gets yucky...

We go out to play.

Okay well I was outside yesterday when suddenly the urge to ride just took hold. I hollered to my muddy mule and asked if he'd like to go for a ride.

Badger trotted down through the mud and met me at the gate.
I ran my fingers over his back and brushed some mud off him. I really didn't have enough time to curry, brush, and saddle him up.
We had to go to my mother in law's for supper.

I put his bridle on and grabbed a 5 gallon bucket. The wind was cold and damp and bits of icey snow fell from the sky.
I put my hood up over my stocking cap and did a bucket mount.
I told my hubby that I was just going for a little jaunt in the woods and I'd be back in plenty of time to get ready for supper at Mom's.

Now it has been a long time since I've ridden bareback. I did it last winter when the snow was deep.
But I've never ridden Badger in the woods bareback, basically because the ground is so steep in areas, that I figured I'd slide right off his back if we climbed a steep ravine.
[Plus, I am so short, and Badger is SO tall! I would need to find a good stump if I got off him in the woods.]
I decided to have fun and brave it out anyway.
Yep, a little.

The world was overcast and the woods brown and gloomy.
But the air felt fresh and wonderful, and I felt very much alive.

Badger was feeling good too because he didn't dawdle like he normally does, instead he walked out and trotted on occasion.
We even loped through the valley.

I kept my eye on the time and headed through the woods, doing a bit of brush busting to get back in time as I'd promised.
That meant climbing some steep trails.
I was grateful that Badger was not sporting a summer haircut and that there was about 2" of mane for me to grab onto as we climbed in and out of steep ravines.

As I rode into the yard, the snow was coming down in a sleet-like form.
And of course I was grinning like some idiot.
The weather was horrible and yucky...
and I'd gone riding.

Just call me nuts.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Well it had to come up you know.
How are today's economics affecting you???

Well here are some of the things we've done to combat today's economics.
First, if we don't need it~~it isn't purchased.

New jeans? Well patch the old ones. Don't wear the 'good' ones unless you are going to town. Keep the patched ones for working on the farm.
Well for men's pants anywhere from $15 at Walmart to $30 for a pair of Wranglers.

Long this is a funny one. Hubby went to an estate sale a month or so ago and bought a box of goodies.
He paid $2 for this box that contained.
Long underwear not used...size XXL.
A heavy duty set if coveralls with a hood...perfect condition.
An insulated sweatshirt with a broken zipper.

My Frugal~nomics method???
Put new elastic in the long johns= .50 [cost for new pair?...$10...savings= $9.50]
Broken zipper? Okay this was hard, I've never done a zipper. $1.32 for the zipper + aggravation = $1.32 for a new thermal sweatshirt with hoodie.
Cost in the store new?
$32 at TSC.

If it can be fixed, it will be.

Cooking Frugal~nomics.
Hubby paid $24 for a deer hunting license. The first day of the special season we gained 80lbs of usable meat.

Well you do the math there.

I just got a job with a Security company.
Work clothes and winter gear= and investment of my part of $0.00.

Soup is great for cold weather.
Make a huge pot of soup, chili, or a meal that can give you leftovers...yeah everyone doesn't like leftovers.
But they come in handy as a lunch, an extra meal...and they extend the budget.

Reuse, recycle your clothes, and be ever watchful for buying groceries.


Yep, I'm the queen of that.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday thoughts

Well I passed all my certifications and testing last night, so today I become an official 'watch person'.
I do like my job. The hours will take getting used to as my first scheduled shifts will be midnight to 8AM. But I knew that when hired.
Last night as I 'certified' on my patrol [which won't be a normal part of my job], my sergeant commented on my ability to be told something and retain information.
Most of my training was verbal and we could take notes, but had to leave them at work.
I told him that I found the training part really fun and challenging to learn a whole new language and new type of job.

The nice part of this job is that I can also have time being home and work with my mules. I also have a good chance for advancement further down the line.

On other thoughts...
I read the news stories today and things are looking pretty glum all over the place.
It looks like our President Elect has some serious work cut out for him. But also the American people have some tough times to face.

I recall my father telling about the hard times he went through during the depression and prohibition [his stories were always amusing and still bring a smile to my face today].
Mom taught me how to be frugal, and I've embraced that fairly well.

Hmmm, so why was I drooling over a catalog I recieved in the mail that had the newest ... latest... and greatest digital cameras???
Well; one can dream right?

I am full of dreams.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The day before elections of 2008

Rise and shine, the alarm goes off in the wee hours of the morning.
Jump in the shower and get squeaky clean while the coffee maker gurgles and spews fresh coffee.
Take inventory of the lunch items I've packed.
This is what Viroqua looks like in the wee hours of the morning.

I am interested in the election. Yet I really don't express my opinions much. Especially being a new kid on the block at fact I avoided talking about it, kept my mouth shut, and listened.

It was interesting to have a co-worker approach me and ask me who I was voting for.
I told him that I didn't discuss who I vote for with anyone, not even my spouse...that I felt it was my right to keep that information to myself.
I also said that as a norm I did not discuss politics and religion.

My co-worker then showed me something he'd printed off a public bulletin board that slammed Obama and a particular bill he'd voted on regarding hunting, the second amendment, and NRA.

I simply replied that anyone can write anything they want to on the internet, but had he, my co-worker, looked up the bill in question or the wording...or who voted on it and how they voted?
He said he had not.

I simply asked him to be an informed person and not depend on someone's written words that were not backed by evidence.
I didn't offer an opinion but asked the co-worker to do his own research on issues he was concerned on for both candidates.
We talked for a while and the co-worker and I had a nice lunch together.

Tomorrow morning I will join many others in casting my vote, exercising my American rights and anxiously await the results.
Yes I am pretty excited about it.
I think we'll be watching history in one form or another in the making.

And nope, I won't tell you, reader, who I voted for either.
But you have a wonderful day and go out and cast your vote.
Eagle sunset

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Today's Thoughts...

November 1st.
Is it already November?

Daylight Savings Time ... Fall Behind.

Three weeks until the 9 day gun Deer Hunting Season begins.
Let's not Forget Thanksgiving!!!
Who in the heck put all those Christmas Decorations out already...HUH???
Like when did Christmas come before Thanksgiving???

What does this all mean?
Well~~~ winter is peeking around the corner.

It means that driving to work could get interesting like it was last year...
Wisconsin Driving

Gosh, I certainly HOPE not.

Today was a day of getting things 'winter' ready around the farm. Mending the 'winter' pasture fences and checking that the tank water heaters worked.
We put Eddie and Thor, our two weaned jack donkeys together.

We considered special arrangements for Cheyenne for this winter as she is pregnant. She has some age on her but nothing that should harm her. We decided to make sure she gets top treatment this winter so we can have a healthy mom and mule foal this spring.

Other than that, pretty boring as days go.
Tomorrow I will be in training for 8 hrs. Yes, I work a job that doesn't distinguish weekends from regular days.
Once I get some sort of schedule nailed down ... this after my Security License comes through and my special training is complete...
Well ... Hmmm.
I guess my schedule may be an ever changing one.

This is good too, as it will keep things *hopping* for me.